85. (About fussing and admitting)
"I believe one of the hardest things you can do is conquer your fears, but if you have a goal, then it's your job to open up and let it be real no matter how scary it seems."
"Ginny!" Hermione called Ginny over to her as she came back from practice that Wednesday. They hadn't talked since Ginny had snapped at her last Monday, but Hermione wasn't angry anymore. Though she had been proved right that that stupid book had been dangerous, she should've kept her mouth shut about it at the time. Harry had been punished enough. Not only by Snape and McGonagall, but the Gryffindors themselves weren't going easy on him either. She couldn't help but suspect that Ron, Ginny and herself might be the only ones speaking to him. To avoid all the stares he got these days, Harry had even thrown his Invisibility Cloak over himself when he was in the common room. She felt a bit uneasy about the fact that it now looked as if she was alone (Ron was still not back from practice) but put that unease to one side when she thought back to the murderous look in the eyes of a seventh year directed towards Harry last afternoon.
"Hi Hermione. Listen-" Ginny wanted to apologize, but she shook her head.
"Forget it. You were right, I was rambling too much. Harry felt guilty enough. But how did the practice go?"
"Good!" Ginny sat down next to her. She told Hermione about the saves Ron made, about how everyone seemed to follow her orders, how it had been a bit weird for her to comment on Dean's performance, but how he had said nothing and had just flown really well. Hermione couldn't help but glance over at the invisible Harry next to her at that last comment, but he didn't make a sound. Even if she hadn't made the comment about Dean just now, Hermione was sure Harry was more interested in what Ginny had to say than she herself was. After all, it was Quidditch.
"I'm glad," she replied. "Still nervous about the game?" She saw that Ginny was eyeing the empty chair curiously now Hermione had looked at it.
"A bit." Hermione could tell Ginny was lying; she appeared more than a bit nervous.
"I guess that's only natural, right?"
"Yeah," Ginny replied, though her voice wasn't very steady.
"Well, if you need my help, just let me know!" Ginny glanced bemusedly, but then smiled.
"What I need now, is a warm bed. I'm really tired, so goodnight."
Harry lifted the Cloak a bit as soon as Ginny had left, showing his face to Hermione.
"I'm going to bed too," he stated in a hoarse voice. He looked miserable.
Almost immediately after Harry had gone upstairs, the portrait hole opened and Ron walked in.
"Hi Hermione, hi Harry," he said to the empty chair and then sat on the couch next to Hermione.
She giggled. "He already went upstairs."
"Oh," Ron started to laugh. "Then that must've looked pretty stupid."
"Only a bit. How was practice?" her stomach gave a lurch as she saw how his whole face lit up.
"Far better than expected. Ginny is actually pretty good as a Captain. Must've learned a lot from Harry."
"And you? Still nervous?"
"A bit." She eyed him sternly and he admitted: "Okay, a lot."
"You are going to do just fine. Just keep your head cool. I spoke to Ginny when she came back and she thought you were great."
"She did?" Hermione heard how pleased Ron sounded.
"You are going to do just fine," she repeated and looked into his eyes. He nodded, a bit unsure.
Hermione stifled a yawn. "I'm going to bed." Then, without thinking, she planted a kiss on his cheek and stood up.
"What was that for?" he asked in a soft voice.
"For good luck. I don't think you need Felix Felicis to fly as well as you usually do."
The following lunchtime she found herself in the library with Ginny. Whilst the red-head searched for a book on her list, Hermione went through the enormous stack of old newspapers, in her vain hope to find something useful about the Prince. Even though the Prince had already proven her right, she was only more curious about his or her identity.
Behind a shelf she could hear some Ravenclaws. They were discussing the upcoming match and Hermione noticed how Ginny stiffened as they went on.
"I heard he just wanted to replace himself so he didn't have to play against Cho Chang."
"Did he want to get out of the match because she's a good Seeker or because she's his ex-girlfriend?"
"Ooh, I almost forgot! They went out, didn't they?"
"Yes, but not for very long. I heard he now fancies Romilda Vane."
