The Sugar Quill
Author: Ciircee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: One More Reason  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.

(Oh, if I bribe you, will you write Harry/Ginny? >_<)

Disclaimer: Jo Rowling created it. Bloomsbury and Scholastic and probably a handful of other big-scary corporations have rights to it. I'll admit to infringing upon
their copyrights out the wazoo and beg their collective forgiveness. BUT, I must remind them, I'M not making any money off of this. Suing me will only net them the
pleasure of listening to me whine about how broke I am.

Thank you: As always, to Chelle-sama for the fast, nasty beta. My Chelle-sama is the best. And to Jake Storm (aka HP Guy) for doing
beta-in-the-trenches-before-having-guests.

Dedication: Sakura! She inspired this, darn it. She said 'H/G' and I said 'Hm, one of my all time favorite CCS authors wants me to write?' And then...

One More Reason

Though he'd never say it to Ron, and certainly never to Hermione, Harry loved Sunday evenings above all others. There was something about the lazy day followed by the frenzied, last-minute work because there were classes tomorrow that made Harry feel peaceful. Maybe it was because it reminded him that he was at Hogwarts. Maybe it was the way that knowing McGonagall would kill him for not turning his essay in on time made the Dursleys seem very far away. Whatever the reasons, Sunday nights had a homey feeling.

"Really, Ron, I can't believe you left Charms for the last minute...we're having a quiz tomorrow,” Hermione scolded. "It's perfectly stupid of you, really."

Ron hummed loudly to himself and ignored her. "Harry, do you reckon that sicco would work on people?" he asked after a moment. Hermione tutted.

"You wouldn't want it to."

"Harry?" Ginny Weasley's voice interrupted Harry before he could throw his own two- Knuts into the discussion.

"Yeah, Ginny?" Harry raised his eyebrows expectantly as Ginny stood mutely staring at him for a moment. Oh god...she wasn't going to confess to him, was she? He knew that she'd had a crush on him since his second year but this was going beyond that. What in the world was he going to say to her?

"Harry Potter, you're an idiot,” she said at last. Then she nodded once, sharply, turned and walked calmly up the staircase to the girls dormitory.

Harry sat and blinked after her. "Um, Ron?" Ron looked up from his Charms work. "Is something wrong with Ginny? I thought she fancied me...or at least I thought she didn't dislike me. Why'd she call me an idiot?"

Ron shrugged. "Well, she's Ginny,” he said, as though that explained everything.

"Oh, honestly," Hermione rolled her eyes. "Would it hurt either of you to open your eyes?" She gathered her books before Harry could say a word. "I'm going up to bed. Goodnight."

"She's right,” Ron muttered the words so low that Harry barely caught them.

"What?" He wondered if Ron meant Ginny or Hermione and if he should be offended or just call Ron a prat in return and throw a wadded up page of Transfiguration notes at him.

Ron blinked and shook his head. "Hermione. Check out what that Drying Charm does to people." Ron slid his book over and Harry decided that he might as well go to bed and finish his work in the morning, he certainly couldn't write about turning cocoons into candy floss or any other edible transformations after seeing that.

So much for Sunday nights.

* * *

Monday mornings were a pain and Harry hated them. It wasn't just the fact that he had Herbology at an ungodly hour, it was the fact that Herbology was early

and it was followed by Transfiguration and he'd barely finished his essay with the hopes that McGonagall wouldn't notice how large and hurried his writing had

gotten as he'd worked feverishly outside the door. No, that wasn't it either. The reason Harry hated Monday mornings was because Potions was a Monday

morning class. And Snape still taught Potions and the Gryffindors still had it with the Slytherins.

"Well, that was perfectly wretched," Hermione sighed as she, Harry and Ron exited the Potions this could be lowercase and headed for lunch. "After everything that happened last year, you would think that Snape would be a little more kind."

"Why would that matter? So what if the Dark Lord attacked Hogsmeade? He's Harry Potter." Ron pointed at Harry with a grin. "The one has nothing to do with the other, in Snape's book."

Harry laughed even as Hermione shook her head, smiling. "I think if Snape had to option of taking out Voldemort and taking out me, he'd pick me every time." He didn't truly believe it; but if circumstances had been different, it was probably true.

"That's true," Ron said thoughtfully. "Harry, I say let Snape take a shot at you. Once it bounces off you it'll reduce him to a shadow of his former self, probably just his greasy hair," Ron mused. "Anyway, once Snape is forced to rush off and wait for his faithful followers to revive him, we can get a new Potions master."

Hermione huffed in irritated amusement as they entered the Great Hall. "Ron, he's our teacher."

"He wouldn't be if Harry would get a move on it," Ron countered, seating himself.

