The Sugar Quill
Author: J & Jo  Story: On My Own  Chapter: Default
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On my own, pretending he’s beside me

A/N:  As much as we would like to, we own neither Harry Potter nor Les Misérables. Merci beaucoup to our wonderful beta-reader, Lallybroch.  :o)  Review!

 

 

 

 

 

Ginny looked up from the corner table in the Gryffindor common room where Hermione was helping her with her Charms paper.  Harry had just come down the stairs from the boys’ dormitories, cloak in hand, without his schoolbag or any books or parchment.  She surreptitiously watched him as he crossed the common room to the portrait hole.  He paused before climbing through; she saw him sneak a glance in the direction of her table, noting Hermione’s fixation with the fourth year Charms text, then toward the fireplace, where Ron was playing chess with Seamus.  Seeming satisfied that his friends were preoccupied, Harry continued on his way out of the common room. 

 

Ginny stood and began stacking her books neatly in one corner of the table.  She was confident that no one else would join Hermione at the table in her absence; this was the table Hermione, Ron, and Harry always used.  It had saddened her to see that many students were avoiding Harry since the start of classes.  The year before, most of them had loved being able to say they knew Harry Potter, that they had classes or ate meals with him, but since the Triwizard tournament, there had been a noticeable decline in the number of people who acknowledged Harry and, in turn, Ron and Hermione in the halls of the castle.  No one mentioned it, especially not to Harry, but Ginny noticed the furtive glances and the hushed whispers that followed the three of them out of the Great Hall to class.  She glanced out the window and saw Harry appear on the path that circled the lake.  She sighed and began to put on her cloak as she walked away.

 

Hermione looked up, confused at Ginny’s sudden departure. “Ginny, didn’t you want to finish this Charms essay? I’ve found the page you needed about everyday uses of Cushioning Charms,” she called out as Ginny walked off.

 

“Later,” Ginny yelled back over her shoulder as she made her way through the common room. 

 

On my own, pretending he’s beside me

All alone, I walk with him till morning

Without him, I feel his arms around me

And when I lose my way I close my eyes

And he has found me

 

The setting sun sank below the clouds, setting Ginny’s red hair ablaze, and a crisp fall breeze made her pull her cloak a bit tighter around her shoulders.  She looked out over the lake, and on the far shore, she could just make out a boy with messy dark hair sitting on one of the benches.  She had noticed that Harry had been spending more and more time alone since their arrival at Hogwarts, and it worried her.  Not that he ever spent time with me, she mused. Everyone at the Burrow had heard Harry’s screams break the stillness of the August night air, but Ginny had never found the nerve to follow Hermione up to Ron’s room to comfort Harry after one of his nightmares.

 

As she started off along the path, if she closed her eyes and thought about it hard enough, she could almost believe that Harry joined her on these walks around Hogwarts’ Lake.  This was a daydream that Ginny had enjoyed since her first year.  She had become more and more confident around Harry as the years had passed, but their conversations were generally limited to their lessons and the weather, with the occasional venture into when Ron would finally admit that he fancied Hermione.  She was never so outspoken or quick-witted in person as she was in these imaginary conversations with the boy she’d loved since before she came to Hogwarts.  In her mind, she and Harry could talk about everything, from schoolwork and the latest gossip to those horrible Dursleys and the nightmares that she knew plagued them both.  Sometimes he held her hand, sometime he put his arm around her shoulder and sometimes—Ginny could barely dare to imagine it—sometimes he would take her face in his hands and place a kiss gently on her lips.

 

In the rain, the pavement shines like silver

All the lights are misty in the river

In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight

And all I see is him and me

Forever and forever

 

The conversations that Ginny created could last for hours.  Tonight, she made Harry comment that her hair was the color of the sunset, which led into a very funny story about the time when she was six and Fred had colored her hair a lovely shade of lavender.  She had begged her mother to leave it, but Molly Weasley wouldn’t dream of letting her daughter run around with purple hair.  This, of course, would prompt Harry to tell her a story of something he had done before he knew that he was magical, and so the conversation went until she came to the opposite side of the lake.

