Author's Note: AlinaLotus asked for this pairing… probably about a year ago… and I epic phailed. I was going to do something angsty and stupid and sat there with the first two hundred words, doing… nothing. XD

Then I picked it up again, completely started over, and pounded the whole thing out yesterday in one procrastinatory afternoon/evening. I just hope it's not too ridiculous altogether. XD

I definitely had to indulge my lesbianness with this one. Which was kind of fun. Girls are pretty! 8D

Don't ask questions about chronology or OOC-ness, because I will laugh at you. XD Um, lovingly…

Enjoy! XD


"But I'm not into girls."

On second thought… that's a bad place to start. Let's see.

Oh, I know:

"Artists are sexy," Ginny announced.

I raised an eyebrow at her, pointedly. "That's why you're going to date Dean?" I prompted. "Because 'artists are sexy'?"

Ginny rolled her eyes expressively. "That's not the only reason," she responded, slightly fiercely. "He's a very sweet boy—"

"Tasted him already, have you?" I cut in merrily.

"—much nicer than Michael," Ginny continued loudly, "and he values my intelligence."

I gazed innocently at her skirt, which her squirming attempts to get comfortable on the bed had hiked halfway up her thigh, and her partially-unbuttoned shirt. "Intelligence," I repeated. "Right."

Ginny gave me an evil eye that would have made basilisks jealous. "Hermione Granger," she said, "you are a tremendously awful confidante."

My dear, I thought, sighing inwardly, you don't know the half of it.

Harry and Ron were off at the Quidditch Freaks Weekly Meeting (or so we called it; they termed it "practice" or something) the next day, and it was a charmingly balmy January afternoon (or so we insisted; the words were less effective in warding off the cold than we might have hoped), ergo we took ourselves on a little stroll around the grounds.

It was quite pleasant, taking "pleasant" to mean "frostbite-inducing and entirely wretched; damn that sleet to a thousand melty hells."

I glanced at my companion enough that she should have noticed it, but she didn't. There were ice crystals in her hair, the weak sunlight that found its way through the stifling gloom of the clouds making them glint like mad, but her eyes were brighter still. You have my express permission to supply your own poorly-constructed diamond simile here, because I've given up on mine.

Ginny had always been a piece of work, hadn't she? That was nothing new. When she felt things, Ginny Weasley felt them a hundred percent, with everything in her being, like a freight train barreling towards the harrowing realm of Emotional Tyranny. There wasn't space to feel two things at once; any given inclination filled the slot completely, and if it segued to another, the maneuver was one of sudden and complete replacement. She was a perpetual motion machine of the type I'd seen at malls, the type I'd stood staring at until my parents had to take me by the wrist and lead me reluctantly away. She was wild, and true, and vibrant, and alive.

Her cheeks were pink, her hair was red, and she couldn't have understood how I felt if she'd wanted to.

Unfortunately for my feeble sanity, I couldn't take things one emotion at a time. I had good days and bad days, of course, but I had a lot more that were just… muddles. Perhaps that was what came of too much multitasking.

Today, for instance, was a muddle day. I was happy for her, because she was happy, and she was my friend above all else.

I was also obscenely jealous of that little schmuck Dean Thomas, and irrationally piqued at Ginny, because I knew she would never see it.

Such was life.

I watched my breath mist in the air and burrowed a little deeper into my scarlet-and-gold-striped scarf, dreaming of hot cocoa.

"So he asked you to Hogsmeade?" I inquired.

Ginny nodded emphatically. "Very classic."

"Very boring," I corrected. "Wouldn't you expect something more creative? 'Artists are sexy'?"

Ginny shrugged, or seemed to; it was difficult to discern given the half-dozen layers she'd piled on. "Don't try to tell me you're not secretly a hopeless romantic, too," she reprimanded airily. "Besides, it shows that he's nervous, don't you think? He's too scared to suggest something crazy, because he's afraid I'd reject him because of the date idea. Which," she concluded, waving a gloved finger in triumph, "supports my theory that he respects me."

"So it's just a theory now?" I remarked.

I earned another Death Glare for my pains and couldn't help grinning.

"You said it," I reminded her, "not me."

"You're deliberately being contrary," she informed me, as if I didn't know. "As such, I am ignoring your input. Dean is a kind, caring, and considerate young man, and I am going to enjoy my time with him."

There was some comfort to be derived from the fact that she spoke about that 'time' as if it was a limited quantity.

Not that she wouldn't move on to the next boy after that time had elapsed, but it was something.

I had a book in my hands, the better to count the seconds by the words. I'd reread it later and actually try to take it in.

Ginny burst into the Common Room, glowing so brightly that I thought we might need to extinguish her before she set the room on fire.

"I take it you had a tiny bit of fun?" I hazarded.

"Only the most fun anyone's ever had!" she sang in reply, flinging herself down on the couch cushion beside me and then shedding coats and cloaks vehemently in order to yank back her sleeve. "Look at this! He gave me a tattoo!"

Dean had quite the talent, so I wasn't surprised to be impressed by the twining roses, their thorns puncturing the elaborate, Gothic-lettered 'Heartbreaker' inscribed on her inner forearm in what looked like regular black ink.

Smart kid, Dean Thomas. Artists kind of had to be perceptive, didn't they?

"You do know that anyone could have magicked that onto you without any trouble," I noted.

'Anyone,' I thought. Certainly not just 'me.'

"And," I added before she could speak, "that it was an exceedingly obvious ploy to allow him to get his hands all over yours."

Ginny scoffed. "Of course it was," she responded. "But I got a tattoo out of it, so why should I care? Besides, if he decides to try anything, he knows what'll happen."

"Frogs will stream out his nose until he apologizes on bended knee?" I guessed.

