A/N: This was an idea that just had to be written. The story of Ginny and Michael's relationship told from both of their POVs, in about 8 shorter parts (this will be the longest chapter). I'm writing it because I had to after not being able to include enough of them in my other story Hogwarts According To Padma Patil. But it can definitely be read on its own, as missing moments from the books. Hope you'll enjoy!
1. The Beginning of a Fall
Trying to suppress a flinch as Neville once again stepped on her toes, Ginny forced a smile. He gave her an embarrassed grin in return, then turned back to staring at his feet, scrunching up his face in concentration, obviously trying hard to avoid it happening again. This gave Ginny the opportunity to look around (which she really shouldn't wish for, she reminded herself sternly, but let her eyes stray nonetheless).
Her disobeying eyes found their object in the very same place as the last time she checked, merely five minutes ago. Harry was sitting down, not dancing, next to her even more sulky-looking brother. Ginny's heart gave a small groan as she remembered the opportunity she could have had, had she not already agreed to go as Neville's date. She could have gone with Harry. Harry, who hadn't had a date. Harry, who would have been her date. (Surely, she could've charmed him into dancing with her, couldn't she?)
Harry, who had been turned down by the person he had actually wanted to take, Ginny reminded herself with a sinking feeling as she followed Harry's mesmerized gaze to a certain Ravenclaw Seeker.
Okay. So maybe having him staring at another girl like that the entire evening wouldn't have been her ideal date, after all.
Perhaps Hermione had had a point, really, that it was time for her to start moving on, or something like that. If there even existed anything like moving on from someone who had never showed the remotest interest in you… It really was kind of pathetic, wasn't it? She was Ginny Weasley. She wasn't some silly girl who spent the whole of her school years pining for a boy who only saw her as his friend's bloody little sister. It wasn't her, and it wasn't right.
Right then, Neville stepped on her toes harder than before and a gasp was out of her mouth before she'd had time to stop herself, to spare his feelings.
He cringed, blushing even worse. "Godric! I'm really sorry, Ginny. You wanna – take a break?"
"Yeah. That'd be nice. I am getting kind of thirsty," she lied, plastering on a smile for him. Neville was nice, he was, but if she was about to start moving on, he wasn't the one to do it with.
"I'll go get us some drinks then," he offered, and she nodded gratefully as she got the chance to sit down. The second he had turned around, she started rubbing her sore toes with a grimace.
"Longbottom giving you a hard time, is he?" A boy with black hair falling into his eyes was smirking at her in amusement. Ginny tried to place him, and thought she recalled seeing him at the Ravenclaw table.
"S'not so bad," she defended Neville to the stranger.
"Then why are you rubbing your foot, and why did I see you flinching all the time you were dancing?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "Even though you did make a valiant effort to hide it."
"And you are?" She was getting annoyed, and didn't pretend otherwise.
"Michael Corner," he introduced himself, formally offering his hand. She hesitated, before shaking it briefly, her expression highly sceptical. "I'm in Neville's year. Ravenclaw, though. So, a lot smarter than you naïve heroic lot!"
"You're calling me stupid? Is that really your way of flirting with a girl?" The words had escaped her lips before she had had any time to reflect on their meaning. He hadn't even given her any indication of flirting, and if he had, she certainly had not meant to encourage further activity in that area.
To her surprise, Michael's neck reddened slightly, but he recovered quickly. "Guess I need some practicing, don't I?" he admitted, giving a short, slightly awkward laugh and dragging his hand through his hair. Black hair. Kind of messy.
Remind you of someone?
No. No, no, no. He is not Harry. He is not a replacement-Harry. I am not attracted to him. I don't even know this guy, for Merlin's sake! Just because he looks cute when he's kind of blushing doesn't mean – he was being a jerk, just a few seconds ago, wasn't he?
"You do," she concluded stiffly.
"Ouch," he grinned, mocking being highly wounded. "Don't spare my precious feelings or anything. Just let it all out."
"I'm a straightforward girl, Mikey," she shrugged, forcing back the grin that was tugging at her lips.
