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Protection by PrincessPotter
Chapter 4 : Under Pressure
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 76


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Harry and Ginny made their way down Diagon Alley with a few Aurors following them at a distance. Scanning the crowd as they walked, Harry reached out and took Ginny’s hand. Linking his fingers through hers, he pulled her closer as they weaved in and out of people.

Ginny felt her skin tingling at his touch and looked down at their hands, noticing how small and pale hers was compared to his.

Smiling slightly, she thought back to their earlier conversation.

“Ginny, I said no and I meant it.”

“Then what are we going to eat?” Ginny demanded, flicking her wand and causing the cabinets to fly open, revealing their empty shelves. “You’re out of almost everything, and not just in the kitchen.”

“We still don’t need to go out,” Harry argued, barely glancing up from his paper at her display. “I’ll just have someone send…”

“That’s not the point,” Ginny interrupted, crossing to the kitchen table where he sat. Hopping up on the table next to him, she snatched the paper from his hands. “Just because you can have someone else bring us supplies, doesn’t mean...”

“Ginny,” he huffed irritably, “I said no…”

“Well I want to get out of this flat,” Ginny said, holding the paper out of reach as he moved to grab it back. “It’s Saturday and besides, you can’t just keep me here indefinitely.”

“I know that,” Harry glared.

Grabbing her wrist suddenly, he pulled her down until their faces were close. He pulled the paper out of her grasp with his free hand, but didn’t release her.

“It’s an unnecessary risk,” he told her firmly.

Ginny considered him for a second before moving her hand to his where he held her. He tensed under her caress, his eyes suddenly wary as she broke into a sweet smile.

“Please?” she asked, watching his gaze drift down to her mouth as she spoke…


Lost in thought, Ginny ran right into a large wizard. The man had been striding in the other direction, looking in a shop window instead of where he was going. They collided with a thud and Ginny’s hand slipped out of Harry’s as she stumbled backwards.

Harry spun when he felt Ginny tugged away and heard her give a startled cry. Grabbing her arm, he yanked her back and behind him. His wand was up and pointed at the man’s startled face an instant later, cutting off his stammered apology.

“Put that away!” Ginny ordered. “Honestly, I just ran into him,” she insisted when he didn’t move. “I’m fine.”

Ginny looked around, feeling the Aurors begin to move in.

“Harry, stop it!” she urged, grabbing his arm. “People are staring.”

Harry hesitated, narrowing his eyes as he held the man’s gaze. After another second he dropped his wand. He nodded to the nearest Auror and they immediately began to blend back into the crowd. With that, Harry took Ginny’s hand and continued walking.

Ginny shook her head. “You’re a jumpy lot, aren’t you,” she muttered.

“You never know when something could happen,” he replied curtly, looking down at her.

“Harry, we’re in public, surrounded by people. Who would be stupid enough to try something now?”

Harry simply ignored her, scanning the crowd as they made their way to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes so Ginny could see her brothers. It was their last stop of the day and Harry was more than ready to get out of Diagon Alley.

She’d dragged him to all sorts of shops. Harry was pretty sure that if she hadn't been trying to stay out as long as possible, she'd never have wanted to go to most of them.

The shop was just coming into view when they were stopped by a wizarding family with two teenage daughters.

“Harry Potter! Look girls, it’s Harry Potter,” the mother exclaimed, pointing at Harry while shoving her daughters in front of him.

Ginny watched the girls’ eyes light up with interest before she glanced around, noting the curious looks from the people near enough to hear the woman. Harry had told her this occasionally happened to him, but she’d never experienced it.

“Nice to meet you, sir!” the father exclaimed, stepping up and holding his hand out.

Harry groaned inside as the young girls began to giggle. Other shoppers began to gather around them as well, forcing them to a stop. Harry smiled tightly as he began shaking the hands that shot out to him, while at the same time pulling Ginny closer to him.

Brilliant.

No matter how many times this happened to him, it was something he never got used to and never enjoyed. He didn’t like the attention and was continually amazed that his popularity hadn’t faded as the years went by.

Even now, more people were beginning to move forward, eager to meet the savior of the wizarding world. Harry’s grip on Ginny’s hand tightened and he maneuvered her behind him without taking his focus off of the crowd.

Rising up on her toes, Ginny whispered into his ear, “I think they’re in love.”

Harry felt her breath on his skin and goose bumps erupted instantly on his neck. He turned his head and was immediately lost in the depth of her laughing eyes.

“You think?” he murmured as his eyes dropped to her lips.

