After Transfiguration a few days later, McGonagall interrupts Harry and Ron's swordfight with two of Fred and George's joke wands to announce that the Yule Ball will take place on Christmas Day. It's open to fourth years and above and she insists on excellent behavior. She asks Harry to stay after the bell and tells him that the champions and their dance partners will open the ball. They argue about this, but McGonagall insists that Harry ask someone to the ball. Harry begins to notice how many girls there are at school and thinks he'd like to ask Cho. Ron notes that all the girls probably want to go with Harry. It still surprises Harry when several girls ask him. He tells them all no.
When Harry is surprised that girls ask him to the Yule Ball, it suggests that he's still not entirely aware of how powerful and famous he is; both qualities make him an attractive date. This shows that, when it comes to how Harry uses his prestige, he has the power to make people happy whom he’s never even considered before (in this case, a girl who wants to go with him but whom he doesn't know).
Despite this challenge, life for Harry is looking up. The Hufflepuffs no longer give Harry grief and Rita Skeeter hasn't published a nasty article about Hagrid yet. Hagrid tells Harry one day that Skeeter was mostly interested in talking about Harry's shortcomings.
Skeeter's interest in Harry's shortcomings suggests that now that Harry has turned down her interview requests, she's going to turn the media against him and attempt to discredit him.
The last week of term is boisterous and wild. Several teachers let the students play games, but Snape announces a test on antidotes on the final day of term. As Ron builds a card castle and Harry reads for fun a few days before the test, Hermione scolds them for not studying and Harry for not trying to figure out the egg. Ron's card castle blows up just as Fred and George arrive to ask to borrow Pigwidgeon. When Ron asks who they keep writing to, they threaten to burn Ron's nose and ask the trio whom they're taking to the dance. Fred asks Angelina to prove how easy it is and he and George leave for the Owlery. Ron tells Harry that they should ask girls soon so they don't end up going with "trolls," which angers Hermione.
When Ron refers to possible dates as being "trolls," it suggests that he doesn't yet think of women and girls as fully fledged people deserving of kindness--at this point, he's interested in them only for their looks. This offers Ron a starting point as he continues to mature and, hopefully, learn that women are people too. By inviting Angelina like this, Fred is able to demonstrate his maturity to the younger trio and show them how far they have to go.
A few days later, Harry still hasn't asked Cho. Finally, on Friday morning, Ron and Harry decide that they'll both have partners by the end of the day. Harry watches Cho all day and before dinner, asks to speak to her alone. When Harry asks, Cho nervously says she's already said she'd go with Cedric. Harry walks glumly to the common room, thinking that he was starting to like Cedric but he realizes now that Cedric is useless and dumb.
Notice that Cho is kind when she turns Harry down; this shows that she at least understands that she has the power to make Harry's day or ruin it. When Harry then immediately decides that Cedric is dumb, it shows that he's flattening Cedric into only his romantic rival--something that reinforces Harry's emotional immaturity.
In the common room, Harry sees Ron sitting in a corner with a strange look on his face. Ginny is speaking softly to him. Ginny explains to Harry that Ron asked Fleur to the ball and that she turned him down. Harry shares that he just asked Cho and she said no. Ron says that Neville apparently asked Hermione, who turned him down and said she's going with someone else. Ginny starts to look uncomfortable as Ron laughs that Hermione just didn't want to go with Neville.
Ron's choice to laugh at the thought of Neville going to the ball with a girl shows that he doesn't yet have the capacity to truly humanize his classmates and see them as fully formed humans. On the other hand, Ginny's obvious discomfort with this conversation indicates that she's already made this leap to humanize Neville.
Hermione climbs through the portrait hole, confused as to why the boys didn't come to dinner. Ginny tells her that girls turned Harry and Ron down for the ball. Ron tells Hermione that she's a girl and could go with him or Harry, but Hermione angrily says she's going with someone already. After she leaves for the girls' dormitory, Ron tells Ginny that she can go with Harry. Blushing, Ginny says that she's going with Neville and miserably leaves to eat dinner.
This entire argument reinforces that Ron doesn't see his classmates, friends, or siblings as anything more than pawns for him to use for his own gains. This argument then shows Ron that he must understand that these people are actually individuals with their own desires that might not align with Ron's.
Seeing Parvati and Lavender come into the common room, Harry goes to them and asks Parvati to go with him. Lavender already has a date, but Parvati agrees to go with Harry and offers to see if her sister, Padma, will go with Ron.
By asking Parvati and Lavender, Harry shows that he's learning to call on his wider community to achieve his goals.