“Oh no, what it means to hold you tight,
Being here alone tonight, with you
It feels so right…”
It was late when Harry arrived at The Burrow with Mr. Weasley, and he was surprised to find Ginny sitting at the kitchen table when they walked through the back door. She had her feet up on the chair next to her as she flipped idly through The Evening Prophet. She glanced up when they entered, but did not seem surprised at all.
“Hey Harry.” She called cheerily, “Hi dad.”
Harry smiled. He loved it when she said his name and seeing here there in pink and white stripped pajamas, her red hair flowing like a mane of fire down her back made him gulp. It took Harry a moment to remember that her father was standing beside him and he did his best to clear his mind of thoughts that were best not contemplated around a girl’s father.
“You’re up late.” Harry heard Mr. Weasley say as he crossed the room and kissed his only daughter on the top of the head.
“Couldn’t sleep.” She replied with a shrug, “Though some tea would help.”
Mr. Weasley glanced over at the stove, “A cup of tea would be lovely.” He said grinning as he crossed to the now whistling pot, “Harry would you like a cup?”
“Yes sir.” Harry replied as he crossed the kitchen to retrieve three mugs from the cabinet above the sink.
It was still hard for him to believe that he had been coming to The Burrow now for five years, and nothing had changed. The large scrubbed wood table still sat in the middle of the long rectangular room, the embroidered mitts still hung about the oven and the tea cups were still neatly stacked in the cupboard over the sink. It comforted Harry to know that even though what he was feeling inside had changed, the Weasley house would always be the same.
As Harry carried the three mugs to the table Mr. Weasley added the proper amount of tea and hot water into one of his wife’s decorative pots, covered it with a brightly knit cozy, and carried it to the table. The sat chatting idly as they waited for the tea to steep, and once it was ready Mr. Weasley poured himself a cup and announced that he would take his tea in bed. Good nights were exchanged, and a moment later Harry found himself alone in the kitchen with Ginny and her pink and white stripped pajamas.
There had been a time when Ginny would have turned bright red and ran away at even the thought of being alone with Harry, but those days were long gone and she found herself enjoying the way his adam’s apple bobbed in his throat every time he looked at her. She had noticed the change in his reactions toward her near the end of term, and had wondered if it would be the same when they saw each other again. It pleased her that it was.
Intentionally stretching so that her pajama top lifted and clung to her chest she let out a long yawn.
“I’m beat.” She announced as she sipped her tea.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed his voice slightly horse, “It’s been a long day.”
Ginny sipped her tea and smiled to herself. When she was younger she used to dream about the day Harry Potter would notice her as more than his best friends little sister and it seem as though that day had finally come.
That night Harry tossed and turned as his dreams swirled around him. In them he saw Ginny in her pink and white pajama’s walking towards him, he felt his checks flush as she swept her hair over her shoulder. Then suddenly her flaming hair turned into wild brown curls, her dark brown eyes changed to tawny, and suddenly it was Hermione walking towards him, her hand trailing down the row of buttons that held her shirt closed. Back and forth they switched till Harry had to close his eyes to keep from being sick. In the background Harry saw Ron, and it didn’t matter whether it was Ginny or Hermione walking towards him his best friend’s face did not change. It was the fury of Ron’s glare that woke Harry and had him reaching for his glasses in the dark room.
When the room snapped into focus Harry was relieved to find himself on the familiar camp bed in on the fourth floor of The Borrow. Across the room Ron snored quietly wrapped up in his own dreams. Harry tip toed to the window as quietly as possible. The first rays of the sun were just starting to show over the horizon, and though he had only crawled into bed a few hours before, Harry knew there would be no more sleep for him that night. He dressed quietly, and trainers in hand snuck out of the room.
The clock in the kitchen chimed five o’clock as Harry laced up his shoes and stepped out the backdoor. The garden glistened with dew and the sky shone a pearly pre-dawn gray as Harry set off across the yard. Behind the garage Harry was surprised to find Mrs. Weasley humming to herself as she threw handfuls of corn and grain to the chickens.
“Good morning Harry.” She greeted him cheerfully when she had finished her task. “I hadn’t expected to see you up so early, it was after one by the time you and Arthur got in last night."
Dropping the bucket she wrapped her arms around him.
“I couldn’t sleep.” Harry admitted as he breathed in the scent of what he thought of as his adopted mother, “It’s good to see you.”
Mrs. Weasley flushed slightly and dropped a quick kiss on the top of his head. As far as Molly was concerned Harry was as much one of her boys as any of the gingers running about and she was glad he felt the same.
