Author's Notes: Beta'd by James Milamber and Opalish. And I love them both dearly.
So, I wrote this because it seems like Harry's taking all the heat for breaking up with Ginny. And really, I felt he needed a bit of a break. So, with no further ado...
Seven Days and Seven Conversations
I've had some bad summers in the past. Three, in particular, stick out in my mind. After all, the summer after my first year I spent dreading the nighttime, when unimaginable nightmares crept into my dreams; after my third year I was miserable because Harry was in love with Cho Chang and Voldemort had returned; and in my fifth year, a good friend, Sirius Black, had died.
So, yeah. I've had some miserable summer vacations. This summer, unfortunately, is worse than them all.
Today, Harry Potter is coming to the Burrow. He'll stay for a week, Bill and Fleur will get married, and then he, Ron, and Hermione will make themselves scarce and Apparate to Godric's Hollow so that they can track down the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's Horcruxes. (Hey, just because no one tells me anything doesn't mean I don't find out.)
I may not have told Harry, I am hurt by The Breakup. And, in a way, I let it ruin our friendship. Because - because how can I look at him the same, knowing that I love him and I almost had him? How can I laugh with him, talk with him, comfort him, knowing that he slipped through my fingers?
Maybe he won't realize that he's lost me. I'll pretend that we're fine, that I'm fine, that everything is fine and will be fine and you go on, I'm here for you. But it won't be, and I won't be. I can't be.
Is that selfish? Yes. But I don't care.
Judging from the commotion downstairs, I'm going to take a wild guess that he's arrived. Hermione pops her head in, smiling brightly. "Harry's here," she chirps. "Are you going to come say hello?"
"'Course," I say dully. "Gimme a minute."
She nods, pulling her head from the room. I stand, slowly meandering out of my bedroom and down the hallway. I pause on the top of the stairs, taking a deep breath. Then I descend.
I toss Harry a fake, bright smile and gently kiss his cheek. "Welcome home," I say cheerily, talking to a spot on the wall behind him. "It's good to see you again."
He gives me a light hug and nods into my shoulder. "It's good to see you, too."
I smile at the same spot as before and back up, letting Mum engulf him in another hug. Backing into the kitchen, I let my expression fall and a heavy sigh escape me. I turn and quietly fall into a seat at the table. The door behind me swings open.
It's Hermione. She sits across from me, not saying anything for a moment, and then frowns. "So, the cold shoulder?" She asks softly. "What's that about?"
I arch my eyebrows at her. "Cold shoulder? What do you mean? I kissed his cheek, I gave him a hug, a nice welcoming ... where in that did I give him the cold shoulder?"
She shoots a me glare that reads 'don't-pull-that-on-me'. "Ginny, the whole time you were talking to the wall the whole time. I mean, I know you miss it when it's gone, but - "
I stick my tongue out at her. "Oh, haha. Very funny. You ought to do a routine."
Hermione shakes her head ruefully, sighing. "I thought you were okay," she tells me sadly. "I thought you understood." She pauses. "Harry thought you understood."
I shrug. "I do," I tell her honestly. "I am, and I do. I understand. And I am okay. I'm brilliant, in fact. I just can't look at him ever again." She sits back, waiting for me to continue. I sigh. "Look, Hermione. I get it. I understand that he doesn't want to put me in any more danger than I'm already in. I'm flattered, really. Touched. But no matter what his motives were and are, that doesn't change anything. We're still broken up. We're still apart. And no matter how right it is, it still hurts. And that hurt won't go away, no matter what I tell myself."
The older girl's eyes are sad, but she nods. "Yeah - I know."
"He kissed me first," I tell her. "I wouldn't have made a move, if he hadn't - "
"Girls?" We both start at the sound of my mother's voice. She smiles and holds the door open. "The boys are waiting outside. I think a game of Quidditch is scheduled."
I smile at her and Hermione and stand. "That's great, but...I'm really just not in the mood. Tell Ron and Harry that I'm sorry."
I wake late the next day. My room is cold, and I'm huddled under the blankets. Hermione has already gone downstairs, and the house is quiet. I glance at the clock - 11:45 A.M.
I hear Ron moving around in his room next door, low voices seeping through the wall. I press my ear gently against it.
"Harry, you've just got to - ouch! damnit! - talk to her. You broke up with her, after all."
