Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Summary: Sequel to "Five Years Is an Awful Lot of Later." After much stalling, Ginny goes on a date to Hogsmeade with Harry. Fifth year AU, fluffy, mild teenage angst.

Author's Note: This story was begun in July of 2002 and finished in February of 2005. As such, it's not particularly compliant with OotP and HBP, though I incorporated scattered pieces of OotP canon after that book was published. The story is thus a sort of grandfathered AU -- the split point is Dolores Umbridge's death sometime before the end of GoF. No Umbridge means no Dementor attack on Harry and Dudley, which means that Harry and Ginny did not interact that summer. It also removes a significant source of stress from their school life.

As always, thanks to my betas: Lasair, Miss Cora, and Quetzle. Any remaining canon goofs, grammar mistakes, continuity errors, implausible characterizations, bad dialogue, boring passages, and Americanisms are my fault, not theirs. Also, this story was previously published on Astronomy Tower at FictionAlley -- I've tweaked it a little, though, becauseI am a compulsive editor. :-)

Finally, I dedicate this story to Molly Kirkpatrick, who will have no idea why (nor is she likely to read it). Without her, however, it would not exist in its present form. She gave my sister the strangest ideas sometimes...

First You Have to Get There: Chapter 1

Of Interrupted Dreams:

"Ginny. Ginny, wake up."

Ginny Weasley, face firmly pressed into her feather pillow, said something that sounded rather like "Hmmrgmph."

The voice came again. "Ginny, wake up! It's Saturday, you're going to Hogsmeade with Harry. Get up!" A disembodied hand shook her shoulder roughly.

Ginny rolled away, hugging the pillow. She was having such a lovely dream about Harry -- he'd agreed to go to Hogsmeade with her and they were walking along the path to the village, hand in hand. He was smiling at her and she knew that in another minute he'd stop and they'd kiss, and then -- well, she wasn't quite sure what would come next, but she definitely wanted to find out.

"Ginny! Wake up, you dozy cow! You're going to Hogsmeade with Harry Potter, you have to meet him at breakfast, and you look like a hag!" The hand ripped her quilt back while another set of arms yanked the pillow out of her grasp.

Ginny woke with a start. "Oi! Stinking toad-licker -- give that back!" she yelled, scrabbling for her lost pillow; Apple Rumluck smiled and held it just out of reach. "I was sleeping!"

"Exactly," said Susan Ward, owner of the previously disembodied hand. "You were sleeping. Now you're not. You're hauling your lazy arse out of bed, washing up, and letting us make you beautiful. You are going to Hogsmeade with Harry Potter. Remember?"

"Oh God," said Ginny. She sat up and ran her hands through her tangled red hair, fingers catching painfully on the knots. "Oh God. Help."

"That's what we're here for!" Susan grinned and grabbed Ginny's hands, her blue eyes glittering in a way Ginny found distinctly unsettling. "Up you get!"

Ginny stumbled and nearly collapsed as Susan jerked her upright, but Apple grabbed her right hand from Susan and the two girls steadied their sleepy friend. "You're going to look so pretty when we're done with you, Harry won't know what hit him," said Susan. "Right, Apple?"

"Of course. Come on, Ginny -- stand up," said Apple.

Ginny found herself being dragged to the showers despite her incoherent protests -- which her friends cheerfully ignored. This was going to be a horrible day. She knew it. She just knew.


Of Kissing:

After the trauma of the shower and the beautification -- Ginny had fought Susan tooth and nail, trying to convince her friend to restrict her attention to clothing and jewelry, but she'd eventually resigned herself to curled hair, delicately outlined eyes, and rose lip gloss -- Ginny sat cross-legged on her bed to receive advice from Susan. Susan was an old hand at relationships, having been with Danny Park, the best-looking of the fourth year Gryffindor boys, since Christmas holidays last year.

She spent several minutes explaining the proper way to flirt -- how to give an alluring glance, how to casually brush against a boy's leg while sitting next to or across from him, how to speak in double entendres and subtle hints, and how to make a boy feel intelligent even when he was being bloody stupid. Apple listened from her bed, plaiting and pinning up her frizzy hair. She occasionally interrupted to remind Ginny that these tactics were all part of an elaborate game and the only way to build a solid relationship was to be herself.

"As Susan really is that frivolous, she's being herself all the time. But that isn't you," said Apple.

"Hmph," said Susan, leaning back against Ginny's bedpost. "So if I'm being useless here, Ginny, tell me what you really want to know. I have to have some relevant experience -- if I don't, Danny will suffer."

Ginny looked down, flushing. There was only one thing she really wanted to know -- she was sure even if she tried to follow any of Susan's other advice, she'd only forget it -- but it was so childish. And embarrassing. Nevertheless...

"Howdyoukissim," she mumbled.

Apple stifled a snicker. Susan merely looked puzzled. "Come again?" she said.

Ginny's face grew hotter. "How... how do you kiss a boy?" she asked. "You know. I've never -- I've never -- well, I haven't. Only my brothers, when I was little. And that's not the same."

