Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of its contents, and I'm not making any money off this.
A/N: This is a redrabbled version of the extremely old story, 'Not So Bad.' Proceed with caution.
The snow's covering all the signs, and everything looks the same.
Ginny has no idea where she is anymore. It's her first Hogsmeade visit, and the second she bent to tie her shoelace her friends flittered off. They're supposed to meet up in one hour, but Ginny has absolutely no idea what she's going to do with that other sixty minutes. Probably figure out where the Shrieking Shack is – the place they're going to meet – and park herself there for a very cold and lonely wait.
She feels vaguely like she's walking in circles and stops to hold her mittens up to her mouth, trying to trap in some warm air. For two years all she's heard about is how wonderful Hogsmeade is. She was looking forward to coming here almost as much as she used to look forward to attending Hogwarts. Now it feels just as confusing and foreboding as Hogwarts first did, even though it's a fraction of the size. Ginny's in the middle of a snowy square, and she pauses, attempting to find her friends again, peering in all the windows.
She does catch a glimpse of a red and gold scarf, attached to a shaggy black head. Ginny's grin almost splits her face. She takes off into the old looking Quidditch shop, nearly tripping over herself in her attempt to get to the door. She slows down and attempts to look cool as she gets closer, of course, approaching the ladder with a deliberately casual stroll. When the boy on the ladder doesn't immediately look down, Ginny clears her throat.
She smiles up at him; Harry climbs off the ladder. He isn't wearing his robes like she is; he's down to a thick Muggle jacket, cutely too big for him, like most of his clothes. She chirps, "Hey. ...It's my first weekend." Because she's sort of proud of it. He grins at her, like it's something to be proud of.
"That's neat. Are you having fun?"
Ginny says, "I'm lost," before she can stop herself. Then she feels her cheeks light up; that sounds silly. But he just smiles and nods.
"Yeah, that can happen, especially when everything's all white like this. Where did you need to go?" Ginny doesn't know where his friends are, but he looks so earnestly like he wants to help that it makes her stomach flutter. She meant to just ask for directions, but...
Instead she asks, "How long will you be here?"
"Until six – then I have to meet Ron and Hermione at Zonko's. I've been thinking about buying myself a Quaffle, and I don't know what they're up to." Then he pauses, while Ginny's heart does a back flip. It'll be six in an hour. Harry scratches the back of his head, admitting sheepishly, "'Broke my watch in the willow last year, though, so I'm not exactly certain when that is..."
Instantly, Ginny says, "I have a watch." And she sticks her hand out of her robe, as though he'd dare disbelieve her.
Harry smiles. "Oh. Well, mind if I stick with you, then?"
Mind? Ginny shakes her head fast enough to give herself whiplash. He seems to be waiting for her to say something – maybe where they'll be going, but her throat has gone very, very dry. After a minute he seems to take that as a 'yes.' He steps out from the dusty wall shelf, offering, "Have you been to the Three Broomsticks?"
"No." But she's heard of it, and she'd very much like to go. He awkwardly sticks out his elbow – she's not sure if he's offering it or not. Either way, she quickly latches onto it, and she lets him lead her back out of the shop. Inside, she's aware she's being a little clingy. But once they get outside, once again tasked with fighting the wind, and now the falling snow, it's necessary. She keeps almost tripping in the snow banks, and he keeps almost catching her. She tries to thank him, but the wind whips her voice away. They walk a little ways to the Three Broomsticks, which is packed to the brim with jostling bodies.
Inside they take a seat near the back, and Harry shakes out his head, getting snow everywhere, like a dog, and making Ginny laugh. Ginny unties her robe; her uniform underneath is perfectly clean and dry. When Madam Rosemerta comes over to them (Ginny's heard plenty about her from Ron), Harry orders them two Butterbeers. Ginny pulls out her wallet, but Harry says, "It's alright, my treat."
Blushing, Ginny mumbles, "You don't have to do that."
But Harry insists, "It's my thank you for keeping me company." His bright, green eyes are making her stomach do strange things – he doesn't seem to understand how privileged she feels. As Madam Rosemerta shuffles away with a kind smile, he takes off his glasses and wipes the lenses off on his jacket, asking, "So... do you have a favourite Quidditch team?"
