"Am I dreaming or stupid? But boy, have I been hit by you babe, but no one needs to know right now."
"But, why?" asked Ginny.
"It's better than sitting around in the common room isn't it?"
"That depends on how much you like detention."
"We won't get caught," insisted Harry.
Ginny crossed her arms. "I am a littlecurious."
"We'll just take a quick look around and then get out of there."
"And I don't really have a better idea…."
"We'll just follow one of the Professors in…."
"Ron would be furious that I got to see," said Ginny thoughtfully.
"And just creep back on out…."
"Not to mention Fred and George…."
"They'd be dying to know," enticed Harry.
Ginny grinned and pushed a stray curl out off of her forehead. "Okay."
Harry jumped to his feet. "Great! Let's go!"
Ginny took Harry's outstretched hand and he pulled her up off the common room rug. Her palm felt unusually warm and her stomach gave a funny kick when he picked up the invisibility cloak. They were both going to go under that.
Of course, Ginny reminded herself when Harry pulled the cloak over them that, Hermione and Ron had done the same thing with him loads of times… but Ginny doubted Hermione or Ron had blushed when Harry had accidentally brushed up against them.
"Ready?" Harry asked.
"Let's go," said Ginny.
Harry figured he should have worn something lighter than a sweater as they walked down another corridor. He had never remembered the invisibility cloak being so warm. Why were his hands freezing cold and bead of sweat had just run down his forehead.
They paused before turning a corner and Ginny's eyes met his, waiting for him to start walking first. Harry nodded and they made their way down another corridor. Now this was ridiculous, his face felt like it was on fire.
"Stop," panted Harry. He motioned to a nook in the wall with a suit of armor standing in it. There was enough room for them to slip alongside and remain hidden
Harry pulled the cloak off and leaned his forehead against the cool metal of the armor.
"Are you all right?" said Ginny, appearing as she pulled the cloak off herself.
"I'm roasting," said Harry, "this sweater must be too heavy."
"Take it off then," said Ginny automatically. She clamped her mouth shut as soon as she had said it. "Er. Minding that you have a shirt underneath," she added hastily.
"I'd have to haul it around," said Harry, " and it'd just get in the way. Give me a second."
Harry sat against the armor, his knees pressing against the wall he closed his eyes as Ginny sat down beside him, looking concerned.
"Harry," she said after a moment, "just take it off."
Harry opened one eye. "I said I didn't want to haul it around."
"I don't want to haul you around after you collapse from heat exhaustion," retorted Ginny.
He sighed and pulled the emerald green sweater off and crumpled it under his arm.
"Better?" asked Ginny.
Harry shrugged and stood up.
Ginny held out her hands. "Give it."
"Your sweater, of course!"
Harry stared at her blankly. "Why?"
"I'll carry it, you dummy."
"Oh no, it's all sweaty, Ginny, you really don't have to," he said.
"I have six older brothers…."
Harry noticed the sweater wasn't damp. Then why was his face so flushed in the face?!
Ginny raised an eyebrow and took the sweater. "You're sort of weird, did you know that?"
Harry watched her tie it around her waist. Now why hadn't he thought of that?
"I'm not weird!" he protested.
Ginny straightened the sweater and Harry noted that the back of it ended right at the hemline of her skirt. He nearly hit his head on the suit of armor when he caught himself looking and frantically fumbled for the invisibility cloak. No, taking the sweater off had not cooled him off. What was going on?
"Careful." Ginny winced when he narrowly missed the armor. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Why is it when we're looking for a teacher that they are never around?" whispered Ginny, taking special care that her shoes didn't make any noise on the stairs.
Harry laughed softly and kept an even pace with her so that they didn't go tumbling headfirst. Stairs were a pain in invisibility cloaks.
"Maybe they're partying," added Ginny, "we've been looking for ages." Suddenly Harry tugged on the sleeve of her shirt.
"Flitwick," he mouthed.
They stood absolutely still listening and heard very faint, yet familiar humming. Goodness, thought Ginny, Harry must have amazing hearing or something.
Sure enough, Professor Flitwick appeared around the top bend of the staircase, where they had started. He ambled down the steps, humming Christmas carols and singing snippets here and there.
"Boughs of holly, fa la la la la la, hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm!"
Harry and Ginny slowly moved against the wall and waited for him to pass before they stealthily followed his tracks.
"Hmmm hmmm hmmm, whoops!"
Flitwick's violet hat toppled off his head and fell on the step behind him. Harry and Ginny nearly trod on it before Ginny threw out her arm to stop Harry.
"You never fit right, do you?" commented Flitwick to his hat as he brushed it off and placed it back on his head. "Hmmm, hmmm, hmmmm!"
When they reached the landing, Flitwick even added a cheerful hop off the last step to a final, "La!"
Ginny bit her tongue to stop the giggle that was rising within her. Harry glanced at her warily, and Ginny couldn't stop the small squeak that escaped her.
Flitwick turned, squinted and smiled. "Behave, Peeves, my friend! I know you are invisible! You can't get one past Fillius Flitwick!"
