The glass of the hospital wing window was cold and unyielding against Ginny’s cheek as she looked out over the Hogwarts grounds. The sloping lawns were dotted with black-robed students enjoying the last few carefree days of term in the June sunlight. But Ginny’s eyes were drawn to a solitary black point slowly making its way down the path towards Hagrid’s cabin. She hoped Harry would find the solace he was seeking there.
Merlin knew he hadn’t found it here, surrounded by his closest friends. Ginny had been observing him as closely as she could ever since that night in the Department of Mysteries. He’d come to visit Ron and Hermione often enough, while they were still under Madam Pomfrey’s care, but he never stayed long. Ginny thought the reason for this was because Harry felt it was his duty to visit his friends. In his mind, he was the reason they’d been hurt, after all, not just Ron and Hermione, but everyone who had been there that night.
Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, and she had all followed him on a wild goose chase to the Ministry of Magic in an attempt to rescue Sirius. Except Sirius hadn’t been there in the beginning. What they’d found instead was a group of Death Eaters, the Dark Lord’s most loyal supporters. Harry had even come face to face with You-Know-Who himself. And when the Order of the Phoenix had come to their rescue, Sirius had paid the ultimate price, falling beyond the veil in his duel with Bellatrix Lestrange. He would never return.
Ginny knew that Harry had to be blaming his own rashness for all of this, and because of that, he couldn’t stay in one place. His friends couldn’t offer him comfort in his grief, because he’d look at them and be reminded that he was the reason they were in the hospital wing in the first place. Even after a few days, when Neville Luna and Ginny had been released, while Ron and Hermione were well on the road to recovery from their physical wounds, none of them could help Harry with his own unseen pain.
Ginny had discerned it in his eyes just now when their gazes had held for a moment. He’d smiled with her, actually smiled, sending an electric sort of thrill through her, a current she’d fought to ignore – she was beyond those feelings now, she told herself.
But then she’d looked into his eyes and seen that his smile was merely superficial. His eyes were seething with feelings that he didn’t know how to express. She’d had to look away or be overcome by her own rising emotions, all the while wishing she were brave enough to offer him her shoulder.
She wished he were brave enough to accept it.
But Ginny was small, her shoulders narrow. Perhaps it would take someone as large as Hagrid to truly take on Harry’s burdens for him.
Ginny placed her palm against the pane’s smooth surface as she watched Harry trail around the side of Hagrid’s hut after Fang until he disappeared from her sight.
"What’s so interesting out there, Ginny?"
Ron’s voice had echoed across the room, causing her to jump in surprise. "Nothing really," she murmured in reply, unwilling to tear her gaze from the scene before her.
"Yeah, it really looks boring out there…" Ron replied, his tone sarcastic.
Ginny was about to turn back to her brother, when Hermione’s spoke up. "It’s a nice day out there. Why don’t you go out and enjoy it? We’ll be all right in here."
Normally it would have crossed Ginny’s mind that Hermione wanted to be alone with Ron and was trying to get rid of her. Not today. She was too preoccupied. But then they all were.
"Yeah, I think I’ll do that," Ginny said in a voice as distant as Luna’s normally was.
Ginny made her way from the hospital wing and meandered in the general direction of the entrance hall, but she didn’t really feel like going outside. In reality, she didn’t know what she wanted. Over the past two days, details like whether her brothers’ swamp had been taken care of or who Michael Corner had decided to take up with had become a lot less important to her. She didn’t much feel like making small talk with her fellow Gryffindors.
For some reason she stopped at another window, which overlooked the grounds. To her surprise she noticed Harry emerging from Hagrid’s hut. Already. Ginny sighed to herself. He hadn’t stayed nearly long enough. It looked as if even Hagrid’s shoulders hadn’t been broad enough.
Ginny wondered who Harry could possibly turn to now. She watched as he started off across the grounds, heading towards the lake this time. Other students waved to him, but he went resolutely on until he’d disappeared behind some bushes on the lake shore. From Ginny’s vantage point, she could see when he emerged again at the water’s edge, but something told her she was the only person who could see him.
Harry had chosen solitude.
He sat down and looked out across the shimmering water. Ginny could imagine him looking unseeingly towards the opposite shore. From this distance, he seemed to sit, motionless, but Ginny was sure his shoulders were shaking.
Her fingers curled into themselves against the glass, responding to her unvoiced desire to place her hand on his shoulder and tighten her grip, to enfold him into a comforting embrace. But at the same time she knew he wasn’t ready.
Part of her wondered if he ever would be.