Moonlight

Souls entwine in a deadly dance

..::Chapter 5::..

Harry walked out into the sunlight again, feeling completely bewildered. It was the first time he saw a movie the "wizard" way, and it astounded him! He could still remember the briny smell of sea water and the amazingly colorful fish in the movie. It was a nature movie about the ocean and sea wildlife – an educational show for an educated date. Cho enjoyed it immensely, even if she wasn't as smart or involved with nature as Hermione was. Now that Harry's eyes adjusted, he tried to figure out where to go next.

Cho took him by the elbow and said, brightly: " Maybe we can go get a butter beer while we're out here."

Harry grinned, glad to see how loosened up Cho became. Her eyes were gleaming so joyfully he didn't know if he'd be able to say no to her at that point. She half-closed her eyes, the long black lashes shading the tears that were beginning to form now. " I'm so glad you took me here. Thank you so much."

Harry's eyebrows raised ever so slightly and he nodded. " It's my pleasure." He dug into his pocket and found some loose change, and with a triumphant grin, he proclaimed: " Butter beer it is, then…" As he led her away, Hermione watched from a few steps aback, her eyes trying to read apart the words their lips formed.

" I could have sworn he called her buttercup!" Hermione said under her breath. " For Heaven's sake, that is just too cheesy, even for a first-timer like Harry." She glanced upwards at the large old-fashioned, Muggle-style clock tower that had been built into the tower of one of the extravagant stores. It was an expensive clothing store, for the fashionable witches out there, or those that wish to fall far behind in their savings.

It's fairly early, I suppose I'll go around the block to beat the crowd, and then get myself something to drink. Butter beer sounds good right now.

So, rounding the corner, she managed to escape the throng of people that had thrown itself upon the shops along the way from the theater. Her mind wandered loosely, trying to avoid the jealous pinch in her stomach that was the result of seeing Harry and Cho. Perhaps it was a charity date, since Cho was practically a widow in a sense after Cedric. Yet, Hermione could only hope that this was the case. I should really grow up. It's not like me at all to be so envious. I should try to focus on that essay Snape assigned. I'm still halfway through, and I've run out of paragraph openers already, and the attention-getting beginning is nowhere as attention-getting as I'd like it to be.

" Oh, shoot." She murmured to herself. There was at least forty people in line in the restaurant. Though the many waitresses were using all their might and magical power to serve and satisfy customers, there was obviously quite a waiting line anyway. Hermione really had no place else to go, and she was surely not about to waste a good opportunity to run into Harry, now that they were at least, as far as she knew, in the same part of Hogsmeade. She hoped that, perhaps, Cho and Harry would see her first, maybe if they walked by the café and saw her through the windows. It would feel too much like spying if she went up to them, and that wasn't the case at all.

She pushed through the crowd of people at the entrance, accidentally jostling some girl in the back, which resulted in a disgruntled little squeak, but other then that, she managed to make it to the other side of the café without an incident. Slowly, she lowered herself into a little chair and then folded her hands on the table. Once the lines thinned out, she'd nab herself a drink.

The room was loud with talking, and of course, a lot of witches brought along children. These little ones would scream and run around like crazy, which drove everyone else up the wall. Hermione felt a bit irritated anyhow, and she hoped that she'd loosen up when she sees Harry. If I see Harry, Hermione reminded herself constantly.

Meanwhile, Harry had taken his place in line outside of the café. Being small and crowded, the line had escaped the building and was now forming outside. Harry looked at Cho's face expectantly, almost as if he wanted to read her mind about whether they should stay or not. Cho smiled at him and said: " I can wait, we don't really have anywhere to hurry off to, right?"

Harry nodded. " Right."

The line moved slowly. Finally, they were waiting inside, and Harry's eyes jerked upwards to see Hermione sitting in the corner of the room, her head bent down low, examining a folded paper napkin on the table with disinterest. She was probably waiting the long line out. His stomach squeezed uncomfortably. What if she sees Cho and me? She'll just get the wrong idea, and then we'll argue more.

However, luck and fate had other things in mind, and stowed away in mind was having Cho notice Hermione first. " Isn't that – it is! Hermione Granger!" Cho's eyes lit up with surprise. " Once we get ourselves out butter beer, we can sit by her… if you'd like."

Cho wasn't really expecting an answer to her statement, she figured that Harry would jump at an occasion to sit with his good friend. Instead, Harry replied: " Wouldn't you rather sit alone? Hermione might be here waiting for a date. It would be awkward to intrude like that."

The large hoop earrings in Cho's ears dangled as she cocked her head to one side. " Who's her Yuletide Friends partner?"

Harry's stomach churned. I knew she'd ask about it sooner or later. Harry looked away from Cho's face and said: " I am."

" Oh." Cho looked disappointed. She seemed to be considering something. Her mind suddenly filled with suspicious thoughts: Did he just drop Hermione so he could go on a date with me? But Harry wouldn't do that! He's too nice to just dump one girl so he can take another… or… is he up to it…?

