Hermione Granger sat at a desk in the dark library in the middle of the night. She had just finished reading 'A Wizard's Guide to Deadly Potions' and it had been an amazing read, if a bit gory. She gently placed the book back in the restricted section in the exact spot she had taken it from. Madame Pince would have had a fit if she knew that the young Gryffindor snuck into the library late nearly every night and read books she wasn't exactly supposed to. She used a spell to cover it with a thick coating of dust so that it looked as if it had been untouched. It was a spell she had learned specifically for the purpose of concealing her late night library rendezvous. She made sure Harry's invisibility cloak was pulled tight around her and then she made her way through the dark silent halls toward the Gryffindor tower.
Hermione was a seventh year, and head girl, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She had bushy brown hair that she had given up on trying to tame ages ago. She wasn't beautiful but she passed for pretty. She had brown eyes framed by long lashes, and a smattering of light brown freckles on her face. She wasn't petite, she had the soft body of someone who didn't play sports or exercise on a routine basis but she was by no means fat or even chubby. She was extraordinarily smart and could go on and on for hours about nearly any topic except Quidditch. But despite all of her wonderful qualities, and there were many, she was alone. Well, of course she had her friends, Ron, Harry, and Ginny, but she was still very much alone. Loneliness was something she had learned to deal with over the years, mostly by diving into her studies. Now she was beginning to keenly feel the fact that she was missing something in her life, someone, and no amount of reading or studying filled the void, though not from lack of trying. Soon she would be out on her own, studying to become a medi-witch, or whatever else she chose to do. She wondered if she would ever be truly happy. She was Hermione Granger, the boyfriendless Hermione Granger. She had never been one to bemoan the fact that she had no love life. Sure, there had been Viktor Krum but that had been brief and they hadn't done anything other than snog a few times and there had been nothing remarkable about that. But as she got older and year after year passed she began to feel left out, not to mention a bit pathetic. Ron had had a crush on her a few years ago but she hadn't liked him like that, couldn't think of any boy she actually did like in that way.
She told herself that a love interest would only complicate her all ready complicated life. Not that her life was that complicated but it was a convenient excuse. After all what did she do but wake up, attend class, study more than any sane person could take, stay up until two in the morning reading and then start all over again? Yes, it was really complicated.
Everyone around her was immersed in dating and the teenage drama and angst that came with it, but as usual she was left out of the loop. How could she relate to Harry and Ron, who both had girlfriends, if she didn't have a significant other? She hated being the fifth wheel, though Ginny was often times dateless as well so she wasn't completely alone. There was no one who could say her life at Hogwarts had been very normal, after all nearly every year they had to battle Voldemort but she longed to have one normal aspect to her life and even that was eluding her.
She finally got to the portrait that was the entrance to the Gryffindor tower and was thankful she hadn't run into Filch or Mrs. Norris while she was distracted by her mental ramblings. She smothered a yawn as she spoke the password and the portrait swung open admitting her. It was almost three in the morning, she'd stayed in the library later than she's intended to. Well, she could survive on four hours of sleep. She was nearly to the stairs leading to the girls dormitories when she heard a sound. She surveyed the common room and found that it wasn't empty like she'd originally thought. She saw the top of a red head over the back of the couch. She heard the sound again and tiptoed towards it. Curled up with a blanket, staring into the fire with tears falling down her cheeks was Ginny Weasley. She hiccuped and Hermione identified it as the sound she had heard a moment ago.
"Ginny, are you okay?" she asked concerned for her friend.
"Who's there?" asked Ginny leaping up with her wand in hand.
Hermione realized that she still had the invisibility cloak draped over her.
"It's Hermione, hold on a second." She slowly removed the cloak and Ginny tucked away her wand and sat back down on the couch.
"You scared me," she said with a small hiccup as she pulled her legs up and rested her chin on her knees.
"Sorry," said Hermione sitting down next to her. Hermione looked over at the youngest Weasley. She was sixteen, nearly seventeen, with long, trademark red, hair. Her eyes were brown and her face was covered with light brown freckles that Hermione found quite adorable. She was nearly an inch taller than Hermione and fit from playing Quidditch. Although Hermione never could fathom why she enjoyed playing. All in all, Ginny Weasly was quite beautiful and Hermione suddenly noticed that she'd grown up quite nicely. She wondered what could have upset her so much to have her sitting in the common room crying at this late hour. Hermione waited for her to dry her tears and wipe her running nose.
