“We won!” yelled Ron, bounding into sight and brandishing the silver Cup at Harry. “We won! Four hundred and fifty to a hundred and forty! We won!”
Harry looked around; there was Ginny running toward him. She had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her.
After several long moments — or it might have been half an hour — or possibly several sunlit days — they broke apart. The room had gone very quiet. Then several people wolf-whistled and there was an outbreak of nervous giggling. Harry looked over the top of Ginny’s head to see Dean Thomas holding a shattered glass in his hand, and Romilda Vane looking as though she might throw something. Hermione was beaming, but Harry’s eyes sought Ron. At last he found him, still clutching the Cup and wearing an expression appropriate to having been clubbed over the head. For a fraction of a second they looked at each other, then Ron gave a tiny jerk of the head that Harry understood to mean, Well — if you must.
The creature in his chest roaring in triumph, he grinned down at Ginny and gestured wordlessly out of the portrait hole. A long walk in the grounds seemed indicated, during which — if they had time — they might discuss the match.
From Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, American version, pages 533 and 534.
Harry had to give himself credit for at least trying to discuss the match. Stepping over the threshold into the corridor with his heart pounding like a raging hippogriff, it just didn’t seem the time to be lost for words. The problem was, Ginny’s hand had slipped into his and his brain seemed to have jammed.
“So you won the match, yeah?” he blurted out as they started to walk, his hand gripping hers.
Ginny looked at him, her barely-concealed laughter making her eyes dance. Her only answer was a slight nod of the head. Without another topic to discuss and with Ginny still gazing at him steadily, Harry looked off down the corridor, his face clearly reddening.
He tried again, determined to keep his voice in the proper octave. “I thought Ron was going to hex me there for a moment,” he said nervously. “Hermione, though… she seemed like she was expecting it.” He shook his head in thought and glanced at Ginny again.
She appeared distracted for a moment but then broke into a cautious smile. “I didn’t tell her. I didn’t say a word about it, Harry. She must have guessed on her own.” After a brief pause she added with a sly look, “I bet she figured it out because of you.”
Harry laughed. A feeling like warm, foaming butterbeer was filling him up. “Well, I didn’t tell her anything. Sometimes she’s too smart for her own good, that girl. Besides, what could I have done to give it away, anyway?”
“Well,” she paused, “kissing me back was probably a dead giveaway, for starters.”
“Back? Kissing you… but I kissed you first!”
“No you didn’t!” she said, suddenly laughing. “I did first!”
“Maybe it was just perfect timing,” Harry said softly, suddenly bringing them to a halt. He reached out nervously and touched a few strands of hair by her cheek. Her breath hitched and his hand paused for half a moment. Then, letting his fingers touch her skin, he stepped closer, his other hand coming to rest on her back. They were only inches apart now. A few of her hairs tickled his nose but he hardly felt them. He could sense the rise and fall of her chest against his and his eyes locked on hers.
“Harry,“ she whispered.
He leaned the rest of the way in, his senses on overload with the softness of her skin and the faint flowery scent of her hair. Their eyes closed at the same time and their lips met in their second kiss. Harry pulled her closer, losing his senses completely in her touch, until—
“MR. POTTER! MISS WEASLEY! What in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing? This is a school, not some… some broom cupboard!”
Harry and Ginny tore apart from each other, nearly tripping over their feet in the process. Their robes were disheveled and they each wore a look of shock, which faded momentarily into horror at being caught by their Head of House. Harry was still grasping Ginny’s hand tightly, and, strangely, even through his embarrassment, her kiss still lingered on his lips.
Ginny glanced at him and then down at the floor, her face red with mortification. For Harry’s part, he could only stutter in discomfort.
“S–sorry, Professor McGonagall. I… we… were on our way out–outside.”
“Then make your way outside, Potter, but I hardly need add without any more such… displays!” She squeezed her eyes shut and then reopened them, looking hardly less menacing. “Move, Miss Weasley, Mr. Potter. Now! And if I catch you again, I shall be forced to take house points.”
They turned and began to walk as fast as possible without appearing too frightened, though Harry’s hands were now quite sweaty.
“Just like your father, you are, Harry,” McGonagall muttered as she continued on her own way.
