Author's Note: I'm sorry this took so long to post. There were two issues. First, I think the truth is I really didn't want to finish. It's the last chapter and I am sad! Sniff. And second I have been dealing with a possible problem with the body of the story.
A few people have raised concerns about whether this story blames Harry for not noticing Ginny during her earlier crush. The main point is that it wasn't his fault for not liking her since she would never even speak to him.
I want to take this chance to make it clear that as a reader I do not blame Harry for not liking Ginny. I barely noticed Ginny myself the first time I read books one through four. It wasn't until I reread the entire series that I noticed there is something a little sentimental about the way her character is described and I wondered if she was being set up for something. Then in book five she crashes onto the scene and that is when I felt the first stirrings of shipperdom.
It makes perfect sense why Harry did not like Ginny before and he certainly should not be blamed or punished for it.
The problem is however, that Ginny, being the one who wallowed under the crush, does not have the benefit of our perspective. Also, her reaction is emotional, not logical. When you like someone as much as she apparently liked him, and that person doesn't like you back, it hurts. It doesn't matter how impossible the situation is or how illogical feeling hurt may be. Ginny felt rejected and that left a small scar.
Now Harry, as blameless as he is, must contend with that emotional baggage. And that is why Hermione warns him if he wants Ginny now, he will have to work for it.
The bigger problem is that as an author I have failed to make my point of view clear. But that, it seems, is very, very tricky. I can't give the lines to Ginny herself. I worry I am already walking a line with her by making her so savvy on a few other issues. Here I feel she is still too young and way too close to the situation to have the self-awareness necessary to understand and express these ideas. She will get there, but she will probably be 18 or 20. At least. Harry on the other hand, by Chapter Four anyway, is caught up in the idea of liking her and is panicking that he may have missed his chance. We understand why he didn't like her, but he is now swept under the wave of crushdom and is regretting it. He is also a character that tends to take things onto himself.
Meanwhile - as for why Ginny plays with Harry a bit in Chapter Seven. Having someone suddenly notice you, when he didn't before, can be a delightfully delicious experience. And once Ginny has decided to give Harry a chance, she finds herself riding that emotional high. She admits that to him after the bry bumping. It might not be perfect behaviour, but she is only 15 and the whole thing is shiny and new. And in her defence, Harry does realize her behaviour has changed and knows she is suddenly flirting back. In the mongo post bumping conversation he is ignoring this knowledge because he was already grumpy from his talk with Lupin and he is feeling desperately insecure about the whole sex thing.
As a solution to the issue of whether or not Harry should be blamed for not liking Ginny in the past, I have decided to go back and add a few lines to the conversation between Harry and Hermione at the end of Chapter Three. It doesn't give the full Ginny point of view, because Hermione doesn't have that, but hopefully it helps to clear the air a bit.
And now - on to the last chapter! Eeek.
Bewitched and Bewildered - Chapter 8
It was fairly amazing, not a single day had passed and Harry was already in dangerously hot water with his girlfriend of, he glanced at his watch, twenty hours. This had to be some kind of record. But it wasn't his fault. Not really. He had his own safety to consider after all.
Ginny just kept doing the most annoying things. Like sitting beside him at breakfast. Okay, he hadn't minded the sitting beside business specifically. He especially liked the part where her thigh pressed up against his, reminding certain parts of his body just how wonderful it had felt being with her the night before. But then she tried to hold his hand! And not even discreetly, but right out in front of everyone!
In a fit of panic Harry had slapped her hand away and knocked an entire pitcher of pumpkin juice flying, flooding the table. Hermione sent him a shrewd glance before casting a few cleaning charms, deftly demonstrating her status as the only seventeen-year-old at the table. Ron merely grumbled while lifting his plate in an attempt to rescue his sausages. Ginny, however, didn't speak to him for the rest of the meal. And she moved her thigh.
Harry had visited Remus Lupin again in the afternoon. This time they steadfastly avoided any loaded topics like prophecies and war and the resulting conversation had been extremely pleasant. Comfortable. Harry was already beginning to feel himself enjoying the relationship. It felt good to have an adult back in his life that he could consider, well, his. One day soon, he might even be able to tell Remus about Ginny. Part of him was ready to burst and wanted to spill everything, but every time he even came close, he felt deathly shy about the whole thing and kept quiet. Instead Harry just talked about all his friends. All the while having no idea how often he mentioned Ginny's name, nor realizing how very obvious he was being.
