Hermione and Ginny had been worried about how to find out Ron’s and Harry’s intentions for about a week. After the kiss in the common room Harry seemed to be avoiding Ginny, while Ron seemed to be unable to even speak to Hermione without blushing and running from her. The girls both knew their own feelings, but with Ron and Harry acting as they were, to say the situation was confusing would be a vast understatement. Both girls could be found together throughout the rest of term, under the story that Hermione was tutoring Ginny for her upcoming O.W.L. exams. Harry didn’t know what to do around Ginny, especially now that they had shared that kiss.
The monster in his chest seemed to be demanding that he find a way to spend time with her, but his mind kept telling him that Ron would hate him, or worse for dating his little sister. His time outside of class could easily find him helping Hagrid or talking to Dumbledore, mostly in an attempt to avoid all three of them. After another week of this behavior, having found out that Ron would talk to Ginny a little, and Harry seemed able to open up to Hermione, a plan began to hatch under the famous bushy brown hair, but how to get Ginny alone long enough to make it work?
Hermione had already made it known that she was unsure if she would rather enter the magical law enforcement office, or become a healer, but thankfully either would provide the perfect opportunity to get the information she needed now. Walking to the dungeon, she practiced how to ask without arrousing suspicions. When she reached the door of Professor Snape’s office, she paused to steel herself and knocked.
“Come in.” Professor Snape said curtly, clearly sounding as if he did not want to be disturbed.
“Professor Snape, I am sorry to disturb you, but I need to ask you a question that may come up on my N.E.W.T. classes, and Professor Slughorn is in Hogsmeade, do you have a moment?” She asked as politely as she could.
“Make it fast, Granger, I do not have much time, as you can see.” He motioned toward a stack of essays on his desk.
“Yes, sir, of course, I don’t wish to take up any more of your time than necessary. I was looking over the information I received about what I need to know for my N.E.W.T. exam, and there is one question I cannot seem to answer. How is it possible for Polyjuice Potion to last longer than one hour per swallow?” No sooner than she had finished asking did the now infamous eyebrow arch.
“Planning on more rule breaking?” He seemed to almost know what she was planning immediately.
“Not at all sir. As you know, I have expressed interest in a possible career with the Auror office, either in the field, or not. Either way, I may need to know this, and it has peaked my curiosity.” She seemed comfortable with the lie, although she was not sure how he would react.
“Miss Granger, I am surprised to finally find a question you would not have been able to answer instantly, have you not read next year’s potions manual cover to cover already?” Snape was enjoying this, and Hermione decided to play this up.
“No, sir, I have not. As you know, we have been kept busy, and I have not been able to read for anything but assignments thus far, but I am going nearly insane not knowing.” Hermione thought she saw something in his glare that almost betrayed knowing, but he began speaking soon after.
“As you know, using hair as the essence of the person to be impersonated, one swallow of the potion will transform you for one hour. Hair, of course, is not the most perfect sample though. Sweat, tears, or blood, however, carries a stronger imprint of your subject, with blood lasting up to 6 hours in many cases. Naturally, and as you saw with Barty Crouch Jr three years ago, hair is the easiest to use, except that it requires a vast supply of the potion, but it is easier to get without notice. Is that what you wanted to know?” Snape seemed to want her to leave him alone, and Hermione did not want press her luck here, as she had learned so much more than she could have dreamed of, but something else was nagging her.
“I have just one more question sir, and I will be going. Is there anything that will cancel the effects of the potion?” As Hermione asked, she noticed a look in his eyes that told her she had said almost too much.
“Are you referring to an antidote, Miss Granger?” Snape’s tone was almost accusing, but he had recomposed his face into his classic stare.
“Well, Professor, perhaps I should tell you the example that I was given. An auror takes the Polyjuice potion to impersonate someone, to get close to a suspect. After only a few minutes they get the information they need, and cannot wait until the effects wear off. Is there anything that will cancel the effects early, so that the auror can more easily continue his duties?” Hermione was instantly glad she anticipated the need for an example, as she was almost sure Snape would ask this, so she waited.
