DISCLAIMER: As always, I don't own any of the characters I have written about below. I have no legal claim to Harry (darn!) or anyone else who appears in my short story. Each of these delightful characters was created by the most brilliant author I've read, none other than J.K. Rowling. Oh, I did make up the Knotters all by myself, unless they're in something J.K. Rowling wrote that I haven't read yet. A/N: This is H/G pairing and a little bit of R/Hr pairing. Duh. What other pairings are there? This is my first Harry Potter fan fiction. I made the characters as canon as I could. I hope I got them right and I hope you like it. :) I also wrote this before "The Order of the Phoenix" came out, so this is slightly AU.

Red-Headed Diversion By Jeannette Hetfield

At that moment there was a diversion in the form of a small, red-headed figure in a long nightdress, who appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal, and ran out again.

"Ginny," said Ron in an undertone to Harry. "My sister. She's been talking about you all summer."

"The Chamber of Secrets", Chapter 2: The Burrow, Page 35

Christmas was coming up very soon and luckily, so was a visit to Hogsmeade. Ginny wasn't sure what she was going to get for her brothers yet, or her parents or Hermione. There wasn't a pile of money to spend either, but she had been saving up some over the last few years, limiting her spending for every other Hogsmeade weekend that came around. So far, she had managed to only buy butterbeer while with her friends and was quite proud of the restraint she showed no matter how tempting Honeydukes looked as well as the numerous shops displaying beautiful dress robes she could only drool over outside the windows in the street.

Ginny stopped thinking about the Hogsmeade weekend. She was much too busy at the moment. Today was Saturday and that meant there were no classes, but Ginny was still busy working. Hagrid had mentioned in the last Care of Magical Creatures class that his garden was getting a bit overrun with Knotters-large brown weeds that when pulled, the roots twisted together into a tightly knotted ball. They were almost impossible to pull out because they didn't want to be pulled out. Dragon hide gloves were just about the only things immune to the sharp twigs of Knotter heads that slapped away hands if anyone got within a foot to de-weed.

Ginny had volunteered to help him.and she had been the only one. The Knotters had become a nuisance to all of Hagrid's classes and the only choice was to de-weed, lest Malfoy complain about them again, so Ginny had heard. Hagrid was working a few feet away, not bothering with gloves and was ripping them out a lot faster than she could. He had about ten Knotters bunched up in his hands and ignored the pesky plants as they slapped at his legs. She, on the other hand, had only managed to pull out three.

"You'd think," she said, gripping with both hands and planting her feet firmly, "That these blasted things would have died from the cold already. I mean, this entire garden is covered in snow."

"Nah, they love cold," he said, ripping out another one and adding to his pile, "Thrive in it s'matter o' fact."

"That figures," she grumbled.

Her grip on the weed tightened. She was going to get it out or die trying. With one last almighty tug, she felt the weed give, as well as her feet, which were currently slipping on the snow. Ginny came down hard on her behind onto the cold, soggy ground.

"Oof!" she grunted, little spurts of pain shooting up her back.

"All righ' there, Ginny?" Hagrid stood over her, beetle black eyes full of concern. He reached out a hand, grabbed her by the shoulder and hoisted her up off her feet a little, then gently set her back down.

"Yeah, I'm okay," she said, brushing off the dirt from the back of her cloak. "I only broke my tailbone, is all."

Hagrid chuckled and cuffed her roughly on the shoulder. She stumbled forward, but managed not to trip. "Well, at least you got tha' root out o' the ground."

"At least," she agreed with a sigh, handing the Knotter over, which was busy slapping at her hands. "Stop it!" she yelled, slapping back and only too glad to get rid of it. Maybe volunteering hadn't been such a good idea.

Laughing and shouting pulled her attention away from the abusive plant. A group of seventh year Gryffindors was in the middle of a big snowball fight not far from Hagrid's hut. In less than a second, her mood had gone from bad to worse.

