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In You I Trust
By elaithin

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Category: Alternate Universe, First Week Challenge (2008-2)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Harry/Ginny
Genres: Drama, Fluff, General
Warnings: Death
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 26
Summary: There are times, after all, when Fate just owes you one, and wishes do come true.
Hitcount: Story Total: 7564



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.



Author's Notes:
Getting in just ahead of the wire, I really had fun with this challenge. Thanks to my betas, TeyriJen and Geluf for their quick feedback. Hope you enjoy it! Now I can go read all the other entries in the challenge!




ChapterPrinter


"In You I Trust"

2 May 1998

Harry Potter was dying.

The night Harry Potter defeated Voldemort for the final time; he lay unmoving on the cold stone floor of the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. He tried to speak, but he lacked the ability. He tried to move, but found that he rather lacked that ability, too. What's more, Harry knew very well that he was dying. It was hard not to be aware, with all the pain and the blood and the screaming.

He was dimly aware that people were around him - someone was crying, weren't they? Merlin, he hurt. His hand was curled tightly around the Elder Wand. So much for the "Master of Death." Harry tried to piece together what had just happened, but it was hard to focus. He was dimly aware he'd been victorious - Voldemort's Killing curse had rebounded, and he'd caught it... and then... someone, Harry didn't know who, had yelled 'Sectumsempra', and then there had been another cry and the next thing he knew, Harry was on the floor, and there was so much blood and pain...

Someone was pressing against his neck, and franticly muttering healing spells.

They weren't working.

His eyes swam back into focus. It was Ginny. At the sight of her, Harry truly realized what his dying meant. What sort of world was it where the Freds and Siriuses and Dumbledores died far too soon, and children like Luna were sorted into places they didn't belong and if he was being honest, the fates of people like him? Hadn't his life been hard enough? Didn't he deserve to live? Didn't he and Ginny deserve their chance?

His mind was wandering. That was normal, he supposed. He'd have to ask Snape. He'd died the same way, more or less.

"Gin-" he gasped out.

"Harry," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks, leaving tracks in the grime of battle. "Shh, don't speak, luv, you did it, you did, it'll be okay, it'll be okay."

Harry knew it wouldn't be. He could see the truth in her eyes. Ginny's lips said it would fine, but her eyes... they said something else.

"I'm sorry," he breathed, feeling himself growing cold as too much blood flowed freely out of his wounds. "I love-"

His hand curled tightly around the Elder Wand, and Ginny's curled around his. In that one moment, Harry Potter made a single wish. He made this wish with all of his heart, with all of his soul, and perhaps most importantly - with every bit of magic that was inside of him. Unknowingly to him, at the exact same moment, Ginny made the same wish, with her hand clasped over his, with all of her heart, with all of her soul, and all of her magic. Unknowingly, they also tapped into the magic of the Elder Wand, and even the age-old magic of Hogwarts, and through those to the Weave itself.

I wish it had been different.

And then Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, died.

But then, every now and again it turns out that Fate is paying attention. And sometimes, just sometimes, She even listens.

There are times, after all, when Fate just owes you one, and wishes do come true.

- - - - - - - - - -

1 September, 1991

"You don't mind if I join you two, do you?" Harry asked, lugging his trunk and Hedwig onto the train with him asked. "Everywhere else is full..."

"S'no problem," the boy answered, and then pointed at his trunk. "Want a hand?"

It was one of the red-haired twins - the boy and girl pair, not the identical ones - that he'd followed through the barrier at the urging of their mother. The boy was taller than Harry, and the girl, who was looking at him curiously, was just a few inches shorter. The boy was standing on the seat so he could shove his trunk up onto the shelf. They were clearly related - the same color of red hair and the same freckles, but they were first years too, he thought, which also had lead to the assumption of their being twins. Like him, they looked just a little bit too nervous for this to be anything but their first time on the train.

"Yes, please," Harry responded eagerly. How in the world was an eleven year old supposed to get a trunk up there on his own? He tilted the end of his trunk up towards the taller redhead and the other boy tried to lift it to no avail.

"Blimey, what've you got in there, everything you own?" the boy asked with a grunt and a chuckle.

"Actually, yeah," Harry answered quietly.

