A/N: My dear friends Galen2112, BryonyRaven, Sherylyn, and
Minerva Weapotternger helped me immensely with this story. It was
originally written for the Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley Ficafest on
LiveJournal and was published there in two parts.
Harry checked his list for the umpteenth time, running his fingers distractedly through his hair. Do I really want to do this? he asked himself again. As always, the answer was the same: Yes. I want this so badly I can taste it.
had been nearly two years since Voldemort's defeat, and Ginny had
insisted the whole time that they keep their relationship a secret, for
his sake. But Harry didn't want it to be a secret anymore. He wanted
everyone to know that Ginny Weasley was his, and he was hers. This
seemed to be the best way to do it.
But what if she said no?
you a Gryffindor or not?" he asked himself aloud. Folding the paper
into neat quarters, he stuck it in the pocket of his robes and
Apparated into Diagon Alley.
going on worth reporting," Marietta Edgecombe moaned to her
photographer, Terry Boot. They were sitting at Florean Fortescue's
whilst Marietta destroyed her most recent diet in a cup of Chocolate
Frog Swirl. Being a cub reporter at The Daily Prophet had its
ups and downs. Well, mostly downs, it seemed recently. Marietta had
been told by her editor, "Reporters are dependent on scoop. Go out and
find us some scoop." He hadn't added "and do it quickly, because it's
your job on the line, Missy," but he hadn't had to; Marietta was quite
adept at reading between the lines, thank you.
to be something," Terry protested. He sat with his feet propped on one
chair, slouched down in the other, leaning back in the warm sunshine
with his camera around his neck. "What about Weasley's Wizarding
Wheezes? They're always good for a laugh."
Marietta said, her head resting on her fist dejectedly. "Everyone's
written about what wonderful shopkeepers they are, and how they donate
so much of their profits to War Survivors foundations, and how they've
made such a killing although they're so young. Bloody prats," she added
"Hey, just because you ratted out the DA--" Terry interjected.
you get on me about THAT again!" Marietta said in a voice verging on
hysteria, throwing her spoon down and pointing at Terry. "My parents
all but forced me as you know, and nothing came of it anyway because my memory was modified as you know, and--"
Terry held up his hands. "Calm down, Marietta. I was only joking."
wasn't funny." Her mercurial mood went from furious to hopeless in a
heartbeat, and she buried her face in her hands. "Oh, Terry--this is
all I've ever wanted to do, write for the Prophet. What if I can't make this work? What if I'm fired because I'm such a louse at finding leads? I don't know what I'd do--"
Terry sat up abruptly, interrupting her, and she looked up. He was
staring across the street. "Isn't that Harry Potter?"
She sat up as well, peering in the direction Terry was looking in. "It
is, isn't it? I wonder what he's doing in Diagon Alley?"
Terry gave a smirk. "Only one way to find out, isn't there?"
Their eyes met for a moment, then as one they rose and hurried off in the wake of the Boy Who Lived.
First stop: flowers.
stepped into "The Petaler's Wagon," a florist's shop between Gringott's
and Madam Malkin's. A bell rang as he pushed the door open, and he had
to pause for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the dimness.
plump, motherly sort of woman, who reminded him rather strongly of
Molly Weasley, bustled up to him. "Good day to you, young man," she
said breezily. "May I help you?"
"Er--yeah." Gryffindor, Potter. Remember?
"I'd like to order some flowers for my fiancée," he said, then winced.
"I mean, my girlfriend. I mean, I hope she'll be my fiancée, but she
"I quite understand," the saleswoman said
sympathetically. "So you're going to propose to her, and you'd like
flowers?" He nodded, grateful that he didn't have to explain it. "Very
well. Is she Muggle-born?"
"No, she's from a wizarding family."
Sometimes Muggle-born ladies get a little--confused--by some of our
selection, but if she was born into a wizarding family, she'll be quite
used to them." She pointed to a bouquet of red flowers. "How about
tulips? They're especially suitable for proposals." She stroked one,
and it turned and kissed her hand with--he blinked--its two lips.
"They're really quite affectionate, and they last more than a week even
as cut flowers."
"Er--" he said again.
"Or perhaps, if she's a good-natured girl, some daffy dills?"
"Daffodils?" he repeated, not certain he'd heard her correctly.
