The Sugar Quill
Author: Ellyse (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: On Wings  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.

On Wings

 

 

A/N - Thank you to Zsenya, for beta reading this, and thank you, thank you, thank you JKR for Harry and Ginny in HBP – they do, of course, belong to her.

 

I know that this is not the first time this particular missing moment has been written. I also know that it will certainly not be the last. However, this is my interpretation of the hour after The Kiss.

 

Obviously, this story is fluffalicious. You have been warned.

 

 

On Wings

 

Harry looked around; there was Ginny running towards him; she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her.

                                                                                                - HBP, p.499 (UK edition)

*      *      *

Harry’s mind was awhirl. Had that really just happened? Had that been real? Had he actually, finally kissed Ginny?  

 

He clambered through the portrait hole, glad to leave the catcalling and giggling behind. Then he waited impatiently while Ginny climbed after him, being careful not to help her even a little bit.  

 

As if in slow motion, Harry watched Ginny step lightly into the stone corridor. His surroundings seemed to be contracting around him so that he could only focus on her. Her face reflected the jumble of emotions tumbling through his mind; he could see everything from triumph to apprehension to excitement shining across her pretty features.   

 

The portrait swung shut behind her. The noise of the common room was instantly muted.

 

Their first kiss had happened in a glorious blur. Harry wanted to savour this second one so that he could remember every detail of it; so that he could store it away and keep it safe, like a glittering Pensieve memory.

 

Harry looked down, Ginny looked up, and the space between them began to seep away…

 

There was a stifled but very audible gasp. A few infuriating inches from one another, Harry and Ginny turned around. The Fat Lady was staring at them, her hands clasped over her mouth, her eyes wide with anticipation above her chubby fingers.

 

Harry felt himself redden. Odd that it should happen now, with this one spectator, rather than the fifty or so he had just left. Ginny, however, was laughing.

 

“Come on.” Harry grinned sheepishly at her.

 

They started along the corridor.

 

“Don’t let me stop you!” the Fat Lady called merrily after them. Ginny laughed harder.

 

Harry was aware that he was taking unnaturally large strides, so much so that Ginny was almost trotting to keep up. But he could not make himself slow down. Having made the same short walk several times a day for six years, he could not understand why the end of the corridor seemed so far away all of a sudden. Dreamlike, it floated ahead of them, appearing to get further away the closer they got to it.

 

Eventually, they were out of the Fat Lady’s eyesight and in another secluded corridor that was punctuated by suits of armour. Harry stopped walking. They needed to stop. For after weeks of waiting, they were finally completely alone together.

 

They looked at one another.

 

“Harry…” Ginny began.

 

Hearing her say his name, Harry felt his skin tighten and tingle at the same time. His heart thudded painfully in his chest. It seemed to be pumping much hotter blood than usual around his body. His insides felt on fire; an everlasting, unquenchable fire that had been ignited by this spark of a person in front of him.

 

He needed to kiss her again. Immediately.

 

Perhaps Ginny could read this from the expression on his face. Or perhaps she knew because was feeling exactly the same thing. Either way, she did not finish her sentence.

 

It happened in seconds. One moment they were standing there, staring at each other so intently they could have been trying to perform wandless magic, and the next they were in each other’s arms.

 

All thoughts of savouring the moment were gone. Harry kissed Ginny from the very core of the fire within him. The fire he had not known had existed previously, the fire he never thought he could have possessed and the fire that she, somehow, had created. He knew he was not terribly experienced. He also knew he was not being terribly restrained. But it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except him and Ginny; Ginny was here, with him, at last.

 

Her face was hot, as he knew his must be, and her lips were warm against his. They snatched breaths every so often, but Harry felt the need to breathe was really far less pressing than the need to continue kissing Ginny. Her arms had wound their way around his neck and he could feel one of her hands around the back of his head pressing him forward, urging him on. His arms were around her waist, with Harry not having the faintest idea of how they had gotten there. He kept his hands tightly clamped there, worried that in the heat of the moment they would wander.

