On the Fourteenth of February
A Harry Potter fic by Andrew yclept Aelfwine
The characters and situations of the Harry Potter series are copyright J.K. Rowling. They may not be used or reproduced commercially without permission. The use of these characters and situations is not to be construed as challenge to said copyright. They are merely borrowed for this work of non-commercial fanfiction, from which the author derives no financial benefit.
SS. Cyril and Methodius Day Fic, concentrating on the friendship between our Nargles and Hermione.
PG-13 (mostly for language and mild sexual references); 3300 words
DH (minus Epilogue) compatible
Het warning, femmeslash warning, poly warning, Ron having been a git warning, lack of explicit content warning, Cyrillic letter-shaped chocolates warning, some mention of that other holiday on the fourteenth of February warning, yours truly warning
Harry/Ginny/Luna, past Ron/Hermione implied, Lavender Brown/unnamed female implied
Hermione had almost convinced herself it was still January. Or perhaps that it was already the last week of February. She'd poured herself into work every day since practically the New Year, staying at her desk long after her staff had left for home, usually until the free Elf who cleaned her office asked if Miss Undersecretary 'Mione would mind terribly stepping outside so Winnie could clean the carpets proper-like.
Outside of work, she'd written a pair of short articles for the popular press, and more than half finished revising her thesis for publication in the Journal of Magical Atlantic Studies. She'd re-read all of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin novels, and knitted enough scarves to supply her gift-giving needs for at least the next two Christmases. She'd worked herself to the point that she fell asleep as soon as she fell into bed and slept dreamless till morning.
The fact that she always woke clutching her pillow didn't mean she was missing Ron. He'd been awful to sleep with, in truth, always stealing the covers and oft as not rolling away from her. When she thought about it, she was certain he'd only slept with her because it was the quid pro quo for shagging her. She was sure he'd been truthful when he told her he'd never slept with another woman--he'd probably run away from every one of the slags as soon as the deed was done, to have another drink with his bloody teammates or smoke another fag or find another tart.
It had been nearly a year since they'd broken their engagement. She didn't care. She truly didn't care. St. Valentine's Day was something that didn't exist in Hermione's world. All the displays of hearts and flowers and chocolates were things from some other planet, and meant no more to her than the signs in Klingon and Sindarin that an American witch who'd lived on the same staircase at Oxford one year had sometimes hung on her door.
But then came the day. The fourteenth on the calendar in the second month of the year. She got through the day, bid her assistant a courteous good night, ignored the sounds of laughter and kisses when his boyfriend and girlfriend ambushed him in the corridor, sat back down at her desk with a stack of reports from Muggle Affairs' liaison with the Aurors... and promptly broke down sobbing.
"Excuse me, Hermione," a voice said softly, at about the point that she'd run out of tears.
"Oh. Luna. I'm sorry." I can't believe I left the door open, she thought.
"I think that's my line, actually, Hermione. I'm afraid I walked through your wall without thinking."
Hermione looked up, blinking. Her best friend's fiancée was kneeling beside her chair and offering her a polka-dotted handkerchief. "Thank you. Err... don't you mean you walked through my door?"
"Actually," Luna said, "I was testing an artefact that was brought into the Department of Mysteries at the weekend." She held up a silver arm ring, gripping it gently between her thumb and forefinger.
"What is it?"
"A metal-detectorist found it, and turned it in to the Muggle authorities as treasure trove; the Obliviators altered his memory just slightly, and put a pair of Henry VIII's crown of the rose coins in its place, which I'm sure he'll like better. It's early Anglo-Saxon, I think, and an unusually sophisticated bit of work for the time; I've a friend who lectures in Magical Archaeology at Oxford who's going to be simply delighted... but apparently this is what it does."
"This?" Hermione dabbed at her eyes. She vaguely supposed she should be angry for being walked in on, but... it was hard to be angry at Luna. It was even hard to be embarrassed around Luna.
"I'd done the standard diagnostic charms, and knew it was safe, so I thought it was time to put it on and test it. And I suppose I was thinking that Ginevra and I meant to ask you to join us this evening, but I'd not seen you in the canteen at lunch, and that I should stop by your office directly I was done, and... well, here I am.
"So... do you want to talk? I'm not sure I'm very good at these things, but..."
"Luna, I..." and she was crying again. This time on Luna's shoulder. Which, strangely enough, seemed to help.
"I'm sorry," she said, once she was able.
"You keep saying that, Hermione, and you shouldn't. I'm sorry. I... you deserved much better. And you'll have it, some day, I'm sure. But for now... would you like to join us?"
"Luna, thank you. That's very kind. But... it's Val... It's a special day. You shouldn't let me come between you and Harry and Ginny, even if you all of you want to make me feel better."
"Harry's still working on that case in South Africa, Hermione. He'll not be back for another three days, and the three of us will observe Saint Valentine's Day then. So, Ginevra and I aren't celebrating Saint Valentine's Day tonight, we're celebrating Saints Cyril and Methodius Day."
"Oh. But you're... I mean, it's not just that you and Ginny are both engaged to Harry, it's that... you and Ginny are together as well, right?"
