A/N: This story is meant to be a companion piece to HBP. I
loved that Ginny and harry got together, but felt that JKR could have
done more with the relationship. This is my attempt to expand on
the story... fill in the blanks if you will. My aim is to make it
so that, when they actually do get together, it will seem like the most
inevitable and natural thing in the whole world. Enjoy! Chapter 1 takes place shortly after the trip to Diagon Ally.
Chapter 1 takes place shortly after the trip to Diagon Ally.
Chapter 1: Summer at the Burrow
"G'night Ron," Harry Potter groaned as he slid into bed.
"Er, g'night Harry," Ron replied, his voice a little shaky. "Um… How's your head?"
Harry winced. He raised a hand to the purplish bruise growing out of his forehead right next to his famous lightning-shaped scar. It pulsed sharply under his touch.
"It's been better."
He turned to look at Ron who sat hunched over on the edge of his bed, a glum expression on his usually cheerful face.
"Sorry… but I really thought you were going to catch it!"
"Yeah I know… don't make a big deal out of it." Harry rubbed the bruise gingerly and lay his head on the lumpy pillow. He stared up at the rickety wooden ceiling of the room wondering how he had ever let Ron convince him to enchant a watermelon as a quaffle.
"Seriously Harry?" Ron asked as he threw himself back onto his mattress. "Cos, you know, I don't want you to be mad at me or anything…"
Harry smiled a little. "Yeah, no problem."
"Okay," Ron muttered as he drifted off to sleep. "See you tomorrow."
As Ron's soft breathing slowly transformed into full blown snores, Harry pondered the events of the afternoon's quidditch match, puzzling at the injury he received. It wasn't as if it was the first time they played using watermelons, although it would definitely be the last, but what got him was how he could have missed catching the thing.
He remembered scoring the winning goal for is team, which consisted solely of he and Hermione, and celebrating with her beating the team of Ron and Ginny. He remembered sniggering at Hermione's surprised expression and uncaring 'We won?' as she sat on her broomstick. He remembered hugging her briefly, congratulating her for not really doing anything anyway. He remembered Ginny rushing up to him as she called out declarations of vengeance; her hair catching the fading light of the afternoon sun; her dark brown eyes sparkling in mischievous joy; that one fiery lock she brushed away from her face…
He remembered turning to Ron who had, for some reason, shouted 'catch!' He remembered the watermelon as it got bigger and closer and bigger…
Then he didn't remember much at all.
Still, it was a fun day, one of the last carefree days before he would have to go back to school and he felt that a small bruise was a small price to pay for an afternoon of quidditch with his friends. Besides, Ron had felt so bad that he convinced his mom to cook Harry's favorite dish for dinner. The treacle pudding was exceptional that night, so much so that he was perfectly able to ignore the twins calling him 'melon-head'.
Ron gave a loud snort as he turned over on his side. Harry sighed and thought of the summer that had past. He could not remember any summer he had enjoyed as much as this one. He had come to think of the burrow as home. No matter what would happen in the future, he would forever take this summer with him: Mrs. Weasley's tasty breakfast; the warmth of the fire embracing him as he played exploding snaps with Hermione, Ron, and Ginny; the quiet that pervaded his soul as he stood contemplating the lake…
He looked around at Hedwig slumbering in her cage in the corner. Her snowy white head was tucked under her wing and she shivered slightly in the cold.
Hedwig was the one constant in his life; his first introduction into the wonders of a world he never dreamed could exist. And he knew that Hedwig would be with him forever.
"Good night, Hedwig."
With a sigh, Harry turned over and pressed his pillow against his ear to drown out Ron's snores. As he drifted off to sleep, he tried to turn his thoughts to the coming school term, but somehow kept getting caught on images of fiery red sunsets.
Harry found himself walking through a darkly swirling, smoky mist. Dressed in his quidditch robes, he walked blindly onward. He could not see five feet beyond him, so he tried to feel his way with his hands.
"Hello?" His voice echoed in the darkness.
He groped along his robes, searching for his wand. Finding it in his pocket, he pulled it out and tried to cast a spell… but he couldn't remember a single one. In the distance, a wolf cried out.
No one responded. Instead, he felt a cold current swirl around his legs. He stopped suddenly and stood stock still. He heard crunching gravel behind him. It was getting louder. Now it was beside him. Now it was in front of him.
He couldn't see.
He could hear it.
Then he heard something else: a scream, high and clear. Someone was in pain… dying.
The crunching drew closer. He held his wand out with a shaky hand.
"Exp… expact… expe…" He couldn't remember.
A shadow loomed before him and he dropped his wand.
Dumbledore stood in front of him, tall and strong. He looked down at Harry with his clear blue eyes peaking through his half-moon glasses. A smile played on his lips, peeking out from under his bushy moustache.
"Harry," he called. His voice was soft and airy, as if coming from a great distance away.
"Professor?" he asked, at the same time relieved and confused. "What's happening?"
