Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters, plot
elements and locations are the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling.
The distribution of this story is a hobby only, and no monetary gain
has been received by the author or the administrators of this site.
Note: This story was finished prior to the publication of Half
Blood Prince – and therefore is now wildly off canon. I got a few
things right, and I also got a number of things wrong – such as
Hermione's patience with Ron. I thought she was at the end of her
rope and about to beat him about the head – I was mistaken.
However, it is still a fun little read, and as my other story,
Something Gold, was so warmly received, I decided to go ahead and post
it here. Also, there is a WIP sequel, Bumbling Towards Ecstasy,
which deals with Harry's life after Hogwarts and still very much
applies thematically, that I will begin posting once we are all caught
up with this one.
Continued thanks to loyal betas Loony Phoenix, Kjirstyn and Rin.
One thing I did NOT get wrong is Ginny's full name. I know it's
Ginevra. Harry doesn't. It's a joke – go with it. Trust
was the middle of August and sixteen-year-old Harry Potter was once
again sitting alone in the drawing room of Number Twelve, Grimmauld
Place. Harry knew the others living in the house were relieved that he
wasn't raging at the world. The truth was he had been angry for an
entire year. Now he was exhausted. He was so tired he could barely move.
supposed he shouldn't feel so tired anymore. He slept almost
exclusively during his time at Privet Drive. He spent practically the
entire month either unconscious or staring at his ceiling. He tried to
read every once in a while, but after a few pages he would start to
feel sleepy again and would roll over and close his eyes. He barely saw
his aunt or uncle, and that was fine by him. He didn't want to deal
with the Dursleys and they, apparently, were just as happy not to have
to deal with him.
The move to Grimmauld Place was pretty much
a nonevent. The guards showed up, Harry left with them, the end. Harry
was fairly certain people had been tiptoeing around him that first
night, expecting him to have some sort of extreme emotional reaction to
being back in the old house. But he really didn't feel like having any
emotions, so instead he ate a bit of toast and went to bed.
being around people he actually liked gave him motivation to leave his
room every day. But he still didn't feel like talking to anyone much.
And amazingly, everyone around him seemed to understand and essentially
left him alone. No one even asked him how he was, though he could tell
that Hermione and Mrs. Weasley both desperately wanted to, but were
holding their tongues. He was grateful for the respite, but at the same
time he had to wonder if part of the agreed silence was because no one
really needed to ask him how he was. Even he could feel his own misery
wafting off his skin. And it seemed he was skinnier than he had ever
been before, if that was possible.
In return for the space he
was given, he made an effort to show up to at least two meals a day,
even going so far as to make sure he cleaned his plate in an attempt to
give Mrs. Weasley one less thing to worry about, although he drew the
line at seconds. In the evenings he would either sit and read with
Hermione or play a game of chess with Ron before retiring once again to
his bed. But the rest of his day was spent in the drawing room, sitting
alone, staring at a charred hole in an old tapestry.
In all of his sitting and staring he recently came to two realizations, neither of them pleasant.
first was that he hadn't really known Sirius very well. Harry loved
Sirius, he was sure. He started thinking of Sirius as something akin to
a parent within weeks of meeting him. Having someone who not only cared
for him, but made Harry his top priority made Harry feel as though his
own place in the world was more stable, more secure somehow. Still, he
only turned to Sirius on a few important occasions. Their time together
had been stunningly brief. And, as a result, he knew almost nothing of
the man who had been his godfather. A few stories about his teen years,
plus what amounted to maybe six weeks in each other's actual presence;
that was it.
The ache was still unbearable though. Harry felt
as though he had a hole inside him. It was during a rather emotionally
shut-down moment, thinking his grief didn't make rational sense, that
he suddenly understood: a large part of what he was mourning was what
he would never have. The future relationship he hadn't realized he was
looking forward to, when the war was over and Sirius was free and they
could finally have some time. Though Harry loved him, would have risked
his life for him, Sirius was now another important person from his life
that he would never truly know.
The second thought was even
worse: Sirius might have known about the prophecy. As the original
secret keeper, Sirius must have known why James and Lily were taking
Harry into hiding. It was Sirius who had hinted that Voldemort was
after a weapon last summer. The weapon turned out to be the prophecy,
which the Order was attempting to guard. He had to know and he, like
Dumbledore, had kept Harry in the dark. If Harry was going to be
furious with Dumbledore didn't that mean he had to be furious with
Sirius as well?