"Yeah - but Ron, she said she understood. I thought...I mean, I thought she realized that I just don't want her getting hurt. I'd die if anything ever happened to Ginny."
I pull my ear away from the wall and stand. Grabbing a robe, I wrap it around my person and amble down the steps, towards the kitchen.
Part of me wants to march into Ron's room and tell Harry that I do understand. That I'm grateful, in a strange way. That it's him who doesn't get it. It's him who's too stubborn for his own good - not me.
Mum greets me with a light kiss as I stumble into the kitchen. She tosses me a poppy-seed muffin and ruffles my hair. "Take a seat, love," she orders with a smile. I do as she says. "It's been a long few months, hasn't it?"
"Er - yeah. It has been. What with Dumbledore, and Bill, and the wedding." And Harry, I add silently. She smiles.
"And Harry," she agrees, nodding. I arch my eyebrows. I'm pretty sure I didn't say that out loud. I force a smile.
"Mum, Harry and I broke up for all the right reasons. It's okay. I'm fine. Really." She smiles again, leaning against the counter and picking up her needles. She stares off into the distance, a strange expression on her face.
She turns to look at me after a few moments of quiet. "You and Harry broke up for all the wrong reasons, dear," she says with a shrug. "And I think you know that."
I stare down at my muffin. "It doesn't matter, Mum," I tell her firmly. "I'm - "
"You, Ginevra Weasley, are not all right." I turn my gaze up towards her, slowly, confused. Hasn't she been telling me how proud she is that I'm taking things so well? "You're hurt. You're heartbroken. The boy you love has left you. And there's no feeling quite like that one." I don't say anything. She walks over to me and sits in the chair opposite. "Ginny. Dear. You know I love you and want to protect you and keep you safe. But, above all else, your happiness is what's important. And sometimes ... sometimes we have to take risks, for and with the people we love."
I stare at her, and slowly feel my eyes fill. "Mum," I manage through the lump in my throat, "I love you."
Her own smile is tremulous. "I love you too, Ginny," she tells me. "More than words can say." She leans over the table and gently kisses my forehead. "Now you just think about what I've said. I've got to go keep an eye on your father - he's gotten his hands on some new Muggle invention called a Copooper, or something to that effect." She rolls her eyes. "Men."
I watch her leave, wiping my eyes and taking a bite of my muffin.
The whole family is in the air, even Mum. She's playing Chaser for Dad's team. It's me, Bill, Charlie, Hermione, and Fred versus Harry, Ron, Dad, Mum, and George. The 'Sexy Seven-Minus-Two's versus the 'Fantastic Five'.
The Fantastic Five is winning, but only by twenty points and it's our possession. Fred bats a Bludger towards Harry and grabs the Quaffle from a petrified Hermione. He tosses it in the air and slams it towards me. I catch it on my stomach and dodge Dad's outstretched hand. Mum and I enter a little game of chicken (after all these years ... who would have thought Molly Weasley was such a monster at Quidditch?). We both swerve moments before collision. I steer myself back towards Ron and wait for until I can see the freckle on his left earlobe before I toss it in.
He misses it, and I let out a whoop of joy. "Oh! Oh! Take that, Ronald Weasley!"
He smirks at me. "Just you wait, Ginevra. I'm just getting warmed up." I poke my tongue out, shutting my eyes and laughing ...
And don't see the Bludger until it's embedded itself in my stomach. "Ouch," I mutter, and then pass out.
I wake up in the living room. Dad is kneeling in front of me, gently wiping at my face with a wet towel. I let out a small moan, and he smiles softly. "Easy now," he murmurs. "Stay still." I make a face and he laughs. "You took quite a tumble, young lady. Almost did some serious damage. Listen to your old man for once, you ruffian."
I toss him a weak grin. "I don't really have the energy to argue that point," I mutter.
He smiles and moves himself so that he's sitting at my feet's end of the couch. "How does your head feel?"
"My head is fine," I answer with a grim smile. "It's my stomach that's bothering me."
He nods. "Good. I was afraid you'd hit your noggin when you fell off your broomstick." I shake my head. "Well, Ginbug, you've had quite the year, haven't you?" I raise my eyebrows and wait for him to clarify. "You took your O.W.L.s, snagged the boy of your dreams, lost him, lost your Headmaster, fought Death Eaters, nearly lost your brother, and now broke four of your ribs."
