In the moonlight
" Hasn't he told you? He said he tried, but you just went berserk." Ron said, finally, putting his hands on his hips.
" Berserk." Hermione repeated the word, trying to fit it into a picture of her mental health inside her head. Am I really going insane? Did Ron just say what I think he just said? Her eyes darted up to his and this time he saw the tears for sure.
" Don't tell me he hurt your feelings by giving you a compliment like that!" Ron exclaimed.
" No, he … you're joking, aren't you?" Hermione stood up, bewildered. The ground rushed by her eyes as she ran back up the staircase, her laced black boots splashing madly on the ground. Her eyes pierced into his, in a challenge for him to tell the truth. Her hands fell down squarely on each of his shoulders, so that he was completely focused on her. " Please tell me you're joking."
Ron shook his head, frightened.
Hermione released him, throwing her hands upwards in an exasperated gesture. " Oh, for Pete's sake…" She sank down to her knees, her back pressed against the unreasonably rough surface of the brick walling. " … I'm such an idiot." A slow, unsteady laugh rose up from inside of her.
Ron covered his head, thinking she'd wallop him good now that she went completely insane. He opened one eye, examining her quivering back. She didn't look like she was laughing now, and then turned, tears now streaming down her face. " Can you believe it? And I just blew him away…"
" Uh, what are you doing?" Ron asked.
Hermione stood, her hands outstretched towards him.
He cowered and shouted: " Hey! I'm just the messenger!"
Hermione hugged him, though, leaving a trail of tears on his cheek where her cheek brushed. " Thank you so much. I still have time to explain everything. That's what I'll do –" She snapped her fingers. " – I'll just apologize profoundly. It's all just a big mistake." Her head swam with fragmented thoughts, suddenly tossed into a whirlwind.
" Well, go!" Ron said, making a shooing motion with his hands. " You're really emotional, aren't you?"
Hermione smiled. " I owe you big, Ron. If not for you, I'd still think that Harry hated me." She brushed her hand across her cheek.
" So you needed me to tell you that Harry liked you, even though Harry told you himself?" Ron was obviously lost in his own little numb brain. " Please explain this all to me. I'm missing a part of the story, aren't I?"
" I promise I'll tell you everything later. I have to find Harry!" She exclaimed, then spun around on her heels and ran.
" I knew she was insane from the moment I met her." Ron said to himself as she ran away.
Harry couldn't believe his bad luck. The second he stepped out of the lunchroom, he had run into Draco Malfoy, who promptly tripped him right into a puddle of spilled cereal. Before Harry could really react to the hostile move, Draco had moved away somewhere with his two goons, Crabbe and Goyle. Not that Harry wanted to look for that creep; his main concern was to just get some rest.
He hadn't slept all night, which resulted in a fluttering, tired feeling inside. His stomach hurt even worse because he hadn't had a chance to even enjoy his breakfast before he made an awkward exit. Now he wanted to kick himself for such a stupid decision. There was nothing for him to be upset about. Maybe Hermione's just moody today. Maybe it's that time of the month. His eyes looked up to see Nearly Headless Nick float by, scratching his severed head in thought.
Harry walked down the hallway, hoping to go into the Gryffindor common room and take a nap, when he heard someone crying. For some reason, he had a strange idea that it was Hermione crying. He arched his neck, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. He decided it was the opposite direction, in one of the classrooms. Taking quicker, wider steps, Harry slowly peeked into the classrooms on the left side of the hall.
Finally, he caught sight of the crying student – Cho Chang, her dark hair spilling in silky strands across her fingers as she sat cradled in a chair in the corner of the room, her hands pressed into her eyes to suppress the tears. She looked up and her almond-shaped eyes flew open in surprise. " Harry!" She lowered her knees from her chest and then immediately stood up. " I… I was just…"
" What's wrong?" Harry asked, finally.
" I…" She took in a slow breath, which caused her whole body to waver somehow. She had lost at least twenty pounds ever since Ceddric died, now her frame was no longer as curvy as before, and she looked wilted. Her eyes were dulled and sad, her hair no longer as rich and black-colored as before. She sighed and came out straight with her problem: " I ditched my date."
" He should cry, then, not you." Harry pointed out.
" No, but I feel awful. I just – after Ceddric, I can't face another boy on a date without feeling like I was cheating him." Cho sniffled and then wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her slightly baggy turtleneck.
Harry dug into his pocket and pulled out a crisp white handkerchief, which he handed to her in a tender and understanding act. Cho took the handkerchief, wiping her eyes with a bit more gusto now. She began again: " I - - I feel horrible. He was really a nice person, one of Ceddric's friends, no less." Cho tugged at a thin, blue string escaping from her sleeve.
