Chapter 7: First Kiss
"You know... its murder not being able to hold your hand in public."whispered Ron as he and Hermione walked trough the streets of Hogsmeade.
"You´ve handled perfectly fine the first five years, so get a grip."she whispered back, checking around if anyone heared, though in fact her heart was fervently agreeing to what he said.
They still had time before the meeting in Hog´s Head and Ron insisted on visiting the former Zonko´s joke-shop, which has been bought off by Fred and George mere two weeks ago. Both were instantly surprised by a number of things – the shop was already open for business – a large number of Hogwarts students already there, next Lee Jordan there, telling them he had accepted Fred an George´s offer to run the shop there, while also informing them of his engagement with Katie Bell (plus also giving his sympaties to Ron about his engagement), but the greatest surprise came in the form of Fred Weasley and...
"Alice!"exclaimed both young Gryffindors, beaming at the sight of their friend.
Alice Potter beamed back at them and exchanged her greetings with them – a warm hug with Hermione and a hi-five with Ron.
"C´mon. Let´s go have a seat in the back."waved Fred, gesturing to the door behind him – his look suggesting he wanted a word with them.
As they sat down at a table and Fred offered up a few Butterbeers. Ron had an inckling what Fred wanted to discuss and was not dissapointed – his engagement with Snape. Ron and Hermione explained everything to them – including their little plan – after making them swear secrecy. Both Fred and Alice, who sat very close to eachother and held hands for the entire time, were surprised at this.
"Wow... who would´ve thought ol´Snape has a heart..."breathed Fred, feeling relief.
Alice smiled grimly.
"He has... he just doesn´t like to show it much... I excpect its a snake-thing..."
Hermione mimicked Alice´s smile.
"Malfoy apparently has one too... though I can´t be sure if its that, or that he just doesn´t want to be married to a Mudblood..."
"DON´T CALL YOURSELF THAT!"exclaimed all three other occupants of the table and she felt Ron´s hand instantly grab hers.
"I´ve told you... Mudblood and proud of it."she insisted, though the frown on her compagnions´ faces were still present.
"That word aside for now... I think you have a point, Mione... it may just be snake-opportunism... I should know..."grumbled Alice, thinking of another snake, very close to Malfoy junior.
Ron, Hermione and Fred all exchanged glances as Alice took a deep breath and looked at the younger pair – a very serious look on her face.
"How´s Ginny holding up?"
Ron was slightly taken aback that Alice knew, but Hermione figured as much.
"Well... she´s with him right now..."
"In the Three Broomsticks, I know. Along with my parents. I was there this morning when he agreed on it. Anyway... I warned that slimy little git, what´ll happen to him once he hurts her. And I don´t give a damn what Mum and Dad say!"she exclaimed, a fire in her eyes – though she felt a slight pang in her heart as she remembered, what he told her before he left trough the fireplace.
Fred looked grim, Ron gulped, but Hermione couldn´t help but recall Ginny´s tale and their encounter with him yesterday.
"Look, Alice... Ginny told me, he stood up for her yesterday when some idiots teased her about Ron and Snape..."
Fred looked at Hermione completly astounded, but Alice sniffed.
"Oh come ON, Mione. He stood up for his beloved Godfather not for Ginny. Plus he loves to see people running away from him – of course he leaped at the oppoturnity."
Hermione however shook her head.
"Ginny doesn´t seem to think so. She came back from the talk with him quite well and happy. Said, he´s much different than he appears."
Alice slapped her forehead.
"Oh no... he´s got to her already."she moaned.
"Alice... why do you hate the bloke so much?"asked Ron.
"I mean... we thought him to be the Heir of Slytherin or a Junior Death Eater and turns out we were wrong both times. He never picked a fight with us or you at Hogwarts... and well... he´s your brother."
Fred also looked puzzledly at Alice in the wake of his brother´s question. Afterall, the Weasley siblings stuck together no matter what and they found the concept of such a sibling relationship completly surreal. Alice almost gave a gasp as she remembered this morning.
"I really wish, that you would stop seeing me as a slimy snake and start to realize, that unlike a certain Chosen One, you also have a blood-brother."
However she shook her head stubbornly, her raven hair flying.
"None of you know what he´s like. For starters... He and his little pet... jammering away in Parseltongue, reminds you of a certain someone, doesn´t it?"
All four shuddered remembering Voldemort and his snake Nagini. Ron gulped – it had been HE who cut Nagini´s head off with Gryffindor´s sword when she tried to kill Hermione during the Battle of Hogwarts.
"Blimey... he has a pet-snake?"breathed Fred.
"Brought it back from a holiday in Egypt years ago. Some Egyptian Cobra Queen or something..."
Now Hermione let out an astounded gasp.
"The Royal Queen Cobra?!"
