Chapter 2 : A New Friendship
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Ginny awoke slowly, her eyes blinking open and then falling shut again as she rolled onto her side. Breathing deeply she burrowed farther under the covers for a second before her eyes snapped back open.
Stiffening, she stared at the wall in front of her as her mind ran over the previous day’s events. With a groan, she rolled onto her back and covered her eyes, praying it had all been a strange and horrible dream.
Finally throwing back the covers she climbed from her bed and made her way down the hall to the loo.
Harry’s toothbrush on the sink assured her that it was real and as an afterthought she locked the door. With a sigh she slipped out of her pajamas and stepped into the shower.
She was dressed and ready in no time and soon stood alone in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee.
After a few seconds, her eyes were inevitably drawn to the doorway and then the clock. She hadn’t heard anything from Harry yet and if he didn’t hurry up she would be late for work. Her irritation rose as she watched the seconds tick by, beginning to wonder if she needed to go wake him up.
Finally she pushed off the counter and headed down the hall, muttering under her breath as she went.
He throws my life into chaos, and then he doesn’t even have the decency to at least try to make my day go smoothly…obviously a friend of Ron’s…bloody Aurors…
Knocking softly on his door, she paused and waited to hear a response. When she didn’t get a reply, she pushed it open, only to stop and stare.
Harry was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed. His back was to her as he faced the window with his hands resting lightly on his knees. He’d yet to finish dressing and his shirt lay on the floor beside him. Unable to help herself, her eyes ran automatically over his smooth, tan back and toned muscles before coming to rest on a tattoo of a dog.
Situated in the small of his back Ginny watched as it seemed to wag its tail at her arrival and then got up and ran in a circle. Finally sitting down again, the image transformed into the word “Padfoot” before turning back into a dog.
Determined to hang onto her irritation Ginny dragged her eyes away and stomped over until she was standing in front of him, blocking the light that had been shining on him through the window. Her eyes narrowed and her annoyance mounted when the front was even more beautiful than the back.
Bloody Aurors, she thought crossing her arms over her chest.
Opening his eyes suddenly, Harry watched as she huffed and shifted her weight from one foot to the other causing the sunlight to turn her hair to fire.
“Are you planning on getting ready anytime soon?”
Dragging his eyes back to her face, he watched her lips as she spoke.
“I’m going to be late, if you hadn’t noticed…What are you doing anyway?” she added when he didn’t respond.
“Centering,” he replied simply as he grabbed his shirt from beside him.
Pulling it quickly over his head, he pushed off from the floor and stood up.
As he covered his body, Ginny felt an unexpected twinge of disappointment.
“Centering?” she asked, reminding herself that she was annoyed with him, not attracted to him.
“Yeah,” Harry replied simply, crossing the room to put on his shoes. “By the way,” he threw over his shoulder. “I showered and ate before you woke up. We can go whenever you’re ready.”
As he left her standing in his room, he couldn’t help smirking. She’d obviously thought he’d been asleep.
Harry accompanied Ginny to work, following her through the halls of St. Mungo’s as she started her day.
Trying to give her room and make her feel as comfortable as possible, he hung back, lounging against the wall when she stopped at the desk to pick up a file.
He watched with interest from his post as she talked to one of the nurses. Her elderly colleague had obviously been told about the arrangement because, while she glanced at Harry curiously, she didn’t ask any questions.
Finishing her brief conversation, Ginny continued down the hall and Harry fell into step a few feet behind her.
For several moments they walked in silence, Harry’s eyes drawn instinctively to her hair. Having pulled it up into a pony, it swung back and forth as she walked, causing gold highlights to shimmer through it.
“You’re a little creepy…you know that, right?” she asked suddenly, glancing over her shoulder.
Harry’s lip twitched as he sped up so that he was walking with her instead of behind.
“People will think you’re a stalker or something,” she mused with a slight smirk, “and one is more than enough don’t you think?”
When he didn't respond she looked up at him to find him watching her. His eyes were intense and she dragged her gaze away, her heart fluttering as they approached a row of curtained off exam areas. Some were open and empty while others were closed with muffled voices coming from the other side.
Ginny came to a stop in front of one of the closed curtains and looked down at her chart, quickly skimming the notes. After a few seconds, she looked up and pulled the curtain open to reveal an exam room.
Stepping inside, she started to pull it shut again when Harry caught it with his hand. Startled, she looked up, meeting his gaze as he shook his head.
“Nothing’s going to happen,” she said, leaning in as her eyes narrowed.
Harry mirrored her movement, leaning in until their faces were inches apart.
“Leave it open.”
“Haven’t you ever heard of the concept of privacy?” she demanded, trying to keep her voice low. “Patient confidentiality?”
