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SIYE Time:1:43 on 18th September 2021


Harry Potter: To Love Is To Live
By _kb_

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Fluff
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 94
Summary: What if Ginny really got over Harry during his fourth year, and then he fell for her and found love while she was with someone else? Can he get her attention and convince her to be his girlfriend? What happens if he can't and she is the secret to helping him defeat Voldemort? {post-GoF & Alt-OotP } COMPLETE!
Hitcount: Story Total: 57314; Chapter Total: 5748







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Chapter 5: Together

[Mon Jul 8]

The next morning, Harry woke, feeling a bit strange. He had been dreaming he had been out with Sirius, but Sirius had been in dog form and was licking his face. As he broke into consciousness, the first thing he noticed was that his nose and lips seemed slightly damp. As he was lying on his back, that didn't seem quite right. The second and third things he noticed as he opened his eyes was the light was very reddish and there was something just above his face. When his eyes finally focused, he realised it was Ginny.

"Morning, Harry," she whispered with a slight giggle in her voice. "You didn't seem to be getting up so I thought I'd come help." She leaned down and kissed him again.

Harry liked that, though it paled when compared to his fantasies. Many times over the last year he had dreamed of her waking up next to him with her head lying on his chest and her hair draped all over his body. Usually, his arms were tightly wrapped around her too. There was something about her kiss that triggered a thought, but he could not quite grasp it.

"Come on Harry, you have to get up," she told him.

"All right, give me ten minutes."

"OK Harry, but if you're not up, I will come back up and pull you downstairs." With a light laugh she left him.

Grabbing some clean clothes, he dragged himself out of bed and headed to the bathroom for a quick shower. He was surprised at how sore he felt, as if he had been beaten up yesterday. Still, he managed to do everything he needed to do in the bathroom, get dressed, and make it downstairs in nine minutes.

"Very good," said Ginny. "Now come on, we need to hurry before breakfast is over." She gave him a quick kiss and turned to leave him, though she also grabbed his hand to pull him along.

Her kiss and then leaving made him think he needed to ask her something, then it hit him as she was dragging him out the portrait hole. He was barely able to take a breath to query her. "Hey Ginny? Can you stop for a sec?"

"What's wrong Harry? Am I going too fast? Here, I'll slow down."

"No Ginny, I have to ask you, something I need to know." Little things were starting to come together in Harry's mind since she had told him "Yes" last night. Of course, not having Ginny's lips attached to his helped him to think more clearly this morning -- unlike last night when he barely knew his own name.

"Sure Harry, what is it?"

"Do you really, and I mean truly and honestly, want to be my girlfriend, or are you still pretending?"

Ginny stopped and immediately whirled around with anger and hurt on her face. "Do you really think I would lie to you about this, Harry? What part of 'yes' didn't you understand? Or did you think I just kissed you in that classroom merely for fun?" She was quite intense, and a little scary like this, and yet, there was something attractive about her too.

Though he paused for a second to consider his answer, he knew he could not let her wait too long unless he wanted to get hexed. "Ginny, I heard you say 'yes', and your kissing was brilliant, but that wasn't what I was talking about."

"What else is there, Potter?" She had lost none of her intensity.

"I guess I'm confused. You're telling me you want to be my girlfriend, but the way you're acting now is not too different from the way you were acting several days ago. So I can't figure out what to think about the entire situation."

She gave him a quizzical look and lost some of her anger. "What are you talking about?"

"Two days ago you also kissed me, but then you turned and walked away and you wouldn't say anything to me about it. At first I thought you were just flirting with me before you said yes, but you didn't say anything else the rest of the night or the next day except for a 'maybe'."

She seemed to deflate and the rest of her anger left her.

He continued on. "You knew the question was there and I wasn't going to push because I wanted a real answer. So how do I know which is the real answer?"

Ginny closed her eyes and since she was standing so close to him, she bowed her head and leaned it against his shoulder. When she finally looked back up at him a few moments later, she could see that he was a bit teary-eyed. "I'm so sorry, Harry; I didn't mean to do that or plan to purposely hurt you. I, uh, ... oh damn! How do I explain this?" She closed her eyes again to try to find a good way to explain her heart -- yes, maybe that was it.

"Harry, I really do want to be your girlfriend now. The other day was a problem because my heart and my head couldn't agree. Have you ever had that problem?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Harry was quite neutral.

She really didn't want to go into the details, but there was no other way. "OK Harry, it's like this. When we were in the common room, I found myself in a situation that I wasn't expecting. You were there, I was there, we were alone and standing close together. It was just one of those magic moments between a boy and a girl, and I didn't think. So when my heart said to kiss you, I did. Then my brain got back in control and started asking if I really did care for you like my heart said I did. The thing is, my brain was being cautious because I was afraid. So when I came back down the stairs and saw you acting like nothing had happened, I did the same thing."

"So why the change?"

Ginny stepped back a bit and pulled on his hand so he would start walking again, although they went slowly. "My brain finally figured out my heart was right. It knew you were a nice guy and someone who cared for me. I finally figured out I need to trust that you were right about us, so we could find out if we could work as a couple." She had decided to leave Hermione's encouragement out; girl talk didn't count and did not have to be explained.

Harry thought about that for a bit as they walked and decided he would probably never really figure out girls. Still, she had left something out. "You said you were afraid. What were you afraid of?"

She sighed as she did not want to get into this now. "I can explain what I was thinking, but it will take a lot longer than what we have right now." They had just entered the foyer and the Great Hall doors were in sight. "Can you take what I've said for now and know that I am serious about you?"

He stopped her outside of the doors. "Will you tell me tonight?"

No matter how much she did not want to go into this, somehow she knew he was not going to let her forget. "Yes Harry, I'll tell you tonight after dinner if you want."