"Chudley Cannons," she answers easily. Then she adds, in a lowered voice, "But don't tell Ron. He'd have a heart attack, and I'm sick of his rants."
Grinning and slipping his glasses back on, Harry says, "I know how you feel."
Ginny laughs. Making fun of her brothers is something that comes naturally, but really, she can never be too mad at Ron – after all, he brought Harry into her life. On instinct, she counters, "And you? Do you have a favourite team?"
"Not yet," Harry shrugs, and she remembers too late that he lives with Muggles. "I've read up on a few, but I haven't really seen enough to make a choice... I'll say the Cannons for now, though, just out of loyalty."
"They are a good team. ...I mean, make your own choice, but just because they don't win all the time doesn't mean they don't deserve to – and don't let Ron's enthusiasm throw you off."
"I'll try not to," Harry laughs, just as two large mugs of Butterbeer are set down on the table, the white foam inside sloshing about attractively. Ginny can practically feel the warmth radiating from their beverages, and it's a nice change from the winter weather. She pulls her mittens off her hands and stuffs them in her pocket, tossing her red hair over her shoulder so as not to get it in the mug.
Then she mumbles, "Thank you," and reaches for a sip. As soon as she does, she can feel the heat spreading back throughout her body – it's sweet and smooth going down. When she's done she catches Harry wiping off a foam mustache, and she tries to suppress her giggle. He blushes at this, like he's embarrassed, but Ginny can't imagine why – Harry must know he's the most handsome and desired boy in Hogwarts.
And Ginny liked him even before all that, when he first said hello to her family on the train platform. Every time he comes to her house, it still gives her butterflies. Now isn't any different. She drops her hand under the table to check her watch as inconspicuously as possible – and she frowns at the time running out.
He asks, "What's wrong?" And she feels silly.
"Just checking the time."
"Oh. How long have we got?"
"Ah. ...Don't worry, we'll find something to do." She looks at him strangely, before she realizes he's misinterpreted; he thinks forty minutes is too long. With him, it isn't enough. If she could, she'd get a personal tour of the whole village.
Instead she says, "Okay," and smiles hopefully.
She expects to finish her drink in silence. But instead they start talking of Quidditch again – how much Harry misses flying over the summer, how he should come play at the Burrow with her, that story of the one time she broke Fred's nose with a Bludger. Somehow the conversation turns to teddy bears – Harry never had any, but Ginny got all of Ron's after the twins ruined them for him. She's done her drink before she's ready – she wants to keep sitting here with him.
The lights are sort of dim inside, and they're tucked away in the corner, just the two of them.
But they go back outside, anyway, wrapping back up against the cold. He just throws his scarf over his shoulders, and she says, "Here." She steps forward to fix it. She loops it once around his neck and knots it properly, feeling oddly maternal and blushing halfway through. His cheeks also get a little pink, but he just smiles and thanks her.
Then he takes her up along a little path. They pass a garish teashop with pink all over it, and Harry asks, looking hopeful that she'll say 'no,' "Do you want to try in there?" She shakes her head, and he visibly releases a sigh of relief, which makes her laugh. She asks the same thing when they pass the Hog's Head, and he says with a grin, "Ouch."
In the end they wind up in a sweet shop – Harry buys her a bag of Pepper Imps and some sugar quills and just says, "My treat." Even though she splutters and tries to stop him. Then they head for the Shrieking Shack – he's kindly offered to drop her off first.
She doesn't want him to leave.
She grabs his hand when he turns to, and she can feel that his fingers are cold even through her mitten. He looks back at her curiously, and she says, "Thanks for everything."
He says, "Thanks for keeping me company."
She isn't in Gryffindor for nothing. Her courage roars up in her when she isn't expecting it, and she bounces up on her toes to peck his cheek. He glows bright red.
Then her friends show up with a wealth of loud apologies, and he says, "Thanks," again before leaving.
She watches his back disappearing in the snowy fog, heart racing.