Author's Note: I'm not happy with this chapter. I'm not sure why. It didn't help that I got less response from my betas than usual. There is a good chance that I will re-write this chapter later, but for now, I consider it ready to post.
There is exactly one scene left for Ginger Snaps, the return to Hogwarts. After I complete it, but before I post it, I intend to go through the entire story and make sure I didn't create any plot holes due to serialization. Some of my other stories have this issue, and I want to make sure the regular readers get a notification of the complete and corrected version. Chapters will be noted as revised as they are updated as I work towards the final version.
This chapter was revised on July 31, 2018
Chapter Fifteen Kiss to Make it Better
Molly Weasley watched her daughter descend from the stairs. She couldn't call her a baby, or even a little child, anymore. Ginny had apparently decided to dress up a bit for her birthday, wearing a pair of those muggle jeans that looked like they were almost painted on her daughter's body. She wore a short sleeve collared shirt with three buttons, whose dark green color played went rather well with her hair. Molly could tell that her daughter had not forgotten to wear her bra, either.
It had been somewhat of a surprise when Molly had come up to Ginny's room the prior night to discover her daughter removing a bra to get ready for bed. She'd thought she'd get to go with her daughter to get her first bra, but that ship had sailed. Ginny was definitely growing up, and she was certainly not the scared and mind scarred little girl that she'd sent off for help on Spinner's End.
Molly met her daughter before she could sit down at the table, and gave her a hug. "Happy Birthday, Ginny. I didn't expect you up this early. Only your father and I are up at the moment."
"Happy Birthday, Ginny," Arthur said, hugging Ginny as well "I'm afraid I was unable to get today off, but I should be back on time for your party. Unfortunately, it looks like it's already time for me to go."
"Bye Dad," Ginny said. "I won't open the presents until you get home."
As soon as Arthur left, Molly took her place by the stove as her daughter sat down at the table. "Same birthday breakfast as last year?" she asked
"Actually, Mum, can I have scrambled eggs instead of poached this time," Ginny said. "And three sausages as well."'
"You can, but I expect you to eat them all," Molly said, summoning the eggs from the pantry. This new confidence that her daughter was displaying was good. It was obvious that the mind healer had made the too scared to sleep little girl that had come home from Hogwarts a thing of the past.
"Not a problem," Ginny returned, pulling one of the slices of toast from the plate in the center of the table and buttering it. "I've been so hungry in the morning lately."
"You're a growing girl, it's to be expected," Molly said, mentally adjusting to the fact that her daughter seemed to have become a young woman since she left for Hogwarts. It seemed like just yesterday she'd been the pigtailed little girl. "I see you took advantage of your summer arrangements to get some new clothes. They look good on you, if a little bit tight."
"They're supposed to be tight," Ginny said, blushing a bit, before continuing defensively, "and I had to get new clothes to fit in with the story Harry and I were given."
"Oh, I understand that," Molly dismissed. The mind healer had stressed that trying to keep her daughter the same little girl that had left for Hogwarts could cause a regression in Ginny's treatment, so Molly was doing her best to treat her daughter like she'd wanted to be treated at her age. It wasn't easy. She sighed. "I just wished I'd realized that you needed a bra. Taking one's daughter to get her first is a ritual that I had been looking forward to, especially after all your brothers. It does look like you did get a good fit."
"Yes, both of us did," Ginny said. "Did you hear Ron found Harry's bra last night?"
"So, that's how that started," Molly said, recalling the boy who now could be a girl's return to the kitchen last night. "Has spending the summer with Harry being a girl cooled your plan for him to be your first kiss that you've had since you were six." Molly watched her daughter's face blush more than it had during the butter dish incident the previous summer.
"I got him to promise to give me a kiss today for my birthday," Ginny said softly, with her head suddenly looking down at the food that Molly had just put in front of her daughter. "He probably sees me as a sister after this summer."
"Oh, I hardly think that," Molly replied. Much as she didn't want her little girl to grow up and start dating, she knew the signs of a boy starting to get interested in a girl, and Ginny had come in from swimming in the pond just as Harry arrived. "I'm pretty sure he caught a glance of you while you were wearing that scandalous scarlet swimming costume that you somehow snuck past me yesterday afternoon."