Harry could see the questioning look on her face and explained: " I… I got into an argument with her."

" What happened?" She asked.

Harry sighed. " I guess I crossed some sort of unsaid rule towards girls… I tried to tell her I… liked… her, and she blew up." Harry's green eyes were remorseful. " She's absolutely peeved at me for it. She was fuming all day, I think, and she wouldn't even look my way during breakfast."

Cho's lips pursed as if she ate something sour.

" So, guess I struck out bad, huh?" Harry dropped his eyes down to his feet.

" Harry, any normal girl would be flattered if a boy like you fell for her." Cho's voice dropped an octave, seeing that the people around them had begun to listen in on their conversation. " In fact, she should have been weeping in joy, not yelling at you." Cho shook her head. " You did nothing wrong. In fact, what you did was right. If she runs from you when you try and be serious with her, that just shows the way she is. Polite and book-smart, but past that whole façade, maybe she's horribly childish and not ready for a relationship. You deserve better than that."

Harry's spirits weren't uplifted. Instead, he felt even worse. Hermione's not like that! She does care, I know it, and she is ready for dating. She was so serious about Viktor Krum last year, after all! Maybe she's just not serious about… me.

Cho took his hand, squeezing it warmly. Then, she let it drop down again, her eyes darting towards Hermione with anger bursting out from deep inside. Hermione looked up, saw Cho glaring at her, and simply looked back down again – but this time, a flush crossed her cheeks.

*

Hermione brushed a loose strand of hair from her face and then stood up. I will not make a scene. I will not cry as I walk by Harry's table. No matter how many awful things he told Cho about me, I will not try and make myself look better in her eye. Who cares about what Cho Chang thinks of me? Stupid Harry! Her eyes closed, her mind battling her body, but finally, the hunger in her stomach forced her to stand up and head for the thinned-out line at the counter. She had left behind a little reserved card on the table she sat at, so that nobody would take her seat.

Passing Harry and Cho's table, she almost begged Harry to say something to her. Harry turned his head, looking out the window, as if he didn't want to recognize her. Cho, meanwhile, spoke up: " Hello."

Hermione stopped, grinned back coldly, and replied: " Hi." Then, she continued going. I don't have time for all this. Why did I bother getting so involved in the Yuletide Friends Club? I shouldn't even care! I predicted my own indifference to it! Why can't I be as nonchalant as I want to be?

At the counter, she ordered a glass of ice water and a small ice cream sundae. Hermione didn't want butter beer any longer, seeing that this was the treat Harry took Cho out for. Returning to her seat, she took another path so that she didn't walk by Harry's seat again.

Oh, Harry, I wish I could blame you for all this, but it's my fault. I'm so stupid, and now I lost you to Cho for sure.

*

Hermione returned to Hogwarts with empty hands, but worse, with an empty heart. At least not an empty head, she thought bemusedly. At least, I hope not. I better get started on my essay for Snape.

As she entered the Gryffindor common room, she saw that Ron was sitting on the couch already, a book spread in his lap, using his wand as an instrument to trace down the page, moving down a space each time he completed a line in the text. From time to time, he'd lift the wand to switch it to the top line of another page.

Hermione watched him read as she sat herself down on the other side. Ron looked up and grinned, his cheeks dimpling. " Hey. Did you talk to Harry yet?"

Hermione shook her head.

" You didn't see him?"

" I saw him… with Cho." Hermione said.

" Aw, Hermione, you don't really think Harry just forgot about you! When you care for someone, it's not just going to go away as quickly as peeling off gloves or something. You have to just go up to him and talk to him." Ron spoke wisely, despite the fact that he was digging in his ear with his finger at the same time.

" Then what's he doing with Cho?"

" Ever heard of being nice?" Ron replied. " You know she's broken down because of Cedric. It's only nice for him to offer Cho a date."

Hermione's ears reddened. She suddenly wanted to cry her heart out. " I'm so stupid." She said, finally. " I bet Harry has Cho thinking the wrong idea about me too, now. Oh, Ron, I really do like him! I really, really do!" A tear slipped from her eye and she pressed her knuckles into her eyes, trying to force the tears back. " I just wish this wasn't all so confusing and complicated! What sort of evil force is driving me against him like this?"

Ron looked unsure of what to do. Finally, he hugged her lightly, and she pressed her head down onto his shoulder, hot tears plastering his collar to his neck. Hermione wept for a few minutes then pulled away. " Thanks, Ron, I really owe it to you. You're the only support I have right now."

He shrugged and grinned. " It's all I can do for you, Hermione."

She hugged him again, and while his head was beside hers, and his face looking out into the darkening corners of the room, he could only hope that Hermione would be happy again. This is all I can do for you. I want you to be happy, and I know that you're happy when you're with Harry. I just can't take that away.

Hermione stood and then flattened down a cowlick on his head. " Well, I'll go to sleep. Tomorrow, even if Cho is with him, I'm just barging right up to Harry and clearing this all up."

" That's the spirit." Ron said. He gave her a thumb's up sign as she walked off.


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