A/N: I'm really sorry that it's been absolutely forever since I've updated. Thanks for all of you that have asked me to continue and have given me encouragement. I hope you enjoy this chapter!
A week later Harry got out of the hospital wing and things were back to normal. Or rather, what Ginny imagined would be normal in this strange world where she and Harry were friends. Ever since Harry had woken up and they'd "started over", it was like someone had obliviated the last six months from her memory. She wasn't having nightmares and had been spending an inordinate amount of time with Harry, not that he seemed to mind. With all of the time they'd spent together and all the in-jokes they'd started to have, it was almost as if they were best mates, or...
"Dating! Of course they're not dating. Go find somebody else to bother." Ginny heard Ron yell at a blonde third year on the way to the dinner.
Harry looked over at Ginny, hoping to share a laugh at Ron's behavior, but she looked a little rattled.
"Ron," Hermione started when he came back to join their group, "What in heaven's name was that about?"
Ron shook his head and mumbled something about "the next bloody Rita Skeeter".
"Ron?" Hermione put her hand on his arm.
"I mean, don't they think that people just want to bloody live their lives? Poking their damn noses in where they don't belong."
Ron looked at Hermione, and mistook her surprise for something else. "Sorry," he said, "I know I shouldn't swear."
"What did she want Ron?" Hermione's tone was persistent. She stopped walking and the other three stopped too.
"Do you think they're gonna row?" A deep voice said close to Ginny's ear.
Ginny looked up to see Harry smirking. "I don't know," she whispered back. "Maybe we should duck into a corner or something. Avoid the blast."
Harry nodded and Ginny's head was immediately filled with fantasies of what it would be like to "duck into a corner" with Harry Potter.
Corners are cramped spaces; they would have to stand really close together. And there would be whispering, Ginny thought. Harry has a really sexy whisper.
"It's nothing new really," Ron continued with a groan of frustration, "I mean they're always asking me rubbish about Harry, but now they've brought my sister into it"
Ginny had just gotten through reminding herself that being friends with Harry didn't include snogging, when he grabbed her hand, presumably to drag her to a dark corner where he was going to be polite and friendly and not have his way with her.
Distracted, Ginny tripped when Harry pulled on her hand. He caught her around the waist and her hands fell to his arms. She thanked the powers that be for Harry's seeker skills and was just about to right herself when she heard her brother.
"...And is it really any surprise? Look at the way they've been acting since he got out of the hospital wing."
Ron gestured his hand over to Harry and Ginny, who disentangled themselves as quickly as possible.
"She tripped!" Harry said desperately.
"Well," Ginny after she'd gathered her wits back together, "If talk was true than you and Hermione would be calling for your, what, fourth anniversary?"
Ron sputtered and Hermione's blushing face glared at her.
"Let's go eat," Ginny said with a smile as she pushed open the doors of the Great Hall.
Ginny wanted to sit with Harry, but realized that she'd been ditching her friends a lot lately to sit with him, Ron, and Hermione. Sitting down beside Rowena and across from Colin, she couldn't help but notice that Harry shot one last glance her way before sitting down.
"Look who decides to join us today." Rowena looked angry.
"I'm sorry Rowena, I really am. It's just, I've been, well..." Ginny trailed off and gave a pleading look to her friend.
"Enjoying yourself with Harry? You know, Kristy's telling everyone that you followed some advice she gave you and - " Rowena said with a sly smile.
"It's not like that!" Ginny took a deep breath. "We're...friends."
"Yeah," Rowena said sarcastically, "And polar bears live in the tropic. I wanna hear some details."
Ginny held her head in her hands. Everyone assumed that she and Harry were together. Everyone assumed that they were snogging, which they weren't! There weren't any details that anyone but herself would be interested in. Ginny didn't think that Rowena would appreciate a description of what it was like to touch Harry's hand.
"Row, why don't you leave Ginny alone for now?" Colin pleaded, feeling uncomfortable with the whole discussion.
"And did you forget about our little project?" Rowena hissed. "Because while you were out flouncing around with Harry for the past week, Colin and I found something."
Ginny's silverware crashed to her plate and she shot up. "You told Colin!"
Rowena looked around nervously. She pulled on Ginny's arm.
"Ginny, everybody's watching."
Ginny looked around and sure enough, the entire Great Hall had stopped to look at her. Ginny slowly sat down. She felt sick.
"You told Colin?" she whispered.
"Yes," Rowena said, "but not about the visions themselves, just that you've been having them."
Ginny looked over at Colin and he nodded.
"I'm really interested in the fact that you think you might be a Seer. Learning about them was my favorite subject in Divination and -"
Ginny looked at Rowena quickly.
"So he doesn't know about the dream," Ginny said with emphasis, hoping that Rowena hadn't told Colin his part in things like she was always adamant about doing for Harry.
"No," Rowena said firmly, though she didn't seem happy about it.
