A/N: I've been a bit of a fan of stories where Harry didn't go to Hogwarts and then meets Ginny later on, for quite a while. So I thought I'd try my hand at a few. I have a few others started which I hope to finish over my summer holidays. Please, let me know what you think. Also, my beta is in the middle of exams, so if you see any huge errors please let me know. Thanks.
A Set Up Gone Wrong
"Ginny...please?" Ron pleaded.
"Ron, I just got home from Hogwarts yesterday," she replied. "Why would I want to go to some boring Department dinner? I just want to relax or go and celebrate finishing school with my friends."
"Oh, you can do that any old day. It's not like you've got a job lined up yet," Ron said from his spot at the kitchen table where he was munching on an apple.
"Thanks for reminding me about that, Ronald," Ginny said acerbically. "'That's why I won't have time to relax and celebrate. I'll be out looking for a job." She wasn't about to tell her brother that she already had a job lined up. She wanted to wait until her whole family was together before telling them.
"You have to, Ginny. We're one short for the table," Ron said.
"Why don't you get Neville or Seamus to go?" she asked.
"Because then we'd have more blokes than witches. That'd be just wrong and embarrassing," her brother replied.
"Hang on, who's going, then?" she asked.
Ron wriggled in his seat a little and looked around the kitchen before answering. "Well, there's me and Lav, and Terry and Padma…and then there's three other blokes you don't know – Andy, Harry, and Stuart. Harry and Stuart have dates, so we just need one more."
Ginny looked at her brother intently. "You're setting me up, aren't you?"
"No," he said quickly.
"You are," she said pointing at his chest, making Ron scoot back on his chair, with a fearful look on his face.
"No, I'm…oh, look, Ginny. I've asked a few girls that I know. Lav and Padma got Parvati to come. Neville would kill me if I asked Hannah…"
"What about Hermione?" Ginny asked.
Ron looked at her like she was crazy. "Not a chance."
"She's scary," Ron said emphatically.
Ginny shook her head. She thought it was tremendously amusing that Ron thought that Hermione Granger was scary. She had seen Ron sneak glances at his classmate during their time together at Hogwarts. He seemed to be put off by the girl's knowledge and her ability to use it. So instead he asked Lavender Brown, of all girls, to be his girlfriend.
"Come on, Ginny. I promise that I'm not setting you up. We just need another girl. You don't even have to pay," Ron said.
"Even for drinks," Ginny stated.
Ron sighed dramatically. "Okay."
"You'll still owe me," she said.
"How?" Ron asked carefully.
Ginny pretended to look thoughtful. "Hmmm…I'll decide later."
Ron groaned in reply and Ginny walked out of the kitchen and up to her bedroom to try and get organised.
Ginny lagged behind Ron as they walked through the Ministry of Magic. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was having their dinner in a ballroom off the main hall. It was quite strange walking through the quiet Ministry dressed up, Ginny thought. She had been to the Ministry a few times with her father or to see him and it was always busy. Now it was eerily quiet. The only sounds to be heard were their footsteps and Ron's huffing as they were running a bit late.
As soon as they turned a corner they could hear voices and music and other sounds. Very soon they were at the elegant double doors. There were about eighty people standing around in small groups chatting and taking sips from their drinks. Ron sighed with relief beside her, as they were obviously not as late as he had thought, and then he started walking to a small group off to one side. Ginny recognised a few of the faces from school.
"Ron!" Terry Boot exclaimed as they approached the group.
Terry's exclamation made Lavender Brown turn, squeal, and race into Ron's arms. She then proceeded to make a bit of an exhibition of herself and Ron by pulling his face down to hers, and snogging him very enthusiastically.
Ginny sighed and walked away from the group to the bar where she helped herself to a glass of butterbeer. She then took a chance to survey the room. In the middle was the current Minister of Magic, Amelia Bones, who had taken over the job after both Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour were killed during the war. With her were a group of well-known Ministry heads of department, who were key during the war against Voldemort. Just away from them were some groups of middle-aged men and women who looked uncomfortable in their finery, but were happy talking with each other. Then, off to the edges were the groups of younger witches and wizards who were looking around cautiously at their elders. Just as she thought to look for faces she recognised from the younger crowd, a gong sounded and everyone started moving towards the tables set at one end of the room.
