Harry hated traveling by Floo powder. He could never quite get the
entry right and always ended up flat on his back, flat on his stomach,
or worse. Still, it was worth it. He was getting away from the
Dursley's early and heading not to the Burrow, but to Hermione's house.
He had received the owl just last week from Hermione inviting him to a
traveling Muggle carnival and circus that was setting up near where she
lived. Uncle Vernon was keen on seeing him go and decided not to give
Harry a difficult time about it; he knew whom he would be upsetting if
Harry's string of bad landings continued when he
reached the Granger's; his trunk traveled ahead of him and stopped just
outside the fireplace. Harry tripped over it, did a forward summersault
and landed, unsurprisingly, flat on his back.
"Harry! Are you all right?" Hermione yelled, running over to him.
"Yes, I'm fine," Harry said, sitting up and straightening his shirt. "I'm used to it."
"Well, come on then," Hermione said, helping Harry to his feet. "You and Ron will be in the guest room."
helped Harry carry his trunk into his room and left him to get settled.
Harry took a few moments to marvel at the décor; it was just as neat
and tidy as at the Dursley's house, but it all had more… character,
somehow. Still, it wasn't the Burrow and he found himself missing the
As Harry put his Firebolt away in the closet
he heard the unmistakable sound of someone arriving by Floo. He hurried
to the hallway to see who it was.
"Hi, Ron," Hermione said nervously. She was already in the family room. "Welcome to my house."
"Thank you," Ron said somewhat uncomfortably. "Erm, nice place you have here."
studied his best friends closely. He got the impression they both
wanted to say more, but for some reason they were holding back. Harry
watched their facial expressions as they talked. Hermione seemed to be
smiling and blushing whenever Ron wasn't looking at her, but trying
very hard not to when he was. Ron was fighting his face the entire
time. Harry had watched them spar since their first year at Hogwarts
and now he started to see something new; they were starting to notice
the opposite sex more and more, and they had found themselves growing
attracted to each other. Harry sighed to himself and wondered if they
would ever get past their fears and hook up.
Hermione was saying to Ron, jostling Harry out of his thoughts. "You
seem so graceful on your Floo entries, but he always seems to-"
"Hem, hem!" Harry coughed loudly.
"-have difficulty with it," Hermione finished, looking over to Harry. Ron laughed.
"Good to see you, Ron. How's your summer been so far?" Harry asked, entering the room.
boring, really," Ron admitted. "Just isn't the same without Fred and
George around. Ginny and I have been playing a lot of Quidditch lately.
Well, as much as we can with only two people."
"We should get
you to your room, Ron, before Ginny gets here," Hermione interrupted.
"We don't want her bumping into you. I'll help you with your things."
moved to start helping Hermione with Ron's things but stopped when he
noticed she was glaring at him. The obviousness of it all hit him like
a stun spell; she was using the opportunity to help Ron to spend time
with him. Alone. Harry stood upright and raised an eyebrow at Hermione.
Her glare turned into a blush and an uncontrollable smile. Having come
to an unspoken understanding, Hermione finished collecting Ron's things
and led him off to the guest room.
Harry walked over to a
chair and sat down. As amused as he was at the thought of Ron and
Hermione getting romantic, Harry couldn't help hoping she didn't
monopolize his time. As he thought about it, he realized how silly that
was. They always had a great time together, and even if they did get
together, Hermione and Ginny were still good friends and he was sure
they wouldn't want Ron around all the time. Besides, Ginny was a friend
too and knowing her they could find some way of amusing themselves if
Ron and Hermione decided they wanted to have some quality time together.
occurred to Harry then that he was getting quite ahead of himself. He
got up to leave but stopped when the fireplace spewed somebody else
into the room. The person shot out of the fireplace and slid a few feet
into the center of the room, stopping gracefully in a manner that
reminded Harry of a figure skater. She was wearing a white "Weird
Sisters" tank top, tight-fitting jean shorts and white trainers.
It took Harry a moment to realize it was Ginny.
didn't know if it was the way she wore her hair, or if it was the way
she was dressed, or if she had just grown a little since he last saw
her, or a combination of things, but Ginny looked different to Harry.
She looked older than he remembered and, to his delight, even prettier.
He found himself unable to put the label of "little sister" on her;
that title now seemed entirely inappropriate. To his embarrassment he
found himself smiling.
"Oh come on, Harry, it wasn't that good of an entry," Ginny said.
Harry realized he was staring. He didn't want her to know why he was staring at her. Think fast, Potter…
"Compared to my record, that was spectacular. How do you do it?" Harry said. Whew!
"Lots of practice, I'm afraid," Ginny replied. "It's good to see you again. Where are Ron and Hermione?"
let the smile fully form now. "Hermione seemed rather insistent that
she be allowed to show Ron to his room without my assistance."
Ginny grinned. "Did she now?"
Harry nodded. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Ginny let out a snicker. She took two steps and leaned in to Harry's ear.
been talking about Hermione ever since the Yule Ball, and Hermione and
I have been writing each other all summer. She confessed to me that she
likes Ron and that it's driving her crazy."
voice whispering into his ear made Harry's skin tingle. He had to
concentrate on listening to understand what Ginny was saying. Ginny
started picking up her things and Harry automatically began to help.
"So where am I sleeping?" Ginny asked.
"Oh, erm, I don't know. We'll have to ask Hermione."
two of them walked together to the guest room where Hermione was
showing Ron the view out of the window. Ginny cleared her throat to get
"Ginny! You're here! Fantastic, let me show you to my room…"
grabbed Ginny and hurried her to her room. Harry followed with his load
of Ginny's stuff. Hermione stopped Harry from going in and took Ginny's
stuff from him.
