Chapter 5 : The Importance of Communication
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Chapter 4 – “The Importance of Communication”
Author’s note: This chapter would not have happened without the help of a few wonderful people. siledubhghlase gave me good advice on how Ginny would be feeling and I really, really appreciate it. And theelderwand practically co-wrote it with me. In fact, much of what Harry says in the second half of this are his words, so I must give a HEARTY thank you to him for his help! Thanks bro! If you want a good read, go check out any of his three magnificent tales! I highly recommend them.
“Haven’t your lips long for my touch? Don’t say how much; show me!
Don’t talk of love lasting through time. Make me no undying vow.
Show me now!”
- Alan Jay Lerner, My Fair Lady
When Harry awoke there were a few moments where he was convinced he was trapped in a furnace. Everything around him was a brilliant orange, and he was sweating like a horse. He blinked his blurry, sleep-crusted eyes several times as the memories of the last night started filtering back through his mind and eventually realized he was simply in Ron’s orange plastered bedroom, buried under the quilts Mrs. Weasley had piled on him. He’d slept the day away and the hot afternoon sun was streaming through the window. Between that and the twenty or so blankets, Harry felt like he was in a sauna.
With a grunt, he dug a hand out of the mound and shoved the covers off. He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, wincing as the bruise on his chest throbbed painfully. That bruise was taking an awfully long time to heal, which was annoying – until he remembered Fred and decided he had nothing to complain about.
With a lingering yawn, he ran his hands over his face a few times, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, then reached for the nightstand and found his glasses. As he slipped them on, Ron’s room snapped into focus. He smiled at the comfort of the familiar surroundings, glad that some things hadn’t changed. Pig hooted at him excitedly from his cage by the window, the same Chudley Cannons coverlet and posters hurt his eyes, and the same two beds were crammed into the tiny space. The only thing missing was his freckle-faced best friend.
Harry felt a pang of loneliness at that thought. He knew Ron and Hermione weren’t gone, were only away for a short time, would be back soon… It wasn’t like they were moving to Australia, but he still missed them terribly. They’d been his whole world for this last year. He felt somehow exposed and vulnerable without them by his side, and he really hoped they’d find Hermione’s parents quickly and come home.
A trickle of sweat ran down his forehead and he wiped it away with a grimace. His pajamas were damp with sweat and stuck to him. He pulled the t-shirt away from his chest and sniffed it warily, then shuddered. He smelled like he’d just come off a two hour Quidditch practice.
“Disgusting,” he said out loud. Pig hooted back in happy agreement.
So, the first object of the day was a shower, and then he somehow needed to lose a least three-fourths of the blankets without hurting Mrs. Weasley’s feelings.
He got to his feet and grabbed for the rucksack that held everything he owned – he’d brought it to the Burrow last night shrunken in a pocket – then headed for the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later and feeling much cleaner, he was standing on the landing with a folded pile of quilts and blankets in his arms, completely unsure of what to do next.
“She try and roast you alive last night?”
Harry glanced down the stairs to see Charlie coming up them from the level below. He just smiled and shrugged, not wanting to say anything unkind about Mrs. Weasley, especially after what she’d done for him the night before.
“Mum sent me up to see if you were awake yet. She’s got food,” said Charlie with a broad grin as he took half the stack of bedding out of Harry’s arms. “We can stop by the linen closet on the way down.”
“Thanks,” said Harry, following Charlie down the stairs. The red-haired man helped him stuff the bedding into a closet on the third floor landing, and then they made their way down to the kitchen.
Lunch was an ordinary Weasley affair, noisy and chaotic. The atmosphere was light and casual, but there was an undercurrent of stress and worry that Harry didn’t miss, one that was tied directly to the conspicuously empty places around the table. Still feeling rather wrung out from his emotional meltdown the night before, Harry was content just to grab the food as it was passed to him and keep quiet. It was such a relief to not be the center of attention.
