A/N: Thank you to Lord Dreadnault and Mitzihunt for all of their amazing editing help, and to Juliette for all her help and support with all my stories.
- No Longer A Dream-
-Part One: The Performance-
"Love sought is good, but given unsought is better."
"Flower of this purple dye, Hit with Cupid's archery-"
"So, get this, all I did was walk into class maybe- I don't know- three minutes late, and he completely blows up!"
"Sink in apple of his eye! When his love he doth espy!"
"Three minutes? Why do I have a feeling that you're lying?"
"Let her shine as gloriously, As the Venus of the sky.-"
"Okay, maybe it was five or something, but that's not the point-"
"When thou wak'st, if she be by, beg of her for remedy-"
"Five or something, Ginny?"
"Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand-"
"You're missing the point, Harry! He was being completely unreasonable-"
"And the youth mistook by me, pleading for a lover's plea-"
"You were late, Ginny! You should have got detention!"
"Shall we their fair pageant see? Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
"Ugh! You men! You always have to stick together, don't you?"
"Stand aside: the noise they make, Will cause Demetrius to awake-"
"What? Don't be ridiculous, Gin."
"Then will two at once woo one-"
"Whatever you say, Harry. I don't want to talk about this anymore. You're corrupted by male prejudice."
"That must needs to be sport alone-"
"Corrupted? What are you on about?"
"And...and those things do best to...to please me..."
"I said it didn't matter. Besides, I want to know what happened in Hogsmeade yesterday-"
"That... that befall... that befall... pre-preposterously..."
"UGH! THAT'S IT!"
Harry Potter quickly ducked, as at an alarming rate, a small and familiar playbook flew violently by his head, landing just a few inches from the couch he was sitting upon. As Harry shifted his gaze from the thrown projective on the floor to his surroundings he felt his face redden in embarrassment. Every occupant in the Room of Requirement was now staring at him. Well, not just him.
Harry was glad to see that some gazes were stuck upon his redheaded comrade as well. But the glare that mattered most, the one that belonged to his incredibly angry looking, bushy-haired best friend, seemed to be unleashed upon him. Harry cringed as he tried to steal a look at his accomplice. Ginny was looking a bit taken aback as well, but then again, she didn't have Hermione Granger's fiery glare to deal with. Harry sighed, trying to ignore the burning looks coming from all directions. They'd been caught... again.
"Listen, you two!" Hermione shouted, glaring furiously at the two occupants of the small maroon couch, her face turning a more sickening hue of red as the seconds wore on. "Terry, Hannah, and I asked you here to help us with our project, and if you two are just going to sit and keep babbling on like a pair of dying jobbernolls, go do it somewhere else! How in Merlin's name are we supposed analyze your reactions to the play if you don't even bother listening?!"
Harry watched as Hermione took a deep breath after her long speech, not really knowing how to respond to the statement. Luckily, Ginny always had a nice excuse at hand.
"Honestly, Hermione, we were paying attention."
Hermione looked at Ginny disbelievingly, rolling her eyes slightly. "Were you, Ginny?"
Ginny nodded innocently and Harry held back a snort. Even if he hadn't realized their conversation had been that loud, he did know they weren't paying the least bit of attention. It looked as though Hermione knew it as. Harry also knew he and Ginny really should've been listening to the silly old play. It really wasn't their fault though. It just seemed that every time they were called upon to help work on this stupid Muggle Studies project, boredom overtook them. They didn't mean to talk, and they certainly didn't mean to get caught... but they did. Every time.
Hermione turned her disbelieving gaze over to Harry as she shifted her eyes to the open playbook lying in his lap. A small triumphant smile began to creep upon her face. "You were listening, were you?" she asked, her smile growing wider. "Harry," she snapped, her eyes shifting from his face to the playbook once more. "What page are we on?"
Harry watched his friend's victorious grin widen even more and he tried to keep back one of his own. Little did Hermione know that Harry didindeed know what page they were on. He and Ginny had long ago discovered the art of page keeping, and their skills had never failed them yet. It was in all actuality, quite a simple process. When you heard the wrinkling of pages, you turned yours. Both Harry and Ginny had learned to keep a small notice for the rather conspicuous sound, so they rarely ever missed it.
Harry glanced down at his open book, trying to ignore the silly smile he knew Ginny was sporting. "Er-32."
Hermione glanced down at her book, her smile still intact. Slowly the realization hit her and she lifted her head in utter confusion. Harry tried to keep the amusement off his face. Hermione looked so lost. He could feel Ginny shaking with glee next to him.
