Harry's eyes snapped open on Saturday morning. A mixture of nervousness and excitement coursed through his system. He couldn't decide whether he was going to throw up or jump out of his skin in anticipation. He glanced out the window to see the sun beginning to rise, its pink rays lighting up the land in what promised to be a perfect day. Perfect, except for the fact that Harry already felt his heart attempting to leap from his chest. He shut his eyes, hoping he could burrow his way back under the covers for a few more minutes of precious sleep, but thoughts of Ginny Weasley would not allow him to rest.
Harry felt his cheeks redden at the mere idea of being with the younger girl all day. He remembered with almost frightening clarity the way her lips felt pressed against his two days ago and wondered if she had also given their kiss anymore thought.
Judging by her reaction yesterday after Gryffindor won their first Quidditch match of the year, Harry gathered she did indeed remember it.
Gryffindor was ahead of Slytherin, 100 to 30, when the Snitch peeked into view. After Harry's hand closed around the winged ball and he landed on the Quidditch pitch, he looked around for a team member to share the glory of their win with him. The first person to reach Harry was Ginny. Without realizing how he got there, Harry found himself pressed close to her. He breathed in deeply and the scent of her hair captivated him; it smelled of autumn sunshine and pine. Her body was lined up along his, causing an almost immediate physical reaction that left Harry feeling the injustice of being a sixteen-year-old boy. Ginny, it seemed, was aware of his problem and she pulled away from him, blushing profusely, her gaze resting on his lips.
Harry felt an unwelcome blush creep up on his own cheeks, both at the thought of his hard to conceal affection and at her eyes focusing on his mouth. Instantly, Harry was breathing fast and it had nothing to do with the finished Quidditch match. He was only distracted from her when the rest of their team, along with Ginny's older twin brothers, Fred and George, rushed over to hug and congratulate them.
He had no chance to be alone with her for the rest of Friday, which was perfectly okay with Harry. He wasn't sure if he trusted himself not to jump on her had they been left alone. Not to mention the fact that his mind would not allow him to form a single coherent sentence around her. Basically, Harry would have attacked her without warning. She should count her blessings no one thought to stick them in a corner together. It was decidedly enough torture spending time with Fred and George after Ron told them (loudly) that he had interrupted Harry and Ginny having an intimate "chat" after practice.
Today was going to be just as bad. Even now, at least three hours before the trip into Hogsmeade, his heart was thumping loudly in his chest. Briefly, Harry wondered if the sound would wake up the others in his dormitory.
To take his mind of the impending outing (which he wasn't sure even counted as such, considering Neville and Luna were joining them), Harry climbed out of bed, threw on his robes and hurried out to the Quidditch pitch (something he was technically not allowed to do alone). After flying for two hours and taking a (cold) shower, Harry headed back to his dormitory to change and face the day.
"Do you think I ought'a wear my dress robes?" Ron stood in front of the mirror, clutching faded black robes in one hand and formal blue in the other. His bright red hair stood up flat in the back, reminding Harry of a six-year-old.
The other boys in the room, all sitting on their beds in various states of dress, looked at Ron as if he had sprouted a new head. "Are you going to a ball?" inquired Dean Thomas as he laced up his shoes.
"No, but my school robes are all faded and worn." Ron frowned as he held the black robes in front of his chest. "I think my dress robes would look better. I've only worn them once, over the summer. I should get some use out of them."
"Ron," Harry's voice was muffled as he pulled a T-shirt over his head. When he emerged his inky black hair stuck out in more disarray than usual. His green eyes met Ron's blue in the mirror. "I hardly think Hermione is going to care whether you wear dress robes. She won't be wearing hers." Harry kept his eyes trained on himself in the mirror, smoothing his hair down.
At the mention of Hermione's name, Ron turned a distinct shade of red and looked away from Harry. "Yeah, okay. No dress robes then." Even though he still looked torn, the red head slipped his black Hogwarts robes over his head. He sat down on his four - poster bed and began tying his trainers.
"Harry," Neville called as he was heading out the door, "I'm going to breakfast. What time do you want to get going?"
"I dunno…" replied Harry distractedly, still staring in the mirror, trying to flatten his hair. "Just after breakfast I guess. I'll be down in a minute to eat and then we can head out."
"Alright. Sounds good." Neville disappeared through the door.
Dean and Seamus soon left the room after Neville, leaving Harry alone with a rather frantic Ron. "Harry, are you sure this looks okay?" he asked doubtfully, going once again to stand in front of the mirror.
"Yeah, Ron, it looks fine. Don't worry. It's just Hermione." Harry stood to pull on his robes.
The other boy snorted. "Just Hermione, right." He watched Harry walk over to the mirror. "Why do you care what you look like, then?"
Startled, Harry glanced away from the mirror. "I...I don't care." He failed at sounding casual, his voice going higher than usual. Harry started walking to the door. "C'mon, let's go."
Ron smirked but remained silent on the way downstairs.
