|SIYE Time:2:51 on 22nd July 2017|
The Phoenix's Reward
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Category: Alternate Universe, Holidays
Genres: Comedy, Fluff, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Story is Complete
Summary: When a prankster menace has his identity discovered, he invites the discoverer to join him on a final prank before Christmas holidays-where discoveries are made. AU 6th year, Fun and fluff one-shot.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2323
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.
It's been a while since I've posted anything. I've been working on a nice, long fic that I'm really excited about, but wanted to be near completion before I posted it. So I wrote this little plot bunny that popped into my head as the holiday season got under way. Just some simple fluff for those who like it. I know I do.
The Phoenix’s Reward
A quiet fear fell over the student body sitting in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. All eyes pointed in one direction. A message had just appeared on the large east wall, nearest the Gryffindor table; the paint glimmered mockingly in the morning light. Soon students and teachers alike were glancing around at each other suspiciously and nervously, no trust in the entire school. The population collectively wondered, Whom did he strike? What did he do this time?
“The Phoenix has struck again,” the message read.
After a moment, a scream came from the Hufflepuff table. “I can’t get up!” a girl shouted, her fears being realized. Other Hufflepuff students immediately began shifting in their seats, but none rose from their chairs. There was a shared sigh from the rest of the school. The Phoenix had passed them by this time.
Students began taking out their wands and chanting incantations, trying to free themselves from the chairs that held them prisoner. One student succeeded, but he did so by vanishing his clothes. The Hall burst into laughter as he fell to the ground in the buff. The third year initially shouted with joy at his freedom, but his face soon went beet red as he realized what had happened and ran from the Great Hall, mortified.
After several long minutes and a few more entertaining escape attempts (which resulted in three students covered in butter, one transformed into a Pygmy Puff, and another student waddling from the Great Hall with her chair still attached to her bottom) Madam Sprout, who had also been targeted, discovered a solution and quickly passed the information on to her house.
“I give it a 7.5,” Ron said as he turned his attention back to his breakfast. “The idea was fine at best, but the reactions made it good.”
Harry nodded his agreement. “Yea, the ‘Phoenix’ may be running out of ideas.” In between bites of his biscuit, Harry added, “Maybe we should find him and help him out.”
Hermione scoffed. “First of all, you don’t know that it’s a guy. And secondly, good luck with finding him. He’s been really smart about who he pranks. Everyone has been hit at least twice now. The Hufflepuffs had to know they were next.”
Ginny piped in from her seat across from Harry. “Maybe they hoped the Phoenix wouldn’t strike again before holidays begin this weekend? Or maybe they thought he was one of their own?” Ginny buttered some toast and handed it to Harry. “Toast?”
Harry reached out and nodded his thanks. “Yea. He still could be. He has probably gotten himself with a prank or two by now to keep suspicion low.”
“Well, we know he’s not Gryffindor,” Ron added though a large bite of egg. “No one would purposefully poison our food with laxatives that had us running out of class every ten minutes. It lasted six hours! I’ve never had such a bad rash down there from all that wiping!”
Hermione, who had begun looking at Ron with disgust because he was talking with his mouth full, was now looking at him in disgust for different reason entirely. She found her voice, though, and said, “I was thinking about that, actually. I think he or she is a Gryffindor.” Ron looked at her in disbelief, while Harry and Ginny urged her to explain why. “Well, with the two Gryffindor pranks, he could have faked being hit. All the others have been quite apparent to the eye. He could have just run to the bathroom without actually having to use it, for instance. Meanwhile, the Slytherins’ robes and snake logo everywhere got turned pink.”
“And the men grew breasts,” Ginny added, chuckling. She reached out and took Harry’s orange juice. He only liked the less pulpy first half of the juice. She, on the other hand, liked the pulpier second half of the drink. “I just can’t quite decide if I like this Phoenix character or not.”
“Like him?” Hermione asked incredulously. “How can you like him?” Hermione waited briefly before quickly adding, “or her?”
Ginny rolled her eyes before responding. “Look, none of us like being the recipient. But most of us, except you, Hermione, like to see these pranks.” Hermione opened her mouth to object, but Ginny raised her hand. “And even you have to admit, Hermione, the Phoenix has kept the mood light. No one seems to be living in the fear we all saw when we first got here.”
Hermione shut her mouth and looked pensive. Harry spoke next. “Yea…it’s almost hard to think that it was just a few months ago we were at the Ministry and everyone finally realized Voldemort’s back. And despite the horrors he is bringing to the world right now, we can still laugh at breakfast time.”
Ron nodded his agreement and mumbled something through his food. No one understood him, but they didn’t care to ask him to repeat it, either.
Hermione finally conceded. “Yea…I guess you’re right. Normally, I couldn’t approve of the Phoenix’s actions. But these aren’t normal circumstances. I mean, it’s hell out there. Harry’s being called the Chosen One.” Harry pumped his fist sarcastically. “Wizards and muggles alike are being killed or taken. I guess I’m just frustrated we can’t catch the guy.”
