" 'Cause I still believe in destiny,
That you and I were meant to be.
I still wish on the stars as they fall from above,
'Cause I still believe, believe in love." --I Still Believe,, Hayden Panettiere
Author's Note: This is my first Harry/Ginny story, so keep that in mind when reviewing. If you look at my other stories, you can tell that I'm a diehard Ron/Hermione writer, but this plot simply would not leave my brain, so I'm trying it out. It's a three-parter, with the next chapter from Harry's point-of-view, the morning he leaves the Burrow; the third chapter will be more of an epilogue, taking place when the Trio come back from their search.
Believe in Love:
Ginny Weasley was not pining.
Regardless of her outward appearance, or what others might say, Ginny Weasley had never pined a day in her life and she refused to start now. Did she miss Harry? Yes. Was she upset that he, Ron, and Hermione were about to leave for parts unknown and she was going to be left behind? Naturally. Did she wish more than anything that she could be with Harry right now? Of course.
But that did not mean that she was pining for him. Pining was what girls like Lavender Brown did when her "love interest" loses, well, interest. Pining is what it is called when a girl sits by her window day and night, hoping and wishing and praying for their one and only to return to them. Tears were often involved, as well as much yelling and screaming, generally directed at the person who was leaving.
Ginny had done none of those things since Harry had ended things between them. Well, except for crying, she amended silently, But that's only at night when no one can see, so it doesn't count. She had never let Harry see her cry, not because she thought he wouldn't care, but because she knew that he did care, likely cared more than even he realized. The last thing Harry needed right now was to be worried that his every move would make her burst into tears.
Not that bursting into tears was Ginny Weasley's style, of course. She was more of a "hurl a Bat-Bogey Hex at the offending party" sort of person. But because he was Harry bloody Potter and she loved him more than was good for her, she wouldn't hex him...couldn't hex him, if she was being completely honest. Besides, she thought wryly, What with the lessons Dumbledore gave him, he'd likely be able to predict the curse and block it before I could get my wand out. She laughed sadly, wiping a stray tear off her cheek, as she remembered the beloved Headmaster.
She gazed out the kitchen window at the wedding party still going on in the yard of the Burrow. Much to her dismay, Bill and Fleur had gone through with the wedding, which meant that whether Ginny liked it or not, Fleur was now a Weasley and thus had to be treated like—gulp—family. But Ginny did have to give Fleur some credit; she had still wanted to marry Bill despite the permanent scars on his face. Quite un-Veela-like behavior...Either that, or Fleur had known that if she had wanted to chuck Bill, she would have had been on the dark side of the entire Weasley family.
Whatever the circumstances might have been, Bill and Fleur were now happily married and the celebration of their love had been a bright spot in what was shaping up to be an otherwise depressing (and terrifying) summer. First, the funeral and Harry's noble-yet-idiotic break-up with her. Then, a few weeks of loneliness and forced preparation for the wedding while Ron and Hermione had gone with Harry to his aunt and uncle's house. And now, a distance between Harry and herself that felt so wide, it was unbelievable that they were living in the same house together. They might as well be miles apart...which they soon would be.
She understood his reasons. She didn't agree with them, of course, but she understood them nonetheless. Followed by his hero-complex was Harry's "I-Can't-Let-Anything-Happen-to-Anybody-Except-Me" complex. Which apparently did not include Ron and Hermione. If they can get away with not taking 'no' for an answer, why can't I? she asked herself stubbornly. Again, she knew the answer. Because Harry hasn't snogged Ron or Hermione, you ninny. Despite herself, Ginny giggled at the mental picture that thought produced. And granted, she knew that there had been much more between Harry and herself than snogging, but Ginny doubted that Harry would admit it to himself, much less to her.
So, Ginny had to force herself to make do with the memories of those precious few weeks that she had gotten with Harry. Weeks that, while amazing, could hardly make up for the years she had spent loving—not pining for—him. Weeks that had ended abruptly because Harry thought that if Voldemort found out that they were together (which Ginny secretly guessed had already happened), he would use Ginny as some sort of bait to get to Harry. It made sense in Harry's mind and Ginny hadn't bothered trying to argue with him. She'd known why he was ending things, and it was because of some stupid, noble reason...the reason being that he loved her.
