Chapter 6 : Seventeen Forever
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You are young, and I am scared
You're wise beyond your years, but I don't care
And I can feel your heartbeat
You know exactly where to take me
"Seventeen Forever"- Metro station
A/N:Just a heads up, the entire gift giving scene is borrowed from JK Rowling as is any other familiar part you may recognise. Apart from that, I hope you enjoy this chapter and can understand some of the blossiming going on between certain characters. As always, read and review. I look forward to hearing from you =) enjoy!
The next day, Harry lay wide-awake in Ron's bedroom, trying to make sense of the foreign feelings he had been harboring lately. Ever since Hermione and Ron broke up, Harry had become increasingly aware of the amount of time Hermione was spending with him. Harry certainly didn't mind. He was also taking notice of the strange feeling he got whenever she gave him comforting words or held his hands. It made no sense to him why he was feeling this way. Hermione was his closest friend, the hand-holding and embraces were second nature. It was something that had been going on for as long as he could remember. Yet, over the past few days, he was experiencing new feelings about every little thing they did together. He had enough experience to grasp just what his body was telling him. Somehow, without any control, he had been developing non-platonic feelings for Hermione.
"Hey mate, you up?" said Ron from the bed next to him.
"Yeah." said Harry.
"Happy birthday!" Ron said brightly.
"Oh uhm…thanks. I had actually forgotten it was." said Harry honestly.
"Here" said Ron walking towards him with a small, and brightly wrapped, rectangular present. "I got you something."
"Oh thanks." said Harry retrieving it. He wrenched it open and was met with a book. "A book? Turning into Hermione now are you?"
"Nah" said Ron laughing. "Its loads better than any book Hermione could ever give you. This one is for very important things. It's the decoder of the mystery that is the female mind."
Harry turned the book over and read the title. The Seven fail proof ways to charm witches. It was the same book Ron and Hermione had broken up over.
"It's amazing. It answers all the questions any bloke has ever had on girls and the way to approach them." said Ron as he showed Harry the book's contents. "And it's guaranteed to work…well at least with most girls."
"And you would know how?" Harry asked.
"Well…" said Ron sheepishly. "I may have tried it on someone other than Hermione."
"Luna." Ron answered, turning bright red.
"Luna? So that's the reason you'd always apparate here after you and Hermione rowed." exclaimed Harry.
"No, no not necessarily." said Ron defensively. "But she has been coming by more often because of Ginny."
"So you fancy Luna now?" Harry asked in disbelief. "After you took the Mickey out of me for taking her to Slughorn's party?"
"Feelings can change." Ron shrugged. "I don't know if I fancy her per se…but it is really easy talk to her. She's nice."
"I hope that doesn't bother you." said Ron a few minutes later. "I know Hermione's like a sister to you and I don't want you thinking I was doing anything behind her back."
"No not at all." said Harry absentmindedly.
Like a sister, that's all she was. Yet he couldn't explain the new feelings he had been experiencing for her lately. Whatever they were, they were definitely not just brotherly feelings. Of that at least, he was sure. He looked down at the book Ron had given him as Ron walked back to his bed and made it. Harry made a mental note to be sure to hide it from Hermione; he didn't want her to believe he needed a book to know how to treat her. There had always been an instinct when it came to all things concerning Hermione.
"So…Hermione's been preparing stuff for our departure." said Ron looking out his window.
"Has she?' Harry asked taken aback.
"Yeah, she reckons we should be ready for any opportunity." said Ron. "Always one step ahead that one."
"Yeah" Harry agreed. "In a way that's good though,"
Together, they headed downstairs where Harry was greeted with hugs and cheers. had prepared a vast breakfast for them all, as was usual. Fleur's parents had arrived, making the kitchen seem evermore crowded. Once finished, Harry noticed there were presents set out in the living room, which overwhelmed him.
"You're definitely not in Privet Drive anymore are you?" said a familiar voice behind him.
Harry turned around facing Hermione, who was holding a neatly wrapped present in her hands, smiling kindly at him.
"Happy birthday Harry!" she beamed as she rushed forward and hugged him. "I really wish I could've given you something better but-"
"Its fine, you shouldn't have anyway."
Hermione watched eagerly as Harry ripped through the paper.
"A Sneakascope!" Harry said excitedly. "Thanks Hermione."
