The Sugar Quill
Author: Arabella (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Palmistry  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.

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A/N: Ginny and Harry. Angst. Fluff. Plotless. Enjoy.

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Ginny pulled her hangings shut. In the dark fifth-year dormitory she could hear the whispers and giggles of the other girls, the kind that always followed a Hogsmeade visit. She tried to block out snatches of conversation about whom had held whose hand and which one had got candy from the one she didn’t like and how soon it would be until the dance was announced. A series of excited giggles and hushed "I hopes" followed this question, and there was the sound of feet padding from one bed to another and hangings being swung open and shut as girls cliqued off with their better friends, to tell their secrets.

It was impossible not to hear them, and eventually, Ginny just gave in and listened, pushing herself up against the wall behind her four-poster, drawing her knees in and hugging herself tightly. Part of her wished she could just do the same as the other girls did – that she could throw the hanging aside, go to someone else, sit up in bed with a dear girlfriend and unpeel her heart.

In the next bed she heard Emily’s low voice. "He’s terribly handsome, isn’t he? I think... I think I may rather like him." This was punctuated by her companion’s gasp and a round of stifled giggling.

Ginny pressed her head back against the wall, hard, and breathed deeply, willing herself to keep quiet. It wasn’t their fault. They couldn’t help it. It was almost funny, really, listening to the girls. She just didn’t want to include herself in it because she wouldn’t have much to add to such a conversation. Nobody would believe her even if she told the truth.

"I belong to him. I hurt all the time without him."

She shook her head. Not exactly the same thing.

For a moment it occurred to her, as it sometimes did, that she could go and tell Hermione. Hermione would believe her. Hermione already knew, and Hermione was headlong in love with Ron in a deep, true way that Ginny could connect to.

But Hermione was also Harry’s best friend.

Ginny weighed the possibilities for a moment. The ache in her heart was so dark and so big that she feared what would happen if she kept it to herself. And yet the only way to truly unburden it was not to go down the hall to Hermione. Hermione would hug her and let her cry; Hermione would know, in some ways, the depth of this wanting and would probably be a wonderful comfort if she kept quiet and didn’t try to give advice. But the comfort wouldn’t really reach the ache. There was only one real way to relieve the tight pain in her chest.

Ginny tilted up her chin and shut her eyes, dreaming what it would be like to go to Harry. Just to go to him. Tell him. She would find him alone. Ron and Hermione would have to be off somewhere, even just at dinner. She could find him after Quidditch practice, once Ron had gone up to shower. Yes, that would be it. On the pitch. Harry liked to stay past the rest of the team; Ginny had watched him for five years from the Gryffindor window and knew his habits. She would find him there alone. Near darkness. And she would say...

Ginny searched herself. What was there to say? He knew already. He’d known forever. What was it that Fred had told her once? She’d never made it secret. And at the beginning there had seemed no reason for secrets; she had been so young and her nature so artless that she had flown to him as much as she could – keeping back nothing – expressing in childish ways her adoration for him. Her love for him.

Fred and George had thought it was a riot. Ron had found it irritating. Hermione had considered it adorable. Mum had been amused and informed her that she was too young for such feelings. The girls in her year had been keen on telling her that she didn’t have much of a shot, seeing as he was Harry Potter. Her diary had told her that her love was only selfishness in disguise.

Harry had found it a bit embarrassing.

Ginny still flushed and cringed when she thought about the Valentine and the get-well card. She half-wished she could take them back. She hated Harry sometimes for knowing her secret, and though he had never abused it or teased her in any way, still she wanted to repeal her openhearted admissions, to take away that leverage from him, to start over and behave like.... well, like Hermione. Hermione, who had never given anything away and whose heart was now being reciprocated – clumsily, to be sure – but Ron had kissed Hermione now and he had always been hers in other ways, too. She could be sure of him. Ginny sighed, a little. It was hard not to be jealous of Hermione.

But it didn’t matter. Even if she could start over, and even if she had a chance to hide her heart away, Ginny knew well enough that she’d never be able to keep it to herself. She simply wasn’t built for it. The feeling consumed her and came out of her and what was she supposed to do? Sit tight? She’d been doing that for nearly three years now, pressing her mouth shut, biting her lips together, holding her hands down. It was causing her actual physical pain to sit up in bed now and not charge full force into the boys’ dormitory, demanding him. Harry. Harry who had saved her life and then never really looked at her again. Until today.

