Disclaimer: Everything belongs to the good, the great, the wise, J.K. Rowling.
A/N: Thanks to Alcarcalime for the beta.
remained within the confines of the Burrow's garden over the next few
weeks. He spent most of his days playing two-a-side Quidditch in the
Weasleys' orchard (he and Hermione against Ron and Ginny; Hermione was
dreadful and Ginny good, so they were reasonably well matched) and his
evenings eating triple helpings of everything Mrs. Weasley put in front
- page 105 of the Half-Blood Prince, U.S. edition.
Ginny looked up from her writing to find Harry poking his head through
her bedroom door. She was trying to catch up on her Potions homework.
Only Snape would assign a three-foot essay during summer on the
properties of Ashwinder eggs. "What's up, Harry?"
"Do you want
to play some Quidditch with us?" Harry asked, coming inside the room
and flopping down on her bed. He took a look at her homework and
"Who's us? Just you and Ron?" she put down her quill and raised her arms above her head, stretching like a cat. "Where is my prat of a brother?"
"He's downstairs trying to convince Hermione to join us."
"Hermione? She couldn't play Quidditch even if her life depended on it."
yeah, but Ron reckons that she's as bored as we are, so maybe she'll
actually agree to a game." Harry grinned. "He says that he's got ways
of making her say yes."
Ginny laughed and stood up from her desk. "I bet he has."
"So, you wanna play?"
"Yep. Just let me tie my hair. If I don't, it'll be all over my face and I won't be able to see anything."
"Okay. See you in a bit." Harry bounced up from the bed and clattered down the stairs.
grabbed a clip and quickly bound her long, red hair, already excited at
the thought of a break from her schoolwork. Although she didn't like
it, she had got used to being confined at the Burrow that summer after
their adventure at the Department of Mysteries. Her parents had
mollycoddled her even more than they usually did and though she
understood why they felt that way, she wished that they let up even
just a little bit. She hated being treated like a three-year-old.
restricted to the family home did have some benefits however, first of
which was the fact that she now spent most of her free time with Ron,
Hermione, and, of course, Harry. Ever since that battle with the Death
Eaters, the trio had started treating her almost as an equal and not
just as Ron's baby sister who also happened to go the same school as
She was especially glad that she could finally talk to
Harry without blushing or dropping various pieces of crockery. She
marveled at how easily she and Harry had become good friends, just
because she had decided to finally give up her schoolgirl obsession.
Not that she had stopped thinking that he was still the best-looking
boy on the planet, but she generally didn't let that minor
distraction (and the occasional butterflies in her stomach whenever he
smiled at her) get in the way of her new-found friendship with Harry.
four of them had fallen into a rather lazy schedule of meals eaten by
the pond or out in the garden, games of Exploding Snap by the
fireplace, chores whenever Mrs. Weasley felt that they were being too
idle, and pranks played on each other or any unfortunate member of the
Weasley family who happened to be at the Burrow.
entered the kitchen, she saw her brother and Harry trying to
smooth-talk Hermione into joining the game. The brown-haired witch was
frowning and clutching a book to her chest. Ginny could see the title: Muggles Who Loved Wizards Too Much: Tales of Unrequited Passions. She smiled at her friend's choice of summer reading material.
come on Hermione," Ron pleaded. "We can't play a decent game with just
the three of us. What would be the point? Harry and I would just thrash
"Really! I can outscore you and Harry with my hands tied behind my back, Ron," Ginny sniffed disdainfully.
"Hey! I resent that statement." Harry pretended to scowl at her.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Ron waved his hand in the air. "Please, Hermione?"
know I don't even understand Quidditch, Ron, and I certainly can't fly
that well. How can we play when there are only four of us anyway?"
Hermione said, shaking her head. "Besides," she added, "I want to
finish my book today."
"We'll be playing the two-a-side
variation of the game. Come on, all you do is read! Don't you want to
have some fun for a change? What are you reading anyway?" Ron tried to
grab the book, but Hermione quickly put it behind her.
Harry and Ginny shared an amused glance. Apparently he, too, had managed to see the title of the Hermione's book.
