This story was written for chromeknickers in The DG Forum's Fic Exchange – Winter 2015. It won Most Humorous. I guess you will decide whether it deserved that award, lol.
Someone was knocking at the front door. Ginny groaned and rolled over, grabbing both ends of the pillow and pulling it down over her head so it looked like she was wearing a flower-patterned bonnet. Maybe if she stayed silent the horrible knocking would go away.
"I know you're in there, Ginny!"
The redhead winced. Gods, it was Hermione. She knew her 'I'm Not At Home' pretence wasn't going to work in this situation (Hermione had an annoying habit of knowing when someone was trying to avoid her—not to mention was far too persistent for her own good), but Ginny's care factor was an eternal zero. Put simply, the thought of getting out of bed and opening the door for her sister-in-law seemed like a feat fit for Hercules. Much better to stay in her pit of cosy blankets and sleep.
Knock, knock, knock!
Ginny flinched, jolted out of her doze. She raised her head from under the pillow and scowled at the direction of the front door through half-sealed eyes. A few seconds later Hermione barged inside the bedroom, sweeping her wand in the air with a well-practised spell that opened all of the curtains and let light stream in through the windows in golden waves. Huh, that was a new record. Normally, it took Hermione at least five minutes of knocking and demanding entrance before she forced her way inside.
"Really, Ginny," Hermione scolded, putting her wand away and stepping further into the room, "would it kill you to just answer the door for once?"
"I'm allergic to effort," Ginny said, then yawned and burrowed her face back under the pillow. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to—"
"Oh, no you don't!" Hermione interjected, wrenching the covers off Ginny's body. "You've slept long enough, Miss!"
"Hey!" the redhead cried, making pathetic grabs at the blanket. "I was still using that."
Hermione let out a snort. "I can see that. You practically live in that thing. I swear it's become a second skin." She scrunched her nose. "Speaking of which, when did you last shower?"
Ginny sat up and smothered a yawn. "What kind of stupid question is that? Of course I've been showering. In fact, the last one I had was just—" she paused, furrowing her brow. Wait a minute, when was the last time she had showered? Frowning, she raised her arm and sniffed her armpit. And recoiled in disgust.
"Real attractive," Hermione remarked dryly.
"So it's been a few days," Ginny said with a shrug. "Who cares? It's not like I've got anyone to impress."
"Right, because you're so determined to become a blanket monster who lives her life shut up in this house like some hermit who's got a few too many screws loose."
Ginny raised her eyebrow. "Are you calling me crazy?"
Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose with her forefinger and thumb. "I'm saying that you need to stop this moping around that you've been doing and do something productive with your life."
"I am doing something productive," Ginny retorted. "I'm working on a novel."
"Writing a novel doesn't mean you have to shut yourself away and act like no one else exists! You never call, you never visit. Gods, Ginny, you couldn't even make it to Hannah's baby shower!" Hermione shook her head. "I know the break-up was hard on you, but this is getting out of hand. You are getting out of hand."
Ginny folded her arms across her chest. "I don't know what you're talking about. Harry and I broke up months ago. I couldn't care less what he's doing."
"So you keep saying, but it's obvious you're still hung up about something or you wouldn't be acting this way. For Merlin's sake, you could at least clean yourself up a bit!" She gestured a hand towards the full-sized mirror standing in the corner. "Have you even looked at yourself lately?"
Ginny gave an involuntary glance at her reflection. A woman with a bird nest of red hair stared back. There was a smear of drool still stuck to her cheek, and her eyebrows were a beautician's nightmare: all sparse hairs that stood out in the light even from this distance. She wore a grubby camisole that had stretched so much one strap always dangled from her shoulder. Her pyjama pants were just as grubby, painting a whole collection of tales thanks to the food that stained both sides of the fabric.
"What's your point?" Ginny demanded, if a little mulishly.
Hermione just sighed and shook her head. "Sometimes I don't know why I even bother."
"Maybe it's because you love to poke your nose into everyone's business."
Hermione planted her hands on her hips. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, don't look so scandalised," Ginny retorted, yawning and stretching her arms. "You know damn well you're a bossy, nosy bint who likes to meddle in people's lives. Honestly, I don't know how Ron puts up with it." She eyed Hermione up and down. "I'm guessing you must be good in the sack."
Hermione went bright red and made a few spluttering sounds, like a fish gaping out of water. Finally, she found her voice. "You're impossible!"
Ginny shrugged. "You're the one who barged in uninvited. If you want me to be polite, stop invading my house as if you own it. You know, most people get the hint when no one answers the door."