"Tell me what's wrong," she said gently as she put an arm around the young girl and gave her a gentle squeeze.
Ginny looked up at her and Hermione was afraid she was going to start crying again but she didn't. "Nothing really, I'm just being dramatic I guess," she said wiping at her eyes in obvious frustration.
"Ginny, you're not like Lavendar and Parvati, you don't get upset over little things. Something is really bothering you, if you'd rather not talk about it I understand but I want you to be able to confide in me. That's what friends are for right?"
Ginny mutely nodded but stayed quiet and Hermione wondered if she was going to say anything more. "I'm in love," she said softly and Hermione felt a pang of something she couldn't really identify... envy?
"That's great, Gin, I'm happy for you." She was truly happy for her but she couldn't deny that there was a bit of sadness mixed in with it. She told herself that she was being silly, after all it wasn't like Ginny was going to run off with this person and they'd never see each other again. Still, she was going to miss having someone to commiserate with while Ron and Harry were fawning over their girlfriends. Hermione and Ginny had spent many an hour watching the boys make fools out of themselves and being thankful that it wasn't them. She vividly recalled last year's Yule Ball. Both she and Ginny had dates but they'd quickly abandoned them at the beginning of the night in favor of sitting at a table in the corner while they laughed at the love-sick boys of their house. She recalled many times like that.
"It's anything but great, this person is never going to love me back... ever, Hermione." A lone tear made it's way down Ginny's cheek and Hermione brushed it away.
"Have you told him how you feel?" Hermione felt a pang in her chest for her friend. To think, just minutes ago she'd been bemoaning the fact that she wasn't going through all of this love stuff.
"No, I could never do that, it would be risking way too much." Ginny wiped a hand across her nose and tucked her hair behind her ears, trying to compose herself.
"Ginny, you're beautiful, you're smart, you could have any guy in this school. How do you know unless you tell him?" Or I could tell him for you. She thought to herself. It wasn't something she wanted to do but she hated seeing her like this. If that's what it took Hermione would suck it up and try to play matchmaker. As long as it wasn't someone like Draco Malfoy. That she just wouldn't do.
"I just know, you couldn't understand."
Hermione was hurt by the comment, another reminder that she wasn't on the same level as everyone else, for once in her life there was something she couldn't understand, something that she didn't know if she ever would. Part of her wondered if she even wanted to.
"Explain it to me then, if I can't understand then lay it out for me."
Ginny buried her face in her hands and Hermione could hear her crying, she didn't know what to do, how to make things better. She squeezed Ginny tighter and soothingly stroked her flame-red hair. "It's okay, Gin. I promise it will be okay."
"But it won't! It just hurts so much not being able to tell them, keeping it locked away," she laid her head on Hermione's shoulder and she pulled her closer, trying to be comforting. She didn't know what else to say. It seemed like for once she was at a loss for words.
After awhile Ginny pulled away. "I'm sorry, it's late, I should let you go to bed."
"Sleep can wait, I want to help you."
"You can't," Ginny protested.
"You're one of my best friends, I hate seeing you unhappy," she brushed a rogue strand of hair away from Ginny's face and tucked it behind her ear. In that moment it felt like the air in the room changed. She was suddenly aware of how close they were, and how hot it was in the room with the fireplace roaring before them.
"Hermione, I don't want to hide anymore," Ginny said softly.
"Then don't," Hermione said breathlessly, something was different. Ginny leaned closer and Hermione froze in... fear? Anticipation? Her eyes closed as she felt Ginny's lips on hers. They were soft and gentle and Hermione had never experienced anything like it. She leaned into the kiss and she felt as if she were falling out of the sky with no one there to catch her. There were so many emotions and she couldn't process them all. The only thought in her head was that she wanted more.
Mouths open and she felt Ginny's tongue enter her mouth. She tasted so sweet, like honey. Ginny's hands tangled themselves in Hermione's hair, pulling her close. The close contact sent Hermione's entire body tingling. She felt Ginny's hands trailing down her neck, inciting the most wonderful sensations. While her lips were throughly enjoying the attention they were being giving her mind was racing. Trying to explain what was happening. Before things could get out of hand, she pulled away trying to understand what had happened... what she was feeling.
"Ginny..." before she could say anything else Ginny bolted up off the couch, tears in her eyes.
