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A Morning Moment of Madness by Felonious Folts

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 8,706
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Scenes of a mild sexual nature

Genres: Fluff, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Hermione
Pairings: Harry/Hermione

First Published: 12/05/2009
Last Chapter: 08/18/2017
Last Updated: 08/18/2017

Summary:





A short piece that delves straight into the idea of the Harry/Hermione ship. Harry is enjoying his last few days of his summer holidays at the Burrow when a late morning wake up call changes his relationship with Hermione forever.

Banner by Felonious Folts


Chapter 1: A Morning Moment of Madness
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Note: I own nothing of Harry Potter apart form the hard copies I have on my bookshelf.

Harry lingered on the afterthoughts of his previous dream. Visions of Hermione whistled around his mind like a furious snitch. It seemed these days that the only dreams he had that did’t contain troubled images of death and destruction always happened to be of Hermione in some way or another. At first they merely confused him, causing him to spend lazy summer afternoons at the Burrow pondering what they could possibly mean but as the first day of term of his sixth year at Hogwarts grew nearer he couldn’t help but notice certain things about Hermione that were starting to peak his interest more so than they had ever done before.

In the past he never once gave thought to the subject of Hermione’s appearance, she had always been no different to Ron in that respect but now he found his gaze on more than one occasion following her around the room, noting how even bouts of bad moods and stressful homework related hair traumas did nothing to detract his odd longing to run his hand through it.

He’d considered a magical related madness to blame at one point and had even tried to convince himself that maybe Wrackspurts had invaded his brain and tampered with his thoughts before ashamedly reminding himself that they clearly did not exist.

It didn’t help ease his troubles when he started to suspect that Hermione herself may have notice this strange upsurge in Harry’s attention towards her. It was becoming habit to find himself being caught red-handed in his moments of observation by the very girl herself. Her dark brown eyes studying his face in deepest interest before he turned his attention on to something far less interesting, trying desperately to stem the rush of blood flowing to his face.

If wandering eyes and peculiar dreams had been his only problems then maybe he could have coped with it until they were back at Hogwarts but for the first time since he had known his two best friends Harry had started suffering from gut wrenching bouts of jealousy whenever he found the two of them alone together. Never once had this troubled him before but only two days ago Harry had walked out into the garden only to finding himself stomping back into the house again after spotting Ron and Hermione finishing their homework under one of the large apples trees. Well actually it was more Hermione doing the last of Ron’s homework "but what about me?" He thought to himself as he slammed the door to Ron’s room shut, would it hurt for them to invite him to study once in a while and maybe then Ron could be called away to help Mrs Weasley prepare dinner leaving the two of them to carry on without him. Would that be so bad?

His stomach twisted into tight envious knots as he lay in bed noting that being alone as he was now these thoughts only pressed and teased on his mind more.

But Ron was his best mate and Harry knew full well how he felt about Hermione, it didn’t take a whole lot of deduction to figure that one out. How could he be so selfish as to come along after years of non-involment only to declare his interest now and hope it did nothing to damage their firm relationship? “What about how bossy she is?” Harry thought to himself desperately trying to lodge her face from in front of his eyes. “Well she’s hardly as bad as she used to be.” he argued with himself, “and she only does it because she cares.” he let out a defeated sigh and continued to wrestle with his head to find more downsides only to come up dry having found a counter point to every one.

“Fine I’ll just suffer in silence then!” he grumbled out loud, punching his pillow into a more comfortable shape and laying his head on it. “So what if I like Hermione, she likes Ron so-” but at that moment Harry froze mid sentence as a sound intruded his inner struggle.

"Harry are you awake?" Hermione’s quiet voice floated through the room and twirled into his ears causing the blood in his body to run cold. He remained silent and pulled back his covers up to his nose, wishing he could Apparate under the bed.

