The fact that Harry Potter and Luna Lovegood were dating did not turn out to be the biggest news sweeping Hogwarts the next day. Both Jimmy and Ritchie were both shocked to hear that fellow Gryffindor and Quidditch team mate Katie Bell had been cursed on her way back from Homemade, and taken to St Mungo's Hospital. Though no one appeared to fully know what had happened, this left a lot of the younger students in particular quite frightened and it was instantly noticeable that security had tightened within the castle as well.
It definitely put a halt to the euphoria for Jimmy, after he had been on such a high since yesterday when he and Ritchie had managed to kindle a beginning of a friendship with Ginny Weasley during the several hours of conversation in the Three Broomsticks. He had caught himself being very selfish, wishing that he could bask in the glory of spending his entire Saturday talking freely and openly about Quidditch with the girl he had a crush on instead of being terribly worried for Katie.
'Maybe there's a little human decency left in you after all,' Ritchie had said after he confided this to him.
In the weeks following the incident with Katie, many of the younger students preferred to travel in packs from class to class, vying for the old saying of safety in numbers. But unfortunately this left them vulnerable to Peeves, who considered the opportunity too good to miss, and he was seen spending most of his days following behind these packs and throwing Dungbombs into the middle of them.
'Look at the ickle-first-years scram!' he shrieked in happiness, following the screams of the first-years up and down the corridors.
'I understand why they are still frightened,' Jimmy said casually to Ritchie after they witnessed Peeves do this to one petrified looking group of Ravenclaws. 'But they must forget where they are sometimes. Hogwarts is as safe as you can get, you're not going to get cursed inside these walls.'
'It almost happened,' Ritchie pointed out, 'she was on her way into Hogwarts, wasn't she?'
'Doesn't matter,' Jimmy said, 'it didn't happen inside these walls and it never will.'
'They don't seem so certain,' Ritchie pointed out, as yet another group of second-year students, this time all girls, passed by them in the other direction with Peeves tailing not far behind them, armed at the ready.
As they ascended to Gryffindor tower to fetch their broomsticks in anticipation of Quidditch practice, they did stumble across one young first-year girl who did not appear to be travelling with friends in a pack. She had stopped by the tapestry that depictured dancing Trolls, and appeared to be struggling to keep a grip on the brass scales that were almost as large as her.
Being the perfect gentleman they were, Jimmy and Ritchie went straight past without a second glance, and came face to face with the Fat Lady.
'Dilligrout,' Jimmy said before turning to Ritchie, 'I have to say, I'm quite nervous about tonight - Ginny sort of knows us now, I don't think I could get away with staring at her as much.'
'So don't stare then,' Ritchie suggested, climbing through the portrait first.
'Why would I not?' Jimmy debated.
And the debate continued, all the way up to their dormitory, and then all the way back down through the castle and the front lawns. The winds from the fierce storm they had had two weeks ago still lingered, so it was still a little blustery for practice, but the sun was out, much of the snow that littered the grounds had gone and the temperature was just right for the early evening.
It was the first practice session since Katie had been cursed, Harry had explained to the group briefly in the days after that he was not yet prepared to count her out of their next match just yet, and so they would be practicing as usual but with one Chaser short. But as the first game of the season against Slytherin was fast approaching, their predicament was, would the team be affected by having one short during practice?
Quite a while after Jimmy and Ritchie had changed into their Quidditch robes, Ginny arrived, a wry smile spread across her face when she saw them. Just like it had in Hogsmeade, Jimmy's stomach gave an almighty lurch as if he'd missed a step on a flight of stairs, and could scarcely manage a half-smile back as Ginny moved to her locker and prepared to change.
'Aren't you both very keen?' she said in amusement, beginning to take off her school robes. 'I haven't really seen you two much since Hogsmeade, how have you been?'
Ritchie glanced sideways at his friend, Jimmy seemed incapable of responding, his hands were on his knees and his knuckles were very white - Ginny was standing there so casually, in just her underwear.
'We're good,' Ritchie said finally, deciding to talk for both of them, he was careful to keep eye contact however briefly, 'we've been busy with homework, I'm sure you understand, you're taking your OWLs.'
'It's a nightmare,' Ginny assured him, nodding and turning away from them to fetch her Quidditch robes from her locker.
Jimmy took this ample opportunity to lean sideways toward Ritchie.
'Dude, plain white underwear,' he said ecstatically whilst Ritchie shook his head at him, 'nice!'
Ginny turned back around just in time to miss Jimmy lean back into position; both boys pretended to be mindlessly tapping their clubs on the backs of their legs and looking pointedly at the floor.
'Maybe we could study together one night,' she suggested, making them both look up at her, 'help each other out if we can?'