Hermione huffed. She was a prefect, so naturally it irked her that she was not accomplishing her duty to keep troublemakers at bay. Harry smirked and commented, “oh, Hermione, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean he’s smarter than you. Just that he’s more…clever.”
Ginny’s eyes shot up and she looked intently at Harry, whose smirk faded not when Hermione looked at him angrily, but when he noticed Ginny giving him a pointed and curious look.
The Phoenix emerged from the portrait hole a few nights later, dressed all in black. He made his way quickly, but silently, down the hallway to a secret passageway that led to the dungeons. As he pulled back a tapestry to reveal the passageway, he thought he heard a footstep behind him. He froze and turned slowly around. He examined the hallway from within his invisibility cloak, searching the darkness for any sign of motion. When he saw nothing, he pressed on, pulling back the tapestry and climbing into a hole in the wall. He waited on the other side of the hole, knowing that if someone was following him, they would have to follow him through the hole and he would catch them.
After several minutes of waiting, the Phoenix determined he must have just heard a gust of wind outside, and continued down to the dungeons. After five minutes of quietly walking, he arrived at his destination–Snape’s classroom and office. He checked his surroundings closely before removing his cloak and going to work.
Just outside of Snape’s classroom, Ginny stood at the door, peering into the classroom. “I knew it,” she whispered to herself, eyes narrowed.
Harry was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he entered the Great Hall the next morning. As much as he loved quidditch, early morning practices were the worst. Had he been chosen as captain, he would never have early morning practice. Harry decided that may be why he wasn’t chosen: he could see himself resorting to bribery to get the pitch in the evenings each day.
But, he had a commitment to the team, and knew that they were counting on him. Hell, if Ron could get up for these, then he certainly could.
He sat down, and began eating eggs and buttered himself some toast. When he saw some familiar red hair sit across from him, he held out the toast. “Morning Gin,” he said. “Toast?”
Harry became instantly uneasy when he saw the look on her face. Smug. Confident. He thought she looked pretty with that little half smile of hers. “Thanks, Harry,” she said, looking right into his eyes, her own dancing with joy.
She reached out and took the bread from him and bit into it. Her gaze never left Harry’s face. He leaned back in his chair and smiled at her. “What are you on about?” he asked, trying to match her smugness.
“Oh, nothing,” she said, still smiling. She finally broke her gaze to dish him up some more eggs and bacon.
While Harry was used to her dishing him up some food, he noticed with increasing nervousness that she was piling on much more than usual, and with a special exuberance. “I’m not that hungry this morning, Gin.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Ginny responded immediately, looking up at him while buttering a piece of toast to give to him. Why they merely exchanged toast each morning, Harry wasn’t sure. But he liked it. Except this morning. “You had a big night last night, after all.”
A pit began forming in his stomach. “Well…I suppose I had a lot of homework. And my training with Dumbledore did go a little longer than it usually does…”
Ginny handed him the toast and smiled at him innocently. “I meant after all that. Later.”
Ginny interrupted Harry’s worried question. “You know…I’ve known that this Phoenix character had to be a talented wizard, given some of the spells he is able to make.”
Harry began sweating as the pit in his stomach grew larger. Ginny continued. “I knew he was a man, too. I very much enjoy his humor, see, but it is not a female’s sense of humor that has carried out some of these pranks.”
“Oh?” Harry asked, trying to keep his voice level and face impassive. To his credit, he did so well. Had Ginny not seen with her own eyes, she might have doubted her guess.
Ginny mumbled the affirmative before continuing her torture. “So, a talented, likely older, male student. Hermione was right the other day, about the Gryffindor pranks. He could fake them. So I was starting to lean towards Gryffindors.”
In a last ditch attempt to redirect, Harry joined in the game. “Well, I can tell you that the guys in my year are not bright enough. You know the fifth years much better than I do. What do you think?”
Ginny merely shook her head, still smiling widely. “Not a chance. So it’s a seventh year, then?”
Harry had to catch himself from letting out a sigh of relief. He opened his mouth to speak, but Ginny spoke before he could. “Actually, there is one sixth year I think could pull this off.”
Dread filled Harry’s heart and he knew there was no way he could eat the enormous breakfast that Ginny had supplied him with, given the size of the pit in his stomach. He sighed. She got him. And he couldn’t take it anymore. “What do you want?”
Ginny leaned forward conspiratorially. “I want in.”
Ginny emerged from the locker room still smiling widely. She had caught the great Phoenix!
He had not yet given her permission to join him, given her brother’s impeccable timing to the breakfast table, but she knew he would. He would respect that she found him out, and be forced to say yes.
The way he had taunted Hermione had tipped her off. Not only would Harry not do that to Hermione unless he himself was proud of this Phoenix, but he used the word clever. During the summer, Harry had opened up to his friends and Ginny about the prophecy and about Sirius. This led to some interesting talks between just the two of them, one of which involved his sorting. As it turned out, Harry had nearly been placed in Slytherin. He told her that the hat had told him he had many Slytherin qualities. Originally, he was put off by this, and it often caused him to second guess himself.
