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A dark little part of her brain could admit that at least part of what she was doing was designed to get under Harry's skin. She was angry with him, and as far as she was concerned, she had every right to be. He had almost kissed her after all - then gone right on to Tonks. The bastard.

She knew that it was primarily her pride that was broken, not her heart. (Well, not really.) She was over him. (Mostly.) What was really bothering her wasn't so much what Harry had done (although that was certainly not something she would let go of lightly) but that she'd let herself fall back into the schoolgirl crush she'd had on him so long ago. She loved him, but she wanted very much to not be in love with him.

Telling herself he was no different from her brothers just wasn't cutting it anymore.

Ever since they'd battled the death eaters just outside of Surrey she'd been aware of him in a completely new way. It wasn't the shy, sneak-a-glance-and-look-away-before-he-knows-you're-looking kind of awareness. It wasn't even the blushing realization that someone you were attracted to was nearby. It wasn't that comfortable and didn't feel that safe. He'd looked up from where he was kneeling and they'd seen each other across the field. They were drenched, muddy, exhausted and bruised but the look that had passed between them had ignored all that. It had been need, pure and simple, but deeper than anything else she'd ever felt.

And it hadn't gone away.

A week ago, he'd tried to kiss her. They'd come so close, and it had filled her with renewed hope that maybe, just maybe he might feel something towards her after all. Finally. Then Charlie had walked into the mansion and set off that damned portrait. They'd jumped apart guiltily like they were still 15, and he hadn't tried it again.

That night she'd gone down to the kitchen, ostensibly for a glass of water (but in reality with hopes of running into Harry). Sounds that she recognized were coming from inside and she tried not to smile as she wondered just who it might be. Amused curiosity had finally gotten the better of her, and she'd pushed the door open a crack.

She'd gone cold when she realized what she was seeing.

Harry was standing with his profile to her, braced against the counter. Tonks was sitting on the counter with her hands digging into his shoulders. There was no doubt as to what they were doing.

In the shadows she could make out the edges of clothes that had been thrown haphazardly at the kitchen table, but she couldn't keep her eyes off of Harry as he moved against the other witch. His back stiffened and she saw Tonks throw her head back, then slid her arms around him and rest her head against his chest as he brought one hand up to brush back her hair. The scene had gone rather suddenly from almost impersonal to intimate with that one gesture and Ginny realized that cold could give way to pain.

She didn't think she'd made a sound, but Harry turned his head just enough that his eyes met hers. Confused, hurt, and more than a little embarrassed she backed away and nearly ran up the stairs - anything to get away.

*****

Now she was sitting in a Muggle restaurant with Seamus Finnigan and trying her hardest to make small talk. She genuinely liked the jovial Irishman, but so far the date had been... boring, she decided. He was the fourth guy in two weeks she'd gone out with and so far none of them were turning out right. It had begun with a rather quiet Order member named Andrew. He'd been so sweet and awkward when he'd asked her out that she'd found herself incapable of refusing him, despite her emotional turmoil surrounding Harry. In the end, he hadn't been what she wanted. It had given her a mission though. She was going to keep dating until she found the man to make her forget that Harry even existed. She was determined.

Seamus said something and Ginny looked up to see the waiter that was standing by their table.

"Anything for dessert, ma'am?"

Ginny didn't even consider the menu before shaking her head. "No, thank you." All she wanted right now was to go home. Seamus had been a perfect gentleman and an entertaining companion, but trying to be pleasant was exhausting her. She was in a foul mood and wanted to wallow in it for a while. Maybe while taking a bath or drinking wine. Possibly both.

"Ginny, are you ok?" Seamus reached over and took her hand, but it wasn't a romantic gesture. He wasn't being her date anymore, he was being her friend.

"I don't know. I'm sorry, I just… I'm tired."

He gave her a look that told her plainly that he didn't believe her, but he didn't push her. "Do you want to go on home?"

"Yes. Do you mind?"

"'Course not." He paused. "It really is ok, Gin. I promise."

She managed a thin smile and let him lead her out the door.

*****

They apparated just outside the hidden door to Grimmauld Place and Seamus gave her kiss on her cheek before vanishing again. Ginny opened the door tiredly and started for the stairs to her room.

"You're back early."

She jumped slightly at the sound of Harry's voice. When she turned she saw him leaning up against the doorframe of the parlor. His arms were crossed over his chest and he was on the very edge of a scowl.

"What is *that* supposed to mean, Harry?" she asked with a long-suffering sigh.

