Dean Thomas was having a pretty decent day–or as decent a day as one can have on a Friday the thirteenth. A Friday the thirteenth of February no less–the ugliest month of the year, on the day before Valentine's day, and he didn't have a girlfriend. He'd burnt his tongue trying to finish his coffee before heading off to work, and today had been a slow day at Ezekiel's Ink, but all told, he couldn't really complain.
Until about half past noon, that is, when the flaky girl who worked at the reception desk pulled back the partition to his "office" and informed him that his twelve-thirty appointment was all set.
"I don't have a twelve-thirty appointment," he told her, not looking up from the zipper he was sketching on a piece of tracing paper.
"Yes–you remember, with the man, I told you–he came in yesterday?"
He looked up. "Veronica I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh. Maybe I forgot to tell you–a man came in yesterday and made–"
"An appointment for twelve-thirty?"
"Yes," she said, beaming, "So you do remember."
He rolled his eyes. "Can you ask him if he can possibly–"
Dean's mood index rapidly dropped several notches as the voice of his boss rang out from the back room. Bloody bint was always eavesdropping!
"Thomas, I hope you're not asking a customer to reschedule an appointment without any notice."
Her voice was sweet and calm and obnoxious, it reminded him of Umbridge.
"No, I'm not," he said, not bothering to better disguise the fact that he certainly had been about to do just that. He glared at Veronica, who giggled rather knowingly at the look on his face. He got up and followed her out to the waiting area, where he was somewhat pleasantly surprised to find a familiar face.
"Yes, see–here it is," said Veronica, picking up something from the front desk and bustling over, "I wrote it down: Harry Potter, 12:30pm"
Dean sighed. "Veronica, what made you think I was going to walk in this morning and go through all the memos on your desk?" He glanced at the note, then he did a double take at the line beneath it. "He wants a what?"
"A dragon," said Harry, looking only slightly uncomfortable, "on my chest."
A muscle twitched in Dean's jaw, and a very detached part of him wanted to laugh at the situation he was now in. He hadn't even really spoken to Harry since the stiff truce they'd made about a week and a half after he and Ginny had their little post-game snog-fest in the middle of the common room almost two years ago, and now here he was–the arsehole–asking him to tattoo a bloody dragon on his chest. A less detached part of him recoiled instantly.
"Well, I'm sorry, but I haven't done any sketches–I didn't know you'd be coming. The memo system in this place isn't exactly failsafe." He glanced at Veronica, who turned and went to sit down at her desk, looking abashed but unruffled.
"Oh well–I was actually hoping you could just draw that Horntail again–you know, the one you did on the back of my transfiguration textbook in fourth year?"
"You know I don't really remem–"
The back room door opened and his boss passed by, examining a manila file, "Are you prepared for your appointment Thomas?" she asked lightly, crossing towards the file cabinet behind Veronica's desk without looking at him.
The slight grimace on his face slackened into a deadened, blank look, save for an eye which was twitching ever so slightly as he said loudly, "Yes I am." He gave Harry a rather resentful look and muttered curtly, "Follow me."
"So you want a Horntail?" he said, showing Harry into his "office" and opening his tool drawer with a flick of his wand, "Just a Horntail–sure you don't want it to be shielding a naked woman or wrestling an Amazon or something?"
"Nope, just a Horntail," said Harry evenly, taking a seat on the table.
They lapsed into silence as Dean began sketching furiously.
"So you're obviously still going out with Ginny then?" he said, after several minutes, as he began doing the scaly details.
"Oh," said Harry, somewhat surprised. "Yeah, sort of."
Dean glanced up with a puzzled smirk, "What do you mean 'sort of'?"
Harry shrugged. "I dunno, she's in school right now."
And they lapsed back into silence, Harry having no idea that he hadn't answered the question and Dean not caring enough to play tell-me-more. When the sketch was finished he handed it to Harry to have a look. "How's that?"
"Brilliant," said Harry, eyes raking over it.
"All right then, take off your shirt."
A small part of Dean had to admit–it was quite satisfying, digging a trench in Harry Potter's skin with a needle. He hadn't really had a serious relationship since Ginny Weasley, and though he was definitely over her, some little irks never go away, and it was nice to get a little payback. Harry was very brave while Dean was drawing the outline, and when he was finished Dean set down the needle. "Do you want it to move?"
"What do you mean?"
"What do you want it to do? Do you want it to reflect your emotions? Fly when you're drunk? Breathe fire when you're aroused?"
Harry grinned. "You can make it breathe fire when I'm aroused? Wicked."