Ginny couldn’t explain how it was suddenly so different. Harry had been in her life for years. It wasn’t as if she’d never ever touched him. Of course she had. She’d woken next to him in terror in the Chamber of Secrets and his kneecaps had been pressed against her side. She’d brushed against him countless times at the Burrow – sometimes on purpose. She’d bumped him in the halls, passed him quills in the common room and jostled his elbow at the Gryffindor table. And secretly she had savored every second of contact, putting aside the fact that it was accidental, meaningless, and that he didn’t notice it at all.

Until today.

Ginny hugged her legs closer for a moment, then let them go and stretched them down the bedspread. She squared her shoulders against the wall, breathed deeply, and relaxed her arms at her sides, letting her hands curl naturally on the sheet. She shut her eyes and remembered exactly what had happened. It had been Ron’s fault. Ginny permitted herself a little grin. Yes, it was all Ron’s fault, the idiot. She loved her brother for his idiocy, today.

*

"If you’ve got no fate line, you’ve got no fate."

"Don’t be ridiculous, Ron."

Ginny heard them bickering happily from her seat at the next table. The Three Broomsticks was a buzz of noise, but Ron and Hermione managed to make themselves heard.

"Show me your hand again. Look at this, Harry."

Ginny turned, slightly. She couldn’t help it. She knew Colin and Emily were both trying to have a conversation, but it wasn’t really important. Glancing covertly in the direction of the threesome, she saw Harry lean forward, his face intent, as Ron brought Hermione’s hand above the table, palm-up.

"Nothing here, right?"

Ron traced a line down the center of Hermione’s palm with his index finger, where there should have been a fate line, according to Palmistry. Ginny noticed that her brother left his finger where it was, tracing it back and forth idly as he continued to vex Hermione.

"Unless I’m blind, you’re out of luck. Fate’s left you to fend for yourself."

"Honestly." Hermione lifted her eyebrows with an air of I-Don’t-Care that Ginny knew too well to put much stock in. Hermione was more attached to the palm of her hand at the moment than to any logical argument.

"It’s strange you haven’t got one, though, isn’t it?" Harry asked thoughtfully after a moment.

He had a wonderful, even voice. It was growing deeper, and there was a focused energy to all his words. Even in everyday conversation he was Harry Potter. All the time there was a sense of power. Still, the air around him was so vulnerable that it cried out for another presence – Ginny imagined sliding over to the next table, nudging under his arm and nestling against his shoulder to say, "It doesn’t matter, Hermione. It’s just fate." Harry would lean his temple to hers and look at her palm for a minute, before shutting it within his own and telling her that that was true. She knew him. She knew how he would be.

"It’s actually not strange," Hermione replied, taking her eyes from Ron’s finger and looking firmly at Harry. "A lot of people don’t have fate lines. It doesn’t mean anything."

"And what would you know about it?" Ron grinned at Hermione’s lofty expression. "I knew it. You’ve been coming to Divination all this time, under the Invisibility Cloak. You love Trelawney. Admit it."

Hermione rolled her eyes, but Ginny noticed that she scooted an inch closer to Ron. Their chairs had already been touching, and now their sides touched as well. Discreetly. But it was there.

"I know, Ron, because I did my homework third year."

"Before you went mad and walked out."

"Before I decided to rearrange my schedule. And in the Palmistry section of Unfogging the Future –"

"On page three hundred and forty seven, line twelve –"

Harry laughed. Ginny felt a tremor in her stomach.

"It says that the fate line is actually rare. Have you got one?" Hermione turned Ron’s hand over quickly, before he could pull it away, and smoothed it out with her own. "Hmmm... no.... nothing. I suppose you haven’t got any fate, either. Pity."

Ron smirked. "I’ve got one on this hand." He held up his left.

"Go back and look in your text. One only reads the hand that a person writes with. That’s the one a Divinator goes by, in Palmistry. And you’re right-handed." Hermione smiled.

Harry held up both his hands just under the table and studied them. After a moment, he nodded and put them back in his lap.

"What?" Ron asked immediately. "Have you got one?"

Harry shifted a bit. "Not really."

Ginny bit back a grin. He had one, and it was probably deep and running from one end of his hand to the other.