"Oh," the boy replied, turning a bright shade of red as he blushed all the way up to his ears. "Uh, sorry."

Harry just shrugged it off.

"Oh, really Ron," the girl said in disgust, and drew her wand. She pointed it at the trunk, gave her wand a swish and a flick and said something that sounded like "Win-guard-ee-um lever-saw".

Harry stared in amazement as the trunk lifted off the ground, light as a feather, to join the other two already stowed away.

"Wow..." he breathed.

The boy frowned. "Gin, you could have done that for our trunks, you know."

"I know," the girl said, giving Harry a wink. "But it was more fun to watch you do it the other way. And you could've done it too, if you'd thought about it."

Harry laughed. "Say, how did you know how to do that? I thought we weren't allowed to learn magic until we got to Hogwarts."

The twins shared a quick look between them. "You're allowed to learn outside of school," the girl explained, emphasizing the 'learn' part. "I paid attention to our Mum - a bit more than this git, I'd say."

"You just can't do magic outside of school. Not without getting in loads of trouble," the boy finished, ignoring the latter part of his sister's comment. Harry was beginning to suspect he did that a lot.

"Well, thanks," Harry said, taking in that bit of information. As he did so, he pushed his sweaty hair out of his eyes, brushing it clear of his forehead and inadvertently revealing his scar. After the way people had reacted before, he'd taken to brushing his hair down in front of his head, to hide the identifying mark. But the compartment was very hot, and simply enough, he forgot about it. "That's good to know, I guess. I didn't tell my aunt and uncle we're not allowed, though. Hagrid said I probably shouldn't."

Harry looked up to see that both redheads were staring open-mouthed at him. "You're Harry Potter!" the boy finally exclaimed.

Harry blushed, and cast his eyes down to the suddenly interesting floor. Were they going to fawn like the people in Diagon Alley had? Harry really hoped he wasn't going to have to deal with that sort of thing all the time. "Erm... yeah."

"Wicked," the boy breathed. The way he said it made Harry smile, and instantly made him feel more at ease - until his sister smacked him soundly in the back of the head. "Oi! What was that for!" he protested as he rubbed his scalp indignantly.

"You're embarrassing him, you git!" the girl said, before turning back to Harry. "I apologize for him. Mum tried to give him manners, really, but it just didn't take. My name's Ginny, Ginny Weasley. This is my idiot brother, Ron."

"Big brother," Ron corrected.

Ginny rolled her eyes. "By two minutes!"

"I'm Harry," Harry speedily interjected, hoping to cut off another sibling confrontation. "Harry Potter. I guess you, ah, know that though."

"Scar's a bit of a giveaway, mate," Ron said sagely.

"So," Harry started, finding he didn't actually mind the attention from these two. Honestly, he found them just as interesting as they found him. "Are your whole family wizards then? You must already know loads of magic."

They talked for quite awhile, Harry asking questions about the wizarding world and their family, and Ron and Ginny asking questions about where he'd been. Both grew excited to find out he'd grown up in the Muggle world, but that lessened with time. He told them little in the way of details about his life with the Dursleys, but they were able to quickly gather that it was not a happy topic. They both assured Harry that he wasn't going to be far behind everyone else - there were apparently plenty of 'Muggle-borns" who went to Hogwarts.

Around half past twelve, there was a great clattering in the corridor, and a round smiling woman slid back the door and looked down at the three of them. "Anything off the cart, dears?"

Harry watched Ron's and Ginny's reactions as they mentioned they'd been sent with food. As to any other eleven-year-olds, roast beef and corned beef sandwiches simply didn't look appetizing in the face of all that candy, and it showed on their faces. Making up his mind quickly, he pulled a fistful of Galleons from his pocket, and looked levelly at the round witch. "We'll take the lot."

Later in his life, Harry would think that all that candy had soundly secured Ron's loyalty right then and there. Ginny, however, was impressed by his willingness to share with two other kids had just met. Harry was just happy to have someone to share it with.

After a time of trying various candies - Harry found Bertie Bott's Every-Flavored Beans both especially fascinating and challenging at the same time, particularly when he discovered a bogey-flavored one - Harry held up another package, labeled 'Chocolate Frogs'. "What are these? They're not really frogs, are they?" Somehow, that wouldn't be a surprise anymore. Indeed, Harry was half-expecting it.

