The Sugar Quill
Author: Gryffgirl  Story: Underdog  Chapter: Default
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Underdog

*The songs “Underdog” and “You Don’t Know Me” belong to Lisa Loeb. Special thanks to my beta-reader Arabella, whose Sine Qua Non inspired me to write a Harry/Ginny story! Thanks for all your help! Enjoy, folks!*

On a not-so-special day during the September of her fourth year at Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley was pacing her dormitory, chewing on her hair, and listening to a beautiful bit of music. On the Hogwarts Express, Hermione had presented her with a CD of Muggle music as an I-missed-you-over-the-summer sort of gift. Ginny had run her fingers across the jewelcase as she read the title to herself: Lisa Loeb – Cake and Pie. She’d looked up at Hermione, touched, but perplexed. And Hermione had said, “It reminded me of you.”

So now Ginny was playing her music on Hermione’s borrowed portable stereo that Hermione had enchanted herself to play without batteries. She had returned from dinner early so that she could fully enjoy it on her own. And, she confessed to herself, she wanted to discover what it was about this music that so reminded Hermione of her. In this change of pattern though, she surprised even herself. As a fourth year student, she did not have much chance to see Harry Potter during the day. They had no classes together and most of his early mornings and evenings were taken up by Quidditch so his appearances in the common room were rare. Meals were precious time that she had to observe him. Seeing as her crush on him was as strong as ever, Ginny had to really search herself to discover why she was wasting this precious time alone. She had always loved to watch him – from up close or from far away, with him aware of her or not (though preferably not). It wasn’t because he was famous either. He’d been in all their lives for five years now, doing both extraordinary and ordinary things. The luster of his fame had faded, but something even better remained: there was something that was so remarkably, undeniably Harry about him. And that was something on which Ginny was an expert. There was the Harry-like manner in which he ate a chocolate frog, the Harry-ness of the way he confided in Ron and Hermione, even the Harry-walk, which Ginny could see coming from a mile away.

This year, Harry had become a more subdued and withdrawn version of himself. It didn’t take a Hogwarts professor to figure out why. Since the events of last year’s Triwizard Tournament, Harry had been brutally and mercilessly beating himself up over the return of the Dark Lord and the death of Cedric Diggory. At that thought, Ginny realized why she had left dinner that night.

Though she loved Harry - as a friend, a surrogate brother, a person - she absolutely hated to see him sad.

She’d seen him upset many times: When Draco said something biting and cruel, when Professor Snape had handed down an especially unfair punishment. Those times were different though. The flash of anger she’d seen in his eyes at those times was fleeting, but somehow stimulated. It seemed as if his eyes hardly flashed at all anymore. They were like the eyes of a corpse – someone who was dead inside – any professional Harry-watcher **LOL could see that. Ginny found herself wishing each day that Malfoy would say something devastatingly nasty – something that Harry couldn’t ignore. Something that would make him seem like his old self again. His green eyes now only glittered when he vowed to fight Voldemort and to defend his friends.

Ginny sighed and fell forward onto her bed. The first two songs on the CD had been pleasant, but did not really seem to connect with her life at all. Maybe she was being overly analytical. Hermione had just heard a few pretty tunes and thought that Ginny would enjoy them. She was not going to find the secret solution to all her life’s problems in here.

And then the third song began. After hearing the first two lines, Ginny abruptly sat up. Then she listened to the rest of the song as still as the Petrified victims of the Chamber of Secrets.

I like things that are so good.

You are so so good.

I like you.

But I am the underdog, I am the last in line.
Don't be the enemy, don't stand in back of me.
Freezing, boring, wondering where I'll be on my birthday.
You kissed me in a dream last night

How could I?
I wouldn't know,

'Cause I am the underdog.
I am the last in line.
Don't be the enemy, don't stand in back of me.
Will you be my friend?
Now I understand, that I more than like you.
But I am the underdog, I am the last in line.
Don't be the enemy, don't stand in back of me.
I am the underdog. I am the last in line.
Don't be the enemy, don't stand in back of me.
I am the underdog. I am the last in line.
Don't be the enemy, don't be the enemy.
I like things that are so good

You are so so good.