Harry and Ginny both sighed with relief when Flitwick resumed his happy trot to wherever he was leading them.
"Twenty-five minutes to go down to the kitchens?!" groaned Harry. "What does he need to take the scenic route for? He works here!"
"Maybe he was checking for students out of bed," smiled Ginny, "making the rounds." "He did a terrible job then," said Harry, lowering his voice as they exited the House Elf passageway.
"If he did a better job then we'd be back up in Gryffindor Tower," hissed Ginny.
They turned the corner and froze on the spot. Snape had come out of the library, and was walking towards their corridor. Harry pulled Ginny with him back around the corner.
"Perfect!" Harry whispered. "He's going to go back to his room for a bit of reading."
"It's Snape," sighed Ginny. "Of all the Professors we had to run into next…."
"Shhhh," said Harry creeping around the corner again.
They followed Snape at a much greater distance than they had followed Flitwick and it was slightly more difficult to be completely silent, Snape was keeping up a brisk pace.
Ginny shuddered, Snape never failed to give her the heebie-jeebies.
Finally, Snape slowed his pace slightly and removed the book he had been carrying under his arm. The pages rifled softly as Snape thumbed through them.
Snape's shoes made no noise on the stone floor, so both Harry and Ginny twitched when Snape cleared his throat.
He's going to recite, thought Ginny.
"It was the beating of the old man's heart." Snape had begun talking in merely a whisper but Ginny and Harry could hear every word perfectly.
"It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage."
Ginny's blood ran cold. She looked fearfully at Harry, who swallowed, looking quite nervous as well.
"But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed."
Ginny herself was scarcely breathing now.
"Meantime, the hellish tattoo of the heart increased." Harry sucked in his breath and glanced behind him. Ginny knew he wanted to turn around and go back up to Gryffindor Tower as much as she did. Could Snape hear them? Her own heart was beating very loudly now….
"It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant."
Ginny motioned frantically for Harry to stop and gestured behind them. Please, Harry, she thought, please, let's just go. Blessedly, Harry seemed to be as nervous about this as she was and nodded at her.
"Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still."
Harry shook his head vigorously. They had no intention of standing still anywhere near Snape, tonight. Harry began walking very quickly but…his shoelace must have been undone because Ginny suddenly felt him trip, and his shoes stamped loudly on the floor as he fought to remain standing.
Ginny gasped and grabbed his arm, looking back at Snape, who had swung around immediately and scanned the hall.
Harry had a hold on Ginny's arm also and he was breathing very hard.
"Accio, invisibility cloak!" spat Snape.
An icy wind flew over them, ripping the invisibility cloak from their bodies. Ginny felt a lurch of terror as Snape stared them down, and a smile…a horrible smile began to draw across his face.
"Well, well, well," said Snape in a voice that was coated with ice, "we are in trouble, aren't we?"
"We were abo--," began Harry.
"Shut up, Potter," said Snape crumpling the cloak in his hand. "It's all too obvious you and Miss Weasley were not only lurking about after hours, but with disgusting intentions no doubt."
"Disgusting?" said Ginny incredously. "What are you talking about?"
"Watch your tone," growled Snape. "You know exactly what I mean. Obligation of Potter's girlfriend, it looks like." Realization dawned on both Harry and Ginny.
"We're not a couple!" shouted Harry.
"Oh really?" said Snape raising an eyebrow. "What about that delightful ornament around Miss Weasley's waist? That looks exactly like your sweater, Potter."
"He was overheated!" said Ginny angrily.
"Indeed," said Snape looking at her with disgust. "Might I suggest a cold shower?"
"It's not what it looks like!" Harry growled.
"Then perhaps after you and Miss Weasley kindly untangle your arms, you can explain."
Harry and Ginny hadn't noticed they were still gripping each others arm in their fear.
"A nice round 100 points from Gryffindor should cool you two off, and perhaps a detention to spend some more time together…."
"Where have you been?" shouted Ron as Harry and Ginny climbed through the portrait hole.
"Why are you yelling?" asked Ginny narrowing her eyes at him, "Where were you all day?"
Harry looked over to the couch where Fred and George were sitting with a snuffling Hermonie. They looked mutinous also.
"We didn't know where you were!" Ron shouted, "We didn't know if you went off the school grounds and got yourself killed…."
"We're not dead," said Harry feeling his face heat up again. Did Ron honestly think he forgot about the war going on? The scar on his forehead just might as well be a giant target…. Sure Ron could yell about being worried, but he still had his freedom to go to the village. Harry had to get permission that would more than likely not be granted.
"We were FIVE minutes from going to go get Dumbledore!" shouted Ron, "Where were you?"
"How about we leave a note next time," said Ginny dryly, "like you did."
"I didn't have to leave a note, because Hermione and I got back to Gryffindor Tower well before we were supposed to!" retorted Ron.
"Don't cry, Hermione," said Harry, "please don't cry."
"She thought you both were DEAD, of course she's going to cry!" howled Ron.