"But wait- that girl that's now substituting for him, the Weasley…"
"Yes, what about her?"
"Didn't she have a huge crush on him?"
"Was that her? Well, then Cho will be no match for her. If Potter chose Cho over her, she must already be very insecure to play against our team."
"It must be so sad to lose a guy and a match to the same girl..."
Hermione threw a glance at Ginny, expecting to see anger and a drawn wand. However, she hadn't seen the girl looking so scared in a long time and it reminded her of Ron. Without saying anything, Ginny stood up and left the library. Hermione tried to follow her, but by the time she had left the library, Ginny had already disappeared.
"Hermione," she heard someone whisper next to her ear. Slowly, she opened her eyes and noticed her surroundings. It was still dark in her bedroom, probably just a few hours after midnight. Who would wake her up?
"I need your help with Quidditch. I'm no match for Cho. She's far too pretty and clever and talented. Harry will like her more, just like he did before." The girl seemed even more panicked then when she had left the library.
"Ginny, where have you been?" she replied sleepily.
"I mean, those girls were right; I am pathetic. To think that he likes me back: as if I haven't learnt anything at all these past few years…I'm so stupid! You'd think I'd learnt by now!"
It took some time before Ginny's words sunk in. Then Hermione slowly replied: "Ginny…None of those arguments have got anything to do with Quidditch."
There was a brief silence.
"I know," Ginny whispered almost inaudibly. In the moonlight, her eyes seemed big and Hermione was sure that Ginny was just as panicked as she herself had been about her parents after Christmas. However, Ginny's panic was about a whole other subject. Hermione lit her wand.
"Do you mean that you like Harry back?"
In the light, she saw that Ginny gave half a nod before her head shot up again. "What do you mean, "back"?"
Hermione sighed. She shouldn't have had such a big mouth. However, she had hoped that Ginny would have figured it out herself by now. She sat upright, pulled Ginny on her mattress and closed the curtains of her poster-bed. "I've cast the imperturbable charm on the curtains. The others won't hear a thing," she explained, motioning to the invisible sleeping bodies of Lavender and the others. "Ginny, I thought by the way you looked at him, that you had finally noticed!"
"Remember that he was acting so weird according to you, but that nobody else noticed?" she stated. She saw Ginny's eyes widen even more with understanding. And something else. Happiness.
"Oh… but then… but how…But… Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because last time you told Ron forcefully to do something about his love life and leave yours alone, it didn't turn out too good, did it? And I was the one who had told you to forget him in the first place. Which you did. I didn't want to upset you, or be responsible for a break-up with Dean," she replied truthfully.
"How long have you known?"
Ginny groaned. "This explains so much… and the whole time I was there… kissing someone under his nose!"
"I'm really sorry I didn't say anything… But if I can help now…."
For a moment, Ginny was silent and stared into nothingness. Hermione was glad to see that Ginny looked confident again. The panic was completely gone.
"I could use some help with Quidditch," Ginny finally said. "I'm still not sure if I'm ready to Seek on Saturday. Harry sometimes practiced with kolf balls. People threw them in the air, and he would catch them."
Hermione immediately understood. "You mean 'Golf balls'. I have some time during lunch. Want to practice then?"
"You're really good, Ginny!" Hermione yelled as she had made a spectacular dive to catch three balls with one hand. She landed and Hermione ran over with the basket of golf balls in her left hand.
"Thanks! I'm not feeling any doubt whatsoever anymore!" Ginny beamed widely and looked around, as if searching for someone.
"Harry's not here. He had to finish a potions essay in the library." She saw that the already wind-swept cheeks became a bit redder.
She heard Ginny ask softly: "If you say he liked me for that long, then why hasn't he made a move on me now I've broken up with Dean?"
Hermione had thought about that a lot herself, but still wasn't sure. Ginny looked pensive too, but her face suddenly changed to a determined one and she stepped on her broom.
"Well, whatever's holding him back has to disappear quickly. I think I can say I've waited long enough for him!"
Next stop: That o-so-famous-quidditchmatch. Thanks to Amy and all of you who've reviewed! Let me know what you think about this chapter as well!