A/N: Having started this on the Harry/Ginny site Sink Into Your Eyes, I decided to keep this off FF until which crossover it was became obvious. So, here we are...
Ron was getting really sick of being overshadowed. All of his brothers had already started at Hogwarts, and all of them had been brilliant in their own ways. Bill the Head Boy, Charlie the Quidditch Captain, Percy the Prefect, and Fred and George were the pranksters, and more popular than any before. He'd been hoping to find something special for himself now that he was going to Hogwarts. He'd thought it was his turn. But no. Not only was he evidently in Harry Potter's year, his little sister had just Apparated into their compartment on the moving Hogwarts Express. Apparated!
He sighed and went back to staring out of the window. He couldn't tease her for her obvious crush on Harry as Fred and George were doing. His heart just wasn't in it. They had apparently been going to meet up with Lee Jordan and his tarantula — Ron shuddered involuntarily — but Ginny's almost ridiculous display of accidental magic was far more interesting. He wondered if he would ever be recognised for something he did. It certainly didn't look that way at the moment.
Fred and George Weasley had managed to keep serious expressions through their teasing for one minute, maybe two. But a lifetime of pranking couldn't train you to keep a straight face in this situation. Ginny was sitting on the end of a bench that Harry Potter — the Boy Who Lived — was occupying. She was blushing so furiously she might as well have been some kind of warning beacon. They somehow managed to avoid the glances they were throwing each other. Ginny wanted to sit close to Harry, but was too embarrassed. Harry wanted to talk to Ginny or something, but didn't want to make her more uncomfortable. Not that the twins were helping, but hey, who said Ginny's romantic interests were their responsibility? They had a reputation to keep, not to mention this was the most hilarious thing they'd seen in years.
They were grinning so much it hurt, and with good reason. It didn't really matter how long Ginny would be with them. This was going to be bloody brilliant.
'This cannot be happening!' Ginny thought. She wanted to hex Fred and George so badly. However, she was not producing any more accidental magic just then. Maybe the Apparating thing had drained her a bit, for she hadn't even managed the stinging hex she'd accomplished four years ago. She still hadn't a clue how it had happened. One moment she'd been in the car with her parents thinking of Harry Potter and her brothers, and then she'd felt the same way as when she'd been taken by Side-Along Apparition for the first time. There was an immense pressure on her from all sides, and then she was on the train. Just like that.
Her mother was going to be in a fit, but that was nothing compared to her situation right now. She was mere feet away from Harry Potter, and those two gits had to make it hell for her! She glanced back at the object of her dreams, and their eyes met. The stream of torment from the twins came to an abrupt halt, since they were practically rolling on the floor laughing. She didn't take her brown eyes off his green ones. Then, a small smile crossed his face, and she ducked her head. She knew that her blushing was already pretty obvious, but it was more an involuntary move. She glanced back, and he was still gazing at her with a slightly wider smile. Her already racing heart took on an even more frantic pace.
Harry couldn't believe how good life was without the Dursleys, his adoptive family. Or maybe it was how good life was with magic. He couldn't tell, but he didn't really care that much since he had both. He'd like to think he now had two friends, or close to that, in Ron and Hagrid, the giant of a man who'd rescued him from the Dursleys. He wasn't too sure about Ron's twin brothers, but they seemed good-natured enough. Then there was Ron's sister. According to Fred and George, she had a huge crush on him, and this seemed to be true. Harry wasn't complaining about the crush, but Fred and George's teasing had been driving him mad. At least they'd stopped now. To be honest, he'd barely noticed her crush. He'd caught her looking at him, and she'd caught him, so she couldn't blame him if he kept staring. She was ... pretty. There was something about her...
"Excuse me, have any of you seen a toad?" Some random girl had just turned up at the door. She turned up her nose at the twins clutching each other for support, and then looked at Ron. "You got some dirt on your nose, by the way. So — holy cricket, you're Harry Potter!"
'Enough with everyone oohing and aahing already,' Harry thought, groaning. He'd been getting that sort of reaction for as long as he'd been amongst wizard folk. To be fair, that time summed up to about a day at this point, but it was already wearing on him.