"Shut up, Ron," said Fred, "they're back."
Hermione wiped her eyes. "Oh, Harry, I wish you would have told us you were going out with the cloak tonight. I thought it was all my fault that you got hurt, since Ron and I weren't around."
"Where were you?" asked Harry.
"We got permission from Professor McGonagall this morning to go to Hogsmeade do our Christmas shopping. For you, and for Ginny!" Ron pointed his finger at Harry accusingly, as if it were Harry's fault Christmas was coming.
"Ron, shut it, they're back. Harry really didn't do anything wrong," said George. He patted Hermione on the back.
"Put your finger down, you moron," said Fred, "you look just like mum."
"We've already got detention, Ron, so you don't have to lecture us. Honestly, you sound like McGonagall," said Ginny.
"Why do you have detention?" said Ron wheeling around to face her. "Who gave you detention?"
"Ron!" exclaimed Fred in horrific realization. "You are Mum." Harry was now picturing Ron in a flowery apron knitting by fire, muttering to himself and waiting for them to return to Gryffindor Tower.
"Someone has to keep an eye on Ginny!" shouted Ron.
"Harry's got eyes," offered George.
"Snape gave us detention," said Ginny rolling her eyes. "I'm not going to stand here and listen to you patronize us anymore. We'll leave an ickle little note on your pillow next time. I'm going to bed."
"So am I," said Hermione with a sigh. "Goodnight."
Ginny had just begun to plot to leave something really rude on her brother's pillow when someone knocked softly at her door.
"Come in," she said, moodily combing her hair.
Hermione, already in her pajamas, meekly entered the room.
"I'm sorry Ron yelled at you," she said. "He was just really worried." Ginny smiled at Hermione's gesture. "Thanks, Hermione, but I don't think that's the first time Ron's ever yelled at me, seeing how I'm his little sister and all."
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," said Ginny.
Hermione sat cross-legged on the edge of Ginny's bed looking quite worried. "You and Harry," began Hermione.
"What about Harry and myself?" said Ginny frowning.
"It seems a bit fast," said Hermione in a rush.
"I don't want anyone to get hurt." "We weren't going to hurt anyone," said Ginny defensively, "we wanted to see where the Professors lived."
Hermione stared at her for a moment. "But…." "No harm in it," said Ginny, "we just got caught."
"But…." "But what, Hermione?" sighed Ginny.
Hermione pointed to Ginny's waist. Ginny looked down.
"This dratted sweater!" howled Ginny clawing at it. "It doesn't mean ANYTHING!"
"I know it's Harry's! I was holding it for him! That is all, I promise. Harry and I are FRIENDS. Do you honestly think we'd start talking and then go traipsing off to go snog?!"
Hermione leaned over and plucked Harry's sweater from the ground. She folded it and handed it back to Ginny with a blush.
"I'm sorry, Ginny, I jumped to conclusions." "Better you see it first than Ron noticing," grumbled Ginny. "He'd really jump to conclusions."
"You have detention?"
Ginny nodded glumly. "All day, I'm sure. Did you and Ron have fun at Hogsmeade?"
Hermione smiled. "Yes, we're going back tomorrow too. We were going to go see if Professor McGonagall would let Harry go with us, but now that's he's got detention…. We still have more shopping to do. I guess you and I can go another day."
"That'd be really fun," said Ginny. "I wish my friends were still here to go shopping with me."
"So you and Harry spent the day together?"
"It was fun," smiled Ginny, "except this last bit, but Ron will get over it."
Hermione looked relieved. "I don't know how he feels about Ron and I." Ginny shrugged. "He didn't say much." "Oh, I doubt he'll say much about it anyway," said Hermione.
"He's a great friend," said Ginny, "I wish I'd talked to him sooner. Rather than that silly crush…."
Hermione shook her head. "Harry'll probably act like that never happened."
"Did you and Hermione have fun at Hogsmeade?"
Ron grinned. "Yeah, we wanted you to come with us, but when we asked McGonagall she said that she'd have to talk to Dumbledore about that. She flatly told us that you couldn't come with us today…the hag."
"Well, Ginny and I had fun, played cards and things."
"She's not bad for a little sister sometimes," yawned Ron. "At least you weren't bored completely out of your mind."
"Not at all," said Harry.
"Hermione's great," said Ron smiling funnily as he pulled his covers up.
"You could have noticed that last year," muttered Harry. "You goof." "What?"
"I didn't say anything," said Harry taking off his glasses.
"Night." Harry closed his eyes and sighed deeply. No, Ginny wasn't bad at all. An image of her laughing at him floated into his mind and Harry smiled, drifting off to sleep.
Disclaimer: The song at the beginning of the chapter is "No one needs to know right now" by Shania Twain. The passage that Snape was reading out of his library book was from "The Tell Tale Heart" by Mr. Edgar Allen Poe, the king of creepiness. Ginny's line about Harry being weird was inspired by the HP movie. All the Harry Potter characters belong to Ms. J.K. Rowling.