Title: "A Mighty Paradox"
Author: Emmyjean (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Classification: H/G, Harry POV
Summary: Sequel to Part One. This time it's Harry's thoughts.
Spoilers: Through Goblet of Fire
Notes: Everything belongs to Rowling.
Part Two – Harry
Harry fastened the clasp on his crimson Quidditch cloak and grabbed his Firebolt, ready to follow the rest of his team out onto the field. This was the final game of the season, and Gryffindor was playing Slytherin for the Quidditch Cup. He couldn't exactly say he was nervous, but he was suspicious at what underhanded measures the other team might take in order to secure victory. Sighing, he decided he would just have to be prepared for everything.
- The doors to the pitch opened, and he flew out alongside the keeper as was the usual formation. His stomach tingled and his spirits soared as they always did when he was riding his Firebolt through the crisp spring air...he inhaled deeply as he made the customary lap around the field, sure that he could smell the newly blossomed flowers which adorned the Hogwarts grounds. He was coming back around now, passing the cheering Gryffindor stands. He slowed imperceptibly as his eyes darted back and forth across the crowd...he spotted Ron easily with his red hair, but it wasn't Ron's red hair that he was looking for. For a terrifying split second, as his eyes scanned the crowd again, he thought she hadn't come. Then, a wave of relief washed over him as he saw her.
Ginny Weasley. Sitting in the back row alone, as she always did. Harry didn't know why she chose to do this, as there were dozens of people she could sit with, but she was always in almost the exact same spot nevertheless. She was wearing a gray woolen hat, which covered her hair and had thrown him off at first...but he'd recognize her face anywhere.
He spent practically every chance he got memorizing it. As he got into position above the rest of the team, he smiled to himself at the thought of Ginny - her warm, laughing brown eyes, her button nose spattered with light freckles, her ever-smiling mouth...her hair. He had taken to noticing the hair color of every other girl who attended Hogwarts, and always came to the same conclusion - none of them, no shade he had seen since he began noticing, held a candle to Ginny's bright red waves.
The Quaffle was released, and so he began searching for the Snitch while simultaneously trying to avoid Malfoy. He had been playing Quidditch so long that he didn't need to really concentrate all that hard - he could spot the little golden glimmer quite easily on sunny days like this. As a result, his mind lapsed back into thinking about Ginny.
He didn't know when he had started to feel these things about Ron's sister, but he suspected it must have been ages ago. One day, the day she had come with her father to get him from the Dursleys, it had just hit him...and the intensity of the feelings he had for her shocked him. He had been glad to see Mr. Weasley after a miserable summer spent with his aunt and uncle, but he had been overjoyed to see Ginny. Since then, he had been trying his damndest to keep the feelings to himself for many reasons. He figured Ron would find it awkward to have his best friend persuing his little sister, and he also didn't want to put Ginny at risk any more than she already was by associating with her on a more intimate level. Voldemort and his supporters were after him, and who knows what methods they would resort to in order to get to him.
For this reason, he knew that Ginny Weasley believed he didn't know she existed. She didn't know that he had come to care about her more than he could vocalize, even if he had been allowed to do so. She didn't know that he watched her more than she ever watched him, and that he knew almost everything he could about her. He knew that she always picked the onions out of her food, that she was a decent dancer, and that she fed treats to the neighbor's dog Harvey when she thought no one was looking. He knew she had a single dimple in one of her cheeks when she smiled, and that she bit her thumbnails when she was nervous about something.
She didn't know that he lay in his bed at night and wondered desperately if she still had the feelings for him that she once had, and thinking miserably about what he would do if she didn't. He thought about what would happen after Voldemort wasn't a threat to him or the people he loved anymore, if that day ever came...the freedom he would then have to persue things he hadn't been able to before. He listened to Ron's soft snoring and practiced telling him that he wanted Ginny, and imagined all the scenarios he could come up with as to how that announcement would be taken.
He didn't dare imagine anything beyond that, and even these thoughts were reigned in to a certain extent. He couldn't afford to let himself become so overwhelmed with wishful thinking...not now. Not yet.
Suddenly, he saw the tiny golden glint near the ground that meant the Snitch, and he was glad for the temporary respite from his thoughts. He hated thinking about all this, in as much as he couldn't help it. The Quidditch field used to be a place where he could lose his mind to the game, and not think about anything beyond his duty as Seeker...but apparently, this wasn't true anymore.
