Author's Notes: I received a few comments on the reviews of my last Chapter, asking why Ginny was behaving completely out-of-character? I never noticed that in the slightest? Out of character? Seriously? Me, personally, I put it down to her break-up with Dean. She’s not in her right mind, poor thing. It’s lucky she has a friend like Luna to help cheer her up.
Now, some people may read Chapter Two and start blaming Ginny’s unusual behaviour from the previous chapter on a certain Miss Lovegood? Readers, I would like to reassure you that this is not the case in the slightest! Please do not blame poor Luna for the strange way Ginny has been acting! Luna is her friend, and she would never do anything to cause Ginny any trouble. Personally, I blame those pesky Nargles!
So why don’t you settle down with me now, and have a lovely glass of Lovegood’s finest secret recipe Butterbeer. It’s magically brewed for some…umm…unexpected results…but it sure is tasty! ;)
Additional Notes: Luna’s Peppermint Pep-up Potion is based on an un-named Potion which Harry makes for Horace Slughorn during HBP. The potion, golden yellow in colour, includes peppermint in its main ingredients, and is meant to induce pure euphoria, and cure depression. It is sometimes referred to as The Elixir to Induce Euphoria, but I prefer Luna’s name for it. Besides, I think her version may have deviated from the recipe a little. ;)
This is not to be confused with Pepper-up Potion, which is used to cure the common cold.
Chapter Two — The Room of Requirement
The next day Ginny awoke groggily from her slumber, the effects of Luna’s Peppermint Pep-up Potion having now completely left her system. Yesterday had been a train-wreck of a day! She had needed the Pep-up boost to get through her day of constant questions about her and Dean’s breakup, which irritated her almost as much as the actual relationship itself! In retrospect, maybe she had taken a few drops too much. Merlin, it was way too much! Especially with what she had suggested to Harry of all people! Sweet Merlin, what had she been thinking?! If there was ever a moment she wished the ground would just open up, and swallow her whole, now would be that very moment! How would she even be able to look him in the eye again after that? How had she gotten herself into this mess? And poor Harry, he had even let her talk him into this hare-brained idea! It was ludicrous! It was totally wrong on every level.
Never the less, she was a Weasley, and, as such, she had decided the first thing she was going to do was ‘woman up’ and go apologise to Harry! Well no, first she would be having a few choice words with a certain Miss Lovegood! Honestly! She should have known better than to drink anything that Luna had given her! Wasn’t it Luna’s Purple Pumpkin Punch that had gotten her into this mess in the first place? Hadn’t she, after only two small glasses of that stuff, stormed over to a stunned Dean, and demanded he ask her out? No, she thought, this was the last, the very last, the very, very, very last time she would ever drink anything given to her by a Lovegood!
The next day Harry awoke troubled from his slumber; the conversation he had had with Ginny the previous day weighing heavily on his mind. What had he been thinking? Merlin, he felt so guilty that he had even discussed it, and with Ron’s sister no less! What had he agreed to? It was insane! It was beyond insane! Not only that, but if anyone ever found out about it, and by ‘anyone’ he meant ‘Ron’. Harry shuddered at that thought. Ron was his friend; his best friend. He would never do anything to jeopardise that! He still remembered how awkward things had got between them during the Tri-Wizard Tournament when they weren’t talking. No way did he want a repeat of that, and with his little sister of all people! He remembered how things had gotten between Ron and Dean since the latter had started dating Ginny. No, this would be a huge mistake! He made it his first task of the morning to find Ginny, and try to have a word with her. To tell her: Thanks for the offer, but let’s forget about it until at least, oh, I don’t know, another twenty-five thousand centuries past never-going-to-happen!
He never got a chance to talk to Ginny during breakfast. She had been quite busy over at the Ravenclaw Table, talking animatedly with her good friend Luna about who knew what? It was only after breakfast and on their way to the first lesson of the day, that he did finally manage to catch up with her.
“Hey, Ginny, look, can I have a quick word with you?” asked Harry nervously. He wasn’t sure how best to broach this subject. She was Ron’s sister after all. He didn’t want to say anything that might offend her.
“Yeah, no problems, Harry! Actually…I wanted to have a word with you too, if that’s okay?” she said, feeling rather nervous too.
“Look, Ginny, it’s about these…uhhh…lessons…” he began, blushing slightly. “Look, I don’t want to seem ungrateful here, but I really don’t think they’d be a good idea.”
Ginny was beaming. “Wow! Seriously, Harry! Thanks! I was just coming to find you to say the exact same thing!”
And now Harry was beaming too. “Seriously?”
“Yeah,” she replied, now feeling greatly relieved. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what either of us was thinking yesterday? I mean, it was…” Ginny paused.
“An absolutely, utterly, ridiculously bonkers idea,” Harry finished for her, now laughing. “Totally wrong on every level!”
“Yep,” grinned Ginny. “Couldn’t have put it better myself! I mean, can you imagine how awkward it would have been for either of us! Not to mention highly inappropriate! You are meant to be going out with someone else. It wouldn’t have been fair on her either. Having the guy she’s supposed to be going out with, out snogging someone else, no matter how innocent it would have been... It just wouldn’t have been…”
But Ginny stopped talking. She could tell something was wrong by the look of horror now spreading across Harry’s face. He was staring at something over her shoulder, his expression one of shock and repulsion. She turned to see what it was, and then she saw them.
Cho Chang, was laughing and joking, tossing her long mane of dark hair and batting her eyelashes, pouting and flirting heavily, as she hung off the arm of Michael Corner. It was clear to everyone around them that they were a lot more than just-good-friends.
