SIYE Time:17:00 on 23rd February 2019

The Simplest Things
By melindaleo

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Category: Dream Adventure Challenge (2005-3)
Genres: Angst, Comedy, Drama, Fluff, Humor
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 115
Summary: ** Winner of Best Overall in the Dream Adventure Challenge **
It's the end of the trio's sixth year, and with the war resticting activities, the students take some time to envision what they'd like to be doing...
Hitcount: Story Total: 6416

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.


Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.


The Simplest of Things

The Hogwarts Express hurtles along the tracks on its long journey back to London on this gray June day. Patches of fog cause condensation on the foggy windows and increases the dismal feeling that permeates the air. The mood inside the train is somber and restrained, reflecting the anxiousness that the students have felt since the traumatic end of term when Voldemort appeared at the gates of Hogwarts. The battle had been fierce and intense, but they’d managed to keep him outside the school. More precisely, Harry had kept him outside the school, but at such a cost…

I shook my head and brushed some impossibly red hair out of my face, trying to shut my mind down in its tracks. I don’t want to think about that. I don’t want to think about anything that had happened at the end of term. This was the start of summer break; we should all be happy and laughing and talking about our summer plans. My desire for a return to the simple way that things used to be is nearly palpable.

I get so angry with my mother when she tries to treat me like a little girl, but the idea of hot chocolate and pajamas with feet in them doesn’t sound so bad right now. Don’t ever tell Mum that, though — I wouldn’t put it past her to try and make me wear pajamas with feet in them. Her perception of me and how much I can handle is seriously off-kilter. I suppose that maybe she just wants to go back in time, as well…

I sigh morosely and glance around the compartment. The war had put a crimp in everyone’s summer plans. It simply wasn’t safe to go anywhere or to do any of the things we normally did on summer break, and everyone was feeling the strain. I could see it in the long faces of my companions.

I watch Neville as he frantically looks for something in his backpack, and I try to cover my grin. Apparently, Trevor has made yet another escape. Poor Neville. Luna, who is sitting on my left, is ignoring us all completely while she thumbs through the latest edition of the Quibbler. She has her quill stuck behind her ear, and the light strands on the end move in rhythm with her breathing. Luna sneezes every once in a while, but otherwise, she appears oblivious to the feather.

My eyes flicker over to Harry, who is sitting stiffly on my other side and gazing forlornly out the window. He’s had a tough year and things only seem to be getting worse. I desperately want to do something to cheer him up and let him laugh a little before he’s forced to return to those awful Muggles, but I don’t know what.

There was something strange happening between me and the bespectacled black-haired boy sitting next to me, but I’m still not certain what it is. We’re friends…we’ve become really good friends over the past year and through everything that has happened since the return of You-Know-Who. After losing Sirius at the Department of Mysteries, Harry needed his friends to lean on, and I’ve only been too happy to be counted in the exclusive group he calls friends.

Lately, however, something between us has changed. I can feel it when we’re together, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, exactly. I’ve caught Harry staring at me several times when he thinks I’m not looking, and he’s got the most peculiar expression on his face. He’ll look away quickly whenever I catch his eye, but more recently, I’ve seen a blush staining his cheeks whenever I catch him looking.

This is crush-girl here, remember? I know what a blush means when you’re staring at the love of your life, and he looks back and catches you. But I can’t figure out why Harry would blush when I caught him looking at me. If I hadn’t been certain that Harry Potter didn’t even realize I was a girl — never mind an available one — I’d think he was interested in me. I know that can’t be true, but still…the thought keeps nagging at me.

Harry hasn’t so much as looked at a girl all year. He’s been focused on learning Occlumency and spending all his free time with Professor Dumbledore. It was only after he’d finally told us about the prophecy that we all fully understood why he’d been so distracted. It still hurts my heart when I think about how long he lived with that awful knowledge all alone. It’s no wonder he looked so unhealthy.

