Harry sat under the shade of a tree, watching the activities of the others in discontent. They'd just finished his part of the wedding rehearsal a few minutes ago when they outlined his job as an usher. As he wasn't in the wedding party there hadn't been much to learn except where to show the guests. Now Mrs. Weasley was encouraging them to mingle with the Delacours as they enjoyed their lunch and practice their steps. Since Harry had never been enthusiastic about dancing and had no intention of partaking in it tomorrow (and as it was his birthday and he was entitled to a little leeway), Mrs. Weasley had graciously allowed him to beg out of the festivities. She was at the moment engrossed in assisting Ron and Hermione as they danced an approximation of a waltz. He could see them blushing under her ministrations and decided not to speculate what the well-meaning matron was suggesting to them.
Harry huffed his aggravation mulishly. He still felt the entire wedding thing was wrong. Not for Bill and Fleur of course, he was sure they'd be happy together. It was him mucking things up. He'd felt the urge to move, to leave the comfort and familiarity of the Burrow, to do anything that might help him defeat Voldemort ever since he'd arrived, but now the Trace was finally gone it had grown stronger. Didn't they see that every moment with him put them at risk? Couldn't Mrs. Weasley understand there were more important things he should be doing?
His frustration peaked as the pain in his scar flared. Harry rubbed at it vigorously. The damn thing had been fluctuating all week, making him feel once again like an aerial tuned in to Voldemort's emotions (something he hadn't experienced since those awful Occlumency lessons). Since his escape from Privet Drive, the anger, the most painful and powerful of Voldemort's limited range of emotions, had drastically increased in frequency and intensity. Trying to push the rogue feelings away, he cast his gaze around the yard for some distraction.
His eyes met Ginny's. They stayed on him in shock for a moment before she shifted fluidly back into conversation with her fellow bridesmaid Gabrielle and her mother Mrs. Delacour. While both guests shone with their Veela heritage, it was Ginny he couldn't look away from. Although she wasn't wearing the bridesmaid dress she would tomorrow, she was undeniably gorgeous. She had on an emerald green halter top paired with a deep purple skirt that fell just below her knees and swirled when she moved. It was the slightly odd yet pretty kind of style she normally wore when not at Hogwarts. Her enchanting ginger hair was held back by a clip and there was the lightest dusting of makeup on her face, barely visible from his distance. He could tell though. He'd spent hours tracing her features, he could recognize even the slight difference in the shade of her lipgloss.
He swallowed thickly and stared at his knees, the memories of earlier flooding his brain. The pain in his scar receded to a dull throb.
She'd kissed him. A head spinning, dazzling, wonderful kiss. It had been unlike anything he'd experienced before. Harry wasn't quite sure what had made this kiss stand out so much. If he was being honest with himself they'd had more passionate snogs on the grounds of Hogwarts, hands roaming and tongues clashing sort of snogs. Not that this one was chaste by any means, but somehow it had felt more powerful than the rest, more meaningful. It didn't make much sense. Perhaps he had simply forgotten how brilliant it was to be with her.
Oh Merlin, how he missed her! The world was in turmoil and his mind was consumed with all things Ginny. He wanted to take her in his arms and get lost in her flowery scent. He wanted to turn back time and stay in those stolen spring afternoons forever.
He wondered if she felt the same. Before that morning he wouldn't have guessed. Aside from holding his hand as they'd waited for the others to arrive, and that dreadful conversation last night when he'd joked about killing Voldemort, she hadn't given any indication she thought of him. Ron said she'd been 'cut up' about their break-up, but he sure hadn't seen it.
Just as well. Harry didn't want her to waste her life away waiting for him. He was facing a near impossible task with so little to go on. It could take years to find and destroy all the Horcruxes. If he even made it to the end. Ginny deserved a clean slate.
The image of her and some mystery man kissing at an altar rose to his mind again. His scar gave another painful thump and he kneaded it with his knuckles.
"Irritated?" A familiar and beautiful voice asked. Harry looked up to see Ginny leaning casually against the tree. He stared at her in surprise, both over her sudden appearance and how well she sensed his mood. "You're rubbing your scar, I've noticed you doing it when you're agitated." She elaborated simply. His hand dropped limply to his lap.
"How did you—"
"—I was obsessed with you for the better part of three years," She interrupted him wryly, "I think I know a thing or two about you." Harry was startled; she did not usually speak about her former crush on him.
"Three…?" He asked first, mentally checking the number, before shaking his head and muttering almost defensively, "You weren't obsessed." Ginny sighed, taking a seat on the grass despite her nice skirt and looking at him as if he were very naive.
"Harry, I had a picture of you under my pillow." He was surprised and stared at her for a moment. At his questioning look she explained, "Colin gave it to me. It was one of the rare ones he sprung on you where you smile." He wasn't sure how to react until he remembered something and decided to level the field.
"I still have that get well card you made me." She was visibly taken aback.
"What? The one that shrilled?" He shrugged, trying to downplay it.
