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HP stories following Canon after Deathly Hallows >> Hogsmead: Anticipation by Northumbrian

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2. Hogsmeade: Anticipation

It was the first Saturday in October, the day of the first Hogsmeade visit. Ginny hadn’t seen Harry since she’d left for Hogwarts, since he’d kissed her goodbye on the Hogwarts Express. Unfortunately, today Ginny wasn’t going to have her boyfriend to herself; she’d have to share him because Harry had organised a DA meeting, a reunion, for today.

Ginny appreciated the sentiment; the group had been formed three years earlier at the first Hogsmeade visit of that year. She had discussed the meeting with Harry on a lazy Sunday in the summer and had actually encouraged him to organise something. It been a great idea at the time, but now, after more than a month without him, all she really wanted was for them to have some time alone together.

She was eating breakfast in the Great Hall when the post arrived. There was a letter for her. She recognised the writing on the envelope; it was a letter from Harry. He was still using post owls, as he stubbornly refused to replace Hedwig. She opened his letter and read quickly.

Ginny,

Ron finally confessed; he did give Hermione a hint. She wrote to him three days in a row, asking him for some clue to the “54 gallons” reference. He gave in and told her “six firkins,” and apparently that was enough. So, despite what she told you, the Head Girl didn’t manage to figure out our message alone. We stumped the great brain!

I wish I’d seen her face when Luna told her that it was easy! I bet she spent the day in the library.


‘She did,’ Ginny said aloud to her absent boyfriend, grinning as she did so. A firkin was nine gallons, six firkins was 54 gallons, or one Hogshead, of ale. This oblique reference to the Hog’s Head had been Hermione’s dad’s idea. Ron, Ginny and Harry had approached him at the end of the summer holidays and asked him about things Hermione didn’t know. “Beer and cricket” had been his answer. When they’d told him the name, he’d said, “Hogshead is a barrel size; she won’t know that.” He’d been right.

Luna had known immediately. Ginny had watched her read the message “12:00 – 3 Oct – 54 gallons of ale,” and smile in understanding. Luna also knew that there were forty poles to the furlong and four pecks to the bushel. When Ginny asked, the blonde Ravenclaw witch had been astonished that these weren’t facts that everyone knew. Head Boy Justin knew beer, as his father owned a chain of Muggle pubs, among other things. The pubs often used the word “firkin” in their name, because it sounded a bit rude. Because of that, Justin knew barrel sizes and had figured it out very quickly. Dean, once a puzzled Dennis had told his fellow Gryffindor about the message, simply asked Luna who told him the answer.

Ginny had warned every DA member still at school not to tell Hermione. She was enjoying seeing the Head Girl looking puzzled. Under Headmistress McGonagall, opportunities for practical jokes were limited, so she had to get her pleasures some other way. Smiling to herself, Ginny read the rest of Harry’s letter. He told her how his Auror training was going (very well) and how he was missing her (very much). The last, short, paragraph was almost a postscript; her pulse raced as she read it.

I’m going to go to the Hog’s Head at eleven to help Aberforth set things up. How soon can you get out of school? I’ll be outside Honeydukes at half past ten; I hope that you can meet me then.

She’d expected to meet him at twelve; in his last letter, he’d said that was the earliest he could get to Hogsmeade. His plans had changed, apparently; she’d see him sooner but, that wasn’t what was making her heart beat faster. He had ended the letter:

All my love,

Harry x


Ginny read the valediction again and again.

One kiss was all she ever got. Harry’s first letter to her had been waiting for her when the train arrived in Hogsmeade; he had finished it:

Yours,

Harry x


She’d replied immediately, and had put two dozen kisses on her reply, adding, “ps One measly little kiss? Don’t I deserve more?” His reply had been waiting for her the following morning. “One kiss is enough, providing that it’s a good one, and believe me, that was a very good kiss.” That joking exchange had led to her following Harry’s lead. Since then, one little “x” was all they sent each other. But, until today, until this wonderful letter, all of his letters had finished simply, Yours, Harry x. That had been enough; she had been happy with Yours, because it was true; he was, after everything that had happened, hers.

