Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Moment of Clarity
A HBP Missing Moment
Ginny Weasley was not in a good mood as she walked with a determined stride towards the hospital wing. She was seething inside and had to grit her teeth in order to control the string of curse words that wanted to be heard. A slight rustling from behind one of the many suits of armor that lined the corridor caused the hair on the back of her neck to rise, and she paused, gripping her wand firmly.
"Scat," she hissed, lowering her wand, as Mrs. Norris strolled out and scratched her back on the legs of the armor. When the cat merely gazed at her indifferently, she stomped her foot and gave an irritated wave of her hand. It not being Ginny's day, of course she hit the suit of armor, causing the arm holding a shield to crash to the floor with a ringing clang.
"Damn," Ginny growled. "Reparo."
Ginny swore, certain that Filch had some kind of enchantment placed upon the armor to guard against student magic. She grinned, imagining all the interesting positions some of her classmates might set the armor in if given the chance. Filch was such a spoilsport. Resigned, she leaned over and started picking up the fallen pieces.
Mrs. Norris glared reproachfully before she turned tail and ran in the opposite direction.
"Stupid cat," Ginny muttered under her breath, trying to put the arm back together as best she could. "Go ahead and tell Filch; it's not past curfew, and I have every right to visit my brother in the hospital wing."
Ginny's conscious twinged a bit, and she resolutely fought it. She was going to see Ron to check on how he was feeling. He'd been quite down over having to miss the match, hadn't he? And of course she'd check on Harry while she was there.
It was only natural.
In fact, if it had been any other teammate that had been hurt, she would have visited immediately. Why did she feel she had to justify it because it was Harry? It was no big deal.
Ginny felt rather indignant on her own behalf, and it mattered not a whit that she was arguing with her own subconscious. She was perfectly within her rights as a friend and fellow member of the team to care that Harry had been injured.
Finally giving up on ever getting the armor exactly right, she simply propped the arm up with the hand extended, knowing her classmates wouldn't be able to resist the urge to give it a high five. That arm was sure to come off again, and maybe Filch would know how to set it right. Ginny turned and continued her trek towards the hospital wing.
That sodding git McClaggen still hadn't been found. He'd hightailed it away from the pitch as soon as the match had ended, and no one had seen him since. The big prat had let the Quaffle past him time and time again, because he was so busy correcting everyone else's positions. Then, he'd actually pulled the bat right out of Ritchie Coote's hand only to clobber poor Harry with it.
Ginny cringed as she remembered hearing the sickening crunch of the bat connecting with Harry's head despite the distance and loud roaring of the crowd. McClaggen was huge, and he'd swung that bat at full force – Harry had been unconscious even before he crumpled and slid from his broom.
Ginny had watched the whole scene play out, frozen in shock. She was much too far away to have ever made a difference, anyway, but she was still furious with herself for her inability to move. She was usually much better in a crisis. There certainly had been a fair share of Quidditch injuries out in the paddock behind the Burrow, and she'd never frozen like that. It's not like she'd never seen a bad fall, but, still, when it was Harry…
Ginny sighed, knowing she was a hopeless case. She didn't know which was worse – watching it happen, or the fact she'd done nothing while watching it happen.
Thank Merlin Coote and Peakes hadn't been suffering from shell shock as well and had managed to catch Harry before he'd hit the ground. Of course, he'd still ended up with a cracked skull from the force of the bat and remained unconscious while they took him from the pitch. The memory of Harry's being taken off the pitch by Madam Hooch caused Ginny to shudder. He'd been bleeding horrifically, and blood had quickly drenched the top of his Quidditch uniform. The remainder of the subdued Gryffindor team never recovered.
Hufflepuff caught the Snitch not long after, and they'd already been leading with points, thanks to McClaggen's abysmal goal keeping.
Ginny was climbing the stairs just as they shifted, placing her in the complete opposite direction from the hospital wing. Cursing under her breath, she started down another corridor, planning to loop around and head in the other direction. This simply wasn't her day.
The entire team had been in a foul temper after the match. They'd showered and changed in silence before stomping back up to the Gryffindor common room. The atmosphere inside was somber and dismal, and everyone's tempers were frayed. Stupid Dean had decided to take it upon himself to make fun of what happened. He'd actually joked about Harry collapsing off that broom. If Hermione hadn't grabbed her wand hand, Ginny would have cursed him into oblivion.
