An Attic Interlude

A/N: I based my story on a single question: What if Harry & Ginny's first kiss took place the summer before 6th year, while at the Burrow? Wouldn't it be nice if Harry had all of 6th year to be with Ginny before he had to leave on the Horcrux hunt?

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Harry Potter, or the other characters…but the storyline is mine.

Background: Takes place in the summer after 5th year, and those unfortunate events at the Ministry; Harry is back at the Dursleys, grieving Sirius' death. The Order members on Harry's protection detail on Privet Drive have noticed Harry's lost weight, and dark shadows under his eyes; naturally, word has gotten back to the Weasleys about Harry's weakened physical condition. While Mrs. Weasley immediately begins making food to send to Harry, since the Dursleys have 'obviously' been starving him, Ginny has begun sending letters to Harry, out of worry for how he's coping being alone at the Dursleys, and belief that he's been having nightmares about the Dept. of Mysteries. There is also cause for concern that he's shutting himself off from everyone out of guilt for Sirius' death, since he hasn't been returning letters sent by Hermione and Ron. Ginny, who knows a thing or two about nightmares- thanks to "meeting" Tom Riddle/Voldemort her first year- is determined to be a friend and "listening ear" for Harry, and hopefully prevent him from putting up those walls around himself, namely Guilt and Despair.

Nightmares…Harry was no stranger to those scourges to a decent night's sleep. After the tragedy with Sirius at the Department of Mysteries, practically every thought reminded him of his godfather. Every night brought a replay of Sirius falling through the veil. Naturally, neither sympathy nor caring awaited him at the house on Privet Drive, but plenty of love, nourishment, and friendship was only an owl away.

~ G ~

Ginny started writing to Harry soon after the fiasco at the Ministry, both out of concern for how he was coping back at the Dursleys, and to pass along a bit of friendly news from the Weasleys. Perhaps her biggest concern, however, was that Harry would withdraw from all of his friends and adopted family in his grief over Sirius. Ginny felt if she could get Harry talking, then she could make sure he also wasn't trying to shoulder the blame. These letters, of course, were always accompanied by a care package from her Mum, who was convinced Harry would waste away to nothing without her sending love in the guise of meat pies, biscuits, or various other treats.

~ H ~

Ginny had never really written to him before this summer, but he soon looked forward to her owls. Her first letter was a welcome change to another miserable, monotonous summer at the Dursleys when it arrived the first week after they'd returned home. The evening the first owl came tapping at his bedroom window, he was just changing for bed after a long day of slaving away for the Dursleys. Naturally, his first subconscious hope was his godfather was writing…before his conscious kicked in and reminded him of the terrible truth. Sirius… No, it can't be Sirius…you fell for that trap and got him killed, remember? Maybe it's Hermione again, trying to mother me some more. Ginny? Why is she writing me?

Thankfully, Ginny kept her first letters to "safe" topics: the boring day-to-day stuff at the Weasleys, hearing Ron complain about Hermione nagging him to study ('Over the summer, for Merlin's sake!') or de-gnoming the garden yet again, Fred & George's plans for their joke shop, and her Mum fretting about how her boys will manage without their OWLs. Gradually, he came to realize he really looked forward to her letters, counted on them, even; and found that seeing Pig (or Errol) at the window…and Ginny's handwriting…was enough to turn around even the worst day. In their "talks" by owl post, they never experienced a shortage of topics, as they discovered they had much in common. Sure, they were already friends from school – he considered everyone who came with him to the Ministry that fateful night to be his dearest friends – but his and Ginny's shared experiences brought them into an even closer, albeit platonic, relationship. Platonic, that is, until his first nightmare about Ginny falling through the veil.

~ G ~

Unbeknownst to Harry, Ginny was also experiencing regular nightmares about the Department of Mysteries, though hers were of Harry falling through the veil after Sirius. Her family, at first, was convinced she was {just} reliving the nightmare of being chased by Death Eaters at the Ministry; however, after awakening to her shouts of, "Not Harry, please not Harry!" on more than one occasion, neither she nor her family could deny the strength of her feelings for Harry any longer.

