A/N. I attempted to stay as IC as possible, while making them as human as I personally could at the same time, but there's only so much you can do when you aren't the brilliant JKR. ;) Hopefully, however, you'll be able to see the Harry and Ginny we all adored from the series.

My dedications go out to Ela (waltzingvelocity), Ellie (s i l v e r a u r o r a), and Bree (Bree-utiful) who are without a doubt a few of the most brilliant people I've met on this site. You girls are all kinds of amazing, beautiful, genius and inspiring, and you all make me smile in so many millions of ways. x

(Edited: 5/8/11)

Disclaimer. Disclaimed!

And I'll Stop Time for You

scene i

and if i keep you in my heart, if you keep me in yours, —

Your feet whisper over the floorboards, shuffle lightly over the wood, and the worn planks creak ever so softly beneath your footfalls. Your heart is humming wildly against your ribcage, your whole body feels locked and weighted and tightly wound, and the distinct sensation of guilt is hanging thickly above your head, oppressive as if you were doing something wrong.

But wanting to see Harry wasn't, or at least shouldn't be, against any rules, especially considering the circumstances. For one, you two had been very steadily dating for some time up until a month or so ago, not to mention that you two, plus your family, had been sharing a home throughout the entire holiday, so it was ridiculous that just because you had broken up (for reasons you and he knew were really just beyond your control), you now couldn't be in the same room as one another without people, namely Ron, constantly frowning and tossing over slanted stares.

Yet, still ... Still your pulse was just racing, wings were floundering around and tickling the walls of your stomach, and you couldn't help from glancing over your shoulder, half expecting to spot your brother — perhaps having seen through Hermione's distractions — as he stormed up the stairs to glower and huff and stick his nose where it didn't belong.

But, no; you just had to have faith in Hermione's word to keep him away for 'as long as you need', as she had put it, because it wasn't as if she had ever given you a reason to doubt her. Besides, even with the noise of your own shivering breaths, you can hear their voices, airy and bickering and (comfortingly) familiar, floating up the stairs and all the way to your landing; even more than that, you don't have to see the pair to know that Ron is already too wrapped up in the brunette to even remember the date, which is the way it normally goes with them.

Yet, somehow, none of this proves to be all that reassuring: You're not even looking at him, not even in his presence for that matter, and already you can feel yourself beginning to revert back into that girl; the blushing and tongue-tied and intoxicated child who Harry used to always unintentionally turn you into without fail, the one who could hardly think straight or evenly breathe.

You've never been one for hesitation or second guessing yourself, but as you stand outside of your brothers door, with the knowledge that he is right there crashing around between the hollows of your ribs, you can't keep from pausing, wondering, or your thoughts from jump-starting to run a mile a minute.

Would he even want to see you?

You feel yourself blush at the blatantly obvious answer to your question: There's no way he would still look at you the way he does, no other reason for the way his hands shake and ears flush when you're close, if he didn't want anything to do with you. So, breathing deeply, clutching your wrist above your thrashing heart and reaching to brush the pad of your thumb against the face of your watch, you set your shoulders and hold out your hand to the door.

It opens with a groan, artificial light swathes like sunlight over you, and there he is; crouched over a book on his bed, his hair an even greater mess than it usually is, expression one of strained frustration and anxiety, and those impossibly green eyes, while fixated on the open page before him, worlds away.


He doesn't appear to have noticed your arrival.

Moving slowly, pressing the door to a muted close and your back against the length, you wait and watch as the sound breaks through to him. Although his gaze doesn't shift, it does become more focused, and for a long moment all you can do is stare.

"This is ridiculous," he finally says, a glower twisting on his handsome face as he flicks the book shut with a dull thwump. "We don't even have a clear —"

But this isn't right.

"Harry," you break in before he can go any farther, your voice surprisingly steady in spite of the whirlwind running rampage inside of you, and his response is instantaneous.

His head snapping up, nearly tripping over a jumper that had been carelessly thrown aside, he rushes to get up onto his feet, and his expression colours from absolute shock to another entirely made up of heat; a gentle, complete sort of warmth that reminds you of submerging yourself within summertime water.

Your gazes are locked, his breath caught and yours suddenly calm, and he is regarding you as if you are only there to abruptly disappear.