"I'll get right on that." He laughed and took his usual seat. It took a moment for him to realize that his usual seat was right next to Ginny's usual seat. "Um, sorry, I'll move," he muttered to her hastily.

Ginny set down her fork with an odd look. "Why?"

Harry blinked. "Why...? Well, you're angry with me. And you were here first."

It was Ginny's turn to blink. "Angry? No, I'm not. Who told you that?" The confusion in her eyes was real enough that Harry wondered if he'd simply imagined last night's words.

"You called me an idiot."

And?" Ginny continued to stare at him.

Harry stared back. "And you must have been upset with me for some reason."

"Just because you're thick doesn't mean that I'm upset. In fact, I wasn't upset last night. I just thought I should warn you, was all." The conversation was surreal. Harry glanced from Ginny's guileless brown eyes over to Ron and Hermione to see if they were as bemused by the exchange as he was, but they were talking about the Herbology assignment.

"Warn me?" Harry wondered if he'd fallen and been hit on the head thanks to the fumes from the Dizzying Draught in Potions.

Ginny nodded.

"Ginny!" Colin Creevey leaned between them so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that Harry nearly tumbled off of his chair. "Ginny, there's a Hogsmeade weekend scheduled for this week! Flitwick was just hanging the announcement outside the Hall when I came in. Want to go with me?"

Harry watched Ginny smile widely at him and then turn the same smile to Colin. "I'd like that! Shall we meet up at The Three Broomsticks or would you rather walk in together?"

Colin grinned. "We could walk in together, if you want." He offered.

"That sounds really nice, Colin." Ginny's smile was warm and open and friendly. Harry felt himself frown.

"Alright then, Colin?" he said abruptly.

"Oh, hullo Harry." Colin looked at him briefly before turning away. "Well, I'd like to stay and plan going, but I've got to look up some stuff for History of Magic." He smiled apologetically and gestured towards the doors. "I just came in to ask you if you wanted to go."

Ginny's smile grew. "That's so nice of you." She pushed back from the table. "I'm finished, so why don't I come to the library with you? We can talk on the way." Ginny waved at him as she stood up. "Bye, Harry."

"Great! Because, well, there's a reason I'm asking you to go with me..." Colin trailed off and ducked his head. Ginny grabbed his hand and headed for the library.

He waved absently to Ginny as she left, smiling and talking, with Colin. Ron and Hermione had switched from the Herbology lesson to the ways Muggle music was different from wizard music. Harry stared down at his plate before attacking his Shepard's pie with a vengeance. Monday mornings were all too often followed by Monday afternoon and evening and Monday night meant a midnight Practical in Astronomy. He would, Harry thought, be glad when Monday was over.

* * *

Oliver Wood hadn't been Quidditch Captain since Harry's third year at Hogwarts. In fact, after Oliver had left, Harry himself had become team captain. Which

meant that Harry could have done away with the six-thirty a.m. practices. But Oliver, though playing for Puddlemere, would probably skin Harry alive if

Gryffindor lost the Quidditch Cup due to lack of practice and so Harry dutifully woke himself at a quarter to six every Tuesday. The early hour of practice combined with the late Monday night's practical lesson served to muddle Harry's mind for most of the day. It was worth it, actually, just to have to pleasure of rolling Ron's sorry-self out of bed before the sun rose.

"Ron?" Harry asked his yawning friend as they made their way to the Quidditch pitch, "what does it mean when Hermione calls you an idiot?"

"Generally?" Ron rubbed blearily at his eyes. Harry nodded once it seemed as though Ron had focused on him. "It means she's hacked off about something." Ron yawned again.

"Oh." Harry considered that as they unlocked the broom-shed. It was no more or less than what he'd expected to hear and so he didn't quite understand the curious sense of disappointment in his stomach. "Ginny said she wasn't mad,” he said off-handedly as he began to check the team's brooms, rather more thoroughly than necessary.

Ron laughed and began checking over the balls. "That 'idiot' comment still bothering you, is that it?"

"Well, yes and no." But when he tried to think of why, exactly, he couldn't let the issue go, he couldn't think of a reason. Harry sighed. "I don't know. Why do you think she said that to me?"

"His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, his hair is as dark as a blackboard..." Ron sang, and sang with gusto.

"What?" Harry shook his head to clear it.

"He's really divine, I wish he were mine...What?" Ron broke off singing as Harry threw the Quaffle at his head. Being the Keeper that he was, Ron caught it effortlessly. "You asked me what I thought."

Harry glared. "I asked you why you thought Ginny was saying one thing about me and then acting...normally. You burst into song." Ron nodded.

"I was singing a very special song, or can't you remember it?"

He was serious and Harry frowned, setting his Firebolt over his shoulder. “You think it has something to do with that Valentine?"