“Come on now.” She said releasing him, “I was just about to make a cup of tea. I doubt anyone will be up for a while yet so you can catch me up on what you’ve been up to these past few weeks.”
Harry smiled and followed. There would be no news to report about the few weeks he had been stranded at the Dursley’s, but a cup of tea in the cozy Weasley kitchen seemed just the way to start his day.
The sun was high in the sky by the time the rest of the Weasley’s made their way down into the kitchen and Harry was already full from the biscuits and fruit Mrs. Weasley had given him.
Harry laughed as Ron sat beside him trying to tame his wild red hair that was insisting on sticking out in all directions. Across from him Hermione grinned into her cereal bowl. Between bites Harry noticed her playing with the end of the thick braid she had thrown over her shoulder.
As the Weasley’s wandered in and out of the kitchen Harry realized just how much everyone had changed over the past few years. Mrs. Weasley was still as cheerful as ever, but a few more worry lines showed around her eyes. Mr. Weasley had lost a few pounds and his hair had thinned a bit more. Ron had passed the six foot mark a few months before and had reached the awkward, gangly stage of boys in their mid teens. But it was Hermione and Ginny who had changed the most. Harry sat back in his chair, and in his mind he watched the progression that had both made from childhood into young women, and was astounded.
He found himself comparing them in his mind, Ginny had grown tall and slender, the top of her head nearly past Ron’s shoulder. Her red hair flowed down her back in a long silky fall ending nearly at her bottom. Hermione on the other hand had remained slender, but the top of her head barely reached Harry’s chin. Her thick brown hair was most often bound in a tight braid, but Harry had seen it loose and wild and knew that it was nearly to her waist.
When Ginny stepped around the table and sat down beside Hermione Harry found himself trying not to gape at the two young women before him. They were both pretty in their own way, but when Ginny looked up and winked at him, Harry felt his heart jump into his throat and was forced to excuse himself.
The rest of the week passed quickly as the Weasley clan, plus Harry and Hermione, wandered around taking care of chores and gathering their things for the upcoming return to Hogwarts. When the sun rose on September first The Burrow was it thrown into its’ usual state of chaos as the five students rushed around locating lost text books and missing socks, and by eight o’clock they were all piled into the black sedan the Ministry had provided and on their way to Kings Cross Station.
Harry leaned back against the seat and stared out the window watching the English country side fly by in a blur of green and blue. Across from him Ron stared silently at his shoes and beside him Hermione sat, her knees pressed tightly together, her hands folded in her lap. It had been like that for nearly an hour now and Harry began to wonder if the feeling of tension was real rather than in his head.
He never had a change to ponder the question further because just then the door to their compartment flew open and Ginny entered in a whirl of bad temper and flying hair.
“And remember that the next time you decide to pick on someone smaller then you!” She shouted before slamming the door shut.
Harry, Ron and Hermione all jumped and stared at Ginny in shock as she threw herself on the bench beside Harry.
“Should we even ask?” Ron said eyeing his sister.
“No.” Ginny snapped, then tucked a leg beneath her and turned to Harry. “Mum said to give you this, you left it in the car.”
She told him as she pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from her pocket.
“Thanks.” Harry mumbled as he tried to flatten the paper.
Once it was flat enough to read Harry let out a sigh of relief, it was his class schedule, one he had feared he had lost in all the chaos.
“No problem.” Ginny replied settling back into the seat, “So what were you lot up to?”
“Nothing.” Hermione said quietly.
“Hmm,” was Ginny’s response, “It’s almost lunch time.” She said absently, but Harry saw her catch Hermione’s eye.
“She’s right.” Hermione said, standing up suddenly, “Come one Ron, let go see if we can find the trolley. I’m starved.”
Ron glanced back and forth between Harry and his sister, and realizing something was going on, left without argument.
Once they were alone Harry found himself fidgeting. He had never been nervous around Ginny before, then again, he had never thought of her as anything more than his best friend’s little sister.
“Harry,” She nearly whispered, “I know.”
Harry jolted, she knew? She knew what? About the dreams he had been having all week? That was impossible.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t notice the way you look at me?” Ginny asked as she turned to face him.
Harry stiffened, had he really been that obvious? “It’s all right though, because I’ve been looking at you too.” She confessed boldy.
Harry felt his face begin to color and resisted the urge to look out the window. It was wrong. He shouldn’t feel this way about her. She was his best friend’s sister and completely off limits! Yet here she was, telling him that she felt the same way. Hands clenched tightly in his lap Harry turned to face her.
