The Sugar Quill
Author: Kirkis  Story: Dancing with Harry  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Dancing with Harry

Harry Potter books, and all characters therein are belong to J. K. Rowling, © 2001/2002 Warner bros. In short, they aren't mine, so please don't sue.
kkisblpeen@aol.com
http://kirkis-elf.com

Dancing with Harry
By Kirkis
A/N - part of this is sort of a songfic, if it sucks or is annoying at all, I'm sorry, it's my first songfic. This entire plotbunny was based on the David Bowie song from the Labyrinth "As the world falls down"

Getting ready

        Ginny sat in front of her vanity in the fourth years' dormitory of Gryffindor Tower. Even though she technically shared the vanity with Amelia Quinn, one of her yearmates, Ginny rarely used it. When she did, it was usually just to run a brush through her hair, or to make sure she didn't have any acne emergencies. But tonight was special. Tonight was Christmas night, and, due mostly to the popularity of the Yule Ball (with the girls,) it was decided that another should be held at Hogwarts this year. Thus, the Christmas Ball had been announced three weeks ago.

        But that wasn't what made tonight so special that Ginny felt compelled to sit in front of the vanity mirror and fret over whether she was wearing too much make up or not. She had good reason to want to look her absolute best tonight; Harry was her date to the ball. Harry, the only boy she'd ever really had eyes for. The boy who saved her life almost four years ago and then barely acknowledged her existence since. The boy she'd expected would never notice her.

        But he did, she reminded herself, feeling her heart thump hard in her chest. He had noticed her. He had asked her to the ball. Twice. He had asked her to the ball on the Hogwarts Express before there even was a ball, and then he asked her again just a week after the ball was announced. He told her he was worried she had changed her mind about the ball, that he was afraid she wanted to go with someone else.

        She sighed at her reflection in the mirror. Harry was too self-demeaning. He had to know that he'd always had her heart completely, even after four years.

        "Finished, Ginny?" asked Amelia. "I still need to fix my hair." Ginny gave herself a quick look and moved away from the mirror. Amelia had gorgeous hair; a long sheet of coal black, corn-silk fine hair flowing down to her waist. She had perfected a Shimmer Charm, which made her hair sparkle even if there was almost no light. She wanted to put the charm on Ginny's hair, too, but Ginny figured it would make her head look like it was on fire.

        Ginny stood beside the vanity sifting through the keepsake box where she and Amelia kept their earrings. The majority of them belonged to Amelia since most of Ginny's had been bought at the "Everything's a Sickle" store. She'd left them at the Burrow. The few she brought with her to Hogwarts were the ones that had been handed down to her by her mother and grandmother. They were among some of the few secondhand things she had that were worth something.

        She picked out a pair of white mythril earrings that belonged to Amelia. "Amelia, do you mind if I borrow these?" she asked, holding them out.

        "Not at all," Amelia answered, pulling a brush through her sleek hair. "Ginny?" she asked as Ginny put the earrings on. "You don't think you should wear a little rouge?" Amelia held up a small black case. Ginny snorted in a laugh.

        "No. Believe me, my cheeks will be pink enough on their own," she said, pulling out the one drawer on the vanity that was designated as hers. "Have you seen my grandmum's- Oh there it is." She retrieved a small crystal bottle with cloudy pink fluid inside. "My Grandmum's favorite perfume," she said, seeing the confused look on Amelia's face. "Fairy tears."

        "I didn't know you had that," Amelia commented as she finished putting a holding charm on her hair.

        "I've had it for years, but I've never used it. I love the way it smells. It's supposed to make you like a veela, where boys are helplessly attracted to you," said Ginny with a giggle. She held the bottle out for Amelia to smell. Amelia took a light sniff and a smile broke over her face.

        "Drat, I've already put on perfume!" she said, sounding disheartened. "You'll have to let me try some of that sometime. Sounds like great stuff, if boys treat you like a veela."

        "I don't think it really works," said Ginny daubing very conservative amounts on her wrists and neck. She didn't want to smell like a scarlet woman. "My Grandmum was almost thirty before she was married." She sat the bottle back down on the vanity and stepped away from Amelia, straightening her robes. "How do I look?"

        Amelia considered her for a moment, leaned over and tugged her robes a little to the left. "Perfect. You look like a million Galleons," she said. Ginny scoffed. "All right then," said Amelia. "You look good enough to make Greta Knobb pea-green with envy.

        "Now, that is a compliment," Ginny replied. "See you later," she added heading out the door. She headed up the spiral staircase to the fifth year girls' dormitory. She'd promised Hermione that she would walk down with her. She knocked twice, then pushed the door open. Hermione looked anything but ready to go. Parvati Patil was working hair potion into Hermione's hair. As for Hermione, she looked like she had just had a cry. Lavender Brown, who seemed undeterred by this, was busy suggesting what color eye shadow would look best with Hermione's robes.

        "Hi, Ginny," said Parvati in an exasperated sort of voice.

        "Not going well?" asked Ginny, stepping in and closing the door behind her.

        "No!" Hermione pouted crossly. At times like these, Ginny likened her to a cat that had fallen in water.

        "Your robes look wonderful," Ginny said thoughtfully.

        "That'll be the only thing," said Hermione.

        "Will you stop being so negative?!" Parvati snapped. "It's no wonder you can't get your hair to do what you want it to do! Just stop complaining and when I'm done your hair will look just as good as your robes," she added, setting down the bottle of hair potion and picking up her wand.

        Hermione's robes did look good, they were the same color as the ones she had last year, but were a little less floaty and more form fitting. Hermione thought they were too form fitting, but with a little persuasion from Ginny, (and from Parvati, though Ginny doubted Parvati's opinion did much to sway Hermione's decision) she decided to wear them.

        "By the way, Ginny," Parvati said, without taking her eyes off Hermione's hair. "You look marvelous." Ginny felt her cheeks grow a little warm. She didn't think she looked 'marvelous', better than average, maybe. As far as she was concerned, there was only so beautiful a freckle-clad, red-haired girl could look.

        "But, Ginny," chimed in Lavender. "You're not wearing any rouge," she said excitedly, brandishing a small black case.

        "No, that's okay," Ginny protested, holding her hands in front of her. "My cheeks'll do fine without it. They've got enough natural blush for three people." Lavender set her case down looking disheartened. "You don't have anything I could wear to stop me blushing, do you?" asked Ginny, sitting on the edge of Hermione's bed.

        "Blushing isn't a bad thing, Ginny," said Lavender, resting her chin on the back of her hand. "It makes boys think you're all sweet and innocent." A smile crept across her face. "So you can be blushing and Harry will just think you're embarrassed at something he's done or said, when you're really just thinking naughty things about him." Ginny blushed and Lavender exploded into giggles.

        "You're forgetting one thing, Lavender," said Parvati, fighting to keep a serious look on her face. "Ginny is sweet and innocent, I doubt she's ever had a naughty thought." She dissolving into giggles with Lavender. Ginny blushed even more. It was bad enough her own brothers had to tease her, but she didn't need older housemates to tease her as well.