"Nothing. Just that you're back earlier than you usually are from your… dates." He pushed away from the doorway and stepped towards her.

Her eyes narrowed.

"Not that it's any of your business, but just what the hell are you trying to imply?"

"Why should I care what you do or who you do it with?"

"That," she hissed, "would be precisely what I'm asking you. I'm tired, I'm irritable, and I'm bloody well through with this conversation." She turned to go to her room.

A hand closed around her arm and she felt her back hit the wall behind her. Harry was standing close enough that she couldn't maneuver around him to get away. More disturbingly, he was close enough she could feel him.

"What are you doing, Harry?" she should be afraid. Part of her mind kept telling her that, but her instincts just wouldn't listen. She was frustrated, she was irritated to the point of angry, but she wasn't afraid.

She was also, she realized belatedly, starting to get turned on.

One of his hands slid up her arm, across her shoulder, and stopped against her neck. His thumb rubbed absently along the line of her throat while he stood there silent.

"That's enough." She pushed him away roughly and took several steps before she turned back to face him. "Whatever game you're playing, I don't have the energy for it. I don't tell you who you can and can't shag, and you don't tell me, got it?"

"No."

Ginny froze.

"It makes me crazy. You make me crazy, did you know that?" He didn't make a move toward her this time, which was perhaps the only reason she stayed where she was instead of bolting the rest of the way up the stairs. "Being around you day after day," he continued, "and not being able to do anything about it, then watching you go traipsing off with a different guy every night…"

"So it's ok for you to go shag Tonks, but heaven forbid I should even have dinner with another man? That's brilliant Harry - bloody brilliant. Just because you don't want me, doesn't mean that I shouldn't date someone who does! You won't even be in the same room with me half the time - then you nearly kiss me, but run away like it would be something to be ashamed of!" Her thoughts were racing madly and she wasn't sure if she was even making sense anymore. She knew what she thought she heard from him, but was afraid that if she looked at it she would only see what she wanted to see. Anger was a safe armor she could slip on to defend herself from falling even farther.

"I'd never be ashamed of you, Gin." Harry's voice dropped to nearly a whisper. He finally took a step towards her, then another when she didn't bolt. When he was finally toe to toe with her she met his eyes and searched them for an answer.

"Then why didn't you kiss me? Why did you turn around and go after someone else?" And why have you overlooked me all these years? a part of her cried, but she didn't say it out loud.

"Because you scare the hell out of me. How I feel when I look at you scares the hell out of me sometimes."

Pretty words, she thought, but how could she trust them? She was tired of being hurt, tired of being bruised, and very, very tired of being in love with someone who didn't love her back. No matter how much she fought it, the littlest thing could have her hopes soaring.

"And I never - never," he emphasized, "haven't wanted you." He grabbed her again and she was dimly aware of his fingers getting tangled in her braid as he started kissing her. His other hand was on her wrist and she reached blindly with her other hand to brace herself against a wall.

He bit at her lower lip and when her mouth opened in surprise he slid his tongue inside. She heard him groan and he pressed closer until she could feel how hard he was through his jeans.

When he broke away to take a breath she jerked her head back enough to speak.

"You can't use me like you used Tonks, Harry."

"I was drunk and things got out of control."
The flash in his eyes told her she'd made him angry. "And you're not drunk now? This isn't out of control? You've been manhandling me right in the middle of the fucking hallway!"

"I'm not drunk. I haven't been since that night."

"That doesn't make it any better - you led me on Harry, then dropped me as soon as someone else caught your eye."

"I never led you on, damn it."

"Oh, that's right, I forgot. You've never noticed me at all. For you to lead me on, you'd have to actually be interested in me first."

"Who says I haven't been? Who says I'm not?"

She gave him a look before turning away. Tears were beginning to threaten in the back of her throat and she'd be damned if she'd let him see her cry over him. Over this.

"You've got a lousy way of showing it."

"You want to know why I've been avoiding you? Why I don't like being around you? You get to me. You always have but I was too young and stupid to realize it. I'm still young and stupid, but there are some things I see much more clearly. I'm scared of losing control, Gin. If I lose control, people could die. But when I'm around you, when I'm close to you, it takes every single bit that I have not to reach over and touch you. I need you and that scares the hell out of me. It makes me vulnerable in a way I can't afford to be. I can't look at you and *not* want you, and seeing you with all these other men pisses me off because you're mine and you always have been."

"I'm not yours, Harry, because you've never made me yours. You missed your chance."