“So now what?” he asked nervously. Ginny grinned,
“That’s up to you.” She said quietly and leaned forward, “But I’d really like to kiss you right now.”
Harry gulped. Never, even in his dreams, had he thought that this moment would come. Trembling slightly he leaned forward and met her lips. Just then the door slid open yet again.
“Have you seen… oh!” Neville gasped when he saw what he was interrupting. “Never mind. I’ll… I’ll just… go…” he stuttered, then quickly closed the door disappearing from view.
Outside the carriage Neville Longbottom leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, but the image of Ginny with her lips pressed against Harry’s refused to fade. With a sigh he pushed himself off the wall and continued his hunt for his missing toad, Trevor.
Ten minutes later Ron and Hermione returned to the carriage laden down with sweets from the trolley. Ginny winked at Hermione as she snagged a Chocolate Frog from her pile. Ron, oblivious to what was going on, sat in his corner chewing on a Cauldron Cake. He was trying to figure out why Harry and his sister seemed to be sitting much closer together then they had been when he had left, and when Ginny reached over and took Harry’s hand Ron nearly choked.
“What’s going on here?” He asked spraying Harry with bits of the cake that was still in his mouth.
Ginny shot her brother a dark look, “None of your business.” She told him, her eyebrows furrowed.
“I’m sitting here watching my little sister holding my best friends hand! It damn well is my business!” Ron all but roared.
Harry could feel his face burning, but still felt the need to explain himself to his obviously confused and upset best friend.
“Umm,” he mumbled, “We’re sort of, well not really, but…” Harry glanced at Ginny unsure of what they were doing, exactly.
“We’re dating.” She said simply.
Harry held his breath as he watched the colors wash over Ron’s face. In rapid succession he had gone from his usual pale, to bright red, to nearly purple, and then past pale to sheet white. Silently they waited for him to speak.
“Well, I, er…” Ron mumbled, at a lost for words. “I guess it’s ok… since there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Of course there’s nothing you can do about it you dunderhead!” Ginny yelled at her brother, “It’s not your business!” she shouted as she threw the empty chocolate frog box at him.
Ron grumbled in his corner, but said nothing. It was nearly a half hour before anyone spoke again, and it was Hermione who broke the silence.
“Another hour or so till we get to Hogwarts.” She said more to herself than anyone else.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed, “It looks like this might be the first time since first year that we’ve all made it to the welcome feast on time.”
Ron laughed, he was still annoyed about the concept of Harry and Ginny dating, but since he couldn’t do anything about it he decided to drop it, for now.
“Ol’ Snape will be in shock when we walk in with the rest of the class.” He said with a smirk.
That was enough to break the ice. They spent the rest of the ride discussing their new classes, griping about old teachers and wondering who was going to be the new captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
It was dusk when the train pulled into Hogsmead station. Drowsy, after a long day of travel, the students gathered their things and climbed down onto the platform. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny had just started walking down the dirt road towards the thestrial drawn carriages when they heard a quiet voice call out to them.
“Hello Harry.” Luna Lovegood said in her high ethereal voice, “Ron, Hermione, Ginny, how are you?”
Harry smiled, there was just something about Luna that made you want to grin.
“I’m good.” He told her, “How was you’re summer?”
“Absolutely wonderful!” she squeaked, “Father and I located the trail of Hook-toothed Snargle and actually found its nest up in the mountains.”
Harry grinned knowing that they would be well entertained on the often dull ride up to the castle.
“We found signs of a whole tribe of Snargle’s but we had to come back so father could get me to King’s Cross in time for school.” Luna finished just as the carriages came to a stop in front of the castle.
“Well it sounds like you had a very interesting summer Luna.” Hermione commented as she tossed her travel bag over her shoulder.
“I did, thank you.” Luna replied, then jumped down from the carriage and skipped away.
“Mad as a hatter.” Harry heard Ron whisper as they watched her go. “But she tells a good story.”
Harry laughed as they began to walk towards the castle.
“She really should write them down. I bet they would sell… as fiction of course.” He qualified.
As they climbed the stone steps to the castle Ginny came up beside Harry and took his hand. He smiled, but found himself sucking in a breath as they entered the Great Hall. It was noisy and crowded as usual, and no one seemed to notice the two Gryffindors holding hands as they made their way to the center of their table. But when they sat Harry and saw Neville staring down at his empty plate he got the feeling that at least one person had noticed. It shouldn’t have bothered him, there were a lot of boys who would like to date Ginny, but there was something about the sad look on Neville’s face that made Harry feel a sudden pang of guilt as they took their seats.