The cause for her recent string of bad moods was among the laughing students. Harry Potter. Well, that wasn't entirely true. Just halfway. Part of it was hers too, mostly because she kept longing for something that just wasn't meant to be. Harry would never look at her in any other way except as 'Ron's little sister'.

At the Burrow this past summer after Harry had arrived to spend the last two weeks of the holiday with them, everything went surprisingly well. She was sixteen now and her feelings were easier to hide. Everyone believed her crush on Harry to be gone all because of superb acting skills. No one would believe that she'd ever blushed like a radish every time Harry came within a foot of her. Nope. There were no more elbow-in-the-butter-dish incidents.

The truth, however, was something only Ginny knew. The crush was gone, yes, but it had been replaced by something deeper. So deep in fact, that is scared her a little bit. The main root of her fear was easy enough to answer. Harry would never reciprocate those feelings and she was frightened of what that meant for the future.

Would she always pine away for something she couldn't have? Would life pass her by while Harry found someone else, still oblivious to her feelings?

Ginny was almost certain the answer to these questions was 'yes'. Harry wasn't even aware she existed, except as a Weasley sibling. That was the hurtful truth of the situation and like it or not, nothing could be done to change it. She had tried hard for years to suppress her feelings, but it was hopeless.

With a depressed sigh, she pushed up the sleeves on her blue jumper with a big gold "G" on the front and grabbed her hair, twisted it up and shoved her wand through it to hold it up. At the same time, red sparks shot out of the wand tip and bounced off the behind of Hagrid.

"Watch it!" he cried, straightening up from having been bent over pulling up a root.

Her hands covered her mouth in surprised embarrassment. "Oh, Hagrid! I'm so sorry! Are-are you all right?"

"Yeah, nothin' t' worry 'bout. Jus' a little singed, is all," he reassured her, chuckling a little.

Ginny closed her eyes. "Can this day get any worse?"

Yes, it could. Because when she looked up, Harry was staring right at her, hand frozen in midair to launch a snowball. He must have seen the entire thing. To her shock, he wasn't laughing, but looking concerned actually. Was that concern? It couldn't be. Why would he be concerned about her in the first place? He must be looking at something beyond her. The forest perhaps. Maybe there was a werewolf or something lurking at the edge.

"Well, so much for not embarrassing myself," she mumbled.

She had been ready to keep pulling up the Knotters, but her heart wasn't in it anymore. She was tired and a bit scratched up from fighting off the slapping weeds. Her bottom was aching from having just landed directly onto it moments ago. Besides, Harry saw that little accident and now that he knew she was over here, she didn't think she'd survive much longer without causing some other catastrophe.

"Hagrid?"

"Hmm?" He looked up and flicked away the thorny weed that was attempting to pinch his hand.

"I think I'll stop for now, if you don't mind. I'm a little sore from that spill earlier and I'm just.tired. Busy week," she explained wearily.

"'Course I don' mind. Get back up ter yer common room and rest up a bit." She saw him glance behind him at the still raging snowball fight and then back at her. He took one enormous step and was instantly beside her.

She wondered what was coming because he looked like he was going to say something he didn't want anyone else to hear. He placed a hand on her shoulder, making her feel like someone had strapped a rock onto her back.

"Good things come t' those who wait, Ginny."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, brow furrowed.

His eyes jerked to the side, apparently indicating whatever it was behind him. She had to lean pretty far to the side to see around him and find out what he meant. And her eyes landed on Harry again, who had rejoined the snowball fight.

"Oh, that," she whispered.

"Yes, tha'," he said, nodding.

Apparently, she wasn't the only one who knew about her secret feelings. Or scratch the 'secret' part. There wasn't a secret anymore. Hagrid knew. Hermione probably did too, come to think about. Ron didn't know, but he didn't count because he would be too dense to notice anyway. Harry, especially, didn't know because in his mind, there wasn't anything for him to know.

"He'll come 'round, Ginny. Just you wait."

