Author's Note: This is something I have been puttering away at for the last several months. If anyone recognizes my handle from an infamous incident of a never finished fic in another fandom a few years ago, rest assured, this one is already complete. I promised myself I wouldn't post until it was totally in the bag. I just need to add a few transitions and edit wizard language and British slang a bit. I will publish each chapter as I go. Plus you know, I figured a five chapter story might generate a few more reviews than one giant fifty page behemoth. Tra la la. What?

Also, I know Ginny's name is Ginevra. Harry doesn't. Snerk. Boys.

Chapter One

It was the middle of August and a sixteen-year-old Harry Potter was once again sitting alone in the drawing room of number twelve Grimmauld Place. Harry knew the others living in the house were relieved that he wasn't raging at the world. The truth was he had been angry for an entire year. Now he was exhausted. He could barely move he was so tired.

Harry supposed he shouldn't feel so tired any more. He had slept pretty much exclusively during his time at Privet Drive. He had spent almost the entire month either unconscious or staring at his ceiling. He tried to read every once in a while, but after a few pages he would just start to feel sleepy again and would roll over and close his eyes. He barely saw his aunt or uncle, and that was fine by him. He didn't want to deal the with the Dursley's and they, apparently, were just as happy not to have to deal with him.

The move to Grimmauld Place was pretty much a nonevent. The guard showed up, Harry left with them, the end. Harry was fairly certain people had been tiptoeing around him that first night, expecting him to have some sort of extreme emotional reaction to being back in the old house. But he really didn't feel like having any emotions, so instead he ate a bit of toast and went to bed.

Somehow, being around people he actually liked gave him motivation to leave his room every day. But he still didn't feel like talking to anyone much. And amazingly, everyone around him seemed to understand and pretty much left him alone. No one even asked him how he was, though he could tell that Hermione and Mrs. Weasley both wanted to, desperately, but were holding their tongues. He was grateful for the respite. While at the same time he had to wonder if part of the agreed silence wasn't because no one really needed to ask him how he was. Even he could feel his own misery wafting off of his skin. And it seemed he was skinnier than he had ever been before, if that was possible.

In return for the space he was given he made the effort to show up to at least two meals a day. Even going so far as to make sure he cleaned his plate in an attempt to give Mrs. Weasley one less thing to worry about. Though he drew the line at seconds. In the evenings he would either sit and read with Hermione or play a game of chess with Ron before retiring once again to his bed. But the rest of his day was spent here, sitting alone, staring at a charred hole in an old tapestry.

In all of his sitting and staring he had recently come to two realizations, neither of them pleasant.

The first was that he hadn't really known Sirius very well. Harry loved him he was sure. He had started thinking of Sirius as something akin to a parent within weeks of meeting him. Having someone who not only cared for him, but made him his top priority made Harry feel as though his own place in the world was more stable, more secure somehow. But still he had only turned to Sirius on a few important occasions. Their time together had been stunningly brief. And as a result he knew almost nothing of the man who had been his godfather. A few stories about his teen years plus what amounted to maybe six weeks in each others actual presence and that was it.

The ache was still unbearable though. Harry felt like he had a hole inside him. It was during a rather emotionally shut down moment of thinking that his grief didn't make rational sense that he suddenly understood that a large part of what he was mourning was what he would never have. The future relationship he hadn't realized he was looking forward to, when the war was over and Sirius was free and they could finally have some time. Though Harry loved him, would have risked his life for him, Sirius was now another important person from his life that he would never truly know.

The second was even worse. Sirius may have known about the prophecy. He was the original secret keeper - Sirius must have known why James and Lily were taking Harry into hiding. It was Sirius who had hinted that Voldemort was after a weapon last summer. The weapon turned out to be the prophecy, which the Order was attempting to guard. He had to know and he, like Dumbledore, had kept Harry in the dark. If Harry was going to be furious with Dumbledore didn't that mean he had to furious with Sirius as well?

But Harry didn't want to be angry with Sirius. He wanted, somewhat fervently, to idolize him. And so he decided, the only solution was not to think on what Sirius may or may not have known about the prophecy too much. That was dangerous ground, so Harry simply refused to go there.

And so he sat. And stared. And occasionally dozed.

The truth was Harry was starting to get a little sick of himself. Sick of living inside his own head where his thoughts just kept going in the same circles, which only served to make him more upset and more tired. Part of him knew that the time was coming when he would have to rejoin the world of the living. The problem was the transition just seemed so impossibly hard.