"Sorry Harry, girl talk, go away." With that, she ducked into the room and closed the door behind her.
"What was that all about?" Ron asked from the doorway of the guest room. Harry shrugged.
"Girls!" Ron said in frustration. "Mental, the lot of them."
"Yeah," Harry said, walking back to the guest room to join Ron. "So, boring summer, huh?"
Ron and Harry sat on their respective beds. "Yeah, mostly, though after last year I'm fine with a bit of boredom."
nodded and sighed. He refused to let the events of the previous year
get him down. He was going to a carnival and circus tomorrow, his first
ever, and he was determined to have some fun.
"Harry, there is something I've been wanting to talk to you about."
"Sure, Ron, what is it?"
swallowed. Harry could tell he was nervous and suddenly wondered if he
was going to confess his fondness for Hermione. Harry sat up
"Well, you know you're my best friend, right? I mean, you and Hermione, but you're a guy, you know?"
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, I figured as much."
smiled, but continued to be nervous. "I know you liked Cho and all, but
it was pretty obvious, even to me eventually, that she just wasn't the
right one for you."
Harry wondered where this was going. He
nodded. "That's true. I mean, she was pretty and all, but in the end we
just couldn't get along."
Ron nodded. "Well, have you thought about maybe getting together with someone else?"
was taken aback; Ron had never been interested in actually talking
about girls like this before. He was starting to suspect Ron's public
opinion of girls was a front to hide his true feelings which, Harry
suspected, were starting to grow stronger. Harry considered his answer.
can't say the idea of having a girlfriend hasn't crossed my mind, but I
really haven't thought about anyone in particular, no."
Ron nodded and looked at his hands. It seemed he was deep in thought about something.
"What's on your mind?" Harry asked.
Ron heaved a great sigh. "There's no easy way to ask you this, so I'm just going to ask it. What do you think about Ginny?"
Harry blinked. "What do you mean?"
mean, do you think she's pretty? Do you like spending time with her? Do
you think you'd ever want to, you know… take her out on a date
Now Harry was nervous. What was Ron driving at?
"What's all this about Ron?"
look, I'm your best friend, and Ginny is my sister, true, but I want
you to be honest with me. If you don't like her that way, that's fine,
but I need to know."
"You need to know?" Harry asked suspiciously.
just answer the question first and I promise I'll tell you everything.
Just do this for me, your best friend; just be completely honest."
took his eyes off of Ron and leaned back against the headboard. How did
he feel about Ginny? What happened to him when she came out of the
fire? Harry brought the image of the new Ginny into his mind and looked
her over again. He imagined her putting the Bat-Bogey-Hex on Malfoy so
she could retrieve his wand. He remembered her insisting to come along
to the Ministry. He remembered her talking to him in the library, just
being there listening to his concerns and bringing in the resources
afterwards to make things happen.
"Right. Honest," Harry said.
"I honestly don't know how I feel about Ginny. It's only been in the
last year that I've been able to see any of the real her. Now that I
do, I realize how strong minded she is. Not surprising, given that
she's a Weasley. I like the fact that she plays Quidditch and that she
started sneaking rides on a broom at six. I'm not sure why I like that,
Ron was smiling. "Go on, Harry."
"She reminds me a lot of Fred and George, only prettier." Harry and Ron shared a laugh at that.
"And she's a girl, Harry," Ron reminded.
know that Ron," Harry laughed. "Still, I know she had a crush on me,
and for some reason that made me uncomfortable. I didn't want anyone to
like me because I was famous. I didn't do anything to deserve it,
really, you know? And people seem to expect you to be a certain way
when you're famous, and I didn't want that. I was relieved, actually,
when she started talking to me like a normal person."
shouldn't be so hard on her about that, Harry. After all, she was only
ten when she saw you that first time at the train station."
thought about this. "I guess you're right. But now she's completely
different. Even today when I saw her, I swear I didn't recognize her at
first. I can't quite explain why, but she just looks different, like
"Growing up?" Ron suggested.
"I suppose that's it," Harry said. "It's impossible to think of her as your little sister when she comes in looking like that."
Harry, now answer this. Pretend for a moment that you had the
opportunity to ask her out on a date. Today, let's say. Would you want
"Ron, she's dating Dean, remember?"
"For the sake of argument, Harry, pretend she's not."
thought for a moment. He thought about taking Ginny to dinner at the
Three Broomsticks on the Valentines Hogsmeade visit, eating by
candlelight, looking at Ginny's eyes from across the table. Harry found
himself wondering what she would wear. Then he imagined what kind of
kiss she would give him and started blushing furiously.
"Yeah, Ron. I think I would. Really."
Ron let out the breath he was holding. "Good, then there's still time."
Harry blinked. "What are you talking about?"
"Harry, you can't tell Ginny or Hermione I told you this, ok? They'd kill me."
"I swear Ron, now what's going on?"
Ron looked around nervously before looking back at Harry.
and I had an argument about Dean. She's not dating him, Harry. The only
reason she said that on the train was to see what I would say. She
still likes you but she's losing hope because she doesn't think you'll
ever notice her. When we got our letters from Hermione about this trip,
I told her this would be the perfect opportunity to spend some time
with you. She got angry with me and said she doesn't think you're
interested in her. On the other hand, you saw what she wore today, and
you don't have to be a genius to figure out why I think she did. This
might be the last chance to get you and her together before she gives
up on you for good."
Now Harry was even more nervous. "She's not dating Dean?"
"No Harry, she's not."
"She likes me, even though she's talking to me?"
Ron grinned. "She's not the same little Ginny anymore, Harry."
Harry swallowed. "Oh boy."
everyone!" a female voice called from the dining room. Ron and Harry
jumped from their beds and headed for the table, Harry realizing just
how hungry he was.