"Let’s see it then." Ron reached out. Harry gave him a look.

"If you think I’m going to hold your hand too, you can think again."

Ginny giggled out loud but caught herself at once, quickly turning her head to pretend she was enjoying something that Colin and Emily had been saying. Both of them looked at her as though she was a bit daft, before resuming their conversation. Ginny returned her ear to Harry’s voice.

"...not a big deal. Here, yeah." Harry held up his hand face out for a brief second.

Ron glanced at it and shrugged good-naturedly. "Why am I not surprised? If it’s rare, of course you’ve got one."

Harry was clearly nonplussed by this statement, and turned his eyes to his butterbeer, thumping at the tankard with dull flicks of his finger.

Ginny felt like grabbing his hand and kissing the lines, then slapping Ron for being insensitive. Harry didn’t like being Harry Potter. It was something he couldn’t avoid and he hadn’t asked for it. Ginny supposed he still feared that he wouldn’t live up to the myth of himself. But he needn’t have worried. And if he would only let her, she would have told him all the things about him that had nothing to do with being famous, or important, which set him apart from the world – in her mind, in any case.

But it was hardly the kind of speech to come bursting out with in the middle of a pub. She was determined not to embarrass Harry anymore. Therefore, pulling her hands from the table, Ginny turned them palms-up in her lap and studied them, just for something to do. A thrill coursed up her spine into her throat. In the center of her right hand, running from just below her middle finger downward through the fork of her life line, there was a strong, pink divide.

"Have you got one?"

Ginny’s insides came crashing together.

She didn’t have to turn her head to know that Harry had addressed her. The vibration of his voice hung in the air beside her. She could feel his gaze on her cheek as if it were a physical touch and her heart quickened in her ribs. At the same time, she curled her hands tightly in her lap, cursing herself for being so obvious about having listened to their conversation. She wondered if she ought to play it stupid and just say, "One what?" She decided against this at once. He knew anyway.

Forcing her eyes up to Harry’s, she weathered the usual shock of how very green they were before summoning her voice to speak.

"Yes, I have."

Ginny congratulated herself inwardly. She had neither blushed nor stammered, and no part of her was shaking. This was going well.

Harry looked a little relieved at her answer. Hastily, he held out his hand from the next table. "Let me see?"

Ginny’s hand started shaking at once. Willing it to be still and not to give her away, she excused herself quickly from her friends and slipped from her chair into the one adjacent to Harry’s. The outside of her leg brushed his, and through two sets of robes and trousers she felt a shockwave. Harry didn’t seem to feel it. He was intent on her hand, wanting to make sure that his fate line wasn’t just another thing that set him apart from everybody else. Ginny knew what he was getting at; he was no mystery to her.

She held up her palm.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see Hermione watching intently as Harry cupped his own hand beneath Ginny’s. His hand was warm and cool at once, his fingertips light on the back of her hand. The light in the room seemed to change. Ginny concentrated on every muscle in her face, forcing a neutral expression, sending mental threats to her blood that it had better stay far, far away from her cheeks.

Harry pushed up his glasses with his free hand and shoved his fringe back to stare at her palm. In doing so he exposed his scar. Ginny’s eyes lingered on it and her mind lingered on what it meant, while Harry satisfied himself that he was not the only person in the pub with a fate line. After a moment he smiled, just barely, his mouth lifting at the corners.

"No’ so rare then, mmph, ‘Arry?" Ron muttered thickly, through a handful of whatever he’d just been eating.

Ginny shifted her eyes from Harry’s scar to her hand.

Hermione’s voice followed studiously. "Yes it is. Ginny’s having one doesn’t make the fate line any less rare. But in terms of odds, it’s just interesting that there are two right here, really. That’s unusual."

Harry picked up his index finger and, mimicking what Ron had done to Hermione earlier, very lightly traced down the center of Ginny’s palm. He didn’t seem to realize what he was doing. Ginny hardly realized it herself. After the first shiver of him bolted up her arm and into her brain, she went into a kind of semi-shock, and though she feared her mouth had fallen open, she did nothing to remedy it. Harry had never touched her deliberately like that. Ever.

"Odds, odds, thanks for the Arithmancy lesson," muttered Ron, nudging Hermione, taking a gulp from his tankard and going back to eating. But Ginny could have sworn that Ron shot Harry a funny look in the middle of it all, and that Ron’s sudden, loud cough was not entirely natural.

