Hermione got up the following morning and woke Ginny up. Parvati was snoring. There was only one other bed, as Lavander Brown had not come back and neither had the only other girl from the Gryffindor House in Ginny’s original class. The bed was empty and it was Ann’s.
"I don't wanna know where she is." Ginny said and they set off to the toilet downstairs.
They got dressed, got their things together and left for the Great Hall. They had breakfast and said goodbye because they were taking different exams. George and Ann were at the far end of the table snogging. Harry and Ron weren't taking any exams, so they were fast asleep in the room with the other three boys they had always done so. George was sleeping in the sixth year’s room, as he hadn’t passed his exams yet, he wasn’t a seventh year.
“Can you believe them?” Ginny said looking at her brother and the dark-haired girl.
“Like you and Harry have never done that.” Hermione answered.
Just then, what seemed to be a thousand owls came in holding letter and different size packages. Hermione got her Daily Prophet and quickly peeked through it.
“Nothing interesting. I bet the editors just want to start a new war, just to get the reader’s attention.”
“Look, there’s Errol!”
The poor old bird could barely fly any longer. It’s wings moved so slowly that Hermione was wondering how could it still be on air... But she guessed that the laws of physics didn’t apply to magical animals. It landed on Ginny’s bowl of cereals and when it got off it, it knocked down her orange juice glass.
The girls flicked their wands and cleaned the table and Ginny’s uniform. The redheaded took the letter from the owl.
“It’s my mother and it’s addressed to the five of us.” She said putting down her glass of orange juice.
To my five children starting Hogwarts this year.
Yes, I say five, because Harry and Hermione are like family. They have been for a while...
I simply wanted to wish you well on your first day. To those taking exams, the best of luck. To those who aren’t, try to find something productive to do this first week.
RONALD THAT MEANS NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE ENTIRE MORNING.
I’m just so proud of all of you, I know that none of you needed to go back, but it means so much to me that you chose to.
I just wanted to tell you how much I love every single one of you, just in case I don’t get the chance to tell you again.
Your father, or Arthur for some of you, sends your love, too.
“Ever since Fred, she’s been a little... you know...” Ginny said folding the letter.
Hermione had shed a tear. Her parents never said things like that. Well... they would never fully understand all she has been through.
“Are you crying? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you crying!” Ginny was amused by the situation, but she felt sorry for her friend and gave her a hug.
“It’s OK. I’m just being silly. I’ll write back later today. Make sure you show that letter to everyone.” She got up. “I have to go, and you, too. Bye!” And she left.
Hermione was about to take her Muggle Studies NEWTS. She had been the first one to arrive to the classroom and she already had her pen and her sheet of paper ready (this was, of course, the only subject where she would use such things). It seemed that everyone was there, there was only one empty desk at her right, but it was time already.
“I’m sorry I’m late. I got lost...” Ann said when she walked in. She looked flushed.
“It’s OK, Miss...?” Professor Burbage asked.
“Oh! You’re her!!! It’s fine, I was just waiting for my cell phone alarm to go off, but it seems that I have set it for 8.30 pm instead of 8.30 am... There are still some gadgets that even I can’t master... ”
“Right...” Ann said and took her seat quickly.
Professor Burbage started distributing printed copies of the exam. The first item read:
1) Attach the copy to the sheet using the right utensil. Extra points for placing it properly.
Hermione folded the copy so it would fit inside the margins of her sheet of paper. Then turned it back, applied the paste and gently placed it –paste facing down- inside the margins and leaving the holes for the folder on the left side.
The next part of the morning she kept whishing all of her exams were as easy as that. She had always been such a great student, but she really was rusted. Last year had been perfect to practise all of the practical aspects of magic, but apart from the fairy tales in runes or the research on potions, she had had no theoretical approach to magic what so ever in one whole year. What was she thinking when she decided to take so many NEWSTS with just one month to get ready. It was insane. She should have left Australia sooner, she should have stayed home longer before she went to The Burrow, and she should have studied all that time that she spent just staring at Ron.
