The Only Boy Who Wanted Me the Way That I Am

Having shared a room with Ginny for many summers, Hermione was accustomed to the nightmares. Hermione herself had been plagued by nightmares for many months after the incident at the Ministry of Magic, and still occasionally suffered through one, but Ginny's nightmares of late were pervasive and seemed very bad.

Hermione felt terrible about this, but the other thing she'd learned about Ginny over the years was that she absolutely abhorred any kind of sympathy that might smack of coddling or worse, pity. Eventually, Hermione was able to establish an acceptable routine. If Ginny had a nightmare, Hermione would call her name until she woke and then ask her if she was all right and offer her a glass of water. Hermione knew by now that if Ginny accepted the glass of water the dream was really bad. She had gotten Ginny a glass of water every night this week. Finally, on the fifth night in a row, she asked Ginny if she wanted to talk about it. Ginny declined.

Everyone noticed Ginny's short temper and worn down appearance from lack of sleep, but no one said anything about it, so Hermione kept the nightmares to herself. She'd also noticed that Harry and Ginny seemed on the outs, which was particularly distressing since she and Ron had never been happier. There were only a few weeks of summer left and Hermione hated to see them waste it. She wasn't sure what happened the night after she and Ron had returned from her parent's house, but when Ginny came back in from their swim she was in a right temper, but wouldn't tell Hermione what happened. Instead, Ginny had sniped at her and told her to sod off, and that everyone couldn't be perfect like she was. That, of course, hurt Hermione's feelings, so she'd been reluctant to say anything else about it, although the tension between Harry and Ginny was palpable.

Monday morning found Ron and Hermione in the kitchen making breakfast. Mrs. Weasley had gone to a meeting of the Order and then to do the weekly shopping at Diagon Alley. Mr. Weasley was at work, so the four of them were on their own, at least until early afternoon.

"Come on," Ron whined. "We can make breakfast later, let's go upstairs." He circled his hands around Hermione's waist and pulled her to him.

She pushed back against him, but not very hard. "Ron," she admonished, "someone could walk in."

"Exactly," Ron whispered against her ear. "That's why we should go upstairs." He slid his hands up to cup her breasts while at the same time nuzzling under her hair to kiss her neck.

"Don't" Hermione said, but it came out as moan. It had been the better part of a week since they'd been alone together. "Ron," but that came out as a moan too.

He slid a hand inside her pajama bottoms to cup her sex and Hermione bit her lip. It felt so good. Perhaps they could go upstairs, just for a bit, while –

"Please tell me you're not having sex in the kitchen," Ginny said from the kitchen door.

Ron and Hermione popped apart. Hermione could feel her face heat up and Ron's was positively crimson.

"Ginny!" Ron shouted.

"What?" Ginny shouted back. "That's disgusting!"

"That's rich," Ron shouted. "Coming from you, when you were snogging Dean in the corridors."

"We don't eat in the corridors and Dean didn't have his hand down my pants!"

"Stop it!" Hermione shouted at both of them. "Just stop it."

"Oh look, Hermione's upset. For little Miss Perfect you certainly tarted up fast," Ginny hissed.

Hermione blanched. Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes. "Excuse me," she muttered and fled from the room, confused and hurt as to why Ginny was being so unspeakably cruel all of a sudden. She could hear Ron shouting at Ginny behind her as she brushed by Harry in the hall.

"Hey, what's --?" Harry started, but Hermione didn't stop to explain.

Harry could hear Ron and Ginny fighting before he actually got to the kitchen. When he walked in, he found them both red-faced and furious, wands drawn.

"Hey, hey!" he shouted over them. "Wands down, what the hell is going on? Why is Hermione crying?" He looked at Ron, "Did you two have a row again?"

Ron shook his head angrily and pointed at Ginny. "Why don't you tell him why Hermione's crying, Gin?"

"Sod off all of you!" Ginny shouted and stormed out the back door slamming it behind her.

Harry and Ron stood looking at each other completely flabbergasted. "I think we need to talk," Harry said quietly.

Ron raised an eyebrow at him.

"Hermione too," Harry added.

The boys trudged upstairs.

Hermione was standing at the window, watching Ginny storm around the garden, flinging gnomes over the wall. They were all running from her in terror.

She turned around when Ron knocked softly on the door. "Hey," he said. He stepped into the room with Harry right behind him. "You all right?" Ron asked.