It wasn't even a surprise when the candy frog jumped from the open package, and right out the window.

"Shame, that," Ginny commiserated. "They've only got the one good jump in them."

"Yeah," Ron agreed, and then pointed at the package in Harry's hands, "Hey, see what the card is. I'm missing Agrippa."

"Card?" Harry asked.

"They come with collectible cards of all sorts of famous witches and wizards," Ginny explained, opening one of her own. "Most everybody collect them - Ron's got loads. Oh, I've got Dumbledore again. I was hoping for Gwenog Jones...”

"You've got about six of her!" Ron protested, and Harry grinned a bit ridiculously as he pulled off his card. He found he didn't much care what the card was - he was just happy to have made some friends for the first time in his life.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

They met two other students on the train, as well, when a bushy-haired girl named Hermione had come, helping a boy named Neville try to find his toad. Ron and Ginny had been busily explaining something called Quidditch to Harry, a game that he thought sounded well, brilliant. Just the idea of flying sounded so... free to Harry. They'd been all set to let the girl go off on her own after she'd introduced herself, but Ginny had badgered the both of them into helping Hermione and Neville look for the toad. Ron had complained, until both Ginny and Hermione had started telling him what to do. Clearly, the two girls were becoming fast friends.

"Great," he'd groused at Harry under his breath. "Now there's two of them."

Harry had just laughed, being surprised to find that he didn't really mind either girl's bossiness. In Ginny, he supposed it was just her way of asserting herself over all those older brothers - including another set of twins! - that she and Ron had. Hermione was a Muggleborn - she was probably feeling as nervous and out of place as Harry himself was. And Neville, he seemed a good sort, though maybe a bit withdrawn.

After meeting and greeting Hagrid - the sight of the giant wizard had reassured Harry that this wasn't all some big joke at his expense - Harry and Ginny had been separated from the other three as they all piled into the boats. They had ended up sharing a boat with a dark-haired girl named Cordelia, and as their boat set off from the shore, Harry and Ginny found themselves alone in the last boat.

Had they been older, it would have all been very romantic. As it was, both were blissfully unaware of this notion - not to mention far too caught up in their first actual sighting of Hogwarts itself. Harry - or Ginny, for that matter - didn't even realize when their hands strayed together and curled around the others.

Hogwarts stone and mortar towers soared majestically against backdrop of the glittering night sky. A full moon shone brightly, casting fascinating shadows from above, and below where it was reflected in the lake.

The castle was, in a word, magnificent.

And to Harry especially, strangely enough, it felt like coming home.

The next morning, Harry awoke in a magnificent four-poster bed that was more comfortable than anything he'd ever slept on in his life. All of this - being a wizard, having money, and clothes that fit, and friends! Actual friends like Ron and Ginny and Hermione and Neville! Harry didn't know why, but he felt, very strongly, that he could trust all four of them. That somehow, they were going to mean a great deal to him. That feeling intensified incredibly whenever it came to a certain red-haired girl in particular. It was odd, he realized, to feel that way about people he'd only just met. But, as he couldn't help it, Harry decided not to worry about it.

But it was everything else, too - the castle, that crazy hat, everything that had happened at the Welcoming Feast. It was, well, it was rather a lot to take in. In just one month, he had gone from being "that Freak Potter", who his aunt and uncle made do all the household chores, and who Dudley's gang tried to stuff in trash bins, to Harry Potter, son of Lily and James Potter, a wizard who was apparently famous. Not to mention well-to-do.

Of course, there's always the possibility that Aunt Petunia finally caught me in the head with that frying pan of hers, and I've gone absolutely nutters and this is just a hallucination, Harry mused. That prompted him to wonder that, if he was crazy, would he know it?

Ron was very suddenly standing over his bed, which, to be honest, startled him just a bit. "Come on, Harry! Let's see what they've got for breakfast! Don't want to miss it, do you?"

Thinking of the brilliant meal they'd had the night before, Harry's stomach agreed - loudly. "What, d'you think I'm crazy?" he asked rhetorically, and Ron laughed. Harry decided that he'd been right back on the train. Food was absolutely the way to win Ron's friendship - and apparently, he already had it.

