The Awakening Power


Story Summary:
Complete! Challenges fill Harry's busy sixth year: growing powers, Snape becomes defense teacher (and Harry's not in the mood for abuse), a new Potions teacher, a girl with a new crush on him, Quidditch, Voldemort, and a certain redheaded girl named Ginny who may help him through all of it. What are the goblins up to? Will Ron win Hermione back? And what exactly is Voldemort's diabolical plan to kill Harry and plunge magical society into anarchy? Lots of romance, drama, action and humor! Voted Phoenix Song's Best Novel-Length Story (along with Best Harry and Best Kiss).

Chapter 14

Chapter Summary:
Harry’s powers are growing very strong, and Dumbledore is worried about his control. Meanwhile, Snape has become the new Defense teacher, and Harry resolves not to take his abuse this year… Will Harry notice Ginny? Will Ron win Hermione back? Who has a new crush on Harry? Who is the new Potions teacher? And what exactly is Voldemort’s diabolical plan to kill Harry and plunge magical society into anarchy? Lots of humor, drama, action and romance as all these questions are answered and much more in Harry’s busy sixth year.
Author's Note:
All right. This chapter is rated F for extreme Fluff. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. :)

Chapter 14: A Visit to the Kitchens

* * *

As the end of October approached, Harry was feeling good about the way the year was going. His classroom studies were going well, the D.A. meetings had been growing more and more in popularity as word spread, and his studies in the secret library had been paying some dividends. Even the letters had started to die down, as people inevitably forgot about Rita Skeeter's article.

Quidditch practice had been going particularly well, Harry reflected, as he sat at a table in the common room doing homework with Ron and Hermione. Having Ron as Quidditch captain had shown Harry a side of him he'd never seen before; Ron was quite good at strategizing and leading. Harry supposed that it made sense, considering Ron's chess skills, but he had to give him credit for inspiring the players to practice hard while they were on the field.

Ginny in particular has been playing fantastically, he thought, feeling a bit proud of her. Since Ron was usually at practice early and stayed late, Harry and Ginny had taken to walking each other to and from practice. He really enjoyed their walks together. They didn't get much time to talk at the D.A. meetings, and since it was her OWL year, she had been studying very hard recently.

Most of Harry's problems these days revolved around trying to avoid Parvati, who had been attempting to find ways to be alone with him. She waited after every D.A. meeting, but true to his word, Ron never left him alone. The lack of attention didn't seem to discourage her; if anything, it only seemed to make her try harder. She had roped him into studying with her a couple of times, but he always made sure they studied safely among lots of people.

Sometimes he felt quite a bit of temptation and wondered if it might not be so bad spending a bit of time alone with Parvati... but then somehow he would imagine the next day and wonder what he would say to her. Inevitably, she would expect him to have feelings for her, and he just didn't. It seemed like it wouldn't be right to lead her on like that.

"Hermione, what do you think of this?" Ron asked proudly, interrupting Harry's thoughts.

He handed her his essay, and Hermione spent a few minutes reading it over, making only a couple of small corrections. "This is good, Ron!" she said. "Really, you did a wonderful job."

Harry could see Ron's ears heating up from the praise as he took the parchment back from her. Harry didn't want to make a big deal about it, since Ron seemed a bit sensitive about the subject, but Ron's grades this year had shown a dramatic improvement since last year. Clearly all the extra studying was paying off, but Harry wondered exactly what had possessed him.

As Harry went back to his own work, he realized he had forgotten to visit the library to get some information he needed. He looked at the clock on the wall. He had just enough time to go, but it was getting late.

"I need to run to the library," Harry said to Ron and Hermione.

Hermione looked at the clock on the wall and gave him a warning look about the amount of time to curfew.

"I know," Harry said. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

He got up from the table and headed out to the library; the corridors rather dim this time of night as he finally reached the front doors. He entered the library and noticed Ginny busily working at a table.