        "Leave her alone, you two," said Hermione shooting a steely look at Lavender. "Are you almost done, Parvati?"

        "Almost," said Parvati, just getting control of her giggles.

        "Of course," Lavender started, with a devious look toward Hermione. Ginny thought she knew what was coming next and she was pretty sure she didn't want to hear it. "There's no telling the naughty things Hermione thinks about-"

        "I do not have naughty thoughts about anyone!" Hermione said sternly, turning her head toward Lavender, and having it promptly turned back toward the mirror by Parvati.

        "We all know you like him, why don't you just admit it?" asked Lavender in a haughty voice. Ginny knew all about this little game, though she'd never witnessed it. Hermione had told her enough times about Lavender and Parvati's merciless teasing and taunting ever since the row she'd had with Ron after the Yule Ball. But just knowing wasn't good enough for Lavender and Parvati. They wanted the confession, so they could burst into fits of giggles while Hermione blushed. Ginny wished they would stop, conversation about which girl liked what boy usually led to someone having a joke at her expense.

        "Is it done yet, Parvati?" Hermione asked again, obviously trying to change the subject.

        "No," said Parvati pulling all of Hermione's hair straight back. "I'll tell you when it's finished." Hermione looked like she was waiting for another comment or question about her romantic life, but it never came. Instead, talk turned to wondering what certain boys would be wearing, wondering if there would be any good slow dancing songs (Ginny preferred the faster ones, herself), and Lavender giving them a big spill about how she hoped tonight would be the night Seamus would finally kiss her.

        "Done," said Parvati, pulling the towel from around her robes. Hermione inspected her hair in the mirror. "Now, don't touch it, you'll muss it up and then I'll have to set it straight again," said Parvati.

        "It looks great, Hermione," Ginny said enthusiastically. Parvati really was good with hair. She had pulled Hermione's hair back and pinned it just above the nape of her neck, where it poured outward in lush, shiny curls. There was a pattern of wavy lines sculpted in her hair where it was pulled back, and long curls hanging at her ears. Hermione turned her head to get a side view. A smile slowly spread across her face as she looked.

        "It's beautiful," said Hermione. She turned abruptly to Parvati. "Thanks, Parvati," she said gratefully.

        "Well, everyone's ready then?" asked Lavender standing up. With a few last minute checks and confidence-boosting words, they headed out of the fifth year girls' dormitory and down the stairs toward the common room. Ginny was starting to feel very warm heading down the stairs.

Starting the evening

        There were still quite a few people waiting in the common room. It was a good half an hour until the ball would begin, so most of the people were just starting to leave. Ginny panned quickly around the room looking for Harry and Ron. They had started a chess game, but abandoned it when they noticed the girls.

        "Finally," Ginny heard Seamus Finnigan mutter as he got up from one of the armchairs near the fire. Lavender scowled but took his arm when he offered it. Dean Thomas awkwardly presented his arm for Parvati, which she took. They headed off toward the portrait hole.

        Ron nervously approached Hermione, and Ginny had to smile. Ron looked very handsome in his new dress robes. They were Evergreen, made out of silk with a very intricate pattern in velvet that curved and wound all around. They were cut much better than the ones he had last year, more manly, and they had real silver fastenings. Ginny didn't even want to think about how much Fred and George paid for them, or where they had gotten the gold.

        "Er," Ron started awkwardly. "You look nice."

        How original, thought Ginny. Hermione didn't seem to mind Ron's anti-climactic compliment. Maybe because Ron's ears were glowing red. Ginny could sympathize with him about that. She, like all Weasleys were unable to hide certain feelings, embarrassment being Ginny's least favorite. Their ears, cheeks and just about every other bit of exposed skin would give them away in a heartbeat. She'd gotten used to it, even if she didn't like it. She turned toward Harry, who's cheeks were showing the barest hint of pink. She wondered if he was trying to decide which awkward compliment to give her. Sometimes, even Harry was a dolt.

        "You look great," he said, his voice sounding a little higher than usual. Though she tried very hard not to blush, she felt her cheeks getting warmer. Thankfully, Ron (by accident, she was sure) provided a distraction.

        "Shall we go down?" he asked. He offered his arm to Hermione. Ginny didn't notice whether Hermione took it or not; Harry had followed Ron's lead and held his arm out for Ginny to take. She took his arm lightly, suddenly feeling like her arm contained ten times the nerves it had only ten second earlier. She started to feel warmth spreading across her face, and down her neck. She swore silently at her skin as they headed toward the portrait hole.

        For the first few minutes, no one said anything. Hermione and Ron walked just in front of Harry and Ginny. It was awkward to be walking down through the school with people Ginny knew so well and be so absolutely silent. Hermione, thankfully, broke the silence.

        "Lavender says they're gotten The Summoning to play this year, I've heard they're rather popular on the Wizard Wireless," said Hermione.

        "They're not really that good, they're just controversial," said Ron.

        "Why's that?" asked Harry. Ginny suddenly felt her cue, and spoke almost before she thought.

        "They play a few songs that are actually cover versions of Muggle songs," she said. "Some Purebloods don't like that."

        "Malfoy was saying he was going to get all the Slytherins to boycott the dance," Ron said happily. "Like that would be a bad thing!"

        "I wouldn't miss them. But honestly," said Hermione. "Muggle music isn't much different than Wizard music."

        "I know. Dumbledore always says music is a magic all to itself," said Ginny. "Besides, I like their music," she added.

        "Most girls do, as they only make mushy love songs," said Ron, getting a critical look from Hermione. "'Course, they're good to dance to," he added quickly.

        "Weren't they going to have a few dances before dinner?" asked Hermione.

        "Hope they don't have too many, I'm hungry," answered Ron with a grin.

        The conversation turned to other bands they could've gotten for the Christmas Ball, then to teachers Ron and Harry hated (Snape and Trelawney,) to the one Hermione disliked most (Delacour), to reasons why Fleur Delacour was one of the better Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers they'd had ("Easily the best looking," said Ron). Ginny stayed quiet here. She didn't much care for Madame Delacour. Not that she thought she was a bad teacher, and it wasn't because she didn't like a quarter-Veela, she couldn't exactly put her finger on it. Maybe because she was French, and Ginny had never had a very high opinion of the French. But she never held any open malice toward Madame Delacour, she even felt a little guilty that something about Fleur bothered her.

        The entrance hall was packed by the time they reached the top of the marble staircase. The doors to the great hall hadn't been opened yet. Ginny checked her watch: ten till eight. The Ball would begin at eight. There were no champions to open the Ball this year, and Harry was content to stay near the back of the crowd. After everything Harry went through last year, Ginny felt she had no right to object. Not that she would have objected; the back of the crowd was fine with her, too. They queued up behind a large group of Gryffindors, which included Parvati Patil and Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown and Seamus Finnigan, Ginny's own friends Amelia and Colin, and her other two brothers still at Hogwarts, Fred and George. They had dates, but were milling around far more casually than anyone else in the entrance hall.

