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Hermione froze unable to wrench her eyes from the empty kitchen doorway. The shock of being discovered had rooted her to the spot. She blinked hard and tried to swallow, her throat dry. For once her mind was failing her, each of the many thoughts she currently possessed had become jumbled and meant nothing, logic would not prevail and she cast her eyes helplessly to Harry who had also become momentarily struck dumb by the shock.

"How long was she there?" Harry questioned taking his eyes off Hermione and grasping the back of the kitchen chair.

"I don't know but... Oh Harry what have we done?" She covered her mouth with one hand and placed the other across her stomach. She felt sick, the panic that had rendered her speechless before had passed and now a pure vein of guilt was coursing through her. She unlike Harry knew that the consequences of Ginny's discovery held a far greater meaning than he currently understood. This was not how she had planned on broaching the subject with Ginny if she ever indeed would and now the prospect of dealing with the aftermath of their actions suddenly became far more daunting than ever. "How could I be so stupid!' She cursed herself, the Weasley's kitchen was hardly the perfect place to conduct such a scandalous scene regardless of how spontaneous the moment may have been. To do such a thing here of all places was nothing short of insulting and was fast becoming an action she regretted.

"I'll go talk to her." Harry said turning to make for the kitchen door. He was sure if he could just explain things clearly to Ginny he could hopefully convince her not to divulge the details to her brother at least not until Harry could do so himself.

"No Harry wait." Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him back towards her hard. "I'll go. You don't understand Harry it has to be me. Please" she couldn't subject Ginny to having Harry burst into her room to explain themselves. She could imagine if the same thing would happen to her and it made her blood run cold. "Just trust me please. Wait in the garden, I'll come see you afterwards. Don't talk to Ron not yet." She pushed Harry tersely towards the open door to the backyard and took off towards the stairway of the house. She took the first set at speed but gradually slowed down as Ginny's bedroom door loomed ever closer. Try as she might no words would come to her, no decent explanation, no considerate sentence. She wouldn't be able to talk her way out of this but she knew the truth would be devastating to Ginny and possibly a few more people depending on how Ginny decided to react.

She stopped at Ginny's door and wrung her hands together. Her frizzy hair was all over the place and she was sure her face remained flushed. She took long deep breaths and stared at the Chudley Cannons poster tacked to the door of Ginny's room. She knocked lightly three times and listened instantly for a reply from within. Nothing. "Ginny." Her voice sounded strained and anxious so she cleared her throat and knocked again. "Ginny it's me, can we talk." Something moved from within the room but no one answered. "Please."

"Hermione go away."

Hermione could tell instantly that Ginny had already been crying and her heart sank, she had never felt so low. She knew she couldn't leave, not now.

"Ginny let me in. Just let me explain." Hermione tried to push the door lightly but it didn't budge. She'd wait outside all day if she had to. "Ginny what you saw it... it wasn't meant to happen, I didn't plan on it, I..." Hermione felt helpless and placed a hand on the door. "I'm so sorry."

"Sorry?" She could hear Ginny's heavy footsteps approaching the door as it swung open with force causing Hermione to retract her hand and grasp it to her chest. Ginny stood defiantly at the entrance, her hair once tied now loose and tangled, her eyes not yet red from her tears but still holding the remnants of a recent heavy bout of them. Hermione couldn't tell if Ginny was furious or just merely devastated. Ginny wasn't one for crying and the look was alien on her face. Even the few occasions she had shed tears she rarely let anyone see her face. "You're sorry? Sorry for what? Sorry I caught you? Sorry for stabbing me in the back? Sorry for telling me to wait?" Her accusing tone was bubbling with anger but to Hermione's surprise yet another tear rolled down Ginny's face, she scrubbed at it forcefully with the sleeve of her top and turned back into the room walking over to her bedroom window grasping the sill tightly.

Hermione remained silent and entered the room quietly closing the door behind her. She walked over to the bed and perched herself on the side facing the window looking at Ginny's back. She was tempted to place a hand on her shoulder but thought better of it.

"I don't have an excuse Ginny, I've not come here for that. I just need to explain please."

Ginny turned and sat on the window side, her eyes defiantly staring daggers into the girl inside her room. "Go on then." She demanded crossing her arms in front of her.

"Look I know how you feel about Harry. I..."

