A/N: This is it! The last chapter...it's a bit shorter, but I'm happy with how it turned out. Writing that last part made me yawn so many times, I couldn't count. But I do now have a large body of evidence supporting the hypothesis that yes, fictional yawns are contageous too. (Don't say I didn't warn you!) Thank you so much to everyone who's been reading this all along, for being so patient with me (five months? five??) and giving me the encouragement to keep going! I probably wouldn't have kept writing it without you : )
Warnings: Excessive cuteness; yawning; girls fighting. Oh, and there's more kissing. If you can't handle it...begone!
8. Pillow Talk
Hermione turned the knob and stepped into the room. Her eyes made a lazy circuit of the room, acclimating to the change in light from the hall, and taking in her surroundings piece by piece. This was her room – she knew she had rented it, earlier that day – but she couldn't seem to comprehend it as a more than a disparate set of impressions, which refused resolve into a room, as a whole. Her eyes swung around to the bed, and were drawn as though to a magnet to the woman sitting there, lazily twirling her wand in one hand and smiling, catlike, at Hermione. Hermione smiled back.
She was not at all surprised to see her girlfriend there, waiting for her. One part of her mind wanted to mention something about this being the wrong place for Wanda to be, and another part seemed to want to object to the label of "girlfriend", but these were easy to ignore. Hermione felt the presence behind her back that had followed her down the corridor press a little closer into her personal space, but her curiosity at that was easy to ignore, too. In fact, she hardly felt any.
"Hello, Hermione." Wanda smiled slightly.
Hermione took a step toward the bed. That voice. There was just something about it…
A rustle at her back was all the warning she got before a shape hurtled past her toward the bed, crying "Expelliarmus!" Wanda's wand went flying through the air in a graceful arc, and the second that the wand left her hand, it was like a veil had been torn down in Hermione's head. Instantly, the scene before her snapped into crystal clarity. Ginny – that must have been whose presence she felt – was standing between her and her ex, wand drawn, and Wanda was staring after her wand, in shock.
This only lasted a moment, though, for she spat an insult at Ginny and darted toward the bureau behind which her wand had fallen. Ginny growled, and dove after her, resulting in a violent scuffle on the floor before the bureau, arms and legs flying in every direction as each woman tried to grab the fallen wand and prevent the other from doing so at the same time.
Hermione rushed over and drew her own wand, thanking the gods that Wanda had not seen it necessary to disarm her before she pulled her little trick. She arrived just in time to kick the fallen wand away from a grasping hand (she couldn't tell whose), but not in time to stop Wanda from giving Ginny's hair a vicious pull, or to stop Ginny from landing an ill-aimed but powerful punch on the other witch's cheek. Hoping for the best, Hermione pointed her wand into the fray, and cried "Petrificus Totalus!"
Through sheer luck, her spell hit its intended target, and the American witch froze, on her back, limbs locked into an absurd position. Ginny quickly scrambled to her feet, and leveled her wand at the petrified woman.
"You – you dared! And after I warned you, and gave you a fair chance to just go away and leave us in peace!" Her face contorted with rage. "I told you you would regret it if you ever tried anything again, and now –"
Hermione grabbed Ginny's arm. She appreciated Ginny's anger on her behalf, but she was getting scary. "Ginny." She pulled Ginny closer and wrapped her arms around her from behind. The other girl was coiled as tightly as a spring.
"Ginny." Hermione spoke her name again, and could feel her relax by a degree. "She's not worth it. We can bring her in to Magical Law Enforcement; they can handle her much better than we can at this point. She broke the law; this is the Aurors' jobs now, not ours. The important thing was that we stopped her before she had a chance to do any real harm."
Ginny sagged back into Hermione's arms. "You're right," she sighed. "You're right. There's nothing more I can do now, or you…I just got so mad at her, for hurting you like that…and then trying again; it's just –" She took several deep breaths to calm herself down, and Hermione began rubbing small circles in her back, which seemed to help.
"I know. And thank you. There's a time for being mad, and if you hadn't gotten angry and attacked her when you did, I would probably still be under the Imperius, doing god knows what…"
She pulled Ginny around and kissed her, slowly and meaningfully, and Ginny returned the kiss with a heartbreaking tenderness that spoke deeply about how much she had been afraid for Hermione. When they broke apart, the last lines of tension were gone from Ginny's shoulders, and she was starting to smile.
"So, what're we going to do about this?" Ginny prodded Wanda's petrified body with a toe, causing it to rock back and forth rather pathetically.
Hermione's brow furrowed. "Technically, we're required to bring her into the ministry as soon as we get the chance." Ginny waited, sensing that there was a but to this. "But they'll make us file a report, which could take hours, and I really don't feel like spending the rest of the night in the Ministry…"
"Good. I'm tired, too; let's not do that." Hermione didn't look quite convinced, but Ginny went on. "I don't know about you, but I'm not about to let her ruin any more of my night. Tomorrow morning will be at our soonest possible convenience."
