Eighteen: Connections

Harry slept extremely well that night, better than he could ever remember. There had been mornings at Hogwarts where he'd awakened and felt well-rested, but those were nothing compared to how he felt as the dawn crept into the window of his dormitory on this particular Sunday morning. Within a few moments of his consciousness returning, he was sitting up on the edge of his bed and sliding his glasses on, wondering where in the world he'd gotten so much energy. It wasn't a restless feeling, but more like a confidence that he was ready to meet the day and whatever it brought him.

Judging by others' reactions from the night before, it seemed the entire school knew that Harry Potter was now in a relationship with Ginny Weasley. Hermione had given them each a knowing look at the dinner table, and most of the student body at one time or another glanced in their direction as if to confirm what their friends were telling them. Even the Gryffindor chasers thought his now official attachment to Ginny was special news, though it was clear they thought it was cute more than anything else. They'd jokingly congratulated him on pulling his head out of his arse (which Ginny found highly amusing) and teased him gently until his entire face was flushed red with embarrassment. He was granted mercy after that, but Ron had been surprisingly silent about it through the whole meal. Ginny was the one to notice it, but after he caught her line of attention Harry wondered what his best mate would have to say about the new developments. Rather mysteriously, Ron didn't say anything about it even when they were alone in going to bed.

Harry showered and dressed in comfortable robes while considering whether to wake Ron, but luckily the decision was made for him. The redhead stirred and groaned before waking to the noise of his roommates around him, since all three of the other boys were already up and about either talking or rummaging around for clothes.

"So you and Ginny, huh?" Ron asked, once he saw Harry looking at him. Maybe he had wanted to sleep on it before bringing it up.

Harry shrugged. "Yeah." There wasn't much else he could say in response.

"Don't you think she's a bit too young?"

Harry raised an eyebrow. He didn't think of Ginny as a year younger most of the time – she acted much like he did and even more mature at times, even if she did have a penchant for playing the innocent youngest sister to avoid getting in trouble. He knew that from her vast experience with pinning everything on the twins as a little girl.

"No, why?"

Ron sighed and didn't respond as Harry wondered what had inspired the question. Once the redhead had gotten dressed and they were ready to walk down to the common room together, he brought up the subject again.

"Ginny might as well be in our year, you know."

They began descending the stairs as Ron gave him a funny look. "What do you mean?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't really think about how old she is. It's not like she's a little kid."

"She's still too young to be seeing a boy, and if it was anyone but you, I'd hex him."

Harry almost missed a step. Was it really wrong of him to ask Ginny to be his girlfriend? It had felt so right at the moment, and in all of the day before, but Ron didn't seem to think that she should have a boyfriend. Harry knew the main topic of her conversations with her friends was anything to do with boys, but how many girls her age actually did anything about it? He'd have to talk to Ginny, even if he already knew what she would say.

Ginny met him in the common room feeling rather bouncy, though he could tell that she was a little worried about his mood. She greeted him with a hug which he returned, but the whole time he couldn't help but think about what Ron said.

What's bothering you?

Harry looked down into her eyes as his arms slid away from her. It's nothing important.

She refused to let contact drop entirely by grasping his hands and returning his gaze. If it's bothering you it's important to me. Now out with it.

Harry tore his eyes away from hers and noticed Hermione looking at them with a small smile and Ron trying to look everywhere but at them. Later, when we have time.

I won't forget, Ginny warned. Harry gave her the mental equivalent of a nod as they turned to Ron and Hermione and the four of them walked down to breakfast together. The meal was good and Harry noticed that Ginny was a lot more forward than he expected with their relationship. He'd thought that nothing in particular would change since he'd already softened and allowed her to lay against him and hold his hand occasionally, but it was nothing compared to her affection now. He wasn't complaining, but the constant love and warmth she gave him was a little overwhelming at times. There were more than a few instances where she stole food from his plate even though the huge platters of were full right in front of her – she'd never done that before.

After breakfast, they walked back up to the common room hand-in-hand while Ginny felt on top of the world. Harry wasn't quite sure how to describe her feelings even to himself, but he knew she'd never been quite as happy as she was this morning in her entire life. He tried searching for a memory that made her as happy as she was now and utterly failed. Harry only had one that compared, and that was finding out he was a wizard.

Since it was Sunday, Harry had to pull out his books and pretend like he was working to satisfy Hermione, but he couldn't summon the motivation to do much of anything. He had the entire day after all, and not really that much to do. Hermione set about spreading her work on the floor in front of the couch that Ginny dragged Harry to while Ron found a nearby arm chair to drag over.

So what's bothering you? Ginny asked the moment she found her place leaning against Harry's chest and looking up at him.

Just something Ron said, he replied. He felt her irritation and attempted to head it off. It's not really bothering me that much anyway.

He said something about me, didn't he?

Harry didn't even bother denying it. He's right though, you are really young.

Ginny rolled her eyes and reached over to pull his arm around her. He's just being protective. I know you're not going to hurt me.

Harry hesitated. Not on purpose.

How can you hurt me by accident?

He wished he hadn't even brought it up. Someone is always trying to kill me.

Ginny sighed softly. I thought you learned your lesson about that.

It's different when it's you that gets hurt.

She didn't respond for a few minutes, long enough for Harry to open his Arithmancy text and pretend to be reading it. He noticed both Hermione and Ron stealing glances at them when they thought he wasn't watching, but those didn't matter. The entire school was staring and whispering about them last night and he hadn't backed down.

I'm not afraid of that. I'm afraid of what might happen if we don't make the most of every minute. And besides, I bet he wouldn't be too young if he found a pretty girl he wanted to snog.

Even Harry had to agree with that and squeezed her gently to show his acknowledgement as he actually did begin to concentrate on reading his Arithmancy book. After a few minutes, Ginny got up to grab her own homework, which was getting rather tedious doing essays for things she already completely understood, but somehow she forced her way through the material. Of course, it helped (her, at least) that Harry had to share in her boredom since he could feel every bit of it.