All three looked at her.
"Something like that, right. Both Dad and Professor Dumbleore couldn´t believe it when they saw it. Even Hagrid was awed about something."nodded Alice remembering the summer when he brought it in.
Hermione shook her head in awe.
"No wonder. Do you have any idea how rare that cobra is? Its a magicly bread cobra species that was once served the Ancient Pharaos and their Mages – in fact the Pharaoh´s diadem has that cobra in the middle. Its said that they only live in some ancient tombs and that they are very difficult to even find."
Ron and Fred looked at eachother, suddenly remembering something.
"Bill mentioned something about them, remember Fred? When we were there for our holiday...?"breathed Ron, remembering the summer before his third year, when the family went to visit Bill in Egypt.
Alice however gave another derisive sniff.
"That´s beside the point, Mione. Mum and Dad treat the snake as though its an adorable little puppy and HIM... being all affectionate with it..."
"Well I expect that Parselmouths have strong connections to their snakes. Also its said that Queen Cobras have very strong attachments to their owners."
Alice looked disgusted.
"You sound just like Dumbledore and the other teachers. You know they visit the Cottage over the holidays. The slimy git has them wrapped around his fingers. Won´t hear a word against him. My parents too... they all toletare his little curiosity. Always finds something... always damn secretive and his little experiments... I´ve only seen a few in his room... since he locked it down this summer. Can´t get into it no matter how hard I try. But some of it... he re-created the diary and along with that muggle-born friend of his, making one loony experiment after another..."
The Weasley brothers scrowled a bit at the diary – both remembered very well, that it almost took the life of their beloved little sister. Hermione however frowned.
"You´re afraid Alice, aren´t you?"
Alice looked at her incredulously.
"Of WHAT exactly?"she asked coldly.
Hermione took a small sigh before answering.
"You´re afraid of Harry turning out exactly like the rumors say... afraid that he may actually become the dark wizard you think... But Alice... if Professor Dumbledore thinks him to be okay, it can´t be that far from the truth, can it?"
For the slightest second, Alice looked hurt and confused. However her face quickly took on a defiant look.
"Look Mione...he is stubborn and set about going his own way... I... I just wish... he´d be more like Neville."
Draco Malfoy finally arrived in the Hog´s Head, bags in his hands. Looking around he at once saw the table where his Head of House was sitting with another of his collagues – Professor Charity Burbage. As he approached, he saw that the poor woman had been crying. Both looked very drawn in their quiet discussion and had barely noticed Draco coming until he stopped at the table. Upon noticing him however, they quickly tensed and Professor Burbage rose up as though her chair chaught an electric shock.
"Anyway... thank you very much for your time and sympathy, Severus."she said, red-faced.
"Anytime Charity..."said Severus gallantly fixing her a rare smile.
"Feel free to come and talk to me should you wish to discuss it more"
Draco was astounded to hear a gentle tone to Severus´ voice. Charity gave him a thankfull smile.
"I shall try to take your suggestion to heart. In the meantime... Severus (he gave a nod), Malfoy..."she said as she turned and quickly exited the Hog´s Head, still blushing.
Draco quirked an eyebrown and looked at his most favourite Professor, his lips forming a sly smile.
"Is there something I should know about?"
Severus rolled his eyes.
"Professor Burbage has been engaged to Professor Sinistra. Both have a problem with it, since they already like certain men..."
Draco couldn´t help but sigh as he sat down and let the bags fall gently on to the floor. "Another mismatch of the Repopulation Act, it seems."he thought bitterly, before looking at his Professor.
"About time she confessed to you... pity she did not do it way sooner."he sighed.
Severus´ cheeks turned slightly red but his expression was neutral.
"I have NO idea what you´re talking about."he said flatly.
Draco fixed him with a "Yeah, right" look, which made Severus´ cheeks turn redder.
"Well... I can see, that you´re handing your share of sympathy-giving..."he said, eying the bags at Draco´s feet – knowing full-well, who they were for.
Draco immediatly turned brick-red.
"I have NO idea what you´re talking about..."he muttered, but there was a knowing look on Severus´ face.
"Really, Draco... I do not need Legilimency to know, that you´ve went out of your way to buy a certain girl everything what she - no doubt let slip - would like."said Severus with a sly smile of his own.
Draco, still red-faced fixed him with a pout.
"Not like I had much of a choice. She´s worse than an Imperius Curse."
Now it was Severus who gave him a "Yeah, right" look.
"And you´re worse than your Godson."muttered Draco, determinedly looking the other way.
Severus couldn´t help but smile in satisfaction.
"Nice to know, I´m still on top of things."he said conversationally.
The door of the Hog´s Head opened and in came the two people the Slytherins expected. They greeted eachother casually and Aberforth took their order, smiling at the two Gryffindors.