I suppose I’m not one to give him a hard time about his lack of a social life, anyway. I dated Dean Thomas at the beginning of the year, but it fizzled quickly after we returned to school. We’d had fun corresponding over the summer but found that once we were actually face to face, we had little to say to each other. After Dean, I briefly dated a Hufflepuff boy in my own year, but I ended that after realizing he was far more interested in me than I was in him.

In truth, I’ve spent much of the year fretting over a certain green-eyed boy who appeared to be drowning within his own mind. The rest of my free time was spent cursing my foolish heart for refusing to get over him, no matter what I do to try and force it.

I look up as my dork of a brother and Hermione burst into the compartment after completing their prefect rounds. It still irritates me that Ron inherited all the height genes in our family. I’m certain he somehow took my share. Ron has always taken my share of everything since we were really small kids.

"Urgh," Ron says. "I’m starving. That took forever."

"Ron, you just had lunch before we did rounds. You can’t be that hungry," Hermione retorts huffily. The two finally started dating just two months ago, but it hasn’t curbed their bickering.

"I can, and I am," Ron says, grabbing a leftover pumpkin pastie from Harry’s lap. Harry really hasn’t been eating very much; Mum’s going to go spare when she sees him. Apparently, Ron takes Harry’s share of things, too.

"Hey, you lot! How’s everyone doing?" Seamus asks as he peers in the doorway to see who’s in the car. His arm is draped around Lavender’s waist, and his hand is resting comfortably and unabashedly on her arse.

Seamus and Lavender have been the "it" couple all year. Their on-again, off-again romance has fueled the gossip mill with outlandish tales consistently. Their reunions are hot and very public, as are their many break-ups. In fact, during one such separation, Lavender caught Seamus in the arms of her roommate and long time friend, Parvati Patil. The screeching row in the common room was dreadful. Seamus and Lavender reunited shortly afterwards, but the friendship between the girls remains strained.

Poor Hermione! For years, Hermione has been the third wheel and the one always left out of things in her dormitory. With the competition raging between Lavender and Parvati, Hermione has suddenly become the flavor of the month. Both girls compete to sway her to their side of the argument. Levelheaded Hermione quickly saw through their veiled attempts at friendship, but their persistence has driven her mad at times. Ron, Harry and I have had several good laughs watching her attempts to avoid her roommates.

Even now, Hermione stiffens as Lavender stands in the entrance of the car. To be honest, I’m glad it’s Lavender there rather than Parvati. Since Hermione started dating Ron, Parvati has made it her mission to hook up with Harry. She thinks that dating Harry is the key to landing Hermione as a best mate. Unfortunately for her, her forward manner has frightened him off to the point he avoids her almost as much as Hermione does.

Whenever Parvati sees Harry, she never misses an opportunity to run her hands along his chest or up his arm seductively and is actually baffled by the way he flinches away. I know it’s the whole physical contact thing that makes Harry uncomfortable. It breaks my heart to see it, but I’m not about to clue in Parvati, either. I have developed an intense loathing for the Indian girl. I hate her almost as much as I hate the Dursleys for making Harry so unfamiliar with being touched in any way in the first place.

"This has to be the most horrid time for a holiday," Lavender says. "No one has any plans, and everyone looks at you as if you’re You-Know-Who himself if you ask them what they’re doing over the holiday."

She has a point; it seems no one trusts anyone else, anymore.

"I just know my parents are going to try and keep me locked in the house all break, and I’m seventeen," she whines. "I’m nearly done with school! I just know they’ll treat me as if I’m a helpless idiot. They act like if I got in trouble that my wand wouldn’t even work. Can you imagine being locked up all summer ‘for my own protection’?" she asks indignantly.

"I’m certain that’ll be just awful for you," Harry replies dryly.

Sitting next to him, I can feel the tension radiating off of him in reaction to Lavender’s thoughtless comment. Ron, Hermione and I all flinch simultaneously. We know that’s basically how Harry spends every summer, and it’s so unfair to him.

Time for a change of subject. "I’ve got an idea," I say, receiving several curious looks. "Let’s tell what our ideal summer holiday would be. What if money, skill or knowledge is no object? Anything goes. What would you like to do if you could go anywhere or do anything this summer?"

