She smiled to herself as Harry helped her to the stairs. My plan was rather brilliant, wasn't it? she thought to herself. She was glad that Dean had been so willing to help her. She thought back to when she had first approached him at the end of the year. Of course he would help, he had told Ginny, it was about time Harry had a girl, and it would also help him make Parvati (who had just dumped him last week) jealous. In fact, as he had told Ginny, she had already owled him twice asking that they make up. Everything had worked out for everyone.
She was going through all of these self-congratulatory remarks to herself when she lost her balance going down the stairs with Harry. Thankfully, they had only been two steps away from the landing, and it made for quite a comfortable landing on top of Harry's chest.
"Well, hello," said Harry, winking, though squirming slightly under Ginny's weight.
"Hi," said Ginny, giggling.
"So," said Harry, "can you get off me?"
"Oh!" said Ginny, as if she had failed to notice that she was sitting right on top of the Boy Who Lived. "Sorry, Harry," she said and picked up her crutch. She used it to push herself up. Once upright, she held out a hand to help Harry up.
Goodness, she thought as Harry grabbed her outstretched hand. He had such a firm, yet gentle grip. There was a slight moment when Ginny felt Harry pull on her arm, then he was standing beside her, breathing heavily.
"Oi!" said Fred, from the top of the stairs. "You lot okay down there?"
Oh, Ginny was more than okay. She was the happiest she had been since she had won the Quidditch Cup last year for Gryffindor.
"Yeah, we're fine," Harry called back up. Then he looked intently at Ginny. "You are okay, aren't you? Your leg and everything, I mean?"
Ginny couldn't breathe. Harry's emerald-green eyes were boring straight into hers. Merlin, they were gorgeous eyes.
"What?" she said. Then realising how odd this must look to Harry, she quickly said, "Oh, yeah, I'm fine, Harry."
"You're sure?" Harry asked.
"Yes, I am positive," Ginny said, staring straight into his eyes with her beautiful brown eyes.
I could lose myself in her eyes, Harry thought.
"Let me help you to the couch," he said.
Once Harry made sure she was comfortable, he took a seat next to her. They sat there in silence for a few minutes, until Ginny broke the silence. "Harry," she started tentatively.
"Well, do you remember earlier at your house when you said that there was something that you needed to tell me?"
"Yes...what about it?"
"What was it that you wanted to tell me?"
"Uh, well, I, uh.... Just that, um...." Harry paused, not sure of what he was going to say.
"What?" asked Ginny.
"Just that, it was me who wrote that letter; I mean, I wrote it, but I didn't send it to TheQuibbler, I sent it to Luna, asking advice on what to do. 'Cause I didn't know who else to ask, and then it was in TheQuibbler, and yeah...." Harry blurted all this out in a rush.
Ginny just sat there looking at him. She had a silly grin on her face, and when Harry noticed this, he suddenly got very self-conscious.
"Sorry, but please don't laugh at me," he finally said.
"Harry, why would I laugh at you?"
"WellyouhadgotoveryourcrushandIlikedyoueventhoughyoudidn'tlikemeanymore." Harry stopped to catch his breath. He had just rushed through the last sentence.
Ginny was now doubled over with laughter, clutching her side.
Harry gave her a quizzical look. "What's so funny?"
"I actually...understood...everything...you...just said," Ginny said, in between gasping breaths.
Harry turned away from her, for fear that she would see the embarrassment on his face.
"Yes, I did, and I think—"
"I think you lot need to get away from each other," said George. "Though this is really fun to watch—"
"—it makes me wish I hadn't eaten before going to that Muggle hospital, if you know what I mean," said Fred, clutching his stomach as if about to retch.
"Fred! George!" screamed Ginny. "Go away! We're having an important discussion here!"
"Well," said George, "wouldn't it just be easier if you both came out and said it?"
"Said what?" said Harry.
"Said that you like each other!" said Fred, as if nothing were more obvious.
Harry and Ginny stared dumbfounded at the twins, both looking expectantly right back at them. Then Harry and Ginny looked at each other.
Ginny immediately turned the colour of her hair and turned away from Harry. She then turned to glare at the twins.
"Say no more," Fred said, understanding the glare. "We're gone."
After Fred and George had left, Ginny turned back to Harry. He was staring at her.
"What?" she asked self-consciously.
"That's amazing," he said.
"What is?" she repeated.
"That with just a single look, you can send the two of them fleeing in fear from a room."
They sat in a tight silence for a few minutes, until it was too much to bear.
"You go first," Harry said.
"No, you, I insist," Ginny said.
"All right," he said. Taking a deep breath, he plunged right in. "Is it true that you still like me? What about the whole thing with Dean?"
"Oh, that." She laughed softly.
Merlin, I love it when she laughs, Harry thought.
"That was just a plan the two of us came up with to try to get you to finally notice me."
