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Chapter 11: Ginny Weasley: Growing Strong
Ginny Weasley: Growing Strong
“Listen Ginny,” Hermione said to me, “you have got to get on with it. You have to be more comfortable around him. Start going out with other guys. Act like it doesn’t matter that he’s around. Eventually he’ll start to notice that you don’t like him as much as you used to. He’ll realize you’ve grown up and aren’t just Ron’s little sister anymore.”
I thought about what Hermione said as she looked at me, waiting for my expression. Wanting advice on what to do about Harry, I had come to Hermione. She was the only person who knew that my feelings for Harry were more than a mere infatuation. I didn’t know how to handle the feelings that had tormented me for the last three years.
“Maybe you’re right.” I murmured to Hermione. “Maybe I should. I might figure out I don’t like him as much as I used to. I might even find someone I like more. The worst that can happen is he’ll never notice me, which is no worse than it is now.”
“Exactly.” Hermione confirmed my concerns.
I left feeling better about the situation than I had in a long time. Hermione was right. I needed to get on with my life and quit being so available. I was the annoying little sister and that’s not what I wanted to be to Harry. It was time to grow up and be my own person with, or more apparently without, Harry. The time had come to show Harry Potter what kind of woman I could be.
That’s when my entire life began to change.
It was the beginning of fourth year for me. I had taken Hermione’s advice, some could say, too well. Now and then I felt that I had taken it too the extreme, but I figured out that it was a lot easier to forget about Harry if I kept my mind focused on other things and other people.
Our first night back, Hermione and I sat and talked about the summer and about how happy we were to be back. The boys hadn’t made it back from the beginning of the year feast, so we had free reign to talk about them as well.
“You seem to be getting the hang of going out with other guys.” Hermione commented. “It’s like Harry is just some other guy in school.”
“Harry who?” I said with a small laugh.
Hermione smiled. “That’s more like it.”
“So, to change the subject,” I nudged her with a smile, “has my dingbat brother opened his eyes to your feelings?”
“No. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve forgiven him completely for last year.” Hermione gave me a smug, unforgiving look. Her stubborn streak could never be broken.
The portrait of the fat lady opened up, and Harry and Ron climbed in and Ron collapsed into the armchair in front of me. Hermione gave me a knowing look as Harry sat down beside her.
“What are you two girls talking about?” Ron eyed us curiously.
“None of your business.” I said, rolling my eyes at my oblivious brother. “I’m going to go upstairs though. I’m tired and I want to get unpacked. I wanted to see a ---friend, before I go to bed, too.” I winked at Hermione and took one passing glance at Harry as I hurried upstairs. I caught Ron’s suddenly reddened face, getting angrier by the second. His expression grew worse with my wink toward Hermione; he knew it probably had to do with some guy.
I lay on my bed later thinking about Harry. My secluded four poster bed was the only place I allowed my thoughts to turn to him. Walking around the castle that night, I heard a lot of hushed whispers about Harry and what the Ministry of Magic was saying about him. Those whispers did nothing to me compared to the pain I felt when I overheard Cho Chang talking to her friends about how cute Harry was this year.
“Did you see him looking at you, Cho?” I heard one giggle.
“Yeah,” another one of her friends chimed in, “he couldn’t take his eyes off you.”
Cho’s smile lit up her face, and the meaning of it hit me right in the gut. Last year it was easier to take, because Cho had hooked up with Cedric Diggory. This year, there was no Cedric, and nothing else to stand in the way.
Even though I dated other boys, the fact that Harry fancied another girl still bothered me. Every time I saw him and Cho together, I felt like crawling in a dark hole somewhere. Cho and Harry started spending time together. They walked back and forth to class together. Harry didn’t really make time for anybody except for Ron and Hermione, so when I wanted to find out how he was, I had to talk to Hermione.
As the weeks dragged on, I became less and less aware of how absent Harry had been to me. He used to be around all the time, hanging out with Ron or after the Quidditch matches. Now Cho was the one waiting for him. Thankfully, I had finally found a distraction of my own. To my surprise, I had fallen head over heels.
I walked down to breakfast a few weeks before Christmas to meet my boyfriend Stephen. Stephen was tall and had wavy brown hair. He had dark brown eyes that you could see your future in and a smile that lit up his face. He was also a member of Slytherin House-- a fact my family, now knowing my secret, was furious over.
I met Stephen in our Transfiguration class. When class first started, I wasn’t happy at having to share it with the Slytherins. Then, on the day we were trying to change our teacups into mice, he used the wrong spell and ended up exploding his, sending sparks in my direction, burning my robes and nearly missing my flesh. He looked through his eyelashes when he apologized, turning on his charm and begging me to forgive him. So when he asked me out, there was no way I could resist. Suddenly Stephen was all I could think about, and I hoped he felt the same about me.
