The second war had begun.
Harry now knew this truth in his heart. He had known it when
Dumbledore had appeared that night on Privet drive and couldn’t forget now, not
even at the Burrow. But somehow, it seemed, he had known long before...
had known at The Department of Mysteries. Sirius’ death had changed everything.
But the change had begun even sooner than that. Cedric. His parents. He had
experienced so much loss already. "...and either must die
at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives."
He knew there was more to come.
When he dreamt it was of graveyards
and dark archways. Always accompanied by cold, merciless laughter.
yet, he could do nothing but try to go on with life as usual. The summer of his
sixteenth year, Harry Potter resided in the company of his friends at the
Burrow, his second home away from Hogwarts. He quickly fell into a routine of
playing two-a-side Quidditch, eating triple helpings of all Mrs. Weasley’s
cooking, and relaxing in the living room around the wireless in the evenings.
and Ron played quite a bit of wizard chess while Hermione began outlining NEWT
timetables. He was thoroughly amused by Ginny Weasley, who had honed the skill
of pretending to vomit behind Fleur's back to an art form.
All in all, the holiday would have
been peaceful if it hadn't been for the sense of foreboding that Harry felt.
And although life went on, he couldn’t help feeling that great changes were in
the mix, in all aspects of his life. At times it was like being on the edge of a great thunderstorm. The final deep breath before the plunge.
It was a rainy morning in July when it happened.
had just finished showering and was standing in the Weasleys’ bathroom. He
rubbed an arm across the foggy mirror and prepared to shave. It had been a
couple of days and he was starting to “look like a wild man” as Mrs. Weasley
had said to Bill earlier that week. Harry took the bottle of shaving cream and
lathered up his jaw.
How strange it is shaving, he thought to himself. I
can't believe I'm so old, I- he suddenly remembered that today, July 31st,
was his sixteenth birthday. He grinned at his reflection. Sixteen years.
Practically a man. But just as suddenly he was hit by the realization that he
would never spend another birthday with his godfather. A terrible sadness
began to seep back into his mind. He put the razor down and stared hollowly
into the mirror.
Just then, the door flew open, and Ginny Weasley came bursting in,
shaking him from his trance. The youngest Weasley child wore a white bathrobe
and carried a towel over her shoulder. She stopped when she saw Harry, a look
of embarrassment coming over her face.
"Shoot, I'm sorry. I didn't think anyone was in here,
I–" her gaze traveled down to his waist and the towel wrapped around it.
Her eyes momentarily widened in horror before she snapped them shut, a grimace
on her face. "I'm so idiotic, Harry. Sorry, I'll just…go."
"No, no, come back." Harry laughed as she spun around and ran into the door frame. She cursed
loudly. "It’s okay. I'll be out in one second if you just want to
Slowly Ginny turned around. Her cheeks burned red as she slowly
opened her eyes. Harry noticed that she kept them on his face as she walked
back into the bathroom.
"Are you sure you don't mind?"
"Take a seat."
Ginny sat down on the hamper against the wall and pulled her legs
up to her chest revealing her skin up to the knee. She rubbed at the shin she
had smashed into the wall.
"I feel like Tonks," she
said with a smile as she massaged her leg.
"Nah, it wasn’t your fault.” When she still appeared uneasy
Harry added, “You're being very considerate. I shouldn’t have forgotten to lock
it in the first place. I know how awkward it is to walk in on anyone when
they're in the toilet. Trust me, I live with the Dursleys.”
“Well, with so many brothers, you know, I’m used to not caring
who I walk in on. Honestly, I seem to be the only one in the house who locks
Harry chuckled, turning back toward the mirror
"You’re looking pretty good out there practicing your
think so?” Ginny asked hopefully. "It's a bit different to Seeking, but
I really prefer Chasing, I think. Much more interaction."
"Well, you seem to be improving a lot and quickly. I
remembered seeing you fly for the first time last year and thinking you were
good then. You slaughtered Hermione and me last time.” Ginny smirked. “Caught the Snitch right under my nose," he added with a wink.
Ginny laughed loudly. "Yeah, let’s not kid ourselves.
Everyone knows that I couldn’t have stayed Seeker with you playing again. I
mean, let’s face it, who wants me when
they can have Harry 'The Wild Snitch Whisperer’ Potter?"
Harry snorted. Ginny had sounded remarkably like Ludo Bagman.
After a moment though, he looked seriously at her reflection. "I meant
what I said. You really are quite good."
Ginny smiled and Harry thought he saw the beginning of a blush
rising in her cheeks.
"Thanks. That means a lot coming from you." She shifted
a little on the hamper and there was an awkward moment of silence before she
said in a singsongy kind of voice, "But you are really good,
"I'm alright.” Harry grinned and picked up the razor. He
immediately felt very happy to have given her a compliment. He suddenly got a whiff of a pretty, flowery smell, and his head
momentarily felt very foggy.
"Are you sure you don't mind if I watch you shave?"
"What?" he asked, coming out of his daze. "Have
you never seen anyone shave before?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Of course I have!” Ginny retorted, looking slightly
indignant but laughing the next moment. “ I’ve got six brothers, haven’t
I? I used to watch Bill and Daddy do it when I was really young.” She laughed
a little again. "It just seems. You know. Weird… having hair
… on your face.” She
said it with a tone that suggested disgust, but also maybe just a little bit of wonder. She certainly was feeling less
embarrassed anyway, he noticed.
Harry fought back a laugh when she pulled a face as if she had
been thinking about hair growing on chins and then had been too disturbed by
the thought to continue.
