The Sugar Quill
Sugar Quill Community
- S.P.E.W (SQ History)

Fan Fiction and Writing
- Ask Madam Pince
(Story Submissions)
- Floo Network (Links)

Forums

Administrative Links

Dumbledore's Army

Giving Her the Power: The Characterization of Harry/Ginny

by Red Monster

Post date: May 20, 2005

 

Author's Note: All page numbers reference US editions.

Introduction

In the fandom of Harry Potter--in just about any fandom, really, built around a fictional creation--the greatest energy, depth and frequency of discussion is devoted not to plot development, structure or other inconsequential literary trivialities, but to the truly pivotal matter of who will hook up with whom. There is a plethora of characters to be matched up, ranging from Harry Potter himself to Draco Malfoy to the Giant Squid. There is also a wide range of methods used in deciding who goes with whom, including attraction, symbolism, merit, compatibility, literary parallels, and sometimes, it just comes down to, "I like them together."

Sarcasm aside, I can hardly fault my favorite fandom for its obsession with shipping, as I'm guilty of it myself, and there's a simple and understandable reason for our love affair with romance. When Hermione wanted to write to her parents about her appointment as a prefect in Order of the Phoenix, she explained, "Prefect is something they can understand." So it is with fandom. Relationships are something ordinary folks like us can understand. War is something most of us wisely try to avoid, magic does not exist in the real world, but we can all relate to falling in love. As such, shipping becomes such an important dimension of fandom that some of the deepest divisions between fans come from disagreements over pairings.

Of all the many available characters and virtually limitless combinations, the most important pairing of all the romances that might take place in the series is going to be Harry's ultimate relationship. The story is all about his coming of age, the books are narrated from his point of view, and he is the center of the universe that JKR has created. His love life will have the most on-page exposure and will be of the greatest importance to the story. Possible candidates for Harry's partner are myriad and diverse, ranging from Hermione Granger to Moaning Myrtle, and the arguments used to support different pairings are just as varied. Anything goes in fanon, but when the arena is predictive, rather than preferential shipping--when we're discussing and debating what could happen in the books--the most reliable path to predicting accurately is to ask the characters what they want. Compatibility is entirely subjective; only JKR gets to decide who's suited to whom. Symbolism and foreshadowing may not lie, but they can be misinterpreted or misappropriated, and symbolism is not reliable unless it is grounded in textual evidence. The characters can decide for themselves who is good enough for them, and readers will not be able to make accurate predictions for canon by projecting their own likes and dislikes onto fictional characters. You may not be too fond of James Potter, for example, but Lily Evans still married him. Fanon can run on should, could and would, but canon depends on is, does, and will.

Of all the fandom's selections for Harry's love interest, the one who has most consistently and prominently shown romantic interest in Harry in the books is his best friend's sister, the incredibly controversial Ginny Weasley. Still, what about what Harry wants? Shouldn't he be asked for his opinion? Of course he should, and in looking at the ways they see each other, both in the details and the bigger picture, the answers are much stronger than one might expect. Far from being a one-sided, outdated red herring, the relationship developing between Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley is actually one of the most carefully developed and well-supported bonds in the series. On several different levels and from many angles, they are growing closer all the time.


Harry on Ginny

Attraction

One of the most widely recognized components of a romantic relationship is physical attraction. It is frequently the first step in bringing a couple together; one person sees another, finds them appealing, and gets acquainted. Attraction is not the most important part of a relationship, and it is certainly not enough to keep a couple together in the long run, but it is a valuable piece of the puzzle, a helpful starting point, and it is useful in keeping the relationship enjoyable for both parties. Furthermore, attraction does not require that either party be especially glamorous or striking, or that someone look a certain way in order to maintain the affections of another. All it means is that it is a very natural desire for someone to look at their partner and like what they see.

Throughout the series, Ginny's physical appearance has been described with appealing images. Since the story is told from Harry's perspective, these descriptions are representative of Harry's perceptions. He has always described her either with neutral, unbiased phrases such as "small and red-haired" (GoF, pg. 54) or with overtly colorful, romanticized, flattering imagery. His narration can be seen going out of its way to make Ginny come across as eye-catching and appealing. On his first morning at The Burrow, he catches sight of "a pair of bright brown eyes," (CoS, pg. 40) while Ginny is staring at him from behind her door. We have not yet been told the eye color of any other member of the Weasley family. Ron's blue eyes are a fanon invention. I think this is a very appealing and viable fanon invention, but it did not come from the text of the Harry Potter series. Ginny is the only Weasley whose eye color has been provided, and it is named in one of the first few scenes in which she appears. In addition to giving us the color of her eyes, Harry also says they are "bright." There is something about Ginny's eyes that Harry likes. When compared to the other girls in the Sextet, Ginny has had the deck stacked in her favor by Harry's perceptions. Hermione's eye color is not named until after she accidentally turns herself into a cat, "and her eyes were turning slowly back to brown." (CoS, pg. 228) Luna Lovegood's eyes are much more interesting; repeatedly described as "protuberant," and ranging from "oddly misty" (OotP, pg. 863) to "slightly mad" (OotP, pg. 568) and, best of all, "she did not seem to need to blink as much as normal humans." (OotP, pg. 185) All he sees of Ginny's eyes is a lovely combination of brown and bright.

Between books 1 and 5, Ginny is rather prone to blushing in front of Harry, and he most definitely takes note of it. First, "she dived under the table to retrieve the bowl and emerged with her face glowing like the setting sun." (CoS, pg. 43) This is an unbelievably flattering way to describe someone's blushing. She doesn't just turn pink, or turn red; she glows. No other character in the series has ever looked so enthralling when they blush. This sort of description implies that when Ginny blushes, Harry can't take his eyes off her. The romantic imagery continues when "she nodded, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair." (CoS, pg. 44) Again, Harry can't take his eyes off her. The "flaming hair" is probably not significant all by itself, as all the Weasleys have flaming-red hair, but there is something about the way Harry looks from her blushing face to her flaming hair that sounds like the sort of prose used in a romance novel.

Harry likes Ginny's hair, as well. This becomes evident in OotP, when "the door opened and a long mane of red hair appeared." (pg. 69) First, this is a flattering choice of words. A "mane" of hair connotes thick and luxuriant, yet also sleek and controlled. This is in contrast to Hermione, who is repeatedly, unfailingly described with "bushy" brown hair. It is not curly, or wavy, or full, it is "bushy." It also contrasts with Luna, who lies at the other end of the spectrum with "straggly, waist-length, dirty-blond hair," (OotP, pg. 185) rather than, say, wavy, sandy-blond hair. A long mane is neither bushy nor straggly. What is even more striking is the way her hair occupies the frame. Her entrance is phrased as though her hair enters the room a couple of seconds before she does. First we see the hair, and then we find out it's Ginny. Her hair is extremely eye-catching; she opens the door, and Harry is briefly enthralled by her long red mane before the scene continues. Later on, Harry appears rather reluctant to give a negative description of her appearance, when Neville's mimbulus mimbletonia erupts on the train and Ginny "merely looked as though she were wearing a slimy green hat." (OotP, pg. 187) She comes off remarkably well for a girl whose hair is covered in smelly dark green liquid. It is as though the Stinksap barely touches her. Harry is a boy who likes long, shiny hair on girls. He has also been drawn to it on Cho Chang, Parvati Patil, and Fleur Delacour, all of whom he openly describes as very pretty girls, so his looking at Ginny's long, shiny hair means she is pleasing to his eye.

OotP is also the book that introduces the comparisons of Ginny to a cat. First we see that "Ginny made a noise like an angry cat" on pg. 72, while Harry is just as offended by the same thing. Even better is when "Ginny was curled like a cat on her chair" on pg. 479. These descriptions are significant in that cats evoke a sinuous, graceful, but energetic, and distinctly feminine sensuality. In short, when a man in literature, television or other entertainment describes a woman in ways that liken her to a cat...he is not her brother, son, or father.

Harry frequently describes Ginny as "small." This is a neutral adjective referring to her petite stature. From Harry's previous experiences in reacting to other girls, we can gather something about his taste in female height. The first time he sees Cho Chang, who is his idea of a very attractive person, he notes that she is "shorter than Harry by about a head." (PoA, pg. 259) On the other hand, he reacts negatively to a girl who asks him to the Yule Ball, on the grounds that she is "a foot taller" (GoF, pg. 389) than he. Harry likes petite girls and is intimidated by superior height. This is understandable, as Harry is not exactly a big strapping guy himself. When he calls Ginny "small," she should take it as a compliment.

Speaking of Cho, something very interesting happens just before she kisses Harry for the first time. As she grows closer, Harry thinks "he could have counted the freckles on her nose." (OotP, pg. 456) It is not entirely clear whether this means Cho actually has some freckles on her nose, or if Harry just likes to count them. This is an interesting way for JKR to illustrate Cho's proximity to Harry. Either way, I find it intriguing that when he's alone with his perfect girl, and she's preparing to kiss him, Harry starts thinking about freckles, a trademark of the Weasley family. This is, perhaps, something he has in common with Hermione, who refers to making "Eloise Midgen's acne look like a couple of cute freckles." (OotP, pg. 354) Both of them are attracted to freckles. I think we know of someone who has a lot more freckles for Harry to count.

One value of Harry's attraction which I cannot emphasize enough is that it is just that: Harry's attraction. This is not a beauty contest. It's not about how the girls look, it's about the ways in which Harry looks at them. The comparisons of Ginny to Luna and Hermione are not about designating Ginny the prettiest girl in the Sextet. They are about establishing that she is physically appealing to Harry's tastes. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and it's Harry's eyes that are doing the beholding. For example, I think Luna is just as cute as a bug's ear, but since we're not talking about finding a girlfriend for me, my taste is irrelevant. Harry thinks she is funny-looking, using descriptions that make her sound uncared-for and slightly unhinged. Ron Weasley and Viktor Krum may think Hermione is a vision of loveliness, but Harry describes her in ways that portray her as looking coarse, unremarkable, and slightly untamed at times. Next to Hermione with her "very bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth" (GoF, pg. 54) Ginny, being "small and red-haired" is shown as much more appealing. Harry does not fancy girls with bushy hair and big teeth, and he is not attracted to girls with straggly, dirty-blond hair and mad, popping eyes. He should be able to pay his love interest a better compliment than "but I don't think you're ugly," and he should not describe her in terms of how she differs from normal humans. Harry likes petite girls with long manes of red hair and bright brown eyes set in freckled faces that glow like the setting sun.

By now, you may be thinking, Cho was pretty, too, and look at how that turned out! I very highly doubt that, by portraying Harry/Cho the way she did, JKR was trying to send the message that physical attraction leads to disastrous relationships. Harry's mistake was not that he chose Cho based on shallow criteria. He chose her based on too few criteria, because he didn't know anything about her except that she was a pretty girl with a friendly smile and good flying skills. He did not know that she would be so emotionally needy (although, given that her boyfriend was murdered by Voldemort, she really can't be faulted), or that she would have bad taste in teashops, or that she would defend Marietta. His mistake was in pursuing a relationship with a girl he didn't know. Harry has gotten to know Ginny without dating her, and he knows that she is a very loyal, well-adjusted girl in fine mental health. Given that she had Tom Riddle in her head for a year, she has every right to be in worse shape than Cho, but she has recovered from her ordeal extremely well, and Harry has seen that firsthand. Also, while he describes her attractively, he has not yet named her as a pretty girl, and so it is not going to be a relationship based on shallow criteria. Harry's attraction to Ginny is a much more subtle, slow-brewing attraction than his more obvious, immediate crush on Cho because it is a relationship that is designed to last. The physical attraction will merely be a low-key aspect of a much broader relationship. The reason why I've put this section at the beginning of Harry's side is that it is the least important part. As Arthur Weasley has said, you should never go for looks alone. The important thing about all these romantic and sensual comparisons and interesting parallels is that Harry looks at Ginny and likes what he sees. This is a necessary step in getting a romantic relationship off the ground, because it gives way to the attention that comes with focus.


Focus

"But Harry doesn't notice Ginny!"

How often have I seen this used as an argument against Harry/Ginny? He doesn't notice her, she barely exists to him, he doesn't see her as anything other than Ron's little sister, he's known her all this time and he's still not interested in her. How can you expect Harry to fall for Ginny when he doesn't notice her?

No statement regarding either or both of these two characters, with the possible exception of "Harry hasn't got the guts God gave a helium balloon" could be more divergent from canon. What this tired old refrain fails to take into account is that the books are told in third-person limited POV, and that person is Harry. There are a few passages told from a different POV, but those were told in such a way because JKR needed to tell a story that could not be seen through Harry's eyes. All of Ginny's appearances take place in the 98% or so of the series that is told from Harry's POV, therefore they are subject to the biases of Harry's perspective. Whatever we see in the books, we see because Harry sees it first. Furthermore, in taking a close look at Harry's interactions with Ginny, it becomes apparent that he does pay attention to her. If Harry doesn't notice Ginny, then one is left to wonder why he looks at her so often and sees so much about her, notes her presence when there is no literary need for us to know she is present, and comments so positively on her actions, among other things. The truth is, Harry does notice Ginny. He notices her more than a boy has any earthly business noticing his best friend's little sister.

From the Beginning

JKR wastes no time in showing how much Harry focuses on Ginny. For one thing, she is the first female close to his own age that he sees and really watches, apart from the crowd. The very first time he meets her, watch her is what he does.

The train began to move. Harry saw the boys' mother waving and their sister, half-laughing, half-crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved.

Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear as the train rounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Harry felt a great leap of excitement. He didn't know what he was going to--but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind.

SS, pgs. 97-98

Take a look at this. Harry is on his way into the magical world, a society which is new to him, and extremely inviting and intriguing. He is finally leaving the Muggle world, not forever, but for his first prolonged period of time. This is a terribly exciting event for Harry. In light of Harry's journey, both the physical one and the symbolic one, why does he keep his eyes on Ginny for so long?

When one's train is leaving the station, the typical course of action, if one's family and/or friends are not standing outside the train, is to watch the scenery pass by, or concentrate on something going on inside the train. Being as new as he is to the magical world, the scenery should, theoretically, be interesting enough to engage Harry's attention. In practice, Harry watches Ginny run after the train. Surely, the Muggle world does not suffer from any dearth of cute little girls who love their brothers, and Ginny is no one special to Harry, yet. She is merely a little girl in a family he has just met. He has not yet even made friends with her brother. Still, he watches her until watching her is no longer possible. He keeps his eyes on her until the train rounds the corner. Only after Ginny and Molly disappear from view does Harry take a look at the scenery.

This scene is, perhaps, comparable to the part in OotP, where Harry watches Sirius, in dog form, run after the train. Why should we assign romantic significance to Harry watching Ginny run after the train, when he later watches Sirius do the same thing? First, it should be noted that these two events take place four years apart, so it's not like Harry's focus is split between Sirius and Ginny. I could go into the differences in imagery and tone between the two scenes, but I'm not going to bother with that, when there is a much simpler distinction to make. The difference is that when Harry watches Sirius in his fifth year, we know why. Sirius is Harry's godfather, therefore he is someone dear to Harry, and so it makes sense that Harry would want to watch him run after the train. When Harry looks at Ginny in his first year, we really don't know why. Harry has formed no emotional bonds with Ginny this early in the series. There is no particular reason why he would watch this laughing, crying little girl run after the train to wave goodbye to her brothers. All we know at this point is that there is something about Ginny that grabs Harry's attention and doesn't let go.

Expression

One of the smaller, lower-key ways in which Harry notices Ginny is that he pays attention to her expressions and emotions. Even when he is not engaged in conversation with her, or she is not brought to his attention, Harry makes sure to tell us about Ginny's expressions, which shows that he notices how she feels. This much demonstrates, at the very least, that Harry notices at least as much about her as he does about his friends, so the theory of his being oblivious to her existence is not consistent with canon. The first such clue of note takes place late in CoS, after Hermione has been Petrified.

Fred and George challenged Harry and Ron to a few games of Exploding Snap, and Ginny sat watching them, very subdued in Hermione's usual chair.

CoS, pg. 271

The focus of the scene is not on Ginny, or at least it doesn't have to be. She is not the one engaging Harry in an activity. Harry is busy playing Exploding Snap with the twins, but his eyes wander over to Ginny, and he notices that she looks very subdued. In this case, Ginny's expression is a detail that is relevant to the plot, as she is involuntarily involved in the Petrifications, but Harry notices her being very quiet when he is occupied with a not-so-quiet activity. It is a clue of her possession, AND it is an example of Harry paying attention to Ginny.

Ginny, who was huddled in her corner looking nearly as bad as Harry felt, gave a small sob; Hermione went over and put a comforting arm around her.

PoA, pg. 86

The first aspect of the scene here is Ginny's position in the compartment. Again, she is not in the center. She is huddled in a corner, out of the way of the main conversation, and should be fairly inconspicuous. Harry sees her sitting in that corner, and he notices her emotional state, which he describes by comparing it to his own. His eyes travel over to Ginny's inconspicuous location and compare her to himself in an emotional sense.

Then we have GoF, in which Ginny starts to open up, and it might not be quite so interesting or significant when Harry notes that "Ginny was looking curiously from Ron to Harry," on pg. 58, because perhaps it's not such a leap for Harry to note that Ginny looks curious, but when it comes time for the Yule Ball, something very interesting happens with the way Harry notices Ginny.

"I asked her to go with me just now," Harry said dully, "and she told me."

Ginny had suddenly stopped smiling.

GoF, pg. 399

While Harry is occupied with feeling unhappy about missing out on the chance to take Cho Chang to the Yule Ball, and is talking to Ron, he sees that Ginny stops smiling. He notices when she stops smiling, and this just happens to be immediately after he says he just asked another girl to the ball. In fact, her change in facial expression is important enough that it gets a paragraph all to itself. This is only the first part. The story continues at the scene of the ball itself.

It wasn't as bad as it could have been, Harry thought, revolving slowly on the spot (Parvati was steering). He kept his eyes fixed over the heads of the watching people, and very soon many of them too had come onto the dance floor, so that the champions were no longer the center of attention. Neville and Ginny were dancing nearby--he could see Ginny wincing frequently as Neville trod on her feet--and Dumbledore was waltzing with Madame Maxime.

GoF, pg. 419-420

Notice that, when the non-champion couples enter the scene, Ginny and Neville are the first couple that Harry mentions by name. He immediately describes them, and sees that Ginny is not having a good time. Therefore, this is the sequence: after he notes that Ginny immediately stops smiling when she hears that Harry just asked out another girl briefly after she agreed to go with Neville, Harry gets on the dance floor with his partner, and the first new couple he notices dancing are Neville and Ginny, and he is quick to point out that Ginny is wincing frequently at Neville's dancing, before the scene moves on to other couples. We already know from the previous chapter that Harry has seen that Ginny is not very happy about going to the ball with Neville and would rather have gone with Harry, and that he asked Parvati to be his partner because "the time had come for drastic action." (GoF, pg. 401) As soon as he gets comfortable with her on the dance floor, he sees Ginny dancing with her partner, notes that she is not enjoying herself with another boy, and then other couples appear. What is so important about Neville and Ginny that they need to be described first? Why is Harry so quick to point out that Ginny is wincing frequently? Ginny's discomfort means that Harry has no need to be jealous. We do not know whether he could have been distracted from his crush on Cho long enough to feel some jealousy over Ginny, because there is nothing there for him to be jealous of.

In OotP, there is very little disputing that Ginny becomes much more noticeable to the reader, with her more frequent appearances and confident, outgoing behavior. What is not so widely accepted and acknowledged is the change in the way Harry notices her. He looks at her more than ever before, sharing details about her that are unnecessary to the scene and pointing her out when there is no need for her to appear. There are many other examples of this type of focus in other areas of this essay, but one example of Harry noticing Ginny's expression is, finally, a wholly positive, humorous image.

"Some'n say m'name?" Mundungus mumbled sleepily. "I 'gree with Sirius...."

He raised a very grubby hand in the air as though voting, his droopy, bloodshot eyes unfocused. Ginny giggled.