As I reached the last step of the stairway before getting to the Great Hall, my eyes swept the expansive room for him. I finally spotted him standing by the wall outside the doors, talking to a girl, engaged in an intimate conversation. She was leaning against the wall with a radiant smile that made her face glow, her cheeks rosy pink. His arm was above her left shoulder and he was looking very confident and proud of himself. I remembered that look. That was the look he wore when he realized that he had had an effect on me. Stephen whispered something in her ear and she giggled.
I cleared my throat, and they both looked up. The girl’s face went white as she scrambled out from behind Stephen, heading out of sight. My face flushed scarlet, and I grew angrier by the second.
“Hey Sweetheart!” He turned on his sweet and innocent voice. I stood before him with my arms crossed over my chest.
“What was that all about?” I confronted him.
“What, me talking with Carrie? Oh that was nothing. I was telling her about a boy in my year that likes her.”
“Is that right? Cause that’s not what it looked like to me.”
“Would I lie to you, honey?” He questioned, his dark eyes staring back at me, pleading for me to believe him.
“I guess not.” I said against my better judgment. He pulled me against him and I wrapped my all too willing arms around him, though my intuition knew I should still be mad.
“There now, see, everything is okay.” He whispered into my ear and chills ran straight through my body and my heart melted.
This happened more than I wanted to admit. Steven seemed to constantly be in compromising situations with other girls. When I would confront Stephen, he would always tell me that I was making a big deal out of nothing. When I wouldn’t let the subject drop he would get angry and stalk off in the opposite direction, telling me I was being stupid and to get over it. Then I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake keeping on at him. He was right, I was overreacting and there wasn’t anything going on with the other girls.
The next few weeks went by just like the last few. I felt like a second hand girlfriend and Stephen only paid attention to me when it was convenient for him. Every time I turned around Stephen was showing some other girl attention, always telling me it wasn’t what I thought. Anger built in me more and more as the days passed. My fears and concerns were pushed off by Stephen and I felt lonely, sad because I was hurting him, accusing him of spending time with other girls. I didn’t know how to deal with it and soon I shut completely down.
“Ginny, I don’t know what’s wrong with you and it’s worrying me. Please let me help.” Hermione volunteered.
“I don’t need any help Hermione,” I said, speaking firmly, “I’m fine, really.” I smiled at her with the best fake smile I could manage. I didn’t feel it in my heart though. I turned around and walked toward the portrait hole to leave the common room, Hermione's mouth wide with shock. As I was leaving, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harry enter the common room from the boy’s dormitory.
"What's going on with her?" He questioned Hermione.
"I'm not sure; I think something bad is going on...." Hermione’s voice was shut off with the closing of the portrait to the common room.
I walked slowly around the castle that night, thinking about how messed up things were for me right now. Two years ago, even last year, I was pining away for someone who didn't like me, someone who thought I was still a little girl. Thinking back to when he saved me from Tom Riddle and his diary, I realized again, that he did that because I was his best mate’s sister, not because he actually liked me. With this reconfirmation, I felt even worse. I walked around the corner, heading in the direction for the library and that's when I saw them. Stephen and Carrie were standing in the corner, lips locked in a full on kiss. They both heard the gasp as it escaped my lips. Stephen looked up at me, the lie already forming in his eyes.
“Don’t even tell me I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing here.” I screamed at him.
“Ginny, honey, let me explain.” He pleaded with me, but I could see he was becoming angry.
“NO! I don’t want to hear it!”
“Well it’s not like you deserve any better.” He spat maliciously. “You’re going out with me. And everyone knows it. Can’t you just be happy with that? You want to spend all your time with me. You are nothing to anyone here, least of all me. Do you think any other guy around this castle would want you? No. You have friends, my friends, because they take pity on you.”
“I have friends,” I yelled back, “Hermione is my best friend.”
“And why do you think that brainiac is friends with you? You are the sister to the guy she wants to go out with. What makes you think she really is interested in you?”
“Because she’s concerned about me.” I whispered more to myself than to him, feeling defeated. I slid down, crumpled in the floor.
“That’s what I thought.” Stephen was standing over me, looking into my eyes. I could see the hatred there, but did not want to believe it. I loved him and I knew he loved me. This was all just a huge misunderstanding.
“A lot of people care about me,” I muttered in a last ditch effort to make him understand.
“Really, you think you know. Why don’t you ask Harry Potter?”
“Stephen, please.” I pleaded, tears already flowing down my cheeks. He knew that would hurt. It’s like every word was meant to be a dagger, sent straight to my heart.