Hermione was now in the middle of her History of the Magic exam. She was halfway through it, but she wasn’t happy with what she had written. It wasn’t wrong. It was just incomplete. She could remember so well that she was forgetting something. She had read about the witches that had come to Britain in the Viking’s ships. But all she could remember were the basics... dates, a few names, customs, most used spells, means of transport, the magical creatures they brought to the islands... nothing great. She looked to the desk on her right. Ann was there. She had been taking the same exams as she was all morning. She looked happy. Accomplished. She kept writing and writing. And then she stopped. She stood up and gave Professor Binns her quill. It was almost 50cms long, at least.
By midday Hermione had just finished her exam. She had been able to answer all the tasks, but she didn’t think she’ll get a decent grade. No Os for her in History of the Magic or Divination (she still hadn’t taken that one... but it was a given). She went to the great hall which was empty except for a few students. Most of the people who were taking their exams still had a good forty minutes to go. The ones who weren’t taking any tests were either still sleeping like Ron, or had had breakfast not more than two hours ago, so lunch wasn’t in their plans.
Ginny was seated at the Gryffindor table and she looked pale.
“Gin!!! Is something wrong?” Hermione asked her friend, who was staring at nothing.
“I... just... nothing.”
“Come on! You can tell me! We’re sister, aren’t we?”
Those words just melted Ginny. She turned to face Hermione.
“I just... Well... I don’t know how to put it. It is a little embarrassing, I’ve never talked about this with anyone...”
“You can trust me, Gin. I promise.”
“Well... I only had one exam this morning, Charms. George and I were the only Gryffindors taking it. He went first and in 20 minutes was out. And then in was me. I got in and I did really well. Proffessor Flitwick said he wanted to talk to me about helping him with the first years.”
“That’s great, Ginny!”
Yes, it is... right? So... I went to wake Harry up, to tell him. I... I went to his bedroom and I got into his bed quietly.”
“Mmhm” Hermione was just acknowledging that she was following what Ginny was saying, she wasn’t implying anything in her tone.
“He was under the covers and I just... got inside. And I woke him up with a kiss. And...” she hesitated. It was embarrassing.
“It’s OK, Ginny. You can tell me. I think I see where this is going...”
“Well... it went exactly there.”
“There...? There, there?” Hermione widened her eyes.
“No... I didn’t even know if we were alone... the curtains of all the beds were drawn. And I don’t know if I’m quite ready... But it was pretty close. He broke the kiss, smiled at me and asked me if he was dreaming. If he hadn’t stopped it... I would have... Well I don’t know. But it was like I couldn’t control myself! I wasn’t thinking and it’s not the first time this happens.”
“And what happened after he asked that?”
“I took the chance to say I had something to tell him, but to just keep on sleeping because I had a test to get to... which was a lie. And then I hid in the library until I saw him go to the gardens with his broom. That’s when I came here. I’m so embarrassed...”
“Gin! It’s... It is completely natural for a witch your age to have that sort of... emotion” Hermione was blushing.
“Has it ever happened to you? That you can’t control yourself?”
“Well... no. Not, really. But Ron and I aren’t in that point of our relationship. We just started dating a month ago... the battle kiss doesn’t count. You and Harry have non-officially been together since... well, at least for two years.”
“And this didn’t happen with Krum either?”
“I never even kissed Victor. I thought I would do it at the Christmas Ball, but as I stormed out because of one of Ron’s comments...” Hermione smiled when remembering that. It was the first time Ron had showed her he actually noticed her and was a little jealous. “And I was 14 years old! And in love with your brother.”
“And you... Did you feel this with Seamus?”
“No way!!! I was 15... and I has always been Harry for me. Ever since the Chamber of the secrets. Or even before...”
“Then you have your answer.”
“Do you think I should... just do it?”
