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Chapter Four – The Youngest Weasley


Blueberry scones. Mmmmmm. They were floating above her head, just barely out of reach. Reaching out to them, she found that they dissolved before her fingers were able to snatch one. She was getting more and more frustrated by their constant teasing and made a particularly hard lunge at the closest one, only to find that when she missed, the bed wasn’t there to catch her.

With a loud thump, Ginny landed in a heap at the foot of her small bed. She woke up with a start. Only a dream. Dammit. But the smell was lingering, continuing to tempt her and it took a few moments before her still sleepy brain could figure out that the scent was quite real. Her stomach let out a loud, very unfeminine growl, echoing off the rafters of her room.

The other occupant of the room, although not disturbed by the sound of a falling fifteen-year-old, instantly shot awake at the sound of her belly. “Wha-?” said a groggy Hermione.

Still bleary herself, Ginny tried to get to her feet and make her way to the loo, but tripped on the leg of her guest’s bed and landed half on, half off Hermione’s mattress.

“Ow!” Ginny shouted indignantly.

“Ahhh!” screamed a shocked Hermione.

Ginny finished sliding off the bed and resumed her position in a heap on the floor. Hermione’s head appeared over the side and they locked eyes for a second before dissolving into laughter. Ginny wiped her hair off her face and was momentarily surprised to see a deep shade of red on her palms. Then last night’s activities filtered back to her thoughts and she remembered Hermione putting some strange Muggle makeup on her face. Expecting it to disappear over night like magical makeup, she had neglected to wash it off.

“You all right?” asked Hermione.

“Yeah, just stubbed my toe,” answered Ginny, massaging the affected appendage lightly.

“What was that rumbling noise? It sounded like some kind of animal.”

Ginny looked at her friend sheepishly as she pulled herself up once again. “That would be my stomach.” She pointed at the door vaguely and asked, “You smell that?”

“Smells like blueberry scones,” Hermione replied sagely.

“My favorite. And certain body parts forget that it isn’t proper for a lady to make noises.” Ginny shrugged her shoulders and resumed her march to the loo.

After finishing her morning routine, Ginny went downstairs to find out if she could nick a few scones without being caught. Unfortunately, her mum was quite good at detecting impulsive thievery and thwarted her efforts.

“Not until everyone’s up and at the table, young lady,” she explained in her superior tone.

Dejectedly, but not without a pleading look in her mum’s direction, Ginny turned back to the living room. She was usually the first one up in the mornings and would read one of the many books they kept there. The only reason she had even tried pilfering a scone was because her twin brothers weren’t there to do it first, and blueberry really was her favorite.

Upon arriving in the living room, she was shocked to find it wasn’t empty, doubly so because of who it was that had invaded her space. A shock of messy black hair protruded from the top of the leather recliner in the center of the room. It was all she could see of him, but it didn’t matter which part of Harry Potter she saw. Ginny always knew it was him.

Heart pounding irrationally fast in her chest, she quietly padded over to the chair, careful to avoid stubbing her toe on the legs of the wooden end table. As she approached, the sound of his heavy breathing met her ears and she realized that he was sleeping. Walking in front of the recliner, his entire face came into view and she nearly fainted with happiness.

There, arrayed in all his glory was Harry Potter, the boy who had stolen her heart at the tender age of ten, the only one who would ever have her complete and total love and adoration. He had been reading a book, which was now pinned between a limp arm and his lap. The inevitable glasses were tilted slightly on his face, as if he had swatted at an invisible fly in his sleep and accidentally dislodged them. He was adorable; there was simply no other word for it. Wide awake or safely tucked away in the bonds of sleep, he was everything she wanted and needed.

Ginny shakily sat on the rug in front of the empty fireplace, never taking her eyes off the boy in front of her. It was a rare thing indeed to have an opportunity to soak in his features so privately. She wouldn’t have been able to blink if her eyes were forced closed with Spellotape. Such was the power he held over her.

