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Hermione was advancing sluggishly to her next subject, Herbology. She felt really miserable for leaving her friends behind without saying further words. She knew they were talking about her behind her back, thoroughly worried that their friend was more and more withdrawing herself from the gang. Pressing her books tightly against her chest, Hermione released a long-suffering sigh, then pulled the knot of her scarf tighter under her chin. She looked on her shoes while walking, bumping suddenly into something soft.
“Sorry, didn’t see you,” mumbled a familiar female voice, which caused Hermione to flinch inwardly … she knew too well whom that pleasant-sounding voice belonged to. And again, she felt a wave of guilt coursing down her spine, felt tears pricking her eyes again. She knew it wasn’t only the cold breeze that made her shiver all over.
Slowly she inclined her head towards the person standing in front of her, feeling her heartbeat in her ribcage speeding the further she lifted her head, feeling a sharp pulsation in her ears. The wind seemed to have stopped blowing and turned everything around them into standstill.
“Cho,” Hermione said with a trembling in her voice, “it’s all right.” She dropped her head again to hide the tears that had formed in her eyes, to conceal the emotion she felt in that very moment. And then she went pass the black-haired girl without saying further words.
“Wait a second.” Cho grabbed Hermione’s arm. “We’ve talked about this already, haven’t we? Look at me, Hermione.” Cho tilted Hermione’s chin to face her, and pleaded, “We’re still friends. Please, don’t be like that.”
“Yes, of course. But unlike you I can’t pretend as if nothing had happened,” Hermione responded with glassy eyes, shaking off Cho’s hand and strode away. It took all of Hermione’s willpower to pretend being strong in front of the other girl. Though deep within she wished to be comforted when she felt like crying. By going past Cho she could’ve sworn to have heard a heavy sigh before leaving the Ravenclaw behind.
Ginny was left alone in the girl’s dormitory while the other girls went down for dinner. She had lost her appetite since she’d talked to Cho this afternoon. She didn’t know why, but it drove her extremely mad that Cho was more knowledgeable about Hermione’s current condition than her.
The door opened, and a bushy-haired girl with a rather distressed expression on her face appeared in the doorway.
“Hey!” Ginny startled and covered her body hastily with her bed cover. She had been changing her school uniform to something more comfortable and didn’t expect that someone would enter the dormitory in this moment.
The redhead smiled back when she realised that it was Hermione who entered the dormitory, unleashed the bed cover and fumbled for her wand from the bedside table. There was nothing both girls hadn’t seen on each other’s body now and then, since they shared a room at the Burrow when Hermione came for a visit. And dressing up in front of the other was something they had already made a habit.
“What’s eaten you?” Ginny looked into Hermione’s weary eyes, and sat down on the edge of her bed; with a flick of her wand she Accio her trunk from under the bed.
There came no response from Hermione. Ginny looked back at the other witch and suddenly knew why she wasn’t responding. Hermione scanned her eyes over Ginny’s body, watching her with a rather vague expression, while her cheeks starting to shade pink when she met Ginny’s puzzled look.
“What’s wrong, Hermione? You look as though you’ve never seen a girl in underwear before,” Ginny smirked, throwing a pillow at Hermione.
But Hermione blocked with her wand the pillow with a shielding spell, dropping suddenly her gaze on the ground. She came closer to Ginny and took a seat beside her friend. Hermione took Ginny’s hand into hers, it didn’t take long when Hermione’s tears started to run down her cheeks.
“Hey, don’t cry, please. Don’t cry, Hermione.” Ginny cupped with her free hand Hermione’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Make it stop. Make the confusions stop, Ginny,” mourned Hermione while Ginny was putting a hair lock out of Hermione’s face.
“What? Confusions about what, Hermione? You can tell me.”
Hermione kissed sisterly Ginny’s palm and smiled back softly, not looking into her eyes. She then stood up and stormed out of the room. She never looked back. It was then that Ginny realised what was going on with her friend. Or at least she had a suspicion.
Hermione was broken-hearted.
“Oh, Hermione, what stupid guy did this to you?”
Hermione was walking through the corridors of Hogwarts. The portraits left and right of her were looking curiously at the disconsolate Gryffindor girl. She was somewhat in a daze, staring at the ground in front of her feet, not noticing where she was going. Who would’ve thought that misery can lead one to desperate ends and desolated places? After all, it had led her here where her heart-wrenching sorrow had begun.
She descended a staircase and went along a dim hallway when she finally realised that she was in the dungeons. Hermione looked around her, and noticed the little corner where she had been with the Ravenclaw girl, Cho Chang, a couple of weeks ago, before she slipped into this devastating inner state called misery.
Hermione’s eyes were swimming in tears, and again, as if it was yesterday, she experienced the pleasure of that one single moment and consequently the bitterness of disappointment when the incidence happened, the moment when she confessed her true feelings for Cho Chang.
Hermione was holding Cho’s hand into hers, leading her in the dim corridors of the dungeons. At Cho’s request, Hermione held her wand on the other hand to chant up the Lumos spell, so that they would not be totally blind and the surroundings wouldn’t be so creepy.
“Hermione, where are we going?” laughed Cho, but with a tinge of nervousness in her voice, as if she was trying to hold back her fear.
The two girls came to a halt, right behind a corner where a silver armour was standing. “I – I just wanted to tell you a – um … secret,” Hermione uttered, holding up her luminous wand to scrutinise Cho’s pretty face.
“And that’s why you brought me all the way down here?” Cho smiled, trying to be patient.
“Because this secret concerns only me and you. I don’t want others to ever know about this, OK? Listen, Cho…” Hermione licked her lips and swallowed hard. Even though she’d memorised every single word she was going to tell Cho, she found it almost impossible to start.
“Go on,” Cho pushed, smiling sweetly, encouraging Hermione to continue.
“Cho, listen,” said Hermione, trying to keep her voice even and natural. She felt as though oxygen was not reaching her brain, and even though it was a bit chilly around them, she felt a layer of sweat forming on her forehead. “We’ve been so close the last couple of weeks. You’ve been to me like a best friend, or someone even more special,” enunciated Hermione, observing carefully Cho’s facial reaction.
Cho nodded in affirmation and Hermione continued.
“I – I mean, you’re gorgeous, you’re pretty, and I like you.” Hermione blushed slightly; she was worried that Cho might hear her boisterous heartbeats.
Cho lifted her lips to a faint smile and blushed crimson under the bright light of Hermione’s wand. “Really? I like you, too, Hermione,” she said softly, and Hermione thought that nothing in the world was sweeter than that very sentence of the charming Ravenclaw.
As though fireworks had exploded in her stomach, she swung her arms around Cho’s neck and Cho even returned the embrace. A cold shiver ran down her spine when she felt Cho’s breath close to her ear. Hermione loosened her grip and Cho followed suit. When Hermione glanced up, her eyes came across Cho’s lips, and without further thinking, she pressed her lips to Cho’s.
With their lips pressed against the other’s, they stood like that for a second or two, until Cho pulled away and gasped, bewilderment clearly drawn to her face. Hermione didn’t need to be master of logical thinking just to analyse Cho’s reaction. She felt utterly shattered and only wished the ground would open and consume her entirely.
“Yes, I certainly like you,” repeated Cho, her tone sounded pitiful this time. “I like you as a friend, Hermione. Nothing would ever change that between us.”
*End of flashback*
(A/N: Thanks to my beta-reader, Max82. Please point out the errors and mistakes in this chapter, I have changed a lot without re-submitting it to my beta.) LOL