Harry smiled, and dressed quickly in order to follow his friend. As he was slipping on his shoes, he looked to where Ron was waiting impatiently by the door to the dormitory, and back at Neville, who had snagged his robe on his bedpost. Going to the pudgy boy's aid quickly, Harry helped him untangle and the other boy gave him a sheepish smile.

"Thanks," he muttered.

"Don't mention it," Harry grinned. "Coming to breakfast?"

The other boy just nodded.

Ginny had waited for her brother and Harry, and also had Hermione and another girl from their dorm with her. (Cordy something? The dark-haired girl from London they'd met on the boat.) Draco had been gone from their dorm before Ron and Neville had awoken, and he'd seen the other two boys from their year, Dean and Seamus, leaving even as he'd been getting dressed. Remembering his encounter with the blonde boy at Madame Malkin's, and the way Draco had reacted after being sorted into Gryffindor... well, Harry didn't much mind that the boy was gone already. Though, to be fair - Draco's father had really been the problem at Malkin's, not the boy himself. Though the elder Malfoy's comments about his parents made Harry seethe with a rage he hadn't known he was capable of.

By the time they got down to the table, Harry and Ginny had been surprised that they had ended up sitting next to each other once again. Ron had asked Hermione something about chess on the walk down, (Seven floors! Harry had to wonder if these people had never heard of lifts!) Still, Ron had targeted the bushy-haired girl, since she seemed to know so much about everything and the two were now in a heated "discussion." Neville and Cordy, likewise, were talking about something that Harry only caught snippets of. From what it sounded like, Neville really liked plants.

"So what d'you want to be when you grow up?" Ginny asked around a mouthful of eggs. Harry had seen Ron exhibiting the same habit last night, but it was a little jarring in a girl. Even stranger, Harry found it... endearing, was the word, he supposed.

"Don't know," Harry confessed. "I don't know anything about what wizards do. I guess they don't all live in towers and just act mysterious all the time."

Ginny's eyes glinted as they flicked over to where Professor Dumbledore was seated. Harry's followed hers, and he grinned. "Well, most don't," he amended, and the two laughed, drawing a suspicious stare from Ron. From what they'd told him yesterday, Ginny was usually dragging Ron right alongside her. Of course, together, they were pretty good at getting out of it.

"Oi, sis, what're you two doing?"

"Nothing," they replied in unison.

"Mental," Ron muttered, and everyone returned to their conversations. Ginny captured Harry's attention by talking more about Quidditch, and Harry was paying very close attention. Every time some mentioned flying, he felt a fierce desire to hop on a broom and soar.

Before either Harry or Ginny had realized it, almost everyone but their little group was gone. This realization sparked them all to hurry back to Gryffindor Tower to get their things. (Seven floors! Again!) Harry and Ginny hadn't even looked at the schedules handed out by Professor McGonagall - and now they were dangerously close to being late for their first class at Hogwarts. Hermione was all but hyperventilating, and Cordy, Neville and Ron were trying to calm her down as the six Gryffindors rushed towards where the Transfiguration classroom apparently was.

As such, none of the four noticed at first when the stone floor of the hallway under Harry and Ginny's feet vanished, and they went tumbling down. By the time either of them could even scream, the other four were too far away.

- - - - - - - - - -
"Ow," Harry said.

"Ow," Ginny echoed.

They had tumbled down a long stone shaft, and thankfully, landed on well-placed a pile of pillows at the bottom. This was not to say the landing hadn't hurt. It had. Rather a lot, actually, and Harry suspected he had a bruise in a very uncomfortable place. Still, it could have been worse. They could have broken something - or several somethings, really. After a few moments, the both of them were standing, and trying to get their bearings.

"Well," Ginny said, looking around. "You're the first I've ever done that with."

"I'd hope so," Harry muttered. It was very dark in here - what else was there other than pillows?

"Oh bollocks," Ginny cursed under her breath, her language making Harry start slightly. She talked with food in her mouth, she cursed... if Harry hadn't known she had so many brothers, he'd certainly have suspected it by now. The thought made him grin, and abruptly, he was glad it was dark and that the red-headed girl couldn't see his face.

"What?" he asked, taking care to remove all amusement from his voice.

"I can't remember the incantation for the light spell," she said, clearly very frustrated.

