I know it isn't exactly summer now, but hopefully this story will warm up your January. There will be five parts in all, the first one being the shortest. Expect R/H and H/G, particularly in later sections, and the twins will definitely make an appearance or two (seriously, keep reading – they're coming). And I'll love you forever if you review.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling. Although if the twins ever become too much for her to handle, I'd be happy to take one off her hands.
It was the most boring summer of Ginny's entire life. Never mind that she was at 12 Grimmauld Place, the Orders' secret headquarters. No one trusted her with anything important – or anything at all, really. And she never thought she'd say it, but life was dull now that the twins weren't around. Ron was perpetually grouchy and Hermione seemed preoccupied, so Ginny spent most of her time out back flying, reliving what all had happened to her over the last few months.
Fourth year had been different from all the others, and Ginny could hardly wrap her mind around it. Some of it had been horrible, but Ginny preferred to think of the good things – the DA meetings, playing Quidditch for Gryffindor! She had even had a boyfriend, and she reckoned she could have another if she wanted. Dean Thomas had been writing sweet letters to her all summer with drawings, and he really was a fantastic artist.
Truthfully, she wasn't sure she fancied Dean, not that she was above throwing his name around to torment Ron. But that wasn't the point, was it? The truly spectacular thing about it, about all of it, was that she was finally more than just Ron's or the twins' little sister. She was her own thing, and even Harry knew it.
She was in good touch with him this summer as well, and it secretly pleased her to know she heard from him more than Ron and Hermione did. She figured this was probably because, bored as she was, she was the most reliable about writing back.
It was a good couple of hours until dinner, but Ginny was hungry, so she wandered downstairs to fix herself a snack. Alone in the mansion's vast kitchen, she was bothered by the nagging sensation that something was a bit off, but she put it out of her mind. Instead, she nibbled on her toast and marmalade, and thought of how great it would be next year if she, Harry, and Ron were all on the house Quidditch team together. Maybe they could practice some when Harry came in a fortnight.
Two weeks. She swallowed the last of her toast and washed it down with pumpkin juice. It seemed like absolutely forever.
"I cannot believe we're back to this!" fumed Ron, emerging from under his bed with a scowl. "What do we have to do to prove ourselves to them?"
"Did you find them?" asked Hermione.
"No," Ron said furiously. "Heaven forbid Fred and George leave behind one, just one Extendable Ear, so we wouldn't go crazy locked up here again with no information!"
It's probably for the best, you know," said Hermione. "Surely your mum had a good reason-,"
"Not bloody likely!" Ron said with a snort. "She thinks we're babies! Even after what happened in the Department of Mysteries…" His nostrils flared as he searched for an expression strong enough to convey the magnitude of the injustice.
"Argh!" he roared, finally, giving up. He flopped backwards on his bed, next to Hermione.
She looked down at him. "You're right. It's horribly frustrating."
"More than frustrating," Ron sighed dramatically. "This must have been what it was like for Sirius. It's like – I know I could help. I mean, I know I could. But no one will let me."
"Just like Sirius," agreed Hermione, "Which is why we should probably listen to them."
She leaned back, lying beside Ron, who blushed. Their feet dangled off the edge of the bed, and their faces were turned towards each other. Ron opened his mouth as if to speak, but Hermione sat up suddenly, staring at the door without blinking.
Ron pulled himself into a sitting position next to her. "Hermione, you… uh…is everything okay?"
"Huh, what? Sorry, Ron, what were you saying?"
Ron raised his eyebrows. Hermione got weirder every day, it seemed. Maybe she had just finished a book – that seemed to get her depressed sometimes. Of course, you'd think that would motivate her to take her time reading (or not bother with books at all, which worked beautifully for Ron), but she tore through several books a week, particularly in the summer. It was completely nutters, thought Ron, but maybe a little endearing.
Hermione stretched and stood up. "I'm going to the toilet," she declared.
She left Ron's door open a crack, so he figured she was coming right back, but as it turned out, he didn't see her again until dinner.
Two owls showed up at breakfast the next morning, bearing three envelopes between them. Mrs. Weasley tipped them, and sent them on their way.
"Let's see," she murmured. "One for Ginny from that Dean Thomas – well, he certainly is devoted." Ron's nostrils flared briefly. "And one for each of you from Hogwarts. I wonder if that's not your –,"
"Our O.W.L. results!" squealed Hermione. "Oh, it's got to be!"
Ron rolled his eyes. "Goody."
Hermione, trembling with excitement, accepted her letter from Mrs. Weasley with a gushing thank you. She gazed at it reverently for a moment, before ripping it open with flourish. Ron, somewhat less enthusiastically, did the same.
"Well?" demanded Mrs. Weasley.
"Good, I think," said Hermione, beaming. Each O.W.L. a witch or wizard passed was presented on its own sheet of heavy parchment. Hermione's stack was a good two centimeters thick.
"Hey," said Ron, surprised. "I got an A in potions!"
"Wonderful, Ron! How about you, Hermione?"
Hermione flushed with pleasure. "All O's so far."
Suddenly, Ron and Hermione let out a simultaneous gasp. "I got an E!" they both exclaimed.