She nodded.

Ron sat on the edge of her bed. "What the hell has got into Ginny?"

Hermione pushed her hair off her forehead. "I don't know, but she hasn't been sleeping. She's had terrible nightmares all week." She looked at Harry. "Did something happen with you two? You've seemed really at odds."

"I've hurt her feelings, I think. I didn't mean to. I was just trying to do the right thing." Harry said and flopped down on the end of Ginny's bed.

"Well, if you've hurt her feelings," Ron questioned. "Why is she being so mean to Hermione?"

Harry's cheeks went pink. "Well, I might have mentioned Hermione…"

Hermione sat down next to Ron and stared at Harry. "Mentioned me how?"

"Well," Harry said slowly. "Ron," he stopped here and gave Ron a sort of pleading look. "Ron sort of mentioned what happened the first time you two, you know."

Hermione's jaw dropped and she turned to face Ron, appalled that he would share such an intimate detail even with Harry. Ron's face had gone white.

Harry held his palms up. "Not as locker room talk or anything like that," he quickly amended. "Just as, you know, more of a…cautionary tale."

Hermione put a hand over her eyes. "That's great, just great. So what does this have to do with Ginny?"

"Well," Harry continued. "I told Ginny what Ron told me as an example of why we might want to wait, only it didn't work out the way I planned."

Hermione and Ron looked at each other and then back at Harry.

"She got really mad, and she shouted at me that she 'wasn't very well Hermione now was she', and then she stormed off and things haven't been right between us since." Harry's shoulders drooped. He looked utterly defeated. "I was just trying to do the right thing," he repeated softly. "I guess I should go talk to her." He looked at Ron. "I'm really sorry."

When Harry had left the room, Hermione turned to Ron. "Why?" was all she could manage to say.

"I'm so sorry, Hermione. I really am. I just didn't want him to make the same mistake I did." He went to take her hand but she pulled away.

"I need some time to…absorb this. I can't think right now."

Ron looked as defeated as Harry. "All right then, Luv." He started walking toward the door. "You could shout at me if you'd like," he said hopefully.

Hermione shook her head. "I just need a little time to myself, Ron."

He nodded and went downstairs.

Out in the garden, Harry found Ginny sitting under the apple tree throwing crab apples at an old wheelbarrow.

He cleared his throat, but she ignored him. "Ginny?"

She glared at him, but he could see her eyes were red-rimmed from crying. "What?" she barked.

"I thought we should talk," Harry said.

"Actually, I think I should go talk to Hermione. I really upset her earlier and I should fix that." She stood and dusted herself off.

"But--" Harry started.

She ignored him and stomped off into the house.

When the door opened, Hermione was going to tell Ron that he hadn't given her near enough time to digest everything she'd heard this morning, but she was surprised to see Ginny come in instead of her brother.

"Hullo," she said as she walked in, shutting the door behind her.

"Hi," Hermione said cautiously. Perhaps Ginny just wanted her room to herself. "I'll clear out, if you like." She closed the book she'd been leafing through and made to get off the bed.

"No, stay," Ginny said. "I owe you an apology."

Hermione set the book down on the bed and waited.

"I was awful to you this morning, and I'm sorry."

Hermione shrugged. "That's all right, you're overwrought. You've hardly had any sleep this week."

"Still," Ginny said. "That's no reason to be nasty to you. You're no tart, and I'm really happy you and Ron are together. You certainly danced around each other long enough."

Hermione smiled. "Yes, well, no one can say we rushed into anything."

Ginny laughed softly. "That's true." She looked rather sheepishly at Hermione. "So, still friends, yeah?"

"Of course," Hermione said.

Ginny nodded. "Thanks." She started to make up her bed.

"Ginny," Hermione ventured delicately. "What's going on with you? Harry said he told you about, well…" she took a deep breath and then blew it out slowly, "you know, what happened with Ron and I…the first time, and you got really mad at him."

Ginny stopped making the bed and sat down on the edge of it. "Yeah, can you believe he said that to me? As if!"

"He was just concerned, Ginny. I mean it does happen."

"Yeah, I know," Ginny said, rolling her eyes. "But it doesn't happen twice, now does it?"

Hermione was taken aback, unsure of what Ginny was trying to say and then she realized. "Oh, I didn't know you and Dean had --"

"Dean?" Ginny said. "What are you on about?"

