Chapter Fifteen: Revelation
Nothing. That's what Ginny felt. Absolute nothingness. The spark between her and Harry had faded, and gone out…only now, she knew it.
As Harry moved his lips against hers inexpertly, but eagerly, she couldn't help but think that Draco had been right.
She didn't feel the same way about Harry as she used to.
All those years she had idolized him, from seeing him at King's Cross for the first time, then until she first went out with Michael Corner. Once she started dating Michael, it seemed so childish to her, that obsession she'd had for the Boy Who Lived…simply because he was who he was. And after Michael, when she'd been with Dean, the old fixation was more like a distant memory.
Then last year, when Harry had finally taken an interest in her, it all came flooding back, albeit in a different way. Wasn't it what she always wanted, to be with Harry Potter? With someone who had so heroically fought for her in the Chamber of Secrets? And who had done many other such valiant things in his years at Hogwarts?
Though as Ginny thought of it, she realized Harry wasn't the only person who had saved her life. Not anymore. That wasn't what changed things between this year and the last, no. This change was about two people who did love each other, but the timing was terribly off, and there was something missing. She wasn't even sure what was missing, but there was this strong feeling she had that it was something important.
Currently, however, Harry deepened their kiss, and she reflexively pushed his chest away, her hands shaking slightly. It didn't matter what was missing, she realized, but that it was. She barely knew how to phrase it in her own mind, just understood it innately.
"Thanks," Harry laughed, slightly out of breath. "Almost forgot to breathe there."
Ginny's gaze was distant over Harry's shoulder. She wondered if he'd even noticed her unresponsiveness before, while she'd been mulling over all these things.
Obviously not, as was proven to her when Harry smilingly wrapped his arms around her small frame once again, and got ready for another snog.
It was an alien feeling—around Harry, at least—as repulsion permeated every fiber of Ginny's being. And now Harry, for the first time, realized something was wrong with her.
"What's the matter?" He slurred his words, and Ginny felt herself growing annoyed, not only with him, but with her own mind at the moment. There was an internal battle going on, between the logical nature of her thoughts now, and all those wishes from her infatuated past.
What was the matter, anyway? Hadn't she yearned for this moment, reunited with Harry, for months upon end? And now that she'd finally gotten here, with a perfectly willing, handsome-as-a-shiny-new-Christmas-present, loving Harry Potter under the mistletoe—well, wasn't this the sort of thing she'd dreamed of as early as first year? Maybe she had fantasized something similar to this even before then.
The answer was yes. Of course, yes. Yes, yes, yes! The voice in the back of Ginny's head, which had been holding on desperately to the thought of her and Harry's reunion, nearly screamed at her.
But, in truth, Ginny didn't know what exactly she wanted. But she was beginning to understand what she no longer wanted.
"Ginny?" Harry was still waiting for her to reply.
She tried to say something to him, but none of it made any sense at all. She certainly couldn't mention Draco's words of caution to her, about him. Hell, if Harry had any inkling that she and Draco were friends, he'd go to Hogwarts and punch the seemingly-reformed Slytherin's lights out. But no one could know that. Not even her parents knew Draco had returned to Hogwarts, much less that he had saved her life.
Harry shrugged, seeming to take her silence as consent to keep going. After all, there wasn't anything a good snog couldn't cure, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong. Ginny stopped him short. Harry raised his eyebrows up into his unkempt hair, which was even messier than usual at the moment, as he'd awoken without trying anything on it.
"Harry," Ginny began in a soft voice, "I…I can't."
"But why not?" Harry, when frustrated, used to amuse her, but now Ginny was simply frustrated right back at him.
"It just doesn't feel…right," she explained lamely.
"What can I do to make things right?" The look in his vibrant green eyes was a determined one.
"I don't think that…no… There's nothing you can do, Harry."
"Of course I can!" He was confident of it, most likely because he deemed other events of crisis in his life much more difficult than this one. But he didn't understand. This was much more complicated than he'd bargained for, at least Ginny believed so. "The problem's between the two of us, isn't it?"
"I suppose—well, yes."
"Then let me fix it." He gripped her wrists tightly, almost desperately—clinging on to her as if for dear life.
"Harry, that hurts," Ginny told him. She'd never seen this side of him before.
He loosened his grip but still held onto her. "I need you, Ginny. Don't you get it? You ground me, because I know that whatever happens, I can always come back into your arms, and—"
"And what?" Ginny demanded incredulously. "I'll have you back, just like that?"