"Ginny ...," he whispers, all wide-eyed and disbelieving and unadulterated affection, and his tone is enough to make even the most weary hearted girl smile; the corners of your mouth curve, the curls giving the impression that you were sharing a secret meant only for the two of you, and even as he repeats your name, this time in a sort of strangled gasp as if he's only just realized he really was looking at you, everything you've ever felt for him just expands; stretching and growing as vast and wide as the glow of a breaking sunrise.

There are so many things you'd like to do right then, so many wants whirling inside of your mind and needs throughout your shuddering veins, that keeping up that collected and almost playful little grin has become one of the most difficult things that you've ever done; it isn't easy to just stand there, so seemingly unfazed, when all you want to do is cry and scream and shake him and kiss him until he promises, promises, promises that he'll stay.

But it's unfair of you to want that, wrong to find yourself sometimes spacing out and constructing scenes from all of those possibilities, when you know as you've always known — because how could you possibly forget? — that he is Harry Potter and he is a hero and there is always some greater-good circumstance that's calling out for his attention.

Of course, on the other hand, he is also that slow, oblivious boy who had always had your heart. He's the boy who you've spent hours doing absolutely nothing with and still loving every single second of it, he's the boy who sends you those brilliant smiles from across the Quidditch pitch, the corridors, the common room, the Great Hall. He's still the boy who went red every single time that he reached for your hand, he's the boy who kissed you — as if you were the only physical thing real and alive — in the middle of the Gryffindor common room, in front of everyone, and he's the boy who looks at you with those promised-truths in his eyes, the ones he just hasn't yet found the courage for to admit aloud.

Everyone else looks at him and they see his scar — the Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One, Harry Potter —, but all you can see is the boy with the haunted eyes, stuttering touch, and ability to make your heart go wild; and the fact that he would soon be leaving, chasing after Voldemort as you knew that he was, is the most terrifying thing that you have ever known — and how are you supposed to act as if it isn't?

How are you supposed to pretend that those awful dreams, the ones where he closes his bottle-green eyes and they don't open back up again, don't leave behind vicious scars that trail all over your skin? How are you supposed to pretend that it doesn't tear and shred and rip you up inside because the mere idea of anything happening to him makes you fear that you just might lose you mind? How are you supposed to pretend that you're fine when you've never felt so hopelessly weak in all of your life?

But for Harry to know, or for anyone to know, would just add to the strain and the anger and the distress, and you could not, would not, make things any harder than they already were. And so, because it really is the only thing that you can do, you ignore it; you push your fears and your doubts and your worries into a corner off to the side, and look at him, focus on him, because you know good and well that this moment could be the last of its kind for the next while.

Slowly, using the time to again cement your composure, you take in the sight of the room — the bags next to the bed and the stacks of books, some settled on top of another and others strewn haphazardly across the floor —, and knowing what what you do, as completely as you do, doesn't do anything to lessen the blow.

It has always been inevitable, as if each day passed and the sun and moon rose and set just to count down the days until he left, and you had known before he'd broken up with you, even before you two had begun dating, that he would one day be saying goodbye. Still, knowing and then seeing the actuality of the matter right in front of your eyes are two very different things, and it's brought that hopelessly sick feeling back; it's twining around your heart, coiling inside of your stomach, scratching along your bones, and the parasite is quickly making its way throughout your whole body.

Harry makes an odd sudden gesture, moving as if he might throw himself on top of the books to keep you from seeing anything you aren't supposed to, but opts to hurriedly pick them up and shove them under the bed instead.

"Er, it's not what it looks like?" he stammers, colouring deeply, and you surprisingly find yourself biting back the urge to just laugh at the ridiculousness of his part statement, part question as you pointedly look out of the window.

The sight has never looked so somber, so grey, so void, as you watch tree leaves sway their melancholy dance and those stunning, almost ethereal lights in the sky pour down on nothing and no one but empty fields and locked up houses.

You remember going out at this time when you were younger to catch fireflies near the pond and blow soap bubbles up into the milky way and sometimes even join Bill (when he had still been living at home and when mum didn't know) for a midnight flight, and you had loved all of those things; looked forward to, and dreamed about, them.

Would it ever be how used to be? Would it ever be anything like it at all? Because yes, you really were too old to do all of the things that you used to back then, but was it so wrong to want to revisit and pretend every now and again all the same? You can't help thinking that Harry would enjoy himself if he could experience it, too, and that's what makes you want it most of all.

