Harry sighed as he watched Ginny laugh with Neville. The time had
come for him to act. Neville moved away to talk to Dean and Seamus, who
had just called him over. Harry took the opportunity to catch Ginny's
eye and asked her to join him in front of the fire for a few moments.
"So, what did you want, Harry?" Ginny asked him as she sat down.
Harry paused for a moment, to gather his courage.
what are you planning for the Hogsmeade visit tomorrow? I thought
perhaps you might go with me?" Harry said, not sure if he was asking or
Ginny stared at Harry briefly, and then answered
with a slight edge to her tone, "Harry, are you asking me just to get
away from Ron and Hermione's bickering, or are you asking me out on a
date? You do know it's Valentine's Day tomorrow, don't you?"
Harry felt his face go red.
he stuttered, "it isn't just Ron and Hermione. I hadn't thought of it
as being a date though. I don't have much experience of what to do on a
date…last year was-"
Ginny cut him off. "Okay, okay, I don't want to know what you and Cho got up to last year!" she interrupted.
that's my point," Harry replied, "We didn't get up to anything. I
hadn't a clue what I was expected to do on a date, and to be truthful,
I still don't. We ended up in Madame Puddifoot's, and Cho proceeded to
tell me all about Cedric, which wasn't what I wanted to hear. Then when
I mentioned that I needed to meet Hermione, to do that Quibbler
article, she went off on one, and stormed off. It was only later, when
Hermione explained that Cho was jealous, that I had any idea what that
Ginny sat for a moment thinking, then spoke, "Right. In that case, you are taking me to Hogsmeade tomorrow and it is a date."
Harry tried to interrupt, but Ginny wouldn't let him.
everyone will assume that it's a date anyway, since you won't be going
with Ron and Hermione. We might as well get that straight up front.
We'll go to all the places that we would anyway, then we'll go to the
Three Broomsticks and have lunch and sit and talk together."
Harry looked relieved.
"But," added Ginny "there's one condition".
"I get a kiss at the end of the day."
sat there for a moment, slightly bemused, but the more he thought about
it, the more he looked forward to kissing Ginny. Ron might have a
problem with this though, as he had a tendency to deliberately
intimidate Ginny's boyfriends.
"Okay, that seems like a fair
deal. I think I'm going to have to book a bed in the hospital wing
afterwards though, for when Ron finds out."
Ginny looked furious. "If that prat
tries anything, he's history. In fact, let's get this over with right
now," she spat, standing and dragging Harry over to where Ron and
Hermione were sitting, arguing about Ron copying Hermione's Charms
"Can you two hold your argument for a moment?" Ginny interrupted them.
Hermione cut herself off, in the middle of what appeared to be an extended tirade, and cast them an appraising glance.
"Sure," said Ron, a look of relief in his eye for the interruption. "What can I do for my best mate and my little sister?"
Ginny cast him a glare at the words "little sister", and Ron sat back, somewhat startled.
"Hey, don't you start on me, too," he pleaded, "I've had enough of an ear battering already".
"Ron! If you don't start-" Hermione started, but was prevented from saying any more when Harry raised his hand to cut her off.
"You can continue your argument as soon as we're finished, I promise. In fact, you can argue all day tomorrow if you like."
"What do you mean?" Ron interjected. "It's Hogsmeade tomorrow. You are coming to Hogsmeade, aren't you, Harry?"
"Yes, Ron, I am going to Hogsmeade, but I'm going with Ginny, not with you and Hermione; that's my point."
looked shocked at this. "But I thought that we were best mates? Why
don't we go together, all four of us?" he suggested, getting out of his
Hermione pulled him back into his seat, earning a glare from Ron in the process.
okay, Ron, I'm sure we'll manage; after all, you see Harry here in the
castle all day. It's not like you suddenly aren't friends anymore!"
looked as though he was going to argue the point further, but subsided
somewhat, saying, "Well, we'll all have to meet up in the Three
Broomsticks for a butterbeer later on, then. I'm sure me and Hermione
will have finished arguing by then."
"Umm, I'm not sure if that's in the plan," said Harry, turning to Ginny with a questioning look.