OotP, pg. 81

The scene is supposed to be all about Harry getting acquainted with the Order, and Ginny is not included in the conversation. There is no literary significance to her giggling, except to show an example of Ginny's sense of humor. Harry appreciates humor. He misses Ron during their fight in GoF, and is bored with Hermione, because Ron is the one who can make him laugh. He gives the twins his Triwizard winnings because "we could all use a few laughs." This is a detail to highlight a trait in Ginny that is extremely valuable to Hary, and it is shown at a time when Harry could have overlooked her just as easily.

Traveling Eyes

Aside from expression, Harry notices minor details about Ginny that have no particular relevance to the scene. He notices her appearing in places where we don't need to know she is there, he describes her with a little extra detail, and he looks at her a little bit harder than he needs to look. It is true that JKR is a very detail-oriented writer, and minor details like these show that even if Ginny does not stand out from the crowd, she is certainly not excluded, as the "But Harry doesn't notice Ginny!" refrain would suggest. We see her collecting cutlery in a moment that is supposed to be about portraying Tonks's clumsiness (OotP, pgs. 81-82), we see her choosing a baked potato when there's no particular reason why we would care that she is doing so (OotP, pg. 170)--because Harry sees her doing those things. Based on these examples of focus, Harry notices Ginny at least as much as he notices anyone else in his life, and so the "Ginny might as well not exist to Harry" line should be left on the shelf with Ron the Death Eater and other ill-conceived fanon. In fact, these details show that Harry notices Ginny more than he needs to.

Through the forest of pointed black Hogwarts hats, Harry saw a long line of scared-looking first years filing into the Hall. Ginny was among them, easily visible because of her vivid Weasley hair.

CoS, pg. 76-77

It has already been established in plain text that Ginny is starting at Hogwarts, and so, unless she was eaten by the Squid, it should be implied that she is among the first years. The activity at hand is not to find Ginny, but to get Harry and Ron inside the castle, where they can be caught by Snape. There is no need, as far as the plot goes, to specify her appearance. This is an appearance of Ginny strictly for the sake of showing that Harry notices her.

"Why are they all sending Howlers?" asked Ginny, who was mending her copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi with Spellotape on the rug in front of the living room fire.

GoF, pg. 151

Ginny only briefly joins the conversation, which is centered on Mr. Weasley and Percy. Unless we later find out that there is some vital significance to this particular book getting passed on to Ginny and mended in front of the Burrow's living room fire, there was no plot relevance in Harry remarking that Ginny is mending this book. This is a detail that shows that Harry is paying close enough attention to Ginny to see which book she is mending.

He lay down his spoon in a lull in the general conversation. Mr. Weasley was leaning back in his chair, looking replete and relaxed, Tonks was yawning widely, her nose now back to normal, and Ginny, who had lured Crookshanks out from under the dresser, was sitting cross-legged on the floor, rolling butterbeer corks for him to chase.

OotP, pg. 87

Ginny is sitting on the floor, rather than at the table, so she is on the edges of the general vicinity, yet Harry's eyes travel over to her long enough to see her activity and note the position of her legs on the floor. He looks over the group, has to look a bit further to find Ginny, and he lingers on her for longer than he looks at the others.

Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George's heads turned from Sirius to Mrs. Weasley as though following a tennis rally. Ginny was kneeling amid a pile of abandoned butterbeer corks, watching the conversation with her mouth slightly open. Lupin's eyes were fixed on Sirius.

OotP, pg. 88

Again, Ginny is removed from the group, and Harry describes her in more detail than the ones at the table with him. He looks in her direction and focuses on her long enough to note her surroundings (butterbeer corks), her posture (kneeling) and the position of her mouth.

"I was never a prefect myself," said Tonks brightly from behind Harry as everybody moved toward the table to help themselves to food. Her hair was tomato-red and waist length today; she looked like Ginny's older sister. "My Head of House said I lacked certain necessary qualities."

"Like what?" said Ginny, who was choosing a baked potato.

OotP, pg. 170

Look at the way Harry describes Tonks. Rather than leave it up to the reader to deduce that the red-haired Tonks must look like an older Weasley daughter, Harry elaborates on her appearance by shifting the focus back onto Ginny.

The door of the nearest greenhouse opened and some fourth years spilled out of it, including Ginny.

"Hi," she said brightly as she passed. A few seconds later, Luna Lovegood emerged, trailing behind the rest of the class, a smudge of earth on her nose and her hair tied in a knot on the top of her head.

OotP, pg. 261

There is no need for Ginny to appear in this scene at all. She does nothing except appear, say "hi" to Harry, and move on. The scene is all about Harry, Luna and Hermione. Ginny appears just for the sake of having an appearance, and it shows that she is still friendly to Harry, but it does not contribute to the plot or setting. One is left to wonder: what was JKR's reason for throwing in a detail like this? It shows that Ginny is friendly to Harry, but this is nothing new. It does not portray inter-House relations or Harry's reputation in school, like the Slytherins telling him, "Thanks, Potter, we owe you one!" in Book 1, it is not as colorful or amusing, or as seamlessly integrated with the flow of the scene, as McGonagall yelling at a student who turned his friend into a badger in GoF, or her telling Peeves, "it unscrews the other way," in OotP. It is a conspicuous, yet inconsequential appearance by a character we already know, who appears, verbally greets Harry, divulges no necessary information, and then leaves the scene to the more relevant characters. In saying this, I do not mean to criticize JKR's writing choices; far from it. There is a different reason for this particular choice than for most details in JKR's writing, and the only reason that can be deduced so far is to show that Ginny can catch Harry's attention, however briefly she passes by.

Fred fell into a doze, his head sagging sideways onto his shoulder. Ginny was curled like a cat on her chair, but her eyes were open; Harry could see them reflecting the firelight. Ron was sitting with his head in his hands, whether awake or asleep it was impossible to tell. And he and Sirius looked at each other every so often, intruders upon the family grief, waiting...waiting....

OotP, pg. 479

The intensity of focus that Harry places on Ginny is remarkable. He describes all the Weasleys, but Ginny gets the most intimate detail. He sees the firelight reflected in her eyes. This is a time when Harry has absolutely no concern for what's going on in the fire and he is not engaged in conversation with Ginny, so he does not need to be looking her in the eye. There is a much more pressing matter at hand than the fire in Ginny's eyes. Regardless, Harry is looking very hard at her eyes. This is entirely inappropriate behavior for a boy who doesn't notice Ginny.

"Got 'em all," said Warrington, shoving Ron roughly forward into the room. "That one," he poked a thick finger at Neville, "tried to stop me taking her," he pointed at Ginny, who was trying to kick the shins of the large Slytherin girl holding her, "so I brought him along too."

"Good, good," said Umbridge, watching Ginny's struggles. "Well, it looks as though Hogwarts will shortly be a Weasley-free zone, doesn't it?"

OotP, pg. 742

This scene may not look like much, but it warrants a closer examination. Harry says that Umbridge is watching Ginny's struggles. Really, how does Harry know where Umbridge's attention is focused? If he can tell that Umbridge is watching Ginny's struggles, then that means Harry is watching Ginny's struggles, too. He is projecting his own focus onto Umbridge.

Watching Her Closely

Not only does Harry see interesting, though unnecessary details about Ginny throughout the books, he watches her closely. This behavior is evident as early as CoS.

Her Pepperup potion worked instantly, though it left the drinker smoking at the ears for several hours afterward. Ginny Weasley, who had been looking pale, was bullied into taking some by Percy. The steam pouring from under her vivid hair gave the impression that her whole head was on fire.

CoS, pg. 122

This is only a fleeting mention, but it brings Ginny to the forefront. Harry tells us there is a spate of colds among staff and students, but Ginny is the only example he names. He observes that she has been looking pale, and he makes an interesting comment on the effect of the steam coming out of her ears. This shows that he has been looking at her. It is, admittedly, also a plot-oriented detail, as Ginny's looking pale later turns out to be a symptom of her possession, but that does not make the imagery of her "vivid hair" appearing to be "on fire" any less interesting.

Just then, Ginny Weasley came over and sat down next to Ron. She looked tense and nervous, and Harry noticed that her hands were twisting in her lap.

"What's up?" said Ron, helping himself to more porridge.

Ginny didn't say anything, but glanced up and down the Gryffindor table with a scared look on her face that reminded Harry of someone, though he couldn't think of who.

"Spit it out," said Ron, watching her.

Harry suddenly realized who Ginny looked like. She was rocking backward and forward slightly in her chair, exactly like Dobby did when he was teetering on the edge of revealing forbidden information.

"I've got to tell you something," Ginny mumbled, carefully not looking at Harry.

"What is it?" said Harry.

Ginny looked as though she couldn't find the right words.

"What?" said Ron.

Ginny opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Harry leaned forward and spoke quietly, so that only Ginny and Ron could hear him.

"Is it something about the Chamber of Secrets? Have you seen something? Someone acting oddly?"

Ginny drew a deep breath and, at that precise moment, Percy Weasley appeared, looking tired and wan.

"If you've finished eating, I'll take that seat, Ginny. I'm starving, I've only just come off patrol duty."

Ginny jumped up as though her chair had just been electrified, gave Percy a fleeting, frightened look, and scampered away. Percy sat down and grabbed a mug from the center of the table.

CoS, pg. 286

Harry places a great deal of focus on Ginny when she sits down next to Ron. First, he notes her expression--tense and nervous--and sees that her hands are twisting in her lap, which requires that Harry look at her as a whole. Then, he puts a lot of thought into the way she looks with that scared expression. What is most interesting is the way he interacts with her. She does not look at Harry, and so he responds by talking to her directly, rather than leaving the questioning up to Ron. Ginny tries to speak, has difficulty, and Harry persists. Rather than allow her to shrink away from him, he reaches out to her, taking it upon himself to encourage her to continue. The more nervous she becomes, the more Harry pays attention to her. He wants to hear what she has to say, and he is watching her closely.

Determined to Interact

There is another interesting pattern of Harry focusing on Ginny during CoS, and that is in the way he interacts with her. It is blatantly obvious in this book that Ginny is incredibly shy and self-conscious around Harry, but he does not hold this against her. On the contrary, he treats her very kindly when she is at her most socially vulnerable around him. There are times when Harry is determined to interact with Ginny in CoS. He can tell she has a crush on him, but rather than be uncomfortable around her or try to avoid her awkward attention, which is natural behavior for boys that age around girls who clearly fancy them, Harry actively creates opportunities to interact with Ginny.

"Well, we'll manage," said Mrs. Weasley, but she looked worried. "I expect we'll be able to pick up a lot of Ginny's things secondhand."

"Oh, are you starting Hogwarts this year?" Harry asked Ginny.

She nodded, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair, and put her elbow in the butter dish. Fortunately no one saw this except Harry, because just then Ron's elder brother Percy walked in.

CoS, pg. 44

First, it should be noted that when Ginny puts her elbow in the butter dish, Harry not only notices, he is the only one who does. He sees things about her that her family overlooks, so let it never be said that Harry doesn't notice Ginny. More importantly, Harry makes conversation with her. Molly's remark on picking up Ginny's things secondhand should be a sufficient statement that she is going to Hogwarts this year, but rather than take Molly's word for it, Harry reaches out to make conversation with Ginny. It looks like he's using Molly's comment as an excuse to talk to Ginny, who is so shy she is reluctant to say anything in front of him. This shows that, while Harry does not reciprocate Ginny's crush on him, he does not think any less of her for it, either.

The crowd cheered and clapped and Harry found himself being presented with the entire works of Gilderoy Lockhart. Staggering slightly under their weight, he managed to make his way out of the limelight to the edge of the room, where Ginny was standing next to her new cauldron.

"You have these," Harry mumbled to her, tipping the books into the cauldron. "I'll buy my own."

CoS, pg. 61

Harry has been feeling guilty about having so much more gold than the Weasleys since their trip to Gringotts. He feels wretched that they have so little money to support so many people, but he knows he cannot persuade them to accept his charity. When he receives the Lockhart books for free, he suddenly has a very tactful way to alleviate the Weasleys' financial burden: give the books to one of their children and buy his own, that way he's not actually spending any money on them. This is a friendly gesture of generosity that would be most appropriate to direct at Ron, who is Harry's best friend, after all, and his link to the Weasley family, but instead, Harry gives the books to Ginny.

The question should be raised: why doesn't Harry just give the books to Ron? He and the rest of the family (except Ginny) are not standing far away. They are close enough that Lockhart was able to dive forward, grab Harry's arm, and pull him from their midst, so he knows where they are, and he will not have to walk very far to get to them. Instead, as soon as Harry has the books in his hands, he heads for Ginny, who is in a less conspicuous and probably more distant area: outside the limelight, at the edge of the room, and he gives her his free Lockhart books when she has not yet even spoken to him. Harry gives no thought to the risk of drawing attention to the Weasleys by handing his books to Ron where the crowd could see them, or making him self-conscious about his poverty and ashamed to be seen accepting his friend's charity. He gives no thought to how Lockhart would react to seeing him offer the free books to his friend. In fact, he doesn't think at all; he simply makes a beeline for the little girl standing next to her new cauldron outside the limelight. This shows that, first, Harry notices Ginny standing alone in that more remote part of the room. Second, he bestows attention on her, which shows again that he does not object to her crush on him. He chooses Ginny for his gesture of generosity, when he could just as easily have chosen Ron, or any of the other Weasleys, but in doing so, I do not think that he is trying to make a statement that he prefers their sister over them. He is looking for a way to interact with Ginny, and in the free Lockhart books, he has his opportunity. They are soon interrupted by the appearance of Draco Malfoy, which leads up to the fisticuff between Arthur and Lucius, which means they are not allowed time for further interaction.

They were almost at King's Cross when Harry remembered something.

"Ginny--what did you see Percy doing, that he didn't want you to tell anyone?"

"Oh, that," said Ginny, giggling. "Well--Percy's got a girlfriend."

Fred dropped a stack of books on George's head.

CoS, pg. 340-341

Here we see another occasion of Harry reaching out to make conversation with Ginny. He remembers that she was trying to tell him something before, on pg. 286, but by now, the topic is no longer important. In fact, by now he has been shown that her secret was not about Percy, it was about the Chamber, and yet Harry brings up Percy's silly story anyway. He poses the question so that he'll have something to say to Ginny, and he wants her to talk to him, and this time, at long last, she does, and it is such a silly, humorous story she tells him. This is the kind of interaction Harry likes to have; enjoying the train ride with his friends and talking about mundane, harmless things.

Separation Anxiety

In OotP, Harry has to face his first train ride to school without Ron. Every year up until then, Harry rides the train (or flies in the Anglia) to Hogwarts in Ron's company. Every year since PoA, he has also had Hermione there, but this changes in OotP, when Ron and Hermione become prefects. Of course they rejoin Harry eventually, and are able to spend part of the journey with him when they can escape from prefect duties, but still, Harry is not happy about having to go without Ron. Just as he's feeling bereft of his best friend, Ginny takes him to find a compartment with room for all of them, and so this is the first train journey that Harry spends entirely in Ginny's company but not all in Ron and Hermione's. During this train ride, Harry appears to become attached to Ginny, because he's not very comfortable with being away from her when it's over.

Harry and Ginny became separated as they moved off along the platform and out through the station.

OotP, pg. 196

...

"...where's Crookshanks?" [asked Hermione]

"Ginny's got him," said Harry. "There she is...."

Ginny had just emerged from the crowd, clutching a squirming Crookshanks.

OotP, pg. 197

Notice how Harry says he becomes separated from Ginny. They leave the train with Luna and Neville, too, but Harry doesn't care about getting separated from them. He parts company with Luna (who is carrying Ron's owl, so Harry really should be keeping track of her) and Neville, but he only gets "separated from" Ginny. What's more, though he gets separated from her, he does not entirely lose track of her. When Hermione asks after her cat, Harry immediately knows where Ginny is. He doesn't take any time in spotting her, which is made even more significant by the fact that Ginny's lesser height means she'd be easier to lose in a crowd. He is able to spot her so seamlessly because he notices her. He has enough interest in where she is that he knows where to look.

Luna drifted away from them at the Ravenclaw table. The moment they reached Gryffindor's, Ginny was hailed by some fellow fourth years and left to sit with them; Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville found seats together about halfway down the table between Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor House ghost, and Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown, the last two of whom gave Harry airy, overly friendly greetings that made him quite sure they had stopped talking about him a split second before.

OotP, pg. 202

When the Trio plus Neville sit down to dinner, Ginny does not sit with them, but there is a reason for this. Harry is not content to lose sight of Ginny, and JKR is not content to have them sit at the table together with no significant interaction. When Harry becomes separated from Ginny for the second time in as many chapters, he makes sure to provide an explanation. We know exactly where she went and why she doesn't stay with the Trio, and that is because she has a social life separate from them.

Turning Point

"I don't like him much either," admitted Hermione, "but he overheard me talking to Ernie and Hannah at the Hufflepuff table and he seemed really interested in coming, so what could I say? But the more people the better really--I mean, Michael Corner and his friends wouldn't have come if he hadn't been going out with Ginny--"

Ron, who had been draining the last few drops from his butterbeer bottle, gagged and sprayed butterbeer down his front.

"He's WHAT?" said Ron, outraged, his ears now resembling curls of raw beef. "She's going out with--my sister's going--what d'you mean, Michael Corner?"

"Well, that's why he and his friends came, I think--well, they're obviously interested in learning defense, but if Ginny hadn't told Michael what was going on--"

"When did this--when did she?"

"They met at the Yule Ball and they got together at the end of last year," said Hermione composedly. They had turned into the High Street and she paused outside Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, where there was a handsome display of pheasant-feather quills in the window. "Hmm...I could do with a new quill."

She turned into the shop. Harry and Ron followed her.

"Which one was Michael Corner?" Ron demanded furiously.

"The dark one," said Hermione.

"I didn't like him," said Ron at once.

"Big surprise," said Hermione under her breath.

"But," said Ron, following Hermione along a row of quills in copper pots, "I thought Ginny fancied Harry!"

Hermione looked at him rather pityingly and shook her head.

"Ginny used to fancy Harry, but she gave up on him months ago. Not that she doesn't like you, of course," she added kindly to Harry while she examined a long black-and-gold quill.

Harry, whose head was still full of Cho's parting wave, did not find this subject quite as interesting as Ron, who was positively quivering with indignation, but it did bring something home to him that until now he had not really registered.

"So that's why she talks now?" he asked Hermione. "She never used to talk in front of me."

"Exactly," said Hermione. "Yes, I think I'll have this one...."

OotP, pgs. 347-8

Here we finally have an explanation for the change in Ginny's behavior between GoF and OotP. What is most telling of all is that the explanation comes from Harry himself.

The first point of significance is that when Harry says Ginny never used to talk in front of him, he is not entirely accurate. Though this can be said of her for much of CoS (and Harry makes an effort to encourage her to talk to him), it is not true that she never speaks in front of him before his fifth year. She speaks to him in the compartment on the way home in CoS, and in Ron's room and in the Gryffindor common room in GoF. In fact, looking at Ginny's behavior in GoF, she is already on the way out of her shell. It is very true that Ginny has never been so confident and open around Harry before OotP, but Harry has exaggerated the change in her behavior. The difference is not really a change in Ginny's personality, but more in Harry's perception of her. Harry notices her much more during his fifth year.

The second point of significance is that the conversation is not about Ginny and her attitude. The conversation is primarily about Michael Corner, and how Ginny is going out with him. Harry does not "need" to think of how Ginny is suddenly being herself around him, but he does think about her. The subject that Harry does not find so interesting is Michael Corner. Harry doesn't care about Michael. He is thinking about Ginny Weasley.

