Chapter One - It's Been Awhile

And it's been awhile
Since I could hold my head up high
And it's been awhile
Since I first saw you
And it's been awhile
Since I could stand on my two feet again
-
It's Been Awhile, I don't know the artist.

In first, second, and third year, boys were cute and fun to look at. In fourth and fifth year, boys were great to date. And in sixth and seventh year, boys were the scum of the earth.

And all those times when mum told me, "Oh, Gin, it's alright - it gets much, much better"? LIES. Every single one of those things women told me, how I'd settle down sooner or later, how I'd find a proper, respectable young man to share my life with who wanted me for who I was: LIES! Because here I am, 23 years old, with NO husband, NO boyfriend, NO respectable young man. NOTHING.

And this is why mum saw it fit to put me into a dating clinic.

As I pace around my (well, my mum's) kitchen, looking at my mother with wide, unbelieving eyes, I try to listen to her as she tells me her reasoning behind this appalling decision. Putting ME, her ONLY DAUGHTER, into a dating clinic.

"Why, mum?" I practically shriek. "WHY?" Maybe I'm being over dramatic, but the whole thought kind of unsettles my stomach.

"Ginny, stop being such a drama queen," she tuts, calmly smiling at me. "It's a sweet little clinic called Red Roses. It's for women and men between the ages of twenty and thirty three. It's like an apartment complex, except every day there are new activities on how to meet people."

"You want me to move into an apartment complex where they hook us up?"

She shakes her head. "No! I want you to meet someone! You haven't been with anyone since..."

"Mum," I whisper pleadingly, not wanting to hear the name.

"Well, it's true!" she continues. "You can't do it on your own, you don't like the boys I set you up with, so this is your final chance."

"My final chance?" I repeat incredulously. "I'm only twenty-three! I have time! I'm not even close to living like Mrs. Brumsely with the fifteen cats!"

"Let's not wait till you become Mrs. Brumsely, then," My mum says, chopping carrots for some soup. "You have two options, Ginny dear. Either you move into Red Roses and meet a boy, or you live on the street."

"Mum!" I shriek, for real this time. "What are you saying?"

She stops chopping and looks at me closely. "You have been living under my roof for twenty three years. It's about time you move out. I'm willing to pay for your boarding at Red Roses, if you decide to go. If you don't, you'll have to get your own place with your own money."

Nice, mum. Real nice.

As I sink lower into my chair, I can hear the low humming of "here comes the bride" from my mum's lips.

--------------

"So she's kicking you out?" Hermione asks, folding baby clothes on top of her stomach and staring at thank-you cards. She's eight months pregnant and recently had a baby shower. I smile; the memories were to die for, and the gifts... so cute! I only wish I could have bought her a pink or blue baby outfit, rather than a yellow one. Hermione is set on not knowing her baby's sex.

I nod slowly. "She said either I go to Roses, or whatever the fu-"

"Ginny, don't!" She whispers, putting her hand over her stomach.

"-dge it's called, or get kicked out onto the street. Lovely, ain't it?"

She shakes her head, looking on her inventory list and crossing out 'Harry Potter - Harry Potter rattle, Harry Potter baby mobile, Harry Potter plush, Harry Potter pacifier, Harry Potter inscribed bottle...' "Well, that's ridiculous. Ginny, if you don't want to move into Roses or whatever, I'm sure we have room here." I look around; her extra room is now used as a nursery. Her bedroom is stocked with suitcases (ready for whenever she has to run to the hospital) and nick-knacks. I look down at the couch as a last resort, but find it's worn, covered with baby clothes, and too old that my sleeping weight might murder it. My heart sinks as I shake my head.

"You don't have room for me, 'Mione," I sigh. "Besides, Ron would hate it."

"Oh, no he wouldn't!" Hermione tuts, crossing out Lavendar Brown's name on the thank-you list.

Ron sticks his head out from the kitchen and yells, "Oh yes I would!"

I roll my eyes. "Nice to know you're always there for me, Ron."

Ron grins cheekily and steps back inside the kitchen. I sigh and turn to Hermione, who looks up at me for the first time all morning.

"Gin, maybe it's not all that bad," Hermione reasoned, smiling.

"Have you read the pamphlet, Hermione?" I ask, beginning to dig around in my purse for the pamphlet.

Hermione shakes her head. Got it! I pass her the pamphlet and she smiles at the cover. It's a picture of Red Roses - a beautiful mansion. I must admit, it is gorgeous, but I'm completely against everything it stands for. She turns to page two and lets a gasp tumble out of her mouth as she gapes at the page.

