|SIYE Time:3:18 on 24th February 2018|
Fourth Time's the Charm
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Category: Three Little Words Challenge (2011-1)
Genres: Comedy, Fluff, General
Story is Complete
Summary: *** Winner of Most Humorous in the Three Little Words Challenge ***
Harry struggles to do something that many people do every day.
Hitcount: Story Total: 4275
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
I haven't entered a challenge in a while, so I thought I'd exercise my underused writing muscles and whip something up for the Three Words Challenge. Hope you enjoy it!
The stone skipped across the surface of the pond four times before sinking with a faint plopping sound. Harry Potter bent down to pick up another one, but then decided to just sit on the edge of the grass instead. As he looked out across the surface of the water, the jumbled mass of feelings he had been trying to sort in his mind began to coalesce into coherent thoughts.
Visiting the pond alone became a habit last summer. Between the aftermath of the final battle and accepting that he actually had a future to look forward to, solitude had been necessary to getting his thoughts in order. And as much as he loved them, the Weasleys had proved to be more of a distraction than he could handle at the time–most of them anyway. Ginny was the exception to the rule, of course. She had an uncanny knack for being able to find him, often at this very spot, exactly when he needed her most. He liked to think that she needed his presence as much as he needed hers, but neither of them had ever found the need to voice this out loud. As a matter of fact, they had never acknowledged the fact that they were a couple again either. One day, they just were. And that was enough… wasn’t it?
“Mind if I join you?”
Harry’s body jumped a little as he looked up. He could not help but smile when he saw that the very person he had just been thinking about had joined him.
“Please do,” he said as he began to get to his feet.
“Oh, no need to get up.” And before he knew it, Ginny had sat down behind him, with her back against his.
“This is nice,” she said as she leaned back and closed her eyes. “It’s been such a busy summer.”
“Erm... yeah...” Revelling in the comfort of her weight against him, Harry leaned forward and placed his forehead on his arms. It was difficult to keep them in place when all they wanted was to wrap themselves around the beautiful young woman who was using him like a beach chair. It would be so easy to just turn around, take her into his arms, and–
“Hold on a tick,” she said as she rose to her feet. “I’ll be right back.”
As her footsteps faded away towards the Burrow, Harry’s arms finally moved, and he grabbed large tufts of hair in each hand in frustration. Something had been nagging at him for days, and he had been dragging his feet at doing something about it. Theoretically, it should have been rather easy to do. Thousands of people did it every day. But nothing in Harry’s life was ever easy.
He thought back to the previous year when he, Ron and Hermione were hunting down Voldemort’s Horcruxes. How many times had he dreamed about what he would do when his life was once again his own to live? He realised the other day that every fantasy, every daydream, centered on Ginny and how he would make up for lost time in every way he could imagine. But, the summer was almost over, and she was due to leave for Holyhead to begin training with the Harpies in a matter of weeks. What the hell was he waiting for?
The sounds of soft footfalls behind him triggered his celebrated courage, and in one swift motion, he stood up, turned around, and licked his lips.
“I love you.”
Ron’s eyebrows had disappeared into his hair and his mouth was open wide enough to swallow a Cornish Pixie. Neither teen could find his voice. Neither teen was sure he wanted to.
Ron examined what looked like gnome footprints in the dirt while Harry shoved his hands into the front pockets of his trousers and looked off into the distance. If he squinted just right, a cloud in the distance looked like a Snitch. He was contemplating how to excuse himself to pursue Ginny when, to his horror, Ron spoke.
“It’s all right, mate.”
“No, no... Hermione’s always saying how I need to get in touch with my feminine side...”
“For the love of God, please stop now.” Harry removed his spectacles and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stem the impending headache growing between his eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with being able to express your emotions...”
“Are you listening to me?”
“... at least that’s what she says.”
“Maybe I should go see if your mum needs any help with dinner.”
“It’s perfectly normal for two blokes to–”
“Damn it, Ron, I thought you were Ginny!”
