Part of the "NonKentVerse" which is were (for a short time) I'm writing stories with pairings I don't normally ship. This is one of the ones I hate the most, so I thought I should tackle this one first.
I tried really hard to get myself into this. I think it came out like I was trying to hard to make it cute and fluffy. I hope you like it anyway!
"I have just the book you need in my dormitory, Ginny!" Hermione said excitedly. "I'll be right back."
"Hermione," Ginny groaned, surveying the array of books already strewn over the table in the corner of the common room where Hermione was helping her with OWL revision.
"Don't worry, Ginny," Hermione said briskly. "It's no trouble."
Ginny watched her leave, then allowed her head to fall to the table with a thud. Harry was sitting in a nearby armchair reading a Quidditch magazine; she addressed him without lifting her head. "I know you already did it once, when I was in first year, but Harry, you've got to save me. I can't take much more of this."
"All right," he said eagerly, closing his magazine and standing. Ginny jerked her head up and stared at him.
"You mean it? I'm going spare."
"Just leave a note for her. Taking a break. Be back later."
"Right," Ginny said, scrawling this hastily on a bit of old parchment and leaving it on Hermione's open book. "So-now what?"
"Follow me," Harry said, a puckish grin on his face. No one else was in the common room; the day was beautiful and warm and most of Gryffindor house seemed to be outdoors or just doing things that had nothing to do with schoolwork. Harry took Ginny's hand and led her to the steps to the boys' dormitories, a place she hadn't been since her first year. Her heart thudded quickly in her chest as she followed him, feeling both anticipatory and extremely nervous about being discovered. When they reached the dormitory for the sixth year boys she hesitated.
"Erm, Harry, what if someone-"
"Oh, don't worry about that. You wait here. I'm not mad; this is probably the least-private place in the entire castle. Neville and Seamus were playing Exploding Snap when I was up here twenty minutes ago, and-" They heard an explosion, then a combination of groans and laughter. "-I think they are yet," he finished, wrinkling his nose at the smell of singed hair. "I'll be right back," he told her, kissing her quickly.
"Wait!" she whispered, looking around nervously. "What if Ron comes up?"
"Then you can point out to him that you're waiting for me outside our dorm. Just tell him you're skiving off OWL revision with Hermione; if anyone can understand that he can."
"That's true," she agreed. He nodded and slipped into the dormitory as another explosion punctuated the card game.
"Good one!" Seamus cried loudly before Harry closed the door, muffling the noise again. He was back in less than a minute, carrying his rucksack over his shoulder. After closing the door, he took a strange, silvery iridescent blanket out of the bag.
"What's that? I remember seeing it when I-"
"-when you were going through my things, hunting for the diary?" Harry said, grinning at her. She felt her face grow hot and nodded. "Invisibility Cloak. Put this on and you can go anywhere in the entire castle."
His grin was contagious; Ginny smiled at him, feeling like a co-conspirator. "Really? Anywhere?"
"Oh, and I got this, too," he added, showing her what seemed to be a very old piece of parchment, folded up into a grimy square. "I don't think we'll need to use it, but if I've got it then Ron and Hermione can't use it to hunt us down," he explained as he leaned down and kissed her quickly again, so that Ginny had to wait a moment to ask her question-not that she minded.
"How would they use a piece of old parchment do that?" she asked innocently.
"Never mind right now... I'll explain another time," he said, stuffing it into the rucksack.
"It's Fred and George's old map, isn't it?" she asked, her arms crossed on her chest.
Harry dropped his jaw. "How did you-?" Then he laughed and said, "The twins told you about it, didn't they?" She nodded, smiling slyly.
"I wouldn't have dared to go into your dormitory if I hadn't had that. They didn't ask me why I wanted to borrow it and I didn't tell them."
She also didn't tell Harry that she'd been initially disgruntled upon learning that Harry had become the map's new owner, but had decided that they were right; Harry had more need of it than she-or the twins-did. "On the other hand, if you really want to borrow it, I'm sure Harry wouldn't mind. Just ask him," Fred had said to her, his eyes merry. She'd wanted to hex him; he knew very well that she wouldn't have dared to do such a thing.
