Ginny walked into the Gryffindor common room and looked around for a place to sit. Harry wasn't there; he was going over Quidditch practice schedules with Madam Hooch, happily fulfilling his duties as Gryffindor's new captain. Ron and Hermione were sitting next to each other, Hermione often looking over from her latest novel to take a peek at Ron, and Ron blushing every time he opened his mouth to talk to Hermione, though he never managed to get any words out. He would simply turn back to his game of chess against a self-playing Wizarding board. Ginny sat in one of the over-sized arm chairs near Ron and Hermione and opened one of her books as she silently wondered why Ron was such a chicken.
Watching the two more than reading her History of Magic assignment, Ginny bit her bottom lip trying to work out why they weren't looking lovingly into the fireplace with Ron's arm around Hermione's shoulder. Ginny's eyes rolled in frustration, knowing she had talked to Hermione about this many times already. "I don't want to initiate it," Hermione had protested, feeling Ron should make the first move. "Who knows if he even feels the same way I do," she would add, even though Ginny had sat there showing Hermione exhibit after exhibit of evidence, all pointing to the same inevitable conclusion: Ron liked Hermione.
It was a painstaking hour and a half before Hermione finally closed her book and took a deep breath to get Ron's attention. She bit her bottom lip silently as he stayed focused on the chessboard.
"I think I'll go to bed," she said, standing up. "Goodnight, Ginny. Goodnight, Ron," she added, almost wistfully, as she made her way up the girls' staircase.
" 'Night," Ron mumbled.
Ginny gave an encouraging grin to her friend before Hermione walked away without another word.
"Are you completely daft?" Ginny asked Ron, sitting forward. Ginny looked around the room to make sure no one was eavesdropping. There were a few people in the common area, but they were spread out all over the place and weren't exactly interested in the Weasley siblings' conversation.
"What?" Ron asked, confused.
"Why don't you just grab her hand, or put your arm around her ... something!" Ginny said, slowly feeling frustration towards Ron.
"Oh," Ron said, not liking the way the discussion was turning. Ginny was always telling him how hopeless he was, and he was always trying to convince her that he was just waiting for the right time.
"There were at least ten times you could have grabbed her hand tonight, you know that?"
"Come on, Ginny, her hands were on her bloody book all night."
"I'd suggest you don't let her know what you think about her books, or Hermione might just—"
"Fine," Ron said, glaring at his sister as his face turned red. He couldn't believe that he was being given dating advice from his younger sister. Ron turned back to his game, trying to shut Ginny out.
"I'd move the knight," Ginny said, as Ron tried to concentrate on his move.
"I was going to," Ron said, although he quickly removed his hand from a pawn.
Ginny got up from the chair, leaving her school things behind, and sat next to her older brother. "All you have to do is learn to read the signs," she said to him.
Ron pretended not to listen, but this didn't discourage Ginny; she continued on with her lecture. "First off, if she puts her hand out there like this," Ginny placed her left hand on the couch between her and Ron, "she wants you to grab it."
Ron looked over, picking up on the tip, but then turned back to his game. "Oh! And if she starts making her hand the focus of conversation that's a good time too," Ginny added.
"I think I can handle it on my own, Ginny. I don't need the tips you and Dean came up with," Ron said, while keeping his attention on the board
Ginny's eyes widened a bit in shock at the harsh comment, not knowing how to respond. That past summer Ginny had had a hard break up with Dean. Even though it was mutual, it was hard to be single again. Ginny had watched as Dean started dating again, while here she was, stuck in the common room with her heartless brother.
"I was just trying to help," Ginny said quietly, her voice quivering. Inside, she wanted to scream at him. What right did Ron have to bring that up? she asked herself, trying to hold back her temper as she stood to grab her things.
"I didn't mean that," Ron said, finally breaking away from his game. "Sorry, Gin," he muttered guiltily.
"What else should I be looking for?" he asked.
Ginny smiled a bit, knowing he was only asking her to make up for his mean comment. Either way, though, Ginny was putting the idea into Ron's head. "Well," she said, plopping down next to him again. "She might play with her hair or something to keep her hand occupied, so you have to be ready to make the grab when you get the chance." She twirled a lock of her hair to show him her meaning.
Harry walked in just as Ginny took another deep breath to continue showering Ron with her words of wisdom. She stopped mid-sentence and looked up at the newest addition to the group.
"Hey Harry," she said instead, grinning.
"Hey," Harry said, taking Ginny's former place in the large armchair. "What're you two doing?"
"I'm telling Ron how to hold Hermione's hand," Ginny said, making Ron blush.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" he asked. He didn't think it took much to hold anyone's hand. Was there a spell that Ron had to work out to disable some kind of block Hermione had put on herself?
"Ron's too chicken to do it on his own, so I'm telling him how to know when she wants her hand held." Ginny filled Harry in and turned back to Ron, who was so far past the point of red that he had created a look all his own.
"I'm tired," Ron said before Ginny could say another word to embarrass him. "I'll see you later, Harry," he added, picking up his chess set and walking up to the boys' dormitories.