"I've been waiting, Hagrid, and it's becoming very depressing," she said weakly, pulling off the dragon hide gloves and handing them to Hagrid.

"I never said waiting wouldn't be. I just said those good things are comin'."

She smiled despite the sadness she felt. "Thank you, Hagrid."

He nodded and let go of her shoulder. She felt herself rise up off the ground a bit and then she turned, intent on getting back inside the castle to the dormitory. There she could work on some much needed studying for a Charms exam that was coming up next week.

Snow crunched softly under her worn tennis shoes as she neared the main entrance. Just as she was about to step inside, however, something slammed into the back of her neck and she took a very ungraceful step forward to keep from falling, reaching out for the castle wall. Something cold and wet slid down underneath her clothes to chill the skin on her back.

Little clumps of snow were caught in her hair and melting into the material of her cloak. Someone had just thrown a snowball at her. Must have been Ron, that great annoying prat of a brother.

She turned away from the castle entrance to tell him off and stopped in her tracks. It wasn't Ron, after all. No, it was the very last person she would have expected that stood a few feet away, red in the face and a looking a little ashamed.

"Harry?" she managed to squeak.

~ ~ ~ ~

He didn't know why he did it. What had just possessed him to pelt her in the back with a snowball? Thinking back, it had all begun with the snowball fight Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan had started. No, that wasn't true. It had actually started once he sat down next to Ron at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.

Like everyone else, he'd gotten up this morning, grateful that the weekend was finally here. Even though there was Divination homework that needed finishing, he could put it off for now. Besides, he was quite the expert in thinking up dramatic ways to bring about his death. He could complete Trelawney's homework in about ten minutes.

Once he'd filled his plate, he concentrated very hard on getting the food from his plate to his mouth. Every morning for the last couple of months since term started, he'd been having clumsy moments, food smeared across his cheek, porridge dribbled down the front of his robes.the list was getting longer, and all because of.her.

Hermione was sitting across from them, nose in her Arithmancy book, but she appeared to also be listening to Ginny, who sat next to her. They chatted quietly together with Hermione throwing Ron a few annoyed looks. Something had obviously happened before he came into the Great Hall. Another row, most likely; something that occurred more often than not these days where Ron and Hermione were concerned. Harry wished they'd just open their eyes, or Ron at least. Hermione was no doubt aware of the situation. Ron, on the other hand.well, he needed a good whack in the head with a broomstick. That was what Ginny had told him last night after Hermione had gone up to the girls' dormitories in a huff about something and Ron had looked at her as if she had gone mad.

He shook his head to rid the thoughts of Ron and Hermione and settled onto more important things, the pretty red head currently creating a diversion for all his motor functions. Nothing seemed to work right when he was around Ginny.

And since when did he care so much about a girl he barely knew? Why did he feel starved at each meal when she smiled at some joke of Ron's, causing him to dump mash potatoes all over his robes? So what if her hair held every shade of the rainbow when the sun poured over the long, fiery strands? So what if the freckles that spread across her nose like sprinkles was the cutest thing he'd ever seen?

None of these things should matter. He rarely ever spoke to her in the first place, but when he arrived at The Burrow this past summer and seen Ginny, something had just seemed.felt different.

He had arrived with Mr. Weasley and when he stepped into the kitchen, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were in front of the stove, apparently preparing dinner for the large number that would be at their table tonight; Hermione had arrived the day before. Bill and Charlie were there too.

Harry, of course, was relieved to be there, amongst people that he knew loved and cared about him and Ginny had done something he'd never expected from her. She smiled at him. Just him. Little did she know how much effect that smile had had. It was beautiful and exactly what Harry had needed.

Summer at the Dursley's had been worse than ever and that smile had suddenly made everything go away. No longer was he in a home where people ignored and insulted him. No, he was in home with his most favorite people in the world and with a pretty girl who smiled at him because she was happy to see him there.

Since then, Ginny was constantly in his thoughts. So was that beautiful smile.

