Ginny sighed audibly as she watched Harry move slowly away from the party being held in his honor. The twins had managed to get their parents out of the house for the day so the young people could arrange to celebrate Harry coming to stay for the rest of the summer. The day was supposed to be a rare moment of happiness amid the ever-increasing backdrop of strife and suffering; the war was escalating. Harry wasn't cooperating with the plan.
Initially the Weasleys had taken to sheltering at Grimmauld Place until Dumbledore and Bill were confident of the Wards around the Burrow. Just a few days ago word had come down that not only could they return home, but also that Harry was going to be able to come and stay as well. Ginny had been relieved; it had not been any happier staying at Sirius's home this summer than it had been last summer. In fact it became worse as it became impossible to escape the dismal pall that Sirius's death had cast upon that sad house.
At least Harry was spared the prospect of staying at Headquarters. There was also good news from his relative's home, as the Dursleys seemed to have actually left Harry moderately alone for once. Ginny knew that being alone had caused the heart breaking droop of Harry's shoulders as he shuffled away from the party down the dirt path toward the pond behind the Burrow.
"Oh, Harry shouldn't go off alone," Hermione stated.
Ginny looked over her shoulder to see Hermione restlessly wringing her hands with tears shining in her eyes. Ginny was just happy her mum had not seen Harry wander away. She knew the sight would have been as painful for her as it was for Ginny. Hermione's voice trembled with anxiety, "I'd better go after him."
Ginny knew that Harry was not looking for any comfort from Hermione. It had been painfully obvious to every Weasley that Harry had been avoiding Hermione like she was a Blast-Ended Skrewt. She quickly spoke up. "Hermione, why don't you let me try. I'll go after him."
Ginny refused to meet Hermione's eyes, and the hard glare she was shooting her way. The fight she had been dreading did not materialize as another familiar voice joined in, "Hermione, let Ginny go. Besides, I think I'd be more worried about what Fred is about to do to Ron."
Ginny turned to watch Hermione's reaction to George's comment. She grew surprised as she watched Hermione's face blanch and turn a remarkable shade of white. Intrigued, she followed her gaze and noticed that Fred had snuck up behind Ron and transfigured a huge spider that he was controlling behind a snoozing Ron. Oh Ron is not going to like that.
As Hermione shot her a nasty glance and moved to save Ron, Ginny could not help wanting to say, "I did try to hold in my giggle." However, a giggle did escaped her and Hermione shot yet another annoyed glance over her shoulder before facing forward with a flip of her bushy hair.
"Okay little one, Fred and I got Hermione and Ron out of the way. Go take care of Harry for us, all right?"
She turned and gave George a hug. As she leaned up and gave him a kiss on his cheek, she murmured, "Thanks and pass it on to Fred."
George smiled wickedly, "The kiss or the thanks?"
"Oh, off with you then. Besides I think Fred needs protection from Hermione." It really looks it too. Hermione looks downright scary with that evil glint in her eye. You would have thought that they had transfigured her favorite book or something. Oh. I think they did.
With a shrug of her shoulders she wandered off down the path. She paused for a second looking at some Muggle sweets Hermione had brought, sweets that for once weren't that sugar-free stuff her dentist parents always gave her. Madam Pomfrey was always quick with the chocolate to cheer someone up
Harry was startled to notice the water at his feet as opposed to the dirt path he had followed. Depressed and distracted, he had nearly walked into the small pond.
Even though he knew the party was for him, his depressed state kept him from enjoying it. Supposedly, some more people were going to be coming by later to drink some of the massive amounts of Butterbeer they had acquired. Harry was guiltily grateful for having Mrs. Weasley gone: she was being far too motherly at the moment. He was not grateful at the thought of more people coming over. He liked being alone at the Dursleys, which was such a remarkable change from last summer. Being alone gave him more time to think: More time to reflect on his stupidity, more time to be alone with his new life without Sirius.
Without thinking he bent over to pick up some pebbles lying in the dirt along the pond's edge. He idly tossed one after another into the water. He watched, without thought, as the ripples of water slowly spread out across the glassy plain of the water. He almost waxed poetic for a moment about how the ripples flickering across the reflective surface were much like how people rippled around his life. But he could just not bring himself to do it.
As he stood there unmoving, gazing at the surface of the pond, he started to see something else aside from the reflected portrait of trees and sky. A face was framed in the reflected trees in the pond, a face that he knew if he closed his eyes he would see so clearly in his mind's eye. Truly, the image he saw on the lake was from his memory. He had first noticed his odd compulsion to think about this face weeks ago when his depression had hit a remarkably deep point.
