A/N 3: Want to hear the awful joke that inspired this?
So a teacher is running through the daily geography vocabulary words. She comes across Rotterdam, a city in the Netherlands.
"Johnny?" she asks, "Can you use 'Rotterdam' in a sentence?"
Johnny looks at her, before a scowl crosses his face, "My sister stole all my Halloween candy- I hope she rot 'er damn teeth out,"
I Hope You Rot Your Damn Teeth Out
I thought about you all day long today
It really sucks being here without you ;)
Dinner at the Granger's was a cheerful, warm affair one evening in early July as the sickly sweet smell of Carmel and obesity drifted in through the windows from a park just across the road. The rich, mahogany dining table on which rested a glorious feast had been extended in the muggle fashion to include places for three special guests.
It was the summer of '97, and Mr. and Mrs. Granger had urged their daughter to invite her friends to stay with them for a few weeks over the holidays. Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, and Hermione's boyfriend, Ron Weasley, had arrived shortly after the end of term and Mr. and Mrs. Granger had taken an immediate liking to all three of them.
The younger Weasley looked around at the other faces at the table with a smile. There was Hermione, who was holding Ron's hand and scolding him for saying something stupid. There was Ron, who was saying something stupid, and digging himself deeper into a whole by trying to back himself up,
"No, seriously, can you see McGonagall in that outfit!"
Ginny didn't think she wanted to know what they were talking about. Then there were Mr. and Mrs. Granger, who were watching Hermione and Ron with knowing smiles on their faces. As was inevitable, Ginny's gaze fell on the black-haired boy across the table from her. He caught her eye and rolled his eyes at Ron and Hermione, and they laughed. Harry was her friend, but it was complicated. She didn't know what made it complicated, because they really were friendly, and they cared about one another a great deal, but somehow they had never fallen into that easy place of friendship. The past few days had been the worst. Ginny kept catching him staring at her at odd times, though she was determined to think nothing of it... She was over him, that's all there was to it.
"Ginny, come on, we're going to go down and watch the muggle fireworks,"
Ginny's face flushed when she noticed that Hermione and her parents had begun clearing the table already while Ginny had been staring off into space thinking about Harry. This had to stop.
It was late that night when Ginny walked down the hall from the kitchen in her nightdress, her water glass in hand, trying to stop her heart from racing. She felt stupid, being sixteen years old and still being afraid of the dark, but she couldn't help it. She reckoned she probably egged it on, despite herself. It was like trying not to think about something, the harder you tried, the more you failed. She'd be walking along in the dark, completely at ease, and then she would notice, with no small amount of pride, that she wasn't scared at all. And from there she would start to think of all the things that never failed to terrify her. Having no control… being lost inside your home or your head, not knowing what you're doing. Actually, she didn't mind the dark so much, it was the thought of turning on the lights that made her heart pound. The dark was ignorance, and ignorance was bliss, but when she turned on the lights to see what she had stepped on- that was the moment she had to face her fears.
Ginny jumped and sloshed water all down her front. The voice came out from Harry's room and she doubled back as Harry flicked on the light beside his bed. Her eyes watered at the blinding lamp but she did her best to look at him. What she saw surprised her. Harry's face was just a little bit pink and she noticed with an indignant smile that he was staring at her chest. The little pervert!
"Er- what are you doing up?" he asked.
"Er- what are you doing up?" he asked.
That was a stupid question, was it not a bit obvious?
"I was thirsty," she said, gesturing to the now half-empty glass.
"Oh," he said lamely.
"What are you doing up? It's almost three o'clock,"
"Couldn't sleep," he mumbled, massaging the back of his neck with his hands.
"Did you have a nightmare?"
Ginny stepped into his room and shut the door behind her, taking a seat on the chair by the writing desk as she tried not to stare at his chest, which was, needless to say, bare. And lovely. She pursed her lips at him.
"What's been bothering you? Is it-"
"No," he said, seemingly certain that whatever she might have guessed was incorrect. She waited patiently before speaking, as if paying respect to his reply.
"You seem really miserable lately, you know. You look like you could use a good dream to take your mind off whatever it is that's got you all hot and bothered, that always helps me," her lips curved into a smile, but froze when he glared back at her, "Then again I've heard you don't have too many of those,"
He looked at her intensely, and something in him seemed to snap.
"Well I don't dream at all since I quit sleeping- and I haven't slept since I woke up and noticed you!"
Ginny could hardly believe her ears, was that… his way of saying he fancied her! This couldn't be.
"Fred and George are here somewhere, I'm sure of it," she thought incredulously. As the truth slowly seeped in, Ginny became aware of how much it had cost Harry to admit this. She suspected that his face had turned redder than the Gryffindor common room, but she couldn't be sure, as he had buried it in his hands and was writhing ever so slightly as if he wanted to die from the humiliation. She smiled at him; he really was adorable.
"Why Harry, that was almost sweet,"
His voice was muffled and thoroughly miserable,
"Yeah? I hope you rot your damn teeth out!"
Ginny bit her lip and let out a single breath of laughter, before gaining control of her smile and looking at him seriously…sort of.
"Shh, there are dentists in the next room,"
She was just beginning to chuckle at her own joke when his head snapped up and his burning gaze and killed the wicked smile on her face.
"Not funny? Okay," she stood and walked over to his bed and sat down next to him.
Whoa, bad idea! She still needed to think about the situation and having a half naked Harry in such close proximity was highly distracting, but it was as though his sheets were made of flypaper, and she stayed put.
