Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
'Shh! You're going to wake up the entire house.'
'Oh, please. You just don't want anyone to come down and eat the cake.'
'Well, yeah! When you grow up with six brothers – all of them pigs, mind you – you learn to be aggressive. If not, you miss out on the good food, or the hot water in the shower, or – Mm! This cake is delicious. Have some of this.'
'Merlin, Gin, you act like you've never had your mum's chocolate cake before,' Harry said.
'But it tastes so much better when it's forbidden,' she said.
Harry laughed. 'It's not really forbidden,' he said. 'It's just leftover from the party.'
'Yeah, but … you don't understand,' said Ginny. 'In this house, there's an unwritten rule that Ron gets the leftover cake. He always – and I mean always – wakes up in the middle of the night and sneaks down here to finish it. Even when the cake wasn't baked in his honour! Honestly, this is your birthday cake; shouldn't you be sneaking down here to eat it, not him?' She grinned and took another bite. 'He'll have our heads when he finds out we've beaten him to it this time, you know.'
Harry put up his hands. 'Don't drag me down with you,' he said. 'I only came down here to get a glass of water.'
And that was the truth. As he passed by Ginny's room on his way to the kitchen, she'd come out, bumped into him, and let him in on her intentions.
'Nobody's making you stay,' said Ginny with a shrug. 'Come on. Have one bite and tell me it's not worth whatever hell Ron's going to give us tomorrow.' She put some cake on her fork and raised it to his lips, and he really had no choice but to eat it.
He chewed, swallowed, and licked his lips. 'Okay,' he said, sighing. 'I'm in.'
Ginny grinned and handed him a fork. 'I knew you'd see it my way.'
'I'm surprised there are leftovers, though. I mean, between you and your brothers …'
'Are you calling me fat?' she teased, pointing her fork at him.
'Never,' he said.
'Good,' she said, pushing a piece of cake around the plate with her fork. 'Because I'd have to kick your arse, Boy Who Lived or not.'
'Ah, they're still calling me that, then?'
Ginny shrugged and put some cake in her mouth. 'They call you a lot of things. Honestly, don't you read the Daily Prophet anymore? You're on the cover all the time.'
'I try not to,' he said honestly. 'Hermione always tries to work the articles into conversation, but I've got more important things to worry about than what Rita Skeeter and everyone else thinks of me.'
'You mean you actually have things to worry about?' she asked.
Harry shrugged. 'Well, I have to pick a career still. And I'm still living here, with all of you. And it's not as if I've got a girlfriend, or anything.'
'Oh, please,' she said. 'You can have just about any career you want, you can live anywhere you want, and you can have any girl you want. And you're only eighteen. What, exactly, do you worry about?'
'Dunno,' he said after a minute. 'I guess … just silly things. Nothing ever seemed all that important before, y'know, when I didn't think I'd live past seventh year. But now that the War is over, it's like I suddenly have to deal with all these things that normal people have to deal with.'
Ginny grinned. 'Harry Potter, have you gone and become a normal person?'
'I think I might have,' he said with a grudging smile. 'But enough about me. Let's talk about you.'
'Oh, yeah?' she said. 'I'm afraid there's not much to say.'
'Say anything,' he said. 'We haven't talked in ages.'
Ginny raised her eyebrows. 'Gee, I wonder why.'
Harry looked away from her as he chewed. The reason they hadn't talked was because he'd been in St Mungo's, unconscious, for the past month. He'd nearly died from exhaustion after the Final Battle, in which he'd finally defeated Voldemort. The world was still far from safe, what with all of the Death Eaters still roaming around, but there was no longer a general fear to go outside anymore. Things were slowly returning to the way they'd been before Voldemort.
'Well, regardless,' he said, 'I'm still interested. Have you given any thought to what you want to do after Hogwarts?'
Ginny made an indecisive noise. 'Mum wants me to be a Healer. I think I'd rather start my own business.'
'Like the twins' joke shop?'