Harry Potter was a remarkable 11 year old boy. It wasn't just because he was on a train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (a train he had gotten to through a secret passage at King's Cross Station). Every man, woman and child in the magical world knew his name, and for a while, most had even celebrated an annual Harry Potter Day. They had done so because in the midst of all-out war, a time when the British wizard population was halved, a one year old boy had survived where thousands of trained wizards and civilians both magical and not had fallen. This child, targeted inexplicably by the insurgent Lord Voldemort, had been hit with the Killing Curse. The curse, which had slain both of Harry's parents, rebounded and destroyed Voldemort, leaving the infant boy with nothing but a conspicuous, lightning bolt shaped scar.
The highly recognisable scar was what was bringing all the blasted attention. It wasn't like he'd stood up at fourteen months old and told Voldemort where he could stick his wand. Something had happened that no one could explain, and that was ultimately what he was. Whether his uncle was beating him, his aunt was locking him in his cupboard under the stairs, or random people were writing about his so called achievement as this girl was telling him they had, it was always because he was a freak.
"No, we haven't seen a toad," he answered curtly.
The girl looked vaguely offended at his cutting her off like that, but she got the message. "Alright. Well, if you see one, a boy called Neville has lost his..."
Harry nodded vaguely at her then returned his attentions to Ginny. He knew that she wouldn't be at Hogwarts this year, so he decided to make the most of what time she would be there.
"Hi," he said to break the silence. "Um, they're your and Ron's brothers, right?"
"Yeah. The prats," she replied. He grinned, and she smiled back.
Deciding that it wasn't a good idea to go back to staring now that he'd started a conversation, he broke out of his reverie. "Well, that was pretty impressive. I mean, I don't know much about magic, but I reckon it's got to be pretty amazing to be able to teleport before you've even gone to Hogwarts."
"Teleport? What's that?"
"Oh, um, I don't know what wizards called it. Muggles call disappearing from one place and appearing in another place teleporting. What do you call it?"
"Apparating. Why do they call it teleporting?"
Harry racked his brains, wanting to say something a bit more intelligent than 'not a clue'. "Um... ports are places where ships and stuff come and go from, so it's something to do with coming and going I guess. But what's it like? It didn't look much like the Muggle versions of teleporting."
"Muggles can Apparate?" she looked half-shocked, half-awed despite the residual embarrassment.
"No, but they have teleporting in movies and television. There's usually a big flash of light and then boom, they're gone. I'm not sure how it works, because I don't really get to watch movies much." He felt his blush run up his neck, but ignored it. He wouldn't tell anyone about the Dursleys if he could help it. He was going to start again at Hogwarts, where they couldn't touch him.
"Wow. Dad mentioned movies once. Like a photo with sound, right?"
"Yeah, sound and movement."
"Photos have movement."
Harry squinted at her. Was she trying to take the mickey, or did photos in the wizarding world really move? "Um, Muggle photos don't move."
"Really? Magic ones do. So people just stay still in the Muggle ones?"
"Here, Harry, look," Ron gave him a card out of one of the chocolate frogs they had gotten from the food trolley earlier. Ginny had provided ample distraction from food when she appeared ten seconds later. He stared at an image of Albus Dumbledore as it scratched its nose and readjusted its glasses.
"Wow." He noticed Ginny was a bit closer now. He budged up a bit himself, and her blush reasserted itself. He just smiled at her, and she slid away until they were a normal distance from each other. It didn't escape his notice that Fred and George had burst into laughter again, though they had managed to stay on the bench this time. "You're right. They're complete prats."
She leaned in, grinning suddenly. "If you let me borrow your wand, I know a really useful hex," she whispered.
He grinned back, "Alright." He pulled his wand from his pocket and gave it to her. "Go on then, Ginny. Do your worst."
She took the wand, and met his eyes briefly, but was unable to hold her composure, and had to quickly turn back towards the twins. "You two can thank Bill next time you see him," she said. He watched as they turned slowly, comprehension dawning in their faces along with a definite horror. "Eruptus Nasus Chiroptera!" she cried.
Ron looked up from his cauldron cake in shock, while Harry watched in awe. Snot with bat-like wings was flying out of their noses and attacking their faces mercilessly. Yelling, they tore out of the compartment, no doubt to find their friend Lee Jordan. Harry's glee, however, was cut short.
