Harry sat underneath the comforter, flashlight in hand, considering the possibilities for his History of Magic essay: "Why the Goblins Feel the Need to Rebel Every 200 Years". Even though they had loosened up on the rules (due mostly to the fact that his godfather, Sirius Black was a convicted murderer), the Dursleys were still paranoid about any sort of magic at all, and Harry felt it was best not to rile them at this moment in time.
The Weasleys had always treated Harry much better than the Dursleys, and he wished he was there right now, instead of Number Four, Privet Drive. The thought of the Weasleys made him think about Ron, which sort of depressed Harry. He wasn't going to be able to see Ron until his birthday, when he would finally be allowed to spend the rest of the summer holiday with them.
Hedwig knocked politely on Harry's window as quiet as she could possibly be. Harry had sent her off with letters to Ron and Hermione earlier that day, and she had returned with their responses. Suddenly Harry glanced at the alarm clock he'd pinched from Dudley whose sound didn't work because his fat cousin had sat on it one too many times. It was four in the morning, time for him to put away his books and destroy all evidence that he had been working on anything remotely magical.
His head hit the pillow and Harry immediately fell asleep.
Blissful, dreamless sleep, sleep Harry desperately needed was not to be, for he awoke at six that same morning to the screams of his Aunt Petunia. Running down the stairs to see what exactly the problem was, he grinned. Emerging from the fireplace were two red heads.
"Hello," said Arthur Weasley, Ron's father, Head of the Department of Muggle Relations at the British Ministry, which ran only during war times. Vernon Dursley dropped his fat jaw in amazement. After all, Harry had just arrived, and there were several things that he still needed done around the house. He was still fixated on the idea that he could somehow drive the abnormality from Harry with hard work. Besides, Harry still had to put in that new floor. Petunia just wanted all of them, including Harry, out of her house. However, both of them kept their mouths shut.
"Ron!" Harry and the extremely tall red head shook hands and clasped each other in one armed embraces.
"You all right there, Harry?" At this Harry nodded and they broke apart. He turned his head to face Arthur. Vernon and Petunia had not opened their mouths yet.
"You're here early," Harry said, pretending not care. In truth, he couldn't believe his luck. Arthur and Ron could see through his façade, though, and grinned.
"Molly and I convinced Dumbledore that it would be safe for you to spend a longer time at the Burrow."
"All right!" Harry jumped up, one fist in the air. He was the happiest he had been since the last encounter with the Dark Lord, which had left Professor Snape in a near comatose state with his cover blown, Peter Pettigrew in the custody of the Ministry of Magic, and Dean Thomas dead. "I'll go pack my things."
"Now wait a bloody moment. Did I say you could go?" Vernon Dursley sneered. At the look on Harry's face he said, "See here…"
"No. You see here. I'm going to the Weasleys' for the summer, and there's nothing you can do about it." Harry's voice was demanding, harsh. Vernon recoiled and was about to yell again when Petunia shook her head. When he saw that he wasn't going to have to argue about it anymore, he took off for the stairs. Ron just shook his head.
Ginny woke with a start. Harry was coming today if everything went well, and that meant her nightmares would cease for a while, while she felt protected from Him. Tom.
She would still wake in a cold sweat, dreaming of his face. However, if she managed to hold on to the dream, to remain asleep, the dream would shift. She would become Lily Potter. Seeing, feeling, and hearing everything that Lily saw on the night she died up until James was killed. Pain would wrench her heart in two, tears would swell up, and she would wake with a soaked pillow.
Hermione was the only one who knew about the dreams, and the correspondence between them had grown so personal Ginny considered "Mione" to be her best friend. Still, she couldn't bring herself to tell Mione, or anyone for that matter, about becoming Lily Potter every night.
‘Hermione would probably think that I'm still that 2nd year who had a crush on "The Famous Harry Potter".' Yet another voice in her head sneered back, ‘You still are. People, especially Harry, think that you have a crush on him because he is "The Famous Harry Potter".'
In her heart, Ginny knew that her feelings were much more than a simple crush. Still, Harry barely paid any attention to her, other than to acknowledge her presence as Ron's little sister.
Biting her lip, Ginny made the decision she had made every day of the week this summer. Nobody would ever know about the dreams.