"Ooh, the Quibbler had a question of the month like this once," Luna exclaims excitedly. "I’ll go first."

I don’t know if they all really like the idea or if they’re just so bored that having anything to do is exciting. Whichever it is, they all lean forward to listen to Luna, even Harry.

"On my dream vacation, I’ll go to the moon," Luna states matter-of-factly.

"The moon?" Ron repeats incredulously. "You can’t go to the moon!"

"Actually, Muggles do it all the time," Lavender says.

"But not on holiday," Hermione says in exasperation.

Luna’s eyes flick over them all coolly. "I believe Ginny said that anything goes, so you go where you want, and I’ll go where I want. Besides…I’ve already been to the moon, and I know that I want to go back."

I cover a snigger with my hand and say, "Go ahead, Luna. We won’t interrupt again." I glare particularly hard at Ron, hoping he’ll keep his big mouth shut for a change. This was the most interesting thing to happen the whole trip, and I don’t want him to spoil it already.

"Like I said, I’ll go to the moon. The Heliopaths that are being hidden at the Ministry will take me and my boyfriend there," Luna says, sighing wistfully.

"Boyfriend? Who are you dating, Luna?" Neville asks with a puzzled frown.

Luna waves her hand. "I’ll go to the moon in the future, after my boyfriend finally realizes what a treasure he’s found in me. I’m a pureblood, you know, and he likes that. Anyway, a Heliopath transports us and. of course, the particular Heliopath we take is on the smaller side so we have to sit close. Extremely close. In fact, I’m riding to the moon on his lap."

"Er…who is this future dream boyfriend, Luna?" Harry asks warily.

"Why, Draco Malfoy, of course," Luna replies as if it were obvious.

"Malfoy!" a chorus of voices shouts incredulously.

"You have to admit, those pointed cheekbones are rather dreamy, and he has the most pinchable backside," Luna says without even the slightest hint of a blush.

"Eww!" I know I’m grimacing, but I had never once even thought about Draco Malfoy’s backside, other than wishing I could give it a swift kick.

Ron and Harry both look revolted, but Hermione and Lavender appear thoughtful. I shudder with revulsion.

"Anyway, the moon is the perfect place for us to spend our summer holiday since we can be who we are there. There’re no expectations on us, and Draco let’s his inner self free. There’s is a lovely café, and I take him there for dinner on our first evening. We sit and eat cheese and crackers while we stare at the stars and the planets. He confesses his undying love for me, and I promise to help him escape from his family," Luna says, a far-away expression in her eyes.

Ron looks as if he’s about to throw up.

"Of course, there’s no gravity on the moon, so we both wear those funny little suits that let you bounce when you walk. We could go on an adventure, bouncing from crater to crater to see what we can discover. There are hundreds of treasures buried on the moon that the Ministry doesn’t want you to know about."

I wish I had Colin’s camera to take a picture of the expression on Harry’s face. Whenever Luna mentioned Draco Malfoy bouncing from crater to crater, I could practically see the image of a ferret reflected in Harry’s green eyes.

"Time has no meaning on the moon, so when it’s time to return to school, we miss the return Heliopath and decide to stay forever," Luna says, sighing.

"How come you didn’t set a charm to alert you of the date?" Ron asks curiously. He seems to have got over his skepticism and, completely ignoring the rest of the ridiculous story, focuses in on that one insignificant detail. Boys are strange.

"The gauge was broken so I couldn’t tell," Luna says in an off-hand manner. Like it had happened just yesterday.

"The gauge was broken, so you decided to live on the moon? Forever? Where do you get food on the moon, anyway?" Ron asks stubbornly.

"Who cares, Ron? If it means no more Malfoy, let them stay on the moon," Harry says, and I can see the laughter dancing in his eyes. It does my sorry, traitorous heart good to see him so happy.

"Oh, yeah," Ron says as if a light had suddenly flicked on inside his head.

"Okay, Ron," I say, rolling my eyes. "If you were going on your dream holiday, where would you go?"

