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Old October 26th, 2012, 4:01 pm
jmunay10  Male.gif jmunay10 is offline
First Year
Join Date: 01st September 2012
Posts: 59
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion

Chapter 16 ~ A Near Kiss

Hermione and Ginny descended the staircase at eight o'clock, after spending an hour getting ready. Hermione was wearing a lovely set of soft pink robes, and Ginny, a beautiful pale green. Each had their hair elegantly bound up, caught with tiny wild flowers, picked from the Weasley's garden, that left a lingering trace of perfume in the air. Harry, who like Ron was wearing his dress robes, had stepped forwards, eyes wide.

"Wow," he breathed softly, "you look - you look"

"Thanks, Harry," Ginny smiled, not making him finish. Taking her hand, Harry led her outside to join Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, leaving Ron to stammer at Hermione;


"Er, thanks, Ron," said Hermione, trying not to laugh. She led the gibbering wreck that was Ron outside to join the others.

"Oh girls," sighed Mrs. Weasley, "you look so lovely, and so grown up! Quick, Arthur, go and fetch the camera, we should capture this moment!"

"Right-o, Molly!" said Mr. Weasley, dashing back inside to get the camera. After several poses, each set up by Mrs. Weasley, they were finally ready to leave.

They arrived at the Leaky Cauldron promptly at half past eight. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley strode ahead, leaving the others to follow. There was a slightly awkward feeling in the air. For reasons he couldn't fathom, Harry felt quite nervous tonight. He couldn't take his eyes off Ginny, who was quite radiant. He noticed that Ron was having a much harder time of it with Hermione though. He kept stumbling and getting tongue-tied - very unusual for any Weasley. Ginny had noticed too, and, tugging on Harry's arm so he had to lean forwards, she whispered in his ear,

"Do you think tonight will be the night that Ron finally asks Hermione out?"

Forgetting his own nervousness, Harry replied in a whisper, "I think she'd better do it - it'll be a lot kinder." and giggling quietly to themselves, they followed Mr. and Mrs. Weasley into the Leaky Cauldron, with Hermione, who was now practically carrying Ron, bringing up the rear.

"Ah! Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley, Miss. Weasley, Miss Granger and Mr. Potter!" Tom the barman reeled off their names in one breath. Grabbing Harry's hand, he pumped it up and down for five minutes, "I do hope you enjoy your evening tonight - don't you look lovely ladies!" he exclaimed, still shaking Harry's hand, "and of course, you are my guests - anything you want, anything at all, just name it!" Waving away Mr. Weasley's protests, he finally released Harry's hand and led them to their table.

They enjoyed a wonderful meal, with much talk and laughter. Even Ron managed to loosen up and go back to his old self and they finished the evening with a delicious, enormous chocolate éclair a-piece. Stuffed, they managed to fit in a cup of coffee, before thanking Tom (trying fruitlessly to pay, but Tom wouldn’t hear of it) and prepared to go home. This took a further hour, as other diners kept getting up to say hello to Harry and get his autograph. They finally managed to get outside.

“Now, Harry dear – are you quite sure you’re up to Apparating back? Because we could go back in there and use Tom’s fireplace,” asked Mrs. Weasley, anxiously.

“No, I think I’m fine to go back with Mr. Weasley, thanks,” replied Harry, who was not allowed to Apparate alone until his next check-up with Healer Smethington. Grasping Mr. Weasley’s arm, they disappeared. Ginny did the same with Mrs. Weasley, leaving Ron and Hermione alone, outside the Leaky Cauldron. The only light was coming from the flickering street lamps a few feet away. Ron and Hermione stared at each other wordlessly, smiling shyly. They instinctively leaned forwards, their faces getting closer and closer when-

“Hullo! Wha’re yer doin’ here?” Hagrid came lumbering down Diagon Alley towards them, a huge smile on his face.

“Hagrid!” said Ron, in an unnaturally high voice, taking a giant step away from Hermione. “Hullo! How are you? We were just going to Apparate home – we just had dinner here with Mum, Dad, Harry and Ginny! We’d better get going or they’ll wonder where we got to!” and with that, Ron disappeared with a pop!

“All righ’ bye-“Hagrid said, but only Hermione was left, looking quite upset.

“I’d better go too. Night, Hagrid,” she said sadly, then she too was gone.

“All righ’ well g’night Hermione-” said Hagrid, to thin air.

“Humph! Summat I said?” he asked himself, and shaking his head, he entered the Leaky Cauldron.
Harry and Ginny were settled on the sofa, enjoying the crackling warmth of the fireplace when Ron appeared in the middle of the living room.

"Hi," he said glumly, plonking down beside them with a sigh.

"What's up with you - where's Hermione?" asked Ginny with narrowed eyes. Before Ron could answer, there was a popping noise and Hermione appeared on the spot that had just been occupied by Ron.

