My 5th Year: Foreword
This is my first attempt at any type of fan fiction. I have based the following story on characters from the Harry Potter series. I mean no disrespect to J.K. Rowling's fine writing. I do not write this with any reimbursements in mind. I am merely doing it to kill time between books.
The following story is based on the events in book 6 (Half Blood Prince). It is a series of events seen from a different point of view, that of Ginny Weasley. Some of the events you have directly read from the book and others take place outside the scope of what you read. The common denominator is that you will see what she saw and what she was thinking at the time it happened and what she is thinking as she tells you about it.
I hope you enjoy the story and please feel free to review. Good or bad reviews count for something. So have fun reading it. I know I had fun writing it.
My 5th Year
Prologue: My Name is Ginny
I have just dried my eyes for what seems like the hundredth time today. I think I have cried more in the last few hours then I have in my entire life. Or at least it just feels that way. But I really need to get all the tears out of my system before I get home. I really don't want anyone asking me what is wrong if they see tears in my eyes. I have a sinking feeling that regardless of what I look like, some one will ask anyway and if I'm not prepared I will just break down and start crying all over again and I don't want anyone's pity. I don't think I could take it. Besides, I have enough self-pity as it is (Heck, would you like some?).
The weather outside is as dark as my mood. Funny thing is I may seem like I'm looking out of the window but I haven't looked at anything since this train started moving.
My name is Ginevra Molly Weasley. I have been called several names in my short lifetime. Some names I don't mind more than others. Such as Ginny, Gin, Ginger, that little Weasley girl, Ron's little sister, that other Gryffindor seeker and even (and I really hate this name) Tom Riddle's little red headed pawn. But to the one person I have cared for since I was ten years old (I still remember the day I first saw him like it was yesterday). I might as well be named; "Chopped Liver"
The person in question is named Harry James Potter. He has been called several things in his lifetime as well. The two I have heard most recently are, "The-Boy-Who-Lived" and "The Chosen One". At one point this past year I would have called him, "The-boy-who-needs-a-good-knocking-across-the-head-with-a-bludger's-bat-to-notice-me". But don't get me wrong. Harry and I have been friends for a few years now. He is practically a member of my family. Heck, I owe him a life-debt after he saved me from Tom Riddle (A.K.A. Voldemort) in the Chamber of Secrets during my first year. But while I tried to fool myself into thinking that he came just for me. It was plainly obvious that Harry's selfless character would have motivated him to do it for anyone (I guess that's what makes him who he is). But since that time I had to consider myself lucky to have gotten more than five words with him alone at any one given time (Hello! Harry, young red headed girl trying to get your attention!). So I found it weird that of all the years we have known one another that this would be the year something would happen between the two of us. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the summer before my fifth year at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry's sixth year, he is a year ahead of me)…
Chapter 1: Summer
It was a beautiful summer at the Burrow (That is my home). My brother Ron and I had spent the first two weeks of our break playing games of one-on-one Quidditch. We are both members of Gryffindor's championship house team. I ended up playing for the team last year when after a particularly nasty match with our rival house Slytherin, my twin brothers Fred and George as well as Harry were thrown off the team for beating the daylights out of the Slytherin's seeker (Draco Malfoy, the creep). The three of them have never taken the time to tell me what Malfoy did to earn that said beating. But I'm sure that he deserved it. The Malfoys have been nothing but a thorn in my family's side since longer than I can remember. They are rich and we aren't. So it has made us a target for Draco to point this out at every opportunity. Well as I said Ron and I helped win the house championship in their absence. Not that I'm incredibly proud of that. But it was nice to grab the snitch from Cho Chang (the prat). Heck, she had half the distance of the pitch on me! She looked more shocked than I was when it happened (Hee hee!)!
Well, in the second week of holiday break, Hermione showed up and it was great seeing her again. Harry was scheduled to join my family the following day. My heart always goes out to Harry during holiday break. He loathes being with his family (the Drusleys). He has never spoken about it to me. But I can always see it in his eyes and sometimes I can even feel it (Danged, life-debt!). I knew he had to be hurting more than usual because shortly before holiday break he lost his godfather Sirius Black. I was there at the Ministry of Magic when it happened. I was part of a small group created and lead by Harry called the D.A. (we called it Dumbledore's Army). I didn't witness it due to the fact that I was hit by a stunning spell during a fight with a group of Death Eaters (Voldemort's little flunkies). Funny thing about stunning spells, you think the weirdest thoughts when you get hit with one. I mean there I was dodging spells and trying to hex the nearest Death Eater when next thing I know I get hit in the back and all I could think of before everything went dark was, "Did I remember to rearrange my socks?". Sirius was killed during the fighting and Harry was an emotional wreck when he left Hogwart's.
Well, I went to bed the night before he was to arrive thinking that I might be able to make him feel better if I could get him alone and maybe talk to him for a while. As if! (Come on Weasley, get a grip!) You can't put Harry, Ron and Hermione (or as I call them the "Hogwart's Trio") together and expect to get a moment alone with, "The-boy-who-never-seems-to-have-a-moment-to-himself" Aaarrgghh! I tend to hate myself for getting jealous of the relationship that those three have. I honestly have wanted to be part of the group for quite a while now. But I'm sure, "The-boy-who-thinks-more-about-others-than-he-does-for-himself" wouldn't want to put "Ron's little sister" into any more danger. Besides, after thinking about it, what could I do to make Harry feel better? Maybe put my elbow into another butter tray or maybe stutter when I try to talk to him as he looks at me with those emerald eyes? So I went to bed.
I awoke the next morning and headed downstairs. I noticed snoring coming from the door as I passed Fred and George's old room. I quietly cracked the door open and there he was, lightning scar and all. Well I ran downstairs with the idea of fixing him breakfast. I had it all planned out. He would wake up and I would lay the breakfast tray in front of him. He would smile his cute little smile just for me and I would get to talk to him alone for a few minutes. But sure enough fate had other plans. I had just finished putting together breakfast when my brother Bill's fiancée Fleur (or Phlegm as Hermione and I have gotten used to calling her) grabs the tray right from under my nose. I remember wondering if my "Bat-bogey hex" was still as good as always. But I knew that I wouldn't do it because Bill would have killed me if I did anything to her. So I figured it would be best to get upstairs before she did (might as well get a few minutes alone with Harry). Sure enough, the other two thirds of the Hogwart's Trio had already woken Harry up (Good job there Weasley). So I had to settle for a quick hello from "The-boy-who-was-half-awake" and sat at the foot of the bed. Well Fleur shows up and makes a huge production about serving breakfast to Harry. She even kissed him on both cheeks (I hate her, I hate her, I hate her!). Harry was so embarrassed he accidentally threw Hermione and me off the bed trying to get the bed covers over his head (He really is cute when he blushes). Part of me really wanted to try and take the proper credit for having prepared breakfast but Harry was so busy in conversation with the Trio (There I go again, sorry) that I don't think he would have heard me anyway. Besides, I wasn't paying much attention to what was being said as it was because I was way too busy watching Harry and the cute way he hums when he is really enjoying his food (Aaaarrggghhh! Stop staring Ginny! I thought you finally grew out of this phase? Yeah, but I can't help it, he looks so cute with his hair all messed up like that. Will you stop it already Weasley!). As I said, I wasn't paying mind to the conversation when I heard someone bring up Sirius' name. Neither Ron nor Hermione noticed it, but it was obvious from both the look on his face (as well as the feeling in my chest) and the fact that Harry was overstuffing his mouth with breakfast that he didn't want to talk about it. Well, I was just about to put a comforting hand on the shoulder of "The-boy-who-had-a-mouth-full-of-eggs" when my mum calls me to help her down in the kitchen. Needless to say it was a good deal later when I could get away from mum and Fleur again.
I really enjoyed the next couple of weeks as two-on-two Quidditch is a lot more fun than one-on-one. It was "Team Weasley" (That would be myself and Ron…DUH!) against Hermione and "The-boy-who-is-nothing-but-a-blur-on-a-broom". Ron and I figured we had these two easy. We had played so much together that we knew each other's moves. But Harry more than made up for Hermione's poor play. It was actually good to see that Hermione wasn't good at everything she does. I'm pretty sure that if Quidditch involved having to writing a full parchment research paper she would destroy us every time. But watching Harry play is amazing though. You can see that he is on a level that only few people in their lifetime reach. It always looks as if he and the broom are one. He was born to fly. I can honestly say that if he ever wanted to go pro someday, it would be no problem for him. To say we were evenly matched against him and Hermione would have been a lie. He could have outclassed us on a school broom. I do love watching him play.
Chapter 2: School supplies and The Joke Shop
On July 31st my family and I tried to celebrate Harry's birthday, but with the way things were going in the wizarding world there always seemed to be more bad news than good. The major good news of the day was Harry's being named Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. First thing I thought of when I heard the news was trying out for chaser… OK I was actually thinking of giving "The-boy-with-the-shiny-captain's-badge" a big congratulations hug. But my mum and Ron cut that thought out of my head with their argument about picking up school supplies on Diagon Alley. I always enjoy going there but more so because I had been dying to visit my brothers' joke shop. Fred and George left school in their last year (against the wishes of my mum and dad) to start their joke shop business. It didn't take them long to make a name for themselves in the one thing they seem to excel at. But the family can't complain. They were turning a pretty decent profit and it was always a good thing to see happiness in the middle of all the war going on around us.
The following Saturday found us being escorted in several Ministry cars to Diagon Alley. My dad told us that it was mainly for Harry's safety. I could tell Harry really wasn't enjoying the extra attention. I was hoping to distract him from the aurors surrounding him by maybe sitting next to him on the car ride over. But as always, "The-boy-with-the-doom-and-gloom-look-on-his-face" ends up riding next to my dad (Aaarrgghh! Sometimes life just isn't fair!). Knowing my dad he would be asking Harry a ton of questions regarding muggle life. I still don't think Harry ever quite convinced my dad about the whole "rubber duck" thing (Whatever a rubber duck is).
To make matters worse, as soon as we get to Diagon Alley my dad separates me and the Trio (What's it going to take to make it a quartet?). I ended up going to Flourish and Blott's book store with my mom and dad. To be honest, I don't like going to that book store anymore. Seeing as this was where I picked up Tom Riddle's diary. Nothing worse than being under mind control, seeing everything your doing, but having absolutely no control over any of it. I found myself getting very nervous. But I didn't want my parents getting worried. So I just thought about Harry's near sacrifice when he was poisoned by the basilisk. It just reminds me that Tom Riddle's diary can't hurt me anymore (Harry, Harry, Harry thanks for being there for me).
After picking up books for myself, Ron and "The-boy-who-swings-a-mean-sword" we made our way to my brothers' joke shop. When the Trio showed up I quickly noticed how uneasy Harry looked. He only looks that way when he has had a run-in with Draco Malfoy. I'm surprised that Harry hasn't knocked his lights out yet. But then again it isn't like Harry to lower himself to another's level. Just another reason why Harry is the person he is.
The atmosphere at the joke shop lightened his mood rather quickly. We were all having a good time looking at all the different items. My brothers' shop was doing major business. I couldn't be more proud and even though my mum may never say it out loud she is too. Well, I was minding my own business just looking over a section of love potions (Not that I was thinking of using a potion on anyone mind you). When my brothers began questioning me about my current relationships, right in front of Harry! (Dang Fred and George!) While I was sure that Harry knew perfectly well about me and Dean Thomas, I didn't want to talk about it in front of him. I mean Dean is a nice guy and all but he wasn't what I would consider a "serious" boyfriend. Strange thing was with all the questions "The-boy-who-had-bad-hearing" didn't pay either me or my brothers any true attention. Besides, one second I was arguing with my brothers and the next I turned to speak with the Trio and they were gone (Left alone again Weasley. How do they do that?).
Well, in our last week home I managed all of about 15 seconds alone with "The-boy-who-watched-me-carrying-a-laundry-basket-but-didn't-ask-if-needed-help" and all I could do was warn him that mum and Fleur were arguing in the kitchen (Good job there Weasley). He did smile at me though, made me almost drop my laundry basket (Be still my heart…hee hee!).