I blush. "Harry isn't - "
"I've been trying to work out which is the worst," he continues, ignoring my interruption. "At first, I thought it was losing Dumbledore. Easily. But then I got to thinking that losing your Headmaster was devastating, but you'd be able to move on all right. You'd be able to survive that after a little bit of mourning. So then I moved on to almost losing Bill. But that was silly - because you didn't lose him after all, did you?" I shake my head dumbly, not liking the way this is headed. "So not Dumbledore, and not Bill ... well, fighting Death Eaters was the next natural pick. But as I thought about it, did you ever get hurt during the fight? Not really. You were damned lucky."
"I know," I whisper. "You have no idea."
He shrugs his agreement. "You know what came next? It's something I can't shake. I can't seem to find a way around losing the boy you love. I tried thinking, 'she'll mourn, and then move on,' but then I pictured Molly leaving me and thought, Could I? And what if I saw her every day, her very presence rubbing salt in an already raw wound? Would I get able to move on from that? My answer was no. So I tried again - 'she's only fifteen, this isn't her One True Love.' But as I mulled that over, as I watched you and how you interacted with Harry, I came to realize that I was wrong in that area as well."
"Dad," I interrupt, feeling my eyes fill as he speaks, "Dad, stop - "
He ignores my request. "Finally, I thought, 'She'll understand the reasons why he ended it. She'll understand and realize that it is for the best, that she's better off this way.' And then something happened, Ginny. Something more horrible than I could ever imagine. Do you know what that was?"
I shake my head silently, and Dad's eyes bare into mine. "I realized, Ginny, that I was right.
"I realized that you did understand. You did realize that it was all for the best. And that you were willing to lose the boy you loved so that he could feel safe. You were willing to risk it all - your heart, your happiness - so that he could feel as though he had something less to lose. So that he felt less vulnerable. And that, Ginny, nearly killed me."
I clear my throat, my voice hoarse. "I - I did it for me, Dad, I want to be safe, too - "
He waves me away. "Oh, piffle. You know as well as I do that it is not in your nature to put yourself before others. If it had been anyone other than Harry, telling you to keep yourself safe, you would have laughed in their face, would have told them, 'Sorry, but I'm not going to hide away while the others fight.'" His looks straight at me. "That's the daughter I raised, Ginny. That's the daughter I love. The one that doesn't give in without a fight. The one that goes after the things she wants. I raised a daughter who wouldn't let the boy she loves run away because he's afraid."
He shrugged. "But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the girl you've become, for Harry's sake, is the daughter I raised. Just know, Ginny - what you are doing, for Harry, isn't strength. And it isn't giving him strength, either. It is letting him be weak. It is letting him be weak because you think it's what is for the best. But ask yourself, Ginny - is it?"
Dad stands and stretches. He gently bends over and kisses my forehead. "Think about it, Ginbug. I love you, baby girl." He gently ruffles my hair and leaves the room.
My reading is interrupted by a soft knock. I'm tempted to ignore it but call out, "Come in!" The door cracks open and Ron slips inside. He quietly shuts it and turns to face me.
"'Lo, Gin," he greets with a lopsided grin. "What are you reading?"
I roll my eyes. "Magical Me," I lie, grinning as his face darkens. "Ron - I'm kidding."
"Oh. Well, good. Don't believe anything Lockhart says. I mean, he's nuts. And a liar. And he was going to leave you down there, in the Chamber, you know." I sigh. I know. "But he's not what I came here to talk about," Ron continues, seeing my face.
"I came to talk about Harry and your treatment of him."
I stare at him for a moment, and then say dully, "Get out." He blinks at me in surprise.
I glare. "You heard me. Get. Out. I don't need you to stand there and lecture me on how I'm supposed to treat my ex-boyfriend - "
Ron pulls his hands into the air in a gesture of defeat. "Whoa, Gin, how do you know that I'm going to lecture you? Maybe I've come to say that you're doing the right thing. That Harry needs to know what he did was wrong. That, in behaving the way you are, you're telling him, essentially, that he needs to tough it up and grow some balls."
I blink, momentarily derailed. "I - whoa. Visual, Ron."