"No, dear. Daffy dills." She brought out a vase of yellow flowers that were leaning on each other, giggling madly.
stared. "I, er... don't think those will quite work," he said. Magical
flowers were a lot more confusing than he'd thought they'd be. "What
about these?" He reached over toward a bouquet of flowers on the
Her eyes widened. "No, dear don't tou--"
"OUCH!" He pulled his hand back, shaking it. "It bit me!"
course it did, dear, it's a snapdragon. Must be careful around those.
If they don't know you, they can be rather surly. Like these." She
brushed a hand over purple flowers that grew clumped on a long stem,
and immediately they started chirping madly. "Larkspur. Quite lovely
round the house, but--"
"But if you don't know them, they can be surly as well?" Harry guessed.
"Yes. Their spurs are usually hidden, though."
shook his head. "I really don't want any kind of flower that's going to
bite, sting, puncture, or otherwise harm the woman I'm trying to
convince to be my wife," he said dryly. "Anything else? Preferably
something that just looks and smells pretty, and isn't noisy or
She thought for a moment. "How about these?" she
said at last, and drew forth a bowl of lovely pale lilac flowers with
darker striations through the petals. "Amaryllis," she said. "Perhaps
joined with some Lily of the Valley?" She brought out a vase of tiny,
delicate, bell-shaped white flowers that appeared to drip down from a
thin stem. They exuded a lovely fragrance.
Harry breathed in
the scents. "Yes," he said softly. "Yes, those are perfect. A dozen of
each, and would you deliver them tomorrow at noon to this address,
please?" He held out a scrap of parchment that read, "Ginny Weasley,
The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole, Devonshire."
"Certainly." She rang up the purchase. "That'll be thirteen Galleons, seven Sickles, nine Knuts, please."
He handed over fourteen Galleons and received his change. "Thank you very much," he said.
"Would you like to enclose a card?"
He smiled. "No, thank you. I'll be telling her what I need to tell her in person."
The clerk smiled mistily as he turned and left the shop.
"What can you see?" Marietta hissed in Terry's ear.
much. Oooh, looks like he just got bit by something. They're talking...
she's bringing out more flowers... he's handing her a..." Terry trailed
off, jaw dropping.
"What?" Marietta asked excitedly. "What?"
"He's handing her a scrap of parchment! He must be having them delivered!"
eyes met again. "But who would he be buying flowers for?" Marietta
asked, confused. "He hasn't been seeing anyone since he left Hogwarts
two years ago. We would have known." We, of course, being the
media in general. One of the quirks of being the Boy Who Lived was
having everyone in the country interested in his love life.
"Perhaps he's been seeing someone on the sly," Terry offered.
"Yes, but who?"
Terry grinned. "Only one way to find out, isn't there?" he repeated.
Scoop. The ultimate scoop: Harry Potter's Secret Love!
"Yes," Marietta said. "Quick, get out of the way so he doesn't see us. And for Merlin's sake, don't be seen when we follow him!"
Next stop: chocolates.
came out of The Petaler's Wagon feeling accomplished, and turned right,
heading past Gringott's and the entrance to Knockturn Alley. The
chocolatier's was a few doors down, across from the Magical Menagerie,
and as he turned in, his mouth began watering at the savoury aromas
that surrounded him.
Oh, this place would get me out of
training quicker than I could say 'Golden Snitch'. And it would be
worth every second of extra workout time, too.
been denied sweets for most of the time while he was growing up, Harry
had developed quite a sweet tooth. Well, not just a sweet tooth--a
craving for chocolate that was matched only by his girlfriend's. He
usually managed to keep the craving under control, but for this one
time, he reckoned it was all right just to let go.
Besides, it's for Ginny, he reasoned.
The wizard behind the counter smiled at him, wiping his hands with a towel. "Afternoon, sir! How might I be of assistance?"
need a pound of your best dark chocolate truffles sent to this address,
please." He handed over another parchment with the same address. "Can
it be delivered tomorrow, round about noon?"
Certainly, sir. Our post owls usually go out around eleven, and it
shouldn't take more than an hour to get to Devonshire from here." The
wizard reached beneath the counter and brought up a sample platter of
truffles. "These here," he pointed off to the side, "are the dark
chocolate. Care to try one, sir?"
Harry wavered. I shouldn't... I really shouldn't...
But what's one truffle?
reached out and took one, biting into it slowly. The rich, creamy,
slightly bitter chocolateyness spread over his tongue, and his knees
nearly went weak. It's almost orgasmic, this chocolate, he thought dreamily. Perhaps
I should just buy two more pounds and give them to Ginny... then when
she was in no state to disagree on anything, spring the question on her.
opened his eyes to see a satisfied smirk on the chocolatier's face. "No
more," he said hoarsely, "or I'll be going to Madam Malkin's to let my
own robes out, not just to buy new ones!" They both laughed, and Harry
paid happily for his purchase, then walked out.
