Chapter 4: First Approach
By the time Ron was walking back from the dungeons, he felt like the top of the world. He could easily take on anything anyone says now. Not only had his views on his Potions Master change in the most unexpected way, but one thing in particular won´t have to change. He sped up his pace, wanting to get back to the Gryffindor Common Room to tell the most precious girl of his life the good news. Sure, there was one last obstacle left to cross...
"For Merlin´s sake calm down, Granger!"rang a voice in the corridor Ron entered.
"Oh, speak of the devil..."thought Ron as the two figures in the abbandoned corridor came better into view.
"Your father may not approove of this engagement but I don´t eigther."said Hermione in a stubborn voice.
"I never said I want this eighter. I just wanted to speak to you."replied Draco in an exaspirated voice.
Hermione fixed him with a cold glare.
"What do you want to talk about then if you don´t want to be with me in the first place?! You see, there is someone who – unlike you, does."
Draco rolled his eyes and sighed.
"THAT was what I wanted to talk to you about. Look, Granger... we can work this problem out if we just put our heads together."
"Exactly."said Ron loudly, making his presence known.
Hermione instantly looked relieved to see him, whereas Draco kept his face neutral – almost guarded as Ron stopped by them. Hermione gave him a tight hug, one that she noticed was returned with great joy.
"Excuse me, but I´m still here..."rang Draco´s voice, bringing them back from their little world.
They looked at him, still in their embrace and Draco noticed that Weasley wasn´t sporting the ussual glower he was on the recieving end of for nearly seven years. Quite the contrary in fact. Ronald Weasley was smiling at him.
"I´ve just had a chat with Snape..."Ron started to explain, but Draco´s face instantly sported a dissaprooving scrowl.
"Professor Snape, Weasley..."he said with a note of disgust.
Ron rolled his eyes, wanting to go on.
"Anyway... I´ve talked to him about our relationship, Mione... he says he doesn´t mind... he has a plan to make this all work..."
Hermione was very surprised. She guessed he won´t be crazy about having a relationship with Ron, but talking to him about his relationship with her?
Draco breathed a sigh of relief – he saw where this was heading.
"Good ol´ Professor... let me guess... this plan also involves me, am I right?"
"As a matter of fact, it does..."
Draco returned the grin, though almost begrudgingly.
"Okay... so allow me to guess what our dear Professor has cooked up... you two stay together, albeit secretly... we make it appear as though we are all following this stupid Act like everyone and wait – postponing sighning of the marriage contract, in order to see what happens..."he said counting each point on his fingers.
Both Gryffindors were very surprised.
"Have you spoken to him before this?"asked Ron in surprise – this was exactly Snape´s plan.
Draco smiled earnestly and shook his head.
"It just seems to me the most logical responce to the situation. Which is something my Head of House AND best friend ussually make when something happens."
Ron and Hermione shared a happy look.
"One thing though..."said Draco, interupting the moment again.
"We will have to keep appearances. As I understand it, Fudge is bound to have people controling the fufillment of the Act. I´m just eager to see what pretext he will think of..."said Draco smirking to himself, while rubbing his chin with his forefinger.
Ron sighed while Hermione looked once more uncomfortable.
"That´s what he said as well... guess that means we´ll be seeing eachother more often."said Ron, already knowing what needs to be done.
Draco nodded agreeing, but his face sported a small smile, which both Gryffindors were sure they have never seen before.
"I guess so... we will obviously have to sit down – all four of us, and think of some believable story. Though if its Fudge and his Ministry goons... well... I´m sure we won´t have to try THAT hard."
Ron and Hermione were once more treated to something new, since there was an unmistakable note of humor in Draco´s voice.
"Never thought I´d say this, Malfoy... but you´re right. Guess we can meet up in Hogsmeade tommorow. I just hope we can play this trough."said Ron with a note of insecurity.
Draco once more smirked dispite himself.
"Well, Weasley... I AM a fairly gifted actor... I know I can do MY part well..."
All three shared a laugh. Ron, Hermione, Neville and a few others who were in on the going-ons last year had come to know Draco´s part in the Junior Death Eaters division – an inside-man (or boy), who was reporting to Dumbledore on the Junior´s moves – something which turned out to be more usefull than it first appeared.
