Summary: Harry was many things, but a master of subtlety was not one of them.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers: Through HBP
Disclaimer: JK Rowling's, not mine!
Original story: A Really Bad Idea by snorkackcatcher
Notes: Thanks to loony4lupin for beta-ing!
A Really Bad Idea (Perfectly Good Reasons)
"Don't push me, please, Dean," Ginny said as she started to climb through the portrait hole. It was such a little thing, but he did it every time, and it was suddenly really annoying. "You're always doing that, I can get through perfectly well on my own."
"But I didn't even touch you." He stopped just inside the common room and turned back, frowning.
"We're the only people here, Dean."
He looked around as if trying to find someone to blame. "But—"
"Oh, this is so typical. All you do lately is annoy me and make excuses!"
"No, look. I think it's better if we just call this off."
"You're breaking up with me over this?"
"It's not over this. Don't you get it?"
"No, I don't!"
Suddenly Ginny was done. She pushed past Dean, and fled to her room, where he couldn't follow her.
She curled up in the window seat, still angry. The grey, windswept sky reflected her mood perfectly. What had gotten into her?
She and Dean had been snapping at each other a lot lately, and maybe the portrait-hole thing had just been the last straw, but something still seemed off. Ginny knew she had a temper, but most times she lost it, the heat of the moment swept her away. This time, she had known she was being unreasonable. She just hadn't been able to stop.
Ginny tried to keep everyone's spirits up after they learned Harry would miss the Quidditch match. It was hard to do until she, Ron, and Katie went into Hogsmeade to gather supplies. As they stumbled along the secret passage back to the castle, bumping into each other and the levitating crates of butterbeer, even Ron started laughing. By the time they'd smuggled the drinks up to the common room, it didn't seem like an utter calamity to play without Harry.
He came in as they were arranging the crates, looking like the sky had all last week—like a storm cloud about to pour rain on them all. "Are these for the celebrations if we beat Ravenclaw on Saturday?"
"Yeah," Ron said. "Or for drowning our sorrows if we lose."
Harry sighed. "Pity. I don't suppose I'll be able to come and enjoy it either way."
Oh, for Merlin's sake. "We'll save you a bottle or two, Harry," Ginny said, aggressively projecting cheer. "In fact, let's have one now just in case Snape keeps you all day!" She went up on tiptoe to pull down two bottles, and passed them over.
"Um, thanks," Harry said, almost fumbling them, and catching them just in time. "I'll just get some, er, glasses, shall I?"
Hermione looked up from her reading and "tsk"ed quietly. Ginny didn't care if she thought they were silly, so long as she didn't have an attack of propriety and turn them in.
Harry still looked uncomfortable as he handed Ginny the glass of butterbeer. He was many things, but a master of subtlety was not one of them. She wondered what he was up to.
Katie raised her glass. "To Gryffindor!"
"To Gryffindor!" they all echoed.
"And to kicking Ravenclaw's arse!" Ron said.
Hermione "tsk"ed again.
"I'll drink to that," Ginny said loyally, and drained half her glass.
"Whoa, Ginny, take it easy!" said Harry.
"What? I can handle it." That Harry, such a prude sometimes. She wouldn't have minded helping him loosen up.
No, no, no, she told herself. You're over that, remember?
But, it seemed, she wasn't as over it as she had thought. She found herself daydreaming in class, drawing hearts on the edges of the parchment one moment, and scratching them out the next. All her perfectly good reasons for giving up pursuing Harry started to seem flimsy. It wasn't entirely surprising that her feelings should sneak up on her again. Over the last few years, she had gone her own way, but that hadn't kept her from feeling jealous of Cho. She'd even felt annoyed with Parvati two years ago, though she knew she'd had a better time at the ball with Neville than Parvati had with Harry.
It just felt strange. Why now? Maybe it was true that you never forgot your first love.
Love? She set her quill aside and stared in Professor Binns's direction, not hearing a word of the lecture. She'd long since decided that her crush on Harry had been just that. A paralyzing crush, sure, but still just a little girl's infatuation born of hero worship and youth. She'd called it love at the time, but had later laughed at her own silliness. Why was her memory suddenly trying to paint those feelings in a different light?
After classes, she went into the common room, where Harry was slouched over his books, looking miserable. Poor Harry.
She'd usually be thinking he should lay off the dramatics. Part of her was thinking that. The part saying Poor Harry was just louder.
She thought about the strange look she'd seen in his eyes as he'd handed her the butterbeer, and her sudden inability to focus in class. She thought about how it felt less like her own thoughts distracting her, and more like... someone else's, in her head.
He wouldn't dare.
Harry hunched his shoulders more, as if feeling the weight of Ginny's attention. She sat quickly in the closest chair to keep herself from going over there—whether to comfort or accuse, she wasn't sure. She felt pulled in two directions at once. Harry looked up, and gave her a wavery sort of smile. It was ridiculously cute, and Ginny couldn't help but smile back.
"All right?" she said.
He nodded, and she felt better, but she could still hear that whisper in the back of her mind, saying Something's wrong about this.