Halfway done. I'll stop by Madam Malkin's on the way back to the Apparition point at the Leaky Cauldron. Next stop... He swallowed. The ring.
"What's he doing?"
"Eating chocolate," Terry said repressively. "Which is hardly unusual in a chocolatier's--"
"I know!" Marietta snapped. "Is he doing anything else, though?"
"He's--wait, he did pass a piece of parchment to the owner."
Marietta felt her heart pounding. "Flowers and chocolates! Oh, this is the scoop of the century, Terry! Harry
Potter, the famous Boy Who Lived, has apparently been living a secret
life for the past two years. This reporter has discovered a clandestine
affair between Potter and--" She stopped.
"And whom? That's the kicker," Terry said softly.
"I know, I know. Quick! He's coming out!"
pretended to be window-shopping next door as Harry came out of the
chocolatier's, turned left, and headed down toward Ollivander's.
Marietta frowned. "What's down there that he'd be looking for? Flowers, chocolates--"
It hit them both at the same time. "Chrystalis!" they exclaimed, and hurried off after Harry to see if he was going where they suspected.
The sign above the shop said Chrystalis Goldsmiths: Makers of Fine Jewellery since 1066.
Well, Harry thought, his heart thumping wildly in his chest, they must be good if even the Conqueror let them stay in business.
He took a deep breath. Of all his preparations, this one was the most
nerve-wracking. He knew she'd love the chocolates; he was fairly
certain she'd love the flowers. But this....
She'll have this for the rest of her life. I hope.
pulled a miracle out of the hat for her once before, Potter," he
muttered under his breath, and, with a last gathering of his courage,
It was dim and quiet inside the shop, which
was carpeted in rich burgundy velvet and lit by burgundy candles that
floated about the room, just above head-height. Glass jewel cases were
set up along three sides of the room, with just enough space behind
them for a clerk to walk. At the back of the shop a tall,
distinguished-looking wizard waited, wearing black robes and a
primly-situated pointed hat. His face was clean-shaven, the hair that
escaped the hat was steel gray, and his eyes bored into Harry even from
ten yards away.
Harry swallowed and forced himself toward the man. "H-hello," he said cautiously. "I'm looking for an--engagement ring."
see," the wizard said in a sepulchral voice that made Harry jump and
stop where he was, only about halfway across the shop. "Diamond, or
some other stone?"
"Er-" Harry hadn't really thought about it. "Diamond, I suppose."
would be diamond," the wizard sighed. "Young witches nowadays are
losing sight of the old traditions and latching onto these newfangled
Muggle fashions. Before long we won't see any true Wizarding weddings;
they'll all be wearing Muggle dresses that make them look like a dollop
of whipped cream on top of a sundae. Dreadful."
Traditional? "Er--I'm sorry--but what do you mean, traditional rings?" Harry asked hesitantly.
"You mean you don't know?" The old man seemed scandalized.
"I was raised by Muggles," Harry explained, feeling a tad defensive. "There's a lot about wizarding traditions I don't know."
"Hmph." The old wizard glared at him. "Well, come closer, young man. I don't mean to yell across my own shop."
Harry edged closer until he stood across the glass case from the man, who hmphed again and leaned forward. "Wizards, young man, began
the tradition of giving rings to their intended, but it wasn't just any
type of ring--it was a talisman, a protection for their intended bride
to keep her safe from hexes by any other wizards or witches who might
wish the pairing ill. That's why a ring to begin with; circles have great protective power. No beginning, no end, you see."
Harry did see. He nodded. "So what type of ring would they give?" he asked.
The wizard raised his eyebrows. "Can you think of no stone that exemplifies protection, young man?"
Harry thought for a long moment. Diamond? No. Ssapphire? Not particularly. Emerald? No. Amethyst, ruby, garnet, topaz...
Then he nearly smacked himself in the head, for the answer should have been obvious from the beginning. "Pearl," he said.
good!" the old wizard applauded. "Created by an oyster as protection
for itself from the irritation of the grain of sand in its sensitive
flesh. Created by the continued application of layers of nacre to the
offending object. Layers, young man, that's the important part.
Protection should be layered, whether it's protection from the
elements, i.e. clothes, or protection from offensive magics."