"Yer sister was here with Harry an hour ago."he said to Ron.
Ron and Hermione looked eachother as Abefrorth returned with the drinks a moment later.
"She got me, Harry an´ Albus laughing so hard... Charmin´ girl."he said fondly.
"Nice to know their date´s going fine."said Draco happily.
Aberforth fixed him with a sly smile.
"The looks they keep givin´ eachother, boy... more than fine I think."
The foursome at the table couldn´t help but share a happy smile.
"Well... Harry told me you´d rather be left alone so..."said Aberforth, walking off and pulling his wand out.
After sealing the front door with a spell, he turned the sighn on his window from OPEN to CLOSED and hurried off into the next room. Ron and Hermione looked at Snape and Malfoy, both wearing small smiles.
"Aberforth told me, that Harry booked a private bar for us... so that we can discuss the plan in private and secrecy."explained Severus.
Hermione and Ron looked at eachother for what felt like the milionth time today while Draco gave an appretiative laugh.
"Typical Harry."before taking a swig of his drink.
One of the bags at Draco´s feet gave a small shake. Draco instantly found himself on the recieving ends of three curious stares.
"I´ve met Harry´s parents before they went to Three Broomsticks. His Dad asked me to deliver this bag to him, said he didn´t want to interupt his date or something of the sort... and that ol´ Fidus has a day off to spend with Apricie, so he can´t deliver it to him the ussual way - he told me, as he took it out of his robes after Mrs Potter entered the bar."he finished explaining, while sharing a look with Severus.
Severus could barely surpress a snort of laughter – he at once understood what the bag contained, and that Lily would definitely NOT aproove of this.
Ron tried to look curiously into the bag, but other than a few magazines and a small closed vase he couldn´t see anything there.
"His house-elf has a day-off?"breathed Hermione astounded.
"Certainly, Granger. The Potters insist on their two house-elves - they are mates so course, they wish to spend and enjoy a free-day together. Some time for eachother, you know. In fact its a family tradition of sorts as far as Harry told me."explained Draco, happy that her attention went away from the bag.
Severus gave a small clap with his hands – calling for attention.
"In any case, let´s go over the plan now. It is my understanding, that the Ministry will be doing many check-ups to ensure the fufillment of the Act. As Professor Dumbledore informed the staff, a rutine check-up will done at Hogwarts – something of a weekly interviews with respective couples."
Ron goaned and rolled his eyes.
"Haven´t they done enough already?!"
Now Draco rolled his eyes.
"Come on, Weasley... don´t you remember our fifth-year?! Umbridge´s rule over Hogwarts – High Inquisitor and all that...? I wouldn´t expect anything less from the Ministry following the Repopulation Act."
Hermione bit her lip. She expected no less from the Ministry as well.
"This will take some serious acting on our part."she muttered, her face showing concentration.
"Naturally. This will require us to spend time together, talk, reveal certain things about eachother (the three males all scrowled uncomfortably), eventually mabye even resort to drastic measures when affection will be required to be seen from us."
Severus´ explanation made Ron gulp in fear. He couldn´t imagine himself hodling hands with Snape or... he turned pure-white at the thought of affection he would be expected to share. When he turned his head to look at Hermione he saw her nod, Draco as well.
"W-wait...you..."he breathed, his head going from one compagnion to another.
Severus and Draco shared a look and sighed.
"By drastic measures, Ron – Professor Snape meant Polyjuice Potion or something similar."Hermione explained quickly.
The two Slytherins breathed as though the truth of it should be obvious to anyone.
"I don´t think any of us have to worry about that at the moment."said Draco.
"Seeing as almost everyone at Hogwarts know, that we aren´t very likely to have a good relationship we can simply begin with a story of being highly displeased and reluctant to go trough with this at all."
Severus felt a surge of pride in the way his student thinks – truly Slytherin-like.
"No problem in this situation."
Hermione smiled at him, but her smile quickly faltered.
"But I expect that we will HAVE to show to be trying to grow closer if for no other reason than to keep ourselfs out of Azkaban, right...?"
The two Slytherins nodded somberly.
"In order to make this believable Miss Granger... yes. The four of us will have to trust eachother and speak together before doing anything at all. However we must do it secretly, as not to draw attention to ourselfs. This secret pact as it were should therefore only be revealed to closest members of your families and only when you are completly sure that they will keep this secret."said Severus.
"I can vouch for my family."said Ron staunchly.
"I already had to write to my Mum, since she was taking the entire Prophet front-page matter very hard."
Severus fought to keep his face neutral. He knew as soon as he saw that front-page, that Cornelius Fudge took his revenge and for a few seconds deeply regretted, that Lily and James stopped him from casting that particural Imperius Curse – though he HAD to agree with Lily, that his plan would very likely have failed.