Yet, what could he do about it? How would he handle himself? Ginny couldn't know, not yet at least. Besides, he worried about her family and what their reaction would be if they ever found out. He wasn't sure they'd approve, especially Ron. Would Harry's best friend think he was taking advantage of his little sister?

There was another horrible truth Harry had no choice but to consider. Voldemort. Were Harry and Ginny ever to become what Harry so desperately wanted them to be, Voldemort would surely discover that.and use it to his advantage. Harry was then transported back to his second year and to Ginny's unconscious form laying on the floor the Chamber of Secrets. A repeat of that horrible day scared him to death. He never wanted to see her like that again. Hurt and frightened.

Though he hadn't felt about her then the way he did now, that image had still haunted him. She was a Weasley, his best friend's little sister and the girl he.fancied. A lot. If anything happened to her, it would be his fault and it would devastate the Weasleys.

Harry brought his mind back to the present and watched her now, struggling to de-weed Hagrid's garden. Every so often, she glanced longingly at the snowball fight, but kept on pulling the weeds. As he watched, not really paying attention to the snow currently melting into his gloved hand, the sun suddenly broke through a small gap in the clouds and spilled over the garden she and Hagrid occupied. Golden rays cast over her mop of hair, creating a coppery shade. Her long locks resembled something Harry couldn't quite put a name to, but then, it came to him.

A sunset. Her hair looked very much like a sunset. It was really pretty. Ginny Weasley had once again, created another diversion-not that that was a bad thing, but his occupation with her hair kept him from the snowball fight and he might be missed. Ron might notice, he thought worriedly.

Just then, she yanked a Knotter out so forcefully, she fell backward and landed hard on the ground. He snorted a bit, trying not to laugh at the shock on her face. It shouldn't be funny because that had to hurt.

Then she caught his eyes and her face fell into a frown before she looked away. Did she think he was laughing at her? Because that's not what he was doing. He didn't have much time to think more about it because someone called his name. Ron. The prat. Couldn't he see the torture Harry was going through? Probably not. All Ron saw these days was Hermione, though he didn't know it yet.

Harry resumed battle and the Seeker reflexes, which were very useful in a snowball fight, kicked in. For a little while, he had fun laughing and actually enjoying himself, dodging everyone else's attack.

In the distance, he saw Ginny heading back to the castle, slowly as if she were carrying something heavy, though she held nothing in her arms.

His feet began to move as if someone had placed a charm on them and moved them without his consent. He knew he couldn't do this, shouldn't do this, but now that it had started, he couldn't walk away. She looked depressed and he felt compelled to change that.

When he got close enough, he wasn't sure whether to call out to her or.and suddenly, his arm was launching backward and he threw the snowball at her back, much harder than he had intended. She stumbled forward and caught herself by sticking her hand out against the castle wall.

Ginny turned, eyes blazing and mouth open, apparently to tell him off, but just as quickly, the fire died and shock replaced anger.

"Harry?" she cried agape.

"U-uh.I-er," he stuttered, unable to complete a coherent thought out loud. "I didn't m-mean to-well, yes, I did mean to, but I didn't." He sighed with frustration. What was suddenly wrong with his ability to speak? "What I mean to say is.I didn't mean to hit you so hard."

"Oh," she said, shock still plainly on her small face. "Well then, why did you?"

"Throw it so hard?"

"No." she said, smiling a little now. "I meant why did you throw it in the first place?"

"Uh.well because, you know," he said. Then he rolled his eyes. Apparently, his brain could no longer properly function either.

"No, I don't," she said, grinning and revealing pretty white teeth.

"Because it's Saturday. You shouldn't be stuck inside," he was finally able to explain.

"I'd love to, but I've an essay due Monday," she said frowning.

"I've got homework too, Divination, but that's not going to stop me. Come on, Ginny."

She hesitated and looked over his shoulder, at the others he assumed. "Okay. Sure."

His heart thumped wildly in his chest. What was he doing? It had to be obvious. Ginny didn't seem to notice though, as they walked back to where the fight was still raging.

