They Never Knew What Hit Them!
Harry Potter shuffled sleepily into the kitchen at the Burrow, and sat in his usual seat without noticing that Ginny and Hermione were already seated at the far end of the table with their heads together over a magazine. He yawned hugely, and muttered a quiet, "thanks" to Mrs. Weasley as she sat a large bowl of porridge and a cup of tea in front of him. She patted his shoulder affectionately, and retreated to the stove, leaving him to his breakfast. Harry had arrived the night before, and he and Ron had stayed up late into the night, catching up on everything that they had not been able to share with each other in the weeks Harry had been forced to stay at the Dursley's. He was still bunking with Ron because the twins' old room still had a mysterious smell to it that they could not get rid of, and Percy's room, well, no one went in there. Ron was still asleep, but his sudden shout of, "Shut it, Malfoy!" from a dream he was no doubt having, had woken Harry. The daylight streaming through the window had made it impossible for sleep to reclaim him, and so he had dressed and come downstairs.
"Good morning Harry!" Hermione greeted him cheerfully. She had been at the burrow for three days, and had gone to bed much earlier than her friends had, so was much better rested.
Harry rubbed at his eyes, knocked his glasses askew, and then looked over had her to mumble, "Good..." His eyes widened as his friend came into focus. She was wearing make-up and had her hair all smooth and, and pretty, "...morning. You look nice."
"Thank you!" She beamed at him, clearly pleased by his reaction.
Ginny giggled and nudged Hermione, who seemed to be trying to hold her giggles in as well. Girls. Ginny was wearing make-up as well, and her hair was twisted up into a knot with lots of fiery tendrils corkscrewing in all directions behind her head.
"And you, Ginny," he added, once he got a good look at her. "I um, well, wow!"
This set off another round of giggles, and Harry raised his eyebrows and asked, "Is there a special occasion for all of this?"
"Why would we need a special occasion to want to look pretty?" Hermione's expression was suddenly serious, and her eyes narrowed.
Warning! Warning! Warning! The alarm went off in his head as he frantically searched his memory for anything important he might be forgetting about this particular date, but came up blank. That left only left one conclusion: female logic was at work here, and there was no way to combat it. There were very few things he could say at this point that wouldn't get him into even more trouble. He had to think of something fast, before he spent the rest of the summer holiday getting the silent treatment.
"What I meant," Harry said, praying he wasn't about to get lashed with two girls' fury, "was that you couldn't expect a mere mortal like me to withstand such beauty on an everyday basis. If this is going to be a daily occurrence, I'm going to have to start brewing myself a Fortification Potion to keep me from just falling at your feet in abject worship all the time."
Mrs. Weasley chuckled from her place by the stove, and Hermione beamed at him again. "Okay. You're forgiven."
With a sigh of relief, Harry picked up his tea and took a large sip, but promptly choked and sprayed it back out again all over the table. Ginny had stood up and walked to the window to let Errol in with the post. Great Scott! She was wearing a pair of denim shorts that showed quite a lot of skin, and a shirt that revealed a wide swath of creamy midriff.
"Problem, Harry?" she asked with a knowing smirk.
Fortunately he was spared the need to answer, due to the fact that he was coughing to clear his lungs of the tea that he had inhaled before showering the table with the rest. Mrs. Weasley hurried over to beat him on the back, but didn't seem to notice anything amiss with Ginny's attire. Just as he was recovering from his coughing fit, Ron stumbled into the room, and slid into a seat next to Harry. Harry wasn't sure what was going on, but Hermione suddenly sat up straight in her chair, closed the magazine that she and Ginny had been looking through, and hid it out of sight. Ron had yet to notice his half-naked sister retrieving the mail from the newly arrived Errol, and definitely didn't see Hermione surreptitiously unbutton another of the buttons on the front of her blouse. Harry's mouth fell open, and he looked away from the hint of cleavage that she was now showing, turning his attention to the safest place in the room; the inside of his porridge bowl. It was clear to him now, that Hermione was doing this for Ron's benefit, and that she honestly wasn't trying to shock him. Thank heaven for small mercies.
"Letter for you, Harry," Ginny said, looking through the stack of envelopes and handing one across the table.
Harry tried to take the letter from her hand without looking at her; he wasn't exactly clear why Ginny was dressing the way she was, and wasn't sure he wanted to. He jumped when Ron suddenly spoke. "What are you all dolled up for? Got a date with Dean?"