When the boys entered the common room, they saw Hermione waiting impatiently by the door. "Are you two ready to eat?"
"Yeah. I'm starved."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "When are you not, Ron?" she said sharply, but her smile belied the cutting tone of her voice.
"Should we wait for Ginny?" asked Harry, attempting to sound nonchalant.
Hermione grinned at him in a way that made Harry quite uncomfortable. "No, Ginny said she wasn't hungry. She'll be down a little later, when breakfast is over."
Harry tried not to let his disappointment show. "Okay…um...let's go then."
* * *
It was not yet eight and Ginny had already been awake for over two hours, on a Saturday, something that was usually unheard of. Try as she might, Ginny could not convince her mind to shut down and forget that she was going to Hogsmeade with Harry Potter.
HARRY POTTER. Okay, Gin, you need to relax, she scolded herself silently for the umpteenth time that morning. It wasn't as if she would be alone with Harry; Neville and Luna would be with them, so there was absolutely no reason to be excited. Besides, she told herself logically, he probably doesn't even want to be with us. Ginny assumed hewasonly going with her, Neville and Luna so that Ron and Hermione could be alone. Never mind the fact that he kissed you… or that little incident yesterday after the Quidditch game. The important thing is to treat him like a friend. Just a friend who smells good and has gorgeous, soft, messy hair and whose lips…aaahhh! Stop. No more!
Ginny rolled over onto her stomach and pressed her face into her pillow, praying for a few more minutes of unconsciousness, but to no avail. Harry Potter would not let her rest.
Giving up on sleep, she slid out of bed and went to shower. When Ginny came back to her dormitory, it was in total disarray. The four other girls in her class had managed to fling every article of clothing out of their trunks and onto their beds, their nightstands, and their chairs. Not a single piece of furniture had been spared. Ginny picked her way over the debris; her stomach shaking as the time for Hogsmeade drew closer. She made her way over to her four-poster when a knock at the door drew her attention. A head of brown bushy hair peeked into the room.
"Hey there." Hermione smiled warily at the roomful of girls, all in various states of dress, all frantically searching for the perfect outfit for Hogsmeade. The older girl's eyes found Ginny. "Gin, I'm going to breakfast if you want to head down with me."
Ginny opened her mouth to answer when Amelia, a voluble blond, interrupted. "No, Ginny's not ready to go to breakfast just yet." She grinned cheekily. "Miss Ginny Weasley is going to Hogsmeade with Mr. Harry Potter and…"
Ginny flushed and didn't meet Hermione's eye. "Amelia, I am not going with him," she hissed. All the commotion had stopped and every eye was turned on the blushing red head.
Amelia frowned. "But, you told me you were going with him."
"She is," Emily, another friend of Ginny, chimed in a singsong voice.
"Well, yes. But it's not like I'm going with him. Neville and Luna will be there also." Ginny turned toward her bed in an effort to hide her flaming face, under the pretense of trying to find something to wear.
"So…" Emily lips curved in a smile. "You'll be there and he'll be there. That sounds like you're going to Hogsmeade with him." The raven-haired girl picked up her brush and ran it lovingly through her hair.
Hermione spoke up, a look of confusion etched upon her face. "What does Ginny going to Hogsmeade with Harry have to do with breakfast?"
Amelia gazed at Hermione in amazement. "She can't go looking like that." She flung a hand at Ginny.
Ginny bristled. "What's wrong with how I look?"
Amelia gave her a patronizing smile. "Nothing dear, but we should do your hair…. and put a little make-up on you, unless you're actually notgoing to town."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Amelia."
"Of course it is. Now sit!" Roughly, she pushed Ginny into a nearby chair, while Emily pointed her wand at Ginny's head.
Hermione gave the reluctant model a sympathetic look. "Well, I'll just tell them to wait for you, then. See you later." She disappeared into the hall.
Ginny sighed resignedly and let Amelia and Emily poke and prod her. When they were finished scrutinizing her, Amelia held a hand mirror in front of Ginny's face. She felt her stomach drop. "Uh uh. No way am I going to Hogsmeade looking like this." Ginny put the mirror on her lap and glared at the girls before her.
Amelia pouted. "Ginny, you must go. You look radiant."
"Yeah, Ginny, Harry won't know what hit him. You're gorgeous," simpered Emily. She turned to the mirror, as if the discussion were over, and started clipping her hair back.
Ginny looked into the mirror again; her own brown eyes stared back from a mass of curly hair. "I can't go down there like this." Her heart started pounding in her chest. "Look at me!" she demanded shrilly. Both girls turned blank faces toward her. "I look like I'm going to the Yule Ball. My hair…and my face…oh no, oh no…what's he going to think?"
"Hey, you there, girl freaking out. Relax! You look perfect. Anyway, he's going to think you like him-" (Ginny shook her head from side to side.) "-which you do." Amelia smiled slyly at Ginny. "Now, just go to the Great Hall. He's probably waiting for you." She paused at the murderous look in Ginny's eye. "Okay, listen. Put on your school robes, it'll balance out your look."