She let out a laugh as she nodded and he looked back up at her eyes. He followed her gaze to the two daughters who looked like they were about to start drooling. He didn’t even try to hide it when he rolled his eyes.

Resting her cheek against Harry’s back as he tried to politely disperse the crowd, Ginny looked down the street to her brothers’ shop. She could see the sign from her vantage point with its bright colors and moving font standing out against the dark buildings.

Glancing back at the gathering crowd of Potter fans, Ginny realized they wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. Deciding to take matters in hand, she tugged on Harry’s arm to get his attention.

“I’m going to walk on,” she told him when he looked back at her. “It’s only a few doors down.”

Harry tightened his grip on her hand and shook his head.

“No, Ginny…” he said but she twisted swiftly out of his grip. “Wait…”

As soon as she’d stepped away, several wizards pushed into her place, blocking Harry as he reached for her. She was gone in an instant, disappearing into the crowd as they moved forward to speak to him. One wizard grabbed his hand and began shaking vigorously, but Harry pushed him off.

“Ginny!” Harry called angrily, ignoring the attempted introductions as he followed her.

Harry fumed inwardly about her recklessness as he tried to push through the crowd. His irritation spiked as the people in front of him refused to cooperate and he took back every nice thing he’d felt about her recently.

He was just about to part the way with his wand when a series of loud cracks sounded and several hooded wizards apparated onto the street around him, shooting curses and throwing the crowd into a panic.

“Damn it…GINNY!”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Ginny heard Harry’s yell and turned back.

Really, he’s such a…

She didn’t get a chance to finish her thought because someone knocked into her hard and she stumbled to her knees. Her heart sped up as she heard the sounds of screams and the blasts of spells. Looking up, all she could see was the rush of robes around her before she was jerked roughly to her feet.

Fear flooded her as she looked up to find a masked wizard holding her arm.

“Get off me!” she cried, trying to break free from his bruising grasp as he began to drag her from the street. “HARRY!”

There was smoke everywhere as the crowd of shoppers ran in all directions, bumping into them in their haste to find safety.

“Don’t move!”

Jerking her head around at the barked order, she found not Harry, but another Auror pushing through the crowd, his wand pointed at the wizard’s face. Spinning her out of the way, the dark wizard shot a hex in the Auror’s direction.

Ginny twisted harder against the wizard’s grasp as he tried to hold her and fight the Auror at the same time. After a second, she broke free and fell to the ground again, ripping her robes as she tripped over them.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry was pushing through the crowd, looking around frantically for Ginny’s red hair.

Where is she?

“Ginny!”

As he shoved a young couple out of the way, a wizard materialized in front of him and threw a curse. In response, Harry raised his wand and deflected it before throwing one of his own. It took him only a few seconds to stun the wizard and he quickly bound him.

“Ginny!” Harry called again as he ran in the direction she’d disappeared.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Fred looked up as he heard the commotion outside. He called George’s name as he began to move to the front of the shop. His hand went instinctively to his wand when the door burst open and someone barreled in.

“Hey! What’re you…Harry?! What…”

“Is Ginny here?” Harry demanded as he looked around.

“Ginny?” George asked, coming out of the back carrying a box.

“Is your sister here?!” Harry barked again when they gave him confused looks.

“No, why…”

Harry didn’t wait for Fred to finish as he turned and ran back out the door.

Fred and George looked at each other for a second before pulling their wands out and running after him.

They stumbled to a stop outside, just barely avoiding Harry where he’d stopped on the sidewalk. They took a quick glance around at the chaotic streets before turning their attention back to Harry.

His body was rigid, his eyes squeezed shut and his wand held tightly in his hand.

Fred and George exchanged wary glances as he took a deep breath, his body seeming to hum slightly.

A second later Harry’s eyes opened, dark and intense as his head snapped to the left.

“This way,” he said, taking off at run with the twins only a step behind him.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Disoriented by the smoke and chaos, Ginny ran blindly. Plunging her hand into her robe she reached for her wand as she searched the crowd for Harry’s familiar face. With a gasp she looked down, her hand traveling right through a hole in the fabric where it had ripped.

Slowing her steps, she blinked back a rush of tears as she realized her wand had fallen out somewhere as she ran. Instinctively she looked behind her, only to see the wizard she’d run from push his way through a huddled group of teenagers. Her insides twisted violently when he spotted her.

When he raised his wand she lunged off to her right. The heat of his curse whizzed past her and she heard someone scream as it hit them instead. Despite her automatic urge to look back, she continued running through the crowd to get away, searching for someone she recognized. There wasn’t anyone, of course, and she felt a moment of intense rage at the fact that as soon as she actually needed them, all of the Aurors had disappeared.