"Meet you in the Three Broomsticks at noon tommorow then?"asked Ron.
Draco sighed and shook his head.
"Hog´s Head. Its nowhere near as crowded and Aberforth can cover for us easily. Just be sure to let Professor Snape know."
"You know Malfoy... he told me a bit about you too... that you don´t share your father´s views. But I´m surprised you stand for this idea."said Ron honestly.
Draco was quiet for a bit. It seemed to both of them, that he was weighing his words carefully – as though he was unsure of how much to tell. Finally his gaze stopped on Hermione.
"No offence, Granger... but I am just not attracted to you... besides, there is someone else, who has chaught my eye."he said, with his cheeks catching a slight shade of red.
Both were completly stunned by this revelation.
"Who is it?"asked Ron before he (or Hermione) could stop himself.
"Sorry, Weasley... you can´t expect me to answer THAT question..."
Ron grinned sheepishly as Hermione elbowed him in the ribs.
Suddenly Draco looked to the end of the corridor and his face instantly turned to one of great hilarity. He quickly slapped a hand to his mouth, plainly in the effort not to burst out around Ron and Hermione saw that walking towards them were three Slytherin students and a very familiar Ravenclaw girl, who was holding the arm of one of them. Both Gryffindors were shocked and confused. What in the world was Luna Lovegood doing in the company of Blaise Zabini, Angus Lennox and Harry Potter?!
"Hi Hermione, Ron..."greeted Luna in a dreamy voice as they stopped by them.
Hermione muttered "Hi" quietly, eyes looking from one person to the other, then darting back on Draco who quickly took out his wand and quickly performed a non-verbal spell on himself. Ron hadn´t noticed, since he was looking at the three Slytherins as though measuring them up.
Hermione´s eyes quickly darted to Harry Potter, unsure what to think – Ginny´s findings about him resonating in her mind. His green eyes moved from her to Ron and finally on Draco, whose shoulders were shaking, face screwed and tiny tears running from his eyes, trying to do all he could not to look at Luna and Blaise. The two Gryffindors were immediately under the impression, that the green-eyed Slytherin was putting two and two together. As his eyes fell on Ron and Hermione once more, he gave a nod of greeting.
"Granger, Weasley..."he greeted in a calm voice.
Hermione though biting her lip a bit, returned the nod. Ron however gave him a slight smile and nodded.
"Potter... Lennox (the tall muscular Slytherin nodded in responce)... Zabini (the black Slytherin smiled and gave a slight bow with his head)... Hi, Luna. What are you doing here...?"he asked curiously.
Luna beamed at him.
"I was on my way down to dinner when I ran into my fianceé and his friends."she said giving Blaise a radiant smile, holding onto his arm with both of hers, gripping it tightly.
Blaise ignored the gasps from the two Gryffindors and returned Luna´s smile with one of his own.
"Of course I wished to accompany my lovely fianceé to dinner, as a well-mannered gentleman should."he said nonchalantly.
"You are so sweet, Blaise..."breathed Luna, squeezing his arm again and standing on her tip-toes in order to give him a loving kiss on the cheek.
Ron and Hermione watched the exchange, as Blaise blushed and gave Luna a shepish grin, Harry and Angus traded small smiles before their eyes found Draco, who turned to the wall of the corridor, shileded by his own Silencing Charm as his laughing fit finally chaught up with him – Harry and Angus shot him exaspirated looks.
"In any case we should go down. I have something to take care of after dinner..."said Harry while looking at Angus and Blaise, who nodded.
Ron and Hermione shared a look, knowing perfectly what it was – the look that didn´t go unnoticed by the green-eyed Slytherin.
"We should take Dray with us too..."nodded Angus, fixing his eyes on Draco, who was still laughing against the wall.
"Oh my... your friend has chaught the Dartamian Disease, it causes him to grab any solid object in the room to keep himself on the ground otherwise he´ll float away."said Luna, looking at Draco with concern.
Hermione rolled her eyes, Ron surpressed a snicker while Blaise, Angus and Harry shared a look as Draco´s shaking against the wall doubled.
"No, my sweet... I assure you, that THAT is definitely not the case."said Blaise, shooting Draco´s form a small glare.
Sharing another meaning look with Angus and Harry he started off along with Luna.
"We´ll see you at dinner."he said as they went and dissapeared from view.
