Disclaimer: I do no own Harry Potter or any of the characters. This story is for entertaniment purpouses only.
Hermione was sitting next to a gentleman who was definitely the champion of eating in her eyes by now. She had even thought of a name for him - Hummingbird. Not because he was as tiny but because he could probably eat as much as he weighed. Just when she thought he would stop he would just call the stewardess and ask for another helping. Do they have limits to how much you can eat on a plane? If they didn't, they should. This man was probably counting for two people already. She was annoyed to no end by the small bits of food that were caught in the mans thick black moustache. Once or twice she thought about mentioning it to him but then decided to try and absorb all she could read from another number of Medicine Magic.
What was the cleverest witch of her time doing on a plane? Couldn't she just apparate? She had mastered intercontinental apparition years ago. Or travel using a broomstick? Wait! Yes. Flying was out of the question because the distance was too long for that and she still had not mastered sleeping on a broomstick. Although, her flying was remarkably better now thanks to her job. She still couldn't understand the immense pleasure that Harry and Ginny and That Weasly took in it but now she was at least competent in that field.
That Weasly. Ronald Bilius Weasly. That sorry excuse for a man. That utterly unbelievable idiot of a man. Well he was the reason she had left to begin with. The story was long and painful and she didn't want to think about it. 'But you should,' the little voice in her head was telling her. 'Wizarding London is not that small, but it's certainly not big enough to hide from him forever.' The other voice contradicted:' I don't need forever, just two weeks!' The first voice nagged with a biting tone that she was sure scratched her heart a bit, 'You are bound to meet him at the wedding anyway.' Her heart sank at the thought, but she forced it to close itself behind the iron gates where she was safe. She will go to the wedding and she will be strong. Strong and cold as ice.
Yes, the Boy Who Lived was getting married in a week and by no means was she going to miss Harry's wedding. Even if it meant that she would have to possibly be in the same room with That Weasly. She could ignore him, simple as that. Besides she was more that certain that he was already married and had and a big bunch of annoying children whom he would far too busy with, to even notice her. Hermione wondered if he had married that woman she had seen him last with.
The captains voice travelled through the speakers, saying that they should fasten their seatbelts for landing. She would be outside the rainy Heathrow airport in just a matter of minutes, trying to find a taxi to get her to some Muggle hotel. She didn't want to risk going to the Leaky Cauldron. Seeing her old friends from school would just be too much. There would be the knowing and sympathetic looks she would get. Everything that she had ran away from was flooding back. Sympathy. Disappointment. Anger.
The wheels of the plane hit the ground softly but noticeably. She looked out of the window. 'Of course. What else? For once I could have been lucky enough with the weather, but no.' Having left London when she was 18 she had no clothes left for this climate. Hermione was praying to all the gods, that she could catch a taxi outside, although seeing the huge line of people before her waiting anxiously to get through the passport check, she doubted that seriously. Apparating to a Muggle hotel probably would not be a good idea either.
The line in front of her was moving slowly. The Hummingbird was swaying from one foot to the other, trying to decide which foot he was more comfortable on. Hermione stared disbelievingly as he dug in his pockets to find something. Chocolate. Impossible! The Hummingbird turned towards her and asked, with his mouth full and little bits of chocolate decorating his moustache once more, if she wanted some. She forced her lips to curve ever so little and declined quite politely in her opinion. She was almost the last one in the line, except the family of Brazilians - a beautiful woman with her husband and 5 children. The youngest child was just an infant and - obviously very tired from the long flight - screaming from the top of its lungs. The overweight gentleman in front of her was now having his passport checked and Hermione saw him grunt disapprovingly as they asked him to put his bar of chocolate away for a few moments. She looked behind her and saw the man embrace the woman with the child gently and whisper something to her. Hermiones Portuguese was close to perfect now, after 5 years and she made out the words- I love you. The rest of the 4 children started fighting over something that exact moment and the man told them to break it up. Before she knew it, Hermione had asked the family to switch places with her so they would be next. She could go last. Nobody knew when she was arriving. There was nobody waiting for her.