Bloody Aurors!

The moment passed quickly though and was replaced by the sudden urge to cry.

Skidding to a stop when she saw another hooded figure approaching from the direction she was heading, she ducked into the alley to her left. It was a narrow passage leading to a dead end. The high buildings on either side blocked most of the light and the farther she ran, the darker it got. Her fear intensified with each step as she neared the wall in front of her.

Hearing the heavy footfalls of someone running up behind her, she looked around frantically for a door or somewhere to go, but there was nothing. Out of options, she ducked behind a dumpster just as a curse flew past her, barely missing her.

There was nowhere left to run so she sank down to the ground. The thought of what awaited her if she was taken surged inside of her, increasing her panic.

Her body was shaking and for the first time in her life, she understood what it felt like to be truly and completely afraid. Her mind was calling desperately for Harry and she screamed his name aloud when the wizard came around the dumpster.

“’Ello, sweet,” he leered, a triumphant smile twisting his winded face. “I don’t think he’s gonna make it, do you?”

Glaring at him, Ginny curled her hands into fists at her sides. She kept her thumb tight against her fingers the way Bill had taught her. If she was going to be taken it wasn’t going to be without a fight.

Laughing, he reached down to grab her, only to stumble to the side when she punched him hard in the jaw.

“Bitch!” he growled, swinging his arm and backhanding her across the face.

The blow knocked Ginny back against the dumpster with a clang. Her vision spun and her cheek throbbed as he grabbed her hair and yanked her forward.

Ginny screamed as she fought him, her hands going to her hair where he had a hold of her. Closing her eyes, she dug her fingernails into his hands and tried to break away from him as he tried to pull her up.

Her eyes flew open when she heard someone yell a stunning spell. The wizard’s grip on her hair released and he flew away from her. She scrambled back behind the dumpster, pressing her back against the wall as she heard more footsteps running and then suddenly Harry was there, in front of her, saying her name and pulling her up.

She let out a sob and threw her arms around him, clinging to him.

Harry pulled her close for a second as he breathed a sigh of relief. Releasing her, he was just grabbing her hand to lead her back to the entrance of the alley when the twins and a couple of Aurors skidded to a halt in front of them.

“They’re right behind us,” George panted as Fred turned to face the entrance, his wand drawn.

“Get her out of here,” Harry ordered, thrusting Ginny to the Auror nearest him, but she didn’t let go. One hand clamped on his and the other grabbed onto his forearm. He looked over at her to find her shaking her head, her eyes filled with fear.

“I’m staying with you,” she said as she moved back toward him.

“Ginny, this is no time to argue,” Fred said over his shoulder, but she ignored him.

A curse shot towards them and Harry spun her back behind the dumpster while the others formed a wall of defense.

“Tom,” Harry called as he pulled Ginny close, blocking her with his body as he leaned his head down close to hers. “Tom’s going to take you to my flat,” he said as the Auror stepped up behind him. “You’ll be safe there.”

“I want to stay with you,” Ginny said firmly continuing to shake her head.

“Ginny, you have to go,” he told her, cupping her cheek. “I’ll be there in a few minutes, ok? You’ll be fine. I promise.”

“No arguments, Gin. He knows what’s best,” George called and she shot a glare at him while Fred nodded his agreement.

Another curse hit the wall near them and Harry thrust her into Tom’s arms before she could argue. He pulled a coin from his pocket and tossed it to Tom as he met her angry, frightened eyes. She said his name and disappeared with the Portkey as it took her to safety.

When they were gone, Harry narrowed his eyes and stepped out from behind the dumpster. The fear in her eyes filled his senses. It mixed with his fury and his pupils dilated in an instant, erasing the green in them for a second before returning to normal.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Ginny sat on Harry’s sofa, her knees pulled under her chin with her arms wrapped around them. She rocked back and forth slowly until Harry appeared with a pop. Her body relaxed instantly as she watched him speak softly with Tom, but she stayed where she was until the other man left.

Running a hand through his hair, Harry turned toward her. He watched warily as she got up and moved swiftly toward him. Her hand shot out and she shoved his shoulder as her eyes flashed.

“I can’t believe you did that!”

“Ginny…”

“I said I wanted to stay with you!” she exclaimed shoving him again. “I don’t even know that Auror! What if it was a trick and Malfoy was here?!”

Harry hesitated for a second as he studied her. Her usually rosy cheek was marred by a purple bruise and he reached out, cupping her chin gently as he moved forward.

