With thanks to Dee and Rhiain, for their encouragement,
And Andrew, for his contribution.
"Alright there, Harry?"
Harry was still unloading his trunk, having just arrived back at Order headquarters. His stay at the Dursley's had been blessedly short this time, but they had treated him a bit better, thanks in no small part to the very real possibility that he would not have to return. Harry had been very quiet since arriving, keeping his small talk short when he arrived and then making a beeline to his room.
Harry turned to see Ron standing in the doorway. "As good as can be expected, I guess," he replied.
Ron crossed his arms and leaned against the door opening. "I'm really glad you're finally here. Hermione is driving me bonkers! She and Ginny spend most of their time together, and I don't think an hour goes by where they don't giggle behind my back. They won't let me in on anything, of course."
"Giggling?" Harry asked, puzzled. "Aren't they a bit old for that sort of thing?"
Ron shrugged. "Apparently not. It's annoying, really. Reminds me of when you first came to visit back before second year. I've never understood it."
There was a slightly uncomfortable silence as Harry continued to sort out his things. Harry had a lot on his mind and wasn't ready to talk about it yet. He didn't want to be rude, but he needed some time to think things through, now that he was away from the Dursleys.
"Well, mate, we'll catch up when you're all settled, ok?" Harry nodded to Ron, who then turned and walked down the hall. Did Ron read his mood, or just give up on the conversation? Could it be that Ron was no longer as dense as Harry knew he could be?
Ron's comment about Hermione and Ginny had struck a chord, though. Ever since Hermione's comment about Ginny getting over him a year ago he had thought a lot about Ginny. To be honest, Harry would have to admit that ever since his episode with Cho he had thought something was missing. Now he had a lot missing. Harry forced Sirius out of his mind. It was Ginny he wanted to think about. But why?
As Harry finished unpacking and put the finishing touches on his nightstand, he heard a voice from downstairs call, "Alright you lot, come down to dinner before it gets cold!" Suddenly, realizing how hungry he was, Harry quickly made his way down to the table. Only Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Ron were in the kitchen when Harry arrived.
"There you are, dear. Sit down, Harry, and help yourself," Mrs. Weasley said as she made her way to the kitchen door. "You young ladies best get down here before we finish your dinner for you!" she yelled up the stairs, then turned and sat at the table.
The sound of running feet heralded the arrival of Ginny and Hermione, who seemed to finish a conversation as they turned into the kitchen. They sat next to each other at the table, across from Ron and Harry. As they filled their plates with food they looked across the table, looked at each other, and tried hard to suppress more giggling. Ron just shook his head and continued eating; he had suffered this nightly and had resigned himself to ignore it. Seeing this Harry decided not to say anything. He had other things on his mind anyway.
"Awfully quiet today, Harry. You feeling ok?" said Mr. Weasley, very father-like.
"Yes and no," Harry admitted. "A lot on my mind." Mr. Weasley nodded knowingly and didn't press.
Harry noticed as he ate that the giggling had stopped. He risked a quick glance over the table at the girls, who were now eating in silence. As he glanced at Ginny, she glanced at him and their eyes met for an instant. Harry quickly looked back down at his plate, took another bite, then, to his surprise, glanced back at Ginny again. She was blushing. Why was she blushing? Harry shrugged mentally and continued to eat.
In no time Harry had eaten his fill. Mrs. Weasley was a great cook, which was another reason Harry was always anxious to get away from the Dursleys. Harry stood to excuse himself. "That was delicious as always, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said. Mrs. Weasley smiled as Harry turned and walked out of the kitchen. Just before he started up the stairs he heard voices in the kitchen. Automatically, he stopped to listen.
"Do you think he'll be alright?" It was Ginny's voice.
"I think so, dear," Mrs Weasley replied. "After what happened last year, and the rough time he's had with the Ministry, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes him a while to recover. I don't doubt he'll be melancholy for a bit, but he'll come around. After all, he has all of us behind him. We're all here for him if he needs us."
There was a general murmuring of agreement, then the sounds of eating and dishes being washed. Harry continued up to his room. He was a bit worn out, so he decided to dress for bed and retire early.