"Hermione said it was a modest one for the muggle world!" Ginny shot back, looking up defiantly at her mother. "She picked it out for me."
"Maybe it is, for muggles," Molly replied. She was sure about it now, her mother's curse to have a child just as willful and determined (though her mother had used other words) as she had been had taken hold. "I do not want to see you wearing it away from home, though. In any case, if I'm a judge, Harry seemed to appreciate it on you."
"He did?" Ginny asked, looking up at her mother, apparently for confirmation.
And it looked like her daughter just needed a bit of a boost to her courage, to be that confident young woman that knew what she inspired, and did what she wanted. She was sure that with a bit more encouragement, she would no longer have the blushing little girl who Molly had thought was too shy to even speak to a boy who wasn't part of her immediate family. Until today, she'd only really seen that confidence once, in Diagon Alley. "I grew up with two brothers, and have six sons, and then there was your father. I know what a boy looks like when he sees a girl he likes. And that boy is looking at you. Just do me one favor, wait until you complete your NEWTs before you make me a grandmother."
"We're not going that far," Ginny blushed even more. "He just promised me a real romantic like kiss sometime today. Assuming he remembers and doesn't decide that kissing me is gross."
"Oh, he won't," Molly said. "Now, eat your breakfast. I won't have you fainting due to hunger before you get your kiss from the Boy-Who-Lived."
Molly watched her daughter devour her breakfast, much like her sons did and sighed. Why did her little girl have to grow up?
"The birthday girl gets to play on the Nimbus," Harry stated, handing over his broom to Ginny. Ginny's mouth dropped. She hadn't expected him to let her play Quidditch on his Nimbus 2000. It was the best broom that she'd ever seen, as the Nimbus 2001's incremental changes were not in the right direction. Watching Malfoy loose to Harry had proven that to her. Not that Malfoy was a good seeker, but that game had shown so many flaws on all the Slytherin's flying with their 2001s that it was clear that the 2000 was still Nimbus's best broom.
"Are you sure you want to let her fly the Nimbus," her brother Ron interjected. "She's just had Hogwarts flying classes this year, and hardly flew at all afterwards."
Oh, she was so going to get Ron. It was too bad that they were not allowed to do magic out of school or he'd already be suffering from the bat boogey hex. She was very good with that, almost as good as she flew.
"Ron, you know why that was the case, and she's good," Harry said. "Professor Snape said he fears when Ginny replaces one of our chasers on the team, just from watching her first lesson at Hogwarts. Ginny, what was your grade from Madam Hooch?"
"Outstanding, Harry," Ginny said, her hand still itching to draw her wand. "She said I was number six, though I don't understand why."
"That means you're the sixth of those students currently at Hogwarts," Harry said. "She'll let you know if you ever fall out of the top ten, and the list is on her door."
"And where are you on that list?" Ginny asked. Harry mumbled an indistinct reply. "I couldn't hear you, Harry."
Harry replied a bit louder and clearer, with a blush of embarrassment, but still not loud, "First."
"So, I'll fly yours, and you can go over there and see if Bill will let you borrow his Firebolt," Ginny said. "I want to see if Katie was right about you as a Chaser, and then we can try seeking against each other, if someone can find Charlie's old practice snitch."
"Why would you need a practice snitch, Ginny, when you can go against a real professional one," a familiar voice said from behind her.
Ginny turned around and spotted the stocky form of her dragon taming brother, idly walking towards her, a broom in one hand, and a snitch being let go and caught quickly in the other. "Charlie!" she cried out, leaving the broom in Harry's hands as she rushed into her brother's arms. "I thought you couldn't get away from Romania."
"Well if you knew I was coming, it wouldn't be a surprise," Charlie said hugging her. "And after what Bill told me, I really needed to see you." Ginny stepped out of the hug. "Now, birthday girl, what are the teams?"