As the feast began they all sat quietly watching as the first years were sorted and cheering appropriately when a new students joined their house. They listened when Dumbledore gave his start of term speech with the usual warning about dark times ahead and how they needed to band together. And when the food appeared on their tables they automatically filled their plates, but it was obvious that small band of friends’ thoughts were elsewhere.
That night as they changed for bed Harry asked Ron the question he had been dreading all day.
“Ron,” Harry said hesitatingly, “are you really all right with me dating Ginny.”
There was a moment of silence before he answered.
“I’ve been thinking about that all afternoon, and I figure there are a lot of boys who would want to date my sister, but at least she’s with one I know I can trust.”
Leaving it at that Ron crawled into his bed and drew his curtain,
“Good night Harry.” He said as his light went out.
“Good night Ron.” Harry replied, feeling much better about the whole situation as he crawled under the blankets and drew his own curtains.
That night Harry dreamed again. He was sitting beneath a tree near the Black Lake kissing Ginny. She giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck. He felt his fingers slide through her silky hair, but halfway down his fingers were stopped by thick curls. The shape of the lips pressed against his changed and he opened his eyes to find that Ginny was no longer in his arms, instead he held Hermione.
Harry groaned in his sleep and the dream changed. Now he was on his broom flying high above the Quidditch pitch. Ginny flew beside him, calling to him,
“Don’t let me go Harry, Don’t let me go.”
Behind him Harry could hear Ron shouting to him, “You better not hurt her Harry. You’re my friend but she’s my sister. You better not hurt her.”
There was a flash of gold and Harry took off chasing the Snitch, but instead of staying in their positions Ginny and Ron followed him.
They’re voices taunted him as he neared the stands and saw Hermione sitting alone, decked out in Gryffindor colors cheering for him. As he flew towards her he heard a girls cry echo across the pitch.
Harry woke in a tangle of sheets and blankets, his face covered with sweat. Shoving he glasses onto his face he glanced at his watch. It was nearly an hour before he had to get up for class, but Harry couldn’t bring himself to lay there and try and figure out what the dreams meant. Grabbing his uniform from the foot of the bed Harry made his way to the showers, twenty minutes later he entered the common room, shoes in hand.
It was quiet and dark except for one flickering light near the fireplace. Harry walked over and was surprised to find Neville sitting in the near dark, fully dressed, his toad Trevor sleeping in his lap. Harry knew he should talk to Neville, knew that he should straighten things out before they got out of control. But after a restless night filled with confusing dreams Harry knew that it was not the time to take care of this issue, and with that he slipped out the door stopping to put his shoes on his the drafty hallway.
Harry wandered the grounds alone, trying to keep his mind blank, until he knew that the Great Hall would be full and there would be no chance for his friends to question him about his early start. He received a few questioning looks when he took his seat but there was barely time to choke down a few slices of toast and jam before the bell rang for first period.
The rest of the day flew by. Harry’s schedule was full this term and he raced from class to class leaving no time for questions or explanations. At lunch he wolfed down a cold meat pie and gave Ginny a quick kiss before disappearing to get his books for his next class. By the time the final bell rang Harry was utterly exhausted. He ate dinner in near silence, finished as many of his assignments as he could, and when he finally crawled into bed that night Harry quickly drifted into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Fall passed in a blur of colored leaves and pop quizzes and Harry was surprised to wake up one morning to snow covered grounds, until he realized it was nearly mid November. Harry ran through the term in his mind as he dressed for the day. Where had the fall gone? He wondered absently.
Ginny was waiting for him in the common room and when he kissed her hello she echoed his thoughts.
“Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas break?” she asked as she ducked under his arm. “You are coming to The Burrow for the holidays right?”
Harry shrugged. “I haven’t received an invitation from your mum yet, but I’m assuming so.”
Ginny laughed, “Harry do you really think you need an invitation anymore?”
“It is polite.” He told her as he dropped a kiss on the top of her head, “Not that you’d know anything about that.” He teased.
“I can be polite when I want.” She told him, tilting her head upward. “My I please have a kiss.” She said with a giggle.
“Well since you asked so nicely.” Harry told her with a wink.
When he looked up again Harry saw Neville’s back as he quickly walked out the door. Crap. Harry thought to himself.
It had been months and he still hadn’t managed to talk to Neville about his relationship with Ginny. At some point Harry’s mind had simply decided that if they didn’t talk about it, it would just go away. But watching Neville’s retreating back, Harry knew that he had been wrong.
A/N: Lyrics from Hold Me Tight by The Beatles
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