|SIYE Time:2:49 on 22nd July 2017|
The Best Date I Never Had
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Category: Post-OotP, Holidays
Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Summary: Shopping alone in Hogsmeade on a cold winter’s day turns into the best date Harry never had.
Hitcount: Story Total: 6628
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
This fic was written for hg_seasonsfest. My eternal gratitude is offered to the artist formerly known as r_becca without whom this fic would still be on my laptop waiting for that special something.
It was the last Hogsmeade weekend before the Christmas hols and Harry Potter found himself all alone in the Quidditch section of Spintwitches carefully perusing the Chudley Cannons merchandise.
“Shopping for Ron’s Christmas present then?”
The monster currently residing in Harry’s chest perked up its ears and started to stretch. Harry turned around and as he suspected was face to face with Ginny Weasley, who had recently taken to haunting his daydreams and had made more than one interesting, if somewhat disturbing, appearance in his nocturnal fantasies. Just last night he'd dreamed that they were lying together in the sun near the pond at the Burrow without a Weasley brother in sight, when she scooted closer to him and —
Harry was abruptly jolted from his fantasy to see Ginny shaking snow from her glorious red locks. “Er, “ was all he managed to get out. Oh, real smooth Potter.
Ginny gave him a concerned look, probably wondering at his odd behavior. “Shopping for Ron’s Christmas present?” She repeated.
“Yeah, but how’d you know?”
“I don’t know anyone besides Ron who bothers with the Chudley Cannons, do you?”
“Er, I could have been shopping for myself,” he managed, hoping he sounded coherent and not like a confused, lovesick puppy, which he was just beginning to understand was exactly what he was.
“Honestly, Harry. Ron may buy your humoring his Cannon fetish, but I know for a fact you're a Puddlemere man.”
Harry knew he was busted so he shrugged his shoulders and held his hands out in defeat. Meanwhile, his chest monster purred a little at the knowledge that Ginny had been paying him close enough attention to know which team he fancied even though he mostly kept it to himself.
“So, what garish orange monstrosity are you considering for Ron?” Ginny asked, her eyes dancing with amusement.
Merlin, that eye dancing thing is sexy. Why hadn’t he ever noticed it before? “Haven’t settled on anything just yet. It’s all rather hideous. You?”
“Well he hasn’t been too subtle about hinting for the new Keeper jersey,” she said. “But unfortunately at six galleons, it’s a bit out of my price range. I guess he’ll have to settle for another poster or a scarf.”
Harry watched while Ginny fingered the scarves with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. He started towards the jerseys to look for Ron’s size when he had a brilliant idea. Maybe there was a way to make sure that Ron got what he wanted for Christmas and score a few points with Ginny. Not that he was trying to score points with Ginny. She was his best mate’s little sister after all. Yeah, right.
“Say Ginny,” Harry started. “I planned to spend about five galleons on Ron’s gift. If you wanted to chip in what you were going to spend on the scarf, maybe we could, er, go in together and get him the Keeper jersey.”
Ginny’s lips thinned and she raised an eyebrow. Harry quickly looked down at his shoes and stayed still whilst she considered him. He hoped he hadn’t overstepped his bounds and he certainly hoped he hadn’t made her angry. Ginny Weasley’s wand was one that he did not want to be on the wrong end of. Knowing Ron’s over sensitivity to anything related to money, he probably should have left well enough alone. He was desperately trying to think of something to say when Ginny, who had apparently been fighting her own internal battle over his offer, finally spoke.
“This wouldn’t be some sort of charity, would it Harry? Because I can afford to get Ron a present on my own.” Ginny didn’t look angry, but Harry noticed that she had begun to finger her wand.
Harry gulped. “No! It’s just — you’re going to buy Ron a present. I’m going to buy Ron a present. If we go in together, we can get Ron what he really wants instead of two things that he might not like as much.”
“But you’d be chipping in a lot more than me. It doesn’t seem fair.” Ginny at least seemed to be considering his idea.
“Well, if we both spend what we can, together we’ll be responsible for Ron’s favorite gift. Seems like a good situation all around if you ask me.”
Ginny eyed him suspiciously for a moment before shrugging her shoulders in defeat. “I guess you’re right. I won’t let my Weasley pride get in the way of a happy Christmas for Ron.”
Harry was a little surprised that she went along so easily. Ron would have gotten his knickers in a twist if Harry had made a similar suggestion to him. He made a mental note that Ginny was much more reasonable in matters of money than her brother, another point in her favor to add to an already exhaustive list. She was easy to talk to, she was wickedly funny, brilliant at Quidditch, had gorgeous red hair he was just dying to run his fingers through…
“Harry?!” Harry was startled from his musings and looked up to see Ginny with her hands on her hips and a bewildered look on her face. “What on earth were you thinking of just then? You had the goofiest smile on your face.”