A little before lunchtime Harry spotted the Weasley twins making their way toward him with unusually serious expressions on their faces. Ginny eyed them as well with a warning gaze, but they ignored her and spoke directly to Harry instead.

"Could we have a moment of your time, Mr. Potter?"

"It shouldn't take long."

Harry raised an eyebrow at Ginny and then nodded, though he (and Ginny) already knew what they were up to. Ginny sat up to let him free and Harry allowed the twins to lead him to a private corner of the common room. They sat at an empty table and Harry chose the seat across from them; at least he had a small barrier to protect him.

"We saw this coming a while back," Fred began, unusually serious.

"Despite your protests, we knew your intentions toward our lovely sister were not of the brotherly sort," George continued. Harry stared down at the table, remembering his protests that he wasn't interested in Ginny like that. He hadn't been then, or at least, he hadn't admitted it to himself.

"But, since we think you're such an upstanding character," Fred grinned.

"We're going to take it easy on you."

"Long story short, if you hurt her –"

"– we'll hurt you."

"Got it?" Fred asked with a winning smile.

"You don't have to worry about that," Harry said quietly. Indeed, if he hurt Ginny whatever the twins would do to him he would deserve.

"Good. We'll be seeing you then." George said as they both rose. Harry glanced up at them and suddenly had an insight. They were older boys, and certainly popular...maybe they could help him.

"Er, George?"

Both twins turned their heads. "Yes?" Fred asked. Harry smiled.

"You're Fred."

The twins' jaws dropped in unison, giving a very comical impression. They looked at each other before looking back at Harry with extremely confused expressions. "How did you know?"

"Trade secret," Harry responded immediately. The twins held their looks of shock for a moment and then laughed. Harry felt rather proud of himself for making the twins laugh like that. Usually it was them providing the humor and entertainment for everyone else.

"Well then, what can I do for you Harry?" George asked. Harry glanced at Fred a little uncomfortably.

"Can I have a word alone?"

That seemed to confuse the twins even more, but Fred wordlessly slipped off as George sat back down. He looked very uncomfortable without the presence of his other half, something Harry (interestingly enough) could relate to quite well.

"I...er...just wanted to ask you what I'm supposed to do as a...a boyfriend." Harry had to force the word out almost as if it was stuck in his throat, and then he began speaking very fast. "Because you know, girls like you, and you were the one who stuck up for me."

George blinked. "...stuck up for you?"

Harry looked down at the floor. "To Fred...you know. In the Hospital Wing."

A look of comprehension crossed George's face, though it wasn't without a slight bitterness. "We're over that. But if you're talking about Ginny, just be yourself." He paused and glanced over at his sister, who was eyeing the two of them curiously. "A girl doesn't go out with a bloke if she doesn't like him, so the worst thing you can do is change. Don't force it, but do pay attention when she tells you what she wants. Believe me, you'll have your hands full just doing that."

Harry nodded and smiled. "Thanks...that helps a lot."

"Don't mention it," George said with a furtive look around. "Really."

Harry grinned. "I won't. You can tell Fred if he asks about it...I just wasn't sure how he would respond."

George gave Harry a funny look. "Are you sure you won't tell how you can tell us apart?"

That was one thing that neither Harry nor Ginny wanted to share – it was kind of special to be the only ones who could tell the difference. "You're different people, aren't you?"

The redhead raised his eyebrows. "I suppose we are."

Harry stood and looked over at George, who rose with him. "Thanks again."

"Anytime, mate."

The two parted and Harry went back over to Ginny as she gave him a questioning look. What was that about?

You weren't listening?

She shook her head. I didn't want to.

That was actually a huge relief since he hadn't really thought about it before talking to George. Why not?

She sat up to give him his spot back on the couch. I would much rather you tell me than me have to eavesdrop.

Harry smiled and sat next to her, this time pulling her against him with an arm, much to her pleasure. It was just a brotherly warning not to hurt you, and if I do, I'll find myself tied to the top of a Quidditch hoop with no wand. Harry wished he'd come up with that himself, but Wood had made that threat in the locker room against anyone who was late to practice.

So what was the thing with George?

Harry shifted uncomfortably. Nothing, I just wanted to ask him something. A boy thing. He got the impression that Ginny knew exactly what he was talking about because her curiosity faded and she didn't pursue the question further. Instead, they went back to reading and simply enjoying each other's presence while holding light conversation with Ron and trying not to bother Hermione, who looked as though she would fall apart if she worked any harder.


Sunday floated into Monday as both Harry and Ginny began to grow accustomed to the new feelings within themselves. At first, it was a little weird having so much affection flowing from both ends of the bond, but after a while they began to separate it and understand that they were only feeling each other, even though the feelings were constant. Harry wasn't quite sure how to respond to having such affection constantly flowing into him, but he followed George's advice and didn't try to change anything while showing Ginny that he liked it. The result was the occasional hug or squeeze of the hand, but it seemed to make her happy.

In fact, he was just giving her one of the aforementioned squeezes of the hand at breakfast on that Monday when his section of the Gryffindor table slowly quieted and he felt a rather cold and sneering presence behind him. He didn't have to turn to know who it was; trust Malfoy to pick Valentine's Day to show his pointed face.

"Congratulations on your new relationship, Potter." Malfoy clapped slowly, mockingly. "And congratulations to Weasley on securing her financial future. It's nice to see that some of the lower classes know what's important."

Harry closed his eyes and outwardly ignored Malfoy. Inside, a torrent of rage was already building and he was sure Ginny could feel it as well.

"Not going to defend your girlfriend?" Malfoy seemed slightly surprised. "How un-Gryffindor of you. I suppose that's what happens after you get what you want out of her."

It was lucky that Ginny had his wand hand wrapped up tightly, otherwise he would already have had it out. He squeezed harder, venting some of the frustration that was building up inside of him. He glanced up at the staff table where a few of the teachers, including Snape, McGonagall, and Dumbledore, seemed to have taken an interest in Harry's predicament. Lupin was nowhere to be found.

"Shove off, Malfoy," Ron said angrily, his ears burning red.

