|SIYE Time:15:09 on 17th July 2018|
Genres: Angst, Drama
Story is Complete
Summary: During a restless night before the fire, Ginny is surprised to sense Harry watching her. One-shot.
Hitcount: Story Total: 6288
Disclaimer: Almost everything belongs to J.K. Rowling. =)
She could smell sweat. And blood. She tried to swallow, but choked on the dust. She needed to get up. She needed to push to her hands and knees, and stand. But she couldn’t move. Her legs were shaking against the dirt. Was she breathing? Her chest felt heavy and sore. Her stomach hurt. It hurts…
Screaming. There was screaming. And blood. So much blood this time…
A thud. Someone had fallen. She wanted to open her eyes. Needed to see…couldn’t see…
She needed to get up. Why couldn’t she move? Her name. She heard her name. Merlin — get up!
Ginny woke but her eyes remained closed. She felt the roughness of the couch beneath her body, and the crackling heat from the fire. Keeping herself still, she concentrated on her breathing — panting lightly, silently. For long minutes, she understood nothing but the silence; thought of nothing but the darkness. She wasn’t disoriented…but she was tired, and slightly depressed.
Slowly, her lashes parted. She watched the flicker of firelight on the ceiling, tracing the patterns with her gaze. Her lips were dry; she wanted a glass of water. Turning her head slightly, she looked about the dimly lit room, wondering if a quick trip to the kitchen would disturb anybody. They all needed their sleep. She doubted if one person in the room had slept a full night in the two days since the last battle.
Lucky — they’d been lucky. That was the mantra lately. It had been unexpected, short and bloody. Not everyone had walked away. But they would all breathe and heal, and live to do it all over again next time.
Ginny ran her palm over her middle. The bones were knit; they were whole once more but she could still feel the pain, still remembered the sensation of knowing something was wrong; still held the smell of other people’s blood in her throat.
She curled her fingers, clenched her knuckles, and watched her nails press into the skin. She had to fight — she wanted to fight. Their future wasn’t free; it wasn’t certain. They would have to struggle for every precious moment.
And he wasn’t going to do this alone.
She’d decided that a long time ago.
But had any of them really been prepared for this?
She watched her brother’s sleeping face. The sight of Ron would always make her feel a little better, no matter how bad the situation or how much of a prat he could be. Ginny shook her head in faint amusement as his neck tilted further back against the arm of their dad’s chair. Mouth dropping open, he let out a loud, satisfied snore. She rolled her eyes. In an environment of intense competition, Ron always had managed to be the most obnoxious while unconscious. Still…for all that, she knew he’d be awake again in a few hours. Watching over her. Watching over Hermione and Harry. It had become a routine of sorts…a sad, sickening routine that they would gather here - in the cluttered living room - for the days following a battle, and they would live through the nights. Together.
Her gaze switched to Hermione. Stroppy, brilliant, brave and increasingly beautiful Hermione. The other witch didn’t sleep as…enthusiastically as Ron did. She was submerged in her blankets, breathing steadily and deeply. There was, Ginny mused, something rather intense about the way that Hermione rested. As if that intimidating brain never slowed down, never stopped pondering and unknotting and protecting.
They were still friends, the two of them, and still determinedly in denial. It was a frustrating and endearing thing to watch — Ron and Hermione falling in love. She didn’t despair that they would forever be the almost, but never quite, couple, though. She knew it would happen eventually. Not like it was fate — more a force of nature. An inevitable, chaotic, powerful collision.
She just hoped that when it did happen, it would be because of something small and insignificant.
When it could so easily be something awful, and irreversible.
His green eyes were closed, his softer snores rhythmic. He was hunched into the smaller sofa, thin arms wrapped about his torso. She was surprised to see him asleep but accepted the tense stance with regret. Ginny had never seen anyone look so guarded, so entirely un-relaxed, when they were unaware of the fact. It was horrible, really, that he couldn’t even have respite during the night. She worried; she worried constantly about Harry, and how he would be, how he would cope, after this was all over. It wasn’t something she could help, nor was it something she felt ashamed of. Not anymore.
Harry shifted in his sleep, mumbled a little under his breath, but her eyes didn’t flicker. Despite his skinny body and gaunt face, he looked so solid lying there, so reassuringly real and alive, that she couldn’t look away.
For long hours, with the fire’s heat on her face and the blessed sound of breathing in her ears, she watched him, until the gradual droop of her eyelids forced her back into the unfulfilling blackness of sleep.