"Girls against boys. We're now officially enemies," he informed her.

She giggled and he was suddenly a lot warmer. Even though Harry had come to despise the giggles occasionally directed at him, it sounded entirely different coming from Ginny. He wanted her to do it again.

"Ginny! Thank goodness! We need all the help we can get!" Hermione said excitedly, grabbed Ginny's hand and pulled her over to the girls' side.

Then followed a massive fight. The boys fired snowball after snowball into the group of squealing girls, but the girls fought back, pelting stomachs and noses.

Ginny, Harry noticed, had a good arm and quite an accurate aim, hitting Ron in the face more than once. He wondered if she had ever considered trying out for the Chaser position.

She laughed hard while Ron was digging snow out of his ear. Harry found he was laughing too, as it was unusual for Ginny to be so exuberant whenever he was around. It was as if she didn't even remember Harry was there, and as this thought drifted through his mind, his stomach unpleasantly flopped over.

What if Ginny didn't like him anymore? She and Harry had never said more than ten words to each other in all the years he had known the Weasleys, but the few times they had spoken recently, he didn't recall a single blush and certainly no more knocked over bowls of porridge or elbows in butter dishes.

And if her feelings had changed, what could he do about it? Because they weren't really friends, he couldn't just go talking to her like they were. That wouldn't do at all. It wasn't for lack of trying, but when he finally worked up enough courage to talk to her, his mouth seemed to freeze shut and his palms got very sweaty.

He ducked suddenly, narrowly missing a snowball aimed for his face. Ginny seemed to be rather fond of that particular target. She stood on the girl's side, face red with laughter at him. She never laughed like that, rather, she never laughed like that around him. He wanted to hear more.

He stared intently into her eyes, dropping all pretenses. Foolish of him, really. Harry hadn't wanted her to know.or had he? It was too late to do anything about it now. She stared back, cheeks flushed, firey hair sticking out in all directions, free now of the knot she had used her wand to make.

Had Ginny always been so pretty?

Harry didn't get to think much more about this because his supposed best friend had apparently defected.

"Harry, hasn't got hit yet and that's just bloody wrong!"

"Aw, is 'ickle Ronniekins tired of losing to his little sister?" Ginny asked, sticking out her lower lip in a pout.

Harry quickly suppressed the sudden desire to march right up to her and bite that lip.

"Oh, shut up," Ron muttered, red in the face, either from embarrassment or being hit in the face with snow. "As I was saying, it's not fair Harry's still dry as a bone and we're wet and freezing to death. I'd say it's time he gets what's coming to him."

"Ron!" Hermione warned. "I don't think that's very-"

But whatever Hermione was about to say, they never found out because she shrieked in outrage at the snowball now donning her front. Everyone laughed, including Hermione, whose cheeks were now pink.

Ron laughed. "That's the most you've been silent all morning, Hermione!"

Her eyes flashed dangerously, but Harry saw the grin she was fighting.

"As I was saying-" he said again, Ron drew back his long arm and Harry looked down in shock at the snow currently decorating his robes.

"Hey!" he cried in mild indignation.

But Harry wasn't able to say much more because everyone ganged up on him. He threw his arms over his head in an attempt to shield himself. It didn't do much good though, as there were too many Gryffindors closing in, so Harry grabbed the nearest thing to cover himself, which happened to be Ginny.

"Harry!" she cried, half-screaming and half-laughing as the snow flew towards them. Though she was the innocent party in all this, it seemed they were bound and determined to pelt Harry, Ginny or not.

She turned toward him, attempting to shield her front, but stumbled. His hands shot out and came into contact with her small waist to keep her from falling over. In turn, she grabbed hold of the front of his cloak.

And in that moment, she looked up and he made the mistake of looking down.

Her brown eyes shone with laughter and her cheeks were bright pink. The smile on her face faded quickly and the laughter disappeared. She stared hard into his eyes and he stared right back, suddenly allowing her to see what he had been trying to hide for so long.

