Title: Birthday Blossoms
Summary: It had been thought best that Ginny fetch Harry on his birthday. The Dursley's would surely remember… her father, and everyone else was too busy… PreDH.
Ginny stood in front of the immaculate door of Number Four Privet Drive, hand hovering over the brass knocker. Her father sat in a parked car a little way down the otherwise empty street, and she knew unseen members of the Order were lurking about somewhere. It had been thought best that she fetch Harry on his birthday. The Dursley's would surely remember – and none too fondly – her father, and everyone else was too busy with either secret Order business or the wedding preparations.
She took a calming breath and straightened her shoulders. She could do this. She was a Gryffindor for Merlin's sake. She could handle an ex-boyfriend – ex only because he was being a noble git – and his Muggle relatives. She knocked on the door firmly and stood back, twisting her fingers together behind her back.
The door swung open abruptly, revealing a very large man with beady eyes and no neck. He eyed her vibrant hair and ill-fitting clothes and frowned down at her. "Who are you?" he commanded.
His rudeness and obvious distaste for her appearance raised her ire. Her hands clenched into tight fists, and her wand hand itched. She wanted to hex the horrid man, but knew it wouldn't be worth the enormous amount of trouble. She bit back her temper. "My name's Ginny," she growled.
Vernon flinched at the menace in her eyes, but then quickly steeled himself. He had just opened his mouth again when another voice boomed from behind him. "Who's at the door, Dad?" A meaty hand closed over the man's shoulder and shoved him aside. Ginny's eyes widened as Dudley's form filled the door. Dudley may have been the same height and build as his father, but Ginny saw his bulk, unlike his father's, was mostly muscle.
"Hello," he leered down at her. "Who are you?" he asked, looking everywhere but her face. Ginny's ears reddened, and she briefly wished she had been wearing her loose fitting school robes instead of the Muggle t-shirt that was a bit too snug and shorts that hung a bit too low that she had borrowed from Hermione. She clenched her jaw as he continued to ogle her figure.
"My eyes are up here you unintelligent lump of lard," she hissed, startling him out of his staring. She pulled herself up to her full – though honestly unimpressive – height. "I'm here to pick up Harry," she stated breezily. Taking advantage of their shocked stillness – and her small stature – she brushed pass the two enormous men and into the house.
She headed straight up the stairs as she had been directed by the twins. She knocked on the closed door she assumed was Harry's, but got no response. She knocked again. "Harry?" she called. She opened the door a crack and peeped in.
His packed trunk sat expectantly in the middle of the floor, Hedwig's empty cage sitting on top of it. The rest of the room seemed cluttered with dusty and broken things along the walls, but was otherwise empty. A figure stood on one side of the room, staring at the open and empty wardrobe as if any moment now it would sprout a face and tell him all of the secrets of the universe.
Ginny opened the door fully. The squeaking hinges brought Harry out of his trance, and he looked up at her. Ginny saw a glimmer of gold clutched tightly in his hand before he quickly stashed whatever it was into his pocket. His shocked green eyes involuntarily swept over her figure before returning to her eyes.
"Happy Birthday, Harry," she greeted, hoping he wouldn't notice the blush on her cheeks or the tremor in her voice.
They stood staring at each other a moment, and Ginny willed him to bound across the room and kiss her like he had the first time. His hand twitched like he was going to reach out to her, and she thought he might do just that.
He abruptly tore his eyes from her gaze and shoved his hands deep in his pockets. "I guess, we should get going then," he stated. Trying to put down her disappointment, Ginny nodded, even though he wasn't looking at her.
So wrapped up in the awkwardness of the moment, neither one noticed the sound of someone thundering up the stairs. "NOW SEE HERE GIRL!" a voice bellowed from the open door behind Ginny. She gasped in shock and pain as a large hand grabbed her arm and forcefully spun her around.
The next thing she knew, Harry was between her and Mr. Dursley. Harry seemed the height and breadth of Hagrid as he towered over his uncle, wand pointed directly over his uncle's rotund chest. "Don't. Touch. Her," Harry menaced in a dangerously low voice.
Vernon cowered before Harry, sputtering unintelligibly. Hissing something Ginny couldn't make out, Harry backed Vernon out of the door before slamming it in his face.
Spinning around to face her, Harry's entire countenance changed instantly. "Ginny, are you alright?" he asked. He took a step toward her and reached for her arm. Only when he gently touched her tender skin did she notice the beginnings of a large purple bruise on her upper arm. Harry muttered a curse under his breath.
"I'm sorry Ginny," he apologized, still holding her arm. "I'm pants at healing charms. You'll have to ask someone else to fix you up."
His concern touched and enraged her all at once. The part that was still – most likely always would be – in love with him, swelled in pride that he cared if she got hurt. But the fiercely independent redhead who had just been dumped – for her own good no less – was not amused. She was not a China doll for Merlin's sake. Anger immediately won out. "I'll be fine," she snapped. "It's just a little bruise," she dismissed and shrugged out of his grip. Harry recoiled as if she had slapped him and stuffed his hands back in his pockets. Seeing him pull away from her like that stemmed most of Ginny's hostility. She didn't want him to think she hated him.
