When I got back to the common room, the preparations for a large celebration had already begun. Lavender and Parvati ran up to me and blabbed for a minute about how fantastic Harry had been during the task and claiming that they’d always known he’d do great. I just smiled and nodded and laughed at the right moments. They saw someone else walk through the door and ran off to greet them. I took a deep breath and looked around, ready to find my friends and then my leg hit something. I looked down and realized I had knocked over Dean Thomas’s paint can. He had been working on a Gryffindor Banner with a picture of Harry and the dragon at the top. He was quite the artist. The paint splattered all over the banner. “Oh dear,” I said bending down and trying to clean up the mess, “Damn, I’m always doing this.”
“It’s not a big deal,” he promised, grinning at me like nothing was wrong in the world.
“No it is,” I said, “I’m such a klutz. Really, wherever I go I always knock over paint cans or stick my elbows in butter. It’s quite embarrassing.”
“I can imagine,” he laughed.
“What can I do to help,” I asked.
“Well, we are wizards and witches here. I’m sure someone knows scourgify,” Dean said. I saw Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet walk in and called them over.
“What’s going on,” Angelina asked causally.
“Not much; I’m knocking down paint jars and ruining banners one misplaced foot at a time.” The two girls smiled and Dean chuckled. “I was hoping one of you could help us fix it.”
“Certainly,” Angelina said. “But Alicia is really the better one at these types of things.”
“Go right ahead,” Dean said, backing up. Alicia waved her wand and muttered something and the paint zipped back into its bucket.
“Wow,” I complimented.
“Thanks a ton,” Dean said and the two girls departed.
“So sorry about that, again.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“You’re a really good artist,” I observed and joy spread across his face. It was the same expression Hermione made when someone told her she was smart or Charlie made if someone told him he was a great flyer.
“You really think so?”
“I really do,” I answered. The portrait door opened and in walked Emma, Gwen, William and Colin. I stood up. “I’ve got to go.”
“So many messes to make, so little time,” he joked.
“Exactly,” I laughed before I stood up and walked over to the foursome.
The school settled back into a relatively normal routine after the first task. Yes, everyone was still jittery and excited, but less than before. People still discussed the tournament, but they were also becoming more interested in their personal lives and what happened to them. I had managed to stay out of trouble for most of the year. Funny enough, this just seemed to make Snape hate me even more. I guess the fact that I corrected him one day in class didn’t help either. But Hermione had told me multiple times that philtre is a potion designed to enchant or charm the drinker and Snape just happened to screw up somewhere. I had to correct him. It was my duty to Hermione. I continued to excel at Charms and D.A.D.A. I was definitely improving at Transfiguration and Ancient Runes. Luna happened to be very good at Astronomy and aided me quite often. Sprout still had a soft spot for me because of first year, but I wasn’t very great at Herbology or History of Magic. However Hagrid had introduced Skrewts and well… they were Skrewts and he wanted us to walk them. It was bad. But I would never tell anyone that.
In the first week of December, we sat in McGonagall’s class, waiting for the bell to ring. We’d just finished a pop quiz and most people were busy chatting about how unfair pop quizzes were. McGonagall had taken the quizzes to her office. Something flew through the air and hit Gwendolyn hard in the back of the head. She cried out ouch and picked up a medium sized rock. I snapped around and found myself looking at Vaisey and Frome both with smirks on their faces. “I’d thought we’d learned our lessons about throwing pebbles, Vaisey,” I growled. Another stone came flying at me, but my hand instinctively shot up and caught it. Vaisey’s eyes grew wide and Frome’s jaw dropped. Several other students were staring at and muttering how’d she do that? Oh, how useful it was to be a secret Quidditch chaser. “Or shall I refresh your memory?”
“Settle down please,” McGonagall said as she returned. She looked back and forth between me and the two Slytherins. “Miss Weasley is there a problem?”
“No Professor,” Amy Frome blurted out.
“I didn’t ask you, Miss Frome,” MacGonagall stated and Amy’s expression became one of distaste.
“Everything will be fine Professor,” I assured her, my eyes still on Vaisey, begging him to give me a reason to use the Bats Bogey Hex.
“Good because you all know that I do not except tomfoolery in this school. I have an important announcement to make so if you would please return to your assigned seats and pay attention.” There was some movement and rustling of papers before she continued. “One of the mandatory parts of the Triwizard Tournament is the Yule Ball which is always held on Christmas night.” Chatter broke out around the room. “Quiet please! The Yule Ball is only for fourth years and above.” Gwendolyn moaned. “However if you are asked by an older student, you may go. Please consider this is your decision to stay or leave for the holidays. You are dismissed.”
We all got up and dispersed and entered the hallway in a flurry. Gwendolyn blabbed, “Catalina told me that McGonagall was going to make a special announcement, but I didn’t realize it would be this fantastic! But it’s really not fair that we can’t go on our own. I would have loved to have gone with Ted, but now the only way I’ll be able to go is if an older student asks me.”
“Don’t get too excited Miller,” a sharp voice called. We all turned to look at the faces of Frome and Vaisey with several other Slytherins behind them. “No upperclassman would ever go with you.”
“Oh and since you have such a beautiful face someone would ask you,” I mocked. “Well, maybe if they were under the Imperious Curse. But that would be a highly cruel form of torture.” Frome crossed her arms and clinched her jam so tightly that the veins in her neck popped out.
“Well there’s no way Potter’s going to ask you,” Vaisey said. “He’ll probably go with that mud blood.”
“You mean the ‘Stunningly Beautiful’ one; I guess she does stun some people with those beaver teeth,” Frome added.
“Vaisey, you could probably find some whore to take you; Astoria will probably be going with Zabini,” I said and he lunged at me.