"But... I mean... How did you-"
"Don't even bother with it, Hermione." Ron was the first of the group to intervene in the disagreement. Lounging on a love seat beside the fire, the seventeen-year-old redhead rolled his eyes at his sister's and Harry's tactics. "They weren't listening. They just turn the page when everyone else turns the page. It's not all that difficult."
This comment seemed to satisfy Hermione, proving that she, once again, had caught the pair red-handed. Ron smiled lazily from his comfortable position, knowing he'd just earned some brownie points where his girlfriend was concerned.
"Not all that difficult, eh?" Ginny asked, glaring daggers at her brother. "Well, I suppose you'd know, Ron, wouldn't you?"
Ron's smile instantly dropped as the half-truth of his sister's statement reached the group. The older Weasley glared right back at Ginny as Hermione gave him a disapproving look. Ginny threw him a smirk, which he received with great annoyance. Harry tried not to laugh as the siblings duked it out.
"Could we please just move on?" Hannah Abbott asked with a sigh, flipping her blonde locks over her shoulder in an impatient fashion. "Harry will stop, won't you, Harry?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat as the blonde Hufflepuff eyed him interestingly. Gulping slightly, the raven-haired 7th-year opened his mouth to respond, but Ginny beat him to it.
"Of course Harry will stop," Ginny told Hannah, making secret faces at Harry all the while. She received a glare from him in return. "After all," she continued, not at all affected by his glare. "I'm not talking to him anymore. Our friendship is over."
Harry snorted. "Is it really?"
Ginny nodded. "You're too male for me. Sorry."
Harry laughed a bit, but shrugged his shoulders in agreement, used to Ginny and her uncanny schemes by now. "She's right," he added with a nod. "It's over."
Ginny smiled, lounging farther into the couch, making herself comfortable. "Go on now. We can proceed."
Hermione sighed as the rest of the group laughed. Harry swept a quick look over the laughing crowd. By the fire, Ron lounged on a loveseat, alongside Lisa Turpin and Megan Jones, who were seated on the floor. Above Megan and Lisa, Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom sat cross-legged on another large couch. Across from them, Luna Lovegood sat on a stiff chair; her playbook held upside down ("It's a new experience that every human should try once before they die."), and standing before the fire, fulfilling the roles of the actors were Hannah, Hermione, Terry Boot, and a 4th-year by the name of Owen Cauldwell. The little group had been meeting for the past few weeks in order to help Hermione, Terry, and Hannah with their Muggle Studies project. They had to read some Shakespeare play and then gather reactions to it. It wasn't the most exciting project ever, but the group made the best of it.
"All right," Hermione continued, recovering from the dispute with gentle ease. "We'll start from Act 3, Scene 2, when Demetrius and Hermia enter, all right?"
There were nods and murmurs of consent as the play proceeded once again.
As the group continued on with the play, Harry found his attention drifting slowly away again. It's not as if he'd understand any of it anyway, so he wasn't really at all that much fault. He did feel guilty for never listening, but he couldn't help it. And besides the fact that he had no idea what the play was about, he also couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. Old English was all well and good in the olden days, but now? Harry just didn't see the point.
Guilt overwhelming him, Harry sat up a bit, determined to listen to the stupid rubbish, even if he couldn't understand it. Suddenly he felt something thrust at him, and it not surprisingly came from Ginny's general direction. Harry glanced at Ginny, who appeared to be engrossed in the play, and then down at the parchment and quill now residing in his lap. Taking a quick look around the room to make sure no one was looking, Harry carefully leaned over the piece of parchment.
So, how was Hogsmeade?
Harry snorted, but then covered it quickly with a small cough. That was Ginny for you. He grabbed the quill from his lap and as quietly as he could, responded.
I thought you weren't talking to me. I thought our friendship was over.
Harry slid the parchment and quill back to Ginny. He watched out of the corner of his eye as she quickly jotted something else down and passed it slowly over to him, making sure not to create any noise.
Shut it, you prat, and stop trying to change the subject! It couldn't have been too bad, I mean, Hannah seemed to enjoy herself, eh?
Harry held back a groan as he read Ginny's latest remark. It wasn't hard to see that Hannah was doting on Harry. She'd been flirting mercilessly with him all evening; a suggestive comment here, a touch of the shoulder there… it was driving Harry absolutely mad. He didn't know what he had been thinking; going to Hogsmeade with Hannah Abbott. He had walked around the town miserable the whole day, every moment longing to be anywhere but with the chatty Hufflepuff. He hadn't shown it, but he had been completely devastated at the prospect of a wasted Hogsmeade trip the entire time. It was nothing against Hannah personally- Harry thought that the Hufflepuff was a very nice and very pretty girl- it was just...they didn't... didn't... click. In all honesty, he'd had a perfectly dreadful time and had no idea why Hannah seemed to think their outing was some sort of uplifting experience in their relationship (if you could even call it that).