~ H ~

Slowly Harry's thoughts of Ginny began to take a different direction, moving from friendly concern to a much deeper level of caring…until The Dream. He had already begun daydreaming of running his fingers through a certain girl's long, fiery tresses when he was supposed to be washing dishes, weeding the garden, washing the car, or any other chore for the Dursleys; and this was enough to clue him in that he "fancied" his friend. As though this wasn't already scary enough, there came a night the following week when he had a most unexpected dream - featuring one Miss Ginevra Weasley. (This dream, to put it mildly, was less than platonic.) Then, naturally, the arguments with himself ensued:

You can't possibly… She's your friend!

She's Ron's sister! Best mate or not, he'd kill you!

You had your chance with her – she's over you!

~ G ~

Finally! Dumbledore gave them the go-ahead to bring Harry to the Burrow - just in time for his 16th birthday. She couldn't wait to give him the news that he could leave the Dursleys behind for another year. They had already begun planning the fun things to do once he was able to come "home"… and lots of Weasley Quidditch was at the top of the list. With a much lighter heart, she sent Pig on his way with the happy news.

29 July

Dear Harry,

Have your trunk packed! We're coming to fetch you at 8 a.m., 31 July. Can't wait! Happy (early) Birthday!

Ginny

~ H ~

30 July

Dear Ginny,

Looking forward to seeing you all! Can't wait to leave the Dursleys behind for another year! My trunk's packed already. This is the best birthday present I could hope for!

Harry

After sending Hedwig on her way with his reply to the Burrow, and asking her to wait for him there, Harry started packing his trunk in anticipation of saying "Goodbye" (and 'Good Riddance!") to the Dursleys, so his summer holiday could truly begin. At last! Of course, he couldn't help but feel a bit awkward about seeing Ginny again, and ponder how to hide his new feelings for her from Ron and the rest of her family. Would they be able to see the truth on his face? Oh bugger, just what I need: to have the Weasleys looking at me like that. Would it be shock, or revulsion, that I have the nerve to look at their only daughter like that? How could I ever deserve a girl like Ginny? With those cheery thoughts, he started practicing his "neutral" expression while thinking of the fair Ginny.

~ G ~

Ginny and the other Weasleys were up at the unholy hour of 6:30 a.m., with the joyous excitement of going to get Harry. Her dad, Arthur, was able to take a little time off work this morning to accompany Ron and her to Privet Drive to rescue poor Harry from his relatives. They would floo to Mrs. Figg's and walk from there. She couldn't help but put forth a bit more effort on her appearance, since she wanted to look as pretty as possible when she saw Harry again.

~ H ~

31 July

Harry hardly slept at all the night before his planned "escape", and was still up at 5:30. This had to be the best birthday present he could possibly receive…getting to be free of the Dursleys for another summer! After his shower, he, too, took special pains with his appearance; trying (somewhat successfully) to make his hair lay flat. He then made sure to tidy his room, lest Aunt Petunia find anything magical and have a conniption, and spent the rest of his waiting time looking at his photo album. He daydreamed he was having a conversation about girls with his Dad; specifically about one girl in particular, just trying to make sense of his changed feelings. He imagined his Dad's (and Mum's) expressed approval, and reminding him to "take hold of his Gryffindor courage and do something about it!" By 7:30, he was sitting at the top of the stairs, leaning against his trunk and Hedwig's cage, and trying not to make too much noise with his fidgeting. At 8:00 (finally!) he heard the knock on the front door, and was dragging the trunk and cage downstairs to open the door to his preferred family, the Weasleys.

~ G ~

A few moments later, they were back home at the Burrow; having flooed from Mrs. Figg's home across the street. Molly Weasley had a huge breakfast ready and, after hugging Harry to within an inch of his life, beckoned for everyone to be seated at the large, homey table: Arthur at the head, Fred & George on one side, Molly at the other end, and Ron, Harry, and Ginny across from the twins. Fred & George had made sure they were home to greet their silent partner and partake of their Mum's breakfast before heading off to Diagon Alley to get WWW up and running. As luck (or good planning) would have it, she and Harry were side-by-side at the crowded breakfast table. Every time they would pass a dish, his or her elbow would nudge the other. She couldn't be sure, but she imagined she heard Harry take a sharper intake of breath whenever they happened to touch.

