Harry sat by the fire in the common room debating the wisdom of what he was about to do. His fingers brushed the pellet he held in his hand, and he thought about what the twins had told him.
"It's a love bomb. Toss it like you would a dung-bomb. It's about a three-meter circle. Anyone who gets a good whiff will spend the next 24 hours acting on their repressed emotions. It won't make you fall in love, but if you've got secret feelings for someone, they're coming out, mate," Fred winked at Harry. "See if you can't drop one on little brother, and get things moving. Mind, these are still experimental, so if you could take notes, it would help."
Harry glanced at his watch and looked around the room. Ron and Hermione were sitting at their table going over homework and arguing. Ginny sat in her favorite chair, staring at the flames. The rest of the room was empty. Harry wished he could get Ginny out of the room, but it probably wouldn't hurt her. Dean might even thank him for the extra attention.
Harry made a show of standing up and yawning deeply. "I'm knackered; I think I'll turn in."
Ginny looked up briefly. "Night, Harry," she muttered.
Harry started toward the stairs. As he moved past Ron and Hermione's table he allowed his arm to continue up, and the pellet sailed out of his hand. He had just released the pellet when he noticed the Fat Lady's portrait open. As Professor McGonagall stepped through the doorway, time slowed to a crawl. Harry stared helplessly as he watched the love bomb sail on a path that would catch not only Ron and Hermione, but Ginny and the professor as well.
Professor McGonagall cleared the doorway just as the pellet burst. "Don't mind me, the Headmaster asked me to post this notice." She suddenly stopped what she was doing, holding the paper in one hand, and her wand in the other. She cocked her head slightly to one side and sighed, "Oh, Albus...."
Harry was stunned. He had never seen Professor McGonagall like this. It was such a strange site that he momentarily forgot what was happening. Harry wrinkled his nose. "What is that smell?" Reality came flooding back. Oh, no. Harry held his breath and sprinted from the room.
Harry dove into his bed. He reached up and closed the curtains when he realized he was panting. What have I got to worry about? I'm not in love with anyone. Harry lay in the dark, allowing his mind to wander. A little while later, he heard the door open and a shy voice call out, "Dean, are you in here?" Harry smiled to himself as he heard Dean sneaking out of the room. Harry's last thoughts before he drifted off to sleep were of Dean and Ginny kissing. In his dreams, however, Dean was nowhere to be found.
Harry awoke early the next morning to find Ron's bed had not been slept in. He hurriedly dressed and ran downstairs. He found Ron and Hermione curled up together, asleep on the couch in front of the fire. He gently tapped Ron on the shoulder, and whispered, "Hate to break this up, mate, but everyone will be coming down for breakfast soon."
Ron jerked up, nearly dumping Hermione on the floor. "Um, er, Harry, you wouldn't believe what happened last night." Ron seemed to notice where he was for the first time. "I'll tell you later." He bent over and whispered in Hermione's ear.
Harry left the common room before Hermione awoke. With nothing better to do, he made his way down to breakfast. On his way, he saw Dean and Seamus coming back up. Harry smiled a bit and greeted the pair.
"Morning, Harry. I know I asked if I could borrow your dress robes for the ball, but I'm not going to need them now," said Dean.
"What? Why not? I thought you were taking Ginny," spluttered Harry.
"Well, since we're not going out anymore, I don't think I'll take her," sighed Dean. "She snuck upstairs last night and told me that she wanted to keep me as a friend, but she knew now that she wasn't in love with me."
Harry looked confused, "But, you two have been going out since the end of last year."
Dean smiled, "Not really, she just told Ron that to irritate him. When we got back to school, she told me what she had done, and we just sort of decided to keep it going. I just hope she finds the guy she really loves. She's a great girl." Dean looked knowingly at Harry.
Harry looked up, "Um, speaking of Ron...."
Dean and Seamus exchanged a look, "We saw them. Just crept right past. It's about time, really."
Harry continued down to breakfast. He sat down at one end of the Gryffindor table and helped himself to bacon and eggs. He glanced down the table and realized that most of the Gryffindors were already at breakfast. Lavender and Parvati were whispering excitedly to each other, and the Creeveys were huddled together. Harry made a note to ask if Colin had got a picture of the happy couple. Harry looked towards that high table and noticed that Headmaster Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall's chairs were quite a bit closer together this morning. Harry started in on his breakfast and didn't look up again until someone sat down across from him.
Ginny smiled and blushed at Harry. "Good morning," she said, and pulled a few strips of bacon from the pile.
She's probably going to want some eggs, and they're all the way over here.
Harry reached over and grabbed the plate of eggs. He thrust them at Ginny and asked, "Eggs?" His eagerness caused him to crash the plate into a pitcher of pumpkin juice, which spilled over the table. Harry looked around in embarrassment and caught Ginny's eyes. All thoughts temporarily left his brain as he stared into the deep puddles of brown.
In the distance Harry heard Ginny saying something. He jumped as cold juice poured into his lap.
"I told you that would happen if you didn't clean it up," said Ginny.
Harry wiped his robes off. "It doesn't matter. I'll go and change later." Harry looked down at his plate. He hadn't felt like this since his first Quidditch match. He wiped his palms on his robes, and fiddled with a piece of bacon. "Ginny...erm...I ran into Dean on the way to breakfast this morning."
Harry looked up and found Ginny staring at him wide eyed.
"I...well, we...we decided to see other people. I...I...told him I needed to be true to myself." Ginny paused, and stared down at her own plate. "I can't believe that I am about to say this. Harry. Please look at me."
Harry looked up and was again lost in her eyes. He couldn't believe that he had never noticed how captivating they were. Harry felt like he could go all day just looking at her.
"Harry, I love you. I have loved you from the day that I first saw you. I loved you when you saved me. I loved you when you were so lonely during the tournament. I loved you when we were facing death together, and I will love you on the day that it finally claims me. God, I know this sounds like something out of one of those trashy romance books, but it's the way I feel. I can't help it, and I can't stand not telling you anymore. So, there." Ginny turned and fled the room.
Harry sat at the table stunned. She said she loved me. He became aware of the stares and giggles from around the room. She said she loved me. Harry finally realized that Ginny had run from the room. He stood up and made his way purposefully from the hall.
Harry ran all the way back to the common room, where he found Ginny sitting in the same chair as the night before. He approached cautiously, not sure what he was going to say. Now or never, Potter.
Harry dropped to his knees beside the chair. He voice nearly a whisper, "How long have you been this beautiful? How long have I been this blind?"
Ginny looked into Harry's eyes. She reached out and started to put her arms around him and he stopped her.
"Ginny, that's so sticky. I mean, my robes, I don't want you to get it on you," Harry stammered.
"I don't care." Ginny stared into Harry's eyes, beckoning him.
Harry didn't need another hint. He put his hand to Ginny's cheek, tilted his head slightly and closed his eyes. Harry Potter's world exploded.