The only real problem Harry could see with the car ride the next day was that he was sitting in front with Ron, while Ginny sat in the back with Hermione. He knew full well, as much as they valued their close friendship, they were both wishing Hermione and Harry were in the opposite seats.
As things were, both Harry and Ron had to force themselves not to look around to the back too often. Ron even had to skew the mirror a bit just to make sure his attention remained on the road. Harry had shared a room with Ron the night before, and he spent half of the night listening as Ron talked and talked about Hermione. Harry certainly got the idea of what Ginny had meant about the summer with Ron.
Harry listened to some of it as Ron gushed on unable to stop himself, but more and more Harry found himself thinking about Ginny and the new feelings she was stirring within him. Harry didn’t know how long he would be able to keep it a secret, but to that point he hadn’t confessed anything, at least with words, to anyone.
It was nearly noon by the time Ron pulled the car onto the driveway that led them to the Weasley home that Harry still found as wonderful as the first time he had seen it. Even though he had never lived there, it held for him a feeling of coming home. He had been welcomed into the home as if he had always belonged there the very first time he had set foot inside.
Harry had barely stepped out of the car than he turned to see Mrs. Weasley coming out of the house with a wide smile and her arms already spreading for the giant hug that Harry knew was coming.
“Harry, dear,” Mrs. Weasley began, “it’s so good to see you looking so well.”
“It’s good to see you too,” Harry managed to say as Mrs. Weasley held him like a lost child who had returned.
“Hermione,” Mrs. Weasley said letting go of Harry and moving to intercept Hermione. “How was your trip to France, dear?”
“Fine,” Hermione responded as she hugged Mrs. Weasley.
“Did you have time to get all of your school things since you got in so late last night?” Molly asked her.
“She got an earlier flight,” Ron said. “She got to Diagon Alley before we did.”
“Ron,” Mrs. Weasley said noticing the condition of the books he was carrying and moving closer to him. “Did you have enough money to buy brand new books?”
“Actually,” Ron began as he saw Harry behind his mom give him a sign that he didn’t want her to know he had bought them, “someone who wishes to remain anonymous bought all of our supplies and paid for our stay at The Leakey Cauldron.”
“Anonymous, eh,” Mrs. Weasley said sounding suspicious before breaking into a grin. “First your car, and now this. Those brothers of yours must be doing pretty well to loosen their purse strings like that. Anyway, you lot must be hungry. Go and wash up, I have lunch waiting for you.”
They all happily entered the house, thinking that they would have to warn Fred and George about the thanks they were likely to get from their mother. Harry spent the next few days at the Burrow, happily doing nothing that some observers would think of as exciting. He helped Ron with whatever chores Mrs. Weasley assigned to him around the house. Mrs. Weasley tried to tell Harry that he needn’t do anything, as he was the guest in the house, but Harry would have none of that. She had finally relented when Harry told her that he would have to learn to take care of his own home soon enough and thought a little practice couldn’t hurt.
Mrs. Weasley had mixed feelings about what Harry had said. On the one hand she knew full well that his life with the Dursleys was one of servitude that required him to do more chores than her own children could ever dream of. On the other she was glad to see that his impending battle with Voldemort didn’t seem to interfere with his planning for the future. After all, she was doing enough worrying for the both of them.
There was something at the Burrow though that was causing even her worrying to give way. Just having the children around, she got the feeling of something almost tangible hanging in the air that seemed to penetrate to her very core and cause joy to fill her.
One night, just as the last remnants of sun light finally gave in to the darkness; Molly walked past a window looking out on the back yard and saw something that stopped her in her tracks.
“Arthur,” she yelled. “Arthur, come quick.”
Arthur Weasley ran into the room with his wand drawn in one hand, and The Daily Prophet still clasped tightly in his other. He had expected to walk into the room to find some great disaster, but what he found instead was a beaming Molly Weasley.
“Come and see,” she said quickly motioning him to the window.
He glanced out and said, “I don’t believe it. Is he going to do it?”
In the back yard, Ron had been taking a walk with Hermione when he suddenly reached over and touched her hand. She let his hand envelope hers without protest as she held on to him. They walked a few more steps before Ron, encouraged when she didn’t pull her hand away, stopped and faced Hermione.