Third, Harry explains that his head is "still full of Cho's parting wave." JKR makes sure to provide an airtight explanation for why Harry is not more emotionally affected by the news of Ginny's new relationship, because a lack of interest in her is not the reason. Despite his preoccupation with Cho, however, Harry still thinks about Ginny in a way that is not warranted by the discussion. Harry has caught onto the change in Ginny's behavior, and he has been paying attention to her since that summer. The changes have been present in his mind for all this time, and he has been wondering about them, looking for an explanation. With the news of Michael Corner, he finally has his explanation, and he makes the connection on his own. Hermione is frequently used for expository purposes in JKR's writing, but this time, she doesn't give Harry any guidance in arriving at his conclusion. In OotP, her role as an expository character is arguably the most pronounced in her offering romantic advice to Harry, centering on Cho. She tells him everything he might need to know about his short-term love interest, and some about girls in general. When Ginny is the girl in question, Hermione is available for romantic counsel, but Harry does not need her as such. He comes up with the answers himself. She explains what has happened, and Harry takes it to the next step, while Hermione agrees with his insight. "Exactly," she confirms.

This conversation reveals the true model of Harry and Ginny's gently brewing romance. By giving up on Harry and moving on with her life, Ginny is able to change in a way that makes Harry notice her more than ever. This is the story of "boy ironically falls for girl only after she stops waiting for him," which is a much more satisfying cliché than the "hero rescues the damsel" red herring, which we now see was, first, a part of the plot of the second book, and second, a stage in the development of their connection, but not the overall dynamic. Harry notices that Ginny is much more confident around him than ever before, and he figures out why, and he thinks about her even when he would have us believe his thoughts are all concentrated on another girl, who is no longer his love interest by the end of the book.

Now, this is not the first time Harry is able to recognize a pattern in Ginny's behavior in relation to him. He notices a different pattern at work during CoS.

The moment she saw Harry, Ginny accidentally knocked her porridge bowl to the floor with a loud clatter. Ginny seemed very prone to knocking things over whenever Harry entered a room. She dived under the table to retrieve the bowl and emerged with her face glowing like the setting sun. Pretending he hadn't noticed this, Harry sat down and took the toast Mrs. Weasley offered him.

CoS, pg. 43

Harry's use of "pretending he hadn't noticed this" means he really does notice her, he's just not going to embarrass her, and what's more, he registers the pattern in her. Ginny knocks things over when Harry enters a room. She is so taken with him, she loses control of her motor skills. The passage in OotP is an inversion of this model. Ginny is not clumsy anymore, she is extremely candid and self-possessed, and this makes her more interesting to Harry. He has always seen her, but now, he is also beginning to think about her.

In the next chapter after Hermione tells the boys about Ginny and Michael, we get a significant follow-up on this new development.

"Never mind spots, the idiots can't come over here now, it'll look really suspicious--sit down!" she mouthed to Ernie and Hannah, gesturing frantically to them to rejoin the Hufflepuff table. "Later! We'll--talk--to--you--later!"

"I'll tell Michael," said Ginny impatiently, swinging herself off her bench. "The fool, honestly..."

She hurried off toward the Ravenclaw table; Harry watched her go. Cho was sitting not far away, talking to the curly-haired friend she had brought along to the Hog's Head. Would Umbridge's notice scare her off meeting them again?

OotP, pgs. 354-5

The first time we see Ginny after finding out about how she has given up on Harry, something noteworthy happens. She gets up to talk to her boyfriend, and Harry watches her go. He is soon distracted by the sight of Cho, who we all know has been occupying Harry's romantic attention since his third year, but he cannot take back his watching Ginny go. The fact remains that he keeps his eyes on Ginny as she goes to speak with her boyfriend. She has Harry's attention. Additionally, he watches her go just after she calls said new boyfriend "the fool." This casts Michael, and Ginny's relationship with him, in a negative light in front of Harry. At no point in the book do we see Ginny having a good time with Michael or doing anything "couply" with him, because Harry doesn't see them that way. As with his watching her wince as Neville stepped on her toes at the Yule Ball, he sees Ginny partnered with another boy, but he only sees their partnership as a negative experience for her. This means he has no reason to be jealous of Michael. What he sees of their relationship allows him to ignore the boy and focus on the girl.

Positive Assessments

Throughout OotP, Harry watches Ginny, and he likes what he sees. I'm not talking about how she looks; that much has already been covered. This is about what she does. He focuses on Ginny's actions, and comments favorably on them. Ginny impresses Harry, and his eagerness to assess her actions so favorably suggests a developing, though still subconscious, attraction to her.

They found an unpleasant-looking silver instrument, something like a many-legged pair of tweezers, which scuttled up Harry's arm like a spider when he picked it up, and attempted to puncture his skin; Sirius seized it and smashed it with a heavy book entitled Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy. There was a musical box that emitted a faintly sinister, tinkling tune when wound, and they all found themselves becoming curiously weak and sleepy until Ginny had the sense to slam the lid shut; also a heavy locket that none of them could open, a number of ancient seals and, in a dusty box, an Order of Merlin, First Class, that had been awarded to Sirius's grandfather for "Services to the Ministry."

OotP, pg. 116

There is a distinct tone of bias in the narration of Ginny's action. Two characters are picked out of the crowd in how they handle the task at hand; Sirius and Ginny. When Sirius rises to the occasion, he gets a neutral description, and it is no secret by this point that Sirius is someone very dear to Harry. His action is neither exalted nor dismissed; he simply does what he does. Ginny, however, doesn't just slam the lid shut, she has the sense to slam the lid shut. Her action is not only named, but praised. The narrator, who is established as a third-person version of Harry, has an opinion of Ginny's contribution to the effort, and it is clearly positive.

Harry walked around the other pairs, trying to correct those who were doing the spell wrong. Ginny was teamed with Michael Corner; she was doing very well, whereas Michael was either very bad or unwilling to jinx her. Ernie Macmillan was flourishing his wand unnecessarily, giving his partner time to get in under his guard; the Creevey brothers were enthusiastic but erratic and mainly responsible for all the books leaping off the shelves around them. Luna Lovegood was similarly patchy, occasionally sending Justin Finch-Fletchley's wand spinning out of his hand, at other times merely causing his hair to stand on end.

OotP, pg. 394

This paragraph is not alone in Harry's relating the progression of the first DA meeting. Ginny is the first person he describes, and he has something unequivocally positive to say about her; she is "doing very well." She is the only one who is doing well, at least the only one that Harry sees as such. He never takes a look at how Ron and Hermione are doing; we don't get an idea of their performance at the meeting until they bicker about it afterwards. In more than three pages of Harry's observations, Ginny is the only character who is specifically named as doing so well. She is the first person Harry notices, and the only one he individually watches acting appropriately and performing effectively against a partner whose attention is undivided. Harry notices Ginny, and he views her favorably.

The very best thing you could say about the match was that it was short; the Gryffindor spectators had to endure only twenty-two minutes of agony. It was hard to say what the worst thing was: Harry thought it was a close-run contest between Ron's fourteenth failed save, Sloper missing the Bludger but hitting Angelina in the mouth with his bat, and Kirke shrieking as Zacharias Smith zoomed at him carrying the Quaffle and falling backward off his broom. The miracle was that Gryffindor only lost by ten points: Ginny managed to snatch the Snitch from right under Hufflepuff Seeker Summerby's nose, so that the final score was two hundred and forty versus two hundred and thirty.

OotP, pg. 575

Ginny is, once again, the only person that Harry describes as doing a good job. Given their level of experience, the Chasers probably made a decent show, but Harry says nothing about them except for Angelina taking a bat in the mouth. While the new Beaters are miserable and Ron continues to flounder, Ginny's performance is the miracle of the game. She is the one who spares the Gryffindors further humiliation, and gets their score high enough to keep them in the running for the Quidditch Cup. She is the bright spot in Harry's mind as he describes the match.

"You can't come down here!" Ginny was calling to the crowd. "No, sorry, you're going to have to go round by the swiveling staircase, someone's let off Garroting Gas just along here--"

They could hear people complaining; one surly voice said, "I can't see no gas..."

"That's because it's colorless," said Ginny in a convincingly exasperated voice, "but if you want to walk through it, carry on, then we'll have your body as proof for the next idiot who didn't believe us...."

OotP, pg. 739

Harry pays Ginny a compliment in his description of her "convincingly exasperated voice." He can hear every word she's saying, and he thinks she's doing a good job of it, too. He gives a positive assessment of her acting ability. All these examples of positive assessment show that Harry is able to pick Ginny out of a group and he sees her in a favorable light.

Eye-Catches

Then there are my personal favorites among all the examples of how Harry notices Ginny: the eye-catches. These little incidents, brief and subtle as they are, point to a fine emotional rapport between Harry and Ginny. They reach for each other to share these quiet, silly moments, and enjoy them together.

"Ah, there's Penelope!" said Percy, smoothing his hair and going pink again. Ginny caught Harry's eye, and they both turned away to hide their laughter as Percy strode over to a girl with long, curly hair, walking with his chest thrown out so that she couldn't miss his shiny badge.

PoA, pg. 71

This is the first eye-catch between these two, and it is made more remarkable by the fact that it is not in OotP, the book in which Ginny bursts onto the scene like the fireball she is. It is not even in CoS, where Ginny is quiet, but vital to the plot. This is in PoA, the book in which she barely appears. Still, she is not too shy to catch Harry's eye. She is able to grab his attention enough to share a private joke with him. They communicate without words, by laughing at the same thing.

"Blimey!" said Ron, also staring at the man.

"Oh my goodness," said Hermione suddenly, sounding breathless. "Professor Lockhart!"

Their ex-Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher pushed open the doors and moved toward them, wearing a long lilac dressing gown.

"Well, hello there!" he said. "I expect you'd like my autograph, would you?"

"Hasn't changed much, has he?" Harry muttered to Ginny, who grinned.

OotP, pg. 509

Again, Harry shares a private joke with Ginny, and this time, he turns to her for the silliness. Notice that they are in the company of Ron and Hermione, who are Harry's best friends, and Harry could have shared his little joke with either of them. In fact, he probably would not have caused Lockhart any offense by saying it out loud for all his friends to hear. However, Harry chooses Ginny to hear his smartassed comment about Lockhart, and he knows how to make her grin. He singles her out, just for the sake of having a quick grin together.

"Daddy sold it to them," said Luna vaguely, turning a page of The Quibbler. "He got a very good price for it too, so we're going to go on an expedition to Sweden this summer and see if we can catch a Crumple-Horned Snorkack."

Hermione seemed to struggle with herself for a moment, then said, "That sounds lovely."

Ginny caught Harry's eye and looked away quickly, grinning.

OotP, pg. 848

For the third time, Ginny catches Harry's eye, and they share a private joke over the foibles of the other two girls in the Sextet. Ginny is able to catch Harry's eye because he looks at her. She gets his attention because he lets her.

All of these qualities of focus are very strange behavior indeed for a boy who "doesn't notice Ginny." He notices small and inconsequential things about her, from her facial expressions to her choice of textbooks, even when she is outside the center of attention. He watches her closely, he makes an effort to interact with her. He becomes vaguely uneasy for some odd reason when he is separated from her. He thinks about her even when he's in the middle of thinking about a girl who is established as his crush. She stands out in his mind and makes a thoroughly positive impression on him with her performance. She occupies his attention enough to catch his eye and share silly moments. Harry focuses on Ginny, over and over again, and now that she has found the confidence to be herself around him, he not only sees her, but has started thinking about her, too. This level of focus is appropriate for the developing love interest of the hero. Taken alone, most of these clues could be attributed to plot relevance and the development of an innocent friendship and taken no further, but together, they add up to show that Harry is growing to like Ginny very much.


Protectiveness

Harry has long had a real protective streak towards Ginny. Her safety, happiness and dignity are very important to him. This attitude begins in passive observations during Chamber of Secrets, when Harry disagrees with the way Ginny’s brothers are dealing with her.

Ginny Weasley, who sat next to Colin Creevey in Charms, was distraught, but Harry felt that Fred and George were going the wrong way about cheering her up. They were taking turns covering themselves with fur or boils and jumping out at her from behind statues. They only stopped when Percy, apoplectic with rage, told them he was going to write to Mrs. Weasley and tell her Ginny was having nightmares.

CoS, pg. 185

We later find out that Ginny’s distress over Colin Creevey is linked to her own confusion, fear and uncertainty over her own possession. However, that is Ginny's point of view, not Harry's. At this point in the book, Harry has no idea that the soul of Tom Riddle is involved, or that Ginny is being used in the attacks. All he knows is that she is distraught, and the twins are not handling her very sensitively. His remark that he felt they were going the wrong way in their approach implies that Harry has an idea of how he thinks Ginny should be treated when she is distraught. There is a subtler, but similar principle at work when he narratively remarks that Ginny was "bullied into taking some [Pepperup Potion] by Percy." (CoS, pg. 122) He thinks Percy has bullied Ginny, so he thinks Percy could have been nicer in his care of his sister. This is a passive, immature, indecisive type of protectiveness: he is defensive of her, but he does not yet do anything about it. Still, he does watch what is happening to her, and he has his own opinions of the kind of treatment she should get from her brothers. This is a very interesting view for him to have of someone who hasn't yet spoken to him, doesn't act like herself around him, and whom he hasn't yet gotten to know. He does not forget all about his concern for Ginny's welfare, either, after Chamber of Secrets is over. His protectiveness appears again in Order of the Phoenix when there is an incident that could have meant injury for Ginny.

There was a lot of commotion in the house. From what he heard as he dressed at top speed, Harry gathered that Fred and George had bewitched their trunks to fly downstairs to save the bother of carrying them, with the result that they had hurtled straight into Ginny and knocked her down two flights of stairs into the hall; Mrs. Black and Mrs. Weasley were both screaming at the top of their voices.

"--COULD HAVE DONE HER A SERIOUS INJURY, YOU IDIOTS--"

"--FILTHY HALF-BREEDS, BESMIRCHING THE HOUSE OF MY FATHERS--"

Hermione came hurrying into the room looking flustered just as Harry was putting on his trainers; Hedwig was swaying on her shoulder, and she was carrying a squirming Crookshanks in her arms.

"Mum and Dad just sent Hedwig back"--the owl fluttered obligingly over and perched on top of her cage--"are you ready yet?"

"Nearly--Ginny all right?" Harry asked, shoving on his glasses.

OotP, pgs. 179-180

This scene is not necessary for the plot. The incident does contribute to the rushed, chaotic environment of the house while everyone gets ready to leave for the train station, but the twins could have knocked anyone else down those stairs and achieved the same results. For some reason, JKR placed Ginny in that role, and Harry is more worried about her than he needs to be. What is truly significant about his reaction is that he doesn't need to be concerned about Ginny's safety. Her mother's words alone answer his question before he presents it to Hermione. The words "could have done" mean that no major harm was actually done. Molly is angry at the twins because they behaved unwisely, not because they inflicted any injury on their sister. However, Harry is not satisfied with Molly's implication that Ginny was not badly hurt. He has to make sure she’s okay, and so he checks up with Hermione, who gives him adequate reassurance.

This attitude on Harry's part does not imply weakness or helplessness in Ginny. For all that she is lambasted as a "damsel in distress," Ginny does not put herself in any position from which she needs to be rescued by her Prince Charming. For example, Hermione could hardly be accused of damselhood by anyone who has taken the time to read the books, but Ron's protectiveness of her; his concern for her safety, and his eagerness to defend her honor, is one of the ways that Ron/Hermione shippers recognize his love for her. Harry's protectiveness of Ginny is best exemplified during his quest to save her life in Chamber of Secrets. By this, I do not mean the fact that he went into the Chamber at all. This is a direct text-based essay, and as such, I do not consider the fact of his rescue of her to be significant for shipping. In fact, I do not agree with the use of rescue action alone as shipping evidence. It should not be used for Harry/Ginny, or Harry/Hermione, or Neville/Ginny, or else we’ll have to start using it for ships like James/Snape. If Harry felt no emotional attachment to Ginny, I do not think he would have left his favorite family to lose their only daughter. The fact that he goes to rescue her is the action of a hero. The emotions surrounding his rescue of Ginny from the Chamber are where the true significance lies. The way he thinks about the situation, and the way he views Ginny during and especially after the rescue mission, illustrate a level of priority and connection that go well beyond the parameters of Harry’s "saving-people-thing." Harry does not go into the Chamber to rescue Ron’s little sister; he goes in there for someone whom he cares about for her own sake.

The rescue scenario begins when Harry and Ron find out that Ginny has been taken into the Chamber, and when she disappears, Harry feels anguish and misery entirely his own.

It was probably the worst day of Harry's entire life. He, Ron, Fred and George sat together in a corner of the Gryffindor common room, unable to say anything to each other. Percy wasn't there. He had gone to send an owl to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, then shut himself up in his dormitory.

CoS, pg. 295

Harry could see the sun sinking, blood-red, below the skyline. This was the worst he had ever felt. If only there was something they could do. Anything.

CoS, pg. 295

When observing Harry's emotional processes during this episode, it is important to keep in mind that Ginny is not Harry's best friend. In fact, he barely knows her. He knows she has a crush on him, but he has not yet become very well-acquainted with her. The day she disappears is probably the worst day of his life. Thinking she might be dead is the worst he has ever felt. What's more is that he is just as miserable as Ron, Fred and George, with all of them unable to speak to each other, but Harry's pain is not sympathy for them. "The Gryffindors around them were so miserable, and felt so sorry for the Weasleys, that nobody tried to stop them." (CoS, pg. 296) The author acknowledges the prevalence of sympathy and pity for the Weasley family, but the way she removes this particular emotion to a group that does not include Harry suggests that his problem is something else. He does not feel sorry for the Weasleys, he feels miserable over the apparent loss of Ginny in her own right. Harry has had a very difficult life. He lost his parents at a very young age and had to grow up in an abusive, unloving environment, and he has already faced off with Voldemort once, so he has had a lot of very bad days. When he says it's probably the worst day of his entire life, and the worst he's ever felt, he is in a terrible state.

One may, legitimately, ask, what is Harry's motivation? Is his concern for her based on an emotional connection with Ginny as an individual, or is he acting on a determination, as mentioned above, to spare his favorite family from losing their only daughter? There is no reason why a sense of responsibility to her family, which will be explained in a later section of this essay, cannot play a role in Harry's actions, but that does not keep him from feeling a certain connection with her in her own right. Harry's thought processes during the rescue mission make no mention of what her loss would do to the Weasleys, or what it would be like if they lost her, but they do repeatedly come back to Ginny. He is constantly thinking about her; the faintest chance she could be alive, what she might look like if they found her, how long she's been in the Chamber, wondering where she is once he enters the main room, how much life is dwindling out of Ginny, how upset she is over what might happen to her.

This level of cognitive focus on Ginny is not required of Harry in order to make a successful rescue. When he and Ron follow the spiders into the Forbidden Forest, Harry does not think about Hermione. Ron is the one who is motivated by the sight of Hermione's empty seat, so JKR shows that their journey into the forest could be viewed as an effort on her behalf, but Harry's thoughts do not stray to her at any point during that adventure. Ron is thinking of Hermione. The only individual that Harry thinks about during that episode is Hagrid. He also mentions the Petrified basilisk victims, a group which includes Hermione, but he does not pick anyone out of that crowd. In fact, Harry's thoughts during the spider episode are primarily about finding out what they need to know while getting in and out of the forest in one piece. Now, the nature of the spider incident as a dangerous venture is not exactly comparable to the Chamber rescue, but Rowling presents in it a range of emotional investment that can be applied to other rescue efforts. Harry's state of mind as he proceeds through the Chamber rescue does not mirror his mentality when he follows the spiders, which is much more focused on the immediate danger presented by the forest and its creatures, with few mentions of the goal at the end of the journey. When he goes to rescue Ginny from the basilisk, his thoughts of her carry him through the ordeal. No matter where they are, or what is happening, Harry is always focusing on her, all by herself. The author portrays him as acting, always, with Ginny on his mind, not her family. Ginny's disappearance is a personal loss to Harry. She means more to him than just Ron's little sister.

As he and Ron proceed with their rescue mission, Harry is constantly afraid of what might be happening to Ginny, as he does his best "not to imagine what Ginny might look like if they found her" (CoS, pg. 302), and when the ceiling caves in, separating him from Ron and Lockhart, Harry still doesn't stop thinking about Ginny.

