Note: Wanted to do a short, sweet Harry/Ginny fic, but it grew… This fic is dedicated to the queens over at Gryffindortower.net, who oversee one of the best HP fanfic archives I've seen so far. (doesn't hurt that they're devoted to my fave pairing and turned me on to the sock stealing craze, either).

Summary: Harry learns that Dark wizards and magic monsters aren't the only ones who can hurt him.

Portable Passions



It was turning out to be a Very Happy Birthday for Harry, no matter how hard the Dursleys tried to ruin it.

Dudley had woken him up by blasting loud, annoying music at six in the morning. This was a real shock, as Dudley had never made the slightest movement a second before seven twenty-five. The fact that he'd gotten up early just to torture Harry was a twisted kind of flattery…but Harry took pride in knowing he'd made Dudley lose some sleep.

Aunt Petunia's breakfast for him was at an all-time low: sardines. No, not even sardines, which would've been too good for him. A sardine. "And don't dare ask for seconds!" she'd snapped when he gave her a disbelieving look. Harry decided to skip breakfast and slipped the sardine into Dudley's oatmeal when no one was looking. He didn't think Dudley would even notice the difference. Dudley didn't.

Uncle Vernon ordered Harry to mow the lawn, trim the hedges, water the flowers, and THEN clean the house from top to bottom…all before he got from work that evening. Harry didn't bother to point out that this was humanly impossible, especially since the Dursleys were never pleased with anything he did. The fact that he merely existed was a curse to them…much the same way Harry felt about Malfoy, and vice versa. But at least Malfoy could double as target practice for hexes; Harry wasn't even allowed to lift a finger (or a wand) at the Dursleys. What good was being a wizard if you couldn't practice spells over the summer?

Still, Harry needed something to do for the rest of the day, and he wasn't about to let Uncle Vernon accuse him of not even trying to do as he'd been told. They'd long since stopped caring about leaving him home alone (although Dudley always worried over his precious stereo system), after finding out he couldn't use magic to destroy it.

So Harry spent the majority of his birthday in the face of the burning sun, mowing the lawn and pruning some of the thorniest hedges he'd even encountered (and that was saying a lot, considering he'd survived third year Herbology and the Forbidden Forest). He suspected that Uncle Vernon did something to the bushes that made them grow thorns, just so Harry could get scratched up trying to cut them down.

Finally, when he'd lost enough blood to make him dizzy (or maybe it was the sweltering heat), Harry stumbled inside to get a glass of water. He'd have to wash the dishes later anyway, so he didn't care much about dirtying them (or the floor with his grass-stained sneakers).

What he DID care about, though, was that the house was suddenly and quite unexplainably spotless. Even the cupboard under the stairs (Harry's former home, which he didn't miss at all) was looking brand new.

Aunt Petunia hardly ever cleaned anything up, she claimed that was why they had Harry in the first place.

Only once before had Harry seen any place so clean: the Hogwarts kitchen, where there were at least a hundred house elves. In a place so much smaller, he reasoned it would only take about ten of them to get so much done. Maybe fifteen, if they wanted it done faster. But then they'd had all morning; it was just about noon now.

That was impossible, though. Surely they would've used SOME magic by now, and Harry would've gotten another notice from the Ministry's Improper Use of Magic Office. But the house was clean, and Harry even forgot about his glass of water as he went back outside to finish up.

Only now, the hedges were done, and the flowers looked very well watered.

Confused, but obviously very happy, Harry took a shower and decided to finish up his summer assignments from Hogwarts. He was halfway done with his griffin essay for Professor Binns, and could imagine how proud Hermione would be…and how shocked (and maybe disappointed) Ron would be. The thought cheered him up a bit, and made the work go a lot faster.

He'd just finished the essay when there was a soft rush of wings at his window. Harry looked up to see Hedwig, his snowy owl, land on his bed, a large box tied to her legs. He quickly relieved her of the burden (she gave his ear an affectionate nip that he decided was a proper gift from her) and gave her two owl treats. She nipped his ear again, then flew to her cage for a well-deserved nap.

Almost instantly, something that felt like a tennis ball slammed into Harry's forehead. It was, of course, Pigwidgeon, Ron's (and apparently Ginny's, too) tiny post owl. As usual, Pig was zooming around the room until Harry managed to capture him in a fist. He quickly removed the tiny package from Pig's leg and reluctantly gave him an owl treat. Harry had to hold Pig the entire time to ensure he wouldn't go slamming into something else (or Harry's forehead again), and as soon as he let go, Pig zoomed out the window, apparently in more of a hurry than usual. He nearly collided with another owl that was from Hermione. Feeling generous, Harry gave this one a treat, too; it was only fair and the owl hadn't even crashed into anything.

Hermione's gift turned out to be a book called Magical Monsters and Their Meanings. It gave detailed descriptions of many different monsters and the common uses of their various parts in spells and potions. Harry realized it was a double gift: it would provide necessary information (Harry ran into monsters on an almost monthly basis) and might even help him out in Potions (he needed all the help there he could get).

Hermione was thoughtful that way (although she'd probably end up facing a monster alongside Harry, too).