“Bitch,” he said, trying to grab at me while I dodged him.
“Ohh; that one hurt,” I said sarcastically. Once again I was prevented from the using the Bat Bogey Hex due to McGonagall walking out of her classroom an straight into our two colliding groups.
“Stop,” she commanded. Vaisey stopped leaping towards me and I froze. “Since you two clearly can’t manage to put aside your differences, I am going to have to take points from your houses.”
“But,” I tried to say.
“But nothing Miss Weasley,” McGonagall declared. “15 points from both Slytherin and Gryffindor! Now get on to your next class before I decide to give you detention.”
“Way to go way, Weasley,” Frome muttered as she pushed pass me.
“A week’s Detention, Miss Frome,” McGonagall shouted. Frome’s smirk dropped from her face. “Are you finished or do I need to make it a month long?”
“No Professor,” Frome answered and stomped off down the hallway, followed closely by her crew. I briefly caught McGonagall’s eye, trying to thank her.
“Get moving Weasley,” she said, but I knew she got the message.
Once all the students had heard about the upcoming Yule Ball, the school went completely mad. Most of the female students would giggle whenever a boy looked her way and I couldn’t go to the bathroom without hearing gossip about who was going with whom. The boys seemed terrified. I would often catch Ron looking over at the Beauxbatons with longing. As often as Ron would stare at the Foreigners, Harry would be gazing at Cho Chang. Emma, Colin and Dennis immediately signed up to go home for the holiday. William claimed that Mrs. Miller had asked for all three of her children to be home for the break, but Gwendolyn seemed to be in denial. “The thing is,” she said as we sat down to eat breakfast one morning, “I want to go to the ball, but I want to go with Ted, but he’s not a fourth year, so we couldn’t go together; so then I guess I should go home, but then I’ll miss the ball and everyone will be talking about it forever…” I’d heard this argument a 100 times in the last week and knew it would continue on indefinitely.
“Are you staying Ginny,” William asked, cutting off Gwendolyn who promptly glared at him.
“I think so,” I answered, “Ron, Fred, and George are all planning on staying. Charlie and Bill have to work. So if I went home, it’d just be Percy, Mum, Dad and I. And I would like to avoid that.”
“So you think you’ll go to the ball,” Emma inquired while buttering her toast.
“Probably not,” I said. “No will ask me--”
“Are you kidding me,” Gwendolyn exclaimed, “Of course someone will you! You’re gorgeous!” I was about to object when someone politely tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to find a handsome face of a Ravenclaw looking back at me. He had dark brown hair and sparkling blue eyes. Yes, they were sparkling. He was quite attractive. I’d seen him, but I didn’t know his name.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I was going to ask if you would do me the pleasure of accompanying me to the Yule Ball,” he asked charmingly. “I know we have never actually met, but I believe we would have quite a nice time together.” Gwendolyn and Emma sat there staring at me. Colin and William tried to busy themselves with their meal awkwardly. I had no idea what to say.
“I, um,” I mumbled. My cheeks were turning red and I felt like vomiting. “I’m sorry, but no thank you.” He smiled softly, although he seemed disappointed.
“Perhaps next time,” he said with a wink before returning to the Ravenclaw table.
“Are you insane,” Gwendolyn screeched at me once he was gone. “Why in the world would you say no to… to that beautiful, beautiful boy!”
“Because I have no idea who he is,” I answered politely. “Now if you would excuse me, I told Hermione I’d meet her in the library. Have a nice day.”
I got up and walked away. I could hear Gwendolyn continue on about my insanity. I didn’t really know why I hadn’t said yes at the time. He had seemed nice enough and he was certainly handsome. Plus, I couldn’t just go to the ball alone. And I wanted to go. I didn’t tell anyone, but a magical dance full of wonder and romance was a scene I had acted out many times as a young girl. Of course my partner was always Harry Potter... Anyways, a few days after the mysterious Ravenclaw had asked me to the ball, I was sitting in the library with Hermione once again hearing complaints about Victor Krum’s fan club.
“I mean, they don’t even know him,” she repeated for the umpteenth time. “They probably think he is an airheaded, egotistical, talented athlete who only dates girls who giggle at him while he walks around the castle!”
“Talented,” I said, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, yes, he is very talented,” Hermione said, “A fool would know that. But my point is that maybe he prefers to spend his time studying for school and working towards a good future instead of being giggled at!”
“Maybe he does,” I agreed, “I just don’t know why you care?” I wouldn’t have been asking her so many questions, if I didn’t notice the way she stared at Krum she thought I wasn’t looking.
“Because it disrupts my studying,” she answered firmly. “Harry needs to figure out what this next task is going to be about and soon.” She paused and scanned a page of an ancient book before flipping on to the next chapter. Krum was a few rows over as always. He had been in the library every single time I went in. Either he was more of an intellectual than Hermione or something else entirely was as foot. I leaned my chair backwards and glanced over at Krum’s table. He was staring intently at our table. I was taken aback at first, but I followed his gaze and realized it landed right on Hermione. He saw me looking and immediately stuck his head back into his book. I couldn’t help but grin.
“Hermione,” I said all too loudly, “I’m going to go put these books away.” I was practically shouting. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Krum must have heard that. I got up and walked in the opposite direction as Krum. I dunked behind a towering shelf of books and waited.
“Excuse me, madam,” a gruff voice that could only belong to Victor Krum said. His accent was extremely thick. “I am Victor Krum.”
“Oh, hello,” Hermione said, her voice very high and more girly than usual. “I’m Hermione Granger.”
“Hermy-owny,” he repeated and she giggled.
“No, Her-Mio-ne,” she sounded out.