Stephen stepped over me. Carrie, snickered as she walked behind him.
I sat there for I don’t know how long, crying to myself, wondering what I had done to deserve this.
There was no way that I could go back to the common room right now, Hermione would be there, along with Harry and my brother, all wanting to know what was going on, why I was crying. I really didn't feel like dealing with any of them right now. I decided to go down to the lake to sit on the shore and just think, needing to be alone.
Two hours later, I crawled back through the common room portrait hole. To my dismay, Harry and Ron were still there, working on homework that they obviously hadn't finished yet. I knew my face had to be red from the crying I'd done in the last two hours, but there wasn't much I could do about it now. I was here and they had already seen me. My brother was the first to speak; Harry just sat there looking at me with shock on his face.
"Ginny, what's wrong with you? Why have you been crying? Who's hurt you? It’s Stephen, right? I’ll rip him to shreds!" Ron was utterly furious at the look on my face, though as he wrapped me into a big brotherly hug, I knew he wasn't upset with me. His voice suddenly became much more gentle. "I'm sorry, that wasn't meant toward you."
"I know Ron. I just want to go to bed, please." I pleaded. "I've had a hard night and I just want to forget it."
"Okay, sis. Go get some sleep, we'll talk tomorrow."
As I looked up at my brother I wondered what had come over him. There was no way that I could tell him what really happened. He would kill Stephen, and right now, even though I didn't care what happened to Stephen, I didn't want my brother in the middle of it.
Starting off toward the dormitory, I heard Harry call my name. Before, I would have loved to hear him call my name. Tonight it meant nothing, and I continued walking without looking back.
I woke up the next morning, a renewed hope in me. Though there was a nagging feeling there, something I knew I would have to face. Stephen. He would be there and I hoped things would be better.
Walking down to the Great Hall for breakfast, I saw Stephen. He was waiting by the door to the Great Hall, no one with him this time. I smiled instantly when I saw him. When he looked at me, my smile fell, as there was no smile beaming back at me.
“Hey Ginny,” he said, his fingers encircling my arm, guiding me to the door and leading me out to the lake, “we need to talk.” Even if I hadn’t wanted to go with him, I would have had no choice. But I did, and he knew that.
“Okay,” was all I could come up with.
We walked silently until we reached the lake, there was no one in sight. My mind flitted back to last night and I started to worry; however, when I looked into his eyes I saw no contempt and my heart suddenly began to rise.
“Listen, I’m sorry about the other night. It just irritated me and I felt like you were following me around. I didn’t understand why you were there.”
“I wasn’t even looking for you,” I explained, trying to keep my voice level so he couldn’t hear the nervousness in it, “I was just wandering around because I felt bad and didn’t want to be with everybody else. You know, my friends?” I finished with a little sting in my voice. I saw a flicker of anger flash through his eyes but it left quickly.
“Come on Ginny, you know I didn’t mean that. You know I was just angry.”
“I know you didn’t, I’m sorry for bringing it back up.” I wanted to ask him about the kiss, but I was afraid of pushing him back over the edge.
“Look, just don’t go walking around the castle at night. I don’t want people thinking you’re psycho or anything. If you start following me around, they will. And I don’t want people to think bad about you.” For some reason something still didn’t seem right, but I was happy that he was being sweet again. My heart rested a little and I breathed a sigh of relief.
That night, I was awoken by Professor McGonagall, knocking on the door to our dormitory.
“Ginny, I need you to come with me please.” She eyed me nervously, apparently seeing the sweat that was pouring down my face and the frightened look on my face.
“What’s going on Professor?” I asked feeling more suffocated by the second.
“Something has happened to your father and Professor Dumbledore wants to see you in his office immediately.”
“Is he okay?” I questioned, now panicked.
“We aren’t sure yet.”
I rushed after Professor McGonagall, every footfall making a noise that reverberated loudly along the empty corridor. I felt that the sound was magnified by my mind throbbing, aching to know what was going on. We were quickly in front of the gargoyle which led the way to Professor Dumbledore’s office.
“Quickly, Ginny.” Professor McGonagall’s voice boomed in my head.
I followed her into Dumbledore’s office.
As soon as I found out, I ran to find Stephen. I knew I would have to leave soon. I found him walking along the corridor with another Slytherin girl. But I didn’t care.
“Stephen,” I hollered down the hall. He stopped but didn’t turn for a minute, until I caught up with him. The girl had walked on without Stephen. “I’m sorry but I had something important to tell you. My father’s been attacked and they don’t know that he’s going to live. I’m leaving tonight to go home for Christmas.”
He slowly turned, contempt in his eyes. “What did I tell you about following me around the castle?” He spat.
“I needed to tell you about my father.” I stated, disbelief flowing from me.