Harry nodded, fascinated despite himself. "So young wizards would give pearl rings to their brides when they were engaged?"
pearls in white gold or silver. White, as you know, is the colour that
reflects light--just as it reflects magic. Another layer of protection,
the colour. I wonder whether the Muggles know that, with their white
wedding gowns," he added reflectively. "Perhaps they have more
intelligence than I've previously given them credit for."
Harry had made up his mind. "Sir... I've decided I want a pearl ring instead of a diamond one."
broad smile spread across the old wizard's face. "Excellent, my boy.
Excellent. I have one here that I think would suit your lady to a tee."
He reached beneath the counter and brought out a velvet-covered box
very like the ones that Muggle jewellery shops used. Inside was a
lovely ring of a silver-coloured metal, with a perfectly spherical,
perfectly white pearl in its center. To either side of the pearl, the
metal had been twisted and braided into an open, lacy knotwork pattern.
It was lovely.
Harry took the box reverently and examined
the ring. "It's white gold, and the knotwork is yet another layer of
protection," the elderly man explained. "It's hard for a spell to find
its intended target when the knotwork confuses it. That's why the
ancient Celts used the design so much, you see."
Harry nodded, spellbound. This ring screamed Ginny as nothing else he'd ever seen. "I think this is it," he said quietly. "I think this is the proper ring for her."
"Don't you want to look at any others?"
Harry shook his head, eyes still glued to the ring. "No," he said. "No, I think this is the one."
older man smiled. "It's yours, then." He brought out a quill and a
piece of parchment, and set the quill upright on the parchment. It
immediately began to scribble figures. "That'll be.... seventy
Galleons, fourteen Sickles, nine Knuts," he said at last, once the
quill had stopped.
Harry set the ring box down somewhat
reluctantly and dug out his money pouch. He handed over the money,
grateful that he'd stopped by Gringott's that morning, and replaced the
much lighter pouch in the pocket of his robes.
man picked up the ring box, snapped it closed, and placed it into a
small box. A wave of his wand, and a gold cord wrapped itself round the
box and tied itself into a complicated knot atop it. "Here you are," he
said, handing the box to Harry. "I'm sure Ginevra will adore it. Good
luck, Mr Potter."
"Thanks." Harry pocketed the ring and headed for the door, his heart much lighter as well. Flowers,
check... chocolates, check... ring, check... now I just need to stop by
Madam Malkin's to pick up some new robes for tomorrow, and--
man's last comment suddenly penetrated his fog, and he stopped dead and
swung back round to face the elderly wizard. "How did you know my
name?" he asked in a quiet, deadly voice. "And Ginny's?" His hand crept
toward the pocket where he kept his wand. If the ring had a spell on
it-if the wizard was a Death Eater intent on hurting Harry or Ginny--
wizard smiled even more broadly and swept his great pointed hat off his
head. "Allow me to introduce myself, Mr Potter," he said. "Aberforth
Dumbledore, at your service." He bowed with a flourish. "My brother has
told me a great deal about you, and your lady, of course."
stared for a long moment, then laughed. "A pleasure to meet you,
Aberforth," he said genially, and slipped back out into Diagon Alley.
Well, that'll teach me not to ask people's names!
"Flowers, chocolate, and jewellery!" Marietta squealed as Terry peeked in the window. "This couldn't be better."
"Unless we actually knew who the lucky lady was," Terry reminded her.
that was true. But.... An idea began to form in Marietta's mind. "Keep
tailing Potter," she instructed. "I'll be right back." And she ducked
back up the Alley toward the chocolatier's, leaving Terry frowning at
her back in confusion.
The chocolatier was pleased to see her. "Good day, Miss," he said pleasantly. "How may I help you?"
dimpled for him. "I'm just looking for the moment. Please, go back to
whatever you were doing; I'll be a moment or two." She smiled
winningly. "Everything looks so wonderful!"
smiled back at her and turned back round, monitoring the great cauldron
of chocolate that was being stirred by a magical wooden paddle.
Marietta quickly and quietly leaned over the counter, looking for a
parchment with an address on it. Surely there couldn't be more than one!
Assuming, of course, that it was an address Potter gave him. Oh, bother. If only I knew more for certain!
one eye on the chocolatier as he checked the consistency of his current
batch, she carefully lifted the corners of a stack of parchment,
glancing quickly at the writing on each.
receipt... receipt... note for his wife... recipe, it looks like...
shopping list? Interesting... Damn. What did Potter give him?