"Mikey? Seriously? First you insult my manhood, and then you call me Mikey? Your aim for tonight is to completely emasculate me, is it?"
This time, her lips didn't obey her protests, and he lighted up as he saw her small smile, then proceeded to do a small victory dance in celebration.
When she raised her eyebrows, though still grinning, he said, "What? I got the Ice Queen to smile for me. Quite impressive for someone completely untalented in the field of flirting, isn't it?"
She shrugged again. "I might've misjudged you."
What the hell is wrong with me? Why does it suddenly sound like I'm the one flirting with him? I have a bloody date!
Speaking of dates. "You ditch your date or were you not talented enough in the flirting field to get one in the first place?" she questioned him, her tone back to harshness, but the grin still lingering as she spoke.
Michael blushed again. "Both, actually," he admitted, chuckling at her surprised expression. "Too much of a coward to ask anyone, so I gave into my cousin pestering me to take her. She's third year, so she wouldn't've been able to go – and well, I was a coward. Then when she'd got in, she only really wanted to hang out with her friends. So, technically, I haven't ditched her. I've been ditched. By my cousin."
She couldn't suppress a giggle at the way he cringed at every repetition of his situation.
"You laugh at my misery?" He feigned a look of deepest hurt. "I am shocked. Ginny Weasley, I've heard you were supposed to be nice."
"Oh, you know. False rumours," she shrugged, then paused to think. "Wait a moment, from who'd you hear that?"
"I have my sources," he said mysteriously, then gave a chuckle. "I dunno, really. I guess I just got that impression. I mean, you hang out with Lovegood, don't you? That requires some patience."
"She's nice," Ginny said sharply, her eyes suddenly shooting daggers.
Michael raised his arms in defence. "Never said she wasn't. I just – well, I got the impression that you're nice, s'all," he finished, wisely avoiding any further commenting on Luna and her oddities.
She nodded slowly, accepting his answer.
"Blimey. People usually don't get that offended from being called nice, do they?"
"Guess I'm not you're average girl then, am I, Mikey?" she suggested, slapping him playfully in the chest.
"Guess not," he agreed, chuckling appreciatively, his eyes lingering one second too long at the place where her hand had touched him.
"Um, Ginny?" Shit, shit, shit! It was Neville's voice, hesitant, behind her. "Here's your drink. I – I was just gonna tell you – I've found Dean, and his date's sort of run off with her friends, so I was gonna keep him company. So you can, um, y'know – well, I'll be over there, if you – if you need me."
"Th-thanks, Neville," she said, giving an apologetic grin as he took off. Crap! He did so not deserve that from me! "Shit!" she exclaimed out loud as soon as Neville was out of earshot.
"What?" Michael questioned, looking honestly taken aback by her swearing.
She gave him an incredulous stare. "I messed up. I let him catch me here with you, making him think I'd rather be here, talking with you, than with him, making him come up with some lame-ass excuse so I wouldn't feel guilty about ditching him when he so didn't deserve that after offering to take me when I wouldn't even have been able to go if it hadn't been for him!" Well, that was kind of true. True at the moment when he'd asked her... "So, yeah, I think I owed him better than that," she finished off, glaring at Michael for his idiocy (or, because it had been his fault she had done this – he had distracted her with his stupid hair and his grin and shit!).
"Wow." He let out a low whistle, then brightened. "You said you wanted to be here with me!" he pointed out, looking triumphant.
"I – I did not!" she protested, racking her brain furiously. I didn't say that – did I?
"Oh, you so did. And you know it too, that's why you're looking all flustered. You don't have to, y'know. It's okay. I tend to have that effect on girls. All people really." He flashed a white, smug grin.
She snorted. "Says the guy who takes his cousin to the Ball and gets ditched by her."
"Well, maybe not all girls. But I'll settle for you, Ginny Weasley. If you'd care to join me on the dance floor? I promise not to step on you," he added as she hesitated, holding out his hand expectantly, looking highly cute as he waited, his eyes so hopeful and -
"Fine," she found herself muttering and taking his offered hand wearily. "Just one dance, and then we'll see. Okay?"
"Fine by me," he chortled, leading her to the dance floor.