He waves my comment away. "I mean, strictly speaking, I'm not supposed to disagree with my best mate on women, you know? I'm supposed to totally agree with him - women are nuts. But maybe I was going to break the number seven rule of best mate-man-ship and tell you that even though I love Harry - in a totally heterosexual way, mind - I think he's wrong. I think that he's fallen for a girl who can handle herself, and he needs to recognize that. Maybe I was even going to go so far as to say that he's a royal prat who needs to stop trying to protect everyone and everything, especially my little sister. But that would be pretty hypocritical, so even if that's my opinion, I won't voice it."
I feel my lips twitch upwards, and love for my big brother soars into my chest. "For all you know," Ron continues blithely, "I came in here to say that Harry gets the message you've been sending these past few days, and maybe it's time to go to stage two - corner him and tell him he's an impossible idiot. Maybe I wanted you to say that if he's going to love you, he's going to love all of you, even the part that isn't a damsel in distress and won't let him protect you."
Ron shrugs. "But, since you want me to get out, I guess you'll never find out if that's what I was going to say. I guess you'll never know if I wanted to tell you that I love you and go get 'em or ask you what's for lunch. Anyway, I'll just be going. Maybe Hermione knows."
He winks at me and slips outside.
Luna is in the Burrow.
It's a strange feeling, seeing her again. The last time we spoke, I was gushing about how Harry had finally kissed me, how all my dreams had come true...and she was smiling because she's Luna and other people's trust and love and joy in her makes her the happiest she can be.
I smile at her. "Hello, Luna," I greet softly. "How are you?"
She shrugs. "Not very well," she says frankly. "Voldemort is at large, you know. And the Quibbler just isn't selling like it used to."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I tell her honestly.
She sighs. "I know you are." She sits herself down on the couch. "I was very sorry to hear about you and Harry," she says sadly. "I always thought he was smarter than that."
I smile. "Yeah, me too," I agree.
Luna meets my eyes. "But then, I always thought you were smarter, too." I blink at her, confused. Me? What did I do? "Letting him go," she clarifies. "One of the stupidest things you've ever done, Ginny. Letting him go when you still love him and he still loves you."
I fasten my eyes on the floor. "This isn't about me, Luna - "
"Then who is it about?"
"Oh," Luna agrees, nodding, "So Harry isn't still in love with you?"
My jaw drops. "I - well - I mean - I think he is," I answer slowly, "But that's completely beside the point - "
I glare at her. "Everyone keeps saying that, keeps saying that I need to get him back, but - "
Luna blinks serenely at me. "Hasn't it occurred to you that everyone is right? So many opinions that are similar usually proves something to be correct." She shrugs. "Of course, that's not always the case."
I sigh, throwing myself onto a nearby armchair. "Look, Luna, you don't understand, okay? No one understands. I can't go to Harry. He needs to come to me."
The blonde girl absently twirls a lock of hair around her finger. "Oh," she says. I nod, relieved that someone finally gets it. "Why?"
The question takes me by surprise. "I - why? Because he has to learn that he's an idiot! I can't always be telling him these things - "
"Someone has to," Luna interjects calmly, and I am reminded strongly of Dumbledore. "Or else how will he learn?"
"Luna," I grind out, frustrated, "He needs to make the first move. It needs to be him. Okay? He's the one who wanted to break up, and he needs to be the one who makes up."
She mulls that over for a minute. "That's not very fair," she says finally. "Making him do all three." I arch an eyebrow at her. "Well, he asked you out first. And then he broke up with you. And now you want him to have to fix it, as well? Ginny, you don't seem to be pulling your own in this relationship. I mean, you're making him do all the hard stuff. That doesn't seem very nice." I blink. I can't really argue with that. "It seems to me," Luna continues, "That everyone makes mistakes now and then. And when they do, somebody needs to fix that mistake before it's too late."
She shrugs. "You know, I thought I heard your Mum was cooking pumpkin pie? I admit, I have a strong addiction to it. I think I'll go see..."
I stare at the empty doorway.
What if she's right? What if everyone is right? What if it really is up to me?
Hermione corners me next. I'm beginning to suspect that there is some sort of conspiracy in this house.
"I've been thinking," she says as soon as she's in hearing distance. I'm sitting out by the lake, staring over the serene waters. "About Harry." I toss her a weary smile as she sits down next to me. "And I think - I think that you're right."