"Harry?" her voice was much closer now as it crept into the room on effect of the opening door. He closed his eyes and waited. He listened to her soft footsteps as they pathed their way across Ron's bedroom, randomly stopping to pick up the odd sock and tossing it into the laundry basket. In mere moments she was by his bedside. Nothing was said but he could sense her touch before it hand even landed and relished the feel of her fingers running over his shoulders. She shook him softly and continued in a lilting whisper. "Harry, it's time to get up. Ron and Ginny want to start a game of Quidditch in the garden and it's not very even if you're not there… apparently." He could hear the edge of resentment in her voice. She had no doubt been sent up by Ron after being told in no short terms why she didn't count as one whole person in a game and that they needed Harry to make up for her. Still he didn't stir and wanted so much to meet the touch of her palm with his own hand but didn't dare move for fear of is retraction.

"Why they can't spend one day in peace I don't know." this was said as much to herself as it was to an apparent slumbering Harry, "After all you've been through surely a day or two of just being able to sit back and rest wouldn't go a miss would it?" Harry froze as she absent mindedly ran her hand up onto his cheek and then through his long locks of black hair. He considered it just to brush the strands from his face but her touch remained there far to long for that. "But then Ron wouldn’t’t know the first thing about being conservative would he… then again neither would you.” she added chuckling to herself. “I guess that’s part of your charm isn’t it Harry?” her whisper barley audible as she sat perched on his bed staring down at his sleeping face. She softly took hold of a handful of his hair and moved it back and forth, her other was already running the length of his arm. “One of the many reasons you seem to find your self invading my dreams at night… not that I mind but I’m sure you would.” again she laughed to herself busy tracing her finger up and down the length of his forearm, it was like electricity coursing it's way down his body. “Maybe I should brush up on my Quidditch skills? I bet I’d catch your interest then hey?” she patted the back of his hand with a weak smile and then let go, “Then again probably not.”

“I guess I’ll just have to be happy with being Hermione, Harry’s know-it-all friend… best friend, that’s not so bad is it?” her voice was much lower and breaking every so often as she ran her fingers across his brow, "If only I could say it to you, just once. Even if it's for you to tell me why we can only be friends. I know that's what you'd say of course but..." she let out a long sigh and continued to play with his hair. Then she moved back to his face and tenderly traced his cheek bones with her finger before running them over his lips, pushing lightly on them as if to steal an imaginary kiss.

"How can you be so sure?" Harry opened his eyes and looked straight into her startled face.

"Harry you're awake! I... I didn't... why didn‘t you say something!" she stammered and leaned back almost on the verge of tears but he grabbed hold of her arms and pulled her back. "How do you know what I'd say?" he asked again smiling at her as she tried desperately to look anywhere but his face, her complexion slowly leaking into a red tint.

"Harry I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it I was just being stupid." she choked back her tears and went to pull away again but she did not resist when he stopped her. "I'm just being silly." she shook her head and looked down. "I‘ve known you for years, I‘m around you all the time. I‘m bound to get a bit confused sometimes… right?" she chanced a look back at him but only long enough to catch him staring back at her, his eyes locked on hers and his heart hammering away in his chest.

“Do you feel confused now?” he asked quietly as he took his hand and ran it down the side of her cheek wiping away the few tears left there. She closed her eyes and held her breath before letting it out and shaking her head in reply. Harry’s head span as his mind ploughed on recklessly, “To hell with Ron, he had his chance and he never took it. Why should I miss out on something so good when I might be dead tomorrow?” they were stupid, shameful thoughts that caused him to feel slight pangs of guilt on occurrence but right now at this very moment all he cared about was the girl sitting in front of him, the girl who looked as if it was taking all her strength not to look directly back at him. Harry placed his hand on her face again and held her close pulling his arm around her slender waist. She tried to break free but he just held on all the tighter. She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand. "We can't." her voice barely registered as she tried to protest.

"Why not?" he asked in a low tone running his hand into her long bushy strands of hair. "You know why." she continued shaking slightly as she lingered on his touch. "Would it be so bad?" he replied taking her chin and forcing her to look into his face, “Can’t I be greedy just this once, keep you to myself?” he took hold of her neck and slowly pulled her face towards his. With every inch his eyes gained on her he revelled in the splendour of her familiar scent, the soft lines of her face, the intense longing in her shimmering eyes. He could feel her breath tickle his nose as they were a mere inch distance apart. He held her there and softly ran his lips over her cheek, dancing his mouth along her face teasing her with occasional glances from the sides of her lips. This was nothing like kissing Cho had been, nothing felt awkward or wrong about it. In fact Harry couldn’t’t believe just how normal it felt as he continued to kiss her face. Hermione closed her eyes and breathed heavily not letting herself succumb to the temptation to kiss back. He kissed her eyes and her nose with every part of his soul raging to divulge in the pink soft lips on her face until he finally went to plant his alone with no pretence onto hers.