But Harry didn't want to be angry with Sirius. He wanted, somewhat fervently, to idolize him.
decided the only solution was not to think on what Sirius might or
might not have known about the prophecy too much. That was dangerous
ground, so Harry simply refused to go there.
And so he sat. And stared. And occasionally dozed.
truth was Harry was starting to get a little sick of himself. Sick of
living inside his own head where his thoughts just kept going in the
same circles, which only served to make him more upset and more tired.
Part of him knew that the time was coming when he would have to rejoin
the world of the living. The problem was the transition just seemed so
Someone padded into the room. Harry didn't
stir. It was only when the person sat down in the chair opposite him
that Harry realized it was Ginny. That was okay. Except for the few
times Harry had actively done something to hack her off, Ginny was
mostly a benign presence. There had even been one or two times when she
had somehow hit upon the right words to make him feel better,
including, at least once, when she had been furious with him. Which, in
his opinion, made Ginny an alright person to sit with.
silence lingered for a few moments before Ginny leaned forward
conspiratorially and announced, "I think there is something going on
between Ron and Hermione."
Harry barely managed a nonplussed
"Hmm." This wasn't news. Something had been going on between Ron and
Hermione since at least fourth year. Probably since they met. The only
surprise was that it had taken an intelligent girl like Ginny this long
to notice. Unless... Harry opened his eyes and sat up straighter. "Hold
on. Do you mean 'going on' like you know why Ron gets all
overprotective and jealous and it is unbelievable that he still won't
admit it, or do you mean something is actually going on going on?"
smiled at him, bemused. "I've understood my brother's suppressed
affections since he confessed to me exactly why he had spent a night
burping up slugs. No, I mean I think progress has been made. Something
has happened behind the scenes that they aren't sharing."
Now THAT definitely caught his interest. "Why?"
"They had a huge row yesterday."
Harry slumped back into his chair and grumbled, "That's hardly something new."
gave him a look of deep annoyance before she continued. "Mum asked the
three of us to go through some rooms that haven't been used for a
while, to make sure nothing has moved in. We had been working for a
couple of hours when Hermione asked if I knew how many rooms were left;
she had a letter she had been hoping to write before dinner. Ron made
this kind of noise, like a cross between a groan and a snort." Ginny
gestured with her hands to emphasize her point. "That was it. A noise.
And Hermione completely went off. She told him something like she had
really thought she could be patient and wait for him to pull his head
out of his arse, but she just couldn't do it anymore. It's been two
years and she can't just sit and bear the brunt of his jealousy,
especially if she isn't going to at least reap some of the benefits.
She was done waiting. Either he could grow up and be a man, or he could
just sod off already, because even though he was clearly insane he
wasn't going to take her down with him." Ginny sat back, arms crossed,
very self-satisfied. "Then she stormed out of the room."
Harry shifted in his seat, his curiosity raised, slightly. "Hermione really said all that? Even the arse part?"
"Almost word for word. It was bloody brilliant."
"And 'sod off' seems unlikely."
rolled her eyes in a dramatic gesture, which Harry was sure was
intended to demonstrate just how extremely patient she was being with
him. "That's the point, Harry. I have never heard Hermione talk like
that, but my dear brother has nearly driven her right round the bend."
smirked. "He just stood there, for about a minute, staring at the door.
Then he went back to searching the sofa almost like nothing happened."
Ginny became more animated again, as though reliving her annoyance from
the moment. "I couldn't believe it. I swear I was about to hex him,
Restrictions for Underage Magic be damned. I couldn't live with having
a brother that stupid. But then all of a sudden he chucked the throw
pillows he was looking under, muttered, 'Bollocks' under his breath,
and walked out of the room."
If this was the end of the
story, Ginny was revealing herself to be a Ron and Hermione amateur.
Harry's voice was slightly agitated as he demanded, "And you think this
is a good thing? They had a fight like this before, you know."
Ginny seemed incredulous as she asked, "Didn't you notice them yesterday at dinner?"
Harry answered honestly. "No." Truth was he barely noticed anything at all.
"They were being really nice to each other."
As if that was supposed to mean anything. He scoffed, "Ron and Hermione generally are nice to each other."
held up her hand. "No, I mean really nice. Ron refilled her pumpkin
juice four times and she kept asking if he wanted more peas."
Harry shrugged, "That's hardly evidence of anything."
Completely exasperated, Ginny nearly shouted, "Harry, he gave her the last piece of pie!"
that was it then; Ron and Hermione were officially an item. If it was
at all possible, Harry started to look gloomier than he had when Ginny
first walked in.