"Stuff it, Weasley," Malfoy drawled. "I don't recall asking for your opinion."

Harry slowly turned toward Malfoy and glared as Ginny held his hand firmly in place. It was clear she didn't want him getting detention or worse, but he couldn't just let Malfoy run his mouth. "I didn't ask for yours either."

Draco turned slightly pink and apparently couldn't find a suitable response, so he stalked off and rejoined his friends at the Slytherin table. Harry was about to turn back from glaring at Malfoy when he felt a very much taller and imposing shadow pass over him. He looked up to see McGonagall looking down at him with expressionlessly.

"Well handled, Mr. Potter," she said before moving off toward one of the far entrances to the Great Hall. Harry looked after her in a bit of confusion, though he had to admit restraining from hexing Malfoy hadn't been easy. If Ginny hadn't been there, he might have wound up with a far worse detention than sitting in Dumbledore's office.

"What was that about?" Hermione asked as Harry returned to his food.

"I don't know," Harry shrugged.

She's right though Harry, Ginny said as Hermione gave him a look that showed every bit of disbelief. I'm proud of you.

She was, but Harry couldn't understand why. All he'd done was follow the rules and not put Malfoy in the hospital wing. Even if he had wanted nothing more, it still wasn't right to attack him.

Happy Valentine's Day, Harry said. He put an undercurrent of affection under his words and made sure to be taking a bite of sausage to cover their mental conversation, which was a good thing because she suddenly smiled and a warm shiver ran down her spine.

You too, my amazing boyfriend. Harry shivered at the word, but that only seemed to amuse Ginny even more. It was one thing to feel like her romantic partner on the inside, but it was something completely different to have her acknowledge it in words and actions. He supposed she understood his uncertainty and that's why his reactions amused her rather than annoyed her, but that didn't change the fact that he felt it.

So how long is it before I can hear that without feeling all funny?

Ginny laid against him after taking the last bite of her breakfast. Hopefully never.

Harry silently groaned for her amusement and then set his own fork down. "How much longer do we have until classes?"

Hermione looked down at her watch. "We should probably go now. It won't hurt to be a little early."

The four of them stood and walked toward the exit. Harry could feel Ginny's disappointment at having to separate, but Hogwarts wasn't about to halt classes for Valentine's Day. Harry turned toward her and gave her a shy smile. "Happy Valentine's Day."

She smiled and hugged him. "You too Harry. I'll see you after classes?"

He nodded as she headed off in the other direction before turning back to Ron and Hermione, who were pretending to be very interested in one of the tapestries hanging in the corridor. He was about to silently thank them for turning the other way when Ron spoiled it.

"I don't think I'll ever have a girl on Valentine's Day. Too mushy."

Harry didn't think there was any point in responding since Ron obviously didn't get the feeling of being attracted to someone like he was to Ginny. Unfortunately, Hermione couldn't resist the argument.

"Did you ever consider that you might want to be like that with a girl, Ron?"

The redhead's nose wrinkled. "Why would I want to do that?"

"Because you care for her?" Harry thought Hermione was expecting entirely too much out of Ron, but he didn't want to get in the middle. "It's not about you, it's about making the other person feel cared about."

Ron shrugged as they stepped into their Arithmancy classroom. "Even if I tried, who would believe me?"

Harry's eyes darted to his best mate in shock, but Professor Vector hushed the class before either he or Hermione could respond. Hermione looked as though she was considering whispering to Ron through the lecture anyway, but Harry was glad she didn't because he needed to pay attention as much as possible. Arithmancy was hard enough without his two best friends distracting him.

The class wasn't exactly interesting even though he needed to pay attention, but it was hard with Ron's words echoing around in the back of his mind. He'd never heard his best mate say something like that, but the strangest thing was Hermione seemed to have a response prepared for him. Maybe she was just faster at that sort of thing; Harry had been rather speechless, but Hermione used the first few minutes of class to scribble madly on a spare bit of parchment before handing it to Ron. Everyone knew Ron wasn't a big fan of himself, but he usually kept his self-degradation quiet and personal so Harry usually didn't have to deal with it. Though now that he thought about it, Harry realized that Ron and Hermione were spending a lot more time together, and more specifically, alone. Maybe there was something going on there that he didn't understand. He'd have to ask Ginny later.

Speaking of Ginny, she was doing exceptionally well in Transfiguration. Harry usually tried to pay as much attention to Professor Vector as he could, but with his mind already wandering he was drawn to Ginny and her feelings of pleasant surprise. The second years were turning mice into door stops, a transfiguration Ginny made on her first attempt without much effort. After giving the redhead a look of surprise, McGonagall had been very pleased and awarded Gryffindor ten points. Unfortunately, after quick conversation, Harry learned that she didn't know how she did it, just that the spell had seemed exceptionally easy.

The issue was put aside as Harry headed to his own Transfiguration class, which consisted mostly of lecture material and very little practical. This allowed him to keep his mind with Ginny, which after a while she felt again and gave him an inward smile as Flitwick passed around small beach balls to practice Engorgement Charms on. Harry was just tuning back into Professor McGonagall when he felt a rather large shock from Ginny. He closed his eyes and looked through Ginny's, only to find most of her vision was obscured by a massive rainbow colored beach ball that took up half of her charms classroom. It was all he could do not to burst out laughing at the diminutive Flitwick nearly pinned under the massive sphere; instead, he had to hide his rather large grin behind his hand.

"Mr. Potter?"

Harry snapped his eyes open and had to deal with a moment of disorientation while he withdrew from Ginny's senses. "Yes, Professor?"

"Would you care to share with all of us what is so funny?" Her tone didn't sound like as though she found anything even remotely funny about the situation, and neither did Harry after hearing it.

"No, Professor. Sorry."

McGonagall pursed her lips. "Do try to pay more attention in class."