“Oh dear…” Ginny gasped. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Harry.”
“I thought they were over…” Harry said in a weak voice, he looked utterly destroyed.
Several long painful moments passed. It was like watching a car crash happening before her eyes. Harry to her side staring dumbstruck, unable to look away, a horrified look spreading across his face, looking on at the girl he believed he was going to be dating, wrapped in the arms of her ex. Michael pulled her close, his lips inches from her face, and for a tiniest fraction of a moment, it looked as if they were just about to kiss.
Before Ginny could speak, could offer any other words of support or condolence, Cho Chang glanced around, and, seeing both of them both standing there staring, eyes wide and jaws on the floor, she untangled herself from Michael, said something quietly to him, and then came blustering over, a huge fake smile plastered across her face. She looked as though there was nothing wrong in the slightest!
“Hi Harry!” she said cheerfully. “I didn’t notice you there!”
“Oh, I bet you didn’t,” said Ginny, her arms crossed, looking utterly disgusted.
“Look,” Cho began, “it’s really not what it looks like. Michael and I, well, we’re just good friends.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Ginny said, “It all looked very cosy, didn’t it, Harry?”
Cho chose to ignore her, instead focusing on Harry.
“Look Harry, couldn’t we have…umm…a word in private?”
Ginny stepped in between them, her arms still crossed. She had no idea what Cho was playing at, but she wasn’t letting her anywhere near Harry, not after the scene she had just witnessed! There was no way in Hell Cho was going to sweet-talk her way out of this one! Ginny glanced over to see Michael, still standing where Cho had left him, shooting daggers at Harry. No, she thought, she wasn’t that stupid, something was definitely still going on between them.
“Well I’m not going anywhere!” said Ginny. “Anything you have to say to Harry you can say to me too! I think I’d actually like to hear this.”
Cho surveyed Ginny, sizing her up, looking down at her as if she was something she had just trodden on.
“Weasley, isn’t it?” Cho smirked. “Yes, I’ve heard all about you from Michael. Bit of a man-eater, aren’t you?”
“Well it would take one to know one, wouldn’t it?” Ginny spat back, resisting the urge to throw something.
Cho might have been two years her senior, but she had chosen the wrong girl to cross! Any other girl could feel intimidated by someone like Cho, Captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, two years above her, but then, any other girl in her year didn’t have six older brothers, all of whom were terrified of getting on her wrong side, any other girl hadn’t caught the snitch for the Gryffindor team the previous year, and snatched the Championship from right under Ravenclaw’s nose! No, Cho Chang didn’t impress her! Give me an excuse, Ginny thought. Give me any excuse right now to cut you down to size.
Harry, however, was quick to intervene, stepping in before the situation escalated.
“Ginny, could you…uhh…just give us a moment? Please?”
“Harry…I…I don’t think this is a good idea,” said Ginny, but Harry just shook his head, his green eyes staring at her pleadingly, until she finally relented.
“Okay. Well, I’ll just be over here,” said Ginny, drawing her eyes off Cho, “in case you need me!” With that she retreated to the other side of the corridor, though not too far away, so she could still catch a good deal of what was being said.
“No idea what’s gotten into her!” laughed Cho, when Ginny had finally left them.
“I think she’s just a bit worried about what I’m getting into,” said Harry honestly.
“Or maybe she just wants you all to herself, Harry?” said Cho. “Maybe that’s why she’s trying to rain on my parade? I know her type.”
Harry just shook his head. “It’s not like that, Cho. She’s my best friend’s little sister. Now…uhhh…what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Sorry Harry, I…” Cho began, finally managing to compose herself, “I just came over here because I didn’t want you getting the wrong end of the stick! I’m not sure what you thought you saw there, but it really isn’t what it looked like.”
“It’s exactly what it looks like!” Harry heard Ginny call from the other side of the corridor.
Cho chose to ignore that comment too, instead focusing solely on Harry
“Harreeee…you know me. You know I’m not that sort of girl! You know how I’ve always felt about you,” said Cho, batting her long eyelashes at Harry, turning up the charm. “I mean, I am still seeing you on Saturday, right? That much hasn’t changed. We are still going out to Hogsmeade, aren’t we?”
“What about Michael?” asked Harry, still feeling slightly concerned.
“Look Harry, just to clear things up, Michael and I, well, we are still close. I won’t lie to you. But we aren’t an item, at least, not right now. We are…umm…kind of on a break. I mean, we are technically free agents. It’s really nothing to worry about. Okay?”
This just made Harry feel more nervous “What do you mean by ‘on a break’? I mean, it is over, isn’t it?”
“Harreee…” Cho laughed. “What are you like! This isn’t the Dark Ages! A girl can see two guys at the same time, and decide which one she likes the most. That’s what girls do when they’re single! Don’t even worry about it! Anyways, I did say I wanted us to go out just as friends to begin with. Just spend some quality time together, and see how we both feel? We are still both free agents, Harry. I did tell you I wasn’t rushing into anything! Though that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun, and see where it leads? Wouldn’t you like that? I know I would.”
“So, when you say seeing Michael…does that mean you’ll still be…snogging him and stuff?” Harry asked, still looking slightly concerned.
“Don’t worry about Michael!” Cho laughed again. “Seriously, Harry! Don’t even think about him! I’m not saying I won’t be snogging him. I’m just saying to concentrate on all the fun things we’ll be doing when we’re together, and it won’t be a problem! And Anyways, Michael’s the one who ended things with me! So if he thinks’ I’m going to take him back just like that, without making him suffer a little, he’s got another thing coming! Who knows, maybe you’ll sweep me off my feet, and it’ll be you I choose. Don’t you want that chance? Come on, Harry! You know we’re going to have a lot of fun at the weekend! Go on, say yes!”
