The Sugar Quill
Author: Starsea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Only One  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The Only One

The Only One






Rating: R for Ginny's swearing




Oh, why you look so sad.

The tears are in your eyes,

Come on and talk to me now…



It hurt to see him like this. He had always been a little reserved – you would never have called him a social butterfly – but she'd seen him at other parties, laughing and joking and joining in the fun. He'd made jokes – subtle sarcastic jokes, but jokes – and he’d smiled. Yes, she remembered his smile most of all. It didn't appear often, so it was treasured by every member of the family. She wondered if he knew that – probably not. He was curiously blind to some things. He probably thought he was doing a good job of hiding his true feelings, eating his cake, sipping at his Butterbeer.


Perhaps if she hadn't known him so well…


She'd watched him for too long to think that he was happy. His eyes were shining with tears, not with laughter. He was holding himself very still. Sooner or later he would disappear… Would she dare to follow him?


It didn't do him any good to brood. Thinking the same thoughts over and over – that wasn't the way to move forward. She should know that better than anyone.


Ginny slowly tore apart a chicken leg with nimble fingers, watching as Harry took the opportunity to disappear. Why didn't he talk to someone? To Remus Lupin perhaps, gazing at him anxiously from across the garden? Not that gazing would do much good, Ginny thought dryly. You had to take the initiative with Harry. She could understand why he didn't talk to Hermione or Ron. They couldn't really understand…


What made her think that she could do something when they were helpless?


Just that… just that she knew Him. She was the only one around his age who had any sort of contact with… Voldemort. Even now a little shudder went down her spine at the name, but she was determined to overcome the fear. Sometimes she still wanted to say Tom, but that was fading now… thank Merlin…



Don't be ashamed to cry:

Let me see you through,

'Cause I've seen the dark side too…



She wandered after him, through the garden, avoiding speeding gnomes chased by Crookshanks. Laughter and talk echoed all around her, but she felt strangely apart from it all. His pain tore her away from that happy circle.


Why did he still affect her like this? Why, when she looked at him, did something inside still tremble and murmur his name? She'd learned to look into those startling eyes without blushing, without stammering. She'd lost her temper with him, chivvied him along (feeling horribly like her mother) and generally tried to keep him on an even keel during this horrible year which had just gone by. He was no longer a famous name; he was no longer the Boy Who Lived, her knight in shining armour (well, torn and dusty clothes). He was Harry, almost a brother, definitely a friend by now. And yet… and yet…


"Whenever I talk to you, he's always in the conversation," Michael had snapped. "Harry this, Harry that, it's like he's your boyfriend, not me!"


And even though Ginny had hotly denied this, it still stung, it still lingered in her mind. She'd told the others that they'd broken up over the Quidditch match, and that had been one of the reasons… just not the only one.


Had she really talked about him that much? Well, what if she had? She had been worried about him, angered that people were calling him insane and dangerous (again!), horrified by the scar she saw on his hand… Another scar – hadn't life wounded him enough? Must it continue to put its marks on him? She felt so angry when she thought of what he'd gone through, and she only knew the bare facts, mixed with some private information thanks to Ron…


He was standing just outside the garden, behind the hedge, biting his lip as he fought against his grief. His face was pale. Ginny felt a great surge of compassion mixed with anger.


"Harry," she said quietly. "What's wrong?"


He started and looked up. "Ginny!" he exclaimed, brushing at his cheeks in case any tears had escaped. His voice had not dropped suddenly, but gradually lowered itself over the last year, so that he spoke her name like a man, not the boy she had known. A sudden attack of unwelcome shyness almost strangled her tongue, but she lifted her chin, facing it down as she faced him.


"You shouldn't be ashamed to cry for him."


His eyes widened. Even in the shadows, their colour was striking. When she was younger, she'd found them almost hypnotic. Tom's eyes had been hypnotic too. She'd begun to see him in her dreams before the end… He'd always been so comforting… That thick black hair, that warm smile… He'd reminded her of Harry.