“No... not just do it. I don’t think this is something anyone, boy or girl, should take for granted or do out of ... I don’t know. But it is something special and important. What I meant was... That you shouldn’t feel so bad or so ashamed for having these feelings and thoughts. As you said... It’s always been him, for what...? ...six, seven years? It isn’t just a crush. But none the less... You shouldn’t do something you don’t feel a hundred percent sure of doing. Because you can’t take it back, Gin, you know that?”
“Yeah...” Ginny was pensive. Hermione had said the right words.
“And I guess you should talk to Harry about this. See how he feels.”
“Maybe he needs to wait, too.”
“He’s a boy. Boys don’t want to wait.”
“Yet, he was the one who stopped this this morning.”
Ginny opened her mouth as to speak, but couldn’t find anything to say.
“I’m just saying, Ginny... That you two have been through a lot together, and apart... You are two very mature people. Not every 17-or-18-year-old has been possessed by a Horrocrux or been one, or have been together against the Dark Lord on more than one occasion, it being a memory or actually him at the Ministry. You have fought Death Eater’s side by side, defending each other’s life... You have said goodbye forever.... how many times? Is talking about this so difficult?”
“I guess you’re right...” Ginny was so glad she had talked about it.
“Just... don’t get into a situation that you can’t get out of... Don’t... get to a point where it is going to be too embarrassing for either of you to stop...”
“I understand. Thank you, sis.” Calling her that felt so right after this talk.
“Don’t mention it, little sister.” They hugged tightly until Ginny broke it off.
“Don’t you have your divination NEWTS?”
“For Merlin’s beard! I’m late!!!”
Hermione rushed out of the Great Hall and in her way out she went past Harry in his Quidditch uniform and a sleepy Ron in muggle clothes.“CAN’TTALKI’MLATEFOREXAMMMM!” she managed to say and left the two boys hysterically laughing.
Ginny saw them coming and got to them before they got on the table.
“Harry we need to talk.” was all she said before leaving the Great Hall.
Harry and Ron looked at eachother.
“What did you do to mi sister, mate?” Ron said jokingly.
“I’ll tell you when I find out...” Harry answered quite nervously and followed the redhead out to the gardens.
“Wait up, Gin! What’s wrong? What did I do?”
“Oh, Harry! No... you didn’t do anything!” Ginny said apologetically.
“It’s about this morning.” She said while walking. There was no one in sight, though the day was sunny and warm.
“Oh...” Harry didn’t know where this was going. She had been the one to surprise him... He just didn’t know what Ginny was thinking.
“It’s just that... I wanted to apologise because... Well, this morning I couldn’t control myself...”
“That’s OK to me...” he said smiling and took her hand in his.
“I know. You’re great, Harry. But... today nothing happened because we weren’t alone and you were such a gentleman... And I was glad... because I’m not ready.”
“Oh!” Harry hadn’t thought about that with Ginny- Well... he had, but in his dreams... he hadn’t been planning on them becoming true in the near future.
“I know that back in my house I was very suggestive... with my clothes and our meetings... and that I took you to the Prefects bathroom last night... But I wasn’t thinking clearly... Well... I hadn’t taken the time to think. And I’m not ready. I’m sorry.
“Ginny! You don’t need to be sorry!!! The truth is, I’m not ready either.”
“Really? You haven’t... ever??”
“It’s always been you.” He said very sweetly. “And I really haven’t had the time, you know... with the Horcruxes and the scar hurting and all...” he added mocking her.
She pushed him, and then run to kiss him. They kept walking towards the lake.
“You don’t need to worry about that, you know?” He asked and she silently nodded. ”The time will come when we’re ready. You are just a girl and I would never ask you to do anything you don’t want to do.” They sat down.
“The problem is that I do want to do it...” she whispered. “I’m just too scared.”
She started kissing him softly. Actually, knowing that he wasn’t expecting her to do anything, reassured her that she wanted to be with him, and that slow yet passionate kiss was sending shivers down her spine. She remembered Hermione’s words and pull off.
“So, did you go flying?” she tried to change the subject. And it worked.