"Let's get out of here," she suggested in a softer voice after a moment of awkward silence. "The sooner the better." Harry nodded and stepped to pick up his trunk just as Ginny moved toward the door. They ended up directly in front of each other, only a few inches separating them. Ginny's eyes were resolutely fixed on the pattern of his shirt, and she was certainly not thinking about the muscular chest that was underneath it. There were several awkward moments when they tried to get around each other and only managed to keep stepping in the same direction. She would not let her eyes wander up to watch his adam's apple bob as he swallowed.
"Oh this is ridiculous," Ginny breathed and clasped her hands around his upper arms to direct him past her. But the feel of his skin against hers gave her pause. Without her permission, her hands smoothed over the familiar contours of his biceps, shoulders, and neck to wind in his surprisingly soft hair. Harry's hands – with a similar mind of their own – circled her waist. Ginny's gaze followed the progress of her hands until it locked with his. The look in his eyes pinned her heart in her throat. She was powerless to do anything but move closer, pull him closer. If it felt like years passed before his lips touched hers, eons slipped away while they kissed. Eons full of blazing suns, earth shattering quakes, rushing whirlwinds.
When they finally pulled apart, both were breathing heavily. Ginny looked up into his face, but he wouldn't meet her eye again. He fiddled with a lock of her hair that had fallen free of her ponytail and looked almost nervous, but he didn't pull away from her.
"Ginny, I…" She silenced him with a finger, and he finally looked at her.
"If you even think about apologizing, I will not hesitate to hex you and damn the Restriction of Underage Wizardry!" she stated vehemently, glaring at him.
Before she could follow up on the threat, a slow lopsided grin spread until it brightened his entire face. The sight of that carefree grin warmed her heart, and she couldn't help but return it. Merlin, she had missed his smile.
"The Ministry'd probably blame me anyway and try and kick me out of Hogwarts again," he joked.
"Well, they couldn't if they tried," she responded. "You're of age today, remember."
It almost took her breath away to see another beautiful smile brighten his face. "That's right." He stepped away from her and mumbled to himself, "now what can I…," as he looked around the room. He grabbed something small that Ginny didn't recognize from one of the shelves and flashed her another grin. He pulled out his wand and frowned in thought. He pointed his wand at the object sitting in his palm. Ginny was so busy admiring the look of intense concentration on his face, she didn't notice the large white blossom he had transfigured and charmed to be ever fresh until he had put away his wand and was stepping close again. He snaked his free hand around her waist, and offered her the beautiful blossom.
"This is for you," he stated as he gave it to her. "For everything you've done for me."
"Harry," Ginny breathed, admiring the fragile flower. "It's beautiful. But it's your birthday, not mine," she began to protest. "You shouldn't have given me…"
"I know," he interrupted and squeezed her waist. "But, I wanted to." He handed her the delicate flower, and she observed every perfect curve, not wanting him to see in her eyes how much the token meant to her.
He cupped her cheek and lifted her chin to direct her gaze away from the bloom in her hand. When his gaze locked with hers, it was all she could do to stand under their intense heat. Even if he said none of the words out loud, they were all there in his eyes. Stay safe for me, they said. Wait for me, they pleaded. I love you, they proclaimed. She knew she would fight to the death for him, but if he asked her to stay safe, she could do that too. He leaned in, and as Ginny's eyes fluttered closed, she knew that when he kissed her, it would be the last one for a long time.
Harry severed all contact between them when he pulled away. He tore himself from her grip, stepped back, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and stared at the floor. He wouldn't meet her eyes again, and Ginny understood. He had made his decision, and she would respect it. He loved her and would come back to her, that's all that mattered. She looked down at the forgotten blossom in her hand. For a second, so quick she almost hadn't noticed, the petals seemed to tremble and shimmer in the light. But just as quickly, they faded to their original matte white.
"Will you wear it?" Harry's voice pulled her out of her musings.
"Will you wear it?" he asked again, gesturing toward the flower in her hand.
"Of course, but where should I put it?" she wondered out loud, trying different places to pin it to her shirt.
"I mean in your hair," he clarified. "I think it would look nice in your hair," he added. She blushed at his frank gaze and nodded. "May I?" She handed him the blossom as he pulled out his wand again. He added a stem and an ever-fresh charm. And with a little twist and flick of his wrist, the flower inserted itself into her ponytail and the stem wrapped around to secure it.
"Why Mister Potter," Ginny smiled at him, "I am impressed."
He blushed and pointed his wand at his trunk, levitating it. "Well, Hermione's not the only one capable of reading a text book," he remarked with a wry smile. "Shall we, Miss Weasley?" he asked with an overly gallant bow and a quirked eyebrow.
Ginny laughed and did a funny little curtsy, a difficult feat in shorts and thong sandals. "Why of course, Mister Potter." He followed her out of the room, and the two of them laughed all the way out of the house, oblivious of his aunt, uncle, and cousin.