I don't own Harry Potter or Ginny Weasley. This one-shot contains content from "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which does belong to J.K. Rowling.

I may not have the time to expand any of these vignettes into full stories, but I invite anyone else to give them a shot. So long as you credit me for the idea, any and all of these one-shots are officially up for adoption.

Why I Like You

"Ginny, listen…" he said very quietly, as the buzz of conversation grew louder around them and people began to get to their feet, "I can't be involved with you anymore. We've got to stop seeing each other. We can't be together."

She said, with an oddly twisted smile, "It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?"

"It's been like… like something out of someone else's life, these last few weeks with you," said Harry. "But I can't… we can't… I've got things to do alone now."

She did not cry, she simply looked at him.

"Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He's already used you as bait once, and that was just because you're my best friend's sister. Think how much danger you'll be in if we keep this up. He'll know, he'll find out. He'll try to get to me through you."

"What if I don't care?" said Ginny fiercely.

"I care," said Harry. "How do you think I'd feel if this was your funeral… and it was my fault…"

She looked away from him, over the lake.

"I never really gave up on you," she said. "Not really. I always hoped…. Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more – myself."

"Smart girl, that Hermione," said Harry, trying to smile. "I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages… months, years maybe…."

"But you've been too busy saving the Wizarding world," said Ginny, half laughing. "Well… I can't say I'm surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that's why I like you so much."

"Wait, what? You… because… you think this makes me happy? Happy to hunt the man who killed my parents, happy to save everyone over and over?

"No, I didn't… not like that, I didn't mean that." Ginny's hair shook from side to side.

"Then what did you mean? Because you must've picked the worst possible way to express it, whatever it was." Harry scowled deeply.

"I just… I just meant that you weren't the sort of person to do nothing, to just keep living without a care when there was something to be doing, something to fight for. You do understand, don't you? You must."

"Of course I wouldn't just… stand around," Harry dismissed the thought with scorn. "But why would you think that made me happy?"

"Because… because it's true, it's what defines you." At his look of protest she continued. "You think you'd be happy to let others fight this war in your stead? You said it yourself: what we had, together, it was like something out of someone else's life. Now you're going back to the life you feel belongs to you, and you tell me I can't follow."

For a second Harry looked as torn as he felt. "But… happy?"

"How else would you describe it? Satisfied, fulfilled, like it fills a hole in your heart to fight Voldemort? Harry, you don't think I know? He was in my head for almost my whole first year, and by the time he took me to the Chamber, I'd lost all hope, I knew he would win. And then you fought him. You were twelve years old, armed only with a wand, and you took on the worst Dark Lord in history and a monster only seen in nightmares and storybooks. You didn't have to, you know; even Dumbledore didn't, but sent his phoenix in his stead. But you did, you fought. You lost your wand and still you fought him. You drew the legendary Sword of Gryffindor, and you beat him! Harry, I was in his head just as long as he was in mine. I knew when you saved me, that you were the only one who could, could save me, could beat him. You gave me my life back, gave me hope back, and that's when I saw the truth."

"The truth?" Harry's mouth suddenly felt very dry.

"That you would fight him, fight him for as long as it took, and that it'd be my privilege to help you however I could until you beat him in the end." Her gaze pierced him.

Harry tried to swallow the lump in his throat, overwhelmed by her faith in him. "Why didn't you… why didn't you say anything?"

"Harry, until last year it was a struggle to stay in the same room as you. It took even longer to talk to you like a normal person. And, let's be honest, it's not like we did much talking this year."

They blushed in unison.

Ginny continued as she recovered. "But Harry, please believe me when I say... I haven't had a crush on you since you rescued me in first year. Not just a crush." She drew closer. "You're going to beat him – you're the only one who can – and I'm going to be standing by your side when you do. There's a reason they call you the Chosen One. My Chosen One."

He drew near her as well, though a part of him rebelled against the title. "I don't… I don't want to be defined by Voldemort."

"I know," she nodded solemnly. "But you are, we both are, until you beat him. Then we'll be free, free from him, free to be whoever we want to be, together."