Whenever this face appeared, in his dreams and in his thoughts, he was always comforted. He could remember every detail from the cute little button nose, to those amazing eyes, and the impish smile, and all of it encased in a brilliant halo of hair. She had become, without either of them realizing how, a rock that he would grab and hold on to in his depression. She was his lifeline to happiness, for that was how he equated her in his mind, pure happiness.
He had been startled at first at these powerful new feelings for her. After days of thought and massive amounts of stored memories about her, he came to realize that these were not new thoughts or feelings. They had simply always been there waiting for the perfect time to come out. Or the imperfect time.
It had been the perfect time for Harry to hold onto her image to keep his sanity after Sirius's loss. It was also a perfect a time to discover how much he cared for her. As perfect as the timing was for Harry, it wasn't for Ginny. The other man in her life and that little phrase 'gave up on him months ago,' proved it. Those little words kept coming back to haunt him. He had been happy when that fiery spirit of hers, always legend among the Weasley family, started to show up around him. Now though
No, he answered the question he was about to ask himself. He knew that he would not want her to be shy again if that was what it took for her to like him once more. He liked her far too much like this and if she was happy by not fancying him anymore, then he could live with that. Still it would be nice if there were something more. It had almost become a torture seeing her at the Burrow getting owls almost every day from some person or other.
A soft step on the dirt behind him made him turn and stare into her glorious chocolate eyes. For a moment he felt like he could drown in those liquid pools of warm brown before he yanked his gaze down to the dirt beneath his feet. He felt her move up and stand by him looking out over the pond. He sheepishly shuffled his feet around to join her, shoulder to shoulder, staring out over the pond even though his gaze was still on the ratty trainers that graced his feet.
Just listening to her whisper his name was like hearing Phoenix song erupting into the clear air above the pond. He could already feel his heart leap, and his stomach fly up to the back of his throat. "I brought some of those Muggle sweets that Hermione brought over." He didn't comment, but he did look at the offered sweet in her hand.
With a little tremor, he cupped the sweet in his sweaty palm and considered it carefully before taking a bite. Harry moved in quick jerky motions as he ate the sweet in two fast bites. He glanced up to look at her face as he swallowed and almost choked on his last bite. "Thanks."
She shook her head in wonder at his eating habits. He stared in awe at the hypnotic sway of her ponytail peaking out behind her smiling face. Strange feelings started to come from his stomach that still resided at the back of his throat. In his excitement it felt like there was a full Quidditch game going on in there as he watched her majestically raise one of the sweets to her puckered red lips. Her first bite caused some juice to squirt out and start to dribble down her chin. She pulled it away and giggled as the rosy drip slid down her chin. As she raised a slim finger to wipe the juice away, she could not contain the giggle that escaped her. Harry, on the other hand, could not contain the gulp that he tried to force past his stomach still at the back of his throat.
Instantly he dropped his gaze again and startled to rub the hair on the back of his neck. He tried to say something anything as she finished the sweet, but all that came out of his mouth seemed to consist of several disjointed and inane phrases. The most intelligent seemed to be 'erm'. Stupid.
"I'm sorry for following you out here like this, Harry."
I'm not sorry.
"I know you probably want to be alone."
I'm not alone any more; I carry you around with me everywhere.
"I just wanted to say that I know you probably think about Sirius all the time."
Sirius. All of the pain came flooding back.
"Harry, I just wanted to well maybe help you out."
Help me out?
The grunt he made must have been quizzical enough to convince Ginny to continue. "Harry, I want to help you get your mind off of Sirius."
But you already have.
"You see Harry. I want to give you something else to think about."
Why did she just step closer to me?
He looked up into her face slightly surprised. His surprise turned rapidly into shock. A shock that quickly became fear, as he noticed how close she now stood to him. Facing him, with her face up turned and her lips slightly parted. A sudden fear gripped him as he thought he might know how she planned on giving him something else to think about.
His heart started to pound in his ears as she reached up a hand and lightly touched his face. He could not help himself. Instinctively he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. They stayed like that for a moment before he opened his eyes only to see that she had moved even closer.
Hesitantly, her face started to move ever closer to his. Her eyes flitted shut as their lips seemed drawn together like a magnet. For only the second time in Harry's life he could count the freckles on a girl's face. His breathing became a roar in his ears as lightly, oh so lightly, their lips brushed. After a hesitant brush or two, like a butterfly kissing a flower, they both eagerly moved forward into each other. Their faces and bodies melded together, and they became one in each other's arms. Together they felt the tension ease away from them both. Together they were lost in time lost in each other.
