"Why can't they find a different way to celebrate?" Harry asked as he banged his head on the table between words.
"Calm down Harry." Ginny chuckled, "It's not that bad."
"Not that bad?" he asked, "Do you remember how horrible the Yule ball was?"
"I do remember." she tried to suppress her laughter, "But you have time. Find a teacher and learn this time."
"That is only half the problem." he grumbled, "I have to find a date too. Preferably one who won't mind taking lessons with me so I know how to dance with her."
"Quit whining." Ginny scolded as the rest of her family tried to hide their own laughter at Harry's expense, "You will be fine."
"I am not whining." Harry huffed, "I'm complaining bitterly."
The rest of the Weasleys couldn't stop the spouts of laughter at his declaration. Lunch time was never a dull time at the Burrow. Something was always going on. Generally to the entertainment of the rest of them, which is just the case for this day.
"Then stop complaining." she replied exasperated.
"I'm going to be humiliated." he continued to complain despite Ginny's admonition, "I can't even think of anyone who would want to go with me. I'll be in the middle of the dance floor trying to lead the dance alone."
"You will not." she sighed.
"I'll be all alone." he pointed his fork at her for emphasis.
"There are plenty of girls would love to go with you." she raised her voice and started turning slightly pink, "Honestly you've been named Witch Weekly's Hottest Bachelor and Most Eligible Bachelor for the last five weeks. Nearly every available witch out there, and some not available, would jump at the chance to attend this Ball with YOU. Attending dancing lessons with you would just be icing on their cake."
"They won't be jumping because I'll be standing on their toes." He said sarcastically, "No one wants to go through that."
"They won't care." she sighed in aggravation, "I will just be another way to touch you."
Harry paused in the argument and looked thoughtful for a few moments. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief thinking she had finally gotten him to understand. But a second later their hopes were dashed when he got a challenging look on his face which included a wicked grin.
"Care to put your toes where you mouth is?" he asked sweetly.
"Not really." she said back sarcastically, "I like them in my shoes thank you."
"Not literally." Harry shook his head and rolled his eyes, "I mean you do it. You teach me to dance, you sacrifice your toes and you go to the ball with me."
He sat back in his seat grinning, thinking he had won this argument. But it was a short lived victory when she got a mischievous grin on her own face.
"Ok." she said, "But…"
"Uh oh he's in trouble now." George sang.
Ginny continued as if she hadn't interrupted, "I reserve the right to get help in teaching you how to dance because you may just be too bad at for me to correct alone."
"Ok." Harry took a deep breath he had not been prepared for that answer, "You can get help. I promise to try my hardest but just know you may still be embarrassed when we get to the Ball because I'm not sure I am teachable in this arena. I will even apologize in advance for any injuries you may get from this endeavor."
"How soon do you want to start?" she asked.
"Yesterday." he grumbled, "I need all the help I can get."
"Ginny, I will help if you want." Fleur offered.
"Good idea." Ginny rubbed her head. "I'm also going to need a dress. Got anything in your closet I can borrow?"
Harry barely was able to hide his shock. This was the first time he'd seen Ginny getting along with Fleur. Grant it he had been gone for the last year, but how much could things have really changed? He soon found the answer when Bill gave him a sympathetic look.
"You're in for it now." he mumbled, "When those two start plotting no one is safe.
"He's right." George added even though Ginny and Fleur were frowning at him, "Fred and I pranked them last summer. When they teamed up to get us back it was nothing short of humiliating. We were just glad we didn't have to go out into public."
"Did you get pictures?" Harry asked the girls with a grin.
"No they hid all the cameras." Ginny pouted dramatically, "But I'll give you a detailed description later."
"Deal!" Harry laughed.
"We did warn him Bill." George said, "He can't say we didn't."
"George after being her brother this long one would think you knew the secret to getting along with her." Harry took the air of a teacher as he began to lecture, "Don't prank her and she won't prank you back twice as hard. Don't embarrass her and she won't humiliate you. Don't push her and she won't kill you. If you just follow these simple rules you too can be a friend of Ginny Weasley."
Her brothers were howling with laughter when he was finished. Ginny had been nodding along in agreement and said, "One hundred percent correct Harry. You get an O."
"Fleur will you work with Ron and I too?" Hermione asked.
"Yes but not at the same time as Ginny and Harry." she responded, "He is a hand full all on his own."
"Thanks a lot Fleur." Harry grumbled, "When is the torture, I mean teaching going to start?"
"Tomorrow." she rubbed her hands together, "Today we must shop."
"Shop?" Ron choked, "What for?"
"Dress robes." Fleur said like it was the most fun thing in the world.