“Put up a silencing charm if you want,” he suggested, “but you’re staying where I can see you.”
“Nothing’s going to happen,” she insisted in frustration.
He held the curtain firmly in place as she tried to yank it closed and she huffed when he cocked his eyebrow at her and mouthed, “open.”
“Fine,” she hissed. “I’ll leave it open a little, ok?”
Harry paused for a second, as if trying to decide if she was lying before he let go and stepped back.
Ginny glared at him as she pulled the curtain almost closed.
Turning back toward the bed, it occurred to her that it would be much easier to truly be angry if he wasn’t trying to protect her…and if he wasn’t so attractive.
Shaking her head at her thoughts, she walked to the bed where a little girl was sitting in-between her parents. It wouldn’t have been strange except that the little girl was purple and her parents were trying to get her to stop crying.
Harry leaned against the wall and watched Ginny approach the bed through the opening. Pulling a hat out of his back pocket he dragged it down over his hair, covering his scar.
“Hi, Sweetheart,” Ginny said, crouching down in front of the girl. “What happened to you today?” she asked gently.
Instead of responding, the girl simply buried her head into her dad’s shoulder, clutching the doll she was holding tighter as she cried.
“We think she got into the potion cupboard,” the girl’s father explained, “but she won’t say what she tasted.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Ginny assured him with a smile as she stood up. “Can I speak to you for a minute over here?”
Harry watched from his place on the wall as Ginny spoke softly to the parents. After a minute the couple came toward him, disappearing down the hall in the direction of the nurse’s station. His eyes went back to Ginny as she walked back to the bed and sat down beside the girl.
“Anna, do you want to tell me what you drank?” Ginny asked in a soft voice causing the little girl to shake her head. “Do you know the name of what you drank?” she asked and Anna shook her head again with a sniffle. “Ok, well, do you mind if I take a look at you?” she asked.
Anna paused before shaking her head and clutching her doll closer.
Ginny put her hand on her forehead and had her stick out her tongue. Talking softly to her as she continued to examine her, soon the girl’s tears began to slow.
“Alright, Anna,” Ginny began as she finished her examination. “I’m going to fix you something to drink that will have you back to normal in no time, ok?” Ginny asked, smiling and standing up.
When Anna shook her head quickly and her lip started to tremble, Ginny kneeled back down in front of her and looked up into her eyes.
“What’s wrong, Sweetie?”
“I don’t wanna drink…anything…else,” the girl told her as she began to cry again.
“But this is going to make you all better,” Ginny soothed, stroking her hair. Looking down she noticed the doll the little girl was clinging to. “Who’s your friend?” she asked, pointing to the doll.
Sniffling, Anna held the figure out for Ginny to see and gave a wobbly smile.
“Harry Potter,” she said. “My brother gave him to me.”
Taking the doll, Ginny stared down at it in surprise. It wasn’t a very good likeness, but it had his signature black hair and scar, and Ginny suddenly laughed.
“Do you like Harry Potter?” she asked with a smile as she handed the doll back to Anna.
“He’s my favorite,” Anna nodded quickly, wiping the tears from her eyes and taking the doll back. “He’s a superhero!”
“A superhero, huh?”
Anna nodded as Ginny’s grin widened.
“Anna, can you wait here for just a second? I’m going to get someone to sit with you, ok? I’m going to be just outside and back in two seconds. Can you sit here and be a good girl?”
When Anna nodded, Ginny got up and walked away from the bed, her eyes fixing on Harry. Slipping through the curtain, she crossed the hall and came to a stop in front of him.
“What?” he asked, a little thrown by her expression.
“I need you to do something for me,” she smiled sweetly and he narrowed his eyes instinctively.
“What?” he repeated when she pulled off his hat off and handed it to him.
His hair was messier than normal and Ginny made a face as she tried to pat it down into some semblance of control.
“That’s not going to work,” he murmured, fighting a smile as she ran her fingers through his hair.
Meeting his gaze, she quickly pulled her hand away and gave up. Instead, she bit her lip and reached out, lacing her fingers through his.
Harry looked down at their clasped hands as she pulled him off of the wall, leading him back through the curtain and towards the bed.
“Anna, I have someone who wants to meet you,” Ginny said when the little girl looked up, her eyes going automatically to Harry. “This is Harry Potter, Anna. He’s going to sit with you for a minute, ok? Harry, this is Anna, she’s a big fan of yours,” Ginny said.
Confused, Harry glanced over at her before looking back at the little girl, whose purple face had lit up, her eyes wide as saucers.
“Um, hi,” he greeted her awkwardly, his eyes darting back at Ginny for guidance.
Instead of helping, however, she simply turned him and pushed him down onto the bed to sit.
“I’ll be right back,” she announced before turning and heading to a potion cupboard set up along the far wall.