Abruptly the finger on her fate line disappeared, the carefully cupped palm beneath hers went flat, and Harry’s fingers pulled away awkwardly as if they didn’t know quite where to go. Ginny looked up and saw that Harry, though not looking at her directly, was duly aware of the situation. His expression had tensed. Quickly, to spare them both, she lifted her hand away and put it in her lap. For his part, Harry raised his hand and pushed up his glasses once more – a gesture that Ginny always found oddly beautiful.

This time, though, it was better than beautiful. It was an unnecessary motion. Nervous. Unsure. Ginny felt a strange sense of awe. And in her hand she could still feel, like a painless brand, the place where Harry had dragged his fingertip.

He still wasn’t looking at her.

Hermione spoke at once, making the strained pause almost unnoticeable, and Ginny wished she could have thanked her friend for her unfailing tact.

"Ginny, did you get everywhere you needed to go today? I still haven’t been across to the bookshop and I’d like to look at – "

"No way," Ron interrupted flatly, "We still have to go to Zonko’s."

Hermione opened her mouth at once, but Ginny cut in before the disagreement could escalate.

"Thanks, Hermione, but I’ve already been all over. I should probably get back to my friends. We’re going to Honeydukes before we walk back. See you back in Gryffindor."

She surprised herself with her nonchalance. She surprised the rest of them, too. Even Harry looked up at her.

"I like that!" Ron retorted. "Back to your friends. And what are we?"

Ginny made a pained expression though pleasure shot through her at the idea that her brother might want her there. But then again, he might be joking.

"Whatever, Ron. Go and buy your Dungbombs. I’m off."

Without a backward glance, she slid back over to the table where Colin and Emily were still chatting happily. She made herself join in with them now, keeping her back to the threesome in the hopes that her head would stop swimming. But it didn’t. And when she and her friends rose to go to Honeydukes, the back of Ginny’s neck got suddenly and inexplicably hot.

She turned halfway, on instinct. Harry’s eyes were on her. Bravely she looked into them, ignoring the stabs of excitement and disbelief that seemed to be pummelling her senses. Ron and Hermione seemed to be having words, so she raised her hand in a casual wave goodbye to Harry alone – realizing almost at once that she’d used the hand with the fate line running down the middle. She glanced down at it for a second, then back up at Harry, almost apologetically.

A little grin twisted at his mouth. And then he lifted the fingers of his right hand off the table, leaving his wrist where it was, to give her a wave back. Ginny fixed her eyes on the heavy line down his palm, returned his grin briefly, and went out of the pub into the cold December air, where she finally blushed scarlet.

*

The dormitory had gone nearly quiet. Most of the girls had drifted back to their beds and off to sleep by the time Ginny came out of her reverie. She sighed very quietly, and made a mental note to say something to Hermione in the morning. Hermione would understand. It wouldn’t be the same as going to Harry, or even on the same planet. But it would help. And in any case, she couldn’t go to Harry – not even if she felt brave enough. Not now. Not yet. Not with Voldemort so high in Harry’s mind.

Ginny kept her eyes shut, feeling the ache come rushing home to the pit of her stomach. Harry had touched her hand. But he would forget about that, in the distraction of being Harry Potter, and tomorrow she would resume her post of watch and listen – and wonder. Wonder what it would be like to crawl into his common room chair with him and rest on his shoulder, holding him tight. Wonder what it might be like to talk to him for more than two seconds. Or to kiss him. Wonder if he had noticed her, today - really noticed her. Ginny sent a prayer toward the stars.

But even if the stars were listening, it wouldn’t happen now. Harry had priorities now. And he had a destiny. Fate.

Ginny picked up her hand and looked at her palm in the dark. She glanced both ways even though she knew that her hangings were quite drawn. And then, surreptitiously, she kissed the line she shared with Harry – the line he had touched – aimed her fingers at the wall palm-up, and blew the kiss as far as she could make it go. She imagined that it had landed on the hollow of his cheek and that he felt it there in just the way that she had felt his gaze on her neck.

Still yearning, Ginny lay down, tucked her palm beneath her cheek, and closed her eyes, waiting for sleep.

She waited for a long time.

//
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