Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
- William Wordsworth
Minerva McGonagall looked out her office window which offered a lovely view of the training field. She couldn't help but smile as she watched Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley playing a high-speed game of follow the leader. She watched as Harry passed over Ginny, circled her and as they both slowed down, they shared a sweet kiss.
Like the rest of the castle, the staff had heard all about the couple's first kiss in the Gryffindor common room after the Quidditch final. Minerva thought the two of them made a lovely couple. She'd seen them all over the grounds in the past few days – he was helping her prepare for her OWLS or they were simply walking hand in hand around the grounds. She'd turned away at a few more private moments she'd stumbled upon over the past few weeks.
Smiling, she recalled coming across the two of them in an empty classroom the evening before. She'd thought she'd known what she would find, but when she looked through the door, she saw Harry sitting on the floor against the wall as Ginny practiced fifth year charms. He was encouraging and correcting her in turns.
Merlin knows, if anyone deserved something normal like a first love, it was Harry Potter. While Minerva would never admit to having any favourites, she would definitely count Harry as one of them. Many people thought Hermione Granger would be a favourite and while Minerva appreciated the girl's mind and earnestness; Harry's nobility, humility, recklessness, and charm had won her over. She'd always had a bit of a soft spot for troublemakers going back to Harry's father and godfather. Harry was quite different from them, but he did manage to cause quite a bit of trouble in his own way.
Minerva smiled as she recalled her summer romance with Dougal McGregor, so many years ago. While it had ended sadly, she could still remember the simple joys of walking into town with him. A thought crossed her mind and she contemplated it as she watched the young couple. Her mind made up; she gathered her notes for the upcoming staff meeting. She knew that Severus would be upset at her decision, but so be it.
As the sun started setting, Harry reluctantly signalled to Ginny that they needed to land. She nodded her understanding. Harry landed first and watched as she did so. He loved watching her fly. Like him, she was a natural on a broom, she wasn't quite as daring with diving, but they both loved flying high and fast.
When she landed, he reached out and kissed her gently. Some of her hair had fallen out of the ponytail she wore, and he tucked an errant strand behind her ear. "Thanks for a great afternoon."
"I had a wonderful time," Ginny replied and a shy smile.
They each shouldered their brooms and walked hand in hand to the castle. It was such a lovely evening, he wished they could stay outside forever.
"You have to protect me if Hermione comes after me for not spending every spare moment glued to a book," Ginny said teasingly.
"Don't worry, I'll get your brother to distract her. Besides, you've spent a lot of time revising this week and you're much cleverer than me, so you probably don't need to study so much. You deserve a break."
Upon reaching the castle, the couple climbed Gryffindor Tower and quickly showed and changed for dinner. Harry was pulling on his favourite light green shirt when Ron entered.
"Where have you been?"
Brushing his hair, Harry said, "Ginny and I were flying this afternoon."
Ron raised his eyebrows. "Hermione won't like that."
Giving up on his hair, Harry shrugged. "She'd been revising all week. She deserved a break."
"I'm sure she'll do well," Ron agreed. "She's not as fanatical as Hermione, but she does well in school; better than me."
Harry nodded. He hadn't appreciated how clever she was until he started helping her revise for OWLs. He didn't think she'd have any problems with the exams either.
Clattering down the steps to the common room, he couldn't help but smile to see Ginny waiting for him. After months of mooning over her and being insanely jealous of Dean, Ginny was waiting for him. He definitely appreciated the fitted grey skirt and lavender shirt she was wearing.
"You look really pretty," he said as he kissed her on the cheek.
She blushed but smiled up at him. "Thank you."
The four started down the steps towards the Great Hall. Hermione was quizzing Ginny on how much progress she'd made with her revising.
"Luna and I have a study group after dinner for Ancient Runes," Ginny explained.
"Luna?" Hermione asked sceptically.
"Yes, she's top of the class in Ancient Runes," Ginny said stiffly.
"Are you meeting in the library?" Harry interrupted. He knew that Hermione meant well, but she could be rather overbearing when it came to academics.
Ginny nodded. "We'll be meeting in the library until it closes."
"Great, I'll meet you there," Harry said as he squeezed her hand.