"I think it has everything to do with it." Ron agreed, locking the Bludgers down and hefting the crate.

Harry gathered the rest of the brooms under his arm. "Why? She called me an 'idiot', not a hero like she did in that poem or anything else." He followed Ron past the locker rooms. "Besides, she barely knew me when she wrote that poem. What does that have to do with now?"

Ron dropped the crate onto the field and then sat down on top of it. "Harry, Hermione calls me an idiot at least once a week." He raised his eyebrow meaningfully. Or at least, Harry assumed it was meant to be meaningful. "She didn't used to call me that until she actually got to know me. Why? Because she knew me."

Unwilling to sit in the wet grass, Harry mounted his broom and hovered just high enough so that his toes barely touched the ground. "Yeah, but I always thought it was some weird sort of courtship behavior. You call her a know-it-all and teacher's pet and she calls you irresponsible and an idiot. You know, like one of those nature programs on the telly." He said after a moment of thought, forgetting for a moment that Ron didn't have a television and so didn't watch nature documentaries. He also had apparently forgotten the fact that he didn't want to say that out loud. He winced.

"Well, there you are then!" Ron beamed.

"You make almost no sense at all, Ron," he said with a grin.

Ron, however, didn't smile back. "You're not wrong, you know," he said softly. "I reckon I'm in love with Hermione."

Harry blinked and swallowed. Part of him felt a bit left out but most of him was glad that his best friend and his other best friend had a chance for something special with each other. "Why don't you tell her that? I mean, you didn't have any trouble saying it now."

Ron looked down at his hands and then back up, eyes serious. "Because I'm waiting for them to announce that ruddy ball we're having this year." He shrugged and hopped off the crate as the rest of the team stumbled groggily onto the field. "Bet it's better than being a moron." He muttered so softly that Harry was sure that he wasn't meant to hear it...being so sleepy made them all a little less careful.

They actually had several accidents that morning; Natalie MacDougal managed to nearly skewer Ron while trying to make a goal, though that was because Ginny had thrown the Quaffle too hard and hit her in the back of the head. Sure, Ginny'd only missed the throw because Harry had flown headlong into her broom when the sunlight had glinted off of her hair, but they were all tired.

* * *

After the blur that was Tuesday, Wednesday went well. In fact, it was nearly perfect since the fire crabs in Care of Magical Creatures hadn't managed to burn

anybody and nobody had actually caught on fire. All told, Wednesday was much better than Sunday, Monday and Tuesday had been. At least, it was for the morning and most of the afternoon.

"You seem a bit off, Harry," Hagrid said when class was over, as he walked with them up to the castle. "Anything botherin' yeh?"

Ron struggled to hold back a laugh and Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ginny said something to him," she informed Hagrid, "and he still hasn't gotten around to thinking it over."

Harry frowned. "I have thought about it. She called me an idiot," he explained before Hagrid could ask.

"Ah. Well then." Hagrid seemed to be laughing at him, beetle black eyes shinning with mirth. "At least she didn't say she loved yeh or anything." Ron laughed out loud and Hagrid raised his eyebrows. "It seems to me that she just did what all the Weasleys do when they're irritated 'bout something." Ron shut up.

"She said she wasn't angry with me." Harry shrugged and caught the front door before it swung shut. They ran into the rest of the sixth year Gryffindors and a mob of other students. "What's going on?" He tensed, one hand over his wand.

Neville fought his way out of the crowed. "The announcement is finally up for the Winter Formal--that's what they're calling the Yule Ball-thing this year." He bit his lip. "Do you think that Parvati would go with me if I asked her?"

"There's no way to know unless you ask, Neville,” Harry told him, clapping him on the shoulder. "But you'd better ask her before somebody else does." Neville nodded warily.

"Ron?" Hagrid's voice sounded worried and Harry turned, hand dropping down to cover his wand again. "Ron, are yeh alright? Yeh look pale." Hagrid had Ron by the shoulders and was peering at him with concern.

"It's...no...okay." How Ron's voice managed to be faint and high pitched was a mystery.

"Ron?" Hermione was looking at him anxiously as well. "Do you need to go to Madam Pomfrey?"

"Yes,” Ron said decisively, but Harry didn't think Ron was having the same conversation as the rest of them because he reached out and grabbed Hermione's hands in his. "Hermione, will you come with me to this..." He looked around frantically. "This ball thing...this dance...this..."

"Winter Formal," Neville supplied, watching with rapt fascination. Most of the Entrance Hall, Harry noted, was watching.

"Winter Formal," Ron said. "Will you come with me to the Winter Formal?" Harry wondered if he might be cutting off Hermione's circulation with how tightly he was holding her hands.