After rounding a distant corner, Harry and Ginny slowed, finally stopping near a bronze-glazed window overlooking the front courtyard. A few moments later, Harry was surprised by a quiet giggle from Ginny. He looked at her with a creased brow and half a smile. She began to laugh, but threw her hand quickly over her mouth and shook her head solemnly.
Her attempt didn’t last long, though, and soon she was laughing again. Harry began to smile and chuckle himself, though more from watching her than understanding what was funny.
“Can you…” she said, finally calming herself, “can you imagine if that had been Snape?”
Harry grinned, closing his eyes for a moment to picture it. “His worst fear come true, or at least my worst fear: Snape catching me snogging my girlfriend.”
Ginny’s face lit up in surprise and she gave him a breathtaking smile. He loved the way her freckles bunched up on her nose when she smiled.
“Your—your what, Harry?” she asked tentatively, putting her hand on his arm.
“I, er… well, I—“
Her eyes were glowing with happiness but her voice was tremulous. “Are you trying to ask me something?” she whispered.
“We have so much to talk about,” he answered honestly, “but this last year’s been so hard: watching you, seeing you with… but now we’re here… together. I—I want you to be my girlfriend. Is that… do you want that, too?”
She reached out and hugged him tightly around the middle. “I never thought you’d ask. I want that, too. I want that so much.”
Putting as much emotion into his touch as he could, he squeezed her tightly against him, letting his head come to rest gently on hers. He ran his hand slowly up and down her back. The sheer pleasure of her pressed against him and the new sensations in his body and heart all fought for notice in his mind. All of his tensions, his worries, everything that he had been holding inside for so long seemed to melt away. He wasn’t sure he’d ever felt so carefree.
A few minutes later, feeling the effects of another lingering kiss, they set off again toward the entrance hall. Leaving the castle through the great front doors, Harry felt as if the world was opening up to him. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the grass was a brilliant green. It seemed too good to be true. He glanced at Ginny and was happy to see her wearing the same goofy smile he knew was plastered on his face.
They walked down toward the lake, trying to ignore the grins and stares they were already getting as a new couple. Many of the students, it seemed, had remained outside after the Quidditch match and now were simply enjoying the nice weather. Groups were gathered here and there, leaning against the castle walls or sheltered under giant shade trees. Harry led Ginny along the shore of the lake in a long arc until they drew close to the forest.
Finding the most secluded patch of grass he could, Harry pulled out his wand and grinned nervously at Ginny, letting her hand fall back to her own side. With a sweep of his wand and a muttered incantation, a thick, flowery blanket appeared a few inches above the ground and gently came to rest on the grass. With a second quick flick of his wand, several small twigs and dried leaves wriggled out from under the blanket and piled themselves up neatly by a nearby tree.
With a sudden nervous laugh, Harry quickly waved his wand over the blanket and it faded to a pale green. “Insectus Repello,” he added, pointing his wand around the perimeter of the blanket.
“What happened to all the pretty flowers?” Ginny asked with a smirk.
“That was just an accident,” he muttered.
“And the last spell?”
“Er, that was to keep the ants away.”
“Away from… what, exactly?” Her face remained completely innocent while his grew slightly pink.
“Away from us,” he said slowly.
He had stepped closer to her and for a moment she appeared surprised. But then she grabbed his hand and pulled him down onto the blanket with her. Harry reached to untie his shoes but a moment later Ginny pounced on him, leaving all thoughts of shoes or anything else forgotten. Her searing kiss dazed his senses and all he could do was wrap his arms around her and enjoy a happiness that he had never known before. Kissing her was like nothing he had ever experienced. It was even better than Quidditch.
Eventually, they broke apart and Ginny laid her head on his chest, playing absently with his frayed shirt sleeve. Harry watched the leaves above them twisting in the breeze, constantly shifting the dappled sunlight patterns in the grass all around them. His arms rested comfortably around Ginny, and when her hair occasionally brushed his skin, it sent little excitations of pleasure up his arm.
“I’ve never been so happy,” he said, speaking out loud to no one.