What could he have possibly been thinking? There had been absolutely nothing funny about it.
"Did you hear it when that bat hit his head?" Dean asked, as if it had somehow been exciting. "Then he just fell like a rock. I wonder if Colin had his camera?"
Ginny, whose nerves were already completely on edge over her failure to react when Harry fell, snapped. She and Dean had a blazing row in the common room in front of everyone. It was Hermione who had finally stepped between them and dragged Ginny off to cool down on the couch. Of course, she'd docked Dean ten points for – how had she put it – showing un-sportsman-like conduct in the face of a serious injury to a fellow player.
Ginny giggled. Everyone knew not to mess with Hermione when her temper was stirred, and she hadn't found Harry's being injured any funnier than Ginny had. If Hermione hadn't interrupted their row, more than likely Ginny would be without a boyfriend right now. She supposed she'd have to thank Hermione for that later.
It wasn't that Dean was a bad bloke – he was very nice and attentive, really. Maybe a little too attentive. Ginny found him rather controlling, and they'd been arguing more and more over silly little stuff lately. Most of the things he did could be considered gentlemanly, and Ginny supposed a lot of girls would call her mad for being irritated by them, but Ginny had a fiercely independent nature and didn't like being made to feel as if she couldn't fend for herself.
Dean loved to open doors, take her arm to steer her in the direction he wanted to go – he'd even begun serving her food to her at mealtimes without asking what it was she'd like to eat. Ginny had been amused the first time, but even after she'd repeatedly asked him to stop, he still continued doing it and laughing off her protests. Ginny was growing extremely irritated with his antics.
He'd even started up with his protectiveness during Quidditch practices. Then, during the match today, he'd grabbed the Quaffle from its path when it was clearly coming to her. McClaggen had even told her off for not reacting quickly enough, the prat. Ginny could handle herself on the Quidditch pitch – she could handle herself, period. She didn't need Dean or anybody else shielding her from the action. Her scoring record was actually better than Dean's, something she knew really rankled his stupid male ego. Michael used to get all tetchy over the fact she could out-fly him, too. Boys were stupid.
She was a seventh child with six older brothers. There was no way she couldn't have grown up a tomboy, despite her mum's best efforts to make her a girly-girl. Ginny simply didn't like frills. That's not to say she didn't have a few decidedly girly traits – but she wore them like a badge of honor in a house full of men. Ginny liked fancy clothes, and she liked to dress up on occasion. She didn't have very many truly nice, fancy things, but the ones she did have she took great pride in and cared for them very well.
Her hair was rather straight, and Ginny had long ago given up trying to make it curl, but it had a nice shine, and Mum bought her a fancy, flowery-smelling shampoo that was just for her. She even had soap with the same scent, and it was much too flowery for any of the boys to touch, so it was all her own. While Ginny hated for her brothers to treat her differently because she was a girl – and she'd never admit it freely to them – being the only girl had its perks.
After her row with Dean, Ginny had been too restless to sit in the common room or, like Hermione had suggested, to do any revising. Instead, she'd decided to take a walk to the hospital wing and check on Ron…and Harry. She'd asked Hermione to go with her, but the older girl had declined, claiming she had too much homework to do.
Ginny sighed and shuffled her feet as she climbed yet another staircase. She knew Hermione was still uncertain over what to do about Ron, and a lot of that was Ginny's fault. The day Ron and Harry had caught her and Dean snogging in an empty corridor and Ginny lost her temper with Ron had really messed up Hermione's love life, too.
Ginny hadn't meant to do it; she hadn't even been thinking clearly at the time. She'd always had a problem with her temper. She tended to lash out first and think later – she'd been accused of it many times in the past. She usually regretted what she said in anger and would promise to think before she spoke the next time, but it hadn't stopped her from blowing up this time, either.
Ron had made her so angry that day with his words and foul insinuations. And the way Harry had looked at her – as if he was so disappointed in her. Even now, Ginny felt her eyes sting with tears remembering it. She hadn't been doing anything wrong! She and Dean had chosen that corridor because it wasn't part of the beaten path. That corridor hid a secret passage up to Gryffindor tower that hardly anyone knew or used. Ginny certainly hadn't known that Ron and Harry used it.
