The Sugar Quill
Author: Honeychurch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Penance  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.

Iím sure J.K. doesnít mind that Iím playing with her toys.

Authorís Notes: So this is my penance for having unintentionally tortured people with "The Decisive Moment".

Harry dashed from his last period class without even a look back. From behind him, he could hear Ron shouting, "Oi, Harry! Where are you going?" But he didnít pause. If he waited even a second longer, he would miss her. He pelted down toward the Charms corridor at a breakneck pace, hoping fervently that Filch was occupied with a rule breaker at the other end of the castle. He had tucked the Marauderís Map into his robes that morning just in case, but there was no time to check it now. The halls were beginning to fill with students on their way out of classes, and he dodged just in time to avoid smacking into a second year Hufflepuff who had paused to rearrange her school bag. "Excuse me!" he tossed over his shoulder, made one final turn, and skidded to a halt outside the Charms classroom just in time to see the door being flung open, and the students beginning to file out.

Panting, Harry scanned the crowd for bright red hair, but Ginny was nowhere in sight. Recklessly, he fought his way through the crowd at the door, all of whom were looking at him curiously, and into the classroom, where he found himself face to face with Professor Flitwick.

"Mr. Potter?" said the tiny wizard. "Did you need something?"

Yeah, thought Harry, but I donít think you can help me. "Sorry, Professor. I was just looking- bit of an emergency, actually- and I thought--"

"Harry?" It was Ginnyís voice behind him. He abandoned Flitwick, who was regarding him, bemused, and turned to face her. "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you." He said urgently. "Will you come take a walk with me for a minute?"

The confusion on her face gave way to surprise, and then to worry. "Is there something wrong? Has something happened to Ron?"

"Ah- no." He was acutely aware of their audience. The crowd at the door was hanging on their every word, and even Flitwick was watching them with open interest. Still, there was no help for it- he wasnít waiting a single moment longer. "I just need to talk to you. Ok?"

"Ok." Her brown eyes were intent on his face, and he felt himself flushing. The crowd at the door parted to let them through.

"Whatís going on then?" Ginny asked as they made their way toward the front doors.

Now that Harry finally had her alone, he had no idea what to say. It was Monday afternoon, and Harry had not seen Ginny since the disastrous Hogsmeade trip on Saturday. She had avoided him completely for the rest of the weekend, driving Harry into this obvious act of desperation.

"I-I just wanted to talk to you, I guess." Harry fumbled for a logical explanation. "I havenít seen you since Saturday."

"So you burst into Flitwickís classroom at a dead run?" Ginny gave him a sidelong glance. There was definite amusement in her voice.

"Yeah. I guess." Harryís stomach gave a lurch. This was either the best idea he had ever had, or the worst one, and he was getting a little bit shaky now that the adrenaline was wearing off. "Díyou want to walk down by the lake?"

"All right." There was the suggestion of a smile on her face, although she was holding her body as tensely as Harry. This was somehow reassuring. They were approaching the front doors, now, and he stepped aside to let her through first.

The blinding light of the late afternoon sun was reflecting off the lake as they made their way toward it. Everyone had already gone into dinner, and the grounds were deserted. They stopped on the shoreline, and Ginny turned to face him. The sun was glinting off her hair, turning it into a nimbus of living copper. Her face was apprehensive and curious, a piquant combination, and there were two bright spots of pink on her cheeks. Harry had never seen her look prettier.

"Harry?" Ginny prompted. "What did you want to talk to me about?"

"I just- wanted to see you. I sort of missed seeing you."

"Really? I didnít notice that you saw me at all." She ended the sentence abruptly, as if she caught it a second too late to stop herself. She ducked her head, and started walking again.

Harry found himself blushing furiously. "I do. I just- I donít know. I thought that you werenít- and so I didnít-" He drew a deep breath. "Remember what you said in Hogsmeade?" the words came out in a rush.

"Yes." The word was barely audible.

Harry forged ahead blindly. "Well, I just wanted you to know that I am an idiot."

Ginnyís face was a puzzle for a moment, and then she broke out into laughter. "Iím sorry, Harry," she gasped. "Itís just of all the things you couldíve said, I didnít expect that."

Harry grinned back, relieved. They were approaching a large oak tree with great, raised knobby roots just made to sit on. "Should we?" He said, gesturing to the tree, but Ginny was already heading toward it.

"I love this tree," she confided, making herself comfortable. Harry felt a little awkward. He wanted to sit right next to her, but the root was rather small, and he thought it might look strange. As if she could read his mind, she budged up closer to the trunk and patted the seat beside her. He couldnít help himself- he smiled. She blushed even pinker and looked away as he settled himself next to her, their shoulders almost touching.

Silence stretched for a few moments. Well, it should have been silent, but there seemed to be a strange ringing in Harryís ears. He turned a bit on the root so that he was facing her, almost bumping her knee. He was very, very aware of how close they were now, and oddly, this seemed to give him the burst of courage he needed to actually speak.

"Ginny, IÖ" Ginny turned her head back toward him, and he found himself looking straight into her eyes. He cleared his throat and glanced down at his hands, twisting in his lap. Perhaps he hadnít planned this very well, as he now realized he had no idea exactly what to ask her. "Ginny, I was wondering if- I was wondering if maybe you wanted to- er, go for a walk with me sometime?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized how stupid they sounded. Take a walk? What were they doing right now? He looked over at her quickly, hoping that maybe she hadnít noticed what an idiot he was, and his heart sank into his stomach. Her face was a curious and shiny mixture of emotion, but she looked like she was choking back a giggle.

He turned back in his seat so that they were both looking straight ahead once again. If she didnít say something soon, he honestly thought he might burst into flames from sheer humiliation. Suddenly, he felt something touch his hand, and he looked down to find Ginny Weasleyís small hand in his. His heart leapt out of his stomach and started pounding furiously in his chest.

"Iíd really like that, Harry." Her voice was shy. His eyes flew up to her face, and she held his gaze although her entire face was rosy with blushes. Now, thought Harry. Kiss her now. Should he ask her first, though, or just go ahead and do it? No, he was just going to do it. Asking was the excruciating bit; heíd learned that the hard way.

Taking a slightly tighter grip on her hand, he leaned in. Her eyes grew wide as he moved toward her, and he heard her catch her breath. She moved at the same time, and their lips met slightly harder than Harry had planned. He felt a brief flash of embarrassment at his clumsiness, but now his lips were on hers, and a sharp, sweet feeling seemed to be radiating out from his bones. When he pulled away at last, he found that his other hand was resting on her cheek. He thought that was as good a reason as any to kiss her again. This time, their lips met softly, and Harry was now certain that this was the best idea heíd ever had.

//
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