Title: I'm not in love
Author: Martine Lewis
Genre: Drama, Romance, Angst
Warnings: sexual situations, violence
Setting: AU – Ginny didn't go to Hogwarts, and Harry and Ron never became friends.
Summary: Womanizer Harry meets Ginny a few years after the war, and falls madly in love with her.
Author's Notes: This story is something I did to take a break from my other endeavours. It was highly influenced by Platinum Blonde's first album 'Standing in the Dark'. For those of you who know them, you will recognise that the name of this story is actually the name of one of their songs. For those of you who do not know them, there are a few videos on YouTube... But be warned, that was in the early 80's ... Merlin, I'm getting old!
I want to thank my beta extraordinaire Arpad for putting up with me! He is the best best best beta ever!
One last thing: for those of you who are reading Harry Potter and the Ring of Power, do know that this story did not stop me from RoP since it was written after.
Icon provided by Harry_Ginny33 at fanpop
Thank you all for reading.
"I'm not in love," said Harry, shrugging.
"But I am!" protested the woman in front of him, tears in her eyes.
He knew this was bound to happen. Another woman, among many, and he was not in love. Sex had been good, but it was all it had been for him, not love.
He sighed, looking at her.
"But I'm not. There's nothing more to it," he said, dismissively.
He hated when they just wanted to cling to him. There was just not point. He was not in love. Period. End of the discussion. Why was it so hard to understand?
And he hated the crying. But it came most of the time. He would sleep with them for a few weeks and they would imagine themselves in love with the Defeater of the Dark Lord. How pathetic, really, especially since they were only in love with the idea of dating him for his popularity, not him. All things considered, none of them really knew him.
"It's over," he said, grabbing his coat. "I think you know the way out."
And he always dismissed them the same way: leaving and expecting them to be gone when he came back. More than once, the woman had trashed his flat, but he didn't care. It was nothing a little magic could not fix. In any case, he didn't really 'live' there. It was only a place for him to bring women. In fact, he lived at 12 Grimmauld Place, the house he had inherited from his Godfather, Sirius Black, when he died a few years back.
Harry walked out of the apartment and made his way into snowy Diagon Alley. It was dark and people were on their merry way, already shopping for Christmas, which was a month away. Again, Christmas would be a lonely affair for him. He had been invited to the most upscale and sought after parties of the year, but honestly, he didn't really want to go. He would probably meet another woman and have meaningless sex just to forget how lonely he really was.
His best friend Hermione had invited him to come with her to her boyfriend's house, but he didn't really know the family very well and didn't want to impose on them. Hermione and he had gone to school together at Hogwarts. Ron Weasley had also attended but Harry and he had never grown very close. Harry had just been too busy with saving the world to really make friends. However, Hermione had imposed on the lonely brooding boy he had been and they had become friends. She was now working with him in their private investigation and bodyguard firm. She was bringing in the clients and doing the paper research while Harry did the field investigating and the body guarding.
It was getting late and most of the shops were closing for the night. Nobody bothered him. He had to admit, since he had eye surgery and wore glasses only when he was officially out in public to keep up the appearances, people did not recognized him as often. And this evening, he had a hat and a scarf which hid most of his face, making him one with the crowd.
He stopped at a bench and sat, looking at the crowd around him. Kids with parents, couples holding hands, teenagers enjoying a nice snowy night surrounded him. People were happy. They were safe, they had friends and family, and everything was mostly right with the wizarding world.
But Harry Potter was miserable, lonely, and without family.
A door opened in front of him and Harry heard a laugh.
"Matilde, don't say that!" said a red headed witch, holding the door open from the inside for someone else. "You love him all the same."
"Yes, I do," answered another witch, walking out the open door. "But what about you, Ginny? When will you join the happily matched club? You're yet to have someone show you what it is to be loved."