"A reason that you'll probably realize that when it's too late," she said out loud, directing her words to a Harry that couldn't hear her.
"Who's going to realize what reason?"
Ginny jumped at the voice. Clutching a hand to her chest, she whirled around to find Hermione and Ron standing behind her. Ron's arm, she noticed, was tightly but discreetly wrapped around Hermione's waist and it appeared as if he had lipstick stains on his cheeks. Hermione's lips were puffy and traces of lipstick that suspiciously matched the shade on Ron's face had been smeared from her mouth. Ginny's mouth curved into a half-smile. Hopelessly oblivious, the pair of them...took them long enough.
"Ginny?" Hermione's soft voice interrupted her thoughts and Ginny realized she'd been staring at the two of them for some time.
She shook her head to clear her mind, and tried not to be jealous. If she thought that it taken Harry awhile to come 'round, she couldn't imagine what it must have felt like for Hermione to wait for her git of a brother to get his head out of his arse.
"Looks like you two have been busy," she murmured slyly, choosing to ignore their questioning looks. She gestured to Ron's face. "Either that's Hermione's lipstick all over your face, or she's suddenly developed whiskers and given you razor burn. I'm not sure which scenario is more amusing."
Ron blushed and furiously swiped a hand over his face. Beside him, Hermione's cheeks also tinged pink but she was smiling. Ginny grinned back at them. "Congratulations," she said sincerely. Ron was scowling at her, but she detected a hint of happiness in his eyes and Hermione's smile brightened even more.
"What have you been up to?" Hermione asked. "Hiding away from the party?"
Ginny paused, trying to think of a convincing story. "Oh, Mum asked me to bring out some more cups," she said.
Ron's eyebrows wrinkled. "Couldn't she have just conjured them herself?"
Oops. "Um, sure, but...uh..." She trailed off, shrugging. "She, er, didn't?"
She was vaguely aware that Ron started to speak again, but at that moment she looked out the window again and spotted Harry. He, too, was distant from the merriment going on around him. He'd made his way to the edge of the dance floor, near some trees at the bank of the pond. He was sitting with his back to one of the trees, looking alternately between the dancing going on a few meters away from him and the dark water on his other side. Her chest hurt; she wanted nothing more than to go to him and—
"Oh, bugger it. Why in bloody hell don't you just go over there?"
Once again, Ron's voice startled her, but this time it was his words rather than the loudness of his voice that made her pulse jump. "I—wha—why?" she stammered, looking down at her fingernails.
"Because you've both been in a right state since we left Hogwarts and if your moods are anything like Harry's...well, let's just say I'm sick of it all!"
Ginny's eyes flitted from her hands to meet Ron's gaze. She glared at him, silently wishing that her mum wouldn't kill her for hexing her own brother. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that everyone had to bend their emotional state to suit you," she replied icily.
Hermione broke in. "What Ron is trying to say, Ginny," she said, fixing Ron with a harsh look as well, "Is that you and Harry are both obviously suffering and—"
"He's the one who ditched me!"
"He didn't ditch, you, Ginny, and you know it."
Properly chastised, Ginny closed her mouth. Hermione might act like a mother-hen at times, but no one could argue that when she lectured, people listened to her.
"Harry did not ditch you, and he would probably be hurt if he knew that you thought that. He's...this is the way he is. He thinks that he can protect everybody by pushing them away."
Ginny wasn't shocked by Hermione's words—she'd expected such wisdom from someone was smart as Hermione. But apparently Ron was more surprised. He was staring at Hermione as if she'd just sprouted another head. "Oh, what?" she asked crossly. He wisely kept his mouth shut, instead rolling his eyes as he placed a quick kiss to her temple.
"Have I ever told you that you're bloody scary? Brilliant, but scary." He and Hermione smiled at each other, the slight argument forgotten completely. If Ginny hadn't been so awed at witnessing the quickest end to one of their rows, she would have had to fight to urge to gag herself at the disgusting, yet oddly adorable, picture they made.
"Can we get back to me, please?" she asked. She figured that they—Hermione, at least—wouldn't leave until she talked to them. She didn't give them a chance to argue. "So, if Harry tries to push away everyone that cares about him, why hasn't he tried to make you two stay behind?"
