Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
Hermione returned home that evening to a darkened flat, which wasn't usual but then it wasn't unheard of as well. She missed them all the same. Normally, one of them would be back by now, and she knew she could count on them to have dinner ready. No matter how annoying Harry and Ron could be at times, they were good about that. Though that wasn't really saying enough about them, for they were better than that. Before they had all moved in together, Hermione had been a little wary of the plan, having heard from her parents how friendships could be lost when friends became flatmates. But the transition was smooth, with all of them working together to make things easier on one another.
She tossed her cloak and bag on the couch, walking in to the kitchen to view the boys' schedules on the wall. Harry had a night game today, and Hermione would lay even odds on Ron being there as well to watch. She sighed to herself. As she grew older, it seemed that she was missing more and more of Harry and Ron's games—and she hated that. They had both told her that they understood that her work didn't allow her to keep normal hours, but Hermione knew they both looked forward to seeing her at their games. Hermione checked the basket on the kitchen counter, to see if there was a ticket there so she could rush over to the stadium to attend. It would be an hour into the match—assuming that Harry hadn't already caught the snitch—but it was better than not going at all. However, all she found was a note from Harry.
Don't bother coming to the game. I know you must be exhausted, so relax instead. Though Ron's right. If I tell you that, you'll just be stubborn and come anyway. So I'll play it safe and take the ticket with me so you can't come.
And if you get hacked off at that, just remember it was Ron's idea, not mine. So you know who to get mad at. Mind you, it's not that I'm scared of you or any rot like that, but I wouldn't want Ron to be upset at my taking credit for his brilliant idea. That's all.
Hermione shook her head at the note. It was sweet of the two of them to think of her like that, but she wished they hadn't done that. She was a big girl, who could take care of herself. Goodness knew she certainly did that day in and day out at her job. Yeah, Draco was there to back her up, but when spells started flying, ultimately, you could only rely upon yourself to save your own skin.
Still, it made her feel happy inside to know that they cared for her like that. And she never got that long soak she so desperately needed yesterday – not between spending too much time at Luna's and that meeting the first thing this morning. Hermione decided to not get upset about it and make it up to Harry later, as best she could.
Humming under her breath, Hermione made her way to her room, slipping out of her bra along the way. The biggest downside to living with her best friends were all the embarrassing glimpses they had managed to catch of each other over the years. While other witches might have wondered about it incessantly, Hermione honestly didn't give a damn whether Harry wore boxers or briefs – she just wanted him to wear something so she didn't have to get an eyeful of his family jewels. Though she missed them, it was nice to have the flat to herself, so she didn't have to worry about covering up all the time. It was much more relaxing to go straight to the bath wearing only a robe, rather than having to strip in the bathroom. Hermione knew there was no chance that Harry and Ron would return any time soon – even if Harry had ended the game already, that would signal either a night of celebrating or a night of commiserating between the two of them. She snorted to herself. She supposed she should just be thankful for her privacy and for the fact that the two of them would regret it tomorrow.
Having thrown her clothes into a messy heap on her bedroom floor while shrugging on a robe, Hermione returned to the bath. She turned the water as hot as it would go and placed a charm on it so it would stay that way. There was little use in being a witch if you couldn't make sure that you never ran out of hot water. She laced the water with her favorite scents and bath salts as the water tumbled in. Once the tub was filled, she slowly stepped in, the water sloshing a little over the sides of the tub and on to the floor, where she had forgotten to put a towel. A little annoyed with herself, Hermione summoned a towel to the spot before settling into her bath. She tilted her head back, leaning it against the tub, and closed her eyes. She could feel the warmth of the water seeping into her and it felt like heaven. The scent of vanilla was soothing, and she felt like she could float away. How long she lounged there, she did not know, but she stayed there until her hands and feet were wrinkled from length of her bath.
Sighing slightly to herself, Hermione rose from her bath, taking care not to drip on the floor, though she wasn't entirely successful in that. She returned to her bedroom, after slipping her robe back on, to pull on a jumper and a pair of old jeans. That done, she took her wand and levitated her clothes off of the floor and into her laundry basket. It was beginning to look a bit full, and Hermione made a mental note to get off her arse and finally wash her clothes this weekend. Though how she would manage that with everything else that would be going on, she did not know.
But that wasn't of the utmost importance at the moment. What was, was finding a spot of dinner. Hermione trailed her way into the kitchen, gaining a following of Crookshanks and a couple of his kittens as she walked through the flat. She blatantly ignored them, knowing that her flatmates wouldn't have left without feeding the cats. They were just being greedy and looking for another meal, while she had yet to have one. Opening the fridge, she broke out into a grin as she spotted a pizza box. Success! she thought. And here I was, expecting that it'd take me longer to find something.