"When the right one comes around," answered the red-headed, blushing furiously. "He hasn't shown up yet! And you shouldn't be discussing my... personal life in the street like this, Matilde."
Harry looked at her, intrigued. She was not the most beautiful woman he had ever seen but she was definitely pretty in her own way. Petite, maybe a head shorter than him, she had long red hair all the way to the middle of her back. Her skin was pale as cream and her checks were freckled. Her eyes were brown and full of merriment.
No, she was not the most beautiful woman in the world but Harry could see spirit in her, a spirit that called to him, which gave the promise of so much more.
"Don't work too late, Ginny," said Matilde. "I'll be here tomorrow morning to help you stock the shelves."
"Okay, if you insist. I may actually go to my parents' house for the rest of the evening," said Ginny. "They have asked me to come over."
"Yes, you do that. See you tomorrow."
Ginny closed the door and locked it behind her. She went to the windows and closed the blinds. A few minutes later, the lights went out and Harry looked at the shop's sign. 'Ginny's Fashion'. The lights coming on on the upper floor grabbed his attention, making him realize Ginny probably lived up there. After a few minutes looking at the shadows she made, he left for his own house.
The day after
Harry was tired. Hermione and he had just reported on their latest investigation for their biggest client, the Ministry of Magic. A few days prior, they had just located a cell of Death Eaters and the arrests had taken place the same afternoon. It was satisfactory to know their investigation had been so successful but at the same time, he knew how investigating could be demanding and exhausting.
Their success on this fourth endeavour for the Ministry had now provided them with the opportunity to choose which cases they wanted to work on. Effectively, Hermione had left with four case files for which they could pick from. Harry was happy to let her do the picking as he saw most cases as one and the same: find bad guy, tip the authorities, witness the arrest, report to client, testify in court. Case closed.
Harry walked into the super market, a few shops away from the Ministry of Magic. The shop was surprisingly empty since it was about an hour after most office workers were done with their work day. Harry assumed most people were now home, eating dinner.
Harry had just walked into an alley when he saw Ginny, the red-headed he had seen close her shop a few days before. She was even prettier than he remembered. Her long straight hair was a rich golden red which shinned in the store lights. Her pale crème skin looked like soft duvet. From so close, he could see long lashes and rich brown eyes. He was wondering how to approach her when she rose on her tiptoes and tried to reach for a tea container on the upper shelf without success, being about a hand span too short.
Harry walked to her and grabbed the container for her. He gave it to her with a smile, feeling a tingle all over his body when her delicate hand touched his.
"Thank you," she said. "You know, one would think I would learn. Every time I need tea, I try to grab it and every time, I am too short," she added with a grin.
"And that is where people like me – who are a little taller – come in handy," said Harry, grinning also. "I'm Harry," he added, offering her his hand.
"Ginny," she said, shaking it.
At her contact, Harry felt the tingle again and wished he could hold on to her hand for a little while longer.
"Do you usually do your shopping here?" asked Harry.
"Yes," answered Ginny. "I live a few blocks away. And you?"
"No," answered Harry. "Only when I'm here on business. I live in Muggle London," he added.
It never crossed Harry's mind to tell her about his rented flat, a few blocks away. The flat was really not where he lived, just where he took women, and Harry had the feeling Ginny would not be one of his numerous and meaningless conquests.
They continued their shopping, talking about the weather and the Christmas shoppers.
"Listen, I was wondering, would you get coffee with me sometime this week?" Harry suddenly asked when Ginny was paying for her purchase, surprising even himself.
"I would love to," answered Ginny with a grin. "Is tomorrow night about this time okay with you?"
"Yes, that would be brilliant. Where do I meet you?"
"What about in front of my shop, Ginny's Fashion?"
"Oh! Okay," he said.
Ginny took her grocery bag and turned to him.
"I'll see you tomorrow then," she said.
"Yes, see you tomorrow."