She played the song two more times, utterly shocked at how much it paralleled her feelings. By the time it started again for the fourth time, Ginny broke down. She sobbed into her pillow, drenching it with those offending things that her father called “crocodile tears.” She hated when she got like this. It made her feel so weak and girlish. She wanted to be strong, like Hermione. No wonder everyone treated her like a baby. No wonder Harry thought of Ginny as a child. But she couldn’t stop. She cried for two reasons, reasons she could not have predicted. She cried because Harry was “so so good.” He was. Couldn’t he see it anymore? Cedric’s death wasn’t and couldn’t possibly be his fault. It was the fault of Voldemort, and every blindly evil wizard and witch who followed him. And she cried because she wanted to be the one to show this to him, to bring him back from the edge. She cried because her bloody blushing face would prevent him from ever taking her seriously.

The door creaked open and she gasped sharply. There he stood in her doorway.

“Ginny?” he asked quietly, “what’s wrong?”

“Harry!” she scrambled. “What are you doing here? I mean, this is the girls’ dormitory! Why aren’t you at dinner?” She picked herself off her bed and tried to smooth her hair back around her face.

“Well, I wasn’t feeling especially hungry and I kind of wanted to be alone,” he said. “But then I heard you.”

“How did you know it was me?”

“I noticed you weren’t at dinner.”

He noticed? Well, of course he noticed, she thought. There are only so many fourth and fifth year Gryffindors and they all sit together. Anyone would be able to point out which one was missing. He hadn’t been looking for her.

She didn’t answer. She just walked over to the stereo and turned it off.

Harry looked at her with a remarkable amount of concern in his eyes. She didn’t remember ever seeing it before. “What’s wrong then?” he whispered.

“Nothing,” she said, brushing off the concern. “I just like that song.”

“Ok,” he said. He started to walk out the door, and was already halfway through it when he turned around. “You’re not fooling me, you know. People don’t just sob away in their dormitories for no reason. I think Ron said that to me.”

Ginny’s face registered her shock. Harry had been crying in his room? She felt the awful pull of her heartstrings. She knew he wasn’t fine. Her right hand itched to reach out and touch his arm, but she held herself at bay. She blushed furiously at the thought of the physical contact, but as her face was already red from crying, she was sure he couldn’t tell. She silently chided herself for being so presumptuous. He had Ron and Hermione. He didn’t need her.

He seemed to snap back to normal for a moment and gave her brotherly look. “Take care of yourself and I won’t have to go and tell Ron. You don’t want him fussing over you like your mother, I’m sure.” Then he softened again and looked resolutely into her brown eyes. “And Gin?” She loved it when he called her that. “If you ever need to talk…” Then he was gone.

She stood rigidly, listening to his footsteps descending down the stairs. She checked her watch. Everyone would be back soon. At that moment, Ginny made a rather rash and exhilarating decision. She ran to the top of her dormitory staircase, overlooking the common room as Harry walked across it to his.

“Harry?”

He whirled around, looking surprised and maybe the slightest bit pleased.

Ginny sighed. “I do want to talk.”

She didn’t know if she could help him or if he could help her, but she did know one thing. Harry didn’t lie. If he said that she could talk to him, then she could.

“Well,” he said, “everyone will be back soon. Would you like to take a walk on the grounds?”

Her heard leapt into her throat and she vaguely felt her head nod, seemingly independent of her reeling brain. A moonlit walk with Harry Potter and perhaps a real conversation – this was shaping up to be quite some night.

She grabbed her cloak and hurried down the steps to the portrait hole. Harry stepped through first and then offered her his hand. Ginny wondered how he had learnt those manners from those horrible Muggles he called a family. They walked in a companionable silence, thankfully not running into anyone they knew, until they reached the grounds. Harry turned to look at her, again with the brotherly expression, and asked, “So…”

She opened her mouth to speak and then faltered. How did she start this conversation? Though you and I have never really been close before, I know you’re hurting, and I’m hurting because of that, and I think that I would like to try and stop that pain even though there are a hundred more people you’d be more likely to turn to. I am the underdog. I am the last in line. She frowned and turned slightly away. Harry seemed determined, and tried another approach.

“Why were you crying in your room?”

The reminder of the episode brought tears to her eyes again and she knew they were shining when she looked back at Harry. “Oh Harry, it’s just…everything! Everything is chaos in our world and it seems like everyone here is different because of it. I can’t bear to see Cho stare at Cedric’s empty seat in the Hall one more time. I can’t bear to see Hermione and Ron look so unabashedly terrified for you. And Harry, I want to see you smile again. Like you used to before.”

