“Shh...will you pipe down?” Harry whispered, rising from his hospital bed. “Listen, I have to tell her today, or it’ll be too late. But Madam Pomfrey won’t let me leave for few more days until all the spots on my body have fully healed.”
“You’re out of your mind, Harry,” the redhead sitting beside him said. “She’ll be suspicious.”
“It’s worth a try,” Harry said hopefully. “And besides, I’m sick and tired of staying in this ruddy bed; I need to get out of here.”
“I don’t know, Harry,” Ron furrowed his brow, doubt clearly in his expression. “What if it doesn’t work? We could get in loads of trouble, you know….” he trailed off.
“It will work. Or I’ll take the full blame for it,” Harry said quickly, hoping to remove Ron’s fears.
“But what if—” Ron started, hesitantly.
“Trust me on this. Please? I’m going mad sitting here, doing nothing. And what if it’s too late? What if I lose her?” Harry pleaded. He was getting desperate; his plan would fail without Ron. He was perfectly willing to beg and grovel.
“Fine,” came the resigned sigh, “but only for you. Merlin knows why I fall into your stupid plans.”
“Oh, Ron, I could kiss you!” said Harry, elated at the thought of leaving the Hospital wing. “I’ll tell Hermione that you send her much love,” he said cheekily, already throwing his hospital gown over his bed.
“You’ll do no such thing,” Ron growled, the edges of his ears turning a bright shade of pink. “I haven’t even told her yet myself.”
“What, that you fancy her? Or that you whisper her name every night before you go to bed? Or –”
Harry was cut off by a loud bang outside the wing. He looked at Ron and shrugged. Lately there had been explosions going off everywhere around the school. Harry suspected it had to do with the fact that Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes had found a new market in the first year students at Hogwarts. He also knew that Filch was the farthest away from being pleased at this development. In the distance, they could hear Madam Pomfrey speaking sternly to someone about the “care of her patients.”
“So you’ll do it then?” Harry asked, slipping on his trainers.
“I s’pose,” Ron sighed, stretching out on the bed. “Do you have it with you?”
Harry grinned, as he reached for his bag, withdrawing a vial of muddy liquid. He’d known it might come in handy when they had some leftover after their Halloween prank. Because the qualities of the potion would allow someone to take on the appearance of Harry Potter, he’d thought it prudent to carry it with him. ”I’d forgotten about it until I discovered it yesterday, when I was looking for...” he paused, stopping himself from revealing what he was really searching for when he was alone last night, unable to fall asleep. He would sell his Firebolt and everything in his trunk before he told Ron that he was looking for the card she had sent him.
“When you were looking for...?” Ron prompted, his ears perking up in interest. He sat up and looked at him curiously. “Anything you’d like to share with me, Harry?”
“Actually, I was searching for the book Hermione got for me from the library. It had some Quidditch techniques that I wanted to try out next practice,” Harry lied smoothly, praying that Ron didn’t actually want to see where the book was. “I’ve got a few ideas on how to beat Ravenclaw for our next match.”
Ron looked at him suspiciously, but made no comment. He leaned down to the floor and rummaged through his bag, taking out a swath of silvery fabric and an ancient looking piece of parchment that looked much like the Marauder’s Map. “Well, this is what you asked for. I still think you’re barking mad for trying this, especially for her.”
“I think Hermione’s been rubbing off you, mate,” Harry smirked, reaching for the two items. “There’s hardly been a time when you’ve been opposed to our adventures.”
Ron muttered something under his breath that sounded much like “miss spending time with Hermione.”
Harry looked up at Ron and frowned uncertainly. “You don’t have to go through with this if you don’t want to.”
“Nah, s’all right. Go on, give me the potion,” Ron said, leaving his spot on the bed to come closer to Harry. He reached out a hand, into which Harry slapped the vial of potion.
“Ah, so this is the essence of Harry Potter,” said Ron, eyeing the potion with disgust evident on his face. “Wonder how many girls would love to get their hands on this to use it for their own...purposes.” He grinned, looking up at Harry. Harry couldn’t keep the horror he felt off his face, and Ron answered it with a grin, adding, “Don’t worry, Harry, I won’t distribute it... yet.”
