Harry & Hermione
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MattD12027 - Harry Potter and the Eternal Right
Chapter 8 - Helen of Hogwarts, Part I
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related plot events and characters are the property of JK Rowling.
Summary: PostHogwarts. Harry must deal with the horrors of war, and in doing so he will embrace his heritage and leave a lasting legacy on the world.
A/N: Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 8: Helen of Hogwarts, Part I
Harry pushed open the doors of the Great Hall and strode in to eat breakfast. Most of the students were already sitting and eating, as Harry had overslept on this Saturday morning. He was a little disappointed in himself, because he would have liked to get an earlier start to the day and have been at St. Mungo's already. Mentally shrugging, he sat down next to Ginny, across from Hermione and Ron. He gave the two across from him a small smile and turned to Ginny. He didn't notice the furtive glance that Hermione gave him as he turned his eyes away.
"Hey Gin," he said as filled his plate with some eggs and sausage. She gave him a warm smile and quick peck on the cheek.
"Good morning to you, Professor Potter," she replied, with a Dumbledore-esque twinkle in her eyes. Hermione looked up sharply and narrowed her eyes at Harry.
"Professor Potter, Harry?" she intoned. Harry winced a bit when he noticed the infamous glare, but there was little he could do.
"Well, you see…" he began, but Ginny cut him off with a glare of her own.
"Harry James Potter! You haven't told them yet?"
Harry looked like a deer caught in headlights. He was stuck between Ginny's temper and Hermione's whipcrack intellect.
"Err…" he stammered. "Well, I only found out on Thursday night," he tried to explain.
"But you found the time and the need to tell Ginny between then and now?" For some inexplicable reason, at least to Harry, Hermione looked genuinely hurt. Ron looked like he hadn't a clue about what was going on, but Hermione was upset, and so he was a little annoyed.
"What? Did I miss something? What did Harry do now?" he asked Hermione.
Harry blanched. "What is this? Gang up on Harry time? He told me about it on Thursday night. Yesterday was a busy day, ok? Ginny sought me out—so I told her. I didn't see either of you yesterday. If I had I would have told you."
Hermione mumbled something under her breath, which was uncharacteristic of her. Harry didn't catch it. "What was that Hermione?" His voice was a little sharper than he intended.
"I said," she replied through gritted teeth, "that you haven't seen much of either of us in awhile now."
Harry just stared at her. He was trying to process the conversation that just took place, because it felt entirely irrational. Had he done something wrong? He couldn't think of anything, so he opened his mouth to ask her. Hermione, however, got up from the table, pulling Ron with her.
"Forget it, Harry. Enjoy your breakfast." Her and Ron gathered themselves and left, much to the bewilderment of Harry and the concern of Ginny.
"Um…what just happened?" Harry asked. There was a small amount of desperation in his voice. He was distractedly trying to work it out.
Ginny just shook her head. "I'm not sure, Harry, but I wouldn't worry about it for now. I'll talk to Hermione later and figure out what that was all about. I'm sorry, though…"
"What are you sorry for?"
"Well, my calling you 'Professor Potter' was what started the whole thing." Harry shook his head slowly at her as a sad smile graced his face.
"It's not your fault. They were obviously upset that I hadn't told them about it yet," he said, as he thought he understood what was going on. He would make sure he explained it to them later on.
"I don't know, Harry. It seemed like there was something more going on. I'll find out later."
Harry looked at her. "What do you mean—?"
"Ah, Mr. Potter. The Headmaster would like to see you in his office when you're done with your breakfast." Harry looked up at the familiar voice of the person who cut him off, and smiled into the stern face of Professor McGonagall.
Harry inclined his head. "Of course." She nodded in return and left the Great Hall. Ginny gave Harry a curious look. He returned it with a raised eyebrow and a bit of a smirk.
"Is there something you'd like to tell me, sweetheart?" she said in a sugary voice with a big, toothy smile. She patted his thigh, squeezing a little harder than was comfortable for him.
Harry grimaced and thought, Can't I ever do anything right? He smiled back in return, giving her some emerald puppy-dog eyes, and said innocently, "Whatever could you mean?"
Ginny, however, didn't seem to be in the mood for his antics, and narrowed her eyes into Harry's. "Why have you been meeting with the Headmaster so frequently lately?"
"We did just beat Vold—"
"Exactly, Harry. We. If it were about what we did last weekend, then surely he would have had all of us present. Now, are you going to tell me what's going on, or am I going to have to make you?"
Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Make me?" Ginny's hand slid up his thigh a bit, and she tightened her grip mercilessly. She cocked an eyebrow back at Harry.
He chuckled nervously and his face went a bit pink. "Ok, ok. I get the point. Just wait until the afternoon. I promise you'll understand then. Ok?" Her grip didn't loosen and her face remained unchanged.
Harry sighed. "Look, Ginny, it's nothing dire or stupid. Just trust me." He leaned over and kissed her on the lips, lingering for a few seconds to try to convince her that he was being sincere. Just as she decided to respond to the kiss, he broke it and stood up. "Well, off to Dumbledore," he said with a soft smirk. He turned and strode from the Hall, noticing the put out look on Ginny's face and the call of, "Prat!" at his back.
On the way to the Headmaster's office, his face went from a smile to a look of puzzlement, as he remembered the first part of the conversation with Hermione and Ron. He had to figure out what was going on…
He stopped in front of the Gargoyle, and just stood there. He couldn't remember what the password was. Try as he might, this week's particular candy just wouldn't come to him. He was about to give up, when the Gargoyle sprang aside and Dumbledore stepped out.
"Ah, Harry, I was just coming to see where you were."
He gave a wan smile and said, "Sorry, Albus. Couldn't remember the password."
"Not to worry, Harry. Not to worry." Instead of retreating into his office, however, Dumbledore started to walk in the opposite direction and motioned for Harry to follow him. The two men—one the icon of the Light for the past generations and the other for the present and future—walked in silence for a few moments. Just as Harry was going to ask what the purpose of this meeting was, Dumbledore spoke up.
"I assume that you still wish to bring Miss Davis to Hogwarts this weekend?" Harry nodded. "In that case, I have some news that I think should please you."
When Dumbledore didn't continue, Harry looked at him. He was staring straight ahead with a grin on his face. "Oh?" Harry prodded.
"I have spoken to the Ministry of Magic and St. Mungo's, and we have decided where she will be going. I refused to let them send her back to the Orphanage—don't worry, I didn't elaborate—and that left us with one option. She has no immediate family and her only extended family is a senile Muggle woman, in her eighties. That's quite old for non-magical folk."
