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Chapter 8: Distances

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‘MALFOY, WAKE UP! GET OFF ME RIGHT NOW!’ Ginny’s scream was so loud that it resounded into the hall of the abandoned building they called home and echoed in the library. Harry put down the book he was reading and looked up.

‘Ginny!’ shouted Ron as he moved to stand up, but Harry was quicker and stopped him. He stood, put his hands over Ron’s shoulders and looked at him.

‘It’s better if I go. Maybe Ginny needs help,’ he said.

Ron looked back, a deep frown furrowing his eyebrows, his eyes narrowing. ‘She’s my sister. What if that...Malfoy did something to her?’

‘She’s also my girlfriend, Ron. Please, let me take care of this.’ Harry saw the anxiety in Ron’s dilated pupils and how he breathed heavily. ‘There’s a Dementor in the area; she must be trying to wake him up; I’m feeling it as well... it’s still far and doesn’t affect me much, but it must affect Malfoy.’

Finally, Harry’s words caught Ron’s attention and helped him calm down, so the red-haired wizard started rereading his book.

‘Okay. But please, see what happened. I swear I’ll kill him with my bare hands if he’s done something to her.’

The frown, and the worry in Ron’s hazel eyes, showed all his pain. Harry smiled and nodded, hurrying out of the room and up the stairs.

*

Two years had passed from the day Harry had asked Ginny to be his girlfriend.

A few months after leaving Hogwarts, the Ministry asked him to go to Hong Kong for an informal mission since he still couldn’t follow the Aurors officially—he hadn’t even started his training yet. However, his name still meant something, and the matter was about a Death Eater.

He’d met her there—Cho Chang. He hadn’t looked for her; it had simply happened. They spoke briefly as he walked through a Market looking for clues and decided to meet again that evening for dinner.

She’d changed a lot. Melancholic and sad, her gaze looked empty and detached; she seemed a shadow of the girl she’d once been. He’d asked her if he could help her. He told her he wanted to be at her side, as a friend or something more.

“I’m sorry, Harry. When I see you, I think of Cedric,” she said. The discomfort made him blush. He, too, had suffered a lot for Cedric’s death, as nightmares and guilt tormented his restless nights in the summer before his fifth year at Hogwarts. He’d often wake in the middle of the night screaming Cedric’s name; the death he witnessed affected him too much to bear. Hell, Dudley had thought he was gay and that Cedric was his boyfriend! When his cousin teased him about it, Harry stared in disbelief and laughed at Dudley’s stupidity. He knew that the other boy had said that only to tease him, but it had done nothing to ease his guilt. Maybe if Harry had been stronger, or more careful.. if he hadn’t asked Cedric to take the cup with him.

He’d also been confused about his feelings for Cho. When she kissed him under the mistletoe, he’d been happier than ever but also had again felt guilty. She was crying for Cedric. She couldn’t avoid thinking of Cedric whenever she was with him.

In the end, he had given up on his hopes that she would change her mind. He felt free when he realised that he didn’t feel that strong pull of his heart towards her anymore, but in truth, it was a lie. He couldn’t stand the thought of dating a girl who always compared him with somebody else. It took him years before he made peace with his feelings and dared to face her again. They met by accident, even this time, not because he’d looked for her.

“I know what you’re thinking. I’m not blaming you; it wasn’t your fault even that time at Hogsmeade; I also was to blame. But I can’t think of a life with you. When I look at you, I’ll always think of Cedric.”

“But—uh—Cho, I’m not asking you to marry me. I want to be your friend and help you get over what happened. I wasn’t mature enough at the time, but I won’t make the same mistake this time. You don’t have to love me,” he said.

She looked at him softly as he spoke and smiled at him for the first time in years—Harry felt an ache straight to his heart.

“ I’d never do that to you. I could say yes, and I know that you’d try your best to be at my side and support me. But I can’t forget Cedric with you. I thought you could help me many years ago, but I know the truth now. I’d only make you suffer, and I don’t want to.” She smiled at him as she finished eating her dinner with those chopsticks he’d never learned to use. “I knew him all my life; we grew up together. He was like a brother to me; when we went to Hogwarts, our relationship grew stronger, and we started dating. I thought he might’ve been the one for me.” She stroked his cheek tenderly as she spoke and noticed the disappointed frown that wrinkled his forehead.

“But,” he tried to retort, his throat aching in a knot he didn’t know how to loosen. How could she do that to her life? She shushed him, putting a finger on his lips.