Hermione, for her part, was speechless. It was the first time Harry had ever really seen such a thing. "I...I..." She stuttered. Harry shared a glance and a half with Hagrid and Neville. "Oh, of course I will! I wanted to go with you the last time, you idiot!"

The word idiot made Harry blink and step back as Hermione threw her arms around Ron's neck. "Hermione, maybe yeh should take Ron up t' Gryffindor. He looks like he should sit down a bit,” Hagrid boomed. It was true. Ron was even whiter than before.

"Oh. Okay. That's...yes, Gryffindor." Hermione was flustered. She shifted so that Ron had one arm over her shoulders and prepared to help him up to the common room.

"Hermione, I love you, " Ron said suddenly. "I've been in love with you forever, I think." Hermione took three swift steps away from him and stared before swaying dizzily on the spot.

A loud cheer and wild applause split the air. "Maybe yeh both need to have a bit of a sit." Hagrid laughed and shoved Ron forward to Hermione. Ron was grinning from ear to ear.

"You couldn't have waited until the Formal to say that?" Hermione asked as Ron put an arm around her waist and aimed them in the direction of Gryffindor Tower. "It would have been so much more romantic."

Ron waved one hand. "At least I've said it, haven't I?" To Harry it seemed as though the arm around Hermione's waist gathered her closer . "And I meant it, which is more than most blokes can say." Hermione leaned her head on his shoulder and Harry turned away so as not to intrude on any more of the moment. He turned straight into Ginny's beaming face.

"Oh,” she breathed, watching her brother and friend walk away. "That was so romantic anyway, Hermione." Harry watched her reach up to wipe tears off of her cheeks. Her eyes were sparkling as she looked into Harry's own; Harry felt an urge to turn and run, for some odd reason. "She'll remember that forever--even better than if he'd said it at the Formal. Don't you think so, Harry?" Her smile wasn't the bright smile that Harry normally saw on her face; it was sweet, quietly joyful, and beautiful. Something about her tear-streaked pink cheeks and her smiling pink mouth made Harry's heart spin crazily; he knew that he was staring at Ginny and couldn't stop it. He wanted to...he needed to...

"I need to see Madam Pomfrey." He lurched down the hall feeling disoriented and out of sorts. He spent most of the afternoon in the Hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey had taken one look at him and confined him to bed, even putting curtains up so that he wouldn't be disturbed. Ginny had come in, Harry had feigned sleep. She had sat silently beside his bed for several minutes. Before she'd left he'd felt a warm touch on his forehead and gentle fingers in his hair, smoothing it over his scar. She'd left as quietly as she'd come.

It was why Harry was now lying in his own four-poster and staring at his drapes, though he wasn't quite sure why. Both Neville and Ron had fallen asleep easily hours earlier and even Dean and Seamus had quieted down. Harry continued to watch his drapes sway. "Seamus, you still awake?" he called softly. He was answered by a muffled grunt. "Seamus?"

"'s matter, Harry?" A sleepy voice asked after a few more snuffles.

"What would you do if your sister wanted to date?"

He was met with the rattling sound of drapes being shoved back and so parted his own. Seamus, hair standing out in all directions, was staring at him. "I don't have a sister." He blinked a few times. "You woke me up just to ask about a sister you know I don't have?"

Harry winced. "Well, it's just hypothetical," he said. "If you had a sister...and she wanted to date..."

"Hypothetically, I don't have a sister." Seamus shut his drapes with another odd look at Harry.

Dean's voice sounded after a moment. "My sister is at University. She doesn't date college boys."

"Oh." Harry closed his own drapes. "It was just a question. It was, what's the word..."

"Rhetoric." Ron called out. "Go to sleep, Harry. Quit worrying about it."

"Oh." Harry stayed awake long after Wednesday had melted into Thursday.

* * *

Harry slept late on Thursdays. It was mostly because he had History of Magic first and that was just as good as sleeping in, after six years of sitting through Professor Binns's lectures, Harry had learned that the desks could be very comfortable if you knew them well enough. He never really woke up until he reached Charms, which was fine because Charms had grown quite complex and being well rested was an asset.

"Alright, everybody, wands out and books closed." Professor Flitwick announced with a clap of his hands once the class had settled in. "We're having a quiz today. So put everything but your wands away and I'd like you all to Banish your desks to line the walls; we want a nice, open space to work in." There were grumbles, soft swearing and a lofty 'I told you so' from Hermione to Ron. "Good, good, excellent," Flitwick beamed. "Now, we've been studying the different vera charms and their uses; today we're having a quiz on the actual application. A nice, easy Practical." There was even more groaning. Flitwick continued to smile. "To help us, I've invited the fifth form advanced class to be our subjects." He pointed his wand at the door and it swung open to reveal a group of twenty or so nervous fifth years. One of them was Ginny Weasley. "You'll each have one fifth year to put under your spell and question. Do any of you have a question for me before we begin?"

