Hermione knocked on the door. "Ginny, are you in there?"
She managed to make out the sound of giggling. Then one of Ginny's roommates, (Hermione thought her name was Shannon or Sarah) opened the door, her face red. "Hello," she managed to sputter through her laugher, "Ginny's right here…"
Hermione walked in to see about five other girls hovering around Ginny, talking excitedly.
"Oooh, Ginny, what are you going to wear?"
"I always thought he fancied you…"
Ginny was on the floor, rummaging through her trunk. She flashed Hermione a quick smile. "Hi, Hermione."
"Hello," Hermione replied slowly. "What's going on?"
All of Ginny's roommates immediately burst out into laughter. Ginny flushed a bit. "Just looking over what I'll be wearing-"
"-for her date," another girl finished.
Hermione's eyebrows went up in surprise. "You're going out on a date? With who?"
"Colin Creevey," Shannon/Sarah said, grinning. "He asked her today…he's fancied her for ages…so sweet…"
Hermione looked at Ginny, unsure. Yes, Ginny seemed happy…but where was that shrinking girl that had bewildered all of them at breakfast this morning?
"Um, Ginny-can I talk to you-alone?"
Was it just her imagination, or did Ginny's eyes grow wary? "Of course," Ginny said smoothly, and walked out with Hermione into the corridor.
Hermione wasted no time. "What was that at breakfast?"
"What was what?" Ginny asked, playing innocent.
Hermione hissed, "You know what. Flinching when Harry touched you. You're not acting like yourself, Ginny. Ron's worried, I'm worried, Harry's worried-"
Ginny snorted and muttered, "I doubt that."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Ginny, what is the matter with you? And since when do you like Colin Creevey anyway?"
Ginny shrugged with one shoulder. She looked at Hermione and decided to tell the truth-well, a part of it, anyway. "Hermione…he likes me. It's nice to have someone notice you. And he's a sweet guy, even if he isn't-" Ginny stopped abruptly, her cheeks stained a dark red. She kept her eyes on the floor, unwilling to see the pitying look on Hermione's face.
"I see," Hermione said softly. And she did see. If Ginny was tired of waiting for Harry to notice her, then why shouldn't she move on? God knows Hermione was growing tired of waiting for-
Well. That was a different story.
"Ginny…I won't say anything to your brother or-anyone else," Hermione promised. "But you might want to tell them yourself…"
Ginny shrugged again. "Colin's probably going to say something…and besides, they'll see me with him at Hogsmeade tomorrow."
Hermione couldn't really argue with that. "Right…well, I'll see you later."
"Yeah," Ginny said.
All in all, Ginny thought, things were going well.
She had met Colin outside the Great Hall after breakfast. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was wearing lip gloss. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her brothers and Harry stare at them, then whisper urgently to Hermione, who smiled and said nothing.
Maybe I should tell Hermione after all...a part of her mind whispered. But no. As nice and as friendly as Hermione was, she was Harry's friend first. Explaining the situation to her was not only foolish, but-
It would destroy everything.
But she wouldn't think about that. She wouldn't think about Harry or about Madame or the stupid prophecy that probably wasn't even true-
No, she would think about Colin.
Ginny looked at Colin. They were walking to the Three Broomsticks, and as they did so, his shoulder would occasionally brush hers.
"What are you thinking about?" Colin asked abruptly.
Harry. The batty old witch who told me I was destined to always be in love with a guy that isn't you.
"Nothing," Ginny said lightly. "Hey, have you finished your paper for Charms?"
As she predicted, Colin got excited at the mention of his favorite subject. "Oh, yeah...Summoning Charms are quite simple really..."
Ginny realized she was enjoying this. Enjoying talking to Colin, walking with him.
This is okay, she admitted. More than okay.
They walked back, hand in hand, to Gryffindor Tower. Colin stopped right when they were about to turn the corner that would lead them to the portrait hole. "Ginny…wait."
Ginny looked up at him. "Yes?"
Colin hesitated, then reached out and started twirling her hair. Ginny's breath caught in her throat for a second, then she relaxed. Amazing how calm she felt, considering this was her first date with a boy who really liked her.
"Um, I think I'm about to kiss you right now," were the words that rushed out of his mouth. "If that's all right."
Ginny stared at him for a moment, and then smiled gently. "All right."
Colin wasted no time. The kiss was hesitant, unsure, and sweet. A lot like Colin, as a matter of fact.
She took stock of her feelings. She felt calm and content. Maybe this would work out after all.
When she and Colin finally walked into Gryffindor Tower, they were greeted with cat-calls and hoots from Colin's roommates. Blushing hard, Colin quickly said good-bye to her and headed off to his friends, who were all grinning at him and looking over at Ginny as she sat down on a couch.
Strange, how unembarrassed she was. There wasn't a hint of red on her cheeks.
Ginny stifled a groan. Fred and George. She should have been expecting this...
"Just who gave you permission to date our baby sister, eh?" Fred asked, frowning, though Ginny knew he was just kidding.
"Careful now, Fred," George said, clapping a hand on Colin's shoulder. "Wouldn't want to scare off our future brother-in-law, now."
Ginny shook her head. Okay, now she was embarrassed. Well, a little bit, at least. It was all in good fun, really.