'Maybe,' she said. 'I mean, not a joke shop. But something.' She shrugged. 'I'm getting ahead of myself, though. I still need to get through seventh year. It's going to be weird without you, Ron and Hermione there, you know.'
'Actually, I might be there,' he said mysteriously.
'Oh? Missed Hogwarts so much that you decided to come back and do seventh year again, did you?'
'Nah,' he said. 'McGonagall offered me a job.'
Ginny stopped chewing and looked at him seriously. 'Doing what?'
'Teaching,' he said. 'Defense Against the Dark Arts.'
Ginny squealed. 'You have to do it!' she cried. 'You were brilliant when you taught the DA. And it would give you an extra year to figure out what you want to do with yourself.' She gasped. 'Oh, you could be my teacher! You'd give me top marks, right?'
'Depends,' he said. 'What're you going to do for me?'
Ginny opened her mouth to speak and then shut it firmly, her cheeks blooming with colour. He hadn't meant it that way, but, well, that was certainly an interesting idea.
He couldn't deny that his feelings for Ginny were different than his feelings for Hermione. And it wasn't just because Ron would kill Harry if he ever tried anything with their best friend. Really, wouldn't Ron kill Harry if he ever tried anything with Ginny, too? But anyone who didn't notice Ginny's porcelain skin and gorgeous hair and amazing curves would have to be blind.
A large part of why Harry had begun hanging around Ginny had to do with the fact that Ron and Hermione had finally gotten together during their seventh year. Harry understood that they needed their "alone time" sometimes, and that often meant that he was without anyone to spend time with. Ginny had been there, and as he soon discovered, she was far from the shy, vulnerable girl she'd been when he first met her. She was bold and often spoke her mind, but was also there to listen when Harry wanted to complain about his upcoming NEWTS, or girls, or (most importantly) Voldemort.
Soon, he'd begun to seek Ginny out, even when Ron and Hermione were available for conversations and chess games and homework help.
He'd nearly asked her to Hogsmeade once, actually. But, thankfully, he'd overheard a conversation in the Common Room just before and found out that she'd already agreed to go with Dean. He'd been upset – hadn't Ginny gotten over Dean the year before? – but decided that it was probably for the best. She was long since over her schoolgirl crush on him. Even Hermione had said so.
Of course, that didn't mean he wasn't allowed to think about her. And think about her he did. Slowly but surely, Harry Potter had become slightly obsessed with Ginny Weasley. His eyes would scan the crowd for her. His heart would skip three beats every time she smiled or laughed or flipped her hair over her shoulder. And his stomach lurched every time he saw her flirting with another bloke.
Ginny was not, by any means, a slag. But, like most seventeen year old girls, she clearly enjoyed the attention blokes always gave her. She was too bloody beautiful for her own good, and Harry was starting to understand why her brothers were always so protective of her.
And he hated to admit it, but one of the main reasons he was considering taking the post at Hogwarts was so he'd be able to keep an eye on her. One of the downfalls, of course, would be that he would know everything that took place. With none of her brothers there to keep tabs on her, what would she do? Would he catch her snogging some bloke in a deserted corridor after curfew? And, if he did, would he have to deduct House points and give her a detention?
'You know what we should play?' said Ginny after a moment of silence. 'Truth.'
'Isn't that a Muggle game?' asked Harry.
She nodded. 'Yeah, it is. Hermione and I play it sometimes. It comes in bloody handy when I want dirt on her and Ron.'
He grinned. 'Fine,' he said. 'What're the restrictions?'
Ginny thought for a moment. 'No restrictions,' she said. 'You can ask me anything and I can ask you anything.'
'And we have to answer?' he asked.
'Yes. Truthfully.' She took another bite of the cake. 'Unless,' she said, raising her eyebrows in a challenging sort of way, 'you're scared.'
'Course not,' he said. 'Just wanted to clarify incase you tried to back out of answering.'