Harry couldn't help noticing that she'd bookmarked the Basilisk page as well. "Just in case," she'd written on the note, along with her usual "Love from Hermione."

Ron's gift was much more welcome, since Harry's stomach had started to complain (mostly because it was empty) about the smell of sweets coming from the box. There were Chocolate Frogs, Every Flavor Beans, Cauldron Cakes, and even some Pumpkin Pasties. Harry had gone through a third of the frogs before remembering Pig's package.

Like Pig, it fit easily into his fist, but had a certain weight to it. He was even more surprised to find his name written on the note inside in Ginny Weasley's careful, neat script. "Dear Harry: Sorry if this gets to you a little late, but Mum tells me there have been strong winds around here lately, and I don't know if Pig's strong enough to handle them. I hope he does get this to you; it's awfully important that you have it. I really hope you like it. Love, Ginny."

Harry saw that "Love, Ginny" was a little smudged, as if she'd suddenly started to cry and hadn't moved away from the letter fast enough. The image made his heart leap into his throat as he carefully drew out Ginny's gift.

At first he thought it might be a silver necklace. But then the small pyramid emerged as he pulled the whole thing out of the box.

The first thing about the pyramid that caught Harry's eye was the snake. It was coiled with its head raised, ready to strike. Printed in small yet great detail beneath it was FEAR.

Another side revealed a griffin, with wings outstretched and one paw raised in what had to be a fatal swipe for whoever happened to be the opponent. STRENGTH was the inscription below it.

The third side held a smiling fairy with four beautiful wings, wearing a little sundress. LOYALTY was printed under her.

Harry slowly turned the pyramid over, looking at the base. There was a bird, but not just any bird: a phoenix that looked a lot like Fawkes. EXPERIENCE flashed below him.

The pyramid also came with instructions that Ginny had written herself.

Touch the snake when you're afraid,

My faith will bare you through the shade

Rub the griffin when you must be strong

My power will aid and help you along

Stroke the phoenix when you need advice

Faster response, stroke it thrice

Tickle the fairy and you will see

A loving family, or maybe me…

Harry was very confused, but also touched. He knew for a fact that the Weasleys were not rich, and wondered how Ginny had paid for this. It was the kind of gift he might expect from Hermione; her parents were fairly well off, as far as Muggles were concerned. But then Hermione had never really concerned herself with material things…unless those things were books…

That was when he spotted something moving in the package. It turned out to be a magic picture of Ron & Ginny as kids. Ginny was smiling brightly and waving, and Ron had his arm around her (but was making faces when she wasn't looking). Someone had scribbled on the back, "Our Ickle Ronniekins & Itty Bitty Ginny!" Harry could only laugh; he'd have to thank the twins next time he saw them. He set the photo on his bedside table and just watched it for a while. Ron & Ginny seemed so happy together…until Ron playfully shoved her and ran out of the frame. Ginny was right behind him, half-shouting, half-laughing, as if she expected this sort of thing. And growing up with five other brothers, Harry knew she probably had.

Harry began to think of his own childhood, and wondered how his parents would react if they knew what had become of him. He didn't realize he was clutching the silver pyramid in his right hand as he slipped into a peaceful sleep.

* * * * *

Someone shaking his arm awakened Harry. Figuring it was Dudley, he didn't bother opening his eyes. There were certainly more pleasant ways to wake up.

"Harry Potter must wake up, sir!" a familiar voice insisted.

Harry's eyes snapped open. "Dobby?!"

"Oh, Harry Potter is awake at last!" Dobby said brightly, his ugly face splitting into a grin.

"Dobby…what are you DOING here?!" Harry cried. Dobby had a bad habit of getting him into trouble when trying to help.

"Dobby is wanting to know if Harry Potter is enjoying his birthday present, sir!"

"My present? What—" And then Harry remembered the clean house, and how quickly the yard work was done. "You…did all that?"

The house elf seemed especially pleased at Harry's shock. "Dobby's friends is helping him! Dobby is wanting to do something special for Harry Potter, sir!"

"Dobby…I don't know how to thank you for…well, everything…"

"Oh, Dobby is wanting no thanks, sir! Harry Potter has done so much for Dobby already!" He grabbed Harry's hand and shook it vigorously.

"But….how'd you get all that done without getting me in trouble?" Harry asked.

Dobby grinned again. "Dobby is getting special permission from Headmaster himself!"

So that was it. Dumbledore had sent the house elves, and somehow kept the Ministry from finding out. He really WAS the world's greatest wizard…

"Dobby is having another present for Harry Potter, sir!" Dobby whipped out a pair of thick socks, one red and one yellow, each with a unicorn on the side.

Somehow, Harry thought the socks seemed familiar. "Dobby…where'd you get those?"

Dobby grinned even wider (which didn't help his looks at all). "Dobby is trading with Harry Potter's Sweet Wheezy!"

"With….my WHAT?!"

"Your Sweet Wheezy, sir, your Sweet Wheezy! She is giving Dobby these for Dobby's old socks from Harry Potter, sir!"