"Hermione, Harry where the bloody hell are you?" Ron's voice came clattering up the stairs and intruded on their moment alone like a cold bucket of water. Hermione took a sharp intake of breath and pulled away before standing up and stumbling backwards into the wardrobe. She held her hand to her mouth and glared at Harry like he'd caught her doing something indecent. "Harry I..."

"Hermione, HERMOINE?" Ron was persistent in his unknowing act to disturb the two of them and seem to shake Hermione back to her senses. "Ron we're up here. Hang on." she shouted back before taking a further few steps away from his bed. "Harry I can't." the tears that she had done so well to keep lodged were falling in great lanes down her face as she shook her head. "I can't do this to..." she trailed off and looked towards the direction of the bedroom door.

For all the validity of her reason Harry couldn't help the anger selfishly rise within his own green heart and knelt up on his bed. "What about me Hermione? What about you? I meant what I said." he tried to bite back his anger but his voice still shook with jealous longing. "I don't want to share you anymore."

Hermione looked back at him shocked and for a moment he could have sworn a smile rippled across her face before she turned her head away. "Harry I just can't." she looked back at him and wiped her tear stained face on the sleeve of her jumper.

"Then let me?" he held out his hand to her, his fingers aching to grasp her. "Let Ron blame me. I'll take all the blame if it's for you." he stared back at her with every inch of his face begging for belief in his resolve.

Hermione took him in as if greedily eyeing a precious possession lost to her for so long and took a small step towards him, her hand rising from her side tentatively reaching out towards his even though they were still a whole room apart.

"Why is it I'm always the one looking for you and never the other way around? Not that I mind though." Ron's mumbles were still heard on their end as his footsteps faded away at the bottom of the stairs he had clearly decided she would come down in her own time and didn't bother to push the issue. Hermione looked pained and turned round rushing towards the door but stopping with her hand grasped firmly on the handle. "I..." but whatever she had to say she clearly couldn't manage as she wrenched open the door and walked out the room. The frame shook as it closed again with a finality in its echo that spoke more than her regret filled words ever could.

End.

If you got this far without stopping then thank you so much. It only started out as a fun piece to write with aim of practicing my writing but I really enjoyed the process, so much that if anyone would be willing to read it then I would be happy to try and write more and develop it into a longer piece.

Chapter 2: The Bigger Picture
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Harry sat stunned on his bed the morning sunlight craning its rays around the wobbly bedpost and into his eyes. He fell back and covered his eyes with his forearm. The sound of his racing pulse hammered inside his ears his hands shaking with shock and excitement. He touched his lips lightly with his fingers pushing them as if trying to replicate the same feeling Hermione's had left on them just moments ago.

The weight of five years of friendship came crashing down on him like lumber and of all the racing thoughts that spun inside his head one loomed more prominent than any and filled him with an odd mix of excitement, fear and sadness as it sat uncomfortable on his chest. "This is going to change everything." The statement was true and unavoidable though he had no idea of the outcome, nothing could be taken back, he'd done it. Had he gone too far? Had he let the moment get the better of him, should he have given more thought to such a reckless action?

The image of Hermione's retreating figure from the room hung in front of his eyes. Her pained tormented look, the moment of passion in her eyes extinguished upon the sound of Ron's voice, the tears cascading down her face as she turned away from him. It surprised Harry to realise what little thought he'd given Ron's feelings up until this point and a tight knot of guilt punched at his gut. At this moment he could not envision a way to be with Hermione and not completely wreck his best friend's life in the process. How could he possibly separate the two, how could he weigh each side and decide.

Harry remained in Ron's room for the rest of the morning until the sound of Mrs Weasley's voice came singing from the bottom of the stairs calling him for lunch. Harry sat perched on the windowsill and turned towards the door catching sight of himself in the bedroom mirror on the wardrobe. He still felt no better, no less unsure, no less guilty but no less elated by the thought of Hermione's admittance only hours earlier. He raked a hand through his hair and let out a long sigh rocking onto his feet as he made his way towards the stairs.