"Well, I'm here, and Ginevra's in her office at the Prophet right now, since the season's not started yet... Oh, I'm sorry, you're asking if Ginevra and I have sex with each other, as well as with Harry? Because of course we do, although I suppose it's not quite the same sort of sex, much of it, but it is perfectly lovely, and every bit as much fun, and we certainly don't refrain from having sex just because Harry's not there to enjoy it with us, but... why are you blushing, Hermione?"
"Because... oh, never mind. I just don't want to stop the two of you having a lovely romantic evening together because you feel sorry for me."
"But Saints Cyril and Methodius Day isn't a romantic holiday, Hermione. It's about two holy brothers who made an alphabet so that Slavic people could write in their own language. That's why we celebrate it when Harry isn't there to be with us for Saint Valentine's Day. And why we'd like you to celebrate it with us."
"So... what do you do for Saints Cyril and Methodius Day?"
"Well... we went to Mass this morning, but we know you're not really very religious so we didn't ask you. I'm sorry if you would've liked to have gone, although there wasn't really anything special-- Saint Dunstan's isn't Eastern Rite, you know. But we'll have a plum brandy after work, and we'll go to a Russian café for dinner and then to a concert by a Slavic women's chorus, and we have an extra ticket that we can't use so we'd be very grateful if you'd come with us. And for afterwards we've still got more than half of this huge box of chocolates shaped like Cyrillic letters that one of Harry's friends from that magical Cossack community that he helped with their Dark Lord problem last year gave us, and I certainly can't eat that much chocolate and Ginevra shouldn't and Harry won't, so we'd be very grateful if you'd help us finish it off. Please?"
Hermione had nearly forgot how oddly cheering Luna could be, with her random segués and her way of offering a coffee or a meal or even a backrub as if she were asking a very great favour, rather than doing one. Well, it was good to be reminded that, even if one didn't have a fiancé anymore, one still had friends, and very good ones. "Since you put it that way, I suppose I can't say no, can I?"
"You can, of course, but... I think Ginevra would be sad if you did. I know I would be."
"And we can't have that. Thank you very much, Luna. I'll be delighted to join you."
And it was a delight. Plum brandy was followed by strange yet delicious food which was followed by a dozen pretty girls with clear high voices who sang of village weddings and long-lost battles in odd, compelling harmonies. Luna and Ginny were cheerful and... comfortable. They didn't refrain from touching each other, but they also didn't hang onto each other at every moment, the way some couples did. The way, Hermione was sad to admit to herself, she and Ron had done.
Now they were sitting on the sofa opposite her armchair, in the delightful sitting room that Harry and Kreacher had made of what had been a particularly nasty drawing room in Grimmauld place. Their arms were about each other, but it didn't make Hermione feel lonely or out of place, the way that Lavender Brown and her latest girlfriend had done, despite their best efforts, when Lavender invited her out for drinks a fortnight after the final breakup with Ron, or the way she'd felt last month when she stopped into the Three Broomsticks for a pick-me-up after a particularly exhausting meeting with a group of Muggleborns' parents who wanted to know why she still hadn't found a way to bring the Internet to Hogwarts and found it full of Seventh Years, all of them apparently in couples.
On the table between them were a samovar, three little glasses of tea, and a huge box of chocolates, all of them shaped like Cyrillic letters. "Do have another Dzhe, Hermione," Luna said. "Or maybe an Er?"
"I couldn't eat another bite," she said, "not even a lowercase Ge. No offense to your hospitality, but I'm stuffed."
"None taken," Ginny said, "but you need it. I don't think you've been eating properly, Hermione."
"I... all right, perhaps I have forgotten a meal or too."
"Well, no more of that. We'll have you round for dinner on a regular basis. I'm not much for cookery, but Luna's very good and Harry's better. And Kreacher, of course, is splendid."
"Of course we needn't. But we'd wish to. Hermione... you have no concept how dear you are to us. To all of us. You're Harry's best friend. You've always been so kind to Luna and to me."
"Even when you thought I was mad," Luna said, with a tiny grin.
"But Ron's Harry's best mate. I... I don't want to make things awkward for him."
"It's not my place to tell you more of it, Hermione, but Harry's not best pleased with my brother. And neither am I. It's not only because he was an idiot and horrible to you, although that is a fair portion of it. And I'm not only saying that because I want to comfort you. I'll swear to it on my magic, if you like."
"I... that's all right. Thank you, Ginny. I believe you."
"I had a crush on Ronald, when I was little," Luna said. "I can forgive him not knowing what to do. Harry didn't know what to do about Ginevra, either. But Ronald was... less than kind, sometimes. I'm sorry he wasn't better to you."
She tried to say it was all right. But she couldn't. And somehow, in the process of trying to say something, she ended up crying again. And somehow, in the process of that, she ended up on the sofa, held between Luna and Ginny. Which was nice. Not sexually nice, of course, but very nice. A hugging-Harry level of nice. Which was about as nice as nice got, really.