Chapter 3: Anger Held in Check
The day finally arrived to return to Hogwart's and begin my 5th year. We all said our goodbye's on the platform. There were hugs all around from mum. Fleur even took the opportunity to kiss Harry on both cheeks again. I took the opportunity to hide my frown and trip Ron when he walked up to Fleur to try and get a couple of kisses as well (Hee hee!). As the train was being boarded I noticed that Ron and Hermione started separating from Harry. I kept forgetting that they had both been made prefects last year and that Harry wasn't. Harry began walking towards me and it took everything I had not to scream at the other students staring and pointing at him. I could tell it had to be making him miserable. Harry had been nothing but the center of a lot of gossip since his first year at Hogwart's. Last year definitely didn't help either (I would trade places with you anytime…just to give you a break from all this). He came over and asked me if I would like to join him in finding a compartment. I really wanted to but I already met up with my circle of friends (including my boyfriend Dean) so I was already obligated. We had all spent so much time together over the summer that it was easy to forget that during the school year we ran in different groups. Besides, I wouldn't have felt comfortable with both Dean and Harry in the same room (not that the two of them aren't friends). So I told "The-boy-who-was-waiting-for-an-answer" that I had to meet Dean. He understood…what was that I just saw in Harry's eyes? Was that disappointment? Was he actually a little sad we were separating? I should have felt a little happy with the thought that maybe he would miss me. But I couldn't help but feel somewhat bad that he might be alone on the trip to school (There were times during the summer when late at night I would sneak out of bed and find Harry in front of the living room fireplace just sitting quietly by himself for hours. I would sit quietly just hiding there watching him. His early years before Hogwart's must have been difficult). Bad enough he was being shunned by half the students in school. An hour later I was really enjoying the ride to school, but a small part of my heart was with "The-boy-who-spends-way-too-much-time-alone"
About an hour out of school, I was forced (not exactly forced mind you) to hex a Hufflepuff student who decided that questioning me about last year's battle at the Ministry would be a good thing to do (good to see my Bat-Bogey hex was as sharp as ever). That little hex got me an invite to Professor Slughorn's compartment. He invited quite a few classmates including "The-boy-who-seemed-a-bit-surprised-to-see-me". He showed up late with Neville Longbottom. As Harry was being introduced around, I made a face at him from behind Slughorn. I could see Harry trying his best not to laugh in Slughorn's face (Nice to see I can make you laugh Harry). It helped kill the last hour of the trip. But that get-together was just a big bore-fest. So I was glad that Harry and Neville dragged me out of there. Strange thing, I was talking to them both and then when I turned around to ask Harry something, he was gone again (How does he do that?). I was about to try and find him but we were almost at school and I needed to get my robes on.
Some time later the entire student body found itself in the Great Hall for the sorting ceremony (There is nothing more exciting than listening to a talking hat tell you what house you should be assigned to). After the sorting, we began the feast. I was half way through a pretty good soup when I noticed there was one person missing from the Trio. Ron and Hermione were looking as scared as I felt. Harry's history has always been surrounded by danger. A hundred different bad thoughts began crossing my mind. I managed to calm my fears by thinking that since we were at Hogwart's what could possibly go wrong? Then I started thinking that maybe "The-boy-who-was-too-good-for-the-great-feast" wasn't going to show (Too good to be with your fellow Gryffindors Harry?).
Upon seeing Harry enter the Great Hall I regretted ever thinking anything negative about Harry. He wasn't wearing his robes. He was still wearing the same clothes he had on during the train ride, but his clothes and his face were covered in blood! My first thought was to run over to him and check to see if he was alright. But Dean was looking at Harry with concern as well and all I needed was for Dean to get jealous with Harry. The look on Harry's face said he had enough going on at that point anyway. He seemed angry, very angry. So angry I could feel it radiating from him. I tried to hear if maybe he would tell what happened to him to Ron and Hermione but he wouldn't talk about it, not even to them. But it didn't take a master in Divination to figure out what happened. He might have thought no one else besides Harry saw him but I saw Draco Malfoy mimicking smashing Harry's nose. It took everything I had to keep from jumping over our table and ripping Malfoy's eyes out. He broke Harry's nose (that cute little nose!). Yes, I realize that it might have been mended by magic but the memory of pain like that doesn't just go away. As we were making our way back to our houses a short time later, I remembered the first time I ran across Malfoy. I actually warned him to "Leave Harry alone!" It was the first sentence I got out in front of Harry without stuttering. I'm sure Malfoy wasn't listening, but I meant what I said, and I meant it as a warning to Malfoy, forever! My mind was racing with a thousand ways to get a little revenge in Harry's name. I was snapped out of my dark thoughts by Dean's look of concern for me. I told him I was OK. But inside I was burning with anger (I hate you Malfoy, I HATE YOU!)
Chapter 4: Try-outs
Several days had passed before I saw Harry again. He was walking along with Ron and Hermione (What a surprise…there I go again, sorry!). They were in the middle of an argument about Harry's following advice from an old school book. My blood ran cold as I asked him about it. "The-boy-who-had-no-concern-for-other's-feelings" told me that the book was fine and that it was nothing like Tom Riddle's diary. I couldn't believe he would bring up that subject so lightly. He had to know it was still a touchy thing with me. It took a little patience to keep from hitting him with my bag of books but I did my best. I think Harry picked up on my feelings when he allowed Hermione to perform a revealing charm on the book. Nothing happened and the book was fine. I still walked away a little miffed.
Things shortly after that conversation got a bit busy. Between my O.W.L.s and the Trio's N.E.W.T.s we were lucky to get our noses out of a book for more than five minutes. Dean was trying to be helpful, almost to the point of being too helpful. I really enjoy the time Dean and I spend together but sometimes a girl needs her space.
I thought I could get that space during the Quidditch try-outs. But Dean was trying out as well, the prat! He was even trying out for the position I wanted to try out for. No I wasn't going out for seeker. That was last year. Harry is the best seeker in school. So there is no reason to try out for that position except maybe as a reserve. But I wanted to start this season. So this past summer I dedicated myself to becoming the best chaser I could. During the break I would wake up early each day to practice on my own at the Burrow's pitch. In those two short months I mastered a wide variety of throws. Overhead, underhand, sidearm, and even a special shot I call the spin throw. I learned to fly my broom (The comet two-sixty) to the very edge. My family would have killed me if they would have seen me flying through the forest dodging trees at top speed with only inches to spare. But if I wanted to start I couldn't just be good…I had to be great. By the end of the summer I could make shots with both hands off the broom at top speed and never lose control of my broom. When the school year began I was up to a hundred push-ups a day to build up my arm strength. Dean found out about that strength when he attempted to hold me down and tickle me. I think his wrist still hurts from where I twisted it. Besides, I have grown to love the sport of Quidditch and as I said before I love watching Harry play.
The try-outs started out hilarious, to say the least. It looked as if every person in school came to try out. Well, Harry managed to turn every color in a rainbow as he struggled to put together the squad. Now, I don't like to brag but I not only managed to make chaser. I beat out Dean and scored more than any other person trying out (17 goals). Dean was mortified as not only did he not make the team, he lost out to three girls (Girl power rocks!).
The biggest hurdle was to be handled by Ron. He doesn't realize it, but he is a brilliant goal keeper (Not that I would tell him that. I wouldn't want his head getting any bigger). During the summer when we played together I made it a point to put some of my best throws at him. While at first he couldn't stop me, he steadily improved to a point where he started frustrating me with his ability to save everything thrown at him. Ron's only problem is Ron. His lack of confidence has always been a problem and there is nothing I could do for him at the try-outs except make his competition for the keeper position look as silly as possible.
The competition in question was named Cormac McLaggen. He was as big as a house. He looked like he could defend all three goals without moving. I even caught myself thinking if it were actually possible to throw the quaffle through rather than around him. Harry was still nursing a lump on his head from a bludger shot (Ouch, Harry. Can I kiss it and make it better?…Aaarrgghh! Cut it out Weasley!), when the penalty shots on McLaggen started. Needless to say we chasers tried almost every trick we had, but he stopped the first four shots with ease. Things were starting to look pretty bad for Ron. But I had the last shot to take. So I figured it was time for my spin throw. Thing about the spin throw is that you spin on your broom as fast as you dare and the use the momentum from the spin to release your throw. It isn't the most accurate, but it generates a lot of power and as a keeper you don't want to try to catch it as much as block it away (oh, don't think badly of me. I was trying to throw through him). Well, I shouldn't have worried. McLaggen was so fooled by my spin he went totally in the wrong direction (Goal, Ginny, goal!). I had to try my best not to laugh at "The-boy-who-had-his-mouth-gaping-open" The look of surprise on his face was compliment enough. I really had McLaggen fooled on that shot….or did I? I happened to catch a look on Hermione's face that I swear was the same look she had when she saved "The-boy-with-the-big-lump-on-his-head" from that rogue bludger during that Quidditch match in my first year. I remember how much I cried in private when that bludger shattered Harry's arm.
Hermione must have done something to McLaggen. But seeing as I would have most likely done the same thing in her position, I couldn't blame her. Ron and Hermione are so into each other. You think they would say something to one another already. But who am I to talk? Can't say what I feel to "The-boy-who-could-have-my-heart-whenever-he-might-want-it" Even though my head tells me it is right.
Well, now it was Ron's turn. His face looked as green as when he spent the day throwing up slugs after his hex on Malfoy backfired. The chasers once again gave everything they had and wouldn't you know it, he stopped every shot! Even my flying left to right sidearm throw on the final shot. I couldn't help but be proud of my brother. Out of the Trio he always seems to come off as the weakest link. But when things are at their toughest, there is no one more focused, determined, or loyal. The three of them are so much stronger as a whole than they will ever be separately.
Shortly afterwards I overheard McLaggen arguing with Harry. He was screaming for another chance because he felt I didn't give a full effort on my last shot. He said my last shot was weak, that I was holding back because I was Ron's sister. (Weak! I'll show him weak!) One of my fellow chasers, Katie Bell, had to grab me to keep me from throwing the quaffle at McLaggen face. I heard Harry warning McLaggen to get out of his way. Normally, I find Harry's eyes to be mesmerizing, but there wasn't anything comforting in the look he gave McLaggen. I couldn't help but suddenly feel fear. Harry's eyes turned an angry ice cold crystal green. My heart felt like it had stopped in my chest. I could only watch in silence as McLaggen, who overshadowed Harry by what seemed like a meter (in both directions), backed off and walked away like a wounded pup. I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to never have that look of anger directed at me…ever.
Chapter 5: Bad Feelings off the Pitch
After several days of having to stroke Dean's wounded ego. I was more than ready for a trip to Hogsmeade. I was hoping to join the Trio, but Dean asked me, so of course I couldn't say no. Besides, it was wishful thinking to hope that "The-boy-who-had-the-sexy-scary-eyes" would invite me. I was on my way to breakfast the morning of the trip when a familiar voice caught my attention. It was Professor Dumbledore. He has always managed to make me feel like I'm still an eleven year old when he speaks. But I don't consider it a bad thing. I always feel safe in his company.
He asked me if I would be kind enough to deliver a hand written message to Harry (Not a problem professor. Just let me manage to untwist my tongue before I find myself stuttering in front of Harry when he looks at me with those eyes). I simply said "yes sir" and took the message from him. Before I walked off he said something to me that at the moment I didn't understand. He said, "Confidence of the heart solidifies rapidly between yearning souls" (Huh!)
The Trio was having a good laugh when I showed up for breakfast. Harry smiled when I passed him the note regarding a private lesson with Dumbledore. Then what does he do? "The-boy-who-never-reads-my-mind" asks me if I wanted to join the Trio in Hogsmeade! The most I managed to get out was that I was going with Dean and that I might see them there. I ended up making a short side trip to the girl's lavatory before I met Dean. I ended up putting my foot through one of the doors of the stalls (Aaarrgghh! Dean is going to have a bad day).
Speaking of bad days, during the trip to Hogsmeade, Katie Bell ended up in St. Mungo's hospital after she had a run-in with what Ron described to me as a jinxed object. She would eventually be alright, but it left our team one player short. I could see Harry was hoping against hope for Katie's return prior to the Slytherin match, but no such luck. Harry had to replace Katie and quick. He had one of two players to choose from with the skills needed for the match. Seamus or Dean. While Dean outdid Seamus at the try-outs I was a little weary about having to play chaser with Dean because I know how bad play between teammates can often lead to bad feelings off the pitch. Shortly after my Transfiguration class I had my answer. Harry picked Dean (Wise choice from "The-boy-who-wanted-me-to-throw-a-quaffle-at-him").