"Hi, Ginny. You're working late," he said, sitting down at her table.

Ginny looked up tiredly. "Been incredibly busy with OWL studies. I'm working on Defense tonight. I'm not sure what's got into Snape; he's been really cracking the whip, on top of everything else."

Harry frowned. "Knowing Snape, he probably wants his OWL scores to be higher than every previous instructor, to prove he deserves the job or something."

"Yeah, probably," Ginny said, nodding. "Say, speaking of Snape, how's it going between you and him? I, er, heard about those first two classes," she said, biting her lip.

Harry sighed. "Well, no more broken bones so far, although the spells we've been practicing lately haven't been as - violent."

Ginny snickered and then spoke in a low voice. "Well, I shouldn't say this, but I'm glad you finally paid some of his treatment back."

"Really?" Harry asked. He'd been getting almost continuous disapproving looks from Hermione. Although they hadn't been as directly confrontational as in the first two days, Snape went out of his way to challenge him, and Harry couldn't help but give back as much as he was taking.

"Definitely. He might be a teacher, but that doesn't mean he should abuse the students like he does," Ginny said, her jaw firmly set. "You may not know this, but I'm not his favorite student, either.

"It's a tradition with him to hate Weasleys. He particularly hated Fred and George, primarily because they could seem to goof off so much, yet somehow score good marks. Fred and George are a lot smarter than people gave them credit for, when they care enough to work hard. I think they tried hard with Snape because it seemed to irritate him so much. Whenever Snape would start getting too out of line, Fred and George would play some sort of prank on him, but Snape could never catch them in the act. Snape actually backed off a bit. I think Fred and George are probably the only students he ever feared," she said, giggling.

"Well, I should say that he didn't hate every Weasley. Supposedly he liked Percy," she said, rolling her eyes. "I suppose that's not too surprising, since Percy sucked up to the teachers so much. I don't think Ron gets it as much, either, probably because you occupy so much of his attention."

"What does he do to you?" Harry said, curious about someone else's experience with Snape abuse.

"Oh, the usual," Ginny said. She curled her lip in a perfect imitation of Snape, causing Harry to laugh loudly. Ginny grinned.

"One time he even intentionally knocked my potion to the floor, and looked at me while doing it," Ginny said, appearing to be still angry about it. "Fortunately I still had enough left in my cauldron."

"He did that to me, too," Harry said.

"I figure I'm paying a bit for Fred and George," said Ginny. "Since he could never get them, then he takes it out on me. But it's worth it. Snape deserved what he got from Fred and George. I could probably do with giving him a bit less attitude in class, too, to be honest, but I hate the man."

"Well, it probably doesn't help either that you're friends with me," said Harry.

"Um, yeah, maybe," Ginny said, looking a little guarded.

"You know, come to think of it, I don't remember seeing you at dinner. Did you eat at all?" Harry asked.

"No, I haven't. I'm starving, actually," Ginny said. "I was thinking of sneaking down to the kitchens, but it's getting awfully late."

"How do you sneak down there without... being seen?" Harry asked.

Ginny laughed. "I have my ways."

Harry looked at her appraisingly and said, "I'll bet you do." He paused, and decided to let her in on one of his secrets. "But I think I have a better way."

Ginny looked at him curiously. "What's that?"

"Wait here. I'll be back in a few minutes," Harry said.

He ran back to Gryffindor Tower. It was getting very late; if they were going to do it, they needed to hurry. He saw Ron and Hermione busily working at the table; he decided to sneak up to his room without telling them. He didn't want a lecture from Hermione about being out after curfew. Walking into his dormitory, he opened his trunk and pulled out his invisibility cloak and the Marauder's Map. Harry slipped the cloak over his head and headed down the stairs, feeling mischievous. He had to admit that a little rule breaking felt good.

He sneaked past Ron and Hermione, chortling a bit as he quietly opened up the portrait hole. The Fat Lady looked confused as he gently closed the picture.