"Really, Ginny, you should be thanking us. You look really pretty." Emily met her eyes in the mirror; she was applying a large goopy amount of eye make-up. "You are, of course, always pretty. But now you look smashing. The longer you're up here, the more suspicious you seem. Just go!"
Ginny huffed as she dragged a set of school robes out of her trunk. It was a faded set that had once belonged to Fred (which explained the scorch marks), the most worn set she had. She shot the two girls a look of malevolence, which they both met with sweet smiles, as she stalked out of the room.
Making her way toward the Great Hall, Ginny was struck by another fit of nerves. Please, she prayed, don't let him notice the make up, or the earrings, or the fact that my hair is curly. She willed her cheeks to stay white.
When Ginny stepped into the Great Hall, she felt her cheeks heat. She cursed her traitor blood. Was it too much to ask it to stay away from her cheeks for five minutes?
Just as she had decided to turn back, Harry looked up. Even from the door she could see his eyes widen behind his glasses to the size of Galleons and his lips drop open. Ginny paused, wondering if it was too late to back out of the day trip to the village. Realizing she had no choice but to enter the Hall, she plastered a smile on her face and headed over to Gryffindor's table.
* * *
Harry was having a hard time swallowing his food for a couple reasons. The first was sitting in front of him. Ron and Hermione, in an unprecedented display of mushiness, sat across from each other, making googily eyes; both had flushed cheeks and dreamy smiles glued to their faces. Harry was pretty positive that if he looked under the table he would see them playing footsie. The thought made him rather sick to his stomach.
The second reason he couldn't get food from his mouth to his stomach was up in Gryffindor tower. Was she nervous? Probably not, he thought miserably. She didn't even want to eat. She probably was putting off having to spend time with him. Maybe he would do her a favor and skip out; go practice Quidditch or get his Potion's essay written.
Just then, a red head entered the Great Hall. Oh…my, what did she do to her hair? And her face? Harry could see sparkles in her ears from across the hall. On Parvati or Lavender make-up and primping always looked ridiculous, but on Ginny it looked… amazing. His mouth fell open as he stared at her and he forgot how to close it.
As she walked over to the table, his pulse quickened and Harry dropped his eyes to his plate of half eaten eggs, struggling to think of something to say.
Neville noticed Ginny. "Hey Ginny. Are you ready to go? Wow, you look really pretty."
Ginny smiled nervously. "Th – Thanks Neville. Um…Amelia and Emily were experimenting and they…they needed a dummy."
"They got the right girl then." Ron grinned at Ginny.
"Ron!" Hermione admonished, reaching across the table to swat him on the arm.
"Ha ha, Ron." Ginny shot him a look. She turned to Neville and Harry. "Are we ready to go?" She seemed impatient to leave the Great Hall.
"Yeah, I am," Neville said. "I'll go get Luna. Sit down. Do y'want to eat something before we go?" (Ginny made a derisive noise.) Neville looked at Harry. "Are you done? You didn't eat very much."
Harry looked up from his plate. He was feeling light-headed. "I'm finished. We can go whenever." He avoided looking at Ginny.
Neville walked over to Ravenclaw, heading toward the end of the table, where Luna sat by herself; she was reading the November issue of The Quibbler. The four remaining Gryffindors looked at one another. Ron was looking excitedly from Harry to Ginny; he opened his mouth (clearly to inflict torture) when Hermione leaned across the table and took his hand.
"Are you ready to get going?" She stood up quickly, giving Ron a tight, warning smile.
Ron swiftly shut his mouth. "Yeah…yeah, let's go."
"We'll see you later today." Hermione gave Harry and Ginny a wave. "Maybe at The Three Broomsticks or somewhere. Have fun." She looked at Ron. "Where do you want to go first?"
His reply was immediate. "Zonkos. And then Honeydukes."
Hermione frowned as they walked away. "What about Scrivenshaft's? There are some things I need from there. And I haven't been to the bookstore all year. Plus there's…" Her voice faded away.
Harry looked at Ginny, who seemed to find a spot on the table suddenly interesting. Harry studied her from under his lashes; her cheeks sparkled with silver glitter and her lips were stained pink. Ginny looked up from the table and caught him staring. Their eyes met. Harry felt his cheeks brighten, but could not find enough will to pull his gaze away from her…he had never noticed how dark her eyes were…
"Harry?! Harry?" Neville's voice startled him. "You okay?"
"What? Oh, yeah, I'm fine." Harry smiled feebly at the other boy and Luna, who was watching him curiously; her strange light eyes were twinkling. "Hey Luna, how're you?" he asked, standing up from the table.
"I'm well, thank you. How are you doing?"
"Er…fine, thanks." He shifted his weight uncomfortably from foot to foot.
"Well," came Ginny's voice. "Are we ready then?" Everyone nodded. "Okay, where do you want to go first?"