The brunette's eyes flashed and she inhaled a deep breath, as if visibly trying to restrain herself from hexing the other woman. Ginny just watched and waited with one eyebrow raised, counting down the seconds for when Hermione would leave in a huff like she normally did. Instead, Hermione marched over to the dresser and began pulling out clothes. She threw them at Ginny and then planted her hands on her hips, waiting expectantly.
"Get dressed," Hermione ordered when Ginny didn't move.
Ginny picked up the rumpled blue top. "What for?"
"Because this nonsense has got to stop!" A militant sparkle gleamed in Hermione's eyes. "You say I'm a bossy, nosy bint who likes to meddle in people's affairs? Well, now I'm going to live up to that label. Consider this an intervention."
Ginny scrunched her nose. "I think I liked you better when you weren't married to my brother. Remind me to increase the wards on my house."
Hermione's only response was to throw a bra at Ginny's head. "Up! I want you showered and dressed in ten minutes. I'll be preparing breakfast in the kitchen."
The brunette swept out of the room, slamming the door shut behind her. Ginny could hear cupboards being opened and the clatter of pots coming from the kitchen, rattling about with more force than necessary. She had a childish urge to poke her tongue out at the closed door, but instead she just sighed and dragged herself off the bed towards the bathroom down the hall.
"Definitely need to increase the wards," she muttered.
Or at least get Ron to rein in his bossy boots wife. Hermione was almost as bad as their mum—except there were less tears and tantrums.
"I can't hear the shower running!"
Ginny scowled in the direction of the kitchen. On second thought, Hermione was worse than her mum. Much, much worse.
"Don't you feel better now that you've been outside and in the fresh air?"
Ginny deigned that comment with a dramatic eye roll. Hermione had forced her to wander around the park with her to get some exercise (sadly, even magic couldn't make a person instantly thin), and now the two women were sitting in one of those artsy cafes with impressionist paintings hanging all over the walls. Some female singer was warbling in the background. Ginny was tempted to hex the wireless.
Hermione pursed her lips. "You could at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself."
"You're right, Hermione." Ginny clapped her hands together. "The sun is shining, I'm wearing clean clothes, I'm eating a bagel with cream cheese, and—" she plastered a smile to her lips "—I have you for company. Everything is wonderful!"
A frown. "I swear sarcasm is a disease with you."
Ginny just grinned and bit into her bagel. "Mm, thush re' goomph."
Hermione wrinkled her nose. "What?"
The redhead swallowed her food. "I said this is really good." She waved the bitten bagel for emphasis.
Hermione just sighed. "Sometimes, you're so much like your brother. Can you please not speak to me while you have food in your mouth? It's disgusting."
"Yeah, yeah," Ginny said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "Forgot you were Miss Manners."
"At least I have some."
"I'm an ex-international Quidditch player, a war hero, and soon to be famous novelist." Ginny swept her hair back with a careless flick. "I don't need manners."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I see you're humble, too."
Ginny grinned and took another large bite into her bagel. "Thu'rsh 'ite."
Hermione just shook her head. "Honestly."
She probably would have said more on the matter of public eating etiquette, but just then she was distracted by a square piece of paper that materialised in front of her with a pop. Her eyes widened and she grabbed the memo and scanned the words scribbled on the front.
"I have to go," Hermione said, glancing up from the paper. "I'm sorry, Ginny. There's something major happening at the office."
Ginny waved her bagel. "Hey, no worries. At least I got a bagel."
Hermione frowned as she slung her bag over her shoulder. "Listen, Ginny, I know you like to brush everything off as nothing, but everyone is worried about you. Please take care of yourself, and you know you can contact me and Ron any time if you need help."
Some of the amusement died in Ginny's eyes. "Yeah, I know. And, Hermione—"
The brunette paused. "Mm?"
"Thanks." Ginny gave a much more natural smile. "I mean it. I am glad we got to catch up today."
Hermione's eyes softened into an answering grin. "Any time."
The two hugged and then Hermione dashed out of the café and vanished with a pop. Ginny shook her head, still wearing the faint traces of a smile, and gathered up her coffee and remnants of bagel. She'd eat the rest while walking. Much as the café was nice, she wasn't in the mood to sit by herself and be gawked at by the pimply teenager behind the counter. Judging by the fish-like movements of his lips, he was bound to come up and demand an autograph sooner or later. No doubt he'd seen that horrible charity calendar the Holy Head Harpies had done before she had resigned from the team. Quidditch Babes on Broomsticks. Gods, even the title made her cringe. It sounded like something from a cheap porn.