Finally she was through the identification check, had grabbed her bag and was walking through the sliding doors into the waiting area. It was almost deserted due to the late hour. A few airport employees, the Brazilian family was getting into the only taxi she saw outside, a woman with beautiful long hair was standing with her back to her, looking at the family getting in and a man was reading The Financial Times by a nearby table.
"Hermione!" before she knew it the elflike creature with unbelievably long tresses had thrown her arms around her neck almost choking her. " You are so tanned! And dressed so highly inappropriately for our weather!"
"Ginny! I… How did you know I was coming?" She was quite taken aback. She had just decided yesterday that she would be coming. She most certainly had not told anybody about it.
Ginny winked mischievously. "I have connections. Merlin's beard Hermione! If I didn't know it was you I would not have recognised you! You are…tanned is an understatement. You are…brown! Have you completely forgotten about our weather here? Who would come to Britain wearing shorts? Really!"
Ginny was hopping from one subject to the other so fast that Hermione's head was spinning. " I didn't have a place to transfigure them. The heat was killing me when we took off from Rio."
"My my! If it weren't you I would think that you spend your days on the beach with those sexy Brazilian studs." She winked at Hermione. " But you can tell me all the details about them later." She had a devilish glint in her eyes. Ok off to the Apparition Booth with you."
"Apparition Booth? Excuse me?"
"Oh right! You haven't heard! The Ministry set those up a few years back so we wouldn't have to worry so much about the Muggles and everything. Invisible to Muggles of course."
Ginny was now walking very fast and Hermione was trotting next to her to keep up. The sign pointed toilets to the right and so they obediently turned. Ginny entered without looking twice.
"Ginny!" The younger woman had alreadysucceeded herand had stepped into the room. "Bloody hell!" Hermione caught up with her and pulled her sleeve. "This is for that part of the community who never forget their pencil when they leave home!"
Ginny looked at her, then burst out laughing. "By that you mean men? By Gods, someone's humor has more of an edge to it than when we last met! Yes, yes I know. They thought that one booth would be enough and seeing as when they voted then the majority was of course of the male species then the only booth is in here."
"But where are we going? Not the Burrow, I hope?" The stress she hoped she was hiding so well behind her carefree attitude was evident to Ginny. She smiled at Hermione. "Do you honestly think that a 22-year-old woman such as myself would want to live under the constant supervision of my parents and older brothers who can jump into my room any time they please? Especially if a girl has a boyfriend much similar to the one I have the pleasure of dating?" Her face lit up as she spoke of her special someone. Hermione made a mental note to inquire for further details later. 'But not too much further. After all,you wouldn't want to imagineyour brother...almost brother... Stop!'
"Are you ready?"
Hermione nodded in reply and they apparated with two soft pops.
"Well, welcome to my humble home," Ginny said waving her arm and throwing the keys on a small table in the hall. At, what seemed to be the speed of light, she had already floted(she actually might have) from the hall to the kitchen
"Are you hungry 'Mione?"
Hermione walked slowly towards the kitchen, at the same time exploring the small apartment. Near the door there was a coat rack, as small table and a mirror on the wall. The wallpaper was a warm beige and the soft lights in the hall accented it beautifully. Ginny had always had good taste. Nothing too much - just the right amount. In the end of the hall there wasa living room with an open kitchen. She saw three doors and assumed that one lead to Ginny's bedroom and the other to the bathroom while thethird one was unmistakeably the door to the balcony.
She flinched. "Yes Professor MacGonagall!"
Ginny laughed softly. "I knew her voice would bring you back from wherever you were wandering. So do you want to eat or not?" She eyed the young woman before her sceptically. "You look like you have found a new cult - anorexia."
"Ginny! I eat! Shut it! And for your information…"
"All right, all right!" She raised up her hands in defeat. "Some pasta?"
"Your famous pasta? Of course!" Ginny beamed as she waved her wand over the pot, heating it. With a few swishes of the wand she had set the table and opened two bottles of butterbeer.
Hermione grabbed one immediately. "Oh how I've missed this," she said and gulped some liquid down.
Ginny dropped the wooden spoon she was holding. "Are you kidding?"
"No. They have never heard of butterbeer in Brazil. The thought I was bonkers when I asked for it in the grocery stores." Hermione imitated the salesgirls expressions. Ginny giggled involuntarily.