"I can also vouch for my parents. Nothing on you Granger, but Father was very angry. He went to see the Head of the Repopulation Act office first thing yesterday morning."
Ron scrowled at him, but Hermione didn´t seem to be surprised or take any offence to it. Severus however frowned – Lucius had considerable power... there was a faint chance, that he would be able to do something about his son´s engagement...
"Anyway... I think that for the moment, the four of us should simply get to know eachother, become friendly... though as Draco no doubt knows, Weasley – this will NOT mean, that I will relax on the standarts I expect from my students."said Severus, giving him a warning look before going on, offering Ron his hand as he did so.
"Though... when we are not seen... you – both of you - may call me, Severus."he said, troughoutly shocking his three younger compagnions.
Aberforth couldn´t help but smile as he viewed them from the other room – the foursome shaking hands and sharing small smiles a while later – almost tentactively. Perhaps, as he, Albus and Harry speculated today – this idiotic Act could have its light-points, especially in this post-Voldemort time. He thought back to the fond smile Albus gave Harry and Ginny as they left the bar not so long ago – being very happy about that particural match-up.
"Well little brother, it seems the times are changing. And for the better I think..."
Aberforth grinned. It was not often he agreed with Albus, but in this case he agreed whole-heartedly.
Luna sighed dreamily yet again as she and Blaise walked towards the Three Broomsticks. Since the start of the Hogsmeade trip, Blaise took to fufilling every single wish she made. Making the rounds in almost every shop he waited for her patiently, insisted on buying her most of what she wanted, then treated her to ice-cream and sweets, pampering her as much as humanly possible. She remembered her late Mum telling her stories when she was little. Her most favourite was the one about the charming young wizarding prince, who came in and swepped the poor young witch off her feet.
"One day, Luna-sweetie... this prince will come to you. And he will make you the happiest witch on Earth."she remembered her saying confidently.
She squeezed Blaise´s arm – which she held on to with both of hers – even tighter and snuggled closer to it, as her eyes closed dreamily.
"You were right, Mummy. My prince has come..."she thought, her heart almost exploding with happiness.
Blaise looked at her curiously, feeling the added pressure.
"Anything wrong, Luna-darling?"he asked as they stopped.
Luna shook her head smilingly.
"No Blaise... its just... you´re so nice to me."she said passionately, standing on her tip-toes and delivering a loving kiss on his cheek.
Blaise instantly turned red and almost swayed on the spot – a sheepish grin present on his face as he looked into Luna´s eyes.
"Well I... I... I mean... I..."he stammered, completly unable to form a sentance, looking for a moment like a shy school-boy – something which only invited Luna´s girlish giggles.
Luna couldn´t remember ever seeing something more adorable and in one swift movement her arms relased his and went around his neck. Blaise´s eyes went wide with surprise as Luna litterally smashed her lips onto his. He couldn´t recall EVER feeling something so...amazing, so inviting, so... incredible...
He closed his eyes and returned the kiss, answering her passion with his own, feeling Luna shuddering pleasantly as they held eachother.
"I don´t believe it! Loony Lovegood snogging Blaise Zabini?!"
The jeering voice brought them apart to see a gang of Ravenclaws – boys and girls, oggling at them, laughing at the sight. Blaise pressed his lips angerly as all of them shared another laugh.
"Don´t think much of your taste, Zabini. You can do much better I think, than Loony Lovegood."jeered one of them.
Blaise gave an angry sniff.
"You think so, Stebbins?! I am under the impression, that my taste as it were is no business of yours. I strongly advise you all to clear off from here, before I resort to my wand. You see, I do NOT appretiate someone making fun of my fianceé."
Luna´s heart soared, though she didn´t allow it to show on her face.
Some of the boys looked uneasily at Blaise´s cold tone of voice as well as the threat. Stebbins however didn´t and no more did the girl by his side.
"Fianceé?! You´re engaged to THAT, Loony?!"jeered the girl, pointing at Blaise.
The Ravenclaws were instantly treated to something they haven´t seen yet – Luna Lovegood glaring, and very coldly at that. The girl apparently didn´t notice as she gave a small laugh.
"Well... I suppose someone like you can only do as much... engaged to a slimy snake..."
She didn´t get to finish her sentance. Before anyone could react Luna (more furious than anyone had ever seen her) pulled out her wand and hit the girl with a curse. The girl squaled as painfull hives erupted on her face.
"NO ONE INSULTS MY FIANCEÉ, SUMMERS!"screamed Luna, feeling more angrier than she could ever remember being.
She could easily shrugg off anything people said about her, but she would NOT let anyone bad-mouth this amazing, charming, treasure of a boy to whom she was engaged to.
