"That's it! NO MORE!" Ron Weasley shouted. "We've been practicing for nearly three hours. Dinner is almost over and I'm bloody hungry!" Harry watched Ron fly away from the Quidditch hoops just as his pretty younger sister threw the Quaffle at him. Wait a minute – did Harry just think of little Ginny Weasley as pretty? That certainly is not what he meant. He meant athletic – no – feminine. Grr, fine! He meant pretty.
"Fine!" Katie Bell, their new captain, looked exasperated. "It's almost sunset anyway!" Even though no one looked at Harry, he knew they were all thinking of him. While it was true that all teams were supposed to come in after sunset, the teachers only seemed concerned about enforcing this rule with Gryffindor. Everyone knew this was because Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Is-Now-A-Sitting-Duck, was on their team.
They all flew down to the ground and started heading towards the castle. Harry saw Ginny – that girl that he thought of as only a friend, but for some reason she caused his cheeks to heat up every time she came into the room – stuff the Quidditch balls into the trunk.
"Harry!" His best friend interrupted his thoughts. "Let's hurry, dinner will be done soon. I'm starved."
Harry smirked. I'll bet, he thought. Starved for the attention of one Miss Hermione Granger. "No, you go on ahead. I'll wait for Ginny." Where did that come from? "Y'know…. I…um…don't want her to walk about alone."
It was Ron's turn to smirk. "Suit yourself," he said with a shrug. Harry kicked back off from the ground, a rush of wind in his ears, thinking back on a conversation he had with Ron a month ago.
They were walking back from Quidditch practice, their brooms slung over their shoulders, when Ron started looking rather nervous. Actually, he had been quite fidgety all day.
"What's wrong with you?" Harry had asked. Ron looked up, startled.
"Nothing's wrong! Why? Do I…er… do I seem like something's wrong?" Ron stopped walking and looked at Harry. His eyes were frightened.
"Yeah, you do," Harry said, annoyed that Ron wouldn't tell him what was going on.
"Okay, mate. I've got to tell you something. Me an' - wait! First, promise you won't get mad."
"Ron," Harry warned, "tell me what it is - and I'm not promising anything."
Ron started walking slowly. "Okay." He took a deep breath. "Harry…sometimes a man and a woman like each other. No matter how hard they try not to, they like each other. And I don't want you to think you mean any less to me – to us – but this was -."
"Would you get to the point, please?" Harry interjected, amused. He thought he had a pretty good idea of what Ron was going to say.
"I-kissed-Hermione-and-she-kissed-me-and-I-think-I-like-her!" All in one breath. Ron's ears had turned bright red.
Harry laughed aloud before he could stop himself. "About time!" Ron grinned as Harry said this. "I'm glad you kissed her. Err...at least I'm glad you decided to fess up. Most of us were getting pretty sick of watching you fight."
"Aw, c'mon. We were never really bad… Okay, yeah we were," he conceded when he saw the look on Harry's face. "So, you're not upset?"
"Nah." And while this was true, Harry briefly wondered where this put him in their friendship.
As if reading his mind Ron said, "And don't worry or anything. We won't be all mushy and snog in the common room or anything." He pulled a face. "She probably won't even let me hold her hand until I swear devotion to all the house-elves or something. Completely nutters, that one." There was a faint smile on his lips. "So, anyway, what about you?"
"What about me?" To this Ron had pointed to the pair walking well ahead of them. "You want me to kiss Colin?" Harry asked with a feeble smile.
Ron rolled his eyes and said in a very Hermione like fashion, "No, the other one."
Harry felt his stomach do a flip-flop. "Right, Ron, I'm going to start snogging your sister. Are you sure you're not the one that's loony?"
"I don't want you to start snogging her. Yuck! At least, not in front of me! But she's pretty and she's good at Quidditch, she's got way more sense than Cho…plus, she fancied you for-bloody-ever ". Why, is she not good enough or something?"
