(For the next little while, Harry's pronouns are going to be as confused as she is. Bare with us here until she can figure it out. Also, probable trigger warning for angst, and maybe minor self harm. Remember, she wouldn't have ever heard anything except slurs to describe what she is)
~ Harry was beyond freaking out. He had been trying everything he could think of to remove the earrings for several minutes now. He'd even gotten as far as pointing their wand at the earrings, but he didn't actually know any cutting curses, and in the end he was too afraid of getting their self, or maybe the Weasley's, in trouble for using magic outside of school. He'd tried to summon more wandless magic, but he was way too freaked out to concentrate. Finally, in a last desperate attempt, he began tugging on the right earring so hard that he started bleeding from his inner ear, and from where it was magic'd on as well. It was all he could do to stifle his scream of pain, frustration, and terror.
He shoved back hard from the vanity and accidentally toppled the chair over and fell to the floor, where she curled into a tiny ball, hugging her knees to her chest as near silent sobs shook her frame. Why!? Why did she have to try on the stupid earrings? What was wrong with them? Why did she have to be like… like this!?
It only took her a few minutes to stop crying. She had long ago learned, by force, how to bury her feelings and move on with whatever task she had been assigned. That didn't mean she wasn't still feeling horribly ashamed, and terrified of asking for help.
She grabbed her beanie and tucked the earring up underneath it, dried their eyes on her shirt sleeve, and fervently hoped Hermione was still in Ginny's room.
~ Hermione was sitting on Ginny's bed, several books and a large, multi-subject notebook spread out in front of her. She looked up when she heard a light knock on the open door, and was surprised when Harry slipped in, closing the door behind him.
"I thought you were already out with the rest… of… Harry? What's wrong?"
Hermione jumped to her feet, knocking a couple of her books to the floor, as soon as she got a good look at her, small but mighty, best friend. The boy who had gone through more suffering than she suspected even she knew about, and never once complained. That boy was standing before her right now, and looked to be on the verge of tears. Actually, make that more tears, because once she had a better look, she realized that he had clearly been bawling very recently!
Harry hovered near the door, eyes downcast and hunched in on himself. He refused to look in her direction. She watched as he struggled to answer her for several moments. She could not stand seeing Harry looking so broken, she rushed over and pulled the small boy into a tight embrace. She felt him tense, and was painfully reminded of their first year when Harry actively avoided physical contact, but he'd been fine not twenty minutes ago. She could feel it as his small frame shook, when a few of the sobs he was obviously struggling to clamp down on escaped. Whatever this was, it was bad.
"C-could you, umm… P-please, 'mione… I d-don't know how to umm, they're s-stuck on, and umm…"
~ Hermione had been gone for maybe five minutes, but to Harry it felt like hours. She had timidly asked Hermione for help. Stumbling over some lame excuse about wanting to make sure the earrings worked, or something equally stupid. There was no way she was buying that, not when Harry'd been so embarrassed she couldn't even feign nonchalance. 'Mione hadn't called her out on it though, but the problem was she didn't know how to undo the earrings either. She'd fussed over Harry's bloodied ear, and tried to convince her to allow Mrs Weasley to fix everything, but Harry had panicked, absolutely refusing. She'd asked Harry what she thought they should do then, and had been very taken aback when she'd asked Hermione if she'd go get Ginny. Hermione supposed Ginny might know how the earrings worked, and at the least she'd know which magical supplies they had that would be best to fix up Harry's ear.
Harry had gotten more and more anxious the longer she'd sat there waiting. She was so scared that Ginny might say something to the rest of them. She knew Hermione wouldn't talk, at least not until she had gotten the truth out of Harry. She was her best friend, and had more than proven she'd at least hear her out over the last two years. She was much less sure of Ginny. She liked Harry, of that they were sure, but this was a lot! What was she even supposed to tell them anyway? The truth? Harry wasn't even sure what the truth was herself! She'd been pacing for the last couple of minutes, but it wasn't helping, so she sat down on the bed and hugged a Demiguise cuddly* (UK version of "Plushie") to herself, head down, knees tucked in firm.
~Ginny quietly opened her door to find her young hero tucked up against the headboard on the farthest side of the bed, curled into the smallest ball he could possibly make. He was clutching one of her stuffed animals as if his life depended on it. She silently stepped in and gently closed the door.
"Hey there, Harry," she greeted so softly it was almost a whisper. The young boy's only indication he'd heard was the smallest twitch of his shoulders when she'd called out.
Ginny crept a little closer before trying again, "d'you like my little Demiguise cuddly? Aunt Tessie got it for me one year."
Harry raised his head just enough to take in the squishy little guy before softly asking what a Demiguise was.
Ginny had to think about it for a second, she was distracted by how uncharacteristically fragile Harry seemed.
"Umm, well, they're a magical animal that can go invisible, and umm, they can see a small way into the future. They're pretty smart, and supposed to be really gentle, and kinda timid, and nurturing." She tilted her head to the side as she suddenly realised something. "Kinda a lot like you I think, huh Harry?"