After a dirty look from Hermione, Harry focused back on McGonagall and tried to put Ginny to the side, but he couldn't quite keep his amusement at her situation from distracting him. Flitwick shrunk the beach ball and asked who had cast the charm, at which half the class pointed in Ginny's direction. She earned another five points for her very well executed Engorgement Charm, but she didn't try it again for the entire class.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione met Ginny on their way to lunch. Harry could tell that Ginny was a little on edge, so he decided not to ask her about her classes until she had the chance to get some food in her stomach. That turned out to be a wise idea since her nerves were considerably calmer halfway through her sandwich and she didn't have the ravenous feeling making her irritated.

He had just decided to ask her about her classes when a huge black owl swooped into the Great Hall. Mail at lunch wasn't unusual at Hogwarts, and especially on Valentine's Day where a few owls were used to deliver cards to many of the students' significant others, but Harry had never seen an owl quite like the one that dove toward him. It was rather alarming when he realized that the letter in its talons was for him, though thankfully the large black bird flew off and didn't return. Harry didn't recognize the writing on the outside of the parchment so rather than tuck it into his pocket, he ripped through the seal and unrolled it.


I thought I'd write to let you know that I'm on top of things and you shouldn't have to worry about our rat problem for a while. It seems they've all skipped town and don't have plans to come back any time soon. Not exactly what we expected, but then again, they're tricky little buggers.

It'll probably be a while in between letters since I'm not going to be close by, but I'll try to write as much as I can. I'm sorry if this took a while to reach you – I haven't had the time or the means to write much of anything since Christmas came along. If and when you write back, just tell your owl it's for me and she'll know where to go. She's a smart one, I don't know if I told you that. She's actually the reason I knew you were at The Burrow – tell Hermione I'm sorry about stealing her letter.

I'll keep this short since I have other things to be watching, but be sure to write if anything happens. Stay safe.


Harry wanted desperately to read the letter again but with stares already coming toward him, he didn't want to risk anyone seeing anything they shouldn't. The letter was so vague that no one could make out what it was, but he still rolled it up and stuck it in his pocket for later examination.

Puts a new spin on dog ate the homework, doesn't it? Ginny asked, amused. Harry grinned, though it drew curious looks from Ron and Hermione.

"Our dog says sorry for eating your letter before Christmas," Harry said, looking at Hermione. It took her a few moments before comprehension dawned, at which point she turned to Ron.

"Oh Ron, I'm sorry for accusing you of stealing." Judging from the redhead's expression, he hadn't a clue what she was talking about. Harry laughed quietly and then glanced at Alicia, who was watching the whole exchange with an amused smile.

"You all are absolutely barmy, you know that right?"

This time Ginny laughed along with Harry as Ron and Hermione looked over with confused expressions. It was kind of amusing to think of what their conversation sounded like to someone who didn't know anything about Sirius.

Harry was able to put the letter out of his mind after lunch, which was a good thing because the third-year Gryffindors had Care of Dangerous – er – Magical Creatures. As much as he wanted to be able to, he couldn't pay attention to both his class and Ginny's, so he wound up giving her the mental equivalent of an embrace and then focused in on what Hagrid was saying.

He didn't wind up seeing her until just before dinner that night, which had more to do with being in separate years rather than lack of desire. However, even throughout dinner (while she held his hand), he felt her paying more than the usual amount of attention to Ron and Hermione. It felt like she was looking for something and the closer they got to the end of dinner, the more confused she got. He knew better than to ask about it while they weren't alone, but it still felt a little odd not to have more attention than he knew what to do with.

The four made their way back up to the common room after dinner and Harry immediately pulled Ginny over to a love seat by the fire and sat down, indicating clearly that she was to sit on his lap. She quirked an eyebrow but followed his non-verbal instruction, a smile working its way across her face.

"Quite romantic for Harry Potter."

Harry glanced around the room, wondering who would overhear them. "I just want to talk to my girlfriend, because, you know, it's Valentine's Day." He got the reaction he wanted – a warm shiver worked its way through their bond.

"You're just saying that because you know how it makes me feel."

He smiled and nodded. "Isn't that what boyfriends are supposed to do?"

Ginny wrinkled her nose. "Don't ask me, I'm a girl. I don't understand boys."

Harry rolled his eyes and laid his head back against the back of the chair. "You understand me pretty well."

She turned her head toward him with a mischievous smile. "Like how I know you didn't bring me over here to be romantic and sweet?"

Harry turned a little pink, but was determined not to back down. "Of course I did."

Ginny laughed and squeezed one of his hands with her own. "You have something you want to talk about."

Harry caught her gaze and stared into her eyes defiantly. It took him a moment to remember what he was going to say. "Just because I want to talk about something doesn't mean it can't be romantic."

She shook her head and then planted her forehead against his chest. "Harry, it takes effort for you to even say romantic."

That was true and he didn't have a counter-argument ready for that. He'd just started thinking how he should probably ask George what Ginny wanted in terms of romanticism when her open palm came down on his chest.

"Harry Potter, don't even think about being depressed on my Valentine's Day."

Harry blinked. "Your Valentine's Day?"

She nodded sagely. "Valentine's Day is all about girls, you know."

Was it? He didn't know, nor ever had the chance to find out. "Well, er, I'm sorry?"

Ginny groaned and for the longest time, didn't reply. Harry felt a strange mix of happiness, comfort, and slight regret, but he hadn't a clue what it all meant. Sometimes he wished he was as good as Ginny at figuring out people.

"So what did you want to talk about?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably. He didn't particularly want to bring it up now that he was supposed to be doing something romantic for Ginny and he had no idea what she wanted. "Nothing, I just wanted to be with you."

She stared blankly at him. "Harry, I appreciate what you're doing, but you don't have to pretend to be romantic just for me. I know it's weird for you and I don't want you to feel like you have to do anything."

Harry furrowed his eyebrows and didn't try to control his confusion. "But you just said..."

She cut him off with a shake of the head. "I was just teasing you. I don't need you to be romantic and show me how much you care because I can feel it."

He closed his eyes and pulled off his glasses, both confused and slightly frustrated. He was at the point where he wanted to just give up on trying to figure out what Ginny wanted. George was right, it was more than he could handle just to figure that out. Instead of responding, he just laid back and pretended everything was perfectly fine and he didn't have the most confusing girl in the world in his lap and holding his hand. She laid against him and for the next half hour, neither of them said anything at all. Harry supposed that wasn't expressly a bad thing, but he wished he could think of something to say that would ease out the tension.

