SIYE Time:21:44 on 17th September 2021

Second Chances and First Occasions
By Rogan

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Category: First Time for Everything Challenge (2019-2), First Time For Everything Challenge (2019-2)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Fluff, General, Romance
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 30
Summary: ***Honourable Mention in the First Time for Everything Challenge*** After Harry survives his second Killing Curse, he makes a decision that changes things quite drastically. Getting a second chance at some of the events in his life, Harry resolves to do a few things right he did wrong on his first attempt.
Hitcount: Story Total: 9448; Chapter Total: 1571


To Harry’s surprise, the plans they made did not include rushing down to the fake Professor Moody’s office, stunning him and freeing his real counterpart, then Apparating to the Riddle house with fifty Aurors and blasting anyone inside to smithereens. He had to admit that Dumbledore’s more subtle strategies, combined with his own knowledge of the future he had lived, offered a more complete solution to the problem facing the Wizarding world.

The subtleties of the strategy they had decided upon required that Harry would continue in his role of Triwizard Champion. This part was not only necessary but, Harry himself thought, quite pleasant as it afforded him the opportunity to fix one thing he should have done right in his first try at this year. That thing was, unfortunately, also a source of some major concern for Harry as it was a deviation from the original time line and he could not predict what the fallout of that change might be. In discussing it with the Headmaster, he had come to the conclusion that one such minor change could not be expected to have major implications for the events to come. Harry had to dance with someone at the Yule Ball, and since the role his original partner had played was extremely minor, they had written off this change as inconsequential. At the end of their midnight meeting, Harry had decided to run one errand before finally turning in for the night. He also put a note on Ron’s bedside table before turning in.

So it was that a few days later, two owls each dropped a large, flat rectangular package on the Gryffindor table during breakfast. One landed in front of Ron, the other in front of Ginny. The boxes were relatively light, but they made quite an impact as due to their size they knocked over pumpkin juice goblets and sent sprays of the fruity beverage in all directions. As one might expect though, this was a common occurrence during breakfast, and all it meant for the students around both Weasleys was a laugh and a bit of practice with siphoning charms.

The two redheads bent forward to be able to exchange glances across Harry and Hermione, who were sitting between them. Ron had read Harry’s message and had made a bit of a fuss about it, waking up a bleary-eyed Harry to loudly question him about it in the dormitory. He seemed affronted by the advice, but after Harry shared a bit more information about the original Yule Ball with him - having lavishly applied Muffliato and other silencing charms before speaking - Ron had relented and, his ears already turning red, left the dormitory. Harry hadn’t asked him about it since, deeming it his friend’s own responsibility what he did with the advice he’d been given, but he hoped Ron had been quick enough off the mark this time around.

“What’s this then,” Ron asked his sister, who was sitting on Harry’s left. She just made a puzzled face at him.

“Looks like mine’s from Madam Malkin’s,” she replied, holding up the package and showing him the wrapping paper. It bore a sticker with the store’s name and logo which made it clearly recognizable. Ron’s eyes went back to his own package, then back to his sister.

“Well I can see that,” he grumbled, “but I didn’t order anything. Did you?”

“It’s probably mum,” Ginny replied, shaking her head. Then she found the little card dangling from it. “Hey, look, it’s got a card.”

Hermione, meanwhile, was attempting to bore a hole in the right side of Harry’s head with the intensity of her speculative stare. He turned his head just a bit to help her meet his gaze. She lifted one eyebrow, and he quirked up one side of his mouth in answer. Then, with a wink, he turned to the girl on his left.

“So does mine,” said Ron, and he yanked it towards himself hard enough to create a tear in the wrapping paper. “It just says ‘To Mr. Ronald Weasley, with compliments’, with no signature.” He started tearing off the paper, exposing the white box beneath. It was a very nice box, made of a sort of stiff parchment, decorated and held closed with a red ribbon.”

Ginny, in the meanwhile, had read her card silently and now met Harry’s eyes. Her eyebrows had gone up again, making her face assume that open, puzzled expression he remembered her using less and less as she got older. Her eyes flicked from his to the box and back. He just winked and nodded, at which point she could also no longer contain her curiosity and started tearing off the paper. Her box was red, and much more lavishly decorated than Ron’s, boasting images of flowers, musical notes and the outlines of flowing robes as wizards danced among them. It was an elegant, expensive looking box, and it was held shut with a green ribbon, the bow looking so much like a flower that it must have been transfigured somehow.

“Wow,” Harry heard Ron mutter on his right, but he kept his eyes on Ginny. She, in turn, was staring at the box in wonder.

“Ooh,” said Lavender Brown, apparently determined to intrude, “that’s a tailored dress robe. They don’t send out boxes like that for confection robes. What did the card say?”

“That’s none of your business,” mumbled Ginny, still staring at the box as if deciding whether to open it at all.

Her eyes, again, connected with his.