"Albus," Harry interrupted, "where are you going with this?" He didn't like the way they had just decided where she was going. He somehow felt responsible for her.
The Headmaster's grin broadened, further confusing Harry. "Miss Davis has been made an official charge of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Harry stopped and sucked in his breath, looking at the back of Dumbledore, who stopped after a few steps and looked at him.
"Alright there, Harry?"
"What does that mean, exactly?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "The School is her guardian. The faculty and staff will watch over her. She can stay here year round, until she is of age of course."
"Wow…" Harry muttered. He was quickly contemplating the possible ramifications of this.
Dumbledore continued. "And as part of that staff come July, Harry, you will of course be her primary guardian here at the school. That is, assuming that you want that responsibility."
Harry only had to think about it for a second. "Of course I want it." Dumbledore smiled knowingly, and Harry said, "Where will she be staying?"
"There are far too many staff quarters for the amount of employees we actually have, so she will be given one of them. This includes two bedrooms, a living area, a kitchen and dining area, and bathroom. Now, there is something else I want to ask…"
Harry peered intently at Dumbledore as he trailed off, thinking he had an idea of what the man was implying. He gave a questioning look to his Headmaster.
"She is only six, Harry. While she may be intelligent, from what I've heard at least, she still needs guidance. I was wondering if you'd be willing to move out of your Gryffindor dormitory and into the suite with her as her primary guardian." Harry was right in his thinking, and nodded to Dumbledore.
"Now Harry, I want you to think about this for a moment. This isn't something to take lightly. This isn't the sort of responsibility that can be shirked," Dumbledore began, as he motioned for Harry to continue walking with him. "I would still expect you to perform as you have been in all of your classes and you should realize that some people may not readily understand what's going on."
"Sir—Albus—I really don't care what people think. You should realize that. They can assume what they want about it, but in the end all that matters is that this six-year-old doesn't have to go back to a place where she was sexually assaulted. She doesn't need daily reminders of something that will haunt her for the rest of her life."
"I thought you would say something like that, and I know your intentions are honorable. You are young, however, so just be careful and be mindful." The two stopped outside of McGonagall's office, and Dumbledore turned to face Harry. "You would certainly make James and Lily proud, Harry."
A shadow passed over Harry's face momentarily, but it was gone as quick as it had come. Dumbledore could only take that as Harry thinking about the things he'd done, so he placed a grandfatherly hand on the man's shoulder. "Harry, listen to me. You are changing—the world is changing—so don't dwell on the past. Look to the future and work on making it as best as you can."
Harry nodded and thanked the Headmaster. "I'm gonna floo to St. Mungo's now. I'll be back shortly…er, wait, where are these quarters? And what's the password?"
"Ah yes, that information definitely would help. The suite is located off the Gryffindor common room, across from Minerva's quarters. As for the password, you can decide that when you arrive there."
Harry gave a sincere look to his mentor and said, "Thank you, Albus. I appreciate it and you can only imagine how relieved she is going to be."
"No need to thank me, Harry. I should be thanking you. For a 17-year old, you are showing a remarkable sense of responsibility." Harry blushed a bit, still unused to any kind of praise, and tried to wave it off. Dumbledore wouldn't have any of it, however. "Don't downplay it, Harry. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. Now, get a move on before you make Miss Davis wait all day."
Harry thanked the Headmaster again and nodded, and he turned and walked into the office. He took some floo powder and went for the fireplace.
As Harry entered the Pediatrics Ward of St. Mungo's, he noticed two things immediately. The first was that Helen was not in the lobby, which was most unusual. Every single time he'd come to visit her, she'd always been reading in the chair by the corner. The lobby was empty at the moment. The second was that the soft sounds of someone crying faintly reached his ears. A tiny bit alarmed, he set off through the lobby and down the hallway. Helen's room was at the end of the first stretch, and he quickened his pace when the crying got louder as he got closer.
With his heart racing, he stopped outside of Helen's door, and confirmed his own fear. The crying was coming from her room. He hastily drew his wand and shoved open the door, his mind replaying over and over what he'd seen the last time he walked in on her when she was in distress. What he saw eased his fears immediately; however, he did not quite comprehend the situation.
Helen was lying on her bed curled into a tight ball. The walls and shelves of the room, which she had personalized during her more than four months there, were bare, and her wardrobe appeared to be empty as well. A trunk was closed at the foot of her bed—probably where all of her stuff was. Harry didn't understand why she was so upset. He thought she would have been exceedingly happy to go to Hogwarts, and as a matter of fact, she had been ecstatic when he mentioned her visiting it once. Now, she was going to stay there. Ok, what's going on here? Clearly there was a misunderstanding…
Harry tucked his wand away and made his way to her bed. She was so wrapped up in her emotions that she hadn't noticed his sudden entrance, and still was not aware of his presence. He sat down on the bed, and she seemed to notice the compression of the mattress.
Helen looked up, sniffling, and wiped her eyes. When she noticed it was Harry, she flung herself into his surprised arms, and sobbed at an even higher volume. Harry held the girl in his arms, trying to soothe her shuddering. Slowly she quieted down, but there was a definite wet spot on his shoulder where her tears had soaked through. He didn't care.
"Helen, what's the matter?"
Helen look up into his face, her wet cheeks glistening in the light of the room, and gave Harry a look that he would never forget. It was filled with such a sorrow and desperation, the likes of which Harry wasn't sure he'd ever seen before.
"What's wrong?" he asked again, quietly.
"They…they said I couldn't stay here anymore…they're sending me back to the Orphanage!" she said, and promptly buried her face into his shoulder, letting out more tears.
Harry was shocked. They didn't tell her where she was going? What the hell is wrong with these people? They had to know the circumstances around her arrival! How insensitive could they be? Harry forced down his anger, though, and concentrated on the young witch in his arms.
"Helen, calm down. Look at me, Helen." Her crying quieted, but she didn't look up. "Helen, please stop and look at me." He didn't want to force the issue, but he wanted this little problem to end quickly. She didn't need anymore trauma.
She raised her teary eyes again to his face. "Did they actually tell you where you were going?"
She thought for a moment, before shaking her head. She wiped her eyes with her wrist and said, "No, they just s-said I was leaving here…I don't have any other place to go." Her voice was throaty again at the end, and more tears were imminent.
Harry turned her around in his lap and sat her cross-legged so she was facing him. He laid his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. "Helen, you aren't going back to that place and you never will. You are going to come to Hogwarts to live."
It took her a moment to figure out what he was saying, but when she did, her eyes refocused on his like lightning. "What?" she asked a little breathlessly.