Colin didn't seem to mind, either. In fact, he seemed to be taking it in stride. Occasionally he would look over at her and smile, letting her know he was okay with it.
"They bothering you?"
Ginny turned to see Ron and Harry sitting down on the couch on each side of her. For absolutely no reason at all, her heart, which had been beating normally a few moments ago, started to speed up.
Oh, no, no, no, not again...not now...
"No," she told Ron, trying very hard to keep calm. Just relax, you're over it now, it's all over... "It's all right. After all, they're just Fred and George."
"Have you seen Hermione?" Harry asked. "We need some help with our Tranfiguration paper..."
Ah. Of course. This is just about Hermione. You are not going to blush, Ginny, don't you dare-oh, dammit.
She looked down to hide her pink cheeks. Not trusting her voice, Ginny shook her head. It didn't matter, though, Ron spotted Hermione coming through the portrait hole. "Hermione, I need to see your paper...what d'you mean I can't see it..."
As he was about to leave after Ron, Harry gently laid a hand on her shoulder. "Ginny...I hope you had a nice time today. Colin's a nice guy."
She nodded. Harry smiled at her, obviously relieved that she hadn't recoiled from his touch. Without a backward glance, he went and joined his friends.
Ginny sank back into the couch, still feeling his warm hand on his shoulder. Her heart was still racing, and her mouth was dry from what she was just realizing.
This isn't over. Not by a long shot.
The calm she had felt throughout the entire day, not being nervous at all...that wasn't because the prophecy wasn't true...it was because the prophecy was true.
And Colin isn't the one for you. No one is. No one but Harry.
Oh, no, Colin...
Suddenly feeling incredibly guilty, Ginny looked over at Colin, hoping her feelings weren't written all over her face, hoping Colin hadn't noticed anything-
And you're hoping he hasn't realized just how horrible you really are, right, Ginny? Hoping he hasn't realized you've just been using him-
But Colin was just smiling good-naturedly at her brothers' jokes. He hadn't seen anything at all. She turned her gaze back to the fire, her thoughts whirling.
So it's true. It's all true. So you and Colin...
There can't be a you and Colin. There was never a you and Colin in the first place. No matter how much you might try to fool yourself...it's just not going to happen.
Ginny's head ached. Her heart ached. Everything ached.
I never realized love could hurt this much.
Obviously, Ginny realized she would have to tell Colin something. She didn't know what, but-
You can't keep lying to him. You can't use him like he's an experiment or something to help distract you from Harry...
She looked up drearily. Shannon was standing in front of her. "Are you okay? Because for a girl who just went out with a guy who's crazy about her, you don't seem too happy."
Ginny shrugged. "I'm just really-" Miserable. Guilty. Rotten. Pick an adjective, they'll all fit. "-tired," she finished.
"Then go to bed," Shannon said. Go to bed. Too bad simply going to her bed wouldn't fix her problems. But she was simply too worn out to deal with Colin tonight. Tomorrow, when she'd had some time to reflect-
You can go and tell a guy who's stood by you for ages that he's just not good enough.
Ginny wasn't angry at herself. She was disgusted with herself. It was bad enough she'd managed to fall for a guy who was never going to be interested in her, but she also had to use her best friend to try and get over him.
And I thought Malfoy was rotten.
A/N: Okay, at the end of any chapter I'll try to answer questions that the readers might have.
EmeraldDream, yes, what Ginny is doing is unfair to Colin. Obviously, she realizes this at the end. I took the view that since she probably doesn't have too much romantic experience and has just been told some of the most horrible things a person can hear, she wasn't going to necessarily know what to do. But you have to understand, she was flattered that somebody genuinely cared for her like that. In a way, she was kind of thumbing her nose at Harry, Madame De Courcy and fate when she went out with him. Ginny isn't going to be a saint in this story. Thanks for the great reviews, and I'm glad you like it.
Morganite: Sorry to disappoint you, but no, Ginny is not going to end up falling head-over-heels for Draco Malfoy. Harry IS her one true love, after all. However, some unrequited feelings on the part of Ferretboy towards the youngest Weasley are a possibilty. (Keep in mind this is a BIG maybe.)
Darcel: You know I like hearing your opinion on all my fics. Makes me feel like I'm doing something right. And as for a happy fluffy ending, I can't make any promises. This story is in the angst genre for a reason.
ShadowRomantic: Thanks for the encouragment and I PROMISE I'll finish this fic. But I do have two other WIPs to work on.
Punkin: Yup, there's a lot of angst here. Harry's going to suffer a bit too, from Ginny's crazy moods. Hey, the boy's been ignoring her for the past 4 years. He deserves to suffer a bit too, don't you think?
Heath: Yes, there are going to be more chapters. At least 7 in all, possibly more.
Erika Skyfire: Yeah, I'm enjoying writing all the angst too.
Kelzery: I can't make any promises, but Ginny won't be in the total depths of despair for the rest of her life. Come on, I'm not that evil. BTW, loved your fic Dreaming.
And thanks to Shawn, KeeperOfTheMoon, domino84, JediHermione, Duchess Biggerstaff, coconut-ice agent h/h (sorry, but we really don't agree on the Harry/Hermione front), LittleShyGirl, (I'm flattered, believe me!) and Eraserhead for taking the time to review.
Thanks for the wonderful reviews and praise. You're all making my ego shoot through the roof.