A New Beginning
A/N: The world of Harry Potter belongs to JKR. A million thanks to Sarah and Robert for beta reading this.
The whole school looked in stunned disbelief at theirs headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, well at least the pureblooded students were. Students began talking at once and a buzzing slowly filled the Great Hall.
“Is this an April’s Fools joke, Professor?” Ron voiced his question from the Gryffindor table.
Albus Dumbledore hold up his hand and the talking ceased. “No, Mr. Weasley. I assure you, this is not a joke. As I was saying, Hogsmeade weekend has been cancelled and the school will hold an Outdoor Day, the Muggle style, come next Saturday, April 13th,” the headmaster continued, emphasizing on the word Muggle. “Every student will participate in this outing. We are going to have a BBQ picnic by the lake with some activities. A box will be put up in the Entrance Hall and you will suggest Muggle games and contests suitable for the event. I shall announce the games and contest during dinner tomorrow. I repeat, this is a Muggle event. There will be no magic allowed in the preparation of, during the activities, or cleaning up, either directly or indirectly. Now, I believe you have classes to attend to. Dismissed.”
“Come on Harry, we’ll be late for Transfiguration,” Ron said as he pulled Harry out of his seat.
“Uh-huh,” came the noncommittal reply as Harry pulled himself up from the chair and followed the rest of the students out of the Great Hall, not paying attention to what’s going around him. His eyes were still on Ginny. She was in front of him with a group of her friends.
Ron and Hermione looked at each other, rolling their eyes. Ever since Sirius fell through that veil, Harry had withdrawn from everyone. When they came back for their sixth year, Harry went to classes and Quidditch practice half-heartedly. He fulfilled the minimum requirements for his homework and never offered anything more, barely earning him a pass for every piece of his homework. However, lately he has opened up to Ginny and the two of them were often found together in the Room of Requirement, talking.
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Students that were Muggle born and half-and-half born were talking excitedly during dinner the next day. Colin and Dennis Creevey were telling their friends games that they played for the first 11 years of their life. Dinner was becoming more and more boisterous. Students were craning their neck to see whether the headmaster has finished his dinner at the High Table.
Professor Dumbledore stood up and the students fell silent, so silent that a pin dropped in the Great Hall could be heard. They looked at him expectantly. Dumbledore cleared his throat. “Ahem... I see that all of you are anxious to know the activities for Outdoor Day. The majority of you have voted for his and her three-legged race, sack race and swimming in the lake. There will also be a contest for Best Dressed Muggle Boy and Girl. You will vote for the Best Dressed Muggle Boy and Girl. I suggest starting finding your partner for the day. ”
At the head of Gryffindor table, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan let whoops of joy. “The Three-legged race and sack race would be fun,” Seamus told Lavender. Ron turned towards Hermione. “Will you be my partner for the day?” he asked her a little breathlessly. Hermione gave a smile before saying yes, she will.
Harry stared glumly at Ginny who was a few seats away and opposite from him. She was deep in conversation with Colin. Ron gave Hermione a wink and put on his best poker face. “Harry, how would you like getting into a sack with Ginny?”
Caught off guard, Harry blurted out “I’d like to get into a sack with her!”
Ginny looked up from her conversation. Her mouth had fallen open in its own accord. She stared at him as if he had lobsters crawling out of his ears. If Harry did not feel so nervous, he would have laughed outright at Ginny’s expression. “Did I heard correctly what you’ve just said, Harry?”
“Ye-yes,” he stammered out. “Willyoubemypartnerthatday?” The question was out of his mouth before he even realized it.
“Pardon?” Ginny was looking confused.
Harry took a deep breath. “Will you be my partner that day?” There, he has said it. There was no turning back. He waited expectantly for her answer.
Ginny pretended to be deep in thinking before slowly drawling out “Yes Harry, I’d love to.” The whole Gryffindor table erupted in cheers. In had been obvious to everyone but Harry that he fancied Ginny.
The next two weeks passed in a blurry of activities. The topics of conversation revolved around Outdoor Day, at least by the Muggle-born and half-and-half-born. There were those purebloods that were skeptical about the idea. Slytherins were openly against it. In fact, when Madam Malkin came with Muggle costumes for them to select, Draco Malfoy and his cronies, Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy Parkinson, and Theodore Nott pointedly ignored her. It was only when Dumbledore threatened 50 points from each of them that they relented and made selections. Not that they had any other choice; if Dumbledore were to take 50 point from each of them, they would lose 250 points. That would mean a big possibility that Gryffindor will win the House Cup. Professor Snape would hex them into next week for sure, no matter how much he favoured his own house.
Girls were seen giggling in groups of threes or fours, swapping stories of who their partner will be and what costume they purchased. It was as if everyone were back in Harry’s fourth year, the only difference is that both he and Ron had the love of their life as partners this time around.
When Madame Malkin arrived at Gryffindor, Harry finally settled on a pirate costume; a white long sleeved shirt, dark blue vest and pants complete with a bucking sword and black boots and belt while Ginny choose a white sailor outfit that came with a strip dark blue and whit tie, sailor cap and dark blue boots. Ron selected a handsome musketeer costume that look similar to Harry’s except for his brown pants and his hat had a feather sticking out of it. Hermione choose a pale yellow 18th century dress.