Harry walked down to the library and eased open the door, still wearing the cloak. He crept up to Ginny, who had gone back to work on her essay. He was about to speak to her, but stopped, just looking at her. Harry had never had an opportunity to really look at her like this before.

She was the same as always, yet different somehow. She was certainly not the little girl who had squeaked when he came to the Burrow the first time. He moved around in front of her, looking closely. Her pretty red hair was tucked behind her ear as she concentrated on her work. He noticed she had a little sprinkling of freckles across her nose.

She abruptly looked up, causing Harry's stomach to flutter a bit. She gazed off into space, pursing her lips as she seemed to think about something. Harry was very close to her, and he looked into her chocolate brown eyes. He thought her eyes were his favorite feature. They always seemed so bright and lively, like she was hiding a secret and wanted you to guess it.

Harry smiled, feeling good just being with her. Feeling a bit mischievous, he silently moved next to her. He reached over through the cloak and tickled her ear. Her head twitched, and she swatted at the air like she was trying to brush away a fly, barely missing Harry's hand. Harry put his hand over his mouth, desperately trying to keep from laughing.

She went back to her work, and Harry sneaked up closer again. He reached over and tickled her nose, pulling his hand back quickly lest she try and swat him again. This time, she just wrinkled her nose and reached up and rubbed it.

One more time, he thought, still trying to suppress his laughter. He crept up behind her, and blew a cool breath on her neck through the cloak. She suddenly shivered and rubbed her arms as if she was trying to warm up. She frowned at Madam Pince, apparently wondering why the library was kept so cold.

He had a sudden urge to touch her hair, but thought that might be pushing his luck. He spent another minute quietly watching her as she worked, and then decided they better get moving.

"Psssst!" Harry said, making a low hissing sound.

Ginny looked up again and around. "Harry?" she asked quietly.

"Ginny, I'm here..." Harry said, grinning.

"Where?" she said, trying to look casual as she looked around, a small smile on her face.

Harry picked up a quill through the cloak and waved it in front of her. Ginny eyes grew wide as she seemed to see a quill levitating before her.

"Harry, how are you doing that? Where are you?" Ginny said, peeking under the table.

He walked up next to her and whispered in her ear. "Maybe the library is haunted," he said, laughing quietly. She quickly reached toward her ear and caught him this time. She stopped, feeling him next to her through the cloak. Suddenly her face took on a look of shock.

"No! You have an invisibility cloak?" she asked incredulously.

Harry laughed quietly. "That's not all... You'll see," he said.

"Well, Mr. Potter, I have to say that this explains a lot about how you're able to cause so much trouble," she said, looking through him with a playful look. She was running her hand over him, figuring out where he was, causing Harry to blush a bit.

"Erm, go ahead and start putting your books away like you're going to leave," he said. "Meet me outside the doors."

"All right." Ginny started putting her essay and books into her bag. She got up, yawned as if she was heading to bed, and walked toward the front doors. Madam Pince appeared to barely notice her leave.

Harry followed her through the doors, stopping next to her when Ginny stood outside the doors.

"Ready?" Harry whispered, looking around to see if no one was watching.

"Yes!" Ginny said, sounding excited.

Harry lifted an edge of the cloak. "Here I am!" Harry said, grinning. Ginny grinned back as he slipped the cloak over her head.

Ginny looked around. "We're invisible now? This is bloody brilliant," she said.

"It gets better," Harry said, feeling excited about sharing a secret with her. "Come on, let me show you. Let's get away from the library a bit."

They quietly moved down the corridor, Ginny following closely behind Harry. They came to a quiet part of corridor, and Harry pulled out the Marauder's Map.

"What's that?" asked Ginny curiously.

"Watch," Harry said. He pulled out his wand, tapped the map, and said, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

The map suddenly came to life, showing the layout of Hogwarts.

"Great Merlin! I remember this; your father had it when we were looking at Professor Lupin's memory!" said Ginny.