Stebbins gave an angry growl as other girls were trying to help the fallen girl and pulled out his wand.
"You think you can be so high-and-mighty just because you´re pals with Longbottom and now engaged to Zabini, Lovegood?! Its about time someone taught you a lesson!"he roared and fired a curse at her.
Luna was ready, but before she could do anything the curse rebound off a Shield Charm and a second later Stebbins was hanging by the anckle in mid-air. Looking beside her, Luna saw that Blaise had his wand out and his expression was fierce.
A couple of them took out their wands but before they could even cast their spells, they were disarmed by both Blaise and Luna. Blaise pressed his advantage and used the Levicorpus spell on two more.
"Next time be sure to watch your mouths and mind your business."said Blaise angerly as many people on the street stopped and watched.
Blaise undid the Levicorpus and the levitated fell painfully on the ground.
"And I warn you right now. If any of you try to take your revenge on my dear fianceé, I shall hear about it and then you will see just how angry a slimy snake can be!"
Turning to Luna he grasped her hand and led her towards the Three Broomsticks without so much as a glance at them.
"Come on, my sweet. The sooner we join Harry and Miss Weasley the better."
His voice was calm, but Luna could tell he was as angry as she was.
"Thank you for standing up for me, Luna."he said quietly, smiling at the thought – a very importaint question for him was confirmed.
"Your Furnunculus Curse was brilliant by the way."
Luna blushed at the praise – Blaise was looking at her in admiration.
"Well... Patricia Summers had always been a bit concieted, but I will not stand for her offending you."
Blaise smiled widely. He was not at all disturbed by the "slimy snake" bit – he had heared those too many times to count, but his heart warmed at seeing Luna so furiously defending him. He thought back to what Harry and Draco had said yesterday about Ginny Weasley defending her brother – something which made an impression on Harry – and he could now easily understand what Harry liked so much.
Stopping he faced Luna looking deeply into her eyes.
"Luna my sweet dove... I don´t care what anyone thinks or says – I think myself extremly lucky to be engaged to you."his voice incredibly gently, he caressed her cheek with his thumb.
Luna gave him an overjoyed smile and Blaise wasted no time in planting his lips on hers lovingly.
Ginny was still giggling eventhough Lily and James left fifteen minutes ago.
"You could fry an egg on your face, Harry."
Opposite her sat Harry, who was still trying to hide his face which was still in a deep shade of red. Lily told Ginny so many lovely times of his childhood, that Harry almost felt faint with embaressment. James sympathized though giving him a small ray of hope. Well... a huge one, actually – one that would be waiting for him in his room as soon as he gets back from Hogsmeade. If he doesn´t die of embaressment until then, that is...
"Now who would´ve thought, that the Slytherin House´s scary monster was such an adorable little tyke as a child."teased Ginny, wiggling her eyebrows and once more erupting in giggles as Harry goaned and tried once more to hide his face.
"Please, Ginny... please... if you´re going to torture me, use the Cruciatus Curse."he moaned.
Ginny stopped giggling and gave him a puppy-eyed look, placing her palm on her heart.
"Torture you, Harry...? Would I do that...?"she asked in an innocent voice.
Harry shot her an exaspirated look.
"You´re doing a brilliant job of it..."he murmured, folding his arms and pouting like a child, looking deliberately the other way.
Ginny once more saw the boy she heared so much about, and her heart fluttered. She stood up and re-seated herself at his side, placing a hand on his arm.
"Awww... my poor fianceé. Can he ever forgive me for so cruelly torturing him by laughing at his youthfull misadventures? Can the damage ever be undone?"
Harry felt the urge to laugh, but decided to play along for a moment or so. He gave another sniff and pout and refused to look at her. Recodnizing the playfullness, Ginny grinned – her heart positively purring. She gave him a long, sound kiss on the cheek.
Harry turned his head towards her slightly and Ginny saw his emerald eye twinkling.
"THAT´S better."he said stiffly.
Ginny erupted in laughter and Harry dropped the act, joining her and reaching for her hand.
"Well... you seem happy together."rang a dreamy voice, drawing their attention.
"Luna."exclaimed Ginny happily and stood up to greet her.
Blaise and Harry smiled at eachother as the girls exchanged a hug.
"You got my SMS, I see."said Harry happily as Blaise and Luna sat down together facing Ginny and him.
Blaise nodded while the two girls eyed them in curiosity.
"SMS?"asked Ginny looking at her fianceé.
Harry fixed her a smug look.
"Yes. You see... me and my friends have our private means of communication. Not unlike you DA members in fact."
Blaise couldn´t help but chuckle as the girls gasped.
Harry´s smug look became more pronounced.