"Professor?" Hermione's hand shot up. "What sort of questions are we allowed to ask in order to verify the effect of the spell?"

Flitwick hadn't seemed to have considered this. "Oh, well. Nothing too personal, I should think. Birthdays, names, ages, that sort of thing. They're being good enough to study with us today, so try not to embarrass anybody." He scanned the room. "No more questions? Good, good, let's begin." He turned to the fifth years and nodded. Each of the fifth years moved to stand in front of somebody and Harry was both surprised and not surprised at all to be faced with Ginny.

"Ginny." Harry nodded slightly, determined to be polite and professional.

"Hi, Harry," Ginny beamed. "I'm glad I got you as a partner. Ron would be sure to ask me something nice and embarrassing never mind what Professor Flitwick said to the otherwise."

Harry felt a smile tugging at his own mouth. "Of course he would; he'd say something about sisters being exempt." Ginny made a wry face and giggled.

The diminutive instructor clapped his hands for silence and the class turned to face him. "Fifth years, pay attention to what your partner does and says! Even if your partner does it wrong, you can still learn from them! If you're ready, please begin "

"Sorry about this, Ginny," Harry muttered and he felt his cheeks heat. Ginny's answering smile made it worse.

"I trust you, Harry." She nodded and spread her arms with a flourish. "Cast your spell."

He took a deep breath, aimed his wand at her heart and gathered his concentration. "Ginny Weasley," he murmured, even though he knew that he didn't need her name to make it work. "Ginny Weasley re vera." Nothing spectacular happened but since nobody else had produced a flash of light or rush of sound, Harry decided not to worry about it. "Um, are you alright, Ginny? I didn't hurt you or anything, did I?"

Ginny shook her head. "I feel fine."

"Okay." Harry studied her for a moment, unsure of what to ask her. He felt a bit nervous. "Okay. Uh, what's your name?" Nothing personal, Flitwick had said. Nice, impersonal questions.

Ginny laughed. "It's Ginny. You just used it for the spell."

"I meant your full name." Harry said. He refused to feel stupid. Absolutely refused to. "Flitwick said to ask."

"Oh. Well Ginny is my full name." She tugged thoughtfully on the end of her ponytail. "If it helps, Percy's name is Percy and Bill's name is Bilius, but don't call him that unless you want to meet Charlie's dragons up close and personal." She grinned and Harry grinned back.

"I'll keep that in mind,” he told her solemnly. "When is your birthday?" He realized only after he asked her that he wouldn't really know if she lied to him.

"It's August the third." She shrugged. "Come on, ask me something I can lie about. I'd really like to see how this charm works. We've only studied it in regards to charming items like Sneakoscopes."

"Oh. They're supposed to be like back up to Veritaserum. It gets used at trials and the like." Harry rather liked Charms; it was one of his better classes and, because of his godfather, he found the judicial-charms very interesting. "Dark Wizards can sometimes break one or the other, but so far nobody has managed to beat both of them together."

Cocking her head, Ginny nodded. "That sounds a lot more interesting than spelling items." She glittered blue as she said it and Harry blinked.

"Does that mean it's working?" He wondered as the blue faded away.

"I wouldn't know." Ginny glittered blue again and smiled.

Harry stared at her and then laughed. "Okay, so it works." He cast about for another question to ask, since Flitwick hadn't yet called the test to an end. A question came to him unbidden. "Why did you call me an idiot? Really?"

Across from him, Ginny's eyes widened. "I already told you, I wanted to warn you."

She stayed her normal color except for the faint blush that touched her face. Harry decided to keep on with his line of questioning. She could always stop if she didn't want to answer. "What were you warning me against?"

"Being an idiot." Her answer was guarded and she seemed to be studying herself for hints of lying as much as he was.

"Why did you think I'd need to be warned? It's not something dangerous, or else you'd have said something. Why did you choose to call me an idiot for a warning and what do you think I should be warned against?" Harry stared hard at Ginny and she met his gaze unflinchingly.

"I wanted to warn you without telling you; you're doing something that you might regret." As Ginny spoke she glittered yellow.

Professor Flitwick left Neville and the fifth year Hufflepuff to stand in the center of the room. "Wondrous! Look here, everybody! Mr. Potter has managed to find his way to an ambiguous answer! Whatever Mr. Potter's question was, Ms. Weasley is able to give an answer that is essentially true but containing elements of falsehood!" Flitwick patted Harry's sleeve. "What was the question, if you please, and we'll all have a bit of a lesson on ferreting out the correct answer before the quiz ends."