"Dean?" Ginny looked completely at a loss to understand the question, and then it dawned on her and she laughed. "I was never seeing Dean! I only said that to get a rise out of you! If I'd been seeing Dean, don't you think I'd have spent the train ride home with him?"
"Well then why are you all...?" he made a gesture with his hands toward her face and hair. "You don't see Hermione - Holy hippogriffs!"
Harry snorted into his porridge, but did not look over. There was something disturbing about seeing one of your best 'girl' friends showing that much skin, when you were accustomed to seeing her in wizarding robes all year long. And Ginny... the last thing he wanted in his head were impure thoughts about her! It would be a contest to see which member of the Weasley family skinned him alive first if they could read the thoughts that had gone through his mind when he'd seen her at the window. He examined the letter he'd just received, and was pleased to see it was from Neville Longbottom. Neville couldn't possibly have anything to say that would make the uncomfortable tightness in his trousers any worse, so he broke the seal and removed the letter. Before he could read more than the first few words, though, Hermione answered Ron's exclamation.
"Honestly, Ron! You act as though you've never seen me in Muggle clothes before! And for your information, Ginny and I are going into Muggle London for some shopping and a bit of research for her Muggle Studies essay."
"Not dressed like that, you're not!" Ron countered.
While Harry felt similar sentiments, he wasn't about to voice them. He'd only just avoided falling into that particular trap. He congratulated himself on avoiding more trouble, and tried to go back to his letter, but Ron turned to him and said, "Back me up here Harry! Tell them that they can't go into London dressed like... like... that!"
Harry sighed and looked up to find Hermione on her feet, wearing a skirt that made him want perform an intense Scouring Charm on his eyes. Mustn't think bad thoughts! Inwardly he did some quick metal acrobatics before saying thoughtfully, "You know, Hermione, it really isn't fair to the male population of London to unleash the two of you on them, unwarned. You'll never get anything done if you're constantly having to beat them all off with a stick wherever you go."
Ron was looking at him now as if he'd gone mental, but then caught on and said, "That's right! You'll just have to go put on more clothes."
"Why, Ron? Don't you like what I'm wearing?" Hermione had moved around the table to give Ron a better look. Harry looked the other way, only to find Ginny standing on the other side of him, hands on her hips, her navel sporting a silver ring. Harry's eyes fastened on that tiny loop of silver, and he shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying desperately to think of anything to ease his suffering. Think of something else! Anything else! Snape! Snape in his underwear...ah, that was better. Disturbing, yes, but better... until Ginny put a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you all right?" she asked, as if she didn't know. "Ron asked you a question."
Harry looked over at his best mate to find him looking expectantly in his direction, and then Ron said, "I asked you if you were willing to go into London to keep these two out of trouble today."
"But I've got a piercing, uh, potions essay to do." Damn that silver hoop! He didn't dare look at either of the girls, and so begged Ron silently to let the subject drop.
"Since when are you all eager to do potions?" Ron asked skeptically, completely missing the panicked plea in Harry's eyes. "You can do it tomorrow."
"What about the Order?" He was grasping at straws, now, and knew it. "Dumbledore wouldn't want me to be going out without a guard, and all; and it would be a huge hassle to arrange for one on such short notice."
"Not to worry, dear," Mrs. Weasley smiled. "Arthur and I can follow at a discreet distance. Muggle London is probably the safest place in the world for you right now. You've got much less chance of being spotted there than in a wizarding location, and Arthur would love to get a closer look at Muggle life."
Harry made the mistake of looking at Ginny for a moment, and saw the her mouth was arranged into a glossy pout, "Don't you want to spend the day with us Harry?"
Snape in underwear! Snape in underwear! Hell, Dumbledore in underwear! Mad-Eye! McGonagall! That's the ticket! "Uh...sure I do. I just don't want to put you in danger." Oh, that was good! There was no arguing with that, was there?
"Don't be silly, Harry," Hermione chuckled knowingly. "You heard what Mrs. Weasley said. We'll be fine!"
Is this some sort of conspiracy? Harry wondered wildly, I've been working to keep my thoughts off of Ginny for well over a month, and now she's showing off her belly button ring and most of her skin! And Hermione's helping her do it! Why isn't Mrs. Weasley doing anything about this?