Minerva McGonagall sat in her room in the temporary addition to the Burrow, looking out the window at a particularly sad looking Ginny Weasley. As she watched, Ginny tossed a lock of her unruly red hair out of her eyes. Minerva pondered not for the first time why the story was always the same with the Potter men. The Professor had watched three generations of them flounder around in life.
She knew the story. The girl would develop the crush, adoring from far away (okay so maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but still…) and the young man would be completely dense and not notice until he himself developed one. Then he would go about acting like an idiot trying to earn her affection, not realizing that she had been in love with him the whole time. The only question in Minerva's mind was how long it was going to take this young Potter. There was one advantage to loving them, though as Lily had pointed out. Potter men fell in love once, once only and hard.
In fact, she was recalling Lily Evans right now. Red hair, that was what had triggered the memory. Lily Evans had bright red hair. Suddenly she stood. Now was not the time to get emotional. Heaven only knew how the relationship was going to work out, what with Voldermort running around alive and all. Then again, adolescent hearts were curious things and no amount of wishing was going to change anything.
‘Although,' she thought with a smile, ‘the wishes of Albus Dumbledore are nothing to be sneezed at.
Nothing had changed at the Burrow since Harry had been there last, in the summer before his fifth year. He stepped out of the fireplace after Ron and ran a hand through his hair, brushing his scar gently. Mrs. Weasley walked in just as Harry winced from the chance contact. She was just about to exclaim in horror when Minerva McGonagall walked in.
"He-l-l-l-o, P-P-ro-fe-ssor," he stammered. The head of Gryffindor house smiled broadly.
"Surprised to see me, Harry? Don't be. Molly and I are good friends." Ron nodded and winked. Harry glared at Ron.
"It gave Bill and Charlie quite a start when they found out. Fred and George took it in stride, of course, but Percy had quite a fit."
"You never mentioned Professor McGonagall coming to your house before," Harry accused Ron as they trudged up the stairs.
"Well, normally she doesn't come up here. Mum always exchanged letters with her, but for some reason Dumbledore gave her the summer off and Mum thought it would be nice if she came and spent some time with us. They go off and shop and such but for the most part she keeps to herself."
"I thought Professor McGonagall was ages older than your mom." Ron bit his lip and opened his mouth to reply.
"She is, but Mum always said that they exchanged so many owls about Fred and George, they might as well have been colleagues. McGonagall was her head of house, too."
There was a sudden explosion from one of the rooms upstairs. "I thought Fred and George were moving to Diagon Alley," Harry said, amused.
"They are, in about a month. Meanwhile, they're busy driving Mum insane with new inventions."
"I don't know what the Burrow would be like without having to live in constant fear of the newest from Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes," he said and grinned. Ron noticed he was a great deal happier away from the Dursleys. ‘Probably because he won't have time to stew about the battle here at the Burrow,' he thought. ‘That would make me happy if I was him.'
Ron's room was as orange as it had always been, Harry noted with amusement. Chudley Cannons grinned at him from posters all over the room. He threw his side of the trunk down at the same time as Ron let his go.
"Thanks for rescuing me, Ron," he said. Ron laughed, but he couldn't help but notice how grateful Harry's eyes were.
Ginny could hear Harry and Ron in their room, discussing all sorts of things, but mostly Quidditch, unless she missed her guess. ‘What would Harry think of me now,' she wondered. He probably wouldn't notice her at all, she thought and gave her ponytail a final tug and headed downstairs to be the last one at the table, again.
The food was being passed around the Weasley table busily when Ginny finally came down.
"Hey Gin!" Ron called out, his mouth full of sausage. Harry raised his head and smiled.
Ginny's heart stopped for a minute when she saw Harry's grin, but she forced herself to listen to the conversation about the newest broomstick, the Firebolt909. She honestly didn't care for Quidditch to the extent that her brothers did, but she knew enough about broomsticks to be interested in the conversation.
"I'm telling you, there's no better broom out there for a Keeper. I just wouldn't trust it as a Seeker's broom. The brakes are lousy compared to the earlier models," George said for the umpteenth time that day.
"Have you bloody lost it?" Ron asked. "You don't need that kind of acceleration for the Keeping position. You DO need it as a Seeker."
"I haven't got a chance to see it yet," Harry said seriously.