“Oh, thank Merlin.” Ron doubled over and took several deep breaths while his face resumed its normal colour. “Why didn’t you stop me?”
“I tried, but you just wouldn’t shut up, would you?”
Ron just nodded, and Harry was grateful for the ensuing silence. He should have known it would not last.
“First time, eh?”
Harry shut his eyes and counted to ten silently.
“I think I saw her heading towards the broom shed.”
Harry opened his left eye and gave his best friend an appraising look, trying to determine his sincerity. A hint of a smile told him all he needed to know, and then he was running for the broom shed as fast as his feet could carry him.
As Harry neared the dilapidated stone structure that served as the Weasleys’ broom shed, he slowed his steps to control his speed. The last thing he needed was to come barreling in like a rogue Bludger and mucking it all up before he had a chance to open his mouth.
The door was open, and he could hear her shuffling about inside as he came around the corner. He would have to ask her what was so important in there that she had to leave him at the pond as she did. Later. He took a deep breath and stepped around the door.
“I love you.”
Oh, hell. Not again.
“Hello.” George dragged out the last syllable with a mischievous smile as he stood up and turned around. Harry could practically see one lewd suggestion after another make its way from George’s brain to his mouth.
“Sorry, I thought you were–”
“Ginny. I gathered that. I didn’t know she and I looked so much alike from behind.”
“And bent over.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide. “But–but–”
“Exactly. If she ever finds out you think her arse is as big as mine, she’ll kill you.”
“George!” Harry looked upwards and screwed up his eyes as he shouted.
Having achieved his intended goal, George laughed heartily for several minutes. The only thing that kept Harry from throttling him was the fact that only one year removed from the final battle, his friend did not laugh nearly as much as he used to. “You know, I thought you’d learned to deal with us by now.”
Harry shuffled his feet. “Well… I’m sort of–distracted, at the moment.”
“Do tell,” George said as he waggled his eyebrows.
Harry’s shoulders slumped. “Can’t you just tell me where she is?”
His business partner eyes him warily. “Hm… it depends on how you answer my next question.”
Harry looked up from his trainers tiredly, hoping it was a riddle he had heard before. He was taken completely by surprise when George stepped forward, placed his hands on Harry’s shoulders and looked him dead in the eyes.
“You’re not going to run off and leave her behind again, are you?”
Harry was so shocked that he just let his mouth hang open as Ron did just a few minutes earlier. He was not able to gather his senses until George raised an eyebrow to remind him that he was still awaiting a reply.
“O-Of course not. She’s all I thought about that year we were on the run.”
George’s face remained stoic.
“Please. I need to find her.”
Finally, George removed his hands from Harry’s shoulders and nodded towards the Burrow. “She went into the house. Check the kitchen.”
Harry felt the corner of his mouth quirk up. “Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me yet.”
Harry closed the door to the back garden as quietly as he could. He took a moment to gather himself, and then stepped further into the kitchen.
He could hear someone moving about off in the scullery. He edged closer, the day’s earlier encounters still fresh in his mind. When he got close enough to peer through the doorway, he craned his neck to see who was inside. He cursed silently to himself when he saw that they were deep within the room, probably about to pass a piece of clothing through the mangle. Another step brought him close enough to see that the redheaded person within was only tall enough such that her shoulder was just above the top of the mangle. He took a deep breath and smiled to himself. Finally. He cleared his throat so as not to scare her, and then stepped forward.
“I love you.”
Oh, dear. This just was not his day.
“Why, Harry! What a pleasant surprise!”
“Oh come now, after such a wonderful sentiment, surely you can finally start calling me ‘Molly.’” She pre-empted any possible response by engulfing Harry in one her patented hugs.
“It’s so nice to know that you finally feel like you’re part of the family.”
“I still remember the first time I saw you, a lost little boy, trying to make your way to platform nine and three quarters.”
“Merli n help me, but I wanted to hug you right then, but there was no time for a proper introduction.”
“I don’t know what brought it about, but it’s so nice to be appreciated.”
F inally she released him, when she noticed his face starting to turn an interesting shade of blue. Harry tried as best as he could to refill his lungs without being obvious about it.