Unbidden images of a happy future - wedding band on her finger, green-eyed children running happily around her, and warm arms around her waist - came flooding into her thoughts. She hadn’t daydreamed about him since her third year, yet here she was, hopelessly smitten with this wonderful, caring boy.

Harry mumbled something incomprehensible in his sleep and it brought her thoughts back to the present. Ginny was determined to cultivate every available opportunity to encourage Harry to be attracted to her, though she knew it was a real possibility that he never would be. But, in the center of her soul, she believed that Harry wouldn’t be suitable for anyone else. It was a part of her that even she didn’t fully understand. It kept her sane even when everything seemed set against him reciprocating her feelings.

The sounds of clinking plates filtered into her brain and she knew that it would be time for breakfast soon. As she continued gazing at Harry, an irrational thought stuck in her head. Acting quickly, before she could persuade herself to stop, Ginny rose and walked over to where he slumbered.

Her hand came up and grabbed a hold of his shoulder, almost without her having to make the effort. It was warm and softer than she expected. She shook him carefully; his head briefly lolled around before he caught it and his eyes fluttered open. Harry looked up at her, countenance bright and vulnerable, still unguarded from sleep. He smiled and something in her stomach lurched.

“Hi, Gin. What’s the matter?” His face showed concern and she wondered if it was because hers displayed too much of her own emotions.

“Breakfast is almost ready. Care to join us?” On the outside, Ginny was a paragon of control and grace; inside, her intestines were squirming and she was congratulating herself for not stuttering, stammering or saying anything overly stupid.

Looking pleased, Harry said, “I’d love to.” He wiped his eyes under the round spectacles, readjusted them, blinked to clear his vision, and made to get up.

Again, as if her arm were controlled by some other force, she held out her hand and offered to help him stand. He took it a little hesitantly, but his smile never diminished. Time slowed as their hands joined; her world spun and a spark of pure emotion shot up her arm. It never occurred to her that something so simple could produce such a wonderful feeling. Holding his hand last night had been wonderful, too, but the torrent of emotion flowing through her at the time had diminished the effect. Now her heart was wide open and she was unprepared for the deep, almost painful effect this contact had on her.

Harry reacted differently too, not moving off to the kitchen immediately as she expected him to. He stood slowly and faced her. She had to look up to keep eye contact, but she knew if she didn’t, the moment would be lost. She was desperate to keep this instant in time paused forever.

Despite their efforts, a voice carried from the kitchen, loudly shattering the spell that seemed to surround them. “Time for breakfast, you lot!”

Again acting differently than how she would have expected, Harry kept a steady pressure on her hand and guided her carefully to the kitchen. It was as if she were living in a dream, walking to breakfast in her own home, hand in hand with Harry Potter. The room spun as a fresh wave of emotion threatened to overpower her, but the connection she had with Harry kept her upright and conscious. It was like a lifeline, a lifeline that pulled Ginny along to some happy ending.

Before she knew it, they were seated at the table, surrounded by her family, and their hands had come unclasped. Trying to hide her disappointment and the slight redness that undoubtedly graced her cheeks, she kept her eyes on the table. After a while, she felt someone nudge her in the side and saw Hermione giving her a questioning look.

“Later,” she mouthed.

Hermione nodded but didn’t lower her eyebrows.

“Pass the butter?” she heard his low voice call to her. Looking up, she saw those green eyes radiating concern at her. Letting herself get caught up in them was so easy. All she had to do was imagine that he was looking at her because he wanted to and because he loved her. But as Ginny continued to gaze at him, Hermione’s words from last night came back to her. For the first time, she tried to imagine that he really was looking at her that way.

“Gin? The butter?” Shaking her head a bit to clear it, she took the dish and handed it wordlessly to him. But when he reached for the dish, he gripped it right where she was holding it, covering her hand with his. She gasped quietly and froze.

Harry made no indication that he had touched her hand accidentally, nor did he make any move to take his hand away. Instead, he continued to stare into her eyes and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. Was it possible? The look in his eyes was still warm and caring and it finally dawned on her that it was possible that he could like her, and maybe even love her.