"I'm not ashamed."


"Then why are you hiding down here?"


"I'm not hiding. I just want to be alone."




"I…" He looked uncertain and gazed at the sky, fading like old jeans.


"Nobody's going to tell you off for crying," she said, daring to take a step nearer. Sometimes you had to be so careful with Harry: the wrong word or gesture and he would flee, like a wild animal. Like a stag. He looked at her, his eyes wide in the gathering twilight, shadows already tangling in his hair.


"Nobody's going to hurt you here," she whispered. "Don't you know that?"


He looked down. No, he didn't know, why should he? He'd trusted Sirius Black with the most precious thing of all, his heart, and Sirius had died. That wasn't Sirius' fault and neither was it Harry's, though he obviously blamed himself.


"I know how you feel."


"How? How can you possibly know?" he muttered, fists clenching. Anger – she wondered if he was going to explode now. She didn’t think so. He’d learned over this year – it had been a painful lesson – that it didn’t do to bottle up and then explode. The problem was, he didn’t know any other way of letting go. She had to teach him somehow... she had to show him that there was another way...


Ginny folded her arms and looked past him. "You wonder how you're ever going to trust anyone again," she said lightly, as if they were discussing a wand movement to produce a certain spell, as if they were back in the DA again. "You wonder how people can go about their daily business when you've done something so awful, when something is so wrong with the world. You wonder how people can stand to be around you. You don't think you'll ever be

the same again."


He was staring at her now, his eyes very serious. This time it was he who took the step forward, cautious but curious. "Was it that bad for you too?" he asked, surprising her. "After we came back."


She didn't answer, she simply held his gaze. His lips parted.


"Oh Ginny," he said. "You seemed so happy."


"That's what everybody wanted to see," she said, unable to keep some touch of bitterness out of her voice. It still wasn't easy to think of that year: she had gone from a sheltered child to a girl who had an understanding of the shadow which hung over her world. To be blunt, she had been mentally raped, and this boy – young man – standing in front of her had been the only thing which stood between her and death. She still felt anger at how easily she had been duped, and sometimes she could not help but mourn the loss of her innocence, the end of that starstruck yet energetic little girl.


She could feel Harry watching her with that shy yet kind gaze she remembered from their very first meeting. That was one of the things which people found surprising about Harry: his kindness. He was not egotistical (he was practically a recluse compared to Draco Malfoy). More than that, he actually cared about people. He'd cared about her enough to come into the Chamber, to try and rescue her against all the odds. He had such a big heart. And it was hurting. She had to try and heal a little of that pain. She knew how it felt to suffer alone.



When the night falls on you,

You don't know what to do,

Nothing you confess

Could make me love you less:

I'll stand by you.



"Do you still think of him?" Harry asked.


Ginny let out a breath, surprised by the question. This conversation was supposed to be about him, not her. But perhaps this would help him to open up. She certainly needed to tell someone, not just someone who would listen and offer advice like Hermione, but someone who would read between the lines. Harry had just done that.


"Sometimes," she admitted, hugging herself as they walked slowly out into the lane, under some trees. "Not as often as I used to do – but every so often he turns up."


"A bit like Snape," Harry observed.


"More like Mrs. Norris," Ginny replied, and they both laughed suddenly. They both knew that Voldemort was no laughing matter; they both knew they could have died in the Chamber of Secrets – but comparing Tom Riddle to that flea-bitten old tabby somehow made him easier to talk about.


"He always turns up just when I'm having a good time, too," Ginny said slowly. "When I'm laughing with my friends or playing Quidditch or – oh, anything that makes me smile. Suddenly I'll think 'Would I be doing this now if I hadn't met Tom? Would I be different? Would I be somewhere else?'"


"Oh," said Harry, his voice deepening with understanding, "the what ifs."


