Disclaimer: Harry and Ginny are JKR's. These are my hopes for them.
A/N: While I don't think anything like this will happen in canon, especially with the compressed time-line, I do think H/G will happen, and that it will be important to the series as a whole. I have a WIP which takes Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione from the events of this story through their sixth year. Coming soon!
The morning sky was the kind of impossible blue that only appeared after a week of rain. A good omen, thought Harry as he stood on platform nine and three quarters, flanked by Ron and Hermione.
He scanned the crowd for Ginny; he knew she had arrived, since he had placed his trunk next to hers in the compartment
The first day of school had always been a time of anticipation and excitement, but never had he felt it as keenly as he did today. Looking at the forceful scarlet of the train, feeling the vibrations from the thrum of the engine under his feet, he felt again the power of Hogwarts, the power of knowledge. It was all there for him to learn, and in fifteen minutes he would be on his way.
As he half-listened to Ron and Hermione amicably bicker about the wards around the Grangers' house, Harry took the chance to observe them, something he hadn't been able to do for two months.
Ron was still Ron – impossibly tall and gangly – but there were differences. He no longer held himself awkwardly, but with a new confidence that was almost graceful. Right now he was looking down his long nose from his considerable height at Hermione. Harry could tell how Ron was going to conduct himself as Prefect this year; he had mastered the pose of quiet authority. Somehow, Harry knew that eventually it wouldn't be a pose. Then he was struck by how odd it was to see the Ron of the future so clearly in the here and now.
Hermione was undaunted by either the height or the attitude. She was making her point as she always did: in clear cogent statements with a hint of passion. She was still throwing herself into everything she did – from knitting hats for the elves to debating an obscure element of setting a Charm.
They had been so good about the prophecy – just the right amount of sympathy and practicality. Telling Ginny first had been the right decision; it had been easier for all of them to have the emotion diffused before seeing each other.
Hermione suddenly broke off her explanation to look at her watch. "Ron, we should go. They want us in the Prefects' compartment in five minutes."
"Right. Harry, you coming?"
"No, I'll stay here and wait for Ginny."
Hermione stopped short and turned to face him. "You're waiting for Ginny?" she asked with narrowed eyes.
"Yeah, we said we'd sit together on the train," Harry answered, enjoying watching the wheels turn behind Hermione's eyes. It was so much better than watching her trying to solve some foul problem they usually had to deal with.
"Oh," she said, nonplused. "I knew you saw her over the summer, but you never said –" she rounded on Ron. "Did you know about this?"
Ron looked mildly startled, but he only grinned and answered, "There isn't much to know, from what I can tell."
"Well, there must be if he's waiting for her," Hermione retorted impatiently.
"Um – I'm still here and I can hear you."
"Sorry, Harry. I was just surprised –"
"Look, Hermione," Ron cut in. "No one's keeping a deep dark secret from you. From what I know, Ginny turned up at Harry's house on his birthday when the rest of us couldn't go. Apparently she helped him wallpaper. For that she was grounded for two weeks. Then she ran into Harry when they were both at Diagon Alley shopping for school things. That's all I know. Except now 'wallpapering' in our house is the byword for something illicit. Right up there with 'scarlet woman'."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Is that it Harry? What Ron said?"
"Pretty much, yeah." Harry had to smile to himself, since he knew Hermione was not going to let this go.
Ron seemed to sense this as well. "Ok – let's ask him." He caught Harry's eye, as if asking permission.
"Have you kissed her?"
"Do you want to?"
"Do you realize that this is the most I ever want to hear about any of this?"
While Hermione threw up her hands, Harry laughed at Ron's expression. Somehow he managed to look both disgusted and pleased at the same time.
Then Hermione laughed too. "Ok, Harry. I'll talk to you again without this one listening in. He has delicate sensibilities."
"Hey! I think it would be pretty weird for a bloke to be that interested in his sister's love life." Ron's quiet, calm pose had slipped a bit.
"I suppose," Hermione conceded as she tugged at his arm. "Come on, we have to go now."
