A/N: No futons were harmed in the writing of this chapter. Some tea cozies may have been sacrificed, however. All for the good of Wizardkind, however - and please, if you must, blame JKR, since she's the one who started all this. Thanks to Sherry (my lovely beta-reader), Enna (for help with the money math) and the uber-cool Mel (who helped me get out of a writing funk).
Ginny Weasley gritted her teeth and concentrated on the dancing tea cozies in front of her. She'd faced down worse things before in her life; a bunch of colourful cloth squares was not going to daunt her now. Her wand hand was shaky, though, which was slightly disconcerting, as she was generally known in her small circle of friends (mostly comprising of her six brothers) for having impeccable aim. She closed one eye and imagined that the closest tea cozy - which was blue and had a pattern of daisies on it - was actually a bloated, slightly purple face that remarkably resembled that of her boss -
A neat hole sizzled in the middle of the blue tea cosy, and it levitated for another split second before flopping lifelessly to the ground. Take that! Ginny's lips curved upwards in triumph, and she aimed her wand at the next cozy, blasting a hole in that as well. The silly things scattered and dove behind toasters and plate racks for cover - Ginny quite easily located them, however, and with a small flick of her wrist forced them to float back into the air above her head. Allowing herself a small smile (and a quick glance into the living room) she made the cozies spin in circle formation, and blew holes in each one by one.
As soon as the last tea cosy had fallen to the tiled floor of the small, dusty kitchen, she heard a plea for help.
"Let that be a lesson to you all," she muttered to the quilted squares, before darting into the living room. "Dean?"
Ginny looked wildly around for the source of the agonized moan. "Dean? Where are you?"
Alarming. Ginny was still trying to locate Dean's voice - was it coming from upstairs? She paused, waiting, and before long she heard him cry out again - "Shit, Ginny, it's EATING ME!!" - Ginny winced and decided, yes, it definitely was coming from the second floor of the house - she wasted no more time and set off at a hurried pace, kicking a rather ugly brown beanbag out of her way as she dashed up the stairs, two at a time.
Ginny reached the landing and heard a racket issuing from the room at the end of the hall, accompanied by a feeble sort of 'help me...' so she ran towards it, kicking the door open. In the middle of the threadbare room was a giant white futon, folded in half - in alarm she noted the hand that stuck out from between the snapping ends of the futon, gripping a wand that she recognized as Dean's.
It really was eating him, she thought, partially stunned, partially fascinated - but duty (and common sense) kicked in and Ginny jumped forward, brandishing her own wand. The futon snapped open and shut again, allowing her a glimpse of Dean's face, contorted in pain.
"Dean! Hang on! I'll get you out of there!"
"Hurry..." was the weak response.
She was halfway through muttering 'Reducto!' again when she realised blasting a hole in the futon could possibly mean blasting a hole through Dean as well. Ginny hesitated, wincing as the futon made a sinister creaking sound - Ok, she thought, trying to remember to breathe, better plan needed...think, Ginny, think!
"What am I supposed to do??" she wailed in despair, ducking as a spring dislodged itself from the futon and hit the wall behind her. They'd never taught her how to stop a mad futon from eating one's co-worker in school! This was a disaster. A DISASTER.
"GINNY, TELL PARVATI I LOVE HER -"
"-AND THAT I REALLY WANTED TO MARRY HER -"
Focus, damnit! Ginny bit her lip, panicking, racking her brain for a solution. She couldn't let Dean die like this. Not like this, not eaten alive by a FUTON, of all things. No, she just couldn't -
"-AND THAT MY LAST THOUGHTS WERE OF HER BEAUTIFUL FACE -"
"AND TELL HER IT WASN'T NEVILLE WHO BROKE HER GRANDMOTHER'S VASE, IT WAS ME - OW!"
The futon stopped clanking in mid-air, and fell with a loud crash of metal on wood. Ginny cursed violently and rushed forward, falling to her knees beside it. She used her hands to pry the ends, and pushed and pushed, but it wouldn't come apart.
"Dean!" she shouted in alarm, "Dean, can you hear me?!"
There was a pause.
Oh, THANK MERLIN .
"Yes, it's me -" she breathed in shaky relief, "Are you -are you alright?"
His voice was muffled, but intact. "I - I dunno... I can't feel my legs..."
