Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
A/N: Some angst ahead, beware. And don't hate me on this one, you'll get your happy ending!
Also, there are some concepts here that Rowling portrait in her books differently than the way I did. It's all because I started this story before HBP came out, so I'm sticking the universe and the version that I'd built in my head.
Chapter 19 – Until Death Do Us Part:
Harry rested his head on his bedroom windowsill back in their house at Godric's Hollow, looking outside the steamed up glass and thought that everything outside looked completely lifeless. The morning sky was a dull gray, not even casting down a fleck of snow or a drop of rain; the wind had not blown in hours; not one soul was to be seen outside, not even birds nestling on tree branches or people coming out of their houses on their way to work.
Everything had turned gray and still and silent. The world seemed to be so much different now.
He never thought that losing someone he cared about will make him feel so... empty. Life seemed to have no meaning anymore. What was the point of living if people got hurt and killed, and all because of him and his mistakes?
Harry sighed dejectedly and closed his eyes against the stream of images that flooded his mind; images of that damned day of the battle in the streets of Hogsmeade that he wanted so much to seal away somewhere and never see again.
He wiped his face with the sleeve of his shirt and sniffed. There was a soft knock on the door behind him, but he ignored it, still looking outside the window at the motionless street outside.
The door opened slightly and he heard someone walking inside and stopping to stand just behind him. Harry didn't bother to turn around to see which one of his parents had walked into his room. The heavy footfalls must be his father's, he assumed.
"You've got to stop this moping thing," his father's voice called from behind. Harry silently nodded to himself in appreciation for his good guess. "It's not good for you."
Harry simply shrugged his shoulders indifferently, still not bothering to turn and look at his father's eyes.
James sighed. "Look, it's been two days since you came back home and you barely left your room. Your mother is worried about you. If you don't care about yourself, then at least do her the favor and join us at the table."
"I'm not hungry," Harry muttered quietly in return, his eyes glued on the patches of snow that remained on the grass outside from the day before.
"I wasn't asking," James said sternly. "You don't have to eat anything, just sit down with us. Show your mother that you're doing better."
Harry honestly didn't know whether he was doing better or not, but his father was right, he could at least pretend he was improving.
He took in a deep breath, working really hard not to lose his temper at his father. As annoying as his parents could be right now, he didn't have the heart to lash out at his father. He knew that he only wanted the best for him.
He pushed himself from the windowsill and stood up. He didn't look at his father's face, but down at the floor. He felt his father's hand resting on his shoulder, guiding him down the stairs and into the kitchen.
His mother was thrilled to see him there, obviously not really expecting him to give up his moping and come down. Very quickly, before Harry even registered what she was doing, she prepared him a bowl full of cereal. His father pushed him into his chair and both his parents took their seats at the table. For a moment he wondered if it was all a set-up.
"I'm not hungry," he repeated his earlier words.
Lily looked at him with small disappointment on her face. She reached across the table and took his hand in hers. Harry looked up to her face and saw the tiny smile she forced on. He knew she was trying to make him feel better. "Just a few bites or you'll starve yourself."
Harry thought about it for a second, feeling his stomach twisting and begging for food. He nodded and she flashed him a wider smile when he took a spoonful of cereal into his mouth. His stomach appreciated it and started to growl with satisfaction. Despite his earlier objections about his lack of appetite, once he started to eat he couldn't stop until he finished the whole bowl. He didn't even know he was that hungry.
"Thank you," he said once he was done. He pushed back his chair and stood up from the table, and meant to leave the room, but his father quickly grabbed his wrist and stopped him.
"Wait a minute Harry. Sit down. There is something you mother and I discussed and wanted to share with you."
"James," Lily hissed. "I don't think now is the right time for that."
Both adults glanced intensely at each other for a moment, before James said, "It's as good time as ever, Lils."
"What is it?" Harry asked, slightly interested. He sat back in his chair and looked at them, seeing the exchange of looks between them.
Lily finally nodded at her husband and grabbed Harry's hand again, while James cleared his throat in order to get his son's attention. "Harry, your mother and I thought that maybe it will be good for you to meet with a counselor again. Not for long, just a few sessions."
"A counselor?" Harry repeated, confused, his eyebrows knitted together. "Muggle shrinks again?" He asked with a voice mixed with anger and doubt. The last time he'd done sessions like this, it only made him think he was crazy, and did nothing to make him feel that it was supposed to help him with anything. It all happened a few years ago, when his parents kept fighting with him about his choice to stay in Slytherin, thinking there must have been something wrong with him when he decided that he liked it there.
"No, of course not," his father denied. "There's a Counseling Healer that we'd like you to see. It's nothing like last time. We think that it would be best if you'd talk to someone, since you won't talk to us. It's just talking, son."
Harry turned to look at his mother, seeing the pained expression on her face. She diverted her eyes down at the table, refusing to look at him while he took it all in. A Counseling Healer usually meant that there was something wrong. Had he really been that much of a lost cause that his parents wanted him to see a Healer?
He couldn't believe that a Counseling Healer would do him any good now if it didn't back then, but the determined look he saw on his parents' faces made him consider it for a moment. He knew it would make them a lot calmer if he didn't fight against it.
"I guess a few sessions won't hurt," he answered quietly. He heard his mother let out a long sigh that she'd probably been holding in for a few minutes, and he felt her squeeze his hand in assurance. "When?"
"I'll talk to the Healer and ask if tomorrow morning will be a good time," James said.
"Tomorrow?" Harry asked, a little alarmed. "But – the funeral is tomorrow morning."
Lily looked up at him. "Harry, I don't think it would a good idea if you go –"
"No!" Harry called loudly, standing up abruptly and knocking his chair back to the floor. All the anger he'd been trying to hold in for the last two days was suddenly bursting out. "You can't do this! I have to be there!"
"Harry," James said firmly, also standing up. "Things are a little tense right now and Mrs. Malfoy –"
"She blames me for Draco's death, doesn't she?" Harry asked, hurt.
"Of course not, honey," his mother quickly interjected. "No one blames you. She's just hurt and alone and I'm sure it's hard for her to lose her only child. What happened to Draco wasn't your fault..."
Harry bowed his head shamefully. "Yes, it is..." he said quietly. "If I had listened to Remus's warnings, none of this would have happened."
"Harry..." Lily sighed.
He looked up, his eyes red once more. "Please. I have to go. It's the last time I can show him that I cared, that I didn't mean to do this. I have to pay my respects."
Lily and James exchanged one more look, before they both nodded wordlessly at him. "Okay," Lily said. "I'll tell the Healer to set an appointment for the afternoon."
"Thank you," Harry whispered and then turned to the door and shuffled back up to his room once again.
Classes at Hogwarts had been canceled for a week. The overwhelming knowledge of what happened to Draco Malfoy had all the students and teachers in shock. No one had their mind straight enough to keep things going as usual. McGonagall had tried to maintain a normal school day, trying to teach like nothing had happened, but to no avail. She had slowly given up as well and dismissed all her students back to their common rooms.
Everyone grieved. It was such hypocrisy for people to act like that, Ginny thought, but she couldn't help but feel the same way they did. Draco Malfoy may have been a bully who most of the school hated, but knowing now that he died, especially of the way he had, knowing that he will no longer walk through the castle's hallways, had done something to her and apparently to every person in the castle.
