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Protection by PrincessPotter
Chapter 6 : Shadows of the Heart
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 98


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Harry sat silently on the sofa, watching the golden flames dance in the grate. Ginny sat in her usual position next to him with her back against the armrest and her feet propped against his thigh.

They hadn’t spoken much since they had sat down, which was fine with Harry. His jaw set, he’d replayed the events of the banquet over and over in his mind, each time growing more frustrated with his mistakes.

I should have known it wasn’t Dean, he thought, his fingers absently caressing Ginny’s ankle as he pictured his old friend leading her away. I should have seen it.

He knew Ginny was unintentionally the reason he hadn’t paid enough attention. His infatuation with her had made him sloppy…had put her in danger.

Looking over at her, he watched as she took a sip of her tea. Her eyes were trained on the fire and she looked tired, still unsettled from the evening’s events.

His thoughts went to when she’d broken down in her room. His guilt over allowing her to be so afraid surged to the surface and his grip tightened on her ankle.

Feeling the pressure of his touch, Ginny’s eyes slid to where his hand was wrapped around her leg.

With a jolt, Harry realized where his hand was and pulled it away with a silent curse. Ripping his eyes from her face, he stared into the fire, avoiding her gaze when she looked up at him.

Shite.

Suddenly, someone began pounding on the door, throwing Harry’s heart into his throat. He shot up from the sofa, his body tense and his wand flying into his hand.

Gesturing for Ginny to stay where she was, he crossed the room to see who it was. Peering through the eyehole he found Ron and Hermione standing in the hall.

While he watched Ron reached up and knocked again.

“Harry, open up!”

“Go to your room, Ginny,” Harry ordered looking over as he felt her approach.

“But it’s…”

“Go to your room,” he barked in a tone that made her stop.

She saw the fire in his eyes, the way his body was alert with tension. The impulse to protest faded quickly, overridden by trust in him.

“Ok,” she nodded before she headed down the hall, glancing back at him when she reached her door.

Harry watched her disappear inside before he turned back to the door. After the banquet he wasn’t assuming anyone was who they appeared and he certainly wasn’t going to let Ginny stay in the room when he was potentially outnumbered.

“Harry?!” Ron pounded again. “Come on!”

“What’s your Patronus Ron?” Harry called, watching the pair’s reaction through the eye hole.

“Oh, come on, Harry,” Hermione said in exasperation.

Harry watched her step forward and glare at the eyehole with her hands on her hips.

“Malfoy would know the answer to that! Ask something else!”

Harry’s lip curled up as she continued.

“Honestly, Harry! Ask us something only you would know not something all of Hogwarts would…”

“Hermione,” Ron interrupted, pulling her back. “He knows how it works, let him think! And who would remember my Patronus anyway? It’s not a terrible question. Malfoy wouldn’t remember surely…it’s really not that…”

“Don’t you dare say that it isn’t impressive, Ronald,” Hermione interrupted, rounding on him. “Most wizards can’t even produce one! A Jack Russell Terrier is nothing to…”

“Do you two want to hear my question?” Harry called through the door and they immediately fell silent and spun around. “It’s for Hermione.”

“Well go on then, we’re here to see Ginny not you.”

Harry smirked despite himself. If she wanted a question that only he knew the answer to, he could certainly provide her with one.

“What did you tell me, Hermione, that night in London last year about Ron? About how…” He trailed off as he watched her eyes widen and she took a quick step forward.

“I am not…” she shot a glance at Ron before glaring at the peephole once more. She rose up on her toes so that all he could see was her face. “I am not answering that. Harry,” she hissed.

“What did you say?” Ron asked, watching with growing interest as Hermione’s cheeks turn scarlet.

“That was between you and me, Harry! I can’t believe…” Hermione just about stomped her food and Harry laughed out loud. “Oh, I’m going to hex you into next week when you open this…”

She snapped her mouth shut when the door swung open. Harry was grinning at her and she swatted his shoulder as she moved past him.

“What did she say?” Ron asked as Harry shut the door behind him and put the wards back into place.

“Where’s Ginny?” Hermione asked quickly, cutting off Harry’s response.

Ron looked around at the question before his gaze went back to Harry.

“In her room,” Harry answered, gesturing down the hall.

“Is she ok?” Hermione asked him softly as they followed Ron to her door.

Harry nodded and pushed his hands into his pockets. “Just frightened…as she should be.”

Hermione looked over at him sharply as Ron opened the door to her room and went in without bothering to knock.

Ginny shot up from her bed and took an automatic step back, but relaxed when Harry appeared behind them in the doorway.

Harry stayed back, leaning against the doorframe as he watched them. They both gave her a hug and spoke with her, making sure she was ok. Harry’s chest tightened as he watched her melt into her brother’s arms.

Pulling her down next to him on the bed, Ron draped his arm around her shoulder as he spoke to her. He had her shaking her head and smiling in no time.

For the first time in a long time Harry felt the guilty coils of jealousy begin to churn inside of him as he watched them. He wanted to be the one who was able to make her feel better.

Shoving down his feelings quickly, he dragged his eyes away from them and staring out the window instead.

After a few minutes Hermione stood and pulled Harry out of the room. Shutting the door behind her, she dragged him back to the kitchen where she rounded on him immediately.

“Are you ok?” she asked as she crossed her arms.

Harry nodded, shoving his hands into his pockets again. “I’m fine. It’s Ginny who…”

“Harry,” Hermione chided knowingly. “I know she means something to you, and I know how you get. It wasn’t your fault.”

Harry looked away from her.

“I just handed her over to him,” he admitted after a second. He shut his eyes and rubbed his face quickly in frustration as the image of Malfoy with his hand in her dress erupted in his mind for the thousandth time. The urge to rip him apart for touching her followed quickly behind it.

“You didn’t know it was him,” Hermione reminded him.

“I should have,” he countered harshly as he dropped his hands. Crossing to the refrigerator, he yanked it open. “Want something?” he asked as he pulled out a butterbeer, wishing for the first time in years that he had some Ogden’s.

“No thank you,” she answered.

Twisting off the cap, he took a quick drink as he pulled himself up onto the counter.

Hermione crossed to him and stood between his knees, resting her hands on his thighs as Harry stared at the bottle in his hands. She waited a few seconds for him to look up at her, but when he didn’t she started talking anyway.

“I know you won’t let anything happen to her, Harry. And she knows it, too. She trusts you.”

Harry just stared at the bottle in his hands and shook his head.

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

“So, how are you, really?” Ron asked.

“I’m fine,” Ginny shrugged.