Acknowledging her with a nod, he also leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. She returned it and then saw him smile when he straightened up; he seemed to be happy with her again. Still holding her hand, he finally walked her into the Great Hall.

"Hey sleepyhead," Sirius called out to him, "you finally made it. I was beginning to think one of us was going to have to come up and drag you down."

"No," he told the three adults, "Ginny beat you to that job." McGonagall sat impassively, though he almost thought he saw the left corner of her mouth twitch; Dumbledore and Sirius actually chuckled.

"Speaking of Ginny," Dumbledore spoke up, "how are you two doing? I noticed you were holding hands coming in this morning, and I hadn't seen that before." The young couple blushed slightly and stared at the food they were trying to dish out.

Sirius joined in the fun. "Yes, is it official now? Can I start making the invitations?"

"Sirius!" Harry tried to chastise his godfather, while Ginny continued blushing.

"Really, Sirius, give them a chance to explain before you go jumping to conclusions," Minerva admonished him.

"So? What's the news?" the middle-aged man asked.

Harry had just taken a bite, so he looked to Ginny. Her mouth was free and she told him, "Chicken!" while he smiled good naturedly. Turning to Harry's godfather, she scowled a bit and told him, "Yes, we're together now. Happy?"

"Quite!" Sirius was smiling a very large smile. Dumbledore also seemed quite happy and his eyes were twinkling madly.

"Congratulations," McGonagall told them. "Enjoy your time together, but please make sure that you act within the boundaries of propriety. I wouldn't want to have to inform Mrs. Weasley if I saw something that wasn't."

That was a sobering thought to both teens. "Yes, ma'am," Harry responded in a very serious voice.

"Very good then you two, I'm sure everything will be fine." They actually got a small smile from their Transfiguration Professor." A bit more heartened, they tried to finish breakfast as fast as they could. Harry was actually looking forward to his class with Sirius.

As soon as they were finished, Sirius dragged the two of them to the Defense classroom. There he pulled out a parchment from his robes and started quizzing them on various spells they had learned in their first four years. While he made each of them correctly demonstrate the spell, they also discussed the various ways each spell would be useful in a real battle. Harry found this quite enlightening, as none of his professors had ever done this, except for Lupin in his third year, and that was only for a few spells. They had managed to finish reviewing only two years worth of spells during the morning, so the plan was to continue after lunch, when Harry finished his exercises.

But after lunch and his exercises, Harry was exhausted, so he lay on the couch with his head in Ginny's lap and took a nap. She read more of his fifth year books while he slept. Neither she nor Sirius had the heart to wake him for only a class this early in his recovery. So they let him sleep until nearly five, when she woke him up and left to get Hermione.

When the two girls returned, Harry was waiting with his Transfiguration book, his notes from last year, plus quills, ink, and parchment for more notes. "Hi Harry!" the brunette called upon her arrival. He returned the greeting. She came over and sat in a chair next to the couch Harry was in and set her book bag down on the low table in front them. She did not fail to notice that Ginny sat down very close to Harry. Sirius was not to be seen at the moment. "So Harry, how's it going? Or should I ask Ginny that question?"

"What do you mean?" he asked guardedly.

"I can't help but notice how closely the two of you are sitting, nor how she was watching you when she came back," Hermione pointed out to him.

The other two looked at each other, then Ginny told him, "Your turn, I did the last one."

He harrumphed at that, but turned to his long time friend. "OK, we're dating now. Happy?"

Hermione squealed and launched herself at him to give him a hug. "Oh Harry, I'm so happy for you. You too, Ginny," she exclaimed and put one arm around the other girl for a brief moment before she sat back down.

"Thanks Hermione. I know I like it," the boy told her, which got a laugh from the two girls.

When she settled down, Hermione became more serious. "So Harry, I'm assuming you want me to help you with the class work you missed last term. I brought all my notes from last year."

"Yes, I want to try to stay about where you and Ron are in class work."

"I can help catch you up on the spells, but what about your OWLs? You didn't take them so how can they know what classes to put you in?"

This was something he had been dreading, yet he knew he was going to have to inform her some time. He supposed now would be best, even if it would be difficult to actually tell her. Then he felt a hand grabbing his, and he looked over to see Ginny giving him a supportive look. She seemed to understand his problem and wanted to help him.

"I guess I might as well tell you." He looked down, not able to look at her as he said the fateful words. "I, uh, I won't be in the same classes as you, Hermione; I'm going to have to repeat the fifth year."

"Oh Harry, I was so afraid of that. I knew that was a distinct possibility when you missed so much class time, not to mention your tests." Hermione was very sympathetic. "So how can you stay up with us? You won't be in the same classes, though I suppose a good way to look at it would be that you'll be in classes with Ginny."

"I know, but since I've done most of the work for fifth year, or at least I was exposed to most of the material, my thought is to catch up on what I missed during this summer, then try to learn sixth year work, or at least the spells. That should help prevent me from being at a disadvantage, especially with people like Malfoy," Harry told her.

Hermione sighed. "Oh, I hadn't even thought that far ahead yet. Yes, he is going to give you a very hard time about this."

Harry became more serious and forceful. "I know, which means I've got to be ready for him. I'm thinking this is the year I stop taking all of his ..." A look from Hermione cause him to lamely finish, "rubbish."

"I understand how you feel Harry, but you don't want to get into trouble."

"Of course I don't," he said, "so that's why I need to start planning now."

"Sorry Harry, you're on your own for that."

Ginny finally spoke up. "No he's not. Even if I wasn't his girlfriend, I'd still be for trying to teach Malfoy it's in his best interest to act civil. Think about all the mean things he's said and done to you, not to mention the rest of us."

"All right, I don't mean totally do nothing," Hermione admitted, "but I'm not going to fight him. If you want advice on the rules and how to get him into trouble with them, fine, come ask me. A special spell here or there, as long as it's not too dangerous, sure. But outright hexing him? Not unless he fires first."