Ginny obviously noticed as she suddenly
started to apologize, "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry. I thought, I guess I
thought this was fun news. Erm... I'm sure they will do everything they
can to make sure you don't feel left out."
Left out? Harry hadn't even thought of that. Yet. "That's not it."
Ginny looked confused. "What is wrong, then?"
was silent for a moment. It was hard to explain without sounding silly.
He had known this day was coming for ages, it was just... "I always
thought I would be there." The terrified look on Ron's face alone was
something he had been looking forward to for years.
Ginny gave an impish grin. "It was pretty classic."
had always assumed, when things finally came to their inevitable head,
he would be the one to pat Ron on the back and offer a few words of
encouragement before sending his best friend off to face his fate. That
was his job, wasn't it? Somehow the moment had gone by without him.
Harry continued to be lost in his own unhappy thoughts Ginny's face
softened to a look of understanding. "I'm sorry you missed it. But
don't worry, Harry, in a few years Ron will be facing the horror of
having to propose. Can you even imagine what a mess he will be then?"
I guess." Harry knew he was pouting, but he couldn't help it. And now
Ginny had mentioned something new to fret about. "Gin?"
Harry lowered his voice: he didn't like sounding insecure. "Do you think I should be worried? About being left out?"
appeared to be taking her time responding. Finally, she quietly began,
"The truth is, I have been told, by certain people, that when a girl
gets a new boyfriend sometimes she tends to be neglectful of her own
friends, but I think this will be different."
voice became very matter-of-fact. "Because Ron and Hermione were
already friends and the three of you are pretty much an exclusive trio.
If Hermione started dating someone outside your group, like, oh, I
don't know, from Ravenclaw or something, I am sure you would see less
of her. But they already spend all their time together anyway, so it
won't really be that big of a change."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Besides," she smiled a little wickedly, "as soon as you find a girl of your own, you'll be too busy to notice."
Harry let out a derisive snort.
Ginny frowned, "What's that supposed to mean?"
don't exactly see myself dating any time in..." he was going to say the
near future, but suddenly felt the truth was really, "ever."
For the first time in the conversation Ginny looked as though she felt a bit sorry for him. "That's too bad, Harry."
Before things turned too maudlin, Harry hastened to add, "It's not like I was any good at it anyway."
his lead, Ginny smirked, "So the real issue comes out. Look, if Ron can
manage, you can't be that much of a lost cause."
night at dinner Harry actually worked at paying attention. Ginny was
right: Ron and Hermione were acting differently towards each other.
More mindful somehow, but quietly so.
Later, when Ron and
Harry played chess, Ron sat on the floor and Hermione read her book in
the chair behind him. They weren't touching, but they were unusually
close and the whole thing had an air of sweetness about it. Finally, as
the trio made their way up the stairs for bed, Harry realized almost
belatedly that the pair had fallen behind and he reached the second
landing alone. It was a full minute before Ron entered the bedroom.
whole thing was a bit surreal in that Harry realized if Ginny hadn't
pointed anything out to him, he would have continued on in his own
little world, oblivious. At the same time it was so obvious. It was
with a bit of relief that Harry understood that they weren't working
particularly hard at going behind his back, if they were doing so at
all. They just weren't telling him outright.
Harry decided to let his best friend off the hook. He tried to sound as nonchalant as possible as he asked, "So how is it?"
Ron looked up from buttoning his pajamas. "How's what?"
Harry hopped onto his bed casually before he dropped the bomb. "Kissing our mutual best friend?"
Ron's mouth dropped. His hands froze. "How do you know?"
Harry shrugged. "Ginny figured it out."
arms dropped to his sides in defeat. "Figures. Hermione wasn't
exactly discreet, telling me off yesterday." He sat on his bed and
looked at Harry a little cautiously. "Are you mad?"
Harry considered for a moment. He didn't feel angry. "Don't think so."
started to explain, "We were trying to figure out how to tell you, but
you haven't been around much. And we weren't sure if you were, you
know, really interested in this kind of news just now."
smirked a bit as he confessed, "I suggested we could just spend the day
snogging in here and maybe you would walk in on us, but Hermione
wouldn't go for it for some reason."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Shocking, that."
A moment passed before Ron asked seriously, "Are you sure you're not upset?"
"Should I be upset?"
"I don't know." Ron started to shift a little uncomfortably. "Hermione was worried you might feel left out or something."
again. Perhaps it would be best if they dealt with this right now.
Harry asked honestly, "Are you planning on leaving me out?"
Ron looked shocked. "No."
"Then there's nothing to be upset about," Harry said simply.