All my love… that was new; that was wonderful.

She whooped with joy.

Everyone on the Gryffindor table stared at her. ‘Letter from Harry,’ she explained. Heads returned to their breakfasts, curiosity satisfied. She checked her watch; she would be seeing him in just over an hour. She wolfed down the rest of her breakfast and dashed off to the Prefect’s bathroom, thankful for the privilege that being Quidditch Captain gave her.

While she bathed, Ginny thought back to a conversation she’d had with Hermione in the summer. They had been on holiday in France and had shared a room. Ron and Harry had shared another, and Hermione’s parents had made sure that things stayed that way. On their last night, at about midnight, she and Hermione had found themselves awake, and a little depressed that their holiday was ending.

oooooOOOOOooooo


‘Hermione?’

‘Mmm?’

‘Has Ron ever told you that he loves you?’

Hermione gave an embarrassed laugh.

‘That is a very personal question, Ginny,’ she said seriously. ‘Why do you want to know?’

‘Has he?’

‘Yes,’ Hermione sighed sadly. ‘Lots of times; but only twice since we started going out together.’

‘What?’ Ginny was confused.

‘He used to say it all the time,’ Hermione told her, ‘even when he was going out with Lavender.’

‘Truthfully?’

‘Yes … I think it’s because you’re from a big family,’ Hermione explained. ‘I expect you say it all the time to each other, and I think Ron used to say it without thinking; it was just a bigger and better thank you. When I helped him, I sometimes got an “I love you,” instead of a “thanks.” Since we started going out, he’s said it twice; once in Australia, when we were arguing about my parents, I ignored him—’ Hermione lowered her head sadly, ‘and once over the phone, early in the summer. I think he meant it, but he wouldn’t repeat it. Why do you want to know?’

‘Dean used to say it all the time,’ confessed Ginny, ‘but …’

‘Harry never has,’ Hermione concluded.

‘No,’ Ginny confirmed.

‘Dean just wanted to get into your knickers—or, at the very least, get his hands inside your blouse,’ Hermione told her friend frankly, making Ginny very uncomfortable. He managed with the blouse, but I’m never telling anyone that, except Harry, and not even him until he’s ready, she thought, and Dean is never going to talk. Or else!

‘Harry …’ Hermione continued, oblivious to Ginny’s thoughts, ‘Harry … well, think about it, Ginny, how many people have told you they love you? Your parents, your brothers, other relatives, Dean … and Michael for all I know.’

‘Not Michael,’ said Ginny.

‘Seriously? Well, how many people do you think have said those three words to Harry?’ she asked

Ginny was silent, thinking.

‘None,’ she replied.

‘Possibly Sirius.’ Hermione conjectured. ‘But you’re probably right, no one. I expect that his Mum and Dad did, but he won’t remember that.’

‘So…’

‘So, when Harry does say it,’ advised Hermione, ‘he’ll mean it. He will really mean it.’

‘Maybe I should tell him, first,’ Ginny suggested, though she knew even before she spoke that she should not.

‘No! You know Harry better than that, Ginny; he’ll feel obliged to say it back to you even if he’s really not ready to say the words.’

Ginny nodded sadly; she did know better, but she’d needed confirmation from Hermione.

‘You need to be patient, Ginny; he does love you, desperately. He’s quite pathetic about it, and I saw him obsessing over the Marauders Map most of last year. He’ll tell you when he’s ready. But the words won’t come easy to him. As for Ron…’

‘You’re right about Dean, Hermione,’ Ginny interrupted, ‘he would say things he didn’t really mean, just to get … his own way. Ron won’t do that to you.’ Ginny grinned, ‘My brother can be an idiot, but he’s a bit like Harry. The next time he says the words to your face, he will mean it.’

‘But when?’ wondered Hermione.

‘Boys!’ Ginny sighed.

‘Boys!’ Hermione confirmed.

‘You can’t live with them,’ Ginny said, ‘and you can’t live without them.’