Ginny clenched her bagel between her teeth as she shifted her bag to her shoulder and reached to open the door—only to find it was already open and something solid was coming right for her. There was an awkward collision, strangled oaths, and then a hot splash of liquid spilled all over her front. Brilliant. There went her coffee.
"Sor—" a male voice began, then abruptly stopped.
Ginny raised her gaze and found herself staring at a handsome blond. A handsome blond whose jaw was hanging loose like a wooden puppet, even as his eyes widened in a flicker of all sorts of emotions that she knew she was probably mirroring. Surprise, confusion and then, finally, resignation. It was Draco Malfoy.
"Weasley," he said dryly.
Ginny removed the bagel from her mouth. "Really? We haven't seen each other in years and all you can say is 'Weasley' like we're still at Hogwarts? What about sorry?" She pointed at her coffee-stained shirt. "Look what you did!"
His eyebrow lifted a fraction. Calmly, he pulled out his wand from inside his robe pocket and waved it at her once. The coffee vanished without a trace.
"Better?" he asked, if a little sarcastically.
Ginny jutted her chin. She hadn't expected him to give in that easily (too bad, too, cause she would have enjoyed a good rant). As it was, she had to say thank you with what little grace she could muster.
Draco nodded in a dismissive sort of way and made to walk past her. Their reunion might have ended there had the man behind Draco not suddenly decided to make his presence known. She would have recognised those pretty features anywhere. Blaise Zabini might have got older, but he was still a full-lipped, dark Adonis with eyes the colour of amber. All the girls had swooned over the now professional model at Hogwarts. Ginny had always thought him a bit of an idiot herself, but apparently good looks went a long way when it came to disguising a narcissistic, ugly personality.
"Well, if it isn't the littlest Weasley," Blaise purred.
No, really. He purred. It was like his voice was dripping with an invitation for sex while at the same time wanted to make you feel like a small, rather vulnerable mouse that was probably going to be eaten. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. Looked like the catwalk slut hadn't changed.
"Blaise," she greeted coolly. "Love to chat, but I was just leaving."
His arm blocked the doorway. "Why not stay a bit?" he suggested. "We could, uh—" his mouth curved into a smile "get reacquainted."
She couldn't stop the snort of laughter from escaping her lips. "Wow. Does that actually work?"
Blaise blinked. "What?"
"You know, the whole 'I'm so sexy' act." Ginny looked him up and down. "I suppose you're good looking, but you try way too hard."
Again, Blaise could only blink. It was Draco who laughed and met Ginny's gaze with an appreciative smile. Such grey, grey eyes. She'd never seen the blond look so warm and approachable. Her heart gave a funny jolt in her chest and butterflies spread their wings in her stomach, giving a few flips and soars. It was all rather alarming, and she quickly cleared her throat.
"Whatever," she continued. "Just let me pass."
Blaise managed to find his voice. "Well, I see these past years of fame haven't done anything for your manners. It seems it's true that money can't buy class."
"Oooh, burn." She rolled her eyes. "Seriously, what are you twelve? I'm giving you five seconds to get out of my way before I toss you aside like a garden gnome."
Draco snickered. "I bet there are quite a few people who would pay to see that."
Blaise flushed and glared at his friend. "Whose side are you on?"
"The side that doesn't waste my time by talking to random females who clearly aren't interested," Draco drawled. "Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to order."
He strolled off to the counter without another word. Blaise shot an irritated look at Ginny and then followed his friend. Good riddance, too. She didn't mind reunions with old school mates (it had been more than a decade since they'd all attended Hogwarts), but she'd be damned if she'd put up with Blaise Zabini's idiocy simply because it was polite, adult protocol. She'd rather kiss a flobberworm.
Her gaze flickered to the blond. His back was facing her now, but she couldn't help but remember the little smile that had tugged at the corner of his mouth or the deep, deep grey of his irises. The years had definitely been kind to him. Who would have thought that little rat-faced cretin would turn into such a hottie?
Uh, wait a minute. Had she really just thought that?
Ginny gave her head a slight shake, as if to knock all thoughts of Draco aside. That was weird. Readjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulder, she exited the café and began making her way down the cobbled street. The sun was still a vibrant splash of yellow set against a backdrop of fluffy marshmallow—a rare thing for this part of the country. She inhaled a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of vitamins sinking into her skin and the fresh air. Perhaps Hermione had been right to insist on Ginny leaving the house. Writing a novel was great, but the outside had its merits.
She blinked as an elderly man suddenly appeared in front of her.