“But then I met Sirius and learned about my father,” he had told her, smiling softly. “They were quite the pair of slithering snakes, themselves. I realize now that it’s a good thing to be sneaky and conniving…or clever, I suppose is the better word.”
So, for three nights, she had waited up late in the common room, listening extra hard for a pair of invisible feet to incriminate Harry as the Phoenix. Ginny was flattered that he chose the night before early morning practice to strike next–that meant he was worried she was on to him and was choosing the least likely night that Ginny would be awake to follow him. She did finally hear his footsteps, and followed him as quietly as she could. She was hidden well in the darkness, but cursed inwardly for not having cast a silencing charm on herself when she made a slight noise. After what felt like hours, the tapestry had lifted and an invisible being entered the secret passageway.
Ginny immediately cast a silencing charm on herself and ran for the stairs. She knew where the passageway led, and figured Harry would be double checking he wasn’t followed, giving her time to get to the passage’s exit before him. And then, she saw the young man, dressed all in black, attractive as she had ever seen him.
Now, she was meeting Harry at midnight to discuss the Phoenix’s future. Harry likely thought she was planning on blackmailing him. That did sound like something Ginny would do to Harry, but she just wanted to join in and have some fun.
Ginny made her way to her potions class, excited to see what everyone’s reaction would be to Harry’s prank. She walked into the room, and found everyone standing in an empty classroom, staring up at the ceiling. Smiling, she followed their lines of sight upwards. On the ceiling stood (or hung) all of the tables, chairs, cupboards, cauldrons, and even the very stones that used to be underneath their feet. The entire room had been turned upside down.
Taking a quick inventory, Ginny saw that Snape had yet to arrive on the scene. The students began muttering and talking among themselves, and Ginny heard the word ‘Phoenix’ tossed around multiple times.
After a few minutes, her professor entered the dungeon and stopped dead in his tracks, staring first at his seemingly empty classroom, and then at the ceiling. Ginny watched in amusement as his mouth curled into a sneer and his eyebrows lowered in anger.
He took out his wand and began muttering incantations. After a few moments of trying to discover the charms used to flip his class upside down, Snape tried to solve the problem. We waved his wand. Nothing happened.
He frowned and jabbed his wand at the ceiling, muttering something different.
He brought his wand down for a moment as light snickering sounded from his students. Ginny saw that even her Slytherin classmates were struggling to hide their smiles and laughter. Snape glared at a few students before waving his wand once more. This time, something did happen, as all of the materials on the desks and the potions inside the cauldrons fell from the ceiling. Students ran in fear as unknown potions came hurtling down and splashed on the floor. The ground began sizzling and smoking. Ginny coughed as she tried to cover her mouth and stop the unknown gases from entering her lungs. Snape quickly waved his wand again and the smoke cleared. On the ground, burned in to the floor was a message.
“Happy Birthday, Professor.
The class erupted in laughter and Snape rushed to his office in the front of the classroom. He threw his door open, marched in and slammed it.
After a few moments there was an aggravated shout from the office.
Normally, Harry would have enjoyed his day. Word spread quickly through the castle of the Phoenix’s latest exploits. Harry normally felt good, not only about himself and his accomplishments, but because students were laughing and smiling.
But today, he couldn’t even enjoy his small victory over Snape. He was worried about Ginny. He knew her better than to think she would turn him in. But the more people who knew who the Phoenix was, the more likely it was that he would get caught. Harry could take the weeks of detention that would follow. But Harry didn’t want students to go back to moping around the school, only talking about the latest death count in the Daily Prophet.
To make matters worse, he heard Snape had taken the prank out on his class, giving them extra homework because it took them half the class period to get the room back in order. Ginny certainly wouldn’t be happy about that…
During his training session with Dumbledore, Harry had a tough time concentrating. Normally, he made great strides during training, and felt better and better about his pending fight with Voldemort. Today, he was distracted, his thoughts on other matters.
Halfway through, Dumbledore stopped Harry from his advanced Transfiguration lesson. With a lazy flick of his wand, Dumbledore easily transformed the pot (which Harry had partway transformed into a hippogriff talon, such that it looked like an incredibly dangerous toilet) back into its original shape. He looked at Harry, concerned.
“Is something the matter, Harry?”
Harry sighed. “You know why I created the ‘Phoenix,’ right?” Dumbledore had never said that he knew Harry had started the pranks, but Harry knew he knew. How could he not? Harry was using forms of the very charms and curses that Dumbledore taught him. Dumbledore often commented on the Phoenix and his doings with a light in his eye. Harry took that as the Headmaster’s blessing to continue.
“I have a couple of ideas…why do you ask?”
“I’m worried I’m going to have to stop, Professor. I’ve been discovered.” Harry sat down and shook his head. “I’m sorry, Professor. This shouldn’t be distracting me like this. It’s just…if one person discovered me, that means others will soon follow. And I am going to have to stop, soon. I don’t want to see the students the way they were before.”
