Harry was walking down the street in
Hogsmeade all alone with Ginny Weasley, and Hermione was to blame for
"Please come with us, Ginny. If
thereís no other girl along, Iíll have to spend the entire day in Zonkoís.
You can go Ďround with the other sixth years next Hogsmeade weekend."
So Ginny had joined them, and now Hermione
and Ron were nowhere to be found. Oh, they had all gotten into town together,
but about ten minutes after that, they completely disappeared. Harry was
beginning to suspect a plot. Not from Ron, of course- Ron wasnít even
aware that Harryís feelings for Ginny were more than platonic. Hermione,
on the other hand, rarely missed anything and specialized in organized
plans of attack. Consequently, Harry was simultaneously devising creative
curses to test on Hermione and trying to hold a conversation without sounding
like a complete prat. The strain was beginning to tell on him, but Ginny
seemed completely oblivious to his discomfort. She was happily ambling
along, as comfortable as if she was in the common room with a dozen-odd
Gryffindors for a buffer.
In reality, they were about as far from
alone as two people could be, as the streets were crowded with other Hogwarts
students, but as far as Harry was concerned, they might as well have been
stranded on a desert island for all use they were to him.
"Ooh, look!" Ginny grabbed
his arm to catch his attention. Across the street, Harry spotted Draco
Malfoy arm-in-arm with Pansy Parkinson. Pansy was leaning very close to
him, and whispering in his ear. She was smiling, and clutching his arm.
Malfoy, on the other hand, looked as if death would be a welcome escape.
He caught Ginnyís eye, and they burst
into laughter. Suddenly, Harry felt as good as he ever had in his entire
life. This was Ginny, and they were laughing. He ceased to care
about the rest of it.
"Sheís probably planning the guest
list for their wedding," giggled Ginny.
"Heís probably planning his suicide.
God knows I would." They laughed even harder.
Harry was seized by a sudden urge. "Hey,
Malfoy!" he shouted across the busy street. Dracoís head turned in
their direction. "Nice day for it!"
Ginny collapsed against him in uncontrollable
giggles. Draco was not as amused, but for once, he simply turned away
and walked on. "Well," said Harry, surprised. "Fancy that.
For once Malfoy didnít stay to have the last word. She must be a good
influence on him."
"Stop it," panted Ginny. Tears
were streaming down her face, and her cheeks were a brilliant pink. "I
canítÖlaughÖanymore." Instantly Harry was aware how close they were.
Her entire upper body was resting against his left arm, which now felt
as if it were the only part of his body with nerve endings. Her face was
inches from his, and although he couldnít see what one thing had to do
with the other, this seemed to be constricting his breathing.
Harry had no idea what to do.
He did, however, know what he wanted
to do. He wanted to lean over right now and kiss Ginny Weasley. Here,
on the busiest street in Hogsmeade, surrounded by nearly everyone he knew
in the world. If only he had the guts to do it, he didnít think he cared
who saw him. This is it, he thought. This is the decisive moment.
"Harry?" Ginny was now looking
at him with a puzzled expression. He realized that he had been standing
there, staring at her for some time without speaking. He opened his mouth-
he didnít know quite what he was going to say, but it was probably going
to change everything. She must have sensed this- Harry could well believe
that she could read his mind- for she suddenly turned and started walking
again. He followed. It seemed like the logical thing to do.
They walked in silence for a few minutes.
"Draco Malfoy is a jerk."
Ginny tossed this over her shoulder.
Harry was startled. He had almost entirely
forgotten they had even seen Malfoy. "Youíll get no argument from
me," he said in a tone that very nearly approximated his normal one.
"Why do people do that? I mean,
pretend that they have feelings for other people when they donít? He neednít
go anywhere with Pansy if he doesnít want to- it makes me angry. Itís
Harry was confused. She didnít thinkÖdid
she? "Who knows why Draco Malfoy does anything?" he ventured,
noncommittally. He was going to hang on and see where this was going.
"Maybe he doesnít mean to hurt
Pansyís feelings. Maybe he even thinks heís being kind. But heís not.
If he doesnít really like her, he shouldnít act like he does. It will
just confuse her, and sheíll end up hurting more in the end than if heíd
just been honest with her." Ginny was looking straight ahead, and
walking so fast that Harry had to take several large bounds to catch up
with her again.
He didnít need to be hit over the head
with a brick. Draco Malfoy, my ass, he thought admiringly. His heart had
leapt up into his throat, and he knew the stakes had never been higher,
but he couldnít help but be amused at her ingenuity.
"Maybe he doesnít know if she really
likes him." He was beginning to hope, though.
"Well, then, heís an idiot."
Ginny was now walking so quickly it was difficult to maintain the conversation.
"Again, youíll get no argument
from me. Ginny! Stop!" said Harry. She didnít even pause.
There was only one thing for it. He
reached out and grabbed Ginnyís hand. "Stop, Ginny."
His heart was beating at about twice its normal rate, and he looked down
at their clasped hands. For a few moments, neither of them made a sound.
Harry tightened his grip on her hand, and he heard a little hitch in her
breath. He had no idea what to say now, but he thought it should sound
important, and sincere. He felt both those things, but he was certain
the moment he opened his mouth he would blow it.
He looked back up into her face, and
found that her eyes were shut, and it looked like she was fighting something.
"Harry, really. Just let me go. I should get back to the castle,
anyway. I have loads of Transfiguration to do, and I donít think Ron and
Hermione are coming back."
"Well, thatís where youíre wrong."
Harry heard Ronís unmistakable voice from behind him. He quickly dropped
Ginnyís hand and stepped back. "Although how Hermione managed to
get us that lost in Hogsmeade, Iíll never know." He glared over at
Hermione. "Remind me never to follow you anywhere ever again."
"Oh, Ron. It wasnít that bad. We
saw a lot of nice shops, didnít we? And I daresay Harry and Ginny didnít
miss us too much." She spoke lightly, but she was looking quite intently
at them both.
"No," said Ginny. "It
was fine. Iím heading back to the castle now, though, so Iíll see you
at dinner, all right?" She had spoken in a firm, clear tone that
left no room for argument.
"But we havenít even been to the
Three Broomsticks, yet," Hermione protested.
"Iíll see you at dinner,"
"Ginny, donít go. Come with us
and have a butterbeer," said Harry, rather desperately. "Or-
do you want some company on your way back?" He barely registered
the pleased expression on Hermioneís face and the dawning comprehension
"Hey, whatís going on here? Did
we miss something?" inquired Ron, suspiciously.
"No," said Harry, crossly.
Why couldnít he just go away again so he could talk to Ginny?
Ginnyís resolve seemed to stiffen. "No,
I just need to get back early. I told you that before we left, Hermione."
Ginny shot her a significant look. "Itís no big deal. Iíve got a
lot of work to do- and itís better that I go alone."
"OkayÖ" Hermione drew out
the two syllables doubtfully. "If youíre sure."
"I am," she said simply, and
headed down the street.
Sugarquill Note: How could Honeychurch do this to us? Luckily, there