Ginny frowned wonderfully. "Actually," she replied, "I was thinking I'd break his fingers. More personal, you know."

"Quite," I agreed.

Better fingers than hearts, eh, Ginny?

She still didn't know the half of it. She probably didn't even know a quarter.

Dean sauntered in, looking radiant.

Was it envy that changed my perception of him? That was going to be tomorrow's topic in the extremely limited Psychology section of the library. I liked confirming things that I already knew; it never failed to validate my sense of self-worth.

"Hey, Gin," he said.

Damn you, Dean Thomas. Reducing her to alcohol. Wouldn't you like to gulp her down like the hungry little glutton that you are—

"Hey, Dean," Ginny returned, a bit of pink touching her cheeks.

Dean smiled, strolled past us, and proceeded up the stairs to the boys' dormitory.

Was it envy that made me want to coax a family of adders into nesting in his bed?

That one did not require research.

"Values your intelligence, does he?" I muttered.

Ginny made a face at me, as if I didn't know I was being petulant. "He must," she retorted, "or he wouldn't be so excited about going out with me when I'm so bundled up that my intelligence is practically the only thing that's visible."

"But he knows what you look like," I countered, "and that's probably what he was imagining."

"Oh, undoubtedly," she replied, wrenchingly unconcerned. "You know, sometimes I get to thinking that girls are the only ones who actually value intelligence." She smiled and shook her head. "But I'm not into girls."

"More's the pity," I said numbly.

Sagely she nodded, and I excused myself and fled.

A week passed, and then two. The winter deepened, and my mood matched it: brittle, dry, and so, so cold. It was an ice-slicked landscape of indistinguishable white shapes, a bleary, snow-blind hide-and-seek game where the prize was another, deeper freeze.

Ginny was acquiring new "tattoos" with increasing frequency. It was difficult to resist the urge to Summon something unpleasant into Dean's drink when his back was turned the day she proudly showed me what he'd written across her knuckles—TRUE LOVE.

Presumptuous little prick. Was PROPERTY OF DEAN THOMAS too long to fit?

I couldn't tell her to push him away, because everything was ostensibly going strikingly well. She came back raving about him, and the two of them traded smiles over the dinner table.

I imagined many petty and uncivilized things that I could do to him, his food, and his reputation, and did none of them.

Break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.

The Hogwarts library needed a self-help section.

"Altering Your Sexuality," Miss Granger? I think you'll find that between "Reevaluating Your Hormones" and "Vituperating Your Rivals in Your Head."

Maybe I just didn't want to think about what parts of her he'd be leaving his mark on next.

Three weeks, two days, and two hours after she'd first told me she was going to start dating Dean Thomas, Ginny was sprawled on her bed again, and I was in the armchair nearby. I loved that she felt like she could be half-undressed with me, like we were so close that it wasn't even uncomfortable, and I hated the fact that I took advantage of it—that I sneaked glances, that I let my imagination run wild. Wasn't that a betrayal of her trust?

Ginny folded her hands behind her head, copper-wire-hair flooding the pillow.

"Dean wants to go to Hogsmeade again this weekend," she reported.

Extra, extra, I thought, the sardonic tone of it weary from overuse.

"You were right, though," she added, glancing at me. "He really hasn't done anything… creative."

I sighed, my breath moist against my arm where I had spread myself on the overstuffed cushions. My overactive brain started filling in answers, and I basked in them. "Like sitting in the Astronomy Tower just to watch the sunset? Or were you thinking breaking into the Thestral stable for a midnight joyride? Or maybe seeing just how much we could stretch the limits of the Room of Requirement; do you think it could become a beach? God, I'm sick of snow."

It took Ginny's cautious smile to make me realize I'd said—or mumbled—all that aloud.

"Er," I concluded. "Theoretically. For Dean."

Since I took so much obvious joy in watching out for Dean Thomas.

Ginny peeled herself from the bed, her disheveled shirt doing nothing to help me forget the things I'd muttered, and crossed the floor to stand over me.

"Hermione," she said.

I blinked up at her. The eyes—those damned, damnable, irresistible eyes, dark like chocolate, warm like it, too—

"Do you like me?"

"Well, Ginny," I deadpanned, "considering how agonizing it is to hold up a conversation with you, I certainly wouldn't say you're my best friend or an—"

"You know very well what I mean," she interjected equably.

Oh, and how.

I looked back at her. Could I lie to her? I had a thousand times before, though not usually so directly as I would need to here. And what good would it do now that she knew the truth, whatever I said?

Here went nothing.

"Yes," I told her, "I do. And have. And will."

"Good," Ginny decided.

She leaned down, cupped my face in two Dean-marked hands, and kissed me—gently, but with that Ginny sort of fire that permeated everything she did.

I was too surprised to close my eyes.

She drew back. I stared. She smiled tentatively. I stared some more.

"Well?" she asked at last.

"I thought you weren't into girls," I managed unsteadily.

Ginny shook her head mournfully.

"What?" I said.

"I am a girl, Hermione," she responded. "And you're a girl, so you should know better. Talking about stuff like that—when do we ever mean what we say?"

It had started to sink in, and I was starting to grin. It almost hurt to smile that hard, but I couldn't stop myself.

"Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?" I asked.

Ginny considered. "I can," she answered slowly, "on one condition."

I raised both hands, grasped her collar with one, twined the other in her hair, and used both to pull her to me again, the better to seal her mouth with mine.

A few warm moments later, we separated once more.

"Was that the condition?" I inquired.

Innocently, Ginny beamed. "I'm not sure," she decided. "Maybe we should try it again so I can figure it out."

Yeah, artists are sexy.

But so are the rest of us.