Disclaimer: All characters belong to the wonderful talent of Ms JK Rowling.

A/N: This story isn't a sequel to my first fanfic, Desperado (under the name DDX) but it is sort of like a spin off. If you haven't read it, the first few paragraphs are going to be kind of confusing. But this is for those folks who thought I was a bit harsh on Harry in my D/G fics. They're still in their sixth year, and it takes place a few months after Desperado. (my first attempt at anything other than D/G). Also, it will consist of only a few very short chapters, but I'm stuck on 'beyond redemption' and needed something to get past the writer's block! K

Harry Potter sat in the Three Broomsticks at a table large enough for two couples. Unfortunately, he was sitting by himself. Valentine's Day was approaching and the interior of the inn was festively decorated with hearts and bows. The students at the tables around him were buzzing with excitement because there was going to be a Valentine's Day dance. The mood was happy and full of good cheer, and Harry had never felt more alone. His two best friends in the world were dating and Harry felt more and more like a third wheel on their bicycle of life.

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, his best friends since the first year of school, were supposed to have met Harry here an hour ago. He knew that when they finally arrived they would be full of apologies and remorse. And, hey! They were young and in love and he didn't blame them for losing track of time. He would too, if he had someone to lose track of it with. But it still hurt to be alone.

Taking a gulp of his butter beer, Harry decided he might just wander over to one of the other tables and visit with other friends. But everywhere he looked he saw either strangers or couples. Dean Thomas, the captain of Gryffindor's Quidditch team, was sitting at a tiny table with his girlfriend, Natalie McDonald, a Chaser for Gryffindor. Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbot were sitting with Seamus Finnegan, Parvati and Padma Patel, and Padma's boyfriend, a seventh year from Ravenclaw. Harry let his eyes continue to wander, nodding from time to time at some acquaintances. He finally let his gaze rest on Ron's little sister, Ginny. The small red headed fifth year was sitting alone, but not for long, Harry was certain.

As if on cue, Draco Malfoy slipped into the small booth beside Ginny. Harry felt a small smile slip over his face as he watched the way Malfoy fussed over Ginny. He knew Ron was still uncomfortable with the relationship. Hell, they'd hated Malfoy for five years. But it was obvious to everyone that Malfoy was dedicated to Ginny. And who'd have thought it? Even now, Harry didn't know what exactly had happened to cause the two of them to notice one another in the first place, but before Halloween Malfoy had begun to follow Ginny around the castle. They had even had some run-ins on the practice pitch.

Hermione had noticed first, then told Harry. She didn't know whether to tell Ron or not, knowing he would go ballistic before he knew what was going on. As a matter of fact, he DID go ballistic! He accidentally put Ginny in the hospital wing during their match with Slytherin. But Harry had begun watching them and was frankly shocked to realize that Malfoy was infatuated! He didn't even think Malfoy realized it at first. It had taken Greg Goyle deliberately putting Ginny back in hospital for him to come to his senses about her. Ever since, though, Malfoy had been a different person. He wasn't nice, but he wasn't the arrogant, insulting, smirking prat he'd been, either.

Harry frowned as he watched them. Because of Ron's antics, Gryffindor and Slytherin had to play a rematch. It wouldn't be for another few weeks, but Harry wasn't looking forward to it. When Ron had smacked a Bludger straight at Malfoy's head, he'd accidentally hit Ginny, who had moved to block it. Malfoy and Harry were both only inches from the Snitch, but when Malfoy heard Ginny's cry, he'd pulled up immediately and caught her before she could fall to the ground. What he didn't know, though, was that the Snitch had swerved right at Malfoy the second he had pulled up. If he'd not been distracted, Malfoy would have had the Snitch easily. Slytherin would have won the game. Harry told Dean, who had told Madame Hooch. She'd called for a rematch.

Harry had a feeling that Slytherin was going to win this one. The team was much better than it had been for the first match, and Malfoy was a more patient player this year. Even when Ron had been haranguing him during the game, he'd stayed focused and almost won. But Harry wouldn't mind it as much as he might have. Malfoy treated Ginny well, was obviously devoted to her, and was much easier to live with than he'd been before.

Harry knew Ginny deserved someone who cared for her as much as Malfoy did. He regretted that he hadn't been that person. He'd finally gotten over his obsession with Cho Chang and had actually taken Ginny out on a date last summer. They had fun, but when it was time to end the date, they both felt awkward. Harry had actually gotten up the nerve to kiss her, but they both felt how WRONG the kiss was. Even without siblings, Harry felt like he was kissing his sister! Ginny had felt the same. They decided that they were better off being just friends. He couldn't help wishing, though, that he had someone, too.

Harry was still looking at Malfoy and Ginny when he saw her lean over and whisper something to him. Malfoy gave her a mildly sour look, then shrug and smile. He rose from the booth. Harry looked away, trying to see if Ron and Hermione had come in yet. He was startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned quickly and looked up at Draco Malfoy.

"Hey, Potter, want to share our booth?" Malfoy asked in his smooth, cultured drawl.

So that was what Ginny had said to him. Harry glanced from Malfoy to Ginny, who was nodding and smiling. He smiled back then looked back at the Slytherin team captain. Malfoy's expression shifted quickly from slight jealousy to careful neutrality. Harry couldn't believe that Malfoy still resented Ginny's old crush on him. But he was being gracious about it, and Harry, not wanting to cause ill feelings, was about to graciously thank Malfoy and decline when Ron and Hermione finally showed up.

They rushed up to the table, apologizing as they sat. Hermione glanced at Malfoy and gave him a small smile.

"Hello, Draco. Where's Ginny?" she asked politely.

Ron sort of grunted, "Malfoy," before ignoring him. He still had a hard time accepting Ginny's choice of boyfriend, but as long as Malfoy treated his sister right, he couldn't really complain.

"Well, I'll just head back to our table, then," Malfoy said with a grin. He was still Draco Malfoy and couldn't help getting a slight malicious pleasure at putting Ron's nose out of joint. He didn't quite saunter away, but it was a near thing.

"Stupid git," Ron muttered. Harry and Hermione ignored him. They were used to it and tired of telling Ron that if he didn't act like a git, Malfoy would drop the irritating behavior immediately, if only to please Ginny.

"So," Harry said quickly, not giving Ron a chance to jump on his anti- Malfoy bandwagon again, "what kept you two?"

Hermione blushed, but Ron just grinned.

"Like that, eh? Never mind, then. I DON'T want details."

Ron laughed and Hermione blushed harder. Harry smiled at his friends. Now that they were sitting here laughing and talking together, he forgot his loneliness. His world was all right once again.