Hermione's fragile inclination to follow the rules in this case caved. "Right. And if they ask, we'll just say that we were too tired to trust ourselves to travel safely, and we needed to recover from the fight..."
"Exactly," Ginny crooned, "Now you're talking reason." She looked down at the body on the floor distastefully. "Which still leaves us with the problem of what to do with her until then."
"Oh, that's not a problem," said Hermione, "I'll just –"
And she broke away from Ginny's side and did several complicated things with her wand at once. The result was that their prisoner was now sitting tied to a Transfigured chair, blindfolded, and isolated safely behind several layers of crackling wards.
"I put a sleep charm on her, too," said Hermione, which explained why the woman's jaw was hanging slack, a trail of drool already forming. "It's for our privacy, more than anything!" she was quick to add, as though sensing Ginny's objection that even this measure was providing more comfort than their prisoner deserved. Ginny said nothing though, only turned and planted a searching kiss on Hermione's mouth.
"That was brilliant spellwork," she murmured, seductively.
"Mmmmm, thank you."
"That was some of the best, quickest, smoothest casting I have ever seen."
"As well it should be," Hermione crooned.
"I am impressed."
"I think I can tell..."
Hermione was the first one to break down into giggles, followed by Ginny, and once they started, they had a hard time stopping. "Oh man, I think I need some sleep. My brain must be about to shut down from exhaustion."
Ginny collapsed back on the bed and echoed the sentiment. Then she sat back up again. "You are alright, though, otherwise? She must have had you under the Imperius for hours."
Hermione joined Ginny on the bed. "Yeah, she must have cast it on me back by the lake, but it was lying dormant most of that time; I definitely remember the point where she started controlling me with it. Everything got fuzzy, all of a sudden. She's really good at it too; I didn't even hear a voice telling me what to do…I just suddenly had the urge to come here, and I forgot everything else. I even thought that she was my girlfriend, when I saw her here…" She shuddered.
Next to her, Ginny growled under her breath. "Are you sure I can't hex her?"
"Don't worry, the ministry will lock her up for a good long time. They don't like people running around, using unforgivables…and if I can prove that she's done it before, which she has to have done - she was just too practiced - then who knows if she'll ever get out." Hermione yawned widely. "What do you say to going to sleep now?"
"I say that sounds fantastic, but I want a shower first…"
"Oh, good idea…" Hermione yawned again.
They took turns in the adjoining shower, which was hot enough but had disappointingly low water pressure. When Ginny, who had gone last, emerged from the bathroom, she crawled into bed next to Hermione, who was reading a book.
Hermione put her book down and smiled at Ginny, then raised her eyebrows. "What are you wearing?"
"Oh, I made some pajamas out of the extra towel; didn't bring any of my own…why?"
"It's just – did you intend for them to be terrycloth, still?"
"No, I was trying for flannel, but I'm too tired to focus properly…"
"Want me to fix that?" Hermione reached for her wand on the bedside table.
Ginny nodded. She supposed that she should be more nervous than she was about having her pajamas transfigured while she was wearing them, but this was Hermione.
Hermione propped herself up on one elbow and performed a complicated series of flicks with her wand. "That ok?"
"Wow. You – wow. Yes, this is totally ok." Ginny was now clad in a set of rich satin pajamas, which were a deep red with burgundy trim. She snuggled down experimentally, feeling their coo, heavy smoothness against her skin, and confirming her first impression that this was indeed the most comfortable and luxurious thing she had ever worn. She wondered if Hermione had even done this before, or if she had just made up the spell on the spot.
"I think I want to keep this; it's the best set of pajamas I've ever owned. Thanks, Hermione." She grinned.
Hermione was looking quite pleased with herself. "Well, just think of it as your present…I did get you something, but I don't have it with me…I was going to owl it to you tomorrow. It sucks anyway; so if you like these…"
"I love these. It's the perfect present, really; I can't think of anything I'd like more."
Hermione quirked an eyebrow.
"Or maybe I can think of one other thing," she said, looking into Hermione's eyes. It was so easy to get lost in them…
Hermione smiled, as though to say That's what I thought, and leaned in to kiss her, one hand cupping her face and wandering up to run through her hair. Ginny sighed in pleasure and gave herself over to the sensations – rich fabric caressing her body, Hermione's hand caressing her hair and scalp, Hermione's warm lips against hers…
She sighed again when Hermione deepened the kiss. This – everything – was just perfect.
When they parted, Hermione did not move away, but stayed where she was, wrapped around Ginny. It just felt so good to have someone to hold like this, after so long.
Ginny seemed to be reading her thoughts, for the next thing she said was, with a contented sigh. "You have no idea how long I've waited for something like this…"
"No, I really don't," said Hermione, realizing how little she really did know about her friend when it came to Ginny's feelings for her. Until this evening, she had never even suspected that they existed, which just went to show how observant she was…
Ginny took Hermione's hand and laced her fingers through it, watching their motion avidly. "Well, I've liked you pretty much as long as I've known you…" She slowly traced her fingernails up the inside of Hermione's fingers, until their hands were splayed flat against one another. "Look, they're the same size," she noted, of their hands.