The day after
"I've looked at the cases provided to us by the Ministry and I think we should take this one," said Hermione, putting a file in front of Harry. "I think it would be a change of pace for us."
They were both sitting at the kitchen table of Grimmauld Place, eating a late breakfast.
"Artefact dealers?" asked Harry, glancing at the file.
"I thought it would be a nice change from catching Death Eaters."
Harry looked at the file again.
"The Ministry think this... Dawson Maroney is involved in dark artefact dealing?" he asked, looking up. "Yes, you're right; it would be a change of pace. There is not a lot of information in there; do we know more?"
"Well, no," answered Hermione. "That is why they are asking us to look into it. Right now, they don't have enough information to dedicate their own resources to the case and they want us to find out if there is more to it before they do."
"Hum," said Harry. "So, they think he may be dealing in dark artefacts but they don't know what and they don't know how... What are the three other cases about?" he suddenly asked.
"Death Eaters," answered Hermione without a lot of enthusiasm. "Harry, please take the dark artefact dealer. Maybe there will be some interesting research for a change."
Harry grinned at her. Death Eaters did not require enough book research to hold Hermione's interest for very long and he knew she usually got bored on those cases. However, catching bad guys like Death Eaters was something he always liked to do.
"Maybe this artefact dealer is worse than a Death Eater, when you think about it," added Hermione, trying to convince him.
She definitely knew him too well.
"Okay," he said. "We'll investigate him. I guess it will be a stakeout for me. Where do I find him?"
"He has a shop on Knockturn Alley," said Hermione, taking back the file. "And he lives on one of the side streets of Diagon Alley called... Moonlight Alley. Strange," added Hermione with a sudden frown, "I thought that street was mostly inhabited by vampires."
"Yes, it is," said Harry. "Is there a possibility that our dealer is a vampire?"
"The file doesn't say," answered Hermione. "I'll look into it. If our dealer is a vampire, we will have to change some of our tactics."
"And in the meantime, I'll follow him."
But following Dawson Maroney proved to be harder than Harry had anticipated. The dealer was incredibly stealthy and Harry began to seriously question if he was dealing with a wizard or a vampire as he could not detect any magic around the man. Harry thought he was simply too good at concealing himself for a wizard but he hesitated in confirming the dealer was a vampire since the man was around and about in broad daylight.
At the end of the day, frustrated by his lack of success, Harry was looking forward to his time with Ginny.
And he was not disappointed.
Ginny was not only sharp witted, but feisty and funny. Contrarily to the women he met in bars and clubs, she was her own person and did not live to please others.
"You did not attend Hogwarts, did you?" asked Harry.
"No. My parents sent me to Beauxbatons in France," she answered. "That is where I developed a taste for fashion. The French do know a thing of three about fashion and students at Beauxbatons are not immune. I have to admit, dressing up for special occasion is probably my only concession to vanity."
Harry looked at her in amusement. It was hard to imagine she would actually dress up, especially since she was now wearing an old pair of red jeans and a stripped jumper which had seen better days.
"So I take it you speak French very well."
"Oui, Monsieur," she answered, with a smile.
"Why Beauxbatons, really?"
"Because of Voldemort," she answered. "Just before I began school, they were words he had been seen again, that he was back. Of course, most people did not believe it but my parents did. They wanted me out of England for as much as possible to keep me safe."
Harry knew the story only too well. He had been the one to witness the first apparition of a very weak Voldemort who then lived as a parasite in another. At that time, Voldemort had sought the Philosopher's Stone and had tried to take it from eleven year old Harry.
"I was a little disappointed at first," continued Ginny. "After all, my six brothers went to Hogwarts. But Beauxbatons was such a wonderful place that my disappointment was very short lived."
"Six brothers?" asked Harry.
"Yeah. I'm a Weasley... Big families run in the family," she added with mischief.
"So tell me about Beauxbatons," said Harry.