Good one, Ginny—you're just hearing things now! Why would Harry care one way or another? He just thinks of you as a friend, after all…You're reading far too much into this. Just because YOU feel a little shock when we touch, doesn't mean it affects Harry at all. Get over it already! Last thing we need is for Harry to remember how silly you acted around him in first year! Two words: butter dish!

~ H ~

Oh Merlin, we knocked elbows again! How am I going to manage to keep my feelings under wraps if I can't even act normally at the table? Before long, they're all going to think I'm hyperventilating! Buck up, Potter! It's not like she still fancies you, after all. Best to just put a little distance between us so we can just eat without getting in each other's space.

OK, so holding my breath didn't work as I'd hoped. Better to just breathe normally, that's it. I don't think the twins noticed that, thank Godric! Just keep acting normal and all will be fine.

~ G ~

Oh no, I must repulse him! He just moved away from me, and I swear he was just holding his breath! See, I told you, you were reading too much into things! I'm just Ron's little sister to him! He obviously just wants to be friends!

~ H ~

As soon as he moved over a bit, Ginny appeared to duck her head.

See, I told you she was over you! She's probably relieved she doesn't have to be that close to you! Bollocks, she probably fancies Dean! Best to just act normally like friends do.

~ G ~

Well, I can still be a friend to him—he needs his friends! Maybe we could play some Quidditch after breakfast. I'll bet he's missed flying since he's been stuck at the Dursleys.

Soon afterward Mr. Weasley left for the Ministry, and Fred & George left for their shop, with reminders from Mrs. Weasley that they were to be home by six that evening for Harry's birthday supper.

Ron (who had been shoveling food in as fast as he could swallow), suggested just what Ginny was thinking. "Hey Mate, d'you want to play some Quidditch after breakfast?"

Mrs. Weasley put in, "First you can help take Harry's things upstairs, Ron. I believe Hedwig's been waiting there for you, Harry."

"Oh yeah, Hedwig's been in and out of my room since she got here two days ago. I've kept my window open for her so she can come and go as she pleases. Pig's been even more annoying since she's been here—personally, I think she goes hunting just to get away from him!"

Meanwhile, Ginny helped her Mum clear the table after breakfast and helped her make some plans for Harry's birthday supper. As she waited for the boys to come down for some Quidditch, she couldn't help thinking, It's a perfect morning for a fly.

Once the boys came downstairs, Harry with his Firebolt, they and Ginny headed out to the Weasley Family Quidditch Pitch; otherwise known as the paddock.

Gosh, look at Harry—he has such a joyous look on his face when he's flying! She couldn't help but admire the view: Harry flying loops, zig zags, and even a perfectly executed Wronski Feint.

~ H ~

Ginny's beautiful! I love the way her hair trails behind her when she's racing for the goalposts with the quaffle tucked under her arm… Oi! Better pay closer attention to where you're flying, Potter! You just about flew into that tree! Wouldn't that be hilarious to give Ginny and Ron some reason to laugh in your face! Thank goodness Gred and Forge aren't here to see me embarrass myself—they'd take the mickey out of me for sure!

~ G ~

For a second there, I thought Harry was watching me! Why on earth would he do that? Unless…

Nah, you're jumping to conclusions again. Must have been a coincidence! Wait a second, I know I saw him looking my way this time, and it sure looked like he almost crashed into that tree! Thank Merlin he didn't get hurt! But why look my way if he just wants to be friends? I wish Hermione was here to help 'translate' Harry's moods for me!

~ H ~

Oh no, Ginny saw my near-crash. What awful luck! (Cheeks flamed at the thought.) Thank Godric she isn't the gossiping type!