Ron nodded, watching her closely for a second before he pulled her into another hug. Ginny stayed stiff for a second before she melted into him, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him back tightly.

“We’re going to find him, Gin,” he assured her as he stroked her hair.

Ginny nodded feeling the tears begin to threaten at his words. Resolutely, she blinked them back determined not to cry again.

“I was just…really frightened,” she said after a second. “The things he said…he’s mad, Ron.”

“I know,” Ron grimaced and pulled her closer for a second. “I’m so sorry, Ginny.”

“For what?”

Ron shifted back, holding her away with his hands on her shoulders as he looked down.

“Malfoy. He hates me. I just…” he shook his head and looked up. “If he didn’t know this would hurt me, he might have chosen…someone else,” he said quietly.

Ginny saw the guilt in his eyes and she wrapped her arms around his neck quickly, pulling him close.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Ron. This isn’t your fault. We don’t know why he chose me, but even if that was the reason, I know you'll work even harder to make sure nothing happens…because it’s me. I was scared tonight but I trust you.”

Ron gave her a squeeze before moving her away again.

“I want you to trust Harry, too.”

“I do trust him.”

Ron searched her eyes for a second before squeezing her shoulders and dropping his hands.

“He may be a bit off for a few days, extra protective; probably a bit short with you. Just let him do his thing, Ginny, until he gets over it.”

“Gets over it,” Ginny repeated softly.

“I know him. He’s going to blame himself for this. He let you down.”

“But he got there,” Ginny replied and Ron nodded.

“Still…he’s going to blame himself…trust me.”

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

“So, about this kiss,” Hermione said, changing the subject with a hint of smile.

Harry’s head shot up.

“What are you going to do about it?” Hermione asked, ignoring the expression on his face.

“Um, nothing. I…there’s nothing to…” he trailed off at her expression and took another drink for his bottle.

How does she know about that?

“She cares for you, Harry,” Hermione said, squeezing his thigh. “This could be something good for you.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed as he stiffened. “Good for me and deadly for her,” he said in a hard voice.

“What does that…”

“Getting involved with her puts her in danger,” Harry insisted.

"Harry, don't be ridicu..."

"I'm not," Harry cut her off harshly. “I’m completely serious. Do you know why I handed her over tonight? Why I didn’t notice anything was off with Dean?”

Hermione shook her head in confusion. “No.”

“Because I wasn’t paying attention,” he bit out, slamming his bottle onto the counter next to him. “I was too bloody distracted by how she felt and how much I wanted to…to…” he trailed off as he shook his head. “I can’t get attached. If I get attached I can’t do my job.”

“Harry,” Hermione soothed, “you’re already attached.”

“Exactly! And look what happened! I need to take a step back. I need to stop.”

Harry.”

“I can stop,” he insisted as he glared at the floor.

“You don’t have to stop your feelings to do your job. Tonight was a mistake. He wasn’t supposed to be there. He wasn’t supposed to be able to get in, let alone attack Dean and get near her without anyone noticing,” Hermione insisted. “It wasn’t your fault. You can do your job without…”

“Without what?” Harry demanded, pushing off the counter and crossing to the other side of the kitchen. He didn’t want to talk about this. He didn’t want to hear Hermione’s argument. He knew what had to be done. “Without staying professional? Without being at my best? What do you want me to do, Hermione? She comes first!”

“Yes, she does! And pushing her away when it’s obvious you care about each other isn’t putting her first!”

Harry gaped at her in disbelief for a second.

Did she miss the part about my emotional involvement hindering my judgment and putting her in danger?

“Shite, Hermione!” he exclaimed throwing a silencing charm over the kitchen. “What's wrong with you? You’re acting like this is some sort of bloody courtship! I'm doing what needs to be done to protect her!”

Hermione just raised her eyebrow, holding his gaze as his green eyes flashed angrily at her. She hadn’t been frightened by his temper in years.

“Harry," she said firmly, holding her ground. "You’re doing what needs to be done for yourself because you’re afraid of her.”

“I am not afraid of her,” Harry scoffed.

“You're afraid of your feelings,” she insisted. “You care about her and she cares about you! Why are you fighting that?”

Harry gestured with his hands in frustration for a second before he found his voice.

“Because it’s my job to protect her! I can’t do that if my feelings are in the way! What am I supposed to tell her family or Ron or myself if my mistakes get her killed? Do you have any idea what happened tonight?!”

He ran a hand though his hair as once again the image of Malfoy’s hand on her flashed through his mind.

“You have no idea what it felt like to see him touching her!”

His words hung in the air as he squeezed his eyes shut, his hands curling into fists as he tried to bring his insides under control. He ran both hands through his hair. When he spoke again his voice was tight, his jaw clenched.

“He could have taken her right then and I couldn’t stop him. It was my fault.”

“Harry,” Hermione began, but she stopped as he advanced on her until she had to look up to keep his gaze. His eyes were dark and intense with emotion. She knew he cared for Ginny but the depth of what she saw startled her.

“It can’t happen again, Hermione! I couldn’t think! I couldn’t see straight! I will NOT GET HER KILLED BECAUSE I’M DISTRACTED! I LOVE HER TOO…”

Hermione’s eyes widened as Harry snapped his mouth shut. She watched the rage on his face replaced by confusion and panic in an instant before he spun away from her.

Oh my God, he thought as he ran his hands through his hair.

“Shite. I…I didn’t mean…I meant…” he trailed off and took an unsteady breath. He was in love with her. The realization hit him like a bludger to the stomach and for a second he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

I’m in love with Ginny.

He rolled the words around in his head as her face flashed in his mind.

Obviously, you’re in love with her, his mind seemed to taunt him. How could you not be? She’s everything you want.

Harry bit back a groan as he covered his face with his hands. He tensed when he felt Hermione’s hand on his back.

“Harry…”

“Don’t, Hermione,” he managed, shaking his head. “Bugger. What am I going to do?” he mumbled into his hands.

How am I supposed to keep from being distracted by her now?

He took another breath to steady his insides.

I’ll ignore it, he thought. He felt Hermione rubbing his back and he turned around. “Don’t tell Ron.”

Hermione nodded her head.

“I mean it. No one hears anything about this. I didn’t say it and I don’t mean it. This is a job.”

Hermione could see the panic in his eyes and took hold of his forearm.

“You did mean it, Harry, but it isn’t the horrible situation you're thinking. This is not like your parents…not like Sirius. Loving her protects her. It doesn’t hurt her.”

She pursed her lips in frustration when Harry merely shook his head.

“Have you ever considered that trying to ignore your feelings…trying to stay away from her is an even larger distraction than being with her?” she asked shrewdly.