"Harry?" Ginny said after opening her eyes and shifting against him.


"You shouldn't worry so much about me. It just makes me feel bad because I know how hard you're trying."

Harry looked down at her, but all he could see was the top of her head. "What do you mean?"

She sighed. "I know you're really confused about what you're supposed to do to be a boyfriend and I want you to stop worrying about it. If there's something wrong I'll tell you or you'll be able to feel it. Worrying too much is just going to make us both depressed, like it is now."

For the first time, Harry noticed that her feelings were mirroring his. It must have been a slow change because he hadn't noticed her good mood slipping away. "I just want to give you what you want."

"You've already done that."

He squeezed her hand gently. "Promise to tell me if I do something wrong?"

"I promise. Now tell me what you wanted to talk about."

Harry gazed down at the top of her head. "It's really bugging you isn't it?"

She looked up at him and for the first time in a while, smiled. "Yes."

He couldn't help but get infected by her smile. "I was just wondering what was so interesting about Ron and Hermione at dinner. You couldn't keep your eyes off them."

Ginny giggled against his body which felt rather nice. "It's nothing, I'm just being a girl."

Harry gently prodded her side with a finger. "Then tell me what it's like being a girl."

Ginny raised an eyebrow. "Really? You'll sit here and listen to me whine and complain for hours about how much I hate being a girl sometimes?"

He rolled his eyes. "You know what I meant."

She gave him a playful look. "I'm not sure that I do."

Harry reached over and rested a hand on her side with a slightly mischievous grin. "Careful Weasley, I know where you're ticklish."

She cocked her head and unconsciously twisted her side away from his hand. "How do you know about that?"

His hand followed her side and kept a slightly firm grip. "Because Charlie used to do it to you all the time when you were younger."

Ginny studied him for a second and then groaned as comprehension dawned across her face. "Of course you would know that. Cheater."

Harry squeezed her side gently and caused a smile to flash across her face like lightning. He knew from Ginny's memories, which he could now remember without having to dream them first, that she was so sensitive right above her hips that he could cause her to squirm even though her robes. She turned a rather dangerous look on him, though she couldn't keep the smile off her face.

"You're asking for it."

He just smiled at her and could tell she was getting equal amounts of frustration and enjoyment from his teasing. Finally, he wrapped his hand further around her and squeezed her gently in his arms. "So what's so interesting about Ron and Hermione?"

Ginny sighed contently. "I just noticed that they aren't acting any different toward each other today."

"Why would they?"

"Valentine's Day? Surely you haven't forgotten."

Harry furrowed his eyebrows. "No, but why would they act different?"

She groaned and Harry could tell she was a little frustrated. "Because they're supposed to be, well, involved. You know how much time they spend together and I thought they were finally working it out."

"So you think they're together?" Harry had never considered the idea and to be honest, he thought it was extremely unlikely. "Ron and Hermione?"

"It's written all over them," Ginny said firmly, but she didn't feel as confident as she sounded.

"They're just best friends," Harry countered. "Not everyone wants a girlfriend or a boyfriend."

"But they do!" Ginny insisted. "Maybe they just don't know it yet."

Harry sighed quietly and decided changing the subject was a good idea. She wasn't going to admit if she was wrong even if Ron and Hermione started bickering right at the moment, which wasn't so small of a possibility. "What happened in Charms?"

Ginny flushed a little pink. "I just lost control."

"Lost control? But you never do that."

"Yeah, well..."

Creases appeared on Harry's forehead as different explanations passed through his mind, each less likely than the last. "Did anything feel different to you?"

She hesitated. "Maybe?"

"That sounds a lot like yes."

She groaned and turned to bury her face into his robes. Harry could tell she didn't want to tell him and wished he'd been paying enough attention to know without having to ask. Eventually, she rubbed her face side to side against him before looking up. "It was a lot easier."

"Easier? Isn't that a good thing?"

"Not when it's not me that's doing it." When a wave of confusion washed over him, the side of her head hit his chest again. "It's you."

Harry felt more frustration than he might have expected. "Ginny, it's not me, it's you. You're the one casting the spell, I don't care where you get the power from. It's not mine, it's ours." He tone was a little more forceful that he'd meant and only his arms around Ginny kept her from pulling back entirely.

"I...I'm sorry." She sniffed. "I didn't mean that I don't want it to happen, it's just I know it wouldn't have if we weren't Soulmates."

Part of Harry's irritation deflated. "Well, we are and I know you wouldn't change that, so don't try and tell me that you don't want to share magical potential." He paused for a moment and waited for Ginny's gaze to meet his. "I don't want it to change."

Rather than responding, she squeezed him tight in an embrace and snuggled against him for the longest time. Eventually he felt her come back down to earth from a sort of dreamy state and turn her attention back to him.

"Thank you."

Harry smiled.


Thursday brought a relatively normal day for Harry, though he still tuned into Ginny's classes as much as possible in case another incident like the beach ball happened. She tried to feel annoyed at the attention, but Harry knew deep down she both loved it and thought her situation was a bit funny too. She had taken to casting her spells with as little power as possible and hoping for the best, which seemed to work most of the time. However, when she got to Transfiguration she was able to let go and manage the practical parts of the class with ease. The only downside was McGonagall remarked that her transfigurations were forced and not quite as stable as if she used exactly proper technique. Ginny had turned a little pink and said she would practice more.

To that end, later that night Harry sat with Ginny as she worked on transfiguring her textbook into a plank of wood and back again. Most of the time it didn't work because she held back and tried to force herself to do the magic properly, but every once in a while (to Harry's amusement) she got frustrated and blasted the book into wood. It didn't help that whenever Harry attempted it the wood turned out perfectly and never had stray words left on it from the pages.

