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The Deathly Hallows, Take Two

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Harry was still rummaging through his clothes and various interesting items in his bag – he had decided to get an early start after some consideration, so he knew what he was missing and what to get later – of almost seven years, some of them stained earlier with his blood from the broken fragments of his mirror, when he caught the glimpse of a small brown package in his trunk that he had never seen before. He looked at it strangely for a second before he shrugged. Curiosity overwhelming the broken mirror and falsities of his favorite headmaster from the delusioned reporter, he grabbed the wrapped gift.

He slowly opened it, wondering if it was from Ron or Ginny, or Hermione. Harry felt the green leather of a small photo album, matching his and his mother’s green eyes. He ripped the other half of the paper wrappings off, revealing gold writing on the album, and a note falling from it. The photo album said, ‘Memories’ on the front of it. He picked up the note and placed it on the bed for later. He flipped open the album to see a familiar face; One Hermione Granger, smiling up at him.

He didn’t know why, but it was something about her that brought a smile to his face. She was wearing a light blue sundress, although he could only see to her waist, and the background appeared to be Hogsmeade, although there were no students. She looked very beautiful in the light fabric shirt with a low neckline. He stared for a few minutes, wondering how she had hidden her body so well. He hadn’t seen Hermione in such girly clothing since she wore the gorgeous dress at the Yule Ball. He absently wondered why she sent him a photo album. She must have sent Ron one, as well; probably even a fancier one, which made Harry feel a bit uneasy.

Harry flipped the pages of the album, and found no more pictures. He turned to the back and saw in smaller, golden letters, ‘To Harry, From Hermione’. He gently placed the small album on the bed and grabbed the note. He carefully unfolded it, and read it.

Dear Harry,

I want to start off by telling you that I am very and truly sorry for the way I was acting last year. I was a complete fool, and I was basically ignoring you and shooting you down whenever you had a suspicion or guess that was usually right. I cannot say sorry enough for when I kept criticizing you for that Potions book. I’m sorry that I ever doubted you. I mean, if it were a dark object, you of all people would’ve known, right? I know that sorry is not enough for the actions that I have done, but I had to at least try.

Now, if you’ll accept it, let me explain the present that I gave to you. I enchanted an album for you. When you place a picture in a pocket, the picture will be able to talk to you with the character’s own personalities. I’ve only placed one picture, but when you want to speak to a person that you placed in the album say the person’s name and it will flip to the page, making the picture become a Wizard’s picture, or in other words, come alive. Just whisper it to the book. You can only use single character pictures. It is able to take black and white, also, so you could use a ‘wanted’ picture of Sirius. (Sorry, I didn’t have a picture of Sirius or your parents. I don’t have any single pictures of Ron, either. I have quite a few pictures of you, although I’m sure that you would not want to talk to yourself. That’s why I gave you the album in the first place, so you wouldn’t have to.)

I know that living with those awful relatives for the last time must be horrible for you, and I know that the only reasons you are there are because you were asked to stay there by our dearly departed Headmaster since Voldemort can’t find you. I wanted to be there with you, but the Order wouldn’t let me. But I made sure that you would have someone to talk to. I know that this small photo album would never make up for what I did last year, and I deserve it if we were never close like we used to be again, but I just want to let you know that whatever happens, I’ll always care about you, support you, and I’ll still go with you and Ron on the journey, however long it is. If you don’t want me to come with you, I understand. To tell you the truth, though, I don’t think you and Ron alone can complete this task alone.

But please… take care, Harry. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You were my first and best friend, and I don’t want to lose you.

I can’t tell you any more, but I will tell you now that we will get you out of that accursed hell-hole soon. I’ll personally make sure of it that you will be broken out. You should know this, though: When we arrive at your house, I want you to promise that you would do nothing to interfere with us or our plans, whatever they are. We are coming to save you and we know the risks, Harry, we know that we could all lose our own lives, and we will risk it. If you try something that could be fatal, Harry, we all won’t be far along. I just pray that you don’t try anything rash if Voldemort himself shows, because if you don’t think I’ll jump in the way in a second if he tries anything on you, you’re very sadly mistaken.

I miss you, Harry, and I hope you are well (as can be).

With Love,
Hermione

 

There was something about that letter that made Harry frown. He most certainly wasn’t mad at Hermione. Sure, he was a little irked at her for not hearing him out often, mostly during last year, but he wasn’t mad at her. The only time he was ever mad at Hermione was when she turned in his Firebolt in third year, and it was basically his fault. He knew that Hermione was only caring for him. He wouldn’t have liked it very much if the broom was cursed and he kept it. He was just being selfish, and Ron’s yelling didn’t help.

