|SIYE Time:3:18 on 24th February 2018|
A Taste of the Dream
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Category: Alternate Universe, First Week Challenge (2008-2)
Genres: Angst, Drama, General
Story is Complete
Summary: ** Winner, a tie, of Best Angst in the “First Week” Challenge **
It's Ginny's first year at Hogwarts and by a twist of fate she's left alone with Harry in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. Can she take advantage of the situation and find the nerve to talk with him?
Hitcount: Story Total: 5896
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.Rowling. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story is subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work. Any similarities between original characters, places or objects found in this story and real-life counterparts are purely coincidental.
Many thanks to my betas, Ginny Guerra and EnchantedGurlz, for their wonderful suggestions and feedback. Ladies, I am in your debt.
Tuesday, 01 September 1992
At the sound of her mother’s voice, Ginny Weasley opened one eye and then the other with much reluctance. The weak light from the new dawn told her that the hour was still early, and she groaned in frustration. Knowing what today was, she had been too excited to go to sleep at a decent hour the night before, but now she wanted nothing more than to hide under her pillow for at least another hour. But to do so would be to invite her mother’s ire and be late for the Hogwarts Express. Hogwarts! Dreams of starting her journey to be a full-fledged witch and of finally not being left behind by her brothers re-ignited the spark from last night within her. Those dreams were finally coming true today. She quickly threw off her covers and made her way to the loo to get cleaned up. If she was lucky, she might be able to get in and out before seeing their famous houseguest, if only to minimize her chances of acting like a fool in front of him yet again.
As she checked her appearance in the mirror, Ginny spared a few thoughts for their shy guest with the messy black hair. Harry Potter had turned out to be both everything and nothing like she had imagined. On the one hand, he was polite, humble, and even…cute! And yet, when he had first arrived, he did not sweep her off her feet like the knight on horseback she had always dreamt about. He was probably never going to slay a monster to save her, but maybe she could figure out a way to be his friend anyway. Encouraged by this thought, she clasped a barrette into her flaming red hair and made her way to the kitchen for some breakfast.
Hours later, Ginny stepped through the barrier to platform nine and three quarters and let loose a gasp of wonder. She had seen the Hogwarts Express before, of course, but this time was different. This time, the legendary scarlet train was waiting for her. She did not waste too much time gawking, however, as she and her family (and Harry, of course) had arrived at the platform much later than planned. They had had to return to the house no less than three times, one of which was her fault for forgetting her new diary. Despite all that, they had not missed the train after all. Thank Merlin! She wore a joyous smile all the way into the carriage that she had seen her youngest brother, Ron, and Harry board just a few moments before.
It did not take her long to find them. They were sharing a compartment with the brilliant bushy-haired young witch whom Ron and Harry discussed often. At first, Ginny was intimidated at the prospect of meeting Hermione Granger, but their shared afternoon in Diagon Alley a few weeks ago proved her to be a very pleasant companion, if a bit bossy. Nevertheless, Ginny admired her and definitely considered her to be a good influence for Ron. As she opened the door to the compartment, her thoughts were interrupted as Ron showed how much he needed it.
“Oi! What are you doin’ here?”
“I…I thought I might be able to ride with you.”
“There’s no need for that. Go find some people your own age to sit with.”
“Ron!” interrupted Hermione. “You’re being rude – to your own sister, no less.”
“You don’t really want her tagging along do you?”
Hermione’s retort was unexpectedly cut off by Harry, who was staring out the window. “I wish I had some family – some real family – to keep me company sometimes.”
Ron looked at his best friend with his mouth agape, and then stared at his shoes in shame. He offered a shy look to Ginny as an apology and proceeded to help her with her trunk. Once it was squared away, she took a seat next to the other witch, across from the two boys. Naturally, it was Hermione who began the task of making the younger Weasley feel more welcome.
“So, Ginny, are you excited about finally starting at Hogwarts?”
“Yes, thank you. I’ve heard so much about it, but….”
“Is something wrong?”
“Well…I am a little nervous about the Sorting.”
“Really? Why is that?”
“Ron keeps telling me that I’ll have to fight a mountain troll.”
“No it’s not! We fought one last year, didn’t we, Harry?”
“But I don’t want to battle a mountain troll!”
“You will if you want to be a Gryffindor.”
Ginny’s face took on a look of fierce determination, and both boys sat back at the force of her expression. “All right then. If that’s what it takes….”
Hermione let the two boys stew under the petite redhead’s glare for a few moments before interrupting the silence.
“All right, that’s enough. Ginny, you will not have to face a mountain troll for the Sorting.”
“What then? A hippogriff? A boggart?”
“Nothing of the sort.”
“Then what’s the Sorting about?”
“Sorry, but we really can’t tell you,” Harry said, finding his voice again. “But don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine…trust me.”