Dean nodded, "You want to do that?" He withdrew his wand from his robes and held it like a pen as he began tracing ever so lightly over the lines. "This a Valentines Day present?" he asked.
He supposed Harry would have shrugged, but he had to keep his upper body still at the moment, and he merely said, "I dunno, not really."
"Alright," he said after several moments. "I'm going to heal it up now enough so that we can finish the shading today and you don't have to come back again,"–god knows he didn't want to do that–"but it'll be really sore for a few days."
Harry nodded, but Dean noticed that his expression was considerably more strained as he put the needle to his flesh once more. "How is Ginny?" he asked, wondering if this kind of discomfort might distract him from the pain on his chest or merely make it worse.
"She's good, I think–I mean I haven't seen her since Christmas."
At this point Dean actually grew curious. Here Harry was, getting a Hungarian Horntail tattooed across his chest, obviously for Ginny, and yet he didn't seem all that happy. Although, he reckoned, to be fair, he was being cut up thoroughly by a needle at the moment.
But by the time he was putting the finishing touches on it, Dean's conscience was definitely beginning to ache, so badly it was driving him quite mad. He knew it was none of his business, really, but he kept remembering the look on Ginny's face after they broke up and she had started dating Harry, when he asked her the big why.
She'd looked strangely calm, as she'd told him quietly, "I belong to him. I'm sorry, it's just the way it is."
Even so, it wasn't until Harry was dressed again and digging in his pockets for a tip that Dean finally managed to say something.
"Listen, Harry–I'm sorry. I treated you like a jerk, for a really stupid, childish reason, and I'm sorry."
Harry looked taken aback, but he recovered graciously enough. "Oh. No–it's no big deal, just erm–thanks for doing this for me, anyway."
"Of course. And Harry, I just want you to know that I'm happy for you... I'm happy for you, and I'm really happy for Ginny, because I know that she loves you a lot."
Now Harry really didn't know what to say. But Dean wasn't really paying attention to him, so lost was he in his own profound memories.
"Because you know, I asked her once–why she ever went out with me in the first place, and you know what she said?"
"No," said Harry, not sounding very curious.
"She said–she asked me, 'Do you know what it's like to belong to someone, Dean?' 'Someone who might not know you exist,' she said, and someone who–in any case, doesn't seem to want you at all? She said, 'It's a huge feeling, and you'd do anything to get away from it.' And I remember thinking, in that moment, that she didn't deserve to feel that way. Ever. ...So Harry, I just have to say: marry her, keep her forever, and don't ever let her go looking for someone else, she'll only break a bunch of hearts."
Harry was staring at him now, barely masking an expression of discomfort bordering on alarm. "Thanks Dean," he said awkwardly, and they shook hands.
By around noon the next day some of the redness and the swelling on his chest had gone away, but the whole area was still rather tender, as Harry knocked on the door to Tonks's flat, cursing the cold.
She swung it open, and greeted him with a bright, "Wotcher Harry! Come in, I was just making a cup of tea."
"Did you get your tattoo?" she asked him, as she led him into the kitchen.
"How was it?"
"Hellish," said Harry emphatically, slouching into a chair at the kitchen table, as Tonks took the kettle off the stove. "Hurt like an Unforgivable, and as awkward as a two-legged turtle to boot."
"How was it awkward?"
"The tattoo artist was Ginny's ex-boyfriend," he said, looking harassed by the very memory. He sighed, taking the cup she held out for him. "I suppose that's what you get for making an appointment to get something engraved into your skin on Friday the 13th."
"Mmm," said Tonks, pouring herself a cup, "you sure know how to pick 'em."
"She said 'Thomas', she didn't say Mr. Thomas–not Mr. Dean Thomas–how was I supposed to know?" He sipped his tea looking rueful. "But whatever. It looks pretty wicked."
"Alright then, let me see," said Tonks, pulling up a chair, as though Harry had just asked her to proofread an essay.
Harry unbuttoned his shirt rather gingerly. Tonks whistled rather crudely.
"Pretty manly," she said, grinning appreciatively. "She'll swoon, she will. When are you meeting her?"
"Four o'clock, at the Three Broomsticks."
"You know that place is an inn, as well as a pub," she said, eyes twinkling.
A slow grin formed on his face. "Oh I'm very well aware of that."
"You think maybe..."
The wicked expression melted somewhat, "Most likely."
"Why do you look less than happy about that?" she asked, spooning more sugar into her tea.
He ran a hand through his hair. "I don't know... it's complicated."
"Yeah," she said wisely, "and you're not used to complicated relationships."
