A/N: Bits of the dialogue are from a short lived TV show called Keen Eddie. So I cannot claim this is completely original.
"It's so hot, you could cook a Hippogriff out there! Not as hot as that one summer when Ron and I learned to swim in the pond out back at the Burrow. Ron was wearing these swim shorts that were two sizes too big and when he got in the water they ballooned up and..."
Harry Potter was concentrating on a spot on the wall. He did not know what the spot was, however it looked vaguely like red crayon and Harry wondered for a brief second if wizards and witches even knew what crayons were and whether their children played with them. He was listening to a voice that had been talking to him nonstop for the past week.
The voice was not pitying like most everyone he had talked to that summer. Ron, Hermione and even Mrs. Weasley had tried again and again to get him to talk about the death of his godfather Sirius Black, and he had repeatedly told them in no uncertain terms that he was not ready to do so. The last time he had yelled it so loudly that Mrs. Black's portrait woke up and was yelling right back at him. The verbal row ended with Harry throwing the umbrella stand at her and stomping out of the room. He then spent the rest of the day staring sullenly at the ceiling in what had previously been Sirius' bedroom.
No, the voice speaking to him was light, cheerful and occasionally humorous. The problem with this voice was that it did not seem to care if he talked back or not. It simply talked.
"Dad one time got hold of something called a 'slinky' and he spent an entire month trying to figure out what it was used for. He couldn't figure it out and so he charmed it to move back and forth continuously. Drove Mum absolutely mad and she ended up banishing it out of the kitchen. Dad rescued it and put it away so Mum couldn't find it. But my first year at Hogwarts Colin Creevey brought one with him and he showed me that it was a toy and we set it up on the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. Dad was thrilled when I came home that summer and I told him I found out what it was used for. We set it up on the Burrow staircases, but Mum tripped over it and banished it out of the kitchen again only this time we couldn't find it." Her face took on a longing, wistful expression, but she smiled and then said, "I wish I knew where I could find another."
Harry had noticed that Ginny had grown up from the awkward eleven-year-old girl who had a crush on him and was rendered speechless in his presence. She had talked of her childhood at the Burrow, her family and her friends at school. She had told him how Mrs. Weasley had taught them to read and write before they went to Hogwarts and what it was like growing up with six brothers who most often teased her by treating her like a girl.
"...and Mum turned her back to talk to Percy and when she turned around Ron was writing 'girl' on my arm and 'boy' on his own... he thought it was funny that I had to wear skirts..."
When Ginny had first started following him around and talking to him, Harry had viciously glared at her hoping that she would take the hint and go away. After all, everyone else in Grimmauld Place had already figured out that he wanted to be left alone, but Ginny seemed unfazed by his glowering looks and continued to talk. Harry then gave up and his next strategy was to ignore her, hoping that she would get bored and go away. He had started that strategy over a week ago and she was still talking!
Ron wasn't kidding when he said that she never shut up, Harry thought as his mind wandered back to his first visit at the Burrow. Harry wondered for a moment if her throat ever got sore. For some reason Harry found himself unable to yell at her like he did everyone else. Maybe that is because she won't even let me get a word in to do so, Harry thought sarcastically.
"...and after that Percy was allowed to have his own room. I really do not understand it myself. I mean, he did get his underwear back to normal, and who cares if it was flowery or purple. It is underwear, nobody else is going to see it!"
At this statement, Harry felt a small smile come to his face. However, when he realized what he was doing he immediately stopped and adopted the apathetic stare that he had mastered over the last few weeks. Ginny did not notice and continued with her anecdotes of life in the Weasley household. Some of which she could not possibly have recollection of as she was the youngest, but were probably stories that were told over and over again to the point she knew them just as well as anyone else.
"Percy got back at Charlie for that by throwing all of his underwear out the bedroom window. By the time Charlie found out what he had done the gnomes had found nearly all of it and were wandering outside wearing it on their heads. Mum spent an entire afternoon with a Summoning charm getting it all back."
This time Harry did smile and he knew Ginny saw it because she stopped talking. After listening to her voice for the entire week the quiet seemed strange and empty. He looked up to see Ginny staring at him and she smiled back.
"So after that Mum figured she had best separate them, but she made them spend the rest of the summer helping her with the knitting. So now, believe it or not both Charlie and Percy know how to knit. That wretchedly ugly tea cosy that Mum has in the kitchen is actually a Percy creation." At this her voice drifted off and she spoke softly. "I miss Percy. I know everyone else thinks that he has chosen his side and is no longer welcome here, but he is still my brother, and I miss him."
The silence continued and Harry found himself a little distressed that Ginny was sad, but continued his silence. And that silence continued until Ginny started in on a story of a two year old Ron wandering the house naked carrying his teddy in one hand and his diaper in the other while friends of her Mum's had tea in the kitchen.