"Oh, hello," she said awkwardly. Suddenly the air was thick with tension. Harry and Ginny swivelled their heads from Ron to Hermione and back to Ron, as though they were at a tennis match. Nobody spoke.

"Well...goodnight," Hermione said stiffly, and hurried out of the room.

When she was out of earshot, Ginny heaved a loud sigh. "What did you do?" she said in an accusatory tone.

"Nothing!" said Ron defensively, "why do you always assume I'm in the wrong?"

Harry and Ginny stared at him.

"Oh all right!" he said, extremely annoyed, "not that it's any of your business, but we were outside the Leaky Cauldron and you lot had gone, so we were alone, and - and - "

"You kissed her?" asked Ginny shrewdly.

"Well," Ron was turning a deep shade of puce now, "not exactly..." he looked at them, highly embarrassed.

"Oh God, Ron - what?" demanded Ginny.

"Well...Hagrid came strolling down the street and interrupted us! I mean, come on, who goes for a nice stroll at midnight? And then I - I sort of panicked and - and came home..." he said, somewhat lamely.

"Oh, Ron!" exclaimed Ginny, slapping her forehead. "You mean you just left her there, in the middle of Diagon Alley? Alone?"

"Hagrid was there!" he said furiously.

"You are a complete pillock Ronald Weasley! I'm going to go and check on her. You," she said, turning to Harry, who had sat silently throughout this exchange, just waiting to be dragged into it, "talk to this idiot, please!" and with a swift kiss to Harry's forehead, Ginny disappeared upstairs.

They sat in silence for several minutes. When he felt he could not let the silence spiral on any longer, Harry cleared his throat;

" are you going to do?"

"I dunno - what can I do? Every time me and Hermione get, well - you know - something goes wrong. Maybe it's just not meant to be," he finished, glumly.

Wishing he were anywhere but here having this conversation, Harry said; "Well, have you actually tried talking to her - rather than waiting for times when you know." Harry dearly hoped that they were both talking about the same thing here.

Ron shook his head, staring at his hands twisting in his lap.

Feeling rather hot under the collar, Harry valiantly made one last attempt to cheer up his friend; "Look! She obviously likes you, and you like her, so tomorrow, when you get up, me and Ginny'll clear off and leave you two to talk - and I bet you anything that by the time we come back, you'll be going out - okay?"

Ron looked at him hopefully. "D'you reckon?"

"Definitely." said Harry firmly, leaping up before the conversation went further than he could bear. "Er, I'm off to bed then - see you tomorrow!" and scurried out the room, leaving Ron to his confused thoughts.
Early next morning, Harry was awoken by the buzzing of the small alarm clock he had taken from the Dursley's. He had been intending to give it Mr. Weasley, who was fascinated by all things Muggle, but thought it would be a good idea to use it this morning, and ensure that he and Ginny were safely out of the way when Ron and Hermione had their talk.

Climbing out of bed, Harry slipped quietly out of the room and went to Ginny's bedroom, intending to wake her up before Hermione found out what was going on. He was sure that if she knew Ron wanted to talk to her, she would make herself scarce, prolonging Ron's agony just a bit longer. Women, Harry thought to himself wryly, thankful that he and Ginny had had a smooth relationship so far. Well, as smooth as it could be for a couple who had broken up so the most evil sorcerer in the world wouldn't find out about it, then got back together a year later. Shaking his head, Harry tapped lightly on the door, and peeked in to find Hermione's bed was already made and Ginny sitting awake, brushing a humming Arnold, her pet Pygmy Puff.

"Morning," she said sleepily, "what are you doing up so early?"

"I was coming to wake you! Where's Hermione?" he asked, suspiciously.

"Ron came and woke her up an hour ago. They've gone for a walk," she added, giving Harry a significant look, "I just hope he doesn't put his big foot in it again. Come in."

Harry sat at the opposite end of the bed, leaning forwards for a moment to give Ginny a kiss. "Well, I told him to talk to her - he can't go too wrong if he does that, can he?"

Ginny said nothing, but gave him a dark look.

"Yeah, all right, I see what you mean," Harry relented, "so - shall we have breakfast together? I have to go to Hogwarts with Lupin today - I don't want to be late."

"Okay," said Ginny, yawning widely. She had declined to go with them, knowing full well that in a weeks time, she would be seeing more than enough of the Hogwarts library. Leaving Arnold curled up on the bed, they went downstairs to find Mrs. Weasley frying sausages and a very happy looking Hermione and a dazed looking Ron, already seated at the table.

"Morning dears," said Mrs. Weasley as she hummed quietly to herself, "What time are you leaving to visit Lupin?" Mrs. Weasley didn't know what they were actually planning to do today. Ron had thought it was best, and the others had been in complete agreement.

"When we've finished breakfast," chirped Hermione, who was positively glowing.