As a result of his trip to St. Mungo's, Harry and Ginny had missed each other at lunch and he couldn't quite figure out if he was disappointed or relieved. He felt blissfully free of the gitters for the entire meal and that was nice. But at the same time there was a small empty hole inside him that he didn't like at all.
Supper was a different matter altogether. Ginny sat across from him and just as Harry was thinking that was the best solution, she couldn't possibly get him into any trouble, he felt a tiny foot brush against his ankle. A foot that was decidedly missing a shoe of any kind and instead was clad in only a very soft cotton stocking. And he knew that because it had found its way inside the bottom of his pant leg. Harry grinned at Ginny, he couldn't help it. He liked her attentions a great deal, despite the fact he felt they put him in grave danger. She grinned back. It was funny, because somehow he could tell it wasn't really a bold seduction, but rather a flirty hello, but that didn't stop him from making a strange noise when the foot left his pant leg and made its way towards his knee.
Ron immediately looked up and asked if Harry was feeling alright. Feeling trapped, Harry reflexively kicked Ginny in the shin. Ginny let out an audible cry and bent forward, presumably rubbing her offended leg. Ron kept staring at Harry. Adding to the bizarre picture, Hermione slammed her book down on the table in an alarming way that usually meant she was on the verge of figuring out some difficult puzzle.
But none of that compared to what happened that night in the library. Harry and Ron were playing a game of chess when Ginny moved over to them to watch the game. She stood next to Harry and put a hand on his shoulder. Harry decided that was okay, it wasn't like they had a no touching rule when they were just friends and besides, it might have meant she had forgiven him for the whole kicking incident. But then, suddenly and without any prior warning, she glided down and sat in his lap!
Harry just as quickly lunged forward and shoved her to the floor where she landed on her bottom with an ungraceful, "Umph," arms and legs sprawled everywhere.
Ron threw his arms in the air in exasperation and yelled, "Oi, mind the board."
Ginny's glare didn't leave Harry as she picked herself up, brushed out her skirt and plopped down in the armchair next to Hermione. That was it. One bry bumping and Harry had already completely ruined their epic love.
Harry watched Hermione's gaze travel back and forth between Ginny's arms-crossed-over-her-chest fury and his own dejected form. Then, turning a bit pink she suddenly gave him the biggest smile he had ever seen. Hermione tried to collect herself and returned to her reading, but she was obviously struggling. Throughout the rest of the night quiet giggles kept emerging from behind her enormous book, as though she was telling herself jokes.
For her own part Ginny's scowl didn't waver.
Ron, fortunately, didn't seem to notice and blessedly, an hour later, he collected his chess pieces and announced his intent to retire to bed. Hermione jumped up and immediately followed him. Ginny, however, kept Harry pinned to his seat with the sheer force of her wrath-filled stare. Harry figured this was only fair. He probably owed her an explanation as to why he appeared intent on doing her physical harm.
Harry decided it was best to remain right where he was, let her make the first move. After waiting a minute to make sure no one remained in earshot, Ginny rose from her seat. She marched over to him and pointed her wand directly at his face. "You have precisely thirty seconds to explain yourself and you had better make it good."
Harry raised an eyebrow at her. "You do realize you aren't allowed to use that outside of school?"
"I think this might be worth my first warning," she said airily. "And besides, I'm not even sure the Ministry can detect underage magic here at headquarters. Care to find out?"
Staring down the tip of her wand and still having never seen the infamous Bat-Bogey in person, Harry decided it would be best to get right to the point. "I haven't told Ron yet." There was a pause as Ginny narrowed her eyes at him. "About us."
Her wand wobbled a bit, but Ginny maintained her aim. "Do you want me to tell him?"
Alarmed, Harry nearly shouted, "No!" He raised a hand in defeat. "No, I'll tell him. It should come from me." Obviously. If Ginny talked to Ron, Harry might not have a chance to prepare. Whereas if Harry broke the news face to face, he would at least see the punch coming.
"Why haven't you told him?" Not only her tone, but also the way Ginny poked his nose with her wand implied his answer had better be the right one.
Harry couldn't believe she even had to ask. The explanation should have been readily apparent. "Because I don't want to die."
Ginny snorted, "He isn't going to hurt you."
Harry wasn't so sure about that. If Ron found out what had happened the night before, Harry was certain he would die long before Voldemort ever got anywhere close to him. But really, Harry was actually far more upset about the bigger picture. Harry slumped in his chair, "He IS going to stop speaking to me again."
