Ginny Weasley was in a very good mood indeed. If not for the darkness, her roommates could have seen her grinning at the canopy of her four poster bed.
She had been in a rather good mood for quite some time now. Ever since breaking up with Dean to be honest. She had known about her own feelings since MacLaggen had knocked Harry off his broom, and Dean had suspected it. Since that time, Dean had made enormous efforts. He had acted the perfect gentleman; he had always been there; he had always helped her … to an extent that infuriated her. He had insisted on carrying her books, he had even helped her through the portrait hole, as if she had not been able to climb through herself. He had tried to make himself irreplaceable, but had only succeeded in making himself insufferable.
After their final row, she had felt rid of a great burden and she had acted accordingly. She had suspected that Harry liked her. She had not believed it after the many little incidents over the course of the last year; she had always put the worst interpretation possible on his actions, because it was so easy to be hurt by him. But after the break between Dean and herself, Harry’s concealed interest in her had become increasingly apparent.
At first, she had tried to ignore it – she had tried not to get her hopes up – but after some time and some good and proper teasing from Colin as well as others, she had started to think it might be true. And nothing had been more convincing than the knowing smile she had seen on Hermione’s face on different occasions.
Ginny turned in her bed and punched her pillow into a new shape.
She had started to believe it and she had paid close attention to what Harry had been doing when she had been around. Years of Harry-watching had made her an expert in seeming unaware of his existence, while eagle-eyeing his every move. And it had turned out to be true. He had been following her with his sparkling green eyes, he had laughed at her jokes, trying to seem innocently amused and he had certainly fooled Ron, but he had not fooled Hermione, nor Romilda Vane. The little … fourth year had been giving Ginny death glares lately.
Ginny allowed herself the luxury of a feral grin that would have made Romilda’s bowels freeze, if she had been able to see it.
However, fooling Ron had accounted for some considerable drawbacks. The king of cluelessness had not given them a private moment in weeks. Ginny had seen it in Harry’s eyes, she had felt it radiating off his body that he wanted to talk to her, but … he had seemed strangely reluctant to say anything out loud, and added to that was the lack of opportunity. Ron, newly free from Lavender’s tentacles, had seemed dedicated to investing his entire spare time to talking Quidditch with Harry. He had been absolutely oblivious to any signs that he might be intruding.
And then, just days before the decisive match, Harry had gone and almost killed Malfoy. The event in itself could have been a joyous one, if Harry had not received detention on the day of the game by Snape, who, of course, had known exactly what he was doing to Harry.
Harry’s face had almost been more than she was able to bear. Knowing that he had nearly killed a person was shocking in itself. The prospect of probably having ruined Gryffindor’s prospects for the Quidditch cup had made things worse, and Harry had certainly not been in need of Hermione’s nagging. Naturally, Ginny had taken his side, and for the first time in their friendship, she and Hermione had had a serious row.
They had made up not much later, though, and Hermione had confirmed Ginny’s impression that Harry’s mood had seemed to be lightened by her siding with him. The realisation that making Harry feel better was important enough to make her fight with Hermione had been another revelation for Ginny concerning her own feelings for Harry, and she had revelled in the knowledge to have been successful. And it had reminded her how she had always taken his side without thinking twice about it: after all, her first words in front of Harry had been spoken to defend him against Malfoy at Flourish and Blotts all those years ago.
But Ginny had not been able to be certain about his feelings. She had needed to know, and the Quidditch match had been the perfect opportunity. She still remembered very lively how Harry’s short hug after their victory against Slytherin earlier that year had made her believe the worst things possible. She had wanted to hug him again today and she had wanted to know what the hug would feel like. Would it be short and embarrassed or would he give her a full hug this time? Would he possibly prolong the hug and thus give her the barest of hints that he would like more than just a hug? Or would he even turn a hug into an embrace?
Reality had surpassed her little typology of hugs – dramatically.
The day had begun with Harry in an obvious state of highest nervousness. He had always been prone to nerves; Ginny knew that. For years she had seen him push around his breakfast before Quidditch matches. He had always had Slytherin taunts to get through, but this time it had been worsened by the fact that Harry would not be part of the team. Everybody had known, of course, and even the Gryffindors had given him a hard time about it.
The match itself had passed in a blur. Cho Chang had been reluctant to lose another Quidditch cup to Ginny, but she had lost it anyway. The Gryffindor team had been determined to show that Harry’s relentless training had paid off, and they beat the stuffing out of the Ravenclaws. And when they had been in the lead with 160 points, Ginny had caught the snitch – just like that.
Since that moment, Ginny had been waiting, waiting for Harry. She had almost blown the impromptu celebrations on the pitch with her impatience, but he had not come.
She had hurried up to the castle, hoping against hope that Snape had let Harry off by then. But he had not come, yet. Instead, the rest of the Gryffindors had filed in, wanting to celebrate.
Ron had hovered near Hermione, obviously unable to let go of either her company or the Quidditch cup.
Dean Thomas had been lurking in the background, a glass tight in his hand, consuming large quantities of liquid.
Romilda Vane had been watching the portrait hole almost as eagerly as Ginny herself. She had nervously wrung her hands; Ginny’s insides had churned at the possibility of Romilda’s getting to Harry first.
Ginny had started to move the moment that Harry had entered the common room. She had not been the first to reach him, but she was far ahead of Romilda Vane. After all, Ginny’s mind had been made up for a quite a while, and anything's possible if you've got enough nerve. She had wanted to know how Harry felt about her, and she had left him no choice.
