Chapter Thirty

Sometimes Ginny felt like she had never stopped being fourteen years old in regard to Harry. She knew it wasn't true, but when she blushed over the simplest most ridiculous things she couldn't help but feel that way some times.

"Hand me that lace wing," he muttered, his attention on the Polyjuice potion he was carefully stirring. She reached over and placed it in his hand, trying not to pay to much attention to even the barest contact she had with him while placing the lace wings in his hand.

Harry wasn't exactly muscular. He was still even at twenty seven had a very lanky thin build, but it was defined and certainly masculine with the sharp lines and wiry strength.

She hated it when he took his shirt off. She couldn't exactly blame him, mixing potions in the hot, humid summer weather was miserable. But she'd handed him the wrong ingredient three times already and it was starting to grate on her nerves, she simply couldn't concentrate.

The subject of their kiss hadn't exactly come up either, it had been almost two months since then...However, Harry had just finally come back to himself a week ago, and she couldn't claim that she had been receptive to those thoughts either in the past weeks. After everything that happened afterwards, the kiss and all the admissions with it had just faded away like some kind of half forgotten dream before the nightmare set in.

But lately she had found herself thinking about it more and more, and she wondered if she was alone in that. It had just gotten too difficult to think about all the other things...about Heather. So instead she had started thinking about how to find the horcruxes, but she couldn't think about that all the time without feeling overwhelmed, and that she supposed was how she ended up re-playing that scene before everything fell apart over and over again in her mind.

She glanced out of the corner of her eye to look at Harry and found him studying her as well. To her embarrassment the blush crept up in her cheeks once more but she refused to be beaten by it.

Swallowing and gathering her bravado she raised a questioning eyebrow.

He just shook his head and turned back to the potion, but she noted the small smile on his face.

She sighed, pushing the hair that had begun sticking slightly to her forehead back again. She wished the humidity would lessen but if anything it seemed to be growing worse as summer passed.

"There, it just needs to simmer for a while now," Harry said, shrugging and leaning back like she was away from the cauldron which, with it's fumes, just made the already oppressive summer heat worse.

"Good," she replied simply.

She laid further back until she was lying down in the grass completely, staring up at the sky. She felt rather than heard Harry do the same beside her.

They were both quiet a while has they enjoyed the pure blue of the sky that was punctuated with the fluffy white clouds like sheep dotting a strange field. Ginny couldn't help but marvel how peaceful it looked to reside over a world with such turmoil.

"I've been looking through Dumbledore's journal." She said quietly after a while. It wasn't necessary for her to talk loudly however, with the only sound being the soft bubbling of the cauldron, even her small mutter had been as clear as a shout.

She never took her eyes of the sky but she knew Harry had and was now facing her.

"Yeah?" He asked softly.

"I think I know where one might be..." She replied, finally turning her head to look at him where he was propped up on an elbow, looking down at her intently.

"There was this cave...you see when he—Tom, when Tom was at the orphanage, they used to take these trips sometimes...get out of London and all that." Her voice became even quieter, almost detached.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Harry lay back flat against the grass like she was and look up at the sky as well, his expression unreadable.

She cleared her throat and continued after regathering her thoughts.

"And one trip, well he and some two others separated from the group and they found this cave. But the other children, they were never the same when they came back." She finished in a whisper.

She was looking back at the blue sky again when he asked, but she heard his question nonetheless, his tone a mixture of disgust, pity and horror.

"How old was he?"

"Eight." She replied softly, feeling astonished at the thought as well, so young and already committing atrocities.

She turned her head to look at him, watching him swallow while he continued to simply gaze upward.

"Why—why would that be important to him? Surely he tortured so many over the years...why the cave?"

She shrugged, the movement feeling strange with the friction of the grass trying to halt it. "It must have been the first I suppose." She replied, looking away from Harry.

He sighed deeply beside her. "Well we should look into it then." Harry concluded.

She didn't respond, she knew it wasn't necessary.

"That cloud there looks a little like a lion, don't you think?" Harry asked after a while.

She looked hard at the sky but saw nothing but blobs, no real earthly shape was definable to her in any of them.

"Which one?" She asked, furrowing her brow.

"The one there," he replied, pointing off to the left.

In it she saw the vague outline of a what could have possibly been a beast with the most stretched imagination but not much else. She had never been one for cloud spotting—they simply all looked the same to her.

When she six years old she had tried to make friends with the muggle girls her age in Ottery St. Catchpole. Being so young and alone with her aging parents had gotten rather lonely and she had craved company from peers.

