Author's Note: I've wanted to write my own version of a missing moment from Book 6 for a long time, but it was hard to find a concept that hadn't been done a hundred thousand times before. I don't think this one has been frequently written, however. It's the scene where Ginny visits Harry in the hospital wing after McLaggen knocks him out in the Quidditch match. I was curious to put my own spin on what she did there and why she went, which is where the H/G fluff comes in. Anyway, all of this (except for the scene with Ginny visiting Harry, which is entirely my own) can be found in Chapter 19 of HBP, "Elf Tails." All of the dialogue with Harry and Ron in the hospital wing at the end is taken from pages 415 – 417 (US hardback).

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Disclaimer: All of it is JK Rowling's; I just like to add my two cents.

Bloody McLaggen.

As much as her brother had been grating on her these past few weeks, she would have gladly traded him anytime for the thick-headed git who was Keeping in his place. Besides being one of the top ten most arrogant people she had ever met, Cormac McLaggen apparently believed he could play every position on the team better than any sentient being in existence. After he had shouted at Ginny for losing possession of the Quaffle—during which he had neglected the goalposts long enough to allow Hufflepuff to score—she began to lose what last threads of temper she had managed to keep hold of.

Swooping low to avoid a Bludger's assault, she called up at his broad-chested scarlet form, "That's it, McLaggen! We all resign from the team in favor of your talent! Clearly you could be a one-man Quidditch team—winning with one hand tied behind your back—while frying an omelet—and juggling kittens—"

McLaggen scowled. Harry, who was passing a few feet overhead (as he had just given McLaggen a piece of his own mind), laughed audibly. She smiled up at him, then pelted after the Quaffle, which was now flying back toward Hufflepuff's end.

Several minutes later, however, McLaggen had returned to playing his game of seeing-how-far-he-could-push-it-before-the-whole-Gryffindor-team-strangled-him.

"No, no, no—you're doing it all wrong! Did you see the pathetic back-spin that Bludger had? You never hit it overhand in a situation like that! God, it's a wonder you made the team! Give it here, I'll show you how it's done—"

And forcibly grabbing Peakes's bat, McLaggen proceeded to brandish it like a sword, evidently under the impression he was demonstrating the correct way to hit a Bludger.

This was the last straw for Harry, who had already yelled himself hoarse while telling off the conceited seventh-year. Furious, Harry zoomed down toward McLaggen, who was still energetically swinging Peakes's bat and ignoring the unmanned hoops.

"Will you give him back his bat and get back to the goalposts!" Harry roared, and just as he came up behind McLaggen, the club flailed backward, colliding with Harry's skull with a sickening crunch—

Ginny's stomach seemed to drop through a hole in her abdomen. Forgetting about her pursuit of the Quaffle, she jerked the front of her broom, changed direction in a heartbeat, and bolted toward Harry—his body had slumped—he was sliding sideways off his broom—

The crowd went up in a great shout of surprise and horror (and, she thought vaguely, delight from the Slytherin end), but Harry had only tumbled five nauseating feet before a timely Coote and Peakes dove beneath him, catching him haphazardly on their broomsticks. A piercing blast from Madam Hooch's whistle brought the game to a pause, but Ginny did not draw up and hover in midair like the rest of the players were doing. The crowd's noise only so much insensible clamor in her ears, she flew forward until she was right beside Peakes and Coote, who were maneuvering their brooms gingerly as they lowered themselves to the ground, carrying their captain between them. She sucked in a breath when she saw Harry's state: blood was oozing steadily from a lump at the back of his head, his eyes were tightly shut behind crooked glasses, and his face was pale, too pale—

"How is he?" she found herself gibbering, trailing Coote so closely she was almost right on top of him. "Is he—?"

"He's just unconscious," Peakes supplied breathlessly, as his trainers touched down on the grass of the pitch. Madam Hooch landed beside them and watched beadily as the two Beaters set Harry on the ground. In a businesslike way the referee checked Harry's pulse, opened one eyelid, tutted, and said, "It's the hospital wing for him, he's in no condition to play."