Just then, Ginny looked directly into Harry’s eyes and found a simple honesty in them that she had never had the opportunity to notice before. Yes, she could trust him. Her long-suffering childhood crush swelled within her and she began to feel her face grow hot. She was saved from embarrassment by the appearance of a round-faced boy with a forlorn look on his face.
“Hello, Harry…Hermione…Ron…. Have any of you seen Trevor?”
“Oh, Neville,” said Hermione, “not again!”
Neville only replied with a sheepish look.
“Would you like some help?” Hermione continued.
Neville nodded. “Yes, please.”
“Let’s go, Ron. This will go faster with more eyes on the lookout.”
“Why do I have to go?”
“Because both Harry and Ginny look like they could use a kip.”
Unable to come up with an argument, Ron sighed resignedly and followed his fellow Gryffindors out of the compartment.
Without their other two companions, Ginny found it very difficult to continue their conversation, as she was both thrilled and terrified at the realization that she was alone with the Harry Potter. She wanted very much to talk with him, but could not settle on a way to break the ice. Her hands played with the hem of her jumper for a few minutes before her mother’s lessons on proper behaviour won out.
“I…I wanted to thank you for sticking up for me just now. You didn’t have to do that.”
Harry turned from his window vigil; his face betrayed a look of mild shock. Ginny could not blame him, really. It was the first time she had ever spoken to him that was more meaningful than “Please pass the bread.”
“No problem. I…I know what it’s like to be lonely.”
Ginny looked at him in disbelief, compelling Harry to explain.
“The people – the relatives that I live with, aren’t very…warm to me. You understand?”
Ginny thought her brothers were just having her on when they talked about the bars on his bedroom window, but now she began to wonder….
“Look, would you mind keeping that to yourself? It’s not something I really talk about much.”
Ginny nodded. “Of course, Harry. You can trust me too.”
This earned her a warm “Thanks,” and she looked down in an attempt to hide the colour that had returned to her cheeks. An awkward silence reclaimed the compartment, but just as Ginny began to play with the hem of her jumper again, Harry spoke up.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Despite her excitement at the new life that had been granted their conversation, Ginny could do little more than nod.
“I don’t understand how you could feel alone at the Burrow, of all places.”
It was Ginny’s turn to stare out the window. “Oh…I can understand why you’d think that…but I’m afraid it’s not always like what you saw this summer.”
“Yes…. Last year was dreadful–” She looked up sharply and said, “Please don’t tell my mum I said that.”
Harry nodded sympathetically.
“Since Ron was finally of age,” she continued, “I was left alone for the whole year with only Mum to keep me company.”
“And the chickens…,” Harry offered.
“And the gnomes….”
“And the ghoul.”
They shared a tentative smile, and Ginny felt herself relax. “All right, maybe it wasn’t that bad.”
Harry shrugged a shoulder. “I know what you’re trying to say, but I just can’t picture myself ever having a bad time at the Burrow.”
Ginny’s smile grew wider. “Mum would be over the moon if she ever heard you say that.”
“Go on and tell her then. You can even borrow Hedwig, if you don’t feel like using a school owl.”
“Thanks, Harry…for everything.”
Ginny nodded. “You’ve been very kind to me.”
“You already thanked me for sticking up for you.”
“I wasn’t talking about that – not just that, anyway. I was so awful to you last June when you and Ron stepped through the barrier, pointing at you like you were a zoo exhibit or something. And earlier this summer, you just politely looked away when I put my elbow in the butter dish….”
“It was nothing,” Harry said as he focused on a spot on the floor. “Your family’s been so kind to me….”
“That’s just it, Harry.”
Perplexed, Harry looked up at her and Ginny answered his unspoken question.
“You’re nothing at all like I thought you’d be. Someone as famous as you could be so…I don’t know…well, you don’t really have to be with people like my family, do you?”
Harry caught on to what she was trying to articulate and shook his head. “Actually, your family are exactly the type of people I should be with, otherwise I’d end up being like Malfoy.”
Ginny looked at him firmly and voiced her disagreement. “That would never happen.”
Harry stifled a small feeling of warmth from her confidence in him. “Well, maybe you’re right. Still…ever since I met Ron last year, I looked forward to meeting all of you. Ron’s been such a good mate, I just knew I’d like all of you as well.”
“Yes, even you. Although, I’ve been really baffled all summer, coming up with a way to get you to relax around me.”
Ginny looked down at her hands in discomfort. “Sorry about that.”
Harry ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Oh, now I’ve done it. I’m so sorry, Ginny. I didn’t mean to embarrass you – really I didn’t. I just…all I’ve ever wanted is for people to take the time to get to know me as just Harry – not Harry Potter.”
Ginny looked up at him in sympathy, finally understanding how he and Ron were able to become such great friends. “I’ll do my best, Harry.”