 

Desiring more, Harry made a soft noise in his throat and kissed her as firmly as he dared. Ginny seemed to understand what he was getting at and opened her mouth a little further. Feeling exultant, Harry tasted her lip with the tip of his tongue; it was sweet and smooth. Emboldened, he explored further, relishing in what he was discovering.

 

While he was entirely diverted with this, Ginny appeared to be multi-tasking. As she was keenly responding to Harry’s probing tongue, one of her hands had moved down the neck of his robes, which she was tugging at gently. Harry let her lead him as she backed slowly across the corridor, finally resting against its wall. It was cooler here, in the shadows, and Harry did not need to worry about tipping her off balance with the support of the wall behind her. Concerned that she would knock her head against the stone however, he cradled the back of it in his hand. Ginny made a half-sighing, half-moaning sound. As Harry adjusted his hand slightly, he was suddenly so aware of her flowery scent, so aware of how ridiculously attractive she smelled, that he felt light-headed with the need to drink all of her in

  

Harry could quite happily have stayed in the corner of that corridor for the rest of term, and perhaps they would have done, had it not been for a great crashing sound nearby. Harry felt as if he were being wrenched in two as reluctantly, grudgingly, they looked around for the source of the noise. Instantly, there was a second crash, followed by a horribly familiar cackling.

 

“Is that -?” Ginny began.

 

“Peeves,” said Harry.

 

He seized her hand and pulled her behind a suit of armour. He did not want to be targeted by the poltergeist right now. He and Ginny crouched in the shadows, flushed and panting as though they had been running. Moments later, Peeves whizzed by, pelting the corridor with familiar-looking sweets, singing loudly and tunelessly:

 

“Gryffindor, Gryffindor,

Have won the Quidditch Cup

So Peeves will give them Skiving Snacks

To make them all throw up!”

 

“Fred and George have a lot to answer for,” Ginny whispered.

 

After waiting a few more moments to make sure Peeves was completely gone, Harry stood up. He was disappointed to realise that, in the process of doing so, he had let go of Ginny’s hand.

 

He looked around the deserted corridor and felt his face flush with embarrassment. It was about the dankest, darkest, dustiest corner of the castle. This was not where he had imagined these moments with Ginny to be. In his head they had always been somewhere very exciting, or impressive, or sanitary. He had certainly not been straight out of detention with Snape, feeling about as stale as the cards he had been sorting through.

 

He had been a bit taller as well.

 

Ginny, dusting off her Quidditch robes, seemed to read his mind.

 

“Let’s go outside,” she said.

 

As they began to walk, Harry could not help thinking that, despite his and their location’s real-life shortcomings, Ginny was just as good in the flesh. Better in fact. She seemed to radiate brightness and warmth to such an extend he was surprised his glasses had not steamed up. Her robes were a little rumpled, her hair was a little tousled, both of which Harry suspected had more to do with him than the Quidditch match, and her dark-eyed, rosy-cheeked face was just beguilingly pretty. He had a desperate urge to grab her hand, just to touch her, to check she was real and that she was not simply going to vanish like Leprechaun gold.

 

However there were more pressing matters at hand. Like that fact that they had barely exchanged two sentences, despite having been alone together for almost ten minutes.

 

They started down a great stone staircase. Harry ran his hand idly down the banister. He had to say something. Anything.

 

“I can’t believe that happened,” he blurted out. “In front of everyone, I mean.”

 

“I know,” Ginny said. “I thought you were the shy and retiring type.”

 

Harry thought he should try to explain. “I just... I couldn’t help myself.”

 

“Harry, I’m not complaining,” Ginny smiled.

 

Harry grinned back, almost forgetting to duck under a tapestry.

 

“Ron’s face though,” Ginny said gleefully.

 

Harry snorted. “I thought I was a gonner.”

 

“I thought I was a gonner!” she exclaimed. “After everything I’ve said to him about Lavender, and then we go and do that.”

 

“It’s completely different though, isn’t it?” Harry felt suddenly panicked; Ron and Lavender seemed so empty in comparison. This had to be different.

 

“Of course it is,” Ginny said.