Now it was Harry's turn to sigh. "I don't agree, Hermione, but I do respect that decision."

"Thank you, Harry. Now what do you want to go over first?" his tutor asked.

"I'm thinking Transfiguration. I've done all right there, but you seem to do so much better. Are there any special secrets?" the boy wondered.

"Not really, Harry. Obviously, the harder the transfiguration, the more power you need to make it work, but that's not really a problem for you. I think your problem has always been concentration. You need to very firmly visualize what you're trying to do, both the starting state and the ending state, then use lots of 'intent' to get it there while you're doing the spell."

"You make it sound like I'm 'wishing' for the right outcome." He sounded slightly confused.

The older girl thought about it for a minute. "I suppose you could put it that way, but I see it more as 'intent'. I know it's this way now, and I really intend for it to be another way. I suppose you could think about it as 'resolve', if that term helps you more."

"OK, let's try a few," Harry suggested. By the time Hermione had to leave, Harry had worked through a number of spells in the lower years and found he had a much better grasp on them now, and they were starting to work better and faster. That made him wonder what else he could polish and become better at, as well as if he should learn more about the theory of magic. He was very thankful to Hermione when it was her time to leave and told her so.

The lesson over, Harry realised he should ask his friend something else. "Hermione, how's Ron doing?"

Surprisingly, that caused the brunette to giggle. "He's mostly all right," before she turned serious. "Harry, are you really mad at him right now?"

Harry paused to think about that, as it was something he had pretty well put from his mind. "No, I suppose I'm not really mad. I am a bit bothered by his -- his -- uh -- how do I put it?"

His girlfriend decided to help him out. "His inability to talk without putting his foot in his mouth? Or perhaps you're looking for his relative ease for being a complete and total insensitive prat when it comes to other's feelings?"

That got Harry laughing. "I don't know that I'd go quite that far Ginny, but you are going in the right direction. Look Hermione, tell Ron that I'm not angry at him, but I'm not happy with him either. He's still my best mate, but if he ever does something like that again, my wand and I will teach him some manners."

Hermione was chuckling now. "No problem, Harry. I'll be happy to pass the message and I think dinner tonight will be a good time."

"Why's that?" he was curious at the timing.

"You should have heard him when I came this afternoon. Apparently, his mum has been merciless about teaching him manners and watching what he says since we all came here. He told me he has numerous little red spots where she keeps zapping him with a stinging hex every time he says something she doesn't like, eats with his mouth open, and otherwise makes her unhappy." She stopped to giggle. "I may have more time to eat this coming year because I won't have to be correcting him all the time." The other two laughed with her.

After Harry got control of himself again, he also told her, "After you take the mickey out of him for that, do tell him that I'd like him to come visit me starting next week, I'm thinking in the late afternoons. I thought he might like to come lift weights with me, at least after I get a little closer to normal."

"All right, Harry. I'm sure he'd like to hear that." His tutor finished packing her bag.

As she was about to leave, Harry had a last word for her. "Hermione," she looked back at him, "please don't tell anyone about my repeating fifth year, and not about Ginny and I either; I want to do that myself."

She gave him a friendly smile. "Of course, Harry. I understand. I'll see you tomorrow." She left for The Burrow.

Ginny moved over and sat on his lap with her arms around him. "Are going to be OK for dinner by yourself Harry?"

"As long as you come back to me, I'll manage," he told her with a smirk on his face.

"I understand," she told him with a smile. "It'll be hard on me too." Pulling his face to her, she kissed him for a few minutes before she got up and Flooed home.

As he sat alone, Harry thought about his girlfriend. He liked this situation, yet there was still a nagging nugget of doubt in the back of his brain. Oh well, he thought, we still have our talk tonight. Pulling out his wand, he spoke "Accio Firebolt!" and caught his broom when it came to him. He walked to the Great Hall to join the other adults in the castle for dinner. His broom went with him in case he wanted it if he got too tired.

---

After dinner, Harry was back in the common room with some new books. When he had mentioned magical theory and how Hermione had helped him, everyone else started talking about it also for the rest of the dinner time. By the time he had left the Great Hall, he had decided it was one of the most enjoyable dinners he had had all summer. It also caused him to wonder if this was how Hermione approached life, and if so, it gave him a little bit of insight into her.

Another positive outcome of the dinner conversation was that Dumbledore took him to the library and pulled three books off the shelves and handed them to him for extra reading. The Headmaster informed Harry that if he could understand and put into practice what was in these books, he would do a lot better with his spells.

Opening the first book, An Introduction to the Theory of Magic, he noticed the check out card had Hermione's name on it and the date was from five years ago, or during his first year. Curious, he looked at the other two books and found they had the same date on it for his friend too. That gave him a good laugh as he started reading the first book.

Sirius came in and joined him with a book and an arm load of parchment, as well as writing materials. "What's all that for?" Harry asked.

His godfather just smiled at him. "Your extra study work, of course." Harry eyes went wide at the many rolls of parchment in front of him. He heard a bark of laughter. "Don't worry, Harry, you don't have to know all of this. Some of these are merely notes for myself on how to present the material. Dumbledore also gave me a book on teaching that I've been reading a lot, so I'm trying to get a feel for putting this all together."

Harry felt more relieved and went back to his book. He did not notice his godfather watching him for a few moments.

Just as Harry was really getting into his book, the fireplace lit up and spewed out a cute redhead. Shaking herself off, she took her smiling self over to her boyfriend and deposited herself on his lap and kissed him soundly. Hearing a short laugh from the side, she turned to their chaperone and saucily told him, "Shut it, I'm in a great mood and want to enjoy it."

That merely made him laugh more. "Then do tell girl, knowing you, it's got to be good if you're this happy."