Harry blushed as Dobby's meaning sunk in. He'd never heard anyone refer to Ginny as being his (Malfoy calling her his girlfriend didn't count), much less his "Sweet Wheezy." Of course, Dobby would've seen it that way, as Harry had been making an effort to spend more time with her after the Chamber of Secrets, and she was very sweet…

Dobby then became very excited, pointing at Harry's red cheeks. "Yes! That is how Harry Potter's Sweet Wheezy is looking when she is giving Dobby socks for Harry Potter, sir!"

Harry turned scarlet and shook his head. "Dobby, I really appreciate this, but you should go before my…family gets home. And I'm sure Ginny will be glad you helped out."

Dobby froze and suddenly burst into tears, looking like a very ugly baby. "Oh! Dobby is not deserving of such praise from Harry Potter and his Sweet Wheezy, who is so kind, and gentle, and lovely, and—"

Harry found himself blushing again and trying not to think of how lovely Ginny was as he tried to shut Dobby up. But of course, she WAS lovely, and he had a picture of her staring him in the face to prove it. In fact, the little Ginny in the photo was almost as red as her hair, and Ron was doubled up with laughter beside her, pounding the grass with a fist. Obviously, they'd heard the whole thing, and Harry desperately hoped this Ginny had no connection to the real one. "Dobby, please! You'll get me in trouble again!" Thinking quickly, Harry shoved a mismatched pair of green and black socks into Dobby's hands.

But that was a mistake.

"OH! Harry Potter is so generous to Dobby, who is not deserving of—"

"Yes, yes, I know!" Harry agreed quickly, giving him a little shove. "Now go! Hurry!"

Dobby vanished with a loud snap, leaving the scent of smelly socks in his wake.

Harry sighed and collapsed across his bed, staring at the silver pyramid. "I'd give anything to know what you were thinking when you sent this, Gin," he said softly, turning it over in his palm. But before he could give it another thought, sleep had taken him unnoticed again.

* * * * *

The next time Harry woke up, he knew instantly that something was wrong. Not being blessed with what Professor Trelawney called The Sight, he didn't know what exactly, but something in his gut told him he was in danger. Normally, he left that up to his scar, but then, it hadn't really helped in the Chamber of Secrets.

Although he was shocked when something cold and hard pressed against his right temple.

"Don't even blink, kid," growled a quiet voice.

Harry Potter was a wizard, and a pretty good one, too. But before that, Harry Potter had been a frightened little Muggle boy, and that was exactly what he was now. Because for all his power as a wizard, Harry still had enough sense to be afraid of a gun. Without his wand (now resting on the bedside table) to focus his magic, there was a danger of hurting himself and the man, whoever he was.

"Get up," the man ordered, pressing the gun against Harry's forehead. "Slowly."

Harry obeyed, swallowing nervously, his eyes focused on Hedwig's cage. He wondered if she was awake. But then, he hadn't heard a thing until it was too late, and he doubted there was very much she could do, anyway.

"Are you with Voldemort?" he asked quietly.

The man paused. "Who?"

"Voldemort," Harry repeated.

The man spun Harry around and nudged him in the back with the gun, pushing him toward the window. "Don't know what you're goin' on about, kid. Move it."

Harry frowned. If this man didn't know the Dark Lord, then why was he…what? Kidnapping famous Harry Potter? At least, that's what Harry hoped he was doing. All things considered, the man was probably doing him a favor. But if he wasn't working for Voldemort, then who?

"Stay there," the man snapped, leaving Harry by the window. "Don't think I won't shoot, either."

Harry stayed where he was, wracking his brain. It was true he didn't have his wand, but he still knew a disarming spell. He had no idea if it would even work without a wand, but there was no telling what the man planned to do with him. Even if he wasn't a Death Eater, Harry knew that he was only safe in his house and at Hogwarts. If he were removed from either, his life would be in terrible danger. He had a bad feeling the man didn't know or care about any of that.

And something occurred to Harry then.

The gun should've tipped him off at once. This man was not a Death Eater, nor a servant of the Dark Lord. He was a common Muggle criminal, probably just a burglar. That made him no less dangerous, but Harry was almost certain he knew no magic. No self-respecting wizard would need to carry a gun.

He could hear the man going through his drawers, throwing aside his blanket, checking briefly under the bed. He glanced into the window, and saw the man's hand closing around the silver pyramid Ginny had given him. "Please, sir," he heard himself saying, "anything but that. My…Mum gave it to me. It's all she left me before she…before she…"

"Didn't say you could speak," the man reminded him, stuffing the pyramid into his pocket. Then his eyes fell on the wand. He began to reach for that, too.

Harry's brain went into panic mode. If this man were truly a mere Muggle, the wand would be useless. But if Harry was wrong…

He closed his eyes and whispered just loud enough for the man (or perhaps the wand) to hear him, "Expelliarmus!"

Harry heard a surprised grunt, and could the man's startled look in the window as he slammed into the wall, then slumped to the floor. His gun lay near the bed, and Harry instantly began to reach for it.

"Naughty boy," whispered another voice in his ear, just before something heavy crashed down onto his head. The last things Harry heard were Hedwig squawking angrily and heavy footfalls coming into his room…

* * * * *

It was more or less a typical night inside the Burrow. Ron and Fred were locked in an intense game of wizard chess, with George and Ginny looking on eagerly. It was difficult to tell who was winning, as they seemed to be tied at the moment.