But for some reason, he didn't want Ginny to know about his horrible Hannah experience. So instead, he wrote:
Oh, sod off. It was fine. Hannah was just being friendly.
Friendly? Oh, please, Harry! I bet you anything you were courteous, and nice, and completely and utterly perfect the whole date. I'm not in the least surprised that she's cooing all over you. I mean, she's probably got 'Mrs. Harry Potter' written all over her notebooks already. Plus, you're Harry Potter, and she went on a date with you. For some girls, it just doesn't get better than that.
Harry cringed a bit as he read. He had tried to be courteous and nice and all those other things, but only because he thought Hannah would think him rude otherwise. Had he unintentionally led her on that way? He hoped not. But it might not matter anyway. After all, Hannah might have just gone out with him for his celebrity, just as Ginny had said. Harry sighed under his breath. He didn't think he'd ever get away from the 'Harry Potter: Boy Who Lived' image. Still, the term 'utterly perfect' didn't sit too well with Harry. Even though he had done some of those things, he continued on with his harmless lying game.
I wasn't any of those things!
You're such a liar! I bet you opened doors, complimented her, and did all those nice-boy things. That's just you.
It is not.
Whatever you say Harry... so, you going to ask her out again?
Harry glanced down at the parchment, and then at Ginny. Was he going to ask Hannah out, again? Was Ginny mad? Firstly, he hadn't even asked Hannah out in the first place. It had been Hannah that had asked him out, and he had stupidly agreed, afraid of the awkwardness that would follow such a rejection. Secondly, he didn't think he could live through a second outing with Hannah. But again, he didn't want to tell Ginny this. Why he was lying so much to her, he wasn't sure. He'd never really lied to Ginny before... he'd never really had a need to. Ginny was one of the few people Harry knew that would never judge him unfairly. But he knew he was going to continue on lying all the same.
"HARRY AND GINNY!"
Harry's head snapped up as he was met with the familiar glare of Hermione's for the second time that night. Damn. Couldn't they just once not get caught?
"Come on, you two," Megan sighed from her seat on the floor. "We're trying to read this."
Harry and Ginny muttered their apologies, each feeling a bit guilty and a bit disdainful at being caught again.
"This is just ridiculous!" Hermione ranted, throwing her hands in the air with a dramatic wave. "You two never listen, and I-"
Hermione was cut off by a bout of laughter coming from Ron, who was now sporting a malicious grin. Being friends with Ron for years had allowed Harry to tell exactly what that laugh and grin were about… Ron had an idea. Harry gulped.
"What are you laughing about, Ron?" Hermione hissed, causing her boyfriend to smile once more.
Ron glanced over at Harry and Ginny, an amused and avenging twinkle shining in his eyes. "Well," he drawled, stretching his arms behind his head. "There's only one way to really make sure they listen, right?"
The group looked at Ron skeptically, not quite understanding what he was trying to imply, but Ron was staring at his sister, challenging her to figure it out. A quick gasp from Ginny determined that she had indeed figured it out. Her mouth hung open as she gaped at her brother.
"You wouldn't," she hissed, her voice low with fiery disbelief.
Harry looked at Ginny, who had yet to break eye contact with her brother. He still had no idea what either of them was talking about, but whatever it was, it obviously wasn't pleasant.
"I'd reckon it'd be obvious," Ron continued, still not tearing his gaze from Ginny. The malicious smile returned to his face. Ginny looked like she was about to murder her brother, and that's when Harry knew they were in serious trouble. "Make them act."
Harry sat stiff, speechless. What was Ron doing? What had he done to deserve such horrible treatment from his best mate? Harry still couldn't comprehend it. Him? Act? He couldn't even read this rubbish, let alone act it! Surely, Ron was kidding!
Hermione didn't seem to think so.
"Harry, Ginny, get up here. You'll take my and Owen's parts. That's all right with you, isn't it, Owen?"
The small Hufflepuff nodded, looking relieved to have his part taken over, and took a seat beside Lisa on the floor. Harry gaped as Hermione sat comfortably atop the arm of Ron's chair. Wait one bloody minute! I did not sign on for any acting! There is no way I am doing this!