A plate of sandwiches was shoved brusquely into his line of sight. He glanced up to find Ginny holding it and suddenly his vision tunneled. Nothing else existed and he stared at her, unable to help it. It was the first time he’d really seen her since the morning after the Battle, and a whole plethora of emotions slammed into him at the sight. His mouth gapped open rather stupidly, and his hand refused to reach out and grasp the plate.
“Would you like a sandwich, Harry?” asked Ginny rather frostily.
Harry’s stomach lurched at the tone and his gaze faltered. “Erm…yeah, thanks,” he muttered, finally forcing a hand to move and take the plate from her. He gulped slightly and looked away, piling several more sandwiches on his plate than he really wanted just to have something to look at other than Ginny.
All through the meal, he could feel her brown eyes on him, boring into him like one of the drills his uncle used to make. It was unnerving and he found it made it difficult to eat. Finally, unable to take it anymore, he asked to be excused and hurried upstairs. A quick stop by the loo and then he planned to sequester himself in Ron’s room until he’d worked out how to speak to Ginny and explain everything without getting himself blasted to bits.
Harry jumped, colliding with the bathroom door he was still pushing open and jerked his head up at the unexpected voice. Ginny was leaning casually against the wall across from the bathroom, arms folded and eyebrows raised as she gazed pointedly at him.
“Erm…” he stuttered, his command of the English language apparently deserting him.
“Erm?” she repeated. “You don’t speak to me for days and then ‘erm’ is the best you can do?”
Harry swallowed thickly.
“Where were you going?” asked Ginny, not giving him a chance to speak.
“Hide,” she finished with a small shake of her head. “From me. Don’t deny it; you know I’m right.”
Harry sighed. She’d always been perceptive, and with him she seemed to have the uncanny ability to see right through him, read every thought and intent without him having to say or do anything. “Yeah, you’re right. I was gonna go try and figure out what to say to you, Ginny.”
“You could have tried ‘Hi, Ginny. It’s nice to see you.’”
“I thought about it, but I figured that might get my head bitten off, or start World War III.”
Now it was Ginny’s turn to sigh. “I’m not going to bite your head off, Harry.”
That gave Harry pause and he couldn’t think quite what to say. He stalled by closing the bathroom door behind him and leaning back against it. Finally, he blurted out, “But aren't you, uh, mad at me?”
“Yes,” Ginny answered simply. “But...”
Harry desperately tried to keep his focus, staring at the girl he'd dreamt about non-stop for the past year. “But what?”
Ginny glanced at him then looked away, down the hall to where the afternoon sun was streaming in the window. “But you're not the only one who's changed, Harry. I've had what you might call a perspective adjustment in the last week. Between you…the Battle…Fred…”
Harry’s heart lurched at those words and he looked down at his shoes. “Fred,” he mumbled. He took a deep breath and hurried on, not daring to look at her. “Gin, I...I know...it's my fault. All of it, and I’m so sorry! I never meant – ”
A small sound escaped her, rather reminiscent of a growl, and he broke off quickly, looking up. Ginny was finally really looking at him, that patented Weasley glare boring holes in his head as she stood with her hands planted firmly on her hips. Harry took just a moment to wonder if that stance could possibly be hereditary...
“Harry James Potter, that's not what I meant and you know it.”
Harry was at a loss. “But...Fred almost died. And you were thrown in the thick of things. And…Merlin, Ginny, I can’t say what I mean. I'm just making a mess of things. I feel like Ron...”
Ginny actually smiled a little at that. “Probably the company you keep,” she suggested. “And at least Ron got a clue, didn't he,” she muttered.
Harry wasn’t sure whether he was supposed to hear that last part, but he let out a small laugh despite himself. “Yeah, I reckon he did, didn't he.” He paused then and ran a hand through his hair, trying to wrap his tongue around all that he needed to tell this wonderful girl, but when he finally figured it out they spoke at the same time.
“Ginny, there's just too much too say – ”
“Look, Harry – ”
They smiled again and he gestured for her to go first.
“I guess what I'm trying to say is this,” said Ginny, her face growing serious. “Yes, I'm mad at you. Yes, I haven't quite forgiven you for running off and leaving me to wonder for TEN MONTHS what was happening with you. Were you alive? Okay? Had you been captured and they were hurting you? Did you have food, somewhere to stay? And then trying to make me stay in that bloody room during the battle? What am I, twelve?”
