The Sugar Quill
Author: eca celli  Story: Enduring  Chapter: Prologue: Midnight Interlude
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Prologue

Disclaimer: All the characters and such belong to JK Rowling. I can’t wait for the day when all this speculation will become null and void and her brilliancy will be revealed…until then, I’m just playing so don’t sue me.

Prologue

She tugged at the hem of her dressing gown idly, glancing, at intervals, to the door of the boy’s dormitories from her delicate perch atop a common room armrest.  He should be down any minute now. She smiled inwardly. He would be down any minute just to see her.

She allowed herself to reminisce in her boredom, thinking over the past few months. Reviewing selective memories, though it was hard to differentiate the horrible from the great. They were often one and the same.  She remembered the first time she had seen Harry after he had endured a whole summer with the Dursleys, the death of Cedric and his own misery besides.  She remembered the first few conversations they had had--the first real conversations and how, over the slow and steady passage of time they had built, carefully but surely, between them a strong and irreplaceable bond. She remembered the first time that she and Harry had found themselves suddenly facing head on the feelings that had been hanging between to them for months, that many moments strung together in rapid and meaningful succession that were the culmination of so much waiting, so much endurance, so much invested emotion, time and energy and yet the remembrance was ever so bittersweet. The fights had been ferocious. He didn’t want to hurt her, he said. He didn’t want to drag her into danger. It was just too risky, he said. But she persuaded him. She could always persuade him and now she was waiting to see her boyfriend, to really see him, in the first time in days.

She sighed suddenly. What had been meant as a happy reverie had turned into painful memories—the dream had turned to the reality of the day.  It was horrible, this situation. And she didn’t want to dwell on it too much. He needed it to be like this and for him she would endure the stress of a secret relationship. She knew him and she would be patient with him but that didn’t mean it was easy, nor did it imply that she was happy with the current state of affairs. Not that she had much choice in the matter. Not that any of them had much choice in the matter.  She should really stop being so nostalgic. It never did her any good to dwell on things like that.

She turned her mind toward a green-eyed boy who would soon descend the stairs and away from everything else. These paths she had been treading would lead her nowhere new.  If she just thought of him and only him, she might be all right. She smiled again. Those thoughts she liked.

She heard more than saw the dormitory door open and heard more than saw nobody enter. She kicked the air where she was sure he stood playfully, meeting what she theorized was his shin, hearing a muffled yelp of pain in response.

“Why do you wear that thing?!” She teased, grinning in spite of herself.

“So we don’t get caught, you know that!” the empty space before her whispered in a tone indicating paranoid urgency.

“Oh yes, Harry. It looks oh-so-normal for me to be down here in the middle of the night, whispering sweet nothings to the no one.” She smirked at Harry’s snort of suppressed laughter but continued in a satirical tone. “Yes. I know why. But I hate not being able to see you, you know that. And last time won’t happen again. Nobody is up at this hour on a Thursday” she suppressed a wild giggle at the memory. “Anyway, you got the cloak over us in time, didn’t you?” she paused just long enough to shoot a pleading look in his direction, putting the puppy dog eyes she had practiced so often throughout the years to good work and coating her voice in exaggerated gooey sweetness. “Can you take it off now?”

A laughing mass of messy black hair was revealed. “You’ve persuaded me.” He was grinning still as he took her in his arms and hugged her tight. “Hi.” He whispered in her ear, his breath on her skin causing her hair to stand on end.

“Hi.” She mumbled into his shoulder. She rather liked standing like this.

He pulled back, much to her disappointment, gleeful mischief glowing in his eyes. Ginny’s heart leapt. Seeing any sort of light in his eyes was such a seldom occurrence lately that she was willing to forgive him the premature end of a hug. “So you don’t like the invisibility cloak?” A dangerous smirk played at the corners of his mouth. “Not much for mystery are you? I’ll have to make note of that…”

She swatted him, “You’re terrible!” She paused, a twisted, twin-like humor suddenly possessing her. She stood on her tip-toes and whispered in his ear, “No, it’s not that. I just don’t trust you.” She waggled her eyebrows, “I know the ways of a man’s mind. Have to keep track of you, you know.” He snorted back a bark of laughter, and, wrapping his arms around her once again, began a trail of kisses down her neck.  She melted into him. “This is what I’m talking about.” She tried to chastise, but soon forgot the endeavor, having just been pulled into a full, deep kiss.  She hummed a sound of bliss as they swayed gently back and forth in the spot where they stood, even after the kiss was over.