Ron snorted. "You think he hasn't?" She shrugged. "Gin, have you ever known me, or Hermione, for that matter, to give up? Or better yet, not follow Harry on one of his little jaunts of darkness and destruction? I mean, yeah, he's gone and faced You-Know-Who directly and we haven't, but..."
"But you've still blazed ahead, as far as you could," she finished. "So, why can't I?"
Apparently that question was far too emotion-heavy for Ron to handle. "Er..."
Hermione stepped in again. "I think that's a question that only Harry can answer." She paused and, as if reading Ginny's mind, continued, "And don't you ever think that he's told you that you can't come because he thinks you're not an amazingly talented witch. If that was the reason, then...well, you know how much extra reading I've done on curses and the lot."
Ginny smiled in gratitude. "Thank you, both of you," she said.
"Go talk to him, Ginny." This time, Ron's voice was serious, concerned. "I—it's...that is, I reckon you two need to work things out...And I want you both to—to be happy, whatever that, um, takes."
She knew how much effort it must have taken to mention anything remotely relating to herself and Harry possibly kissing, and that was why Ginny gently shoved Hermione aside and threw her arms around her brother. He hugged her back, a gesture that he'd so rarely shown her since they'd gotten older. He might have a gigantic prat most of the time, but he was also her older brother, the one closest to her in age, and thus the one that had been more of a friend than a brother at times.
"I love you, Ron," she said against his neck, feeling her skin heat. She couldn't remember the last time she'd said those words to him.
"Right back at you, kid," he said quietly. She held on to him a bit longer, until a sob broke the moment and they pulled apart.
Hermione was standing next to them, one hand over her mouth and tears streaming down her cheeks. The Weasley siblings looked first at her, then at each other, then back at Hermione, before bursting into laughter.
"You are mental!" Ron chuckled, drawing Hermione in with one arm while holding onto Ginny with the other.
"I'm sorry!" Hermione threw back, still crying a bit. "It was just so sweet."
Ginny, with an arm still wrapped around Ron, giggled. "We Weasleys do have our sensitive moments."
Ron shrugged in acknowledgment. "Just don't tell Fred and George. Or Bill. Or Charlie. Or anyone related to us." Ginny furiously nodded her agreement.
After a few moments, she broke away, leaving Ron and Hermione with their arms around each other once again. She took a deep breath, and walked slowly to the door. With her hand on the doorknob, she addressed the pair, but kept her back to them:
"You best keep your clothes on...You don't want Mum to come in and see you lot shagging on the kitchen floor."
She casually let the door swing shut behind her, ignoring Ron's sputtering and Hermione's gasp.
Ginny only thought it right to make a proper exit before attempting to talk to the one and only person who she had always been a little bit afraid to talk to: Harry Potter.
As she approached Harry, ignoring her mother's concerned glance as she walked past her without saying a word, Ginny tried to convince herself that this—talking to Harry—shouldnot feel as awkward as she worried that it was going to be. It wasn't as if she and Harry hadn't spoken to each other at all since the funeral. Or since he had arrived at the Burrow a few days before.
Of course, "Hello," "Excuse me," and "Could you pass the peas?" don't exactly count as conversation, her brain lectured. Ginny scowled. It's not as if I've been the one doing the avoiding. But she knew that this, while true, didn't necessarily excuse her from attempting to seek out Harry. She could pretend to be all right with the situation—she had pretended to be all right with the situation.
"So I will continue pretending," she told herself, hoping that if she spoke the words aloud, she might talk herself into believing them.
Harry hadn't moved from his position underneath the tree, but he'd turned his gaze away from the wedding party and was now staring at the pond. Ginny silently approached him. When he didn't turn, she cocked her head to the side, wondering if a polite cough would grab his attention, then thought better of it. Knowing his reflexes, he'd have her pinned to the ground with his wand at her neck before she realized it.
She was about to open her mouth to say something when Harry spoke first.
Oh, blast it all! Ginny fought the urge to growl at him. How could she remain casually aloof when he could feel her presence before she'd even said anything. She swallowed hard. Must retain composure. "You seem to be hiding from the party," she said quietly.
Harry shrugged, but she could see his shoulders tense. "Don't worry," she broke in with a small smile. "Ron and Hermione just accused me of doing the same thing a few minutes ago."