Ginny quickly moved to find Ron. He was standing at one of the tables at the back, well away from the podium. She was glad to see he was sitting between Lavender and Parvati meaning that she wouldn't have to sit beside her brother. She hung back until all the chairs, bar one, were filled and then walked closer.
"About time, Ginny," Ron said from his spot on the opposite side of the table. "Where did you disappear to?"
Ginny shrugged and sat down in the empty chair between a black haired man, who was talking to a platinum blonde on his other side, and a brown haired, handsome man, who was smiling at her.
"Hi there, I'm Andy. You must be Ron's sister. He has told me so much about you," the smiling man said, holding out his hand ready to shake hers.
Ginny shook his hand and then tried very hard not to immediately wipe her hand on her dress. Andy's hand was soft and clammy, and his handshake was weak, which turned her off just a little. She preferred stronger handshakes and hands that had seen some hard work. She glanced at Ron who smiled and nodded at her. This was exactly the situation she didn't want to be stuck in - a set up with a man who just didn't attract her.
Andy immediately started chatting away about going to school in France and his many beautiful French girlfriends. Ginny very quickly tuned out to what Andy was saying and looked around. The platinum blonde witch was looking at her curiously.
"You're Ginny Weasley, aren't you?" the blonde witch asked.
"I thought you were, but it's been years since I last saw you," the blonde witch continued.
Ginny looked at her curiously. She could not remember this woman from when she was younger.
The man sitting between them chuckled. "I think you've confused her, Tonks."
"Tonks!" exclaimed Ginny.
"Yeah, it's me," she replied. "Sorry, I went for a different look tonight."
"I haven't seen you, since you and Charlie..."
"Yeah...I was a bit upset that he was moving to Romania, and I didn't come back to the Burrow," Tonks said a little sheepishly.
"You seem to have got over it, though," Ginny said looking at the man between them.
"Oh, we're not together," said Tonks, waving her hand between the dark-haired man and herself. "Harry is just a friend."
"Heavens, no. Tonks is too high maintenance for me," Harry said rolling his eyes. "Plus, she has a thing for older men, not younger ones."
Tonks swatted Harry and he elbowed her back, causing Ginny to laugh. Maybe this wasn't going to be as bad an evening as she thought. She had always liked Tonks when she was little and Tonks had been good friends with her brother, Charlie. And any friend of Tonks should be okay. It helped that he was fairly easy on the eyes.
Harry was looking at her intently. "I take it that Ron is your brother?"
She nodded. "One of them."
He nodded. "I think I've met them all at some stage."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, at some time or other," he replied. "How come you have to be here getting tortured tonight?"
"Ron coerced me," she replied. "He pleaded and pleaded. I suggested some other girls he could ask but he said no, so I finally gave in."
"I find it hard to believe that you had nothing better to do on a Saturday night," Tonks said.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Especially as I only got home from school yesterday. You'd think that there would be a huge party, seeing that we've just finished school forever, but no," she said, sighing for a bit of added effect.
Harry laughed at her. "I agree. What are your classmates thinking?"
Tonks and Ginny joined Harry's laughter.
"At least Ron owes me now," Ginny said with a cheeky smile. "I love having something to hold over my brothers. It makes life so much more fun."
Their laughter caused Ron to look towards Ginny. He gave her a pointed look to tell her she was talking to the wrong person. Ginny thought he was about to say something, too, but their food appeared on their plates, which, of course, distracted her greedy brother. During dinner, Ginny happily talked with Tonks, filling her in on the happenings in the Weasley family over the past year and a bit since the wizarding world had returned to peace. Apparently Tonks had been so busy with Auror work that she hadn't seen anyone from her family except Ron, and he hadn't been very forthcoming with family news.
Harry joined in the conversation occasionally, but tended to just sit and listen. Every so often she would look at him to find that he was looking at her, as well. He even winked at her a couple of times. Ginny found herself playing up to this and starting flirting with him, even though it was something she didn't generally do.
After they had finished the main course, Harry turned to Ginny. "How are you standing up to this night of excitement?"