"Prepare, Harry…" Dumbledore said in that same ethereal voice. Harry's eyes widened in shock as, slowly, Dumbledore's face began to melt.
"Prepare…" His voice choked off with a strangled croak.
Harry awoke with a start, lunging up and reaching for some intangible vision that faded immediately from his grasp
"No…" he whispered. But it was gone.
He buried his face in his hand, sweat pouring down his face as he tried to remember the terrifying vision that invaded his peace. Something about Dumbledore… But no… it was gone.
He shoved his glasses onto his face and turned to look out the window. It was one of those exceptionally clear summer nights, cloudless and stark, where the stars blanketed the sky with their brilliance. The moon hung low in the sky, silver and comforting.
"I need to take a walk," he muttered. He swung his legs off of his bed and winced as the floorboards creaked under his weight. He froze as Ron snorted and shifted. When Ron didn't wake, Harry rushed downstairs throwing on a ratty Chudley Cannons t-shirt.
As he stepped through the Burrow's front door, he smiled as a gust of clear, fresh air flowed around him. He inhaled the scents of the trees and the grass, and felt immensely better. He stood on the porch, leaned on the railing, and felt his head clear.
"Wotcher Harry," came a sullen voice from behind him. Harry spun around.
Nymphadora Tonks, her hair still a mousy shade of brown, sat quietly in the shadows. She peered up at him with sad, sad eyes.
"Going somewhere?" she asked with a tired voice.
"Um, yeah… going for a walk."
"Want company? I'm supposed to be watching you… but you should be safe here…"
"No, I'm fine…"
"Don't go far." She sniffed a little, a plaintive gesture that made her look even younger.
She looked up at him.
"Nice night, yeah?" she said softly.
"Yeah… the moon's lovely."
And with that, she sobbed.
"love…" (sniff) "lovely…"
"Uh… Tonks?" Harry hesitated for a moment, then began to approach her tentatively. "Are you, uh, alright?"
Tonks whipped out a bright blue handkerchief and blew noisily into it. With her other hand, she waved Harry away.
"Yes, yes… go… I 'll be…"
She gave a small wail.
Harry stepped back in shock and she continued to waive him away.
Harry walked off slowly more than just a little confused. For as long as he could remember knowing her (which admittedly wasn't very long), Tonks was always so vibrant and chipper. He considered her for a moment longer, but as he walked down the gravel path, he heard something that penetrated his thoughts. He raised his head sharply, searching for the source of the sound. It was a voice… a girl's voice… soft and low. It sounded like it was coming from the lake.
Harry spun on his heels and set of down the path toward the lake. He entered a small thicket of trees and strained harder to hear the voice. It was singing. Harry couldn't quite make out the words, but the tune was slow, elegant… mournful.
He broke free from the trees and found he had a clear view down to the lake. He saw a lithe, slender figure standing at the edge of the water with her back to him. Harry gulped. If the voice had not been enough, the vision before him left no doubt at all that the singer was female.
She had long flowing hair that fanned across lean shoulders. Slender arms wrapped around her supple form. Harry figured that she did this for warmth, seeing as the thin, threadbare night robe that clung winningly to her probably did nothing for her. The moonlight glinted off her shimmering hair, which danced every so often on a gust of wind.
She sang on in dulcet tones. She sang a song of loss, of yearning, of love. Harry's heart wrenched in his chest.
Harry blinked and wondered what Fleur Delacouer was doing singing such a sad song at this time of night. He contemplated just leaving her, but figured that maybe she needed a friend. With his heart pounding painfully in his ears and his cheeks feeling warmer than freshly baked bread, Harry stepped closer.
As he drew nearer, he rehearsed what he would say; what greeting he would use, what tone he would speak in, whether he would call her "Fleur" or "Ms. Delacouer" or…
Wait. Silver. Her hair wasn't silver. The silver moonlight cast shadows on her hair masking its color. But it was definitely not silver. No… it was much darker…
"Fleur?" he whispered nervously.
The girl abruptly stopped singing. The silence was actually deafening.
Harry's heart pounded harder.
The girl raised her head and turned slightly. Her profile was…
She turned to look at him.
It was Ginny.
"Ginny?" his eyes widened in shock. He stared at her openly, and as another gust of wind picked up, he could definitely see how cold it was.
"Harry?" Ginny squeaked. "What are you…"
She followed his gaze and looked down. Blushing furiously, she wrapped her arms around herself again.
Harry continued walking, feeling, once again, a little bewildered. "I heard…"
She turned her face down and away. "Oh… I was just…"
She looked up at him again. The two stared at each other. Beyond her freckled shoulder, Harry could see the water rippling in the wind. Somewhere in the distance, an owl hooted loudly.
"So," Harry squeezed out. "What you doing?"
Ginny bit her lower lip, seemingly wrestling with something in her head. She looked away. "Well… um… I was just… thinking."
"Thinking!" Harry said brightly. "Yeah… I can do thinking!"