He smiled at her reaction. "Our Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who is a very powerful wizard, decided that it would be best for you to come to the school. There wasn't really any other choice, because he definitely wouldn't consider sending you back to the Orphanage."
"So…who's going to take care of me?" she asked, regaining more and more of her composure with each passing second.
Harry gave her what any observer would call a fatherly smile, and said, "The school itself is your official guardian, but the staff will be taking care of you."
"But I don't know any of them," she said, nervousness evident in her voice.
"But you know me."
"What do you mean, Harry?"
"You'll be staying with me and I will be the person who will mostly look out for you, Helen."
She acquired a confused look. "But why, Harry? Don't you have classes and stuff?"
"Yes, Helen, but did you think that I would just abandon you? You didn't deserve what happened to you—no one did—so the least I can do is continue to give you my support and help."
Helen bit her lip, trying to hold back fresh tears, but it was to no avail. She wrapped her small arms around Harry and leaned into his chest in tight embrace. He patted her back and hugged her tightly for a moment. When she looked back up, there was admiration in her face.
"I love you, Harry."
It was a simple enough statement, but it had a profound effect on him. He marveled that the girl still had the capacity to love and trust after what had happened to her, and he was especially shocked that those emotions were reserved for him, of all people. He considered her something between a surrogate daughter and a baby sister, and had no intention of ever leaving her life completely. It just wasn't in the nature of Harry Potter to forget like that, and most people found that hard to understand. He would always be there for her, and he hoped that she eventually came to comprehend that.
Smiling, he said, "I love you, too. Now, enough of this mushy stuff, Miss Davis! There's a new home waiting for you, and I'm sure you're anxious to see it."
She nodded energetically and bounced from his lap into a standing position. The change was almost instantaneous—she went from a sad six-year-old to a truly excited one in fewer than five seconds. He laughed and stood up, levitating her trunk as he did so.
"Got everything?" She nodded, and he could tell it was taking all of her self-restraint to keep from running from the room and barreling out of the ward. "Alright then, my lady. Shall we?" That self-restraint snapped, and she raced out ahead of him. Harry followed her with a silly smile on his face, which increased when he saw her standing at the doors to the ward, confused.
"Uh…Harry? How are we going to get to your school?"
"Have you ever heard of something called Apparition, Helen?"
She looked thoughtful for a moment, and then nodded. "I read about it, but I didn't really understand it."
"Alright, well all you have to do is hold onto me, and I'll take care of the rest. It's kind of like…instant transportation." Helen looked intrigued, or as intrigued as a six-year-old could, and followed Harry from the ward. They arrived at the Apparition point shortly thereafter, and he instructed her to take his hand and grab a handle on her trunk with the other.
"This might feel a bit weird. Ready?" She nodded, looking the tiniest bit nervous, to which the corners of lips lifted into a light smile. He concentrated for a moment, and with a soft pop, the pair Disapparated from St. Mungo's.
"Wow! That was awesome!" Helen and Harry had appeared just outside of the anti-Apparition wards for the castle. "When can I learn to do that?" she asked, out of breath.
Harry chuckled. "Sorry, Helen, but in the Wizarding World you have be to seventeen before you can learn to Apparate." She looked putout, but realized there wasn't much she could do about it. Then, with widening eyes, she noticed the castle for the first time.
"Is that your school?" Her voice was quiet with wonder and awe.
"Yep. Big, isn't it?" She nodded. "Alright, let's get moving." He relevitated the trunk, which had settled to the ground, and started toward Hogwarts Castle. Helen followed closely, but for some reason, Harry could tell her momentary silence was a pensive one. Sure enough, he was rewarded by a question from her.
"Mm?" he intoned.
"Why couldn't we just Apparate into the school?"
Harry hung his head for a moment with a rueful grin. What have I gotten myself into? "There are magical wards around the school that prevent people from Apparating into and Disapparating from the grounds. It's to protect the students from any unwanted visitors."
They walked in silence the rest of the way across the grounds. Helen was taking in all of the new surroundings, trying to appreciate the size of the structure before her. The tallest tower—the Astronomy tower—reached an impressive four hundred feet, or forty stories, above the grounds.
Without thinking, Harry waved a hand at the entrance doors, and they clanged open. Helen eyed this display of magic, but did not say anything. She was confused, because she had read that magic required the use of a wand.
"Alright, I'm going to bring you up the to room. Keep an eye out for where we are, so you can start to learn the layout of the castle as quickly as you can." She nodded and he set off, with her at his side. They passed a few students on the way who gave them rather curious looks, but they said nothing.
"Hogwarts' students are divided into four houses—Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each of the houses has a common room, which is connected to the dormitories. We'll be staying just off of the Gryffindor common room, which is my house."
"What's the difference between the houses?" she asked.
"Gryffindors are known for bravery, Ravenclaws are known for intelligence, Hufflepuffs are known for loyalty, and Slytherins are known for cunning."
There was a pause for a moment as they continued their trek through the corridors, but then Helen said, "I think you could have been in any of them."
Harry snorted and shook his head lightly, amused. "Most probably could, Helen, but we're sorted into each house based on which is the strongest one."
"Oh." They soon arrived at the portrait for the Gryffindor common room, and before Harry could give the password, the Lady spoke up.
"My, my, Mr. Potter. Who is this young lady?" She smiled kindly down at Helen, who was staring at the portrait with a mixture of surprise and curiosity.
"It's my pleasure to introduce you to Helen Davis. She will be staying at the castle."
"And may I ask why?"
"Some other time," Harry said, waving it off. "Codswallop." The potion swung open, and Harry took hold of Helen's hand. "Alright, just follow me. I'm sure there will be some questions, but we can answer them later, ok?"
She could do little more than nod and follow him as he lead her through the portrait hole, as her mind was still trying to process all of the new things she had seen. They arrived in the common room, and immediately most of the heads snapped in their direction. Harry Potter would have been enough to make most people look up, but the fact that he was leading a small girl caused them to be even more curious than usual. Harry ignored most of them, but noticed that Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were looking at him with the most peculiar looks. He shrugged slightly at them, and led Helen to one side of the common room, where they stopped at another portrait. This one was of a stately man, who looked similar to Dumbledore.
"Ah, Miss Davis and Mr. Potter. How nice it is to meet you both. Professor Dumbledore mentioned that you would be arriving sometime today. What would you like the password to be?"
Harry looked at Helen. "Well?"
"Me?" He nodded. "Um…I dunno, Harry!" He just kept looking at her, but out of the corners of his eyes he noticed that a few people were slowly coming closer. He wanted to avoid questions at the moment.