"Ah, so you're Harry Potter, are you? I did wonder about your parents." It was the blond boy from Madam Malkin's. "I see your taste in company hasn't changed much. I could help you there. The name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy." He heard Ron snort, while Ginny looked like she wanted to start a fight. Seeing the bodyguard-like figures either side of Malfoy, Harry quickly stood in front of Ginny. "You think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask yours. Red hair, and hand-me-down robes? You two must be Weasleys. How did you afford the sweets? Did you have to save up all year?"
Ginny growled behind him, so he decided to step in sharpish. "I suggest you leave now, Malfoy," he said. "Ginny here is very good with her hexes, and your friends look like they still need help with their shoelaces."
Malfoy sneered, but left all the same. He couldn't seem to resist a parting line, though. "You've made an enemy today, Potter. You'll want to be careful, or you might meet the same sticky end as your parents."
Harry growled this time, and though Ginny held the wand, it was Harry's will that commanded it as it exploded with incredible light and sound. A bluish spell none of them recognised raced out of the door and hurled the three boys down the corridor. Ron jumped with shock at the noise, and ran to look at what became of the boys.
"And stay out!" Ginny laughed. He decided he liked her laugh quite a bit.
"Er, was that you or Harry that cast that spell?" Ron asked from the doorway.
"I think it was Harry," Ginny said.
"Those three are going to need the Hospital Wing," Ron half-groaned.
Getting up to see what Ron meant, Harry wasn't sure whether to be amused or horrified. The three of them were jerking and twitching on the ground, blue crackles of electricity jumping between and over their bodies.
"That... looks familiar... So maybe it really is dangerous, then, the stuff Dad messes around with," Ginny said to Ron, who nodded dumbly.
"What stuff?" asked Harry, who, unbeknownst to her, was picturing doing the same thing to Dudley Dursley, his fat bully of a cousin, and his gang over and over in his head.
"He messes around with loads of Muggle stuff for a hobby. Usually electrical things," she elaborated.
"Well, unless he sticks his finger in a wall socket, or climbs a pylon, he should be fine."
She looked completely baffled, so he went on to give them a quick lesson in electricity.
They had finally reached their destination. As he stepped out onto the platform behind Ginny, Harry was forcibly reminded of his uncle's comments about a train being an odd form of transport to a magic school. There didn't seem to be anything at all remarkable about this place. Then again, in this light he could barely make out the metal fencing on the side of the platform. He, Ginny and Ron followed Hagrid away from the station onto a winding path, which seemed pretty eerie in the dark. He walked a little closer to Ginny and Ron, and she smirked up at him. For some reason, he didn't want to stop looking at her face. He could count the freckles, even in the dim wash from Hagrid's lamp and the few lights along the path.
"Ye should ge' yer firs' look o' the place any momen'," Hagrid boomed. He saw Ginny gasp, and tore his eyes away, only to have them glued to another sight. There was no doubt in his mind that this was Hogwarts Castle and it was magnificent. There wasn't any point in trying to describe it any further. You had to see it for yourself. He didn't notice when Hagrid stopped. He only removed his eyes from the unbelievable future ahead of him when Ginny grabbed his hand. He'd wandered into a lake. Brilliant.
"Honestly, Harry, you have to look where you're going." She said as she blushed, obviously realising she was still holding his hand, but she didn't let go.
"Yeah, mate," Ron added. "Any further and the squid would've had you!" Harry stepped back out of the water.
"Squid?" they both asked, turning quickly to look at him.
"Yeah. Charlie told me there's a Giant Squid in there."
"Blimey..." Harry murmured.
"Yeah, I know."
"If yer done tryin' ter drown yerself, let's all get in the boats, eh?" Hagrid called. "No more'n four to a boat!" Harry climbed in with Ron and Ginny. "Everyone in? FORWARD!" Hagrid was in a boat on his own, and no-one needed to row. Instead, the whole fleet floated towards the castle of their own accord. Ginny went to the front and turned so she was facing Ron and Harry. She was staring at him again. Harry wasn't sure whether he was going to stare at the castle or her, so he stared at his knees instead.
"Alrigh' everybody, duck!"
"What?" Ginny asked distractedly.
Harry dived forwards and pushed her over just as they went under a load of ivy and began travelling through a low brick tunnel. He scrambled back to the bench, grinning at her surprised expression. There was a muffled yelp as someone moved a little too slowly.
"Take tha' as yer firs' lesson," Hagrid boomed. "Magic isn't always gonna be playin' nice with ye. Pay attention to the professors an' ye'll be fine. If ye' don't... We got a hospital wing."