He read the last paragraph and a tear formed in his eye at the loyalty of her and the Order. Of course, most of them are on duties for Dumbledore’s sake, but Hermione and Ron were the only ones to go on the mission completely for him and his safety.

He smiled again when he reread the middle paragraph. He hoped he had a picture of Sirius somewhere in his trunk. Maybe his aunt Petunia had a few pictures of his mum and dad. He reread the entire letter, and smiled softly when she said that she’ll always care about him. He had no intention of leaving her behind on the trip. Merlin knows he’s rubbish without her. It would take him years to find one Horcrux, and several generations to find them all. But with Hermione, it would probably take ten years maximum, if she could still put up with him.

But Harry never only liked her for her brains. He knew that she was pretty, funny, always put a smile on his face, believed in him and stood by him when no one else did, and he would never forget how she looked when he saw her at the Yule Ball. She was absolutely stunning.

Harry stopped his thoughts right there. He couldn’t be having these thoughts about her, not again. There was a while ago when he fancied her, and for a time, thought that she fancied him, too. Unfortunately, he realized the looks Ron gave her and immediately dropped all of his feelings for her then and there. He almost successfully took his mind off of her on to Cho Chang, and then to Ginny Weasley. But both of them didn’t really work out. He really thought that one of the two would work.

Cho broke up with him because she thought that Harry was cheating on her with Hermione. Harry wanted to remind her that she was never technically his girlfriend and did admit in his mind that he would much rather be with Hermione than Cho if he had to choose. He was absolutely positive that Hermione would never have chosen Madame Puddifoot’s. He still had nightmares about that place.

Last year, he finally thought that Ginny would be the one for him. She was pretty, she liked him, and more importantly, she liked him for him.

Or did she?

Exactly when did Ginny ever know the difference between Harry Potter and the Boy Who Lived? There was a very big difference between the boy who suffered a long string of tragic events that slowly left him alone and unwanted, and the fearless savior of the Wizarding world, who can take on basilisks and dragons, blast-ended skrewts and a Cerberus. Now, Harry doesn’t think that Ginny knows the difference, and he doesn’t think that she ever will. He didn’t want a girlfriend who thinks of him as her knight in shining armor. He wants a girl who can tell the difference, and he was very aware that the only one that he knows that exists is the girl in the photo album.

He didn’t know if Hermione thought of him as more than a friend. She did seem more interested in Ron this year. But what about before then? After all of those years, he still remembered her kiss at King’s Cross. For a short time, he wondered if she liked him, as more than a friend. Harry once again mused, that if Hermione did like him, there was only one thing that would be separating them, regardless. A temperamental redhead that just happened to be Harry’s best friend and a very secret admirer of Hermione by the name of Ron Weasley. Should he just stay out the way or let Hermione choose.

Harry sighed heavily as he placed the note back on his bed and grabbed the album once again. He spoke into the closed album, “Hermione Granger,” in a soft voice.

The album cover immediately flipped open, and the smile of Hermione’s picture went a little brighter than Harry remembered.

“Hi, Harry,” she said brightly.

Harry’s smile matched hers, wondering exactly how smart the Smartest Witch of her year is. “Hi, Hermione, er, Hermione’s picture, er—”

Hermione giggled at Harry’s awkwardness. “Just Hermione will do, thank you.”

“Um… okay, Hermione. I’ve never seen the real Hermione giggle before.”

“Well, you never feel uncomfortable with the real Hermione either, so I can never catch you when you’re feeling a bit awkward.”

Harry grinned. “Are you saying that I’m the only one who makes you giggle?”

Hermione suddenly looked like her cheeks were spray painted a light pink, before she replied, “I didn’t say that, it’s just that Ron would constantly tease me—well, the real me—if I giggled like a girl.”

“But, you are a girl.”

“You are the only one who seems to notice that.” She said to him.

Harry noticed that she had seemed like she didn’t care about the fact that Ron hadn’t noticed that she was a girl, and Harry did. Of course, Ron had noticed that Hermione was a girl since a little before the Yule Ball. Harry had always known, but had never thought much of it until the Ball itself.

“Hermione?”

“Yes, Harry?”

“Do you have like, every personality of your creator? I mean, will you know how the real Hermione would feel and react to a question or something?”

“Yes, I do. I am her up until the twenty-ninth of June. That was the day this picture was taken.”

“And, is there any way for you to contact the real Hermione?”

“Why? Are you going to complain about my gift?” Hermione replied, and Harry could almost hear a bit of panic in her voice as her face slowly dropped.