Her eyes widened and he heard the soft gasp of breath come through her mouth and tickle his face. He could see it in every corner of her expression: she still liked him and Harry couldn't stop himself.

He smiled down at her; a true smile, something he hadn't truly done in a long time. Ginny gulped audibly and stepped back, this time slipping successfully on the snow. Harry, who was still holding onto her waist, toppled forward and right on top of her.

Time slowed down and he forgot about all his classmates that were standing around them. He couldn't look anywhere else but her face and for almost a second, he lowered his head, dropping his gaze to her lips. Was he really going to do what he was thinking about doing? In front of so many witnesses?

Suddenly, he pushed back roughly away from her and onto his feet, feeling as if he had touched something that burned him. Had anybody seen? They had to have seen! It was too obvious to have missed, but everyone was laughing at them. Apparently, Harry falling on top of Ginny was funny enough to distract everyone from noticing the heat that flooded both their faces, nor the way he had just stared numbly into her eyes.

There were two people, however, that had noticed.

Ron was staring at him, eyes narrowed and mouth open in what was the most calculating look Harry had ever seen on his face. Harry quickly averted his own eyes and then looked at Hermione, who was struggling not to smile. Now Hermione knew, being the clever witch she was, that something important had just happened for Harry. She looked at Ron, who had taken a step forward towards them.

Harry panicked. What was Ron going to do? Tell him off in front of the entire Gryffindor house? Hit him? Harry wondered briefly if he could stun his best friend, but decided against it, as it would only delay the inevitable.

But then, Hermione took care of everything. She had a handful of snow and plowed it into the side of Ron's face. He cried out in surprise and shouted, "Bloody hell! What was that for?"

"Honestly! You did it to me. Now we're even."

"Yeah, but I didn't throw the snow directly into your ear!" he argued, once again digging snow out of his ear.

Hermione tutted, but glanced quickly at Harry. The look in her eyes gave him an uneasy feeling. He knew she wouldn't tell anyone, but that's not what was bothering him-Harry was worried she would try to talk to him about Ginny and what he should do about it when he wasn't even sure what he wanted to do.

Yet again, he was saved from another embarrassing situation when Ron suddenly tackled Hermione, who shrieked as she fell backward into the snow. Harry took the distraction as an opportunity to right the wrong.

To his shock, Ginny was still sitting in the snow and he worried she might get sick and it would be his fault. He offered his hand and she slipped her small one, which was freezing, into his gloved one and pulled her up. She mumbled her thanks and turned to leave.

Harry wanted to move, but his legs weren't listening. He didn't want this to be the end. He wanted to talk to her when everyone wasn't paying attention, when he could have her to himself. He wanted her to know that she wasn't as unimportant as she believed herself to be. Finally, his feet obeyed him.

"Ginny, wait."

She stopped and turned around, waiting.

"I'm sorry," he blurted out.

"I beg your pardon?" she asked softly, confusion clouding her pretty, freckly face.

"For falling on you."

"Oh." She looked away and continued. "That's okay. It wasn't your fault in the first place. I tripped."

He nodded. There must be some way to keep a conversation going with a girl you've never talked to before.

"Are you okay? I saw you fall before, in Hagrid's garden. You're not hurt are you?" he said, the image of her falling in his mind, making even him wince.

"Oh," she said again, "That. Er.yes. I mean, yes, I'm fine. It hurt, of course, but it went away. Thanks for asking."

"I wasn't laughing at you."

"What?"

"When you fell. I wasn't laughing at you. If it seemed like I was, I wasn't because I wouldn't laugh at you.and I wasn't laughing," he said, expelling a loud sigh. Not only was he embarrassing himself, but now repeating every word three or four times more. To his surprise, she laughed.

"I didn't think you were laughing at me. I know you wouldn't," she said quietly.

He smiled. She believed him. "So.what are you thinking about?"