"On a Muggle cruise ship," he replies without missing a beat.

I blink stupidly. My brother actually wants to do something with Muggles? Dad would be so proud, but that really didn’t make any sense. Maybe I heard him wrong. "Come again?" I ask.

"I want to go on a Muggle cruise ship, someplace warm and tropical where the girls all wear teeny little bikinis," Ron says happily, earning a slap on the arm and an indignant huff from Hermione.

"You mean like the one Dean told us about?" Seamus asks. Dean’s family had taken a cruise on holiday the previous summer.

"Uh huh. He said they fed him eight times a day on that ship and not just little snacks either. He said it was full meals every time," Ron says in awe.

"Honestly," Hermione says in exasperation. "Only you would plan an entire holiday around when and how often you were going to get fed."

"And you would come with me, of course, and wear the teeniest bikini of all. We’d sit in a hot tub at night and drink champagne and watch the moon to see if we could see Luna," Ron says, chuckling.

Hermione’s lips begin to twitch before she throws her sweater at my prat of a brother. He always manages to worm his way out of her wrath.

"And you don’t mind all those other blokes looking at Hermione in her tiny bikini?" Seamus asks with a grin. Everyone but Ron could see that he was being baited.

"Nah, I put a Confundus Charm on her so only I could see," Ron replies easily.

"Excuse me?" Hermione asks, glaring.

"It’s my fantasy — I can do what I want. And you don’t ever get hacked off," Ron replies cheekily. "Then, they announce the midnight feast while we’re soaking in the tub, and since we can’t go inside, they bring out platter after platter and serve us right there in the hot tub."

"Why can’t you go inside?" Harry asks curiously. I’m surprised by how interested he is in listening to everyone’s tales. It’s as if he’s soaking everything up for future reference, and I can’t help myself. I’m pleased that I actually came up with something to take his mind off of things for awhile.

"Are you kidding? I was soaked to the bone! I couldn’t go inside wet, and I certainly can’t perform a drying spell in front of Muggles," Ron says as if it were obvious.

"Oh…of course," Harry replies, rolling his eyes. I can tell he’s amused by Ron’s logic, and we share a look that leaves him blushing again and me confused.

"Okay, me next," Lavender says, pushing her way into the cabin and squishing herself in between Luna and me on the bench. With four of us on the seat, it’s so tight that I’m nearly crushing Harry against the wall. I can feel the heat from his thigh pressing against mine, and my breath quickens.

He flinches and shifts repeatedly. I begin to worry that I’m crushing him, but I have to admit, I kind of like it. My breast is pressed tightly against his arm, and I gasp when he shifts again and presses into it.

"Sorry," Harry mutters with a panicked expression. His eyes are wide, and I don’t think he could look more startled if I were a Death Eater who had appeared next to him.

"Don’t worry about it," I say, shifting my weight so I’m pressed more comfortably against his arm. I’m so amused by his expression that I can’t even be embarrassed by the contact.

Harry looks at me with a very odd expression before he quickly folds his hands in his lap and looks away. I see the color rise on his cheeks again. What is up with him lately?

"For my perfect holiday, I’m going on a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills," Lavender says.

Big surprise there, I think tartly and have to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from sniggering.

"I’ll be a famous Seer in the future, and I’ll have to go to Hollywood for a book signing. My evil, jealous personal assistant, Parvati, will forget to pack anything for me to wear. So, I’ll have to go and get some new things before the event," Lavender says, becoming engrossed in her story.

"And I’ll wait for you in the limousine," Seamus says, leering at her.

"It’ll be a whirlwind shopping expedition, but I’m certain you’ll find something to entertain yourself with," she says coyly.

"I enjoy the limousine ride, and you know where my hands were the whole time," Seamus says, waggling his eyebrows. He says the last part in mock conspiracy with Ron, Harry and Neville.

"All right, all right," Hermione says. "Let’s keep this PG."

"Huh?" all the non-Muggle students ask.

"Never mind, it’ll take too long to explain," Hermione says. "It’s my turn."

