That night Harry's dreams were odd. He kept dreaming he was walking by a lake, or flying on the back of a Hippogriff, or sitting on top of a tall building in the middle of London. Oddly enough each time he was with someone else, but he couldn't seem to make out whom. Each time he tried to turn and look at him (her?), the image would fade, and he would be somewhere else. Harry caught himself wishing the other person was Ginny. Finally he dreamed he was at a dance and he and Ron were standing by the punch table waiting for something, he couldn't remember what. Just then some music started playing. The other guests started moving towards the dance floor. As they walked away two figures stood together, giggling and looking at them from nearby. Harry recognized them as Ginny and Hermione. Hermione was wearing the dress she wore during the ball in their 4th year. She was stunningly beautiful. As wonderful of an image as Hermione was Harry was drawn to the image of Ginny. This was not the Ginny he knew, he thought. She was taller than he remembered, and she had… well, a figure! She was pretty! Very pretty. Her dress straps went across her arms instead of over her shoulders, revealing her neck and upper body. It fit her well, and Harry caught himself staring at her dumbfounded. His attention was pulled away by Hermione, who had started walking towards Ron. Harry knew he was blushing but it was nothing compared to Ron, whose ears were actually redder than his hair. Hermione walked up to him, put her arms around him, and gave him a kiss right on his lips! Ron cautiously followed suit with his arms. After a brief second Hermione pulled back a little, gave Ron a hug, and started towards the dance floor with Ron in tow.
Harry turned to look back a Ginny, who was now right next to him. Their eyes locked. Harry gulped. Ginny's arms came up and locked behind Harry's back. Ginny was coming closer! She's going to…
A loud knock startled Harry awake.
Harry sat bolt upright, panting. "Yes!?"
"Breakfast will be ready very soon dear. You might want to freshen up." It was Mrs.
"Thanks!" Harry replied.
Harry was still reeling from his dream. He remembered every moment of the last scene. Was he going mad? Ron and Hermione? And Ginny? Where did that come from? Was Ginny really that pretty? Why hadn't he ever noticed before?
Harry thought about this as he showered and dressed for breakfast. He had never dreamed about girls before, not like this. He really wasn't surprised, but he was mildly embarrassed. Thank goodness his friends couldn't read his mind. Read his mind! Harry suddenly thought about what might happen if Voldemort ever found out he was having such dreams. He paused for a long moment. No, my scar isn't hurting, he thought.
Harry arrived at the table to find Ron, Hermione and Ginny already digging in. "Where's your mum?" he asked Ron.
"Mum went to Diagon Alley to pick up a few things. We'll have clean up after ourselves," Ron replied.
Harry nodded as he sat down. Almost as soon as he stared eating the giggling returned. To his horror Harry thought it sounded just like the giggling in his dream. He blushed, not quite knowing why.
Cautiously, he hazarded a glance at Ginny. Big mistake. Ginny was staring at him. He quickly switched to Hermione. She was staring at him too! He returned to his plate as quickly as he could. More giggling from across the table. Harry took a couple of bites and looked at Ron, hoping for some help. To his dismay Ron was eating furiously, and was blushing! What was going on here?
Almost on cue, Hermione and Ginny got up to clean off their plates. Harry couldn't help but stare at Ginny. She wasn't paying attention to Harry now, so Harry had some time to take her in properly. To his surprise and delight, he could see that the image of Ginny from his dream wasn't off at all. Harry supposed he had observed her subconsciously before, unaware of his growing attraction. That was it: She was attractive. Ginny and Hermione finished putting their dishes away and turned to leave. Harry quickly looked down at this plate and took a bite, not watching them go. As soon as they were gone Harry seized the opportunity.
"What was all that about?" he asked Ron.
"Don't ask me. I told you, they've been doing that since we got here."
"Why were you blushing?"
Ron blushed some more and stood to clean off his plate. He opened his mouth say something, but closed it and shrugged instead. He proceeded to clean his plate. Harry joined him, and once they were finished Ron walked upstairs with Harry. They were unsurprised to hear giggling coming from Hermione's room.
"This has got to stop," Harry sighed. "Or I'm going to go mad!"
"Too right, mate. But what can we do? They're girls!"
Harry got a very determined look on his face. "I'm going to talk to Hermione. Alone."
"Suit yourself mate. I've got some homework to start. Gotta start soon or I'm never going to get it done."
Harry was going to ask Ron why he wasn't going to have Hermione help him, but thought better of it. After all, he was going to talk to her, so she couldn't help anyway. Harry knocked on Hermione's door, and the giggling stopped immediately.
"Who is it?"
