Disclaimer : I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Did you know? - that those who spend their time protecting others are the ones that really need someone to protect them? - Author Unknown
Harry and Dudley watched the Weasleys until they were out of sight before turning to enter the house. The camaraderie of the afternoon faded fast, and a tense, awkward silence fell between them. They reverted to their old familiar roles and regarded each other with distrust. Harry felt that he didn’t need any help getting to his room, and he wasn’t entirely certain Dudley would really help him if he needed it, anyway. More likely, he’d either let him fall or push him down the stairs himself.
It was very strange having spent the afternoon with Dudley and the Weasleys. His two worlds had never willingly done anything together before this. It was the best time he and Dudley had ever spent together. It made Harry wonder, if Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon hadn’t been so opposed to magic, if he and Dudley could have grown up as friends. He shook his head, silently berating himself, Dumbledore’s words filling his mind, ‘best not to dwell on dreams.’ He wasn’t certain what to make of Dudley’s new attitude, but he could see how Bill’s tricks on his parents would amuse Dudley, who had spent a lifetime tormenting others.
Harry had reached the top of the stairs when a wave of dizziness overtook him. He blanched while groping for the railing and would have fallen if Dudley hadn’t grabbed him from behind. He stiffened in his cousin’s hold, but grudgingly accepted that he did need the assistance. He gritted his teeth as he allowed Dudley to steer him to his room.
Dudley helped him to his bed, where he sank gratefully into the soft fluffiness of the feather mattress. Bill really had done a nice job with his room; Aunt Petunia be damned. “Thanks,” he muttered to his cousin.
After laying Harry down, Dudley didn’t rush from the room like he usually did. He stood still in the center, looking around and inspecting all the changes. He stuck out his hand and touched the rich material of the comforter on Harry’s bed. “Where did the other stuff go?” he finally asked.
Harry shrugged. “This is all the same stuff; it’s just been transfigured into something else.”
Dudley knitted his brow, seeming to consider this carefully; it looked like it was a lot of work for him. Harry was surprised he hadn’t already bolted from the room. “That girl – Ginny…” Dudley finally said.
Harry tensed his shoulders. “What about her?”
“She was the one kissing you at King’s Cross station. Is she your girlfriend?”
“Yeah.” Harry couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that he was having this conversation with Dudley; he was braced, waiting for the insults.
“And she’s your best mate’s sister?”
Harry knew there was a point in there somewhere, but, as yet, couldn’t make the connection. He was oddly reminded of trying to hold a conversation with Crabbe or Goyle. “Yeah,” he answered. “Ron’s been my friend since first year; I met both him and Ginny on the platform before we caught the train. Ginny’s in the year behind us.”
Dudley seemed to dismiss the added information and kept on with his line of questioning. “So, how did you end up dating her?”
How had he ended up dating Ginny? He didn’t think he really wanted to talk to Dudley long enough to explain that. “I dunno; it was a long time in coming, I suppose. There was a dance last year at school, and I asked her; we’ve been together ever since,” he said simply. He felt guilty about talking about Ginny in such simple terms; she meant so much more to him than that. She was his friend, his confidant, his lifeline, really. He never would have survived the past year without her; she gave him a reason to expect more from his own life. How was he supposed to relay that to anyone else, never mind to Dudley?
Dudley pulled out the chair to Harry’s desk and sat down, resting his elbows on his knees and leaning in closer to Harry, who had propped his pillows against the headboard of his bed. “Was Ron mad?” Dudley questioned, holding his breath, waiting for the answer.
Harry’s eyes widened in surprise. “Ron? Nah, I think he’d been pushing for it in his own way for a while. I was just too thick to pick up on it. Ginny’s whole family has been very good to me.”
The air seemed to deflate out of Dudley, and his head sunk nearly to his knees.
“What’s going on, Dudley? How come you’re asking me all this?” Harry asked, not able to let go of his suspicion.
Dudley sighed and locked his beady eyes on Harry. “There’s this girl,” he muttered. “She’s…different.”