“Miss Granger, as I am sure you have read, there is no known antidote to the Polyjuice potion. The only way I can think of is to have a store of Polyjuice with your own essence, or as you stated, the auror’s own essence, using the same type of sample as originally used, but this is very dangerous, as the potions can react and poison the person taking them. Naturally, it is better to inform anyone you may be interacting with in the course of your duties as an auror who you will be impersonating, thus allowing time to let the original dose wear off. Now, if you do not mind, I must return to these essays, as I must finish them soon.” Snape made sure his voice had the tone needed to ensure Hermione did not push on, and turned back to the essays, making a note to himself that Granger was making Polyjuice, but he would have to wait until he speaks to Malfoy again before investigating further.
“Thank you, sir. Again, I am sorry to have disturbed you, and I do appreciate your time.” Hermione had already reached the door, and after closing it, she began running back to the common room.
Hermione practically ran back through the hallways to the common room. She hadn’t gotten quite the answer she wanted, but at least she had enough information to keep Ginny and herself safe. As she entered the common room, she began looking for Ginny, she could barely wait to tell her the plan, but would Ginny agree to it? It was almost common knowledge that she has had a crush on Harry since well before even Harry went to Hogwart’s, a fact most people passed off as hero worship, but after meeting him, the crush took on a different path.
In her very first year at school Harry had saved her life, even though he believed he would be dead before she exited the Chamber, he though only of her. At the same time, Ron’s feelings for Hermione, as well as her feelings for him, began to show a little more outwardly. Yes, it was true that both Ron and Harry often spent their free time at Hermione’s bedside in the Hospital Wing, but everyone who told her about those days and nights told her that Harry seemed more concerned with stopping the over all threat, and while he did care for Hermione, it appeared more as a platonic care. Ron, on the other hand, seemed almost destroyed when Hermione was attacked. She tried to get him to talk about this a few times, but they all turned out the same way, with Ron blushing and changing the subject. Now she would know for sure.
“GINNY!” Hermione yelled as she finally saw that famous red hair over the back of one of the sofas, causing Ginny to nearly jump out of her skin.
“What the bloody hell are you doing? You nearly gave me heart failure!” Ginny snapped, but seeing the look of absolute excitement in Hermione’s eyes calmed her a bit, at least knowing nothing was wrong.
“Come with me, I have something to tell you, but I don’t want to be overheard.” She did her best not to let Harry or Ron see her face as she practically drug Ginny upstairs, but they were still suspicious.
“What do you suppose that was all about?” Ron asked as Harry just stared at where Ginny had just vanished.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think it can mean our lives will be uneventful, not with those two collaborating. After all, we know Hermione has almost made it her life’s mission to see me married, despite the war.” Harry trailed off, but continued watching the stairs, while Ron sniggered a bit at the thought of Hermione tailing Harry just to get him to marry someone. As he though this, though, he wondered what it would be like to have Harry as a brother-in-law.
“Ginny, I found a way for both of us to finally get some answers from those two, whether they like it or not.” Hermione was practically beaming when she said it, and her eyes had that classic fire seen only when she had a particularly juicy mystery to solve.
“Go on.” was all Ginny could manage to say, she was intrigued, but she didn’t like the idea of tricking Harry into talking.
“Polyjuice Potion” Hermione exclaimed, “I’ll be you, and you’ll be me. Harry talks to me a little more, and Ron to you more than me. They haven’t talked about us because we haven’t pushed them. They need to at least say what they are thinking and feeling, even if it’s not what we want to hear, otherwise it could end up making them sick, or worse. It’s not good to bottle stuff up, so we’re really helping them, and ourselves, of course.” Seeing Ginny’s bewildered face she just waited, smiling almost devilishly, but all the same innocently.
“OK, say I agree to this, don’t you think they’ll notice us taking a drink of something every hour or so? After all, that guy pretending to be Moody had to carry a flask of the stuff around, didn’t he?” Ginny wanted this to work, but she had to admit it seemed almost too difficult to try.
“No, not if we use something stronger than hair.” Hermione started. “Mind you, Snape is probably suspicious now, because Slughorn won’t be back until Sunday night, so I had to ask him, but I didn’t have to rob the stores here this time, I bought all of the ingredients last summer, after all, with Harry around, you never know when you might need it. Plus, when you use blood, even the voice changes, so we’ll sound like each other too, but” Hermione trailed off a bit here, leaving Ginny wondering what she wasn’t saying.