The foursome commenced walking out of the Great Hall and toward the front doors, discussing their route once they got to the all-wizarding village. The sun was bright and warm for November as they made their way through the tall pillars at the boundary of Hogwarts grounds. On the path to Hogsmeade, Harry thought of a place they could go. Cho liked it last year, so that probably meant that Ginny would like it. All girls liked hearts and flowers and stuff, right? Even Hermione sent Lockhart a Valentine in second year…and speaking of Valentines…didn't Ginny send him one once? That meant she was sure to like the teashop; she liked all that mushy stuff. He was willing to sit through an hour of misery if it meant Ginny would enjoy herself. Plus, Neville and Luna would be there, so there would be no pressure to kiss or anything…hmm…maybe he could find a way for Neville and Luna to leave…
He spoke up. "I...um...heard of this place we could try." They all looked expectantly at him. "Its called Madam Puddifoot's. They have coffee or tea and scones -." (Ginny grimaced and Harry immediately regretted the suggestion.) "- Or not. I…well, it doesn't matter." Maybe she didn't like it there. Oh no, maybe she's been there! Instantly, Harry felt a hot swoop of jealousy at the thought of another boy taking Ginny there…and holding her hand and kissing her…
"No." Luna's misty voice interrupted his thoughts. "I've never been there. Let's go. It'll be an adventure!" She grinned at the others, looking rather mad. They walked onto the main street of the village.
"Sure." Neville shrugged. "I've never heard of it. We can go."
Ginny gave a Harry a rather curious look, as he was something to be afraid of. "Okay," she agreed, smiling indifferently. "If you want. But can we go to Zonkos first? I promised George I'd get him some Dungbombs. I think he wants to test the competition and Dungbombs are usually gone by lunchtime when there are so many students here."
They all agreed to going to the joke shop. The village was crowded with students, taking a break from school. Kids were messing about outside; two third year Gryffindors ran passed the group, clearly excited to be out of school. A group of Hufflepuffs, all in last years D.A. (now an extracurricular club that Harry was in charge of, still affectionately known as Dumbledore's Army, but all involved were given extra-credit), were heading into Zonkos ahead of them.
"Hey, Harry," smiled Susan Bones as he walked in behind Ginny. "Hi Ginny, Neville and…er…Luna."
" ‘Lo," said Neville. They made their way into the shop, over to the shelves on the right.
"How are you all doing?" Ernie Macmillan walked over, his prefect badge gleaming. "Gorgeous day, isn't it? That was a very informative meeting you held last Wednesday, Potter." He smiled earnestly. "It helped me in my Defense class yesterday."
Harry saw Ginny turn away with a smile and start chatting animatedly with Neville, discussing how many Dungbombs to send the twins. "I'm glad it helped you, Ernie." Harry tore his eyes away from the red head to smile at Ernie. "Did alright with the incantation then, did you?"
"Yes, you really helped."
Justin Finch-Fletchley interrupted. "Great catch in your game yesterday, Harry. Always nice to see Slytherin lose." He grinned at Harry, and then at Ginny, who held a handful of Dungbombs. "You played really well, too. Nice scoring." His eyes held an appreciative glint Harry didn't like. He scooted closer to Ginny.
"Thanks." Ginny smiled at Justin. "But, we couldn't have won without Harry. He was fantastic, especially for not being in a game for over a year." Harry flushed from the compliment, trying not to grin stupidly from the praise. It didn't work.
Everyone nodded agreement.
"Well," Luna said vaguely at a lull in the conversation. She looked expectantly around. "Should we head out?"
"Yeah, let's go." Neville nodded his agreement.
"Let me run up to the counter and pay for these." Ginny held up her armful of Dungbombs and headed for the counter, which was littered with students.
Luna looked at the growing queue in front of the register. "I really need to go to the apothecary and pick up something for my father. I'll run to the post office and send him an owl after that. It shouldn't take long." She smiled at them. "I'll meet you lot at the tea shop."
"I'll go with you," Neville offered. "Harry, where is Madam Puddifoot's?"
Harry stared in mortification at Neville. He was supposed to be alone with Ginny? Alone…with Ginny? Even if only for a few moments, Harry was sure he would say something absurd.
"Um…Harry, you okay?" Neville looked worriedly at him.
"Wha –? Yeah! Yeah, I'm fine. Okay, you turn right out of here. It's the third street on the left. Down about two blocks. I'm not sure of the street name, but it's the one with the robe shop on the corner. You can't miss the shop; it's all lacy looking. I think it's on the right"
Luna peered suspiciously at him. "Lacy looking?"
"Yeah, y'know. There's lots of lace and bows and things."
"Okay, we'll see you there then." Luna started towards the door, followed closely by Neville. "Bye."
Harry watched despondently as they left, then slowly made his way to Ginny. * * *
Ginny stood in line at Zonkos, staring absently at the back of someone's head in line ahead of her. So far, so good, she thought. I haven't done anything terribly stupid yet (except, of course, wake up.) The line moved quickly. Once towards the front she glanced out the front window and saw Neville and Luna head up the street, in the opposite direction of Madam Puddifoot's. Panicking, she glanced frantically around the joke shop and saw Harry standing uncertainly a few feet away from her. Great, she thought miserably, they've left and Harry obviously doesn't want to be alone with me.