We ran a practice that afternoon and surprisingly enough, Dean worked well as the new chaser (I could have strangled Harry for being right). Our only dark spot was Ron. He couldn't stop a quaffle that day if it were glued to his hands. Then of all things he reaches out and slugs Demelza in the mouth. I felt that hit from about half a pitch away. I knew it was an accident but I was furious. Ron was letting his lack of confidence get to him. I was totally yelling at Ron. Heck, I don't remember half of what I said to him. Harry tried to calm me down while healing Demelza's lip. But he crossed the line with me when he told me that he was leader of the team and to stop yelling at Ron. If I wasn't mad before I was really set off at this point. I'm sure my face was turning a decent shade of red and I started yelling at Harry next. But do you know what "The-boy-who-seemed-too-big-for-his-robes" reaction to my yelling at him was? He smirked at me, like he was about to smile but didn't (Aarrgghh! It was making me angrier that I couldn't stay angry at him when he smirked at me that way). It took everything I had not to bash him over the head with my comet two-sixty (How dare you smirk at me and make my heart melt!).
After practice I was feeling a little better and I got changed quickly. I was heading for the dormitories when Dean caught up to me. He seemed so upbeat after having what I privately considered to be a horrible practice. Dean and I entered an empty corridor; he grabbed me in a great big hug. To be honest, I really needed that hug. It felt good to be held. Then Dean kissed me and I felt myself calming down. Funny thing, at that exact moment I wished Harry could see us kissing so that he could see what he was missing. I should have been more careful about what I wished for because wouldn't you know it "The-boy-who-has-eyes-for-everyone-else-but-me" walked in on us, followed closely by Ron (Uh, oh)!
Do you remember when I mentioned the ice cold crystal green look that McLaggen got when he screamed at Harry at the try-outs? There it was again…only directed at Dean! (My heart stopped in my chest again) This wasn't the reaction I wanted at all. But was that anger, protectiveness or jealousy I saw in Harry's eyes now? He wasn't even looking at me (Just look at me Harry! I'm just as guilty too. I was kissing him back!). My fear of having been caught quickly disappeared only to be replaced by anger when Ron went into "Big Brother" mode. Dean left the corridor fast (giving Harry as wide a berth as possible). As Ron and I started arguing, I could see Harry standing as still as a statue. All he was doing was standing there staring at the exact spot where Dean once was. I could tell Ron was about to step out of line with his next comment as Harry quickly tried to defend Ron by saying to me that Ron meant nothing by it. The image of my comet two-sixty smashing over Harry's head was back full force (Darn it Harry, why won't you look at me? I was only kissing my boyfriend!). Now I began yelling at both of them. I then made a rude comment regarding Ron's lack of experience and kissing one of our aunts for practice and before I knew it Ron's wand was out. I couldn't believe it. He actually had the nerve to pull his wand on me (His own baby sister!)! I didn't even have time to blink before Harry was in front of me, shielding me with his own body before Ron could throw a hex at me (How did he move so fast? Why would he get between us when I was yelling at him too? Why wouldn't Harry look at me? Why was Harry making me feel so guilty about kissing my own boyfriend? Harry, please look me in the eyes, if you did you would see how sorry I am for yelling at you). I was so angry I started pushing at Harry's back to get at Ron (Wow! I thought I was strong from my personal Quidditch workouts, but Harry was like an unmovable pillar). An orange flash passed through Harry's robe, obviously from Ron's wand, I swear it looked as if it hit Harry in the arm, but Harry didn't so much as flinch (You won't look at me, but you are still protecting me. Why do you feel that I'm so deserving of your protection? Dean, your days as my boyfriend are numbered!) Harry broke away from me and slammed Ron against the wall. It was at this point I said something that to this day I regret ever having said. I mentioned Harry's kissing of Cho Chang. Now Harry turned to look at me and what I saw broke my heart. It wasn't the ice cold crystal green of anger. It was a liquid green of sadness and disappointment. I struck a nerve I never meant to strike in the one person who has always been there to protect me. I don't even remember the rest of what I said as I ran off before the tears in my eyes made it difficult to see. I ran into the common room, straight past Dean and into my room. No one was there and I was glad. I wanted to be alone to cry, I didn't want comfort. I didn't feel I deserved any comfort (Harry, I'm sorry for mentioning Cho Chang. It wasn't your fault that it didn't work out between you two. She will never be able to look at you without forever seeing Cedric Diggory's face. It wasn't your fault he was killed by Voldemort. If she could see you the way that I do she would never have left you). As I sat there on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees the tears fell and I couldn't stop them. I take back what I said earlier. I would rather see the ice cold crystal green eyes of anger directed towards me a thousand times over than the sadness I saw in those eyes ever again.
Chapter 6: Scars of Honor
I avoided both Ron and Harry over the next few days. I knew that if I saw Harry I would start crying again and I just couldn't handle it. But we had a Quidditch practice scheduled shortly before the Slytherin match. So there wasn't any avoiding them on the pitch.
So I did what I normally do when I'm upset. I take it out on the pitch. Ron's confidence was still at an all time low. He was visibly upset. But it wouldn't have mattered if he were happy and if there were three of him in front of the goals. Nothing was stopping me from scoring today! I was making goals from all sorts of angles, with either hand, even one from behind my back facing away from the goals. It was like the goals were the size of an ocean and the quaffle was as small as a grain of sand.
This did nothing for Ron who yelled so much he made Demelza cry. Harry seemed to sense my anger rising again because he called off practice earlier than usual. I never had such a great and horrible practice at the same time. I couldn't get off the pitch fast enough.
The morning of the match with Slytherin arrived. There still was no communication between myself, Ron, and "The-boy-who-wouldn't-look-me-in-the-eyes". I got word Slytherin had to use two of their reserve players, as two of the starters were ill, one of the starters being Malfoy. I was disappointed about that. I was hoping to make up for hurting Harry's feelings by possibly breaking Malfoy's nose (or another body part) during the match. Yes, very un-Gryffindor-like of me, but I was still haunted by the memory of Harry being covered in blood at the start of the term.
As the match got under way all emotion started to drain away from me. Only to be replaced by irritation, this was coming in the form of rude comments from the commentator's podium. Zacharias Smith was poking fun at Ron's past performances (Who are you to be making fun of my brother?). Before I knew it, Slytherin was taking its first shot on goal (Weasley will you stop thinking and play defense girl!). Ron was one-on-one with a chaser. All I could do was watch as the chaser made a brilliant overhand right to left shot….Ron caught it like he knew exactly where it was going before it left the chaser's hand. I flew past him and we smile at each other. Team Weasley was back!
The goal posts started to become ocean size again as I scored four straight goals. I kept thinking to myself, "The scorekeeper had better keep his finger on the Gryffindor score button. He is going to be pushing it a lot today!"
My brother was definitely on form today as he was saving everything in sight. He had become a wall that would let nothing through, including the bad remarks that continued to come from Smith. All Smith was managing to do was to fuel my irritation. I suddenly heard a gasp from the crowd on the Gryffindor side of the pitch as Slytherin's seeker (Harper was his name) was bearing down on the golden snitch. I searched the sky for Harry and found him out of position….badly! The crowd knew exactly what I did. The score at the moment was 100 to nil in favor of Gryffindor. If Harper grabbed the snitch the game would be over and Gryffindor would lose 150 to 100.
But I knew something the crowd didn't. While most players have on and off days, Harry never has an off day. Heck, it took an army of dementors to cause him to lose his first match and he had to be knocked unconscious for that to have happened. Harry was born to play this game.
Harper was right on top of the snitch and from where I was it looked as if it was in his hand. But then….it wasn't. Looking back on it, Harper made the all-time classic seeker mistake. He took his eyes off the snitch to see where Harry was, and before he knew it. Harry snatched it out of the sky. Gryffindor won 250 to nil. We shut them out.
The crowd went completely crazy. Harry was hovering in the middle of the pitch with the snitch over his head. A beautiful smile plastered on his face. The rest of the team was already flying in around him, smothering him in hugs. I wanted to join in the celebration but I had one more thing to do before I would allow myself that satisfaction.
I heard Harry's voice yelling something to me, but I was moving too fast to hear anything as I purposely crashed into the commentator's podium and Smith (He would be pulling splinters out of his arse for the next few months). Needless to say, I also would be feeling that crash for some time afterwards. I bruised my body in several places. But I refused to have any sort of charms or potions to heal myself. For months afterwards I carried two marks, one on my shoulder and the other just above my left knee. I wore them proudly as badges of honor, for Ron and especially for Harry. But it was well worth injury or suspension from school because no sooner had I crashed then Harry was at my side. Helping me up and giving me the warmest hug I had gotten in a long time. All the pain I was feeling seemed to go away. That hug felt so right, I didn't want it to stop. I tried to pull Harry in closer when he pulled away, too quickly for my liking. He wouldn't look me in the eyes again (Oh, is he blushing? Just because of little old me? Hee hee!). But I knew in my heart he wasn't disappointed in me anymore. Things between us were good again. The victory party in the common room lasted for hours.
Chapter 7: Christmas Break
During the victory party a problem arose among the Trio. Guess it had to do with Ron kissing Lavender in front of everyone, including Hermione. Ron can really be dense. Hermione cares for him but he is too thick headed to see it. Seems both males in the Trio are very thick headed in that department. Soon afterwards Professor Slughorn invited some students to a pre-Christmas break get together in which we were invited to bring a guest. I found out that Harry invited Luna Lovegood (Oh great! Ask her and not me….shut up Weasley, you are dating Dean, remember?). Well, "The-boy-who-has-the-sensitivity-of-an-ox" mentioned they were going just as friends. I tried to put up a strong front by telling him I was happy that he would do something like that for her. Well there he was trying to seem happy about me being happy but I could tell it wasn't working. I could feel something was wrong (Dang, what did I do now?). The party ended up being a complete bore-fest again anyway.
Christmas break was great. Mum let me go crazy with decorating the tree this year. Harry was with us for the break, so at least he didn't have to spend it alone at Hogwart's.
Hermione was with her family. She and Ron were still not talking. I could still see scratch marks on Ron's face from where he was attacked by Hermione's bird hex (I don't think I ever want to be on that girl's bad side). I really miss her when she isn't around though (She is the closest thing I have to a sister).
Christmas day was interesting. Harry came downstairs with maggots in his hair (very cute Potter). Normally I might have been grossed out, but I couldn't resist reaching over and pulling them out for him. I smiled as I ran my fingers through his messy mop, I was thinking about what story could have been connected with him getting maggots in his hair, when I looked down and saw a small smile across his face and a look in his eyes that thanked me for helping him out. Harry is kind of weird that way. But then again having grown up with a family that would have rather spit on you than help you out, I could see why (It's ok Harry, you are with your real family now. We help each other in times of need). I looked into his eyes again and I felt shivers running up and down my spine. I could have spent hours running my fingers through his hair. But a knock on the door snapped my attention away from Harry.
It was my brother Percy. He and the Minister of Magic had arrived on our doorstep. None of the family had really seen too much of Percy since he shunned us sometime last year. I hold a certain amount of resentment toward Percy, but I was really glad to see him (He is my brother after all). After watching all the hugs mum gave Percy, I noticed Harry had disappeared from the house. A short time later I saw him walking in from outside. "The-boy-who-wants-to-catch-a-cold-because-he-wasn't-wearing-a-coat" seemed a bit agitated. He was pacing a bit and rubbing his hands together. Well, it was cold outside….no wait…he wasn't rubbing both hands. He was only rubbing the right one and only the top of it. Then I figured out why and pain rose to my heart. It was the hand that Umbridge hexed. The hand that was forced to bleed when Harry had to serve detentions with her. The hand that got scarred with the words "I must not tell lies" as Harry wrote it on enchanted parchment over and over again. If you look close enough you can still see the words etched into the top of his hand. Tears began to come to my eyes. I wanted to go over and hold his hand and make him feel better but I knew if I did I wouldn't be able to let go. Then it hit me. It was like I was ten years old again. But this wasn't a crush anymore. I was feeling more than just his physical pain. I was feeling his emotional pain. He wasn't even sharing it with me but I could still feel it. I felt myself longing to rid him of any pain he was going through. I was falling for Harry again, definitely not a crush but something much more. But how could I feel this way about Harry when I knew I was still with Dean? I turned and walked up the stairs to my room for a short time. I didn't want Harry to see my face or my eyes. I knew he would have been able to see right through me (What are you going to do now Weasley?).