"You're that Quidditch player!" he exclaimed, pointing at her with a toothy grin, while at the same time trying to flatten down his crazy, I-Look-Like-I've-Been-Electrocuted hair. Poor thing. That was a losing battle if she ever saw one.
"Uh-huh," Ginny said, trying not to show her irritation at being interrupted. Now she remembered why she didn't like to go outside. The outside was filled with people. What was it her manager used to say?
Be nice to the fans, Ginny. They're the ones who make it possible for that scrawny little butt of yours to even sit on a broom, so whatever you do, don't be yourself.
Hmph. As if she wasn't nice. Honestly, she didn't know why Cyril had fretted so much. It was only the one time that she'd hexed a fan, and that was with just a harmless Jelly Legs.
Speaking of fans, the old man was grinning creepily at her now that she had confirmed his suspicions. Ginny repressed a shudder. So much gum. He leaned in conspiratorially, as if he were about to share a great secret, and she got a whiff of cigarette and musty fabric. Mm, lovely. A personal bubble invasion.
"You know, I still have a copy of that calendar all you lasses posed for," the old man told her in a hush, hush voice. "Your month was my favourite." He winked. "Always had a thing for redheads."
Ginny gave him a glassy-eyed stare. It was all she could do not to grab his walking stick from him and hit him over the head with it. Instead, she forced a smile. Maybe the expression did come across more as Closet Psychopath with all the eye twitching going on, but at least her hands weren't actually latching round his throat.
"I'm flattered," she said with only a hint of sarcasm (gold star to Ginny!). "Anyway, I really must be leaving. Lovely to meet you … er, whatever your name is."
She Disapparated with a pop, just catching a glimpse of the old man's disappointed expression before the world compressed and vanished in a blur of colour. A second later she was standing outside the wooden gate that led to her house. Well, cottage was probably a better word. It was a small, two-storeyed building made of brick with a sloping roof and a garden overflowing with wild flowers. Ginny had bought it not long after she had broken up with Harry. It had seemed the perfect countryside retreat to write her novel—not to mention society's scrutiny.
"Home, sweet home," she muttered, pushing open the gate and entering the house.
She tossed her bag on the sofa and then collapsed on her favourite armchair with a sigh. The house was silent. No pets, no partner. It was the perfect hermit hide-away, free from any distraction. Ginny had been so caught up in her writing for the past five months that she hadn't really thought about the fact that she spent most of her time alone. If she were to be honest, she had never thought that at age thirty-one she'd be living in a cottage with no real job, no spouse, and no children. It was a very different life to the one she had imagined for herself as a bright-eyed eleven year old (that one had been simple: international Quidditch player, married to Harry Potter, and mother to a gazillion kids).
A wry smile curved her lips. Well, life was full of twists and turns. She didn't mourn the future she could have had, no matter what people thought. Her choices had all been her own and, if given the chance to do it all again, she wouldn't change a thing. She and Harry … they just hadn't worked. Quidditch had been great, but after so many injuries she had realised it had been time to give it up and try her hand at her unspoken dream: to write and publish a bestselling novel.
Ginny relaxed against the armchair, closing her eyes as she envisioned how it would be to see her books in stores all around the world with the name G. Weasley written in gold print on the spine. A triumph all of her own. Her characters would be as real to others as they were to her, speaking and inspiring emotions from words that she had crafted with her own hands and imagination.
She opened her eyes and snorted in amusement. "Hung up over Harry? As if."
Maybe to Hermione it seemed strange that Ginny could actually enjoy being a sloth-like hermit, but she didn't understand that Ginny didn't really exist in this cottage. She lived in her fantasy worlds with Tati, Blake, and all her other characters. Reality was a far off place that only mattered when Ginny's body told her it was time to eat or use the bathroom.
"But maybe that isn't the healthiest way to live," Ginny admitted, propping her chin on her hand.
She supposed she could try to get out a bit more and associate with real people. The last thing she needed was another intervention from Hermione. Getting a proper job might not be so bad either. Her stash of savings was beginning to get alarmingly small.
Ginny groaned and threw an arm over her eyes. Gods, actually living in the real world again was going to be a nightmare.
Lia's Prompt #3
Basic Premise: "If I had a Gold Galleon for every time I felt more emotion for a fictional character than people in real life, I could pay for the psychiatric help that I obviously need."
Must Haves: How you want to play the above quote (preferably by Ginny) is up to you, but there must be humour. Must have a somewhat emotionally unbalanced Ginny and a snarky Draco.
No-No's: No angst and no previous romantic relationship between Draco and Ginny, including friendship.
Rating Range: K-T.
Bonus Points: Draco has an embarrassing secret that he reveals in an embarrassing way.