"Oh, it's not too bad, actually. I was dreading it quite a bit knowing what Ron was up to," she replied.
Harry glanced between Ron and Ginny. "What's Ron up to?"
"It's a set up," she replied.
"He's setting you up? With…Andy?" he asked with a laugh.
"That's what I'm thinking," she replied
"Why would a girl like you need to be set up?" he asked looking a little shocked.
"A girl like me? What…"
Harry held up his hand to stop her. "I meant that you are obviously not hideous and can hold a conversation well enough…"
"Gee, thanks!" she said sarcastically.
He gave her a frustrated look. "Let me finish, would you. Surely all the boys at school weren't blind and silly. Some of them must have asked you out," he said.
"Is that a roundabout way of saying that I'm attractive?" she asked cheekily.
He blushed a little before replying. "Yes, you're attractive, which I'm sure you have some realisation of. You're also fun and easy to talk to. I'm just surprised you don't have men beating down your door or some six-foot muscular man by your side. Why do you need your brother to set you up?"
"Oooh, what a compliment, Harry," she said laughing. "I don't."
"Don't what?" he asked.
"Have men beating at my door, or a six foot muscular boyfriend, or need my brother to set me up," she replied.
"Oh, okay," he replied. "So why are you here?"
"Ron caught me in a moment of weakness and occasionally I do nice things for my brothers," she replied. "Plus, as I said before, I can use it against him at a later date."
"So…Harry. After all those lovely compliments…are you trying to tell me something?" she asked smiling sweetly.
He looked down at the table and played with his spoon a little before looking up at her again. "Maybe," he said shyly.
"Why only maybe?" she asked.
"Well, you said that you don't have a six foot muscular boyfriend. That doesn't mean you don't have a five foot skinny one, or a…I don't know, a five foot five solid and plain looking one," he said.
Ginny burst out laughing. Everyone turned to look at her so she shook her head and waited until everyone had resumed their conversations. Though, she thought that Tonks was actually listening, but was pretending to talk to the man on her other side.
"You could just ask if I'm seeing anyone," she said eventually.
Harry looked at her carefully. "Are you?" he asked.
She shook her head.
"Well that's lucky for Andy, then," he said.
"What!" she exclaimed.
Harry started laughing. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."
Ginny swatted him with her napkin.
"All right then. Ginny, would…"
Unfortunately, the gong sounded again and everyone turned towards the podium. Ginny glanced at Harry and he mouthed 'afterwards' and nodded at the Minister standing at the front of the room. Ginny nodded and then was surprised to see Harry stand and walk towards the podium. She looked enquiringly at Tonks to see what was happening.
"He hates this part of the night, but he's always called upon to say something," Tonks said.
Ginny was still a little confused. "Why?"
Tonks looked at her strangely. "Well after the war and everything, everyone expects to hear from him at these Ministry events."
And suddenly it clicked. Harry was HarryPotter. How had she not realised this before? Oh, good Godric, she had been flirting with Harry Potter. She dropped her head into her hands and shook her head.
Tonks started laughing. "You didn't realise, did you?" she asked.
Ginny looked up at her older brother's childhood friend and shook her head. "Oh, Merlin! He must think I'm a…a…"
Tonks moved to the chair next to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "You know, it won't bother him at all."
Ginny looked at Tonks curiously.
"It won't," Tonks repeated.
Ginny nodded, hoping that Tonks was right. She then tried to listen to the speeches but found it difficult until Harry took his turn. She listened to his short yet inspiring speech about working together to build a happy and united wizarding world.
After the speeches, a band appeared on the podium, ready to play. The tables cleared and moved to the sides of the room, leaving a large, clear area, which Ginny guessed was for dancing. She noticed Ron was talking to Andy, so she took herself to the bar, got a drink, and then moved to a quiet spot where she could observe. Ron and Terry were now talking to some other men, Tonks was talking to Kingsley Shacklebolt on the other side of the room, and Harry was surrounded by a collection of witches and wizards.
"There you are, Jenny," Andy said beside her.
"Ginny," she said through gritted teeth.
"Oh…okay," he said. "Now I don't know if you heard me before at the table, but when I lived in France…"
"Excuse me, Andy," Harry said from behind Ginny. "I need to talk to Ginny."
