Transitions

Chapter 1 Nightmares

Every breath he took seemed to splinter his lungs. The air was pungent with the smell of charred flesh, blood and death. Yet as Harry hunched over, Ginny clinging to him desperately, he could still smell the sweet scent of the manicured grounds of Hogwarts. It made him want to retch, for this hallowed ground had been breached yet again and somehow, the magic that surrounded it was a little less potent now. But this would be the last time, because Voldemort was gone!

"Harry, please!" Ginny begged, pulling at him to get up.

"I have to stop her!" he wheezed, as he stood with an ache in his back, but ready to continue his pursuit of Bellatrix Lestrange, though he knew she was gone.

"Please, Harry, we have to find Ron and Hermione!" Ginny said, shakily.

Harry's head whipped around. Ron! Hermione! Frantically, he grabbed Ginny's hand and they ran back toward the castle. Coming upon the battle site with haste, Harry scanned the area with hawk-like precision, yet his friends were nowhere to be found. A sickening feeling began to twist in his gut as he searched to no avail.

Just as he was about to lose his mind, fall to his knees and cry, Harry saw just the edge of a foot sticking out from the other side of a large tree down by the lake. He knew that trainer, and it belonged to Ron. Harry took off like a bullet. God, he thought his lungs were going to completely disintegrate with the shear pressure he was putting on them, but he had to get to Ron.

As he got closer, he saw the foot move and almost collapsed from the joy it brought to him. At least Ron was alive, and Harry's lungs forced him to slow down to a fast paced jog. When he was even closer, he could hear Ron laughing and Harry nearly fell to his knees with the urge to shout out his relief in a tearful wail. He seemed to have no control over his emotions at the present.

Harry slowed to a rapid walk, for if Ron was laughing, then Hermione was surely alive and well, and should be just as joyful. That's when Harry noticed, now that his heart was not pounding in his ears, he had never heard Ron laugh like this.

At his destination, Harry rounded the tree and nearly collapsed. Ron was holding the limp form of Hermione in his arms and he was not laughing at all. He was crying and it was the most god-awful sound Harry had ever heard. Looking at his mate, he wondered how he could have ever thought that sound was laughter. Ron hiccupped, coughed and moaned as he looked up at Harry and stretched out his hand. "

Harry," he cried. "Hel-help me!" Harry gaped at Ron as he felt a hot tear fall from his eye. Then, without a conscious thought, he aimed his wand at Hermione's chest, and shouted,

"Ennerverate!" Hermione's body gave a small lurch, but nothing happened.

"I've already tried that!" Ron shouted, with an angry growl and ripped Harry's wand out of his hand, tossing it away. "Don't you think I would have thought of that?" Ron screamed and hugged Hermione to him with a sickening moan. Harry dropped to his knees in horrified disbelief. A sob spilled from his throat as Ron locked eyes with him.

"She's dea—"

"NO! Don't you say it!" Harry shouted, and lurched forward, grabbing Ron around the collar. "She's not! She's NOT!" He slumped against Ron's shoulder and wailed loudly. In his sorrow, he could hear Ginny screaming out her tears behind him and was vaguely aware that others were coming now, watching them fall to pieces.

Suddenly Harry felt a strong hand pull him back and discovered that Remus was holding him, but he fought to be let loose. Hermione was gone, he needed to hold onto her for as long as her body had warmth, but Remus held him firmly. Professor McGonagall was on her knees, tears streaming down her face, but she seemed intent to get a look at Hermione.

"What happened to her?" she asked, but Ron was far too gone to answer. McGonagall surveyed her a bit closer now. "Mr. Weasley, we need to get her to St. Mungo's!" she said, but Ron was lost in his misery, as was Harry.

"Mr. Weasley!" the professor shouted. "She needs to go, now!" McGonagall made to pull Hermione by the arm, but Ron roughly pushed her hand away.

"She's DEAD! Leave us alone!" he choked.

"She is not dead!" McGonagall shouted. "Dead people don't cry!" Ron stopped mid-sob, and looked down at Hermione. She did indeed have a tear rolling down her cheek. Ron leapt to his feet as if he was holding nothing in his arms, and took off at a run. He was like a mad man as he ran toward the castle, but Harry was right along with him.

In a blur, they made it to St. Mungo's, only for the Healers to tell Ron that he and Harry had wasted valuable time crying over her, and now, there was nothing they could do to bring her back.

