A/N: Whoo!   This is the first time I've tried writing something in a while!   Anyway, I just suddenly got the urge to write something about Cho and Ron 'cause it's not all that common, you know?   And so I just decided to try something different.   So, enjoy!

Disclaimer: nothing's mine except for the characters that you don't know and, of course, the plot of this story.   But besides that I own none of the HP characters, etc.

Warning: some major OOTP and other spoilers here!

Red Roses

            Cho stared into the shop window, leaning her head on the glass absentmindedly and fogging it up slightly, half obscuring her view.   She sighed and wiped away the little cloud she had formed.   It was close to the end of summer vacation and she was in Diagon Alley once again to buy her school supplies.   It was a typical warm summer day and all the other shoppers bustled around her, happily chatting with each other, a burst of excitement and noise exploding every once in a while when some witch found one of her school friends that she hadn't seen all summer, all of them completely oblivious to her strange behavior.   Cho sighed again before turning away from the window; the sun seemed to reflect the exact opposite of what she was feeling.   Ever since the last school term had ended, she had been in a seemingly never-ending melancholy mood.

Flashback

"Honestly Marietta, I think you look fine with the balaclava on," Cho lied as she and her friend strolled casually down the train corridor.

"Really?  Madam Pomfrey said that the boils would go away soon, but it's not as soon as I'd like, I'm afraid," replied Marietta sadly.  

They passed by Harry's compartment and Cho looked into the window for a moment.   She heard Ron Weasley's voice say, "Hey Harry," and saw him nod his head towards the window.   Harry's eyes met hers; she felt herself turning red and quickened her pace slightly.   Once she and Marietta had reached their compartment, she sank down in her seat and covered her face with her hands.   The way Harry had looked at her… ever since he had come back from his last encounter with the Dark Lord, he had changed.   He didn't even blush when she made eye contact with him like he used to.   He seemed older, more mature, and in the process of this rapid growing-up, he seemed to have forgotten all of his feelings for her.   Not that she was supposed to care; she had Michael now.   But still…

"Cho?   Are you listening?"

"Hmm?   Oh yes, I was just a little dazed for a while, that's all,"

"Yes, well, anyway, like I was saying…" was all Cho heard before she drifted back to her thoughts.   She really had fancied Harry a great deal, but she didn't really blame him for giving up on her.   After all, she was the one who was constantly crying all over and starting rows with him.   She sighed and came back to reality to listen to Marietta before her friend got too suspicious and started to ask questions.

End flashback

            Cho walked across the street to Flourish and Blotts, buried in her supply list.   She looked up briefly to make sure she didn't bump into the wall instead of walking into the entrance and entered the shop.   Immediately, a shop assistant came up to her and asked, "Hogwarts?"

            "Yes," she replied, "seventh year,"

            "Ah, yes.   This way, miss." He said, gesturing for her to follow him.   He led her through various aisles in the store, pulling a book down here and there and then finally handing her the medium-sized pile of textbooks.   She brought them over to the counter, paid for them, and thanked him.   This was the last of her shopping for the day and her mother had said that she didn't need to be home until 1:00 that afternoon.   It was 11:30 now and, stepping out of the cool shop into the warm street, she decided that she would stop by Florean Fortescue's for an ice cream.  

            Once she had ordered a small sundae and settled herself down in one of the tables, she took the opportunity to glance through her list again to make sure that she hadn't forgotten anything.

            "Let's see," she muttered, underlining the text on the parchment with her finger.

            "Hey!   Cho!   Over here!" called a voice.   Cho abruptly looked up from the paper and searched wildly in the crowd of passersby to find the owner of that voice.   Her eyes finally rested on Michael Corner, who was on the other side of the parlor, waving frantically at her.   She forced a smile and halfheartedly waved back.   However, none of this seemed to douse any of Michael's enthusiasm and he immediately began to make his way towards her table.

            "Hey," he finally said when he had taken the seat beside her.

            "Hey," she replied, the fake smile still plastered on her face.

            "I missed you this summer," he said, stroking her cheek.

            Cho almost cringed at his touch.   "Er, yeah, I missed you too," she lied quickly.   "So how have you been?"

            "Oh fine, I had a really good summer, how 'bout you?"

            "Great, never better," she lied again, widening her smile into a sort of painful and obviously unnatural grimace.   Again, Michael didn't notice her strained nature and feigned happiness to see him.

            "Good, good," he replied.   "So listen, I-" he started before being cut of by someone yelling out his name.   He looked around, as Cho had earlier and saw one of his friends signaling him to come.   He replied, "Coming!   Just give me a minute!" and nodded his head toward Cho.   "I hate to run out on you like this, but I promised Jake I'd help him ask out this Hufflepuff.   I'll see you later, 'kay?"