Suddenly, Harry was very aware how stupid he looked talking to her
with a white beard of shaving cream on his face and neck. He looked back at
himself in the mirror and tried to concentrate on the task at hand. He moved
the razor quickly across his jaw, all the while acutely aware that she was
watching him. She was studying his face, more engrossed in his shaving than he
would have ever imagined anyone could be. Certainly more interested than he
had ever been.
Then, all at once, came a wave of self-consciousness. He was
missing a shirt and all that was covering his lower body was a towel. In fact,
Harry didn't think he had ever worn this little in front of a girl, not even in
the Quidditch changing rooms. He shuddered slightly at the thought of what
Molly Weasley would make of all of this if she walked in at that exact moment.
But then again, it was just Ginny Weasley. To his alarm,
he abruptly realized Ginny wasn't wearing much either. Her white bathrobe was made of a thin material and when she leaned forward he could almost see
down the front of it. He jerked his eyes back to his own reflection.
Where the bloody hell had that come from? He had no desire to
look down the front of her robe. She was he best mate’s little sister. She was practically his little sister!
But for the first time, Harry realized that his best friend's
little sister looked very good. The sight of her inspired an all too familiar
feeling rising low in his stomach. His gaze slid slowly back to her body and
rested there. A little voice in the back of his head scolded him for looking,
but he couldn’t seem to stop. He was seeing Ginny Weasley in a totally new
light. He pulled his gaze away from her chest and back to her face. A little
too late, though.
Ginny was staring straight
into his eyes and, Goodness! How brown they were! Harry felt himself
flush. He quickly looked away and glared furiously at himself in the mirror. She’s
going to think you're such a creep! Say something quick!
"Er... erm.” Harry's mind fumbled for something to say.
Anything that would cover up the fact that he had just obviously been staring
at her ...well...her.... "Um..." his voice was unnaturally high
sounding. He tried to keep a calm demeanor while continuing gliding his razor
blade down his jaw and over his neck. He cut himself and winced. Finally he
said lamely, "You know, girls shave too."
"True," Ginny said, looking at his reflection. “A little
more carefully I might add." She arched an eyebrow at him but
sounded totally natural. She hadn't noticed after all. A feeling of great
relief swept over Harry. Crisis averted. I'll just
pretend it didn't happen.
frowned and rolled her eyes. "I never really understood that. Why girls
have to have smooth legs and boys don't. Pretty dumb, if you ask me."
"Yeah. Yeah, it is." Feeling suddenly at ease, Harry
added jokingly, “So I get to watch you shave next, right?"
He could have slapped himself. Immediately after it came out of
his mouth he realized what it sounded like. He saw Ginny stand up behind him.
Harry spun around.
"Ginny, I'm sorry. That sounded weird, I didn't mean anything
by it, I–"
Ginny was so close to him their noses would have touched had she
been half a foot taller. She looked up into his eyes and inside all of his
organs suddenly decided to liquefy.
smiling. For a second Harry was sure she was going to slap him.
He felt totally naked regardless of the towel and to his horror he
immediately realized that if Ginny were any closer, their noses wouldn't be all
that touched. Instantly Harry clasped his hands in front of him. He stood there
feeling horrified for several more moments.
After an eternity of her piercing eyes, from somewhere far off,
Harry heard a voice say, barely above a whisper, "You're bleeding.”
"What?" said a dumb
voice. It was his. Then he remembered cutting himself. "Oh, yeah, I–"
he chanced moving one arm away and reached for a tissue but Ginny's hand
grabbed his wrist. His heart was pounding in his chest. A light-headed
feeling struck him and his knees felt weak; he started to sway. The spot where
her skin touched him burned with warmth that radiated out, down his arm, through
his chest, and eventually situated itself, to his dismay, in his...well...his...-
me do it. It’s my fault for distracting you." Harry gulped. Did she mean
something by the way she had said 'distracting'? Ginny calmly took a piece of
tissue from the box on the counter. Gently she dabbed Harry's cheek. He stood
very still as she calmly washed the blood from his face. It wasn't a very deep
cut and had already stopped bleeding by the time she finished. He tried to
speak, but all words floated from his head when she placed her hand on his
cheek. For a moment, she just looked at him, her brow furrowed, her hand
touching his face.
"All better," she said finally, all the while staring
straight through him with those dark brown pools. Harry stopped breathing.
After what seemed like days, Ginny took her hand away from his
It was like
stepping out of a warm shower and although Harry still felt little electric
pulses coursing through his body, he couldn’t help but wish
that she was still touching him. He was feeling very confused as she turned and
grabbed her towel off the hamper. All he could think was that he needed to get
out of the bathroom as soon as possible. Then Ginny's calm voice broke the
“I don't think I'll take a shower after all. I thought I saw Fleur
coming and we can’t keep her majesty waiting." Harry mouthed wordlessly as
she slung her towel over her shoulder. He gulped when she brushed past him, and
with a final, "By the way, happy
birthday. Lock the door next time!" she hurried out into the hallway.
When Harry left the bathroom several minutes later, he was
beginning to feel more normal. Perhaps he had imagined the whole strange
business. Nothing, after all, had really happened.
He promptly assured himself that indeed, no, nothing had
happened, aside from his failure to lock a door, something he wouldn’t be
forgetting in the future. In a quarter of an hour he had pushed it from his
mind and when he ran into Ron and Ginny planting Dungbombs in Fluer’s trunk
later that afternoon, he truly had forgotten that anything out of the ordinary
However for the rest of the summer Harry would feel a bit
light-headed when he smelt a certain flowery aroma he never could place. And,
somehow, he couldn’t shake the feeling that great changes, in all aspects of
life, were afoot.