Everyone else had already gone to bed, leaving Ginny and Harry alone. Ginny took a breath and let it out with a loud sigh. "Suppose I tried," Ginny said, looking towards the boys' staircase.
"Yeah," Harry said, looking at Ginny and wishing he had been there to hear her advice, "I suppose." There had been a couple of girls he could have used that advice on in the past, but the present one was sitting on the couch nearby and he had no clue what to do.
"Sorry," Ginny said, suddenly noticing that Harry was sitting on the strap of her book bag. Blushing, she reached for it.
"Oh, sorry about that," Harry said, feeling a bit of heat rise to his cheeks. "I suppose I should let you have your spot back," he added, standing up and offering her the comfortable chair like a gentleman.
"Oh no, don't worry about it," Ginny said. "I'll just go and do my homework upstairs." She picked up her other books and made her way towards the girls' staircase. "I'll see you later, Harry," she said, starting to walk up the stairs.
"See you," Harry said, waving one hand slightly, still standing. Sitting back down, he wondered if he could handle the awkwardness of his latest infatuation with the youngest Weasley much longer.
Ginny made it up to her room and placed her things next to her bed only to see someone occupying it. "Parvati and Lavender too loud again?" she asked.
"Yes," Hermione said with a small huff.
"Why don't you just put a silencing charm around your bed?" Ginny suggested for the umpteenth time.
"Because I shouldn't have to," Hermione said, sounding frustrated. "Why don't they just keep it down?"
Ginny rolled her eyes, changing into her pyjamas. "I wanted to talk to you anyway," Ginny said, glad to have been handed this opportunity. "It's about Ron."
"Not that again." Hermione took a deep breath. "I told you, I'm not going to be making moves or do anything some of my dorm mates would do," Hermione said, looking up as though she could see the two that prevented her from reading in her own bed
"I'm just saying," Ginny said, folding up her robes, knowing that if she scattered them on the floor like she usually did, Hermione would start off on house-elf rights and whatnot. "You know, there are hints you can drop."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Hermione asked.
"You're getting as thick as Ron," Ginny said, sitting by the headboard, facing her friend.
"You take that back," Hermione said. For once she wasn't staring into her book but glaring Ginny down.
"Fine, I take it back," Ginny said, not having the energy to argue any more than needed. "I only meant that you could place your hand beside you instead of keeping it hidden away in your pockets like you did tonight," she said.
"Where you place your hands is a subconscious thing," Hermione stated, liking this conversation less than Ron had. She got this a lot more than he did. "And if I play with my hair it's for the same reason."
"You know, Witch Weekly said that's one of the signs that you're interested in someone," Ginny said, raising her voice to a sing-song pitch, "but we already know you like him. Ron likes you too, you just have to ... lay the foundation for him to build on."
"Stop speaking girlish," Hermione said, referring to the language created by Lavender and Parvati.
"I'm not," Ginny said. "I'm speaking the language of love. All knowing and universal."
"Oh, just shush," Hermione said, blushing and unable to think of anything better to say.
"Just try and bring attention to your hand the next time you're talking to Ron," Ginny said with a shrug. "That's all I'll say," she added when Hermione opened her mouth to respond. "So how's the book?" Ginny said, changing the subject, at least for now.
Two days had passed since Ginny had talked with Ron and Hermione, and so far nothing had happened. Granted, most of those days were filled with classes and Quidditch practices, leaving little time for the two to manage a hand holding session, but it was still frustrating. Finally, it was Saturday night, a perfect chance for Ron to make his move. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all found themselves in the common room, Hermione and Ron again sitting next to one another on the couch, while Ginny and Harry played a Muggle game they had borrowed from Dean called Snakes and Ladders.
"But why do I have to go down the snake? I don't like snakes," Ginny protested, having hit the same snake three times in a row.
"Because that's how it's played," Harry said with a half grin. He spun the small board to see how many spaces he could move. Again, he landed on a ladder.
"Hey! That's not fair!" Ginny said. She crossed her arms and glared at her opponent, sitting across from her at the small table. "This whole thing is about luck."
"Just like Divination," Hermione said under her breath.
Ginny heard and started laughing.
Ron, who had been trying to work out how to just reach out and grab Hermione's hand (even though she wasn't exhibiting any of the signs Ginny had mentioned), was brought back to the conversation by Ginny's laughter. "What?" he asked, looking from person to person for an answer.
"Ginny was just laughing at the purple spider to your right," Harry said, smiling slyly
"What?" Ron shouted, moving to his left quickly and bumping into Hermione. Turning slightly pink, Ron realized Harry was just messing with him and, while glaring at Harry, he mumbled an apology to Hermione. By now, though, it couldn't be heard over everyone's laughter.
"Never fails," Harry said, to add insult to injury.
Ginny refocused her attention on her turn, but saw through the corner of her eye that Hermione was using only one hand to hold her book. The other was placed gracefully beside her, within Ron's reach. Ginny wanted to jump up and congratulate her bushy-haired friend, but knew this might ruin Ron's desire to actually grab Hermione's hand. Ginny watched Ron and Hermione between turns, not even celebrating her making it past that stupid snake she'd kept falling down, but Ron didn't do anything. Kicking her brother's shin lightly, Ginny finally got his attention and then looked back and forth between him and Hermione's hand. Ginny even jerked her head a few times in that direction to make sure he caught her drift. Ron just rolled his eyes and looked down. It wasn't normal for him to attempt to make a move right in front of his sister.