“My job is to keep you safe, Ginny,” he said softly. “Not make sure you aren’t mad at me.” He turned her face to the side so he could see the spot better. “When did this happen?” he asked as he brushed his thumb across the lower part of her cheek.

Ginny bit her lip. She knew her face had been aching since the wizard had hit her, but she didn’t realize it had left a mark.

“In the alley,” she answered with a shrug. “I don’t think he appreciated me hitting him very much, so he hit me back.”

She watched his eyes flash angrily as he brought his wand up to perform a healing spell.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, running his fingers over the spot as it faded away.

Ginny’s eyes filled unexpectedly with tears at his tender touch and she blinked them back. He could have been killed because of her and he was apologizing? She’d just walked off, ignoring him when he warned her not to. None of this would have happened if she had just done as he asked. She turned back toward him and took in the cut on his cheek where a spell had obviously grazed him.

“Are you hurt?” she asked, hearing her voice wobble as she spoke.

“I’m fine,” he smiled down at her as he ran the backs of his fingers over her cheek. “Everything is fine. You’re safe and that’s all that matters.”

The tears that had rushed into her eyes began to fall and she reached up, cupping his face and running her thumb lightly over the cut.

“I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. I should never have…”

Harry shook his head, cutting her off.

“It’s fine, Gin. It’s -”

Ginny rose up onto her toes, cutting him off with a kiss.

She didn’t know what made her do it. She was just scared, and emotional, and afraid for him and she pushed her lips against his.

Harry froze momentarily in surprise.

Ginny pulled away, but just barely. No more than a second had passed before she kissed him again more firmly, catching his bottom lip in hers as she tasted him.

Harry kept his body still, but it only took about half a second for him to start kissing her back. Moving his lips with hers in a series of short, open mouthed kisses, their tongues flicked out as their lips came together harder and with more intensity each time.

Ginny slid her hand into his hair and pulled him closer, moving her other hand to his face as she slipped her tongue completely into his mouth.

Harry didn’t know why she was kissing him, but he was enjoying it much more than he probably should have been as he met her tongue with his own. His hand came up to cup her neck, pulling her face closer as he began to take control of the kiss. Her lips opened wider for him as he invaded her mouth, tasting her tears.

Harry felt heat and emotion surge through him as she whimpered slightly and pressed against him. God he wanted this. He wanted her and he was a little surprised at the intensity of it. He felt like he’d been waiting forever to do this and their mouths moved together perfectly – as though they’d done it a thousand times before.

Ginny came to her senses a few moments later and pulled back. Harry almost stumbled forward, following her lips as they left his and he opened his eyes, his breathing heavy. He watched as embarrassed horror filled her face.

“I’m…I’m sorry,” she murmured, pulling her hands quickly from his face and backing up. She brought a hand to her mouth and turned, walking swiftly to her room and closing the door.

Oh my God, she kept thinking, what was that? She’d just thrown herself at him. What’s wrong with me?

Her body was reeling from him and she brought her fingers to her lips as she leaned against the door. Kissing him had been brilliant. It had been perfect and familiar and she wanted to do it again…right now. She brought her other hand to her head as it began to ache…or maybe she would lie down for a second.

Harry stood frozen and watched her leave, not really sure what to do. At the moment he didn’t think going after her would be a very good plan because the odds were good that he wouldn’t talk to her, he would simply throw her down and continue what she had started – and stopped, unfortunately.

He had felt a pure and overwhelming panic today when he hadn’t been able to find her and an even more startling surge of rage when he’d reached the alley and found the wizard trying to hurt her.

He had protected people before and saved people before but he’d never felt such an intense reaction. He shook his head at himself, pretty sure that if he’d gone straight to the wizard and not stopped to help her up he would have killed him for touching her.

He rubbed the bridge of his nose under his glasses, trying to push down the desire that had shot through him at her touch.

Not good.

As if on cue to give him a distraction, his fireplace surged green.

Harry flew to his feet, his hand going for his wand as a wizard stepped out of the flames. Recognizing his superior, Harry dropped his hand.

“Lupin,” he greeted with a nod.

“How is she?” the older wizard asked, glancing around.

“Ok,” Harry answered, gesturing to the hall. “She’s in her room.”

“And how are you?” Remus asked, eyeing him closely.

“Me? I’m fine,” Harry replied with a shrug. “Just…frustrated that they got so close.”

Remus considered him for another moment before nodding, apparently satisfied with what he found in Harry’s expression.

“Tell me what happened,” he said, crossing to the sofa as Harry began to talk.

~..~..~..~..~..~..~

It was almost an hour before Ginny came out of her room. She did not want to face him but it wasn’t in her nature to hide.