"Just you girls right?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Non Harry, you and Ronald also need appropriate clothes, " she smiled at their groans and gave them a bit of good news, "We will shop for you two first and then you must leave. Our dress robes must be a surprise."
"Thank goodness for small favors." Ron grumbled quietly, but Charlie still heard him.
"We'll play quidditch when you get back." Charlie slapped his youngest brother on the back.
"A bright spot in an otherwise dark day." George intoned.
The girls were the ones laughing this time. Harry and Ron offered to clean up the kitchen after lunch but frowns from the females in the room made them give up quickly.
An hour later Ron was sitting in a chair smiling smugly. He had a variety of reasons to smile. His dress robes were nice black robes without any lace or frills of any kind. But the best reason was that he was done and Harry was still being fitted.
"Do you like these Harry?" Hermione asked.
"My opinion doesn't matter." Harry sighed, "Ginny's the one that has to be seen with me so she has final say. Besides I wouldn't know if it looked nice because I'm completely clueless. I'd be at a complete loss without her."
"And don't you forget it." Ginny called from the dress rack she was searching.
"All done." Madam Malkin called as another group of girls entered the shop.
The squeals let him know he was in danger and he tried to make a hasty exit to the fitting room. He didn't get far before one girl grabbed his arm and halted his progress.
"Hi Harry." she smiled.
"Hello Romilda." Harry didn't even try to hide the disgust in his voice.
"Are these the robes you're going to wear to the Ball?" she asked rubbing his arm, "Oh, I can feel the attraction it just gave me a little shock."
"You felt static electricity." Harry tried to pull away, "I have to go change now."
"It's our attraction." she corrected him, "Don't you want to ask me something?"
"Yes I do." Harry turned on her, "Would you please let go of my arm so I can go change?"
"I mean about the ball." she laughed.
"No." Harry said shortly, "I already have a date thank you anyway."
"So dump whoever it is. I'll go with you so you don't need anyone else." she said coyly.
"No." he glanced at Ginny and saw she was getting mad, "I have to go now. Madam Malkin needs to do the alterations. So if you'll just let go."
He was finally able to detach her and he practically ran to the fitting room. He stopped just behind the curtain to the men's side and leaned against the wall trying to keep from throwing up.
"Miss the girls fitting rooms are on the other side of the shop." Harry looked up sharply to find Romilda's hand ready to pull the curtain open.
He slipped quietly off to his cubicle to quickly change back into his clothes before the girl was able to slip past everyone. As he was returning to the front of the shop he heard voices that he recognized.
"Stay away from him Vane." Ron was just outside the curtain evidentially standing guard for Harry.
"I will get him and his millions so you better be nice to me." she growled, "Or once I have him I'll turn him against you and your stupid family."
"You couldn't catch flies." Ginny scoffed from the other side of the shop, "He's far too smart to fall for any of your tricks. Shall I remind you of your attempt at love potion a few years ago?"
"I will get him and I'll make sure he knows how you've tried to get your claws in him." she said, "You just want him so that your family can escape poverty."
"No." Ginny's voice sounded exasperated and angry, "I don't want him for his money. I don't want him because he's the Boy Who Lived or the Man Who Won. I like Harry because he's Harry. He's one of the nicest blokes you'll ever meet, but you don't see that."
"Ha nice is stupid." she declared as she stomped her way over to Ginny, "That's why you're poor. You are more interested in nice when you should be interested in your status. The only thing you're good for…"
"I'd not say anymore if I was you Vane." Harry stepped out from behind the curtain.
"Harry you should have heard how she was bad mouthing you." Romilda was able to get fake tears to her eyes before she turned to face him, "You should really go to the ball with me so I can protect you against girls like her."
"I'll tell you this once more nicely and then the nice goes away," Harry stated firmly, "I have a date to the Ball and it's not you."
"But you really don't understand Harry." she tried to reach out for him again.
"I warned you." Harry pulled away so she couldn't touch him, "I am not going to ever date you so put me out of your mind. That love potion a few years ago ensured I would never have anything to do with you under any circumstances. You are nothing to me. I no longer see you. You do not exist. Am I done now Fleur?"
"Yes you are." she hugged him.
While still in the hug Harry whispered, "Don't let Ginny hurt her too badly."
"Ok." Fleur tried to hold in a laugh.
"What did he say?" Romilda asked after Ron and Harry had gone.
"He said to make sure I don't let Ginny hurt you too much." Fleur nodded at her sister who had her wand out and an evil grin on her face.
Romilda fled the shop screaming and she was followed by her friends. The shop keeper and her helpers laughed after they all left. They were joined by the three patrons still in the shop.