Ron didn't seem so certain. "I guess."
tried for a joke. "Besides, it's not like I want to be included in
anything," Harry made a face to indicate exactly what he meant,
"couple-y with you guys, anyway."
"Well, that's good," Ron grinned. "Spares us the nasty business of me having to rip your lungs out."
make a deal," Harry offered. "We all hang out as usual and I'll pretend
not to notice anything annoyingly flirty or cuddly and you guys can
have your alone time while I have my Occlumency lessons with
"Sounds good." Ron seemed to be considering seriously. "And if we need any extra snogging time, there's always prefect rounds."
"Exactly." The two boys shook hands. Issue solved.
felt good knowing everything was going to be okay. Ron and Hermione
might have changed, but the three of them would stay basically the
same. He felt so good; in fact, he couldn't help needling Ron a
bit. "So how is kissing our mutual best friend?"
Ron's ears turned a distinct red. "Brilliant."
next day, Harry decided to make a change. He still slept in as late as
usual, but after lunch, rather than taking up his post in the drawing
room, he joined the others while they were doing their chores. Harry
knew Mrs. Weasley was essentially just making up things for them to do.
It was probably a good idea, keeping the four teenagers at least
partially occupied rather than letting them just sit around the house
doing nothing and going completely barmy.
Today they were
reorganizing the library. Hermione had become so enthusiastic; Harry
was just waiting for the moment when she was bound to suggest something
dramatic like devising a card catalogue. He figured it couldn't be
long. Currently they were only sorting by author and title. Harry knew
the "disorganization" would get to her eventually.
Finally, her thoughtful voice came from across the room. "You know, we really ought to create some sort of sub-system."
Harry snorted into the cover of the book he was holding and he caught Ginny covering her mouth, presumably to suppress a giggle.
his part, Ron slammed a rather heavy volume down on top of a dusty
pile. His voice was firm. "Hermione, no. This is busy work. Nothing
"But we could at least do something simple. General
categories, like History, Potions, Transfiguration." Then she smiled,
as though she thought she was offering a reasonable compromise. "We
could just stick to the same topics as our classes at school."
was not moved. "Oh, really. Then where are we supposed to put this one:
Trans-u-genesis: The Origin and History of the Transfiguration of
Dangerous Creatures into Muggle Artifacts and its Application to the
Modern Day Dark Arts?"
Hermione scowled at him. "You're making that up."
Ron waved the book at her. "I am not. Take a look at this." Ron cradled the book in his arms and started to turn the pages.
Hermione suddenly started towards him in alarm. "Ron, don't!"
she was too late. Without warning, the book came to life and lunged at
Ron, digging its pages into his hand. The other three all moved at
once. Harry struggled to pry the attacking volume off his friend and
threw it on the floor. Ginny grabbed an enormous bust of a Black family
ancestor and dropped it on the monstrosity, effectively stunning and
pinning it to the floor. Hermione tended to a horrified Ron.
"It bit me! The bloody thing bit me."
"Oh God, it's already starting to swell," Hermione said, sounding rather alarmed.
"Nearly took my arm off!"
calm down!" Hermione ordered. She turned to Harry and Ginny, who were
both still staring at the book warily. "I'm taking him down to Mrs.
Weasley," she said as she started to lead the still muttering Ron from
As soon as they were left alone in the room Ginny
gave the book a slight kick. It groaned a bit in response, but didn't
move. "I don't think it can get out from under that," Harry said. "I'm
half surprised you could even lift it."
"Well, you know, adrenaline and all that," Ginny muttered darkly.
two looked at each other for a moment, then smiled a bit, shook their
heads and returned to work. It was amazing, really, Harry thought, how
before, something like an attacking book would have stopped the day,
whereas now it barely generated any reaction at all.
wanted to fill the silence. In fact, he realized he was somewhat eager
to have another conversation like the one they had shared yesterday. He
just wasn't sure how to start. After a few minutes of pondering,
something occurred to him. Something he was curious about, so he
decided to ask, "How's Dean?"
"Dean?" She seemed surprised at
the inquiry, yet there was also something a little off about her as she
asked a bit too defensively, "How would I know?"
"Well," Harry said, a bit confused, "you said you were dating him."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"No," Ginny insisted, "I am really sure I didn't, since I'm not."
frowned. He was a bit annoyed, actually. He had expected her to be
honest with him. "On the train when you told us why you ditched Michael
Corner you said you were dating Dean."
Ginny suddenly blushed
crimson. "I didn't say I was dating him." There was a long pause as she
stared at her shoes. "I said I've chosen him. And I have," here she
looked up at Harry and rolled her eyes. "I just haven't exactly
got around to telling him yet."
