Uncertainty In Grimmauld Place
Hot tears pricked the corners of Ginny's eyes, and she cursed her mother, the press, rusty nails in general and Harry Potter in particular – if it hadn't been for him, she wouldn't have been in this position. While searching for various items her mother wanted, Ginny had seen a picture of him, she thought, and the sheer oddity of seeing a photo of him in this house had made her reach out for it – and then her hair had got snagged on that thrice bedamned nail.
She was crouched on her hands and knees, her head and shoulders thrust into the press. She'd been there for, she thought, about fifteen minutes, and her arms were trembling from the effort of holding herself up. She had tried yelling for help, but had only succeeded in raking her ears ring, and all her twisting and turning had tangled her hair worse than ever, and, Lord, it hurt.
At last she heard someone come tramping up the stairs, and then, in response to her shout, open the door. "Bill?" She said hopefully – anyone else would be bound to tease her about it."
"Ginny? What are you doing down there?"
She cringed. If there was one person in the world she didn't want to see her in this position, bum in the air, it was Harry. She heard his runners squeaking on the floor as he came closer. "It's my hair," she said, "It got caught. Can you do something? It really hurts."
"Okay." She felt him hunker down beside her, and he stuck his head into the press, just behind hers. He was breathing rather heavily, and, after a moment she felt his arm reach over her shoulder and fumble around looking for the nail. Her arms were shaking harder than ever, and she groaned inwardly at what Harry might think.
He pulled a little too hard and Ginny let out a squeak of pain. "Don't tug Harry! For God's sake."
"Sorry." He patted her shoulder awkwardly and moved a little closer. Ginny swallowed carefully – he was half leaning on her, and she could feel his whole front. It was hard. She closed her eyes – she'd never been this close to Michael in a press, a fact she was bitterly regretting.
Gradually the pull on her scalp eased and she heard Harry chuckling. "I never knew you had so much hair."
She resisted the temptation to roll her eyes. "Just be glad it's not Hermione. You'd be here all day."
He actually laughed out loud at that, and Ginny nearly dropped from shock. He hadn't been laughing much since, well, since the third task – Hermione was worried about him. His stomach rumbled loudly and she tried and failed to repress a giggle. "I hope Mum didn't hear that, otherwise she'll be up with a few hundred sandwiches."
"Quiet you." He gave her a slight poke in the ribs, but Ginny could hear the smile in his voice. "Anyway, she's up curing Ron – he got attacked by a pair of robes," he added after a moment.
"Is he all right?"
"Well, if he didn't have a mortal fear of dress robes before, he does now."
Ginny laughed at the same time as Harry freed the last few hairs – her arms immediately gave out, and she fell forward, sliding towards the back of the press. Her chest was crushed against the box she'd seen the photo in, and her head fell through the back of the press with a slight 'pop'.
After taking a moment to gather herself, Ginny looked around – she must have fallen through that Illusion Press Sirius had mentioned. He and his brother had used it in games when they were children. Now her head was sticking into another room, presumably his bedroom.
Harry was pulling on her legs in the other room, and, foolishly, Ginny turned her head to yell at him to stop, and felt an unmerciful yank in her hair. She swore so loudly Harry dropped her legs in surprise and she heard a voice say, "Ginny?"
She didn't respond immediately, furious with herself for getting into an even worse mess than before. A pair of legs swung into view and a moment later Sirius was kneeling in front of her. He looked as though he had just woken. "What happened?"
Ginny sputtered in inarticulate rage and finally managed to say, "My hair got caught and then…and now it's caught again."
"And Harry keeps pulling!"
Sirius raised an eyebrow and Ginny stared right back at him – she was not going to blush. He reached a hand up and thumped on the wall. Thankfully, Harry stopped yanking on her hair and with a flick of his wand Sirius managed to unsnarl her hair and then drag her slowly through the wall. The box of photos came with her. She sighed with relief once she was freed.
She rubbed the back of her head tenderly as Sirius said, "What happened?"