“Herrmeony,” Victor tried again and she laughed. “I ‘ave been enchanted by you for a number of weeks, Herrmeony. I want to ask you to attend the Yule Ball with me.”
“I, I would be honored,” she said, stumbling over her own words. I peeked around the corner. Krum bowed politely, looking very pleased and walked back to his table. Hermione was practically glowing. I slowly walked back towards the table, but Hermione was completely off in her own world.
“I, I would be honored,” I mocked and she jumped.
“Oh, Ginny,” she said as she tried to look less excited.
“It’s okay to squeal, you know,” I said and a smile broke out across my face.
“There’s no need,” she insisted, but her eyes were bright. “I can’t believe he really asked me.”
“I can,” I said, “He has no patience for those giggling, transparent fan girls.”
“He asked me,” she repeated, as if the words didn’t sound right in her mouth. “Why would he ask me?
“Because you are a beautiful, smart, caring person,” I answered instantly.
“I’m going to go to the ball,” she said, grinning, “I’m going to go to the Ball with Victor Krum! ME!”
“I knew you fancied him,” I laughed.
“He is quite good at quidditch,” she said, blushing, “He’s a good wizard, too. Cares about books. Rather handsome. And polite! Did you see how polite he was? Ron would never have been so gentlemanly.”
“Funny that you bring up Ron,” I observed. She looked down, a clear sign that she didn’t feel comfortable discussing both Ron and Victor.
“Ginny, do you think we could keep this a secret for,” she asked, “Just between the two of us?”
“If that’s what you want; although, I was looking forward to rubbing it in Pansy Parkinson’s nasty little face,” I joked and we both laughed.
After Hermione felt satisfied with the amount of studying we’d done, we left the library. She still looked a bit dazed and way happier than I’d seen her since Harry’d been chosen to compete. It must have been late afternoon and since it was a Saturday, most people were spread out all over the castle. We were walking through the courtyard which was full of people enjoying the day when a tall fourth year approached us. He had dirty blonde hair and a smug expression plastered on his face. I recognized him as Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff with a nasty attitude. I’d spoken to him maybe once or twice and even then it was a simple ‘excuse me’ or ‘do you know where this classroom is’. He was followed closely by three other boys. They wore expectant expressions. “Weasley,” he said. “My friends here tell me that you’re in the market for a date to the ball. I’m sure I could manage to be helpful, if you’re willing to get a little bit dirty, that is.”
“I’m sorry, are you trying to be funny or insulting,” I asked, disgusted, “You’re face always looks like a Hippogriff’s bum so I can’t really tell by that.” He frowned and his friends snorted.
“I fancy a girl with a little flavor,” he managed to respond.
“That’s too bad because I prefer a bloke with a little class,” I said, “Looks like this isn’t going to work out.” I turned around, my pony tail nearly smacking him in the face before stomping out of the courtyard. I could hear his friends laughing. Hermione caught up with me once I reached the hallway. “What a prat!”
“He may have conveyed his feelings in a strange way, but that doesn’t deny the fact that he fancies you,” Hermione reasoned.
“Are you seriously defending him?”
“No,” she said, “Well, sort of; but only because I really want you to go to the ball.”
“Well I’m not going to say yes to a bloke like that just because I want to go,” I said. I hadn’t told her about the Ravenclaw who asked me, but now felt like an okay time to mention. “I don’t want to go with someone I don’t know. If I did, I would have said yes to that Ravenclaw that asked me.”
“Wait, a Ravenclaw asked you,” she said, “A 4th year?”
“And you didn’t tell me,” she inquired. I looked at her briefly before averting my eyes. “Ginny, please don’t tell me you’re still waiting around for Harry to ask you.”
“What! No, I’m just…” I didn’t know what I was. She was probably right, Hermione usually is. I was waiting around for Harry again.
“I want him to ask you, believe me, but remember, he’s 14--”
“So are the two other boys who asked me,” I stated.
“Yes, but Harry isn’t as in touch with his feelings. Neither he or Ron have really yet to master the ways of handling their emotions,” she said, turning pink. I wasn’t sure how Ron had gotten into the conversation, but I had a feeling Hermione was expressing her own emotions.
“Well, he certainly knows how to stare at Cho Chang,” I said.
“Just let it go for now; have fun going with someone else, someone who you think you’ll have a good time with,” she advised and I gave in.
That night at dinner I came down to the hall with a strong confidence. I was going to look for the Ravenclaw and ask if he was still interested. Before I could spot him, Gwendolyn grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the Gryffindor table. “Ginny, you’ll never guess what,” she exclaimed. I raised an eyebrow (I was getting quite good with my left one) and waited. “Alright, I’ll just tell you! Catalina got asked to the Ball! I mean, it’s not like this comes as a big surprise or anything, but it’s definitely special. I wasn’t sure if anyone would ask her. Sometimes people think she’s kind of talkative.” I know, ironic. “Anyways, she’s had this crush on a Ravenclaw for almost a month and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone or else I would have told you, of course, and he finally asked her! You’ll never believe who it is!”
“Try me,” I said, there were of course only so many people who could stand Catalina.
“Michael Corner, as in the same Michael Corner who asked you to the ball last week,” she squealed. So that ruled out him taking me to the ball. Damn. “But now I’m glad you didn’t say yes. That would have made Catalina pissed and then I would have to choose between you two and… well that just wouldn’t be good.”
“We’re agreed on that,” I said.
“Gwendolyn, Mum says that you have to come home for the holidays,” William stated as we settled in.
“But,” Gwendolyn began, but was cut off.
“No exceptions,” William insisted. Gwen glared angrily at him. “Hey, not my rules. I’m just the messenger. You know how Mum gets.”