Immediately Ginny said, "I'll take him to—"

"No you will not," said Madam Hooch, looking affronted, "you've got a game to play!"

By now the rest of the Gryffindor team had landed and gathered around. At this they simultaneously burst into protests.

"But our Captain's down!" Demelza cried, looking scandalized. "Not to mention our Seeker."

"We can't possibly win!" Dean said indignantly.

"Be that as it may," Madam Hooch huffed, "the rules are the rules, and there's nothing that says the world has to come to an end when theCaptain gets knocked out by his own Keeper—"

It was then that Ginny was reminded as to the cause of this fiasco.

"You!" she spat, whirling around and jabbing a finger into McLaggen's breastbone. His face was shining scarlet, but he did not appear so much ashamed of himself as irritated at the interruption. "You did this! You hit Harry, you great idiot!" she snarled, now rampaging forward, so that he was forced to back up.

"I'm the idiot?" McLaggen fumed. "Yes, I'm the idiot, when he's the one that flies straight into my downward swing—if I'm an idiot, then what does that make him?"

Without conscious thought Ginny plunged her hand into her robes pocket for her wand, and this time McLaggen let an emotion other than superiority consume his features: he stumbled a few steps back, eyes widening fearfully. Her reputation as an accomplished jinxer must have spread.

She may have actually cursed him had Demelza and Coote not grabbed her shoulders and shook their heads significantly.

"Not now," Dean muttered, glowering at McLaggen, "save it for later, Ginny, then I'll only be too glad to help you hex him into a piece of belly button lint. . . ."

Luckily Madam Hooch didn't witness this near-fight, as she was busy conjuring a stretcher for Harry and levitating his limp body onto it. Ginny promptly forgot her impulse to punish McLaggen as she hurried back over to the referee.

"Madam Hooch, if I was quick, could I please accompany him—"

But she threw Ginny a scorching look. "Miss Weasley, I am perfectly capable of escorting Potter to the hospital wing myself. Now I suggest you get out there and play." In a raised voice, she called to the stadium at large, "The game restarts in three—two—one!" She gave a sharp blast of her whistle, and Hufflepuff eagerly launched themselves back into the air. The Gryffindor team followed suit less willingly, Ginny's ears still ringing with anger over what had just happened. Try as she might, she couldn't pry the image of Harry falling lifelessly from his broom out of her mind. . . . Her gut was clenched with rage. . . . McLaggen had ruined their chances of winning, and he had harmed Harry . . .

Bloody McLaggen!

Thirty minutes later, the game had come to an agonizing conclusion. The expression of smug triumph on Zacharias Smith's face as Hufflepuff carried the day was unbearable to behold. She resisted the temptation to shoot a good Jelly-Legs Jinx at McLaggen as they trudged their way back into the changing rooms. After listening without comment to her teammates' heated complaints about the turnout, she made up an excuse as to why she couldn't accept Dean's invitation to go to the kitchens for a butterbeer and then went directly to visit Harry.

Their loss didn't seem to matter so much when she rushed into the dimly lit infirmary and spied Harry at one of the end beds, his head wrapped in a turban of bandages, slumped on his pillows and still unconscious. Ron, still locked up in the hospital wing after his poisoning,was sitting up in the bed next to Harry, thumbing very halfheartedly through his Transfiguration textbook and staring down at a length of empty parchment, no doubt trying to get through some of the homework that had piled up over the course of his absence from lessons. When he spotted Ginny, he stuffed the parchment into the book and set it on his bedside table, looking relieved for an excuse to postpone work.

"Hi. Did Hermione just leave?" Ginny asked intuitively; she suspected that would be the only reason Ron would've been prompted to get a head start on homework.

"Er, yeah, she did. Just nipped in to make sure Harry's all right before she went off to study for an Arithmancy test. . . . Said she might come back in later to visit me—I mean him—the both of us." The tips of his ears turning a very interesting shade of pink, Ron glanced at the double doors hopefully, as if willing Hermione to stroll through them at that moment.

Ginny sat down in the chair beside Harry's bed, twisting her hands in her lap agitatedly. "And he is all right, isn't he?"

