“Huh?” Ron blinked, and slowly interpreted Hermione’s speech. He felt his ears turn crimson. “Um...I was dared to,” he said finally.
“You...what?” Hermione’s face blanched, and her eyes widened. She looked like she was about to cry. “You kissed me because you were dared to?” she whispered.
“You act like I just told you I didn’t like it or something,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.
“You…you liked it?” Hermione frowned. Ron was making less sense than usual.
“Well, yeah.” Ron took another spoonful of porridge. “Y’see,” he said, mouth full, “I kissed you ‘cause ‘f a dare, bu’ I liked it, ‘cause I like you.” He was bright red by this time.
“You…liked it because you like me...Oh, Ron!” Hermione threw her arms around his neck, just avoiding getting porridge all down the front of her robe.
Bewildered, Ron patted the brunette on the back, unsure of how to handle a situation such as this.
Harry headed back to the Great Hall, frowning. While he was grateful for the offer of help...even from a worst enemy…he was still slightly disturbed. Malfoy’s idea of help probably wasn’t the same as his…
Harry turned around and smiled at Luna Lovegood, who stood behind him, holding her books. “Hi, Luna, how’re you?”
The silver-eyed Ravenclaw tucked a strand of blonde hair back behind her ear. “Good. Lost my Transfigurations text yesterday. Do you know where it is?”
Harry shook his head. “Sorry.”
Luna shrugged. “Ah well, no problem. I’ll get it back at the end of the year.”
“No, it is a problem,” Harry said, seizing the chance to deal with something other than his date-Ginny problem. “You shouldn’t have to deal with your stuff being ‘borrowed’ all the time. It’s not fair.”
Luna arched one eyebrow. “Why do you care?” she asked. “You didn’t last year.”
“Yes I did,” Harry replied hotly. Dammit, why hadn’t he cared? Luna was Ginny’s friend. Ginny would have liked it if he’d cared about Luna’s problem.
“No you didn’t. But thanks for pretending you did. You’re a good person.” Luna brushed past him and into the Great Hall. “You coming?”
Harry nodded, feeling as though he was going to throw up. This was it. He had to ask her now, or he’d never have the guts. “Yeah, I’m coming.”
Harry walked quickly into the Great Hall, and sat down with his friends.
“You took your time, Harry,” Hermione said, disentangling herself from Ron immediately. “What were you doing?”
“Oh, I needed to see someone,” Harry said vaguely. “Hey, Gin, how’re you?”
“Can’t complain,” Harry shrugged. “Uh…planning on going to Hogsmeade this weekend?”
“I was thinking about it. Why?”
“Well, wanna go with me?” Harry asked, playing with his scrambled eggs.
“What, you mean like on a date?” Ginny frowned. “What brought this on?”
“I just…” Harry sighed, “please, Ginny, would you like to go or not?”
“Yeah, I’ll go,” Ginny said casually. “Hey, ‘Mione, weren’t we going to go to the library before class?”
“What do you mean, we weren’t going to the-ow! Why’d you kick me?” Hermione snapped.
“Oops, foot slipped. Sorry. You were going to help me with my assignment, remember?” Ginny said pleasantly.
“Yeah, sure, just don’t kick me again.” Hermione smiled at Harry and Ron. “See you two later.”
Harry watched them leave, a frown on his face. “Okay, that was weird.”
“Eh,” Ron shrugged. “Girls. Smooth, by the way. ‘Please, Ginny, would you like to go or not?’ Priceless line. Remind me to use it.”
“Shut up.” Harry pushed Ron gently, laughing. “It’s not like I wanted to ask her, so there you go.”
Liar, his mind admonished. You know you’re attracted to her. Who wouldn’t be? Even some of the Slytherins think she’s hot.
Firmly, Harry pushed that thought away. Ginny was great, but she didn’t like him anymore. She probably only said yes as a pity thing…
“You kick really hard,” Hermione complained, exiting the Great Hall.
Ginny simply raised one eyebrow. “You should’ve taken the hint,” she said unapologetically. “You’re the smartest witch in the school, ‘Mione, act like it.”
“I’m not above cursing you, Miss Weasley,” Hermione warned.
Ginny giggled, suddenly throwing her arms around the brunette witch. “He asked me out!” she squealed. “Omigod, ‘Mione, he actually asked me out! I’m going on a date with Harry Potter! Me! Ginny Weasley! I am going on a date with Harry Potter! My dream guy!”
Hermione chuckled. “Yes, I know, I was there too, remember?” she said. “But he wasn’t very romantic about it, was he?”
“Romantic shmomantic. I’m just glad he asked me.” Ginny’s eyes widened. “’Mione, I’m going on a date with Harry Potter!” she wailed.
“This is terrible!”
Hermione frowned. “Huh?”
The redhead seized her best friend by the shoulders. “ ‘Mione, I’m going out on a date with Harry Potter and I have absolutely nothing to wear!”
Draco smirked, slipping out of the Great Hall after the Weaslette and the Mudblood. It was a good thing, too. Now he knew just how much the stupid little Muggle-lover was already infatuated with Potter. This wasn’t going to take long at all…
But he needed someone to help him with his plan. Not Crabbe and Goyle, they didn’t have the brains for this. This was delicate work.
His eyes lit up when a slender brunette exited the Hall.