"NO!" Ron screamed, and sat bolt upright in his bed. His heart was thumping and his head was pounding. He fought the wave of nausea that assaulted him the moment he sat up. A creak of the floorboards made his eyes snap open. Ginny was standing in his doorway, looking like a ghost in her white nightgown. She had her wand in one hand and a drink in the other. She aimed her wand at Ron as she walked toward the bed.

"Are you all right?" she asked, then gave her wrist a flick toward the window causing it to fly open bringing a warm summer breeze in with it. Ron couldn't answer for fear that he would vomit. Ginny seemed to recognize this as she attempted to continue cooling the room. With another flick of her wand, a large banana leaf appeared and began to fan Ron.

He slumped back on his headboard and took a deep breath. Soaked with sweat, Ron lazily pulled his shirt off and tossed it to the floor. Ginny waved her wand again and he felt his wet sheet zip from under him and a second later, a crisp clean one had replaced it. The evenings were far too hot for anything other than a simple fitted sheet, at least for Ron being in the hottest room in the Burrow.

"Why didn't you have your window open?" Ginny asked, as she handed him the ice cold glass of carbonated water. Ron sipped it and instantly his stomach stopped flipping, then he felt cool all over. He was certain it contained a cooling concoction and perhaps something to settle his stomach. He smiled a little, and bit back a comment about Ginny being just like their mum. He knew she'd thump him one.

"You always keep it so stifling in here. You must want to suffocate. Budge up," she said and Ron scooted close against the wall to make room for her. Ginny lay beside him in the bed and looked up at the ceiling.

Once Ron had downed his drink, and was feeling much better, he said, "I'm up in the trees, Gin. Do you know how loud those bloody owls are in the middle of the night? It's like they have a town meeting right at my window sometimes." He belched loudly, and handed Ginny the empty glass, which she sat on the night-table after shooting Ron a disgusted look. Now they both stared at the ceiling while the banana leaf fanned them.

"Was it the same dream?" Ginny asked, after several silent moments. Ron nodded. "You want to talk about it?" Ron shrugged. "It might help," she prodded mildly.

"What's to talk about?" He shrugged again.

"Well it may help if you tried to think about why you keep having it."

"I know why I keep having it. I nearly lost one of my best friends because I was too busy being a cry baby!"

"Ron, you weren't the only one standing around crying, and the fact that she actually didn't die should be reason enough to keep you from having the dream."

"She dies in the dream, Gin, every time…she…dies," Ron whispered. Ginny looked over at him sadly, but he kept his gaze on the ceiling.

"There is something more though. I mean, there is some reason that you keep having it." She paused, pensively. "Was there anything unusual or different about it this time?"

"Actually, there was, it was like I was seeing it all through Harry's eyes." Ginny looked at him.

"Really? How do you mean?"

"Well, you and Harry had just missed catching Bellatrix and then you were looking for me and Hermione. I could feel how tired and scared Harry was. I mean, I could hardly breathe as he was running. It was weird."

"What do you think it means?" she asked, turning on her side so she could really look at him.

"I don't know. I'm just sick of having them. I'm knackered all the time and look…" he pointed to the clock. "I have to be up in four hours."

"Well, there's a slight sleeping draught in the drink I gave you so—"

"What? You gave me a sleeping potion?" Ron fixed her with a shocked expression.

"I make up a batch every night, but you don't always need it. I thought you knew."

"No, I didn't know!" Ron sat up slowly, already feeling the effects. "That stuff can become addictive Gin! You can't just give it to me without letting me know! I figured there was a cooling potion in it, and maybe something for my stomach, but you really can't give me the sleeping draught, not without letting me know."

"I'm sorry! I didn't know, honest, I didn't." She grabbed his arm, pleadingly.

"It's fine, just don't do it again." He sighed deeply. "I wondered why I could always fall asleep after you'd come in and talked to me. I thought it was the talking that helped." He muttered to himself, and Ginny looked at him sadly. "Tomorrow night is going to be hell."

"I know something that may help," Ginny said, with a slightly guilty expression. "Actually, I know two things that may help. One's a definite, but unfortunately, you won't be able to do that," she smirked as she began to rummage through Ron's night-table drawer.

"What is it? I might be able to do it," Ron asked eagerly.

"The sure-fire way to cure insomnia is getting shagged, thoroughly!" She shot him a smirk over her shoulder.

"Merlin, Gin! Sometimes you have such a filthy mouth."