"Just pick something, Helen. We can always change it later."
The old man in the painting chuckled and swung aside, and Harry followed Helen and her trunk inside. Before it swung closed again, he noticed his two friends and Ginny get up and start toward him. He turned around and started at what he saw. Helen was staring gape-mouthed at it also.
The quarters were extravagant, to say the least. The living area, which they were now standing in, had a large fireplace, two comfortable couches and two plush chairs, several bookshelves that were almost overloaded stood along a wall, and a large, circular window across from them that opened upon a magnificent view of the Quidditch pitch and the lake beyond. Harry moved to the far left corner of the room, and saw that the kitchen and dining area was no less comfortable. He looked across at the far right corner and saw the bathroom included the same level of amenity.
"Wow…" Helen breathed. Harry nodded in appreciation, because he was thinking the same thing. The closer corners to the entrance also had doors, and Harry assumed that these were their bedrooms. He went to one and Helen followed him. The door opened on an impressive suite. There was a king-size four-poster bed, a few smaller bookcases, a sizable desk, and a quaint fireplace. He noticed that there was some floo powder as well. He turned to Helen to say that she could have this room, because it was surely larger than the other, but she had wondered off to check the other room.
"Helen," he called, "you can have this one. I'll take the other."
"It doesn't matter," he heard as she called back from the other room. "They're both the same." Wow, Harry thought, this place is great! Two master suites. He smiled and walked back into the living area, and noticed that Helen was grinning as well.
"Like it?" he asked.
"Of course! This place is amazing!" Her excitement was bubbling over, and he laughed. He was about to respond when there was knock at the portrait.
He hesitated for a second, and then called out, "Who is it?"
"It's us," he heard from someone that sounded like Ginny. He waved his hand, again unaware that his wand was still tucked away, and the portrait swung open. Helen was going to ask him about the wandless magic, but her attention was quickly averted to the three strangers who entered the room. They were all eyeing her curiously. She became nervous and edged closer to Harry, grabbing his hand for support. He looked down at her, and winked, signifying that it was all right. They were his friends.
"Hey, you guys, what's up?" Harry asked.
"What's going on, Harry?" Hermione was the first to ask. Her tone was still a little cool, presumably left over from what happened earlier in the Great Hall.
"Let me introduce Helen Davis to you. Helen, the tall redhead is Ron Weasley; the one who asked the question is Hermione Granger; the last one—the one who looks like she's going hurt me—is Ginny Weasley. They've been my friends…and a lot more…since we started at Hogwarts."
Helen nodded and smiled at his friends. "Nice to meet you all." She was usually shy around others, and was a bit uncomfortable at the moment. Noticing this, Harry levitated her trunk into the room to the right of an entering person, and knelt down. He didn't observe the stare that Hermione was giving him, being the only person in the room that noticed his latest bout of wandless magic.
Speaking so only she could hear, he said, "Why don't you go and set up your room? I'll be in there in a little bit to help. I need to explain some things to my friends. Ok?"
She nodded and flashed another small smile toward the three at the portrait and followed her trunk into her room. Once her door was closed, Ginny rounded on Harry, piercing him with her glare.
"Just what the hell is going on, Harry?" He could tell she was jumping to all of the wrong conclusions—after all, the girl was only 11 years younger than Harry—so he placed his hands on her shoulders.
Switching his glance between her reddening face and over her shoulder at Ron and Hermione, he said, "Look, I know I have some explaining to do. Don't jump to any conclusions, though, and I'm warning you know that if any of you ever disrespect her…" With the threat hanging in the air, he motioned the three of them to the couches, where they sat heavily and stared at Harry. Before Harry sat down, he went to a shelf and took a Pensieve down that he'd noticed upon his initial inspection of the room.
He placed it on the table between the couches and sat down next to Ginny. They were facing Ron and Hermione. He sighed, unsure if he really wanted to show them what he was about to, and afraid of what their reaction might be. They deserved an explanation, though.
"I suppose it's best to start at the beginning," he said as he took out his wand finally and placed a silencing charm on Helen's door. He ignored Hermione's questioning look; Helen didn't need to hear the memories. "You guys remember that we were at the Burrow for Christmas this year?" They nodded. "Well, one of the nights I was there I had a disturbing dream and my scar was burning. I decided that it was just too weird to leave alone, so I went to check it out." Noticing their really confused looks now, he thought it would just be better to show them.
As he pulled the memory from his temple, he stated, "Look, what you're going to see isn't pleasant. It's something that you'll likely never forget. Are you sure you want to see it?"
"I would just like an explanation, and if whatever this is will provide that, then by all means, start it," huffed Hermione. Ginny nodded, agreeing with her. Ron inclined his head, meaning that he also agreed with them. "Alright…" He reluctantly placed the memory into the Pensieve and swirled the silver liquid. He averted his eyes as the memory started to play, looking at anything but what was happening.
His eyes passed over the faces of his three friends, noticing as their curiosity turned into confusion and then disgust. Hermione and Ginny were openly crying by the time the memory ended, and Ron looked like he was going to be sick. When Helen started to sob into Harry's chest, causing him to tear up in the memory, Ginny buried her head in the present-day Harry's shoulder and sobbed into it. Hermione did the same to Ron, who did little to comfort her. He was still staring at the place the memory had faded from.
"Why didn't you tell anyone about this, Harry?" Ron's voice was very quiet.
Harry sighed again, holding onto Ginny as her sobs slowly quieted down. "I couldn't. I was trying to deal with it myself. I'll never be able to forget what I saw, but I've come to terms with it."
"How?" Hermione choked out.
"Albus and I talked for awhile about it, and he helped me understand it a little bit. I'd suggest that you do the same sometime…" he trailed off.
There was an uneasy silence for a few moments. Finally, Ginny looked up, wiping her eyes as she did so. "Alright, I understand how you know Helen now. Why is she here, though?"
Harry gave her a funny look. "She has no family, immediate or extended. They're all dead, except for one, who is crazy. She certainly couldn't go back to that Orphanage…" he trailed off again, as he saw the scrutinizing look Hermione was giving him. "Yes, Hermione?"
"Who is her guardian?" Ginny started and looked quickly at Harry, realizing what Hermione was implying with her question. Ron's gaze finally refocused and zeroed in on Harry.
"The school is her guardian, Hermione. The staff has taken the responsibility."
Hermione looked miffed. "Why would they do that, though? That's never been done before."
Harry let out a growl of frustration. "Why is it so hard for you to understand? After seeing that, I'd have thought it would be clear to you guys why she's staying here."