That night, Ginny fell asleep replaying the conversation with Harry in her mind over and over again.
Wednesday, 02 September 1992
Ginny had never been so embarrassed in her life. She had always been described as someone with a lot of energy, but Colin Creevey could not sit still if his life depended on it. Thanks to his skittishness, the contents of her unfinished potion spilled and she ended up with burn marks on both forearms. With a little luck, Madame Pomfrey would not need much longer to fix a seventh-year’s Transfiguration accident, and Ginny could be fixed up and on her way before anyone saw her.
“Ginny, what are you doing here?”
Oh no. Not him, she thought to herself.
“Are you all right? I hope you’re not here for something serious.”
“No, nothing too bad…. Colin’s just a little too excitable, that’s all.”
“Colin Creevey? That ‘Colin?’”
“Yes, that’s him.”
“Ah, that explains everything,” he said as he took a seat on the bed next to the one she was sitting on.
“And you? Are you all right?” Ginny asked politely.
“Oh, I’m fine…just a pixie bite on my hand, but it’s been a while and it hasn’t stopped bleeding yet. Thought I’d have Madame Pomfrey check it out before I made someone sick at dinner.”
“How considerate of you,” Ginny said as she smiled at him. Her smile disappeared quickly when it was not immediately reciprocated.
“Speaking of being considerate,” Harry began, after clearing his throat, “I owe you an apology.”
Ginny looked at him in confusion.
“I never thanked you properly for sticking up for me that day at Flourish and Blotts.”
Despite her best efforts to stay calm, Ginny felt her cheeks redden.
“Last night, I was thinking about our conversation on the train before falling asleep,” Harry continued.
What a coincidence.
“…when I realized my mistake. So, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry and thank you.”
“I-It’s all right, Harry. No harm done,” she said as she offered him a weak smile. This time she was rewarded with a wide grin from Harry, and she thought she even saw a slight twinkle in his eye.
“Did you mean what you said on the train?” Ginny asked before she could stop herself.
“About how much you enjoyed yourself at the Burrow this summer?”
“Oh, that. Yes, of course! I hope I was nice enough for your parents to invite me back next summer.”
Ginny laughed, and Harry gave her a puzzled look.
“Oh, Harry,” she finally got out, “compared to the twins you’re brilliant! I think Mum would be quite upset if you didn’t come back to spend some time with us next summer.”
Ginny’s heart began to race when she saw Harry blush at her compliment. But her smile faded as a new thought formed in her mind.
“Why…why would you think that?”
“Think that my family wouldn’t want you back?”
Harry did not answer right away, and turned to look down at his shoes instead. Ginny was about to apologize for being so nosy, when Harry finally answered her. “Do you remember what I said yesterday about my relatives?”
Ginny paused, then nodded in affirmation.
“I…I guess I’ve just gotten used to not being wanted.”
Of all the things he could have said, Ginny never expected that.
“That’s horrible! You’re Harry Potter. If it hadn’t been for you–”
“Ginny, it’s all right. My relatives are Muggles, you see, and they really don’t like anything associated with the Magical world – especially me.”
“I don’t see how that’s all right,” Ginny said. She was subconsciously doing a good imitation of her mother, causing Harry to smile. “At least, you’re at Hogwarts now, right?”
Harry shrugged noncommittally. “Well, that has its problems too. Half of the school wants to be best mates with ‘Harry Potter,’ while the other half wants to bury me. I think I can count on one hand the number of people who have taken the time to talk to me – really talk to me.”
“Surely, you’re exaggerating.”
Harry shook his head. “I wish I was.”
Ginny looked down in sadness. “I didn’t know that’s the way the school treated you.”
“It’s gotten a lot better since last year. Most of the school doesn’t even stare at me anymore. But it helps if I’m with one of my friends, like Ron…or Hermione…or you.”
“You – you consider me a friend?”
“Of course. You’ve been taking the time to talk with me, haven’t you?” he said before giving her another brilliant smile.
Ginny thought her heart was going to explode from happiness, but was saved by the voice of Madame Pomfrey.
“I’m sorry for the long wait, Miss Weasley. Now then, what seems to be the problem?”
As Ginny turned to explain her situation to the nurse, Harry had the decency to look away to give her some privacy. Ginny could not help but smile to herself, as she updated her evaluation of Harry. He was turning out to be better than anything she had imagined.
Thursday, 03 September 1992
After a long second day of classes, Ginny found herself in the Gryffindor common room trying to make progress on the Potions essay she had just been assigned. Unfortunately, her concentration was being hampered by the presence of her new friend sitting across the table. Ron and Hermione were there as well, but she barely knew they were there. Ginny sighed inwardly at her lack of focus. She had hoped that her burgeoning friendship with Harry would be able to extinguish the infatuation she had had for him since she was a little girl. But, if anything, it was starting to get worse. How could she not feel strongly about someone so wonderful?