Andy looked at Harry in confusion. "Er…okay. Come and find me when you're finished, Jenny, and I'll tell you about my Quidditch games."
Ginny tried to smile politely at Andy but she was sure it was more of a grimace. Harry took her elbow and led her over to the quiet area at the side of the bar.
"Thanks," she said when Harry stood in front of her. "He is…"
Harry chuckled. "He's very self-centred, but luckily he's really quite harmless. He'll find someone else to talk to, don't worry."
"I'm not that worried, really," she said. She then looked up at Harry and for the first time she noticed the very faint scar on his forehead. She felt a little self-conscious under his gaze.
"I wondered where you had disappeared to," he said, still staring down at her. "What's wrong? You look worried."
"I'm just feeling a little...silly," she said.
"Silly?" he asked. "Why would you feel silly?"
Ginny shuffled her feet around a little and dropped her gaze from his for a moment. Harry gently lifted her chin so that she was looking at his concerned face once again.
"I didn't really realise who you are until you had to go and make that speech," she said quietly. "I should have recognised you, and I feel silly about how I was talking to you during dinner..." she trailed off what she was saying when she saw the smile on Harry's face.
"Hey!" he said. "I honestly don't mind at all."
"Tonks said you wouldn't, but I still feel..."
Harry's finger over her mouth stopped her from saying any more. He was smiling down at her and had a cheeky glint to his eyes. "It's fine. I like that you like me for me, not for who I'm seen as."
Ginny took a moment to think about that and then smiled. Harry was still looking down at her and he seemed closer. She lifted her chin and his lips seemed awfully close to hers. She brushed her tongue over her dry lips and he made a small noise before he started to close the gap between them.
"Harry," a voice came from a little way behind Harry.
They quickly jumped apart and Harry turned to face the person who had greeted him.
"Oh, hi, John," Harry said to the man who had called out.
"I just thought I'd say hello," John said. "It's been a while."
"It has," Harry said. "We should catch up for a drink sometime."
John looked at Harry and then past him to Ginny. A half smile appeared on his face and he quickly shook Harry's hand and said, "That sounds grand. I'll leave you be."
Harry turned and faced her again. "Sorry about that. There's always someone who wants a chat at these things."
Ginny shuffled around on the spot for a bit. Was Harry trying to make a subtle hint? "I can go, if you want," she said, waving her hand a little, not really sure where she would actually go. Finding Ron would be an option, she guessed.
"NO!" Harry exclaimed quickly. "No, please don't. I meant that I'll probably be interrupted a lot here. It's not the best place for...what was happening," he said, looking a little embarrassed.
She smiled at him. "And what was that?" she asked cheekily, knowing that he wouldn't mind her teasing.
He groaned. "You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"
Ginny laughed and nodded.
He gently grabbed her arm and led her to a doorway. He subtly cast a few charms around them and looked at her. "Just so that no one overhears," he said to her curious look. "So what did you want to know?" he asked.
"You know," she replied laughing. "Don't pretend you don't."
"Ah, that's right...what was happening," he said. "Well, Ginny, I think I was about to kiss you," he said as he gently caressed her cheek and tucked a tendril of hair behind her ear.
"Mmm," she said, covering his hand with hers. "That's what I thought."
Harry started to lean towards her again. She closed her eyes as his lips got closer...and then they were pushed apart.
"Oh, sorry, mate," said a slightly intoxicated man as he ran into them.
Harry groaned and grabbed her hand. "Let's get out of here," he said, looking at her questioningly.
"Where?" she asked.
"Anywhere away from here," he said.
Ginny looked at him for a moment. "Can we Apparate from here?"
He shook his head. "We'll have to go out to the main hall."
"Okay," she said.
They casually walked side by side across the room to the door. Harry greeted a few people on the way but did not stop and chat. Once they were out of the ballroom, Ginny suddenly became a little nervous. Here she was walking alone with Harry Potter, something she had definitely not expected in her wildest dreams. And not ten minutes ago he had said he wanted to kiss her. And where in the name of Merlin were they going?
"Uh, Harry," she said as they walked. "Where are we going?"