“You’d better not,” growled Harry. “You know there’s only one girl for me and that’s—” he stopped suddenly, as he heard the sound of heels clicking against the floor. Frantically, he looked at Ron who seemed to have taken the sound as his cue to pinch his nose and hastily gulp the potion down in one breath. Instantly, Ron’s features morphed into those of Harry’s, his blue eyes taking on a darker, more emerald hue as the roots of his hair turned from ginger red to raven black. He squinted in way that seemed to suggest that he now had Harry’s poor vision. Unfortunately for him, Harry was wearing his glasses. Harry watched as Ron’s face screwed up in pain as a lightening bolt shaped scar began to form on his forehead. He lost the three or four inches in height necessary to effect the transformation into Harry Potter.
“Hurry up,” Harry whispered forcefully, since he had already hidden himself under the shield of the invisibility cloak. “She’s coming quickly.” Harry gave in to the urge and chanced a peek around the curtains only to find Madam Pomfrey chatting amicably with Professor Dumbledore, who seemed to have just arrived.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he turned around to check on Ron, who had already shed his clothes and sported the scratchy blue gown that he had left behind. He watched as Ron lifted the sheets and slipped into bed, raising the sheet up to his neck.
“Harry, are you still here?” Ron whispered quietly.
Harry shuffled around until he was right next to the bed. “Yeah, I’m here. So how does it feel to be Harry Potter?” he asked teasingly, letting the invisibility cloak slip down to reveal his face, which gave the appearance of a floating head. “You know, you may want to transfigure something for you to wear as glasses. Pomfrey will get suspicious otherwise,” he added.
“Good idea,” Ron agreed, nodding his head. He leaned down and plucked his wand out of the side pocket. “What should we transfigure?
“How about these Omnioculars?” Harry asked, shuffling through his bag. “These would work.” Upon Ron’s questioning stare, Harry explained, “I found them in my trunk and took them to the Ravenclaw- Slytherin match last weekend. I felt ill right as the match had ended and I never went back to Gryffindor Tower after that.”
Ron nodded in acceptance and took them from Harry’s hands. Tapping them once, he muttered a quick incantation and an identical pair of spectacles appeared. Ron placed them on the bridge of his nose, while trying to remove the hair falling into his eyes.
“Merlin, how do you live with this hair? It refuses to stay down,” Ron whispered furiously, trying to pat his hair down but failing.
“The girls don’t seem to mind too much,” Harry replied cheekily, as he dodged a harmless swipe from his friend.
“Never mind. I shouldn’t have asked.” Ron shook his head before turning serious. “Listen you only have a few hours, I don’t think there’s enough potion for more than that. Remember, you can’t let anyone see you except her, or we might both be in trouble—”
Suddenly, the curtains opened and the figure of Madame Pomfrey stepped into the small space. “Who are you speaking to, Mr Potter? There’s no one here.”
Harry turned around quickly at the sound of his name. He opened his mouth to speak before he heard Ron stutter a quick response about how the dragon pox had finally gone to his head. He had almost given himself away. As he turned back to leave the small space, he almost ran head first into Madame Pomfrey, but he quickly sidestepped to the right to avoid contact with the nurse. Another close call.
Without any further thought, Harry finally stepped out and hurried as fast he could out of the hospital wing. He looked around in the corridors and not noticing anyone, walked stealthily toward the staircase, stopping to pull out the piece of parchment Ron had handed him before he had left. A quick mutter of the incantation and immediately, the map was scattered with moving dots, each labeled with a name in a loopy script. Harry scanned the worn map, looking for one name in particular. He had an important mission tonight—Valentine’s Day—and nothing was going to get in the way.
Ginny sighed as she sat down resignedly on the red sofa in front of the Gryffindor Common Room fire. Her reason for displeasure was not aimed at the people she had spent the day with, but rather the occasion in which the rest of the world was basking: Valentine’s Day.
