Disclaimer: Not mine. All hail the magnificent J.K. Rowling.
A/N: Well, even though this story will be AU in 15 days, 3 hours, 56 minutes, and 42 seconds, I decided to put it up. Also, ever since hit counters were made free I have discovered that there are a lot more people reading my stories than actually reviewing. If you could just drop me a note, even just to say you read it, it would mean tons to me. Thanks much to everyone who's reviewed my other stories. I'm considering writing a companion to this from Ginny's POV. If you'd like to see that, let me know.
The boy in question glanced upwards from his Charms homework, quite happy for any distraction at all. If he ever heard someone say the words 'Animation Charm' again, he was going to have to strangle something. As it turned out, this particular distraction was not one Harry would have turned down under any circumstances. "Yeah, Ginny?"
She paused for a moment, studying him carefully. "Are boys really all that clueless about girls, or do they feign incomprehension so that if they do something wrong they can pretend to not know what's going on?"
Harry blinked twice, a confused look passing over his face. "What kind of question is that?" He spat out.
For a few moments Ginny watched him, her tongue at the corner of her mouth. Without warning she brightened, her eyes sparkling, and she chirped, "Oh, alright then. That clears everything up." She bounced away just a quickly as she appeared, her ponytail swishing back and forth in a thoroughly hypnotic way. Groaning, Harry whacked his head against the arm of the chair. Why hadn't he been able to come up with a better answer than that? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Of course, now Ginny would think he was a complete idiot who couldn't even form a decent response to a simple question. Even just a yes or no would have been more articulate than his reply. And, of course, she would realize that he was completely clueless about girls. No, Harry corrected himself, not all girls. Just one.
Sighing, he decided to just go to bed. It was pointless to even try thinking about this. Saying a brief goodnight to Hermione and Ron, who were huddled up by the fire pointedly trying not to kiss because each refused to believe that their feelings were returned, Harry stomped up the stairs and into bed.
The next morning at breakfast Harry couldn't help but notice that Ginny was acting very strangely. He watched her push her eggs and sausage around so that it looked like she had eaten something, all the while never lifting the fork to her mouth. Her lips were drawn, and her eyebrows were scrunched together. Internally debating whether to ask what was wrong or not, Harry decided it couldn't hurt. Besides, she always did the same to him; and he could, begrudgingly, admit that talking helped.
"Gin?" He nudged her foot gently with his, and she glanced up at him. "Is something wrong? You aren't eating."
Ginny's face flushed and she bit her lip. Obviously, she wasn't very happy about being caught. "I am too eating. You must not have been paying attention, since you're stuffing your face like there's…"
"Ginny." Harry met her eyes and she dropped her gaze. "Not one bit of your food has left that plate. You're just shoving it around so it looks like you're eating." She opened her mouth to protest again, but Harry continued determinedly. "I did the same thing at the beginning of the year, and you force-fed me. Don't make me do the same to you. At least have some toast," he pleaded. Ginny was upset, and he wanted to help her. When she smiled sadly at him and reached across the table for the bread and jam Harry felt the now familiar stirring in his gut, the one that occurred when Ginny caught his eye in the hall or sat down next to him on the couch to do homework.
Returning to his own meal of soggy cereal, Harry smiled as he heard vicious crunching issuing from the spot next to him. Now that Ginny was eating, she was showing her food no mercy.
"I broke up with Dean."
Harry's head snapped up. Ginny was very determinedly examining her toast. Well, that probably explained what that question last night had been about. Sure, Ginny could be random at times, but it was a quite odd of her to just ask if guys understood girls completely out of the blue. As Harry saw it, this break-up was a good thing, even if for selfish reasons. He couldn't deny that since school began he had become quite good at picking up on Dean's faults. There were quite a lot, and Harry wondered which one had caused Ginny to break up with him. Suddenly, a harsh kind of jealous anger bit at his insides. Dean wouldn't have… "He didn't hurt you, did he?"
Ginny's eyes got wider, and Harry cursed himself. He shouldn't have sounded so… Like one of her older brothers. But to his surprise, instead of ripping his head off, Ginny simply gave him another stomach-drop-flip-spin-inducing smile. "Of course he didn't, Harry. It just… Wasn't working out." She gave him a pointed look, but Harry couldn't figure out what she meant to get across.
Before he had time to ask her she glanced at her watch, and, squealing, sprinted out of the Great Hall while shouting some excuse about being late for Potions. Harry checked his watch. There was a good fifteen minutes before the first class started. Shrugging, he figured he would mention it to Ginny later so that she could fix her watch.