“Don’t say anything. You know, I must say that I was flattered. I was happy when Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, the one who had fought You-Know-Who...had asked me to go to the Yule Ball with him. Harry Potter had a crush on me. Yes, the fact did stroke my ego a little. But I loved Cedric; it was a much, much stronger feeling than I could—or I ever can—feel for you. I realised it the following year; unfortunately, things haven’t changed.”

“What will you do, then? Will you mourn Cedric for the rest of your life?” he asked her, his fists clenched. Her words had hurt him, and she knew it because she stared at him with deep sadness for a long moment before replying.

“Of course not. My Uncle found me a job in New York; I shall leave in two weeks.” She stroked his cheek softly. “I’ll be fine, Harry. You deserve better than a girl who will always cry looking at you.” She kissed him on the cheek she had stroked and left.

Harry returned to his hotel room. And cried.

When he concluded his mission and returned to England, he was invited to Ron and Hermione’s wedding. After thinking a lot about what Cho had said to him, he decided not to drown himself in his misery and move on, even if his heart still ached at the thought.

At the wedding, he saw Ginny again. She had just finished Hogwarts and, not having seen her for a whole year, Harry couldn’t help noticing how pretty she’d become.

*

When he arrived upstairs and saw her, all rational thoughts left his brain. She was leaning against the door of Draco’s room, red in the face, eyes shining with fury, her breathing heavy and laboured.

‘What happened? Are you all right, love?’ he asked, rushing to her side. He’d believed what he said to Ron, that Malfoy wasn’t harming her. But now he’d changed his mind...Could Malfoy really…? He’d never forgive himself or the blond wizard, if he’d harmed her in any way.

She glared at him, not that Harry could understand why. However, Ginny returned to her senses almost immediately; the shock left her, as did the annoying expression that her face had shown after hearing his words. Her glare softened and she beamed. Drawing near him sensually, she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. Harry started with surprise.

Ginny ruffled his hair and brushed her lips on his skin up to under his chin, drawing a light path of kisses over his jaw until she reached his earlobe. A shiver ran down Harry’s spine...how did she always know what to do with him?

‘Not that I’m complaining, but what did I do to deserve this?’ he asked, popping a smile on his lips. She aroused him so much in the few seconds he’d been there that he wouldn’t be able to go back to the library, even if Ron had started to scream.

‘I can’t tell you,’ she murmured, tickling his earlobe. Harry shuddered again and stared at her with desire as she looked down and admitted, ‘There’s something I must forget.’

‘Do you want to forget it here in the corridor, or do you prefer to go to our room? You know, sweetie, if you keep doing this to me, I’ll lose myself in you very quickly.’

She giggled and grabbed his hand, her eyes shining with mirth as she told him, ‘Let’s hurry, then!’ Her voice grew husky, and she spoke those words in a way that Harry couldn’t resist.

Did she know how crazy she drove him to act this way? Of course she knows, Harry thought, a sly grin curling the edges of his mouth. Ginny dragged him to their room and closed the door after her. Her back rested on the wooden surface of the door; she looked at him with a mischievous grin on her lips.

‘D’you want to play?’ he said, noticing that she jerked away when he tried to catch her. She giggled and nodded, moving around with surprising speed to prevent him from catching her.

Harry took his wand out of his pocket, a delinquent smile stretching his lips. ‘Accio, Ginny!’

Inside her cage, Hedwig hooted, amused.

‘Mr Potter! You know that this charm doesn’t work with people!’ Ginny retorted, mimicking Professor Flitwick’s frown. Then she laughed at his sheepish expression, which slowed her down enough to allow him to reach her. Seconds later, his arms held her thin waist; she was still chuckling, but she rubbed her body against him in a way that was driving him insane.

‘Well, my summoning charm worked, after all. Five points to Gryffindor!’ he said, smiling at her with a look full of want. He kissed her sweetly as his hands passed over her body in a gentle caress.

She was magnificent. From the day he’d seen her at Ron and Hermione’s wedding, he’d kept going to and from the Burrow and 12 Grimmauld Place. His feelings for Ginny had strengthened, and he’d realised that he felt something more than friendship towards her.

He wasn’t sure that he loved her, though. He didn’t feel the same pang of pain in his heart than he’d felt for Cho. At Hogwarts, or even in Hong Kong, a few months before. He didn’t feel his legs turning like jelly and his mind walking into the clouds only because he’d caught her smile. But he felt happy when he was with her.