"I told you you wouldn't understand." She was upstairs before Hermione could say a word.
Hermione sat there desperately trying to figure out what had just took place but for once in her life she had no real answers. She finally stood up and went to her room where she lay there awake for a very long time wondering why it had felt so good... so right... to kiss another girl.
The next morning Hermione entered the Great Hall and her eyes scanned the Gryffindor table looking for Ginny's red head bent over her breakfast but she wasn't there. Hermione yawned and walked over to her normal spot. Ginny usually sat beside her and as she sat down she wished Ginny was there, that they could talk. Ron and Harry entered the hall and seemed oblivious to the fact that Ginny was missing and Hermione missed her more than ever. There was no one for her to talk to except Harry and Ron. Ginny always seemed interested in the books she read. She'd ask questions, they'd discuss and debate and generally engage in what Ron called 'brainy' stuff. Hermione suddenly realized how important just talking to Ginny had been to her. She scanned the hall once more and saw no sign of her so she sat quietly, picking at her food and hoping that Ginny would come through the doors.
The rest of the day, and then the rest of the week, went much the same way. At every turn Ginny avoided her and they were never once in the same room together at the same time. She had a sneaking suspicion that Harry had loaned her his Maurader's Map that showed the location of everyone in Hogwarts. It had been a week after the kiss and still Hermione thought about it, how it had felt, what it meant. It was confusing but it had also been exciting, and sweet, and scary. She wanted so much to talk to Ginny about it, to figure out what it meant for them. She wondered if Ginny was gay and she also wondered if she was. She'd never thought much about her sexuality. She found boys handsome and found girls pretty but she was confused about what she felt. She'd never had sexual feelings for a girl but when ever she thought of the late night kiss she experienced a rush of heat to her face and her heart sped up. She wanted to know if what she felt was simple curiosity or more, and she was never going to figure it all out until she talked to Ginny.
It was raining and she listened as the rain hit the windows and thunder roared, seeming to make the castle itself shake. She pulled her blanket closer around her and tried to fall asleep, but she couldn't. She looked up into the darkness and wondered what was wrong with her but she knew. She missed Ginny. She'd never realized how close they'd gotten over the last few years. She was as close to Ginny as she was to Ron or Harry and she suddenly felt a pang of longing. It was so unfair, all she wanted was to love and be loved but it seemed as if she would never have that. She wasn't sure what she felt for Ginny, it was all mixed up in her head. It was hard to tell where friendship ended and other things began. Before she could stop herself a few tears rolled down her cheeks and she brushed them away and snuggled down into her warm blankets as they rain fell harder. As she closed her eyes she thought of Ginny and she wished they were snuggled up together under the covers, safe from the pouring rain.
She was in potions working on the levitation elixir and trying to think of ways to ambush Ginny, to get her to talk to her. When it came time for them to drink their potions she looked around as everyone was floating several feet off of the ground and she realized that her feet were firmly planted on the ground. She'd actually botched a potion. Her face turned red with embarrassment as Snape made a snide comment and all of the Slytherins laughed. Hermione ignored them and cleaned up the ingredients. She had to talk to Ginny, this couldn't continue. As they left the classroom Ron and Harry followed her, wondering how she got the potion wrong and why she wasn't more upset about it.
Later that night they were sitting in the Common Room and Hermione was resolutely waiting for the door to open and for Ginny to walk in. She was determined not to leave until the red head came through the door, even if it took all night. Almost everyone had all ready gone to bed and she smothered a yawn. It was Friday so she could stay up as late as she wanted, but she was so tired. It had been hard for her to sleep lately. So many things to think about, so many questions and no answers. She looked up as she felt a hand on her shoulder and for a moment she'd thought it was Ginny but it was only Harry.
"Shouldn't you go to bed?" he asked sitting down next to her.
"I'm not tired," her sentence was punctuated by a long yawn and she gave him a sheepish grin. "Maybe I'm a bit tired. I'll go to bed soon. You know, reading and all that."
"I don't think she'll come while you're out here."
Hermione looked up at him wondering how much he knew. She suddenly felt scared, if Harry and Ron knew what had happened they might never look at her in the same way again, and she started to understand what Ginny had been feeling that night.
"What are you talking about?" she asked casually as the dying firelight flickered across his face.