“Yes, Mrs–erm… Molly?”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to find some time alone with Ginny after dinner.”
A few short hours later, Harry found himself unable to fully enjoy another delicious dinner, despite the lively conversation flying across the table.
“That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard, apart from edible fireworks.”
“You’ve never heard of the Magical Association of Dragon Dentists? Well, they’ve never heard of you either.”
“They’d never write a book about Harry. Who would read it?”
He pushed his potatoes around on his plate as he continued to avoid eye contact with Ron, George and Ginny. He really did not mind keeping the boys in suspense. They should have been able to work out on their own that he had yet to talk to their sister as he had intended earlier in the day. Ginny was another matter altogether. It was obvious that she suspected that something was up, but he had no idea how he wanted to handle it.
“May I be excused?” Ginny did not wait for her parents to respond and proceeded to make her way to the sitting room.
All conversation immediately stopped, and Harry looked up to see that everyone was staring at him. Ron and Mr. Weasley looked confused, while Percy looked bored. George looked unusually serious. Hermione, whom he had not seen all day, gave him a knowing look. (How did she seem to know everything?) But, Mrs. Weasley–Molly–gave him a warm encouraging smile.
“May I be excused as well?”
“Of course, dear.” Molly wisely replied before anyone else had a chance to open their mouths. Harry took full advantage and hurried out of the kitchen.
He was greeted by a rather intimidating sight. Ginny was standing by the fireplace with her arms crossed, facing the entrance to the kitchen. Her lips were pressed into a thin line that reminded him of his former Transfiguration teacher, Professor McGonagall. Harry gulped when he noticed that she was tapping her left foot. He shivered when he imagined what might have happened if he had delayed in following her.
“What’s going on?”
“I… that is…”
“Everything seemed just fine this afternoon by the pond. And then… well, you tell me. What the hell was that?” She briefly uncrossed her arms and gestured towards the kitchen.
“It’s like this…” Harry began. “At the pond… I was waiting–I wanted to tell you…”
Ginny’s face flushed. “If you’re planning on ditching me again, so help me–”
“I love you.”
Ginny’s eyes grew wide… but she did not respond. After a few heartbeats, Harry tried to hide his disappointment.
“Erm… right. Well… I’ll just go–”
“Wait!” Ginny cried just as Harry began to turn for the staircase.
Harry froze in place. Sweat began to dampen his palms as he waited for her next words. He did not have to wait long.
“You didn’t have to say it. I… I know–have known–for ages.” Ginny absently rubbed the outside of her arms as she spoke. Harry was momentarily disarmed at the confusion in her eyes, but something urged him to plough forward.
“I know, I didn’t–have to, that is. It’s one of the things I love about you–about us. It’s never about needing to, or feeling obliged to do anything. It’s about wanting to.”
“I said it because I wanted to. Because I didn’t want you to go another minute without knowing exactly what you mean to me–what you’ll always mean to me.” His last words were so soft and gentle that Ginny almost did not hear them.
Finally, the dazzling smile that always lifted Harry’s heart broke out on her face. “That’s all?”
“That’s all,” he replied and he felt his cheeks flush a bit. He looked away and stared at the ugly green spot on the floor near the armchair that his eyes always seemed to find whenever he was in the sitting room. He tried to recall which experimental joke product had created it as he fought the urge to run upstairs and hide in Ron’s room.
Ever so slowly, Ginny began to saunter towards him, a playful smile dancing in her eyes. “So this has nothing to do with me leaving for Holyhead in a few weeks?”
“Oh, well… it might have been a contributing factor…” Harry’s voice cracked as she stopped in front of him and began running her hands up and down his back. “… but I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”
“I’d noticed you’d been spending quite a bit of time by the pond lately. I thought you were just trying to lure me out there for a good snog or two.”
Harry found his smile as he stared into her beautiful brown eyes. “The thought had crossed my mind once or twice…”
“Shh…” Ginny said as she pulled his face towards hers. “Enough thinking…”
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