There was a thud and another "ow!" from behind the rocks. They were wasting time. Ginny had already been in the Chamber of Secrets for hours....Harry knew there was only one thing to do.

"Wait here," he called to Ron. "Wait with Lockhart. I'll go on....If I'm not back in an hour..."

CoS, pg. 304

The ceiling collapse is, of course, a plot device to get Harry alone with Tom Riddle, but there is some very interesting characterization at work there. This is Ron's sister, and the way Harry says, "If I'm not back in an hour" means he knows he could get killed in the attempt, but he doesn't even try to move some of the rock out of the way. He is much more concerned with how long Ginny has been in the Chamber, so much that he thinks it would be a waste of time to try to keep her brother in the mission. This is Harry's task, and he is so single-minded in his determination to find her, "there was only one thing to do."

Harry's personal nobility doesn't usually try this hard or get so personal. His "saving-people-thing" normally means he saves lives when he comes into the situation for another purpose. He went into the Forbidden Forest, following the spiders, not realizing he would encounter arachnids the size of elephants. He went to save the Stone for the sake of the world in general, not with a particular person in mind. He rescues Gabrielle Delacour from the lake when he's already there because he was entered into the Triwizard Tournament. He persuades Remus and Sirius not to kill Peter when Pettigrew's presence does not present an immediate danger to anyone's safety that Harry is yet aware of, and they're in the Shrieking Shack because Harry went after Ron. He rescues Dudley from the dementors when they're also threatening Harry. He is always quick to step in and save lives, as he values human life and does not scare easily, but this situation is quite exceptional for him. He is aware that he is entering a mortally dangerous area, and he keeps going, because he thinks of Ginny. His thoughts are focused on her, and the knowledge of her, having been in the Chamber for so long, draws him into a situation that he is consciously aware presents a serious threat to his life. Harry does not ordinarily go so far out of his way and knowingly put himself at so much risk unless he is going after someone he cares about.

And between the feet, face down, lay a small, black-robed figure with flaming-red hair.

"Ginny!" Harry muttered, sprinting to her and dropping to his knees. "Ginny--don't be dead--please don't be dead--" He flung his wand aside, grabbed Ginny's shoulders, and turned her over. Her face was white as marble, and as cold, yet her eyes were closed, so she wasn't Petrified. But then she must be--

"Ginny, please wake up," Harry muttered desperately, shaking her. Ginny's head lolled hopelessly from side to side.

"She won't wake," said a soft voice.

[snip]

"What d'you mean, she won't wake?" Harry said desperately. "She's not--she's not--?"

"She's still alive," said Riddle. "But only just."

CoS, pg. 307

The intensity and focus of emotion here are remarkable. As soon as Harry sees her there, he says, "Ginny--don't be dead--please don't be dead--" which is arguably comparable to the way he feels about Hermione being cursed by Dolohov during OotP. "Don't let her be dead, don't let her be dead, it's my fault if she’s dead...." (OotP, pg. 793) However, the first difference is that Ginny is not Harry's best friend of five years. She is supposedly nothing more than his best friend's little sister who has barely spoken to him, and so it is strange that he should feel a similar level of emotion for her. Still, he is desperate to see her wake up, so much so that he begs it of her directly. He speaks to Ginny, as if hoping she can hear him, while he speaks about Hermione. There is a much greater tone of intimacy and connection when he finds Ginny unconscious in the Chamber. This is even more apparent in the way he flings his wand aside to grab her shoulders. This, too, may be considered a plot device to put Harry's wand in Riddle's hand, but once again, it involves some interesting characterization. Riddle never succeeds in using the wand on Harry, who manages to kill the Basilisk without it, and he probably didn't know any spells that would have been effective against a 60-foot basilisk anyway, so one is left to wonder if Harry's being without his wand is really so vital to the plot after all. The wand doesn't just fall out of his hand as he runs to Ginny's side. He flings it aside just so he can grab her shoulders. Harry has no time for trivialities like keeping his wand at hand when he finds Ginny. He is "desperate" to see that she wakes up; there are two uses of the adverb "desperately," both used in the same context, on one page. Ginny's well-being is extremely important to Harry, and the emotions at work when he finds her are remarkably personal. He genuinely cares about her.

"How did Ginny get like this?" he asked slowly.

CoS, pg. 309

When Riddle is preparing to explain everything to Harry, as he has been wanting to do for months, and Harry registers "something very funny going on here," the first thing he wants to know is how Ginny ended up in this situation. He doesn't simply ask what is wrong with her and how to help her, he wants to know what happened to her. This is not about looking out for her family, this is a matter of wanting to learn about Ginny. As Riddle is about to tell him anyway, it is not necessary for the plot that Harry present this question. He presents the question because he wants to know about Ginny.

"If I say it myself, Harry, I've always been able to charm the people I needed. So Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted....I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her..."

"What d'you mean?" said Harry, whose mouth had gone very dry.

CoS, pg. 310

When Harry learns of the way Riddle has used Ginny, his mouth goes dry. The issue is no longer Ginny's physical life and safety, but her personal dignity and privacy. The news of Ginny being violated in such a manner is so unspeakable to Harry, his mouth goes dry, and his reaction only becomes stronger from there.

"Yes," said Riddle calmly. "Of course, she didn't know what she was doing at first. It was very amusing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries...far more interesting, they became....Dear Tom," he recited, watching Harry's horrified face, "I think I'm losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don't know how they got there. Dear Tom, I can't remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I've got paint all down my front. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I'm pale and I'm not myself. I think he suspects me...There was another attack today and I don't know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I'm going mad....I think I'm the one attacking everyone, Tom!"

Harry's fists were clenched, the nails digging deep into his palms.

"It took a very long time for stupid little Ginny to stop trusting her diary," said Riddle. "But she finally became suspicious and tried to dispose of it. And that's where you came in, Harry. You found it, and I couldn't have been more delighted. Of all the people who could have picked it up, it was you, the very person I was most anxious to meet...."

"And why did you want to meet me?" said Harry. Anger was coursing through him, and it was an effort to keep his voice steady.

CoS, pg. 311

"So I made Ginny write her own farewell on the wall and come down here to wait. She struggled and cried and became very boring. But there isn't much life left in her....She put too much into the diary, into me. Enough to let me leave its pages at last....I have been waiting for you to appear since we arrived here. I knew you'd come. I have many questions for you, Harry Potter."

"Like what?" Harry spat, fists still clenched.

CoS, pg. 313

First, Harry is "horrified" to hear Tom talk about Ginny in such a callous, inhuman way. Then he becomes angry on her behalf, with his nails digging into his palms. He keeps his fists clenched like that for three pages, while Tom continues to talk to him about how he's been using Ginny. You may wonder, would Harry feel any differently about hearing Riddle talk about doing those same things to anyone else? We may never know if his anger over Ginny's exploitation is any greater than how he would feel about any other person in the same situation, because JKR has not placed any other character in a similar position. All we know is that Riddle does relate the tale of how he violated Ginny on such a deeply personal level, and Harry does become so viscerally angry that he digs his nails into his palms for three pages. Also, by this point, the situation has changed a great deal. Harry went in thinking it was a simple matter of rescuing Ginny from a basilisk, but Tom has revealed to Harry that it was all a trap to lure him in. It's Harry who is really under attack; Ginny is collateral damage. Nevertheless, Harry's reaction is anger, after Tom finishes describing how he used, violated and hurt Ginny. His anger on Ginny's behalf comes before fear for his own life over what those questions might be.

Harry was thinking fast, weighing his chances. Riddle had the wand. He, Harry, had Fawkes and the Sorting Hat, neither of which would be much good in a duel. It looked bad, all right...but the longer Riddle stood there, the more life was dwindling out of Ginny...and in the meantime, Harry noticed suddenly, Riddle's outline was becoming clearer, more solid...If it had to be a fight between him and Riddle, better sooner than later.

CoS, pg. 316

Once again, Harry knows the fight is over him, and that he is about to enter into battle with the soul of a teenaged Voldemort for his own life, yet he is still focused on the race against time for Ginny. Even when he knows his own life is under attack, just because of who he is, Ginny is still his first priority. He cares more about saving her life than his own.

When the battle is over, Harry is still so focused on Ginny that everything that has just happened to him no longer matters.

Then came a faint moan from the end of the Chamber. Ginny was stirring. As Harry hurried toward her, she sat up. Her bemused eyes traveled from the huge form of the dead basilisk, over Harry, in his blood-soaked robes, then to the diary in his hand. She drew a great, shuddering gasp and tears began to pour down her face.

"Harry--oh, Harry--I tried to tell you at b-breakfast, but I c-couldn't say it in front of Percy--it was me, Harry--but I--I s-swear I d-didn't mean to--R-Riddle made me, he t-took me over--and--how did you kill that--that thing? W-where's Riddle? The last thing I r-remember is him coming out of the diary--"

"It's all right," said Harry, holding up the diary, and showing Ginny the fang hole, "Riddle's finished. Look! Him and the basilisk. C'mon, Ginny, let's get out of here--"

"I'm going to be expelled!" Ginny wept as Harry helped her awkwardly to her feet. "I've looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since B-Bill came and n-now I'll have to leave and--w-what'll Mum and Dad say?"

CoS, pg. 323

His energy in hurrying toward her is especially noteworthy when one considers that in the previous paragraph, "Shaking all over, Harry pulled himself up. His head was spinning as though he'd just traveled miles by Floo powder." (CoS, pg. 322) He is slow in gathering up his wand and the hat, but when he hears Ginny stirring, he forgets his fatigue and hurries toward her. There is nothing wrong with Harry being exhausted. He has learned that none other than Voldemort has been orchestrating the attacks on Muggle-borns, he has fought a 60-foot magical snake, and he has taken a poisonous fang in the arm before destroying the diary in an extremely messy, traumatic, exhausting fashion, but Ginny's regaining consciousness gives him the energy to hurry back to her--not just stumble and weave his way over to her--he runs, not walks. She was the reason he entered the Chamber, and a sign of movement from her renews the understandably exhausted Harry's mental and physical energy to such a degree that he acts like he didn't just survive a deadly struggle for his own life. What's more interesting is, now that her life has been saved, Harry is concerned with her emotional well-being. He assures her that Riddle is gone, by holding up the diary. While she's panicking over the threat of expulsion, he helps her to her feet. Harry is going well above and beyond the call of duty here with Ginny. As if it weren't enough that he just saved her life, he is now eager to calm her fears and show her that everything is okay.

Fawkes had swooped through the gap after Ginny.

"He's Dumbledore's," said Harry, squeezing through himself.

"How come you've got a sword?" said Ron, gaping at the glittering weapon in Harry's hand.

"I'll explain when we get out of here," said Harry with a sideways glance at Ginny, who was crying harder than ever.

"But--"

"Later," Harry said shortly. He didn't think it was a good idea to tell Ron yet who'd been opening the Chamber, not in front of Ginny, anyway. "Where's Lockhart?"

CoS, pg. 324

Here, Harry is more concerned with getting Ginny out of the Chamber as soon as possible than with telling Ron what happened, because he is so concerned with her emotional state. He puts the explanation on the back burner just because Ginny is crying so hard. He does not want to embarrass her in front of her brother, or say anything that might incriminate her. He is too sensitive of her feelings to talk about her involvement in the basilisk attacks in front of her. This is an impulse that has nothing to do with his "saving-people-thing," as the danger has passed and it's not her life that's at stake, and it goes well beyond any worry of how it would affect her family if anything happened to her. Harry's best friend, Ginny's brother, is asking for information, and Harry withholds it out of sensitivity to her emotional distress.

So Harry, his voice now growing hoarse from all this talking, told them about Fawkes's timely arrival and about the Sorting Hat giving him the sword. But then he faltered. He had so far avoided mentioning Riddle's diary--or Ginny. She was standing with her head against Mrs. Weasley's shoulder, and tears were still coursing silently down her cheeks. What if they expelled her? Harry thought in panic. Riddle's diary didn't work anymore....How could they prove it had been he who'd made her do it all?

Instinctively, Harry looked at Dumbledore, who smiled faintly, the firelight glancing off his half-moon spectacles.

"What interests me most," said Dumbledore gently, "is how Lord Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently in hiding in the forests of Albania."

Relief--warm, sweeping, glorious relief--swept over Harry.

"W-what's that?" said Mr. Weasley in a stunned voice. You-Know-Who? En-enchant Ginny? But Ginny's not...Ginny hasn't been...has she?"

"It was this diary," said Harry quickly, picking it up and showing it to Dumbledore. "Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen..."

CoS, pgs. 328-329

After Ginny's life has been saved, the Basilisk has been slain, and they are all out of the Chamber, Harry is still concerned about Ginny, but now it's not just worrying about her life and safety: he's protecting her from being expelled. He is deliberately editing his story to avoid incriminating Ginny. He is not simply nervous at the thought that they might expel her--he panics. It's not just her life he wants to protect, but her place in the school. The thought that she might be blamed for the attacks, and punished accordingly, and especially that she might not be allowed back at Hogwarts, is extremely upsetting to him. A more moderate level of anxiety would be understandable if Harry's concern were not driven by a connection to her as an individual, but his reaction is entirely immoderate. Such an exaggerated response on his part shows that her fate is a personal issue to him.

Harry feels "warm, sweeping, glorious relief" not just because Ginny is alive and safe, but because Dumbledore already knows that the attacks were not Ginny's fault, and that he, Harry, does not have to say anything that he worries might implicate her. Again, this is an extraordinarily powerful emotion that he feels on her behalf. Once he finds out that Dumbledore already knows Ginny is innocent, Harry rushes in to complete the story.

Harry is incredibly concerned with making sure Ginny is not punished and will be allowed to return to school next year. It appears as though Harry is afraid he might have to do without her, and is terrified at the very notion of it.

On the other hand, Ginny Weasley was perfectly happy again.

CoS, pg. 340

So concludes this extremely dark and traumatic chapter of Ginny’s life; Harry is pleased to report that after the feast, she is happy again. One may wonder why, in the two and a half years that ensue between this time and the Christmas holiday of Harry’s fifth year, he "forgets" about Ginny’s possession. I think that after all Harry sees and learns in rescuing Ginny, her possession is an incident that he would rather not think about. Riddle took up a year of her time, but Harry did not find out what was happening to her until a matter of minutes before he had her out of the Chamber and on the road to recovery. Her possession represents a brief, but traumatic episode in his life, and he would rather block it out of his mind. This is not because Harry does not care about Ginny; it is because he does not want to think about her being "dirty and contaminated," as he felt when he was afraid he was possessed by Voldemort. He would much rather think of her being perfectly happy again. It is that image of her--the cheerful, giggling little girl telling him about what she caught her big brother doing with his girlfriend--that Harry wants to keep in his mind as long as he can. Even at the end of his fifth year, after he has been reminded of the fact that Ginny was possessed, he still remembers a different version of the event, with his reminding Ron of "when it was your sister I was saving from the basilisk" (OotP, pg. 734). He did not rescue her from a basilisk; he rescued her from Tom Riddle, and killed the basilisk for his own protection, though, given the way he keeps on thinking about her while struggling for his own life, it is not surprising that he mentally revises the battle in such a fashion. He does not think of her as being contaminated by the taint of Voldemort, he thinks of her as someone he rescued from a monster. Harry associates Ginny with triumph and success, not with violation and exploitation. An incident which makes Harry feel so terrified, angry, and revolted--which is how he feels about what Riddle did to Ginny--is not a memory that Harry is going to cherish. This is another facet of Harry’s protectiveness of Ginny; he protects her life and health, he protects her peace of mind, he protects her place in school, and now, he protects her image.


Response

If Harry's focus on Ginny tells the ways in which he likes her, his response to her shows how he will treat her in a relationship. If his noticing her is the talk, the response is the walk. There are quite a number of signs that show how Harry understands and appreciates Ginny's behavior, emotions, and presence in his life in ways that are promising for a romantic relationship.

One of the ways Harry responds favorably to Ginny is that he is sympathetic to her feelings for him. He does not try to discourage her crush on him, as shown in how he makes an effort to interact with her. He cares about her dignity and peace of mind, as shown in his concern for her emotional state after the Chamber incident. These tendencies of emotional gentleness toward her converge in his acceptance of what is frequently dismissed as a fangirl crush.

At that moment Mrs. Weasley entered the bar, laden with shopping bags and followed by the twins, Fred and George, who were about to start their fifth year at Hogwarts; the newly elected Head Boy, Percy; and the Weasleys' youngest child and only girl, Ginny.

Ginny, who had always been very taken with Harry, seemed even more heartily embarrassed than usual when she saw him, perhaps because he had saved her life during their previous year at Hogwarts. She went very red and muttered "hello" without looking at him.

PoA, pg. 62

Ginny cannot hide her love for Harry, and he uses a very telling choice of words to describe this love. It is easiest to call Ginny's feelings for Harry a crush on him, but Harry and JKR see it differently. He says she is "very taken with" him. There is nothing shallow, juvenile or insincere about being very taken with someone, and it most certainly does not work for a fangirl with a crush on a celebrity hero. A far better example of a fan with a fame-based obsession with Harry is Colin Creevey. He follows Harry around, he takes pictures, he's always trying to get Harry to talk to him, and Harry is constantly annoyed with him. Ginny is quite the opposite: she is quiet, shy, and gives Harry his space, and he holds nothing against her.

He had a stream of visitors, all intent on cheering him up. Hagrid sent him a bunch of earwiggy flowers that looked like yellow cabbages, and Ginny Weasley, blushing furiously, turned up with a get-well card she had made herself, which sang shrilly unless Harry kept it shut under his bowl of fruit.

PoA, pg. 183

Look at Harry's response to Ginny's get-well card. He notes that she made the card herself, so he is aware that she put special effort and original sentiment into her gesture. Then, he keeps the card shut under his bowl of fruit to stop its shrill singing. He keeps the card. He does not toss it into the fire, which is what he intends to do with the talking homework planner Hermione gives him in his fifth year. When Harry is annoyed with a well-meaning, but poorly chosen gift from someone in his life, he finds a way to express his irritation, but he accepts Ginny's card, which is brought to him with her continued affection as shown in her furious blushing, without annoyance. We're not told what Harry does with the yellow cabbage flowers from Hagrid, but we do know that he keeps Ginny's card.

Beyond his acceptance of Ginny's feelings for him, Harry's feelings for Ginny are not clearly defined. He is ambiguous in places where he could be clear, and raises questions but does not answer them, as early as CoS.

"Famous Harry Potter," said Malfoy. "Can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."

"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!" said Ginny. It was the first time she had spoken in front of Harry. She was glaring at Malfoy.

"Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!" drawled Malfoy. Ginny went scarlet as Ron and Hermione fought their way over, both clutching stacks of Lockhart books.

CoS, pg. 61

First, Harry points out that this is the first time Ginny speaks in front of him, as if he is impressed by her sudden boldness. What happens next is that Malfoy labels Ginny as Harry's girlfriend, and what is noteworthy is the way that Harry does not respond. He does not deny that Ginny is his girlfriend. He probably would not cause her any offense by responding, "No, Malfoy, she's not my girlfriend," but he is interrupted from answering by the arrival of Ron and Hermione, and we are given no indication of what he would have liked to say. We know they are not in a relationship together just yet, but Malfoy raises a question which Harry does not answer. With other girls, Harry is not so open-ended. When the rumor of him going steady with Hermione gets spread around the school in his fourth year thanks to the journalism of Rita Skeeter, he makes no secret of his feelings.

Harry was getting sick of telling people that Hermione wasn't his girlfriend.

GoF, pg. 546

Harry looked between them, then said, "Mrs. Weasley, you didn't believe that rubbish Rita Skeeter wrote in Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione's not my girlfriend."

GoF, pg. 619

When the story is that Hermione is his girlfriend, Harry denies it, openly and repeatedly. He knows how he feels about her, and he wants everyone else to know, too.

Later, when he finds himself in a possibly romantic situation with Luna, he makes his feelings on the matter known.

"Mistletoe," said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry's head. He jumped out from under it. "Good thinking," said Luna very seriously. "It's often infested with nargles."