“No,” Harry quickly exclaimed, “of course not! You’re great company! The best I’ve ever had, actually.” This cause Hermione to smile brightly again.

“It’s just that… If I asked you a personal question, would you be able to tell Hermione what I ask, and can you mimic Hermione’s reaction when… or if… I ask her?”

“I have no other frame to walk into,” Hermione said slowly, looking left and right, “so there is no way she can communicate with me unless she talks to me from your photo album. My and the real Hermione’s reactions will be similar, but her reactions or answers would most likely be a little more mature. What questions do you want to ask me?”

“Well… firstly, why did you send me the photo album?”

“Well, I thought that reason was already written in the note. I did it as a small ‘thank you’ gift for putting up with me all year. You were my first and only true friend, and I don’t want to lose you over a stupid book. You are pretty much the best friend anyone could ask for.” Hermione told him, and her eyes told the world that she was not lying.

Harry did not notice, as he was thinking about something she said earlier.

“Hermione… you said that I was your only true friend.”

“Yes, I did say that.”

“What about Ron and Ginny?” He curiously asked.

“Well… I could never think of Ron as a close or good friend, but merely as a friend. Have you seen how much we’ve argued, Harry?” This caused him to snort in light laughter. Hermione ignored it and continued. “Best friends don’t argue like that. Have you noticed that we’ve only been in two big arguments in the past, while me and Ron have had too many to care about? As for Ginny, well, we haven’t really been close these past few weeks… from early June.” Hermione grazed over the fact that is was right after Ginny started dating Harry.

“Yeah… well it feels kind of weird to apologize to a picture, so I want to apologize to Hermione about our arguments. I assume it’s about the book and my Firebolt?”

Hermione gave a small and excited squeal, bolstered that Harry wanted to apologize to her origin. She then frowned a little. “But it was my fault. I should’ve told you about it before I turned it in to Professor McGonagall. And of course I wouldn’t have done it unless you agreed. I could’ve simply talked to you about it, but I didn’t. I just went behind your back and—”

“Stop, Hermione.” Harry interrupted. “It was mainly my fault, and you know it. I sided with Ron the whole time, even though he was wrong and you were right. If they did find a curse, if a Death Eater or someone had sent it, I would’ve been on my knees begging for forgiveness. It wasn’t cursed, but I still think that you—or rather, she—deserve some begging.”

“Thank you, Harry,” she said sincerely, wiping the tears that might leak soon. “Did you know that Ron had never apologized for any argument that we were in? Now you know why you are my first and only true friend. And I hope you can stay my friend.” She mumbled the last part, putting her head down.

“You will always be my best friend, Hermione. To tell you the truth, I think you are my only true best friend, also. And you know I’m useless without you on our journey.”

Hermione sniffled a smile and a small tear ran down her cheek. “Thank you,” she said softly, then looked up at Harry’s emerald eyes. “You do realize that if I could come out of this picture, I’d hug you until your bones break. Although, I’m sure Ginny wouldn’t appreciate.”

Harry smiled and blushed at this nice thought. “Well, I did break up with Ginny.”

“You broke up with her?” She asked concerned, yet Harry didn’t notice the hint of happiness in that question. “I thought you two were happy together.”

“Things weren’t… well… Ginny… I don’t know how to explain it, really. I like her… but every time I kissed her, it felt like I was kissing my sister, if I had one. It was more like kissing Aunt Petunia.” Hermione made a face that Harry had to agree with. “I’ve never been in a relationship before. Cho kissed me, and all I did was freeze up. Not exactly how I pictured a kiss. Then she broke up with me ’cause she’s jealous of our friendship (He didn’t notice Hermione smiling at that point). When I kissed Ginny, it was… not what I was expecting. It seemed dull. All our other kisses were the same.”

“Were you expecting fireworks, Harry?” Hermione asked him.

“Kinda… what is kissing supposed to be like?”

It took a few seconds for Hermione to realize that Harry was not asking himself, but her. “How would I know? I never kissed anyone. Except my parents, but I was little.” Before Harry could voice the obvious, Hermione interrupted. “Viktor is my friend. He was never anything more than that, and he never will be.”

Harry scratched his head, amazed at what he had just heard, before he continued. “So that’s why you didn’t go with him to Bulgaria.” At Hermione’s quick nod, he decided to drop that topic and go back to the original one. “I don’t ask for much. I’m just asking for a girlfriend that likes me and not that guy everyone says I am. I want her to like that psycho that the Prophet slandered about Voldemort’s return and not the guy that faced twelve Death Eaters and Voldemort himself. Well, that’s what the News said, at least.”