Her brother raised his eyebrows at the note of desperation in her tone. "He's fine, Ginny. Cracked his skull, according to Madam Pomfrey. You should have heard her go off on a rant about Quidditch-related injuries. . . . Sounded a bit like Mum. . . ."

"He hasn't woken at all yet?" she said, ignoring Ron's chatter.

"No. Well, he only arrived about forty-five minutes ago. You got here fast. I thought you would've still been firing jinxes at McLaggen?"

Ginny snorted. "Not for lack of wanting to. And how'd you know about all that, anyway?"

"Hermione told me," said Ron, looking indecently gleeful. "And I could hear the commentary from down here. Luna's probably the best commentator we've ever had. Outshines Lee Jordan, no problem."

Ginny tried to work her mouth into something like a smile.

"What's the matter with you?" Ron said, frowning slightly. "Well—besides the fact that you just lost the match because McLaggen's a total dimwit . . ."

"Oh—I'm just planning ways to make his life miserable in the future," Ginny lied. In truth her nerves were being eaten at steadily—why wouldn't Harry wake up? She focused her eyes on his ashy face, watching his chest pump slowly up and down. . . . Wake up, she begged silently. Just wake up. Wake up and look at me! I need to see you're all right. . . . Quite to her disgust, her eyes started prickling. On the pretense of scratching her nose, she managed to wipe away the tears hastily.

Ron was watching her closely, almost shrewdly. "You don't look all that angry," he pointed out.

Deciding a subject change was in order, Ginny said, "It wasn't a great match from the outset. I mean we started out okay, but McLaggen just messed everything up for us . . ."

"Mmm," said Ron, trying to force sympathy into his tone but only managing to sound delighted.

" . . . And Harry was so late for the match he nearly missed it!"

Ron blinked. "That's weird! Did you find out why?"

But the next second Ginny had leapt to her feet excitedly. "He's waking up!" she exclaimed, for Harry had indeed given a pronounced groan and started to roll over. But when he turned onto his side, he merely muttered something indistinguishable and didn't move again.

"Ah, no, he's not," said Ron, looking disappointed. "What'd he just say?"

"Didn't catch it," said Ginny, sinking back into her chair with a woebegone expression.

"Sounded a bit like 'Ginny,'" said Ron, glancing up at his sister musingly. "But then again it could've just as well been 'Demelza'—I bet he was dreaming about the match."

Ginny, whose heart had given a great start at Ron's words, stared at him witheringly. She could've drawn attention to the fact that "Ginny" and "Demelza" sounded nothing alike, but she refrained. She didn't want Ron thinking she actually cared whether or not Harry had mumbled her name in his sleep.

And I'm being stupid anyway, she thought gloomily, forcing her mind to picture Dean's face. Yes, that was a safe route. Think about Dean. He was nice (except when he was uppity). He liked to have fun and joke around (except when he merely stared at her, her sarcastic humor bouncing off of him). He liked to spend time with her (except when he went off to go snigger in a corner with Parvati and Seamus). He was . . . helpful (almost to a fault—if he tried steering her up the stairs or through the portrait hole like she was a eighty-year-old woman with a peg leg one more time . . .).

Closing her eyes and kneading the lids with her fingers, Ginny sat back and sighed loudly. Dean was a good person. The rebellious side of her brain had no snide remark to make on that. She genuinely liked him and enjoyed being with him. Lately, though . . . lately . . . well, she had begun comparing him with Harry. Almost constantly. This had happened now and again with Michael Corner, of course, but for the most part she had managed to suppress such thoughts around Dean. But as Harry grew more and more prominent in her life—they spent a lot of time together, off and on the pitch—Dean grew . . . less so. It wasn't that she was tiring of him or finding sides of him she disliked. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him. He was kind, funny, sweet, thoughtful, but . . . She swallowed hard. He wasn't right for her, because he wasn't Harry.