Harry smiled. This was rich – his bully of a cousin was coming to him with his romantic troubles. No one had ever mistaken Harry as having a way with the ladies. Still, Dudley was obviously having a problem, and he wasn’t trying to blame Harry for it, which was a nice change. “Okay, so…does she like you, too, then?” he asked.
Dudley scowled, lifting his shoulders back up and narrowing his eyes menacingly. “I never said I liked her.”
“Dud, come on, you wouldn’t be sitting here talking about her with me if you didn’t like her.”
Dudley deflated again. “Yeah,” he sighed. “I think she likes me, too. That’s the problem.”
Harry was confused. “Why?”
Dudley narrowed his eyes again, looking Harry up and down appraisingly. “Why should I tell you?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Dudley, you’re the one in my room, bringing it up. Who is she?” he asked, trying to distract his obviously agitated cousin.
Dudley pursed his lips. “Her name is Veronica…Polkiss,” he sighed.
An image of a little girl with pigtails and a prominent overbite arose in Harry’s mind. “Piers’s sister?” he asked, remembering the trip he’d taken to the zoo with Dudley and Piers before his first year at Hogwarts.
“Right in one,” Dudley groaned. “Only, he hasn’t been pushing for us at all. In fact, he told me point blank not to think about it.”
Harry covered a snicker. He remembered Piers as a scrawny kid resembling a rat who always followed Dudley around, doing his bidding. He wondered how Piers had changed.
“Is she worth it?” Harry asked his cousin.
“Is she worth perhaps getting into a row with your mate over? If you make Veronica happy and do nothing to hurt her, Piers should come around.”
Dudley thought about it for a minute, but he didn’t answer. He got up, leaving the chair in the middle of the room. “Night, Harry.”
Harry watched him leave, feeling slightly disappointed that Dudley hadn’t answered. It was nearly dinnertime, but he figured Dobby would wake him to take his potions, and he could ask him for something to eat. With that thought, Harry snuggled down under the covers and easily fell asleep, unprepared for his dream-plagued night.
Harry found himself in a darkened corridor. It was cold, and, although there was no light, he knew he wasn’t alone. There was something hidden in the dark with him. His heart began pounding in his chest, and he started to move quickly down the corridor. His chest was tight, and he could hear a faint rustling behind him. He picked up speed and was soon sprinting as fast as his legs would carry him. He could hear the deep, rattling breath now. Dementors! There were Dementors here. He felt the chill and forced his legs to go faster, the panic beginning to overtake him. Suddenly, Hermione was with him, but her eyes were vacant as she walked beside him. He was running as fast as he could and breathing heavily, yet she continued her easy pace and stayed with him. She never once acknowledged his presence.
“Hermione,” he yelled, but no trace of recognition flashed in her eyes. Her expression was so…empty, so unlike Hermione. The Dementor was close now.
“Crucio,” Harry heard the curse but didn’t see who had aimed it at him. The flicker of stark, white mask appeared in the corner. He ducked and rolled on the ground, stopping only when his body collided painfully with something in his path.
“Ron,” he yelled, realizing it was his friend who lay spread-eagled on the floor. Ron had the same, vacant expression as Hermione, who was now nowhere to be found. “Ron,” he yelled again, shaking his friend’s shoulders. He could hear the rattling breath of the Dementor despite his own ragged breathing.
“Crucio,” he heard again, and he spun around towards the voice. There was no one there. He had to get out, had to get away. The walls were closing in, and he was trapped. Fighting against the helplessness, he turned back to Ron, but his friend was gone. He had to get out of here.
The sound of Jonathan’s voice filled the darkness as Harry tried to run faster than his legs would carry him. “Think of your loved ones, Harry, quickly, before you kill them all, and there is no one left.”
He slammed his hands over his ears…he didn’t want to hear this…he wouldn’t listen, and it would all go away. He could see someone in the distance, and he stopped short, noticing the flickering, red eyes. He didn’t want to go that way, but suddenly he couldn’t stop his body from moving in that direction. Hands appeared from the wall, pushing him, grabbing him and forcing him forward, towards the red eyes.
“Nooo,” Harry moaned, fighting desperately to try and get away. He was pushed past Ginny, who was sitting in a chair, her eyes staring vacantly ahead.
