Love Is Like A Rose
By liquid lily
Chapter 1: From Time Immemorial
Ginny touched the bump on the back of her head tenderly, wincing when her fingers came in contact with it. She had fallen down the front porch stairs again this morning, for the third time that month. You'd think after living there for more than four years she'd have learned how to navigate six plain concrete stairs, but apparently it was beyond her ability.
She needed to remember to pick up something for the headache that was already growing after class was over. To make matters worse Sam, her flatmate, who was sitting two rows ahead of her, was grinning knowingly. To retaliate, Ginny stuck her tongue out, and let her hand drop back to the desk; she would get her revenge later.
Trying to will herself to concentrate on something else, she looked down at her notes, and doodled a flower in the margin. There was only ten minutes left of class, and she didn't have more than four sentences of notes, so there was no reason to start paying attention now. It was the only the beginning of the term, so she had plenty of time to catch up, and after all she could hardly be expected to pay attention with a lump the size of a quaffle growing on the back of her head. Maybe, if she had any skill with healing spells, it wouldn't be such a problem. Unfortunately the best wound she could hope to fix with her wand was a paper cut, of which she had already had three today. Really, she needed to start being more careful, before she wound up in St. Mungo's.
The class was getting restless, the low murmur growing in volume. There were papers being passed back, and the teacher looked like she was wrapping the lecture up and packing up her notes. Ginny reached for the stack of papers when it came to her, took on and passed the rest back, then she groaned aloud. It was another assignment for an essay, due in two days time. So much for her social life.
Deciding to worry about it later, she stuffed the paper in her notebook and shoved the books in her bag so she could catch Sam in the hallway. He was waiting for her, tapping his foot impatiently, and gesturing to the clock.
"What's the hurry?" She asked, when she was still several feet away. The stream of people filing out of the classroom door was making it difficult to move much faster than a half step at a time.
"I gotta be at work in like fifteen minutes," Sam replied, craning his head over those of the other students. "Walk with me?"
"Sure," she said, breaking through the door and starting down the stairs as briskly as possible.
Most of her classes were held in a narrow tower, which made coming and going near impossible. You had to walk single file, which made it difficult for people going up and people going down. Mostly, classes were arranged very carefully so that there was only one stream of traffic going. All you had to do was make sure you were on time to class, which for Ginny, was asking a little much. On more than one occasion she had been left standing at the bottom of the tower for twenty minutes, waiting for a chance to make it up the stairs.
"Fall down the steps again?" Sam asked, noticing her fingering the bump again.
"Is it that noticeable?" Ginny responded, then thanked him for holding open the door as they passed out of the tower into the warm summer day.
Sam wrinkled his nose and tried to suppress a smile. "Only a little bump, you'll survive."
"So, how late are you working?" She asked, navigating her way through the throng of students that covered the ground.
"Six I think, but I'll probably stick around," he said. "You coming by later tonight?"
"Nah, I'm working at the club," she responded.
Graduating from Hogwarts hadn't done much to alter her poverty. Though she found herself slightly better off than she had ever been living under her parent's roof, Ginny still had to work two jobs to pay for her post-Hogwarts life. One job, her favorite, was working at her best friend's mother's café. Sam worked there, as well as the majority of their circle of friends, so it was always a blast. Her other job was the one she had received when she first moved away from home, and the one her brothers would most certainly disapprove of if they knew about it. She bartended at a local club, and though it wasn't her preferred career, she made damn good money doing it.
"Maybe we'll stop by for drinks," Sam said, ducking out the gate and onto the street.
"Oh, bugger," Ginny cursed, as she reached for her book bag. "I think I left my textbook back in the classroom.
Sam gave her a pitying look, but slowed down so that she could look. "Sucks to be you today, babe," he said by means of consolation.
Ginny glared at him. He wasn't cheering her up at all. She flipped her bag around her side and dug through it, no textbook. She thought it had felt lighter than usual.
"Looks like I have to double back," she said, running a hand over her head again, and flinching when she reached the bump.
Covering up a snicker, Sam amended himself by nodding seriously. "Good luck with the stairs, I'm going to head off then, I'll see you back at the flat later tonight."
"Yeah, sure, bye," she told him absently, already turning around to head back to the tower. Today really wasn't going her way.
Most of the time, she loved her life, she only wished she wasn't so… clumsy, forgetful, late, absentminded… The list really went on and on.
After graduating Hogwarts, Ginny had puttered around the Burrow like her brothers, but before even the summer had ended, an opportunity had presented itself. By August, she had packed up her life, said goodbye to her family and moved to Oxford to attend university. Most witches and wizards ended their education after they reached 17, but there will still universities in the magical world, they were just much less popular than they were in the muggle world. One of the biggest in the world was Oxford University, located right in Oxford, England. Of course, it was also one of the biggest muggle Universities in the world as well, which presented a bit of a problem.