 

Harry felt as though he were glowing inside. This walking and talking thing was going well too. Although it was difficult looking at her, especially when she was looking back at him, because he had the overpowering desire to launch himself at her again. Thinking this would not be wise near so many stairs, Harry decided to keep his eyes ahead, at least for the moment.

 

With temptation now only in the corner of his eye, he voiced the question he was itching to ask; “so when did you get that I – er - ?”

 

“Liked me?” Ginny frowned a little. “I don’t know,” she said. “I kind of got hints of stuff from you, but I thought that was all in my mind. And then when I broke up with Dean, and we were practicing Quidditch all the time, I thought… I knew that something was going on. And I wanted to figure out what but…” She laughed. “But Ron was always there!”

 

“I know!”

 

“It was awful!” Ginny cried. “All I wanted was to get you alone for five seconds, just to be sure, but no, there was Ron. Every time!”

 

Harry chanced a look at her. “Was I really obvious?”

 

“Well, you’re not exactly the world’s most subtle person, Harry,” Ginny said, nudging him playfully. “There were things you would say and looks you would give me... And then Hermione said –”  

 

“I knew she knew!” Harry burst out. “I knew it!”

 

Ginny nodded. “Hermione knows everything,” she said seriously.

 

“She does.”

 

“Except when it comes to her own love life, of course.”

 

Harry groaned. “Don’t get me started on what I’ve had to endure this year.”

 

“You’re not the only one,” Ginny said. “Some people really need to get a move on with things.”

 

Harry suddenly felt incredibly lucky. He could not imagine being back in the time before he had kissed Ginny. He could not imagine enduring the waiting and the yearning all over again.

 

“I’m glad we’re here,” he said.

 

Ginny smiled warmly at him. “Me too,” she said.

 

He met her eyes and felt oddly calm. True, the need to grab her and kiss her right now, against the banister was still very much present in his mind, but it was countered and controlled by a peaceful, knowing sensation. Banisters could wait. She wasn’t going anywhere. And neither was he.

 

“So it’s a walk outside, then?” Ginny said, as they reached the ground floor of the castle.

 

“Yeah,” said Harry.

 

“Just a walk?” Ginny’s mouth was curved into a half-smile and her dark eyes were mischievous.

 

Harry grinned. “Well,” he said. “We could do other stuff, if you like.”

 

“Really?” Ginny feigned surprise. “Like what, Harry?”

 

This time he nudged her. “What do you think?”

 

“You tell me.”

 

“I’ll show you.”

 

What had he been worried about? He could talk to her. This wasn’t any girl. This wasn’t Cho, or Parvati, or Romilda Vane and her giggling companions. This was Ginny. Butter dish-elbowing, valentine-sending, Pygmy Puff-owning, Bat Bogey-hexing, Snitch-catching, goal-scoring, chocolate-bearing, Ministry-storming Ginny. She wasn’t just any girl. She was the girl.

 

They had reached the entrance hall. Now that they were talking almost normally, the irresistible urge to hold her hand seized Harry once more. All he had to do was reach out and touch it, yet something was holding him back. He felt as though he should ask her permission, which was strange, seeing as he had not considered asking her permission to kiss her in front of everyone in the common room, nor to kiss her again in the corridor. Morosely he thought of a similar situation in Madam Puddifoot’s last year, and wondered whether he was simply incapable of hand-holding.

 

Then without warning, without fuss, Ginny slipped her hand into his.

 

Harry turned to her. She was smiling, but he thought he detected a certain nervousness about her face. As if she too was not quite sure what was going on or how they should be acting. Somewhat reassured, he squeezed her hand gently. Then he pushed open the great oak front doors ahead of them and they stepped into the glowing sunshine together.

 

In that moment, the feeble grip that Harry had still had on reality was lost. He felt as though he had drunk a cauldron of Felix Felicis, or several crates of Butterbeer, or simply as though he were swimming through a dream. He was giddy. He wondered if he let go of Ginny’s hand if he would continue to walk in a straight line, or whether he might just stumble off across the grounds until he collided with a tree or one of the greenhouses. Or the lake.