            Cho nodded and, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek, he headed off to meet his friend.   When he was out of sight, she exhaled deeply in relief and dropped her phony grin.   Checking her watch again, she finished off her sundae, picked up her bags and purse, and started off down the other side of the street to window shop a little before she had to go home.   She glanced at the plain as well as dressy robes in the window of Madam Malkins' and decided to walk in, even though she had stopped growing ages ago and already had good school robes.  

            "It never hurts to have an extra set of dress robes," she reminded herself as she walked in, reveling in the cool and comforting breeze that she felt as she opened the shop door.   She walked around, feeling some robes every now and then and examining the different materials.   When no other robes had caught her eye, she turned to leave and, as she opened the door, ran straight into someone and dropped all of her purchases.

            "Oh!" she said, startled.   "I'm so sorry, it was my fault,"

            "No, don't apologize, it was mine, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going," the boy replied, bending down to help her pick up her things.  

            When she had then all safely secured in her arms, she thanked him and for once in a long time, smiled a genuine smile.   As she looked at the boy, she saw that his face was vaguely familiar; he had fiery red hair that had been tamed into a very attractive spectacle, freckles, friendly blue eyes, and was rather tall.  

            "He must be on one of the Quidditch teams at school," she thought to herself as she noted his strong build and muscled arms.

            He cleared his throat and she realized that she had been gaping at him for a few minutes now and blushing, looked away.  

            "So… I guess I'll see you at school?" she asked once she had regained her composure.

            "Yeah," was all he said before he smiled, making her go slightly weak in the knees, and walked away towards a brown-haired girl and… Harry Potter…

            Cho felt her heart beating in her throat as she watched the boy and she realized who he was: Ron Weasley.   How could she have not noticed him before?   Well, in all honesty, she had, but she paid more attention to Harry and, well, Ron just looked different now.   Instead of just being tall and awkwardly skinny, he had become well built and a bit more handsome and to top it all off, was still very tall.   Shaking her head to clear it of these thoughts, Cho turned her attention to Harry.

            The summer seemed to have been hard on him.   He looked more sickly and thin than ever, but, like Ron, had at least developed a bit of muscle.   She felt tears pricking the corners of her eyes as she watched him, but forced herself to hold them back.

            "That's what drives boys away from you, remember?" she told herself bitterly.   Checking her watch once more, she found that time had flown by faster than she had anticipated and that it was 12:48.   Making sure she had everything, she tore her eyes away from the Dream Team and prepared to Apparate back home.   It had been a long day…

************************

            "RON!   You'd better get up now or else we'll leave you all by yourself at home!" threatened Mrs. Weasley, her shouts carrying all the way from the kitchen up to Ron's room.   Upstairs, in the blazing orange room, Ron turned over in his bed and hugged the bedclothes to him tighter, taking no notice of his mother's calls.

            "Ron!   I mean it!   Don't make me come up there!" she yelled again as everyone in the kitchen covered their ears and winced visibly.

            "Honestly Mum, why don't you just put a howler under his pillow instead?   No need in blasting out the ears of the early risers," complained Ginny.

            Mrs. Weasley ignored her daughter's comment and continued to fly around the kitchen, cleaning the dishes and packing lunch at the same time.

            "Could someone go and wake him up?" she finally said a few minutes later, exasperated.   "I've got my hands full right now and he needs to get changed and eat something before we Floo to Diagon Alley,"

            "I'll go do it, Mrs. Weasley," volunteered Harry.

            "Why thank you dear, I appreciate it," she replied, giving him a warm smile that he returned.

            "Oy!   Ron!" he yelled once he was in Ron's room.   "Get up!   Your mum's about to skin you alive!"

            Ron mumbled incoherently and turned away from Harry.   Harry shook him violently before prying Ron's fingers off of the sheets one by one and pulling them off of him.   Suddenly, he was struck with a brilliant idea and, leaning over Ron carefully, positioned his fingers just right and then proceeded to tickle him ferociously.

            Ron's eyes flew open as he almost choked with laughter.

            "Stop- stop it," he gasped out in between laughs.

            "I will if you promise to get up," said Harry, dodging Ron's long legs as he thrashed about and tried to kick him.

            "I-I-I pro-promise," he said, his voice slightly hoarse.

            Harry stopped and then went over to Ron's dresser, pulled out a pair of khaki pants and a dark blue T-shirt and threw them at his friend.  

            "Hurry up before your mum goes nutters," warned Harry.   Ron nodded and waited until the door closed to get out of bed and change out of his pajamas.   He rubbed his eyes after he had gotten dressed and yawned before turning to the mirror on the back of his door.   Getting a comb and a container of gel off of his dresser, he ran the comb through his hair after applying a little gel to it until he was satisfied with it, opened the door and rushed downstairs.

