I do not own Harry Potter.
Dedicated to DwellingOnDreams7, whose kind reviews inspired me to start writing again right away.
"Get in here, Weasley!" Claire's voice cheered as she wrenched open the door. The stylish black curls she had fixed for the Quidditch party were now knotted into a ponytail at the base of her neck, but they were obviously not slept in.
"You should know… I wasn't hiding," Ginny muttered, dropping her scarf onto the chair by her bed, so as to avoid looking at her room-mates.
"Of course not."
"I just don't think it's any of your business," she commented, fighting the surge of blood to her cheeks. From a distance, the Fat Lady's snore sounded quite like a snort, but probably, she was used to Ron mimicking a freight train.
Claire shook her head, patronizingly, while Mackenzie broke away from her conversation with Lynn to howl at her, "That may be true, but Potter still snogged you in front of the whole Common Room! Trust me, it will be all people talk about tomorrow."
"And that girl, Romilda Vane…. I'll bet she's willing to give you a hard time."
Mackenzie twirled her wand around in circles, "I'd like to see her try. Any excuse to wipe that idiotic smirk off her face…."
"I'm fully capable of taking care of myself," Ginny huffed, resting on top of the covers of her four-poster. The light from the wall-mounted lamps shone warmly on the tapestries and the knotted rug lying in front of the hearth. Usually, this was the place she liked to escape from the popular girls. After detentions, she would always slog up these stairs, the burden of her cramped fingers and tired eyes lifting significantly with each step she took, but now… the only haven she could picture was running back into the circle of Harry's arms, where she knew, but didn't care, how people saw her.
It hadn't been so long ago that she learned how dangerous it was to trust others, but Harry. Wasn't. Tom, He didn't absorb her fears and then fling them back at her when she was most vulnerable. His voice, as it drifted to her during their walk by the lake, had filled her with shots of adrenaline which allowed her to view her own strength. How could a heart which beat so loudly be anything less than fierce?
Harry understood, as no-one else had, the childish fantasy she'd harbored over The Boy-who-Lived. It wasn't to be saved by him, like some bloody idiot locked up in a cellar with talking mice. Didn't Cinder-foot know Alohomora? No, Ginny had always dreamed of being a hero and, magically enough, with Harry by her side, she felt powerful enough to do it. "Really guys," she said, reading the doubt in their expressions, "No fighting my battles for me."
Mackenzie sighed in frustration, tossing her think oak wand onto the dresser side table near her old DA coin, "Thanks a lot. I haven't practiced disarming anyone in ages."
Claire waved her hand, sweeping the minor problem away like it was cobwebs, "Snape's big fat nose always makes for a good target."
There was a lull in the conversation. Ginny prayed to Merlin that she would fall asleep so that she could deal with her supposed 'friends' in the morning, but each time she squeezed her eyes shut, her other senses went into overdrive observing the room. It wasn't just quiet; it was weighted silence. Everyone was holding their breath. If one of them, most likely Claire, keeled over in the hope of getting Saturday's gossip today, then Ginny would be forced to carry around a lot of guilt, in addition to the dead body.
Out of these entirely selfish concerns, she forced herself to growl, "You can ask three questions." She stuck two fingers proudly into the air and then raised a third before anyone could comment. It was close to 2 AM, after all. The girls put their heads together, chattering excitedly. Ginny stared for a moment as Lynn's pale blonde hair mixed with Claire's black, two snakes wrapped around each-other.
Finally, they reached agreement: "When did he start to like you?"
Ginny beamed at them, her freckles rearranging themselves with the up-turn of her cheeks, "He says he has from the beginning of this year, and that he was a right idiot for not telling me sooner." Claire gave her the look. "Okay, so maybe I told him to say that last part. It doesn't mean it's not true."
Mackenzie gave a low whistle, "Gotta give the guy some credit for letting Dean on the Quidditch team, then. I don't think I could stand watching Seamus stare after his girlfriend for hours on end." Her long-standing crush on the sixth year was no secret to the people in the dorm and Lynn patted her back, consolingly.