Dumbledore paused. “Miss Weasley is a very intuitive young woman. Perhaps she is an exception, and no one else will discover the Phoenix’s identity.”
Harry shook his head and allowed himself to smile, not knowing how Dumbledore knew it was Ginny. He had also stopped caring a couple months earlier how the old man knew the things he did. Was he a creeper who followed Harry’s every move on a device like the Marauder’s Map? Or did he simply observe so keenly and understand human behavior so well that he could know these things?
So, instead of inquiring at the origins of Dumbledore’s knowledge, Harry merely pressed forward. “Be that as it may, I may have gotten to a couple of clever people recently who will be searching even harder for my identity.”
Harry looked up to see Dumbledore’s eyes twinkling and a smile tugging at his lips. “Yes. I heard about Professor Snape’s problems in class this morning. I want you to avoid disrupting too much class time in the future.”
Knowing Dumbledore wasn’t too upset, Harry defended himself instead of apologizing. “Okay, I didn’t expect him to take thirty minutes to figure out my combination of anti-gravity, sticking, and mirage charms. It’s his own fault for not paying more attention to Flitwick twenty years ago.”
Dumbledore looked thoughtful for a minute and then spoke, changing the subject slightly. “Harry, you’re becoming a very smart and powerful wizard. How did Miss Weasley discover you?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I got lazy…forgot my map and didn’t cast a silencing charm on myself. Come to think of it, even after I thought someone might be following me, I didn’t cast a silencing charm on myself. I didn’t even try a revealing charm to check if someone was there. Hell, I wasn’t lazy, I was stupid!” Harry sighed, disgusted with his lack of awareness.
“Laziness, stupidity, or intent, Harry?” Dumbledore asked Harry.
Dumbledore chuckled lightly. “If it is possible to have subconscious intent, that is. It does not seem likely that you, Harry, would make all of those ‘mistakes’ you just named. I think you meant to get discovered.”
Harry felt his eyebrows furrow in confusion. “I accidentally purposefully let her discover me? Come now…”
Dumbledore continued smiling, but offered, “Yes, I suppose you are right. You were just stupid.” Harry frowned as Dumbledore continued. “Perhaps, if you want to fall off of Professor Snape’s radar for a while, you may want to avoid embarrassing certain people in the future. Or avoid embarrassment in general,” he added.
“Avoid embarrassment in general? But that is kind of the point.”
“The Phoenix has been spreading fun by being funny. There are other ways to create fun.”
Harry thought for a moment. “You know,” he said after a few ideas popped into his head. “I think you might be right. And I might need a little information from you about the Great Hall…”
Harry stared deeply into the fire, trying to work out some kinks in his plan while waiting. His senses picked up a little movement from the girl’s staircase and he looked up as Ginny reached the bottom of the steps. She was dressed all in black, with the tight clothing hugging her body in all the right places. Harry decided she looked much better in the color than he did. The warm glow of the fire made her deep red hair dance around her face.
For weeks, Harry had had interesting thoughts about this particular Weasley. It started the day she broke up with Dean, before Halloween. The thought “you’d better grab her before another bloke swoops in” came to his mind out of nowhere. At the time, he laughed it off–it was Ginny after all. Ron’s sister. His friend. Nothing more.
Unfortunately, the thought was like a snitch, taunting him. It would appear at random times, but leave before he could really grasp on to the idea. He knew she was a beautiful young woman, objectively. But every now and then, that snitch would appear and he’d want to just stare at her, taking her in. He knew she was emotionally involved in his life as a good friend, but that darn snitch would appear and he’d want to spill all of his fears and goals with her, and let her share that burden with him.
But those feelings would disappear before he would ever act on them. Then, she was Ron’s sister again, and he would move on, just a little confused.
Now, she sat in front of him, smiling beautifully, and he fought the urge to reach out and run his hand through her hair.
“You want in?” Harry asked, smiling.
Ginny smile grew. “Yes, sir.”
“And if I refuse?” Harry asked, knowing he wouldn’t.
Ginny looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’ll cheer you on silently. But I’d do so bitterly,” she added.
Harry chuckled. “Well, we can’t have that, can we?”
Ginny shook her head and her smile returned. “So what’s the plan?”
“Well, I’m going to teach you a couple spells, and then we’re off for the night. You’re going to see just about every corner of this castle tonight…”
“Remind how we got here, Harry,” Ginny said, dryly. Harry merely chuckled as he cast a silencing charm on the door of the broom closet they were in. “Please silence the other side as well, so we can’t hear them anymore.” The irony really was quite great, Ginny realized. But being in Ravenclaw common room and having Cho and Michael enter, all over each other, was not funny to Ginny. It was just fortunate that Harry had checked his map in time to get them into the closet before the door opened.
“Did you finish the girl’s dormitory?” Harry asked, seemingly unaffected by his former fling loudly proclaiming she was over him.