About a half hour in, Harry noticed Hermione staring at them with a thoughtful expression and was so focused that she didn't even notice Harry staring back for a full minute. Once she did, she looked away for a moment before coming back to them, after which Harry raised a questioning eyebrow. Ginny pretended to still be practicing her transfiguration while looking through Harry's eyes and watching Hermione as she came over to sit next to them.

"I was just wondering why you're practicing a transfiguration you already know," Hermione explained sheepishly.

Ginny shrugged. "McGonagall said it wasn't perfect." She changed the piece of wood back into the book, which Hermione picked up and flipped through.

"It looks fine to me."

"She said that it was forced and I wasn't using the right technique." Ginny sighed. "And she's right."

Hermione looked over the book once again, but Harry doubted she could find any physical flaws in it. He hadn't been able to, at least. "What does that mean?"

"It means that not all of us are like you and do everything the proper way," Ginny replied irritably. She waved her wand curtly and the book transformed back into a perfect piece of wood. "There's nothing wrong with that transfiguration!"

Hermione looked between Ginny and Harry and Harry knew she wanted to say something about Ginny's wand motion, but thankfully she laid off. "If you aren't doing it properly, then why does it work?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Because apparently I can force it to do what I want it to, because I have lots of magical potential." Harry both heard and felt the sarcasm dripping off of the last phrase, but didn't comment on it.

"What do you mean? Have you had this problem before?"

Ginny sighed and waved her wand without incanting. Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried it again and Harry could feel even more frustration building. "Oh bugger it. Lumos!"

Muggleborn witches and wizards said that the lighting spell was a lot like a flashlight. If that was true, then what Ginny produced could only be described as a spotlight. Even Ginny seemed a little surprised at the huge cone of light that issued from her wand, made a huge, perfect circle on the opposite wall, and drew the attention of almost everyone in the common room. She immediately whispered the counterspell and it disappeared like nothing had happened.

"See what I mean? I can usually do it non-verbally."

Hermione blinked. "You can do non-verbal magic?"

"Apparently. I didn't even know until this week."

"What do you mean you didn't know?"

Harry could tell that all of the questions were really starting to annoy Ginny, so he stepped in. "She means she doesn't know what's going on, no matter how many times you ask her."

Ginny reached back with her non-wand arm and squeezed his hand in silent appreciation. Hermione turned a little pink in embarrassment, but she didn't back down. "Well, I have a theory if you want to hear it."

Harry wasn't sure Ginny would want to, but he was curious. "Go on."

"You're being more affectionate toward each other and I suppose that brings you together on an emotional level, which could be opening your connection more. If your souls really are merging, then another barrier could have been broken when you got together."

Harry blinked. "You came up with that just now?"

She shifted uncomfortably. "Not exactly."

"You've been watching us to see if anything changes, haven't you?" Ginny's tone was borderline accusatory, and judging by Hermione's non-answer, was very close to the mark.

"So I guess you haven't been the only one watching people," Harry teased with his eyes on Ginny. That earned him a silencing glare. Hermione looked between them questioningly, but thankfully didn't ask.

By then, people had started to wander over and ask about the lighting charm, so their conversation was ended and Ginny had to explain how and why she put a spotlight on the wall of the common room. No one, especially Fred and George, seemed to believe it was an accident even though Ginny told everyone the truth. Although all of the attention made Ginny annoyed, Harry was privately glad it was her instead of him.


Friday morning brought nothing of consequence as it passed into lunch, which was only odd in that Ginny sat with a bunch of her second year friends and Harry chose to sit with Ron and Hermione. Harry could tell she was rather split on the matter, since she didn't want to lose their friendship, but being with him and even Ron and Hermione was a lot more fun. No one could blame her though; her friends talked about makeup and politics of the second years while Harry, Ron, and Hermione managed to be at the center of any major events, such as the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, and the Sirius Black affair. Well, Ginny was at the center of the Chamber of Secrets as well, but that was hardly something to smile about.

However, at dinner Ginny made a point of sitting next to him and generally getting as close to him as possible. She was feeling extremely affectionate that evening, so much so that Harry pushed aside her empty plate and resigned to share one with her. Ron made a face at the entire thing, but Harry was much relieved when he didn't say anything. He did catch Hermione giving Ron a couple funny looks, so he might have not had a choice in the matter.

Harry was just about to ask Ginny if she was ready to go back up to the common room when Professor McGonagall swept to a stop behind them. Harry turned and gave his Transfiguration Professor an curious (and respectful) look.

"Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley." She nodded at each in turn. "The Headmaster would like to see both of you in his office as soon as you are finished."

Harry blinked. "Both of us?"

McGonagall's lips thinned. "Yes, both of you. I suggest you not keep him waiting." With that, she swept away and through the main entrance to the Great Hall. Harry turned back to find both Ron and Hermione with inquisitive looks, which did not combine well with his and Ginny's sense of trepidation.

"What would Professor Dumbledore want to see you about?" Hermione asked immediately. Harry shrugged; he hadn't a clue.

"I guess we better get going then," Ginny said, pulling gently on Harry's arm. It was clear she didn't want to talk about it, even though he could tell she was as confused as the rest of them. Harry stood with her and walked with Ron and Hermione until they had to split off toward the Headmaster's office. Harry wondered how they were supposed to get in, but that proved to be a non-issue when the gargoyle jumped aside and allowed them passage when they approached.

The inside of Dumbledore's office looked the same as Harry remembered it always being, and by extension Ginny remembered it being as well. He could tell it was an odd feeling for her to know intellectually that she hadn't been in the office more than once, but it was as familiar to her as it was to him. The only major difference Harry noticed was Fawkes's absence from his usual perch. Harry figured the phoenix must go out flying at times, but this was the first time he'd ever not seen the bird.

Dumbledore looked as serene and cheerful as ever, his eyes twinkling over those half-moon spectacles. It was a little disconcerting for the Headmaster to be so positive; it meant that things were going his way and judging by how manipulative the man was, Harry wondered if something was being hidden from him. The thought was unusual in that he wasn't sure where it had come from, other than Ginny tightened considerably upon laying eyes on Dumbledore. In a rather confusing moment, Harry realized he had no idea why she would react that way.