"Go on and get ready, dear. We're not leaving for another hour," Molly said cheerfully.
"Could I please have some more tea first?" Harry asked in a strangled voice. There was no way he could leave his seat without intense embarrassment yet.
He was intensely relieved when the girls gave each other a high five, and retreated to Ginny's room. He ignored Ron's muttering about skimpy clothes, and turned his attention to Neville's letter while he finished the second cup of tea that Mrs. Weasley had placed in front of him. When he felt that he could finally leave the table, he decided that a cold shower might be in order before their foray into the city. He climbed the stairs, and came to the landing that led to Ginny's room, and heard them giggling and talking animatedly. He was about to pass her door before more impure thoughts invaded his mind, when he heard his name mentioned, and he paused to hear what they were saying about him.
"I know!" Ginny was saying excitedly. "And Ron! Could his jaw have dropped any harder?"
Hermione chuckled and said smugly, "They never knew what hit them!"
"Just wait until we get to London!"
The relish with which Ginny said that particular phrase made Harry extremely uneasy. What could they really do with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley watching them the whole time? Somehow that thought didn't make him feel very comforted.
The Trip to London
Harry hunted out the best Muggle clothes he could muster from his meager wardrobe. It was a hot and sticky day, and so he found a pair of Dudley's old denim shorts and a plain black t-shirt. Neither article really fit him; the pants being too large, and the shirt too small. He shrugged and put them on; maybe Mrs. Weasley could 'adjust' the fit with her wand. He certainly hoped she could do something, or he would have to buy something new in London. He knew nothing about shopping for clothing, other than being measured for robes by Madam Malkin, and he had very little desire to learn. Ron came into the room just as Harry pulled his money pouch out of his trunk and began to put on his trainers. He was dressed in jeans and a Chudley Cannons t-shirt that were both faded, but would probably look fashionable in the Muggle world. Harry would have borrowed something from his friend to wear, but decided he would only have a problem opposite to the one he had now; the pants would be to small and the shirt too long. He shrugged philosophically and sat on the camp bed he was using to put on his own trainers. He would definitely need a new pair of those, as the rubber was peeling off the bottom of them.
"Do you think we can stop off in Diagon Alley to exchange some gold for Muggle money?" Harry asked as they both stood.
"I think that's the plan," Ron said. "We'll Floo to the Leaky Cauldron, and go to Gringotts, then back through to the Muggle street on the other side."
Harry nodded, and braced himself for the day ahead. He entered the kitchen behind Ron, and was surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Weasley dressed correctly for a day in a Muggle city. He was also relieved to see that lightweight cloaks covered both girls. At his quizzical look, Hermione drew the hood up and said, "We don't want to get covered in soot, do we?"
Harry decided against a cloak, and took his turn with the Floo powder. He stumbled out of the hearth at the Leaky Cauldron, and was immediately flanked by two wizards who steadied him. He tensed until he realized that the wizards were Remus Lupin and Mundungus Fletcher; members of the Order sent to guard him while he was in Diagon Alley, no doubt. Hermione, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley arrived in turn, and after Molly had rid them of soot with a soft brush, they all set out for the snowy white building in the distance. Harry was in the center of the four adults, and hardly visible to any casual observer. They reached the bank without incident, and Harry visited his vault, and exchanged some gold for several pound notes. If he didn't use them on this outing, he might find them useful for the one summer he had left to spend at the Dursley's next year.
"Are you all right, Harry?" Lupin asked quietly as they returned to the Leaky Cauldron. "You seem a bit tense."
"I'm fine," Harry answered, equally quietly, not wanting to be overheard. "It's just that Hermione and Ginny have been acting all... girly."
"Girly?" Lupin raised an inquisitive eyebrow as they all stopped, and the Weasleys, Hermione and Harry prepared to enter Muggle London.
Just then, the girls in question removed their cloaks and hung them on pegs by the door. Lupin's jaw dropped a bit before he recovered and Harry said in a strangled voice, "See what I mean?"
His old professor merely chuckled and clapped him on the shoulder affectionately before offering the only advice that came to mind, "Constant vigilance, Harry. Constant vigilance."
Harry whimpered piteously as Ginny turned and said, "Coming?"