Wait... what's this? Devonshire?
chocolatier shifted, and Marietta stepped back just in time to keep him
from noticing what she'd been doing. "I'll just step into the back for
a moment, Miss," he said. "I won't be long."
ahead," she said as though she hadn't a care in the world. "I'll be a
moment or two more, and by the time you get back, I'll have found what
I'm looking for."
He disappeared, and she tugged the piece
of parchment free, perusing it quickly. It was all she could do not to
squeal with glee. Ginny Weasley! I should have known!
the time the wizard returned, the parchment was back where she'd found
it, and she was ready to order a half-pound of Belgian chocolate. She
thought she'd earned it.
Ginny Weasley paced the floor of The Burrow's sitting room the next day, fuming.
How could he do this to me? she thought angrily. Without ever consulting me! Putting an article in The Daily Prophet, of all things! I know he didn't want to hide our relationship anymore, but this!
had come by the night before with a note from Harry: "I'll be over
round noon tomorrow. I've a surprise for you that I think you'll love."
She'd been in a state of nervous excitement after that, wondering what
on earth he would be giving her.
Until the newspaper had come that morning.
Now she was waiting for him to arrive for an entirely different reason.
The familiar pop
of Apparition sounded from the kitchen, and she whirled as Harry walked
in, all smiles. "Ginny, love," he said by way of greeting, and held out
his arms as though to embrace her.
She stepped away. "Don't you 'Ginny, love' me, Harry James Potter," she spat.
He stopped where he was, obviously confused. His hands fell limply to his sides. "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" she repeated incredulously, her anger only increasing. "How can you even ask me that?"
"I--" he said, clearly at a loss.
"How you could do
this to me in the first place is beyond me!" She turned and began
pacing again. "But then, to pretend you don't even know why I'm
"I--thought you'd like it," he said awkwardly. If she were less angry, the expression in his eyes might have broken her heart.
"Like it?" She whirled to face him again, fists on hips. "Like being made a fool of? Like having the whole world know our business?"
"Ginny, please--" Harry stuttered. "I'm sorry, I--I had no idea you'd react this way--"
"You had no idea? You've known me for eight years, dated me for two, and you had no idea I'd react this way?"
A small vase on the mantelpiece shattered, and Harry flinched. Ginny felt a surge of satisfaction when she saw it.
know you wanted to bring our relationship out into the open, Harry,"
she continued, "but this was not the way to do it!" She began pacing
again, her whole body tense with fury. "I thought I knew you better
than this, Harry. I never, never would have thought you'd do something this--this--this--STUPID!"
Harry had shoved his hands in his pockets and was looking at the floor, his face a bright crimson. He looked miserable.
Good. He should!
"I'm... I'm really, really sorry, Gin," he said awkwardly. "I truly had no idea you'd be so upset. I'll--I'll just go, shall I?"
stopped and swung to face him again. She was shaking with her
anger--not least because he was pretending that he hadn't done anything
to be angry about! "Yes, Harry," she said coldly. "I think you should."
swallowed and turned to leave, then hesitated. He pulled a small,
square box tied with a gold cord out of his pocket and set it down on
the table. "In case you change your mind," he said quietly, and walked
into the kitchen. There was a pop, and he was gone.
Ginny threw herself down on the sofa, fuming. How
in the bloody blue blazes could he even begin to consider that I might
like having the entire wizarding world interested in our relationship? she thought furiously. I can't believe I didn't know him any better than that. Or that he didn't know me any better than that--which is more to the point.
unfamiliar owl swooped in through the open kitchen window and dropped a
flat, rectangular package into her lap before winging back out. She
blinked and looked at the address on the outside of the parcel: Ginny Weasley, The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devonshire.
What on earth could this be?
ripped open the brown paper covering the parcel and gasped. Inside were
a pound of her favourite dark chocolate truffles from the chocolatier
in Diagon Alley. Frowning in confusion, she looked for a note or a
card, but there was none.
Who could have sent these?
owl came flying in and dropped yet another parcel beside her before
leaving again. This one was also rectangular, but it was long and
narrow and about eight inches high. It bore the same address in the
same words, but written in a different hand. Curious now, she tore open
the paper and gasped in astonishment as she lifted the flowers out of
their box. They were magical, of course, so when she awakened them,
they yawned and stretched before opening up to their full bloom.
Chocolates... flowers... It has to have been Harry.