"What plan?" demanded Ron
silence that followed merely saw Ron getting redder in the face, while
Hermione tried to calm him down enough so she could explain what she
had already deduced.
Ginny's eyes were streaming with silent
tears of laughter. She slowly brought her laughter under control, and
whispered to Harry, "That was brilliant. I was just going to tell him
outright, but this is even better: we get Hermione to drop the
bombshell for us."
"Well, it was just the way that it worked
out," replied Harry, "I know you were intending to deliver the message
yourself, but the opportunity was just too good to miss."
was very satisfied that Harry had taken the initiative in the
conversation with Ron, while leaving Ron to make his own deductions.
"What!" Ron's bellow was unmistakable. "No way!"
"Ron! Sit down." Hermione's slightly agitated voice could be heard clearly in the silence that followed Ron's outburst.
"No chance," came the response, "there's no way that Harry's taking Ginny to Hogsmeade on a date."
shocked silence in the room gradually started to return to the normal
hubbub as the Gryffindors digested this latest item of gossip. Harry
could clearly hear Lavender and Parvati chattering about how long this
"state of affairs" had been going on. Ginny turned immediately to
confront Ron, her brown eyes flashing dangerously. "I've told you
before," she announced firmly, "who I date is none of your business.
Keep your meddling hands out of my affairs. If Harry wants to take me
to Hogsmeade for Valentine's Day then that's our decision to make, not yours!"
"Harry doesn't even like you that way, do you Harry?" asked Ron, turning to his best friend for support.
This was the point when Harry had an epiphany. He did
like Ginny that way, but now he knew exactly what to do to solve at
least two problems: finding out whether Ginny felt the same way, and
getting Ron to accept that Ginny was growing up.
Harry took action.
"Ron," he said, "can you just shut up for a minute please?"
was so surprised that he did exactly that, although the goldfish effect
hadn't been part of the request. His reaction was only magnified as
Harry turned to Ginny, leaned down slightly, and kissed her gently on
Neither Harry nor Ginny heard the cheer that erupted
from the Gryffindor common room. They were too busy lingering longer
over their kiss that Harry had expected and Ginny had hoped.
they gently parted, eyes locked, and with a degree of wonder on their
faces, they returned to the look of shock on Ron's face.
"You bastard, Harry," were the last words Harry heard before he felt the impact of Ron's fist on his jaw.
* * *
As Harry came to, he could make out the familiar surroundings of the hospital wing.
"Oh no, not again," he thought to himself, "what did I do this time?"
quick assessment revealed that his jaw and the back of his head ached
(and fortunately nothing else), and as he opened his eyes to see a
shock of red hair, he had a sudden recollection of exactly what had
Fortunately, it was Ginny that sat by his bedside,
rather than Ron. She smiled as she saw him stir, causing him to smile
"Told you I'd need a bed in the hospital wing," Harry said with a grimace.
Ginny didn't reply straightaway, but leaned over Harry and grinned.
hope you don't mind, but I just wanted to do this again," she said as
she bent down and kissed him gently as he lay in the hospital bed.
I have no objection to that at all," he said with a smirk, "as long as
Ron's not around to witness it, that is," he added as an afterthought.
Ginny's face clouded over at the reminder, but then a mischievous smile appeared instead.
"That prat," she replied firmly, "has been dealt with. In fact, I'm glad you didn't wake up facing the other way."
Harry turned his head to see Ron in the next bed along, apparently under the influence of a sedative.
"That doesn't look like the after-effects of a Bat Bogey Hex, Ginny," he said, grinning. "What did you do to him?"
didn't," Ginny responded. "I was as stunned as you were that Ron would
actually hit you," said Ginny. "Well okay, perhaps not literally
as stunned," she amended as Harry raised his eyebrows in question. "I
thought he would be all threat and bluster. I didn't think he would
actually resort to physical violence!"
"That still doesn't explain why he's in the hospital wing as well," Harry noted, urging Ginny to continue with her story.