        Perhaps Ginny's attention lingered on them a moment too long, because Fred seemed to feel her eyes on him and turned toward her. His eyes popped open wide in mock-surprise.

        "George, look," he said tapping his twin on the shoulder. George turned around and mimicked Fred's shocked look perfectly. "Our little sister's gotten herself a date," Fred added.

        "Knock it off, you two," said Ginny, giving them a glare of warning, and feeling her whole body start to grow uncomfortably warm as George chimed in.

        "Better keep an eye on her, Fred. Next thing you know she'll be going on Hogsmeade trips with him, holding his hand and sneaking off to an empty classroom with Harry to have a good-"

        "George! Knock it off!" To Ginny's great surprise, it was Ron who had interrupted him, not Hermione. She gave Ron a quick smile that was meant to express gratitude. She wasn't sure what shade of red she would've turned if George had been able to finish.

        "Oi, Fred, look! Ron's got a girlfriend," said George.

        "Ron's a lot quicker than Harry though," said Fred. "Bet he's already had plenty of-"

        "Fred!" Ginny interrupted, repaying Ron the favor. "Grow up," she muttered, turning her attention deliberately away from them, hoping they would lose interest.

        "Right, Fred," said George, doing an impersonation of Percy. "Ginny's much to old to be wasting her time with that sort of nonsense,"

        "Of course she is," said Fred in the same Percy voice. "I'll bet she spends her dates with him reviewing cauldron bottom reports," he finished. Ginny was glad he had shifted his teasing from her to Percy. They had been teasing Percy mercilessly for years, but Ginny always felt, even though she loved him, that Percy really asked for it most of the time. She dwelled for a moment on Percy. His reaction to everything last year had been a surprise. Though in retrospect, Ginny didn't think it was much of a surprise. Percy bought into what the Minister of Magic was saying, that Cedric's death and Harry's kidnapping from Hogwarts were masterminded by Sirius Black, and that Voldemort hadn't really risen. He also debunked Harry's testimony and chose to believe the lies Rita Skeeter had written about him.

        Ginny had her own theories, even if no one at home seemed to want to hear them. She believed Sirius Black had returned to his master, that he had kidnapped Harry and Cedric from the third Triwizard task under Voldemort's orders. There was no way she'd ever believe that Harry was either dangerous or disturbed. She knew first hand what it was like to be connected to something so heinous.

        There was a low creaking sound as the great oak doors leading into the Great Hall opened. The murmur of the crowd grew and mixed with the sounds of hundreds of feet shuffling. The noise echoed around the high arched ceiling of the entrance hall. Slowly the masses of students started filtering into the Great Hall. Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny all started to work their way toward the doors.

        "Oi!" shouted Fred. Ginny looked back to see Fred and George holding each other in their arms. Fred put on a high-pitched voice and turned to George. "Oh, Harry!"

        "Oh, Ginny!" replied George leaning forward and faking a long kiss with Fred. Ron snorted with laughter, but was silenced when Hermione stood on his foot. He gave her a nasty look as they headed through the door and Ginny suddenly felt fear take hold of her. What was she thinking going to the Ball with Harry Potter? Did she think no one would notice? She shuddered at the thought of what Malfoy would say.

        "Did you forget something, Ginny?" asked Harry, interrupting her thoughts. She turned toward him sheepishly, feeling a thick wave of warmth spread like lightening through her body. She knew every ounce of her skin was glowing a radiant red, and she hated it. Harry, however, didn't seem to pay it any mind. She forced herself to speak.

        "No, I didn't forget anything. I was… well, it's nothing, really," she concluded. "Ready to go inside?" she asked. Harry nodded and they both headed into the Great Hall. Ginny was glad Harry hadn't pried. She wasn't sure if she was prepared to tell him that she had gotten thoroughly embarrassed by Fred and George's antics. When she walked into the Great Hall, Fred and George were pushed out of her mind.

First dance, and Breaking the Ice

        The Great Hall was decked out in it's usual grandeur. Twelve trees lined the walls, and garland wrapped around anything that would stand still (and some things that didn't). But other decorations had been added for the ball. The entire hall was lit by Fairies, which floated in the air above the dance floor. Everything seemed to be covered in a silvery frost and there was mistletoe magically hung in the air here and there. Ginny felt a little queasy thinking about what might happen if she accidentally danced under one. The enchanted ceiling was sprinkling light snow over the entire floor and everyone on it. It seemed to disappear the moment it hit something solid. The four long house tables were gone, replaced by dozens of smaller round ones, much smaller than the ones at the Yule Ball; these only looked big enough for four.

        There was a strange mixture of perfumes and colognes in the air, which was making Ginny a little dizzy. The moment of truth arrived when The Summoning finished the song they had been playing when Harry and Ginny walked into the Great Hall. Harry led her a little shyly out onto the dance floor and took her hand in his, and placed his other uncertainly around her waist. She automatically put her free hand on his shoulder… And they were off.

        At first, Harry's movements were rather mechanical, as though he were still trying to learn where to put his feet. She hoped he would remember, that he would dance perfectly. Mostly for Harry's sake, though her feet would be happy if he didn't step on them. After a few moments without incident, Harry's dancing seemed to smooth out a little.

        Ginny's eyes wandered aimlessly, anywhere but right in front of her. Fred and Angelina were dancing raucously near the center of the dance floor. Further off, near where the Slytherin table usually stood, Ginny saw Draco Malfoy dancing with Pansy Parkinson. He obviously hadn't boycotted the dance. He was dressed in long black robes, with silver (or probably mythril, knowing the Malfoy's wealth) fastenings. Pansy looked like she was poured into her slinky dark wine colored robes. Pansy was a little too heavy to wear such form-fitting robes. Ginny immediately scanned the floor for Greta Knobb. If she knew Greta, her eyes would be glued to Malfoy. She found Greta dancing reservedly with a tall dark-haired boy near Draco and Pansy.

        Taking her eyes off the Slytherins, Ginny searched the floor for Ron and Hermione, finding them near the teachers' table. They weren't looking at each other, and were dancing somewhat stiffly. Ginny felt a pang of sympathy for her friend, but there was nothing she could do to help. Ginny shifted her attention back to Harry, feeling like she should say something. She ended up speaking without even thinking about it.

        "I hope Ron and Hermione don't finish off the ball this year like they did last year," she said. Perhaps it was fortunate that she had said the first thing that came to mind, because Harry laughed lightly, making Ginny's stomach flip unnaturally.

        "I know, it's a wonder they've gotten as far as they have," said Harry. "What with Hermione studying for O.W.L.s and Ron having Quidditch this year. By the way," said Harry.

        "No, Harry," Ginny answered lightly. "I'm not good on a broomstick, Ron can testify."

        "All right, I just want you to consider it," said Harry. He had been trying to get her to sign up for the Quidditch team ever since he'd found out Angelina Johnson wasn't going to play in the last two matches of the season. He'd asked Ginny at least five times; this one made six. "'Cause the only other person we've got signed up is Colin Creevey, and he's really lousy on a broom."

