Ron was waiting for him in the common room. "What did she say?"
"I couldn't get anything out of her, but she said she'd try to keep the giggling down," Harry allowed. "Why aren't you studying?"
"I couldn't concentrate. Wanna play some wizard's chess?"
"Actually, that sounds great."
Ginny had joined Hermione as soon as Harry left. Harry's stomach knot had returned, but faded as the chess game went on. After about three games, the girls joined Harry and Ron in the common room.
"Hey Ron, I need to ask you a favor," Hermione stated as calmly as she could. "I need you to come help me do some shopping in Diagon Alley."
"Alright. We all going, then?" Ron replied.
"Nope, just the two of us."
Ron stopped and looked at Hermione. She looked back at him as seriously as she could. He looked at Harry, who was starting intently at the chessboard. He looked at Ginny. She looked at Ron, then at the door, then back to Ron.
"Oh," Ron said tentatively "Um, alright then. Ginny, you want to take over for me?"
Wow, Ron really is starting to catch on to things, Harry thought. "Yeah, sure," Ginny replied. The knot in Harry's stomach returned as Ron stood up, and Ginny sat in his place.
"Well, we'll be back in an hour or so, I suppose. See you two."
"Bye," Harry and Ginny said together, waving Ron and Hermione out the door.
They sat in silence for a few minutes before Harry said, "Oh, sorry, your move, Ginny."
Ginny made her move, and then said, "So what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Huh?" Harry managed.
"Hermione said you wanted to talk to me. She arranged this time for us so we could talk."
"Oh, yeah. Nice of her to do that," Harry said. Ginny nodded in agreement.
Harry took a deep breath. He was getting good at that. "Why don't we sit on the couch?"
"Okay," Ginny agreed, and they sat on the couch by the fireplace next to each other.
Harry couldn't look at Ginny, he was too embarrassed. He could feel his cheeks getting red, and his heart was beating wildly. Why was he so flustered? What's the worst that could happen? Sorry Harry, but I'm over you, you know? So what if she was? He had to know.
Harry looked down at his hands in his lap and said, "I have a confession to make."
"Oh? What horrible sin have you committed?" she said impishly.
They both laughed. Harry relaxed a little and said, "We've know each other what, five years? Six, if you count the time I saw you at my first time at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters?" Ginny smiled and nodded. "Back then, you were Ron's little sister. Then, after our experiences the following years, you became a friend. You were there with us all along the way, even when I went charging into the Ministry."
Ginny nodded patiently and Harry continued. "Something has happened recently, Ginny. I don't know exactly when it happened, but it did. I've started thinking that I might like to get to know you better, you see? You know... as more than just friends."
Harry listened for some indication that she had heard him and, when he got none, looked up at Ginny. She was staring intently down at her hands, blushing wildly. He had never noticed how irresistibly cute her freckles were, or how her hair shone radiantly, red as fire. She was beautiful, and he could be honest with himself about that.
"I think you're beautiful, Ginny," Harry said, looking right at her. "You're all I've been thinking about since I got here. Truth be told, I think I've always had feelings for you, but I've just never had the courage to tell you... until now."
Ginny looked up slowly. Tears were trickling gently down her cheeks. She was so beautiful. "I'm sorry, Ginny, I didn't mean to make you cry. Forgive me..." He had hurt her feelings, just as he feared. Looking down at his hands a panicky feeling overcame him and he knew what was coming next. Steeling his resolve, he resigned himself to hear it.
"Oh Harry," Ginny said suddenly as she leaned over and hugged him. Startled, Harry opened his arms and hugged back. What was she doing? What did this mean? Harry waited a while. After what seemed like an hour, Ginny said, "Don't apologize. You've done nothing wrong. I'm just... happy..."
Happy? Harry brought Ginny up out of the hug and held her hands in his. "What are you saying, Ginny?"
Ginny wiped away a tear. "Remember when Hermione said I was over you?" Harry nodded. "It's not true. I told her that, but I realize now that I wasn't being honest with myself." She looked at Harry and smiled, then looked back down at their hands.
They sat that way for several minutes, neither saying anything. Harry's heart was still beating rapidly and his arms were covered in goose bumps. Ginny continued to wipe away tears in between occasional sniffles.
"So what do we do now?" Harry asked.
Ginny looked up slowly and stared Harry in the eye. He had never seen a girl look at him that way and though he thought he had wanted someone to, he never thought it would be Ginny. Now faced with her beaming smile, he was happy that it was.
"Something I've always wanted to," Ginny replied. She leaned over to him, her lips moving towards his, her eyes closing as she approached. Their lips met. Harry let go of her hands and put them around her waist. Ginny followed suit, placing her arms around his neck. They moved closer together, making the most of their first kiss. Harry relished in the moment, and then tentatively moved his tongue to Ginny's lips. She welcomed his efforts, and their kiss became even more passionate, more loving. Finally, after several minutes, they came up for air, and Ginny threw her arms around Harry's waist and snuggling her head into his chest.
Harry reclined back, and they lay there holding each other. For the first time, Harry felt truly content. He felt happier than he thought he would ever be able to. "Does this mean I'm your boyfriend?" he asked.
"It better!" she said authoritatively. Giggling, she said, "Of course it does, silly, and I'm your girlfriend, and don't you forget it!" They both laughed.
Harry hesitated to bring up his next thoughts, but he knew he had to. "Ginny, now that we're together, I have to talk to you about something."
Ginny sighed. "You're worried about Voldemort, aren't you?"
"How did you know?"
Ginny looked up at him. "I've been having nightmares, Harry. Ever since I discovered what the diary was. Voldemort used me to get to you. I couldn't imagine what would happen if I got my wish and we got together. That's the reason I stayed away from you."
Harry felt somewhat ashamed of himself. He hadn't thought Ginny would worry about such things, but now reminded himself that she, too, had come face to face with Voldemort. In fact, he had almost killed her.
"And now you're not afraid?" Harry asked.
"No, Harry, I'm still afraid. But I made up my mind that I had to wait for you to make the first move, no matter what my feelings were. I couldn't tell you how I felt, knowing what Voldemort was capable of. So I let you go, and went on with my life, but continued to hope that one day... and, well... here we are!"
Harry gave her waist a squeeze. "Here we are indeed." Ginny smiled.
Something popped into Harry's head. "By the way, why were you and Hermione always giggling?"
"Oh, that, well, Hermione and I talk about everything, and she and I were talking about how things might be if you and I and she and Ron ever got together."
Hermione and Ron? Merlin's beard... "Hermione likes Ron?"
Ginny gave Harry a 'duh' look. "Well, yeah, didn't she tell you?"
Ginny covered her mouth in shock. "Oh no! Harry, you can NOT tell her I told you that! She would kill me!"
Harry laughed. "There's no way I'd let that little secret slide. Although...." Harry got a devilish look on his face that Ginny noticed right away.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Ginny asked.
"It seems only fair. After all, if Hermione hadn't taken care of Ron this afternoon, we wouldn't have had this wonderful opportunity to, uh, talk."
Ginny laughed, rubbing her hands together. "So how are we going to do this?"