 

The sun was blazing down on the Hogwarts grounds. Harry blinked into it, temporarily blinded. The sky was clear, the air was completely still and all was blissfully serene. Not many people were about. The Gryffindors were all still celebrating in the common room while the Ravenclaws were presumably commiserating in theirs. In the distance, a few students Harry presumed were Hufflepuffs and Slytherins were dotted about the grounds, but the atmosphere was one of overwhelming peace.

 

Harry and Ginny walked away from the castle and across the lawn, in the vague direction of a clump of large trees. Harry was not sure that either of them was leading exactly, but he had a suspicion that Ginny was just as keen as he was to get away from the open grounds to somewhere more private. The few people around were openly staring at them and Harry became dimly aware that the Slytherin boys in the distance, one of whom he could have sworn was Blaise Zabini, were muttering amongst themselves.

 

“I should’ve changed,” Ginny said, picking at her Quidditch robes. “People are going to think I’m gloating.”

 

“You look nice,” Harry mumbled.

 

He inwardly grimaced. Why was he so bad at this? He had just uttered the biggest understatement of his life. Ginny in Gryffindor Quidditch robes was about the most attractive thing he had ever seen.

 

Ginny, however, seemed pleased.

 

“Thanks,” she said. “I always think you look best in your Quidditch stuff.”

 

Harry said nothing, but wondered how inappropriate it would be to wear his Quidditch robes now that the season had finished.

 

“I missed you in them today,” Ginny said, teasingly.

 

Harry seriously considered asking Professor McGonagall to lengthen the Quidditch season.

 

“What happened at the match?” he asked happily.

 

“The winning match,” Ginny corrected.

 

“What happened at the winning match?”

 

Ginny straightened. “It was brilliant,” she said. “Well, not at first. At first it was awful. The team spirit was fairly dreadful without you. I mean, everyone was trying their best, but we just didn’t think we even had a shot…”

 

“It was a tough game.”

 

“Yeah, and the Ravenclaws knew it. You should’ve seen how smug they looked when we walked onto the pitch. Like they thought there was no way… But once we kicked off, it just kept getting better and better. I mean, we could see the teams were reasonably well-matched but their Keeper’s no Wood, or even Ron, and their Chasers don’t have the tactics.”

 

“What about the other Seeker?” The words were out of Harry’s mouth before he had thought about them.

 

Cho?”

 

Harry had completely forgotten Cho even existed, let alone the fact that he had gone out with her the previous year. But now he remembered, he also recalled that it wasn’t wise to talk about some girls in front of other girls. He desperately tried to think of a way to salvage the situation, but Ginny seemed relatively unperturbed.

 

“She was all right,” she said generously. “Better than last year, a bit more together, and she’s not a bad Seeker really… I’m just better.”

 

“Yeah, you are,” Harry agreed, not thinking about Quidditch.

 

Ginny moved her hand playfully, so that both their arms swung back and forth.

 

“I do like playing Seeker,” she said thoughtfully.

 

“Watch it,” Harry warned. “I’m rather fond of it too.”

 

“Of course Chasing is the best,” Ginny said.

 

“How come?”

 

“You can only catch the Snitch once,” Ginny explained. “But you can score tons of goals.”

 

“Like seventeen…” Harry said, remembering her tryout.

 

Ginny looked at him. “With the right captain,” she said. “Maybe.”

 

They were walking by a group of Hufflepuff girls, all of whom goggled at them and then became extremely giggly the moment they had passed. Harry quickened their pace a little. Ginny looked disapprovingly over her shoulder.

 

“I think people will talk,” she said lightly.

 

“Really?”

 

Harry was used to many mutterings and whisperings about him. He had endured so much gossip about the Heir of Slytherin, the Fourth Champion, the Chosen One, that it had become almost commonplace to him. But talk about this…?

 

“Girls will,” Ginny assured him.

 

Harry shrugged.

 

“You don’t mind?” Ginny was watching him nervously. “I know you hate it. You shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s not fair.”

 

She managed to look concerned, wise and fierce all at the same time. Harry suddenly found he did not care one bit what anyone said. In fact, he wanted to shout from the top of the Astronomy Tower that she was his… that they were… what precisely?