'Me? I never back out of anything,' she said. 'Besides, you already know everything. I'm not the git who keeps everything inside.'
'We'll see about that.'
'Fine. You can go first, then.'
Harry opened his mouth, but suddenly realized that he had no idea what he wanted to ask her. He'd never played this game before. Although she'd said there were no restrictions, he didn't want to immediately start off with incredibly personal questions. He had to remember that she'd be asking him questions, as well. He didn't want to embarrass himself, or anything.
'Um,' he said. 'What's your favourite colour?'
Ginny smirked. 'Wow, that's the best you've got?' she said. 'Okay. Um …' She bit her lip and looked at him for a moment. 'Green,' she said. 'Definitely green.'
Part of him hoped that she would ask him what his favourite colour was. But, of course, he knew that would never happen. It just wasn't Ginny's style. She was going for the personal questions straightaway.
'If you had to kiss one of my brothers, which would you pick?' she asked.
He stared at her. 'You're kidding.'
'I'm not,' she said, grinning. 'Come on. You've got to answer.'
He sighed. 'Um … okay, well, I would only ever think about doing that if someone was holding a gun to my head,' he said, and then nearly laughed at the puzzled look on her face when he said "gun". 'I'd have to say … either Bill or Charlie.'
'What?' she asked. 'I figured you would've picked Ron.'
'No way!' he said. 'Definitely Bill or Charlie. I hardly ever see them. I see Ron everyday. That would be awful.'
Ginny shook her head. 'Boys are so strange,' she muttered.
'Oh, so I suppose you'd rather kiss Hermione than any of the other girls in Gryffindor?'
'Actually,' she said, 'yes. It's different for girls, I guess. If I had to, I'd rather it be a close friend than someone I dislike.'
'I guess,' he said. 'Right. Next question –'
'Hold it,' Ginny said. 'It's my turn.'
'You just went!'
'Yeah,' she said. 'And then you asked me if I'd rather kiss Hermione. That counts as your turn.'
'Does not,' he said.
'Does too,' she insisted, sticking her tongue out at him. And it shouldn't have affected him the way it did …
'Fine,' he said roughly, trying to tear his eyes off of her perfect mouth, the one that was causing a thousand and one naughty images to flare up in his mind. 'Ask me something, then.'
'Hmm,' she said, looking at him thoughtfully. 'Oh, I've got a good one. Have you ever wanted Hermione?'
'Wanted?' he asked. 'As in –'
'Yeah,' she said.
'No,' he said instantly.
'Ah, come on,' she said. 'This is me. I won't tell anyone.'
'I'm serious,' he said. 'I mean, yeah, I've noticed over the years that she's, um, pretty … and such. But I've never wanted her. I've never even thought about that, really. Probably because Ron would've killed me, and all.'
'So who do you want, then?' she asked.
He swallowed thickly.
'I – um – wait,' he said. 'I think it's my turn to ask a question.'
Ginny frowned. 'Fine.'
'And since I can already sense that you're going to prod about my love life, I'm going to ask about yours,' he declared. 'What was the real reason for breaking up with Dean?'
Ginny rolled her eyes. 'Which time?' she asked.
'Fine. If you must know … the first time was because … well, you see, Dean was sixteen. You're a bloke, so you must know how sixteen-year-olds can be. Only one thing on the brain. And I was fifteen, and I wasn't – I wasn't ready to …' she trailed off and blushed. 'Whatever. So I dumped him, and made up a stupid excuse, because I knew that Ron would've killed Dean if he found out.'
Harry gritted his teeth. 'He didn't force you to –'
'No!' she cried, and then winced when her voice echoed through the kitchen. 'No. Of course not! I would've hexed him into oblivion.'
Harry grinned. 'True. Okay, and the second time.'