"It's fine, Harry," you reassure, but your voice is carrying the nostalgic blue of your thoughts, which you immediately attempt to smother before he can notice. "You don't have to nearly give yourself a heart attack over me, of all people. I'm not here to try and place myself somewhere I don't belong," you continue, stepping only somewhat indecisively to sit on the edge of his bed, and when you finally look at him you realize that something you had said, or perhaps the way you had said it, has roused a frown on his face.

But he doesn't immediately say anything. He straightens up, pushes whatever he had just been holding somewhere behind him with his foot, and his distraught expression, the light glinting so softly off of his glasses, his vibrant eyes trained only on you, inspires the fleeting sensation of being a few months younger, a thousand shades happier, and back in the library oh, so amused as he faltered, attempting to help you with your essays and O.W.L. studies.

Something ugly tells you that you won't ever have that moment again.

"Ginny, it—it isn't that you don't—," he begins, clearly struggling to find the right words, but you just smile an unhappy smile and shake your head.

"When it comes to him," you whisper, not bothering or having to elaborate, "if a person isn't Hermione or my brother, then they don't belong. I know that. So, you don't have to try to protect my feelings or whatever rubbish it is that you're trying to pull," you finish, but he looks only about halfway consoled while you only feel worse.

"It's not that I—that I don't want to tell you, Gin, I know what it's like to be in the dark, but if anything happened to you—," but then his voice dies and he is just watching you as you watch him and you realize, right that moment, that you are both two adults: Two adults with too sad of eyes and too heavy of hearts who have grown up too fast; two adults acting as if they know what they're doing when they don't have the faintest clue.

"Come sit," you suggest as you fiddle with the band of your watch, "and talk with me, Harry."

He blinks several times, looking between you and the bed, and then he turns his head away and clears his throat, apparently finding something on the wall with an unparalleled draw to it. "I don't think, er, I don't think ... Maybe we shouldn't be—," he wavers, breaking off as he scratches the back of his neck, and you give an empty rolling of your eyes.

"Shouldn't be what? Talking? Oh, we'll be forgiven somehow," is your dry reply, and it's more cool than you had intended but you hate this feeling of having to tip toe around him because of what had happened, what was happening, and what would. It's hard to recall the last time when you two had been able to be alone together without the awkward air that always arose now, so hot and stifling and opaque — and it isn't supposed to be like that! It isn't supposed to be that way, this way, between you and him; not when you fit so well together, and not when being apart is this obviously shattering, this painfully wrong.

The room's still silent, the world's still spinning and spinning and spinning, the sky's still full of stars, and gravity is still pulling, but when Harry's shoulders slump and he sits down next to you, only a foot of space between your bodies, something inside of your chest stirs with the awareness of a great change. You can feel the heat of his limbs and you can smell the scent that can only be properly described as Harry and it feels so good, so right, almost exactly as it should be.

"I don't know when you're leaving," you say, all defiant heart and steady gaze and weak knees, as eager as you are scared to tell him what this right now meeting is meant for. "I don't know where—,"

"Ginny ...," he begins to protest, but you pay his interruption no mind as you press on.

"— You're going, I don't know when I'll see you again when you do leave, and I only have a vague idea about what you're going to do but—," but you stop because suddenly your throat is much too tight, the room too fuzzy, and there's that damned stinging behind your eyes. You know that you aren't actually going to cry, that you'll only allow one or two salty confessions into your pillow later on, because you've never been a girl who cried easily or much, and even more than that, you know that any grief shown from you before him would only agonize him further; he doesn't need any more weight on his heart or mind.

Harry's staring at you, a distant part of your mind is wondering whether or not he can see or has any idea about how mixed up you feel inside, and then he's opening his mouth to speak only for nothing to come out, but that isn't anything new at all. Ever since you had first gotten together he had done this — begun to speak, attempted to convey something, only to stop and look at youmore deeply than anyone else ever has before in your life, and the story inside of his eyes would be entirely different from the one falling from his faltering lips.