        "Colin signed up for Quidditch? When?" asked Ginny. Colin hadn't said anything to her about signing up. But Harry was right, Colin was worse than Hermione on a broomstick.

        "He signed up about a day after we put that notice up in the common room," said Harry as the song they were dancing to came to a close. Ginny felt slightly hurt. Why would Colin have hidden that from her? The only reason she could think of was that he might have wanted to impress her. Colin had been less thrilled by Harry since shortly after the start of term, when he'd notice Harry and Ginny sitting together a little more often in the common room.

        "He never told me," she said absently, looking around for Colin. He was sitting at a table with Amelia, who had her chin resting in her palm and looked a little bored. Another song started up, and Harry and Ginny took up each other's hands again and resumed dancing.

        "He's been bothering Ron and me about it for months," said Harry. "It got so bad we had to sic Hermione on him with her spew stuff." Ginny involuntarily threw her head back in laughter. She hadn't realized Harry called it 'spew' also. "What? Spew?" asked Harry. Ginny nodded, trying to stifle the last of her laughter, all the while feeling so hot she would've sworn she had just taken Pepper-up potion.

        "I knew Ron called it that, but I just thought that was Ron," she said, smiling up at Harry. "Hermione got mad at me because I called it that when she first showed me her manifesto. But really, how is anyone supposed to take it seriously with a name like that?"

        "I reckon I've misjudged you, Ginny," said Harry with a smile. "I never thought you'd be making fun of spew, too." Ginny was sure she was blushing, but she refused to let it bother her. She mimicked Malfoy's derisive laugh.

        "You know so little about me, Potter," she said, still mimicking Malfoy. It was Harry's turn to throw his head back and laugh. The sound shot shivers up Ginny's spine. After a few seconds of laughter, he spoke.

        "I doubt Hermione would've let you join if she knew you were going to go 'round calling it spew," said Harry. Ginny was a little surprised by this.

        "Harry, I never joined S.P.E.W.," she said not laughing anymore..

        "You didn't?" he asked, looking a little surprised himself.

        "You're secretary and you don't know that I never joined?" she asked.

        "I just figured you had," he said offhandedly. "Why didn't you?"

        "Because," she said, adopting a Hermione-ish tone. "It's not what they want. I mean, it might be for their own good, but if it makes them miserable in the mean time, I don't want any part of it," said Ginny. "I told her she should concentrate on changing the opinions of Witches and Wizards first."

        "She forced us to join," Harry said, annoyed. "We mostly did just to get her off our backs."

        "I can imagine," Ginny added. "She wasn't too happy with me for refusing. She got shirty with me and said I was just as bad as Ron and that she was shocked I was willing to prop up unjust systems because I was too lazy to change them. I'm sure you can understand if I got a little angry with her after that."

        "What did you say?" Harry asked eagerly.

        "Er, it's not really important, we apologized to each other after a day or so. She said I was entitled to my opinion even though she thought it was wrong, and that she had no right to expect me to side with her. But that she would keep it up until she changed my mind. So I told her that was exactly what she needed to do in the first place," said Ginny as the current song slowed to a close. Harry and Ginny separated, but stayed close by one another. A moment later, Dumbledore's voice broke over the crowd.

        "Good evening," he started. A hush slowly spread across the room and all eyes turned toward Dumbledore. "I hope everyone is enjoying themselves. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful guests, The Summoning, who agreed to play for all of you tonight," he held his hand out toward the band on stage, then led the school in applauding. After the applause died down, he continued. "Now, as most of you have probably been eager for, it is time to eat. If everyone would step off the dance floor for a moment, the Professors and I shall set up the tables."

        Everyone shuffled off the dance floor and crowded around the edge of the Great Hall. With a wave of his wand, the tables that were pushed back around the edges of the Great Hall suddenly whisked across the floor and filled the space that had once been the dance floor. With another wave of his wand, the tables all multiplied and spread out evenly across the floor. Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Madame Delacour were conjuring up chairs for the tables and Professors Flitwick and Sinistra were conjuring up golden plates. The fairies that were fluttering about above the dance floor all parted and floated down to loom over each table. Dumbledore, who had been watching from the teachers table spoke up again.

        "Everyone may be seated."

Dinner

        Ginny followed Harry to one of the tables that stood in the space usually occupied by the Gryffindor table. Ginny looked around and found that most people had unconsciously done the same. Most of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were sitting where their tables usually were. All the Slytherins seemed to be sitting where their table usually sat. Ron and Hermione joined them as she turned back around, Hermione looking a little pink, but otherwise in good spirits. Ron sat down with an eager look at his plate and picked up his menu.

        All around her, food was materializing on plates. Ginny picked up her menu and looked through it. Ordering seemed to be set up in the same way it was last year. She remembered, with a guilty sort of amusement, Neville accidentally ordering the first six things on the menu as he read it aloud. Ginny decided she would have the same thing she had the year before, since it was her favorite dish.

        "Poached Sea Bass," she said, and watched as it materialized on her golden plate. Harry had ordered the Swiss steak with mashed potatoes, and Hermione's dinner looked like chicken and dumplings. Ron, on the other hand, folded his menu and spoke clearly into his plate.

        "Bouillabaisse," he said. Hermione scoffed and glared at Ron, who didn't seem to notice. After a second, she shook her head and started taking small bites of her dinner. Ginny's was excellent. The house-elves had really outdone themselves. She made a mental note to congratulate the house-elves next time she was down in the kitchens.

        The Summoning was playing some light and soft music to eat by. Hermione said it sounded like music they piped into lifts, a Muggle contraption used to raise and lower people up and down different floors of a building. They all ate slowly and talked about the songs, some about O.W.L.s. Ginny was thankful she didn't have to take them until next year. Ginny had almost gotten her fill of Sea Bass and everything was going fine, when it all started to come unraveled.

        No one noticed until he'd gotten right up next to the table. Right behind Ginny.

        "Well, everything going well, I hope," Malfoy's snide voice said from just behind her seat. Ginny turned sharply, knocking her fork into the floor. Malfoy smirked, glaring at her for a second before he shifted his malicious eyes to Harry. Behind him, Ginny could see his two enormous cronies, Crabbe and Goyle.

        "What do you want, Malfoy?" Harry asked in a controlled voice.

        "I just stopped by to ask if you and your friends were having fun," Malfoy drawled, resting his hand on the back of Ginny's seat.

        "We were until you strolled by," Harry said coolly. Malfoy sneered, and shifted his eyes to Ron and Hermione.

        "Well, Granger, good to see you've found yourself a fitting date," he said. Ron tried to stand but Hermione caught his sleeve and eyed him sternly, reminding Ginny strongly of Professor McGonagall.

        "Get lost, Malfoy," said Harry. "You aren't taking any house points from us tonight." Malfoy laughed derisively.