Apple collapsed with laughter, burying her face in her pillow. Ginny glared at her. "You aren't helping," she said. Apple waved her hands helplessly in Ginny's general direction. Ginny sighed.

Susan grinned wickedly. "You've never kissed a boy? And this is news? You turned down Eugene, so the only boy you've done anything vaguely romantic with is Neville Longbottom! And he's -- well -- Neville."

Ginny nodded. "Yes, but how do you?" she asked. "I mean, I imagine and stuff, and once Sarah Peasegood and I practiced on a pillow, but how do I know if I'm doing it right? I know you know -- you and Danny run off to snog in classrooms -- don't say you don't, I might follow you and walk in on you if you do -- I did it to Percy, after all!"

Apple, who had almost recovered from her fit of laughter, made a peculiar choking noise and dove back into her pillow, dislodging several hairpins.

"Well," said Susan, sitting up and shaking her blond hair back, "it's really very simple. You wait until the time is right -- you either just know when that is, or you take a chance because he's being a bloody idiot. It tends not to make much difference; boys aren't about to refuse a pretty girl who wants to kiss them.

"Anyway, you tip your head to the side a bit -- he does the same in the other direction -- and you kiss. On the lips, of course. Press firmly -- but not too hard, unless you've kissed before or you're both overcome by passion." Susan grinned. "Then you can open your mouth a little, maybe lick his lips, touch his tongue, or let him into your mouth. But that's mostly for later, when you know each other better."

"Touch his tongue! Eww."

"Don't mock what you haven't tried," said Susan. "It's quite fun, actually. Come to think of it, you'd better try that on Harry today and fix your little problem -- you're far too innocent for your own good, you know."

Ginny chucked her pillow at Susan. "I am not! You're the one who has a problem -- you let Danny Park lick the inside of your mouth and you slobber all over his lips! Eww. I just -- eww. I don't want to think about it."

"Aah, shut it. What do you know, anyway?"

"Many things," said Apple, sitting up with a sly smile. "For example, I know the human mouth is astonishingly dirty and full of disease; you'd be more likely to get an infection from a human bite than a dog bite. How often does Danny brush his teeth, Susan?"

Ginny squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "I did not need to know that. I didn't need to hear any of this. Oh God, this is going to be horrible."

Susan swatted her with the pillow. "Stop whinging. You've been going on for days about how horrible the date will be. You went on for days about how Harry would laugh at you for asking, too. And did he laugh? No he didn't. Will today be horrible? No it won't. You may think Divination is all malarkey, but I tell you, I've seen your future and your future is good." Susan grinned and hauled her friend upright. "You know I'm always right. Even about kissing. Now stop being such a toad-licker and get down to the Great Hall.

Ginny walked out of the room, feeling disgruntled and slightly nauseated; behind her, she could hear Susan cheerfully lighting into Apple. At least those two were having fun.


Of the Fascination of Marmalade:

Harry, Ron and Hermione were already sitting at the Gryffindor table when Ginny reached the Great Hall. The ceiling showed a cheerful blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds, which Ginny felt was quite inappropriate for the day. She ventured over to the trio.

"Good morning, Ginny," said Hermione, patting the seat next to her. "Toast?"

"Thanks." Ginny sat and began spreading marmalade on two pieces of toast. Ron was shoveling kippers and sausage into his mouth while Harry picked at a helping of scrambled eggs. Ginny studied her toast, spreading the marmalade in a perfectly even layer exactly one quarter inch thick -- she picked out the rinds.

"So, what d'you want to do today?" Harry asked suddenly, setting his fork aside. "Should we all stick together?"

Ginny looked up hopefully. "I don't mind," she said.

"Nonsense," said Hermione, hastily swallowing a mouthful of pumpkin juice. "You two don't need us hanging around, particularly not one of us," -- she stared pointedly at Ron, who blinked -- "and I'm sure Ron and I can find something to do without you."

"Oh. All right then," said Harry. "Ginny?"

Ginny mumbled her agreement and returned to her toast and marmalade. The rest of breakfast passed in silence -- Ron occupied with his kippers, Ginny and Harry picking at their food, and Hermione shooting long-suffering glances at all three of her friends.

Finally Ron cleared his plate and sat back with a long sigh. Hermione pressed her lips together firmly and managed to wait all of thirty seconds before standing and saying briskly, "Right then. Let's be off, shall we?"

"But I just finished," said Ron.

"Irrelevant. Get up. Don't you want to get to Honeydukes before the crowd buys all the good sweets?" Hermione reached across the table and grabbed his hand, pulling up and forward so hard he almost crashed into his greasy plate.

"All right, I'm coming, you don't have to kill me," Ron muttered balefully, and hurried out of the hall after Hermione. Ginny and Harry trailed after, not looking at each other.

This was not starting out well.


Of Conversational Quidditch and the Hazards Thereof:

They continued not speaking until halfway to Hogsmeade, when Harry suddenly stopped and turned to Ginny. "This is silly," he said. "If we're out together we ought to at least talk to each other."