"Not quite," said Hermione, and demonstrated that she could bend her fingertips over Ginny's, slightly.
Their hands danced silently for a time, while neither girl spoke.
"But what about Harry?" Hermione started, after a comfortable pause.
"Oh, Harry…I think that I fell out of love with him the moment I met you, only I didn't realize it right away. It took me the longest time to realize it…I should have, third year, with you and Krum…it just made me so angry, for some reason, to think of the two of you together. But I told myself that I was just jealous of you, that you had managed to snag a famous Quidditch star boyfriend without even trying, and I had no one."
Hermione laughed dryly. "Viktor was…not enviable, as boyfriend material. You could have had him, honestly."
Ginny giggled, but continued with her story. "By the end of fourth year, I guess I knew…it just sort of snuck up on me. But I didn't think there was anything I could do about it, I mean, first of all you didn't seem interested, and then Voldemort coming back just threw a wrench in everything."
"Oh, sure, blame Voldemort for your problems. Everything's his fault," Hermione joked.
Ginny punched her in the shoulder. "Come on! Admit it, with the war on, romance was the last thing on your mind."
Hermione thought back. She had known that she was attracted to Ginny at the time, yes, but it was true that that took a back burner to concerns having to do with the war, and Voldemort's return, and almost everything else. "Oh, all right, I guess I used that as an excuse too. It was just so easy not to think of your own problems, with an evil maniac threatening to take over the world as we know it…"
"Though there was that one time, that I almost let it slip…remember? That time in the broom shed?" she asked, trying to prod Hermione's memory.
"Oh…oh!" Hermione hit herself on the forehead. "Oh my god! How could I have not seen it? You were being so obvious…"
"It was the war, remember? You just said that you were totally preoccupied!"
"Well, yeah, in general I was, but that time all I could think about was you, and how different it would be if only you meant what you were saying in another way, and…arg!"
Ginny had to stop her from hitting her forehead again. "Hey, it's not your fault; I was trying to hide my attraction from you."
"Yeah, and I was doing the same thing. This has got to be pretty much the most ironic thing that's ever happened to anyone, in the history of the world. In fact, I think we're the most ironic thing that's ever happened…"
"Indeed." The layers of irony near boggled Ginny's mind when she thought about it. "But we got together in the end, right?" she said, pragmatically.
"You're right; and words cannot express how happy I am that it worked out this way…" Ginny turned and nuzzled her neck and challenged her to express it without words, which she did with much greater success.
That reminded Hermione of the day's charade, which she had almost forgotten in the ensuing events, and she was overcome with curiosity. "How long did you know it was me before you let on, earlier?
Ginny opened her mouth to answer, but instead yawned expansively. "Long time," she managed to get out, before another yawn overtook her. "Funny story though. Tell you tomorrow?"
Hermione found herself yawning, too. "What time is it?" she mumbled, half to herself, and cast a tempus charm. It was four thirty in the morning. "Yeah, you can tell me tomorrow." There was no rush, after all; they had all the time in the world now, to say anything they wanted. There would be tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and the day after that…
"What're you smiling at?" Ginny said, sleepily.
Hermione suppressed another yawn. "Just…us. That we're together. And we'll have all the tomorrows we want."
Ginny smiled, too. "You're so sweet." She kissed Hermione on the cheek and smiled some more. "Thanks for my graduation present, by the way, it was the best ever."
"Oh, it wasn't hard, really –"
But Ginny cut her off. "Not just the pajamas, silly. You, coming today. It's all I could have asked for…"
Hermione didn't have any answer for this, so she just pulled Ginny closer, who obliged by snuggling into her side with a contented sigh. "I do love you, you know," she whispered into Ginny's hair.
Ginny looked half asleep already, but her lips curled into a grin. "Mmmm…love you too, 'mione…night…" And with this she nuzzled still deeper into Hermione's shoulder, and dropped off to sleep at once.
It took Hermione a little longer to fall asleep. She was just so content, and she wanted to savor this moment, simply lying there, holding Ginny in her arms. Her eyes flitted up to Wanda, comatose in her chair across the room, as they fluttered shut. Well, she'd be glad to hold Ginny for as long as it lasts. And then, she would be glad to let her go, if that was what would make her happy…but that day, if it came, was hopefully very far away. And until it did, Hermione felt no need to think about it, and ruin the bliss she felt in this moment.
She smoothed the hair off Ginny's forehead, and just looked at her for a while. She knew her so well, and had known her for so long, but she didn't seem able to tire of looking at her now. She whispered another I love you, and thought that this was something she wouldn't get tired of saying, either. When she drifted off to sleep at last, it was with a smile on her face, and her fingers tangled in Ginny's hair.
Phew!! That's finally done. (Took me long enough!!) Now, on to bigger and better things...
Just because this is complete now doesn't mean I don't care about your opinion...on the contrary, I'd love to know it! And I always reply to reviews :)