The day passed almost uneventfully, the highlight being when Pansy shoved Malfoy off his chair (presumably because he was cheating on her) and he landed on top of his cauldron full of Babbling Potion which, Hermione whispered, he had obviously made incorrectly, as he started spouting out several of his darkest secrets. Every Gryffindor member of the class nearly fell off their chairs laughing when Malfoy mentioned that he had a hidden collection of romance novels. Even when Snape took fifty points from Gryffindor for class disturbance and threatened more they had trouble stopping. Seamus pointed out that Malfoy was much more disturbing, and got both raucous laughter and detention for that.
Ron had spent the day making plans for getting slugs in Malfoy's food, as he had professed a fear for them earlier, and Harry had spent the day carefully tuning him out and letting Hermione deal with it.
"…and we could bribe Dobby, buy him a pair of socks or something, and at breakfast he could just sort of slip some slugs onto Malfoy's bacon…"
"Don't be silly, Ron. Even if Dobby likes you he isn't going to do something as ridiculous as that."
"Well, then, Harry can create a disturbance, do something really thick, and Malfoy will start taking the mickey out of him, and I'll slip under the invisibility cloak and sneak over to the Slytherin table and put the slugs in his food…"
"Ron! There's no way you'll be able to walk all the way across the Great Hall without running into someone, and just think of the trouble that'd cause…"
Making a mental note to tell Ginny the story (he would do just about anything to make her laugh), Harry leaned over his tediously long Potions essay and was just about to look up the reason doxie wings were used in Babbling Potions when Umbridge hem-hem-ed above him.
Glancing up in horror, he found that it was not actually Umbridge, but a giggling Ginny. Harry's face burned, and she started laughing harder. "Merlin, don't scare me like that."
"I'm sorry," she said, "But the opportunity was just too good to pass up. I was actually wondering if you could help me with my Transfiguration homework. We're learning how to make things disappear, and I'm absolute rubbish at it. Everyone else is already on mice, and I still haven't done buttons, and if I can't make them vanish by class tomorrow McGonagall's going to make me take extra study sessions and…" Ginny made puppy eyes at Harry, and he smiled, his pulse picking up a few notches. She had come to him for help. That had to be a good sign.
"Sure, I can show you. It's not that hard, really." Ginny plopped down next to him, digging in her pockets for the buttons. "It's like any normal Transfiguration, just try to imagine changing the buttons into air. That helped me." She threw him a curious look, and Harry tried to return it without blushing again. Did she really have to be so pretty? It was terribly unnerving.
"Alright. I'll try that," Ginny sighed. She waved her wand in a quick circle, pointing it at one of the buttons. "Evanesco."
Absolutely nothing happened.
"Dammit," she wailed, burying her face into Harry's shoulder. "I'll never be able to do this and I'll be stuck in extra study sessions for the rest of my life!"
Completely frozen, he wondered what on earth he was expected to do in a situation like this. Harry could feel the heat radiating off of Ginny's body, and he could smell her- a funny flower scent mixed with trees and cornflakes. It was the most wonderful aroma in the world to him. Tentatively he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and patted her back.
"Come on, Ginny, it can't be that bad. Look, we'll try it again. I'll keep helping you all night if that's what it takes." The distraught redhead raised her eyes up to Harry's, a hopeful glint shining through.
"Would you really?"
"Of course." Harry shifted awkwardly, not really sure what to say next. Ginny bit her lip and nodded, a pathetic gesture that made Harry want to throw his arms around her and tell her that he didn't care if she couldn't make things disappear worth bollocks, he still thought she was the most wonderful girl in the world. But he didn't.
Instead, he turned her face towards his. Faint surprise alighted on Ginny's features, but Harry barely noticed. He needed to do this before he could think about it, because then he would chicken out. Quickly, though to Harry it seemed to take forever, he lowered his lips to hers and pressed lightly before pulling back again.
Ginny looked stunned, and he guessed that it was a perfect mirror of his face. He couldn't believe that he had just done that. She had only just broken up with her boyfriend, not to mention the fact that she had gotten over him long ago. Never mind the fact that it had been the most wonderful sensation Harry had ever felt, tiny bombs exploding pleasurably all over his brain and warm water tickling his skin, it had been a stupid thing to do.
But to his surprise, Ginny didn't hit him. Nor did she storm off, or start cursing, or tell him off. Instead, she laughed. Harry watched her, stunned. What was that supposed to mean?
His question was answered a few moments later when she flung her arms around his neck and whispered, "Finally, Harry."