The usual cheerful murmurings that filled the Great Hall each morning at breakfast were absent today. Instead, people kept to themselves, barely touching their food, reading the articles in the newspapers, bowing their heads together and whispering to themselves, as though afraid to speak loudly. The entire Slytherin table was quite. Every face held grief and it only made everyone else feel worse. No one knew what to say. They all felt sorry that they hated the boy who was murdered and never had a chance to get to know him better.
Ginny was surprised when McGonagall had approached her this morning with an unexpected question. She had asked if she will be attending the funeral, since Professor Dumbledore had thought that it will be respectful for close friends to say their final goodbye to Draco. Ginny was at a loss of words and looked at her Head of House with a blank expression on her face, not sure what to say. To call Malfoy her friend would have to be a joke, and up until what happened two days ago, she thought she will hate him forever. It was probably only because she was close to Harry, who was Draco's best friend, that McGonagall thought that she had any connection to him personally.
Ginny then remembered Harry's agonized face when he was brought to the hospital wing that day and her heart broke all over again at the memory. She knew it would probably mean a lot to Harry if she was there with him. She knew he needed some support to deal with it. She recalled how hysterical he later became, how he started shouting that it was his fault, and how he was forced to take a calming draught until his parents thought it would be better if they took him home for a while.
While McGonagall waited for Ginny's lost response, Hermione, who had stood by her side at that moment, chose to take over and told her they would both be attending. Ginny had looked at her friend with so many questions in her eyes. Hermione simply shrugged and said, "Sometimes, it's better to leave the past behind." At that moment, Ginny admired her friend so much for the selfless act. She had no motive behind it. She simply thought it would be a good idea to show some respect for a fellow student, no matter how he treated them in the past. He didn't deserve to be buried at the age of 16 and he was innocent when he died. He was trying to protect them from the Death Eaters, acting selflessly himself, an attitude Ginny had never thought she'd witness in a Malfoy.
So later that day, at the funeral, Ginny had found herself in the cemetery, standing in the shade of a large oak tree while she watched the crowd from afar (some of them were unfamiliar to her while some of them she knew, whether from school or the newspapers.) It seemed like the entire Slytherin House and the complete school staff had arrived. She wore a set of casual black school robes – since she didn't have anything else with her at Hogwarts – and had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Her hands were wrapped around herself; she wasn't sure of which reason, the chilling wind or the insecure feeling she had in that moment.
Ginny turned back to see Ron walking over to her, his hands deep down in the pockets of his own school robes. He stopped by her side and looked the same way she had been looking before.
"I'm surprised to see you here," she commented and turned her gaze back to the gathering crowd.
She saw him shrug his shoulders by the corner of her eye. "Hermione," he explained simply. He let out a long sigh. "Merlin, how I hated his guts. I can't believe I'm standing at his funeral. It's so surreal."
She grimaced. "I know."
"Is Hermione here?"
"Yes. I couldn't go with her over there. It felt... wrong, somehow."
They fell into silence for a long moment. They watched Narcissa Malfoy, wearing a black dress and an elegant matching hat, sobbing quietly while people walked over to share their condolences.
She turned her eyes to search the crowd. Ron seemed to know who she was looking for.
"Is he here?"
She nodded. "Arrived with his parents about ten minutes ago. He's standing with Zabini and Parkinson now."
Ron bounced on the balls on his feet uncomfortably. "I think you should go over to him," he said. Ginny turned to look at him with slight surprise on her face and he shrugged again. "He'd appreciate it," he explained. Ginny smiled faintly at her brother, not quite believing what she was hearing. Could it be that Ron somehow came to accept that Harry was now in her life for good?
She sighed as she watched Harry from afar, seeing the torn look on his face and noticing the way he wrapped his arms around himself protectively. "I want to, but I don't know what to say to him. I've never been in this situation before. Maybe I should give him some time; let him come to me when he feels that he needs me? I mean, I told him once that I'll always be there for him, I just didn't think it would be this hard."
She turned to look at him, see what he had to say about that; her eyes were slightly squinted from the wind that was hitting her face. Ron held a mystified look on his face, like he was contemplating the right answer. After a long moment of silence he said, "I'm not Hermione, so my advice can't be that good, but I think you should imagine if the situation was reversed and it was you standing there at a friend's funeral, then what would you want him to do; would you want some time for yourself, or to have him at your side?"
Ginny contemplated Ron's words and she didn't have a specific answer. She didn't know what she would want. She couldn't even imagine it happening to her. And if she didn't know what she would want, how could she know what Harry wanted? They haven't been together for long, and she realized she doesn't know everything about him. Besides, he has his friends and family with him. He could use their support right now. It was more than what she could offer him anyway.
Finally, she decided that she'd give him some time to himself, and in order to show him that she did still care, she would write him a letter later on today.
Se told Ron her final decision. He didn't seem to understand it much, but he also didn't linger on the matter. "Does he at least know that you're here?" he asked.
Ginny leaned back against the tree trunk and looked down at the ground, shuffling her foot in the snow covered grass. "I'm sure he does. It won't be hard to guess with Hermione being there."
They watched quietly as the ceremony began. Ginny shuddered when she saw the coffin and how it was lowered into the hole in the ground, and she couldn't help the tears steaming when she heard the distinct cries of a mother who lost her child, of the people who lost their friend. She had to dug her heal into the ground to stop herself from heading over there, to Harry. She wanted to be there for him, to embrace him in her arms and show him she cared, but she didn't have enough courage to do it. She was weak with overflowing emotions and didn't know what to do, so she stayed where she was.
"Do you know if they caught 'em yet?" Ron asked in a slur after the whole thing was over and people had started to separate. They were now walking to where the portkeys were. Ginny had turned around to see Harry one more time, see if he was looking for her, but he was huddled together with Blaise Zabini, his parents and Professor Lupin. She could barely pick his messy black hair out of the muddle of people.
"Who?" Ginny asked, not quite following. She turned back to look down the road they walked and could see Hermione waiting for them in the end of the square.
"Whoever did it. Those Death Eaters that managed to escape. Did they catch any of them?"
She shook her head. "I don't know. I haven't heard anything. Although, I'm quite positive there won't be anything about it in the papers. People will start to freak out when they hear there had been another Death Eater attack and that they managed to escape again. But now that the whole school and half the village of Hogsmeade witnessed it, it won't take long for the news to come out."
"People say they were aiming for Harry, you know?"
"Nonsense," she dismissed angrily.
"I don't know, maybe they're right. You didn't see it, Ginny; you were pretty unconscious at the time. He stayed there to fight. He told me they came for him."
She looked up at him. "Why would they come after Harry?" her voice challenged, and she feared his answer might sound logical.
"Well, I can only guess. They work for Lucius Malfoy, don't they? And he worked for You-Know-Who. If you look back and think about it, You-Know-Who tried to kill the Potters years ago, only Sirius Black stopped him and he didn't finish the job. Maybe Lucius Malfoy was trying to do it now and wanted to start with Harry, the easiest target?"
Ginny let that sink for a moment. It made sense, but there were so many missing pieces in the puzzle that she didn't want to believe it until she heard the whole story from a reliable source. Why would You-Know-Who come after Harry, for what reason? "I don't want to talk about it, Ron," she said finally and sighed, feeling a little defeated.