"Lumos," Harry said reflexively, and the tip of his wand lit up obligingly. It revealed a solid stone room - with no doors, or no windows. Despite the chance to finally examine their surroundings, that, however, wasn't what Ginny was staring at.

She was staring at him.

"What?" he asked, a bit defensively. He didn't much like being stared at.

"I didn't know that's the way... I couldn't remember the word..." she muttered almost to herself, and then her eyes - which Harry, oddly, suddenly thought were a rather pleasant shade of brown - refocused on him once more. "You said you didn't know any magic!" The words were an accusation, but not an unkind one. More like glee at having caught someone.

"I don't!" Harry exclaimed and then stared at the wand in his hand as though it were some alien thing, frowned.

"You knew the light charm," Ginny said pointedly.

Harry was at a loss - he really couldn't explain it. "I don't know," he said honestly. "It just sort of... came to me."

Ginny's eyes narrowed, but he saw something in them that said she believed him. "Weird," she finally commented.

"No weirder than everything else in my life lately," Harry muttered.

Ginny raised an eyebrow, but Harry declined to comment further. He wasn't especially good at sharing things, he knew. It wasn't like he ever especially had anyone to share them with.

Before, a part of his brain, the part that had urged him to trust his new friends so much, reminded him.

"I wonder how long before someone'll find us..." Ginny trailed after a few silent moments, and flopped herself down on the large pile of red and gold pillows, sighing happily as she did so.

"Can't be too long," Harry mused, "Someone else's got to know about a trick floor like that..."

- - - - - - - - - -

Three hours later - though, as neither Harry nor Ginny was wearing a watch, neither knew just how long it had been - they were still waiting. It hadn't seemed nearly that long to either of the pair, however, as they had proven quite adept at entertaining each other. They had been asking inconsequential questions of each other for awhile, and as was natural, these questions got more personal after a time. Harry had even told Ginny of his inexplicable desire to set Professor Quirrell on fire when he'd seen him the night before.

Ginny raised her eyebrow in a now-familiar expression. "And do you commonly want to set Defense professors on fire, Potter?"

Harry snorted. "Shut it, Weasley," was the only rejoinder he could offer, however, and he was pleased when Ginny decided to change the subject.

"So you really don't know what you want to do?" The red-head asked again, since he'd never really answered her before.

Harry ran a hand through his messy black hair as he tried to think of a proper answer. When it came down to it, Harry realized he didn't really know anything about the way the magical world worked. He was going to have to correct that. "Maybe I'll play Quidditch," he offered. "Flying sounds brilliant."

Ginny promptly hit him with the closest pillow she could find. Harry sat there in shock for a moment, as the act had been completely unexpected.
“Why... uh, why did you do that to me?” he finally stammered out.

"Because Quidditch is my dream, Potter. No fair swiping it," she said, grinning madly, and Harry had to laugh.

"Alright, I'll come up with something else then," he shrugged.

"I always figured you for an Auror," Ginny admitted.

"An Auror?" Harry asked.

She nodded. "Yeah, they're like Muggle Please-Men," she said, and frowned when Harry started laughing.

"You mean policemen?" he asked, fighting back tears.

"If that's who catches people who break the law, then yes," she answered, clearly hiding her embarrassment behind a facade of primness (that, Harry realized, didn't suit her at all.)

Ginny explained some more about what Aurors did, and after a time, both fell silent again. Harry took the opportunity to lie back on the pillows. Looking up at the "ceiling" of their stone chamber, he saw the shaft they'd fallen down was still dark. No one had opened the trick floor to come for them yet. Still, given the company, Harry found he didn't really mind all that much.

After they lay like that a bit, looking at the shadows cast by the light from their wands, Ginny spoke up once more, "Harry?" she asked, her tone very tentative, and not at all like that of the girl he'd spent the last several hours getting to know.

"Yeah?"

"Your aunt and uncle... they don't treat you very well, do they?"

Harry sat up quickly, and gave Ginny a very direct look. A part of him wanted to lie, but another, much larger part that he couldn't begin to understand, found the very notion of lying to Ginny to be a very stupid idea, given how much he trusted her. If Harry had had a bit more social interaction in his life, he might have realized how very unusual this was, but he rationalized it away as simply being how one acted with a friend. Lying to her now would be a betrayal of that, wouldn't it? So instead, what he said was: "How... how did you know about that?"

