Disclaimer: Don’t own it, not making money from it.
A/N: Many thanks to Casey who hated the original title almost as much as I did. And thank you to Musings, my new beta, for being lovely to work with.
Harry lay on his four-poster bed trying to get comfortable, tossing and turning until – finally on his back – he pulled the pillow over his face and growled in frustration. He’d had the dream again. Not the nightmares that have plagued him for years. No, this dream was all together different. The first time it came to him was his 16th birthday, this past summer. The summer after he lost Sirius. He’d been a raw nerve at that point. He’d been angry, guilty, grieving and burdened by a prophecy. When the dream came to him the first time it had been like a cooling balm on a burn. He’d been bewildered yet he’d welcomed it, looked forward to it each night. The prophecy had remained a heavy weight on his shoulders but he’d felt centered, calm even. Lately though, the dream had started to take a new form that he was not entirely comfortable with.
He sighed, sat up and pulled the bed curtain aside to look out the window, trying to ascertain the time. The darkness that greeted him did not appear to be breaking anytime soon. He heard Ron in the next bed call out for Hermione with a laugh in his voice. Apparently she was tickling him in his dream because next heard was a plea to stop. Harry shook his head and smiled.
Seconds later he wished that he hadn’t been listening when Ron continued his late-night mutterings and decided to go down to the common room so as not to hear anything worse. He was glad that Ron and Hermione had finally confessed their feelings to one another; their constant bickering had been driving him batty, but Hermione was the closest thing Harry had to a sister and it was plain indecent to think about what he’d just heard from the other bed.
As he made his way down to the common room Harry noticed that someone had a good size fire going in the enormous hearth. He took the stairs with a little more stealth in order to determine who was down there before committing to showing himself. Sitting in one of the big comfy chairs by the fireplace was none other than the very person keeping him awake. Ginny had her legs drawn up with her arms wrapped around them, her chin resting on her knees staring at the fire.
Harry stopped, not knowing what to do. He pushed his glasses up, more out of habit or nerves than necessity. His stomach was doing the blasted flip-flopping that he’d recently started to experience around her. He watched the firelight dance on the coppery tendrils of her hair. It was loose and flowing down her back and around her face. Get a grip Potter!! You are not pining for Ginny. She is Ron’s sister, she’s your teammate and she doesn’t even care for you anymore. Not anymore than Ron or Hermione. Anyway it’s Ginny. Ginny who is your friend, who is great at Quidditch, who is smart, brave, kind and confident, who has a spark of mischief in her warm beautiful eyes, who is lovely, who looks nothing like someone’s little sister should. Arrgghh! His internal rant failing him, he fisted his hands at his side, determined to go back upstairs as quietly as possible.
He’d just about decided to bolt when another voice joined the chorus in his head. Bloody coward. You’ve faced Voldemort how many times now and you’re afraid to talk to a 15-year-old witch?
It’s not just any old witch though is it? he countered. It’s Ginny. Ginny matters. Ginny understands me like no other soul on the planet. I can’t mess it up with her. What if she doesn’t feel the same?
You’ll never know until you try, the voice insisted. Anyway, she’s been responding in kind to your attempts at flirty conversation hasn’t she?
Harry reflected proudly on the series of flirtatious encounters he’d manage to have with her. He was remembering a particularly memorable moment when he heard a startled gasp. Ginny chose that moment to turn and look. She jumped putting a hand to her heart and said, “Bloody hell Harry! I nearly jumped out of my skin. You’re lucky I don’t have my wand with me.”
Great job, Potter.“Er, sorry Gin, I didn’t know anyone was down here. I’ll leave you alone.”
“No, don’t go. I wouldn’t mind some company. I was just staring at the fire.”
Harry stood rooted trying to make a decision that didn’t end with him feeling foolish. He was eyeballing one of the other chairs when Ginny smiled and patted the cushion next to her in invitation. It was a fairly large chair and even though Harry had managed to fill out some in the last few months and had a few inches in height on her, it could seat them both, though pretty snugly. She returned her gaze to the fireplace and asked, “What is it about fire that is so relaxing? I mean, the fire itself is rather violent don’t you think?”
Harry shrugged and gave himself a little pep talk as he moved to the chair. Sitting as casually as possible, he made an attempt to copy her pose but found that he couldn’t quite achieve it and it wasn’t nearly as comfortable as it looked. He settled for digging his heels into the cushion and leaning back. This afforded him the unexpected pleasure of being able to watch the firelight play in her hair.
Harry let his head rest on the back of the chair but kept his eyes on Ginny. He again thought of the summer and how it had been Ginny who was finally able to shake him out of his self-imposed isolation at Grimmauld Place. He hadn’t thought he was ready to go back there, he didn’t think he’d ever be ready to enter that house again. Having no choice in the matter hadn’t helped and he was alternately surly and distant with everyone, silencing well-meant comments with a glare or – worse yet – a bellow. One day, in an impressive imitation of her mother, Ginny had finally slapped back.
