Red Hair Is One Thing That I'm All About
['I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages ... months ... years maybe ...' Harry's facing the prospect of going to the Yule Ball alone when the perfect idea pops into his head. He can go with Ginny ... as long as Ron doesn't mind... Not expecting anything to come from it, Harry is surprised and unsuspecting when he falls for Ginny... hard. He wants to be with her... he just hopes Ron can accept it.

A week ago, Harry would have said finding a partner for a dance would be a cinch compared to taking on a Hungarian Horntail. But now that he had done the latter, and was facing the prospect of asking a girl to the ball, he thought he'd rather have another round with the Horntail.

***

Harry was sitting in the Gryffindor Tower one day, going over his options in his head. He knew he had to ask a girl to the ball. The only person he really wanted to go with was Cho, but she was already going with Cedric. He didn't really have any interest in any of the girls in his year. He shuddered at the prospect of going with giggly Lavender Brown.

He was trying to distract himself by picking up his Charms book when Ginny walked into the common room, her red hair flying out behind her. An image shot into his head of him in his dress robes, escorting a beautiful Ginny down the marble staircase and into the Great Hall. Could he really ask Ginny? She was his best friend's sister, after all. Would Ron mind if he went to the Yule Ball with Ginny? Yes. But he had to go with someone...

"Ginny!" he called. She looked up from the armchair where she was scribbling on parchment, probably writing a letter as classes were over for the holidays.

"Yes?" she asked, wondering what Harry wanted with her. He rarely spoke to her when Ron and Hermione weren't around.

"Do you want to go to the ball with me?" Harry asked casually. Ginny dropped her quill and her entire roll of parchment fell off her lap and onto the floor. Was Harry seriously asking her to the Yule Ball? She'd daydreamed about it of course, picturing she and Harry dancing to slow music, wrapping her arms around his neck, moving slowly towards him... But she hadn't expected any of it to come true. She could tell by his tone that he was only asking her as a friend and she didn't mind... much.

"Sure," Ginny said, trying not to act as excited as she was. But she picked up her things and went up to her dormitory, and once she was there she jumped up and down and squealed. Fortunately there was nobody else in the dormitory or they would've looked at her like she was crazy.

***

Hermione was the first to find out that Harry and Ginny were going to the Yule Ball together and when Harry told her she smirked and giggled to herself. Apparently it was "obvious" that Ginny liked him and Harry couldn't disagree there. Ginny had been acting weird around him ever since she'd met him but she'd matured a lot since arriving at Hogwarts.

Ron still didn't know as he was too busy trying to find a date of his own, and neither Harry nor Ginny wanted to be the one to tell him. Ginny thought that Ron wouldn't mind as much if he knew that they were only going as friends and Harry agreed, although he still didn't want to tell him. Not just because Ginny was Ron's sister, but because Ron was yet to find a date of his own.

It was only two days left till the ball and Ron still didn't have a date. He was sitting with Harry in the common room, who was going over the best ways to tell his best friend about his own date in his head, putting off the moment when he actually told him.

"Ron, did I tell you that I'm going to the ball with Ginny?" Harry said casually, trying to slip it into conversation although he knew it wouldn't work. Ron fell off his chair and hit his head on the corner of the table.

"What?" he cried, rubbing his head absentmindedly. Harry turned a page in his issue of The Daily Prophet, allowing the news to sink in. Ron's brow furrowed as he processed the information but he seemed to come to a conclusion.

"You're not... dating her, right?" he questioned. Harry shook his head.

"We're just going as friends Ron," he pointed out. Ron nodded understandably, thinking that this seemed to be in order. He didn't mind his best friend and his sister going to the ball together, but he drew the line at them snogging in the corridor.

"That's fine," Ron said vaguely, picking up the parchment he'd been scrawling names of potential dates across. Fleur Delacour, Hannah Abbott, Lavender Brown, Susan Bones. The first one was of course impossible. Hannah was a nice enough girl but really boring. Lavender was always giggling which he found really annoying. He didn't really know Susan, but didn't like the idea of going with her.

There was another person that he really wanted to go with but he wasn't even going to go there. It was just too awkward and there was no way he was going to admit to liking her. He could just go solo. It wasn't like he had to stand up and dance to open the ball like Harry. He could sit in the corner and sip Butterbeer. This image didn't look very bright; all his friends having fun while he sat by himself.

He couldn't bring himself to ask anyone though. Only when Harry suggested Parvati Patil did he think this over. He could ask her, he knew he could. He went up to his class mate and just blurted it out.

"Do you want to go to the ball with me?" he asked quickly. Parvati raised her eyebrows, but didn't laugh or snigger. This had to be a good sign. He could see her going over the idea in her head and hoped that she was thinking yes.

"Alright then," she said finally, twirling her hair around her finger. Ron took this as his cue to go and hurried back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry was sitting across from Ginny who was pretending not to watch him.

"So, what did she say?" Harry asked when he saw Ron join them. Ginny looked up from the letter she'd been writing.

"What did who say?" she asked interestedly.

"None of your business," Ron said, just as Harry blurted out "He asked Parvati to the ball." Ron glared at Harry as his sister erupted into giggles. She was laughing so hard she started coughing, earning several annoyed stares from the fifth years studying hard for their O..

"So, what did she say?" Harry asked when Ginny's laughter had died down.

"She said yes," Ron said finally, sighing. He didn't want to go with Parvati, but he knew that the girl he wanted to go with would raise her eyebrows and politely decline, or burst out laughing like Ginny just had.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, closing his Charms book. Ron shrugged his shoulders and Harry dropped the subject. He wasn't going to push Ron tonight, on Christmas Eve of all days. Meanwhile Ginny was picturing herself, inching closer to Harry beneath the mistletoe...

Ginny sat up in bed, her red hair stuck to her face. It had just been a dream, but every part of her wished it had been real. She was going out with Harry and Ron didn't mind... she was kissing Harry in the hallway before she went to class... she and Harry going to Hogsmeade and disappearing into a corner of the Three Broomsticks... she and Harry in her room at the Burrow. The longer she'd been asleep, the wilder her fantasies had gotten until one had been so intense that it had woken her up. Oh, if only it was real.

***
Harry got up on Christmas and grinned. Tonight was the Yule Ball, but now... presents.