"Ah, you're missing out," George said. "The prettiest broom I've ever seen. It's got a nice mahogany finish, but it comes in some others too. Awesome speed, but the brakes are just terrible. It takes .05 seconds for it to come to a complete stop."
"What do you think, Gin?" Fred asked seriously. George raised his eyebrows at Fred, but he appeared interested.
"I think," she took a deep breath, "that you need to pass me the mashed potatoes." Everyone at the table roared and she noticed that Harry's eyes twinkled with amusement.
Fred finally did pass her the potatoes.
The day passed by quickly. Ginny found herself playing Quidditch with the boys in the backyard, and then running in to help her mother with dinner. There was nothing new to report about the Ministry, and Percy seemed unusual cheerful.
"Well, Gin, I was finally able to stop running around and get some REAL work done," he said importantly. Ron and Harry snorted into their soup.
After three rounds of wizard's chess, Ginny announced she was going to bed.
"Come on, Gin. He's no fun to play without you telling him what to do!" Harry and Ginny exchanged a look. Ron was an excellent chess player, and Harry was mediocre. Ginny could tip the scale either way. She just smiled and waved her hand a little bit.
"Honestly, I'm just too tired to of much help to anyone," she said and yawned. In the back of her mind she couldn't believe she was turning down the chance to stay up late with Harry Potter, but she knew it was a good thing, because when she hit the pillow, she was out like a light within seconds.
Ginny woke suddenly from her dreams, more frightened than usual. There was a slow creak as her door opened. She was about to scream again when she recognized the pair of haunting green eyes that pierced the night.
"James?" No. That was silly. James had brown eyes. "Harry!" For a second she had been Lily Potter, in love with James, but terrified of having him in her room. Then in a flash she was back to being Ginny Weasley, in love with Harry.
"Ginny? What's going on?" Sweat trickled down her face and her eyes were wild.
"Harry! I'm sorry! I'm-I'm…" she threw her head in her hands. Harry stood in shock, unsure of where or what to do. He stuffed his hands in his pajama pockets and leaned on the doorway, looking at her from a distance.
"What's wrong, Gin?" She sniffed, and he took a few steps forward. He blushed hotly, though, when he realized that he was actually in her room. There wasn't much to see, as it was nighttime, but still, Ron would kill him if ever found out.
"I don't know if I can tell you." Harry shook his head.
"You can tell me anything that you could tell any of your brothers," she felt a hot flash at the words that implied he saw himself as her brother, but she decided she needed to tell him anyway.
"You'll blame yourself and it's not your fault!" Her eyes traced the tiny scars he still had on his face from the Triwizard Tournament and last year's confrontation.
"Please? It helps if you talk about it. I couldn't sleep tonight, either, you know." She thought quickly, not wanting to give away her secrets. Harry Potter was in her room!
"I'm having these dreams, and they're horrible! I'm back in the Chamber, you know…" Harry's fists clenched so hard they turned white. "No! It's not your fault! None of it was your fault," Ginny insisted. "You saved my life! I never got a chance to thank you, you know. I am grateful." Harry's eyes twinkled.
"I know, Gin." Then he smiled so tenderly her heart broke in two. This was the most they had ever talked, and she couldn't help but wonder if he ever smiled at Hermione that way. Maybe it was just a smile he gave his friends all the time… but she shook her head, determined to get through this without embarrassing herself.
"I see Tom's face, leering at me and then it all changes. I'm not sure I can tell you this, Harry…" Absently he picked up her hand and stroked it. Small sparks of electricity passed through her skin.
"You don't have to tell me everything, but maybe you should tell someone." She nodded weakly.
"Thanks for saving me. Why-I mean.."
"I heard you screaming my dad's name," here he grinned but it didn't reach his eyes, "My scar hurt but somehow being with someone makes it much easier to deal with." All the time he'd been removing himself from her and he stood up. Walking to the door, he started out but then turned around. "Try to get some sleep Ginny. G'night."
The Weasley breakfast seemed louder than usual, even to Ginny, who was accustomed to them. She rubbed her eyes and stumbled down the stairs. When she reached the bottom step and looked around the rail, four strong arms grabbed her and placed her lightly on the ground. Then two pairs of lips gave her a kiss on either cheek.
"'Lo, Little One!"