She grabbed his hand, still visibly sticking out from the top of the tangled mass of metal and mattress. Thank goodness Dean was a wizard - a normal Muggle would have surely been killed by such an ordeal. Ginny shuddered and cast those thoughts aside. "I'm holding your hand, Dean, can you feel my fingers?"
"Erm - I think so..." he said, his voice trembling. "Oh god, I think I can feel my foot wrapped around my neck -"
"-Can you try pushing?" she asked loudly, letting go of his hand.
"With what?" he asked hysterically in return.
She cussed, got back on her feet, and kicked the futon in frustration.
"Sorry," she said, wincing. "Listen, Dean, I'm going to get you out of there - just - just... stay calm, all right? You'll be okay, I promise, I just need to figure out how to get this... this thing apart -"
"Okay," came Dean's muffled reply. He paused. Then, in an agonized voice that made Ginny's chest wring, "- Can I just say that this is the worse pain I have ever felt in my entire life? I think my spleen is digging into my heart."
OK, not reassuring information. Think. Think. You can do this.
"...Ginny?" Panic. "Are you still there?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed hurriedly, belatedly realizing that she'd fallen silent while frantically thinking. "I'm here - don't worry, I'll get you out -"
There was a long, dreadful silence. Dean cleared his throat - or, rather, she thought he did, though it was hard to tell if the sounds coming from the dented futon were human or not - and she expected him to speak.
"If I die, will you exact revenge on Botham for me?"
Ginny couldn't help it - she laughed, although it was short-lived and cruel. Botham was to blame for all this - Mallory Botham, head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office, lazy, fat, purple-faced excuse for a human being, who dumped all the work on Ginny and Dean while he spent hours in his office, doing Merlin knows what. Plucking his nose hairs, maybe, she thought in disgust. He was supposed to be supervising this raid - of course, per usual, he'd not even shown up for it - forcing Ginny and Dean to go on with the plans without him (not that they weren't used to that) and ending up in this awful predicament. Ginny cursed the heavens above. If life were fair, it would have been Botham inside that bloody futon instead of poor, mild-mannered Dean. (If life were good, it would have killed him off and they'd get a new, nicer boss.)
"I will," she promised, only two-thirds serious. Ginny briefly imagined scooping out Botham's eyeballs with a rusty spoon and felt better.
"I think maybe I should go to St. Mungo's," said Dean's muffled voice, rather strangely magnanimous. Perhaps he was delirious with pain, thought Ginny worriedly.
"Dean, St. Mungo's is miles away from here," she said, biting her lip. "And there isn't a Floo grate in this place, I can't -"
"I think I can still Apparate," he said slowly, pronouncing each word carefully. Ginny pressed her ear to the side of the futon to hear him.
Apparating. Her worst nightmare. Ginny couldn't Apparate.Well, technically she could, she had a license, but she didn't want to.
"You can stay," he offered. Dean understood. She felt vaguely ashamed that he had to be sympathetic while squashed up inside a dysfunctional piece of Muggle furniture, and made up her mind not to be a wimp.
"Okay," she said bravely, screwing her eyes shut, and gripping the metal frame of the futon with both hands, brushing Dean's hand with her fingertips. She swallowed a huge, hard lump that had grown in the back of her throat. "Here goes..."
It took ten Healers and their assistant staff to carry the futon with Dean inside of it from the reception area (where they had pretty much crash landed - Ginny was too relieved that she'd made it in one piece to complain about lacking entry finesse) to the inner wards of the ground level -Artifact Accidents - and into a room that Ginny wasn't allowed to enter. She stood outside of it, however, and listened as worrying noises were emitted through the door.
Eventually, one of the Healers came out and told her that Dean would be fine, they'd magically sawed the futon in half and released him - after a couple of re-inflating spells and some much needed salve, he was well on his way to recovery (and sleep).
"He'll be fine in a week," the Healer warmly reassured her.
She sighed in relief and peeked inside the room to see Dean, peacefully sleeping in a bed in the corner. Thank Merlin, she thought before using the public Floo grates to return to the Ministry of Magic, in a terrible mood.