 

Er, what exactly will they be talking about?” Harry asked.

 

Ginny looked at him quickly. “You know,” she said, a hint of a blush creeping over her face. “This.” She gestured between them.

 

Harry needed to be certain.

 

“That I’m your boyfriend,” he said.

 

“Yes.”

 

“And you’re my girlfriend.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And we’re…”

 

Stupid phrases like ‘dating’ and ‘seeing each other’ floated around his head. Ginny, however, had a better idea.

 

“Together,” she said firmly. “We’re together.”

 

Harry grinned; so it was settled, after months of waiting, just like that. It was difficult to believe that something so incredibly important could at the same time be so beautifully simple; that she had changed from being his friend to his girlfriend in a matter of moments.

 

Seemingly unconsciously, they moved closer together so that their arms were almost as entwined as their hands. Harry now had to work hard not only to avoid tripping over his own feet, but hers as well. Nevertheless it was worth it just to brush against her like this. Just to touch her in any way he could.

 

“Do you want to sit?” Ginny asked.

 

With a jolt of realisation, Harry realised they had entered the clump of trees that had been ahead of them.

 

“Yeah,” he said, using all his self-control not to sound as keen on the idea as he felt, lest he alarm her.

 

“Over there?” Ginny pointed ahead of them.

 

“Cool.”

 

She led him towards a large overhanging tree, under which the springy grass was dappled with the sunlight penetrating through the leaves above. Harry, who would have been perfectly content sitting in Filch’s office as long as Ginny was present, nevertheless appreciated her choice of spot. It was shaded, scenic and mercifully, wonderfully secluded.

 

He collapsed onto the grass. Ginny sat in front of him. They looked at one another. A breathless laugh escaped them both at almost the same time. It was not a laugh of embarrassment or awkwardness, though, but a laugh of necessity. Because if Harry did not laugh, he thought he might shout, or sing or cartwheel just to express the sheer joy that was bursting from inside him. He was grinning so hard his face hurt, but he did not care. He saw his emotion reflected right back at him on Ginny’s beaming face.

 

They moved together. They had to twist until they were almost side by side in order that they could support one another. Ginny’s arms rested on his shoulders, her hands clasped behind his head. It gave Harry the pleasant feeling of being completely encircled by her. One of Harry’s arms was supporting her back. The other had found the side of her face; his fingers rested against her smooth skin and his thumb could feel the faint throbbing of the pulse in her throat.

 

It was less urgent now. The fraught nature of their passion in the corridor had been replaced by long and leisurely kisses. They had something with no deadline, something that was not about to be snatched away, so they kissed as though time was theirs to play with. Their mouths pressed together with varying degrees of pressure, their tongues danced gently and everything was to experience and to enjoy.

 

A long while later, their lips parted lightly. Their faces stayed close though; their foreheads just touching. Harry closed his eyes momentarily, revelling in the comfort of being this shamelessly close to someone. He heard Ginny let out a small sigh and knew exactly what she meant; a feeling of utter contentment was stealing over him, making him feel almost drowsy.

 

He opened his eyes and looked into hers. They had a quizzical look about them. She sat back from him, though not before placing a hand in his, as though they were playing a game and one part of her always had to touch one part of him.

 

“What?” Harry asked her questioning expression.

 

“How long?” Ginny asked.

 

Harry ran a hand through his hair. “Months,” he said. Now he was here, he had no idea how he had endured so long without her. “Since before Christmas. But… I dunno. I reckon it was longer than that. I just… I just didn’t get it.”

 

He looked sideways, ashamed that he had been so slow. Why had he wasted so much time? Ginny leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.

 

“You’ve had a lot on your mind,” she whispered.

 

Harry felt the small patch of skin her lips had touched tingle warmly.

 

“You were the most pleasant thing,” he told her.

 

Ginny smiled and looked down at their clasped hands. Harry inclined his head to reciprocate the kiss on the cheek, but Ginny intercepted it. She giggled as their mouths bumped together. Harry, having found an even sweeter place than his intended target, kissed her readily and with a growing daring; spurred on by the appreciative little noises she was making. 

