The End of the Beginning

Chapter 32

Harry spent all the next day trying to ignore the pestering thoughts in his mind. He focused extra hard in his classes and tried all day to engage Ginny in conversation, but apparently he wasn't the only one with a heavy mind. Ginny was conspicuously quiet the entire day. So he spent the whole morning awkwardly making one way conversation and scratching extra detailed notes in class.

"Gin? What's wrong? You've been quiet all day." Harry placed his hand on hers. They were sitting on the couch in the Head dorm working on a Charms essay. She sat staring at the floor before turning to Harry with that same hard, blazing look she had given him on two other occasions. One was when they had their first kiss and the other was right before he broke up with her to chase horcruxes.

But there was something different in that look this time.

"Harry, do you love me?" her voice was very soft.

"Of course I do Gin." Harry felt his chest tighten.

"Do you love me. Do you want to be with me?"

"Why are you asking this Ginny?"

"Can you just answer the question?" Ginny's voice rose in pitch.

"Of course I do Ginny. Why would you think otherwise?"

"I don't know, why don't you tell me why I have to work so hard to be noticed by you? Why did it take you so much longer to say you loved me when I've known for so long that I've loved you? Why is it that there are things you will talk to her about that you won't mention to me?" Ginny's voice was getting louder and shriller with every syllable and she rose to her feet.

"Ginny, we've been over this. You weren't there. There are just some things that you can't understand." Harry was on his feet now.

"How would you know? You never even gave me the chance! But Hermione gets to know every little thing about my boyfriend!"

"She's my best friend Ginny."

"I'm your girlfriend! You know…the one you supposedly love and maybe want to marry and start a family with? Don't you think we should be able to talk about those kinds of things?"

"We will Ginny…."

"When Harry? At what point do I finally start to catch up to Hermione?"

Harry narrowed his eyes. "You make it sound like a competition."

"I've had to compete with her from square one! You've always spent time with her, confided in her and talked about her. Don't you think there was a reason Cho was jealous of her? Why I'm jealous of her? She's always been higher on your priority list than any other girl!"

"Ginny…."

"No! I've had enough!" Ginny cut him off, "I got sent home instead of going with you after Voldemort because you "cared too much", but she gets to spend the whole year wandering the wilderness with you and fighting with you. Did you just not care about her that much? Is that why she got to go with you when I couldn't? Everyone else kept the person they loved most close: Bill, Lupin, Ron….why was I the one who got sent home?"

Ginny was practically shouting now and Harry's voice rose with it. "So is that what this boils down to? You're seriously upset that she got to live in a tent and nearly give up her life and I cared too much to put you through that?"

"Don't you get it? You allowed her that chance to risk her life for you and to be with you! I never got that chance! Don't you think when people's lives are on the line you would rather have them with you? Don't you think I would have happily given up everything to be there beside you? It broke my heart to watch you leave. I would have gone after you right then and there if I hadn't been so sure you would do everything to stop me. I spent the entire year not knowing whether you were alive out there somewhere or whether you had been dead for ages! An entire year with a bag packed and ready to go! If I had the slightest knowledge you were alive and where you were, I would have been there in an instant! I didn't care if I died or what I would lose, or what you would do! I wanted to be with you! And the whole time I wondered why she was the one who got to give it all up to be with you and not me. If you really cared about me you would have let me make the same choice you allowed her."

Ginny was openly crying now, "And when it was all over, I was convinced that maybe then things would change. With Ron and Hermione together and no Voldemort to keep you away, we could finally have the life I wanted so badly with you. But no! You had to go spend four weeks waltzing around Europe and Australia with her and I wasn't even welcome to go along! I spent four weeks trying to get over Fred and needing you more than ever and where were you? Oh and when you came back? I've been fighting tooth and nail ever since to get you to look at me the way you look at her! Don't you think I see it? Don't you think I see the way she looks at you?"

"Ginny she's got a boyfriend! I'm with you not her!"

"And is that what you want?" Ginny's voice dropped and her words seemed to catch in her throat, "Am I the only one who really wants this? Harry I spent all day yesterday watching you stare at the other girl on our double date. All day watching you fret over her in a way you only did when you didn't have me and seeing that look on your face you get with her that I can't touch and the worst part was she was doing the same damn thing."

Silence overtook the room in its vicelike grip. Harry simply stared with his mouth agape, unsure of what to say. Ginny wiped the tears off of her face and took a deep breath.

"Do you love me Harry?" Ginny's voice was whisper soft.

Harry opened his mouth, but words failed him. He wanted so badly to say the right words, but the words seemed to have hundred pound bags attached to them. Instead of rising in his throat they simply sat in his chest, unable to move.

Ginny nodded her head and as a fresh tear escaped her eye, she turned towards the door where a completely stunned looking Ron stood in the open doorway.

"I didn't mean to intrude…"

Ginny simply brushed by her brother and out the open door.

"Ginny…." Harry croaked out her name, but she didn't pause or stop. Harry felt a lead weight settle into his navel area as Ron closed the door behind him. He couldn't find anything to say to his best friend.

Ron took a seat on the couch and ran his hand through his hair. "Can I ask you something mate?"

Harry nodded. "When we came back from Australia, did you ever really want to be with my sister?"

Harry had pushed his doubts about Ginny far into the back of his mind ages ago, but like someone on the run who has been cornered, he felt like it was finally time to own up to the truth.

"I was never really sure." Harry let out a long breath, "I thought I did, but I was never sure if that was what I really wanted or if it was just the easy thing to do."

Ron frowned. "Don't you think you should have been honest about that? What happened to the Harry who was being so honest with me in Rome? Harry, you've been a lot of things in your life but the way you've treated my sister the past few months is not the Harry I thought I knew."

Harry stared at his shoes, guilt washing over him. "Ron, I don't know what to say."

"Didn't I tell you about this? Didn't I warn you about messing about with her?"

"Ron, I never meant for it to happen."

"Of course you didn't Harry, but that's what they all say isn't it? You're my best friend Harry and now because of you I've got to go find my crying little sister and tell her how it's all going to be alright. I trusted you Harry. I stood up for you. I told Mum that you were going to get your head back on straight, I told Ginny that you would open up to her and pay her more attention, I told Hermione and Aubrey not to get involved and this is the thanks I get?"

"You never trusted me with Ginny!" Harry felt the words come out before he could stop them.

"I did Harry and look what it got me." Ron answered coldly.

For the second time in an hour Harry's mouth hung open and words failed him. Ron gave Harry the same disgusted look he usually reserved for Malfoy.

"Ron…"

"Save it Harry." Ron gave him one more distasteful look before storming out the door, leaving a stunned and ashamed Harry in his wake.

Harry had made a mess of quite a few things in his life, in fact it was almost his calling card, but nothing came close to the sick feeling of seeing that look on Ron's face or watching Ginny walk out of the room with tears in her eyes.

He had managed to hurt the only real family he had left.

A soft knock at the door brought his attention back to the here and now. "Can I come in?" a soft voice asked from the other side of the door.

"Sure." Harry managed to croak. Aubrey's silky brown hair preceded her as she stuck her head through the door.

"I can come back later…."

"It's fine." Harry figured there wasn't really any way it could get any worse. Aubrey gave him a sympathetic look before a determined grimace took over her features.

"I saw Ron storming away, he was rather curt and unhelpful to me but I think I know what the problem is." She kept looking at Harry, but he couldn't bring himself to meet her gaze. Aubrey let out a long breath, "Harry, I think it's time that I stop keeping my silence. There's something I need to tell you."

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