Feelings Detained by snarky24



Summary: Harry and Ginny struggle with their complicated feelings for each other as Ginny takes her first steps to pursuing a Quidditch career. A series of detentions, a lucky adventure, and a new invention from Fred and George help them cut through the tension and find their way to each other. Set alongside the events of HBP and sequel to “Secrets and Slugs.”
Rating: PG-13 starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Alternate Universe, Post-HBP
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Secrets and Luck
Published: 2017.12.30
Updated: 2018.01.15


Feelings Detained by snarky24
Chapter 1: A Flicker of Hope
Author's Notes:

**A/N: Reminder, this story won't make sense if you don't read The Unlucky Potion and Secrets and Slugs first!**

Ginny stumbled out of the fireplace into Professor McGonagall’s office. She hated traveling by Floo. The spinning made her nauseous, and the soot was impossible to get out of her hair.

Normally, she and Ron would have taken the Hogwarts Express back to Hogwarts after the Christmas holiday, but tightened security around Harry’s visit to the Burrow this year meant they’d all need to use the Floo network to get back to the castle.

She felt her ankle buckle as she moved toward Ron, not realizing there was a step down from the hearth. Ron seemed to have anticipated this, catching her easily.

“Thanks,” she muttered as he steadied her.

“That step got me, too,” he said gruffly. “Better clear out. Harry’s clumsy with the Floo.”

Ginny took a few steps away from the hearth. She wanted to slip off quickly to avoid Harry. A lot had come out at their poker game last night–and Ginny was not ready to examine any of her feelings about it. It was hard enough eating breakfast with Harry shooting glances at her across the table. She didn’t need to spend more time with him now that they were back at Hogwarts.

She motioned to the door. “I think I’ll just head to the common room on my own–”

“Miss Weasley, I’ll need to discuss your detentions with you before you go,” said Professor McGonagall briskly.

Ginny stiffened, her eyes darting over to Professor McGonagall, who was writing at her desk and had not looked up. “Yes, Professor,” she said quietly.

Even though she knew she deserved it, Ginny was not looking forward to the four weeks of detention that she’d earned over the winter holidays. She did not regret breaking the underage magic restrictions to save Harry from drowning in the lake, but she knew the detentions would be a bitter pill to swallow nonetheless.

A few feet away from her, the fire roared to life again, and Harry came crashing out as if he’d been thrown. He collided hard with Ginny, who let out a yelp and collapsed into Ron.

“Harry!” groaned Ron. “We’d even moved out of the way this time, but you still managed to take us out.”

Harry scrambled to his feet, mumbling. “Sorry, I didn’t want to get off at the wrong grate...”

He extended a hand to Ginny to help her up. She ignored it, keeping her eyes trained on the ground as she clambered to her feet.

Ron took Harry’s hand gladly. “Thanks, mate.”

“Er–sure,” muttered Harry. Ginny could feel his eyes on her as she walked to the window and leaned against it under the pretense of looking outside.

Gazing absently at the placid lake below, her stomach turned as she remembered the secrets she’d shared with Harry and her brothers at the poker game–her secret gambling at the Hog’s Head, the truth about her breakup with Michael, the fact that her parents didn’t know about Dean...

She shuddered. Dean didn’t know any of these things about her, and he would be hurt to hear it from Ron or Harry. But they’d all agreed to keep quiet, and now she would have to trust them to keep their word.

Professor McGonagall’s voice interrupted her thoughts and she turned away from the window abruptly. “Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter, why don’t you run along while Miss Weasley and I sort out her detentions?”

Ron turned toward the door, but Harry didn’t move. Even with his back turned to her, she could see him stiffen. “Professor, I’d like to talk to you about that as well.”

He motioned for Ron to go. “I’ll catch up with you later,” he said in a low voice. Ron rolled his eyes, but said nothing as he pushed through the door. It shut with a loud thud behind him.

“You want to talk about Miss Weasley’s detentions?” asked Professor McGonagall, peering at him over the top of her glasses looking confused.

