Harry awoke late
the next morning. Seamus, Dean and Neville were nowhere to be
found; apparently they had left for breakfast without bothering to wake
him. He stumbled groggily to the bathroom, where he managed to shower,
dress, and brush his teeth in less than ten minutes. He was surprised
to find that, like his dormitory, the common room was also deserted.
Hermione and Ginny were usually waiting for Ron and him by the time
they made it down the stairs. Disgruntled, he wondered if they had
decided to visit Ron in the infirmary without him. It was only then
that he remembered the events of the prior evening.
moaned and dropped his head into his hands. As he paced around the
common room, he entertained thoughts of returning to his bed and
pulling the covers over his head until the next 36 hours had passed.
Based on the previous night's example, he was willing to believe he had
managed to flub the potion somehow. He seemed to be the last
person Ginny was romantically interested in. Colin and Dean, however,
would apparently pass the examination with flying colors, had Ginny
drunk their potion.
What if the potion made her fall in love with everyone but me? Harry wondered, on the verge of panic. No, that's impossible. I know
I brewed that potion properly. It probably just hadn't time to take
effect last night. This morning will be different, I'll
bet. And Snape should be at breakfast. He'll be able to
witness the potion's effects, give me my grade, and then I can hide until this is all over.
Or not, a voice deep inside him said. After all, how bad can it be? Who wouldn’t enjoy having a girl fall all over him? Especially one as pretty as Ginny.
tried to bury that thought as deeply as he possibly could. Ginny was
his friend, one of his closest, next to Ron and Hermione. It would be
wrong to take advantage of the current situation. On the other hand,
his future depended upon passing this examination, and he wouldn’t be
able to pass by avoiding Ginny. After steeling his resolve, Harry
stepped through the portrait hole and sprinted towards the Great Hall.
He arrived to find that Neville had taken Ron's usual seat next to
Hermione, but Harry's place next to Ginny was still open. He
walked up and stood next to her expectantly. When she didn't seem to
notice him, he cleared his throat.
"Good morning," he said in what he hoped was a normal voice.
Harry," Ginny chorused along with Hermione and Neville. She didn't even
bother to pause as she buttered a slice of perfectly golden brown
toast. When Harry still didn't sit, she glanced up at him. "You need an
invitation, or something?" she asked, nodding her head at his customary
Harry was rapidly growing tired of flushing around Ginny
Weasley. "'Course not," he mumbled, and slid into the seat next to her.
Ginny polished off her toast then began to butter the
remaining slice on her plate. This slice, however, she handed to
"Thanks," he said, surprised. He began munching on the
toast as he looked around to see if Professor Snape had noticed the
exchange. He hadn't. Instead, he appeared to be deeply
engrossed in conversation with Professor Dumbledore.
made a waving motion with her hand and replied, "Don't mention it. You
were running so late this morning; I reckoned if I didn't save you
something, you’d go hungry. You can have that bit of bacon, too.
What kept you, anyway?"
"I, uh, just overslept is all," Harry explained, hoping he sounded nonchalant. Now this is more like it, he thought as he finished the toast and reached for a piece of the bacon Ginny had saved for him. I knew that potion was bound to work, eventually.
Ginny teased, laughing. "I always thought Ron was responsible for
your being late to breakfast in the mornings. Here it turns out
the problem lies with you. Oh, before I forget," Ginny braced a hand
against Harry's forearm as she leaned down to retrieve the rucksack she
had tucked under the bench, "Colin and I sketched out a few ideas for
some new plays during practice last night. I wanted to show them to
Ginny pulled several parchments from her bag and passed
them over to Harry, moving closer to look on with him as he read over
her notes. Harry found himself extremely conscious of the faint
pressure of Ginny’s shoulder where she leaned against his arm, and a
faint aroma of strawberries wafted under his nose. Rather than perusing
the parchments before him, he found himself wondering whether the scent
was in her shampoo or her perfume. He became vaguely aware that she had
reached across to point out a particular sketch on the parchment and
was speaking to him about it. When he failed to respond she lightly
touched his arm to gain his attention.
"Harry? What do you think?" she asked.
"Delicious," Harry mumbled unintentionally.
looked up from her parchments in surprise. "What did you say?" she
asked. The corners of her mouth tilted upwards in the beginnings of a
faint smile, and her eyes sparkled with humor.