"Come on, Harry! You'll do fine!" Hannah grasped Harry's arms firmly and dragged him off the couch. Ginny was already standing before the fire, biting her nails at a furious rate. Harry knew this meant that she was nervous, and he felt slightly comforted to know that he wasn't the only one. Their eyes met for but a second and Ginny gave him a slight smile. He tried to smile back, but it came out more as a cringe than a smile. He had no idea how the bloody hell he was going to pull this off.
"So, where are we starting from, then?" Terry asked, fingering through the pages of his book.
Hannah looked through her own pages thoughtfully. "Hmmm... how about when Lysander and Helena enter? Good?"
Terry nodded, flipping to the appropriate page. Glancing over at Hannah's book, Harry flipped to the page as well.
"Er- which bloke am I again?" Harry looked down at the page. What kind of names were these anyway?
"You're Lysander, Harry. You speak first."
Harry nodded. "Right. Zander. Got it."
The group snickered.
Hannah sighed, shaking her head as she pointed at a name in Harry's book. "It's Lysander, Harry. Not Zander."
Harry felt himself turn red. "Right. Lysander. I knew that."
The group settled down and Harry squinted slightly, trying to comprehend just what he had to say. He glanced at the other three actors, who were all watching him expectantly.
"Er- do I start?"
Harry took a deep breath, praying he would still have an ounce of dignity once this was all over.
"Er... okay... uh..." Harry exhaled slowly, praying to everything and everyone he knew one last time. "Er-Why should you think that I woo in scorn? Scorn and...er...scorn and de-derision never come in... come in tears. Um... Look, when I vow, I-er...I weep: and vows so born, in their nativity all truth appears. Uh- how can these things in me seem to scorn you? Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?"
Harry felt ridiculous as he rushed through the last part of his lines. His face burned and he knew Shakespeare would've been ashamed. Harry was pretty sure that random bouts of 'er's' and 'uh's' weren't exactly what old William had in mind while writing the ruddy play.
Harry's abashment was cut short as Ginny started her part. Harry glanced down at his book. That means Ginny must be the Helen girl, right?
"You do advance your cunning more and more. When truth kills truth- O devilish-holy fray! These vows are Hermia's: will you give her o'er? Weigh oath with oath and you will nothing weigh: Your vows to her and me, put in two scales, Will even weigh, and both as light as tails."
Harry watched Ginny in amazement as she spoke her lines. Her words were clear and distinct, her voice soft and charismatic. There were no 'er's' or 'uh's', or even any long pauses at unfamiliar words. She was perfect. Why in Merlin's name hadn't she read before? Even he'd have to listen if she'd read!
"Uh, Harry? You go now."
Harry snapped out of his thoughts, blushing furiously for the millionth time that evening. He hadn't even realized that Ginny had long ago finished her part, and all the while, he'd been staring at her.
"Right, er, sorry... Uh- I had no judgment when I swore to her."
"Nor now, in my mind, now you give her o'er."
"Demetrius loves her, and he loves you not."
As Harry finished his last line, Terry rushed in front of Ginny with extremely dramatic gestures. "O, Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show. Thy lips, those tempting cherries, tempting grow! That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow, fann'd with the eastern wind, turns to a crow. When thou hold'st up thy hand: O let me kiss! This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!"
Then Terry kissed Ginny square on the lips, leaving the whole room full of laughter, including the red-faced Ginny, and the bowing Terry. Harry laughed along with the rest of them, but secretly disapproved. The play didn't say for Terry to kiss Ginny. Harry supposed it was just a little joke, it was a little bit funny, but he still couldn't shake the feeling that what Terry had just done was wrong.
"Mature, Terry. Very, very mature!" Ginny laughed, the redness slowly fading from her cheeks. Terry bowed down to her and Ginny gave him a good whack over the head with her playbook. Harry had a good laugh at this.
"All right, all right, let's get on with it," Hermione said a few moments later, when most of the group's laughter had faded away. "Do you think you can contain your passion for now, Terry?"
Terry shrugged. "I'll try my best." He nudged Ginny in the ribs. "She's just so tempting."
The brightness in Ginny's face returned once more. "Oh, sod off, Boot, or I'll never help you with your Charms homework again!"
The room broke into laughter again at Terry's shocked face, and was once more calmed by Hermione.
"Go ahead," she told Ginny. Ginny nodded in consent, pushing a stray lock of fiery hair behind her ear, and the play continued.