But in truth, Ginny's attention on the game had begun to fade. She was really wondering if Pig was all right, and if he'd managed to deliver her package to Harry. They were well aware of the Dursleys' view of magic now, and didn't really expect a prompt answer, or any at all. Still, she knew Pig would only return once he had successfully reached Harry, no matter how long it took.

Suddenly, Ron shouted triumphantly, "Checkmate!"

Fred's jaw dropped in disbelief as Ron grabbed his little sister's arms and swung her around in circles.

"It was luck," Fred muttered after a moment. "Pure dumb luck."

"Whatever it was, you LOST," Ron replied, grinning hugely and hugging Ginny to his side. "George and Ginny are my witnesses. In fact, we should take a picture!"

"Now you're going too far!" Fred protested. "Never gonna happen again, anyway."

"But that's exactly why we should take one," Ginny said faintly. "This might be…the last time…" She trailed off, staring into space.

Ron waved a hand before her face. "Gin? You in there?"

She blinked. "What? Oh, I was just-"

"-thinking about Harry," George murmured a bit too loudly.

Ginny turned bright red. "S-So what if I was?" she muttered, then wished she hadn't.

"Ah, come on out with it, Gin," Fred chimed in. "We know you fancy him."

Ginny's face was now scarlet. "I do not, Fred!" she squealed. "We're just friends!"

"Leave her alone, you two," Ron interrupted. "There's no law against thinking about Harry. In fact, I'd like to meet one person that hasn't thought about him."

George chuckled. "Won't find anyone like that around here, Ron. This here's the headquarters of the Official Harry Potter Fan Club. Isn't that right, Madame President?"

Ginny was as red as her hair now, and desperately wished she could Apparate.

"That's enough, boys," Mrs. Weasley said as she walked into the living room. "Off to bed with all of you."

"Play you in a round of chess, Mum?" Fred offered. "Winner gets to stay up until midnight."

Mrs. Weasley glared at him.

Fred backed off. "All right, we're going! Can't blame a bloke for trying, though."

Ron shook his head. "Come on, Gin. Maybe Pig's back by now."

Ginny smiled hopefully as she followed him upstairs. It was a long shot, but Pig hadn't failed them yet.

Sure enough, the two siblings heard a rapid, shrill twittering as they reached the third landing. Ginny rushed past Ron into her room, where she found Pig hopping excitedly on her pillow, apparently very pleased with himself.

"Looks like he made it, then," Ron commented from the doorway, watching Ginny push an owl treat into Pig's tiny beak. "He's getting faster, I think."

"Well, we only send him to Harry," Ginny pointed out, kissing Pig's head affectionately. "I expect he's learned the way by now." She held him out to Ron. "Thanks for letting me borrow him."

Ron shrugged, in no hurry to take the tiny owl back. "He came back to your room, not mine."

"But that was only to let me know he was done. You told me Harry bought him for you."

Ron paused. Technically, Harry's godfather had given him Pig to replace Scabbers, but he hadn't told Ginny that yet. "Doesn't matter," he said at last. "I was going to share him with you, anyway. At least until we can get you your own owl."

"I thought you didn't like having to share with all of us," Ginny said slowly.

Ron shrugged again. "I don't mind so much when it's just you. At least I know he won't get all banged up this way."

Ginny smiled and reached out to gently squeeze his hand. "Thanks, Ron."

"That's what big brothers are for." Then he frowned, thinking of the twins. "Well, good ones, anyway."

Ginny giggled and gave him a brief hug before watching him head upstairs. "Looks like you'll be with me for a while, Pigwidgeon," she said, patting the tiny owl's head with a finger.

Pig hooted happily and seemed to dance in her fist.

* * * * *

Harry grunted quietly as he woke up. The right side of his head felt like it was on fire, and his ribs had a dull ache in them.

He wracked his brain, trying to recall what had happened back in his room. The men (there had been at least three) had taken him to a warehouse. There they met a fourth man, whose voice Harry had instantly recognized as Peter Pettigrew's. In his panic, he'd shouted nearly every spell he knew. Various charms and spells had gone flying around the warehouse until everyone but Harry was immobilized.

It had taken some intense concentration to summon his wand, but after that, it was easy enough to get out of the ropes they'd bound him with. Harry realized he'd probably be expelled for using magic in front of Muggles, but maybe they'd let him off with a suspension, since Pettigrew was a servant of the Dark Lord and a dark wizard himself.

But Harry's next problem was what he should actually do next. He didn't dare use magic without a reason, and summoning the Knight Bus would've posed too many questions he didn't feel like answering. Then he realized it was best to get in touch with Mr. Weasley. Perhaps he could explain Harry's situation to the Ministry before things got too serious. Of course, he had no way of doing that. He didn't even know exactly where he was, since he'd been unconscious for most of the trip.

Then he remembered Ginny's pyramid. Something about it was still trying to make itself known in the back of his mind. With a cry of "Accio pyramid!" it flew from a kidnapper's pocket and into Harry's hand. Unfortunately, the growing bump on his head seemed to be affecting his memory, and he could only remember the last half of Ginny's instructions.