Just a bit of light reading." Hermione hastily stuffed the book into a
kitchen drawer and stood up. "Okay, but don't blame me if I make a mess
of things, Ron."
"Excellent! Let's go before Mum catches us and
decides that we need to degnome the garden. Harry? Ginny? You two
coming?" Ron bounded out of the door without waiting for an answer.
* * *
was decided that in the interest of fairness, Ron and Ginny would play
against Hermione and Harry. Ron quickly ran through the rules (scoring
only with the Quaffle, no Bludgers or Snitch involved) and ignored
Hermione's numerous questions regarding other technical details.
Ron's old Shooting Star, Ginny kicked off the ground at the same time
that Harry ascended into the air on his Firebolt. They waited as Ron
helped a very nervous Hermione onto one of the twins' old brooms. She
flew rather shakily into position on one end of the orchard, while Ron
zoomed to the opposite end.
A thrill of pleasure ran through
Ginny as she flew around the garden. Flying always did that to her.
From the look of delight on Harry's face, she knew that he felt the
same way. Unfortunately for Ginny, Harry had first possession of the
old, beat up Quaffle Charlie had nicked from Hogwarts in his third
year. Ginny slammed into him, grinning evilly as she snatched the
Quaffle and sped away towards a startled Hermione.
"Hey! Come back here with that!" Harry yelled and pelted after her, pushing his Firebolt to go faster.
though her broom couldn't compete with the newer model, Ginny managed
to execute a series of dives and rolls to evade Harry. "You'll never
catch me, slowpoke!" she hollered at him.
"We'll see about that, Weasley!" Harry shook his fist at her in mock outrage.
Ron's shouts of "Go, Ginny, Go!" and Hermione's wails of "Stop her,
Harry!" she and Harry raced each other in the humid evening air, both
of them flushed with excitement.
As she approached Hermione
(who was frantically trying to stay airborne to block the shot), Harry
suddenly leaned forward and caught the end of her broom, bringing her
to an abrupt halt. Ginny slipped off her broomstick, catching hold of
the handle with one hand just in time. She managed to hang on to the
ball under her other arm.
"GINNY!" Harry rushed to grab
her around the waist and pulled her onto his Firebolt. "I'm sorry! I'm
sorry! Are you okay?" He looked at her worriedly.
She glared and
opened her mouth to yell at him, but all coherent thought rapidly left
her head when she realized that his face was only inches from her own.
They were so close that she could see the amber flecks in his green
eyes. Oh Merlin, his eyes are beautiful, she thought dazedly.
She became acutely aware that his arms were still around her waist, and
that particular part of her anatomy seemed to be on fire for some
reason. She continued to stare into his eyes as they descended with a
soft thump on the ground. Her broomstick drifted gently back to earth.
Ron and Hermione landed beside them, both looking concerned.
Are you all right?" Hermione's voice cut through her trance. "Harry!
Honestly, what on earth were you thinking, pulling a stunt like that?"
"Huh?" Ginny tore her gaze away from Harry and turned to the other girl. "Oh! Yeah. I'm okay."
say she's more than okay." Ron sniggered, taking note of her rather
pink face and the fact that Harry was still holding her very close to
Ginny stepped away from Harry as nonchalantly as possible
and ignored Ron's comment. She turned to a contrite-looking Harry and
snapped at him. "That was a dirty trick, Potter!"
Harry hung his head and said, "I know, Ginny. I'm sorry."
bad I didn't get to do it to you first!" She threw the Quaffle at his
chest, causing him to stagger backwards, and she ran away, cackling
"Why you little—! Just wait until I catch you!" Harry roared and tore after her.
shook his head bemusedly as he and Hermione watched Harry chase his
sister all around the garden, Hermione with a rather knowing smile on
* * *
finally caught up with Ginny near the pond. He tackled her to the
ground and they lay there on their backs, laughing and gasping for air.
"Cheat." Harry said when he had got his breath back.
"Prat." Ginny reached out with her foot and kicked him on the ankle.
"Ouch! That hurt!" He sat up to rub his foot.
"Serves you right for almost killing me." She smirked cheekily at him.
said I was sorry, didn't I?" He stood up and held out his hand to help
her to her feet. "Besides, I did save you right after I almost killed
"Oh, all right. I forgive you. Only because I would have
pulled the same stunt if I were given the chance." She crossed her eyes
and stuck her tongue out at him. He growled and threatened to throw her
in the pond.