As they were walking back to common room, Ron whispered to Harry “I’d sure like to see Hermione in that outfit, wouldn’t you?”
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Apri l 13th dawned sunny. The weather was unusually nice and sunny for early spring. Dumbledore had cancelled classes on Friday before Outdoor Day. Gryffindors and Ravenclaws had been given the task of setting up the lawn, and that included setting picnic chairs and tables and barbeque grill sets, without magic, around the lake while Slytherins and Hufflepuffs had to help in the kitchens, marinating ingredients, baking cakes and cookies and preparing juices for Outdoor Day.
“Oi, Potter, are you ready yet? You’ve been in the bathroom over an hour. What are you doing? Getting ready for a ball? It’s just a normal picnic,” Ron hollered from the dormitory.
“Fine, fine, I’m coming,” Harry yelled back irritably.
“About time, Harry. Do you realize that Hermione and Ginny could be waiting in the common room for us?”
Harry followed Ron down to the common room and slumped into the comfortable chair. Dean, Seamus, Parvati, Lavender, and Neville were just leaving the portrait hole. Both swung around when they heard footsteps coming from girl’s dormitory.
Harry was struck speechless. Ginny was wearing her sailor outfit, the skirt not quite reaching her knee. It filled all her curves nicely. She had applied a bit of make up and done something to her hair, too. Soft, wavy curls framed her heart shaped face. She smiled at him and went down to him, kissing him lightly at the cheeks when she reached him at the bottom of the stairs.
“Ginny, you look lovely today.”
“Thanks, Harry. You look very handsome, too. But take a look at Ron,” Ginny whispered in his ear. Turning, he looked at his best friend. Ron was wore the same expression that Harry had several moments earlier.
Hermione wore her pale yellow dress, and, like Ginny, she had applied a bit of make up. Her bushy hair had been tamed by applying liberal amount of Sleekeasy’s Hair Potion, so that it fell over her shoulders when she leaned over to kiss Ron.
By the time they reached the lake, most of the students were already there. Students were everywhere. Some were sitting by the lake while some were sitting at the picnic chairs provided. Most of them had started eating, not the BBQ but cakes and cookies. Most of the purebloods were having difficulty lighting up their grills. Harry laughed at the sight of Malfoy jumping in surprise when he lit his matches.
Spotting a group of Gryffindors, they went over to Neville and Luna who were by one of the BBQ grills, trying to light it.
“Let me help you, Neville,” Hermione, who has experience with BBQ grilling, offered her help. The rest pitched in to help though they know next to nothing of BBQ grilling. Harry, Hermione and Ginny tried to light the charcoal. Soon, they were grilling chicken wings, sausages and potatoes in their skin.
“Care for some chicken wings, Hermione? I grilled them. Try some with the futon. It’s delicious.” Ron offered.
Hermione looked at her boyfriend, confused. “Futon?”
“That pot of cheese and chocolate over there,” Ron pointed.
“Oh Ron, that’s fondue, not futon.” Hermione started to laugh helplessly.
“Futon, fondue, what’s the difference? So, are you going to sample my chicken wing?”
Ginny watched in amazement as Hermione finished the plate of chicken wings that Ron grilled for her. Ron had never cooked before! “Harry, look,” said Ginny, pointing towards Ron and Hermione.
“She really ate all that?!” Harry was surprised. “But, Ron doesn’t even know how to cook!”
“I guess that’s why they say love does funny things to people,” Ginny replied.
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H arry, Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindors cheered Ron and Hermione on as they participated in the sack race. Both were red faced and a little out of breath when they finished.
“Come on Harry. The three legged race is next.” Ginny pulled Harry out of his seat. “Just do it. You’re not going to hurt me,” she yelled when Harry hesitated to tie the rope between their legs.
Bang! They were off. Ron, Hermione, and all the Gryffindors cheered Harry and Ginny. “Look at Harry! Quidditch playing is definitely doing him some good,” Ron yelled. It was a tight race between Harry/Ginny and Malfoy/Parkinson but Harry and Ginny won the race at the last possible moment. Both collapsed on the ground, laughing, out of breath and giddy with joy.
The next event was swimming in the lake. Ron whispered “Mental” as Justin, Colin, Dean, Ernie, and Terry took off.
The day was fast approaching the end but there was one more event. Dumbledore cleared his throat. “Ahem… ladies and gentlemen. As you are aware, we still have the results of Best Dressed Muggle Boy and Girl Competition. The Best Dressed Muggle Boy vote goes to Harry Potter and the Best Dressed Muggle Girl goes to Ginny Weasley!” The Gryffindors cheered, laughing at the happy but astonished look that both Harry and Ginny wore.
All too soon, they had to clean up the place. Chairs and tables were returned to their original positions and the grill sets were cleaned and put aside, waiting to be returned to the Muggle rental shop they came from.
“I’ve never seen Harry so happy, not since Sirius-,” Hermione paused, a tear welling up in her eye as she remembered only too well how Harry was after the events in the Department of Mysteries.
“Hush, love. Harry deserves it. He had precious little to celebrate in his life. This will be a new beginning for him,” Ron consoled her as they walked back together to the castle.