And he's doing it again: The line of his mouth is telling you to stop, to leave, but his gaze is asking you to stay, and that's what you're doing because while his words could lie and lie and lie, his irises and the set of his eyebrows knew no deceit when it came to you, and it's always been this way; it's infuriating and confusing and absolute nonsense the way he can't just look at you and speak and actually say in words what he means, but it's just another thing that you love about him even though you can't fathom why —

And Godric, Merlin, did you love him! You'll never be able to pin point the time or the place or the words, or if there had even been any; you'll never be able to recall the people surrounding or the date, but all the same, that girlish-fantasy fancy had bloomed into something so much more beautiful and heart-breaking and real, and you had fallen for him as deeply as it was possible to go.

"You'll be careful," you tell him — because it is in no way a mere thought spoken aloud or a question, but a fact and a promise and threat —, and he nods, agrees, because he knows that you won't settle for anything less than his word.

"I'll try."

"And you'll think, you won't rush into things, you won't act rash or do anything that isn't necessary if there is even the slightest risk of danger, right?"

"Y—Yeah," he says, but he stammers and he winces and he's just waiting for you to call him out, but you don't because you're just too frightened to hear his honest reply.

And everything is on fire: "You will think of me ... Even if it's only once, even if it's just for a single moment, every day." Your eyes, burning with tears that will not fall, never fall, jump between his own, and your heart is bruising your ribs, your palms sweating, your skin prickling with promises and insanity and despair — but then he's smiling, softly laughing, and shaking his head as he moves his fiddling hands to lean on them at his sides, the one closest to you hardly a breath away from your own.

He wants to hold your hand and he wants to pull you close, his body language is as obvious as it's always been, so you shift a bit more to your right and his left, and curl your pinkies together. He's surprised, the tips of his ears and cheekbones are dusted with embarrassment and satisfaction, but the small regret that you've been wearily watching sweep across his lines has died.

"You really don't have to worry about that," is how he finally responds, as it goes without saying that you'll be on his mind just as longingly and often as he will be on yours, and in spite of already knowing this, the assurance proves to make everything feel just that bit better. Of course, it's been like this since the beginning, though. It's never taken much for mutual understanding, neither has ever demanded, or wanted for that matter, any grand gestures to prove the others affection true, you've never played the silly little games that seem to occupy most of the minds around you, and you've never needed anything more than grazing hands and magnetic glances to express I love you. You just wore his jumpers when you felt the stinging behind your eyes, and you sat back-to-back with laced fingers and tangled together hair when he needed stability, and you just smiled and smiled and smiled because while it wasn't easy, it was worth it, especially when he looked at you with those possibly-forever's inside of his eyes ...

And you love it all: The simplicity, the bone deep and resounding emotion, how far a glance could go between you two, the way no one else has made you feel the way he has, and how no other boy, no other person, has ever been so flawed and strong and good, larger-than-life and impossibly substantial to you.

"And—And when you come back ...," you swallow thickly, blushing when you realize that you aren't blushing even with what you're about to say, "when you come back ... We can start up again, yeah?"

But his expression has twisted with misery and apologies and all of the things that haven't been said, and his hand has broken from yours to fall into his lap.

"Ginny ...," he sighs, but he won't look at you anymore. "I can't — God, there's so much I wish I could tell you! I wish—I wish I could at least give you an answer for that, but I can't. I can't!" And his hands are pulling at the roots of his hair, his voice is desperation and confusion and lost, and you just can't bare it.

"Why?" you urge. "Why can't you answer me? It's a simple question, Harry — Either you want to be with me or you don't!"

He turns, eyebrows high and nostrils flared, and his anger is palpable: "Ginny, it's not that easy! Don't you realize that if it was, we wouldn't even be here, talking about this, right now?" he demands, but your muscles are stiff and your jaw clenched and you are just as furious, but even more recklessly so.

"You're saying that," you whisper harshly, "because you think you're going to die, aren't you?"

And he cringes the same as you do, but he's looking at you so chillingly steady, his taut face so uncharacteristically grim even for him, that you know — but, of course, you already knew — that your words are the truth.

"Just because I'm the Boy Who Lived," he says finally, quietly, uttering the title as if it were poison, "it doesn't make me immune—,"

And everything breaks: "I know that, Harry!"

Suddenly you're up, and you think you might be shouting, but you don't really care. Fire has ignited inside of you like electricity, quakes of emotion are twisting in your stomach and clawing at your heart and shattering like glass underneath your skin, and all you can see is his green and furious red because you just want to hex him for thinking that title had anything to do with this for even amoment!

