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Chapter 7 : Desperately
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Oh why can't I ignore it?
I keep giving it in but I should know better
'Cause there was something 'bout the way you looked at me
And it's strange that things change ,but not me wanting you so desperately
-"Desperately"- Michelle Branch
Hermione remained seated in the same way she had been before Ron had shown up and dragged Harry along with him. She couldn't help but feel flustered at the thought of what could've happened if Ron hadn't shown up. The feelings she had been experiencing as of late were unexplainable. Just when did her love for Harry turn into the romantic kind? She felt uneasiness in her stomach whenever they touched. Just the slightest brush caused a rush of excitement like never before. The simple act of looking at Harry in the eye while she spoke to him was proving difficult every day. Was Harry feeling it too? Why was he so jumpy when Ron showed up? She was so focused in her thoughts that she had almost missed a teary-eyed Ginny walking towards her, to Ron's room.
"Ginny?" Hermione asked as she heard her sniffle. "Are you okay?"
Ginny seemed surprised that Hermione was there. Wide-eyed, she turned on her heel and sprinted the opposite way.
"Ginny wait!" said Hermione speeding after her.
"Leave me alone Hermione." said Ginny.
"Ginny please, we need to talk."
Ginny turned around unexpectedly. Her fiery red hair swiveling around her and clinging to her wet face as she stopped. She looked more hurt than angry, despite the distinctive red color of her face.
"No offense Hermione, but you are the last person I want to talk to."
"Ginny, I don't want you for one second thinking that Harry and I have anything going on." said Hermione genuinely. "We're just really close friends. That's all we are."
"Yeah, close friends who really are something more, only they're too scared or clueless to see it." She responded. "If you two really want to make the whole friend thing believable, why don't you stop telling each other everything!"
Ginny held up her hand, silencing Hermione.
"You may be good at hiding your feelings from others," she continued. "Harry and Ron may not have a clue… but you're dealing with a girl here. You and I know that girls are much more aware of things than boys are."
"I know what love looks like. When you love someone, you can read their mind without a word." said Ginny "You can see past the lie when they tell you they're okay, because you know better than to believe them."
"Ginny, I don't-"
"Why do you want to keep lying Hermione?" Ginny asked impatiently. "I saw it."
Hermione was confused. She had no idea what she could be referring to.
"The change, between you and him…once he and I started dating."
Hermione could only open and close her mouth, like an Asphyxiating fish out of water. She wasn't going to deny that something strange occurred in their sixth year. They weren't the same people they had been the year before. She was definitely not happy to see Harry with Ginny, but for the first time in ages, Harry was genuinely happy. That was worth more than anything to her. However, she did not think it was fair for all the blame to fall on her. Harry could've done his part too. For some reason, he had distanced himself from her that year. It was something that had gotten the best of her, making her spend most of the year in foul mood that made her do unusual things. Things like her intense focus on Ron, and her ridiculous attempts to get him to notice her. Of course, she cared for Ron. He was her best friend too. Yet, that's where it all ended. She had developed a crush on Ron. In her younger years, when the hormones were at their peak and it seemed typical to like someone you always fought with. Now, as a wiser young woman, she knew that wasn't a healthy foundation for a relationship. She loved Ron. How could she not after spending so many years as friends? but that did not ever mean their fights got any more tolerable. The only reason why she even considered him romantically was because whom she really wanted was taken, and he was the only better option left. She didn't exactly know when she had developed romantic feelings for Harry all she knew, was that it was a secret she would have to take to the grave, because nothing could ever come of it.
"I know you tried your best to hide it" said Ginny, smiling despite herself. "but there's just some things you can't hide."
Hermione looked at her, almost apologetically. Why continue lying when she was being outed? Ginny wasn't a fool. She knew…
"I'm so sorry!" Hermione whispered as tears escaped from her eyes. "I couldn't…I tried so hard!"
Hermione didn't know why it hurt so much to be admitting something so natural. She fell in love with her best friend. She wasn't the first nor would she be the last. In a way, she assumed that the reason it hurt so much was because she had tried so hard to convince herself it wasn't true. Years of bottling it all inside, and denying something inevitable took its toll.
Ginny rushed forward and hugged her.
"Why are you apologizing?"
"Because I knew better, I knew we weren't meant to be. Yet I still did it, still felt it."
Ginny pulled away and looked at Hermione in the eyes.