        "Not to worry. There's plenty of opportunities to take house points off with idiots like the Weasleys in Gryffindor." Ron really did stand up, even with Hermione hanging onto his arm. Harry put his arm out in front of Ron and spoke sharply at Malfoy.

        "I said get lost, Malfoy!" Malfoy stared at Harry for a long second with his cold blue-gray eyes, then he spoke.

        "All right, then Potter," he said, turning his eyes once again toward Ginny. "I suppose you're happy," he said glaring down at her. Ginny felt her cheeks flood with blush, but she wouldn't rise, not to Malfoy's pathetic taunts. She turned her head away from him and casually picked up the new fork that had materialized in place of the one she'd dropped.

        "You've been drooling at his heels since your first year." That stung. Far more than Ginny would like to have admitted, even to herself.

        "You leave her alone!" snapped Harry. Ginny could feel her entire body burning in embarrassment. She concentrated on the remainder of her Sea Bass.

        "Awful protective, aren't we, Potter?" said Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle snorted laughter, both sounding like large hogs.

        "Malfoy, if you don't get out of here, I'll call Professor McGonagall over," said Hermione. Malfoy paid no attention, but leaned toward Harry over Ginny's chair.

        "I know why," he whispered quietly. "I know what you did second year for her, Potter. Saving her pathetic life." The bite Ginny had just swallowed hung in her throat and she gagged on it, coughing loudly. Malfoy laughed heartily. Crabbe and Goyle guffawed behind him.

        "I'm not telling you again, Malfoy, get OUT of here!" Harry said through clenched teeth. Malfoy glared down at Ginny for a moment before he turned. But as he did, he spoke again, this time, directly at her.

        "He only asked you because he feels sorry for you," Ginny felt like someone had poured hot water straight on her head. Her skin burned and she could feel tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes. But she suddenly became aware that Harry had stood, that he'd picked up one of the dinner rolls off the table. Ginny managed to pull herself to her feet and stand in front of him.

        "It's not worth it, Harry," said Hermione, holding Ron tightly of the other side of the table.

        "Hit him, Harry! Nail him right in the back of his oily head!" Ron snarled. Harry drew back his arm, and Ginny knew things were about to get a lot worse. Harry held the roll in his hand for a moment, but dropped it on the table and slumped back into his chair, scowling. Ginny sat slowly, her legs feeling a little wobbly and watched Hermione trying to subdue Ron.

        "Let's just go outside and cool off. Okay, Ron?" she said, pulling him away from the table. His eyes were still fixed on the back of Malfoy's head as Hermione pulled him away. Ginny watched them leave the Great Hall, then turned her eyes back to her table.

        Harry was scowling down at his half-eaten steak with his hands below the table. Ginny felt like she could use a trip outside to cool off, but she didn't want to leave Harry. What if he went after Malfoy? She sat quietly, letting the waves of heat she'd been feeling since Malfoy started talking about her wash over her and staring into Harry's very green, very angry eyes. His eyes were her favorite part of him. So deep and so green, like pools of emeralds. Those emerald pools came up and met hers and it took a second for her to realize Harry had looked up at her. She blinked and turned her eyes back toward her plate, cursing her cheeks for the blush she could feel pouring all over her. She was probably redder than a lobster.

        "I didn't ask you because I felt sorry for you," he said quietly. If Ginny thought she was warm before, she was wrong. Her entire body tingled as a fresh wave of heat swept over her, so much so that her head was starting to swim a little.

        "I know," she said, trying to think of something more to say. As the seconds passed, she found she could think of fewer and fewer things that might be appropriate.

        "And you're not pathetic," he added. Ginny was sure if this continued, she was going to go up in smoke like her Aunt Maybelle had. Before Ginny could catch herself, she was fanning her face with her napkin. She needed to say something, but what? Nothing seemed appropriate. She wanted to thank him for sticking up for her, but it seemed silly. Then it hit her. She had been waiting for a good moment to tell him this for years. She cleared her throat.

        "You know, Harry," she started, looking up at him, and his emerald pools. She cleared her throat again. "There's something I meant to tell you a long time ago, but-"

        "You don't have to, Ginny," he interrupted, sounding sympathetic. But he was wrong, she did have to tell him.

        "I need to," she said, feeling she hadn't quite said what she truly felt. "I want to. I always meant to tell you, but I kept getting distracted, or you were busy talking to someone else, and then it just seemed so odd, because it had been so long," she caught herself rambling, something she had a habit of doing when nervous. "I never thanked you for saving my life." A look of surprise spread across his face. "You didn't have to, but you did," she finally got out. But her mouth didn't stop there, more words were coming out. "I was pretty silly then, and stupid, writing all my soul into a diary. I tried to fight it, but I wasn't strong enough," she said, noticing her mouth was dry. She picked up her water goblet to drink.

        "You're not silly, or stupid, and I never thought you were." Ginny sucked water down the wrong tube and ended up sputtering and coughing again. Not silly, eh? she thought.

        "No, Harry. I was," she said once she'd gotten her breath. "I was so naďve, and small and meek, there was no way someone like me could ever have resisted Voldemort." She looked down at her plate again.

        "Ginny," Harry said disbelievingly. "Did you just use his name?" he asked. "You just said 'Voldemort', didn't you?"

        It suddenly occurred to Ginny that Harry had no idea that she'd been practicing saying 'Voldemort' since the end of her first year. He had no idea she written to Dumbledore once a week that summer and that she talked with him on numerous occasions throughout the years since.

        "Yes, I, er, Dumbledore said I shouldn't be afraid to use his name since I know him," she said, resting her elbow on the edge of the table. Harry's smile was back.

        "Well, there you go. You're not meek, you can say his name. Ron still can't say it without wincing a little, and you said it without even batting an eye," said Harry. Ginny shook her head.

        "I can say his name now. But then, Harry, then I was so weak," said Ginny, feeling her stomach twist slightly.

        "You fought enough to nearly tell someone, and you fought enough to flush Tom Riddle down Moaning Myrtle's toilet," said Harry. The sudden image of Tom Riddle came to her mind, though this time, instead of looking menacing, he was soaked to the bone and covered in sopping wet toilet paper. An uncontrollable laugh welled up from somewhere inside of her, and it shocked her a little just how loud it was. People from other tables were looking at them. Harry was smiling widely.

        "Harry," she said when she'd finally stopped laughing. "You have no idea what you've just done for me," she said and seeing his slightly confused look, she decided to explain. "My boggart is Tom Riddle," she said, not feeling nearly as bad as usual about it. "And when we worked on them in class, we actually got to face one. I didn't do so well. In fact, I failed completely. Because I just couldn't think of anyway to make him funny. But I can now," she said, feeling more laughter bubbling up from within her. "Now if I ever face a boggart, I'll imagine Tom Riddle sopping wet and covered in soggy toilet paper." Harry laughed out loud at this. Ginny was just about to ask Harry what his boggart was when Dumbledore announced that the tables would be moved so that the dancing could resume.