Harry blinked at her, trying to untangle what she had said through the fog that was his brain. He shook his head vaguely.

“She’ll distract me. I…” he ran a hand over his face covering his eyes as he continued. “If I allow myself to be with her, I won’t be paying attention. I doubt I’ll see anything even if I come up for air,” he managed.

Hermione brought her hand to his now red cheek.

“You’re wrong, Harry,” she insisted gently. “She isn’t distracting you. You’re distracting yourself. You can’t just turn off your feelings. If you want to try to ignore what you feel, fine. Try that. But it isn’t going to work and the harder you try, the more distracted you’re going to be.”

Harry’s eyes snapped open and he stared at her.

More distracted? Is that even possible?

“Ginny’s going to see straight through you,” Hermione said, jerking him out of his thoughts. “She’s smart. My guess is she already knows. Trying to hide it or fight it is only going to hurt her. You need to work this out before you really are distracted. One way or another, trying to ignore your feelings is only going to end with her being hurt.”

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

Harry felt sick. He was going to see Ginny any minute. The very idea caused his stomach to tighten in knots. Hermione had left him in the kitchen a few minutes before to think about what she had said.

Now he sat on the sofa, his hands clamped tightly onto the cushions as he waited for them to join him.

They’ll be in here any second. Then what?

He shut his eyes and leaned his head against the cushions.

I love Ginny.

He almost laughed out loud at the thought.

How had I let this happen? What am I going to say? How am I supposed to act? What if she can see it?

Hermione’s words rolled around in his head. He tried to shove them away, but they seemed to be stuck on repeat.

You can’t just turn off your feelings…She’s going to see straight through you…You’re wrong, Harry…

He opened his eyes reluctantly when he heard Ginny’s door open. All too soon, his friends were making their way down the hall toward him. Ron and Hermione seemed to have decided to go ahead and leave. Harry wasn’t sure whether to be happy that he didn’t have to talk to Hermione anymore or upset that they were leaving him alone with Ginny. He avoided both Ginny and Hermione’s eyes as he got up and headed to the door. He lowered the wards and opened the door for them.

“Take care of her,” Ron said as he shook his hand and Harry nodded but remained silent.

Hermione gave him a hug and kissed him on the cheek as she passed. “I know you’ll work it out,” she said softly in his ear, giving him a look before squeezing his hand and following Ron out.

When the wards were back in place, Harry turned around. He eyed Ginny warily. She had settled onto the sofa again with her back to him. He shoved his hands into his pockets and crossed to her slowly. She looked up at him with a smile when he came around the side of the sofa.

“Where’s your wand,” he asked, looking away from her eyes quickly, afraid she would be able see into him.

“Um…in my room I think,” she answered, furrowing her brow. She watched as he turned away and headed down the hall. Picking up her tea, she took a sip before grimacing at the cold temperature. She swirled the liquid around, looking up when Harry came back in holding her wand.

“I want you to keep it with you at all times,” he ordered as he handed it to her.

Flicking his wand at her tea to heat it, he sank down next to her on the sofa. Suppressing a sigh, he stretched out his legs and leaned his head back on the cushions. He was a little surprised by how easily he settled into their normal position. Since Ron and Hermione had walked out the door, the urge to hide in his room had been in the forefront of his thoughts.

He heard her chuckle as she shifted beside him. Curiously, he rolled his head over to the side so that he could see her.

She was mirroring his position as she gazed at him, her cheek on the cushions. “At all times,” she repeated, mimicking his serious tone with a smirk. “Should I sleep with it, Harry?” she suggested with a laugh. “Shower with it, obviously, I suppose…”

She continued to rattle off random situations where she might need it, but Harry had stopped listening as soon as she conjured the image of her showering in his brain.

Bare and wet and…damn…

He swallowed and dropped his eyes to her lips, shutting off his thoughts and watching them as they moved instead. It didn’t help. He forced his throat to swallow as he watched the way they curled up on the right side, creating a tiny dimple on her cheek whenever she thought of another scenario.

When the urge to lean over and silence her with a kiss became too strong he dragged his eyes back up to hers. He watched them sparkle at him as she talked. By this time she was rambling happily about something Ron had said concerning their mum. He could still sense the earlier uneasiness lurking in the background though and she trailed off when he said her name.

“Yes?”

“You should be sleeping,” he said, watching the levity slip from her eyes a bit.

“I told you, I don’t…”

“…feel like sleeping,” he finished for her with a nod. “I know.”

As if watching someone else, he saw his hand reach out and finger her neck before he cupped her cheek in his palm. He was positive his hand had a mind of its own because he certainly knew that touching her was the last thing he needed to be doing. Even so, he didn’t pull away and neither did she.

“But you should sleep anyway,” he insisted, knowing he needed to get her out of the room before it was too late. “Rough day…”

She tilted her cheek into his hand as she closed her eyes. “Yeah…”

Opening her eyes slowly, she held his gaze as she turned her head and kissed his palm.

Harry felt the tingles shoot up his wrist at the contact before he snatched his hand away.

Ginny saw the difference in him, the affection that had been present, and so clear in his eyes during their moments at the banquet was hidden now, held back and replaced with something else. She suddenly realized Ron was right.

When Harry started to stand up she caught his wrist.

“Harry…”

He tensed, but sank back onto the sofa. He didn’t look at her. Instead he stared down at her hand as her thumb caressed his wrist.

“I don’t want you to blame yourself for what happened,” she said.

Harry looked over at her in surprise before looking back down at their hands.

“I know I was awful to you before,” she said as she shook her head. “But I don’t blame you. I was just frightened…”

Harry nodded and after a second she turned his head with her hand so that he was looking at her. Their gazes locked and they stared at each other. Her fingers were soft on his skin as she held him in place. She didn’t really need to hold him, though, because he couldn’t bring himself to move anyway.

“I’m serious,” she insisted softly.

“I know,” he said simply, forcing a smile. “I don’t blame myself,” he lied and she dropped her hand.

“Liar,” she breathed, tucking her legs under her as she shifted closer. “You’re different. You’re distant now. You think it was your fault.”

Harry dropped his eyes, unable to look at her, unnerved by how well she read him.

“It was my fault, Ginny.”

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned into him, resting her chin on his shoulder. Harry kept his body still, trying not to betray any emotion, but at the same time, reluctant to push her away. She was just so damn sweet and comforting and warm as she pressed against him. His hands itched to touch her but he held them in place.

“This was Malfoy’s fault,” she said into his ear and he took a deep breath, letting her flowery scent envelop him. “This was, and is, all Malfoy’s fault. You got there. You got there and I’m fine. I know you won’t let anything happen to me.”

