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HP stories following Canon but PRE-OotP >> Chapter 2: Stupid Stan by Arithmetic13

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"Only four days," Harry finally responded, not meeting my eyes. He shifted in the four poster bed that was covered in pillows, moving shimmering golden colored blankets.

"Four days!" I think I would have bloody died if I wasn't able to eat for four days straight! One time when I was six, I went on a hunger strike at the Burrow because I didn't want to clean my room. I gave up before the next meal was served. Poor Harry.

"Can we get some food over here?" I asked, hoping someone would hear us in the golden fog of nothingness that surrounded our room. If I hadn't know the weird voice sent us here, I would've sworn we were at the Leaky Cauldron, a sort of hotel for magic folk. Two trays of food, filled with Harry's favorite treacle tart, with a assortments of breakfast sweets appeared, along with a couple of potions in weirdly shaped bottles that were labeled for Harry and a piece of parchment, written on with golden ink.

"Um, where exactly did this come from, and where are we?" Harry suddenly looked panicked eyes darting around, suddenly realizing he had no idea what was going on.

"I'll explain it later alright, for now just eat. I promise there is nothing wrong with it. The 'people' here are helping us." I silently hoped that I was corrected. Harry looked doubtful at first, then eventually gave a shrug that sent the message 'oh what the heck' and started eating with gusto, leaving me to take a look at the piece of parchment.

"Start out slowly Harry, or you'll get a horrid stomach ache." He slowed down a little bit, and I looked at the note and potions. The note said that Harry was to take the green potion all at once after his meal, and the purple one a gulp full every hour until it was gone. According to the note, Harry's wounds should be healed by this evening. 'Great, then we can head off to the burrow! How to get there, well that's another matter I'll deal with later.' I thought.

"Here Harry, drink this all up. Oh, and one mouthful of this." I handed him the green and purple potion. As Harry downed the potions his face turned a retched shade of green.

"Wow, that's nasty," I heard Harry whisper to himself after he swallowed the moldy smelling brew.

"Thank you Ginny, I wanted to tell you that it really meant a lot to me, it was really the first time anyone has ever helped me when dealing with the Dursleys." He spoke shyly, looking uncomfortable, the Dursleys were obviously something he didn't like to talk about. Then his attitude changed, and on a happier note added, "I wish I could have seen you at it, I bet it was a sight to see."

"No one, even your bloody relatives, are allowed to hurt my friends." Harry's demeanor lightened at the word friends. 'Does Harry not have a lot of friends of something? That's weird, because he's totally the kind of person easily liked. He probably doesn't have many people to talk to at the Dursleys though, and at school all he ever talks with is Ron and Hermione. Yes, he defiantly needs to branch out more.

"So... what exactly happened?" Harry asked, still shy.

"Well, I heard some noise downstairs and then I heard you in my head yelling my name."

"Wait, what? You heard me calling you?

"I'll explain in a minute, just let me explain the rest first." He nodded, so I continued, "So, I ran downstairs, saw you, and dealt with the Dursleys. After I was done with them, I ran toward you a shield popped up around us and a gold phoenix appeared out of nowhere and took us here. A weird female voice..."

"Shield? Phoenix? Voice?"

"Let me finish!"

"Okay."

"...the female voice declared herself as our bond guide and gave us some dreamless sleep potions." I it just me, or do I sound like while I was waiting I hit my head... really hard.

"So about my questions earlier..." he started sheepishly.

"I really can't tell you much. I don't know why I could hear you, or why a shield popped up, or much about our guide. All I know is that our bond guide sent us here to heal and that we formed a special bond. I imagine our guide will explain it to us later."

"Okay...?" He spoke, taking it all in, then exclaimed "Wow, that's bizarre," with his thinking face on. He didn't doubt me, which was nice. But then again, Harry's had a whole lot of crazy things happen to him, this couldn't of come as such a surprise.

"I'll say." We spent the rest of the day in our bed, asking each other questions about what had happened, neither of us knowing the answer, among other things. Except of course for the occasional trip to the mystical bathroom that appeared whenever on of us needed to use it. That evening, the voice spoke to us again in our room. Harry nearly fell of the bed and jinxed where the voice was coming from, before he realized it was the voice I had mentioned earlier. I laughed at him and he shot me a glare.

"You shall depart this sanctuary this evening, being in full health and out of danger. Harry, your things have been transported to the outskirts of your neighborhood. I suggest that you take the nightbus to your next destination."

Harry and I took turns changing into clean muggle clothes in the bathroom. Then, when we were ready to leave, once again the golden phoenix swooped down and with a mighty CRACK! we were standing at edge of Harry's neighborhood.

We gathered Harry's things from the top of the merry-go-round and sat down on a near by park bench, waiting for the sun to set. I shivered, even though it was summer, it was low in tempature at the current moment.