Ginny fumed all through the lift ride to the second Level of the Ministry, and knocked over a few surprised Aurors in her path as she pushed past their sea of seemingly endless cubicles. She stormed into the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, no longer the shabby, one-room bureau Arthur Weasley had once occupied. Since the appointment of Amelia Bones as Minister of Magic five years ago, and the promotion of Arthur to Senior Assistant, the department had expanded to three personnel instead of two(not counting the recently retired Perkins), and had been granted a bigger office (two, to be exact, Botham got the private room, Ginny and Dean shared the main one), as well as a bigger budget and some windows (finally!). This was wise, however, as the rate of Muggle mistreatment had only increased after the defeat of Voldemort - the Death Eaters had disbanded, with theirmost potent members locked away in Azkaban for life, so the remaining scum at the bottom of the pond had resorted to other forms of entertainment. Life had improved as a whole for everyone, however; now that the Dark Lord was gone, but there still wasn't total peace. No, far from it.
After his defeat, the Wizarding world had been left in shambles, and there were few left with enough energy to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, great wizards like Albus Dumbledore had survived the war, and with his ever-helpful guidance, things had begun to improve, slowly but steady. First Hogwarts was opened to all who wished to return to school (for many students had had to abandon their studies to participate as soldiers against the common evil), and then the rest of the community had to be reinstated. People didn't quite trust each other at first - like Dumbledore had once said, Voldemort's greatest gift was his ability to spread chaos and discord - so trust, most vital of all, had to forged between young and old alike. Times went by, and with the introduction of a new Minister, a new set of policies and laws, even a new outlook on life - things progressed. The Wizarding world stabilized itself, and today it had become similar to what it had been like before the rise of Voldemort.
Still, a lot had changed - things that couldn't be fixed. Lives had been lost. Ginny could reel off in her head the list of names that had made it onto the casualty list, names that had once been people she'd known in the flesh. The thought was saddening, so she avoiding thinking about it. Her only consolation lay in the knowledge that their deaths had not been wasted - Voldemort had been slain, many lives had been spared through their loss. It was, in a perhaps rather morbid sense, a fair trade.
The office was exactly how they'd left it - covered in maps and paper airplane memos, mostly from her father, who'd offered much advice about raiding Muggle homes for charmed objects. Ginny had been slightly averse to following his input, since she'd witnessed his arrival home in a state of cheerful disarray often times. (Arthur Weasley loved Muggles so much that he never complained about being mostly covered in burns or injuries.)
The door to Botham's office was still closed - Ginny seethed, slamming her things onto her desk and flopping heavily into her seat. The big fat idiot probably hadn't moved all day. It still bewildered her, how a man like Mallory Botham, who lacked both skill and intelligence, had managed to secure the position of department head. Granted, he'd been working in the Ministry for well over two decades, but argh! There were so many more talented, better suited candidates for his job, all of whom Ginny would gladly work under without complaint.
But nooooo, her father had to promote Botham, of all people, to take over his place. It boggled her mind ceaselessly. She noted that she would have to have a word with him about his alarming lapse of character judgment.
Ginny squared her shoulders and glared at the closed door. The glazed glass window with its shiny bronze plaque - Mallory Botham, it read in handsome engraved block letters - offended her immensely, and it took a lot of effort for Ginny to force herself to look down at her paperwork. She still had to record what they'd found in the Muggle home, and make note of what was left to collect. She sighed, thinking of the work that lay ahead - in the midst of Dean's situation, Ginny had forgotten most of standard protocol, so a return to the raid location was inevitable.
She uncorked her ink bottle, picked up a luxury quill Hermione Granger had bought her for her 21st birthday, and began writing out a detailed report of what had happened that morning. As if Botham cared. She doubted he would even read it. Hell, he hadn't even noticed she'd returned - or that Dean hadn't - and she'd be damned if she brought that to his attention. Her only peace at work depended on Botham's level of awareness of others around him - which, thankfully, wasn't very high.
She was halfway done when a cheerful voice bade her hello from the door of the office. Dennis Creevey poked his fair head into the room and grinned at her.
Ginny threw him her most exasperated, annoyed stare.
Dennis took a step back. "Whoa... what happened to you?"
He regretted asking that question later, after Ginny had launched into detailed, angry rant about Botham, mad futons, reports, overtime and stupid Window Maintenance, always giving their department cloudy weather - she pointed at the window to her right - always! Dennis looked quite terrified but knew better than to even attempt to cut her off in the middle of her shouting. That would entail bodily harm, and he was enjoying his day too much to take that risk.
"Wait... where's Dean?" he asked, screwing up his face in concentration as he tried to follow.