The next day, Harry was actually looking up at people's faces instead of his shoes and even found himself being led around Diagon Alley by Ginny as they shopped for their school supplies. Harry spoke to people when they spoke to him, usually giving very short, clipped answers; however, he had not really taken to talking with Ginny. Ginny seemed to do all the talking in their relationship and did not seem to mind that he was not talking to her. For that, he was grateful as he was tired of people trying to get him to talk.
"Hey Harry, how about ice cream at Florean Fortescue's?" Ginny asked as she dragged him across the street to the small shop. Harry followed but could not help but notice the small bit of bare skin between her t-shirt and trousers as he stared at her backside. Harry gave himself a mental shake and looked back up the street for Ron and Hermione.
Ron and Hermione were about half a street back still standing in front of Flourish and Blotts, Ron having unthinkingly offered to help Hermione carry her purchases.
"Bloody hell, Hermione, how were you planning on getting all this into your trunk?" Ron asked following her down the street weighted down by three shopping bags.
"We've got two days, twelve hours, and 27 minutes to come up with SOMETHING!" Hermione said exasperatedly.
"Well, what's wrong with all the books you already own?" Ron asked, looking as though he were considering violating the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardy to spare his arms the agony and simply float the bags alongside them.
"They didn't make me happy!" Hermione yelled back as she moved toward Florean's.
The argument could be heard as Ginny and Harry came out of Florean's carrying their sundaes and found a table at which to settle. Ginny looked up at Harry and said, "They are going to have such cute kids," and then tucked into her dessert. Harry snickered and almost choked on his ice cream, thankful he had not asked for nuts on his sundae as they may very well have gotten stuck up his nose.
"Before she died, every summer holiday our family would go to my Nana's house once a week for tea. Oh, Harry, the food was absolutely awful. She would make these horrible biscuits that the twins would sneak into their napkins and then lob at the cat when we got home. Mum would dress me in these frilly little dresses and I wasn't allowed to run around else I might get dirty. Ever since then I have hated anything pink or lacy."
An image of Madam Puddifoot's immediately came to mind and Harry thought, Well, I can agree with you there.
"Then last year during one of our Hogsmeade weekends Michael Corner took me to that Madam Puddifoot's place and all those horrible memories of tea at Nana's house came flashing back. Michael's and my relationship went kind of sour after that. Gryffindor beating Ravenclaw in Quidditch didn't help any either."
Harry's head jerked up when she mentioned the dinky little tea shop in Hogsmeade. Strange, that we both had that thought at the same time. Though I'm glad she hates that place as much as I do. Hold on a bit! Why was that prat Corner taking her to Puddifoot's? Cheeky bastard probably thought he could get away with a cheap snog! Well, they did go out for a year, Harry thought. He has probably snogged her plenty of times. For some reason that thought bothered Harry a bit. Wait, why do I care? She can snog whoever she likes. Not like she's my girlfriend. Harry warmed a bit at the thought of him kissing Ginny and felt himself blush, but did not have time to reflect on it any further as he was saved by Hermione and Ron showing up.
"Blushing Harry? I suppose you saw Cho Chang down the street with Michael Corner then?" Hermione asked as she flipped through one of her new books. Harry scowled a bit as he shrugged indifferently and looked the other way.
"Ah, relief from the heat!" said Ron as he clutched his pineapple-mango sherbet ball sundae and settled into a chair next to Harry and launched into a discussion with the Ginny over the Chudley Cannons' prospects over the coming season.
The night before they were to leave for Hogwarts, Harry found himself out in the hallway outside the bedroom Ginny and Hermione were sharing. He debated with himself as to whether or not he should give Ginny the item he had found. He'd had to enlist the twins help in finding it, and once they did and he showed them its purpose they ended up buying out the store's supply of them. They were planning on selling a modified version of them at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Harry knocked on the door to the bedroom and heard, "Come in."
He entered the bedroom seeing Ginny sitting on the bed in a modest set of pajamas reading one of her schoolbooks. Harry knew he looked nervous fumbling with the box in his hands, so he said the next words quickly. "I got you something," he mumbled, and then handed her the box.
Ginny looked surprised, not only that he had spoken to her but also that he had gotten her a gift. But her face lit up when she realized what it was. "Harry, you found me a slinky!"
Harry blushed, "I know you were upset about losing yours so I managed to find you another."
Ginny stood up and took it out of its box, bouncing it up and down in her hand so that it hit the floor on each bounce. "Thank you Harry. This is one of the nicest gifts I have ever received." She stood in front of him and kissed him on the cheek. "You want to give it a go on the stairs?" she asked as he blushed even redder.
"Er... yeah," and Harry made his way to the hallway, marveling at the way his life had changed in just a couple of weeks. The major problems of his life were forgotten for the next hour as Harry and Ginny watched the Muggle toy make its way down the stairs and as Harry talked he felt guilty that he had not been nicer to her before, because Ginny had turned out to be a good friend and a good listener. He still felt guilt over Sirius' death, fear over the details of the prophecy and anger at being kept in the dark over the details of his own life, but none of that mattered as Harry reveled in being a teenager.