Ron had made it sound as if she was some sort of slag simply for kissing her boyfriend. And Harry. Ginny couldn't place the look she saw in Harry's eyes, but it still had the power to cut her to the quick. She really didn't want Harry to think poorly of her.
She'd had a total of two boyfriends in her life, each of whom she'd dated on a long-term basis. She'd been with Dean for over six months at the time she'd been caught kissing him, for Merlin's sake. All the other girls in her year had dated more than that…well, except for Danica Marshall, and that wasn't her fault. Boys were just stupid and couldn't see around a bit of extra body fat to notice how funny she was. Boys were stupid. Ginny slammed the wall of the corridor in irritation and was scolded by the portrait of an elderly witch tending flowers in her garden.
"Watch it there, missy," the woman said.
"Sorry," Ginny mumbled and hurried along her way, her ponytail swinging back and forth, matching her angry stride.
There was nothing wrong with kissing your boyfriend. It wasn't as if she'd forced him to do it or used a love potion or anything stupid like that. That was more Romilda Vane's style. Ron certainly couldn't talk now, as he'd been seen with Lavender Brown's tongue in his mouth more often than the cutlery in the Great Hall.
Of course, it had really been Hermione who'd been hurt by the whole thing, and her prat of a brother still couldn't see that. Boys really were stupid. Still, Hermione had been visiting Ron-the-prat in the hospital wing an awful lot, and he always seemed very happy to see her.
Maybe she hadn't completely mucked up their chances, and they'd pull it all together in the end. Ginny certainly hoped so. She had never meant to hurt Hermione and truly wished she and Ron would get together. Ginny had always found it easier to be friends with blokes. She supposed it was because she had so many brothers and was used to being around them.
She got along fine with her roommates, but she wasn't particularly close to any of them. Some girls tended to mistrust Ginny simply because she got on so well with the blokes. Girls could be stupid too, she supposed. She'd never had that problem with Hermione, and they'd always got on well. Maybe it was because Hermione tended to get on easier with the blokes, as well. Ron should count his lucky stars that Hermione had deemed him worthy of her friendship, and she knew he could have her heart, too, if he'd only stop acting like such a prat.
Even if Ron and Hermione never got the whole boy/girl thing right, Ginny didn't like seeing their friendship in such tatters. Ron, Hermione, and Harry were one of the solids that could always be counted on in life. Nothing seemed quite right while they weren't speaking to each other, and poor Harry was trapped in the middle.
Without realizing how she'd done it, Ginny found herself staring blindly at the door to the hospital wing.
"Well, are you going in or are you just going to stand there all day?" a portrait of a fat little man with a scrunched up face asked rudely. He hung on the wall next to the entrance to the hospital wing, scowling at all that came to visit the infirm resting there.
Ginny brushed a stray lock of her hair out of her face, squared her shoulders, and pushed open the door. Ron turned towards her immediately, obviously bored of his confinement. Ginny supposed that Madam Pomfrey would release him soon, being unable to tolerate his surly temper much longer.
Harry lay, pale and unmoving, on the bed next to Ron, his vivid green eyes covered by his eyelids as he slept. A heavy, ugly bandage was wrapped thickly around his head. Ginny shuddered slightly. Harry was usually so vibrant and alive; this stillness seemed unnatural and it unnerved her.
"Ginny," Ron exclaimed happily. He was obviously desperate for company if he was happy to see his little sister.
"Hi, Ron. How are you feeling?" Ginny asked, pulling an extra chair into the empty space between Ron and Harry's beds. A soothing, familiar warmth filled her belly. She couldn't explain why she was so pleased that Ron was happy to see her, but she was.
"I'm good, but bored out of my mind. There's nothing to do in here, and I don't feel like reading," Ron said, scowling as if Ginny were the one to have suggested it.
Ginny smirked, and her eyes darted briefly towards Harry.
"He still hasn't come 'round. Madam Pomfrey said he'd probably be out for a while more, and, even when he does wake, he'll probably be a bit dazed. Not that Harry's not generally a bit dazed, but McClaggen really got him good," Ron said, and Ginny thought he sounded more than a touch pleased.
Ginny's hackles, which were already frayed after her row over the same subject with Dean, rose even further. "It's not funny, Ron. I heard his skull crack from halfway down the pitch."