        Harry looked down at his unfinished steak and pushed it away. Ginny, feeling her stomach do a short series of tumbles when she looked down at the remainder of her meal pushed it away also. Harry looked up at her with a nervous smile.

        "D'you want to dance some more?" he asked. Ginny nodded and stood, suddenly realizing her legs felt like jelly. She nearly stumbled into Harry as she walked around the edge of the table, which suddenly sped away to the side of the floor. The music started and Harry took her hand, placing his other around her waist. She put her hand on his shoulder and he led off.

As the world falls down

        The fairies were zooming here and there sending streams of light all over the floor. About a dozen couples had taken to the floor around them, adding to the dizziness Ginny was feeling.

        "There's such a sad love,
        deep in your eyes. A kind of pale jewel,
        opened and closed within your eyes.
        I'll place the sky, within your eyes."


        Harry led her across the floor spectacularly, dancing her past dimly lit couples who were sharing the floor with them. She looked into their faces but couldn't seem to recognize anyone.

        "There's such a fooled heart,
        beating so fast. In search of new dreams,
        a love that will last within your heart.
        I'll place the moon, within your heart."


        Something was missing this time, something was different. She couldn't quite place it, but then it hit her as she looked up at Harry. He was smiling at her, and it was then that she realized she had no fear now. Not for Voldemort or for what anyone else thought, or whether or not Harry liked her or not.

        "As the pain sweeps through,
        makes no sense for you.
        Every thrill he's caused
        wasn't too much fun at all.
        But I'll be there for you-oo-oo,
        As the world falls down."


        Ginny took a deep breath as the significance of the last few lines sunk into her. I'll be there for you, as the world falls down, she thought, looking up at Harry.

        "falling"

        His face was smiling and his outline seemed to blur as he moved. All around her the floor felt like it was bobbing up and down in time with the music.

        "falling down,"

        She finally figured it out, and felt a tiny twinge of disappointment as she did. I'm dreaming, she thought, looking up at the enchanted ceiling and seeing the stars moving all around up above.

        "Falling in love"

        Ginny sighed and looked back at Harry. I don't really care if I'm dreaming, she thought. This is the best dream I've ever had.

        "I'll paint you mornings of gold,
        I'll spin you Valentine evenings.
        Though we're strangers till now,
        we're choosing the path between the stars.
        I'll leave my love, between the stars."


        She looked deep into Harry's endless emerald eyes. In my dreams, Harry loves me. In my dreams, everything is perfect, she thought.

        "As the pain sweeps through,
        makes no sense for you.
        Every thrill he's caused,
        wasn't too much fun at all.
        But I'll be there for you-oo-oo,
        as the world falls down."


        Ginny's mouth moved along with the words that time. She felt so very warm, ("Falling") almost unbearably warm being so close to Harry in her dreams. She knew when she woke up that she'd just be Ron's little sister again. ("Falling down") But she didn't care. This was her dream, and here, ("falling") Harry loved her, here she belonged with Harry.

        "As the world falls down"

        She felt so very dizzy, with her head spinning one way and the dance floor spinning another. ("Falling") She needed to close her eyes and put her head down on something that wasn't moving so irrationally. ("Falling") Harry, he wasn't moving irrationally, ("Falling") and he wouldn't mind if she rested her head on his shoulder. ("Falling in love") Not in her own dreams anyway. ("As the world falls down") She let her head slowly come to rest on his shoulder, and listened to the bass rhythm sink deep into her. ("Makes no sense at all") She was still dizzy. Harry wouldn't mind if she put her arms around him, ("Makes no sense to fall") it was her dream after all. ("Falling") She slipped her hand out of his and wrapped it around his back, still shifting her feet around on the tumultuous dance floor. ("As the world falls down") Harry smelled good, ("Falling") he never smelled like that in any of her other dreams. ("Falling") She tilted her head upward a little so she could smell his neck a little better. ("Falling in love") He wouldn't care, he was only part of her dream. ("As the world falls down") Her head was still swimming and she could feel her knees starting to get weaker. ("Falling") She could hold Harry a little tighter and he wouldn't say anything at all.

        "Falling"
        "Falling in love"
        "Falling in love"
        "Falling in love"
        "Falling in love"

        The music slowed to a close and here and there Ginny heard applause from the couples on the floor. She opened her eyes, keeping her head against Harry's shoulder. The floor wasn't spinning nearly as bad and the lights weren't flickering like they had been. She pulled herself away from Harry and looked up at him. He looked very red, and was gazing at her with concern on his face. Fred and Angelina strolled up beside them, Fred looking like it was his birthday. "I was wrong about you, Harry," said Fred. "You're a lot quicker than Ron, he huffed off back to Gryffindor Tower." Ginny's stomach fell all the way to her feet as a fresh wave of nauseating heat poured over her. It wasn't a dream. She had put her head down on Harry's shoulder, and wrapped her arms around him, and smelled his neck! she remembered with horror. She had to get out of there, now, before she threw up. She quickly muttered something to Harry about needing air and practically ran out of the Great Hall. Thankfully everyone seemed to part as she went. She stumbled out of the stifling Great Hall into the entrance hall and without hesitation, through the great oak front doors.

Confession is good for the soul (but bad for the complexion)

        The cold rushing in on her felt wonderful on her hot skin. She leaned up against the great wide stone railing beside the steps. She stood there leaning against the cold stone for what felt like an hour, breathing heavily and hoping beyond all hope that she really hadn't done all the things she remembered doing during the dance. Her head was throbbing and her knees still felt weak, so she turned and sat down on the top of the stone railing and put her head in her hands. How could I have been so stupid! she thought. The oak doors opened and Harry stepped out into the cold, his face flushed pink.

        "Are you all right? You aren't sick, are you?" he asked, walking over to her. She could have cried. All the embarrassment she'd surely caused him from doing all those stupid things in there, and the first thing he asked her was if she was all right.

        "Harry, I'm so sorry, I-I thought, I mean," to her shock, Harry stepped forward and rested his hands on the banister.

        "It's all right, Ginny. You're okay, though, aren't you?" he asked again. "You've been looking a little pale all night, and you seemed a little disoriented in there," he said. She wondered what he meant by pale. She'd been blushing all night and her cheeks were still hot with blush

        "No, I'm all right," she said. "I don't know if I can go back in there now, though."

        "If you don't want to, that's okay. I'll understand," said Harry. Ginny suddenly felt she really didn't have much right to do something so silly and then tell Harry she didn't want to dance. Especially since it seemed like he still wanted to.

        "I'll be okay," said Ginny, hopping down. "Are you su-" she started to say, but as soon as her feet hit the ground her knees buckled and she tumbled into Harry. He caught her before she hit the ground and pulled her to her feet. "Sorry," she said, waiting for Harry to let her go. But he didn't. Instead, he put his cool palm against her forehead. It felt good resting there, for the short time he left it. For he pulled it away quickly and when he spoke again, she could hear the worry and surprise in his voice.

        "Ginny, you're burning up!" he said, his emerald eyes full of concern.