Ginny glared at him. "St. Mungo's. The futon got him."
(That sentence made it to the desks of at least thirty different Ministry wizards within five minutes of Dennis returning to his own desk in the form of interdepartmental memos. By four o'clock that afternoon the entire Ministry was buzzing about how Dean Thomas had sacrificed himself in the line of duty, and was currently in St. Mungo's, sporting two lost limbs and possible gangrene of his stumps. One airplane memo even hit Ginny in the back of the head on its way to Botham's desk - why anyone felt the need to tell him was beyond her comprehension - but she was too aggravated to care.)
She was hoping to finish her report before the day ended - Ginny badly wanted to go home, drop everything, and pass out on her bed - but even those hopes were dashed by the opening of Botham's door. He came out, in all his purple-faced, gooseflesh glory, and addressed her in his typical, overbearing fashion.
"Weasley!" he barked rudely, stomping over to her desk. Ginny bit down on her tongue and fought the urge to gouge out his eyeballs again. "Where's your report? I want it on my desk -"
Ginny stood up and thrust the roll of parchment she'd been slaving over for the last hour at him. He blinked and took it, sneering. Then, with a nasty gleam in his eye, "I didn't mean this."
She stared at him, and forced herself to speak evenly. "What report did you mean, then, sir?"
"The one on those charmed Toasters - where the hell did Thomas go? Skivving off work, is he?"
Ginny's jaw fell open. "But that report isn't mine! You told Dean to do it yesterday, and I haven't -"
"I need it today," he repeated.
You arrogant, unbearable, incompetent jerk -
"Yes, sir," she said, exhaling shakily. "Dean is in St. Mungo's, by the way. He got hurt on our raid this morning."
"Did he?" sneered Botham, turning around and walking back into his office. "I suppose the Muggles were too much for him to handle, is that it?"
With forks , she thought viciously, as the door slammed shut again. Sharp, rusting forks. Up his giant, disgusting nostrils.
She finished the second bloody report around eight, and by that time the Ministry was pretty much deserted - aside from the Aurors, who worked night and day, it seemed. Ginny waved at Kingsley Shacklebolt as she passed through the cubicles, and he waved his thermos of coffee at her in return. She was exhausted and in a hugely bad mood.
Clutching a rather threadbare Muggle coat she'd brought in that morning, Ginny left the Ministry buildings and wandered into the thick of London. In dismay, she noticed that the calm dark skies that she'd seen outside the windows in her office had been a product of Window Maintenance's fancy - it was actually raining now. Hard.
She cussed under her breath and hurried down the busy street, trying not to glare at the lucky passersby clutching their umbrellas. After heading a couple of blocks west, Ginny turned into a small street and slowed down as she reached a small shop at the very end of it. By this point she was sopping wet and miserable, and wanted more than ever to get home and sleep.
A little wrought iron sign hung just above the door, reading "Barclay's Groceries and Dairy" in rusted red paint. Rows of fruit lined the front window; an elderly man was standing in front of it holding an apple and an orange in each hand, apparently comparing the two. Pulling her Muggle coat tighter around herself to fend off a chilly wind that had picked up, Ginny hurried inside the shop, feeling around in her purse for money.
A bell chimed as she entered. The shop was small and cluttered, but there was a sort of order to it that made the place feel homey and welcoming. Several scents mingled in the air, there were only a few other people inside, not counting the boy who worked there, stacking cans onto a top shelf to Ginny's right. She felt a bit guilty, standing on the polished floor, dripping a monstrous puddle.
Vaguely she wondered how Dean was doing (Maybe I should owl Parvati... someone had to have informed her by now, hadn't they? Lavender worked in St. Mungo's, after all. Ginny made a mental note to send Pigwidgeon off as soon as she got home, just in case) and felt slightly guilty that he was in St. Mungo's all alone. Sighing, she wandered down the aisle, picking items off the shelves mindlessly. Flour, eggs, baking soda. Bread. Had she tea, still? She couldn't remember - so she picked up a bag of imported jasmine tea (a treat, but it wouldn't do to suddenly discover they were out of tea - Ginny thrived on it.)
A small, plump woman entered the shop from a door behind the front counter. She broke into a wide smile. "Ginny! How are you, dear?"
"Good evening, ma'am," replied Ginny, smiling at the friendly shopkeeper in her flowered apron. "How's business?"
