All the Ever Afters

The One Where Harry Has to Try All Twelve - Part One

Chapter One: How to Get Her, Keep Her, Make Her Yours! All in Twelve Easy Steps

Summary: Ginny's in a snit. Harry's in the doghouse. Can Ron, Hermione, and "Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches" possibly make things right?

A/N: Ever since Harry got that book from Ron at the start of DH, I have wanted to know what it said. Now I do. Parts of this story are very loosely based on the T.V. sitcom Friends, particularly episodes 50 – The One Where No One's Ready and WHAT. And no, this story is not going to be 12 chapters. More likely three or four.

It was nearing the end of another school year at Hogwarts and Harry Potter was in trouble. Big trouble. For those who knew him well this did not come as much of a surprise – there had yet to be a May or June since Harry had started at Hogwarts that he did not find himself in some sort of peril, whether from crazily possessed turban-wearing DADA teachers, giant snakes, Dementors, or various other incarnations of evil working on behalf Lord Voldemort. But Harry had rather assumed, naively as it turned out, that the events of the previous May would have ended that whole "it's June so Harry must be about to fight the Dark forces again" thing. After all, he had stood in this very Great Hall and vanquished the Dark Lord, a/k/a Tom Riddle quite completely. In front of an audience, for Pete's sake. The remaining Death Eaters had been rounded up in a matter of months, Kingsley was made permanent Minister of Magic, and Harry and his friends had come back to Hogwarts to finish their last year of schooling before beginning the rest of their lives. He had been looking forward to May and June as involving nothing more taxing than a little studying for his NEWTs and spending inordinate amounts of time with his girlfriend, doing very little of anything serious. Not even thinking too much. Nothing bad was supposed to happen. It was going to be swell.

Oh, bollocks.

Looking back, Harry supposed that the not thinking too much part of his plan was what got him into trouble in the first place, which was unusual. Usually, Harry was pretty in tune to his surroundings. It had been dangerous not to be, what with that whole "Voldemort and his followers wanting to kill him" thing. Riddle's demise must have weakened his defenses, let him become complacent about danger.

Yes, that was it.

This was definitely not his fault.

He could blame it all on Tom.

Tom, who had been gone for a year.

Tom, who was never coming back.

Tom, whom Harry thought wryly, made an only slightly more formidable opponent than the petite, freckled, absolutely adorable, fiery redhead who was currently shooting daggers at him from across the table in the Great Hall.

Oh, double bollocks.

Things had been going great until four days ago. At least, Harry thought they had been going great. At least, he thought that Ginny thought that they had been going great, "I mean, she wouldn't have kissed me like, well, like that if she wasn't happy, right? And she never actually told me anything was wrong, right? And she would have told me if something was wrong, right? Arrgh!"

His internal musings becoming too much to handle, Harry smacked his head on the table, unfortunately failing to avoid the platter of bangers and mash that had been sitting in front of him. This earned him a cold look from Ginny, a sympathetic smile from Hermione, and a grimace from Ron that clearly said, "that's what you get for going out with my sister. I told you it was mental."

Witches should come with road maps. Or instruction manuals. Or one of Hermione's color-coded, hyper-organized daily planners. He clearly needed to be told what to do every minute of every day, in explicit, tri-color detail, right down to what pattern boxers to wear on Mondays and the exact sequence of words he needed to use when talking to his girlfriend and trying to make her happy. Oi. Why wasn't she happy? More specifically, why wasn't she happy with him??

Looking up from where his head still rested on the table, bits of potato clinging to his glasses, Harry saw the back of Ginny's head walking away from the trio. She had left without a goodbye kiss? Without even acknowledging him? This was worse than he thought!

"What did I do to deserve this? Things were going so well between us," he muttered.

"You really don't know, do you?" asked Hermione in a bemused voice.