Hermione tried a different approach. "Who is going to be staying here with her? She can't be more than seven…surely someone will be watching her."
Might as well just tell them, he thought to himself. Steeling himself against the expected explosion, he said, "She's six, and I will be."
The words hung in the air for a moment, but the quiet was broken by Ginny slowly letting out her breath. He looked at her and saw a perplexed face, so he decided to elaborate. "Look, I know this is sudden, but believe me, I wouldn't be doing any of this if there wasn't a good reason for it."
Ron spoke up next. "Harry…I'm not questioning your intentions—all of us here know that you have the best of them all the time—but this seems like a giant leap. You're seventeen…and you're still in school…isn't this a rather large responsibility?"
Ron's thoughtfulness surprised Harry, but he didn't mention it. "It is, and I'm prepared to do my best." They didn't look convinced.
"What the hell do I have to do to prove to you that this isn't some joke!" he exclaimed in exasperation. When silence met him again, he decided that he had to show them the second memory. He pulled another silver string from his temple and placed it in the Pensieve, swirling the liquid again.
"This isn't going to be easy to watch, either, and I'm reluctant to show it you because I think it could change your opinion of me, but Helen's worth it." The three of them watched as the images played out. There faces turned into more and more horrifying grimaces each minute as they watched Harry annihilate the Death Eaters that had invaded the Pediatrics Ward at St. Mungo's. Harry wasn't watching, but he cringed from the sound of exploding flesh.
As the memory ended, Hermione stood up abruptly and rushed for the suite's bathroom. There was a loud retching noise, and a few moments later she exited, wiping her mouth. Ron and Ginny didn't look much better.
"Harry…" Ron began.
Harry cut him off. "I'm not going to justify my actions. If you want to know why I'm not, talk to Dumbledore. He can explain it better than I can."
Ginny took a trembling breath for a second, and then said "You don't have to justify yourself to me, Harry. They were killing kids. I would have tried to do the same thing. This is just going to take a little getting used to, alright?" Harry smiled at her in response.
"Harry, I'm sorry—"
He cut Hermione off with a wave of his hand. "Don't worry about it. I'll meet you guys for lunch, ok?" They all nodded, and got up to leave.
Ginny hugged him tightly and whispered in his ear, "She's a lucky girl. And so am I." Her warm breath set the skin on the side of his face and neck on fire, and the light kiss she gave him right after did nothing to alleviate his passion. However, she turned and left, following Ron and Hermione out of the room. He watched the portrait close after they had exited, silently imploring them to understand what he was doing.
Harry then went into his room and took some floo powder into his hands. Throwing it into the fire, he called out, "Dumbledore!" and stuck his head into the green flames.
Dumbledore was looking over some papers from the Board of Governors when his fireplace flared and Harry's head wavered into focus.
He looked over at the fire and smiled. "What can I do for you, Harry?"
"Two things, actually. How is Draco's condition?"
"I'm afraid that there is no improvement; on the contrary, he is steadily losing his grip."
"Is there nothing we can do?"
Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid not, Harry. We can only try to make him as comfortable as possible and hope that he is not in too much pain."
Harry didn't speak for a moment. He was considering what he'd just learned about Draco. Nothing could be done for the blond Slytherin, and he was slowly dying. He sighed.
"I was also wondering if you could make some sort of general announcement about Helen at lunch today? I really don't feel like explaining everything two hundred times today."
"Of course, Harry."
"Thank you, Albus. We'll be down to eat shortly."
"I trust the quarters suit you both?"
Harry grinned. "They certainly do!"
"All right Harry, I'll see you soon," Dumbledore chuckled. The flames flared back to their original color, and Harry's head disappeared.
Harry walked out of his room, dispelling the silencing charm on Helen's room as he went, and knocked. He heard a, "Come in!" and pushed open the door. Harry had to smile to himself when he saw her; Helen was curled up in the armchair in the corner of the room, reading a rather thick book. The posture was just so…Hermione. Yet, when she saw him, her face lit up like…Ginny. His head reeled at the paradox, so he decided to ignore it.
She looked at the cover of the book and shrugged up at him. "It's called Advanced Transfiguration: People as Objects. It was on the shelf and it looked interesting!"
She looked up and noticed that Harry was staring at her with wide eyes. She got a little self-conscious. "What?"
"Nothing, Helen…it's just that, Hermione is going to love you." He smirked at her and raised an eyebrow at the tongue she stuck out at him. "Watch it, little lady!"
She giggled and asked, "Why would your friend love me because I'm reading a book?"
Harry put a hand to his forehead and groaned in comic frustration. "You'll find out, believe me." He sat down on the arm of the chair. "You hungry?" She nodded, closing the book and tucking it between the cushion and the arm next to her. Harry stood up and started walking for the door.
"So am I Helen Potter now?"
Harry froze. What? Helen Potter? Uh… He slowly turned around to the face the little girl. She was standing by the chair, looking a little sheepish.
"What do you mean, Helen?"
She looked like she was unsure on how to respond. "Well…you said you were my guardian right?"
Harry walked back over to her and sat in the chair, setting Helen in his lap. "The school is your guardian, Helen. I'm responsible for you, but I'm not your official guardian." He was smoothing her soft brown hair against her head.
She pouted and her lip trembled. "Oh…"
"What's the matter?" He rested his chin on the top of her head as she snuggled into his chest.
"I didn't know my mum and dad. I don't even remember them," she started, as tears began to fall from her eyes. Bravely, she continued on. "The first thing I can remember is the Orphanage. They told me my parents died in a magical accident."
Harry listened to her, thinking about how similar their pasts seemed to be. Her parents were killed when she was an infant by a Dark Lord and she was misinformed about that; she was placed, without having a say in where she was going, in an Orphanage; finally, she had then been…well, Harry didn't want to think about that.
"The people at the Orphanage were nice and all, but I was really lonely there, Harry. St. Mungo's was really the same. The nurses were nice, but I was lonely." She struggled with her words again. She was already speaking well ahead of her six years, and it seemed that she was trying to sound even older. He knew she didn't realize it, though—she had been forced to grow up too fast.
Harry wrapped his arms around her small frame as she continued. "Sometimes I wish I could call you Daddy, or something, and I thought that… because you were taking care of me… I was a part of your family." She let out a deep, wracking sob and shuddered into his arms.
It took all of Harry's control to not sob along with her. That was the most wonderful thing that he'd ever heard. Deep down, though, there was also some anger simmering. How could those bastards hurt someone so innocent? This girl has been through too much.