"Please don’t tell me that your dream holiday takes place in a library of any kind, Hermione," Ron says, making puppy dog eyes.

"Watch it, mate," Seamus says, laughing. "You’re treading on dangerous ground with that. I wouldn’t want to see you spend your whole summer laid up in the hospital wing. Can you imagine being stuck with Pomfrey poking at your bits all summer because Hermione cursed them?"

"Hey, watch it, I have great respect for Madam Pomfrey," Harry says, laughing. "It would probably only take her half the summer to straighten Ron out after Hermione was through with him."

I avert my eyes as they laugh; I just can’t find anything funny about Harry defending Madam Pomfrey. He spent entirely too much time with her this year, and he still isn’t completely healed even though we’re returning home for the summer. What is Dumbledore thinking sending him back to those people when he’s sick, anyway? I shake my head again. I don’t want to think about it. Focus, Ginny, focus.

"If I had my choice," Hermione says. "I’d go to Egypt and look through the Pyramids."

"Egypt?" Ron asks in surprise. "Why don’t you just ask Bill whatever it is you want to know?"

"Because it’s my dream, Ron, and I can do what I want. I’ve been fascinated with Egypt ever since your family went there in third year. You yourself said that the ancient Egyptians came up with Curses that we’ve never even heard about. I think it would be fascinating to do some research. I bet a lot of our old magic spells that Professor Dumbledore talked to us about are related to them."

"Mental," Ron says, shaking his head.

Hermione’s eyes narrow. "You’ll come with me, of course, and well miss the Quidditch World Cup while we’re there because you’re so fascinated by what we’re learning."

Ron’s face contorts in horror, and I actually snort looking at him. My mother would be appalled.

"Fat chance of that," Ron scoffs.

"It’s my dream, remember," Hermione says, raising her chin in the air. "You’ll finally realize your full potential and find so many amazing hexes and curses that no one will recognize you when we get back. The Auror Academy will come looking for you to show some of the other Aurors what spells can be used in training."

Ron perks up in his seat. I have to admire Hermione; she plays him like a violin.

"And I’ll find an ancient spell that releases all house-elves from their servitude and restores their self esteem," Hermione says, her eyes glistening.

"Had to go and ruin that one, didn’t you?" Ron asks.

Everyone in the car rolls their eyes; some things will never change. My eyes drift over towards Harry, who’s leaning his head against the window. He looks very pale and drawn. I suspect that the closer we get to London, the more his spirits are plummeting.

"What about you, Harry? What would you do?" I ask, silencing Ron and Hermione’s bickering as they look up to hear what Harry says. I know they’ve both been really worried about him, as well.

"I dunno," he says, shrugging. "I haven’t thought about it much."

"Oh, come on," Lavender says. "You haven’t dreamed about what you’d like to do on a summer holiday? You must have; everyone does. Tell us, Harry."

Harry looks uncomfortable. His eyes widen slightly in panic, and I feel his body tense. I know how much he hates being put on the spot, and my heart lurches in sympathy. It suddenly occurs to me that Harry hasn’t really had any pleasant summer memories to fall back upon, and this past year certainly hasn’t afforded him the opportunity to dream about his future. Harry is only hoping that he actually has a future.

"You told me that you wanted to go to the beach once," I say, trying to offer him a line. He’d told me the story about how his uncle had hidden him and the Dursleys in a shack on the sea while he was trying to outrun Harry’s first Hogwarts letter. Harry had said he’d like to go back to the beach some time when he could actually enjoy it.

His eyes lock onto mine gratefully, and he smiles weakly. "Yeah," he says. "Someday I’d like to go to the beach and maybe take someone special with me. It would be fun to swim and go out to eat wherever we want."

I feel trapped by his gaze and know I couldn’t move, even if I wanted to — which I don’t. It feels as if everyone else in the compartment disappeared and we’re alone. It suddenly strikes me how his dream involves the simplest of things that everyone else takes for granted. Try as I might, I can’t look away, and I feel like he’s speaking directly to me. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

"I’d like to spend the holiday in a place where they bring colorful drinks with umbrellas out on the sand and have loads of water sports to do," Harry says, smiling wistfully.

