Ron looked abominably cheerful when he strutted into the small attic room he and Harry shared and, beaming, threw himself down on the bed.
Harry did not even bother to hide the book he was reading, though he did try to appear as though he'd not just been focusing intensely upon it. "Just said good night to Hermione, did you?" he asked wryly. Still attempting casualness he did not quite feel, he threw Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches to the side and laid his glasses on the rickety old nightstand next to his camp bed.
Ron grunted, but didn't bother to answer. Harry realized that his best mate's mind had once more landed on Hermione and refused to leave. Thank God he didn't notice the--
"You know what's really nice?" Ron asked, throwing him a look.
"What?" Harry asked suspiciously, not entirely sure that he wanted to know.
"Not needing that book anymore," smirked Ron, pointing.
Harry made a rude gesture at him, and then cursed himself when the smirk on Ron's face deepened. He'd chosen the wrong tactic. "I was just bored, you wanker," he said darkly. He pointed out the only other reading material in the room, a pile of old and abused comic books. "I'm not as fond as Marvin the Mad Muggle – or whatever it's called – as you."
"I'm not a wanker anymore," Ron said slyly, ignoring the rest of what Harry said. Uncomfortable with the blissful, satisfied grin that stretched across Ron's face, Harry turned out the light and pulled the covers up over his shoulders.
"I don't want to know about that," Harry mumbled belatedly.
"Good, we're even," Ron said easily. "I don't want to know about your love life either."
"Good," said Harry.
"Good," said Ron.
Harry turned over onto his side, punched his pillow, and wondered if Ron's attitude was too good to be true. He must not know who she is, then, Harry thought. If Ron knew who had driven Harry to read a book of his own volition, he'd probably have a lot more to say than that.
Harry could no longer avoid, ignore, or attempt to push away his feelings for Ginny.
It was three days before his eighteenth birthday, and Harry had been free of the war, Voldemort, and everything that entailed since the second of May – plenty of time for Harry to realize that once the burden of the prophecy had lifted, his thoughts, more often than not, centered on Ginny Weasley. Not in an entirely obsessive way. He didn't mope around the Burrow, envisioning scenarios in which Ginny had feelings for him every minute of every hour.
But sometimes when she surprised him by entering the room unexpectedly, his stomach swooped. When he heard her laugh, it made him happy. He'd never felt that way about Cho.
In truth, it had begun almost two years ago, the summer after Sirius had died. Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Harry had spent days and days in each other's company – enough so that when Ginny went back to her circle of friends at Hogwarts, Harry realized that he missed her. He'd had little time for introspection, however, and clues that his feelings for her had changed (which were now glaringly obvious to him), went right over his head.
But it hadn't hit him, really hit him, that he fancied her until Bill and Fleur's wedding. He'd danced with her, and his feelings had slammed into him with the force of the Hogwarts Express. Five minutes later, the Death Eaters had arrived, sending the world into chaos, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione off on their Horcrux hunting adventure.
He'd been falling for Ginny for two years, and he still hadn't managed to do anything about it. With the war—
The war's been over for months, a traitorous little voice in his head pointed out. Harry rolled over, uncomfortable with the notion that he was a bit of a coward when it came to witches.
She was going out with Dean!
She isn't going out with him anymore – hasn't for ages. They broke up way before Dumbledore died.
She's Ron's sister!
Harry cracked his eyes open and glared at the ceiling. These were not new thoughts to him – they'd been chasing each other around in his head since three days after the final battle. And he still hadn't done anything. Harry had begun to suspect that it wasn't the fact that Ginny was Ron's sister at all that kept him from talking to her about how he felt.
The truth was… she'd gotten over him a long time ago, according to Hermione. And even if she looked at him sometimes… if Ginny had feelings for Harry, she kept them pretty well hidden. And you have knobby knees, and messy hair, and…
"For the love of Merlin, Harry!"
Ron's words exploded into the room, abruptly halting his train of thought. Harry sat up, the words what the hell already on his lips, when he saw that Ron was standing up, an expression of exasperation and amusement clearly written on his face. "What the hell?" Harry said anyway, perplexed.
"I've had it up to here"—Ron held his hand up to his forehead—"with you moping and sighing about—"
"I haven't been—"
"Oh, please," Ron scoffed, sounding remarkably like Hermione. "You've been up here for hours reading that book—"
"You're the one who bought it for me!" said Harry, offended.
"Yeah, that was when I thought you might actually need it," Ron said in a quieter voice. Apparently, though, amusement had won over exasperation and annoyance, for Ron started to chuckle. "You have got to be the thickest bloke I've ever met," he said fondly.
Harry gaped at him. This was coming from Ron of all people? Ron, who had apparently seen Ginny snogging Dean in a deserted corridor, came up to an unwitting Harry in the common room, and demanded to know if he thought Hermione had snogged Viktor Krum. Harry's hesitance had been very costly. Ron had almost immediately turned to Lavender Brown for solace.
