Disclaimer: I do NOT own Harry Potter.
Hermione sighed as she drew closer to the Weasleys' broom shed. Molly had asked her to go find Ginny, who had yet to return to the Burrow following Fred's memorial service. Hermione felt certain she knew where the red haired girl could be found. Frowning, the brunette opened the door of the shed. Noticing Ginny's Nimbus gone, she sighed again and pulled out one of the old Clean Sweeps before closing the door and trudging off toward the makeshift Quidditch pitch. No way was she going to fly any further than was absolutely necessary.
On the far side of the Weasley family's small orchard sat a clearing with hoops set up at either end. The Weasleys (and, more recently, Harry) had used it for Quidditch practice since Bill, Charlie and Arthur built it years earlier. On the south side of the pitch at the midway point stood a rickety sort of tower that served as a rest spot and viewing area for the participants. It was only accessible by broom. Only by broom, Hermione huffed to herself as she approached, staring up at the bottom of the tower. She peered cautiously up to see if she could see any sign of Ginny - no reason flying up to check on her if she were not up there.
Of course she was up there. Hermione could see long red hair fluttering in the breeze at the tower railing. Damn. The brunette grumbled for a moment before muttering a few words of encouragement to herself, mounting the Clean Sweep uncertainly. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath, then kicked off the ground and leaned forward as the broom rose toward her goal.
She touched down silently on the plank floor of the observation tower, broom in hand, but somehow, the youngest Weasley still heard her, "I figured mum would send you eventually."
Hermione released the breath she had been holding during the flight and set her broom aside, "Hi, Ginny. A-are you ok?" she asked, approaching the redhead slowly. Ginny's temper had been short and severe since the war.
"I'm not going to hex you, 'Mione," she responded tiredly, without turning, "I've just been thinking."
Hermione walked forward, stopping to lean against the railing which felt like the most stable part of the contraption on which they stood, "It's been hours, Gin. Everyone was really beginning to worry," she commented, gazing out at the horizon.
"Were you worried, 'Mione?" the redhead asked, still staring at a spot in the meadow beyond the pitch.
Hermione bit her lip and trained her gaze to the spot she knew Ginny was staring at, Fred's headstone, "No," she replied simply, "Not really. I know you need your space, Gin. And I felt pretty sure I could find you if necessary."
The older girl immediately noticed a figure curled in on itself at Fred's gravesite, she gasped, "Is that..."
The redhead nodded, still staring, "Katie Bell. She was mad for Fred," Ginny spoke quietly, a sad, far away look in her eyes, "She's been there all day."
Hermione watched the tiny figure shudder, obviously sobbing, "She never told him, then?" she wondered out loud.
"No. She never did," Ginny responded, sounding oddly detached. A moment later she sighed, "Fred was in love with her too, you know."
Again, Hermione couldn't help but gasp; tears beginning to sting at the corners of her eyes as she watched the heart wrenching scene play out below.
Ginny still had not looked at the brunette, "He wanted to wait until the war was over. Until it was safe. Until it was perfect. He had this really elaborate plan for what he was going to do...after the war...when the time was right," she said, before adding bitterly, "but it never was, was it?"
Hermione could do nothing but stare at Katie, her chest constricting painfully. Her heart was broken for the poor girl.
"The time will never be perfect," Ginny announced abruptly, "and I don't want to look back at my life and think about what might have been...if only the timing had been right." The redhead gripped the railing tightly, knuckles white, steadying herself as she fought back tears, "Fred and Katie would have been brilliant together."
The older girl's eyes broke away from Fred's grave and the grief-stricken girl curled into it to look at the hand clenching the rail in front of them. She moved slowly, placing her hand over that of the redhead beside her, "Yes, they would have."
Ginny looked down briefly and smiled a short-lived smile before returning her gaze to the horizon. Her normally bright eyes were puffy and tired but looked like a storm was brewing.
The redhead spoke again, "I've made a decision. I will not wait for the timing to be perfect. It never will be. I want to be happy," she stated, "and I will not wait. Not anymore."
Hermione's brow furrowed as she let the fiery girl talk. The younger girl had never spoken this way before, with such certainty, though her voice trembled with the words. She glanced up at the redhead but dared not say anything at first, instead giving the girl's hand a supportive and encouraging squeeze, before finally venturing a reply, "You deserve to be happy, Gin," the brunette replied, "We all do."
Suddenly emboldened, Ginny turned to face Hermione, seizing the older girl by both hands, "Hermione, do you love Ron?" she asked with surprising ferocity, a pleading look in her eyes.
The brunette just stood there and blinked in shock, her throat had gone quite dry, "Of course I do, Ginny," she replied confusedly. How could she not love him after everything?
Completely deflated, Ginny let her hands drop, "Oh," she trailed off, her eyes filling with tears, "You should tell him then," she finished, turning away, "I want you to be happy too. Both of you."
The brightest witch of her age could feel the her friend shutting down as the redhead stared off into the horizon again. Hermione stood for a moment, worrying her lower lip when she finally realized the real question Ginny asked.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, startling the redhead, "B-b-but I'm not in love with him, Gin. Nor is he with me," she smiled at her hands and waited for the younger girl to respond. A faint blush graced her cheeks.
Ginny perked up immediately, the familiar sparkle returning to her eyes, "Really?"
"Really," the brunette assured her, both again eyeing the horizon and the now setting sun, "And...are you in love with Harry?" she asked anxiously, holding her breath as she waited for an answer.
Ginny chuckled, shaking her head, "No," she stated very matter-of-factly, "I am not in love with Harry."
Hermione smirked slightly, "Really?"
"Really," Ginny said, casting another glance at Katie, now seated beside the headstone, speaking animatedly, she smiled sadly at the girl. She knew that in time Katie would recover. They all would.
"Good," Hermione stated bluntly, lacing her fingers with Ginny's, moving closer, "Because I'll have you know, I don't fly about for just anyone," she grinned, forcing a smile to tug at the corners of Ginny's mouth.
"I know," Ginny finally responded. "Hermione?" the redhead questioned, turning to face the brunette, meeting her eyes for the first time, "Would you maybe want to go on a date sometime?"
The older girl's eyes began to shine with unshed tears, "Yes, Gin. That would make me very happy."
I guess this one is probably just a one-shot. I am, of course, open to suggestions, questions, comments, rude remarks... ;)