While they compared school stories, Harry wondered if she had figured out who he was especially since she didn't ask him about his family. Without his glasses and with bangs covering his forehead, it usually took time for people to recognise him. He didn't know if he wanted her to, afraid she would be different if she did. But after a while, any thoughts of who he was fled his mind as he enjoyed Ginny's spirit.
The perfect gentleman, Harry escorted her back to her store at the end of the evening.
"Can we... can we get coffee again... soon?" he asked shyly, when Ginny was about to enter her store.
"Yes, sure," answered Ginny with a smile. "You know where to find me," she added mysteriously, closing the door of her store behind her.
After locking the door, she walked to the back of the store and climbed the stairs to her flat. Her flat was a simple affair: a small kitchenette, a living room and a small bedroom. It was small but it was all hers and it was enough for her. She loved it out there, away from her sometimes overwhelming family. She could do what she wanted, when she wanted, and she did not have to explain herself to anybody, but herself.
She cast a fire in the fireplace and, with a sigh, sat on the sofa.
She knew perfectly well who Harry was. She had figured it out last night, when she had been lying in bed, replaying in her head why he had looked so familiar in the grocery store. And she had to be honest with herself: Harry Potter had a reputation, and a bad one at that.
Ginny remembered the headlines: 'Harry Potter newest conquest', 'Our hero breaks another heart', 'Harry Potter has done it again: a new day, a new woman'. Ginny had told herself that the hero of her childhood was in fact a dick and her interest in him had decreased with every new conquest he had made.
On the other hand, she remembered when she saw him on Platform 9 3/4, when Ron had begun school. She remembered his almond shape green eyes, hidden behind glasses, and the scare on his forehead. He had been so impressed by the wizarding world at the time. Knowing she would not get to know him was one of the major reasons why she hadn't been enthused in going to Beauxbâtons.
Nowadays, all pictures of him in the newspaper showed him wearing glasses and with a woman on his arm, very rarely the same one. This wass why it took her a while to realize the man from the grocery store was in fact Harry Potter. The man did not wear glasses and his bangs did a good job at hidding his scar.
But the man she met at the grocery was so different from what was portrayed in the newspaper. He didn't behave like a womanizer at all. In fact, he was rather shy and a lot insecure. Ginny found this surprisingly intriguing: why would the womanizer of the wizarding world be so shy around her? This shyness was what had drawn her to accept another coffee invitation against her better judgement which told her to run away from him as far and as fast as she could.
But another coffee date wouldn't hurt, would it?
One week after (3 ½ week until Christmas)
"Hermione, this is not working very well," said Harry frustrated after three days trying to follow Dawson Maroney. "I just cannot keep up with the man. He keeps on disappearing on me."
"Well, he is not registered as a vampire or a half-vampire," she said puzzled.
"Do you know a way to make him visible?"
Hermione frowned in concentration.
"I think I may have an idea," she said slowly.
She looked up at Harry.
"Yes, it may just work... Leave it to me. By tomorrow morning you may be able to follow him better."
"What are you going to do?"
"Put a tracer on him," said Hermione with a smile. "Something he won't know is there but would enable you to follow him."
And true to her word, the day after, Harry could follow the magical tracer Hermione had placed on the dealer's coat. The goings of the dealer were greatly unsatisfying. Nothing, during the next few days had been very revealing until that night, shortly before closing time, when he paid a visit to Ginny's Fashion Shop. Harry waited outside, looking at the dealer conversing with Ginny. He could not hear what they were saying, but Ginny was smiling and laughing, as if the man was making jokes. After a few minutes, she took him throughout the shop, showing him some dresses. A few minutes later, he set his mind on a dress and left the shop after paying for it.
Intrigued, Harry frowned. To his knowledge, it was the first shop the dealer had visited since Harry began following him. And, to make matters even more intriguing, Harry could not recall having seen or heard of any woman in the man's entourage, making the purchase of a dress somewhat surprising.