Stroke the phoenix when you need advice

Faster response, stroke it thrice

Tickle the fairy and you will see

A loving family, or maybe me…

Harry could certainly use some advice, but something made him hesitate. LOYALTY seemed to shine at him from underneath the fairy, and something clicked in his mind. The family must have been the Weasleys, since they were the only family that had shown Harry any loyalty. Perhaps there was some way he could talk to them with the pyramid. But the "maybe me" part really made him wonder. The only way he could think of seeing Ginny was if the pyramid was somehow connected to a fireplace in the Burrow, or…

If the pyramid itself was a Portkey.

Harry almost instantly pushed the thought from his mind. Ginny certainly didn't have enough experience to create a Portkey, even if she was as talented as Hermione. But then, she had two grown brothers, and a father in the Ministry. If they had helped her, maybe it was possible.

Suddenly, the choice had been made for him as Harry sensed movement from the corner of his eye. Without any further hesitation, he rubbed his finger across the fairy (who let out a high-pitched giggle) and immediately felt a familiar jerk behind his navel. The air was suddenly rushing past him, roaring mercilessly in his ears.

The next thing Harry knew, he'd found himself awakening on a very comfortable bed. His initial thought was to get up and figure out where he was, but his body protested and fought his will by sharpening his dull aches, causing him to hiss in pain. Finally, he submitted and collapsed, allowing his weary limbs to rest.

That is, until his left side began to complain about being rested on, forcing him to roll to the right. He was utterly shocked when his face came to rest against something soft and silky. He instantly knew that he was in someone's bed with that someone. Harry swallowed noisily, not sure if he was so frightened because it might be a boy (he was fairly certain he wasn't gay, but then a few years ago, he hadn't thought he was a wizard, either) or a girl (as they usually came with overprotective fathers and brothers).

However, his fears (most of them, anyway) were put to rest when a voice sleepily murmured, "Good job, Pigwidgeon." So it was Ginny, then.

Harry's brain silently screamed at him, "You're in bed with Ginny Weasley!" He wasn't sure whether to be more frightened about that or happy that the pyramid really was a Portkey. At the moment, though, he was too tired to do much about it, and Ginny didn't seem like she would wake up any time soon. So he closed his eyes and lazily wrapped an arm around her, absently wondering how she'd gotten her father to allow her bed to double as a Portkey landing strip…

* * * * *

Ginny woke up, partially because the sun was shining in her face, and partially because Pig was hooting nonstop. She thought he firmly believed it was his duty to be a rooster, as well as a post owl. With a sigh, she started to sit up and give him some breakfast to quiet him (for a while), until she noticed an arm around her waist.

Slowly, Ginny turned around, barely stifling a gasp in her throat. There was a boy in her bed, and his absence of red hair and freckles made it obvious that he wasn't Ron. Of course, Ginny then realized she was being silly. Ron had never needed to sleep in her bed when they were little; it was always the other way around.

Then she took a closer look. The glasses. The black, messy hair sticking out in all directions. The Scar. It could only be Him.

Ginny barely held in another gasp, and then blushed furiously. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, (also known as the Boy-Who-Ginny-Liked by the twins) was in her bed, with his arm around her waist. Then she noticed his clothes were dirty, and a bit of dried blood on his forehead. "Harry!" she whispered, shaking his arm.

Harry mumbled something in his sleep and actually pulled her closer. After a long moment, his eyes snapped open, and he quickly sat up. "Ginny!" he cried, before his face twisted in pain and he collapsed back onto the bed, holding his ribs.

"Harry, you're hurt!" she whimpered, obviously wanting to touch him somewhere to make the pain go away, but uncertain if there actually was any such place at the moment; he seemed to hurt all over.

Harry gritted his teeth. "Ginny…go…get your Mum," he gasped, trying to look calm and failing miserably.

Ginny ran to her door and threw it open. "Mum! MUM! Harry's hurt!" she shouted down the stairs.

"Harry?!" cried Mrs. Weasley in shock.

There was a great thundering on the stairs as Ginny's mother rushed up to her room, while the boys came pounding down from theirs.

George was the first to get there. "Bloody--! Harry! How'd you get here?!"

"And how'd you get in Ginny's bed?!" Fred added, elbowing his twin out of the way.

"Move!" Mrs. Weasley ordered, shoving past them both. "Oh, Harry, what's happened to you?!"

"Harry, why didn't you tell me you were coming?" Ron asked. "We could've-"

"HEY!" Ginny shouted. "I said HARRY'S HURT!"

Everyone got very quiet after that.

"Thanks for that, Gin," Harry sighed before passing out.

* * * * *

Harry woke up to see a brown blur leaning over him, and felt something cold and wet being pressed against his forehead. "Hermione?" he guessed, his voice still thick with sleep.

There was movement above him, and then his glasses were placed carefully on his face. The blur indeed resolved itself into Hermione Granger, and there was a concerned look on her face. "Feeling any better, Harry?" she asked. "Ginny said you looked horrible last time."