Someone padded into the room. Harry didn't stir. It was only when the person sat down in the chair opposite him that Harry realized it was Ginny. That was okay. Except for the few times Harry had actively done something to hack her off, Ginny was mostly a benign presence. In fact he knew there had even been one or two times when she had somehow hit upon the right words to make him feel better. Including, at least once, when she had been furious with him. Which, all in all, in his opinion, made Ginny an alright person to sit with.

The silence lingered for a few moments before Ginny leaned forward conspiratorially and announced, "I think there is something going on between Ron and Hermione."

Harry barley managed a nonplussed "Hmm." This wasn't news. Something had been going on between Ron and Hermione since at least fourth year. Probably since they met. The only surprise was that it had taken an intelligent girl like Ginny this long to notice. Unless... Harry opened his eyes and sat up straighter. "Hold on. Do you mean 'going on' like you know why Ron gets all overprotective and jealous and it is unbelievable that he still won't admit it, or do you mean something is actually going on going on?"

She smiled at him bemused. "I've understood my brother's suppressed affections since he confessed to me exactly why he spent a night burping up slugs. No, I mean I think progress has been made. Something has happened behind the scenes that they aren't sharing."

Now that definitely caught his interest. "Why?"

"They had a huge row yesterday."

Harry slumped back into his chair and grumbled, "That's hardly something new."

Ginny gave him a look of deep annoyance before she continued. "Mum asked the three of us to go through some rooms that haven't been used for a while, to make sure nothing has moved in. We had been working for a couple of hours when Hermione asked if I knew how many rooms were left; she had a letter she had been hoping to write before dinner. Ron made this kind of noise, like a cross between groan and a snort." Ginny gestured with her hands to emphasize her point. "That was it. A noise. And Hermione completely went off. She told him something like she had really thought she could be patient and wait for him to pull his head out of his arse, but she just couldn't do it anymore. It's been two years and she can't just sit and bear the brunt of his jealousy especially if she isn't going to at least reap some of the benefits. She was done waiting. Either he could grow up and be a man or he could just sod off already because even though he was clearly insane he wasn't going to take her down with him." Ginny sat back, arms crossed, very self-satisfied. "Then she stormed out of the room."

Harry shifted in his seat, his curiosity raised, slightly. "Hermione really said all that? Even the arse part?"

"Almost word for word. It was bloody brilliant."

"And 'sod off' seems unlikely."

Ginny rolled her eyes in a dramatic gesture, which Harry was sure was intended to demonstrate just how extremely patient she was being with him. "That's the point Harry. I have never heard Hermione talk like that, but my dear brother has nearly driven her right round the bend."

"And Ron?"

Ginny smirked. "He just stood there, for about a minute, staring at the door. Then he went back to searching the room almost like nothing happened." Ginny became more animated again, as though reliving her annoyance from the moment. "I couldn't believe it. I swear I was about to hex him, restrictions for underage magic be damned. I couldn't live with having a brother that stupid. But then all of sudden he chucked the throw pillows he was looking under, muttered, 'bollocks' under his breath and walked out of the room."

If this was the end of the story Ginny was revealing herself to be a Ron and Hermione amateur. Harry's voice was slightly agitated as he demanded, "And you think this is a good thing? They had a fight like this before you know."

Ginny seemed incredulous as she asked, "Didn't you notice them yesterday at dinner?"

Harry answered honestly. "No." Truth was he barely noticed anything at all.

"They were being really nice to each other."

As if that was supposed to mean anything. He scoffed, "Ron and Hermione generally are nice to each other."

Ginny held up her hand. "No, I mean really nice. Ron refilled her pumpkin juice four times and she kept asking if he wanted more peas."

Harry shrugged, "That's hardly evidence of anything."

Completely exasperated Ginny nearly shouted, "Harry, he gave her the last piece of pie!"

So that was it then; Ron and Hermione were officially an item. If it was at all possible Harry started to look gloomier than he had when Ginny first walked in.

Ginny obviously noticed as she suddenly started to apologize, "Oh, I'm sorry Harry. I thought, I guess I thought this was fun news. Erm... I'm sure they will do everything they can to make sure you don't feel left out."

Left out? Harry hadn't even thought of that. Yet. "That's not it."

Ginny looked confused. "Then what's wrong then?"