“Don’t you dare say yes Harry!” he heard Ginny call over his shoulder.
“Harreeee… I know you’ve always liked me, haven’t you? You’re not going to let a little thing like Michael get in the way? I am technically single, so what’s the problem? And Michael still has a lot of making up to do, so you do have the upper hand. I’m being totally up front with you here! Don’t miss your chance, Harry. You know you’ll regret it if you do! And you know I still really like you, don’t you? I wouldn’t have asked you out if I wasn’t still really interested. Say ‘yes’, Harry. Go on. You know you want to!”
“Umm… I guess… Okay…I...umm” said Harry looking flustered.
“Goooood! Great! See, that wasn’t so hard!” Cho beamed. “Glad it’s settled! Well, I guess I’ll see you around, Harry. Looking forward to Saturday!”
With that, Cho spun on her heels, taking a moment to glance around at Ginny, and smirk victoriously, before strutting off back along the corridor, leaving Harry looking stunned.
A few moments silence, and then…
“That...bitch!” Ginny was fuming! “Oh, I can’t believe the nerve of that…”
“No, Ginny, It’s not like that,” said Harry, still looking flustered. “You heard what she said. I mean, at least she’s offering me a chance. That’s more than she ever did when she went out with Cedric. That has to count for something? And she is a popular girl, really popular. She’s captain of her Quidditch team and everything. And she is a year older than me. I guess she does have the right to see whoever she likes before she settles down? She is single.”
“Oh…my…God! Harry!” gasped Ginny. “Don’t tell me you’re actually defending her after that!? It looks like she's just using you to make Michael suffer! No, that's really low! What’s she playing at? Is she going to play you off each other? I’m sorry. I really don’t like this at all!”
“No, she’s really not like that, Ginny,” said Harry, though she wasn’t sure if he believed it himself going by the look on his face. “You didn’t see what she was like after Cedric. She was in a terrible state, and things didn’t go too well the first time we dated either. I know that’s no excuse, but at least she’s giving me a chance this time. Don’t think too badly of her. She’s a…”
“Cow!” Ginny finished for him. “No, I’m sorry Harry,” she continued. “I’m really not happy about this! She shouldn’t be leading you on like this, not when she’s still planning on still seeing Michael! What? Is she going to split the week between you? Who gets her at weekends? Or will it be weekends about? No, I’m sorry, that just isn’t right!”
“I like to think of the best in people, Ginny. You know that,” said Harry. “And I’m not being naïve here. You think I don’t know she’ll probably choose Michael? They’ve been dating for ages! They have loads of history together. Something like that just doesn’t go away. Not if Michael still wants her back! Don’t you think I don’t know where I stand? Don’t you think I don’t know how this ends?”
Ginny couldn’t find the words. There were no words at a time like this! Harry stared at the ground like a man defeated as the last remaining students bustled past, heading to their first morning’s lessons, oblivious to the turmoil now raging inside him. Ginny looked on, still trying to find words of comfort, some small way to offer him a glimmer of hope, but it would be no use. What hope could she offer? How would she be able to do anything to help? Only yesterday he’d been stressing out about kissing Cho, worrying that she’d compare him to Michael, that he somehow wouldn’t match up to her ex, whom she’d been dating for almost a year, probably snogging him in every part of the castle. Now he had found out that Michael was still on the scene. Not only that, but he would probably still be seeing Cho too! It was beyond cruel. Harry didn’t deserve this, not after all he had lost and given up, all his pain and suffering and trials and tribulations, only to be messed around by the girl he had always wanted. It hurt her to see Harry like this. Maybe Harry did have a chance though, she thought to herself. Maybe Harry would plant a kiss on Cho’s lips that would blow her mind, and make her forget all about her ex. Ginny still remembered how good a kisser Michael was. Actually, Michael was quite a spectacular kisser from what she remembered. She had taught him, after all! How could Harry hope to compete with that?
And in that moment Ginny knew EXACTLY what she was going to do.
“You know what, Harry. Don’t you worry about anything! Oh, and we ARE having those lessons! If someone like Cho thinks she can mess you around, oh…she’s got another thing coming! By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll be the best kisser ever! Michael won’t even stand a chance! I guarantee it!”
“Really?” asked Harry, looking up from his torment. “Are you sure? I mean, I thought before you said…”
“Of course I’m sure!” Ginny was still furious. “You do get that they’re still snogging? Cho and Michael? You do get that, don’t you?”
“But...I thought you said it wouldn’t be right? That...it...wouldn’t be fair.”
Ginny laughed at that. “And what Cho’s doing is fair on you, Harry?! No, I’m sorry. Every ounce of sympathy I may have felt about doing that to Cho just went out the window! I’m not about to let her get away with this! Not after the conversation I just heard! And why should you or I feel guilty or whatever about just practicing with a friend, when she’s up to whatever — for real — with her ex? No, I’m sorry. I’m absolutely furious about this! So, do you want my help or not?”
Harry seemed to take quite a while to think about it, the cogs slowly turning in his head. Then, he looked up through his pain and misery, and gave her his reply.
“Yes! After hearing all that…” he said, “Yes! Thanks, Ginny!”
“Good!” she replied, still quietly seething at Cho, “We’ll you’ve got it!”
“When should we start?” he said, still looking destroyed.