"All right," he shrugged. "But there is something that I'm sure about. I bet right now Lucius Malfoy is having a fit in his prison cell. He won't be happy with his Death Eaters killing his son, that's for sure. The Ministry needs to keep a close eye on him, I say. I just hope all those Death Eaters will rot in Azkaban for the rest of their lives."
"Me too," Ginny muttered. "Hey, Hermione," she said once they finally reached her.
Hermione gave her a quick smile. Ron reached for her hand and entwined their fingers together while they walked further to take the portkey back to the school's gates.
Ginny was glad to see them together again. Even in times like this, it was nice to see people who could work out their problems and be happy, to show that there was still hope left somewhere. She felt the stabbing feeling that she should have went to greet Harry, but she forced herself not to think about it too much. She wanted to think that her decision to give him time to grieve was the right thing to do.
"Did he say anything to you?" Ginny asked Hermione later, when they were back in the girls' dormitories.
"Who, Harry? Not much, just 'hello'. There wasn't really a right time we could talk, you know. He was pretty distant and cold. I could see it was very hard for him to maintain his composure, but at least he wasn't hysterical," Hermione said. Her words stung and Ginny couldn't believe she hadn't been there after all. "But don't worry, things will work out. Give him some time."
"He went back home with his parents," Ginny noted.
Hermione nodded. "I think it's good. They'll help him get through it."
She spouted in remorse. "I'm so stupid. I should have been there for him."
Hermione looked at her sympathetically. "Ginny, I'm sure your support will mean a lot to him, but right now maybe it's best that he has his parents' guidance. He needs to know how to grieve. You won't be able to do much for him when he's in this state. You'll only be a distraction and he won't be able to move on like he should. You'll see him in a couple of days and things will work out, trust me."
One month later...
Things had gone pretty much back to normal. Maybe it was the sudden change of the unusually warm weather for that time of the year that had kindled everyone's spirits or maybe what they all needed was time to get over their emotions, to let things settle down, but the school was as alive as ever.
It was nearly the end of February, and it looked like spring might have come much earlier this year. The snow had started to finally melt, although it was not completely gone; green patches of grass were revealed in the grounds outside, trees and flowers had sprouted and turned green and bloomed in so many colors. The sun shone in the bright blue sky and birds began to sing again.
When Harry stepped through the school's gates, it was with a heavy feeling in his chest, but he still had hope that he could manage it. Being back here should mean he was back to normal, back to being himself again. But only Harry himself knew that hew was a different person now and today was the first day of the new life he had planned for himself.
Remus met him by the gates and walked him back to the castle. They both had gotten much closer over the past few weeks. Remus had visited Godric's Hollow a lot while Harry had been there. The only few days he didn't show up were around the time when he had his full moon transformation.
"Feeling well?" Harry asked his professor, who had now become a close friend.
Remus smiled, swinging his arm around Harry's scrawny shoulders. "As good as I can feel after being chained to the walls inside the Shrieking Shack in the cold nights." He laughed faintly, but stopped at Harry's grimace. He forgot how easy it was for him to talk about his transformations, while Harry still took it hard. He cleared his throat and tried to keep in conversation. "How about you, Harry?"
Harry nodded, observing the place. "Can't say, really. It'll be hard, I know."
"I promise I'll help you catch up with your school work, and not just in Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Thank you, Remus," Harry said with a kind smile. They stopped in the middle of the entrance hall and Remus turned to face Harry, still keeping a strong arm on one of his shoulders.
"Leave your trunk here, Harry. I'll have it sent to your dorm. You go and join your friends for breakfast."
Harry wrinkled his nose slightly. His left hand went to rub his stomach. "Can't really eat anything. Did you really think that Lily Potter would send her son to Hogwarts on an empty stomach?"
Remus let out a barking laugh. "No, I guess not." He patted Harry's shoulder twice. "Come to my office this evening. I'll have all the course materials that you missed by then."
"I will," Harry said and they parted, each going to their separate way.
"So how is he?" Ron asked Ginny as they went down the staircases to the Great Hall.
Ron had been asking the same question for the past few days and up until now, Ginny had managed to avoid him, but she was running out of ideas on how to change the subject, so she sighed, letting out a frustrated breath she'd been holding for a while and said, "I don't know. He didn't answer to any of my letters."
"Hmm," was all Ron said. It made Ginny seethe, knowing he was half-pleased that she didn't talk to Harry at all since he left school a month ago. Any hope that he came to terms with their relationship flew out the window at that moment. What made Ginny feel even angrier was not Harry's behavior and completely ignoring her, but that she actually stayed back on the day of the funeral and didn't go to him when she obviously should have. She was sure that by staying away that day, Harry probably felt some sort of resentment towards her, or else he would have written back to her. One letter, or a tiny note, would have been fine. She just needed to know that he was okay and that he was not mad at her. She hoped that this morning, a snowy owl would land at the Gryffindor table and bring her some sort of news from him.
They were about to go down the final staircase to the entrance hall, when they saw Hermione coming up the stairs, heading toward them, looking very tense.
She stopped right in front of them, panting slightly. "Ginny..." she said, her voice wheezing as she tried to catch her breath.
"Hermione, are you okay?" Ginny asked with concern. Ron made a move to hold her to him, but she shoved him away gently, gulping and taking one large breath, before she let it all out.
"I'm fine. Did you happen to hear from Harry lately?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. Is that all those two are thinking about? she asked herself, betting everything she owned that they were talking about her behind her back. "No," she huffed angrily. "You already knew that, Hermione. You don't have to rub it in. Why do you ask, anyway?"
"Well," Hermione's eyes turned slightly guilty. "Then you're not going to like what I have to say."
Ginny pushed past her and made her way down to the entrance hall, feeling a little hungry by now and not wanting to skip breakfast. She still had the tiny expectation to receive a letter as the owls swoop in with the post.
Hermione tried to catch her shoulder and stop her, but Ginny shrug her off. "I don't like half the things you say, Hermione, yet you always say them anyway."
"I – I... I thought Dean was just trying to work me up, but when Neville confirmed it, I started to wonder..." Hermione rambled and Ginny rolled her eyes.
Ginny started to get a little impatient. "What is it, Hermione, and how does it relate to Harry?"
She walked into the Great Hall, with Hermione, still trying to push her back out, and Ron shooting them weird looks, trying to catch on.
"...so I checked it myself and I saw it was true, and I swear I didn't know. I ran to find you as soon I found out. Ginny, please stop for a minute!"
"Hermione! Leave me alone! I want to go get some breakfast!" Ginny growled.
"He's here!" Hermione hissed. Ginny froze in her place, and stopped fighting wrenching her shoulders from Hermione's grip.
"Who's here?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"Potter," Ron then said, with a blank note in his voice.
Ginny turned to them, not quite understanding what they meant. Hermione held a serious look on her face, her eyes apologizing. Ron's eyes were diverted to the other far side of the Hall, towards the Slytherin House table, which there unmistakably, sat her so-called boyfriend, Harry Potter, sipping on a goblet of bloody pumpkin juice.
"Oh," she simply said, not sure what she was feeling right now. She chose to think about it, walked to the Gryffindor table and sat in a vacant seat with her back to the Slytherin table, so she wouldn't be shooting looks (or jinxes, for that matter) at him.
