Harry sat on the Dursleys’ front porch, bags scattered around him. Hedwig hooted sleepily in her cage, and the drone of bees added a pleasant touch to the August day. Of course, thought Harry, this would be a pleasant day even if it was pouring.
Dumbledore had finally granted Harry permission to spend the last month of vacation at the Burrow. He didn’t want to think about how many protection spells must be cast over the lopsided house, all to make sure he was safe.
Harry quickly pushed the thought from his mind and concentrated on the better things. He would soon be seeing his best friends again. The irrepressible twins would be sure to torment him, but Harry had to admit that he missed their pranks at the Dursleys’. Percy would be around, droning on like a larger copy of the fat bumblebees around him. Harry smiled to himself as he pictured Percy wiggling in an azalea.
Harry’s thoughts were banished as a large, bright pink van pulled up in front of Number Four Privet Drive. The side door slid open before the car had fully stopped. Ron jumped out, his hair clashing horribly with the car.
“Harry! Wow, did you hear the news?? The Chudley Cannons actually came in 49th in the nationals!!! They beat the Purple Pigeons by a hundred and fifty points!”
“Well, really, Ron, that was only because Samantha Swill, the Pigeon seeker, was injured and had to drop out,” Hermione interjected, following Ron up the Dursley’s neat walkway. Her hair was refreshingly bushy, and her tone bossier than ever as she scooped up two boxes and took them to the car. Ron followed her example, leaving Harry only Hedwig’s cage and the Firebolt to grab.
The inside of the van was so large Harry was surprised Mrs. Weasley hadn’t noticed. Fred and George greeting him with three different sweets shoved into his face. He carefully skirted them, giving the candy a wide berth.
Mr. Weasley leaned around the seat and grinned. “Got everything, Harry?”
Before he had a chance to answer, Ron shoved him toward the back seat. Harry paused briefly to take note of positions in the van.
In the front two seats were Mr. And Mrs. Weasley; Fred and George sat in the next row. Harry had the distinct feeling that their seats had not been there originally; something about the fact that the bright green and orange polka dot pattern on them differed from the sky blue of the rest.
In the next row were Ron and Hermione, bickering over the relative statistics of the Cannons and the Pigeons. Harry left them to their quarrel in peace; he hadn’t missed the way Ron’s arm rested over the back of the seat, or the way Hermione’s fingers rested on top of Ron’s.
Harry’s gaze went on to the last two seats. He froze in place, half-way between the two rows.
There, sitting alone on the bench, was the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. Her bright red hair flowed down over her shoulders in soft waves, contrasting strongly with the white shirt she wore. Her chocolate eyes were directed at him, her delicate hands nervously clutching at each other. She bit her lower lip with the edge of straight white teeth and glanced up at him in trepidation.
Harry had forgotten where he was until Ron spoke up into the silence which had fallen over the van.
“It’s okay, Harry, Ginny won’t mind sharing with you, do you, Ginny?”
Harry’s frozen mind shattered into a thousand pieces. Ginny? Ginny Weasley? This image of perfection that sat before him? Ron’s little sister?
The tiny fragments of his mind melted together into a mushy lump as she shook her head and spoke in a melodious voice.
“Oh no, that’s fine.”
It took more willpower than Harry knew he had to keep from physically collapsing at her feet. Instead he forced himself forward until he could actually land on something as he melted.
The first thought to enter his dizzy mind other than she is beautiful ^she is so beautiful^ was: