Background Information: This story takes place the June after Ginny graduates. Hermione has already been out of school for a year, and a trip to Las Vegas is a welcome vacation from the real world. Ginny is just eighteen and Hermione is nineteen, almost twenty.
Disclaimer: We own the plot and that's about it!
Chapter One: The Invite
Her room was immaculate. The bed was made, her dirty clothes were in a basket, and her desk was spotless. Her nightstand held only a small radio alarm clock and a large book. She had a few book shelves, all filled to capacity, lined up against one wall creating her own mini-library. The bay window was open and her curtains were flowing with the early summer breeze into the room. Hermione sat on the seat in front of the window, lightly sucking on the end of a Sugar Quill, with a small book in her lap.
Inside of the book were pages and pages of sketches. The first few ones were good but were of beginner level. The further into the book that you looked, the better the drawings became. She was currently working on a picture of her and a faceless boy. She had recently become obsessed with a guy who haunted her dreams; she felt that she knew who it was, but she was unable to give him a name. Of late, she had been labeling her drawings "Ginger and Brad". For the time being, until she knew his real name, she would name him Brad.
Her latest picture was of Ginger, a nickname that had been given to herself by Ginny, leaning into Brad. He had his arms wrapped around her protectively, but his face remained blank. When Hermione called him a faceless boy he really was. She had given him features, but only what she could remember from her dreams. He had hair that passed the top arch of his ears and he was obviously well-built. But still his face remained as blank as the paper it laid on.
Hermione tried her hardest not to make him perfect, but each time she looked at her drawings she found fewer and fewer flaws. She didn't truly believe in a perfect person so in her drawings she revealed flaws; even those of her best friends. She had scores of pictures of Ron, Harry, and Ginny, and in every one she showed even the tiniest imperfections. When they looked at the drawings they saw a near perfect reflection of themselves and Hermione prided herself on the truthfulness of her art.
The only time anyone saw the drawings was if she let them. Harry had seen the pictures of himself that he had posed for; the same with Ginny and Ron. None of them, however, had seen any pictures that Hermione had drawn of them without their knowledge. For all they knew, her best friends only appeared a few times in her book. They had no idea that they had actually dominated her drawings until Brad had taken over. Now every picture she drew was of him or of him and her together.
Hermione shut the book and rested her head back onto the window ledge. She had often found herself tiring of drawing her unknown love, and instead would be tempted to imagine him as a person rather than a pencil sketch. As of this moment she was already drifting off into her thoughts.
She was alone. Walking along a beach, Hermione's feet were covered in the shallow waters of the incoming tide. With each wave, fresh water came crashing in around her ankles. As she walked, her heels splashed the cold water up and it came in contact with her calves and thighs. After a few minutes of solitude, her legs were soaked and even the bottom of her skirt was damp.
She stopped for a moment to brush off her legs and when she straightened herself she saw him standing in front of her. His hair was shining and Hermione had to fight the urge to run her fingers through it. His eyes were a startling shade and they pierced through her with a mix of fury and adoration. It was a fine line between love and hate and they both walked along it very carefully. It was at these moments that Hermione knew him not as Brad the faceless stranger, but as her one true love.
Hermione ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. He lifted her up easily enough and began to spin her around. Her head was nestled in his neck and her feet were floating above the ground as they twirled. Finally, he slowed and her feet touched the water and sand again. She reluctantly pulled away and gazed into his stunning eyes. She opened her mouth to speak but he caught her lips in a warm kiss.
There was nothing trashy about the kiss. It was soft and romantic, not wild and sloppy. When they finished he whispered gruffly under his breath, "I think I love you, Hermione."
She looked deeply into his eyes and finally found her voice enough to whisper, "I know I love you, "
Hermione was jolted out of her daydream by an owl that was sitting on her bed. It was hooting loudly in her direction in a tone that she took as annoyance. She grudgingly rose from her favorite spot and walked across the room to get a treat for the bird.
"I should probably keep these near the window from now on. What are you here for anyway?" she asked the owl as she grabbed the can of treats that sat on her dresser. She looked back at the animal and laughed. "You can't exactly tell me why you're here, can you? Why did I even ask you?" She laughed again before continuing. "The better question, Hermione, is why the bloody hell are you still talking to an animal! And now I'm talking to myself. How grand!" She chided herself for her immature behavior before carrying the canister over to her bed and feeding one treat to the tawny owl. She put the can on the seat next to the window and moved back to the owl to take the letter off of its leg.