“That’s it! I’m done for the night.”
“Ron! You only have two more nights to finish that essay and you still have homework from your other classes to do.”
“Give it a rest, Hermione. We haven’t even had our first Charms class yet.”
“Exactly! We’re only going to get more homework, so you should get this done while you still can.”
“I promise. I’ll get it done – just not tonight. You going to be much longer, Harry?”
“I’ll be up in a bit. I just want to look up a few more things in these books Hermione got from the library before she turns in for the night.”
“All right. Good night, all. See you in the morning.”
“Good night, Ron.”
As he climbed the steps to the boys’ dormitory, Ginny could not help but notice Hermione’s lingering gaze on her brother. That’s interesting, she thought to herself. As she returned her eyes to her homework, she saw that Harry had noticed as well.
“I think I’ll be turning in as well,” said Hermione.
“Oh…would you mind if I just finished–”
“Take your time, Harry. I can get the books back from you tomorrow.”
“Not at all. Good night, Ginny.”
“Good night, Hermione.”
Once their friend had disappeared up the stairs, the question that had been resting on Ginny’s lips burst forth in flurry.
“Did you see that? How long has that been going on?”
Harry blinked twice as his mind tried to catch up to Ginny.
“How long has what been going on?”
Boys can be so thick. Ginny rolled her eyes. “You know,” she said as she nodded in the direction of the stairs, “Hermione…Ron….”
“I…I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“Do you think she fancies him?”
“Hermione and Ron? How can you possibly think that? They row almost every day!”
“It’s all just a front, Harry. Underneath, I bet they’re mad about each other!”
Harry shook his head in disbelief.
Ginny arched one eyebrow as she said, “Then what about that look?”
“The one she gave him as he went off to bed.”
“You think that look was because she fancies him?”
Has he no idea what love is?
“I thought she was just annoyed at him for ignoring her warnings again.”
“Oh, Harry,” she said as if talking to a small child, “You’ll see…it may take a while – maybe even years – but it will happen.”
Harry shook his head again in disagreement. “I don’t see it.”
Ginny tried a different tack. “Can you honestly tell me that you can’t see them falling in love?”
Harry frowned. Oh dear. What did I say this time? she thought.
“I think I’d have to figure out what two people in love looks like first.”
And suddenly, Ginny was reminded of who she was talking to. “I-I’m sorry, Harry. I guess I forgot about…you know…you…for a second.”
Her apology was answered by an unexpected smile. “You did? That’s brilliant!”
“Yes…you forgot that I’m ‘Harry Potter’ and just treated me as ‘Harry’.”
As far as Ginny was concerned, his smile was bright enough to light up all of London, and she couldn’t help but return it.
“I guess I did. Will wonders never cease?”
Harry only smirked in response.
I better quit while I’m ahead. “Well, I think I’ll leave you to it. I haven’t actually looked at my Potions book for at least an hour now.”
“Oh…sorry about that.”
As she packed her books, Ginny waved a hand dismissively and said, “Forget it. I’d much rather talk to you anyway.” Oops. I can’t believe I just said that.
Very sincerely, Harry said, “Thanks, Ginny. I enjoy talking to you too.”
She immediately turned away from him to hide the goofy smile on her face. She was so lost in her thoughts she almost didn’t hear him call out to her when she reached the halfway point of the staircase.
“Do you think you can show me how to see the things you see?”
There was no hiding her goofy smile this time. “I’ll do my best, Harry.”
Friday, 04 September 1992
Ginny raised her head and turned towards the voice that woke her up to find the large eyes of Luna Lovegood regarding her with curiosity. As she tried to get her bearings, she looked around the now empty History of Magic classroom and realized her daydreaming had turned into actual dreaming. It could have been worse. At least it was only Luna that found me.
“Don’t worry, Professor Binns didn’t notice. Are you all right?”
“I-I’m fine, Luna. Thanks,” said Ginny as she began to gather her books. She decided it would probably polite to talk with her old acquaintance and said, “So, Luna, how have you been? I haven’t really seen you in such a long time.”
“You were dreaming about Harry Potter, weren’t you?”
The books Ginny was about to place into her satchel slipped out of her hands and spilled onto the floor in a fit of chaos.
“What makes you say that?” Ginny asked, her tone harsher than she intended.
“He’s your brother’s best friend and half of the girls in school have a crush on him. Who else could put a smile on your face in History of Magic?”
Ginny sighed. “I’m sorry, Luna. You’re right, of course.”
“Is there something wrong?”
“No. That’s the problem.”
Ginny wondered if she truly did, but explained herself anyway. “Since school began, I’ve gotten a couple of chances to know him – the real ‘him’ – and it’s been wonderful. He even said that he considers me a friend!”