Allowing Draco a few moments to stop laughing, they watched his trying to catch his breath.
"Well... at least you´ve had the courteousy to cast a Silencing Charm on yourself."said Harry, his arms folded.
"Really, Dray... you should get used to it... you´ll be seeing them together a LOT from now on."said Angus shaking his head as Draco undid the Silencing Charm.
"Sorry... its just... so damn funny... B-Blaise is head over heels..."he said still chortling.
"So we´ve noticed..."replied Harry coldly.
"Anyway... let´s get down to dinner... I´m as hungry as a pack of wolves."said Angus already making his way past the two Gryffindors.
Harry fixed Ron and Hermione a small look.
"Well... see you two later, I expect."he said as he too made his way past them and grabbed Draco by his robes, giving him a slight pull to which Draco complied still laughing.
"Yeah... see you two tommorow."he chortled at Ron and Hermione and the two dumbfounded Gryffindors watched the three Slytherins exit the corridor, Draco´s laughter still resonating.
Hannah Abbot was walking to dinner red-faced and accompanied by her best friends – Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Susan Bones, trying all she could to avoid the staring and whispering students, even a few cold and hatefull glares from some of the girls.
"News travels fast even by Hogwarts standarts."muttered Justin, Ernie and Susan agreeing.
It has merely been two hours since Hannah was chaught snogging in an empty classroom with her new fianceé and by the looks of it, over half of the school already knew.
"Its a big deal to be engaged to the Chosen One..."Susan pointed out, but unlike most of the onlookers she was happy about the news, as were those closest to both Hannah AND Neville.
The two knew eachother quite well, shared a passion for Herbology (meaning, that they often spent time together with Professor Sprout in the Greenhouses) and those in DA knew, that since their fifth-year, they harboured feelings for eachother.
"Let´s just hope that horrible Skeeter woman doesn´t find out. It´ll be all over the Daily Prophet in a matter of hours."
At Ernie´s thoughtfull musing Hannah blushed, gave a tiny squeal and tried to hide her face in her hands.
"Ernie! This is NOT helping..."said Susan, giving her best friend a comforting arm over her shoulder.
"Don´t misunderstand... I´m happy about being with Neville... its just... the publicity and..."
"We know, Hannah. No one likes to be gawked on all the time... in fact, I am quite surprised how Neville manages to put up with it."said Ernie, determined to rectify his mistake.
By the looks of it it worked, for Hannah´s tense expression was instantly replaced by a dreamy one.
"That´s my Neville."she said with a wide smile and she couldn´t help but feel incredible joy at her choice of words.
"That´s love for you..."noted Justin – a happy tone prominent in his voice.
The four friends shared a laugh, now completly oblivious to all the staring and muttering.
"I´m happy too, you know... Parvati is really a charming girl."said Ernie happily.
Hannah and Susan shared a look, grinning happily. Ernie and Justin – who were already like brothers would really end up being brothers( in-law), since they were engaged with the Patil twins. As fellow DA members they all knew eachother, which spared the boys the awkwardness of approaching their new fianceés and the results were quick enough – both pairs were really smitten with eachother.
"Padma too..."breathed Justin, a dreamy sigh escaping his lips.
"What about you, Susie? You never told us who you´ve been engaged to."asked Hannah.
Susan tensed a bit. True, she didn´t tell any of her friends the name she found on her letter. She figured, she would have to eventually but...
"His name is Angus Lennox."she said quietly, biting her lips.
Justin, Ernie and Hannah all shared an uneasy look – one that Susan expected.
"The tall, strong Slytherin?"asked Hannah.
"The one who hangs around Hagrid´s all the time?"asked Justin.
"The one who is friends with Malfoy and Potter?!"breathed Ernie in shock.
Susan only nodded.
During her seven years at Hogwarts she never even spoken to him. She DID however hear rumors about him here and there – especially since he was often around Harry Potter - around whom rumors circulated all the time. She doubted half of them were true, but one in particural – which seemed to be true - scared her in many ways. He was rumored to shun the opposite sex and steer clear of any and all relationships. This made many questions arise in her mind – Was it really true? Why? And most importaintly... how on Earth was she supposed to make a loving relationship with someone like that?
"You haven´t spoken to him yet, have you?"asked Ernie, breaking her line of thought.