Harry smiled ruefully and tried to sit up. "I think I liked her comments on me better when we first met."

"Don't joke, Harry. And don't," she added, pushing him back down gently but firmly, "try to sit up, either. You'll only injure yourself again."

Harry was tempted to say, "Who died and made you my mother?" Then, of course, he realized that only brought up horrible images that were better off not being remembered. "If I didn't know any better, Hermione, I'd say you enjoyed taking care of me."

Hermione frowned. "Well, someone's got to, since you obviously refuse to do it yourself. I mean, really, Harry! Trying to take on four men by yourself!"

Harry sighed, too tired to ask how she'd found out. "It worked, didn't it?"

"Look what you've got to show for it! Bruised ribs and MORE scars! I'd think you'd be tired of people pointing at the one! And if you were anyone else, I'd say you'd gone mad!"

"But since I'm not anyone else, what do you say?"

Hermione's expression softened a bit, and she lowered her voice. "First, I'm glad you're okay. Second, NOW aren't you glad I went over all those charms assignments with you?"

Harry recognized the start of one of her rants, and new very well that there were rarely any short ones. "Hermione…" he said warily.

"THIRD, the next time you get into a fight, have the common sense to have Ron or someone with you!"

"Ron wasn't even there!" Harry tried to protest, but Hermione cut him off again.

"LAST, if you ever do something so cruel as to lie there for over five hours, not moving at all and making your best friends and adoptive family think you're dead or worse, then I'll simply have to kill you myself!"

Harry smiled and gently entwined his fingers with hers. "Thanks for worrying about me, Hermione."

Hermione squeezed his hand. "Thank Ginny. I wouldn't be here if she hadn't owled me."

"And I wouldn't be here if she hadn't set up that Portkey to land in her bed."

Hermione stared at him for a long moment, then gasped and jerked her hand away. "HARRY!"

"I didn't do anything! SHE sent the Portkey!" he cried.

Hermione still looked very suspicious. "Well, you don't have to seem so happy about it."

Harry could feel his cheeks burning. "I NEVER said I was happy about it!"

"Oh, really." Hermione was grinning at him now, as if she'd just gotten a perfect score on a test and didn't want to seem TOO proud of it, but really was.

"Why are you looking at me like that?!" he demanded.

"No reason," Hermione murmured. "Would you like some ice for your cheeks, too?"

Harry groaned and hid his face in the pillow.

Hermione giggled and patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, I won't say anything to Ron."

"Either way, you'd still be short one best friend in about two hours."

"Don't be stupid, Harry. If Ron killed you, I'd never speak to him again."

Harry grinned. "Funny you should say that, because when we first met you…"

Hermione frowned, looking suspicious. "What?"

"Oh, nothing…"

* * * * *

"Do you think Harry's okay?" Ginny asked, sipping her tea.

"Not much to do now but wait," Ron replied. "Hermione will tell us if anything changes."

"I'll tell you what should change: Harry's address," George said.

"No way Dumbledore can say he's safer with those Muggles now," Fred agreed. "Looks like you might have a new roommate soon, Ron."

Ginny's face lit up. "You really think he'd let Harry stay with us?"

Fred grinned. "Looks like he'll have to be the mascot of his own fan club."

"How come I've never seen any proceeds from this club?" asked a slightly annoyed voice from the stairs.

Everyone turned to see Harry limp into the room, leaning on Hermione's shoulder.

There was a red blur of motion, and Harry suddenly found Ginny's arms wrapped around his waist. "I was so worried about you," she mumbled into his chest.

Harry lifted her chin up, gently kissing her forehead. "Thanks for the birthday present. It turned out to be a real life saver."

Ginny blushed and looked at the floor. "Just returning the favor."

"Hey, don't get too chummy over there," George called.

"Yeah, that kiss was a little too close to her lips, mate," Fred agreed.

"Way too close," Ron muttered, shooting Harry a dirty look.

"Oh, shut up, you three!" Ginny cried, whirling on them. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Harry!"

Hermione, in an unusual show of levity, suddenly went into coughing fit that sounded strangely like "Chamberofsecrets!" She instantly recovered and looked at the boys expectantly.

Ron's lips twitched, and he looked as if he might laugh for a moment.

Fred sighed. "Well, if even Hermione can make a joke, I guess we were overdoing it."

"Hey!" Hermione shouted, clearly offended.

"He's got a point, though," Ron said. "The last time you made me laugh was when you smacked Malfoy."

"Oh, really? Then maybe I'll show you how good I am at tickling charms one day."

Ron wisely took a few steps back.

Ginny cleared her throat. "If you're all quite done, Harry and I are going to have a talk." She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and added, "In my bedroom." With that, she turned on her heel and dragged Harry up the stairs before anyone could think to stop her.

"Mum's not going to like that," Ron muttered.

George smirked. "You were going to TELL her?!"

"Then we'd get in trouble for letting it happen!" Fred added.

"Anyway," George went on, "we'd just say we didn't see anything, and it'd be your word against ours."

"What?!" Ron frowned. "Well, Hermione saw it!"

Hermione blinked innocently. "Saw what?"