In her second year she was still dropping things and walking into walls whenever Harry was around; she was lucky she hadn't maimed herself trying to get out of the hospital wing after giving him the singing get-well card. This was especially fortunate, as it would have forced her to stay in the infirmary with Harry, so that Madam Pomfrey could heal her, and she might have got caught in a vicious cycle.
Harry grinned and kissed her again, surprising her this time. "What was that for?" she wanted to know.
"A girl after my own heart," he said cryptically, draping the Cloak over her. She was glad that she was covered up, as this made her face feel rather hot again; she was quite certain that she was as red as her hair. "Come on," he whispered, clearly not realizing the effect his words had had on her. "I'll keep the portrait open long enough for you to go through."
When they returned to the common room, however, Hermione was standing next to the table where Ginny had been working, holding the note Ginny had left for her. Two vertical lines were deeply etched between Hermione's brows.
"Harry! There you are. Hmm... Ginny's not with you, so there goes that idea. Have you seen her?"
"Erm, seen her? I don't see her right now," he said innocently.
The lines between Hermione's brows deepened. "Very funny, Harry. Of course you don't see her right now. Neither do I; I'm not blind." Ginny held her breath; for a moment she thought Hermione was going to say that Ginny wasn't invisible-and then remember that she could be. Hermione sighed. "Ginny left me a note saying that she's taking a break, so I assumed she was going off somewhere with you. She has to prepare for her exams, Harry! I thought you cared about her?"
Harry looked hurt by this. "Of course I do, Hermione," he said evenly.
"Well, do you have any ideas about where she might be?"
"Ideas?" Harry repeated, perking up. "Oh, I've got loads of ideas. Perhaps she went down to the pitch, to fly around for a bit. Or there's Myrtle's bathroom..."
"Myrtle's bathroom?" Hermione looked alarmed.
"Yeah. I know that you don't fancy spending time with Myrtle..."
"Definitely not," Hermione confirmed, sitting down abruptly. "I've had my fill of her, thanks very much. But I'm surprised that Ginny would want to spend time with her, either. Does she not know that Ginny is your girlfriend now?"
"Oh, I think she knows. Myrtle's over me." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "She fancies Draco Malfoy now."
Hermione made a face. "I forgot. Oh, well. Where are you off to? Are you done all of your homework?"
"Yes, Hermione," he said with a sigh. "I may go down to the pitch to fly around for a bit myself. If I see Ginny, do you want me to tell her you're looking for her?"
"Please," Hermione replied, her head in her hands. "I don't know why I try... last year with you and Ron, this year with Ginny..."
"Ron and I did get seven OWLs each," he reminded her. "It won't do her any harm to take an hour off, surely. You could probably do with a break yourself."
He turned to leave; Hermione called after him, "If you see her, ask her to meet me back here in an hour, all right?"
"Fine, fine," he agreed, holding the portrait open long enough for Ginny to go through. When they were both in the corridor and the portrait had closed behind them, Harry whispered, "Come on." Ginny followed under the Cloak as Harry strode away from Gryffindor Tower. She lost track of how many turns and stairs he'd taken before he opened a classroom door and whispered, "Ginny? Still with me?"
"Right here," she whispered back.
They went into the classroom, which had large anatomical drawings of magical creatures lining the walls, including several breeds of dragon, a griffin, a hippogriff, a phoenix and a basilisk. Ginny took the Cloak off and looked around while Harry magically locked the door. Professor Kettleb-something had been written in an ungainly scrawl on the blackboard, as if the chalk had been held between the writer's teeth. It seemed to have been there for years and a thick layer of dust lay everywhere.
"Erm," she said, nodding at the basilisk diagram, "as far as atmosphere goes..."
Harry laughed. "Ignore all of this stuff. This is where they used to have Care of Magical Creatures before Hagrid started teaching. There's a large cage through the door over there that has a mess of bones in it yet." He took the Cloak from her and stuffed it into the rucksack again before dropping the bag on the floor.
"No idea. Don't know what ate it or what was eaten." He put his arms around her and pulled her close to him. "And I don't care," he added, leaning down to kiss her.
