Disclaimer: This wonderful world, and all the characters that inhabit it, are J. K. Rowling's – I've just borrowed them for a little fun.
Author's Note: This story is dedicated to all of those people who have been asking for Harry and Ginny fluff in Just Plain Harry, especially Talking Purple Rabbits and my beta-reader, CrimsonHippogriff. Enjoy it here, guys!
After Ginny rang the doorbell of number four, Privet Drive, she tried to remind herself why she was the one doing this.
"Harry's relatives will recognize Ron, Fred, George, and me," her dad had said.
"And that horrid Aunt Petunia will surely recognize me," Hermione had added. "I've seen her eyeing me very nastily at King's Cross." She had blushed, and hadn't looked at Ron.
"But Percy...but Mum," Ginny had said, but all her objections had been overborne. She was the one responsible for prying Harry away from his Muggle family this year - she, who was probably the least likely to succeed.
She fiddled with her clothes for the hundredth time, tugging her shirt down and unsuccessfully trying to smooth the wrinkles out of her shorts. Hermione had produced the clothes when she arrived at the Burrow, and had sworn that this was what Muggle girls wore. Maybe so, but Ginny still felt like she had too much skin exposed.
The man who eventually opened the door evidently thought so, too, judging by the way he scowled at her.
"Can I help you?" he asked, though he sounded anything but helpful. This must be Harry's Uncle Vernon, she thought, then took at deep breath and strengthened her resolve. This was Harry she was fetching, after all, and he needed to be at the Burrow.
"May I see Harry Potter, please?" she asked, fleetingly meeting Mr. Dursley's eyes. They reminded her of the small black beetles she used in Potions class, and that thought almost made her giggle, which, in turn, made her feel better. This was just Vernon Dursley, and Harry thought he was ridiculous. She felt his glare intensify as soon as she mentioned Harry's name.
"What d'you want to see Harry for?"
That made Ginny angry. He acted as though he couldn't understand why anyone could possibly want to see Harry. Harry, who was only the most wonderful person in the world.
"I'm here to fetch him," she said, glaring back. "He's going to spend the rest of the holidays with my family."
He narrowed his eyes even further. "He never mentioned that."
"That's because he doesn't know yet. Do you think he'll object?" she added pointedly.
Mr. Dursley opened his mouth to speak, but another voice came from behind him before he could get anything out.
"Who's that, Dad? Is it Piers?"
Ginny craned her neck, but she couldn't see around Mr. Dursley. Luckily, he turned around to face his son, which forced him to step away from the door slightly. Ginny slipped in behind him, so at least he couldn't shut the door in her face. Because of that, Dudley could see her.
"Who is she?" he asked his dad. Ginny really didn't like the way he looked at her; she felt like treacle pudding at the Gryffindor table on Halloween.
"She's here to see Harry," Mr. Dursley said. He obviously didn't like his son displaying interest in an ‘abnormal' girl.
It actually amused Ginny a bit to watch the play of emotions across Dudley's face. He was disappointed at first, but then she watched him decide that that really wasn't such a bad thing after all. She was glad when Mr. Dursley stepped in, literally.
"Harry's in the garden," he said, stepping in front of his son.
As they passed the open kitchen door in a strange little procession - Mr. Dursley, Ginny, Dudley - Ginny heard a shriek. She turned around to see a woman standing in the kitchen doorway, one hand at her heart.
"Petunia?" Mr. Dursley said, looking extremely irritated. "Whatever is the matter?"
"Who...who is that?" Harry's Aunt Petunia asked. She stared at Ginny, her face completely white as her eyes traveled over her hair to rest on her eyes. She seemed to relax a bit then.
"She's a friend of Harry's," Dudley said, disappointment evident in his tone.
"She's here to take him away," Mr. Dursley added, managing to imply that it was to a mental institution somewhere.
"What's your name?" Mrs. Dursley asked. Ginny could feel Mr. Dursley swell up beside her; she had a feeling that he had very deliberately not asked her name. It made her very apprehensive that anyone could just walk in and see Harry without his relatives caring. What if it were Voldemort next time? she thought. Then she remembered that there wouldn't be a next time, and tried to put it out of her mind. It hadn't happened, and that was all that was important.