“Yeah, and I know how you tend to leave out my opinions in your letters home.”
“Write your own letters then,” he said. She huffed and pouted, but made no further comments.
That meant that I was going to be alone and friendless on Christmas night if I didn’t manage to find a suitable date. Hermione reported, with a bit of happiness in her voice, that Ron and Harry were yet to find anyone. One afternoon in the common room, Alicia Spinnet told me that George had asked her. She also whispered to me that Fred asked Angelina and although she wouldn’t admit it, she was overjoyed. That at least brightened my date a bit. There were 13 days left until the ball (Gwen had been keeping count for me) and I had gotten fed up with all the talk about it. I couldn’t sit with any girls or I would be overloaded with information about their dresses and I couldn’t sit with any guys because they would all get nervous and quiet. Hermione was in Charms, so I was sitting alone in courtyard trying to practice the Bats Bogey Hex. There weren’t many other people around except for some Ravenclaws, including Cho Chang and Marietta Edgecomb, and a few first year Slytherins. In a flurry of movement, a large crowd of Hufflepuffs entered. Cedric Diggory was in the center of the commotion. I guess they were all still worshiping their Champion, although the scrutiny about Harry had gone down a bit. A few of the other 7th years pushed Cedric towards the Ravenclaws, laughing as they did so. Hufflepuffs seemed to laugh a lot.
“Hey Cho,” Cedric said causally. The other girls near Cho all squealed, but Cedric seemed unfazed. Cho blushed the tiniest bit, but held her cool for the most part.
“Hello,” she replied.
“So, I was hoping that you were still free for the Yule Ball,” Cedric asked. More squeals.
“I am free.”
“Great; would you like to go with me,” he continued. Marietta nearly fainted. I rolled my eyes.
“I’d love to,” she answered, smiling in her sweet way.
I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because of all the sounds made by the audience, but I figured there wasn’t much more to it. So Cho Chang was off the market. I didn’t exactly know how to feel about that. I kind of felt happy, knowing that Harry couldn’t go with her, but the softer side of me felt sad for him, knowing he would probably not enjoy the Yule Ball at all now and him feeling sad made me feel sad. Ugh, my mind seemed as complicated as Gwendolyn’s now and that was not a good thing. Stop it, I told myself, he’s your friend and that’s all. If you even feel anything, it should be guilt. I got up from bench I was sitting on and made a b-line for the hallway leading out of the castle. I guess I hadn’t been paying enough attention to where I was walking because I walked straight into someone else.
“Ouch,” a soft voice murmured. My forehead jammed into what felt like a nose. I looked up into the small brown eyes of Cho Chang. She was only a couple inches taller than me (since I’m so short that meant that she must have been relatively short for a 15 year old too). She had lightly tanned skin with hundreds of perfectly round freckles scattered evenly across her face. Her hair was long and silky. She was a very beautiful girl. If only she had the personality to match her looks.
“I’m sorry; I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going,” I said, stooping down to pick up some books that had fallen in the collision. She bent down too.
“No it’s fine,” she answered. “You’re Ginny, right? Catalina’s friend.”
“Well my name is Ginny, but I don’t think I’d classify myself as ‘Catalina’s Friend’,” I replied, trying to make a joke. She either didn’t get it or was too polite to laugh. Maybe a little of both. We were silent for a few awkward moments, then I said, “So congratulations, according to Catalina and Gwendolyn Cedric Diggory is a real catch.”
“Right, yes, Cedric; he is very nice to me,” Cho said half-heartedly. “I’ve just been feeling a bit conflicted recently.” I wasn’t sure what she was talking about or why she was talking to me, but I decided to just go with it.
“Haven’t we all,” I laughed and she smiled.
“I suppose that’s true.”
“Well, I’ll be seeing you,” I said and walked off. It was strange, talking to her, knowing that she had what I valued most and didn’t even know it: Harry Potter.
The next day, Mad Eye Moody was just finishing up a lecture and demonstration (of course) when the bell rang. Emma bolted out of the room as fast as she could move. She claimed it was so she could meet her brother, but really she just didn’t want to spend one more second in the classroom. Luna and I were taking our time collecting out things. I didn’t speak to her much, other than for class assignments, but she had started to grow on me a bit. She was strange and random and rather unnerving sometimes, but she was nice to have around. She was honest and truthful, at least in her own way. “So, Luna, are you going to stay for the holidays this year,” I asked.
“The holidays,” she said, as if she was trying to remember what that meant, “Oh yes, holidays. But no, I won’t be staying. Daddy and I made plans to visit Sweden to look for Crumplehornedsnorkacks. I was interested in staying, but we decided back in June on the trip. It would be a shame not to go.”
“Well, I’m sure we’ll miss you, but Crumplehornedsnorkacks do sound important,” I said and she smiled politely.
“I should tell you about them some time, but right now I’ve got to go. My shoes have just gone missing; this has never happened before and I’ve no idea where they could have gotten off to. I should really start looking,” she said and skipped off.
My heart cringed a little at the pure cruelness of others. Taking her shoes. That was just wrong. She never did anything to anyone. After choking down my anger on the matter, I sprinted to the Ancient Runes classroom to meet Hermione once she finished class. She wanted to show me the dress she had gotten on the last Hogsmeade trip for the Yule Ball. As soon as I took my last step to the door, she came trudging out while simultaneously putting her books away. Right behind her came Neville with his sweet crooked smile and hopeful eyes. “Oh, you made it in time,” Hermione said, “I was worried I wouldn’t know where to meet you. What class did you just come from?”
“Defense Against the Dark Arts,” I said. I was about to tell her about the people terrorizing Luna when Neville stepped towards us, looking like he was about to hurl.
