“Why did this have to happen today, of all days?” he asked miserably. He pounded on the bottom of the bottle of Sleekeasy’s three times, willing the last drop clinging to the inside of the green glass flask to drop into his eager hand, but alas, no luck. “I’m doomed,” he grumbled, smoothing his hands over, and over his hair with no productive result.
“If it’s meant to be she’ll love you anyway,” the mirror replied hopefully.
He was smart enough to know it wasn’t his hair that would keep Ginny from loving him, but it just might be the fact that he didn’t get Ginny a Valentine’s Day present. It wasn’t that he forgot, or that she didn’t deserve it; no, on the contrary, she deserved it more than anyone Harry knew.
She had watched him walk away from her at Dumbledore’s funeral without questions, and without shedding a tear. She watched him arrive at the Burrow for Bill and Fleur’s wedding and depart with Ron and Hermione to search for Horcruxes. She’d done it all without harsh words or dirty looks.
And when he pleaded and told her everything he’d done since leaving her in June, she took him back with poise and rejected the apologies he offered (she’d said she would wait forever, and that she knew the importance of the mission he was on.) It certainly wasn’t that he didn’t care. Harry simply hadn’t any time to buy Ginny a proper Valentine’s Day gift; was that a horrible excuse?
Harry, Ron, and Hermione had only returned to Hogwarts the evening before, in need of rest, assistance, and a good library. He hadn’t seen Ginny since Christmas, and was down to finding one last part of Voldemort’s evil soul: the locket. He’d known, of course, that Valentine’s Day was approaching, but the occasional injuries of order members, the continuous traipsing across England’s soil, and the fact that his and Ginny’s reunion had only taken place six weeks prior all weighed on Harry’s mind. Upon his return to Hogwarts last night, he’d been immediately summoned into McGonagall’s office for a conference, and, after a lengthy discussion was told he could join the other students in Hogsmeade for the day.
That brought Harry to this moment (his very first Valentine’s Day with Ginny,) standing in front of the mirror with inherited untidy hair, and no gift for the girl he loved more than anyone.
With a defeated sigh Harry left the dorm and descended the stairs toward the common room. He was greeted by familiar faces as he glanced around the cosy room drinking in its warm comfort. He stood with his hands in his pockets, staring into the glowing red coals of the fireplace when he suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder. He spun around quickly, eager to greet Ginny but was immediately met with two warm, soft, pink lips pressed to his own.
She snaked her fingers into his hair, ruffling it up as she smiled against his lips. “Happy Valentine’s Day! When did you get here?” she asked excitedly, breaking the kiss, and tossing her long fiery-red hair over her shoulder.
“Thanks, you too,” Harry said as a faint pink hue crept up into his cheeks. “Erm, late last night. Ron and Hermione have gone downstairs already. Let’s talk on the way to Hogsmeade.”
They fell in step with one another and their hands instinctively grasped on another’s as they traversed the familiar corridors and made their way down to the Great Hall. The beast that lived inside him had evidently been slain, or maimed because he certainly felt none of the courage it had given him last year.
Ron and Hermione were surrounded by a gaggle of students who were all talking at once and firing off questions in rapid succession:
“Where have you been?”
“Were you helping Harry Potter?”
“Are you looking for You Know Who?”
Harry was thrilled to be back at Hogwarts, but today was Ginny’s day and he wanted to do everything he could to make it a nice day, one she deserved. It had been six long weeks since he’d seen her and he didn’t want to waste any more time than he already had.
As they approached the crowd, a loud outburst rang through the halls.
He smiled. “It’s nice to see you all. I expect we’ll catch up after dinner, right?” He then directed his attention to Hermione and Ron. “Ready to go into the village?”
“Oh, yes, I’d almost forgotten it was a Hogsmeade weekend,” Hermione replied, handing Harry a stack of toast wrapped in a serviette.
Everyone stared expectantly at Harry, hoping he would answer all their questions as he took the bundle from Hermione. “Er, well I guess we’ll see you in the village, or at dinner then. Bye.”
Harry looked over at Ginny who was forcing herself to hold in a grin as they munched on toast and queued up in the line of students going to Hogsmeade that Valentine’s Day.
After being checked off the list by Filch, who gasped at seeing Harry, he regretfully let Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione leave the castle and make their way down onto the snowy lawns, gently slanting toward the gates.
As Harry breathed in the cool, crisp air and felt Ginny’s mittened hand in his own, his mind drifted back to the night Dumbledore died. He remembered running down this gently sloping hill chasing after Snape and Malfoy, sure in thought and full of determination. It seemed so long ago now. Harry didn’t appear to notice any of the other students walking around them bewitching snowballs, but felt the gentle tug of Ginny’s hand.
“Look up there, someone’s waiting for you,” Ginny said, smiling at Harry and elbowing him in the side.
