Chapter Fifteen: Party Hardy
Ginny spent most of the next day deciding if she should break up with Dean once and for all, and ask Harry to go with her to the party. The thing was that Dean was truly excited about the party and Ginny didn’t have the heart to tell him she’d rather go with Harry. And in any case, she realized that was no longer an option on her way to Herbology that afternoon.
She bumped into Luna in the entrance hall. There was definitely something wrong with her… Well, maybe not wrong, but different. Her face was flushed, her eyes were wide open and shining with excitement and there was a wide smile on her face.
“Luna, are you okay?” Ginny asked her. Luna, who apparently hadn’t even seen her approaching, gazed at Ginny, looking confused.
“I guess,” she answered as though her mind was somewhere else, and the two girls set off toward the greenhouses. Luna then fixed her huge eyes on Ginny’s. “You are going to Professor Slughorn’s party.” It was not a question, but Ginny nodded anyway. “I’m going too.”
“Who invited you?” Ginny asked a bit surprised. Luna had never shown interest in any boy, and boys certainly didn’t seem to be interest in her. Ginny was pretty sure she had never been out on a date. And someone had invited her to Slughorn’s party. This was huge!
A slight hesitation preceded Luna’s answer. “Harry.”
Ginny’s eyes bulged up to twice their size and her mouth hung open in surprise as she stared at her friend, dumbfounded. Did she say Harry? That didn’t make any sense. Why would Harry ask Luna to go to the party with him when he could pretty much choose any girl?
Something of her thoughts must have shown on her face because Luna added, “We’re going as friends. He was very keen on making that clear.”
Ginny’s expression softened immediately and she smiled at Luna. That was why; because he was Harry Potter. He could have chosen any girl he wanted, and he decided to choose a friend. A friend who needed a boost like this. The perfect Christmas gift. This was not huge; it was humongous!
And she thought she couldn’t love Harry any more than she already did…
“I don’t know why he asked me,” Luna said in a tone that sounded a lot like an apology.
“Well, you just said it,” said Ginny firmly. “He asked you because you are friends, and because he’d rather go with a friend than with a giggling airhead who’s only interested in being seen with ‘the Chosen One.’”
“So you are okay with this?”
This was probably the first time Luna had asked Ginny such a direct question. It was certainly the first time Luna had indicated she knew about Ginny’s feelings.
“Are you kidding?” Ginny decided to ignore the subtext and just answer the question. “I’m happy for you,” she added sincerely. “I bet we’ll have fun tonight.”
They were already entering the greenhouse and joined Colin at one of the work tables. They had been working on their Fanged Geranium for a while when Colin leaned closer to Ginny and said in a loud enough voice so only she could hear, “Peaves is saying the craziest thing.” Ginny looked at him quizzically and he added, in an even lower voice, “he’s saying Harry is going to Slughorn’s party with…” he chuckled. “Check this out… With Luna,” he chuckled again. “Don’t you think it’s hilarious?”
“Actually, no, I don’t,” said Ginny. “Especially, since it’s the truth.”
Ginny almost burst out laughing at Colin’s expression –mostly because she now realized that must have been her own expression when Luna told her. His eyes were opened wide and his mouth was an O of surprise. His face registered nothing but shock. He opened his mouth, but closed it again, apparently lost for words. He did this a couple of times in a manner that made him look like a fish in a fishbowl.
“Your imitation of a Plimpy is quite impressive,” Ginny mocked him.
“That’s impossible!” he finally managed to say in a muffled sort of squeak. “Harry can’t… I mean, he can’t…” He didn’t seem able to find the words.
“Well, he is,” said Ginny in such a final tone that Colin didn’t pursue the subject.
They kept working in silence until the most terrifying thought entered Ginny’s mind.
“What are you wearing tonight?” she asked Luna suddenly.
“Oh!” said Luna, beaming as Ginny had never seen her beam before. “I have a set of spangled silver robes I bought last year but haven’t got the change to wear.”
Oh goodness! Ginny thought, mortified, spangled silver robes. Kill me now.
“They are very nice,” Luna added as though she could read Ginny’s mind.
“I can imagine,” said Ginny, trying to sound bright. “But do me a favor,” she added, looking uneasily at her friend’s neck.
“Please don’t wear your radish earrings or your butterbeer cork necklace.”
“Why?” Luna fixed her protuberant eyes to her inquiringly. “I think they’d look nice.”
“Maybe,” said Ginny, with her best attempt at diplomacy, “but, spangled silver robes… Come on! They must be stunning. You wouldn’t want to take anything away from them with jewelry.” When did she become a member of the fashion police? It was really stupid, she was aware of that, but she wanted Luna to look nice tonight –both for hers and Harry’s sake.