"You don't have to apologize for not being able to boss around your heart." said Ginny chuckling. "I've been there. I know what it's like. You can't help it."
"And if anyone here is to blame," Ginny continued reassuringly. "It's me, because I saw it, but I still thought that maybe in some glorious way, I was wrong."
"I just wish this wasn't such a mess." said Hermione wiping her eyes.
"I'm not angry." Ginny said simply. "Hurt…obviously, but not angry."
"Ginny, you're the closest female friend I have, and I want you to know that I never—"
"I know Hermione!" said Ginny."I know…"
"Besides… even if you didn't fancy him, it wouldn't change anything. I guess I just didn't fill the bill for him." Ginny added sadly. "but maybe…you'll be luckier…"
The two girls wiped their small tears as they both tried to gain composure.
"We should really start getting for the wedding…"said Hermione.
"We really should," said Ginny laughing. "We have to start off erasing all traces of tears, the last thing we need is for the boys to think we've been crying because of the wedding."
"We'd never hear the end of it!" said Hermione jokingly.
Together, they started going through all the potions and make-up that would be needed to transform them from ordinary to glamorous. Despite of the heavy scene that had just unfolded, Hermione felt as if she had gotten even closer to Ginny and a little more hopeful that maybe, something happening between her and Harry wasn't too out of reach.
Harry was sitting in the window seat in Ron's bedroom, the Snitch in and hand and his eyes absentmindedly surveying the preparations of Bill and Fleur's wedding. There were objects levitated, flying themselves into place. Chairs were arranging themselves into neat rows as pieces of airy fabric unfurled, itself from the top of giant canopy that would shelter the guests. The dance floor was being set immediately outside it, with the band's group members setting up their instruments. Last minute centerpieces and ornaments were flying back and forth to their destinations. He couldn't help but feel a little pleased he was about to partake in something as natural as a wedding. Probably one of the last ordinary things he'd be able to do. He looked absentmindedly at the heirloom Dumbledore had given him. Neither the snitch nor any of the other stuff Dumbledore left him, Ron, and Hermione made any sense. He couldn't help but feel disappointed. He was sure that once they examined all the items, help would be hidden inside. Yet, they were just as clueless and unprepared as they had been before receiving them.
"Hey mate, you ready?" said Ron, coming into the room for one last check in the mirror.
"I guess," Harry shrugged. "Have you seen Hermione? I want her to pack the snitch, I don't think I'm going to be able to get anything thing out of this anytime soon."
"Nah, I reckon she's still in Ginny's room." said Ron patting down his dress robes. "You know how long girls take."
"Speaking of Ginny," said Ron turning to face Harry "I saw her a little upset earlier today…"
"Yeah, we had to clear up some stuff." said Harry sheepishly.
"Like?" Ron asked inquisitively.
"If we were officially over and stuff…I think she knows now."
"How did she take it?" Ron asked. "Did she make a big scene?"
"No. actually she took it pretty well. The only thing she brought up was the famous 'something-going-on-between-Hermione-and-I' scenario." said Harry. " I'm used to that bit. Otherwise, I'd say it went better than I was expecting."
"Wait…what about the 'something-going-on-with-Hermione' bit. What do you mean by that?" asked Ron confusedly.
Harry felt his face burning with embarrassment. Mentally kicking himself for not having kept that part to himself.
"Oh..." said Ron catching on. "She walked on one of the famous Harry/Hermione therapy sessions did she?"
"What?" Harry asked amused.
"That's what I call them. You two can always be found comforting each other for one reason or another." said Ron snickering. "It's a bit annoying actually. Now I see why so many people assumed there was always something between you two."
"If I didn't know any better I'd say they're probably right." he added as a secon thought.
"Apparently a guy can't be close to a girl without it being assumed something's going on." said Harry feeling annoyed.
Ron eyed him suspiciously
"Why are you getting all defensive for?"
"I'm not being defensive!" Harry exclaimed.
Harry walked across the room to distance himself from him. Now Ron was joining the annoying group of people who thought he and Hermione were together. It was all really starting to annoy him.
"Why do you keep looking in the mirror?" Harry asked, turning the tables on him. "Making sure you look crisp for Luna?"
"Now who's being defensive?" Harry said chuckling.