"Oh, hello, you must be Harry," Mrs.
Granger said. "It's very good to meet you. And you must be Ron, of
course. Hermione has told us all about you. Please, have a seat."
looked at Ron as Mrs. Granger returned to the kitchen. Ron met Harry's
eyes, and Harry couldn't help chuckle a little. Ron looked embarrassed.
"Interesting that Hermione has told them all about you and not me," Harry said.
"Yeah, interesting," Ron said, avoiding the question.
good, dinner's almost here," Mr. Granger said, entering the room. "You
boys sit on over here, my wife and I usually take these two seats." Mr.
Granger turned towards Hermione's room. "Hermione, dinner's getting
cold," he called.
Ron took the first seat next to Mr. Granger.
He was positioned across from Mrs. Granger who had just brought out the
salad. Harry sat next to Ron.
"What is that in the dish?" Ron asked. "It smells wonderful."
"Lasagna," Mrs. Granger said. "It's one of Hermione's favorites."
"I've heard of it, but my mum could never get it right. She won't even try anymore."
then Hermione and Ginny arrived at the table. Hermione sat at the end
next to Harry and Ginny sat next to Mrs. Granger across from Harry.
"Oh, mum! You made lasagna!" Hermione said excitedly.
didn't take long for Harry to decide he really liked lasagna. After
that he didn't think about much except Ginny. He couldn't help looking
at her all through dinner. He had to be careful to make it look like
his glances at her were innocent, though he thought he caught her
glancing at him a few times as well.
"That was wonderful!" Ron said once everyone had finished eating. "I'll have to ask my mum to try this again. It's great!"
"Why thank you, Ron," Mrs. Granger said.
right you lot, you arrived a little late so it's best if you get on to
bed now," Mr. Granger declared. "We'll start out early in the morning,
so you'll want to be well rested for tomorrow's fun."
nodded and, after helping put away the dishes, headed back to their
rooms. As Hermione and Ginny passed Ron and Harry, Harry said, "Good
night you two."
Ginny and Hermione turned around.
"Good night Harry. Good night Ron," Hermione said. Harry thought she smiled a little as she said good night to Ron.
night," Ginny said. She and Hermione turned and continued to their
room. Harry watched Ginny walk away, noting how her hair flowed down
her shoulders and back. To his horror, Ginny turned back to look at him
as she reached Hermione's room. Their eyes met and, to his amazement,
Ginny didn't look away. Instead, she smiled and waved cutely at him,
mouthing the words, "Good night Harry." She then entered Hermione's
room and closed the door behind her.
"See Harry, what did I tell you?" Ron said.
Harry didn't think he was ever going to get to sleep.
chased Ginny in the field behind the Burrow. He was at quite a
disadvantage; Ginny knew all the good hiding places. More than once he
had to stop and wait for her to peer out from her hiding spot before
resuming his chase. Eventually he caught up to her and gently and
playfully tackled her onto a patch of grass. Not to be taken without a
fight, Ginny shifted her weight at the last second and ended up on top
of Harry, pinning him down. They were both laughing hard and stopped at
this point to recover. As they did, Ginny looked at him with more than
a little mischief. She leaned over to him, closing her eyes as she did.
She was going to kiss him…
"Harry, wake up!"
Harry opened his eyes to find Ron looking down at him. He jumped, having been forced to transition from Ginny's to Ron's face.
"Come on Harry, you need to get ready. The Grangers want to leave in half an hour."
sat up and looked out the window, realizing that the sun had just
crested the horizon. Still groggy, Harry put on his glasses and headed
to the shower. He couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed that Ron had
woken him up right in the middle of a good dream about Ginny.
he finished showering, Harry returned to his room to get ready. Right
as he finished dressing, someone knocked on the door.
walked in holding a piece of parchment. She had her hair pulled back
into a pony tail and was wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. As
simple as this outfit was, Harry couldn't stop looking at her. She
seemed able to look good in anything she wore.
"Owl post for you, Harry. It just arrived."
Harry said, taking the parchment. He was glad to have an excuse to look
away from Ginny; he didn't want her to get the right idea. Not yet,
"Are you ready to go?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah, just let me read this first."
Ginny nodded and left. Harry opened the parchment and read.
have been informed that you have been invited to attend a Muggle circus
and carnival with the Granger family. In light of recent events, I
believe it would be a marvelous idea to take the Grangers up on their
offer. If any student at Hogwarts is in need of a bit of fun, it is you.
have spoken with Minister Bones, and together with the Council of
Underage Wizardry, we have been able to secure a temporary permit
granting you, Ms. Granger, Ms. Weasley and Mr. Weasley the right to
perform magic in the event of an emergency. Although we are very
certain that Voldemort is taking a hands-off approach to his strategy
of late, we can never be too careful and we are all convinced that the
four of you would prefer this rather than being assigned chaperones.
have full confidence in your ability to handle any situation that may
arise and I know that I can count on you to use this permit responsibly
and only if necessary.
Above all Harry, have fun.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He was
actually going to be able to enjoy himself without having to worry
about Voldemort. Now very much excited, Harry joined the others in the
family room, and after taking something for breakfast from Hermione
("It's a breakfast pastry, you'll like it") they loaded up into the
Granger's van for the trip to the carnival.
On the way, Harry
read the letter from Dumbledore again. As he read it, he realized
something: The four of them would be the only wizards at the carnival.