As 'luck' would have it, Ginny was not the only one to witness Harry's inattention during Quidditch. The twins had just returned home to retrieve some "Wheezes" they needed at the shop, and upon hearing the noise from the paddock, crept closer to see what was going on. They were just in time to see Harry's near-crash and blush, and their favorite sister's repeated looks at Harry, so naturally, they felt a prank coming on.

"Forge, did you see…?"

"That I did, Gred."

"Our dear sister and favorite silent partner…"

"Making eyes at each other…"

"When they should be playing…"

"Quidditch?" they both replied.

"I think…"

"Being the loving brothers and good mates we are,"

"We should help them out a bit…"

"Give them a friendly nudge…"

"In the right direction."

"Quite right, Brother mine.

After stopping in to check with their Mum about her plans for tomorrow (Saturday), she couldn't help but notice the familiar gleam in her two pranking sons' eyes, and said,

"OK boys, SPILL. I know you're plotting something."

"Gred?"

"Alright, Forge. Perhaps…"

"We should take on a partner…"

"For our ickle endeavor?"

"Mum…" started George.

"Loving Mum," Fred interjected.

"Quite so, Brother."

"Have you noticed some unusual behavior…"

"Between our sister and Harrykins?"

"Why yes, come to think of it, I have, at breakfast this morning. If you are plotting ANYTHING against poor Harry, there will be hell to pay, I promise you! Especially today, I will not have you ruin his birthday!"

"No no no, Mum, we only want to give them a friendly little nudge in the right direction."

"It was getting painful to watch all that angst and moping at the table this morning."

"You do have a point," she relented. "I hate to see that wonderful boy looking so miserable, and it would be nice to help him find some happiness after all he's been through. You WILL be on your best behavior at his party tonight?

"Of course, Mum…" started Fred.

"…Scout's honor," finished George.

"Very well, then. What is your idea?"

"Well, Mum, if Harry and Ginny could find some way to be in the attic at the same time tomorrow…"

"We'll take care of the rest."

Saturday morning dawned, a beautiful day looming ahead at the Weasleys'. Mrs. Weasley roused everyone out of their beds to get started on her current cleaning spree. After much protesting about the early hour, but eased by a hearty breakfast, she sent everyone off to their tasks: the twins were to get all of their "Wheezes" (both prototypes and rejects) out of the Burrow, as they were in the process of moving into the flat above WWW; Ron and Harry were to de-gnome the garden; Mr. Weasley she asked to repair some of the many items on his "honey-do" list; and Ginny was to clean out the attic.

Ginny felt she got the worst job, and rightly so – the attic had not been properly organized since Bill finished at Hogwarts, and with many years of various accumulated "treasures", there was barely (if you really looked) a meandering trail between towering stacks of boxes. After receiving her Mum's promise to send 'one of the boys' to help with the heavy lifting and moving, she trudged upstairs …not realizing a long-standing dream of hers was about to come true .

Later that morning, Ron and Harry tossed the last gnome out of the garden, and after taking a quick break, asked Mum for their next task. Ron, she sent to help Arthur in his shed, and Harry she asked to help Ginny in the attic.

~ H ~

This request left Harry stunned; so much so that he missed the glimmer in his honorary Mum's eyes, and barely registered her promise to send lunch up to them in a little while. He'd been distracted more than a little bit this morning, thinking about last night's dinner party and Ginny's birthday gift for him: a handmade frame for Sirius' picture. Just thinking of the good time he had last night, secretly eying Ginny through dinner, and making sure to laugh at the appropriate times to cover up his distraction, left him with several bruises from the gnomes he unsuccessfully tossed. As he trekked up the stairs, he could be heard muttering to himself the whole way.

Here's your chance—don't botch it up! Tell her how much her letters meant to you this summer—you've never properly thanked her, you know. Try to find out if she's seeing anyone. Tell her how you feel about her. ~ Are you MENTAL?

All he could think of was Ginny; and how maybe it was time to listen to his parents' advice and 'take hold of that Gryffindor courage and DO something about it.'