And this git had the nerve to tell Harry that he was thick?
Ron had no clue what he was even talking about. How could he possibly know that Harry was in love with someone? But his blue eyes gleamed knowingly, and Harry had the sudden, deeply uncomfortable feeling that Ron knew everything.Everything. Reaching up, he ruffled his hair.
Don't be silly, how could he possibly know? Harry thought nervously. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said stiffly.
Ron folded his arms. "I really didn't want to get involved in this," he said with a beleaguered sigh. "I really wanted to just ignore it, but the moping and the advanced stages of denial—"
"Did you get that from Hermione?" Harry offered the weak insult. Perhaps if he goaded Ron into a fight, he would stop talking.
"Yep," Ron said cheerfully.
Harry glared at him.
"The thing is," said Ron smugly, "if there's one witch on this planet who wouldn't need tricks or techniques or – or flowers and chocolates and all that crap, it's Ginny."
To say that Harry was shocked that Ron not only knew of his dilemma, who exactly had inspired Harry to read his book, but obviously had lots of opinions, would be an understatement. His cheeks heated, and Harry was grateful for the darkened room. "I -- er --"
And then Ron was pulling him up, forcing him across the room and out the door. Harry protested, but Ron was too strong, and his wand was on the bedside table. There was nothing he could do but stand stupidly on the landing, wearing only his pajamas.
"I'm not letting you back in until you talk to my sister," ordered Ron. And he shut the door in Harry's face.
Ginny was nowhere even close to sleeping when there was a quiet knock on her door. Thinking it was Hermione, she flung the door open, saying, "I know you like to relive your little encounters with Ron, but you don't need to tell me every—Oh."
It was Harry.
Her eyes widened. He'd never come to her room before, or even hinted that he knew where her room was. But now here he was, walking in and closing the door partly behind him as though he'd done this many times before. "Er, hi, Harry?" she said questioningly. It took about three seconds for her to realize that they were alone in the room, most other members of the household were sleeping, and both of them were only wearing pajamas.
"Hi," he said after a long pause. His eyes closed, and a pained grimace flitted across his face. It happened so quickly that had Ginny not been watching so intensely, she would've missed it.
But she didn't, so she raised her eyebrow and folded her arms. She might fancy him – perhaps even love him – but he wasn't allowed to come into her room and then act as though it caused him pain to do so. "What's going on, Harry?" she asked.
"Do you want to go flying with me?" he asked quickly.
"Er… what?" said Ginny, thunderstruck. Surreptitiously, she pinched herself. Harry Potter had come to her room at one in the morning, wearing only his pajamas, and asking her if she wanted to go flying with him.
"I suppose it's late, but—"
"I'll go," said Ginny, interrupting him.
Five minutes later, they were in the air.
Not that the escape from the house to the broom shed and into the sky had been completely without drama. Ginny's head was still spinning (though that seemed unlikely to pass for a while), and she was still giggling. Harry had nearly fallen down the stairs – Ginny had reached out and squeezed his arm, and perhaps she didn't know her own strength, because he'd had to catch the banister to keep from crashing down. Then he'd gotten into a silent wrestling match with a gnome on their way across the lawn.
And then they'd realized that only one broom – Ginny's new Comet, a gift from Fred and George – was in the shed. It had been pitch black inside the shed, with only the light from Ginny's wand to see. Harry's face had been hidden in shadow, and Ginny suspected he hadn't been entirely casual when he'd said – apparently flippantly – that they could fly together. On the same broom.
Ginny hadn't been able to say no, and here she was, zooming across the night sky, with Harry pressed tightly behind her (he'd let her steer). It was difficult to concentrate on the broom, especially with the way he kept moving his hands every few seconds, from her waist to her thighs, as though he wasn't sure he was allowed to be touching her in these places.
"Just pick one and hold on!" she yelled at him over the wind. She thought she might have felt him chuckle, but that might have been just a breath. Instead of flying sedately, Ginny pushed the Comet as far and as fast as it would go.
They spun through the sky, and Ginny thought that perhaps they looked like a real comet. If a Muggle happened to look up and saw them, would they think Harry and Ginny were a natural part of the night sky? They were moving so quickly, that Ginny didn't think so.
One of his hands left her waist, and traveled into her hair, pulling it to the side and resting his face against hers. "This is brilliant!" he said loudly, whooping. But when his arms came around her waist again, Ginny began to slow down. It felt like he was hugging her -- holding her while they flew.
Her cheeks felt hot, and she was grateful for the fact that only the moon and stars lit the night sky. His arms tightened, and without thinking about it, Ginny began a gentle descent. She had no clue where they were – they could be fifty, or a hundred miles away from the Burrow by now. But their feet touched ground beside a gnarled oak in a pasture.
"You… are incredible on a broom," Harry said, staring around him, squinting. For the first time, Ginny realized he wasn't wearing his glasses.