They stepped out onto the sidewalk of Charring Cross Road, and Hermione immediately outlined her plan for the first place they would visit. The girls took the lead, with Harry and Ron following close behind. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley followed at a sedate pace, stopping every so often when Arthur spied something he found of interest (which was often). Ron tired of trying to figure out Hermione and Ginny's giggling and coy, over- the-shoulder glances, and engaged Harry in a discussion about Quidditch as they strolled along. They stopped at various places that Hermione thought would be points of interest for Ginny's essay, including a green-grocer's, a jewelry store, and a post office. Everyone was startled when Harry suddenly spied a store window that displayed casual teen clothing. Mrs. Weasley hadn't been able to alter his clothing to fit any better, and so he called out, "Wait!"
He had been constantly pulling up his shorts and tugging at the snug fabric of his tee shirt for the past two hours, and decided he may as well put some the money he had exchanged to good use. "I need some new things," he said, gesturing to the shop. "I can catch up with you, if you'd like, or meet you somewhere when I'm done."
Hermione and Ginny gave each other a conspiratorial look before both of them grinned widely and Ginny said, "I'll come with you! It will be a good place to get first-hand experience of a muggle shop, with a transaction using muggle money!"
Something didn't feel right to Harry, especially when Hermione spoke up and said, "While you two do that, Ron and I will head over to the café across the road there. I'm starving; I didn't really eat anything at breakfast."
"I could eat something," Ron agreed, readily, obviously feeling none of Harry's indefinable unease. Typical.
"Er," He couldn't think of a reasonable reason for Ginny not to accompany him, especially if would help her with her class work. "Okay?"
The two elder Weasleys waved to them as they saw the split in the group, and so Harry opened the door to the shop and gestured for Ginny to precede him. The walls were lined with mirrors and posters of Muggle bands, there was loud music playing, and racks and racks of clothing and shoes stretched all the way to back of the store. A boy, a few years older than they were, approached sporting blue, spiky hair and several earrings in one of his ears. "Help you with something?" he asked, eyeing Ginny with interest.
"I need some new clothes," Harry said, thinking that this should have been obvious. "Ones that actually fit."
"Feel free to look around, and I'll open a dressing room for you when you're ready."
This statement was so unhelpful, that Harry nearly turned and left the shop. It was Ginny's bright, "Thanks!" that kept him from retreating, and had him approaching the closest of the racks cautiously. Ginny sensed that he felt out of his depth, and grabbed his arm, pulling him toward a circular rack of shorts. "That guy looks like he could be Tonks's little brother!" she said cheerfully. "Any idea what size you are?"
"Not even the slightest clue." He shrugged as Ginny pulled out a pair of shorts similar to those he was already wearing, and held them up to inspect them. She proceeded to embarrass him, by telling him to turn around, and then turning his waistband out to check the size of the pants he was wearing. She chose a few pairs of shorts from the rack in sizes smaller than the number on the tag, and then pulled him along to another rack. By the time they had found 'Blue-Boy' and Harry had gone into a fitting room, Harry was laden with two armfuls of various items of what Ginny assured him was 'trendy' clothing. How she knew what Muggles found trendy was beyond him, but he found it easiest to just agree to try the things she was piling into his arms. While he was changing from one pair of shorts to another, trying to find a pair that fit properly, he could hear the other boy talking to Ginny.
"So what's your name?" he asked her. His interest in Ginny was evident in his voice, even to Harry, who frowned to himself.
"Ginny," she said.
Harry was pleased to hear that she didn't ask for his name in return. She aught to know better than to let strange boys chat her up, he thought, relieved when he found his correct size at last. He peeled off his too- tight shirt, and was about to try on one of the dozen that Ginny had insisted upon, when he heard the boy try again.
"You know, you look really hot in that top. That belly ring is sweet. You know, there's going to be this great party tonight at..."
Harry didn't wait
to hear more, but threw open the door to the fitting room and
advanced, saying, "Watch
His tone was low and menacing, and he was wholly unaware that he made
an impressive figure, standing shirtless in front of them. His body
had filled out nicely over the past year, and Quidditch and regular
exercise had transformed his once skinny body in to a lean,
well-muscled one. He now knew why Ron hadn't wanted the girls
venturing out alone today. If
I had my wand, I'd...