She raised one eyebrow at him, but her boyfriend also asked her to tell her story. "OK, so I went home for dinner, and like usual, it was basically ready when I got there. Dad had even made it home early to join us. We're sitting at the table, Dad is telling us about how he had to deal with an enchanted water fountain that would squirt people, both in the face and in other embarrassing places, when suddenly Mum grabs her wand beside her plate and sends a stinging hex at Ron and catches him in the neck. She told him, 'I told you not chew with your mouth open', to which he replied, 'Bloody hell, that hurt right there'." The two males burst out laughing, knowing what was coming next.

"You guessed it," Ginny went on, "she hexed him again, this time in the forehead so he smacked himself with his hand and said 'Damn, that hurt even worse!'" That brought even more laughter from her listeners. "Then Mum yelled at him, 'Ron, I told you to watch your language. Now grow up!'" Harry almost dumped Ginny out of his lap he was laughing so hard; Sirius was not much better off.

"I swear," Ginny confessed, "Hermione and I were crying because we were laughing so hard. Oh wait, it got better. Everything had just settled down when Hermione mentioned visiting you Harry and how well the studying had gone. The rest of us at the table were listening intently, then she dropped the bomb and passed your message along to Ron. Mum picked her wand back up and Ron took off for the stairs, but he wasn't fast enough and one of Mum's stinging hexes caught him right in the bum." The boys lost it again.

"Oh, I would have loved to have seen all that," Harry finally said when he could talk again.

A mischievous grin came over Sirius. "Hey, let's all go to Dumbledore's office and borrow his Pensieve." Now Harry did dump Ginny off his lap, but he kept his hands on her waist so she would not fall.

Dragging his girlfriend with him, he shouted, "Come on Sirius, hurry up!" They all laughed as they quickly walked. Luck was with them as Dumbledore was in his office, as was Professor McGonagall.

"Sirius, Harry, Ginny, what can we help you with? Please help yourself to a lemon drop." He pointed to his usual silver bowl full of the sweets.

Now that they were actually in the Headmaster's office, Harry was suddenly not certain what to say, as it was obvious from the many stacks of letters all over the Headmaster's desk, that the small group had interrupted school business.

Sirius took care of the problem. "Albus, we're sorry to disturb you and Minerva, but we'd like to borrow your Pensieve."

"No problem really," the old man assured them, "my Pensieve has been the guest of many a party. May I ask what this is about?"

"Oh certainly, Ginny just returned from home with a most amusing event and we'd like to view it too."

The Headmaster got up and walked over to his cabinet and pulled the magical device out. After setting it on a table, he looked at the three visitors and asked, "Do you mind if we take a break from some rather dull business and join you? Or is this more of a private viewing?"

Harry shrugged his indifference and Sirius looked to Ginny. "I don't mind," the girl said.

"Minerva, do you wish to join in?" Albus asked her. She seemed thoughtful for a moment, then rose from her chair to join the crowd, much to their surprise. "Now Ginny, if you'll think very carefully about the memory and let me know when you have it at the front of your mind." She nodded, and Dumbledore put his wand to her temple and extracted a thin silvery strand, that he deposited into the stone basin. "Everyone, stick your hand in," he requested.

The five of them found themselves in the Weasley dining room, as the elder Weasleys, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione were about to sit down for dinner. Harry watched the scene unfold and barely remained standing he was laughing so hard towards the end. He could not decide whether knowing what was coming made it funnier or not.

When they all came back out of the Pensieve, there was not a single dry eye. Even his stern Transfiguration teacher had laughed like a little girl and had a tear of mirth coming out of her right eye. With many thanks to the Headmaster, the three left back for Gryffindor Tower, joking about the scene they had witnessed.

Back at the tower, Harry remembered what still needed to be done, and that sobered his thoughts quickly. Upon seeing his change, the smile on Ginny's face disappeared. Sirius also noticed the change. "What's wrong Harry?"

"I uh, well, we, Ginny and I, need to have a private conversation about some things."

"Oh, well, I really shouldn't let you go anywhere nor should I leave, because if Molly should happen to pop out of that fireplace over there, she'd have a fit."

The teens looked at each other as if they had not thought about that.

"How about if I return to my seat and face the fireplace to continue my work, while you two head over to the corner behind me and cast an Imperturbable Charm. I think that will make everyone happy."

Harry smiled gratefully and said, "Thanks!" as he pulled Ginny over to the two chairs in the corner, the same place she had used to break up with Dean. He sat in a chair and then pulled her onto his lap, where he put his arms around her waist so she could not get away. Pulling out his wand, he cast the charm for privacy and saw his godfather grin at them before disappearing into his own chair.

Putting his wand up, he asked Ginny in a quiet, intimate voice, "So Ginny, please tell me why you changed your mind and what you were afraid of."

Sitting with her hands folded in her own lap, Ginny contemplated on what exactly to tell Harry. That she had thought about this a good bit of the time he had been napping this afternoon still had not helped her much. "I think I need to ask you a question or two first, Harry, then I can explain better."

"I'm not the one with the doubts, Ginny."

"Of course you aren't Harry, but my doubts hinged on you and what I thought you were thinking. I need to know if that was true or if my imagination made it up." She paused. "I need to know if Dumbledore was right."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Harry, I need to know why you got sick and I need to know if you know why you woke up." There, she had said the unmentionable; now she would find out just how much Harry trusted her.

It took a few seconds before Harry answered. "It doesn't matter."

"Yes it does, Harry. Can't you see? If I say or do the wrong thing and make you sick again, we could lose you -- I could lose you, and I don't want that to happen."

"You really mean that?" He was surprised by the emotion in her voice, she seemed to really care even though they had only been dating for one day.

