If at FirstAuthor:
, and pumpkinpastyRating:
Even thinking about Ginny makes Harry anxious.Warnings:
All things Harry Potter belong to Jo Rowling, Bloomsbury, and Warner Brothers. I'm merely borrowing them for a bit of fun.If at First
Harry tapped the back end of his wand impatiently against his leg. As much as he respected Chief Auror Shacklebolt, the endless debriefings were beginning to wear him down. He'd told them everything he could remember about the previous two years, searching for Horcruxes, battles with Death Eaters and finally the defeat of Voldemort. While he couldn't blame the Aurors for wanting details, the repetitive questions only served to make his mind wander. And lately, it had wandered into some very dangerous areas, indeed. Even thinking about not thinking about it took his thoughts straight to what a stupid git he'd made of himself in front of Ginny since he'd returned. A mental image of Ginny, looking quite put out with him, planted itself firmly in his thoughts.
They’d talked briefly, from across the room or across the table at Weasley family gatherings. There was no way to avoid seeing her from time to time. But things were strained, and while he could tell she was glad he had made it through alive, there was no guarantee she was ready to forgive and forget his two-and-a-half year absence. And why should she, after he had shown himself to be an absolute prat the first moment they were alone.
A few days after he, Ron and Hermione had Apparated to the Burrow, victorious but in shock and bone-deep knackered, Harry had ventured out of his room and sought her out. She had been alone, thankfully, in the living room. He had watched silently from the doorway as she had mended her broom, and then she looked up and their eyes met and Harry – Harry had run.
Halfway through the orchard he had stopped running. He couldn’t be afraid of her. He just couldn’t. He was Gryffindor, for Merlin’s sake. But she was just so calm and composed and to be honest, she looked very interested in him. That was good, wasn’t it? This was Ginny and if she were going to hex him, she wouldn’t have hesitated, especially with her family not around.
Shacklebolt launched into another round of questions, startling Harry out of his Ginny-filled, troubling reverie. Harry stopped fidgeting with his wand and sat up as straight as he could.
"Erm, would you mind if we called it a day, sir?"
Shacklebolt frowned, but also began gathering the many rolls of parchment that covered the table. "I suppose that would be all right. The Healers do still want us to be a bit careful with you for now."
Harry practically turned the table over in his attempt to exit quickly. Brilliant! He could probably manage to use that excuse at least one more time. He made his way out of the Ministry of Magic without speaking to anyone and Apparated to Diagon Alley. He needed new books anyway, to begin studying for N.E.W.T.s.
Inside Flourish & Blotts, he found one Transfiguration book he thought Professor McGonagall might approve, and a handful of Defense books he wanted but didn't really need.
Rather than make his purchases and leave, though, he decided it couldn't hurt to visit some of the aisles he'd generally ignored in the past. There were cauldrons full of cookbooks and tomes offering magical cleaning advice on one aisle and on the next over, stacks and stacks of books on love spells, love potions, and relationship advice. He could see Ginny’s curious, steady gaze staring back from each one. Just outside the door, he realized he’d run again. At least he’d dropped the book he’d been carrying somewhere along the way.
He slowed to a walk and, glancing in the stationery shop next door, continued down the street, not sure exactly what he was looking for but knowing it would be someplace he felt safe. And there, just the next shop over, it was: Quality Quidditch Supplies. Harry lingered in the front, savoring the smell of broomstick wood and the swish of practice robes as customers passed by the racks. He tossed a new model Quaffle back and forth between his hands and even swung a bat around a time or two. It occurred to him that he felt the most relaxed he’d been since that night. Only, whether that night was the night he fought Voldemort to the finish or the night he ran in terror from Ginny Weasley was hard to say.
He had been wandering around the store aimlessly for quite some time when, in the back of the shop, amid a pile of team schedules and used copies of Quidditch through the Ages
, he spotted a book entitled Soar Again! Practical Advice for the Skittish Seeker
. It had been years since he'd played Quidditch, and he was aching to play again, but he felt horribly out of practice. He marched to the front of the shop and purchased it, not even bothering to look through the pages first.