“Hermione,” Ron said with his voice breaking only slightly, “I know that we haven’t always seen eye to eye on things in the past. If I remember correctly, when I first met you, I didn’t like you very much. But… Well… That feeling has changed considerably, and I… What I mean to say is…”
“Yes,” Hermione said not about to let him out of saying it.
“Well,” Ron said, “hex me for it if you have to, but I think I’m falling in love with you and I would like us to start dating.”
Ron closed his eyes and braced himself for the hex he knew would be coming, but instead his muscles involuntarily relaxed as he felt soft lips pressed gently against his own. It was several seconds after Hermione pulled back, that Ron was finally able to bring himself to open his eyes and see if he had dreamed the whole thing.
“You fool,” Hermione said smiling. “What took you so long? I thought I was going to go mad.”
“You mean…” Ron began, but was cut off as Hermione kissed him again.
Inside the house, a smiling Arthur Weasley comforted his crying wife, and said, “Now, Molly you know it happens to everyone sooner or later,” Arthur said. “Even Ron wasn’t going to be able to hold out forever. Let’s give them some privacy now. You should come with me.”
“Where are we going,” Molly asked drying her tears. “I thought we might, turn in early,” Arthur said with a gleam in his eye.
“You old devil,” Molly said as she let him lead her from the room.
Meanwhile, Harry and Ginny were flying around above the paddock, practicing some quidditch maneuvers for the coming year. Harry would streak across the field on his broom carrying the quaffle with Ginny following behind, and he would drop it at random times to let Ginny practice recovering it. Other times, he would throw it to her at odd angles, or not in her direction at all. He was quickly learning that Ginny had talent, and a lot of it. He had known that she was a good chaser before, but the work she had been doing over the summer had really paid off. Ron had told him that Ginny had gotten better, but, as far as he could see, she was the best. He doubted that there was a Hogwarts chaser in recent history that could touch her.
Harry had just watched as Ginny made yet another impossible save, and all he could do was watch the way the wind swept through her hair. It was there in the faint moonlight that he suddenly realized without a doubt what he wanted, and, though he may make a fool of himself, he was ready take a chance to get it.
“Harry, what’s the matter?” Ginny said looking concerned as she stopped to hover beside him.
It took a second before Harry realized what she meant as he became aware of the tears flowing down his cheeks.
“Can you ever forgive me, Ginny,” Harry asked.
“Forgive you?” she asked him confused. “For what?”
“For being so blind,” Harry said. “For not realizing how wonderful you are before it was too late.”
“Too late?” Ginny asked beginning to realize what Harry may be trying to say.
“Before the crush you had on me faded,” Harry answered. “Now I find myself not just wanting you, but needing you in my life as more than just Ron’s little sister. Every time I’m near you I feel a calm and happiness like I’ve never known before. When you aren’t there, all I can do is think about how much I want to be with you again. I know now that I’ve been a fool not to tell you all of this years ago, but I just couldn’t go without saying it now. I would understand if you turned me down, but I’d like you to be my girlfriend.”
“Harry,” Ginny began fighting to hold back her tears, “you are still a fool. Did you really think that my feelings for you could just go away so quickly? I’ve loved you since the day I first saw you, Harry Potter. I would love to be your girlfriend.”
With that she wrapped her arms around Harry and pressed her lips to his. As soon as their lips touched, Harry felt like a bolt of electricity was shooting through his insides, and he never wanted it to end.
Ron wasn’t sure it was any of their business, but Hermione wanted to tell Ginny about the change in their relationship, so he went along with her happily. They had just walked through the hedge into the paddock, and looked up to see that they could just make out the forms of Harry and Ginny hovering close to one another. Ron was just about to call out to them when he saw Ginny lean close to Harry and kiss him. Ron just froze and gripped Hermione’s hand tighter as he realized that Harry was not pulling away, and a smile formed on Ron’s face. He had been trying to get them together for years, and somehow they had managed to do it on their own.
Ron and Hermione had only been watching them for a few seconds when they noticed that it was becoming easier to see the couple in the sky, as if a ray of sun light was washing over them. That was impossible though, as it was nighttime and a half moon was well into the sky.
That is when they both realized that the light wasn’t coming from the sky at all, but from the couple themselves. The longer their kiss held the brighter the light seemed to glow.