It was this unexpected action, from Ginny of all people that had basically shocked him into paying attention to her. Hand on one hip, the other pointing dangerously close to his nose, she’d read him the riot act about his behavior. She’d shouted at him that Voldemort and Bellatrix were responsible for Sirius’ death and no one else. That he, Harry, had been manipulated just as she had been by Tom Riddle’s diary. That he wasn’t the only person that felt the loss and the guilt and certainly not the one that felt it most keenly; reminding him that Remus had lost far more than Harry did when Sirius had fallen through that veil. That the people he cared most about were not in danger because of him but because of who and what they are and the beliefs they hold dear. The Muggle-born Hermione and the Muggle-loving Weasleys would have been targets with or without him. That isolating himself, being angry and feeling guilty for everything was selfish beyond measure and hurt all of the people that love him. And, finally, that not sharing his loss of Sirius, keeping his grief a tight little ball inside of him was dishonoring Sirius’ memory.
In the shell-shocked silence that had followed her tirade, Harry recovered enough to say, “Jeez, you don’t have to yell!” which caused Ginny to growl in exasperation and stalk out of the room.
It had done the trick though; she’d given him a lot to think about in those few minutes of ranting. He’d stopped lashing out at everyone and started observing. Whilst not actively participating he’d looked closely at his friends, his family really. He’d seen the worry line that had etched itself between Mrs. Weasley’s caring eyes. He’d noticed that Remus looked tired and somehow smaller, shabbier and older than before. He’d watched as Hermione slowly lost that pinched, exhausted look she’d carried since being hit with Dolohov’s wonky curse. He’d looked Ron and realized his best mate had somehow become a broad-shouldered, confident man with scars of his own while Harry had been indulging in his pity party. He’d watched a romance finally bloom. And he’d seen Ginny.
Even though she had been visiting him in his dreams, laughing as they were floating in a cool pond on a warm summer day, even though this dream had been so soothing, he hadn’t really looked at her. Or rather, he hadn’t really seen her. She was beautiful, long and athletic. She had Ron’s sarcastic wit, a sense of mischief and fun like the twins, the nurturing spirit of her mother, the kindness and curiosity of her father and the strong will shared by all the Weasleys. She was perfect. After her tirade, she’d switched gears and continued to draw him out in a soothing and friendly manner. Letting him grieve, not letting him wallow. She’d seemed to know instinctively when he needed someone to listen, someone to talk or someone to just be there in silence. He wouldn’t have made it with even a shred of sanity without her.
Ginny sighed, which brought Harry out of his reverie. Without thinking about it first, he reached out to touch the hair that had been enchanting him. He gently lifted a lock and watched the silky strands slide through his fingers. It’s even more amazing than it looks. Feeling bolder, he did it again this time using his fingers to comb through it. It was so soft and a faint, flowery scent reached his nose as he let if fall against her back. His heart hammered wildly, blood pounding in his ears. Just one more time. He ran his fingers through it again but stopped suddenly when Ginny gave an appreciative purr.
“Ooh, don’t stop. That feels so good,” she said breathlessly. “It makes me feel like a cat, like I need to stretch. It’s lovely.”
It’s now or never Potter. Don’t be a coward. He shifted and used both hands this time. Gently moving his fingers through her hair, he felt electrified. Reaching higher again, his fingers brushed the back of her neck and she gasped softly. It felt really powerful to elicit that response from her.
There’s no turning back from here if I touch her again. This is much more than just a friendly, pat on the back. It will change everything.
His need to feel her warm skin again far outweighed the warnings he had in his head. He plunged his hands once again into the fiery tresses. He used his thumbs to gently draw a line from her neck to the middle of her back, the path changing from warm skin to the flannel of her nightdress. The gasp was more pronounced this time as she arched her back and tilted her face up so that her long hair pooled on Harry’s forearms as he gently massaged her back. His heart was beating so hard and fast he was certain she could hear it. He moved his hands a little lower to her waist and marveled at the curves he found. He was touching Ginny and she seemed to like it.
Ginny shifted sideways so her back was against the cushioned chair arm and looked searchingly into Harry’s eyes, a smile playing on her lips. He met her gaze with much more confidence than he truly possessed and was relieved to find the same fire burning in her eyes that he himself felt. It was exhilarating. A bit like flying really, which explained why neither could seem to catch their breath. She lifted her legs so that they lay across his. He reached out with his right hand and ran it up one of the smooth limbs from her ankle to her knee. His eyes were drawn to her lips as she captured the lower one between her teeth.
Harry’s heart nearly failed him. KISS HER!! his mind screamed. KISS HER NOW!! He lifted his hand from her knee to brush a strand of hair off her face. His fingertips brushing her cheek, she leaned into his hand so that it gently cupped the left side of her face. He moved it to the back of her neck, his fingers moving through the soft downy hair there. He felt her pulse quicken as he rubbed his thumb along her jaw. Reaching out, she laid her hand on his chest.
He leaned closer, keeping his eyes on her lips, as she leaned closer to him. She licked her lips and he couldn’t breathe.