"So, you never—" Harry started but never finished the thought. He was interrupted by the sound of a piercing scream.
Ginny and Harry both instinctively drew their wands. What could it be?
The two cautiously peered up the stairs in the direction Fred and George had gone.
"What is wrong with them?" a frantic nurse was screaming. "Why...how...are they all covered in feathers?"
"Fred and George Weasley!" shrieked Mrs Weasley in a furious voice.
Ginny and Harry dissolved in laughter. They leaned against each other for support. When they realised how close they were to one another, they went completely quiet.
"So..." said Harry. "It's all out in the open."
"Yeah," said Ginny. "What about us?"
"I dunno," said Harry. He couldn't believe he was having this discussion with Ginny Weasley!
"Well," thought Ginny out loud. "I suppose we could see when the first Hogsmeade visit is at school, and, er, you know, go together, maybe, as a date?"
Harry had known what was coming, but still, the sound of the words coming from Ginny's mouth caught him slightly off guard.
"Wha—oh, yeah. That's a great idea," he said. "It's a date."
Ginny looked at him inquisitively, almost as if she wanted to see his facial expression in all of this, then burst into a fit of the giggles.
Harry looked alarmed at the sudden giggling fit that Ginny had gone into. "What's...what's so funny?"
"Oh, it's just that I never imagined that we would have got together this way," Ginny laughingly told him. "I thought it might have taken, oh, I don't know, maybe the length of this school year before you ever noticed me."
"Oh..." said Harry. He then furrowed his eyebrows and said, "You'd almost think that greater powers were at work arranging all of this."
Ginny let out a small laugh, then went scarlet again when she saw Harry looking at her.
"Oh, come on, Ginny," said Harry. "For the three years I knew you, you wouldn't look at me because you liked me. Now it's out in the open, and you still aren't looking at me." Harry poked her playfully in the side.
Ginny sighed. "I don't know, Harry. Like I said, I thought this would all take a bit longer to progress. I...." She trailed off.
Once again, an uncomfortable silence hovered between them. Then, Ginny spoke again. "So, when do you think that Ron will snap out of it, too?"
Harry was confused. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"Well, Hermione's been trying to get me to help her with Ron."
"Help with what?" asked Harry.
"Oh, Harry!" she said exasperatedly. "You don't see it? Hermione likes Ron!"
Just at that moment, a long, flesh-coloured string whipped Harry in the head as it was pulled away from them. Harry turned to watch it and just had time to see a red-haired, freckled face pull it out of sight.
"Fred! George!" Ginny yelled at the top of her voice.
Harry flinched. He hadn't been expecting her to yell, and even if he had, not that loudly. He turned to look at Ginny, only to find her trying to hobble towards the living room doorway.
"Let me help you," Harry said, getting up and starting towards Ginny.
Suddenly Mrs Weasley appeared in the doorway, looking a bit winded.
"What is it, Ginny dear? I heard you yell and came as fast as I could."
"Your two sons were using their Extendable Ears to listen in on a private conversation that Harry and I were just having."
"Well..." Mrs Weasley started but was interrupted, when from somewhere upstairs there was a loud bang.
"What was that?" Mrs Weasley said.
"I dunno, Mum, do you want us to go check it out?" replied Fred.
"No, you boys will go downstairs and wait for me to decide what I'm going to do with you!" Mrs Weasley said, giving the twins an icy glare.
The boys didn't say anything, just admitted defeat and headed downstairs to wait for their mother. Meanwhile, Harry had slipped out of the room and was racing upstairs, where he found Ron.
"Ron, what was that crash?"
"Ah, crash, um, that was just..." Ron replied, looking for an exit.
"It was just...?"
"Me," replied Hermione, stepping out from behind a column.
"Hermione?" asked Harry. "How did you know we were here? How did you get here?"
"Well, you see, it's a bit complicated," Hermione said, fumbling with the buttons on her jacket.
"Yes, Hermione, why don't you tell us?" said a grinning Fred, coming through the doorway.
"I thought Mum told you to go downstairs!" said Ron indignantly.
"Well, you see, Ron, there's this little thing they created about two millennia ago," said George. "It's called Apparating."
"So, Hermione, continue your story," said the twins together.
"Come on, Hermione, spit it out!" Harry prompted.
"Er, well...I don't...."
"Come on..." Fred said.
Hermione was blushing furiously and seemed to be a bit frustrated.
"I, um, we...."
"Come on!" George yelled.
"Bloody hell," muttered Ron, right before Hermione said, "Snogging! Ron and I were bloody snogging, all right? And if you don't mind, could you leave so we could continue?" Hermione was all red, and now Harry noticed a small red spot appearing on her neck.
Harry whispered, "Holy mother of God...."
"Oh, that's okay, we'll leave," said George.
"Yeah, Ginny and Harry will want to start snogging again, anyway," added Fred.