The potential for mischief was astronomical, but Harry knew if he
abused his new freedom he would have to answer not only to the Ministry
but to Dumbledore himself. Besides, he wasn't about to go blazing into
a Muggle gathering and do anything that would draw attention to
himself. Not that he couldn't, and not that he wasn't considering it,
but he wouldn't. That would be the Slytherin thing to do.
course, he hadn't exactly told Ron, Hermione and Ginny about the
contents of the letter yet. It occurred to him that he was being
selfish for not telling them, and for thinking that the best way to
keep them out of trouble would be to prevent them from thinking they
had the right to do magic in the first place. Now he thought he was
just being unfair. Besides, Hermione was the last person Harry thought
would abuse anything, and Ron and Ginny may be Weasleys, but they
weren't Fred and George. He jumped off the fence he had been sitting on
in his mind.
"Hermione? Ginny? Could you two turn around for a moment?"
and Ginny were sitting in the cabin chairs in the center row of the
van, while Ron and Harry were sitting in the back. The Grangers were in
the front seats, of course, apparently content to concentrate on
navigating to the event.
"Sure Harry, what's up?" Ginny asked.
"I need to read something to the three of you."
read the letter as loudly as he dared. Predictably, as soon as he had
read it, Hermione had a concerned look on her face while Ginny and Ron
"This is going to be a fun time Harry!" Ron said excitedly.
"Absolutely not," Harry said quickly before Hermione could.
"What do you mean? We're not allowed to have fun?" Ron asked in near shock.
"Oh, we're allowed to have fun, Ron. We're just not going to do it using magic."
"But, we're allowed to!" Ron said.
and Hermione sighed at the same. Harry continued. "Don't you see, Ron?
Dumbledore put his neck out for us to get this permit. If we abuse it,
not only are we letting the Ministry down, but Dumbledore as well.
Besides, the permit is for emergencies only, and I have no doubt the
Ministry will know if we even attempt to do magic."
that," Hermione finally chimed in, "the whole point of this trip is for
you two to see how Muggles have fun without magic. Think of it as a
cultural experience. You'll have fun anyway, you'll see."
"Don't forget, Hermione, I still have little idea how Muggles have fun myself," Harry said. They all laughed.
"Oh all right, you win. I just wish for once I could be better at something than other people," Ron admitted.
"Ron, you prat, when was the last time any of us won a game of wizard chess against you?" Hermione scolded.
crossed his arms, looked out the window and said nothing. Ginny and
Hermione smiled at each other and turned back around. Harry smiled too.
Hermione had a perfectly valid point and Ron wasn't about to admit that
she was right.
A few moments later, Ron exclaimed, "Woah! Look at that!"
leaned over to see what Ron was looking at. Harry could see a massive
wheel mounted on two stands. It was turning and there seemed to be
buckets attached to it with people sitting in them. The entire
structure was covered in lights.
"That would be the carnival.
That big wheel thing is called a Ferris Wheel. You can ride it,"
Hermione explained. "There are other rides as well, but they are much
less… erm, tame than the Ferris Wheel."
Ron's stared out the window in amazement. "Wicked…"
Granger parked the van and they headed for the entrance. Mr. Granger
paid their way, which made Harry feel a little guilty. He would have to
find a way to pay him back later.
Harry stared around at the
carnival in awe. He had never seen such a place. There were rides that
looked like they could make you sick in a heartbeat. There were rows
and rows of games to play, and each stall had various prizes hung on
the walls. There was also a food court with all different types of food
and treats. Harry scarcely knew where to start.
start with the rides," Hermione suggested. "We're here early enough to
avoid the larger crowds, so now's the time to do it. The lines will be
impossible later on.
The four of them spent the first couple
of hours on the rides. They started on the Ferris Wheel, then moved on
to others with names that made Harry more and more nervous. Eventually,
they got around to a ride called the 'Dangler', but Hermione refused to
get in line.
"What's wrong, Hermione?" Harry asked.
"The last time I tried this ride, I threw up. I am NOT going back on it."
"Oh come on, Hermione, you haven't eaten anything to throw up!" Ron said.
"That's not the point, Ron. I just don't enjoy this ride."
"Please Hermione? For us?" Ron begged.
"Not for a thousand Galleons!" Hermione said.
Harry knew Ron wasn't going to win this battle. The only thing now was to see how he would handle the reality of it.
"All right then, Hermione. We'll go find something else to do."
Hermione got a confused look on her face. "Well, just because I'm not going doesn't mean you three can't."
Ron glanced at Harry for support, and Harry nodded.
wouldn't be any fun for us if you don't ride with us," Ron explained.
"It just wouldn't feel right. Besides, there are plenty of other things
to do here. It's no big deal, really."
Harry could tell Hermione hadn't expected Ron to say this. He got the impression she was trying very hard to suppress a smile.
"To tell you the truth, I am getting a little hungry," Hermione admitted.
food court it is, then," Ron announced, heading towards the food court.
Everyone followed him over to see what was being offered.
Hermione said. "Hot dogs, hamburgers, fish and chips, turkey legs. What
a selection! I'm glad mum and dad aren't here, they would probably have
a stroke if they saw me eating this stuff."
"I'm going for a
turkey leg," Ron said on his way to the turkey leg tent. Hermione
followed after him, almost automatically. Harry grinned knowingly; he
secretly wondered if Hermione liked turkey at all.
"What are you going to get?" Ginny asked. Harry noticed she was looking at the hot dog tent.
"I've always wanted to try a hot dog," Harry said. "It's so strange, having grown up with Muggles and never getting to try one."
"No time like the present then. Come on!" Ginny grabbed Harry's hand and led him over to the hot dog tent.
She's holding my hand,
Harry thought to himself. Once they arrived at the tent and got in
line, Ginny didn't immediately let go of his hand. Harry stood there,
unsure of what to do. Eventually Ginny dropped his hand so she could
dig into her pocket and pull out some change.