"No! Of course not. Besides, even if she did fancy me, that was a long time ago. Hermione said she didn't anymore, remember?" Harry felt his cheeks burn, both in embarrassment and disappointment. "Anyway, I'm not talking about this with you!"
"Fine. Just a thought. No need to get upset."
They walked into the Great Hall and no more was said. Ever since, though, Harry had been wondering if Ginny Weasley did fancy him, or at least if there was the possibility that she could. He found himself watching her. Ron, it turned out, was right. She was pretty; very pretty, actually. And she was great at Quidditch. Ginny almost always had a smile on her face (unlike Cho) and the smile, more often than not, was directed at Harry, as if she were sharing a private joke with him. Plus, now that he thought back on it, she had always been there for him. Every time he had been upset she knew exactly what to say. She was funny and smart and, well, she was Ginny. He just feared he was too late.
She never seemed to talk to any particular boy, though. Indeed, he was surprised to find out that the boy she paid the most attention to was him! And every so often, he caught her looking at him thoughtfully. It made him wonder if perhaps Ron had the right idea after all.
Presently, Harry saw her watching him fly and felt the familiar whoosh in his stomach. He knew he wanted to do something about this feeling in his gut; it was just a matter of gathering up his courage. He started towards her. "Are you finished putting everything away?"
"Yeah." She smiled. She was really pretty when she smiled. "You don't have to stop flying if you don't want. I know you're not allowed outside by yourself. I don't mind waiting if you want to practice some more. It's not dark yet."
Mesmerized, he watched her tuck her hair behind her ear. "No, that's okay." Had she noticed him staring? He felt his cheeks flush. "I was actually waiting for you. I didn't want you to have to walk back alone and everyone else was hungry."
She stuck another piece of hair behind her ear. "Oh, well. Thank you." There was that smile again.
Harry struggled to think of something to say as they started towards the castle. "Good practice, wasn't it?" Stick with stuff you know.
"Yeah! I'm so glad Ron is doing better. Fred and George said they might come and see us play tomorrow."
Great, more brothers! "Oh, that's great! I haven't seen them since this summer at their shop." Harry thought of something. "Don't tell Ron! Hermione thinks he gets nervous in front of them."
"I won't tell him." Of course she wouldn't tell him. She was brilliant. "Although I wonder if it's nice to surprise him like that." And thoughtful.
"Well," he thought about it, "maybe they can, you know, not talk to him or anything until after the game." And maybe I can learn to speak in complete sentences.
"That's probably a good idea. One of us should try and head them off tomorrow, then."
"Yeah. We should." Together. Harry wondered how to bring up what he really wanted to ask her. "So…How are you doing?" Act concerned about them. Always good.
"I'm fine, Harry. How are you?" She seemed a little wary of him. Did he do something wrong already?
"Oh…fine." Just ask. "Listen, Ginny…" He glanced at her. "You know that Ron and Hermione are going to Hogsmeade together, right?"
"Yes, I know. Hermione told me." She smirked. Harry wondered if Hermione had acted as crazy as Ron had about it, and decided that even if it was a third as bad, it would have been funny.
"So…I'm not going with them, y'know. It might be a little weird." Can I go with you?
"Oh, Harry. They wouldn't care if you were there. But if you want, I was going with Neville and you can come with us."
Neville? He felt his stomach drop. She was going with Neville? Did she like Neville? He knew they went to the Yule Ball together a couple years ago, but - "No, no," he said, crushed. "I don't want to intrude."
Ginny looked confused. "Intrude? On Neville and - oh, trust me, it would not be intruding. Neville and I don't like each other. Well, we like each other, but not, you know, like each other." She flushed. "Anyway, I think he was going to see if Luna wanted to come with us. She never seems to have anyone to go with."
Despite himself, Harry felt a grin of relief form on his face. "Yeah, then, if you all don't mind, I didn't really want to go by myself." Harry felt his grin slip a little. Should he ask her for the next Hogsmeade trip before someone else does? "Ginny, there's something else I wanted to ask you."