Ginny was standing with her mouth hanging open, taking in the sight of him, and only dimly registering that the clerk was backing away from Harry and stammering out an apology. Harry glared at her as if to say, 'Stay out of trouble,' before disappearing once more into the cubicle he'd just stormed out of. He missed the thoughtful smile that came over her face as he turned away.
Wasting no time, Harry checked the size of the pants he had on, and pulled from the pile another pair of shorts, and a pair of denim jeans in the same size. He found a shirt that fit right away, and chose four in different colors, not paying much attention to the designs printed on the front of them. He emerged, dressed in one of the pairs of shorts, and a green tee shirt, carrying his old clothes along with the ones he intended to buy. Another clerk approached; a girl this time, and took his things to the counter, then asked if there was anything else she could help him with. When Harry asked if they had any trainers, she shook her head and said, "We only have Docs."
"Docs?" Harry and Ginny asked together.
"Doc Martens?" she said. When they both still looked quizzical, she said, "Ill show you." Fifteen minutes later, Harry's wallet was considerably lighter, but at least his clothes fit, and he was pleased with his new "Docs;" a pair of thick-soled lace-up boots that the clerk had assured him would give him years of wear. He had pretended not to hear when the clerk had said to Ginny, "Lucky you! Your boyfriend is really cute. Anyone who can make Duncan babble like an idiot has got to be good."
They caught up with Ron and Hermione at the café, where Ron was polishing off the last of a plate of chips, and Hermione, strangely enough, was talking to him about Quidditch. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were sitting on a bench across the street, eat ice cream and looking through a booklet of some sort with great interest. Once they began walking once more, Hermione and Ginny took their place again ahead of the boys, and Harry told Ron about the boy who'd tried to chat up Ginny. He felt better about his own behavior when he saw Ron's scowl, and resolved to keep a closer eye out for the boys (and men) who were ogling the girls as they passed. When one boy whistled at Hermione and called out, "Looking good, honey!" Ron took it upon himself to keep her out of trouble by stepping between her and Ginny and taking her hand in his. He reasoned that men would be less likely to be rude if they thought she had a boyfriend. Ginny stepped back to walk next to Harry, and Hermione smiled in a satisfied sort of way before announcing that Ginny really aught to ride the underground as part of her 'Muggle Studies experience.'
On The Underground
Harry turned and signaled to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who caught up with them and listened to their plans. They would ride the Underground for a few blocks, and then walk leisurely back toward the Leaky Cauldron. Mr. Weasley was the most excited at this prospect, though Harry knew for a fact that he had ridden on the Underground just last summer. They made their way to the nearest entrance, bought their tickets from a machine (it took them ten minutes to pry Arthur away from it), and waited with a large crowd of Muggles on the platform for the train to arrive. Harry wondered vaguely why there were so many people about, but didn't give it much more thought. He was still trying to keep and eye out for Ginny and Hermione, without really looking at either one of them. Ron seemed to be in a kind of trance; he was standing close beside Hermione, and was still holding her hand. Harry smirked. As tall as Ron is, and as low as her shirt is unbuttoned, he thought, it's no wonder his ears are red. It's probably the only bit of blood actually making the trip to his head! Ginny seemed to be having similar thoughts, because she was standing closer to Harry than to the girl who was supposed to be helping her with her homework. Harry caught sight of a very 'preppy' looking boy staring openly at Ginny, his eyes fixed on the ring in her navel; he stepped ever so casually into the other boy's line of vision, and looked around for anyone else that might be staring inappropriately at the diminutive red-head at his side.
The train could be heard coming down the track, and was soon coming to a stop at the platform. Harry and Hermione kept the others from boarding right away, so that those who wanted to exit could do so, then guided them into a crowded car. There were no available seats, though one chivalrous man gave his to Molly; the others stood closely together, holding onto metal bars to keep themselves steady. By the time the train began to move, Harry was wishing he had his larger shorts back. Ginny was standing so close to him that he could smell the shampoo in her hair, and if he dared to look down at her face, count the freckles dusting her nose. When the train picked up speed, Ginny involuntarily leaned into him, her cheek momentarily brushing his chest, while he automatically put an arm around her to steady her. Snape in underwear! Snape in underwear! Became Harry's mantra once more, as he made sure she was balanced and released his hold on her. At the next stop, almost no one left the railcar, but four more people boarded, and forced everyone to stand even more closely together. This time, Harry, feeling very warm in the small compartment, had no choice but to hold Ginny against him; she was jostled in such a way that it was too awkward for her to hold the bar for support. The bags from his shopping were still in his hands, and he did his best to hide his 'embarrassment' by holding the bags between them. Unfortunately his 'embarrassment' only increased when the back on the hand holding his bags brushed the bare skin of her stomach, and the silver hoop that resided in her navel. Oh God, he thought feverishly, what kind of pervert am I? This is Ginny! Ron's little sister! He looked guiltily over at Ron, who was determinedly looking anywhere but down at Hermione, who was pressed closely into him, with his father at his back. Harry could practically read the thoughts running through his best friend's mind as the train made it's second stop, because he was sure they were very similar to his own: 'Please let this torture be over soon!'