Jimmy and Ritchie both nodded their agreement, but were rather unsure what to say next. It deemed appropriate however that the rest of the team suddenly arrived, and before they knew it, they were flying out against the cool winds.
'Will you get these off the table please? You're going to get chocolate all over my essay!'
It was the week before the first Quidditch match of the season, Jimmy and Ritchie sat in their little corner in the Gryffindor common room, huddled together, attempting a last ditch effort to complete their essays on the Goblin Rebellion for History of Magic. Ritchie had just emptied the last of his unopened Chocolate Frogs onto the small table they shared, which two long parchments, three large books and an assortment of smaller and less-detailed books already occupied.
It might have been early in the evening, but as their essay's were due in tomorrow, and they had barely even started, a long night and short tempers ensured.
'Where else am I going to put them, Jimmy?' he asked matter-of-factly, 'on the floor?'
'How about back in your bag?' Jimmy suggested strangely, as if he could barely believe Ritchie did not think of this as the obvious solution. 'If we were doing an essay on public figures featured on Chocolate Frog cards then yes, obviously it would be appropriate, but not for Goblins-'
'These are all I have left,' Ritchie gestured to the two dozen or so now scattered across their table, 'I want to get through them whilst we work - you're very welcome to have one if you like.'
Jimmy gave them a such a reproachful look, it was as if they had just insulted his mother.
'If I eat one more of those things, I'll die of poisoning,' Jimmy hissed through gritted teeth.
About an hour went by without much more of an argument, they did talk however as they attempted to band together a single essay between them, so that one of them could add synonym here and there, so that they did not look too identical. But just when they had began to make even the slightest of in-roads, a delightful smell filled their nostrils, forcing them to look up and find the source of it.
'Oh my,' came a voice from somewhere behind them, 'which one of you has the chocolate addiction then?'
Ginny suddenly came into view, she had her backpack over her shoulder and was dragging a chair with her - a sweet smile appeared on her face as she sat down opposite and pulled her bag off her back and on the floor in front of her.
'Hi,' she said sweetly, pulling a book out of her bag and placing it on her knees.
'Ginny,' Jimmy breathed, his mind boggled very briefly, having just been thinking about Goblins.
'Thought we could be study buddies!' she said happily, before staring down at the limited space available on the table. 'Seriously though, what's with all the chocolate?'
'That'd be me,' Ritchie said sourly, making Ginny look at him, 'though it's not the chocolate I'm addicted too, or else I'd be as round as I am tall. I'm after the cards you see? I only need one more to complete the collection.'
Ginny raised an eyebrow. 'Impressive,' she said and Jimmy snorted. 'Which one do you need?'
'Cornelius Agrippa,' Ritchie said even more sourly, 'German bastard's been mocking me for two years now.'
'Ah yes, him,' Ginny nodded slowly, unfolding her book, 'yes, my dear brother needs him too. He needs quite a few of them though, if I remember correctly, and he'd be disappointed in me if I didn't try one of these-'
Without waiting for approval, she took a Chocolate Frog from the pile not yet opened, and opened it.
'Merlin,' Ginny sighed after she had bitten into the chocolate.
'What's wrong?' Jimmy asked suddenly, alarmed.
'That's who I got,' Ginny managed to say after swallowing the chocolate, 'see?'
She held up the card which, although clearly had "Merlin" written across the bottom, the portrait was empty.
'He's gone,' Ritchie said with amusement, turning back to his homework.
'Oh,' Ginny turned it back over to look at it, before placing it back on the table.
'You can keep it if you want,' Ritchie said to her without looking up, 'I have about a thousand of everyone already, no need for doubles.'
'So what subject are you boys working on?' Ginny asked, deciding to pick up one of their books to give room for herself.
'History of Magic,' Jimmy answered, because Ritchie was bent over and writing furiously, 'we've got an essay due tomorrow on the Goblin Rebellion, we don't fully understand it really-'
'Were getting there though,' Ritchie said positively, his head still bowed over his parchment.
'Which rebellion in particular?' Ginny asked.
Both Jimmy and Ritchie stopped; and then if in slow motion, fear set in and they looked up at her with the most puzzled of looks.
'There's more than one?' the both said in unison, forcing Ginny to stifle a giggle.
'Yes,' she said seriously, 'there were a series of them, didn't you know?'
Ritchie suddenly threw his quill down in anger, making Ginny jump a little - Jimmy merely looked down at his parchment, which had hardly been written anyway, and sighed.
'Maybe you two do need my help,' Ginny said, biting her lip and forcing herself not to laugh too hard.
'You know, it's a good thing we're playing our first game this week,' Ritchie said loudly, so that even a few other Gryffindor's nearby heard and looked around.
'I'm just going to walk out without padding on and without my bat on Saturday and pray the Bludger is strong enough to crack this thick skull of mine.'