Chapter 9: The Woes of Hermione Granger
When Ginny returned she found Hermione sitting up on the bed, looking tired and worn out, but obviously a little better for having shed all her tears. She handed her a bottle of butterbeer. When Hermione looked at her strangely, Ginny explained.
“I had the twins make an emergency run to the kitchens for you. I thought you might be hungry.” Ginny offered a plate full of soft, buttered scones, a favorite of Hermione’s. Thanking her weakly, Hermione nibbled on a scone and washed it down with a small sip of butterbeer. Ginny was watching her carefully.
“I’m sorry about that. I was more upset than I realized.” Hermione apologized. Ginny waved it off, saying simply,
“Love is like that.” Hermione looked at her friend, for the first time realizing that Ginny was not a little girl anymore. She wondered if a certain other person had noticed it yet as well.
“I think I love him, Ginny. What do I do?” Ginny sighed in reply and helped herself to a scone.
“Well, it’s going to cause a stir when you tell Ron and Harry. Harry is determined to hate Draco, although maybe I can talk to him. Ron is just going to be crushed. He was hoping that his theory would be proved false.”
“Why is that?” Hermione looked puzzled, and Ginny gave her a look of reproach.
“Because he didn’t want you to get involved with Draco. He- well, he had hoped that you would fall for him, actually.” Hermione was shocked.
Yes, Ron had always been there for her, and there had been plenty of times last year when she and Ron had been left together while Harry was off being moody and full of wizard angst, but she could not imagine him being at all attracted to her. She’d always been that best friend/sister type to him. She thought of him and Harry both as the brothers that she wished she had.
“Is Ron- what I mean to say is, does Ron have feelings for me?”
Ginny nodded solemnly. “But he loves you more like a friend than anything else, and he just wants you to be happy. I think that if it’s explained to Harry in such a way, he might come around too. That is if you even want to be with Draco. What happened ‘Mione?”
“A lot has happened, and it’s all been so fast.”
Hermione took a deep breath, then began to tell Ginny about her thoughts of Draco, and how he’d looked sad and pale. Of how she had gone wandering the other night, and been thinking in the Prefect’s bathroom, then sinking in the Prefect’s bathroom. She told Ginny how Draco had pulled her out, and kissed her, then left her with more wondering than she had had before.
Ginny learned that Hermione had been hoping that Draco would kiss her again, only this morning when they’d been interrupted by the duel. How Hermione had been at odds with the situation, unsure of where to stand in its midst. Then she told Ginny about the kiss before Potions, and then the whole dramatic happening in the closet downstairs.
When Hermione was done unraveling her tale, she sat in silence, staring at the plate of scones as if it were a Penseive and going to help reveal the mysteries of her thoughts and feelings. Ginny broke the silence after a minute of thinking through what Hermione had shared.
“Did he ever give you any indication that this was all a game to him? That he was only doing this to make you miserable?”
“Well, not altogether. He definitely played it off as if he would tell everyone that I had been breaking school rules and am a tragically horrible swimmer. I didn’t want it to get around the school, and you know how well these students can keep a secret.”
Ginny rolled her eyes, very aware of the loose tongues that her classmates had. Gossip at Hogwarts flew faster than Harry on his Firebolt in pursuit of the Snitch. There was no doubt that rumors were already flying from the way Hermione described her flight from Draco. The mere fact that they were seen coming out of the closet with one another, by no less than five students was enough to assure Ginny that the Great Hall would be abuzz with the affair in the morning.
“Hermione…” Ginny ventured, “What do you feel for him? Tell me honestly.”
Hermione knew a moment of pause as she assessed her feelings for Draco Malfoy. Her heart beat a rapid tattoo at the thought of him, but she also was cautious as to his real reasoning behind his treatment of her. She wanted to love him, her heart was saying it was so, but her mind, that rational logical part of her, overrode her emotions for the time being and told her that she was not yet ready.
“I am quite certain,” Hermione began, “That I do not know what to think of him. There is a part of me that wants to run down the Slytherin dungeons and throw myself into his embrace. Yet there is a bigger, louder part of me that says I am safer staying away from him.” Her mind made up, Hermione looked up into Ginny’s face with a new resolve.
“I will put him from my mind. I don’t need to tax myself with thoughts of him, as he is obviously going to make a mockery of me now that I have not upheld my half of the bargain we struck. I refuse to be in his company and therefore he will more than likely tell everyone that I am not as perfect as they thought I was.”
She drew a deep breath, secure in her decision. She straightened her shoulders and tried on a small smile. Ginny saw Hermione pull herself together right before her very eyes. Shoulders went back, and her head held itself up. In the space of only a few seconds, Hermione had gathered herself together. She picked up a scone, and quite happily enough bit into it as if she had not a care in the world.
Ginny was amazed. This was the person who only an hour ago was distraught and inconsolable. Now it was as if a curtain of general cheer had fallen over Hermione’s demeanor, and the contrast was startling.
Ginny was glad that she could see her friend appear happy again, but she doubted highly that she was truly happy. Hermione smiled widely at Ginny again, although Ginny thought she sensed the tremble in Hermione’s lips before she fixed her smile firmly in place.
Hermione leaned in closer to Ginny, and gave a rather forced sounding laugh, then said,
“So you’ve been talking to Harry quite a bit, have you?”