A/N Though this story is written in linear time, the events aren't consecutive
- basically I jump time a bit between "scenes".
Secondly, I recently read the story "Harry's Birthday Present" by mioneatheart
-and I liked the idea of Harry having a hand on the Weasley's clock so much
that - I nicked it. I hope she doesn't mind!
And lastly, I hope you enjoy this story.
Backbeat, the word is on the street
That the fire in your heart is out
I'm sure you've heard it all before
But you never really had a doubt
I don't believe that anybody
Feels the way I do, about you now
And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I
Would like to say to you
But I don't know how
The thunderstorm continued raging outside. Low, scowling
rumbles preceded jagged, precise cracks of lightening that briefly illuminated
the night sky every few seconds.
Harry watched the lightening without much interest, rubbed
his scar wearily out of habit, and rubbed the last of the sleep out of
his eyes. Looking out into the black night - it wasn't too difficult to
imagine that somewhere out there was him, and he couldn't stop
himself from thinking it.
The Weasley's house was different at night; like the
family, it seemed to sleep. There were noises, of course; from the moving
photographs, the clink of restless cutlery in the drawers, ticking clocks.
Even in the middle of night it wasn't still. But it was quieter. And Harry
had found that he could be calm and think at night, alone, and quiet.
Though really, thinking was only marginally better than
the nightmares. The same questions had crawled around in Harry's head
all summer, and he'd been over them again and again, in varying tones
of anger, despondency and calmness; he'd reasoned with himself, and he'd
even tried to find answers. How long before a poisonous green skull with
a snake slithering from its mouth replaced the lightening in the sky?
And, when it came, did he really have any chance? Wasn't everyone just
fooling themselves? He wasn't even sixteen - he had only just mastered
a Summoning Spell properly.
It was becoming increasingly difficult not to think about
it, though Harry certainly never thought of asking these questions out
loud in front of others. How could he, when faced with mental images of
Dumbledore's wise but grave countenance, the tight, set look on Snape's
face when he'd walked out of the hospital wing at the end of last term,
and the Weasley's fierce resolution and loyalty to one another. It seemed
pointless too, but more than that, selfish.
He should go back to bed, and attempt some sort of rest
until the morning. He ought to go back to bed, especially before
Mrs. Weasley, or someone, heard him and came downstairs to see if he was
all right... Dear Mrs. Weasley, so kind and concerned, had already caught
him up three times this week and, though Harry was sure she had no intention
of judging him, obviously thought he needed his sleep more than ever and
ought to try and get it.
He tired himself out playing Quidditch mostly during
the day. It was amazing how, up in the air, nothing seemed quite so impossible.
Nothing seemed real, either, but that was the best part. Flying took him
away from everything. Yesterday, after a particularly exhilarating game
of Quidditch, he'd found himself thinking with some dark humour that it
would be all right if only the battle against Voldemort could be a Quidditch
The sound of footsteps on the stairs interrupted Harry's
thoughts; startling him and making him turn quickly. A moment later, a
pale figure in a nightgown appeared in the doorway, visibly stopping at
the sight of him.
"Oh! I - er - I really -,"
"S' okay, Ginny," said Harry. Ginny, who had before looked
uncertain whether to venture any further, entered the kitchen.
"I couldn't sleep, and I saw the light on," she explained.
"I thought it was mum, making hot chocolate." Ginny looked slightly odd,
all in white - Harry might have compared her to sort of ghost, were it
not for the mass of untamed, sleep-tousled bright red hair falling about
her head (and a slight flush which had just appeared in her cheeks). She
glanced out of the window almost involuntarily, and shuddered. "I hate
thunderstorms," Harry heard her mutter.
"Want some?" he asked, indicating the mug of hot chocolate
in his hand.
"Please," Ginny nodded and smiled. "I'd make it myself,
only it'd taste terrible. Can't seem to get the hang of it..."
"No problem," said Harry. He got up, glad for something
to do. Glad, and a little surprised, that she didn't seem about to ask
him if he couldn't sleep - a question he'd been asked too many times lately.
"Thanks," said Ginny, as he put a full mug down in front
of her. But she didn't drink any, fiddling instead with the little teaspoon
in the mug.
"It's been a long summer, hasn't it?" she said.