“He should never have gotten that close to you. He scared you…and touched you,” Harry said as he looked over at her, his voice raw as he forced out the last part.

This time it was Ginny who looked away, dropping her gaze as she nodded slightly.

“Still,” she said softly. “Still,” she repeated more forcefully as she pushed the memory of Malfoy’s hands on her away. “It doesn’t matter, Harry. What happened wasn’t because of you. I need you to trust yourself. You need to know that it wasn’t your fault. I trust you.”

She kissed his cheek and ran her hand down his neck before she stood up and headed down the hall to bed. He watched her disappear into her room before he dropped his head back onto the cushions and closed his eyes.

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

Acting normal around Ginny ended up being much easier than Harry anticipated. He’d been walking around in love with her for weeks, so having a name to put with his feelings didn’t really change them.

If anything, he only became more paranoid. He never allowed her any slack at work or anywhere else on the rare occasions they actually went somewhere. The only time he let his guard down was when they got back to the flat. It was only here that he allowed her out of his sight.

At the moment he was in the kitchen while Ginny sat on the sofa in the other room. She was reading her book, but she wasn’t absorbing much of what was on the page. Instead, she was staring blankly at the words in front of her as her mind traveled back to earlier in the day.

She was leading the way down a hall in St. Mungo’s on the way to see one of her patients. As they approached a set of double doors, Harry grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop. Before Ginny could ask what was going on, the doors burst open.

She tried to see who was coming through, but Harry thrust her into the wall, shielding her with his body. Her hands clamped onto his sides as he pressed his back into her. He blocked her from the on-coming group of wizards as they streamed noisily through the doors.

It turned out to be an emergency unit, rushing an older wizard in on a stretcher. They called for help, but Harry kept her backed into the wall. In case it was a diversion, his wand remained ready. He didn’t relax until the group had disappeared around the corner.

Ginny didn’t move even after the hall was deserted. Her hands caressed his sides absently and she reveled in the feeling of him pressing into her. When Harry finally moved, he didn’t go far. He simply turned around to face her. He was close, distractingly close. Ginny tilted her head back to see him as her hands moved impulsively to his hips.

“Can’t be too careful,” he said softly and she nodded. She watched his eyes cloud and her body tensed with anticipation as he moved closer, invading her space…


“Want anything?” Harry called from the kitchen, jerking Ginny out of her thoughts.

“No, thanks,” she called back.

Seconds later, Harry entered the room and plopped down next to her on the sofa. She watched him as he pulled the top off his butterbeer and took a drink.

He was confusing her. This was just the latest of moments when they seemed to be on the verge of something, only for Harry to pull away. She was sure he’d been about to kiss her in the hospital. But as quickly as he began, he pulled back. Instead of following through, he took her hand and led her down the hall instead. He didn’t speak for nearly an hour afterward.

Now, once more they sat in silence as they read. Ginny’s feet were against Harry’s thigh. His hand felt large and warm where it rested casually on her ankle. The weight of his touch was comforting. It made her feel safe. He made her feel safe.
It wasn’t long before Ginny abandoned her book, leaned her head against the arm of the sofa and closed her eyes instead. Her frustration with Harry’s behavior and the situation in general were starting to get to her.

It was laughable, really; all this trouble because she was a virgin. She bit her lip to suppress a giggle that bubbled up unexpectedly. After all, it really wasn’t funny.

Feeling Harry massage her ankle, she opened her eyes. He was still reading. She doubted he even realized his hand was moving, but she did. She felt it. Every caress, every pressure, even through her jeans it was like fire. She shut her eyes again as the sensation filled her, bringing with it familiar memories.

Suddenly she was back in her common room with Julien. He had caressed her like this. She frowned slightly unsure where the comparison came from.

Why am I thinking of him?

After a moment she figured it was inevitable. Why wouldn’t her thoughts move to the one person who could make this whole situation disappear? Willingly she gave in to the memories, letting Harry’s touch take her back…

Ginny let her eyes close at the feeling of Julien’s hand moving on her leg. She didn’t even think he realized what he was doing, but she felt it. His hand was large and warm on her skin as he traced his fingers absently along her ankle and up onto her calf. His touch always affected her. It warmed her and filled her with a strange combination of security and want that only he could give her.

She bit her lip, rolling her head to the side as he squeezed her calf before going back to lazily massaging her ankle. Her skin erupted with goose bumps when he trailed his fingers down her skin. She almost smiled when his hand slowed to a stop, knowing he’d noticed her body’s reaction to him. Instead of an outward response, she laid still, keeping her eyes closed.

She knew what was coming. She felt him shift and really did smile when he leaned over her and begin kissing her neck.

“Cold?” he asked against her skin. The amused smugness in his voice was apparent.

Ginny opened her eyes briefly and stole a glance at him, her features schooled into an aloof expression as she took in his satisfied grin. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean by that.”

Her eyebrow rose playfully as she closed her eyes once more. His grin only widened as she feigned indifference to his touch. Her lip twitched as she turned her head to the side.

Ignoring her attempts to disregard his advances he nuzzled her neck with his nose.

“You know exactly what I mean, Ginevra,” he murmured in her ear. He ran his hand up and down her thigh. “You’re body always betrays you.”

Ginny’s eyes snapped open. “That is so not…” she began but he caught her smart remark with his kiss.

They were in the middle of the common room. They couldn’t really do more than kiss, but it didn’t matter. The feeling of his lips on hers was heaven and she moaned softly as he moved back down to her neck.

She breathed his name and he bit her skin lightly. “H-”


“What are you thinking about?” Harry asked, giving her ankle a squeeze.

Ginny’s eyes flew open to find him gazing at her, his book abandoned in his lap.

Flushing automatically at the question, she shut her eyes again. She sighed when he repeated his question, amusement and slight confusion lacing his tone.

“Just…just about how stupid this whole thing is really,” she answered, feeling his hand begin to caress her ankle again. “And Julien.”

Harry perked up at the name and he furrowed his brow. “Who?”

Ginny shook her head and opened her eyes. “No one, really. Just…” she trailed off with a huff and shifted. She was beginning to get a headache and she certainly didn’t want to talk about this with Harry.

Ginny’s hand found her hair and she looked into the fire. “I just…it’s just so stupid. All this trouble because I’ve never…”

“Never what?” Harry asked sitting straighter now.

“Never had sex,” she admitted. “I mean, if I knew this was going to happen, I would have just gotten it over with…”

She met his eyes when she heard him choke back a laugh. He squeezed her ankle again and smiled before he returned to rubbing his hand in lazy circles, trailing his fingers over her skin.