Harry nodded in assent, but it seemed he did so with reservations.
"No, Harry, that's not how it works."
"But I can't live without you—"
Ginny snorted. "Please. You've been fine all this time without me. You can live without me."
"Don't you want to be with me? I don't understand it. I mean, if you've waited this long for me, then—"
"—it was foolishly done!" Ginny yelled. "I'm not going to wait for you anymore!"
"But I'm here now! You don't have to wait."
"I don't mean waiting for you to come back. I was waiting for you to come to your senses…but now I see that neither you nor I can make sense of this, because it's not supposed to make sense. The timing, it's all messed up, and you aren't thinking clearly—and you, of all people need a clear head if you're going to accomplish all this Horcrux stuff you finally told me about.
"But more importantly," she continued, "back in June, you told me you needed to be alone. At the wedding, you had some sort of relapse and were with me briefly. I let you, so I blame myself. And now you're trying it again, and I'm not falling for it this time."
Harry let go of her completely and stood back against the wooden doorway, as if struck by the blow of Ginny's words. "I didn't realize you…I mean…can't we talk about it? Can't we fix this?"
"It's too late as it is, Harry." Ginny turned on her heel and made her way up the stairs. Harry trailed behind her curiously.
"Ginny, what are you doing?" he asked, obvious confusion written over his features. Ginny didn't answer him, only continuing with haste up to her room.
When she burst through the unlocked door, she found Hermione wasn't in bed any longer. Ginny guessed with half-amusement that her friend was sharing an early morning snog with Ron. She also hoped Ron had brushed his teeth…it figured snogging was the only thing that would wake her brother up at such an ungodly hour. She rolled her eyes in disgust. Was it all anyone cared about anymore? Well, she knew of at least one young man who had other things on his mind, if her suspicions were to be confirmed. And she would see him soon enough.
She proceeded to the chest of drawers in the corner, pulling out the clothes she'd only placed in it yesterday. With a swift movement, Ginny lifted her half-unpacked trunk from under her unmade bed, stuffing everything in sight into it.
Harry gasped in recognition as Ginny moved on to haphazardly throwing her various pairs of shoes on top of her potions textbook inside the trunk.
"You're leaving?" he said in disbelief.
"Yes," Ginny answered him, her voice brisk and business-like. "I've had quite enough trouble for one holiday, I'm afraid."
She snapped her lighter-than-normal suitcase shut, and then she finally turned back to Harry.
"Tell Ron and Hermione I'm sorry. Tell everyone I'm sorry. But don't expect me to come back. Not while you're here. It's for your own good, you can look at it that way. You need to focus, Harry Potter. Wake up, smell the coffee, and get cracking. Owl me whenever you decide you're ready to be friends, because that's all you can give anyone right now, if that."
She knew it was harsh, even unnecessarily so. But it was how she felt, and it was the honest-to-Merlin truth. It was best for her to leave immediately. Otherwise, her mother or someone else would force or guilt her into staying, and that would simply not do.
So without any further word or hesitation, Ginny descended down the stairs, through the living room, and to the fireplace. She grabbed an extra-large handful of Floo Powder and had just stepped onto the ashen hearth, when a voice from the stairs traveled down to her.
Her mother's shrill voice met her ears painfully: "Ginevra Weasley, what on earth do you think you're doing?"
The words came too late. With a cry of "Hogsmeade Village!" and a flash of brilliant green fire, Ginny was gone.
Careful not to bare her teeth, Ginny smiled slightly through the dense fog of ash and debris. She felt alive, as if she'd had an awakening…a revelation.
Mum and Dad-
I'm sure you'll figure out why I left soon enough. I'm sorry to have cut my time with you—and everyone else—so short. I have left my presents for everyone under the tree. Don't bother sending mine after me-I know Errol's not up to the job, and I'm not sure you'll think I deserve the courtesy. Merry Christmas.
Ginny read over her letter one more time before paying three Knuts to the wizard behind the counter at the Hogsmeade post office. She had debated whether or not she should list everyone she wanted her regards passed to, but then decided including absolutely everyone except for Harry would have been terribly mean-spirited of her. Her heart ached at the regret of not hugging her family one last time before leaving.
What was done was done. She'd simply have to live with her rash decision.
Figuring it best not to linger in the village, as her family might try to follow her, Ginny headed straight for the Hogwarts gates.
