The Sugar Quill
Author: Winky and Dobby (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Let Me In  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.

Author's Note: This is a companion piece to Winky's As Strong As We Are United, this time from Ginny's point of view. It would definitely help to read that one first. The title and much of my inspiration came from the song Let Me In by Save Ferris. Thanks to Winky for letting me borrow her brilliant conversation, and many thanks to Arabella for her thoughtful comments and gentle prodding in the right direction.

Disclaimer: The characters belong to J. K. Rowling, the dialogue belongs to Winky, the lyrics belong to Save Ferris, and Harry belongs to Ginny. ;)


Ginny Weasley stared up at the constellations glittering on her charmed ceiling. It was quite late; she had already watched several of the constellations' real counterparts cycle across the sky and vanish below the horizon outside her window. Across the room Hermione slept soundly in her own bed, Crookshanks curled at her feet. The rest of the Burrow was silent but for the faint rumble of snores from the boys' rooms. Even the ghoul in the attic had stopped banging his pipes. The whole house seemed wrapped in peaceful slumber.

Except Ginny. She was thinking, of course, about Harry Potter. Not that this was anything new for her. Ginny had long since grown accustomed to thinking of her life in terms of Before Harry and After Harry. Watching him was as much a part of her as her freckles or her stubborn hair or the infamous Weasley temper. Sometimes she thought she knew Harry better than her own brothers. She knew his favourite subject, his favourite foods, his moods and expressions, the sound of his walk. She knew the dimple between his brows that meant he was thinking hard, the glint that appeared in his eyes when he was devising new Quidditch tactics. She also knew, with painful certainty, that Harry thought of her only as his best friend's little sister. The irony of her situation was not lost on Ginny. In fact it had been responsible for a fair share of sleepless nights before this one.

Tonight, though, Ginny was not thinking of all the things she knew about Harry Potter. She was thinking that something was wrong with him, that she didn't know what it was, and that it was driving her crazy. Ever since Harry's arrival at the Burrow she had sensed that something was different about him, but everyone else--including Harry--was pretending that things were normal. Ginny realized that Hermione and Ron knew more than she did about what had happened last year after the Third Task. Normally she would have believed Hermione when she said that Harry was dealing with it the way he always did, and that he would be fine the way he always was.

But Harry was definitely not fine, and Ginny didn't understand how no one else could see this. She saw it in the smudges that never quite disappeared from beneath his green eyes, in the way his gaze automatically swept a room whenever he entered, in the times when his hand slipped unconsciously to his pocket to check that his wand was still there. Ginny wasn't stupid. She could guess what was troubling Harry, what made him lie awake at night and check for enemies in every corner. But she could never know for sure, because he wouldn't talk about it. And unless he did, neither she nor anyone else could help him. The thought made her desperate.

She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to force her thoughts into focus. One thing was clear--Harry was still very upset about what had happened to Cedric. Ginny thought about Harry's reaction to what Malfoy said in Diagon Alley--she knew she would never forget the look on his face at that moment.

Afterwards he had said he knew people didn't blame him for Cedric's death. He had tried to shake off the incident and even managed to laugh about it. But Ginny knew that didn't mean he wasn't blaming himself. She suspected that despite his words Harry still felt guilty about Cedric, still wished he had done something differently that night. After all, Ginny herself still felt horrible about opening the Chamber of Secrets, and no one had even died. But she had learned not to hold herself responsible for things that were beyond her control.

Ginny thought she could make Harry understand that too, if only he would give her the chance. Gone were the days when she could only blush and stammer and otherwise humiliate herself in his presence. Now she could talk to him about any number of things, except for the one thing that really mattered. Because Harry had never let her get close enough to that part of his life. Even Ron and Hermione were shut out of it sometimes.

Ginny knew perfectly well why Harry always did his best to push people away. She understood his fear that people close to him would become targets for the Dark Lord. She admired his noble willingness to protect others at his own expense; she had come to expect nothing less from him. Yet understanding and appreciating Harry's motives didn't make it any easier to live with the precarious barriers he so desperately maintained. When she tried to be optimistic Ginny felt glad that Harry cared enough about her to want to shelter her. But most other times she simply felt furious with him for being so stubborn. Tonight was one of the latter.

With sudden resolution Ginny threw off the covers and got out of bed. This would never do. She was trembling all over with frustration and anger. She needed to do something to calm her frazzled nerves, before she lost control completely. Silently she crept out of the room and down the stairs.