Ginny despised herself for thinking this for many reasons. For one thing it seemed a blatantly disloyal thing to think. She was with Dean, not with Harry, so Harry shouldn't be more than an afterthought. But he never had been, and (she was beginning to learn) he never could be. For another it seemed a very stupid thing to think, because—she had known Harry for six years, and when had he shown the slightest interest in her before? Because if he had . . . (she sighed again loudly) . . . if he had, matters would be entirely different today. Yet in recent months Ginny had begun to nurse the tiniest shred of hope, one she often scoffed at, yes, but one that she couldn't bring herself to dismiss. . . .

It had started, really, at their first Quidditch match of the season. Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Right after Harry had made the winning catch, Ginny had purposely collided into the commentator's stand, sending the odious Zacharias Smith into a heap of wreckage down below. After Professor McGonagall had chastised her and taken ten points from Gryffindor (though she looked as though she were repressing a smile with difficulty—at least, the corners of her thin mouth had been twitching in a way they normally didn't), Harry had hugged her. It was the first really close contact with Harry that Ginny had ever had, and she still remembered it vividly. Harry had enfolded her in his arms, breathed in deeply once over her shoulder, and then, perhaps two seconds later, he had withdrawn, looking anywhere but at her and greeting Ron's exuberant arrival beside him with a cheer that was a bit too hearty to be realistic. She had watched him, somewhat shocked and more than a little unsure of what to think. But of course she had found ways to write it off as just a friendly hug of camaraderie, because Harry couldn't like her. Not after all this. Not after years of regarding her as Ron's tagalong sister.

Could he?

And then of course there was the dreadful night Harry had walked in on Dean and her. Snogging. This had occurred before the Quidditch hug, but she had never considered Harry's reaction to it carefully until she had reason to believe it might require further analyzing. Even reflecting back on it, Ginny had to pinch her eyes shut in revulsion at the memory. Harry and her brother—two of the least people in the world whom she wanted catching her in the act of kissing her boyfriend.

She blamed Dean. She had been fully prepared to return to Gryffindor Tower to relax after a rigorous training session, but Dean had smiled and made a detour behind the tapestry. He'd initiated the whole thing. If she had gone with her instincts and just marched on up to finish her Herbology homework, the whole debacle might've been avoided.

Ginny would never forget the sudden burst of light on the edge of her vision as the tapestry was yanked aside, or the stunned faces that she looked into once she broke apart from Dean. Ron's steadily reddening expression had been contorted with a mixture of shock and horror, as though witnessing something that both nauseated him and slightly gave him the creeps. Harry's . . . Harry's was harder to interpret. At first it was all-out astonishment, but then, as the argument progressed, he had been staring at Dean with . . . was it an accusatory expression? On any other boy she would have pinpointed it as jealousy, but on Harry, the mere idea was laughable.

Wasn't it?

It had been partially embarrassment and dismay that Harry was present that had caused Ginny to react so violently to Ron's yowling. Why, in the name of all that was fair, had Harry had to see her like this? Generally she wasn't one for sickeningly obvious displays of affection (unlike Won-Won and his partner-in-snogging, she thought scornfully), and the fact remained that it had been a perfectly concealed niche before they had come butting in. She still felt guilty, though, as if Harry had watched her doing something indecent. Cheating on him, even . . .

Don't be stupid, she told herself, for the fifth or sixth time that week (usually concerning the same subject).

Consumed in dark thoughts, Ginny broadened a rip in the arm of the chair and began to distractedly pull out pieces of stuffing. . . . Ron had propped his Transfiguration book back on his knees and was twirling a dog-eared quill in one hand, staring at the double doors with a glazed expression.

Ginny, broken from her trance, glanced at the doors too, knowing what was on Ron's mind. "I doubt Hermione'll be in so soon," she said heavily. "You know how long she takes studying for tests, Ron. But don't worry, I'm sure she'll come back."

"Yeah . . . yeah, I reckon so—but how did you—I mean, you don't know I was thinking about . . ." But he tailed off, seeing by her raised eyebrow that he wasn't going to convince anybody.

"Be honest with yourself, Ron," Ginny said softly. "I know it's not Lavender you're hoping to see, judging by the fact that you pretend to be asleep whenever she comes within a mile of you."

"Yeah . . . well . . ." Ron hedged, both ears flaming by now as he fiddled with his bed sheets.