"Yeah. It has," agreed Harry. Ginny seemed to hesitate
over something for a moment, and Harry looked up to catch an expression
of awkwardness pass over her face for an instant.
"I'm glad we're going back to school soon, anyway," said
Ginny, finally. "I think...I think it'll be easier to be sensible with
Dumbledore, and lessons - and Professor McGonagall, having a go at Fred
and George -"
They exchanged a grin. Ginny's expression had shifted
- it was now steady, with hardly any hesitance remaining, and her eyes
were flashing. " - I mean, it's easy to lose sight of things when you're
away from what you're used to, isn't it, and you've only got this -" she
indicated an issue of the Daily Prophet lying on the table " - to go on
for what's happening - and everything's...strange."
Having finished this deliverance, Ginny took a sip of
hot chocolate. Harry felt like applauding. Tonight was the first time
he'd spoken properly to Ginny all summer and right now, he didn't know
what feelings Ginny harboured towards him. He didn't know, really, how
she felt about Voldemort's return (after all, he wasn't the only one in
the kitchen to have encountered the Dark Lord); and he didn't know, either,
exactly how much she had changed since that time, in her first year at
Hogwarts. But her words were very wise and comforting, and he clung to
them for a moment in spite of himself.
A sharp rapping at the window brought their attention
suddenly to a very wet, frantic-looking owl hovering outside.
"Oh!" cried Ginny, jumping up. Unlatching the window,
she grabbed the owl skilfully, lifting it inside, and then deposited it
unceremoniously beside the kitchen sink. "It's a ministry owl, I think,"
she told Harry, as she detached a small, flat brown package from the owl's
Harry took the owl, and put it alongside a sleeping Errol
in the hanging cage. He was really, really hoping that he didn't need
to ask the question already forming on his lips.
"Is...everything all right?" he asked. To his surprise
and relief, a mirthful laugh was his reply. Ginny had just unrolled the
brown paper to disclose...
"A sugarquill?" said Harry.
"Oh, it's nothing...it's just, well -" Ginny chuckled
again. "Bill used to play this stupid game with me, when I was little.
What he'd do, is he'd hide, and leave a load of these sugarquills around
the house - so each one pointed to where the next one was - leading to
his hiding place. And I had to follow them, and find where he was," she
finished. A sort of glow seemed to have taken Ginny over, and she showed
Harry the sugarquill with shining eyes. "I suppose it's his way of telling
me he's all right. Bill hates writing letters."
Harry nodded, and found himself grinning as he looked
at her. Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie and Percy had all been away from home
for the past week, on "Ministry Business" (though the whole family knew
that what was left of the Ministry was in extreme disorder at the moment).
"Wait a minute, there is letter," he said, suddenly noticing a piece of
parchment rolled up among the discarded brown paper.
"Really?" said Ginny, looking up. "Oh, just as I thought.
The letter's from dad," she explained, taking up the parchment. "To mum.
I'll just leave it here for her to read in the morning."
These words, and the yawn that accompanied them, seemed
to remind Ginny that it was the middle of the night.
"Yeah, I was gonna go up in a minute," said Harry, taking
his cue. Ginny nodded.
"Better put that to rights," she said, looking at the
kitchen clock, two hands of which were not pointing to 'Bed'. She downed
the rest of her hot chocolate, then turned to him. "Goodnight, Harry,"
she said. The sugarquill was still clutched in her hand, and she still
appeared to be glowing quietly.
Harry wasn't sure whether to thank her, for what she'd
said earlier - because, whether she'd known it or not, it had been a nice
gesture, and it had helped. So it should have been easy to say 'thank
you'. Somehow, though, he couldn't say it.
"Oh," Ginny looked down at the small quill in her hand.
"Present," she said, handing it to him. "No - seriously - I don't want
it. Ron's got a 'secret' hoard in his bedroom, and I just help myself
when I want. I'd tell you where it is, but it's classified information,
"Thank you," said Harry.
Ginny turned and walked towards the door. At the door,
however, she stopped abruptly, as if having just thought of something.
She turned to him again. "And Harry - I know I said that I couldn't make
drinkable hot chocolate - but, as a friend, I think I should tell you...yours
isn't much better."