Harry was sitting on the sofa, staring into space, a butterbeer forgotten in his hand.

Ginny pushed down the urge to turn around and head back to her room. Instead she walked past him and settled onto the other end of the sofa.

Harry was pulled out of his thoughts when she moved past his vision and he shifted, turning as he watched her.

“Hey,” he said as she pulled her knees up, wrapping her arms around them and leaning against the cushions as she looked at him.

It took all of his control to keep his eyes on hers when they seemed determined to drop to her mouth.

“Harry,” she began. She’d been rehearsing this in her room, but now that she was actually out here everything she’d come up with to say flew straight out the window. “I…I don’t know what to say…I…”

Well this is going well, she thought wishing she’d stayed in her room.

“Don’t worry about it,” Harry told her shaking his head. “You were scared. You just…I think it’s better if we just forget about it. It doesn’t matter.”

Yeah right, his mind responded instantly to his words, like you’ll ever forget that.

It was quite possibly the best kiss he could remember…but that wasn’t the point. Whatever his body felt, his mind kept reminding him, this was a job. He was here to protect her, not seduce her. Being attracted to her was one thing, but actually acting on that attraction was something very different; something he wouldn’t do, especially considering who she was. It didn’t really occur to him that she’d been the one who started it.

Ginny studied him for a second before nodding and relaxing her position a little; pretty sure that forgetting about it was not really an option for her.

“So…was it Malfoy?”

Harry took a drink of his butterbeer and set it on the table before lounging back and meeting her gaze.

“He wasn’t there, but it was him. He was testing us; seeing how many Aurors were with you. I don’t think they were actually trying to take you, he isn’t ready for you yet.”

“How do you know that?”

He ran a hand through his hair before rubbing his neck. “Well, it’s complicated. The ingredients he needs, some of them are very rare. He can only get them at certain times and in certain places. The things he has to do to prepare the potion and for the ritual, take time.”

Ginny nodded, but it didn’t really make her feel any better.

“I’m sorry, I walked off…this was my fault.”

He shook his head. “They didn’t come because you left, they were coming anyway. You just scared me.”

“Me too,” she added quietly and Harry suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to comfort her; to make her feel safe, but he wasn’t sure how to do that without pulling her into his arms. He knew that was a bad idea now, so he just watched her, their gazes locked.

Ginny was the first to move.

Glancing away she rubbed her forehead until her gaze fell on his butterbeer sitting on the table. Leaning over, she picked it up and took a drink before she settled back against the cushions. Stretching her feet out to the middle of the sofa she met Harry’s gaze again only to find him looking at her with an unreadable expression.

“What?”

His eyebrow rose before he looked from her innocent stare to the bottle.

“That…is not yours,” he pointed out.

Hearing the amusement in his voice, she smiled.

“Oh, didn’t you give it to me?” she asked sweetly.

“No, I don’t believe I did,” he said, watching her throat move as she took another drink, finishing the bottle.

“Well it was very good,” she said, her eyes following him as he got up.

“I’m so glad you enjoyed it,” he said dryly and she smirked at him.

He took the bottle from her as he passed and ran his other hand absently over her hair as he headed to the kitchen. He came back a second later carrying two new bottles. He handed one to her as he walked back to his spot on the sofa.

They sat together in silence for a few more minutes; Harry staring at the wall again as he went over what had happened in the alley and Ginny staring at the fireplace until she spoke.

“Will I get to go to work tomorrow?”

“I think so,” he said after a second. “I doubt they would try anything else so soon, but that’s the only place we’ll be going for awhile. I’ll set it up so that we can Apparate straight into an empty room and back.”

“Ok,” she agreed before she turned to look at him. “But I have to go to the banquet this weekend.”

Harry frowned and took a drink. “I don’t know. It’s going to be a lot of work to secure something like that. After what happened today, it might be better if…”

“I’m going, Harry,” she interrupted in a tone that made him look over at her. “I helped plan it, I have to be there. You’re just going to have to make it work.”

Harry watched her face for a minute, seeing her clenched jaw and flashing eyes. After a second he ran a hand through his hair. “Fine, but no wandering off…and if I say we’re leaving, we leave; no arguments.”

“Absolutely,” Ginny nodded, stretching her legs out until her feet were resting against his leg.

They sat in a comfortable silence for awhile before Ginny spoke again.

“So, how is it going to work with my date?”

Harry’s head shot around to look at her.

“What date?”

“My date to the banquet, Neal is taking me.”

Harry blinked. She has a date? Who the hell is Neal? His mind railed against the idea; a strange pressure beginning to build on his chest as he pictured it.