OotP, pg. 453

When confronted with the presence of mistletoe in the company of Luna, Harry is not quite so verbal or vehement as he is in quashing the rumors of him and Hermione, but he makes a clear statement of his thoughts on the prospect of kissing Luna. Specifically, he doesn't think about it at all, he simply jumps away. There is no hesitation, no interruption, no confusion, and therefore no room for ambiguity. There is no mystery in how Harry feels about Luna or Hermione, no questions waiting to be answered. Ginny is an issue that has not been settled. Almost four years of canon time have passed since that moment in the bookshop, but in all that time, there has been neither confirmation nor denial of Ginny's status as a "girlfriend" to Harry. After all these years, he still has not answered Malfoy's question. One is left to wonder how he would respond to the allegation.

Hot all over at the thought of being given a valentine in front of a line of first years, which happened to include Ginny Weasley, Harry tried to escape. The dwarf, however, cut his way through the crowd by kicking people's shins, and reached him before he'd gone two paces.

pg. 237

"Wonder what Potter's written in this?" said Malfoy, who obviously hadn't noticed the year on the cover and thought he had Harry's own diary. A hush fell over the onlookers. Ginny was staring from the diary to Harry, looking terrified.

[snip]

But Harry didn't care, he was one-up on Malfoy, and that was worth five points from Gryffindor any day. Malfoy was looking furious, and as Ginny passed him to enter her classroom, he yelled spitefully after her, "I don't think Potter liked your valentine much!"

Ginny covered her face with her hands and ran into class.

CoS, pg. 239

This is, indisputably, an uncomfortable situation for Harry. He is desperate to get away before Malfoy can hear the valentine, he wants to evaporate on the spot after the dwarf sings to him, he tries to laugh along with everyone else in the hall. Harry is embarrassed with the event in general. He also sees that Ginny just "happens" to be present in the line of first years, and he just "happens" to get hot all over at their presence at this event. Harry is aware that Ginny is very fond of him, as he observed her behavior when he stayed at the Burrow. Harry feels hot all over at the prospect of having a dwarf sing a valentine to him in front of her. Hot all over is a very emotional, blatant reaction, and one should ask what this says about how Harry feels about Ginny. Could he be embarrassed about her presence? Is he resentful of her childish crush? Or is there something else going on?

Malfoy speaks "spitefully" to Ginny. This is from Harry's point of view, and it is not a necessary description. Rather than simply tell us what he said to her and leave it to the reader to deduce that Malfoy is being unpleasant to Ginny, Harry shares his opinion of Draco's tone in speaking to her.

His use of the adverb "spitefully" in describing Malfoy's behavior expresses sympathy for Ginny, and so he does not hold anything against her in his feeling hot all over. Harry knows that Ginny likes him, and her presence in a setting that forces Harry to be shown in a romantic light causes him a level of confusion that raises his body temperature.

Another mark of Harry's affinity with Ginny is the willingness to cooperate. This becomes apparent in OotP.

Hermione and Ginny sat down opposite them wearing red-and-gold scarves, gloves, and rosettes.

"How're you feeling?" Ginny asked Ron, who was now staring into the dregs of milk at the bottom of his empty cereal bowl as though seriously considering attempting to drown himself in them.

"He's just nervous," said Harry.

OotP, pg. 403

Ginny asks Ron a question, Harry knows that Ginny is talking to Ron, and he answers her question for him. This is a gesture of partnership, in which Harry and Ginny are a team and Ron is their responsibility. It is reminiscent of all the times that Ron and Hermione team up to deal with Harry. While Ron needs far less "care" than Harry, so there are fewer opportunities to engage in partnership behavior with Ginny, the meaning of such behavior is no less. Harry recognizes Ginny as someone who could be his partner, and responds accordingly when she has a question.

Ron's face was very white and something dark was trickling from the corner of his mouth. Next moment his knees had given way, but he still clutched the front of Harry's robes, so that Harry was pulled into a kind of bow.

"Ginny?" Harry said fearfully. "What happened?"

But Ginny shook her head and slid down the wall into a sitting position, panting and holding her ankle.

OotP, pg. 795

When Ron, Ginny and Luna all topple out of a room, and Ron is incapacitated, Harry immediately turns to Ginny for the story. It is Luna who is in sound enough condition to answer his question (though she tells him about Ginny's injury first, for some reason), but Ginny is the first one Harry thinks to ask. When Harry needs to know what happened, he trusts Ginny to have the story. He has accepted her as a part of his "team" in venturing to the DoM. Before they left, Harry didn't want her to join him with Ron and Hermione. He thought of her, along with Neville and Luna, as the last people he would ever think to include. That exclusion may look like a bad sign, but looking at the bigger picture, it is not that much of a problem. Harry does not look down on Ginny, he does not think of her as weak or incapable. He was very complimentary of her showing at the first DA meeting, for example. He is extremely protective of Ginny, but he thinks quite highly of her in situations that do not involve her risking her life. His attempt to exclude her from the rescue mission was not a crippling condemnation, it was a lesson he had to learn. If his asking her for the story when Ron is cursed is any indication, he is learning the lesson that Ginny is a part of the battle, not someone he needs to shield from danger. The times that give the best indication of the way a couple will relate to each other are the non-dangerous situations. Those are the settings that show what type of a relationship they'll have when the war is over, and in the non-dangerous situations, Harry responds to Ginny respectfully and appreciatively. Details of these responses are to follow.

Harry makes exceptions for Ginny. He treats her with better manners and more understanding and appreciation than he treats other people in similar situations, including Ron and Hermione.

The classroom door opened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione whipped around. Ginny walked in, looking curious, closely followed by Luna, who as usual looked as though she had drifted in accidentally.

"Hi," said Ginny uncertainly. "We recognized Harry's voice--what are you yelling about?"

"Never you mind," said Harry roughly.

Ginny raised her eyebrows.

"There's no need to take that tone with me," she said coolly. "I was only wondering whether I could help."

"Well, you can't," said Harry shortly.

"You're being rather rude, you know," said Luna serenely.

Harry swore and turned away. The very last thing he wanted now was a conversation with Luna Lovegood.

OotP, pg. 735

Just before Ginny and Luna enter the scene, Harry is in full-on CAPSLOCK mode at Ron and Hermione. Ginny is unafraid of Harry's temper, with her speaking "coolly" to him, and Harry is short with her, but he talks to her. While he shouts at his two best friends, and ignores Luna, he strikes a certain balance with Ginny.

A much more marked and interesting reaction takes place in the final chapter, when JKR manages to insert Ginny's influence, very gently, into a scene that is supposed to be all about Harry and Luna.

"No," said Luna, observing him with those oddly misty, protuberant eyes. "I don't suppose you do. That man the Death Eaters killed was your godfather, wasn't he? Ginny told me."

Harry nodded curtly, but found that for some reason he did not mind Luna talking about Sirius. He had just remembered that she too could see thestrals.

OotP, pg. 863

Luna is not the only person here who has been talking about someone. She gathered her information from Ginny, who has been talking about both Sirius and Harry to Luna. Now, Harry does not appreciate people talking about his problems behind his back, as Ron learned the hard way earlier in the book.

"You can't tell me you've stopped having funny dreams," Hermione said now, "because Ron told me last night you were muttering in your sleep again..."

Harry threw Ron a furious look. Ron had the grace to look ashamed of himself.

"You were only muttering a bit," he mumbled apologetically. "Something about 'just a bit farther.'"

"I dreamed I was watching you lot play Quidditch," Harry lied brutally. "I was trying to get you to stretch out a bit farther to grab the Quaffle."

Ron's ears went red. Harry felt a kind of vindictive pleasure: He had not, of course, dreamed anything of the sort.

OotP, pgs. 681-2

Ron is Harry's very best friend, and he was only acting with the very best of intentions, keeping the information well within their social circle, and Harry's reaction is incredibly harsh, unjustifiably vicious. "Lied brutally" is absolutely right. Before Ron starts mumbling, Harry's annoyance is directed at Hermione, but as soon as she drags Ron's name into her nagging, Harry throws his anger full-force at him. His response to Ron's apology is not only brutal, it is brutally personal, and followed by "vindictive pleasure." He is furious at Ron entirely in his own right; the fact that Ron's disclosure resulted in a lot of nagging from Hermione is merely a side issue. This is how much Harry hates having people, even his closest friends, discussing his personal problems outside of his presence. However, when he hears that Ginny has been telling Luna about his bond with Sirius, his only reaction, mediated by that wonderfully ambiguous "for some reason," is that it is okay for Luna to talk about Sirius! Where's the flash of annoyance at Ginny with her gossiping, meddlesome ways? Where's the anger at Ginny's intrusion on his privacy?

There are actually two reactions at work here: one, it is okay for Luna to talk about Sirius, because Luna has the experience of loss in common with Harry, and two, it is okay for Ginny to talk about Harry, for reasons that he has not yet articulated. The phrase that makes Harry's reaction more complex than it immediately appears is "for some reason." Harry's feelings for Luna are clearly defined: he doesn't want to kiss her, he finds her vaguely comforting, he pities her, and it's okay for her to talk about Sirius, which is more than he'll allow from Hermione or Hagrid. They exit their interactions on their own terms; they walk away from each other and say good-bye. Ginny is the one who is cloaked in ambiguity: he hasn't said whether she's his girlfriend, he can't understand why he suddenly feels more hopeful around her, his heart lightens even when he hardly dares believe her. They are interrupted from their interactions, leaving their interpersonal issues unresolved. That "for some reason" has something to do with Ginny's name getting brought into the conversation. If it's okay for Luna to talk about Sirius, then it is also okay for Ginny to talk about Harry. This is a privilege that is extremely difficult to earn, and Harry has tacitly allowed her to exercise it.

The biggest exception of all is how Harry feels about Ginny playing Quidditch in his position. Specifically, he feels remarkably good about it.

"Well," said Angelina dully, pulling off her cloak and throwing it into a corner, "we've replaced you."

"Replaced me?" said Harry blankly.

"You and Fred and George," she said impatiently. "We've got another Seeker!"

"Who?" said Harry quickly.

"Ginny Weasley," said Katie.

Harry gaped at her.

"Yeah, I know," said Angelina, pulling out her wand and flexing her arm. "But she's pretty good, actually. Nothing on you, of course," she said, throwing him a very dirty look, "but as we can't have you..."

Harry bit back the retort he was longing to utter: Did she imagine for a second that he did not regret his expulsion from the team a hundred times more than she did?

OotP, pg. 453

When Harry finds out Ginny has replaced him as Seeker, he is surprised, which is only understandable, as we later find out Ginny's flying skills are among the Weasley family's best kept secrets. While he is surprised, he is not resentful or begrudging of her getting to play in his place. This is in sharp contrast to Harry's reaction to Ron and Hermione becoming prefects when he isn't.

Not all the time, though, Harry argued with himself. They didn't fight Quirrell with me. They didn't take on Riddle and the basilisk. They didn't get rid of all those dementors the night Sirius escaped. They weren't in that graveyard with me, the night Voldemort returned...

And the same feeling of ill usage that had overwhelmed him on the night he had arrived rose again. I've definitely done more, Harry thought indignantly. I've done more than either of them!

OotP, pg. 167

When Ron and Hermione are named as prefects, a position which Harry has never experienced and didn't give very much thought before the badges arrived, he is resentful, and he needs a few minutes of thinking alone before he is ready to be friendly to them again. When he finds out Ginny has replaced him as Seeker, a position that Harry enjoyed for years and which was taken away from him through a flagrant abuse of authority, he holds nothing against her.

It was a fresh, breezy sort of day and as they passed the Quidditch stadium, Harry glimpsed Ron and Ginny skimming over the stands and felt a horrible pang that he was not up there with them....

"You really miss it, don't you?" said Cho.

He looked around and saw her watching him.

"Yeah," sighed Harry. "I do."

OotP, pg. 557

When Harry sees Ron and Ginny flying, he wants to be there with them. Ginny is playing in Harry's position, and there is only room for one Seeker on a team, but he wants to join her, not displace her.

Oddly enough, just one page before this, he is not nearly so diplomatic with Ron over the very same issue. "He found it very hard to be sympathetic to Ron's plight when he himself would have given almost anything to be playing in the forthcoming match against Hufflepuff. Ron seemed to notice Harry's tone, because he did not mention Quidditch again during breakfast, and there was a slight frostiness in the way they said good-bye to each other shortly afterward." (pg. 556) With Ron alone, who was placed on the team before Harry was banned, he shows his jealousy. When Ginny is a part of the picture, he feels much more warmly towards the game. He only wants to get back on his broom and join them.

What is even more interesting is that he is on his date with Cho at the time. While he is headed out to Hogsmeade with his perfect girl, he would rather be flying with Ron and Ginny, and the fact that the team does not have room for both of them does not occur to him.

"Good catch," Harry told Ginny back in the common room, where the atmosphere closely resembled that of a particularly dismal funeral.

"I was lucky," she shrugged. "It wasn't a very fast Snitch and Summerby's got a cold, he sneezed and closed his eyes at exactly the wrong moment. Anyway, once you're back on the team--"

"Ginny, I've got a lifelong ban."

"You're banned as long as Umbridge is in the school," Ginny corrected him. "There's a difference. Anyway, once you're back, I think I'll try out for Chaser. Angelina and Alicia are both leaving next year and I prefer goal-scoring to Seeking anyway."

Harry looked over at Ron, who was hunched in a corner, staring at his knees, a bottle of butterbeer clutched in his hand.

"Angelina still won't let him resign," Ginny said, as though reading Harry's mind. "She says she knows he's got it in him."

OotP, pg. 575-6

It's quite impressive that Ginny speaks as though reading Harry's mind. They've established an admirable bond between them. Harry not only allows Ginny to enjoy her place on the team, he encourages it, with his complimenting her performance. While she underrates her own playing and assumes Harry will return to the team, he praises her and assumes that she is there to stay. Harry wants Ginny to know that she has done a good job, and is extremely agreeable to her Seeking in his place.

Harry got into bed, thinking about the match. It had been immensely frustrating watching from the sidelines. He was quite impressed by Ginny's performance but he felt that if he had been playing he could have caught the Snitch sooner....There had been a moment when it had been fluttering near Kirke's ankle; if she hadn't hesitated, she might have been able to scrape a win for Gryffindor....

OotP, pg. 576

Only after Ginny tells Harry she prefers goal-scoring to Seeking does he think anything slightly negative about her performance. As though she has just given him permission to criticize her, he admits that she was very good, but she could have been quicker about it. Seeing how Harry is the youngest Seeker in a century, and arguably the best flyer in the school, it is not much of a criticism when he says he would have done better.

The problem that Harry had with watching Ginny was not really with anything she did or failed to do. It was with Harry's point of view. While Harry is in bed, thinking about Ginny's performance on a broomstick, he notes that, "It had been immensely frustrating, watching from the sidelines." What this says about Harry is that he does not like to watch. He likes to play. He has already expressed his desire to be out there and play with her (pg. 557) as opposed to taking his place back from her. It is no wonder that he is frustrated that he could not be on the field, and instead had to sit back and watch while she did all the work.

Something else to keep in mind is that it was only Ginny's first time. Harry is "quite impressed by Ginny's performance," but she cannot be expected to do it perfectly on her first time on the pitch. Also, as mentioned before, she has pointed out to him that she is playing in the wrong position. She needs to gain some experience, she needs to get into a position that is more comfortable and appropriate for her, and Harry needs to get out there on the pitch with her, not be forced to watch from a distance. Once Harry gets his broomstick out again, and Ginny plays in her preferred position and has another game or two under her belt, he will have nothing but good things to say about her performance. A Seeker only scores once, and the game is over. A Chaser can score over and over again, and the game keeps getting better. Once he gets to play with her, he won't think he could do better; I daresay her performance will knock him right over.

Once you're finished groaning at my inability to get my mind out of the gutter, let's move on to a matter of far more gravity and importance. Ginny commands Harry's respect. Yes, you heard me. Harry views Ginny in such a way that he accepts her criticism and values her opinion. This respect does not begin in OotP, as we get to see a glimpse of it during GoF.

"Don't!" said Ginny, annoyed. "Don't laugh--"

Just then Hermione climbed in through the portrait hole.

"Why weren't you two at dinner?" she said, coming over to join them.

"Because--oh shut up laughing, you two--because they've both just been turned down by girls they asked to the ball!" said Ginny.

That shut Harry and Ron up.

GoF, pgs. 399-400

When Ginny tells them off, Harry and Ron react the same way, but Harry is not Ron. Ginny is not Harry's sister, and they did not grow up together. They do not have the same kind of emotional bonds that Ginny shares with Ron. However, when she tells them to "shut up laughing," Harry knows he has been told. Even before she gives up on him, Harry allows Ginny to put him in his place.

That conversation in GoF is merely a taste of what is to come. In OotP, JKR takes this dynamic much, much further, with what is one of the most controversial canon scenes in the debate between the main Harry ships. It should come as no surprise that this scene is so controversial, as it is incredibly complex.

She sat down next to Ginny, and the two girls and Ron looked up at Harry.

"How're you feeling?" asked Hermione.

"Fine," said Harry stiffly.

"Oh, don't lie, Harry," she said impatiently. "Ron and Ginny say you've been hiding from everyone since you got back from St. Mungo's."

"They do, do they?" said Harry, glaring at Ron and Ginny. Ron looked down at his feet but Ginny seemed quite unabashed.

"Well, you have!" she said. "And you won't look at any of us!"

"It's you lot who won't look at me!" said Harry angrily.

"Maybe you're taking it in turns to look and keep missing each other," suggested Hermione, the corners of her mouth twitching.

"Very funny," snapped Harry, turning away.

"Oh, stop feeling all misunderstood," said Hermione sharply. "Look, the others have told me what you overheard last night on the Extendable Ears--"

"Yeah?" growled Harry, his hands deep in his pockets as he watched the snow now falling thickly outside. "All been talking about me, have you? Well, I'm getting used to it...."

"We wanted to talk to you, Harry," said Ginny, "but as you've been hiding ever since we got back--"

"I didn't want anyone to talk to me," said Harry, who was feeling more and more nettled.

"Well, that was a bit stupid of you," said Ginny angrily, "seeing as you don't know anyone but me who's been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels."

Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him. Then he wheeled around.

"I forgot," he said.

"Lucky you," said Ginny coolly.

"I'm sorry," Harry said, and he meant it. "So...so do you think I'm being possessed, then?"

"Well, can you remember everything you've been doing?" Ginny asked. "Are there big blank periods where you don't know what you've been up to?"

Harry racked his brains.

"No," he said.

"Then You-Know-Who hasn't ever possessed you," said Ginny simply. "When he did it to me, I couldn't remember what I'd been doing for hours at a time. I'd find myself somewhere and not know how I got there."

Harry hardly dared believe her, yet his heart was lightening almost in spite of himself.

OotP, pgs. 499-500

Before I proceed, you may be wondering why Harry "forgot" about Ginny's possession. This is a very popular line to use as part of arguments against Harry/Ginny. He forgot about her, therefore she is not important to him, right? How can you expect Harry to fall for Ginny if she means so little to him that he can't even be bothered to remember the most harrowing experience of her life? This is a valid criticism of the ship, if one draws from a very selective and limited reading of the scene. There is far more going on in Harry's response than his faulty memory. However, it is a question that warrants an answer. In order to gain some perspective, let's compare this to another incident in OotP in which Harry "forgets" something about a girl he knows.

"Er...listen, d'you want to come with me to the Three Broomsticks at lunchtime? I'm meeting Hermione Granger there."

Cho raised her eyebrows.

"You're meeting Hermione Granger? Today?"

"Yeah. Well, she asked me to, so I thought I would. D'you want to come with me? She said it wouldn't matter if you did."

"Oh...well...that was nice of her."

But Cho did not sound as though she thought it was nice at all; on the contrary, her tone was cold and all of a sudden she looked rather forbidding.

