Ginny had never been so eager to climb out of bed the next morning.
It was Saturday. It was the end of her first miserable week of living alone, of being too prideful to even visit the Burrow in the evenings because she was determined to show her mother that she was enjoying her newfound independence. But that didn't matter today. Her mother had owled her, inviting her to spend the day at the Burrow, and after ascertaining from Hermione that Harry had Auror training that day, Ginny gleefully prepared for her visit home. Home. She missed the clutter, the noise, the smell of home so much that it had almost become a physical ache.
Ginny Apparated to the front porch of the Burrow and rapped briskly on the door, her toes squirming in anticipation. Her mother answered the door, clad in an apron and oven mitts. Ginny almost knocked her over in her eagerness to throw her arms around her. "Mom! I'm so glad to see you!"
Mrs. Weasley laughed as they made their way to the kitchen. "How was your week, Ginny?"
"It was fantastic," Ginny said brightly. "I love living in my own apartment."
Mrs. Weasley raised her eyebrows. "Yes, clearly you didn't miss us at all."
Ginny faltered for a moment. "Okay… it wasn't that great. I'm just excited to be home, that's all." She couldn't stop smiling at she glanced at the vegetables on the cutting board and the pots and pans busily stirring themselves. "It smells amazing, Mom. Do you need any help?"
"No, dear, why don't you go upstairs and help Hermione? I asked her to sort laundry."
"Okay!" Ginny ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs two at a time, yelling Hermione's name at the top of her lungs.
Hermione poked her head into the hallway. "Ginny, hi! Do you know where Ron keeps his socks?" She gestured to the pile of clean laundry stacked in her arms.
"Anywhere," Ginny said. "You know how Ron's room is like a war zone all the time. I doubt he'd mind if you placed his socks somewhere different."
Hermione, however, continued to stand at the doorway chewing her lip. Ginny tried not to laugh.
"Oh, very well, you neat freak. Follow me."
She walked into Ron's room, Hermione close behind. "Here, I'll take these," she said, collecting the socks from Hermione. "He usually puts them on this shelf inside—" She walked into the closet. At that moment, several things happened at once.
"Oy, Ron, I can't find any spiders here," a familiar voice said from inside the closet, just as Hermione slammed the closet door shut, and Ginny bumped heads with someone in the pitch-black room.
"Ow!" she cried, massaging her forehead.
"Lumos!" the voice shouted.
A light flickered on, and Ginny found herself face-to-face with Harry.
They stared at each other for a second. Ginny glanced around at the stuffy, clothes-strewn closet, and the closed door behind her, then turned back to Harry. Realization dawned in their eyes at the exact same moment.
"I don't believe it!" Ginny shrieked while Harry gave an unintelligible roar of rage. "They've locked us in!"
"HERMIONE! RON!" Ginny screamed at the top of her lungs, pounding against the closet door. "LET US OUT!"
No answer. Footsteps resounded away from the door, and Ginny knew they were walking away. She took out her wand. "Alohomora!"
She looked at Harry, who shrugged.
"Well," she said furiously, "I don't think Hermione has any right to complain if I blast the door off. Reducto!"
"She must have put some protective spells on the door," Harry said, inspecting it. "Here, let me try something." He crouched down and muttered a spell under his breath. Ginny couldn't see any effects, but remained silent as Harry continued to work.
"Right," he said, standing up, "they've put some sort of motion sensory spell in this space. I bet Ron wanted to spy on us, but Hermione would have said that was indecent. So to give us privacy and yet still find out when we've started being civil to each other, she's cast this spell."
"How does it work?"
"From where they are, Ron and Hermione will be able to know how much and how quickly we move, in real time, and our distance from each other. And with that, they'll be able to find out if we're getting along with each other, I suppose."
Ginny was grudgingly impressed. "Did you learn this stuff in Auror training?"
"Yeah. It's been pretty useful, I must say."
She stood a little straighter and crossed her arms. "Well, Mr. Auror-in-Training, I don't suppose you could find a way for us to get out of here?"
He muttered a few more spells, then shook his head. "Hermione's put some pretty complicated spells on the door. I don't think I'd be able to break them for a couple of hours."
"A couple of hours! You're kidding. I am not staying in here for a couple of hours."
"Do you think that's how I want to spend my day? Do tell me if you have other ideas," he said sarcastically.
Ginny ignored him and sat down, thinking.
"Well?" he prompted.
"Shut up, I'm thinking," she snapped.
But she couldn't think. Harry was much too close. She tried to edge to the corner of the closet furthest from him, but the closet was so small that she could barely put two feet between them. She kept her eyes carefully fixed onto the floor.
She glared at him. "I can't believe they did this. I would have expected this out of Ron, but not Hermione. Can you believe their nerve? I think—oh Merlin, I think even Mom was in on this!"