"Um, I meant the plays. They're...delicious. Muggle slang," Harry explained sheepishly.
smile seemed to fade slightly. "Oh,” she said, nodding. "I
haven't heard that one before. I'll have to remember to tell Dad."
Harry glanced across the table to find Hermione looking at him strangely. She arched one eyebrow at him and mouthed, "Delicious?"
Harry merely shrugged before turning his attention back to Ginny.
"So, they're good, then?" she asked as she glanced up at him. “The plays, I mean.”
didn’t seem to be conscious of the fact that her hand was still resting
upon Harry's forearm; she had squeezed gently as she had asked his
opinion. Harry's mouth went dry, and he quickly looked back down
at the parchments to study them more closely. He was surprised and
delighted to find that, indeed, they were very good.
"Ginny, these are great! Did you really just write these up last night?"
"Well, yes, but I've been working them out in my head for a while," she answered, blushing at the praise.
I haven't seen her do that since she was in third year, Harry thought. She's even prettier when she blushes.
"They're great," he repeated stupidly, floundering for something else to say. "We should use them in the game Saturday."
"Oh, but Harry we haven't practiced these," Ginny protested. "And you haven't seen this part."
touched her wand to the topmost parchment, which caused several of the
marks representing the players to float upwards into the air, swirling
about one another in perfect imitation of Quidditch players swooping
and diving over the pitch. As he watched, a crimson-colored "G"
maneuvered over one mark then under another, while a "Q" bobbed back
and forth between it and two other marks. Harry followed the movements
"I think we can do it, Ginny. I'll book
the pitch for an extra hour today and tomorrow," Harry decided. Ginny
groaned in response.
"The rest team will be positively thrilled about that," she said sarcastically.
"They will if they want to win," Harry retorted.
“Just don’t tell them the extra practice is my fault. I’ll never hear the end of it,” Ginny grumbled.
her complaints, Harry could tell she was happy. Her smile had widened
once more, and he basked in the pleasure of having Ginny’s attention
focused solely upon him. He knew that his face had probably bloomed red
once more, but at the moment, he didn’t care. He felt a warm sensation
wash over him, beginning at the very spot where her hand rested upon
his arm. When he glanced down, he marveled at how small her hand was,
noticing the lack of polish the other girls seemed so fond of. Even
Hermione’s nails were usually coated with a pale pink color. Ginny’s
nails were bare and trimmed short, and her fingers were callused from
hours of practice with the Quaffle. Unthinking, Harry reached to cover
her hand with his own, but at that moment the warning bell for their
first lesson sounded. Ginny flicked her wand at the parchment,
and the letters fell back to their places immediately. When she shifted
away from Harry, her hand fell away from him, leaving him with the odd
feeling that something was missing. She slipped off of the bench and
bent down to retrieve her rucksack.
"Damn! I should have left
five minutes ago, Harry," Ginny fretted as she straightened once more.
"Trelawney predicted yesterday that I’d be late for Divination, and I
make it a point never to prove her right."
Harry stood, too, leaving the rest of his breakfast untouched. "I'll walk with you."
Ginny looked at him strangely. "Harry, don't be silly. You have Herbology in Greenhouse 3. You'd never make it on time."
"Professor Sprout won't mind," Harry assured her. "I wanted to ask you about that second maneuver. We can talk on the way."
"Ready, Ginny?" a new voice asked.
Harry swung around to find Colin Creevey waiting nearby.
"Sure Colin,” Ginny replied cheerily. “Let's go."
"But, Ginny..." Harry began.
can talk later, Harry, perhaps at lunch?” Without waiting for an
answer, Ginny turned and hurried off with Colin, calling back over her
shoulder, “See you then!"
Harry watched them go, gritting his
teeth when he saw Ginny slip her arm into the crook of Colin's elbow.
When they finally disappeared through the doors of the Great Hall, he
turned to find Hermione had also stood and was waiting for him across
the table. Harry gathered his own rucksack and nodded towards the
doors, where he met Hermione moments later. She paused to wait for him
to open the door, but he hesitated.
"Is something wrong, Harry?" she asked.
Harry replied shortly. Hermione wrinkled her brow in apparent
disbelief, but he changed the subject abruptly. “Did you, um, notice
anything different about Ginny this morning?"
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked cautiously.
Harry glanced around to see if anyone was listening. "I mean, was she behaving any differently? Towards me?" Harry explained.
pondered her answer for a moment, and then