Can't Stop Loving You

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: If only I were JK Rowling, but I'm not, and we all know it, so it'd make me really happy if I didn't get sued(=

I have enough for a few chapters already, so I'll try to post every 2 or 3 days (maybe a little more). Be patient with me, I'm new at this. Happy reading!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It had been a horrible, boring summer.

Harry collapsed on his bed, and sat staring vacantly out the window. Though he had, for the most part, been kept informed about Voldemort's limited activities, and received letters almost daily, Harry felt somehow excluded from the goings on of the wizarding world. Letters were poor company, and Harry would read them repeatedly, but although they helped to appease his feelings of loneliness, he often found that he was given too much time to dwell on his less then happy thoughts. 'This must be how Sirius felt in the months before he died' Harry thought sadly, but quickly squashed the thought when he felt himself start to come close to tears.

The Dursleys had developed a policy for stoic silence when around him, and sometimes Harry felt as if he was being swallowed hole by the oppressive quiet. His only escape was Miss Figg's house and, though she was only a squib, he found that he felt more at home just being in her presence, as she was the closest connection he had to the world in which he truly belonged during the long summer.

He got up now from the bed, and decided to go give the eccentric old lady a visit. He walked downstairs, his mood brightening slightly at the thought of being able to talk to someone 'on the outside' as he liked to call the world surrounding the Dursley's house, when, quite suddenly, a loud crash from the living room disturbed his chain of thought, and he missed the last two steps, banging painfully into the wall opposite them. Harry recognized that noise: someone had just arrived by floo powder.

"NOT AGAIN!" he heard Vernon bellow from upstairs, the first words Harry had heard from Vernon in weeks, and was pushed roughly aside by his Uncle, who was muttering under his breath, "The utter nerve of those people, how dare they! Well, I'll show them, I will." but what exactly Uncle Vernon meant to show them Harry would never know, for he had just followed his uncle into the living room, which was in shambles.

Through the dust and soot settling around the room, Harry could make out the figure of someone stepping out of the fireplace, vigorously brushing the filth out of his clothes. 'It must be Mr. Weasly!' Harry thought happily. His uncle's reaction was to the other extreme.

Vernon's eyes appeared to be popping out of their sockets, and his breath was coming out in angry, irritated gasps. He looked as if he were about to suffer from a stroke, but Harry wasn't so lucky. Vernon instead began to yell like a lunatic-

"GET OUT!!! Get out of my house this very instant!! I don't care what threats your kind make towards me, I'll not have my household disrupted in such a manner! You go right back where you came from or I'll. . . I'll. . ." For the second time in as many minutes Vernon's voice had faded into nothing, and it took Harry only seconds to see why.

Looking over toward the fireplace, he saw not Mr. Weasly, but the only person who seemed to scare the be-jeebers out of Vernon, Mad-Eye Moody.

"You were saying, Dursley?" Mad-Eye asked, still patting at the great clouds of dust rising from his tattered cloak. Finally, he gave a huff of frustration, taking out his wand, and Harry sensed his uncle Vernon stiffening beside him. Mad-Eye, not sensing or not caring about the discomfort he had caused Vernon, gave a flick of his wand and the room was restored to its previously shining state.

"You know, Dursley, you really ought to think about cleaning out that chimney sometime," Mad-Eye complained loudly. Harry backed away from Vernon, who was starting to turn purple in his suppressed rage, but Vernon stayed silent in an unprecedented example of self-control. Mad-Eye then turned to Harry, "Go pack up Harry, Dumbledore wants you to be taken to Hogwarts immediately."

"Straight to Hogwarts!" Harry said, shocked, "But, I-I don't understand-"

"No time to explain, boy, I have other things to get to today, you know. But, I wanted to see to it personally that you got safely to Hogwarts. You never know who to trust these days. . ."

"But what about-"

"I told ya, Harry, it will be explained to you when we get to Hogwarts, now go pack, and be quick about it!"

Harry, resisting the urge to argue, went grudgingly up the stairs. He quickly packed his few belongings, grabbing Hedwig's empty cage on the way out of his room. He came back into the living room, struggling with his heavy trunks, to find that the other Dursleys had joined Vernon in his shocked silence. Mad-Eye was pacing impatiently in front of the fireplace, and Harry saw him jab his wand at the air, where the time appeared written wispily, and Harry guessed that this was Mad-Eye's way of monitoring how much time he had been waiting.

Harry cleared his throat, and Mad-Eye looked up, saying "Finally! Well, let's get going, then!" Harry stuck his luggage in the fireplace, and then crammed himself in after it. He did not bother to say farewell to the Dursleys, knowing he would not get a response, and Mad-Eye just muttered "Ready?" to Harry before stepping into the fireplace and, in a matter of seconds, he was falling out of the fireplace in Dumbledore's office.

"Ah, Harry! So good to see you. Mad-Eye, you had no troubles, I presume?"

"Not a one," Mad-Eye said, with a thoroughly disappointed air, as though he had been hoping for some entertainment. "I'll be off now, if that's quite all right with you, Dumbledore."