Thankfully, the ride was over about five minutes later, and they all exited the train and took the escalator to the street level. Harry kept his bags held in front of him for a couple of minutes before he was sure that none of their group would notice his very visible reaction to their youngest member, and make him very sorry indeed. Ginny purchased a couple of Muggle newspapers and magazines to take as extra credit items, and then they stopped in at a sweet shop so that Ron could check out the difference between Muggle and Wizarding sweets. Harry was reminded of Dumbledore (whom he was still feeling resentment toward) when he spied a bin full of Sherbet Lemons. Ron purchased several items that caught his interest, despite the fact that there were none of what Honeyduke's would label 'special effects' sweets. By the time they had worked their way back to the Leaky Cauldron, it was getting to be late in the day. They were all tired from their excursion, and Ron seemed to be unaware that he had ended up with Hermione's hand in his for the better part of it.
They decided on having dinner at the pub, and Ginny nipped down to Fred and George's joke shop to ask them if they wanted to join the impromptu family meal. She was grinning widely when they all arrived and joined the table, and the twins were carrying a large sack that they handed to Harry as they sat down.
"Just a few items you might find useful when you get back to Hogwarts," Fred said casually.
"Or even before," George added quietly enough that the others couldn't hear. "Don't let Mum see."
"Er... thanks," Harry said with some trepidation. The boys weren't exactly trustworthy under most circumstances, and he knew that any gifts they bore should be handled with extreme caution. He slipped the bag from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes into one of his other shopping bags, and pretended not to notice Mrs. Weasley's narrowed eyes, surveying him and her sons suspiciously.
The meal was a jovial affair, with the twins talking animatedly about their shop. Harry had yet to visit, but it was on his list of places to go when he came back to Diagon Alley for his school supplies in a few days. Fred and George kept staring at Hermione, prompting Ron to keep asking her if she was cold, and maybe she should put her cloak on.
Sensing his brother's discomfort and jealousy, George said, "How come you never dressed like that the summer holidays we lived at home, Hermione?"
"Yeah, "Fred grinned evilly. "I don't remember you taking such pains with your appearance before. If you had, I'd have..."
Luckily for him, he never got to say what he would have done, because Ginny accidentally spilled a picture of pumpkin juice in his lap. Unluckily for Harry, she had stood and leaned across him in her attempt to get to the juice, and had stumbled forward a bit, so that the bare skin of her midriff brushed against his arm, making him want to reach up and... Professor Snape in his underwear, Professor Snape in his underwear, Professor Snape in his underwear... better! If anyone had been aware that his eyes were screwed up tight in concentration, no one acted as though they'd noticed it. Ginny moved back to her seat as Fred gave a yelp of surprise and jumped to his feet, brushing at the front of his robes with his napkin.
"Sorry!" Ginny said sweetly, ignoring the fuss he was making, and going back to her meal.
When it was time to return to the Burrow, George leaned toward Harry and said quietly, "You might want to share some of what we gave you with Ron."
Harry nodded that he had heard him, and turned to bid Fred goodnight. The girls donned their cloaks (thank God!), and they each took their turn with the Floo powder. They arrived home too early to retire for the night, and so Ginny went to get her Muggle Studies book, and sat at the kitchen table. She reminded Harry that he had told them that he had a Potions essay to work on, and invited him to sit with her, in case she needed to ask him any questions about Muggle life.
"I thought that Hermione was helping you with that," Harry said suspiciously.
"Oh, she was, but she's busy right at the moment, so you're the next best thing."
