A/N: Quick update! A starter for the whole Hogwarts year…should be fun. I know this is quite short, hopefully not too dull, but it was necessary for what comes after ;) Keep reading, keep reviewing.
Love to all.
Alongside the Weasley's first camping trip had passed the first of many years of disagreements for Harry and Ginny, which had resulted in their first ever compromise: Harry had made a promise to be more open in their relationship, and Ginny had promised never to hold back when she was upset by something again. On the day they were to return to Hogwarts, in light of these new pledges, Ginny had come up with a wonderful idea to share with one another the moments they each felt had been most important to them over the period of their relationship. Harry, sitting opposite her on the Hogwarts Express in the Heads carriage, tried his best to refrain from widening his eyes in horror at this abysmal proposal, but instead replied lightly;
"You go first, then?"
She beamed and then looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. Rain lapsed against the window pane as the train continued winding through woods and streams, hills and meadows, and Harry took full advantage of this moment of quiet to rack his brain for a suitable "important moment in their relationship" to share with Ginny. His thoughts immediately turned to their first kiss;
No…too obvious…she'll be expecting something more romantic…
Those days out by the lake, under the birch tree;
Obvious again, she'll think it's a cliché…
When I followed her name on the Marauders' map when I was looking for the Horcruxes;
Already told her about that…
As he was wondering in misery what had brought on this new feminine and romanticised Ginny, he let his thoughts stray to that very first afternoon…
A long walk in the grounds was indicated, during which – if they had time – they might discuss the match. Harry followed on after Ginny, and when they stood face to face in the corridor outside, he saw that she appeared to be in somewhat of a girlish daze. Both too nonplussed to form words, they walked side by side in bewildered silence until they arrived on the second floor. Then came the noise symphony of confusion from Ginny's end;
"Harry…errs…what—I mean, I don't…so…then, are we? What…? Are we… you know?" She finished her attempts to complete a sentence, came to a halt and looked at him imploringly.
He grinned down at her, and rather than answering directly, he asked, "Why did you break up with Dean?"
She flushed, before replying with a sudden irritated elevation in her voice; "Why did you just kiss me in the middle of the common room in front of the entire house?"
And now he felt heat prickle from the neck up, and a faint pink tinted his cheeks as he carefully examined his shoelaces.
"Well…because, I like you…a lot," he mumbled.
Another stunned silence met this proclamation, until Ginny said gently; "I broke up with Dean because I realised the only reason I was with him was to try and fool myself that I didn't still like you…"
He felt his stomach turn over with excitement as he looked up, but after a few moments of holding each other's gaze he cleared his throat and gestured onwards once again.
"So…" she continued nervously, "if I like you, and you like me…" she trailed off and cast a would-be subtle sideways glance at him as they arrived at the front doors.
"So…" he repeated; and as they came onto the first step, he pivoted to face her, cupped her face with his hands and kissed her once again. And in the second their lips touched, he was taken somewhere he'd never been before, somewhere far away from the real world, away from all the pain…and all that mattered was how sweet she tasted…
"So…" she whispered against his lips, "are we?"
He nodded, the corners of his mouth twitching, "yeah, we are."
He jumped, recalled to the here and now, to find Ginny eyeing him with mingled frustration and concern. "You didn't listen to a word I just said did you?"
He chuckled softly, "sorry."
"What were you thinking about?" she cocked an eyebrow.
"When we got together," he grinned.
She smiled at him coyly, got to her feet and crossed the carriage to settle on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist and laced their fingers together, eliciting a shaky laugh against her shoulder as she nestled herself against him more comfortably.
"What?" she frowned curiously.
"You were so tongue-tied that day," he smiled.
"Shut up, Harry," she laughed, "you weren't a lot better."
"Yeah I was," he insisted teasingly, "what were you saying before, anyway?"
"I was saying the moment I thought was most important was when I told my Mum about us. She was so over the moon, it made me think about when we get married, my family will be so happy…everything's going to be perfect," she sighed.
Harry's eyes, lulled to a close by the gentle murmuring of her voice, shot open just as the doors to their compartment were thrown open and he choked out;
But his hoarse voice was lost with the appearance of Ron and Hermione through the doorway, wearing ecstatic grins and gesturing fervently behind them. Neville and Luna were bringing up the rear, but where Ginny greeted them excitably Harry merely heard the word "married" run through his mind continuously, seemingly more threatening with each repetition, until he could no longer contain it;
He got to his feet so abruptly that Ginny toppled from his lap with a shriek to land in a painful heap on the floor. An equally painful silence ensued, which Luna helpfully broke with a classic statement of the obvious;
"There's a strange vibe in here," she said dreamily, "Funny. Are you alright Ginny?"
"I'm fine," she replied irritably, taking Hermione's outstretched hand and getting to her feet. She flashed Harry an accusatory look as the others took their seats, and then went to sit at the other end of the compartment in the hope of hiding her extremely flushed cheeks.
"So you and Neville are back too?" Ginny said shakily to Luna as a change of subject.