Chapter 8: Another Life-Debt
Christmas break ended and my mind was racing with questions I had no answers to. I was driving myself crazy (Do I want to be with Dean? Do I want to be with Harry? Does Harry even have feelings for me? What if Harry doesn't have the same feelings for me that I have for him? What are the chances the ground will open up and swallow me whole so I can stop thinking so darn much?). I needed a woman's point of view but Hermione wasn't here and Percy's visit did nothing for my mum except keep her crying for the rest of the break (I was ready to put my foot through another lavatory stall). Well, we all floo'd back to Hogwart's and made a straight line toward Gryffindor tower. I was happy to see Hermione but as soon as she spoke to us the ignore-fest between her and Ron began again. It sure didn't help when Lavender showed up. I really wanted to talk to Hermione about Harry but she looked as if she had enough trouble trying not to think about Ron. So I excused myself from the group, stating I had to meet Dean. I thought I sounded convincing, but my heart just wasn't in it. Too much on my mind I guess. "The-boy-who-cleaned-the-wax-out-of-his-ears" must have heard something in my voice because he looked at me before I walked away (Yes Harry, I have fallen for you. Think maybe you could do the same for me?).
Three months went by in a blur. My school work was keeping my rather busy. I would see Harry on occasion in the common room, in the hallways or during meals. But he always seemed so busy with other things; I couldn't get him alone for more than a few minutes at a time. The weather was too cold for Quidditch. So I was going crazy with nothing to do with my free time. I did so many push-ups my arms were sore. I still didn't have the heart to speak to Dean (Yes, I was being a coward. But I couldn't allow myself to be hurt again if I was wrong about "The-boy-who-seemed-preoccupied"). It was the first of March when I finally got a significant amount of time with Harry. But given the events of that day I could have waited another three months to talk to him.
I was in a very happy mood. I always am on Ron's birthday because he means so much to me (love you big brother). I was glad that I had the smarts to have purchased Ron's birthday gift early because the next trip to Hogsmeade was cancelled. Secretly I was happy about the cancellation as I didn't think I could have handled an afternoon of tea at Madam Puddifoot's with Dean. I was busy wrapping Ron's gift (It was a gold chain to match the pocket watch my parents told me they purchased for him), when Hermione came running into my room. She looked horrible! There were tears running down her face and a look of helplessness on her eyes (Oh no! Please don't say something has happened to Harry!). I managed to calm her down long enough between sobs and deep breaths to get her to inform me that Ron was in the hospital wing and that he had been poisoned. I don't remember if I walked or ran to the hospital. I was feeling horrible for thinking of Harry's well being before Ron's. But with her being angry at Ron what was I supposed to think (Stop trying to convince yourself Weasley, you have Harry on the brain!)?
After several agonizing hours, members of my family (including Harry) were surrounding Ron's bed in the hospital wing. Harry must have said what happened countless times. I remember the look in his eyes when he told me. It was a look of relief and guilt. He always seems so down on himself when those around him get hurt (You saved your best friend's life again Harry. I am so lucky…I mean we are so lucky to have you in our lives).
Hermione was beside herself. I knew what she had to be thinking and feeling. If Ron had died she would never have forgiven herself for not talking to him. I only hoped this would get them speaking more openly about their feelings. I looked over at Harry (Life is too short Harry. Seeing Ron like this has shown me that. Please don't shut me out. You mean the world to me, now more then ever). Harry and I started discussing who would want to poison Ron. We talked about all sorts of theories and situations involving all sorts of people (So this was what it was like as part of the Trio? No wonder these three haven't had a quiet year at Hogwart's yet). It felt really good to talk to "The-boy-who-saved-my-brother's-life-AGAIN" without any other pretense. Harry seemed so focused and that in turn made me focus as well. But as we were wrapping up our chat, Ron muttered what sounded like Hermione's name in his sleep. I know she heard him when I saw the tears running down her face again. She had finally forgiven him everything. I remember thinking to myself that Ron had better not waste this opportunity.
It was then my parents walked in. My mum smothered "The-boy-who-we-all-owe-our-lives-to" with hugs. She does love him so. My mum and dad had Harry blushing heavily with how lucky we were as a family to have had Harry come into our lives (Knowing Harry he would most likely say the reverse to be true). I would have laughed if I didn't think it were true. Heck, part of me was hoping dad would have asked Harry if there was anything the family could do to repay him. I imagined Harry saying, "How about your daughter's hand in marriage?" (Whoa there Weasley, focus girl!). Before I knew it both Harry and Hermione were leaving. I knew in my heart that Hermione would be back at Ron's side soon enough. Ron did the same for her when she was petrified by the basilisk (Darn chamber of secrets!). I remember seeing him with her everyday just holding her hand. They are really lucky to have one another (Now if only I would get so lucky).
Chapter 9: Fiery Redhead
With Ron and Katie both out, Harry was forced not only to play Dean again, but to also use McLaggen as keeper. The team chemistry could not have been worse. But the way I figured it, between me scoring goals and Harry catching the snitch, we would be fine. I really, really should have known better. To start, with only five minutes before match time "The-boy-who-almost-didn't-show-up" runs through the door. I could see that he had Malfoy on the brain (Hello Harry, how about having me on the brain…you prat!).
Any other day we would have had Hufflepuff outclassed, but with McLaggen's trying to coach everyone and Harry's arguing with him things went downhill very quickly. Demelza and I were doing our best to keep it close. But McLaggen wasn't concentrating on protecting the goals. At one point he grabbed one of our beaters' bats and tried to give advice about how to hit a bludger in the middle of play. Well, he tried to hit one and totally miss hit it right into "The-boy-who-should-have-been-wearing-a-helmet"! At that point I don't remember who screamed louder, the entire crowd or me. All I really remembered was that everything seemed to slow down. In my mind's eye I saw many things. I saw Harry falling and snapping his neck on the turf. I saw myself crying over his grave for what seemed like forever. I saw myself stomping McLaggen's guts out. But what I saw in real life made me react faster than I thought I ever could. There was the sickening sound of the bludger as it met Harry's skull. Harry swayed on his broom for about a second or so and then he fell. He was about 100 meters in the air and I was a good 50 meters away. I saw our beaters; Peakes and Coote catch Harry shortly before he could hit the ground. They laid him on the ground gently, a frightened look on their faces. I felt the air knocked from my lungs as I landed on the ground. I pushed everyone near Harry out of the way. I knelt down next to him and leaned his body against mine. I could see the first aid personnel running towards us. My teammates were all around us, all with worry on their faces. At that point all I remember seeing was Dean's eyes watching me. I really didn't care what he might have been thinking. I was just kneeling there with Harry's head in my chest, stroking his hair….his blood all over my hands and clothes.
I went though the rest of the match in a daze. Hufflepuff destroyed us 320 to 60. I flew off the pitch quickly. I was planning to shower and change clothes. I wanted to get on my way to the hospital wing to check in on Harry as soon as possible. Well, I started towards the girl's changing room, but for some reason I found myself standing in front of the boy's changing room. I could hear the rest of the team yelling at McLaggen as they rounded the corner. Peakes was screaming at the top of his lungs about what a big moron he thought McLaggen was for even being stupid enough to try and play beater in the middle of the match. I then heard McLaggen say some thing that turned my vision red, "Well if Potter was half the Quidditch player the school makes him out to be he would have gotten out of that bludger's way, serves him right" He finished that sentence just as he turned the corner. My next move should have gotten me expelled, but at that point I just didn't care. I reared back and shattered my comet two-sixty on one swing right across McLaggen's shins. I looked around at my teammates. A look of shock was across all their faces. But not a one of them said a word or made a move to help McLaggen. He just laid there moaning in pain. As the rest of the team went to the changing rooms, Peakes bent over to McLaggen and said (as he was poking him with his bat mind you) "Serves you right"
I was about to finally make my way over to the hospital wing when I knelt down to McLaggen and said, "I make no apologizes for what I just did. Believe me you deserved it. What I am going to do is warn you. I never again want to see you wearing a Quidditch uniform, near the pitch, or talking to any of my teammates. I know you are bigger than I am and you most likely have a thought or two running through that small mind of yours that you might want to get back at me. But keep this in mind. I have six big brothers, not to mention a certain someone, who you just knocked out through an act of your own stupidity, who has single-handedly defeated you-know-who and killed a basilisk. Any of the seven of them would be more than happy to protect me from an oaf like you. Are you and I clear on what I am saying?" I got a small grunt in reply as I walked away.
I found myself sprinting to the hospital (I was really getting tired of visiting that place). When I arrived Harry was being treated for a fractured skull (nice turban Harry). Madam Pomfrey told me that Harry would be up and around in a matter of days. Ron saw my face and reassured me that Harry would be fine. He was worried more about me when he saw the blood and splinters on my hands and robes. I relayed what happened in regards to McLaggen and the destruction of my broom. Ron's reaction was his typical "bloody brilliant" which of course meant he approved. I swore him to secrecy. I figured I would have enough problems with Dean over the next few days. I just needed to get out of there and just be alone.
Chapter 10: Detention
That Monday morning started poorly as I received word Harry would be released from the hospital later than I expected. Dean and I were walking back from breakfast when I mentioned it to him. He began laughing as he recalled Harry's accident in the last match. Well, to make a long story short, Dean can consider himself lucky I wasn't holding another broom.
It was shortly thereafter that Dean and I broke up. The strange thing was I didn't do it for "The-boy-who-was-no-where-to-be-seen"; I ended up doing it for myself. He just wouldn't leave me alone. He kept insisting that he could help me with every little thing. It all came to a head one day as we were entering the Gryffindor common room portal. He still swears to this day that he never touched me or tried to help me through the portal in any way (Sure you didn't Dean). Well, I told him to back off and that I didn't need his help. He said something rather nasty and the rest was history. Or should I say we were history. Seems like it was a day for break ups, because Ron finally broke it off with Lavender as well. It was about time for those two anyway. Lavender can't hold a candle to Hermione. I felt so free after that (now where was "The-boy-who-has-a-heart-I-need-to-claim"?).
Speaking of happy news, Katie Bell finally returned to Hogwart's. She looked so well and was dying to get on her broom again. I was totally happy as now I didn't have to deal with Dean at Quidditch practices. The chemistry was definitely back and I didn't just mean on the team. Harry was thoroughly enjoying his time on the pitch. So much so he got a few more injuries from bludgers because he was paying so much attention to me (Whoa! He was paying attention, to me!) I really wanted to talk to him alone and I had a feeling that he wanted to say something to me too. But Ron never seemed to leave his side (Thanks you prat! You know there is a certain someone else who would love the attention you are placing on Harry. You know bushy hair, kind of a know-it-all, name starts with an H). But who was I fooling? Most likely Harry just wanted to discuss tactics for our match against Ravenclaw. The way the standings were we need a margin of no less than three-hundred points to win the championship. The way I saw it, the chasers could put up one hundred and fifty points easy. It would be left to Harry to close the deal with his one hundred and fifty points. Everything was coming together, nothing could stop us now (Why is it every time I talk like that, things go terribly wrong…Weasley you must learn to keep your big mouth shut!).
Harry broke the news first to me and the other two thirds of the Trio (I really should stop calling them that by now as Harry has started filling me in on a bit more information). He got himself into a magical brawl with Malfoy in Moaning Myrtle's lavatory and managed to injure Malfoy pretty badly. In my heart I cheered for Harry, but in my mind I was angry (How dare you get yourself thrown in detention on the day of the big match? Don't you see how much the team depends on you? How much the team needs you? Can't you see how much I need you?). He didn't get expelled though, and for that I was truly happy. I don't know what I would have done without him. I was finding more and more excuses to be around him and I could tell he was doing the same when it came to me.
When he dropped the news to the team the look on their faces was even worse than when he told Ron and Hermione. It was like a lead weight on their shoulders. Harry couldn't look me in the eyes again (It's OK Harry, you made a mistake. I could be angry or disappointed but I'm not. I can't stay mad at you).
He made roster adjustments placing me as seeker and Dean as third chaser. I read the look he had on his face when he told us that (No worries Harry, my heart is with you, not Dean). After the meeting broke up, Hermione and I got into a heated argument over that book that Harry used to injure Malfoy. I don't think she was worried about Harry at all. She was just miffed he was using the book to get a better grade in Potions than she was (You don't have to be the smartest at everything you know). Didn't she understand that it might have been Harry in the hospital again had Malfoy got off that last curse? The thought of that chilled me to the bone. Then Hermione tries to play on our feelings as athletes, bringing up the loss of Harry's services for the big match. Well, I put a stop to that quickly enough by telling her she knew nothing of Quidditch and to stop before she embarrasses herself. Well, the four of us were silent for the rest of the night, but Harry's eyes said it all. He was thanking me for defending him (Oh don't you worry Potter you can thank me later).