Luna nodded serenely as if she were listening to poetry instead of Ginny’s ranting.
“But, I’m afraid that it’s too good to be true, that one day he’ll wake up and realize he doesn’t really want to be friends with me.”
“Why would he think that?”
“Why wouldn’t he think that? Like you said, I’m only his best mate’s younger sister.”
Luna said nothing and looked at her impassively.
“What, do you think I’m crazy?” Ginny turned away and frowned.
Luna placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “No, I’m supposed to be the crazy one, haven’t you heard?”
Ginny gave the young Ravenclaw a weak smile.
“Everything happens for a reason, Ginny. Trust in that.”
“My pleasure. By the way, the next time you see Harry, you may want to tell him to watch for Gulping Plimpies. It’s their breeding season.”
And before Ginny could form a coherent response, the blonde witch exited the classroom.
Later that night, as she and Colin put away her Exploding Snap cards, Ginny could not shake the feeling that something was amiss, as if she had forgotten something important. But try as she might, she could not figure out what it was. The feeling was so distracting that Colin had won their last three games – and he had just learned to play the day before. Upon completing their task, Ginny felt the exhaustion she had been ignoring all week catch up with her and took leave of her friend. Just as she placed her foot on the first step to go up to her dormitory, she heard Harry’s voice calling to her.
She turned and was pleasantly surprised to find him approaching her. I must be tired. I didn’t even notice when he came into the common room.
“Are you going to bed then?”
Nodding, she said, “Yeah, I’m knackered. None of my brothers ever mentioned how exhausting Hogwarts can be.” She offered a weak smile and was delighted when he returned it.
“But we haven’t…um…talked…today.”
Did I just hear him correctly? “Sorry?”
“Well…we just haven’t had a chance to…talk…you know, like yesterday…or the day before.”
Had she any energy at all, Ginny would have jumped for joy that Harry felt such a connection with her. She was very much tempted to just say “Sod it!” and sit with him by the fire for a bit, but she knew she would probably fall asleep fairly soon, whether she wanted to or not. While the idea of falling asleep on his shoulder stirred up the butterflies in her stomach, common sense dictated to her that she put it off until tomorrow. I must be spending too much time with Hermione.
“I’m sorry, Harry, but I really am beat. Tomorrow’s Saturday, though. Perhaps we can get together tomorrow?”
Harry deflated a bit, but smiled anyway. “All right. See you at breakfast?”
“That sounds great. Good night.”
“Good night, Ginny.”
Ginny practically floated up the stairs, barely noticing that the feeling of discontent she was feeling earlier had gone away.
When Harry returned to his chess game with Ron, he was surprised to find that his best friend was glaring at him.
“What was that all about?” Ron said with a harsh tone.
“What was what?”
“Did you just make a date with my sister?”
“What? Don’t be daft. Of course not,” said Harry as he shook his head in disbelief.
“Then what was that stuff about tomorrow then?”
“Nothing. We’re just going to talk.”
“You and Ginny are going to…‘talk.’”
“Yes…is there something wrong with that?”
“No…but you have to admit it sounds a bit odd; she avoided you all summer, and now you two are making dates to talk?”
“It’s not a date! And…things are different now.”
“Since…the ride up on the Hogwarts Express, I guess.”
“You guys actually talked while we looked for Neville’s toad?”
“A bit, yeah. And then again the other day in the hospital wing.”
“Ginny was in the hospital wing? What for?” Harry did not miss the look of disappointment that manifested briefly on Ron’s face.
“Her cauldron spilled in Potions, burning her arms.”
“So she tells you, but not her own brother. You two seem to have gotten chummy rather quickly on those hospital beds,” Ron said as his face turned red.
Despite his thick-headedness, Harry realized what Ron was insinuating rather quickly.
“Ron, it’s not like that. She didn’t even tell me about her arms, but it was hard not to eavesdrop from where I was sitting. We just talked a little bit – that’s all!”
“Then what were you talking about?”
“You know… stuff.”
Ron muttered something unintelligible under his breath and returned his attention to the chess board. A few minutes later, he moved his rook and said, “Checkmate.”
Saturday, 05 September 1992
Although she was only eleven years old, there were many things that Ginny Weasley was good at. Waiting was not one of them. Harry never showed up at breakfast and after being shooed out of the Great Hall by the house-elves, she searched the entire castle (as much of it as she knew about, anyway) for him, but to no avail. Seeing no other choice but to return to the common room, Ginny dragged her feet through the Entrance Hall on her way back to Gryffindor Tower. She was thinking that she might as well give her Potions essay another go when she saw Hermione re-entering the castle.
“Hello, Ginny. Can I help you with something?”
“Yes – well, maybe. Have you seen Harry?”
“Yes, Ron and I were just down at the pitch to watch him practice.”
“He had Quidditch practice?”
“Is something wrong, Ginny?”