So with her best pig-tail braids in place she had started adventurously wondering down to the yards where the other little girls would play, after being expressly forbidden to mention anything magical.

For several weeks she had tried to become part of their clique, but although they were outwardly friendly she never felt like she was part of their group. Ginny however was tenacious, and she kept returning every day.

They would tell her their 'club,' they had formed couldn't accept anymore members even though it was just the four of them and they were completely in charge of every aspect of it. All it was anyway were their names written in a notebook with the title 'Our Club,' scrolled across the top in messy, undeveloped children's handwriting.

But that had not deterred Ginny. So soon they had given her tasks to complete if she had wanted to be part of their 'club'. Everytime they would tell her that if she just simply did this or that, then she could join. Using a combination of stubbornness and a hair of somewhat purposeful/accidental magic, she managed to complete everything they set before her but they always came up with more.

Finally when it seemed they had exhausted themselves with the petty things their five year old minds could create, they begrudgingly allowed her to scrawl ' ,' beside their own names in the notebook.

It had been a proud moment for her, one she had thought would be a turning point. However being in the little club proved to be little fun, and often the things she would do to stay in it would leave her in trouble with her mother and soon she wondered why she had even bothered in the first place. It hadn't done much for her loneliness.

She had always hated trying to make shapes out of clouds. She just didn't see anything beyond the cloud and didn't particularly want to either.

Her new friends however hadn't felt the same way and when had told them she thought it was silly they had quickly turned on her and announced the was no longer part of the club since she was a 'stupid-face with no imaginitivity.'

She had fled with an angry shout over her shoulder that 'imaginitivity' wasn't a word.

She had run home angrily swiping at her tears and when her mother asked her what was wrong she had spat out something nasty about all muggles in general which earned her a spanking and long time out where instead of real remorse she simply stewed over the unfairness of it all. Her father had had a long talk with her when he came out about how simply because she was unhappy with a few girls she could not dislike billions of people indiscriminately. She had apologized and that had been the end of it, she had not ventured into Ottery St. Catchpole again until she was older and sent on errands by her mother.

Still, it had made her dislike trying to make shapes out of clouds even more for now every-time she tried the while memory came back to her. And although it had been years and she felt immature for being angry about something that had happened to her as a five year old, she still could feel a bubbling annoyance in the pit of her stomach when she thought about it.

It just brought back all the memories of how alone she had felt when she had been that little, and all the memories of times after that she had felt the same way.

"...Ginny? Ginny?"

"Hmm?" She turned her head to face Harry who was looking at her strangely.

"Are you okay? You just, you looked a little lost."

"I'm fine," she replied hollowly.

He looked back up at the sky seeming unconvinced.

"So do you see it?" He asked.

"See what?" She replied, her response a little short but he seemed not to notice.

At Hogwarts during her second year when people had still been giving her strange looks about the chamber incident, she had been sitting out by the lake one time just staring into the surface of the water.

She and Gwen's relationship still seemed shaky, sometimes they were the best of friends and others it felt like the beginning of their first year again. Gwen would still revert back to her snotty aristocratic facade at times and Ginny would still take her words the wrong way and immediately act defensive at times. It had been something it had taken both of them a while to overcome.

Gwen loved to stare at the clouds and try to make something out of them.

"That one there looks just like the Green's family crest," she exclaimed rather dramatically.

Ginny just rolled her eyes but unfortunately Gwen saw the gesture.

"You don't think so?" She had asked, racing an eyebrow almost in a challenge.

Ginny balked, not liking being put on the spot in front of Sylvia, Helen and Susan as well. She was still getting to know them after the mess she had made of her first year and none of their friendships were something she felt confident or comfortable in.

"I wouldn't know." She had mumbled, ducking her head and shrugging.

"Well you should you know, it's important, things like that. If I hadn't learned—" She had began.

"Well I didn't have some blood purist family to teach me these things," she replied bitingly.

The other four girls had been taken aback and all turned to look at her then.

"You know Ginny, those aren't just things for death eaters to learn. Knowing those kind of things is just important in our society," Sylvia replied a bit snappishly.

Ginny opened her mouth but nothing came out. She knew they had a point but her pride would not let her back down and she felt an angry embarrassed red starting to spread over her entire face.

"Well—You—I—" She began, searching for words. Memories of her five-almost six year old-refection began replaying in her mind while they all looked at her expectantly.

"It's jut a blob is all it is! Absolutely no crest and you—you're all a bunch of morons!" She shouted defensively.