He could hear Ron and Ginny arguing in the kitchen, it was Quidditch related but was hard to make out the details from Ron's food filled mouth. Harry eased into the room and cast his gaze across the sunlit dining table. Ron was the first to notice his presence and raised his eyebrows, he pulled another buttered roll off the pile in the middle of the table and sat back sinking his teeth into it as he did so. "Afternoon." He grinned rolling his eyes and then narrowing them in his direction. "Where have you been? We needed you. Ginny plays far too dirty for my taste and Hermione wasn't even paying attention. He pointed a judging finger at his sister who merely shrugged and waved her fork at him. "You want to tryout for the team this year then you need to get used to proper game conditions Ron." She argued with a wry smile creeping across her lips.
"If you break my arm there won't be any trying out will there?" he shot back waving his bruised elbow to the room.

Ginny ignored her brother and grinned at Harry who smiled back as he wandered over to the kitchen sink to wash his hands. He was about to ask the whereabouts of Hermione when the girl herself came into the room via the open door leading to the garden. She stopped short in the entrance when she noticed Harry and cast her eyes between him, Ron and Ginny and went to take a step back into the garden but stopped, instead walking over to the kitchen table and sitting down on the chair next to Ginny. "Hi Harry." She greeted reaching for the Daily Prophet Ron had been using to wipe the butter off his bread knife. She didn't look his way and her voice caught a little in her throat, her cheeks slightly flushed her eyes scanning the pages desperately for something to focus on.

Ron frowned at her as he took in another mouthful of his lunch. "You alright?" He questioned giving her a puzzled look. Even Ron caught the hint of awkwardness in her voice and cast another puzzled look at Harry who merely shrugged as he joined them at the table.

"Of course I am." Hermione replied this time checking her tone and sounding her usual self. She cast a very brief glance at Harry before going back to the newspaper. Harry could understand Hermione's nervousness but he just didn't feel the same. The moment she had entered the kitchen he felt buoyed by the very sight of her. All the toing and froing and mental gymnastics his mind had been performing earlier had evaporated and right now it was taking all his composure not to lean across the table and kiss her.

"Morning Hermione." Harry replied. Hermione once again looked up from her reading and met her eyes with his. They both burst into a smile and started laughing. It was stupid and made no sense but Harry's heart raced and thumped, both their minds casting back to the events of this morning.

"Eh?" Was all Ron could mustered as he surveyed the two of them. Ginny too looked slightly perplexed. Remembering where she was Hermione rid herself of her smile and shook her head. "It's nothing. Really." She shot a glare at Harry then straightened the paper and held it high in front of her face. She remained that way throughout lunch and didn't so much as glance in Harry's direction until Ron had long left to feed the ghoul in the attic and Mrs Weasley had accosted her daughter into helping her clear out the twins room of all their old Snackbox that still lay in a jumbled pile in the corner of the room.

Harry sat there at the table leaning back on his chair and watched Hermione as she finished off her toast and went to work on the Daily Prophet's crossword which would be no small task in itself even if the clues didn't change at random intervals.

Harry waited patiently, hoping she would soon take a moment to cast her eyes his way or to put down the paper. After sitting in silence for fifteen minutes Harry finally gave up and rose from his chair moving round the table to sit in the one next to her. "So is this it then? Is this how we're going to carry on from now on? Not looking at each other and only traveling in groups to avoid being alone?" He leaned on the table with his arm and peered into her face a mischievous smile playing on his lips.

Hermione shifted awkwardly in her seat her stern determination to stay focuses on her crossword broken as she stifled a smile.

"I mean we could split the house down the middle for the rest of the summer if you'd like, so that we don't have to be in the same room together. You could take the the first two floors and I'll take Ron's room and the attic. I'm sure the ghoul will set me a place for dinner. I just hope he has his own bathroom or I'm in big trouble."

Hermione covered her mouth with the prophet and started laughing. She turned to look back at Harry grinning. "At least you'll have some company." She put the paper down on the table and pushed it to one side. She cast her gaze to the kitchen window and let out a long sign before turning her attention back to Harry once again.