Harry and Ginny’s lips parted from one another reluctantly, as they looked into each other’s eyes and saw only the love in them. They were oblivious to the light that slowly extinguished around them.
“I love you, Ginny Weasley,” Harry whispered softly.
“I love you too, Harry Potter,” Ginny whispered back as their foreheads rested together, “and I always will.”
“Hey Harry,” Ron yelled.
Harry and Ginny separated slightly and looked below them to see Ron and Hermione watching them.
“Well,” Harry said as they began to descend, “that doesn’t leave us much time to come up with a plan of how to break our relationship to them gently.”
“Why should we?” Ginny asked. “Hermione already knows how I feel about you.”
“But Ron doesn’t know how I feel about you,” Harry said. “I have to think about how he might react to me dating his little sister.”
“It doesn’t make any difference to me if he likes it or not,” Ginny said.
“You’re his sister though,” Harry said, “he’ll love you no matter what. He’s my best friend, and he may never speak to me again.”
“I’ll hex him if he doesn’t,” Ginny said. “Besides, take a look at the two of them. Do you notice anything different?”
Harry took a closer look and noticed their intertwined hands and said, “He finally told her. I don’t believe it. If he doesn’t kill me, I’ll have to congratulate him.”
Harry and Ginny touched down in front of Ron and Hermione and saw the strange questioning looks on both of their faces.
“How did you do that, Harry?” Ron asked.
“Do what?” Harry asked
“How could you not know?” Ron asked.
“Leave him alone, Ron,” Ginny said. “You don’t have any right to be mad at Harry for kissing me.”
“Mad at…” Ron started. “I’m not mad at Harry at all. I think it’s great that you two are together.”
“You two didn’t see that light then?” Hermione asked.
“I didn’t notice anything,” Ginny said looking at Harry.
“You’ve got me,” Harry said just as confused as Ginny.
“When the two of you were kissing,” Hermione explained, “there was a bright light that looked like the two of you were making it.”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“I don’t know about a light,” Ginny confessed, “but there was something when our lips touched. It was sort of like a small electric shock that surged through me.”
“You felt that too?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Ginny said. “A shock isn’t really a good way to describe it though since it actually felt quite nice.”
“Like joy,” Harry said.
“That’s right,” Ginny said. “It wasn’t the first time I felt it, but it was certainly the strongest.”
“At the vaults in Gringotts?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Ginny said, “when you gave me your hand to help me out of the car.”
“And I thought I was the only one feeling it,” Harry said smiling.
“You two may want to limit your physical contact until we find out why you feel that way,” Ron said.
“Not a chance big brother,” Ginny said reaching for Harry’s hand.
As their hands touched, she looked at him and knew that he felt it as well.
“Just the same, I think we need to at least send an owl to Professor Dumbledore, and ask him if he knows anything about what is happening between you two,” Hermione said.
“I’ll send Hedwig out with a message tonight,” Harry said. “We should have a message back tomorrow.”
“If he’s in the country,” Ron said. “The teachers sometimes travel during the summer.”
“He’s already back at Hogwarts,” Harry said.
“How do you know that?” Hermione asked.
“I’ll explain that later,” Harry said, not wanting to tell them about what he had been doing all summer. “For right now, maybe you two have a bit of explaining to do yourselves.”
Ron blushed a bit as he said, “You and I seem to have something in common, Harry. We’re a bit slow, but we eventually come around.”
“Now that we’re all in the know,” Hermione began, “when should we spring all of this on your parents?”
“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow,” Harry said. “Something tells me they might get too excited to sleep if we mention it tonight.”
The next morning, Harry was sleeping in spite of the sunlight streaming in through the window, and he was so comfortable with his dreams that the smile on his face would be evident to anyone who watched him.
As it happened, there was someone watching him. Ginny had originally entered the room with the intention of waking Harry up for breakfast, but seeing him dreaming so happily made her reluctant to shake him. So she just sat there and watched him, still not believing that the man she had wanted for so long felt the same way about her.
Harry shifted his position and opened his eyes slightly to see Ginny sitting beside him as she said, “Morning sleepy head.”
“I think I must still be dreaming,” Harry said his smile growing larger as he reached for her hand.