Ginny lit her wand so they could see each other, and nodded. The broom closet was small, such that when they both went to the ground and leaned against opposite walls, they had to keep their knees bent at their chest, and their sides touched each other. Ginny rather enjoyed the warmth of his leg on hers in the cold closet.
“One down, three to go.”
“You still haven’t told me your end goal here, Harry. And I’m not sure how waterproof and warming charms are going to help prank anyone.”
Harry merely smiled back at her. “This one is different. And I want you to enjoy it as much as everyone else.”
“As much as I enjoyed the laxative prank, Harry? You could have warned me not to eat breakfast, you know.”
Harry laughed. “I couldn’t have people suspecting you! And you didn’t know it was me at the time, so tipping you off would have given me up.”
“An anonymous note, then! A little suspicion would have been worth not having to go through that day…besides, it would have been quite flattering to get a personal warning from the mysterious Phoenix!” Ginny waggled her eyebrows at Harry, who laughed.
After a moment of silence, Harry broke it. “Sorry you had to see Michael and Cho like that. You okay?”
Ginny gave a short, humorless laugh. “I’m glad he’s found someone, and I hope he’s a little less insecure this time around. That doesn’t mean I want to see that,” she motioned at the door, “from anyone. How about you?”
Harry also gave a chuckle. “Well, I suppose if I had ever felt something for Cho I might feel a little sick about her moving on so…erm, aggressively.” Ginny laughed. “Why was Michael insecure? I mean, if I’d managed to get such a beautiful girl as you, I’d feel pretty confident about myself.”
Ginny lowered her wand and the light a little to hide the blush creeping up her face. “That’s very kind Harry. But I suppose the problem was you, actually.” Harry looked at her quizzically. “Well, you were going through a lot last year, and my family, too. I couldn’t exactly get specific about what was happening, but I mentioned I was worried about you a couple times–along with my family, mind you–but he kept freaking out about it every time your name was mentioned. And the name “Harry Potter” seemed to be mentioned quite a lot for some reason…”
Harry laughed. “Well, sorry I ruined your relationship.”
Ginny smiled. “It was a good thing. He was insecure and immature. I told you about how much he whined about losing in quidditch, right?”
Harry nodded. “I still don’t understand how I could have made him feel insecure, though. We never did anything that would suggest…” He left the question in the air.
Ginny sighed. “No…it’s that stupid crush I had on you! But I’d been over my paralyzing crush for years, you’d think he could too!”
“As cute as that crush was, Ginny. I’m glad you got over it. It’s been a joy to actually hear you talk.”
Ginny hit Harry hard on the arm, and he laughed before adding, “Seriously though, it’s nice to get to know the real Ginny.”
“And it’s nice to get to know you, Harry. And not just crush on the Boy-who-lived.”
They smiled at each other for a moment before Harry asked, “So, you dated Michael…how much longer do you think we’ll be in here?” His arm would surely bruise after the hit Ginny gave him for that question.
A couple hours later, not only had Harry and Ginny escaped the broom closet, but had successfully made it to each of the houses and cast the necessary charms on students’ clothing. As they exited the Slytherin house and marched out of the dungeons, Ginny whispered, “So, what’s next? We can’t possibly be done.”
Harry shook his head. “No, we’ve got one last stop to make. But I’m a little hungry. Are you a little hungry?”
“I guess…” Ginny responded, unsure of Harry’s questioning.
“Ever been to the kitchens?”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “No! I’ve always wanted to go ever since Fred and George told me about it.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, turning towards the kitchens. “They treat us like royalty.”
They arrived soon at the painting of fruit, and Harry tickled the pear. He swung open the painting and led Ginny down the stairs, grabbing her hand. He kept a hold of it when they arrived in the kitchens, enjoying the warmth and feel of her hand in his.
It didn’t take long for Dobby to arrive when the house elves whispered excitedly about visitors. He had four hats stacked on his head, a sock for each limb, and a monocle. “Wonderful addition,” Harry commented, pointing at the fancy eyepiece. He pulled out a chair for Ginny to sit in before sitting across the table from her.
Dobby bowed so low a hat fell off of his head, which he struggled to place back on his head with socks constricting his fingers. “Thank you, Master Potter,” Dobby said humbly after deciding to just hold his hat between his gloved hands. “Would Master Potter like his usual night time snack?”
Harry nodded, and Ginny shook her head at him, smiling. Dobby continued. “What would his Weazy like?”
Ginny laughed softly. “Well…I have no idea. I guess his Weazy,” Ginny said, giving a funny look at Harry, “would like whatever Harry gets.”
“Of course!” Dobby said excitedly, and disappeared into the back.
Ginny looked back at Harry. “How often do you come here, Harry? ‘The usual night time snack?’”
Harry laughed. “Every time the Phoenix has a little fun, I come here to reward myself.”
“Well, you didn’t come last night after you got Snape.”
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment. He hadn’t even thought about going to the kitchens. He didn’t feel like he deserved an award. “Well, I didn’t exactly deserve the reward,” Harry vocalized his thoughts. “After all, I was foolish enough to let you catch me. Nicely done, by the way.”