He looked at her incredulously. He seemed to be completely amazed that she had just spoken this many words to him.

Seeing his amazement, Ginny’s instincts were to stop, shut her mouth, and fade back into the woodwork. But she had already thrown herself in, headfirst. She had to finish what she’d started.

“And do you want to know the stupidest thing, Harry? The stupidest thing is that I want to help. But I know that I’m not even involved. Ron is my big brother, so of course he thinks I’m an utter git. Hermione is easier to talk to, you know, since she’s a girl. And I’m nothing but an embarrassment and annoyance to you. Don’t look so surprised. I know I act daft sometimes. The last thing you need is some groupie following you around, trying to be your friend when you have more than you can handle. So it’s you who doesn’t need me the most.”

Except I think that maybe you do.

Harry looked at her with a very serious expression. “I know things are different, Ginny. I hate it too. And I feel different. I feel older. But not in that good way. And if anyone else has noticed that I’m different, I think they’re too afraid to say anything. How can you think that I don’t need you, Gin? I need all the friends I can get right now.” He suddenly looked away and rubbed his nose.

Again, she felt the urge to reach out and touch him, but she rubbed her own arm instead. “I just thought, oh, I don’t know…that silly crush I had on you. It must have been utterly grating for you to have your best friend’s sister always about.” Ginny blushed.

Harry got a funny look on his face and leaned forward a bit, lowering his voice. “Ginny? Can I tell you a secret?”

She nodded silently.

“Last year, before everything happened, I had a terrible crush on Cho Chang. Oh, it sounds so stupid now. There was no chance she would ever stoop to date me of all people. Anyway, I made a complete idiot of myself in front of her multiple times and it was just horrible! But great at the same time, you know, like a rush.”

Ginny couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. It seemed like it was her talking about Harry. He knew what it was like.

“After Cedric died, everything changed, of course. I can’t even look at the girl without feeling these terrible pains. Not good ones like she gave me before. I don’t think I could ever feel that way about her again.”

Ginny’s hand shot out to hold Harry’s. Harry looked deep into her eyes for a second and then suddenly, as if he had suddenly realized something very important, he dropped her hand and looked away.

“Um, Gin, we should probably, um, get back, don’t you think?” He stood up and started to walk back towards the castle.

Ginny was flabbergasted. What had just happened?

This time the silence they held through the castle was not so companionable – it was awkward. It seemed to take forever to get back to their dormitory. All the while, Ginny’s mind was reeling and chastising itself.

I should NEVER have held his hand! What was I thinking? Way to scare him away, Gin – and he was so close to letting you in.

After what seemed like hours, they finally reached the painting of the Fat Lady. Ginny stared straight ahead, still thinking of the mistake she had just made. Her mind jumped back to the present when she realized that they had been standing by the door for a few seconds and Harry hadn’t said the password. Before she could say it herself, Harry, with a determined look on his face, quickly stepped toward her and planted a short kiss right on her lips. It was chaste and sweet and everything she could have hoped for. But before she had time to even respond with any understandable discourse, Harry stepped back, said, “Quirtledrum” and the door swung open.

The common room was full of students doing their homework, playing chess, and chatting. Some said a “hello” to the two when they walked in, and some didn’t seem to realize that they had. Harry muttered a hasty “goodbye” to Ginny and practically bolted up his dormitory stairs. She couldn’t believe it. He had seemed so nervous and well, shy. Ginny slowly walked up her own set of stairs, in complete awe of what had just occurred.

When she arrived in her room, still dazed, she turned on the stereo, plopped on her bed and listened to the music that wafted out of the speakers with a delirious smile on her face.

She's got a boyfriend
All of a sudden
She's never had one before
She's looking for the thumbs-up
When they're walking through the door

She's showing him off
By making him talk
She's putting his hand in his pocket
It shows on her face
What she doesn't say
What she doesn't say


You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all

She doesn't know that we know
That we've been here before
We always pay attention
When she walks through the door
It's the clothes that she chooses
It's the words that she uses


You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all

She's trying hard to pretend
That it's not really happening
But we can see her smiling from afar
We don't see her much anymore
But we can hear her whistling
As she walks to her car


You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all
You don't know me
You don't know me at all

Hermione continued folding her clothes and smiled contentedly and knowingly to herself.

“So Gin, how do you like the CD?”

//
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