"Ginny Weasley," she said, since Mrs. Dursley actually wanted to know.
Mrs. Dursley looked thoughtful. "Weasley...no, no relation," she said. She turned back into the kitchen, but as Ginny started walking again, she thought she heard her say, "But Harry better watch out, if it's ‘like father, like son.'"
After the darkness of the hallway, Ginny was almost blinded by the sunlight of the back garden. Her eyes had no problem picking out Harry, though; after all, she could pick him out in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. He knelt in the dirt, weeding, and the sunlight turned his black hair almost blue. Ginny tried very hard to concentrate on his hair, because he wasn't wearing a shirt.
Harry couldn't believe how hot it was. Even for August, this was ridiculous. He'd finally taken his shirt off - feeling slightly silly and more than a little worried that he'd be red as a lobster tomorrow - because he couldn't bear it sticking to him any more. His assigned chore for the day was to weed the entire back garden, so he weeded, and he thought about Ginny.
He couldn't really remember exactly when he'd started thinking about Ginny - thinking about her as more than Ron's little sister, that is. Maybe it was when Hagrid had died, and she'd been the one to try to comfort him, even though she was as devastated as he was, because Ron and Hermione had naturally turned to each other. Maybe it was when Draco Malfoy had finally snapped and tried to cast the Cruciatus Curse on Harry.
Ginny had been the one to disarm Malfoy, though she insisted that it was only because she had been there - anyone else would have done it just as easily, she said. Or maybe it was even further back than that, when he woke up in the middle of the night in the hospital wing, after the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, to see Ginny curled up in the chair next to him, tear tracks on her cheeks. All he knew was that at some point during the past few years his daydreams of Cho had turned to daydreams of Ginny, and he hadn't even noticed it happening.
He'd been struggling with his conscience for awhile now, trying to decide whether or not he should say something to her. He wanted to, and he doubted that he could keep up any kind of pretense of just being her friend this year, but he also knew just how dangerous it would be for her if Voldemort knew how he felt about her. He'd finally written to Ron, fully expecting him to tell him not to be stupid - he couldn't put Ginny at risk like that. Instead, Ron had told him not to be stupid - Ginny had loved him for years, everyone knew that, and it was about time Harry made her happy.
Harry wiped sweat off his forehead, making his hair stick up for a moment before it flopped back down in the heat, and chuckled to himself. Ron's letter had been so...Ron. He did hope, though, that Ginny never found out that he'd talked to Ron first.
When he heard the back door open, he looked up in surprise. Aunt Petunia now trusted him enough to do his chores that she didn't check on him, and he couldn't imagine either Dudley or Uncle Vernon coming outside in this heat. He was even more surprised, though, when Ginny followed Uncle Vernon out the door. For a moment, he thought he had just dreamed her up.
She looked even better than he had remembered, and he hadn't thought that possible a minute earlier. The sunlight caught her hair, making it turn a myriad of shades of red and gold. She was wearing very short khaki shorts and a white shirt that was tied in the middle, exposing some of the skin of her stomach. Harry stared at her, open-mouthed in shock. He had never seen Ginny wear anything so revealing, but he had to admit to himself that he liked it a lot. He felt his cheeks go red as he dragged his eyes away from her - he hadn't been able to look her in the eye - but when he saw Dudley's eyes also on Ginny, he turned even redder from anger.
"Ginny!" he said, jumping up from his kneeling position. Or rather, trying to. He had been kneeling for so long that his legs almost gave out, and he only managed an ungainly lurch. Dudley sniggered at him, but Ginny leapt forward to catch him before he fell. That was so like Ginny - she would always do the right thing, the nice thing, even though it put her at a disadvantage. Harry cringed at the thought of Ginny's hands having to touch his sweaty arms and back, and he could see, since he still couldn't meet her eyes, the exposed skin of her stomach turn red. As soon as he felt his legs would hold him up by themselves, he stepped away from her.
"Whatever are you doing here?" he asked her feet. "Not that I'm not glad - I mean," he added, swallowed hard, and finally raised his eyes to hers, which were wide open. "It's good to see you."