‘And you can’t hex them into oblivion,’ Hermione added.

‘I can,’ Ginny announced. ‘Six brothers; I’ve had lots of practice.’

oooooOOOOOooooo


Smiling, Ginny returned to the present and hauled herself out of the bath. Clean, and smelling fresh and flowery, she returned to the Gryffindor common room and climbed up the stairs to her dormitory. What should she wear? She pulled item after item from her trunk.

Her black dress; Harry liked it, but they were going to a DA meeting, not a party—and anyway, she’d worn it to Colin’s funeral. Her new short skirt—no, she was saving that for a very special occasion. Ron would object to it, anyway. And Harry would be embarrassed if Ron created a scene. Robes; definitely not! Something casual—something Muggle—she made her decision. She pulled on a new low-cut vest. It was short and white, with the Gryffindor lion in red on the front. Her jeans were new, too. She examined herself in the mirror and decided to make some improvements. Taking her wand she spent some time carefully shrinking various parts of both jeans and vest, making certain that they fitted very, very snugly. The only other time she’d tried that, a week after the battle, the effect on Harry had been remarkable.
Jeans and vest top, her brothers couldn’t complain, and Harry would think that it was normal. He’d never realise the efforts she’d gone through. He would notice her, but not immediately, she decided. She pulled on a long, baggy bright green sweater. It covered her hips and instantly transformed her look from skin-tight back to slightly-scruffy normal.

It was almost half past ten; where had the time gone? She pulled on her school cloak, grabbed her broom, and opened the window. She could only leave through the school gate, but the broom would get her to the gate, and then on to Hogsmeade, quickly. She leapt out and flew to the Hogsmeade exit. There was a queue of students waiting to leave.

‘I’m meeting Harry; I’m late,’ she told the people there, using her well-practiced innocent and flustered look. It worked; everyone let her pass. Only one boy, a burly Slytherin fifth year, looked like he would argue; but Colin Creevey’s friend, and Ginny’s only Slytherin friend, Fenella Gray, intervened. ‘Just let her through, Shuttleworth,’ Fenella pleaded in a whisper. Shuttleworth glared at Fenella, but she was almost a foot taller than Ginny, a seventh-year, a Slytherin, and a Prefect. The fifth year didn’t argue, which was fortunate, as Ginny knew that Fenella was far from forceful and would probably have backed down.

Once outside the gate, Ginny re-mounted her broom and flew to Hogsmeade. She landed at the far side of the village, away from the school; she was late. Walking quickly along the street, she approached Harry from behind. He stood outside of the door to Honeydukes, looking anxiously in the opposite direction, up the path which led from the school.

Ginny slowed down and approached him quietly, watching; he hadn’t seen her. He was nervous. He was always nervous when they first met—it was as though he thought she might not turn up, the silly boy! He always looked cute when he was nervous, too. Any second now, he’d take off his glasses and polish them.

He did! She grinned.

‘Hi, Harry,’ she called, throwing back her cloak and swinging her hips as she walked towards him. She feigned nonchalance, though her heart was close to exploding. ‘I haven’t seen you in a while.’

He hastily replaced his spectacles and smiled that heart-melting smile of his.

‘More than a month,’ he told her, correctly, ‘thirty two days…’ He was going to tell her the hours, too, but his smile had been too much for her; she wasn’t going to waste time talking. Before he could say anything else, she stepped up and kissed him. She’d missed him, and he’d missed her; the long, passionate kiss was confirmation of that. She felt one hand in her hair, the other on her back. She slid her arms round him, pulled him closer, and squeezed his lovely bottom. Behind them, the shop door opened.

‘Oi,’ a voice called, ‘stop blocking my doorway, how can my customers get in?’

Ginny rounded angrily on the shopkeeper, reaching for her wand.

‘Sorry, Ambrosius,’ apologised Harry, grabbing Ginny’s wand hand and smiling at the startled little wizard. ‘We’ll have two hot chocolates, please.’ He led her into the shop and sat her down at the nearest of half-a-dozen small tables, which were a new addition to the shop.