"Ron," said Ginny firmly, "it would be much, much kinder of you to end it with Lavender now, before she gets any more hurt—"

"I don't need love advice from my little sister!" Ron retorted hotly.

"You need love advice from someone. Though I do forget what a Casanova you are . . . what was it you got Lavender for Christmas? A bottle of Self-Correcting Ink, wasn't that it?"

"Shut up," Ron muttered. "Dead useful, that stuff is."

"Yes," Ginny said, her smirk growing wider, "yes, I suppose it's better than what she got you, you sweetheart, you—"

"Shut up!" Ron said more loudly, chucking a pillow at her. She caught it and laughed. "How'd you find out about that!"

When Ginny merely giggled in response, Ron groaned and gave the invalid in the bed between them a furious glare. "I'll be having words with my prat of a best friend when he wakes up."

"Really, now." The aproned figure of Madam Pomfrey bustled from her office, looking stern. "There is quite enough noise out here! This is an infirmary, for heaven's sake, not a circus."

"Sorry," chorused Ginny and Ron, and the nurse retreated to her office, chuntering under her breath.

"But really," Ginny continued, brushing some hair behind her ear, "it's better I found out about the necklace than the twins. They'd have found a way to tattoo 'My Sweetheart' across your forehead by now."

Ron shrugged, still looking a little grumpy. "I s'ppose that's a fair point. Just make sure you keep your mouth closed about that necklace. Got it?"

"I don't know . . . that's rather quality blackmail right there . . ." At Ron's fearsome scowl, she amended with a grin, "Yes, yes, I promise. I haven't said anything yet, have I?"

"Good, 'cause I don't fancy all of Gryffindor knowing about it. I've already had to endure Lavender chasing me around asking me why I'm not wearing the sick thing."

"Imagine Hermione's reaction if you did," Ginny giggled.

At this remark Ron's eyes promptly flicked back to the double doors. Ginny left him to his contemplation of the infirmary's entrance as she smiled to herself, envisioning the appalled scowl that would contort Hermione's features should Ron start parading around with the label of Lavender's sweetheart, like a dog wearing his collar to show ownership.

Thinking of Hermione led her down a track uncomfortably similar to the one her mind had been pounding a couple of minutes before. Just last week Hermione had broached a certain topic with Ginny and had hinted at things that seemed—well, ridiculous, and at the same time all too interesting . . .

Over the course of the past summer, Fred and George had happily assured their sister many times over that fifth year was to a student as leg amputation is to a hospital patient. She hadn't truly appreciated their words until fifth year had begun, however. The sheer amount of homework each night was astounding, and now, as their Ordinary Wizarding Levels loomed ever nearer, it was intensifying even more. Thus it was not surprising at all that Ginny had found herself closeted in the library on that fateful evening a week ago, a small mountain of books piled beside her and the nasty prospect of four three-foot-long essays to write by night's end. Hermione, who had claimed she needed to put the finishing touches on a complex diagram for Ancient Runes, had accompanied her; and so they sat together at a table, hardly talking except to check a fact or request having a book passed to them.

In an hour Hermione had completed the diagram and busily began putting away her supplies. Ginny had assumed she would be left alone to muddle through her Defense Against the Dark Arts essay ("Using no less than thirteen examples, explain the various countercharms you would use to ward off a banshee's assault"). But Hermione lingered, watching Ginny with a singularly purposeful air.

"Yes?" Ginny said wearily, her quill flying across the parchment.

"I wanted to talk to you. Are you busy?"

"If you call having a hundred and fifty things to do and not enough hours left in the day to do them being 'busy,' then yes, I'm a tiny bit busy. But go on, I could use a break, my eyes are going crossed." Ginny set down her quill and massaged her hand with a wince.

"It's about Harry."

Immediately Ginny was all ears. "Is something wrong with him?"

"Not exactly . . ." Hermione scrutinized Ginny's face craftily. "Have you noticed anything—different about him lately?"

"Well, he's been a bit worried about Ron, but that's—"

"Not that kind of different. I mean in how he treats, ah, certain people around him."