But upon opening the box, Hermione gagged. Clearly this pizza had been sitting in the fridge for a very long time. It was surprising that it hadn't grown legs and begun to move around, terrifying the cats. Hermione smiled to herself as she imagined the Evil Pizza Monster chasing Crookshanks and the kittens around. Though that was more like something that would come out of the Quibbler, with the now obligatory reference to how the author believed that aliens had set the Evil Pizza Monster among us.
She chucked the box away, shaking her head and swearing under her breath. She would have to have another little chat with the boys for not cleaning out the fridge. Hermione would do it now herself, but now was her time to relax. She knew that she was hardly likely to get more time like this over the weekend, and so she was making good on it. Deciding the fridge was a lost cause, she shut it and turned to the cabinets, where she spotted a tin of tuna. Hermione checked to see if there was any decent bread—which there was—and went back to the fridge to take a couple things out so she could start on making tuna sandwiches.
The sound of the tins being opened attracted an audience to her. Hermione rolled her eyes and waved the bread knife she was using threateningly at Crookshanks, but it didn't seem to have an effect. It didn't matter though. This was her dinner and the cats were not getting any of it. She plated her food, put everything else back where it belonged, and then took her plate out of the kitchen and into the living room. Hermione settled on to the couch, turning on the tellie so she could watch it as she ate. She had just taken a bit from her second sandwich when the doorbell rang.
"Damn," Hermione muttered under her breath. She glared at the cats, who were watching her hopefully. "And seeing that you all are here, I'd better take my food with me." She rose from her seat, wondering who it could be at this hour. She opened the door to see Ginny Weasley standing on the other side.
"Hello," said Ginny. She looked at the plate in Hermione's hand. "Oh my. That looks like a lovely dinner." Ginny peered around Hermione nervously. "Is anyone else there?" she asked.
"Like Harry?" Hermione asked. Ginny immediately leapt back, as though stung. Yet again, Hermione wondered why Harry hated her so much. Yeah, Ginny had become a bit of a slut over the years. She hardly kept any boyfriend for longer than a couple of months, and she slept with them all. Ginny also had a remarkable lack of style. There wasn't much Hermione could say to a girl who was wearing a blaringly-bright purple dress even though she had red hair. Not to mention the fact that the dress was very low cut, doing more than just exposing the curve of Ginny's breasts. That shouldn't matter to Harry, as he had never been interested in Ginny. He tended to go more for brunettes, as his flings with Cho Chang and Padma Patil proved. And come to think of it, he had gone to the Yule Ball with Parvati, Padma's sister, though that hadn't gone so well. So it was a great mystery why Harry hated Ron's little sister so, and Hermione desperately wished she could get someone to tell her why.
Maybe she could pry it out of Ginny tonight. Knowing that she had to speak before Ginny fled from fear, Hermione said, "He's not here and neither is Ron. You could just ask directly next time, you know."
"Oh." Ginny looked down at her feet. "Can I come in? And when do you expect them in?"
"Of course, you can." Hermione stood aside, letting Ginny in. "And I'm afraid I don't know when they'll be back. Harry has a night game"—again there was a flinch on Ginny's part—"and Ron's there to cheer him on."
"I'm surprised that you're not there," Ginny remarked as she followed Hermione into the living room.
"I had to work late," was Hermione's response.
"So did I!" Ginny burst into a flurry of giggles, laughing at some joke that only she knew. "I always work late," she repeated. "It's great fun."
Ignoring that, Hermione waved a hand at the couch and said, "Have a seat." She didn't wait for Ginny to do so before taking a seat herself and returning to her dinner. It wasn't as though Ginny was a proper guest anyway, and Ginny always refused food when you offered it to her. It was though she didn't trust anything in their flat to eat. "So what brings you here?" Hermione asked, in between taking bites of her sandwich.
"I wanted to see Ron." Ginny clasped her hands together. "It's been such a long time since I've last seen him. I bet he still looks good." She tittered. "Good enough to eat, right Hermione?"
"Not interested," said Hermione. "He's too much like my brother for me to imagine something like that. It's the same for you, I'd imagine."
