It took about five seconds before Ron and Hermione realized what they were doing. Quickly, both of them broke apart and stared at the floor. Ginny stood watching them both, her hand clapped over her mouth. A bright red flush spread over Ron and Hermione's faces, and the two fifth years started muttering.
"…just what we were thinking…"
"…oh no…what will Harry say…"
"…can't tell him…"
"Well, I'm off too bed," Ginny stated loudly, backing up. "You two can finish—er—celebrating in here if you want."
Both Ron and Hermione were too preoccupied to notice what Ginny said at first, but then, just as she had reached the stairs, they both cried, "Wait!"
"Ginny, you won't—er—tell anyone about—about—" Ron said in a strangled voice.
Ginny looked at Ron and Hermione. "I, well, of course not."
"Good, because, well, I don't it's a good idea—especially if Harry and I are—were—you know—" Hermione muttered.
An awkward silence fell between the three students then, and after a moment, Ron turned away and walked towards the boys dormitories while Hermione followed Ginny up the stairs in an embarrassed sort of way.
As Hermione climbed into bed, the events of the night flashed across her mind.
Did she have feeling for Ron? Of course she did—she had too. Why else would she have kissed him after telling him that Harry could quite possibly return to their lives after he'd been gone for so long? Harry—oh god, what about Harry? She'd just cheated on him, hadn't she? And with his best friend, a nasty little voice inside her head reminded her. Did this now mean that she didn't—couldn't—be with Harry if—when—he returned?
"What have you gotten yourself into, Hermione," she muttered to herself before falling asleep.
Although Ron usually fell asleep quickly, tonight was an exception. Just ten minutes ago, he'd kissed Hermione Granger—really kissed her. "He's going out with your best mate," Ron reminded himself. "But he's not even here, and hasn't been for months," thought Ron, and then immediately felt sickened with himself. He'd enjoyed the kiss; there was no point in denying it. He'd liked—really liked—Hermione for ages. Well, ever since second year. He'd been so worried about her when she had been petrified that he'd almost driven himself insane.
"What happens now?" Ron thought.
Ginny lay in her warm bed, forcing herself to stay awake. She was completely tired out from the day; but she had to figure some things out before falling asleep. She and Ron had paced around the common room all night, waiting for Hermione. After an hour, both of them had stopped speaking to each other and began muttering to themselves. Of course they'd both protested when Dumbledore asked them to leave his office, but agreed in the end. The success of Hermione's dream was too important to risk screwing up.
What did all this mean for her, now that Harry could most defiantly be returning to Hogwarts? As much as she hated to admit it, she'd almost gotten used to life without him—almost gotten used to the heartache, and the feeling of hopelessness. Is this how love worked? Ginny had always known she'd loved Harry—ever since she'd first met him she'd known that someday Harry would love her back as much as she loved him. They were meant to be, even if he couldn't tell yet.
"He's dating Hermione. You need to get over him and move on," she thought. "But what about tonight?"
She and Ron kissed. They'd both enjoyed the kiss—Ginny could tell. True to her word, she wouldn't tell anyone, especially not Harry, if he ever came back.
As she fell asleep, she vaguely thought that maybe Harry's return would bring changes—changes that she would like, and maybe even enjoy. Maybe what she really wanted was for Harry to come back to her.
Hermione, Ron, and Ginny all woke extremely early the next morning, despite the lack of sleep all of them had received. They'd all proceeded down to the Great Hall for an early breakfast, but all of them picked at the food on their plates.
"Where's Dumbledore?" Ron asked, looking up at the staff table.
"Well I suppose it's a good thing if he isn't here," Hermione replied. "This way, we know he's still looking—looking—"
"For Harry," Ginny finished, looking down at her plate.
"What if—" Ron started.
"Don't say it, don't even think about that."
"I wasn't going too—" Ron responded.
"Ron," Ginny said sternly, "just forget it."
"Oh, it's no use!" cried Ginny, pushing her plate away, after a minute of silence. "I can't concentrate, I can't think, I can't eat…"
"Me either," said Hermione, following suit.
"I've been thinking, what if Harry does come back? What's it going to be like for him?" Ron questioned quietly.
"I've been thinking too," Hermione said. "And don't you think it's going to be quite odd for Harry? I mean, he hasn't lived in the wizarding world—I mean really lived—since last June. I just think that everything will be a bit awkward at first."
"Yeah, as much as I want Harry back—and don't get me wrong, there's nothing I want more—sometimes I stop and think about what's going to happen? How are we going to act?" Ginny stated.