“Neville, are you alright,” Hermione asked worriedly.
“I, um, I wanted to ask you to the,” he paused and looked around the Hallway. Several other students had stopped to watch. “To the Ball…” Hermione scrunched her eyebrows together bit her lip.
“I’m sorry, Neville--”
“No, no, it’s fine,” he said, trying to turn away from the conversation.
“It’s just I’ve already got a date,” she tried to explain.
“I’ll just go now,” Neville murmured.
“Neville, really, I’d love to go, but it’s like I said: I’m going with someone else,” Hermione insisted.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Neville said, shrugging. Neville was sweet. He deserved someone.
“I’ll go with you Neville,” I said and both him and Hermione looked up at me with shock. “That is, if you want me to.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice; I just thought you were going with…”
“Harry off in his own world; besides, we’ll have fun,” I said, feeling more confident than ever.
“Alright then,” Neville said. He still looked sick, but there was a small smile on his face.
“We’ve got to run now, but I’ll be seeing you,” I said and we turned away. As we pounded down the stairs, I could feel Hermione’s eyes on me.
“That was a really nice thing you did there,” Hermione complimented.
“It’s like you said, I should go with someone who I’ll have fun with,” I said. “Neville’s sweet, really, and it was the right thing to do. Now we can both go.”
“I’m so proud,” Hermione said. I think Victor Krum was still making her a bit loony.
“You should just call me Ginny the Angel from now on,” I joked and we laughed all the way down the stairs.
It felt good to be going with Neville. At least, right then it did, but later I would regret it deeply. Almost as much as Ron regretted asking Fleur Delacour to the Yule Ball. Yep he asked her; and I got a front row seat. I had just finished taking a History of Magic exam when I saw Ron walking up the dungeon steps. I ran over and fell into sync with his steps. “Hello dearest brother of mine,” I said cheerfully.
“Why are you in such a good mood,” he grunted.
“I just got out of History of Magic,” I explained.
“And,” he questioned.
“Is that not enough to make a girl happy,” I asked and he ignored me. “So where’d you come from?”
“Potions,” he answered.
“I guess that’s way you’re so dreary,” I said. “Or is it because Eloise Midgen is the only girl left without a date to the Yule Ball?”
“Hermione told you about that,” he asked.
“Yes, and I think you’re being very shallow; there are far more things to a person than looks. Plus, it’s better not to shoot very high, at least for a bloke with a face like yours,” I joked, but he wasn’t in the right mood.
“Shut it, Ginny,” Ron snapped back. That’s when we saw her. Fleur Delacour was standing next to Cedric Diggory talking and flipping her blonde hair back majestically and flashing her stunning smile. It sickened me. Ron stopped and plain out stared at her. “Hold this,” he said thrusting his books into my arms. He paraded over to where Delacour was standing and stood right in her path of vision.
“Excuse-moi,”she said swiftly, not even glancing at Ron.
“Wait, um, Fleur,” Ron called out, except he pronounced Fleur like Flarer. I covered my smile with a hand. Fleur turned around and looked at Ron with a raised eyebrow and a skeptical expression.
“What is it, little boy,” she asked impatiently.
“I, I wanted to ask,” he mumbled.
“Speak up, S'il vous plait,” Fleur commanded and it was like she had put a spell on him.
“I WANTED TO ASK YOU TO THE BALL,” he screeched. The entire hallway was watching him and laughing. “WITH ME!”
Fleur didn’t even answer. She just made a condescending expression and laughed. She turned so quickly that her pony tail smacked Ron right in the face. The entire hallway burst into to laughter and I nearly did too. Ron sprinted towards me, eyes wide. His expression was perfect; embarrassed, confused, put out, regretful. Priceless! I managed to coax him back to the common room, but he seemed like he wanted to just fade away. I had to feel for him; it was embarrassing and I’d been there before.
We made it all the way back without me laughing, but he seemed completely dazed. I took him back to a chair in the corner and tried to get him to talk. And then Harry walked in, looking half as dazed as Ron. He immediately inquired about Ron and I did my best to explain as politely as I could manage. As soon as Ron started talking, I couldn’t help but smirk. Harry explained that Fleur was part Veela and I knew my suspicions of her had been somewhat correct. I was having a relatively good time with the two of them until Harry stated that he’d just tried to ask Cho Chang out. Suddenly, I felt a rush of hatred for the pretty Ravenclaw. What did Harry see in her anyways? What did anyone see in her? I know, I was being horrid, but I was 13. Can you blame me? Of course then Ron had to start in on Neville asking out Hermione.
He and Harry both laughed as Ron explained what Neville had told him. I could feel myself getting angry and embarrassed. Hermione walked in and Ron seemed to see her in a new light. He practically begged her to go with him, but Hermione just turned red and ran up to her room. They were convinced that she was lying about having a date. I quietly said that she wasn’t and they pestered me about who it was. I kept my silent vow. Then Ron said those magical words.
“Right; this is getting stupid. Ginny, you can go with Harry, and I’ll just—” My heart froze over.
“I can’t,” I whispered. “I’m going with-with Neville.” Then I did a horrid job of explaining why I was going with Neville. Finally, I just gave up and went down to dinner, feeling sicker than ever.
Once break began, everything settled down. Sure, there was still lots of fuss about the Yule Ball and Hagrid was always setting up a new Christmas Tree somewhere, but without classes all the students were much more relaxed. Snape, Moody and Binns had all given us an extreme amount of work to do over break. Hermione had of course immediately finished all of hers in the first few days. Ron, Harry and I were being lazier about it. Since the Millers, the Creevys and Emma had all gone home for the holidays, I found myself spending a large amount of time with Hermione and occasionally Dean, Seamus, Lavender and Parvati. The common room was always loud and energetic. Fred and George had been selling some of their inventions and that just caused more havoc. They asked me to sell some and I only agreed because it was the Holidays.