“Thank you,” Ginny said. “But you didn’t know I caught you until this morning.”
Harry shrugged. “Maybe a part of me knew it. Dumbledore thinks I subconsciously let you find me out.”
Ginny sat back in her chair. “Well, that’s a little insulting to my own cleverness.”
Harry laughed. “Yea, I said he was bonkers for thinking it. But after tonight, I can see why I would want you to discover me. It’s been a lot more fun with you along.”
Harry thought Ginny looked adorable when she blushed. She nervously pushed her hair behind her ear before quickly gaining her composure. She was also very talented at that. “It’s been fun for me, too.”
Dobby reappeared with two treacle tart dishes balancing on his socked hands. He had apparently lost the fight with his hat, because he only had three on his head now. Harry licked his lips excitedly before picking up his fork. “Thank you Dobby. You’re an incredible House Elf, you know that?”
“Thank you, Master Potter,” Dobby said, bowing again. Another hat came off and Dobby made an angry growling noise as he picked it up between his hands and ran off again.
Harry took a bite of his favorite dessert and groaned in pleasure. This made Ginny laugh, and Harry felt a unique happiness at the sound of it. “So, good,” Harry managed to say as he swallowed his first bite.
Ginny took a bite and likewise praised the delicacy with an articulate, “Mmm!”
Harry looked at her face as she closed her eyes and savored the flavor. His breath caught as her beauty struck him in a new light. To see her like this, in such a simple, organic moment, Harry knew those thoughts he’d occasionally had about Ginny were spot on. It was as if he finally caught the snitch of his feelings for her, and he understood that this was a very special girl sitting in front of him. He knew at that moment, as Ginny’s eyes opened and looked at him, he would no longer be able to look at her as Ron’s sister.
“It’s really great what you’re doing, Harry,” Ginny said. “As the ‘Phoenix,’ I mean.”
It took a moment for Harry to register what she had said, as his thoughts were elsewhere. Harry smiled when he finally understood. “A few days ago, you said you weren’t so sure about him.”
Ginny nodded. “You wouldn’t have been so sure either, after the Gryffindor’s ‘Day of Defecation’.” Ginny shuddered, seemingly remembering the horrors of the day so dubbed by Peeves. “Besides, I mostly said that to get Hermione to see the light.”
Ginny reached forward and placed her hand over Harry’s, his treacle tart now forgotten. “I get it now, why you used the Phoenix as your nickname. Even in death and destruction, we can have life. We can wake up each morning and forget the pains of the past, and live.”
Harry looked long into Ginny’s eyes, studying her. Her eyes showed such care and gratitude to him. She understood him better than anyone else could.
“Yea…” Harry said, quietly. “We can.”
After a moment, Harry smiled slyly and added, “I just thought it was a cool name...but that’s a cool interpretation, I guess.” Ginny rolled her eyes, hit Harry on the arm again, and laughed despite herself.
They finished their desserts, thanked Dobby and a few other elves graciously, and made their way to the Great Hall. As they entered the Great Hall, whispering softly, Harry realized that he had been distracted by the pleasant night he was having and he had forgotten to check his map to see if anyone was out and about. Accompanying this realization was the sound of Argus Filch, talking to his cat from behind them.
“What is it, my sweet? Do you smell something?”
Cursing inwardly, Harry quickly put his hand over Ginny’s mouth, took out his wand, and moved quickly into the Great Hall. Walking towards the Gryffindor tables, Harry cast an anti-scent charm on himself and Ginny and sent a false trail towards the exit in the back of the room. He quickly pushed Ginny under the table and rolled in after her just as Filch entered the room.
Side by side, they watched from their backs in silent fear as Mrs. Norris walked along the other side of the room towards the back following Harry’s fake trail, and Filch chose to walk on their side of the Great Hall. As he drew near, Harry noticed Ginny would be in his line of sight, so he reached over with his left hand and pulled her over on top of himself as quietly as he could. Harry became immediately aware of Ginny’s curves pressed tightly against his body. She smelled very nice this close, and Harry resisted the urge to lean closer to her neck and sniff. Her eyes met his and she struggled not to laugh. Her body began to shake with silent laughter, which did not help Harry’s wandering imagination.
It was infectious, and soon Harry was trying not to laugh as well. They were so busy containing their glee that they didn’t see Filch had made his way around the table, and was walking on Harry’s side. They quickly rolled, fear replacing laughter, and Harry found himself straddling Ginny, holding himself less than a foot above her face to avoid putting all of his weight on her.
For some reason, neither was laughing anymore. Harry felt Ginny’s breath on his face and his head involuntarily dropped an inch closer to her. She looked beautiful, her fiery red hair a bold backdrop to her pretty face, shining lightly in the moonlight. His eyes were on her lips now, and they slowly made their way back to Ginny’s eyes. He found her eyes fastened on his own lips, and neither of them was breathing anymore.