Sighning, Susan shook her head in negative.
"How do you feel about it?"asked Hannah, now giving her a comforting arm around her shoulders.
"I´m not sure... I don´t know him."she breathed quietly.
Justin, Ernie and Hannah exchanged another uneasy look.
"Still... I don´t think he´s a bad person. I mean... he´s friends with Hagrid... he can´t be all bad."
"Maybe you´re right..."said Hannah quietly, trying to see a bright spot in this.
The boys shared a small doubtfull look, but didn´t say anything. However Susan´s face adopted a serious, determined look.
"But I´m determined to make this marriage as it is work. I want to get to know him."
Now all three of her friends were surprised, but Susan felt adamant in her decidion. If she were to have a happy marriage, she HAD to try. Just as she thought about the best possible way to approach her new fianceé, she noticed her friends stop and freeze on the spot. Looking in the direction they were, she almost gasped. Down the stairs leading to the Great Hall came Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy and her fianceé – all three discussing something. Quickly mustering all the courage and determination she possessed, she stepped forward leaving her friends behind her and walking closer to the three Slytherins. Angus Lennox´s eyes went wide and he stopped as his two compagnions did the same. Susan gulped, fighting down the feeling of anxiety as she stopped by them and looked up into his blue eyes.
"C-could I have a word with you?"she asked in what she hoped to be a composed voice.
Angus looked very uncertain for a moment and quickly looked at Harry and Draco as though asking for advise. Draco quickly tip-toed away, whistling to himself – something which earned him a small glare from the tallest Slytherin. Harry kept his face completly neutral, but gave him a few pats on the shoulder (something which Angus seemed to have understood) and made his way after his best friend. His stare returning to Susan he nodded silently, almost fearfully. Looking back at her friends, she nodded. Understanding her plea, the three remaining Hufflepuffs quickly made their way towards the Great Hall, keeping a safe distance from the two Slytherins.
Harry and Draco were almost at the Great Hall´s open doors when they heared an anrgy girl´s voice scream "THAT´S IT!" before the unmistakable sounds of a curse rang the entire place.
Both of them were stunned to see several fifth-years running around in terror with enourmous bats attacking their heads. Amidst them – her wand raised, her expression furious – stood a red-haired girl they knew, casting one Bat-Bogey Hex after another.
"Merlin´s beard..."breathed Draco, looking at the results as the students went running for their lives before the wrath of Ginny Weasley.
Her brown eyes, still brimming with anger found them and Draco almost felt the need to draw his wand and perform a speedy Shield Charm. Harry however stood absolutely still, surveying the scene. Still chaught in her anger, she fixed them with a furious stare as though she expected them to challenge her too as they remained there alone.
"Remind me never to mess with you, Weasley."said Draco quietly in an almost awed voice – the only other girl he EVER seen show such strength was Astoria.
"Don´t worry, Malfoy... I will."she said, her angry brown eyes boring into his.
Draco felt a small chill run down his spine. Judging by what he saw just now, he really felt that this girl was NOT to be messed with.
Ginny turned her sights on her fianceé – brown eyes meeting emerald green. Still fueled by her anger she didn´t allow her expression to change, although there was one thing she noted – though he NEVER looked at her that way before, there was something about his look that seemed very familiar.
"What happened?"he asked calmly.
"That collection of gits saw if fit to question me, what it feels like to have a brother who likes older men."she said, her eyes flashing as though challenging him to tell her off for hexing them.
Harry however had no such thought.
"How rude of them..."he said absent-mindedly.
Ginny glared him.
"You think so Potter, do you?!"
Harry´s eyes went wide – something about this girl was intriguing him to no end. Draco gave a hasty cough.
"In any case, Weasley... my only concern is getting to dinner in one piece, so if you´ll excuse me..."he said starting for the door to the Great Hall before looking at his best friend.
Harry seemed not to have noticed the question – his eyes glued on Ginny. After a few seconds he responded, still not taking his eyes from her.
"No Dray... I wish to speak to my fianceé and by the looks of it she´s not in the mood to enter the Great Hall. I shall see you back in the room."
Draco almost snickered, knowing what´s going on but restrained himself, not wanting to face a Bat-Bogey Hex himself.
"If you say so..."he said, before he walked past Ginny and into the Great Hall.