“I feel the same way,” Ginny said. “I hope it wasn’t though, or I’m about to make a complete fool of myself.”
Ginny leaned over and kissed Harry tenderly and once again they felt the happiness course through them.
As Ginny began to sit back up, she said, “Happy birthday, Harry.”
Harry looked a bit confused as he reached for his glasses before taking a look at his watch. It confirmed what she had said. It was his birthday. The days leading up to it had been so wonderful, he hadn’t even thought about it.
“I’ll wait here for you if you want to go and take a shower,” Ginny said. “Then we can go downstairs and see if anyone else remembered your birthday.”
“Do they know about us yet?” Harry asked as he sat up.
“No,” Ginny said. “I didn’t want to say anything until you were there. Besides, I think mum needs a little time with Ron and Hermione first. It seems she already knew about them. She just happened to walk by the window at the right time last night, and saw the whole thing. She’s as happy as she can be right now.”
“She only thinks she is,” Harry said as he stopped at the door on his way to the shower. “Wait until she finds out that her only daughter has some news for her as well.”
After he had showered and dressed, Harry made his way down the stairs leading Ginny, who had begun to get a bit nervous about the size of hug she was likely to get from her mum. As he reached the bottom few stairs, a smiling Mrs. Weasley looked up and saw him coming.
“Happy birthday Harry dear,” Molly said as she converged on Harry and gave him a hug.
“Thank you, Mother Weasley,” Harry said.
Mrs. Weasley was a bit stunned, since Harry had never called her that before. She loosened her grip and pulled back to look at him questioningly. Harry just smiled back at her. She started to look over at Ginny, but was stopped half way there when she saw that they were holding hands. Her mouth opened as if she was about to say something, but no words would come out. After struggling to say something for a few seconds, and with her tears welling up in her eyes, she finally gave up and pulled them both into the biggest hug either of them had ever received.
Harry spent the rest of the day reading the owls that kept coming in. The first of them came just after Mrs. Weasley let go of Harry and Ginny to fix them some breakfast. As he expected, it was a note from Dumbledore in response to the owl he had sent the previous evening. It said:
I must say that I know of no other occasion when something like that occurred. I wish that more of us could experience it though. I shouldn’t think it is anything to worry about, so enjoy it as much as you can. Within limits of course. By the way, happy birthday, Harry.
Headmaster Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Just as Harry had finished reading the letter, another owl flew in the window and delivered a small package. From the handwriting on the package it was clear that it was from Hagrid. Calling on past experience, Harry was very cautious when opening the gift for fear that it may suddenly take a chunk out of his hand. Caution wasn’t needed though as it turned out. Hagrid had sent him a beautiful woodcarving depicting a hand reaching out to grab a snitch.
Everyone else let Harry eat his breakfast before they gave their gifts to him. Ron gave him a book of defensive magic. Harry didn’t have the heart to tell him he had almost memorized the same book over the summer in the room of requirement. Hermione gave him a book of love poetry that he thought may come in handy as he stumbled into the new world of trying to express his feelings to Ginny. Ginny gave him a picture scrapbook with pictures of Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor team playing quidditch that he never even knew existed. It only served to remind him of what a blind fool he had been as he noticed that in most of the pictures of the team standing together, Ginny was looking at him instead of at the camera.
Of all of the presents, the one that touched him the most was the one Mrs. Weasley gave to him. She explained to him that she hadn’t had a chance to finish it, but wanted him to see it anyway. She pulled out what he first thought was a woven blanket, but as she spread it out he knew exactly what it was. He had seen a similar one hanging in the Black family house. It was a record of his family tree further back than he had ever thought.
“It still isn’t complete of course,” Mrs. Weasley said. “I’m still trying to research to find who was the son of who and all that, but what I have so far is accurate.”
“I can’t believe it,” Harry said, the tears already forming in his eyes. “Other than the Dursleys, my parents are the only other family I’ve ever really heard about. All my life, I never knew that any of these people existed.” Harry looked at Mrs. Weasley and wrapped her in a giant hug of his own before he said, “I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Thank you.”
It wasn’t the last gift Harry got that day, but it was the one that he would be the most proud of once he had his own home to hang it in. In the back of his mind, he thought how nice it would be to add Ginny and all of the Weasley’s to it with him, but that was thinking for down the road.
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