Ginny nodded, forcing herself to look at him. He didn't seem angry or sad anymore. There was a thoughtful look about him now. "I think about those too," he said. "I can't help it. I think, 'what if my parents had managed to escape? What if I'd managed to stop Wormtail from escaping? What if someone had really taken the time to investigate that ruckus at Moody's house, would Crouch have been discovered, would Cedric still be alive?’" He swallowed, and Ginny saw that Cedric was still a painful memory. Slowly, oh so slowly, she reached out and gently touched his arm. He didn't flinch or jump

in surprise.


"If I'd kept up my Occulmency lessons… if I hadn't rushed in to play the Hero again… Sirius might still be alive…" His shoulders shuddered and she knew that he was crying again. Her heart bled for him. She left her hand on his arm and said nothing. The party carried on behind them, and she thanked Merlin nobody had come to look for them. Maybe Ron was keeping everyone occupied in the hope that 'something' was happening… She smiled a little to herself and glanced at the young man weeping beside her.


Something was happening, just not the something that Ron hoped for. The story of her brother's life, really. But she knew that Ron would approve.


"What do you think you could have done?" she asked.


"I don't know," he said, lifting his face and swiping at his cheeks again. "Not looked into Snape's Pensieve for one thing… I could have thought for once instead of rushing off and trying to save the world…"


"Harry, you're not a murderer," said Ginny firmly, "and as for playing the Hero, bollocks."


I'm not letting you sink into self-pity again, Harry Potter. I'm not letting you eat yourself up. If being your friend involves getting you angry, well then, I’ll do it.  I suppose I'm qualified, I've had six elder brothers to practise on. I care about you too much to let you get lost inside yourself…


He was staring at her with those green eyes, unsure if he had heard right.




It was now or never.



So, if you're mad, get mad!

Don't hold it all inside,

Come on and come to me now.



"I think you're talking shite," Ginny said frankly. "You're talking like it's a hobby for you or something. If you were trying to save someone, it's only because you've got used to doing it by now. People have been casting you as the Hero ever since you were a baby, there's no need to beat yourself over the head for it."


Harry straightened up. Her hand was still on his arm, but they'd both forgotten that by now. His eyes were beginning to spark in that way she knew so well.


"Ginny, you don't understand…"


"Don't I? You think that it's all down to you – if you hadn't done this, then such and such might have happened. Merlin's Beard, Harry! I know that you're important, I can see that from the way Dumbledore treats you, but that doesn't mean you have total responsibility for everyone! Professor Snape had choices, just as Sirius had choices – you were important, but you can't have been the sole reason for their actions!"


He was pale again, his eyes growing dark. She didn't know if she was doing helping or hurting, she only knew that this was necessary.


"And Cedric – who's to say that Voldemort wouldn't have tried to do something anyway? If even Dumbledore couldn't see that Professor Moody was an impostor, how were you supposed to know? You weren't being arrogant or foolish when you decided to share the cup with him – you were being you."


"How would you know?!" Harry yelled, his voice echoing around the lane, tearing away from her. "You weren't there! Nobody was there! Nobody…"



And hey, what you got to hide?

I get angry too!

Well, I'm a lot like you.



"No," she said softly. "I know."


"No, you don't know! I wanted to show everyone how generous I was, I wanted Cho to see it! I wanted to make everyone see that I wasn't just some upstart little boy! I wanted to save Sirius, I wanted to show Dumbledore that it didn't matter whether he spoke to me or not, I could do things without him, he didn't matter!" He choked, and swallowed hard. "And now they're dead. I couldn't finish what I started!"