He took the book home to his flat near Diagon Alley and settled in by the fire. At first his plan was to forget his troubles and immerse himself in broom riding technique. The book was terribly basic, and intended for Seekers who had fallen off their brooms and were afraid to fly as a result. Harry had never had that problem, but as long as it had been since he’d played Quidditch, reviewing the basics wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
The book was short, a mere eight chapters, with a brief advice section followed by witty quotes and practical flying drills or other practice suggestions in each one. He settled himself comfortably on his couch and began reading. Face Your Fears: Remember What You Did Wrong that Made You Fall Off Your BroomIn order to successfully recover from a bad fall, you must confront reality first. Yes, you fell. Were you flying recklessly? Using a new, unpracticed grip? Were you focused so much on grabbing the Snitch that you forgot you were in the air altogether? Whatever the problem was, recognize it, correct it, and move on.
Harry couldn't remember a time he had been afraid to get back on his broom after a spill. Even in third year, when the Dementors were the source of a horrifying fall, Harry had had no problem flying afterwards. It appeared this book wasn't going to be much help in getting back in competitive shape for Quidditch. He started to toss is aside, but something niggled at him a bit, so he reread the advice in the first chapter instead.
If he were honest with himself, Harry had to admit there was something other than flying he was afraid of trying again, and he'd reached the point that it had almost become an obsession. Perhaps if he were to apply the advice in the book to his Ginny situation, the book would be helpful after all.
He tried to sort out what he had done wrong with regard to their relationship to create its current non-existence and his fear of her rejection. Breaking up with her was the obvious first thing he had done that had led him to this point. But he thought she had understood, and that couldn't be why he was so afraid to talk to her. Was it because he hadn't ever really explained why? Or because he had taken so long to try to tell her how he really felt, now that he was back from killing Voldemort, and they were safe?
This was something he would have to puzzle over for a while. He decided to read on, hoping the rest of the advice the book offered would help him sort things out. Visualize Victory: Remember What You Did Correctly Before You Fell Off Your Broom Whether you had flown for an hour or a lifetime before your fall, remember there was a time when flying was full of joy, not fear. Think back to that happy time and imagine yourself gliding through the air with ease.
Harry thought back to walks by the lake, quietly talking and sharing silly jokes, stealing kisses by the fireplace in the Common Room when everyone was too focused on revising to notice, the way she always knew what he needed to hear, and lifted his spirits when he needed a bit of cheering.
Two hours of happy memories later, Harry's stomach rumbled and he realized two things -- he was absolutely starving, and he could happily starve to death thinking of Ginny Weasley. That wouldn't do. He got up from the couch and threw together some sandwiches, grabbed a bottle of Butterbeer and, to avoid being caught up in delightful fantasies again, turned the page to the next chapter of his book.Be the Snitch In order to go beyond mere flying and excel at seeking, you must be able to think like a Snitch. The most advanced Wizards might consider transfiguring themselves into a Snitch. Be careful! If you choose to attempt this, you must be sure there is a skilled Seeker present who is able to catch you and transfigure you back into yourself. Otherwise, you may find yourself the subject of pursuit at the next Quidditch match.
Harry frowned. How was he supposed to "be" Ginny? He certainly wasn't going to transfigure himself into her, though the image and the possibilities it created gave him a good chuckle. He supposed he would just have to try to figure out what she wanted from him. He already had some idea what sorts of things she liked. And he knew she needed to hear from him why he'd left and then stayed away. The hardest part was figuring out how she would react when he told her the truth. Thinking about the many ways it could turn out was giving him a headache. Pushing that thought aside, Harry continued with the next chapter.Don’t Over-analyze There's a reason it's called flying and not Arithmancy! You should trust your instincts. Go with your gut feeling. As soon as you are flying again, your body will remember.
What was that Muggle-saying about getting back on a bike and how you never forgot how to ride? Harry doubted that worked quite as well with girls, but he did have to admit his instincts had served him well with Ginny. He committed the advice to memory, promising himself he wouldn't find himself guilty of this error.Keep Your Expectations Realistic and Set Reasonable Goals It may be best to work your way back to full speed slowly. Plan on taking a slow spin around the pitch, flying just a foot or two above the ground at first. Then gradually climb to a greater height and try out a faster speed.
Harry didn't think he'd have too much trouble with this one. After all, he wasn't planning on proposing to her the next time he saw her. He mostly wanted to be able to remain in the same room with her for more than five minutes without breaking out in a cold sweat. Patience, Perseverance and Practice Whatever you do, don't give up on yourself. Handle your broomstick frequently, try to get on it and fly over and over.