Ginny reckoned Valentine’s Day was celebrated in February to lighten the gloom and doom of the long winter months. She also reckoned the whole thing was a bunch of rubbish. After all, who needed a specific day to tell someone you liked them when you had the whole year to do so? Why bother to wait till Valentine’s Day to profess your love for someone? It didn’t make sense, but then again, life didn’t make sense either.
As she considered her day, she decided that the day hadn’t been so bad that she could write it off as one of the worst. There had been a Hogsmeade trip today and she had accompanied Ron and Hermione to the village. As they looked at and admired the various displays of chocolate confections in the Honeydukes’ display case (Ambrosius Flume was setting up a stunning display of chocolate flowers that recited love poems every time the receiver took a bite and cupids who shot arrows that contained minimal amounts of love potion), she couldn’t help but feel a pang in her heart at the thought of a certain green-eyed wizard, who lay in the hospital wing. Even though they refused to acknowledge their affection for each other, the presence of Ron and Hermione, along with the other couples roaming the village, made Ginny feel as though she didn’t belong there.She felt left out, like a third wheel in the midst of all the twosomes.
Harry had developed a case of dragon pox a week ago and hadn’t received clearance to accompany them to Hogsmeade. When she had visited him yesterday, he had made her promise that she would buy a package of Chocolate Frogs as he had run out of his stock. When the February chill became too much for their fingers and cheeks, the three of them had stopped by The Three Broomsticks to rest their feet and warm up by the roaring fire with a Butterbeer. But she had no idea of the encounters she would face there. Although she was flattered, she’d had to turn down several younger boys who wished to buy her a drink. They weren’t, of course, the company she wanted, and she’d declined their invitations politely. After the last brave boy had dejectedly returned to the table, Ron had made a sniggering remark about her taste in men. Needless to say, she wasn’t very pleased and Ron had got the shock of his life when she had responded to his remark with her wand.
Ginny nodded to herself; perhaps that was her pitiful luck with boys. Or maybe it was just one in particular that she couldn’t seem to get over, no matter how hard she tried. There had been so many occasions when she had dreamed of Harry, like a prince, rescuing her from danger, of him sweeping her off her feet, of him kissing her. It was far from the typical fairy tale romance; there were no fairies or tales to tell, much less any romance. And yet, she continued to live in her dreams, hoping that some day, one day, he would see her as something more.
There was just something about him that made her heart beat with pleasure when he shot a smile in her direction, made her melt when he looked at her with those piercing green eyes, made her.... Stop. It was getting to be quite enough, and it was clear that Harry didn’t feel the same way for her.
In fact, when she had gone to visit Harry earlier this morning in the hospital wing, she had overheard a whispered, frantic debate between her brother and Harry over Harry’s plans for today with some girl. When she made her presence known, they both had stopped with differing looks on their faces; Ron had given her a calculated look whereas Harry was starting to attain a nice healthy pink blush in his cheeks, in contrast to his pale state just a few days back.
She sighed, clearing her mind of images of Harry and the aforementioned “girl” spending Valentine’s Day together. It hurt just to think about Harry with another girl, a girl who wasn’t her, and she couldn’t deny it. The fact was simple and clear: she was single on this Valentine’s Day and she loathed everything about the occasion.
“Happy Single’s Awareness Day, Ginny,” she said bitterly, as she rose from her seat. She scanned the common room, noticing it was sparsely populated. In one corner of the room, a group of first year girls were giggling loudly over what looked to be a magazine with the handsome and charming face of Oliver Wood, who she knew had made it to this month’s cover as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in Wizarding Britain”.
There were a few more people scattered around the common room, passing their time in books and parchment. She shook her head once again. At least she wasn’t as desperate as some people. Apart from that, it was clear that Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be found.
Ron had acted a bit suspicious when they had returned from Hogsmeade; his replies to her questions had been short and vague, something that was very uncharacteristic of him. He’d made a small excuse as he left in a mad dash towards the hospital wing. When she had inquired about Ron’s behavior to Hermione, the other witch had given her a clueless look and told her that she hadn’t the foggiest idea either.
