The title is Jim Croce's, the characters are J.K. Rowling's, the sonnet
is Elizabeth Barrett Browning's (XXII) and the bulletin board is mine.
Many thanks to Doctor Cornelius for editing and encouragement and to the
Quill for providing a forum for this nonsense. Let's begin with a nod
to Alphie --
Harry Potter stabbed his quill back into the ink bottle and surveyed
the note to his godfather.
Made it to the Weasleys' just fine. Everyone's okay here, some
more so than others. If Ron and Hermione ever come up for air, I'm
sure they'll tell me to say hello. I'll check in next week.
Before he could reconsider how childish and petulant it sounded, he rolled
the parchment up and headed for Hedwig's cage. Even though Ron and Hermione
had both owled him with the news that they'd finally admitted their feelings
for each other, he hadn't been prepared for the sight of them with their
arms around each other when he stepped out of the fireplace at the Burrow.
Or the sight of them snogging every time he'd rounded a corner or walked
into a room for the last two days.
Hedwig clucked softly, seeming to sense Harry's mood. It wasn't that
he minded them being together, he told himself as he attached the note
to the snowy owl's leg. It was just that, well, he minded them being together
so much. He'd been looking forward to spending a couple of weeks
with his two best mates and now he felt as though he were interrupting
something every time he spoke to them. With a sigh, Harry pushed open
Ron's bedroom window. Hedwig just eyed him suspiciously.
"Oh, go on," he said, giving her a nudge. With a final haughty
look, the owl rose into the air. Harry watched her until she was out of
As he came out of Ron's room, he could hear his friends' voices below.
They must have finished their little picnic. Harry had joined them by
the river for lunch, but they so clearly wanted to be alone that he came
back to the house as soon as he'd eaten, with the excuse of writing to
Sirius. Harry started down to meet them, but quickly froze when he heard
his own name.
"What about Harry?" Hermione was saying.
"He said he was going to write to Sirius, then take the Firebolt
down to the glen for a while. He's long gone," Ron said. There was
a silence, punctuated by the little murmurs that Harry now recognized
as snogging sounds. "Just for a few minutes, Hermione, please."
"If your Mum catches us in your room . . ."
"No one's gonna know. C'mon . . ." more snogging sounds.
Great. Harry certainly didn't want to be the one to break this up. Embarrassed,
he looked around for a place to hide. Seeing a sliver of light through
a doorway, he darted through it just as his friends reached the top of
the stairs. He listened to their footsteps as they passed by his hiding
place and faded away into the attic. Then he turned around to see where
Harry had never been in her room before, couldn't even recall standing
in the doorway, although he supposed he must have at some point. The room
was small and very tidy. There was barely room for the bed, dresser and
a small bookshelf that also served as nightstand. Hermione's trunk was
wedged on the other side of the bed, with a few books scattered on top.
Harry took a step and kicked over a pile of books stacked beside the
dresser. He froze, listening for any sound of Ron and Hermione responding
to the noise. There was none. Kneeling to straighten the books, he mused
at the strange titles.
"Sense and Sensibility." Definitely one of Hermione's books,
although he doubted she'd read it recently. "Pride and Prejudice."
Huh. That one sounds like it's about the Malfoys. He didn't know what
"Wuthering" meant, and he was certain neither girl spoke Portuguese.
He opened this last at random and read:
"When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire. . ."
Harry snapped the book shut. No wonder Hermione had gone so strange.
Or maybe these were Ginny's books. He eyed the slim volume of verse, trying
to imagine Ginny reading poems of love and passion. The thought came surprisingly
easily, and for some reason made him a bit uncomfortable. He tossed the
books aside, stood and looked around.
The wall beside the dresser was almost completely covered by a bulletin
board full of wizard photos. He knew Ginny didn't have a wizarding camera,
the only person at Hogwarts he'd seen with one was Colin Creevey. Yes,
there was Colin, looking self-conscious and pantomiming holding a camera.
Ginny must have taken that one. There they were together, in a photo obviously
taken while holding the camera themselves. They were laughing and jostling
each other out of the frame. Harry noticed that Colin's ears turned pink
when Ginny bumped him, and his eyes kept turning to her face. "Oh,
please," thought Harry, suddenly very irritated. He had no idea that
Ginny and Colin were even friends, much less that Colin . . . .
There was a lot about Ginny he didn't know, he realized as he surveyed
the pictures. There she was with the rest of her class in the Gryffindor
common room. They were piled together on one of the sofas and appeared
to be singing. Wonder what that had been about. Here she was with a group
of girls in The Three Broomsticks, laughing and toasting with butterbeer.
Another photo showed her with two boys Harry didn't recognize. They were
holding a broomstick and trying to coax her on. The picture shook occasionally
and it took Harry a moment to realize Colin must have been laughing when
he took it.