"Glad that's over." Ginny sighed and went back to the rack she was looking in, "What did he really say?"
"Not to let you hurt her too much." Fleur turned to her own rack and began looking.
Ginny turned gaping at her sister in law for several moment before she went back to her search. After a few moment she felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning she came face to face with the shop keeper.
"You're looking in the wrong rack." she steered her to a more expensive group of robes, "If you are going to get Mr. Potter's attention you need to be looking here."
"But I'm not trying to get his attention." Ginny tried to argue.
"You should be. We would like to see that poor boy get a good kind girl." she grinned then indicated the door, "I would hate to see him get stuck with something like that."
"She is right." Fleur stated coming along side, "We need to open his eyes so that he can see what his heart is telling him."
"What is it telling him?" Ginny asked bewildered.
"That he likes you." the shop girl on the other side stated, "It's rather obvious"
"Obvious to who?" Ginny didn't believe them.
"Everyone but you and Harry." Hermione said of handedly, "Here's one you should try on."
Ginny walked over and looked at the price, "Don't think so."
"Ignore that." Fleur said, "Take it to the fitting room along with these and start trying them on."
As Ginny changed she yelled out, "Everyone like who?"
"Ron." Hermione answered, "And if he knows everyone else does too."
"No way." Ginny called back, "I am not as blind as Ron."
"You are when it comes to Harry." Fleur mumbled.
"What do you think?" Ginny came out into the main part of the shop in the dress Hermione had picked.
"Nice." Fleur said tugging on it in a few places, "Go try on the next one."
Twenty robes later Ginny was ready to drop. As she walked out of the room she yelled, "I hope this one's it because I'm getting sick of trying these things on."
"No." Fleur said as she turned to look, "It must pop."
Ginny grumbled murderously as she stomped back into the room. The shop girl was taking most of the dresses she'd already tried on and left a few new ones.
"Why must it pop?" she yelled frustrated.
"If you want to stay friends then by all means just pick any dress. Then you can stand back and watch the others try to get his attention." Fleur replied, "If you want to keep him keep trying."
"Who say's I want him." she stated.
"I do." Hermione handed another dress through the curtain,
"Shut up." Ginny growled and Hermione left chuckling.
Five robes later and Ginny gave a squeal from her room, "This is it."
"Show us." Hermione called.
She stepped out in one that Fleur and just taken back. Even without adjustments she looked fantastic. When it was truly fit to her she would look magnificent.
"Yes!" everyone in the shop agreed.
"Here put the shoes on and we make the adjustments." Madam Malkin clapped.
Ginny was standing on the podium as they were pinning her up. Her smile lit up her face making her even more beautiful. Fleur and Hermione stood off to the side chatting.
"I bet he faints." Hermione said,
"Non, his mouth will fly open and he will catch flies." Fleur giggled.
"No he'll say Weasley you clean up alright." Ginny said in a bad imitation of Harry.
"He is not that crass." Fleur objected, "He may be clueless be he is not blind."
When they left the shop two hours later Ginny was in a daze. She didn't hear the snide remarks she was getting from Romilda and her friends. It wasn't until Hermione was congratulating her on keeping her temper that she knew anything had happened.
"I didn't hear a thing." Ginny shrugged, "I probably would have hexed them if I had heard it."
"All done?" Harry asked as they entered the kitchen where the rest of the Weasleys were just sitting down to dinner.
"Yes." Ginny smiled, "I'm starving what's for dinner?"
"Food." Ron said, "Does it really matter what kind?"
"At this point no." Ginny laughed.
"What did you do to her?" Ron asked.
"Nothing." Ginny said filling her plate.
"Who did you do nothing to and why?" George asked.
"Romilda Vane." Hermione said, "She left the shop in tears."
"What did you do?" Harry asked.
"Nothing." Ginny declared, "I already said that."
"She did have her wand in her hand." Fleur admitted.
"So she did do something." George turned to his sister.
"I can't do anything." she said, "I'm not seventeen yet. You two quit trying to get me in trouble."
"Sorry Ginny." Hermione chuckled, "Romilda asked what you whispered to Fleur and she told her. Made the girl run screaming from the shop because Ginny's wand was in her hand."
"What did you say?" Bill asked.
"I told her not to let Ginny hurt Vane too much." Harry said then turned to Ginny with a teasing grin, "You should have done something, she was practically groping me in public. I was hoping you'd be my knight in red armor."
"She was groping Harry in public and you didn't do anything?" George asked exasperated.
"Don't need to." Ginny smiled sweetly, "I'm going to hit her where it hurts the most and I won't have to lift a finger. The best revenge is when you don't have to do anything."