The magical Oxford University was located on the muggle campuses right with the muggle's classes. There was a magical area located on every campus, hidden away behind a trick wall, or a supposedly empty tower, or in one case, under the River Thames itself. It meant that most students who chose to attend the university spent a great deal of time in the muggle world, and while most disagreed with the arrangement, Ginny loved it.
She had lived in the magical world her entire life, and at first thought that adapting would be near impossible, but she had taken to it quicker than she had believed possible. Within six months, she had met Sam, moved into a flat with him just off High Street, gotten her first job at a muggle club, and established herself a group of friends wonderful enough to rival those she had had at Hogwarts.
As far as she was concerned, life was perfect. She loved her classes, and seeing as how it was now coming on her fourth year at Oxford, she had opted to take summer classes as well. She worked two jobs, the one at the club, the other at the café. She lived with her absolute best friend, and any free time she had she spent among her other friends.
Things certainly had changed. In the true Oxford fashion, she lived almost nearly muggle now, though she still carried her wand everywhere she went. She was only a year away from receiving her degree in General Studies with an emphasis on Business Management (dull, but highly useful, believe it or not). The only thing that bothered her was that she had less time for her family than ever. None of her brothers ever wanted to come to visit, and trips back to the Burrow had become less and less frequent as the years had passed.
Somehow she was always just too busy to make time to visit her parents, or any of her old friends. There was homework, class, and her new friends, both of her jobs, errands, shopping… if it wasn't one thing it was another.
Still, she was pleased with her life, and her mum wrote on a monthly basis, and there was always the holidays.
Right now, however, she was not pleased. She had woken up late this morning, fallen down the stairs, had to walk to class since she had forgotten her bike at the café, arrived late and had to wait for the stairs to empty, and now since she had forgotten her book, she had to wait at the bottom of the tower again. It was becoming increasingly annoying. Things might have been better if she had a nice relaxing afternoon planned, but instead she was going to have to skip lunch to run to the back and pay some bills, then she needed to rush home to take a quick shower before her shift and the club, and the rest of her night would be spent sloshing alcohol down a bunch of drunk teenagers throats while ear splitting music rattled her bones.
It didn't help, but Ginny glared at the students as they shuffled down the stairs like her situation was their fault. There seemed to be an endless stream of them, how many people did this tower hold anyways? All she needed to do was dash up and grab her book.
Thirty minutes later, Ginny had finally succeeded in rescuing her text from the middle of a crowded classroom, and was now taking her anger out on the pavement. The stomping didn't do much but jar her already pounding head, but it eased away some of the anger. Now, she would be lucky to make it to the bank at all, and if she didn't pay her bills for rent, her landlord would charge her extra. Extra, was something she could definitely not afford. Even though she had a slight scholarship to Oxford and worked two jobs, she was as poor as ever.
Thinking along that line, and hoping she hadn't left her bankcard back at the flat, she cursed and swung her bag back in front of her as she walked. She should have known that she wasn't good at multitasking while walking, but she riffled through her bag anyways, looking for her wallet, and trying to remember where she had left it last. Which is why, when she tripped on crack in the sidewalk, she wasn't surprised to find herself falling face forward for the second time that day.
What she hadn't expected was to find her flight interrupted by a set of muscular arms.
"You okay?" A man's voice said, as she was picked up and placed firmly back on the ground.
Ginny's vision wavered for a second; she was feeling slightly dizzy. "Thanks, I just… tripped,"
She recognized her name, and her head snapped up to examine the man who had saved her from another spill, then her focus broke back into place. "Harry?" Was her voice always that high?
The boy, now man, she hadn't seen since Hogwarts was standing right in front of her, still holding onto her arm to keep her straight, mirroring her look of disbelief.
"What on earth are you doing here?" She managed, reclaiming her arm and placing it on her hip instead. Somehow, she rather suspected there was a big silly grin on her face.
"Me, what are you doing here?" A look of realization then embarrassment dawned on his face. "Oh, right, you're Mum told me…"
"That I was taking classes here?" She finished, smiling at the blush that crept over his face.
"Uh, yeah, sorry I forgot," he said, grinning apologetically. Then he stood back and gave her a sweeping appraisal that made her blush. "You're looking really good, Ginny. I don't think I've seen you since…"
"Bill's wedding," Ginny finished, taking the opportunity to examine him as well. He looked older, but good, a bit taller than he had been before, more filled out, more muscular. He didn't look like a scrawny underfed boy anymore, and he stood a lot straighter than she remembered. Then again, he had a lot more to be proud about these days. She had seen his picture in magazines or the newspaper over the years, but moving photos hadn't done him justice. He looked much better in person. "You are looking very good yourself."