 

She watched wistfully as the sun set and the stars came out in patches, peeking out from behind the clouds here and there.  It had rained that afternoon, and the path was still damp.  The light posts around the lake made the pavement glow, and a half moon hid in the wispy clouds, emerging occasionally to cast its reflection in the lake.  As she passed under a particularly large tree, she stopped and gazed up in awe at the band of fairies that had taken up residence in the tree’s limbs.  In the darkness, they glowed in every shade of the rainbow, lighting up the tree like tiny stars caught in its branches. She pointed them out to Harry, who responded--

 

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

It was Harry’s voice, his actual, real voice that issued from the shadows.  Ginny spun around and for a moment, could do nothing but stare.  He was still seated on the bench under the tree, looking much older than his fifteen years. His dark hair was even more untidy than usual, as if he had been running his fingers through it again and again.  The circles under his eyes stood out in stark contrast to his fair skin.  She thought back to the peaceful summer nights and Harry’s screams in the darkness and guessed that he still wasn’t getting much sleep. Shadowed as they were, his eyes were still that sparkling, brilliant green that had captured her attention that first day at King’s Cross and had held it for the past four years.  She suddenly realized she was gaping and shook herself.

 

“Harry!  You—you startled me,” Ginny stammered, mentally cursing herself for being so lost in her daydream that she forgot Harry was on the far shore of the lake. 

 

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to frighten you.”  He stood and came very near to her.  Ginny suddenly found it very difficult to breathe properly.  If Harry noticed, he didn’t let on.  “It’s not safe for you to be walking around by yourself at night, you know,” he said in a low, strange voice. 

 

“I—I know that,” she replied.  “But it wasn’t dark when I started out, and there are usually other people around.  I guess it’s too cold for most people now, though.”  She chanced a glance up at his face and was surprised to discover that he was gazing intently into her eyes.  Ginny’s heart skipped a beat and she returned the gaze, searching his eyes keenly until he sighed and looked away.  Mind racing, Ginny opened her mouth to say something, anything—

 

“You should go inside.”  He turned his back to her and stared out over the dark water.

 

And I know it’s only in my mind

That I’m talking to myself and not to him

And although I know that he is blind

Still I say

There’s a way for us

 

The moment was broken; she had no choice but to go back to the castle.  As she walked away, it took all her willpower not to go back to him, standing alone at the edge of the lake, and tell him everything:  about the nightmares she’d been having since the tournament that had been growing increasingly worse; how Hermione really did fancy Ron, too; how worried she was about Hagrid, off gathering support from the giants; how George had written that awful Valentine in her first year.  Before reaching the castle, she had formulated a thousand different things she could have said, should have said, would have said, if only he hadn’t spoken first.

 

Once inside the castle, she ran into Colin Creevey, who was on his way from the library back to the Gryffindor common room.

 

“Ginny, have you heard? McGonagall caught Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson in a broom closet and took fifty points from Slytherin!  That puts us in the lead for House points!”  Ginny was certain that Colin gossiped more than any girl she’d ever met.  He certainly talked faster than anyone she knew, including Hermione.  “Have you finished your Charms essay?”  Ginny shook her head, knowing it was useless to try to get a word in edgewise. “Which charm did you pick?  There are so many charms with everyday uses that I just don’t know where to begin.  I suppose I could do Wingardium Leviosa, because that’s the first charm they taught us.  I remember Dennis just had the worst time learning that one…” Ginny tuned Colin out as they made their way through the castle.  She was too busy thinking about that low, strange voice Harry had used and the way he’d looked at her that had made her heart stop in her chest.  It had been such a strange encounter that Ginny replayed it in her mind all the way back up to Gryffindor Tower.

 

 

I love him, but when the night is over

He is gone; the river’s just a river

Without him, the world around me changes

The trees are bare and everywhere

The streets are full of strangers

 

I love him, but every day I’m learning

All my life, I’ve only been pretending

Without me, his world will go on turning

The world is full of happiness

That I have never known

 

Later that evening, back in Gryffindor Tower, Ginny perched in a window seat overlooking the lake.  The moon had disappeared behind the clouds, leaving the lake a black, empty void.  The lampposts had gone out, and even the fairies in their tree had all settled down and gone to sleep.  The grounds were completely dark.  She turned and surveyed the common room with a sigh.  The room was full of people, but there was no one she could really talk to.  Hermione was at the corner table with Ron and Harry, watching the twins feed poor Neville a Canary Cream.  Hermione was trying to look disapproving but failing miserably, Ron was snickering uncontrollably, and even Harry had the ghost of a smile on his usually tense and solemn face.  Suddenly Ginny realized that this was how it had always been and how it always would be:  the three of them, sometimes joined by Fred and George and perhaps even Neville, but she would always be alone, on the outside looking in, never more than Ron’s little sister or Hermione’s friend; never Ginny.  She would never be a part of his world.

 

I love him, I love him, I love him,

But only on my own.

//
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