"How's that?" Harry asked.
"I have a date with you." Ginny took a bite of her dinner.
"Once again your brilliance amazes me." Harry laughed, "I am in awe."
"Thank you." Ginny bowed her head in his direction, "Now all you have to do is become a proficient dancer and you too can get sweet revenge."
"I bow to your greatness and submit myself to your teachings." Harry stood and bowed to her.
"What?" Charlie was confused.
"Vane wants to be Harry's date to the Ball." Fleur said, "She tried to get Harry to dump his date and go with her. She doesn't know his date is Ginny."
Bill who sat at the far end from Harry whispered to Fleur but his father could hear, "Do you think the two of them will ever figure it out?"
"They have to or we'll all go mental." Arthur whispered his reply.
"They will." Fleur said, "Very shortly they will."
"What are you going to do?" Bill asked warily.
"Teach them to dance." Fleur smiled sweetly.
"If that doesn't work?" Bill asked.
"I picked out her dress." Fleur brushed back her hair.
"He's toast." Bill and Arthur declared together.
"I've not heard that before." Fleur pouted, "What does it mean?"
"Toast can't become bread again, it has been permanently changed." Bill explained, "It means he's done for, he can't undo it now."
"He is toast." Fleur agreed with a wicked smile, "I think he will enjoy being toasted."
"We all do dear." Bill kissed his wife, "We all do."
The next morning Harry and Ginny met Fleur at Shell Cottage. Ginny had the shoes that matched he dress in her hands.
"Why are you carrying shoes?" Harry glanced at the heal.
"It is best to learn to dance in the shoes she will be dancing in." Fleur instructed, "That way she doesn't change heights on you the night of the ball. It could throw everything off."
"Good point." Harry conceded.
"Next lesson, to look like a fantastic dancer even when you are not use shield charms on the feet." she drew her wand and placed shield on Ginny's feet after she was in the shoes.
"Good." Harry sighed in relief, "I was preparing to be hexed every time I stepped on her foot."
"Hush." Ginny smacked his arm.
"Now Harry, place your hand here on her waist." Fleur spent several hours working with the two. By the time she was finished they weren't doing half bad.
"You are a miracle worker." Harry hugged her before they left.
"Not today." she laughed, "If you can dance well by the Ball then I will be a miracle worker."
Three days before the ball they were at the cottage for lessons again. They were to the point where they were doing quite well. Fleur was please with their progress. This time she put on a slow song for them to dance to and stepped away to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
"Can I tell you a story?" Harry asked as he held her close and swayed to the music.
"Sure." Ginny grinned.
"Once upon a time there was a boy with messy black hair and green eyes." he started.
"Goody." Ginny laughed, "An exciting tale."
"Hush." Harry said, "Anyway this boy was going along with life just fine until one day with the evil Minister decided to have a Ball and make the boy go."
"Scary." Ginny giggled.
"I know." Harry said, "Luckily the stupid boy knew a brilliant, funny, beautiful witch that could help him out."
"This is about Hermione?" she asked.
"No, hush." he told her again, "She helped him about by agreeing to teach him how to dance and go to the ball with him even thought he was about as bright as fog and not nearly as cute."
"Good witch." Ginny nodded.
"She is." Harry sighed, "Anyway as he was learning to dance he was learning something else too."
"What did he learn." Ginny asked.
"He learned that he really liked the witch and that he wanted to kiss her. He only held back because he was afraid she'd hex him."
"She won't." Ginny whispered.
"Ok." Harry leaned down and kissed her and forgot all about dancing.
Fleur peeked at them from the kitchen. She pulled back with a grin and did a little dance at her success. When the song ended she looked again and they were just holding each other. She gave them a few moments before she poked her head in the door.
"Do you want another song?"
"I think we're going to take a break." Ginny said.
"Walk on the beach?" Harry asked.
The two left hand in hand with Fleur smiling at them as they went. She kept an eye on them as she finished her dinner for Bill. They spent more time kissing that anything else.
"My turn for the story." Ginny hugged Harry close, "Once upon a time there was a little red haired girl that was obsessed with Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. She was so obsessed that she couldn't speak when he was in the room. All she managed was putting her elbow in the butter dish. It took her ages to realize he was just a regular bloke and not some romance novel hero. But when she did she realized she like him for who he was not what he had done."
"Good story." Harry pulled her chin up so he could see her face and he kissed her again.
Back inside the cottage Bill was watching out the window with Fleur, "It worked. I had my doubts but you did it."
"I did nothing but teach them to dance." Fleur demurred.