“Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more—myself.”
“Smart girl, that Hermione,” said Harry, trying to smile. “I just wish I’d asked you sooner. We could’ve had ages...months...years maybe....”
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, American Edition, pg. 647
Heaving her bag onto her shoulder, Ginny Weasley exited the Great Hall one bright winter day after lunch and collided with a very pink Hermione Granger.
“Ginny. I’ve been looking for you,” she said, as she took Ginny by the arm and drew her away from the crowd pouring into the hallway. Ginny stumbled along behind Hermione as she tugged her past an old tapestry and down an empty corridor.
“Hermione, slow down. Where are we going?”
She came to an abrupt halt and Ginny stopped short. Hermione looked around self-consciously. The flush in her face was now very near red and she was shifting from one foot to the other.
“Hermione, are you all right?” Ginny asked, now growing concerned. She had never seen Hermione behaving in such a way. She watched as Hermione opened her mouth, shut it, opened it again, and then pressed her lips together in a very thin line.
“Viktor Krum asked me to the Yule Ball,” she squeaked suddenly, her eyes wide.
Ginny felt her own eyes widen and she stared at Hermione as if seeing her for the first time. There was a thud as her bag fell off her shoulder and landed roughly on the stone floor.
“Viktor?” she asked breathlessly. “Viktor Krum?”
Hermione nodded. She looked caught between disbelief and embarrassment. A thousand questions ran through Ginny’s mind, and she asked the first one that came to her lips.
“Just now, in the library.”
“What did he say?” she asked, feeling a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. It only made sense that Hermione would find a date in the library.
“He said that he’d been coming there every day trying to work up the courage to ask me to the ball,” she answered, still not blinking.
“And?” she prompted, almost afraid of the answer.
“And?” Hermione repeated.
“And what did you say?”
Hermione’s eyes were now the size of saucers. Ginny wondered vaguely if she were breathing at all.
“And I said yes,” she whispered, now so red that Ginny could feel the heat coming off her.
She leaned against the wall. “I said yes,” she whispered again, sliding down the wall and coming to rest on the cold floor.
Ginny glanced around the corridor again, making certain it was still deserted. She settled herself beside Hermione and clasped her hands in her lap.
“So,” she began hesitatingly. “This is a good thing, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is,” Hermione answered quickly, her voice sounding odd to Ginny’s ears. “He is terribly nice, and he’s quite interesting. He even seemed a bit embarrassed when he asked me, if you can imagine.”
“That’s great then, Hermione,” Ginny said, feeling deflated somehow. There was a long pause. The voices in the main hallway bounced off the walls, echoing down the corridor.
“Ginny, he doesn’t even see me.”
Ginny looked over at her best friend, knowing specifics, like names, were unnecessary between them.
“He’s an idiot,” she said.
Hermione flashed her a rueful smile.
“A bit,” she answered.
“So that’s it then, is it?”
“I’m not saying that’s it,” she said with a deep sigh. “But I can’t sit around forever, waiting for him to realize that I’m a girl, can I?”
The dull ache that suddenly filled Ginny’s chest had nothing to do with her brother and she forced a tight smile at Hermione.
“No,” she answered. “I don’t suppose so.”
“Oh, Ginny,” Hermione said, as she reached over and took one of Ginny’s thin, freckled hands in her own. “I didn’t mean—”
“No. You’re right, you are. At least you and Ron are friends. What am I to him? Nothing.”
“You’re not nothing, Ginny.”
“I am to him,” she said with a slight shake of her head.
“Maybe,” Hermione shifted uncomfortably, “maybe it’s time for you to get on with it too, Ginny, you know? Maybe go out with a few other boys. You’re smart, and funny and beautiful—”
“I’m nothing of the sort,” Ginny interjected, feeling rather pink herself.
“You really are. And I can see the way Dean and Seamus are looking at you in the common room, even if Ron can’t.”
“He’d have a fit if he heard you talking like that,” she said with a small giggle.
“I just think he might take a bit more notice if you were a bit more, well, you around him, Ginny.”
Ginny sighed, knowing Hermione was probably right.
“Oh!” exclaimed Hermione suddenly, glancing at her watch and jumping to her feet. “It’s ten minutes until the first bell. We’d better get to class.”
Ginny stood and picked up her bag, brushing off her robes.
“Hermione,” she said, “I am happy for you, about Krum. And I hope you have a wonderful time at the ball.”
“Oh. Er—Ginny, about the ball. I think, well, I think Neville might ask you.”
“Me?” she said, surprised. “I thought Neville fancied....”
Her voice trailed off and Hermione flushed pink again.
“He asked me after Potions, but I’d already said yes to Victor.”
“Oh,” said Ginny, feeling very odd indeed. “Right.”
“So...” said Hermione with a small shrug of her shoulders. “Think about what I said, all right?”
She nodded and they exited the corridor, returning to the crowd in the main hallway.
“Hey, Ginny.” Neville appeared beside them, slightly breathless. “Hey, Hermione,” he said, lowering his eyes to the floor.
“Hello, Neville,” she said kindly. “I’ve got to get to class.”
She took her leave, flashing Ginny a look over her shoulder. Ginny watched as she joined Ron and Harry, who was staring past her intently at the bottom of the staircase. Ginny followed his gaze across the hall to where Cho Chang stood with a giggling group of Ravenclaws.
“Listen, Ginny, I was wondering, well, what I mean to say is, I didn’t know....”
Ginny watched him shift nervously, his hands thrust deep into his pockets. She grinned at the top of his head.
“What I mean to say is, I didn’t know if you were, er—going with anyone. To the ball, I mean. And if you—er—well, if you weren’t, if you might want to. Go. With me, I mean.”
He coughed nervously, scuffing one foot on the floor. “As friends, of course.”
The bell rang jarringly and Neville jumped. The students in the hall scattered and Neville gripped his bag tightly.
“Class,” he said with a tight, nervous smile. He tilted his head in the direction of the Transfiguration classroom.
“I’m headed that way as well,” she said, turning and falling into step beside him. “And Neville?”
He turned towards her, a hesitant look on his face.