After a good and much needed snorting laugh over the advice to handle his broomstick, Harry read this section again a bit more seriously.
Patience, Harry could manage. In fact, he was so dreading rejection he rather thought that unless something shook him out of his fear soon, he could be patient forever. Perseverance was another matter. Perseverance required being in Ginny’s presence at closer range than he'd been willing to try, and for more than a few seconds. It might even involve making more eye contact and actual talking.
And practice was another matter altogether. He had no interest in kissing another girl. He went to his bedroom and puckered up in front of the mirror on his dresser, only to have it laugh at him and rather alarmingly, toss out sneering critiques of his technique. Ginny wouldn't laugh at him like that, though. She might be angry with him, but she was never cruel. Somewhat relieved, he returned to the living room and turned to the next chapter.Work on the Rest of Your Game While you prepare for that important first flight, don't forget to also hone your other skills. A good Seeker is more than just a good flyer. You must also practice careful observation, and maintain a good, firm grasp of your prey.
Observing he could do. Harry had no problems watching Ginny out of the corner of his eye. Keeping her in his grasp would be more difficult. Perhaps. He hadn't had problems keeping her interest the first time around, and he hoped that if he ever could manage a second chance, he would do as well or better that go 'round.Finally, Get Back On Your Broom This is the most important step. You will know when the time is right. Trust yourself, hop on your broom, and go!
That was the entirety of the last chapter. It seemed silly to have a whole chapter with a title and three sentences. And Harry wasn't quite sure about his ability to know when the time was right. But the rest of the advice in the book seemed pretty sound, so Harry reckoned this part must be too.
But how to go about "getting back on his broom" with Ginny? In one sense, it would be easy enough. Mrs. Weasley was throwing a little combination Welcome Home/Valentines’ Day party at the Burrow and he would certainly see Ginny there and be able to get back on his broomstick if he wanted to. But he was hesitant. The party was just a week or so away. Was he really ready to face her? He needed more practice. Loads more practice. And some new, improved techniques.
When Ron dropped by later that evening, Harry tried to hide the book under a couch cushion, but it happened to be exactly that cushion that Ron chose to toss on the floor and plop down on. He leafed through the book quickly, glancing up at Harry every now and then with a grin.
“So, you’re going to play again, mate?”
“I dunno. Maybe. It’s been so long, I don’t know if I can.”
“Of course you can, Harry. You’re a natural. Just do what feels right to you and you’ll be brilliant. You’re good enough you could even be a pro.”
“Yeah, all right.” He’d never felt quite so odd, or guilty, for that matter, discussing Quidditch with his best friend. He took the book back and began reading.
Ron scowled. "You need to get out, you know that."
"Yeah," Harry said, still reading.
"You are coming to the party, aren't you?"
Harry looked up. "Erm. Yeah. I reckon so."
"All right, then. Mum'll be glad, and I doubt she'll be the only one. See you then." There was a small pop and Ron was gone.
Over the next week, Harry carried the book around like an old blanket, tucked into his robes, considering and reconsidering his options. He would take it out in spare moments and reread sections. He practiced talking to her. He had even practiced kissing, though he had made sure there were no mirrors in the room at the time, and he felt very silly doing it. After lying awake for hours trying to sort out that first, essential problem of what had made him afraid to try again with Ginny, he had finally realized it was mostly because the rejection would be simply crushing, and that he would rather at least be able to count her as a friend than never talk to her again at all. He managed to convince himself that if he got it over with, at least he would know where he stood and be able to try to regain her friendship. Harry felt more and more that he was going to be prepared to see Ginny at the party.
Come the fourteenth of February, Harry found himself in front of his wardrobe, over-analyzing his choice of jumpers. He sighed with a bit of disgust at himself, closed his eyes, and pulled one off a hanger. He finished dressing in a hurry, removing his new friend and favorite book from the pocket of his robes before he left.
He Apparated to Ottery St. Catchpole and trudged up the street to The Burrow. He had spent too long getting ready, and the party was in full swing when he arrived. There were several Order members present. Neville and Luna were exchanging shy glances in a corner, and Lee Jordan had flown in with his new wife. He looked around the room, nodding at Ron and Hermione and waving at the twins, who barely managed a wave back; they were frantically waving their wands over a surprisingly exasperated looking fern.