"Bill's wedding," Harry repeated, sounding amazed. "Has it really been that long? That was years ago?"
"I know," she added dryly. Actually it hadn't been that long, she had seen him about three years ago after he had returned home from his search for horacrux's with Ron and Hermione. However she had remained up in her bedroom, and only seen him from the top of the stairs, choosing instead to hide away. The hurt of him leaving, and breaking up with her had still be fresh in her mind. Then after that, all of their visits to the Burrow for holidays had never overlapped. She was always gone by the time he came or vise versa.
"So, what are you doing in town?" She asked to take her mind of the past. "I heard you're an Auror these days."
"Yeah," he said, running a sheepish hand through his hair. Ginny couldn't resist a little smile at that. It was so Harry and she hadn't realized how much she had liked the gesture. "I'm in town for work actually. I've got some lectures, and a few meetings and such for the Ministry."
"That's great," she said, and immediately she wondered how long he was in town for, though she wasn't sure it was appropriate to ask. He really did look good, and it had been so long since they had seen one another… would it be too forward to see if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee or something? To stall those types of thoughts, she smiled again. "How's the Ministry?" She asked then mentally cringed, how's the ministry? What kind of question was that? She could have asked about Hermione or her brother, or something else, but the Ministry?
A weird twitch crossed his face. "Uh, the Ministry is fine, it says hello by the way."
She shared a laugh at her expense. "Sorry, I've got a lot on my mind, my day has been absolute…" wincing she remembered why she had been rushing down the street, falling into strangers (or surprisingly not strangers) arms. "Bugger, I forgot, I'm late for an appointment at the bank," she held her wrist up to get a look at her watch and moaned. She was already an hour off schedule thanks to this run in and her forgetfulness. "Listen, Harry, I've got to go, or my whole day is going to be off schedule."
"Oh," he said, looking a little disappointed. Ginny couldn't help smiling at that, did he want to talk to her more? "Well, I'm in town for a few more days…" She stood a little straighter, waiting for him to ask it. "And we haven't seen each other in a long time…" Her mouth twitched, he sure was taking a long time with it. "And I would really like to catch up…" Almost there, Harry, Ginny thought, mentally cheering him on, now all he had to do was finish. "Would you like to meet me for lunch tomorrow?"
Her mouth was already ready to agree, before her brain caught up with her racing heart. "Blast it, I can't, I have work until six tomorrow."
"Dinner?" He said, jumping at the idea, looking about as anxious as Ginny felt. His hair was falling into his eyes again, and he looked good in that t-shirt, but they were old friends weren't they… but old friends with history, that had to count for something right? "I mean, if you're busy," he said, his hand ran through his hair again, brushing the hair out of his eyes. "Then maybe you could do dinner, if you don't have plans already," he added, eyes widening.
"No," she said, and then blinked. "I mean, no I don't have plans, not I don't want to go to dinner. Oh, screw it Harry, how about you just meet me tomorrow night at the Kings Garden it's just up that way, the porter at the gate can tell you how to get there."
He glanced up the street, and frowned, but nodded nonetheless. "Er—yeah, I can probably find my way there."
"I'll send you an owl with directions," she said, feeling bad for not having the time to explain now. "But, listen, I've really got to go, I'm already ages late."
"Right, right," he said stepping out of the way and back up against the building. "I'll just see you tomorrow then."
"Sure," she said, trying not to blush, and adjusting her bag on her shoulder. "Tomorrow."
Then, before she had a chance to find a reason to stick around she took off down the street and headed for the bank. She didn't know whether to crawl into a dark alley, or if she was elated enough to simply float through the rest of the day. Had she really just run into Harry Potter of all people? Her ex-boyfriend from her Hogwarts days, her brother's best friend, his mother's practically adopted son, her longest running crush ever?
On the one hand, he had broken up with her, and had reinforced that sentiment through the entire summer after her fifth year, he hadn't made any effort to contact her since, even though he spent a great deal of time with her parents and all of her brothers. She knew because her mum wrote a report on Harry's going-ons every couple of months, and she knew he stopped by the Burrow for visits more than her. Then again, she had loved Harry since she was old enough to know his name, and he had been looking very, very good. Not to mention that he had seemed just as flustered by their interaction as she had, and had given her that hungry look she remembered him having back at Hogwarts. Still, they were just meeting under the pretence of friends… right?