"Ginny, if you don't hold still – I'll never be able to get your hair finished"
"Mum if I sit still any longer, I'm going to explode. How can you remain so calm?"
"Because she's not the one getting married today" came a new voice entering the room.
"Hermione! We were afraid you wouldn't be able to show up." Molly Weasley gave her latest daughter-in-law a warm hug before returning to the task of arranging her daughter's hair.
"I almost didn't. Things are just so hectic right now that I'm not even sure what today is."
Ginny laughed. "It's my wedding day. Other than that, I couldn't tell you what day it is either."
"Ginny Marie Weasley – if you don't sit still I'll put you in a Full Body Bind until I finish setting your hair!"
"Yes Mum" Ginny flushed as red as her hair as she sat down. "Oh Hermione, you and Ron are so lucky. You're both already married and don't have to deal with this ever again. I think I'm going to go stark loony from all of the insanity around me."
"Don't you worry yourself one bit Ginny. In the end, it's more worth it than you can begin to imagine." A soft smile formed on her lips.
"Hermione dear, you're glowing." Molly gave her a slight nudge to break her reverie. "You're not pregnant by chance, are you?"
Ginny's shocked "MUM!!!" was echoed by Hermione's startled "Molly!"
"No I'm not Molly." Hermione couldn't believe her ears. Perhaps that's why she was laughing so much. "I guess I'm still enjoying being a newlywed. Crookshanks is another story however. Do you think you and Harry might like a kitten as a pet? I know that Harry has a dreadful fear of dogs."
"I'll ask him. You'll understand though that we both may be a bit distracted over the next several days. Remind me when we get back from our holiday in Europe and I'll give you an answer then."
With a knowing look in her eyes, Hermione nodded her assessment. "I'll do that then. Just do try not to get lost in Europe. Remember to look at the sights, not just into each others eyes."
"Oh alright. If you insist." Ginny replied with a mock sigh.
"There – I think I've got it. Give a look in the mirror and tell me what you think Ginny."
"Oh Mum – it's absolutely perfect!" Ginny turned quickly to embrace her mother.
Harry's Fifth Year Hogwarts
"Ron – DUCK!!!" Harry bellowed from his Firebolt. The Bludgers were practically on top of him. In some remote part of Harry's mind, he had to admire the tactics of the Slytherin Beaters. They had timed their shots perfectly. There was no way that Ron would be able to block the Quaffle without getting brained by the Bludgers. Ron had all his attention trained on the Quaffle and as a result, didn't realize he was in danger until the Bludgers were practically on top of him.
There was a sickening THUMP as the first Bludger took Ron in the ribs while the second one caught him high on the leg. He clutched his chest and started sliding from his broom, the force of the impact having knocked him violently backwards. Harry urged his Firebolt to move faster, but it was still too late. Ron had fallen off his broom and was headed towards the grass-covered Quidditch pitch below. Gritting his teeth, Harry lowered himself over his broom to help coax every ounce of speed from it. He heard Madam Hooch blow the whistle even as he heard the cries of horror arising from the Gryffindor stands.
Barely a hand above the pitch, Harry managed to catch up to him. Ron's momentum was too great though for Harry to stop him. He managed to slow his fall from what surely would have been a fatal impact with the ground so that instead Ron landed roughly on his back. Harry cringed inside when he heard the breath whoosh from Ron's body. In a snap, he had jumped off his broom and was at his friend's side. Hermione and Ginny joined him a second later. Harry knew that no one could Apparate within the confines of Hogwarts, but he couldn't think of any other way that the two girls could've made it there that quickly.
Madam Hooch summoned a stretcher immediately while a snickering voice called down from overhead. "What's the matter Weasel? Take a wrong step off that pathetic excuse you call a broom?"
"Sod off Malfoy" Harry muttered under his breath. Dealing with a certain Slytherin Seeker was not what he wanted to be doing right now. His only thought was getting his best mate onto the stretcher and to Madam Pomfrey as quickly as possible.
Looking up at Hermione, her face pale with fear, he said, "Don't worry Hermione. Madam Pomfrey will have him up and flying again in no time." He hoped it sounded convincing.
"Mr. Potter – there is still a match to finish." Madam Hooch reminded him gently. "You'll need a new Keeper or else you'll have to forfeit the match."
"Certainly Madam Hooch." Turning up towards the stands, he locked eyes with Dean Thomas and nodded once. Dean started heading down from the stands towards the changing room. Harry knew that he'd rather face a legion of Dementors alone than forfeit a Quidditch match to the Slytherins.
Three hours later he was in the Medical Wing along with the rest of his teammates to find out Ron's condition.