One day after
"I don't know, Ginny, I think I will try the blue one," said Hermione, looking at herself in a mirror.
She was wearing a black dress which fitted her very well but made her look rather pale.
At her friend's demand, Ginny went through the store and came back a few moments later with a red dress. Hermione looked at the short red-headed with a frown. Both of them hadn't known each other for very long and when Ginny had came back to England after her graduation, she had found herself with no friends to speak of. When she had met Hermione, who had just begun going out with her brother Ron, the two had hit it off immediately.
"Ginny, what's going on?" asked Hermione seriously.
"Nothing. Why?" asked Ginny.
"Because I said the blue dress."
Ginny looked at the dress in her hand and said: "Oh!"
"Ginny, I know something is on your mind. You are not usually so distracted."
Ginny looked away, blushing slightly.
"Oh! Dear Merlin!" said Hermione. "You met a guy!"
"Well, yeah," answered Ginny hesitantly.
"So what is the problem?"
"I don't know if I should get involved with him."
"Why is that?"
"He's got a reputation, you see. And not a good one," answered Ginny.
"How bad can it really be?" asked Hermione with amusement.
"He's Harry Potter," answered Ginny.
"Oh! I see," said Hermione. "I think you and I should get some tea."
Hermione changed while Ginny went to tell her assistant she was taking a break and going to her flat. A few minutes later, they were sitting in Ginny's living room, sipping tea.
"You know I went to Hogwarts, right?" began Hermione quietly. "And I got to know Harry pretty well."
"So, what would you make of him?" asked Ginny.
"Well, I think the newspapers are very shallow when it comes to Harry," she answered.
"What do you mean by that?" asked Ginny, frowning.
"Well, I think they do him a disservice by not saying the entire story," said Hermione. "He does have a lot of conquests but what the papers do not say is why. I don't think he does it because he is a player. I think he does it because he is very lonely."
"Oh!" said Ginny. "So what would you suggest?"
"The only advice I can tell you is to follow your heart," said Hermione. "Harry is not a bad person. Yes, he has a bad reputation with women but there is a reason behind his behaviour. I think once he finds somebody he really loves, he won't run around.
"Mind you, don't let him get into your pants right away," added Hermione, with a chuckle. "But follow what your heart tells you to do."
One day after (3 weeks before Christmas)
"Something very strange happened in my surveillance two days ago. Our target bought a dress."
Hermione looked at Harry with a frown.
"And why is it so strange?"
"Because I'm yet to see a woman with him," answered Harry. "Hermione, what do you know about Ginny Weasley?"
"She's a very good friend of mine. Actually, she's Ron little sister."
"Oh! I see."
"Why do you ask?"
"Because it's where he went. He bought the dress from her shop and I was wondering if she may not be involved with whatever he is involved in."
"Harry, no. She is not. Believe me," said Hermione firmly. "Ginny is as straight as they come."
Harry looked away and, after a few moments, Hermione returned to the file she had been writing in. Harry wondered if Hermione knew he had been seeing Ginny but didn't dare tell her about it. Somehow, he wanted to hold on to the way Ginny made him feel and he had the impression talking about her to anyone would break the magic. Maybe the magic came from the fact she wasn't plastered all over the papers as being his newest conquest... But thinking of her as a conquest seemed to diminish what they had, and Harry didn't want it to change.
"Is the tracer still working?" asked Hermione.
"Yes, but for a reason or another, it is becoming harder and harder to keep up with it, as if something was interfering with its magic."
Hermione took another note.
"I really wonder what type of person we are dealing with," said Harry. "I spoke to some of my informants and nobody seems to really know about him."
"Have you talked to any vampires?"
"No, not yet," answered Harry. "Why do you ask?"
"The more I think about it, the more I think he is a half-vampire," she answered. "I'll do some research. We haven't really dealt with one of those before. We better be prepared."
"And I better get back to my tailing... While we talk, he may be up to something."