“I don’t care about your father! I told you not to come and find me. I don’t care what’s happening with you or your Muggle loving, blood traitor, father. You don’t come looking for me!”
Before I could say anything else, he turned on his heels and left. I started after him, but then stopped, my own feet refusing to move further.
I helped mom with dad over they Holidays both at St. Mungo’s and at 12 Grimmauld Place. I didn't pay much attention to Ron and the others. Ron was so consumed with what happened with dad, that he didn't badger me about the ordeal with Stephen. While I was helping mom, she and I started talking back and forth about things going on at school. She was concerned about Harry, with all that was going on with him. She quickly became aware that I didn't want to talk about Harry, so she left those unanswered questions for another time. She asked me about Stephen. At first, I didn't want to say anything, but I felt a connection with my mom for the first time in years.
“Well, I don’t know. I just overburden him at times I guess.” I started out.
“What do you mean, ‘overburden him’?” My mother asked.
“He tells me I follow him around too much.”
“He doesn’t want to spend time with you?”
“No he does,” I corrected her, but then tears welled up in my eyes.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” My mom pulled me into her arms. I felt an odd comfort in her embrace.
“Mom, I found him kissing someone else. But he told me that that I shouldn’t have been following him around. He told me that the only friends I had were his friends and that’s because they take pity on me. He told me that the only reason Hermione is my friend is because she wants Ron. He told me that I didn’t deserve him and that I deserved to have him treat me that way. Then he found me the next day. He was so sweet. He told me that he was sorry but that he didn’t want people to talk about me. He only wanted to look after me. I didn’t even ask him why he was kissing someone else. I didn’t want him to be mad at me again. Mom, what am I doing wrong?”
She held me while I cried, her arms cradling me like I was a little girl again. Her little girl, as I knew I would always be.
“Ginny, now I want you to listen to me. I know that I am your mother and you probably think I don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about. But you need to understand something. I was once where you are. I had a boyfriend who I thought hung the moon. I wanted to be around him all the time. He wanted to be around me when it was convenient to him. Then I met your father. Your father always wanted me around. He was proud to show me off in front of his friends and he wanted to be with me, even if it meant being away from his friends. Your father always took my feelings into consideration first. We didn’t always agree, but even when we fought, I knew I was still wanted. I didn’t have to worry that he was going to leave me. I didn’t have to go to bed wondering what I would face the next day. To your father, I was the most important person in the world," she informed me, "And I still am, Ginny. As your father is to me."
Then I suddenly realized that all those, not quite right, feelings I had, they did have a meaning. Stephen didn’t care about me. He didn’t feel for me like I did for him at all. He was using me. I deserved so much more. I wanted someone to love me and want to be with me. Not someone that didn’t want to be seen with me, or only wanted me when it was convenient. I didn’t want to have to share and from now on, I wasn’t going to.
School started the following week. I hated leaving mom for the first time since I’d started school. Dad was feeling better and he looked better. He hugged me tightly before I left. I could tell in that hug that mom had spoken with him. But he never let on that he knew anything. He only told me that he loved me. Mom drew me into a big hug before I got onto the Hogwart's Express at Platform 9 3/4.
"Remember what I said, Ginny," she whispered, "You deserve someone that will be like you're father has been to me. Someone that will appreciate you, care for you above all else."
"Thanks mom, I love you." I said aloud, not caring who heard me.
As I was getting on the train, I saw Stephen out of the corner of my eye, walking toward me. Right behind him was my family, Harry, and Hermione, all watching with anticipation. I blocked them out and looked up at Stephen as he came forward.
"How are you Ginny?" He asked, light dancing in his eyes, knowing he'd get me with the power he'd always had over me.
"Just fine Stephen, how are you?" I stared him straight in the eye, my mouth wavering into a small smile.
Stephen raised his arm, as if he was going to wrap it around me. Quickly, I escaped his embrace, as I ducked. He looked at me with a shocked expression in his eyes, his mouth open wide.
"Just fine since you have shown me the real you, Stephen. You need to find someone else that will believe your lies. I'm done, and you are nothing to me." Now a dumbfounded expression crossed Stephen's face. I knew he didn't know what to think of that. I turned to look at my family. Everyone was smiling, except for Harry. I looked into Harry's eyes, and I saw something there, a look I'd never seen before. There was a softening to his eyes, a gleam. And suddenly, I knew I was no longer just his best mate’s sister, I was something more to Harry Potter. This would be a good semester.
A/N: Thank you so much to Georgia Weasley (swelch1) for beta-ing my story. Thank you for your guidance and critique. This story would not be what it is without you! And again, thanks to NevillesSoulmate for the beautiful chapter image.