"Yes!" hooted Ron, punching his fist in the air. I dominated charms!"
"What went wrong!" moaned Hermione. "Ancient Runes! Oh, I knew I should have studied harder."
Mrs. Weasley bit back a smile. "E is wonderful, dear. You should be very proud."
"Yes," said Hermione, looking distressed, "But it isn't an-,"
"O," whispered Ron. "I got an O." He stared suspiciously at his first Outstanding as if he expected it to jump off the page.
Mrs. Weasley was all of a flutter. "Oh Ron! How fantastic. I'm so proud! What subject, dear? Oh, wait until we tell your father!"
Ron looked his mother squarely in the eye. "Defense Against the Dark Arts, Mum. I've gotten quite good at it – though, of course, I'm a bit out of practice now…"
"I know what you're implying, young man, and we'll have none of that. Your father and I discussed it, and you're simply too young – oh, Ron, let's not spoil the good mood!" Her tone softened. "I'm just so proud of you – you too, Hermione, of course."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley."
"You know something - I think a celebratory feast is in order," declared Mrs. Weasley. "Hermione, dear, do invite your parents, and I'll see if I can round up those brothers of yours, Ron." Murmuring happily to herself, she left Ron and Hermione alone with their O.W.L.s.
"Well," said Ron after a moment. "How many did you get?"
"Ten," said Hermione, "All O's, except Ancient Runes."
"Erm… not bad," said Ron.
"And yourself?" Hermione asked pleasantly.
Ron eyed his stack of parchment, which seemed feeble next to Hermione's colossal pile. "Let's see – I got A's in Potions, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and Astronomy; E's in Charms and Transfiguration, and…" His ears flushed a proud shade of pink. "An O in Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Oh, Ron, that's great!" He regarded her skeptically. "No, really, Ron. I mean it."
"Yeah, well," he said gruffly. "It's not like I got ten O's."
"Just nine," Hermione corrected, looking momentarily depressed.
"I wonder how Harry did," said Ron.
"Well, let's owl him and ask," replied Hermione, brightening at the prospect. "Oh, and I have to tell my parents!"
She skipped off to find some clean parchment. Ron flipped through his small but respectable stack of O.W.L.s once more for good measure. All in all, he thought, he'd done okay.
Hermione would probably find out eventually that he'd gotten a Poor in History of Magic. But he intended to make sure she'd never know about his Dreadful in Divination.
"Pig's back!" announced Ginny, later that evening. "And he's brought Hedwig with him."
Pigwidgeon made a spirited entrance, flying maniacally around the foyer before crashing into Ron's chest. Hedwig landed gracefully on Ginny's shoulder and dropped two letters neatly into her hand.
"Hedwig, you smart girl," murmured Ginny, handing one of the letters to Hermione and keeping the other for herself. Ron rolled his eyes and picked up his own letter from the floor.
"Harry's given me the full report," said Hermione. "Shall I read it out loud?"
She cleared her throat.
Thanks for your letter. O.W.L.s just arrived today, in fact. I got an O in D.A.D.A. (well deserved, if I may say so myself); E's in Charms, Magical Creatures, and Transfiguration; and A's in Herbology, Astronomy, and, amazingly, Potions. No comment on History of Magic and Divination.
Anyway, congratulations on your nine O's! I can't say I'm surprised.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Hermione smiled broadly. "See – look at that. We all did great. So, what does yours say, Ron?"
Ron quickly stuffed his letter into his pocket. "Er… pretty much the same thing." Hermione raised her eyebrows skeptically, but said nothing. Ginny looked up from her own letter briefly and smiled.
"Well, I guess I'm off to bed," declared Ron, faking a yawn. "Goodnight," he said, and left, Pig orbiting his head with wings a-flutter.
"What's with him?" Hermione asked, as she followed Ginny upstairs.
"Huh…dunno…" Ginny replied distractedly, still absorbed in her letter from Harry. "Ha! Hermione, you've got to read this part. It's hilarious."
"You fancy him," said Hermione, smiling.
Ginny blushed to her ears. "No! We're friends, is all. Remember, he doesn't see me that way."
"But if he did?" Hermione asked.
"Hermione!" Ginny hissed, turning a shade redder. Hermione followed her into their room, leaving the door open a crack as she always did, ever since that awful night at the Department of Mysteries.
Ginny sighed. "Maybe I do fancy him the tiniest bit. You happy? It'll never work out, but now you know."
"I think it would work out nicely, actually," said Hermione. "And he's the only guy Ron would actually approve of for you."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "And I care so much about Ron's opinion, seeing as he's such a relationship expert."
Hermione laughed sadly. "Good point," she said.
Fin- Part One
Author's note: Regarding the O.W.L.s – yes, I am aware that Snape won't be too keen on accepting Harry and Ron into N.E.W.T. level Potions as it is, but I didn't think it would be realistic to give them outrageously high Potions marks. I'm counting on McGonagall to pull some strings somehow at the beginning of the term, so they can both still be aurors if they choose.
I hope you like this so far. The next chapter will be up soon, I promise.