"...Coming, Ginny?"

"No, thanks, I said I'd meet Dean", said Ginny, though Harry could not help noticing that she did not sound very enthusiastic.

- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, p.352

That Harry Potter sure had balls.

Ginny Weasley sat on her bedroom's windowsill, her legs pulled up and her head leaning back against the side of the window, looking out into the pastoral landscape where everything - even the white blanket of snow - was tinged midnight blue by the scant moon. It was warm inside as it was cold outside, her dad having come in earlier - as he was wont to do since she was nigh years old - to put heating charms in the room and kiss her goodnight. Thus she was only wearing her striped blue and silver pajamas and a shirt that the twins had given her last summer that said "Nuff Fuckwittage!" in flashing colors that dim once she had fallen asleep. Her mum hated it and wouldn't let her wear it in public but all her dorm mates loved it and wanted to know where they could get one (it was actually a souvenir from one of the twins' buying trips in Muggle London, the magical improvements they made themselves).

She had long ago tried to go to sleep but, try as she might, her brain just wouldn't shut down. Ginny couldn't help but run the events of that day in her head. In the end she gave up, rose out of bed, and climbed onto the window sill.

The day started auspiciously enough. As it was Christmas Day, all of them had a late morning having a lie-in and opening up Christmas presents so that by the time everyone had gone down to the kitchen, it was nearly lunch time. She would have loved to have given Harry a Christmas gift, and would have been even more grateful had she received one from him, but sadly they were not that kind of friends. Yes, they had been friendly, but alas, they were not really friends, not in the strictest sense of the word. And so when she saw the maggot in Harry's hair, which she was to learn later from Ron was courtesy of Kreacher's Christmas gift, she leaned over and picked it out without second thoughts. She laughed inside at the thought that "You've got a maggot in your hair!" was the most she could say to Harry by way of a Christmas greeting.

She didn't even touch him! And yet she felt goosebumps rise up her arms. Thank Merlin he didn't notice the look that passed between her and her Mum soon after, her Mum's face remaining inscrutable as she took a sip from her pumpkin juice. Then Ginny felt the maggot disappear from her fingers and a slight tingling sensation in her hands - a Scourgify? - Mum had always been a stickler for clean hands especially when sitting at meals.

Then the fuckwittage in the persons of the Minister of Magic and Percy arrived, and when the true purpose for their visit was revealed, it was all Ginny could do to hex Percy right then and there. Couldn't he see that he was breaking Mum's heart?

Across the table in front of her, she watched Remus fidget, his forehead wrinkled with worry, as he frequently made to stand up and stretch his neck to try and look outside the window; none of them, except Mum and Percy, could peer out the kitchen window and see what had been happening. Dad's ears had become dangerously maroon, his face gone hard. Ron sat back in his chair, his arms crossed, a very ugly expression on his face as he stared hard at Percy the Insufferable Git. Her own face must've mirrored the twins' scowls. And though Bill didn't show it, she knew that her eldest brother was as displeased with Percy as any of them. But Ginny was sure that despite his laidback posture, Bill was as ready as anything to intervene in an instant. He would never allow an exchange of spells on Molly's dining table.

But Ginny neither has her father's brand of kindness (he's simply not the type of wizard who'd raise a wand against his own children) nor patience, nor Bill's equanimity, nor Ron's restraint to hex - or lamp - a brother in front of their mother. And, it was Harry. So Ginny did the next best thing short of casting her (in)famous Bat-Bogey Hex against Percy, and that was to throw parsnip on his face. And Ginny didn't regret it either, especially after she'd heard what Scrimgeour tried to demand of Harry.

But Harry showed the him, and showed him how! Imagine walking out on the Minister for Magic like that! And Scrimgeour was no pushover either, he was the former Head of Auror, for Merlin's sake, and yet Harry had the gumption to turn his back on the old lionhead. Talk about having bollocks!

And yet Ginny wanted nothing more at that time than to run to him and give him comfort in any way she possibly could, but he was not hers and so she just stood there, watching him, ready to offer him a smile the moment he looked her way. Imagine her surprise then, when Harry, who stood back silently scanning each of their faces as Ron sputtered indignantly against Scrimgeour, gave her a small reassuring smile instead as his brilliant green eyes landed on her.

And it was that smile, more than anything, that was causing her to stay up this late. Despite the stress Scrimgeour's visit had obviously given him (he kept clenching his jaws), he had room enough in his heart to what, comfort, her?

Ginny took a deep breath, leaned forward and hugged her knees. She began picking at a stray thread on the seam of her pajamas.

What are you doing, Ginny? she asked herself. Why are you still with Dean? She knew it was not because of lack of trying. After Harry and Ron had caught them kissing behind that tapestry, she tried hinting at taking a break for a while but Dean would hear none of it. Worse, it seemed to have spurned Dean on and his hands had begun to wander. He seemed to think it had given them license to be more "adventurous".

"Well, your brother already knows about us!" he once said angrily after she spurned his advances for a snogging session. "Your brother has to accept the fact that you're growing up! That you've grown-up!"

But Ginny could not be convinced. Somehow she felt guilty. She could not soon forget Harry's reaction that day: the shock on his face, the displeased look he gave Dean, his distant demeanor. It had started to feel like she was cheating on Harry whenever she was with Dean.

But Dean had become more petulant the more she spurned his advances and had actually hinted that maybe she wanted to snog someone else. And although he didn't say it out loud, (their relationship would have ended right then and there) they both knew who exactly he was hinting at - Ginny's earlier crush on Harry was no secret at Hogwarts. So just to shut him up, she agreed to kiss him though her heart wasn't in it. But when Dean tried to put his hands inside her jumper, she just couldn't help herself and actually whacked him on the head, forgetting that she was being raised by Molly Weasley to be a lady. But she couldn't shake off the sense of violation she felt. He was just not allowed.