What was he thinking?
a vase from the kitchen (larger than the one she'd unwittingly broken
earlier), she placed the flowers in it, set the vase down on the table,
and walked with some trepidation to the box that Harry had left. She
was beginning to get an odd feeling in her stomach.
What if Harry wasn't behind the story in the Prophet? What if someone wrote it without his knowledge? What if he still doesn't know it was even published?
she pulled the bow loose, tossed the cord aside, and opened the box.
Inside was another box, hinged and velvet-covered. She set the outer
box down and opened the inner, and felt tears spring to her eyes.
A ring... a pearl ring... a pearl engagement ring....
Harry was going to ask me to marry him....
He was going to ASK ME TO MARRY HIM....
And I just chased him away....
Her knees gave out and she sat down hard on the chair beside her. What have I done? she thought, staring at the ring with her heart in her throat. Oh, Harry... I'm so sorry....
a fool," she whispered aloud. "A complete fool." He wouldn't want to
see her now. Not after she'd kicked him out like that. Not after she'd
reamed him up one side and down the other, and never let him get a word
in edgewise. Two tears spilled over and ran down her cheeks as she
stared at the ring box in her hands.
hand touching her shoulder made her jump and whirl. It was her mother,
Molly, looking down at her with concern. "Ginny, dear?" she asked
quietly. "What's the matter?"
Ginny stared for a moment, then leaned over and wrapped her arms round her mother's waist. "Oh, Mum!" she wailed, burying her face in her mum's robes. "I'm such a bloody idiot!"
there, sweetheart," Molly said sympathetically, stroking her hair. "It
can't be all that bad. Why don't you tell me about it?" Ginny heard her
mum mutter an incantation, and the chair became a loveseat. She sat
down next to Ginny, wiping the tears from her face. "Go on, then.
Ginny gulped and looked down at the box in her hands. "D-did you see The Daily Prophet today, Mum?" she asked.
"I've not had time to read the paper yet, I'm afraid, darling. Was there something troubling in it?"
nodded. "There was an article in there about how H-Harry and I had
b-been together for years and he'd kept it a secret but now the whole
w-world knows about it...."
"Oh, that's nothing to be upset about, dear," Molly said reassuringly. "It was bound to come out some time."
not it!" Ginny wailed in frustration. "I t-thought Harry had done it on
purpose, because he wanted to t-tell everyone about us and I didn't
yet, and so when he c-came over I accused him of all sorts of things
and made him leave, but then the flowers and the chocolates came and he
left this with me and Mum, I think he was going to propose to me and I didn't know it and now he hates me and I've ruined everything!" She burst into sobs again.
mum just held her, letting her cry herself out. When at last her sobs
had turned to sniffles, Molly handed her a handkerchief and let her
wipe her face and blow her nose. "Now, then," she said quietly. "Let's
take a look at this situation, shall we?"
Ginny nodded miserably.
"You thought Harry had commissioned the article for the Prophet?"
She nodded again.
"And when he came in, you accused him of it? What did he say?"
blew her nose again. "I didn't actually... accuse him," she said
slowly. "I asked him why he'd done it and how he could do such a thing
to me, but I never actually told him what I was mad about." She
stopped. "I was pretty awful to him, Mum. I think he thought I meant
"But what did he say, dear?"
said he had no idea I'd react so badly. And of course he wouldn't, Mum,
because we were talking about two different things and I never bothered
to actually ask him before I laid into him." The tears started to fall again.
"Now, now. No recriminations, Ginny. We're trying to get to the bottom of this. When he left, what did he say?"
gulped. "H-he said he guessed he'd better leave, and I said yes, you
should, and he left the ring box on the table and left. And then the
flowers and the chocolates came, and I realised what he'd meant." Idiot, idiot, I'm such an idiot...
"Did he say anything else before he left?" Molly pressed. "Think, Ginny. When he left the ring box, did he say anything?"
sniffled and tried to remember. "He said... he said..." She shut her
eyes, trying to picture the scene though it made her heart twist. "He
said... 'In case you change your mind.'" Her eyes flew open and she
turned to her mother. "Mum! Does that mean--"
smiling. "You'd have to ask him, dear, but I think it likely does." She
kissed Ginny on the forehead. "Wash your face, comb your hair, change
your clothes, and go see him. Explain the mix-up. If he loves you the
way I'm certain he does, he'll forgive you."
Hope had begun
to perch in her soul, and she clung to it with all her might. "Thank
you, Mum," she whispered, and pushed herself off the loveseat to run
Please don't have given up, Harry. Please....