Chapter 11: Realization
The morning of the match found me up early and carefully suiting up (Oh, who was I fooling; I was so nervous I couldn't sleep). I slowly made my way to the common room. It had been a while since I played the seeker position and I was trying to adjust to the thinner gloves (the thinner the gloves the easier to feel the snitch, Weasley). I also had to adjust to my "new" broom (good job smashing yours across McLaggen's shins). Fred had posted me his old broom, and while he kept it in good condition it was just a bit too long for me. So I knew that my balance would be a bit off-center all match (Oh Harry, I am not ready for this. I'm going to fail you again and if I see those sad green eyes again, I'll just...). As if he actually heard me speaking to him in my mind, a small voice called, "Ginny?" He was looking right at me. Right into my eyes (they were focused, determined….what are you going to say? Oh, It doesn't matter just don't stop looking at me).
"I just wanted to wish you luck today (I'm going to need more then luck today Harry…we are going to need a miracle)."
"I see you got another broom, Ron told me about what you did with yours" (Did he now? The prat, I'll kill him).
"I don't think McLaggen will ever anger you again" (He better not, if he knows what's good for him).
"So do you think you can handle Fred's broom?" Harry asked.
"Well yes, it will take some doing with Fred being a bit taller than me, but I should be fine" (Harry don't make me lie to you, I'm going to stink today).
Harry then replied, "Well, I was thinking that maybe you could do me the honor of carrying something of mine into the match or the battle as Ron and I like to call them?" (Like what Harry, maybe a handkerchief? It doesn't matter what you give me because I carry you in my heart wherever I go. I need nothing else).
But before I could protest he handed something to me. My heart stopped in my chest. No, it wasn't a handkerchief; it was his most prized possession. There was no mistaking it. From the beautiful hand carved wood to the long grey hippogriff feather carefully tied to the top of the handle. I looked away, "No, Harry it's your Firebolt. I know what this means to you. I-I know who gave this to you"
His response made me weak at the knees. He gently pulled my chin up so I had no choice but to look in his eyes again. "I want you to use it. You are an incredible seeker and I know you will make Gryffindor proud" I was stunned. Our eyes were locked together for what seemed like ages but Harry broke eye contact first (Harry if you had kissed me right now it would have been perfect. It's OK. Please, I want you to).
He carefully took hold of my uniform and started adjusting it…wait he didn't adjust my uniform he pinned something to it. If I was stunned before I was speechless now. It was his captain's badge. "You have proven yourself to be the life and soul of this team, there is no one I would rather have as captain in my place today or any other day"
Before I could find my voice to respond, he was gone. I made a vow right at that moment to prove myself worthy of his confidence. I was going to play my heart out. I was going to leave it all on the pitch today. I would make "The-boy-who-never-ceases-to-amaze-me" proud. The tears that came down my face were those of happiness. The first ones in ages (Toughen up Weasley this is Quidditch…Oh shut up you prat!).
Seems I wasn't the only member of the team who couldn't sleep. As I made my way into the Gryffindor meeting room I could see the rest of the team already suited up as well (Time to make good on that vow Weasley). I could feel the tension in the room, not a drop of confidence mingled with it (I can see I have my work cut out for me Harry). I could feel Dean's eyes on me as I stood in front of the room. He saw the Firebolt in my hands and the captain's badge on my uniform. Dean started to say something but the look I gave him said "This is something you and I are never going to talk about, so leave it be" His eyes looked away.
The team gathered around me and I knew that whatever I said now would set the tone for the rest of the match. All eyes were on me as I began (I gave the Firebolt in my hands a good squeeze).
"I know what you are all thinking. To start with we don't have Harry today. Yes, he is one of the best seekers this school has ever seen. But due to circumstances he won't be on the pitch with us today and I would rather have him in detention than in a hospital bed again. I have checked the statistics, and I realize that in the history of Hogwart's there has never been a house team that has made up a three hundred point deficit in one match. But let us get some things straight. Harry is with us. He put this team together. He set the positions himself. Not because some of us are his friends (I looked at Ron and Dean) or because we have played on past teams (I looked at Katie). It was because he saw in us an ability to play this sport at a level above anyone else in the school. He is with us every time we put on these uniforms and fly out on that pitch. As for the three hundred points, there is a reason that it hasn't been done before, because we weren't together as a team to do it until today. Well that time has come. Our time has come. Our time is now!"
"Ravenclaw has a good squad, but we are better. Peakes, Coote, I want the bludgers controlled between the two of you all match. No hitting at anyone except chasers, and only if they are holding the quaffle on our side of the field. I swear if Ravenclaw's beaters get more then one hit at a time on any of the bludgers….I'm going to show you what I can do with a bat (I could see they knew I was serious but not mental as I said that)!
"Dean, Katie, Demelza, keep your attack patterns as random as possible. Don't give the defense or the keeper a chance to breathe. I want that keeper so confused that by the end of the match he will never want to play Quiddtich again. Attack in groups and avoid one-on-ones with the keeper. No less than three passes before you shoot and get back quickly on defense. But above all else if the shot feels right, you take it. When we chasers fly how do we do it?" They all looked at me and in perfect unison yelled, "AS ONE"
"RON! (I yelled his name rather sternly, his eyes snapped open wider. I don't think he had ever seen this side of me), nothing gets by you today…nothing! Give everything you have out there today. Don't give up on anything. Make anyone taking a shot at you today commit first. You are a brilliant keeper with incredible abilities. You proved that against Slytherin when you shut them out. But I know you can play even better.
"Now listen closely everyone, leave the seeker to me. Today, Cho Chang is mine! I don't want to see a bludger or a quaffle anywhere near her. Leave her to me! Do your jobs and I will do mine. Is that understood (Yes, was the reply I got in unison)?
"Finally, don't hold anything back today. Play with everything you got.
Play with all your hearts and souls out there. Leave it all on the pitch! Now let's go out there today and show Ravenclaw and the crowd what real Quidditch is all about!"
I closed my eyes as I felt the team close in around me. I felt their hands wrapping around mine. A small voice sounded from my right. It was Dean's, he slowly started chanting, "Go, go, Gryffindor", "Go, go Gryffindor", "Go, go, Gryffindor" Dean's chant became louder and faster as my teammates joined in. Louder and louder, faster and faster, we bounced as one to our team chant. "GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR!" "GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR!" "GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR!"
Professor MacGonagall walked in as we completed the chant with, "GO, GRYFFINDOR, GO!" As we faced her there was not a smile among us. There was a look of determination on our faces that must have taken the professor by surprise because she could not get her voice above a whisper to inform us that it was match time. As the team exited I asked the professor if she could please allow me a minute to myself. She gave my captain's badge a quick glance followed by an understanding nod as she closed the door behind her.
I leaned with my back against the wall. I closed my eyes and pressed the tip of Harry's broom handle against my forehead. I had my teammates convinced; now I just had to convince myself. Cho Chang was the second best seeker in school. I studied her style enough to know that. She flies like the wind. She can turn and stop on a silver sickle. She was undefeated as she had grabbed the snitch in every match she played in this year. Yes, I had beaten her last year but she had improved so much since then. Not to mention I had had three matches as seeker under my belt before we played one another. I'm also sure she underestimated me when we first faced off. She sure wasn't going to make that mistake again. I hadn't played seeker all year (I could feel the rust in my bones). Also the game plan I had in mind for facing Chang hadn't worked for anyone else this year, and I feared it wouldn't for me either (Oh, Harry I'm going to fail miserably).
I felt a familiar pair of hands grab hold of my shoulders. I opened my eyes and raised my head to find Ron looking at me with a small grin on his face. He leaned forward and placed his forehead against mine.
"When you yelled my name, I could have sworn I heard mum's voice. I guess my little sister isn't so little anymore"
He lifted his chin and kissed me on the forehead. "The team is with you…I'm with you..." I felt his hand enclose around my hand that was holding the Firebolt, "and Harry is with you" the look on Ron's face said everything. He didn't just mean on the pitch. He meant in general. Was Ron giving me his blessing to pursue something more with his best friend? As soon as this match was over, win or lose, I needed to find out.
I was the last in the entrance ramp leading to the pitch. I gave one quick thought of Harry in detention before I mounted his broom. I pushed away from the ground to the crowd's roar. My normal pre-match routine would have been to fly two complete circuits around the observation rings of the pitch. The Firebolt was amazing. I thought the Nimbus series was great. The Firebolt made them seem like they were standing still. I finished my circuits so fast I decided to fly two more. That broom was so responsive. It almost felt as if it knew what I was going to do before I did it. Unbelievable (Harry was going to have a hard time getting it back from me)!
Madam Hooch double checked everyone's positions as she released the game balls. My team still looked as determined as when MacGonagall interrupted us. I gave a look over to Cho Chang who had a vengeful look on her face (What's your problem? Oh, wait I know what your problem is...it's about to be ME!). Madam Hooch put the quaffle into play and both teams went in all directions.
I went instantly to Cho's side. Suddenly I noticed that the crowd, which was roaring a second before, went silent. What happened? I had my answer a second later as my three chasers flew by me in perfect formation back to defensive positions. A gong and change of the scoreboard told me that we just scored a goal in less than five seconds. Both the crowd and Ravenclaw's team had been stunned into silence. No team had ever scored that fast. Suddenly the Gryffindor stand erupted. The crowd began cheering, "GO, GO, GRYFFINDOR" The match resumed with Ravenclaw's chasers determined to even the score just as quickly (Big mistake people!). The chasers were crossing center pitch in a three man crossing pattern. They were showing the quaffle for no more then a split second at a time. For all the good it would do them. Coote and Peakes were hitting both bludgers between themselves when they went into attack mode. Peakes used the momentum from Coote's last pass to nail both bludgers, one behind the other, as the Ravenclaw chasers crossed again. The bludgers found two out of the three chasers. One of which dropped the quaffle. Demelza and Katie were on it before it fell two meters. Dean was a full four lengths ahead of his partners when they hit him with a perfect lead pass that completely fooled the Ravenclaw keeper. He was so out of position that Dean could have put his arm through the hoop and dropped it in. He simply underhanded it and went back to defense. My team wasn't doing any unnecessary celebrating. They had a job to do and they were doing it.
Speaking of jobs, about thirty minutes into the match, I could tell Cho got the idea of what I had planned to do because she started to fly all over the pitch in an attempt to shake me (not going to happen Chang!). She led me in front of the Ravenclaw goal posts. A sudden streak of fear ran though me as I imagined myself getting nailed by a bludger. I shouldn't have worried as I could see Ron hovering on his broom in front of the hoops, the bludgers passing safely in front of him between my beaters. Daring any Ravenclaw player to try and breach his defense.
What I saw coming towards me surprised me more though. Katie was moving quickly up the field, she had no one to pass to and she was being roughed up by two Ravenclaw chasers. I saw Katie pick up speed (which is the last thing you should do when you are being forced into the stands). We locked eyes for an instant, and she pulled up so that she and the chasers would pass over me. As they bypassed me, Katie did something insane; she dropped the quaffle straight down…..right into my hands (It wasn't until later that I found out that what I thought was insanity was actually an old Quiddtich move called the "Porskoff Ploy"). She did it so smoothly that the defenders were completely fooled as they kept right on her. It was me and the keeper one-on-one (spin-shot time!). The Firebolt was much faster than my comet two-sixty. So I found myself spinning faster than I thought possible. Good thing my focus was sharp as I released the quaffle. My shot was headed for the center goal when I saw the Ravenclaw keeper position himself directly in front of speeding quaffle. He was in perfect position to make the catch (big mistake). He caught the quaffle in the dead center of his chest, for all the good it did him. There was so much strength behind my spin that the momentum of the shot lifted him off his broom and straight through the hoop, quaffle and all!
140 to 70 Gryffindor. The crowd went from chanting, "GO, GO, Gryffindor" to "Goal, Goal, Gryffindor!" I even heard some people chanting, "GO, GINNY, GO!" But I knew I wasn't on the pitch to score goals today. I was on the pitch to grab the golden snitch. It was in that split second that I realized I had made a major mistake. I took my eyes off of Cho Chang. Panic filled my mind, as I saw Cho speeding upwards at a tremendous rate. She had the snitch in her sights and I was sure that she wasn't going to take her eyes off of it to look behind her for me.
I was moving before I knew it. It felt as if the wind was splitting before me and the broom and I were one (Is this what it is like for you Harry? When all that exist is you and the snitch. When all around you blurs and you get a sort of tunnel vision. Is this what the sport feels like when you give all five senses to it? Now I understand the difference between someone who merely plays this sport and someone who was born to play it). I saw the snitch and Cho Chang's hand reaching for it. Everything else faded into the background. Cho's fingers were closing around the snitch when I rocketed past her and slapped the snitch away (No way Chang! My team hasn't scored enough points yet. That was the closest you get to the snitch today. The next time you get to see it is when I'm holding it above my head, showing it to the crowd). I could tell that Cho couldn't believe it. It was out of her hands so quickly that it disappeared before either one of us could get an eye back on it. The look she gave me could have melted stone. I threw that look right back at her (This is about Quidditch, Gryffindor, and the championship. Nothing else, let's get that straight Chang!).