Ron sobered indignantly. "Well, I'm not happy he got hurt! Still, I can't help it if I'm glad that git McClaggen screwed up."
Ginny had to concede that point. "He screwed up big time," Ginny said, smiling grimly.
"Where is he? What's he got to say for himself?" Ron asked, sitting forward in his bed eagerly.
"Haven't seen him, have I?" Ginny replied, shrugging her shoulders. "I know Demelza has been looking for him, and Merlin help him if she finds him. That girl has some seriously wicked ideas. I'm going to introduce her to Fred and George one day; I think she could really give them some great ideas for Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes."
"Mum would be devastated. She's still counting on the idea that it's the love of a good woman who will rein in Fred and George," Ron said, smirking.
"Yeah. Not likely," Ginny snorted.
"I could hear Luna's commentary," Ron said, amusement clearly showing on his face. "In fact, I think it's Luna you should introduce to Fred and George."
Ginny felt some of her tension finally starting to ease. "Wasn't she a hoot? I think she should always do the Quidditch commentary. You should have seen the look on Professor McGonagall's face; she didn't know how to handle her. I've never seen Professor McGonagall stumped like that. It was priceless."
"Too bad about the match, though. We were getting crushed even before McClaggen took Harry out, and it sounded like that was the fault of his lousy Keeping, too." There was no way for Ron to mask the glee in his voice this time.
"It was. He kept correcting everyone else and ignoring his own job. It was a fiasco. Harry nearly missed the start of the game entirely. He skidded into the changing room only minutes before Madam Hooch blew her whistle."
"Did he?" Ron asked, but then Madam Pomfrey came bustling out of her office.
"Time for another dose, Mr. Weasley," she said, firmly handing him a phial that contained a foul-looking pea green potion.
Ron tipped his had back and downed the contents of the phial with a grimace. "Can't you do anything about the taste of that stuff?" he asked, puckering his lips.
"What? So that the lot of you can darken my door on a regular basis, looking for a little pick-me-up, Mr. Weasley? I think not," Madam Pomfrey answered primly.
Ginny stifled a giggle while watching the incredulous look on her brother's face. Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, Ginny once again stole a glance at Harry. He was still unconscious, although she thought his head might have moved slightly in the direction of their voices. She hoped it meant he was starting to come around to awareness.
She'd found herself paying a lot of attention to Harry recently – even more so than she normally did. Ever since that awful day when she and Ron had rowed, she'd found Harry paying a lot of attention to her when he thought she wasn't looking. Ginny feared that it was Ron's ugly words and insinuations playing in his head, and he was trying to figure her out. Even if Harry never saw her as anything more than Ron's little sister, she didn't want him to think she was an easy tart. The thought rankled her.
Still, that evil little voice rose, unbidden, in her mind. There is something different in his eyes. He was noticing. Ginny tried to squash the hope as quickly as it came. She wasn't going to get her heart broken again.
Ginny had to admit that if it were anyone else, she'd think that he was interested in her.
But it wasn't that simple with Harry.
Nothing was that simple with Harry, and she simply couldn't trust her own judgement. She wished she could talk to Hermione about it, but so far she hadn't been able to do it. Not only because Ginny had so horribly messed up Hermione's romantic life, but also, Hermione was so close to Harry. Sometimes, she felt as if she were crossing a boundary of some kind when she asked Hermione questions about Harry.
Shaking her head, Ginny dragged her thoughts back to the present in time to see Ron turn his head from her with a knowing smirk. She felt heat rising from her neck, knowing he'd bagged her staring at Harry. Damn! She'd gotten good at hiding that, too.
"So, I haven't seen Lavender around here today," Ginny said, immediately taking the offensive. One of the earliest lessons she'd learned from being the youngest was that the best defense was a good offense – particularly where the twins were concerned. Ron had always been the easiest of her brothers to bait. Score one for little sister, she thought, as Ron's ears immediately turned red.
"Er…nah. I haven't seen her today. She might have come by when I was sleeping," Ron said, avoiding her eyes.
"Hmm," Ginny replied casually. "I thought you were getting better. You seem to still need a lot of rest during the day."
Ron shifted on the bed and began pulling at the bedclothes. "Just bored," he mumbled. "Is anyone back in the common room, or did no one want to discuss the match?"