“Er, nothing. I was just thinking about how happy Ron is going to be on Christmas morning. Er, should we check out then?” When Ginny nodded he tentatively placed his hand on her back and guided her to the queue. After all, it was the gentlemanly thing to do and he was only moderately ashamed of the happy dance the monster was doing inside his chest just because he had his hand on his dorm mate’s girl. Oh bugger, Dean. It was just his luck to fall for a girl who was not only his best mate’s sister, but also his dorm mate’s girlfriend.
As they reached the front of the queue, Ginny reached into her money pouch, pulled out a galleon and handed it to Harry. She gestured to a sign above the cash register. “Look, they’re offering free gift wrapping today. I’ll work on the card while you check out.”
Ginny grabbed a tiny card with a picture of three Quidditch hoops wrapped in garland and red bows and picked up a quill from the counter.
“Happy Christmas Ron! Love, Harry and Ginny.” Ginny said whilst she signed the card with a flourish. “How does that sound?”
It sounded more than a little bit of all right to Harry. “Er, it’s good.” Harry was sure that his ears were at least the tiniest bit pink as he was feeling a little flushed.
Ginny handed the card to the cashier and they stepped aside to wait for their gift to be wrapped. She leaned down and propped her elbows up on the counter and looked sideways at Harry. “So how is it that Hogwarts’ most eligible bachelor finds himself all alone in Hogsmeade on this fine winter afternoon?”
“Most eligible bachelor my arse.” Harry scowled. “And besides, I could ask you the same question. Where’s Dean anyway? Thought you two would be tucked away in Madame Puddifoot’s or something.”
“I shoved him off on Seamus,” she said without remorse. “I’ve got lots of shopping to do and just between me and you, I didn’t fancy spending my day in town listening to Dean blather on about West Ham and Muggle football. And don’t even get me started on Madame Puddifoot’s.”
“Not a fan then? Of Madame Puddifoot’s I mean, not of Dean.” Harry sputtered. “I mean you’re not a fan of Madame Puddifoot’s. I know you must be a fan of Dean’s since you’re dating him.”
“Dean’s all right,” Ginny said flatly. “And let’s just say one visit back in fourth year with Michael was enough of Madame Puddifoot’s to last me a lifetime.”
Harry’s chest monster definitely perked up at the obvious lack of enthusiasm or commitment in Ginny’s tone when she spoke of Dean. Maybe there was hope after all. Not that Harry was the type to go sniffing after his mate’s girl and there was still the matter of Ron.
The store clerk handed Harry a bag with Ron’s wrapped gift enclosed. He turned to Ginny desperately trying to think of a way to extend their time together without stepping out of bounds or making a prat of himself.
“So you never answered when I asked why you were all alone today?” Ginny asked interrupting his moment of panic.
“Well, the alternative was Ron and Lavender, and I didn’t really fancy…”
“Didn’t fancy spending the day with Won-Won and Lavender thrashing about like eels in a dark alley somewhere?” She interrupted.
“Not really, no.” He shivered.
“Can’t say as I blame you. What they get up to in public is disturbing enough. I shudder to think what might happen if they had a bit of privacy away from the school.” Ginny shook herself as to physically remove the thought from her mind. “So that explains why you’re Ron-less, Where’s Hermione?”
“Library.” Harry said. “Said she had too much revising to do. She’s been a little off lately.”
Ginny looked down at her shoes. “I’m afraid that’s my fault.”
“Did you and Hermione have a fight?”
“No. It’s that blasted row I had with Ron. The night you and Ron, well, Dean…” Her cheeks colored.
“Oh, that night.” Harry nodded remembering all too well the night he and Ron had discovered Ginny and Dean plastered together in a hidden corridor.
“Yeah, that night.” She smiled ruefully. “I had to go and open my mouth about Hermione snogging Krum and my insecure git of a brother has been treating her like shite ever since.”
Harry only nodded. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he suspected she was right.
“It’s okay Harry. I know I stuck my foot in it. If I’d known that my moment of temper would be responsible for the Won-Won and Lav-Lav spectacle we’ve all been subjected to, I would have kept my trap shut.”
“It’s really more Ron’s fault than yours. I mean, if he would just tell Hermione how he feels about her instead of acting like a jealous prat over something that happened before he even noticed she was a girl…”
“Caught on, have you?”
“Even I’m not that thick!” Harry said.
“Really?” Ginny raised an eyebrow and Harry wondered why her tone seemed to be laced with a hint of sarcasm.
There was an awkward moment when they reached the door. Harry supposed it was time for them to go their separate ways. It’s not like they had come to Hogsmeade together on a date or anything.