Harry looked from his Professor to Ginny. She bit her lip and shrugged. The gentlemanly thing to do would be to decline Flitwick politely, but Harry wanted an answer. "I asked 'What do you think I should be warned against?'" There was a soft outbreak of concerned sounding whispers which Harry ignored adroitly.

"Ah." Flitwick glanced nervously between Harry and Ginny but Harry noticed only vaguely; he was focused on Ginny's eyes and the determined set of her chin. "Ms. Weasley, your reply?" he said at last.

Ginny's voice was calm and cool. "I said 'you're doing something you might regret.'" As she spoke the yellow glitter flared up again.

Professor Flitwick winced. "Ah."

Harry continued to keep his eyes locked on Ginny's. He watched a small, mostly humorless smile tilt the corner of her mouth. "I should have said 'I hope.'" She said when it seemed like Flitwick wouldn't ask the next question.

Harry found himself taking a step toward her. She hoped what, he wondered. Hoped that he was doing something he'd regret? Hoped he might regret what he was doing? And what was he doing that she thought or hoped he would regret? He didn't get to ask. Professor Flitwick's squeaky voice directed the fifth years to return to their common rooms and the sixth years to take their seats before Harry could move more than one step. Ginny held his eyes for a long moment before she left the room with her classmates and Harry didn't see her for the rest of Thursday even though he stayed up late hoping to catch her as she went to Astronomy.

* * *

Harry was stopped by no less then two professors, three students and Madam Pomfrey on Friday; all of them asking if he felt quite okay. Harry told them all that he felt perfectly fine and later had to wonder why they'd backed away from him so quickly. In fact, the only person who hadn't inquired after his health and then fled was Colin Creevey.

"Are you feeling alright, Harry. You look a bit peaked." Colin plopped himself in the seat to Harry's left, which was usually Ginny's seat.

Harry smiled pleasantly. "I'm fine, thank you for asking." Across the table Parvati nudged Lavender and smirked. Harry ignored them.

"Ginny!" Colin waved excitedly at the door. "I've saved you a seat!"

"Ta, Colin!" Ginny beamed. "I was looking for you earlier." She confessed as she seated herself on Colin's other side. Harry smiled pleasantly at everybody he could see. "I wanted to ask if you minded leaving a bit late tomorrow morning. I'd like to wait until the dew dries before we walk in; my cloak was soaked through at the bottom last time."

Colin laughed. "I don't mind at all. I was going to ask for a later time too. So, what say we have a game of chess or Snap after breakfast and leave after that?"

"That sounds like fun." Ginny grinned at Colin, who smiled like a dolt, in Harry's opinion.

Harry stood up with a smile; down at the other end of the table Natalie McDougal blinked at him and then carefully concentrated on her mashed potato. "Well, I'm off for class," he said brightly. "See you later, Colin. Ginny."

"Oh, yeah, bye Harry." Colin waved absentmindedly.

Ginny studied him seriously before waving as well. "See you later, Harry."

Out in the hall, Filch stopped him and sent him to see Madam Pomfrey, 'before he got every wretched student sick'; Madam Pomfrey dosed him with Pepper-up Potion and a piece of chocolate 'just to be on the safe side'. She didn't seem very satisfied with her handiwork when she finally released him to go to class and none of his teachers seemed very happy to see him. His classmates and all of his housemates seemed to be avoiding him. That might have been why the common room was uncommonly empty when Harry sat himself down in front of the fire.

"Ginny?" he said softly. Ginny was sitting in one of the armchairs, working on a multi-colored chart that Harry recognized as a daily prediction chart from Divination. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Harry," Ginny put aside her Divination and tucked the quill in her hand into hair along with a large assortment of other quills. "But I need to finish this dratted chart for Monday and I don't want to spend the weekend trying to make stuff up." For a long moment Harry stared at the way the firelight played over her hair, making the red golden. There was something about the way the firelight played over the skin of her neck, left bare by the upswept mass...Ginny smiled and he looked down.

He thought about the things he'd wanted to say. Ginny, I really do consider you a friend of mine. I've thought of you as a friend for a long time, actually; I know that at first you were just 'Ron's little sister' to me, but over the last few years that's changed. You outgrew that little crush and we got to be friends...so I really would like, as a friend, a reasonable answer at to why you called me an idiot a few nights ago and what exactly that exchange in Charms was all about. Instead of that carefully planned little speech, Harry heard himself ask, "Colin is gay, right?"

"What?" Ginny, who had been slouched in the chair with her legs thrown over the arm, sat upright so swiftly that Harry jumped.

"As the wind, right?"he asked.