"Look Harry, I'm not going to pretend what happened this morning wasn't..." Hermione flushed red and focused her eyes back onto the kitchen table. She laughed nervously, rubbing her nose gingerly before looking back at him. "This is so strange." She remarked to herself. She took a moment just staring back at Harry, the room silent apart from the sound of birdsong lilting in through the open window. She leaned her chin onto her hand whilst reaching up with the other, placing it onto Harry's chin, wiping off a spot of toothpaste. She ran her hand up to his hair and pushed it back holding it so his face was unobscured by his usual messy mane. Harry held his breath for what seemed like an eternity, it felt like something inside his mind had switched off momentarily rendering it useless, he felt stranded as if the gap between them was miles away when he need only lean forward to feel the heat of her breath, the touch of her lips... yet something was stopping him, something that had nothing to do with their surroundings. He looked at Hermione and could sense the same hesitance from this morning.

Hermione let her hand fall back to the table and cleared the emotion from her throat before she spoke. "But we can't." She tried to feign a stern tone but failed and hit somewhere between distant and disappointed. "I can't."

Harry went to reply but she shook her head and pressed her palm onto his chest. "You don't understand, it's not just Ron." Every word she spoke sounded wrapped up in guilt as she struggled to keep eye contact. "It's not only Ron we'd be hurting..." She stopped short of continuing her next words and instead looked over towards the entrance to the kitchen. "It's not the right time maybe in a few years..."

"Hermione listen I..."

"No Harry, you listen. How long have you felt like this, honestly?"

Harry was taken back by the question and frowned. He trawled back through his memories over the past few months, back to the bouts of jealousy and longing, the dreams and guilty thoughts. "Maybe since Christmas. It's hard to say but..."

"Try two years Harry." She replied her voice breaking slightly, gritting her teeth forcing her chin not to quiver.

Harry couldn't hide his shock. "That long? Why didn't..."

"Why didn't I say?" She cut him short and fixed him a determined look. "Well Cho for one thing and it's not as if I haven't thought about it Harry but..." She clenched her fingers tightly. "It not just some crush for me. It's not just curiosity, not just a passing thought."

"Oh and it is for me is it?" Harry couldn't help the hurt in his voice creeping up from his stomach.

"I don't know Harry but do you? Truly? I hate being so rational all the time but I can't just do what I want, not now. There are bigger things going on right now, bigger than you and me. If I tear things apart now, when so much is at stake when you need us, both of us with what's to come. I can't just..." she looked angry but Harry couldn't tell who it was directed at. Suddenly he felt a surge of guilt wash over him. He hadn't given thought to the months, years ahead. Not when it came to the two of them. He felt childish. The gap between them suddenly felt larger than ever. "But how can we go back to being just fr..."

"We just have to." Hermione glared at him suddenly letting the anger she felt at herself, towards Harry and towards the everything get the better of her. She shot up from her chair and turned away from Harry placing her hands on the kitchen counter. "Don't say that Harry, please don't say that." She turned to face him her eyes stern, her hands clenching the edge of the counter hard. "So that's it is it? After all these years. If this..." She motioned between the two of them, "...can't be what you want it to be then what, we just what?" Taking her eyes off him she looked down at the floor hiding her expression from him. "If I can cope with two years of watching you and Cho, being happy for you, hoping you work things out all the while I..." Her arms were trembling, she hunched her shoulders and buried her head deeper into her chest. "I didn't think you would ever... I thought I'd made my peace with it and now..." She shook her head as if trying to rid the memories of the last two years from her mind.

Harry got up from his seat, "But Hermione we can't just..."

"Fine have it your way. Let just ruin everything!" She pushed herself off the counter and walked over towards him, she grabbed his shirt with both hands and pulled him towards her. "You want to be selfish then have it your way." She hadn't planned on this but the swirl of emotions coursing through her took hold in a moment of blind madness. She leaned up and kissed him hard. Harry stumbled backwards and hit his legs against a kitchen chair which scrapped loudly across the floor. Harry placed one hand behind him onto the table and the other he instinctively placed on her waist. This kiss felt different to Harry than before this wasn't tender or cautious this was pure self indulgence, instinctive, something Harry had never felt from Hermione in all the years he'd known her. His head swam, the heavy touch from her lips intoxicating and exciting. Hermione ran her hand roughly through his hair and grabbed the back of it. Was she just angry or tired of holding back she didn't know, she wasn't thinking, she didn't care. She pulled her mouth from his and looked hard into his eyes, pushing her nose against his.

