The Sugar Quill
Author: Mardia  Story: New Beginnings  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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"Well?" Hermione asked expectantly.

"Well what?" Ginny retorted in the girls' dormitory, brushing her hair and getting ready for bed.

"Did Harry ask you to the Valentine's Day ball?" Hermione asked, sitting on Ginny's bed.

Ginny sighed, and looked down. "Yeah, he did." Ginny admitted quietly.

" See, Ginny? I told you he'd-" Hermione started to say, but Ginny interrupted.

"I said no."

Two hours earlier….

"You know Cho turned down Harry again?" Ron whispered to Hermione in the Gryffindor common room.

"Really? Poor Harry." Hermione said.

"Yeah, he asked me if Ginny was going with someone." Ron said, turning his eyes back to the chessboard, and ordering a knight to move. "I said no, and then he asked me if it was all right if he asked Ginny."

"So, what did you say?" Hermione asked, moving a pawn. Ron's bishop eagerly captured it and dragged it off the chessboard.

"I said that it was fine by me. Ginny'll say yes, I suppose." Ron said, grinning as his knight grabbed Hermione's queen and captured her.

"Yeah, poor thing, she's really got a crush on him. I haven't seen her hanging around Harry much lately, though." Hermione commented, glaring at Ron as she realized that she was losing this game badly.

"No, I guess not. Checkmate!" Ron crowed.

"What?! You-how-" Hermione sputtered, staring at the chessboard. Ron's pieces were dancing and jumping, while Hermione's white pieces were shaking their fists at Ron. Some of the pawns were saying words that Professor McGonigal would be horrified at.

"You shouldn't be surprised. I always win." Ron said, grinning cheekily at his girlfriend.

"Oh, shut up." Hermione ordered testily. Then she grinned. "You're not wearing those robes from last year, are you?" she asked slyly.

"Nope." Ron said proudly. "Fred and George got me some new dress robes. Said it was a late Christmas present. They're dark blue, and not a hint of lace! Come on, let's go find Harry." Ron suggested.

Ron and Hermione walked out of the Gryffindor common room, and Ginny emerged from her little nook near the stairs to the girls' dormitory, looking disturbed.

Ginny sat down in a chair by the fire, thinking furiously. She should be feeling elated, after all, hadn't she just heard that her dream was about to come true? Didn't she hear that Harry was about to ask her to the ball?

And yet….

You know Cho turned down Harry again?

He asked me if it was all right if he asked Ginny.

Gin'll say yes, I suppose.

Yeah.

Poor thing, she's really got quite a crush on him.

That was the problem. She wasn't his first choice. She was just… "A last resort." Ginny whispered, tears in her eyes. She wiped at them furiously.

Did she really want to spend an entire evening watching Harry moon over Cho Chang?

The answer was bitter. And obvious. No.

She didn't want that.

Everyone was so damned sure she'd say yes. Even Harry. That was the part that stung the most. He knew that she liked him. And he was sure, he was absolutely positive that if she had a chance to go out with him, she'd jump at it.

But wasn't that the truth, awful as it was? Last year, she would have been thrilled if Harry had asked her out.

She flushed at the memory of what a ditz she'd been. Sending him Valentine's Day cards, blushing whenever he talked to her, never being able to string two words together when he was nearby…

She watched him all the time. And he barely knew she even existed.

Her brothers, her parents, Hermione, Harry, everyone expected her to go and just jump up with joy if Harry asked her out. Well, they were wrong.

Or were they?

Would she really give up the chance to go out with the guy of her dreams?

But…

Did she really want to be just a last resort?

Ginny was still sitting by the fire when Harry found her.

"Ginny, I've been looking all over for you." Harry said, walking up to her.

"I'll bet." Ginny muttered under her breath, looking down. Harry frowned, confused, then went on.

"Ginny, we've known each other for a few years now, and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me to the Ball?" Harry asked.

Ginny had been watching him calmly. He wasn't nervous. That really galled her, the fact that he was so confident so sure that she'd say yes. Finally she spoke.

"No."

Harry stared at her. "W-what?"

"Harry, I won't go to the Ball with you." Ginny said calmly.

"Why? Do you have another date? Because Ron said…"

"That I wasn't going with anyone?" Ginny finished for him. "I'm not."

"But… then-"

"Harry, I know that I'm not the person you originally wanted to go to the ball with." Harry looked down at her words.

Ginny continued in a quiet voice. " And I-I've grown up during the past year. And this sounds rather stupid, but I've found my self-respect. Believe me, it wasn't easy. And…if I went with you…knowing that you don't really know me, knowing that you just think of me as Ron's little sister, as a last resort…I'd lose all that self-respect." Ginny looked up at Harry, and her gaze was steady.