Harry was silent for a moment. It was hard to explain without sounding silly. He had known this day was coming for ages, it was just... "I always thought I would be there." The terrified look on Ron's face alone was something he had been looking forward to.

Ginny gave an impish grin. "It was pretty classic."

Harry had always assumed when things finally came to their inevitable head he would be the one to pat Ron on the back and offer a few words of encouragement before sending his best friend off to face his fate. That was his job wasn't it? Somehow the moment had gone by without him.

When Harry continued to be lost in his own unhappy thoughts Ginny's face softened to a look of understanding. "I'm sorry you missed it. But don't worry Harry, in a few years Ron will be facing the horror of having to propose. Can you even imagine what a mess he will be then?"

"Yeah, I guess." Harry knew he was pouting, but he couldn't help it. And now Ginny had mentioned something new to fret about. "Gin?"


Harry lowered his voice, he didn't like sounding insecure. "Do you think I should be worried? About being left out?"

Ginny appeared to be taking her time in responding. Finally she quietly began, "The truth is, I have been told, by certain people, that when a girl gets a new boyfriend sometimes she tends to be neglectful of her own friends, but I think this will be different."


Ginny's voice became very matter of fact, "Because Ron and Hermione were already friends and the three of you are a pretty much an exclusive trio. If Hermione started dating someone outside your group, like, oh I don't know, from Ravenclaw or something, I am sure you would see less of her. But they already spend all their time together anyway, so it won't really be that big of a change."

"Yeah, I guess."

"Besides," she smiled a little wickedly, "as soon as you find a girl of your own, you'll be too busy to notice."

Harry let out a derisive snort.

Ginny frowned, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I don't exactly see myself dating any time in..." he was going to say the near future but suddenly felt the truth was really, "ever."

For the first time in the conversation Ginny looked like she felt a bit sorry for him. "That's too bad Harry."

Before things turned too maudlin Harry hastened to add, "It's not like I was any good at it anyway."

Following his lead Ginny smirked, "So the real issue comes out. Look, if Ron can manage you can't be that much of a lost cause."

That night at dinner Harry actually worked at paying attention. Ginny was right: Ron and Hermione were acting differently towards each other. More mindful somehow, but quietly so. Later when Ron and Harry played chess, Ron sat on the floor and Hermione read her book in the chair behind him. They weren't touching, but they were unusually close and the whole thing had an air of sweetness about it. Finally, as the trio made their way up the stairs for bed Harry realized almost belatedly that the pair had fallen behind and Harry reached the second landing alone. It was a full minute before Ron entered the bedroom.

The whole thing was a bit surreal in that Harry realized if Ginny hadn't pointed anything out to him he would have continued on in his own little world, oblivious. At the same time it was so obvious. It was with a bit of relief that Harry understood that they weren't working particularly hard at going behind his back, if they were doing so at all. They just weren't telling him outright.

Harry decided to let his best friend off the hook. He tried to sound as nonchalant as possible as he asked, "So how is it?"

Ron looked up from buttoning his pajamas. "How's what?"

Harry hopped onto his bed casually before he dropped the bomb, "Kissing our mutual best friend?"

Ron's mouth dropped. His hands froze. "How do you know?"

Harry shrugged. "Ginny figured it out."

Ron's arms dropped to his sides in defeat. "Figures, Hermione wasn't exactly discreet telling me off yesterday." He sat on his bed and looked at Harry a little cautiously. "Are you mad?"

Harry considered for a moment. He didn't feel angry. "Don't think so."

Ron started to explain, "We were trying to figure out how to tell you, but you haven't been around much. And we weren't sure if you were, you know, really interested in this kind of news just now."

"Makes sense."

Ron smirked a bit as he confessed, "I suggested we could just spend the day making out in here and maybe you would walk in on us, but Hermione wouldn't go for it for some reason."

Harry rolled his eyes, "Shocking that."

A moment passed before Ron asked seriously, "Are you sure you're not upset?"

"Should I be upset?"

"I don't know." Ron started to shift a little uncomfortably. "Hermione was worried you might feel left out or something."

That again. Perhaps it would be best if they dealt with this right now. Harry asked honestly, "Are you planning on leaving me out?"

Ron looked shocked, "No."

"Then there's nothing to be upset about," Harry said simply.

Ron didn't seem so certain, "I guess."

Harry tried for a joke. "Besides, it's not like I want to be included in anything," here Harry made a face to indicate exactly what he meant, "coupley with you guys anyway."