"Well, even though I
stood there copying Ron's goldfish impression, you'll recall that the
rest of the room was watching as well. Some of them acted on impulse
and by the time your head hit the floor, Ron had been hit by at least
three stunners, not to mention some slightly more painful curses
to…umm…his…umm…nether regions, shall we say?"
Harry winced in sympathy.
a very sensitive part of the anatomy," he said with a grin. "Hopefully
Madam Pomfrey will be able to sort him out, though that might prove
somewhat embarrassing for him."
"That'll be between him and
me, Mister Potter," admonished Madame Pomfrey as she walked around the
corner towards Harry. "Now, if you've nothing more than a headache and
sore jaw, then you may leave. Please do not wake Mister Weasley. He's
under sedation for a reason," she added.
Ginny giggled at this but was quietened by a stern look from Madam Pomfrey.
hope that you were not party to your brother's injuries, Miss Weasley.
I still haven't had an explanation of how and why they were received."
they stepped outside the doors of the Hospital Wing, Ginny turned to
Harry, "Are you really okay?" she asked him. "I was worried that Ron
had hurt you really badly."
"Well, apart from a headache and a developing fear of tall red-headed teenagers," Harry joked, "then yes, I'm fine."
a good job I'm not tall then, isn't it?" Ginny retorted. "Are you still
okay to go to Hogsmeade tomorrow, Harry? I know it was what you wanted
in the first place, but if you aren't feeling up to it, I will
"Hey, I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
"Well, just so you know, that condition still stands," Ginny pointed out.
Harry looked closely at Ginny, considering his words carefully.
"Then I'm definitely
looking forward to tomorrow. Though there's nothing wrong with a little
sneak preview, of course," he said as he pulled her gently into his
"Not in the school corridors, please, Mister Potter,
Miss Weasley," came a familiar voice from behind Harry. "I think I'm
beginning to understand what might have happened this evening."
Professor McGonagall continued, "Please see me in my office tomorrow
morning after breakfast to discuss this matter further. In the
meantime, you should get back to your common room."
warning ringing in their ears, Harry and Ginny returned to the
Gryffindor common room and almost immediately to their beds although
Harry paused briefly to explain to the few Gryffindors that were still
awake, that he was fine, but Ron was still in the hospital wing.
* * *
the following morning was an excitable affair with all the students
abuzz with the anticipation of the Hogsmeade visit. With it being
Valentine's Day, there was an awful lot of post being delivered.
was a little anxious this morning with the prospect of an interrogation
by Professor McGonagall after the morning meal, but also because he
didn't know how Ginny would react this morning. Also on his mind, was
the fact that he hadn't armed himself with the traditional card to
present to Ginny when she arrived at breakfast.
still lost in thought when Ginny slid into a spot between Harry and
Seamus at the Gryffindor table. "Morning Harry," she said, making
herself comfortable, "how's your head this morning?"
too bad. Still a bit sore, but I'll get over it," Harry replied, the
butterflies in his stomach starting to make him lose his appetite.
"Umm, Happy Valentine's Day, Ginny," he continued, "I'm afraid that I
"That's not important, Harry," Ginny replied,
turning to face him. "I'm more worried about what McGonagall has in
store for us after breakfast."
That thought didn't help Harry's nervousness either, but there was one thing he had to ask before the day went any further.
"Ginny," he started, "about yesterday..."
"Yes, Harry," Ginny replied with a hint of mischief in her eyes, "what about yesterday?"
"Well," Harry continued, "you don't regret anything do you?"
"Yes, Harry," she replied confidently. "I do regret something; something very important."
Harry's heart fell at this. What could he have done to make Ginny regret kissing him?
you look a little pale," said Hermione, sitting down on the other side
of the table. "Are you sure you're okay? I thought Madam Pomfrey said
you were fine."
"Eh? What? Oh hullo, Hermione," Harry said, as
he was startled from his reflections. He quickly summoned the courage
to ask Ginny the question that he was now dreading the answer to. "What
do you regret, Ginny?"
With a look of comprehension, which
turned to a look of horror, Hermione realised what Harry was asking.
Meanwhile, Ginny had taken in Harry's shaken expression and the look on
Hermione's face, and decided to put them both out of their misery.