"If you are using that study technique of yours where you ask open-ended questions until I come up with the answer myself, I really don't appreciate it right now," Harry grumbled. "Things were fine – they were more than fine, even, until she suddenly flipped out on me four days ago." He looked up hopefully at Hermione. "Hey, could it be her, well, you know, her, um, timeofthemonth?" he mumbled the last words under his breath, a red flush creeping up both his neck and, once he understood what Harry was getting at, Ron's.

"Honestly Harry, why do men always try to blame everything on that, instead of possibly admitting that it might be their own fault? You have been back together with Ginny for over a year, have you ever known her to act like this during any other month?"

"No," Harry grudgingly replied.

"Well, what have you done in the past week or so that might have made her mad?"

"Nothing! At least, I think nothing. I mean, I have been a little busier than usual, what with the end of school coming up and going to London to meet with Kingsley about joining the Aurors, but she knows that I needed to do that – she can't expect me to ignore the Minister of Magic, can she?"

"No, Harry, you know Ginny is thrilled that you are going to be able to join the Aurors. But your latest trip to London came at a fairly inopportune time, don't you think?"

"What? Why? Because I missed a Hogsmeade weekend? We've gone there together plenty of times. And I was with her for the most important thing – Remembrance Day, right? I was did everything right then, if I do say so myself. I comforted her when she cried about Fred, I held her hand during all the speeches, I listened to her talk about friends we had lost – what else could I have done? Hogsmeade was two days later, she couldn't still have been sad, could she?"

Harry's head was spinning. Was it possible for a girl to cry for two solid days? Maybe some girls, but not Ginny. That had always been one of the things he loved about her. She had been appropriately sad, but not sloppy, during the Remembrance Day ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, and he thought he had done a pretty decent job of being her boyfriend during that time. The next day she had gone back to being regular old, wonderful Ginny, well, at least until he mentioned that he was going to London again and that he had a lot to prepare for the trip. He had thought he was being particularly generous when he had suggested that she spend some time studying for her NEWTs and catching up with Luna and Hermione, if the latter could be pried away from Ron. She couldn't be mad that he suggested she study, right? Or that she hang out with her friends? He was trying not to smother her, for Merlin's sake! Ginny definitely did not like to be smothered. Or was it that she did not like to be helped through the portrait hole? Or was it that she did not like to be smothered by anyone but him? Harry stopped trying to think – it made his head hurt.

"I don't get it, I just don't get it," he muttered again. Giving Hermione what he hoped to be an appropriately pathetic look, he whined, "just a hint, please? You have seen Ginny when she is upset, you really don't want to prolong this, do you?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Hermione airily. It's not like she is mad at me. In fact, we had a delightful time yesterday together in Hogsmeade. She said that now that nothing special was going to happen that day, she thought it might be fun to shop for new robes or something."

"Stop talking in riddles, Hermione. You know I have no idea what you are talking about. What something special? We never talked about anything special, I definitely would have remembered if she had mentioned something special. Why can't girls just say what they mean?"

"It's because this way they get to act all superior at how oblivious we are to something that they think should be obvious," said Ron through a mouthful of ice cream, some of which he spit all over the table.

"Manners, Ronald!" said Hermione a little more sharply than necessary. "And I resent your insinuation that we witches are that devious. Just because women are fully cognizant of their emotional state and understand the importance of marking significant occasions with the appropriate ceremony does not mean that we enjoy constantly having to point out the inadequacies of your sex. Quite the opposite, in fact."

"Gads, Hermione, have you been hanging around with Percy? How about putting that into plain English?"

"Harry," said Hermione with forced patience, "yesterday was May 19th. Does that date carry any significance with you?"

"Saying 'no' is going to get me into more trouble, isn't it?"

Hermione sighed. "May 19th, Harry. What happened a year ago on May 19th?"

"Uh, I don't know, I think it might have been the day after Fred's funeral, right? We were all at the Burrow relaxing and doing not much of anything. Why is that significant?"

"Do you remember the fact that you and Ginny missed dinner that night? And why?"