 

A slight breeze shook the leaves above them. Wisps of Ginny’s tousled hair teased Harry’s face. The flowery smell was as strong as it had been in the Amorentia, when Harry had smelled it in Potions so long ago. He pulled away from her as he suddenly realised something.

 

“That’s what it is.”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“This smell,” Harry explained. “It’s sort of flowery. It smells of you.”

 

Reaching behind her back, he showed her the end of her hair.

 

“Give it here,” Ginny laughed, taking a thick strand of her ponytail from him and sniffing it. She wrinkled her nose. “That just smells of shampoo, Harry.”

 

“It smells of Ginny.”

 

Ginny laughed again. Her nose was still creased. Because it was irresistibly small and sweet, Harry kissed it. Ginny mirrored the action. Then their mouths met once more and Harry quite forgot about noses and hair.

 

“You know what you smell of?” Ginny asked him sometime later.

 

Harry dreaded to think.

 

“What?” he asked cautiously.

 

“You know when you’ve just got on a broomstick and you soar off into the air for the first time that day, or week, or whenever? And no matter what you were feeling before, no matter what was happening on the ground, you just sort of feel… You feel that feeling.”

 

“Yeah…”

 

“That smells of Harry.”

 

Harry cocked his head. “That’s not a smell,” he said. “That’s a feeling.”

 

Ginny shrugged. “Well, whatever it is, it’s Harryish,” she assured him.

 

Harry was surprised; he knew exactly what feeling she was talking about. It was probably his favourite feeling in the world, perhaps second now to the feeling of being with her. And that feeling reminded her of him?

 

Mulling this over, Harry found himself fiddling with her hair again. He noticed for the first time that its vivid colour comprised of strands of dark red, light red, deep red, copper red, all equally bewitching as they caught the mottled sunlight. Ginny’s hair was captivatingly soft and silky between his fingers and, having identified the exact source of the flowery smell, he did not want let it go.

 

“Hey,” said Ginny. “I want to play.”

 

She began a lengthy inspection of his hair. Harry thought they must look a little like the chimpanzees he had once seen at the zoo with the Dursleys, inspecting one another’s fur.

Not that he cared; Ginny’s hands were running deftly through his hair, leaving him in a prime position to just look at her. Besides, no one had ever inspected his hair before. It was usually just attacked with a comb, or thrown dirty looks, or, on one memorable occasion, cut off haphazardly by Aunt Petunia.

 

“It just sticks up naturally, doesn’t it?” Ginny said, flicking at the ends of Harry’s hair with her fingertips.

 

“Yeah,” Harry said. “It won’t change.”

 

“Good,” said Ginny. “I like it this way.”

 

Harry silently thanked his father for his genes, fully appreciating for the first time why James Potter’s hand had so often jumped to his hair in his youth.

 

Ginny’s gaze shifted from Harry’s hair back to his face. The mischievous look she had worn on their route through the castle was back. Harry was beginning to recognise this expression. And he liked it a lot.

 

Harry had never particularly understood about kissing. That is, he had known what it was and how to do it (and was certainly considerably increasing his knowledge today). He had supposed it was pleasant, in a funny sort of way. Yet he had never been able to work out, nor had any inclination to work out, why everybody made such a big deal out of it. Why Roger Davies had been found exchanging saliva with several different girls a month, why Ron and Lavender had spent so much time this year attached to each other’s mouths, why girls talked about it constantly, why boys wanted to be at it constantly…

 

Until today.

 

Kissing Ginny was without a doubt one of the most pleasurable experiences of his life. It was like a physical way of sharing looks and words and laughter with her all at once. It was something just for them, like a secret code or private joke, which nobody else could share. It was a way of being as near to her as possible, nearer than anybody else was allowed to go. He would never, ever be able to get enough of this.

 

Quite simply, he finally realised that kissing was just better than not kissing.

 

 “Harry,” Ginny said suddenly, breaking away from him. “I didn’t finish telling you about the match. Don’t you want to hear about it?”

 

Harry thought for a moment. “No,” he admitted truthfully.