Ginny looked at him like he was off his nut. She laughed, "Are you serious?"
Harry couldn't forget how fast Ron's attitude had changed about Dean last spring. "He always hates your boyfriends just on principal. He doesn't think anyone is good enough for you."
Ginny sighed and returned her wand to her pocket. "Oh Harry, the only reason they weren't good enough for me was because they weren't you."
"I really think you're wrong about that," he grumbled.
Ginny tilted her head and smiled at him. "Ron adores you."
Harry sat up straight and protested, "He is going to decide I am a worthless git."
Ginny wasn't having any of it. "He is going to be delighted. It is going to be one of the happiest days of his life."
She moved to sit in his lap again and this time Harry wrapped his arms around her waist. "I suppose I should forgive you, but only because you're obviously mental," Ginny said as she started to twirl a piece of his hair. "I still can't believe it though. You spent the last few months pursuing me and you didn't bother telling your best friend what was going on in your life?"
"No," Harry answered, still sounding sullen. Then a bit of panic set in. "You didn't mention my pursuing you to him did you?"
Ginny scoffed, "Of course not. I didn't want to have to deal with explaining to him why I was rejecting HIS best friend."
Her hand cupped his cheek and pulled his face towards hers. They rested for a moment, foreheads touching and he marvelled again just how amazing it was to finally be allowed to share this with her. Then insistent lips were moving against his own and he clutched her waist, holding on for the ride. When she sucked his tongue into her mouth he found he wanted, somewhat desperately, to push her to the floor and lose himself in a repeat of the night before. He couldn't help but wonder if there really wasn't something just a little bit wrong with him. But then she suddenly switched positions, straddling his legs and pressed herself down on him in a way that made it seem like nothing mattered except keeping her exactly where she was. It was when she started moving against him that he decided once and for all that he really needed to trust himself, and especially trust this girl, and just let these things go.
The next day, Harry knew what he had to do. He didn't want to do it. With every fibre of his being, he was resisting the very idea, but he had to tell Ron.
It was strange, Harry had been quite aware of the fact that he was going behind Ron's back in his attempts to woe Ginny, that he had only confided in Hermione when Ron was not around, but he had never really stopped to consider the consequences of actually managing to get together with her. Now he was deeply concerned he was about to find himself in the horrible position of having to make a choice between his best friend and his girlfriend. And he just couldn't fathom it.
Harry couldn't imagine not having Ron as a friend. Well, actually he could. It would be fourth year all over again and that would be insufferable. And now, even though it had only been two days, Harry found he didn't want to have to imagine life without Ginny. That was like the sure path to darkness, or something else equally melodramatic.
The problem was Harry didn't see how it was going to be possible to have both. At the very least, his relationship with Ron would be dreadfully strained. Fretting over the inevitable change, Harry slowly made his way to the library, where he knew Ron and Hermione were hiding, feeling a little as though he was walking to his doom.
Harry poked his head in the door to find his two friends looking rather comfortable, snuggled on the couch together, reading a book. Harry cleared his throat as he walked in the room. Apparently, neither Ron nor Hermione felt inclined to get up, but they both smiled at him expectantly. It must be nice, Harry imagined, not to have to worry about getting caught all the time. It was with this thought in mind that Harry steeled his resolve.
"I was wondering if I could have a minute," Harry began, "with Ron." Nobody moved. "Alone," he clarified, saying the word with exaggerated emphasis, hoping Hermione would get the point.
Comprehension immediately dawned on Hermione's face and she quickly rose from her spot, pushing on Ron's chest for leverage. Upon hearing her boyfriends' groan she bent down and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips. "That's alright, Harry," she said, "I just want to pop off to my room to get something anyway." As she brushed passed Harry on her way out the door, she gave him a brilliant smile and a wink.
Ron slowly got to his feet, as though sensing the gravity of the impending conversation. "Alright there Harry?"
"Yeah," Harry responded automatically. "It's just, I need to talk to you about something." He paused, bracing himself. Ron appeared to be waiting calmly. Harry took a deep breath and charged ahead. "It's about your sister. Ginny." As if Ron didn't know who his sister was. This was going badly. Harry decided just to keep talking and get it over with. "The thing is, I think I love her. I mean, it's hard to say for sure, because I don't have a lot of experience with these things, but I think I feel as though I love her."