The day was snowy and rather charming.
But Harry hated Christmas. It only reminded him of how lonely he really was.
He was sitting in his kitchen, slowly eating a tasteless breakfast when an owl flew into the room. It landed on the table next to him and shook its snowy feather.
"Now, who can send you in this awful weather?" asked Harry, standing up and getting owl treats from the cupboard.
He gave a few treats to bird and took the message from its leg. With one swift pull, he broke the seal and opened the scroll.
"Tea tonight at 7pm. My shop. Please confirm by return owl. G.," it said.
Ginny wanted to see him? On Christmas day?
Harry grabbed a quilt and flipped the scroll. He wrote a 'Okay. H,' and attached the letter to the owl leg, puzzled. Why would Ginny want to see him on Christmas night? She had a family and he was pretty sure she was celebrating with them at the moment.
Why would she want to interrupt her family time for him?
Of course, they had been getting tea almost every night for the last month and Harry had to admit, he greatly enjoyed his time with her. She was funny and charming, on top of being pretty. He genuinely liked her and often, he wondered if she liked him in return.
But he was yet to tell her who he really was. Not that he had hidden it. He simply hadn't said it. He didn't think his friendship with Ginny would survive her knowing he was in fact Harry Potter. After all, he had quite a reputation and a bad one at that... And he didn't want to lose what he had with her.
It was a few minutes before 7pm that night when he arrived at Ginny's shop. The lights were on and he tried the door handle: it was unlocked.
"Ginny?" he called as he walked in.
"Right here," she answered from the back of the store.
And there she was, pretty as ever, dressed in a red sweater and blue jeans. When she saw him, she gave him a radiant smile which made his inside do flip flops.
"I thought you would want some company for Christmas," she said.
For a moment he wondered how she knew he was alone that night. He didn't remember having discussed it with her. In fact, he was rather certain he hadn't since his loneliness was a rather dark side of his life and he wasn't yet ready to share it with anyone.
"But weren't you with your family?" he asked her.
"Yes but they are enough of them to be able to keep themselves company for a little while... I don't think they will even notice I'm gone," she added with mischief. "Come. The tea will get cold," she said, indicating two comfortable chairs and a little coffee table. Harry recognized them as the chairs used by the people – usually men – who waited on the ones who were trying dresses. He took one and Ginny took the other.
Harry didn't know how long they talk. The only thing he knew was that she was with him and, like the few dates before, he was now holding her delicate hand in his own. She was warm and soft, and he could not get enough of her touch.
But soon enough, it was time for her to go back to her family and for him to go back to his empty house. She had just locked the door behind them when she turned to him and their eyes meet. Slowly, like in a Muggle movie, she reached on her tip toes and kissed him, timidly at first but when he gave in to her, she deepened the kiss. Harry did not remember having ever enjoyed kissing a woman as much. She tasted of treacle tart and warm tea, and it was wonderful. When she broke the kiss, he would have cried in protest.
"You know, Harry Potter, we've been having tea for over a month now. I think we can safely graduate to dinner," she said.
She knew who he was.
She knew who he was and had kissed him anyway.
And wait a second, did she say dinner?
He looked at her puzzled.
"Again, if you don't want to go, I'll understand," she added in the lengthening silence.
"No! I'd loved to go! I just wasn't sure I had heard you right," he said shyly. "You... you knew who I am?"
"Of course," she answered. "I figured it out the night you gave me the tea at the grocery store."
"You've known all that time and you... you let me take you out to tea?"
"Yes, I did. You seem surprised."
"Well, yeah," he answered. "I didn't think a girl like you would want anything to do with a guy like me."
"A girl like me?"
"Well, you know, professional, intelligent, sweet, and caring," he said with humility.
Harry couldn't meet her eyes. He felt like crying. Any seconds now, he thought she would walk away and tell him he was right: a girl like her would never like a guy like him. Ever.