After several moments, someone cleared their throat, and the world around them reappeared. Ginny’s face flushed as red as her hair and Harry slid his hand to take the dish, instead of her hand. She glanced to her right and saw Hermione smiling as widely as if it had been Ron touching her and not Harry touching Ginny. Grinning back, Ginny proceeded to finish her breakfast.

*

Immediately after breakfast, Ginny’s mum shooed them out into the garden while she prepared for Harry’s party. He still didn’t have any idea that they were all there to celebrate his birthday. Ginny knew that Fred and George were somehow involved and hoped that they wouldn’t do anything stupid, like turn Harry into a toad. It only helped a little to know that her mother would be overseeing the preparations.

It was already blazingly hot outside, so Ginny and Hermione decided to head to the pond and take a swim. The terrified look on Harry’s face when Hermione suggested it gave Ginny even more reason to think that there might be hope for their relationship, so she had readily agreed. Ron, equally red, mumbled something about Quidditch in the paddock.

Alone on the shore of the lake, they set their towels down and stretched out for a minute before getting in the water.

“So what was that at the table?” asked a very curious Hermione.

Ginny swatted at a fly impatiently and blew out a breath. “Nothing.” She tried to act innocent, but knew it wouldn’t wash with Hogwarts’ smartest witch.

“Uh huh. Harry just happened to be holding your hand when you came in from the living room? And he hated it so much that he grabbed your hand again at breakfast? Is that all?” Hermione had on her maddeningly superior look now.

“Oh, don’t be so missish,” Ginny said, trying to deflect the attack momentarily.

“Missish? Me?” Sunlight was streaming from over Hermione’s shoulder now, so it was hard to see the look on her face. “You still haven’t answered the question.”

“What was the question again?” Ginny was definitely enjoying this.

“Oh, you!” Hermione flopped down on her towel and tried to act like she didn’t care if Ginny told her anything.

After a few silent moments, Ginny gave in and started to spill. “I walked in on him in the living room asleep.” She nervously smoothed out the pleats on her bathing suit and continued, “He was very cute, just sleeping in the recliner. I couldn’t help myself, and I just stared at him, Hermione.” Ginny’s face was locked in a wistful smile, as she remembered the cute way his lips were parted.

“And I’m sure that was all it took.” Hermione stretched out her lanky body and peered at Ginny through her sunglasses. “You pining away a bit more was all he needed to start liking you?”

“I never said he liked me!” Ginny shouted. Then more quietly, “But I can’t help noticing that he’s paying me more attention.”

Hermione flashed her knowing smile, but didn’t say anything. A few minutes passed, while Ginny tried to make sense of the past twenty-four hours. “Do you think he likes me?”

When Hermione didn’t say anything for a minute, Ginny thought that she might have fallen asleep. But then Hermione got up to hug her knees and took off her sunglasses. Looking seriously at her, she said, “Yes.” The two girls stared at each other for a long time. Then without warning, a loud screech broke the silence and the next thing she knew, she was covered in water.

Spluttering in shock, Ginny could barely breathe, let alone try to figure out what had happened. She peeled back her plastered hair and looked at the lake. Ron and Harry were waist-deep in the water, laughing their heads off.

Before Ginny could work up a satisfactory curse word, Hermione beat her to it. “YOU! YOU IMBECILES!” she shouted. She let out a primal scream and dashed towards the boys in the lake. Deciding to support her best friend, Ginny quickly pulled off her shorts and ran pell-mell after her.

The boys were quite shocked at their reaction, and although the initial surprise had worn off for Ginny, she maintained her angry appearance to intimidate them. Hermione and Ginny splashed into the water, hell-bent on exacting revenge. What exactly that entailed was irrelevant.

Hermione seemed to have thought of something, however, and brandished her wand at the boys. “Accio Lake!” she screamed.

A giant section of the lake came rushing at them. Unfortunately, in her haste to pay the boys back for their cheeky display of fun, Hermione had neglected to contemplate the consequences of such a spell. They were much too close to the boys, and there was a lot of water.