"Oh, no! Harry,
I didn't exchange any of my coins. I don't have any Muggle money!"
Ginny looked like she lost a bet or something.
"That's okay, Ginny. I don't mind covering for you today."
"Oh, no, Harry, I couldn't ask you to do that," Ginny said, looking sadly at Harry.
Harry smiled. "You don't have to ask, Ginny. I offered, remember?"
face lightened and she blushed a little. "Okay, but I promise I'll pay
you back as soon as we get home and I can visit Diagon Alley."
looked uncomfortably at Harry for a few moments, then turned back
around. Once they reached the table, Harry ordered two hot dogs and two
lemonades. They took their order to the table where Hermione and Ron
were sitting. Hermione was slowly picking at her turkey leg with a
fork; Ron was voraciously devouring his leg with his teeth.
"Ron, will you slow down, you're going to get that all over yourself," Hermione said in her motherly voice.
give a wizard some credit, will ya?" Ron said between bites. He opened
his arms wide to show off his perfectly clean shirt.
"How did you manage that?" Hermione asked, stunned.
Fred and George did for me. It's a special repelling charm. Nothing
will stick to it; dirt, mud, grass, turkey leg, you name it."
"Ron! The Muggles might notice! What were you thinking?" Hermione asked.
was thinking I might like to avoid looking like a pig for once!" Ron
stated firmly, returning to his turkey leg. Harry and Ginny both lost
their battle to keep from laughing. It was infectious; soon Hermione
had joined in. Ron just smiled in spite of himself and finished up his
lunch. As he finished licking the last of the sauce off of his fingers,
his eyes got big.
"What is THAT?" he asked, pointing at another tent.
sighed. "That is called cotton candy. It's basically flavored sugar
spun into thin strings and bundled into those bags. I hear it's
delicious, but my parents would never let me have any."
don't say," Ron said mischievously. Before anyone could respond, he had
left the table and, after a few moments, returned with four bags of
cotton candy which he distributed to everyone.
"Ron! My parents will kill me," Hermione said.
parents aren't here, Hermione, and we're not going to tell them." Ron
said. "Besides, what's the harm? Just brush extra hard when you get
Harry realized that everyone was looking at Hermione.
She was holding her bag as if it were a sack of galleons. Slowly,
almost reverently, she opened the bag and pulled off a piece. She
slowly put it in her mouth, then closed her eyes as she tasted it.
wow," she said, softly. "Oh my, that is good." She opened her eyes and
looked at Ron. "Thank you Ron," she said, then leaned over and gave him
a peck on the cheek. Ron's ears went red and Hermione returned to
enjoying her cotton candy.
"Erm, you're welcome Hermione," Ron said. Unsure of exactly what to do, he opened his own bag and started eating.
the chance while Ron and Hermione were preoccupied, Harry turned to
Ginny. She was smiling. Harry smiled back and they both opened their
bags to see what the fuss was about.
"Wow, it just… melts! This stuff is amazing," Ginny said.
didn't think he had ever tasted anything this good. As he ate, he
watched Ginny as she broke off piece after piece, placing each
carefully on her tongue and closing her mouth, letting the sugar
dissolve in her mouth. Harry found himself wondering what it would
taste like to kiss her after she had eaten some cotton candy and
started blushing. His blood went cold when he realized she noticed.
"What were you thinking about, Harry?" Ginny asked.
"Oh, nothing really," Harry lied.
"Oh, come on Harry, you can tell me," Ginny pressed.
more than a little embarrassed, Harry decided to pocket this little
thought for later. He leaned over to her ear and whispered, "I'll tell
you later." As he leaned back, he noticed Ginny nod and smile.
"Right, so what should we do now?" Ron asked
"Games! Definitely games!" Hermione said.
Harry and Ginny followed Hermione as she introduced them to her
favorite carnival games. One game involved throwing darts at balloons
to make them pop. The more balloons you popped, the better the prize
you could win. Another game involved throwing little rings onto bottles
that were laid out on a platform. The rings were barely large enough to
fit on the bottles, and they found it impossible to get one to land
Eventually they came to a game which involved a
bouncy ball, an easel with a square panted on it, and a basket which
was placed in front of the easel.
"The object of this game is
to toss the ball in such a way that it hits inside the square on the
easel, then drops into the basket," Hermione explained. "The problem is
the ball is so bouncy it always seems to bounce off and miss the
basket. I've never been able to figure this one out."
stood there thinking for some moments. Harry could not comprehend how
this was possible. They watched other people come by and try; one man
tossed the ball at a high arc, letting the ball come almost straight
down before hitting the square. To his surprise, the ball missed the
"Wow, I thought for sure that would go in," Harry commented.
a minute," Ron said suddenly. He paid for his turn and took up a
position in front of one of the easels. He then went down on one knee
and leaned into the booth, reaching all the way in and almost touching
the basket. With a flick of his wrist he tossed the ball gently upwards
towards the easel. The ball touched the square near the very top and,
released of its upwards energy, fell back gently into the basket.
"No way! Ron, you did it!" Hermione exclaimed. Harry and Ginny clapped.
"Well done, Ron!" Harry added.
"Guess you have to have long enough arms to make it work," Ginny said.
"Congratulations, you win a prize," the carnival man said, somewhat annoyed. "Anything in the booth."
watched as Ron scanned the prizes, wondering what he was going to
choose. After a few moments, Ron put his hands on his hips.
"I can't decide. Hermione, you choose."
Hermione blinked. "I can't choose for you, Ron, I don't know what you'd want."