Eventually, he made up his mind and asked her to be his girlfriend; she accepted, never leaving his side since. She’d looked after him, giving him strength, cheering him up when he was sad, consoling him and trying to make him feel better when a Dementor passed by. She was his support, his rock—he needed her, desperately.

*

They made love, with fervour at first, and then more tenderly, until they were so exhausted that Harry swore nothing could make him move a muscle, not even Voldemort Apparating into their room with all his Death Eaters.

‘What would you do if they really Apparated here now?’ Ginny whispered into his ear with a chuckle.

‘I’d die. Tired, but happy,’ he replied, stretching his words a little and holding her tightly.

She answered with a happy giggle and then stared at the ceiling for a while, running her hands through his hair in a delicate caress.

‘Harry?’ she whispered.

Harry’s eyes were already shut; the exhaustion of the day, the emotions he’d felt, and the delicate touch of her hands through his hair...everything had lulled him into a sort of torpor. He didn’t notice that she’d called him, but replied automatically.

‘Hmmmm?’

‘Tell me that you love me,’ she murmured into his ear. Harry didn’t reply, relaxing happily into her embrace. ‘Say it, please...’ she pleaded. She waited for his reply for a long moment, as a spectral silence invaded the room, broken only by Hedwig ruffling her feathers into her cage.

In the end, she heard a light snore, realising that Harry had fallen asleep.

Underneath him, his breath still tickling her neck and moving her hair gently, Ginny used her wand to switch the light off. Then, she put it on the bedside table, together with Harry’s glasses. A silent tear fell from the corner of her eye down her cheek, staining her pillow.

Draco stared at the wall. His right cheek, where Ginny had slapped him, was hurting him badly; he was shuddering because of the cold, but the only coherent thing he could think of was that he still felt her taste in his mouth. Ginny’s taste.

What have I done? he thought, still unable to think properly in his cotton-filled head. He remembered only that he had felt the cold that he had learned to associate with a Dementor. The next thing he remembered was lying on his bed on top of Ginny Weasley.

I was kissing her. Damn! And I liked it too, he thought, shocked by the sudden realisation. He couldn’t believe it.

I remember what the Dementor showed me, that day with Marion, he mused, trying to clear his thoughts. And then he had it, as clear as day, and the very thought rushed the blood to his face. He’d kissed her because his fogged mind mistook her for Marion.

‘I’m a fool, a complete and utter fool,’ he decided, his hand dropping from his cheek and landing on his leg.

From the other side of the door, in the corridor, he heard Harry and Ginny’s voices, muttering things he couldn’t catch until he heard their bedroom door closing.

Feeling deep shivers invading his body, he decided he needed a piece of chocolate. So he got up, walked through the door and down the steps, reaching the kitchen.

‘Oh, it’s you, Malfoy.’ Ron’s voice caught him unprepared and startled him. He turned and saw the red-haired wizard sitting at the table, Hermione hugging him from behind.

‘Yeah, is there a problem, Weasel?’ replied Draco, feigning indifference. Ron stared at him, his eyes just thin slits in his face.

‘We heard Ginny screaming a few moments ago.’ Draco paled slightly, and the red-haired wizard noticed, of course. ‘What’s happened? Harry went upstairs to have a look and never came back.’

‘Nothing,’ said Draco. A kiss wasn’t exactly nothing, above all if stolen the way he did. But...he had promised not to insult them, not that he would never lie. ‘Where’s chocolate?’ he asked, trying to change the subject.

Hermione parted from Ron and walked towards a large cupboard at the side of the kitchen. She opened one of the doors and looked for something inside. Ron stood up and faced him; he towered over Draco by a good distance. His hazel eyes reflected Draco’s pale orbs; his frown clearly enhanced his feelings.

‘I’m bloody serious, Malfoy. Don’t you dare touch my sister! Oath or not, I’ll draw your eyes out and make you eat them for breakfast.’

Draco paled but still feigned confidence. When Hermione approached him holding a piece of chocolate, he took it and walked out, turning only to tell Ron, ‘There’s no danger, Weasley.’ Then, he turned again and started making his way up the stairs.

‘Uh, Malfoy?’ said Ron, forcing him to stop.

Draco turned again in the redhead’s direction, waiting for him to continue, but when Ron stayed silent too long for his tastes, he asked, ‘What is it?’

Ron cocked an eyebrow at him. ‘What have you done to your face?’ he asked.