He finally turned to face her, an eyebrow raised. "Are they...?"
"Together? Oh, very much so."
Harry nodded. "They were dancing before and it was starting to look a bit...um, inappropriate. Can't say I'm upset that they chose to move elsewhere."
Ginny snorted, not surprised, after what she'd seen in the kitchen (and what was likely continuing in the kitchen at the present time). "I have a feeling that what those two lacked in realization, they're going to make up for in voracity."
Harry nodded his agreement, but said nothing else; she knew he was happy for his friends, but there wasn't even a hint of a smile on his face. Seeing that he wasn't going to verbally extend an invitation to her to sit down, she carefully sat to his left, so that she was directly facing him and away from the dancers.
Harry coughed, and even in the darkness, Ginny could tell that he was blushing. "Is it really that hard?" she asked in a wondering tone, more to herself than to him.
"Being close to me," she answered before she'd fully processed the thought. Great, now he really will think I'm pining for him.
Harry made an odd sort of choking noise and turned away from her. Though all she wanted was to be able to roll her eyes at him like she would one of her brothers, instead, Ginny felt the telltale sting of tears at the back of her throat. "I'm—I'm sorry, I just...I—"
"Yeah. It's hard," Harry spoke, cutting off her increasingly-tearful babble.
Must he be so blunt? As Ginny hurriedly tried to cover her tears, more continued to fall in their place, and she furiously wished she could silently curse him.
"But...but not for the reasons you think."
She took a deep breath and turned to face him directly. "Of course. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that you've been avoiding me since the funeral during which you broke up with me, if I remember correctly."
To his credit, Harry winced and looked down at his hands, which were clenched tightly in his lap. She had said the words only to be cruel, but now she wondered if he knew that. "I...you know why I did that," he said so quietly she had to strain to hear him. "If—if he found out, then..."
"Then what? He might target me, or my family, to get to you? Well, I don't know if you realize this, but I have a hunch that he might already have made the connection, given that Ron—my brother—is your best friend."
All traces of tears had vanished as the angry words that she had kept bottled up since the funeral came pouring out, against all her previous reservations not to say anything. She'd wanted to make peace with Harry; now it looked as if she was doing the opposite.
"Damn it, Ginny, don't you get it?!"
Ginny jerked at his outburst and strong language. She'd come to expect cursing from Ron (and even herself, on occasion), but she had never heard Harry swear. Though she was shaken by it, she forced herself to remain calm. She addressed him in a steady voice: "Why don't you explain it to me?"
"Oh, come off it, Harry. Ron's the one with the deficient mouth, not you."
"Can you give me a moment?" he shot back angrily. "Just because I don't stutter every five seconds doesn't mean I know how put love into words."
He seemed to realize exactly what he had said when she did. While Ginny was mentally checking to see if her heart was still beating, Harry's eyes widened into brilliant green saucers and he appeared to be trying not to swallow his tongue whole.
"Wha—wha—wha?" was all Ginny could manage, the sounds matching the banging in her chest.
"I—I don't know. I...that wasn't planned."
She tried to make it easy on him. "Really? Because I thought that the whole passionate and angry outburst was rehearsed." She smiled to let him know she wouldn't get caught up in the serious nature of the moment. But rather than smile back at her, Harry stared at her, and she detected—with far too much pride—a note of wonder in his eyes.
"Being around you is hard because I feel like I should stay away from you—for your sake. But all I really want is to be close to you."
Surprised that Harry had actually said what Ginny knew he'd been thinking, her jaw dropped open and she tried to say something, but no sound emerged from her throat. Harry blushed and continued; she absently noticed that his hands—still clenched together—were trembling.
"Gin, how can you possibly think that I would have...ended things...if I didn't think it was a good idea? You—you seemed to understand at the funeral. That's why I told you the way I did; I thought if anybody could possibly understand me, it would be, well, you. I don't want to be apart from you...I think that you understand that much."
She gave up with her calm and collected pretense with those words, reaching over and grabbing his hands. He stiffened at first, but then relaxed and gripped her hands tightly. "If you don't want to be apart from me, then let me stay with you," she said softly, staring determinedly into his eyes.