“We…we were supposed to meet at breakfast and…um…talk.”
Hermione stared at Ginny in confusion, forcing the younger witch to turn away in embarrassment.
“Harry set up a date…to talk with you?”
“It-It wasn’t a date. We just…enjoy talking about stuff together. Or, at least I do.”
Seeing, the sadness on her new friend’s face, Hermione was able to discern what Ginny had assumed.
“Don’t blame Harry, Ginny. He didn’t even know he had practice this morning. Wood woke up the entire team at the crack of dawn for it.”
“Then how did you two know about it?”
Somewhat taken aback by the sting in the redhead’s voice, Hermione’s voice faltered a bit. “W-Wood wasn’t exactly quiet about waking Harry up this morning. Ron overheard, but went back to sleep. At breakfast, he suggested that we go watch them.”
“And you couldn’t be bothered to ask me to come along?”
“I just assumed that Ron would – oh…he wouldn’t, would he?”
Frowning, Ginny just shook her head in response.
“Don’t be too hard on him, Ginny.”
“Harry or Ron?”
“Either…both…come on, Ginny, you know that boys can be–”
Hermione smiled and eventually, Ginny joined her. Convinced that she was getting worked up over nothing, Ginny felt her shoulders relax for the first time that day.
“So where are our two favourite prats now?”
“McGonagall’s office. She’s trying to figure out their detentions.”
“Detentions? For what?”
“Hexing another student.”
“Who did they hex?”
“Ron got Malfoy with the Slug-Vomiting Charm. Harry got Flint when he tried to retaliate on Malfoy’s behalf.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s against the rules to hex another student, Ginny. I’m sure you know that.”
“Of course I know that. That isn’t what’s confusing me. Why aren’t you more upset?”
“Oh…well, it’s sort of my fault they’re in trouble.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“If Malfoy hadn’t called me a ‘Mudblood’ none of this would have happened.”
“That’s terrible! Hermione, what happened is in no way your fault!”
“I know…I…I just can’t help but feel guilty about it.’
“Rubbish. Don’t take the blame from Malfoy’s shoulders. He doesn’t deserve it.”
Hermione looked down and exhaled audibly. When she looked back up at Ginny, she had a faint smile on her face. “Thanks, Ginny. It’s easy to see why Harry likes to talk to you.”
Predictably, Ginny blushed in response. Wanting to save her from further embarrassment, Hermione offered a change of subject. “Would you like some help with that Potions essay?”
As she watched the clock in the Gryffindor common room strike midnight, Ginny felt her disappointment double. That’s two days now. I wonder if he’ll miss it this time. She pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders and rose from the couch to go to bed. She had only taken a step when the door to the common room swung open.
“Ugh. If I ever have to polish another trophy, it’ll be too soon.”
“At least you didn’t have to spend all night hearing Lockhart talk about himself.”
“Ginny? What are you still doing up?”
“Well…I…never mind. I was just going to bed.”
“Ginny, wait – Ron, I’ll catch up in a bit, okay?”
Ron looked at the two suspiciously, but held his tongue. He nodded once and trekked up the stairs.
“Can…can I explain?”
“You don’t have to.”
“Please, just give me a minute.”
“Harry, it’s all right; Hermione told me everything. I was just hoping to make up for yesterday, but it’s kind of late now for that.”
Harry sighed, but did not argue. “Between Quidditch practice and detention I have a lot of work to catch up on. Can we meet tomorrow afternoon, maybe?”
“Sure, Harry,” she said, but the cheerfulness in her voice was not reflected in her eyes.
Sunday, 06 September 1992
After a few hours in the library, Harry was finally on his way back to Gryffindor Tower for his much delayed appointment with Ginny. He was nearly at the base of one of the shifting staircases when he was greeted by a most unexpected visitor.
“Dobby!” Harry immediately looked about the corridor, but was not surprised to find that he was alone with the house-elf. Returning his focus to the diminutive creature, he decided to stall for time by engaging him in conversation.
“So, are you here to apologize?”
“Dobby is sorry for any sufferings he may have caused you, sir, but it was for your own good!”
“Yes, so you’ve tried to tell me.”
“Harry Potter will understand eventually, but for now, Dobby must get him home and away from here.”
“Dobby, you don’t understand. Hogwarts is my home.”
“But Harry Potter’s family is in that wonderfully clean house in Little Whinging.”
“They may be my relatives, but they are not my family. You saw what they’re like and how they treat–”
“But Harry Potter must not be here when the danger comes!”
“You’re wrong, Dobby. I do have to be here. I need to help, if I can.”
“Such a good wizard Harry Potter is,” said Dobby and he began to wail. Harry ignored this.
“Dobby, you need to understand. I would rather die than live without the friends I’ve made here. Ron is the best mate any bloke could ask for. Hermione is like the older sister I never had. And Ginny–”
“Ginny Weasley. Ron’s sister.”