Harry looked up toward the gates and immediately noticed the shocking pink hair of Nymphadora Tonks, who was leaning against one of the tall pillars on either side of the opened gates to the grounds. Her hands were twined with Remus Lupin’s, and both of them wore silly smiles on their faces as they gazed at one another. Harry could hardly keep from grinning at the clearly preoccupied couple as the quartet approached, and finally stopped short before the gates, staring openly at their former professor and his- girlfriend?
“Ahem,” Harry started, raising his free hand to his mouth, half coughing into it, half using it to hide his laughter. He watched as Lupin instantly dropped Tonks’ hand and blushed profusely. Tonks, on the other hand, merely bit her lip, trying with a certain degree of difficulty to restrain her cheeky grin.
“Wotcher! We’re on duty today.” Tonks replied, turning to greet everyone.
“Tonks, you’re going to have a difficult time guarding Harry if you can’t tear your eyes off Professor Lupin,” Ginny teased, smiling at Tonks.
“Hey now!” Tonks replied, placing her hands on her hips as Remus continued to blush and nudge the slush with the toe of his boot. “Hush up you, I notice both of you girls are with good looking men too, so meh!” she finished, sticking out her tongue at Ginny and Hermione. She looped her arms through the girls’ and set off walking a brisk pace.
Remus could only shake his head as Harry and Ron continued to hold back their laughter. He fell into step beside them and sighed.
“I was wondering when you were going to let that out. You looked like a balloon ready to pop,” Harry said, stepping through the gates and off Hogwarts grounds.
“You’re just like your father, have I ever told you that?” Lupin asked, finally daring to look at Harry.
The banter lightened his mood, despite the ominous feeling that Ginny might be upset with him when the day was over. “Yes, once or twice,” came the reply.
They walked through the snowy village, noticing the cheery red hearts and cupids decorating the facades of the buildings. Harry didn’t realize just how much he’d missed visiting the little village and its thatched roofed cottages. It looked slightly more cheerful than it did the last time he was here, and that much pleased Harry. He liked the thought of life going on despite the war against Voldemort. The girls giggled up ahead of them, startling Harry from his thoughts, and Ginny kept casting quick glances over her shoulder with a flirtatious smile.
That gorgeous grin that made Harry swim with guilt. Here Ginny was, expecting a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and he had nothing, nothing, planned. It was too late to throw something together all higgledy-piggledy, or worse yet, send Ron to buy Ginny something. He knew that Remus and Tonks may give them some privacy, but certainly wouldn’t leave him and Ginny truly alone. The worst scenario he could think of involved taking Ginny anywhere she wanted and buying her something; he certainly did not want Ginny to think that he was out to buy her love and affection.
Harry sighed loudly, causing both Ron and Remus to turn and look at him.
“Something wrong, Harry?” Lupin asked, the concern evident on his face.
One understanding he and Ron had come to regarding girls was that they were not to discuss their relationship with Ginny, or Hermione. It was just too weird. Lupin might have had great advice, after all, Tonks looked quite happy, but it wasn’t really the time to ask questions.
“Oi! Cheer up, Harry, we’re going to The Three Broomsticks. Think of how long it’s been since we’ve had Butterbeers!” Ron said excitedly.
Harry tried to smile, but somehow Butterbeers probably wasn’t going to endear him to Ginny at all.
Harry stood at the bar, tapping his fingers on the bar top, and ordering a round of Butterbeers for everyone. The pub was decorated for Valentine’s Day, although it wasn’t as garish as Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop had been on the only occasion he visited. He had somehow managed to convince Lupin and Tonks that they could sit alone without causing any trouble. Hermione had snagged Ron by the sleeve and was currently catching up on all the Hogwarts’ news by visiting with everyone in the pub. Ron looked as miserable as Harry felt, and that gave him some limited comfort. He doled out the Butterbeers he bought from Rosmerta and flopped down in a secluded booth across from Ginny.
“I’ve missed you so much!” she began, stretching her hand out across the table and grasping Harry’s. “I’ve just missed seeing you, talking to you- Owls just aren’t enough. Tell me everything I’ve missed while you were away. Spare no detail. I want all the news, and updates, and progress, and I want to know how you’re holding up.”
Surely this was some cruel twist of fate. Ginny was so kind, and warm, and welcoming, and she genuinely missed him and he was about to be the biggest berk she’d ever met. For a fleeting moment, his mind reverted back to his horrendous Valentine’s Day with Cho Chang at Madame Puddifoot’s. Evidently he wasn’t cut out for this holiday. Ginny deserved better than this; better than him.
Ginny brow furrowed in concern as she wiggled Harry’s hand to capture his attention. “Harry, is everything all right?”