"The hell I did." To prove his point he reached out for her again, but this time instead of kissing her mouth he brought his lips to the edge of her throat. She jerked in his arms, but it wasn't a move to get away. He moved up slightly and she felt his breath against her ear as he whispered to her.

"Let me make you mine."

Her knees buckled. Hope and dreams and reality all blurred together in an intoxicating way. It might all come crashing down on her with the morning, but she wanted to dive deep into the dream tonight.

Harry took her silence as acquiescence and grabbed her hand. He led her into one of the side rooms and used his wand to lock the door. Then he turned to her and let his eyes wander over her. She could feel him looking at her and it was more exposing than if he'd just stripped her naked. She closed her eyes.

Hands brushed over her hair and her shoulders, then down her sides. When they reached the hem of her dress they started back up, taking the yellow fabric with them. She let her arms go up as he pulled her dress over her head before throwing it haphazardly away.

Then he was kissing her and she couldn't stop herself from kissing him back. He grabbed her hips to pull her against him and she braced herself on his shoulders for leverage. Their tongues tangled and she felt him lift her up just a little bit more so that the juncture between her legs pressed against him. She could feel how hot he was, even through the fabric of his jeans. They stumbled blindly over to the couch nearby and he half lowered, half pushed her down onto it before kneeling above her.

Ginny reached up and grabbed the edge of Harry's t-shirt and tried to pull it over his head but found she couldn't raise up enough. He grinned at her and jerked it off so that she could run her hands over his skin.

He'd ended up kneeling between her legs, which forced her legs to spread wide to accommodate him. He trailed a hand from her knee to her hip and watched as she shivered. He slid up farther, teasing at but not quite touching the black material that covered her between her thighs. Then he went higher, and with a little bit of maneuvering managed to get her bra off of her. For several long moments he just looked at her as she lay there, brushing his hands almost absently along her curves and the lines over her body.

It took her by surprise when he quickly leaned down and took her nipple into his mouth. Her back arched with shock and she felt the edge of his teeth scrape across her skin. He worked his way along her collar bone and the line of her neck until they were kissing again. He lowered himself down onto her enough that she could raise her hips slightly and rub against him, driving them both crazy. When he pulled away this time her hands were already trying to unfasten his belt and jeans, and he moved his fingers over hers until she freed the buckle and the first button, then went back to fondling her breasts as she tried the zipper.

It thrilled her when she slid her hand inside to touch him and he bit his lip to keep from crying out.

He stood up then and made short work of stripping his jeans and shorts off and onto the floor. She expected him to lay back down with her but he didn’t. Instead he slid her panties down and pulled them slowly off her legs. When he finally did kneel back down between her thighs he tested her with his fingers. Ginny closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing when he slid two fingers inside her. The fullness and the friction were heightened because it was Harry that was inside of her this time. She felt a tug on her hair and opened her eyes to see him looking down at her.

"I don't want you to close your eyes, Gin. I want to see what I'm doing to you." She focused her eyes on him as he continued his slow, almost lazy movements inside her. It was good, wonderful really, but she found that she wanted - needed - more.

"Please," she whispered, not even realizing it was the first thing she'd said since they'd begun.

"Please what?" Harry asked devilishly.

"You've been teasing me too long - I need you."

He slid his fingers out of her and pushed her legs even farther apart. She both saw and felt him as he slid inside of her, slowly, until they were completely joined. He cupped her face in his hands and locked his eyes with hers.

"Mine. Always. I won't forget again."

Her heart broke, but this time in a good way. Beneath, it was whole again.

"It goes both ways," she whispered. And because it was her challenge, her hurdle, she was the first one to say it. "I love you."

"And I love you." He started to move against her, inside her, and she couldn't even begin to say anything else as the rhythm built between them. He pressed her legs up and thrust into her more quickly and it didn't take much to throw her over the edge. She was still floating slowly down when his fingers dug into her hips and he came.

He lay on top of her a long time, leisurely tracing nonsense patterns along her side. Finally he shifted over so that she was cradled between him and the back of the couch and pulled the old throw down over both of them.

Harry thought Ginny was asleep, but just as he was closing his eyes, he heard her.

"Promise me you won't go away in the morning? That you're not just a dream this time?"

He tightened his arms around her. "I'm no dream. I'm real and I'm here. And I'm going to make mistakes and piss you off. But I'm also going to make you laugh and make you happy. I hope."

"Good," she said finally, and let herself fall asleep.