Harry caught the small grin on her face, and then she
was gone. He stood, stunned for a second, before a grin broke over his
own face. He washed up the two mugs quickly, before going up to bed. On
the way out of the kitchen, he too glanced at the clock, his eye lingering
particularly over his "own" hand. It had been a birthday present from
the Weasleys, arriving via Hedwig on the early hours of July 31st
along with a touching, explanatory note from the family. Currently, the
hand was pointing to "dawdling." Harry smiled again, then went to bed.
Ginny was enjoying sitting in the common room, with its fire and its
atmosphere, and above all, the pointless chatter of her own friends.
"I'm telling you, it's true! Auras are what make
people attracted to each other," Peg was declaring, looking comically
ardent with wide eyes and her short hair sticking up in two high bunches.
"Yeah, er - Peg - you shouldn't take Professor Trelawney
too seriously, you know..." said Hester, sensible and cynical as
"Okay, then little Miss. Sceptical - Ginny, what
do you think?"
Usually, gossiping on the subject of love in any
shape or form would irk Ginny no end - as the only girl in a family with
six brothers, there was only so much room for the romantic soul. (That
was the reason she gave herself for the annoyance, anyway). But tonight,
the conversation was comfortingly familiar. And Ginny had an idea what
her own line was.
"All right, children; play nicely, or I'll be forced to hex you both,"
she said, smilingly.
"Oi, Ginny, have you seen Harry anywhere?" Ron's voice
broke through the chatter, and Ginny looked up to see Ron and Hermione
making their way across the room, apparently returning from dinner. From
the slightly disgruntled look on Hermione's face, Ginny guessed that the
two were in the middle of one of their "discussions" (these started as
some trivial disagreement and then generally progressed from there into
something that could be heard from the other side of the school).
"Not since this morning," said Ginny, feeling the little
stab of annoyance that she always did when one of her brothers spoke to
her as if she was - well, a house elf, or something.
"Oh, great, he's gone off on one again." Ron was
fuming from the armchairs where he and Hermione had sat down. "That's
the third time this week. Where does he go?"
"Well, I don't see why you're asking me," Ginny
heard Hermione say, cuttingly. "After all, I'm just a girl;
I don't come into your delicate male matters. I probably wouldn't understand
anyway..." She was evidently still angry with Ron over what they'd been
talking about before. Ron himself had got up and was restlessly pacing
up and down.
"Oh, not that now, please," he implored, half angrily.
"I'm sorry about that, you know I am, and I didn't mean it, and I know
you're clever, so forget I ever said it!" he said, all in one breath.
"Look, what about Harry?"
"Ron, I'm worried about Harry too, but...but he can take
care of himself," said Hermione, quietly. Ron's bumbling apology had satisfied
her, it seemed, and she laid a hand on his arm as she spoke, to comfort
him, or calm him down maybe; Ginny didn't know which.
"We've always done everything together."
"I just wish he'd talk to me," Ginny heard
Ron say, as he finally flopped into the armchair in frustration.
At this, part of Ginny was suddenly overwhelmed with
the urge to shout at Ron not to be so selfish; to tell him that Harry
was nobody's property, and was entitled to some time to himself; and how
easy did he think it was, just to 'talk' to anyone after
Only, Ron wasn't anyone, was he? He was Harry's best
friend. And Ginny had to admit to herself that, at the same time, the
other half of her was inclined to act exactly as her brother had done.
She had a sudden vision of herself dropping everything at Ron's remarks,
running outside, and looking everywhere that Harry might be, before finding
him and pulling the old, "Why, Harry, what a surprise to see you here..."
(blush, stammer, stammer)
It was a comical thought, Ginny reflected; and one that
she didn't find very funny. She was extremely conscious of the fact that
her twelve-year-old self might just have done it. No - there was no 'might'
about it. A couple of years back, and she would be out there already,
telling her friends that she wanted to get some air and needed a sudden
A raucous laugh from Peg roused Ginny very quickly, jerking
her back into the present.
"Okay, okay, so...if your aura's sort of turquoise, Hess,
and...hmm, let's see...I think that Ravenclaw prefect's is kind of yellow..."
Peg was saying, making Hester blush bright red with her latter statement.
"Turquoise and yellow...well, it's obvious, isn't it? They clash horribly!"
