Ginny took a deep breath as she stood outside Harry's room. She had promised her mother, Ron and Hermione that she would go to see Harry. She had been trying to do so for the past ten minutes, getting up from her chair across the hall, walking to Harry's door, and then, losing her nerve and running back to the relative safety of her seat. Only to repeat the process again.
Get a grip, Weasley. Ginny chided herself. It's only Harry.
Right. Maybe if she told herself that often enough, it would start to come true. He had never been just "only Harry" to her. He had always been something more; starting from the time her mother told her bedtime stories about how he had brought about the first downfall of Voldemort, up to the time Ron met him and became his best friend. She remembered the fool she made herself out to be in front of Harry whenever he was around in those early years. Afterwards, she got used to him, became his friend, got to know the real Harry Potter, and fell in love with him.
No, Ginny. Don't think about that. You don't love him anymore. Ginny told herself. He broke your heart.
She thought back to the wedding day of her eldest brother, Bill. That was the day that Harry told her…
"Ginny, would you dance with me, please?"
Ginny looked up from her conversation with Hermione, her heart hitching up to her throat. She recognized the voice even before she saw the face. It was the voice that haunted her dreams day and night ever since Dumbledore's funeral.
Harry was standing next to the table, looking incredibly handsome in his black formal dress robes, his expression unreadable, his normally bright green eyes were dark and sullen. She didn't understand why he was talking to her now, when he had pulled all stops and avoided her ever since he, Ron, and Hermione arrived yesterday at the Burrow for the wedding. They had been off somewhere, doing Merlin knows what. She didn't understand why Ron and Hermione could accompany Harry while she had to stay at home and wallow in her misery.
"Gin?" he pressed when Ginny didn't answer.
Ginny looked nervously at Hermione, who gave her a knowing look and an encouraging smile. She turned her attention to Harry, nodded silently, got up, and allowed Harry to lead her to the dance floor. A small shock of electricity traveled from her elbow, where Harry touched her, to all the parts of her body. Merlin. He had such an effect on her!
They reached the dance floor, just as the music changed, and the singer - Ginny didn't know who, but was quite thankful that it wasn't Celestina Warbeck - began singing a song with a very slow beat.
An uncomfortable look passed in front of Harry's face for a moment, before he gave a slight shake of his head, and took her into his arms, keeping the space between them, large enough for a fully-grown man to slip through. Harry started to lead her into the dance, and Ginny wordlessly followed.
It has always been like that. Ginny thought to herself. Harry leading, and me following.
"What is it?" Harry asked her, his voice soft.
"Nothing," came her reply.
Harry said nothing. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. She felt him take in a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. "You look very pretty today."
Ginny could have sworn her heart stopped beating. Blood rushed to her face, and she could feel the blush coming on to her cheeks. "Thanks," she mumbled. "So do you. Handsome, I mean." She silently cursed herself for her nervousness. Hadn't she overcome this stage in their relationship by now?
What relationship? A traitorous voice in the back of her head piped up. He broke up with you, remember?
"I can always tell when you're thinking something, you know," Harry told her, smiling a bit, his green eyes showing some of the warmth they always held for her in the past. She could tell he was pleased by her stammering, although she couldn't figure out how. "Right, now, I think that whatever it is, it's highly amusing."
Ginny's heart skipped another beat at the smile on Harry's face. She hadn't seen him smile in a very long time. She smiled shyly back. "I was thinking that I'd probably follow you to the ends of the earth, if I could."
Harry's smile instantly faded, his eyes growing wide, and fearful all of a sudden before clouding over, and becoming expressionless again. He stopped dancing, and his arms gripped her from where they rested around her waist. "No, you can't, Ginny!" He then dropped his hands to his sides and stalked off the dance floor without another word.
"Harry!" Ginny quickly followed him, not wanting him to close off from her again. She was determined not to let Harry push her out of his life anymore. She belonged by his side. She knew that. Hell, she suspected he knew that. "Harry, wait!" Not caring about the curious stares she was getting from her brother's guests, she took off at a run, her gold dress robes swishing about her legs. She stumbled a bit, but regained her footing, and slowed down at a more even pace, damning the confining dress robes.
Ginny saw Harry turn sharply and furiously stalk towards Mr. Weasley's shed, not paying any attention to her.
Harry turned around abruptly. He had now reached trees located behind the shed. "Go back to the party, Ginny." He started to walk past the trees and into the clearing behind them.
Ginny continued following him, anyway, and found him sitting on a tree stump, his face buried in his hands. She stepped forward, and she felt, more than saw, Harry tense up, his head and back snapping to attention. "It's me," she called out, and walked towards him. Harry relaxed slightly, but kept his back turned from her.
"I told you to go back."
She ignored him, and continued walking. She stopped and kneeled down on the ground in front of him, sitting back on her legs. She took his hands in hers. "Silly, I just told you I'd follow you anywhere." It was probably foolish of her to mention that now, when it was obviously what made Harry so angry, but she felt she had to make light of the situation, somehow.
"No, you can't, Ginny," Harry answered her without emotion. "I have to do things…dangerous things -."
"I can help you -."
"NO!" Harry pulled his hands out of hers. "You have to stay here. You have to stay safe!"
"Harry!" Ginny protested. "I want to help you. I'm willing to help you!"
"No," Harry repeated vehemently. "Stay here. I have to know that you're safe to do the things I have to do."
"What do you have to do?" Ginny changed the subject abruptly, hoping for some information. She's help Harry whether he wanted to or not. She wasn't about to stand around when the boy…no, man she loved risked his life. She wasn't, and would never be, the damsel-in-distress type of girl. Just ask her six brothers.
"I have to find the -" Harry caught himself before giving too much away. "I can't tell you."