"I saw Neville with that fake Galleon. Plus Al...Professor Dumbledore told me of the DA and of those Galleons after the Battle of Hogwarts. I really have to hand it to Granger... she has admirable talent."
Suddenly Harry twitched.
"Oh... perfect timing... speaking of SMS..."he said as he raised his right hand for the entire table to see.
Ginny and Luna looked at his wristband and gasped. The green snake on it seemed to MOVE. Harry pressed his finger on it and the girls gasped again – the snake´s head rose from the wristband and enlarged itself slightly. It opened its mouth and instead of a tongue a piece of paper came out. As soon as Harry pulled it out, the snake´s head shrunk back and returned to its place on the wristband, becoming still. Ginny and Luna were looking open-mouthed as Harry smoothed out the paper and Blaise gave a small laugh.
"Harry and Angus invented that wonderous spell in our fifth-year. We call it SMS – Snake Message Spell."he explained in amusement.
Ginny gaped at Harry.
"This... this is an astounding piece of magic..."she breathed – she was used to Fred and George´s little inventions for their Joke Shop, but NEVER has she seen anything like THIS.
Harry gave her a sunny smile, his cheeks reddening at the praise.
"You flatter me."he said, before his eyes returned to the letter.
"Well, Angus and his fianceé won´t be joining us. They ran into Hagrid and accepted his offer to join him and his little brother for the afternoon."he said with a small smirk.
"Nice of Miss Bones of giving Angus home-field advantage as it were."
Harry nodded, but Ginny still didn´t take her off of him. She remembered what she had heared about Harry just yesterday from the Professors.
"He is an incredibly talented boy, Miss Weasley. Not many realize that, though I think he prefers it that way."said Professor Sprout in a fond voice.
"Oh yes... very smart indeed, young Mr Potter. I daresay, that his parents are rightly proud of him. I have to confess that I sometimes wonder why wasn´t he sorted into my house – very smart, intelligent and instictive. Only rarely you come across such a pupil."squeaked Professor Flitwick, smiling.
"Harry Potter? Eversince I came to know him as a little boy he was always a calm and curious boy. Very curious indeed. Always finding something to intrigue him..."said Professor McGonnagal, her face sporting a rare smile.
"... I remember he always only asked a slight bit of help, but focused on the matter mostly on his own. You see Miss Weasley... he ussually likes to find solutions on his own. I understand that his siblings find this to be troublesome about him, but always it seems that he is perfectly capable of figuring things out on his own just fine."
"Harry? Well you see, Ginny... since he´s the son of one of my best friends I have known him since he was little. He was always an... unussual little boy. Always going along with me, Sirius or Professor Snape, eager to learn something new. And speaking as your Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, I have to say – an incredible student, very gifted in the subject. I understand, that our Duelling Club has rarely seen such talent. Though I sometimes think, that he is keeping some of his talents and skills a secret from everyone. He definitely likes his secrets Harry... He and his siblings have a troubled relationship – many of us resort to simply not take sides in the matter - so instead he likes spending most of his time with his friends, going on trips and always discovering something new. I understand that he and Angus Lennox take to inventing objects and similar things – it irritates Alice to no end. Plus there is the matter of Harry´s pets... but all-in-all, Ginny... I think the Ministry made a very good match-up in this case. I know Harry has difficulties to open-up, but I think that you might be the person, who will be able to penetrate his defences."said Remus Lupin with a smile.
"There is much more to him than meets the eye. Deep down he´s a really caring and loving person. You merely have to get to that point. If you truly wish to have a relationship with him, Miss Weasley... you merely have to get closer to him. I think this could work out if you try."concluded Professor Snape.
And finally she remembered what the Dumbledore brothers said to her as Harry excused himself to the bathroom in Hog´s Head mere hours ago.
"Harry´s a good kid. Got his heart in the right place, he has. Plus has ´bout as much talent as Albus here."said Aberforth, nodding his head aproovingly as his elder brother smiled.
"If not more... I must say, he never fails to surprise me. I have speculated many times... well, I am happy to see, that there is a young wizard of such caliber around here. Though I pray he won´t make my mistakes..."said Albus, dropping his gaze slightly, a small frown appearing on his ancient face.
"He won´t Albus. He proved as much in that shack in Little Hangleton, remember?"said Aberforth staunchly.
A small smile appeared on Albus´ face.
"You´re right, Ab. I daresay, that I´m a living proof of that."
Ginny looked at the two brothers – something personal going on between them, their small smiles shining, as though they were remembering a highly affectionate memory.
"In any case, Miss Weasley... I think you two will make for an incredible pair. Indeed I see that history may be repeating itself in a way, though thistime it is heading towards a happy ending."said Albus leaving Ginny completly confounded as Harry was making his way back to them.