"Oh, stop talking rubbish, Peg," said Ginny, half-enthusiastically,
trying to pretend she'd been listening all along. Peg was giggling uncontrollably,
while Hester looked as if her face was about to burst into flames.
Ginny couldn't help glancing over to where Ron and Hermione
were sitting. The noise of the common room filling up as people returned
from dinner meant she couldn't hear what they were saying, and in any
case it looked as though they were speaking very quietly; but Ron's voice
from earlier came back to her:
"I just wish he'd talk to me"
She had given up on wishing it would be her that
Harry would talk to. But she did wish he would talk; part of her hoping
in the same way as a child hoped that it would fix everything if only
he could pour his heart out. Ginny knew it was impossible. And, since
returning to Hogwarts, she had noticed that Harry had not been
spending as much time with Ron and Hermione as usual. "Noticed" was an
understatement actually; she'd noticed it and pondered it and had worried
Ginny often saw him wandering back to the castle on his
own from somewhere or other, and sometimes, she caught him with an expression
of concentrated blankness on his face that disconcerted her greatly. Had
Peg seen him, Ginny didn't doubt what colour his aura would be pronounced;
for a dark grey, it seemed to her, would envelope Harry completely on
It did worry her. It worried her because she cared and,
it seemed to Ginny that it was more important he knew people cared than
ever. And, of course, it worried her how much she cared. Somewhere inside
her, a slightly younger Ginny Weasley was still asking why everyone else
didn't feel inclined to act stupidly when it came down to Harry; and what
it mean that they didn't.
Slightly older Ginny wondered why she was still asking
these questions when she knew she had no claims whatsoever on Harry. If
he didn't want to talk to Ron, his best friend, then -
For a moment Ginny was unsure who had spoken to her.
She glanced about her to see a Sixth Year Prefect standing at her shoulder.
"Yes?" she said.
"Message from Professor McGonagall: she wants to see
you in her office tomorrow morning after breakfast. Oh, and -" The girl,
who had been about to go, had an afterthought. "If you see Harry Potter,
tell him the same, please. I can't find him." With that, the Prefect walked
away before Ginny had a chance to fully register what she'd said, or ask
her the reason.
There was a good view from here. Harry had grown up in
the Muggle world; and had found a home in the Wizarding one; but he couldn't
help but wonder when he was here, if there was another, completely different
world, where humans weren't significant at all. From here, all you could
see was lake, tree, and lots of sky.
It was just at the edge of the Forbidden Forest;
a group of large rocks, shielded by trees from the view of the castle.
It was nice. It was a good place to be alone, or forget that anyone, including
It must work both ways, too, which was why Harry hadn't
mentioned it to anyone. Part of the sense of solidarity he felt here probably
stemmed from the fact that nobody knew he was here. He knew that any other
place probably would have done just as well.
The sun had set now, and the clouds were pink, darkened
with the approaching evening's greyish blue. It occurred to Harry vaguely
that he must have missed dinner, and Ron and Hermione would be worrying;
probably sitting in Gryffindor Tower by the fire. Whenever they asked
him where he'd been, Harry always simply said he'd gone for a walk. Then
he'd pretend not to notice them exchanging glances.
He began to make his way back to the castle, across
the sweeping lawn, back to his common room.
"Hey, Potter!" Standing outside Gryffindor Tower,
ready to give the Fat Lady the password, Harry's attention was hailed
by a passing Gryffindor Prefect. "Professor McGonagall wants to see you
in her office tomorrow morning," the Prefect said, shortly.
"Well? I haven't got all night!" called the Fat Lady
snappishly, from inside her portrait. The Prefect had already walked away.
Harry couldn't help feeling his stomach drop as he saw
a grave looking Professor Dumbledore standing in the office alongside
"Good morning, Potter," said Professor McGonagall,
as briskly as usual. "Sit down, please, while we wait for Miss. Weasley."
Ginny? Thought Harry. Concern was beginning
to claw up his spine in spite of himself.
"Professor McGonagall, Professor Dumbledore - nothing's
happened, has it?" he asked quickly, still standing. Having asked it,
he realised what a stupid question it'd been to ask, knowing that Voldemort
had risen once again and the world was already beginning to see the effects
of it. But he needed to hear the answer all the same.