Harry stared back, he wanted Hermione more than anything, outside of this room right now the world didn't exist. There was no Ron diligently feeding the ghoul in the attic, no Ginny arguing with her mother over the state of her school uniform, no Voldermort hidden from sight plotting Harry's downfall, Harry's murder. He pressed his body into hers and she reciprocated, he kissed her again and again his hands running where they please, greedily taking in everything that was Hermione. His best friend, one of the few people who'd shared in every moment of happiness, every moment of doubt and every hardship. One of the few who didn't see him as "the chosen one" or "the boy who lived" just plain old Harry Potter, the scruff of a boy from the cupboard under the stairs and she wanted him not Ron Weasley, not Victor Krum, him.

It was a moment Harry never wanted to end but his eyes snapped open when he felt the dampness of Hermione's cheek on his, the taste of salt on his lips. He pulled away watching the slow track of tears roll down Hermione's face, the expression of joy and passion replaced with pain and agony in her eyes. He could see that this was as equally torturous for her as it was heaven. Hermione wouldn't be Hermione if it wasn't. Always seeing the bigger picture, always thinking of anyone but herself, be it a house elf who needed freedom or a best friend who thought the world of her, a best friend whose heart she would be breaking if he could only see them embracing now.

The moment sobered him and he pulled his body off hers. He was back in the Weasley's kitchen, back at The Burrow. The world outside crashed back into his life with the force of a tidal wave. They were both breathing heavily. He placed his hand gently on her forehead and rested his own against it. "I'm so sorry Hermione." He grasped her hand as he stepped away letting it slip away as he dropped his hands to his sides. "I wasn't thinking." He was finally seeing straight. He knew for sure this wasn't just some teenage crush, just a moment of madness, yet the certainty of this realisation made him see the bigger picture. What good was this feeling if he wasn't going to be around to explore it when the chance came around. Could he really be so selfish to trade a few years of contentment for a lifetime of bliss.

Never before had the fight ahead of him seemed so daunting, so terrifying.

"You will never lose me Hermione." Harry told her looking longingly into her eyes. "You're my best friend and you always will be."

Hermione smiled as another tear rolled down her cheek a hint of sadness returning to her features. The brief hint of selfish hope taking a step back from her eyes. She nodded heavily and pushed her hair from her face with a shaking hand. She looked defeated, her cheeks red, her chest still rising heavily as she regained her breath.

"So if we have to wait... five years, ten even..."

Hermione snapped her face upwards stunned. She looked momentarily confused before feeling another heavy wave of tears push against her eyelids. She bit them back.

"Then I'll wait." The certainty in his voice was unrelenting.

"You will?" Hermione asked trying not to let the relieved tone linger too heavily in her voice. She let her gaze rest content on Harry before letting it slip across the room taking a step back in shock as she registered the presence of another person in the room. Someone else standing at the kitchen door. The flaming red locks of hair tied into a ponytail, resting across her trembling shoulder. The fiery brown eyes staring back first to Hermione then to Harry, the shocked and hurt look in her them uncontainable. Ginny raised a hand to cover her mouth, she shot a final accusing look at Hermione before turning swiftly and running back into the hallway. Her footsteps echoing in Hermione's ears as they thundered up the stairs. The slam of Ginny's bedroom door rattling the panes of every window in the house, waking up the guilt ridden feelings Hermione had temporality discarded only moments ago.

Chapter 3: A Trusted Confidant
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Hermione froze unable to wrench her eyes from the empty kitchen doorway. The shock of being discovered had rooted her to the spot. She blinked hard and tried to swallow, her throat dry. For once her mind was failing her, each of the many thoughts she currently possessed had become jumbled and meant nothing, logic would not prevail and she cast her eyes helplessly to Harry who had also become momentarily struck dumb by the shock.

"How long was she there?" Harry questioned taking his eyes off Hermione and grasping the back of the kitchen chair.