"Hello Professor," Harry greeted, causing the old man to look up from his desk.

"Hello Harry, Miss Weasley. Do have a seat." He waved his hand to the two cushy armchairs in front of his desk, which Harry and Ginny took without a word. Harry felt Ginny start to move toward his armchair, but she thought better of it and contented herself with holding his hand even after they were seated.

"Miss Weasley, have you shared with Harry what I explained to you about the nature of your wand?"

It took a few moments for both of them to figure out what he was talking about, but eventually Ginny nodded. At the beginning of the school year, Dumbledore had told Ginny that the phoenix that gave the tail feather for Ginny's wand core shared a special relationship with Fawkes, who had given the tail feathers for Harry's and Voldemort's wands. "Yes, Professor."

"May I ask if either of you have studied wand lore?"

Harry blinked. "Should we have?" Ginny didn't answer, but the blank expression on her face said it all.

"No, nothing of the sort. I wouldn't expect students of your age to be interested in that sort of thing. Suffice to say, it is an ancient and mysterious study and not even the most learned scholars in the field know even half of everything. Hence, what I am about to tell you is merely educated guess based on the things we know are true." Dumbledore paused to make sure both of them were following, and then continued.

"I suspect that a very powerful magical connection exists between you both. Both Professors Flitwick and McGonagall have reported to me a sudden flux of magical power in your spells, Miss Weasley, and I believe that it may be due to this magical connection you share with Mr. Potter."

Bit slow, isn't he? Ginny said, her tone biting. Harry wondered what made her so irritated; as far as he knew, the Headmaster had done nothing wrong. "What does that have to do with our wands?"

Dumbledore smiled. "You see, Harry, Fawkes and the phoenix that gave the feather that is now a part of Miss Weasley's wand were mated. Professor Hagrid probably has not covered phoenixes in your Care of Magical Creatures lessons, but two phoenixes becoming mates is a monumental event. Because phoenixes are reborn from their ashes, the bond formed between the two individuals lasts for all of eternity."

"I still don't see how that means anything, Professor," Ginny said. She was getting more and more impatient, despite Harry's attempts to internally soothe her irritation.

"You are aware that phoenixes are magical creatures, and thus, a bond between two magical creatures is not simply physical. Other magical creatures, such as dragons, share similar characteristics in their mating, but nothing as prominent as the phoenix. When two magical creatures mate, their presence is no longer two separate entities, but two souls that are combined by a flow of magic between them."

That caught their attention. "What's different about the phoenix?" Ginny asked softly.

Dumbledore smiled. "A very good question, and the heart of the matter. When two phoenixes mate, it is not enough for their souls to share a flow of magic between them. Over time, an entirely new presence is born, not within either of the phoenixes, but as a combination of the two. This third soul draws from the other two, and a delicate balance is struck." As he spoke, Dumbledore used his wand to draw two golden circles in the air. As he explained, the two circles started to become smaller as a third between them expanded, eventually becoming twice the size of the two outer circles. Harry couldn't help but be transfixed to the diagram before him, wondering if that was exactly what was happening between himself and Ginny.

"You think this is happening to us?" Ginny whispered. Harry couldn't find his voice enough to speak.

Dumbledore chuckled. "Not at all. I think a bonding of that nature would cause a great many things to happen between the two of you that are quite unexplainable and would be apparent from the very beginning."

It was all Harry could do not to turn to stare into Ginny's eyes. Finally they knew for a fact what was going on between them, though Dumbledore hadn't a clue. He might have been astonished that he could pull something over on the Headmaster like that, but he was too wrapped up in everything else. He gulped.

"What does it mean then?"

"Another good question, and the reason I asked you here tonight. I would like to find out the answer."

Harry blinked as the golden diagram was washed away. "How can we help?"

"I'm sure the experience is not something you would like to relive, but can you think back to Halloween and describe how you knew of the attack on Miss Weasley?"

Harry's insides froze and he could feel Ginny looked at him in slight horror. They were in a very dangerous situation and one wrong step could mean disaster. "Er..." He dropped off, unsure of what to say. "It was just a feeling. Like..." Like being hungry. "Like being hungry." Somehow, he was able to speak Ginny's thought without confusion passing over his face.

"Hungry?" Dumbledore questioned.

Slowly, Harry understood what Ginny was getting at. "It was like suddenly realizing you haven't eaten since breakfast and it's dinner time. It just hits you." He felt more like he was speaking for Ginny, but that was fine with him. She was the better liar anyway.

"And you knew Miss Weasley was going to be attacked? How did you know where to find her?"

Harry breathed an internal sigh of relief. He didn't have to lie for that one. "I came down to the feast and she was going to shower and come down after me, so I ran back up to Gryffindor Tower."

Dumbledore nodded and seemed to accept his explanation. "You didn't experience any visions or anything of the sort?"

"No, Professor," Harry said, probably a little too quickly because Dumbledore's eyebrow arched.

You were scared for me and my life flashed before your eyes.

"Well..." Harry sighed, realizing exactly how true Ginny's words were. "I saw Ginny's life flash before my eyes."

For a moment Dumbledore seemed content to leave the room in silence. "That is not uncommon in a life or death situation. Did you know Miss Weasley's life was in danger?"


"And how did you know this?"

Harry felt a flash of irritation that he quickly quelled. "I just knew."

Dumbledore ran a long-fingered hand over his beard, obviously thinking. Harry would have given a generous amount of Galleons to know what was going through the Headmaster's mind at that exact moment, but he was as unreadable as stone. "While we are speaking, would either of you mind if I cast a few simple spells to test the connection between you?"

Harry immediately wanted to say yes, but Ginny gave the mental equivalent of a sharp elbow to the ribs as she shook her head. "I don't." Harry shook his head as well, though he didn't think it was a good idea at all.

Don't look guilty.

"You were very protective of Miss Weasley after the incident. Was this a compulsory behavior?"

"Compulsory, sir?"

Dumbledore waved his wand and concentrated, but as far as Harry could tell, nothing was happening. "Was it an irresistible urge that she be defended, or was it a choice made freely?"