"Of course I care, you prat!" Her passion was displayed in her voice. I've been your friend for a long time now, and as I've really gotten to know you this summer, I'm finding that I really like you." Her voice softened again. "I'm afraid it would rip my heart out to lose you."

Harry was moved by her feelings and pulled her to him so she was leaning against him with her head on his shoulder. He rubbed her arm in an attempt to comfort her. "Ginny, I don't know if I have a good answer for you," he finally admitted after a very long moment. He took a deep breath before continuing. "I really don't know why I got sick, but I can tell you that I just didn't care about life anymore when I got sick. I didn't care what was going on around me, what happened to me, or what anyone did with me. I think Voldemort was trying to do something to me too, and I didn't even care about that."

She gasped but did not move. "Dumbledore was right then, you gave up on life."

"I've never really thought about it like that, but I suppose you could say it that way. I have no idea if that could make a person sick or not, so you know why I can't really answer the question."

"But why did you give up on living, Harry? What could be so bad?" Ginny was afraid of his answer.

"It doesn't matter now," he repeated.

She groaned as she sat up, "It was me, wasn't it?" She started getting angry again when he kept silent, avoiding her gaze. "Damn it Harry, answer me! I have to know. You wanted me and got sick when you couldn't date me, didn't you?"

Harry still could not speak; all he could do was nod his assent.

"Why, Harry?" Her voice was now one of caring again. "Why me? What makes me so special and why didn't you ever tell me?"

It was another long moment before she heard him say, "I don't know Ginny, but there is something special about you. And I didn't tell you because it took me a long time to figure out what I was feeling about you, and by the time I did figure it out, you always had a boyfriend."

"And when I broke up with Michael and started dating Dean, you wanted to ask me but didn't." It was a guess, but she knew it had to be true.

He nodded. "I was always in detention, or I could never find you without at least five other people around you. Then when I saw you holding hands with Dean and the two of you sat apart for dinner, I knew you two were dating and I had no hope of getting you."

"Oh Harry, I'm so sorry, I had no idea."

"Ginny! You weren't supposed to know; I'm glad I did at least one thing right."

"But if you'd told me, or let me know that you liked me, we could have talked about it after I broke up with Michael."

"Maybe," he finally admitted, but he was almost certain he would not have.

"So do you know why you finally woke up?"

"Not totally." He seemed to get embarrassed.

"Harry?" She had a firm tone in her voice now. "You know something, come on and spill it."

"Am I ever going to be able to hide anything from you?" He was not angry at this, but seemed more resigned.

"No, at least nothing of importance. That's what girlfriends and boyfriends do, you know, they share things," she informed him.

"I think it was you telling me what you wanted to do with me." Ginny started looking embarrassed now. "At first, I think it was merely your voice. Then I started having dreams of us spending time together, as if you were really my girlfriend. So when I heard you talk about what you wanted to do with me, I wanted to be there too. Of course, as I don't really know why I got sick, I also don't really know why I woke up, but that is what seemed important to me."

"What else did you hear, Harry?" She would not look at him now and had a pink tinge to her complexion.

"I heard that you used to have a crush on me, but I figured that out on my own years ago. I heard you say that you were grateful for me saving you in the Chamber and that you thought I was very brave. You also said I'd been really amazing in the Tri-Wizard Tournament and that I was much better than the other three contestants. Then there was the bit about liking my hair and how you'd always wanted to run your fingers through it. I suppose the most important parts were the promises of hugs and kissing me senseless." He was grinning very broadly at her now, not that she could see it as she had her face buried in her hands.

Ginny was sure that her face matched the color of her hair. She had said so many secrets to him while she thought he was asleep, and he had heard them all. Way to go Weasley, she thought.

He could tell she was embarrassed as she would not put her hands down, but he still found her cute. "Ginny," he called gently, "it's all right, your secrets are safe with me."

Her face came out of her hands but quickly went to beside his head as she hugged him. She did not want him to see her face. "Harry, you weren't supposed to know those things."

He surprised her with a small laugh. "Hey, who better to share your secrets with than your boyfriend?"

"You weren't my boyfriend then, you prat!" She finally pulled her face out so they could look at each other.

Harry noticed she was still slightly embarrassed. Smiling he told her, "But I thought I was then, and I am now, plus it helped me to wake up, so it's all good." She took a deep breath and exhaled, trying to lose some of her tension. "Now that we have that over with, what were you so afraid of?"

Some of her tension came back as she was slightly afraid of what his reaction was going to be. "Isn't it obvious now?" She really was hoping to get out of this.

"I think I have an idea, but I'm still not certain." He looked expectantly at her.

Taking a deep breath, she launched into her explanation, hoping for the best. "My brain couldn't decide whether to let my heart win, because it was afraid of hurting you Harry. I didn't know what would happen to you if I said no, or if I said yes and then decided it wasn't working out and we broke up. Dumbledore had said the reason you got sick was because you couldn't date me, or at least someone; but according to Hermione, I was the one you were attached to. So the theory went that if I wasn't your girlfriend, then you would get sick again, and as there would be no one else to bring you out of your sickness, then you would die. So I was both afraid for you, and afraid to make a decision for fear of hurting you. Do you understand now?"

Several thoughts went through Harry's mind as he thought about all she had said. "I do understand the problem you faced ,Ginny, and I'm really sorry you were put into that position. It really doesn't seem fair to you."

"No it wasn't, and I really do want to prank Sirius and Dumbledore for doing that to me, well, to us really."

"You're on," he agreed with a mischievous look. "It's also amazing that Dumbledore's guess was so close to how I view it. Though can I ask you to not share what I told you with them?"

"Of course, Harry, since you don't know, I can't know either now, can I?" She winked at him conspiratorially.

"That's my girl." He squeezed her waist. He thought about all she had told him a little more and given her point of view, he was happier. "I guess I owe you an apology then, Ginny. I really shouldn't have doubted you."