 

“You’re the captain!”

 

“But…” Harry doubted even hearing about his team’s victorious Quidditch match would be half as fun as what he had just been doing.

 

“I’ll tell it really well,” Ginny insisted.

 

“Go on then,” Harry said.

 

Ginny sat up a little straighter. She tucked a long stray strand of red hair behind her ear. She looked flushed and excited. Harry did not think he would be able to look at anything else but her after today. He imagined her coming with him to lessons, just to sit in front of him so he could gaze at her. It would probably not go down too well with Ron, though. Or Dean. Or Snape. Or even Ginny, for that matter.

 

“Once we got into the air, Katie immediately scored twice,” Ginny said. “Like she had been bursting to do it for months. Great goals as well; one she kind of chucked behind her head. Then Ron saved a couple of Ravenclaw attempts no problem. I don’t know what he worries about, really…”

 

Maybe this was as good as kissing her, Harry thought. He could just stare and stare at her, without worrying that she might notice, or that Hermione might get smugger, or that he might get hit by a Bludger, or that he might get hit by Ron

 

“Harry!”

 

“What?” Guiltily, Harry realised he had not been listening.

 

“Did I say stop kissing me?”

 

Er… no.” Harry grinned. Right.”

 

Ginny continued, despite her subsequent narrative being rather prone to interruption.

 

“Then Demelza scored and – Katie scored again – and the crowd were going quite – mad by this point because for the first time it actually looked as – as though we could win it, you know?”

 

“Mm.”

 

Peakes and Coote were whacking the Bludgers like you – told them to – concentrating on the most dangerous players and I – was looking for the Snitch – which was – nowhere – to – be-”

 

Several minutes passed in which the story went from being rather muffled to being abandoned completely.

 

“Anyway,” Ginny said eventually, “after goals were saved and scored, Bludgers were whacked and the Snitch was caught, we won.”

 

She had evidently decided that a detailed commentary of the match was proving too difficult to relate due to consistent intermissions. Harry thought he would hear a far less distracting version of the full story from Ron later anyway.

 

“I kept you something,” Ginny said.

 

She reached into her pocket and drew out something small and gold with a green stripe. On closer inspection, Harry saw that it was a Golden Snitch. Ginny unfastened the hairband that she had secured around it and the battered Snitch fluttered momentarily above her hand. Just as it seemed poised to move away, Harry clasped his hand around hers, holding the Snitch between them. Then he let his fingers close around the fluttering ball and held it up to the light.

 

“This is from the game?”

 

“Yes,” she said. “I was running towards you in the common room to give it to you. But then I sort of changed my mind half-way there and decided to hug you instead. Because you just looked so surprised and happy. And I never hugged you properly at that first Quidditch match. And I couldn’t help myself either.”

 

She was looking bashfully at the Snitch in his hand, but continued to speak as though it were a task she had set herself.

 

“You’ll think I’m silly, but I thought you should have it. It’s yours, or it should’ve been anyway. It was so strange without you, Harry... Not just playing, but before and after as well. So I thought I’d save it for you. Because I wanted you there,” she said staunchly. “I always want you there.”

 

“Thank you,” Harry managed to say.

 

He felt overwhelmed. He could feel the wings of the tiny golden ball fluttering against his fingers, beating inside his hand only a little faster than the beating of his heart inside his chest.

 

It seemed impossible to him that she, so feisty and so alive, should feel so impassioned about him. To himself, Harry was skinny, awkward and nothing special, but she was looking at him as though he were the greatest man alive. It flooded him with a new feeling of confidence, that she had such faith in him, as well as ambition to become all the wonderful things she believed him to be.

 

Now he needed to reciprocate somehow. He tried desperately to think of a way to tell her everything, but how could he even start to express the way she made him feel?

 

“It was a great catch,” Ginny told him, poking the Snitch in his hand, apparently oblivious to the futile attempts at constructing sense that were going on in his head.

“I know,” Harry said.

 

“How do you know?”

 

“You made it.”

 

Ginny smiled and bit her lip. “I probably shouldn’t have taken it though…”

 

Harry had to speak; he had to tell her.