And then came that night. Christmas morning was nice and I got the usual from Mum, Dad, Charlie, Bill and Hermione. I received several packages from the Miller residence, Emma and the Creevys. I spent the day laughing with Fred and George, but had to leave in the middle of the afternoon. I’d promised Hermione that I would get ready with her. And get ready we did. She was already working on straightening and smoothing her hair when I arrived in her room. She looked at me and we both grinned with anticipation. Lavender and Parvati showed up a little later and Hermione didn’t even seem to mind their gossip. “And then he just asked me,” Parvati stated. “I’m going with a Champion!” I gritted my teeth, but reminded myself that I was going to have a great time no matter who I was going with.
“And I’m going with Seamus,” Lavender said dreamily. Parvati giggled and I smiled at her silliness. “You know Ginny, if you were in our year, I’m sure that someone other than Neville would have asked you.” She was trying to be kind, but it bothered me. I kept my lips sealed, but Hermione spoke up.
“Actually, both Zacharias Smith and a fourth year Ravenclaw asked her,” Hermione said matter-of-factly. I couldn’t help but smile. She was such a good friend.
“And you said no,” Parvati asked, not understanding my thinking.
“I wanted to go with someone who I knew,” I said and she just shrugged.
“Dean would have asked you,” Lavender squealed. “But he thought Ron might kill him.”
“I do have a lot of intimidating brothers,” I joked.
“Instead Dean’s going with Katie Bell,” Parvati said. “He asked me, but I’m going with a Champion!” I sighed and Hermione looked at me and winked. I could see that they were getting on her last nerve and she saw the same in my eyes.
“Um, Ginny, do you have that thing I asked for,” she said vaguely. But we got each other.
“Yeah, yeah, but I left it in my room,” I answered.
“We should probably go get it,” Hermione said and I held back a laugh.
“Of course,” I agreed and we sprinted out of the room with grins hidden on our faces. We entered my room laughing. “Thanks for the save!”
“What save? I really need that thing,” Hermione said and I laughed. She was so happy.
We got dressed and Hermione twisted my hair into a high bun. She pulled a few strands loose and curled them around my face. After applying mascara and blush, I pulled on my dress robes. Mum had sent it once she heard I was staying for the Holidays. I hadn’t even told her I was going. It was simple, but made me feel sophisticated and elegant. It was a dark, wintery green with a full skirt, long back and a red ribbon around my waist. Mum had also sent a pair of plain black shoes with a little less than a two inch heel. I’d never worn heels before, but just putting them on made me feel confident. Then I looked in the mirror. The image reflecting back shocked me. There was no longer a young girl, but a chic young woman. I twirled around and watched the dress spin. I nearly laughed.
“You look beautiful,” Hermione smiled. She had finished her hair and I had applied her make up, but she had yet to dawn her robes.
“Thank you,” I said, feeling myself blush.
“You should go,” she advised.
“Don’t you want me to wait for you?”
“No, I think I’ll need a little while longer,” she said and looked at her reflection. “I want to be perfect.”
“You are perfect,” I insisted.
“Really, go; Neville is already nervous enough, he doesn’t need a late date,” she said and I ran over and hugged her.
“You’re perfect,” I repeated.
“You are too. Now go!”
“Alright, fine,” I said, “See you down there?”
“Of course,” she said.
The common room was more colorful than I had ever seen it. I didn’t see Harry or Ron, so I figured that they’d already left. Fred, George, Angelina and Alicia were just exiting through the Portrait Whole. Neville was standing close by. I ducked through the crowd of high heeled girls and nervous boys to find Neville. Not many of them noticed me, but I accidently bumped into Dean Thomas and his mouth dropped. That was a highlight. I finally got to Neville. He was wearing dark red robes that looked a little too big on him. He was so nervous I couldn’t help, but feel sorry for him. “Hello Neville,” I greeted him. He nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Oh, hi,” he said awkwardly. “You are look really nice!”
“Thanks,” I said. “Do you want to go down now?”
“Yes please,” Neville answered immediately.
The Great Hall had been transferred into a majestic winter wonderland. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I smiled at everything. It was just that stunning. There were a hundred smalls, white tables where the students were presumably supposed to sit at. Neville and I sat down with Ron and Padma, who both looked unhappy to be there, and Dean, Seamus and their dates. Fred and George were across the table with Lee Jordan. I might not have been at the Ball with my preferred date, but at least I sitting with friends. Then we were silenced and waited for the Champions to make their arrival. The only sound made was that of Padma’s jiggling bangles. Then McGonagall entered and was followed by the four champions and their partners. At the head of the group was Krum and on his arm walked Hermione, looking very un-Hermione-ish. Her periwinkle robes, which she had had custom made from Madam Malkin’s, fit her perfectly and moved like water. Her hair was sleeker than ever and her smile was the happiest I’d seen in a while. Fleur Delacour and Roger Davies followed behind both looking very nice, although Fleur obviously outshined her date. Then came Cho and Cedric. They made a sweet couple, both being very easy on the eyes. And finally Harry stumbled out with Parvati who was clearly enjoying her time in the spotlight.
“Who’s that girl with Krum,” Ron asked, although his glare made me think he already knew.
“Hermione of course,” I said and grinned. He clinched his jaw angrily.
“No, it can’t be,” Ron said, shaking his head.
“Fleur Delacour looks pretty damn nice too,” Seamus snickered to Dean. Fleur’s dress was extremely low cut and she fit into tremendously well, if you my drift.