I frown. "You do?" All this week, people have been telling me that I'm wrong, that I need to get over the hurt by getting Harry back. It's a strange change of pace, finding someone that agrees with me - but not, bizarrely, one that I find myself liking very much.
Hermione nods. "Yes, absolutely," she says. "I mean, he hurt you. And anyway, he kissed you first, right?"
"So it's totally his responsibility, what happens in your relationship. I mean, he started it." She pauses and then adds dryly, "He also finished it. But it's obviously got to be up to him to start it again. After all - he kissed you first."
I shake my head. "That's - that's not what I meant, when I said 'he kissed me first'."
Hermione frowns. "Oh. Then what did you mean?"
"I meant..." I trail off. "I meant that..." She gazes at me patiently, waiting. What did I mean? I meant that he - well, that he'd started it. That he was responsible for there ever being a relationship in the first place.
But that sounds eerily like the load of bull Hermione just spouted.
"I don't know what I meant," I finish finally. "But...I don't like that. What you just said. I mean, it takes two people to have a relationship."
Hermione looks confused. "But, Ginny, if that's true than shouldn't you be trying to get Harry back? I mean, if it takes two people, shouldn't you be responsible for setting Harry straight - just like he's responsible for you?"
She shrugs, getting to her feet. "Anyway, I'm taking your earlier words to heart, Gin. Ron needs to start our relationship - that way I don't have to do anything. I can just sit back and enjoy the better bits, while he works out all the tough stuff. And if he doesn't...well, I'll just wallow in self-pity, I guess. Like you." She flashes me a smile.
"What? Hermione, no! You have to take responsibility, too - "
She grins and bends down. "Practice what you preach, Gin," she whispers before striding away.
I let out a growl of frustration and shout to her retreating form, "...And I'm not wallowing in self-pity!"
"You're miserable and I hate it." I turn in surprise at the sound of Bill's voice. He is leaning against the door jam, his arms folded over his chest and his brow furrowed. "You're usually pretty upbeat, but all this summer you've been utterly run-down."
I roll my eyes at him. "Bill," I say laughingly, "You're paranoid. I'm fine."
He arches both his eyebrows. "Is that so?" He asks. "I think you're lying." He smirks at me. "I'm your oldest brother, little Gin. I know when you're lying." I sigh.
"Look, Bill, if you're here to talk about Harry - "
He shakes his head, cutting me off. "I'm not. I'm here to talk about you." I frown at him in disbelief. It seems like Harry is the only thing anybody talks to me about, these days. "I'm here to talk about you and how you're miserable." He ignores my feeble protest. "Look, Ginny. I don't really care about Harry. He's a nice enough bloke, but he's not my little sister. What I care about, is you. I care if you're happy, or sad, or broken-hearted. And I don't know if you're just down about Dumbledore, or losing your favorite big brother - " he flashes me a cocky grin, "but what I do know is that you're upset. And I hate it."
I smile, love filling my whole person. "I'm really okay, Bill," I promise.
"Don't lie to me, Gin." It's said quietly, but firmly. I look away, not meeting his eyes. "You're a good liar, but not good enough."
"You're right," I say wryly. "I never could get anything past you, could I?" He shakes his head fondly. "Well, then, fine. I admit it, I'm not at my best. But...I think I'm going to be okay. Eventually."
He arches his eyebrows. "How?"
That gives me a pause. "I - I don't know," I admit. "I - I just have this feeling that everything will be all right, some day."
He shrugs. "Some day isn't good enough, I'm afraid." He studies me for a moment and then says slowly, "You know...back in Egypt, I come across these curses that are so, incredibly complex, and I can't even begin to break it. I'll study for hours and hours and hours - I spend weeks looking up counter-curses and counter-jinxes, but I never find the actual curse needed. And that's normal, because sometimes you have to combine counter-curses to break something that powerful. The trick, of course, is knowing which ones to use." Bill gazes at his hands for a moment. Then, "You know why I am such a good curse-breaker, Ginny?"
I shake my head, interested in spite of myself. "Because I go to the source. I think, 'Why would someone put a curse here?' Most of the time you'd think the obvious answer would be, 'To prevent break-in; theft.' And that's true. But why? Valuables? Yes. Privacy? Probably. But what, really, in the end, would make someone invent something this strong, just to protect a corpse?" He lets me think it over for a moment. "You know what I've found the answer is, nine times out of ten?"