He reluctantly agreed, and went to put his purchases in Ron's room and get his unfinished schoolwork. He settled down across from her, and began to work on his essay for Advanced Potions; he still couldn't believe he'd achieved a high enough score to be accepted into Snape's N.E.W.T. level class, and knew that he had to do his best work, or suffer the consequences. He was startled when Ginny looked up and said, "Do you happen to have any batteries? Like from the Dursley's?"
Harry shook his head. "The Dursley's never gave me anything that could take them. I'd be willing to bet your dad has some, though; doesn't he collect them?"
"You know, you're right! I don't know why I didn't think of it! In this part of my essay, I'm trying to explain why there are different types of batteries for different things," she told him. "You'd know a battery if you saw one, wouldn't you, Harry?"
"I suppose so. A lot of Dudley's games took them," he answered cautiously.
"Then you wouldn't mind coming out to my father's workshop to help me find some?" she asked slyly.
The alarm was going off in his head again. 'Is
there a way out of this that won't injure my pride or her
"I'm sure your father would be the best person to..." he began.
"Don't be silly!" Ginny said with a little laugh that Harry was sure boded no good for him. "He's busy with his own work in his office. It'll only take a few minutes. Come on!" She tugged on his arm encouragingly.
'Where the hell
have Ron and Hermione gone? Or Mrs. Weasley?'
he thought wildly, as he got to his feet, 'Why
aren't they here to get me out of this? If I go into that workshop
with Ginny alone, I'm done for!'
They walked out into the warm summer air, and Ginny led the way across the garden, toward the little shed that Arthur called his workshop. Ginny opened the door, and the lanterns that hung from the ceiling sprang to life. The room was obviously magically expanded to hold the wide array of Muggle items inside, and Harry wandered further into the room, temporarily forgetting to be nervous as he surveyed all of Mr. Weasley's treasures.
There were countless small appliances on shelves all around the room; each one with a tag describing it's name and function. Blenders, toasters, electric can openers, digital clocks; some in various states of disrepair, had been lovingly placed along the walls by what type of device it was.
"That's them, isn't it?" Ginny asked from directly behind him.
Harry turned his had and was startled to find that she was now standing so close to him, she was practically leaning into his back. He was amazed that he hadn't been aware of her proximity to him; he turned the rest of his body, hoping that it would cause her back up a bit. It didn't. Now she was still close to him, but almost brushing up against his chest.
"What are you about, Ginny?" he asked, knowing that she was definitely toying with him at this point.
"Isn't it obvious, Harry?" she asked with an arched brow. "I thought you were supposed to be clever."
Without giving him time to reply, she had closed the gap between them, and pressed her lips to his. His jangled nerves seemed to be soothed by this action, and he had just enough time to put his hands on her hips and think, 'This is nice,' before she opened her mouth under his. His heart began to gallop as her tongue danced with his, and she pressed herself against him.
"I thought you'd never kiss me!" she said in between kisses.
"I wasn't going to," he said, breathing heavily. "You kissed me!"
"Well at least we got there," she grinned.
He grinned back before their mouths met again. Harry was surprised when, several minutes later, they heard Mrs. Weasley's voice calling across the garden, "Ginny! Are you out there? It's time to come in and get ready for bed!"
'Now she makes an appearance,' Harry thought with only a little bitterness.
"Coming, Mum!" Ginny called back. "I'm just looking at some of dad's Muggle stuff for my essay!"
"Is Harry out there with you?" Mrs. Weasley called back.
"Yes!" Ginny tried hard to keep the laugh out of her voice as Harry looked stricken and guilty. "He's helping me identify this stuff."
"Well you can finish up tomorrow! Bed time," came the reply.
"Okay! We'll be there in a minute!" Ginny was slightly flushed, but it didn't seem to be from embarrassment.
Harry was trying to get his breathing under control, and working hard to be contrite for what had just happened between himself and his best friend's little sister. The problem was that it was hard to think of her as just Ron's little sister, and even harder to be sorry while she was leaning back toward him for another lingering kiss. When she finally stepped away, Harry found that he had been unconsciously fingering the silver hoop in her navel, and jerked his hand back in dismay. Ginny just smiled impishly and straightened her clothes.
"Mum's right," she said, turning toward the door, then looking back at him over her shoulder. "We can pick up where we left off here tomorrow."