“Excuse me,” Lavender said. Seamus turned pale.
“But not as nice as you,” Seamus blurted out. Lavender giggled. The Champions took their seats and the meal began. But before I had look down at the fancy menus on our plates, something at the main table caught my eye. There was a head of red hair. Distinct, Weasley red hair.
“Ron, what is Percy doing up there,” I inquired. But Ron was in no mood to answer.
“Why should I know,” Ron mumbled and stuck a handful of food in his mouth.
“Probably got promoted, the git,” Fred said from across the table.
“Don’t call your brother a git,” Angelina said.
“Believe us, we could come up with some pretty mean names,” George said, “Git is just the nicest of the bunch.” Angelina rolled her eyes and I winked at her.
“So your brother, he got promoted,” Neville asked, doing his best to make small talk while we ate.
“Looks like it,” I answered, “Although, I’m not about to go ask him. That will just lead to hours of unneeded communication.” Dean and Padma, who had both been listening in, laughed, but Neville was too nervous.
The meal finished and I found it quite pleasant. Despite the fact that Neville was socially awkward, Ron was in a foul mood and Lavender was, well, Lavender, I had a number of laughs with Dean, Seamus, Padma and Katie Bell. Once all the plates had been cleared away, the Weird Sisters entered the stage. “Oh I just love them,” Katie said happily. I nearly laughed; Katie was just about the sweetest person on the planet and the Weird Sisters were a well-known punk band. “They allow me to release angry energy I have.” That explained it. The four Champions and their partners got up and began the dance. Hermione still had a huge smile on her face, but Harry looked very uneasy. Once Fleur Delacour floated past our table for the third time, I got up.
“Neville, do you want to dance,” I asked hopefully. Lavender had already pulled Seamus onto the dance floor, but the rest of our table was waiting for a livelier tune. Neville bit his lip.
“Um, alright,” he said and stood up, nearly knocking the table over. We stepped out onto the floor and he put one hand on my waist and the other in my own. His fingers were clammy. I smiled and we began the dance.
“Ouch,” I winced as he stepped on my toes after only a few steps.
“Sorry,” he said sincerely. One, two, three; one, two, ouch!, three; one, ouch!, two, three; ouch! “I’m a horrible dancer,” he said, “I’m sorry you had to come with me.”
“Hey, no one forced me, did they? I did ask you, after all,” I grinned, “Besides; I’m having a splendid time!”
“Yes; aren’t you?”
“Of course, I mean, in between feeling sorry for stepping on your toes,” Neville said. It was the first time I’d heard him made a joke. I laughed and he lit up. Once you got past the shy exterior, Neville was almost friendly.
The song ended and Harry and Parvati retreated from the dance floor. Neville and I continued swaying to the beat. Hermione was spinning in circles as Krum twirled her around and around. Ron kept his eyes firmly on the two of them, only occasionally stopping to look down at his own dress robes in comparison to Victor Krum’s. To this day, I still get a laugh out of those frilly robes Mum had bought him. Next to Ron sat Harry who occupied his time staring at Cho Chang as she glided around with Cedric Diggory, both of them shining with light. The music became a bit more upbeat and the rest of our table, as well as most of the attendees, had joined us on the dance floor. I lost Neville and found myself dancing with Seamus up until Lavender tapped on my shoulder with an accusatory expression. I snorted at her look and backed away. “Just having a bit of fun,” I insisted. I turned around to find Neville standing right next to me.
“There you are,” I said happily, I might have had one too many butterbeers for the time being. “Why’d you leave?”
“I thought you might want to dance with someone else, Seamus for example,” Neville said softly.
“Don’t be silly; personally, I pity the bloke. Having to deal with Lavender 24-7; someone really needs to get him a drink!” He smiled, relieved. “How about we get some juice or something?”
“Okay,” Neville agreed and we walked over to where the drinks had been laid out. I collapsed in a chair next to the table and sighed.
“Okay, Neville, serious question,” I said and he nodded, “Why did you ask Hermione to ball? You don’t fancy her, do you?” He turned pink.
“No, I um, I just wanted to go. Gran said I had to, that my parents would have wanted me to,” Neville said. This was the first he’d ever mentioned his parents in front of me. “I didn’t think anyone would go with me. But um, then I realized that Hermione was really nice and smart and might not have a date…”
“I get the picture,” I said. Neville was trying to be kind about the way he said it and I wasn’t going to torture him. “Well, I feel honored to get to attend this dance with you.” He smiled. Someone tapped my shoulder very gently and I flipped around.
“Hello,” said the charming voice of Michael Corner. His dark hair was slicked back and it made him seem even more regal.
“Hi,” I said dumbly.
“I was wondering if I could steal you away from your partner for a dance or two.”
“Neville,” I asked and looked back at him with hopeful eyes.
“Sure,” Neville answered and I grinned.
“See you in a bit,” I said as I stood back up. Michael took my hand and swept me off towards the dance floor. The music slowed down and he placed his hands on my waist. I awkwardly reached up and wrapped my arms around his neck. It felt strange and I had to try hard not to laugh.
“So is that why you wouldn’t agree to come with to the dance? You were already going with Longbottom?”
“No, it was because I hadn’t the slightest clue who you were.” I should have defended Neville. But I was vain and enjoying the attention from someone. No boy had ever whisked me off my feet quite like Michael did. I had fallen head over heels in love with Harry, but with Michael it was different. He was actually trying to impress me. That was the attention I enjoyed.
“Well, even if I didn’t get to accompany you to the ball, at least I got to dance with you.” I think I turned redder than a tomato. My heart fluttered and I felt like I was floating. “You look stunning tonight.”
