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“Ginny used to fancy Harry, but she gave up on him months ago." – Hermione Granger (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pg 310, UK edition)

If it were any other night, Ginny Weasley would have been terrified of the common room. Though she was only in her third year, she knew all about the trysts and encounters other students had in the Gryffindor common room, in the deep of the night. They found the dark shadows of the night exciting, enthralling. Ginny did not. She found them terrifying. The coldness and stillness of the night reminded her of her first year, of a boy whose words and silky voice she was still haunted by at night.

Tonight was different. Completely giving up hope on sleep, Ginny found herself curled up on the corner of a couch in the common room, a curled parchment on her lap, oblivious to the shadows licking the walls around her, shadows that would normally send a shiver down her spine. Tonight, she had other thoughts on her mind.

Or, if she was perfectly honest with herself, she had boys on her mind. Both dark hair, both tall and both with crooked smiles that sent her heart racing. The difference? One was easily one of the most celebrated people in the world, while the other was a shy boy whose greatest brush with fame was meeting The Weird Sisters at a concert over the summer.

There was also the small fact that the former boy had no idea she existed.

Oh, of course she knew that Harry was aware of her presence. He did smile at her and would always say hello if she passed him in the corridor. But, then again, he did the same to Colin Creevey. And, while Colin’s enthusiasm could make him somewhat difficult to ignore, Ginny knew that she was grouped firmly with people who Harry was polite to, nothing more. He didn’t hate them, yet he would not actively seek them out. He would not go to them for having a laugh, he had Ron for that. And far be it for him to ask them for help with anything when he was best friends with one of the smartest girls in the school. Yes, Harry knew she existed. But he didn’t need her in his life, not like he needed his two best friends.

A pang of bitterness and jealousy rang through Ginny as she thought of the tight friendship of the three. It was not as though she hated Ron and Hermione. Far from it. Though she had drifted away from Ron in recent years, she knew that he was still the same older brother whose bed she used to climb into when she had nightmares. And Hermione would always remain the girl who helped Ginny find her feet in her second year, a year after everyone had already found theirs.

No, she didn’t hate them. If at all, she was glad of their presence in Harry’s life. She had seen all too many times the sadness in the depths of Harry’s wonderfully green eyes and she knew that her older brother and the girl of his affections (something obvious to everyone except for him) were one of the few bright spots in Harry’s life. But, oh, what she wouldn’t give to be part of that friendship. What she wouldn’t give for Harry to once, just once, look at her as more than Ron’s little sister whose life he saved because of his noble complex.

Harry. The boy whose story she could remember being told, wide-eyed at the soft voice of her Dad regaling an unbelievable tale about a boy not much older than herself. The boy who she had poured her heart out about in that horrid diary in her first year. The boy whose face was the first thing she saw after being saved from almost certain death. The boy with the greenest eyes – surely it wasn’t possible for eyes to be so green, was it? – and the most lovely smile.

The boy who never looked twice at her. The boy who she had all but given up on.

She had thought that things would be different. Though the two of them were very young and she was hardly expecting a lifelong commitment from him, she had hoped that Harry would have at least found something appealing about her by now. Perhaps while she was not walking around in her ratty school uniform, but he could have at the very least glanced her way just once at the Yule Ball. Ginny had spent hours on her appearance that night. She knew that she was not anywhere as beautiful as some of the other girls in her year, but even Hermione had agreed that she had looked her best that night.

After all, Michael Corner had noticed her.

Letting out a sigh, Ginny glanced at the parchment on her lap for the hundredth time that night. The words were sweet and slightly clumsy which Ginny found endearing – after all, what was she to expect from a teenage boy? And Michael had certainly found words that made her feel wanted, cared for, beautiful.

Unlike Harry who made her feel plain, ordinary and rejected.

Reading Michael’s words once more, Ginny couldn’t help but smile as she remembered the feel of his hand on her hip, the other in her hair as his lips sweetly but briefly brushed her own a few nights ago. A blush spread across her cheeks as a voice in her head which sounded surprisingly like her mother’s wondered if her actions that night had been too forward. Yet, as she relived that giddy feeling she had felt while being rocked gently in his arms, Ginny knew she had made the right choice. Michael was handsome, sweet to her and wonderfully there, unlike Harry. He had put up with her indecisiveness for weeks and still wanted to spend more time with her. He had even gone so far as to write her a note which, while not poetry, was very sweet and warmed Ginny down to her toes. It was nice to have Michael seek her out and ask her how her day had been so far, offer to carry her books, share a joke with her. It was nice to have him look so earnestly at her with that lopsided smile of his. It was the first time a boy had shown true affection toward her and, though a part of her longed for Harry, Ginny had felt like she had been floating on air for the past few weeks.

She read the last line of Michael’s letter once more. P.S. Do you still want to meet up over the summer? She bit her lip. The Hogwarts Express was leaving for King’s Cross tomorrow and she knew she had to make her decision now. She knew he would steal her away for a quiet moment after breakfast the following morning and she would be expected to answer. If she said yes, she would be agreeing to a relationship with Michael.

If she said yes, she would be agreeing to give up on Harry, to move on from her girlish fantasies from him and the pain of unrequited affection.

Burrowing further into the couch, Ginny thought of Harry and how hurt she was when he glanced at her only in passing. She always knew that it would be tough having such deep feelings for Harry, but she had never expected how much it would hurt. Michael was different. There was no pain, no sorrow, no scrutinising her reflection and picking out her flaws, no sitting up just a little bit straighter when he walked in the room. Michael was whole, lovely and, above all, wanted her.

And, if she was honest with herself, though she had an ache in her that she had long since associated with Harry, a large part of her wanted Michael, too.

Staring at the parchment once more and smiling at the obvious care he had taken to make his penmanship legible, Ginny let out a breath and stood up to walk towards the stairs leading to the girls’ dormitories. Tucking the parchment carefully in the pocket of her old dressing gown, she crossed the common room and started to walk up the stairs but paused for a moment, her right foot hovering in the air. She closed her eyes briefly, let out a sigh and stole a quick glance at the boys’ dormitories behind her.

She stood on the stairs for a moment, her gaze falling on the parchment in her left hand and the boys’ staircase and back to the parchment once more. Her eyes lingered on the Michael scrawled at the bottom of the parchment and Ginny couldn’t help but smile before turning once more and continuing up the stairs, a soft smile still playing on her lips.

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