"Ginny, there's just one key to the relationship between Harry and Hermione. And, not surprisingly, you've missed it again."
The Three Broomsticks was filled to the brim with witches and wizards, all of whom were looking to numb away any problems that might have arisen that week. Music made their eardrums pound slightly while butterbeer or firewhiskey erased any trace of whatever complication was at hand. However, in the midst of this, there was a more interesting dynamic occurring. Between a group of six people, some of whom more famous than others, a clash of opinions was brewing with more intensity than anyone expected.
"What are you on about, Ron?" Ginny asked, attempting to hide the curiosity in her voice. Ron sighed.
"Okay, look," he replied, "I'm not saying that you're daft, but…perhaps you haven't been looking properly?"
A vacant stare told Ron that he had better be more specific. He suppressed a laugh; Ron wasn't usually the one who did the explaining. For anything.
"My point here, Ginny, is that you've been so blinded by the image of `Harry Potter' that you haven't noticed where his loyalties lie," he said. Ginny still seemed to be in the dark, much to Ron's disappointment. He opened his mouth to explain even further, but Luna beat him to it.
"It's Hermione, Ginny. The answer is Hermione," she said with a small smile. Ginny reeled back, obviously not expecting Luna's words.
"Hermione? You mean….WELL THAT'S RIDICULOUS!" Ginny screeched. The noise was so sudden that is caused Neville to spill half of his butterbeer onto the table. He quickly muttered a cleansing spell. None of this deterred Ginny, however.
"I can't believe that you three would suggest something so improbable!" Ginny said while lowering her voice. She gaped at Ron, Neville, and Luna, grateful that Harry and Hermione were up at the bar for the time being. Surely they would be mortified if they heard this conversation.
"Improbable?" Neville asked. Ginny nodded her head vigorously.
"Well, yes! Don't get me wrong, I love them both to death, but they just wouldn't work," she replied. This seemed to catch Neville and Luna off guard, but Ron was ready.
"Alright, Ginny. Let's do a little experiment. You see them over there? Just watch," he said. There was a prolonged silence as everyone at the table turned to look at Harry and Hermione at the bar. They were sitting on tall stools, facing each other. Hermione was sipping some sort of brightly colored drink and laughing lightly. Harry seemed to be in the middle of a joke, as he kept leaning in to whisper in Hermione's ear. After a few more moments, they both broke out into laughing fits. To the others, all was clear. Ginny, however, was stubborn.
"So, what's your point? They enjoy each other's company. They're friends - they can tell jokes," she snapped slightly. Ron pointed towards the bar once more, issuing a silent "keep watching". Ginny turned her attention back to Harry and Hermione just in time to see Harry place his hand on Hermione's thigh. Ginny felt her eyes go wide. Then she felt her teeth clench as Harry pushed a strand of curly hair behind Hermione's ear. Finally, Ginny was sure she drew blood as she scrunched her nails into her palm when she saw Harry pull Hermione into a strong kiss. Ginny turned to Ron, Luna, and Neville, demanding an explanation without speaking. Neville took his turn to speak.
"We all found out on our own, too. We asked them when they were planning on telling everyone, and Hermione was thinking about later this week. However, Ron, Luna, and I thought that you should see it before they told you. You know, just to make sure that you understood," he said. Ginny sat very still. So they had all known, and this is how they wanted her to find out.
"But…Harry doesn't love her," she muttered. Ron sighed, stood, and went to the bar to sit with Harry and Hermione, ending his part of the conversation.
"Well he doesn't!" Ginny shouted, thought the loud music prevented her words from being heard. Luna and Neville scooted closer to Ginny, hoping to calm her down.
"Luna, Nev, I swear, he loves me. That's why he's protected me all these years!" she said. Luna smiled warmly.
"Ginny, that was in school. We were all young and in the middle of a war. Harry and Hermione have always been especially close, you know that. They've just…become closer. And, Ginny, that's okay. They deserve happiness, just like we do. And they'll be happy with each other, so let them," Luna said.
"But then what do I do," Ginny whispered, "Where do I go from here, if I can never been with Harry?"
"You go forward, Gin," Neville said quickly. He caught Ginny's eye, and smiled as broadly as he could. Anything to help her. Ginny nodded her head, slowly at first, but then in a more determined fashion. Suddenly, a shadow appeared across the table. Ginny looked up to see the couple in question, smiles and all.
"We're headed back to the flat for tonight. See you all tomorrow, yeah?" Harry said cheerfully, his hand around Hermione's waist. Neville and Luna smiled and nodded. Hermione turned to Ginny.
"Ron asked me to tell you to meet him at the bar," she said in a sweet tone. Ginny forced a smile and nodded. "Thanks" was all she could muster up. Harry and Hermione waved once again to their friends, and then left The Three Broomsticks. Ginny immediately got up and walked over to the bar. She sat down next to her brother. For a moment, neither spoke. But then Ron took a chance.
"You'll be okay, Gin," he said, "I thought that I'd never get over Hermione, and I'd probably still be pining after someone that I didn't belong with had Luna not come to my rescue. She's my hero, you know."
Ginny only nodded. Ron continued.
"My point here is that what you might think is the perfect path for you may turn out to be the one you are glad you didn't take. Get my meaning? Besides, we both know that there is someone else that loves you. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if you looked into that heart of yours and found that you love him, too," Ron said, his voicing lightening up some. Ginny turned and looked at Neville. He was chatting with Luna across the room. He caught Ginny's eye for a moment, and flashed a smile. She couldn't help but smile back.
"Thanks, Ron," Ginny said. He simply smiled before ordering another round for the table. Ginny turned to head back, but before she did, there was something that she had to know.
"Ron?" she asked. He turned to face her.
"What did you mean earlier? About the one key to Harry and Hermione's relationship?" Ginny whispered. Ron smiled.
"Ah," he replied, "You mean the key to their love. I was right, you know. There is only one key to their love for each other."
"Yes?" Ginny pushed. Ron smiled at her once more before turning back to the bar.
"Never underestimate it."