        "I'll be all right," she said, as reassuringly as she could.

        "No, you won't. You're going to the Hospital Wing," said Harry "You've got a fever, and a bad one."

        "Oh, no, Harry. I'll be just fine, I just need to sit-" Ginny started but stopped when Harry lifted her off the ground. "No, Harry-"

        "You're going to the Hospital Wing under your own steam, or under mine. But one way or another, you're going," he said, heading toward the front doors. "And it isn't just because it's a prefect's duty, either. You're a friend, so I want to make sure you're all right."

        Ginny felt her face grow hot again, despite the cold. "Okay, but please don't carry me," she asked. Harry lowered her to her feet, but the moment he let her go, she started to collapse. He caught her again, and pulled her upright. "Maybe you're right, I don't think I can stand on my own," she said, Harry started to try and pick her up again. "Only, please don't carry me through the entrance hall, just help me walk through?" she asked. He nodded and put her arm over his shoulder. She held on to him in what she hoped was a natural sort of way, and they went through the oak doors into the entrance hall.

        Ginny could still hear music pouring from the Great Hall as Harry helped her through the entrance hall and up the marble staircase. They turned the corner and headed down a corridor that lead to the Hospital Wing. They were half way down the corridor when a familiar drawling voice called out.

        "Potter, where do you think you're going?" It was Malfoy, flanked as always by Crabbe and Goyle. Harry turned halfway and started to reply, but Malfoy cut him off. "Gryffindor Tower is the other way, Potter," he said.

        "I'm taking her to the Hospital Wing, she's sick," Harry answered truthfully. Malfoy looked past Harry down the corridor.

        "Lots of empty classrooms down that way, Potter. Don't think for a moment I believe your lame story." All year long, Malfoy had been trying to emulate Professor Snape's method of imposing authority, but he couldn't pull it off in Ginny's opinion. As long as he had dumb and dumber guffawing at his heels, he'd never have an ounce of real credibility in her book. She felt her stomach give a violent grumble.

        "It's not a story, it's true," Harry said angrily. "You're not the only prefect at-"

        "Malfoy, I need to go before I throw up," Ginny said.

        "Throw up then, Weasley," he said uncaringly to her then turned his attention back to Harry. Ginny felt a surge of anger run through her. Suddenly, she didn't care about losing house points or the horrible embarrassment that came along with vomiting with someone there. She felt her stomach contract violently and did nothing to stop it. Instead, she pulled herself out of Harry's arms and tumbled forward, catching herself on Malfoy's robes, and ruined them. She hung onto Malfoy's robes, her stomach still grumbling painfully. Both Malfoy and Harry stood motionless and wordless. Ginny was just wondering when Harry would pull her off Malfoy when her stomach contracted again. She kept her eyes closed but heard it splash on the floor, no doubt on Malfoy's shoes too.

        After a small shudder she felt Harry's hands on her sides again, and he pulled her away from Malfoy. Ginny's head was spinning again, and it was then that she realized she wasn't walking to the Hospital Wing anymore. She was being carried, by Harry, the only one she'd ever loved. She didn't stop to wonder why it had never occurred to her before, but she had never actually told him how she felt, and she couldn't for the life of her figure out what reason she would have to not tell him.

        "Harry," she said.

        "Yes?" he said, looking down at her.

        "I love you." He stopped walking and looked down at her. "I don't know why I never told you before, but I do." Harry gazed down at her for a moment.

        "You shouldn't say those things. You've got a fever and you don't know what you're saying. You'll regret it when you're better," he said.

        "I know what I'm saying. I'm saying I've loved you all along, even before you saved me. I know you think it was because you were famous, but it wasn't. You turned out to be everything I wanted you to be. You saved my life when I didn't even think I deserved to live anymore. You made sure everyone understood that I was being controlled. You plucked me up out of the abyss of hell and carried me back to safety. But even all that isn't the reason I love you. I love you because you're great at Quidditch. I love you because you think spew is funny. I love you because you pretended not to notice when I knocked things over. I love you because you brought up Fleur Delacour's little sister when you didn't have to. I love you cause you never once acted like I was silly for the way I acted. I love you because you call Ron's owl 'Pigwidgeon' and not 'Pig'. I love you because… because you have the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen."

        Harry's gorgeous eyes widened at this.

        "They're so deep, sometimes I feel like I could fall in, and I'd float there forever and never reach the bottom or the sides. I love you because you're you, and I can't keep it in any longer. I love you." Harry didn't seem to react, he wasn't looking at her anymore. Ginny could feel tears rolling down her cheeks and she wondered what she'd done to make him turn his eyes away from her. He was knocking on a door. "I love you, Harry," she muttered again, hoping he would look into her again. He knocked on the door again. "I don't care if you don't love me back. I love you, I've always been yours." The door opened and she heard Harry talking to someone in the doorway. His voice seemed to echo endlessly in her ears.

        She watched Harry as he started walking again. Then she felt her body start to descend and touch something very soft. But still she looked at Harry. He looked down at her again with those endless emerald eyes. Ginny could hear the song they'd danced to ringing in the background ("As the world falls down") Harry spoke to her but she couldn't make it out; she was lost in his eyes. ("As the world falls down") she reached up and touched his face. She wanted to kiss him. There was an unstoppable chain reaction within her that demanded that she kiss him. She pulled him toward her and let her lips touch his. His lips were cool, so very cool. She could feel tingles running all through hers as she kissed to the intoxicating music in her head. ("As the world falls down…")

Real kisses

        Ginny felt a warm hand rest on her forehead, and realized her eyes were closed. She started to open them but the bright light around her made her squint. She brought a hand up to shield her eyes.

        "Good morning," said a familiar voice. "You're looking much better this morning, dear. You're lucky Mr. Potter brought you up here when he did." It was Madam Pomfrey. As Ginny's eyes adjusted to the light level, she brought her hand down and looked around a little. She was in the Hospital Wing, it was daytime. Her dress robes were hanging on the curtain that had been pulled around her bed.

        "What happened," she muttered, trying to sit up, only to find that her arms couldn't support her weight. Madam Pomfrey helped her into a sitting position.

        "You," she said sternly, "used an illegal perfume last night and ended up with a rough case of Fairy Fever, you probably infected half the school dancing around in the Great Hall last night. I'm quite sure Mr. Potter picked it up from you."

        "Is Harry all right?" Ginny asked quickly.

        "Yes, dear. Professor Snape brewed up enough antidote for the entire school. We had everyone who was dancing in the Great Hall take a dose just to be on the safe side. Mr. Potter stayed the night here. If he had Fairy Fever, it didn't have time to take hold of him, he took a dose of antidote and he's just fine," she said pulling Ginny's eyelids open.

        "That perfume was illegal?" Ginny asked.

        "Quite. It's perfectly safe if you use it right after you collect the tears, but if it sits around for a while, it'll cause all sorts of problems, namely, Fairy Fever. That's why the Ministry's outlawed it's use. Open your mouth, please." Ginny obeyed and Madam Pomfrey looked inside. "You'll be fine as soon as you've had some breakfast. I'll go down to the kitchens and have a house-elf bring you up some," she said, standing and moving away from Ginny's bed.

