The Sugar Quill
Author: DeeDee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Long Walk in the Grounds  Chapter: Default
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Harry shut the portrait hole behind them and looked at Ginny sheepishly. Her freckled cheeks were flushed, one eyebrow was raised, and her mouth - he noticed thankfully - was curved into a grin.

"There she is, queen of the evening!" cooed the Fat Lady, smiling on them fondly.

"Um, a walk?" asked Harry, wanting privacy from nosy paintings as much as the rowdy Quidditch team.

"I don't know... You might try to take advantage of me." Seeing Harry's gaping mouth, she laughed. "I'm kidding! Kidding, Harry." She nodded her head down the hall. "C'mon."

They walked some way in silence before Harry took a deep breath and managed to say, "Sooo..."

"Yeah."

He laughed uneasily. "I hope you aren't mad about that. I mean, me just kissing you in front of everyone like that without permission."

"Harry, you've had my permission since I was eleven years old."

"So you're okay with this? I know you just broke up with Dean, and I don't want to..." He trailed off. Didn't want to what, exactly? He could only think of things he did want to do, and the twisting creature in his chest was ordering him to shut up and do them.

"You don't want to...?" she prompted.

"I don't want to... not do this." He looked at her and gave her a wide smile that she returned.

Ginny reached over and took his hand as they continued walking, passing snoozing portraits. "Well, Ron will be happy."

Harry started. "Ron? Really?"

"Oh, yeah. Remember last year on the train, he kept trying to hint at you and me?"

"Not really," Harry confessed. "But I was really distracted last year on the train."

"Yeah, you were." She squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry."

They lapsed into silence again, and Harry couldn't help feeling even more relieved. Not only would he not have to choose between Ron and Ginny, but Ron was happy about this! One less thing to worry about, and he could always use more of that.

The sun still shone brightly as they stepped outside, and Harry blinked against it. After the darkness of Snape's dungeon, it was hard to adjust his eyes. They passed a group of kids who immediately started whispering, and Harry glanced at Ginny.

"There'll be a lot of gossip," he said.

"There always is." She smiled easily and tucked some stray red hairs behind her ear. Her hair was still somewhat messy from the match, and Harry found that he liked it. "We're doing a good deed, giving them something new to talk about."

They reached the lake and sat down beside it. Ginny kicked off her shoes and leaned back on her elbows, smiling up at the sun. Harry leaned against a tree and watched Ginny.

"When did you start liking me?" she asked, turning to him.

"I don't know, really. I think I just noticed how jealous I was whenever I saw you with Dean. And..." His face felt warm and he stopped.

"Oh, what?" she asked eagerly, sitting up and facing him, her legs crossed. "Tell me!"

"Well... Slughorn showed us a Love Potion at the beginning of the year, and for me, it smelled kind of like that perfume you wear." He knew his face must be redder than her hair, and he looked away towards the lake.

"I don't wear perfume," Ginny replied, looking confused. "What does it smell like?"

Harry coughed. "Kind of flowery...?"

"Oh." She smiled. "That's what I use to wash my hair." She scooted closer to him and drew out some strands of her hair. "Is that it?"

He leaned towards her and breathed in. "Yeah. That's it."

Ginny grinned and was about to move back again, but Harry slid his hand over her neck and held her there. Her mouth was still smiling as he kissed her again, still surprised at how right this felt. Ginny drew back a little and lifted her fingers towards his forehead.

"Can I?" she asked. Harry nodded, and she touched the scar, tracing it with her index finger. "Famous Harry Potter. I heard bedtime stories about you." She leaned back on her heels. "I feel weird saying this, but you were always sort of my hero. And that makes this..." She laughed nervously. "Really strange. But also really great."

After some time, they got up and walked around the lake in silence, hands clasped. When they eventually made their way back to the castle again, they stopped and faced each other.

"I guess this means we're going out now," said Harry awkwardly. "Right?"

"Do you want to go out with me?"

"Yeah."

"Then we're going out," said Ginny, the freckles on her cheeks playing as she smiled. "Can I call you Har-Har? Pot-Pot?"

"Oh, Merlin..." Harry groaned, and they both broke into laughter. "Hey, I do have one question. Um... what's your name? I mean, your real name."

Ginny wrinkled her nose. "Ginevra. It's the Italian form of Guinevere."

Harry smiled. "One more question."

"You're pushing your luck, Potter," she said cheekily.

"Am I a better kisser than Dean?"

"Harry!" she exclaimed. "I'm not going to tell you that!" She started forward into the castle, then reached back to reclaim his hand. "But yes," she said over her shoulder.

Harry grinned broadly and followed her inside.
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