"Maybe Harry's just not the jealous type?" Claire wondered, gazing out the window at the tower opposite. Flags on the turrets were being pummeled by the wind and a lone owl swooped across the harvest moon.
"Is that one of your questions?" Ginny raised herself from her prone position in time to witness their pure indignation. She might not have been a prankster like her brothers, but she had grown up in a chaotic household and learned what levers to push, when.
"You're not getting off that easily, Weasley," Claire crossed her arms over her chest. "Besides, I'm forgetting the way he floated into the Tower after he caught you making out with Dean…." Ginny's mouth gaped and closed, as it was obvious Claire was going to explain. "You were upset with Ron for trying to control your life and we decided to give you some room, so we went downstairs and sat in the big squashed bean-bag chairs in the corner. We had a straight shot at the portrait hole when it swung open, and there he was, acting like his feet had been cut from under him. And, of course, Ron was pale, too…."
"Yes, how is your brother taking this whole thing? You dating his best mate?" Mackenzie mentioned curiously. Two hands slapped her, not jokingly, but not hard either, and she instantly turned chagrined. "Sorry?"
"Well now that she's asked- point blank….?"
Ginny scoffed, the sleeves of her pajama top slipping off her thin shoulders some, "Oh, I'm sure I've only heard the first of it from Ron. He's always going to use it against Harry that he's done him this huge favor by giving us permission- permission!- to date. But, honestly…. They've been friends long enough. Harry should know that whatever Ron rants about the most" cough "Hermione" cough "is usually what he's happiest about. If he can't put me in a convent, then there's no one he'd rather see me with than Harry."
Ginny's voice pandered out. She could only guess how the rest of her family would take the news. Her mum would be thrilled about it and probably begin preparations for a wedding, never mind the one already in the works for Bill and Fleur. Her dad wouldn't be as enthusiastic, but he'd approve, no doubt. Fred and George hadn't been thrilled to hear about her last two boyfriends, but she thought, they would make an exception for Harry. Her oldest brothers were going to prove to be the sticking point, but they were also the most susceptible to her puppy-dog face or her Curse of the Boogies….
"Ginny! Ginny!" It took Claire a minute to get her attention. She blinked several times in a row since her eyes had dried out from simply staring into space.
"Oh, yes, what will your last inquiry be?" she asked, wryly. "What happened in his relationship with Cho? What are his intentions? Is he a good kisser? Mackenzie's dying to ask, I know." She wasn't very comfortable discussing the answer to any of these, but she would fulfill her promise. There was a chance it might even come in handy later. When they came begging for more details, she could tell them that they'd already dug as far as they could into her private affairs and her lips were sealed from now on.
Which is why it shocked her, down to the bone, when Claire clasped both Ginny's hands in her own and asked seriously, "Do you love him?"
She went starkly pale and then, like a dam cracking under the force of the ocean, her face turned red all at once. "I-" she stuttered.
"Remember, it's us, Ginny. We're not about to say you're too young, or that this is too new…. Are you in love with Harry Potter?"
They were all leaning forward slightly, anticipating, and she could sense her old shyness creeping up again, so she forced herself to study the individuals, Lynn smiled serenely, her wispy form swaying from side to side with the tick of the clock. Mackenzie made a fist of solidarity, orange and purple cloth bracelet distracting against her skin. Finally, there was Claire, looking completely earnest. She gulped and then gave her room-mates a hesitant nod.
"Eek!" Claire shrieked, tackling her in a hug. "I am so happy for you."
"Yeah, way to go, Ginny!"
She was feeling fairly drunk on congratulations and when it threatened to turn into an all-night party after she'd already played a hard game against Ravenclaw, she commanded everyone to bed, still laughing. "Good night," she called into the darkness and eventually heard two murmurs in reply.
"Claire?" she queried, at a bit lower volume, since their four-posters were next to each-other along the east side. No response. "Claire?"
"Can I ask one more question, Ginny?" She pleaded, all in a rush. Ginny groaned and covered her head with a pillow.