Harry’s head dipped a fraction more, and his eyes began to close. But they shot open, and his head flung back when he heard a rattling voice shout, “Come, my sweet. No one is here!”
Harry rolled off Ginny and onto his back, sighing. He wasn’t sure if the sigh was one of relief or disappointment. They laid in silence for a few moments as the sound of Filch’s feet slowly decreased in volume. When the sound stopped, Harry turned towards Ginny and let out a quiet laughter. “Whew…that was a close one!”
Ginny smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes. She looked pensive. “Sure was,” she said, quietly.
They rolled out from under the table, and Harry pulled out his wand, going to work. He walked all around the Great Hall, casting charms on the floor, walls, and ceiling. Ginny sat back, watching him. Every once and a while he would glance back at her. She still appeared lost in thought.
Harry eventually finished and turned back to Ginny. She stood up and they walked slowly back to their common room. Harry purposefully avoided a couple of shortcuts along the way, enjoying Ginny’s presence and hushed conversation. Eventually, they arrived at the common room. It was well after 3:00 in the morning, and Harry felt his body screaming at him to get to sleep.
“Two late nights in a row for the Phoenix was too much,” Harry yawned. “But I sure am glad I came out again before the holidays.”
Ginny caught the contagious yawn before saying, “Two nights in a row? I’ve been up this whole week, waiting to catch you.” Harry gave her a sympathetic and apologetic look. “But it was worth it,” she concluded.
Harry smiled and pulled her in for a hug. “Thanks for discovering me, Gin. I’ve never really been able to enjoy the Phoenix’s pranks until tonight.” They leaned back from the embrace, but his arms remained wrapped around her waist. And for the second time that night, he felt a force outside his control pushing his face towards hers. But he shook his head and released her before he leaned in too far. “I hate to ask you this,” Harry said, trying to pretend nothing had happened, “but could you get those charms on all the Gryffindor girls’ clothes, too?”
Ginny cleared her throat before responding. “Yea…no problem.”
Harry smiled and started for the boys’ dormitories. “And don’t forget your own!”
“You expect me to prank myself?” Ginny asked incredulously.
“If you don’t charm your robes then the prank will be on you…and only you.” Harry gave her a cryptic look and was rewarded with her hands going to her hips and her eyes narrowing at him.
“Potter, if you don’t tell me…” Harry merely laughed at her threat.
“Ginny, you’ll like it. Don’t worry. And thanks again.”
Ginny nodded and headed up the stairs. Harry turned around, a big smile on his face. It stayed there as he went from room to room, silently charming the robes of each Gryffindor boy. Finally he climbed into bed, exhausted. But no sleep came for Harry. His mind was occupied by a red headed girl, and he struggled for hours to clear his head of her.
Ginny woke up the next morning feeling a little angry at the world. Normally, Saturdays were wonderful. She could sleep for as long as she wanted. And this particular morning, she really wanted to just roll over and not get out of bed.
She was tired, yes. Only getting twenty hours of sleep in a week was not her idea of a good week. But she mostly wanted to stay in bed because she was sick to her stomach. Not ill, but dejected, and hurt, and…sick.
She had done it again. She had done what she told herself she would never do again. She had fallen for Harry Potter. What’s worse, she had actually let herself believe for a moment–two even!–that he might feel the same way. Surely her mind had just imagined that he was leaning in to kiss her…twice. And if it wasn’t her mind, then it was just a heated moment where a boy’s hormones got the best of him. But the way he had just moved past the near kisses without a second thought was plenty of evidence for Ginny that he didn’t feel the way Ginny did.
Yet even with that evidence, Ginny still hung on to a little bit of hope. Angry at herself for recalling and dwelling, she remembered the compliments he had given her, the way he held her hand, the happiness she saw in his eyes. She cursed him for leading her on like that, but simultaneously swooned at the thought that he might like her.
Ginny rolled out of bed, and got ready for the day; she had to pack her things to return to the Burrow for the holidays. She supposed she would have to at least see what the Phoenix had planned, also. As she showered and dressed for the day, her thoughts continually drifted to the previous night’s happenings despite her best efforts. She thought of the fun they had, the tender moments they shared in the kitchen, the way she felt with his body up against hers…
She shook her head as she walked out of the common room. It would take weeks of straining her mind to keep her from imagining the moments under the Gryffindor table over and over again. If only Filch hadn’t spoken, things might be dif…Ginny shook her head again. No use in dwelling on it.
She walked into the Great Hall, wondering if the prank had already happened. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. She walked to the table. Determined not to look under the table and have her memory sparked, she instead looked up at the roof. The enchanted roof revealed the sky to be cloud covered, perhaps it would snow today.
Ginny sat down and began eating. She buttered some toast, hesitating briefly before taking a bite. She looked up to see if Harry was at the table yet. As if on cue, he walked into the Great Hall. He looked exhausted, like he hadn’t slept at all. Ginny wondered if he had gone back out and done more after she went to bed. He walked over to her, smiling. “Want some toast, Harry?”