Madam Pomfrey looked over at him and shook her head. "A nasty bump on his head he took, along with the damage the two Bludgers caused. He's asleep now and I won't be letting out of my sight for a day or two. I want all of you to leave here in five minutes. This boy needs his rest if he has any chance of recovering. Honestly, it's a wonder he's not cold and dead. Horrible game that Quidditch. I don't for the life of me understand why the Headmaster allows students to play it." Her voice trailed off as she moved away from Ron's bed.
Looking over at the concerned faces of Hermione and Ginny, Harry suddenly knew what Ron had felt all those times when it was he himself lying on the bed. "'Mione, Ginny – c'mon. Let's all go get some rest before dinner. We'll come back afterwards and see if there's been any change."
Hermione's eyes locked onto his. "NO! I'm not leaving. You all just go without me." Even the twins were taken aback by her sudden intensity.
"C'mon Harry. ‘Mione, I'll bring you something back after dinner." Ginny lead them all towards the door of the Medical Wing.
"Thanks Ginny. And Harry, did we win?"
Breaking into the first smile he'd had all day, he nodded. "It took a bit of doing, plus some marvelous work on Fred & George's part to get a spot of revenge on those gits in Slytherin, but we won ‘Mione. Make sure he knows if he wakes before we get back."
When Harry, Ginny, Fred, and George returned to the Medical Wing they found Ron sitting up on a pile of pillows, his eyes still closed. Hermione had her hand in Ron's and the look on her face clearly indicated that she had no intentions of removing it anytime soon.
"How's he doing?" Ginny whispered.
"I had a pair of Bludgers pay me a visit Ginny, how do you think I'm doing?" Ron croaked, cracking open one eye to look at them when he finished speaking.
"Mate, you gave us quite the scare out there. Do me a favor and don't make a habit of that."
"Now you know how the rest of us felt Harry, whenever you managed to get yourself in here. Between you and me though, I'll leave entertaining Bludgers to Fred and George. I may be a fair Keeper, but it looks like I'm a lousy Beater."
"We've got to owl Mum and let her know you're still alive. Apparently Dad caught her halfway out the door to come here herself." Fred had a relieved smile on his face seeing his youngest brother awake again.
George grabbed his brother's free hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Any idea when you're going to be ready to test out our newest batch of Wheezes?"
With a weak laugh, Ron looked up at him. "Madam Pomfrey wants to keep me here until at least tomorrow. Depending on how quick things piece back together, I could be out of here tomorrow. Sunday at the very latest. Looks like I'm going to miss tomorrow's trip down to Hogsmeade though. I was looking forward to picking up the latest copy of Quidditch Weekly."
"We'll grab you a copy Ronniekins. Assuming we can drag ourselves out of Zonko's." Fred gave him a quick smile.
"Alright, alright. That's quite enough noise out of you all. I want all of you out of here immediately. This young man needs his rest." Madam Pomfrey came up behind them and started ushering them all to the door.
"Wait a minute – how come she gets to stay here and we've got to leave?" George pointed a finger at Hermione.
"Miss Granger has already made arrangements with me to stay here with Mr. Weasley tonight. On the condition that she's quiet, I will allow her to stay. The rest of you will get no such courtesy from me this evening. Now go." And with that, they found themselves on the other side of the Medical Wing door.
"And look where that got us Harry. All it took for 'Mione and me to realize our feelings for each other was having a couple of Bludgers introduce themselves to me you might say. I'll never forget waking up in that hospital bed and seeing her face. Her eyes were red and swollen and her cheeks were puffy from crying, but Harry – she's never looked more beautiful than she did at that moment. I knew right then, that I was going to spend the rest of my life trying to bring a smile to her face."
Laying an affectionate hand on his friend's shoulder, Harry looked over at him.
"You've certainly done that Ron. I don't know if I've ever told you this or not, but thank you for making my friend so happy."
"Make sure you make my sister just as happy and we'll call it square mate."
The Yule Ball, that same year
With a smile, Harry looked out onto the dance floor as his two best friends swept across the floor. They were oblivious to anything but each other. After Ron's injury, they had been almost inseparable. The unspoken feelings they had for each other finally coming out. That's not to say that they still didn't fight. With a laugh to himself, Harry remembered all too well how many fights the two had been in since then. Little, insignificant things were at the core of their fights – much as before. This time though, they ended up kissing and making up rather than storming off to their respective dorms.
No one seemed terribly surprised by their coupling either. The popular sentiment was that it had certainly taken them both long enough to express what everyone else had clearly seen for so long.
A hand touched his shoulder and he jumped.
"Harry! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
Turning quickly he saw that Ginny had come up behind him. She was wearing a cream colored dress that seemed to highlight the mass of flaming hair atop her head. Her hair was caught up in a particularly delicate looking arrangement, with one lock of curls dangling down her neck. Harry found himself unable to speak as she looked at him with a pair of gigantic brown eyes.
"Harry, are you OK?"
"What? Yes, I'm fine. Fine. Sorry I jumped like that Ginny. I was just watching Ron and Hermione dancing and I didn't hear you come up behind me." He replied, finally regaining his thoughts.