“Yes,” said Harry. “Dumbledore told you what happened?”

“Indeed. I was very disappointed to hear you were the ringleader in that mess,” she replied, giving him a disapproving glare.

“And I deeply regret it,” said Harry heavily. He looked back at Ginny and his eyes met hers, full of remorse.

Feeling a stab of annoyance, she turned back to the window. Harry had already apologized, and she didn’t need to hear it again. Did Harry really think she’d had no choice in the situation? Did he truly believe he had the power to persuade her to do something against her will? She knew that following him beyond the protective wards around the Burrow had been wrong, and she was willing to pay the consequences.

Professor McGonagall said nothing. Ginny heard Harry’s feet shift on the stone floor.

“I want to serve the detentions in Ginny’s place. It wasn’t her fault–” he started.

“Absolutely not, Mr. Potter!” said Professor McGonagall, unable to hide the note of surprise in her voice. “The Ministry made it clear that Miss Weasley is to serve these detentions.”

“Then at least give me the same punishment!” he protested with a heat in his voice that made Ginny turn back to look at him. His fists were clenched, and his body seemed to be vibrating with barely contained anger.

“You know it would be highly suspicious if you were given the same detentions for no reason,” retorted Professor McGonagall.

But Harry wasn’t giving up. “Professor, I’m sure there are many plausible reasons to put me in detention–”

“Reasons to which I am gladly ignorant,” she said dismissively. “Goodbye, Mr. Potter.”

She walked to the door and opened it.

Harry’s face fell. “Professor, please–”

“It’s too late to be gallant now,” she said acidly.

“I’m not being gallant. It’s the right thing to do,” he muttered, as he stalked out the door.

Professor McGonagall closed the door behind him and swept back to her desk, taking a seat. Ginny suspected that Harry would not give up that easily. She wondered how many points Gryffindor would lose in Harry’s pursuit of detention over the coming weeks.

She felt another stab of annoyance at Professor McGonagall’s last comment–Harry was being gallant. Perhaps he still saw her as the helpless little girl lying unconscious in the Chamber, waiting to be saved. She didn’t need his gallantry. Hadn’t she saved his life just a few days ago? It seemed that some things would never change.

But Harry’s words from yesterday’s poker game came drifting back to her. Chocolate, Quidditch, and adventures.

Could it be possible that his gallantry was motivated by something else?

Ginny shook herself. It didn’t matter what Harry thought. She put him out of her mind as Professor McGonagall cleared her throat.

“Your four weeks of detention will start next week and you will serve one week per month over the next four months,” she said calmly, as if she hadn’t just argued with Harry. “As you know, the faculty rotates detention supervision responsibilities, so your schedule and tasks will vary depending upon who is overseeing your punishment. I will be supervising your first week, then Professor Slughorn, Professor Snape, and Hagrid will follow.

“You will meet me in my classroom immediately after your last class every day next week. Bring your school books and homework. Plan to be there for an hour. That should give you plenty of time to make it to Quidditch practice.”

Professor McGonagall gave her a small smile. Ginny returned it, grateful that she wouldn’t miss Quidditch for at least one of the four weeks.

“Thank you, Professor,” she said quietly. She moved to leave, but stopped when Professor McGonagall spoke again.

“One more thing…” she said, her tone softening. She opened her desk drawer and pulled out what looked like a copy of Quidditch Today magazine. “This is for you.”

Ginny tentatively took the magazine, which had been opened to the Features section. She immediately recognized Viktor Krum’s surly face at the top of the page with the headline, “Wimbourne Wasps Sign Bulgarian Star Seeker Viktor Krum.”

She stared blankly at Professor McGonagall, wondering why she was sharing this with her. “This is great news for Viktor,” said Ginny, not knowing what else to say.

It was, in fact, great news for him since the Wimbourne Wasps were part of the English Premier Quidditch league, one of the most competitive professional leagues in Europe. Viktor had previously been playing for the Vratsa Vultures in the smaller Bulgarian Elite league.