"You didn't start anything!" she yelled, fists clenching at his obstinacy. She knew that she shouldn't be yelling, but she couldn't help herself. "It was Voldemort who started it all! He's the one who went after you, not the other way around! You think you're the only one with selfish thoughts? I told myself that it was better to write in the diary because I shouldn't bother Mum with my thoughts. I told myself that Ron and the twins and Percy were too busy to listen to me. I told myself that I was being a good little girl in not bothering them, but I was wrong, Harry, I was lying to myself! I didn't tell them because I wanted to show them I wasn't a little girl anymore. I wanted them to take me seriously! I wanted people to notice me, to look up and say 'That's Ginny Weasely!' as if I was somebody… I was flattered when Tom began writing to me, if you want to know the truth! I thought, 'Finally, here's someone who sees me for me!'" She broke off before she started crying.


"You were only eleven," Harry said, reaching out and touching her arm. "How were you to know?"


"And you were only fifteen!" she retorted, looking up at him through blurred eyes. "How were you to know?"


He dug in his pockets and silently handed her a clean tissue. She blew her nose and wiped her eyes, touched once more by his instinctive kindness. Perhaps that was why she still held this small flame?


"You know what the sad thing is?" she said after a few moments of silence, like the calm after a storm.


"There are lots of sad things," he said with a slight smile, and she gave one back.


"About Tom, I mean."


He shook his head.


"He was really nice to me in the beginning. Not like he became later, nasty underneath, but just nice. Friendly. He talked to me about himself. He said that he knew what it was like to be lonely, to feel as if nobody understood you." Ginny looked at Harry, both of them realising at the same time that he was holding her arm. He didn't drop his hand. He drew her a little closer and nodded, telling her to continue.


"Do you… do you think it was all a lie? I can't believe that," Ginny whispered. "I can't believe that everything he said was a lie. Some of it sounded so… so real. So true."


Harry seemed to be thinking. "No," he said finally, his voice quiet once more, a little hoarse. "I don't think he lied to you about everything, Ginny. I'm sure that he was very lonely. And I'm sure he was telling the truth about feeling misunderstood, because he grew up in a Muggle orphanage in the 1930s, and most Muggles back then were like the Dursleys. I couldn't believe it was him, either, Ginny. He was nice to me too…"


"But how could somebody so nice be so awful?" Ginny whispered. "I still can't understand it… If Professor Dumbledore's right and it's our choices that are important, what kind of choices was he faced with? And Filch and Snape… nobody's born like that. Nobody's born miserable and twisted. What kind of circumstances formed them? What kind of choices did they make to become so bitter?" She looked up at him. "I don't want you to make those kind of choices, Harry," she said honestly. "None of us do."



When you're standing at the crossroads,

You don't know which path to choose,

Let me come along,

'Cause even if you're all wrong,

I'll stand by you.



"Me?! Ginny, what are you-?"


"You know what I mean, Harry. The way you always wander off and isolate yourself… acting as if you're ashamed of your grief… acting like there's nobody around you, when there are loads of people! Mum and Dad and Professor Lupin and the other people in the Order, and the twins, and Ron and Hermione, and… and me…" She faltered but swiftly carried on. "We all care about you! You do know that, don't you? You know that you're not alone?"


She felt a shudder pass through him and gently touched the hand clasped around her arm.


"Yeah," he said, "I know, but I… I keep forgetting. I was on my own for so long… and he's been trying to keep it that way. Every time I faced him, I've been alone…"


"You can't let him do that to you!" Ginny said forcefully, grabbing his shoulders and turning him to face her. "We may not always be there physically but we're still there! Anyway, you told me that Fawkes came and helped you in the Chamber… and Ron said something about Voldemort's victims helping you after Cedric was killed… You weren't totally alone."


Harry blinked. He seemed struck by this point of view. "No," he said slowly. "I wasn't alone. Even in the first year… my mum helped me. In a way. And in the third year, my dad helped me save Sirius from the Dementors… Which was appropriate."


"They were best friends, weren't they?"


"More than friends." Harry's eyes grew distant. "They were like brothers. Sirius missed my dad so much. I never realised until recently just… how much."


"Maybe they're together now," Ginny said softly.