"Oh. Yes." Ginny fingered the cuffs of her blouse. Her mind was curiously blank, as if she were so afraid she hadn't the mental capacity to be consciously afraid anymore -- nervousness had become a sort of elemental state she occupied.

"So what do you want to talk about?" asked Harry, brushing his hair from his eyes, where the wind kept tossing it. He looked so wonderful in the morning light, Ginny thought, with the sun shining through his hair like a halo around a dark angel. And his eyes were certainly heavenly, though he did his best to hide them with his horrible round, thick-framed glasses.

Those eyes regarded her oddly, and she realized she'd been staring. "Er, it's a lovely day," she said hastily. "Very nice weather for autumn."

"Yeah," said Harry. He began walking again.

"I suppose it's good for Quidditch," said Ginny.

"Yeah, it's great," said Harry, lighting up slightly. "Except Angelina makes us get up nearly as early as Oliver did, and it's never this warm at six in the morning. Ron should be grateful he didn't make Keeper; maybe whoever's captain next year will be sane."

"He's better at Chaser anyway," said Ginny. "Bill and Percy are the only ones of us who were ever much good at Keeper. Ron and I always got stuck playing Chaser at home, Bill and Percy were Keepers and Chasers, the twins were Beaters, and Charlie would fill in wherever -- we cheated about the Bludgers, but we couldn't use a Snitch, of course. Charlie used to have to play Keeper after Bill left for Egypt, and he was awful at it. Sometimes the boys even talked Mum into joining in, but only until Ron and I were old enough to play properly."

Harry was staring at her, eyes wide with astonishment. "You play Quidditch?"

"Er, yes?" said Ginny, surprised he didn't know that already. "Only not much anymore. It seems silly, winning and losing and chucking balls around. I'd rather just fly -- have fun, you know."

"Oh," said Harry. He seemed about to say something else, but didn't. He walked forward in silence.

Ginny wondered what she'd said wrong. She hadn't thought she could go wrong with Quidditch. Harry and Quidditch, perfect together.

And what was he on about anyhow, with his "Maybe whoever's captain next year will be sane?" He'd be captain. Did he honestly think anyone would pick Gwen Davies over him? She was a year behind him and this was her first year on the team. And he was Harry Potter, best Seeker Hogwarts had seen for years, youngest to make a house team in over a century, and, well, Harry Potter, for God's sake. Who did he think he was fooling?

"What?" said Harry.

Ginny blinked. "What do you mean, what?"

"You said something, but I didn't catch it," said Harry. "I'm sorry; I should have been paying more attention." His green eyes were huge, pupils contracted to points in the bright morning sun. Angel eyes. Magic eyes.

Very dangerous eyes, Ginny told herself firmly -- don't look into them! "It wasn't important," she said. "I was just thinking."

"Oh." Harry shoved his hands into his pockets and walked on, kicking aimlessly at the dusty path. He looked so normal, as if he weren't perhaps the only hope of defeating the Dark Lord. It wasn't fair that he couldn't just be Harry -- he had to be Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, whose business was everybody's business whether he wanted or not.

It wasn't fair that he was so gorgeous.

"I was just wondering about something you said," Ginny blurted before she could rationalize and stop herself. "You said maybe next year's captain would be sane. But you're going to be captain. You'll have five new players and the only other person continuing is Gwen. There's no question.

"So why did you say that?"

Harry looked genuinely surprised; his mouth opened slightly and he didn't answer for several seconds. "I don't know," he said. "I never thought about it. Why would anyone make me captain? I don't know what to do!"

"It can't be that hard," said Ginny. "Charlie managed, after all, and he's awfully daft. And he was a Seeker, so it's not just Keepers and Chasers who can manage. You've been playing four years now -- you must have watched all the drills."

Harry gaped like a beached fish. "But..." he said, and trailed off. He tried again. "But who would listen to me? And I'd have to schedule things, and order people around, and..."

Ginny couldn't believe this. She'd long suspected Harry was a bit funny in the head for willingly hanging around with her brothers, but this was too much. "Look here," she said firmly, interrupting him. "You're Harry Potter. Of course they'll bloody listen to you. And you can so organize things and give orders -- if I can, anyone can -- and before you ask, I order people around in Herbology and Potions. And if you're ever lost for strategy, you can ask Ron. Or me."

Harry closed his mouth. "Oh," he said. "Er, right." In an obvious and rather inept attempt to change the subject, he asked, "Do you think you might try out next year? Since we'll need three Chasers and all?"

"Maybe, but I doubt it," said Ginny. "I do out-of-class work for Professor Sprout -- you know, like Neville -- and that takes a lot of time. Plus I'll have to study for the OWLs."

"Oh. Pity, that." Harry shoved his hands back into his pockets and fell silent.

They continued towards Hogsmeade, Ginny silently cursing herself for treating Harry like one of her brothers. It must have been his eyes, she thought. Her mouth slipped from under conscious control when he looked at her -- but usually it did things like squeak embarrassingly, not tell him off. Perhaps the dying fish expression had caused her strange reaction.

Yes, it must have done. Nobody could look sexy while imitating a gasping fish. Not even Harry.


AN: Thanks for reading, and please review!