She got up again and went over to him. He shifted the parchment pieces and books around nervously, and Ginny suddenly wondered if he was aware of her as she was of him. She wasn't even close enough to touch him, but she felt shivery and warm all over.
"I, um. Your hair looks nice today," Harry said.
"Thank you." He was nervous. Ginny found herself reaching for her braid and quickly put her hand back down. "You have a lot of work, huh?"
"Yeah, since Saturday's a total loss."
"Oh, you'll get it done." She leaned closer, as if to casually look at the books, and Harry looked even more jittery.
They talked for a bit longer, though Ginny couldn't have said about what. She thought, with an inward smile, that Harry probably couldn't have either. She went upstairs to put her things away before dinner, and had a strange feeling that some part of her mind had asked a question she had not answered. It couldn't have been that important, though, could it?
It was lucky, really, that Harry had to miss the match. Without his distracting presence, and with the fresh cool air sweeping her agitated mind clean, Ginny flew better than ever.
Not only did they win, they won by enough. The celebration started the moment the team touched down. Ron picked Ginny up and spun her around, then tried to do the same to Katie, who laughed in his face. He cracked up too, and led the way back to the common room.
Thoughts of Harry returned right away, as if they'd been waiting for her in the tower. Ginny looked around at the celebrating mass. Dean caught her eye and mouthed "Good game," and she smiled and nodded. Ron started going back over all his saves, with commentary, to Hermione, who listened with every appearance of rapt attention.
The portrait hole swung open, and Harry stepped in, his face instantly lighting up when he saw them all. People called the score and a jumble of other numbers at him.
Jubilance, lingering anger, and a painful sympathy tangled up in Ginny's mind, and she pushed her way through the throng, barely seeing Harry's eyes widen before she threw her arms around him.
Harry let out a breath that might have been a laugh and might have been a surprised gasp, and kissed her, arms tight around her, one hand against her face, as passionate and gentle at once as she'd always imagined. The sounds of celebration receded to a dull murmur, and all of her wanted this, even if most of her would never have dared.
The world faded back in around them as they moved apart, someone's wolf whistle still echoing.
Harry blushed, and tugged Ginny by the hand toward the portrait hole.
They walked around the lake, and even the weather seemed to be conspiring to create a perfect day. The breeze, warmer now, pushed Ginny's hair into and out of her face, making her laugh, chasing away the idea that there was something strange about all this happening now.
If Harry needed her, if he wanted to be with her at last... He looked over at her, and she smiled. They were together, he was acting as if all the stress of the last few days had evaporated, and his hand was warm and comforting in hers—did anything else really matter?
The next little while flew by in a happy daze for Ginny. Her doubts—silly, anyway, right?—fled. Harry still had detention every Saturday, so their time together had the added spice of stolen moments.
She should have known it was too good to last.
The war, the whole horrible world, came rushing back at them like a nightmare from which no one could wake and no amount of Felix Felicis could fix. A night of confusion, panic, fighting, screams; all underlaid with desperate worry. And Harry, appearing out of nowhere to save her, but she hadn't known, no one had, that this battle was already lost.
The last morning, the morning of the funeral, Ginny's feet automatically carried her to the Great Hall at breakfast time, but motion deserted her then, and she sat numbly.
She blinked when a plate and goblet appeared in her field of vision.
"You need to eat," Harry said. He looked utterly drained and resigned. Ginny rested a hand on his arm, but couldn't think of a single thing to say. "Go on," Harry said.
She took the plate and pumpkin juice, and was able to drink, but the food could not have been less appealing.
Harry watched her, and when she'd finished drinking, he nodded. "You'll feel better now. With at least something in your system, I mean." He started to reach out to touch her hair, but let his hand fall just short. "I have to go."
Ginny watched him leave the Hall. She did feel less frozen, less cloudy. She grabbed the goblet and looked into it, but, of course, it was empty and couldn't tell her anything.
Something had shifted, like a small earthquake in her mind. Once the ground settled, she tried to see things objectively.
Harry wasn't the shining, unattainable boy he'd seemed when Ginny was eleven, and he wasn't the perfect boyfriend she'd thought in her happy daze. He screwed up sometimes. He could be a wanker sometimes, just like anyone else could. He was reckless and noble and overdramatic and sweet, and she really did love him, all of him.
The centaurs and merpeople finished paying their respects, and Ginny looked over at Harry, heart full and aching. So many endings today. Harry would do what he thought was right, no matter how it hurt him. He would piss her off trying to make sure she loved him, then try to make it easy for her to let him go. She couldn't summon anger any more.
"Ginny, listen..." Harry said, and she knew what was coming, and listened to what he needed to say, and let him walk away, to show that she could.
But Ginny had things she needed to say, too, so after hugging Neville and Luna goodbye, and seeing that Hermione had finished talking to Harry, she walked down to the lake shore to intercept him.
"Now you listen," she said. "I know what it feels like when my mind isn't my own. Did you really think you needed to give me a potion to make me love you?"
She smiled, despite the tears prickling in her eyes again. "Harry, I knew all along. You go, and do what you have to, and win. When it's over, I'll be waiting."
After all, they both had perfectly good reasons.