I will apologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes! Once again, I proofread really quickly and probably missed all the mistakes I made.
“You look like hell,” Ginny said the next morning at work.
Ron narrowed his eyes at her and didn’t answer. He ran his hands through his messy hair as he went into the office to put his jacket down.
"Yeah, rough night little brother?” came George’s voice. Ron wished they would both stop talking, and possibly turn down the lights, because he had a pounding headache. Even the slightest sound caused him to wince.
“Seriously,” Ginny said as he came back out into the store. “What did you do last night?”
“I just don’t feel good,” Ron said, closing his eyes and rubbing his temples. He thought back to the night he actually had had. After work and eating dinner with Hermione and Harry, he went up to the library, like most nights, to study. He was almost starting to get a lot of it, but there were still things he couldn’t quite grasp. Finally feeling defeated, he crept down to the kitchen after making sure Hermione was asleep, and had a glass or two of firewhiskey. He had made a small habit of it. He only drank once or twice a week, though. He knew that once he started to understand and could pass the Auror examination, he would be able to get to sleep fine and wouldn’t need any help from alcohol.
“Sure,” George said, raising his eyebrows. Ron was thankful when his brother decided not to press the subject, though, and disappeared upstairs.
The morning passed fairly quickly, and by the time Ron and Ginny sat down in The Leaky Cauldron for lunch, Ron felt much better. He even ordered a butterbeer with his ham sandwich.
“So, how do you like it so far?” he asked Ginny with a mouth full of food.
“Ew,” Ginny said, presumably towards his full mouth. “Um, I like it,” was all she said. She glanced down at her plate as she picked at her sandwich.
“Yeah,” Ron answered, looking up at her. “It’s not bad, but I don’t like it much either.”
It might have just been because they were closest in age, but Ron always felt closest to Ginny out of all his siblings. He knew it also pissed her off when he was able to read what she was thinking without her saying so, but she didn’t pick a fight this time. She just looked back at him, defeated.
“I just wish that I could do something I want to do, not work at a shop just because my brother owns it,” she said.
“Well at least you have a chance of doing something you want to,” he replied.
“What do you mean?”
“You know,” Ron said, wishing he didn’t sound so pathetic. “The Harpies want you. It’s just a matter of when Jones retires, which will probably be soon. When that happens you get to go off and be a big bad professional Quidditch player.” He put his sandwich down and took a long swig of butterbeer. “I’m never going to become an Auror and I’ll probably work forever stocking the shop with stupid shit and die alone working for my big brother.”
“Woah, Ron,” Ginny said, trying to hold back a laugh. “Relax. You’re not going to be working there forever, or dying alone.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” he spat. “You’re really good at Quidditch and have a whole future there ahead of you and are dating Harry bloody Potter and have one million friends so you’ll never die alone.”
Ginny let out a burst of laughter, almost spitting water everywhere. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she said, covering her mouth while Ron glared at her. She finally stopped laughing and became more serious. “Seriously, Ron? You’re going to take that exam when you’re ready for it and you’re going to pass. You’ll be a great Auror. And unless you’ve forgotten, I’m not dating Harry ‘bloody’ Potter. And I don’t have that many friends. If I do recall, you are still dating Hermione and things are going pretty well. Although I still don’t get why she would date you…” she added teasingly.
“Ha, ha,” Ron exaggerated. He sat in silence for a few minutes thinking about what Ginny said. “I’m not sure you’re right that I’ll pass that exam though,” he finally said. “I just can’t remember it all. Hermione tries to help me study every day but I know she gets frustrated -”
“Please don’t compare yourself to Hermione,” Ginny interrupted. “And don’t let yourself believe that you’re stupid. She’s a freak of nature…I’m pretty sure she’s the smartest person in, like, the world.”
Ron smiled. “Thanks, Gin,” he said. After he paid, they took their time making it back towards Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. “Really, Ginny, thanks for talking to me. It’s hard to talk to Harry or Hermione about it.”
“It’s all right,” she said, playfully punching him in the arm. “It’s what younger, and much smarter, sisters are for.”
“Hey!” he said, but couldn’t stop from laughing. She laughed too, and he draped his arm around her shoulder. “How are you, by the way?”
“I’m…doing okay,” she said, the smile leaving her face as she stared ahead of them.
“I, uh,” Ron stammered, but he couldn’t quite think of what to say.
“It’s okay, I know it’s awkward, with you’re best mate and your sister,” Ginny replied.