“But what, Hermione? You seem to have thought this out, what’s bothering you?” Ginny seemed so interested now that Hermione couldn’t back out even if she wanted to, so she went on.
“Two things Ginny. First, with all of the death eater activity, and those pesky leaflets from the ministry, when we just ask this stuff out of the blue, the boys may get a little suspicious, so we’ll need to make sure both of us know the right answers if they check us. Second, there is the chance that we will hear what we don’t want to hear. Don’t mistake me, while I don’t want to hear that Ron actually wants to be with someone else, I need to. Could you handle it if Harry said something like that?” Hermione searched her friend’s face for a moment before Ginny spoke.
“Yes, I could. I don’t want to hear that Harry doesn’t want to be with me, especially after what I felt when we kissed, but if I don’t know, I’ll always wonder. When are we doing this?” Ginny was practically stony, despite all of Hermione’s warnings about what could go wrong, she was ready to do it, and Hermione began the details.
“Saturday, after breakfast. Snape told me that blood can make the potion last up to six hours. I don’t want to push it, so I am going to go on his warning to not depend on more than four hours, seeing as I am not a potions master.” Ginny cut across her here.
“YET! Hermione, we all know you’re brilliant, but I’m going to go with you on this, as I am most assuredly not any good at potions.” Ginny cut off, and Hermione continued.
“Well, we plan on four hours, so don’t go anywhere too far from a bathroom, so you can excuse yourself if you need to get one more gulp. I have two small flasks, one for each of us, but it only holds enough for one gulp, meaning only an extra four hours. If we don’t get the answers on Saturday, we’ll have to try again later, agreed?” Ginny nodded. “Now, if Harry asks you what Snape’s first question to him directly in our first year was, and what the correct answer is, tell him Snape asked what you get when you add powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood. The correct answer is,”
“The draught of living death." Ginny interjected, causing Hermione to beam at her.
“Well, I might say you are better at potions than you let on, but that is not the point right now. What’s Ron’s question for you?” Hermione asked.
“Well, if the blockhead actually does things right and asks, he will ask you what made me use the bat bogey hex on him for the first time. During the summer holiday after my first year, he stole my favorite stuffed bear and ended up tearing it. After I hexed him, he tried to repair it, and failed, but I was able to, which only made him mad, it was funny too, so make sure to chuckle when you say it.” Ginny even chuckled here at the thought of doing it again, and showing him up again.
“Good, the potion will be ready tomorrow morning, so come back here after breakfast, but before we change we need to get the boys to agree to meet us and talk, and then tell each other when and where the meeting is, OK?” Ginny nodded and made to leave, but stopped at the door.
“Thank you Hermione, and I’d have to agree with what Ron says about you. You’re a little scary sometimes, brilliant, but scary. If anyone can land him, it’s you, sis!” Ginny smiled at her, and went back downstairs.
Before Ginny went back downstairs to talk to Ron, she realized that she needed something in the way of a reason. She went to her dorm and sat down, thinking of why she would need to talk to Ron, but her thoughts kept coming back to the kiss she and Harry shared only weeks before. After reliving that moment a few times she realized she was crying, and it hit her like a bolt of lightning, big brother moment! Composing herself, she went downstairs, pausing on the last step to look for Ron.
“RONALD BILLIUS WEASLEY! WE NEED TO TALK, NOW!” she snapped, and seeing a very surprised crowd staring at her, suppressed a smile. Ron, now a darker red than Harry had ever seen did not wait, but walked sheepishly toward the portrait hole to meet Ginny. Following like a dog caught nosing the trash bin, he allowed her to lead him out into the corridor.
“What’s wrong Gin, have you been crying?” Ron was shocked, Ginny was not the kind of girl to go all weepy for no reason, and as far as he could remember, had never snapped at him like that while at school.