Hermione stared at him in disbelief. “You do realize that not a lot of girls can look past that, right? You may have to end up dating someone who doesn’t even know about you, like a Muggle.” ‘Or a Muggle-born’, Hermione thought.

‘Or a Muggle-born’, Harry thought. “I know. But if she doesn’t care about the guy that saves lives annually, and likes the one that desperately needs a steel comb and axle grease for hair gel, then that’s all I care about. Of course she could have other qualities, like brains, too.

“Harry?” Hermione asked uneasily after a moment of silence.

“Yes?” He asked carefully, hearing her voice tremble a bit.

“I know a girl at Hogwarts who is a little bit of your description. I mean she’s really smart and likes you for you. And as far as I understand, she likes you a lot.” She said a little hesitantly.

Harry raised an eyebrow; he found that pretty hard to believe. “Who’s that?”

“She told me not to tell you. If it helps, she’s in your year, I think. You’ll have to figure it out on your own.” She said, looking at the bottom frame of the picture.

“Alright,” He said slowly, wondering who it is; part of him desperately wanted that person to be Hermione, the other part hoped that it would be someone Ron wouldn’t get jealous of. The latter was slowly diminishing. “I’ve been pretty good at solving stuff. I do have another question, though.”

“Yes, Harry?”

“Do… do you like Ron? As more than a friend?”

Hermione was a little taken aback by Harry’s question. Slightly hoping that Harry’s next question involved him and her, she replied, “Well as I told you before, I can only think of him as a friend. I admit, I did have a small crush on him this year, but,” she shrugged, “I think I had an off year. Besides, I think we all know he’s a prat. I wasn’t really thinking straight. Any other questions?”

Harry felt enlightened by this revelation, but refrained from asking her the most important question that he had been burning to say along those lines. He wanted to ask that question to the real Hermione Granger. Instead, he asked her a few questions, talked, and enjoyed his imaginary company for over half the night until sleep overcame the Wizard in mid-conversation. Before the album magically closed itself, he didn’t see the kiss that was blown his way.


A little over two weeks later, a brunette bushy-haired witch was on a plane, reading a book on one of the darkest artifacts in the world called Horcruxes, returning to London. She had charmed the books that she had brought with her to look like a few encyclopedias. She had just closed up the memories of anything involving her of her parents and left them in Australia, for their safety. She decided that Crookshanks could be cared for by Mrs. Weasley at The Burrow.

She may have been reading the book, but she wasn’t exactly paying attention to it. She had been worried sick about how a certain green-eyed Wizard would react to the note and present she put into his bag the day that they left. She was still not sure whether Harry would talk to her picture or not, or whether he had even seen it yet. His bag was rather messy, but she decided to leave everything where it was, so he wouldn’t suspect something and find it immediately after she put it in the morning before they left Hogwarts, most likely for the last time.

She had thought about her past year’s decisions and the things that she said to Harry. She had thought about how cruel she had been to him while he had been nice to her all year, the Lavender fiasco being one of Harry’s many nice moments. She prayed that her friendship would slowly mend even if it would never be healed to the way it was before. She knew that she loved him, but she also knew that he would never love her the way that she loves him since Ginny has him, and now, she most likely lost the close friendship she had with Harry.

She knew that even if he forgave her, they would never be the closest friends they once were again. But for now, she hopes that her picture doesn’t tell Harry things that she doesn’t want it to tell.

It took her a lot of time to make the present for Harry. It left her physically and magically exhausted for each page, tireless non-stop hours to work on every detail, even the right color of Harry’s eyes for the cover and the impervious charms placed on each stitch. She began on the project a day after the Headmaster died. She had realized that Professor Dumbledore died only because she refused to listen to Harry’s suspicions about Malfoy and Snape, and now, Harry thought that it was all of his fault. And the only reason she refused to listen to Harry and distance herself in the process was for two reasons. Two incredibly stupid reasons that made it all her fault and not Harry’s.

The first reason was because she tried to pursue Ron the entire year. Even the excuse made her sick to her stomach. The only reason she had even tried to be with Ron was because she realized that after the prophecy, she really thought that Harry had a chance of dying. She knew that he was an extremely powerful Wizard, but the logical side, which takes up about 98.2 percent of her mind, spoke rationally; this was Lord Voldemort he was talking about, the man whose name those with common sense wouldn’t speak. The man who has tortured, killed and manipulated thousands of people for eleven years. The man who was killed by a baby, Harry Potter. She knew that since Harry was victorious one time after another after another, he would be victorious until the end of Voldemort, right? But, how was she going to take that chance? How could she continue to be in love with a man who was destined to have a 50 percent (or more) chance of death?