"Well? Aren't you going to talk to him?" Hermione said, sitting next to her and looking closely at her face, searching to see if there was some sort of a rage attack about to come from Ginny.
Ginny turned a blank look at her, blinking her eyes a few times and staring at black space. "Umm, no. Not right now, anyway."
Hermione didn't say anything else, but she kept watching her closely. Ginny felt a little uncomfortable under her peering gaze. She turned to look at her and forced a small smile on her face. "I'll talk to him later. I'm sure he wants to catch up with his friends first."
Ginny knew she would not be able to concentrate in her classes until she talked to Harry. She needed to know why he ignored her letters and didn't come to see her when he got back.
Remembering that his first class today should be Charms, she waited outside Flitwick's classroom for him to show up. Five minutes before the bell was supposed to ring, he came, alone, which surprised her at first that he wasn't accompanied by Blaise Zabini; it made her wonder about it for a second, before she remembered her purpose for being here.
Harry stopped in his tracks when he saw her. She pushed herself away from the wall she was leaning on and quietly walked over to him. She stopped to stand only a few feet from him. She saw his shoulders square and his adam's apple bob nervously up and down in his throat.
"Ginny. Hi," he said thickly.
She had the urge to shout at him Don't you 'Ginny. Hi' me! but held herself back. She was slightly angry with him, but she needed to be patient at first in order to see if her anger was justified.
"When did you get back?" she asked in a quiet voice.
"Er... Earlier, before breakfast."
She nodded. "I wrote to you, but I guess the post got lost on the way, or else you would have written back. Right?" she asked with a challenge in her voice and a raise of her eyebrows.
He sighed and ran his hand through his thick hair, making it stand out more than the usual.
"Seven letters!" Ginny suddenly called, startling him.
He winced. "I know."
She held out her hands to the sides, waiting to see if he would say more than that. It didn't make any sense to her at all. Why would he do that? When he didn't add anything else, her patience grew short. "Did you even bother to open them?" she asked slowly, fearing his answer.
He lowered his gaze to the floor and didn't say anything, although his body language gave her the answer she didn't want to receive.
"I'm sorry," he said after a moment. There was no hint in his voice that he actually meant it. "I can explain."
She wrapped her arms together and waited. "I'm listening," she said evenly.
"I was a complete mess. I got so many letters and I didn't open any of them, not just yours."
"And that's supposed to make me feel better? I was worried about you! I didn't know how you were coping and all I wanted was to hear that you were fine."
The bell chimed then and Harry looked anxiously back at the door to the Charms classroom. Ginny heard Flitwick's squeaking voice come from inside and the door shut then, completely on its own.
"I'm still not," Harry added, looking back at her. "What happened to Draco... it changed me and maybe it's better if you give me a little time to adjust."
She shook her head, taking a few steps closer until they were standing face to face. She grabbed his hands in hers and squeezed lightly. A small smile graced her lips. "Harry. I'm here for you, whenever you need me, for anything. You know that, right? Pushing me away won't do either of us any good."
He shut his eyes tightly, shaking his head at her words. "You don't understand, Gin. Please, I don't want to hurt you, but you aren't making it easier."
She looked at him with sad and confused eyes. "What?"
"I'm broken," he said. "I'm not the same guy I was...before. I'm not as naïve as I was a few weeks ago. I don't exactly know yet what I've become, so I need to figure it out and I need to do this alone. With you being around, you'll only become a distraction and I can't have any distractions in my life right now."
She let go of his hands suddenly as though they burned her, and took a step back to examine his face. He looked torn between decisions. She hoped she was mishearing things. Not happening, not happening, not happening... she chanted in her head.
"What do you mean?" Her voice came out high and broken, full of shock and unwanted tears. "You're breaking up with me?"
He didn't say anything back. He simply looked down and stared at the floor. This made her even angrier.
"Damn it, Harry, answer me!" she demanded, but he didn't. "You can't even look me in the eyes when you do it? What kind of a person are you? I trusted you!"
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "You don't deserve to be with me. Ginny, you're so good, you deserve someone much better."
"This is my decision to make and I don't want anyone else. I think you're the best thing that happened to me."
"I'm not," he countered. "It was a mistake, Ginny. I was a fool who was blinded by love. And yes, it was love that I felt for you."
She shook her head, too chocked up to argue. There was one word that crossed her mind when he said it: bullshit.
"But I can't feel like this right now," he went on and she prayed he would stop. "It's really not fair to you if I don't have my heart fully in it. We can go back and be frie –"
"How can you say that?" Ginny yelled with a hoarse voice, absolutely outraged at his words. "Friends? We were never friends, Harry!" She stared at him, breathing heavily, forcing herself to calm down, and knowing that yelling wouldn't solve anything. She started again with a calmer voice, "I can't be your friend, Harry, not after everything you had me going through. I won't have it. We can go through with it together. I'll help you –"
"I DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" Harry suddenly burst out. Ginny's whole body froze at the sound of his booming voice. She felt like she couldn't move or breathe, the only remaining living thing in her body was her heart, which was also starting to slow down by the second. "Why can't you understand?" he demanded.
The door of the Charms classroom opened and Professor Flitwick poked his head out. Behind him towered a crowed of curious students, trying to get a peek through the narrow gap of the door.
"Mr. Potter! What is going on here?" Flitwick peeped.
Harry and Ginny ignored everything else and simply stared at each other; Harry's chest was heaving in and out rapidly, while Ginny stood as still as a statue and tears were rimming her eyes.
Her daze evaporated slowly and she gulped hard, feeling her throat aching terribly and there was a bitter taste in her mouth that hadn't been there before. "Fine," she said quietly, straightening up. She held her head high in a proud posture. "Have it your way. You can have your bloody space."
Then her hand went to her neck and her slim fingers fished out a thin silver chain of three pearls from underneath the collar of her shirt. She tore the necklace from her neck and angrily threw it down at Harry's feet. She span on her heel and marched down the hall, tears prickling at the corner of her eyes. Then she stopped and turned back to look at him one more time, feeling that she had to say the last words that were on her mind.
"I can't believe how I didn't see that you stayed the same nasty person you always were! Ron was right, you won't ever change. You'll always stay the mean bully of the school. Malfoy was just your shadow. You're a pathetic, sad, and immature boy who doesn't know what he wants. And you know what the saddest thing is? That I actually believed your act, went ahead and fell in love with you."
Ginny couldn't help but let the tears now flow freely down her face. She ran away, knowing she was the one who looked pathetic right now, having made a complete fool out of herself in front of a class full of Slytherins, who were probably laughing at her expanse right now.
The only thing she hadn't known was that as Harry watched her go, he felt a huge wave of regret and pain wash over him.
Harry entered the Slytherin common room that evening, after leaving Remus' office with a heavy pile of assignments that he missed over the past month. Remus said it would be better to start right away and be done with it, so he wouldn't get behind on the new subjects. They first went over all the new Defense Against the Dark Arts chapters and spells. Remus wanted to make sure that Harry got everything right before sending him on his way to study for the rest of his classes.
Harry set down his books and notes on one table in the corner of the common room and began skimming through it. It went on and on and seemed absolutely endless. Harry could not believe he missed all that in the one month that he'd been away.
He was way into his second chapter in History of Magic when Blaise came into the room and sat at the other chair next to Harry's table.