“You don’t look too bad yourself,” I said and he chuckled. He spun me around and I felt my dress spin up in the air. It was magical. I was caught in the magic of the moment. Then a thought came into my head. “Where’s your date?” I made sure not to mention Catalina’s name.
“You mean Catalina,” he asked. “She’s off somewhere.”
“You don’t seem to care very much,” I said.
“How could I care about her when I’m dancing with someone as beautiful as you?” I blushed again. “Besides, I only asked her as a favor to a friend.”
“So you don’t have any interest in her?”
“None whatsoever,” Michael answered, “And you don’t fancy Longbottom?”
“He’s just a friend.”
“Then we’re agreed,” he stated.
“Agreed on what,” I asked. The song was almost over, but I didn’t want it to end.
“That we would make a splendid couple.” I laughed, but he looked at me with a serious expression.
“We’ll see,” I said and the tune ended.
“That’s good enough for now,” he said. Then he whispered, “I’m an optimist.” I laughed again, but this time he smiled. “There’s Cho,” Michael said, pointing to where Cho Chang stood, “Let’s say hello, shall we?” I nodded and we walked over to her. She was standing with Cedric Diggory, Marietta Edgecomb and a Ravenclaw I didn’t know, but guess was Marietta’s date. Cho was wearing a long, silky pink dress with a flower pattern running over it. It really looked amazing. And Cedric’s good looks certainly didn’t hurt the couple.
“Hello Michael, Ginny,” Cho said sweetly. I didn’t realize they were friends.
“Hello,” Michael answered. Marietta looked at me with slits for eyes and I realized that Michael still had his hand around my waist. I took a step away from him.
“Excuse us,” Marietta said, “We have to go find my sister.” She gave Michael a look and stomped off with her date following a few steps behind. Marietta must have been the one to set Michael up with Catalina. This was definitely not going to end well.
“That was odd,” Cho said, staring after her friend. “Ginny, this is Cedric,” she said happily.
“Actually, we’ve met,” Cedric interrupted.
“Oh,” Cho said, still smiling that innocent look. The girl was nice, that was for sure, although there wasn’t much to her.
“It’s good to see you again,” Cedric said.
“And you,” I agreed. We stood for a few awkward moments in silence before I said, “Good job on the first task. I’m sure tons of people have been complimenting you already, but you really did a great job. Dragons can be extremely dangerous; my brother actually brought them here.”
“So that’s how Harry knew,” Cedric commented and I nodded. Cho and Michael shared a look of confusion.
“Harry knew what,” Cho asked. I could see the stress in her eyes. She obviously felt something strong for Harry. That made my heart go cold.
“Just a tip he gave me,” Cedric said vaguely.
“It was helpful, wasn’t it?” I knew I was pushing it, but for some reason, I wanted to show that I cared for the boy who lived just as much as Cho Chang did, that I could help him.
“Yes,” Cedric stated.
“Maybe you should repay the favor sometime,” I said and for a moment, Cedric and I were on the exact same page.
“I didn’t know that you were so connected with the Champions of Hogwarts,” Michael said.
“I have friends in high places,” I said, smiling at him, “Something about that Weasley charm.”
“Don’t call him Vicky!” The entire the Hall must have heard Hermione’s screech. I looked over to see her stomping away from Ron, Harry and Padma.
“Sadly, my brother seems to lack the Weasley Charm,” I said. “If you will excuse me; it was a pleasure seeing you. I’ll see you later Michael.” I paced off after Hermione who was heading out of the Hall, but I could still feel Michael’s eyes on me as I left. I found Hermione in the bathroom sobbing next to a sink. “Hermione,” I said softly. She looked up at me and tried to smile.
“Oh, hello Ginny,” she said before I ran over to give her a hug.
“What did Ron do,” I asked immediately. She laughed between two sobs.
“He thinks I’m fraternizing with the enemy,” Hermione said. “And now they’re both angry with me and I… I…”
“You were having a great time at the Yule Ball with Victor Krum,” I said and she smiled. “Everyone was stunned by your beauty and you were going to dance until your feet became too tired to move one more step. That’s what you were going to do.”
“But Ron,” she tried to say.
“But nothing; He’ll get over it. He’s just realizing how much you mean to him. But there are other fish in the sea. He’s only 14, he doesn’t know how to convey his emotions,” I said. “Or at least that’s what you told me.” Her small smile turned into a grin.
“Are people really stunned,” she asked and I laughed.
“Of course they are; you should have seen Malfoy’s face! Priceless!” We both laughed. “Now let’s just clean you up and then you can go dance the night away.”
“You’re the best,” Hermione said.
“I learned from the best,” I responded.
I spent the rest of the night dancing with Neville and laughing with Fred and George. Hermione walked back out with perhaps a bit less happiness, but just as much beauty, and danced with Victor Krum until the clock struck 12. Harry and Ron did not dance at all as far as I could tell. Padma and Parvati had found a group of Beauxbaton boys who thought they were the most beautiful girls at the dance. I didn’t see Catalina or Michael the rest of the night, but I did notice Cedric Diggory whispering something to Harry before he went up to bed. Neville and I were among the last to leave. We walked back up to the Common Room together, exhausted. I was carrying my shoes in hands because of Neville’s constant toe stepping. “I’m sorry your feet started to hurt,” Neville said.
“It’s alright; it was worth it.”
“Thank you for coming with me,” he said shyly.
“I’m the one who should be thanking you,” I said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to go with anyone else.” That was a lie, but it made me feel good to say and he looked brighter because of it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said.
“You can count on it,” I agreed and stood on my tip toes to give him a kiss on the cheek. He blushed furiously and I smiled. “Goodnight Neville.”