Ginny looked at the gathered group. She considered the teams carefully. They were going to play skins and shirts. Making Harry the seeker for skins was a consideration, but he had some scars that he really didn't want to show, and she'd probably be too distracted if he was playing opposite her shirtless. Spending the summer with a girl Harry had not dulled her crush on the Boy-Who-Live. If anything it had made her attraction to Harry stronger, and when she'd seen him as a boy again, she's felt light headed.
"Hermione, still don't want to play?" Hermione shook her head. "Since Mum won't let me be skins anymore, they are Percy as Keeper, Charlie as Seeker, Fred and George as Chasers. No beaters today. And for shirt, Ron as Keeper, Harry as Seeker, Bill and me as Chasers. Seekers can be the third chaser if they aren't finding the snitch. Hermione, can you ref? Oh, and we're going to cream you."
Ginny grabbed the Nimbus 2000 from Harry, and Harry got the Firebolt from Bill. Bill and everyone else got one of the various models of Cleansweeps kept in the broom shed, save Charlie who apparently had his own Nimbus 2000. They took into the air, Hermione tossed the quaffle into the air, and the game began.
Harry Potter had promised Ginny a kiss, some time on her birthday. It wasn't going to be something that was hard to give, even with her brothers being nearby. There was just something about Ginny. It was something new to Harry, probably a result of his treatments, and the insight it had given him to girls. Of course it was different when you weren't the girl, but even as a girl, Harry was a boy, and since he'd arrived at the Burrow, he'd felt a new feeling around Ginny, with male hormones flowing through his body again, especially when she had just finished playing Quidditch. She'd just landed right in front of him. Something about the fiery nimbus of hair, the sheen of sweat on her body from a hard played game, and the happy smile on her face, took Harry's breath away. He didn't care about who might be watching, even if her brothers had made comments about beating the boys away from her with sticks. Those brown pools of eyes drew him closer, and she had asked him to give it to her.
He took her into his arms, and just like he promised her, Harry dipped Ginny in his arms, and bent over to press his lips up against hers. He felt her return the kiss, her lips parting to let her tongue touch his lips. He returned the favor, not letting up the kiss, no snog, as he pressed her body against his, raising her out of the dip slightly, but not breaking the press of mouths together.
Harry had never really felt anything like it before, kissing Ginny. His body reacted, and he didn't stop, not as long as Ginny's arms held around his torso, her tongue searching out his tonsils. He could hear the rush of the wind on around them, shutting out all other sounds, as this first kiss took away everything else, even the warmth of the bright summer sun on his body receded in the warmth of her lips pressed against his. It deserved nothing less than all capital letters in its description.
Eventually he pulled away, ending it, not due to desire to stop, but due to the weakness of his arms holding her up. He brought her back to standing before he lost all strength in his arms. He could see Ginny's blush at close range, and from the heat in his cheeks, knew he had the same.
"We've got to do that again," Ginny whispered into his ear, and Harry had to agree, as the world came back into focus, much like it did when he put his glasses on in the morning. But this morning was different. It was a warm feeling deep in Harry's gut, and he did not want to let go. It appeared to be mutual, as Ginny kept one arm around him as she turned back.
"Yes," was Harry's single word reply. He didn't trust himself to speak more at the moment. This was not what he'd expected when he'd agreed, while he was still hiding as a girl, to kiss Ginny for her birthday. He hadn't expected it to involve so much feeling. He supposed that it might be because of his new resolve not to repress anything he felt, to experience it, instead of hiding what he felt for fear of his Uncle Vernon's reaction.
"Oh no you're not," Percy broke into their mutual romantic bubble. "I know Mum said you could have a kiss from a boy at twelve, but I don't think she meant a kiss like that."
"Oh really, Percival," Ginny shot back, her arm still around Harry's back. "And that girl you're writing, you know, the one I caught you in the broom closet at Hogwarts with, when did you kiss her for the first time? Or has your memory of that been overwritten by whatever you two were doing half naked in a broom closet."
"Oh, bold, Gin-Gin," Fred said, putting his arm around Ginny's shoulders at the same time George's went around Harry's. "Pulling out the black mail, so easily. Of course, fortune favors the bold."
"Which may be why you arranged for your 'first kiss' to be with Harry today," George continued.
"Assuming that it was a first kiss," Fred shot back.