"No, Harry. We -" Professor Dumbledore only got this
far before the door of the office clicked open, and Ginny Weasley entered
"Sit down, Miss. Weasley," said Dumbledore kindly.
Harry too sat down as Ginny took the chair indicated her, exchanging a
nervous glance with him as she did so.
"We have not called you in here to report bad news,"
continued Dumbledore, swiftly. "Getting straight to the point, if you'll
excuse me, the reason is this: Professor McGonagall and I have a favour
to ask of the two of you, which I would much rather prefer not to have
to ask. However, thus it is, and so..."
"You will not have forgotten that, three years ago,
the two of you were involved in a confrontation with Lord Voldemort -
or, Tom Riddle, as he called his former self," said Dumbledore, solemnly.
Professor McGonagall spoke next. "What we're asking you
to do, Potter, Weasley, is to try and think back to that time and recall,
if you are able, any information that you think may be able to help us
now," she said. Her usual brisk, no-nonsense expression and tone appeared
to waver for a moment, as she added,
"You should know that what we are asking of you is also
on behalf of all the wizards and witches who are trying very hard to find
ways to work against Lord Voldemort and are attempting to reverse the
damage which is already being imparted at his hands."
"Any detail of behaviour, or any words, which you
can recall which might give us some clue as to his current whereabouts
or the way in which he intends to work, would be extremely useful to us,"
Dumbledore continued. "I must stress, once again, how much I wish I did
not have to ask you to do this; but you are young adults now, and I am
not afraid to ask you to rise to any difficult or unpleasant task that
needs to be performed." This said, Dumbledore turned to Ginny.
"Miss. Weasley, I understand that you were communicating
with Tom Riddle for a period of time, and you must know that this is what
makes anything you can tell us invaluable," he said.
"As for you, Harry, I have already asked much of
you; and I know that this will not be the last thing. I took the liberty
of using an Indelibus charm when you accounted for me your encounter with
Voldemort last term - this recorded your voice, so to speak. But when
you confronted Voldemort three years ago as the ghost of his younger self,
I believe his actions and words as a young man may have unwittingly betrayed
"I thank you both," said Dumbledore, finally.
Harry and Ginny stood up. This had been unexpected,
and Harry, though relieved it had not been bad news, found he was trembling
slightly. He'd known the war had started, of course he'd known, but it
was the first time Dumbledore had spoken of it like this. During the summer,
they'd been living off little bits of information from Mr. Weasley, at
the Ministry, and Daily Prophet headlines. Being asked to do something
to help fight the war against Voldemort, however small it seemed - well,
it made it real.
Harry found himself outside the office, facing Ginny,
who looked as though she felt very much like he did.
"Come for a walk?" he asked her. She nodded. They
didn't speak again until, having wound down stairs, and stepped up them,
walked lengths of corridors, and through doors in silence; they were outside.
It was chilly outside, but Harry doubted that was
the reason Ginny looked so pale.
"I suppose - I suppose it could've been worse," she
said, very quietly, as the two of them walked briskly towards nowhere.
Looking at her, Harry was suddenly reminded of the moment that he'd seen
her lying in the Chamber of Secrets, out cold, looking small and very,
"It was horrible," he said, half to himself, unconsciously.
"Yes, it was." Even quieter. Harry looked at Ginny
quickly. When she looked back at him, Harry got the impression at that
moment of someone very young, and vulnerable, and strong at the same time.
And she understood. "I - thank you, Harry. Thank you for coming to find
me that day, and - killing him."
Harry felt a shiver run through him. For a moment
he had no idea what to say. "I - er - well, it was only fair, after you
defended me that time in Flourish and Blotts," he said, finally, trying
to lighten the mood, and take the conversation a little further away from
being thanked for saving her life. "Remember, with Malfoy?"
The look on her face seemed to say "how could I forget?"
and for a moment Harry wasn't sure he'd helped very much. But then a small
smile lifted at the corners of her mouth.
"And I'll never forget dad, in that brawl!" she said.
"I don't think I'd ever seen him punch anyone before."
"Your dad was great," said Harry, grinning as the
memory came back. "Lucius Malfoy had a black eye..."