"Yes, my father, Sirius, Remus and Pettigrew created the map. It's kind of funny, actually; Fred and George stole it from Filch's office, and then they gave it to me. They didn't even know it had belonged to my father," Harry said.

"Let me see!" Ginny said, taking the map from Harry. She looked wide-eyed at the map, watching various people moving about the castle. "Wow... there's no way we can get caught between the map and the cloak."

"Harry! Holding out on me, when you have things like this!" she said in mock anger, hands on hips.

Harry grinned, looking embarrassed. "Well, it's a bit hard to bring up in everyday conversation."

Ginny laughed. "I'm just teasing. Come on, let's go down to the kitchens, or my stomach growls will give us away."

Harry grinned and took the map back from her. As they walked, her hands lightly touched his shoulders, trying to maintain a constant distance. Harry found the touch very distracting. Every so often he would stop and check the map as they made their way down to the kitchens.

As they entered the main corridor lined with bright pictures of food, Harry took one last look at the map and noticed it was clear.

"We should be safe now," he said, taking off the cloak.

Harry went up to a picture of a gigantic fruit bowl and tickled a green pair. It turned into a green door handle, and Harry pushed open the door entering the kitchen, Ginny following close behind.

Suddenly a house-elf came streaking toward him and gave him a bone-crushing hug. "Harry Potter, sir!"

"Hello, Dobby," Harry said, smiling painfully as he patted Dobby on the back. He looked over at Ginny, who was grinning at him.

Dobby finally released him. "Dobby is so happy to see Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley!" he said, smiling happily between the two of them.

"Hi, Dobby," Ginny said.

"Do you know each other?" Harry asked.

"Yes, we've got to know each other quite well, haven't we, Dobby?" replied Ginny.

Dobby beamed. "Yes! Of course, any friend of Harry Potter is a special friend of mine!" he said to Harry. "I noticed that Ginny Weasley didn't eat during dinner. We will fix something right up. Wait here!"

Dobby ran to a group of house-elves, gesturing animatedly as he talked to them about something. They nodded excitedly and ran off as Dobby came back to Harry and Ginny.

"Come on!" Dobby said enthusiastically, grabbing both of their arms and pulling them along.

Leading them past dozens of bowing and curtsying house-elves, they entered a small room with a few tables. A team of house-elves was busily scrubbing down one of the small tables. They dried it off and then put down a fancy white linen tablecloth, with elaborately stitched designs along the edge. An elf put an elegant porcelain vase with a single red rose in the middle of the table, along with two long candles in elaborate silver holders, and another elf brought in two beautiful silver plates, complete with a full set of silver tableware.

Harry and Ginny exchanged a glance at each other as Dobby looked proudly at the setting. The house-elves had set a rather romantic table.

"Erm, Dobby, you didn't need to go to this much trouble..." Harry said.

"No trouble at all! Nothing is too good for Harry Potter and Harry Potter's special lady!" Dobby said.

Harry felt himself blushing to the roots of his hair, and, glancing at Ginny, he saw she was having about the same reaction.

Harry was at a total loss for words as Dobby nudged them over to the table. Looking helplessly at Ginny, Harry sat down with her at the table, both looking awkward.

A house-elf came up with a tray, loaded with two Butterbeers and two fine crystal goblets. He placed the glasses on the table in front of Harry and Ginny and then expertly poured the Butterbeer with a flourish.

Dobby looked approvingly at the two of them. "We will have your dinner ready for you soon," he said, as he backed out of the room.

Harry and Ginny looked again at each other, and then both started laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

Ginny gave him a teasing look. "You know, Harry, the service down here is always good, but it's never been quite this good. You really know how to show a girl a fine time," she said.

Harry felt himself blushing again, but laughed. "Well, I suppose we should toast to your OWLs?" he said, picking up his glass.

Ginny smiled as she picked up her own glass. "And perhaps a toast to your returning to your rightful place as Seeker on the Quidditch team."