The next time she woke it was still, to her consternation, not yet dawn. There was a certain relief and renewed energy that came with each fresh morning. It was in the quiet, and the solitude, that thoughts had time to fester.
Someone was close to her.
The realization was slow to form but quickly jolted Ginny into full consciousness. Someone was standing there, and they were watching her. She didn’t look — didn’t, for some reason, want to announce her state of waking - but she could feel the weight of the gaze.
It wasn’t a threatening presence.
Without even meaning to, she’d trained herself to know the difference. Survival tactics. It was a chilling thought, and one she had no intention of dwelling upon.
Of course, she knew he meant her no harm; she just wasn’t sure what he was doing. She’d been so aware of him for so long; she was used to anticipating his movements and reactions…something she wasn’t sure he’d appreciate, were he aware of it.
It was Harry; apparently awake, although Ginny had no idea if anyone else was. She didn’t feel she could open her eyes to check.
She doubted it, though. Even though she couldn’t see his face, those incredibly expressive eyes, the intensity was coming off him in waves, straining the air and stirring her skin. She was annoyed by the urge to shiver.
Harry would never let anyone see him like that; would never look at her like that if he knew someone was watching.
He hadn’t moved from his spot, but he was restless. She listened to the sound of his clothes rustling. He wasn’t calm — he was breathing through his mouth, heavily and unevenly, and obviously struggling to remain quiet.
She could smell him, faintly musky and lemony…with a hint of the talcum powder that her mum had put with his Christmas present, determined to coddle him as only a mother can. Ginny’s eyes stung. The scent of a man…and the small reminder of simple comforts, of a babyhood he needed to remember.
Tense and oddly upset, she willed him to step back. To go back to the tiny couch he’d stubbornly insisted on taking — as if she wasn’t five foot nothing anyway — and to put things to normal.
‘Normal’ wasn’t ideal. ‘Normal’ was bloody horrible, at times, but it was all she felt she could cope with right now.
It was ridiculous. It was absurd. All he was doing was standing there, looking at her, and she couldn’t bear it. It physically hurt not to move.
He shifted suddenly, coming closer. Her heart twinged as she felt the movement of her rumpled covers, as awkward hands inexpertly pulled the blanket higher, tucking it gently round her shoulders.
She wasn’t cold, but the gesture was just so unexpected…and yet so Harry that Ginny could have cried.
And then he touched her.
Her mind froze in shock. He was touching her. Chapped fingers gently stirred her hair, sliding against her head, whisper-soft. He lifted the strands away from her face, smoothing them back slowly. Ginny struggled not to…to do…she didn’t know what. She didn’t know what to think. Except that his hand felt so lovely…stroking her cheek now. There was a…fascination about his movements; as if he couldn’t control his actions, and yet didn’t want to.
It was a particularly offensive snore from Ron, and an answering snuffle from Hermione, that shattered the moment, although Ginny suspected that Harry would have come back to himself before too long anyway.
As it was, his hand withdrew and he stood back sharply, releasing an audible sound.
She heard him retreat, heard him crawl back beneath his own blankets and knew that he would be blushing, probably with a mix of horror and mortification.
But she could still feel his eyes on her.
And in the time before the dawn touched the window and life began again, Ginny wondered.
* * * * *
It was noisy in the Great Hall, but there was laughter amid the pale faces and serious tones.
Hope was holding on against the fear.
Gleaming eyes watched the chaotic scene silently. One eyebrow rose slightly at the antics of Hufflepuff’s new first-years; the corner of a mouth twitched as Ron Weasley began a loud Quidditch commentary, gesturing wildly with both hands and seeming to forget the mug of soup in his right.
It was good to have the students back.
His gaze rested on Ginny Weasley, sitting backwards on her bench and chattering easily to a grinning Terry Boot. Her fluttering hands shaped what appeared to be a quaffle. Quidditch-mania always had run strong in that family…
If young Boot appreciated her enthusiasm, however, another did not. Thoughtfully, he looked toward the boy sitting quietly, pretending to listen to Hermione Granger’s lecture. Harry’s attention was clearly on Ginny. And the tightly clenched glass of pumpkin juice did little to hide his scowl.
As she turned back to the table and picked up her fork, Ginny glanced up. Brown eyes met green, and locked. She bit her lip. Harry’s gaze dropped to her mouth then quickly darted back to hers. It was if they were speaking: as if a silent, private conversation was being exchanged over the crowd and the commotion.
If he didn’t miss his guess, things were about to become very interesting indeed…
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