"I don't know but... Oh Harry what have we done?" She covered her mouth with one hand and placed the other across her stomach. She felt sick, the panic that had rendered her speechless before had passed and now a pure vein of guilt was coursing through her. She unlike Harry knew that the consequences of Ginny's discovery held a far greater meaning than he currently understood. This was not how she had planned on broaching the subject with Ginny if she ever indeed would and now the prospect of dealing with the aftermath of their actions suddenly became far more daunting than ever. "How could I be so stupid!' She cursed herself, the Weasley's kitchen was hardly the perfect place to conduct such a scandalous scene regardless of how spontaneous the moment may have been. To do such a thing here of all places was nothing short of insulting and was fast becoming an action she regretted.

"I'll go talk to her." Harry said turning to make for the kitchen door. He was sure if he could just explain things clearly to Ginny he could hopefully convince her not to divulge the details to her brother at least not until Harry could do so himself.

"No Harry wait." Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him back towards her hard. "I'll go. You don't understand Harry it has to be me. Please" she couldn't subject Ginny to having Harry burst into her room to explain themselves. She could imagine if the same thing would happen to her and it made her blood run cold. "Just trust me please. Wait in the garden, I'll come see you afterwards. Don't talk to Ron not yet." She pushed Harry tersely towards the open door to the backyard and took off towards the stairway of the house. She took the first set at speed but gradually slowed down as Ginny's bedroom door loomed ever closer. Try as she might no words would come to her, no decent explanation, no considerate sentence. She wouldn't be able to talk her way out of this but she knew the truth would be devastating to Ginny and possibly a few more people depending on how Ginny decided to react.

She stopped at Ginny's door and wrung her hands together. Her frizzy hair was all over the place and she was sure her face remained flushed. She took long deep breaths and stared at the Chudley Cannons poster tacked to the door of Ginny's room. She knocked lightly three times and listened instantly for a reply from within. Nothing. "Ginny." Her voice sounded strained and anxious so she cleared her throat and knocked again. "Ginny it's me, can we talk." Something moved from within the room but no one answered. "Please."

"Hermione go away."

Hermione could tell instantly that Ginny had already been crying and her heart sank, she had never felt so low. She knew she couldn't leave, not now.

"Ginny let me in. Just let me explain." Hermione tried to push the door lightly but it didn't budge. She'd wait outside all day if she had to. "Ginny what you saw it... it wasn't meant to happen, I didn't plan on it, I..." Hermione felt helpless and placed a hand on the door. "I'm so sorry."

"Sorry?" She could hear Ginny's heavy footsteps approaching the door as it swung open with force causing Hermione to retract her hand and grasp it to her chest. Ginny stood defiantly at the entrance, her hair once tied now loose and tangled, her eyes not yet red from her tears but still holding the remnants of a recent heavy bout of them. Hermione couldn't tell if Ginny was furious or just merely devastated. Ginny wasn't one for crying and the look was alien on her face. Even the few occasions she had shed tears she rarely let anyone see her face. "You're sorry? Sorry for what? Sorry I caught you? Sorry for stabbing me in the back? Sorry for telling me to wait?" Her accusing tone was bubbling with anger but to Hermione's surprise yet another tear rolled down Ginny's face, she scrubbed at it forcefully with the sleeve of her top and turned back into the room walking over to her bedroom window grasping the sill tightly.

Hermione remained silent and entered the room quietly closing the door behind her. She walked over to the bed and perched herself on the side facing the window looking at Ginny's back. She was tempted to place a hand on her shoulder but thought better of it.

"I don't have an excuse Ginny, I've not come here for that. I just need to explain please."

Ginny turned and sat on the window side, her eyes defiantly staring daggers into the girl inside her room. "Go on then." She demanded crossing her arms in front of her.

"Look I know how you feel about Harry. I..."

"Of course you do. It was you I told. Remember? Or has all that snogging knocked it out your head?" Ginny looked fit to burst but took a deep breath and continued. "I told you because I thought you'd understand. You even encouraged me. Told me to just be myself, give it time, don't rush into it. Now I see you just wanted to make the opportunity for yourself. Didn't fancy the competition hey?"