Ginny thought about that for a minute. Now was as good a time as any! If they left it too long, they both might have second thoughts. No, she thought, she didn’t want to risk that. Then Cho would win, and Harry would be crushed! She wasn’t about to let that happen. Not to Harry of all people. Whatever reservations she had before, now it was about more than just her. Now it was about Harry! She still remembered that smug look Cho had given her just before she left, and she wanted nothing better than to wipe that smile right off her face! In the back of her mind she pictured Harry kissing Cho, and Cho’s smug grin nowhere in sight as she staggered back, stunned at the kiss, and somewhere in the distance Michael sobbing, knowing he had lost her to the better man. Harry would win!
“Tonight!” she exclaimed, finally emerging from her thoughts. “We should start tonight! The sooner the better! Meet me after lights out in the Common Room, and bring your cloak! I’ll get everything else we need sorted. We don’t want to leave this till the last minute. The sooner you start practicing, the better. Your date’s only a few days away. Believe me, if Michael thinks this is going to be a pushover, that he’ll get Cho back that easily, he has another think coming! By the time I’m finished with you…” she grinned, “Cho won’t know what’s hit her!”
In was shortly after dinner, and Ginny was on her way to the Room of Requirement to prepare the place for the night’s first ‘lesson’. She was still fuming about what had happened that morning, and, though she did have some initial reservations about these lessons, however bonkers the idea was, there was absolutely no way in Hell she was going to let someone like Cho Chang or Michael bloody Corner mess Harry around! No way!
She had reached the seventh floor, and had just turned left down the corridor that led to the secret room, past the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and all his trolls, when she was stopped by a rather nervous looking Luna Lovegood, a small package under her arm.
“Umm…Ginny, look, about this morning? I’m really sorry… for… about that potion. I had no idea it would do…umm…whatever were you were mad at me for?”
Ginny had been really off with Luna that morning at breakfast, something she felt a bit bad about now, seeing as she was now actually going to go through with Harry’s lessons.
“It’s fine, Luna,” said Ginny, a soft smile on her face. “Honestly! I think I maybe…I overreacted a little. Everything’s all good now!”
“So…” said Luna sheepishly, “We’re still…friends?”
Ginny gave her a warm smile “What? Yeah, of course we are! How could you think anything different?”
Luna’s face broke into a huge grin. “Friends,” she said, more to herself than to Ginny.
“Yeah,” said Ginny, “friends forever! Okay? So no thinking silly thoughts! It will take more than a few drops of your Peppermint Pep-up Potion to ruin our friendship!”
“So, I brought you a present, to sort-of make up for it,” said Luna happily.
“You didn’t need to get me anything, Luna!” said Ginny, shaking her head. “Honestly! Umm… what is it anyways?”
“Daddy’s famous Butterbeer!” said Luna proudly, pulling out two rather old dusty bottles from the package she had been carrying. “It’s a secret recipe!”
“Uh — uh… no way!” said Ginny shaking her head. “I’m not drinking it!”
“Ooh but it’s so tasty!” said Luna dreamily. “I brought it for you especially! You’ll love it!”
“No way!” said Ginny laughing. “No offense, Luna, but I don’t think It’s a good idea to drink any more of your concoctions!”
But Before Ginny could protest any further, Luna shoved the two dusty bottles into her arms, and bid her farewell.
“I’m not drinking it!” Ginny called after her, shaking her head.
Honestly! What was Luna like? She was harmless, really, but, as her brother, the master of diplomacy, kindly liked to remind her, “absolutely utterly totally bonkers, that one!”
It was now nine pm and time for all the students of Hogwarts to be in their dormitories. It was time for lights out. Harry was already waiting in the Common Room when Ginny arrived, his cloak under his arm. It was better no one saw where they were going. The castle was deserted tonight, they had anticipated running into a teacher or two, or at the very least Filch and his cat, Mrs Norris, but no. No one! Not one single solitary person, not even a ghost crossed their path, as they made their way down from Gryffindor Tower and into the castle itself. Harry’s invisibility cloak was fixed around both of them, as they made their way through the corridors, towards the Room of Requirement, the place where their lessons were to begin.
It was only when they had walked past the room for the third time that the door did finally appear, flickering light streaming out from underneath the entrance and the sweet sound of music coming from within. She pushed the door open gently to the tender tones of A Cauldron full of Hot Love, Celestina Warbeck’s husky vocals setting the scene. Ginny’s eyes went wide at the sight that now met her. Every wall was decorated with golden cherubs and paper hearts. Every corner had painted banners proclaiming terms of love and endearment. Pink confetti was raining down softly from the ceiling, and, in the centre of the room, a table was set for two. Romantic candlelight was softly setting the mood. She had to hand it to the Room; it had really outdone itself this time! And On the table, there was even a feast to make the Great Hall envious! The house-elves have really outdone themselves, she thought! She had been clear, at least she thought she had, when she had discussed a ‘few nibbles’ with a certain house-elf from the kitchens earlier that evening.
“Miss Wheezy is going on a date with the Great Harry Potter? Miss will become Mrs Harry Potter?” said the House elf, his huge eyes growing even wider.
“No, no, no, no…it’s just a… practice date!” she explained.
“Do not worry, Miss! Dobby has everything under control! Dobby will prepare a feast fit for the Great Harry Potter!”
“No feast! Just a few nibbles!” she said again. “Nothing fancy!”
“Leave it with me, Miss Wheezy! Dobby will do you proud! And If Dobby fails, he will throw himself off the highest tower here in the Hogwarts!”
Oh dear, she thought
“That won’t be necessary, Dobby!” she called after him “And just a few nibbles!”
Wow! she thought. If this was his idea of ‘just a few nibbles’ she was glad she hadn’t arranged a small banquet in Harry’s honour! There would probably be enough food here to feed a small country if she had!