"Love." I blink at him, confused. "Love, Ginny. Somebody loved whoever is dead in those tombs. Somebody loved them and wanted them to have a good afterlife."
I frown. "Yeah - or they were just really, really powerful."
Bill laughs. "You don't know much about Egypt, Gin," he says fondly. "They did put things up to protect the powerful, yes. But curses like the ones I'm talking about...those aren't just for the powerful. Not just for money. It takes something, something inside, to build the curse up that strong."
I smile. "That's a nice concept," I agree. "But what's it got to do with me?"
He ruffles my hair. "Everything," he insists. "You say you'll be fine. Someday. You have a feeling. My best advice is just ... go to the source, and fix the problem." He winks and presses a kiss to the top of my head. "See you at dinner, Wee One."
"See you at dinner, Bill."
"Dearest, darlingest little sister! We've missed you, oh yes we have! Who have we missed, Fred?"
"Why, Ginny Winny Wee One, that's who, George!"
"Fred, George," I return dryly. "What do you want?"
Fred pulls an affronted expression. "We just wanted to come see you," he insists with an easy grin. "I mean, we wanted to make sure you were Harry."
I blink. "Make sure I was - ?"
George sends me a funny look. "Happy. You know - a state of bliss? Content? It's sort of like the look on Ron's face when he's just had a really, really good Harry and his belly is totally full."
I frown. This has to be some sort of prank. "Fred - George - "
"Now, now, Ginuea Pig, it's our turn to talk, not Harry's."
"So. We've harryed some very disturbing rumors concerning our dear little sister. We hear that you aren't happy."
"This is so distressing, little Ginny. It makes us rather Harry."
My head is starting to hurt. "All right, stop it," I say sternly. "Spit it out without all this 'Harry' business." Both Fred and George wear identical expressions of disappointment.
"It didn't work, Fred."
"It was your idea, George, don't look at me!"
"Yes, well - I guess we'll have to say it plain, won't we?"
"Guess we will."
I glare. "Both of you need to say whatever you want to say and be done with it." My brothers sigh heavily and fall in a dramatic huff onto the floor beside our living room couch. "That's better. Now, what can I do for you?"
George winks. "O contraire, my petite cheri! I think the question is - "
"What can we do for you?"
I arch my eyebrows. "You can do nothing. I'm happy as a clam. Why?"
Fred tuts. "Shame on you, Ginny Winny Wee One, lying to your older brothers like that."
"Now, remember, we're doing this because we care."
I frown. "What? What are you - " Before I can protest, George picks me up and throws me over his shoulder. I let out a small screech. "Oy! Put me down, you doink!"
Fred shakes his head sadly. "Such an ingrate!" He cries. "Honestly, George, you try to help a girl - "
Abruptly, George drops me to my feet. We are standing in Ron's room, and Harry is looking over at us from the bed, quite shocked. A low growl rises in my throat. "You - emotionally - retarded - idiots!" I cry. "What do you think you're doing?"
The twins give identical little waves and pull the door shut. "See you at dinner!" One of them cries.
"Aye - a good dinner, too, Mum's cooking roast beef..." Their voices trail off and Harry and I are left staring at one another. I clear my throat, feeling a blush creeping along my neck.
I look down at my feet. "Um, hi," I mumble. "How are you?"
His voice is surprisingly cold. "I'm fine," he says curtly. "But I'm not surprised that you don't know." I raise my head.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I shoot back at him.
He throws his hands in the air. "You've ignored me all summer!" He cries. "You gave me the cold shoulder the day I got here and it's lasted ever since!"
I roll my eyes. "Has it occurred to you that maybe I just don't want to talk to you? That maybe I'm not ready?"
"Ginny." His voice is soft. "I didn't want to hurt you - or our friendship when I - "
"Well you did," I interrupt, voicing my feelings to him for the first time. "Okay? You did. Whether or not you wanted to, you did! You hurt me, and I really - I don't think we can be friends!"
He folds his arms over his chest. "So that's it?"
We have a glaring contest for a few minutes, not speaking. Then, "Ginny, this isn't what you want."