“Harry Potter is friends with two Wheezy’s? Dobby does not remember holding her letters.”
Harry winced. The last thing Dobby needed was another way to make his life miserable.
“Yes…well…that’s kind of recent. Please promise me you won’t do anything to her.”
“The second Wheezy is important to you?”
“Yes, very much. There’s just something about Ginny…it’s so easy to talk to her…I mean, Ron doesn’t like to talk about things at all…and Hermione, she’s just a little intimidating, you know?”
Dobby nodded his head as if in agreement, which Harry took as a sign to continue.
“But Ginny…she just lets me talk without pressing me for details, or squirming in her seat when things get uncomfortable. And she’s got a fun sense of humour…. I can’t help but smile when I think of her.”
He looked down again at the house-elf, who had been hanging on every word.
“So you see, Dobby, Ginny is a wonderful friend. Please don’t do anything to her.”
Dobby hesitated, and then looked up dejectedly with his gigantic eyes. “Dobby will do as Harry Potter asks.”
“Great! I’m glad we’ve got that settled.”
“Dobby is very sorry that he can not do the same for Harry Potter.”
Before Harry could react, Dobby grabbed him by the wrist and disappeared. A fraction of a second later, Harry opened his eyes and found himself in the Potions classroom standing on Professor Snape’s desk. Somehow, Dobby had arranged it such that his wand was pointed at the Potions Master who was hanging upside-down in mid-air.
Several hours later, Harry trudged up the stairs to the Gryffindor common room. As soon as he made it through the Fat Lady’s portrait, he stopped in his tracks. Ginny was sitting in a chair with a direct view of the portal, giving him her best glare, oblivious to the fact that other students were starting to stare at her. To his credit, Harry walked right up to her with his most penitent face.
“Ginny, I’m really sorry.”
“I’m sure I would be.”
“Please, let me explain.”
“Go on, then.”
Ginny folded her arms and cocked an eyebrow in response. Noticing the looks they were starting to receive from the room’s other occupants, Harry gently led her to a more secluded corner.
“There’s this house-elf – his name is Dobby – and he wants to get me away from Hogwarts,” Harry whispered.
“Yes, he’s convinced that I’m in danger if I stay here in Hogwarts. So he tried to get me expelled by framing me for jinxing Snape. It took hours to convince him to consult the headmaster on my behalf.”
Despite her surprise, Ginny kept her face impassive. “Did this ‘Dobby’ say what this ‘danger’ was?”
“No. When I tried to get him to explain he punished himself.”
“I have to say, Potter, after growing up with Fred and George, your story comes up a bit short.”
“You don’t really expect me to believe all that do you?”
“But it’s the truth!”
Ginny regarded him stonily, causing Harry’s own anger to flare. “Do you really think I would lie to you?”
“I don’t know, would you?” said Ginny as she eyed him coolly. This only aggravated Harry further and he moved closer so that she could not look elsewhere but directly into his eyes.
“Ginny, look at me. Really look at me. Do I look like I’m lying?”
Knowing she was lost if she did so, Ginny looked into his eyes and saw the same honesty she first saw on the Hogwarts Express. Letting go of her anger, she sighed and said, “No, Harry, I don’t think you’re lying.”
“I just don’t understand why you think I would lie to you.”
Ginny looked down at her shoes in shame. “I’m sorry, Harry. I just…I don’t…never mind. I need to go,” she muttered and began walking to the door. She stopped when she felt Harry grab her wrist.
“Let me make it up to you.”
She eyed him warily. “Something fun?”
“Tomorrow, after classes, I’ll help you get ready for your first flying lesson with Madam Hooch. I’ll bring my Nimbus.”
The redhead’s eyes grew wide in surprise. “Are you serious?”
Ginny finally noticed they were attracting attention again. She noticed that the twins were looking at her with raised eyebrows, as if they could not decide between being jealous or leery. Ron looked angry, while Percy looked suspicious. But, Hermione…Hermione beamed at her.
Ginny made up her mind and said, “Now that I would enjoy.”
“I’ll let you get to your homework then. I don’t want you to have any excuses for tomorrow.”
Harry looked at her sheepishly and replied, “Right. I’ll meet you here at four.”
She nodded once and said, “Bye, Harry,” before proceeding to the library.
Monday, 07 September 1992
Harry was practically running through the corridors to get back to the Gryffindor common room. All of his classes had been torture that day – especially Potions. After the previous day’s mischief with Snape, he was quite thankful just to leave the dungeon unscathed. As he turned another corner, he decided to speed up even more to prevent Dobby from getting another go at him. He should have waited until after he turned the corner.
“Why don’t you look where you’re going, you idiot!”
Harry groaned as he picked up his glasses and set them back on his face. He would recognize that voice anywhere. Draco Malfoy.