Harry interrupted at that. He couldn’t help it. “No. Ginny, I know you're not a child. But do you have any idea what I felt like when I saw that killing curse sail by your head?”
“Do you have any idea what I felt like when I watched Hagrid carry you out of that forest!” Ginny shot back, eyes flashing.
Harry's head sank.
“I thought you were dead, Harry!” cried Ginny, voice rising. “I thought you were gone, and all those dreams I'd dared to let myself have? They were dead, too!”
“Ginny, that's...that's why I've been putting this off. I...I felt my life slip away when Bellatrix nearly killed you. Then I thought of what must've gone through your head when you saw me... But I had to do it, Ginny. I had to!”
“I know. That's part of why I love you. And why I'll get around to forgiving you.
Between the Battle, and Fred dying and coming back, and you doing the same… Well, I’ve learned that life’s too short and unpredictable to hold grudges over silly things.”
Harry felt the slimmest flicker of hope build in his chest. “Forgive me?”
“Don't get too excited, Potter. You’re not completely off the hook yet. I am a Weasley, you know.”
Harry heard her, but his brain ignored it. It was a little hung up on something else she’d said that he’d at first missed. “You love me?” he asked, wide-eyed.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Were you dropped on your head as a child?”
He let his wry grin bubble to the surface. “You haven't met the Dursleys yet, have you? I probably was,” he said with a laugh, then sobered. “Do you...do you really love me, Gin?”
Ginny gave an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes. “Yes, Harry, I really do love you. Would I have stuck around these last seven years waiting if I didn't, you git?”
Harry felt as if he'd been struck by a bludger to the head, or lightening. He was stunned, and suddenly words just started rushing out of his mouth, words he’d longed to say for years. “Gin...Ginny, I... There wasn't a day that went by I didn't think of you, dream of you, your eyes, your lips. Ginny, I love you more than life itself!”
Ginny looked at him for a second and then, completely to his surprise, threw back her head and laughed.
Harry felt his courage falter and his smiled wobbled. He was pouring his heart out to her and she laughed? What had he done wrong? This wasn’t what was supposed to happen…
“Oh, Harry,” she chuckled. “You just spent the last ten months living in a tent, with my brother, on the run from Death Eaters, and you're trying to tell me you thought of me each and every day? Ten months without speaking to me and now only five minutes into our first conversation you've worked your way up to my eyes and my lips?” She had to stop to fight back a burst of giggles. “Fred and George gave you a copy of that bloody book, didn't they?”
Harry felt his cheeks flush instantly. “Err…” he stammered, thoroughly embarrassed. “Well, Ron did, actually.” She’d READ it? his brain was screaming, suddenly feeling very exposed, as if he’d just been asked to give a speech to the Ministry in his underwear. Merlin’s pants, the girl knew everything!
Ginny laughed again. “Men,” she muttered, shaking her head. “Well, Harry, here's something they didn't cover in that book. Talk is cheap.” And she pulled him over and planted her lips on his.
Harry gasped, his glasses going askew. For a moment, his head spun, and then his brain kicked into gear as he realized the girl of his dreams was snogging the heck out of him, and he dug his hands into her fiery locks, returning the favor.
The sudden sound of applause filled the air around them, and Harry and Ginny jerked apart, turning as one to look down the stairs. Bill, Charlie, and Percy all stood there, huge grins on their faces as they clapped to bring down the house. “’Bout time,” muttered Charlie, shaking his head.
Harry stepped back from Ginny. “Peeping Merlins,” he moaned, turning three shades of crimson.
“Like living in a fish bowl,” agreed Ginny, but she was smiling.
Harry looked down at her brothers, hoping they weren’t about to tear him limb from limb. Then he glanced back at the amazing witch in his arms and decided he didn’t care.
“Oh, do carry on and don't mind us,” urged Bill, winking.
So Harry, having vowed a while back to stop being so stubborn and start listening to good advice, did.
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