"No! As a matter of fact, Colin and I have a bit of a date tomorrow; we're going around Hogsmeade together." Ginny stared at him in open astonishment.

"I knew that...I was at the table when he asked you. Right next to you, remember?"

Ginny frowned. "That's right, you were. So why are you asking if Colin is gay?"

Harry shrugged. "Because I thought he might be?" he offered lamely.

With careful motions Ginny packed up her parchment and Harry felt his mouth go dry, for some reason he didn't really want to examine, when her hair tumbled down as she removed the quills one at a time. "Harry, this is one of those 'idiot' moments." She said to him as she tucked her books under her arm. "The ones I think you might end up regretting." She disappeared up the stairs to her dorm.

"You hope," Harry muttered, eyes still on the staircase. "Or maybe you hope not."

He headed for his own bed thinking about Saturday.

* * *

The Hogsmeade weekend had been made to order, it seemed. Balmy, sunny, and just breezy enough to make a stop for a warm butterbeer a good idea. Harry didn't get to go. As Ginny and Colin finished their game of chess, which Colin lost amicably, Professor McGonagall showed up to drag Harry off to the Headmaster's office for 'a word'. Ron and Hermione had both managed to overhear.

"What'd you do now, Harry?" Ron hissed.

"What's happened?" Hermione demanded.

Harry could only shrug and watch as Colin offered Ginny his hand as they picked up their cloaks and headed out of the portrait hole. McGonagall meanwhile, finished telling off the first year who had been tossing Exploding Snap cards into the fire in order to watch the fireballs shoot out. "Mr. Potter..." and Harry had to follower her down the hall and up the stairs instead of going to Hogsmeade.

"Sirius!" He exclaimed as he entered Dumbledore's office. His godfather's head smiled at him from the fireplace.

"It's good to see you again, Harry." His Sirius's head said to him as McGonagall left the room. Dumbledore was feeding Fawkes and ignoring them as best he could. "I haven't got much time, but I wanted to catch up with you."

Perhaps, Harry thought, missing the trip to town wasn't so bad after all. "Sirius, what do you do when you want a girl to like you but you're not sure if she does or if she'll even care because you've been a moron and didn't notice her even though she's done some really stupid things to get you to notice her?"

In the corner, Dumbledore chuckled to himself. Harry pretended to ignore him. "Oh, so you finally noticed Ginny!" Sirius exclaimed. Then paled. "Please, tell me it's Ginny. Ron will kill you if it's Hermione."

"Why in the world would you think it's Hermione?" Harry asked. "And how did you know it was Ginny?" he demanded once he got past the notion of himself and Hermione in any sort of...entanglement.

"Like father, like son," Sirius grinned. "Alright, I've got a story to tell you but I've got to make this quick." Harry nodded eagerly. "Alright, well, James and Lily met on the train in first year and...well, Prongs was just a wee bit smitten with Lily." Sirius's smile was fondly amused even if it was only barely there. "He tried just about everything to get her attention and she just kept on with her friends, blithely ignoring him until one day he did something so surprising that she couldn't help but notice him. After she got over the...shock, Lily and James were inseparable. We teased them about it for years, naturally. But it worked. Lily always said that it was worth it."

Dumbledore chuckled. "Is that the incident in the Great Hall, Sirius?"

"Yep." Sirius laughed and then sighed. "I've got to go; Remus and I need to be out of this town before night falls." He smiled once more. "I'll see you again soon, Harry. Take care of yourself."

Harry nodded. "You take care of yourself and Professor Lupin, okay?" Sirius nodded and as the flames rose up Harry realized something. "Sirius, wait! What did Dad do to get Mum to like him?" But Sirius had gone.

"He kissed her, of course." Dumbledore said, opening the door to show Harry out. "Of course, she slapped him, but after that..." Dumbledore chuckled richly as

Harry passed him. "I think you can fill in the rest for yourself."

Harry decided to head for the kitchen for a snack, since it was really too late to go to Hogsmeade. Besides...now that he'd finally noticed what he hadn't been noticing, he didn't really want to see Ginny out with Colin.

Dobby was the first elf to notice him. "Harry Potter, sir!" He beamed. "I is hoping you is coming to see me!"

One of the other elves bowed. "What is we bringing for sir?"

"Whatever it is that will make Ginny Weasley realize I'm not an idiot," Harry said thoughtfully as he sat down at one of the counters.

Dobby and the other elf exchanged looks. "Harry Potter, sir, we is not making that sort of thing here. There are pies that we are baking, if Harry Potter would like that?" Dobby offered. "And maybe tea or milks to be had, but we is not having spells for girls in the kitchens."