As he left, the two spend a few moments looking at eachother, as though sizing eachother up.
"What did you mean by "no mood to enter the Great Hall"?"asked Ginny quietly, anger still prominent in her voice.
Harry recodnized the tone AND the temper all too well.
"Merely that you´d rather NOT face other stares and muttering at the moment. As I understand, hexing people in the Great Hall right before the teachers would be a great way of getting a year´s worth of detentions."he said in a cool, composed voice.
Ginny scrowled. She couldn´t argue the point no matter how desperately she wanted to.
"Plus I believe we agreed to speak to eachother regarding our engagement. Of course if you wish not to do so right now, I will understand..."
His tone of voice was as calm as ever and Ginny felt her anger deflate a bit. Out of all the boys (or men) she knew, only her father and eldest brother were the ones who didn´t cower in fear before her anger, something which had the power to defuse her wrath. She felt a small part of herself voice its aprooval of this.
"No... I want to speak to you..."she said after a small while.
Harry´s lips twitched upwards a tiny bit.
"In that case follow me, Miss Weasley."he said as he turned in the direction of the staircase.
Ginny gave a long sigh as she walked behind him up the staircase, unsure where they are going.
"Please don´t call me that... we are engaged afterall. Call me Ginny like everyone does."
Harry looked at her over his shoulder. Though there was no change in his neutral expression, Ginny saw his emerald eyes sparkling.
"Harry."he said simply, but there was an unmistakable tone of happiness hidden in the word.
Ginny couldn´t help the smile that appeared on her face, feeling her anger completly evaporate as they came to a halt in the empty corridor. She was about to ask where he was leading her when Harry started to pace up and down besides a perfectly solid wall. Suddenly a door appeared on the wall, seemingly out of nowhere and Ginny gasped, now knowing where they are.
"You know the Room of Requirement?"she asked in surprise.
Harry couldn´t repress another small smile.
"Well... yes. Angus discovered it by accident during our third year."
Ginny sighed to herself. Of course, she should expect that the DA couldn´t possibly be the only ones who knew of the room´s existence.
"C´mon. Let´s get inside before someone sees us."he said with a hint of mischief, opening the door.
Wanting to keep the room a secret, do you?"said Ginny, not being able to stop the giggle.
Harry merely shrugged.
""I don´t think that every Hogwarts student knowing about this room would be a good idea. Let them figure it out, where it is before they think about using it."he respoded, his voice slightly defencive.
Shrugging the matter off she entered the room as he held the door open for her and was instantly surprised at his choice. The room was relatively small, had a cozy fireplace with a warm fire burning there, two armchairs facing opposite eachother, between them a nice small table and another armchair, which was large enough to accomodate two people. Unlike her innitial thought the room was completly neutral – no Gryffindor or Slytherin preference, and Ginny spied plates full of food on the table accompanied by bottles of what she recodnized as butterbeer and pumpkin-juice. A small growl in her stomach told her, that the food may not be a bad idea. Harry closed the door and went instantly to the larger armchair, seating himself on one of its ends.
"Nice choice of room..."she commented as she finished looking around the room he fashioned, giving him a smile.
"I thought you´d be hungry and seeing as dining in the Great Hall is currently out of the question... please..."he said gesturing to the table.
In responce to his polite invitation Ginny couldn´t help her smile turn warmer as she looked at her fianceé. The presence of the single armchairs also suggested to her, that he was giving her a choice to sit alone if she wanted to and she remembered his Godfather´s comments about him. Almost without a single thought she ingnored the single armchairs and sat down besides him in the large armchair. She noticed Harry´s eyebrows shoot up as she did, but deided not to say anything. She helped herself to one of the cakes on the plate – which incidentaly were one of her most favourite (had Harry took the trouble of finding out her favourites?) as a small silence endured in the room.
"Well... Ginny..."started Harry, breaking the silence.
"... as of this Repopulation Act the two of us were engaged and are expected to marry and start a family. I suppose my first and foremost question would be... what are your feelings on this?"
His question was in a polite and neutral tone, but Ginny could guess that there was more to it than he was giving on – or (she realized with a slight surprise) was it her wishfull thinking?
"Well..."she started, unsure what to say.
After a few seconds she decided on the truth.