Being soaked a second time in as many minutes was not on Ginny’s list of things to do that day. But as they were already in the lake, she decided to make the most of it and enjoy the cooling effects of water.

Ron was gasping for breath and Harry was clutching his sides in mirth. It was good to see him laughing and it looked like he was laughing more at Ron than anyone else.

“You think - this is - funny, Harry?” Ron said between breaths. Then he launched himself at Harry and tackled him under the lake.

There was a thrashing of water and Harry emerged, a triumphant look on his face. He was holding Ron’s swim trunks high in the air. Hermione gasped and immediately went red. Ginny chuckled and Ron was seething, half crouched in the murky lake to maintain what was left of his dignity.

“Give them back, Harry!” he yelled through barely clenched teeth.

Harry took a step towards Hermione and held them out to her. “Tell her, Ron or I’ll chuck them on the beach.”

Ron’s face went from red to white in an instant. “That’s not fair, Harry,” he whispered.

Undaunted, Harry persisted. “You’ve put this off long enough, Ron. Tell her or I’ll chuck ‘em.” He dangled the trunks playfully in front of Hermione, who seemed torn between having Harry stop the torture and finding out what Ron didn’t want to tell her.

Ginny had a pretty good idea what this was about, but wasn’t about to interfere. This was between the boys.

Ron tried to catch Harry off guard and lunged at him, but Harry’s seeker skills paid off and he was able to dodge the attack. Then Ron’s countenance changed and he said with confidence, “All right, Harry. You win.”

“Excellent!” Harry said. “Go on then.” He pointed to Hermione, “Tell her.”

Hermione turned to Ron expectantly, but Ron was looking at Harry. “I’ll tell her, if you tell her,” he pointed at Ginny. The color instantly leeched from Harry’s face and he started to stammer.

“I—but—but, she—that’s different!” He couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence and finally dropped the trunks into the water and without a sound walked slowly away.

Hermione, Ron and Ginny looked at each other curiously and shrugged at Harry’s behavior. Ron and Hermione locked eyes, and he gulped. The trunks were floating directly in front of Hermione.

She picked them up and waded over to a clearly frightened Ron. “Here’s your trunks, Ron. But don’t forget what I said in my last letter.” With that, she dropped the sodden swimwear on his head and walked out of the lake. Ginny smirked at him and shrugged, then followed her friend.

*

The rest of the morning went by quickly. Ginny hadn’t seen Harry since the incident at the lake and she was more than a bit curious about what was going on inside Harry’s head. Ron was back to moping around the house, noticeably avoiding Harry. Ginny was reading in her room and caught him peaking in just before lunch.

“Can I help you, Ron?” she asked, a little impatiently, setting her book down.

“Well,” he said hesitantly, “Is--is Hermione here?”

“No. I haven’t seen her since we got back from the lake.” Ginny debated whether or not to tell him that she was reading in the tree house, avoiding him. “You might try Percy’s room.”

“Alright,” he said and left rather quickly.

A few minutes later, her mum appeared in the door. “Get washed up, Ginny. It’s time for lunch.” Her mum was very good at hiding surprises, and even though Ginny knew that this was to be Harry’s birthday celebration, her mum’s visage was so controlled, that she had to wonder for a moment if her mum had forgotten about it.

On the way down, she was almost run over by Harry, who was staring at his feet, with his hands in his pockets.

“Ooof,” she said as they collided.

“S-sorry, Gin,” he stammered.

He was no longer staring at the floor, but at her face. “No problem, Harry,” she whispered, still holding his gaze.

A long moment passed with neither of them moving. Harry tried several times to say something, raising his hand, or cocking his head while he opened his mouth soundlessly. Ginny waited patiently for him, but it seemed he either couldn’t bring himself to verbalize whatever it was he wanted to state, or his throat just didn’t work.

At length, he finally managed to say, “Let’s just go down to lunch, Gin.”

She wanted to grab Harry and force him to tell her what he was going to say. It had to be something really important to clam him up so effectively. Instead, she reluctantly let him lead her downstairs and into the kitchen.

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