Harry’s eyes darted around the pub as if he wanted to remember every detail before the crushing blow came- before Ginny stormed out in anger. Rosmerta was busy placing a paper umbrella into someone’s drink, Hermione was chatting away to some girl Harry recognised from her Ancient Runes class, Ron appeared to be dozing against Hermione’s shoulder, and Remus and Tonks looked like something out of a Muggle movie; she was grinning broadly and leaning across the table staring into Remus’ eyes, while the former professor was smirking as if he knew something the entire pub couldn’t contemplate. Harry mistakenly assumed, due to their amorous stare, that the duo wasn’t paying him any mind, but as soon as he silently cast a Muffliato spell to grant him and Ginny a little privacy, both the Auror and his former Professor turned around in their seat to watch Harry.
He gave them a ‘thumbs up’ as Ginny spoke up once again.
“Harry, are you sure everything is all right? Is there bad news?”
He sighed and squeezed her hands lightly. “I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day,” he said quickly, hoping to spare himself some grief by uttering the phrase all in one breath.
“Oh,” Ginny said flatly, her brown eyes dropping to their conjoined hands.
“I’m sorry,” Harry began instantly. “It wasn’t that I forgot, or anything. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend, and seeing you for a long time. We’ve been so busy lately, and I think I’m really getting close, Ginny, I mean I actually have hope.”
Ginny’s face warmed into a genuine smile. “That’s wonderful, Harry. I have every faith in you, you already know that.”
He interrupted her train of thought. “Ginny, I know you do, and believe me that’s gotten me through the hardest nights I’ve spent away from Hogwarts, but that’s no excuse for failing to get you a Valentine’s Day gift; you deserve better. I thought of a million gifts I could get you if I only got back in time.”
She shook her head causing her red locks to catch the glowing candlelight from the wall sconce. “I don’t need gifts, Harry. You’ve already done so many things for me. Hey, I’ve never had a boyfriend who tried to save the world,” she offered, trying to lighten the mood.
The emotion sank in Harry’s stomach like one of Hagrid’s rock cakes. What if he failed? What if Voldemort defeated him? What would happen to Ginny? Would she ever known precisely what she meant to him?
“It’s OK,” she began, threading her fingers through his where they met in an embrace in the middle of the table. “Really. You’re here; that’s the most important thing to me. I don’t need lots of silly chocolates, or singing Valentine’s,” she said, laughing and shaking her head with embarrassment at the mention of the card she sent Harry her first year, “this is the best Valentine’s Day I could-”
“I love you.” Harry blurted out, as a big grin erupted on his face and his eyes met hers in a fierce stare.
“-imagine,” Ginny mumbled, finishing her sentence. She swallowed, seemingly with difficulty, and broke their eye contact. “It’s all right, Harry, honestly. You, er, don’t need to say, you know, say that.”
“Well, what if I mean that? he asked indignantly, holding onto her hands a little tighter.
“Do you?” she questioned softly, cautiously meeting his eyes once again.
“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t. I mean it, I love you, Ginny.” Harry had the suspicion he was now wearing the same expression Lupin was wearing, because he did know something that the entire pub didn’t. He loved Ginny Weasley.
Ginny’s brown eyes suddenly had tears welling up inside them; tears that spilled out and down her cheeks. “Ginny! What’s wrong? I’m serious, I do love you, I mean it’s OK if you don’t love me back, but I really wanted you to know exactly how I felt, and-”
“Shut up, Harry Potter,” she began, letting go of Harry’s hand and wiping the tears off her cheeks with her fingertips. She suddenly smiled and let out a little giggle. “I love you, too.”
Suddenly the dormant beast was back inside Harry’s chest, roaring with pride and triumph. “You do?” he asked, rising from his seat and moving around the other side of the table to sit with Ginny.
“Of course I do, you prat.” Ginny replied, playfully slapping his arm. “I’ve known it since the day I met you at Kings Cross. Why else do you think I ran after the train, crying and acting like a ninny?”
Harry slipped his arm around her and pulled her close so that their sides were now touching. There was a feeling inside him like nothing, (or was it everything?) he had ever experienced all at once. It didn’t matter that they were in the middle of The Three Broomsticks, or that everyone was probably staring- Ginny loved him.
“I didn’t think you were a ninny,” he replied sheepishly, blushing slightly as he pressed a kiss to her temple. “It’s a wonderful memory.”
Ginny sighed with contentment and burrowed closer to Harry’s chest. “See, I told you this was the best Valentine’s Day I could imagine. And I even got you something.”
“You did?” Harry asked in disbelief, “What is it?”
“Oh, just some silly chocolates and a singing Valentine,” Ginny replied, tilting her head to look up at Harry’s face.
“Hmm,” Harry began, pressing a soft kiss to her lips. “Singing Valentines? How did you know, Miss Weasley, that those are my favourite kind?”