"Harry," she said gently, caressing his cheek so he would look at her. "Don't sell yourself short. The man I met at the grocery store is sweet and caring too," she said with a smile. "And I would really like if he could build the courage to invite me out to dinner."
"I'd love that very much," he answered smiling also.
Ginny kissed him again and this time, Harry met her halfway.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'd love that too."
Without adding anything, Ginny took a step back and disapparated.
"How was your friend, dear? Why didn't you ask him to come along? We would have welcomed him."
Ginny looked at her mother fondly. Her mother was welcoming to a fault and would have taken in any stray if it meant they would not be alone.
"He's fine," answered Ginny with a smile at her mother. "I think he was not expecting company for Christmas. To tell you the truth, mum, I think he has always been alone for Christmas... It is sad, really," added Ginny suddenly pensive.
"You should have asked him to come," repeated Mrs Weasley.
"I don't think he would have. I'll ask him if he wants to come over for New Year's Day."
Ginny took her wand and began to put away the dishes her mother was washing.
"You like this young man, don't you, dear?" asked her mother after a few minutes of silence.
"Yes," answered Ginny quietly.
"Why so quiet, dear?"
"Because of who he is... Mum, he's Harry Potter," said Ginny.
"Oh! I see."
"I know," said Ginny with a sigh. "Not the type of guy you bring home to meet your mother."
"Well, if we are to believe the paper, I would agree with you," said Mrs Weasley. "But Ginny, dear, are the papers always right?"
Ginny smiled sadly at her mother. She had been wondering the same thing herself but everything about Harry was telling her there were more to him, a lot more in fact.
"Thanks mum," she said. "I'm glad you think the papers have it all wrong."
"And what do you think?"
"I think you're right."
"Well, let me tell you this: I met Harry during the war. Mind you, I didn't get to know him very well but I did meet him at some of the Order meetings. He was a very lonely child back then and I'm pretty sure he is still lonely. But I also saw a very generous boy with a very big heart who was so selfless he just didn't know when to stop sacrificing himself for others.
"When I saw the papers after the war, I suspected something may have broken in him. All that loneliness... I think he just needs to find his way again."
"Oh! Mum!" said Ginny, tears in her eyes. "I like him."
"Come here," said Mrs Weasley, pulling her daughter in a hug. "I think I know. You're 19 years old, Ginny. You are old enough to finally give in to your heart."
Ginny gently pulled away and wiped her tears.
"Thank you, mum. I'll try to invite him for the New Year's Celebrations."
"Yes, it would be wonderful, dear."
Ginny was having breakfast in the Burrow's kitchen with her mother and Hermione when an owl pecked on the window to be let in, early the next morning.
"Who can be sending post at that hour?" asked Mrs Weasley, standing up and opening the window.
The owl flew in and landed on the table next to Ginny. Ginny looked up at her mother and Hermione intrigued before taking the scroll away from its leg. She quickly untied it and unrolled it.
I would like to invite you to dinner, tonight, at a Muggle restaurant in downtown London. Please dress to impress. I will be picking you up at 8pm in front of your shop.
Please confirm your presence with return owl.
"Well, what is it?" asked Mrs Weasley when Ginny would only reread the note in her hand.
"He invited me to dinner," said Ginny, looking up at her mum with a grin.
"Well, that's good, wouldn't you say?"
"Who? Harry?" asked Hermione.
"Yes. He wants me to dress to impress... Oh! I've got to pick up a dress! What am I to wear?"
"Not to worry, dear," said Mrs Weasley, dismissing the question with a wave of her hand. "You have a shop full of dresses, don't you?"
"Oh! I do," said Ginny with a grin. "Hermione, would you come and help me pick one?"
"Sure," answered Hermione, grinning also.
And Harry was coming, just like he had said.