Looking up at him through slightly bloodshot eyes, she began. “Ron, I know that I have to wait for Harry to get through whatever it is that is bothering him. We all have a lot on our minds, but Hermione is so confused. You get all protective at the Yule Ball, even a little jealous when she shows up with Krum, but then you go snogging Lavender Brown all year. When you finally break up with her,” Ginny stopped, not wanting to give anything away, and looked away from him for a moment before going on, “Hermione thought maybe you two could at least talk, but now you’re treating her like she has dragon pox or something. What’s going on in that thick head of yours?”
Ron was more than a bit shocked. Ginny was not the match making type, yet here she was talking about him and Hermione like she wanted them to get married. “Gin, I don’t know. Hermione is great, but she’s one of my best friends, I just don’t know. Why the sudden interest in my life?”
“Ron, I know that you two are good friends, but you can be so thick sometimes.” Ginny cracked a little smile. “Meet me in the library tomorrow after breakfast, Hermione said Hagrid wanted to have tea tomorrow, so she won’t be there. Maybe I can clue you in a little on how girls think, but I won’t push you to do anything, OK?” Seeing his eyes light up just a little she knew he would say yes, and the plan was half set.
“OK, but we have to make sure no one is around, OK?” Ron croaked, “Now come on, it’s after curfew, and I don’t want Filch to find us, the old git.” With that, Ron gave the password, and asked the Fat Lady not to tell anyone what she had over heard, before going back inside with Ginny.
After Ginny all but dragged Ron out into the corridor, Hermione sat down where Ron had been sitting with Harry. She knew that she couldn’t be as up front with Harry as Ginny had ben with Ron, so she opted for a softer approach.
“Harry, is everything all right? You just seem so distant lately, you know you can talk to me, right?” Hermione began, but Harry didn’t seem to be listening. “Harry? Are you even listening to me?”
“What? Oh, sorry Hermione, I just have a lot on my mind right now. Let’s talk tomorrow, OK? I have to go see Professor Dumbledore tonight.” Harry said, and Hermione couldn’t believe it was going to be that easy. Suppressing a small grin, she agreed, but also told him she would wait up to hear about the lesson.
Back upstairs Ginny and Hermione were positively giddy. Their plan was working better than either could have foreseen. Now the hard part, actually getting the boys to talk about their feelings, but they were too far in to stop now.
The next morning each of them waited until they were completely alone in Gryffindor Tower before taking their potion and hiding their backup flask to go to breakfast. After a rather quiet meal, broken only when Seamus Finnigan tried again to turn his water to rum, but succeeded only in blowing up his toast, they left with their respective quarries. True to expectations, both of them were more than suspicious, just not for the right reasons. After both of them received satisfied answers to their secret questions, the girls plowed ahead.
As Ron and Ginny, or at least who he thought was Ginny, entered the library, he checked every table and aisle before finally sitting down in a small alcove in the back. “So, why the sudden desire for me to be date Hermione, Gin?” he asked, eyeing her suspiciously.
“Well, if you must know, we talk, and she really likes you, but she thinks you don’t even want to be around her at all any more. You are breaking her heart, Ron, and I can’t stand to see her hurt like that, GIT!” Hermione was thankful she and Ginny had spent as much time as they had going over the little details, because Ron actually seemed to relax when she called him GIT.
“Gin, I like Hermione, I really do, but come on, she doesn’t like me like that, we’re just friends. Merlin knows I want to ask her out, but every time we talk we just end up fighting, and I think she prefers that, she always wins.” Ron seemed a little upset but not at always losing arguments.
“Ron, you really are thick aren’t you? Hermione may be smart, but you’re smart too, just in a different way. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, a way to keep you far enough away without pushing too much, so she doesn’t get hurt.” Hermione was shocked that she was able to talk to Ron like this, but since he thought she was Ginny, she could say what she really thought, and he would pass it off as something she had told Ginny.
“Come on, Gin! Hermione Granger, afraid? I don’t think so, you’ve seen her, she’s amazing! Always knows where to find anything we need to know, ready to be petrified by a basilisk just to get to us and tell us. I’d have stayed put in the dorms to avoid that thing.” He trailed off a bit, realizing it had actually been Ginny, possessed by Voldemort though, who released the basilisk.