He didn't know what made him do it, but he stepped forward and gave her a peck on the cheek. Leaving them both visibly flustered.
"Wow, all this for a Sneakascope?" Hermione said jokily.
"No, it's for just being you."
Although he genuinely meant it, and Hermione was obviously flattered, Harry couldn't help but feel the awkwardness lingering in the air. He was immediately relieved when they were joined by Ron.
"What did you give him?"Ron asked Hermione
"A sneakascope." Hermione replied. "You?"
"Oh just-Hey look Harry…wow Fred and George really went all out." said Ron ogling the huge basket of Weasley Wizard Wheezes products.
Harry knew why Ron was so bent on avoiding answering Hermione's question and was glad he hadn't answered. The last thing he wanted was for Hermione to get mad at him over the same book that had cost Ron a relationship with her. He proceeded to open the remaining presents. As time went on, the kitchen was becoming increasingly stuffy, prompting Harry, Ron, and Hermione to step away.
"I'll get a head start on packing this Harry." said Hermione levitating the gifts with her wand.
"Just how are you managing to pack all this stuff? How can we possibly carry all of that on our backs?" Harry asked incredulously.
"You just leave that all to Me." said Hermione. "I've had it sorted for weeks; I'm actually nearly done with everything."
"Everything?" Harry asked
"Yes, including unmentionables" said Hermione blushing.
"What?" Ron asked outrageously
"Oh come on, we all know what underwear looks like!" said Hermione defensively. "It's not like I went through them all individually and observed them!"
"I would hope not!" said Ron annoyed.
Hermione sighed impatiently.
"I'm going to pack," she said, rolling her eyes at Ron one last time before heading upstairs.
"I can't believe she went through my underwear." said Ron whispered ashamedly. "Underwear- seeing privilege is gone once you're an ex."
Harry looked at Ron with an alarmed expression. It was much more information than he had ever wanted to hear.
"That came out completely wrong," said Ron sheepishly. "I'm not saying she or Lavender saw it before or anything-"
"Please, for both our sakes just stop."
"Agreed." said Ron.
Together, Harry and Ron went up the stairs en route to Ron's bedroom. As they reached the first floor, what harry knew to be Ginny's room door opened. It hit Ron in the back.
"Ow! What the— Ginny, do you have to wrench your door open like that?" said Ron rubbing the back of his head.
"Sorry Ron, how was I supposed to know you were passing by exactly as I was opening the door?" Ginny said impatiently as she spotted Harry.
"Hey harry, I was just about to look for you" said Ginny stepping completely out of her door. "I kind of need to talk to you…alone."
Harry and Ginny both looked over at Ron, who seemed all too reluctant to leave. Harry found himself hoping that he wouldn't. He had been dreading being left alone with Ginny since he came to The Burrow. Especially after Ron told him Ginny still had hope that they could get back together.
Ron slowly backed away and continued on the way he was heading.
"What is it you wanted to talk about?" Harry asked nervously.
Ginny looked all around before she spoke.
"Not here." She said, taking by surprise and pulling him in her bedroom.
It had just occurred to Harry that he had never seen it. He had never been as close to Ginny as to come seek her and talk in her room all those years before. Not that would have approved. He was sure she definitely wouldn't do so now. It was a typical teenage girl's room. The window's curtains were drawn, making the sun flood in. There were girly details everywhere, doilies, old stuffed animals, and moving posters of attractive male Quidditch players. There were also the occasional not so girly items like brooms and books about broom maintenance and Quidditch.
"I've been meaning to talk you for a while now." said Ginny. "But first thing is first, happy birthday."
She stepped forward and Harry could tell she had been aiming for his lips, but sensing his more than obvious hesitation, ended changing destination and her lips landed on his cheek.
"Thank you." said Harry awkwardly.
"I know that you'll more than likely be leaving soon and that that information will not be disclosed to Me." said Ginny sadly. "My brother was more than clear on that."
"I know that I probably won't see you for a long time, and I just wanted to know if I would be wasting my time if I pined away for you." She said looking at him dead in the eyes.
"I know that we broke up after Dumbledore's funeral but I just feel like it was all in the heat of the moment." She continued. "And maybe now that the smoke has cleared, you'll give us another chance?"
Harry stepped away from her, shaking his head gently.
"No, I'm sorry."
He saw tears for in her brown eyes, eyes that were so much like 's.