"Here." Harry bent down and popped open his school truck, reached inside, and pulled out two of his jackets, one with a lion with a red background, and he handed that one to me.

"Thanks." I put the jacket on, glad for it's source of warmth, it was all soft inside it to, it smelled like Harry. Don't you dare call me creepy, Harry just has a very distinct scent of broom polish. "We should probably head to the sidewalk now, huh. Seeing as the sun's disappeared on us."

"Yeah." With that, we walked up to the sidewalks edge, dragging his trunk along, having it bump into our heels. We were careful not to go over the cement however, for fear of soon being run over. I turned Harry's trunk into a makeshift bench for the two of us and there we waited.

Harry's POV:

While we awaited to dreaded nightbus, my ears caught a disturbance in front of us across the road.. Peering across the way, I swear I saw a pair eyes, animal eyes to be exact, starring at us through some bushes. The thing growled at me, and I took out my wand, ready if it should attack. But my worries were interrupted.

With a screech that would awaken a person in a comatose, a big, bulky, multi-layer bus pulled up before us, fast enough that I have no doubt we would have died, save we were on the sidewalk.

"Welcome to the Nightbus. I will be your host today and... hey! You're Harry Potter!" He sounded as if he just figured out the question that would win him the lottery.

"Yes, and you're Stan Shunpike, correct?" Stan stood a little taller than I, slouched, and he was covered in strangely coloured stains. He gave off the look and scent of a street rat. "My dorm-mates have talked about you. They said..."

"So whose the pretty lady friend? That you're traveling with alone, in the dark, most likely without parent consent I might add," Stan changed subject, averting his big, repulsive eyes to Ginny, while smirking.

"Ginny Weasley," she replied sounding less than happy at giving him her name.

"And a random, nameless passenger to the likes of you," I continued, sounding a bit defensive and protective as I then stepped in front of her. I didn't like the way this guy was acting towards Ginny, he's totally shifty.

"She your girlfriend?" I definitely didn't like the guy that was much older than Ginny (or really any guy) asking that question with that unnerving tone. Was he seriously hitting on Ginny? Unbelievable. No, I'm not going to let that Stan bloke come anywhere near her. So I said the only thing that would get him to back off.

"Yes."

"Humph. Are you quite sure?"

"D*** sure! Look are you going to let us on or what?" I suprised myself there, I never swear, except for now of course.

"Fine. Address?"

"The Burrow," Ginny responded.

"Alright, that'll be..."

We sat down at the back of the bus, my attempt at getting as far away from that Stan as possible. The bus looked like some messed up hotel. With random beds rolling around (some occupied), and chairs set at odd angles, most of them had fallen over. To top is off there was a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I am not sitting underneath that!

"Why'd you do that?" Ginny questioned as we took out seats by the aisle at the back of the bus. I was expecting this question, but I was caught off guard at the fact that she didn't sound annoyed.

"I didn't like how he was looking at you," I spoke without thinking. I realized that I probably sounded territorial, but I couldn't take the words back now. She giggled slightly then said,

"Aw, Harry. I can't believe you pretended to be my boyfriend just to please Ron and protect his little baby sister," she mocked.

"First of all, you're not a baby. I hate it when people call you a baby. I mean you're only a year younger than me! And I didn't do it because of Ron, or the fact that you're related. I did it because you're Ginny and a friend."

"Oh," was all she responded to that, but she appeared quiet pleased. We spent the rest of the bus ride trying not to fall over or get smashed. At one point, the bus reached a new level of rockiness that caused Ginny to trip towards me.

"Offph!" I exhaled forcefully as she slammed me down on top of me in the aisle.

"Now don't get too comfortable there, because you're stops next." It was Stan, and he was raising and dropping his eyebrows at us. How I wish I could reach up and rip off his annoying eyebrows. Then Stan took a picture with some camera that he pulled out of nowhere and ran off. He was probably going to run off to the Daily Prophet, dang it! I felt my face heat up with rage and embarrassment.

"I am going to murder Stan!", I growled as I glared at his hurriedly retreating figure.

"You better let me help Harry!" Ginny responded in agreement getting up and helping me as well.

But fate had other ideas, because the bus to jerked a stop, causing Ginny to once again collapse on me.

"I didn't mean to, sorry!" Ginny cried out, even more embarrassed second time around. Then her embarrassment quickly turned to anger, an even more alarming shade of red as she growled. "He did that on purpose, I just know it!"

"Pretty little lady's got it right. I'm sorry, my fiery flower, but I need the extra galleons, and since you have a boyfriend... Well I could only use you to that kind of advantage." Ginny jumped up, looking more like a forest fire than a flower. But Stan was too quick for her and ran pell-mell away from her, until he was out of sight.

I felt my mouth drop open, I then got up carefully and tried to calm her down. It's like trying to get away with tickling a dragon, messing with this witch.