"It was quite a bit hotter than most first kisses," George noted. "Might be just the first public kiss."
"Which might mean that Ginny beat Percy to that," Fred said. "We didn't even know he was talking to Penny until Ginny let out the bag at the Leaving Feast."
"Didn't beat us," George noted.
"Beat Ron," Fred noted, looking over at his youngest brother. "But Ginny has always been bolder than Ron."
"What, Ron, you think you could give a better kiss than Harry did?" George asked. Ron looked like he was about to make a reply. "You'll have to find another girl, as little sisters don't count. Maybe you should ask Hermione if she'd let you kiss her."
"But, but," Ron tried to speak.
"We did see that rather interesting approach that ended up as a handshake," Fred said. "What do you say, Fred, does Ron have the courage to kiss her?"
"Not for half the knuts under your pillow, George," George replied.
Harry watched as his friend went from red sputtering to sudden determination, just as Hermione stepped out of the Burrow. He watched as Ron marched over to his best girl friend. Then in strong imitation of what he'd seen Harry do with Ginny, took Hermione in his arms, dipped a lot deeper than Harry had, and kissed her.
It wasn't as long as Harry and Ginny had kissed, Harry was sure of that. He was fairly certain that neither had explored each other's mouths with their tongues, either. In fact it ended with Ron losing balance, and both of them falling to the ground, breaking the kiss. Ron and Hermione scrambled back to stand.
Ron stared back, defiance in his eyes. "Don't have the courage to kiss my girl," he growled. That was enough for Hermione to move from a somewhat shocked and surprised expression to a smile. She pulled Ron back towards her, and darted in to deliver a very brief second kiss to his cheek. Then Ron turned, his arm going around Hermione's waist, and escorting her back into the Burrow for Ginny's present opening.
Harry took a few steps forward with Ginny's arm still around his back, and his around hers. Fred and George's arms stayed behind, left in the air in reaction to what they'd just seen. "Come on, boys," Ginny said. "No ice cream until I've opened my presents, and I really want to see if you were smart enough to get a more mature present for me this year.
Severus Snape looked over his classroom. This school year was going to be different. For the first time since his third year teaching, he had a new plan for the younger years. It was a little unconventional, especially the new first year segment on ingredient preparation. He was going to have to insist that the house elves clean extensively before certain segments, especially given that he was actually planning on making scalloped potatoes with the results of several different student's potato slicing.
He'd finally managed to get the house elves to replace the student tables, and the blackboard was actually black again. It wouldn't stay that way. Severus had a real problem keeping it dark. He adjusted the positioning of the lights. He wished he could have good incandescent lights, like he had at Spinner's End. It was much better, and certainly more reliable. He felt a slight draft, and looked up to discover the Headmaster standing in the doorway.
"I had heard that you'd returned to Hogwarts to check on your classroom, Severus," Dumbledore said by way of explanation. "I understand that your summer borders have left, and they are both much better for their stay."
"Perhaps," Severus allowed. He was actually sure that both had found what they needed while living on Spinner's End, but he wasn't going to take any credit for it. His involvement was to provide housing, not to cure their ills.
"I understand that you're planning on moving Miss Weasley up to third year potions," Dumbledore said.
"It seems that last year's issues concealed a prodigy," Severus admitted. "There is a chance that she may actually be able to move to fourth year. I may have her assist in making that potion you have asked me to provide to the unworthy Defense Professor this year."
Severus watched the Headmaster's eyebrow raise. "Miss Weasley is capable of assisting in the brewing of Wolfsbane?"
"She may be able to improve it," Severus replied. "The latest scum you hired might actually stop complaining about the taste."
"Severus, Remus Lupin may be the best and most qualified Defense Professor we've had in the last decade," Dumbledore said. "His Defense Mastery work was a cut above even senior Aurors. You will treat him with respect."
"As long as he keeps the mutt out of Hogwarts," Severus growled, "and I don't have to remark upon our school years with glee."
"Severus, I shall never expect you to remark upon anything with glee," Dumbledore said. "Professor Lupin will need his first dose two days before the Welcoming Feast."
"It will be ready."