Glancing at the clock over the mantle, Harry scribbled a quick summary on his essay on Inferi. It wasn't like Snape was going to giving him a good grade anyhow. After casting a quick drying spell on the parchment, Harry rolled it up and stuffed it in his bag.
"Going to meet Ginny?" Ron asked as Harry stood up.
"Don't stay out past curfew," Hermione warned as she looked up from her essay.
"I won't," Harry muttered as he left the common room. "At least, I'll try not to."
He easily reached the library and found Ginny and Luna. Ginny smiled when she saw him. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek before sitting down next to her.
"How's it going?"
"I think we'll do well," Ginny said before looking over at Luna.
"Of course, we will," Luna replied firmly.
As the two witches put their books away, Harry asked, "Luna, do you want us to walk you back to your common room."
She looked at them before answering. "I don't think so. I think the two of you would rather be alone together."
Blushing, Harry couldn't argue with that statement. Luckily, Justin was also leaving the library and promised he would make sure Luna returned to the Ravenclaw common room without incident.
Ginny stuffed the last of her books into the bag and waved to Luna and Justin. She reached out for Harry's hand as they entered the corridor. Looking around, she pulled him into an alcove she'd found hidden behind a tapestry of dancing goats.
Pushing him against the wall, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down to kiss her. He eagerly responded. His kisses were brilliant, and she could feel sparks running through her body as they kissed and explored. She loved the feeling of his open mouth kisses on her neck and the feel of his hands as they traced the soft skin above the waistband of her skirt.
It was so easy to lose track of time while kissing him. She didn't know how long they'd been there, long enough that she knew he'd pulled her hair completely out of her ponytail and both their clothes were in disarray. She'd pulled his shirt off completely while he'd made quite a bit of progress in unbuttoning hers. He was a bit shyer to instigate things than she was, but he always responded so positively. She loved running her hands up his chest and feeling his heart beating so rapidly.
The light dimmed and the ten minute until curfew warning sounded. Ginny sighed in disappointment. Harry leaned his head back against the wall trying to clear his head. Ginny was so intoxicating; things could so easily get out of hand.
"Sorry," he said with a crooked smile. "I just…you are so beautiful and so amazing. I get carried away."
"I get a little carried away myself," she admitted as she tucked her shirt back into her skirt.
Checking to make sure the coast was clear, Harry led her down the corridor to a short cut he knew that would take them to Gryffindor Tower. They were walking towards the Fat Lady when a familiar looking cat came out of the shadows. Harry fought to keep from blushing. They hadn't done anything wrong and they were still a few minutes before curfew.
"Mr Potter, I was looking for you." Professor McGonagall looked to couple up and down. Her sharp eyes saw the tell-tale signs of their activities, but she didn't comment. "I have spoken to Professor Snape and you will be serving your detention with me tomorrow instead of him. Report to my office at nine in the morning. You will be outside, so dress accordingly. Miss Weasley, I believe you should accompany him."
She bit back a smile as she swept past the bewildered couple.
At the appointed time, Harry knocked on the door of the Transfiguration office. When bidden to enter, the couple entered the office.
"Mr Potter, Miss Weasley."
"Professor," both of them greeted her. They took seats across from her desk.
"I have a chore for you to do, Mr Potter," Professor McGonagall said. "I normally do this, but I believe that the two of you will do well."
"Of course," Harry said with a glance at Ginny who nodded.
Professor McGonagall handed Harry a sheet of parchment that contained what looked like a shopping list. There were some potions ingredients, bottles of ink, and sheets of parchment among other things. "We are close to the end of the school year, so we just need to top off our supplies. We place large orders in August and January, but there are always a few items that run out faster than we anticipate.
"Normally, I or one of the other professors will go into Hogsmeade or we will send one of the house-elves, but I thought perhaps you and Miss Weasley could do this for us."
Harry felt his eyes go wide; this was the last thing he expected. "Of course, we can do this."
"Excellent," she replied. She handed him a moneybag. "This should cover the cost of the items. If you wish to bring your moneybag, you can indulge in a bit of shopping as well. I imagine that you will wish to stop by The Three Broomsticks for lunch." Her eyes twinkled a bit as she said, "I expect you should be able to finish this by three this afternoon. I will meet you on the steps in ten minutes to let you out of the gate."