"I don't know," Ginny said quietly. "Intuition, I guess. Is it... bad?"

Harry shrugged, "It could be worse. They hardly ever manage to hit me - I'm pretty fast - and they finally gave me a bedroom-"

Ginny's eyes narrowed. "Finally gave you a bedroom?" she repeated, instantly incredulous. "Where did they have you before? A sodding broom cupboard?"

Harry averted his eyes as she said it. He could feel his ears burning, and he was ashamed of his admission.

"Oh...” Ginny stopped, and Harry supposed she realized she was bang on. "Oh, Harry, that's..."

Harry brought his eyes up to her again. "I got used to it," he confessed, not knowing how very sad and old his eyes appeared at the confession. Yes, he'd always known they way the Dursleys treated him was fundamentally wrong, but it hadn't been like he had other options, exactly. Not until now.

"Harry, you can't go back there," Ginny declared. "Not if that's how things are. We'll tell Dumbledore, or... or my Dad! My Dad can fix anything."

Harry snorted. "And where would I go, Gin?" he asked, not even wondering why the nickname felt so familiar.

"You'll live with us, of course," Ginny replied, as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

"Now that, I would enjoy," he admitted. "Honestly, though - you've known me for all of a day. You really think that's a good idea?"

The look Ginny gave him left Harry with absolutely no doubts at all. "I trust you, Harry," she said, and Harry knew she felt the same way he himself did. He didn't know what any of it meant, of course, but it made him feel better about his inexplicable desire to open up to a girl who had entered his life only twenty-four hours before.

"I trust you too," Harry echoed. "I think - "

Harry was interrupted by a sudden cry from above.

"Ginny!" came the voice that sounded a bit like one of the identical twins, Harry thought. "Ickle Gin-Gin, are you down there?" came another, only slightly different voice. The other one, of course. Ginny had said that they were hardly ever separated.

"Fred!" Ginny yelled, and then beamed as she looked at Harry. "We're down here! Get us out!"

"Right-o!" the voice called. A moment later, a small bottle of potion came bounding down the shaft, seemingly unaffected by the fact that it had just rebounded off several stones. It simply clattered its way down, and landed on the pillows with a soft 'thump'.

"Why didn't the glass break?" Harry asked, amazed.

"Imperturbable Charm," Ginny answered immediately. "At the Burrow, they're a necessity."

"Keeps things from breaking, then?"

"Pretty much," Ginny said, picking up the potion, staring at it for a moment, and then raising her head back towards the now-open shaft. "Oi! Fred! What's this?"

"Featherweight Potion!" Fred called down. "Just take a nip, mind, you and Ickle Harry-kins. Don't want you to float up too far now," his words were delivered as a warning... but Harry suspected that Fred Weasley would find it very amusing indeed if they did float too far up. He also bristled a bit at the nick-name, but couldn't deny he was grateful for the rescue. It wasn't too far till lunch now, and as much as he had enjoyed the company, he didn't fancy starving to death in some manky stone crypt.

Two nips of the potion later - which he had noticed Ginny had been hesitant to try, meaning she probably suspected the same things he did, so he'd volunteered to go first - they had felt their bodies become lighter than air. Ginny was only too happy to let him be the target of a prank by the twins if they'd done something.

As it turned out, their fears were groundless. No pun intended, Harry thought. It was remarkably easy to travel back up the chute in this fashion, and when they came out the top, Harry and Ginny found both of the twins standing there, grinning broadly. Harry suspected strongly that it was their default expression. They never looked guilty, because they always looked guilty.

"Now, Ickle Gin-Gin," Fred began, adopting an overly-exaggerated lecture tone."You really didn't have to -"

George continued -even adopting his twin's tone - and Harry's attention quickly darted over. "- sneak off with Harry here your first class."

"You've got seven whole years -"

"- to work on him, you know," George - at least, Harry thought it was George, finished.

When he looked to Ginny, Harry was surprised to see that she was blushing quite a bit. What he couldn't figure out was why.

"Um...” Harry started, before he floated a bit closer to the ceiling.

