DISCLAIMER: Whoever came up with the plot for Notting Hill should get props for this story. The characters besides the obvious ones you don't recognize are JK's!
A/N: Well, I've put it off long enough...there's people getting on my butt about it, so that's how I know I needed to update this story. Enjoy!
Ginny gave herself a critical eye in the mirror and sighed, wondering for the umpteenth time why the fairy responsible for giving women their feminine curves had chosen to skip over her. It doesn't matter, Ginny, you're not out to impress him – he's your friend...FRIEND! "Yeah, just a friend..." she muttered. She brought her hands up and squeezed her two mounds together to create more cleavage before releasing them to their original, boring state. "I'm hopeless, I'm pathetic, I'm ridiculous." Putting herself down probably wasn't the best route to go when she was about to go on a date- It's NOT a date! –when she was about to play catch up- that's better –with Harry. "Okay, obviously this is the wrong thing to wear, we'll just go pick something else out."
She left the bathroom that was connected to her bedroom and went through her closet for the fourth time that night. She hated the fact that her heart was racing with nervousness, that she still acted like a twelve year old when she thought of him, and that the gods that controlled the fate of her life hadn't allowed for things to be different. If things had turned out differently, where would you be right now? Ginny asked herself. That's about as far as she let herself think about it – what she wanted and what was real life were two different things and she didn't want to go crazy dreaming about it. "So what are you going to where, Gin," she said as she took off the shirt she was wearing and threw it on the floor along with the six other shirts she tried on. She at least complimented herself on the number she wore under her outfit...the matching purple lacy bra and panties she bought recently made the most of her less than desirable bust and she felt halfway decent in it.
Carefully looking through her tops, she finally chose a deep red fitted tank top and pulled it on, taking care not to mess up her hair or makeup. Walking over to the body length mirror, she did a once over, turning this way and that. "Well, this is about as good as you're going to get, Gin...be happy with it." She wore a black skirt that came to just above her knees and the top accentuated it very nicely, she thought. "Now for shoes," she groaned aloud. Ever the indecisive one with footwear, she trudged wearily back over to her closet and peered at the shoe rack. She was so immersed in her task that she didn't hear Megan come into her room and sit on her bed.
"You look nice," she said.
Ginny gasped and swirled around, "Don't sneak up on me like that! I'm ner-" She had just been about to confess how nervous she was as it is, but Megan probably wasn't the best person to confide in.
"Nothing," she muttered.
"Sooo...is there a reason why you never told me that you and Harry Potter were best mates?" said Megan rather briskly.
Ginny glanced over at her and sighed before pretending to check herself out again. She had hoped that she and Megan wouldn't have to have this conversation this soon, and it looked like she wasn't going to be able to wiggle herself out of it. "I dunno...out of sight, out of mind, I guess," she said and hoped that would suffice.
"That's a load of flobberworm dung and you know it."
"Well, what do you want me to say?"
"How about the truth for starters!" Ginny flinched at her raised voice. "I mean, you don't just somehow forget to tell me that you know him, simply because he's not there in front of you! And you just don't know him, Ginny, you 'go way back'...what exactly does that mean?" Megan had stood up from the bed and begun to pace back and forth.
"Uh..." Ginny was beginning to get nervous, more so than she already was. "We went to Hogwarts together...Ron, Hermione and Harry are actually best mates. Well, not Ron and Hermione so much anymore, but y'know..."
"Your brother, Ron?" Megan gaped.
Ginny nodded while she adjusted her skirt, "Yeah...so seeing as how I'm his sister, of course Harry and I were around each other a lot. We didn't really start to become friends until my fourth year..." she didn't quite want to get into how exactly they had started to become friends, so she didn't say anything more.
"How come it took that long?"
Dammit, doesn't she know when I'm done talking? "Er..." What was she going to tell her? That it took her that long just to be able to look at him without becoming red in the face? That whatever Megan thought she felt about him was nothing compared to the years she spent silently shouting at him that she was there and that she loved him? "I can't really talk about that right now, that's a rather sensitive subject for me."
"Hmm..." was all Megan said. "So now he's coming over here and you two are going out?"
"On a date?"
"No! It's not a date, and what's with the 20 questions?" Ginny was beginning to feel irritated.
"Sorry," she looked slightly affronted. "It's just that you seem to be spending a significant amount of time getting ready," she gestured to the pile of discarded clothing on the floor. "You even did your hair and makeup."
Ginny shrugged and smoothed her hair, "I hardly ever get to go out, I just wanted to dress up, is that okay?" She didn't want to be arguing with Megan before going out and sighed, "Sorry, I don't meant to be a bitch, Meg...truthfully, I am a little nervous."
"Something tells me that your feelings toward him are more than platonic," Megan said softly.