At this comment, Ron's face turned red with anger, Hermione looked happy, and Ginny and Harry were just plain embarrassed.
"We haven't been snogging," replied Ginny.
"Oh, even more reason you'll want to get to it," commented Fred.
"Harry, Ron and I have been a ‘couple,' you could say, for about two weeks," said Hermione, her ears beginning to resemble Ron's when he was embarrassed.
They really have been around each other too much, Harry noted, as he looked at her ears.
"So pay up," said Fred, turning to George, a huge grin on his face.
"What do you mean, pay up? Ginny and Harry admitted to it first," said George indignantly.
"Yes, but Ron and Hermione began dating first," said Fred, holding out his hand. "We agreed that it was whoever began dating first."
"Bugger," said George.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione stood, stunned, staring at Fred and George in total and utter indignation.
Hermione recovered first. "You...you two put bets on us...on who would start dating first?" she asked.
"Yeah," said George, retrieving some gold from his pockets and handing it to Fred. "Wish I hadn't," he added, at seeing the triumphant look on Fred's face.
"Anyway," he added, "we've had it going ever since Harry saved Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets—"
"And it was just so obvious for you two," said Fred, looking at Ron and Hermione.
"Because if you couldn't see the sparks fly—" said George.
"—then you were probably one of you four," said Fred.
Harry's indignation grew even more. Ginny was shaking with fury beside him.
"Well, Fred," said George, "we'd best be off. Lee, Oliver, Angelina," he ticked off their names on his fingers, "Katie, Alicia, Dean, Seamus, Neville, Lavender, Parvati, Colin, Dennis, and Professor McGonagall will be wanting to hear about this."
"What?" shouted Ginny.
"Oh, yeah," said Fred. "Forgot to tell you."
"Gryffindor Tower had a pool going," said George.
"I think there was about—" he paused to think "—thirty-seven Galleons in the pot by the end," said Fred.
"Thirty-seven Galleons?" said Ron, his voice positively sagging with indignation.
"Hang on," said Harry. "Professor McGonagall was in on this?"
"Yeah, she was one of the first to make a bet," replied George.
"What about Oliver? He's left already," said Hermione.
"Well, his last year he placed the bets, but lucky for us, most people though Ginny and Harry would get together before you two," said Fred, pointing at Ron and Hermione.
"I can't believe you to would do this!" yelled Ginny. "Eavesdropping is bad enough! But placing bets on my love life!"
Fred and George looked worried. When Ginny got angry, it wasn't a pretty sight, and this time she really seemed angry.
The twins then looked at each other and Apparated out of the room, leaving the two couples looking angry and shocked.
"How could they?" yelled Ron.
"I know," added Harry in a calm voice. "I always thought you two would get together before Ginny and I."
"What do you mean, before me and you?" asked Ginny. "How long have you had to think about this?"
"Well...about three weeks," replied Harry.
"Are we really that hard to picture together?" Ginny asked angrily. "I mean, come on, my brother, the most unromantic person in the entire wizarding world, dating Hermione before you date me?"
"It's true," said Hermione, shaking her head vigorously. "Ron's got the emotional range of a teaspoon and the romantic range of a Doxy drop."
"Hey, I resent that statement!" Ron cried.
"Ron, it's true!" added Ginny. "I'm surprised you know what the words ‘romantic' and ‘emotional' mean!"
"Oh, thanks! Is this pick-on-Ron day?" said Ron, frustrated.
"No, that's next week," Harry added.
"Ha ha, Harry!" said Ron sarcastically. "You better watch out! If you aren't careful, I might remind Ginny that you thought your ‘emotionally challenged' friend would start dating before the two of you would."
"Yes, Harry!" shouted Ginny. "Tell me more about that!"
"Well...um...er..." stammered Harry, as Ron and Hermione carefully withdrew.
"Think we should leave them to it?" asked Hermione.
"Is Snape's hair greasy?" replied Ron. The two quietly sneaked into an empty room nearby, leaving the new couple to have their first fight in relative privacy.
"I'm waiting, Harry!" demanded Ginny.
"Well, Ginny...darling...I just thought..." murmured Harry.
"Oh, don't you ‘darling' me, Potter! I can't believe you!" Ginny yelled.
Harry, however, was distracted by the lovely shade of red her cheeks were turning. But that didn't help matters, as Ginny was still yelling.
"Oh, now you can't even listen to me anymore, Harry? Am I boring you with our relationship? You can go and—" And that was the first time Harry heard the words "broomstick" and "nostril" in the same sentence.
Harry was left standing. Ginny had just stormed out of the room.
Hold on, Harry thought to himself. How is it that, like, five minutes after we become a couple, we have a fight? I agree with Ron! Women are mental. Harry walked out of the room to go find Ginny but was met by Fred and George, who were holding a large bag. Harry realised what it was.