Closing his eyes at the very last second, he captured her lips in a kiss that was, at first, tentative but electric. Harry deepened the kiss and moved his hand up to cradle the back of Ginny’s head. His senses exploded when he felt the tip of her tongue exploring his lips. He experimented with his own tongue, running it alongside of hers, which made her moan softly and shiver. She tasted sweet and smelled like flowers. He moved his other arm around her back so that he was embracing her, unable to get close enough to her. She continued to explore his chest with her hand, his muscles flexing in appreciation, and found a sensitive peak under the soft cotton of his t-shirt. He moaned. His mind reeled and his body responded. He was going to explode. Harry flushed, mortified; she had to feel him straining against the thin material of his pajama bottoms. Rather than being repulsed, she seemed encouraged by this. She wanted to deepen the kiss again but Harry had to slow things down so he didn’t do something he knew he would regret. He’d either make a humiliating mess or ravage her in an act that he was nowhere near ready for. The dream was one thing; reality was entirely different.
He moved the kiss away from her mouth and kissed her jaw and then her neck, just under her ear. If he thought this would cool things down, he was mistaken. The kiss on the neck caused Ginny to produce that purring sound again only this time mingled with a moan. It very nearly sent him over the edge. He moved his lips back to hers for another taste and brought his hands up to her face, stroking her hair back. He softened the kisses, trying to control his breathing and pulled away to look into Ginny’s eyes.
He grinned. “Hi”.
“Hi yourself,” she responded with a grin of her own.
Harry couldn’t take the goofy grinning anymore so he pulled her close for a tight embrace. They sat this way, Ginny on Harry’s lap, with her head resting on his shoulder, for a few minutes. Only the fire popping and crackling broke the quiet until Harry said, “Ginny?”
“I’m sorry I wasted so much time being a blind idiot.”
“I forgive you.” She grinned again and giggled. “I’m sure you’ll make it up to me.”
“I hope I can.” He tone took on a slightly more serious note. “I want you to know that this isn’t about a snog for me. I want you to know that you… matter.”
She looked up at his face and then kissed him. Not with the heat of the last kisses but a kiss soft and full of love and promises. “You matter to me too Harry.”
Though he’d felt it in the kiss, he relaxed a little to hear her say it. She snuggled into his shoulder once more.
“Why’d you come down here to the common room tonight? I’m not complaining, mind; just curious.”
“Oh, uhm,” she blushed furiously.
“What? You can tell me.”
“I’ve kind of been having this dream… about you… since this past summer and …” she stammered. “Bloody hell, this is embarrassing!”
“No, tell me. Please?” Harry’s heart beat a little faster.
“See the thing is, around the time I turned 13 I decided that there was no use mooning over you. I threw that hero-worshipping crush off of myself and got on with it, yeah? We became friends, I actually got to know you for real and I was satisfied with that.” She paused. “Are you sure you want to hear this?”
Harry smiled and nodded.
“Okay, so last summer … on your birthday as a matter of fact” she squinted at him. “I started having this dream of you and me in the pond by our house. As innocent as can be. We were laughing, splashing, floating and just being happy and carefree. It was very nice really. I actually looked forward to it each night.”
“But?” He coaxed her, his heart thump-thumping, anticipating the answer but needing to hear it.
“Yeah so the last month or so the dream has taken on a … oh bugger! I can’t say it.”
“Taken on a less innocent, more adult theme?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” she hid her face in his chest and said into his shirt. “I couldn’t go back to sleep.”
“Gin, in this dream, were you by chance wearing a blue and green bathing suit and floating on a black tire tube?”
She squinted at him again, trying to figure him out. “Yes, actually I was. Or rather I started out wearing it and… oh.” Blushing deeper she hurried on. “How did you know that? I mean I don’t even own a suit like that. I saw one in Hermione’s muggle magazine and really liked it. She called it a tankini, I think. Sorry, I’m babbling. I just can’t believe it.”
“I can’t say as to how it’s possible but, that is the very same dream I’ve been having since my birthday. That dream saved me from losing it completely last summer. It gave me a feeling of hope that I couldn’t explain or find anywhere else. Though it’s been causing me some lost sleep lately too.”
“But… how?” She stammered astounded.
“I don’t know but thank you. It meant the world to me.” Harry smirked then and said, “We sure do have some naughty dreams, eh?” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Ginny giggled and kissed him softly. “We sure do.” She snuggled into him and he pulled the blanket around from the back of the chair to cover them both. For the second time in his short life Harry Potter felt he’d found home.
When Ron and Hermione found them that way the next morning she instinctively stepped in front of Ron, putting both hands on his chest, to stop what she was certain would be a loud and embarrassing confrontation. She said, “Wait Ron! Before you say anything, really look at them.”
He looked at the couple on the chair then at Hermione and said, “’Bout bloody time, yeah?”
He leaned down, landed a loud, smacking kiss on her lips and grinned. Hermione was astonished but rolled her eyes when he bellowed “Oi! Potter!! Get my sister off of you and get dressed. I’m starving.”