She heard the door open, but she did not want to see who it was and kept her face buried in her large fluffy pillow.
Just great. Of all the people she would have liked to avoid at the moment, the most inquisitive and insistent had found her. She would rather face McGonagall than …
Hermione sat down at the end of Ginny’s four-poster bed. “What have you done?”
“W-what?” Ginny spluttered indignantly. “Why me?”
“Well, I haven’t seen such a ruckus in the common room since your twin brothers left Hogwarts, and I thought you might have something to do with it.”
There had been an unmistakable note of sarcasm in Hermione’s voice, which meant that she knew something Ginny did not.
“What are you on about?”
“Are you trying to tell me that you don’t have anything to do with the fight between Dean and Harry?”
Ginny sat up straight. “What fight?”
“The fight they had downstairs in the common room about an hour ago,” Hermione explained in a tone she usually reserved for Ron in his most clueless state, but had no other use for at the time because they were not on speaking terms with each other.
“I don’t know anything about a fight,” Ginny said.
“Could that have anything to do with the fact that you were unavailable for the last hour? Loads of people have been looking for you. Where have you been?”
“I didn’t want to be found.”
“Obviously,” Hermione sighed. “But maybe you could explain to me what happened.”
Ginny averted her eyes. “Harry and I had a conversation and I needed some time alone to think it through.”
Hermione nodded, her sarcasm resurfacing. “Of course, you had a conversation and that’s why Dean hexed Harry.”
Ginny jumped up. “What?”
“Oh.” Hermione pretended innocence. “Haven’t I mentioned it?”
“Well, that’s what I wanted to hear from you.”
Hermione shook her head as if trying to shake off an unpleasant thought, but answered, “As far as I could make out, Dean had words with Harry, accusing him of scaring you or something and he demanded to know what Harry had told you. But Harry refused. He said he’d been made enough of a fool for one day. He suggested Dean ask you, which was not a very practical proposal, because you had run off. Accordingly, Dean didn’t take it too graciously. He drew his wand on Harry and tried to threaten Harry into telling him, but you know Harry when he’s made his mind up.”
She shook her head again, this time in a clearly disapproving manner.
“Hermione,” Ginny said dangerously, “what happened?”
“Oh, Dean hexed Harry.”
Hermione winced. “Relashio.”
Ginny let out her breath. “And I really started to think something terrible had happened.”
Hermione looked up at her. “The hex may not be very powerful in itself, but combined with strong emotions …. After all, Harry used it in the Triwizard Tournament. And Dean was obviously very angry.”
Ginny clenched the pillow.
“Harry has some pretty severe burns. His sweater caught fire and it took several people’s help to extinguish the flames. Dean was quite shocked by what he’d done.”
Ginny was almost at the door, when Hermione stopped her.
“Where are you going?”
“I’ve got see him.”
“He’s with McGonagall. I haven’t seen her that angry since … well, for a long time.”
Ginny shook her head. “Not Dean. Harry!”
Something changed in Hermione’s eyes. “You can’t see him either.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because,” Hermione explained carefully, “he’s in the hospital wing, and Madam Pomfrey has not even allowed me or Ron to see him. You better tell me what happened first.”
“I have told you. We had a talk.”
“Ginny, please, stop trying to take the piss out of me.”
Hermione never swore, and Ginny knew that her friend’s patience had to be stretched to its limits. She sat down again, closed her eyes, hugged her pillow closer and prayed that things were not as bad as they sounded.
“Harry was sitting alone in the common room. I could tell he was lonely, because you and Ron can’t even be in the same room together.”
There. That had paid Hermione back.
“So I asked Dean if I could invite Harry to sit with us a little, but Harry refused. When I asked him why he would turn down a perfectly friendly offer, he told me he was jealous of Dean. That’s it.”
Hermione had closed her eyes and looked very tired all of a sudden.
“Could we keep your idiot brother and me out of this?” she asked.
“If you want to.”
Hermione nodded. “I’d rather know how you made Harry admit he’s jealous of Dean.”
Of course, Hermione had to see the missing link in the story. Ginny did not answer at once and Hermione added, “Harry doesn’t usually wear his heart on his sleeve. He must have had a very good reason to be so open about his feelings.”