"What's so filthy about that? Sometimes you are such a prude, Ron."

"Am not!" he said, hotly. If she knew some of the things he'd thought about doing to Hermione, surely she'd think he was a sex maniac and petition to have him locked away. Ron smirked.

"Whatever, Ron. Here," she said, as she found what she was looking for and handed him a thin, red leather journal. "You should be writing in this. It may help. Besides, what have you got to lose, except for the dreams? Maybe once you figure out why Hermione dies in the dream, then you'll stop having them." Ron had flinched at the word "dies," but Ginny continued as if she hadn't noticed.

"I have my theories, but you are not ready to hear them." Ginny murmured as she stood to leave. Ron had heard her, but he gave no indication of it. He knew that she was going to say that he needed to deal with his unrequited feelings and stifled passion, all the rubbish she normally spoke. He was aware of this, to some extent, but Ron had a plan.

He would put in a solid year as an Auror and then he'd ask Hermione out, when he'd saved enough money to court her properly. No one knew this, because he honestly didn't want to hear people's opinion of it. No, his plan would work without interference, he was positive. He only had three months to go, he could wait three more months.

Ron looked at the journal. He had tried to write in it when it was first given to him after the final battle, but he felt stupid. In his night-table drawer it went, and that's where it stayed for over a year. Perhaps if he just wrote his dreams down, maybe that would help, he thought briefly.

"I'll write in the morning. Thanks to you, I can barely keep my eyes open." Ron said, but there was no bite in his tone. He knew she was only trying to help. Ginny grabbed his hand.

"I'm sorry, I won't do it again." She leaned over and kissed his forehead. Ron squeezed her hand.

"It's all right," he yawned, and was already rolling onto his side to snuggle into sleep.

"Ron?" Ginny called from near the door.

"Yeah?"

"Where did you and Harry go a couple weekends back?" she asked, quietly.

"Hmm? Oh we went to…hang on…" Ron rolled over and peered at her.

"That's pretty sneaky, taking advantage of me when I'm sleepy! We were doing guy stuff and that's all you need to know!" He rolled toward the wall again.

"I wasn't trying to take advantage, just asking a question," Ginny snapped. Ron grunted his disagreement. "Honest! Besides, what does "guy stuff" mean anyway? Were you out scratching your bollocks and making rude bodily noises?" Ron, though he still had his back to her, knew she had a smirk on her face.

He made a very loud, very smelly, rude noise with his body and said, "That's exactly what guy stuff means." Ginny practically ran from the room with squeals of disgust, to Ron's sleepy chuckles.

"G'night, Gin" He shouted, with a laugh, then thought that he should go and thank her for helping him through the nightmare, but he was already fast asleep before he could even roll over.

Morning dawned bright, and Ron was moving at a snail's pace. The journal fell from the bed as he stood to make his way to the loo. Staring at it for a long moment, he knew he should write down the dream, or at least his thoughts of it while they were fresh in his mind.

Grabbing a quill and ink, within a short span of time, Ron had filled two complete pages. He'd summarized what he thought the dreams were about or what he thought they meant. Upon reading over it, he realized that he had written mostly feelings and not actions.

He'd written that he'd felt scared, and angry, and sad as he held Hermione in his arms, but described nothing of what he actually did, nothing about running with her limp body, nor the fact that he dreamt as Harry this time. Those things were prevalent in his dream, though they didn't seem to matter when he was writing what he thought was important. Maybe…Ron's thoughts were interrupted by a hasty knock on his bedroom door.

"Yeah," he answered.

"Are you going in the shower anytime soon?" Ginny yelled from the other side of the door then seemed to think better of it, and opened it. Her face morphed into a disgusted expression and she scrunched up her nose as she looked around.

"My lord! What is that smell? That can't be you, can it?" She put her hand over her mouth and nose.

"What do you mean, that can't be me? I don't stink!" Ron shouted, and raised his arm to get a whiff of his pit. He was a bit musky from sweating in his sleep, but not too foul.

"Cor blimey, Ron! Have you been in here blowing off all night?" Ginny asked, backing out of the room, but she bumped into Mrs. Weasley who was on her way in.

"Ronnie dear, can you…" her face pinched dramatically. "…dear lord, it smells awful in here."

"Told you so!" Ginny sang. "He's immune to it, Mum, nose refuses to smell it any longer, I expect." She giggled behind her hand. Ron's ears were getting redder by the second.