Mercifully, Ron stopped him. "Hold on. Let me get this straight. You think, you might feel, as though you love my sister?" His hands were in his pockets. At least that was a good sign.
Harry realized his mistake and feeling a grand proclamation was obviously needed, he decided to make one. "No, I mean I do. I love Virginia Weasley."
Ron's expression darkened a bit.
Harry decided to keep going while he had the chance and perhaps he would have a shot at making Ron understand. "And I know that now you suddenly think I'm a worthless git, but I would like to point out that you didn't feel that way thirty seconds ago. And anyway, I can't help it, she makes me happy."
Now Ron just looked confused. "What are you going on about?"
"You're mad at me," Harry stated, not really sure why the yelling hadn't started.
Ron snorted, "No, I'm not."
"Maybe I should be more clear," Harry said. He really wanted to get whatever confrontation they were going to have over with and he didn't understand why it seemed Ron was being purposely obtuse. "Your sister and I, we're a couple and we, you know, occasionally, do couple type things, together."
Ron put up a hand, stopping Harry from explaining further. "I don't need the details." He put his hand back down and shrugged. "And I'm not blind. It's been obvious that something has been going on between you two for months now. I was just waiting for the two of you to figure it out and tell me. It was bloody hard not interfering you know." He looked down at his shoes and his ears tinged a bit. "I kinda always hoped it would work out between the two of you."
After a moment's pause, Ron suddenly looked back up again sharply, his demeanor a bit concerned, "But Harry, mate, my sister's name is Ginevra."
Harry frowned at the ground. "Well, now that's embarrassing."
Almost as though she had been waiting just outside the door, Hermione chose that moment to walk back into the room. "Are we all settled then?" she asked.
Ron looked a bit aghast. "You knew about this?"
Hermione put her arms around him and rested her head against his shoulder, all the while smiling at Harry mischievously. "I only guessed that they were actually together. But yes, I did know that Harry was campaigning for Ginny's affections."
Ron remained rigid, refusing to return the hug. "I don't think I like this, being left out and all."
Hermione sighed, "I'm sure you'll think of some way I can make it up to you."
"And on that note," Harry laughed, "I'll leave the two of you alone."
Harry immediately went to find Ginny. He knew she would be very amused to hear the news. And somehow he didn't mind the idea of her laughing at him. He was kind of looking forward to it actually.
Much as he had expected, Ginny was in her room, sprawled out on her bed, surrounded by books and parchment. She was sucking on a sugar quill she clutched in one hand and madly scribbling away with the other. When she heard him enter the room, her head popped up. "How did it go?"
Harry leaned against the doorframe. "Apparently you were right and I've had my head up my ass as usual."
"I told you," she said, sounding very self-satisfied. She started pushing her parchments aside and moved to sit up on her knees. As she did, she told him, "It was really annoying actually. I decided to give up on you, but Ron apparently just couldn't let go of the dream. You have no idea how frustrating it is for your brother to want you to pine for someone who doesn't care for you."
"I'm sorry," Harry said and he meant it. He still hated the idea that she had once ached for him, the way he had for her almost all fall. He walked forward and stood in front of her, staring down into her bright brown eyes.
"Hey, I didn't mean it like that," Ginny said softly. She tugged at his hand and pulled him down beside her. "Ron might have preferred I fall at you feet the moment you finally gave me a second glance, but I think we're better this way. Stronger. And honestly," she grinned, "I could never work out if he was really worried about my best interests or just wanted to find some way to make you his brother."
"Did Ron talk to you, about me?" Harry suddenly found himself fascinated by the possibilities.
"No!" she said, sounding a bit scandalized by the very idea. "But he was so obvious. He made his wishes pretty clear without needing to be direct about it. Every time my personal life came up, you could just tell what he wanted." She rolled her eyes. "Well, okay, YOU couldn't."
There was really only one thing left then, might as well get it over with as well. "So when are we going to tell your mum and dad?" Ginny looked startled and a bit guilty. He wasn't sure he liked that look. "What?"
She swallowed. "I already told Mum."
"When?" Harry asked, trying not to sound too horrified.
"Yesterday. While you were out visiting Lupin." She laughed at him a bit. "I was happy! You couldn't very well expect me not to tell her! Besides, she'll tell Dad and then it will all be taken care of. That's how these things work."
She shifted her position again, sitting astride him, legs wrapped around his waste. Harry pulled her even closer and she tucked her head down into the crook of his neck. It was amazing, here he was, seemingly getting everything he wanted. Well, except that wasn't really true. He was beginning to accept that he was never going to find all the answers he wanted about Sirius. And still, there was Voldemort. There was always Voldemort.