"Well that's good," Ron grinned. "Spares us the nasty business of me having to rip your lungs out."

"Let's make a deal," Harry offered. "We all hang out as usual and I'll pretend not to notice anything annoyingly flirty or cuddly and you guys can have your alone time while I have my Occlumency lessons with Dumbledore."

"Sounds good." Ron seemed to be considering seriously, "And if we need any extra snogging time there's always prefect rounds."

"Exactly." The two boys shook hands. Issue solved.

Harry felt good knowing everything was going to be okay. Ron and Hermione might have changed, but the three of them would stay basically the same. He felt so good in fact he couldn't help needling Ron a bit by asking again, "So how is kissing our mutual best friend?"

Ron's ears turned a distinct red. "Brilliant."

The next day Harry decided to make a change. He still slept in as late as usual, but after lunch, rather than taking up his post in the drawing room he joined the others while they did their chores. Harry knew Mrs. Weasley was essentially just making up things for them to do. It was probably a good idea, keeping the four teenagers at least partially occupied rather than letting them just sit around the house doing nothing and going completely barmy.

Today they were reorganizing the library. Hermione had become so enthusiastic Harry was just waiting for the moment when she was bound to suggest something dramatic like devising a card catalogue. He figured it couldn't be long. Currently they were only sorting by author and title. Harry knew the "disorganization" would get to her eventually.

Finally her thoughtful voice came from across the room. "You know, we really ought to create some sort of sub-system."

Harry snorted into the cover of the book he was holding and he caught Ginny covering her mouth, presumably to suppress a giggle.

For his part Ron slammed a rather heavy volume down on top of a dusty pile. His voice was firm, "Hermione no. This is busy work. Nothing more."

"But we could at least do something simple. General categories, like History, Potions, Transfiguration." Then she smiled, as though she thought she was offering a reasonable compromise. "We could just stick to the same topics as our classes at school."

Ron was not moved. "Oh really. Then where are we supposed to put this one, Trans-u-genesis: The Origin and History of the Transfiguration of Dangerous Creatures into Muggle Artifacts and its Application to the Modern Day Dark Arts?"

Hermione scowled at him, "You're making that up."

Ron waved the book at her. "I am not. Take a look at this." Ron cradled the book in his arms and started to turn the pages.

Hermione suddenly started towards him in alarm. "Ron don't!"

But she was too late. Without warning the book came to life and lunged at Ron, digging it's pages into his hand. The other three all moved at once. Harry struggled to pry the attacking volume off his friend and threw it on the floor. Ginny grabbed an enormous bust of a Black family ancestor and dropped it on the monstrosity, effectively stunning and pinning it to the floor. Hermione tended to a horrified Ron.

"It bit me! The bloody thing bit me."

"Oh God, it's already starting to swell," Hermione said sounding rather alarmed.

"Nearly took my arm off!"

"Ron calm down!" Hermione ordered. She turned to Harry and Ginny who were both still staring at the book warily. "I'm taking him down to Mrs. Weasley," she said as she started to lead a still muttering Ron from the room.

As soon as they were left alone in the room Ginny gave the book a slight kick. It groaned a bit in response but didn't move. "I don't think it can get out from under that," Harry said. "I'm half surprised you could even lift it."

"Well you know, adrenaline and all that," Ginny muttered darkly.

The two looked at each other for a moment, then smiled a bit, shook their heads and returned to work. It was amazing really, Harry thought, how before, something like an attacking book would have stopped the day, whereas now it barely generated any reaction at all.

Harry wanted to fill the silence. In fact he realized he was somewhat eager to have another conversation like the one they had shared yesterday. He just wasn't sure how to start. After a few minutes of pondering something occurred to him. Something he was curious about, so he decided to ask, "How's Dean?"

"Dean?" She seemed surprised at the inquiry, yet there was also something a little off about her as she asked a bit too defensively, "How would I know?"

"Well," Harry said, a bit confused, "you said you were dating him."

"No I didn't."

"Yes you did."

"No," Ginny insisted, "I am really sure I didn't, since I'm not."

Harry frowned. He was a bit annoyed actually. He had expected her to be honest with him. "On the train when you told us why you ditched Michael Corner you said you were dating Dean."

Ginny suddenly blushed crimson. "I didn't say I was dating him." There was a long pause as she stared at her shoes. "I said I've chosen him. And I have," here she looked up at Harry and rolled her eyes, "I just haven't exactly gotten around to telling him yet."