Colin cut in. "Can you two please stop talking about me as if I weren't here?"
The chiming of a glass called their attention to the head table.
"Now," Dumbledore said, "We have a few announcements. The first is a long-awaited announcement from Madam Hooch regarding the Quidditch match."
"Well," Madam Hooch said as she stood up holding an official-looking piece of parchment, "I've spoken with the IQA and they've looked it up for me. Apparently the last time this happened was in 1732 in a match between -"
"Just get to it already!" Malfoy yelled from the Slytherin table. Professor McGonagall glared at him and he didn't say anything else.
"As I was saying," Madam Hooch continued, "In the event that a team's seeker is out of commission, as it were, another team member may go after the snitch. Therefore, because Harry Potter was being carted to the hospital wing at the time of the incident, Ginny Weasley's capture of the snitch stands. Congratulations Gryffindor."
Ginny dropped her fork again. She'd won the match for Gryffindor!
All of her classmates were cheering and clapping and smiling at her. It was nice having done something great. Rowena clapped her on the shoulder and said congratulations. Geoffrey Hooper and Alison Bryce came by to express their excitement over Gryffindor's win. She was positive she saw a flashbulb go off and sure enough, Colin winked at her before putting away his camera.
She heard her brother's voice and looked further down the table to where he was giving her a thumbs up and Harry was smiling at her. Smiling back, Ginny faintly noticed some singing.
Weasley is our Queen
She's the best we've ever seen
That's why the Gryffindor's all sing:
Weasley is our Queen...
Ding, ding, ding.
The tapping of Dumbledore's spoon on the glass brought Ginny out of what she would've been sure was a dream if Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan hadn't continued humming the song.
"As pleased as we all are with Gryffindor's good fortune," Dumbledore said as the Slytherins grumbled, "And Miss Weasley's amazing performance, there is another matter that we need to discuss. I've decided that this year, in order to spread good cheer and all that, we will be having another Yule Ball..."
Ginny heard Rowena and many of the other girls gasp. But instead of being happy like they were, she felt sick to her stomach. Yule Balls were unlucky. Granted, Ginny had only been to one, but at that one she'd had her feet stepped on, had to watch Harry moon over Cho, and had met the mistake known as Michael. Not to mention that scene where Ron had tried to fix her up with Harry. Yule Balls were an unlucky disaster.
After Dumbledore finished with his announcement about the Ball, Ginny noticed that everyone was acting really strangely. Their eyes were darting back and forth a lot and everyone, except for a few gossiping girls like Kristy and Lavender who were likely strategizing, was amazingly quiet. Chancing a glance further down the table, Ginny noticed that Harry looked like he was in shock, Hermione looked horrified, and Ron looked like he was about to throw up.
Scooting further down the bench, Ginny could barely make out what Hermione was saying. It sounded like she was talking to herself.
"...why does he have to do this? I don't want to go to a ball. I was perfectly fine going along in my life without having to deal with this. Now I have to think about who I'm going to go with and..."
Ginny recognized the nervous babbling and looked back to her brother who also seemed to be having a conversation with himself. He gave one resolute nod and looked at Hermione.
"Hermione." She stopped talking and the rest of the table hushed too. With the sudden silence, Ginny was able to hear clearly Ron's next words.
"Will you go to the Ball with me?"
Ginny fell out of her seat.
Hermione was staring at Ron with wide eyes. "What?" she finally said, in a shaking tone.
"Well, it's just," Ron said, "that last time you told me to ask you before anyone else did and I figured...well no one else has had the time to ask you."
Hermione just stared at him. "Really?" she whispered.
"Yes," Ron said firmly as the rest of Gryffindor looked on, entranced. "Now if you don't want to go with me I wish you'd just tell me and get it over with."
"You want to go to the Ball with me?"
"Isn't that what I said?" Ron gestured at the air.
"Well no, not exactly, but..." Hermione paused. "As friends?"
Ron's jaw dropped.
"If you think I'd have this much bloody trouble asking you to go as friends..."
Hermione smiled. "Of course I'll go with you, you daft git. Better late than never."
"Late? What are you talking about Hermione? I was the first one that bloody asked you!" Ron threw his napkin on the table and stood up.
Hermione laughed and stood up. "Yes you did, and I said yes. Now come here."
Ron leaned over the table, still looking a bit perturbed. "What?"
Hermione leaned the last little bit over the table until her face was inches from Ron's. He'd asked her to the Ball and had basically admitted that he fancied her. Hermione was beside herself with happiness. So she did something that she'd been wanting to do for a very long time. She kissed her best friend. On the lips.
It wasn't until the cheering erupted that she realized she'd done so in the middle of the Great Hall. Mortified, but wanting to salvage some shred of dignity, she backed away from Ron who was just now opening his eyes as if he'd been sleeping.
"Thank you for asking me," Hermione said primly to Ron. She turned and was about to leave the table when she heard Ron call her name.