They clinked glasses, the fine crystal making a pleasant sound, and took a long drink.

* * *

Harry leaned back in his chair, feeling full from his second dinner of the evening. He was glad that he had eaten only lightly in the Great Hall that night, because Dobby had brought an amazing variety of food for them. They had been chatting during their late night meal about school, Quidditch and various other subjects.

Dobby came in carrying a tray loaded with a covered silver pot, a plate of various thin, crispy biscuits, and a bowl of strawberries. He placed it on the table as Harry peered at it curiously.

"Dessert, Harry Potter, sir! It is one of Dobby's specialties... Chocolate Fondue," he said, lifting the lid off the pot. Harry saw a sort of chocolate sauce in the pot as a wonderful aroma wafted over the table.

"Wow, Dobby, this is too much," Harry said, looking at Ginny. "You don't have to do all this."

Dobby pretended not to hear him as he bowed to the two of them and left the room.

"It smells good," Harry said. "I've never tried this before. How do we eat it?"

Ginny smiled at Harry as she picked up a strawberry. She dipped it into the chocolate, and slowly put it into her mouth, still looking at Harry. For some reason, he felt himself growing very flustered watching her eat the dessert.

"Mmmmm," she said, closing her eyes. "Wow, that's tasty."

She opened her eyes and looked playfully at Harry with a very sly smile. A little chill went down his spine as she looked him in the eye while slowly picking up another strawberry. She dipped it into the chocolate, and reached toward Harry, holding it before his mouth.

Harry found his breathing growing labored as he opened his mouth. Ginny popped it in his mouth, giggling a bit. The chocolate mixing with the sweet strawberry was wonderful. He had to agree with her; it was amazingly good.

Ginny looked at him with a small smile. Harry, feeling a bit bold, picked up a strawberry, dipped it in the chocolate and held it out to her. She opened her mouth as well, and Harry carefully placed it in, accidentally getting a little chocolate on the side of her mouth. She licked it off, giving him another giggle.

They spent a few quiet minutes eating the dessert, playing a little game of feeding each other. Finally, when it was all gone, Harry looked over at Ginny, feeling satisfied and very warm from the Butterbeers, food and dessert.

She looked back at him and smiled. "You know, Harry, you should know that everyone is very impressed with your D.A. meetings," she said.

Harry tried to look modest, but felt very pleased by her praise. "Well, that's good to know. People seem to be doing well, but it's hard to know if they like the job I'm doing."

"I think it helps people a lot to practice defense like this; everyone is so afraid of You-Know-Who attacking," Ginny said.

Harry nodded. "I know. It helps me a lot, too. When I was alone over the summer at the Dursleys', the only thing that kept me sane was studying defense, so that I would be ready." His face grew hard for a split second and then relaxed again as he looked away. "I hate the thought of being controlled by him."

Ginny hesitated. "I'm not prying or anything, Harry, so don't feel like you need to answer if you don't want to, but... have you been feeling him? In your scar?"

Harry felt guarded, but whether it was the Butterbeers or the meal, he wasn't sure, but he actually felt like talking about it a little.

"No," he answered truthfully. "I haven't felt any pain in my scar since the Ministry battle. I guess that means he's laying low, but I'm not sure. For all I know, he may be able to hide himself better from me."

"What does he... feel like?" Ginny asked, very tentatively.

Harry looked at her carefully. He wasn't sure why, but he had a feeling that she had her own reasons for wanting to know.

"He feels..." he paused. "It's hard to find the right words. Angry. Resentful. Hateful. All those things, but other... odd... things, too. Like his emotions aren't quite human anymore." Harry shivered a bit.

Harry looked over at Ginny, her mind and thoughts seeming to be far away. He had a sudden thought, but wasn't sure he should ask.

"Um, Ginny?" he asked.

"Hm?" She said.

"Can I ask... I mean, I know it's probably hard, but... erm," he started awkwardly.