"Oh hush, Ginny." Mrs. Weasley chastised, seeming to sense her son was going to thump his sister any moment.

"If it's smelly in here, it's your fault, Mum!" Ron said, gathering his belongings for the shower.

"Mine?" Molly looked at him, affronted.

"Your dinner didn't agree with me obviously!" Ron snapped, not liking that they both could smell something that he could not.

"You're perfectly welcome to cook your own food, you know!" Mrs. Weasley snapped right back at him, then whipped out her wand and a fruity aerosol burst from the tip.

"AWWW!" shouted Ron. "You got it in my eye, Mum!" He doubled over clutching his eye. "Fuck!"

"Watch your language, Ronald!" she scolded, as she stepped into the room to check his eye. "I think getting blinded calls for a bit of harsh language, Mum!" he whinged.

"Oh hush, you are not blind." Ron winced as his mum pulled his hand away and quick as a flash shot him in the eye with a blast of cool liquid, making the burning stop instantly.

"Shut it, Gin!" he shouted to his snickering sister. Mrs. Weasley aimed her wand higher in the air this time and sent the fruity spray about the room again.

"Hurry up Ron, I need you to drop off your father's lunch to him, he's forgotten it again."

"Mum," Ron groaned. "I'll barely have time to eat my breakfast if I do. Can't Dad eat at the Atrium canteen?" Mrs. Weasley fixed her son with a look that said there would be no way in hell her husband would be eating food at a canteen when she had prepared a perfectly good meal for him herself.

"You will take your father his lunch, and I will make you a few egg and bacon sandwiches to take with you for breakfast."

"Fine, but you've got to do something about dad and his forgetfulness." Ron stomped out of the room and headed to the shower.

Ron quickly approached his father's office. Checking his wristwatch, he noted that he had roughly ten minutes before he needed to be in the Auror department. Today they were doing physical training and he always liked to have at least twenty minutes to warm up. That was not going to be the case today. Having devoured three egg and bacon sandwiches in less than five minutes, he'd consider himself lucky if he didn't retch halfway through training.

"Dad," Ron said, as he pushed open his father's office door. "You forgot your lunch again, Mum said—" Ron stopped speaking as he noticed his father was not alone. A stout man with thick gray hair stood before Arthur Weasley's desk with a young woman who favored the man enough to let anyone know that she had to be his daughter. Fortunately for her, she had enough differences that she could still be considered pleasant looking.

As all attention was pulled to Ron, he mumbled, "Sorry."

"Ron! Good to see you, son. Come in." His Dad beckoned with a warm smile. "Mr. Albert Buckenheim, this is my youngest son, Ronald." Ron stepped further into the room and took the man's extended hand. It was a hearty hand shake and Mr. Buckenheim's meaty fingers gave Ron's long ones a hard squeeze. Physically, he reminded Ron of an Auror that he knew named Douglas, but this man had kind eyes and Douglas was an arse.

"Nice to meet you, Sir." Ron said, and turned to the young lady in the room. He nearly gave a jolt when he met her eyes, for the petite blonde witch was gazing up at him as if Christmas had come early.

"This is my daughter, Daphne." Mr. Buckenheim stated, seemingly oblivious to his daughter's dreamy stare.

"Nice to meet you," Ron said, and shook her hand as well. Her bright green eyes never left Ron and she seemed unable to speak. Ron shot his father a glance, and found him looking rather amused by it all.

"Mr. Buckenheim just moved here from the States. He will be over seeing the entire Muggle Affairs Department. He's my new boss," Mr. Weasley said, and Ron nodded with a small smile.

"Well, it was nice meeting you both. I've got to get to work. Here you go, Dad." Ron handed his father the bag lunch and smiled once more at the other occupants of the room, then he turned to leave.

"Aw, excuse me, young man…" Ron stopped and turned again to Mr. Buckenheim.

"Yes, Sir?"

"My poor Daphne has been cooped up under me for the last week and a half since we moved here. I'm sure she's tired of looking at old people all day," he chuckled. "Do you think it possible for her to go see where you work for a bit, maybe an hour or so? Just until I finish here with your father? You do work in the building, correct?" Ron openly gaped at the man.

"Er…um…yes Sir, I do work in the building, but she can't come with me." Mr. Buckenheim was visibly taken aback and Daphne's smile vanished instantly.

"Ronald's an Auror, Albert." Mr. Weasley chimed in.