Ginny took a step towards her dormitory, when she was nearly tripped by a small surly-looking dwarf, whose pointed pink hat came up to her waist. He looked up at her, the golden wings that he wore fluttering madly against his petite body, while a bag that contained arrows was slung over one shoulder and a golden bow hung on the other. Ginny grew horrified as she realized what was about to happen. If only she could get someplace where she could hear the valentine in private.
“Are you Miss Ginevra Weasley?” the boorish looking dwarf asked, clearly uninterested in the task he was given.
Ginny nodded her head mutely; she was afraid to think of what was going to happen next. If it was anything like four years ago....
The dwarf cleared his voice, producing a pink parchment. “I’ve got a musical valentine for you from, ah, an admirer.” He opened his mouth to speak. Oh please, no, not now, she thought as he prepared himself to sing.He started:
Her eyes are as brown as chocolate café, Her hair is as light as the early morning rays. I wish she was mine, she’s really divine,
The girl whom I love in every single way.
“Your presence is requested in the Room of Requirement,” the dwarf further intoned. “You are to come alone, and for safety purposes, you should wear this,” he said, thrusting silvery material into her hand. And with that, the tiny dwarf vanished, leaving in his wake a thick cloud of pink and purple fairy dust, causing Ginny to cough as she tried to clear the pother from her face. She felt her face flush in embarrassment, as she took in the various stares and whispers coming from all corners of the room.
Ginny’s heart thumped loudly, so loudly she was sure that everyone could hear its beat. There was only one person who could have sent that message. Only one person who knew what the significance of the poem was, and he was in the hospital wing right now. She tried to clear her mind. What could this possibly mean? Did Harry want to...? No, that was not possible.
Her thoughts seemed to be fleeing her mind as she looked around the room again, noticing the lingering stares of some of the girls. Ignoring them, she tried to remember the last thing that the dwarf had said to her before he had disappeared. Where was her presence requested? Oh right, the Room of Requirement.
She exhaled slowly, releasing a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Her heart thumped harder in anticipation of what was about to come. Gathering her things, she banished them to her dormitory and took a few minutes to make sure she looked all right, before she bounded towards the portrait hole.
Harry wracked his brains as he sat in a small nook in the Room of Requirement, trying to think of anything else that he was missing. He crossed off things from his mental checklist and found that he had taken care of everything. The only thing that remained was the wait—and Ginny’s reaction.
He stood up, admiring his handiwork as he looked around the room. Ornate tapestries of armed knights and their ladies now covered the walls. The room was cast in a deep, warm glow by the many floating candles that lined the room. The only other light source in the room came from the high arched windows that were charmed to let the moonlight filter in. All in all, it was a room for romance. He only hoped that it would be enough to charm Ginny.
Harry took in a deep breath. If all went according to plan, Ginny would be arriving in a matter of moments. He gathered his thoughts, trying to compose himself before the inevitable encounter. What would he say to her? How was she going to react? The singing valentine had already given away his most secret revelation to her. He loved her. He had come to that conclusion a very long time ago, even before he was struck with dragon pox.
Unfortunately, things hadn’t gone his way. He had hoped to charm her with a visit to Hogsmeade and to spend the day with her and no one else. No interruptions, no older brothers hovering over them, no hidden feelings. Just Harry and Ginny. When he had fallen ill, he had cursed his bad luck. But as he spent days and nights recovering from his malady in the hospital wing, he had thought of various ways to tell her. It was last night when he had finalized his plan of asking Ginny out on a date. Actually, he had come upon the singing valentine he had received years ago; the card had spurred his ideas for a rendezvous in the Room of Requirement. The idea to include Ron had come much later after Madam Pomfrey had refused to give him clearance to visit Hogsmeade with his friends. The last thing he’d wanted to do was to have a date with Ginny next to his hospital bed. So when he had found the vial of Polyjuice Potion lying in his bag, he had cooked up this scheme with the hope of spending the evening with Ginny.
As he continued with his musings, he was interrupted by a short rap against the door. “Harry?” came the soft female voice.
Taking one glance around the room to make sure everything was in place, he stepped forward to open the door to reveal one Ginny Weasley.