He'd never really thought of Ginny in a way that didn't relate to himself,
Ron, or Hermione. Seeing her here, laughing with friends he didn't know,
made him feel left out somehow. "That's stupid, Potter," he
said to himself. "Of course she has friends." He caught a glimpse
of himself in another picture - it must be from this year's Quidditch
Cup celebration, there was one of the twins still wearing his team robes.
George or Fred? Harry looked closer, then wished he hadn't. It was Fred.
Harry could tell, because he was kissing Angelina and trying to pull her
out of the picture. Didn't anyone think about anything but snogging anymore?
And who is that? Harry's gaze was drawn to a photo of Ginny walking with
a tall, dark-haired wizard Harry didn't know. He and Ginny were outside
somewhere - on the way to Herbology, or coming back from Hagrid's, Harry
couldn't tell. They were walking close together, obviously deep in conversation.
The guy kept smiling into Ginny's eyes in a way that made Harry want to
Annoyed, Harry scanned the board for pictures of himself. Ah, there was
one. He and Ron were playing chess in the common room. Harry was already
looking defeated, slumped in the chair. Not exactly what he'd hoped for.
Another photo showed him walking with Ron and Hermione up the steps of
the castle. As he watched, the Harry in the photo tripped, books and papers
Harry felt his face redden with embarrassment as he watched his clumsy
image retrieving its belongings. "Oh, ha, ha. Very amusing, Ginny."
How could she keep that hanging up here? Weren't there any good photos
of him? Movement in the corner of the board caught his eye. It was him,
on the Firebolt. He wasn't wearing Quidditch robes, so the photo must
have been taken at practice, not a game. There was nothing else in the
frame but Harry and the sky. He could have been anywhere, going anywhere.
The wind whipped his hair and his face looked clear and happy. Free. Harry
stared at it for a long time.
Dropping his gaze, Harry saw one last picture of himself. He was studying
in the Gryffindor common room, books scattered on a table in front of
him. As he watched, the Harry in the picture slowly dropped his head to
his arms and fell asleep. When did Colin take this? Harry moved the picture
slightly to try and see what he'd been studying. As he did, he noticed
another photo pinned beside it.
It was Ginny, curled up in her favorite chair by the fire in the common
room. A book was open in her hands, but her head rested against the wing
of the chair and she was fast asleep. The firelight shone on her curtain
of hair and illumined the curve of her cheek. Harry took the photo off
the board and turned it over. Sweet Dreams, Ginny, Colin had written.
Not really knowing why, Harry put the picture in his pocket.
Then an older photo caught his eye - Ginny dancing with Neville Longbottom
at the Yule Ball, Harry's fourth year. Ginny looked miserable, Neville
was clearly trouncing on her toes. Over her shoulder, he could see himself
and Ron slumped at their table, looking bored beyond belief. "Why
would she keep . . ." Harry thought, then the couple in the corner
of the photo turned in their waltz and he recognized Cedric and Cho.
Harry caught his breath. He remembered being jealous that night and felt
the familiar rush of shame. He looked past Cho, his eyes on Cedric. It
hurt to look at that face, to remember the last time he'd seen it and
the weight of Cedric's body in his arms. As he watched, the couple laughed
together, twirling to unheard music and gazing into each other's eyes
as though nothing else existed. It helped, somehow. Ginny never spoke
of it, none of them did, but here in her room she'd made sure that some
small piece of Cedric danced on with the girl he loved in his arms.
Unable to watch the dancers any longer, he turned around and found himself
standing next to the bed. Without thinking, his fingers closed over the
pillow and he gathered it into his arms, inhaling its scent. Harry cradled
the pillow as a small child holds a stuffed bear, eyes closed, face buried
in its softness. The images in his mind stilled and he grew calm, awash
At the sound of Ginny's laugh, he dropped the pillow and looked frantically
toward the door. It took him several seconds to realize that her voice
was coming from the garden, outside her window. He stepped forward to
Ginny was seated on the garden bench, a book in her hand, laughing at
Crookshanks who was pursuing a gnarled little gnome. As he watched, the
cat made its way back over to her, to be greeted with a scratch behind
the ears. Then, slowly, she raised her face to the window and their eyes
He stepped back quickly, almost landing on the bed. She'd seen him. Standing
in her room. What to do? He crossed the floor in two long strides and
bolted into the hall, barely pausing to hope Ron and Hermione were still
upstairs. Taking the stairs three at a time, he ran into the family room,
throwing himself on the sofa and controlling his breathing only seconds
before he heard Ginny coming through the kitchen door.
Her footsteps started across the room, then stopped. "Harry?"
she said softly. Steps approached the sofa. It took every ounce of control
he had to keep his face still, his breathing even. He could hear the cat
purring somewhere near his head.
"Crookshanks?" Ginny sounded puzzled. "I'd swear I saw
. . ." she sighed. "Of course not. That's silly," he heard
He waited for sounds of her moving away, but they didn't come. Instead,
he felt his glasses lifted from his face, heard them quietly placed on
the table. Then a gentle hand smoothed his hair away from his brow. A
long moment passed before her footsteps ascended the stairs.