Ginny slid her arms around his neck and reveled in the feel of him, his hair under her fingers, his body pressed against hers, his lips surprisingly soft. After a while Harry broke the kiss and moved his mouth down her throat; Ginny gasped with shock at the coldness of his glasses on her skin, laughing as she removed them from his face and placed them on a nearby desk. After this he zeroed in on her neck again as if he were a starving vampire. Ginny closed her eyes, running her hands down Harry's shoulders and onto his chest; she loved to touch him, still getting used to the idea that all she had to do was have the time and place and a little privacy and she could touch-and kiss-Harry as much as she liked.
Not that reason had anything to do with the rush she felt when Harry moaned against her neck. She ran her hands lightly down his chest again, getting the same result. She seemed to be hitting a certain spot-or spots-that made him sound especially stimulated, and she couldn't help wanting to repeat the action to see if he responded the same way again.
"Oh, Ginny," he gasped against her throat, followed by his diving for her mouth once more. She was surprised; he'd kissed her frantically and passionately before-and in locations with far less privacy-but never quite like this. She moved her fingers furtively to his shirt buttons as they continued to kiss, finally able to push the fabric aside and feel the smooth skin of his chest. She was curious to know what was causing this reaction and needed to see where she was touching him to find out. This time she was the one who broke the kiss and moved her lips down to his neck, something she'd never done with Michael or Dean. He didn't gasp again but held her waist tightly and made a noise as if he were enjoying his favorite food.
"Mmmmm... Undressing me, Ginny?" he whispered into her hair, sounding amused.
"Just a little," she whispered back as she moved her mouth down to his collar bone. "I was-curious about something."
"Mmmmm," Harry hummed again as her mouth moved lower. "Be as curious as you like," he added with a chuckle.
She was able to see his chest now as she moved her mouth and hands over it; Harry was quite thin, more so than she'd anticipated, but he had what appeared to be the promise of future muscles under the pale skin. His ribs made her want to take him home so that her mother could feed him meat pies, then take him out to the old orchard to have her way with him...
When she lightly brushed her fingers over his nipples he gasped again, thrusting his hips at her, and she felt incredibly stupid; she knew about her own sensitivity and should have realized that boys were the same, even though they would never use their bodies to feed babies. Now that she understood, she had to move her mouth down, tentatively running her tongue over a dark pink nub of flesh, while she flicked her fingers over the other side of his chest.
The effect that this had on Harry was shocking and flattering to Ginny, but also a little frightening. It was shocking that Harry actually started growling in his throat; for a moment she thought of asking him whether he needed to go to Madam Pomfrey for Pepper-Up potion. Then she realized that this was a favorable reaction to what she was doing, so she decided to take it as a compliment. The frightening part was that it had not only been very easy to get Harry worked up to the point that he seemed to have some sort of growling monster inside him, but she liked knowing that she'd done that.
It certainly didn't make it any easier to go "slow and steady". She stopped and looked at him helplessly, trying to bring her eyes up to his face, to not stare at his chest; thin as he was, it was quite nice. Harry seemed very different without his glasses; she hadn't realized how much they defined his features. He appeared extremely vulnerable without them, somehow, and she felt more than ever that she ought to apologize.
"I'm sorry, Harry," she said mournfully.
He frowned. "Sorry? For what?"
"Well, first I ask you to be the one who puts the brakes on, and then I-well, I do this," she said, gesturing at his open shirt and glancing wistfully at his chest before lifting her eyes to his.
"This? Oh, you mean you thought this could lead to our going too fast? I wouldn't worry about that, Ginny. I mean-yes, I liked what you were doing. I liked it a lot, especially that you wanted to do it so badly," he said with a sly grin, pulling her close to him and rubbing her back slowly, so that she thought she might start growling. "But believe me-I have plenty of experience at staying under control even when you're making me feel like Ron would kill me if he knew what I was thinking about you," he said, breathing deeply through his nose and gazing into her eyes in the way that made her feel like her blood was on fire.
"So-so this is all right?" she asked, running her hand down his chest again; he drew his breath in sharply.
"Trust me," he replied, kissing her on each cheek and then paying attention to her neck again. "It's brilliant."
"Speaking of brilliant," she countered as his mouth continued to do wonderful things, "I just-oh, yes-erm, just wasn't-mmmm-you know, because of the growling-"
Harry pulled back from her for a moment and stared at her. "Growling?"