She broke into the widest, most heartfelt smile he had ever seen on her. "I'm here to fetch you," she said. "You're coming to spend the rest of the summer at the Burrow - Dumbledore says it's okay. That is," she added, as he didn't say anything and kept staring, lost in her eyes, "if you want to come."
That shook Harry out of his reverie. "Of course I want to come!" he said. "I was just...just overwhelmed by my luck." He tried to make that last sentence sound like he meant more than just that he was lucky to be going to the Burrow. She gave him a shy smile, so maybe it had worked.
"Now just a minute, here," Uncle Vernon said. "I haven't said you can go to the...Burrow, was it?" His face showed exactly what he thought of people who lived in a house named for a hole in the ground. "You still have chores to finish, and we were wanting -"
"Do you mean you would really try to stop us leaving?" Ginny interrupted. She looked furious. Harry was used to the quick flare-ups of the Weasley temper, but the Dursleys weren't, and both Uncle Vernon and Dudley shrank back from Ginny's wrath. Uncle Vernon was made of stern stuff, though.
"I know you can't do magic outside of school, young lady," he said, stepping close to her and shaking his finger in her face. Harry could have told him that was a bad move. "How do you propose to force me to let him go?"
"I may not be able to do magic outside of school," Ginny said, though Harry wouldn't have been surprised if she could have done magic without a wand, right then, "but my father and brother, who are waiting in the next street, are full-fledged wizards - do you want them to come here? You weren't too happy when they came before, from what I heard."
Harry wanted to cheer. Uncle Vernon looked completely cowed - but then, Ginny was almost sending off sparks, so Harry wasn't too surprised. Dudley, too, looked appreciative, and he seemed to have an idea, thought it looked like it was taking awhile to seep through his brain.
"If Harry's leaving, Dad," he said slowly, "he'll need to clean himself up and pack. I can entertain Ginny while he does." He smiled ingratiatingly at Ginny, who looked like she had just been propositioned by Crabbe or Goyle. Which isn't far from the truth, Harry thought. She turned her eyes towards him, a questioning lift to her eyebrows.
Harry shrugged, and grinned sheepishly at her. He watched an answering grin spread across her face, and marveled at the fact that he was having a wordless conversation with Ginny.
"Well, Harry?" Uncle Vernon broke in, sounding completely exasperated. "Are you going or not?"
"Definitely," he said, and, with a final smile at Ginny, started into the house.
Ginny could have burst into song. Harry had smiled at her - at her, not at Ron and her, or Hermione and her, just her. And she'd touched him, she'd stopped him from falling, she'd held him. He'd stepped away quickly, of course, but at least she'd held him, if only for a moment.
Suddenly, she realized that she was just standing there, still staring after Harry. She looked around, expecting Harry's uncle and cousin to be staring at her in disgust. Mr. Dursley was, but it seemed to be just a general disgust of her and the world at large, rather than disgust of a girl head over heels for a boy. And what was in Dudley's eyes wasn't disgust. Ginny looked away quickly. She certainly didn't want him to "entertain" her, but she was confident that his father wouldn't allow it. She was right.
"Come along," Mr. Dursley barked, and lead the way back into the house. Ginny and a very disgruntled Dudley followed.
When they reached the living room, Mr. Dursley didn't ask Ginny to sit down, but she did anyway. She had decided that it was useless to try to follow the rules of etiquette with these people, because they certainly wouldn't. Sure enough, Mr. Dursley made no effort to entertain his guest, instead opening the newspaper and starting to read. Unfortunately, this left Dudley with an opportunity.
"So, Ginny," he said, leaning back on the sofa in what he obviously thought was a dashing and debonair pose, "how well do you know Harry? I mean, you're just the sister of his friend, right?"
Ginny had been close to laughter at his attempt to be suave, but at his question, all her laughter died. She knew he would be happy at her affirmative answer, but she certainly wasn't. "That's right," she said anyway. "Just the sister of his friend."
"That's smashing," Dudley said, abandoning his nonchalant pose and leaning forward. "I knew you were better than that -"
Intense rustling of the newspaper interrupted him, and Mr. Dursley's head appeared, his face red, and his eyes bulging.
"She's one of them, boy - abnormal - and don't you forget it. She's not fit for you."