As Ginny walked away, Harry’s eyes followed, his hand feeling oddly empty now that hers wasn’t in it. Flexing his fingers absently, he turned his eyes back to Anna. She was staring up at him in awe, her purple face glowing.
“Are you really Harry Potter?”
When Ginny turned back to the bed a few minutes later she paused, watching from across the room. Anna had moved to her knees and had her hands on Harry’s face as she traced his scar with her finger.
Harry was chuckling at something Anna was saying to him and he glanced up at Ginny as she approached, his eyes dancing.
Anna looked over, saw the steaming cup Ginny was holding and immediately scrambled behind Harry. Clutching his arm she poked her head over his shoulder just high enough to keep her eyes on Ginny who was now officially the enemy.
While Ginny sat down on the bed, Harry twisted around, catching Anna and pulling her onto his lap.
It only took a few encouraging words from him before she was sipping the drink gingerly, her chin wobbling for the first few sips before the purple began to fade.
“See, it’s not so bad is it?” he asked, smiling at her as she shook her head.
Glancing up at Ginny, he found her watching him and she broke into a smile when their eyes met.
“Mummy, Daddy look! Harry Potter’s here!” Anna yelled suddenly as her parents walked back into the room carrying an ice cream cone.
They stopped up short, seeing their daughter sitting on the lap of the most famous wizard in the world.
Harry continued to follow Ginny around the hospital each day, watching her deal with pediatric injuries and illnesses. It was his job to watch her, and Harry was finding it to be a simple task, simply because he couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of her.
It was easy to see she was great at her job, finding a way to comfort each child in an individual way. No matter the issue, whether it was a swallowed potion, broken bones or more complicated spell practice or a prank gone wrong, she always managed to discover a quick solution to their problem.
Despite Ginny’s initial irritation at his presence, they quickly grew comfortable with each other as they began to talk and joke – and argue, of course, as they moved through her rounds.
As the days slowly ticked by, Harry only became more and more fascinated with her. He’d never felt so at ease with a woman so quickly. They were able to talk like they were old friends and their arguments were even more intriguing.
She usually won their debates, mostly because about halfway through Harry would get too distracted to argue back.
He truly did try to focus, but her determination was amazing. No matter how hard he tried to make his point, she was just so passionate when she spoke that he’d lose track of his reasoning. The way she looked, along with the fire he saw in her eyes, kept drawing him in and forcing him to forget his original point. To Harry’s dismay, he too often found himself surrendering to her side of the issue.
Most of the time, he didn’t even care. He found he loved to watch her as she talked. The way her cheeks became flushed and she flicked her hair, her wrist gesturing elegantly through the air as she made a point.
It was always about the time he got stuck on the movement of her lips that she would bring him back to the moment with a smack on the shoulder or a shout of his name.
Tonight when she called his name, he snapped out of it with a blink and a shake of his head, his gaze moving back up to her eyes to find her glaring at him in exasperation.
“Sorry…what?” he asked sheepishly, wondering how many times she’d said his name before he noticed.
“I said, we had meat last time, so vegetable is something different,” she repeated crossing her arms. “If you don’t care then why are we arguing?”
Grinning slightly, he moved to pick up his drink from beside her on the counter. “Because…you like to argue,” he said looking over at her before heading out of the kitchen.
“I do not!” Ginny declared, grabbing her drink and following him.
“Yes you do.”
“No, I don’t, Harry!”
“Yes, Ginny… you do.”
Harry spun around and put a finger on her lips, cutting her off.
“At the moment you’re arguing with me about arguing. Let’s just let me win this one, ok?”
Ginny nodded her agreement vaguely. At any other time she probably would have argued with him, but at the moment she couldn’t remember what they were talking about.
Her mind was fixated on his finger as he lowered it, trailing it down her bottom lip before leaving her to go order her vegetable pizza.
Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared at his back as he left the room. She wasn’t sure what irritated her more, the fact that she’d let him win the argument or that one touch from him had turned her into complete mush.
Harry shook himself as he walked away, trying to figure out why he was so affected by such little contact - the softness of her lips, the warmth of her breath on his skin...
It made him nervous that she had such an effect on him and he frowned…not sure how he could seem to be falling for someone so quickly.
I haven’t fallen for her, he tried to correct himself. I’m just…she’s just…shite…
Raking his fingers through his hair he quickly turned off his thoughts.
With her eyes closed, Ginny stood in the shower, the hot water trailing over her. As she rinsed the last of the shampoo from her hair, she couldn’t help thinking about the last several days.
Harry had been staying with her for a little over a week already, and it had been far from what she expected.
After she’d been forced to take him as a house guest, she never thought she’d actually enjoy having him around. In a very short time, however, she’d found herself looking forward to seeing him each day across the breakfast table.