"No Harry, I'm not surprised you were confused. I did sort of lead you on with our first kiss. I shouldn't have done that and I am really sorry." She was hanging her head again.

He pulled a hand out and touched her face to pull it up so she would see him. "Ginny, it's all right. How about we call it even and forget about it? Now that I know how things stand, I'm not concerned anymore. Is that OK with you?"

"Yes Harry, I'm OK with that." She leaned in to give him a kiss to show him how she felt. Harry moved his hand from her face to the back of her head. When she tried to pull back, he just grinned at her and nudged her head back to his. She did not resist at all and they lost all track of time.

Harry was trailing kisses along her jaw for at least the third time when he suddenly heard "Finite Incantatem!" The two of them jerked apart and started looking around as if searching for signs of danger. While they did not find any, they did hear a barking laugh. "OK you two, make up and make out time is over," Sirius announced with a large grin on his face. "It's well after curfew time and while I could be wrong, I believe your conversation is finished."

Though a bit embarrassed, they got up and started for their dorm rooms. "Harry?" Ginny stopped him just before he went up. "Would you like to come to The Burrow for dinner tomorrow?"

"I suppose I could. Do you think your mum would mind?"

She laughed. "Heavens no, she'd love it."

"OK, I guess I can go home with you for a short visit after Hermione's tutoring session."

Ginny smiled and gave him one last kiss before they separated for the night. Upstairs, Harry went through his nightly routine. When he came back from the bathroom and crawled into bed, Sirius came into the room and walked over to him. "Hey Sirius," Harry looked up at his godfather, "thanks for being understanding about Ginny and me."

"Harry," Sirius sat down on the side of the bed, "I'm really happy you have her and that you two are getting along so well, but, and I know your mother would agree with me on this, it had better not go any further with her than what I saw tonight. Do you understand?"

Harry was surprised at his godfather for this seemingly sudden strictness. No sign of the prankster was present. "Sure, I understand," he said very carefully.

"Mind you, it's not that I'm trying to limit your fun. Merlin knows I spent more time than I should have in broom closets here at Hogwarts. I want you to be responsible, Harry, and that means controlling yourself and not getting her, or yourself for that matter, into trouble. Maybe things will work out for you two, but right now, you're only fifteen going on sixteen and she's a year behind. You've got at least two years before you should be doing anything serious. Am I making sense as to why this needs to happen?"

The teen thought about it all and slowly nodded as he said, "Yes."

"Good. Remember Harry, I'm not trying to take the joy out of your life. Just the opposite in fact. I'm trying to protect you from Molly Weasley; and I promise you, no matter how much she may like you, you do not want to get on her bad side. Just remember what you saw tonight in the Pensieve, and that was just the smallest hint of what she would do to you if you hurt her daughter or she caught you doing anything beyond kissing."

Harry gulped at that. "I fully understand."

"Excellent, I knew you were a bright boy. Good-night, Harry."

***

[Tue Jul 9]

Tuesday was much like previous day except that Harry's nap after his exercises was only for an hour and a half instead of three hours. He spent the rest of the afternoon studying his Magical Theory book while Ginny spent it reading the fifth year spells book. They had finished covering the third and fourth year spells that morning with Sirius, who was becoming more impressed with the pair. Especially impressive to their teacher was the power Harry was putting into his spells.

When Hermione joined them, she saw Harry's library book. "Oh, you're reading a theory book. That's an excellent one too."

Harry grinned at her. "That's good to know. I did see your name on the card."

"There are several more good ones in the library on that subject," she said enthusiastically.

He smiled, "I know, I have two more and they have your name in them too." They all laughed.

"So what are we going to do today Harry? Finish Transfiguration?"

"Yeah, let's try to do that, then we can work on Charms next," he suggested.

As the were working on only the practical and there were no essays, the two fifth-years-to-be went quite quickly through the fifth year spells, though Ginny was a little slower as she had not tried most of them before like Harry had. Still, by the end of their session, they had finished working through all the fifth year Transfiguration spells.

"Well, I guess that's all for today. You two only need practice now," Hermione announced as it neared six in the evening. "We can start on Charms next time." She paused before making a suggestion. "You know, at the rate we're going, we really don't need to meet every day, and I also don't want to inconvenience Mrs. Weasley too much. What if I came for tutoring every other day when I'd normally come over for dinner?"

Harry shrugged, "That seems OK with me."

Hermione seemed happy it was settled. "So I'll see you in a couple of days then."

"Yeah, but I am coming to dinner with you, so you'll get to see a bit more of me today," the boy told her.

"Oh, excellent Harry, so we'll get to talk more. I know Ron will be happy to see you too." He smiled at that.

Ginny took charge as Hermione finished packing. "Hermione, you go ahead and I'll follow. Harry, I want you to slowly count to three to be sure we have enough time to get out of the way, since this is your first Floo trip in awhile." Harry looked a bit indignant over that. "Yes Harry, I'm the nurse and you have to follow what I say." Hermione giggled at that before she Flooed back, then Ginny went. Just to be perverse, Harry counted to ten before he went.

As he came out, he was grabbed by his arm and then practically whirled into a nearby chair. "Harry, what happened?!" Ginny seemed almost in a panic.

"Nothing, Ginny," he told her easily. "I just counted to ten before I left to give you plenty of time to get out of the way."

"HARRY JAMES POTTER! You scared me to death with you didn't come out on time!" Harry just smiled at her to get her back for yelling and she "harrumphed" and stomped out of the room. Hermione had a slightly concerned look on her face at first, then had to stifle her laughter as Ginny vented her frustration, before she too, left for the kitchen.

Hearing Ginny shout his name, both Ron and Mrs. Weasley came into the room and over to him. "Harry!" they both said, though Mrs. Weasley got there first with a big hug for him. "How are you doing? You're looking much better."