Thankfully, Hagrid happened to be walking past the entrance when she arrived, and he let her inside the grounds after receiving her harried explanation of why she'd returned so soon.
Once inside, the cheery Christmas atmosphere of the castle put a small smile on Ginny's face, as well as gave hope to her heart, that her holiday might yet be saved.
After all, she had at least one friend she knew would be there to greet her, even if this was so unexpected.
Draco sighed in a wistful way as he gazed down at a group of first-years from a library window. The eleven-year-olds frolicked in the new-fallen snow, carefree and innocent.
To be young and naïve again, Draco mused. He paused in his thoughts, and then smirked. Not that I was ever the latter. Well, that was what he liked to think.
He felt as if everything in his life, up until he became a Death Eater, had been lived by another person. Like he had always lived with the burden of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named on his shoulders, and all the horrors that could, any day, become true. Who knew how long it would be before the Dark Lord decided to track him down? Not that he was at all important to the cause, of course.
Some had it worse… Dare he think it, Potter might have it worst of all. Potter…
Ginny Weasley was probably with the 'Chosen One' right now, playing a game of chess, or joining him in an early-morning broomstick flight.
Or eating breakfast with him.
Or sharing a mug of eggnog near a fireplace with him.
Or snogging him under the mistletoe…
Draco let out his most exasperated grunt, earning a beady-eyed glare from Madam Pince as he passed her between book cases. Did she literally live in the library? He sighed, turning his attention back to his previous thoughts.
Actually, Potter had it pretty good, right about now, didn't he?
Oh, what did he care what Ginny was doing with Potter? It was really none of his business, after all, whom she snogged and didn't snog, even though he was now her friend.
But friends of the opposite persuasion shared that type of information, typically. The exception to that rule would, naturally, be Pansy's relation of her various escapades to him only a few days ago.
Except there was this gnawing feeling that had developed in Draco's gut, that he should pummel whomever laid a hand on his new friend. He shook himself to clear his mind of such a thought. It would not do to think of things he had no business mulling over, especially since there was no logical reason he should do any of the things he was thinking…oh, blast it all! Why was everything so bloody confusing? He hadn't even spoken to anyone today, and was just toying with his own mind to pass the time.
Perhaps it was that he was over-thinking so much, it was making his head spin. The fact of the matter was, he would be quite without Ginny for the next fortnight, and he'd simply have to live with that.
It would be a lonely two weeks.
Even though he and Ginny only really saw each other during Potions class and their relatively clandestine meetings in the library, it felt as if they hadn't been apart for quite some time. Just knowing he wouldn't run into her in the corridors for the next several days was enough to depress him, while logically it shouldn't have soured his mood one bit.
Draco would never, even at the point of torture, admit that he and Ginny were growing closer with every moment that passed between them. It wasn't an obsession, or anything of the like. It simply felt natural to be around her, now.
But the voice in the back of Draco's mind was quick to point out that such growth would never exceed friendship. This notion was hard to hold onto, however, during the hours in which his subconscious invaded him with dreams of forbidden ecstasy. Bloody delusions…they meant nothing; he highly doubted that these desires from his dreams were indicative of the ones in his conscious life. After all, he ruled his own life, and these feelings most definitely did not exist on his end. Right. Exactly.
Having had quite enough of the musty old library, Draco exited it—and in turn escaped Madam Pince's commanding air, which rang of bitterness toward the holiday season—and headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast. He'd awoken early, before the house-elves had even prepared the morning meal.
The trek down to the entrance hall seemed to take longer than usual. Lonely indeed, he harrumphed to himself.
Draco was just reaching the bottom-most step of the marble staircase when he caught sight of a flash of red at the corner of his eye. It couldn't be! Not—
But it was. He found it took some restraint for him to merely saunter—though quickly—towards her, fighting the urge to run.
"Ginny!" he called, but softly—so she'd be the only one to hear it, rather than the better half of the left-behind holiday crowd in the Great Hall
The chocolate-eyed witch spun around, her dark green winter coat fanning out as she did. She smiled widely, and he returned it with a lopsided smirk of his own.
"Happy Christmas, Draco."
A/N: Got to love some more Christmas in July! Well, whichever way you spin it, it was fun to rewrite this chapter and add more character development from its original version. Review if you've gotten this far, I'd like to know what you think, whether it's praise or constructive criticism! With love, suckr4romance