Harry was silent for so long that her heart sank, but he lifted his head and said, his voice lighter, "I think you're right, Ginny. Nick said that Sirius had 'crossed over' – and if anybody would have been waiting for him, it would have been my dad. And my mum." He frowned. "Dumbledore once said something to me… about the people we love never truly leaving us. I think that means they're still around somehow. I don't know how or why – I've never seen them. I wish I could…"


"You couldn't always see Sirius, but you knew he was there," Ginny reminded him. "Maybe that's enough for them?"


"But it's not enough for me!" he said, looking full into her eyes.


The pain in them was so raw that Ginny almost winced in sympathy.


"I know," she said quietly. "But it's better than nothing, isn't it?"


He blinked at her, pondering this as she held him by the shoulders and night slowly spread over the sky above them. She could feel the warmth of his skin through the thin cotton of his T-shirt. He felt thin, almost too thin. Grief had taken as much as it could. He was not skeletal, but you could easily see the bones, especially in his face, where the cheekbones stood out sharp under his eyes, making them seem larger, even more startling.


Although Ginny knew how tough Harry was, he seemed so fragile at that moment, his bones rubbing against her palms, his large eyes still holding some tears.


"We're not going to leave you, Harry," she said slowly. "So you made mistakes – you're only human. We're not going to punish you for that. You shouldn't beat yourself up over it. Sirius wouldn't have wanted that, would he?"



I'll stand by you,

Won't let nobody hurt you,

I'll stand by you!

Take me in into your darkest hour

And I'll never desert you,

I'll stand by you…



"No," Harry said softly. Then he smiled. "Thanks Ginny."


"It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it," she said airily, stepping back.


"Do what?"


"Make you understand that you have friends. And it's not just us, Harry. The people in the DA believe you. There are a lot of people like Colin Creevey out there."


"Oh no, spare me!" said Harry dryly, making her grin.


"What I mean is… at the risk of sounding stupid, you're Harry Potter. You're the Boy Who Lived. I know that you get tired of being that, and the way the public acts towards you, it's not surprising, but for a number of people, that's it. As far as they're concerned, if you say so, then it must be true.”


Harry rolled his eyes. "Just what I need," he said. "But as long as they're willing to believe me, I suppose that's okay for now. It has to be…"


“No!” Ginny exclaimed, causing him to jump slightly. "You have to stop that. You have to stop tamely accepting the public attitude, or ignoring it. What I meant was that you have to start using that attitude. But always remember that the image is not you,” she went on softly, “and remember... some people see behind the image. Some of us didn’t need the Quibbler article, Harry. Some of us followed you before we had any proof, because we didn’t need proof. Some of us were willing to protect you, no matter what. Some of us were willing to stand by you, no matter what. Just don't forget that, Harry. Don’t forget us."


"I won't, I promise I'll try and remember," he whispered, as they gazed into each other’s eyes. Ginny felt goosebumps crawl over her flesh at the intensity of his gaze, and smiled.


"You could always write it down in Hermione's Christmas present," she suggested mischievously.


"I think I deliberately lost that somewhere in my luggage… suppose I'll have to dig it out now you've said that."


"You don't have to do anything."


"Yes, I do, lots of things." He looked sad again. "Ginny… you know the Prophecy?"


"Just that Voldemort was trying to get it, nothing else. It's something to do with you, isn't it?"



And when - when the night falls on you, baby,

You're feeling all alone,

You won't be on your own,

I'll stand by you.





"You don't have to tell me now. You don't have to do anything now. You can take your time."


Night had fallen and they stood in shadow.




The wand's light showed clearly the darkness in Harry's eyes, but he seemed calmer and more relaxed. He stared at the wand. "If it wasn't for this wand, Voldemort would have killed me in the cemetery," he said casually.


Ginny didn't know quite what to say to that. "Why?"