"I'm fine, Mrs. Weasley, or at least I am as long as I don't do too much."

"Well, no problem with that here. You just sit there and enjoy yourself. Dinner will be ready in about five minutes. Ron can get you anything you need. Won't you Ron?" She fixed her youngest son with a stare.

"Yes Mum," he dutifully said so she could return to fixing dinner. When she had left, Ron turned back to Harry, "So mate, you really doing OK?"

"Yeah, I actually am, or rather, as well as can be expected I suppose."

"Great, I'm sure you'll be feeling like your old self in no time," his friend told him with an overly loud voice.

Harry chuckled as he thought about what his friend must be going through. That comment was so obviously said so his mother could hear it. "Hey Ron, maybe we can talk after dinner, but I have a question for your dad. Is he here?" Harry was a bit nervous about this, but he had promised himself he would do this as soon as he could.

"Sure Harry. He's out on the back porch. Come on, we can go find him."

"Thanks Ron, but it's really just a quick question, and uh, I think I'd like to ask him privately -- please."

"Sure, mate," said Ron, but his face was a bit downcast.

"Thanks, Ron, and hey, I'll tell you later, OK?" His redheaded friend brightened at that, so Harry got up to find Mr. Weasley. He was alone on the porch reading the paper, so Harry went out and closed the door behind him.

"Mr. Weasley, do you have a moment?" Harry was getting more nervous, but he told himself it had to happen.

"Harry! Come on over my boy and have a seat. How are you doing?" The man put the paper down and gave Harry his full attention.

"Pretty good, Mr. Weasley, all things considered."

"Very good. I must say that I'm surprised to see you. I didn't think you'd make it here until next week."

He smiled at that. "As long as I don't stay too long, I think I'll be fine."

"Well, you're welcome here anytime."

"Thanks Mr. Weasley, that means a lot to me. Although I hope you'll still feel the same way after I ask you a question." Harry's nervousness was reaching new heights.

"Oh, I have trouble imagining what you could ask me that would be so bad, other than a few obvious ones I don't expect you to ask. What did you want to know?"

Harry purposely took a deep slow breath to prevent himself from hyperventilating. "Mr. Weasley, Ginny and I have come to an understanding and I'd like to date her. While I suppose the decision is up to her, I still feel like I should ask your permission if I could do so."

The head of the Weasley family smiled at the boy, which removed much of his case of nerves. "That's very thoughtful of you, Harry, and with thinking like that, I suspect you will go far. I'm very happy for you two and I'm just fine with the idea. I believe Molly will be fine with it too. In fact, don't tell her I told you this, but she's been hoping you two would discover each other since not long after she met you."

Harry closed his eyes and mentally groaned. Arthur Weasley just laughed as he could tell the boy was imaging Molly planning weddings.

There was a knock on the door before it opened and Ron's head came out to announce "Dinner's ready." He left as quickly as he had come.

"Come on Harry, let's go in and eat. Don't worry about Molly. She'll be fine with this. I think you'll have more trouble with the six brothers," her father joked with him. Now Harry did groan as they walked back into the house.

"What wrong, Harry?" Ginny asked as they came to the table.

He gave her a weak smile. "Just a depressing thought or six," he told her as he sat down next to her.

"Like what?"

Looking at Ron, who was interested in dishing out food, he finally leaned over and whispered to her, "Your brothers and what they will think of me." It took a moment before she understood, and then she smiled at him as if she was unconcerned while she started reaching for food.

"Anything you'd like to share mate?" his best friend asked.

"Now Ron, don't pry," his mother chastised him.

Figuring he was already deep in it, he decided to go the rest of the way. "Actually, yes there is something I'd like to share with all of you." Ginny looked at him with some surprise, but he just winked at her for some fun teasing.

Both of her eyebrows went up and she asked, "Are you sure, Harry?"

"Yes, unless you're afraid Ginny." He was enjoying baiting her. Arthur was doing his best to hold back a smile, as was Hermione. Ron and his mother were looking at the two of them very strangely.

"Never, Potter," she challenged him.

"What is it Harry?" Molly Weasley asked.

"Well, Mrs. Weasley," his nerves were starting to act up again, "I thought you should know that Ginny and I are dating."

The woman looked like she was going explode with happiness as she squealed and jumped up out of her chair to rush around the table to give both of them a hug. After she finally let go of Harry and gave a hug to Ginny, Harry looked over at Ron and saw that his friend was staring at him with an open mouth that did not seem to want to close. Arthur was now openly smiling at him and Hermione was smirking at them.

"Finally, I'm so happy for you two."

"What do you mean by finally, Mum?" her daughter asked.

"Just that, Ginny dear. Ever since Harry saved you from all that horrible mess in your first year, I thought the two of you should be together."

"Mum, you're making that out to be a fairy tale, or something else equally impossible," her daughter complained.

"Oh Ginny, don't worry about it. This will all work out so nicely for you, well, except that Harry is one year ahead of you. But I'm sure he won't have any problem waiting on you to finish school," her mum said happily as she mentally planned their future for them.

Harry just shook his head as he listened to her virtually making wedding plans. When he looked up, he saw Mr. Weasley looking at him with a knowing smile and an "I told you so" look. Looking over at Ron, he noticed that his friend had managed to close his mouth, but he still had an incredulous stare.

His friend finally snapped back into reality. "You and my sister? My little sister?"

"Hey!" his sister retorted. "Yes, I may be shorter than you, but I can outhex you any day of the week."

"Uh, sure Ginny, but you and Harry? I mean, why?" Ron seemed genuinely stumped.

"Because we like each other you thick-headed prat."

"Ginny dear, be nice to your brother. Just because he's slower at these kinds of things is no reason to be insulting," her mum admonished her.