"Bill! Charlie!" She jumped up to hug Bill first, fingering his new earring and then kissing him on the right cheek.
"What am I, dragon meat?" Charlie asked.
"Oh you," Immediately Charlie had an armful of Ginny, who promptly kissed both of his cheeks. Charlie winked at Bill, who scowled. The running joke between them was that Ginny loved one of them more than the other, and they were forever trying to figure out who it was.
Arms around each on each other, they all walked to the kitchen, Ginny demanding to know why they were in England.
"You could have TOLD me you were coming!"
"Well, to be honest with you, we just didn't know for sure," Charlie started.
"We didn't want to get you all excited for something that might not happen. It's not every day you get to see your favorite brother Bill."
"What are you talking about man? I'm her favorite brother!" Charlie was truly insulted. Or at least he was acting like it. Ginny watched in amusement as they duked it out.
"Well, at least I have the good sense to stay away from dragons!"
"Sand wraiths aren't any better, dear brother o' mine!"
"Yes, well, it takes intelligence to fight those. All you have to do to Keep dragons is be able to fly!"
"Yes huh!" The argument ended with them both sticking their tongues out at each other.
"You didn't ever grow up, did you?"
"Of course not," Bill said.
"Growing up is no fun. You should try it some day. Trust me, you'll only do it once." Charlie was grinning like a Chesire cat.
"Giving dear old Ginny a bit of brotherly advice, then?" Down the stairs trooped the twins, decked out in the most amazing wizarding robes Ginny had ever seen. Fred, of course, had made the comment.
"That's what we're here for, old boy. You've done your part to ensure we all grew up safe…"
"Responsible…." Ginny laughed.
"I love you all very dearly," she started, "but I wouldn't exactly describe you as responsible."
"Insane, there's a good word," Bill said.
"Completely off your rockers," Charlie suggested.
"How ‘bout nutters?" Ron asked, keen on getting in on this conversation.
"The phrase ‘mental institution' does come to mind," Percy said as he came down the stairs after them.
"I don't suppose you're interested in buying anything today, then?" Fred asked.
"I intend on buying out the store," Harry remarked as he came down the stairs.
"Come now, surely family gets the first go at it. While you certainly are a Weasley at heart Harry, I'm afraid that technically…" Charlie's voice trailed off. "Besides I really want some of those Canary Creams. I know just the girl who would fall for that sort of thing."
"Well now, that's a sure fire way to charm her into your bed," Percy said sarcastically. Everyone was honestly quite surprised.
"I do believe Percy made a joke!" Fred's face was elated.
"I had lost all hope," George sobbed.
"Oh, you're all melodramatic!" Ginny exclaimed, but she laughing to hard to care.
"Us?" George held his hand over his heart. "Did you hear what she called us?"
"Truly I am insulted. I've never…this is too much." Fred fanned himself with his hand. "Oh, I must find a place to sit down," he said in a fake American Southern accent.
"Good grief," Ginny murmured.
"What have you been cooking up?" Harry asked to change the subject. He was getting a little bit overwhelmed.
"Edible Exploding Snap…er…sort of." Fred said.
"The problem is it explodes once it's inside of you, instead of before hand…" George started.
"The game is supposed to be that you have to eat it before it explodes. Well, it's not much fun when it does explode…inside your stomach."
"Poor Errol." Fred said.
"Poor Errol," George echoed.
"What happened to him?" Ginny asked in a panic.
"It's okay really," George said.
"He just lost a few feathers."
"And a stomach…"
"It's a good thing owls have two of those," Bill said, catching on to the game.
"You know, I read somewhere that they die if they lose one," Charlie remarked casually.
"Really is a shame," Ron jumped in, "heaven only knows how long he's been with the family. Mum and Dad must have used him to exchange love letters." There was a universal ‘Ahhhhhh'.
"You're just playing with me!" Ginny yelled.
"Calm down, Gin. One of these days you'll beat the twins at they're own game," Charlie said.
"Don't give her any ideas!" Fred was horrified.
"No kidding. She's a bloody genius with Charms. She could…." Suddenly George's eyes got a mischievous glint in them. "She could Charm our Snaps not to explode to late…"
"I'll bet she's known how to do it the whole time."
"That's not fair!"
"Au contaire," Charlie said, "She beat you at your own game."