"Oh I've missed having you around so much Hermione." Her face was a mixture of sadness and happiness with a small pinch of regret. "We all have."
"Please Ginny. Let's not get teary just yet. I think I'll have to have a few more of these," she pointed towards the bottle of butterbeer in her hand, "before I can take that path down the memory lane." She was twirling the bottle in her hands, letting her thoughts wonder. And wonder thay did - to the thing she had almost forgotten.
"Oh!" Hermione exclaimed. "I brought gifts. I'll get them before I forget." She was back in a minute with two things - a pack of coffee and a bottle.
"I was hoping you would bring coffee. I've heard so much about Brazilian coffee, but what is in the bottle?" Hermione just smiled at her.
"Seriously. Tell me. You are starting to scare me. Before you left you hardly ever drank, now you are bringing me a whole bottle full of … something. If ever, the old Hermione would have brought me some wine that was extra special because it would only be made in some monastery in southern France. The old Hermione never swore or referred to certain parts of a mans body. You have done both. Out with it!"
"I brought you some tequila. Do you have lemons?" Ginny nodded and eyed the bottle curiously. "Do you have salt?" Ginny nodded and now furrowed her brow towards the bottle.
"Ok we'll try that out later. But now: EAT! You look like you are about to collapse!" Ginny announced all that in quite a demanding tone.
"Poor Harry." Hemione mumbled quietly to herself.
"What was that?"
"Nothing." Hermione even managed to blush and look innocent.
They ate Ginny's magnificent pasta (Hermione wouldn't stop complimenting her about it, saying that it was now even better than 5 years ago) and drank the butterbeer that she had missed so much. Hermione told Ginny about her work in Brazil and the three years she spent in medical school studying to be a medi-witch. Ginny gave her an overview of the latest going-ons and doings of the British wizarding community.
"So what exactly do you do there? I know you are an archaeologist but you are sort of tongue-tied about the whole thing or am I mistaken?" She got up from the table and brought out Ogden's Firewhisky and two whiskey glasses.
"When did you grow to like that stuff?" Hermione remembered that Ron had been quite fond of it.
"Since Ron brought me a bottle once when I had gotten into a huge fight with my boyfriend."
Hermione gulped and started hastily opening the bottle. "I'm sorry." Ginny looked down at her friend who was now pouring a bit too much whiskey into both glasses and spilling some on the table.
"No matter." Hermione lifted her glass and said: "To old times!" Ginny repeated and they both drank.
"Well some of…actually…most of the things I do in Brazil are classified. I do some undercover work for the Ministry and some archaeological work for the Brazilian Wizarding Government. I guess they hired me because I had the top marks in Ancient Runes and at that moment I didn't want to stay in Rio longer that I had to. So the job at archaeological excavations was perfect for me. Soon after that The Ministry contacted me and asked me if I would agree to helping them. Well my last job didn't pay that well so I agreed to help… I am really sorry I can't tell you much more." She eyed her long-time friend apologetically.
"It's okay. I am used to that. Ron works for… Never mind. I want to hear more about the men anyway." Ginny grinned widely and smiled wickedly.
"Ah what is there to tell, dear?" Hermione said in a bitterly mysterious tone.
"Oh do stop that!"
"What? Stop what dear?"
"Trying to sound like my grandmother. You don't honestly expect me to believe that you have lived in celibacy all these years?" The woman from across the table was staring at Hermione, looking like she couldn't even imagine life like that. "You honestly don't expect me to believe that there has not been a man in your life?"
"Well not all of us are engaged to a certain raven-haired hero who ravished them whenever they feel like it." Ginny continued to look at her as if she hadn't noticed Hermiones offer to change the subject. "You are not going to let this go, are you?" Hermione took a sip of her whiskey and testingly chanced a look in Ginny's direction.
"No. Not a chance in hell." Ginny smiled warmly. "I want to hear about your gorgeous husband and beautiful children and your nice house with a white picket fence and your pet parrot." She raised her eyebrows mockingly at a certain curly-haired witch.
"Parrot? You should know me better than that by now."