“And this…Julien,” Harry suggested. “He’s who you would have ‘gotten it over with’, with?” He tried to keep his tone light but just saying it made Harry feel slightly ill. His stomach turned over and his jealousy flared at the thought of her doing anything with anyone other than him.

Ginny rolled her eyes, moving her feet up onto his lap as she shifted down into the cushions. “Yeah,” she admitted blushing slightly. “I mean, I guess so. He’s the only one I would ever have…I mean, I’ve dated other people obviously and…I mean… it’s just that Julien was…it’s not like I’ve never done anything but…” Harry’s hand twitched and her blush deepened.

She knew she was rambling, but she couldn’t seem to stop and she felt the blood rushing up her neck to her face. She clamped her mouth shut and covered her face with her hands. “Never mind…it’s weird…”

“What’s weird?”

“This conversation. I just…I don’t want to talk about this with you,” she mumbled into her hands.

Harry squeezed her leg. “I told you about Cho,” he reminded her. For reasons he refused to contemplate, he really wanted to hear about this Julien. “Were you together at school?”

Ginny nodded before lowering her hands. “Yeah, towards the end,” she said, beginning to smile reluctantly at the memories. “I think I liked him forever though. He was older than me and I had such a crush on him. He barely knew I existed, of course.”

“I highly doubt that,” Harry replied, but she just shook her head with a laugh.

“No, I’m serious. I was just a clumsy, shy little girl to him.”

Harry listened as she told him how they slowly became friends. Then as the years passed they eventually became more.

Harry had a hard time picturing her as the shy, awkward girl she claimed to have been around this guy. He also couldn’t help the jealousy he felt as he watched her mouth curling into a smile as she thought back. Maybe he didn’t want to know about this Julien fellow.

“So, what happened?” he interrupted her a few minutes later, his voice tight.

“Sorry?” she blinked at him.

He was suddenly feeling rather grumpy. The litany of Julien’s exceptional qualities and the snippets of her tender moments with him had given him a headache. “If he was so marvelous, why aren’t you still with him?”

“Oh,” Ginny answered. She heard the sarcasm in his voice and watched as his eyes seemed to flash at her before he looked away. His hand was roaming higher now, running up and around her calf before sliding back to her ankle.

He really needs to stop doing that if he expects me to focus.

“We…we had a giant row about something and that was it really…” she trailed off for a second as unexpected emotion rushed into her. Her throat tightened as she realized she didn’t even remember what the fight had been about. “We lost touch after that.”

“Ah,” Harry said softly. She had obviously loved him. He could tell by the way she talked about him. Great, he thought sourly. She loved him and she didn’t have closure. “What was the row about?”

When she didn’t answer he looked over at her but she wasn’t looking at him. She was frowning into the fire, furrowing her brow. “You know…I don’t even remember,” she said with a soft laugh. “It was something very important at the time, I’m sure…”

“Do you miss him?” he asked, and she looked over at him. His heart was suddenly pounding as he held her gaze, waiting for her answer.

“No. Not really. I guess I miss some things, but I don’t want to be with him now, if that’s what you mean,” she answered. There was something in her eyes, something Harry didn’t quite understand. He felt like she was trying to tell him something but he didn’t know what so he dragged his eyes away from hers.

The conversation died quickly after that. Ginny closed her eyes again as Harry went back to his book. He slid his hand down to Ginny’s foot, rolling his fingers over her ankle before sliding his hand inside of her jeans.

Ginny turned her head to the side and stared into the fire, her thoughts still back at Beauxbatons as she felt Harry’s hand on her skin. She bit her lip and shut her eyes as memories flooded her.

“Ginny!” Julien called. She didn’t look around but she heard him running up behind her. She was standing by the lake, watching the sun turn the water into a fiery rainbow as it set. When he reached her, he slipped his arms around her waist. “Where have you been? I was looking for you.”

“I was here.”

He turned her around, keeping his arms draped around her waist. “You know I don’t like it when you disappear. It’s dangerous.”

Ginny didn’t respond. His hair was windswept, his cheeks flushed from running. She rose up and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him lazily. Julien pulled her closer as he took control of the kiss. He stroked her tongue with his until she moaned softly, pushing closer. Part of her still didn’t quite believe this was happening, that she was with him. She felt like she’d been waiting for this forever.

After a few minutes more, she pulled back, a small smile playing on her lips.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I knew you’d find me though, and I didn’t feel like listening to Maurice’s prattling anymore.”

“Was he bothering you again?” Julien asked, his grip tightening slightly.

“No more than usual. Nothing he hasn’t said before…it’s not a big deal. I just didn’t feel like getting another detention and I knew that was where it was heading if I didn’t leave,” she said with a smirk and he kissed her again.

“A well-placed bat-bogey hex would have been nice though,” she mused between kisses and he chuckled against her lips.

She knew that in a few seconds he would take her hand and they’d walk around the lake like they always did, but today she didn’t feel like it. She didn’t want to talk for hours; she just wanted to kiss him and not think so she pulled him closer.

“I love you,” she said against his lips and she felt him smile before he pulled back.

He brought his hand to her cheek as he gazed down at her and then, all at once, everything changed. His brown eyes shifted to a deep emerald as his face transformed into Harry’s. Their cloaks were black now and her eyes flicked to the large gothic castle behind them.

“I love you too, Gin,” Harry said softly, bringing her focus back to him before catching her lips in a hungry kiss…


Ginny blinked quickly as the memory faded and she brought her hands to her now pounding head.

Just Brilliant, she thought.

Harry had barged into her life and stolen her heart in one fell swoop and now he was taking over her memories too. She couldn’t even think of an ex-boyfriend without subconsciously wishing it was Harry and she let out a groan without thinking.

Harry looked over at her and found her with her eyes shut as she rubbed her temples.

“Are you ok?”

She nodded but kept her eyes shut.

“Bloody headache,” she mumbled.

Harry frowned as he looked at her. She’d been complaining of headaches more and more recently. Come to think of it, he got a headache at least once a day now. He knew the stress of this whole thing had started to wear on her and he moved to shift her legs, only to find that his hand was trapped by her pants.

When had it gotten there?

He felt his face flushing as he quickly pulled it out.

As soon as he let go of her leg Ginny shifted off the sofa and stood up.

“I think I’m going to go lie down,” she said distractedly as she began to leave, but Harry caught her just before she reached the door.

“Are you ok? Do you want me to do a relief charm or something?” he asked.