“Maybe you’re right,” Luna muttered. “I really don’t have a lot of experience. Nobody’s ever asked me to a party before… As a friend!” she added hastily and Ginny smiled.
Later that evening Ginny entered the Great Hall with Colin. He still hadn’t been able to wrap his head around the fact that Harry was going to the party with no other than Loony Lovegood. Of course, he refrained from making any comment because he knew very well what would Ginny’s reaction be and he was in no mood of putting himself at the wrong end of his friend’s wand.
When Ginny and Colin walked passed Ron and Harry, who were already sitting at the Gryffindor table, they couldn’t avoid overhearing their conversation.
“You could’ve taken anyone!” was saying Ron in disbelief and Ginny had a very good idea of what he was talking about. “Anyone! And you chose Loony Lovegood?”
“Don’t call her that, Ron!” snapped Ginny, pausing behind them. She then directed her attention to Harry. “I’m really glad you’re taking her Harry, she’s so excited,” she told him truthfully. She then spotted Dean and moved on down the table to sit with him. Colin joined Demelza.
That evening, it took Ginny an awful long time to get ready, and it took her an even longer time to realize she was so concern about her appearance only because she wanted to look good for Harry. In the end, she put on her set of light blue dress robes and decided to wear her hair down and just a little bit of makeup. It was hard to recognize herself on the pretty girl that was gazing back at her from the mirror. However, there was something about the soft blush on her cheeks and the crimson on her lips that made her feel very good about her appearance.
She met Dean on the common room and they set off toward Slughorn’s office. As they approached the party the sounds of laughter, music, and loud conversation grew louder with every step they took.
Whether it had been built that way, or because he had used magical trickery to make it so, Slughorn’s office was much larger than the usual teacher’s study. The ceiling and walls had been draped with emerald, crimson, and gold hangings, so that it looked as though they were all inside a vast tent. The room was crowded and stuffy and bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from the center of the ceiling in which real fairies were fluttering, each a brilliant speck of light. Loud singing accompanied by what sounded like mandolins issued from a distant corner; a haze of pipe smoke hung over several elderly warlocks deep in conversation, and a number of house-elves were negotiating their way squeakily through the forest of knees, obscured by the heavy silver platters of food they were bearing, so that they looked like little roving tables.
“Ginny, dear!” boomed Slughorn, when Ginny and Dean had managed to get inside the crowded room. Slughorn was wearing a tasseled velvet hat to match his smoking jacket. “I’m glad you made it,” he added, totally ignoring Dean.
“Great party, professor,” said Ginny, giving Dean a sidelong glance.
“I have such a treat for you!” he said, barely being able to hide his excitement. “Come, I want to introduce you to some people.”
He led her to a corner where stood what looked like two members of the Weird Sisters, surrounded by a group of giggling girls. When Ginny got closer, she realized the two men were indeed members of the famous music group. They were extremely hairy and dressed in black robes that had been artfully ripped and torn.
“Boys, I’d like you to meet Miss Ginny Weasley,” Slughorn told them importantly. “Ginny, these are Orsino Thruston and Myron Wagtail. They are the drummer and lead singer of the Weird Sisters. But you probably already know that,” he added winking at her.
“It’s so nice to meet you,” said Ginny excitedly. It couldn’t be properly said that Ginny was a Weird Sisters fan, but it was the first time she met such big celebrities.
“Nice to meet you too, gorgeous,” said Myron Wagtail in a rehearsed sugary voice.
“I’ll leave you to get acquainted,” said Slughorn before walking away.
“Did you say Weasley?” asked Orsino Thruston as he surveyed Ginny attentively.
“Yes,” Ginny responded, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
“Hmm… Red hair, freckles…” said Wagtail. “Are you by any chance related to Bill Weasley?”
“Bill’s my oldest brother,” said Ginny, surprised that members of the Weird Sister knew Bill. “You know him?”
“Of course we do!” they chorused.
“Bill totally rocks! We met him on our last tour to Egypt,” said Thruston.
“We had such a great time. How is that brother of yours?” asked Wagtail.
“He’s fine,” said Ginny, making a mental note to ask Bill about his party time with the Weird Sisters. “He’s in London now, and he’s about to get married,” this last statement showed her disappointment.
“Good Bill is about to commit suicide!” exclaimed Wagtail with a horror-struck expression that made Ginny laugh.
“We should talk him out of it,” said Thruston, somewhat playfully.