And it could no longer be denied either that all she and Dean ever seemed to do these days was fight. The week before Slughorn's ball, Ginny had been in a particularly bad mood. She knew she was causing Dean no small amount of confusion with her short tempers, but she couldn't have possibly told him that the reason for her bad mood was that she was anxious of who Harry might be bringing as a date to Slughorn's Christmas party. Harry had always been pretty closed up: until he revealed he asked Cho Chang to the Yule Ball, he had given no sign at all that he fancied her. And so, Ginny began ticking off in her head the girls most likely to have caught Harry's eye. And it was that thought, that Harry had found someone new he wanted, that had caused her a lot of grief. Worse, she had been half-afraid that that cow Romilda Vane would succeed in slipping Harry a love potion - in which case, Ginny was certain, she would have cursed Romilda to kingdom come, Harry notwithstanding, boyfriend or no. Thus it was to her great relief when she heard that it was Luna Harry had chosen to go out with. As. A. Friend. It was a miracle she didn't stand up on her desk and jumped like a maniac the moment Luna confirmed to her the news in their Charms class. Instead she leaned over and hugged Luna and whispered in her friend's ear, "I'm happy for you" by which she also meant she was happy for herself.

Yet the problem remained. Dean would no sooner let her go than join the Death Eaters. And neither could she break up with him without offering him any justifiable reason.

The thing was, after Harry had hugged her after their game against the Slytherins, Ginny found herself wishing anew that she could be with him.

She couldn't stop thinking about it. The Embrace (yes, it had become an entity, complete with its own capital letters). She had never seen Harry hug anyone of his own accord, not even Hermione. It had always been Hermione or her Mum or even Phlegm who would initiate the hug. She seldom saw him touch people - no doubt, a holdover from his life with the Dursleys. So for him to show his approbation of her actions that way, well, let's just say, it had more than given her pause.

But ever since, she found herself looking for more and more ways to touch him. And she did, too, though she hoped that she hadn't been rather too obvious about it. But Ginny couldn't help herself. It was like an addictive potion. She only had but a taste of one, and now she was hooked. She idly thought whether she should start zooming around the corridors of Hogwarts on her Cleansweeps and ramming into people she knew annoyed Harry just to see if she could elicit more hugs from him.

How she envied Hermione! The bushy-haired witch did not even realize how lucky she was to be close enough to Harry that she could touch him so casually, so familiarly. Ginny used to often see them walking along Hogwarts corridors, Hermione with one hand on Harry's shoulder while the other held on to Ron's biceps. Oh how she wished she was close enough to Harry that she could just as freely touch him, whenever and wherever she wanted to.

Once, she saw Harry immediately pull Hermione back as she absent-mindedly stepped on that trick staircase at Hogwarts and Ginny felt the keenest form of envy: it was quite obvious that Harry cared enough about Hermione that his response to her safety had become instinctive. She wondered if Harry would ever care just as much about her. She sighed. If only he could just return a portion of what she felt for him...

But he risked his own life to save yours! Wasn't that enough? A snide voice echoed in her head. Yes, but that was just him being Harry, wasn't he? It's just his people-saving thing kicking in, she answered vehemently back. Ginny wanted more, she wanted Harry to care for her, not as Ron's younger sister, or her mum's precious daughter, but as herself, just her, Ginny.

Sighing, she looked out the window. She couldn't make out anything beyond the dark outline of trees that ringed the Burrow.

She remembered that time she heard Colin Creevey singing at Hogwarts - a song by a Muggle called Frank Sinistra or something and was supposedly one of his dad's favorites, and two things struck her at that time: one, Colin had an impossibly girly singing voice and two, when he came to the part "...To fight for the right without question or pause to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause..." she immediately thought of Harry and how the song applied to him. She told Colin this and he immediately replied "I know. Why else do you think I'm singing it?" Colin could be so gay sometimes.

She now knew, that if she were to meet Harry for the first time, she would be attracted to him instantly, knowing the kind of man he was turning out to be.

Sometimes she saw that in Dean: some of the traits she admired in Harry. And perhaps that was what attracted her to him in the first place. But what Dean had in starts, Harry had in spades - his bravery, his independent-mindedness, his high-principles. Not that Dean had any less of these qualities; it was just that Harry embodied them. Nobody could call Harry anybody's stooge, not even Dumbledore's, whom Harry had been known to scream at from time to time. And that was what she liked best about Harry. He was his own person; she just couldn't stand men who bend their noses for anything other than what was right. Her father didn't and neither did Bill. And she just didn't see why she should settle for any one less.

Because that was exactly how they had been raised: Charlie could have played professional Quidditch but chose to follow his dream instead. He could have been famous and wealthy and have women throwing themselves at him but he chose instead to do what he had always wanted to do. So he went and worked with dragons instead. Some people would call it being barmy, she would call it obeying your heart. For if there was anything their parents had taught them, that would be to never settle for a compromise: to never dream any less, want any less, love any less.

And she loved Harry. She knew that now. No matter how hard she tried, she could not not love him. It was not a matter of choice, not something she had control over. It was unbending. And unending...

She drew another deep breath and looked down her feet. Just then an owl hooted somewhere far off in the distance and she turned her head towards the sound. Hedwig? The snowy white owl must be off hunting again for the night but Ginny knew she would eventually return back to Harry. She always did. And Ginny offered a silent plea to Harry's faithful companion: Carry my love to him, will you? Carry my love back to him, Hedwig...