After they had mingled with the other guests for quite a while, Ginny had taken Jimmy out onto the terrace and decided that freezing to death was much better than hearing one more person talk in disbelief over her choice of a friend to accompany her to the party. They leaned on the railing and looked out over the dark snowy grounds of the school, where the light barely reached the boundaries of the Quidditch stadium, and it looked kind of cool where the white and black mixed.
Jimmy was reminiscent of last week, after the Quidditch match, where he and Ritchie had lay out in the middle of the pitch, talking about the game and wondering if Ginny was back with Dean. It was quite ironic that he now stood here beside her, after all of his doubt, all of his uncertainty that he might never get the chance to tell her how he felt. But despite the fact it seemed like the right time, despite the fact she had given him a long-winded speech of praise before the party, he had to remember that he had promised to come just as friends, and so no matter the temptation, no matter the moment, he was going to make sure he kept that promise.
He saw Ginny shiver suddenly out the corner of his eye, bringing him out of his reverie and in response he pulled off his jacket.
'You're cold,' he said, gentlemanly offering her his jacket, 'here.'
'Thanks,' she said as he slipped it over her shoulders. 'You didn't need too-'
'Nonsense. That's what friends are for.'
She smiled and they grew quiet again, the sounds of music and chatter behind them was very muffled - with his jacket off, Jimmy began to grow cold himself, but her was determined not to show it.
'So tell me,' Ginny said once she'd stopped shivering. 'What does Jimmy Peakes want to do with himself when he leaves Hogwarts?'
Jimmy raised his eyebrows - he had not expected her to ask that, of all things.
'Me?' he asked stupidly, making Ginny give him a look. 'I'm going to be a comedian, that's the life for me. Stay up all night, abuse my liver with alcohol, and live off fifteen minutes of jokes.'
Ginny burst out laughing.
'You see, I just start talking and people practically fall over laughing,' Jimmy said pointedly, a wicked grin on his face.
'You idiot,' she said, shaking her head.
'Well I have no idea,' Jimmy explained to her, 'what do youplan on doing, then?' Jimmy asked her in return, turning to lean on the railing with one arm so he could face her. 'Modelling?'
'Modelling?' Ginny repeated, her nose curled. 'Please-'
'Yeah I agree,' Jimmy interrupted, 'you're far too good looking to model.'
Ginny glared at him again, a smile beginning to twitch onto her lips. 'I would like to play Quidditch,' she said truthfully, finally, 'ideally,' she added with a shrug. 'I'm afraid I may not be good enough-'
'Bollocks,' Jimmy snapped in reply.
'Excuse me?' Ginny looked at him alarm.
'You're sensational at Quidditch,' Jimmy said to her, 'you could get a game for Puddlemere United right now, no worries-'
'They are the top team,' Ginny pointed out, but as if Jimmy didn't know that. 'And just because Oliver Wood plays for them-'
'It has nothing to do with him,' Jimmy retorted, 'you're as good as them, definitely. You scored half of our score last week - minus the Snitch of course - you would get a game at any club, least of all Puddlemere.'
'I'd prefer the Holyhead Harpies,' Ginny said with a sudden look of exuberance on her face, 'no boys to spy on you when you're getting changed then.'
Jimmy felt his stomach drop completely at these words. He stared at her blankly, hardly daring to believe what she'd just said - but much to his surprise, Ginny had not turned to look at him as if expecting to see a reaction, nor did she at any point indicate to whom she might have been referring.
Instead, she continued to stare out over the dark grounds, looking rather serious and letting out a long sigh.
'And then if I can't do that,' she went on, as though what she had just said meant nothing, 'I'd like to do something that involves Quidditch, maybe be a reporter? Or I could be a journalist or some sort of sports writer for the Daily Prophet.'
She finally looked around at him, and he attempted to keep his straight face and serious after just having a semi-heart attack from her words about boys spying on her.
'Me too,' he said with am eventual nod, 'but my dad always told me that the Ministry of Magic was somewhere all Wizards and Witches should work at least once, so one of the departments there?'
Ginny nodded and smiled at him - he wished she didn't keep doing that, his stomach dropped every time.
'Do you think we've been anti-social for long enough?' Ginny asked him, indicating the party that was going on behind them. 'Should we return to the battlefield?'
'I suppose we should,' Jimmy sighed, turning toward the terrace doors.
Before he turned the handle, Ginny put a small hand on his elbow.
'I'm glad you're here, Jimmy,' she said quietly, 'it has made the evening so much easier.'
After putting up with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the two of them were glad to rid themselves of Slughorn's party, and they spent the time it took them to get back to the Gryffindor common room humorously coming up with alternative names for the Slug-Club. After clambering through the portrait hole, they came to a halt at the bottom of the spiral staircase.
Jimmy made a mental note to himself right there that this was not a date, and that they had both promised one another that they would be going to the party just as friends. But some of the things that she had said to him over the course of the night, the little subtle hints she embedded into the sentences she had been putting together - Jimmy was a little confused about it all.
Was she trying to tell him something?
Did Ginny perhaps let slip a few things she perhaps didn't mean too? Did she maybe have a few feelings for him bottled up inside her, like he did her? Or - and this was probably the most likely of all of them - was he just over-reacting and hearing words he wanted to hear, when said words weren't actually coming out of her mouth at all?
But whether any of that meant anything substantial or not, nothing perplexed him more about the night than what happened next.
'I had a really great time tonight,' she told him, smiling, and casually taking his hand to squeeze.
'Me too,' Jimmy replied just as casually.
'Thanks for going with me,' she added seriously, 'it would have been boring otherwise.'
'You're welcome,' he said even more seriously, and as he attempted to pull his hand away from hers he said, 'well, goodn-'
'Wait,' Ginny whispered.
She kept her grip on him tightly and Jimmy looked down at where their hands met - and then he looked up at her in response, wondering what else she could possibly want. But she was not looking at him, not directly at least - she was instead focused on a point about a foot over his head - and to his disbelief, when he looked up, what might be hung down from the ceiling directly in line with the boys staircase was-
'Mistletoe,' Ginny's voice sounded as disbelieving as Jimmy felt.
Ginny ran her hands up to his shoulders, pushed herself up slightly so that she stood on her toes and so that they were eye-level - and then she leaned forward and their lips met.
Suddenly everything around him was moving in slow-motion - his mind may have been racing, his heart beating a thousand miles per hour - but time itself came to a crashing halt. What was probably the most fleeting of moments, seem to last forever - he had time to smell her, taste her and be fully aware that his hands were touching her.
But then, just as suddenly, it was over.
And oddly everything sped up; Ginny's face went slightly pink as she bid him goodnight, her hand did not let go of his until the very point where they could no longer reach one another, and before he knew it, he was standing there, completely alone, attempting to figure out what had just happened.
And he found himself utterly confused as ever over what exactly the meaning of the words "just as friends" were.