Let us assume, for the purposes of this next bit, that
it is around Halloween at Hogwarts. And let us also assume that Hermione, in
an effort to help Harry discover the truth about why Ginny’s singing clears
the pain out of his scar, has lent him her enchanted music box. (The music box
is something I made up as a gift that Hermione received from her parents. It
plays whatever music one tells it to play. It will, for example, play the Weird
Sisters, or Tchaikovsky, or even sing in the voice of Professor McGonagall,
if for some strange reason Harry should desire to hear this. Don’t worry, he
Hermione has suggested that he keep the music box near
his bed, in case of another nightmare. The next time his scar hurts him, he
plans to tell the music box to play all kinds of different voices, to see if
any music other than Ginny’s voice has a similarly healing effect on his scar.
Ron has been apprised of this plan and thinks it is a good one – anything that
makes Harry’s scar have less to do with Ginny is fine by him. Ginny herself
has no idea that she’s had any effect on Harry’s scar
None of this is really discussed in Chapter Two, but
you should know about it now anyway. Also (though this is not really integral
to the story) I like to imagine that Harry has asked the music box to play in
his mother’s voice, and that this has afforded him some personal comfort. That
said, let’s move on to the next part that I actually bothered to write down
in story form. J
Things are better up here, Harry thought, feeling
the wind whip his hair back from his face. He was in the air on his broomstick,
having a rousing Quidditch practice with his fellow Gryffindors. He dove suddenly,
streaking toward a spot on the ground as if he had just seen the Snitch. Above
him, he heard Ron’s whoop from the goal posts.
"Getting good at that Wronski Feint, Harry!"
Harry pulled out of the dive and grinned heartily at his best friend. Nothing
could have made him happier than to be practicing for the House Cup alongside
Ron. They’d been in the air for some time now and the sky was growing dusky
as light snapped into the many windows of Hogwarts Castle, beyond the Quidditch
field. In the midst of his enjoyment, Harry could almost forget, for a moment,
that Voldemort had risen again.
But not quite. As they called off practice and
Harry flew downward for a landing, he caught sight of the Whomping Willow. It
reminded him of the first time he’d met Sirius... which put him in mind of where
Sirius was right now... out gathering forces to fight the monster who had murdered
his best friends, and Harry’s own parents. Harry felt the all-too-familiar sickness
in his stomach at the thought of these events, the nausea stopped him from concentrating
on his flying, and his landing was therefore an uncharacteristically rocky one
– he tripped over his feet, stumbled and sliced open his shin on a sharp bit
of rock. "Ow," he muttered, picking himself up and examining the bloody
rip in his pant-leg. The cut was fairly deep, but less painful than it looked.
"You okay, Harry?" called Ron, catching
up to him and looking surprised. It wasn’t like Harry to fumble on a broomstick.
"Fine," said Harry flatly. "Just
preoccupied." Ron glanced warily at down at his bleeding leg, but nodded
and let him alone. There wasn’t much to say. Everyone who really knew what was
happening in their world had good reason to be preoccupied.
The two boys gathered their things and walked
in silence up the lawn and into the entrance hall. They were met by the heavenly
smell of dinner, wafting up from the doors of the Great Hall. Ron popped his
head in to surmise the supper. "Roast beef," he said hungrily. "I’m
starving. Think I’ll just go in – Hermione’s already in there – you coming?"
But Harry shook his head and gestured to his leg. "I’ll go and clean this
first," he said. "Be right back."
Ron nodded and made his way in among the tables
toward Hermione. Harry watched the two of them for a moment as Ron seated himself
at the Gryffindor table and said something Harry couldn’t hear. Whatever it
was, it obviously annoyed Hermione greatly – she gave Ron a withering look and
pretended to ignore him until he leaned in and said something else that sent
her into a fit of involuntary giggles. Harry shook his head, smiling a little,
though in truth he felt slightly left out. He’d been the odd man out more than
once lately, in Ron and Hermione’s company.