"Are you okay, Ginny?" Harry asked.
"What? Yeah," Ginny said, looking at the board and taking her turn. She looked over at the two on the sofa and pointedly cleared her throat. "So, Ron," Ginny said, leaning back and interlocking her hands as a hint, "How have classes been?"
Hermione noticed Ginny's hint and bit her bottom lip, as Ron looked confused.
"Okay, I suppose. You know ... you're acting weird, Ginny. Are you sure you're okay?" Ron asked, still oblivious as Ginny placed her hands together in another show of what Ron should be doing.
"I'm fine," Ginny said, wanting to shout at her older brother to stop being a dozy git and grab Hermione's hand. Taking a breath, Ginny started to think of what she could do now to clue Ron in. Hermione finally helped her out.
"I think we should talk to the teachers about getting a different brand of quills," Hermione said. At first, Ginny had no idea what Hermione was getting at.
"Why?" Harry asked, sounding bored.
"Haven't you noticed the little marks of ink the other ones leave on your fingers," Hermione said, holding her hand out a bit.
Score one Granger! Ginny thought to herself. Ginny decided it was her duty to play into Hermione's comment. "Yeah, no kidding," she said.
"What do you mean?" Ron said, looking at Hermione's spotless hand. "I don't see anything." Ron took hold of Hermione's hand, causing a blush to come to her cheeks as she smiled.
"Oh, well, I cleaned it of course," Hermione said, in a softer tone than she would have normally used upon hearing a question with such an obvious answer.
"Clearly," Ginny said with a large grin on her face. It didn't last long, though, as Ron let go of Hermione's hand and went back to stewing on how to hold Hermione's hand.
"I win," Harry said, his piece making it to the end space as Ginny's had just hit another snake.
"I demand a rematch," Ginny said, upset at having lost at such a stupid game.
"Okay," Harry said with a shrug, moving both pieces back to the start. Ginny only half concentrated this time, watching Hermione's hand move back to her book in defeat.
Ginny cleared her throat, grabbing Hermione's attention. When Hermione's eyes were on her, Ginny moved her right hand from the center of the table over, slowly and raised her eyebrows at Hermione. Hermione in turn took a deep breath and placed her hand next to her again.
As Ginny turned back to the game, still keeping an eye on things, Ron looked around, making sure no one was watching. He even waited until he thought Ginny wasn't looking before reaching over and lightly touching Hermione's hand. Taking a gulp, Ron moved his hand further left, playing with Hermione's fingers a little before moving his palm up and interlocking fingers with her.
Ginny smiled as she saw that from the corner of her eye. Miraculously, she got a ladder at the same time. Half of her wanted to get up and start doing a victory dance, but she knew that would end the moment. Instead, she resigned herself to concentrating on the game, losing her joyous smile as she hit another snake.
"I hate those!" she shouted.
Harry only laughed a bit as he got a ladder. The insensitive git.
After Harry won two more times, Ron looked around and leaned over to Hermione. He whispered to her, turning red, "Do you, er... wanna go for a walk? We still have some time before curfew."
"Okay," Hermione said, trying to act calmly, though her eyes were giving her excitement away. Hand in hand, the two stood and made their way out of the common room.
"YES!" Ginny shouted the moment the two had left, jumping up and flinging her arms into the air in victory.
"What?" Harry asked, his brows furrowed in curiosity.
"They did it. Ron did it!" Ginny had never been prouder of her older brother.
"Did what?" Harry asked, brows furrowed. Ginny could tell he had been thrown off by her sudden joy.
"He grabbed her hand!" Ginny said, then jumped up and down again, like a giddy schoolgirl ... well, she was a giddy schoolgirl.
"Oh, that," Harry said with a smile, having noticed it as well.
"Yes, that," Ginny said.
"Well, should we stop then, before you lose and your mood becomes foul again?" Harry asked with a grin.
"I'm not losing," Ginny said, this time only being four spaces behind Harry. Just as she said so, Ginny spun, getting six spaces. With a smug look, knowing she'd be passing him, Ginny moved, then realized she had landed on the top of a snake. "NO!" she shouted, making heads turn.
Harry smiled as he moved Ginny's piece down the snake for her. "And now," Harry said, "you're back at square one." At five spaces from the beginning, Ginny might as well have been.
Putting her forehead on the table and hands palm down in front of her, Ginny muffled a scream. Seeing Ginny's hand there, Harry gulped, like Ron had done a few times, and reached out to grab it. Ginny stopped, mid yell, and looked up at Harry, then looked down where his hand was holding her own. Ginny looked into Harry's eyes, and lightly squeezed his hand back.
"Your turn," Ginny said quietly.
"Looks like we're in the same place," Harry said, as he spun a two, landing himself at the bottom with Ginny.
"Looks like it," Ginny said, no longer paying attention to the board.