"Oh, no," Harry said quietly.
"Oh, yes, oh friend-of-our-brother-who-wants-to-snog-our-sister," said Fred menacingly. "You can't get away from her that fast. We've bagged her up for you."
"We're with you," said George. "Women are mental. But it seems they always have good reason to be.... We're not going to listen to her for the rest of the summer going on about how she lost you, when it was her own bloody fault for being in love with someone who is such a git."
"Hey..." said Harry, who was uncertain how he should take what the twins had just told him. "So, why did you put her in the bag and not a full-body bind?"
"He may have a point there, Fred," George conceded. Suddenly, there was a muffled groan from the bag.
"Oh, no. She's coming to," Fred said, reaching for his wand.
The noises from the bag became louder, and suddenly the bag split, and out came a very angry Ginny, brandishing her wand. She spun to face her brothers, who promptly Disapparated with a loud crack. She whirled around to face Harry. "What is this? Is this some kind of joke, Harry Potter? You come to me, claiming to be in love with me, making my heart swell?" Her voice went up several octaves as she said this, her shouting rivaling that of her mother's. "Then getting Fred and George to bundle me up in a bag and publicly humiliate me?" Ron and Hermione had poked their heads out the door, and Ginny yelled at them, "What are you looking at?" And she promptly burst into tears.
Harry had no idea what to say. Ginny had been acting weird since they had headed upstairs, and he didn't like it one bit. He sat down next to Ginny to see if he could work it out.
"Don't. Just go," she cut him off, through sobs.
"Come on, George," said Fred. "Let's leave this lovesick couple to make up!"
"Agreed." And with that Fred and George popped out of the room.
"Gin, I didn't get the twins to put you in that bag. I wouldn't do that." Harry paused, then added, "And I really don't know why you're crying."
"Uh-oh," said Ron, as Ginny turned red, but not from blushing. "You're in for it now, Harry." And with that, he pulled Hermione from the room and left.
"You must be totally mental! How could you not know?"
"I'm not mental," Harry said, a little too coolly. "But I have absolutely no idea why you'd be so upset. By the way, that scarlet is a very beautiful colour on you, Ginny."
Ginny looked quizzically at him for a moment, then collapsed in a huge, yet silent, fit of giggles that sent her rolling on the floor. "Apology accepted, ‘darling,'" she said, laughing harder, while Harry helped her up. He blushed in spite of himself. "Now that that's behind us, I have an idea. I'm going to borrow some of Fred and George's Extendable Ears. I think I saw what room Hermione and Ron went in," she said, grinning mischievously. Harry laughed and had no choice but to follow.
Harry and Ginny ended up outside Ginny's room.
"They wouldn't have gone in here," commented Harry.
"I'm pretty sure, Gin, that if your brother and Hermione were sneaking around, they wouldn't choose your room."
"Good," said Ginny, with a mischievous smile.
They continued down the corridor, until they found a doorway conspicuous only because of the odd silver glow surrounding it. Harry and Ginny exchanged a curious look.
"I can't hear anything," said Ginny, pressing the side of her vividly scarlet head to the door. "I bet you five Galleons that's a silencing charm around the room."
Harry couldn't help but grin. "Well, then," he said, "they must be in here." And so he inserted the end of the Extendable Ear into his own ear and directed the other end to the base of the door. It wriggled towards it for a moment, then changed direction at the last second and sped off down the hall.
"It must have been Imperturbed," said Ginny. "Well, in that case...." And she raised her hand to turn the doorknob.
The door did not open.
Harry had been expecting this. He pulled out his wand and raised it to the keyhole and muttered, "Alohomora." Harry heard the lock click inside the door.
Stuffing his wand back into his pocket and exchanging one last excited glance with Ginny, he pulled open the door. The sight that met his eyes at entry was not pleasant.
"Harry!" Ginny whispered, not taking her eyes off the scene. "Maybe you could do the counter-charm! That way we won't have to watch this...eeeewww!"
"Don't worry. I'm way ahead of you!" Harry whispered. He said the counter-charm as quietly as he could, and the two proceeded out the door.
"Okay, let's try this again!" Ginny said. They put the Ear under the door and listened. They couldn't stand it for more than a minute, so they gave it up. "I really didn't expect to hear, ‘Ron, watch your foot,' did you?" Ginny asked. Harry laughed. "So, now that we're done with that plan, about what I said about my room...." Ginny's eyes gleamed with excitement, but mostly mischief.
Harry felt himself sweating. "Er...what? Oh, yeah. Um, well...."
"Harry, do you want me to do the silencing charm instead of you?" Ginny interrupted.
Harry sighed nervously. "Um, sure, I guess that would be best...." And they proceeded down the hall to Ginny's room and shut the door behind them, silencing charm and all, until they were called down for dinner.