[snip]

"Oh, you'll talk to Hermione Granger!" she said shrilly, her face now shining with tears, and several more kissing couples broke apart to stare. "But you won't talk to me! P-perhaps it would be best if we just...just p-paid and you went and met up with Hermione G-Granger, like you obviously want to!"

"Cho?" he said weakly, wishing Roger would seize his girlfriend and start kissing her again to stop her goggling at him and Cho.

"Go on, leave!" she said, now crying into her napkin. "I don't know why you asked me out in the first place if you're going to make arrangements to meet other girls right after me....How many are you meeting after Hermione?"

"It's not like that!" said Harry, and he was so relieved at finally understanding what she was annoyed about that he laughed, which he realized a split second too late was a mistake.

OotP, pgs. 560-562

This is what it looks like when Harry "forgets" about something that happened between him and a girl in his life. Cho is under the impression that Harry is also dating Hermione, but this should be nothing new to Harry. He had to cope with a very similar misconception for several months during his fourth year. "Even those people who didn't read Witch Weekly knew all about the supposed Harry-Hermione-Krum triangle now. Harry was getting sick of telling people that Hermione wasn't his girlfriend." (GoF, pg. 546) Harry has forgotten all about this misunderstanding which took up months of his time less than a year before his date with Cho, as shown by his taking such a long time, and so much elaboration from Cho, to figure out what the problem is. This is the sort of event that Harry really "should" remember, but it has completely fallen out of his mind since Hermione forced Rita into unemployment. This shows two things about Harry's mental state: one, the idea of him being romantically involved with Hermione is so patently laughable that he never dignifies it with a second thought. Two, Harry is distracted, self-absorbed, and forgetful during his fifth year. It has nothing to do with how much the girl means to him, and everything to do with the fact that Harry is not at his best while he's going through such a difficult period of his life.

Harry "forgets" about Ginny's possession for the same reason as he keeps yelling at Ron and Hermione. He is exhibiting the self-absorption of the very unhappy. His two best friends have not done anything to provoke his anger, nor have they become any less important to him. He yells at them because he needs to take his temper out on someone he trusts to put up with him. He is so preoccupied by his own problems, which are considerable, that he does not think about anything that is not brought to his direct attention. In the "Protectiveness" section, I went over the reasons why Harry would want to block Ginny's possession from his mind. As he has not been reminded of this event in two and a half years, he has been allowed to forget.

The importance to be found in this scene is in the way Harry responds to Ginny. Before Ginny reminds Harry that she was possessed, he is argumentative, stubborn, and unreasonable. After she tells him, an immediate change comes over him. He doesn't need any further explanation of Ginny's reminder before he knows what the problem is. He knows exactly what she's talking about and he immediately understands the significance. ("Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him.") Although her possession slipped from his mind, it did not slip very far.

After being caught off-guard, Harry admits his mistake in saying "I forgot."

Ginny responds with a snarky, but understandable remark, "Lucky you," but Harry does not snark back at her, which would have fit with his communication style in the first half of the conversation. Instead, he apologizes to her. He gives her the most sincere apology he has for anyone in the book.

Then, Harry asks Ginny for her opinion, and in doing so, he hands all the power in the discussion over to her. He places his peace of mind in her hands.

She takes it. Ginny asks Harry her question, and he works on her terms. ("Harry racked his brains.") She reaches her conclusion, and he starts feeling better right away. After a few well-chosen words from Ginny, Harry's heart lightens in spite of himself. In reading the scene past what I quoted, he is ready to listen to Ron and Hermione's input, too. Harry is the happiest he's been in months, after having that conversation, as his heart swells with happiness and relief. He is ready to enjoy Christmas.

Ginny commands Harry's respect. She is not afraid of his temper, and when she puts him in his place, he is grateful for her perspective. He will treat her properly in their relationship. Not only is she a suitable partner for him, he will do right by her, too.

The scene in which Ginny reminds Harry of her possession by Tom Riddle was an important step in the development of their friendship. Without that conversation, Harry probably would not have turned to Ginny to enjoy a private joke over Lockhart at St. Mungo's. More importantly, the "Lucky You" scene paved the way for another important conversation between them. This is the conversation that provides Harry with the opportunity to have what turns out to be the last talk he ever has with Sirius. This is the scene that demonstrates a higher level of emotional vulnerability and trust than Harry has with any of his other friends. I am referring, of course, to the library scene.

"Harry, I'm talking to you, can you hear me?"

"Huh?"

He looked around. Ginny Weasley, looking very windswept, had joined him at the library table where he had been sitting alone. It was late on Sunday evening; Hermione had gone back to Gryffindor Tower to review Ancient Runes; Ron had Quidditch practice.

"Oh hi," said Harry, pulling his books back toward him. "How come you're not at practice?"

"It's over," said Ginny. "Ron had to take Jack Sloper up to the hospital wing."

"Why?"

"Well, we're not sure, but we think he knocked himself out with his own bat." She sighed heavily. "Anyway...a package just arrived, it's only just got through Umbridge's new screening process...."

She hoisted a box wrapped in brown paper onto the table; it had clearly been unwrapped and carelessly rewrapped, and there was a scribbled note across it in red ink, reading INSPECTED AND PASSED BY THE HOGWARTS HIGH INQUISITOR.

"It's Easter eggs from Mum," said Ginny. "There's one for you....There you go...."

She handed him a handsome chocolate egg decorated with small, iced Snitches and, according to the packaging, containing a bag of Fizzing Whizbees. Harry looked at it for a moment, then, to his horror, felt a hard lump rise in his throat.

"Are you okay, Harry?" asked Ginny quietly.

"Yeah, I'm fine," said Harry gruffly. The lump in his throat was painful. He did not understand why an Easter egg should have made him feel like this.

"You seem really down lately," Ginny persisted. "You know, I'm sure if you just talked to Cho..."

"It's not Cho I want to talk to," said Harry brusquely.

"Who is it, then?" asked Ginny, watching him closely.

"I..."

He glanced around to make quite sure that nobody was listening; Madam Pince was several shelves away, stamping out a pile of books for a frantic-looking Hannah Abbott.

"I wish I could talk to Sirius," he muttered. "But I know I can't."

Ginny continued to watch him thoughtfully. More to give himself something to do than because he really wanted any, Harry unwrapped his Easter egg, broke off a large bit and put it into his mouth.

"Well," said Ginny slowly, helping herself to a bit of egg too, "if you really want to talk to Sirius, I expect we could think of a way to do it...."

"Come on," said Harry dully. "With Umbridge policing the fires and reading all our mail?"

"The thing about growing up with Fred and George," said Ginny thoughtfully, "is that you sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."

Harry looked at her. Perhaps it was the effect of the chocolate--Lupin had always advised eating some after encounters with dementors--or simply because he had finally spoken aloud the wish that had been burning inside him for a week, but he felt a bit more hopeful....

"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?"

"Oh damn," whispered Ginny, jumping to her feet. "I forgot--"

Madam Pince was swooping down upon them, her shriveled face contorted with rage.

"Chocolate in the library!" she screamed. "Out--out--OUT!"

And whipping out her wand, she caused Harry's books, bag and ink bottle to chase him and Ginny from the library, whacking them repeatedly over the head as they ran.

OotP, pgs. 654-6

Harry muses near the end that "he had finally spoken aloud the wish that had been burning inside him for a week," but that begs the question: why has he been keeping the wish bottled up inside him all this time? He could have told Ron and Hermione what was bothering him well before he pulled his books back toward him. Instead, he lets his best friends think the only thing on his mind is Cho and her defense of Marietta. This is, of course, false, and when Ginny hands him his chocolate egg, he finds that it's not so easy to hold in his feelings anymore.

Harry feels a hard lump rise in his throat, and then he speaks "gruffly." The combination of these descriptions means he is struggling not to cry. Harry does not cry lightly, he does not like to let anyone else see him cry, and he has kept his emotions bottled up enough to maintain an even voice and dry face up to this point. In Ginny's presence, those emotions start rising to the surface.

When she persists, he communicates. "It's not Cho I want to talk to." This is quite a step up from the non-disclosure he's been maintaining away from her. After all, he let Ron and Hermione believe that Cho really was the problem, but Ginny is getting the truth. The full story of what he saw in the Pensieve involves Sirius, Lupin, his father, and Snape, but his wanting to talk to Sirius is a problem that is strictly his own, and which he trusts that Ginny will understand. Harry is an orphan who grew up unloved. His life this year is even more difficult than usual. Sirius is his primary parental figure. Before he proceeds with the crux of his dilemma, he makes sure no one else is listening to them. He is about to tell Ginny something he will share with no one else. If he were merely lowering his voice to protect Sirius's whereabouts, then he could have called his godfather "Snuffles" or some other pseudonym. This is not about privacy for his outlaw godfather's sake, it is about closeness between him and Ginny.

The second part of his statement, "but I know I can't," practically invites her to offer him a solution. He is not immediately in agreement with her optimism, but he continues to communicate with her. He shares his reasons for thinking his wish is impossible, which again invites her to think of a way around the problem. Rather than close himself off, he continues to seek answers from her.

When she elaborates, Harry starts to feel better. This is the sequence: he looks at her, then he throws out a couple of weak excuses for why he feels more hopeful, but before he can reach a satisfactory conclusion, he and Ginny are interrupted from their almost-crying, chocolate-eating, secret rendezvous-planning, tender moment by an irate librarian.

While the scene is very touching and emotional, it is really quite unnecessary for the plot. Ginny's role here, from a purely plot-oriented analysis, is that of a middleman. She did not "do" anything that could not have been carried out by someone else, if one only examines plot progression. The chocolate egg didn't need to get nearly so much attention and Ron or the twins could have delivered it to Harry. All that Ginny did to help Harry communicate with Sirius was network him with the twins. If the only functions Ginny performs in this scene are to give Harry the egg from her mother and provide him with a plan for his godfather, then Harry could have gone straight to the twins in both cases for greater efficiency in an extremely long book. There is a different reason for Ginny's role in the library scene, and that is emotional development. Ginny is the only person who can get Harry to open up when he thinks no one can help him. He trusts her on a level that he trusts no one else. The literary purpose of the library scene is to develop the emotional connection he has with her, but the way it ends is significant: they are interrupted. This creates another emotional quality which has been hinted at in earlier books: ambiguity. The scene raises issues which the interruption leaves unresolved. Harry is not allowed time to figure out the true reason why he feels more hopeful. It has very little to do with the chocolate: that makes one feel warm, not hopeful. It is not as simple as speaking aloud his wish to talk to Sirius: that would provide a feeling of considerable relief, but he fails to explain what finally moved him to express his wish in the first place. He feels hopeful because Ginny tells him anything is possible when you've got enough nerve. The message to be drawn from the scene is that yes, something is "going on" but Harry doesn't realize it yet, typical boy.

There are a number of places where Harry responds better to Ginny than he does to Ron and Hermione, not to mention the rest of his social circle. The difference is not an indication that Ron and Hermione aren't good enough for him, or that they are losing their roles as his friends. It means that Ginny is going to play a role in Harry's life beyond that of friendship. She is able to touch Harry in ways that his platonic, familial friends cannot. Her ability to affect him is not because of any particular skill she possesses or technique she uses that is unknown to other characters, although she is in possession of admirable communication skills, and this is an important difference from Ron/Hermione. Harry is not going to be half of any Bickering Couple. He is conflict-avoidant where they embrace argument, and Ginny knows how to choose her battles. Their more tactful dynamic is in keeping with their distinguishing trait of subtlety. She does not need to prove herself more worthy of his attention and respect, or try any harder with him than any of his other friends. Harry responds to her because he gives her that kind of power over him. She provokes his sympathy and understanding when she's 11 and 12, she elicits his trust and warrants exceptions, she commands his respect when she's 13 and 14, she opens up the lines of communication from him, because he puts those abilities in her hands.


If you were to ask me, overall, what I think Harry feels for Ginny at this point in canon, just after OotP, what I would say is that he is not in love with her just yet, but his feelings for her are moving in a romantic direction. Harry's position as protagonist and POV character means the author can portray his inclinations during this transition period with much greater subtlety than with Ron and Hermione, whose feelings must be shown through their actions and dialogue. Harry's feelings can also be portrayed in his thought processes, which bode well for a romance with Ginny. He doesn't need to see her very differently, or change the way he feels about her now, he only needs time to let those emotions develop. He likes what he sees, but he has not yet named her as a pretty girl. He notices her more than he needs to, but he does not realize how much he notices about her. He is protective of her, but he does not yet understand the significance of his concern for her welfare. He responds positively to her, but he does not understand why or how. He has another two years before the series ends, and the story of his coming of age is brought to a close. Within that time frame, these feelings for her will continue to develop and Harry's awareness of them will increase, so that by the story's end, he will understand what Ginny means to him.


Harry and OBHWF

An important presence to be taken into account for a relationship between Harry and Ginny is her family. The Weasleys are probably the most prominent and important family in the series already, and marrying Ginny would mean Harry would become an official part of their family. Before I go any further with this, let it never be said that Red Monster told you that Harry has to get together with Ginny so he can become an official Weasley. This is one of the biggest misrepresentations of the Harry/Ginny ship's theories, and I refuse to encourage it. Harry is going to get together with Ginny because he loves her. The connection with her family is simply a benefit of that relationship.

In a family as big, colorful and energetic as the Weasleys, that connection is likely to have a marked effect on their relationship. In other words, Harry will always be made acutely aware of the fact that he has married into the Weasley family, and so his opinion of them should be sought. Would he really feel that the connection with her family is all that beneficial?

Harry meets most of the Weasleys in Book 1, and becomes best friends with Ron. Already he admires their family. He begins spending time with all of them, in their home, in CoS. Between then and OotP, he becomes progressively closer to them, and there are repeated hints of how he feels about being a part of their group. The picture is well-established. He is going to find his ties with the family extremely beneficial. He would not mind being a part of their family at all.

Harry gets his first taste of the Weasleys' family life in CoS, when Ron and the twins rescue him from the Dursleys' clutches. He goes from a toxic family environment to a wholesome one. He is immediately enchanted with their home, is promptly even more surprised at the way they treat him and after a month with them, this is what he has to say about his experience:

The end of the summer vacation came too quickly for Harry's liking. He was looking forward to getting back to Hogwarts, but his month at the Burrow had been the happiest of his life.

CoS, pg. 65

There is no doubt about how Harry feels about the Weasleys. Staying with them makes him the happiest he has ever been.

Harry pushed his porridge away. His insides were burning with guilt. Mr. Weasley was facing an inquiry at work. After all Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had done for him over the summer...

CoS, pg. 89

Harry opened the last present to find a new, hand-knitted sweater from Mrs. Weasley and a large plum cake. He read her card with a fresh surge of guilt, thinking about Mr. Weasley's car (which hadn't been seen since its crash with the Whomping Willow), and the bout of rule-breaking he and Ron were planning next.

CoS, pg. 212

Harry recognizes the Weasleys' kindness to him, and feels guilty about Arthur getting into trouble. Never mind that Arthur enchanted the car well before Harry ever laid eyes on it, he feels a sense of responsibility towards the Weasleys. Next, he recognizes Molly's love for him even more in feeling guilty about breaking the rules, regardless of the fact that his planned bout of rule-breaking has nothing to do with Molly and Arthur. He receives a new expression of Molly's love, and feels badly about his plan to do something that might get him and Ron into trouble. His sense of responsibility toward the Weasleys is deepening.

Mrs. Weasley kissed all her children, then Hermione, and finally, Harry. He was embarrassed, but really quite pleased, when she gave him an extra hug.

PoA, pg. 72

Harry likes getting hugs from Molly. He enjoys her affection and is grateful for her love. His reaction to her attention is a mix of embarrassment and appreciation, which is natural for happy, well-adjusted children to feel towards their mothers.

It is in GoF that we see the idea of the Weasleys as Harry's family directly expressed.

Cedric and his parents were just inside the door. Viktor Krum was over in a corner, conversing with his dark-haired mother and father in rapid Bulgarian. He had inherited his father's hooked nose. On the other side of the room, Fleur was jabbering away in French to her mother. Fleur's little sister, Gabrielle, was holding her mother's hand. She waved at Harry, who waved back, grinning. Then he saw Mrs. Weasley and Bill standing in front of the fireplace, beaming at him.

"Surprise!" Mrs. Weasley said excitedly as he smiled broadly and walked over to them. "Thought we'd come and watch you, Harry!" She bent down and kissed him on the cheek.

"You all right?" said Bill, grinning at Harry and shaking his hand. "Charlie wanted to come, but he couldn't get time off. He said you were incredible against the Horntail."

Fleur Delacour, Harry noticed, was eyeing Bill with great interest over her mother's shoulder. Harry could tell she had no objection whatsoever to long hair or earrings with fangs on them.

"This is really nice of you," Harry muttered to Mrs. Weasley. "I thought for a moment--the Dursleys--"

"Hmm," said Mrs. Weasley, pursing her lips. She had always refrained from criticizing the Dursleys in front of Harry, but her eyes flashed every time they were mentioned.

GoF, pgs. 615-6

The context of the situation makes the Weasleys' place in Harry's life even clearer. The champions are all with their families, but since Harry's natural family are some cranky Muggles, they are not in the picture. Viktor and Cedric each have their parents, Fleur has her mother and sister, and Harry is delighted to see that Molly and Bill have arrived as his surrogate mother and big brother. They fill the roles of Harry's family, with Molly leaving Harry to make his own decisions about his natural relations, and he is only too happy for the Weasleys' presence.

After the tournament, and the most traumatizing experience of Harry's life up to that point, he has a powerful emotional moment with Molly, again acting as the mother-figure in his life.

"You've got to take your potion, Harry," Mrs. Weasley said at last. Her hand nudged the sack of gold on his bedside cabinet as she reached for the bottle and the goblet. "You have a good long sleep. Try and think about something else for a while...think about what you're going to buy with your winnings!"

"I don't want that gold," said Harry in an expressionless voice. "You have it. Anyone can have it. I shouldn't have won it. It should've been Cedric's."

The thing against which he had been fighting on and off ever since he had come out of the maze was threatening to overpower him. He could feel a burning, prickling feeling in the inner corners of his eyes. He blinked and stared up at the ceiling.

"It wasn't your fault, Harry," Mrs. Weasley whispered.

"I told him to take the cup with me," said Harry.

Now the burning feeling was in his throat, too. He wished Ron would look away.

Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs. Weasley held him to her. His mother's face, his father's voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.

GoF, pg. 714

Molly's attention opens up Harry's vulnerability; he is about to cry, which is why he wants Ron to look away--boys don't like to let other boys see them cry. Her embrace is a sensation that Harry has never felt before in his life that he can remember, and it is so moving that he is finally ready to let all his misery, guilt and grief out. When a motherless boy thinks of a woman as holding him as though by a mother, he feels very positively towards her.

"I want to know what's going on," Harry said at once.

He did not look at Mrs. Weasley. He had been touched by what she had said about his being as good as a son, but he was also impatient at her mollycoddling....Sirius was right, he was not a child.

OotP, pg. 90

In OotP, there appears to be a contradiction in Harry's response to Molly's readiness to act as his mother, which could possibly pose a problem for the progression of Harry "joining" the Weasleys, but it is actually more of a balancing act. He is touched to be considered as good as a son, but he doesn't appreciate her trying to withhold information for his protection. Why is there such a conflict? Does he want to be an honorary son, or does he want her to stop mollycoddling him? Reading further along, there is a more decisive answer to the question.

Giving the twins his Triwizard winnings had seemed a simple thing to do at the time, but what if it led to another family row and a Percy-like estrangement? Would Mrs. Weasley still feel that Harry was as good as her son if she found out he had made it possible for Fred and George to start a career she thought quite unsuitable?

OotP, pg. 172

Harry's sense of responsibility resurfaces as he wants to head off a possible fight over the twins' business. He also confirms that he likes to have Mrs. Weasley consider him as good as her son. He cares about her opinion of him enough that he is afraid of what will happen if she learns of his role in the twins' entrepreneurial endeavor. When he was impatient at her mollycoddling, there was no contradiction. That was the thinking of a strong-willed, independent teenage boy with his mother. You can practically hear him saying, "I love you, Mum, but get off my back!"