Ginny looked over at him with a mysterious twinkle in her eyes. "Those two do look like they don't realize they're in the middle of Hogwarts, do they?"
With a laugh, Harry found himself standing and offering his hand to Ginny. "Miss Weasley, will you me the honor of this dance?"
Later, Harry would always think back with a smile and recall how shocked Ginny had looked by that question. Her heart seemed to reflect in her eyes and a slow blush rose to her cheeks. "Mr. Potter, I'd be honored."
"Careful there Potter. I'm sure whatever is wrong with those Weasleys is contagious. We wouldn't want the ever-famous Boy Who Lived to come down with it as well." The familiar smirk of Draco Malfoy was etched on his face as he stood with his arm linked with Pansy Parkinson. "Bad enough that it looks like we're going to have a Weasley pairing up with a Mudbl—"
Malfoy never had a chance to finish his disparaging remark about Hermione as Ginny came up to him and slapped him across the face.
"How DARE you! How dare you put your hands on me!" Malfoy gasped out. If possible, he had turned even paler with anger. He raised his hand as if to strike Ginny in return.
"Draco old boy, I wouldn't even dream of that if I were you." A jovial voice cut through the sudden commotion around them. Fred and George had come up behind him and each had placed a firm hand on Malfoy's shoulders. Crabbe and Goyle had gone off to get drinks, so that left Draco to face the twins, Harry, and Ginny alone. The twins smiled at him and George held out his hand. "Toffee? It's really rather good you know."
Draco spit on the ground at Ginny's feet as he wrenched himself free of their grasp. Grabbing Pansy's arm, his glare bore into Harry's eyes. "I'd watch my step if I were you Potter. You won't always have your friends around to rescue you and your little girlfriend!" With that, he stalked off.
"One of these days, Malfoy is going to come up with a new insult and the Earth will stop spinning in shock." Harry said in a tone mixed with both disgust and resignation.
Ginny placed an arm around his waist and laid her head against his shoulder. "Don't let him get to you Harry. He's just needling you so he can provoke a reaction out of you and get you in trouble."
"Well if you two love birds will excuse us, there's a pair of deuced pretty ladies who are waiting for us to return." And with that George and Fred went back to join the table of Lee, Alicia, Angelina, and Katie.
"I believe," Harry spoke after clearing his throat, "that I had asked you for a dance before we were so rudely interrupted by that Slytherin ferret." He stepped next to her and offered her his arm.
"Indeed you had my dear Mr. Potter, indeed you had." Linking her arm in his, the two smiling teenagers began their own dance to the music, mindful to watch out for the careening antics that Fred and Angelina called dancing.
As the last notes of the night faded off into memory and the last couples began to slowly walk from the dance floor, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione made their way back towards the Gryffindor Common Room. Ron and Hermione stepped off to a quiet corner of the room to say their good-nights while Harry had walked Ginny to the base of the stairwell leading up towards the girl's dormitory.
"Thank you Harry. I had a wonderful time tonight." Ginny then surprised them both by wrapping her arms tightly around Harry.
Stunned at first, but enjoying the feeling of Ginny being next to him, Harry wrapped his arm around her in return. For reasons he'd never be able to explain, he stepped back, leaned in, and gently kissed her full on the lips. Both of them looked a bit shocked by Harry's actions, but Ginny didn't pull back any further. Her eyes grew wide with surprise, but she reached one tentative hand up to softly touch his cheek. With a final, whispered "Good night" she disappeared up the stair well.
A mystified smile on his face, Harry turned to head up to the boy's dormitory. As he glanced around the Common Room one last time, he caught sight of Ron and Hermione staring at him. Hermione's face was lit with an ecstatic smile and she beamed happily at her friend. Ron's face, however, was a conflict of emotions.
Anger, embarrassment, shock, and surprisingly - a hint of approval, ebbed and flowed across his face. Harry groaned inwardly at the thought of what his friend would say to him once they were alone. Forcing a smile to his face, he nodded to them both, and then climbed the stairs... wondering if he'd be able to walk back down them the next morning after Ron finished with him.
Lying in his bed a bit later, Harry heard Ron's footsteps coming up the stairs as well as the bolster being pulled back from Ron's bed. Preparing himself for the inevitable thrashing that was soon to befall him, Harry tensed himself slightly. The thrashing never came though. The only other sounds Harry heard were the bolster getting pulled once again at Ron's bed, then the sounds of snoring coming from Ron, mingling in with the snores from Neville across the way. Puzzled, and in no small way still worried, Harry placed his glasses on the night table next to his bed and he too fell asleep.
A/N: Thanks for the reviews everyone. I realize that this chapter is dripping fluff. Fear not, the next one will be heavy on the comedy. As always, thanks go out to Jack and Imogen for keeping me on the right path.