"Mum! That was insulting to me." The other three teens snickered at Ron. "Hey!" Now his parents joined in too, which incensed him a bit and also shut him up.

Harry decided to go ahead and get it all over with at once. "Actually Mrs. Weasley, if Ginny and I should manage to date until we graduate, she won't have to wait for me."

"Of course she will, Harry dear, you're a year ahead of her," the matriarch of the family pointed out.

"I was, but since I missed so much class from being sick and didn't take my OWLs, I have to retake the fifth year," Harry admitted.

"WHAT!?" Ron shouted.

His mum picked up her wand and pointed it at her son. "Ron, no shouting at the table," she told him sternly before turning to Harry with sympathy all over her face. "Harry, I'm very sorry dear; I'm sure that must be very disappointing."

"I'm starting to come to terms with it Mrs. Weasley. It was a bit hard at first, but I'm getting used to it." Hermione let out a small giggle and looked like she was suppressing a larger one, along with a secret.

"But that means we won't be sharing a dorm room any more, and our classes will be different too," Ron finally got his thoughts out.

Harry nodded. "I'm sorry, Ron. I still want to be your best mate, but you're right, our classes and dorm rooms will be different." What else could he say, it was the truth.

There was a large pause in the conversation after that, while everyone finished the last of their dinner. Mrs. Weasley broke the uneasy silence. "I have a couple of pies for desert." She got up to get them.

Mr. Weasley spoke up. "So Harry, what's your routine like for the summer. Are you relaxing a lot to recover faster?"

The boy smiled at that delightful thought. "No sir, that sounds very nice but I'm afraid my normal day would not be considered relaxing."

"Why not, Harry?" Molly asked as she started the pies around for everyone to take a piece, or in Ron's case, two pieces.

"Because I have so much to do, Mrs. Weasley. My mornings are classes with Sirius on Defense, and my afternoons are exercises usually with a nap plus either studying or more classes, and the evenings are usually filled with reading homework and maybe an hour for free time. Plus Ginny and Sirius make me go to bed early."

"Yuck!" Ron exclaimed. "That sounds just like normal school."

"Why all the classes, Harry?" Arthur asked.

"Because Sirius thinks it's a good idea to get ahead, since I've had to fight either Death Eaters or Voldemort," Molly gave a slight shudder, "or sometimes both every year I've been at Hogwarts, except for this last year. And Professor Dumbledore thinks they were setting something up and I probably would have run into them this last year if I hadn't gotten sick. So they want me to be as prepared as possible. I'm also doing extra studying so I can prepare myself to do sixth year spells even if I'm not in that year."

"Blimey Harry. Two years of work at once?" Ron was incredulous.

"Yes and no, Ron." Ron looked confused so Harry decided he needed to explain more. "Yes I want to learn all the six year spells with you guys, but it won't be so bad because I won't have all of your homework. No because I already know all the fifth year spells, and because I've already have done all that homework, it will be easy to redo."

As the conversation died down a bit, Harry decided this was a good time to get away. "I hope you don't mind me eating and running Mrs. Weasley, but I think I'd like to go back so I can lay down for a bit and rest while I read."

"Certainly, Harry dear. I don't want you to get overly tired, your rest is very important. And Harry? You can come eat dinner any time," Molly told him.

"Thanks Mrs. Weasley, and thanks for dinner tonight. It was very good."

"Any time, Harry. Go on back and have Sirius take care of you. I need to borrow Ginny for a little bit if you don't mind."

"Uh, no ma'am. I'll see everyone later." He left for Hogwarts.

Back in the common room, he did lie on the couch and open his book. Surprisingly, he did not make it past two pages before he fell asleep.

When Harry woke up, there was no light coming in through the windows. Looking around, he saw Ginny sitting on the other end of the couch from his head, and Sirius sitting in a chair. Both were reading. When he stirred, Ginny looked over at him and smiled.

"Hey sleepyhead, you really weren't faking being tired, were you?" She put her book down and went over to the other end of the couch, kneeling on the floor by his head. She ran her fingers through his hair as he slowly blinked and looked at her.

"I thought I was faking it at the time, but when I stretched out on the couch, I don't think I lasted very long," he admitted. "What time is it?"

"Nearly ten, and time for you to go to bed," she answered him teasingly.

"Ha-ha," he told her, "I just woke up."

"Well, OK, you can stay up a few more minutes, but just because you're cute," she flirted with him.

He snorted at that. "So, what did your mum have to talk to you about?"

Her expression turned dark at that. "She wanted me to come home instead of staying here all the time." That got his attention and his eyes opened wide in surprise. "Yeah, I was surprised too. She thought that since you were doing so well that you didn't need a nurse any more."

"So what happened?" he asked with some worry in his voice. He liked all the time he got to spend with her.

"It took me awhile, and I had to appeal to dad, but I get to stay here for the next month until you have to go home with Sirius," she said happily. He was happy too. "Believe it or not, the winning argument was that I need the extra classes to protect myself from You-Know-Who. Well, and the extra tutoring sessions with Hermione and you to help me for next year didn't hurt either," she said with a smile.

"I'm really glad," he told her, and then felt his eyelids start drooping once more.

"Come on Harry, I think we need to get you up to bed," she told him and started pulling him up. Though he fussed a bit over her help, he did get up and gave her a quick kiss before heading to bed.

When he was upstairs, she turned to their chaperone. "Sirius? I'm concerned about all of his sleeping."

"Don't worry about it, Ginny. Poppy said he'd need a lot of rest and we've been working him hard," he tried to soothe her. "If he's still like this in a couple of weeks, we can find someone to check him out, but I think we need to wait and let his body recover some more."

She was not totally happy with that answer, but she told him, "All right." She promised herself she would watch over Harry very carefully. She really liked him a lot.

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