"It's got a phoenix feather in its core – like Voldemort's. The feathers are from the same phoenix. The wands are sisters… they can't be forced to fight."


Ginny stared at the wand. They were so powerful and yet they often seemed so ordinary. "Well, wands are supposed to choose the wizard," she suggested. "Even your wand protected you!"


Harry turned it over in his hands. "Yeah, you're right… Scary thought."




"That it wanted to protect me… as if it knew."


"I wouldn't go that far!"


They laughed a little.


"There you are."


Both of them jumped, and Ginny stumbled into Harry, who caught her by the shoulders to make sure that she didn't fall down. Professor Lupin stood beside the garden gate.


"Molly was worried, so I said that I'd check on you," he said calmly. "Interesting discussion?" He directed the question to Harry, but Ginny could feel him watching her.


"Yeah, thanks Remus," Harry answered. "Ginny was just making sure I didn't sulk… and giving me some things to think about." He smiled at her.


"Good for Ginny," Professor Lupin answered. Ginny looked up and their eyes met for an instant. She went cold in shock. Had he deliberately left the way open for her? Impossible to ask, now or later. Remus Lupin really could be a mystery man sometimes.


"The twins are going to be showing off some new merchandise, I suggest you get back quickly if you don't want to be their puffskeins." He smiled at them and wandered back inside the garden.


"See?" she asked him.


"I know, I know…" But he was smiling.


"I thought that since I understood a little bit…" Why did she feel the need to prolong the conversation?


"You helped. A lot. Thanks." The words were awkward, but she knew they were sincere. They both realised that he was still holding her and stepped back, smiling awkwardly. Ginny found that her heart was beating faster.


Oh no… Ginny Weasely, don't you dare-!


"Well, better get back, I suppose," she said, trying to make him do something, anything rather than stare at her. Why was he looking at her like that? His eyes were wandering over her face, really looking at her. It was the way Dean looked when he sketched her… Except that Harry didn't draw.


Slowly that wonderful rare smile spread over his face, lighting up his eyes in the wandlight so that they glowed emerald against the white skin and black hair. She felt something inside her lurch.


"Dean's a lucky guy, Ginny," he said, then turned and walked to the gate.


Ginny Weasely stood in the dark, hugging herself, cheeks burning from what he had just said.


Harry paused at the gate and turned. "Are you coming?" he asked.


She opened her mouth, about to say no.




She ran forward and they went in together.


There was only one word in Ginny Weasley's mind.





DISCLAIMER: The wonderful world of Harry Potter and all its characters and animals(!) belong to J.K. Rowling. Please go and ask her about why the hell Sirius had to die. Thank you. The song I’ll Stand By You belongs to The Pretenders. I suggest that you listen to it whilst reading the song.




Bollocks = British slang for 'balls', a rude but not really horrible

way of saying 'rubbish'


Shite = shit with an Irish accent



AUTHOR'S NOTES: Ta-da! This is a continuation from 'Filling in the Gap', but it stands alone pretty much, apart from Harry's usage of 'Remus'. That does tie back. Other inspiration came from Max Zook's refreshing story 'Harry Potter Talks To Women' on . The story's in the title, but don't be fooled. Many thanks to Megan, my beta, for giving me praise and generally being wonderful, and everyone who has reviewed my filks and Destination Unknown.


I'm not sure if this is a Harry/Ginny story or not. I wanted to write a fic with both of them interacting, but nothing too unrealistic or mushy (though I love romantic fics, smutty ones too!). Ginny seems to be one of the few people in OotP who can break Harry out of his doldrums, which is very important, so I wanted to run with that. Not to mention this song kinda screamed out to me to be used in connection with Harry and Ginny. Though you could equally use it for Sirius/Remus I think… Even if these two never get together, I hope that they'll become good friends. I hope that the Professor who liked my previous work will like this too, it was such a shock to see myself on the Professors’ Bookshelf! As always, read and review!


Starsea xxx

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