“No.”

“No?” Ginny asked, raising her brow at him.

“You’re going with me. I’m not going to be responsible for him too and we certainly aren’t going to all go together.”

“And just what am I supposed to tell him?”

“I don’t care,” Harry shrugged. “Tell him I’m a family friend or something. Tell him I’m Harry Potterand I feel like going. What’s he going to do? And don’t even try to argue this one…a date makes it too difficult, too many loose ends and it would be too hard to keep you close without it becoming a circus.”

Ginny narrowed her eyes but his gaze was steady, his jaw set. After a second she huffed and crossed her arms, causing Harry to break into a grin.

“What?” Ginny demanded.

His grin widened, “Nothing. It’s just such a great feeling to actually win an argument so quickly,” he said and Ginny kicked his leg, her lips twitching.

“When did you manage to get a date?” he asked after a second, unable to keep the words inside despite his best efforts. “I’m always around.”

Ginny’s lip curled up and she shrugged. “I had a couple of people ask me actually. I guess you just didn’t notice.”

“But…but I was always there,” he countered as he crossed his arms. Some bodyguard I make, he thought with a frown. He couldn’t imagine how he could possibly have missed this. If anything, he was hyper aware when men spoke to her at work, although he pointedly ignored the reason why that was. He looked over when he heard her laugh. “What?”

“I do get mail, Harry,” she said with a smirk, “after the Aurors go through it, of course.”

That made him feel a bit better at first until his mood plummeted.

Who did she write to? Who was writing to her?

She could be talking to just about anyone, having an entire relationship that he didn’t even know about. He tried not to scowl at the thought and had the sudden urge to floo Ron. He would certainly want to know if some wanker was trying to seduce her with love letters...

Ginny watched the emotions play across his face and she furrowed her brow before biting back a smile. It seemed a lot like jealousy to her. A thrill went through her, but she shoved it aside, not completely sure if she was right.

When they went to bed later, Harry was an internal wreck. He sat cross legged on the floor as he centered, controlling his emotions before going to sleep. Even after he was in bed, he continued to stare at the ceiling.

She was much too popular for her own good he decided. He didn’t want her accepting dates from other guys and he really wanted to kiss her again but that, unfortunately, wasn’t an option.

He finally fell asleep, trying to figure out how he was going to get through the next couple of weeks without making a complete git out of himself.

~..~..~..~..~..~..~

“What is going onhere,” Hermione asked Ginny softly, her eyebrow raised and her lip curling as they carried the empty plates into the kitchen.

“What do you mean?”

Hermione watched the telltale blush rise on Ginny’s cheeks as she avoided her eyes and the older girl’s lip curled farther into a grin.

They had come over for dinner to break up the monotony of Harry and Ginny’s days together. After Diagon Alley, Harry had basically restricted their activity to going to work; something she knew wouldn’t sit well with Ginny. Hermione had assumed that they would welcome the company since they barely knew each other, but it had become increasingly clear throughout dinner that they probably would have been more than fine on their own.

Or perhaps not, if the way that Harry kept looking at Ginny was any indication of what he would rather be doing. Hermione could really only describe it as hungry – and yet slightly guilty. It was as though he felt like he shouldn’t want her.

Leave it to Harry to come up with some crazy reason not to go after something he wants, she thought as she followed Ginny to the sink.

“You know exactly what I mean,” she said, glancing at Ginny as she handed her the dishes before looking back toward the door to make sure the guys weren’t following. “Now what is going on?”

Nothing is going on, Hermione,” Ginny insisted, shaking her head.

Hermione didn’t buy it. She crossed her arms as she leaned her hip into the counter and studied Ginny’s profile carefully.

“Liar,” she announced finally. “You two can’t keep your eyes off each other and Harry looks positively ready to pounce.”

Ginny eyes snapped up to meet hers in surprise before she looked back down at the sink. Her blush deepened and she bit her lip for a second before she mumbled something under her breath.

“Pardon?”

“I…well, I sort of kissed him,” she hissed out before glancing toward the door.

Hermione’s eyes widened and she grabbed Ginny’s shoulder, turning her toward her.

“You did what?”

Ginny reddened further and ran a hand through her hair distractedly. “I… ”

“Yes, I heard you,” Hermione responded quickly, gesturing with her hands. “What happened? How did it happen? How was it?”

“It was nothing,” Ginny insisted, moving back to the dishes and wishing she hadn’t said anything.

Hermione’s fist went to her hip as her other hand spread out flat on the counter. “Ginny Weasley, this is the best gossip I’ve heard all year and you are not getting away with just saying it happened. You better tell me right now or I’ll march right into that room and ask Harry about it myself.”