"Yeah, from a falling book," Ginny finished. They
looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"And then that must have been when he put the diary inside
my book," said Ginny, bluntly, as they stopped laughing. "Slimy creep.
I was so stupid..."
She said it without a trace of self-pity, sounding as
if she reproached herself for it instead. Neither of them spoke for a
moment, as they continued to walk (not so briskly now).
"Ginny - no-one blames you for it, you know that, don't
you?" said Harry. But, having said it, he knew better than anyone that
there was no use of that if you blamed yourself anyway.
"Yeah. Everyone was great. Thanks," said Ginny. "I heard
you had quite a year of it yourself, what with being accused of being
Heir of Slytherin and all," she added, attempting a grin.
"Oh, well, you know me. Every year at Hogwarts is
'quite a year'," said Harry, without thinking.
"Yes, that's true," said Ginny, looking at him. The
expression in her eyes surprised, almost startled Harry: it was quiet,
and admiring, and also a little sad, almost for his sake; in spite of
himself, Harry found the glance refreshing.
"Well, I think I'll go and find the common room fire,"
said Ginny, puffing out and making a cloud of breath in still autumn air.
"Coming?" she asked him.
Harry shook his head, thinking that he'd rather be
outside; the chilly air was bracing and appealing. "No. I'll be in, in
a minute," he said.
"What, going to your secret hideout are you?" said
Ginny in jest, then immediately clapped her hands over her mouth. "Oh,
Harry - I really didn't mean...I heard Ron and Hermione talking, and it
just sounded to me like you..." she gabbled, quickly.
Harry had been standing in surprise. "It's okay,"
he said finally. "You're not so wrong, anyhow," he added. Ginny was still
looking scandalised with herself.
"Oh - well - I'll go in now, and you will go - to
somewhere which is completely none of my business, so I'll...see you later,"
she said, then turned and began to walk quickly in the direction of the
Harry turned, a little bemused, and sought his place
by the rocks. The air was refreshing, the sky was blue; but somehow he
didn't feel as satisfied here now as he usually did.
It looked like it might snow; the clouds were that kind
of rolling grey, and the air, as well as the grass underfoot, had that
frosty bite. Ginny hoped it might, she loved to see it snowing. However,
her thoughts could not be entirely enthusiastic about the possibilities
of the weather as she tramped across the Hogwarts grounds.
That morning, Harry had asked her to join him for
a walk. Well, he hadn't worded it quite like that (he'd actually said,
"Want to tramp around for a bit after breakfast?") and anyway, walks with
Harry were not that much of an unusual occurrence now. This would be the
second this week, and the fourth this month (Ginny cursed herself for
knowing the exact number). At first, they had mainly been to discuss Dumbledore's
favour. Then, it really had been a case of "Why, Harry, what a surprise
to see you here..." with hopefully not too much blushing and stammering.
But for some reason, it felt a bit special today. Ginny knew that if she
continued in that vein of thought for too much longer, there was going
to be an inevitable disappointment (Pride comes before a fall, and she
had learned in four years). Then again, why had he asked her to meet him
by the statue in the flower garden?
Ginny tucked her scarf more firmly round her neck
as she stood by the statue. There was no sign of Harry, and she suddenly
wished she'd had the foresight to be late herself. She and Harry were
- well, pretty much friends now, but that didn't mean she could stop herself
from going round beaming all morning, after he'd asked her if she'd wanted
to go for a walk. Ginny wondered if it was always going to be like this,
if they could ever really be friends because it was always going
to mean her being idiotic around him; or whether she could learn to act
purely as a friend.
She thought she was learning. After all, maybe she
hadn't realised how much Harry didn't know about the Riddle incident,
or she hadn't realised how much she needed to talk about it; in any case,
she'd found herself telling him everything about it (well, most things).
And he'd told her his part of it and the parts she couldn't really remember.
Because there was that thing, that if you told people all about yourself,
they started to tell you little back. So Harry had talked a bit, too;
a little about Voldemort, and also just about things like Quidditch, and
- and his Muggle life.
Then he'd asked her about her family. So Ginny had
told him; describing eagerly the various pleasant and not so pleasant
family habits, telling him more about her older brothers, and her dad's
fascination with muggle things.
"What's it like being the youngest?" Harry had said.