Hermione's stomach turned. She cast her mind back to the girls Gryffindor dormitory. The night after a trip into Hogsmeade. She could vividly picture the moment Ginny confessed to her all her feelings for Harry. It was after seeing him and Cho inside Madam Puddifoot's tea shop. Though they didn't exactly look cosy the mere fact they were going on dates together had hit Ginny hard and the desperate need to seek some solace had fell to Hermione. Ginny knew she could trust Hermione with this, knew she wouldn't laugh, wouldn't tell. Truth is it gave Hermione comfort to know she wasn't the only one struggling to watch as Harry's time was being spent more and more often in the presence of Cho. It settled her and in giving Ginny advice it helped tend to her own wounded pride and jealous stripes she'd kept hidden so well.

"Please Ginny don't say that. I thought my chance with Harry was gone. I just wanted you to be happy. I just wanted you to..."

"Oh shut up. I poured my heart out to you. What an idiot. I was just pleased to have someone I could talk to about it. I didn't realise you were laughing at me the whole time." Ginny was going for anger but she looked more hurt than anything.

"I wasn't laughing at you. You're my friend Ginny. I just messed up. I should have told you how I felt I just..."

"You just what?"

"Oh come on! First Cho then you. What was the point. I didn't think I stood a chance. Me and Harry don't make sense but you... Cho..."

"Oh don't try and make me feel sorry for you Hermione it won't work. Don't insult me!"

"I'm not, I didn't realise Harry felt the same way till this morning. I'm sorry, I just got carried away."

Hearing this rendered Ginny silent, the daunting fact that Harry had returned Hermione's interest was slowly covering her like a cloud. The heavy bell of pain and jealousy ringing inside her frantic mind.

"But it doesn't matter, we're not going to do anything about it anyway." Hermione's voice trailed off and a sad lilt wrapped the last few words.

"Why?" Ginny frowned and momentarily the nettled sting had vacated her voice.

"Because of Ron that's why." Hermione clenched her fists and stared at the carpeted floor.

"It's a bit late to be worrying about my brother. Should have thought about that before you started kissing his best friend." The fight was back in Ginny's tone.

"It's not just that. It is that of course but... Harry needs him Ginny, he can't do all this alone, he..."

"Oh so you're just going to use my brother is that it. Keep him in the dark until it's over, wait until you two can reveal your dirty secret and then make a fool of him."

The accusation hit Hermione hard, the truth in Ginny's words was something she had tried not to consider. A way to make the decision easier.

"I..." Hermione had no retort. She felt ashamed of herself.

"My brother adores you. Don't pretend you don't at least have some idea." Ginny scowled. "You think I can watch you just walk all over him and drag this mess out until it's too late. The longer you lie the worse it'll be for him."

"You're right." Admitted Hermione, having someone else tell her this made the matter obvious, made her previous plan of action all the more ridiculous. "But how can I?"

"You're just going to have to. Ron doesn't owe the world anything and it's about time he knew the person he's risking everything for is sneaking around with someone else. Some friend you are." Ginny was being spiteful and she knew it but at this point in time watching a remorseful Hermione squirm was garnering her some small pleasure. "Actually knowing you you'll probably say one thing and do another all together." She spat the words, all the dreaming, all the plans, all the hope she'd had involving her and Harry were gradually fading in front of her eyes. "You know what maybe it would be better coming from someone who isn't out to ruin him." With that Ginny rose from the window sill and made for the bedroom door.

Hermione in a fit of panic shot up off the bed and made to grab Ginny's arm. "Ginny please don't."

She slapped Hermione's hand away and turned to face her, drawing up close and fixing her with a venomous stare. "I trusted you... And all this time you've only had yourself in mind. You may have fooled me but I won't let you fool my brother anymore." She pushed Hermione away who stumbled backwards and clattered into a chest of drawers. Ginny paused for a moment looking at Hermione something other than the rage she felt peppered her expression but after shaking her head she turned heel again and stormed out the room leaving Hermione alone. She was breathing heavily and fear had stuck her feet to the floor. She slammed her hand onto the wardrobe next to her forcing herself to get up and take off after Ginny letting the bedroom door slam shut behind her.




Chapter 4: The Bitterest Pill
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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.”

“How?”

“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.



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