Ron smiled. "Not for me, Hermione, for yourself."
watched Hermione blush. Ron hadn't turned to look at her. Harry
suspected Ron had set this up somehow and was waiting until he won
something. Hermione looked at Ginny, who motioned to Hermione to hurry
"Oh, erm, well…" Hermione scanned the prizes quickly. "How about the unicorn?"
excellent choice," the carnival man said half-heartedly, retrieving a
stuffed unicorn and handing it to Hermione. "Here you go."
Hermione examined her prize and looked at Ron. "Thank you Ron, that was very sweet of you."
"Don't mention it," Ron replied, walking towards the next game.
looked back at Ginny, blushing wildly. She looked excited and confused
at the same. Ginny merely winked back at her and headed off after Ron.
Harry remembered what Ginny had told him about them and figured it
would be the Gryffindor thing to do to help the process along a bit.
"You know, Hermione, I get the distinct impression that Ron is trying to tell you something," Harry said.
Hermione didn't look at Harry. She looked at her unicorn instead. "What makes you say that, Harry?"
when you refused to go on the ride I expected you and Ron to argue and
for Ron to do the ride anyway, but he didn't. Then he finally wins
something and instead of taking the prize for himself he gives it to
Hermione still didn't look at Harry. "So?"
"Hermione, I think he likes you and I think he's trying to tell you that in his own way."
expected Hermione to tell him he was just being sentimental, and that
she knew Ron couldn't possibly like her. For the second time today he
was proven wrong.
"Yes, Hermione, really."
Harry watched Hermione, he thought he could see in her face the thought
process she must be going through. It was time for Hermione to show her
"You like him too, don't you?"
This time Hermione couldn't quite control her reaction. She blushed even more, smiled uncontrollably, and nodded.
Harry walked up to her said, "You know, if there was ever an opportunity to get together with him, this would be it."
Hermione finally looked at Harry with a somewhat desperate look on her face.
you think I'm trying, Harry? I mean, I hoped the little kiss I gave him
for the cotton candy was a start. I just don't know what to do! I'm
horrible at flirting. What should I do?"
Harry didn't have the
slightest idea. "We'll think of something. We should go and catch up
before Ron and Ginny suspect something."
agreed. They trotted off after Ron and Ginny and resumed their tour of
the carnival booths, playing each game in turn.
Soon they came
up to the strength test game. They all watched as man after man stepped
up to the booth, took the hammer and swung it down as hard as he could.
The lever would fling a small piece of wood high into the air on a pole
heading for a bell at the top of a tower. Several of the men got close,
but even the strongest looking man couldn't quite get the wooden peg to
hit the bell.
"Go on Harry, give it a try," Ron said.
"Are you mental, Ron? Those guys were much stronger than me, and they couldn't do it."
"Yeah, but you have all those Quidditch muscles. I bet you could do it," Ginny added.
stomach did a flip. Ginny had mentioned his muscles, which meant she
had at least thought about them. Harry suddenly found himself very
self-conscious. After all, his t-shirt wasn't as loose fitting as
Ginny's was. He started to wonder if she had been checking him out all
day. She's a Weasley, Harry thought. Sweet Merlin, Ginny Weasley is flirting with you!And
right in front of Hermione and Ron! Okay, Harry, no way you're going to
let her get the better of you now. Time to turn the tables.
"Oh yeah, Ginny? What do you want to bet?"
Ginny glanced at Hermione, then back to Harry. "I bet you a kiss you can't do it," she said, crossing her arms.
he was in for it. A kiss? Did she seriously want to bet him a kiss? Of
course not; she was bluffing. She was trying to see if she could
embarrass him and make him back down. Clever, Ginny.
so?" Harry asked. Ginny nodded. "All right, but it has to be a kiss on
the lips, not one of those silly pecks on the cheek. And you have to
kiss me right out here in front of everybody."
Ha! That would
do it. There was no way Ginny would ever consent to kissing Harry in
front of everybody. A peck on the cheek, maybe, but not on lips. Harry
watched as Ginny thought about this.
"Fine, but if you lose, you have to let me have exclusive rights to your Firebolt for a week."
smiled through his shock. "Deal." He turned and approached the game,
the smile leaving his face as quickly as it had come. Instead of
calling her bluff, she had called his. He should have known better than
to run into a bet with a Weasley. Now he had to go and make a fool of
himself in front of everybody. Ron was never going to let him live this
down. Swallow your pride, Potter. The sooner you get this over with, the better.
walked up to the game, paid the man and took hold of the hammer. It was
heavier than he had imagined. He picked it up with some effort and
hoisted it up on his shoulder. He thought for a moment about how best
to swing the hammer. He took a deep breath, heaved the hammer into the
air, then took a quick step back and pulled down on the back end of the
handle as hard as he could. The hammer swung down hard onto the
platform with a satisfying WHACK!
around him cheered. He had actually done it! He must be stronger than
he thought. Maybe there was something to his Quidditch muscles after
all. Oh wait: Ginny! He was going to get a kiss from Ginny! On the
lips, and in front of everyone! He was so caught up in this that he
almost forgot to pick his prize. He picked out a stuffed tiger and
walked back over to Ginny.
Ginny was blushing wildly, though
she was trying to hide behind her hands. Harry walked right up to her,
setting the tiger on one hip. Suddenly he had an idea.
"Ginny, you know that thing I told you I would tell you about later?" Ginny nodded.
Harry handed Ginny the last bit of cotton candy he had saved. He then leaned in and whispered into her ear.
"I was wondering what it would taste like to kiss you after you had eaten cotton candy."
stood back up to watch Ginny. She couldn't get the smile off of her
face and she was still blushing, only now her eyes were big. As he
watched, he saw her smile fade a little as her jaw dropped slowly.