"You-you didn't realize that you were growling?"
"Erm, no. I-" He blinked and shook his head. "Growling. Really?"
Ginny laughed and gave him a smacking kiss in the middle of his chest. "Yes. Definitely growling. I assumed that meant that you liked what I was doing."
"That's true. I definitely did..." There was a growl in his voice now as he leaned down again. Ginny wasn't certain how long they continued to kiss; she ran her hands over his bare chest and then around to his back, enjoying the feel of his skin under her fingers as she moved them lightly down his spine. It seemed that no matter what she and Harry did together it felt natural and right; that had never been true for her with Michael or Dean, except for stopping things from going too far. That was the one thing that felt unnatural with Harry: showing restraint.
Eventually Harry pulled back, framing her face with his hands and gazing at her that way again. Ginny felt like her heart had stopped; she could tell that he loved her and she was certain that she loved him, but despite this she was glad that they'd only said I more-than-fancy you so far. He was not quite seventeen and she was not quite sixteen. There was time.
"Now it's time for you to be a good girl and go back to the common room so that Hermione can torture you. It makes her happy." He grinned and kissed her all over her face between words.
"Do you mean to tell me that I haven't been a good girl?" she asked coyly, running her fingers down his chest again so that his growl reasserted itself.
"Oh, you've been a very, very bad girl," he whispered throatily as his mouth went to her neck. "Don't worry," he murmured against her skin; "I like it when you're bad... Keep it up..."
He sucked at the pulse point on her neck and his words made her feel wicked; she ground against him with her hips as she whispered, "Keep this up? Isn't that for you to do, not me?"
He straightened up, giving a loud, brief laugh rather like a dog's bark, reminding her of Sirius. "Ha! See how bad you are? I'm a lucky guy, I am," he added, grinning.
"Luck has nothing to do with it," she told him. "What can I say? You inspire me..." A lopsided smile twisted her mouth.
Harry put a hand on her cheek, shaking his head and gazing at her in wonder. "You definitely inspire me. Which is why, after you go back, I'll need to-" He stopped abruptly and turned a deep red that even suffused the skin on his chest. "Erm, never mind..."
Ginny laughed as Harry buttoned his shirt. "I understand. You need to spend some quality time with just you and your hand..."
"Ginny!" he exclaimed, his eyes wide and shocked.
"I do know about these things, Harry." She cupped her hand next to her mouth and glanced around the empty room furtively, as if revealing a state secret. "I have six brothers," she said, Soto voice, before laughing again.
"Erm, right," he stammered, his fingers shaking as he pushed buttons through buttonholes.
"And if it's any consolation, I'll probably have to spend some time alone later with my own hand, because of this..."
Harry paused in the act of putting his glasses back on, staring at her incredulously. "You-you what?" he squeaked.
Ginny laughed throatily, feeling very wicked and enjoying it immensely. "You can think about that when you're off by yourself..." She walked toward the door, pausing to look over her shoulder at Harry; he didn't meet her eyes but seemed to have his fixed on an anatomical feature that was considerably lower, groping blindly for his rucksack as he kept his eyes on her.
"Believe me," he said with a catch in his voice; "I will."
They didn't bother to use the Invisibility Cloak again but walked back toward Gryffindor Tower hand-in-hand, occasionally stopping for a brief-or sometimes not-so-brief-kiss.
"So," Harry asked her between kisses as they paused beside a suit of Armour, "shall we go back there again in future?"
"I don't know... those drawings... I could start associating them with snogging you and the next thing you know I'll be having very naughty thoughts about hippogriffs," she said, smirking.
"Hippogriffs?" Pansy Parkinson said suddenly, coming round a corner, her eyebrows flying up. "Naughty thoughts about hippogriffs?" Then her eyes went to Harry's shirt. "You've buttoned your shirt wrong, Potter." Her eyes slid to Ginny, a nasty grin creeping across her pug-like face. "Or maybe someone else buttoned it wrong for you..."
"Mind your own business, Parkinson," Ginny snapped. Pansy smiled knowingly and practically skipped around the corner; Ginny frowned after her. When she turned to Harry again, though, she found that he was scowling down at his shirt. "What's wrong, Harry?" She smiled and moved her fingers to his buttons. "If you like I can help you unbutton your shirt again. Of course, I'm not promising that I'll want to button it afterward..."