Hermione blushed a bit, and Ron thought he said something wrong, so he changed the subject. And last year, going against old-toad-face and convincing Harry to help set up the D.A., I, well, she’s just amazing, what would she see in me?” Ron seemed to have completely changed in less than a year, but war can do that. Hermione was floored, he thought she was brave, smart, and he actually called her amazing!
“Ronald Weasley, you thick headed git, tell her! I’ve been spending a lot of time with her lately and trust me, she does like you like that.” Ron’s surprised look caught her off guard, and she stopped.
“I, well, I just thought she always liked Harry, even thought she wanted him to dump you so she could snag him.” Ron cringed as Hermione drew Ginny’s wand, but she just giggled.
“Ron, first off, Hermione doesn’t want to be a rebound girl, and second, Harry and Hermione are like brother and sister, and to think of them dating, ugh!” Hermione was doing all she could to not just throw herself into Ron’s arms and snog him right there, but she had to keep reminding herself she looked like Ginny, so she wouldn’t. After another hour or so, they went back to the common room, but before going upstairs, Hermione remembered something else Ginny had told her, and stopped. “OH, just one more thing Ron. If you ever call me ickle-Gin-Gin again, you will pray for this. BOGUS BATES!” Ron ran for the stairs to the boys dorms as a flock of bat shaped bogeys came toward him. Hermione would definately need to remember that little gem, and she went upstairs to wait for Ginny.
Just as Ron and Ginny went to the library, Harry led Hermione outside, and headed for the old beech tree to talk. After a few minutes of small talk, Ginny decided it was time to push on. “Harry, why are you avoiding Ginny? I mean, after that kiss, I thought you’d be joined at the hip or something. Is everything OK?” Ginny had to work quite hard to keep the pain and fear out of her voice, she was bracing for the worst, but hoping for the best as she sat there.
“I just don’t know Hermione, I mean don’t get me wrong, the kiss was” Harry seemed to almost be in a trance, “well, perfect. But I don’t want her to get hurt. I have to face Voldemort, and he’s not getting any more patient, I wouldn’t be surprised it if happened this summer, and I can’t let her get hurt, even if it means I never get to see her again.”
Ginny was stunned, he wasn’t upset, and he did like her. Just like Harry-Bloody-Potter to let his hero complex ruin his life, and hers. “Harry, trust me, everyone in Griffyndor saw the kiss, so I’m sure the whole school knows about it, so if you don’t think” Ginny steeled herself “Voldemort will target Ginny, or anyone else close to you, you’re being as thick headed as Ron, Fred, and George put together!”
“Come on Hermione, no one’s that thick.” Harry chuckled, but just then he saw something in Hermione’s eyes that caught his attention, why was she so interested in playing match maker now? Now he was on the offensive, and he would find out what was going on.
“Hermione, why do you think she likes me? I mean, I know she told me she had a crush on me since forever, but this doesn’t seem like a crush. Do you think it was the chamber that drew us together?” Harry had to do all he could not to show the malicious smile he wanted to, but he had to play out his hunch. True to form, Ginny had expected the boy-who-won’t-sodding-give-up to try to trick her.
“Harry, Ginny told me about the Chamber of Secrets. You never blamed her for opening it, we all knew it was You-Know-Who. She still doesn’t talk about it much, I’ve been trying to get her to open up, but she’s a Weasley after all, stubborn you know. She did tell me, however, that you cared more for her getting out than yourself. I think that’s what did it, that’s when she knew she truly had feelings for you.” Ginny was worried now, it had been almost five hours since she drank the potion, and while she was getting somewhere, Hermione would be waiting and Harry wasn’t letting her even get out of sight to take another drink.
“I suppose I should talk to her, after all, I don’t want her hating me, right?” Harry mused, almost to himself.
“Too-right you should, you block head. Girls aren’t that complicated you know, we just have to deal with the likes of you boys so often we get a bit frustrated.” Ginny smirked at him and made to leave.
“Tell me one more thing, Hermione. What did you use in the Polyjuice Potion today, it only lasted an hour for Ron and me in second year?” Harry knew it, Hermione would never have pried that much information out of Ginny, and she was not that playful about the differences between boys and girls, he had her cornered and now he got to watch her squirm, time to enjoy it.