"Oh, I love my brothers. All of them. But I suppose we Weasleys are not your type." Ginny looked down at her hands. "Which is really too bad. As we're all great in bed. I can attest to that. But I suppose Harry's more your type or Malfoy." Ginny frowned. "Though Malfoy was an awful boyfriend. He hardly ever wanted to shag! What sort of man could resist me?" She pouted, making Hermione wince. It only made Ginny look more like a child. And now that Hermione thought about it, the purple dress against the Ginny's delicate skin kind of resembled a giant bruise. And the thought of just how Ginny could attest to her brothers' prowess in bed was quickly pushed to the side as something that Hermione didn't really want to think about.
"I am sure Ron will be sorry that he missed you," Hermione said finally, not wanting to comment on anything else that Ginny had said.
"Of course! Because I'm the best little sister ever!" agreed Ginny enthusiastically.
"Yes, of course," said Hermione.
"Though Ron would never admit that. Sometimes it's enough to make me think that he doesn't trust me."
"I am sure that's not the case."
"Yeah. Harry hasn't managed to turn Ron against me yet," Ginny muttered darkly. She raised her eyes to meet Hermione's, and there was a hint of madness lurking behind them. "He tried, you know. He tried to turn them all against me. But they're my family and blood runs thicker than water . . . ." She licked her lips. "Poor little Potter didn't know that though."
Hermione was taken aback. She didn't know what to say to that. It was clear that whatever had happened between Harry and Ginny, it was part and parcel of her becoming so unhinged. She found herself not wanting to continue this line of conversation, so she changed the subject. "So is there any sort of message that you want to leave for Ron?" she asked.
"Message?" Ginny blinked, looking confused.
"Yes. You did say that you came here to see your brother," Hermione reminded her.
"Oh! I did, didn't I?" Ginny giggled again. It was beginning to get on Hermione's nerves. "I was going to ask if he wanted to eat dinner with me, but he's not here so I can't."
"I see. And you didn't want anything from him?" Hermione couldn't quite keep the disbelief out of her voice. She knew that Ginny only risked visiting their flat to see Ron when there was something she wanted from her brother. Otherwise the ginger witch tended to avoid their place like the plague—or rather, she tended to not to visit because she avoided Harry like he had the plague.
A shifty-eyed look appeared on Ginny's face. "No, there's no particular reason. Can't a loving younger sister visit her big brother?" she asked innocently. "And as you know, I do love my big brother."
Again Hermione didn't like where the conversation was heading. She regretted ever answering the door. "Ron loves you too," she said in a placating tone of voice, "and he would do just about anything to help you."
"Oh! I know! That's why I'm here, you know. I'm getting tired of my latest wizard, and I was hoping Ron would be a dear and chase him off."
Now Hermione's head was beginning to ache with the way Ginny kept changing her story. "I thought there wasn't any reason you wanted to see Ron."
"There isn't. But so long as I'm seeing him, I might as well have him take care of that little problem for me." She leaned closer to Hermione. "Richard was lovely at first, but I'm afraid he's become a bit too clingy. I don't like that in men. Makes me all nauseous and the like. And really his stamina leaves much to be desired." She sighed dreamily. "And I really think Neville would make an ideal boyfriend, don't you think?"
Hermione regarded the other witch with a look of disgust. "I can't say that thought ever crossed my mind," she replied stiffly.
"No? Well you're like that, I guess. Not me. I'm always thinking of who might be good for me." Ginny pouted. "But there's something wrong with every wizard I date! I'm really getting tired of it."
"Maybe someone is trying to tell you something," Hermione suggested.
Ginny cocked her head to the side. "Like what?"
Hermione sighed and massaged her temples. Enough was enough. She didn't feel like dealing with Ginny any longer, and she knew the perfect way to get rid of the other witch. "Oh my! Look at the time! Harry and Ron should be back any minute now. I guess you'll be able to—" Before Hermione could complete her sentence, Ginny had leaped out of her seat.
"Sorry! Have to run! I forgot I had something else to do tonight." Ginny tittered nervously. "Or make that someone else. No need to get up. I know my way out."
After the other witch had left, Hermione got up to check that the door was locked. It was. She knew that it was self-locking, but then it was never a bad thing to make sure that nothing was out of place. She supposed Moody and his paranoia was starting to get to her.
She returned to the sofa. She sat down, tucking her feet underneath her, and finished her sandwich. She hadn't learned anything at all from Ginny's visit—only that the other witch was batshit crazy. She resigned herself to never learning the reason why Harry detested the Weasley witch so. Harry wasn't speaking and neither was Ron. And from what Hermione had gathered tonight, Ginny wasn't to be relied on for any sort of information. That was something she would remember in the future.
Author's note: Long time, no update, right? But I have an idea of how I want this fic to end now, so I think I can finish it. Hopefully before I lose track of that idea. Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Here's hoping for another chapter before the new year.