"Oh hell! Oh spite! I see you all are bent, to set against me for your merriment: if you were civil and knew courtesy, you could not do me thus injury. Can you not hate me, as I know you do, but you must join in souls to mock me too? If you were men, as men you are in show, you would not use a gentle lady so; to vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts, when I am sure you hate me with your hearts. You are both rivals, and love Hermia; and now both rivals, to mock Helena: a trim exploit, a manly enterprise, to conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes. With your derision! none of noble sort, would so offend a virgin, and extort, a poor soul's patience, all to make you sport."
Now used to the allure of Ginny voice, Harry was quite proud to be able to speak his part at the appropriate time. "You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so; for you love Hermia; this you know I know: and here, with all good will, with all my heart, in Hermia's love I yield you up my part; and yours of Helena to me bequeath, whom I do love and will do till my death."
Harry quickly finished the last part of his lines, quite proud at his accomplishment. He was getting better. Not one 'er' or 'uh'! He smiled triumphantly at Ginny, who was looking quite surprised at his success as well.
"Never did mockers waste such idle breath," she read with a smile.
"Lysander," Terry told Harry with great amusement. He wove his hand in Hannah's direction. "Keep thy Hermia; I will none. If e'er I loved her, all that love is gone. My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn'd, and now to Helen has it home return'd. There to remain."
Harry turned to Ginny, not understanding a word he was saying, but getting into the play nevertheless. "Helen, it is not so."
Ginny giggled and Terry continued his lines with more extensive dramatic flourishes. "Disparage not the faith thou dost not know, lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear. Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear."
Hannah walked towards the group, her character now present in the scene.
"Dark night, that from the eye this function takes, the ear more quick of apprehension makes; Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense, it pays the hearing double recompense. Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found; mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound, but why unkindly didst thou leave me so?"
Harry noticed that Hannah did not share the charismatic allure that Ginny did when she spoke, but she did indeed share the flare of dramatics with Terry.
"Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?"
Hannah touched Harry's arm affectionately, stepping incredibly close to him, causing Harry to feel more than a bit uncomfortable. "What love can press Lysander from my side?"
Harry gulped, feeling quite awkward at having Hannah at such a close proximity. He glanced down at his playbook nervously, continuing on with his lines even through his discomfort. "Uh- Lysander's love, that would not let him bide, fair Helena, who more engilds the night, then all you fiery oes and eyes of light. Why seek'st thou me? could not this make thee know, the hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?"
Hannah moved in closer, driving Harry mad. What in Merlin's name was this girl doing?
"You speak not as you think: it cannot be," she told him in what he knew was supposed to be a seductive tone. Harry held back a wince. He had definitely led the poor girl on. What the hell was he going to do now? She was getting closer and closer by the second!
"Lo, she is one of this confederacy!" Ginny spoke in a tone a bit louder than usual. Hannah jumped back, as if realizing that she and Harry weren't the only people occupying the room. Harry let out a long breath he didn't know he'd been holding. He made a mental note to give Ginny a huge 'thank you', later.
The play continued on for the next fifteen minutes or so without much interruption. Hannah continued to throw herself at Harry, who had become more than a bit annoyed with her advances, but did not show it, blaming it solely on himself for leading her on the previous day. Harry was surprised to find that once he'd started reading, he'd grown into the part, and started enjoying acting it out. Maybe not as much as Terry, whose theatrical performances and monologues were enough to leave the whole room in various spurts of laughter, but enough into it that he no longer messed up his lines or missed a cue. He even began to understand a bit of what was happening, even if some of the words still made little or no sense.
But the most surprising of all was the discovery of Ginny's captivating charm. Harry often found himself staring in wonder as the youngest Weasley read her lines, and he knew he wasn't alone. He had no idea why Ginny had wasted her time talking to him during all these sessions when she could have been acting. There was just something about the way she read, with so much passion and seriousness, and the unintended facial expressions she'd make, that far overpowered Terry's grandest flourishes, or Hannah's attempted realism. She read as if she was the character, not pretending to be as the rest of them did. Harry knew that the whole room had been impressed. Even the normally nonchalant Ron had taken notice to his sister's abilities, and Harry knew that that was truly something.
"All right, I think we're done for tonight," Hermione told them towards the end of the fifteen minutes. The brainy brunette was genuinely surprised at the turnout of the night. Not only had she been completely stressed out when Harry and Ginny wouldn't stop talking, but she was even more so when Ron suggested the two of them for acting. But sure enough, the two did wonderfully, especially Ginny, who seemed to have a knack for reciting the play.
"Wow," Neville laughed as everyone began to stand up and stretch. "We should have forced Harry and Ginny to act before! You guys were brilliant!"