She just couldn’t handle, let alone live with it. At the time, the task was impossible when she heard the prophecy; find the ‘power he knows not’, a power that the most powerful Wizard ever – save Dumbledore – knows, and kill him. How was he supposed to kill him again? She knew that she could not be able to handle the heart-break of even the possibility of Harry being dead, so she did the only thing she could do at the time—she tried to fall out of love with him. A task that she knew would most likely fail from the beginning. But she had to at least try; after all, she had never failed anything before. But the question was: If not Harry, then who?

That was a fairly simple answer—Ron. He was the only one who showed any interest in her besides (possibly) Harry, besides being the big, ignorant prat that he was. And he was the only one besides Harry who she hung out with, who she considered as a true friend… sometimes. But she had to ask herself something… did Harry ever like her back?

She remembered when her consciousness was slipping at the Department of Mysteries after she was hit of Harry’s plea for her to be okay. She sensed a tone of desperation, regret, and it could have been the blood loss and light-headedness playing tricks on her, but she swore she could’ve heard a faint tone of love. That alone would’ve made her stay with him for all eternity until he set his feelings for her straight… were it not for the interference of the prophecy.

She had always pictured herself with one of the boys that she had always hung out with in the future. But what if the one she really wanted and ever really cared about was not in the future to be with her. She would not be able to survive if she let that love grow. She had to choose the other option—Ron. Sure they argued a lot, but what if it was a way of saying that he liked her. She knew that he liked her, but she didn’t want to bring up that she didn’t like him in that sense and hurt his feelings.

She knew that tiny peck on the cheek before Ron’s Quidditch game was going too far and Ron thought too much of it. Never mind the fact that she gave Harry a hug before and after every game. She dropped several hints on Ron that she wasn’t interested in him during fifth year; subtle, but several: the disappointment in her eyes when announced that Ron was the prefect and not Harry… distancing herself from Ron during prefect rounds… telling Ron to do his work and to study harder while in those rare times that Harry asks, helps him with his essays… comforting Harry after every Detention with that slag, Umbridge. They were obvious rejections towards Ron, but apparently, with his single-mindedness, he did not notice, and neither did Harry, apparently. That is, possibly, until that day at the Ministry. It was not his fault that he knew so little about girls and not being aware of their feelings.

And then she started pursuing Ron at the beginning of sixth year, with very little success. She helped get Ron on the team. She snorted when she pictured the thought of what would happen if Ron ever found out. ‘But Ron, I did it to help you!‘ ‘Help me what?’ ‘Help you get on the team, of course!‘ ‘You don’t think I would’ve gotten on the team myself, did you?‘ ‘No, I didn’t say that! It’s just that he was as good as you!‘ ‘Then it would’ve been fun trying to beat him. Just face it, you wanted to end the tryouts fast so you could go to the Library!‘ ‘Ron, I could’ve gone to the library any time I want!’ ‘No, you couldn’t, because you wouldn’t be able to cheer on Harry!

She wondered if that conversation would really take place if he confronted her. She probably would’ve slapped him in the face and proudly admitted that he was right.

She then remembered another impossible task that appeared later in the year, making Hermione think that maybe Harry would die and she was making the right decision, even though she knew deep in her heart that her love for him hadn’t faded in the least, if not, then became stronger. Voldemort’s Horcruxes. The complete mission was for Harry to find some secret power that Voldemort didn’t know about, destroy all of his Horcruxes, finding out later that there were six in total (SIX!), and destroy the last bit of soul that was harbored in the body of Tom Riddle himself. She thought that the task was near impossible, even with Dumbledore’s help. Some friend she was.

The second reason was even sicker than the first. A book. Just a book. Not a cursed book. Not a Horcrux’ed book. Just a book. That was her excuse to leave Harry the time he needed a friend the most. His godfather died and she distanced herself away from her best friend because of a book and a relationship she knew wouldn’t ever work. Not again.

Hermione absently wiped the many tears from her eyes that she wasn’t aware of. She steeled herself and hooked her seatbelt when the light came on, signaling the plane would be landing soon. She placed the book back in her bag and pushed it under the chair in front of her.

This was it. In just a few minutes, a new and determined Hermione Granger would arrive at the Burrow. Ginny might still have had Harry, but Hermione swore she would still try to retain the little of her friendship with him. Only time can heal their almost broken relationship; it just depended on the amount of time to mend it.

take?two HPDHHPTake—TwoDHHPDH

Hermione took a deep breath as she took in the sight of the impossibly tall, crooked, and run-down house called The Burrow. She stepped towards the front door, letting her breathing go back to normal. Either she was nervous for some reason, or she had to get used to apparating. She let down the half-kneazle and knocked on the door.