"This has nothing to do with your name or your past or any superficial things that identify what you are to everyone else — I'm talking about you, not the Chosen One or the boy who is still here despite Voldemort — You, Harry! You! And you can't die because then I'll still be here!" (And you're feather-light and floating just for one suspended moment as everything spills out.) "I'll still be here, waiting for you," you cry, "and it will be pointless because you'll be gone and I won't ever have a chance! Do you understand, Harry? Do you?" And you know, you know that you must look absolutely crazy as you stand there and shout with your unbrushed hair hanging loose all around you and your flushed face and crackling glare, but it doesn't matter because you can make out through your blurring vision that he's staring at you as if he's never seen you before, and he doesn't understand at all.

"Ginny ...,"

"If you think this is about making me wait, then you can cut that rubbish out right this instant because I've already had to wait for you in some way or another for fifteen years, and if you would just answer me then I would happily wait for another fifteen if it meant being with you!"

Harry's gaping up at you, his mouth opening and closing but not making a sound, and there is some sort of heat pulsating inside of his eyes, which you probably wouldn't be able to decipher even if you were thinking straight. "Don't—,"

But you wave his throaty murmur aside — Why can't he understand?

"Harry, listen to me and stop treating me like I'm a child! I may not fully understand what's going on or know completely what you've gone through, but that's your choice, and I've chosen with mine that I'm going to stay by your side! I'm not a little girl," you needlessly spit, he wouldn't be looking at you the way he was if he thought you were, but you do believe that he needs a small reminder. "Did you think — do you think — that I walked into this and into us blind? Did you think that I didn't know that something like this was going to happen? Did you think that, even after being with you for months, I wouldn't have had a clue? 'Cause you are so unbelievably wrong if you did, Harry! So wrong. Everything — Do you even realize how often you tell me goodbye?" you beseech, when suddenly your legs are all but giving way beneath you and you're collapsing back onto the bed; your anger has resided as quickly as it came, leaving behind this giant swell of sadness that was spreading like a bruise throughout your lungs, collecting in the back of your throat, sinking all the way down to the bottom of your spine.

"Harry ...," you whisper scorchingly. "Harry, every time you open your mouth to speak but don't, every time you look at me the way you are now, every time you take my hand," and you slip both of yours into his and revel in the tangibility of his warmth and long, long fingers and callouses, "and every time you kiss me ... You're always saying goodbye."

Then, before he can blink, you've retracted your hands and removed your watch and are reaching for his again, pressing the cool metal deep into his palm; he starts at the shock of the object but he doesn't say anything, doesn't turn away from you for even the most fleeting of seconds, doesn't appear to even completely register what you've done.

You swallow, grit your teeth, grasp him too tightly and never tightly enough: "You're always saying goodbye, Harry, and I don't understand why because there is never going to be a last time or an end when it comes to us — Don't you know?" (And you think that he still hasn't sincerely grasped it, but you can feel that the spaces between you are hollowing, making room for what you so desperately want to believe is hope.) "There is always going to be a next time, and there is always going to be a hello, so, Godric, if we're going to go on and on and on, then it makes no sense to tell me goodbye, right? Do you understand, Harry? I don't want to hear goodbye from you, never from you, and I don't want you to even think about it because I'll know when you look at me and when you kiss me and when you choke on your own words, and I—I'll hex you if that's what it'll take to make you stop! I already told you that I'll wait, and I will. I'm not as fragile as you seem to think, so just—just tell me hello! Tell me 'hello,' and 'I've missed you so much,' when you look at me and kiss me and take my hand and try to say words that you can't because it doesn't have to change, this doesn't have to be goodbye, no time has to pass!"

Even as he protests, you can see in his expression the emotion that you love best: "I can't stay," he says, but you just smile; you're not sure about how it looks or of which feelings are behind it, but it's there, and it isn't making him look bothered or regretful or sad.

"Look," you tell him, drawing his attention to the watch, and both your voice and hands are trembling in ways you don't believe you've ever experienced before; you're embarrassed until he reaches out and steadies you.

Harry's large eyes search yours: "You—Your watch ...? Why—?"