Ron glared at her. "I'll get you for this, one day."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "You won't. Who would help you with your homework?"

"We have to BEG you to do that much!"

"You wouldn't need to beg me if you studied more!"

Ron opened his mouth to argue, when he was suddenly bumped from behind. Before he could stop himself, he found his lips mashed against Hermione's. Ron turned bright red and jumped back, only slightly relieved to see Hermione do the same.

"Direct hit!" Fred crowed, doubling over with laughter.

"We have snoggage!" George announced, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.

Ron was about to kill them both when he realized Hermione was coming closer to him and her face was no longer red. Time seemed to stand still as she wrapped her arms around his neck and brought his head down, kissing him soundly on the lips. Fred and George's laughter faded away as Ron hesitantly wrapped his arms around Hermione's waist.

Nearly ten seconds later, Hermione finally broke the kiss. "I assume I'm forgiven?" she asked breathlessly, still managing a dazzling smile.

Ron blinked a few times. "What?" he panted, looking confused.

"Never mind." Hermione grabbed Ron's hand and pulled him toward the stairs. "Your room's at the top, right?"

Ron nodded dumbly, unable to take his eyes off her. "Last time I checked…"

Hermione led him up the stairs, throwing a knowing smile over her shoulder at the twins.

* * * * *

"…and this is from my ninth birthday party," Ginny said, holding out another photo.

Harry smiled as he got a good look. Bill and Charlie were kneeling on either side of a much smaller Ginny, her lips stained with what might have been Chocolate Frogs. In the background, the twins were holding Ron upside down by his ankles, threatening to drop him. They never actually did, but Ron was still fighting like mad as his face began to turn red.

"Makes me wish I'd had a proper birthday party at least once," Harry said.

Ginny frowned. "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry! I didn't mean to-"

"No, it's all right." He gave the photo back to her. "I like seeing pictures of you."

Ginny's face flushed and she quickly turned away, trying to convince herself that he meant pictures of the family, not just her.

"I don't suppose you have any of me?" he asked after a minute.

"Oh, sure," Ginny said as she darted to her dresser, pulled out a stack of pictures, then sat down next to him on the bed. "There's got to be a few somewhere."

Although there were quite a bit more than a few. Harry had never seen himself in so many poses: racing across the sky on his Firebolt, emerging from the Potions dungeon looking irate, asleep in the common room with Quidditch Through the Ages open in his lap, and sitting with Ron and Hermione in the Great Hall. Harry's favorite was of a spectacular upside down capture of a Snitch during practice. He looked as if he might fall off his broomstick at any moment, but the Snitch was still in his fist, no matter how much it fought.

"Colin Creevey took most of them," Ginny murmured by way of explanation. "He was trying to start up a fan club for a while, but when the idea bombed, he gave most of the pictures to me."

Harry had a feeling that had been around the time he was suspected of being the heir of Slytherin, but didn't say so. "I don't see you in any of these, though."

Ginny blushed. "Well, I was in a few. Look, here's one."

It was a photo of Ron and himself playing chess. Hermione was looking over Ron's shoulder, while Ginny had squeezed into a chair with Harry. Occasionally, she would whisper something in Harry's ear, and he would move a piece on the board. Ron would instantly frown and push Hermione away, as if blaming her.

Harry and Ginny would then laugh, looking as if they might fall out of the chair. There was also a reddish tint to Ginny's cheeks that he suspected had nothing to do with how much she was laughing.

"I remember this," he said faintly.

"I should hope so. You won."

"We won," Harry corrected, looking up at her. "I've never beaten Ron without help."

"I was always the best at chess."

"Smart, talented, and beautiful, then."

Ginny found herself staring into his emerald eyes, and was unable to turn away.

"So are you going to tell me about the pyramid, or do I have to ask Hermione to talk your ear off?"

Ginny blinked and smiled. "It was Professor Dumbledore's idea, really."

"Are you sure about that?" Harry asked.

"Well…I may have brought it up," Ginny muttered.

"Brought what up?"

"A way of…keeping you safe," she said, turning red again. "Safer, I mean. Not that you can't take care of yourself or anything, but I-"

"I know," Harry said gently, smiling at her.

Ginny looked away. "Well, he helped me make the pyramid, and then turned it into a Portkey. We agreed it should be our little secret. The phoenix would've taken you to his office, you know."

Harry chucked. "Maybe you should've written a Muggle version of the instructions, then. I'm used to those."

Ginny smiled. "Sorry. I just wanted to make it more fun."

"It was." He paused. "Gin?"

"Yes, Harry?" She tried not to sound too anxious, since he was staring at her again.

"Have you been trading socks with Dobby?"

She stared at him and nearly laughed. "Maybe…"

"You have! I bet you've got some of mine on right now!" With that, he dove for her ankles.

Ginny squealed and tried to move away, but Quidditch (and fighting monsters to the death) had made Harry quite fast, and even though he wasn't at full strength, she was easy prey.

"Ah ha!" Harry cried as he yanked off her shoes. "And I suppose everybody has a pair of socks with brooms and Snitches on them?"

"Quidditch is quite popular," Ginny replied, trying not to laugh.