"Is that so?" Mr. Buckenheim's chest puffed up a bit and if possible, Daphne looked even dreamier.

"Yes, Sir. I'm not allowed to bring civilians into the department, besides, I'm going to be in physical training all morning and will not be able to leave," Ron said, relieved for having a valid excuse. Daphne looked positively deflated at the news. "I'm sorry, I wish I could show her around," Ron lied, "but it really is impossible, right now."

"Well, how about tonight? She needs to learn the area and make new friends," Buckenheim called out, and Ron looked quite thunder struck.

"Er…um…well," he stammered.

"It'll only be for a few hours. I have a meeting tonight, and I'd hate for her to be in that big house all alone. Mrs. Buckenheim passed four years ago, so it's only us now."

Ron was trapped. He didn't want to be rude, but he did not want to take out this girl. He wanted to take out Hermione, and only Hermione! Though this was not a date, he still felt if he was going to be out at night, with a girl, it should only be Hermione. One glance at his father's silently pleading eyes let Ron know that he was going to have to do this.

"Erm…sure." Daphne let out a tiny squeak and clapped her hands.

"Great! I'll leave my address with your father and you can pick her up at six." As if that settled it, Mr. Buckenheim turned back to Arthur and began going over the parchment they were discussing before Ron came in. With a final glance, Ron gave a half hearted wave to an overly excited Daphne, and shot his father a deadly glare before he left the room.

This day had started out terrible for Ron. First his mother and sister tell him that he stinks, or at least his room does, then he gets roped into a date with a girl that he did not want to go out with. To make matters worse, he got his arse kicked in training by Dixon, a girl half his size, and then he retched! It was humiliating.

Now he was angry and tired, but he had to take that girl out and he had no clue where to take her or what to show her. Ron burst into the front door of the Burrow like an angry bull, nearly startling his mum to death. He went straight for the cupboard, got a butter beer, chilled it and swallowed it down in practically one gulp. He reached for another one.

"Ronnie, don't ruin your appetite. Dinner will be ready in a bit." Molly said, pulling the bottle from Ron's hand.

"I won't be at dinner," Ron said, pulling the beverage back from her and guzzling it.

"Why not?"

"Didn't Dad tell you? I have a date!" Ron shouted angrily.

"Really? With who?"

"His boss' daughter! Merlin, Mum, you should have seen how she was gazing at me…like…like I was a piece of meat! She'll be all over me on this bloody date! She'll probably—"

"Hi, Ron!" Ginny called nervously from the sitting room. Ron turned and nearly passed out, for she was sitting with Hermione and the look on her face made Ron want have his mum spray him in the eyes with that fruity stuff again. Ginny looked rather panicked and it was obvious she had interrupted Ron before he could say anymore, but it was too late.

Hermione stood quickly, and gave him a tiny wave as if she had just been introduced to him. Ron merely gaped at her as she stepped into the fireplace. Before she Flooed out of there, she said to Ginny, "You almost had me convinced." And then she was gone in a green flash.

"Bloody hell! Why didn't anyone tell me she was here? Fuck!" Ron shouted, as Ginny stepped into the kitchen.

"OUCH!" Ron barked, as his mother whacked him on the head with a wooden spoon.

"Do I even need to tell you what that was for?" She glared at him.

"Sorry, Mum. It's just been a terrible day! I don't want to go out with this girl, and I certainly didn't want Hermione to know about it. I was hoping that I could just take this girl out for a few hours and then forget I ever met her!"

"Oh come now, Ronnie, she may be quite sweet." Mrs. Weasley said, with a pat to his arm. Ron snorted and rolled his eyes at no one in particular.

Just then, the fireplace erupted again and Harry stepped out. He walked over and kissed Ginny on the cheek then he gave Molly a kiss as well. It was obvious that Harry sensed something was wrong, with Ron's ears burning red and the ringing silence in the room.

"What's wrong?" Harry questioned. "Are you still upset because you vomited?" Ron's eyes went wide. He had no plans on enlightening his mum and sister with that bit of humiliating information.

"Bloody hell, Harry! Just jump right in my nightmare and mix it about!" Ron shouted, and marched up the steps, leaving the other three looking completely baffled. He could still hear his mother asking if he was still feeling ill or if he needed a potion, as he stomped up to the top floor.

After his shower, Ron opened his bedroom door to find Ginny and Harry sitting on his bed waiting for him. He sighed, deeply.