“You would not,” Ginny said shaking her head.

“Try me,” Hermione said archly as she turned, heading to the door. A second later, Ginny’s hand shot to her arm and she turned back around with a smile. “So…how was it?”

Ginny scowled at her briefly before accepting defeat. She had opened her big mouth and started the conversation, so she figured she might as well get it over with quickly.

“It was…” she bit her lip, suddenly trying not to grin as memories of it flooded her brain. “It was brilliant, ok?”

Hermione grinned. This was certainly a nice development. Harry needed someone like Ginny and she found herself wondering why they hadn’t ever thought to try to set them up before. Ginny was much more his type than Cho Chang ever was.

“So, how did it happen?”

Ginny ran a hand over her face at that and groaned.

“Oh, God, Hermione, it was horrible.”

Hermione’s grin slid to a frown as she furrowed her brow. That certainly wasn’t what she was expecting.

“It was the other day after the thing in Diagon Alley. I was angry that he sent me back here. When he got back he was scratched and I…well I basically threw myself at him if you really want to know.”

Hermione laughed and Ginny shook her head as she chuckled.

“It’s not funny! It was so embarrassing…I could barely face him later.”

“Well, what happened? What did he say?”

Ginny leaned back against the counter with a sigh.

“That he understood that I was upset and not thinking and that we should just forget about it.”

“What?”

Ginny shrugged.

“He said we should forget about it,” she repeated before groaning and dropping her face into her hands. “But I swear Hermione; I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about him…and I definitely want to do it again.”

“Do what again?” Ron asked as he appeared in the doorway.

Ginny’s head shot up and Hermione turned casually toward him, leaving Ginny frozen at the sink, her eyes moving automatically to Harry who was staring at her from over Ron’s shoulder.

“Nothing,” Hermione said with a smile as she gave Ron a light kiss. “Just have us over for dinner again.”

Ron seemed to accept her statement without question but Ginny was pretty positive that Harry didn’t buy it. It seemed like he could read her expression and she had the sinking feeling that he knew exactly what they’d been talking about.

By the end of the evening, she was positive he knew and was feeling rather moody because apparently he didn’t want to do it again. After they left the kitchen he kept his distance and barely talked to her at all.

It didn’t occur to her that he would be avoiding her because he did feel the same way.

Whenever Harry got within five feet of her he pictured them kissing. Kissing after Diagon Alley, kissing in the kitchen, kissing on the sofa, kissing in the hall, kissing at the burrow…even kissing at Hogwarts and he was moody and headachy by the end of the night, cursing his raging hormones and out of control imagination.

~..~..~..~..~..~..~

When Ron and Hermione left, Ginny headed to her room and Harry didn’t try to stop her. She got ready for bed and even lay down, but she didn’t feel like sleeping. She turned on her side and stared out the window, letting her mind wander.

Soon she was frowning because all she could think about were Harry’s lips. His lips that hadn’t said two words to her all night. Throwing her blankets off with a scowl she picked up her wand from the bedside table and left her room.

Unable to come up with anything better to do she wandered around his flat looking for something to read. She knew there wasn’t anything in the front room or the kitchen so she headed down the hall, opening the door to the only room she’d never been in. She lit her wand and went into what seemed like an office.

Like every other room in his flat, it was unfinished. There was a desk that was piled high with files, paper and books. There was also a large wingback chair in front of the fireplace, but the details were missing. There was nothing on the walls, no rug on the floor and the mantle was bare.

As she walked farther in, her wand throwing light around as she moved, she noticed it all seemed a little dusty except for the chair and the desk, as though he bypassed everything else whenever he used it.

The room wasn’t completely empty though and her eyes widened a bit as she came to stop in front of the far wall. The entire wall was a case filled with books from floor to ceiling and Ginny ran her hand through her hair. She certainly wouldn’t have pegged Harry as heavy reader.

They were all shapes and sizes and they didn’t seem to be in any particular order so she pulled one out at random and flipped it open. Her eyes widened a bit and then narrowed in disgust as she skimmed the page before her. It seemed to be a spell or something but she couldn’t imagine why anyone would ever want to turn the skin of their enemy inside out. She snapped the book closed and put it back, pulling out another one instead.

The outside seemed innocent enough, with a deep burgundy cover made out of dragon skin and a gold crest on the front that she didn’t recognize. But when she flipped it open, it was worse than the last one. It was illustrated and talked in detail about some sort of dark theory and after a second she snapped it shut, too. She was just reaching up to put it back onto the shelf when she jumped about a foot into the air and spun around at the sound of her name.