Apparated into his flat and flung himself down in his favourite
overstuffed chair, resting his head in his hands. He'd never expected
it to turn out this way.
Who did you think you were fooling, though, Potter? he told himself savagely. She
might have been willing to spend time with you... go to dinner, watch
the stars, even sleep with you. But did you really think that you're
the type of bloke someone like Ginny Weasley ends up marrying?
Tears threatened. He pushed them away. I hope she likes the chocolates and the flowers, at least, he thought with a trace of bitterness. Well,
if she doesn't want to see me again, so be it. I can move on. I can
find another girl. Merlin knows enough of them fling themselves at me.
With a sigh, he held out a hand and wandlessly summoned The Daily Prophet, which he hadn't read that morning; his stomach had been far too fluttery. Maybe that was a sign I should have paid attention to, he thought as he opened the paper and began to read.
found that he had to force himself to focus on the words instead of on
the image of the pair of chocolate-brown eyes that had dominated his
mind's eye for the past several years. Growling in frustration, he
worked his way through an article on the expansion of Gringott's Diagon
Alley branch, one on a raid on Borgin & Burke's which had turned up
several Dark artefacts, one on the upcoming Quidditch World Cup, which
was currently in the quarterfinal matches--Scotland was to play France
the next day--and one on the new Brightstar broom from the makers of
the old Comet Two-Sixties, which reportedly had better braking and
smoother acceleration than Firebolts.
It was no use. The
sneer on Ginny's face as she told him he should leave was stuck in his
head. He sighed and had just started to put the paper down when he
thought he saw his own name in a headline. Frowning, he picked the
paper back up and looked again. Sure enough, it was there--along with a
picture of himself and Ginny, apparently taken at the first anniversary
celebration of the end of the War, a year or so previously.
Potter & Weasley: Hidden Love in Devonshire?
by Marietta Edgecombe, Daily Prophet reporter
Potter, the famous Boy Who Lived, has spent the last two years
masquerading as the wizarding world's most eligible bachelor. But this
reporter has discovered that bachelor he may be, but Harry Potter is
not eligible at all! His heart has, in fact, been stolen away by Ginny
Weasley, daughter of Senior Secretary to the Minister Arthur Weasley
and sister of Potter's best friend, Ronald.
always wondered if there was something between the two of them at
school," said a source who wishes to remain anonymous. "They were
always together, weren't they? Some people thought it would end up
being Harry and Hermione (Granger, one of Harry Potter's best friends
at school), but I always knew Hermione would end up with Ron. But then
Harry and Ginny seemed to split up after Harry finished Hogwarts, and
never seemed to get back together."
we have been reasonably assured, was a fiction maintained by Harry
Potter and Ginny Weasley themselves. The question remains, why? Was it
to keep his beloved safe at school despite the followers of
You-Know-Who who had survived the end of the War? Was it to prevent
either of them from being mobbed? Or was it for some other reason known
only to the two of them?
the reason, if flowers and chocolates are any indication, the
relationship is alive and well. Perhaps there will be another
red-haired Potter lady in the near future?
"Bloody hellfire and damnation!" Harry swore, staring at the article. No wonder Ginny was so livid! She must have thought I'd done this!
And that made him angry as well. What have I ever done to make her think I'd sink so low? he thought sharply. That I'd "out" her without her consent?
But then he sighed and sank back into his chair. Maybe
the three months you've spent trying to convince her to go public with
your relationship? Face it, Potter, you haven't precisely been subtle
Viciously, he crumpled the newspaper into a
ball and threw it as hard as he could. It bounced off the far wall and
landed next to the small drop-leaf dining table. He leaned his head
against the back of the chair and closed his eyes.
I've buggered the whole thing up. No-the bloody Daily Prophet's buggered the whole thing up. And now... now she hates me.
sound of Apparition outside his door startled him out of his self-pity.
He sat up straight, drawing his wand carefully. His friends had all
been keyed to his wards; they would have just Apparated into the dining
room. Someone outside the door made him very nervous.
His nervousness only increased when whoever it was knocked. "Harry?" said a tentative, feminine voice. "Are you--are you there?"
Is that... Ginny?
He walked silently to the door and stood next to it, not in front of it. "Who's there?" he asked roughly.
"It's me," the voice said again. "Ginny."
was her! But he had to be certain. "What form does your Patronus take?"
he asked. Only he and the members of the Defence Association had ever
seen it; she'd never had to defend herself against a Dementor.