Gwen had scoffed and hurried off, Syvlia and Susan following in a similar manner while Helen shot her a look of confusion and a little hurt while she slowly departed as if she was reluctant to leave but felt the others were right.

Ginny had turned, her eyes burning a little with tears she wouldn't shed while she looked out over the lake. Why did they always have to push her like that? She thought angrily. They were always acting surprised when she didn't known who someone's great, great, great Grandfather was and it really irritated her sometimes. It made her feel...stupid and like she didn't belong. And she already felt that way enough when she sat down at the Slytherin table in her Weasley red hair. Why did they have to go and make it worse? She wondered angrily.

"It just looks like a big white blob to me, but maybe I'm as unimaginative as Snivellus is always accusing me of being." A voice interrupted her, she turned to see Heather sitting not too far away, flipping through a book with her new glasses nearly sliding off her nose while she leaned back against a tree. Her posture was her usual one of casual boredom that Ginny thought she must have somehow learned from Sirius for no one could hold that countenance quite so well as them.

Ginny shrugged back to her, nodding a little in agreement.

"It's stupid, trying to make shapes out of clouds," she retorted angrily.

Heather just shrugged, taking her glasses off and folding them away to place in her pocket.

"A lot of people think Quidditch is stupid." She stated blandly.

Ginny looked at her in shock and opened her mouth to retort but Heather held up a hand asking her to wait, and she did.

"I'm not saying that they're right. I think sitting around trying to make shapes out of air or whatever the bloody hell clouds are, really should have paid more attention in muggle science—" she broke off muttering. "—but that doesn't mean it is for everybody I guess. Each is to own and all that jazz."

Ginny looked back at the lake, "I guess."

Heather picked up a pebble that was sitting beside her and flung it at the lake where it sunk on contact without a single skip.

"That was a fail," Ginny muttered, watching the ripples it had made disappear.

"Maybe I didn't want it to skip. Maybe I just needed to throw something for the severe anger management problems I have. All the pent up frustration released into one small rock. Keeps me from murdering Snivellus..." She invented wildly, an expression of mock concentration.

Ginny rolled her eyes but grinned weakly.

"You sure do roll those eyes of yours a lot these days," Heather commented dryly.

"Wonder where I got that from," Ginny replied, giving her a pointed look.

"Harry," Heather answered automatically with another shrug like it was an obvious conclusion.

"Yes, that's who's fault it is," Ginny retorted sarcastically.

"I just like to blame everything on Harry. It rained yesterday and I stubbed my toe while doing a victory dance after class let out...stupid Harry."

Ginny looked over at her incredulously, "Why were you doing a victory dance after class?"

"I finally managed to frame Mulciber for something and get McGonagall to give him detention," she replied casually.

"Heather! You're supposed to be a teacher—sort of."

"Eh, he deserves it, so I don't feel all that bad. In fact, I don't feel bad at all."

Ginny shook her head and their conversation lulled for a moment.

"You were kind of a bitch, a little bit, that brunette did start it though I think. But they'll probably forget about it, and if they don't then they're not good friends to have anyways." Heather replied after a while.

"You think?" Ginny asked a little worriedly.

Heather smiled at her and—

"Ginny? Did you hear me?" Harry interrupted her flashback.

"What?" She snapped at him, her breathing strangely heavy and her eyes stinging. She felt a terrible ache in her chest that felt like a weight had been pressed there and could never be taken away.

Harry gestured toward the sky again at the cloud. "The lion do you see it?"

She looked back up, the outline blurry from the tears in her eyes. She still didn't see a lion anywhere.

"You know Harry, I really don't give a damn." She said raggedly as she rolled onto her feet and started running as she tried to find a release.

Unfortunately there wasn't very far she could go. She reached the shore of the lake about a hundred feet from where they had been and sunk to her knees.

She let her anger consume her, deciding to focus on it instead of the grief. It was easier that way.

How dare he? He shuts down for weeks and weeks, leaving her virtually alone and then he finally comes back to himself a little bit and of all the irrelevant and stupid things, he wants to talk about the bloody clouds with her? How dare he? She thought incensed, digging her fingernails in the sand. She ignored the more rational thoughts that argued Harry couldn't have known about the memories she had of such a seemingly benign practice. And it wasn't right on her to be so hard on him, he had lost a sister after all.

But she had too hadn't she? And where had he been for her lately? Unreachable. He had abandoned her with his shell of a body. Didn't he care about how she felt?