“Harry,” she said, unnecessarily, he though, as she already had his attention, “can we talk, in private?”

Thinking he might know what she wanted to discuss, he just lifted his shoulders, gave her his best lopsided grin and got up. She silently picked up the box and stood up, following her towards the exit. Behind him, Ron seemed to wake up a bit.

“Oi,” he exclaimed, “where are you lot off to?”

“Shut up and leave them alone, Ron,” Hermione said, not unkindly, “and show me those robes. I need to make sure we’ll match.”

In the back of his mind, Harry reflected on how amazingly good a friend Hermione was, and how perceptive she was about things that the rest of them - at that age, at least - had been completely clueless about. The rest of his mind was gearing up for a confrontation with Ginny. He had a feeling she was going to protest being given something this expensive.

Wordlessly, Ginny lead him all the way back up to Gryffindor tower and, on seeing the empty common room, to a pair of comfortable armchairs. There, she sat down. He did the same, and observed Ginny closing her eyes and taking a deep breath before speaking. What came out was not what he expected.

“Sorry I dragged you all the way up here,” she said, her eyes still closed, “but I wanted to open this in private.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him.

“I’m not used to getting expensive presents, Harry,” she continued, “and, well, having everyone stare at me while I open this just frankly made me nervous.”

Harry took a moment to gather his thoughts before replying. Her gaze, fixed as it was on his eyes, didn’t help. He decided to be honest with her.

“I thought you might be angry at me,” he confessed. “Ron’s always really uptight about… Well, you know.”

“Us being poor,” Ginny finished for him. Her face revealed little of what she thought about this.

“You being poor,” Harry confirmed. “But you’re not, you know.”

Ginny’s raised eyebrows spoke volumes.

“You’ve got something I would trade in my vault for without a second thought,” he said. When she just held his gaze for a while, he explained. “Your family. You have parents who love you and do everything they can to help you. You have brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles…”

He had expected her to laugh and dismiss them, but to his shock, he saw Ginny’s eyes turn dark with what might be the beginnings of tears.

“You really grew up alone, didn’t you,” she mumbled, keeping his gaze. When he shrugged, trying to dismiss her interpretation of his early life, she continued. “I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be your friend, you know.”

Her cheeks were definitely turning a bit pink under her freckles, Harry saw. Wondering where she was going with this, he let her talk.

“And then I met you in person,” she continued, “and I heard Ron’s stories about you, and about what the Muggles you live with were like, and I wanted to be your friend even more. But I couldn’t talk to you. I didn’t think you even noticed me. And now suddenly you’ve asked me to the Yule Ball, and that was already a shock. And now this…”

She gestured at the still unopened box on her lap. Then she drew in a breath and, as if trying to make sure she couldn’t chicken out of what she wanted to say, went on in a sudden rush of words.

“It’s like you suddenly changed a few days ago,” she blurted, “from brooding and preoccupied and only confiding in Ron and Hermione to happy and energized and open, and it’s like something weird happened to you that caused you to forget your worries, and now I’m wondering if you’re under some kind of spell or potion or something, or even that all of this is some kind of elaborate prank the twins are setting up, and I’ve never been given an expensive gift like this before and I’m wondering…”

She slowed down here, as if forcing herself to calm down, and took a deep breath before continuing.

“I’m wondering what it all means.”

Harry closed his mouth, realizing that it had fallen open during her sudden flood of words, and thought furiously for a moment. Well, he guessed, it couldn’t be helped. She had to find out some time. It was time for another Muffliato charm.

“Well, to be truthful,” he answered, “something did happen. But it’s not anything like what you think, and I’m not under the Imperius curse if that’s what you’re wondering.”

And so he found himself, haltingly and carefully considering every word, telling her about the future. He left out as many details as he could, mentioning the war against Voldemort only as “the final battle that didn’t go so well”, and admitted to her that he had returned from the future to try and get things right this time.

After several seconds of silence, Ginny closed her mouth in an echo of his own, earlier moment of astonishment.

“You’re having me on,” she mumbled, “aren’t you?”

Harry, regrettably but firmly, shook his head.

“Honest truth, I swear,” he admitted.

“So, you’ve really just come back in time to fight You-Know-Who,” she said, sounding more skeptical than ever, “and the first thing you do is ask me to the Yule Ball? How does that fit into anything?”

“Just timing, I guess,” said Harry, grinning, “but yeah, I wanted to ask you. And of course I’ve been plotting with Professor Dumbledore since then to take down Voldemort. Don’t tell anyone though, the plan’s still a tightly kept secret.”

Ginny just shook her head and dropped her eyes to the box in her lap. After a moment, she began fiddling with the ribbon.

“You know,” she said, suddenly thoughtful, “I think this might just be the first time you’ve ever bought me a present.”

“Not to mention having an actual conversation with you,” he added, earning a smile.
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