“I thought you might be interested in this article since Mr. Krum talks a bit about his career and how he made his first professional team,” said Professor McGonagall.

Ginny raised her eyebrows, her interest piqued. For years now, she’d dreamed of playing professional Quidditch. She loved Quidditch more than anything else. It was her escape from all of her stresses–the pressure of being the only girl in the family, dealing with her family’s financial struggles, arguing with her brothers, the pressures of school, and, more importantly, it was a critical part in helping her move past the trauma of her first year.

But she’d only shared this dream with a few people–Dean, Luna, Hermione, and Michael (when they’d started dating in her fourth year)–and she wasn’t keen on making it more widely known. It was nearly impossible for young players to break into the English Premier Quidditch league. There were only 13 teams, each of which carried 14 players–many of whom played well into their 50’s since many witches and wizards lived to be more than 100 years old.

From Ginny’s perspective, the odds of her ever making it to the English Premier league were slim. There were only 182 spots, and she was competing with existing players as well as witches and wizards from all over the world.

Besides, to her classmates, Quidditch was just a fun game to play. They would likely perceive her dream as silly, childish, or possibly even arrogant. She didn’t want to waste her time debating with people who just didn’t get her.

Ginny took the magazine and slipped it into her school bag. “Thank you, Professor McGonagall,” she said, not sure if she was implicitly encouraging her to pursue her dream.

She turned to leave, but her curiosity got the best of her. Turning back, she said in a rush, “Why are you giving this to me?”

Professor McGonagall gave her a small smile. “You’re a brilliant Quidditch player, and I’d love to be buying tickets to your match one day,” she said simply.

“But there are a lot of great players at Hogwarts,” Ginny replied.

“Miss Weasley, over the many decades I’ve taught at Hogwarts, I’ve confiscated hundreds of love notes that young ladies have passed to their boyfriends during my class,” she said, still smiling. “You’re the only one I’ve caught passing Quidditch diagrams to your boyfriend.”

Ginny giggled, remembering the incident quite clearly. As a habit, she always carried an enchanted diagram of a Quidditch pitch and the latest stats for the four Hogwarts house teams. On that day, she’d thought of a new play that she’d wanted to try with Michael, so she’d drawn it on the diagram and tried to pass it to him under the desk. McGonagall had no doubt caught her and confiscated it.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Ginny said with a small smirk.

“Of course, Miss Weasley,” replied Professor McGonagall.

Ginny moved toward the door, hoping that Harry wasn’t waiting outside to walk her back to Gryffindor Tower or apologize to her again. It was time she start doing serious research on how to get in front of the right professional Quidditch scouts and make her dream come true.

***

Ginny hurried out of McGonagall’s office and was relieved to see no sign of Harry when she entered the corridor.

“It’s about time!”

Ginny jumped. She turned and saw Dean getting up from the ground. He had been sitting next to the door, leaning against the wall.

“Dean!” gasped Ginny. She hadn’t expected to see him until she’d returned to Gryffindor Tower.

He swept her into a strong hug. Still slightly disoriented, she hugged him back, catching a whiff of his familiar scent.

“I missed you so much!” he said ardently.

He bent down to kiss her. She gave him a chaste peck on the lips and broke away, her thoughts still in McGonagall’s office, puzzling over Harry’s unusually friendly behavior over the winter holidays and his sudden gallantry.

“Two weeks and that’s all?” he said crestfallen. She felt a pang of guilt at the pained look on his face. Dean had done nothing to deserve her lukewarm reaction to their reunion.

He couldn’t know that her sudden withdrawal was spurred by one of the awful truths that had come out at the poker game the night before. Under duress, she’d admitted to Harry and her brothers that she hadn’t told her parents about Dean because she wasn’t sure he would be a serious boyfriend.

Is he a serious one now?, Fred had asked. Ginny hadn’t answered, but in that moment her heart told her that the answer was no…

“I’ve got sweat and soot all over me from the Floo. At least let me clean up a bit,” she protested, trying to get enough space to regain her composure. She needed to sort out her feelings about their relationship and wasn’t in the mood to start snogging in the middle of the corridors.