Harry turned red and put his hands over hers. "It's just that-I'm sorry. For what's under my shirt..."
"What's under your shirt?" Pansy asked, putting her head around the corner.
"Go away!" Harry and Ginny said together; Pansy frowned in disappointment and left again.
"Come on," Ginny said, taking him by the hand and leading him away. "Stupid gossip," she grumbled. "Now she'll tell the entire school that I've got a thing for hippogriffs... Or that you're a hippogriff Animagus or something..."
Harry picked her up in a hug and twirled her, laughing. "I can't make myself worry about gossip anymore, now that we're together. Don't think about it, Ginny. Let her say what she likes."
Ginny nodded. "Okay... But what did you mean that you're sorry for what's under your shirt?"
Harry seemed very embarrassed. "Well, you know... I'm not exactly... I mean, I've seen Dean without his shirt and he's... and I'm not..."
"Well, then you've seen a lot more of him than I have," she replied, her eyebrows flying up. "Did I give you the impression back there that I was disappointed?" she asked gently, putting her hands on his chest again and looking up at him. "Trust me; you're lovely, Harry."
He seemed both relieved and incredulous. "You're serious? Lovely?" She smiled and nodded at him. He looked as if he might be starting to believe her; a smile crept across his face. "Thank you," he said, kissing her on the cheek. "You know I think you're lovely too, right?"
She tried her best to appear scandalized. "You haven't seen my chest yet, Harry."
"I didn't just mean your-" He froze as he realized what she'd said. She turned and started skipping down the corridor, feeling impish. "You said yet," he breathed, before shouting, "You said yet!" and racing after her. She sped up only a little, not wanting to make it too difficult for him to catch her. When he did he encircled her waist with his hands and looked into her eyes for a long, intense moment before leaning down and kissing her again. Ginny clung to him, wishing that they still had the privacy of the dusty old classroom. When they stopped kissing Ginny felt as if she had to relearn how to breathe.
"Thank goodness I don't have a cold," she said as they started walking again, their arms around each others waists-when their hands didn't slide a little lower.
"Because-" Harry prompted her.
"-because if I couldn't breathe through my nose I wouldn't be able to kiss you for very long without suffocating," she said, grinning up at him.
"We can't have that now, can we?" Harry said hoarsely, backing her against a wall and kissing her again.
Ginny did not protest.
When they came up for air he brushed a stray hair behind her ear and she glimpsed his watch again. "Damn. It's been more than an hour. Hermione'll wonder where I've been..."
Harry shrugged as he took her hand. "I gave her some ideas."
"Oh, yes!" Ginny said, laughing. "I'm supposedly catching up with Moaning Myrtle. Of all of the things you could have said, Harry! That's the last place I ever want to go again. I've had nightmares about being in that bathroom and speaking Parseltongue and opening the Chamber..."
Harry slapped himself on the brow. "I'm sorry, Ginny. That was as stupid and thoughtless as forgetting that you were-um-you know-"
"It's okay, Harry," she said quietly as they walked. "I just-no one likes to think about being responsible for other people being hurt..."
Harry stopped, swallowing. They were standing near a painting of some hunting dogs sleeping by a hearth, the flames crackling merrily but the sounds of the dogs' snoring still clearly audible. She saw that Harry's eyes had gone to a large black dog with his paw over his muzzle, his thick black tail beating the carpet as he slept. She suddenly threw her arms around him, pressing her cheek against the front of his miss-buttoned shirt. His arms went around her as well and she felt him kiss the top of her head. They stood like that for a few minutes before Ginny reached up and kissed his cheek, then took his hand and led him away from the painting of the dogs.
They had walked for another minute in silence before Harry asked, "What was that for?"
"You-you seemed as if you needed a hug. Is your girlfriend not allowed to give you hugs when she thinks you need them? Is that not all right?"
He smiled at her affectionately. "That's all right. Of course it is." He was silent for another minute before saying, "I thought you could use a hug as well."
Ginny nodded. "I-wished I could have done that right-right after-"
"I wasn't ready then, though. I was angry. Hugs weren't-right. Not yet. Did you know that I practically destroyed everything in Dumbledore's office?"