Terry punched Neville lightly on the shoulder. "Hey! What about me? You can't seriously tell me I wasn't brilliantly spiffing, as well!"
"Well, naturally, Ter," Megan teased, throwing her arm around the taller boy's shoulders. "You're a natural. Nobody's better than you."
Terry smiled and nodded in pleasure.
"Well, no matter how brilliant they were or weren't, Harry and Ginny still have cleaning duty tonight!" Lisa smiled, placing her empty mug of butterbeer onto a side table for effect. Harry groaned as he looked around at the usual mess of butterbeer, cookies, and books that the lot of them made every time they came.
A similar mess had been left after their very first meeting in the Room of Requirement. It had been long day full or quizzes and classes for everyone, and no one wanted to clean up when the end of the night came. The next morning, when Hermione went to go clean up, she was appalled to find that the House Elves had already done it for her. Her S.P.E.W. instincts instantly kicked in and she vowed never to leave a mess in there again. At the next meeting, the group had to listen to Hermione rave on and on about the unfairness of leaving all that mess, until finally Neville suggested that they make a list of who would stay after and clean each week. Hermione had happily agreed to this idea and had taken it on her own accord to make sure the room was cleaned each week and also made sure to leave a little 'thank you' note for the House Elves who came into the room to take out the garbage. Dobby had secretly confided in Harry and Ron that the House Elves never read those notes, but threw them out as well, thinking them trash. Neither Ron nor Harry had the heart to tell Hermione this, so they let her continue writing her un-read notes.
"Oh, come on! This'll take forever!" Ginny whined, taking a look around the messy room as well. It was just their luck that the room was exceptionally messy today.
"Whine all you want, Ginny, but you're not getting out of this one," Ron told her, smiling smugly. Ginny grabbed a cookie off one of the plates and expertly chucked it at her brother's head. Even with his Quidditch experience, Ginny's flying cookie was too quick for Ron. It smacked him square on the forehead and then fell in crumbles to the ground. Ron rubbed his forehead and clicked his tongue.
"You know, Gin, Harry's not going to like it if you keep making a bigger mess."
"Sod off, you git," Ginny grumbled as she started picking things up off the floor. The group laughed as they all called their good-byes and said their goodnights, each starting to file out of the room one by one. Before long, Luna and Hannah were the only ones left in the room besides Harry and Ginny. Luna walked purposefully over to Ginny, sugar quill in her mouth and a large book under her arm.
"Don't worry, Ginny. Selene is watching over you, tonight."
Harry looked over at Luna quizzically. Selene? Selene who?
Ginny sighed, arching her eyebrow slightly. "Wasn't Selene watching over me last night as well? You know, when I didn't get to finish my Potions essay?"
Luna shook her head. "She had to leave. A crisis on the Moon, I believe. Mars crossed with Neptune last night, and Zeus wasn't happy."
Ginny nodded, obviously ignoring whatever it was that Luna was trying to say. With a content nod, as if she'd got her point across, Luna turned and waltzed out the door, leaving Harry, Ginny, and Hannah as the only occupants of the room.
"What was that all about?" Harry asked, grabbing a few books off the floor.
Ginny shrugged. "Luna says that the Greek Gods have taken a liking to me... something about the way I eat my bread.... I don't know."
Harry nodded, not at all surprised by this. There was little Luna Lovegood could do or say now that would surprise him. He was too used to her and her offbeat rambles.
"You know, Harry," Hannah said, rising off the arm of the loveseat that Ron had previously been sitting on, shifting Harry's attention onto her. "You make a wonderful Lysander. You're a very good actor."
Harry felt Hannah moving closer to him as he bent to pick up another empty bottle of butterbeer. He groaned internally. Not again.
"Er- thanks, Hannah. It was fun, I s'ppose."
He tried moving back a few steps, increasing the distance between Hannah and himself, but the girl just giggled and filled the gap quickly.
"You really should stick with it, don't you think?" She leaned in closer. "I reckon it'd be exciting, you know, to do the ending scenes with you... once Lysander realises who he really loves and all-"
Both Harry and Hannah's heads swung around behind them where Ginny was currently standing, shards of broken glass spread around the floor below her.
"Oh, dammit!" Ginny dropped to her knees, picking up the broken mug pieces that now littered the carpet. Harry rushed over to her, forgetting about Hannah for a second, not wanting Ginny to be cut by the sharp glass shreds.
"Don't touch them, Ginny," Harry told her, pushing her away from the glass and pulling his wand out of his back pocket. "Evanesco." The pieces disappeared instantly, leaving Ginny on her knees, bending over the now bare carpet.