"Shut it, you two," she muttered, and Harry heard a note in her voice that he actually found a bit alarming. "Just cancel the potion, would you?"

"Right now?" Fred asked, incredulous. "Just when - "

"-you're completely at our mercy?"

Harry decided that he really didn't like that grin much anymore.

"I remind you two," Ginny said coolly, "That Bill did teach Ron and me the Bat-Bogey Hex this summer."

The youngest wizard in the corridor was a bit surprised at just how quickly his feet were back on the ground. Adding to his mental notes, he decided to learn that hex.

"Thank you," Ginny said sweetly, beaming at her brothers. "How did you find us?"

"Ah, ah, Littlest Sister - " Fred responded as he tapped the side of his nose with his index finger.

"Only sister," Ginny corrected

"- that's a trade secret," George finished, though Harry saw him slip a folded piece of paper back into the pocket of his robes.

"Do they always do that?" Harry asked Ginny.

"What, the talking together thing? Yeah. Drives Mum spare. Ron and I've never been able to get the hang of it."

"Because we're - "

"-the better set of bookends," they said, both grinning. It was clearly an old joke between the siblings, by the way the twins and Ginny smiled.

Before long, the older Weasleys were off, after informing them that the trap door they'd fallen through only opened on its own at precisely 8:03 AM every first Monday of every third month. They knew how to make it open, and often used it to escape from the Caretaker, Argus Filch - which was why they'd been carrying the Featherweight Potion. And the pillows had been nicked from the Gryffindor Common Room, explaining the red and gold.

"I've never known people who could finish sentences like that," Harry confessed as they headed towards where Ginny's other brother, the Prefect, Percy, had said Professor McGonagall's office was. Ginny thought if they went to her, instead of waiting to be found, maybe they wouldn't get in as much trouble about missing class. "I don't think I'll ever get used to it."

Ginny snorted. "You will if you want to be an honorary Weasley," she teased, and Harry marveled once again at how willingly she and Ron - and even their brothers, actually - had so easily accepted him. Hagrid had been the same way. He wondered, too, if they knew what a gift that was. When he looked at Ginny again, he realized he couldn't quite put words to the look Ginny was giving him. "You'll be very welcome there, you know," she said, speaking of her home.

"I'm sure I would be," Harry admitted quietly, and felt an old, quiet longing grow once more.

"Mum'll think you need fattening up, of course -” Ginny continued, and the two resumed their morning-long conversation.

By the end of his first full day at Hogwarts, Harry had made a friend who knew him better than anyone ever had his whole life.

- - - - - - - - - -
Dear Luna,

I miss you terribly. I hate that there's no other witches our age nearby, and that you've only got your Dad so soon after what happened to your Mum. I wish you were here. Hogwarts is great! It's not even been a whole week, but I'm absolutely in love with this place. The castle's just... magnificent, and there's just so many interesting things and places! The ceiling in the Great Hall is charmed to always look like the weather outside, and the staircases move, and there's all these trap doors and secret passageways - the twins promised to show us those, though they won't say how they know about them, and Harry introduced the rest of us to the biggest wizard I've ever seen - Hagrid. I'd swear he's half-giant or something! He's a bit like a really big teddy bear, though - he's the Keeper of Grounds and Keys here, and he loves magical animals. He told Harry he wants to get a dragon. I think you'll get along great with him, next year. I hope you get sorted into Gryffindor like the rest of us!

I found out that first years can try out for the Quidditch team. We can try out; we just can't have our own brooms. I don't care. A school one will do. Ron's the only one who knows I can fly - I can't wait to see the other's faces when I try out. I bet I fly better than either of the Twins. It'll serve them right. Gits.

Well, as you've picked up, I've made a new friend. It's Harry Potter. And there's something...

Well, it's going to sound silly, but I know you'll believe me, even if no one else would. With Harry... it's the strangest thing, Luna, it's like I've known him for years and years. And yes, I'm perfectly aware that my childhood obsession with the 'Boy-Who-Lived' may be a factor, but... it feels like more. Have you ever heard of anything like that?

Your friend,
Ginny
- - - - - - - - - -

Harry fidgeted a bit as he watched Ron head down the stairs. He wanted to go play chess, something Harry and Neville - and the other Gryffindor first years, except for Draco - had already learned first-hand not to do. Not with him, at least. Not until they learned a hell of a lot more about the game.