Feeling pensive, he turned away and climbed
the stairs to Gryffindor. His whole body, which had just felt so exhilarated
out on the field, was suddenly tired. He didn’t want to wash up his leg so much
as he wanted a moment of quiet, away from everyone. There was too much in his
head that he couldn’t put into words lately – it made him feel more alone than
usual, even around his closest friends.
"Bubotuber," he said dully to the
Fat Lady, who swung open to admit him, clucking her disapproval. "Horrible
password, that," she mused. "I’ll change it tomorrow." Harry
gave a shrug and climbed through the portrait hole into a blessedly quiet common
room, which was almost entirely uninhabited. In fact, there was only one other
person in the room.
"Hi, Ginny," said Harry absently,
tossing his bag at the foot of a chair and making for the stairs, quite caught
up in thoughts of Sirius and Voldemort, Ron and Hermione all at once.
"Oh, hi," Ginny answered dispiritedly,
slamming The Standard Book of Spells; Grade Four on the table beside
her. "What’s up," she asked, her voice listless.
Harry stopped on the first step and turned,
taken aback by her tone. He noticed that her face was tense and inattentive
and her red hair, which was gathered into a knot by way of a pencil stuck through
it, was sticking around a bit wildly. "What’s the matter with you?"
he asked in surprise.
Ginny shook her head and flopped back in her
chair with her eyes shut. "I’m in a horrid mood," she told
him, "for no reason. Well, yes, there’s a reason – Transfiguration – this
Harry was doubly surprised. To his recollection,
this was the first time Ginny had not seemed at all tongue-tied around him and
he stepped back into the room entirely as he said, "Well, what are you
working on in there?"
"Guinea fowl," Ginny muttered, opening
her eyes to glare at her spell book murderously. "Why do I need to turn
that stupid thing into a guinea pig? Who’d ever want to do that anyway?"
Harry laughed. He’d often wondered the same
sorts of things about their assignments. "I don’t know," he confessed,
watching curiously as Ginny now began to dig through her bag in an exasperated
"I mean, when in my whole life,"
she continued irritably, pulling out a quill with one hand, "am I going
to have the sudden urge to change a guinea fowl into anything?"
She slapped a roll of parchment on the table impatiently and looked at Harry
for an answer. He could only grin at her frustration.
"Well, you never know, do you?" he
returned easily, making her laugh in spite of herself. And then, not knowing
quite what he was saying, he offered, "Want help, or anything?"
In the midst of a laugh, Ginny caught her breath
and looked at Harry as though she had only just recognized him. She turned slightly
pink, but seemed determined not to let it affect her. "Erm..." she
managed, looking at his eyes for a split second, and then quickly down at her
spellbook, "That’s... that’s okay. I was just going to write a letter to
Bill instead, but.... Actually I still need to go to dinner."
"Me too," Harry said, still not sure
of what he was saying. "Want to wait for me? I’ve just got to wash this
up." He motioned to the cut on his leg, which had momentarily begun to
Ginny met his eyes again, still blushing slightly.
"Yes, I’ll wait..." she began, but stopped suddenly, her eyes flitting
to his sliced shin. She stretched her fingers out instinctively. "You’re
bleeding!" she exclaimed. "What happened?"
Harry flinched at her tone of concern and took
a step backwards up the stairs. He wasn’t sure why, but the look on her face
unnerved him. "Nothing," he said in an automatic voice, "I tripped
– I’m fine."
Ginny didn’t seem convinced. Her eyes lingered
on the now-congealing cut. "Shouldn’t you..." she began hesitantly,
"...shouldn’t you just go to the hospital wing? Madam Pomfrey could fix
it in two seconds."
Harry shook his head firmly. He wouldn’t admit
it to Ginny, or to anyone, but he was in no hurry to go back to the hospital
wing. The last time he’d been in there had been the absolute most painful of
his life. Just thinking about the infirmary brought back an instant memory of
the Diggorys. His heart clenched as he recalled how he had been made to explain
their son’s death to them... and there were so many other horrible memories
of the Triwizard Championship... No, he never wanted to see the inside of the
hospital wing again if he could help it.