Ginny once more asked herself the same set of questions as the conversation at the table moved elsewhere - as Blaise, Luna and Harry were discussing Angus Lennox and his engagement to Susan Bones. What did the two Dumbledores mean by it? Obviously he had done something that won him neverending respect and admiration from them. Obviously he´s more tight with them than anyone she knew – including (she realized with a small gasp) her parents, whom Dumbledore held to high regards. Plus Albus Dumbledore – the greatest sorcerer in the world, praising his abilities, happy a "wizard of such caliber" is here? And "mistakes"? What mistakes did Albus Dumbledore make, that he did not want Harry repeating? She thought back to some of the rumors going around him and what Alice Potter always said about him – was it possible, that some rumors she dismissed as stupid were actually true? She looked at him, as he was laughing away at some joke he and Blaise made... she felt deep curiosity as well as admiration – she felt, that Harry would continue to surprise her for years to come. She couldn´t help but smile radiantly at him, though he wasn´t looking her way right now. This boy... no man... had shown a few of his secrets to her in the past 48 hours, but it was plain to her, that there is so much more where those came from. He was – she realized with a flutter of inexplicable affection – a deep, complex mystery.
"My green-eyed mystery..."she thought fondly as she took his arm in both of hers – she would call him just that from now on.
It was almost evening when Harry and Ginny exited the Room of Requirement. Ginny was positively on cloud-nine. After their return to Hogwarts, Harry still wanted to spend time with her, so he once more made the Room transform into the same type of room as yesterday, but before that he shown her another of Hogwart´s secrets – the Kitchen. The tiny house-elves were extremly happy to see him – another one of Harry´s secrets – and he asked politely for food to be delivered to the Room, something which the elves were only too happy to oblidge – adressing Harry as their hero (to which Harry answered blushingly, as shy as a first-year). As they had their food brought up to them, Harry explained that the Junior Death Eaters had once tried to quietly attack the Kitchen and poison the food meant for the staff, something which was thwarted by both Harry and Blaise and which saved both the lives of the unsuspecting Professors as well as most of the tiny elves. Ginny was intrigued to find, that many of the Junior´s doings were not even known – since the plans were thwarted before they could even come to fruition. She felt a pang a few times, since she realized that over the years Alice, Neville and many others (she realized with another pang) including her, had villified Harry, his friends and some of the Slytherins (SOME - she reminded herself) without knowing or (another pang) caring, that they were also on their side – working hard in order to stop bad things from happening at Hogwarts. Though when she asked about the Chamber of Secrets or the Triwizard Tournament, Harry skated over those subjects, determined not to say much. In any case, Ginny couldn´t remember ever having a date like this. She had the time of her life with mere walking around and became aware of many things happening outside general view. She realized, as Harry was walking her toward Gryffindor Tower (she suspected he knew exactly how to get there – had he BEEN there before?), that she had never met someone so extraordinary. The last statement left her mouth before she could stop it and once more she saw the tiny little boy blushing shyly at her.
"Oh, stop... I think you´re overestimating me..."he murmured, his cheeks deep-red.
"After everything I´ve seen today, I think NOT."
Harry´s blush grew redder as they stopped in the corridor, the portrait of the Fat Lady was already visible.
"Well... this is where I leave you, I suppose. Wouldn´t want to enter the Lions´ den afterall..."he said, humor in his voice.
"Well, you won´t find me stumbling into the snake-pit either, Potter."
Harry laughed, his hand still holding hers.
"Thanks for today, Harry."she breathed appretiatively.
He gave her a sunny smile.
"My pleasure Ginny. If you want... tommorow´s Sunday... we can meet up..."he said, suddenly shy again.
Ginny gave him a radiant smile.
"Talk to you at breakfast."
Harry grinned and nodded.
"Good night Ginny."he said smilingly.
Suddenly he almost gave a gasp – Ginny looked at him with a hard, blazing look in her face – he couldn´t remember EVER seeing something like this... something so... inviting... so... mesmirizing...
"Good night, my green-eyed mystery."she said in a quiet voice, but something about it had the most perculiar effect – just as same as the look she gave him, passionate, caring and...
He couldn´t even decipher what he was feeling, but something was drawing him closer... something longing to be close to this girl – as though nothing in the world was as importaint as her right now... something he never felt before and yet he felt as though he waited for it all life long... his natural curiosity pushing him forward, determined to discover more about this beautifull, amazing feeling, determined to get to the bottom of this most intrigueing mystery...
Simultaniously the two grew closer and their lips met. Harry instantly felt the curiosity behind his action transform (as though the question was answered in the simple touch – as though the mystery came clear in one simple motion) into something he didn´t even know he was capable of – passion... as flaming and hot as Everlasting Fire, as wide and neverending as the time itself, as peacefull and beautifull as nature which he loved ever so dearly, as wonderous and magical as his most pleasant dream, as... (he instantly realized) as strong and equal as the one this marvelous girl was giving him...