"Actually." she said slowly, biting her lip in thought as if wondering whether she ought to answer his question. "Actually, I was thinking about how I always used to knock things over or fall down in front of you. I hadn't done that in a long time until today."

She blushed and looked down at her feet.

"Well, it'll be a secret between me, Hagrid and the Knotters." Ginny giggled and Harry thought he could definitely get used to hearing that sound, especially if he was the cause of it. Feeling suddenly inspired, he hurried on and took another step closer to her. "Ginny, would you-if you don't want to, I'll understand, but I was wondering.would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me next time around?"

She stood and stared at him in stony silence, expressions of surprise and fear frozen on her pale, yet red-cheeked face. Harry felt everything begin to come crashing down around him. Why had he opened his big mouth? He obviously misread her. She didn't want to come with him.

"Yes!" she shouted, and then more quietly, "Yes, Harry. I'd love to go to Hogsmeade with you."

He grinned and breathed a sigh of relief and felt like whooping for joy, but restrained himself. No need to make an arse of himself so early on in.whatever it was they now had.

"Great," he said simply. "Let's go back. I'm freezing and I know you must be since you nearly drowned in snow back there."

She laughed. "Yeah, no thanks to you."

"Hey!" he said in a tone of mock anger. "You said it wasn't my fault!"

"Did I? I don't recall."

He opened his mouth to retort, but got a mouthful of snow instead. Little bits of the white stuff flecked his glasses and he rubbed the lens clean, while spitting out the snow. He gave her what he hoped was a dangerous look and got the desired effect.

Ginny took off running for the castle doors with Harry following close behind. He slowed a bit though when the torchlight from the doors she was opening caught her hair and created yet another diversion of gold, reds and oranges. He stared at it and wondered vaguely what it would feel like in between his fingers.

It was all the opportunity she needed to pelt him in the shoulder with another snowball.

"My goodness, Harry! You're losing your touch, I think."

"You think so?" he whispered dangerously, coming closer to her and grinning when her eyes widened in surprise as he turned the tables.

"Um." she stuttered and nervously looked anywhere but him.

He took advantage of her distraction and snuck in a handful of snow. Without giving her any kind of warning, he dumped it onto her hair and enjoyed her squeal of surprise.

"Harry!"

"What?" he asked, feigning innocence. She was about to reply while shaking out her soaking hair, when he caught sight of Filch at the top of the stairs. Filch wasn't looking at them, but Harry knew they'd be caught soon enough for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

"Filch," he whispered. She froze and risked a glance over her shoulder, then she returned her attention to Harry, waiting to see what he suggested they do. He was about to lead them back outside when to their luck, a loud bang from a far off distance distracted the caretaker. Filch went in the opposite direction they needed to go in, yelling, "PEEVES!"

"That was close," he said, breathing another sigh of relief.

"I'll say." She clasped her hands together and blew on them.

Harry had a better idea. He took one of her hands into his without a word and led her all the way back to Gryffindor Tower without incident and only released it when she disappeared up the stairs that lead to the girls' dormitories.

~ ~ ~ ~

Ginny felt like she was about to faint. Harry had stared at her, and not just because he was lost in thought and he didn't know what he was looking at, but a real stare that left her palms sweaty and her stomach feeling like it was being walked on and then dropped from the highest tower at Hogwarts.

Had Harry really taken her hand? Of his own free will? Had what she always wanted just happened? No answers were forthcoming just yet and she wasn't expecting a revelation anytime soon.

She sat in the middle of her bed with the curtains drawn because she couldn't face anyone just yet, especially when she had no idea what to do. Her thoughts were so scrambled, she felt as if a Confundus Charm had hit her in the head. She needed time to herself, if only for a few minutes. The rest of the girls would probably come filing in to change their clothes after being outside in the snow for so long.

Hermione would be heading for the sixth year girls' dormitories, even though it wasn't her dormitory anymore, after she was finished flirting with Ron. Ginny screwed up her nose. Thinking about Ron flirting with anybody was a bit gross, even though she hoped Ron would come to his senses soon-he was becoming irritating.