"What is it Harry?" She stopped at the bottom step and looked expectantly at him. The sun was setting behind him, bathing her face in gold light.
He lost all ability to think. "Ginny…. I – I…well, I'm not actually-" Please regain control of motor functions. "-that is…hmph." He stopped, angry with himself. "This is coming out all wrong."
Did he say that out loud? Damn! Harry looked at her and saw a piece of bright hair resting on her cheek. It held his attention. "Your hair is falling out." Without realizing what he was doing, he moved to tuck the hair back behind her ear.
"My ha-?" Ginny stopped talking, her cheeks were turning red.
Her hair was silken and he found himself wondering if her skin was soft as well. Yep, it was. He ran his fingers down her jaw. His eyes focused on her lips, which had fallen slightly open. As he stared at them he watched them form his name.
His name, coming from her, was more than he could stand. Not thinking of the consequences, Harry leaned toward her. The first brush of her lips sent a shock wave through his system. This was incredibly different from kissing Cho. This was amazing. He pressed against her softly, wondering if he would collapse. Knowing he probably would if he didn't have such a tight hold on her jaw. Her …jaw? … oh… that probably hurt. He backed away.
She was staring at him with bright eyes and flushed cheeks. Harry knew he was panting but he couldn't seem to rein his breathing. Ginny hadn't slapped him yet, so he figured he could kiss her again.
He dropped his broom and closed his mouth on top of hers. Another wave of heat. He ran his tongue across her lips and to his delight she opened her mouth. He swept his tongue inside, hoping he was doing it right. Then, to his surprise and delight, Ginny let go of her broom and moved to put her arms around him. One hand moved across his back while the other slid through his hair. It was more than Harry could handle. He stepped closer and ran a hand down her slim back, noting in the back of his mind how well she fit next to him. Ginny moved her head and her tongue swept into his mouth. Harry's blood was pounding in his head…his chest and…somewhere else. With a jolt he jumped away, grateful for bulky robes and hoping she hadn't noticed.
He licked his lips, feeling both wonderful and terrified. Harry watched, mesmerized, as Ginny ran her index finger along her bottom lip. He felt his cheeks flush again. "Ginny…"
The front door flew open and Harry felt all of the blood drain from his face. Ron. There. In the door, watching with a smirk on his face. "There you are," he nearly sang. "I was getting worried. Dinner's almost over."
"I don't think I'm hungry," Ginny said, her cheeks growing brighter by the second. She quickly looked at Harry after grabbing her broom and before it even occurred to him to stop her, she had disappeared into the castle. Harry waited two beats then picked up his own broom and started inside, with the intention of following her.
"Don't bother going after her." Ron was still staring at Harry. "After I kissed Hermione, she wouldn't talk to me for two days." Harry started to protest. "So," Ron interrupted him. "You going to Hogsmeade with my little sister?"
"A-and Neville, I think," Harry mumbled, glancing longingly at the staircase that led to Gryffindor Tower.
"Seriously," Ron said as they walked into the Great Hall. "She won't want to talk to you."
"What?" said Harry, sitting down across from Hermione. "You're such an expert?"
"Expert on what?" inquired Hermione.
Harry smirked. "Kissing girls."
Hermione cheeks grew pink. "Oh."
"So, Hermione, guess what?" Ron said around a mouthful of potato. "Ginny and Harry are going to Hogsmeade together."
"With Neville," Harry muttered, glaring at Ron. He stuck a piece of pork chop in his mouth.
"Harry?" Hermione smiled sweetly at him. "Where's Ginny? I thought you were waiting for her."
Ron answered for him. "It seems she wasn't hungry. Although if you ask me -."
"She didn't," said Harry.
"- it was only dinner she wasn't hungry for." Ron winked at Harry.
He felt his cheeks grow warm. "Ron, I am not talking about this with you."