"What do you two want?"

"Just to talk to you, mate. You seem…on edge," Harry said, cautiously. "I didn't mean to tell them about what happened at work, I just thought you had told them."

"It's fine, I'm just in a foul mood, is all," Ron said, slipping on his beige trousers.

"If you don't want to go, Ron, then don't go." Ginny said.

"I promised."

"You know Dad won't force you, if you really don't want to do it."

"Yeah, I know, but like I said, I gave my word. It's fine." Ron finished quietly, as he buttoned his crisp white shirt and tucked it neatly in his trousers. He swallowed thickly and said, "Can…can one of you go over and tell Hermione…tell her that I don't really want to go on this date?" He chanced a glace at the couple. They looked surprised for a moment, and then Ginny spoke.

"I think Harry ought to go, she may not believe me." Ron turned to her, fully.

"Why?" Then he remembered something. "When she left, she said to you, that you almost had her convinced…convinced of what? What did she mean?"

Ginny simply shook her head. "She didn't mean anything…" she answered sadly. "Well, nothing to do with you. Besides, she wouldn't want me telling our personal discussion," she finished, and Ron did not believe her. Whatever Hermione was talking about had to do with him, he could feel it, but he'd let it go for now.

"Just go speak with her, Harry, please," Ron pleaded.

"Sure," Harry said, though it sounded a bit apprehensive. "Is Hermione what all this frustration is about?" he asked.

Ron was taken aback by the blunt question, but for some reason he felt like answering it. He took out his wand and flicked it, causing the door to shut and lock. He placed the room under a silencing spell and turned to the couple. Harry and Ginny looked at Ron expectantly. He opened his mouth several times before he was finally able to say what was on his mind.

"I'm going to ask Hermione out on a date…well, I want to at least." The couple gaped at him and Ron waited somewhat impatiently for a response. Finally, Ginny spoke up.

"Well, that's fantastic Ron! But why all the secrecy?" she indicated the locked door and silenced room.

"Because, I don't want anyone to know. I don't want to be teased or for anyone to make a fuss over it. If she says no, then she may not feel comfortable coming here if everyone knows I asked and she turned me down."

"She's not going to turn you down!" Harry and Ginny said in unison. Ron sat back, a bit surprised by the force of their statement.

"Be that as it may, I don't want it to leave this room because the Twins will tease her for sure, and I can't risk it. So in a few months when I ask her—"

"A FEW MONTHS!" shouted the couple.

"Ron, you can not wait a few months to ask her out!" Ginny said, sitting forward and glaring at her brother as if he had just said he likes to eat babies.

"Why?" Ron stopped as he was stepping into his loafers. "Is someone else about to ask her?" His heart thumped wildly in his chest at the very thought of it. Harry looked at Ron as if he were completely daft.

"No, mate, no one is about to ask her. At least, not to my knowledge, but why not ask her now? Or in a few days at her birthday party? Why wait a few months?" Harry asked.

"Because, I want to have enough money to…to treat her to a nice dinner and that sort of thing. I want to be able to really court her properly, you know." The room was silent for a moment.

"Why, Ron? Don't you know her well enough to simply go up to her and ask her out? I mean, you know all the things that couples spend years learning about each other. Why court?"

"I don't know everything there is to know about her. I don't know much about her life before she came to Hogwarts. I don't know much about what she does in the Muggle world when she's not with us. I don't know what some of her smiles mean, what some of her looks mean. There is a part of Hermione that she keeps well guarded from all of us and I desperately want to know what it all means." Ron breathed, and slumped down in his desk chair. "There is a side to Hermione that I think only I should see." Ginny and Harry quirked an eyebrow.

"Bloody hell, you two have been around each other far too much." Ron chuckled. "I didn't mean that. I just meant there are things that should be sacred to a couple."

"I understand, and you are right," Ginny said giving Ron a silly sort of dreamy smile. "There are things that only Harry knows about me and things only I know about him, and it's beautiful. I want that for you and Hermione, but you don't have to have lots of money or a long courtship to achieve that. Harry and I didn't. One day we were friends, the next day I kissed him and the next minute, he was my boyfriend." She smiled, and gave Harry a chaste kiss.

"I just want to do this in my own way and in my own time, so let's just leave it for now, okay. I've got to go on this bloody date." Ron stood, looked at himself in the mirror, which told him he was looking sharp, and left for the dreaded evening.