Although he had explained none of this aloud,
Ginny gave him a look that suggested comprehension. "I don’t like to go
up there either," she said frankly, after a moment. "It’s depressing."
Harry jumped. "What?" he exclaimed,
unprepared for her truthful estimation of his motives.
"Well," she said slowly, shrugging,
"whenever I go up there for anything, all I can think of is the end of
first year..." She blushed, looking at her hands, "Tom Riddle and
all that," she explained in a quick, embarrassed tone. "And I know
that’s nothing to what you must feel– I mean especially after Cedric and everything
that happened to you last year – it must be hard to face..." Ginny trailed
off, and pressed her lips together. "Sorry," she finished softly,
after a short silence. "You can’t want to talk about all that."
Harry was staring at her, openmouthed. The truth
was, he desperately wanted to talk about "all that" but everyone else
– Ron and Hermione included – seemed uncomfortable on the subject. Neither of
them ever brought up Cedric if it could be helped, and although Harry knew it
was only because they didn’t want to hurt him, often he felt that the careful
silence was equally as painful. Then again, he reasoned, even if his best friends
had been perfectly open on the subject, he had to admit that he wasn’t
always very keen to pour his heart out to them. Ron often became confused and
doubtful; Hermione, panicked with worry. Though they cared about him very much,
sometimes Harry found that it was less trouble just to keep things quiet.
But Ginny didn’t appear to be confused, or panicked.
She was looking at him quietly, waiting for him to answer, and Harry felt suddenly
as though the great weights that pressed on his heart were aching for release.
He realized how much he wanted to be perfectly straightforward with someone
– certainly he had Sirius, but Harry didn’t want to write a letter. He wanted
a friend in the here and now, someone to trust who wouldn’t be frightened or
shocked by everything he had to share. Into his chest rushed an overwhelming
desire to tell Ginny that she was very right, that it was difficult to
face what had happened last year, that Cedric was often on his mind, and that
he didn’t know how to deal with the reality of a returned Voldemort. Harry drew
a deep breath and spoke.
"Look, I’m fine," he said loudly,
shattering the quiet of the common room and startling them both. He hadn’t meant
to say that at all, and he could tell by the look on Ginny’s face that she didn’t
believe him in the slightest. But, "I’m fine," he repeated in a more
normal tone of voice, working to convince her. "Really, it’s just a scratch
–" he indicated his leg – "I don’t need to see Madam Pomfrey about
it. I’m fine," he concluded for the third time.
Ginny sighed almost inaudibly and unrolled her
parchment, returning, it seemed, to letter-writing. "Yes, okay, you’re
fine," she said under her breath, "you’re always fine. You’re Harry
Potter." She said the last two words in a tone that struck his nerves with
a clang – he felt suddenly and inexplicably defensive.
"What’s that supposed to mean?" he
shot at her.
"It doesn’t mean anything," she said,
attempting to dismiss him as she unscrewed the top of her ink bottle. But Harry
wasn’t interested in being dismissed.
"Then why’d you say it?" he demanded
Ginny loaded her quill with ink and set her
hand on the parchment, but did not begin to write. "It’s only...."
she faltered, looking up at him. For a moment she appeared to be suffering a
painful internal struggle, but then she lay her quill down abruptly and braced
her arms on the chair. "It’s just you’re very hard to talk to, because
you’re scared someone’s going to see you lose it," she said in a rush,
"even though you deserve to break down, Harry, you really do!" She
crossed her arms defiantly, as if daring him to contradict her. Through his
shock, Harry could tell that she’d wanted to say that for quite some time.
But the fact remained that it stung him very
badly to hear those things – Harry felt as if Ginny had just opened a very private,
sealed door, one which most people tiptoed carefully around. And though he struggled
not to admit the truth to himself, he knew she was right. He was Harry Potter.
And whatever else that meant, it certainly made it difficult to break down and
hash things out like everybody else. So what made her think he was about to
do it now?