 

“You’re great.” The words tumbled clumsily from his mouth. “You’ve driven me crazy all year. And I know I should’ve talked to you about it. But I was worried about Ron, and you were with Dean, and… I dunno, I didn’t know if you even…”

 

“I don’t care what Ron thinks, Dean is history and, Harry, you’ve always driven me crazy,” Ginny said, ticking off her points on her fingers.

 

“But I should’ve said something,” Harry insisted. “I know I should’ve said something or done something, before kissing you like that. But I couldn’t. At first I tried to make them go away, the feelings, but every time I saw you… Everything you said, and did, and your Quidditch, and your smile and just you. You’re just great.”

 

For a moment he watched her, looking as overwhelmed as he had felt minutes before. Then she flew towards him, hugging him tightly. Harry held her just as hard.

 

He felt as though he were learning to do magic for the first time again; this was so new and so right. This was completely different from being hugged by Mrs Weasley, or Hermione, or Sirius, or the Quidditch team. Completely different to kissing Ginny or holding her hand. Completely different to the quick hug he had given her after the Quidditch match against Slytherin, when he had been frightened of his feelings for her, or the quick hug she had given him that very afternoon, when all he had wanted to do was kiss her.

 

It felt achingly wonderful. Wonderful because she was warm, she was small, she smelt of flowers, and he could feel her uneven breaths on the back of his neck. Aching because he knew it could not last forever. Sooner or later he would have to let go of her when all he wanted to do was hold her. He had never expected, never hoped, never dared to be this close to anyone before. And yet she had just leapt into his arms and made it the easiest thing in the world. She made him feel caring and cared-for, protective and protected, and one hundred other things that he could not begin to identify because they were whirling through him on wings.   

 

Harry felt her slide slowly from his grasp. Unwillingly, he let the forlornly empty space between them open up again. Determined not to let her go entirely, he put his mouth to Ginny’s cheekbone and kissed it resolutely. He felt her face change expression as she smiled. She began to plant little kisses along his jaw.  

 

Suddenly, Harry’s stomach rumbled loudly.

 

For a wild moment, he thought that the monster inside of him had actually materialised and was purring noisily. Then he realised it was his hunger growling.

 

“Harry!” Ginny exclaimed. “When did you last eat?”

 

Er…”

 

Breakfast, Harry thought, and he had been so downcast about missing Quidditch that he had not had more than a few bites of toast. He had completely forgotten how hungry he had been in Snape’s detention.

 

“You didn’t have anything in the common room!” Ginny cried. “You have to eat something, Harry. We have to go to the Great Hall and see if there’s any lunch left. Or maybe we could go to the kitchens or something…”

 

Stupid stomach, Harry thought sulkily. Spoiling things.

 

“I want to do this,” he said, kissing her.

 

Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Harry, believe me; you will need your strength for the amount of this -” she kissed him “- I’ve got planned for this afternoon.” 

 

Harry brightened; perhaps a late lunch was a good idea.

 

“All right,” he agreed.

 

Ginny jumped up, reached out for his hand and helped him to his feet. She started to lead him away from the shade of the tree, when Harry pulled her back towards him, giving her one long, hard, forceful kiss that made his toes tense and her fingers in his hand tighten.

 

“To keep us going,” Harry explained as they parted rather breathlessly.

 

“Good idea,” Ginny murmured. She sounded a little dazed.

 

They began to wander back across the grounds, walking very slowly in order to delay the inevitable time when they would no longer be alone.

 

However as Harry looked at his girlfriend beside him, he realised that in a way they would always be alone together. No matter where they were or who they were with, no one could possibly feel the same way about her; no one could appreciate her flowery scent on the air, her bright hair trailing down her back or her dancing dark eyes in quite the way that he could.   

 

Harry did not even bother to try and repress the smile that was plastered over his face as he thought about the past glorious hour. Even better were the fantasies of the future; of what would come tomorrow, next week, next month…

 

Yet the clearest of these imaginings concerned the promise of the afternoon that stretched out ahead of him; full of sun and kissing and Ginny.

 

*      *      *

 

//
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