‘Your sister has a heavy hand.’ Draco’s cheeks coloured. Not trusting himself to keep eye contact, he tore his gaze from Ron’s, nodded dismissively at him and made his way to his room.

***

‘Harry must’ve been right, Ron. Ginny was probably trying to wake him up because of a Dementor. The fact that he came looking for chocolate proves it.’ Hermione leant her head over her husband’s shoulders.

‘I know.’ Ron’s gaze shone with desire as he grabbed her arms and turned towards her, hugging her back.

‘Ginny’s a grown-up woman now, and Harry loves her, you know,’ said Hermione in a monotone, trying to cheer him up as they returned to the kitchen. ‘Let him take care of her.’

‘I dunno, Hermione. Sometimes... don’t you think that Ginny…’ He sighed, his gaze darting around the big kitchen as he thought about what he wanted to say next. He sighed again. ‘Maybe it’s just my imagination,’ he said eventually. He looked lovingly at his wife, who worked to take his cloak off and started to undress him. He sat, and she leaned down on him, wrapping him into another hug.

‘Let Harry and Ginny fix their issues, Ron. If you get in between them, you risk making things worse.’

He started playing with her hair. Ron loved sinking his fingers in it and spending time curling its tips around his fingers. It was a part of her body that he’d never considered worthy of a second look when they were at Hogwarts—he’d always considered it bushy and unattractive. However, now it was one of the parts of her he loved most. He kept coiling it for a while as she hugged him, satisfied by his closeness that comforted them. Then, Hermione parted from the hug and checked the cauldron with Lupin’s potion. As Ron groaned, she flashed him a smile.

‘Oh honey, you know I must check if it’s done. Remus needs to drink a lot of it tonight and tomorrow.’ She stirred the potion thoroughly, turning the ladle several times.

‘Yes, but...there are already ten bottles filled with the bloody thing over there.’

‘Don’t be such a baby. This is the last lot for tonight. I believe you can wait a few minutes.’ She glanced at him furtively, a cunning smile curling her lips.

This was enough to let Ron lose his pout. ‘Okay, then I’ll finish reading this book. Has Sirius already gone to bed?’

‘Yes, I had to force him to go, as he wanted to stay here with Remus. But Remus told him that he could totally drink the potion with no help, so Sirius went upstairs.’

Ron closed the book and stared at his wife, a frown furrowing his brows. ‘Honestly, Hermione... don’t you think that something changed between them from that day?’

‘Harry and Ginny? Do you mean September the 11th?’ she asked. Ron nodded, and she sighed. ‘I don’t know. Yes, Harry’s reaction was weird. But…we all were in a state of shock.’ She turned the fire off as she spoke, and looked for an empty bottle in the closet.

‘Yes, but Ginny was cold with Harry the next few days. And since then, she often looks odd,’ mused Ron.

Hermione put the liquid into an empty bottle she had just found and cast a washing charm on the cauldron. ‘I already told you my opinion. Let them deal with their problems.’ She moved towards him and forced him up, flinging her arms around his neck and going on her tiptoes to reach his height. ‘You trust Harry, don’t you?’

‘Of course I do. Maybe...maybe you’re right, I worry too much,’ he said.

Her lips started to draw a light path of kisses on his jaw and neck, indulging briefly where his Adam’s Apple was bobbing up and down. As she straddled him, started to undress him, and her hands ran feverishly on his bare chest, Ron couldn’t bear it any longer. He picked her up bridal style and carried her to their room on the second floor.

When they left, Lupin entered the kitchen and grabbed one of the bottles Hermione had just filled with Wolfsbane potion, drinking a big sip directly from it.

‘The air is electric tonight,’ he muttered. ‘It’ll rain tomorrow.’

To be Continued…

Author notes:

Hello there! Here’s chapter 8! Sorry for taking so long to update! My MLBB fanfic is taking a toll on me. But…here we are! We are in unhinged and never released in English territory at last! I hope you liked this chapter and will let me know your thoughts in a comment.

I would like to thank the lovely people who wrote a review for this story, and those who blessed it with kudos, or put it in their favourites or follows. I hope you’re enjoying it. Come on; it’s time to get out of hiding and send me a comment! Comments/reviews and kudos are very much appreciated and encouraged; they keep me going even when I feel down. Since this part is completely new to the English-speaking fandom, I would appreciate knowing what you feel about it.

I shall see you soon for chapter 9, “Ginny’s Revenge”!

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