Harry looked up and saw her staring at him. He offered a feeble smile, which Ginny tried to return. She watched with guarded eyes as he stepped up next to her.
"Um…Luna..." His voice cracked (Ginny tried to smother a giggle, but the irritated look on his face told her she failed). He started over. "Luna had to go to the apothecary for her dad or something, so she and Neville are going to meet us there." Briefly, Harry met her eyes before coloring.
"Okay." Ginny moved her gaze away from him, back to the counter. There were only two people in front of her. "I'm almost done, then we can head over…if you want."
"Sure. I'll wait by the door, okay?"
"Of course." She tried to smile, but it slipped. Of course he was going to wait by the door. He didn't want to be here with her. That's probably why he suggested Madam Puddifoot's in the first place - that stupid, frilly teashop. Michael tried to take her there once last year. It had been awful; bows everywhere and people snogging at every table. What was Harry thinking? Unless he wanted to…no, if he wanted to do that he would not have suggested going there with Neville and Luna. More than likely he went there with Cho (I will not think mean thoughts about her… I will not think mean thoughts about her…), and now he wanted to check up on her…ugh - that was so typical. Men…they are just so predictab -.
"Just the Dungbombs then?" A nasally voice interrupted her train of thoughts.
"Oh, yeah. That's it, thanks." Ginny paid the woman behind the counter and went to meet Harry by the door. "I'm all set." She held up her bag. "Is there anything else you wanted to do before we go to the…um…the teashop." She tried to keep the scorn out of her voice.
"No, I don't need anything… We can go get a table or something." He held the door for her. "Last time I was there, almost every table was taken."
Ginny turned her scowl away from him. "Yeah, me too." Okay, buddy, I've been there too. I don't need you reminding me of all your kissing experience, which you were obviously lying about. Kissed Cho Chang once, yeah right! I've been kissed by you and you've obviously kissed her more than once.
She looked back at Harry to find him watching her with an odd expression on his face. "Um…Ginny -." (Briefly she met his eyes…his dark, green eyes…). Harry wiped his hands on his robes. "Who...um...who were you there with?"
"Oh!" Didn't he know? "I was there with Michael, once, last year. Actually it was last November. The first Hogsmeade weekend, after the D.A. meeting…" She trailed off at the look in Harry's eyes. Did he look jealous? "Why, who were you there with?" As if she didn't know.
"I was there with Cho last year…it was awful." He shut his mouth tightly, as if he hadn't meant that last bit to come out.
"Was it?" Ginny inquired. "Why did you want to go again?"
"Oh well..." He turned a bright (but becoming) shade of fuchsia. "I thought maybe, y'know, you might like it."
"Me?" Ginny tried not to let her pleasure show. "Oh well, I guess, it's okay. Why was it awful?" They turned left at the robe shop, their shoulders bumped and Ginny felt a shiver pass through her.
"She got really angry with me. Hermione said I handled the situation wrong, but Cho just went mad when I told her I had to meet Hermione later. Plus she wanted to talk about..." his voice dropped to a whisper. "...y'know...um Cedric." Ginny placed a hand on his upper arm. He faltered slightly. "Oh! And then everyone in there was …they were…"
"Snogging," Ginny offered, without thinking.
Harry looked sideways at her. She felt her face become warm and removed her hand from him. He smiled. "Yeah, that. So, it was really uncomfortable."
"Tell me about it."
Harry stopped at the entrance. "We don't have to go in, if you don't want. We could try and find the others and go to the Three Broomsticks."
"Well, we're already here. I can tough it out for a while. At least until they get here."
Harry stuck his hand out. "I'll be brave if you are."
She placed her hand in his; ignoring how warm and callused it felt; conscious only of her own Quidditch-callused fingers. "Deal!" She beamed at him and pumped his hand once, hard. Instead of letting go, however, his thumb started brushing the outside of her hand. Ginny felt the smile fall from her lips. She was staring into his impossibly green eyes…
"Ginny…I was -."
He was interrupted when the door to the teashop opened, bringing outside the smell of fresh coffee and biscuits. Two fourth years that Ginny recognized as Ravenclaws stepped outside, both looking very pink. They smiled briefly at Harry and Ginny before heading off down the road. Harry grabbed the door as it swung shut and held it open. "After you," he smiled.
Upon walking into the shop, Ginny stopped short. Of all the luck. Sitting at a table, in the far right hand corner, sat Michael Corner and Cho Chang, holding hands across the table and starring dreamily into one another's eyes. Harry, who clearly wasn't paying attention, ran smack into Ginny.
"Ooof!" Ginny fell forward slightly. She fixed a smile to her face and turned around. "Watch where you're going."