My breath catches in my throat. I think his fantasy sounds so nice; I’ve always loved the beach, and I once told him that I fancied how Muggles put those little umbrellas in their drinks.

"What kind of water sports?" Ron asks.

"Volleyball and jet skis and there’s a place to get ice cream sundaes. I’d get chocolate and strawberry swirl, and my friend gets her favorite — butter pecan with walnuts sprinkled on top.

Wait a minute! My favorite flavor is butter pecan, and I always sprinkle walnuts on top.

"What’s your girlfriend wearing?" Seamus asks, waggling his eyebrows again.

Girlfriend? When did a girlfriend join this holiday? He’s just with a friend.

Harry grins that lopsided smile of his that always makes my knees feel weak. "She walks onto the beach wearing a sundress that covers everything…"

Seamus, Ron and Neville all groan

"…but when we get to our spot in the sand, she lets it slip off her shoulders, and she’s wearing a teeny bikini underneath. It was red. Weasley hair red — my favorite." Harry’s eyes never look away from mine, and I think I’m about to die of asphyxiation since breathing no longer appears to be an option.

"We build sandcastles and go for long walks on the beach. We rent a couple of jet skis and race out to a deserted island where we have a private picnic," Harry says, never looking away from my eyes.

My heart is beating so fast and so hard that I think for certain it will burst right out of my robes and thrash on the floor for all to see. Harry and I have often raced our brooms around the Quidditch pitch after a match or a practice, and the loser always has to go beg Dobby for lunch. We’ve often eaten together right out on the pitch.

I swallow heavily. I can see Hermione, Lavender, and Luna all beaming at us, their eyes growing wide as they flicker back and forth between Harry and I. I can see the shimmer of tears as each of them sighs softly.

Ron, Seamus and Neville appear as clueless as ever. Bless them.

"Come on, Ron. We’re about to pull into the station, and we need to do final rounds," Hermione says, literally tugging him out of the carriage. Have I said how much I love Hermione?

"Right," Lavender says, catching on and proving she’s not as flaky as I’ve always believed her to be. "Come on, Seamus. We need to get back to our own car and pick up our stuff."

Seamus followed her from the carriage. I suddenly have an upsurge of affection for Lavender, as well.

"Neville," Luna says, dreamily taking Neville’s hand. "Could you help me with my pet?"

Neville frowns in confusion. "Er…you don’t have a pet, Luna."

"Of course I do; he’s just invisible. This way, Neville," she says, leading the confused boy away. Luna will always hold a dear spot in my heart…despite her Draco Malfoy fetish.

"Finish your story, Harry," I whisper, not moving a centimeter from my spot crushed up against him. He doesn’t appear to mind.

"We’d have a picnic all on our own," Harry says in a breathless voice that I find incredibly sexy. "No minders, no Death Eaters…no Weasleys."

"None?" I ask, my heart breaking just a little.

"Just the one that I’ve always wanted to be there in the first place," he says. His face is so close to mine that I can feel his warm breath when it hits my cheek. I tilt my head and look deeply into his green eyes. How is it possible for that color to exist?

"Harry," I whisper.

"Ginny," he replies, before closing the distance between us and gently puts his hands on each side of my face. His lips are soft and tentative as they brush across mine. Time seems to stand still, and I can’t believe this is really happening. His fingers thread through my hair, and I feel as if I’ve finally come home.

Suddenly, all his blushes and intense stares and unending perusal over the past few months make perfect sense.

Merlin, I’m a bigger idiot than Ron.

Has Harry really been trying to make his move all this time? Was he honestly afraid that I’d reject him?

He’s definitely part Weasley; we’re all idiots.

I wrap my arms around his neck, and he deepens the kiss. I’m suddenly horrified to realize that I’m finally wrapped in the arms of the love of my life, and I have the uncontrollable urge to giggle. I hold it off for as long as I can, trying to master myself and concentrating on nothing but the sweet, intoxicating feeling of his tongue entangled with mine, but finally, the giggles just can’t be contained.