There was roast beef, roast chicken, stew, casserole, pork chops, lamb chops, shepherd's pie, steak pie, pork pie, Cornish pasties, sizzling sausages, bacon and steak, steak and kidney pudding, steak and kidney pie, black pudding, cheese sandwiches, egg sandwiches, egg rolls, ham sandwiches, jam sandwiches, bread and butter, roast potatoes, jacket potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, sprouts, carrots, gravy, ketchup, custard tart, mint humbugs, ice cream, whipped cream, apple pies, treacle tart, custard tart, marshmallows and crumpets, spotted dick, chocolate éclairs, chocolate gateau, jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, four different flavour of jelly, chocolate pudding, and rice pudding! And it was all for them!
“Wow!” gasped Harry “This is brilliant!”
Ginny grinned at Harry’s approval. It was the first time she had seen him smile all day. She had a really good feeling about this!
Th ey settled down at the table, making the most of the feast that lay before them. She let Harry get stuck into the food beforehand, figuring that he hadn’t eaten much since breakfast. She hadn’t even noticed him at the Great Hall at all during lunch, and at dinner time he just seemed to just pick at his food. It was clear he was stressed about what had happened that morning with Cho. Besides, it did all look delicious! I guess there is no point in wasting good food, she thought, her Weasley appetite getting the better of her.
Harry had just finished his third huge helping of roast chicken and sausages, with Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes, and had cut himself an enormous slice of chocolate gateau, when she thought they better get things started.
“So,” Ginny said, finally breaking the ice, “are you ready to get this show on the road?”
Harry blushed, “Umm…yeah, just a bit nervous.”
“Honestly, there’s no need to be worry, Harry!” she said, a warm smile on her face, “As I said before, we’re not going to be snogging our faces off here! We’ll just be having a ‘practice date’, see how it goes, see how you act, give you a few pointers about how you can improve, and try to give you a bit more confidence. Then, at the very end of our ‘practice date’ we’ll have a short kiss, nothing too embarrassing, and see how you do. I’ll point out all the things you do wrong as we go.”
“Umm…so we won’t be snogging the entire lesson?” said Harry looking slightly relieved. “Because that’s what I was kinda worried about. Not that there’s anything wrong with you, or anything! I mean…it’s just that you’re my best mate’s sister and all. I don’t want things getting weird between us, and…”
Ginny grinned. It was cute when Harry babbled when he was nervous. If anything, it made her a lot more confident around him, especially to be able talk openly about this sort of stuff. She liked that!
“Honestly, Harry! Most of it will just be us having a good chat, and me giving you advice! There really is much more to a date than just the snogging, especially since it’s how you actually act on the date is what determines if you get a snog or not by the end of it! So we’ll be concentrating on that on our first lesson: how to act on your date. What to do and what to say, and what not to do and what not to say. Make sure you’re the best you possibly can be. Make sure you’re the perfect date on the day. We want to make sure Cho sees all your best points; that you impress her! I want to make sure she sees you at your best; that you blow her away in every department before you even get to the snogging! How does that sound?”
“Actually, that sounds excellent!” he replied, grinning. Yep, thought Harry, Ginny Weasley is a genius!
“Okay, so let’s get things started,” she began. “So, what do you do when you arrive for your date, Harry? What’s the first thing you say?”
“Umm…. ‘Hi Cho’ I guess?” he said, looking slightly confused.
“Seriously?! That’s what you go with? ‘Hi Cho’? Seriously?” Ginny rolled her eyes.
“Umm…yeah…uhhh…what’s so wrong with that?” said Harry defensively.
“Okay, so let’s begin with your first lesson. Lesson One: compliment her.”
“Yes, Harry, that’s what I said. Compliment her! Find something nice to say about her appearance! Point out something you find attractive about her. For example: tell her how pretty she looks; tell her you like what she’s done with her hair. It’s really not that difficult. Okay, now, imagine I'm Cho and you’re arriving for your date? What do you say to her?”
Harry started at Ginny blankly. She smirked. Boys! What were they like?!
“Go on, try it with me,” Ginny continued, “Imagine you’re out on a date with me. I know it’s a stretch, but imagine. What’s the first thing you say when you see me?”
“Umm...okay, I guess…you have umm...” Harry blushed. “You have really beautiful eyes, and an amazing smile, and…umm…really cute freckles!”
“Oi!” Ginny giggled. “Don't mention the freckles! Bloody Weasley complexion!”
“I happen to like your freckles,” said Harry defensively. “They happen to look very pretty!”
Ginny actually blushed at that, making a mental note not to let Harry’s flattery not go to her head too much. This was, after all, just a practice date.
“Thanks, Harry. See, that wasn’t so hard?” she said, still feeling somewhat flattered at Harry’s kind words. Had Harry just said her eyes were beautiful? Oh my!
“You just passed your first lesson! Full marks!” she grinned.
“This is really important, right?” asked Harry, still looking unsure.
“Of course it is, Harry,” she replied. “Flattery is your best weapon! Compliments and admiration will put a girl’s mind at ease. If she knows you find her attractive, she’ll feel confident around you. She’ll feel she’s the one in control, and open up more, let you in. Plus it’ll put a smile on her face, and you want to start a date like that! You don’t want to start off the date with her unsure about where it’s leading. You want her to feel flattered and confident around you, and know exactly where she stands. That’s the best way to start off your date!”
“Wow!” said Harry. “And you get all that from a few compliments?”
“Yep!” grinned Ginny. “So now let’s move onto the next lesson. Lesson Two: be confident!”