"Honestly?" She stared at him. "He must really like you, Harry, to let you do that."
He nodded. "Yeah. I realize that now."
When they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, Ginny looked at Harry's watch again. "Now I'm very very late... What do you think I should tell her?"
"Oh, wait! There's something Hermione wanted me to tell you: she's looking for you. There. I've done it. And now you can tell her that as soon as I told you, you came back to the common room." He grinned at her and soon they were both laughing helplessly. Harry gathered her to him. "Oh, Ginny. I do like being with you," he told her with that very intense expression in his green eyes again. "I like laughing with you, I like that you suddenly hug me when you think I need it, and-" He paused and gave her a mischievous, lopsided smile. "-I like that you said yet, and that you have naughty thoughts about hippogriffs..."
Ginny snorted and hit him lightly on the chest. "Harry! If that rumor starts going round the castle I'll know it's you who's done it, not Pansy Parkinson."
Harry kissed her quickly. "Don't worry, Lo-erm, Ginny," he said, reddening. "Your secret's safe with me..." He'd started off with a joking tone of voice but after nearly saying that word he trailed off a bit, and he didn't seem to know what to do with his arms or legs.
She swallowed painfully. 'Love'. He almost called me 'Love'. "I'll-I'll see you after Hermione and I are through," she whispered, thinking about how naturally the endearment had sprung to his lips before he'd said her name instead. Perhaps he's trying not to scare me, she thought. Or even trying not to care too much. He loved Sirius-and lost him...
She thought again of the look on his face before she'd hugged him, when they'd been talking about feeling responsible for others being hurt. Ginny watched him walk away, knowing that he never wanted to feel that way again, but unconvinced that he'd be able to avoid it completely.
A few days later Romilda Vane accosted Ginny outside the Charms classroom, saying, without preamble, "Is it true that Harry has a hippogriff tattooed on his chest?"
Ginny immediately burst out laughing; tears started to form in her eyes. Romilda seemed even more disgruntled than usual and Ginny decided to have a little fun. "No, Romilda, Harry does not have a hippogriff tattoo on his chest. He has a Hungarian Horntail. Like the dragon he got the egg from in the Triwizard Tournament," Ginny told her with a perfectly straight face.
Romilda's eyes widened. "You don't say? Hmm..." She had a dreamy expression on her face and Ginny wondered whether she was imagining Harry with a fierce dragon sprawling across his torso. This made Ginny think about what Harry really did look like with his shirt open...
"Sorry, did you say something?" Ginny asked her, trying to shake this rather distracting image from her mind.
"Oh, I was just saying that that is much more macho than a hippogriff... Did he do it on a dare from your brother or something?"
Ginny was feeling inspired; she decided to have a little more fun. "No, not a dare. But they did both go to get tattoos at the same time."
"Oh? What did Ron get?"
"A Pygmy Puff. But I can't tell you where it is," she added, trying to keep from guffawing at the expression on Romilda's face as she walked away.
When she told Harry, Ron and Hermione about this later she thought Hermione would never stop laughing. Afterward, she and Harry found a disused corridor near Gryffindor Tower and he kissed her in between chuckling about this.
"So that's what the rumor's become? It's not you with a hippogriff fetish, it's me with a garish tattoo on my chest?"
"A manly garish tattoo," she reminded him. "And let's not forget-Ron's the one with the Pygmy Puff," she chortled.
They finally decided that it was impossible to kiss and laugh at the same time so they returned to the common room to tease Ron a little more about his nonexistent tattoo. There were times when Hermione got a strange expression on her face, rather as Romilda had done, and Ginny wondered whether she was thinking about exactly where on Ron's body such a tattoo would be...
Ginny played with Arnold and caught Harry's eye. They grinned at each other and she passed Arnold to him as Harry whispered, "Maybe I should give you a tattoo. I know just where I'd put it..."
"What are you two up to?" Ron demanded, walking over to them. "Are you talking about me again?" He was looking very put-out.
"No," they said together, quite truthfully, although they couldn't stop themselves from laughing as they caught each others eyes, which made Ron stalk off, shaking his head.
"A Pygmy Puff. I ask you..."
Harry and Ginny's laughter continued behind him.