"Thanks," she said softly, not meeting his eyes, but keeping her face down instead, her eyes not leaving the place where the glass pieces had previously been.
"Well," Hannah coughed, coming up behind Harry. "That was close. Good thinking, Harry."
"Yeah, thanks," Harry said, trying to shrug her off, keeping his eyes on Ginny, who had yet to move an inch in the last minute.
Feeling Harry's disinterest for the first time that night, Hannah backed away a bit, shifting her gaze from Ginny's frozen form, to Harry, who wouldn't stop staring at her.
"Well," she repeated, meeting Harry's eyes as he turned from Ginny for the first time. "I...I suppose I'll see you later, all right?"
Harry nodded, feeling somewhat guilty for ignoring Hannah like that, but concerned for Ginny nevertheless. She seemed fine now, though. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her start cleaning again, a clear sign she had snapped out of whatever trance she was in.
After a moment of brief indecision, Hannah reached up and pecked Harry firmly on the cheek, causing Harry to colour red, his discomfort growing to a new level. He really should let Hannah know that he wasn't at all interested in her that way, or else be prepared to suffer the consequences of more uncomfortable situations like this... but could he do it? He didn't want to upset Hannah, because he did like her... just not in the way she was appearing to like him. He knew he'd have to tell her eventually, or else he'd find himself in an unwanted relationship, but he figured he'd leave it for now, not wanting to have the private conversation in front of anyone else.
He watched as Hannah grabbed her bag off the couch and made her way to the door, and with a final wave of her hand, left the room.
Harry let out a sigh, glad that Hannah had left, but still not looking forward to the prospect of cleaning up the disaster area. He supposed he should be used to it by now, from the many times he had been forced to clean up Dudley's messes, but it still didn't make the situation anymore pleasant.
"She's right, you know."
Harry's head snapped up from amidst his cleaning. He'd forgotten Ginny was there, so lost in his own thoughts of cleaning and breakups. He watched her as she continued picking up a plate of snacks, not even bothering to look at him when she spoke. That was unusual. Ginny was always one to look a person in the eye.
"Right about what?" Harry asked, bending to clean up another plate of cookies, keeping one eye on Ginny.
"About the ending. Lysander and Hermia get married."
Harry looked up, confused. Married? That didn't make any sense!
"What do you mean? I thought Lysander loved Helena. He and the other bloke were just fighting over her. How could he go and marry the other one?"
Ginny stopped cleaning and laughed a bit, looking at Harry for the first time. "You really haven't been listening at all, have you?"
Harry shrugged. "I get distracted."
This comment seemed to displease Ginny, and Harry wasn't sure why. She sighed, looking back towards the ground as she carried on with her cleaning. "He didn't really love Helena," she told him, still not looking up. "It was just a… spell; I suppose you can call it. It wasn't real. Lysander really loved Hermia, and Helena... she loves Demetrius."
Harry thought about this. Is that really what happened? Maybe he should have listened before. He was so confused now.
"So what happens to Helena, then?"
Ginny paused for a moment. "She marries Demetrius."
Harry sighed. This was too confusing for him. He reckoned that the play wasn't meant to be read from the middle to the end. A bloke missed a lot that way. With that thought in mind, Harry suddenly realised something.
"Wait a second," he said, shaking a finger in Ginny's direction. "How do you know all this stuff? You weren't listening any of those other times either!"
Ginny shrugged. "I've read it before."
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Read it before?"
Harry smirked at her, throwing a bit of cookie at her for effect. "Oh, I get it now... all those times you've talked to me... it was all a plan wasn't it? You wanted me to get caught! You like when I get in trouble, don't you, Weasley?"
But Ginny didn't respond with her hearty laugh or one of her feisty comments as Harry had expected. Instead she just continued cleaning, shaking her head and smiling a bit. That's when Harry really knew something was wrong with his redheaded friend.
The two continued cleaning in silence, proving again to Harry that something was indeed wrong. Normally, Ginny was a feisty, spunky conversationalist. She'd once told him that she hated silence more than she hated her mum's tuna casserole. Why wasn't she talking to him then? Had he done something wrong? Was she angry with him? He couldn't recall doing anything to make her upset, but then again, you never really knew with Ginny. Harry stopped cleaning for a moment and stared at her thoughtfully, trying to recall what he had recently said and done, seeing if anything could incriminate him in anyway. Feeling his eyes on her, Ginny stopped cleaning as well and turned to face the raven-haired boy.