Harry didn't know what to say. "Oh."

Ginny rushed on, "I shouldn't have said anything. I usually try really hard to keep these things to myself, you know, to avoid total abject humiliation, but Ron just really pissed me off."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Abject humiliation?"

Ginny smiled at him then ducked her head. "Crushes can be so very embarrassing."

He couldn't leave it alone. "So you have a crush on Dean then?"

"I guess. I don't know." Her voice went a little high, "Maybe? I think I need to test it out a bit to be sure."

Harry's first thought was wondering how exactly she would test it out, but then he found himself needing to know, "So if you're not sure if you have a crush on Dean, why would you choose him?"

Ginny shrugged, "He's really sweet and nice, not to mention good looking. And honestly?" Harry nodded. "This might sound strange, but it kind of seemed like he might like me."

This took Harry completely by surprise. Not the idea that someone might like Ginny, she was likeable enough, but rather, "How could you tell he liked you?" How was that possible? He could never work out whether Cho liked him or not. Except for the few moments her lips were actually kissing his, he was completely lost. And even that certainty was immediately ruined when she started crying a minute later.

Ginny stared at him in disbelief, then snorted. "Oh please Harry, you can always tell when someone likes you."

Harry remained dubious.

Ginny sighed, "It's in the way they look at you, like their day just got suddenly better. Or some people get really shy all of sudden. There are a few guys at school who are real flirts, they look just as oozingly thrilled to see any girl, so it would be hard with them, but I didn't notice that about Dean."

Harry intentionally stressed the sarcastic tone when he answered, "You make it sound so easy."

Ginny looked thoughtful as she said, "I think it's harder when you like the person. Maybe you see things that aren't really there because you want to, but when you don't care it's usually obvious. Just like it's painfully obvious if someone doesn't like you. They look sort of apologetic, like they know how you feel and they're sorry. I think that was the look I was giving Dean last year, only because I was with someone, not because I didn't like him. Or worse, they always look skittish when they see you, like they walked into a trap. Deer caught in the headlights sort of thing." She darkened for a moment, "I really hate that one."

Harry felt the awkwardness of the moment with every fibre of his being. He was sure that the last comment was at least partly directed towards him. He wondered if he had ever looked trapped with Ginny and for the first time wondered if he had hurt her. He hadn't meant to, but her feelings toward him had just seemed so strange, he hadn't known what to do. Suddenly he felt like he should apologise. "I'm sorry if I ever looked like that. To you I mean."

Ginny shrugged. "It's old news Harry." After a pause she grinned at him, "I guess we're both glad that's over with huh?"

Without thinking Harry automatically responded with a positive, "Yeah."

At Ginny's sharp look he started stammering, "I didn't mean it like that. It's just, you never used to talk to me, so I didn't know you. And now you do, and you're really nice."

"Wow," Ginny smirked, "you keep talking like that and I might just fall in love with you all over again."

For a split second before he realized she was joking Harry felt his face begin to heat. Then when he understood she was making fun it grew even hotter. He frowned in an attempt to hide his discomfort. Something occurred to him then though that he hadn't recognized before. And it was suddenly very important that he tell her. He needed to make her understand so she wouldn't drift away and stop talking again. "I really like having you as a friend Ginny."

She smiled warmly at him, "Me too."

Though the moment was nice Harry felt very awkward all of a sudden. He needed a distraction and found he couldn't resist teasing her just a bit more. "Besides Virginia, I may have been the one who looked trapped, but it was always you who actually ran away."

Ginny stared at him wide eyed for a few seconds before she groaned, "Was I really terrible?"

"No." And when he honestly thought about it she hadn't been. He couldn't even recall a single time she had followed him anywhere, not like those girls used to follow Krum everywhere he went.

"Well that's good to know at least." A moment passed and then Ginny put her book down and said very seriously, "Look Harry, about Dean, please don't say anything to him. I want to take care of this myself, without any interference."

"Alright." Then curiosity got the better of him. "How are you going to let him know?"

A decidedly dangerous grin lit upon Ginny's face. "Oh don't you worry, I have my plans."

It occurred to Harry that he wouldn't be surprised if Ginny started rubbing her hands together and chuckling with delicious satisfaction. "Should I be worried about him?"

"Oh definitely."

Harry found himself wondering what it might be like to be pursued by Ginny Weasley. He supposed he should already know, but he didn't think that was really true. It seemed that now it would be different. Now it would be much, much better.