"You don’t know what you’re talking about,"
he said, much more coldly than he’d intended. Ginny recoiled, her eyes registering
hurt, and Harry, feeling immediately contrite, back-pedaled as well as he could.
"Seriously," he said, trying to sound friendlier, "I’m fine."
But he regretted those words, too, as soon as they were out, because Ginny seemed
to expect them. She laughed slightly, put her letter aside, and stood up.
"Well, good. As long as you’re fine,"
she said evenly, pulling the pencil out of her knotted hair and letting it fall
back around her face. She tossed the pencil onto her things with a clatter.
"I’m going to dinner now, before it’s over," she announced. And as
Harry watched, she went to the portrait hole, pushed it open, and let it fall
shut behind her. It was a long moment before he was able to gather his wits
and continue up the stairs.
You’re Harry Potter. The words came back
into his head and he tried to shake them out as he stalked past the boys’ dormitory
and into the lavatory, where he went about washing his leg in the sink. You’re
scared someone’s going to see you lose it. No, he thought, that wasn’t true
at all. It’s just that there was no sense in making a sap out of himself. He
scrubbed at his cut roughly, though it hurt him, trying to distract himself
from his thoughts. But it was very difficult to escape the dim, guilty feeling
that he had lied to Ginny – made worse by the fact that she had been remarkably
honest with him. He blotted the slice on his leg with a pounding motion, threw
the tissue furiously into the bin, and caught sight of himself in the mirror.
Arrested, he stared at the lightning bolt on
his forehead. It had been several weeks since he’d thought about the way in
which Ginny’s voice had affected him at the Burrow. In fact, ever since Hermione
had given him the enchanted music box he’d avoided the subject entirely, both
with his friends and with himself. Now, however, Harry found himself once again
trying to work out the possible connection... his scar... Voldemort.... Ginny...
It was difficult to draw conclusions about any of it.
Instead, his mind began to draw a few conclusions
about Ginny herself. Vaguely it occurred to him that though he’d known her for
nearing four years, he had only just met her for the first time. He had certainly
never had anything approaching a serious conversation with her. She was somehow
more opinionated than he had expected – and she had made more than one startlingly
perceptive observation about him – it led him to wonder just how closely she’d
been paying attention all this time.
Harry smiled at himself sheepishly in the mirror.
He was rather used to the idea that Ginny was a bit... taken with him. There
was something very flattering about the way she’d always looked at him, even
if he didn’t return the feelings. Which, he reminded himself, he didn’t.
Not at all. He liked her all right – he liked all the Weasleys. It didn’t mean
anything more with Ginny – not even if, for reasons he couldn’t explain to himself,
he had been about to confide in her about everything in a way it had never occurred
to him to do with Fred and George – or even Ron.
It was several minutes before Harry snapped
out of these thoughts and realized that his delays meant he would now have missed
dinner – unless he ran for it. Drying his hands quickly, he raced down to the
common room, which was filling up with students returning from the Great Hall.
He flung open the portrait hole and came face to face with Hermione, who clambered
inside. She was followed closely by Ron, and was carrying a sandwich in a napkin.
"Dinner’s almost over," she explained, holding it out to him. "I
didn’t know if you’d make it, so I put this together."
"Thanks," Harry said, accepting it
gratefully. And then, without thinking, he added, "Did you see Ginny?"
He could have hit himself for asking. Ron looked at him sharply.
"Yeah, we passed her, why?" he asked,
his tone suspicious.
Harry berated himself inwardly as he fumbled
for an explanation. "No reason – she just had a question – about Transfiguration.
Guinea fowl, or something."
But Ron was not put off track by this feeble
attempt. "What took you so long up here, anyway?" he interrogated,
watching Harry closely.
"Er," Harry said, making a very great
effort not to show strain, "nothing really – you know, just got held up
– had to wash out my leg –" He stopped talking and slapped himself mentally
a second time, because that had been another stupid thing to say. Hermione now
looked at the cut on his leg and sucked in her breath.
"Hospital wing," she said reflexively.