“So, what are your plans for the rest of the day?” Ginny asked.
“I need to finish up my Christmas shopping and then I thought I’d head over to the Three Broomsticks for some lunch.”
“Do you, er, want to go together?” Harry held his breath, but didn’t have to wait long for her answer.
“Why not? But they’ll be no more going in on gifts unless it’s a fifty-fifty split. Understood?” Ginny stuck out her hand, Harry took it and they shook on it.
Harry reached for the door and they were both blown back by the gust of cold wind that pushed it open faster than he anticipated. The snow had really picked up whilst they had been shopping.
They stepped outside and Ginny held her arms out and spun around in a circle. “I love the first real snow of the season!”
“Yeah, it’s really started to come down.” Harry tried not to stare, but he was almost overwhelmed with the picture Ginny made, her bright red mane and colorful handmade scarf in stark contrast to the pristine white snow that was now coming down in droves, landing on her head and shoulders.
“Where to next?" he asked.
“I still need something for Hermione.” Ginny answered.
“Tomes and Scrolls,” they both said together and then laughed. Ginny latched her arm lightly through his and they headed towards the bookstore. Harry told himself that Ginny holding onto him was nothing more than sisterly affection, but he had a hard time convincing the monster of that especially after it started doing cartwheels in his chest.
They both found suitable gifts for Hermione at the bookstore and spent some time at Gladrags shopping for Mrs. Weasley. They went in together on what Ginny assured Harry was a lovely pin her mum could wear to dress up her everyday robes.
As they left Gladrags they quickly discovered that the beautiful winter snow had shifted into an all out blizzard.
“I think we should skip Honeyduke’s and go straight to the Three Broomsticks in case this gets any worse, don’t you?” Harry had to practically shout to be heard over the howling wind. He could barely see Ginny nod her agreement.
“I’m going to light my wand. I can hardly see an arm's length in front of me,” Ginny shouted as she took out her wand and performed the Lumos charm. They huddled together and slowly started the trek toward The Three Broomsticks, three long blocks away.
Progress was painstakingly slow and after a few minutes Harry was disoriented and decided a change in plan was in order. “On second thought, I think we should probably just take shelter in that building up there.” He pointed to where a warm square of light glowed through a nearby window. “I’m not even sure what it is, but hopefully it will be warm and we can wait out the weather.”
With some effort, Harry led Ginny to the nearest building. They made their way to the door, burst in and brought a gust of cold wind and snow with them. Harry heard a bell jingle over his head as they entered the building and looked up to see about a dozen couples seated at tables for two staring at he and Ginny like they were Death Eaters. Apparently the patrons of Madame Puddifoot’s did not appreciate the disruption.
His immediate impression was that Christmas had exploded inside the small teashop. There was red and green garland and confetti everywhere and the tiny fairies he remembered from his last visit were dressed like Father Christmas. Some were flying over the tables with sprigs of mistletoe.
Harry and Ginny took one look at each other and both exploded into hysterical laughter. Their display went on for at least a minute and garnered severe looks from the canoodling couples, but Harry couldn’t bring himself to be too fussed about their reaction.
Madame Puddifoot gave them a disapproving look as she bustled over to meet them at the door. "Can I help you?" she asked. Harry raised an eyebrow in question to Ginny and she smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
“Table for two, please.” Harry held up two fingers.
If someone had told Harry that morning that he would spend the better part of the day in Madame Puddifoot’s having the time of his life, he would have thought they were barmy. He and Ginny spent hours sipping tea and nibbling on biscuits. They talked about everything and nothing at all and Harry laughed until his sides hurt. He was especially entertained by Ginny’s account of the assistance she gave Lavender in picking out a special Christmas present for Ron. He couldn’t wait to see Ron’s reaction to her gift if it was nearly as tacky as Ginny described it.
Harry imagined that this was sort of what a real date was supposed to be like, not that it was a date or anything. He didn’t have much to compare it with, but this had been loads better than his awkward outing with Cho where they didn’t have anything to talk about and she was moodier than a Hungarian Horntail in heat. Maybe a good date had more to do with the company than the location.
He was disappointed when late that afternoon Hagrid came to collect the students and lead them back to the castle. It had been a wonderful day and Harry had learned something important. There was no getting around it or kidding himself any longer. He fancied Ginny Weasley. A lot. There was still the sticky little problem of Dean, not to mention Ron, to contend with, so he would wait. If the day had meant even half as much to Ginny as it had meant to him, she wouldn’t leave him waiting for too long. The wistful smile she gave him when they finally parted after had they reached the Gryffindor common room made him think that she might not leave him waiting long at all.
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