Ginny squinted. "Is he being all moody and snappish again with you and Ron?"

"No. It's not a bad thing, it's—" Finally Hermione just came out and said it. "I mean have you noticed a difference in how he treats you?"

Ginny grew quiet. She sifted through the stack of books in front of her, not replying for several seconds as she searched for her Defense book. When she located it and could stall no longer, she flipped to the front page and said, "I don't know what you mean, Hermione."

Hermione quirked up an eyebrow. "Don't you? Surely you must have noticed how much time he spends around you . . ."

"Banshees, banshees . . ." Ginny whispered distractedly, running a finger down the contents. She turned to page fifty-three and said, "No, I haven't actually." Which was a lie. A complete, total, blatant lie, and Hermione didn't seem to be fooled. "All right," Ginny conceded impatiently, knowing there was no point in denying it, "yes I have, but it's probably only because with Ron off snogging Lavender and you doing homework or prefect duties, there're not a lot of options left for company."

Hermione, whose face had tautened briefly at the mention of Ron and Lavender, shook her head. "We're not that busy. Ginny, maybe you haven't caught it, but I have, and sometimes he looks at you, and he . . ."

"He what, Hermione?" Ginny's eyes flashed dangerously, but her heartbeat had increased.

Determined to say her piece, Hermione pursed her lips. "Do you really need me to elaborate? I'm not blind, Ginny, and I don't think you are either. It's not as if the boy's terribly subtle."

"What are you suggesting? Because if you're suggesting what it sounds like you're suggesting, I'll book you a bed next to Harry and Ron in the hospital wing. You must not be in your right mind."

"What I'm trying to tell you is, unless I've suddenly started hallucinating, Harry likes—"

"Don't say it, Hermione."

"Why not?"

"Because . . ." Ginny struggled to express herself. "Because—because it's been six years, six years. And for four of those years I waited for him. I'm dating Dean now, I'm not—I can't—" She realized her voice was shaking, so she quickly shut her mouth.

Hermione stared at her intently. "I thought you should know."

Ginny averted her gaze, feeling her cheeks heat up. "Maybe you're wrong."

"What if I'm not?"

Ginny had no reply to that. Hermione stood up, smiled, patted her on the shoulder, and left the library. Ginny gaped absentmindedly into space for fifteen minutes before recalling the mound of homework waiting for her. She made little headway, however, considering the fact that Hermione had given her a lot more to mull over than proper methods of repelling banshees.

What am I supposed to do? Ginny thought now, her eyes riveted on Harry's still face. But of course there was only one reasonable answer to this question: absolutely nothing. She was dating Dean. Period. And did she really know Hermione's speculations were correct? Admittedly Hermione did have a very keen grasp of others' emotions, but she was only human, after all, as prone to make mistakes as anyone. Perhaps she was mistaking brotherly affection for affection­-affection. So there was nothing to do but wait and see. And Ginny was very good at that, having done it on a regular basis since she was ten.

"I'd probably better go," she said regretfully. "I told Dean I'd be back by now, he thinks I went to see Professor Flitwick about a Charms assignment."

Ron gave her a rather sharp look, but he did not question Ginny as to why she had told Dean she was visiting a teacher rather than visiting Harry.

"All right, 'bye then," Ron said, as Ginny stood and stretched. "I'll tell Harry you stopped by when he wakes up. Give McLaggen a hex from me."

"See you. Feel better."

Ginny's hand was on the door handle when Ron, after struggling with himself for a few seconds, burst out, "And—and tell Hermione she can come in whenever she wants!"

Hiding a smirk, Ginny waved to show she had heard and then left the infirmary, although not before throwing one last fleeting glance at Harry. He was still unconscious . . . She felt a small twinge of regret that she hadn't gotten a chance to talk to him—but it was most likely for the best. Whatever happened would happen, she resolved, and she could decide how to react to it when it did.

When Harry awoke some hours later, his head felt strangely heavy. Golden lamplight was glowing down on him, and he seemed to be lying in a bed. . . .

What had happened? The last thing he remembered was the match . . . a flash of light, distant screams, a crippling pain in his head . . .