He had opened the portrait hole, anxiously peering in, and people had pulled him through in an enthusiastic uproar. Ron had been brandishing the cup at Harry and had yelled the game’s result at him, but Harry’s eyes had kept searching the crowd in front of him … and they had locked on her.
Ginny had moved in on him, throwing her arms around his neck, just wanting him to do the same, willing him to hug her back … and he did! But before she had been able to enjoy it or even think about it, he had kissed her.
It still felt unreal. Without regard to the fact that the whole of Gryffindor tower had been watching them, Harry had firmly put his arms around her and he had kissed her. Several people – basically girls with the exception of Colin Creevy, whom she would have believed to be gay, if she had not known how nosy he was about everything that concerned Harry – had asked her later in the evening what it had felt like, but she was still at a loss how to describe the sensation. The only way she felt she could do justice to the moment was to say that she was not sure whether it had been a moment – or half an hour – or possibly several sunlit days – before they had broken apart.
Harry’s eyes had started scanning the room again, and following his gaze, Ginny had almost grown angry. Dean had broken his glass and Romilda Vane looked murderous, but Harry had been searching for Ron, looking for Ron’s approval, and she would be damned if she needed that. But it had only been then that she had understood Harry’s reluctance to say anything to her over the last few weeks. From Harry’s experience with Ron’s reactions to her boyfriends, namely the row after she and Dean had been caught snogging, Harry must have had felt that talking to her would be choosing between her and Ron. And she had not wanted him to make a choice like that
After Ron’s “permission”, Harry’s attention had refocused on her immediately, and he had opened the portrait hole for her with a lopsided smile, indicating that they had a lot to talk about – if there was time.
She still had no clear recollection of how they had made it down to the castle grounds. She did remember that their hands had clasped the moment they had passed through the portrait hole. She did remember the excited little “oh” from the fat Lady and she did remember how a rustling rumour had preceded them on their long winding way down the stairs. She suddenly had understood how gossip always travelled so easily through the entire castle within an impossibly short time; no wonder, with hundreds and hundreds of whispering portraits along the walls, the inhabitants of which were often able to pass from picture to picture as easily as the ghosts could pass through walls.
Ginny had looked at every turn they had taken, every piece of armour, every portrait, every stained window, every pillar and every vault they had passed, and she had imagined herself taking the same route over the last years, sometimes alone, often with friends, at times with boyfriends – but seldom with the one boy she really wanted to have with her and never … never like this.
Her life had changed with that moment they had kissed. Their lives had changed – one way or the other, but certainly for good.
The doors of the castle had been flung wide and they had passed from the shadow of the Entrance hall into the glorious sunlight outside, and she had felt that it had to be a good omen.
They had walked all the way down to the lake, before Harry had turned towards her. More kisses had followed the first one, and she had managed to squeeze a story out of Harry by rewarding him with kisses for his honesty. He had told her about his annoyance when she had left him on the Hogwarts Express.
He had told her about his first Potions lesson with Slughorn and how he had found out that Amortentia smelled like Ginny for him.
He had told her everything about the beast in his chest that had come forth, when seeing her and Dean, and how he had done his best to ignore his wish to kick Dean off the team.
He had confirmed that goosebumps had erupted on his neck – and not just there – when she had picked the maggot from his hair at Christmas.
And he verified her suspicions that he had feared to lose Ron’s friendship when making his feelings for her public. He had not planned to kiss her today, but obviously he had not been able to hold back any longer.
Lots of kisses.
And more kisses after Harry had been sweet enough to try apologising for needing Ron’s “permission”. She had told him that she understood how important his best friend was for him – although she could never understand why it was her brother of all people.
It had been the most enjoyable afternoon she had spent by the lake ever. She was happy.
She had been happy as a child of course. She had been special after all; the only girl in her family, in fact, the first girl in generations, and the youngest child too. She had easily commanded the attention of her parents and her older brothers.
All that had all changed with Hogwarts. Going to school had not turned out to be the adventure she had hoped for. It had been adventurous all right, but not happy. Her first year was still a chaos of darkness and guilt in her memory. She had not been very happy afterwards. Nobody had paid her much attention in her second year. Her third year had been one of constant worries for Harry’s sake mixed with the growing feeling that she would not be able to continue forever wanting him and getting nothing in return.
It was Hermione’s advice that made her reconsider what she was doing: go out, be yourself, be more relaxed. That’s what her fourth year had been all about. And, oh wonder, it had worked. Harry talked to her, treating her just like a normal person. Obviously, his former ignorance of her had little to do with his blaming her for having had to fight a Basilisk, but rather a lot with her not talking in his presence before.
She had openly been herself again, she had learned to forgive herself, even like herself a little, and it had made her attractive to others. She had only dated Michael and Dean, but not for lack of offers from others. And then it had turned out that Hermione’s advice had only partly worked: while being herself more than before, while going out with boys and enjoying it, Ginny had never managed to get rid of her feelings for Harry.
His attention to her had brought those feelings crushing down on her. While she had been confused at first, there had not been a doubt after Harry had nearly been killed at Quidditch. Her relationship with Dean had seemed hollow and meaningless afterwards, and now she understood that her criticism of Ron’s “technique” when kissing Lavender had, indeed, mirrored her own kissing.
All the snogging she had done over the last year or so had all been about technique. Today she had had her first kiss that had all been about love.
For the first time in years, she was truly happy. And they had not even talked about Quidditch yet.
(A/N: A big “Thank you” to the fearless who read this first: Wolf’s Scream, misslara and Jenadamson. Some parts come directly from JKR’s HBP. Please, look at my profile for a general disclaimer.)