"I regret not getting to my wand quickly enough to curse Ron, too," she said.
The look of relief on Harry's face was almost comical.
it's not fair to wind Harry up like that after all he went through
yesterday," Hermione chided. "I saw the look on both your faces after
Harry kissed you last night, and I know that you're going to be great
as a couple."
"A couple?" Harry asked.
"What else did you think, Harry, after a kiss like that?" Ginny said softly. "Anyhow, now that we're a couple,"
Ginny continued, "that means I'm allowed to pull your leg about last
night. But more importantly, it means I get to do this whenever I feel
like it," she added, and pulled Harry's face down to her own for a
long, slow kiss, which Harry quickly responded to.
"Not at the table, children," Hermione snickered as they broke apart.
all the owls flying in and out throughout breakfast, it was quite a
chaotic meal, and to top things off, an unknown owl flew in and dropped
an envelope at Hermione's seat.
Hermione looked up in
surprise, but was soon the subject of the attention of most of the
table, who had automatically assumed that whatever had arrived, must
have been a Valentine's card.
They were right.
opened the envelope to release a card that immediately expanded to a
size of four feet square, knocking over several breakfast bowls and
covering the nearest students in various breakfast foods. Hermione just
sat there, too shocked to notice the chaos that was going on around her.
"Who would've sent it to her?" came a voice from the Slytherin table. "After all, it's not like there's anyone who'd fancy a know- it-all like her."
Hermione still sat there staring at the mammoth card that had appeared before her.
"What does it say, Hermione?" Ginny prompted.
Hermione tentatively opened the card, being careful to avoid any further destruction to the breakfast table.
"It just says 'All my love,'" Hermione replied, still somewhat disconcerted.
Hermione, does it say who it's from?" asked Harry, not totally sure
whether he wanted to know the answer, but since the question was
begging to be asked, he thought he'd be the one to go with the obvious.
"It's from Ron."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, with lots of questions in their eyes.
"I'm so stupid."
coming from Hermione, was a shocker. Probably about on par with Malfoy
admitting a love for Muggleborns or Percy suggesting that they "wing
it", rather than go by the book. The number of questions that Harry and
Ginny had now increased exponentially.
"Elucidate, Hermione," Ginny suggested.
"Eh?" Harry asked.
means 'explain' or 'clarify,' Harry," Hermione advised, clearly having
conquered her 'stupid' moment, "and this complicates things."
"I think we were looking for a fuller explanation than that, Hermione," joked Harry
"Let me ask you this in another way, Hermione," said Ginny, gently, "what are your feelings for Ron?"
he's the most wonderful, insufferable, brilliant, irritating, handsome,
lazy, hunky, hopeless, funny, frustrating, loveable prat in the whole school," she replied, without missing a beat.
him, Hermione," Ginny insisted. "He's obviously got feelings for you
that are enough for him to send you a card that tells the whole school
that he loves you, even though I didn't think that he had the slightest
inclination to do anything quite as romantic as this!"
not the problem," Hermione worried. "The problem is that, well, it's
what I did to him yesterday. I don't know if he'll ever be able to
forgive me. It was totally excessive. He'll hate me forever."
that dragging this out of Hermione was taking an age, and mindful that
they were due in McGonagall's office straight after breakfast, Harry
made an executive decision.
"Right, well you can tell us all
about it on the way to McGonagall's office, otherwise we're going to
end up with an even worse punishment for last night. On top of that,
the whole school will know what you did that was so unforgivable!"
Hermione exclaimed, suddenly realising that she was discussing her
feelings for Ron in front of the entire school. "I don't believe this!" she proclaimed as she rushed out of the Great Hall.
* * *
summons to Professor McGonagall's office had proved less harrowing than
Harry and Ginny had anticipated. Professor McGonagall had visited Ron
in the hospital wing, who had refused to cast blame on anyone for his
injuries. As a result, the only punishment forthcoming was for Ron, for
punching Harry in the first place. Who had informed the Gryffindor Head
of House of this was a mystery to Harry.