"Umm, well, yeah I remember, now that you mention it, but why does the fact that Ginny and I were off snogging by the pond a year ago have anything to do with the reason my girlfriend is not speaking to me today? I mean, its true that we missed her favorite pudding, but that couldn't be the reason, she has had lots of desserts since then, and it couldn't have been that bad a snog, for her to remember it a year later and suddenly decide to be mad about it, right? Is that the kind of thing girls get mad about?" Harry was rambling. Hermione had resumed her bemused expression while Ron just stared blankly at him, a bit of ice cream still dripping down his chin.

"I mean," Harry carried on, a bit desperately now, as if trying to work out a particularly tough homework assignment without Hermione's input, "what could I have done a year ago that has her so mad? Nothing, right? We've been together ever since then, for Merlin's sake, I couldn't have done anything too wrong."

"Aha!" Ron suddenly broke out of his trance. "That's it! You forgot your bloody anniversary! No wonder she is ticked off. I can't believe you still have all your bits in their right places, mate. How could you forget your anniversary?"

"An anniversary of what . . . dating? This is about our anniversary of dating? You have got to be kidding. Ginny wouldn't care about something like that, she always makes fun of . . ." Harry broke off suddenly, realizing that it had not been Hermione who had finally solved the mystery for him. He looked at his best mate as if he had never seen him clearly before.

"Wait a minute . . . Ron? How in the name of Helga Hufflepuff do you know that Ginny is mad at me because I forgot the anniversary of . . . our first kiss for the second time? I mean, I didn't forget our anniversary for the second time, I didn't even know we had an anniversary until about five seconds ago. I mean, the anniversary of the second time we had our first kiss, after we got back together. Not our first, first kiss, you know, our second first kiss."

"I have no idea what you just said, Harrry, but do you honestly still think I am that thick about witches and their feelings?"

"In a word, Ron, yes."

"Well I have news for you, then. While you have spent the past year busily ravishing my little sister in every broom closet between here and London, for all the good it's done your present situation I might add, I have been actually listening to my lovely girlfriend and paying attention to her moods and needs."

"So, what you're basically saying that you haven't been getting any because you've been too busy listening to Hermione talk."

"Harry, considering that my lovely girlfriend is currently sitting beside me smiling sweetly and rubbing her hand along my thigh . . . "

"Oi, TMI Ron!"

". . . and your girlfriend is probably stalking Griffyndor Tower looking for personal items to turn into her very own Harry Potter voodoo doll, I suggest you focus on making up for the fact that you missed the anniversary of your first kiss for the second time, or you second first kiss, or however you want to call it."

"Actually, you missed your first first kiss anniversary too."

"Oh hell, I did what?"

"You missed the anniversary of your first kiss too," repeated Hermione. "And by the way, that was very perceptive, Ron." She beamed at him for a moment and then turned back to Harry. "You mean to tell me that you had no idea that your very first kiss with Ginny in the common room was on May 19th, two years ago, and that your 'reuniting kiss' for lack of a better term was on May 19th one year ago?"

"Again, I have the feeling that a negative answer is not what you are looking for here."

"Blimey, Harry, even I wouldn't miss two years of anniversaries in a row."

"Thanks, Ron. Obviously you are a better man than me." Under his breath he muttered, "at least when it comes to being completely whipped."

"I heard that!"

"This is not helping," sighed Harry. "Ginny has always hated all that sappy, sentimental stuff. Why would she care about it now?"

"Do I really have to explain it to you?" asked Hermione.

"Better you than Ron."

"I heard that too!"

"Fine," said Hermione, trying to look put out and failing miserably. Harry knew she was secretly relishing the fact that she had the chance to start explaining things. Probably many more things than he would ever need to know. Ever. Even if he lived to be 200. And 50. Oh well, he didn't really have a choice, unless he wanted to listen to Ron instead.

"It's true that Ginny does not need a lot of romance and sentiment in her life, or daily affirmations of your love and adoration, unlike some girls at Hogwarts who shall remain nameless." At this point Hermione coughed, making a noise that sounded remarkably like the word 'Lavender' as she did so. "But," she then continued, ignoring Ron's sheepish grin, "that doesn't mean that the occasional recognition of particularly important events would not be appreciated. Without acknowledging things like anniversaries, you might as well just be good friends."