        Ginny tried to remember everything that happened the night before. She danced with Harry, she had Sea Bass that tasted terrible when she threw it up. When did she throw it up, though? She danced with Harry again. Her stomach began to sink as she remembered draping her head across his shoulder and hanging all over him. Then she remembered throwing up on Malfoy and being carried to the Hospital Wing. She had a vague recollection of telling Harry how much she…loved him… No, she couldn't have said those things, she couldn't have. She suddenly didn't have any appetite at all. She dropped her head into her hands hoping she had only imagined saying all those things.

        "Morning," Harry's voice called from the foot of her bed. Her head jerked up out of her hands and she stared at Harry, too afraid to answer. Finally she forced herself to speak.

        "Harry," she started, knowing in her heart that she probably said the things she remembered saying. "I'm so sorry for last night."

        "It's all right, you were sick. By the time I got you to the Hospital Wing, you weren't making much sense," he said, looking over at her dress robes. Ginny got the sudden feeling that Harry was trying to cover for her again. She had to know the truth.

        "I said a lot of things to you last night, didn't I, Harry?" she asked. He looked at her momentarily then shifted his eyes toward the ground.

        "You said some things, but you were delirious," he said. She felt her stomach twist slightly.

        "Harry," she said, clearly. "Look me in the eye and tell me I didn't say the things I'm remembering." Harry looked up at her taking a few breaths, then his eyes traveled back down to the floor. Ginny felt her stomach go numb. "And I kissed you, too, didn't I?" she said more than asked.

        "I won't tell anyone, Ginny. You know I won't," he said quietly.

        "Harry, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done all that. I was way out of line, kissing you. I'll understand if you don't want to talk to me anymore," Ginny said, feeling a prickling in the corners of her eyes.

        "No. I'll still talk to you. What happened last night wasn't really your fault." He was covering for her again. She shook her head.

        "But I kissed you, Harry! I'm sorry, I-"

        "It's all right, Ginny," he interrupted, looking toward her dress robes, then back to her. "The kiss was nice." He had not just said that. She stared up at him for a moment, dumbfounded.

        "It- it was nice?" she asked, expecting to have heard him wrong. He nodded and answered.

        "Yeah, unexpected, but" he paused, "nice." He gazed at her for a moment and then looked back over his shoulder toward the door. When he turned back toward her, he stepped forward, walking over to the side of her bed. Ginny sat there, frozen between her sheets, staring up at him. Was this really happening or was she still sick with Fairy Fever? Harry sat down on the edge of her bed and looked into her eyes again. She could feel her lower lip trembling as her teeth chattered in anxiety.

        Harry started to lean forward. She watched as he moistened his lips and oddly enough, felt her own tongue moisten hers without being told to. He was inching closer and closer to her face and Ginny was starting to believe she was still dreaming. Only one way to find out, she thought. She casually reached over and pinched her other arm hard. It stung, but she only felt it for long enough to realize she was wide awake and that this was really happening. Harry had finally made delicate contact with her lips. Ginny's hands clenched the sheets on either side of her as she felt Harry's lips on hers, moving over hers. A little voice in Ginny's head spoke up. Don't make a fool of yourself. To him, you're just Ron's little sister. She usually listened to this voice, but this time it was wrong. Harry had walked over to her bed, he had sat down, and he had leaned forward to kiss her. He wanted the kiss. He wants to kiss me! another voice shouted in Ginny's head. Don't just sit there, you dolt, kiss him back!

        So Ginny did. In a split second she'd brought both her hands up to either side of his face and started moving her own lips clumsily against his. Her fingers moved gently over the skin of his face, feeling the ever so soft facial hair that was growing in on the sides of Harry's face. She opened her eyes part way just to make sure once again that it was real. There was Harry, right in front of her, lips locked with her. The exhilarating sensation filled her as she ran her fingers down the sides of Harry's neck. She sensed the kiss winding to a close, and with one long caress of their lips they separated.

        Ginny opened her eyes and looking into Harry's. She needed air. Her head was spinning every bit as fast as it had been last night. Harry liked her, he wanted to kiss her. She suddenly needed to feel it again, and for once in her life (when she wasn't sick), she felt absolutely no reason to hold back. She leaned forward abruptly and met his lips again. A thrill of joy rushed through her as his lips met hers without hesitation. She kissed him more thoroughly this time. His hands came up to her cheeks and mimicked the movements she had done on him only moments before. He traced her jawbone with his index fingers as they kissed, leaving tingling lines where he touched. Again, the kiss came to a slow, sensual close and they separated.

        And once again, their kiss was re-initiated, this time by Harry. Ginny's hands found his cheeks again, but this time, she let them wander back and filter through his untidy hair. The hair she'd always wanted to run her fingers through. Harry's hands were on the sides of her neck, his thumbs rubbing the corners of her jawbone. When she drew breath, she drew him in with her, and when she tasted, it was only him. As the kiss yet again came to a close, they both pulled away from each other enough to see the other's face.

        They sat motionless for a moment. Then both half grinned and leaned in together. This kiss was by far the best. They'd thrown any inhibitions out and were kissing each other fully and deeply. Their hands were locked in mid air beside them, fingers interlaced. This was the thrill of living, her Mother had always told her about. The thrill of being the center of Harry's immediate attention. She was just thinking that she could kiss like this for hours when the sound of the Hospital Wing door opening ended all those hopes.

        Ginny and Harry separated with a loud "smack" sound that Ginny was sure whoever had just walked in would hear. Harry quickly moved over to a stool beside her bed and Ginny flung herself back down onto the bed so fast she cracked her head against the headboard. As she held her head tightly in pain, Ron came hurrying around the corner.

        "Ginny," he said. He looked at her for a moment then practically flew to her. "Are you all right, Madam Pomfrey said you'd gotten Fairy Fever. She wouldn't let us come up last night." He noticed she was holding her head and still wincing. "Are you still ill? Do you need anything?" he asked. Ginny laughed, despite the pain in her head. Hermione walked around the curtain and joined them by Ginny's bed.

        "I'm fine Ron, Madam Pomfrey's gone to get some breakfast. I'll eat and then I'll be just fine," she said, massaging the top of her head. She now discovered that she not only had her appetite back, it seemed to have increased in the short time it was gone.

        "See, Ron. I told you she would be fine. You don't have enough faith in Madam Pomfrey," said Hermione. Madam Pomfrey arrived a few minutes later with Ginny's breakfast. Ginny sat back up with a little help from Harry and watched Ron and Hermione bicker. Part way through their argument she caught Harry's eye. He grinned and looked back up at Ron and Hermione, and Ginny wondered if he was thinking the same things she was. That she would be looking forward to the next Hogsmeade trip, and to holding Harry's hand, and to sneaking off to an empty classroom. She had to remember to tell George how good he was at Divination.

        The End

//
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