I arch my eyebrows at him. "No?"
"No. It's not, and you know it."
I feel anger boil in my stomach. How dare he! "What do I want then, Harry?"
"You want to forgive me! You want to be friends!"
"No!" I burst out furiously, throwing my hands in the air. "I don't! I don't want to be friends with you, Harry Potter, I want to be with you! I love you!" He stares blankly at me for a moment, his eyes going soft.
And then suddenly, it all makes sense.
They've been right. Everyone has been right. Mum, Dad, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Bill...hell, even Fred and George. They've all been right. It's my turn. I'm the one who has to show Harry that it's okay to be afraid of losing me. That it's okay to have a weak spot. And that if he's going to have one, it might as well be me.
"Ginny..." Harry murmurs, "Don't - "
"Don't what?" I challenge. "Don't tell you the truth? Why?"
"Because I won't be able to stay away from you! Because when you say things like that, I get - I get this feeling in my chest and I can't - because you're safer if we're not together!"
"That's bullshit," I say flatly, "And we both know it. Are you going to stop loving me, if we're not dating?"
He looks offended. "No! Of course not! What do you take me for?"
I arch my eyebrows. "Then your argument is flat. Look, Harry - if I get taken by Voldemort, if I get killed by Voldemort, will it hurt any less, just because we aren't together? No. It won't. And you'll regret that you didn't seize the moment, that you lost valuable time with me."
Harry shakes his head stubbornly. "That may be true, but there is less chance of that happening if we're not together."
I frown, not sure of what to say, because he's right. There is. I am safer when we're apart, and there is less of a chance that he'll have to 'lose' me. I sift through my mind, when I suddenly find the best, and only, argument. Bill was right - there's only one thing a body can do, when trying to break curses.
Go to the source.
"You're right," I say softly. "Harry, you're absolutely right." He blinks at me.
"I - I am?"
"Yes," I agree. "You are. But that doesn't matter." I take a step towards him, and when I speak my voice is soft. "It doesn't matter, because I'm not all right. I'm heartbroken. The boy I love has left me - and there's no feeling like it. It doesn't matter, because I was almost ready to give up. I was willing to give up my happiness so that you could feel safe. And, Harry, that's not who my father raised me to be - and it's time that I start taking responsibility for that person."
I take another step, my voice steadily rising. "My father raised me to be someone who is going to look you right in the eyes and say, 'I'm sorry, but I'm not going to hide myself away while you go and fight.' To be someone who won't let you run away because you're afraid. My father raised me to stand next to you, Harry - not behind you."
Harry frowns, opening his mouth to interrupt, but I cut him off. "You still love me and I still love you. And that's what all of this is about. Not Voldemort, not safety - it's about love. And that's what makes it so frightening. But sometimes we need to take risks, Harry - with and for the people we love. And if you're going to love me, you're going to love all of me, even the part that isn't a damsel in distress and won't let you protect me."
I pause. "And can you do that, Harry? Can you risk yourself? Can you risk me? Because that's love. That's what it all narrows down to. Me and you. And if - if, Harry - if you're willing to take that risk, that I am too. And if we, together, can face whatever comes at us, then no matter what happens, you'll know that you did everything you could, that you put my happiness in front of your comfort, that you put love before hate - and, if something goes wrong, you'll know that I never had any regrets."
I lower my voice once more, stepping so close that Harry and I are almost touching. I raise my eyes to meet his. "I'm willing to take that risk, Harry," I murmur. "I'm willing to take my chance on you. I love you. I've always loved you and I always will. And when you die, I'll be able to put protection so strong on your grave that not even Bill will be able to break through."
Harry studies me, his eyes indecisive. It's all up to him now.
And you know, I'm okay with that. I've done my part. If he says no, then he says no and that's heartbreaking, but at least I know that I've done everything in my power to make it work.
"Ginny..." his voice is hoarse. "What if - what if you die?" The word is said quickly, as though his very voicing it will make it true.
I smile up at him, unafraid. "Then I die," I answer simply. "But I die loving you, and knowing you love me - and how can I be afraid, or sad, when I know something like that?"
His face remains unsure for a moment, and then, slowly, he bends down. He pauses, our lips millimeters from one another, as though still deciding.
I reach up, and connect them.
I can't let him do all the work, after all.