Part of her felt wrong for thinking that, felt like she was being selfish. But these thoughts had been festering for a while and finally she couldn't clamp down on them any longer.

Harry hadn't been there for her. And she had decided that that was okay, and she had tried to understand and put her own grief aside. But only...it wasn't okay dammit. It wasn't okay. She wasn't okay.

oOoOo

Ginny wandered back after dark, she had been absently walking up and down the beach for hours and she felt exhausted.

She stuck her head in the tent tentatively and looked around. Harry was sitting in the corner, reading with dark circles under his eyes.

He sensed her entrance however for he looked up immediately, his head snapping up so quickly she worried he had hurt his neck. His expression screamed uncertainty as he regarded her warily as if she might erupt at any moment. She stepped in and bit back a sigh of annoyance, she figured she had brought the treatment on herself after-all.

Her face flushed as she thought of her angry departure.

"Hi," She said quietly turning to face him. Her guilt at having bolted off on him was eating at her a bit. She had felt furious at him for how he had acted the past two months, and she still did somewhere inside her, but she also knew it wasn't exactly fair of her considering the circumstances. But she couldn't help but feel that way and combined with all the grief and stress, it just seemed entirely overwhelming.

All these analyzations of her emotions rolled through her head as she waited for a response, he however just kept staring at her with the same tentative expression.

There was an awkward silence until he blurted out suddenly, "Is it that...time of the month?"

Ginny's face flooded with color and she stared at him, her mouth falling open slightly. A reprimand was on the tip of her tongue when the laughter started bubbling out hysterically in great gasping bouts that stole her breath.

Harry looked positively bewildered. "Are you alright?" He asked carefully.

"I...can't...believe...you...asked...that!" She got out between giggles. She sighed, sitting down beside him on the cot.

A few more giggles came tumbling out before she could stop them. She wasn't sure why, it wasn't even really that funny, but she found she couldn't help herself.

Harry was looking positively frightened, he seemed to think she had gone mad. She didn't blame him, she thought she might have too.

"Of all the insensitive things to ask," She finally muttered, but there was a smile on her face as she shook her head.

"...you sounded like Ron," She said, her voice incredulous.

"Please don't tell me we're going to become like Ron and Hermione?" She continued, rambling onward.

Harry still looked confused by the turn of the conversation but his features seemed to relax somewhat at the more lighthearted topic.

"I don't think so," he replied, trying and failing to be casual with his tone but she ignored it like the hesitation had never happened and there wasn't a strange sad quality behind the facade he tried to project.

"I couldn't take all the bickering. It would drive me insane." She continued, her voice much the same as his, trying too hard to make it seem like everything was fine outside of their tent.

Harry gave her a jokingly pointed look as if to say, 'already there,' but then his face immediately fell as if he was worried he had overstepped a line.

Seeing this Ginny was quick to slap him lightly on the shoulder in a joking manner and send him a comically exaggerated affronted look that lost it's effect with her smile, which was a bit forced and exhausted but worked nonetheless.

"I still can't believe you asked that though, I remember all your blushing and stuttering when you marched me over to...Heather when I was twelve." She hesitated a little before she said the name, but reminded herself bracingly that they couldn't go a life-time never speaking of her again. And The silence was too loud and gave her too much room to think, she was determined to fill it even if it was with overused stories and recycled conversations.

"I was twenty two! I was not about to try to explain that to you, I didn't understand exactly—I still don't understand exactly...you know I don't want to understand...ever." Harry finished, nodding as if to make it more final.

"You could have said something! I though I was dying!" Ginny said, laughing a little at the memory.

"I remember." Harry replied dryly with a shudder. She slapped him on the shoulder again lightly, leaning closer until she could rest her head there.

It was quiet then but she decided to let it be, she was too tired to think hard enough to figure out what to say.

Her eyes hurt and were swollen from crying so long and she really just wanted to fall asleep. Her body felt warm and comfortable although there was still that weight that seemed to never leave her chest which made breathing seem harder than it should.

Her last thought before she nodded off was a wish that she and Harry were at the burrow with their family all around them.

Please Review

Sorry for the delay, will not happen again. Not an action packed chapter but where it felt natural to cut it off. I originally had it continued much longer but it felt too drawn out. The next chapter will be posted early next week since it is largely already written from what was going to be in this chapter. It will be a longer chapter than this one as well. I did feel though that this chapter was necessary though even if it lacked some of the excitement, but no fear, I have plenty of action coming up soon.