The summer night was surprisingly chilly as she stepped into the yard. Shivering slightly, Ginny began to walk down one of the overgrown garden paths. The cool breeze soothed her irritation and revived her weary mind.

All at once Ginny knew what she had to do. This had gone on long enough. If Harry wanted to push her away, fine. That didn't mean she had to let him. She was going to talk to him, and he was just going to have to listen. There was no way she could let him go back to Hogwarts in his current state. If he didn't eventually fall to pieces, then she certainly would, watching him try to hold himself together.

Ginny made up her mind right then and there. Tomorrow, at the first opportunity, she would corner Harry and make him see reason. Surely she could make up some excuse to talk to him alone. The morning would be pretty hectic, but once they were on the train she should have plenty of time...Caught up in her feverish musings, Ginny rounded a corner and nearly fainted.

Harry was sitting on the bench in the corner of the garden, wearing a faded pair of striped pajamas. He was hunched over, his head in his hands, fingers tangled in his messy hair. He looked exhausted, incredibly fragile, and utterly alone.

"Oh!" The startled gasp slipped out before Ginny could stop it, thankfully preventing her from following her first impulse, which was to throw her arms around him and rock him like a child.

Harry looked up sharply, eyes widening at the sight of her standing there watching him. Ginny felt her courage failing, all her plans falling in shambles around her. She had just interrupted a rare moment of privacy, which he plainly wished she hadn't seen. How could she ever hope to talk to him now?

"I didn't know you were out here," Ginny said automatically, avoiding his eyes. "I'm sorry."

"That's okay," said Harry. "I was just thinking."

Ginny stared. Harry wasn't upset with her. He didn't want her to go away. In fact, he was scooting over on the bench to make room for her.

"Do you want to sit down?"

"Oh--" Ginny shook herself. "Yes." She sank down beside him, her heart pounding. "Thanks." She managed a shy smile. Maybe her plan could work after all. If she could just find a way to begin...

After a pause Harry's voice interrupted her harried thoughts. "Couldn't sleep?" When she nodded he asked, "Excited about school tomorrow?"

Ginny almost laughed. If he only knew. "Sort of," she said instead. "Hermione's been helping me a lot with curses and countercurses for Defense Against the Dark Arts. I hope we have a good teacher this year."

"I wish Professor Lupin were still at Hogwarts," sighed Harry. "He was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we ever had."

"I thought so, too," Ginny agreed. "I'll never forget how he stood up to that dementor on the train." She couldn't suppress a small shudder, remembering what she had felt in those few agonizing moments. "I hate to think what would have happened if it had been that prat Lockhart instead."

"He probably would have jumped out the window and left us, the worthless coward," snorted Harry in disgust.

Ginny shook her head. "I don't know what I'll do if we get another one like him. It would be just too awful." She looked up at the stars with a sigh. "Especially now."

Harry's brow furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"

Ginny faced him seriously. Maybe this would be easier than she thought. "Things are different now, Harry," she pointed out quietly. "With Voldemort back we all need to know how to protect ourselves, how to fight against the Dark Arts and the Unforgivable Curses. We have to be prepared."

Harry looked at her blankly. "But-we'll be safe at Hogwarts as long as Dumbledore is there," he said, sounding very much as if he were trying to convince himself as well as her.

Ginny's heart ached for him. "I know," she said, "but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be extra careful." She dropped her gaze, the old bitterness seeping into her voice as she pressed on. "Just look what happened to me because I didn't know how to recognize Dark Magic-people nearly died because of me." And even worse, though Ginny couldn't bring herself to say it--Harry nearly died because of her. For a moment she could not go on, lost in the familiar nightmare of what her ignorance had almost cost them all. But with a determined lift of her chin Ginny forced those thoughts aside to meet Harry's eyes staunchly. "I don't want to be a pawn for the Dark Lord again."

He shook his head. "But that wasn't your fault. It could have happened to anyone."

Ginny nodded, more than a little relieved that he didn't blame her. "Maybe so, but I still feel horrible about it," she admitted. She searched his face, gathering her courage. Here was her chance, and she couldn't afford to make a mistake. "Cedric's death wasn't your fault, either," she said gently, "but don't you wish you could have done something differently, and maybe it wouldn't have happened?"

Harry didn't answer. He looked away, and Ginny wondered frantically if she had gone too far. At least she knew her suspicions had been correct-he did feel guilty about Cedric's murder. How many other burdens was he trying to shoulder alone?