“You’ve been much worse after Quidditch practice and that’s never stopped you before,” he groused.

He put his arms around her again and nuzzled her neck. She felt smothered.

“Let’s head back to the common room,” she said, slipping her arm around his waist so that he could walk beside her with his arm around around her shoulders.

Dean stumbled as he found his bearings next to her. “What’s up with you? You didn’t write to me at all over the holidays and now you seem...distant.”

Ginny felt a rush of indignation. “I told you I wasn’t going to write because the Ministry monitors our post when Harry visits!”

“That didn’t stop me from writing to you,” he responded. “Besides, the Ministry doesn’t care about our letters.”

“You know I don’t like the idea of people snooping through my letters. We talked about this before the holidays!” she said defensively.

“Alright, alright,” he said, relenting. “So how was your holiday?”

Ginny’s stomach clenched as she recalled the whirlwind of emotions she’d felt over the past two weeks–white hot anger at Percy for crashing their Christmas lunch with the Minister, abject terror as she dragged Harry’s cold, limp body out of the lake, profound guilt for betraying her parents’ trust, intense anxiety about the secrets she’d spilled during the poker game that she would never speak of again, and finally, utter confusion about Harry’s unusually friendly behavior toward her.

She gave Dean a squeeze and sighed, pushing away these uncomfortable feelings. With the warmest smile she could muster, she said, “It was great! I spent a lot of time with Fred and George. They’re always a laugh.”

“Did you do anything fun with them?” he asked.

“Just a few games and some Quidditch around the yard. Nothing special,” she replied casually.

“Then why do you already have detention before term has even started?” he asked, his tone turning icy.

Ginny stopped, floored. “If you wanted to know, why didn’t you just ask me outright?”

Dean stopped too and turned to her, putting his hands on his hips. “Because I wanted to give you the chance to tell me the truth.”

“I haven’t lied to you!” she spat indignantly, feeling her temper building. It was true that she hadn’t lied to him…yet. Even if she’d wanted to, she could never tell him the whole truth about her detentions.

“Then why am I hearing about this from your brother instead of you?” he said.

Ginny felt a surge of anger toward Ron. Why was he meddling? How would she know what to tell Dean now? She threw up her hands and started walking again. Dean followed.

“I’ve only just got here! When would I have told you?!” she said incredulously.

“Ron certainly found the time,” he muttered.

“What did he say then? Did he tell you the whole story?” she demanded, hoping Dean would give her some clues as to what Ron had said. She hadn’t had the chance to talk to Ron about what their story would be.

“No,” replied Dean, backing off a bit. “I ran into him in the corridor and asked where you were. He said you were in McGonagall’s office discussing your detentions.”

Ginny sighed, relieved that Ron hadn’t said much. She’d have to keep her story vague until she had the chance to talk to him.

“Ron fell in the lake near our home while we were playing Quidditch,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. “I had to use magic to get him out, or he would’ve drowned. The Ministry insisted I serve four weeks of detention as punishment for using magic underage.”

Dean gaped. “Even though he could have drowned?”

“My detentions are in lieu of a hearing for expulsion, so I suppose this is their idea of leniency,” she said with a shrug.

Dean nodded, looking thoughtful. “And the twins couldn’t have helped him?”

“It was just me and Ron at the time,” she said glibly. She paused for a moment. She didn’t want to keep lying, but she knew she’d have to say more to sell it. “He wanted to practice his goalkeeping without the twins there to tease him.”

Dean seemed to accept this. His face softened. “I’m glad Ron is okay. He’s lucky to have such a brave–” He paused, kissing her on the temple.

“...powerful–” He nipped her earlobe.

“...and beautiful sister.” He kissed her on the neck.

Ginny laughed in spite of herself, imagining Ron’s face if he’d heard Dean’s words. “I’ll let him know you said that.”

They had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. Dean gave the password, and the portrait swung open. Ginny reached up to pull herself through the hole. Dean put his hands on her hips and started to hoist her up.