He’s just here to protect you, she reminded herself, shaking her head as she dipped under the water. Don’t get too used to him being here.
Since he’d begun “guarding” her nothing had happened that seemed at all out of the ordinary. There’d been no sign of Malfoy or anyone associated with him. Truthfully, Ginny had begun to doubt the seriousness of the situation, but she’d kept it mostly to herself. Taking away her protection would mean taking away Harry, and for some reason that seemed like a terrible idea.
Trying to push him from her thoughts, she finally climbed out of the shower, leisurely dried off and wrapped her towel around her.
Moving to stand in front of the sink, she wiped the steam off the mirror with her hand. As she stared at her reflection, her mind drifted rebelliously back to its newest favorite subject – Harry.
He’s brilliant...he’s attractive…funny…
Irritated that she couldn’t seem to stop thinking about him she looked down and grabbed her brush.
When she raised her eyes back to the mirror she found Draco standing behind her reflection. With a scream she spun around, brandishing her brush instinctively like a wand only to find the room empty.
“I love these moments together, Ginevra,” Malfoy’s voice said from behind her.
Spinning back toward the mirror Ginny found Draco smirking in the reflection. Screaming again she stumbled back from the sink, hitting the wall with a thud.
“I do hate when you put that towel on so quickly, though,” he added, his lips curling into a sneer as her hand flew to her chest, holding the terri-cloth tighter against her.
Draco laughed cruelly; his image fading away as the door of the bathroom suddenly burst open and Harry came barreling in, his wand drawn. Looking around, his posture relaxed just a touch when he found her alone and seemingly unharmed.
Ginny looked over at him, her chest heaving as she sagged against the wall. He had his jeans on but they were undone and he was barefoot and shirtless.
“What happened?” he demanded, taking her arm and pulling her off of the wall.
Ginny suddenly felt a little stupid, and more than a little uncomfortable that she was wearing only a towel and Harry was having to hold his jeans up with his hand. It was only a reflection after all.
”He…he was in the mirror,” she mumbled, feeling her face get hot.
Harry looked over at the mirror and pulled her behind him.
“Did he say anything?” he asked, as he examined it.
“Um…I love these moments together,” she said softly and Harry turned around after a second with a frown.
He saw her face and his own expression softened at her obvious fear.
“You’re fine, Ginny, right?” he said stepping closer to her. “He can’t get you from there, you’re fine,” he said softly, cupping her cheek with his hand.
She nodded, her skin tingling where he touched it and after a second he lowered his hand, letting his fingers trail down her cheek on the way down.
“I just…it just wasn’t really real before you know? Not really,” she murmured.
“Don’t get too attached, Potter,” a voice drawled from the mirror and Harry back spun around, shoving Ginny behind him. “She doesn’t belong to you.”
Harry raised his wand and shattered the mirror before grabbing a towel and throwing it over the frame.
“Call in sick, get dressed, we’re leaving,” he said, taking Ginny’s arm and dragging her down the hall to her room.
“Harry,” Ginny said, pulling against his grip as she held her towel in place. “Harry, stop!”
He swung around so abruptly that Ginny practically ran into him.
“I can walk,” she said irritably as she stepped back and adjusted the towel.
Harry wasn’t listening, having finally noticed what she was wearing – or not wearing really.
His eyes were glued to her body, just barely covered with the towel she was shifting. As his eyes traveled down over her smooth, pale legs and then back up, heat surged through him.
“What are you wearing?” he asked dumbly, the words escaping before he could think about it.
Ginny’s hand went to her hip, which wasn’t good because the shift of her body and the fabric caused the slit on her leg to lengthen and Harry’s mouth to go dry.
“I would think that was obvious, Harry,” she replied arching her brow as she passed him with the posture and air of an irate queen. “Maybe you should think about what you’re wearing.”
Harry watched her go before looking down at himself. He’d lost his hold on his jeans and they were around his ankles, leaving only his dark green boxers. Cursing under his breath he bent down and jerked them up before heading quickly to his room.
Once safely inside her room Ginny collapsed against the door, her heart pounding and her face hot. She was flushed and it wasn’t just because she was embarrassed or frightened.
Brilliant…just brilliant, she thought as she looked down at herself. Only I would develop a thing for my bodyguard…not to mention the most famous wizard in the world who could have whoever he wants…
Her thoughts dissolved as the image of his chest popped back into her mind, smooth and tan and toned and…
Pull it together Ginny, she shook herself. You’ve seen guys without shirts on…he’s not even that attractive.
She rolled her eyes at herself.
Ok, maybe he’s a little…or a lot…or extremely bloody attractive…
Forcing herself to stop the direction of her thoughts, she jerked away from her door and began throwing things into a bag.
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