The corners of Harry's eyes crinkled. "Me? Maybe if you walk all the way into the shop I wouldn't have to ‘watch where I'm going.' What did you stop for anyway?"
Realizing she didn't want this to turn awkward, for him or her, Ginny hoped she could be casual. She smirked and kept eye contact with him. "You promised to be brave, remember?"
"Well, seeing as how I made that promise thirty seconds ago, I can safely say that yes, I remember."
"Okay, wise guy, behind me, sitting in a corner, making gooey eyes, is your ex-girlfriend and my ex-boyfriend." Ginny watched Harry's eyes travel behind her shoulder as the smile fell off his face. He stared for two seconds, and then a light came into his eyes. He looked back at Ginny.
"Do you want to have a little fun?"
Ginny eyed him warily. "That depends on what you mean by ‘a little fun'." She tried to keep a straight face, but found it difficult when Harry had a mischievous glint in his eye.
"Well, I was just thinking, until Neville and Luna get here, we could…" He colored a little. "Y'know…"
Oh yes, I do! "We could what?" she asked innocently.
Harry stepped closer. "We could…" He waggled his eyebrows. It took all of Ginny's self control not to burst out laughing.
"I'm afraid, Mr. Potter, you will need to explain to me what it is we're going to be doing. Do you want to start a food fight? Let off these Dungbombs? Run around the shop singing the Hogwarts theme song?"
Harry laughed. "Yes, all of those, at the same time."
Ginny pushed him playfully away from her. He reached up and grabbed her wrist. Ginny felt a now familiar thrill rush up her arm and down into the pit of her stomach. She marveled at the feelings he could cause in her just by grabbing her hand. "Well, then, I'm game." She smiled cheekily at him, trying to ignore her pounding heart. "But to be honest, I don't want to get my robes dirty so the food fight is out. Plus, I just bought these." She lifted up the Dungbombs in her free hand. "So, I don't think I want to let any of them off."
Harry opened his mouth to answer when they were interrupted.
"Two m'dears?" Madam Puddifoot was standing beside Harry and Ginny, a whimsical smile on her lips.
"Four, actually," replied Ginny, removing her arm from Harry's grasp.
"Follow me." The matron started walking toward the rear of the shop.
Ginny followed. "Oh, and Harry," she called over her shoulder. "I've heard you sing, so, I'm guessing the third option is out, too."
Harry sniggered behind her. "Watch it, Weasley; I've got a singing get well card that proves you don't have the voice of an angel either."
By the time they arrived at their table (across the room from the exes) and ordered (two coffees and a plate of scones since neither had eaten a large breakfast), their sides ached from laughter and they were both gasping for air. This, Ginny marveled, is how I always thought it would be. She tried to catch her breath. "No fair! That was almost four years ago. I've improved." She thrust her chin in the air, affecting a haughty air.
"Yes, you have."
Ginny felt the last of her breath leave her lungs. "I assume we're still talking about singing." She lifted her eyebrows.
Harry smirked. "Among other things."
Ginny laughed. "Nope, not a good one. You have nothing to compare it to."
Harry leaned across the table and snatched her hand. His eyes were gleaming. "Well..." He pushed off his chair. "There's only one way to compare."
Oh Merlin. Was he going to kiss her right here? In front of all these people? Breathe…Breathe…
But Ginny was finding breathing a very difficult thing to do when Harry Potter was leaning closer…and closer…
"There you are!"
Ginny jumped back from Harry and glanced sideways, watching Neville and Luna make there way closer.
* * *
I will kill them, thought Harry as he watched Neville and Luna sit down. Luna sat next to Ginny, cattycorner from Harry, while Neville slid in to the seat next to him. Both looked curiously from Harry to Ginny. Harry glared at Neville, attempting to convey his disappointment in the other boy's timing. Neville gulped. "So…um, what's going on?"
"Nothing," mumbled Harry, crossly.
"O – Oh, that's good." Neville looked down at the table. No one said anything. Ginny, Harry and Neville all looked rather mortified, while Luna looked curiously around.
"Did you get your errands done?" Ginny looked at Luna, clearly trying to steer the conversation around the awkwardness that had ensued.
"Oh, yes. Everything's taken care of. I must say this is an interesting place." She glanced at Harry. "I see what you meant when you said is was ‘lacy.' It rather is… Harry?" she questioned when he didn't acknowledge her.
"Why are you angry?"
Harry glanced up, startled and tried to arrange his face into a smile. "I'm not!" He sneaked a look at Ginny, who appeared to be suppressing a giggle.
"Yes, you are. Is it because Cho is here with Michael?"
"No!" Harry exclaimed loudly, causing several patrons to turn and stare. "That doesn't bother me," he hissed more quietly.
"Okay, because I think that she was just all wrong for you," Luna said matter-of-factly.
Just then, Madam Puddifoot sauntered over to the table carrying two cups of coffee and floating a plateful of pastries in front of her. "Ah, two more. What would you like?"
"Coffee's fine, thank you," said Neville.
"Oh, I'll have some tea please," said Luna.