Ginny, dressed in a white, fuzzy jumper, was standing with a group of younger Gryffindor girls he barely recognized by the fireplace. She was talking, hands gesturing about something he couldn't quite make out. Giant wings, perhaps? She laughed, tossing her head so that her hair reflected glinting firelight. A curly-haired blonde caught sight of him and touched Ginny’s arm to get her attention, nodding his way.
Ginny turned her head and looked right at him. Her jaw was set, but her soft, pink lips formed a small smile and her eyes were daring him to come over. Harry’s spine stiffened and his palms began to sweat. But he kept his feet planted firmly on the ground. He ignored the objections to taking action that entered his mind.
She broke eye contact first, following her friends toward the refreshment table. Harry reminded himself that they had been friends for years. He could talk to her. He had always been able to talk to Ginny, sometimes more easily than he could talk to anyone else. Harry circled the room, keeping one eye on Ginny. He imagined she would expect him to hang back as long as she was surrounded by her friends, but also thought she might like the opportunity to say something to him in front of them. He didn’t want to move too quickly, though, and have her run with her friends.
Ginny stopped by the table, still facing him and brushing something off that fuzzy jumper. If only he could be that jumper. She wasn’t trying to send him a sign was she? She wasn’t planning on brushing him off? Harry felt himself falling into the over-thinking trap. This was ridiculous. You’re not going to ask her to marry you in front of a room full of people, Potter, you just want to talk to her, re-establish your friendship and maybe a little more for now, Harry thought.
Harry shoved his glasses into place, straightened his robes and his shoulders and wound through the crowd towards her, 'Hey, Ginny. How’ve you been? Nice party, yeah?' played through his mind as he walked.
“Hey Ginny,” Harry said. “How’ve you been? Nice party, yeah?”
She smiled back. “Yeah, it’s great.”
Determined, Harry forged ahead, his next goal being a coherent sentence. “Erm. Who's that Fred and George transfigured?"
Ginny chuckled. "It's Fleur. Bill's upstairs helping Mum bring down some old chairs from the attic, and she wouldn't shut up about the joys of married life, so they gave her one of their new Hide-and-Seek biscuits. The effects really should have worn off by now."
Harry laughed with her, and for the first time he felt like things were going to be okay. He decided to set his goals just a bit higher.
"Would you like to get out of here for a bit?"
"Yeah, all right. It is a bit crowded." Ginny nodded and followed him out the kitchen door into the Weasleys' back yard. They walked in silence for several minutes. Harry’s heart was pounding and he could hear his blood rushing in his ears.
"Ginny, I--" Harry stopped and looked away, at the nearby tree tops, followed an owl overhead, and finally looked down at his feet.
"It's all right, Harry. You did what you thought was right at the time."
Harry, still staring at his feet, nodded, and let Ginny continue. "So, what I need to know is, what do you think is the right think to do now?"
"Erm." He looked up at her. "I'd like to try again, if you haven't given up on me."
"If I didn't give up on you when I wasn't sure you'd ever like me back, do you really believe I'd give up on you when I knew you cared for me?"
Was that a yes? It sounded like one to Harry, but then he couldn't be certain. He tried to make himself think like her. It was no good, though, and he realized once again he was overanalyzing things. So he stopped. Harry stopped thinking, and worrying and most of all he stopped being afraid.
He leaned down to meet her lips with his own; they bumped noses and his glasses were smushed into his face for a moment, but the instant Ginny’s lips touched his, it was perfect. Best of all, she hadn’t slapped him. She hadn’t hexed him. She was kissing him back! He felt his heart soaring, almost as if they were far above The Burrow, with the wind rushing past. It was the best feeling, ever.
------------------------ORIGINAL REQUESTBriefly describe what you'd like to receive:
Harry's finding it a lot more awkward around Ginny than he'd anticipated. Pre-breakup, I guess.Preferred Rating:
PG-13Specifics you want (optional, maximum of three):
Happy ending, awkward kissing, fluff.Deal Breakers (what don't you want?):
blood, darkfic. +wibble+Thanks for participating in the exchange! Happy Valentine's Day! ♥