Blinking drowsily, Harry opened his eyes and looked around to see Ron grinning at him from the neighboring bed.

"Nice of you to drop in," he said.

It was evening outside. The match was long finished. Groaning, Harry reached up and fingered the turban of bandages around his head. The next few minutes passed in a blur of anger as Madam Pomfrey bustled in to inform him that he had a cracked skull and that consequently he must stay in overnight so as not to overexert himself. But staying still and wallowing in a bed all night was the last thing he felt like doing, not when he would've liked nothing better than to encounter McLaggen in a deserted corridor armed only with his wand and his knowledge of some of the Half-Blood Prince's best jinxes.

"D'you know how much we lost by?" Harry gritted out, as the nurse flounced back to her office.

"Well, yeah I do. Final score was three hundred and twenty to sixty."

Ron attempted to sound as annoyed as Harry that they had lost, but he did a poor job of it. In his mind, the fact that McLaggen had irreparably wrecked his Quidditch career at Hogwarts could only be good news; it meant, for one, that nobody would be unfavorably comparing McLaggen to Ron when Ron returned to the team. Harry merely sat and fumed as his friend guffawed about the match and about Luna's rather unconventional commentary.

After a pause, Ron said, "Ginny came in to visit you while you were unconscious."

And with those simple words, a vivid mental image exploded into the forefront of Harry's mind. He imagined Ginny, looking grief-stricken (but in a very pretty way) as tears streamed down her face; her eyes were glued onto Harry's motionless body as she confessed feelings of deep attraction to him. Meanwhile, an uncharacteristically grave Ron looked on and gave them his blessing. It was so vivid that Harry half-believed it was real.

Until Ron said, ". . . She reckons you only just arrived on time for the match. How come? You left here early enough."

Just like that the image dissolved. "Oh . . ." said Harry, crestfallen. "Yeah, well . . ."

As he proceeded to fill Ron in on his meeting with Draco Malfoy just before the match, a part of Harry's brain couldn't help but wonder about Ginny. The fantasy had been very pleasant, despite the fact that it had lasted for all of two and a half seconds. He didn't know why he always jumped to the most illogical conclusions about that sort of thing. The idea that Ginny liked him was ludicrous. Yes, she had harbored feelings for him in years past, he had known that—everyone had known that. But she had given up on him, Hermione had said it herself, and when was Hermione ever wrong? And how often was it that girls returned to fancying the boys they had closed the book on ages ago? It seemed too improbable that she might actually like him as much as he liked her. . . . The fact remained that she had never, throughout the course of the year, given him any sign of infatuation. Not a solitary blush. He didn't think he'd ever miss something as trivial as someone blushing, but right now there was little he wouldn't give for a good, old-fashioned, to-the-roots-of-her-flaming-hair Ginny blush. If he could just get a sign, some concrete evidence . . .

Yet she had visited him, hadn't she, out of her own initiative? Granted, there had probably not been much in the way of confessing attraction or receiving blessings, but just the fact that she had visited him after his injury was surely evidence that—

Evidence of what? his practical side growled. That she's your friend? Well, you knew that already!

This was no good. His thoughts kept leading him around in circles. Moreover there was the huge, gaping, inescapable problem of Dean. He and Dean were roommates; he had always gotten on very well with Dean; and Dean just happened to be dating Ginny. No way around that one, Potter, he sighed to himself. How could anything happen when she was dating Harry's friend (whatever Harry's aggressive feelings toward Dean at the moment, he knew Dean, at least, still counted Harry as his friend)? And how could Ginny like Harry if she was dating Dean? When had the whole situation gotten so complicated, anyway? . . .

Harry knew that he shouldn't think of Ginny in the way that he did. First of all she was Ron's sister, second of all she was dating Dean, and third of all—she was Ron's sister. Harry should force himself to forget her, make himself abandon all the warm butterflies that erupted in his stomach whenever she was around. . . .

But Harry knew that that would no sooner happen than him grabbing her and kissing her in front of all of Gryffindor House.

And that idea was especially ridiculous.

Wasn't it?