"Hey, Harry," he said, his voice light as usual.
Harry was a little grateful of Blaise's arrival to pull him back from his studying. He needed a little break and now was just the right time for it. "Hey," he replied, stretching in his chair. "How's it going?"
"Good, good," Blaise said, nodding. He seemed to focus for some reason on Harry's open books for a second before he blinked quickly and drifted out of his daze. Harry sensed he was trying not to look directly into his eyes and he wondered what was going on. Before he could ask, Blaise went on. "There's something I've been meaning to ask you. My timing is a little crappy, I know, but it's just another thing we have to get out of the way."
"What is it?"
"You know, about Quidditch..."
"What about it?" Harry questioned, not understanding what Blaise was trying to say.
"Well, I've asked Snape about it. He was pretty strict on the subject. The games aren't cancelled, and he said we need to find our team a new Keeper, now that... you know..."
The realization of what Blaise was saying finally sank in. "Oh. I guess I haven't thought about it."
"Snape wants you to hold tryouts this week, since the Hufflepuff game is coming up soon. He doesn't want us to lose to a team as poor as theirs. We have to practice and train up the new Keeper. What do you think?"
"Honestly, Blaise?" Harry reached for his robe's collar and pulled at his shiny captain badge. He noticed Blaise watching him closely as he placed the small badge in the center of the table. Blaise stared at it for a short moment with a puzzled expression on his face. "This is the last thing on my mind right now. Take the badge, be Captain, schedule tryouts and practices. I trust that you'd be a better man for the job than me. I just can't do it."
"It's best for the team. If I keep being the Captain, I'm only going to fail you."
It seemed to be taking Blaise a few moments to think about Harry's generous offer. Harry was sure Blaise knew there was only one option and that he would have to accept if he wanted to win the Quidditch Cup this year. It felt like the right thing to do right now.
"I think you're wrong, but thank you." Blaise's nervous fingers grazed the small, silver badge, as though testing to see if it was a trick. Harry laughed and Blaise finally grabbed the badge and held it firmly in his fist. Harry knew how Blaise felt holding the badge in his hands. He knew that victorious feeling. He remembered having it on the first of September, when Draco handed it to him and he was stunned to realize that Snape had somehow lost his mind and agreed to make him the team's Captain. It was still quite a mystery, one that probably will never be solved, how the badge had been mailed to Draco when the letter had been Harry's. "Whenever you change your mind, just say the word and it's yours again."
Harry nodded once in gratitude and the corners of his mouth lifted into a little smile. So typical of Blaise to be as selfless as he was now, thinking he would never be good enough. Harry knew without a doubt that it wasn't true.
"You'll still stay our Seeker, though, right?" Blaise asked with round eyes, dreading Harry's answer. "You're the best we got. We won't even have a chance with any other second-hand Seeker."
Harry smiled and nodded again, knowing he could not disappoint his friend. If he quit completely, it would be like disappointing Draco, by not winning the Cup for him. That's the least he could do if he was stepping out of his captain's spot and having Blaise choose another Keeper to replace Draco. "I'll try to keep my head in the game."
Blaise flashed him a huge, bright smile and Harry had the feeling that if there wasn't a table separating them, he would have jumped up and hugged him. Blaise's smile faded as reality settled back in. "You know, Harry, life's not over. You're allowed to move on."
Harry knew that Blaise only wanted the best for him. He wouldn't have said that if it weren't true and he hadn't meant it. He knew that Blaise was right. Everyone else had moved on, even Blaise. While Harry had felt the ground underneath his feet collapsing, Blaise somehow managed to get it all together and move forward with his life. He and Pansy had found solace in each other after Draco's death and it brought them closer together. Now they were dating, finally, and they both seemed truly happy. Harry didn't know how to feel about that. On the one hand, he was happy that Blaise had finally gotten what he wanted for so long, but on the other hand, he couldn't help but feel a little selfish for wanting Blaise to grieve with him. Blaise was grieving in his own way, Harry knew. He noticed that whenever Draco was mentioned, he would get really quite and distant before he'd try to change the subject and be back to his old self again.
Was it fair of Harry to be feeling this way? Was it fair of Blaise to be acting like he was, living on, acting like nothing had happened, maintaining a relationship and planning on playing Quidditch, while Harry was still locked up in his bubble of grief? After all, he was Draco's best friend, as well...
It wasn't fair, Harry decided. It wasn't how they should pay their respect towards their deceased friend.
He felt Blaise's gaze on him and knew he was studying him and probably reading him like an open book. And he wasn't mistaken, either.
"Harry, you have to remember that we're still alive and we keep living all thanks to him. He saved us and kept us safe. If he hadn't, you would have died with him. I know what you're thinking Harry. Just because I'm keeping myself together, doesn't mean that he meant any less to me than he did to you. He was my best friend and I'll always remember him. You have to know that he wouldn't have wanted us to grieve about him forever. He would probably kick our arses for it, calling us names and such."
Harry chuckled, closing his eyes and imagining it in his mind, seeing Draco grumbling about them acting like two girls, while he would stride around them and pretend he was way better than them. The image was so vivid in his mind, that Harry was sad to open his eyes and see it wasn't real at all.
He realized that Blaise was right and that he should let his life go on. He would never forget, but merely put it in a side corner in his mind. He should do what Blaise did; he should play Quidditch and be happy and have a relationship with the girl he loved...
That last thought brought the painful memory from this morning's encounter with Ginny and Harry sighed, feeling depressed again.
"Ginny and I broke up today," he said quietly, ashamed to admit it. It was so surreal that the tables had turned. Blaise's life was more productive and he had someone while in Harry's case it was the complete opposite.
"What? She broke up with you? What a bitch!" Blaise exclaimed. "Leaving you at a time like this!"
"Actually, I broke it off with her. She made quite a scene, but I don't blame her. I've been a real arse to her. I really hate myself for doing this to her."
"So that's what it was all about this morning?" Blaise asked and Harry nodded. He had refused to explain it when he entered the class after Ginny left. Spilling it out now to someone who may understand him was giving him a little comfort, unlike he thought. "Well, I still say she's a bitch."
Harry glared at him and Blaise shrugged innocently. Harry let it go and let out a sigh. "It's for the best. It wasn't going to work out anyway. We struggled too much to try and make it work when we never had a chance from the start."
Blaise watched him closely again. "You still love her," he observed.
Harry shrugged. "Can't help it. I'll get over her, though."
Blaise's eyes narrowed. "Sure you will," he said somehow skeptically. Harry hated the note in his voice. Truthfully, he doubted it as well, knowing it would be hard to force himself to fall out of love with Ginny.
There was an old scorch mark on the red velvet curtains that hung around Ginny's four-poster bed that she'd been staring at for the past hour. She remembered how she made it, by complete accident of course, in her third year, after she came back from Hogsmeade crying, because Fred and George stalked her and Michael on one of their dates. She'd been so furious that day that some sparks shot from her wand and nearly set her curtains on fire.
Ginny lay in her bed, tracing the burn mark lightly with the tips of her fingers. She'd been hiding there for the better part of the day, hoping that no one would ask her for explanations. By 'no one' she thought of Hermione. Ginny knew better than that, of course, not underestimating her best friend for a second and knowing that sooner or later she'd be there, asking questions that Ginny wanted so badly to avoid. She was so hurt and she wasn't ready to talk about it to anyone yet, not even to consult with Hermione.