“A girl likes a guy who takes control Harry; a guy who’s confident, and takes charge of the situation. The best way to start off your date, after you tell her how pretty she looks, is be assertive! You should never ask the girl what she wants to do or where she wants to go, you need to sweep her off her feet! Decide beforehand where your date will be set, and then tell her what you’ll be doing for your date. Go on, try it.”
“Honestly, I’m beginning to wonder which one is more clueless about girls, you or Ron?” Ginny chuckled. “Okay, so my line is ‘So, Harry, what do you want to do?’ and your line is…”
“Umm… ‘it’s up to you?’ Always let the lady decide.” Harry smiled. Always the gentleman, he thought.
“Wrong!” said Ginny shaking her head. “I thought I just said you should never do that? First date, the man always should always have something romantic planned! As I said: sweep a girl off her feet! That’s not to say the lady can’t make another suggestion, but you should be the one to take the initiative. For example, have a table booked at Madam Puddifoot’s, take her for something to eat, somewhere romantic; somewhere that’s not too loud or noisy, so you get a proper chance to talk. Then, after it, suggest a nice romantic walk around the lake. If she wants to do something else, she will always tell you, but on your first date you want to make a good impression. You want to show her you’re not a walk-over, that you can think for yourself and show a girl a good time. You don’t want to start of a date being indecisive, asking ‘what do you want to do’, ‘no, what do you want to do’? You want to be in control of the situation. Oh, and on the first date, the guy always pays.”
“Okay, okay, thanks, Ginny” grinned Harry. “Actually, that’s some pretty good advice!”
“Well, as long as it’s sinking in,” she continued, still shaking her head. “Okay, so, you’ve met her, complimented her, and told her all the fun things you have planned for your date together. You’ve taken a nice romantic walk into Hogsmeade, arrived at Madam Puddifoot’s; your table awaits. You’ve been a gentleman, and shown her to her seat, and ordered her a drink. Now comes the most important part of the date. Lesson Three: find something you have in common to talk about.”
“You should always choose a subject to talk about during your date that you’re both comfortable with, and, most importantly, you both have in common. You don’t want to start off a date talking about things she isn’t interested in, or worse, she finds boring! That’s the best way to kill off any chance of a budding romance! Just ask Neville what the main topic of conversation was on our first date and our last date!”
“Wow!” laughed Harry. “I didn’t realise you went out with Nev more than once?”
“I didn’t!” Ginny grinned, “But I did learn an awful lot about various water plants and different types of fungi! Did you know there are over a thousand different types of toadstools in Britain alone? Or did you know that the egg of the Stinkhorn mushroom is actually larger than a Scarlet Elfcup? Or that the Purple Jellydisc is from the exact same family as the Scarlet Caterpillar cap, or something? Best…date…ever!” she finished sarcastically.
“He didn’t?!” laughed Harry
“Oh, he did!” Ginny laughed. “The entire date! Even while we were dancing!”
“Oh dear!” choked Harry, clutching his sides with laughter.
“It’s not funny!” she exclaimed, but she was laughing too. “Okay,” continued Ginny, “so, what do you remember about Cho? What was she into?”
“Umm...well umm...I guess Quidditch and...crying,” said Harry, looking uncertain.
“So, pretty much Quidditch then?” Ginny grinned. “Since I don't remember you being into crying all that much?”
Harry laughed at that. He always did love Ginny’s dry sense of humour.
“Seriously, Harry, for someone you’ve fancied since fourth year, you don’t really know an awful lot about her, do you?”
“Well, I was kinda hoping to get to know her more, you know, when we actually dated,” shrugged Harry.
Ginny just shook her head at him.
“Okay, well, let’s try it with me, Harry,” she continued. “You pick a topic we have in common, and we can talk as if we're on a date, and I can pick up anything you say or do wrong.”
“Okay,” replied Harry, “So...umm…what do you and I have in common?”
Ginny rolled her eyes again.
“Oh, I don't know, Harry?” said Ginny, shaking her head again. “How about Quidditch, Dumbledore’s Army, The Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts, the Diary of Tom Riddle, all the stuff that happened in the Chamber of Secrets, or the fact that I know what its like first hand to have Voldemort poking around in my head, our identical senses of humour, the Slug Club, Ron and Hermione…who are bloody infuriating by the way! Seriously! When are they ever going to get together? It’s so painful to watch! How about my summer working at Fred and George’s shop; which I know you financed. Take your pick?”
“Wow!” said Harry. “I had no idea we had so much in common! Maybe I'm going on a date with the wrong girl?” he joked.
“Prat!” she said with a grin.
Harry poured them a few glasses of Butterbeer, and within minutes they were chatting like never before. They talked for hours; about life and love, and summers at The Burrow, about Quidditch, and practical jokes, about Ron and Hermione, about all that had happened last year at the Ministry, and the year before that at the Tri-Wizard Tournament, about growing up in a magical family, and growing up in a Muggle family, about Dudley and the pig’s tail Hagrid had given him, about her dreams of one day being a professional Quidditch player, about broomstick repair, giant spiders, and pet rats. They laughed, soaked in the atmosphere and good company, and talked some more. They talked so much they almost forgot the reason they were both there, only remembering when the subject of Ginny’s ex’s came up, and they both suddenly remembered Michael, and why they were doing this.
“So, how did I do?” asked Harry.
“That actually went really well, Harry,” she replied, a huge grin on her face. “You came across really well, plus you passed all the parts of the other lessons! You’re a natural! Lesson Four: be yourself; Lesson Five: be funny…but not Lockhart funny; Lesson Six: always listen when the lady talks.”
