Ginny stormed down the stairs of the Burrow as a whirlwind of rage and resentment scrambled her mind. A whole damn year Hermione had known about Ginny's feelings for Harry and she'd said nothing.
Hermione had been so comforting and reassuring after her confession but now doubts riddled her memory. Every smile, every word of encouragement, were these all fake? Just ruses? Biding her time until Harry was free from Cho's grasp. Was she worried that Ginny herself would be quick to make a move now Harry was unattached? Seizing the opportunity to sneak in and take Harry away from her all over again.
Her face had flushed red, a palette concocted from her embarrassment and bitterness. She couldn't shake the image of the two of them intertwined, Harry's hands on Hermione's waist, running through her hair. Her stupid bushy, messy hair…
She could picture Ron's face. The moment she told him, destroyed him. The anguish leaking onto his features as the truth sunk in. She slowed at the foot of the stairs, her shaking hand resting on the banister. Could she really do this? She couldn't sit back and leave her brother to the face the days, months even of being fooled. Strung along on false hope and fake friendship.
Yet… she couldn't stand knowing that it would be her not Harry or Hermione to be the one to save his dignity. Would he even believe her? Would his pride allow the truth to penetrate that stubborn facade.
He had to know. It would be more cruel now to let it lie than to feed him the bitter pill. She took off for the kitchen, hoping she would be able to spot him in the garden. The ghoul in the attic would have been fed by now and she knew her brother wouldn't want to waste the remaining summer holiday sun locked up indoors.
She pushed the door open and let the warm beams of the day hit her face. The tears on her cheeks stung slightly, she rubbed them harshly with the sleeve of her top and made for the garden shed. The door was open but the space was empty meaning Ron had no doubt already made off for the large field across the way, his broom in hand ready to practice his flying. Thoughts of the school's Quidditch trials heavy in his mind.
She slammed the palm of her hand onto the wall of the shed and turned to catch him up but her path was obstruct however by the one person she couldn't bare to rest her eyes upon. Harry moved in close, his face ripe with concern. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her towards the empty shed. Her arm stiffened and she resisted, keeping her eyes cast to the sun bleached surface of the floor.
"Hermione please." Harry's voice was coated in desperation. She looked up and let her eyes fall onto his face. The same face she'd spent the best part of the summer stealing glances of. She relented her stance and followed him into the dusty space.
"Ginny I'm so sorry."
"Don't!" She snapped, wrenching her hand away from his. "Please don't." She couldn't bare it. She clenched her fists and turned away from him.
"Ginny I didn't know you-"
"Yes you did." She cut in, her voice barely more than a whisper. "Please don't make it worse."
"It just happened. Hermione never told me how she felt."
"Of course she didn't." Ginny turned to face him again. She leaned against the shed wall her arms behind her back. "She knew how I felt."
"I told her." She answered simply shrugging her shoulders. "She didn't tell you for exactly the same reason you haven't told Ron."
Harry remained silent but he didn't take his eyes off her. She wished he would, it made all this so much more difficult. Those piercing green eyes that so often had the power to render her speechless were now bringing her to the verge of tears.
"You have no idea how hard it's been to see you with Cho. Waiting for my chance, wanting you to notice, certain you'll realise any day… stupid little girl." She muttered to herself.
Harry took a tentative step closer to her. "Ginny I really had no idea you were so serious about me."
"Well now you do." Ginny said daring to let a hint of hope guild her words. "So now that you know…" she let her voice trail off and left her eyes to finish her intent.
"Ginny I…" Harry stuttered over his words. He finally let his eyes flick away from her face.
This simple action brought with it a crushing sense of finality that hammered down onto her shoulders. Her stomach twisted like a bag of snakes. She felt a defeated smile leak onto her lips. He didn't need to say anymore.
"It was always you." She admitted. She couldn't look at him, yet images of his face shifted in her mind. Years of school and summers at the Burrow. All hope had gone and this overwhelmed her. She felt the tears start to crash like a tidal wave at the lids of her eyes, she held them back.
She would not cry. Not in front of him.
"Have you never once thought about it, thought about me… like that?" She had to know. To never ask would leave a hole in her chest the size of the Black Lake. A nagging question that would follow her round for years.
"Ginny. You're Ron's sister…"
"I know that perfectly well thank you very much!" She felt anger pinch at her lips, twisting the corners downwards.
"Ron would have never forgiven me."
"YOU'RE SNOGGING HERMIONE!" She flung her hands up wildly, glaring at him.
"I know Ginny but… I…" Harry looked defeated.
"You what?" She took a step towards him as he backed away. She was close enough to feel his breath on her face.
"I love h-"
Ginny felt a jolt of panic shudder down her spine. Something inside her screamed. A long sorrowful wail deep within. She took another step forward without thinking, grasping onto his collar. He stumbled backwards into a stack of old Cleansweep Sevens, letting the last remnants of her childhood clatter to the floor. Ginny leaned upwards and kissed him fiercely. Years and years of longing forcing her hands to meet his face. She wrapped them round his neck pulling him closer.
For a brief moment the memory of this morning vanished from her head. A blissful punch to her heart like a volt of electricity. The heat from his body, the smell of his hair. He would finally realise, he must.
Then his hands gently found her shoulders, pressure placed lightly against them forcing their chests apart, her lips still feeling the touch of his but no longer placed in reality. She could see his eyes. They probed hers, begging for understanding.
A sympathetic smile replaced her touch on his lips. He may as well have slapped her across the face. She pushed him back, slamming the palms of her hands into his chest. She glared at him accusingly as if he'd been the one to initiate the kiss.
Her dreams of this moment had proven to be false. Her last hope was shattered now that her final move had been made. Her arms shook so she shoved them deep into her jeans pockets. She looked over his shoulder keeping her mind numb, her feelings cold.
"Just tell Ron. Please don't make me do it."
He answered her plea with a solemn nod, resolve in his eyes.
Broken pieces of her heart littered the floor beneath her feet. She gave him one last look, a whole childhood's worth of affection dwelled within it.
"I love you Harry." She turned and left him, forcing her feet to move and her tattered heart to keep on beating.