Ginny shook her head. His closeness flooded her senses and the scene by the lake popped back into her head. She pulled out of his grasp quickly and it faded.

“I can do it,” she replied as she headed down the hall. She was used to her mind making up random scenes with them together but she didn’t like this. She didn’t like that her lust filled brain was starting to turn real memories into moments with Harry.

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

Several mornings later, Harry came to a stop in the doorway of the kitchen. He’d followed the smell of bacon from his room and crossed his arms over his chest as he took in the disaster zone that used to be his kitchen. It looked like a bunch of pixies had been let loose. Along with the rather staggering amount of bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes and other breakfast foods piled on the table in front of him, there were cartons and boxes, used bowls and spoons and what looked like flour thrown haphazardly around the counters and table.

Ginny stood in the center of the chaos with her back to him as she hummed softly. She was wrapped in her robe and had her hair piled on top of her head in a messy knot. She was in front of a skillet, making what Harry could only assume was an omelet, based on the chopped ingredients still piled around her.

The domesticity of the scene, of Ginny cooking breakfast in her pajamas flooded Harry with a feeling of intense comfort. It suddenly occurred to him how much he wanted this. He wanted desperately to wake up and find her cooking everyday and he leaned his head against the doorframe.

He felt more at home in this kitchen, at this moment, than he had since he’d moved in over a year ago. He probably felt more at home than he had felt anywhere ever, outside of Hogwarts or the Burrow.

The intense feeling of being home as he watched her enveloped him. It was almost like he could see her in her mother’s kitchen; almost like they were standing in the Burrow instead of his flat.

Before he knew it, his body was humming with want. His senses had focused solely on her and the room around him began to fade away.

He crossed the kitchen slowly, letting the sound of her voice envelop him. He smiled as he watched the way she bobbed her head slightly with the song she was humming.

God, I love her, he thought. I love everything about her.

Moving silently, he came to a stop behind her. She jumped with surprise when he slid his arms around her waist.

“Good morning,” he murmured in her ear and she smiled as she looked back at him.

“Morning.”

He kissed her cheek before he dipped his head. She tilted her head instinctively as he began to kiss her neck.

“This smells wonderful,” he murmured against her skin as her flowery scent surrounded him. He took the skillet and slipped it off of the burner before turning her around in his arms.

“Well I am the one making it,” she replied with a smirk as he raked his eyes over her, trailing his hands down her sides to her hips. “So obviously it would smell, and taste absolutely…”

Harry cut her off with a kiss, taking advantage of her open lips to slip his tongue inside. She moaned into his mouth as he drew her against him. They kissed hungrily as Ginny’s hands found his hair, pulling him closer.

“Can you cook for me everyday?” he asked breathlessly and she chuckled.

“Only if you always thank me like this,” she replied and he captured her lips again with a grin.

Ginny stroked his cheek before dropping her head back as he moved to her neck, kissing and nipping until he found her pulse-point. He could feel her heart pounding for him as he cupped her neck, titling her head farther back as he feasted on her. God, he loved her so much he could barely stand it.

“You’re my home. You know that, right?” he breathed when he suddenly pulled back. “This is home…”

The urge to have her consumed him as she mumbled her agreement, her eyes dazed with desire as she dragged them open. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen and he completely forgot that they were in the kitchen. He forgot about everything except how she felt as his hand found its way to the tie of her robe and his lips found hers again.

He groaned into her mouth as he pushed her robe off of her shoulders, eager to get rid of the barriers between them.

With a gasp Ginny broke away.

“Harry,” she moaned as his hand found her breast. “Harry, stop…”

“Why?” he grinned against her lips and she grinned back as she kissed him.

“We’re in my parent’s kitchen…”

Harry’s eyes flew open and his hand shot to his forehead. His head was pounding and he groaned as he sat up in his bed. He shut his eyes and pressed the palms of his hands against his eyes. His body was battling with the power that was churning inside of him; awoken by the dream. He gritted his teeth and forced it back. When he felt relatively normal again he yanked off his covers and threw his legs off the side of the bed. He rested his elbows on his knees and held his head in his hands.

This is just bloody brilliant, he thought with a groan.

For the past week his mind had tortured him endlessly with dreams of them together. It seemed even his own subconscious disagreed with his decision to stay away from her and it was punishing him severely for it.

By the week’s end, he was exhausted and drained from lack of sleep. He needed to get his mind and power under control or it wouldn’t matter whether he was distracted by her or not. He would either be too worn out, or too out of control to protect her, anyway.

Knowing it was useless to try to go back to sleep, he dragged himself off of the bed and over to the window to center.

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

Ginny woke much earlier than normal and stared at the ceiling. She felt restless as soon as she woke, but knew she would feel better when she wasn’t alone. It wasn’t that she was still frightened; not really. She knew nothing could happen to her in Harry’s flat but she wanted to find him anyway and she assumed he was up.

He was always up before her, sitting on his floor doing his meditation thing. She’d asked him about it once but he’d shrugged the question off, explaining vaguely that he’d picked it up in Auror training.

Wrapping her robe around her, she tied the sash loosely as she walked down the hall. She paused in Harry’s doorway and found him right where she expected. He was sitting on the floor facing the window, his legs crossed and his hands resting lightly on his knees. She watched him for a few moments, watching the way his back expanded with each breath, his muscles rolling slightly under smooth skin. His tattoo wagged its tale at her and she smiled despite herself.

She rested her temple against the doorframe, watching him for a second longer. The longing she’d grown so accustomed to over the last several weeks began to churn once again in her stomach.

Finally pulling herself away, she headed down the hall to the kitchen with a frown and put on some coffee. As she waited for it to brew she walked around the kitchen, trailing her fingers along the counter as she went. Without really thinking about it she crossed to the refrigerator and pulled out some eggs and butter before going to the cabinets and got out everything else she needed for a typical Weasley breakfast.

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

Harry’s heart stopped as his body tensed in panic when he reached the kitchen ten minutes later, the scene before him a disturbingly close recreation of his dream. There wasn’t half as much food or mess but the feelings that shot through him, the automatic comfort and want from before were there instantly.

His first instinct was to run from the room but he couldn’t seem to make his feet move. He stood frozen to the spot while he watched Ginny’s head bob as she hummed a tune.

It was like he fell into a trance or something. His brain shut down, his body moving on instinct as his dream began to become a reality, all thoughts of protection and professionalism lost in the haze as he began to make his way slowly across the room to her. He swallowed, raking his eyes over her as his heart thudded in his chest.

He came to a stop behind her and breathed in her scent. He wasn’t even sure how he could smell her over the food but he could. He started to slip his arms around her but he didn’t get the chance. Ginny spun around suddenly with a spoon and cried out in surprise at his close proximity.