Ginny didn't bother contradicting her and just sat on the bed next to her and stared at the floor for a few moments. "Yeah."
"And I'm also thinking that this is why you two didn't become friends until later in school."
Ginny just nodded and looked over at Megan with a tight smile. "It's crazy, isn't it? He's the only man I've ever loved and no matter how hard I try, it doesn't go away...pathetic, huh?"
"Does he know?"
"No." She took strands of her hair and began twirling them through her fingers. "Well, for the first few years at Hogwarts, it was painfully obvious to the whole school that I pined after him. He knew then, of course, but it was just a crush...or so I thought. In my fourth year, I realized that it wasn't fair to keep doing that to myself, so I just...gave up. I convinced myself that I no longer had feelings for him – after that point, I could actually carry on a normal conversation with him without running away or blushing. It was one of the best times of my life when Harry and I became close...if I couldn't have him that way, then I at least wanted him as a friend."
"It just got even more out of control, didn't it?" Megan laid a hand over Ginny's.
"You sound like a therapist," Ginny said with a grin.
"Yeah well, now that things are out in the open, I can't help but be curious. I kind of feel like a prat for acting like an obsessed freak all those times," she said, cringing.
"Meg, don't even go there, you didn't know! And besides, everyone is allowed to have their silly little celebrity crush," she said teasingly. "Although, I think you could've handled meeting said silly celebrity crush a little better."
"Oh hush! What else was I supposed to do when the situation was just sprung on me like that? Do you think he would mind autographing something of mine?" she said with a tinge of hope.
Ginny couldn't help but giggle at the look on her friend's face, "I'm sure he'd be more than happy to, Meg, ask him when he gets here."
Megan bit her lip nervously, "I'm not sure I can face him after embarrassing myself like that earlier...looking back, that really was not one of my finer moments."
"I could give you a run for your money, honey – that was nothing over the way I acted back at Hogwarts...now that was embarrassing and I'm sure he'd agree with me."
"So I still have a chance at saving my dignity?"
"Oh yeah...he's still talking to me, isn't he?"
"You have a point...okay, I will talk to him like a normal person when he gets here. Seriously, watch me, I can do it!" Megan had a determined gleam in her eye and she stood up to leave.
Ginny laughed and shook her head, "Okay, but you have approximately five minutes to find something for him to sign, because he's going to be here soon." No sooner had the words left her mouth then she heard the gong of the doorbell and Megan's eyes widened.
"That's him! Oh, dear Merlin!"
"Calm down, Megan," Ginny rolled her eyes. If she didn't know better, it was almost as if Megan were the one going out with Harry. "Listen, I'm not quite done in here, so can you tell him I'll be a few minutes? Please?"
"Uh huh, of course, I can do that...watch me, I can!" Megan's breathy voice receded as she went to answer the door.
Ginny sighed and padded over to her closet once more to inspect her collection of shoes. She didn't want her feet to hurt when she got home, but then she didn't want to wear granny shoes either. She finally settled on a pair of black strappy sandals with a wide heel, and went back to the mirror again to give herself a pep talk. "Okay, Ginny, you're only going out as friends, because he has a girlfriend," she winced when she said that. "That's just the reality of the situation, so you are going to go out and have a good time...as friends. Friends..." she repeated in a whisper. "You look good, now stop looking in the mirror and go." Nodding, she went into the bathroom and sprayed some fragrance on her wrists and neck, smiling at the intoxicating scent. Gathering up her purse and taking one lasting glance in the mirror, she took a deep breath decided to go out and face the inevitable.
When she first entered the living room, the first thing that she noticed was, of course, Harry, and her breath caught in her throat. Wow...He was casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a tan blazer to complete the delectable ensemble, and she had to stop herself from gawking. His hair was ever the unruly sexy mess it usually was, but somehow it was even more so tonight. How was she ever going to keep herself in check tonight?
"Hey, Gin," Harry smiled at her. "You look beautiful."
She couldn't take her eyes of him and her heart sped up at his compliment. "Thanks, you look good, too."
"I feel rather underdressed," he said, roaming his eyes over her dressy attire.
Her body began to tingle as he looked at her and she cursed herself. "No, you're perfect." Realizing what she said, her eyes widened, "I mean you're dressed just fine...I hardly ever go out and so I guess I kind of went overboard." Harry stared at her with a look she couldn't discern and began to squirm uncomfortably.
"Well, you kids should get going," said Megan, breaking the silence.
Ginny jumped at her voice and began to flush, knowing she was just unabashedly staring at Harry a moment before. "Right then, shall we?"
Harry smiled and nodded, opening the door and gesturing Ginny to go out before him. He turned to Megan, "I promise to have her home at a decent hour."