He heard Malfoy laughing somewhere behind. It seemed he'd recovered in the few hours since their coming together. He wondered if Malfoy would try to get him in trouble. He didn't voice his concerns though. Ginny was looking at him in a way that made him feel distinctly uncomfortable. Ron was sniggering to himself about something or other, and Harry was quite glad when the boat stopped.
They clambered out, and followed Hagrid with everyone else, until they met a stern-looking woman at the castle's main doors.
Her voice rang clear over the mutterings of the new students. "Miss Weasley? If you'll follow me, please."
'Damn, won't I even get to spend the night?' Ginny waved back at Ron and Harry, then felt herself blush slightly when Harry waved back. Ron was too busy laughing to himself. 'Get a grip on yourself, Ginny! You've spent half a day with him, and you go red just because he waves? Urgh!'
They walked swiftly, Ginny jogging to keep up. McGonagall didn't even glance at her, which worried her slightly. Things were easier with her mother, since you always knew where you stood. McGonagall wasn't giving anything away, and while she was sure she hadn't done anything wrong, that didn't mean she wasn't nervous.
Not nervous enough to miss the wonders of the place she was being led through, though. If she'd thought the castle was enormous when she was outside, it was nothing to being inside. The ceilings of the normal corridors had to be at least eight metres above her head. The Entrance Hall had to have a twenty metre ceiling, though. It was ridiculous — even Charlie's graphic descriptions weren't a scratch on the reality of Hogwarts.
She was still lost in the magnificence of her ancient surroundings when they stopped in front of a gargoyle in the wall.
"Raspberry jam," she heard McGonagall say. She jumped slightly. 'Of all the things...' But then she realised it was a password, as the gargoyle began to twist and rise. Into view came a stone stairway, which she and the Transfiguration Professor stepped onto. All of a sudden, she knew exactly where she was. Bill had told her about it, having been summoned here a couple of times while Head Boy. She was going to the Headmaster's office, which meant she was surely about to meet...
"Come in, Professor McGonagall, Miss Weasley," the old wizard behind the desk politely intoned. He was an exact match to his Chocolate Frog Card, despite the fact that the picture in those was captured at least fifteen years ago. He still had the same, long white hair and beard, the same twinkling, piercing blue eyes, and that feeling of power and benevolence. "Thank you for escorting our young guest here."
Ginny looked into his eyes, which were still twinkling, and got a rather odd feeling. It was one that scared her slightly. He seemed to be looking into her very soul.
"Perhaps you should return to the feast, Professor. One of us ought to be present, and I can make the beginning of term announcements after the meal, just this once, if required. However, I would be grateful if you would save me a few treacle tarts — they always seem best at the Welcoming and Leaving Feasts."
"Of course, Headmaster," she replied. She gave Ginny an appraising look, then turned and left.
"I suppose we really ought to keep this brief, since I'm sure you would like to be able to eat in the Great Hall with everyone else." Ginny nodded, feeling a touch jittery. After all, this was the greatest wizard of the age she was talking to. "You appear to have displayed some quite extraordinary accidental magic. It might interest you to know that the last person to accidentally Apparate was, in fact, Harry Potter."
She perked up at this. It was a pretty weird thing to have in common, but still... Dumbledore's eyes seemed to twinkle a little more, and the corners of his mouth twitched. It was all she could do not to slump in her chair. Her brothers were bad enough, but she could deal with them. This was just ridiculous.
"You seem to have quite a history of accidental magic. What was that last thing you did? Oh, yes, of course. Now I remember. There was quite the clean-up operation after that one, wasn't there?"
Ginny blushed. It had been the last time she'd been taken to Diagon Alley, the magically hidden high street in London. The twins had insisted on finding every book concerned with Harry they could (was it just her or did most of the big things in her life seem to involve him?), and she'd gotten so mad she'd created a sort of explosion. It had not been pretty. She didn't even remember exactly what the result was, since she was left dazed for a couple of hours afterwards.
"Ah, now, I'm drifting off-topic. You see, now that you're here, there are two options. We can get you back home, either by a Portkey or Floo. Or you can stay. I would prefer that you stayed. The wards here will help to protect against any, ahem, unfortunate consequences of your abilities. After all, Apparition is a big step. There isn't really much you can do, since you can't be accepted into any classes yet. However, should you stay, you would sleep with the first year girls, and I'm sure being here for a year will make your own first year far easier. Now, I am waiting for your parents to arrive, since legally it is their decision, but I am sure they will listen to whatever you have to say on the subject."