With the score 300 to 140 both teams were tiring. The teams were playing at a level and speed well beyond our limits. We had been playing full speed for two hours straight. I could see the match taking its toll on Ron especially. Ravenclaw was not Slytherin. Their chasers were far more skilled and it was a credit to Ron's abilities that he had kept them down to a mere 140 points after 120 minutes of play. He was using every inch of his broom and body to stop every quaffle that came his way. I could see his arms and legs shaking from exhaustion. I could see small bruises from where deflected shots glanced off his face. But he kept them locked at 140. The Gryffindor crowd was cheering him on chanting, "WEASLEY IS OUR KING, WEASLEY IS OUR KING!" But I noticed one person in the crowd wasn't chanting. It was Hermione. She could see the exhaustion in Ron's face (I could tell at that moment that Ron still hadn't totally recovered from the poison last March). Hermione wanted this match to end before Ron ended up in a hospital bed again (Hermione and Ron share a life-debt as well; I was just too blind to have seen that). I had to end this match…and fast.
Just as that thought crossed my mind, I caught a glimmer of gold near the ground at center-pitch. I saw that Cho Chang had seen it as well. We both dove straight at the ground for it. It became a question of who wanted it more. Funny thing was I knew the answer to that question long before I said it. I fooled myself at the beginning of the match into thinking that, for me, this was about the championship. But as we dove for the snitch, for me it became about something more. It wasn't about the match, it wasn't about Gryffindor, and it wasn't even about the championship. It was about Harry and his happiness. Cho Chang had her chance to make him happy. But she didn't want that chance, at least not as much as I have always wanted that chance. So when I grabbed the snitch, a split second before Cho could, I smiled. Not because we won the match 450 to 140, not because we won the championship, and not because I beat Cho Chang again. It was because in my mind's eye, somewhere on campus, Harry would be smiling, that full face smile when he is truly happy. As I landed on the ground and lifted the snitch above my head and the crowd cheered, all I wanted to do was to get off the pitch and find Harry (I was going to offer my heart to him, regardless of the outcome).
Chapter 12: Victory Party
Strange thing when you want to get something done in a hurry. Everything seems to get in the way. There I was with the snitch over my head (don't get me wrong, I was very happy. Heck, we had just won against all the odds), my teammates surrounded me in no time. Dean, Katie, and Demelza reached me first. I was grabbed up in a group hug, I couldn't help but smile as the four of us screamed, "AS ONE!" in unison. It had become our chaser motto and the way they flew today proved it. I had to admit that the four of us flew great as a unit this year.
Peakes and Coote were hugging me next. Peakes spoke for both of them when he said; "There was no way we were going to disappoint you seeing what you did to McLaggen with that broom" I couldn't help but laugh.
My laughter didn't last very long as the field was filling up with spectators. But it wasn't the crowd that made me stop laughing. It was the sight of Ron leaning against Hermione. He was totally spent. But I don't know whether it was our victory or having Hermione so close to him that had him smiling so much. He touched foreheads together with mine again as he said, "I am so proud of you" (Not as proud I am of you big brother).
Gryffindors from all years were congratulating us (could we get on with the ceremony please?). It wasn't my first championship in Quidditch. But it was my first as captain (sort of). Dumbledore and Snape (the detention giving git!) were the only staff members missing. The trophy was handed to me and I quickly handed it off to Ron. I could see just having the trophy in his hands brought him new found energy as he lead the rest of the team and the crowd around the pitch in a victory lap, which would then lead to the common room and a Gryffindor celebration party that would most likely lose us quite a few house points.
I stood there still holding the snitch in my hand. I could still feel it fluttering. I was so lost in my own thoughts that I didn't realize that Hermione was still standing there.
"You did it for him didn't you?" Hermione said.
"No, Ron did it for himself today" I replied.
"Not Ron silly…Harry, you did it for Harry!" Hermione continued, "I have been watching him all year. He doesn't always confide everything to me or Ron, but I could see it in his face and finally I see it in yours"
"See what?" I asked.
"That he finally realizes what you mean to him, and you realize that what you feel for him isn't a crush. That you finally care deeply for one another"
When I looked up, Hermione had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. I grabbed her in hug as I began to cry.
"I haven't had the courage to say anything to him. I'm just afraid to get hurt again if he doesn't feel the same way" I told her as I hugged her tighter.
"I would bet my wand he feels the same" she replied.
"Come on let's get to the common room, maybe he is already there" She said as she helped me with Harry's broom (Thank goodness because I just didn't have the strength to lift it. I said I would leave it all on the pitch today…and I really did).
As luck, would have it Harry was still in detention (I'm starting to really hate Snape). The atmosphere in the common room was incredible. I didn't think we could fit more people into the room. The silver trophy was being passed among the team. It was filled with butterbeer so it was a tradition that all members of the championship team must drink from it. Ron was sitting there with his arms around the trophy. The smile he had on his face was infectious and I couldn't help but smile along with him. Katie and Demelza were still talking to me about the "Porskoff Ploy" (They told me it was in a book called, "Quidditch through the ages") and my one goal when I felt myself being drenched in butterbeer. Seems the team conspired to give me a good drenching as part of the victory celebration. I couldn't get upset about it. They had made me so proud today. They handed me the trophy (which still had quite a bit of butterbeer left in it) and began chanting, "Go, Ginny, go!" "Go, Ginny, go!" I had completely forgotten that as team captain I was bound by tradition to finish the contents of the trophy (regardless of the amount). Before I knew it I had emptied every drop. Now butterbeer is in no way an adult substance, but it has never sat very well with me. Ron and Katie were laughing at me as I attempted to stand up…and failed miserably. Hermione made it a point to come over and help me (Oh what a sight you will be if Harry walks in now Weasley). She helped me up to the dorms (butterbeer mustache and all).
As we entered my room I remembered mumbling something like, "Wears Harvey?" Hermione could only answer through a slight giggle, "Well, I don't know who Harvey is, but I'm sure Harry is still with Snape"
I yelled out loud "Snape is a miserable old goat!"
Hermione replied, "That's it, no more butterbeer for you" But before I could say anything more, Hermione's wand was passing over me.
A few sobering and cleaning charms later I was clear headed and good as new. Hermione headed back to the common room a few minutes before me as I decided to check myself in the mirror before heading back to the party. I was making my way downstairs via a familiar quiet corridor when Dean showed up.
"You are an incredible player and captain" he said as he began closing the distance between us. I knew where he wanted this to go and I knew I had to stop it fast.
I put my hand against his chest and pushed lightly, "Dean, what you and I had was good while it lasted. But we can't give each other what we need. I just don't feel that deeply for you" There was a slight look of shock followed by understanding that what we had was definitely over and could not be relived again. He walked past me and back into the common room (Go get yourself another butterbeer Dean. I'm sure there are plenty of girls at the party for you).
As I entered the room again a great roar erupted in the direction of the entrance portal. Harry had finally arrived. He had a look on his face as if he had expected to arrive to a wake rather than a celebration (Guess you were expecting a loss today too. Glad to see I wasn't the only one with a lack of confidence).
I saw Ron giving Harry the good news, and there it was, that beautiful smile that I had been dying to see since the match was over. He looked away from Ron and began searching the room. No doubt looking for Hermione (can't go a few hours without the Trio). No wait…he looked past her and as soon as his eyes met mine he stopped searching. He was looking for me (me?)! I don't remember if I was walking or if I ran at Harry. I never broke eye contact with him as I threw my arms around him for a victory hug. Oh who am I trying to fool? I have wanted to hug him again ever since I went crashing into the commentator's podium. When we hugged that first time it felt like we were two sides of the same…..mmmpphh!
I felt Harry's lips on mine and a thousand thoughts passed through my mind (Harry, we are in a crowded room!)(Wow, his lips are so soft)(You're kissing me right in front of Ron and Hermione)(So soft)(Everyone will talk)(Such strong hands touching my face)(Cho Chang you are such a fool for letting him go)(My heart is beating so fast)(Mum and dad are going to kill me)(Shut up Weasley and kiss him back).
I thought for months that the hug we shared was perfect. But that first kiss made the hug non-existent. Kissing Harry was something I would only want to do just with him forever. When we finally came apart (to the sound of Dean's glass breaking), I looked into Harry's eyes and saw a gentle green that I could tell was just for me. Ron just looked at us and gave an approving look (I love you big brother). Hermione was just smiling like she got an "A" in Divination (Thanks for being there for me Hermione).
Harry just looked at me and motioned to the portal (Oh now you want to be alone with me…what no Trio? Lead the way. Harry I would follow you anywhere).
Chapter 13: Unnecessary apologies
We walked along just enjoying the fact that we finally had some time alone together. The feeling of holding his hand made me felt secure in a way I didn't think possible. I can't really explain it. It just felt right. I'm sure students were getting an eyeful but neither of us cared. We finally settled under a couple of trees near the far side of the lake. I figured Harry had about a thousand questions he wanted to ask about the match (Wrong again Weasley). We spent the next ten minutes….uh half an hour….uh one hour….uh half a day; oh I don't know how long kissing each other. He has such gentle hands. They held my face as we kissed. It felt like he was trying to make up for lost time (I'm not going anywhere Harry). When we finally pulled away from each other he was still holding my face. "I have wanted to do that for a long time now" he said.
"I wanted you to kiss me for even longer Harry"
"So tell me about the match. First team in Hogwart's history to make up a three hundred point difference in one game" He stated.
"How about instead of telling you I let you see for yourself?" I said.
I pulled out a pair of omnioculars. "Ron had Colin Creevy record the entire match for you"
Harry's eyes lit up, "You think of everything don't you?" he said as he planted a kiss on my cheek.
I blushed as he pulled away (How do you still make me do that? All I need is a butter tray to stick my elbow into).
"Well, not everything, if I knew you were going to kiss me I would have played seeker sooner" He smiled and kissed me again (hee hee!).
Harry was deep into the omniocular recording. I was just laying there with my back to his chest just looking up at his face. His lips were all swollen from all the snogging (mine were too, but I couldn't help staring at his cute lips wanting more).
"Great pass Katie, nice Porskoff (Great, am I the only one who hasn't read "Quidditch through the Ages"...well it wasn't my fault that it is always checked out from the library!)! Wait a second you're the seeker, what are you doing trying to shoot on goal? Isn't that the same shot you put on McLaggen during the try-outs? Ouch! The keeper will be feeling that quaffle in the morning"
I was beaming with pride. "That was my spin shot…I developed it during the summer" I told him.
He replied, "Oh during all those private practices early in the morning?"
I was shocked, "How did you…?"
"One morning I couldn't sleep. I went for a walk and saw you practicing on the pitch. You seemed so focused I decided that if I bothered you I would end up eating a quaffle. You can be a bit scary when you are determined." He said this without ever pulling the omnioculars from his eyes, a smile on his face (Good thing for him because I was about to show him scary).
"Nice denial of the snitch! Cho was right on top of it." He said this with a bit of pride in his voice.
I replied, "Yeah I almost messed up there. I took my eyes off of her"
Harry pulled his eyes from the recording and looked at me. He could see how the burden of almost losing the match weighed on me when I said that.
"Yeah, but you made up for it. You are a great seeker Ginny" I was blushing again (There he goes pushing my blush button again). But before I could turn away he picked me up and sat me on his lap and hugged me. I pulled back preparing to kiss him when I saw something in his eyes, it looked like a mixture of sadness and guilt?
"What?" I asked.
He bowed his head slightly and lowered his gaze. "I'm sorry…sorry I was too blinded by my own stupidity to notice you. But when I saw you with Dean, something inside me snapped. I realized right then that it was always you I wanted all along. You have always been the one for me. I just kept you at arms length because I thought I could never be more than another brother to you" (He wasn't looking at me again…not again Potter).
I lifted his face and he leaned against my hands. I put one of my fingers to his lips, "Shhhh, no apologies. It just took us some time to find one another. I'm just sorry that when I was arguing with Ron that I mentioned Cho Chang and…"
His lips met mine again. He pulled away and said, "No apologies, Ginny" (His kiss was so gentle; I didn't want it to stop).
He looked at me, "So will you be my girl?"
I laughed, "Are you kidding, I'm the number one seeker in school now, I can have any guy I want. How is it going to look me dating "The-boy-who-got-himself-thrown-in-detention-the-day-of-the-big-match?"