“Well, you know blood lasts almost six hours.” Ginny froze, what did she just say? As she made to push Harry aside he grabbed her arm and held her there.
“Don’t even think about runny Ginevra Molly Weasley, now we do need to talk.” Harry eyed her playfully as she stood frozen, rooted to the spot.
“What, how, when, how” Ginny was spluttering, but stopped as she doubled over and the potion began to wear off. After a moment or two, she stood there as herself, looking on the verge of tears, but as she saw Harry smiling, she straightened up and began to slap him anywhere she could reach.
“HEY! I’m not the one who decided to trick me, why do I get slapped?” Harry was dodging slaps while he tried to think of a way out of this attack.
“You - insensitive - git! You - let - me - think - it - worked - and - nearly - gave - me - heart - failure!” She made for her wand, but realized it had fallen when she changed back.
“Accio wand!” Harry shouted as she spotted it. “I don’t think so Gin, now sit!”
Ginny sat down where she had been earlier and just glared at Harry.
He’s enjoying this, the git, making me suffer, probably doesn’t even really like me. OOH, the bat bogey will be mild compared to his fate!
“Now Gin, why did you” he stopped “well, I guess I know why, I was being kinda stubborn wasn’t I? But why didn’t you just corner me? We all know Weasley women aren’t afraid to corner someone.” Harry tried to avoid laughing as she seemed to soften a bit.
“Harry, when you stopped talking to me after we kissed, I was mortified. I’ve loved you since you told me to get out of the chamber, even though you were dying. I only dated the other boys because Hermione told me to just move on, but I never did. I guess I couldn’t stand the possibility of cornering you, only to hear you don’t want me.” She sniffed and a tear rolled down her cheek. Harry pulled her chin up to meet her eyes and wiped the tear away with his finger.
“Gin, I do like you, well more than like you, but I want you to be safe, and I am not safe right now. Tell you what, we’ll play this war by ear, but if I tell you not to look for me, will you promise to respect that?” Harry was not about to laugh now, he just searched her eyes and waited.
“I can’t promise I won’t worry, and I can’t promise I won’t look for you, but I’ll do my best to wait until you come back to me, OK?” She couldn’t say anything more, she was lost in those emerald eyes, wanting to never let him go.
Harry leaned in, kissed her softly, one hand at her back and the other in tangled in her long, red hair. After a few moments he pulled away and after helping her up, said “Well, I guess you should take that back-up potion, knowing Hermione probably gave you one. We don’t want you walking past people you just walked past, do we now, Hermione?”
“You are so dead when I get you alone again, Mr. Potter, you just better hope that my Mum doesn’t hear how you’ve treated me.” Hermione now stood before him, waggling her finger menacingly. After a few moments they walked back to the common room to find a sullen Ron who nearly tackled his sister. Harry was able to control him until she got upstairs to find something, after all, it wouldn’t be good to have him snog his sister, now would it?”
The following weeks were bliss. Ron and Hermione were growing closer, Ginny having convinced Ron a second time to talk to Hermione on his own. Harry and Ginny were spending every spare minute together, which was, naturally, quite difficult. Harry’s private lessons with Professor Dumbledore, along with Ginny’s preparation for her O.W.L. exams were taking up more and more time each day.
Finally, the Easter holidays arrived. Both Harry and Hermione had been invited to the Burrow for the week, Hermione was going home for two days to see her parents, knowing that the coming summer would most likely find her at the Burrow, and wanting to see her family again. The days passed with extraordinary speed, filled with two-aside Quidditch, fabulous meals from Mrs. Weasley, and time spent alone with Ginny. It wasn’t until Harry found himself preparing to go back to Hogwart’s that he realized his scar had not burned once all week, and that he was even able to forget what he knew was going to happen, eventually.
The peace was broken almost instantly upon returning, however. Harry was called to Professor Dumbledore’s office, and learned that he was going to be able to go with Professor Dumbledore, although he did not exactly know where they were going, or what they were going to do. On his way to the Headmaster’s office, having run into Professor Trelawney, he knew that it was happening. As he pressed the Felix Felicis into his friends’ hands, he wondered if he would ever see them again. Little did he know just how much was to happen that night.
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