“Oh, it’s you. In a hurry, are we, Potter?”
Not wanting to waste any more time than necessary, Harry decided to downplay the situation. “Just a bit. I’ll be off then.”
He had taken no more than three steps when Malfoy called out, “So, I hear you’re giving flying lessons to all of your adoring fans now – or is it just the ones who like to handle your broomstick?”
Harry knew he should just keep walking, but attacking Ginny like that was uncalled for.
“Sod off, Malfoy. At least she’s a real friend, unlike those baboons who follow you around everywhere.”
“So you admit it. She is your girlfriend.”
“Don’t you have better things to do?”
“Me? I’m just doing what I always do: go after the truth, like how you’re an overrated celebrity who likes to wallow with poor excuses for purebloods.”
“I told you. Leave her alone.”
“Or what? You’ll hex me again? Go ahead and try. You’ll never get the chance.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide when he saw Draco reach for his wand. If he hadn’t been in such a rush to meet Ginny, he would have had his wand ready to defend himself. For once, it was a blessing to be slower on the draw.
“Mr. Malfoy! What do you think you’re doing?”
At the sound of Professor McGonagall’s voice, both boys froze, although in his mind, Harry was jumping for joy. The only other faculty member he would have preferred over his Transfiguration professor to catch Malfoy with his wand out would have been the headmaster.
“I thought the events of last Saturday would have been enough to teach you two the perils of drawing your wand on another student. You will both follow me to my office right now.”
“But Professor, I didn’t even have my wand out.”
“Nevertheless, Mr. Potter, this is the second incident in only three days. If I don’t do something now to discourage this behaviour I suspect it will escalate unnecessarily.”
“Now, Mr. Potter. The sooner we have this meeting, the sooner you can return to the rest of your day.”
Defeated, Harry followed his head of house without another word.
Harry frantically fought against the traffic leaving the common room for dinner, hoping it wasn’t too late to get to Ginny. When he made it through the throng and into the common room, he saw her sitting in the same chair as the previous evening. His shoulders sagged in defeat. What made it worse was that she did not look angry, or even cross. When she looked at him, it was like she was looking through a window, as if he wasn’t even there. At least this time there wouldn’t be an audience.
“Don’t bother apologizing.”
“Do you have any idea what I just had to go through? Sitting here for hours while everyone tried not to stare at me in pity?”
Harry shook his head. “No.”
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life! Why did you do that? Why did you do that to me?”
“I’m sorry, Ginny, but Malfoy–”
“Oh, TO HELL WITH MALFOY! You keep saying you want to spend time with me, but you can’t even be bothered to let me know that you’re not going to show up.”
Realizing that no words would be quite adequate, he sat down on the couch across from her and ran both hands through his hair. Ginny could almost feel the weight of his shame on her own shoulders, but she stiffened her spine and forced herself to speak.
“Can you honestly tell me that this won’t happen ever again?”
Grimacing in frustration, Harry stared at the floor and shook his head.
“I thought I was more than just Ron’s little sister. I guess I was wrong.” She finally rose from the chair she had occupied all afternoon and began climbing the staircase to the girls’ dormitory. As she fell onto her bed, she fought the urge to scream, forcing down her frustration in painful sobs. When Ron and Hermione returned from dinner, Harry was still sitting where Ginny had left him. They didn't bother asking him what was wrong and sat next to him, spending the rest of the night trying to keep his focus on the fireplace or themselves instead of the stairs.
Despite the late hour and the weariness brought on by skipping dinner, Ginny lay in bed staring at the canopy of her four-poster bed. Her roommates were fast asleep and she was doing her best to maintain the damned silence that let her thoughts echo mercilessly in her mind. Thoughts of a boy she thought she knew. Thoughts of Harry Potter. She was thankful that he had considered her a friend, for a little while at least, but another part of her wished they had never become friends at all. Maybe someday fate would give them another chance at it.
Growing up with six older brothers had taught her how to hold her tears, but the pain she now felt threatened to break down her resolve. If she were still home at the Burrow she would have had the benefit of breaking into the broom shed and going for a quick fly on Charlie’s old Shooting Star, but she was at Hogwarts now and her options for self-distraction were limited. A faint thought took hold in her mind and grew slowly until she finally got up from her bed and began rustling through the contents of her trunk. Moments later, Ginny opened a book with a shabby black cover and began to write.
I think you were right. He just doesn’t have time for me. I wish he did. I really miss him.
She stared at the book as the words she had just written disappeared into the page. A few seconds later, new words in obviously different handwriting appeared.
Hello, Ginny. It’s nice to talk with you again. I wouldn’t worry about Harry, you still have me.
Auth or's Note: I know some people won't like the ending, and if you're one of them, feel free to contact me and I'll explain myself. Thanks for reading!
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