Twenty minutes later, they found themselves walking hand in hand to Hogsmeade. It was a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky with only a few clouds. Flowers were blooming along the path to Hogsmeade providing lots of colour and beautiful scents. Bees and butterflies were flitting among the flowers and Harry saw a few rabbits hopping along the edge of the forest.
"It is brilliant," he said. "I thought I was going to have to wait forever to take you to Hogsmeade."
"I know, I couldn't believe it when she told us what we were doing today. I didn't imagine that Professor McGonagall basically sent us on a date to Hogsmeade, right?"
Harry laughed. "No, you didn't imagine it. This is so much better than sitting in the horrid dungeon rewriting detention records."
"I think we should get our chores out of the way early and then we can spend the rest of the day having fun."
The couple chatted easily on the walk into town. Harry mentally contrasted it with his disastrous trip with Cho. He was so glad that he was here with Ginny. She was telling him of the stories Bill had told her about Hogsmeade.
"He was always the best letter writer," she explained. "I was so little when he started at Hogwarts, he told mum that he wanted to make sure I didn't forget him. He would send me pictures or little gifts. Once he started coming to Hogsmeade, he would send me sugar quills or chocolate frogs. He always made Hogsmeade sound like such an amazing place. I wanted to live here when I was little."
Harry laughed. "It would be an interesting place to live, but could you imagine living here on a Hogwarts weekend."
"I think I want to try living in London for a while. Freya lives in London and she's always talking about plays and museums."
"I'd like that, not someplace like Grimmauld Place, but a more modern flat. London is such an amazing city and I've seen so little of it. I'd also like to visit Godric's Hollow." He flushed and looked down. "I saw a picture of my parents' house in our history book. It looked nice – not big, but it looked like a fun house. Sirius said that my parents loved it there."
"I've seen pictures," Ginny said squeezing his hand. "It does look nice."
"Sirius said that my mum had a rose garden. I'd like to be able to plant a flower garden. I'm not as good as Neville, but I do always like tending my aunt's flowers. She'd very boring in planning in garden. I'd like to have a really colourful garden."
"That sounds nice. I'm good with any flowers that attract butterflies or fairies."
By this time, they'd reached the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Consulting the list, they decided to start with the apothecary. It was on the same road as the Hog's Head.
"I don't think I've ever been here before," Harry commented as they pushed the door open.
"I've only been once. Colin has a bad habit of dropping potion ingredients around Snape. I came here with him once so he could replenish his potion supplies."
"May I help you?" asked the tall thin women behind the counter.
"Yes, please," Ginny pulled out the list of ingredients needed. "Professor McGonagall asked us to purchase these." She held out the Hogwarts' moneybag.
The clerk raised an eyebrow at the young couple, she'd never seen Minerva send students to purchase supplies, but there was no way they'd have the Hogwarts' moneybag without her permission. Looking over the list, she asked, "Shall I have the ingredients delivered to the school?"
Harry nodded. "That would be brilliant, thanks."
Leaving the apothecary, they stopped at Dervish and Banges. After they entered, a voice called out, "I'll be out in a few minutes. Feel free to look around!"
The couple wandered down the aisle. There were self-warming blankets and sleeping bags along with a selection of tents. The next aisle held many items Harry was unfamiliar with, so Ginny explained as many as she could.
"Hello." A dark-skinned young man appeared behind the counter. "Welcome to Dervish and Banges. What can I do for you?"
This time, Harry explained their purpose. The clerk nodded. "I will have the potion vials and racks sent up to the castle."
"Thank you!" Harry said as they left the shop. A quick trip to Scrivenshaft's completed their purchases for the school. Exiting the shop, they looked up and down High Street trying to decide where to go next.
"Can we stop in Gladrags?" Ginny asked. "I always like looking at the new clothes they have."
"Sure," Harry replied.
There was a colourful display of summer clothing in the window. Harry was actually spending more time watching Ginny than looking at the clothes. He wished he could give her all the new clothes she wanted, but he knew that wouldn't be accepted. She was so beautiful; she should have beautiful things.