He broke away from the embrace a little and turned her face up toward his. The tears were freely flowing down her cheeks, each one driving a stake a through Harry's heart. "Is that what you want, Helen? I'd have to adopt you." There was a small flicker of something Harry recognized in her eyes—love, longing, hope—and he melted into it.
"Y-you'd do that?" Harry nodded, and she buried her head into his robes again. There was a small noise from across the room and Harry looked up. Ginny was standing in the doorway, tears streaming down her own cheeks, gazing at Harry and Helen with a look similar to the one he'd just seen in Helen's eyes. She smiled at Harry, her look telling him all that he needed to know, and she softly exited the suite. Helen had no idea someone had been there.
Harry stood, securing Helen in his arms. He had to do something, or he might break down. She peered up from his robes at him with a wet, questioning look.
"You still hungry? Because I'm famished!" Wiping her tears with the back of her hand, she nodded and gave Harry a small smile. He wiped his thumb across her cheek, clearing away the rest of the wetness. "Alright then, let's get a spot of lunch."
The doors to the Great Hall clanked open and all conversation ceased as people watched Harry and the mysterious girl enter the hall. She was riding on his shoulders, laughing because she was so high off the ground. Her hair shimmered and her eyes sparkled as the smile lit up her face, and Harry was grinning below her. They both ignored the silence of the Hall and made there way to the Gryffindor table. As Harry sat down next Ginny, with Helen on his lap, conversation slowly started up again.
Everyone was wondering who exactly this girl was, and why she seemed so attached to Harry Potter. He was an only child, as far as everyone knew, so she couldn't be his little sister. His only cousin, from what they'd heard, was a fat Muggle about Harry's age. And surely the girl, who looked to be six or seven, was way too old to be his daughter. There were a lot of confused people sitting in the Great Hall at that moment.
Dumbledore sensed the tension in the air, and some glances at his staff confirmed that everyone was mightily befuddled. He knew they were all thinking the same thing: Who is that girl? He decided that now was as a good a time as ever, and stood from his seat. As he approached the small podium, the Great Hall hushed quickly. The Headmaster always had interesting things to say.
"How is the meal?" he asked of them. There were some murmurs in response, but they were all thinking that the question couldn't possibly be why he'd stood up to address them all.
"Undoubtedly, you all are wondering who Harry has with him today." Most nodded, stealing quick glances at Harry and the girl, whom were both listening to Dumbledore attentively. "I would like to introduce you to Helen Davis." He extended his arm in her direction. "Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is now an official charge of Hogwarts. Harry has graciously volunteered to look after her, so don't be surprised if you see her accompanying him to his classes and other activities.
"Don't question it, either. I expect each and every one of you to extend the same courtesy you would toward your peers. That brings me to another point. Remus will be taking a position at the Ministry next year, which leaves the Defense Against the Dark Arts position open. Harry has accepted that position. Enjoy the rest of your lunch." He sat back down at the Head table and was immediately bombarded by questions from the Professors.
With a pained smile in his eyes, he held up his hand to quiet them. "Eight o'clock, my office. I have a memory or two to show you all that will explain this much better." They nodded in temporary acceptance and went back to their meals. Dumbledore, however, briefly continued to look at Harry and Helen.
The thing that most of the people who attended the school didn't realize was that the school itself seemed to have a mind and a voice, and it occasionally whispered to the current Headmaster. Right now, it was telling him that a huge magical presence had just arrived at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft of Wizardry. None of the wards had been breached, so he was safe in assuming that a certain six-year-old was causing it.
Harry, Helen, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were all sitting in the living area of Harry's new quarters. He had moved his stuff from the dormitory earlier in the day, and now the five of them were relaxing with some delicious cups of cocoa that, surprisingly, Helen had made for them. Twilight had descended outside and it was rather cool for a late April night, so a small fire was blazing away in the fireplace.
Harry and Helen had done their best to answer the questions that inevitably came throughout the day. He took several hours to show her around the castle after lunch, and every few minutes someone would come up and inquire about the circumstances around her becoming a ward of Hogwarts. Harry would answer them as best as he could, with Helen adding her own thoughts here and there, but they both mostly avoided the real reason behind them knowing each other. There were also some questions about Harry becoming a Professor, but most were more interested in Helen.
Ron, Hermione, and Ginny had joined them halfway through Harry's tour, and had quickly warmed up to the bubbly youth. Hermione was delighted when Harry told her about what he'd found Helen reading earlier, and smirked at him when Harry cringed away from the fire in her eyes. Ron had always secretly wanted a much younger sibling, so he and Helen hit it off once they'd gotten over the fact they didn't really know each other. Ginny was still in awe of what she'd seen happen between Harry and Helen earlier, and her private thoughts kept returning to the image of Harry comforting her like she was his daughter.
She was thinking of this at the moment, and a low blush crept onto her freckled cheeks when she imagined herself standing by his side, comforting their own daughter someday. She looked up and refocused on what people were saying around her, and noticed that Harry was looking at her. He raised his eyebrows at her obvious blush, thinking that it had to do with what she'd seen earlier. He wasn't embarrassed at all, though, because for him, comforting Helen came naturally. She smiled prettily and focused on what Hermione was saying.
"…need any books, I have a lot. Just ask me anytime, and I'd be happy to lend them to you." She was speaking to Helen, who was sipping her cocoa. She was sitting between Ron and Harry, who were sitting across from Hermione and Ginny.
Helen's face lit up with a bright smile, and she said, "Thanks, Hermione!" Harry chuckled at this, causing all three females to eye him. Ron was too engrossed in his cocoa to notice much at the moment.
"Er…why are you all staring at me?"
"Why'd you laugh, Harry?" Hermione asked. Privately, she was still a bit upset with Harry, and she knew that Ron was also, but she was reserving that conversation for another time.
"Oh, it's nothing. Just…you've created a monster!" he said as gave a horrified glare at Helen. Expressing her favorite way to snub Harry, she stuck her tongue out at him. Feeling rather foolish, but doing it anyway, he stuck his tongue out back at her. She giggled and almost spilled her cocoa all over her lap.
Harry heard a growl that sounded suspiciously like Ginny, and he looked up. She was glaring at him. "Is that any kind of example for her, Potter?" She was really amused by the whole thing, but she enjoyed keeping Harry on his toes. To her surprise, however, he just stuck his tongue out at her. That did it for Helen, and she snorted some cocoa out her nose. Harry burst into laughter when he saw this, and Hermione and Ginny soon followed. Ron looked up from his cocoa with a vague expression on his face, and saw that everyone was laughing, and Helen had what looked like cocoa dripping from her face.
She punched Harry on the arm with a small fist, and pouted at him. "Look what you made me do!" She then yawned widely, which quieted Harry immediately.