Her eyes were wide. 'I can stay at Hogwarts? A whole extra year here? No way...' Dumbledore's eyes were still twinkling in that merry way, but Ginny was too distracted to notice, let alone care. 'I won't have to do all the chores by myself. I'll be with everyone else. And Harry...' A slight blush rose to her cheeks at this thought, and Dumbledore seemed to fight down a chuckle. Just then, the fireplace erupted into green flames, just as a large, beautiful bird on a grand perch burst into orange ones and disappeared.
"Hello, Professor Dumbledore." Her father was soon followed by her mother. "A pity we missed Fawkes. He looks as magnificent as ever."
"Good evening, Mr. Weasley, Mrs Weasley. I am sure you know why we are here," he said, standing to greet her parents.
"Yes, Professor, and we're taking her home. Right now," her mother declared. 'Urgh!'
"Now, Molly..." Arthur said quietly.
"No, don't now, Molly me Arthur! She'll be coming back with us right this instant."
Professor Dumbledore seemed to hold her mother's gaze for an unnatural amount of time. Ginny looked between them curiously. "Molly, doesn't Ginny get some say in this?" Dad pressed. "She has been miserable about not being able to be with her brothers, and you must admit she'd be far happier with other kids her age. Besides, beyond her emotional wellbeing, she clearly needs tuition beyond our capabilities. Accidental Apparition is nigh on unheard of."
Her mother seemed to deflate at the thought that she'd be unhappy, and Ginny nursed a small hope that she might actually be allowed to stay. It wasn't that she didn't love the Burrow, or her parents. But on her own? With all the chores? With only Luna, the quiet, odd girl she talked to occasionally for company? Nice as the girl over the north hills might be, it just didn't have the same attraction.
Her father turned to her. "Ginny, do you want to stay at Hogwarts, or come home?"
"I want to stay at Hogwarts, Dad! Mum, please..."
"Come now, Molly, I'm sure Ron and Percy will take excellent care of her."
"The twins..." she began, but caught herself, and they all shared smiles. "Oh, I don't know about this. It's so very sudden. Professor, would she be starting her first year this term?"
"No," Professor Dumbledore said. "The school registers pupils of its own accord, and Ginny is to start her education her in September of 1992. I don't believe that anything untoward would come to pass if we overruled Hogwarts's judgement in this, but why rock the boat unnecessarily?" All the time that he talked, Mum's face was relaxing perceptibly. It disconcerted Ginny a great deal to see this, but she supposed that Mum really respected the old Professor. "I give you my word, Molly, Arthur, I will take it upon myself personally to ensure that she gains full control over her power."
Ginny blinked. 'Does that mean... lessons with Professor Dumbledore?' Such a prospect was not one to be turned down lightly.
"Yes..." Mum said slowly. "Maybe I was a bit rash. Still, Ginny, if there's the slightest bit of trouble..."
Ginny smiled as innocently as she could. "Mum, what do you expect me to do? There's already Fred and George to keep things lively!"
This time both Dumbledore and her dad couldn't help but snort as they tried to hold back a laugh, while Mum gave them dirty looks.
"Well, just behave yourself, and I suppose you can stay."
"Thanks, Mum!" she cried, running up to her and giving her a big hug. 'Yes! Yes! YES!'
"Well, I believe that concludes matters for today," Dumbledore said with a smile.
"Yes, of course," she said. "Good night, Professor. Remember to write, Ginny dear. I'll want weekly updates!"
Dad chuckled, and followed Mum into the Floo.
"That's settled then," Dumbledore said, his eyes sparkling. "Now, follow me, Miss Weasley." She followed the Headmaster out of his office and along a couple of corridors before they entered an unused classroom.
"Professor?" she hesitantly asked.
"Ah, yes. I haven't quite explained myself, have I? You entered my office exactly twenty minutes ago. The Sorting began fifteen minutes ago. You need to be Sorted, and I have a device to get you there."
Her eyes went wide. "A time-turner?"