"The watch ... Its hands are moving with every second, minute and hour, counting all the time that's passing by, you see?" you ask, although it's pointless because of course he does; he's hanging onto your every word, and staring and staring and staring, but he doesn't seem to know where you're going yet.

"This watch will keep on ticking, these hands continue moving, until the day you leave ... But when you go, the moment I can't see you anymore, I'm going to take the battery out, and it will stay out until you come back — until you come back and until I see you again and until you can stay," you whisper, your words interrupted by little exhalations that you can't stop; small breaths carrying out bulks of everything intangible inside of you, saving you from exploding from the sheer mass of feeling. "Harry, I'll stop time for you, I'll stop time for us, and I'll start it again once you're back — okay? Is that okay? Then we won't have to have to say goodbye because no time will pass, and what matters won't have to change, and neither will we. So, now you can tell me hello, Harry. You can always tell me hello, and it never has to be goodbye—," but you can't speak any longer when his mouth is so earnestly demanding yours.

Then he is saying it — he has pulled you close and his hands are holding your face, fingers moving to lose themselves within your shower damp hair, and it's hello, hello, hello against your lips and lingering, hot, passionately tender kisses —, and it's this moment that finally gives you hope, gives you strength, and the incentive to believe that everything will be okay.

scene ii

then it won't really matter the days, months, years that pass —

He's alone when you enter the dormitory, sitting there on one of the beds with his back turned to the windows overlooking the grounds. His eyes are closed, his head leaning back against the end post, and each line of his body is silhouetted with exhaustion.

Never have you seen a hero look so defeated in your life.

You trace his face with your hungry eyes, mapping out the slightly hollowed cheeks and nearly fluorescent bruises and bloody cuts smudged with soil, taking in his ripped clothes and scarred soul and innocence lost and features which have in these past months made their complete transition from boy to man, and you ache. Seeing him has thrown your emotions into stark clarity and made you realize just how dearly you've missed him; but the castle's in ruins and everyone, even the people who are still standing, have somehow died, and it's so wrong and strange that you could have just felt as if you'd been carved out from the inside in one moment, only to see him and feel the beginnings of long forgotten butterflies in the next.

Distantly, you wonder if it does or does not make you somewhat awful to feel this scalding love even amongst all of your grief, but it's hard to feel badly about it when he's the only one who makes you feel as if all of these wrongs will someday, somehow, be all right.

As you close the door, you're struck with déjà vu and memories coming back, and it's almost like last time, you're both as much the same as you are different, but it's okay because your heart still only starves for him.

He opens his eyes when you stop in front of him, and seeing you there doesn't appear to surprise him — instead, he adopts that look of mourning and apology and sad, sad longing that you had grown accustomed to seeing, and detesting, last summer — but you can see hurts that go beyond flesh and bone, too, and you can't help wondering whether or not you'll ever be able to take any of those blemishes away.

"You can stay now," you say, your voice strong as you blink your swollen eyes, and you clench your hands into fists.

Quietly: "Yeah."

His voice goes right down, down, down as his gaze pierces through you.

"You can be with me."

"If you want me to be," he replies, but the look from a moment ago is back.

You close the distance and he winces when you raise your hand but doesn't look away. For one wild, dying moment you consider actually slapping him the way he's waiting for you to, maybe punishing him for making you believe that he was dead for the few most excruciating minutes of your life, but the thought is gone before it can even take root, and you've bared your wrist to him instead.

His eyes leave yours for the first time and shift to the face of your watch, nestled amongst your freckled skin and branching veins.

"The hands are counting the seconds again, moving with time," you whisper, and you realize that you're crying but it's okay now; it's over and he's right here and you may be strong but you're not indestructible.

It's a gorgeous, how-it-should-be blur while you hold each other and he kisses you and you both whisper again and again: "Hello, I've missed you so much," and "I love you," because even though those truths are things you already know, sometimes they hold too much to not make sure that they're properly shown. When he buries his face in your neck, clutching you to him as if he'll never let you go, and you feel tears against your skin, you web your fingers through his hair and murmur his name and hold him because sometimes saviours need a little saving, too.

And the moment seems endless, but that's fine when you have all the time in the world, and the room is silent but for your gentle breaths, your harmonized hearts, and your watch singing tick, tick, tick.

because in the end, it's only sand slipping through glass —

A/N. Please, do not favourite this without leaving a review! :)