"Ginny. You are waiting here for her aren't you?" His green eyes were piercing, searching.
Hermione nodded, Harry knew something, she was sure of it, but whether he would say anything remained to be seen. A part of her didn't want him to ask what had happened between she and Ginny but another part wanted to confide in him, wanted his advice.
"I miss her, Harry. I just want to talk to her but she won't even give me the chance."
"She'll come around sooner or later, I promise." Hermione breathed a small sigh of relief. If Harry believed it then she would too.
"Will you talk to her for me? I just need to tell her... I need to talk to her."
"I'll try. Now go to bed, we have a Quidditch match against Hufflepuff tomorrow and I need you to be cheering us on, not half asleep in the stands.
"Thanks Harry," she gave a quick hug and then went upstairs, talking to Harry had made her feel a little better and tomorrow maybe she would find a few answers.
The next day was bright and sunny, though it was still cold out. Hermione actually allowed herself to sleep in for once and when she woke up it was nearly eleven in the afternoon. She took a hot shower and then got dressed and went to the Great Hall for a bite to eat. The Quidditch match was at two in the afternoon and Hermione was looking forward to it if only for the fact that Ginny was one of the Chasers. She went to the library intent on finding something to occupy her time. She wondered if Harry had stayed up and talked to Ginny, she wanted to ask him but hadn't yet got the chance. She had just finished reading Dinmont's Guide to Transfiguration, it had been written over 100 years ago and she had found it fascinating how ideas had changed over the years. She closed the book and then sighed and looked out of the window where she saw two figures walking by the lake and both of them were wearing maroon Quidditch robes. As they got closer she was able to see that it was Ginny and Harry. She watched them for awhile, she couldn't see their faces from so far away and she wondered what they were talking about. She wanted to go down there but she didn't, there would be time to talk to Ginny later, she hoped anyway.
They walked away towards the Quidditch pitch and Hermione realized that the match would be starting soon so she gathered her belongings and put them back in her dorm room, got a heavy cloak and her scarf and then made her way to the pitch. The seats were filling up quickly and she took a seat next to Neville Longbottom. They talked for a few minutes and then the game began.
Dean Thomas' voice carried out over the pitch as he introduced the players on each team. When he said Ginny's name her heart gave a strange little lurch. She cheered with the rest of the Gryffindors as the game began.
Ron was doing marvelously blocking the goal posts and so far Gryffindor was ahead by twenty points. Harry was up above, seeking out the snitch and Ginny was trying to get the quaffel away from the Hufflepuff chaser. Hufflepuff gained a thirty point lead and Hermione hoped that Harry would catch the snitch soon, because the sooner the match was over the sooner she might be able to talk to Ginny. Her heart plummeted to her stomach when a bludger nearly knocked Ginny off of her broom but she held on and righted herself. Hermione had never been a big fan of flying, especially when there was nothing under you except a stick of wood but there was a certain beautiful grace to it as they wove patterns through out the sky. She watched the red blur that was Harry plummet towards the ground and then stop a second before he would have smashed into the earth face first and in his hand he held the tiny, gold, winged, ball.
"Potter catches the Snitch! Victory for Gryffindor with a score 210 to 130!"
Hermione made her way down to the locker rooms and waited outside for the players to come out and they did until only Harry and Ginny were left. Ron had already went back up to the common room intent on the party, and food, that they were having in honor of the win. It seemed like she had been waiting for hours when finally Ginny and Harry came out together. Hermione rushed over to them.
"That was a great game!" she said cheerily trying to lighten the mood, she could see that Ginny wasn't thrilled at the idea of speaking with her. She was looking anywhere but at Hermione, and as much as she hated to admit it, it hurt.
"It was, I was afraid I was going to be up their all day looking for the snitch. It was a good game. Well, I'm going to go catch up with Ron," Harry said as he began to walk away, he gave Ginny an encouraging look and then began to walk away.
"I'll go with you," said Ginny hurriedly going to follow him. Hermione was alarmed to sense something akin to panic in Ginny's voice. Was she really that scared of just talking to her?
"Wait up, Gin. I thought we could take a walk, it's such a beautiful day," said Hermione hoping that Ginny wouldn't run away from her, she had so many things she wanted... no, needed... to say. Ginny stopped as Harry continued to make his way back to the castle. She looked after him and then she turned around and finally faced Hermione.