Dad had mentioned such a device a few years ago. It was only a rumour that had spread through the Ministry, of an Unspeakable who'd been killed experimenting with time travel. A series of laws had been passed relating to time magic regulation, but such a vast swathe of regulations had been affected that no one could figure out what had happened. All anyone knew was that Rhianne Travers was never seen again.
"Near enough," Dumbledore replied with a little smile. "Hold out your hand. I find the Muggle controlling systems so much easier than wizard ones. Those displays are quite brilliant. Right. Twenty minutes ought to do it. And go!"
She grabbed onto one of the metal rings that seemed to form orbits around the spherical device. She felt as though she was being stretched, shaken and tossed about for about a second, then just felt really dizzy.
"I must say I am impressed. I fell over the first time. And your first seems considerably less messy."
She grinned. 'Dumbledore being sick. I wonder how long it took to clean the beard out?'
"Now, we just wait for Professor McGonagall to pass us by, and we go swiftly on our way. I like to keep this my little secret." He tapped the little sphere with his wand, shrinking it from the size of a quaffle to the size of a snitch, and tucked it safely into a top pocket. McGonagall passed not a second later, and they waited until her footsteps had faded completely before following. After a few minutes, the Headmaster stopped. "Here we must part ways. Through that door there is the Entrance Hall, and I assume you know which door leads to the Great Hall? They are the large ones with no bars across them. I must, of course, go to dine with the teachers. Good luck with the Sorting." And with that he strode off.
Ginny walked quickly to the door, but then decided to wait a moment, since she would surely have taken some time in the Headmaster's office, and it wouldn't make sense for her to appear so suddenly. There had only been about a two minute gap left by waiting for McGonagall. After a couple of minutes, she went through, and then entered the Great Hall. She drew a few looks, but the Sorting Hat was singing, and everyone was distracted. She made her way to the first years, and waited.
"Hey, Ginny, what's going on?" It was Harry.
"You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart."
"Um, well, I'm staying at Hogwarts this year," she answered, only glancing at him before staring at her shoes. She didn't want to start blushing again.
"You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil."
Harry beamed. "That's brilliant!"
"Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind."
She could feel the blush coming on again, but gave up on worrying about it. She'd be spending a whole year around him, and she didn't want to have to spend the whole damn year trying to keep her complexion. "Yeah, well... I have to be Sorted, so, well, I hope I'm in Gryffindor."
"Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends."
Harry suddenly looked a little troubled. "I, um, don't really know about the Houses. I know I don't want to be in Slytherin." A little nervous smile appeared. "I hope I'm in Gryffindor if you are."
"So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
'Blasted blush!'she thought, knowing it was slowly spreading. The hall burst into thunderous applause as the song ended, and Professor McGonagall stepped forward with a roll of parchment, waiting impatiently for everyone to vent their feelings. "Um, thanks, Harry," she offered in reply. 'Why is it that an hour ago I could talk properly and now I'm back to stuttering? Urgh!'
"Hey, Ron!" Harry whispered to the red-haired boy just ahead of him. "What house do you want to be in?"
"Gryffindor. All my brothers — all my family are in it," he answered nonchalantly.
"Abbot, Hannah!" Professor McGonagall called. Ginny turned to the front to watch. It was a bit easier to keep her eyes off Harry now that she knew she'd be spending the year with him. She was a Weasley — destined to be a Gryffindor; he was Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, and if he didn't deserve to be a Gryffindor, no-one did.
Harry's head was in the clouds. Or at least, that was what it felt like. Hogwarts was real, and he was here, and he would spend seven years here with people he got along with, learning about magic. Looking to Ginny, he noticed that she seemed to be avoiding his eyes, hers being fixed on the person currently being Sorted, Millicent Bulstrode.
He wondered how the Hat was able to see into people's heads, but dismissed the thought. 'You are in an ancient school of magic,' he thought. 'If there is a hat in the world that can read minds, it ought to be here.' He held a muttered discussion with Ron about the different Houses until Ron nudged him.
"I can't believe it!" he said suddenly.
"What?" Harry answered.
"You know the girl who kept reciting from the textbooks on the way up here?"
"The one who asked about the toad on the train?"
"Yeah, look where she's ended up." He followed Ron's horrified gaze and saw her sitting opposite Percy at the Gryffindor table. "I thought she was Ravenclaw for sure! She is going to be unbearable."