"You tired, Helen?" She shook her head, but yawned again. Harry chuckled and pulled out his wand, banishing their two cups into the kitchen. "I think it's time for someone to go to bed!"
"But Harry! I want to stay up and talk!" It was to no avail though, as Harry picked her up and secured in his arms.
"We've got a busy day tomorrow, Helen. Today hasn't exactly been a lazy day, either. You need to get some sleep." She pouted, but acquiesced when she yawned again. Starting toward her bedroom, he looked over his shoulder and said, "I'll be back in a few minutes, guys." He didn't notice the wistful look Ginny was giving him or the calculating one Hermione was sending his way.
Once they were in her room, he set her down. "Alright, I'm gonna turn my back. Get into your pajamas." He turned around and heard her rummaging through her trunk. A moment passed before she signaled she was done. He turned back around and noticed her woefully patched nightwear. He made a mental note about taking a trip to Diagon Alley with her, possibly sometime the next day.
He pulled back the covers on her massive bed and watched as she slipped in. She pulled the blankets up to her chin and looked to Harry as he laid down next to her for a moment.
"So, how do you like it here?"
"Everyone's so nice! This place is so huge! I really like—" yawn "—your friends. They seem to be really nice too. I like Ginny especially because—" yawn "—she's really nice and I can tell about you and her."
Harry made a small snorting noise and smiled warily at her. "Oh? You can tell what about us?"
She giggled. "Oh, you know, grown-up things," she said, rolling her eyes and yawning again.
"You're silly; do you know that?"
"Mm hmm," she intoned, obviously losing her battle with sleep. Harry leaned over, smoothing her hair away from her forehead, and lightly kissed it. She appeared to be asleep when he raised himself back up.
"Goodnight, Helen," he whispered.
"Night, Harry," she mumbled, burying herself in the blankets. "Love you…" Her voice trailed off as sleep took her.
"Love you, too," he whispered, and carefully got off of the bed. When he turned back to the door, he was unsurprised to see Ginny standing there, watching him. He quietly made his way to her and embraced her. She leaned into it, lifting her head after a moment and motioning him into the living area. Harry closed the door with a soft click and followed her to one of the couches.
"Where'd Ron and Hermione go?" he asked her.
"Where else? She dragged him off to the library to study for NEWTS." Harry smiled knowingly at this; he was momentarily glad he didn't have Hermione looking after him. He wrapped his arms around her slim frame and pulled her close to him. She warmed up to his embrace and fell into it. She sighed contentedly. For just a moment, they both seemed much older than they really were. Ginny had just watched the man she loved tuck a young girl into bed, and Harry was cuddling with the women he loved, content to just sit with her and hold her.
After a time, though, she looked at him. "About what she asked…what do you think about it?"
He glanced at her. Her face was a little flushed and she looked exceedingly beautiful in the firelight. Her red hair danced with a million hues of crimson and orange and her brown eyes were warm with love. He forced his thoughts away from this to answering her question.
"I was going to talk to Albus about it, once I put her to bed."
Ginny made a small noise and her lips quirked into a contented smile. "You know, that sounds just right, coming from you, Harry. 'Once I put her to bed.'"
She didn't really expect much of an answer, but she got one. "Yeah, it really does," he sighed. She looked into his eyes, which were staring unfocused into the fire. "There's just something about her that makes me want to protect her. She's a very special person."
"I'm beginning to share your feelings, after what you showed us earlier." She shuddered briefly, recalling those horrid images. "I know what you must have thought—'I'm a monster for what I've done'—but you're the exact opposite of those men, Harry."
She was hitting on exactly what Harry's problem was, and that was why they fit so well together. She was intuitive about Harry's emotional issues, and he was responsive to her questions whereas with any other person, he'd just clam up.
She placed a hand over his softly beating heart. "What you have in here is something that few people have; even fewer give it selflessly away like you do. Like I said earlier, she is a lucky girl, and so am I." She raised her lips to his and ignited the passion that had been simmering between them since the day before at the lake.
Ginny's searing lips lit trails of fire across his, and she parted them and danced across his with her tongue. He met her with an equal intensity, and kissed like they never had before. It wasn't wet or deep—it was gentle and caring yet passionate. After a few moments, Ginny broke the kiss for air, and laughed softly at Harry's dazed expression.
It cleared and he grinned at her. He hugged her tightly for a moment and gently unwrapped himself from her arms. She gave him a questioning look.
"I'm gonna go have that chat with Albus now. You can stay here if you want. I'll be gone for a little while." She nodded and reached for her homework. As she spread it out on the low table, Harry went to the fireplace in his room. He threw some floo powder in and called out, "Headmaster's office!" Stepping into the green flames, there was a familiar rushing feeling, and he was soon sprawling across the Headmaster's floor.
He heard chuckling and looked up, grinning. "You know, someday I will do that right." He stood and brushed himself off, and made his way toward a chair across from Dumbledore. He was hovering over some papers, but there was a smile on his face, left over from watching Harry's graceful entrance.
"To what do I owe this honor?"
"Albus! Was that sarcasm?" Harry was shocked.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, my boy." His eyes, however, betrayed his position.
"Mmmm…anyways, there is something I wanted to talk to you about."
Dumbledore nodded. "I figured as much." He fought back a grin at Harry's mock glare.
"It's about Helen."
"Yes, well…you see, she said some interesting things today. She totally caught me off guard when she asked if her name was Helen Potter now." Harry let this sink in, and had to bite back his own grin at Dumbledore's brief loss of his ability to cover any emotion with calm words.
"I see…and what else did she have to say?"
"She thought that I was her guardian, but I explained to her that she was a ward of the school and that officially all of the Professors were her guardians. She, uh, wasn't keen on the idea for personal reasons, and said that she considered me family."
Dumbledore's features had softened even more, and he cleared his throat before speaking again. "What did you tell her?"
Harry looked sheepish for a moment. "I offered to adopt her. And before you tell me all the reasons that it's not a good idea, believe me, I've thought about all of them. Honestly, I don't care. If this is at all possible, I'd be willing to do it."
Dumbledore considered Harry for a moment before speaking. "I don't really have a problem with it—all of the staff as well as myself can see that you would be excellent for the job. However—oh, that reminds me. I showed the Professors what you showed me the other night."
Noticing Harry's cringe, he continued. "They all—every single one of them—side with you, Harry. I still have a small amount of reservation, but what you've shown me with Helen today has gone a long way in alleviating that. You must keep your temper and your powers in check when around her, though."
"I know that, Albus. I have no intention of ever getting angry with her."