"Oh, you know, the usual - Clive's been working so hard on the back, we're extending the dairy section, dear, it's ever so exciting-" She paused, and addressed the adolescent boy, "Thomas, ring up the customers, will you? Thank you, dear - anyway, what were you looking for?"
"A few things," said Ginny, "Soap and something for my fireplace, it's horribly ashy and sooty, I promised my brother I'd clean it."
"We have just the thing," shrilled Mrs. Barclay, taking Ginny's arm in hers, "I know exactly what you need, dear - oh, watch your foot - Clive again! I've told him so many times, don't you leave your things lying around, people are going to trip and hurt themselves! He always says that people aren't blind, and besides, the insurance will cover it, but paint me green and call me a pickle, I don't trust those insurance companies! I mean, what sort of business is that? Giving people money? It's all a scam, dear, I remember when Mr. Herbet - he lives just upstairs, you know - fell and broke his hip on the stairs - they didn't give him a penny! Terrible, that was, and he'd been paying for insurance for years, he told us, but there was a cluster or summat in the paperwork, something about accidents -so not a knu-penny!"
Ginny nodded and pretended to be politely interested in what Mrs. Barclay was telling her - a young (and rather handsome) man standing by a rack of spices caught her eye and smiled at her. Ginny was only mildly taken aback; she quickly recovered and smiled at him, pretending to roll her eyes at the shopkeeper's back, as though to say, honestly, I'm just her customer. He grinned in sympathy. The entire exchange was done in absolute silence, and as Mrs. Barclay steered Ginny into a different aisle, one that led to the back of the shop, she broke eye contact with the man.
"... like I was telling Clive, we don't need any special shelving, I mean, what's wrong with double grommets? They're good enough, and it's not like we get many people asking for fertilizer..." Her voice trailed off, and she turned to beam at Ginny, lifting a curtain that led into a small, dark corridor. "Right, dear, is it Floo powder you need? I think we just got a new order of that in last week, there should be plenty on the second shelf -"
Ginny nodded her thanks, and opened the door at the end of the corridor, to reveal what looked like another shop, only this one was hidden, dimly lit by levitating candles, and had rows of shelves filled with Wizarding items instead of regular groceries.
"Hello, Clive," said Ginny, taking a box of Floo Powder off a shelf and greeting the middle-aged wizard behind the counter. He seemed to be rolling up Knuts. "I hear you're renovating."
"That's just a story we tell the Muggles," replied Clive, his eyes twinkling, "None of them give you any trouble today, did they, Miss?"
Ginny thought of Dean and winced. "Not particularly," she said, shaking her head at Clive's questioning glance. "Can I get some All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover, too, please? Crookshanks made a big mess on Ron's bed. We don't know why it won't come out in the wash... "
Clive chuckled and retrieved some of the cleaning potion from beneath the counter.
"Will that be all, Miss?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you."
"You be getting home through the Floo, Miss?" asked Clive conversationally, gesturing at the fireplace.
Ginny nodded as he rang up her things. She plunked down a handful of Galleons (and winced, thinking that was the last of this month's pay - fortunately it was the 25th) to pay for it all. Clive thanked her and put all her things into a big paper bag, which Ginny hefted up onto her hip, balancing it against her purse. She walked over to the fireplace in the corner, and glanced at the sign.
"Floo Service: Three Sickles per use. Provide correct change (no Knuts, please)."
Fumbling in her pockets, Ginny located three Sickles and shoved them into the slot next to the grate, and there was the sound of a lock being opened. A small wooden door opened in the wall, and she reached in to take a handful of Floo powder from the silver tin. Ginny clambered inside the fireplace, pushing a wet lock of hair off her forehead.
"105 Lamport Block," she said loudly, clutching her bags as the green flames swallowed her up.
Ginny stumbled out of the fireplace in her flat minutes later, coughing, feeling damp and sooty at the same time. It was a rather disgusting mix of sensations. Shower, she thought, then bed. A nice, long bubble bath sounded nice, anyway. She trudged into the kitchen, and dumped the bag of groceries on the table. It was partially sopping, just from contact with her wet clothing. Ginny sighed and gingerly peeled off the Mugglecoat, tossing it into a basket in the hall.