"Yeah," Harry said. "Yeah, it's really…" His mouth twitched.
Ginny looked at him disbelievingly. "Harry Potter. Are you laughing?"
"No! No, of course not! What makes you think that?" But there it was again, that twitch of the lip.
"You are! You think this is funny!"
"No! Well… maybe a little bit… You have to admit, Ron and Hermione were pretty ingenious. Ron was screaming about spiders in his closet, and I was completely convinced—"
"Harry! We're stuck in a closet together! I can't believe you think this is funny!" She jumped to her feet and promptly banged her head into the closet ceiling. "OW!"
Harry winced. "Sit down, Ginny. Don't hurt yourself."
Ginny scowled and remained standing, massaging her head.
They sat in silence for a while. Ginny began to count the seconds in her head.
Forty-four, forty-five, forty-six…
"You know what?" Harry said suddenly.
"I think this is the most we've said to each other all year."
"That's not true."
He looked at her. She sighed. "Okay, fine, it's a little bit true."
Ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three…
She looked at him and opened her mouth, desperate to break the silence. But instead, she found herself watching the shadows from the wandlight dance across his face. She saw his green eyes, illuminated, his tousled hair that was as hopeless as ever.
One hundred twenty, one hundred twenty-one…
She looked away. Her mind was empty. Why couldn't she think of anything to say? What did she even want to convey? An apology? A reassurance of some sort?
Two hundred, two hundred and one, two hundred and two…
"I have an idea," he said suddenly.
"Stay there." He straightened up, closed the distance between them, and kissed her on the mouth.
Ginny pulled back slightly, shocked. "Harry, what the hell—"
"Just wait," he said, and she realized with a thrill she certainly should not be feeling that Harry had wrapped his arms around her and was continuing to kiss her. Hardly conscious of what she was doing, she pressed herself closer against his body and kissed him back.
And then, sure enough, footsteps, and the closet door was flung open. Hermione looked thunderstruck, Ron ecstatic albeit a little disgusted.
Ginny disentangled herself from Harry with as much dignity as she could muster.
"That was brilliant—that was even faster than I expected!" Ron said gleefully to Hermione, but Hermione stood chewing her nails, looking worriedly at Ginny.
Without a word, Ginny pushed her way past them, walking too fast for anyone to catch up, and locked herself in her room.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Ginny had been sitting on her bed for ten minutes, trying but failing miserably not to think about the way it felt to kiss Harry, when she heard a three quiet knocks on her door.
"Go away, Hermione," she said.
"Ginny." Hermione sounded hurt. "Can I come in?"
Ginny remained stonily silent.
"Ginny, I'm sorry. Please let me in."
Ginny sighed and crossed her room to the door, unlocking it for Hermione.
"Thank you," said Hermione, closing the door behind her. "And I really am sorry."
Ginny struggled to find words. "It's just that… you lied to me, Hermione. You told me that Harry wasn't going to be here today so I came. And maybe that was immature of me, but I don't think it was any less immature for you to trick us into being together."
"I know. I know, and I'm sorry. I never should have gone along with the plan. Ron thought that locking you two together in an enclosed space for a short period of time would solve everything, and I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I agreed. But you know I didn't mean any harm, don't you? I just wanted so much for you and Harry to be friends again."
"And locking us together in a closet was the way to do it," Ginny said shortly. But she felt herself softening despite herself. "It's all right," she said before Hermione could apologize again.
Hermione's mouth curved upward into an uncertain smile. "Really?"
Ginny sighed. "Yes, really."
They sat in silence for a moment.
"So that kiss, huh?" Hermione ventured, her face unreadable.
"He only did it so that we could get out faster."
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
"Do you still have feelings for him?"
Ginny hesitated a moment too long. "No."
Hermione's eyebrows shot up into her hair again, but to Ginny's relief, she decided not to pursue the subject. "Well, even so, don't you want to be friends with him again?"
"Of course I want to be friends with him."
"But that's not going to happen if you don't try, is it?" Hermione said gently. When Ginny didn't reply, she continued softly, "Please try. For my sake. You and Harry are two of the most important people in my life, and maybe it's selfish of me to say this, but I really, really want things to be good between you two, if for no other reason than to hang out with both of you without taking sides."
"All right," Ginny sighed. "But I hope you have this conversation with Harry too because I don't want to be the only one trying."
"Don't worry." Hermione hesitated for a moment. "You're not still mad at me, are you?"
"Well, I can't really be, can I?" Ginny said, her face breaking into a small smile. "I guess I can't blame you—if I had thought of it a couple years ago, shoving you and Ron in a closet together would have been the perfect way to get you guys together."
Hermione laughed. Ginny began to laugh as well. Suddenly, the situation seemed unbearably funny and they laughed until they were breathless.