~ G ~

Up in the attic, Ginny was in her groove, humming along to the wireless and straightening the smaller items in the overstuffed room. Any minute she expected to hear Ron (loudly) stomping up the stairs to help her, but got a very pleasant surprise when she saw Harry's messy black hair over a stack of boxes.

YES! I get to be alone with Harry…I get to be alone with Harry…WHY am I skipping?

Now maybe I can find out what's up with his odd behavior lately…just don't make a fool of yourself!

~ H ~

The first thing Harry noticed as he neared the attic was Ginny humming to some music, and his senses were assaulted by a sweet, flowery scent – Eau de Ginny. He had contemplated his feelings for Ginny many times over the past weeks, and while he wasn't sure if it was LOVE, he was most definitely sure it was more than some passing fancy.

He summoned his Gryffindor courage and said, "Er, hi Ginny. Your Mum said you might need some help…?" Brilliant, Potter! Just sound like an idiot, why don't you?

Ginny responded cheerfully, "Hi, Harry! What a nice surprise – I thought for sure I'd be stuck listening to Ron's grumbling." Unbeknownst to Harry, she was thinking, He's so gorgeous, but has such soulful eyes… Here's your chance - don't mess this up!

"Er, your Mum sent Ron out to help your dad in the shed. I think she's going to send our lunch up here in a bit. 'Hope that's OK with you." She'll probably be wishing she was anywhere else but here with you…oh well. We might as well try to make the best of it.

Just then, they could hear Mrs. Weasley bustling up the stairs. "Hello, Dears, how is everything coming along? Are you getting too warm up here? I'll set a cooling charm for you just in case. I've brought you lunch – I hope you don't mind eating up here, but I'm in the middle of reorganizing my pantry and the table is rather buried under it all. I've just sent lunch out to Ron and Arthur in the shed as well. Now, where would you like to eat?" As Ginny pointed to a more cleared area, her Mum did a quick "Scourgify" and laid out their lunch on the blanket she'd brought. "Now remember, Dears, it's best not to close the door all the way – you never know about that old door latch. Rather dodgy, that one…I've got it on Arthur's list, but there's no telling when he'll get to it. Better to just be safe, right?"

Both still absorbed in their self-talk, they sat down to eat the unexpected picnic lunch.

Harry's here with me! If you don't say something soon, he's certainly going to lose interest!

OK, Harry, don't sit there like a bump on a log – say something to her!

"I wanted to thank you for writing to me over the summer – you have no idea how much your letters helped."

"Well, we were a bit worried about how you'd be coping, stuck back at your relatives' all summer, and I'd bet my last knut that you were trying to "wallow" in it all… Admit it, we know you, Harry."

"I guess you're right… you do know me pretty well. Didn't realize I'm so predictable!" Gosh, I could get lost in those chocolate brown eyes…better be careful, or she'll notice you staring!

Oh Merlin, if I didn't know better, I could swear he's been staring at me! Get over yourself, Ginny! Probably can't believe the freckles I'm plagued with. What I wouldn't give for Lavender's complexion! "So tell me, Harry. Ron and Hermione have been arguing about whom you fancy. Ron says Cho, but Hermione says it's someone else. Who is it you fancy, if you don't mind me asking?" Oh my goodness, I can't believe you just asked him that! What will he think of you, being so bold?

Harry, who had just taken a bit of a biscuit and started to choke on it, stammered. "Who, me? No one. No one at all." The Weasleys'd kill me if they found out! Better really play it cool now. "Whatever gave you that idea? The prophecy…not a good idea for me to…it wouldn't be fair to do that to someone…no, it's best if I don't." At that moment, green eyes met brown, and his cheeks redden.

Ginny couldn't help but think, Oh, he does like someone! No way he'd blush like that otherwise. He's so sweet! I'd better work on him a bit more… "Come on, Harry. Just tell me about her. Maybe she likes you back? You could be losing all this time when you could be having fun dating like any other teenager. Why shouldn't you get to have fun, too? Must you be so noble? Who cares about some old prophecy? You deserve to go out and have fun at school like everyone else. Even if it's not with me! What year is she? She does go to Hogwarts, right?"