Ginny seemed to feel the shift in his mood. She lifted her head and gazed at him. "What is it?"
Harry swallowed. His throat hurt terribly. "I don't want to die."
Ginny softly stroked his hair. "You're not going to die Harry. Voldemort can't win. Evil can't win, so he has to be the one to die."
Harry took a deep breath. He knew he had to tell her. "It could be both of us."
For a moment, Ginny's hand stopped moving. "What?"
"The prophecy," he said. "There was a dictionary, and I can't figure it out and even Hermione couldn't tell for sure... It could mean that we both have to die."
Somehow Ginny didn't look surprised. "I know," she said in a small voice.
Harry was stunned. How could she know? He was certain of the fact that neither Ron nor Hermione would have broken his trust. "How long have you known?"
Ginny looked a little sad. "Since you told me what the prophecy said. But you didn't know and I didn't think it fit my position as cheerleader to tell you."
Harry nodded, he could accept that.
Ginny's voice sounded stronger as she repeated, "You're still not going to die though."
Harry smirked darkly. "How would you know?"
Ginny took his face in her hands and looked at him very seriously. "There is just no way your story is going to end that way. You're going to have a happy ending. When I look at you, I can just feel it."
Harry wasn't so sure. How could he be? "I don't think it works that way," he confided. "Cedric had no idea what was coming. One second he was there, happy, and then he was just gone, like it was nothing. Sirius, at least he knew he was in a fight, but he was laughing. He thought he was winning."
Ginny rested her forehead against his. "I don't know what to say Harry. Because I am not going to agree with you. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it." A moment later she tilted her head back and looked a bit cheeky. "We could make a wager if you wanted."
Harry frowned. "That hardly seems fair. If I win, I won't be around to collect."
Ginny's lips brushed against his own. "I could just promise to make losing worth your while."
It wasn't that he was convinced he was going to die, but there were some serious doubts about his continued existence, which were almost always lingering somewhere in his mind. For a moment, Harry set those aside and tried to see his future through her eyes. Seeing himself grown up, with a beautiful redheaded wife, perhaps a few children. Finally, a family of his own. In a little house somewhere. Surrounded in warmth. Freedom. Harry decided then and there, that for however long it took, those would be the images he would try to see, rather than his impending demise. It wouldn't be easy, but he would try. And maybe it would give him the strength he needed to survive.
Harry ran his fingers through Ginny's soft mane of hair. "That would be nice," he said.
Ginny gave him a smashing smile, a quick kiss on the lips and settled her head down against his shoulder. They sat in silence, arms wrapped around each other, for a few moments, just enjoying the peace of being together, all issues now finally being laid aside.
"Why didn't you tell me your name was Ginevra?"
She sat bolt upright and looked at him. "Oh."
"It's rather embarrassing actually," Harry frowned.
"No! I didn't mean it to be. I just..." She looked down and blushed. "Everyone just calls me Ginny. I liked that you were calling me by my full name."
Harry raised an eyebrow, incredulous. "Even if it was the wrong one?"
She glared at him a bit. "I know. It's silly. But every time you did it, it took me by surprise and I liked it. It felt special. And I, I didn't want to, you know, ruin the moment." She blushed furiously again.
Harry put a hand to her cheek and took her in. Softly, "Ginevra." Ginny watched him, expectantly. "It's going to take a while to get used to."
Ginny lowered her gaze. "It is a bit unusual."
Harry leaned in and kissed her slowly. Barely pulling away he whispered the name again. "Ginevra." Noses touching. "I think it suits you. I think it's beautiful."
Author's Note: Well, that's it. Sniff. All of it. I am so freaking sad you wouldn't believe it. This has been so much fun. I don't know if I will ever write another Potter fic, let alone a sequel. A few seeds started germinating in the last couple days - fertilized with my sadness over being finished. The strongest one being the idea to skip ahead two years, after Voldemort is dead and Harry has to figure out what to do with his life. But again, it is just a seed and I don't know how I would ever finish before July 16th after which this universe will cease to exist essentially.
In case you were wondering, in this universe Harry does survive and does have his happy ending. There is a paragraph in chapter seven that looked to the future where I tried to make that clear. But in case you missed it - he lives, he marries Ginny, happy ever after.
Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed. Your continued comments and support have been absolutely awesome.