“Ginny,” he cried, “help me.”
She didn’t move, never even acknowledged he was there as the hands continued to force him down the corridor. He was panicked now, bile rising in his throat.
“No, stop,” he pleaded. “Please stop. Ginny. Ginny!”
“Harry, wake up. Come on, Harry, wake up now. It’s just a dream, luv.”
Harry opened his eyes in a panic and pulled away from whomever was shaking him. He scooted away and drew his knees up to huddle in the corner. His heart beat a furious rhythm in his chest, and he was panting, trying to refill his lungs as his body trembled uncontrollably. Panic seemed to overwhelm him as his mind flashed on a cold, closed-in space that he equated with complete helplessness . No! Don’t think about that. The light, where is the light? I need the light.
“Take it easy, Harry. I’m right here; you’re not alone.”
Harry clenched his eyes shut tight, fighting back the memories the dream inspired. The room was bright, the light was on, and he was okay. He felt gentle fingertips caressing his head, and he instantly recognized who was with him. At last, looking up into Ginny’s concerned brown eyes, he leaned his head towards her, and she cautiously moved onto the bed next to him. She continued whispering soothing words as she settled herself next to him.
“Ginny,” he finally choked out. “What are you doing here?”
She removed her hand from his hair and leaned over to look in his eyes. “I told you yesterday that I’d be back in the morning; I just got an early start. Are you all right? That sounded like a bad one.”
Harry’s body was still trembling, but it was becoming more manageable. He lifted her hand and placed it back in his hair as he leaned towards her. “I’m fine,” he mumbled, breathing deeply and settling his head on her lap, enjoying the warmth from her body.
Ginny lay with him quietly for several moments, continuing to stroke her fingers through his hair. In their few months together, she’d offered him more human contact than he’d ever experienced in his entire life prior to being with her. Now that he had it, he never wanted her to stop and found himself longing for her gentle caresses.
“You have the most beautiful eyelashes,” Ginny whispered, causing his eyes to fling open wide.
“What?” he asked.
“I love your eyelashes; they’re so long and beautiful,” she replied.
Harry felt nettled by this statement, but wasn’t certain why – his eyelashes were most certainly not beautiful. How in the world could eyelashes be beautiful, anyway? “Where is Bill?” he asked, not even realizing she’d successfully sidetracked him from dwelling on his dream.
“He wasn’t up yet when I got to Mrs. Figg’s house. I left a message for him to meet us here.”
“So…we’re alone here?” Harry asked, holding his breath hopefully. All day yesterday he’d wanted nothing more than to get to talk to her alone, but having her alone here in his bedroom was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Why, Mr. Potter,” she said, grinning as he sat up to look in her face. “Why do I think your thoughts have become rather impure?”
Harry blinked in mock innocence. “I can’t imagine,” he replied before pressing his lips to hers and softly running his tongue along her bottom lip.
Ginny wound her arms around his neck and pulled him tightly against her. She eagerly responded to his kisses and met his tongue with her own. His hands ran along the soft skin of her arms, and the fact that she was wearing only shorts and a T-shirt overrode all other thoughts in his mind. His kisses became more urgent and intense as he tugged her down to lie alongside him. Her ardor matched his own, and her hands caressed his bare chest. The heat from her touch startled him; he hadn’t even registered the fact that he was only wearing his pajama bottoms. The idea seemed almost indecent, yet excited him at the same time.
He wrapped his hands in her silky hair, letting the long tendrils pull through his fingertips. It was so beautiful and sinfully soft; there was something amazingly sensual about the feel of it on his bare skin. He wanted to think about her and only her, and not the nightmarish images threatening to overtake his consciousness.
Harry continued letting his hands explore and felt butterflies in his stomach as he reached the curve of her hip. He knew he should stop and slow things down, but he really didn’t want to slow down. Talking about whatever it was he’d wanted to talk to her about no longer seemed very important. He began to kiss her more urgently, wanting her as close to him as she could be.
“Harry.” It was Ginny who pulled back first and planted the palms of her hand firmly on his chest. She was panting heavily, and her lips were swollen with passion. “We need to slow this down.”