The door opened and there he stood, his casual stance against the frame of the doorway making her stomach pool in want and desire. He looked as if he was the epitome of desire, almost to the point of god-like, the faint glow of candles producing a halo effect around his body.
Her throat became parched, her tongue glued to the roof of her mouth. No one recovering from a case of dragon pox should be allowed to look this good. They stared at each other for a few moments, until Harry grasped her hand in his warm one and pulled her over the threshold.
As she entered the room, she did a double-take. Gone were the stone walls, now replaced with tapestries and heavy curtains. The place had undergone a complete transformation and she stood in the center of it all, awed.
“Harry,” she began, and quickly stopped, as she felt his body come closer to hers. She had to know. It had been the only thing on her mind since she had heard the poem. “D-did you...did you really mean what you said in your poem?” she stuttered.
“Which part? That I think your hair is as light as the early morning rays? Or that your eyes are as brown as chocolate café?” he said, laughing softly as he came closer to her. He quieted, placing a hand on her arm, he gently turned her to face him. “Do you have any doubts?” Harry asked quietly.
When Ginny didn’t answer, Harry brought his hand to her face, tilting up her chin so that she met his eyes. As she lifted her eyes to his, she saw her reflection in his eyes. And she knew.
“I do love you, Ginny. I don’t know how it happened or when it did, but I do know that an inexplicable feeling rises within me whenever you’re next to me. You make me feel complete. I can be myself around you and knowing that you’ll accept me, despite my flaws and insecurities, well, it makes me love you even more,” he stopped, aware of exactly how much he had revealed. “I’m rambling, aren’t I?” he grinned sheepishly, a pink flush rising in his neck. He looked down at her questioningly, scrutinizing her face.
Ginny tried to find her voice. Her mind drew a blank as she tried to respond to Harry’s revelations. All that time, she’d been sure that there was another girl whom Harry fancied. And yet, here he was. There had never been another girl; it had only been her misconceptions, which had clouded over her rationale and had led her to believe that Harry was simply not interested in her.
She had always hoped that Harry would come to develop feelings for her, but as time passed, and nothing happened, she had wanted to give up. Part of her mind wanted to scream “why” and the other half wanted to accept the love that she was receiving and reciprocate in the same fashion.
“Harry...” she started again. Just say it. Say that you feel the same way about him. Tell him that you’ve wanted to hear those words from him since you were a young girl. “I don’t know,” she blurted, closing her eyes so that she couldn’t see his expression. “I really want to believe you, I really do. I’ve loved you for so long and I’ve lived each day, hoping that you would feel the same for me. But this... this feels so sudden,” she trailed off, turning her back to Harry.
She felt Harry’s hands rest on her shoulders. “Does it feel sudden, Ginny? Because I know that the only thing I’m certain of in this life is what I feel for you. I don’t know what may happen tomorrow or the day after, but I do know that I want you to be with me, by my side. Life’s always full of uncertainties so why can’t we accept them as they come?” His words washed over her in waves.
Why was she turning him down when he was trying so hard to persuade her? Harry was right; they didn’t know what the future held for them and their life would certainly not be perfect, but they would face life and all its difficulties together.
He turned her around. “If you’re still doubtful of my feelings, let me make them clear for you.” And with painstaking slowness, he closed the gap between them and brushed his chapped lips against her soft ones. Her eyes fluttered shut, feeling Harry’s breath caress her face as his lips closed on hers. That was the breaking point. She stopped trying to fight her mind and let her heart take over, as Harry’s love washed over her. Her body sagged against his as she gave in to the moment, reciprocating her love for Harry. Her fingers entwined at the base of Harry’s neck, pulling him deeper into the kiss.
So it hadn’t been the fairy tale romance that she had always dreamed of... but it had possibilities of turning into one in the future.
A/N: A/N: Half-Blood Prince, what’s that? ;-)
In all honesty, this is just a fluffy little excuse for H/G and as such, it does not follow canon. Many, many thanks to my wonderful betas for all their encouragement; this wouldn’t have been possible without any of them.