"Is that really what you were thinking, Harry?" Ginny asked.
nodded. "And now I have a chance to find out. That is, if you're
willing. I know you said you're dating Dean and all, but you did bet me
Ginny grabbed Harry's shoulder and leaned into his
ear and whispered, "What does this mean, Harry? I didn't think you
thought of me that way."
Harry whispered back, "Things change,
Ginny. I've changed and you've changed. You're all I've been thinking
about since you arrived yesterday."
"Well, for your information, I'm not really dating Dean. So, do you really want to do this?" Ginny whispered.
Harry stepped back to look Ginny in the eye. He smiled and nodded deliberately.
took out the last piece of cotton candy and placed it on her tongue.
She closed her mouth and Harry knew she was letting it dissolve
completely. She then put her arms around Harry's neck, closed her eyes
and leaned in. Harry closed his eyes just as their lips met. Ginny must
have wanted to grant Harry's wish; she licked his lips throughout the
kiss. Harry took the opportunity to taste the cotton candy from her
tongue and, after a few moments of this, Ginny finished the kiss off
and stepped back slightly, but she left her arms where they were.
"So, how did it taste?" Ginny asked shyly.
"I think it tastes better that way than eating it straight," Harry answered.
"Excuse me, but what do you two think you're doing?" Ron said, coming to a stop just beside them.
"Snogging, what does it look like, Ron?" Ginny said smartly.
"We know that, but exactly why are you snogging like that?" Hermione asked, catching up to Ron.
Harry turned to Ginny, who turned back to Ron and Hermione. "Well, isn't it obvious?" Ginny said mischievously.
and Ron turned to each other, struck with the reality of the situation.
The two of them suddenly looked very uncomfortable. Ron recovered first.
"One thing I don't understand, though. How did you win the game?"
"Yeah, Harry, how did you do it?" Hermione asked.
Harry shrugged, still reveling in the effects of the kiss. "Quidditch muscles, I guess."
Ron suddenly got on angry look on his face. "I think I know how." He started scanning the crowd.
"What is it, Ron?" Ginny asked nervously.
and George are here somewhere, I'm sure of it," Ron replied. "No
offense Harry, but something's just not right here. I bet those two
followed us here and are going around causing trouble."
"Oh Ron, you're just jealous," Hermione said.
Hermione, he might be right. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they had
helped out. Not that I'm complaining, mind you," Harry said, glancing
at Ginny, "but I don't want to spend the rest of the evening trying to
hunt them down. They don't seem to be causing any noticeable trouble if
they are here, and I want to enjoy myself."
"You're absolutely right, Harry," Ginny agreed. "We should keep our eyes out for them just the same, though." Everyone nodded.
"Erm, Ginny, could I have a word with you?" Ron asked.
"Sure Ron, what is it?"
"In private?" Ron asserted.
If you must…" Ginny turned back Harry. She gave him a quick peck on the
lips, then let go of his neck and joined Ron, who led her off away from
Harry and Hermione.
"What's he on about?" Harry asked Hermione.
you know how protective Ron is. He's probably going on about how she
shouldn't be acting like that, and that it's not proper to be kissing
boys in public."
"I'm surprised that she did that," Harry
said, playing dumb. "What ever made her bet a kiss on me? I thought you
said she gave up on me."
Hermione turned to face Harry. "I said she gave up on you. I didn't say she stopped liking you."
stood in place watching Ginny talking to Ron. They were too far away to
make out what they were saying or to see facial expressions clearly,
but Harry didn't think they were arguing. He took the opportunity to
reflect on the kiss he had just received. He had actually kissed her.
It was just too good to be true, but it was.
"What is it Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry paused. "I'm still in a bit of shock."
"She's been waiting for that for a long time. You know that, right?"
nodded. "She's an amazing person, Hermione. She's funny, she's
tenacious, she likes Quidditch, she even bat-bogey-hexed Malfoy. I
can't believe it took me until yesterday to start thinking of her this
Hermione smiled. "While we were getting our turkey legs,
Ron told me what you told him last night. I had thought it was
something like that. I can remember your reactions to Lockhart during
our second year. I told Ginny later that the one thing you hated most
was having attention thrown on you like that."
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Hermione. You're the best."
"You two make a great couple, you know that Harry? I think you're going to be happy together."
"Speaking of happy together, any ideas on what you're going to do about Ron?"
Hermione sighed. "No. I've been waiting for the right opportunity all day and nothing has presented itself."
Harry nodded. "Well, there's still the circus. Speaking of…"
"Harry! Hermione! Come on, we're going to be late for circus!" Ron called.
and Hermione smiled at each other, then jogged up the path to join Ron
and Ginny. Ginny held out her hand to Harry as they approached and
Harry took it readily.
Inside the main tent, they found seats
in the center stand across from center ring. They squeezed into a
section on the top row all the way in the back. Ron led them up and sat
to the far left. Harry made sure Hermione sat next to Ron, then he and
Ginny followed. Everyone in the tent waited anxiously for the show to
Finally, the lights dimmed and the elephants came
prancing around the rings, escorted by all manner of clowns, performers
and other animals. Everybody clapped. Soon the rings were filled with
all sorts of acts, from the human cannonball to the lion tamer. Harry
noticed at each time a new act entered a ring, a woman in an
extravagantly decorated outfit would ride around the ring on a horse
with a big sign which gave the name of the act.
"She looks like a human peacock!" Ginny mused.
"Can you see McGonagall in that outfit?" Ron asked. They all giggled.
have to tell Neville. He can use it the next time he faces a boggart!"