Harry is a bit put out.

"I didn’t mean to be funny," he says stiffly, which only makes me laugh harder.

"Oh, Harry," I gasp. "It’s not you. Well, it is you…but it’s not the kiss. Well, it is the kiss…but it’s not you giving me a kiss. Oh, bullocks. I’m just so bloody happy. Harry, I’ve been wracking my brain out for days trying to think of a way to make you feel better about having to go back to the Dursleys. If I’d had the slightest clue that a snog would work, I’d have jumped your bones ages ago."

"You would?" he asks, cocking an eyebrow.

"Of course I would. You’ve needed a good kiss for a long time," I reply cheekily. I can’t believe the words that are coming out of my mouth. Merlin, his effect on me is more powerful than Firewhiskey.

"And you’re just the girl to do it?" he asks.

I lean over and whisper in his ear, delighted by the shiver my words cause. I’m thrilled that I can have that effect on him. It makes me feel very powerful…and womanly. "You tell me."

"I can’t really tell. I think I might need more practice, you know, to study your technique," he replies, but the gruffness in his voice belies his words.

I can play this game. "I’ll show you my technique."

"I was hoping you would," he says, wrapping his arms around my waist.

Don’t tell my mother, but I launched myself on top of him and snogged him senseless right there on the seat in the train carriage.

As the train pulls into King’s Cross station, I’m forced to sit up and release Harry from my hold. It’s just my luck to finally connect with him just as we’re about to be torn apart for who knows how long.

Harry’s hair is mussed and his glasses are askew, but he has the goofiest expression on his face that I’ve ever seen. It starts me giggling again, and this time, Harry giggles with me.

I finally stand and help him to his feet. He supports himself on the cane that Madam Pomfrey gave him before he left the hospital wing. He leans heavily on it as we make our way out of the compartment. I carry Hedwig’s cage for him, and cringe as he shuffles along. Voldemort and his Death Eaters really gave him quite a beating at the battle outside the school, and Harry still has to face him again.

My heart pinches as I watch him struggle to climb off the train. Ron stands below to catch him if he falls, and I promise to do my part to do the same thing. He might have to face and kill that monster one day, but I can help him make his life something worth fighting for in the meantime.

Fred and George picked us up at the station, and when we return to the Burrow, we find Professor Dumbledore sitting at the kitchen table discussing summer plans with my parents. My mother is adamantly insisting that Harry should be with us and not the Muggles. Go, Mum.

"Molly, since Grimmauld Place has been compromised, I need to find a new location that will ensure Harry’s safety," Professor Dumbledore says.

"And that location has to be at the beach," I say, marching right over and joining their conversation.

"The beach?" Professor Dumbledore asks, blinking mildly.

"Yes, Harry’s always wanted to stay at the beach, and I think it’s the least we can do for him, don’t you?" I ask, raising my chin in defiance. I’m prepared to fight for this if I have to.

Professor Dumbledore smiles, his eyes twinkling merrily. "I think a seaside holiday sounds like a splendid idea."

I turn on my heel and bolt for the stairs.

"Where are you going?" my mother calls after me.

"If we’re going to the beach, I need a new bathing suit. I need to find something red to transfigure," I shout.

If he wants a red bikini, so help me, he’s going to get a red bikini.


A/N: I’ve wanted to try one of these challenges for some time, but since I’m not a real fan of straight fluff, I’ve been waiting for an angsty one. I finally decided it wasn’t going to happen, so I just did my own personal favorite kind of story — flangsty. I’m eager to hear what you think…

Thanks so much to my wonderful friend, KEDme, whom so graciously agreed to beta read this for me. Trying for first person/present tense is a switch for me, and she was really great. Much love, KEDme!

Check out the wonderful picture by Agi Vega that was partially inspired from this fic. I've always wanted someone to draw some fan art, and I'm pumped about it! .php?psid=156&iid=905&pid=10

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