Ginny had answered without thinking about it.
"Sometimes it's gets a bit much. Like, I know Ron
says he can't do anything that hasn't already been done by Bill, or Charlie,
Percy or the twins - but it's different for me, because sometimes it's
like - it's like they don't expect me to do anything because I'm
the youngest. They'll always just see me as their baby. I mean, I really
love them, but sometimes, like when the house is full and everyone's being
annoying, I wish I could just be on my own for a bit."
Harry had seemed very thoughtful at this, and Ginny
at once had felt a huge pang, and felt like an ungrateful brat. How could
she have said something like that? Harry hadn't mentioned it - he'd actually
changed the subject - but she was sure tha he thought she was spoilt beyond
Perhaps Harry had decided not to come after all,
Ginny thought, feeling her heart drop several notches at only the thought
of it. But there was no sign of him still. She sat down on the base of
the statue heavily, then stood up again immediately; aware she'd just
sat on something.
A sugarquill. Whoever would leave a sugarquill here?
Ginny thought, feeling a stab of annoyance that had nothing to do with
the sweet. What she saw next, however, made her open her eyes wide.
There was another sugarquill, lying a few metres
away from her. Ginny looked again. The sugarquill she had almost sat on
actually pointed to second one, which was lying on the path.
"Oh, Harry, you didn't..." Ginny breathed, and felt
her heart beat faster as she walked to the second sugarquill, stooping
to look at it as though to check it was real. She couldn't stop herself
from whipping her head around quickly to look to see if there was...
There was. Another one. Balanced on a nearby
bench, and it was the most beautiful thing Ginny had ever seen. It one
pointed to yet another, placed on top of a hedge.
Her heart now racing, Ginny followed the trail marked
out sugarquills. She blanched slightly when she saw she was being lead
towards the Forbidden Forest, and it occurred to her that this might be
some sick joke, planned by Malfoy and whatever his troll-like cronies
were called. She almost stopped, remembering her father's words about
not trusting anything which didn't show you its brain; but then she saw
the next sugarquill - it was leading around the forest, and not into it.
Ginny reflected that this was the sort of thing that was going to get
her killed one day; took hold of her wand in her pocket, and continued.
Round the Forest, past a few trees and in a little
sort of clearing, Ginny found Harry, sitting on some large rocks, looking
out at the lake. She took control of her throat.
"I found you," she managed, coherently. Harry turned
and smiled at her.
"Does that mean you win the game, then?" he asked.
Ginny nodded silently. She fervently hoped that she wasn't going to have
to choose between crying and throwing herself at him, which were the two
options foremost in her mind at the moment.
"That was not a nice trick," said Ginny, knowing
full well that she had loved it. "Making me find you like that, in the
freezing cold! Where are your manners, Mr. Potter?" she found herself
saying, not entirely sure if she was joking or not.
By the looks of it, Harry wasn't sure either. Ginny
smiled to reassure him, if not herself that she had been.
"Nice view, isn't it?" said Harry, gesturing the landscape.
The sky was grey, the lake nearly black it was so dark, and the trees
were leave-less, starved, stretching figures. But it was beautiful,
Ginny realised. This sort of thing always was; and anyway, the place looked
as if it would always have a good view.
"Yes," she said. Then, feeling quite brave: "This
is where you come, then, when you want to be alone?" (She was not, ever
again, going to use the term 'secret hideout').
"Yeah," said Harry. He seemed to want to answer the
silent question hanging in the air. "I - er - thought you might like it.
You know, you said that you sometimes wished you could be on your own
for a bit, away from everyone? It's a good place for that."
Was he going red? Ginny tried not to focus
on his face, instead concentrating on the view. "It's lovely," she said,
honestly. "Really. Thanks. I think I'll be using it." Ginny doubted that
she could ever express how much this gesture meant to her, so she stopped
there, hoping her heart wouldn't burst trying. They continued to appreciate
the view in silence for a minute. Then she said,
"Um, just one thing Harry: it's very cold." She looked
at him a bit sheepishly, hardly believing what she was saying. Harry chuckled.
"Right. Yeah," he said. "Common room?"
"That would be nice," agreed Ginny. They began to
walk back to the castle - the fourth walk this month.
Just as they started to walk, it began to snow.