Fifteen seconds later, the door was opened and she was attacked by a rather enthusiastic redhead.

“Ron… ” Hermione gasped, “… can’t breathe. Please… let go!”

Ron grudgingly let go with a pink tinge on his cheeks. “Sorry. Hey, Hermione.”

“Hey, Ron,” Hermione said, rubbing her sides and trying to expand her ribcage. She could’ve sworn she heard a crack.

“What are you doing here?” Ron asked curiously as he let her and Crookshanks inside.

“Well, if we’re going to get Harry away from the Dursleys, I’m not going to stand in the background. And besides, we’re meeting here anyway,” She replied. She didn’t want to tell anyone yet about what she did to her parents. Even if they agreed to it, it almost felt… wrong, even if it was to keep them safe.

“Oh,” Ron said as he closed the door and started following Hermione up the stairs. “Mum, dad, Bill, Fred, and George are at an Order meeting right now. They’re gonna announce when we pick up Harry.”

“I hope it’s soon,” Hermione muttered.

“It probably will be,” Ron replied. “They said that You-Know-Who thinks we’re going to pick him up on the thirtieth, but I bet McGonagall’s got a plan to pick him up earlier.”

“Oh, so she is the new head of the Order?” Hermione asked curiously.

“Between her and Mad-Eye, yeah.”

Hermione absently nodded while looking around for Ginny. She needed to patch things up with the fiery redhead; it wouldn’t be good to have your friend’s girlfriend to be against her, and at the moment, she didn’t think that their friendship was as powerful as a strong-willed beautiful silk-haired girl who wanted Harry for herself for her entire life and had been jealous of any girl close to Harry. Hermione knew that Ginny had been slightly jealous of her for hanging with Harry before sixth year, where it all started going downhill from there. “Where’s Ginny?” she asked after a moment.

“I’m guessing she’s in her room sulking.”

“Why?” She turned around when she reached the half-way up the stairs, walking backwards so she wouldn’t run into Ron.

“She didn’t tell you? Harry broke up with her.”

Her eyes widened in complete shock and she almost fell backwards. She quickly turned around and kept her balance by running up the rest of the stairs, hoping he didn’t see her widening smile. She left a slightly baffled Ron behind, watching her retreating bum (Not that he was complaining, mind).

She got to the second floor landing and knocked on the door to Ginny’s bedroom, almost melting over with answers.

“No, Ron! I’m not going to ask Hermione if she likes you when she gets here! You know she does!”

Hermione was torn between amusement and terror for a few seconds; she was amused that Ron would tell Ginny to get her to ask Ron out, and terrified that Ginny sounded confident when she yelled that she liked Ron. With a slightly trembling voice, she replied. “Sorry to disappoint you both, Ginny, but I don’t.”

She heard a few footsteps and the door creaked open. A flaming red haired witch faced her with an incredulous look on her face. She did not look like she was just sulking. “Hey H-Hermione,” she tentatively said. “W-what did you mean you didn’t like Ron?”

Hermione then had an amused look. “Well, I do like Ron as a friend, but nothing more.”

Ginny smirked and her hand let go of the door to wave it off. “Oh, don’t be so modest, Hermione, we all saw you and Ron cuddled up at the funeral—”

“I’m not being modest,” she interrupted politely, “I just don’t like Ron that way. He’s an insufferable prat, and I wasn’t as you say, ‘cuddled up’ with him. I needed a shoulder to cry on, and I was sitting between you and Ron. If I knew you two were going to make a big case out of it, I would’ve leaned on your shoulder. I admit, I did like Ron and I tried to get him to like me this year. I knew he did, but I wanted him to say it. I honestly can’t stand him and I regret everything that I did this year. I don’t mean to hurt his feelings, but snogging a girl in front of someone you supposedly like isn’t saying ‘I like you, too’. Besides, the relationship would never work out, anyway. I gave him a chance, and he blew it.” She noticed the rising anger on Ginny’s features. “Why? Is that a problem?”

Ginny groaned and pulled Hermione into her room none-too-gently and closed the door, not letting go of her.

“Why don’t you like Ron?” She went straight to the point. Hermione shook her head. Ginny was always straight-forward.

“Why should I?” Hermione said, ripping her arms out of Ginny’s death-grip. She was really starting to get annoyed.