For the first time, Ginny answered. "Wouldn't that be the same thing, Professor?"

Dumbledore's wand froze as he glanced at Ginny. "It is possible that a magical connection would cause a certain instinctual protectiveness that would overrule logic. If that is the case, then it should be noted that when one of you is in danger, the other may react irrationally or violently. Such reactions are not healthy and should be addressed."

Harry didn't bother trying to stop Ginny from feeling angry, especially since he wasn't sure who was more incensed at the Headmaster at the moment. For all intents and purposes, they felt as though Dumbledore had just threatened them and tried to tell them that they couldn't take care of each other. Harry let his temper get the best of him.

"I'm sorry if I feel protective of someone who was inches from death, Professor." Even Harry was slightly surprised at how much contempt was loaded into the last word. He got a perverse sort of satisfaction from seeing shock pass over Dumbledore's face before it was retrained into passivity.

"I suppose we have an answer," Dumbledore said quietly. Harry refused to feel bad about proving the Headmaster right, but Ginny was right as well. He wanted to and chose to protect her, to feel responsible for her, to react violently. She squeezed his hand gently, trying to calm him, but with only slight success. Dumbledore seemed caught up in his spells, giving Harry a blessed few moments to talk to Ginny.

To think I was actually wondering if telling him would be a good idea. The bitterness in Harry's voice was evident.

I know how you feel, Ginny responded. I just wish he wasn't so controlling. I know he means well, but I don't want him to manipulate us too.

Harry sighed and leaned back into his chair, letting Ginny's hand drop in favor of rubbing his forehead. It's infuriating how much he just expects us to tell him and trust him. As if he knows anything about having a Soulmate.

He is a great wizard and there's a reason everyone respects him, Ginny replied. You don't think it's wrong not to trust him?

That question was getting easier and easier to answer. It had started with the attempts to probe Ginny's mind and spiraled down from there, his feelings most recently being reinforced by asking McGonagall to do his research for him. I don't think he cares about our feelings Ginny. He wants the best for everyone, but I think if we told him I would feel more like a chess piece than a person.

He didn't need Ginny to say anything to feel her agreement. He looked up to find Dumbledore watching them both with a curious expression, as if trying to figure out something. Harry hoped they hadn't been too obvious about their mental conversation.

"Unfortunately, the cursory spells I have been able to perform have indicated that no magical bond exists between you. Would you be willing to meet again in a month's time after I have had time to research more on the subject?"

"I will," Ginny said immediately, and shot a meaningful look at Harry.

"I guess."

"Excellent. Now, if there is nothing more, I'm sure Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger will want to question all about our visit." Dumbledore's beard twitched and Harry couldn't help but feel a little guilty for his anger. He had no doubts Dumbledore was a great man; just his methods were bothersome.

"Actually, Professor, I was wondering if I could speak with you. Alone."

Harry blinked at her even as Dumbledore replied, "Of course, Miss Weasley. I'm sure Mr. Potter wouldn't mind waiting outside for a few moments." Trapped, Harry had no choice but to nod curtly and leave the room, wondering what exactly Ginny wanted to talk about. He shut his mind down to give her the privacy she wanted, but it didn't settle his nerves even as he took a seat next to the gargoyle, who was not at all comforting in the stony silence.

A minute passed before Harry realized that Ginny was on the verge of screaming. He could feel righteous anger coursing through her and he tried to ignore it. When it didn't settle down for another fifteen seconds, he closed his eyes and prayed Ginny would forgive him.

"—how can you even THINK about sending him back there?!" Ginny's voice was as tight as a rope.

"As I have explained to Mr. Potter, he is safe with his relatives. I cannot guarantee that anywhere else."

"Because Voldemort is suddenly going to pop out of the ground to kill him?"

Harry felt a deep depression once he realized what Ginny was angry about. They hadn't talked much about his memories of his childhood, but it was clear that she hadn't let them go by unnoticed. Part of him felt warm and loved by her anger on his behalf, but it really wasn't worth fighting with Dumbledore over. She wouldn't win, and even if she did, where would he go? He supposed Mrs. Weasley would have him at The Burrow, but that seemed an awful lot like imposing.

"If you remember, not all of Lord Voldemort's servants are accounted for."

If anything, Ginny's anger darkened. "If Peter wants to come after Harry, let him. I'll kill him myself."

Harry heart froze. It wasn't the words that caused the ice to shoot through his veins, but the feeling behind them. It was the same feeling he'd felt when thinking about Sirius Black after Ginny had been attacked. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that Ginny would follow through with her threat.

"Be that as it may, Miss Weasley, it would be better if Mr. Pettigrew did not reach Harry at all. This decision is not up for debate and I urge you to examine your feelings on the matter. Perhaps it would be wise for you to take a step back and allow yourself to think objectively."

Harry heard a soft thunk and he had the horrible feeling that Ginny had deliberately taken a step forward and leaned against her hands on the Headmaster's desk. He chanced a brief look through Ginny's eyes and saw that she was staring straight into Dumbledore's soft blue orbs.

"I am thinking objectively, Professor." Her voice was ice cold. "I would do anything to protect Harry, and if there was any way I could keep him away from his aunt and uncle, I would. Voldemort isn't the only thing he needs to be protected from." She didn't even wait for a response. Harry slipped away from her hearing and vision as she turned on her heel and marched out of the Headmaster's door and looked almost surprised to find him waiting. She immediately stepped into him and wrapped his arms around his chest, her nose burrowing into his shoulder as soft sobs began escaping her lips. Harry returned her embrace and held her against him, unsure of what to do or say other than hold her and whisper that everything would be all right.

A/N: Thanks as always to Will for the awesome beta work, and also to all of you who review.

For those of you who are curious, I will be publishing a one-shot Interlude from Dumbledore's point of view that will provide some wise old man insight into Harry and Ginny's attitudes. It's difficult showing what everyone else thinks from Harry's PoV, so I think a suppliment is needed.

I hope to see ya on the review page! :P