Harry was only vaguely aware of nodding in agreement. The good angel on his shoulder was whispering in his right ear, 'I shouldn't have let this happen!' while the bad angel was whispering in his left, 'I hope she wears that silver hoop again!' He wished both inner voices would mind their own business as he went back to the house, trying not to look guilty when Ginny's Mum asked if they'd made any progress.
"Oh yes," Ginny had said happily. "Loads. Dad's got tons of useful stuff out there, and Harry's agreed to help me with it again tomorrow."
Harry made a production of bending to pick up a quill had had dropped on the floor, so that the woman who treated him like a son wouldn't see him flush at the prospect of being alone in the shed with Ginny again. They gathered their books and papers, and bid Mrs. Weasley goodnight before heading up the stairs. They paused on the landing by Ginny's door, and she kissed him softly one more time. Before either of them could get unwisely carried away, the door to her bedroom opened, and Ron emerged.
"Hey Ron!" Ginny grinned at her brother's red face, and then at Hermione's satisfied one. "Did you get Crookshanks his medicine all right? Hermione said the he fights something fierce when she tries to administer it alone."
"Uh...yeah. Well, er, goodnight!" he seemed a little dazed to Harry as he stepped out into the hallway and started up the stairs to his room.
Ginny waggled her fingers at him cheerfully and said, "Good night! See you in the morning!" She entered her room and shut the door, not noticing that Harry was holding back. He crept to the door and put his ear close to the battered wood to hear what the girls were saying to one another.
"So," came Ginny's excited voice. "Did it work?"
"Yes! Our plan worked perfectly!" Hermione answered, equally excited, and giggling almost uncontrollably (which Harry thought was extremely odd, coming from his most studious friend). "How did it go with you and Harry?"
There was a momentary pause, and then Ginny answered, "Mission accomplished!"
Harry shook his head in amazement, thinking that he should probably be angry at being manipulated that way, but with the taste of her still on his tongue, he found he couldn't muster up an ounce of irritation. He was about to go get Ron's version of what had happened between him and Hermione, when he heard the latter say something more.
"So what's our plan for tomorrow?"
"The swimming pond," Ginny answered with relish. "Let's see how reluctant Ron and Harry are when they see us in our swimsuits!"
He climbed the stairs to find Ron sitting mutely on his bed, looking into empty space, with a dopey grin on his face. When Harry say down and cleared his throat loudly, Ron came back to earth and said bluntly, "She kissed me!"
Harry nodded and said, "I know. Ginny got me in your Dad's shed. It was their plan all along."
"Ginny got you?" Ron asked with surprise. "You snogged my sister?"
Harry shrugged and said, "Yeah. Well, actually she kissed me first."
"I thought she was over you," Ron said, clearly at a loss. "What's she want to be kissing you for?"
"I dunno," Harry grinned. "But I'm not complaining."
Ron was looking at him with a myriad of emotions crossing his face. Harry, for lack of anything better to do, began to take his purchases out of their bags; he intended to put them in his trunk. He didn't remember the twins' gift until the bag bearing their logo tumbled out onto the bed.
"Oh yeah," he said to Ron, more to distract him from the image of his best friend and his sister together, than a desire to divvy up whatever Fred and George had given them. "George said that I'd probably want to share this stuff with you."
"What is it?" Ron asked, temporarily forgetting his discomfiture.
Harry dumped the contents of the bag out on the blanket and blushed
scarlet. Ron too, was beet red, and beginning to stammer. Harry
wasn't sure whether to laugh or just die of embarrassment right
then and there. Among the usual assortment of trick sweets and other
joke shop related items, there were things of a more... mature
matter. He held up a booklet with explicit moving pictures
throughout, and the title written across the front read: 10
Simple Contraceptive Charms and Potions.
There were also booklets offering advice on How
To Tell If A Girl Really Likes You, When To Take The 'Next Step',
or Fantasy, Common Myths About Sex And The Opposite Sex.
"Why would my brothers think you'd need this information?" Ron asked aggressively. "You're not thinking that Ginny..."
'Danger! Danger!' That alarm was going off in Harry's head again as he began to think about the possibilities, but this time he found that thoughts of Ginny in a bikini were much more preferable to mental images of Snape in his unmentionables. Between the girls' scheming and Ron's protective big brother act, the rest of the summer was going to be anything but dull!