"Ginny?"

Speak of the-"Yes, Hermione, I'm here."

The corner of Ginny's bed curtains opened a few inches and Hermione's face appeared in the slit. "You okay?" she asked, watching Ginny closely.

Ginny opened her mouth to say 'yes', but all that came out was: "No."

Hermione pulled the curtains wider apart and she sat down on the edge of the bed.

"So," she said, a tiny little grin on her face.

"So what?" Ginny said, though she knew full well what her friend was thinking.

"Glad you joined the snowball fight."

"Yeah, it was fun, thanks," she nodded, fidgeting with the buckle of her shoe.

"Don't thank me. I didn't invite you."

"Oh.yeah.right."

"So." she said again.

"Isn't it funny how many times we say the word 'so'?" Ginny said offhandedly.

"Yes, I suppose so," Hermione agreed, "But you, Miss Weasley, are changing the subject."

"All right! All right!" she snapped. "Harry invited me to join your snowball fight then fell on top of me and gave me this-this really intense look and then flirted with me and I didn't know he knew how to do that and then he held my hand outside and didn't let go until we got all the way back up here where he then invited me to go to Hogsmeade with him and I said yes!" she said all in one breath, heart pounding now as she got everything out in the open.

"Did he?" Hermione said in a would-be-surprised voice, but she didn't act surprised.

"What? Don't tell me you.you knew he'd ask me?" Ginny asked in shock.

"Well, I didn't know. I only suspected. You know Harry would never talk about this, least of all with me, and especially Ron. He clams up about his feelings, like always."

"Yes, I do know. I know better than anyone," she said quietly.

"So he asked you to go to Hogsmeade with him and you said yes. Ginny, that's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!" Hermione said excitedly.

"Yeah, it's great," she said, unable to muster any enthusiasm.

Hermione frowned and leaned forward towards Ginny. "You don't sound like I thought you would sound. Aren't you happy?"

"Yes," she said quietly, remembering the warmth of Harry's hand holding her own, "Honestly, I am."

"But something is bothering you," she said, scooting further onto Ginny's bed and folding her legs underneath her.

Ginny shrugged. "I don't know what's wrong with me. It's something I've always wanted, but now that it seems like it's actually going to happen." she trailed off, unable to finish.

"You don't know what to do or what to expect," Hermione said for her.

Ginny nodded. "Exactly." She rolled her eyes at herself. "Stupid, isn't it?"

Hermione smiled softly. "Not at all. It's quite understandable. This wasn't something you expected to happen and now that it has, where do you go from here?"

"You read me like a book, Hermione. Not surprising, but fitting. You love books so much," Ginny grinned and then groaned, putting her face in her hands. "What will I do, Hermione?"

"Ginny, I can't tell you what to do. You have to decide that for yourself. It will come naturally, especially since we're talking about you and Harry. Two people couldn't be more suited for each other."

"Like you and my brother, eh?" Ginny smirked.

Hermione went pink. "I thought we were talking about you and Harry."

"There is no me and Harry."

"Not yet, but it'll happen soon," she said confidently. "You'll be snogging in the common room late at night before too long."

Ginny's mouth dropped open in shock. "Hermione!"

"Well, I mean, this was bound to happen sooner or later, Ginny," she said sensibly. "You might not be sure of what to expect, but I wouldn't worry about that too much. Like I said before, you and Harry belong together. I feel it. Everything'll turn out okay."

Ginny thought back to the smiles and the way Harry had looked at her.

All of that had been very real. She hadn't imagined it. Harry had acted of his own free will. He'd noticed her on his own without any prodding from anyone, and the thought of what would happen tomorrow, when she saw him again and the day after that and the day after that, still was a little scary, but she wasn't going to worry about it.

Hagrid had been right. Good things do come to those who wait. She'd been waiting a long time for Harry Potter to come to his senses and take a good long look at her, but this was Harry. He had been worth the wait.

Fin