"Sorry. Once I complained to Harry that I was rather lonely when he was away with the Quiddich team again and he suggested I get a parrot," Ginny said rather sheepishly. "But now - out with the rest of it."
"There is no gorgeous husband, ok Gin?"
"He's an unattractive bookworm? That ought to make Ron feel better."
"No there is no husband nor are there any children. And would you kindly please not mention him in my presence? Thank you." Hermione took a great swig out of her glass and gulped it down without the blink of an eye.
"Alright. His name was Raoul. The first year I started medical school in Rio. He was nice. Showed me around, taught me things every proper Brazilian ought to know. We were the perfect couple in everyone's eyes - both medical students, both young, beautiful and happy. Fairy tale. It was just a few months after your brother and my heart was still aching but I was getting on with my life. I had already convinced myself that I was as head-over-heels in love with Raoul as he was with me. So this went on for about six months or so. We were moving fast. Actually we were not only moving fast - we were moving in together."
Hermione took the bottle of whisky and poured herself some more of the caramel coloured liquid. 'God I need strenght. But maybe it will be better if I tell someone? After allit has been a long time and this is Ginny.' Another voice in her head was nagging: 'But it has been a long time since you were with Ron and that still hurts doesn't it? Well, Ron was different. How? Because you love him. Because I used to love him. We all know that's not true. We all? I'm having a conversation with two voices in my head. This can't be good.'
She took a gulp and squeezed it down. "I haven't told this to anyone. You have to promise me Ginny, that for as long as you live, you won't tell a soul." Ginny nodded silently and Hermione continued. "After about a month or so… Well there was one practice that was cancelled from the end of the day. I was terribly happy of course, because me and Raoul had not seen each other the whole weekend and I knew he would be back from visiting his parents. So I apparated back home…only to find out that Raoul already had company - my only friend in Rio besides Raoul - Francesca."
Hermione watched the liquid swirl round and round in her glass as she moved it and then raised the glass to meet Ginny's: "To men and to girls who know that they are like socks - you should know when they start to smell and that's the time to throw them into the laundry." She gulped down her drink and added as an afterthought, "Although, maybe it's true about women too?"
"Oh I'm so sorry 'Mione. You have the worst luck!"
Hermione simply shrugged.
"Was that worth throwing perfectly good 5 minutes away?" She smiled and Ginny could see the sadness in her eyes.
As the night rolled on they managed to drain the big bottle of whiskey, laugh until their stomachs hurt and gossip like only two old friends could.
"D'you know Lavender owns a club?"
"Club? What kind of club? For what? What's it called? Loonies only?" That comment was followed by the hysterical laughter of two women.
"No, no. Actually it is situated right next to the Ministry of Magic. Guess what its called?"
"Hmm that is a tough one, but I'll go with Lavenders logic: The Ministry?"
"YES!" They laughed like two old witches from a Muggle movie.
Ginny gazed towards the clock on the wall and saw that her hand was creeping towards sleep.
"Oh Hermione this has been so much fun but I really have to be at work tomorrow… And it is already…" she eyed her Muggle wristwatch "…4! My god!"
"Where did you get that?" Hermione was pointing towards her watch.
"Dad went Christmas shopping in a Muggle 'department store'. I was lucky to have escaped with this, I suppose. I hope you don't mind sleeping on the sofa? R….I mean some people have told me it is very comfortable."
Hermione smiled at her childhood friend who was looking a bit nervous and uncomfortable because she didn't have a guestroom to offer her. "Of course I don't mind. I'll just go out for a quick smoke." She pointed towards the door of the balcony.
"Hermione! You didn't use to smoke!"
"Yeah well… I needed to punch up my tough girl image and it was either that or getting my hair highlighted. Smoking is easier to maintain." Ginny stared at her in utter disbelief which caused Hermione to drop the easy tone. "Look. I didn't use to do a lot of things 5 years ago." She whiskered a pack of cigarettes of her pocket.
As she was closing the doors to the balcony she heard Ginny hit the kitchen table forcefully with her fist and grunt: "I am going to kill Ron!"
Thank you for reading!
The last bit about getting the hair highlighted is from House MD. I acknowledge that I am not half as talented as David Shore and Doris Egan, so therefore I acknowledge its theirs.