A Forest Encounter
Ginny kicked the ground miserably, and watched the dirt
swirl up from the ground. It almost looked pretty in the shaft of light that
shone through a gap in the trees, like small flecks of fairy dust. She,
however, scowled, screwing up her forehead and wrinkling her nose – she wasn’t
in the mood for admiring anything, let alone a bunch of dirt.
She took a deep breath, inhaling the earthy, musty smell of
the forest. Birds in the trees above twittered softly, and every so often a
bush would shudder or a twig on the ground would crack. Ginny wasn’t scared,
though. She knew this forest well, she knew the creatures that lived there, she
could sense the Thestrals and was wary of the Kneazles. She knew the
Forbidden Forest was out of bounds, but she’d been coming here ever since her
very first year at Hogwarts. She’d been to Hagrid’s hut one day early on in
that year, scouting around for any sign of Harry, and the tall, dense mass of
trees had aroused her curiosity once she’d left. It started off with just
walking around the perimeter of the forest, and she gradually explored further
and further. She’d only once or twice had a close call – the Centaurs had
become more violent since last year, her fourth year, and an encounter with
Bane the other day hadn’t exactly been amicable, she’d only just escaped by
throwing a couple of haphazard Stupefying charms. Then there’d been the
Bugbear incident...she daren’t even think about that one.
The Forest had always been her place of refuge when things
got too much. There was a quaint little lake to the far left of the Forest
which Ginny liked to consider it ‘her place’. She’d told the trees her most
intimate secrets. Sitting and pouring her heart out into the silence when
everything was going wrong was almost like a therapy – and it was the closest
thing she could get to the companionship Tom had given her.
When she reached the lake she sat down with a groan.
“I thought it was over.”
There was a very pregnant paused, she almost expected
someone to answer. She drew her legs up towards her, wrapping her arms around
them and resting her chin on her knees.
“I thought it had changed. I thought I had changed. I
didn’t think I was that person anymore...timid, shy, afraid-of-her-own-shadow
Ginny. Oh I don’t know...I suppose I’m not that bad...but spending the
summer away from him...and seeing him with...with that girl last
year...I tried to fight it, I really did, I tried to be firm with myself,
telling myself that it was over...but it’s no good.”
She heard another crack from the Forest floor behind her,
but a furtive glance told her there was no danger. She sighed loudly again.
“Oh, Harry Potter. Stupid, stupid Harry Potter.” Ginny
growled angrily, frustrated at herself, frustrated at her situation.
A voice coming from behind her caused Ginny to whip her wand
out and scramble to her feet as fast as lightening. She felt positively sick
when she realised it was – him.
“Harry...” she whispered, swallowing hard and blushing to
the roots of her hair. “What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” Ginny thought she saw a
smile dancing on the corner of his lips. “The Forest is out of bounds you
know...I saw a red-headed someone go into the Forest from the castle, and I
thought I’d come down and investigate...”
“I-I-I like to come here sometimes when I need to, you know,
think about...stuff.” Ginny took a large interest in staring at the scuffed
toes of her shoes to avoid Harry’s gaze. There was a long, uncomfortable
“I heard you talking, just then. I’m sorry I didn’t say
anything sooner, but I had to know that you were talking about me.”
Ginny looked up and eyed Harry with a mixture of
apprehension and curiousness.
“Because...” Harry began, taking two steps closer to Ginny
so no more than a few inches separated them. He grinned bashfully. “I dunno. I
just wanted to know, that’s all.”
The smile was infectious. Ginny grinned back broadly, and
teased “oh come on...surely the famous Harry Potter isn’t lost for words?”
Harry arched an eyebrow and smirked. “No...I just...”
His face fell slightly. His smile was softer now, almost
more tender. Ginny wouldn’t let herself see it, though. She wouldn’t let
herself get her hopes up, set herself up for another heartbreak. The silence
was awkward again, and Ginny watched a couple of Calabberts hop around by the
“Ginny, look at me.”
She immediately did as instructed, letting herself become
mesmerised in his piercing green eyes.
“I-I think I really like you,” Harry blurted quickly,
turning a vibrant shade of red but nevertheless holding Ginny’s gaze.
Ginny’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened, she opened her
mouth a few times strongly resembling a goldfish, and when she was composed
enough to speak it was only to shakily utter “really?”
“Of course really, Ginny. Yeah, really. I just...I dunno,
you’ve changed so much this last year, and with what happened at the
Ministry...and Sirius...” Harry shivered and shut his eyes briefly. “You’re
like a different person now. A person that I admire and trust...a person that I
really, really like. You’re not Ron’s little sister to me anymore. You’re Ginny.
And you’re amazing.”
Ginny noticed she had goosebumps all over her body when
Harry had finished speaking. She didn’t know what to say back, so she didn’t.
She took another step closer to Harry, closing the gap between them. Gently
cupping his chin with her hand, she looked longingly into his eyes for a few
seconds. He slipped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to him, and
she rested her head gently on his shoulder and let out a very shaky breath.
Her mind was racing questions, what now? What does this
mean? What’ll Ron say? Ginny only knew one thing for sure. This was the
best trip she’d had to the Forest since – forever.