            "About time," said his mother when he appeared in the kitchen and motioned for him to sit down and eat the food she had saved for him.   He did so and gladly consumed the entire plate-full in a matter of minutes, disregarding the fact that it was cold.

            "Come on now, let's go," said Mrs. Weasley when he was finished and whisked away his plate before handing him the flowerpot full of Floo powder.   He took some, threw it into the fire and stepped into it, yelled Diagon Alley very clearly and was soon followed by Harry and the rest of the family.

            Once they were there, they brushed themselves off and set down the crowded street.

            "You want to go see Fred and George?" Ron suggested to Harry after a few minutes.

            "Sure," he replied.

            "Mum, we'll meet up with you, Dad, and Ginny in a bit, okay?" said Ron.

            "All right dear, keep out of trouble," said Mrs. Weasley before she said, "Oh Arthur really!   Don't give me that look.   I promise we'll get you a rubber duck later, but not now, we need to do school shopping!" and steered Mr. Weasley and Ginny through the crowd toward a shop.

            "Come on," said Ron, shaking his head and walking towards the corner shop that said "Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes" in big bright letters above it.   Ron and Harry approached the door and walked in.

            "Hey Lee, how are you?" said Harry, spotting the Weasley twins' old friend behind the counter.

            "Good, you?"

            "Fine," Harry replied.

            "Where are Fred and George?" asked Ron.

            "Oh I don't know," said Lee lightly, "just look around, I'm sure you'll find them somewhere,"

            "Thanks a lot," said Ron sarcastically before starting to search through the crazily arranged shop.

            "Hello Harry, nice to see you again," said Fred when they had finally found them in the back of the store, testing some new products.

            "You too ickle Ronniekins," said George, punching Ron playfully in the shoulder.  

            "Yeah?   You have a funny way of showing it," grumbled Ron from the floor, as his legs had been magically stuck together.

            "Hey, it's not our fault you came in our testing area without asking first." Said George.

            "Yeah, you didn't think we'd let our experiments be non-protected did you, little brother?" added Fred, casually waving his wand and freeing Ron's legs with a glare from the victim.   The twins exchanged glances and shook their heads in mock exasperation before continuing with their tests.

            "So what are these exactly?" asked Harry, holding up a bag of dirt-colored pellets.

            "Ah, that is for us to know and you to find out when this goes on sale," replied George.

            "After we test it, of course, which we have to do right away if we're going to stay on top so, it was nice seeing you and we hope you'll come again soon!   Bye!" added Fred, shooing them out of the room.

            Ron rolled his eyes and said, "C'mon Harry, let's go see if we can find Hermione.   Obviously, we're not wanted here,"

            Harry snorted derisively before nodding, following Ron out of the shop, and giving one last wave to Lee.

            Once they were outside, however, they decided that the best way to find Hermione was to split up.

"I'll meet you across the street from Madam Malkins' in about half an hour, okay?" said Harry.   Ron nodded and so, Harry went to the left and Ron went to the right.   Ron really wasn't in a hurry; he walked nonchalantly past each large display window, pausing every now and then to look at something that caught his eye.   He looked around in Flourish and Blotts, thinking that Hermione was most likely going to be in there and came up empty-handed, so to speak.   After a quick trip to Quidditch supplies store he was about to walk past Madam Malkins' Robe Shop when the door opened and he ran into someone, causing her to drop everything she had in her arms.

            "Oh!" she said, clearly surprised at this sudden collision.   "I'm so sorry, it was my fault," she added.

            "No, don't apologize, it was mine, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going," he replied, and with that he bent down to help her pick up her belongings and bags.   She thanked him, smiled, and then, for the first time, looked him straight in the face.

            "Wait," he thought to himself, "isn't that Cho Chang?"

            As he looked closer he realized that it was Cho and that she was… staring at him.   He cleared his throat uncomfortably and she seemed to realize that she had been gawking at him because she quickly averted her gaze to the floor and colored slightly.

            "So… I guess I'll see you at school?" she said after a few minutes.

            Still slightly confused, he said, "Yeah," smiled, and, spotting Harry and Hermione, walked towards them, feeling Cho's eyes lift from the ground to follow his every move.   Hermione held out her arms and gave him a warm embrace before saying, "How was your summer?"

            "All right," he replied, his thoughts still on Cho's bizarre actions.   When he finally looked back at Madam Malkins' she was gone.

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A/N: So, that was the first chapter!   Now that you've read, please be kind enough to review and you'll receive my personal thanks and replies in the next chapter.   I would send you gifts of money, but as nobody's reviewed yet and I'm broke, that doesn't work out too well… oh, and I'm sorry this chapter seems a bit sluggish, I promise the pace will pick up in a little while.   So?   What are you waiting for?   Review already!   Okay, sorry, I'll stop harassing you. J