Hermione, he thought her name was. Hermione Granger. She'd come back after the whole toad thing and started to genuinely annoy them with her superior attitude, suggesting that they were clearly fools for not having gone to her astronomical effort to prepare academically. She ran off when Ginny recited the twelve uses of dragon's blood. Presumably she wanted to do more reading. "We can just ignore her," Harry suggested.
"Malfoy, Draco!" McGonagall shouted, getting their attention.
'Please, don't Sort him! Please don't Sort him!' Harry quickly thought.
"He'll be a Slytherin... yep." Ron shook his head and turned to look at the Slytherin table. Harry, following Ron's eyes again, wondered whether it was just because of the things he'd been told about them, but the Slytherins did seem to be a mean bunch to him. "Honestly, did you see that? I don't think the Hat even touched him!"
"Yeah..." Harry looked over at Ginny, but she was still staring blankly at the space where the first years' heads were meant to be, even though Mallone was still only halfway to the stool. Intrigued, he nudged her lightly, and she jumped about a foot in the air.
"Harry!" she said in reaction.
"What?" he replied, trying an innocent look but probably failing miserably. She, on the other hand, was colouring up rapidly.
"I — never mind," she breathed. She turned away again abruptly, leaving Harry quite bewildered. He got a tap on the shoulder, and turned to see an Indian girl and her twin sister.
One of the girls walked off, but the other leaned in and whispered in his ear. "That girl has a —"
"Ooh, I knew it!"
"Wait, what's she got?" he exclaimed, but she'd already gone. He turned back to Ginny, who was looking at Parvati with a part shocked, part horrified expression. "What was she on about? And what's wrong, Ginny?"
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat shouted.
"It, um, doesn't matter," Ginny replied.
"Perks, Sally-Ann!" McGonagall said, continuing on.
"But what did she mean? What do you have?" Harry questioned.
To his surprise, she blushed deeply and muttered something incoherent.
"RAVENCLAW!" the hat shouted again.
"Potter, Harry!" McGonagall called. Silence descended upon the Great Hall, while Ron gave him a little nudge.
He did not notice the stares and whispers as he wandered over to the stool on which the Sorting Hat rested. He was still lost in thought as to what exactly the girl had meant about Ginny, and why she seemed so embarrassed about it. 'If you write all these mysteries in your life down, Harry, you could write a whole damn book.' He pulled on the hat and dropped onto the stool to await the declaration of whatever his house was going to be.
'Ah, Harry Potter...' the hat began. 'But, what's this? I've not seen this before, at least I don't think I have. The memory isn't what it used to be, you know... Hmm, very peculiar. There's another resident in there, eh? Not to worry, it doesn't look at all hostile. Doesn't look like much at all, really. Still... Never mind. That's not my purpose. Which house will the Boy Who Lived be put in? You seem to possess so many of their traits. Courageous and loyal, not a slow mind and quite devious, too... So where to put you? You'd do quite well in any house, although, there's something about you that calls to Slytherin...'
Harry's eyes widened in fear and shock. 'Not Slytherin! Not Slytherin! Anywhere but Slytherin!'
'Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head. Hmm, well then, I think you really ought to be in...'
He breathed a sigh of relief with the hat's announcement. That had been altogether too close. Everyone at the Gryffindor table was on their feet, while Fred and George chanted 'We got Potter' over and over again. He grinned at Ron and Ginny, who blushed again absurdly, and went to sit near Percy. But as he sat, he began to wonder what it was about him that was so closely tied to Slytherin. Then he froze as the entire conversation sunk in. 'Another resident in my mind?!'
Ginny waited with baited breath for her name to be called, but it wasn't. Ron was sorted into Gryffindor, and then the last person, a tall, dark skinned boy by the name of Blaise Zabini, was sorted into Slytherin. She was standing there, every eye in the hall on her as people wondered what was going to happen to her. She was rather curious herself.
Professor McGonagall looked at her for a long moment. "Additionally, Weasley, Ginevra."
There were a lot of whispers, but Ginny ignored them, walked up to the stool and sat on it, the Hat poised above her head. She took one look at Harry and Ron at the Gryffindor table, who were smiling encouragingly at her, before dropping the Hat over her head, and letting the world go black.
'Hello, Miss Weasley. Funny that, you seem rather familiar. Just something about you. Hmm... Enough of that. There's only one place for a Weasley, and nothing about you disagrees.'