Ginny giggled and looked at him. Her embarrassment seemed to have gone, replaced by a twinkling mischief. "Really?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "Not much proof of THAT, huh?"
Harry snorted. "Haha. Funny."
"Wanna join me?" She asked.
"Sure. I need to clean my head."
"Dirty thinking much?"
"Nope. Never." She poked him hard in the ribs when he came to stand beside her. "Remember, I owe you for stealing that waterme… I mean 'quaffle' from me earlier."
"Nah, I didn't steal that. You dropped it. Butterfingers."
"Nerdbrain? You mean… Hermione?"
They collapsed on the soft grass, sharing a strangely comforting laughing fit.
"So," Harry said as he rubbed his eyes and sat up. "What were you thinking about anyway?"
Ginny gave one last chuckle and brushed a lock of hair away from her eyes. "Well… lots of things really."
"Like what?" He reached down, looking for a suitable skipping stone.
"Harry," her voice went soft again. She sat up and looked at him. "Last year…"
"Yeah?" he threw a stone. It skipped twice before sinking. Not bad.
"Did you kiss Cho?" She stretched her legs out and examined her toes.
He shifted uncomfortably. He had always thought everyone knew by now. "Uh… yeah."
He cast a sidelong glance at her. "Why do you ask?"
"How was it?" Her voice was light.
"Um…" her turned away. "Wet."
She spun on him. "Wet?"
"Yeah… she was crying I think."
She picked up a stone of her own and flicked it. Skip! Skip! Skip! Skip! Skip! Plunk.
"Nice throw," Harry said uncomfortably.
"Uh-hmmm. Did you like it?" Her voice was soft.
"What, the kiss? Um… yes... and… no?"
She pursed her lips. "Um… what?"
"Well… I did have a crush on her. But… I don't know. I guess even then, I knew that it just wasn't…" He let his voice trail off. What was she getting at?
"Ginny," Harry said. "What…?"
"Well," she muttered. "Dean asked me to kiss him."
"What? He's here?" Harry didn't quite know what to think about this new bit of information. Dean Thomas? And Ginny? Kissing?
"Wha…? No, no. He asked me by owl."
Harry shocked himself by feeling a little annoyed at this.
"And… what did you say?" He kept his voice carefully controlled.
"Nothing yet. I'm not sure I want to."
Odd. Harry felt… happy? "Er… why?"
Even in the moonlight, Harry could see that Ginny blushed furiously. "I've never kissed anyone before."
"Not even Michael Corner?" Harry was a little surprised. Relieved, for some reason, but surprised.
"No, no. It just didn't feel right with Michael."
"Do you… like Dean?"
She smiled sadly at him. "I'm going out with him, aren't I?"
"No, yeah I know, but do you really like him?"
"I… guess? I don't know." She laid back down on the soft earth and drew her legs up. Harry joined her as silence fell over them. He gazed into the sky. The stars really were beautiful in their majesty. He caught a glimpse of the star Sirius and smiled a little.
"Harry…" Ginny's voice was gentle. "Kissing Cho…"
"Do you think it helps?"
Harry puzzled over it for a second. "Helps what?"
"You know… for the next time. Do you think it was good practice for your next, you know, kiss?"
Harry didn't know quite what to say about that. "Um, I guess. I was really nervous kissing Cho. It was my first time after all."
He shifted onto his side to look at here. He studied her profile; the soft lines of her cheek and the pert upturn of her nose. The freckles splayed across the bridge of her nose like the stars in the sky.
He cleared his throat. "Next time should be better, now that I know how to and all."
Ginny turned to him and her deep brown eyes blazed as she stared deep into his.
"Okay." She smiled; a strange smile, mischievous and hopeful.
"Okay." Harry said softly.
"So." She turned back to the heavens. "What was troubling you?"
Harry sighed and frowned. "A dream. Just a… dream."
"Okay." She closed her eyes and her breathing slowed. She lifted her arms behind her head, cushioning against the ground. "Wanna talk about it?"
Harry closed his eyes and tried desperately to recall the dream. He only saw fragments: the silver fog, the howling wolf, Dumbledore…
"I… No, it was just a dumb nightmare."
"Okay…" She said sleepily. "You sure?"
"Yeah. Okay." Harry listened as Ginny's breathing turned into soft snores. Maybe it was the night air, maybe it was the water gently lapping against the shore, maybe it was the stars… Harry didn't now what it was that was making him feel at peace. He tried to grasp for it one more time. He almost had it… and a growing chill struck him as he felt the fear slowly coming back…
But then a gust of wind blew across the pair and Ginny turned and pressed her face against his chest in her sleep. All at once, the dark cloud hovering just on the edge of his consciousness lifted. His breathing slowed then, keeping in gentle rhythm with Ginny's. As she nestled her fiery red hair under his chin, he let go of the fear and the uncertainty and inhaled the sweet, summery scent of flowers lingering on her skin.