Harry didn't know what to say. "Oh."
rushed on, "I shouldn't have said anything. I usually try really hard
to keep these things to myself, you know, to avoid total abject
humiliation, but Ron just really pissed me off."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Abject humiliation?"
Ginny smiled at him then ducked her head. "Crushes can be so very embarrassing."
He couldn't leave it alone. "So you have a crush on Dean, then?"
"I guess. I don't know." Her voice went a little high. "Maybe? I think I need to test it out a bit to be sure."
first thought was wondering how exactly she would test it out, but then
he found himself needing to know, "So if you're not sure if you have a
crush on Dean, why would you choose him?"
"He's really sweet and nice, not to mention good-looking. And
honestly?" Harry nodded. "This might sound strange, but it kind of
seemed like he might like me."
This took Harry completely by
surprise. Not the idea that someone might like Ginny, she was likeable
enough, but rather, "How could you tell he liked you?" How was that
possible? He could never work out whether Cho liked him or not. Except
for the few moments her lips were actually kissing his, he was
completely lost. And even that certainty was immediately ruined when
she started crying a minute later.
Ginny stared at him in disbelief, and then snorted. "Oh please, Harry, you can always tell when someone likes you."
Harry remained dubious.
sighed. "It's in the way they look at you, like their day just got
suddenly better. Or some people get really shy all of a sudden. There
are a few guys at school who are real flirts - they look just as
oozingly thrilled to see any girl, so it would be hard with them - but
I didn't notice that about Dean."
Harry intentionally stressed the sarcastic tone when he answered, "You make it sound so easy."
looked thoughtful as she said, "I think it's harder when you like the
person. Maybe you see things that aren't really there because you want
to, but when you don't care it's usually obvious. Just like it's
painfully obvious if someone doesn't like you. They look sort of
apologetic, like they know how you feel and they're sorry. I think that
was the look I was giving Dean last year, only because I was with
someone, not because I didn't like him. Or worse, they always look
skittish when they see you, like they walked into a trap. Deer caught
in the headlights sort of thing." She darkened for a moment. "I really
hate that one."
Harry felt the awkwardness of the moment with
every fibre of his being. He was sure that the last comment was at
least partly directed at him. He wondered if he had ever looked trapped
with Ginny and for the first time wondered if he had hurt her. He
hadn't meant to, but her feelings toward him had just seemed so
strange, he hadn't known what to do. Suddenly he felt like he should
apologize. "I'm sorry if I ever looked like that. To you I mean."
Ginny shrugged. "It's old news, Harry." After a pause she grinned at him, "I guess we're both glad that's over with, huh?"
Without thinking Harry automatically responded with a positive, "Yeah."
Ginny's sharp look he started stammering, "I didn't mean it like that.
It's just, you never used to talk to me, and so I didn't know you. And
now you do, and you're really nice."
"Wow," Ginny smirked, "you keep talking like that and I might just fall in love with you all over again."
the split second before he realized she was joking Harry felt his face
begin to heat. Then, when he understood she was making fun, it grew
even hotter. He frowned in an attempt to hide his discomfort. Something
occurred to him then, though, that he hadn't recognized before. And it
was suddenly very important that he tell her. He needed to make her
understand so that she wouldn't drift away and stop talking again. "I
really like having you as a friend, Ginny."
She smiled warmly at him. "Me too."
the moment was nice, Harry felt very awkward all of a sudden. He needed
a distraction and found he couldn't resist teasing her just a bit more.
"Besides, Virginia, I may have been the one who looked trapped, but it
was always you who actually ran away."
Ginny stared at him wide-eyed for a few seconds before she groaned, "Was I really terrible?"
And when he honestly thought about it, she hadn't been. He couldn't
even recall a single time she had followed him anywhere, not like those
girls used to follow Krum everywhere he went.
good to know, at least." A moment passed and then Ginny put her book
down and said very seriously, "Look, Harry, about Dean, please don't
say anything to him. I want to take care of this myself, without any
"Alright." Then curiosity got the better of him. "How are you going to let him know?"
A decidedly dangerous grin lit upon Ginny's face. "Oh, don't you worry, I have my plans."
occurred to Harry that he wouldn't be surprised if Ginny started
rubbing her hands together and chuckling with fiendish glee. "Should I
be worried about him?"
himself wondering what it might be like to be pursued by Ginny Weasley.
He supposed he should already know, but he didn't think that was really
true. It seemed that now it would be different. Now it would be much,