She dropped her gaze to the table. 'The second time … I don't even know why I went out with him. He asked me to Hogsmeade and I turned him down, but he said that he really, really liked me and he didn't want to do anything that I didn't want to. And … it wasn't as if anyone else was asking me,' she said in a bitter tone. 'So I said yes, and then we went out for a bit. After a while, I realized that he wasn't what I wanted. I mean, I'd always known what I wanted, and I knew that it wasn't him. But I guess I figured that maybe I could trick myself into wanting something else, instead. It didn't happen, so I had no choice but to ditch him.'
There was a heavy silence and Harry wanted to break it, but he didn't know what to say. He didn't think it would go over well if he asked her what she really wanted. Especially since it was her turn to ask a question, and it would get her thinking back to what she'd tried to ask him a moment ago.
'My turn,' said Ginny. 'Hmm … all right, I've got it. Who do you think is the prettiest girl in Hogwarts?'
'Huh?' he asked.
'Don't avoid the question,' she said. 'There are loads of girls. And it can be anyone that we know … she doesn't have to be from your year.'
Harry shrugged. 'I – well. There were a lot of pretty girls,' he said.
'It should be easy, then. Give me a name.'
He didn't see a way out. 'Fine. The prettiest girl would have you be … well, you.'
She rolled her eyes. 'Ha! You're just hilarious,' she said dryly. 'Really, I'm not going to be offended. Don't think I asked because I was fishing for the compliment. You can say Cho.'
Cho? He hadn't even considered her. Cho was beautiful, yes, but she wasn't anything like Ginny. Cho's personality made her ugly. Harry couldn't talk to her about anything but Cedric Diggory. He could say anything to Ginny.
'I'm serious,' he said. Ginny smiled weakly and it bothered him. Why didn't she believe him? She had to know how beautiful she was – both inside and out. 'Look, we're answering truthfully – at least, that's what I've been doing – and I said you were the prettiest, because that's what I think. And it's what a ton of blokes think. Trust me, I know, because I'm the one who always has to hold Ron back when one of them says something. And that's a lot harder to do when I want to kick their arses as well. So, um, I guess it's my turn to ask a question.'
Ginny was blushing, but it was probably nothing compared to the colour of his own face. She smiled at him when he looked up and nodded. 'Go on, then. Ask.'
He wanted to ask her who she thought the most attractive bloke was, but he didn't think he really wanted to listen as she named off a whole bunch of people who weren't him.
'You know,' he said, 'this is harder than I thought.'
'You can ask me anything,' she offered. 'Just think of something.'
'Um … What's your biggest fear?'
He expected her to take a moment to think about it. After all, it wasn't an easy question to answer. There were a million things that she could be afraid of. She wasn't obvious, like Ron or Hermione. It just didn't seem like Ginny's biggest fear would be spiders or failing her NEWTs. He was rather surprised when she answered without hesitation.
'It already happened,' she said. 'Well, sort of.' Before he had the chance to ask her to continue, she did. 'I suppose my biggest fear has always been that you'd die. You know, from Voldemort. Or … just in general,' she added softly.
'Oh,' he said, and then it was too much, and he had to look down.
'Yeah,' she said. There was a moment of awkwardness before she said, 'Well, my turn.'
Harry was starting to think that this game wasn't doing anything but making it harder and harder for them to look at each other. He looked up just in time to see Ginny lean forward slightly, reaching for more cake, but also giving him a nice view down the front of her nightgown.
His mouth felt dry and he knew he was blatantly staring, but he couldn't look away. Fuck, she was so beautiful. And her skin looked so soft. Ginny suddenly leaned back, taking away the nice view she'd afforded him, and he finally managed to drag his eyes up to her face. Her eyes were wide but she was grinning, and Harry had to wonder if she'd done that on purpose.
'Did you just look down my top?' she asked, and oh, yes, she knew exactly what she'd been doing. Minx.
'No,' Harry said instantly.
'Harry,' she said, clearly enjoying this. 'That's my question, and you have to be honest with your answer.'
'I suppose I might've … glanced,' he said casually.