"Wow, it's in California... You leave on Monday? Gosh, that's soon, and you leave by portkey, that's odd... Daily hot tub parties... Five minutes in Heaven - HOURLY? Is that - oh, gosh, this place should be reported for prostitution..."

I nod. "And it gets worse. Turn the page."

She obliges, and then screams. "WHY THE BLOODY HELL WOULD THEY SHOW A PICTURE OF TWO PEOPLE DOING - THAT - ON THEIR PAMPHLET?"

At this, Ron seems to perk up. "Where? What?"

Hermione gives him the death glare, but otherwise ignores him. "Honestly, Gin, has your mum seen this pamphlet?

"Oh, she's seen it alright. She has high prospects of me marrying the man on page three."

Hermione shakes her head again. "Ridiculous."

I nod. "Exactly. And there's no way to get out of it."

"Look at the bright side, Gin," Hermione says with a smile, "At least the man on page three is hot."

"Hermione!" Ron calls, causing me to smile and begin giggling.

--------------

It's Monday morning, and I begin packing my things. I should have done this ages ago, but was too much in denial. I kept telling myself "Oh, no, mum will come in and change her mind," or "oh, maybe Ron and Hermione will install a new room just for me." But, needless to say, neither happened. I look around my closet for some clothes to bring with me to Red-Friggin-Roses. I take a quick peek into the pamphlet to see what the women seem to be wearing. Alright, it's in California, which... I'm guessing is hot? So that means no to the winter coats, then... It seems like a place where there are quite a few parties, so I take out my black, blue, green, and red dresses from their dusty places in my closet. A few pairs of jeans, some tee-shirts, and a few dressy shirts as well, a few pairs of shoes and I'm good to go. I look at the suitcase; it's about a thousand pounds. Sighing, I mutter a spell to make it light as air. Ah, the joys of being magically inclined.

"Okay, mum, I'm ready," I call carefully, walking down the stairs slowly. I'm half-expecting my mum to bust into tears, to have a goodbye party waiting for me at the end of the stairs, but I see nothing. "Mum?"

I walk around, looking for any sign of life. Nothing. "Muuuuuuum? Dad? ...Anyone?"

Oh, how nice. Not only does my mum kick me out of my house, but she also doesn't even say goodbye. This is bloody insane! Dropping my luggage, I walk back up the stairs and knock on my mum's bedroom door. "Mum? MUM?"

NOTHING. This isn't right! I'm their only daughter and they don't even want to see me off!

I burst the door open and find a note waiting for me on my parent's side table.

Dear Ginny,

Sorry about this, but we had to go shopping for a few things. Owl us when you're there, alright? Love you dear.

- Your loving parents.

"Loving parents my ass," I mutter, slamming the door. I go back downstairs and grab my luggage without another look back.

--------------

"WEEEEEEEEEEEELCOME TO RED ROSES!" A sickeningly sweet voice screeches at me as soon as my head stops spinning. Honestly, they should really learn how to fix the after-effect of Portkeys. I look up at the woman whose voice just yelled at me: She's blonde, tall, blue-eyed, and gorgeous. How do they expect us normal people to get dates when they have people like her lurking around?
"Er, hi, I'm Gi-"

"Ginevra Weasley, yes of course! I could spot your red hair from a mile away, that I could! Hey, Joey, look at this girl's hair!" She smiles, calling over her shoulder to a man named Joey. He comes over, as hyper and bubbly as the blonde, and gasps.

"If only they could bottle that, right, Joey?"

The man nods. "I love redheads," he adds suggestively. Okay, ew.

"Uh, right, where do I put this stu-"

"Oh, your bags, of course!" The blonde cuts me off again, smiling. I feel like punching that smile right off her face, but it won't shut up enough to let me hit it. "You can just go right on into the main hall, go to the girl with blonde hair named Brittany, and find out what room you're in! Okay? Okay!"

I grind my teeth as I walk into the main hall, looking around. All around me, women in the uniform red dress are blonde. Oh, it should be really easy to find one girl named 'Brittany' in this bunch.

Maybe someone who's not blonde and doesn't seem to work here knows where I should go. I look around for a normal-looking person, but can only find a man with black hair, his back turned to me. Seems normal enough.

"Excuse me," I say, tapping him on the back. "I'm looking for -"

He turns around, and I practically scream.
"HARRY?"

His eyes widen. "GINNY?"

WHAT. THE. HELL?

"...HARRY?"

He blinks, his adam's apple becoming large. He takes a minute to compose himself and smiles frigidly. "It's been awhile."

Author's note: SHORT! I'm sorry :) I had more but it just fits in chapter two better. Feedback? Reviews? yes, please!