Ginny decided to accept the change in subject gracefully. Besides, she knew whom it was that Ron really wanted to know. "I left Hermione in the common room with Dean and Seamus. Ritchie, Jimmy and Demelza went on a McClaggen hunt, and I came here. No one else really hung around. Nothing to celebrate, is there?"
"I suppose not," Ron replied with a slight frown.
"Hermione's been really worried about you," Ginny said, tentatively. It was impossible to know how far Ron could be pushed these days. He was liable to go off at the slightest provocation. She held her breath and watched as he raised his eyes quickly.
"What's Hermione doing with Seamus and Dean? Trying to get them to start revising for N.E.W.T.s, since Harry and I aren't there?"
"No. She was doing some homework. I think she just planted herself in the common room to break up any skirmishes. Everyone is a bit short-tempered tonight," Ginny said.
Ginny snorted. "When are you getting out of here, anyway?"
Ron shrugged his shoulders and scowled. "I hope tomorrow, but more likely she'll hold me until Monday. She already said that Harry would be here at least that long. I can't stand lying in this bed another night, and the food in here is terrible. It's not the same stuff that they have in the Great Hall. It's like they charm all the flavor out of everything that comes here or something."
Ginny smiled. Everything always came down to food with Ron. "Well, I've heard that Harry has an extra box of cauldron cakes that's nearly full. I could bring it up if you like," Ginny offered, smiling evilly.
"Oho, very funny," Ron said, flashing a rude hand gesture.
Ginny blew him a kiss. "Try and get some sleep, Ron. If Madam Pomfrey doesn't let you out by Monday, I promise to sneak some of your favorites up from the Great Hall."
"Really?" Ron said, brightening instantly. "Thanks, Ginny."
"No problem. I suppose I should head back to the common room and let you get some rest."
"Well, thanks for the visit, Ginny. It doesn't look like Harry's going to join this party any time soon, so I might as well try and get some sleep," Ron said, stretching his long arms above his head.
How did Ron end up so tall when she was so short? It didn't seem fair at all.
Ginny glanced over at Harry again. He remained asleep and unmoving.
"He'll be all right, Ginny," Ron said quietly.
"I know," Ginny said, starting.
"Night, Gin," Ron said, getting out of bed and walking over to the loo.
"Night, Ron," Ginny replied. She got up and turned towards the door to leave. She took a few steps before stopping and turning back around. The room was quiet and empty. The candles in the lanterns that lined the walls were dim, giving the room a soft, shadowed light. She could hear papers rustling in Madam Pomfrey's office, and the door to the loo was shut tight.
Tip-toeing over to Harry's bed, Ginny stood motionless for a moment, just watching him sleep. He looked very young and vulnerable somehow without his glasses. She tentatively reached out a hand and ran the backs of her fingers gently along the length of his face.
"Feel better, Harry," she whispered, before leaning over and placing a gentle, butterfly kiss on his forehead. She watched him for a minute longer and fleetingly thought she saw a trace of a smile cross his lips. She knew she must have imagined it, but just for a moment…
Ginny took a deep breath and steeled herself. There was something going on between her and Harry; she just needed some help to figure out what that something was. She was going to find Hermione. She needed her friend's opinion on some things. Hermione would be able to put things in perspective and tell her if she was only imagining what she wanted to be there. Somehow, Ginny didn't think so and knew Hermione's calm logic would set her to rights. They'd figure this out together.
She brushed the fringe from Harry's forehead and strode from the hospital wing with a determined stride.
A/N:Well, what did you think? I'm stuck on these missing moments, lately. This one has been in my head since the first time I read HBP. Right after the scene in the hospital wing where Ron told Harry that Ginny had visited is where Hermione starts giving Harry her knowing looks while talking about Ginny. My suspicion is Ginny was on to Harry long before he knew it, and that is what that blazing look was all about right before he kissed her. It's fun to speculate, anyway.
Thanks to my wonderful beta, Mistral, for taking the time out of her busy schedule to fix this up for me. Huge thanks also go to my pre-betas, Dianne and KEDme for their support and encouragement.
This is the last of the Missing Moments that I've written, although a few more are still dancing in my head. If you have a moment you'd like to see, let me know and I'll see what I can do with it…