"I don't understand. You say you want no one to get hurt, you don't want to give Voldemort more reasons to kill people you care for." she said shakily. "But why am I the one being hurt right now? Why am I being left behind?"
"Ginny, Ron and Hermione have been in on everything from the very beginning. I have tried to talk them out of it but, I can't change their mind." Harry explained, "You're young, and you're Ron's sister, I couldn't handle the guilt of you losing your life for what you feel for me."
"And you can handle the guilt of them losing theirs?"
"Of course not!"
"Then why am I the exception?" Ginny asked angrily.
"Because…apart from all of that, the reason I can't get back with you is because my feelings for you are no longer there."
Ginny furrowed her brows as she tried to be the same stony faced, strong woman she had been all her life.
"Where are they then?"
"Ginny, I don't have room in my mind or life for love right now."
"You sure that's the reason? Or it more because you're now switching to Hermione?"
"What?" Harry said outrageously.
"I know I'm not the first person to spot it. Everyone has. Except for you two." said Ginny sadly. "I was just hoping that maybe I was wrong in judgment."
"Hermione and I are just friends. That's all we've ever been."
"Harry, I'm sorry but I'm really over this and your denial." Ginny interrupted impatiently. "Anyone can see it. You may say it's all because of the war, but deep down we both know that the only reason why you sought me was because you couldn't get with her. I've served my purpose"
Harry was speechless. His mind was at a complete loss for words. Why was everyone bent on with seeing more between Hermione and him that was actually there?
"I may be young, but I'm adult enough to admit defeat when I see it." She said. "And if you want to continue using the war as an excuse, then use it as a reason to get with her, because we never know how this will all end."
Ginny caressed his face one last time before she assertively pulled him out of her room, slamming the door behind him. He could hear small sobs within it
Once outside, Harry had no idea what had just happened. How did it all end up turning into a conversation about his feelings for Hermione? What feelings were all these people seeing? Hermione was special to him, he was aware of it. She was his closest friend, and unlike Ron, she had always been there even when his named was being battered with negativity. How could he not set her above the rest? She had seen him at his absolute worse; she had even been injured because of being his friend many times. He couldn't help it if people misunderstood it for something else. Hermione was one of the most important people in his life and there was very little that could change that.
"You okay?" Hermione asked compassionately as Harry appeared on Ron's floor.
"Ron told me Ginny was talking to you." She said, "You two sorted everything out?"
"I guess you can call it that."
"I'm sensing it was rough." said Hermione as she patted down the empty space of the bench outside Ron's room where she was sitting.
Harry sat down next to her, dispirited.
"I'm okay; it's Ginny who isn't taking it as well. I wish I could do something."
"I'll go and comfort her if you'd like." said Hermione helpfully.
"That would actually be a bad idea." Harry told her.
Hermione looked at him confusedly.
"Ginny has joined the growing group of people that have the impression you and I have feelings for one another," said Harry chuckling despite himself.
"Is that so?"
"Yeah, I really don't understand where they get that." said Harry.
"Yeah…" said Hermione looking away.
Harry felt her slide away from him slightly.
"Maybe we shouldn't be so attached at the hip, especially if it's costing you something with Ginny."
"Ginny and I have been over for a while." Harry reassured. "You're just the easy scapegoat. Besides, why should we change who we are? I'm not ashamed of my bond with you."
Harry reached down and placed his hand on top of hers on the bench.
"You're so sweet." said Hermione tenderly. "I am so grateful to know you."
Harry smiled at her.
They gazed at each other for a while longer. Harry was sensing a change in the way he was looking at her. He was enveloped in warmth by just her hand touching his. Could this foreign feeling be the one that so many people had spoken about? Was he really having feelings for Hermione? feelings that went beyond those of a best friend?
Before he could think any further, Ron's door wrenched open and his hand immediately retracted itself from above Hermione's. He found himself jumping and walking slightly away from her, as if walking away from something he shouldn't be near to.
"Oh good you're out." said Ron looking oddly relieved. "Listen mate…I know we're close and all but I'm not all too comfortable with you and Ginny alone in her bedroom…"
Ron was leading Harry roughly into his room, making evident that he wanted to talk to Harry alone. He went along reluctantly, looking back apologetically to Hermione. However, his look went unnoticed as Hermione was looking down and slightly disappointed. He could only furrow his brow in confusion before the door blocked her from view.
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