“Yeah, well,” said Harry, “That’s only because I can be myself around you. I don’t feel nervous or anything! If anything, I’ve had a really great time tonight! Thanks Ginny!”
“No problems, Harry,” she smiled. “That means a lot! Well, I can’t really fault your conversational skills, you were really funny! Though, I would steer clear of
You-Know-Who in the conversation, or at least for the first date. I mean, it doesn’t bother me, but it might scare Cho off if you’re constantly talking about homicidal lunatics who are out for your blood! And I definitely wouldn’t talk about the Tri-Wizard Tournament; it might bring up some bad memories. But apart from that, I really can’t fault you! You were a joy to be out on a date with, albeit a ‘practice date’!”
“Wow!” said Harry, grinning himself. “Thanks! I really don’t know what to say to that? And for the record, you weren’t too bad yourself. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in ages! At least, not with a girl!”
Ginny giggled at that. “What, so you don’t consider Hermione a girl?”
Harry laughed. “I don’t know, I don’t see Hermione in that way, you know? To me she’s just Hermione; my friend.”
“Well that’s good to know,” grinned Ginny; “Because I don’t think Ron would be too happy if it was any other way, do you? Oh, that reminds me! On your date, don’t mention Hermione!”
“Eh?” said Harry, confused by this. “But I’m friends with Hermione?”
“Nope! Sorry Harry! Maybe after you’ve been out on a few dates with Cho, but on your first date, do not mention Hermione! Which brings me to Lesson Seven… don't mention exes! You remember how spectacularly bad your first date with Cho went after you mentioned Hermione? Actually, maybe we should re-title this lesson to 'Don't mention exes or Hermione'?” Ginny giggled, “Oh, and definitely don't mention Cedric, unless you want her crying all through your date!”
Harry laughed at that. “This is definitely much more fun that I thought it would be!” he grinned.
Ginny finished her third rather large glass of Butterbeer, when Harry poured her another. That last swallow burning her throat like Firewhiskey as it slipped down. Wow! Bloody hell, this is strong stuff, she thought.
“Umm…Harry, by the way, where did you get this drink? It is rather potent!”
Harry looked confused. “Huh? I thought you had brought it for us?”
Ginny took one glance at the two rather dusty bottles, now lying empty on the table, sitting in between the massive piles of delicious food, and closed her eyes, now remembering Luna’s gift. Oh… dear…
“What’s wrong?” asked Harry, looking concerned, as Ginny had just buried her head in her hands.
“Oh God, Harry! We weren’t meant to drink that stuff!” she gasped. “They were a gift from Luna! I…I must have left it here by mistake, and the house-elves must have put them out, thinking they were part of the feast! Sweet Merlin, this is awful!”
“Why? What’s wrong with it?” asked Harry, picking up one of the bottles to examine it more closely. “I mean, it tastes great! Very sweet! Though it does have weird taste of oranges for some reason, I like it!”
“And you’re sure you feel okay?” she asked, looking worried, “I mean, you don’t feel any weird side effects from drinking it? Luna’s past forays into drinks and potions and fruit punch, for me anyways, have always left a lot to be desired.”
“Well, honestly I feel fine!” said Harry reassuringly. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about! Actually, it does taste rather lovely! Maybe you just had a bad batch before?”
“Yeah, I guess?” she replied. “It is much nicer than anything else she’s ever given me before.”
“It’s spectacular!” grinned Harry. “My compliments to the chef!”
Ginny laughed. Well, she did feel fine? And Luna had said it wasn’t one of her own concoctions. It was her father’s recipe. No, maybe it would all be okay. But, maybe, it would be best to get this practice date over sooner rather than later? Just to be on the safe side, she thought. She glanced at her watch. It was getting late; after midnight already! Time to get to the part she’d been dreading: the kiss. Although, in all honesty, she didn’t feel too nervous about it now. Poor Harry was probably petrified about this part!
“Okay Harry, I think we’ve covered everything you need to know about how to actually act on your date. So now here comes the practical part: the kiss! Nervous?”
“No, actually; not in the slightest,” said Harry shrugging. “I mean, I was really nervous before, but after hanging out with you all night, and all our really cool conversations, I actually feel fine about it now. Is that weird?”
“No, not at all, that’s good!” she said stepping forward. “Now, where do your hands go, Harry?”
“Umm…wherever, I guess.”
“Nope Harry. Your hands go on the girl’s waist! That way it won’t get awkward between you. Go on, try it with me. Now, put your hands on my waist.”
Harry stepped closer to her; they were within inches of each other now. He put his hands on her waist, and she stepped closer still, looking up into his eyes; brown into green.
“It might be a bit awkward since we are good friends,” she said. “But try not to laugh too much, Harry. It won’t do anything for my self-esteem!”
Harry grinned, his lips were less than an inch away how, his strong hands on her waist. She stretched her arms up over his shoulders, wrapping them around his neck, licking her lips in anticipation of the kiss.
“Okay, now close your eyes, try to imagine I’m a girl,” she said smirking
Harry laughed at that. “I thought you were a girl!” he joked, pulling back to survey her face, a pink flush now creeping over it. “Or is there something you aren’t telling me?” he teased.
“Prat! You know what I mean! Imagine I’m Cho!” laughed Ginny, pulling Harry closer; the kiss now moments away.