Harry took several deep breaths and struggled to get his own body and raging hormones back under control. Ginny was looking at him with a worried expression.
“Honestly, Harry, I’m glad you’re so happy to see me, but I can tell you’re not all right. I think you might be using me to block out some things you don’t want to think about.” The color was high on Ginny’s cheeks as she jerkily adjusted her shirt.
Her words were like an ice cold shower and caused his ire to rise sharply. “Well, excuse me for getting excited by waking up to find you in my bed.”
“Don’t get snarky with me, Harry. The only reason I was in your bed was that I walked in to find you screaming your lungs out.”
Harry’s anger was deflated by her words. He’d been screaming again; he’d have to remember to ask Bill to reinforce the Silencing Charm on his room before it wore off, and he woke the Dursleys.
“Harry,” Ginny said softly, “I think you need to talk about what’s been going on around here.”
“What is it with girls and talking?” he asked grumpily, settling his head back on her lap.
She smiled and ignored his pouting. “No one said we couldn’t both talk a bit and kiss a bit at the same time.”
He tried to stop the grin but failed, his agitation dissipating as she resumed running her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.
“Has your uncle been treating you all right?” she asked gently.
Although her query made him uncomfortable, her presence was soothing, and he found he didn’t mind talking to her about this as much as he did with other people. “He hasn’t been around much. I think he’s trying to avoid the whole situation.”
“I didn’t like seeing that cupboard yesterday. It made it all so much more real for me. I hate that you’ve had to live like this for so long,” she said in a very small voice, leaning over and kissing his forehead. “Did they always keep those locks on the door?”
Harry thought about it for a minute, trying to remember. “I think so. The first time I remember getting locked in there happened one night during a thunderstorm. I was four or five, and for some reason the thunder scared me, stupid, really. I ran up the stairs and lay down on the floor in their room, but I fell asleep. When Uncle Vernon got up for work in the morning, he tripped over me and fell on the floor. He was furious. He threw me in the cupboard and didn’t let me out for a few days. I don’t know why I always ran to their room, I was never allowed in. It was only thunder; I was just being stupid.”
“A lot of little kids are afraid of the thunder, Harry,” she said in a very strained voice.
He was stunned. “They are? But why? It can’t hurt you.”
Ginny wore a pained expression. “What do you mean, you always ran to their room?”
He shrugged, unsure why he was telling her all this. She seemed so eager to hear it, and if he told her about the past, she wasn’t asking any questions about how he was feeling in the present. “Nightmares aren’t a new thing with me; I’ve always been prone to them. When I was little, I had them a lot, usually involving a lot of green light, but I didn’t know what that meant at the time. After I had them, I used to try and sneak in their room; I don’t know why. Usually, they just sent me right back. After that thunderstorm, Uncle Vernon put the locks on the door, and they used them at night.”
“So, what happened when you had a nightmare after that?”
He shrugged again. “They went away eventually…until I went to Hogwarts,” he said, remembering terrified tears and banging on the cupboard door, begging to be let out. He never was.
“I’m sorry, Harry.”
He glanced sharply at her face, noting the trace of pity there and wanting none of it. His back stiffened as he said, “It was a long time ago.”
Ginny must have felt the response of his body, because she dropped the line of questioning. “Bill is coming over later to fix your aunt’s garden; that should get her off your back for a while.”
“Yeah. What do you think he’s planning next?” he asked, feeling rather apprehensive.
“I’m going to keep an eye on it, Harry, but you need to do your part, as well. If things are bad here, or worse than usual, anyway, you need to let us know. Bill would have stopped long ago if he knew how hard he was making it on you.”
Harry had become distracted by the lovely curve of her face as she scolded him. She wasn’t shouting, so it wasn’t difficult to tune out her words and focus on the prettiness of her face. She really was beautiful, and he wondered for the thousandth time what she saw in him.
As if noticing he wasn’t paying attention, Ginny grabbed his chin and forced him to look directly at her. “Exactly where are you, Mr. Potter?”
He reached out and lifted up a stray lock of her hair. “I was just thinking how pretty you looked.”