"Er, she's in your year…" he replied, blushing furiously.

"Is it Luna? Demelza? Is she a Gryffindor?"

"No, not them…yes, she's a Gryffindor, and I'd rather not say anything more." On the grounds that it might incriminate me…

How interesting! We'll have to see about that! "Well, this room isn't going to rearrange itself. Shall we get on with it, then?"

"That's why I'm here, isn't it?" Harry replied, grinning, and finally rid of the blush.

"Ha ha, very funny!" Focus, Ginny! You can't think that gorgeous, crooked grin of his means anything. He grins that way with any of his chums!

And with that, Ginny pointed to the first stack of boxes, and where they needed to be.

After steadily working about an hour, they came to the last obstacle: an extraordinarily large, wrapped object, left behind by the twins. As both Harry & Ginny were on either side of the monstrosity, trying to budge it over, Ginny inadvertently stepped on an old round candy (most likely a prototype of the twins'), stumbled into her side of the mystery object, and caused its edge to hit Harry 'just so' on his cheek. The next thing she heard was a mild expletive, and as she peered around the huge parcel, she saw Harry holding the side of his face with his eyes closed. Here's your chance, Weasley. You've always wanted to…

~ H ~

She moved around to Harry's side and gently kissed his sore cheek. At that very moment, Harry felt what seemed to be an electrical jolt from the contact with Ginny's lips, and all reason left him. Oh sod it, Ron'll just have to get over it, he told himself, and turned his head just slightly until his lips met hers. If he felt a simple little charge when Ginny kissed his cheek, when their lips joined it was like a bolt of lightning and the most brilliant burst of sunshine all rolled into one. This was bliss…right up there with flying and catching the snitch.

~ G ~

Oh Merlin, Harry's actually kissing ME! Harry is kissing me! As the kiss continued, she decided her imagination had nothing on this, because there was no way to predict the mind-boggling effect Harry's lips had on hers; so soft and gentle, at first like a light caress, and gradually a subtle building up of pressure. Her tongue was the first to seek out his lips, and the result was nothing short of an electric jolt bursting through both of them.

~ H ~

With this, Harry was helpless to deny his attraction to Ginny, and as he let out a soft yet unmistakable groan, deepened their kiss and allowed his hands free rein in her silky, flaming strands. When they finally broke apart, needing to breathe, all either of them could say was, "WOW."

Ginny gently held her hand to Harry's inflamed cheek, and asked, "Are you OK? I'm so…"

Harry cut off her "I'm sorry" with a quick kiss and a smile, saying, "Considering at least one of my dreams has just come true, I'm much more than OK."

One of his dreams? Ginny softly asked, "How long?" and Harry explained, however briefly, that when his nightmares began to include Ginny falling through the veil, earlier that summer, he finally realized that he truly cared for Ginny as more than a friend. "Well, Harry, you're not the only one whose dream has come true…"

Yes! Harry nervously asked, "Ginny, would you, erm, be my girlfriend?"

She responded with a sunny smile and even brighter, "Yes!" With this Harry, with a grin as big as she'd ever seen, took her by the hand, intertwining their fingers, and pulled her in for another of many kisses.

When the shadows began to lengthen around the boxes, the two teens came back down from their natural high, realizing that they still had a job to finish before Mrs. W. called them down for supper. Luckily, they got the last box moved just moments before hearing their summons from Ginny's Mum. Smiling at each other and admiring the newly-organized room, they held hands and started to head downstairs for supper…only to find the door closed and locked.

"Well, your Mum did say that door latch was dodgy…wonder how it got closed, though?"

"I dunno, but we never heard it slam like it would've if the wind had done it."

"Do you suppose…?"

"Someone closed it for us? If I didn't know better, I'd swear I saw something glinting in Mum's eye as she was leaving our lunch…"

"Or the twins?"

"I'd say that's a definite possibility. It's just like something Fred and George would do!" Ginny replied. I wonder if they noticed what was happening between us at breakfast?