 They remained this way for a while. Just rocking back and forth, merely living in the moment. And it was nothing short of ecstasy for her, to just remain in his arms like this. But reality kept intruding upon her happy thoughts and she had to ruin it. She had been fretting silently for days, driving herself insane without news of his well-being and she was hungry for information.

“What’s the news then?” She immediately felt his body stiffen and she nearly regretted ever bringing it up. She had to know, though. The times were so volatile and she had to know, even if it meant sacrificing a bit of joy for them both.

He laughed, a false laugh that chilled her through and through. She hated that laugh. No one this young should know how to laugh like that. “Trelawney predicted my death again.  I told her off and she about blew.” He tried to shrug it off with a light chuckle but she wouldn’t buy it. He was terrible at lying. It was really quite pathetic that he actually believed he could pull this over on her.  She knew he was trying to skirt the subject, that he didn’t want to talk about what was really bothering him. And Trelawney had nothing to do with it. “Seriously, Harry. I need to know. Tell me.”

Her brown eyes drove into his, willing him to speak. He marveled at the effect she had on him. She could make him do anything. He sighed. The weight of the world seemed to be bearing down on his chest. He might as well tell her. She ought to know. “My scar.” He said with a sort of dry resignation. “It’s been hurting quite a bit more lately.”

Her pale eyebrows knit together in concern, but her face remained calm. She was incredibly brave. She took everything in stride, seemed able to manage anything that came her way. She was a very strong young woman and her undying courage never ceased to stir in him an awesome sort of admiration.

“What do you think this means?” She asked, an earnest anxiety evident in her even voice. Ever since the end of the fateful Tri-Wizard tournament, Harry was nearly never without the ache in his scar that indicated Voldemort’s wrath and the sudden increase in this pain was an extremely bad sign.

He shrugged. “I don’t really want to think about it.” He fell back onto the sofa, suddenly very weary. Thinking of these things had a tendency to do that to him.

She sat down beside him, reaching a finger up to his face and gently tracing his scar, “Does it hurt now?”

“No. Not really.” He hesitated, “I…I…it’s better when you’re around.” She stopped tracing his scar and he reached up and grabbed her hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “I’m sorry, Gin.” He knew he didn’t need to explain what for. She’d understand. He paused, looking at her. She was beautiful. She really was. She never ceased to amaze him. He didn’t deserve her. He didn’t know why she kept him, honestly. It was a miracle really that she put up with him. And he didn’t want to jeopardize her safety. He didn’t want to endanger her, as he had so many others that he cared about. The result was a situation that was never ideal and always a bother. “It’ll be okay.” He whispered to her, all the while praying that what he said was true.

She snuggled up against him, leaning her head against his knee. “I hope so.”

It was comfortable like this. In these moments she could almost convince herself that everything was okay. And he could almost convince himself of the same thing, having her next to him. They didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say when everything was just understood.

He looked down at her, and noticed that her eyelids were fast dropping with drowsiness, a strand of hair falling across her face innocently. He smiled at the serene look upon her face and gently tucked the stray strand of brilliant hair up behind her ear. Then, not wanting to lose the comfort of touch, he cautiously rubbed her back in the soothing way that he had seen mothers due in movies. The way that he had wished someone would have done for him when he was younger, sleeping in the cupboard, and afraid.

She fell asleep there, cuddled up beside him, his hand stroking her back comfortingly.

He left later, extricating himself carefully so as not to disturb her, stealing off to the dormitory and, hopefully, at least an hour of nightmare-less sleep. But he didn’t climb the stairs until at least having one glance over his shoulder, making sure she was still in the peaceful lull of sleep.

         When she woke to the weak light of dawn, he was no longer there.  She sat up, groggily rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She felt the empty spot next to her and her heart ached a bit. He was there just last night. But now the dream was gone and the world had come back. They were just friends again. Very good friends, she thought with a knowing smile.

//
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