"Yeah. I never really got gifts the first half of my life so I don't really throw them away. It's stuck halfway in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3. The charms worn off now though." He told her.
She was watching him, calculating, before remarking offhandedly, "I bet you didn't kiss it before you went to sleep." His mouth fell open but he shut it quickly. No, he hadn't, but he could remember those difficult nights when she was still with Dean and Ron was already snoring. He would open that spell book and look at the reminder that she had once liked him, even a little. That was the past however, and in the here and now Ginny was staring at him. He began to fidget, wondering what response she wanted. Apparently she didn't. "Gabrielle keeps hinting that she wants to dance with you." She said in an unnatural, almost strained tone. He stayed silent. They watched unseeingly as Ron started apologizing for stepping on Hermione's toes. Finally Ginny added, this time with the slightest edge of insistence in her voice, "You could dance with me." Harry shook his head slowly.
"I really couldn't." He told her sadly. Out of the corner of his eye he saw what might've been anger pass over her face. The next moment however she had returned to looking neutrally over the festivities.
"Right." She murmured faintly. They lapsed into an extremely tense silence.
Feeling the need to say something, he started, "Gin, I—"
"You're not planning on making it, are you?" She asked suddenly, her tone cold and accusatory. He froze. Minutes passed. "Or at least, you're not expecting to." She finished in a whisper. Harry didn't know what to say. He couldn't lie to her. Ginny turned to him and he met her beautiful, devastatingly honey colored eyes. "Tell me I'm wrong." She pleaded softly. "Tell me you broke up with me because you don't like me that way. Tell me the past month never happened." He shook his head again though it nearly killed him. Her face crumpled and she covered her mouth with her hand.
He realized with a pang that he would do anything to take her pain away. Something Dumbledore once said came forcefully to mind, about the countless unnamed deaths of the future meaning very little in comparison to the peace of mind of someone you care about. He knew then without a doubt, that if she only asked, if she took his hand again, if she kissed him one more time, he would wrap his arms around her and never be able to let go. He would hide with her, abandon the fight, anything to remain with her forever. Part of him, a larger part than he would ever admit, longed for her to demand him to stay. But Harry knew she wouldn't. She was self-less that way. Like she had at Dumbledore's funeral, she would let him go without a fight. Even as he watched, Ginny was pulling herself together. No tears had fallen, she was impeccable in that respect, but she was biting her lip to keep it from quivering.
"I'll leave you to it, then." She announced with an air of finality. She started to get up when with a flash of panic he grabbed her arm.
"Wait!" He heard her sharp intake of breath. Her skin was scalding hot beneath his fingers yet he couldn't relinquish his grip, not without telling her… something. The urgency faded and he didn't know what to say. "I…" He tried helplessly to express his mixed emotions. "I just…" Ginny must have understood what he did not because she gave him a wan smile.
"It's alright," She told him sweetly, "I know." He let go of her reluctantly. She hovered for a moment, licking her lips and sending a glance at the dance area which he followed. Ron was still preoccupied with Hermione. "Don't worry," She said, drawing his attention with a forced laugh, "I'm not naive enough to save you the last dance or anything. I guess I won't really see much of you during the wedding, and anyway you won't really be you, will you? And I expect you'll try and get away the moment your obligation is over. So… er…" Her grin grew shakily. "Good luck." It was as if a massive amount of sentiment was behind those two words. Harry nodded solemnly and she turned on her heel and headed for the Burrow. As he watched her retreating back, noting the freckles on her shoulders for what could very well be the last time, he became suddenly aware of what he'd wanted to say.
The reason that kiss in her bedroom had been different was because it was a desperate plea, a promise, and absolution all in one. It had been a kiss of love.
He was in love with Ginny Weasley. And she might have loved him too.
Aww. That was awfully angsty, wasn't it? But then again, it is a very sad time in their relationship.
Okay, a few things I wanted to talk about here. In my last story, though no one pointed it out, I realized I'd made a gaff in canon-ology, as the match ended around one but I have Harry and Ginny watch the stars come out. Oops. So, although I didn't want to completely rewrite it, I dedicated myself to doing better next time. And I... tried to.
Hermione makes allusions to the wedding rehearsal, though we never see it. Most rehearsals take place the day before, which would be Harry's birthday. Here in the US we have something called a rehearsal dinner where families meet and greet and can even dance together. According to my sources however, this doesn't happen in Europe. So I compromised. The wedding rehearsal happened, and the Mrs. Weasley forces the rest to mingle while they eat lunch. Make sense?
I make a big deal about the kiss they'd shared that morning 'as they never had before' or something. I took this to mean not lustful or sexy, but rather emotional.
Also, as they have mostly stilted conversation in the 7th book, I couldn't very well have them have another really big talk, could I? As a result this is the shortest of the series so far, and the first part is mostly introspection. But it worked out I hope, as I showcase Harry's revelation of love.
And some of you may wonder about Ginny letting him go so easily, but I think she doesn't realize she could impact his decision. And as she said, she always expected it, and his determination just makes her love him more.
Anyways, that's it. Peace out!