Harry blinked and looked around at the elves who were eyeing him. "Oh, pie and a glass of milk sounds lovely." He had them, as well as a napkin and another slice of pie, should he want it, in front of him in an instant. "I mean," he said around a bite of truly wondrous apple pie, "she really went out of her way and I didn't say a thing to her. She must have been so humiliated by that Valentine."

He saw Dobby look nervously at the other elves. "I is sure, sir, that she is not humiliated now, sir. I'm sure she's forgiven sir."

"That's the thing." Harry nodded. "She has forgiven me. And I didn't even see it because I'm so thick. And now...it's like I've got to make it up to her. I've got to...I've got to be humiliated like she was. I've got to be the center of attention like Mum was if I want to be like Dad!" He leapt to his feet. "I need a Valentine dwarf." He looked down as Dobby cringed.

"Sir, the dwarves are not wanting to do such a thing again sir. They were having to be shamed for years after that, sir. They won't talk to Dobby when they sees where it is that Dobby works." Harry passed a hand over his eyes and Dobby sighed mournfully. "They is leaving behind some things, if you are wanting to go through with such a thing, sir."

Harry grinned. "What did they leave? And where?" Dobby rummaged in a low cupboard and came up with a pair of golden wings and a harp. "That's brilliant, Dobby! Will they fit you?" Harry grinned madly and gave serious thought to hugging the small elf.

"Oh, no sir." Dobby shook his head slowly as the other elves backed away from both he and Harry. "These are not fitting at all."

Harry stared at him. "But then..." His grin fell away.

He stayed in his dorm for the rest of the day, working. He spent most of the day in the window seat or on his bed with the curtains drawn. He skipped dinner and avoided everybody. He did, however, see Ginny and Colin come back from their date. They were walking with another girl that Harry didn't know and a happy-looking Colin was holding her hand instead of Ginny's. Harry ducked back away from the windows as he realized that Ginny was watching the windows of Gryffindor Tower. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.

* * *

Sunday morning came and Harry hated it with a passion. He couldn't think of anything on earth that he hated more than Sunday morning. He lay in bed staring at the hands on his watch, which hadn't moved since the second task over two years ago, and tried to find enough courage to get out of bed. One by one he watched his friends dress and head for breakfast and as he lay, listening, he could hear Gryffindor become quiet. The slant of the sun told him that he had precious little time to get himself ready to go down for breakfast. He summoned the image of his parents before him and the image of Ginny Weasley as she'd sat doing her homework in front of the fire, and the way she'd scanned the window as she'd come back from her day out with Colin. Rolling out of bed, Harry prepared himself for the worst thing he could think of. Breakfast.

The loud chatter of the Great Hall at breakfast died the instant Harry walked into the room. He could hear the wild whispers start up immediately. Most of them seemed to consist of horror, disbelief, happy laughter and, from the Slytherin end of the room-scorn. Harry ignored everybody and focused on Ginny. He twanged his harp and hoped the that wings looked a little less stupid than they had four minutes ago when he'd seen himself in the mirror. "Ginny Weasley!" He called out, silencing the excited whispering. "Ginny, I've got a singing Valentine for you!" He plucked at the strings and refused to give into the temptation to close his eyes and die.

"Her eyes are as brown as sparrow's down

Her hair is as red as a fire.

She's really fine, and I've been blind

To this girl I've found I desire."

He ended his little song with another loud strum on the harp strings and wondered if it were possible to be redder than Ginny was at that moment or if they were merely equal. The Great Hall echoed with silence.

"Harry! What do you...how could you...you...I can't believe..." Ginny rushed to him and began shoving him out of the room, her frantic spluttering sounded loud in the silence. She turned, smiled painfully at everybody and closed the doors to the Great Hall. Harry waved. Once the doors were closed they could hear the room explode into talk and raucous laughter. "Harry!" Ginny turned to him, cheeks flaming.

He smiled. "I wrote you a Valentine,” he told her.

She buried her head in her hands. "What were you thinking?"she moaned.

"That I should be an entirely different sort of idiot," he told her seriously, drawing her hands away from her face. "I thought I should stop being idiotically blind and see if I couldn't just be plain idiotically in love with you."

"What?" She didn't actually say the word, but Harry lip-read it well enough.

"Well, I don't know if I'm in love with you yet. But I think I could be if you'd give me a chance to really get to know you." He squeezed one of her hands and was very grateful when she flung her arms around him, wings and all.

"Harry Potter, you're an idiot,” she whispered into his chest. He just smiled.

Thinking on it later, as twilight settled, Harry smiled again. Ginny was curled up on the love seat next to him, their feet cozily tangled together, and both of them working furiously on homework they should have done days before. Ron and Hermione were playing chess and taunting each other. There was something to be said, Harry thought, for Sunday nights.

//
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