Ginny's blood was ringing in her ears as the silence stretched between them. Harry still wouldn't look at her. He was staring unseeing at his hands, which twisted nervously in his lap. Ginny couldn't help herself. With no thought other than to soothe him, she reached out and placed a comforting hand on his arm. It wasn't until she felt the warmth of his body beneath her fingers that Ginny realized what she had done. A thrill--part exhilaration, part terror, and part something else entirely--shivered through her. Harry turned slightly, bright eyes piercing her own.

Ginny fought to find her breath. "Harry, you can't change what happened any more than I can," she told him softly, "but you can change the future." Her voice grew stronger as she continued earnestly. "You can fight back, and you can defeat Voldemort, once and for all. I know you can, because you won't be alone next time."

"What?" He looked up sharply. "What are you talking about?"

Ginny felt her irritation returning. Did he really think he could make it on his own? Did he really think they would let him? "Oh, come off it, Harry," she said. "You saved my life, and Ron's and Hermione's, and everyone's in the wizarding world if you think about it. Do you honestly believe any of us are going to stand by and let you face Voldemort alone again?"

"But--" Harry began, and stopped. He looked away again and shut his eyes.

Ginny watched the struggle in his face, feeling quite desperate. This was it. She could almost see him rebuilding the walls around him. She had to get through to him somehow, before things got any worse. Surprised by her own boldness, Ginny reached out and took his hand. Another thrill coursed through her, making it difficult to concentrate on anything but his warm palm against her fingertips.

"Look, Harry," she said, gathering herself once more, "I know you must be really worried about what's going to happen this year. We all are. But it's no use torturing yourself--what will come will come, and when it does, all of us will face it together." For emphasis Ginny squeezed his hand gently, her heart leaping painfully when he met her eyes again. "That's why we're going to win, Harry," she continued firmly. "Maybe not right away, maybe not even soon. But eventually Voldemort will lose, because he doesn't have what we do."

Harry shook his head, confused. "What, you mean the Boy Who Lived? But I'm not--"

"I didn't mean you," Ginny interrupted. "At least not that way." She paused, searching for the right words, and when she found them they all seemed to tumble out at once in their haste to be spoken. "I meant bravery, loyalty, selflessness--everything that's helped you defeat Voldemort in the past. Good people--people like Dumbledore, your parents, Professor Lupin--those are the people on our side, people who chose a side because they knew it was the right one, and not because they thought it would win.

Voldemort doesn't understand that. His followers only support him out of fear and selfishness, and in the end he'll be all alone. But you, Harry Potter," Ginny squeezed his hand again, looking up at him intently, "you'll never be alone. Everyone in the wizarding world is going to fight, too, no matter what it takes. And we're going to win, because real power comes from loyalty and love and sacrifice, not curses and Dark Magic."

Ginny finished breathlessly, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her heart. She had wanted--no, needed--to say that for so long!

And she had never said anything with such conviction in all her life. But Harry was staring at her mutely, and she couldn't read the expression in his eyes behind the moonlight reflecting off his glasses.

The seconds crept by. Harry still didn't say anything, and Ginny realized with a wretched sinking feeling that she had made a terrible mistake.

Despite all her good intentions she had somehow overstepped her bounds. It wasn't her place to say those things to Harry, and she had hurt him. Ginny ducked her head to hide the tears welling in her eyes. That was it, then.

She had had her chance, but she had failed. Now Harry would never let her in, and she would never be able to help him.For one wild moment Ginny wished she were still her old self, the awestruck little girl who could only watch her hero from afar. Things had been so much simpler then. At least then she would never have had this conversation with Harry, never have hurt him and ruined their friendship. Ginny bit back a sob. She needed to get away, and she was certain he wouldn't be sorry to see her go.

She let go of his hand and stood up. "I think I'll go to bed," she mumbled without looking at him.

But Harry stood up as well, catching her by the shoulder. A shudder passed through her at his touch, so that her knees threatened to give way and she nearly stumbled. It seemed as though all of her being had suddenly converged in the small curve of her arm where she could feel the pressure of his hand through her sleeve.

"Ginny, wait," he said, apparently oblivious to her trembling. Her eyes flew to his face, a glimmer of hope welling inside her. "Er," he faltered.

Ginny waited, frozen in anticipation of whatever he was about to say.