"Go right ahead, Moody, don't let me keep you!" Dumbledore said jovially, and with that Mad-Eye disappeared back through the fireplace.

Harry turned to ask Dumbledore why he had been sent to Hogwarts two weeks before term started, but Dumbledore was already explaining before he could utter a word.

"I decided to put an end to your misery, Harry," Dumbledore said sympathetically, and Harry blushed. Had he really been that obvious? "I gathered from your letters that you were extremely unhappy, and I decided to have you brought here so you could have some company."

"But, Professor, there won't be anyone here for another two weeks, couldn't I go to the burrow instead?" Harry asked hopefully.

Dumbledore shook his head, and Harry felt his mood drop. "I'm afraid that you would find the Burrow unoccupied at this time Harry." Dumbledore said, and Harry felt worry stem up inside him. "Oh no, nothing like that, my boy, Arthur and Molly are off doing work for the ministry, which is hard pressed for help, and Ron and Virginia are also staying here until the beginning of term."

"Ron's here!" Harry exclaimed happily, his spirits once again lifting.

"Yes, and Miss Granger should be arriving sometime this afternoon, for she is anxious to keep you two company. It seems that Ronald has been sending her letters professing extreme boredom, and she felt compelled to come early."

Harry smiled happily at this news. This was better then he could have hoped for.

"Miss Granger and her family have also done me the favor of collecting your school supplies from Diagon Alley, since I feel that it would be prudent for you to stay inside the Hogwarts grounds. I know that it is tempting for sixteen year olds, such as yourselves, to go wandering, but I'm going to ask that you not go out at night, Harry. The dementors are loose, as well as other creatures under Voldemort's command, and I would feel much better if you would promise me that you will not go running wild with your friends, Harry."

"I promise" Harry said absently, eager to get away and find Ron, his spirits higher then they had been all summer at the thought of some cheerful company.

"Ah, I see that you are anxious to get away from this old man. Well, off with you, Harry, I believe that Ron is in the Gryffindor Common room playing chess with his sister. Run along, now!"

"Thanks Professor," Harry said hurriedly, before rushing out of Dumbledore's office, his trunks feeling considerably lighter at the thought of seeing his friends.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Checkmate!"

Ginny stared at the board, and realized that she had lost yet again. "Well, surprise, surprise" she sighed moodily. She was thoroughly sick of being beaten by Ron. Even he had stopped gloating after he triumphed yet again in their fifth game, and now it was obvious that both of them were just going through the motions for lack of anything better to do.

Ron was setting up the board for yet another riveting game, but a sound came from the portrait leading into the commons, startling them both. Ginny looked behind her to see the top of a masculine head as he struggled to push his trunk into the room. And only one person had gorgeous tousled hair like that.

"Harry!" Ginny exclaimed breathlessly, but then blushed and ducked her head to hide the overjoyed expression on her face. Neither boy had noticed her momentary lapse, though, for Ron had leapt up from the couch, saying "Harry, thank goodness! I swear, I was about to collapse from boredom!" and they were embracing each other, in a very manly fashion Ginny thought, smiling, roughly patting each others' backs.

"I know what you mean, Ron. But I don't think anyone could truly define boredom until they've spent the summer with the Dursleys."

"Ah, how are the old fart-bags, anyway?"

"Couldn't tell you," Harry chuckled, "They haven't spoken to me since I got my OWL results."

"That bad, huh?"

Harry hesitated, and Ginny guessed that he didn't know how Ron had done yet, and didn't want to seem overly enthusiastic. "Umm. . . Better then expected, actually. I just skidded by in history and potions, but McGonagall sent me an owl saying she would pull some strings and get me into Snape's class, something I normally wouldn't be happy about, mind you, but I'll have to suffer through two more years of potions if I want to be an auror."

"Let me guess, an O in Defense, am I right?"

"Well," said Harry, doing his best to hide a smug grin, "you know how it is. . ."

"So why are the Dud-heads pissed with you?" Ron asked, somewhat confused.

"Well, Vernon was going on about how I couldn't be expecting a free ride once I was done with school, and I told him not to worry himself, because I would be going to Auror training after Hogwarts, and when he found out what an auror was he became quite, umm. . . distressed. He seems to think that my chasing after dark wizards will provoke an attack on 'the family'. . ."

The two continued on with their conversation for some time, drifting from one mundane topic to another, and Ginny sat quietly on the couch across from them, staring out the window, trying very hard not to gaze at Harry. She noticed after a while, though, that Ron seemed to be the only one in the room talking, and she looked over at them, wondering why Harry had become so quiet. She was surprised to find him staring back at her.

They held each other's eyes for a couple of breathless moments, and Ginny felt herself drowning in the dazzling emerald pools. Harry finally tore his gaze away from her (Ginny could have sworn he did it regretfully) and turned his attention back to Ron's ceaseless chatter.

She allowed herself to hope for a brief moment, not quite believing the enraptured look she had seen in his eyes. Then reason took over. 'Stop it, Gin' she admonished herself 'You're seeing something that simply isn't there, and besides, you're going with Dean now, anyway, so you have no right to be looking longingly into Harry's eyes.'