Harry gave an appreciative if perfunctory laugh.
"No, I'm serious," she said, looking matter-of-fact. "You're life's been so volatile, especially in the past few years, you haven't been able to take anything for granted or be conflicted–you either love someone or you don't, and you've just had to live your life that way, because you've never been sure how long you're going to be around."
She took a sip, as he stared intently at his cup. "Yeah." He frowned. "I'd never really noticed that before."
Tonks shrugged, as if to say 'no problem'. "So... what's up with you two then? You're definitely together?"
Harry frowned. "I think so. I mean–" he looked up at her, "she said she loved me–that means we're together, right?"
"Yeah," she laughed, nodding encouragingly, "I'd say that's definitely a sign."
There was a long pause then, as Harry continued to look pensive, and Tonks attended to her tea.
"Everyone keeps telling me I've got her," he said at last. "That she's mine. Dean said it, her brothers say it, hell–she even said it, but... I just don't think she is."
"You don't think she loves you?"
"No–I know she loves me, I know that she loves me–deeply–from the very bottom of her heart of hearts, and all that, and I think we're soulmates or something, but... it's like–that's it, that's all it is."
"Blimey–that blows," she said, unable to contain a small smile. "You etch a dragon onto your chest and all you get in return is true love."
"I know," he said, missing the joke, "I'm an eighteen-year-old bloke–I don't care about true love. I mean–what is that? Oooh, it's a feeling. Big deal."
She snorted–she couldn't help it, and she laughed harder at the look on his face.
"I mean it," he said loudly as she leaned back in her chair. "Ginny's not just somebody to love."
Tonks froze, hands over her mouth, looking intently at him for a moment, before she lowered them, and said in amazement, "You're–you're actually right, Harry." She looked around her, "Scary, who would have thought, eh?"
"I know," he said, smiling a little. "But seriously–I know I was the one who broke it off originally but she should feel like she left me behind, because what she did is just so much cooler."
"Cooler than defeating the Dark Lord."
"Yeah–it is," he said fervently, "Joining the Order–going on missions–that's actual Auror work, that is. What did I do? I hung around the house researching things and babysitting a bloody reptile."
"By the way, you still haven't explained to me exactly what you three did, you know."
He waved a hand dismissively, "That's beside the point." He paused then, contemplating what exactly the point was. "I just–I mean, I'm glad she loves me," and here at last he saw the humor, and laughed. "I am, honestly, and I love her too, I reckon I have for a long time now, but I want to be part of her life–I want to hear about her day and meet all her friends. I want to be her friend–I want to be her..."
He trailed off, as the sound of the lock turning reached their ears, and Remus came through the door clutching a bag of groceries, "I'm home!"
"Yeah, see–I want to do that," said Harry, setting his mug down with a clunk.
"Do what?" asked Remus.
"Marry Ginny and make lots of babies," said Tonks, grinning, as she spun around in her chair and Remus bent down to kiss her. Tonks wrapped her arms around him and held him in place as the kiss lengthened, and turned into more of a snog.
"Er–right," said Harry, somewhat awkwardly. "On that note, I think I'll be heading off–oh but actually, I almost forgot what I came for. Tonks, I need to borrow your ward key for the Hogwarts grounds."
Tonks broke away and looked at him shrewdly, "What for?"
"So Ginny can get back inside after ten o'clock, I woke Hagrid up before, but I swore last time that it wouldn't happen again."
Tonks pretended to consider carefully. "Alright," she said, "Let me go grab it for you, it's in my bag."
Harry had already checked in to the room at the Three Broomsticks, and he and Ginny had barely made it through the doorway before they were snogging like there was no tomorrow, when Ginny slid her hands down from the back of his neck and over his chest, and Harry made a visceral hissing noise and winced.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing," he said, grinning, "I've got something to show you, though."
He unbuttoned his shirt for the second time that day, and Ginny gasped a gasp which quickly turned into a look of shock as she realized exactly what it was. "Oh my god..."
"Wicked, isn't it?" said Harry, grinning widely, and leading her over to sit next to him on the bed, "See how it's breathing fire? That means I'm aroused."
She snickered as she leaned in and kissed him. "Honestly Harry," she said, still laughing against his lips. "You might as well have wrote my name across your chest."
"Hey," he said, pulling away ever so slightly and adopting an indignant air. "This happens to represent Hogwarts, all right? See the words on the bottom–Draco Dormiens Numquam Titillandus–it means 'never tickle a sleeping dragon'. "
"Oh I see, so it's school spirit," said Ginny, smirking, "You got your girlfriend's patronus animal tattooed across your chest as a statement of loyalty to Hogwarts–that makes sense."