That earned her a small smile, though he still wouldn't look at her. She'd made it to the bed by then, and so she carefully sat down, trying not to spook the broken boy of her dreams. She'd already begun to realize that the actual person wasn't very alike the image she'd built up over the years, but this… this was honestly freaking her out a little.
"He's cute," Harry murmured.
If Ginny hadn't been so close, she wasn't sure she'd have even heard him. On an impulse she offered, "Why don't you keep him now, Harry? I think he'd like to look after you for a while."
Harry finally looked up at that, eyes wide, another, slightly larger, smile on his lips.
"I've never had a cuddly before," he said, holding the demiguise out for a better look. "Does he have a name?"
"Constantine, but you don't have to call him that if you don't want," she was barely speaking above a whisper. Her throat was too tight to speak, though she wasn't entirely sure why.
After a small cough, she asked, "So Hermione mentioned you were having a little problem. Could I come over there and give you a hand with that?"
"D-do you know how to, umm…"
When Ginny nodded with an encouraging smile, he crawled over next to her, still hugging the cuddly, and buried his face into it, until he was just barely peeking over its head, but he wouldn't look at her. She gently pulled off his beanie. When the quaffles dropped down, she accidentally let out an amused little 'hmm', causing Harry to lock down.
"Oh, n- no, Harry, I- I wasn't laughing at you, promise. I was just surprised. I'd have expected you to choose snitch earrings is all. Really..."
He took in a quavering breath, "I bought all of the girls on the team a pair… for Christmas. I, uh, I actually got you some too, only I wasn't sure if you'd prefer snitch ones... so I got a pair of those too… but, maybe you'd… w-want these ones instead?"
He'd started off pretty well there, but he'd barely even been whispering the last little bit. Ginny's heart felt like it was slowly breaking in two. Harry had wanted to get her something nice for Christmas, and somehow he knew she was a Quidditch fan, but now he was hurting so much because of that gift.
She reached over and gently removed the first earring, using a simple, wandless incantation.
"Hey, umm, Harry? You know one of my brothers is gay right? Charlie," Ginny spoke softly, afraid that off she spoke any louder her voice might break.
"I'm not gay… I-i'm just, it's… I'm not," Harry sighed.
"O-okay, Harry. That's okay." Ginny realized she was still leaning against Harry, so she quickly reached over to remove the second earring. She hesitated for a moment at the bloody mess the tortured child before her had made of his ear, choking down the tears that she longed to shed. Once she'd removed it, she sat back and held them up for closer inspection.
"These are pretty cute, Harry." When he didn't respond, she stood and asked, "Do you mind if, umm… could I go ahead and let Hermione back in? I'm sure she's getting anxious by now, but she didn't want to crowd you while I, umm…"
At his nod, she stepped over to open the door. Hermione offered Ginny a tight smile, before wrapping Harry in a gentle hug. Ginny lingered by the door, feeling incredibly isolated, as Hermione softly whispered something to her fragile hero.
While Hermione cleaned Harry's ear, Ginny moved over to sit on his other side.
Harry took in a shallow breath, before attempting to address them both, "So, umm… I'm not gay. I… It's just that… i umm, I kinda… it's…" Harry visibly stilled, gathering up some inner strength, "i just, I like… pretty things."
"Oh Harry, that… that's okay. It's, I mean, you're allowed to like whatever you want. I, we all liked your new clothes right? And, well, I mean from what I have seen anyway, most of your new wardrobe is wonderfully colorful, and I, umm…" Hermione's rambled reassurances petered out, and Ginny helpful stepped in to fill the gap, or at least she would have, if she wasn't too busy putting her foot in her mouth.
"Hermione's right, Harry, of course liking prettier things is fine, but it's just that, well… you know we care about you right? And well, I think we just don't understand. You, umm, well you seem way too distraught, at least for only being caught trying on a pair of earrings… Please, Harry, what are you so afr- uh -worried about? Is it the other kids at school? Or, wait, is it maybe those muggles you live with? Ron always says they're awful…"
Harry tensed, his complexion going chalky. "M-maybe we should go ahead and go meet back up with the guys? Uh, Charlie wanted to fly with me, yeah, uh okay so I'll just go get my broom, er, um yeah okay bye then." Harry quickly made his escape.
"Be sure to splash some cold water on your face before you go, Harry. It'll help hide that you were, well, uh, you know." Hermione called after him.
When Harry was gone, the two girls looked at each other, both at a loss to explain the intensity of his reactions.
*Okay, ending has been rewritten!*
Whew, this one was a little hard to write, for multiple reasons. I can remember the first time I tried to come out to someone, and holy moly that was tough. I couldn't force myself to say it for so many minutes, and I kept breaking down and crying every time I got close to saying it.
Jtijerina41 wow, a cheerleading outfit! That's awesome, and thanks for the encouragement!
Thanks Thunderclaw and all the guests!
Feedback is much appreciated. I feel like I'm doing a decent job, but as I'm the one writing it I'm constantly second guessing how well the words flow, whether or not the humor is landing, and in these last couple chapters, how well I'm getting the emotions across.