A brief visit to the
infirmary revealed an extremely apologetic Ron, who had apparently
taken all the blame, and was distraught that he had assaulted Harry.
This was swiftly followed by a request for about half of Honeydukes
stock to be picked up for him, since Ron wasn't going anywhere other
than the hospital wing, according to Madam Pomfrey.
* * *
and Ginny toured a few of the shops and chatted companionably as they
went, picking up some of the items Ron had requested. By lunchtime they
had progressed as far as the Three Broomsticks.
As it was
still fairly early, the Three Broomsticks wasn't all that busy, so it
wasn't long before their order arrived. Just as they were starting to
eat though, a huge rumbling noise echoed from somewhere above them,
causing the pub to go quiet. A few students started shouting questions
about what was making the noise, but Harry couldn't think of any
particular reason for it.
Across the room, Harry could see
Malfoy straining to hear something, and he gestured to Ginny to listen
carefully as well. All they could hear was a soft creaking noise, but
Malfoy had apparently decided that this creaking sound was his cue to
leave, so Harry was immediately aware that something was afoot.
one of the load-bearing columns of the pub gave way, allowing the roof
to cave in. A number of students had been immediately below where the
roof had collapsed, and Harry feared for their safety. Students began
streaming out of the pub, only to be met with resistance from somebody
outside, trapping them.
Figuring that where the roof had
already collapsed there was the least danger of any more ceiling caving
in, Harry motioned for Ginny to follow him.
"Somebody check to see if it's safe to leave through the kitchen," Harry yelled across to anybody that might be listening.
Chang and Marietta Edgecombe peeled away from the group by the front
door and headed back towards the kitchens, while Harry and Ginny made
their way across to where the roof had caved in. A couple of third year
Hufflepuffs were trying to move a heavy piece of concrete that lay on
top of the rubble, and was preventing anyone who might be trapped
underneath from escaping.
Harry recognised Owen Cauldwell and Kevin Whitby, though he hadn't come across them more than once or twice before.
"Here," Harry said, "let us help you with that. I don't think you'll manage it by yourselves."
Harry looked down and was sickened to see a number of limbs protruding from the rubble. "How did they get in that position?" he wondered, before feeling even sicker at the thought of the damage beneath.
"Do you know who's under there?" he asked the two Hufflepuffs.
of them knew for certain, but Owen thought that Madam Rosmerta might
have been caught under the rubble, since she was nowhere to be seen.
and Ginny added their physical strength to Owen and Kevin's, and moved
the large block so that they could dig into the rubble.
meantime, Cho and Marietta returned and reported that there were people
out the back preventing exit, as well as at the front.
Harry cursed. "Fine way to spend your first date, eh Ginny," he said,
turning to his new-found girlfriend with a grimace.
Cho looked at him with sympathy.
I know this probably isn't the most convenient time to say this but,
best of luck to the two of you," Cho said. "Now, with that said,
everyone is waiting for you to tell them what the heck we do now!"
"Me?" Harry asked, "Why me?"
you've already taken charge, you're the only one with any experience in
crisis situations, and pretty much everyone else is panicking"
Ginny touched his arm. "She's right, Harry. You're the only one who people will respond to right now."
looked across at the doorway, where students were still scrambling to
get out, and just as quickly, scrambling to get back in again, as they
heard and saw curses hurled in their direction by the attackers.
"Okay," he agreed, "but I'm going to need some help with this."
Ginny, Cho, Marietta, and the two young Hufflepuffs nodded.
then. Cho, you're in charge of these two." Harry indicated Owen and
Kevin. "See if you can get down to any of these poor guys under the
Harry turned to Marietta. "I need you to maintain a
lookout from the kitchen to give us warning if we start getting
visitors from that entrance. At the moment, there's no problem with the
front entrance, since there are about 50 students blocking it."
considered this further, and looked with disdain at the scrum of
students trying to get out the front of the Three Broomsticks. Harry
scanned the room for someone who might actually be of use. Spying
Neville, he called him over and asked him to go with Marietta. Neville
quickly agreed, and he and Marietta headed off towards the kitchens to
Harry shouted for quiet and for the students to
stop panicking. Most of them did, and turned to him to see what he had
to say. He split them up into two groups. One group was to maintain a
watch on the attackers from the front door and provide advance warning
of any attempted entry to the building. The second group was assigned
to help Cho dig bodies out of the rubble.