Ginny sighed. “Look, He’s a good guy… sometimes. Just give him some more time… ”

“No,” she simply replied. She already gave him a bloody year.

“But you have to—” Ginny barely screamed.

“I don’t have to do anything,” Hermione told the younger girl, “and I didn’t come in here to be hassled by my so-called friend. I came here because I wanted to see if you were okay. I heard that Harry broke up with you and you didn’t tell me. Why is that?”

“Because it’s none of your business,” She angrily retorted.

“Ginny,” Hermione started angrily, and tried to calm down. She took a breath and said, “What happened when we were best friends? What happened to when you told me all about your past boyfriends? You talked to me after Neville asked you to the Ball. You asked for advice about Seamus. You ran to me the moment after you said ‘yes’ to being Dean’s girlfriend. We talked about everything, Ginny. Dating, how far you go with a bloke, I even gave you the muggle version of ‘The Talk’! But… after you started dating Harry… you hadn’t talked to me girl-to-girl since. Why?”

Ginny stubbornly kept her head down. While during Hermione’s speech, they both sat down on the bed.

“Ginny.”

“I’m not telling you,” She said in a final-like tone. Hermione was having none of it. She knew the answer.

“It’s because it’s Harry you’re dating, isn’t it?”

She flinched a little, but her chin was firmly attached to her chest. Hermione hit the mark.

“Why, Ginny? I thought we were friends.”

Ginny finally looked up. She would have looked calm, were it not for the fire in her brown eyes. “But you and Harry are better friends,” she said softly, yet it felt cold on Hermione’s ears. “Why doesn’t he tell you everything?”

Hermione frowned at the younger girl. “Surely you’ve noticed that Harry had other things on his mind. For God’s sake, he watched his Headmaster die!”

Ginny gasped, her anger forgotten for the moment. “He saw Dumbledore die? He didn’t tell me!” Her eyes then narrowed in suspicion, the anger returning. “Why did he tell you and not me?”

“Because I’ve been lucky to know him for six years, and he is my best friend. We tell each other everything.” Hermione said, like it was completely obvious. She then noticed Ginny’s rising anger once again. “What?”

Ginny stood up to the bed and towered over the still sitting Hermione, who looked almost amused. “Harry said that he had to do something to stop You-Know-Who. Is that right?”

“Yes,” Hermione replied, crossing her legs and folding her arms.

“Is he going to do that job alone?”

“Of course not!” Hermione yelled, appalled that Harry will be searching for the darkest Wizard in the world’s bits of soul all by himself. “Ron and I are going.”

“What?” Ginny screamed. Hermione sighed and pulled out her wand as she stood up and waved it around the room. “Silencing charms,” She explained to Ginny, who really didn’t care what the bi- um, witch, was doing. When Hermione was done, she pocketed her wand and turned back to Ginny. “What’s so bad on helping my best friend kill Voldemort?”

“Alone!” Ginny yelled with a small flinch, this time not holding back her voice since no one but Hermione can hear her.

“Yes, Ginny. The less people know, the lesser the chance that we get caught. You have to promise not to tell anyone. I don’t think Harry wants you to know anything about this trip.”

“Why does he always tell you everything and I’m always left in the bloody dark?” She yelled angrily.

“I thought we already went through this,” Hermione replied, exasperated, yet strangely, still amused. “I’ve known Harry for six years, and even I’m on thin ice with him. You know how I haven’t been the best friend to Harry this year.” Her voice broke at the end and she sniffed. “I might not go on the journey. I might even lose his friendship… ” She had her head down, and took a quick peek at Ginny. To her horror, she saw a triumphant smile quickly replaced with a sympathetic frown. Trying to mask her features as Ginny did, Hermione said, “But if he does let me go, I swear I’ll make it up to him. I’ll be his best friend again, I swear. If I don’t, then I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m not going to lose my only true best friend over a bloody book!”

Ginny inwardly cursed, but her face took on a look of hurt. “So you’re saying I’m not your friend?”

Hermione looked up fully at Ginny with cold, deep brown eyes that truly scared Ginny, who hadn’t been that scared since first year. “You think about that, Ginny, because I’m not sure.” She said in a hard voice, not in a yell, yet powerful, none the less. She stood up and prepared to leave.

Ginny just thought about what she’s doing. She was being cowed by Hermione Granger! She wasn’t the one to be scared easily. In fact, she should’ve been the one scaring Hermione. She isn’t backing out of this. She regained her full height to Hermione, although she was still considerably shorter. Before she could say anything, Hermione turned back around, knowing that Ginny wouldn’t back down that easily. They met eyes, Ginny’s chocolate ones to Hermione’s cinnamon. “If you even try to steal my boyfriend—”

“Who’s your boyfriend?” Hermione asked in fake curiosity.