Ginny twirled her fork between her fingers. 'Right. Well. Now for my real question –'
'What?' said Harry. 'That was your real question.'
'No, it wasn't,' she said. 'Oh, come on. My question is really good.'
Harry sighed. It wasn't as though he had any amazing questions lined up for her, anyway. 'Fine.'
'Okay. When you were in St Mungo's, what was it like?'
'Er, I was in a coma,' he said.
'I know,' she said, waving her hand in the air. 'But … what's a coma like? Is it like a dream? Could you see things or hear things?'
Well, he didn't really remember much, but he did hear a few things. The Weasleys were there everyday, talking to him, and he could hear their voices from wherever his mind was. He wasn't all that sure if he'd imagined it, though. He heard things that were true – Mrs Weasley had telling him that Tonks and Lupin eloped after the Final Battle – but he also heard things that couldn't be true – Ginny crying, whispering in his ear that she loved him.
He wondered what would happen if he told her he'd heard it. Would she admit to it?
On the other hand, what if it hadn't really happened? She would start wondering why he was hallucinating that she was in love with him, and that would be more uncomfortable than anything he could currently imagine.
'I heard things,' he said vaguely. 'Voices, I mean. When people spoke to me, I could hear everything they said.'
'E-everything?' she asked.
He nodded. 'Everything.'
Something flashed across her face but it was gone before he could even figure out what it had been.
'That's … cool,' she said. She cleared her throat. 'You know, I don't think my stomach can take the rest of this cake. Do you want to just end the game and go up to bed?'
'Sure,' he said. 'But wait, let me ask one more question first.'
Ginny nodded. 'Make it a good one, then.'
Harry bit his lip and tried to think of something good – something that he didn't know about her. Everything they'd asked so far had mostly been silly or unimportant. 'Let's see … what's one thing that you've always wanted to do, but you doubt you ever will?'
Ginny gave him a strange look. 'I have to tell you?' she asked.
'Well, yeah,' he said. 'It's not like you can show me right now, can you?'
She set her fork down. 'Oh, I think I can,' she said. She pushed her chair out and stood, and then she was in his lap, and he couldn't breathe, couldn't even begin to think about what was going to happen next.
What happened next was her leaning forward and pressing her lips to his, softly, so it was just the lightest touch. He wanted to kiss her back, to thread his hands in that gorgeous hair of hers, but she pulled away and stood up before he could even react.
'I – sorry. Goodnight,' she said, blushing nearly the same colour as her hair.
She turned to go upstairs but he caught her wrist and stood. Trying to summon some of that bloody Gryffindor courage he was supposed to have, he kissed her again, for real, and it was so amazing that he couldn't believe he hadn't done it sooner. He pushed her so her bum was on the table and they were nearly level, and she pulled him to her, so that he was standing between her thighs.
'What're you doing?' she asked, but didn't bother pulling away.
'Kissing you,' he said against her mouth.
She pulled away from him then, looking confused. 'But why?'
'Because,' he said, and then moved to kiss her again.
'That isn't good enough,' she said, leaning away from him. 'Harry?'
She was really going to make him work for this, wasn't she?
Well, he could tell her, couldn't he? He'd never said it before – to anybody – but it wouldn't be all that hard, would it?
'Because I'm completely off my arse in love with you, and I have been for ages,' he confessed.
Ginny's jaw dropped. 'I – Harry –'
He kissed her again, and this time, she let him. It was nothing short of amazing, and all those times that he'd wondered what it would be like if he just grabbed her and kissed her were nothing in comparison to the real thing.
He felt one of her legs wrap around his and she sighed in his mouth. He was so caught up in their kiss that he didn't even hear the sounds of someone trudging down the stairs and straight into the kitchen.
Harry jumped back and they both turned to look at Ron with wide eyes.
'Ron!' said Harry.
Ginny panted, 'It – it's not what you think –'
'It's exactly what I think,' said Ron, looking at them both with disgust. 'You ate all of the cake!'