"Oh, yes! McGonagall visited our families in the holidays and asked if we wanted to come back to finish our NEWTs," Luna chirped happily, "and of course we both said we'd love to!"
Ginny, who had not particularly been looking for a full-scale account, and had only asked politely in attempts to establish small talk, did not bother making a reply but instead simply scowled into her lap, her anger with Harry nearing bursting point.
"Anyway," Hermione said into the quiet, "we need to tell you something--"
"Make sure it's nothing Harry will have to commit to," Ginny spoke up, "he might throw you on the floor, too."
Harry looked up from where his eyes had been set on the floor so quickly his neck cricked audibly, and scrutinised Ginny with as much menace as he could muster. How dare she draw it out here in front of their friends? They were seventeen...not exactly newly-wed material...
"Hermione are you sure what you're about to say won't upset Ginny? She's kind of sensitive at the moment you see; makes mountains out of mole hills," Harry said savagely.
"No, it's won't Harry," Hermione said through gritted teeth as Ginny's face paled with anger, "we just saw--"
"At least I don't have the emotional complexity of...Ron!" she screamed.
"Hey!" cried Ron, affronted. Hermione gave him the sceptical eye and he relented grudgingly, "Okay, fair enough."
"Gin, what is wrong with you at the moment?!" Harry shouted, standing up once again with frustration.
"Okay, you two, just stop it!" Hermione shrieked.
"I have emotional complexity!" Ron insisted angrily.
"My name was in the daily prophet!" Neville shouted triumphantly.
"Everyone's very angry today," Luna said simply.
During the second uncomfortable silence that followed these simultaneous outbursts, Harry collapsed back onto his seat massaging his throbbing temple, Ron twiddled his thumbs awkwardly, and Luna and Neville exchanged unknowing shrugs.
"I think we'll just leave you two alone for a bit," Hermione said with forced calm, "sort it out, whatever it is. Come on everyone…"
Neville left with an awkward nod, Luna with a meek wave, Ron with a grimace, and Hermione with a signature bossy stare; leaving Harry and Ginny each sitting with their arms folded over their chests, staring in opposite directions and seated as far apart as humanly possible. After several long moments they each sighed, and Ginny said in a tone of forced civility;
"Well I suppose we'd better call the house meeting."
"I was going to say we should patrol," Harry replied, "but we can do it your way."
"We don't have to," she shrugged irritably, then added; "you're the boss."
"If anyone's the boss of this "relationship", it's you," he said, voice dripping with unnecessary sarcasm.
"Oh, yeah? Well--"
"Now, now, temper, temper," said a sleek voice. Harry looked away from Ginny's accusatory finger, mid-way to his feet once again, to see the one, single person who had the ability to exacerbate the situation. Leaning casually against the doorway of their compartment, a gleeful malicious grin plastered over his pale, pointed face, stood Draco Malfoy. Harry's jaw dropped just as Ginny said faintly; "Oh my God…"
"What the hell are you doing here?" Harry demanded. "Shouldn't you be locked up in Azkaban?!"
"I can see The Hero isn't in the best of moods today. Perhaps his damsel is causing him some distress?" Malfoy grinned, entirely unperturbed by Harry's critical manner.
"Just ignore him, Harry," Ginny muttered, "Look, why are you here?"
"Why should I ignore him? He's right…" Harry mumbled grumpily.
"I got off, of course," Malfoy continued smoothly. "Put on your best simpering expression, claim to have done it out of fear of the Dark Lord…it's no problem."
"Oh, so you're good now are you?" said Harry bitterly, not caring enough to comment on how Malfoy had been in a completely petrified state ever since their sixth year, meaning that his "claim" to have done it out of fear of the Dark Lord was much less a ploy to escape Azkaban than actual fact.
"Yes," he smirked. "I am. I just dropped in to thank you Potter; you saving my life in June gave me the perfect alibi. No one who the "chosen one" would save could possibly be tainted with evil, isn't that right?"
"Glad I could be of help," Harry responded dryly. "How's your Dad, then? Having been Voldemort's wing-man for three years, I don't expect he was quite so lucky was he?"
"Ah, such naivety," Malfoy said, eyes alight with wonder. "You forget my family's greatest asset. Gold, Potter, gold."
"Kingsley wouldn't be bought off so easily like Scrimgeor and Fudge were," Ginny insisted loyally.
"And yet my father walks free," Malfoy said airily. "Funny that."
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Harry asked, his temper rising further by the second.
"Merely to give you my gratitude scar-head," Malfoy simpered.
"Which you've done," Ginny pointed out. "And now--"
"And now I'll be off…see you at the prefect meeting." And with those final words he departed with a subtle wink aimed vaguely in Ginny's direction.
"Prefect? Still?" Harry moaned, as Ginny frowned with curiosity at Malfoy's odd behaviour.
"Well," she sighed, "I think it's safe to say this year's going to be interesting…"
A/N: REVIEW! Thanks for reading!