"You are so dead Weasley!" He grabbed me and tickled me (Ha, ha, ha…how does he know my ticklish spots…hee hee).
"Besides it was all because of the Firebolt and you know it" He teased.
"Well…ha ha…maybe you're right…by the way…the Firebolt is a crappy broom…hee hee…can I have it…ha ha ha"
"Crappy broom huh? Next time I'll just lend you a mop" He was tickling me at a faster pace now.
"Ha ha…by the way…you're not getting it back…ha ha ha….stop stop…hee hee!"
"Oh really, well I think I know how to get it back anyway" He said.
"Ha ha ha…how's that?" I said.
He stopped tickling me and wrapped his arms around me. His lips found mine once more. I couldn't help it, my laughter instantly stopped as I returned his kiss and melted in his arms (OK Harry, I give in …just don't ever stop kissing me like this).
Time went by in a blur after that conversation. I had never seen Harry so happy for so long a period of time (yes, I was as happy as he was). He was trying to make up for lost time. Not that he needed to. We had what we had. When June rolled around I got incredibly busy with my O.W.L.s. I figured Harry would get testy with us not seeing each other as much as we would have liked. But as always Harry surprised me by being there when I needed him and leaving me be when I needed to be left alone. It was like he could always tell what I was feeling. It felt good to know that he could understand me in ways no other person could. Besides he was busy attending private lessons with Dumbledore and I respected the fact he wanted to keep it private (even though I had a feeling he was sharing information with the rest of the Trio).
As far as I was concerned he would tell me when he was ready. Things between us were as perfect as they could be. I should have known it wouldn't last.
Chapter 14: Ginny and Felix
That night will be with me as long as I live. I had just finished a long study session in the library and was on my way back to the common room to meet "The-boy-who-I-hoped-grabbed-me-something-eat" Ron and Hermione stopped me in the corridor. Ron didn't say a word, he just handed me a small bottle. Hermione quickly explained everything Harry told them. She ended with Harry's goodbye. (Goodbye!) These two were doing it again, holding back information and not filling me in completely.
"Why are you telling me to take this bottle of potion?" "Why exactly do we want to get the D.A. together again?" Ron and Hermione said nothing (They know something and aren't talking).
"Ron, why exactly do you want to me to take a bottle of Felix Felicis (Hermione was standing there with a surprised look on her face)?"
"Hermione, you aren't the only person who studies in this school. I know what Felix Felicis is" Still they said nothing.
"FOR THE LAST TIME, WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME LUCK POTION! WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CONTACT THE D.A.! AND WHERE IS HARRY! HE IS MY BOYFRIEND AND I HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT HE HAS GOTTEN HIMSELF INTO!" Still they said nothing.
I lowered my voice to a calm angry whisper, "Fine, keep me in the dark for now. I'll do what you ask. But let us get something straight. I'm tired of this "Hogwart's Trio" nonsense. The next time I get a chance the four of us are going to sit down for a long talk and I'm going to want every detail about all the information you three are keeping from me. No more shutting me out." Ron and Hermione were stunned, but of course they said nothing.
I separated from the two of them and made my way up to my dorm to find my contact galleon. All I could think of was Harry and what kind of situation he could have gotten himself into this time. Now I wasn't going to try and fool myself into thinking that Harry's life hasn't always been full of danger. Voldemort had already tried to take Harry's life on about five separate occasions, one time while saving mine. But this time I was in a position to help but no one would tell me what was going on. I opened up the bottle of Felix Felicis and drank its contents in one gulp. But to tell you the truth, even as I swallowed the last drop, I wasn't feeling very lucky.
I couldn't believe that of all of last year's D.A. members, Neville and Luna were the only ones who showed up (Those two are true Gryffindors). Hermione told me what areas needed to be watched. So we split up. Ron, Neville and I went to the area containing the Room of Requirement, Hermione and Luna to Snape's office.
I was well on my way to driving myself mad after an hour of watching a brick wall (Harry, where the heck are you and are you OK? If you go off and get yourself murdered, I will kill you myself…yes Weasley that makes sense). Ron was doing his best to avoid my gaze (Ron, he is my boyfriend. Can't you see how worried I am about him? Why are you keeping secrets from me?). I looked over at Neville, he looked a little on edge (We are all a little scared Neville. That is what makes you the brave person you are. If you weren't scared, then I would be worried).
"Ginny can I ask you something?" Neville asked.
"Sure Nev what is it?" I replied.
"Do you think a girl like…" he hesitated.
"Who Nev, like who?" I urged him.
"Like Luna" he replied.
"What about Luna?" I asked.
"Do you think a girl like Luna could ever care for a guy like me?" he asked with a little sadness on his face.
"Oh Neville, any girl would consider herself lucky to have a guy like you. I see the way Luna looks at you when you two are around each other. She has feelings for you too. Besides, you have a good heart. She would have to be quite deft not to see that." I could see the smile in his eyes.
"Thanks Ginny, now I can see why Harry really…."
He didn't get a chance to finish as a door suddenly appeared on the brick wall. "Ron look." I whispered. All three of our wands were out at once. Ron on the right side of the door, Neville and I on the left.
One second we saw Malfoy's face, the next second, total darkness. "Lumos!" I yelled. Nothing happened. I could hear Ron and Neville trying their charms, still it remained pitch black (what the heck was happening?). I heard several sets of footsteps running by us. I was tempted to throw up a bat-bogey hex, but with Ron directly across from me I didn't want him having to fight off bats when he might have to be fighting for his life (Harry, where ever you are I hope you are OK because we really need you back here with us as soon as possible).
"We have to get out of this area, now!" Ron yelled. So we started walking in the direction that we knew the hallway went. It took us a little while before any of us could see anything. Neville, being the "steady footed" person that we all love wasn't watching where he was going as he ran into Lupin. Behind Lupin stood several members of the Order of the Phoenix, which included Tonks and my brother Bill. I gave Bill a quick hug and we were off trying to find Malfoy and whoever he led in.
"Why in the name of Merlin are you not in your dorm rooms?" Bill asked in a big brotherly sort of way.
"Harry had been suspicious of Malfoy all year long" I started as Ron finished for me, "and all this year Hermione and I told him he was paranoid and being silly" Ron blamed himself.
"Well we won't be making that mistake again" I said, unable to hide the annoyance in my voice.
As soon as I finished that statement we were upon the Death Eaters. Spells and hexes were being sent in all directions.
"Why are they headed for the astronomy tower?" I asked in a yell as we scattered in all directions. I could see Lupin taking the fight to the Death Eaters as someone came from the door of the tower. He was about to use a killing curse when Lupin beat him to the punch. The Death Eater spun in mid-air and crashed to the ground.
I always thought the battle at the Ministry of Magic was bad. That was a tea party in comparison to what was happening here. The potion I took must have been working because at one point I had two Death Eaters trying to kill me at the same time. But I kept dodging each curse like I knew where it was going before it left their wands. I saw a flash of light and the Death Eater on my rear was down. Neville was standing there with a surprised look on his face. He had just enough time to give me a small grin before he was blasted by a stunning spell. "Nev!" I yelled as I ran to check on him. Thank goodness he was still breathing.
A cold chill ran up my spine (Get up Gin, MOVE!). A curse hit the spot where I had just been kneeling. I had moved just in time to avoid being hit by the other Death Eater that nailed Neville. I hexed the Death Eater prat without really aiming (Thank you Felix!).
As I turned to run and lure any danger away from Neville, I was greeted by a sight that I will never be able to push from my mind. It was Fenrir Greyback, the infamous leader of a pack of werewolves; he wasn't transformed into his werewolf form but looked like a combination of both man and beast. Hermione told me about Lupin's own werewolf change back during my second year. It didn't prepare me from what I was seeing right here in front of me. Greyback was totally worse. He hadn't even changed and he seemed so animal-like.
I started firing hexes in Greyback's direction as fast as I could. He was dodging them as if he had taken Felix Felicis. I was backing up and firing hexes at the same time. Greyback kept dodging and running forward. My back hit a solid wall, I had no where to run, Greyback was almost upon me (I'm sorry Harry. I didn't even get to kiss you one last time. Please, I don't want to die).
Just as Greyback was upon me, a body came from my right and tackled Greyback to the ground. My brother Bill had cut off Greyback and was busy pounding his fists into him. "Run Ginny!" He screamed. He didn't have to tell me twice as I was moving again to avoid being cursed by yet another Death Eater. "Crucio, Crucio, Crucio!" the Death Eater screamed as I kept dodging. I heard a loud scream as I dodged again (I saw Greyback standing over the prone form of Bill).
"NOOO! I screamed. It was all I could get out as yet another curse came within inches of me.
Was that Snape and Malfoy that just came running out of the astronomy tower? I heard Snape yell something like, "Its over" and then he was gone, running with Malfoy on his tail. But at that point I had my own problems. That Death Eater was getting closer and closer with his curses. He was taking a real pleasure in making me dodge.
As he fired yet another curse at me, a black haired blur slid under the Death Eaters last curse and nailed him with a stunning spell of his own. "Harry, how did you get here?" I was both relieved he was alive but afraid he could have just as easily been killed. Harry didn't miss a beat as he went from a sliding blur to a running one. He was running in the same direction as Snape. "Harry wait" but I'm sure he didn't hear me. I tried my best to run after Harry when the ceiling in the hallway Harry was just running down came crashing to the ground, stopping me from following him. "Harry!" "Harry!" "HA-RRY!" I yelled almost uncontrollably as a huge cloud of dust and smoke made it impossible to see.
Chapter 15: Aftermath
When all the dust and smoke had finally cleared I made my way back to the area where the battle had begun, the area near the astronomy tower (How did Death Eaters get in the castle? Where was Snape leading Malfoy? Weren't Hermione and Luna supposed to be watching Snape? How was my brother Bill? Where was Harry and was he OK? AARRGGHH! I feel so helpless).
The first person I saw was Ron. He was shaking uncontrollably over a badly bleeding and disfigured body. It wasn't until I got closer that I realized who that body was. I heard a scream as I knelt to the floor in front of Bill's injured form. It was a short time later when I realized the scream I heard was my own. Ron wasn't the only person shaking uncontrollably anymore. My hands were shaking, yet I wasn't the least bit cold. A dark realization was settling inside me. It should have been me lying there, bleeding and wounded. Bill was hurt because of me.
"It's my fault, he tackled Greyback to save me" I said this in a whisper to no one in particular (Harry, is this what you felt when Sirius was killed?).
"It's not your fault Ginny. We're family and families protect each other. Had the situation been reversed you would have done the same for him and you know it" Ron was looking directly at me (here was the so called "weak link" showing his strength again).
My shaking stopped but I wasn't feeling much better. Lupin and the rest of the people with him were trying to establish some order out of the mess that surrounded us. The injured were being taken to the hospital wing. Lupin came over to us and asked us how we were.
When he saw we were uninjured, he asked us if we had seen Harry (Who?). I couldn't even remember my own name. I couldn't think straight, I was so scared and confused (Come on girl, snap out of it!).
"Ginny, have you seen Harry?" Lupin was holding me by the shoulders now (Is this how Aurors feel after a fierce battle? Harry why would you want to do this for a living?) (HARRY!)
"He ran by me during the fight. I think he was chasing after Snape and Malfoy. I tried to follow him but one of the Death Eaters brought the hallway ceiling down around us. I don't know if Harry got caught in that hallway or not" (Bill was being transported to the hospital as I said this).
"Ginny, see if you can trace Harry's steps. Find Harry and bring him to the hospital wing" Lupin said.
"But what about my brother Bill?" I cried.
"There isn't anything you can do for Bill right now. I'll stay with Bill, just find Harry" I could see the concern in Ron's face as he said this. He was Harry's best friend and he would have gone instead, but he could see the worry eating me up inside.
"Now MOVE!" I was running before Ron could finish yelling at me. But to be honest I had no idea where to start and a huge part of my heart was afraid of what I might find.
Hogwart's was a wreck. Suits of armors smashed, paintings burned, the main entrance hourglass shattered. When I finally got outside the first thing that I noticed was the smell of smoke. Hagrid's hut had white smoke coming from it. It had been set on fire but thankfully had been put out. I could only hope that no one was inside during the blaze. I made my way around the castle. I figured the best place to start would be outside the astronomy tower as this is where the battle took place. I could see the Death Eater's mark hovering above the tower so I knew I was heading in the right direction. The mark is a sign that someone had been killed. I silently prayed that the mark was wrong and that no one on our side was dead.