"Ah, Ginny," her name came out as a sigh. "Do you know what it would do to me if you—if you...died? I am such a selfish bastard for even thinking this, let alone telling you. I would be devastated if—Merlin forbid—Ron or Hermione di—died. But, you..." He paused, drawing in a deep breath. His eyes were glittering, and Ginny suddenly realized how close he was to crying. She was about to put her arms around him when she was halted by his next words.
"If—if Voldemort got to you, if you died, I would be destroyed. So destroyed to the point where I might fuck things up so badly that I...that I kill myself instead of him. And not necessarily by accident." As if that wasn't enough to truly shock Ginny's system, he continued. "It's like—like I've lost all belief. In anything. Because of him. My whole life has been chucked into the rubbish bin."
He probably would have continued if Ginny had completely given up trying to act calm and collected, and grabbed his face and kissed him. With just the touch of her lips to his, she was brought back to earlier that spring and those wonderful, brilliantly sunny days spent wandering around the Hogwarts grounds. Harry didn't respond at first, but then seemed to give up and kissed her back with an intensity she'd never before felt from him. He moaned softly into her mouth, stroking his hands up and down her back, causing her to shiver. She didn't want to end the moment, but soon it became increasingly difficult to breathe. They pulled apart, her eyes glittering in triumph and his green ones shocked, yet happy.
He opened his mouth to speak again, but Ginny quickly placed a finger over his lips. Seemingly without thinking, Harry kissed her finger, letting it linger in his mouth for a moment. She couldn't suppress her quiet whimper, but steeled herself against him anyway.
"Let me speak now, all right?" she said shakily, drawing her finger away. She moved back a bit, simply because she knew that if she stayed close to him, Merlin knew what would happen.
She took another steadying breath, still reeling not only from his kiss, but his earlier words. "Harry, I—I can't tell you...that is...what you said, it's...it was lovely." Great, Ginny, what a way with words you've got. She snorted in disgust with herself. "Lovely," she said with a scowl. "I'm sure that was exactly what you had in mind."
Once again, Harry tried to speak, but she leaned over without properly thinking about it and kissed him quickly to shut him up. It worked, and he merely sat back with a puzzled look on his face.
"Merlin, Harry! How can you possibly think that I would be all right, knowing that you died for me? You say that you would do something stupid to get yourself killed if I was hurt...Don't you know that I would do the same?!"
She was crying silently now, the tears streaming down her cheeks. So much for the whole "don't-let-Harry-see-you-cry" thing, she thought absently. "You say that you want to keep me safe," she continued in a more subdued tone of voice. "That if something happened to me, it would...destroy you. But you don't see, Harry? The same is true for—for me." She would have said more, probably should have said more, but somehow she figured that Harry knew how loaded that short sentence was.
"The difference, I think, between you and me is that I still believe. As amazing as it is, considering what you, Ron, Hermione, and I have been through over the past five years, I still believe in the good. I believe that it is your destiny to fight Voldemort—but you will win. I believe that because, honestly, Harry, you should have died many times by now. But you haven't, and it's not because of luck...it's because you have love on your side. I believe that you're going to go off, defeat Voldemort, come back, and we're going to be together. Forever.
"And I have never stopped believing in the two of us, Harry. Never. Even when I was a idiot-girl, hopelessly besotted by the world's hero, Harry 'The Boy Who Lived' Potter. But now, ever since you blazed into the Chamber of Secrets to save a girl who you only knew as your best friend's baby sister, you're much more than the world's hero to me. You are my hero; you always have been and you always will be."
Gathering every ounce of Gryffindor courage that she possessed, Ginny stood, trying (unsuccessfully) not to notice how Harry's eyes followed her movements.
"I know you're leaving tomorrow morning, and if you don't say goodbye, I suppose I can pretend to understand, for your sake." She paused, clenching her fists to prevent the tears from falling again.
"It has always been you, Harry James Potter," she reiterated quietly. "Now, it's up to you to realize that for yourself."
She turned her back on him and walked away, knowing that if she even turned around a bit, she would be in his arms before she took her next breath.
Author's Note: Don't worry! If you didn't already catch it, there are two more parts of this story coming...I'm not sure when, exactly, but it won't be longer than a couple of weeks.