Dudley turned such an incredulous look on his father that Ginny felt her laughter return. These people were so completely ridiculous that she couldn't take them seriously. Dudley actually seemed to be the best of the lot - at least he was reacting to her the way most teenage boys would. How on earth had Harry turned out so well, growing up in this household?
Even parental disapproval didn't deter Dudley. He actually rolled his eyes at his father, and turned back to Ginny.
"What exactly do you learn at that school of yours, anyway?" he asked.
"Well, magic," Ginny said, just to see them react.
They did - in fact, Mr. Dursley seemed to be going into shock. Both Dudley and Ginny ignored him, though Dudley didn't look too happy, either.
"Yes, but, what does that mean?" Dudley asked. Ginny thought she had never heard a whinier voice.
"Our main classes are Transfiguration, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Potions, and Defense Against the Dark Arts," she said, watching Dudley turn whiter, and Mr. Dursley turn more purple, with every word she said. "Then there's also Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, Divination -"
"Divination?" Dudley said, gaining back a little color. "Is that like fortune telling?"
"A bit," Ginny said. Thinking about how much Harry hated Divination made her smile.
"Can you tell my fortune?" Dudley asked, leaning forward, which frightened Ginny - she thought he might fall over into her lap.
"Erm..." she started, keeping a wary eye on him, but Mr. Dursley interrupted.
"Absolutely not!" he bellowed, crumpling up his newspaper into a ball. "You will have nothing to do with her, Dudley - she's abnormal, a freak! You, girl, you came to fetch Harry - well, go fetch him!"
"But...but he may not be ready yet," Ginny said. Harry had said he was going to take a shower, hadn't he? What if she walked in on him when he wasn't dressed?
"I don't care," Mr. Dursley said. "I won't have you down here, infecting Dudley with your abnormality. Go!"
Ginny was so desperate that she actually looked to Dudley for help, but he obviously wasn't going to go against his father. So, she stood up and walked slowly up the stairs. It wasn't difficult to tell which was Harry's room - the first two doors she came to opened on extremely neat, very regimented, and, to Ginny's eyes, very Muggle-looking bedrooms. Besides, Harry wasn't in either one.
He was in the third one, and he wasn't completely undressed. He was only wearing a pair of boxers, though, and, as she squeezed her eyes shut tightly and felt herself turn red, Ginny knew that that image would be forever imprinted on her brain.
Harry tried so hard to hurry that he kept forgetting to do things, banging his hands on doorways and drawers, and once actually tripping over his own feet. It didn't matter. Inside, he was singing. I'm going to spend the rest of the summer at the Weasleys' - I'm going to see Ginny every day, he thought. All right, so it wasn't quite as good as hearing that someone else had defeated Voldemort would have been, but it was still a wonderful feeling. He grinned at Hedwig, who had been asleep in her cage when he'd come back from his shower, but who now hooted softly at him. She obviously knew what was happening - she looked smugly happy, or at least as smugly happy as an owl can look.
Harry was toweling off his hair, clad only in his boxers, and humming off-key, when he heard the door open. He thought it was either Uncle Vernon, come to hurry him up, or Dudley, wanting to know exactly how well he knew Ginny. So he didn't turn around until he heard a small squeak, which sounded awfully familiar. He dropped the towel and spun around, to see Ginny herself, standing stock still with her eyes squeezed shut.
"I'm sorry, Harry, but your uncle wouldn't let me stay down there anymore. He thought I was corrupting Dudley." She opened one eye for a moment, but then closed it again quickly upon seeing Harry still standing there in just his boxers, staring at her.
He couldn't help it. He felt like his dreams had come true. She just looked so perfect to him. He knew that she wasn't classically beautiful - not like Fleur Delacour, or even Cho Chang. But it didn't matter. He loved the freckles, the nose that turned up a bit at the end, the bright, silky red hair that usually spilled over her shoulders, and, especially, the way the Weasley blush, which turned Ron's ears red, spread so prettily across her cheeks and down her neck. He thought about how much further down that blush might go, and suddenly was very glad that she had her eyes closed.