Harry stopped and looked at her. "You know, I hadn't really thought about it. I just wanted to get out of there."
"Where would you like to go?" he asked. "Do you want to get a drink or something?"
"I wouldn't mind a hot chocolate or something like that," she said eventually.
"Shall we go and find a Muggle place near here?" he asked. "Or we could go over to Diagon Alley..."
"You know, I make really good hot chocolate, but that would mean you'd have to come to my place, the Burrow, for me to make it," she said.
Harry looked at her curiously and then smiled. "Is it as good as your mum's?"
It was her turn to look at him curiously. "You've had Mum's hot chocolate before? When?"
He laughed. "I have, and I'd guess it was probably while you and Ron were at school." He paused for a bit before continuing. "You see, I wasn't allowed to go out and help with Order business when I was younger, so your mum used to come over and stay with me. I guess she was there as someone to report to, but I think she was a bit of a babysitter as well. Though, I didn't mind. She used to cook for me and it was so much better than what Sirius could ever produce."
"I never realised that Mum knew you. She never said anything about it," Ginny said as they continued walking to the Apparition point.
"She probably couldn't say anything. It was all Order business, so she couldn't talk about it to anyone else," he replied and stopped walking.
Ginny stopped beside him and readied herself to Apparate home. "Have you ever been to the Burrow?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No, but I've heard all sorts of stories about it."
"Do you know how to get there?" Ginny asked. After he shook his head she continued, "We could Floo, I guess, or I could side-along Apparate with you."
He gave her a cheeky smile. "I think I'd prefer the side-along Apparating."
She gave him a knowing smile and reached out to lightly grab his elbow. He smiled, shook his head, and wrapped his arms around her. She sighed at the wonderful feeling of being held by him, and he smelled absolutely delicious. She was totally caught up in that moment that she forgot why she was actually standing in Harry's arms. It took his laughter for her to come back to reality.
"Sorry," she said, a little embarrassed, and then she Disapparated to just outside the kitchen door at the Burrow.
Harry kept his arms around her after they landed, and Ginny found herself looking into his eyes in the half-light from the moon and the light inside. He lowered his head towards hers and she felt the softness of his lips just touch hers before the door opened, causing them both to jump apart.
"Ginny?" her mum asked. "Is that you? I thought I heard someone Apparate."
"Hi, Mum," she said stepping into the light. She pulled Harry into the light behind her. "I brought someone home for some hot chocolate. I hope you don't mind, Mum."
"Harry!" her mum exclaimed, before pulling him into a hug. "It's been too long since I last saw you. Let me have a look at you."
"Hi, Mrs. Weasley," he said.
"It's Molly, Harry," her mum said. "Come on in. I was just about to head upstairs. I can make some..."
"It's fine, Mum. I'll make it," Ginny said.
"Yeah, Mrs. We...Molly. Ginny is going to prove that she can make hot chocolate better than you," he said with a sly glance at her.
"She is, is she?" her mum replied, chuckling. "I'll leave you be, then. Let me know the verdict, would you, Harry."
"I will," he replied.
Ginny watched her mum leave the kitchen and then turned to the stove. She busied herself with the hot chocolate while she came to terms with the fact that Harry Potter was here in the kitchen of the Burrow, with her. And he was a down-to-earth, easy-to-get-along-with person who apparently wanted to kiss her as much as she wanted to kiss him. A few hours ago she wouldn't have contemplated something like this happening.
"What are you thinking about?" Harry asked from just behind her.
She looked over her shoulder and smiled. "I was thinking about the fact that maybe I shouldn't hold Ron to ransom over this evening after all."
He moved closer and stood right behind her. She could feel his warmth behind her, and she was getting lost in his scent. She couldn't help but sigh as his arms encircled her.
"I take it that you've enjoyed this evening, then?" he asked.
She turned in his arms and he lowered his head to hers. Once again, just as his lips were brushing hers, they were interrupted, this time by overflowing hot chocolate on the stove.
"Shite!" she exclaimed, quickly moving the pot and cleaning up the mess with a flick of her wand. Harry was shaking with laughter behind her and she glared at him. "You do realise this is the fourth time we've been about to kiss and something or someone has stopped us."