" Cho, Ceddric would have wanted you to go out there and find someone just as wonderful as him." Harry said, finally, after a moment of silence.
" You were there when he died." Cho said, softly. " I still feel he suffered. How can I go on, when he'll never be able to go on?" Her chin quivered and she took a few breaths to keep herself from crying again.
" He's probably watching over you as we speak, trying to tell you to dry your tears." Harry sat down beside her. He reached into his back pocket and felt the two tickets inside. He had purchased tickets to go see a movie with Cho, a movie the wizard way – where you could smell and touch, at times, the events occurring on the completely three dimensional screen. When there were fish swimming across the screen, you literally could reach out and feel a fish as it swam inches past you. Now that Hermione obviously didn't want to go with him, he might as well…
" I have some movie tickets. Maybe we can go together." Harry said, finally. " I know I'm no Ceddric, so we can go as friends, just to raise your spirits a bit."
Cho smiled, taking a ticket. " Oh, Harry, this is no nice of you, but..."
Harry grinned, feeling his ears warming. " No need to thank me, I could almost feel Ceddric taking the tickets out of my pocket." Harry admitted. " I know he'd have wanted you to go out once in a while and to enjoy yourself."
She nearly cried again. " … thank you." She could only say, looking at the ticket.
" So, will you be there? It starts in just an hour. Or should I go with you?" Harry asked. I guess I'll have to leave in about five minutes anyway.
" I'll be there..." She put on a brave front. " … and… with Ceddric, too."
Hermione couldn't comprehend why Harry wasn't in Hogwarts. Well, where else could he be? She even asked Neville to search the boy's quarters in the Gryffindor tower, but the only thing they found was yet another awful purple bruise on Neville's forehead when he banged his head on the iron support of one of the beds. Then, just as she hoped to give up, she realized Harry might have gone back to Hogsmeade. It was fairly reasonable, after all, nearly everyone was there at this point, third year and up. First and second years remained in Hogwarts, for obvious reasons.
I'll just go to Hogsmeade. I'll ask if I can go without escort – it's really a simple path by Floo Powder. I'll just go to McGonagall and ask…
After getting a nod from Professor McGonagall, she used the Floo Powder and ended up in a little junk shop. She apologized to the man that was standing at the counter and then she left. Searching Hogsmeade wasn't nearly as easy as it sounded. There were so many people there that she could barely move down the street. She peeked into café windows and through shop window displays, hoping to spot Harry somewhere inside. Instead, all she got were jabs and harsh words from the bustling crowd.
The crowd seemed to carry her now and she couldn't move from the flow. Now she noticed it was more like a disfigured line waiting for something. Hermione decided to wait until she found out what they were waiting for – chances were, Harry was caught in the line as well.
About forty minutes later, she was nearly in front of the line and she could see a large theater house. Oh, great, a theater, and I don't have tickets. I'll get in trouble with those mean-looking guards. She tried to move out of line but there was a rush of people to both sides of the line – people moving out of the theater from the last performance.
She sighed, ruffling the purple plume in the hat of the woman in front of her.
Just then, the woman in front of her gave a stack of tickets to the guard. " For me and my kids." She said, roughly. A group of rowdy, five to ten year old brown-haired boys stampeded into the theater. The guard eyed Hermione and then he swept his eyes from her to the person behind her. " Ticket, please." The guard said, loudly. The old man behind her handed a ticket.
Hermione realized she was just gawking and holding up the line, so she moved into the theater as well. Ah, well, a free movie isn't so bad, is it? She thought, considering her luck. The guard must have thought I was one of the ladies' children.Hermione felt her heart stop as she took a seat. Just three rows down, and a seat to the left, sat Harry Potter. Her heartbeat quickened as she imagined running into him outside, and then her apology, sealed with a burning and passionate kiss. Instead, her eyes stared in horror at the girl sitting beside him – Cho Chang.
We moved on quickly, didn't we, Harry?Hermione thought, bitterly.
She crossed her legs and settled back to enjoy the show. I'll win you back somehow, though. I have the duration of the movie to figure out a plan.
Yet, as brilliant shapes and colors flooded the screen, slowly emerging into the audience so they could get a chance to employ their senses, Hermione's mind drew complete blanks. She didn't know why, but she just couldn't bring herself to approach Harry and Cho. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Just grab his hand, slap her, and walk away? She's had enough trouble ever since her boyfriend died. I should just let her be for now.
She sighed. I'm just too nice for my own good.