Harry jumped at her sudden movement, his mind and body jerking back to the present as she lurched away instinctively. Her elbow hit the skillet behind her and she let out a curse as she jerked forward again.

She pushed Harry back as she grabbed her elbow, biting her lip.

“What are you doing?” she winced, trying to twist her arm up to see it.

Harry cursed under his breath and shifted her away from the stove.

“Hold still,” he said as he pulled her arm up, bending it at the elbow so he could see it. He shook his head at the red splotch on her skin.

Ginny stuck out her hand and her wand flew into it. She pulled out of his grasp and started to point her wand at her elbow but Harry just pushed her hand away.

“Harry, I’m the healer. I can fix this.”

“You can’t even see it,” he replied as he brought up his own wand and healed it quickly.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” Ginny said as she rubbed her elbow.

Harry looked up to reply but found himself unable to speak.

Her hair was messy, with a couple of strands that had escaped hanging around her face. She had a smudge of flour on her cheek. He brought his hand up, wiping it off with his thumb.

“Sorry,” he finally managed as he brought his eyes back to hers.

“It’s ok. I hope you’re hungry,” she said lightly as she turned back to the stove, taking the skillet off of the burner. She turned back around and moved past him to the table. “I may have gotten a bit carried away,” she added as she eyed the amount of food on the table, her hands on her hips.

Harry glanced at the piles of sausage, bacon and pancakes and grinned. He picked up the two plates that were out and handed her one.

“Are you going to cook for me everyday from now on?” he asked with a wink.

She laughed as she loaded up her plate.

“Only if you find another way to thank me,” she smirked, gesturing to her elbow as she took a step closer to him.

Her smile slipped a little as she saw his expression change.

“What is it?”

Harry blinked, trying to force his mind away from the image of how he’d been thanking her in his dream.

“Nothing,” he said quickly, piling eggs onto his plate and feeling his face begin to flush, “just dejavu or something.”

“Of this?” Ginny laughed, taking a step closer. “Have you burned me lately, Harry?”

“No,” he mumbled, keeping he eyes on the table as she invaded his space. The urge to show her what he had been imagining was suddenly overwhelming and his grip on the serving spoon tightened.

“Then what’s familiar?” she asked, her brow furrowed at the abrupt change in him. His body was tense, his jaw working as his eyes fell shut. “Harry?”

She touched his arm and he jerked, dropping the spoon. It hit the bowl with a clang as he set the plate on the table. His arm shot around her and he pulled her against him as he kissed her.

Ginny let out a squeak of surprise before she melted into him, dropping her plate onto the table. Her arms went around his neck as her body erupted into fire. They groaned together in relief at the contact as the kiss became hungrier.

Harry pushed her back until she hit the counter with a gasp. He lifted her up onto it in an instant, moving in between her legs as she pulled him closer. He grabbed her thighs and pulled her against him, wrapping her legs around him before moving his hands up her body.

Ginny moaned softly into his mouth as their tongues met each other, dancing together as they gave in to their attraction. Moving one hand to the counter behind her, she held herself up as he pressed against her.

Harry couldn’t think. She felt so great as he kissed her, felt her. After a minute he dragged his mouth away, his body protesting and his breathing shallow.

“We, we shouldn’t be doing this,” he managed even as he brought their lips back together. Ginny groaned in response and he kissed her harder, molding her to him.

“Why not?” she panted as he moved to kiss her neck and she dropped her head back.

“I…I can’t…I have to protect…” he managed between kisses. Inside Harry was fighting a losing battle as his thoughts raced around in his head.

Ginny was on fire, her skin burning where he touched her and she tried to pull him closer.

“Oh God,” he groaned into her throat, “we…we need to stop…I can’t do this…this isn’t good.”

“It’s not?” she asked breathlessly, pushing her hips against his and he pulled her more firmly against him with a groan.

“No…I mean yes…I mean…” he brought his head up and kissed her. “It’s a job…It’s just a job,” he managed. As soon as the words came out he wanted to take them back. He felt her stiffen and a second later she shoved him away.

“It’s just a job?”

He saw the hurt flash in her eyes as she slid off the counter.

“Wait, Ginny, no, I didn’t…” Harry moved forward but she pushed him off.

“Don’t touch me,” she said in a low voice as she walked stiffly out of the kitchen. She ran a hand through her hair. It’s just a job? She wasn’t even sure if she completely understood what he meant by that but she knew she was insulted by it. Bloody Aurors. Bloody Harry.

Harry ran a hand through his hair and cursed as he followed her. “Ginny,” he said catching her arm and spinning her.

“It’s just a job?” she demanded instantly. “I’m just a job?”

Not waiting for an answer she yanked her arm free and tried to walk away again.

Harry caught her, pulling her back to him. “No, Ginny,” he said, cupping her face, “no, I didn’t mean -”

“I’m not just some object you have to protect,” she bit out, hating the hurt that rang in her voice.

“I know, just let me…”

“Just stop ok?” she said trying to push his hands away.

“Ginny, let me explain…”

She pulled away, not listening and he grabbed her arms, dragging her back to him and kissing her, holding her to him as she struggled.

“You’re not just a job,” he said when he raised his head and pulled her against him, ignoring her attempts to break away. “You know you’re not just a job. I meant…ugh, Gin I meant that it should be just a job. It has to be just a job,” he said as he moved her away from him and cupped her cheek. “I can’t. I can’t get attached…”

He watched her eyes change and he realized Hermione was right; he was going to hurt her. He wanted to be wrong. He wanted to be reckless and be with her but he couldn’t. He had to put her first.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed, his chest beginning to ache. He ran his thumb over her cheek. “I want…if I could I…”

Ginny put her fingers over his lips as she stared at him.

“You can’t get attached?”

He opened his mouth to respond but nothing came out. After a second he shut his eyes and nodded, gritting his teeth.

“What happens if you get attached?” Ginny asked, furrowing her brow.”

“I make mistakes. I don’t pay attention…like the banquet.”

Ginny sucked in a breath.

We’re not together because of the banquet?

She thought he’d gotten over that.

Remaining silent for a moment, she searched his face before finally taking his hand. She led him across the room and pushed him down onto the sofa. Quickly sitting down next to him she tucked her legs under her as she studied his profile.

Harry sat like a statue, his body tense as he stared at the fire.

Ginny wasn’t sure how he’d made this all his fault but she sure wasn’t going to just wait for him to get over it like Ron suggested.

“You didn’t know it was Malfoy, Harry.”