"And I don't want that. I-I don't want to see you looking at Cho Chang the entire time we're there. I'm sorry Harry, but I just can't do that. Maybe…. maybe if someday you know who I really am, know that I'm not just Ron's little sister or the girl that you had to save from Tom Riddle, then I'd be honored to go out with you. But not now, not like this. I'm sorry." Ginny walked past Harry toward the girls' dormitory.

Leaning against the door, Ginny let out a long breath.

In the dormitory…

"You turned him down?" Hermione shrieked.

Ginny looked at Hermione, exasperated. "Yes, I turned him down, and the world is still standing. Can I go to bed now?"

Hermione stood there, stunned, as Ginny changed into her pajamas. "But-but-"

Ginny looked at Hermione and rolled her eyes. "Why are you so shocked?"

"Oh, I don't know." Hermione said sarcastically. "Maybe because you've had a huge-" Hermione stopped mid-sentence.

"Crush on Harry for practically my entire childhood?" Ginny finished off, and sighed. "Hermione, I am not going to be a last resort for Harry."

"Harry doesn't see you as a-"

"He does, and you know it." Ginny sat down on her bed and looked at Hermione. "Hermione, picture it. Harry would stare at Cho and be miserable because she didn't say yes, and I'd be miserable because Harry wasn't paying any attention to me at all. We'd be the King and Queen of Melancholy. While the idea of a crown and title tempts me, the whole being miserable was kind of a turn-off." Ginny explained.

Hermione stared at Ginny. "D'you have any grip on reality?"

"Why does everyone ask me that?" Ginny asked. Then she sighed. "Honestly, Hermione, he-it-I can't, I just can't."

Their conversation was interrupted when Ron barged in. "Ginny, did you turn Harry down?"

"Ron, this is a girls' dormitory!" Hermione said, looking scandalised. "If anyone catches you-"

"Oh, like you haven't gone into our dormitory." Ron said, shooting his girlfriend a look. Hermione blushed.

"That was important-"

"And so is this." Ron looked at Ginny in bewilderment. "Did I miss something? Ginny, you've been waiting for this for years. Why-"

"Because I can't." Ginny said simply.

Ron looked confused and annoyed. "Ginny-"

Ginny had had enough. She stood up and looked her brother in the eye. "Ron, I am not eleven years old anymore. I don't need you and Harry to come and be my knights in shining armor. I know what I'm doing."

"Oh, really?" Ron shot back. "You could have fooled me. Ginny, Harry is a nice guy-"

"He is a nice guy." At this point Ginny seemed near tears. "He's just not interested in me. He never will be. And it's time I accepted that and moved on."

"Gin-" Ron started to say, but Ginny cut him off.

"Look, could you two leave me alone right now? I'm really tired." Ginny said shortly.

Ron sighed, ran his hand through his hair, and went out. Hermione followed him, but hesitated at the door.

"Ginny, are you going to be all right?"

Ginny sighed. "Yeah, I'll be fine."

Hermione nodded, and went out.

Ginny muttered to herself, "I hope."

 

At the ball….

Ginny had come by herself, and surprisingly, she was having a good time by herself. She'd danced with several different guys, and she enjoyed watching Ron and Hermione dance. Ron had finally come to his senses this year and asked Hermione out before someone else did. She frowned.

Those dance robes…. she really didn't buy Fred and George's explanation that every single Weasley ancestor would turn over in their graves if Ron wore those old robes for another ball. Oh well. She turned to get some punch.

"Hey." Harry said, walking up behind Ginny.

Ginny turned around in surprise. She hadn't talked to Harry at all since that evening when she'd turned him down. They'd avoided each other as much as possible. It was pretty easy, considering she was a year younger than he was.

"Um, hello." Ginny said cautiously.

"You, uh, you look really nice." Harry said.

Ginny looked down at her cream-colored robes. "Thanks." Ginny said softly, self-consciously touching the knot of hair on her head.

"Can I talk to you?" Harry asked.

"Sure. What did you want to talk about?" Ginny asked, looking up at him.

"Not here. Can we go to the gardens?" Harry asked.

In the gardens, Harry turned to Ginny. "I've been thinking about what you said. And you're right. I was treating you like a last resort, and I'm sorry." Harry apologized.

Ginny nodded. "Thank you."

"And you were also right about the fact that I really don't know you all that well. But I'd like to."

Ginny blinked in surprise. "Ex-excuse me?" Was she hearing this right?

"The next Hogmeade visit is coming up next weekend. I thought we could go together, and…get to know each other better. It'd be totally platonic. What d'you say?"

Ginny thought. "So, we'd be going together." Ginny stated, looking at Harry.

"Yeah." Harry confirmed.

"As friends." Ginny added.

"That's the plan." Harry said, smiling shyly.

Ginny noticed that he was tapping his right foot against the stone path and he was biting his lower lip. She grinned.

He was nervous.

Good.

"I'd love to." Ginny said softly, smiling at Harry.

 

 

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