Harry stood outside with Ron, on the yard helping in any way they could. They ended being assigned to sit people in designated areas, along with help from Fred and George. Fred however was much more interested in helping a group of French girls, which were more than likely relatives of Fleur because the family resemblance was clearly visible. He had yet to see any sign of Hermione. Every time he heard the door open, he craned his next to see if it was her.
"Who are you looking for?" Ron asked curiously.
"I'm not looking for anyone, I'm just looking around." said Harry.
"Right…" said Ron jokingly. "Well if anyone is a code for Hermione, you're going to get a sore neck for nothing because she's still upstairs getting ready."
"Why do you keep trying to imply things? You've been doing it all day." asked Harry impatiently.
"Oh hey look!' said Ron completely disregarding Harry's question. "The Lovegood's are here!"
Sure enough, a few feet ahead, Harry spotted Luna. She was sporting a bright yellow dress, which lost out competition with the big sunflower in her hair. It was a very bright dress, but once you got acquired to it, it wasn't all that bad. It was a dress only Luna could be able to pull off without looking insane. Harry was used to her eccentricities, he was fond of her even though she didn't make sense at times.
"Hello Luna." Harry said brightly.
"Hello Harry, Hello Ronald. This is my father." said Luna pointing unnecessarily at the blindly dressed man standing next to her.
He was wearing dress robes of a similar shade to Luna's only more blinding…if that was even possible. He had thin, shoulder length white hair and a cap with a tassel on the top as a hat. What caught Harry's attention was the long necklace hanging off his neck. It had a triangular looking eye as a pendent. No doubt a symbol only Luna's family would know and understand.
"Xenophilus Lovegood." He said shaking Ron's hand. "We live just over the hill, though I'm sure you know that. I've talked to your dad a few times over the year. Really nice of you all to invite us."
"Oh no problem." said Ron dismissively. "Besides Luna here is like a family friend. We had to invite her and her family."
Luna beamed at Ron.
"Am I really a family friend?" she asked in shock.
"Yes, how could you not assume that already with all the time you've been spending here this summer?" Ron joked.
Harry sensed Ron wanted to talk to Luna so he discretely made his way to the other side of the yard, closer to a table filled with refreshments for those helping out.
"Hey Harry." said Hermione's voice.
Harry whipped immediately around. She looked stunning. She was wearing a light lavender dress, which was very flowy at the bottom. Her hair was shiny and slick, very unlike the slightly frizzy curls she usually wore. It was almost the same reaction he had when he saw her in her Yule ball gown three years ago. The only difference now was that she was clearly not the same young girl anymore. Somehow, unbeknownst to Harry, she had become a woman. Her dress was very form fitting, something Hermione usually tended to shy away from usually. He couldn't understand why. From what he could tell, she had a svelte body.
'Why am I noticing this?' Harry asked himself frantically.
"Hey Hermione, you look amazing." said Harry after recuperating from his shock.
"Thank you." Hermione answered blushing. "You don't look so bad yourself."
"Where's Ron?" she asked.
"Oh…er he's with…Luna." He said trailing off uncertainly, pointing to Ron's direction.
Ron had a broad grin on his face as Luna was talking with him. It was an expression Harry had only seen once, when Ron had unwittingly taken love potion in their sixth year. He was too afraid to see Hermione's reaction to the scene.
"Well…nice to see there's someone who he isn't a complete git with." said Hermione without a hint of resentment.
"You're okay with this?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, I was after all the one who broke it off."
"I thought you'd be upset…"
"No," said Hermione dismissively. "I used to get uneasy around things like this, back when I was blissfully unaware of the mismatch we would make. Now, as friends I'm okay with it."
"Well that's good." said Harry genuinely. "I never would've thought anything would happen with Luna though, not after all the time he's spent making fun of her."
"Well you see," said Hermione matter-of-factly. "That's the thing with Ronald. That's how he deals with the ones he fancies, by making fun of them. Or fighting with them, like in my case."
"It's a good thing he got that book then right?" Harry asked musingly.
"That book is absolute rubbish if you ask me." said Hermione genuinley. "Honestly, understanding us isn't that hard! Boys on the other hand…"
"We're really easy." said Harry defensively.
"Right." Hermione scoffed.
Together they laughed, unaware of a presence behind them.
"Hello Herm-own-ninny." said a grave voice behind the pair of them.
Together they swiveled around and found themselves facing a familiar foreign face.
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