"My bones have to move and my skin's gotta breathe
You pick up the phone and I'm so relieved
You slide down your stairs to the heated street
And the sun has left us with slippery feet
And I want to walk around with you..."
"Ginny. Ginny. Ginny." Harry whispered into the crack of her bedroom door, his neck bent at an extremely awkward angle as he tried in vain to peer inside.
"Harry?" Ginny mumbled, and Harry heard the creak of bedsprings. A louder squeak ensued, followed by the shuffling of feet on floorboards. Harry nearly toppled over as Ginny wrenched the door open, and he grinned despite himself at her rumpled appearance. "Harry, what are you doing? It's-" she glanced at a small metal wall clock before turning to face him, "-it's two in the morning!"
Harry felt a dull blush creep up his neck, creeping slowly to his hot cheeks. "Sorry, I just- couldn't sleep."
Ginny's brown eyes softened. "Nightmare?" she whispered, and Harry bent his head, nodding slightly despite himself as she looked up at him. He didn't want to look in her eyes- to see the worry and pity. Especially the pity. There were so many more deserving people for her to sympathize with. He felt her running her thumb over his chin. He started, embarrassed of the slight stubble that marked his face, but she placed her hand onto his shoulder. "I'll meet you downstairs in five minutes." She grinned as he furrowed his brows. "To walk around! Take your mind off of things."
"Ginny… it's raining." Ginny wrenched open her white curtains covering her window to inspect the scene of the orchard slowly being covered in a fine mist.
"Poppycock." Harry raised a brow. "It's barely even started to sprinkle. Now get out so I can brush my teeth." Harry exited gladly and ambled down the crooked stairs of the Burrow, waiting near the base of the stairs where a plush, velvet armchair served as his perch. Not even five minutes later, he looked up to see Ginny sliding down the handrail of the stairs before landing with a dull thud near where he sat. He jumped up immediately, face splitting into a wild grin as she took his hand and led him outside. The stuffy confines of the Burrow gave way to clean air, crisp and cool with the scent of rain lingering on the blades of grass and leaves of the yard. His ensemble of only pajama bottoms, white socks and a T-shirt quickly stuck to his skin in the damp garden, and he glanced to his side to see if what Ginny was wearing was any better. She too was in pajama bottoms, short for the hot summer weather, and a T-shirt with a cover up thrown hastily over. He smiled at her usual Weasley-red hair, the braid it was in messy from sleeping on it. She caught his gaze and raised a brow. He smirked, grabbing her hand this time and leading her out toward the open air, stumbling on clods of dirt and roots that rose randomly from the dampening earth. Harry let out a snort as Ginny bolted in front of him, running out of the far gate that welcomed people to the Burrow. She turned to face him as she reached the mud-slicked dirt road. He glanced at his once pure white socks, hesitating as Ginny gave a sniff.
"Afraid of ruining your precious socks, Saint Potter?" Harry scowled at Malfoy's old name for him, and Ginny grinned roguishly.
"No." He carefully peeled off the white cotton from his feet, reveling in the way the mud squished between his toes. Ginny quickly took his hand, for the third time that night as he was pleased to say, and they walked together through the mud. Harry lips twisted into a wry grin as Ginny began humming, skipping down the lane with her hand still held in his. Her airy tune filled the otherwise empty air, and he compared her arm with his. Her pale fingers were entwined with his own slightly tanned ones, and he admired the freckles that spotted her entire forearm. Harry shoved the idea of counting them all to the back of his mind and instead his eyes traveled up her neck to her face. Her warm brown eyes shone, her lips were turned up, and her cheeks were faintly pink. Harry, remembering himself, kicked the slippery mud onto her bare feet as he took an extra long stride. Ginny turned to him, excruciatingly slow. Her eyes shone with a light, and Harry recognized the devious way her eyes glinted in the moonlight. They perfectly mirrored her own twin brothers, Fred-
Harry felt a pang enter his chest like a searing knife. It was no longer Fred and George. It was just George now. He gazed down, marveling in the way her tiny figure radiated such confidence. He was sure that it was from years of being raised around teenage boys, but maybe, maybe it was because she was truly happy and comfortable. That's the reason he came out here with her, right? To forget about the war. To forget about all the death, the despair, the destruction. And here he was, with the girl he had dreamt about for the past three years, and all he could do was think back to a year ago. The anniversary was looming ahead, and it was sure to reopen freshly healed wounds. Harry shook his head as they arrived to the end of the lane.
"Why so quiet, Harry?" she stood on tiptoe to whisper, and a waft of something he had smelled down in Slughorn's dungeon floated toward him, making his eyelids close as he smiled in contentment. "Harry?"
Harry opened his eyes in a dreamy state. He led her toward a patch of dry grass that grew underneath a rather large willow tree, and to his pleasure, she didn't let go of his hand even as they sat down and leaned against the rough bark. "You smell really, really nice." He finally managed to utter. She snorted but leaned her head against his shoulder.
"The scent of my shampoo has left you speechless this entire time?" she teased, and laughed merrily as he nodded bemusedly.
"It does become quite a bit… distracting." He sighed and sniffed her hair again hesitantly. "Sorry, it just smells…"
"Like what?" Ginny asked with a grin.
"Like… something floral. But it's not just that, it's fruit and flowers and something else, too. I smelled it in Slughorn's class, you know." Harry laughed as Ginny wrinkled her nose. "No, no, nothing like that! It smelled delicious, but nowhere near as good as the real thing. I smelled it in the- in the amortentia potion, as it is. And I knew it came from the Burrow at first, but then I smelled it again, when you hugged me after you won the Quidditch match, and after Dumbledore died. And that's- that's when I knew, I suppose." Harry coughed nervously and rubbed the back of his neck.
"Knew what?" Ginny whispered.
"I knew that… oh I don't know. I knew that being jealous of Dean wasn't me being protective of you. Well it was, just not in the same way as Ron, not brotherly. And I, um, realized that I didn't think of you as just Ron's sister anymore." Harry nervously rambled, " And I knew, I knew that I didn't want to see you with anyone else. And I knew that if it was possible, if you wanted to, that I wanted to be with you, and not anyone else. I knew that I… well, I think that I-"
A small freckled hand covered his mouth, and Harry's eyes widened behind his glasses. "You talk too much, Harry Potter." Ginny whispered. She slowly released her hand from his trembling lips, and Harry felt his eyelids slowly close, and his neck tilted back, and they kissed under the willow tree for what might have been until morning. He had missed the feel of her lips, and the touch of her hair, and just her. She was everything he wasn't, everything he needed. They stopped in good time, and Harry felt Ginny rest her head against his chest.
"I never gave up on you, Harry. Not for a minute." Harry's cheeks started to quiver from the enormous smile that was etched onto his face, but he couldn't stop grinning. "It was always you." Harry looked into her eyes and brushed the stray hair out of her face, kissing her gently on the forehead before wrapping an arm around her. He might not be the most perfect person, but as he fell asleep with Ginny under the cover of the swaying willow tree, he felt safe and whole.
All was well.
Sorry for the delay for those of you who have been reading!
I've been grounded, but thankfully I've been working on a couple more stories, so they'll be up as soon as possible.
Thank you so much for reviews and alerts, they mean the world to me!