Still, he'd had something on his mind almost all week, and he didn't know who to talk to about it. There was Ron, of course, or Ginny - or even Fred or George or Percy, but, well, given the subject matter, that made him a little nervous. And Hermione and Cordy, well, they were girls. There were just some things a bloke didn't admit to.

So... Neville then. He was from an old wizarding family, just like Ron and Ginny were. Maybe he'd know. Maybe. "Hey, uh, Neville," Harry said nervously.

Neville was studying his Herbology book at the small desk each one of them had next to their bed. "Oh, hey Harry," he said.

"Got a minute?"

The brown-haired boy seemed surprised by that question. He seemed baffled by the way the others - Harry and Ginny in particular - always seemed to go out of their way to include him. Harry could relate. It was part of why he wanted to talk to Neville, actually.

"Uh, sure, Harry," Neville answered uncertainly, and closed his text. "What's up?"

"The Longbottoms are one of those old pureblood families, right? I mean, your family's been around the magical world for a long time."

"Yeah..."

"So, you probably have heard about all kinds of weird stuff, you know, just picking it up from other witches and wizards," Harry pressed on, even as Neville looked more and more baffled by the questions.

"I don't know all that much, Harry," Neville said, his face taking on a shamed look. "My Gran thought I was going to be a squib, but I think my parents were kind of worried about it, too."

"It's still more than I know," Harry cut him off, trying to make is point.

"Well, okay," Neville admitted.

"Have you ever heard of two people meeting and just... clicking together?" Harry asked.

"You and Ginny, you mean?" the brown-haired boy asked, indicating that Harry's attempts at subtlety were a complete and utter failure.

"Yes!" Harry answered. "It's the weirdest thing. A week ago I didn't know her. I've never had any friends, Nev, ever - and now, I've got you and Ginny and Ron and Hermione and Cordy, but with Ginny, it's..." He didn't know how to phrase it.

"Different," the other boy supplied.

And then Neville did something that surprised Harry.

He grinned.

"You fancy her," he answered simply. "It's not magic - well, not the kind of magic that has a wand. Well, I guess it does have a wand, eventually," Neville said, and then turned a bright red that Harry rather thought would do a Weasley proud. "I-I-I... I mean, well, you know what I mean."

"I really don't," Harry said quietly, and Neville looked at him in shock.

By the end of his sixth day at Hogwarts, Neville Longbottom joined Ginny and Ron Weasley on the list of people who knew more about Harry Potter than anyone else in Britain.

- - - - - - - - - -

That afternoon, Harry and Ginny found themselves left alone once again. They were in the common room this time, so they weren't exactly alone, but their friends had gone off. Hermione had badgered Ron into going to the library with her to study - despite Ron's protests that it was Saturday, the very first Saturday of class, even. Cordy and Neville had gone along for moral support. Ginny had feigned illness, and Harry had backed her up, promising to Hermione that he would quiz Ginny on their Potions notes there in the Common Room. The bushy-haired girl, who Harry was glad to count among his friends, even if she was a bit... driven... had accepted that, with the admonition that they shouldn't waste time playing games or something similar.

Naturally, Ginny had dragooned Harry into a game of Exploding Snap only moments after the others had left.

"Harry," Ginny asked absently, "Do you think it's strange?"

He didn't have to ask what she meant. He never did, he realized. It was refreshing, and yes, a bit strange, how they were always on the same page. "Probably," he admitted.

"I mean, I read stories about you, but as soon as I met you, I knew that you were nothing like them - and yet, everything like them. I can't explain it, and I... can't help but think we're too young..."

"I know," Harry admitted. "But around you - and the others, too, but mostly you, Gin - it doesn't feel like I've only known you a week," he paused, and then continued once Ginny offered no rejoinder. Harry locked eyes with hers, and delivered each word in a careful, thoughtful tone. "I can't explain it, I trust you. I don't know why it is, and I care less every day. And maybe we are too young to feel this way about another person. I'm sure that's what the adults would tell us. But - well, it's like we said that first day. I trust you. And I think, maybe, I always will."

"I trust you too, Harry," Ginny's mouth said.

Her eyes said something else.

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