Harry's forehead was wrinkled in concentration, his lips parted as if on the verge of declaring something quite significant. But after a tense moment he dropped his gaze, closing his mouth again, and Ginny's hope faded as quickly as it had appeared. Suddenly she felt very, very tired.

"Harry, it's very late," she said dully, passing a hand over her eyes. "I think we should go back inside." She turned away again as Harry let go of her.

"Thank you." Harry's voice, though quite low, stopped her once more.

Ginny's breath caught in her throat. Had she really heard him right? Her heart began to pound wildly. Maybe she hadn't failed after all. Maybe--

"Thank you," repeated Harry, flooding her with relief. He took two quick steps toward her and grasped her hand. Now Ginny's breath stopped entirely.

This wasn't real, it just couldn't be happening, not after what she had said--

"I think you're right," Harry was saying slowly. "It's just like what Dumbledore said: we're only as strong as we are united."

It took a moment for Ginny to fully comprehend what he had said. Then a smile blossomed over her face; she felt almost giddy with success. "That's right," she managed when she could speak, looking down at his hand holding her own. With a tremendous effort she forced herself to ignore the pleasant tingling running through her arm and concentrate instead on what she had to say. "We all believe that--Mum, Dad, my brothers, Hermione, and me." She met his eyes solemnly. "You can count on us to fight with you, Harry. Remember that."

Harry nodded gravely. "I will. Thank you."

"You're welcome," answered Ginny automatically. She was nearly beside herself with relief and a curious sort of buzzing that filled her head. She couldn't seem to stop smiling.

Harry smiled back, then let go of her hand to gesture toward the Burrow.

"We should go in," he said.

She could only nod in agreement, feeling oddly bereft without the comfort of his hand around hers. They walked silently side by side back to the house.

When they got inside Ginny paused at the foot of the stairs. She wasn't ready to go to bed just yet, she discovered. Something had happened between them tonight, something special, and she didn't want to let it go.

"I'm going to make some hot chocolate," she whispered. "Do you want some?"

But Harry shook his head. "No, that's all right. I think I better go to bed." She tried not to let her disappointment show. "And Ginny?" he whispered as she turned toward the kitchen. "Thank you."

Ginny smiled again, her regret forgotten. "Goodnight, Harry."

"Goodnight, Ginny." He smiled too, before turning to disappear up the stairs.

Ginny watched him go, torn between laughter and tears. The silence of the house descended once more, leaving her alone with her turbulent thoughts.

Mechanically she went about making her hot chocolate, hardly registering the cool of the kitchen floor beneath her bare feet. Upstairs the boys snored on as she crept into the living room and settled onto the couch. Harry's voice was still echoing through her head, her skin still humming wherever his hands had touched. Ginny tucked her legs up beneath her, as if by holding herself in she could somehow hold onto those feelings as well.

What a night. Ginny knew instinctively that things would never be the same again. After all this time, after all those years of watching and waiting, Harry had finally let her get close enough to share his worries. He had finally let her show him that she understood, and finally realized that he didn't have to be alone. Harry hadn't let his walls down completely, she knew. But together they had made a start.

Ginny sat in the hushed darkness with her eyes closed, remembering the reassuring warmth of Harry's palm pressed against her own. That was a start, she thought again. It was a definite start, and that was enough.

The End


Author's Note: For anyone interested in the song that inspired this, here are the lyrics. If you can find the song you really ought to have a listen--it's quite lovely, and (I think) very Ginny.

I've been watching you and all you do
For quite some time
Knowing all the ins and outs of you
I should have known what was on your mind

But all the world is spinning round and round
Inside my head tonight
I will fall into the darkness
And I fear I will never see the light

I've been watching you and all you do
For quite some time
Knowing all the ins and outs of you
I should have known what was on your mind

But all the world is spinning round and round
Inside my head tonight
I will fall into the darkness
And I fear I will never see the light
The light
So let me in

All that I wanted from you
Was something you'd never do
So let me in
Oh, please tonight
Don't let this end, tonight
I will fall

Through the light the darkness seems to be
So very strong
How does one alone against the world
Find the strength to carry on?

What happened to the way we used to love?
It seemed as though life had just begun
But now that love has come and gone to fade away
Like the setting sun
'Cause you won't let me in

All that I wanted from you
Was something you'd never do
So let me in
Oh, please tonight
Don't let this end, tonight
'Cause I'm starting to fall
So let me in

It was all that I wanted from you
It was something you never knew
To let me in
But not tonight
For this is the end, tonight
I fall

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