"Good friends with benefits, you mean."

"Thank you, Ronald. But you are actually right." Hermione turned back to Harry. "Doing something like recognizing your anniversary shows her that you think of her as more than a friend you like to snog, that you think of someone important in your life. Someone with whom you would like to spend more anniversaries with in the future."

"But she knows all that already! I'm crazy about her! She's the best thing that has ever happened to me! I mean, I spent two hours last week polishing her broom for her, and I let her have the last piece of treacle tart at dinner the other night, and I even stopped working on my Potions revising and went and changed my socks when she mentioned she smelled something fishy. I had stepped in spilled essence of troutgut earlier that day, you know. "

"Oi, mate, if that is what you call showing that you care, you are in bigger trouble than I thought."

"What was I supposed to do, take her to Madame Puddifoot's and whisper sweet nothings in her ear? I don't want to make her puke, you know."

"Enough," interrupted Hermione. The damage is done. Now we need to figure out how to help you, Harry."

"How about saying I am sorry and planning a nice romantic "day after our anniversary" dinner?"

"Hmmm, let me think about that. No."

"Hermione . . . ."

"Sorry Harry, but she will know that we clued you in to what is wrong, and it will just look like you are trying too hard. Let me think, it has to be something good . . ."

"I've got it! The book! It's perfect! Wait here a second, I'll be right back, don't move!" Ron suddenly jumped up and bolted out of the room with an excited look on his face that Harry usually saw only on Hermione when she was on one of her crazy researching kicks.

"Did I miss something? Did Ron actually just run out on a table full of desserts to go find a, a book? Has the world stopped turning? Does it feel cold in here to you? Because I think Hades just froze over."

"Ahem, Ron has become much more studious lately. It has been a wonderful change," said Hermione primly.

"If he comes back in here carrying his own personalized copy of Hogwarts, a History, I am never speaking to either of you again."

In a matter of a minute or two, Ron was back, panting slightly and carrying a dog-eared book that was much smaller, and somewhat more pink, than Hermione's favorite tome about Hogwarts. He thrust it at Harry. "Here, although you shouldn't need mine. I gave you one of your own last year, remember?"

"Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches?"

"Yes, it is absolutely brilliant. I read it cover to cover. More than once, actually. And I don't hear 'Moine complaining a bit, isn't that right, hon?"

"Wait a minute. All your newly found sensitivity is because of some crazy book you got from Fred and George, and not because you finally started paying attention to some of what I have been saying to you all along about how to get along with women?" Hermione's lips had suddenly formed themselves into a tight line.

"Umm, well, it's worked, hasn't it? Haven't I been a great boyfriend?"

"Honestly, Ronald, that is not the way to go about it – that book could contain all sorts of dangerous concepts, or worse, misinformation! It's much better to gain knowledge from real world experience with a member of the opposite sex who actually cares about you and who can teach you as your relationship develops."

"Hermione," broke in Harry, "am I understanding you correctly that, for the first time in all the years I have known you, you are telling me that I should not read a book?"

"Oh, well, all right. I guess since it worked for Ron."

"I knew you would have to agree!"

"Thanks, Ronald. Let's just focus on helping Harry, shall we?"

The trio bent over the book, which was a sort of grayish color in parts, but with a rather unfortunate picture in the center of a sappy looking witch looking adoringly out of a pink, heart-shaped frame at a wizard who was busily flexing his wand arm for her. Harry opened the book, which immediately began playing soft music and shooting rose petals into the air.

"Oops, I must have stopped reading last time on chapter FIVE," Ron muttered, tapping the book with his wand and making the petals and music stop.

Hermione looked pointedly at Ron. "So, the idea for a romantic evening on a rose-covered bed just 'popped into your head as something I might like, did it?"