He followed her into the shop. She made a beeline for the brightly coloured tops. She held one up against her, it was yellow with flowers on it. There was blue lace around the hem. She sighed. "This is so pretty."
She opened her moneybag. Harry could tell by the look on her face that she didn't have enough. "I can lend you some money."
She looked up at him. "Are you sure you don't mind?"
He shook his head. "Of course not."
With a happy squeal, she kissed him briefly. "Thank you! I saw this in their catalogue and really wanted it."
"It will look great on you."
After buying the shirt, they left the shop. Harry noticed a flower shop two doors down. The owner was setting up some flowers outside. They walked down to the display.
Ginny recognized the look in his eyes. "Harry, you don't have to buy me so much."
"I know," he said. "I just…I have all this money just sitting there. You are so special to me and I want to buy you pretty things. Please, let me do this."
Seeing the honesty in his eyes, she nodded. "Okay, thank you."
He chose a bouquet of yellow and pink tulips with some yellow and white daffodils. Blushing, she took the offered bouquet. She'd never been given flowers before and it made her feel quite special.
She spotted a potted bluebell plant inside the shop. "Harry, can we send that up to Professor McGonagall? I know she likes bluebells, because she mentioned it in class one day. That way we can thank her for today."
Together they chose the plant they wanted to send her. Ginny found a card with a striped cat on it. "We should use this one."
He laughed. "Definitely."
The rest of the morning was spent wandering into the different shops. They didn't purchase anything in most of the shops, but Harry had persuaded her to accept a novel she'd wanted and they chose a selection of sweets from Honeydukes to share. She didn't know yet about the bracelet he'd bought her while she was looking at the necklaces.
After a delicious lunch at the Three Broomsticks, they walked around. Harry took her to the Shrieking Shack and told her the true story of what happened the day he'd met Sirius. Sitting on a log and looking at the ramshackle house where his father and his friends had spent so much time, Harry found for the first time how easy it was to talk about Sirius. Ginny was so understanding and so easy to talk to; she held his hand and offered her quiet support as he talked.
He wiped his eyes and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her into his side. "Thank you, Ginny."
She kissed him on the cheek. "You are welcome."
Together, they walked up to the cave where Sirius had stayed during the Triwizard tournament. They sat down on the grass outside the cave and looked down at the village. Harry wrapped his arm around her shoulder and Ginny cuddled into his side.
Soon they found themselves wrapped in each other's arms, as they kissed, Ginny pulled Harry down on the ground next to her. The feel of his body so intimately pressed against her was thrilling.
"Gin, we have to stop," Harry said eventually. He knew that before long they would do something he didn't think they were ready for yet. He was propped up on one elbow looking down at her. Her hair was spread out around her and her lips were bright red and swollen. He couldn't help but drop another kiss on them.
"I know," Ginny said as she pulled her shirt down. While she didn't want to stop, she didn't really want her first time to be on the side of a mountain in the view of the village.
Sitting up, Harry pulled his shirt back on. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a box tied up with a golden ribbon. He handed it to Ginny after she sat up.
"Harry, what is this?"
"Open it," he urged.
With slightly shaking hands, she opened the box to find a gold link charm bracelet. He'd attached a sword, a broom, and a lightning bolt charm. Tears filled her eyes as she looked at it. "Harry, this is beautiful!"
Smiling, he took it out of the box and placed in on her wrist. "I couldn't decide on what charms and you can pick different charms if you don't like those."
"No, they are perfect!" She said as she fingered the charms.
He sighed. "I think we need to head back."
"I know. I've had the best day."
"Me too," he said with a smile. "This has been like a dream come true for me today. Spending the whole day with you without worrying about anything else."
They returned to the castle exactly at three in the afternoon. Professor McGonagall was waiting for them by the front gate. Harry returned the Hogwarts' moneybag and explained that all the shopkeepers were sending up the supplies.
"Thank you, Mr Potter."
Surprising both of them, Harry hugged the older witch. "Thank you."
Together, Harry and Ginny walked down to the lake, unwilling to let the afternoon end. In the coming months, both Harry and Ginny would relive this day over and over. It was enough to keep them going until they were able to reunite after the war.