"Where are your glasses?" she blurted out.
"Ron forced me out of the room before I could grab them," said Harry. "Or my wand," he added darkly. He cast her a sidelong look, face lit by the full moon, but still unreadable. "You'll have to protect me if we run into trouble.
Ginny patted him on the arm sympathetically, thinking of only one reason why Ron would shove Harry out of the room. "I take it Hermione was up there with him?" she asked. Not that she regretted it at all, of course. Nightflying with Harry was more exciting than she'd care to admit to him.
"She wasn't there," Harry said distractedly. "You fly really well," he said again. "Incredibly well… I don't remember you being this good…"
The compliment warmed her. "I had a lot of time to fly last year," she said. "Even when I got kicked off the Quidditch team, I still flew a lot." And, because she couldn't resist pressing him for answers, she said, "I take it that Hermione was on her way up to Ron's room, then?"
Harry didn't appear to be listening to her. "Can I borrow your wand for a second?" he asked. Ginny silently handed it over, and was beginning to suspect that he'd had another motive behind flying with her.
He whispered a charm. The tip of her wand sparked, and a handful of droopy but brightly colored flowers erupted out of it. He caught them, and Ginny could see the dismay on his face as he looked at the flowers he clutched, and squinted up at her.
"It's – er," said Ginny; she had no clue what to say. Was Harry trying to give her flowers? "They're…" she added lamely.
"Rubbish," Harry said, nodding firmly. "They're rubbish," he repeated glumly. He tossed them to the side, into the grass, and leaned up against the oak tree, banging his head against the trunk. Ginny wondered if that was deliberate.
Licking her lips, realizing her heart was thumping wildly out of control, she bent down and picked the flowers up. If they were a real flower, she'd never heard of them before. They were small and bright red, with puffy petals and a scent that smelled like her shampoo.
"They're quite lovely," said Ginny. Her hands were shaking. "But… it's really the thought that counts, Harry," she said carefully. Ginny wasn't stupid – Harry had just given her a pretty big clue that he fancied her, but she might be wrong. "It isn't all about the wandwork," she added, winking even though he couldn't see it.
Ginny stepped a bit closer, and reached out for his hand. They were suddenly standing very close together, and his slightly damp grip was firm. His eyes were shadowed by the branches, but she could see his mouth, and the way his tongue darted out to lick his lips. For several breathless seconds she thought he was going to kiss her. Instead, he wrapped his other arm around her and pulled her into a tight hug.
It was almost as though they spoke through the hug. The way Ginny buried her head against his chest translated as I've fancied you forever. And when he tentatively began to stroke her hair, Ginny took that to mean I fancy you too. After several minutes of simply reveling in the hug, Ginny lifted her head, hoping he would take that to mean Kiss me, please.
Instead, he hesitated. "I want to kiss you," he said. "But I can't see your face, and I wouldn't want to miss. And what—"
So Ginny kissed him. She trailed her fingers along his jaw, and then her lips found his. His fingers were still threaded in her hair, but he shifted them so that he cupped the back of her head with his hand. He was, she was slightly surprised to note, a playful kisser. Instead of attacking her mouth and trying to eat her up the way Dean had done, Harry teased her with his mouth and tongue until he was practically holding her up, her legs felt that weak.
Again and again, his lips slid over hers. She gave back in equal measure, holding him close as they swayed together. Ginny could feel the joy in Harry's kisses, and answered it with her own. The mood shifted a bit, from playful to quietly intense. She stroked his back, sighing, feeling like she'd wanted this for so long, and reveling in the way he held her close.
He'd longed for her, she felt, in the same way she had for him.
Long minutes later, they pulled away, breathing heavily. He rested his forehead against hers; he appeared content to simply hold her, and Ginny was more than willing to let him. They continued to sway, almost dancing under the night sky that stretched out above them.
"I want you to know," he said quietly, "that I -- that I've been looking for ways to... let you know how I feel about you. The flowers were rubbish, but I'll make more for you, if you want--"
"I'm not going to lie," Ginny interrupted him, "flowers are a nice gesture, and very sweet, and I give you permission to give them to me whenever you want to. But I don't need them. I expect, however, that I'm going to need you to -- to kiss me the way you just did, quite often."
"My pleasure," said Harry, bending his head. He did not miss, Ginny noted with a smile. His lips found hers right away.
Author's Note: Yet another little one-shot from me! I'm sure you lot are sick of them by now. I haven't been working on the longer stories for a while. I've been working on an original work of fiction (and that takes a lot of energy, let me tell you!), plus I've been busy with Real Life, being a mother to a young daughter, and also expecting again. I haven't given up on Yellow Submarine, or the others, though, I promise. Just be patient. And if you're a new reader of mine and have no idea whatsoever what I'm talking about...
As always, reviews are always welcome and much love will be given to those who take the time to do so.
Until next time, Ella.