She examined the enveloped to make sure it was indeed for her—she had never had an owl make a mistake before, but it was always good to double check—and was unsurprised to see that it was. She slid her finger underneath the envelope backing and opened the loose seal. She withdrew a piece of parchment from the case and unfolded it.
Dear Miss Hermione Granger,
You have been accepted in Witch Weekly's Annual Beauty Pageant. It will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from July 15th to July 30th. You will be judged in seven categories consisting of Casual Wear, Formal Wear, Bathing Suits, Lingerie, Clubbing Attire, Pajamas, and a final Talent Show. All clothing will be provided.
Five winners of this competition will be offered the chance at a modeling career along with premier positions in the Witch Weekly Calendar for next year. Twelve winners will all star on the front cover of next years issues of Witch Weekly Magazine.
Pageants will be held every other day with a day of leisure separating each competition. A tentative schedule is attached. Also, directions to the Green Dragon Casino and Resort, where the competition will be held, are attached. We await your response by owl post no later than July 1st.
Producer of Witch Weekly Magazine
Hermione reread the letter a few times before it finally sunk in. She had been selected for an actual beauty pageant! A month ago Ginny had taken her to nominate themselves for events like these, but Hermione hadn't actually expected to receive anything in return. She had to wonder if Ginny had also gotten this letter. She told the owl that she would send her response in later, but first she had to talk to Ginny.
As soon as the owl had left Hermione exited her flat and walked to Ginny's. After Ginny had finished school she had been looking for a place and since one had opened up near Hermione, Ginny had soon bought it. Being as they were best friends, the two of them loved the arrangement and took advantage of it all the time. It had been a while though, Hermione realized, since they had last talked. She had to wonder if anything knew was going on with her best girlfriend.
Hermione approached the door and knocked a few times. After a few seconds the redhead came to the door and threw open the door. After a quick hug Ginny invited Hermione inside.
"Come on in! I have something I need to tell you. In fact, I was just on my way over to your place!"
"That's great. What's up?" Hermione asked her best girl friend.
"Not now! Let's sit down and get something to drink first." Ginny ushered Hermione into the dining room and grabbed a couple wine coolers from her refrigerator. They sat opposite each other, both sipping their coolers for a minute before Ginny burst out her news.
"I'm engaged!" she shouted, showing Hermione her left hand.
Hermione's eyes widened in shock at the large diamond on Ginny's finger, "But…" she stuttered. "Who are—were—you dating? I didn't even know you had a boyfriend, let alone a serious one!"
Ginny giggled and put her chin to her collarbone. She looked up at Hermione bashfully and blushed. "Well, we wanted to keep it a secret since I was still in school and he wasn't—"
"So he's older than you?" Hermione asked protectively.
"Not much," Ginny reassured her, "And he's really nice and sweet… He's cute and funny… I think you'll like him!"
"How old is he, Ginny?" Hermione asked again.
"Did I mention he's cute and funny?" Ginny stalled.
"Yes you did! What you didn't mention is HOW OLD IS HE? Oh, and who is he?"
"It's Oliver Wood. Quidditch Captain?"
"Oh my god! He is so cute! You are very lucky to have him!" Hermione squealed in excitement.
"I know!" Ginny rose from her seat and ran over to Hermione. They hugged again and Hermione grabbed Ginny's hand so that she could examine the ring further.
"It's gorgeous! Isn't Oliver on some professional team now?"
"Yeah. Puddlemere United. He's really busy, but it's all right. We're working around that. In fact, he's gone the whole month of July! Which is all right because I'm not going to be around here anyway," Ginny explained to Hermione.
"Oh," Hermione said sadly. She had hoped that Ginny would be able to attend the pageant with her. "Where are you going to be?"
"I got invited to participate in a Beauty Pageant for Witch Weekly Magazine!"
"I did too! We can go together!" Hermione said happily. "That was why I came over in the first place!"
Ginny and Hermione spent the next hour and a half deciding when to go shopping, what they would need to buy, and how excited they both were. Of course the hosts of the pageant would be covering any outfits they needed, but this was as good of an excuse as any to go shopping. When they finished talking they wrote their responses and sent them in. In the next three weeks they would need to shop, complete and entire self-beautifying regiment, and acquire two plane tickets for Las Vegas, Nevada.
A/N: This is SilverShiver's chapter. All odd chapters will be written by SilverShiver and all even chapters will be written by BooBack. Hope you enjoy.
Amber and Brittany