Harry's eyes widened. "Is your patronus a dragon?"
Ginny laughed. "Nice try, Harry. It's alright–it's sweet. Crude, but sweet."
"I'm serious Ginny–I didn't–your patronus really is a Hungarian Horntail?"
The smirk faded, "Yeah–I thought you knew that."
"I honestly didn't."
"Oh." She was now staring at the dragon, "Well yeah–it is, it's a dragon."
"That's so cool." He grinned, pulling her in for a kiss.
"Don't you remember," she said, as they came up for air several moments later, "in the DA, when there was that massive patronus, and Fred told me to vanish it because it was blinding him?"
"I–didn't realize that was you," said Harry, "I didn't realize what it was even–it was so bright."
Ginny laughed, "Yes, well, if you wear sunglasses you can see clearly that it is indeed a pretty good-sized dragon."
She stopped, and stared at the tattoo again, looking rather strange.
"Ginny? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." She met his eyes and smiled, but her gaze dropped and the smile fell away from her face so quickly that Harry was sure it couldn't have been on properly in the first place. She kissed him again, but he was not to be distracted.
"Ginny–what's the matter?"
"Nothing," she said, "it's stupid."
"Well too bad, you have to tell me now–come on, I hate playing this game."
Ginny's face actually reddened as she avoided his eyes, which made Harry feel a bit like a prat, and she paused, open-mouthed, for a moment. "I just–"
The look in his eyes softened, and he picked up her hand in his and brought it to his lips. "Please, Ginny, just tell me."
"I just thought you knew that–that's why I laughed when I saw it, because I thought you did that intentionally. But," she swallowed, and then continued dismissively, "I'm glad you didn't–it's stupid to get something like that tattooed–cause it's permanent and... and it's just a ridiculous thing to do, and I'm just embarassed for thinking that... but nevermind, it's fine."
"You think that's stupid and ridiculous?" he said, grinning at her, "Ginny, you know why I actually got this?"
She looked up. "Why?"
"Do you remember that time, when we were going out, and you said that Romilda Vane had asked if I had a Hippogriff tattooed across my chest?"
Ginny's eyes narrowed pensively. "Yeah... I vaguely remember her asking me that."
"...And do you remember what you told her? That it was actually a--"
Ginny clapped her hands to her mouth, eyes widening, as the memory fell back into place. "You didn't!"
His grin threatened to cut his face clean in half. "I did."
She let out a shout of laughter. "You've got to be kidding me! Oh Harry you are an idiot!"
"I know," he said happily, and she kissed him.
But when they pulled away again, it was Harry's face that was no longer smiling.
"What's the matter?" she said, "And don't you dare say nothing, because we both hate that game."
"I just realized–that's why Dean was being so weird."
Ginny looked alarmed. "What the hell does Dean have to do with anything?"
"He was the tattoo artist–and yes, it was extremely awkward," he said, in answer to the face she made. "But I just realized... He knew it was your patronus, and I didn't."
"Oh." Ginny went silent. "It's alright," she said after a few moments. "Maybe you did know, deep down inside, and that's why you got it."
"Damn it, I'm sick of this deep-down-inside shit!" said Harry suddenly, which made Ginny snort with laughter. "I'm serious–I'm tired of hearing about how great you are from random Order members, and having your brothers tell me how you feel about things. I don't care if you're my soul mate or whatever the hell, I just want to love you the way a normal boyfriend loves his girlfriend: in person, everyday!"
The look in Ginny's eyes hardened. "You don't think I'm sick of people swapping rumours about you and what you've done in front of me, and then realizing that I actually have no idea if they're true or not?"
Harry, who had been winding up to retort, stopped short. "Oh," he said, rather lamely. Their eyes met. "Call it even, then?"
She didn't say anything, just looked at him, but a great change seemed to roll over her slowly, and her eyes welled up with tears. "Ginny?"
She shook her head, and kissed him fiercely. "Yes," she whispered, and she meant it.
"Come on Ginny, why're you crying?"
She laughed, and hugged him just as fiercely, and he cringed in pain as she pressed up against the dragon, but he just bit his lip and hugged her back. "This–" she said, her voice strong and delicate all at once, "this is the happiest I've ever been in my life."
She pulled away and looked at him. "Because you love me and I love you... and we're even now."
Probably Not The End
A/N: I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter yet. I mean, I like it, but I'm just not sure if it works. Tell me what you think.