After she had fixed her hair back into its
ponytail (it had become unfastened when Harry had tackled her), they
started walking back to the house. The air was warm and humid with an
earthy smell to it that hinted of rain.
"I wonder where Ron and Hermione have gone off to," Harry said conversationally.
my brother finally plucked up the courage and proclaimed his undying
love for Hermione. Maybe they're in the broom shed - snogging," she
"Ugh. We can only hope that we will be spared from that truly disturbing sight," he said, throwing his head back in laughter.
other two teenagers did seem to have disappeared. As they neared their
fallen broomsticks, Ginny stooped to pick up the Shooting Star.
"Merlin, it's humid out here." She pushed some red strands of hair off
her sweaty brow. "Perhaps you should have thrown me into the pond after
Harry grimaced and pulled at his top, which was glued to
his body. "I know. This shirt's on me like a Permanent Sticking Charm.
Here, hold this." He removed his glasses, gave them to her, and started
taking off his shirt.
Ginny froze at the sight of Harry's bare
torso. Although he was still skinny, Harry's muscles seemed to be
developing rather nicely. Apparently Quidditch had done him a lot of
good last year, even after Umbridge had banned him from playing.
Oh. My. God. She swallowed convulsively as her eyes wandered involuntarily over his chest. Harry Potter. SHIRTLESS. In front of me. ACK !
heart was thumping so loudly it was a wonder that nobody had come out
of the house to ask what was making such a racket. She closed her eyes
to pray for strength to fight the sudden urge to drool. She caught a
whiff of soap, sweat, and something that reminded her of the woody
smell of a broomstick handle.
When she opened her eyes again,
she saw Harry use his shirt to dab the perspiration off his chest. His
arms flexed as he reached over his shoulder to wipe his back. Alarm
bells started going off in her head as she started to feel weak in the
knees. Wild thoughts screamed through her brain.
What's wrong? You look a little peaked." Harry had taken his glasses
from her limp hand and was looking at her in concern. His shirt was now
slung over his shoulder.
Ginny flushed, averting her gaze once
again from Harry's body. "Oh! Erm…it's just…really…um…really…hot! It's
really hot out here!" She fanned herself with her free hand, clutching
her broom for support.
She glanced up to see Harry still peering at her anxiously.
she said brightly, praying that she wouldn't blush any more than she
already had. "I'll just go and put my broom in the broom chest, I mean,
shed! I meant to say broom shed." She pointed vaguely in
the general direction of the said structure, hoping he hadn't noticed
her slip of the tongue. She whirled around and almost ran away from
him, leaving a puzzled Harry to make his way back to the house.
Great going, Ginevra. You couldn't have sounded more like an idiot if you tried. You acted like you were in first year again!
She scolded herself as she splashed water from the pump near the shed
onto her heated face. Still, what was a poor innocent girl to do when
faced with such temptation?
Trying rather unsuccessfully not
to linger on the memory of a half-naked Harry Potter, she made her way
into the kitchen, where she found Ron eating an enormous ham and cheese
sandwich. Hermione was reading her book, hiding the title with her left
hand and making disgusted noises whenever Ron's chewing became a little
too loud. Thankful that the object of her overheated imagination seemed
to be elsewhere, she said goodnight to the two of them and headed up to
She met a freshly showered and now fully clothed Harry
coming down the stairs. "Turning in?" he asked. He gave her a lopsided
grin that made the butterfly population in her stomach multiply
exponentially. "Well, good night, Ginny. Pleasant dreams."
too, Harry. See you tomorrow." She beamed at him and gave a small wave.
She could feel him watching her as she continued up the stairs, and
willed herself not to run, amazed at her self-control. Once she got to
the safety of her room, she did a little happy dance while giggling
She threw herself onto her bed, thinking, You don't know just how pleasant my dreams are going to be tonight, Harry James Potter.
She smiled up at the ceiling, fantasies of a shirtless Harry with
beautiful green eyes looking at her in adoration already playing in her
head. You have absolutely no idea.