They watched in silence as Harry disappeared into the castle and then they made there way towards the lake in silence. They stopped and stood there looking at the calm waters. Her heart was beating so fast and she felt sweaty all over. Light headed almost. Whatever she was about to tell Ginny might change everything. It might alter their friendship. She had to choose carefully.
"Let me explain, please," she said interrupting, and Hermione nodded.
"I really don't know what got into me last week, I was just so confused and emotional but I promise it will never happen again. Ever. So let's chalk it up to crazy teenage hormones and never talk about it again."
Hermione's head was spinning and she suddenly felt foolish and she had to admit a little... disappointed? She had come down here with some foolish notion of telling Ginny that it was okay. That she understood. That she felt something extraordinary when she looked at her and thought about her. It had all ended in a romantic kiss. But that was in her head. The reality was that it had been teenage hormones. Ginny wasn't in love with her and here she had made a big deal out of it. Shouldn't she be happy? Didn't this make things so much more simple? No, it didn't.
When she didn't respond Ginny continued.
"Hermione, I think of you and Harry as my best friends and I would never do anything to jepordize that, I'm really sorry if I offended you."
Offended? Of all the emotions that Hermione had felt in the last week that wasn't one of them.
She couldn't let it go. She couldn't forget the look in Ginny's eyes after they kissed. The way they held each other and touched each other, and kissed each other. That hadn't been some silly mistake. Yes, there had been confusion but something more and she had to find out what it was. She needed to know.
"I wasn't offended and if you're saying all of this because you think it's what I want to hear, it isn't." She wanted to tell Ginny all of the things that she really wanted her to say but she couldn't bring herself to. She went with the simple version. "I want the truth. I don't care what the truth is but I just want you to be honest, that's all I want." No it wasn't. She wanted another kiss. She wanted those lips moving against hers.
Ginny was silent for a moment, considering, and then she took a deep breath and looked out over the lake. "I don't know what the truth is any more. You are my best friend. Most of the students here still see me as the girl who opened the Chamber of Secrets, who was controlled by Voldemort, but you don't. You're not scared of me, or intimidated, you see me as me. Growing up, I was the only girl, and besides my brothers I was alone, but then I met you and we became friends and it was kind of new to me." She turned and looked at Hermione. "Then... I started to feel other things for you and... it's not just friendship anymore." Ginny looked away but Hermione turned her so that she was looking into Ginny's eyes.
"I want to be honest with you. When you kissed me it was the last thing in the world that I ever expected to happen to me. It wasn't even that you had kissed me, it was what I felt kissing you back. I felt... complete... somehow and this last week I've been trying to understand it and analyze it but maybe I'm not supposed to... all I know is that this last week has been one of the emptiest in my life. It felt right when I kissed you and whether we're just friends or more than that, and I think we are more, I want you in my life. I want to see you everyday. I want to be around you because you make me happy. Can we just try to figure this out as we go, no promises, no expectations let's just do what feels right."
Ginny seemed to breathe a big sigh of relief. "Out of all the things I thought you'd say that wasn't one of them," she said with a shaky laugh. "I was so sure that you were mad, or disgusted and I guess Harry was right." She ran her fingers through Ginny's hair. So soft. So beautiful. She felt her heart fill up and suddenly she understood why Ron and Harry made fools out of themselves to impress their girlfriends. Right now she was overwhelmed with the urge to keep her happy and safe.
"Right about what?" Hermione asked curiously. She smiled when Ginny took her hand and laid a kiss on her palm.
"He said that you would always be there for me, no matter what." Hermione cupped Ginny's cheek, feeling the smoothness of her skin.
"He was right, smart, that one. So why don't we go back up to the Common Room and celebrate?"
"I'd like that," said Ginny with a smile. Hermione dropped her hand and grasped Ginny's holding it tightly. Hermione hesitated for a moment before leaning up and letting her lips touch Ginny's. The kiss was short, and sweet, but her breath was still taken away and her body tingled all over. She pulled away and they smiled at each other. Hermione thought that she could get lost in those brown eyes.
"Shall we?" she said giving Ginny's hand a squeeze.
"Lead the way," said Ginny with a smile. Hermione's heart warmed. This was the happiest she'd seen her in a long time and it was all because of her. She thought her insides were going to melt. They walked back to the castle, unsure about what the future held for them but secure in the fact that no matter what it was they'd face it together.