Harry looked over at her, hearing the irritation in her tone. Her eyes were flashing at him.

“I should have known it was him,” he countered. “I should have noticed a difference and I didn’t. I was distracted.”

Her eyebrow rose at his statement and his stomach plummeted.

I shouldn’t have said that.

“You were distracted so you didn’t notice Malfoy?” she repeated.

He could see her mind working and he felt the sudden urge to flee the room.

“I…I know Dean, from Hogwarts. I should have seen, or heard, or felt the difference…I didn’t. It was my mistake and my fault.”

“Malfoy went to Hogwarts.”

“So?”

“He knew Dean too. He got into the banquet without anyone noticing, Harry. This was a calculated and planned attack, not a whim. He chose Dean for a reason. He knew how to talk and act to be him for those two seconds. You’re not a mind reader, Harry.”

He shook his head, trying to hold onto the guilt he knew was right, trying to fight the logic of her words.

“It doesn’t matter, Ginny. I knew Dean. I lived with him. If I’d been focused I’d have felt something was off!”

Ginny made a frustrated noise in her throat as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Well then, what was distracting you?”

Harry opened his mouth automatically to respond before snapping it shut again. Looking away from her quickly, he shifted uncomfortably as his face flushed.

“Well?” Ginny prompted when he didn’t answer.

Clearing his throat uncomfortably, Harry mumbled out an incoherent response as he avoided her eyes.

Ginny stared at him, her eyes narrowing as she tried to make sense of his reaction. Her mind whirled as she watched a muscle twitch in his jaw until understanding slowly dawned.

Ginny let out a surprised laugh, she leaned in, resting her hand on his thigh.

“Was I distracting you?” she asked, feeling his body go rigid beneath her touch.

Her annoyance was suddenly gone, replaced by anticipation, her body tingling as her heart sped up. She watched him swallow, his jaw clenched. Sensing his mounting desire to run, she shifted on the sofa quickly, slipping her knee over him so that she was facing him on his lap. She smiled when she saw the panic leap into his eyes.

“Ginny,” he croaked before she silenced him with a kiss.

Scooting forward on his lap, she wrapped her arms around his neck as they kissed. It only took a second for him to kiss her back, opening his mouth instinctively when she ran her tongue over his lip.

Harry groaned when she broke the kiss and moved her mouth to his ear, but he wasn’t sure if it was a groan of relief or disappointment. It was probably both.

“I’m going to explain this to you, Harry,” she murmured into his ear. “Are you ready?”

He shook his head and she smiled.

“You weren’t distracted by me at the banquet,” she said softly as she began to trail kisses along his jaw.

“Yes, I was,” he managed, his entire body coiled into a massive knot of tension as he fought to keep his hands to himself.

“Were you? What was distracting then?” she asked as she trailed kisses down his throat.

“How you…how you looked, and felt…and…and…” Harry couldn’t think, he could barely talk as she kissed him harder, shifting on his lap as she ran her teeth and tongue over his skin. His hands had found their way to her thighs and he pulled her closer. “How much I…I wanted to kiss you…”

“But you couldn’t,” she said against his skin. “Because it’s a job right? No getting attached.”

He nodded, a sound very close to a whimper escaping when she sucked lightly on the nape of his neck.

“And you’re Ron’s sister,” he said breathlessly causing her to freeze.

He dragged his eyes open when her lips left his skin. She moved her face up to his, their gazes locking. He bit back a groan as her lips tilted into a small smile.

“You seriously didn’t use Ron as a reason,” she demanded softly, shaking her head. “What am I going to do with you,” she murmured, leaning forward and teasing his lips with hers for a few seconds. When he began to kiss her back she pulled away causing him to groan slightly.

“So you wanted me, but thought you couldn’t have me,” she mused feeling his body tense at her words. His eyes flashed at her. “Poor Harry,” she murmured as she went back to his neck, speaking in between kisses as she began running her hands over his chest. “Stuck at that banquet, wanting me but thinking you couldn’t have me. Doing everything you could to ignore it, or talk yourself out of it…”

Harry was positive she was trying to kill him. His breath was getting labored; his heart was slamming in his chest as his head began to pound. Her hands and her lips seemed to burn him. But it was her words that were really killing him as everything he’d been feeling at the banquet rushed through him.

“Trying not to notice my dress, or the way I shivered when you touched me,” she said as she kissed her way around his throat.

He shifted automatically, tilting his head to give her more room, his mind unable to make his body cooperate.

“It must have been quite the battle to keep from giving in.”

“You have no idea,” he admitted and he groaned in relief when she brought her lips back to his. He kissed her hungrily, his tongue plunging into her mouth as his hands found her face, holding her against him.

“So when Dean came up,” she murmured against his lips, pulling back a little with a smile as he tried to bring their mouths back together. “You were distracted by trying not to kiss me?”

Harry nodded, his hand tangling into her hair and tilting her head back.

“So if you think about it, Harry,” Ginny gasped when he moved to her neck. “I wasn’t distracting you. You were distracting yourself…by trying to stay away from me.”

Harry froze for a second, absorbing her words before he laughed into her skin.

“What?”

“Nothing,” he said, shaking his head as he looked up at her. “It’s just that…it occurs to me that Hermione tried to tell me this.”

“Smart girl, Hermione,” Ginny smirked at him.

“Yeah, but you gave a much better explanation,” he replied, capturing her lips again.

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

On the other side of the country a lone man stood at a table. He was leaning over, resting his weight on his arms as he watched the scene in a mirror laying flat on the table below him. His eyes glinted as he watched the couple below, feeling antsy to get a move on. He wanted this finished. It was taking too long. If he wasn’t careful, he’d have to start looking for another virgin, and that was unacceptable. He wanted her.

“Malfoy?”

“What is it Nott,” Malfoy snapped, not raising his eyes from the mirror. It was large and round, with an ornate gold frame. The room was dark and it reflected the flickering of the two torches that were mounted on opposite walls of the room. After a second Malfoy pulled himself up and turned away from it, facing his friend. “What is it?” he demanded when Nott didn’t answer fast enough.

“Well, it seems we were incorrect about…” his voice faltered a bit as Malfoy’s face darkened and he began to move toward him. “About the potion,” he pressed on.

“What about it?” Malfoy demanded, his grip tightening on his wand.

“Well, we thought all we needed was a piece of you, but now it looks like it’s everyone. We need something from each…”

Nott crumpled to the ground with a cry as Malfoy hit him with a Cruciatus curse as he passed.

“No more mistakes. Get what you need,” he ordered before he slammed the door behind him, leaving his friend twitching on the floor.




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