The only solution, so she didn't keep her thoughts locked inside, was to get them out and on paper. It gave her some relief to get things off her chest when she wrote in her diary, even when sometimes she thought it might be slightly childish, it was like having another friend who was a great listener and never asked questions.
Ginny's fingers rested on the black leather binding of the book she left open on her stomach. There were so many memories of so many days stored in there, but she refused to turn the pages back and read them. She wrote in it about every meaningful moment she had shared with Harry, but after writing about today's happenings, she couldn't let herself go back and read about how wonderful those moments felt then when she knew now that she would never have moments like those with Harry again.
She cursed at herself for being deluding into thinking that things had and could have been perfect. She cursed at herself for acting like an eleven years old with a crush on some boy she could never have, day-dreaming on a perfect wedding for them both.
"Oh, please," Ginny muttered under her breath and blinked a stray tear from her eyes. She remembered something she was told, not too long ago, and cursed again. "Until death do us part, my arse!"
Parvati's aunt had been wrong. Maybe she was a fraud, after all. Ginny wished she had never gone to see her. "What a waste of money," she muttered, remembering Hermione had said it right from the start.
It was another act, of a very good actress if she must admit, but that was all the credit she was going to give to Madame Asha. Ginny did everything the Seer had told her to do. She set the future for her and Harry by choosing the white road leading for their happiness. Ginny now felt stupid for listening to something that now sounded completely idiotic. She realized how she had made a fool out of herself.
Despite it all, she couldn't help but wonder what could have happened if she had decided differently and had chose the other road, the red, muddy path that led into a dirty back alley. If choosing the white road had led to destruction on hers and Harry's relationship, when it theoretically should have brought them happiness, then what would have happened if she had chosen to take the other road, greater destruction or the complete opposite?
The words "Until death do you part" rang in Ginny's mind one more time and flashes of that day came and went like she was reliving it all over again. Every part of the prophecy was chanted inside her head and just when she thought she caught on to something, she was pulled back to reality.
"Ginny?" Hermione's tentative voice came from behind the curtains. "I know you're in there. I heard what happened. I'm sorry." Her voice was apologetic, yet Ginny couldn't help but let out a snort in response.
She pulled her curtains open and sat back against the headboard of the bed and made some room for her friend to sit, while tucking her diary underneath her pillow. "Figured you'd come by when word got out. Is there anyone in the castle who didn't hear about it?" Ginny honestly doubted the question.
Hermione's face contorted in a mixture of guilt and pain. "Well... if it makes you feel any better, you're not exactly at the top of the gossip list today. Eloise Midgeon got kissed this afternoon, so you're basically old news."
"That does make me feel slightly better. Wait, did you just say that Eloise Midgeon got kissed? Who, where and why?" Ginny had to admit that she was slightly interested.
Hermione chuckled. "I think it was on a dare. I didn't catch the kisser's name, but I heard he was from Hufflepuff."
"Poor bloke. I reckon he'll wake up tomorrow with a face full of acne..."
Hermione let out a loud laugh at that. "You're awful! I see that you're acting as your usual self, that's good."
Ginny contemplated what Hermione said. She chose her words carefully, not really wanting to start a full conversation about what happened. "Yeah. I promised myself long time ago that I wouldn't cry over him. Doesn't change the fact that the boy had me completely fall for him and now...now I can't stop shedding tears because of him. That Bastard."
"I'm sorry," Hermione said again. "I feel like it's my fault."
Ginny saw her friend looked really regretful, but couldn't really understand why. "Don't be, it isn't. He had everyone fooled. Has Ron beaten the crap out of him yet?" Ginny asked with an arched eyebrow, only partly joking.
"Not yet. He wanted to, badly, but I stopped him. I told him to ask your permission first. To tell you the truth, I nearly went after him, myself." Hermione gave her half a smile. Ginny knew she meant what she said, but also said it because she wanted to cheer her up.
Ginny nodded in gratitude. "Good thinking holding Ron back. As much as Harry hurt me today, I don't know if I want to hurt him back in any way, or even if I can."
Hermione nodded once. "It's understandable, you love him."
Ginny shook her head. "It's not that. I feel like I'm the one who made us break apart."
"How could you? It's not like you pressured him or anything," Hermione reasoned, not quite following Ginny's thread of thought.
"No, it's nothing like that. I thing I messed up with fate, I caused our lives to be the way they are now," she started to explain the earlier thought she had before Hermione came over. "You remember I told you about the prophecy Parvati's aunt told me, right?"
At that, Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes. "Don't tell me you believe that old bat..."
"No, listen!" Ginny insisted, sitting up in her bed. "At the time, I thought I understood what she meant, but what if I was wrong? What if I mixed things up?"
Hermione looked at her with a half-bored expression, but Ginny went on explaining. "It's all clear to me now. There were three parts to the prophecy. In the first, she talked about how I found my true love and that even true love can break apart if I would not value it. In the second part, I thought she talked about Ron, but I come to realize that she had talked about Harry all along. She said he can protect me but can also cause me pain. So far, both parts had come true."
Hermione blinked, still clearly not impressed. "And the third part?" she promoted.
Ginny gulped, remembering the third part of the prophecy, the crucial part. "The third part talked about two roads that resembled me and that was the reason why I was the one who had to choose the road I wanted for myself and it will affect mine and Harry's future together. Her exact words were: 'Go to the white and all will go well until death do you part. Go with the red and it will be as if nothing had ever occurred between you.'"
"Which road did you take?" Hermione asked.
Ginny blushed, ashamed to admit she had thought the white road meant marriage. "I thought the white one would give us a future together, while the red one would erase everything and make us as if we were strangers again.
"Only now I realized that there isn't any meaning behind the words. It was as simple as that. I had taken the wrong road. I had chosen to keep us apart by death, Draco's death, in this case. It had made Harry want to get away from me. Ron told me something in the funeral; that Harry knew the Death Eaters had come for him. He was hiding that day for a reason, because he didn't want to be seen. We sat in an open clearing and someone was bound to see him there and call the Death Eaters. If only we had taken the other road and went into the alley it led to, he would have stayed hidden, no one would have seen him there and we would have stayed as we were, like nothing had occurred between us, like we didn't have that stupid fight in the first place."
Hermione looked at her for a moment before finally shaking her head. "We each make our own fate, Ginny. The future may be alterable, but it is also unpredictable."
"I don't believe it," Ginny insisted. "She saw it happening. She warned me, only I misunderstood her."
"Ginny, you are taking matters way out of proportion. You're looking at it too deeply when you shouldn't let some old nutter tell you how to live your life. If you want things to go back to the way they were, you should act according to what you feel and what you think, not someone who supposedly told you that's the way it is. You can always change the future; you just need to make the right decision."
"But how do I know I made the right decision?"
"Like I said, act according to your heart. If you want him back, do everything you can to get him back."
"But what if fate has already been decided and we're supposed to be apart? No matter what I do, we'd stay apart? What if fate isn't alterable after all?"
"Then if that's the case, and you had taken the red road, you would have split apart anyway, don't you think?"
Ginny sighed and looked at her lap. "I'm not even sure that I want him back now."