"Do Ron and Hermione know?"
Harry hesitated, before nodding his head.
Ginny exploded. "How come they know, but I can't know? Harry, I love you as much as they do! Probably even more! How can you risk your life without even telling me what you're going to do?" Tears started prickling the back of her eyes. "Let me in, Harry. Let me help you. You know I can help you."
Harry's eyes were wide in surprise, and his mouth was hanging slightly open. Ginny belatedly realized what she had just said, but braced herself for whatever it is that was coming. She had never said those three words to Harry before, and she certainly wasn't going to take it back now when it was exactly how she felt about him. She stood up, crossed her arms over her chest, and glared at him defiantly, daring him to contradict what she said with a resounding 'no'.
"I…I…" Harry stammered. He let out a long breath. "I don't deserve your love, Ginny. I don't deserve you. I have no future. You should find someone else who can give you what you need."
"What if what I need is you?"
"Please don't be stubborn, Gin."
"You're the one being stubborn!" said Ginny hotly. "I know you have to go after Voldemort. I know you can never be at peace until he's gone." Her expression softened. "Let me come with you, Harry."
"I won't hear it, Harry. You want me by your side. I can feel it. Follow your heart, Harry." Ginny wondered if she was assuming too much by saying that. She wanted to be by his side. She wasn't entirely sure if the feeling was mutual.
The only sound to be heard was the rustling of the leaves as the wind blew.
"What I want and what is going to happen are two very different things," Harry said, his voice soft. "If there's one thing that I've learned by staying at the Dursleys', it's that I can never get what I want."
Ginny was silent. Damn those Dursleys to hell and back. What had they done to Harry?
"And I can't give you what you want," Harry went on. "Not while Voldemort's shadow is looming over me. And if it comes to that, I'm not even sure if I can live through it all." He shook his head. "You see, Ginny, you mean too much to me. And I would be more at ease if I knew you were safe and sound. And if to be that you have to be far from me, then, so be it."
"I won't be waiting for you when you get back." Ginny had no idea what made her say that. She supposed she thought that if she could scare Harry into thinking that she wouldn't be waiting for him to claim her love when he defeated Voldemort (and she had no doubt that he would), he would jump at the chance to accept her now.
"I won't be here when you get back," Ginny repeated. "I'll have moved on." She stared into Harry's unreadable green eyes. Was it only a couple of months ago that she had been able to look into Harry's eyes and know what he had been thinking in moments? "Either you accept me now, or forget about ever having me. Decide, Harry."
Harry was silent for a long moment. "Will you promise to be safe?"
Hope leapt into Ginny's heart as Harry said those words. She was going to let her come with him! "Of course, Harry."
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes, as if steeling himself from saying something very difficult. "Then, Gin, I…" He took another deep breath, then squared his shoulders. "I hope you have a nice, long and happy life."
He bent down, gave her a chaste kiss on the lips, and then he was gone.
Stunned, Ginny would later wonder how she managed to get back to the reception party, and say goodbye to everyone properly. After the guests had gone, Ginny went up to her room, threw herself on her bed and started crying.
Sometime later Hermione entered, and she felt herself being pulled into the older girl's arms. Ginny couldn't do anything but sob violently against her friend.
"Professor McGonagall told us that Hogwarts will be reopening next term," Hermione whispered softly, when Ginny's sobs started to dwindle. "I've convinced Harry to go back to Hogwarts to finish his seventh year." She absentmindedly rubbed Ginny's back in a comforting manner. "Of course, his decision for staying might have been because Professor McGonagall found Professor Dumbledore's secret library hidden inside the Headmaster's office. That, and she offered Harry, Ron and me the Defense Against the Dark Arts post.
"We would be teaching defensive spells, and some attacking spells." Hermione continued when Ginny didn't respond. Her sobs had died down, but she was still quiet. "Sort of like the DA, but Professor McGonagall seems to think that Hogwarts is a prime target, despite all the extra protection spells and wards being placed on it. She and Professor Flitwick have spent the entire summer putting up all those extra spells. She wants the students to be prepared for all eventualities"
"What's does Harry have to do, Hermione?" Ginny blurted out. "What is it that you aren't telling me?"
Hermione paled. "I…I can't tell you, Ginny. I promised Harry…"
"I see," Ginny replied. She pulled away from Hermione's embrace. "I'm going to sleep."
She hadn't really slept that night. She stayed awake thinking of what happened between her and Harry earlier in the clearing. Maybe she shouldn't have presented Harry with that ultimatum. She should have just told him that she would be waiting for him. Regret began to course through her veins.
She was just about to throw down her covers, go to Harry and tell him that she hadn't meant all of the things she had said when she heard Hermione get up, and quietly start dressing and packing her things.
They were leaving! Ginny realized with a sick feeling in her heart, which was quickly replaced by anger. They weren't even going to say goodbye!
Ginny watched from her window as the three of them walk out of the Burrow, and start towards the boundaries of the wards so that they could apparate away. She saw Harry glance back towards her window, and Ginny met his gaze. He turned away, and apparated to who knew where with his two best friends.
It was five long weeks before Ginny saw him next; back at Hogwarts when school started, but they pretended that they didn't even know each other. Hermione was the one who taught her class. Sometimes, Ron would come, but he was more of a comic relief at teaching than anything. She learned from other students that they had all three of them as teachers interchangeably, and that Harry's classes were the best. She didn't have to be Hermione to figure out why Harry was avoiding her class.
Ginny shook herself away from her reverie. Putting up all of her defenses, she pushed open Harry's hospital door.
A/N: So here is the second chapter. I'm so so sorry for the delay! I've just been so busy this summer traveling and visiting relatives. But I promise updates are going to be more frequent from now on! Anyway, tell me what you think!