Hermione could only think of one other person Ginny had dated seriously, but she'd only been fourteen at the time. "Michael?" she ventured weakly.

"What?" Ginny said louder this time. "No!"

Hermione shrugged. "Then I don't know who --"

"You don't know?" Ginny narrowed her eyes. "Are you making fun of me?"

"No," Hermione sputtered in shock. "Of course not. I just don't understand what you mean. I thought you were trying to say you'd already --"

"Yeah, I have, of course, why are acting like you don't know this?" Ginny was on the verge of tears now.

"Ginny, I don't know what you're talking about." Hermione said, desperately trying to figure out what was going on.

Ginny stood and began pacing around the room. "How could you not know?" she whispered more to herself than to Hermione. "And if you don't know, does that mean Harry doesn't know? But how could Harry not know? He saw him standing there in the flesh. He must know."

"Ginny," Hermione said, trying to bring her back to the conversation. "What are you talking about?"

Ginny turned on her. "I'm talking about Tom."

"Tom?"

"Riddle, Voldemort." Ginny snorted. "You're supposed to be the brightest witch in school, and you couldn't figure that out?"

Hermione felt as if her stomach had suddenly dropped into a pit. "But I thought, he was just a bit of soul inside a diary."

"Yeah," Ginny said, "in the beginning, but he could take corporeal form after awhile, just for short stretches at first and then longer. The weaker I became, the stronger he became, but come on, you had to know all this."

Hermione shook her head.

"You never talked about it? In all this time, the three of you never discussed it?" Ginny clearly thought that absurd.

"Ginny, I was…" She didn't want to say 'petrified.' "Out of it a good deal of that year. Ron was stuck with Lockhart. Harry was the only one who went all the way into the chamber, and I assure you he gave us only the barest description of what went on. He almost died. You almost died. He hardly wanted to sit up chatting about it."

Ginny's face had gone white. She sat down heavily on the end of her bed. "All this time, I thought you knew. I thought you all knew."

Hermione shook her head.

Ginny pressed her hands against her face. "So you honestly don't think Harry knows?"

"No, I don't think he does." Hermione sighed. "He would never have said what he said if he knew."

Ginny fell back onto the bed. "This is awful."

"Well, if he doesn't know then --"

"I have to tell him." Ginny finished for her.

"No, you don't."

"Yeah," Ginny said, "I really do. This is worse than before."

"How do you figure that?" Hermione asked.

"Because," Ginny said, sitting up. "He really was being noble. I thought -- He's never going to want to touch me again."

"That's ridiculous," Hermione said indignantly.

Ginny looked at her. "I don't think so."

Downstairs the boys milled around aimlessly. Ron went back into the kitchen and ate a bowl of cereal. Harry wandered into the parlor to look for something to read. He was so sick of defensive spell work, he just wanted something different. He scanned the bookshelves, bypassing a handful of romance novels, Lockhart's collected works and scores of DADA stuff. Finally he pulled out a large tome called Deadly Beasts and How to Manage Them. Opening it, Harry realized it was N.E.W.T. level Care of Magical Creatures text.

Must have belonged to Charlie, Harry thought, and sure enough on the inside cover was scrawled Charlie's name. He took the large volume over to the sofa and sat down, flipping idly through its pages. He skipped over several truly horrific looking creatures in the A section before he came upon the entry for Basilisk. The first part of the article was almost identical to the one Hermione had ripped from one of the Hogwarts books, but as this was a much more advanced book there were additional entries. There was a section on how to kill a Basilisk and another section on how to call out a Basilisk that had been bred by another wizard. This was apparently a common problem back when it was legal to breed them. Because of their long life spans, the serpents often outlived their masters and then preyed upon unsuspecting villages for centuries until someone managed to lure them from their hiding places. Harry glanced over this information with passing interest. Stopped. Then read it again.

The Basilisk bred by another wizard is a wily creature, not to be hunted lightly. However, should a Basilisk need to be found it is best to lure it with the blood of virginity.

At first, he didn't understand what that last part meant. The wording seemed odd. Then it dawned on Harry how "the blood of virginity" was distinct from "the blood of a virgin." The book fell from his hands. Suddenly everything that Ginny had said the last time they'd been together made total awful sense.