Ginny looked at him seriously. "You want to know what he was like in the diary?"

Harry nodded.

Ginny took a deep breath. "He was... different, I think, from what he is now. The diary was created when he was sixteen years old. All the... foundations... were there, but he was still... human.

"I know that it was stupid to fall for him, but he was so... well, nice at first. You know how it is in your first year. You're alone, and trying to meet friends..." she paused.

Harry nodded. "I remember. I'm so glad I met Ron that first day."

She nodded. "Yes. I mean, I had a few friends that I knew from Ottery St. Catchpole, but it was still so far away from home. Anyway, at first it was very innocent. He would ask about my classes, and about my friends, and I would tell him. I think he was very weak at that point."

"When did he start to... change?" Harry asked.

"You know, I think it was when I came back to the dormitory one night, and had just had a row with a friend over something stupid; I don't even remember what it was," Ginny said. "But I wrote this long rant in the diary, and he was unusually interested. Just kept asking how I felt about it... I think it was the negative emotions that fed him. And then he asked a very odd question..." Ginny paused, looking far away.

"Are you all right to talk about this?" Harry asked, concerned.

Ginny smiled at him. "Sorry. No, I'm all right. You should know all this. It might give you some insight into him.

"Anyway, he asked if I was going to take revenge on my friend. The way he talked about it was very creepy, like he wanted to know if I wanted to hurt her, you know? That was when I should have got rid of the diary, but he had been so kind before that. And then he was back to normal the next day.

"That was the beginning, though. Looking back on it now, I can see what he was doing, but at the time it was very subtle. He started asking much more leading questions, how I felt about things and other people."

Ginny blushed a little. "And I, er, mentioned you at one point, and how you had defeated You-Know-Who as an infant."

Harry felt a bit embarrassed, but tried to smile encouragingly at her. Given her crush at that time and what Tom had told him in the Chamber of Secrets, he suspected he knew some of what she may have written.

"He got very odd, but I think he had started to possess me to a small degree. He couldn't control me, but he could influence me. I told him everything I knew about the first war. I even looked up a lot of stuff in the library for him," she said, looking disgusted with herself.

"But here's the thing that was strangest of all..." Ginny said. "He asked a lot of questions about your family; who your parents were, who raised you, that sort of thing. Just endless questions, and he got very frustrated when I couldn't answer very many of them."

"He was always interested in people's families," she continued musingly. "When you published that article about what happened after the Triwizard Tournament, and you said he had been an orphan, suddenly a lot of things made sense. He would make little remarks; like if I complained about Mum, he would say something like, 'that's typical of mothers. They say they love you, but if they did, they wouldn't act like that.'

"Harry, I think that Tom at sixteen was still caught between being Tom and being Voldemort. I think he was letting me see some of the pain that had made him what he was. It's too simplistic to say that it's completely because of his upbringing that did it, but I think that's one of the keys to understanding him," Ginny said.

There was a long silence as they let the thoughts sink in.

Finally Harry said, "Thank you, Ginny, for... telling me all that. It must be hard for you."

Ginny smiled wanly. "To tell you the truth, it kind of feels good to talk about it. Erm, I've never told anyone any of this before," she said, looking away shyly. "But I guess if anyone understands fighting him, it's you."

Harry smiled. "Funny, I had the same thought about you last summer."

Ginny looked shocked and embarrassed. "Please, Harry, don't tease me like that. I never did anything like what you've done."

"Well, maybe not like what I've done, but you fought a different sort of battle. And you know what? You probably know more about him than anyone," Harry said.

"Well, I wish I didn't, to be honest. I tell myself I'm over it, but sometimes... well, you heard my nightmare over the summer," she said.

"Yeah. And you heard mine, too," Harry said. He paused for a long time, and then said in a barely audible voice, "Sometimes I wish I didn't have to do any of this, too."

Ginny looked at him incredulously. "Great Merlin, Harry, who would want to have all this hanging over their head? Do you really think you need to feel guilty over not wanting the responsibility?"