He smiled at her and Hermione thought she might faint.
"Thanks for saying yes."
Hermione was sure she was blushing as she gave a quick nod and left the Great Hall.
"So they've finally gone and done it," Ginny whispered as she picked herself up from the floor. "Amazing."
"They're cute together," Rowena agreed. "Now about what I was saying before, Colin and I have been doing some researching and we think we've found the spell."
"The spell?" Ginny said absently as she stared at Harry. He was saying something to Ron with a big smile on his face. Ron was just staring off into space dreamily, but Harry...Harry was smiling. And laughing. He didn't do that often these days. She missed it.
"Ginny! Get your bloody eyes off Harry Potter and pay attention!"
"Oh sorry," she apologized as she turned to face Rowena, "You were saying?"
"We've found the spell Ginny. The one we've been looking for for weeks."
"You've found it? Can we do it?"
"We think so," Colin answered. "We can try it right after we finish eating. We found it in this ancient book in the Restricted Section."
"We aren't allowed in there!"
"Colin got a pass from McGonagall, Ginny," Rowena interjected. "Told her he was researching some photography thing." Rowena smiled at Colin.
"I don't understand why that would work. Photography isn't dangerous."
"Point is that it worked, and we've found it. Dinner's ending. We can do it now and then you'll know."
Ginny knew that she should be glad that soon she'd know about whether or not her dreams but she felt a tightness in her chest that she knew was fear. Knowing could be a good thing or bad. 'What was it that they said about knowledge again?' Ginny wondered.
"Ginny," Harry said from behind her. Knowledge is dangerous, Ginny found herself remembering as she turned to look at him, and ignorance is bliss.
Ginny stood up slowly and attempted a smile.
"Oh. Hi Harry."
He grinned at her and Ginny felt the fluttering in her stomach start up. Getting used to that again had been irritating. In fact, it still was. But really, what was she supposed to do when his lips curved up like that voluntarily and his eyes looked at her and he stood so close.
"Ginny," Rowena said firmly.
Ginny turned around and saw that Rowena and Colin had gotten up from the table and were ready to leave. Damn.
"You guys can go without me," she finally replied. At a harsh glare from her best friend she added, "I'll meet you there soon."
Rowena shook her head at Ginny before grabbing Colin's arm and pulling him along.
"I didn't mean to...If you have something to do..." Harry trailed off uncertainly as Ginny turned back to face him.
"It was nothing."
"I just wanted to congratulate you about Quidditch and say, well, thanks. Since it was supposed to be my job and everything. I wish I could've seen it."
"Thanks," Ginny said with a smile. "It is rather exciting."
"So," Harry said as he shoved both hands in his trousers and looked around nervously, "Ron finally did it."
Ginny laughed. "Yep, I guess the Yule Ball worked as a sort of catalyst for him this time. Funny how things change after a few years, huh?"
Harry's eyes widened a bit and he shoved a hand nervously through his hair.
"Yeah," he said.
Harry opened and closed his mouth a few times and Ginny could only hope that he was going to ask her to the Ball this time. And then her watch started beeping. She glanced down at it. It ready "library" in italic letters. That was the problem with magical watches, they didn't let you procrastinate.
"I've got to go Ginny," Harry burst out. "Occulmancy lessons with Dumbledore, you know how it is."
"Sure," Ginny frowned as Harry walked away. She'd been almost sure that he was going to say something about the Ball. Frustrated, she walked out of the Great Hall and headed down the corridor toward the library. She was just turning the corner when a voice called out behind her. The last voice that she wanted to hear.
Ginny turned around to face Malfoy. "Stalking is illegal, you know."
"No need to have an attitude," Malfoy said with a smirk. "I just wanted to say congrats."
"What are you really here for?" Ginny asked as she put her hands on her hips. "I don't have time for this little game of yours."
"Pity," he said as he walked closer, "You're the only one that's matches me well enough for this game to be any fun."
Ginny rolled her eyes and turned to leave, but Malfoy grabbed her arm.
"We're going to the Ball together Red."
Ginny couldn't help but laugh. "Why in the world would you want to go to the Ball with me?"
"You're one of the most attractive girls at Hogwarts and you're still a pureblood, though you seem to forget that most of the time. Plus," he added with a triumphant look in his eyes, "It would kill Potter to see you go to the Ball with me."
"Oh God, you're so full of yourself. Thanks for the laugh though."
Ginny jerked her arm away from Malfoy's hand. He grabbed it again.
"I'll let you go now, but you're going to be begging me to take you later."
Ginny thought there was something really creepy about the way that he said it, and was glad when he let her go. "In your dreams, Malfoy."
He laughed. "No, Red, I believe it would be more correct to say in yours."
Ginny tried to suppress a shiver as Malfoy turned around and left. She couldn't help the feeling that Malfoy knew something that she didn't. He'd been paying much more attention to her this year and there had to be a reason why.