“Merlin, Harry!”

“What are you doing?” he asked tightly as he came into the room, crossing to her and taking the book out of her hand. He glanced down at it for a second before he put it back on the shelf.

“I was looking for something to read,” she said crossing her arms over her chest. “But they all seem to be…” here she floundered for a second, not sure how to put it. “Well…”

“Not bedtime reading?” he offered lightly as he looked at her and she shifted, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.

“Why do you have these? Have you read them all?” she asked, turning and looking at the books again as she took a step forward, trailing her fingers across the bindings of the ones in front of her.

He took her hand and moved her back before he stepped forward. He reached up to a high shelf, pulled down a book and turned back around to face her. “Here’s a good one,” he said as he handed it to her.

“Hogwarts; A History,” she read out loud before looking back up at him. “I’m sure this is thrilling, Harry, but you didn’t answer the question.”

“I like to know what I’m dealing with,” he said as he moved past her to leave but she caught his arm and turned him back.

“Are they all about the dark arts?”

He looked over at the wall again. “Pretty much.”

“And you’ve read them all? Don’t you think that’s going a little overboard? Why would you…”

“You can’t fight what you don’t understand,” he said curtly as his eyes became hard.

Ginny removed her hand from his arm, studying his face for a second before holding his book out to him. He took it from her and she left without looking back.

She didn’t understand his moods sometimes; the way he could go from open and funny to completely closed off and mysterious in an instant. She was just climbing into bed when there was knock on her door. She paused for a second before walking back over and throwing it open to find Harry leaning on the doorframe.

His initial annoyance at finding her looking at his books had quickly faded as he watched her leave, her thin nightgown flowing around her and her hair tumbling over her shoulders.

“I found you a book,” he said, holding a small paperback out to her. She took it from him and broke into a smile as she looked down at it. It was a brief history of the Chudley Cannons.

“Thanks,” she said as she looked up to find him staring down at her with an unreadable expression. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “What?”

He blinked. “Nothing,” he lied, trying to ignore the urge to lean down so he could figure out if she tasted as great as he remembered.

“Ok, well…goodnight then,” she said and he nodded, his eyes locking on her lips as she spoke.

He started to back up when her hand shot out, fisting into his shirt and pulling him up against her as she rose up on her toes. Her lips found his and his hand shot to her waist, holding her against him as he kissed her back. She was warm and soft and when her mouth opened, urging him in he took advantage of it in an instant. It was over too soon though in his opinion, when she pulled back slightly.

“Why didn’t you talk to me after dinner?” she breathed against his lips and he dragged his eyes open as she leaned her head back enough to see him.

Warning bells had started going off in his head the second their lips had met but he couldn’t bring himself to move away. Not yet. He didn’t want to move yet and he tried to think of an answer besides the truth; that he was afraid that speaking to her would lead to this exact situation.

“I…well I…”

She cut him off with another kiss and he sank into her gratefully.

“You don’t have to try to stay away from me Harry,” she said softly when she pulled back again.

This time he moved forward trying to follow her but he stopped and looked up as she continued speaking.

“I like when you kiss me,” she murmured as her eyes searched his.

That did it. Reality came crashing back into his brain and he took a step back, trying desperately not to groan at the loss of contact. He schooled his features into what he hoped was a neutral expression and ran a hand through his hair.

“Ginny, it’s not that you’re not…that I’m not…that this isn’t…” he trailed off for a second in frustration.

Apparently his self control and ability to speak didn’t feel the need to function when she was so close to him.

He wasn’t sure how to say it…although the fact that he really didn’t want to say it was probably helping to tie his tongue into knots, but he knew he had to do. He had been assigned to protect her. This was a job and nothing more and his head was filled with images of Remus’s lectures on professionalism, followed quickly by images of her brothers hexing him into oblivion for what he wanted to do to her.

“I…think it’s better if we stay professional here,” he managed, glancing up at her expression but it was unreadable.

After a second she stepped back, running a hand through her hair and crossing her arms over her chest.

“Right,” she said softly. “Of course, thanks for the book,” she said before she shut the door in his face.

Harry stared at the door for a second, trying to convince himself that professionalism was really the way to go and dreading what she had just done to his dreams.

On the other side of the door Ginny had a hand on her forehead as she walked back to her bed and fell onto it face-first. Apparently her self control and grasp of reality refused to function around him.

Crawling under her covers, she burrowed into them, trying not to think about what would happen tomorrow when she had to face him. Even so, she went to bed feeling rather nice; he had definitely kissed her back.



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