Stan better watch himself, next time I see him he's going down! How dare he say that to my Ginny! Besides, if I don't get him, Ginny surely will.

I cautiously placed my hand on her shoulder, the effect was immediate. Ginny's whole body relaxed, and her anger faded away. Inside of me I could feel a part of me whooping for joy that I could affect her this way. Then Ginny let out a sigh. "I'm really sorry Harry, he got away. And if I just hadn't fell on you in the first place this never would have happened... "

"It's find Gin, it's not your fault." I looked into her chocolate brown eyes intently, then added,

"Come on, this is our stop." With that we stood and hauled ourselves off the dreaded magic mobile of doom, and headed towards the distant welcoming shadow that was the Burrow.

"Have fun you kids, and don't do anything I wouldn't on your night out." It was that barmy git's voice! We both spun around, but couldn't spot where the noise was coming from, danget!

"Pfft, that's not saying much is it?" Ginny murmured to herself after giving up trying to locate Stan. I blushed in spite of myself, trying hard not to think about what Stan's obvious meaning was... I'm so glad it's dark out.

"So, which way is the easiest to get to the burrow?"

"Just follow me, I know this place like it's written on the back of my hand," Ginny boasted.

"That's not saying much is it, seeing how we're in the dark." Ginny smacked me upside the head lightly, and told me

"Very funny Potter."

"I try." I spoke while shrugging.

"I bet you do, using that large head we all know you possess, " Ginny retorted in a playful tone.

"You hurt my ego Ginevra. I expected better from you," I pouted, though I doubt she could see it in the lighting.

"Better get used to it."

"I'm taking that to mean you intend on hanging around with me more often?" Man, I hoped so. I crossed my fingers and awaited her answer, but I received a sudden flicker of self doubt in her composure. Well, as much as I could see in the dark. 'Does she regret acting like a friend to me?' I wondered.

Ginny's POV:

After he said that I realized that I was probably imposing unwantedly on him. He didn't ask me to appear in his room. I was just another problem thrust upon him that he didn't ask for. Harry is too polite to tell me that he didn't want anything to do with me. This was his indirect way of asking if I intended on following him around now. I should've known. Stupid, hopeful me.

"Oh...sorry. I guess I just... I thought that... You obviously aren't interested in Ron's little sister hanging around you all the time. Ron wouldn't let me even if..." My eyes downcast, I felt like an unwanted pest.

Harry's POV:

'Spectacular job Harry! You totally just screwed this all up!' I thought to myself. I had to go and ask the one question that makes Ginevra Molly Weasley think that I don't want her around, when it's so clear to me that I do!

"What? No, no, no. Your wrong Gin. I... I mean is I want to spend time with you, you're a great person and I'd love to be friends with you. Besides, I don't think of you like that. Like Ron's little sister, I mean. Who cares what Ron has to say about it, you're a person too, and Ron is just going to have to deal with it."

"You're not just saying that?" Ginny questioned quietly.

"No," I bluntly stated. She looked up at me and smiled and my heart did a little skip, weird.

"Thanks Harry." What in the name of Merlin was she thanking me for?

"Huh?" Wow, I must've sounded like a gorilla on that one, what is wrong with my voice? It keeps changing pitch. Thankfully Ginny didn't laugh at me.

"For letting me be your friend... All of my old friends stopped talking to me after the chamber. They're all scared of me. I don't blame them." Ginny sniffed, I hope she doesn't cry. I'm helpless when girls cry, I never have any idea what to do.

"But it wasn't your fault Ginny. Tom possessed you, it could have been anybody."

"No, it was my fault. Besides, it didn't happen to anyone. It happened to me. If I hadn't been so stupid! If I hadn't written in that diary in the first place Harry, none of that would have happened! I'm so weak, and just because I wanted to talk to someone." Ginny was on the very brink of tears now.

"Ginny, if Ron and I had been better friends to you in the first place, none of this would have happened. Fred and George looked after us during our first year. Who looked after you? Nobody. We all should've been there for you, but we weren't, and Tom was.

Ginny, I know you feel weak, but you're one of the most strong people, and most stubborn person I know. You kept Tom at bay most of the year! You fought a mental battle with the heir to Slytherin until the very end. Do you know how many people would've just given up, let him make them his puppet without giving him a good fight? I couldn't of done what you did.

Tom lost in the end of it all Gin, and your friends must be total dimwits to not see that all of this means is that you are an amazing person."

Ginny hugged me tightly, causing a wave of warmth to run over my heart and spine.

"Thanks Harry." She sniffed loudly again, but I didn't worry about her crying this time. "Thanks for saving me in the chamber. Thanks for telling me exactly what I needed to hear. You're such a good person, and a good friend." Then she released me.

"I'm just glad I could help." Come on, we better get going." We walked the rest of the trek to the burrow side by side, hands brushing occasionally, shooting a tingling sensation up my arm.

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