"You'll fight for me?" From within his heart a tiny little boy made his presence known.

"Always." Her arms went around him, and she tucked her head beside his neck, her breath warming him. "Please don't push me away."


"You'll let me fight with you?"

Harry didn't respond. His mind was suddenly teeming with imagined horrors and anticipated nightmares.

"Harry." Her voice caressed his name. "Don't push me away. Our family has always supported you, and if he doesn't already know we've been dating, then Draco or Snape or someone will tell him soon enough. I chose this – I chose you. Let me fight for you."

He couldn't speak – he tried – he couldn't. He settled for nodding mutely against her shoulder.

"Thank you, Harry. Thank you." She withdrew partially to meet his gaze, the relief she felt clearly visible. "I know Dumbledore gave you a mission, and I know Ron and Hermione plan on following you wherever it takes you. Ron will object, but I will be coming with you. I'm coming with you, to fight for you. I need you to fight for me, all right?"

He nodded again, "Yes. I can do that." His voice cracked. "You said I was only happy when I was fighting Voldemort, but I don't think I know what happiness means."

"Oh Harry." She tightened her grip and pecked his cheek. "Happiness will be when you beat him. Happiness will be when you're free of him, and if you still haven't found it, we'll figure it out together, because I'll still be fighting for you, fighting by your side."

A/N: I don't view this one-shot as particularly romantic. I don't know how well it came across, but the intended subtext was the broken nature of Ginny's love for Harry.

I am (as my previous one-shots should make clear) an unabashed advocate of Harry/Hermione, to the extent that I have on rare occasion consciously thought of myself as a 'Harmonian' (*sighs heavily*). But for all that, I do believe in giving canon!Ginny a fair shake. Many other writers treat the Half-Blood Prince conversation I quote at the top of this chapter as a blunt instrument with which to bash her, but I can't find it in me to agree.

Certainly, the hardest part of writing this one-shot was typing out the cringe-worthy text from my hard copy of Half-Blood Prince without fixing things or interjecting my own comments – for instance, when Ginny doesn't object to Harry's assumption that her funeral would be his fault (that was particularly infuriating). But however poorly Rowling expressed it, and it was very poorly indeed, the sentiment is real. Harry would not be satisfied unless he were fighting Voldemort, and Ginny has long had time to come to terms with that.

The fact is, that the canon relationship between Harry and Ginny in the books is astonishingly shallow, and it didn't need to be. Ginny faced true horrors in his first year at Hogwarts – manipulated, isolated, controlled, possessed; forced to confront, on her own and in a battlefield of her own mind, the shade of a Dark Lord so terrifying even most adults feared to speak his name; used by the same Dark Lord to control a thousand-year-old monster whose origin is shrouded by myth and legend, whose very gaze can kill. And when she was rescued, after a full year of such experiences, she seems to have been encouraged to forget the experience. She never speaks of it but once, years later, and never received counseling.

Ginny is damaged, just as much as Harry is: she must recover from the trauma of the diary, as he must recover from the trauma of the Dursleys. While it is easy to bash her as a fan-girl who only succeeded in winning Harry's affection due to his own admittedly stunted emotional growth, it is far more intriguing to envision her relationship with Harry as making the best of a bad situation, as making a life with the one other person who could truly understand her past, her connection to Voldemort. I can't envision it as particularly a happy or healthy relationship – which is why I don't view this one-shot as being romantic or even inspiring – but it would be a compelling one to explore as a writer.

I prefer to pair Harry with Hermione because they know each other, fight for each other, and bring out the best in each other. It entertains me to pair Harry with Luna because she is just so unique, because she more than anyone would be able to knock Harry out of his Dursley-derived "must be normal" funk. But I am fascinated by the potential of pairing Harry with Ginny because they are both so broken and must try to help the other put themselves back together.

Thanks for reading! Please review, and check out my forum for more discussion. The link's on my profile, or you can type in: fanfiction . net / forum / Stories-by-Publicola / 150993.