Hermione said. This time they all laughed out loud.
during the balancing elephant act that Hermione tapped Harry on the
shoulder. As Harry turned towards her, she leaned in and whispered,
"I'm going to try something. Wish me luck." Harry nodded.
spent the next few minutes glancing towards Hermione and Ron while
trying to listen in and pretend he was watching the show at the same
time. Before Hermione could do whatever she had planned, Harry watched
Ron put his hand on top of Hermione's, his ears beet red. For a minute
or two they just sat there like that. Harry assumed Hermione was trying
to decide what to do. Finally Hermione turned to face him, and Ron
turned to Hermione. They both smiled and blushed at the same time and
turned back to watch the show. Hermione then turned her hand upward and
entwined her fingers into Ron's. Ron leaned over to her.
"What does this mean, Hermione?" he whispered.
"What do you think it means, Ron?" Hermione whispered back.
"I wasn't sure you liked me that way."
"Well I do, okay?"
"Perfectly fine by me."
They sat there for another minute or two.
"Kiss me," Hermione whispered.
"What? Now?" Ron whispered back.
Ron paused. "All right then."
couldn't resist sneaking a peek. He tapped Ginny on the shoulder; she
turned and, together, they watched Ron and Hermione. They were nervous
and clumsy, but they managed to get in a decent kiss. Once it was over,
Hermione leaned over and put her head on Ron's shoulder.
"Hermione, there's so many things I want to tell you, I don't know where to begin."
"Not now, Ron. There's plenty of time to talk later. For now, let's just enjoy the show together."
"Right," Ron said, putting his arm around Hermione. "Together."
Grangers picked them up after the circus to drive them home. Hermione
told her parents about Ron and to Ron's surprise they seemed quite
happy about it. On the way home, Harry and Ginny sat in back, and Ron
and Hermione sat in the center row chairs. Both couples held hands all
the way home.
After a late dinner, Hermione's parents retired
to the family room to watch television. Harry and Ginny went outside
and sat on the porch swing. Ron and Hermione sat out on a bench in the
Before Harry could say anything, Ginny brought out a piece of cotton candy from somewhere.
"My turn, Harry."
didn't waste a moment. He quickly dissolved the candy in his mouth as
Ginny jumped into his lap. They spent the next several minutes enjoying
a pleasurable snogging session. As Ginny let up, Harry noticed a tear
running down Ginny's cheek.
"Ginny, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, Harry. I'm just very happy."
know, after you arrived yesterday, I knew there was something different
about you. That's when it hit me that you'd really changed. I had hoped
that, somehow, there was a chance we might get together, but you were
seeing Dean, so I didn't get my hopes up. Then I kept noticing things,
like when you waved good night to me last night, and when you took my
hand to take me to the hot dog tent and didn't let go right away. Then
you made the bet, and I was sure I was going to make a fool of myself.
I still don't know how I won that game, but I'm very glad I did."
Ginny suddenly got squirmy. "Harry, I have a confession to make."
Harry got nervous. "What is it, Ginny?"
"Well, I erm… sort of charmed the strength game so you'd win." She looked up at him and smiled apologetically.
"Wait a minute; you made the bet against me, then you charmed the game?"
Ginny nodded enthusiastically.
Harry finished his thought process. "But that would mean you intended to kiss me all along!"
"You don't miss anything, do you Harry?"
"And just how long had you been planning that?"
bit her lip as she thought. "Well, to be honest, I think ever since I
got Hermione's letter. She sent me a list of games and I figured that
one would be easy to charm. I joked to Ron that it would be funny to
see you try it and, well, it worked."
"I feel so manipulated," Harry said, smiling.
"You enjoyed every minute of it and you know it!" Ginny said.
"Oh yeah?" Harry asked.
Ginny just smirked and kissed Harry again.
"So, I guess this means I'm your boyfriend now, eh?" Harry asked.
yes, Harry, you are all mine," Ginny said, leaning in to Harry's chest
and snuggling her nose into his neck. "And I am all yours."
Harry wrapped his arms around Ginny and closed his eyes.
"You know, Ginny, this is exactly how I imagined having a girlfriend would be like."
"Shhhh…"Ginny whispered. "No more talking. Just hold me Harry."
sat there on the swing holding Ginny for a long time. It wasn't until
she yawned that he suggested it was time to get some sleep. Ginny
agreed reluctantly as she noticed Ron and Hermione heading into the
house from the garden. Before Ginny could turn into Hermione's room,
Harry stopped her.
"I almost forgot something, wait here."
Harry rushed to the guest room and retrieved the stuffed tiger he won. He returned to the hallway and gave it to Ginny.
"I want you to have this," Harry said. "You can sleep with that next to your pillow and have something to remember me by."
"How sweet of you, Harry. Thank you!" Ginny replied.
put her arms around Harry's neck, and Harry put his arms around Ginny's
waist. They enjoyed a nice long good-night kiss before Ginny finally
stopped and stepped back to leave.
"Goodnight Harry. Sweet dreams."
"Goodnight Ginny. See you in the morning."
went back into Hermione's room just as Ron and Hermione were saying
goodnight. Once Hermione had closed the door behind her, Ron turned to
"Did that just happen?" He was grinning from ear to ear.
"Oh it happened all right."
Ron grabbed Harry and pulled him into the guest room, closing the door behind him.
"I can't believe that just happened," Ron admitted.
"Why not? It was pretty obvious to me that you liked her. Isn't this what you wanted?"
"Of course it is. I just didn't think it ever would."
Harry put his hand on Ron's shoulder. "You two make a great couple. You obviously like each other very much. So enjoy it, okay?"
Ron agreed. "I'm really happy you and Ginny got together. There's
nobody else in the world that's good enough for my sister."
"Thanks Ron, that means a lot."
Ron smiled. "I guess these Muggle gatherings are really fun after all. Quite a grand old time we had, eh?"
Harry smiled and nodded. "This will certainly be one day I'll never forget."