Based on this evidence, I think it can be safely concluded that Harry would not object at all to being an official part of the Weasley family. He would like it very much.

Ginny as Ron's Sister

Why does Harry refer to Ginny as Ron's sister? In GoF and OotP, Harry introduces Ginny as Ron's younger sister. In fact, Harry introduces all the Weasleys in terms of their relation to Ron during OotP. Arthur is "my friend Ron's dad" on pg. 29. Molly is "Ron's mother, Mrs. Weasley" on pg. 61. Fred and George are "Ron's elder twin brothers" on pg. 68. Therefore, there is nothing special about Ginny appearing (with her long mane of red hair being the first thing Harry sees) as "Ron's younger sister" on pg. 69. Harry's labeling the Weasleys as Ron's family does not negate their connections to him in their own right. Arthur is Ron's father, and he is a sort of goofy uncle and supportive role model to Harry. Molly is Ron's mother, and she is a surrogate mother to Harry. Fred and George are Ron's brothers, and they are Harry's friends. Ginny is Ron's sister, and she has a connection to Harry in her own right.

The literary relationship of Harry finding family connections in the Weasleys with Harry/Ginny is that they are two parts of the same purpose. The "problem" is not that the Weasleys will not be able to accept Harry as a genuine part of their family until he marries their daughter. Nothing could be further from the case. Harry has been growing progressively closer to the Weasleys over the course of the series, because he has been without a loving family, and the Weasleys treat him like one of their own. If there is anyone who needs to change the way they view the other, it's Harry. He sees his own death as part of Molly's boggart, along with her husband and children, and he has heard her tell Sirius that Harry is as good as a son to her, but he is unable to internalize the Weasleys' acceptance of him. He does not expect to be invited to The Burrow for Christmas, and he is not aware that "just the family first" includes him when they go to visit Arthur at St. Mungo's. At the same time, there is a romantic storyline in the works between Harry and Ginny, and their pairing converges Harry's quest for family with his romantic outcome. He does not "need" to marry Ginny to be a part of the family, but this is a fictional story under the control of an author, and the Harry/Ginny perspective (if the ship's positions can be distilled to a unified perspective) is that Harry's becoming an honorary part of the family is leading to something concrete. That concrete union will help Harry to accept his place with them, because there will be no doubt in his mind that he is a valid part of their family.


Ginny on Harry

Unlike Harry, whose feelings are generally considered to be subtle and mysterious or simply not running in Ginny's favor, she is not really a mystery so much as a controversy. There is no disputing that Ginny had a crush on Harry for at least part of the series thus far. That much is patently undeniable. The controversy is focused on two questions: first, her reasons for liking Harry, and second, whether she still harbors feelings of a romantic nature for him in post-OotP canon. The main questions are: did she like Harry for being the Boy-Who-Lived, or for being "just Harry"? Did she get over him never to return again, or did she merely give up on him returning her feelings for him and move on with her life? Since the books are not told from her POV and her appearances have been fairly limited until OotP, in which she became a somewhat more prominent character, there is far less canon material available as evidence for Ginny's romantic inclinations than for Harry's. With this in mind, I'm going to attempt to answer the questions in a simple timeline of Ginny's feelings for Harry. We cannot see into her head, only observe her behavior, which displays a progression through the books.

Book 1: Starstruck Little Girl

Something I've said to other shippers, not in the spirit of promoting Harry/Ginny, but rather in understanding ships in general, is that it is not the amount of time the characters have on the page together that matters, but how they make use of that time. Ginny has very little appearance in PS/SS, as she is not yet old enough to attend Hogwarts. She only appears in two quick scenes, one near the beginning, and one at the end. In both of those scenes, Ginny displays a prepubescent interest in Harry.

"You know that black-haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?"

"Who?"

"Harry Potter!"

Harry heard the little girl's voice.

"Oh, Mum, can I go on the train and see him, Mum, oh please...."

"You've already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn't something you goggle at in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?"

pg. 97

At this point, Ginny is all of ten years old, she has just met Harry, does not really know him yet except as a name, and she expresses interest in him as a famous person whose name is well-known in her world. This is the stage at which Ginny's interest in Harry could arguably be characterized as a fangirl's crush on a celebrity. However, rather than be dismissed for her shallow hero-worship, she should be shown some leniency, as she is currently ten years old.

"There he is, Mum, there he is, look!"

It was Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, but she wasn't pointing at Ron.

"Harry Potter!" she squealed. "Look, Mum! I can see--"

"Be quiet, Ginny, it's rude to point."

pg. 308

In Ginny's second and last appearance in the first book, once again, she is excited by Harry's presence. Her interest is still probably best characterized as a crush on a celebrity, and since she is still a little girl, she should be allowed to act her age.

The changes that came over Ginny's behavior in OotP have created a controversy all their own. In the first book, she appeared lively, energetic and outgoing, a talkative little girl that her mother had to tell to be quiet. Then, she was quiet and restrained for the next three books before she appeared as the confident, powerful, feisty fourteen-year-old who came out of the woodwork in OotP. While the change was surprising to many readers (including this essayist), it was not a last-minute decision on the part of the author. The signs of Ginny's personality were available all along. After the first book introduces her as an extroverted, entirely noticeable personality, there is a contrast in the next three books between Ginny's outwardly presented shyness and the repeated signs that her earlier energy is still at work. The contrast begins as soon as Ginny's new introversion, in CoS when Ron mentions that Ginny "never shuts up normally" (pg. 40) in the sense that her new, tight-lipped behavior around Harry is surprising. They continue through the next two books, while Ginny is "very taken with" Harry. The divide between her regular personality and her self-conscious shyness in Harry's presence shows that her feelings for him are very strong.

"What do we want to be prefects for?" said George, looking revolted at the very idea. "It'd take all the fun out of life."

Ginny giggled.

"You want to set a better example for your sister!" snapped Mrs. Weasley.

PoA, pg. 62-3

Ginny's giggling at George's sense of humor is a clue of her true attitude and place in the family. It is only a fleeting glimpse in PoA, but it is confirmed in OotP when Harry notices "her jaw set so that her resemblance to Fred and George was suddenly striking." (pg. 761) She is Fred and George's little sister, she shares their sense of humor and confident, prank-loving attitude, which is why Molly wants them to set a better example for their sister: she knows Ginny will follow the twins' example.

"We've been hearing explosions out of their room for ages, but we never thought they were actually making things," said Ginny. "We thought they just liked the noise."

GoF, pg. 55

This is an example of Ginny speaking in front of Harry, in fact speaking very candidly, before OotP, which shows that Harry's remark about how "she never used to talk in front of [him]" on pg. 348 is more indicative of a change in Harry's perceptions than in Ginny's personality. Another example is found on pg. 398 of GoF:

"He--er--just asked Fleur Delacour to go to the ball with him," said Ginny. She looked as though she was fighting back a smile, but she kept patting Ron's arm sympathetically.

GoF, pg. 398

Both of these appearances are signs that Ginny has not always been quite so timid as she appeared in CoS and PoA.

"He'll be okay, he only got ploughed!" Charlie said reassuringly to Ginny, who was hanging over the side of the box, looking horror-struck. "Which is what Krum was after, of course...."

GoF, pg. 108

Ginny's horror at Lynch's injury is an early sign of her interest in Quidditch, which comes to fruition in OotP, when we find out that she has been borrowing her brothers' brooms and teaching herself to fly since the age of six. At the QWC, she is concerned for the Irish Seeker, which foreshadows that she will later become a Seeker herself.

Ginny's character development before Book 5 was subtle, but the clues can be traced back to the beginning to show that the bold, forceful Ginny was there all along. Therefore, it must have taken something very powerful indeed to cause her to act the way she did around Harry during the course of her crush on him.


Book 2: Early Stages

CoS is the book in which I consider Ginny's love for Harry to have begun in earnest. She expressed interest in him in Book 1, but the problem then was that she didn't know him. In CoS, she knows much more about Harry as a person rather than a name, and as soon as we see her in this installment, her behavior is radically different.

At that moment there was a diversion in the form of a small, red-headed figure in a long nightdress, who appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal, and ran out again.

"Ginny," said Ron in an undertone to Harry. "My sister. She's been talking about you all summer."

CoS, pg. 35

Ginny has changed since we last saw her in Book 1. She is no longer trying to approach Harry, or draw attention to him. In fact, she is too shy to stay and talk to him. She is so shocked at his presence, she can't even stay in the room with him. Ginny is no longer treating Harry like a celebrity. What has changed to make her act like this?

Ron has come home for the summer. He tells Harry that Ginny has been talking about him, and I have no doubt this is true, but there is another activity at work. Ron has returned from his first year at Hogwarts, and it is to be expected that he is full of stories to tell his family about the sorts of things he saw and did, which includes many tales involving his new best friends, Harry and Hermione. Ginny cannot be the only person in the house who has been talking about Harry, and part of the way she has been talking about him is by asking about him. Ron knows how much Ginny has been talking about Harry, because many of those conversations include him. She now has Ron, as Harry's best friend, and the twins, as his Quidditch teammates, to tell her all about Harry as a person, not just as the hero of their world. In the ensuing month, she has learned much more about Harry than she knew when she pointed him out to her mother at the end of the last book, and is acting very differently around him. Perhaps she has learned of how much he dislikes his fame, and is embarrassed at having drawn attention to him? That much is anyone's guess, all that's certain is that Ginny is uncharacteristically shy around Harry.

On the third landing, a door stood ajar. Harry just caught sight of a pair of bright brown eyes staring at him before it closed with a snap.

"Ginny," said Ron. "You don't know how weird it is for her to be this shy. She never shuts up normally."

CoS,pg. 40

Ron remarks that this is unusual behavior for her. She is introverted where she is usually talkative. This is not the approach of a fangirl to a celebrity hero. This is the behavior of a schoolgirl with a crush on an older boy. What is especially interesting is that, while her behavior is indicative of a normal, pubescent crush, both the author and the protagonist describe her emotions differently. At no point in the series does Harry call Ginny's interest in him a crush. He says she is very taken with him. JKR does not call her feelings a crush, either. In her interviews, she says Ginny is languishing in love. They label Ginny's attraction to Harry as a much deeper emotion than a crush, which says that there is something more sincere and lasting going on in Ginny underneath her being very prone to knocking things over whenever Harry enters the room.

"Famous Harry Potter," said Malfoy. "Can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."

"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!" said Ginny. It was the first time she had spoken in front of Harry. She was glaring at Malfoy.

"Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!" drawled Malfoy. Ginny went scarlet as Ron and Hermione fought their way over, both clutching stacks of Lockhart books.

CoS, pg. 61

The first time Ginny speaks in front of Harry, she does so to defend him to Malfoy. She knows that he did not enjoy the attention from Lockhart, and stands up on his behalf as such. She has been paying attention to Harry, possibly from her brothers' accounts, and certainly to him directly since he's been staying at her house, and understands that he does not like being famous. Her going scarlet at Malfoy's taunt shows that she is extremely self-conscious about her feelings for Harry, and is strongly affected by the idea of being Harry's girlfriend. Most importantly, her defense of Harry shows that she likes him not for being the Boy-Who-Lived, but for being this nice boy who hangs out with her brothers.

Ginny didn't find it amusing, either.

"Oh, don't," she wailed every time Fred asked Harry loudly who he was planning to attack next, or when George pretended to ward Harry off with a large clove of garlic when they met.

CoS, pg. 210

Once again, Ginny is quick to defend Harry from embarrassing attention. We later find out that Ginny was the one summoning the basilisk, and so this is an early warning sign of her possession, but she is also very insistent that Fred and George do not cast Harry in that role, which suggests that she knows he would not be the one responsible for the attacks.

Hot all over at the thought of being given a valentine in front of a line of first years, which happened to include Ginny Weasley, Harry tried to escape. The dwarf, however, cut his way through the crowd by kicking people's shins, and reached him before he'd gone two paces.

CoS, pg. 237

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard
I wish he was mine, he's really divine
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord

CoS, pg. 238

"Wonder what Potter's written in this?" said Malfoy, who obviously hadn't noticed the year on the cover and thought he had Harry's own diary. A hush fell over the onlookers. Ginny was staring from the diary to Harry, looking terrified.

[snip]

But Harry didn't care, he was one-up on Malfoy, and that was worth five points from Gryffindor any day. Malfoy was looking furious, and as Ginny passed him to enter her classroom, he yelled spitefully after her, "I don't think Potter liked your valentine much!"

Ginny covered her face with her hands and ran into class.

CoS, pg. 239

Malfoy implicates Ginny in writing and sending the valentine, and it is frequently assumed that she did send it, but is this really so? First, let's take a look at the content of the poem. Aside from the poor taste of "green as a fresh pickled toad," at no time in the year does Ginny act forward enough to write anything so bold as "I wish he was mine, he's really divine." In fact, there is no time in the year when Ginny attempts to draw attention to Harry or draw his attention to herself. The act of sending the valentine at all is uncharacteristic of Ginny's behavior around Harry. She does not hold him up and profess her love for him through tacky poetry; she knocks things over, she hides in her room, she sticks her elbow in the butter dish. The valentine is a red herring for where Ginny's focus lies: the diary. She does not want Harry or anyone else to have access to her enchanted diary, and that is where her attention is directed in this scene.

Malfoy says the valentine is from Ginny, but he is not a reliable witness. How would he know if she sent the valentine? It was more likely a prank from him. He saw that Ginny liked Harry from their encounter in Flourish & Blotts, he wrote the valentine to embarrass Harry, knowing he could frame Ginny for it. The people most likely to refer to Voldemort as the Dark Lord are the Death Eaters and their families, which Draco is. Another possibility is that Fred and George sent the valentine, but for the time being, I think Malfoy is a far more likely culprit. Ginny covers her face as she runs into class because Malfoy just drew attention to her crush on Harry, or perhaps this is a sign of her distress over seeing Harry with Tom Riddle's diary, but it is far from certain that she was the one who sent the valentine. Innocent until proven guilty, and she should not be labeled as a fangirl with a shallow crush.


Book 3: Barely Existent, But Still in Love

Ginny's attraction to Harry is relevant to the plot of CoS, as it is part of what motivates her to write in Riddle's diary. As of the end of the book, her crush ceases to drive the plot, but in PoA, she is still as taken with him as ever.

At that moment Mrs. Weasley entered the bar, laden with shopping bags and followed by the twins, Fred and George, who were about to start their fifth year at Hogwarts; the newly elected Head Boy, Percy; and the Weasleys' youngest child and only girl, Ginny.

Ginny, who had always been very taken with Harry, seemed even more heartily embarrassed than usual when she saw him, perhaps because he had saved her life during their previous year at Hogwarts. She went very red and muttered "hello" without looking at him.

PoA, pg. 62

Ginny is still extremely shy and reserved around Harry, which is, of course, not reflective of her true personality. She is normally much more outgoing, so her feelings for Harry must be very intense to provoke such self-consciousness in her.

Not only does Ginny's love for Harry no longer drive the plot, but she is barely present in the book at all. She appears in a few scenes and then vanishes for the rest of the book. However, JKR makes excellent use of that little time to show that there is still something "going on" between Harry and Ginny. After she goes red without looking at him, they later have their eye-catch and private joke over Percy showing off for Penelope at the train station, and later on she goes to visit him in the hospital wing.

He had a stream of visitors, all intent on cheering him up. Hagrid sent him a bunch of earwiggy flowers that looked like yellow cabbages, and Ginny Weasley, blushing furiously, turned up with a get-well card she had made herself, which sang shrilly unless Harry kept it shut under his bowl of fruit.

PoA, pg. 183

Her gesture, while comedic, is very heartfelt. She made the card herself, so she is putting effort into her get-well wishes. Her "blushing furiously" means she is still terribly shy and self-conscious around Harry, so it took courage to go and see him. Ginny cares about Harry enough to put her embarrassment aside and deliver her hand-made card, no matter how hard she blushes on the way.


Book 4: Languishing in Love and Growing Up

Goblet of Fire is arguably the most ship-oriented book in the series thus far, and Ginny makes a somewhat more substantial appearance than she did in PoA. Additionally, her behavior in Harry's presence is in a transitional period between PoA and OotP. She is more confident than she was at 11 and 12, but still more reserved than she is at 14. The way she feels about Harry is, as in PoA, completely irrelevant to the plot, but he still has the power to make her blush scarlet nonetheless. Since her crush on Harry is not part of the main plot of the book, it must be continuing through the series because it is a storyline in itself, which is yet to be resolved. That it has continued this long is significant. GoF is the third book in which Ginny's first appearance shows that she likes Harry.

Then two girls appeared in the kitchen doorway behind Mrs. Weasley. One, with very bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth, was Harry's and Ron's friend, Hermione Granger. The other, who was small and red-haired, was Ron's younger sister, Ginny. Both of them smiled at Harry, who grinned back, which made Ginny go scarlet--she had been very taken with Harry ever since his first visit to the Burrow.

GoF, pg. 54

All it takes is a grin from Harry to make Ginny go scarlet. Again, she is described, not as having a crush on him, but as being very taken with him, and that may be especially appropriate this year, as her crush-like behavior is on its way out.

"What?" said Harry.

"He--er--just asked Fleur Delacour to go to the ball with him," said Ginny. She looked as though she was fighting back a smile, but she kept patting Ron's arm sympathetically.

GoF, pg. 398

Ginny is speaking openly to Harry before Book 5, which is a sign that she is getting over her paralyzing shyness towards him, as continued from the scene in Ron's bedroom, when she told him about the twins' business plans and Ron's owl. She seems to have learned, between her giving him her handmade get-well card and going to the Quidditch World Cup in his company, that she can have a casual conversation with him without spontaneously combusting. More importantly, she answers the question that Harry puts to Ron. This is a "partner" behavior that Harry mirrors in OotP: they team up to look after him, like Ron and Hermione frequently gang up on Harry, and I speak of them doing that only in the most admiring way possible.

"I asked her to go with me just now," Harry said dully, "and she told me."

Ginny had suddenly stopped smiling.

GoF, pg. 399

Rest assured, Ginny's increasing willingness to talk to Harry does not mean for a second that she no longer fancies him. Up until this point, Ginny was not aware that Harry had developed a crush on Cho. Now, she finds out that he asked her to the ball, therefore she learns that Harry has his sights set on another girl, and she suddenly stops smiling.

"Right," said Ron, who looked extremely put out, "this is getting stupid. Ginny, you can go with Harry, and I'll just--"

"I can't," said Ginny, and she went scarlet too. "I'm going with--with Neville. He asked me when Hermione said no, and I thought...well...I'm not going to be able to go otherwise, I'm not in fourth year." She looked extremely miserable. "I think I'll go and have dinner," she said, and she got up and walked off to the portrait hole, her head bowed.

GoF, pg. 401

When Ron brings up the possibility of Ginny going to the ball with Harry, she goes scarlet again. She is not only talking about why she is going to the ball with Neville, she is also explaining why she cannot go with Harry, and she looks extremely miserable. She has just found out that Harry likes another girl, and at the same time, she has learned that she missed her chance to ask Harry to escort her to the ball, if she'd had the nerve to approach him before Neville asked her. However, Harry is thinking about an older, pretty, popular girl who has already been approached by another boy, and Ginny has accepted an invitation from Neville, who asked Hermione first, and now that she has agreed to go with him, it would be the very height of tacky to break their date so she can go with Harry, so she walks away with her head bowed.

This conversation is the last time Ginny interacts with Harry before she reappears in OotP, and we later find out that she "gave up on him" months before, a process which began with her meeting Michael Corner at the Yule Ball and then entering into a dating relationship with him at the end of the school year. We have this conversation, and then Harry sees Ginny wincing under Neville's feet at the ball, and then she is kept in the background until after she has a new relationship and has shed her blush-inducing crush on Harry. It was probably the common room scene that prompted Ginny to give up on Harry. She saw that his attention was engaged elsewhere, and knew she couldn't go on waiting for Harry to like her back. There was no way that Harry could have registered her as a love interest while she had a crush on him. It is not a type of love that is designed to be reciprocated, because it does not lend itself to a healthy, balanced relationship. Aside from the fact that they would have gotten into a relationship at the ages of 14 and 13 if Harry had "noticed" her before she gave up on him, her crush gave him far too much social power over her to foster an equal, respectful dynamic between the two of them.