“I just don’t want to pick sides, y’know?” Ron said.
“Yeah, well,” Ginny started. “I know that you would never pick sides. And I’m sure Harry knows that too. We’ve all been through too much together for that.”
Ron stared at his sister and envied her. She was so young and shouldn’t have a care in the world, but she seemed so much older than everyone else when she spoke like that. She never hid how she was feeling and there were few subjects that she was too shy to talk about. He wished he could be more like her.
“And just so you know,” he said as they finally approached the shop. “He’s been a wreck since you left.”
The next day, Ginny nervously took a deep breath before knocking on the door that she once walked through every day. She was so nervous that she was shaking and almost hoped that no one was home so she could drop the package she was holding off and not have to speak to anyone.
Her wishes didn’t come true, though, and the door swung open before her. To make it worse, it was Harry standing in front of her. His hair was disheveled and he was already in pajama bottoms. It looked like he had a stressful day of work. “Ginny,” he said, the hard lines melting away from his face, making him look more relaxed.
“Hi,” was all she managed to say. They looked into each others eyes for a few moments, until a big gust of wind came and rustled her hair around her.
Harry held the door open farther and stepped back. Ginny stepped over the threshold and into the house. The walk was familiar from the door to the sitting room, and she followed Harry and sat down on the couch.
“You could have just come in, you know,” he said.
Ginny smiled, but didn’t say anything. Neither of them knew what they wanted at the moment and she didn’t feel like having the “remember how close we were” conversation with him.
“I just came to drop this off for Teddy,” she said, holding up the brown bag she’d brought.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“Just some stuff from the shop,” she said, opening it and rifling through it. “Mostly his favorites – there’s a fake wand, some ton-tongue toffees, a headless hat.”
Harry raised his eyebrows and smiled. “That’s – that’s really nice of you,” he finally said. Ginny returned the smile and handed the bag to Harry. “Teddy will love it.”
They sat in silence for what seemed like eternity. Ginny wanted to get up and leave, but she didn’t want to be abrupt about it, and the longer the silence went on, the more awkward it would be.
“D’you want some tea, or anything?” he finally asked. When she met his eyes again, she finally felt her muscles relax and her breathing became normal.
“Sure,” she said, smiling.
Minutes later, she was seated next to Harry downstairs, in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. “So how come you didn’t tell me you were getting a job?” he asked, not meeting her gaze. Ginny had the feeling that he had wanted to ask that for a while.
“I’m not sure,” she said after a few moments of silence.
“Ginny,” Harry said.
“Well it’s not like it would change anything,” she replied. “I know this was what we fought about most, but it’s not going to solve all of our problems.”
“I know it’s not,” Harry said, sounding almost defeated. “I’m just, I’m proud of you.”
Ginny let out a laugh. “I work for my older brother doing the register at a joke shop. It’s not much to be proud of,” she said.
“Well,” Harry said nervously. “I know how hard it was for you to accept a job there. I know what you really want to be doing and really you just have to give it time because you’re a phenomenal -”
“Harry,” Ginny cut him off by putting her hand on his wrist. She didn’t expect it to feel so nice to feel his skin. “You don’t have to do this.”
“I know,” Harry said. He finally looked into her eyes again. “I’ve just been so rotten lately and I feel horrible.”
“Don’t,” she said. “I’ve been just as bad. Worse probably.”
They then heard the front door slam and heavy footsteps trudging down the stairs. “Oh!” Ron said, his face stunned as he emerged into the kitchen. “Hey, Ginny,” he said, a questioning look on his face.
“You don’t have to look at me so weird,” she replied. Harry smirked, attempting to stifle a laugh.
“I’m just surprised you’re here,” he said as he went about making himself dinner.
“I actually have to go now,” Ginny said, finishing off her tea and putting the mug in the sink. “I promised Mum I’d help her with dinner.”
“Well that’s new,” Ron said, putting his plate on the table. Ginny playfully smacked him in the back of the head and headed for the door.
“Thanks for dropping that stuff off,” Harry said from his seat. “I’ll tell Teddy you say hello.”
“Thanks,” Ginny said, smiling. Just upstairs, Ginny wanted to bolt out the door to avoid the awkwardness between her and Harry. Now, she wished that Ron had stayed upstairs so that she could say goodbye to Harry in private.
But as there was nothing she could do, she climbed the stairs and with one last inhale of the familiar scent of Grimmauld Place, Disapparated.