Exchanging amused looks, Harry and Ginny sat down at the table, as Mrs. Weasley dished out scrambled eggs with the sausages.

"So...have a nice walk this morning, you two?" asked Ginny innocently, buttering some toast.

"Yes, thanks," said Ron, with a warning tone that clearly said Ginny should keep her mouth shut while their mother was in the room. Ginny grinned evilly at him and Hermione blushed. Harry thought it best to keep quiet and eat. Mrs. Weasley, who seemed not to have noticed anything amiss was loading his plate with more food.

"Well have a good time. Ginny, I'm glad you're up so early, we can go to Diagon Alley and get your new school things - your book list came to day."

"Can we visit Fred and George while we're there?"

"Of course - maybe we can have a spot of lunch with them - we'll send Errol ahead with a note to let them know,"

Swallowing the last mouthful of her breakfast, Ginny jumped up from the table. Kissing Harry goodbye,she bid farewell to Hermine and Ron (not without a small smirk) and followed her mother out of the room to go and get ready for their shopping trip to Diagon Alley.
Half an hour later, Harry, Ron and Hermione had Apparated to the village of Hogsmeade. As they walked to Hogwarts, the silence that had been present in the Weasley's kitchen continued. Harry wanted to ask his friends what was going on, but couldn't quite get the nerve up to do so, and risk causing another argument. Hermione was hard pressed to keep her grinning under control, while Ron seemed in a state of permanent shock. Harry made a mental note to have a quiet word with Ron later.

As they approached the gates to the grounds of Hogwarts, Harry felt his heart lift. I'm home, he thought. Hogwarts truly was his favourite place in the world. He hadn't attended school properly for the past year and admittedly, at the end of his sixth year, Hogwarts had lost some of its appeal. He had witnessed some terrible things here. He remembered how awful he felt when he discovered that Draco Malfoy had been using the Room of Requirement to help Death Eaters enter the castle. The Room had acted as a shelter for him and other members of the DA when they had needed it most, and he still couldn't shake the feeling that it had let him down in some way. Of course the worst possible thing that had happened had been the murder of Albus Dumbledore. The thought of it still made Harry's blood run cold, but time had passed.

He could now remember what he loved about the castle too. It had been his first real home, where he had made the best friends he could ever have wished for and he missed the simple things, like eating meals in the Great Hall, his four poster bed in the dormitory, Quidditch, visiting Hagrid and Fang, and of course, all the adventures he, Hermione and Ron had had since their first year. Smiling to himself as he thought about one adventure in particular involving a troll and one of the first charms they had ever learned, Harry's reverie was broken by someone calling his name;

"Harry!" Lupin was waving to him from just outside the gates to the school. They reached him and after saying their hello's, Lupin led them through the gates and up the winding driveway to the Entrance Hall.

"Oh!" sighed Hermione, "I've missed this place!"

"Me too," said Harry and Ron together. Lupin smiled at them.

"You can always come back you know - sit those NEWTS you missed out on..."

"Oh, I'd love too!" sighed Hermione.

"Er, Hermione," said Ron, addressing her for the first time since they'd left the Burrow, "you took all your NEWTS by Correspondence Course and still passed everything with O's!"

"Yes, but I only got an E for Defence Against the Dark Arts! I wouldn't mind a chance to rectify that" she snapped, "and besides, a Correspondence Course is nothing like actually being here!" she looked around wistfully, lost in memories. Ron rolled his eyes, being careful that she didn't spot him.

They had reached the enormous front door. Knocking three times, it swung open. Mr. Filch was standing in the doorway, all traces of the slight cheerfulness he had displayed at Harry's party long gone. Mrs. Norris, his foul old cat was weaving around his ankles and gave a loud hiss when she saw Harry. They had never quite hit it off.

"Hullo, Mr. Filch," said Lupin, polite as ever.

"Yerse, yerse - what are you lot doing 'ere?" he scowled heavily, looking at Harry and Ron as though they were still schoolboys of eleven years of age, with a pocketful of Dungbombs and mud all over their shoes. The fact that Ron did have a Dungbomb in his pocket and Harry did have mud on his shoes was quite beside the point.

"We're here to use the library, Mr. Filch," said Lupin evenly, "it has all been arranged with Headmistress McGonagall."

Filch grunted and muttered something under his breath, grudgingly moving aside to let them pass.

"Thank you," said Lupin with a smile. Filch scuffled off with Mrs. Norris close at his heels.

"Now we're not students and can't get detention anymore, can I please curse that ugly old cat?" asked Ron hopefully.

Lupin chose to ignore this comment as they climbed the marble staircase. Harry wasn't paying much attention. He was too busy staring around at everything. It felt like he hadn't been here in a hundred years and he inhaled deeply, breathing in the smell of the castle like it was the breath of life.

How he had missed Hogwarts!

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