“I would be eternally grateful,” said Ginny.
“I’m going to get something to drink,” said Dean, leaning closer to Ginny, who had completely forgotten about her boyfriend. He looked extremely annoyed.
“I’ll go with you,” she said apologetically. She then turned back to Thruston and Wagtail. “I’ll see you guys later.”
“Bye, beautiful,” said Wagtail.
“Say hi to Bill,” added Thruston.
“Will do,” said Ginny, walking away. “Can you believe Bill partied with the Weird Sisters?” she told Dean when they were out of earshot. “I can’t wait to ask him about it.”
“Yes, fascinating,” said Dean acidly.
“I’m sorry I got a bit carried away.”
“Oh! Never mind,” said Dean, taking two goblets of what looked like oak-matured mead from a tray. He handed one to Ginny. She was enjoying the taste of her drink when she heard something that caught her attention.
“Hermione! Hermione!” It was definitely Harry’s voice. Ginny turned around in time to see him walking passed the members of the Weird Sisters, exactly where she had been standing a moment ago. He was walking purposely through the crowd, holding Luna’s hand. Ginny felt a sudden sting of jealousy, but it subsided quickly as Harry and Luna disappeared in the throng.
Ginny turned back to Dean, who was looking around with great interest.
“There are lots of people here,” he mused. “Is that Gwenog Jones?” he asked wide-eyed.
“It sure is,” said Ginny.
“You met her, right? Can you introduce us?” he said eagerly.
“Yes, I met her once. And no, I don’t plan to talk to her ever again,” she said. “She’s very obnoxious,” she added in explanation, as Dean continued to look questioningly at her.
“If you were Captain of the Holyhead Harpies no one would care if you were obnoxious too,” said Dean impatiently.
“Why don’t you go and try to talk to her?” Ginny sort of snapped.
“Well, maybe I will,” he said.
“Fine,” said Ginny turning on her heel and leaving Dean all by himself.
She made her way through the packed room toward the spot where she had seen Harry and Luna disappear with such determination that she walked right into Hermione, who looked like she was trying to escape.
“Are you okay?” Ginny asked, for Hermione looked distinctly disheveled, rather as though she had just fought her way out of a thicket of Devil’s Snare.
“I’m running away from Cormac,” said Hermione.
“I gather your date was not exactly a success,” Ginny said sardonically.
“He’s no gentleman, all right,” Hermione said, looking around.
“Serves you right for coming with him,” Ginny told her severely.
“Oh! Save it,” Hermione said annoyed. “Harry already lectured me.”
“You saw him?” Ginny asked, instantly forgetting about McLaggen.
“Yes,” said Hermione, giving Ginny a smug look. “He’s right over there with Luna,” she pointed toward the other side of the room. Ginny squinted and was able to see the back of Harry’s head, which she recognized by his unruly jet-black hair.
“Let’s join them,” Ginny said.
“I don’t want to run into Cormac again,” Hermione said tiredly. “I think I’ll go to bed.” Ginny nodded. “I’m leaving early tomorrow, so I guess I’ll see you after the holidays,” she added, somewhat gloomily.
“It will be weird,” Ginny said and Hermione looked at her inquiringly. “I mean that we’ve spent together the last few holidays. It will be weird not to have you around this time.”
“Well, I do have a family, you know?” There was definite an edge on Hermione’s voice. “I hardly spend time with them as it is.”
Ginny didn’t argue, although she knew very well that had things been different between Hermione and Ron, her friend would certainly spend Christmas at the Burrow.
“Then, in case I don’t see you tomorrow, Happy Christmas Hermione!” she said instead, hugging Hermione.
“Happy Christmas to you too Ginny!” Her face lit up. “And now I’m leaving, before Cormac finds me.”
Ginny made her way over to the spot where she had seen Harry. On the way she put her empty goblet on one of the trays and scooped another one. When she arrived to the other side of the room, however, she only found Luna.
“Luna!” Ginny called her.
“Ginny!” said Luna, who –to Ginny’s dismay- had been talking to Professor Trelawney.
“Good evening, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney, focusing upon Ginny with some difficulty.
“Hello Professor,” said Ginny awkwardly and immediately focused her attention on Luna. “You look great.” She was of course exaggerating, but it didn’t matter. Luna smiled at the compliment and Ginny added, trying to sound casual, “where’s Harry?”
“He went to the bathroom,” Luna answered.
“You do not have the proper disposition for Divination, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney suddenly, fixing her vastly magnified eyes on Ginny. “I knew it from the start, of course, but I still tried to give you the tools. But there is not much one can do if you don’t possess the gift of Sight.”