"Fine, fine. All I'm saying is she looked awfully flushed and all out of breath."
"I'm just saying" Ron held his hands up by his shoulders, palms forward.
"I know exactly what you're just sayi-."
"Ron," Hermione interrupted Harry. "Weren't you saying Professor Snape wanted to see you before class tomorrow? What was that about?"
"What? Oh yeah! The git said I had to…" And Ron was sidetracked, leaving Harry alone with thoughts about Ginny Weasley. He finished his dinner quickly and stood up, throwing over his shoulder that he wanted to shower.
When he finished his shower he saw Ron, Hermione and Neville sitting beside the fire. Ginny wasn't in the common room. Harry couldn't decide whether he was happy about this or not.
"Oy, Harry, come over here," Ron called. "Do y'want to play chess? Hermione is daunted by my prowess and has decided she won't play me anymore."
"That is not true." Hermione failed at the stern look she directed toward Ron. "I am making more hats for the elves." As she said this she pulled out a brightly colored ball of yarn, along with a set of knitting needles. With a flick of her wand, Hermione set the needles to work.
"Yeah, I'll play. Let me get my set." When Harry returned, he sat opposite Ron and organized his pieces. As Ron made his first move, Harry glanced up and saw Ginny enter the room. Her hair was damp and curling from the shower she had just obviously taken. For some reason, the thought of this made him warm and he felt himself flush as he met her eyes. Ron called to Ginny.
"Ginny, come over here. We were just talking about Hogsmeade on Saturday. Harry says he's going with you." He lifted an eyebrow and smirked. Harry wished the earth would swallow him.
"And Neville," he squeaked. He was sure she could feel the heat his cheeks were giving off.
"I asked Luna, too." Harry looked gratefully at Neville, even though the boy seemed to have no idea what was really going on. "Although, I'm not sure if she said okay or not. She said something about wind and haste and not putting stock in the future. I have no idea what she meant."
"So…" Ron paused. "If Luna is going with Neville and you two are going together..." Ron let the suggestion hang in the air, a smirk on his freckled face.
Harry groaned to himself. To his surprise Ginny looked Ron in the eye and said, "Well, Ron, Harry wanted to go with you two." She pointed to Ron and Hermione. "But he didn't want to intrude. You know, he wanted to give you and Hermione privacy to do whatever it is lovebir-."
"Anyway, Ginny," Hermione interrupted Ginny, her face on fire. "How is studying for the O.W.L.s coming along?"
Ginny shot a pointed look at Ron before replying. And Harry was grateful to see Ron had given up teasing the two of them and was concentrating his efforts on beating Harry at chess. This was usually an easy task but today it was laughable. Harry could not stop his mind from returning to the kiss he shared with Ginny that evening. Every time he thought about it, he felt an unwelcome blush creep up his neck. He was pleased to note that Ginny seemed to be having a hard time keeping her eyes off him. Once he caught her eye and didn't realize he was staring until Ron coughed loudly. When Harry, startled, looked back at Ron, the red head just smirked and gave a pointed glance from Harry to Ginny back to Harry.
By the time the game was over, Harry was desperate to be out of the room. He wasn't sure his nerves could take anymore shrewd, teasing looks from Ron. "I'm going to bed." He said as he stood quickly.
"Why? It's still early. Let's play again."
"No, I'm really tired."
Ron shrugged. "Okay, then, g'night."
"Night Harry." Hermione didn't even look up from whatever book she was reading.
"Night guys." He gathered up his courage. "Um…goodnight Ginny."
To his delight she looked him in the eye and said quietly, "Goodnight Harry." He grinned stupidly before turning to go to bed. He could hear Ron start in on her the moment he was up the stairs, but he hardly cared. He was far more concerned about Hogsmeade on Saturday. Should he pay for her Butterbeer? Should he open doors? Either way, he thought as he got into bed, Saturday was going to be an interesting day.