"An eagle owl."
Harry opened the door carefully. Ginny stood there in Muggle clothes--a
white skirt and blue top--wringing her hands nervously. They stared at
each other for a long moment before Ginny said tentatively, "Can
Harry stepped back, not sure whether to kick
himself for not inviting her in sooner or for not slamming the door in
her face. He closed the door quietly behind her instead, turning to
face her. She'd stopped at the entrance to the lounge and was looking
nervously around her.
"I--knocked because I thought--maybe--you wouldn't want to see me," she said quietly.
why would you think that, Ginny?" Harry asked more harshly than he
intended. She flinched, and this time he did kick himself internally. You don't really want to hurt her, Potter. Remember that. "Would you like to sit down?" he asked a bit more graciously.
opened her mouth, then closed it and nodded. Together they walked into
the lounge, and she perched on the edge of the sofa. He sat at the
other end, facing her, and waited.
"I... got your presents right after you left," she said very quietly. "Thank you."
looked up at him at last, and he saw that her eyes were overly bright.
"I made some assumptions today that were very wrong," she said. "I
assumed that you were responsible for the article in The Daily Prophet,
when you weren't. I assumed that you had come over trying to force me
to make our relationship public, when you hadn't. And worst of all, I
assumed you knew what I was talking about, instead of asking you what
"Yes, you did." His tone was softer this time,
but she still flinched slightly at the words. "And it hurt, Ginny. I
thought you knew what I was there for, and to be yelled at and tossed
out hurt. A lot."
She looked down again. "I know," she said. "I'm sorry, Harry. Truly, truly sorry. I won't make that mistake again."
was a pause. She continued looking at the floor, and Harry didn't quite
know what to say, so he looked at her. Despite the obvious aftereffects
of crying (though it seemed she'd tried to cover most of them), she was
as beautiful as ever. Her red hair, darkened to auburn from the tomato
red she'd sported as a child, hung in lustrous waves over her shoulder,
and her porcelain skin was as beautifully translucent as ever. She
shifted, and he could see the bottom inch or so of the scar that ran
down the outside of her right thigh--the scar she'd received during the
final battle with Voldemort. The scar she'd received when she'd saved
Say something, you prat, he thought to himself, but before he could, she spoke again.
"I know why you came by today, Harry."
He blinked. "You do?"
"I do now." She took a breath and straightened, looking at him again. "You came to propose to me, didn't you?"
He swallowed and nodded.
"What would you have done," she said carefully, "if I'd said no? More gently than I did, of course."
His heart twisted. "I guess I would have kept on as we have been," he said. "Unless you didn't want to."
"And what if I'd said yes, but I still wanted it to be secret?" Her eyes bored into his, and he felt the weight of them.
it would have been secret for however long you wanted it." He scooted
closer, then reached out and took her right hand gently. She tensed,
then let him. "Ginny, the only reason I ever wanted our relationship to
be public knowledge was so everyone knew how much you mean to me. It's
nearly killed me not to be able to openly acknowledge that we're
together." He squeezed her hand gently. "But the most important thing
in the world to me is that we are together, not what anyone
else thinks... and if you need it to be kept secret in order to be
comfortable with it, then so be it. I just want to make you happy."
great tears spilled over onto her cheeks. "Oh, Harry," she choked,
"I've been the most selfish being alive--and you're the most unselfish
person I know." She threw her arms round him, and he held onto her,
burying his face in her warm, soft hair. "I'm so sorry, Harry," she
whispered into his ear. "I'm so sorry."
"Shh. Shh. It's all
right." He leaned back and gently raised her head from his shoulder,
staring into her eyes. She sniffled. "Ginny, I have never wanted
anything more than I want this. Will you marry me?"
"Of course I will," she said, smiling through her tears. She held up her left hand. "I even came prepared."
looked blankly at the ring on her finger for a long moment, then
laughed and hugged her helplessly. She raised her head to be kissed,
and nothing more was said for a very, very long time.
Eventually, though, the question had to be asked. "Should we do anything about Marietta?" he murmured.
Ginny chuckled. "Yes, I think we should," she said. "And I know just what to do."
next morning, Marietta Edgecombe forced herself out of bed at seven
a.m., as usual. She stumbled to the kitchen, started a cup of tea
steeping, and then went into the bathroom for a shower. The reflection
that met her startled eyes in the mirror was a familiar one--it had
been real in sixth year, after the debacle with the DA, and had haunted
her nightmares ever since.