"Harry..." she said, which galvanized him into action. He grabbed a shirt and a pair of shorts off of the pile on the bed and pulled them on quickly. After that, though, he didn't say anything to let her know she could open her eyes; he just stood there, enjoying a moment that he wasn't sure would ever come again. Her head was tilted slightly to one side, as though she was listening to his movements, but she didn't open her eyes, even though she must have been able to hear that he'd stopped. Instead, she kept her eyes closed, and the way her eyelashes lay on her cheeks gave Harry a funny, fluttery feeling in his stomach. Suddenly, he realized that a smile was spreading across her face, and that he had, quite simply, never seen anything so beautiful before in his life.
Ginny could certainly tell that Harry had stopped moving - she felt like there was no sound in the room besides their breathing. Even knowing Hedwig was in her cage in the corner, she couldn't hear her. All right, she told herself, let's think this through logically. Harry had obviously put on his clothes - horrid thought, really - because she'd heard him. And she hadn't seen anything terribly incriminating in the room before she'd shut her eyes; his Firebolt was lying on the floor, with his broom care set beside it, but that was about it. No copies of Playwizard or Wand lying around, like she'd seen in Ron's room. (She hadn't told Hermione.) Besides, he wasn't moving, which meant that he was just standing there, staring at something.
She doubted that something was Hedwig.
Plus, she was finally starting to put a number of things together. Like Hermione buying her this outfit, which really was far too revealing for Hermione to approve of, and insisting that she wear it today. Like Bill's response when she suggested that he come with her inside the house: "Oh, I'm sure Harry would much rather be fetched by a pretty girl, Ginny." She'd laughed it off; she knew she was pretty, but she also knew that Harry had so far seemed to prefer much more classically beautiful girls. But maybe Bill had known something she hadn't.
Most significant, though, was what Ron had done. Several days ago, he'd tried to sound her out on whether or not she still had feelings for Harry. He'd been extremely clumsy, even for Ron, but she'd still been unable to hide her feelings. She'd always been unable to hide her feelings for Harry. She'd thought at the time that Ron seemed almost relieved at her answer, but she'd been so embarrassed at her reaction to his questions that she'd barely been able to think about it since. Now, though...
Harry was still standing there, completely still, and most likely staring at her. Ginny couldn't help it - after all, her most treasured dream seemed to be coming true. She felt herself start to smile, a smile she'd never smiled before, a smile she'd been longing to smile ever since she'd first laid eyes on Harry.
Suddenly, she heard him breathe in quickly.
"Oh, Ginny," he said, sounding as though he couldn't help himself, "you're so beautiful."
Ginny's eyes snapped open at that.
"No, I'm not," she said, but then added, as she drank in Harry's gaze, "but thank you."
Harry gave a shout of laughter, and took two long steps to stand in front of her. With one hand, he took one of hers, and with the other, he reached up to touch a strand of hair that had escaped from her ponytail. Ginny stiffened, so shocked and gratified that he was finally touching her that she just couldn't help it, and by the time she leant in to his touch, he'd already withdrawn.
"I'm sorry, Ginny," Harry said, his cheeks stained with pink. "I thought..."
Ginny laughed. "Oh, you thought right, Harry. I love you. I've always have." She laughed again at his incredulous face, then added, "You see, I'm quite shameless about it. I've waited a long time for you, Harry Potter."
This time, he reached for both of her hands and held them firmly.
"That's because I was a daft prat," he said, laughing in his turn at her own surprise.
Then, he pulled on her hands so that she almost fell into him, and had to grab for his shoulders to stay upright. He put one arm around her, lightly touched her chin with his other hand, and kissed her.
Ginny's senses exploded. Looking back on it, years later, she was able to realize that it hadn't really been that good of a kiss. But right then, with her every nerve tingling, her heart beating so erratically she wondered if she would pass out right there on the floor, and her legs trembling, she couldn't really analyze the experience. Besides, she had no other kisses with which to compare it.
When Harry leaned back again, Ginny saw that his eyes were unfocused, and he swayed slightly on his feet. She had done that to him! She still couldn't believe all this was happening, and she bit her lip to keep herself from giggling. She didn't think Harry would appreciate it if she giggled right then.
"Wow," Harry said. "I've been dreaming about doing that for months."