“I was angry,” Ginny whispered.
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“I was so angry that he wouldn’t sit with me. And I demanded to know why.”
Silence fell. Hermione looked at the ground, her fingers languidly playing with a lock of her hair.
“What do you think?” Ginny asked anxiously.
“I think you’re in trouble.”
Ginny groaned. She had known that, of course, but Hermione had a knack for putting things in a nasty light.
“If we don’t count your brothers in on this,” Hermione continued unasked, “there are two men in your life. One you date, but don’t love, and another one you love, but don’t date.”
Yeah, Ginny thought, great news, that.
“And now comes the part where you got into trouble. Tonight the one you love has more or less admitted to love you too. And although it does sound good, there are two problems. First, he didn’t want to tell you. You had to force it out of him, because he probably didn’t want to interfere with your current relationship, which leads directly to: second, he has no idea that you love him, whatsoever. On the contrary, you’re with a different boy, plus the one you love must suspect that you hate him, because the moment he told you he’s jealous, you ran away. By the way, why did you?”
Ginny nearly jumped with the sudden question. “I…I don’t kow. I had suspected all kinds of silly things, I so much expected to be hurt because he wouldn’t care about me that I just went into shock. I simply ran, because I couldn’t believe it.”
Hermione nodded. “Now the second part of you problem is the guy you date – but don’t love.”
Ginny groaned and buried her face in the pillow.
“Not only have you shown quite a lot of concern for a different boy, you also managed to run out on Dean as well. Consequently, he got into a row with somebody he usually considers a friend and injured him seriously. I don’t think he’ll be pleased, if you explain the situation to him.”
And Hermione had no idea that Dean had even more reason not to be pleased. After all, Ginny had almost bitten his head off for interfering. Why did he have to be such a stupid arse sometimes? He always tried to show off his gentlemanly behaviour which usually made her feel as if he did not believe she was able to do anything without his help. She had warned him not to overdo it, but he had always laughed at her and today he had had to face the consequences.
But he had not faced them, a little voice reminded Ginny. He had beaten a hasty retreat instead. Harry, on the other hand, had held his own against her … longer than any of her brothers would have managed. Quite remarkable, really. She snorted inwardly. As if she needed convincing that Harry Potter was remarkable.
Ginny decided to ignore Hermione’s emphasis on “if” and turned to a question that had been hovering at the back of her mind.
”How could he do it?”
Hermione looked clueless.
“How could Dean hex Harry? He’s no match for Harry.”
“That’s true – if Harry had chosen to defend himself, but I don’t think he did.”
Ginny’s eyes grew wide. “Why not?”
Hermione resumed toying with her hair and when she answered she seemed to be talking to herself. “I can only guess.”
She relapsed into silence for a moment. “Knowing Harry, he’s probably not really angry with you.”
“Not?” Could there be hope?
“No, he’ll be disappointed and hurt, of course.”
No, of course not.
“But he might think it’s all his own fault. He usually does.”
“It’s nonsense, of course, but he’ll feel guilty for liking you and he’ll feel guilty for having admitted it.”
It made sense, Ginny thought. Harry had told her that he had tried to ignore his feelings, that he had not wanted to interfere with her and Dean. And it was very much like Harry to blame himself for something that was not his fault at all. Conversations with Hermione had a tendency to go this way. Usually, one saw things much clearer afterwards, but one did not necessarily feel better.
~ @ ~
Ron and Lavender sat in the common room. They were not snogging for once, which Ginny found remarkable. Hermione had remained upstairs because she did not want to see Ron.
“Ron,” Ginny said, approaching her brother, “I need your help.”
“Forget it,” he grumbled; he was obviously still angry with Ginny.
Ginny stood in front of him and leaned in closely. “Don’t fuss with me,” she warned him with the most dangerous glint she could manage. “I know what’s under the loose floor board in your room at the Burrow.”
Ron blanched. The fact that he kept a picture of Hermione hidden in his room would not go over too well with his…with Lavender.
(A/N: Thank you to Wolf’s Scream and Grimmrook for the rough work on this and to Sherylyn for polishing the result. – Look at my profile for a disclaimer.)