Ginny seemed taken aback by that statement. Her mouth opened and closed several times, but no sound came out.
He grinned and pulled her into another heated kiss. She didn’t pull back this time, but, instead, darted her own tongue out to force his lips apart. He gave in to the intensity yet again, and let his hand roam over the light cotton of her T-shirt. He heard her gasp as he reached the soft swell of her breast, but she didn’t tell him to stop, and he felt a thrill within his chest at the forbidden exploration.
A male voice from downstairs caused them to spring apart instantly. “Bill,” Ginny hissed as Harry stared helplessly at his rather obvious state of arousal.
Damn, she has too many brothers!
“I’ll be in the shower,” he mumbled, sprinting from the room and leaving Ginny to straighten the very rumpled bedcovers.
“Coward,” he heard her chuckle to his retreating back.
When he returned to his room after his shower, Ginny was still there, sitting at the desk and flipping through one of the ancient books of Old Magic. She’d tidied up for him and was swinging her leg impatiently.
“What took you so long?” she demanded, not looking up from the book. Despite the fact her hair was covering her face, he could swear she was smirking.
Harry turned to put his things away, a slight blush staining his cheeks. “Er…sorry, just…needed help waking up.” He leaned over to look at what she was reading and tried to change the subject. “Where is Bill?”
“He’s out in the yard fixing it up. I said I’d bring you down when you were ready. Dobby left your breakfast and some potions for you to take.”
Harry gulped the potions and grabbed some toast before they headed outside. Even though the heat at the early hour was already stifling, he shared a very pleasant day with Ginny. Bill had to go back to Grimmauld Place, so he left them on their own. They spent some time at the park and even saw Dudley briefly. Harry told her about his talk with Dudley the night before, and she offered to go on a double date with Dudley and Veronica. Harry had to shake his head at that, wondering if he’d woken up to the right life.
They wandered around Little Whinging, and Harry pointed out where he went to primary school and some of the local attractions. Ginny seemed to enjoy learning about his pre-Hogwarts life. He took any and all opportunities to hold her hand and steal kisses as they walked. He’d sent Hedwig to Gringotts and got some of his money exchanged for pounds, so he was able to take Ginny out for lunch. They went to a local hamburger shop, and, as they were sitting here, Harry realized it was their first “official” date. He knew there were Order members around somewhere keeping an eye on him, but it was the first time he’d got to take Ginny out somewhere alone and treat her. It seemed very important to him, somehow. All in all, it was the most enjoyable time he’d ever spent on Privet Drive, and he was sorry to see it end. He walked her back to Mrs. Figg’s so she could use the Floo to return to the Burrow, and she promised she’d be back as soon as she could. Ron would be coming in a few days.
He kissed her goodbye with a heavy heart and trudged back to the Dursleys’. The gloom that had been weighing down his heart returned as he climbed the stairs and shut his door. Despite his pleasure with the new décor of his room, being shut in anywhere lately left him feeling trapped and claustrophobic. He opened the window wide and stuck his head out, breathing in the warm, evening air. He rubbed his hand through his hair in agitation, making it stick out even more, and tried to do some homework.
The next several days were long and boring for Harry. True to his word, Bill cleaned up the Dursleys’ house and yard properly and cast no more spells. His presence, however, was near constant, and the guards from the Order were plainly visible. Order members converged on the porch, roamed the street in front of the house, and sat in the back yard – all without Invisibility Cloaks. Aunt Petunia was beside herself, yet neither she nor Uncle Vernon said a word to Harry. Since that first day of Bill ending his yard war, if the Dursleys so much as raised their voices towards Harry, there would be a knock on the door or a face in the window. The Order left no wiggle room within their demand that Harry be left alone; they would tolerate no mistreatment.
Harry got to see many faces he knew, including the twins, and some others he didn’t recognize. Fred and George were his favorite ‘minders,’ and they always entertained him. They were on their best behavior, although he could see them plotting with their eyes whenever one of the Dursleys showed their faces.