"Er, yeah…what if they noticed more going on at breakfast than we thought?"

"They really are more observant than anyone gives them credit. You could say they've perfected the 'Inattentively Attentive' gift. Nothing ever got by the two of them, even when we were just kids; it's like they have a sixth sense about things around them."

"Yeah, their radar catches everything!"

"What's a radar?" A puzzled Ginny asked.

"It's what muggles use to track airplanes in the sky. Anyway, do you suppose this was all a set-up?" Harry gestured around the now-clean attic.

"I wouldn't be surprised – where do you think they got it from? Certainly not our Dad!"

"I don't really care one way or the other. I'm just glad your Mum sent me up here to help you."

"What about my falling into that huge thing and bruising your g- cheek?" Ginny, still feeling klutzy and embarrassed, gently held his purplish cheek in her hand. You almost called him gorgeous! Thank Merlin you didn't let THAT slip!

"Even that, 'cause I don't know if I would've taken the chance to kiss you without it happening," answered a grinning Harry. "Unless you kiss everyone who helps you move a few boxes?"

"Prat!" Ginny retorted, lightly slugging his shoulder, and blushing. "Of course not! You were hurt, and I only wanted to 'kiss it and make it better' for you like Mum always did for us. Somehow I doubt your Aunt ever did that for you when you got hurt as a child."

"Nope, that was the first time for me. You can kiss me and make it better anytime, though!" I can NOT believe you just said that to Ginny!

A blushing Ginny returned the sentiment, "Only for you, Potter!" Oh my gosh—I can't believe I just said that out loud!

With both teens blushing madly and grinning rather goofily, they didn't realize they were moving closer together until their noses bumped. A pair of "Oops," small chuckles, and inner monologues telling them to "Go for it!" their lips met again. After far too few moments of bliss, they heard a thunderous pounding up the stairs.

Ron, it's got to be Ron. Only he manages to sound like a heard of elephants all by himself.

Ron? Oh Merlin, 'guess I'm in for it now.

The new couple drew apart, and reading a shared question in the other's eyes, started pounding on the door to get his attention. Seconds later, the door was wrenched open by Ron, who had just come upstairs to change his shirt for dinner.

"Oh, it's you two. Too bad you got stuck up here all afternoon! Dad and I had a pretty good time of it out in the shed. Of course, Quidditch would've been better, but as chores go…"

Harry and Ginny shared another look, and he answered, again taking Ginny's hand, "Oh, I don't know about that. It was pretty OK being up here this afternoon too."

Before Ron could finish his retort, "Yeah, right, you were stuck up here with my kid sister all afternoon doing the heavy lifting…" he noticed his best mate holding his little sister's hand. "Wait a second. What were you doing all afternoon with my sister?"

"Uh, yeah mate, about this (lifting up their joined hands)…I really fancy your sister, and I think she fancies me too."

"You better believe it, Harry! And Ron, if you give Harry any grief whatsoever about dating me, I'll do that 'spider thing' the twins did to you again…when you least expect it!"

Ron shuddered, remembering the time the twins turned his favorite teddy bear into a spider, and visibly blanched at the thought of his broomstick-or something worse, his pillow!—suddenly becoming a spider when he was on it. With that dreadful image in his head, he reassured Ginny, "Alright, I promise I'll leave you two alone." Then, turning his attention back to his best mate, continued, "Just promise me you won't hurt her…and don't do anything that could get her in trouble…or…snog in front of me…'cause there are some things I just don't want to see, EVER."

"Ron, I really hope this won't cause a problem between us, but I've asked Ginny to be my girlfriend, and luckily for me she's said 'Yes.' I've liked her as more than a friend all summer, and I'm happy now. D'you think you can be happy for us?"

Ron replied, "But Ginny? That's just…" but upon seeing the fierce glare on his sister's face, quickly amended, "Good for you, Mate. It'll be a bit weird, but I'll get over it. Of course I want you to be happy. We were pretty worried about you this summer, you know."

Ginny answered her closest brother with a quick hug, saying "Thanks, Ron. That really means a lot to me. Now maybe you'll wise up about Hermione and do something too!"