Diving, he felt the rush of exhileration in knowing that the game was won, even if he hadn't technically caught the little golden ball yet. He would catch it...he always did. It was sometimes the one complete confidence that still existed in his life, and he relished it when he got the opportunity. Rising back up, the Snitch clamped tightly in his right fist, Harry was rewarded with being able to watch everyone's reaction. His teammates came flying over to surround him, Malfoy went even redder in the face than the rest of the Slytherins, the stands were deafening.
Harry's eyes left the beaming faces of the team and traveled instinctively over the cheering crowd...he couldn't see her. She was hidden behind the standing ovation the Gryffindor team was receiving. Smiling, he considered that even if she stood up with the rest of them, she would still be hidden from view...she was so small. Still, he knew that she was rejoicing as loudly as any of them.
He barely got time to shower and change before being bustled back with the rest of the team to Gryffindor Tower. He smiled as he walked through the portrait hole and was confronted with every kind of food that could be lifted from the kitchens, spread out over the window table. He might have known there was going to be a party.
"Great catch, Harry, as always," Dean said as he clapped him on the back. Harry shot a grin back at his friend and set about wandering through the crowd and talking to people. Ron and Hermione approached him soon enough, and Hermione was beaming.
"You won us the cup, Harry!"
Harry shook his head ruefully and replied, "I didn't do it on my own. The whole team was great."
Ron rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, we know all that...but you sealed it. Just say 'thanks' and move on."
Harry smirked and said, "Thanks and move on."
The three of them stood there talking about various things for what seemed like an hour before Harry let his gaze wander around the room...first idly, and then a second time with his brows furrowed in concern.
"Hey, Ron...where's your sister?"
Ron looked up from his tray of pumpkin pasties and frowned in confusion as he scanned the room himself.
Hermione sighed and replied, "No, your OTHER sister."
Ron scowled at her and then looked at Harry again, shrugging his shoulders, "I dunno. Maybe she went to bed already."
Harry craned his neck and looked out across the occupants of the room one last time, his worry increasing as he confirmed that she was nowhere to be seen. He wanted to argue with Ron, to tell him that he hadn't seen her come through the portrait hole...but that would make it seem as though he was waiting for her to do so. Even if he was, he didn't want anyone else to know that.
After about ten more minutes passed with no sign of her, Harry became increasingly annoyed with Ron. His sister was missing, and all he could do was sit there and eat? He decided that he would simply go looking for her himself and moved toward the portrait hole, making conversation with people who approached him while trying to think of an excuse to use for leaving.
As it turned out, it wasn't neccesary. At that moment, the portrait swung open and Ginny herself stepped through. She had taken her hat off by now, and her bright hair was adorably messy. She glanced around the room and Harry watched as her gaze fell upon her friends in the corner, who were beckoning her to join them. She smiled and nodded, then began to make her way over to where they were sitting. Suddenly, Harry was overcome with the need to talk to her...just for a minute. He had to do it now, or he wouldn't get another chance once she joined her friends. He grabbed a bottle of butterbeer from the table beside him. What harm could it do, after all?
The word was out of his mouth before he had time to rethink his intention. She turned, searching for the owner of the voice that had called her, and her face registered a generous amount of surprise when she saw that it was him. He walked toward her, knowing he shouldn't do this, yet at the same time convincing himself that there was nothing the matter with a bit of conversation. He held out the full bottle to her, and she took it hesitantly.
"Where have you been?" he asked in a quiet voice, adding at the last minute, "I...well, some of us were starting to worry."
She smiled slightly and glanced at Ron. Harry winced internally as he realized Ron hadn't even noticed she had entered, and didn't exactly embody anyone's mental image of a worried individual. Ginny's brow was marred with a slight confused frown as she replied,
"Oh...yes, I'm sorry. I was just sitting in the stands, thinking."
Harry nodded, and then asked, "About what?"
The minute the question was out, he wished he could draw it back in somehow. He sounded eager and too interested in her doings...why couldn't he have simply handed her the butterbeer, inquired politely about her whereabouts, and then left it at that? He sighed silently as he admitted he knew the answer, and that if he could live this conversation over again he would do the same thing. He wanted to talk to her so badly, to let her know that she wasn't at all insignificant to him as she thought she was, that it was almost torture to sit with her every day in the Great Hall, knowing he couldn't do it. He couldn't just start a conversation with her, not while Ron and Hermione were there. It wasn't his place...and he hated it.