Dumbledore smiled at the boy's naiveté. "If you are sure that you want to do this, you have to promise me to keep that temper of yours leashed, at least until you can learn to control your powers. Alright?"
"I give you my word." And Harry meant it. He would protect Helen from everything, and that included his own unpredictability.
"I'll contact the Ministry tomorrow and see about starting the process. You are sure that you want to adopt Miss Davis?" Without hesitation, Harry nodded. Dumbledore smiled at him. "James and Lily would definitely be proud."
"Thank you, Albus."
"It's nothing, Harry. You are turning into an extraordinary young man. Everybody has a few demons, though; so don't worry about it too much. Just remember what I said."
Harry acknowledged his words and said, "Goodnight, Albus." He heard the Headmaster return the sentiment as he walked to the fireplace and flooed back to his new quarters. He had a rare smooth landing and brushed the soot off of him once again. He walked out of his room into the living area and promptly stopped.
The sight that greeted his eyes caused a warm feeling of contentment to spread through him. Ginny was in the chair facing the fireplace, resting against the arm. The firelight danced patterns across her features, sparkling along her eyelids, highlighting her freckles, and illuminating her hair. Her breathing was even and her face was the image of serenity. But, it was who was in her arms that made the whole picture so…good. Ginny's arms were wrapped around the small form of Helen, who was curled up in her lap. Helen's arms were encircled lightly around Ginny's waist, and she was breathing even and her eyes were closed. They were both asleep.
The warm feeling quickly turned into love—a duality—fatherly love for Helen and a romantic love for Ginny. His magic flared up and outward, and he felt a familiar moment of nothingness. When he was aware again, he was surrounded by the soft green glow of his emerald aura. An unseen breeze lapped through his hair and his robes, and his eyes smoldered as he watched the two sleeping forms. The breeze whispered against Ginny and Helen as well, and Ginny opened her eyes slowly. It took her a second to figure what the green light was, but when she did, she smiled as she felt the familiar sensation of Harry's love wash over her.
Helen stirred in her arms, and Ginny connected the dots and realized why Harry had let his magic out like he did. Helen sleepily opened her eyes and tensed when she saw the green glow, but relaxed as soon as she saw who was at the center of it.
"Why do you look like that, Harry?" Her voice was laden with sleep.
"Because I'm looking at my two favorite ladies." His voice was quiet, but it was pulsing with a tangible power. Helen shivered as she felt his emotions wash up against her. She didn't find them unpleasant, but they were rather intense for her.
"Oh…" she breathed and drifted off to sleep again. The breeze that had been filtering through the room died slowly, and the emerald light faded as Harry leashed his magic back within himself. He padded over to Ginny, who stood up and handed Helen to him. They quietly made their way into Helen's room and he laid her back in her bed. He tucked the covers around her sleeping form, and crept from the room with Ginny.
"She came out complaining of a nightmare. I tried to comfort her and I guess we both fell asleep."
"Oh," said Harry as his face fell. "Did she wonder why I wasn't there?"
Ginny's ruby lips raised a little at the corners. Harry was precious. "Relax, Harry. That was the first thing she asked: 'Where's Harry?' I told her you were asking about the adoption, and she was as excited as her tired state would allow. It was cute." Harry nodded gratefully and pulled her into a quick squeeze, kissing her softly on the forehead as he did so.
"How did that go, by the way?" she asked.
"Albus said he'd contact the Ministry tomorrow and get the process started."
Harry nodded, and then yawned. "I guess I should take my own advice. I think I'll go to bed. Sleep sounds very enticing."
He broke the embrace with a quick kiss and started toward his bedroom. Ginny bit her lip, debating with herself whether or not she had the nerve to ask him. Ginevra Weasley! When have you ever been a coward? Just ask him, damn you! Steeling her nerve with the encouragement from her thoughts, she called out to Harry.
He turned with a quizzical look. "Mm?"
"Well…I was wondering…um, since you have your own room now…do you think I could, um, join you?" Harry paled first, and then blushed a deep crimson. Ginny would have laughed at the look on his face if she had had any sort of presence of mind at that moment.
"G-Ginny, I dunno if that's, um, a great idea…" he said, blushing an even darker red.
She laughed nervously. "No Harry…that's not what I meant. Just to sleep…you know…"
Harry ran a nervous hand through his hair. His palms were suddenly perspiring profusely. "Well, I suppose…" he faded away. His mind wasn't really helping him out, as it had gone completely blank. Great, he thought, why am I such a prat! I jumped to the wrong conclusion…argh! Harry finally just nodded at her, and she half-smiled at him and said she'd be right back. She left the suite.
He went into this room and donned his pajama bottoms. He was suddenly faced with a dilemma. He usually wore only the pants to bed, but Ginny's presence could cause some problems. He was still standing in the middle of his room, shirtless and looking pensive, when Ginny came padding back in. She noticed his vacant posture, and decided to quickly change behind him. Halfway through, though, Harry noticed a rustling behind him, and turned.
If it was possible for his face to get any redder than before, it did. His eyes widened for a second, and he immediately turned on his heel and headed for the bed. No…Potter, no! Stop thinking about that. Put that image out of your mind right now! She didn't notice…she didn't see you turn around. Harry had turned around to see Ginny topless with only a fairly revealing pair of knickers on, trying to get her nightshirt over her head.
In his sudden embarrassment, he'd forgotten all about his earlier problem, only to be reminded when Ginny said, "Sleeping without a shirt?"
Harry jumped like he'd been shocked, and then realized he'd never decided if he was going to wear his shirt or not. Ginny must have noticed his quandary, and decided for him. "It's alright. You don't have to change your sleeping habits just because I'm here."
Harry exhaled deeply; he was trying to calm his frazzled his nerves. Why is everything always a disaster with me? He commiserated with himself for a moment, and then decided to just throw back the covers and take the plunge. He slid into the large bed and Ginny walked around to the other side, doing the same. The bed was very warm against the cool air in the room and the blankets were comfortable. Harry snuggled into the sheets, turning on his side subconsciously to face Ginny. She had also turned on her side, facing him.
They smiled at each other, looking nervous for a moment, before Ginny slowly moved over to Harry. Harry was about to pass out with uncertainty, but Ginny just turned over on her other side and wrapped Harry's arm over her. She burrowed her back against his warm chest and was soon drifting off to sleep.
Harry listened to her for a while, noting that her breathing had been steady and slow for some time. Her hair was reflecting what little light there was in the room and shimmered softly. Harry smiled and appreciated her warmth, tightening his arm around her as he drifted off to sleep. The smile remained on his face through the night.