"... I figure that the Ministry won´t back out of this Act (Harry´s right eye twitched). I think, that if we´re to have any relationship at all we HAVE to get to know eachother..."
Harry instantly interrupted her with a gesture of his hand.
"Ginny... I am well aware of the reputation I have in Hogwarts. Also I am aware that you are close friends with both Neville and Alice and know very well of their thoughts of me (his eye twitched again slightly). I do not want to intrude on you should you wish to keep your distance from me..."
"NO!"Ginny exclaimed before he could even finish his sentance – horrified, that she took the task of explaining her feelings completly the wrong way.
"I don´t view it like that. I really want to get to know you, Harry..."
Unintentionally, Harry´s eyes were viewing her in surprise and Ginny at once decided to tell him everything.
"Look... I... I asked about you before we were to meet tonight. I asked McGonnagal, Sprout, Flitwick, Lupin and finally I went to ask your godfather. Harry... I heared the rumors going on around you. I DON´T believe you to be a monster or another You-Know-Who... I know that there´s much more to you than just idiotic student rumors..."
Her revelation made an extremly surprised look appear on his face. Suddenly Ginny chaught the look he was giving her and she had to stiffle the gasp that almost escaped her. It was the look he was giving her moments ago when she hexed those cheeky gits before the Great Hall. But now she finally remembered where she saw that look on his face – on the photo in Snape´s office – the picture of Snape with a tiny little Harry, who sported the same look of utter curiosity. For a few moments Harry looked at her absolutely still, Ginny had the impression that he was thinking things trough. However there was an emotional look playing on his face (was it a look of longing?) before he composed himself again and spoke.
"Thank you, Ginny... "he said ever-so quietly before taking a long breath.
"Well if you truly want for this, I agree on us getting to know eachother. I know for a fact, that tommorow is the first Hogsmeade weekend. If you want to, we can meet up in the Great Hall and..."
"Have a date?"she asked with a small smile, emboldened by the slight show of emotion he displayed.
Harry´s cheeks immediately turned bright red and he looked away, determinedly not gazing at her, looking quite like the tiny boy from the photo – something which Ginny found only one single word in her vocabluary for.
"Adorable..."she thought, her warmest smile appearing on her face as he nodded quietly.
Harry´s gaze at once returned to her face as he felt his hand being taken by a smaller, warm, gentle, sugar-covered one. Green eyes met chocolate brown and Harry found himself absolutely unable to look away, locked in a kind of trance – the warmth in those eyes so prominent, he felt sure he knew only ONE other pair of eyes (ones that were the same rare color as his) which looked at him that way.
"I´d be delighted, Harry."she said, a happy tone in her voice and Harry felt his heartbeat quicken, though he felt this sensation to be much different from ussual – he felt a pleasant sort of excitement envelop him and it made a warm smile surface on his face as well.
"In that case, Great Hall before the leave for Hogsmeade."he said gently.
Ginny´s warm smile, as well as he hand which was holding Harry´s remained on the spot as she reached for another cake.
"Have you told your parents?"asked Harry in a curious voice.
Ginny´s eyes opened wide. She almost forgot...
"No... I was too chaught up in all the chaos."she said, her voice turning almost shy.
She supposed she should owl her parents. Escpecially since her Mum was already very worried for Ron´s sake (judging by the tear-soaked letter Ron recieved before noon) – Ron resolved to owl her as soon as he talked to Snape in order to put her worries to rest, since she found out about his engagement in the worst possible way – on the front page of the Daily Prophet.
"That´s understandable..."said Harry with a warm smile as Ginny looked at him.
"I have not told my parents yet eighter – I wished to talk to you first."
Ginny instantly fixed him with a warm smile again.
Suddenly there was a loud crack behind them and both of them looked around to the source, which turned out to be an old house-elf, who was holding an envilope and fixing Harry a wide smile.
"Fidus..."breathed Harry and the old house-elf bowed.
Ginny looked from Harry to the house-elf, curious for information as the house-elf approached.
"Ginny, this is my personal house-elf – Fidus."said Harry, gesturing to the old house-elf, an unmistakable look of pride on his face.
Fidus took a few seconds to look at both of them – his face recodnizing something very familiar, a happy smile erupting on his face. Smilingly he bowed to Ginny fixing her with the same smile as he did with Harry.