Hermione took her hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Then give it some time to settle and see if that is still what you want and if you do, don't wait too long because then it might be too late."
The hallways of the castle were empty. The stone walls were ice cold, but the floor felt as though he was walking on cotton, although every step he took echoed at least three times around him. Harry was dressed in his pajamas. He walked barefoot out of the castle and down to the Quidditch pitch. It was almost summer time, on twilight. The sun was just starting to set behind the lake, reflecting gold and dancing on the water and it looked as if there was a large bonfire on the bank on the other side.
A whoosh sound in the sky above him made him look up to see a figure on a broom racing to fly around the pitch. The person, a black shadow as Harry saw from where he stood, was absolutely marvelous on a broom. Harry watched with interest as the figure had created a Quaffle out of thin air. The person bewitched it to toss around while he did all he could to keep the ball out of the goal posts. He only missed once and the ball fell through the ring and onto the grass, and rolled right at Harry's feet.
Harry bent down and held the ball in his hands, examining it as though there was something out of ordinary about it, only there wasn't. He looked up at the sky again, now seeing the shadowed figure hovering just above his head, his hand reaching for the Quaffle.
Harry handed it to him and noticed the grin he received in return. He knew that smile.
"I didn't mean to take it away from you," Harry said.
"You mean the ball or my life?" Draco asked with a hint on amusement in his voice.
"What do you think?"
"I think you're a coward, Harry. You're a fool and you make so many mistakes that I can't even count them on my two hands."
"How so?" Harry asked in puzzlement as he saw Draco descend with his broom to the ground and stand across from him. His back was to the setting sun, making his face darken with shadows and his blond hair glow like a halo.
"You turned your back on your life, and for what? I'm dead. You can't bring me back and you can't turn back time."
Harry didn't know what to say. He wasn't even sure he knew how to speak after that. He tried, but nothing came out.
Draco sighed and put his hand on Harry's shoulder. A rush of warmth spread through his body at the touch and it made Harry gasp and shut his eyes for a second. "Live your life, Harry. I'm not mad at you for anything. You shouldn't hold your life back just because of what happened to me. It wasn't your fault and I'm not holding it against you."
Harry stared at his lost friend in quiet amazement, still unable to find the right words to say.
"I'm leaving now, Harry. Can you do me one last favor before I go?"
Harry nodded. Draco's smile made another appearance and it made Harry feel that earlier warmth again.
"Fix your mistakes, Harry." Harry stood still, watching Draco hop back on his broom. He tossed the Quaffle back to Harry and he caught it. "Play it right," he added with a wink and took off into the air. Harry saw him disappear as a tiny black dot behind the clouds. Somehow he had the feeling it would not be their final meeting. They would be seeing each other again, even if it was only in dreamland.
He woke up a little short of breath, remembering the dream so vividly. He sat up in his bed and noticed he wasn't the only one awake in the room. Blaise was looking at him with a concerned look on his face, silently questioning what was wrong.
"Sorry I woke you," Harry apologized to Blaise. "Go back to sleep, we'll talk tomorrow."
The next morning Harry skipped his first period. He waited outside the Potions classroom ten minutes before the bell was supposed to ring. He knew that Snape had never dismissed a class early before, but he couldn't take the chance of missing Ginny exit.
Last night when he woke up from his dream about Draco, he had reached a decision. He was going to listen to Draco's advice and start over. Any mistakes he'd made yesterday were going to be fixed today, and he was going to start with Ginny.
He sat up on the floor, leaning against a humid wall down in the dungeons, and set his view on Snape's classroom door. He looked at his watch, noting the time. Five minutes to go, he thought to himself with a sigh.
His fingers in his right hand played around with the silver chain of Ginny's necklace, swirling it around in distraction to pass the time.
Students were starting to walk around the hallways, having been dismissed early from their classes. As some Slytherins walked passed Harry on their way to their common room, they shot him strange glances and talked in hushed voices, no doubt that it was about him. The fight scene he held with Ginny yesterday was still fresh gossip. He ignored them, knowing that it would pass sometime later this week.
As another group of girls walked by, Harry buried his head between his knees, hoping to avoid anymore talks. He didn't expect however, that one of them would stop to chat.
"Harry?" she called. He tried not to pay attention, but there was something familiar about her voice. He slowly looked up to see who she was.
Shoulder-length dark hair and concerned blue eyes greeted him. He smiled faintly at her. "Hey Jen," he said.
Harry felt a familiar shiver coming up his spine when he looked at her. Jennifer Newport wasn't ugly looking at all, and he remembered that feeling from their dating days. Whenever he looked at her, he would feel that shiver going through his body; that's how pretty she was. He just didn't expect feeling like this a year after they broke up and particularly when they never been serious enough for this feeling to develop into something more.
Though sharing the same House, she hadn't said a word to him since the day they decided to split up and Harry wondered for a short second why she would stop now at the sight of him.
"Why are you sitting on the floor?" she asked with an arched eyebrow.
He shrugged, not really wanting to explain to her his actions and sharing more than he already had about his and Ginny's shattered relationship.
She shook her head, moving on with what she wanted to say. "Well, I'm glad I ran into you. I wanted to say that I'm really sorry about Draco."
Harry nodded in appreciation. Then his eyebrows knitted together when he remembered something. "Oh, that's right. Weren't you two an item or something?"
The last he heard of her, she was snogging Draco after the Christmas break, probably using him to get herself attention. He never got to hear how that turned out. Draco had referred to it as something casual at the time and hadn't said more than that.
She blushed and tried to hide a smile. "Uh, no, not really," she said in embarrassment. "Well... this is pretty embarrassing," she muttered and continued when Harry frowned at her. "I knew that since you two were best friends, that eventually you'd hear about it."
Her words only confused him more. "What do you mean?" he asked.
She didn't ask for his permission, but she sat next to him on the floor. At first she was quiet and shy. He never saw her act like this as long as he had known her. She was always direct and always got what she wanted. She suddenly turned and looked straight into his eyes and Harry gulped as the same shiver ran through him again. "I've been wanting to get your attention for quite some time now, but never got the courage to approach you. I knew you were seeing that Weasley girl and Draco had mentioned that you were pretty head over heels for her. I guess I got jealous. I thought that if I made a move on him, it would get your attention enough to talk to me. I was wrong, apparently."
It was shocking news to him and he wasn't aware that he was looking at her with wide, round eyes. She had wanted to get herself attention, but not just anyone's attention – his attention.
Slowly, the fog in his brain cleared and he was ready to think again. "Wow," he said slowly. "I – I really don't know what to say."
"I mean, what happened to Draco is devastating and don't get me wrong, I liked him loads. I just liked you more." Harry merely listened, not sure how to accept all of this at once. When he didn't said anything for a long moment, she asked, "You were pretty tied up with her, weren't you?" she referred to Ginny.
He nodded, still hung up on her confession. "Er, yeah, pretty tight."
She smiled brightly then and he wasn't sure what he said to cause her to be this happy. "So what do you say? I know you only broke up like yesterday, but I could make you forget her."
Harry was still confused. "Er...what?"
She nodded enthusiastically and her eyes were boring into his. Harry was too stunned by her gaze and he found that he couldn't look away. Her smile softened, and he felt himself smile back goofily. Something was oddly familiar about this moment and he remembered all the times he looked at her that exact way and felt wonderful about it.