His lips touched hers softly, and suddenly Harry was overcome with a million tiny senses all at once: the taste of her soft lips, her sweet smelling hair, and the scent of her skin. It was like something flowery he smelled in a Potion's Classroom. It didn’t seem awkward or embarrassing at all. If anything, their lips felt perfect together, gently at first, their mouths fixed tenderly in the kiss, kissing her softly and sweetly, Ginny’s arms tightening around the back of his neck, pulling his lips onto hers more, opening her mouth wider to deepen the kiss. It was bliss beyond imagining, an exquisite kiss, perfect in every way, and on and on they kissed, savouring the taste of each other, their lips locked firmly together, both lost in the moment. It seemed to go on like that for an eternity, both wrapped in each other, neither one wanting the kiss to end.
At last they broke apart…both gasping for breath.
“How was that?” asked Harry, his cheeks blushing scarlet.
Then it all went wrong…
Three hours had passed, and Ginny was still awake, turning the events of the night over and over and over in her head.
“How was that?” asked Harry, his cheeks blushing scarlet.
“Wow Harry! That was pretty bloody perfect! Once you kiss Cho like that, Michael won’t get a look-in!” she grinned.
Yes, she thought, that was what she ,should, have said! Stupid, stupid, stupid Ginny! How do you get yourself into these messes?
She pictured the scene again.
“How was that?” asked Harry, his cheeks blushing scarlet.
“Spectacular, Harry! You’re a natural! Kiss Cho like that, and you’ll knock her off her feet! You’re an amazing kisser!”
Yeah, she thought, that would have been perfect too. You should have said that! Damn you, Weasley! Why didn’t you say that! And again and again she pictured the scene, repeating over and over in her head. Every scenario…every scenario except for the one that had actually happened.
“How was that?” asked Harry, his cheeks blushing scarlet.
“Awesome, Harry! You’ve got NOTHING to worry about! If you kiss Cho the way you just kissed me? Wow! She’d be nutters to choose Michael!”
And over and over and over the scene replayed in her head, all the things she should have could have said…all the things she should have done. It didn’t matter, because no matter how many times she pictured the scene, the words she should have spoken to Harry, it wouldn’t change a thing…because that’s not what happened at all. No, it wasn’t even close.
Three hours earlier…
At last they broke apart…both gasping for breath.
“How was that?” asked Harry, his cheeks blushing scarlet.
“That was…umm…okay, I guess,” she replied, slightly light-headed, scarcely believing what she had just said.
Oh my God, Ginny! she thought to herself. What ARE you saying? That was bloody perfect!
“Okay?” said Harry, looking visibly hurt. “Just…just okay?”
“Yeah, well…you can’t expect to be perfect on your first try, can you?” she smirked, the effects of Luna’s Butterbeer swinging fully into action. Again, she felt the urge to pinch herself. Had she really just said that? Whoah, where did that come from! What ARE you saying, brain!
“Merlin, I didn’t realise I was so bad!” admitted Harry, looking somewhat defeated.
“It wasn’t that bad. Honestly Harry, you just need a bit more…practice.”
Stop talking, Ginny! Stop talking! Oh…my…God…what am I saying?
“So, umm…you think we should have a few more lessons?” he asked.
Tell him the truth, Ginny! she thought, but the words kept coming out of her mouth.
“Oh, at least a few! Who knows,” she replied smirking, “we might need the entire week just to get you up to scratch.” A week! What are you saying, Ginny! You take that back! You tell the poor boy the truth!
“A week?!” Harry gasped. “Am I really that bad? Okay, well maybe we should have a bit more practice tonight...if that’s okay with you?”
“Yeah…uh…that’s fine,” she said, biting her lip to prevent any other words slipping out.
Harry leaned forward again to resume their ‘lesson’, but before his lips met hers, her mouth betrayed her yet again.
“Only…let’s try it a bit longer this time. Okay?” she grinned, pulling back to look into his beautiful green eyes. “Use your imagination! Try to impress me!”
…and the Butterbeer roared in triumph!
Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid! What the Hell are you doing?!
“Okay,” said Harry, “and…umm…maybe I should try it with my tongue this time? What do you think?”
Ginny gasped at those words, her heart jumping into her mouth.
“D…d…definitely!” she managed to blurt out, licking her lips.
What are you playing at, Ginny! This is sooo wrong! Tell him the truth! Tell him he doesn’t need any more lessons! He’s a perfect kisser! You tell that boy the truth, Weasley! This is so, so wrong!
And then, their lips met again, and their kisses were deeper this time than before. She felt Harry’s tongue slipping softly into her mouth, his body pressed hard against hers, his warm hands running down her spine, and she couldn’t think of one single solitary reason why she should tell Harry anything! She was, after all, just helping him out? What could be so wrong with that? Maybe he did need a bit more practice, she told herself, though she was not sure of the reason, but she was sure it would come to her eventually. She chose to ignore that nagging little voice, screaming at her from the back of her mind, the same word over and over and over again. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
No, she thought, she was just one friend helping another friend out. That’s all this was. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that, and Harry had said he wanted her help, she reminded herself. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, and anyways, she didn’t see Harry in that way anymore! She had gotten over those feelings for him a long, long time ago; at least, that’s what she told herself, and… Oh my!
Ginny moaned slightly, Harry had broken away from her lips, and was now gently kissing her neck. Well, I guess I did ask him to use his imagination, she grinned to herself. The effects of the Lovegood’s Secret Recipe Butterbeer were now working at full force! She ran her fingers through his messy black hair, and then pulled his face up towards hers, licking her lips, and then he was snogging her again, only this time it was her turn to slip her tongue into his mouth. She felt him tremble when she did, she liked that, it made her pull him in closer, pushing her tongue deeper into his mouth, as far back as it would go, making him tremble more.
This was what friends did for each other, she lied to herself. It’s not like this would change anything between them? No, she decided. Their friendship was much stronger than that… This wouldn’t change anything at all…
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