With a flick of her wand, Madam Puddifoot bestowed the two of them with their drinks and moved on after claiming she put extra biscuits on the tray in case they were hungry.
"Thank you," said Neville as she left. Turning back to the conversation he asked, "Why did you think Cho was all wrong for Harry?" He looked expectantly at Luna while Harry buried his face in his hands. They could not have picked a worse subject.
"Oh, well, y'know, she's just not right for him. I do think she's nice, though." She put a spoon of sugar in her tea. "And smart; just too sentimental for Harry. She needs someone more affectionate, someone who likes to express his feelings."
Ginny snorted. "Michael's it, then."
Harry bristled and looked up from his hands. Affectionate? He could be affectionate. And he was perfectly capable of talking about his feelings - wasn't he? He opened his mouth to say as much when he caught Ginny smiling at him, a shrewd look in her eyes. "Luna's not saying you're not affectionate, Harry. We all know you are. She's just saying Cho needs someone who will hold hands in the hallways and mushy stuff like that." She cast a glance over her shoulder, where Michael and Cho were now kissing across the table. When she looked back at the group she raised her eyebrows, as if saying ‘point proven.' "Michael will be good at that stuff. He always wants to talk about his feelings." She pulled a face.
Harry smiled crookedly. "Yeah, Cho wanted to talk about her feelings, too. I guess you're right. Plus, she always got mad at me for stuff I never understood."
"See," said Luna. "You just need someone less needy." She shot a glance at Ginny whose cheeks turned pink. "So, Neville." Luna changed the subject. "How's Herbology going?"
The four of them sat at their table for a little over an hour. Harry spent most of the time observing the others, while half-heartedly contributing to the conversation. It was rather amazing, he pondered, that last year at this time, these three would have been the last people he wanted to spend time with. He nearly laughed out loud at his embarrassment of being seen with them (granted, he was also covered in slime!), when they were all interesting, thoughtful people (in Luna's case very interesting). He was more than glad to be at this table rather than at the one with Cho, who hadn't dislodged her lips from Michael Corner's in quite awhile. Admittedly, he would rather be alone with Ginny, but for now it was enough to sit across from her and watch her laugh at Neville's timid impression of Professor Snape. Once or twice, under the table, her knee would brush against Harry's, causing a thrill to shoot through him. And when she laughed, her eyes crinkled, almost disappearing…her cheeks were flushed…and she was so pretty…
"Are you ready, then?" Ginny's voice interrupted his thoughts. She looked expectantly at him.
"Oh...er, yeah. Let's go." The foursome stood up and headed out the door. Neville and Luna walked a few feet ahead of Ginny and Harry. "So, what do you want to do now?"
"I don't know." She glanced at him. "There's really nothing that I have to do. We could go to the Three Broomsticks and see if Ron and Hermione are there."
A crowded bar did not appeal to Harry. "Maybe...um...do y'want to go for a walk…with me?" His chest constricted as he waited for an answer.
"Yeah," said Ginny quietly. "That would be nice."
Relieved, Harry exhaled loudly and grinned. He called up to Luna and Neville. "Hey, you two! Ginny and I are going for a walk."
"Okay," called Neville.
"See you later." Luna smiled over her shoulder.
Harry and Ginny went straight, rather than turn onto the main road of the village. Harry frantically searched his mind for something to talk about, but every topic that came to mind (Quidditch, the D.A., her O.W.L.s) had all been exhausted. Harry was amazed that he could feel so comfortable with her one minute and so completely out of sorts the next.
Ginny's voice made its way into his consciousness. "Let's not go to Madam Puddifoot's next time, okay?"
She wants there to be a next time? "Yeah, that's fine with me. I'm not a huge fan."
Ginny let out a laugh. "I gathered that."
"So...er…where would you like to go…next time?"
"Oh, I dunno..." She grinned mischievously at him. "We could go to Hogs Head and try to get some Fire-whiskey or...well, actually, I don't know where we could go. The only other place I've really been is the Three Broomsticks. We could try and find someplace new and have an adventure."
"An adventure? You don't think I've had enough adventure?"
"Well, it could be a mini-adventure. Find somewhere no Hogwarts student has found."
"Okay, next time we come, we'll have an adventure. Did Ron ever tell you about the time, our third year, we made Malfoy think he was crazy?"
"More so than he already is? No."
Harry launched into the explanation, pausing briefly when he thought about the reason he hadn't been able to come to Hogsmeade. He didn't let himself rest on the thought very long, but was comforted when Ginny's tiny hand slid into his. They walked through the outskirts of the village, holding hands and swapping horror stories about Draco Malfoy. When they were close to the main road, Harry stopped and looked at her.
"What is it, Harry?" Ginny stood in front of him. He reached for her free hand (which held the Dungbombs) and entwined his fingers around her hand, bag and all.
"I just wanted you to know I had a good time today."
Ginny gave him a wide, easy smile. "So did I."