Harry thought it odd
that the wards that Dumbledore and the rest of the staff normally set
on Hogsmeade to alert them of any threat, hadn't been set off, but for
now he had other things to worry about.
His first stop was the
main kitchen to check if the Floo network was up and running.
Unfortunately, the pinch of Floo powder that he was able to find was
not enough to trigger a connection.
The upper story was only
attic-sized and had largely caved in; the cellar provided no clues,
either. It appeared as though the only way out was through the
Harry returned to the main bar and
looked over to Cho's group, who had finished digging bodies out of the
rubble to find that there were three students and, as Owen had thought,
Madam Rosmerta. They were busy cleaning wounds, and checking for broken
bones, but none of the patients had regained consciousness. Cho had the
small team well organized and had arranged for warm water and towels.
Ginny arrived and sat with Harry.
"I think you should come and talk to Neville. He's got some interesting information and some speculation for you, too."
and Ginny made their way back to the kitchen door, where Neville and
Marietta were standing watch. Ginny had reported back that they were
constantly testing whether or not the doors were being watched, to
maintain the appearance that the students were still looking for an
escape route through the back.
"Harry, the folks out there
don't seem to have enough numbers to maintain fire on both exits and be
able to make an effort to get inside the building as well," Neville
began, "and I don't think they're Death Eaters, either."
looked out through the window at the group of attackers keeping their
wands trained on the back door. None of them looked familiar to Harry,
but they weren't wearing Death Eater robes and masks.
"So if they aren't Death Eaters, who are they?" Harry questioned
I think I recognise a couple of them out there as part of the
Durmstrang delegation to the Tri-wizard tournament," Neville suggested.
"Malfoy's out there, too, and although he's ordering them about like he
usually does, this isn't the sort of gathering that he could put
together – someone else must be in charge."
"So, who do you
think it is then?" Harry asked, suddenly lightening up a little. If it
was only some ex-Durmstrang students, it might be that he could fight
his way through to get help from Hogwarts.
"I'm not sure,"
Neville admitted, "but it might be Karkaroff. This might be an attempt
to get back in You-Know-Who's good graces."
this and thought it possible. He knew that Karkaroff had fled when the
Dark Mark burned on his arm. Harry had hoped that he was one less Death
Eater to deal with, but apparently not. Life was like that for Harry,
so he ventured back to the main bar and took a closer look at the
Flint. Check. Damn him, couldn't he stay away from Hogwarts? Weren't eight years enough?
Karkaroff. Check. Bugger. Perhaps battling his way through wasn't such a good idea, after all.
cheer from the excavating groups told Harry that at least there was
some good news. Cho brought Harry the news that Madam Rosmerta had
regained consciousness, and was asking for him. Harry made his was
through the throng of scared students to her side.
"Sorry, Harry," Madam Rosmerta apologised, "but I'm in no condition to help. You need to get the students out of here."
down into the cellar," she told him, "The bricks in the far wall are
loose. You should be able to pull them out so that you can all get
through to the cellar of Madam Puddifoot's next door. From there you
should be able to call Dumbledore through the Floo and get him to send
help. Get as many students as possible to Floo to the other end of
Hogsmeade and out of the way."
Harry winced visibly at the
name of the teashop but otherwise looked relieved that there was a way
out. He started the two third year Hufflepuffs moving the bricks in the
cellar, and Cho and Ginny organised the students' escape to the next
shop with little effort; between them, ensuring that the injured were
transported safely and carefully, did not take much time.
they supervised the evacuation of the final students through the Floo
in Madam Puddifoot's, Harry turned to Ginny with a satisfied but tired
smile. "I'm sorry that our fist date had to go like this. It's not
exactly been a bundle of laughs, has it?"
Ginny just smiled and said, "Never mind, we'll have to go somewhere safer, for our next first date, but for now, I believe you owe me a kiss as your part of the deal."