As the voice roared in the corridor Harry felt himself blasted away from Ginny and this incredible feeling and colliding painfully with a wall before sliding down to the ground.
He instantly fixed his sights on the person who cast the Impediment Jinx, as did Ginny who was shocked at what happened, but not as shocked as when she saw who had separated them.
Neville Longbottom stood in the corridor, a book under his arm and a wand in the other.
"I KNEW it! I KNEW you´d try something, but I never thought you would go THAT low!"he roared angerly, glaring at Harry who was getting from the ground and shaking in anger as Neville covered the distance, the book falling to the ground as he moved to Ginny.
"Ginny, are you all right? Did he get you? What did he do?! The Imperius Curse?! The Confundus Charm? Finite Incantatem."he said quickly, pointing his wand at her.
Ginny took long breaths... trying to sort out the bungle of emotions that raged in her.
"Neville you... you... YOU IDIOT!"she screamed, angry tears stinging her eyes – she couldn´t believe what just happened.
Neville stepped back looking at her, hurt... then at once rounded at Harry, firing a curse at him. But Harry, who already had his wand out deflected the curse without an effort.
"What did you DO to her, you stupid serpent?!"Neville roared and blocked Harry´s curse – Harry looking absolutely livid, his bottom lip trembling in rage though he wasn´t the only one.
"HE DIDN´T DO ANYTHING YOU PRAT! EXCEPT GIVING ME THE GREATST KISS I´VE EVER HAD!"bellowed Ginny and Neville turned at her – his face wearing a look of shock.
"HE WHAT?!"he roared and instantly sent another set of curses at Harry, who blocked them as easily as the one before.
Harry´s eyes blazed. In a swift motion and using non-verbal spells he disarmed Neville and bound him as though by invisible ropes.
"You heared right, brother dearest."said Harry quietly coming closer to him, pure rage in his voice and Ginny was instantly under the impression, that he was trying to somehow control himself.
"I took the trouble of escorting MY FIANCEÉ to her Common Room and was just saying good night to her before you came along! Now, before you try to attack me next time, Neville, at least get your facts straight! And I... I... (a look of hurt came across his face for a brief second before it was replaced by utter disgust) OH FORGET IT! I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO, THAT WASTE MY TIME WITH YOU!"he bellowed in his rage, for the slightest second he looked conflicted about something, but he chaught a glimpse of Ginny´s face – tears rolled down her cheeks.
Instantly he came to her and wiped some of those tears with his finger.
"Ginny... I´m sorry... I... I´ll talk to you tommorow at breakfast, okay?"he said quietly, his green eyes pleading.
Ginny nodded, but she couldn´t stop the tears rolling down.
"I... I can´t stay here... in the present company... excuse me..."he muttered before he turned and left the corridor as quickly as he could, leaving Ginny and Neville alone.
"You... you´re engaged to HIM?!"breathed Neville in pure shock and disgust, the ropes still binding him.
She instantly fixed him with her angriest glare.
"THAT´S RIGHT YOU BLOODY IDIOT! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?! YOU SPOILED EVERYTHING!"she roared, completly beside herself, Harry´s sudden departure struck her more than she could´ve thought.
"Ginny I... he... he is..."stammered Neville.
"SHUT UP! I DON´T WANT TO HEAR A WORD OF IT! SHUT UP!"she bellowed, her throat sore and her hand itching to go for her wand and hex him into oblivion – concourer of the Dark Lord or not.
The portrait opened and Gyffindors having heared the shouting decided to come and investigate – Ron and Hermione, recodnizing her voice were there in the lead.
Furious beyond belief, Ginny turned on her heel and quickly made into the Common Room before the sob that was tearing to escape could betray her. Hermione at once took her and lead her to one of the sofas. Ron looked at them, before turning to look at Neville along with the rest of the Gryffindors.
"Ron! Help me with this..."called Neville, still struggling against the ropes binding him.
Ron once more peeked inside the Common Room, where Hermione seated herself and Ginny, who collapsed sobbing with Hermione comforing her – something which CERTAINLY didn´t happen every day, before turning his sights on Neville, understanding what may have happened.
"Sorry, mate... but unlike your opinion – siblings come first."he said coldly before turning and rushing into the Common Room to join Hermione and Ginny.
As soon as he sat himself on Ginny´s other side, Ginny embraced him and cried on his shoulder – Ron wasting no time in comforting her as much as he possibly could. The other Gryffindors were looking from them to the Chosen One, unsure what to do. Neville himself had stopped struggling – something about Ron´s statement shocked him and there was a mixed look of hurt and confusion on his face before Seamus and Dean rushed forward and released him from the ropes.