Megan giggled and automatically covered her mouth, horrified at what she must've sounded like. "Okay, have a good time, then."
Only after they left and had been walking down the quiet street did Harry finally talk. "So do you have any idea what you'd like to do tonight? I confess I didn't have anything planned so it's pretty much up in the air."
Ginny shrugged, "I really don't know, either...truthfully, I'd be happy just walking down the street, but I imagine we'll get bored after awhile." The faint smell of cologne coming off of him was distracting her and she found it hard to concentrate on what they were talking about.
"Have you had dinner yet?"
"No, I'm actually starving," she said with a smile. A loud rumbling of her stomach second that fact a moment later and she blushed while Harry just laughed.
"We need to take care of that, then...are there any places you recommend?"
"There's one place in Muggle London that I've been meaning to try out. That is if you want to..."
"Sure," he said and they started toward the location to get into the Leaky Cauldron. He was actually quite relieved that they were going into Muggle London, people tended to not give him a second glance there. "It's weird being back here...I mean, it's nice to come home, but sometimes I feel like I don't fit in."
"It wouldn't have anything to do with you being one of the most recognized people in the Wizarding world, would it?" she said teasingly.
"It probably has something to do with it, yeah," he said seriously. "I wouldn't trade playing for a national Quidditch team for anything, but, at times, it's just so...overwhelming to have to deal with the side effects."
"I can understand that," she said quietly. "Just remember that you'll always have a home at the Burrow, mum and dad would be happy to have you if you just need to get away."
He smiled at that and remembered her parents fondly, "I haven't been by to visit them since I've been back, I was thinking of doing that tomorrow. How are they doing?"
"Well, dad is just about as obsessed, if not more so, with his Muggle artifacts, and so he spends his free time in the shed doing Merlin knows what with them. Mum is doing good, except I think she feels rather lonely now that her children are all out of the house. I try to go as much as I can for visits, but ever since the shop picked up, it's gotten to be difficult."
Harry nodded, "She loves her children very much...I'm not sure what she would be doing if she had never had you and your brothers."
Harry looked down at her but didn't say anything. He had spent a great deal of time back at Hogwarts having internal battles with himself over the Weasley's. He now knew that he never would have survived had he not been fortunate enough to meet them back in his first year. Over time, the bond between him and the Weasley's had grown stronger, and they had considered him a part of their family. Even now, when he thought about it, his chest tightened uncomfortably.
They reached the wall that led into the Leaky Cauldron and Ginny retrieved her wand to tap the series of bricks. After they moved aside to create a doorway, they stepped through it and into the back room. They walked into the dark and smoky atmosphere of the bar and, as if they had suddenly turned into magnets, every eye in the place turned in their direction and the noise immediately quieted. "Maybe this was a bad idea," he whispered. He darted a glance at the door behind him as he heard the familiar gasping noises of those that recognized him reached his ears. He unknowingly sought out Ginny's hand and grabbed it tightly. "Don't leave me in here."
Giving him a surprised look, she squeezed back, "I won't."
He looked down at her gratefully and then took a step forward, aiming for the front door and hoped no one would stop him. He had gotten part way across the room before patrons began coming out of their shocked states. One plump witch brazenly hoisted herself out of her chair and blocked their path. "Harrrry Potterrr." Her slurred speech told him that she had been there for quite awhile and she swayed where she stood. He let go of Ginny's hand and automatically reached out to steady her.
"Are you going to be okay, Miss...?"
"Cheaney, svveetheart," she murmured. "You're...you're tusshing me. Harrry Potterrr is tusshing me!"
His face turned red and he immediately dropped his hands. "You looked like you were a little unbalanced there for a second," he mumbled.
"Why don' you sit herrre with me and we can ge' to know eash other betterrr." She took hold of his arm and went to drag him down with her.
Watching the scene before her in horror, Ginny grabbed his hand from the other side and tugged forcefully. It wasn't hard for the other woman to let go and when she did, she lost her balance and fell back into her chair. The witch finally took her eyes off Harry and attempted to focus on her, "An' who are you?" She picked up her tankard and went to drink out of it, although, half of it ended up on her cloak.
"No one," she said, and took Harry by the hand before dragging him past the crowd of onlookers and out of the front door.
"Maybe we should've just Apparated," said Harry. He was feeling very uneasy toward what just happened, and thought that Ginny didn't have to see that. "I'm sorry about that."
"You know Apparating into the Muggle world is frowned upon, Harry," was all she said. They began to walk until they reached a main road filled with cars and people, and she turned right and said, "It's about a block from here." She wasn't sure why she was feeling so angry at what she just witnessed. She had had to see that witch earlier this morning hang on him, but this one really bothered her for some reason. It's because the more you see it, the more realistic it becomes for you. She knew her inner voice was right and it made her even more agitated. How many times does this happen to him? Does he ever flirt back with any of them? She shook her head and disposed herself of the questions – it was really something she wasn't sure she could handle the answer to.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked hesitantly. Remembering her outburst this morning, he wasn't really interested in seeing it again.