Ginny looked at him approaching from the other end of the street. He looked nervous, very nervous, and he was smiling like a shy kid. And she found him incredibly gorgeous. She wished she was looking okay, covered in her long black winter coat. And she hoped her dress would be enough to keep his attention focused on her for the night.
"Hi," he said, shyly taking her hand and giving her a peck on the check. "Ready?"
"Yes," she answered with a reassuring smile.
"You mind if we Apparate? I don't fancy walking halfway across London."
He gently took her arm, laid it on her own, and Apparated them in a back alley.
"Okay there?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you," she answered. "Where are we?"
They left the alley and Ginny noticed they were in one of the nicest London neighbourhoods. Nicely dressed people were walking around, talking, laughing and going about their business. Some of them stopped at posh restaurants while others went to bars or took taxis to visit other venues. Harry took them to an expensive looking restaurant with floor to ceiling front windows. Table clothes and seats were white as were the waiters' uniforms. Harry opened the door for her and she preceded him inside. They walked to the Maitre D' who took them to a table after verifying their reservation.
"Harry, this is very nice."
"I was hoping you would like it."
Ginny looked around and, to her dismay, saw only very beautiful women around her. She looked back at Harry who was reaching to assist her with her coat. The Maitre D' escorted them to a table and gave them menus. Ginny looked around nervously hoping her dark blue dress was adequate and then looked at Harry who seemed to have lost the ability to breath.
"What's wrong?" she asked worried.
"You are... you are so beautiful," he said quietly.
Ginny blushed as red as only a Weasley could.
"Thank you," she mumbled. "I was hoping you would like it."
"I really do," he said quickly.
Dinner was pleasant and slow. Harry was as charming as ever and their conversation was as entertaining as ever. Their waiter had just removed their desert plates when Ginny excused herself and visited the restroom.
"My dear, where did you get this dress?" asked a middle aged lady when Ginny was washing her hands.
"I... I made it," answered Ginny.
"You made it? But this is marvellous! Where are you from, dear?"
"Sussex, M'am," answered Ginny.
"Oh! Even better. Dear, do you have a storefront?"
"No," answered Ginny who knew better than to mention her shop in Diagon Alley.
"Is it only a hobby then?"
"No," answered Ginny. "I just don't have a big volume yet."
That wasn't really the case since in the wizarding world, her dresses were rather popular, but it was true enough in the muggle world.
"Do you have a card?"
"Not with me but my boyfriend may have one in his wallet."
"I would love to get it!" said the lady. "I would love to see if you and I couldn't work together in the future."
"Sure," answered Ginny. "Let me go get one."
Ginny, excited, walked out of the restroom and wondered if Harry would be able to magic a business card of some sort for her. She had no idea how Muggles got in contact with one another but she was pretty sure they didn't use owls. She definitely needed Harry on this one.
"Harry," said Ginny to his ear when she got back to the table. "There is a lady in the loo who wants my business card... Do you think you can help me with this?"
"Sure," answered Harry with a smile. "Cover me a little."
He removed his wand and a piece of paper from his wallet. He waived his wand a few time and transformed the paper into a light pink business card with fancy letters.
"The number on there is Hermione's cellular phone. Tell the lady Hermione takes your calls or something. We can let Hermione know what we have done later," he added with a mischievous grin.
Ginny grinned back at him and left for the restroom. The lady was still there, chatting away with another patron. Ginny waited patiently and grabbed her attention when she looked up.
"We are in luck," said Ginny with a smile. "My boyfriend did have some of my cards on him. This is my friend and assistant Hermione's number. She takes calls for me."
"Thank you, dear," said the lady, taking the nice looking card. "We'll be in touched."
Ginny left and returned to her table. As she walked towards him, Harry's eyes followed her every moves.
"How did it go?" asked Harry once she was seated.
"Good, I think... I wonder who the lady was."
"I don't know but I'm not surprised she wants one of your dresses. You are definitely the most beautiful women in here tonight."
Blushing, Ginny mumbled another 'Thank you'.