“Dean! I don’t need your help!” she snapped, stumbling into the common room.

Dean gave an irritated sigh. “Right, I forgot.”

“I’m not weak and helpless,” she said. Like Lavender, she thought darkly as her eyes fell on Ron and Lavender. They were heading to the portrait hole just as Dean stepped into the common room.

Lavender stopped and held out her hand. “Help me, Won-Won.”

“Uh, sure,” grunted Ron.

Ginny turned back and watched Ron put his hand on the small of Lavender’s back and give her a push. She pitched forward, and Ginny heard her shriek.

“Not so hard, Won-Won!”

Ginny raised her eyebrows at Dean.

“That’s not the same thing,” he said sourly.

Ginny turned back to the common room, and her eyes automatically found Harry. He was sitting at the other end of the room in his usual corner near the window. Her stomach lurched as she realized he had been looking at her, too.

“Ginny!” She was met with a faceful of bushy brown hair as Hermione enveloped her in a hug.

“Welcome back!” Hermione said, beaming. “How was your holiday?”

Ginny did not want to discuss this in front of Dean. She would tell Hermione the real story later…

“It was great–” started Ginny, ready to tell her exactly what she’d said to Dean.

But he cut her off. “Except for the part where Ron almost drowned.”

Hermione paled. “What?! Is he ok?”

“Glad to know I wasn’t the only one left in the dark,” said Dean, rolling his eyes.

“He’s fine, Hermione,” said Ginny, glaring at Dean. “I need some time to unpack. I’ll tell you about it later, unless Dean wants to talk for me now, too.”

Without waiting for a response, she headed for the girls’ dormitories.

***

Harry watched Ginny rush up the stairs toward the girls’ dormitories, wondering if she was upset about her detentions. He wished he’d been able to convince McGonagall to let him serve the detentions for her. But this was just a minor setback. He’d just have to find other ways to earn the detentions...

Hermione collapsed in an armchair next to Harry, looking distraught.

“Is Ron okay?” she said in a choked voice. Her face was pale, and she had a slightly wild look in her eyes.

Harry had just seen Ron sneaking off with Lavender. Had something happened? He sprang up, drawing his wand.

“What happened?” he demanded.

“Not now!” she sniffed, slamming her hands on the arms of the chair. She seemed to be holding back tears. “Over the holidays!”

Harry slowly sat down, completely confused. “What are you talking about?”

“Dean said Ron almost drowned! Why didn’t anyone think to send me an owl?” she said thickly. He could see tears streaming down her face now.

“Oh, that,” said Harry dismissively. “He’s fine, Hermione–”

“Just because we’ve had a row doesn’t mean I don’t care if he lives or dies–” she said angrily, wiping her tears.

Muffliato,” Harry muttered, flicking his wand.

“No! I’m not talking to you if you’re going to use those spells–”

“Then you’re not going to find out what happened,” said Harry, shrugging. “I can’t risk anyone overhearing us.”

Hermione sighed and folded her arms, fixing Harry with an angry glare. “Is that why nobody sent me an owl?”

“Yes,” said Harry matter-of-factly.

Hermione raised her eyebrows impatiently. “Well?”

Harry was confused, again. “Well what?”

“I’m listening!” she snapped.

Harry groaned inwardly. He thought she was going to drop it, but clearly her concern for Ron outweighed any objections she had to the Prince. “What did Dean tell you?” he asked, wondering how much Ginny had told him already.

“He said Ginny has four weeks of detention because she used magic to save Ron from drowning in the lake near the Burrow,” replied Hermione. She had stopped crying, but her voice still sounded thick.

Harry nodded. “All true, except that it was me–not Ron–who fell in the lake. The Ministry wanted to bring Ginny in for a hearing, but Dumbledore intervened.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Of course! They couldn’t put either of you in a situation where the Ministry could give you Veritaserum. We don’t know who’s working for Voldemort in the Ministry, and they could have easily used it to ask you about the prophecy.”