Ginny couldn't help it; she blushed and looked down at her feet. Except that she couldn't see them, because Harry still had one arm around her, and was holding her close to him. So, all she saw was his chest, clad in a Metallica (whatever that was) T-shirt. For some reason, that gave her the courage to look back up into his eyes.
"Me, too," she said, managing to smile up at him, even though she knew she must be almost as maroon as Ron's annual jumpers.
They stood there a minute, grinning at each other, before turning as one to finish Harry's packing. Ginny couldn't wait to be back at the Burrow, knowing that she'd be able to spend time with Harry this year, and from his frenzied tossing of everything he could find into his trunk, he couldn't either. When everything was finally packed, Harry looked from his very large, very full trunk, to Hedwig's substantial traveling cage, to himself, to Ginny. Ginny grinned at him, and reached into her pocket, pulling out two flat disks of Gryffindor red and gold.
"Fred and George's latest invention," she said, holding them out to show Harry. He bent down to look at them for a moment, then gave her hand a quick kiss, making her almost drop the disks. She swallowed hard, then deliberately met his eyes and continued. "Or rather, I suspect that it's just the latest that they've revealed. I think they've had this one for awhile, and it's how they managed a lot of their pranks. You peel off this stuff on the back, you see, and stick it to something you want shrunk."
"Wow!" Harry said, taking the red one from her and peering at it. "How much does it shrink?"
"Down to one tenth of the original size," Ginny said. "But I'm not sure Hedwig would like it, so maybe she could fly to the Burrow?" She tried to look an apology at Hedwig. She knew she wouldn't want to have to fly that far when she could be transported much more easily. Her dad and Bill were waiting around the corner to take them back by Portkey.
Apparently, though, Hedwig didn't feel the same way, because she didn't even wait for Harry to ask her, she just hopped from her perch to Ginny's shoulder, nipped her ear affectionately, and took off through the window. Ginny just stood there, open-mouthed in shock. She hadn't expected quite so ringing an endorsement from Harry's owl.
Harry chuckled at her expression, then stepped towards her and kissed her again. He caught her with her mouth still open, which seemed to surprise him almost as much as it did her, but he soon recovered, and began to explore her mouth hesitantly with his tongue. A small, objective part of Ginny, way back in her mind, decided that she'd never before felt anything quite that wonderful in her entire life. The rest of her just enjoyed the sensations.
Suddenly, Harry pulled away, breathing hard.
"Come on," he said. "Let's get out of here." He turned quickly and picked up the Shrinking Disks, which they had both dropped. He was about to peel off the back of one of them, when he stopped. "How will we do this without Mafalda Hopkirk sending us a letter from the Improper Use of Magic Office? I really don't want to be expelled right before my last year."
Ginny laughed, though it was a trifle breathless. "You won't. This isn't...isn't active magic, so it's all right for us to use it. The charms are already in the disks, we're not performing them. Like...like Sneakoscopes."
"That makes sense," Harry said. He pulled off the backings and slapped the disks onto his trunk and Hedwig's empty cage. Immediately, they shrank down small and light enough for Harry and Ginny each to take one. Harry picked up the trunk and reached for Ginny's hand. She took it and picked up Hedwig's cage. Hand in hand, they walked out into the hall and down the stairs.
There, they were met by Dudley, who stared at Ginny with resentment.
"You said you were just friends," he said.
Ginny thought that nothing could possibly look worse than Dudley sulking. She grinned at him, thinking about how much had changed since she had gone upstairs.
"We were," she said, and heard Harry chuckle beside her.
Suddenly, he gave her hand a tug, and pulling her as close as he could while they still held the trunk and the cage, kissed her. Ginny knew why he was doing it, and while she would ordinarily have resented being used for revenge, she found that in this case she didn't mind at all. Besides, she really enjoyed showing this horrible boy, who had looked down on Harry all his life, that someone really did love Harry, and wasn't ashamed of him. Oh, who was she kidding? She just really enjoyed kissing Harry.
This kiss was the longest yet, and when they finally parted, Ginny heard Dudley spluttering in the background. Neither she nor Harry looked at him; they just grinned at each other, before turning and walking out the front door. The sun shone, a sweet breeze blew, and Ginny could hear birds singing. She'd never before known such a beautiful day.