"Sure, why wouldn't I be?"
"Well," he said slowly. "Considering the mood from when we left your apartment to now, the comfort level has dropped...quite a bit."
She wished that she could just lay it all on the line and get it over with – that way, she could take a deep breath of air as the weight lifted from her shoulders and he could stop being so damn clueless. "I just...I just realized how much you have to deal with, is all...I don't know how you handle it." Or maybe you like that sort of attention.
"I told you I'm used to it...I'm just sorry that you had to see it."
"Then you have a hell of a lot more patience than I do, Potter," she said with a snort. "Here it is." She gestured to a contemporary looking restaurant situated in between two equally trendy buildings.
"Looks like everyone else is wanting to try this place out as well," he replied, and tilted his head toward the line outside the door.
"Well, let's see if we can't squeeze in – if I have to wait another minute for food, I'll perish into dust."
Harry laughed, "And how do you propose we do that, wave our wands and make everyone disappear?"
"Of course not, silly! You see...this is where knowing the owner comes in handy."
"You know them? Who is it, do I know them?"
Ginny giggled at his curiosity and motioned upwards, "The name should explain it."
Harry looked to where she was pointing and laughed outright when he saw 'Longbottom's Cove' in neon lettering. "Are you serious? Neville owns this place?" He shook his head in shock but smiled. "Can't wait to see him," he said sincerely – he hadn't seen Neville or any of his other roommates other than Ron in quite awhile.
Ginny smiled at his contagious exuberance and took his arm, propelling him forward toward the door. A gentleman Ginny recognized as the man Neville had been sitting with at Madam Fortescue's earlier and a beautiful brunette were guarding the front door, writing names down on a waiting list. "It'll be at least a 30 to 45 minute wait," the woman said pleasantly to the couple first in line. "Next, please?"
"Excuse me, is Neville in tonight?" Ginny cut in before the next couple could step forward.
The man looked over at Ginny and he seemed to recognize her as well. "You must be Ginny?"
"That's right...Neville said that I should come check this place out sometime, but it seems like everyone else had the same idea," she said with a smile.
"Just a moment," he said and leaned toward the woman to whisper something in her ear. She nodded and then turned toward them with a smile on her face, "If you come with me, I can get you seated right away."
Ginny nodded and smiled before following the woman inside. She looked back at Harry and mouthed, "Come on, I'm starving here!" before disappearing inside.
Harry just grinned and shook the man's hand as he passed by, "Thanks for getting us in this quickly, she's rather famished."
"It was no problem at all, who am I to keep a woman separated from her food?"
Harry laughed and went into the restaurant, gaping at the size of the place and taking in the brilliant color adorning every square inch. "This place is amazing," he said to Ginny when he caught up to her.
"Isn't it? I haven't seen it since it was finished...he's done a fantastic job."
The woman led them to a small room that seemed to be separate from the rest of the place, but was just as tastefully decorated. "You may have a seat here," she gestured to a padded bench, which wrapped around the large table. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"I hear your Golden Snitch's are a huge hit," Ginny said with a smile.
"You have good taste," said the woman with a perfect smile. "And for you, sir?"
"I'll have the same, I suppose," he said, still in a daze.
"I will put the order in for you right away. My name is Chelsea, please let me know if you should need anything. I will also let Neville know you are here, I'm sure he can take a minute to chat with old friends."
"Thank you," replied Ginny.
"This place is truly amazing," Harry said. He couldn't keep his eyes on one spot – everything seemed to want to grab his attention all at once. He noticed a monstrous fish tank against the wall and gazed in wonder at the various tropical fish floating within.
Ginny kept silent and just watched him stare in awe at the fish. After a minute she laid a hand on his arm and smiled, "You act like you've never seen fish before." Although, she couldn't deny that the restaurant was immaculate or that Neville had outdone himself.
"I have, but...not like that."
A moment later, their waitress appeared with their drinks and their mouths dropped open at the size of the glasses. "I hope you're strong enough to carry me home after this, Harry, because I can tell you right now that I won't be sober when we leave here."
"Well, that should be an interesting sight," he said with a gleam in his eye. "To Longbottom's Cove," he raised his glass.
Ginny raised her own glass with some trouble and took a generous sip before putting it back down. "Oh yeah, this is going to be an interesting night, indeed."
End of chapter 2! It's 3 in the morning, and I'm done! I just couldn't stop writing once I started...it's a good thing I don't have to work today :u). Yes, I believe there's one more chapter to come after this and I will get that out ASAP.