While Ron tried to sputter an excuse, Harry grinned with relief that maybe Ron hadn't gone as around the bend as he had first seemed. As his two friends seemed to be gearing up for one of their infamous rows, Harry used years of practice to tune them out and instead opened to the introduction, skeptical that this book was going to be the answer to fixing things with Ginny, but willing to try anything at this point.

INTRODUCTION

If you are reading this, then there must be a witch out there who has caught your fancy, and you need some of our fool-proof tips for Getting Her, Keeping Her, and Making Her Yours! If you don't have a fanciable witch in mind right now, then Put This Book Down! Go to your nearest bookstore and purchase a copy of the first volume in our "You'll Never Be Lonely Again" series, titled "Which Witch? A Guide for the Confused Wizard." And of course, if the "witch" you fancy is actually a bloke, you definitely need to pick up a copy of our bestseller, "Riding His Broomstick", also available by owl order to arrive in discrete brown wrapping paper.

At this point, Harry put the book down with a groan. If this was an accurate sample of the writing style of the entire book, Harry not only could not believe that Ron had actually been able to get together with Hermione, he was rather shocked that he had not instead gotten back together with Lavender. This book seemed to be exactly her kind of thing.

Sighing, he decided that he had better skip the rest of the introduction, which appeared to be one long advertisement for the company's other books, and start right with chapter one.

CHAPTER ONE – Complimenting Your Witch

"I knew that's where Ron learned it!" thought Harry with satisfaction as he bent over the book and began to read.

Let's face it, who doesn't like to receive a well-deserved compliment? If you are trying to impress a lovely lady, there is nothing you can do better to show her you are a caring, attentive individual than complimenting her on some special attribute of hers. It is a sure-fire winner, and easy to do! Simply find your young lady, pick out an appropriate target for your attention, and let her know how wonderful you think it is. Simple!!

The chapter went on with a list of suggested things a wizard could choose to compliment, and phrases to try, but Harry was in a hurry to get started. The faster he complimented Ginny, the faster she would make up with him right? He threw the book in his bag and hurried out of the Great Hall and up to the Gryffindor common room, where he knew Ginny would probably be during her free period, ruefully thinking as he walked that a week ago, she would have spent that free period with him, very decidedly Not in the common room, and wearing decidedly Fewer items of clothing than he had seen her in earlier.

There were only a handful of six and seventh years in the room when Harry arrived (password, chosen by head girl Hermione at Ginny's insistence: Wanker). Ginny was sitting at a table in the corner, working on the Transfiguration essay Harry had yet to begin, sucking on the end of her quill as she thought. Harry walked up to her and sat down, saying "mind if I join you?"

Ginny flicked her eyes at him for a moment and then shrugged, saying "apparently you have already."

"Right." Harry looked Ginny over for something to compliment. Hair? No, she knew he loved her hair, complimenting it would not get her attention. Clothes? She was wearing one of his Quidditch jerseys that she had nicked from his trunk last time they had taken a "study break" in his room. Apparently her disdain for all things Potter did not extend to his clothing. Hmmm. How hypocritical of her. But would it be too egotistical of him to compliment an item of clothing that actually belonged to him? Ginny interrupted Harry's musings to look up at him, sitting at the table staring at her, having taken not so much as a piece of parchment out of his bag.

"Are you going to work, or what?"

Harry was startled, and stumbled to say the first thing that came into his mind. "Oh . . . yeah, I am . . .umm, that's a really nice, umm, quill, Ginny."

Quill??

He hadn't really just complimented her Quill, had he?

Oh, Merlin.

Ginny gave him an amused glance. "It is nice, isn't it? Dean gave it to me on our two-month anniversary. Wasn't that thoughtful of him??"

Oh, hell.

Maybe chapter two would be better.

LIST

Compliments

Asking questions about them – showing interest in their own activities

Cooking for them

Flowers and little gifts and special time alone

Little touches

Helping them out of a jam

Making yourself sound charming, important, brave, etc. and if that doesn't work

Being vulnerable – let them see you cry

Using your wand one

Using your want two

Putting yourself in peril to save them

Big romantic gestures

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