A piece of parchment stuck to the stair banister caught her eye. Over at Hermione's for dinner! Don't stay up waiting! - Ron
Ginny rolled her eyes at the note, ripped it off the banister and crumpled it into her palm. As usual, she'd been abandoned again. Sometimes she wondered why Ron didn't just move in with Hermione - they spent so much of their time over at her flat it was as though he lived there anyway. But she supposed that was the whole point of sharing a flat with Ron: she'd agreed because she'd known it would mean lots of time and space to herself, practically like having her own flat. Ron had quite clearly informed her from the start that this arrangement made it easier for him to - ahem - spend quality time with Hermione without Mrs. Weasley meddling (or knowing) too much about the limits of their relationship.
Try as much as she might, Ginny could not push back the wave of emotion that welled up in her stomach. She sat gingerly down on the sofa in the living room and looked around at her surroundings.
The room was dark, long shadows fell across the cream walls upon which hung framed portraits of Ginny, Ron, and their friends - mostly ones of her brother and his girlfriend - Ron and Hermione on vacation, Ron and Hermione visiting Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione after one of Ron's games. A Muggle radio and a television set sat in the corner of the room, but were rarely used. They were really just there for show, in case the landlord decided to pay a visit. No one in the neighbourhood suspected that the friendly redhead and his sister on the second floor were anything but a budding journalist (Ginny snorted at Ron's choice of false profession - he hadn't picked up a quill for a couple of years now) and a student researcher finishing up her degree.
The photographs in particular made her feel uneasy. The flat seemed to be a reflection of Ron, not her. She had made few decisions when it came to decorating - Hermione had taken care of most of that - and even after they'd settled in, Ginny had never quite come to thinking of the flat as home (that word was reserved for the Burrow, even if she wouldn't admit it to anyone but herself). There was so much Ron and Hermione in the flat. Not that it bothered her to see them happy together - no, absolutely not, Ginny was thrilled on their behalf - it simply made her ache, sometimes, when she remembered that she didn't have what they had.
In a nutshell, Ginny was lonely. She hadn't been in a relationship for two years now. Three.The last had been with a wizard she'd met in her first year working at the Ministry, and even he was with someone, as far as she knew. Most of the people she'd known from Hogwarts were either married or hugely successful by now - at twenty-one, Ginny was still alone and working under an incompetent, arrogant fool of a man. She felt the beginnings of a self-loathing mood gnaw at her insides.
Why am I always by myself? Why don't I have someone, too?
There was nothing wrong with that, though - Ginny was independent. She didn't need a man to survive, she could fend for herself perfectly fine, thank you very much.
A loud knock broke into her thoughts, and she jumped, startled by the sudden noise. Someone was at the door. Immediately she stood up, alert. It was late - who could be calling at this time?
Maybe it was Ron. She frowned, though. He rarely forgot his keys, and almost never came through the front door. He could Apparate. They only made it a point to leave through the front door every now and then to refrain from making the neighbours suspicious - the first two weeks after they'd moved in neither Ron nor Ginny had realised this, causing a bit of a wave of gossip. They'd learned their lesson, however.
She stood up and wandered cautiously down the hall, slipping her hand into pocket and fingering her wand. Don't be silly, she told herself. It's not like there are still Death Eaters on the loose, looking for victims. Ginny was still wary, though - it was hard to shake years of mental training, of constant vigilance. She approached the door slowly, keeping her hand in her pocket.
A shadowy figure lingered outside the small window in the door, but it was too dark for her to be able to distinguish if it were Ron or not. She wondered briefly if turning on a light now was wise - Oh, what the hell. She pulled her wand out and whispered, "Lumos!"
The head in the window turned sharply towards the light that emanated from her wand tip. Ginny cursed softly, and hesitated - something about the dark shape of the figure reminded her of something - rather, someone, though she couldn't place him or her. Him, she thought as she came closer, definitely a him. Who, though?
There was really only one way to find out. With a slightly shaky hand, Ginny reached for the doorknob, and turned the little bar. It made a small click, and the door creaked open slowly.
Ginny squinted at the man on her doorstep. Not Ron, no. Too short to be Ron, and a little too thin as well. Strangely familiar, particularly his hair - she could see the outline of a dark cowlick, begging to be brushed back. Ginny blinked, and her heart raced as the possibility sprung to her mind. Impossible - could - could it -?
She lifted her wand to his face, and felt her heart leap into her throat.
"Hullo Ginny," said Harry Potter, breaking into a wide smile.