“You know bloody damn well who my boyfriend is!” Ginny seethed.

“No, not really,” She said, discreetly pulling out her wand. “You don’t talk to me much, remember? Is it Dean? Seamus? Neville? Countless other boys you hadn’t told me about? Because Harry broke up with you, didn’t he. Unless you’ve been cheating on him… “

I HAVE NOT BEEN CHEATING ON HARRY AND WE ARE STILL TOGETHER!” Ginny screamed right into Hermione’s face. Fortunately, Hermione secretly cast a weak ‘Muffliato‘ around her face right before the outburst (she expected it) so she could still hear Ginny’s screaming as if it were an urgent whispering from a beehive. She removed the spell and calmly said, “Ginny, what did you mean Harry didn’t break up with you? I heard it from—”

“Let me guess, from Harry?” Ginny spat angrily. “I am sick and tired of you being so bloody close to Harry! Why do you have to be near him so much? It’s so pathetic! Just because you don’t have a boyfriend and probably never will doesn’t mean you have to hang around someone else’s boyfriend!”

She had struck a nerve; a very fragile and delicate nerve that anyone with common sense would never even attempt to touch. She knew she had said something wrong and immediately and immensely regretted it. She saw the coldness grow in Hermione’s eyes and slowly began to back up. Ginny almost felt the magic uncoil off of her, riding in waves and reverberating around the room. She could swear she heard something near her crack, but she did not dare take her eyes off of Hermione. She saw Hermione slowly walk towards her, extending her wand arm, but the wand was forgotten. If possible, Ginny felt even more scared than before. She was too scared to move, almost petrified. Hermione’s hand was getting closer. She closed her eyes. She could almost feel Hermione’s hand already slowly wrapping around her throat, making her gasp for air, choke on her tongue, and at that moment, she thought that Hermione was actually going to kill her. She closed her eyes tighter, and waited… and waited…

It never came.

After a few seconds of silence, minus her staggering breathing, she slowly opened her eyes. They were slightly blurry from her eyelids shutting so tightly, but as soon as her vision cleared, she jumped back with a small shriek to see Hermione eye-level with her, the coldness still on her face and in her usually warm brown eyes, her finger pointing between Ginny’s eyes.

“Are you saying that you were dating Harry since Halloween of 1991?” She questioned angrily. “Are you saying that you’ve been through everything with him and shared his pain since he learned that Voldemort was out to get him in first year? Are you saying that you would do anything for him, even die for him, even if he hated you?” Hermione felt a tear drop down her eye, but made no move to wipe it away. She was very sure that this tear would not be the last. “No. I didn’t think you did, have, or will. Look, Ginny, I didn’t have a problem with you dating Harry. I was very proud and supportive of you since the day I noticed Harry asked more questions about you and gave glances at you. Just remember who told you to just run up and kiss him because ‘you just might be surprised’.” Hermione sarcastically mimicked from just a few weeks before. Her tears were flowing freely down her cheeks by now. She didn’t care.

“Now listen, Ginevra! I don’t want you to hassle him on where we’re going, how long we’ll be gone, or what we’re looking for. If Harry wants you to know, he’ll let you know, but only if he brings it up. I don’t want you to persuade him to not go. What we’re about to do in just a couple of weeks just might destroy Voldemort once and for all. I’ll be going with him, but either as an ally, an acquaintance… or the best of friends that we used to be, eventually. I’m not going to let you – or Ron – get in the way of that… unless Harry lets you.” Hermione’s voice cracked a little at the end.

She struggled on. “Although I doubt that it may happen, if it does, I won’t put up a fight. Then you won’t have to worry about Hermione Granger again.” The breeze that was surrounding her suddenly stopped flowing and she quickly turned away from her, lifted her wand, and removed the charms. She opened the door and turned back to face Ginny, her face now in a sad smile. “I might not be able to give him something to fight for, a reason to live; I wish I could, but something tells me that you would be a bit more persuasive.” She winked and left the room.

‘So much for patching things up,’ she thought with a sigh. She was this close from strangling Ginny until her hair clashed with her face color, but decided against it at the end. Harry would definitely be mad if he found out, but she knew that Ginny would never tell anyone what had just happened. She knew that Harry would hold up against the persistent redhead’s attacks, but she didn’t know how long. For now though, she had to worry about getting Harry from those cretins.

A short moment later, Hermione realized that Harry, at the moment, was officially single. This brought a slightly hopeful smile to her tear-stained face.