"Wow Hermione, what do you call these sweets again?" Typical, Hermione thought, Ron more interested in his stomach than this magical moment playing out before us.
"Shush Ron." She was really trying to ignore the twins and Ron and concentrate on what was occurring on the dinner plate the twins had charmed. A dinner plate set to show the image of Ginny and Harry down by the pond. In it she could see that Ginny's and Harry's first kiss was still going on and had become rather heated. Good for her. Hermione had felt guilty at first to witness such a private moment, but lots of effort had gone into this moment, and she had wanted to witness it. It did not take much convincing to get the twins to cast the charm they had created to spy on people.
"Hermione, what are these things called?"
She turned and felt her heart melt when she saw his chocolate smeared lips. "Chocolate covered strawberries."
He looked perplexed when he answered, "Well I know what they are, but what'd the Muggles call them again?"
She simply smiled and decided if it worked for Ginny. She closed her eyes and leaned forward quickly, closing the gap between Ron and her on the bench.
Attuned to each other and their surroundings, the twins immediately stopped to turn and observe their little brother's first kiss. They had been shocked when Hermione had first approached them about getting their help with her plan to get Harry and Ginny together. It was a good plan, but it just needed some help. Their help consisted of a certain potion they had created and added to the chocolate covered strawberries. The potion helped to lower inhibitions, so that each of the four stubborn young'ins, who were so obliviously head over heels for each other, could get over their thick selves and say what was in their hearts. So they might have forgotten to mention anything to Hermione Besides, by the amount of passion going on over at the picnic bench, she would probably be thanking them if she knew. Yep, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. That was their axiom.
"Do ya reckon that Mum is enjoying the show?"
"I hope so; it was the only way we could get her to take Dad away."
"Yeah, brilliant idea there, getting Dad to teach us that surveillance charm."
"Yeah, makes you wonder how often he used that on us."
"Yeah." They smiled at each other and turned to walk unnoticed into the Burrow. They wanted to Floo Headquarters to see whom else was watching with Mum and Dad.
At the pond Harry and Ginny broke off their kiss. It took him several moments to get control of his racing heart, shallow breathing, and weak knees. "Wow, Ginny." He finally managed to choke out.
"No kidding, Harry."
"Wait, I thought you didn't fancy me anymore."
"No I told Hermione, that I got over you big difference you know."
"Huh?" As he tried to ponder what the difference was, because he really did not know, he rubbed the hair at the back of his neck. "But, erm, what about Dean?"
She threw her head back and laughed deeply, filling him with joy. "Harry, you should never take anything I say to Ron about boys seriously."
"Oh." Well I didn't know that.
"Actually Harry I never stopped fancying you. I did stop crushing on you though."
More neck rubbing as he tried to understand what she was saying. "So um, does that mean you still fancy me then? Oh. No you said that you aren't crushing on me anymore."
She said it slowly like she was trying to explain something to Crabbe or Goyle. "Yes ... Harry, I do still fancy you, and I am not crushing anymore. It is better now, trust me."
Wait, did she just say that she fancied me still? Oh boy.
"Harry can I ask you something?"
"Yeah erm um sure?"
"When we kissed I thought " He noticed a deep crimson blush rise up to her cheeks. "Did you like, well it seemed like when we kissed you seemed to like it?"
"Yeah?" He heard a hint of something unpleasant in her tone.
"Oh yeah, I mean yes. I really, really liked it Ginny."
"And you would like to do it again sometime?"
He gulped and then nodded. For some reason he did not really trust himself to speak at that moment.
"Harry. Does that mean you might fancy me?"
He nodded again before he realized that she really deserved something better than that.
"Ginny, yes I really fancy you. I mean really fancy you. I don't know how to explain this, but I've been thinking about you fancying you all summer. I thought about you at first to get my mind off of Sirius. Then I noticed how much I really cared for you and well, I think I've fancied you for a while now, and I think that I really liked kissing you. No! I mean yes! I really liked kissing you and I want to do it some more and " He trailed off as she started to giggle. It only took him a moment to realize that he had been rambling on.
She gently laid her slim finger against his lips. "Shh Harry. I understand. Let's forget about talking for a moment and get back to that kissing part."
And so they did.
This was originally intended for the Short and Sweet Competition, but real life interfered royally last week and kept me from getting this entered during the proper time frame. So, here is a short fluffy little story of young love.
Thanks to vertu for giving this a once (and many) over(s) and to Kelleypen for being the cool beta that she is.