Laughing, Harry slapped Ron on the shoulder and said, "Admit it, Mate. You've liked Hermione for years now, and no one knows what you're waiting for…unless you WANT her to date Viktor?"

Ron spluttered something about "Krum," yet still tried to deny his feelings for Hermione, until Ginny pulled her wand and threatened, "Would you like to feel eight legs crawling all over you? Quit denying this and put Hermione out of her misery already! Merlin only knows what she sees in you, but she likes you too. Smartest witch of her age, really. Why else would she care about what you've been doing this summer?"

"What? She's been asking about me?"

"Mate, there's only one bloke Hermione was hoping would ask her to the ball last year, and it wasn't Viktor." Harry added, "She's practically my sister, so I'm warning you, too…don't mess her around."

Just then, they were interrupted by the twins making their appearance, loudly, as usual.

"Oi, Mum sent us up here to haul your arses down for dinner!" yelled George.

Or maybe we should give the lovebirds a wee bit more time together? Shall we just…

"Kick Ron's arse downstairs? Right you are, Gred." With that, George grabbed his youngest brother by the elbow, saying, "Come on, Ronniekins, let's go."

Fred, with a wink for both Harry and Ginny, added. "Looks like Ginny's already shown Harry who's boss, eh Forge?" and grabbed Ron's other elbow to head downstairs. Before he could shut the door, Ginny pushed the door open, yelling,

"Just a minute, you two! When did you lock us in?"

"You wound us, dear Ginnikins. It was the ghoul, of course…" started Fred.

"He's decided to add matchmaking to his chain-rattling repertoire…"

"And give our favorite sis and silent investor a little…"

"Gentle"

"Nudge in the right direction. Right, Forge?"

"Quite so, Gred," added George.

"Did you really think all that flinching, shivering…"

"Heavy breathing…"

"And blushing, can't forget that—"

"Escaped our notice at breakfast?"

"Oh favorite sister, have you so little faith in us?"

"We see all."

"We know all."

"We do all!" Both twins finished in unison.

"BOYS, I asked WHEN?" demanded Ginny, in her best "Molly Weasley" voice, to which the twins (visibly taken aback) replied,

"Oh Ginnikins…"

"We think you had just kissed Harry on the cheek…"

"…to make it 'all better'."

"Sorry about the runaway Puking Pastille, by the way…usually we're-"

"Better about picking up our 'toys'."

"Boys, I'm warning you! Did you put Mum up to this, too?"

The twins, both rolling their eyes, replied, "Of course!"

"Who else could've got you both up here…"

"For some quality time together?"

Harry sheepishly said, "Er, thanks, guys. But…"

"What Harry's too nice to come right out and say is," Ginny cut in, "Leave us the hell alone now. Please?"

Harry added, "Not that I don't appreciate your help, but would you let us be, now?"

"We'll see, little Harrykins. We'll see."

At that moment, they all heard Mrs. Weasley's summons to come to dinner…"NOW," so they all trouped down the stairs, with Harry and Ginny trailing behind, still clasping hands. Just before they turned the corner into the kitchen, Harry pulled Ginny in for a quick kiss, and then they sat down side-by-side at the table. For the sake of eating, they did release the other's hand at the table, but they periodically would "accidentally" bump into each other, and share shy smiles. This did not go unnoticed by Molly, but with a raised eyebrow to the twins and Ginny, and two answering nods (and a blush from the latter), confirmed her hopes for that day's cleaning frenzy.

Harry noticed the sly looks between his Mum-and-brothers-in-all-but-blood, and was relieved that Molly appeared no less than thrilled about the idea of him dating her only daughter. "Whew!"

Arthur seemed to be wondering exactly what was up, but couldn't help but notice the way Harry and his little girl looked much more comfortable together, and their shy, sweet smiles only for each other. Once Molly smiled at him and patted his hand, giving him her look that clearly said, "I'll tell you later," he knew that his princess had found her prince after all.

~~Thanks for reading, and please review!~~