Chapter Three - Looks Can Be DeceivingMature

The first Hogsmeade visit was in the middle of October, on a stormy Saturday and the heavens appeared to be in an unforgiving mood - when Jimmy and Ritchie walked into the Great Hall for breakfast in the morning, the ceiling (which was enchanted to look like the sky outside) was very dark and the Hall was lit mostly by the candles that lined the walls. When they got out of the castle, it was even darker and it was a very unpleasant journey down the slopes of Hogwarts towards the village below.

Jimmy and Ritchie huddled as close to one another as possible, walking sideways more than forwards through the rapidly growing mounds of sleet, the first snow fall of the year and possibly the most aggressive. But the weather wasn't to blame completely for their foul moods, Hogsmeade village was a shadow of its former self unfortunately, more shops than not had been bordered up and closed due to the growing danger of the outside world.

Even the very popular Zonko's Joke Shop - which both Jimmy and Ritchie had enjoyed immensely last year - and it meant that they were due for a far less enjoyable day than they had planned indeed.

Ritchie had hoped there would be enough things to do and places to go during their trip in order for Jimmy to forget Ginny Weasley. Unbeknown to his best mate, he secretly prayed that if she was at Hogsmeade, that she would be on a date with Harry Potter, and that they would spend all their time at Madam Puddifoot's - the small teashop that was usually occupied by couples - and not bother to show up in the undoubtedly crowded pub the Three Broomsticks.

They made their way towards Honeydukes first, thankfully it was one of the shops not boarded up - but unfortunately due to the limited amount of places you could go, it meant the famous lolly shop was so overflowing with students that it looked impossible to move your elbows, let alone browse and purchase items.

They decided then to make a small detour into the a shop opposite instead - called Gladrag's Wizardwear, which had only a handful of students purchasing new robes to replace old or torn ones - to pass the time.

'I could always do with some new socks,' Jimmy said with a shrug, picking at some pairs that were quite a horrid colour indeed.

They literally walked around in circles within the shop, peering out the window every second lap, waiting for the crowd within Honeydukes to thin. Ritchie actually bought a new pair of socks that looked fairly normal, and Jimmy succumbed to buying a beanie that didn't fit while they waited - eventually becoming concerned that the products they wanted could be sold out before they got there, the two of them trudged back over to Honeydukes and squeezed their way in.

They slowly moved through the crowded room, somehow Ritchie finally came face-to-face with the wall of candy at the other side. He grabbed a basket and began filling it with Chocolate Frogs, before Jimmy reappeared at his shoulder.

'Hey, you remember that cute blonde girl I pointed out to you at breakfast this morning? She totally just had her entire hand on my left butt cheek,' Jimmy hissed in Ritchie's ear, 'does she think I wouldn't notice or what?'

'You really have a problem,' Ritchie hissed, now counting his money to make sure he had enough for the Chocolate Frog's.

'Look who's talking,' Jimmy retorted, indicating the basket which was overflowing, 'I keep telling you, you're never going to find someone who has that Cornelius Agrippa card, let alone find one in a pack-'

'It could happen,' Ritchie was hopeful, and while he knew spending most of his money on Chocolate Frogs was quite a waste, he still went through with it anyway.

This meant that he watched on jealously as Jimmy browsed an assortment of lollies and chocolate, choosing at will what he found particularly inviting, and even having the tenacity to ask Ritchie for help in choosing either chocolate flavoured or strawberry flavoured  Drooble's Blowing Gum. Eventually having tortured Ritchie enough, Jimmy made his purchases and lead the way out of the shop.

'To the Three Broomsticks then?' Jimmy practically yelled through the white wind whilst he pointed in the general direction of where he thought the pub was.

Ritchie agreed, though visibility was so poor, they weren't exactly sure the way they were going was the right way - forward movement was still slow and rather all over the place, and they took to following other students with their heads bowed against the wind, simply praying that they were headed in the same direction as them. When they eventually managed to find the correct door to their destination, they scrambled through it, bending over on the threshold, absolutely exhausted.

The Three Broomsticks was warm, and smelled strongly of Butterbeer - it took both Jimmy and Ritchie to a few moments to regain their senses, the room was spinning for them, and it didn't help that they had to do a couple of laps of the crowded pub until they found a spare table at the back somewhere.

'My shout then?' Jimmy said in amusement, knowing well and good that he'd just watch Ritchie (who sat down miserably) spend all of his Galleons on Chocolate.

He returned shortly with two large mugs of Butterbeer and he handed one to his friend. They both took a sip in earnest at the same time, and instantly they could feel the warmth returning to their bodies - slowly everything in the room made sense, they began to feel like themselves again, as if their souls had been sucked out centuries ago and finally put back in again.

'Guess who I saw up the front, ordering two drinks?' Jimmy asked his friend curiously after a pause of letting this feeling settle in.

'Oh no-' Ritchie said under his breath, feeling his stomach drop.

He had been afraid of this - encountering her could be the trigger for him to start talking about her again, for him to spend the next month, day in and day out until Christmas listing nothing but the measurements of her bust, waist and hips.

'It was Harry,' Jimmy said, looking puzzled at Ritchie's reaction, 'Harry Potter - and he wasn't sitting with his two friends, he was sitting with-'

Here it comes, Ritchie thought miserably.

'-Loony-Lovegood!' Jimmy let out a evil cry of laughter which attracted the attention of some scared looking Hufflepuff's nearby.

'Loony- really?' Ritchie was suddenly very intrigued.

'No doubt about it,' Jimmy said with a nod of his head, 'she ordered a Gillywater and everything.'