"Oh, yeah. I hope this isn't some kind of bad karma meaning we aren't meant to kiss or...or..."
"I don't believe in Divination or that kind of stuff," she replied, filling two mugs with hot chocolate. She put the mugs and some treacle tart on a tray and carried it through to the sitting room with Harry following close behind.
They sat side-by-side on the small, shabby sofa. She took her mug and sat back in the chair. Harry, on the other hand, was staring down at the plate of treacle tart.
"Are you okay, Harry?" she asked a little amused at the look on his face.
"Mmmm. Treacle tart is my favourite and I haven't had any in so long," he said.
She couldn't help but laugh at him. He picked up a piece and absolutely savoured every mouthful. When he had finished, he sat back next to her, sighed, and turned his head to look at her.
"I guess you enjoyed that," she said staring into his brilliant emerald eyes.
He nodded and kept eye contact with her. They gradually moved towards each other and just as their lips were about to meet, they paused, looked around and then laughed.
"I guess we're safe, then," Harry said with a cheeky smile.
Ginny nodded and Harry gently pulled her head closer allowing his lips to meet hers. She sighed as they were finally able to kiss. Her hands found their way up into his messy black hair and her lips parted to allow his tongue to tease hers. He groaned as their kiss deepened and pulled her closer to him so there was no space between them at all. Ginny's hands were drifting down to cover Harry's bum when the door to the sitting room burst open.
"What the hell, Ginny?" Ron yelled. "When did you leave? You were supposed to be there with Andy, and you just up and left."
Ginny jumped to her feet, not caring how dishevelled she looked. Somehow Harry had managed to remove all the pins in her hair and it was falling in a riotous mess down her back. "You said it wasn't a set up."
"...Lied?" Ginny suggested. "You said it wasn't a set up, so it didn't matter to whom I talked, when I left, or with whom I left," she said loudly pointing viciously at her brother.
"Who did you leave with?" Ron asked in a dangerous voice.
Harry stood up behind her and looped an arm over her shoulders.
"Ha...Harry...I didn't see you there," Ron said looking a little frazzled.
"Right, now that you've seen him, you can leave," Ginny said matter-of-factly.
"Hang on. What's going on with you two? Does Mum know what you're up to? Are you sure that...argh, GINNY!"
Ginny had hit him with a Bat Bogey Hex and Ron was desperately trying to swipe the bats off his face. She walked over to stand over her brother and pointed her wand at him again. "You will never interfere in my love life again, do you hear me?"
When Ron nodded she lifted the Hex and Ron looked up at her. "Fine," he said, then stood, and left the room.
Ginny turned to see Harry shaking with laughter and one hand covering his mouth.
"Please tell me you're going to join the DMLE. It'd be fantastic to see you in action against some of those wankers out there," he said looking at her eagerly.
"Sorry," she said. "I have no intention of working at the Ministry."
Harry looked at her curiously. "So what do you intend to do with yourself, besides spending lots of time with me, that is?"
"Hmm, I like that idea, but I'll have to find something to occupy myself while you're busy at work with my prat of a brother," she replied in a teasing voice.
Harry came closer and put his hands on her shoulders. "And what might that be?"
"Weeeell," she drawled before looking at him pointedly. "Hang on. Were you trying to ask me something just before?"
Harry looked at her and smiled. "Oh, you noticed," he teased. "All right, Miss Weasley. I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me?"
"As in...a girlfriend?" she asked.
"Yes, Ginny," he said.
"Ask nicely, Harry," she teased.
He shook his head a little, but smiled wryly at her. "Will you please be my girlfriend, Ginny?"
"I'd love to," she smiled.
"Right then. I guess I need to know what my girlfriend's plans are for the future," he said.
"Weeeell," she drawled again. "How would you like to go out with the new Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies?"
"Really?" Harry said sounding a little surprised.
"Really. I found out two days ago," she said with a little squeal.
He chuckled and pulled her into his arms and kissed her soundly. When they eventually pulled apart, he looked at her curiously. "Does this mean I can get free tickets?"
"Prat," she said, hitting him on the shoulder and then pulling his head back down towards hers.