“Exactly.”

“But aren’t there wards around the Burrow?” asked Hermione, her eyes narrowing. Harry knew she was going to pick apart his story quickly. She would see right through him if he told her what really happened…

“No tears for me?” he smirked, deflecting.

“You’re clearly in good health, Harry,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Now tell me–”

“I saw you talk to Ginny when she came in,” he said, pretending not to hear her. “Is everything okay with her?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes again. “You were watching her?”

“No, I just noticed.”

“You just noticed Ginny?” she said, raising her eyebrows.

“Not Ginny, specifically. You were there, too!” he said hotly. What was she getting at? Was Hermione as obsessed with finding out who he fancied as Ron and the twins had been over the holidays?

“Right,” she said, relenting. “I don’t know what’s going on with Ginny. It seemed like she’d had a row with Dean.”

“About what?” he pressed, feeling a jolt. Ginny had been back at Hogwarts for less than an hour. What could they have found to argue about in that time?

“Who knows,” said Hermione, her voice slightly higher than usual. Harry wondered if she was being deliberately obtuse.

“You must have some ideas. Nothing gets past you,” he replied, hoping to get Hermione to speculate.

Hermione straightened in her chair. “You sound like Ron. If I can see through his flattery, then I can certainly see through yours.”

“I’ll answer your questions about the lake if you tell me,” he offered, knowing she’d jump at the opportunity to get all of the details.

“And then you have to tell me about the rest of the holidays,” she said.

“Of course,” he said. Anything to get her to tell him more about Ginny. He’d even admit he fancied Ginny if that’s what it took. Although he suspected Hermione would put it together after she heard about the reason for his fall at the lake...

Hermione smiled and leaned back in the armchair as she recounted her disappointingly brief conversation with Ginny and Dean.

***

Ginny was grateful to find her dormitory empty and her trunk at the foot of her bed. Her guilt about her ambivalent feelings for Dean had subsided for the moment. It was hard to feel bad about him when he was being such a git about her detentions.

She collapsed on the bed and buried her face in her pillow.

She hadn’t dared let her guard down at the Burrow, even when she slept. But now that she was truly alone…

Chocolate, Quidditch, and adventures.

That last word–adventures–had hit her like a Bludger. At the poker game, Harry had said, under the threat of burping slugs if he lied, that the girl he fancied likes chocolate, Quidditch, and…adventures.

Just before the the holidays, she’d told Harry that she’d love to use Felix Felicis to go on an adventure. How many other girls could have also said that to him?

Not very many…

Even Ron had said he didn’t know many girls who said they liked adventures.

And, of course, Ginny loved chocolate and Quidditch...but so did a lot of girls.

Instinctively, Ginny stopped herself. Nothing good could come from this line of thinking. She’d given up on the possibility that he’d ever fancy her on the night of the Yule Ball, as she’d watched him pine for Cho and realized he would never look at her like that.

Chocolate, Quidditch, and adventures.

Her heart fluttered as she replayed Harry’s words in her head. She was spiraling into a place she’d forbidden herself to go…

So many truths had come out during that awful yet illuminating poker game.

Harry had been showing off for her before he fell in the lake.

Harry had cursed Dean at Slughorn’s Christmas party so he could talk to her alone.

She felt a dam burst deep inside of her heart, and she was suddenly flooded with hope in the faintest, slimmest, wildest chance that one day Harry would fancy her.

Now that it was open, she couldn’t stop it. Hope filled every part of her, like warm sunshine revealing the thoughts and experiences she’d fought so hard to ignore.

Her mind tore through every memory of the holidays, analyzing every look from Harry and every word he spoke.

She didn’t know for sure if Harry fancied her, but, for the first time in years, she would allow herself believe it was possible...

She rolled onto her back, hugging her pillow to her chest and breathing hard.

There was a knock at the door. Ginny nearly jumped out of her skin.

“Ginny, it’s me. Can I come in?” It was Hermione.

Ginny sat up abruptly, still clutching her pillow. “Come in.”