She traced a finger lightly on his bicep and with her other hand she held his chin and pulled his head gently to hers. When she closed her eyes, he closed his and the last thing he looked at was her parting lips. He expected the warm and fuzzy feeling that he used to feel whenever he kissed her before, but there was nothing there. When her lips traced his again and again, he was sure of it. Jennifer may be pretty on the outside, and every guy in school wouldn't deny it, but she had no control on Harry's heart anymore. The kiss was empty and wet and nothing more.
Before she could push he tongue in, he pulled back, and tried to smile gently, hoping she won't be offended when he'd turn her down.
"This is so brilliant, Harry!" she said excitedly and Harry was still having a hard time figuring what exactly happened. "I could never have pictured us back together, but it just feels right, right?"
"What?" he said, finally realizing what she'd meant. He looked at her in alarm, his heart racing. "Back together? You and me?"
"Yeah!" she called in a shrilly voice and then lunged herself on him, nearly tackling him over. Her hands were holding his shoulders tight and her face was buried in his neck. "Oh, Harry!"
Harry was so stunned to comprehend how he got into this situation in the first place. It was then that he realized that he didn't even hear the bell ring, nor did he notice the Potions classroom door open and the crowd of fifth years rushing out. He was trying to take Jennifer's hands off him, but was unsuccessful. She grabbed his face in her hand and pressed her lips to him in another hard kiss. This time, however, he didn't respond. His eyes were wide and span around the room while he thought of an idea how to part Jennifer from him without actually hurting her.
He was too slow, apparently. And he let it go too far.
As the crowd in the hallway thinned, his eyes fixed on the opposite wall and realized that someone was standing there and watching them. He blinked and thought he was just imagining. People went through and blocked his view and he wasn't sure. When the sight was clear again, there was no one there.
Harry finally managed to tear himself from Jennifer's hold, shoved her away quickly and jumped to his feet, while still trying to straighten his clothes and look somewhat presentable.
"I can't believe this..." he heard someone mutter angrily.
Harry looked around quickly and was horrified to see Ginny walking away. She shoved her body between people and tried to flee the place. Harry knew then that it was her standing right in front of him, while he was still glued to Jennifer by the lips.
Harry ran after her, leaving Jennifer behind. He watched as Ginny's face changed expressions like a chameleon changed colors. At first, she looked appalled, then outraged, and finally she looked heartbroken and on the verge of tears.
"Ginny, wait!" he called and tried to take hold of her shoulder, but she got away.
"Well, isn't this look familiar," Ginny spat.
"Ginny – I can explain," he said, trying to sound as honest as he was.
"Save it," she said harshly. "Not even twenty-four hours has gone by since you asked me to give you space, and here you are with the next girl who was willing enough to throw herself at you. And right in front of my face! Have you no shame?"
"I swear, this is just a big misunderstanding."
"So you weren't just snogging her?"
She stopped abruptly and Harry ran and stood in front of her, but she refused to look at his face. He gulped hard, fearing that Ginny actually saw the whole thing and not just the last kiss that he didn't respond to. He hoped he was wrong, but he knew that she did see something.
"Funny, because that's how it looked like," she said in a monotone voice and turned around to walk away again. Harry quickly grabbed her hand and stopped her. "Don't touch me!" She tried to yank her hand away, but he wasn't going to let her go, until she would listen and understand.
"I know this looks bad," he started to explain and she rolled her eyes, but he wouldn't let her go yet. "And yes, I did ask for some space, and that," he gestured with his hands towards the end of the hallway where they came from. An uncomfortable feeling spread through him when he saw Jennifer standing behind them, and realized she had followed them here. "That was not a part of that. I was wrong, Ginny! Everything I said yesterday – I take it all back. I don't even know why I said that. And I know I'm making us look like fools in front of the whole school, but I don't care, because I need you to know this: for the past several months I've been pining over you, trying to understand what this thing is that you make me feel and when I finally realized what it was, I threw it away. I was stupid and I deserve you cursing me, hitting me and calling me names, but please, I can't have you away from me again. You don't know what it feels like loving someone and not having them loving you back."
She stopped fighting him and slowly looked at his eyes. He stopped his breath; feeling like time had stopped when she watched him. It was like eternity had passed before she spoke. "Actually, Harry, I do know. You made sure to make me feel like that yesterday and you were pretty clear about what you needed and it wasn't me."
She managed to tug her hand free from his feeble palm and turned her back on him and walked away. Harry didn't try to chase her again. He felt worse than if she had slapped him. It was a dagger to the heart. He knew that any chance he had of Ginny forgiving him had been lost. He had lost his hope once, when he thought that there was no other way her could make her agree to give him a chance to go out with him, but he had been wrong and she had given him that chance. And now he ruined it. For some reason, this time, it felt different. He knew that no matter what he would do, she would not forgive him that easily, if she ever forgave him at all.
He watched her go and the small crowd around him slowly disappeared. Only Jennifer stayed behind. She walked behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. He instantly brushed it off.
"Harry, I'm sorry. I feel so stupid," she said in apology.
He ignored her and walked away. He wasn't sure where he was walking, but he somehow ended up in the Quidditch changing rooms.
He sat down on a lonely bench in the dark, still playing with Ginny's necklace in his hands, thinking about how he managed to lose her. He lost his hold on the chain when his hands grew weak and he let it fall to the floor. With a desperate sigh, he rested his elbows on his knees and bent down to bury his head between his hands.
He guessed he spent most of the day in there. He took notice that it was already getting dark outside, the sun was beginning to set. He was sure that Blaise was looking for him all over the castle, but he didn't care. He thought he could stay here all night and maybe tomorrow he would start fresh. Then again, he thought that Ginny would still be angry with him tomorrow and nothing would be different, so staying here would not make him forget that.
As he gathered all his thoughts and made up his mind to head back to the castle, a warm feeling he was familiar with grazed at his back. Harry turned back, expecting to see someone behind, maybe expecting too much that it would be Ginny, but he was only greeted with the team's lockers.
He wasn't sure why, but there was one locker, right before him, that somehow made him fascinated, if not drawn to. Harry spun around on the bench and stood up to examine it even closer. It took him only a second to realize it was Draco's personal locker.
Harry reached into his robes and pulled out his wand. Hesitantly, he ran his fingers over the green metal door and the padlock. The warmth it was emitting intensified at his touch. Harry's curiousness got the better of him. He tapped his wand at the lock and murmured "Alohomora."
The lock snapped open. Harry quickly took it off and snatched the door open and took a look inside. He smiled at first and then he chuckled. Maybe he was hallucinating or maybe he was dreaming again, but as he reached inside, he grabbed a red Quaffle ball. There was a message written on it in black ink: "Sod off, Captain. Look for the Snitch, you arse."
Harry threw his head back and burst out laughing. He couldn't remember the last time he laughed so hard. A minute after he calmed down, he put the ball back in his friend's locker. He made sure to lock it with more than one locking spell this time. He smiled again to himself. "You got it, Draco."
A/N: I warned you. Don't hate me. Next chapter is supposed to be the last one! Now, I'm not sure if there will be an epilogue after it or not, I guess it would be clearer when I finish the next chapter.
I'm looking forward to read your thoughts. Don't be shy, they're welcome :-)