She rolled slowly off of him, propping her head on her hand. Her eyes rested on his face and Harry began to feel a bit self conscious. She stared at him for a few moments, and though he met her gaze, he couldn’t place the look on her face.
“I’m sorry,” she finally said.
“For what?” he asked, plainly confused.
“Well… it’s hard to explain.”
She paused, looking suddenly flustered. “I’m… I’m sorry about all the stuff that’s happened to you, but you just paid me the most flattering compliment anyone’s ever… but I feel guilty for enjoying it because it seems like it’s at your expense. How am I supposed to react to that? I want to hold you and protect you from everything that’s bad in your life, but I also want to soak up the fact that you just told me that being here with… me,” she inhaled sharply, “is the—the happiest thing that’s every happened to you. How can that even be true, Harry?”
He rolled so his body was facing her, but his gaze slid down to the worn threads on the blanket. He picked at them with his finger.
“I didn’t realize I said that out loud,” he said, looking up. “But that doesn’t make it less true.” His gaze fell again. “I know we’re just—just starting things, but you make me feel normal. I’ve never really got to feel normal. And you’re just so pretty and wonderful, and to choose a bloke like me… how could I not be happy?”
He chanced a look at her face. For a moment it was unreadable, but then the same hard, blazing look appeared from earlier in the common room and in a second, her lips were pressed to his. He kissed her back with all his feeling but in another moment his renewed smile ruined it all.
He thought she would be mad but when she pulled away, her face was lit up and she laughed a little, sliding her finger over his lips.
“Seeing you smile like that may just make me the happiest I’ve ever been, Harry.”
They both laughed. Harry was surprised how easy it was to laugh with her. It seemed that everything was easier with her around.
“Er, what do you think your brother’s going to do to me?” he asked hesitantly.
“Well,” Ginny said, looking supremely unconcerned, “I don’t fancy he’s going to say a word, not if he wants to have a chance with Hermione.” She examined her fingernails indifferently. “One day in the common room I could accidentally let it slip that he still fancies Lavender.”
“Ooh,” said Harry, “that’s cruel. I wouldn’t want to be around for that.” He chuckled. “Or you could just say that he’s always wanted to have his very own house-elf.”
Ginny laughed. “That’d keep Hermione away forever! Or I could say that he secretly fancies Draco Malfoy!” she added.
Harry considered her idea but shook his head. “No, no one would believe it. Ron’s not the blond type.”
He bit his tongue for a moment and they both burst out laughing. After a few more ridiculous ideas, they sank into a companionable silence. Harry just closed his eyes and smiled, wondering why he hadn’t worked things out with Ginny sooner.
“I’m sorry I took so long,” he said finally, breaking the silence.
She just looked at him, her eyes showing that he was already forgiven.
“I don’t know why it took me so long,” he continued. “You’ve always been you. I just didn’t really notice it until this year. I think it was seeing you with Dean that finally did it.”
“I guess I’ll forgive you,” she said airily. “I’m certainly not letting you go, ever,” she added.
“I’d like that,” he said seriously.
She smiled and looked up at the leaves. “You know, Michael and Dean, they never measured up to you, and I think it kind of drove them nutters. I didn’t realize it until after I broke up with Dean — that I had been comparing them to you — but I’m sure they knew it.”
“Well,” Harry said, “no one could be as bad as — what did you call her? — the Human Hose-Pipe?”
“You mean, Cho?” she laughed. “Oh, Harry, I don’t know what you ever saw in her. She’s pretty enough, but she’s not your type.”
“Oh, so now you think you know what my type is?”
She had moved and was now very close to him. She tucked her hair behind her ear and looked directly into his eyes. “What is your type, Harry?” she asked quietly.
He reached out a hand, threading his fingers through her hair. “Oh, I think red hair, freckles, wicked-fast flyer, beautiful, funny, clever—”
She silenced him with a kiss.
When Harry regained his senses, he found he was lying on his side and Ginny was curled up in front of him. His arm was lazily draped over her and she ran her thumb in small circles across his hand. He rested his cheek against the back of her head and breathed in that fragrance that he loved so much — the one that he had first discovered in Slughorn’s class when he smelled the Amortentia potion.