"That may be, but those are definitely Dobby-made socks. I can tell because one is bigger than the other."

"So we have a unique fashion sense. That doesn't prove anything!" She grinned at him. "Anyway, what are you going to do about it?"

Harry thought for a moment before handing back her shoes. "I suppose I'll have to let you keep them. You did save my life."

Ginny froze. "But it was the pyramid-"

"Which you gave to me. It was definitely the best birthday present I've ever gotten." He hesitantly reached out and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "It's made me realize something, too."

"Like…what?" Ginny asked softly, looking up at him.

"That I don't belong with the Dursleys, and they never really wanted me in the first place, anyway. I'm a wizard, and I belong in a wizard family. So tomorrow, I'm taking the pyramid straight to Dumbledore to see if he'll let me stay here."

"In…my room?"

Harry blinked. "Um…I was thinking Ron's room, but if you really want me here…"

Ginny turned bright red. "No…I didn't mean…"

"I think I know," Harry said quietly, "exactly what you meant." He tilted her face up to him. "I need to tell you something, Gin."

Ginny didn't even blink, and trembled slightly as his fingers brushed her neck.

"I know I'm a fascinating subject in the history books, and that's why a lot of people find me interesting." He looked into her eyes. "But I want you to forget all that. In fact, try to forget I'm famous."

"Why?"

Harry paused. "Because I don't want you to like the famous me. I want you to like the regular me."

Ginny smiled. "But that's why I like you, Harry. There's nothing regular about you. You've got this…thing about you that just makes you so…good and pure."

"Pure? You think I'm pure?"

Ginny blushed. "Well, to me you are."

"In that case, I've got a question."

"What?"

Harry seemed to be thinking over his request. "Would you mind terribly if I wanted to kiss you?"

Ginny's heart skipped a beat. "Where?" she asked after a moment.

Harry's eyes widened and he coughed quite loudly. "Er…the usual spot."

Ginny frowned. "My forehead?"

Harry did his best not to turn red. "No, no. Not usual for us, usual for…everyone else."

"Oh." Ginny bit her lip. "Why?" she asked without thinking.

Harry stared at her. "You're asking me why I want to kiss you? Somehow, I didn't think that would come up…"

Ginny blushed a bit. "It's not that. It's just…well…I never thought you'd want to. With Ron and the twins breathing down your neck, I thought you'd always see me as your best friend's little sister."

"Trust me, Gin. The last thing I want you as is a little sister." Harry paused. "Well, this isn't working out at all like I thought it would."

Ginny giggled. "Sorry. I guess it was my fault for asking questions."

"Want to start over?" Harry asked.

"Sure, okay." Ginny smiled, and her brown eyes seemed to dance merrily.

Harry cleared his throat. "Ginny, would you mind terribly-"

"Not at all," she interrupted, grinning at him.

"Well, now you've gone and ruined it!"

"Harry? Shut up and kiss me."

"And now you're just being rude…"

"Harry."

"Heh. Sorry, Gin. Really."

"Don't tell me you're sorry, show me."

Harry leaned forward, his eyes solely focused on Ginny's anxious face. She was nervous, he knew, but excited at the same time. A lot like himself, he thought, tilting his head to catch her lips at the right angle. Instinctively, his hands sought out her waist and drew her closer to him.

Ginny swallowed noisily before daring to brush her lips against his, then pressed more firmly. She felt warm all over, as if she were about to go somewhere by Floo powder and had stepped into the fireplace, only to forget where she was headed. Anyway, it was very hard to think of anything but Harry's lips.

Harry desperately inhaled the scent of her as they kissed, never wanting it to be far from his mind. Ginny was a myriad of wonderful smells: the soap she'd used that morning on her face, the traces of shampoo in her hair, and what might've been Chocolate Frogs on her lips. The thought caused him to grin, and he was forced to pull away so he could snicker.

Ginny pulled back as well, red-faced and breathless. "What?" she panted, obviously confused.

Harry brushed his thumb against her lips. "You've been eating Chocolate Frogs. Makes for an interesting kiss."

Ginny blushed. "But an enjoyable one, right?"

"Well, of course it was." Harry grinned at her and stroked her cheek. "I mean…it's you, Gin."

Ginny's face softened, and she looked as if she might burst into tears. "Harry…"

He shushed her and pulled her into his lap, pressing his lips to her forehead. "I just thought of a problem."

"What?" Ginny asked, alarm sinking into her voice.

"Ron's going to be suspicious when I call you my little Chocolate Frog," he said with a straight face.

It took a long moment, but then they both laughed loudly, nearly falling off the bed.

"So what are we going to tell him?" Ginny asked quietly.

"That we're in love and there's nothing he can do about it. If he kills me, you'll never forgive him. Simple as that," Harry replied confidently.

Ginny smiled and leaned her head against his chest. "Sounds good to me…Injured Angel."

Harry paused. "That's quite possibly the worst pet name I've ever heard."

Ginny swatted his head, but then they were both laughing again, and finally Mrs. Weasley went up to see what all the fuss was about. But when she found them, she merely smiled and closed the door quietly. A moment later, the laughter died away quite suddenly, and she chuckled, knowing she'd made the right choice.