"Harry, you're tired," she sighed, looking softly at him as common sense and reality came crashing down on her. She was over him; she really was.
As morbid as the metaphor was, her feelings for him were like cancer, slowly eating away at her, before healthy doses of Michael and Dean had wiped them from her body. And yet… if she ever let herself regress, she would be hopelessly in love with him for the rest of her life. No, she had to be over him, and so she took a deep breath and put on her very best brave face.
"Well, I think now that you've got it off your chest, you should be able to get some sleep, you just needed some closure, that's all. When you wake up everything will be okay," she took his hand in hers, and grazed her thumb across his knuckles comfortingly, though she herself was feeling anything but comforted.
She firmly squashed the tiny faction of herself that gained sick satisfaction from rejecting him. This was not retribution for all that she'd been through; it wasn't enough. Harry didn't really fancy her, he was just lonely and randy, the poor bloke. Hadn't she caught him staring at her chest?
But he wasn't staring at her chest now, he was staring straight into her eyes with the hurt exposed in his in a rare moment of vulnerability.
"Ginny, I don't think you get it, I really-"
"You don't want to fancy me," she said quickly and softly, swallowing the lump in her throat as best she could, "Selfish as it sounds, it wouldn't be fair to me. You just haven't agonized over this long enough- you shouldn't. You've got the world to save, you can't be worried about breaking the freckly little girl's heart. I guess it's really not fair to you either. I would only bring you down," Ginny kept talking, not really sure whether or not he was hearing a word of it, "You don't want to get bogged down with me,"
There was a long silence, in which Ginny fought an internal battle.
This was best- she knew it. He didn't really want to be with her; he would close up in a moment, retreat inside himself and fester in his own sorrow until he decided to stop; it was just his way.
Then why was he looking at her like that? She wanted to scream from the pain that the look on his face inflicted her. Why did this hurt so badly? It wasn't supposed to be that way; she had to get out of there.
"Harry, you need to sleep," she stood quietly and lingered for only a moment before bidding him goodnight. With cat-like tread she made her way to Hermione's room, where she was relieved to find that the other girl was alone and Ron was still in his bed on the pull-out sofa. As she climbed back into her sleeping bag, she tried to clear the last few minutes from her mind, her own words echoing in her head,
"You don't want to get bogged down with me,"
With a small sob, Ginny found herself wishing more dearly than she ever had in her life that she was wrong.
In the days to come, Harry did as Ginny had predicted and retreated into his shell. Normally, she would have pulled him out of it somehow, but she found herself avoiding him almost as determinedly as he was her. Hermione had noticed, of course, and had questioned her about it, but Ginny had been frustratingly vague and indiscriminant.
She liked to think that she was moving on nicely, and that Harry's confession had merely been a small wrinkle in her big plans of independence, but the fact of the matter was that while she had given Harry some rather painful closure, she had gotten none for herself. She knew that it was just an infatuation on his part, that he had probably felt the same way about Hermione at some point, and that he would thank her some day when he met that perfect girl (she winced at this), but she couldn't help but wonder if perhaps she had missed her chance.
What was she talking about, she didn't even want a chance, did she? She was over him.
But she had to know. She had seized her moment one afternoon a few days later when the four of them had gone down to the carnival for the third time since arriving. Ginny had casually brought up the subject of Harry and whether or not he had ever been attracted to Hermione when she and the other girl were in a Ferris Wheel car to themselves. Hermione had looked repulsed by the idea, and had inadvertently filled Ginny with restless doubt.
She was sitting on the front porch at the Grangers one evening in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, wondering what muggle carnival workers did when it rained. Did the whole carnival just shut down? She pondered this as she gazed blankly out at the rain.
It was pouring down so heavily on the roof that Ginny did not hear the sounds of footsteps approaching the veranda, and such was her position that she didn't see a black haired man coming towards her, and she nearly choked on her tootsie roll at the impatient fist rattling the thin screen door.
"Ginny!" called Harry hoarsely.
She stood up and tied the robe of her dressing gown tighter as she went over to unhook the latch and open the door to let him in. Where he had been, she didn't know, as the carnival could not possibly have been veryfun in a thunderstorm.
There he stood in the threshold, water trickling through the mop of messy black hair, his eyes noticeably green even in the dim, blue light of midsummer dusk. He was breathtaking. For a moment neither of them said a word as lightning crashed in the distance, illuminating them for a few brief moments. Ginny didn't know what she was anticipating, but she didn't have to wait long before Harry spoke in a voice that was honest and unadorned,
"I want to get bogged down with you."
She inhaled a thin, wispy gasp that was barely audible, as her heart began to beat faster and faster.
"I want to get all screwed up and confused with you," he choked a moment, "Because... I can't possibly do this by myself--there won't even be a life after the war for me if you don't--if you're not around all the time."
By now her heart was pounding so fiercely that it felt like her veins were chugging the blood much too fast, and with each beat her whole body shook.
"I feel stupid, because you've known it all along and I've been stupid and blind, but please Ginny, I get it now. I know I've been trying to push you away for years, but now I've succeeded I know I was wrong. And I know I've had about a million shots that I've already blown, and I'm sorry, but please, please don't be over me. I'm just an idiot--you've got to help me out, Ginny."
The joy she felt coursing through her killed any trace of doubt in her mind. She felt laughter, glorious laughter, bubbling up from that place beneath her ribcage where she'd always reckoned her soul lived. It was perfect, and uncomplicated, just as she had always dreamt it would be. She had regressed--she had fallen back in love again, and she knew that this time, she wouldn't ever have to fall back out.