Harry was happy that they were keeping the Dursleys at bay, but, still, the tension was unbearable. Even Dudley had stopped trying to chat and pulled away. Harry’s nightmares were increasing in both frequency and intensity, and he rarely slept more than a few hours straight. As he went to bed at night, he no longer even attempted to put the light out. Bill hadn’t said anything about it since the first time, but he was certain he’d noticed. There were Order members on guard at night, as well, and Harry was certain that they must have seen the light burning continually. He needed the window wide open, as well; otherwise, he felt too enclosed. Aunt Petunia set her mouth in a grim line, but said nothing. She always hated leaving the windows open at night.
One night, Harry had dreamed about Jonathan, probably because he’d been spending so much time on the ancient books, hoping they’d find a spell soon to end this one way or another. He really didn’t want to live this way anymore. Thinking about Jonathan always brought him back to his time at Malfoy Manor, something on which he definitely didn’t want his thoughts to dwell. He tried to stop the thoughts altogether, but found it increasingly difficult to do. Little things – a phrase, a picture of a sword, Brussels sprouts – brought his mind right to Jonathan. Harry had been exposed to AvadaKedavra before, of course, but never while being so aware of what was happening. With Cedric, it was so fast and so sudden, the pain in his head so intense, he’d never really had time to think about it. With Jonathan, as soon as Voldemort had uttered those words, he’d seen the brilliant green light and felt his head burst with agony – he had known what was coming. He had known it and had just watched it happen. That thought nagged at him. He’d just watched it happen…
Harry was startled out of his morose thoughts by a hard shaking of his shoulder. “Harry, snap out of it, mate.”
Dazed, he looked up into the concerned eyes of his first friend. “Ron,” he said in confusion. “Where did you come from?”
“Harry, Dad told you all about that last term,” Ron said, sniggering.
Harry cuffed Ron lightly upside the head. “Prat,” he grumbled. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to spend the day with you. So, what are we going to do?”
Harry shrugged, trying to think of something Ron would enjoy. “I dunno; there isn’t much to do around here.”
“Well, what did you and Ginny do the other day when she visited?” Ron asked, and Harry felt his face burn brightly. He turned away from Ron and tried to think fast.
“Urgh,” Ron said. “That’s my sister you’re thinking about when your face turns that color, Potter. Watch it. I don’t want to know what you two did.”
“I know,” Harry exclaimed suddenly. “Want to watch the telly?”
“The what?” Ron asked in confusion.
“Come on,” Harry said as he led Ron downstairs, excited about getting to show Ron something new for a change. “The Dursleys don’t usually let me watch it, but they haven’t even spoken to me since the last time you were here, so I don’t think they’ll say anything.” Even if they did, Harry was feeling slightly rebellious and wanted to push his luck.
Sitting in the den, he flipped on one of Dursleys’ many televisions and handed Ron the remote, showing him how it worked.
“This is brilliant,” Ron said, his mouth dropping open in wonder at the images flashing before him.
Harry grinned, pleased that he had found something Ron enjoyed. “Dudley has a bunch of video games you’d probably like, too, but I don’t know where he is. He’s been avoiding me again, so don’t count on it.”
Ron narrowed his eyes and studied his friend. “Everything all right here, mate?”
“The usual. They’re a bit stressed by all the ‘freaks in plain sight’,” Harry said, doing a fair impression of Aunt Petunia’s shrill voice.
They watched the telly for a while, both of them spending longer than necessary ogling the women in the ads where Ron tended to pause. Harry had no idea how many ads of women running in bathing suits there were on the telly. The Dursleys rarely let him watch any; no wonder Dudley spent so much time staring at the telly. Harry was amused to note that Ron got extremely hungry every time there was an ad for food during a program they watched. They kept Dobby busy getting snacks before Harry brought up the subject of Ron’s failed Apparation test. Ron scowled, but remained silent.
“We could work on it together, if you’d like,” Harry offered. “I’ve still got a month before I can officially sit for mine.”
“Whatever,” Ron said, shrugging.
“Apparating takes a lot of concentration, and it’s hard to block everything else out sometimes,” Harry said quietly, his heart beating very fast. They were straying into territory Harry didn’t want to talk about, either, but he did want to help Ron if he could. Ron had certainly been there for him enough over the years.