"Of course you do. It was you I told. Remember? Or has all that snogging knocked it out your head?" Ginny looked fit to burst but took a deep breath and continued. "I told you because I thought you'd understand. You even encouraged me. Told me to just be myself, give it time, don't rush into it. Now I see you just wanted to make the opportunity for yourself. Didn't fancy the competition hey?"

Hermione's stomach turned. She cast her mind back to the girls Gryffindor dormitory. The night after a trip into Hogsmeade. She could vividly picture the moment Ginny confessed to her all her feelings for Harry. It was after seeing him and Cho inside Madam Puddifoot's tea shop. Though they didn't exactly look cosy the mere fact they were going on dates together had hit Ginny hard and the desperate need to seek some solace had fell to Hermione. Ginny knew she could trust Hermione with this, knew she wouldn't laugh, wouldn't tell. Truth is it gave Hermione comfort to know she wasn't the only one struggling to watch as Harry's time was being spent more and more often in the presence of Cho. It settled her and in giving Ginny advice it helped tend to her own wounded pride and jealous stripes she'd kept hidden so well.

"Please Ginny don't say that. I thought my chance with Harry was gone. I just wanted you to be happy. I just wanted you to..."

"Oh shut up. I poured my heart out to you. What an idiot. I was just pleased to have someone I could talk to about it. I didn't realise you were laughing at me the whole time." Ginny was going for anger but she looked more hurt than anything.

"I wasn't laughing at you. You're my friend Ginny. I just messed up. I should have told you how I felt I just..."

"You just what?"

"Oh come on! First Cho then you. What was the point. I didn't think I stood a chance. Me and Harry don't make sense but you... Cho..."

"Oh don't try and make me feel sorry for you Hermione it won't work. Don't insult me!"

"I'm not, I didn't realise Harry felt the same way till this morning. I'm sorry, I just got carried away."

Hearing this rendered Ginny silent, the daunting fact that Harry had returned Hermione's interest was slowly covering her like a cloud. The heavy bell of pain and jealousy ringing inside her frantic mind.

"But it doesn't matter, we're not going to do anything about it anyway." Hermione's voice trailed off and a sad lilt wrapped the last few words.

"Why?" Ginny frowned and momentarily the nettled sting had vacated her voice.

"Because of Ron that's why." Hermione clenched her fists and stared at the carpeted floor.

"It's a bit late to be worrying about my brother. Should have thought about that before you started kissing his best friend." The fight was back in Ginny's tone.

"It's not just that. It is that of course but... Harry needs him Ginny, he can't do all this alone, he..."

"Oh so you're just going to use my brother is that it. Keep him in the dark until it's over, wait until you two can reveal your dirty secret and then make a fool of him."

The accusation hit Hermione hard, the truth in Ginny's words was something she had tried not to consider. A way to make the decision easier.

"I..." Hermione had no retort. She felt ashamed of herself.

"My brother adores you. Don't pretend you don't at least have some idea." Ginny scowled. "You think I can watch you just walk all over him and drag this mess out until it's too late. The longer you lie the worse it'll be for him."

"You're right." Admitted Hermione, having someone else tell her this made the matter obvious, made her previous plan of action all the more ridiculous. "But how can I?"

"You're just going to have to. Ron doesn't owe the world anything and it's about time he knew the person he's risking everything for is sneaking around with someone else. Some friend you are." Ginny was being spiteful and she knew it but at this point in time watching a remorseful Hermione squirm was garnering her some small pleasure. "Actually knowing you you'll probably say one thing and do another all together." She spat the words, all the dreaming, all the plans, all the hope she'd had involving her and Harry were gradually fading in front of her eyes. "You know what maybe it would be better coming from someone who isn't out to ruin him." With that Ginny rose from the window sill and made for the bedroom door.

Hermione in a fit of panic shot up off the bed and made to grab Ginny's arm. "Ginny please don't."

She slapped Hermione's hand away and turned to face her, drawing up close and fixing her with a venomous stare. "I trusted you... And all this time you've only had yourself in mind. You may have fooled me but I won't let you fool my brother anymore." She pushed Hermione away who stumbled backwards and clattered into a chest of drawers. Ginny paused for a moment looking at Hermione something other than the rage she felt peppered her expression but after shaking her head she turned heel again and stormed out the room leaving Hermione alone. She was breathing heavily and fear had stuck her feet to the floor. She slammed her hand onto the wardrobe next to her forcing herself to get up and take off after Ginny letting the bedroom door slam shut behind her.

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