He watched them go, enjoying the sight of seeing the two of them together, with the cloudless blue sky above them.
Harry saw most of his classmates as well. Neville Longbottom was pushing a trolley heaped with his trunk and a very large cage containing a huge plant, which he guessed was the squirting Mimbulas Mimbletonia from last year.
Luna Lovegood drifted over with the latest copy of The Quibbler. ("We didn't find the Crumple-Horned Snorkack, but we found a water-skiing budgie.")
Seamus and Dean passed with a friendly wave. Harry was very grateful not to have to hex Dean.
At last he saw her. She was with a group of fifth years, laughing and chattering as usual. He suddenly felt awkward. Did he approach a group of people he didn't know and interrupt? Was he supposed to wait for her to come to him? There didn't seem to be any clear answer.
He saw Ginny's eyes scan past her friends and he knew the minute she saw him, since her face lit up and she smiled right at him. Feeling as if he had downed an entire Butterbeer in one go, he smiled back.
Ginny detached herself from the group and hurried over. "Hi! We almost missed the train because Jeannie's cat got loose in the station and we had to hunt him down. Of course, it ran into the men's loo and none of us could go in there. So we had to ask for help."
"I'm sure you had no problem getting help," he said, not being able to imagine any male from seven to seventy being able to resist those eyes. He wished he could have been the hero.
"No, actually, we didn't." Ginny smiled mischievously. "A very nice Muggle boy rounded up Mr. Boots for us. He got scratched for his efforts, though."
"Small price to pay," he murmured feeling a little distracted by how close she was standing to him. Today she was wearing her hair in a tight braid tied with a blue band, which matched the blue of her blouse.
"Where is everyone?"
"On the train. Lupin and Tonks already left. I think your mum did too."
Only an elderly lady in lavender robes was on the platform. They had just turned to board the train, when Ginny called out, "Harry – catch her!" She pointed to the lady, who looked as if she was going to faint.
He leapt to her side, catching her as her knees buckled. Harry was alarmed at how fragile the woman felt, as if her bones were hollow, like a bird's.
"Lay her flat," Ginny advised, "get the blood to her head."
Within seconds the woman began to stir. Harry shifted to shade her face from the glaring sun. He was glad to see the dark eyes flutter open. While her face looked terribly wrinkled and ancient, her eyes were lively and lucid.
"Mum!" A middle-age witch in gray came hurrying over. "I knew you shouldn't have come today."
"Oh, Harriet, don't fuss," said the lady. "Too much sun, that's all. These youngsters kept me from hurting myself on the way down."
"Can you sit up?" the daughter asked anxiously. "Do you think you can Apparate? We could take the Floo –"
"I've been Apparating for over one hundred years," she said testily, "I think I can do it after a little faint."
"We'll take it slow."
Harry lent a hand as the elderly lady struggled to her feet.
"Thank you, young man."
"Yes, thank you," added the daughter. With a small 'pop' they both Disapparated. They were gone –
– And so was the Hogwarts Express. It wasn't entirely gone, but it was slowly pulling out of the station.
Ginny's very unlady-like reaction was drowned out by the departing whistle.
They both started running, Harry quickly taking the lead, which he didn't notice since all of his attention was focused on the open door of the last car. He was an arm's length from reaching it, when he realized Ginny was not with him.
He stopped immediately, and turned to see Ginny struggling to keep up. He ran back to her, knowing that they had both missed the train, and that they were in big trouble.
Neither of them spoke as they waited to catch their breath.
"You know, for a nice girl, you certainly can swear with the best of them."
"Don't tease!" she flared.
Harry was shocked to see tears in her eyes.
"Ok," he said quietly. He felt a stab of annoyance. He was just trying to put their situation into perspective. It was an honest accident. Unless…
We didn't find out for months that it was Dobby who wouldn't allow us on the platform, Harry remembered. I wonder if that old lady was some sort of a set up? He looked around at the empty platform. They were the only two people left. Suddenly he felt quite uneasy.
What to do? They had no money, no owl, and no access to the Floo network. What did a wizard do during such an emergency? Then Harry remembered.