“Who are you now, Hermione?” Ron snapped, crossing his arms over his chest and sinking lower into his chair.
Harry swallowed, squelching his angry retort. “Hermione means well, she just sometimes doesn’t know when to stop pushing.”
Ron grunted noncommittally. Harry sighed as he stared at Ron for a moment. There was an edge to him that was new and hard to pinpoint exactly. There was a definite attitude coming from him, one that would certainly set Aunt Petunia’s tongue to clucking. As he studied his best friend, Harry thought Ron’s choice in best friends was interesting; he and Hermione were very different, but they both got on well with Ron.
Hermione’s analytical mind connected with Ron’s strategic side. If there was a problem Ron was interested in and wanted to figure out, like a chess game or a Quiddtich match, he could be as great a thinker as Hermione. She was just more polished and took everything to an extra level. Hermione was passionate about a lot of things, especially school and learning, where Ron kept his select few close to his heart.
Harry connected with Ron more on his emotional side, with quick tempers and a love of adventure. Harry marveled again how lucky he was that Ron had stumbled into his car on the Hogwarts Express on that day, so long ago now.
“She’s really miffed at me for failing the test,” Ron said, sighing.
“She’ll help you if you ask her. She’s worried about you, mate.”
“I know. I wish she’d stop, though. I’m okay. I just don’t want to keep talking about it.”
Harry knew that feeling. “Yeah…it’s hard enough thinking about it, never mind talking about it, too.”
“Exactly! Everyone keeps saying there was nothing else I could do, and I know that, but…”
“But your insides are still all twisted up, no matter what your head knows is true, and talking about it only makes you want to throw up,” Harry finished.
Ron sighed. “How are you doing, Harry?”
The words ‘I’m fine’ were on the tip of Harry’s tongue, but as he looked into Ron’s troubled gaze, he changed his mind. “About the same as you. I can’t wait to get out of here.”
“We’re working on that. Mum’s hounding Dumbledore daily.”
“How is she?” Ginny had told him about Percy’s engagement.
“She shouts a lot, but she’s hanging in there. She ranted at the twins for two solid hours when she found out about the scene they made at Percy’s engagement party. You could tell she was pleased with them, though. Did Ginny tell you about it?”
“She said they got themselves dates who were invited to the party.”
“Yeah, and during Fudge’s speech about welcoming Percy to the family and the importance of sticking together in these trying times, they charmed all the balloons in the room to flash pictures of all the Weasleys. Told Percy that since he thought family was so important, they figured he might like some reminders of his own family before they Disapparated out of there. Bill said the whole Ministry was talking about it next day. I’d give a hundred Galleons to have seen the look on Percy’s face. Mum was sad, but she was proud of the twins, anyway. I just wish she’d stop hovering.”
“She’s worried about you.”
“She’s worried about both of us. I wish she’d stop.”
Harry nodded, but remained silent. In truth, he thought it was kind of nice she included him in her worries, but would never say that out loud.
He and Ron spent the day watching and making fun of the things on the telly. When they got tired of that, they took the football to the park again. Ron even consented to practice Apparating. He only managed a few very short distances, but it was something, nonetheless, and he seemed pleased. It was too hot to stay outside for long, but Ron cast the Cooling Charms again while they ate the lunch Dobby had packed for them. Being seventeen certainly had its advantages. Harry only had to wait until the end of the month, and then his life would yet again change forever. He’d finally be free of the Dursleys…that alone would be worth it.
A/N: Okay, I let Harry and Ginny get a little carried away here. I hadn’t really intended that, but Harry hadn’t been cooperating with me at all as I was writing this, and I figured that after all I’d put him through, I owed him one, lol! Besides, I was listening to Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game at the time, and that song…you know? He really behaved himself much more afterwards as well. ;)
Thanks so much to Mistral for all the help and beta work. She even passed last weeks update along since she’d be away during Thanksgiving. Thanks, Mistral!
I’ll be in Disney World until the 7 th , so next weeks update may not be there on Friday. I’ll do my best.