Ginny searched for the picture that had surprised her, saying, "I saw this and I thought it was Harry, and when I went to pick it up I got my hair caught."
"And how did that lead to you falling through my wall?"
"Oh, Harry eventually freed me, but I'd been holding myself up for so long I fell down." She showed him the photo that had lured her in.
"That's not Harry – that's James."
Ginny looked at it again. "They really do look exactly alike. I only saw it for a second, but I honestly thought it was him."
Sirius looked at the photo slowly. Ginny thought his voice shook a little as he said, "I though these must have been lost years ago…Regulus said he had a box of my things but he died before he could owl it to me."
There were about eight photos in all, along with a motley collection of dog-eared comics, old letters, and what looked like a beater's bat. Most of the photos were of Sirius, Lupin, James Potter and the boy who became Scabbers. There were two however that made Ginny pause. The first was of two girls, probably about seventeen years old, their arms wrapped around each other and broad smiles on their faces. It reminded Ginny of her closest friends at school. She looked at Sirius curiously, "Who are they?"
He pointed to the redhead. "That's Harry's mother – Lily."
Ginny sighed enviously – she'd always wished her hair were that dark shade of red. "She's pretty."
Sirius chuckled. "James certainly thought so."
"Who's the other girl?"
"Oh that's Dorcas."
"Were they friends?"
"The best – like sisters."
Ginny sighed. "That must be nice."
"What about Hermione? What's she?"
"I'm in no mood for self-pity." She wanted to ask what he'd been doing holed up in his bedroom for the last week, but it wasn't the time, so she laughed instead. She looked at the other photo. The girl Dorcas was perched on Sirius' knee – he was bouncing her up and down and they were both laughing. She was blushing and Ginny said, "Was she your...?"
"Girlfriend? Yeah. Not when this was taken though."
"We broke up anyway, and the Voldemort murdered her."
"But if he hadn't?" She put this question tentatively – she wasn't sure how he'd respond.
"We might have got back together, maybe. I like to think so."
"I know Ginny. I wasn't going to have some ugly girlfriend."
He grinned. "Maybe."
"You know, you should show these to Harry."
"I mean, he'd probably really like…" Her voice trailed off, and Sirius only grunted in response. Silence filled the room, only punctuated by their breathing. When the door opened Ginny though it was loudest sound she'd ever heard.
It was Harry – and he was annoyed. He scowled at her, "I didn't know where you were – I was looking for you."
"Oh – well, I'm all right. It was only falling through a wall."
This did not appease him, and Ginny looked up at him through her eyelashes, the look that had worked on all her brothers since she was two. "I'm sorry," she said, "I should have told you."
Harry grinned at her, and for an instant she thought he looked slightly embarrassed. It was only a moment, and then Sirius laughed sharply. Ginny turned her head to look at him, and could have sworn he winked at her. She wasn't absolutely certain, but this thought alone was enough to make her want to leave the room.
She stood up as Harry said, "Hermione's looking for you."
"Did she say why?"
"No…Well, she was muttering about Ron, but she didn't say what had happened."
Ginny sighed. The thought of having to soothe Hermione yet again was not attractive. She could find it in her heart to wish that Ron and Hermione wouldn't bait each other so much, even if it was their way of expressing affection.
"I'd better get going then."
Harry went to follow her out of the door and she looked at him in surprise. "Are you coming too?"
"Thought I might see if anyone's up for a game of Snap."
"Hermione's more of a Gobstones girl, Harry."
He actually looked disappointed, but the wave of sympathy Ginny felt was cut short when Sirius said, "You play Snap don't you Ginny?"
She stared at him disbelievingly. "Yeah but…"
"Well then – I'll see you later."
She felt bitterly disappointed. She didn't know why he wouldn't show Harry the photos, but she wished he would. It would make both of them happier, even if only a little bit. Harry looked slightly…rejected as they left the room, and she couldn't stand it, so she said, "You want to play Snap then?"