Cedric made his way over to the bar, smiling at Cho where she chattered with her friends across the dance-floor. He couldn't seem to stop himself from smiling – his date with Cho was going wonderfully, he hadn't tripped over his own feet while dancing, and he couldn't feel excitement swirling in his stomach. She was busy now, and instead of listening to her conversation, which, if Cedric knew anything about girls, would be about him, he'd decided to get a Butterbeer, and have a quick look for Harry Potter.

With that objective in mind he craned his neck to see over the crowd, but gave it up as a bad job – the crowd was simply too dense, and while Harry's hair made him rather distinctive, he wasn't tall enough to really stand out.

Clutching two Butterbeers Cedric stepped down from the bar, but froze where he stood – he could see three members of his 'fan club' approaching, and, rightly or not, he was in no mood for it tonight.

Thinking quickly he ducked behind Professors Moody and Sinistra, and weaved his way through the forest of tables. Most people were on the dance floor at this point, except for one redheaded girl who sat with her back to him, nursing one of her feet. Guessing whom it was, Cedric strode over and said, "Is this seat taken?"

She seemed surprised at the question, but nodded, smiling up at him. Her shoes were on the floor beside her, but though she looked very well, there was no trace of a partner. He sat down quickly, putting one hand up to shield his face from any attention.

"Are you having a good night?" Ginny asked.

Cedric grimaced as he saw the girls walk past, clearly aggravated he had eluded them. Ginny's eyes followed them, and she giggled at the sight.

"Don't," he said, "They might hear and come back."

He pushed one of his Butterbeers over to her, and she accepted it gratefully, as he said, "So, what happened to your feet?"

Ginny sighed, blowing a strand of hair out of her face. "Neville happened. I mean … he really tried, he's just not the most … coordinated."

"He's in your brother's year, right?"

"Yeah … don't get me wrong, he's really nice, just … I'm only in third year."

He nodded. "Where is he now?"

She sighed resignedly, though with a trace of a smile on her face, "Oh, he tripped on some spilled Butterbeer – Madam Pomfrey took him up to fix the bruises. I don't think he'll be long. Anyway, how come you're not with Cho?"

"How did you know about that?"

She looked incredulous. "You're a Champion – I mean, even if the gossip hadn't spread it around already, you were up on the High Table."

He laughed and said, "Sorry. She's off with a few friends of hers – I think I'd be a bit in the way. You know the way girls get."

Ginny was scanning the crowd as she said, "Yeah. I wonder where Hermione's got to? She said she'd come over but … well, maybe she got distracted."

He suddenly felt a little sorry for her – she was the only third year he knew of who'd come to the Ball, and he couldn't help but think she might feel a little lonely. He looked up to see if Hermione Granger was anywhere in view, and saw Cho waving at him from across the hall. Struck by a good idea he looked at Ginny again and said, "Can you do me a favour?"

She smiled. "Of course."

"Dance with me?"

Her jaw actually dropped, and she stared at him as he continued, "I want to get back over to Cho, but I'd also like to avoid that crowd that just went past, so …"

Ginny laughed, and bent down to pull her shoes back on. "All right," she said, "Though I can't believe you're scared of a bunch of girls … They only want your autograph you know – and maybe a lock of your hair."

He looked at her levelly, and she burst put laughing. "All right, I'm joking."

Cedric stood up, and offered her his hand with a bow. She took it, smiling at him, though he thought he could see a trace of embarrassment in her eyes, which only intensified when one of the twins whistled at them. Still, he did actually know how to dance, and so he was able to swing her around quite confidently, and without stepping on her feet.

They had reached Cho and her friends by the end of the song, and she seemed to know what he'd had in mind, for instantly she introduced Ginny to her friends, who seemed to accept her quite easily. Within moments she was discussing the Quidditch World Cup with a dark-haired fourth year, and Cedric was able to dance with his girlfriend.

Cho grinned at him as he put his arm around her and said, "That was really nice of you. She looked a bit lonely."

Cedric shrugged, trying to look as though it didn't matter, as though hearing her say those words in such a loving tone didn't affect him, and said casually, "Well, she's a nice kid."