Hermione opened the door and let out a small gasp. “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” said Ginny shortly, feeling as though she’d been hit by a thousand Bludgers.

Hermione furrowed her brow. “You look flushed..”

“Just a lot on my mind, that’s all,” she replied with a shrug. She was not ready to tell Hermione about Harry. What if she was wrong? Hermione was too close to Harry for Ginny to drop this bomb on her and expect her to keep quiet.

Besides, Ginny was with Dean… She fancied Dean–not Harry, she reminded herself. Even if Dean was being a git at the moment, he was still her boyfriend.

Hermione sat next to her on the bed, crossing her legs and facing her. “I know. Harry just told me.”

Ginny blanched. “What did he tell you?”

Perhaps Harry didn’t fancy her. Perhaps he was sitting in the common room telling everyone about the secrets she’d shared at last night’s poker game. But they’d all agreed they wouldn’t tell anyone…

“About the lake,” Hermione said gently, her eyes bright. “That must have been so terrifying for you.”

Ginny nodded silently, exhaling a long sigh of relief. So he hadn’t told her… She felt the warm light of hope brighten inside her heart again.

“Is everything okay between you and Dean? It seemed tense when we met in the common room,” asked Hermione.

“Dean’s just sore that I didn’t write to him over the holidays, even though I told him I wasn’t going to,” she said dismissively.

“You wrote to me,” prodded Hermione.

Hermione knew that Ginny didn’t like writing to anyone, not since she’d poured her heart out to Tom Riddle in his diary. And now that the Ministry was reading their post, she had almost stopped writing letters entirely.

Ginny shifted uncomfortably. “You know I only write to you and my family.”

Hermione nodded and was silent for a moment.

“Harry’s been talking about you,” she said casually, watching Ginny closely.

“Yes, he would have to if he told you about the lake,” Ginny replied. Hermione was going to have to do better than that. But her heart leapt in spite of herself.

Hermione smiled knowingly, her curls bouncing as she shook her head. “You know that’s not what I meant!”

“Then say what you mean,” said Ginny, raising her eyebrows. Hermione knew she didn’t like playing games.

“Harry mentioned you a lot when he told me about the holidays,” she said, still smiling. “It wasn’t anything in particular, but it was unusual for him.”

Ginny’s heart was beating so hard that she thought it would burst out of her chest. She needed to get herself under control.

“And he was watching you when you came into the common room earlier,” she added. “He wanted to know if everything was okay with you.”

Ginny was gripped with an irrational urge to ask Hermione to recount every moment of their conversation, so she could spend the rest of the day analyzing Harry’s intentions. But then Hermione would know that she was thinking about Harry again, and she wasn’t ready to admit it.

“Ron asked if you were dating McLaggen,” she blurted, immediately regretting she’d said anything. She had agreed not to talk about anything that had come up during the poker game…

Hermione’s eyes widened and her cheeks went red. “What did you tell him?”

“You can’t tell Ron that I told you he asked,” she added hastily.

Hermione nodded fervently. “Of course not! So what did you say?”

“I told him to ask you,” she replied. “I didn’t know if you wanted me to tell him, and I thought he might be hurt if he heard from me that you’d just asked McLaggen to the party to upset him.”

“Thank you. I think that was a wise choice,” she said, sighing.

“Why don’t you just tell him? He’d stop carrying on with Lavender if he knew you didn’t fancy McLaggen,” said Ginny, hoping to break the stalemate between Ron and Hermione.

“I’ll tell him when you tell me why you were playing Quidditch with Harry alone,” smirked Hermione, clearly deflecting.

“Harry suggested it,” said Ginny, smiling. “Now go tell Ron that you don’t fancy McLaggen.”

Clearly Hermione had not expected Ginny to be honest. She opened her mouth to respond, but then closed it, looking flustered.

“I’ll tell him when he’s ready to talk to me,” she said finally.

Ginny laughed and inwardly marveled at the lengths that Ron and Hermione were willing to go to avoid admitting their feelings for each other.


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