"Listen Ginny. I know that on Thursday, after practice -" (A blush started to creep up Ginny's neck) "- I sort of...well...I didn't handle that well. I didn't intend to, y'know, kiss you -."
"Oh." Her face fell. "That's okay Harry...I-I understand." She swallowed.
Oh crap. "No! I don't think you do. I mean I meant to kiss you...er I didn't...but I liked it and I just didn't intend to launch myself on you like that. But it was really gre-. I mean nice." Harry cringed. Oh no, oh no. He was messing everything up.
To his relief, Ginny smiled. "I liked it, too."
She did? "Oh, good," Harry said, before he could stop himself. He grinned sheepishly at her. "Could I...um...kiss you again sometime?" he asked hopefully.
Ginny let out a girlish laugh and nodded. Harry felt his breath hitch in throat. His hands gripped hers tightly as he slowly lowered his head down. He tilted his head slightly to avoid bumping into her nose and pressed his lips to hers. Once again, a whoosh went through his whole being. It was amazing – she was amazing.Harry let go of her hands and put his on her back, pulling her closer. Her hand not holding the bag of Dungbombs fisted itself in the front of his robes, causing whatever breath Harry had left to leave his lungs. He slanted his mouth sideways, his tongue seeking entrance and felt a giddy jolt when she opened her mouth.
Harry broke the kiss after a few minutes, panting heavily, but kept his hold on Ginny. He stared at her, noting in the back of his mind that her eyes were darker than he remembered. She was looking at him in a way that made his heart soar. Harry decided it best to get what was on his mind out in the open before her lips distracted him.
* * *
I am being kissed by Harry, again! Ginny thought giddily. She was distracted from her own thoughts when he ran his tongue across the seam of her mouth. The kiss seemed to go on and on and Ginny marveled at how natural it felt…how wonderful. It was amazing – better than flying or hitting that prat Malfoy with Bat-Bogey hexes, better than Honeydukes chocolate…well, maybe not better than choc- yep…definitely better than chocolate!
All too soon, Harry pulled his lips away and looked at her in a way that could melt that previously mentioned chocolate – making her feel as if her very insides were melting. He kept his arms around her, which Ginny decided was good lest her legs collapse beneath her. "Ginny, can I ask you something?" He suddenly looked nervous.
"Sure, Harry." Ask me anything.
"Okay -" He paused and licked his lips (Ginny felt her knees weaken more), as he backed slightly away from her, leaving Ginny swaying, the spot on her back burning where his hand had rested. "-the…um, the thing is, I kind of like you. Well, I do like you." He grinned crookedly and with a self-conscious gesture pushed his glasses up his nose. "I guess that's obvious. So, what I was wondering…that is…Do you think you would, maybe, like to eat dinner with me sometime?"
"Er, sure Harry. That would be nice." Ginny eyed him warily, a little disappointed. She had been positive his question, especially after so much build up, would be more exciting than dinner…not that dinner was bad…
"Okay." He grinned sheepishly. "That wasn't what I meant. The thing is…" Harry shoved his hands into his pockets and started pacing in front of Ginny. "You… I mean, well, you've always been there. Y'know?" He looked expectantly at her. Ginny nodded, but she wasn't exactly sure what he was talking about. "And I've been here." He pulled his hand out of his pocket and gestured in front of him. "But, obviously, I've been an idiot-." (Obviously) "-‘Cause I was never paying attention to you. But I should have because you're nice and smart and really pretty and I like holding your hand and I like talking to you and playing Quidditch with you…and I can tell you stuff that I can't tell other girls – except Hermione – but she doesn't count. And anyway there's stuff I tell you that Hermione wouldn't understand that you just get and I really like kissing you -." He stopped talking and took a deep breath. Suddenly, his face on fire, Harry stepped closer and grabbed her hand again. (Ginny had lost all sensation in every part of her, except in the hand he was now holding). "I was thinking it would be nice to be able to hold your hand or k-kiss you or just talk to you and I was wondering how you felt about that."
How she felt about that?!?
It took all of Ginny's will power not to launch her body at him. "I..." Her voice didn't seem to be working. "I think that would be nice." Nice? More like unbelievably wonderful. Themostamazingthingintheworldohmyohmyohmy.
"Great." Harry let out a deep content sigh.
Ginny grinned stupidly at him, feeling possibly happier than was strictly legal.
"So, do you want to go to the Three Broomsticks?" Harry asked.
Feeling very bold, Ginny met his eyes and stepped up to him. "Yes..." she said slowly, "...or we could stay here and…" She let the suggestion hang in the air.
Harry gave her a look that could only be described as a leer, causing Ginny's heart to start beating triple time. She watched his lips move closer. "Yeah..." His mouth was near her ear, causing vibrations to ping through her body with every word he spoke. "We could stay here."
Ginny closed her eyes as his lips met hers, the last thing she saw was a pair of impossibly green eyes crinkling at the corners, coming closer and closer. Waking up had been a good idea after all, Ginny thought, before giving into total delight.