But Harry refused, point-blank, to comply with this, explaining that it looked
a lot worse than it was and it didn’t really hurt at all. Eventually he stopped
acknowledging her arguments altogether and Hermione had to give up. She sighed,
still tutting in the direction of his shin, but let it go for the moment. "Ginny’s
having trouble with Transfiguration then?" she asked, changing the subject
as she hefted her own schoolbooks to the table and sat down. "Cross-Species
"I guess," replied Harry noncommittally,
thumping into a chair and tearing into his sandwich without meeting Ron’s eyes.
But Hermione seemed to be oblivious to the tension between Harry and Ron. She
picked up Ginny’s spellbook and thumbed through it methodically.
"I’ll help her when she gets back then,"
she decided. "I did rather well in that section. I loved that part of the
exam – it was fun, learning to switch them over, didn’t you think?"
Ron now looked despairingly at Hermione – if
he still had misgivings about what had taken Harry so long upstairs, he lost
sight of them in the wake of her comment. "Hermione," he said patronizingly,
as if she were a very small child, "you’re mental. You can’t love any part
of an exam. It’s against nature."
"Oh, hush," she returned, pouting
into her bag. "Do you have an extra quill, please? I think I lent my last
one to Neville." Ron rolled his eyes in Harry’s direction, but quickly
dug a quill out of his own bag and presented it to Hermione. She smiled up at
him as he settled in the next chair over, and Harry couldn’t help but grin into
his sandwich, thinking that Ron had become rather obedient lately. However,
he was too grateful for the distraction to make any comments. To his great relief,
it seemed that neither of his friends had really noticed his unease regarding
Ginny, and he almost forgot it himself as he pulled up his school bag and began
to work on their latest assignment for History of Magic.
Harry could not explain why his head snapped
to the portrait hole as if it were on a string when Ginny climbed through it
half an hour later. To his great annoyance he felt his face grow rather flushed
as he turned quickly back to his essay – and if he thought this too would pass
unnoticed, he was wrong. A slight, "Ahem," from Hermione made him
glance up warily, and when he did, Harry felt himself grow red all over again.
Hermione was looking at him quite as if she knew what was going on. Her gaze
shifted meaningfully from Harry to Ginny and back again. With the slightest
lift of her eyebrows, she effectively communicated to Harry that she, at least,
was on to him. And though she busied herself about her books again without a
single word, Harry insides squirmed horribly.
Ginny, on the other hand, did not look at him.
With an easy, "Hello," to all of them, she returned to the chair she’d
been in previously and began to discuss her Transfiguration assignment with
Hermione. Harry was at once disappointed by her nonchalance, and grateful for
it. He didn’t particularly want to look her in the eye, especially considering
the things she’d said to him before she’d gone to dinner. You deserve to
break down, Harry, you really do, his mind echoed.
But even though they didn’t look at one another,
Harry felt far too uncomfortably aware of her to get any work done. He could
hardly sit still, though he worked very hard to do so. He was sure that any
moment, Ron would notice something was wrong with him and ask what was up –
and it was a question Harry simply couldn’t answer. After a torturous fifteen
minutes in which he wrote exactly four words of his essay, Harry finally begged
a headache and returned upstairs to complete his assignments, seriously frustrated
He stormed into his dormitory and crashed onto
his four-poster with a disgusted sigh. It’s only Ginny, he told his brain angrily.
But this was a most unhelpful consolation when his brain reminded him that only
an hour ago, Ginny had seemed to be the one person in the world who actually
understood what he was thinking. Just as importantly, she seemed to be tied
into his connection with Voldemort...
Harry pushed aside his homework, pulled on his
pajamas and shut his bed-curtains with a violent yank. He lay awake for some
time, his palm resting across his scar, trying to understand. But he couldn’t
make sense of anything – least of all the fact that, quite against his will,
he suddenly found himself thinking that Ginny Weasley was getting rather pretty.
"No way," he muttered into his pillow,
burying his face and wishing for the comfort of thoughtless slumber. It was
a long time tossing, though, before he finally got his wish and fell asleep.