But she couldn't make the feelings coursing through her go away.

"What!?"

Ginny was brought out of her reverie by Harry's startled exclamation.

"Yup, I know, it's crazy, but Bill asked Fleur and Fleur said yes, so now they're getting married. They're going to wait till next summer, though, when Fleur turns twenty. Bill's hoping that Percy will come to his senses and accept the invitation by then."

"So, Percy still won't admit he was wrong, huh?"

"Nope, a right awful snob, that one is. Mum can't even bring herself to say his name anymore."

Harry looked as if he was about to offer his condolences, but just then the portrait to the Commons swung open yet again, and an extremely harassed looking Hermione stumbled into the room.

"That Knight Bus is positively horrid! It was bumping around so much that I didn't get to do any of my reading at all!" she said huffily, but then smiled as Harry got up to hug her. Ginny tried to squelch the rush of jealousy that seemed to be squeezing her heart, and almost missed the same look coming from her brother's eyes when Hermione leaned up to give Harry a peck on the cheek.

"Oh, I've missed everyone so much!" she said, leaning over to give Ron and Ginny quick hugs where they sat on the couches, and Ginny thought that she backed away from Ron rather quickly. "I've been with my parents in Fiji, and it was ever so interesting, but it gets tedious, you know, being around muggles all the time."

"Well, It's a whole lot better then being locked up alone in Horgwarts for most of the summer, with no decent company at all," Ron said mulishly.

"That's not true, Ron, you've had Ginny to keep you company," Harry said, throwing a quick, searching look at Ginny, as if expecting her to be hurt by Ron's callous comment.

"Oh, well, Ron spends a lot of time in his own little world, so sometimes he's hard to visit," Ginny said, suppressing a giggle.

"Yeah, he can be that way sometimes," Harry chuckled. Ron grumbled "There's no need to be mean" but Ginny noticed that Ron didn't seem to by truly offended until Hermione joined in on the laughter at his expense. Harry seemed to have taken note of this as well, and he caught Ginny's eye, shaking his head in exasperation, a small grin playing over his lips.

Ginny's smile slowly faded as she stared at Harry's mouth, her own suddenly dry, and she licked her lips nervously. Harry gave a small start at this, drawing in a quick intake of breath, and then he tore his eyes away from her, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Ginny was surprised by his reaction, and wasn't sure of quite how she should take it.

Meanwhile, Ron and Hermione, oblivious to the tension that had arisen between the other two occupants in the room, had begun to argue. Ginny wasn't entirely sure how the argument had started, she had been too busy worrying over why the sight of her tongue should startle Harry so much.

"Ron, I can't believe you didn't pass your potions OWL, that was a really important one! No wonder you wouldn't discuss your test results with me in your letters."

"Well, I'm sorry that I'm not as smart as you. Besides, there's loads of stuff I could still do without a potions OWL."

"But what if the one thing you truly want to do isn't among them? Besides, it's not about being smart, it's about applying yourself."

"Oh, applying myself!" Ron said, acting surprised, but it was hard to miss the sarcasm. "Here I was thinking I should be going to classes and studying at all hours of the night, but turns out all I had to do was apply myself!"

"Come off it Ron! There were plenty of times when you could have been studying, but instead you went off to play with your stupid broom!"

"You did not just go there!" Ron said, highly affronted, "I know that you did NOT just-"

"Will you two shut-it!" Harry shouted, not being able to take anymore. Ron and Hermione stood in shocked silence, as if they hadn't realized just how heated things had gotten, and then they looked at the ground, shuffling their feet and muttering hesitant apologies.

"Look," Harry said, rubbing his hand through his already mussed hair, "Ron, why don't you come with me while I unpack, and that will give the two of you time to settle down. I'm sure you need to unpack too, Hermione, so why don't we meet down here later to go down to dinner-"

"Ginny and I had an early supper, actually," Ron interrupted, but then quickly added, "I'll join you and Hermione anyway, though, and we can do some more catching up." Ginny got the distinct impression that Ron didn't want Hermione and Harry going off alone together.

"Fine with me," Harry said, and then hesitantly (hopefully? Ginny thought) he asked, "Would you like to join us too, Gin?"

Ginny thought about it for a second, but then decided that she would feel too much the outsider if she went with them. "No, I'm tired, actually, so I think I'll turn in soon."

"Oh, Okay then," Harry said, and if Ginny didn't know better she would have sworn he was disappointed. "Well, I just don't want you getting lonely, so if you change your mind. . ."

Ginny nodded her head with deceptive indifference, and smiled a good night as she followed Hermione up to the girls' dormitories.

Much later that night, while listening to the gentle snoring of the medieval witch in the picture hung on the wall next to her bed, Ginny's thoughts were very much occupied with Harry. And though she could not stem the flow of doubts that seemed to be overwhelming her, one comforting fact remained: Harry had been concerned that she might feel lonely. . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sooo- what did you think so far? I promise it will pick up more later on. Please r&r! Any comments you could leave me would be much appreciated! Be gentle, though, this is my first(=