"A very great pleasure, Mistress Ginny."
Both Ginny and Harry turned scarlet.
Harry´s look turned embaressed, growing even redder in the face than Ginny did.
Fidus smiled at him slyly, looking at Harry with the air of knowing something he did not.
"Mister Borderick is sending this to you, Master Harry."he said holding out the envilope, his tone suddenly business-like, though his big eyes were surveying Harry curiously as though eager to see his reaction.
Harry took it, though his look or coloring of his face had yet to change.
"Thank you, Fidus..."he muttered, still embaressed.
Fidus smiled happily (Harry´s reaction confirming his thoughts) and did a small bow.
"Always a pleasure to run an errand for my young Master."he said - Ginny noted, with unmistakable loving affection – one she rarely ever seen in an house-elf.
Fidus fixed her with a knowing smile before turning his sights on his young Master.
"I shall be on my way. I see I am intruding, young Master..."he said, ignoring Harry´s instant shakings of head in negative.
"... but Master, Mistress Lily is really wanting to know about your engagement. Shall I tell her as I return to the Cottage?"
"No, Fidus..."said Harry quietly still red-faced, determined not to look anywhere near Ginny.
"I will contact her myself tommorow morning."
Fidus seemed even more pleased.
"As young Master wishes."he said pleasantly, dissaperating with a loud crack.
An embaressed silence hung in the room after he dissapeared. Ginny busied herself with the cakes and Harry took a butterbeer still resolved to look anywhere near her as he fought down his blush.
"I will, as you have heared, have to inform my Mum about this... if I know her, she will insist on meeting you... I shall try to postpone that meeting as much as I can."he said in an embaressed voice.
Ginny giggled a bit. This seemed to be a trait Alice Potter inherited after her mother. Though she never once met Lily Potter, she guessed (by what she knew and heared from both Neville and Alice) that she was a really lovely woman. She recodnized Harry´s reluctance and associated it (affectionately) with that of her brothers´.
"That won´t be a problem, Harry. I´m prepared to meet your parents in any time possible."she said, wanting to make things easier on him – something she once more did without a concious thought.
Her comment left him breathless. Was Astoria right about her?
"Even if it meant tommorow?"he asked in a stunned voice.
He knew his parents perfectly – he wouldn´t put it past them to match into Hogwarts in the wake of their excitement - if Mum got as excited as Dad (which was a sure gamble) and with the help of both Severus and Dumbledore... or even Remus or McGonnagal for that matter, breathless to speak to the both of them. And of course Harry, who (dispite general opinion) loved his parents to bits, certainly wouldn´t have the heart to deny his Mum´s request.
Ginny giggled dispite herself.
"Even if it meant tommorow."
At her confirmation Harry smiled again and took a small sip from his butterbeer.
"I´d like to meet yours as well..."he said suddenly, surprising her somewhat.
Ginny thought about it for a second – innitially she couldn´t EVER imagine someone like Harry ever fitting with her family, but her new findings about him spoke to the contrary. Plus she remembered one statement made by her brother a mere hour ago.
"Knowledgable about Muggle World, eh? Dad will be very pleased about that."she remembered with a slight giggle.
"Well... something could be arranged."she said with a grin.
Harry smiled, but suddenly rolled his eyes as though just realizing something.
"Assuming my Dad doesn´t arrange something first. Afterall... my sister is engaged to one of your brothers."
Ginny coughed, choking on the cake she was eating. Harry quickly waved his wand and eased it. Though this gesture was the last of Ginny´s worries right now.
"How... how do you know THAT?"she sputtered.
Harry couldn´t help the grin that flashed on his face.
"Fidus."he answered simply, quickly looking away.
There was a small moment of silence. Harry took the oppoturnity to take another swig of his butterbeer. Ginny once more spent a while looking at him and pondering. Had he taken the trouble in finding out about the engagements of Alice AND Neville? Does this mean, that he doesn´t share his sibling´s hostile feelings, which they seem to have for him?Also the blushing with the very mention of his Mum and the relationship with the old house-elf? Snape was right - there was MUCH more to him than meets the eye. It seemed that the more she delved into the mystery behind Harry Potter, the more mysteries she seemed to stumble upon – like she needed more in her life already. However (she realized) as she once more met his eyes, she would take great pleasure in solving this one.