My mind was racing again (Oh Harry please don't be dead. We just started something together. I don't want to lose you just when we finally found one another. I still owe you a life-debt I haven't even begun paying back. There is so much I haven't told you. So much of my heart I haven't shown you. Harry, I...).
My thoughts were pulled from my mind as I rounded the tower corner. There he was with his back to me (Oh thank goodness he is alive). I could sense he was exhausted both mentally and physically. His clothes were a mess. He had small cuts and bruises on all areas of his exposed skin. He was kneeling over something …No, no, no, not Dumbledore. It couldn't be. But it was. He was kneeling over Dumbledore's body. His shoulders were shaking, he was in tears. I could feel myself crying as well, not just because Dumbledore was dead, but because I knew that Harry's guilt would be eating him up inside (Harry, please don't blame yourself. You've placed too much upon your shoulders already).
A small crowd was beginning to gather around Harry. Hagrid was doing his best to get Harry up and away from the area, for all the good it was doing him. Harry just wouldn't move for Hagrid.
Hagrid gave me a pleading look. It was amazing how small a giant can seem when he looks helpless. I reached out and touched Harry's hand. "Harry come on" my voice barely a whisper. His hand was so cold but I would not let it go. I needed to hold his hand as much as he needed me to. He reacted to my touch without saying a word. We moved in silence for a short time. I was just trying to get him inside the castle and away from questioning eyes. Students were all over the place now, trying to see what had happened, trying to get a look at Harry (Stop it, leave him be! Hasn't he been through enough! Do you really need another reason to point him out of a crowd and shun him!).
I was really beginning to hate this school. For Harry it had always been his true home. But to me it was becoming more and more a place of bad memories for him. His parents, Diggory, Sirius, and now Dumbledore were all dead and I could see Harry just piling that all on himself and nothing anyone could say would stop him from heaping the guilt upon himself…..even me (Harry, I'm not going anywhere. You are never going to add me to that list. I promise you). I wanted to say something…anything. I wanted to hold him and shut everyone and everything else out. I wanted to rip the eyes out of these nosy students who kept looking at Harry as if he were on display at the zoo.
After a few words of disagreement, we ended up in the hospital wing (I change my mind, now I know I hate this place). If I couldn't think straight before, I was completely brain dead now. My mind was going in a thousand directions. I found out Bill would live, but no one knew for sure what after effects Greyback's attack would have on him (It was guilt I will carry with me forever). Harry didn't look any better than I felt. I watched him as he told everyone what he had witnessed.
Did I hear him right? Snape killed Dumbledore? Harry saw the whole thing? Every fiber of my being was screaming at me to go to him. But circumstance just wouldn't let that happen. Now Harry was bombarded by questions from every direction. What really hurt me was that regardless of what he told them, it was if no one would believe him. He had been right about everything and even the other members of the Trio had dismissed his suspicions (Harry I will never doubt you again. You could tell me the sky was green and I would believe you). I tried to pull some of the attention away from Harry by joining in on Ron's testimony regarding the Room of Requirement.
Everyone seemed to be blaming themselves for what had happened. Were they doing it because they felt they needed to be blamed or because they were trying to keep Harry from blaming himself? Truth be told, we were all to blame. Harry had his suspicions from the beginning and we kept pushing them away like he was being silly. We were all wrong and deserved any and all the guilt we felt.
My parents walked in as Lupin was finishing his side of the events. Fleur was right behind them. The look on her face spoke volumes. My mum (as well as everyone else in the room) didn't see it. But that wasn't a look of horror on Fleur's face; it was a look of love and concern for her love. I could tell that to Fleur it didn't matter if Bill had a face at all. Fleur cared for Bill (not what he looks like). I had learned this lesson in my short time with Harry, "Confidence of the heart solidifies between yearning souls" (Thank you Professor). Now I fully understood. Bill and Fleur would stand together through anything (I would be proud to have you as a member of my family Fleur). It took Fleur yelling at my mum for her to understand. I started wondering what dad would say when I finally told him about Harry and I ("Did you say, dating my who?" Hee hee!). I caught myself smiling as Fleur and my mum were hugging. They were going to be fine.
I was snapped out of my whole "breaking the news to dad" fantasy by yet another set of events going on around me. Did I hear right? Did Tonks say she loves Lupin? Wow, out of tragedy comes hope. Lupin didn't want to talk about it but I'm sure that Tonks wasn't going to let Lupin go too long without talking about it. Lupin and Tonks deserve some happiness in their lives. I can't help but love them too.
Hagrid walked in just at that moment to inform us that he had moved Dumbledore's body. Professor MacGonagall was speaking to Harry and before I could say anything to him he was leaving with MacGonagall for a private meeting. I wanted desperately to stand at his side. But my parents still didn't know about us and I was sure that now wasn't the time (Harry, be strong. I'll be right here waiting for you. I'm not going anywhere).
Chapter 16: Stupid Nobility
Over the next few days things at the school were unruly. Harry managed to convince the heads of the four houses to keep the school open long enough for the student body to say it's goodbyes to Dumbledore. That didn't stop the parents from pulling their children from the school. Hogwart's was emptying at an incredible rate. Hallways seemed more deserted and the Great Hall looked even bigger than usual with less than half the student body in attendance.
The Trio plus I were spending every second together. Harry was putting up a decent front but I knew that inside he was hurting. Sometimes it kills me when he won't open up to me about things. But I knew I couldn't push him. I realized that right then. He has to open up on his own (I'm here for you Harry. I know in my heart you know that). I could tell there was something he wanted to say to me. But he seemed afraid to (Haven't you figured it out? You can say anything to me).
The day of the funeral found everyone in school packed and ready to go. Hogwart's was being emptied as soon as the funeral was over. The four of us were sitting in the Great Hall with the rest of what was left of the student body. Harry was right next to me, but I could sense he was a million miles away. I felt the guilt radiating off him in the same way that the anger did the night of the sorting ceremony. Nothing I did that day could snap him out of it. I had to tap him in the ribs to get him to start moving. My inner thoughts started to get to me again. Harry looked as if he was considering a decision in his mind. The way I saw it, if he wasn't talking to me about it then it had to be about me or with us as a couple (my heart ached as I hoped that wasn't the case).
The ceremony was very sad (it was a funeral after all). The Merpeople were singing tribute, similar to the song Dumbledore's phoenix sang the night of Dumbledore's death. The phoenix disappeared that night. I'm sure it will never be seen again. The cold reality of Dumbledore being gone hit me at last when Hagrid was seen carrying the body. I couldn't contain my grief. He meant so much to the school, to his students, to Harry, even to me.
As a small man in black performed what seemed like a eulogy (I was crying so hard that I couldn't hear), Harry was a million miles away again, thinking. What was going on inside of him? Didn't he know I was there for him? That Ron and Hermione were there for him as well? That we would be there for him, standing by his side, regardless of the circumstance. That we wouldn't let anyone hurt him, even Voldemort, even if we had to give up our lives to protect him…. Then it all hit me right then. I stopped crying instantly. The cold reality struck me in the face. Harry was thinking of all the people in his past who had said exactly the same thing that I was saying right then. That they would protect him with their lives if necessary.
James Potter, Lily Potter, Sirius Black, and Albus Dumbledore. They all loved him, they all stood by him, and they all died to protect him. He was coming to a decision and I knew it was one I wouldn't like but could understand. I held his eyes in my own and braced myself for what was to come.
"Ginny, I can't be involved with you anymore. We've got to stop seeing each other We can't be together" he said (Please, no).
"It's for some stupid, noble reason isn't it?" I replied (You are just trying to keep me safe, my protector, my hero, my champion, my heart).
"I've got things to do alone now" he said (You're going after Voldemort…would anything I say right now stop you. No, I know your character. Nothing can stop you once you set your mind to it).
I wouldn't cry, I wouldn't breathe, and I wouldn't look away. I refused to. Those sad green eyes were for me and I just couldn't give them up. Not without saying something.
"Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He's already used you as bait once (But you protected me then, why not now?), and that was because you're my best friend's sister. Think how much danger you'll be in if we keep this up. He'll know, he'll find out. He'll try and get me through you"
I tried to use the argument that Tonks used on Lupin when he said that being a werewolf was the reason they couldn't be together. "What if I don't care?"
His answer was as simple as it was final, "I care, how do you think I'd feel if this were your funeral and it was my fault?" (Harry a day will come when you will realize that not all things are within your control. Yes people have died to protect you, but it wasn't your fault!).
I couldn't look him in the eyes anymore; I broke our gaze and looked out over the lake. I had to, my heart was breaking.
I had to say something, so I said what was in my heart. "I never gave up on you" I told him about Hermione's advice about dating other guys until we could become comfortable around one another. He apologized again for not saying anything sooner (Shhh, no apologizes. I was just as guilty for not seizing time. Remember the butter tray, my stuttering, my not talking at all?).
I gave a half laugh, "but you've been too busy saving the Wizarding world" (including me, your ex-girlfriend). "I can't say that I'm surprised (I lied). I knew that this would happen in the end (not that I want it to). I knew you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort (not happy Harry just dedicated). Maybe that's why I like you so much (like?)"
Harry's eyes wavered. He simply stood up and walked away from me. He didn't turn around. All I could do was sit there and watch as Harry and a huge part of my heart walked out of my life.
Epilogue: The Empty Heart
According to my dad, Harry had been escorted by members of the Order of the Phoenix via portkey back to Privet Drive. Ron and Hermione floo'd back to the burrow. I was to floo as well but I asked my parents if I could ride the Hogwart's express back. They knew there was a good possibility that Hogwart's would not open again next year and they must have thought I wanted to spend a few more hours with friends. I really just wanted to be alone for awhile. They promised they would be at the station when I arrived.
The weather went sour as soon as the train started for home. The rain was coming down similar to the night the dementors boarded the train in my second year. But I didn't care about the weather. As I made my way to an empty compartment, I couldn't help but notice how devoid of life the train seemed. It was as if Hogwart's wasn't a credible school and no one was attending anymore.
I was finally settled and staring out of the window when a noise caught my attention. It was Dean; he was standing outside my compartment. He made a move to open the door and join me. But I'm sure the look in my eyes was enough for him to get the message, "You are not welcome here, no one is, leave me be" He gave a slight nod and walked away, leaving me to my thoughts.
My thoughts, ha, like I was thinking about anything else. I thought about Harry and my tears came again. It was a new feeling for me, knowing someone cares for you, you care for them, but you break up for what seems a necessary evil. I kept replaying our last conversation together, thinking I could have handled it better. That maybe I could have said something more, something better than I did.
I thumped my head against the window in frustration as I repeated, in my mind, the last thing I said to him, "Maybe that's why I like you so much"
Why did I say "Maybe"? There was no "maybe" about it. I should have said, "I know that why I like you so much"
No, that wasn't right either.
I don't "like" Harry.
I have never "liked" Harry.
I never will "like" Harry".
I "LOVE" Harry. I have loved Harry from the first time I wished him luck before he boarded the train for Hogwart's all those years ago. I should have said, "I know that's why I love you so much"
It was a moment in time I may never get back. But at the same time I realized why I said it the way I did. If I told him right there and then that I loved him the decision to do his duty would have crumbled and he wouldn't have been able to go through with it, and unfortunately none of us would ever be safe if that happened.
I felt as if I was no longer a whole person (Are you feeling the same way Harry?), my heart feels as empty as Hogwart's is right now. My relationship with Harry wasn't just another boyfriend/girlfriend thing. As far as I am concerned, I never gave up on him and I wouldn't now either. I know in my mind and in my heart I will never again feel that level of happiness or completeness with anyone else. I'd be fooling myself if I tried to duplicate that with someone like Dean or Michael Corner. So for the sake of Harry and me I will be strong and faithful.
So here I am today. Part of me hoping I have an outside chance at letting Harry know how I truly feel. Bill and Fleur's wedding is coming soon and I know in my heart that Harry will be there. I'm planning on confronting Ron and Hermione about everything they are keeping from me (I did warn them that I would), and then I'm planning to corner Harry and let him know how breaking up with me was foolish because I'm in no more danger now than I was before as his girlfriend (I have battled enough Death Eaters to make their top ten list and I'm sure Draco and Snape have told Voldemort everything about us. Besides, I'm a Weasley and we will always be targets). I have never felt safer than when Harry and I are by each other's sides, but most of all, I can't let him face the future alone without at least letting him know what he truly means to me.
To a lot of people, Harry is "The-boy-who-lived" to me he will always be "The-boy-who-I-love"
TO BE CONTINUED IN BOOK 7