Harry looked guilty. "But I do have the responsibility, Ginny. I'm supposed to be 'the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord.' Shouldn't I be able to accept it? Shouldn't I want to end this for everyone?"

Ginny looked at him compassionately. "You know, Harry, you're allowed to have dreams and hopes of your own."

Harry flinched and looked at her. He hadn't thought about it that way before, but Ginny had struck to the heart of his frustration. "Sometimes I don't... feel... like I'm allowed to have those. I mean, I know I want to be an Auror... but... does the future really matter when..."

Ginny looked at him with a firm expression. She reached out and gripped his hand tightly. "Harry, you do have a future. When - when - this is all over, you'll have a life of your own. You need to know that... It's not enough for you to fulfill the prophecy for everyone else. You need to fulfill it for yourself... you need to be a bit selfish about all this. You need to have something to live for. You've hardly had a chance to live since you got out of the Dursleys' house."

Harry nodded, feeling the warmth of her hand on his. They sat in companionable silence for several minutes, until Harry had a sudden thought.

"What time is it?" Harry asked. They had been talking for hours.

Ginny looked shocked. "Oh, damn! We better get going. I'm glad you have the cloak and map, or we'd be in big trouble."

They got up from the table and left the small dining room. Harry looked around and spotted Dobby waiting for them.

"Hi, Dobby. Thanks for dinner, it was great," Harry said.

"Anything for Harry Potter! You and Ginny Weasley come down any time," he said excitedly.

"Maybe we'll take you up on that," Harry said, smiling while glancing at Ginny.

They made their way out of the kitchens into the corridor, and slipped the cloak over their heads. Harry felt very sleepy; bed was sounding very inviting as they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower.

They removed the cloak just before they got to the portrait hole. The Fat Lady gave them a disapproving look as they gave the password, but swung open dutifully.

"Um, Harry, I really had a lot of fun tonight. Thank you so much for taking me down to the kitchens," Ginny said, a bit shyly.

"I had a lot of fun, too," Harry said, suddenly feeling very awkward. The light in the common room was rather dim, and Harry couldn't help but notice that Ginny looked quite pretty with her hair and eyes gleaming in the firelight of the torches. They both looked at each other for several long seconds.

"Well, I guess I'll head up to bed," she said, slowly moving away. Harry had an urge to stop her, but felt very shy.

"Ginny?" Harry said tentatively.

"Yes, Harry?" Ginny said quietly, half turned away.

"Maybe we can - do this again sometime?" Harry asked. Ginny smiled at him, and Harry felt a warm feeling come over him.

"I would like that very much," she said, and walked up the stairs to the girls' dormitory.

Harry slowly walked up the stairs toward his own room, reflecting on the evening. He walked into the room, where he could hear quiet snores from the other beds. He pulled out his pajamas and began to get changed.

Ron poked his head out of his bed. "Harry?" he called quietly.

"Yeah, I'm here," Harry said.

Ron snickered. "Out for a late night adventure, eh? Who with?"

"Oh, shut it, Ron," he said, annoyed.

"You should have seen Hermione. She was fit to be tied. I told her you probably had the cloak, but she was worried you were going to get caught. Well, G'night."

"'Night," said Harry.

As Harry crawled into his bed, he realized that he had never looked up the information from the library that he had needed, but found he didn't mind at all.

Author notes: I know, I know. Feeding each other chocolate strawberries? It doesn’t get much sappier than that. You can’t say I didn’t deliver the fluff, though. :) If this was too much for you, the next couple chapters are nice, action-packed chapters, heh.

This chapter cheerfully dedicated to reviewer Numba1, who reviews every chapter (thank you!) and never fails to tell me how much he hates the H/G ship. Admit it… you’re warming to the idea. :D He should also check his FictionAlley owls once in a while.

Thanks especially my beta readers Allie Kiwi and DM. Please review!

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