Book 5: Up On But Not Over

Then there is OotP, the book in which everything changes for Ginny. This is when we find out she has given up on Harry, and found a new boyfriend, Michael Corner. As Harry notes at that particular revelation, Ginny has become much more confident in his presence than she has ever been. What does this mean, exactly, for how she feels about him? What does it mean to give up on someone that you've liked for years? Just how clearly-defined, how well-informed, and how accurate is Hermione's report? In order to answer these questions, one must examine Ginny's behavior toward Harry in OotP, and analyze the way her feelings have really changed.

"Oh hello, Harry!" said Ron's younger sister, Ginny, brightly. "I thought I heard your voice."

OotP, pg. 69

For the past three books, Rowling has employed a pattern of making Ginny's first appearance in the book show that she likes Harry. In OotP, she continues the pattern, but this time, in a much subtler, gentler way. Ginny has just entered the room after the first of the book's CAPSLOCK!Harry scenes. The twins pop in before her, and they joke to him about how he shouldn't bottle up his anger, and how people can hear him 50 miles away. Ginny is the twins' little sister; she physically resembles them even more noticeably than the rest of her family, she follows their lead, they mentor her, but she is much more diplomatic in the way she greets Harry. She aims to make him comfortable. Rather than joke about his capslock ranting, she simply lets him know she heard his voice, making it sound like she overheard him talking to someone. She is not scared, or annoyed, or surprised at him for taking his temper out on Ron and Hermione, she is only happy to see him.

"Come on," Ginny told him, "if we get a move on we'll be able to save them places."

OotP, pg. 184

Ginny is understanding of Harry's concerns. He is feeling mildly abandoned, after seeing Ron and Hermione go off to the prefects' compartment. At this point, Ginny is already going out with Michael, and the train ride would have been a perfect time for her to spend some leisurely time with her boyfriend from another House. She would have been within her rights to go find Michael and leave Harry on his own. He's a big boy, he can take care of himself. Instead, Ginny looks out for Harry, taking him to find a compartment with room for them plus Ron and Hermione, and does not mention anyone else she might like to see on the train. She chooses Harry over Michael, basically, even though she has given up on the former and is going out with the latter.

"No," said Ginny miserably; she and Hermione were sitting on either side of Harry. "He just got lines, I heard Montague laughing about it at dinner."

OotP, pg. 417

Ginny is sitting beside Harry in one of his worst moments. She is on an equal plane with Hermione, flanking Harry and lending him gentle, undemanding moral support just after he has been banned from the Quidditch team. Then you may ask, what about Hermione? She's also sitting next to him, so is she in love with him, too? Hermione is Harry's supportive, practically maternal best female friend of over four years. Ginny does not have that type of history with him; she is Harry's best friend's little sister of over four years, who used to fancy him but gave up on him ages ago, yet she is still on the same level as Hermione. Something else of note is that Harry is not the only one who was banned. Fred and George were also given that same brutally unfair punishment, but Ginny is not sitting next to either of her brothers. Something about Harry sets him apart for Ginny, and she is the last person to leave the room before Ron comes back in.

"Harry--what's going on?" asked Ginny, who looked frightened. "Professor McGonagall says you saw Dad hurt--"

OotP, pg. 473

When Ginny enters the room, Harry is not the only one present, or the only one who could have the story. There is also Ron, who shares a dorm with Harry, has been in the office with him and Dumbledore, and probably knows the story by now. There is also Dumbledore, for that matter, who is privy to much more information than any of them, and so Ginny could just as easily have put her question to either of them, but she asks Harry. As soon as she enters the room, she immediately turns to Harry, specifically, for information.

"Are you all right, Harry, dear?" whispered Mrs. Weasley, leaning across Ginny to speak to him as the train rattled along through its dark tunnel. "You don't look very well. Are you feeling sick?"

OotP, pg. 493

Notice how Mrs. Weasley has to lean across Ginny to speak to Harry. She only has to lean across Ginny. This means Ginny is sitting next to Harry, again in one of his absolute worst moments in the book. He is suffering, and she knows it, and she knows why, and she is at his side.

"Excuse me, but I care what happens to Sirius as much as you do!" said Ginny, her jaw set so that her resemblance to Fred and George was suddenly striking.

"You're too--" Harry began.

"I'm three years older than you were when you fought You-Know-Who over the Sorcerer's Stone," said she fiercely, "and it's because of me Malfoy's stuck back in Umbridge's office with giant flying bogeys attacking him--"

OotP, pg. 761

Ginny is unafraid to stand up to Harry and his temper. She wants him to know that she is not content to sit back and be the damsel in distress, and she will not stand for him to treat her like the little girl he pulled out of the Chamber. She is determined to be there with him in rescuing Sirius, and that is the reason she cites: an emotional attachment to Sirius, similar to Harry's.

"Daddy sold it to them," said Luna vaguely, turning a page of The Quibbler. "He got a very good price for it too, so we're going to go on an expedition to Sweden this summer and see if we can catch a Crumple-Horned Snorkack."

Hermione seemed to struggle with herself for a moment, then said, "That sounds lovely."

Ginny caught Harry's eye and looked away quickly, grinning.

OotP, pg. 848

This is a moment not only of Harry noticing Ginny, but of her reaching to him for a silly moment. She is the active one in this interaction; she catches Harry's eye, in a parallel to their laughing over Percy showing off for Penelope in PoA. She most certainly fancied Harry in early PoA, and there is a real playfulness in the way she looks away while grinning. The action denotes excitement, interplay, slightly unsettled and unresolved feelings at work in the most recent of their eye-catches. Ginny still likes Harry. She may have told Hermione she gave up on him, but her feelings for him have not gone away.

"Well, I've chosen Dean Thomas, would you say he's better?" asked Ginny vaguely.

OotP, pg. 866

Just after Ron makes a less-than-subtle hint that she should be with Harry, Ginny tells him she has chosen Dean Thomas. This line alone has spawned multiple dimensions of debate in the shipping culture, ranging from the founding of a ship to the cultivation of a reputation for Ginny as a slut. Ginny's vague pronouncement leaves several questions to be asked. Is she really interested in Dean, or did she merely say that to fulfill her God-given responsibility to annoy her older sibling? Did she simply come up with Dean's name as a way to derail her brother's matchmaking attempts? If she has indeed chosen Dean for her new boyfriend, has he chosen her? If they are destined for dating in Half-Blood Prince, is it going to last any longer than her attempt with Michael Corner?

The biggest flaw in Dean/Ginny is structural, but I am not going to make a long enough digression from characterization to explain the problems with this pairing on a structural level, when I have already written a separate essay on that very topic. In terms of characterization, she could soon be going out with Dean, but whether it is a relationship designed to last is another matter. Ginny makes her announcement very casually, like it's no big deal that she's chosen Dean, and the fact that she is able to speak of her choice so easily in front of a compartment of people including her brother, her former crush, and two of her closest friends, suggests that her feelings for Dean do not run very deep. She may have become interested in him, but he is not the love of her life.

Ultimately, I would be much more prepared to accept that Ginny's choice of Dean meant she had truly gotten over Harry if she had not just caught Harry's eye in the hospital wing. Hermione's statement on Ginny's feelings for Harry is extremely open-ended. She gave up on him, but she still likes him, of course. Giving up on someone is a decision that can be made in a day. Getting over someone is a process that takes time. Between Hermione's statement and Ginny's behavior, what happened was that Ginny decided Harry would never like her as more than a friend, so she stopped waiting for him to reciprocate her feelings. She wants to get over him, so she has moved on with her life and tried going out with another boy. The relationship didn't work, but she managed to shed the childish, paralyzing crush that tied her tongue in front of Harry for years, yet she still finds that getting over him is not so easy. All those embarrassing moments of clumsiness from her early crushing years cause her no shame now, and she doesn't hold anything against Harry for asking other girls out right under her nose while she was languishing in love for him, which is one of his greatest flaws and failings in GoF, according to JKR. Ginny is not acting like a girl who no longer loves Harry. Her giving up on him was not a resolution to the storyline of her languishing in love. If such a vague, anticlimactic ending were all that was going to come of all those years of Ginny pining after Harry, before she ended up with another boy such as Dean or Neville, then she may as well have given up on him in early PoA, after her feelings for Harry ceased to be relevant to the plot. On the contrary, her giving up was a plot twist in a storyline that has yet to see its resolution.


Other Characters on Harry/Ginny

"The Yule Ball is approaching--a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now the ball will be open only to fourth years and above--although you may invite a younger student if you wish--"

Lavender Brown let out a shrill giggle. Parvati Patil nudged her hard in the ribs, her face working furiously as she too fought not to giggle. They both looked around at Harry. Professor McGonagall ignored them, which Harry thought was distinctly unfair, as she had just told off him and Ron.

GoF, pg. 386

For some reason--whatever could it be?--Lavender and Parvati look at Harry while giggling when Professor McGonagall says they may invite younger students to go with them to the ball. What is the connection of Harry to "you may invite a younger student if you wish"? Why would Lavender and Parvati hear about taking a younger student to the ball, and immediately look at Harry? There is one younger student they that know might like to be Harry's date at the ball, and that is Ginny. Moreover, their giggling in his direction suggests that they think he should ask her. These two girls are aware of the possibility of Harry/Ginny, and they think it is viable. Then again, who cares what Lavender and Parvati think? They aren't that close to Harry, and they probably don't know Ginny very well, either. They're just Hermione's ditzy, Divination-loving roommates. If there are any characters, aside from Harry and Ginny themselves, whose opinions mean anything, they are the people closest to our subtle, mysterious, and controversial couple. That means Ron and Hermione.

"Right," said Ron, who looked extremely put out, "this is getting stupid. Ginny, you can go with Harry, and I'll just--"

GoF, pg. 401

Ron, not realizing that Neville Longbottom has already invited her, is well aware that Ginny likes Harry, and thinks she should go to the Yule Ball with him. In doing so, he has no problem with his best friend going to a potentially romantic function with his sister, and he thinks his sister is good enough for his best friend. However, this occasion is not the best example of Ron's preference for Harry/Ginny. After making a pact with Harry to ask out girls outside their social sphere, and failing to fulfill the pact, Ron is, in typical 14-year-old boy fashion, basically treating his little sister like a last resort date for his best friend, and that is not good enough.

"But," said Ron, following Hermione along a row of quills in copper pots, "I thought Ginny fancied Harry!"

OotP, pg. 348

This is the basis of Ron's outrage at the news of Ginny going out with Michael Corner. He has gone beef-eared, butterbeer-spewing, inarticulate with anger that someone other than Harry is going out with his sister. He immediately decides he doesn't like Michael Corner, a boy that he has barely even seen, much less gotten to know. Michael is in the way of an arrangement that Ron wants to see, which is his sister going out with his best friend. Michael is an obstacle that must be removed, hence Ron's (utterly hilarious) suspicion of him when they learn of Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four. Still, this eruption of indignation on Ron's part is simply not sufficient to illustrate his intentions for Harry and Ginny. Is it really a desire to see them together, or is it just a protective big brother's distress at learning that his sister is growing up and moving on with her life outside of his knowledge? Maybe he just felt a sense of security at knowing that Ginny fancied Harry, because that meant she was staying in place, where her family could keep track of her. We'll need to look further into the book to complete the picture.

"Well, I always thought [Michael Corner] was a bit of an idiot," he said, prodding his queen forward toward Harry's quivering castle. "Good for you. Just choose someone--better--next time."

He cast Harry an oddly furtive look as he said it.

OotP, pg. 866

In the very last chapter of the book, when Harry is available again, Ginny is unattached (their exes just happen to have run off with each other), Ron still wants them to get together. He tells Ginny to choose someone better than that idiot Michael Corner, while furtively looking at Harry, who needs someone more cheerful than Cho. Ron is, bless his dear freckled soul, about as subtle as a Bludger. There is no ambiguity in his intentions. First, he blows his top at the news that his sister is going out with some newly introduced Ravenclaw, while protesting that Ginny is supposed to fancy Harry, then eight months later, one of the last scenes of the book shows Ron telling Ginny to choose someone better, and he has his eye on Harry. He thinks they should get together.

Then you may ask, so what if Ron wants them to get together? Who cares what he wants? Is Harry supposed to hook up with Ginny just because Ron wants it? The answer is, just as with OBHWF, Harry is going to hook up with Ginny because he likes her. Ron's support is more of a literary clue than evidence. First, it is a promising development that he is in favor, in that Harry will not have to worry about his best friend taking a protective big brother stance to him dating Ron's sister. The spraying butterbeer and the furtive look are proof that the "never date your best friend's sister" rule among guys is not an issue in this case. Before OotP showed that Ron encourages a romance between his sister and his best friend, one might have worried that he would pose a problem, but now we know, Harry already has Ron's blessing. The romance with Ginny will not be a threat to the friendship with Ron. The only problem is in wondering how the friendship would be affected when the romance ended. In that case, there is only one thing for Harry to do: don't break up with her! Second, the significance of Ron's support of their relationship which has not yet started is that Ron is a fictional character under JKR's control, just like everyone else in the series, especially Harry. He is in favor because Rowling wants him to be in favor. When the boy who is Harry's absolute best friend in the world, and Ginny's age-closest brother, wants them to be together, it is a much better sign than if they had the support of, say, Rita Skeeter. Ron knows Harry very well and cares about Ginny very deeply and he can be trusted to have their best interests at heart, so when he says Harry wants someone more cheerful, his opinion means something and, on the reader's level, should be taken into consideration.

While Ron is fairly obvious in his encouragement, Hermione is much more low-key. She spends so much time encouraging Harry to date Cho, it is easy to miss the times when she recognizes the potential between him and Ginny, but the signs of her recognition are present.

"Ginny used to fancy Harry, but she gave up on him months ago. Not that she doesn't like you, of course," she added kindly to Harry while she examined a long black-and-gold quill.

OotP, pg. 348

While explaining Ginny's love life to Ron, Hermione makes sure to point out that, of course Ginny likes Harry. She says this "kindly" to Harry, as if she is under the impression that Harry needs to be reassured that Ginny's feelings for him still run in the positive. Whatever could have given her that idea?

"Well, you have!" [Ginny] said. "And you won't look at any of us!"

"It's you lot who won't look at me!" said Harry angrily.

"Maybe you're taking it in turns to look and keep missing each other," suggested Hermione, the corners of her mouth twitching.

"Very funny," snapped Harry, turning away.

OotP, pg. 499

Hermione intervenes in Harry and Ginny's exchange by making a joke. The corners of her mouth twitching mean she is trying not to giggle, hence Harry's response of "very funny." She jokes that they are trying to look at each other but keep missing each other's eyes. This is unusual behavior for the normally serious, less-than-humorous Hermione: Harry is angry, Ginny is annoyed with him, and they're in a serious situation, with Harry worrying that he's being possessed by Voldemort, but Hermione finds something amusing about the way they're interacting. She basically jokes that they are working up the nerve to talk to each other in typical shy, awkward teenager fashion.

Hermione's encouragement of Harry/Ginny is subtle where Ron's is blatant, and it is subconscious where Ron's is direct. Hermione is not trying to confuse Harry by switching him between Cho and Ginny; she simply wants Harry to be happy, and she picks up on signs that Ginny could be someone who makes him happy. Hermione's recognition in OotP parallels Harry's focus. He is mainly occupied, in the romantic arena, with Cho, but he is also paying attention to Ginny. Hermione, meanwhile, can see that he likes Cho and pushes him in her direction, but she also sees something developing between him and Ginny, so she points it out to him. Hermione tells it like she sees it, which is the style of her life in general.


Conclusion

In a shipping debate once upon a time, on a forum called Fiction Alley Park, a formidable debater named Angua asked an opponent, regarding the age-old conflict of Harry/Hermione vs. Ron/Hermione, this vital question: Are you a shipper, or are you a JKR appreciator? I would like to modify that question and ask: are you a shipper, or are you a Harry Potter fan? My position is similar to Hermione's: I only want him to be happy. If the romantic storyline between him and Ginny turns out to be a huge red herring, and he ends up with someone else, all that matters is that it is a satisfying conclusion for our hero. However, the storyline runs remarkably deep for a red herring. You may think they should go their separate romantic ways, or that Harry could fall for someone else, or that he would be better suited to the partner of your choice, but what about what Harry wants? What about authorial intent? Ginny is being set up as Harry's love interest, he does have a fine emotional rapport with her, and it will continue to develop. Harry does not think Ginny is unjustifiably selfish; while she's panicking about the threat of expulsion, he is nothing but concerned for her. Ginny does not resent Harry for going after Cho Chang instead of reciprocating her crush on him; she is still receptive to him. If the series ends with Harry looking forward to his future with Ginny at his side, are you going to rail against JKR and swear that she should not have used this fairytale cliché with that skanky Annoying Redhead, or are you going to accept that the author had something different in mind than what you would have preferred, and congratulate Harry on overcoming his trials to find, not just survival, but life and love?

Only Lisa Rourke gets 
to draw Harry without his glasses.


Referential Reading

D'You Really Think They're Suited? Why Hermione Is Not the Right Girl for Harry by Angua. Aside from the fact that everyone should read this essay, Angua makes some extremely valuable insights into Harry's psychology.

The Keeper of Her Heart: The Case for Hermione's Feelings for Ron by Red Monster. In case you're wondering why I keep on referring to Ron and Hermione's "partner" behavior and acting like their pairing is inevitable and obvious.

Breaking All the Rules: The Literary Significance of Ginny's Love Life by Red Monster. In case you skipped the link in Ginny's section, this is my structure-based case for how Ginny is being set up as Harry's love interest. Think of it as a really long digression from the "Well, I've chosen Dean Thomas" part.

The Ginny Effect by Xray. A closer look at the library scene.

JKR's H/G Supporting Quotes by Gily Ann. The author has made some interesting statements regarding this ship, actually.

Lisa Rourke's Harry Potter Fan Art Go pay a visit to the artist of that gorgeous pic of adult Harry and Ginny above!


This essay has been betaread by: Prongs, Sr.; Misselthwaite; Ashwinder HG; Aibhinn; DOME 36 and puddleduck.

About the essayist: Red Monster is a 20something woman who holds a BA in English Creative Writing, and therefore, of course, works as an Accounting lackey. She started reading the Harry Potter books in the summer of 2000, but did not enter online fandom until shortly after the release of OotP. Full of opinions but shy of online conflict, she has chosen to release her frustration on shipping issues by writing a number of essays, starting with the Hermione-centric opus linked above. Other works of argument include the smaller, structure-based position paper on H/G which was originally envisioned as a fairly long digression during this essay, but she soon realized the topic merited far more discussion than she could devote to it in the middle of a much longer, characterization-based piece; an analysis of Viktor/Hermione at Mugglenet; and a comprehensive case against Ron/Luna hidden at her LJ, away from innocent passersby. A primary Ron/Hermione shipper, she is wary of the use of symbolism or compatibility-based arguments to defend ships, including the ones she supports, though she will occasionally indulge in a fit of subtext--or, rather, SubtEXt.

She is normally a procrastinator of the highest order and took the majority of a year to write her first shipping essay, but has found that the impending release of HBP makes a very effective deadline for the completion of this piece, which is known among her friends as the Big Honking Essay, or BHE for short. If you were to force her to choose a favorite character from the younger generation, her answer would be Hermione. Her favorite nonromantic issue in HP is the relationship between Harry and his Aunt Petunia. Her greatest inspiration in the world of HP shipping is the formidable debater and essayist known as Angua, who holds the position of Honorary Miscreant aboard the PMS Toastkiller. She would like to acknowledge all the fearless, brilliant, though slightly unhinged shippers who have nurtured and guided her confidence in the pairing of Harry and Ginny, except there are so many names she could never hope to remember them all, so instead she will just say: I couldn't have done it without you.

The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --