A Thin Line

The difference between Heaven and Hell, I believe, can be a thin line. Trust me, I've seen both sides, maybe more so than most people, and I know what I'm saying. Oh, I'm sure that Aunt Petunia would slap me for blasphemy if she heard me say that, but what does she know? That's right, not much. She did take me to church sporadically when I was younger, along with Dudley, although we stopped when he got old enough to complain. So, I know what a good portion of the world thinks about Heaven and Hell: clouds and harps versus fire and brimstone. I just know I don't feel that way about it at all. Instead, I think Heaven is getting what you want, in the end, because you deserve it. And I think Hell, when it comes down to it, is being a hairsbreadth away from what you want, but not being able to get it -- mainly due to your own failures.

And, that hairsbreadth . . . well, during my sixth year at Hogwarts I came to understand better than I ever had before that this can be a very thin line indeed.

One afternoon, after Quidditch practice, Ron and I came across Ginny and Dean clenched together in a very passionate kiss. Now, I knew she liked him and I had seen them touch before, holding hands and things. I didn't like it, but fortunately, Dean wasn't a bragger and didn't force us to listen to tales of how far Ginny would let him go. Of course, that might be because he was afraid of Ron pounding him into oblivion if he heard a whisper of Ginny being overly "friendly," but the side effect of his silence was that I was able to ignore for the most part the reality of their relationship. That afternoon, the truth of things presented itself as a nasty fact, and I didn't like it, I didn't like it at all.

That was the first instance when I saw a glimpse of what hell was, because I knew Ginny had liked me for a long time and that I had rejected her. So, now it was Dean who was able to touch her, able to hold her, able to kiss her. I hated him for that, I must admit, even though it had been my own fault. Well, after seeing them kissing, my feelings for her couldn't be ignored any longer. I felt them sharply, constantly, deeply.

The first time I saw them together again was two days after "the incident," as I like to call it. Dean was sitting in the Common Room studying and I was relieved he was alone. But then the portrait hole opened and Ginny climbed in. I knew I shouldn't look at her, but I couldn't help it. I tried to pay attention to my own studies, but my gaze was drawn to her like metal to a magnet. She crossed the room with the bouncy little step she has which means she's happy. And she was headed right toward him. I looked away again, back down at my book, determined not to let Ron catch me staring at her. But I heard her quiet laugh and Dean responded in kind and once again I turned my head, immediately honing in on her. She was behind him, hands on his shoulders, looking down at his parchment.

A stab of envy pierced my gut. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to get out of my chair, walk over to them, and punch Dean in the mouth. I could picture it quite clearly in my head. I would step over his unconscious body and sit in his chair; then Ginny would be leaning over me, smiling, looking down at my parchment, and laughing in my ear. Then I would stand up and take her in my arms and we would kiss passionately, her little body pressed against mine in all the right places . . . "Y'okay, mate? Something wrong?" I glanced around, surprised, and saw Ron's concerned eyes peering at me.

Oh, yeah, Ron. Only one reason out of many why my daydreams would never come true.

"I'm fine. I was just thinking about my Transfiguration essay."

Ron snorted and looked back to his own work. When I looked down and realized I had my Potions book open, I was glad Hermione wasn't there with us. She surely would have known I was lying. I tried really hard to focus on Potions but I saw movement with the corner of my eye and my head automatically turned in Ginny's direction again. She was sitting down now, head bent low over her own parchment, but her hand was intertwined with Dean's. I imagined for another moment that it was my hand her small thumb was drawing patterns on and I felt a clawing, angry scratching in my chest which I recognized from before. "I'm going to head upstairs, Ron. I can't concentrate down here."

Ron didn't answer because Hermione had just come through the portrait hole and the two of them were angrily ignoring each other and it took all his energy. I sighed, glancing one more time at Ginny, hoping she would feel my eyes on her and look at me. But she didn't. I stalked up the stairs and threw my book bag against my trunk. "Damn it." I fell across the pillows of my four-poster and scowled. It was going to be a long year if I couldn't be in the same room as Ginny and get anything done. If I couldn't be in the same room as Ginny without an urge to kill Dean. If I couldn't be in the same room as Ginny without wanting to beg her to reconsider and love me again.

That night, I thought more of Ginny while I was sleeping. A lot more about Ginny. I thought about parts of Ginny I had never allowed myself to imagine before, and she responded eagerly to everything I did to her. Her soft cries of pleasure were still echoing in my head when I awoke that morning, cold and sticky. I groaned, but whether it was in disgust at the images still marching across my brain or disappointment that dawn had come and put an end to my dreaming, I couldn't really say. Maybe it was a combination of both.

I hugged her on Saturday – yes, I hugged her after Quidditch and she felt even better in my arms than I expected. I had to let her go quickly before either Ron or Dean got suspicious, or before I actually grabbed her and held her against me while I kissed her. Neither of those scenarios would be good. Well, holding her close to me while I kissed her would be good for a few moments, but afterward things would go downhill really fast. Of course, later that night I dreamed of hugging her again, and this time I did grab her and hold her, and then undressed her, and Dean and Ron melted away and we spent a long time at the Quidditch pitch, in the changing room, and in the showers and no one interrupted us.

That was kind of how my life was for a few weeks. It was hell during the day when I saw the two of them together and all those feelings of envy would claw at my insides and I would tell myself I had blown any chance of ever being with her. I could imagine a million scenarios where I hadn't rejected her feelings toward me and we had actually become a couple, where one little word or small action on my part had convinced her to love me rather than either Michael Corner (the prat) or Dean. I replayed those alternatives in my head over and over again, each of them leaving me even more angry at myself than the last. It was heaven, though, at night. My dreams were the times when those alternative scenarios became reality, if only for a few moments, and Ginny did love me. The feeling of euphoria I had every morning would usually last for a few minutes until I saw Dean again, even without her, knowing he would kiss her at breakfast and her warm little body would be pressed against his while they ate, and I would grind my teeth and be forced back into hell again.

This fine balancing act between Heaven and Hell went on for quite a long time, although it lost some of its intensity after Christmas. I was grateful. Ginny didn't seem so keen on Dean anymore which meant I wasn't forced to actually watch them snog or even touch each other as much. Of course, she still didn't like me, which I regretted, but she hung around with me more. And I enjoyed it. I touched her often, keeping the touches light and friendly, but I savored each time. Her skin was so soft and she always smelled so good. She smiled at me more, too, and I imagined that smile again and again during the nights, when it came to have a secret, sexy meaning for my dream self.

Heaven. I don't know if I had ever experienced it in reality until May, when I had a chance to catch her in my arms, hold her tight, and kiss her. In daylight. And it was even better than I imagined. I got what I wanted. And I like to think I deserved her. She even seemed to think so, most of the time.

And that taste of Heaven gave me something to work towards during the next year of Hell on earth – when I knew what I truly wanted and couldn't have it, for her own sake. And when that Hell was finally past, and Heaven was once again within my grasp, I knew I'd never regret having experienced life without her, just so I could forever appreciate how Heavenly loving her truly was.