He nodded to her. “Yes, please.” He took a bite and chewed for a moment before asking nonchalantly. “You ready?”
Ginny looked up at him, a little anxious. “I hope so.” She looked around her, half expecting something to explode or jump out at her. She had no idea what charms he had been putting throughout the room the night before.
He looked around the room, motioning at many of the students. “The Daily Prophet brought some pretty bad news this morning. I think we couldn’t have timed this better.” Ginny did notice many students had depressed countenances. Harry took out his wand and waved it at the ceiling. Ginny looked up at the sky above her, expectantly. The heavens in the roof grew white as snow began to fall from the clouds above. Initially, Ginny thought it strange that he spent all that time last night just to make sure the enchanted ceiling made it appear to snow.
But then a flake landed on her nose, its cold touch slowly warming as the ice turned to a liquid bead. Ginny felt a little kid inside herself light up, like it was the first time she had seen or touched snow. Another white speck hit her cheek, and Ginny’s smile broadened. She held out her hand and watched several flakes land on her warm skin with joy.
She gazed all around the room as various students were confusedly looking up at the enchanted ceiling. Her mouth opened and she let out a laugh as she looked to the heavens and caught large snowflakes on her tongue.
She looked back at Harry to find him staring intently at her, a smile tugging at his lips. “Oh, this is so fun!” Ginny said. After a moment, she added a thought. “I’m a little worried though, that the novelty will wear off soon.”
Harry shrugged. “Between the warming and waterproof charms we cast on everyone’s robes and the little kids in us that just want to play, I have faith that we can make this a fun snow day.”
Of course Harry was right. The light snow quickly became a blizzard as students shouted with joy. It didn’t take long for the first snowball to be thrown. Not long after, students were running to their houses to recruit fellow classmates–there was war in the Great Hall.
Ginny watched gleefully as students of each house built forts with the feet of snow coming down around them. The Great Hall became a war zone as hundreds of students launched attacks on opposing houses in the greatest snowball fight the school had ever seen. With a little help from a happy Dumbledore, a small ice rink was formed in the middle of the grand snow arena. It provided an activity for those who didn’t want to take part in the snowball fight, and an obstacle for the hundreds at war.
Ginny was surprised to see Snape holding back a smile, and McGonagall not containing her own. The teachers had quickly added to the Christmas decorations that were already up, and soon there were snow-covered Christmas trees scattered throughout the Great Hall. Christmas lights added to the warm glow of the room, with the snow glistening in the white lights.
She saw a student body band together, laughing and having fun. Even Hermione had joined in the fight at Ron’s urging. Ginny herself took part for nearly an hour before she retreated to the great fort her house had built together. She glanced around and found Harry leaning against a wall, watching the goings-on quietly, with a smile on his face.
A note on the wall had formed earlier from the Phoenix.
“Have a Merry Christmas, Hogwarts. And a happy New Year!
Ginny walked over to Harry and said, “Since no one else can thank you… on behalf of Hogwarts and its students, thank you, Harry.”
“It worked out alright, didn’t it?” he asked, gazing out at the school.
Ginny followed his gaze. Here was a group of students without a care in the world. And if they did have cares, they were forgotten for the day, as friends and memories were made. Ginny nodded in response to Harry’s question. “I heard Ron rate this one a 10. Though I think it was after he hit Malfoy in the face with a snowball, so it may be a little skewed.”
Harry laughed and looked back at her. “Thank you Ginny. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“Sure you could have. You just would have been a creeper sneaking into all the girls’ dormitories.”
He laughed again. “I was thinking about what you said last night about not rewarding myself for my prank yesterday.”
“Oh?” Ginny asked, curious about where this was going. She held out her hand as snow continued to fall around her.
“I was hoping you could find me a fitting reward, actually.”
Ginny looked back at him, surprised. “You mean, no treacle tart this time?”
Harry shook his head and turned to face her completely. “I want something a little sweeter.”
Ginny frowned, “So, like a chocolate cake?”
Harry shook his head again, reaching out and grabbing her arms. “Something more fun, that makes me happy.”
Ginny thought for another moment. “Do you want to go flying later? I’m sure it would be fun in the snow like this. And it’s pretty sweet, though not in a cake kind of way.”
Harry smiled and shook his head a third time. He pulled her a little closer to him. “No…maybe someone beautiful who makes me feel special and understood.”
Ginny couldn’t really process what he had said. “Someone?” she asked softly, confused. He was very close now, his green eyes piercing her own.
“Yes,” Harry said. “I think I know the perfect someone who fits those criteria.” He reached up to the back of her head, guided her towards him, and kissed her gently. Snow fell around the two, coating their hair and melting on their skin. They paid it no mind, as the kiss was deepened and they expressed their emotions for each other physically.
Breathless and flustered, they broke the kiss. Ginny bit her bottom lip and smiled at Harry. She blinked her eyes a few times, trying to remove a fresh flake of snow from her lashes. Harry reached up and brushed it off lightly for her.
“Yea, I think I can give you that reward.”
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