'Harry Potter and Loony-Lovegood,' Ritchie repeated, barely able to believe what he was saying, 'but that means-'

'Peeves will have a field day with that one,' Jimmy pointed out, making Ritchie roar with laughter.

Now in much better spirits, the both forgot about Harry and Luna and even Ginny and went on to talk about Quidditch, as the two young Wizards normally did in each other's company. One thing was for sure, as best mates they knew each other well, if conversation ever went pear-shaped, they could always fall back onto Quidditch, whether it be of Hogwarts standard or International standard.

Over the next half-hour or so, they had each consumed one and a half mugs of Butterbeer, whilst Ritchie had absent-mindedly been opening Chocolate Frog cards, searching for the very one that continued to eluded him. Their laughter carried throughout the pub, only Professor Slughorn a couple of tables over out bellowed them - he appeared to have found a drinking partner in the form of Rubeus Hagrid and they both looked rather drunk, as it wasn't just Butterbeer they were drinking.

Jimmy was about to suggest that he go and buy them another Butterbeer each, when a distraction in the form of Ginny Weasley appeared, curiously attracted to their laughter which had grown louder and louder as they discussed possible ways for the Chudley Cannons to finish ninth again this season.

'Hello boys,' she said, appearing from nowhere at Jimmy's shoulder and forcing him to stop mid-laugh and do a double-take.

A sudden swooshing sensation filled in his stomach, as though he missed a step going downstairs.

'Hi,' was all Jimmy managed to squeak out of the side of his mouth.

'What's so funny over here then?' she demanded to know with a wry smile, looking between them, the several empty Butterbeer mugs on the table and the pile of opened and unopened Chocolate Frog cards scattered around it.

'Hi Ginny,' Ritchie said finally, giving Jimmy a stern look, 'we're just talking Quidditch.'

'Oh,' she seemed disheartened, as if hopeful that it would be something much more mouth watering, 'mind if I join the conversation with you guys?'

'But, to what do we owe such a pleasure?' Jimmy asked, finally speaking properly.

'No particular reason,' Ginny said calmly, sitting down in the spare seat, 'does a girl need a reason to sit and relax with a couple of her team mates?'

'Absolutely not,' Jimmy announced to the world, holding a finger up as if to make a statement, before nervously draining the rest of his Butterbeer.

'Good.'

There was a pause, where the three sat in an awkward silence. Ritchie thought perhaps they should resume their discussions on Quidditch, as that usually cured it, but Jimmy - who was not very good with awkward silences - bounced to his feet before he could say anything and pointed to the two of them in turn.

'Butterbeer? Butterbeer?'

'Yes please,' Ginny nodded, Ritchie nodded also.

'Three Butterbeers,' Jimmy yelled over some heads, as if Madam Rosmerta was waiting for his order.

He turned away, and Ginny giggled a little - Ritchie thought at first it was a false laugh, and when she turned back to face him, her smile stayed, but she was definitely thinking about something else and Ritchie knew he had to say something.

'Are you really here because we're team mates?,' he asked, 'or - and you can be honest here - or are you actually just sitting with us because Harry's sitting over there with Luna, and we're the last resort?'

Ginny sighed.

'Am I that obvious?' she yielded, slouching in her seat and propping her elbow up on the table and putting her head in her hand.

'No, I guessed,' Ritchie lied with a shrug, though Ginny appreciated it all the same with a smile.

'I tried to sit with Ron and Hermione,' she tried to explain, 'but they bicker far too much, so I followed the laughter-'

'And what of Demelza Robbins?' Ritchie asked curiously, 'you two are friends aren't you-?'

'Busy also,' Ginny indicated over her shoulder with her thumb to where the young Chaser was mouth-to-mouth with some random boy Ritchie did not recognise.

'I see,' Ritchie nodded his head and paused, waiting for something to be said, before deciding he may as well ask her.

'I hope you don't mind me asking,' he said cautiously, 'but, from the past couple of weeks, the amount of times I saw you and Harry together in the corridors, well I naturally presumed that...'

Ritchie trailed away, unsure where to go from there, he didn't want to be the one to say it.

'He mostly talked about Luna, actually,' Ginny explained, 'asked me if I would mind if he asked her out, wasn't quite sure why he needed my permission, but I told him to go for it. And then I proceeded to give him every bit of knowledge I have on her to help.'

'Well,' Ritchie tried to find the positive, 'it shows that he values your opinion highly, even if he is thick enough not to notice someone like you right in front of him.'

'It's sweet of you to say that, but,' Ginny shrugged, 'I don't hate him for it, and I don't need to hear that he's thick or anything - I'm happy for them, really. Luna deserves to be lucky for once, I will just have to find someone else one day, amongst this lot...'

Just as she finished that sentence, Jimmy reappeared with immaculate timing, a giant smile etched across his face as he handed them both a Butterbeer.

'Took your sweet time,' Ritchie snapped, taking his drink and sipping it too.

'Hey, I did my best... I might have stopped to tell a joke alright-?' Jimmy snapped back.

Ritchie stared at him in disbelief.

'Not the one about the hag, the Healer and the Mimbulus mimbletonia?' Ritchie pleaded, but the look on Jimmy's face told it all.

'Madam Rosmerta appreciated it at least,' Jimmy said, bringing his drink to his lips, 'even if you don't.'

And as he took a drink, and Ritchie put his head in his hands, Ginny looked from one to the other and asked, 'wait, what's joke?'

'Trust me Ginny, you don't want to know,' Ritchie insisted, ignoring Jimmy, 'but on to more pressing matters, where do you believe the Chudley Cannons will finish this year? Ninth again do you think?'

The End

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