"Hermione, it's Harry," Harry said, sounding as serious and sincere as he could. "I need to talk to you. Alone, if I could."
There was a pause. "Alright Harry, come in."
Harry opened the door and stepped into Hermione's room. Ginny was standing to leave. She looked at Harry, blushed, and left the room, closing the door behind her.
"What is it Harry?"
Harry sat down on the chair next to Hermione's bed, close to where she was sitting.
"I don't know quite where to begin, actually," Harry started.
"Is this about Voldemort?"
Harry considered that. "In a way, I suppose," he replied. It dawned on him that his feelings for Ginny could give Voldemort a power over him. Wait a minute, his feelings for Ginny? Was he developing feelings for Ginny? Well, yes he was… He was? Oh boy…
"Hermione, I just want to say you are the one friend I trust above anyone else. I'm not sure what effect what I'm about to say will have. I'm really going out on this one and it's not easy to do, so bear with me, ok?"
Hermione nodded and looked at Harry attentively and with concern.
Harry took a deep breath. "I think I'm starting to have feelings for Ginny."
Hermione smiled widely. "Really?"
Harry nodded. "Before you say anything let me finish, then you can tell me off, ok?" Harry continued. Hermione nodded.
Harry took another deep breath. "I figured that Ginny had a crush on me a few years ago. You told me on the train back from Hogwarts last year that she was over me. I also know she'd been seeing Dean, so I figured I've missed my chance, if I wanted to date her, I mean. Then they broke up but I still didn't sense she had any interest in me. Now, even if there was a chance she did still have feelings for me, I'd worry I was putting her in danger if Voldemort ever found out. I want the chance to get close to her, but I don't know if I should even try. I even had a dream about her last night. What am I going to do?"
Hermione eyed Harry with a look that was both serious and mischievous at the same time. "You know, Harry, that has to be the most honest and open thing you've ever said to me."
Harry looked up hopefully at Hermione. "So you're not mad at me?"
"Why would I be mad at you, Harry?"
"Well," Harry began, and then thought better off it. "I don't know. I thought you'd tell me how silly I was being for having feelings for Ginny."
Hermione laughed. "No, you're not being silly for having feelings for Ginny. You're being silly for not telling Ginny how you feel."
Harry felt a lump in his stomach. "You really think I should?"
Hermione nodded. "I'll let you in on a little secret. Ginny isn't interested in anyone. She mostly went out with those other boys to see what Ron would say."
Oh no. Ron! How was Ron going to take this? "Do you think Ron kill me if he finds out I like his sister?"
Hermione sighed loudly. "Don't you remember what Ron said to Ginny on the train last year right before she told you she was seeing someone else?"
Harry thought back to the train ride. Just choose someone – better – next time, Ron had said, or something like that. Harry nodded.
"Who do you think Ron was referring to?" Hermione asked.
Startled, Harry asked, "Me?"
"Yes, YOU! Ron is so overprotective of her, who do you think would be the one person he would think was good enough to date his sister? Not to mention the rest of the Weasley family…"
"What?" Harry nearly shouted.
"Oh, Harry, honestly! Stop being modest! Mrs. Weasley is a typical mother, always dreaming of marrying off her kids, especially her special daughter. She dotes on you as if you were her own son, only it's better because you're eligible. Get it?"
Harry had never thought of it that way, and the thought made him blush. "So, the real question is whether or not Ginny likes me…"
"That's right, Harry. And you'll never know if you don't ask her."
"But that's just it," Harry said in frustration. "How am I ever going to get up the nerve to ask her?" Harry was disgusted with himself. "Here I am, having faced the greatest dark wizard in history on several occasions and survived, and I can't even face Ginny to tell her how I feel. I'm afraid she'll just tell me that it was just a silly crush, and that she's past that, and she's not interested in me at all."
It took Hermione an oddly long time to respond. "Well, Harry, if you're ever going to do it, you wouldn't have to do it all on your own. I can help, uh, prepare an accommodating situation…"
Harry looked up at Hermione, puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I can get Ron out of the house for a while so you and Ginny can talk alone, if you'd like."
Harry's mind was going a million miles an hour. Is this what he wanted? Yes, it was. He had to do something or this would go on forever and he would go totally bonkers. "That would be great, Hermione. You're the best."
Hermione walked over to Harry and gave him a quick smooch on the forehead. "Well then, if you don't mind, I have some preparations to attend to."
Harry nodded knowingly and stood up to leave. As he walked to the door, he remembered something. "Hermione, if you don't mind me asking, what's with all the giggling?"
Hermione blushed. "Oh, it's nothing. Just silly girl talk."
"Well, could you and Ginny keep it to a minimum? Ron's really starting to go bonkers about it."