“Pity,” said Ginny, shrugging. She gazed at Luna, but her friend was looking attentively at Professor Trelawney as though she was speaking an unquestionable truth.
“It is a pity indeed to have all the omens in front of you and not be able to see them,” said the Professor dramatically.
“Can somebody kill me now?” Ginny muttered annoyed.
“Don’t ask me to do it,” said someone behind her and she turned around to find Neville’s round, smiling face.
“Neville!” Ginny exclaimed happily. She had probably never been so glad to see him.
“Hi Ginny, Luna, Professor,” he said politely, but Professor Trelawney, who had not taken the interruption kindly, glared at him.
“Oh!” exclaimed Ginny, getting on the tip of her toes as if she were trying to see over the crowd. “Look, guys, there’s… er…” she turned to Neville for support, but he didn’t seem to have realized her intention. “… Someone we know,” she added. “Bye Professor.” She grabbed Neville and Luna and led them away from the Divination teacher.
When they got away, Neville burst out laughing. “That was subtle!”
“Did you want to stay with her?” Ginny asked, joining in the laugh.
“Not really,” he said. “I find her very unsettling.”
“I think she’s nice,” said Luna and Ginny and Neville shared a look that clearly meant they both thought their Ravenclaw friend was insane.
As they walked away from Professor Trelawney, they ran into Harry, who was coming back from wherever he had been. He had his hands in the pocket of his robes and looked distracted, like his mind was somewhere else.
“There you are!” said Ginny when they were right in front of him. He looked at them as though he had just waked up from a dream.
“Ginny!” he said, fixing his green eyes on her for a moment, he then looked around. “Hi Neville!”
“I see you ditched Professor Trelawney,” he said.
“Can you blame us?” asked Ginny, suddenly feeling lighthearted.
Luna and Neville soon engaged in a conversation about the possibility of Rufus Scrimgeour being a vampire, and Ginny, who was not the least bit interested in the subject, turned to Harry. He looked at her too and Ginny had the impression he was about to tell her something, but then she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“I’ve been looking for you all over.” It was Dean.
“What? Weren’t you with Gwenog Jones?” she asked him, not being able to completely hide the note of resentment in her voice.
“Well… I…” he started, visibly put out. “Can we leave?” he asked bluntly and Ginny let out a sigh.
“We might as well,” she said, shrugging. “Goodnight guys,” she said, turning to Harry, Neville and Luna.
“Are you leaving?” Harry asked.
“Why so early?” he insisted.
Ginny shot a nasty look at Dean, but when she gazed back at Harry, she smiled. Harry’s eyes also went from Ginny to Dean and back to Ginny again. He didn’t smile.
“I’m a bit tired,” Ginny said simply. “Happy Christmas Luna and Neville!” she added.
“Happy Christmas Ginny!” chorused Neville and Luna in response.
“Bye Harry,” she said, walking away with Dean.
They were making their way toward the Gryffindor Tower in silence until Dean spoke cutting across Ginny’s thoughts.
“You didn’t wish Harry a Happy Christmas,” he pointed out. Ginny had been so immersed in her thoughts that at first she didn’t understand what he had said.
“I said you didn’t wish Harry a Happy Christmas,” he repeated. “Why was that?”
“Because I’ll see him on Christmas,” she said, but Dean continued to look at her puzzled. “He’s spending the holidays at my house.”
“You didn’t tell me,” there was definitely a tone of accusation on his voice.
“Didn’t I?” Ginny said dismissively. “It must have slipped my mind.”
They didn’t say another word until they had climbed in through the portrait hole into the deserted common room.
“Goodnight,” said Ginny in what she thought was a most definite tone. She was obviously not clear enough.
“Stay with me a while,” he said, pulling on her hand slightly.
“I’m tired,” she said dryly.
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, looking a bit upset.
“I don’t think so, Dean. I’m leaving awfully early.”
“Fine,” he said. “Then I’ll see you after the holidays.”
He strode off and Ginny felt a now familiar pang of guilt.
“Dean!” she called out and he stopped. “I’m sorry,” she said covering the distance between them. “Sorry about today and sorry about lately.” She really felt sorry about the way she had been treating Dean. He was always nice to her and it was not his fault that she didn’t have the guts to break up with him.
“Don’t be,” he said, taking her hands. “Things have been tough for everyone this year.” He hugged her and she rested her head on his shoulder. “Happy Christmas, Ginny,” he said, holding her face with his hands and giving her a brief kiss.
“Happy Christmas, Dean,” she said, feeling sad all of the sudden.