‘Certainly, Mr Potter,’ the elderly wizard scuttled back behind the counter, looking warily at Ginny.

‘Is hot chocolate okay?’ asked Harry, suddenly concerned.

‘Honeydukes’ Finest Hot Chocolate? Perfect,’ Ginny smiled at him.

‘Did you … did you get my letter this morning?’ he asked nervously, looking anxiously into her face.

‘Obviously,’ she said offhandedly, choosing to tease him, ‘otherwise how would I have known to be here?’

‘Oh, good,’ he said. He looked down at the table in embarrassment. ‘That’s good, great.’

Ginny suddenly understood. He’d been hoping for an opening, a chance to actually say the words, and she’d casually dismissed his letter. She knew Harry; he needed a serious moment to say a serious thing. The moment had gone, and it was her fault.

‘So, Ron gave Hermione a clue about the message,’ Harry continued, still looking down at the table.

‘Yes, you told me,’ agreed Ginny.

She placed her elbows on the table, rested her chin on her hands and sat in silence. She watched him carefully; she couldn’t push him because he’d resist.

The school separation was proving difficult for her; difficult for him, too, she suspected as she watched him fidget nervously. Last year, she’d missed him and worried about him, but last year there had been so many other things to worry about; like rescuing students from the Carrows. This year was different. Her official Harpies 1998 calendar had the dates of every Hogsmeade visit, every holiday, and every Quidditch game, ringed. Nothing else mattered.

Harry looked up. She lifted her chin from her hands and let them fall to the table, palms uppermost. Harry grasped them eagerly. This simple contact brought a much needed smile to their faces. They continued to look at each other in silence, holding hands across the table. They didn’t need to speak; they were both remembering, thinking. Ginny knew that patience and silence were necessary for Harry. Give him enough silence and, eventually, he’d fill it; he’d tell her what was on his mind.

It was five months since the battle. Harry still had some dark days, she knew. He’d stayed at the Burrow for much of the summer and she’d heard his cries and seen his tangled sheets. She had wanted to go in, to comfort him. She had done, once or twice, when her mother wasn’t around. Simply holding his sweaty, shaking body and whispering words of comfort was enough. He had seen so many deaths, and he re-lived them all.

She remembered those precious times they’d snatched together. Not as many as there might have been, as Harry had gone straight into Auror training and she’d been working for George, keeping an eye on her grieving brother over the summer. Every moment she’d had with Harry was treasured. The holiday with the Grangers had been the best – two weeks away from her Mum. They’d enjoyed some very passionate snogs on that holiday and things had got very hot more than once. Ginny smiled encouragingly; Say the words, she willed. Harry remained silent.

In all those months since the battle, Harry had never said ‘love’ to her. He’d used ‘need,’ or ‘like,’ or ‘fancy,’ instead. Ginny hadn’t minded; he had been honest and passionate, and on the day they’d got back together, almost a week after the battle, he’d told her that he wanted to be with her forever. That had been an emotional day, and Harry hadn’t even realised what he’d said; but he had meant it, she knew that.

Harry still needed time to come to terms with his feelings, with his future. Her Dad hadn’t helped. “Don’t rush into things,” he’d told Harry. To her annoyance, Harry had listened. He was ever the patient Seeker, watching, waiting for the moment to snatch the prize. She was the active Chaser, looking for action. Perhaps that was why they made a great team.

Their hot chocolates arrived. They drank, and Harry finally began a conversation—but not the one Ginny had hoped for. He chatted. They talked about Head Girl Hermione, about Trainee Aurors Ron and Nev (who Harry still insisted on calling Neville), and the other two Trainee Aurors, Susan and Terry. They talked about the Auror Training Programme, about Quidditch, about her new team. Ask me about the letter again, give me an opening, she willed. He didn’t.

When they finished their drinks, Harry paid, took her hand, and led her out through the streets of Hogsmeade towards the Hog’s Head. Several students stared at them. Some, Ginny knew, hadn’t believed the stories that Ginny Weasley was Harry Potter’s girlfriend. There were no photographs of them together, and this was the first time that they’d walked, hand in hand, through a magical location.