"What?" she asked, her tone a bit more snappish than usual. Harry narrowed his eyes on her.
"You're angry with me, aren't you?"
Ginny groaned, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. Harry took a few steps closer to her.
"Yes you are. Don't lie. Why are you angry with me?"
Ginny continued on with her cleaning, picking up the last few mugs of butterbeer, and telling him curtly as she moved across the room, "I'm not angry with you, Harry. Just drop it, all right? Just drop it."
Harry followed her across the room, annoyance at her resistance growing by the second. "See? Quit lying and just tell me what's wrong!"
"I told you, I'm not angry with you!" she snapped, whipping around to face him. Harry could tell that she was trying to contain herself, trying to hide all of her feelings, but he knew better... one look in her eyes told him everything he needed to know. He was shocked to see that the normally strong and undaunted Ginny looked as if she just wanted to break down and start bawling. Harry instantly felt himself soften and his heart clenched unintentionally inside his chest. Had he really done something that terrible? Merlin, he hoped not.
"Hey, come on," he told her softly, rubbing his hand up and down her arm. Ginny eyes clenched shut as she slowly turned away from him.
"Don't worry about it," Ginny told him with a placid softness that was so unlike her tone from moments before. She glanced around the slightly cleaned room and went to start straightening up again. "We better get this done," she continued, as she grabbed a rag off one of the tables and began scrubbing. "Hannah's probably waiting outside for you or something."
Harry was alarmed at the icy turn Ginny's voice had suddenly taken. Was that what this was all about?
"Is that what all this is about, Ginny? About Hannah?"
Ginny didn't pause in her cleaning, but her body had noticeably stiffened. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Harry."
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Harry had hit the main nerve. He almost laughed at the absurdness of it all, but didn't, not wanting to make the situation any worse. How the bloody hell could Ginny be mad about Hannah? Sure, he'd told Ginny that he'd had a fun time yesterday, but in all honestly, he didn't even like the girl! Ginny sometimes knew him better than he knew himself! She'd have to be really out of it not to catch that huge fib he'd told her. So, what in Merlin's name did she have to be mad about?
"So that's it, Gin?" he asked, keeping the pure amusement out of his voice. "You're mad at me because of Hannah? Really, Ginny, Hannah and I-"
"Are head over heels in love. Yes, Harry, we all saw that."
Harry's mouth fell open. "What?"
Ginny began scrubbing the table at an intense rate. "Yes, Harry, we were all quite aware of how much you couldn't keep your hands off each other, tonight. It's quite apparent there's something going on."
"What are you talking about?" Harry snapped, unable to comprehend just how Ginny had formed this conclusion. "I didn't even touch the girl, Ginny! And not to sound conceited or anything, but she was all over me, not the other way around!"
Ginny snorted. "Oh, please, Harry! You hardly did anything to stop her! And only an idiot could've missed the way you blushed every time she came near you!"
Harry was taken back by this sudden outburst. Where had all of this come from? Ginny had never had a problem with Hannah before, had she? If she did, she hadn't mentioned it to Harry. Why was she acting like this?
"I was uncomfortable! And I hardly could have said, 'Excuse me, Hannah, but your close proximity is making me uncomfortable. Please take two steps back,' now could I? What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me!"
"Then why are you acting like this? Why do you even care if I was dating Hannah?"
Ginny jumped up suddenly, throwing the rag she'd been holding onto the ground out of pure anger, and with blaring eyes stepped closer to Harry and yelled, "You men are so thick! "
But Harry never got to finish. Before he could get his first word out Ginny had hastily slammed her lips upon his, making it Harry's second kiss of the night. But this wasn't Hannah... and this wasn't Hannah's kiss. This was Ginny, one of Harry's best friends... but this wasn't a friendly kiss.
Harry had never thought what it would be like to kiss Ginny, but even if he had, he hardly doubted his thoughts would even slightly compare to the actual intensity of it. Ginny kissed like she played Quidditch - with all her heart and soul. Well, at least that's how she kissed Harry. Her soft lips caressed his own and her familiar sweet scent lingered on her mouth, intoxicating him. Suddenly Harry didn't like the thought of Ginny kissing any other bloke as she was kissing him. In fact, Harry didn't think he wanted any bloke kissing Ginny at all... now where in the bloody hell did that come from?
This possessiveness was new and strange to Harry. It didn't last long, however. Before he had even begun to analyze the millions of thoughts running through his brain, Ginny had pulled away and had run out of the room. Harry stood there, alone in a messy room, with messy thoughts and neither looked like they were going to be cleaned anytime soon.