There was a soft knock on the door. Ginny made no move to answer it, so Hermione walked across the room and opened it. Harry stood in the doorway, his face unnaturally pale.

"Hermione," Harry started. "I need --"

Hermione nodded. "I'll leave you two alone."

Harry sat on the edge of Ginny's bed. "I can't believe I was so daft."

Ginny sat up. "What?"

"I'm a great stupid prat."

Ginny looked at him, clearly unsure what he was talking about.

"Charlie left one of his Care of Magical Creatures books here," he started. "There's an entry on Basilisks and how to call one."

Ginny closed her eyes. "So you know."

Harry nodded. "I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I was so daft, and I'm sorry I didn't destroy him before he could hurt you."

"What are you on about? You saved me, Harry."

Harry shook his head. "Not really, Fawkes saved us both."

Ginny touched his cheek. "You saved me. You destroyed the diary."

"I should have destroyed it sooner. I should have destroyed it when I had it."

"You can't think like that. You didn't know what it was."

Harry shook his head. "I knew it was enchanted. And I should have had enough loyalty to Hagrid not to trust the word of some prick."

Ginny laughed softly. "Could you possibly be harder on yourself? Not everything is your fault, Harry. Besides, by that point it was too late anyway."

Harry smiled and laced his fingers through hers. "Give us a kiss."

Ginny cocked her head and looked at him. "You still want to?"

Harry made a show of thinking about it. "Well, let's see," he said. "I'm breathing." He touched his fingers to his neck. "I have a pulse. So, yeah, I want to kiss you."

She leaned over and just barely touched her lips to his. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her more firmly. Ginny leaned back and Harry moved forward until he was sprawled out half on top of her as he had been many afternoons down by the lake at Hogwarts. Harry was always the one to put on the brakes. He was very conscious of the fact that Ginny was only sixteen, that he was a guest that was treated like family in her parent's home, and most importantly, that she was Ron's beloved little sister. But Ginny didn't make stopping easy. Oh sure, after Dumbledore's funeral she had quietly accepted his declaration that they could no longer be together, but from the minute he'd arrived at the Burrow from the Dursley's this summer, she'd acted as though that conversation had never occurred.

Harry had always known that Ginny kept her own counsel on things, but this summer had really shown him just how fiercely she guarded her independence. He might have decided that they shouldn't be together because it wasn't safe for her, but she would do as she pleased, his wishes be damned. He'd like to think he was strong enough to resist her for her own sake, but sadly that just wasn't true. As she pushed his T-shirt up, and he raised his arms so could pull it off, he whispered, "Ginny, we should stop."

She shifted out from under him, and he thought for once she'd seen reason, but the scowl that settled on her features told him otherwise.

"You great stupid prat!" she practically spit at him.

"Ginny!" Harry protested.

"You are. If you don't want me, just say so. Stop doing this wind me up and drop me business, it's giving me nightmares." She got off the bed and walked away from him.

"Ginny, it's not that I don't want you. We've been through this before. It's not safe --"

"Oh, spare me your safety speech. That's just bullocks and you know it!"

"Really?" Harry said in exasperation. "So Voldemort's not really after me and anyone close to me? All in my mind is it?"

"Oh, please!" Ginny threw up her hands. "As if anyone of us is safe. Most of my family is in the Order of the Phoenix. Does that make me safe? You don't think that all the members of the Order and their families are targets? I was once possessed by Voldemort. Does that make me safe? You don't think there are Death Eaters out there that would love to get a hold of me for that reason alone? No one we know is safe, Harry, so that pathetic excuse for not touching me is just that, pathetic."

Harry sat on the edge of her bed and stared at his hands. "You're only sixteen," he said softly. "Your family trusts me."

Ginny scoffed at him. "I'm only sixteen? Worried about my innocence, Harry? I've told you it's long gone."

He looked up at her. "Gin please, your Mum and Dad --"

"Aren't nearly as thick as you are," Ginny finished for him. "We're running out of time, Harry. Summer's nearly over and who knows what happens after." She walked to the door. She put her hand on the knob and said, "I'm sick of dreams that start with me kissing you and end up as nightmares with me under him. I want something better than that. I deserve something better than that." She opened the door and stormed out, slamming it behind her.

Harry felt sick as fear and lust surged through him while all around it swirled something even more frightening, something that Dumbledore had always said was his primary strength. Love.