"Oh, nothing specific. Just...things," she was answering vaguely, no doubt bewildered as to his sudden interest in her life, as small as it may seem compared to all the things he wanted to say to her.
He nodded absently as he looked up and let his eyes roam about the room. He felt as though everyone was watching them, even though it was a ridiculous thought. The only two people for whom this silly, meaningless conversation meant anything at all were the ones having it. He glanced over at Ron nevertheless, making sure he was still distracted with Seamus and Hermione. Assessing that he still had a few more minutes before they would start wondering where he had got to, Harry asked abruptly,
"Why do you sit all the way in the back?"
"What?" she asked, her voice a tad squeaky.
He continued to stare at Ron for a moment, and when he turned his eyes back to her face he found her regarding him with bald astonishment. He could feel himself getting hot in the face, and cursed himself for the fiftieth time that night for opening his big mouth. He hadn't truly meant to ask her this, and it was almost as if he had accidentaly voiced what he was thinking...even though he truly wanted the answer to this question. He quickly clarified,
"I mean, you always sit by yourself, in the back row of the stands at Quidditch matches. I was just...I dunno, wondering why."
He knew he had given himself away. Maybe she wouldn't have the nerve to actually assume he walked out onto the pitch every week and actually looked for her in the stands, even though it would be the truth. Maybe she wouldn't dare assume that...but the thought just made him more angry that he had to act as though this kind of thing was impossible. He wanted her to assume that. He wanted her to know.
Before he could think any more about it, she suddenly lurched forward and fell right into him. For one brief, unbearable second, he thought she had done it on purpose, and his hands went up to grasp her forearms. Then he realized that it was merely the fault of Parvati Patil, who had shoved past them in order to rush loudly over to someone she wanted to greet. He glared at the back of her head, knowing she didn't realize the turmoil she had caused in his overly-stressed mind. He looked back down at Ginny...and became momentarily lost in her eyes. They held shock, and embarrassment...and adoration. She still had feelings for him...he could read it plainly in her beautiful brown eyes. He swallowed, suddenly afraid of what he might do next.
All at once, she spared him of having to make the decision by stepping back, her cheeks coloring with pink as she straightened her robes.
"Umm...good game," she commented mildly, apparently struggling for something to say. Harry, still lost in thought, replied automatically,
She gave him one last nervous smile before turning and going to sit with her friends. He went back to his friends as well, but couldn't help watching her like a hawk for the rest of the night. He didn't even care all that much if anyone noticed...which they didn't. He didn't know what he was going to do now...now that he was sure she still held the feelings for him she once had, the same ones that had once embarrassed him beyond belief. Now, they overjoyed and frightened him at the same time. He thought and thought, not coming up with any brilliant solution for all the work he was putting into it. All at once, he realized hours had passed, and Ginny was moving toward the staircase to the dorms. Suddenly, he knew he couldn't let the night end like that...he had to say something else. One more thing, and then he could work on undoing the damage tomorrow. Walking nonchalantly over to the staircase just as she started going up, he called in a low voice,
He didn't smile...this was no laughing matter. He was completely serious, and he held her gaze as he watched her register this in her mind. He didn't want her to mistake his intention, even if it was the safe route. He wanted her to know...or at least he wanted to plant the idea in her head.
She shouldn't think it was impossible for him to care about her. She shouldn't.
"Goodnight, Harry," she replied with a soft smile, and then turned and went the rest of the way to her room. He watched her until she disappeared from sight, and then stood there for a good couple of minutes looking at nothing in particular. That night, when the party was long over and everyone else had gone to bed, Harry sat in the common room thinking about all that had happened that night. He didn't want to be with her...not if it meant putting her in danger. Why had he let himself become careless, then?
He gazed into the fire as he felt his eyelids droop in fatigue. It was because he wanted her to know he was interested. He didn't want her to discount the possibility. He was planning to make it up to her later, when all this was over...and he wanted her to know it, to some small degree.
Maybe then she'd wait for him. She wouldn't try to quash her feelings for him, thinking he didn't care at all about her. Smiling, he thought contentedly that he had accomplished this, at least. Resting his head against the back of his chair, he allowed himself to be overcome with sleep, knowing for once that it would not bring nightmares.
More Fic By Emmyjean at:
The Hidden Tower