He looked around absently and observed an ant making its way along a leaf of grass toward the blanket. When it reached edge of the fabric it stopped suddenly, moving left and right as if confused by the invisible barrier before it. Harry smiled, pleased that they wouldn’t be interrupted. He watched for another moment as the ant turned and scurried away, back down the leaf, and finally disappeared from view.
Turning his attention back to Ginny, he closed his eyes and soaked up the soothing feeling of her presence. He had grown to love her effect on him over the last several months, and now that he finally had her, he had no intention of ever letting her go. She was going to be the one bright spot of happiness in his life. He wondered how he had become so lucky.
Quite some time later, Harry helped Ginny up off the blanket and vanished it with a lazy flick of his wand. He stretched luxuriously and tucked his wand in his back pocket. Taking Ginny’s hand, they began to walk slowly back to the castle. The sun was setting, casting its orange glow over the couple, and adding to their feelings of contentment and happiness.
“I wish Dumbledore hadn’t set a curfew,” Harry said as they walked.
Ginny quickly pulled him to a stop and snaked her arms around him, laying her head on his chest. Once again, as had happened when they left the common room, the monster inside him purred contentedly, its purpose now fully satisfied.
“I could stay out here forever with you, Harry,” Ginny said into his shirt.
“Yeah,” he grinned, “and we wouldn’t even have to worry about what to eat.”
A few hours before, having realized that they missed dinner, Harry had the stroke of brilliance to call for Dobby. The house-elf promptly, and very eagerly, brought them a picnic basket full of leftover food from the Hogwarts kitchens.
“So what happens now?” Harry asked as they began to walk again.
“I don’t know,” Ginny answered. “That’s the brilliant part of it, isn’t it? We can do anything we want. For now, I think we just take it a day at a time.”
Harry couldn’t explain the warm feeling her words elicited in his chest. He knew he could trust her with anything, but there would be time for explanations later on. For now, he just wanted to concentrate on how happy he was. Holding her hand still felt brand new and exciting, and he reveled in it all the way to the entrance hall and halfway to Gryffindor Tower.
“Harry,” she said as they rounded a corner inside the castle, “you’d better find me and pull me into a broom cupboard at least once a day. You need to make up for lost time.” She gave him another dazzling smile and he could see the laughter in her eyes. His face reddened but he had to smile back; blunt honesty seemed to be a trait that all Weasleys possessed.
“You mean for this?” he asked, pulling her close and kissing her again.
She melted into his arms and for a moment they were lost to the world, until a familiar voice jolted them violently back to reality.
“AGAIN? What did I tell you two this afternoon? Ten points from Gryffindor!” McGonagall shouted, having appeared out of a hidden passageway to their right.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” Harry said, still gripping Ginny’s hand.
“Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley,” she continued in exasperation, “please make your way directly to your dormitories. You are nearly past your curfew. I do not want to see this kind of behavior from you again. Good evening.” She turned on her heal and stalked off.
After she had gone, Harry turned to Ginny with a lopsided grin. “That could have been worse, but at least she left us a loophole.”
“She did?” Ginny asked curiously.
“Well, she only said she didn’t want to see that again. And I don’t plan on letting her. Perhaps you’d fancy a snog under my Invisibility Cloak?”
“Harry!” she scolded, but her smile belied her feelings.
They continued their walk back to Gryffindor Tower, answering politely when the Fat Lady inquired about them holding hands. Harry could actually hear her sigh as she closed over the portrait hole behind them.
“Well, I guess it’s goodnight, then,” Harry said quietly as they reached the far side of the room.
Ginny pulled him into a lingering hug. “Goodnight, Harry. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Then, once again, without thought or reason or bothering to even care who might be watching, Harry kissed her. This time there was no laughter, no shattering glass, no wolf-whistles, just the two of them.
Harry knew that things were going to be very different from now on. It was a whole new world, and now he really had something to fight for.
A/N: This was inspired by an afternoon spent with my wife and daughter on a blanket in the front yard. From there, Harry and Ginny wrote the story for me (though it took them quite some time to explain it to me!). I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! As always, one-thousand thanks to my beta, Iviolinist, for taking time out of her “retirement” to edit and post this and Unbreakable Bonds. You’re the best!