Many witches and wizards called out ‘Hello, Mr Potter,’ and Harry returned their greetings, using their names if he knew them. But he didn’t stop to talk, though it was obvious that many people wanted him to. He only stopped when they met Justin Finch-Fletchley, who was arm in arm with a pretty, dark skinned girl.

‘Hello, Harry, hello, Ginny. We’re meeting at noon, aren’t we?’ he asked. ‘Raveena, these are my friends Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley—this is Raveena Singh.’ The girl ignored Ginny, but couldn’t take her eyes off Harry. Ginny determinedly kept her expression neutral as Raveena stammered a ‘Hello,’ and stared at Harry’s forehead.

After confirming the time of the meeting with Justin, Harry and Ginny continued on their way to the Hog’s Head. A notice on the door to the pub read, “Closed for Private Party.” Harry ushered Ginny inside. The scruffy bar had been roughly cleaned and cleared; one large, circular, table with twenty-five chairs dominated the room. Aberforth Dumbledore looked up from his bar and nodded.

‘Harry, Ginny,’ he grumbled.

Harry walked over to two large boxes. He opened the first and brought out two dozen bottles of Madam Rosmerta’s oak-matured mead. Aberforth scowled.

‘You don’t have any mead to sell, Aberforth,’ Harry reminded him. ‘But we’ll drink your Butterbeer and Firewhisky. I’ve hired the whole place, remember, and I’ve organised the catering. The food’s arriving at one o’clock.’

‘You’re not going to make a habit of this, are you?’ Aberforth grumbled. ‘I’ve got my regulars to consider, you know.’

‘I’m sure that they’ll both be able to make alternative arrangements this afternoon,’ Harry grinned. Aberforth grunted and turned his back, his shoulders shaking slightly. Ginny was convinced that he was quietly laughing. Harry opened the second box; it was full of banners and balloons.

‘What’s going on,’ asked Ginny, ‘I thought that this was a DA meeting?’

‘It’s a DA thank you party,’ Harry told her, ‘from me, to all of the people who’ve stuck with me over the years. I’ve paid for everything. I’ve booked this place until six o’clock tonight. I thought that we should celebrate the three years since we formed … and remember our friends …’

Ginny was astonished, Harry was throwing a party. Typically, though, he hadn’t actually told anyone that it was a party. She looked him in the eyes.

‘We agreed, you promised me, Harry; no more secrets,’ she teased him.

‘This isn’t a secret; it’s a surprise,’ he explained, a twinkle in his eye.

‘You sneaky sod, Potter,’ Ginny laughed, wondering how long he’d been saving that excuse. ‘I’m going to need to watch you carefully, aren’t I?’

He smiled shyly. ‘I can’t object to that. After all, I like watching you.’

She put her hands on his chest and pushed him backwards into the nearest chair; then she sat astride him and pulled herself close, very close.

‘You say the nicest things,’ she whispered huskily, ‘and you wri…’

The door to the pub burst open and Ron and Hermione walked in, hand in hand.

‘Bloody hell, Ginny, gerroff him,’ said Ron by way of greeting. ‘That looks positively…’

‘Fun?’ Hermione suggested. Ron blushed, but Ginny didn’t laugh; another moment was gone. She was, however, relieved to hear Hermione crack a joke, no matter how feeble. Hermione definitely needed to see more of Ron and Harry. At school, she was constantly the serious and proper Head Girl. After four weeks, Ginny had seen only a few glimpses of her best friend behind the façade. She needed to get Hermione to loosen up before she turned into a female version of Percy.

‘We thought that you might need help with the decorations,’ her brother continued.

So, Ron had known about the party, but he hadn’t told her. Bloody Ron. He had spoiled another opportunity for her. He always interfered when she got cosy with Harry, too; a Bat-Bogey, that’s what he needed. She slid off Harry’s lap and turned to face her brother.


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