"I'm sorry," she said, when she was cried out and Ginny was wiping her eyes for her whilst Luna gently kneaded her shoulders.
"You keep saying that, Hermione," Luna said. "You mustn't be."
"Err... thank you?"
"That's much better," Ginny said. "You're welcome." For a long moment, the three of them simply sat together on the sofa, arms about each others' shoulders.
The clock chimed. "My goodness," Hermione said, "it must be one o'clock. I should Floo home and let you two go to bed."
"There's no need for that, Hermione," Ginny said. "We've got more than enough guest rooms."
"But... there's no need. Besides, don't we all need to be places in the morning?"
"It's Saturday, Hermione, remember? The Department of Muggle Affairs is not going to collapse because Undersecretary Granger doesn't come in for no good reason on a day when nobody else is in the Ministry but House Elves and my brother Percy."
"Oh. Right. But... I should leave you two some privacy, really."
"We have all the privacy we could want, Hermione," Ginny said. "It's not as if you'd be sleeping in our bed with us. Although..." she looked at Luna, and Hermione sensed a silent question passing between them.
"Actually," Luna said, "you'd be welcome to join us, if you'd like. It's a bit big of a bed for only two people... really, it's a bit big for only three people. Kreacher got it out of storage, somewhere, and... well, I gather there was a Lord Black who had four wives, back in the day. Or maybe it was two wives, a 'pet' Veela, and a male... bosom friend, I think that was what they called them back then. I'm sorry, but I get all these ancestors so very confused, except the ones I've met, and even them, sometimes... Anyhow, it's a lovely, lovely bed, and very comfortable."
"And we'll have a good fry-up in the morning," Ginny said. "Luna's got cousins in Ireland who make the best black and white puddings you've ever had, and Kreacher's marmalade is better than my Mum's. We make him take the day off, of course, but even I can fry sausages and bacon and pudding, and Luna does the eggs."
Hermione knew she was blushing bright crimson. "Err... thank you, but... I couldn't."
"Ginevra and I don't have to make love tonight, Hermione. We had such a very wonderful time in the morning that we were almost late to Mass, so really, you needn't worry about being in the way. If you like, we'll even wear pyjamas, so you'll not feel embarrassed. And you and I are just about of a height, so I'm sure you could wear a pair of mine without any trouble."
Oh merciful Heavens, Hermione thought. I am not seriously considering taking them up on this.
It wasn't that she missed sex--there were plenty of projects to distract herself with, and when the longing for physical relief became too overwhelming she had the little collection of surprisingly effective spells that were passed from girl to girl on faded bits of parchment, with much giggling and whispering, roundabouts Third Year. It wasn't even that she missed cuddling.
But the closeness, the sense of a person--a human being, not Crookshanks--nearby, the sense that one wasn't alone in the dark night, that she missed quite horribly. There had been times she'd found herself longing for the weeks of herself and Harry in the tent, in the winter after Ron had left them. There'd been fear and worry and the constant awfulness of the Horcrux... but there'd also been moments of surprising peace, and nights when the sound of Harry's soft breathing, only a few feet away, seemed as soothing as the memory of her mother's lullabies. She'd nearly crawled into his bunk a dozen times, with only the fear that he'd mistake her meaning, and think she wanted something more than warmth and closeness, stopping her. And a dozen times she'd heard his footsteps in the night, and lain pretending to sleep, hoping and fearing and fearing and hoping... for no result, of course.
The thought of lying in bed, with Ginny and Luna a warm, pyjama-clad presence an arm's length away... that was too much like what she'd wished for with Harry, then. And, of course, if Harry got done early in South Africa, and came home in the night, and didn't want to wake his fiancées and simply crawled into bed without noticing they weren't alone... well, then, I'd have what I wanted back then, and with Luna and Ginny besides. No pressure, nobody thinking sleeping beside me was just the price he had to pay for a shag, only simple friendly comfort and kindness.
And that was dangerous. It was too close to using her friends. The next step might be... anything.
"Truly... I can't. Crookshanks will wonder what's wrong if I don't come home. And what if Harry comes home early?"
"I'm sure he'd be too tired to have sex, Hermione," Luna said. "You'd not be in the way at all."
"That's all right, really."
"As you wish, Hermione," Ginny said, "but we hope you'll at least Floo round for breakfast when you wake up in the morning."
"I wouldn't want to be any trouble."
"You'll not be," Luna said, and hugged her once more. A heartbeat's pause, and she kissed Hermione softly on her forehead. "Hermione is never trouble."
Ginny stretched herself slightly and pressed a kiss to the same spot. "At least not in a bad sense. And certainly not when she's eating breakfast."
The fire flared up. "Hullo," a familiar voice said. "I'm home, my loves."
"Harry!" two voices squealed. Moments later, dressed in a battered leather jacket, Harry Potter stood on the hearth, his fiancées' arms tight around him. For a moment, Hermione wished she could add herself to the clinch.
Instead, she waited politely for the initial flurry of greetings to die down, and said "Hullo, Harry. Happy Saints Cyril and Methodius Day."
"Hullo, Hermione. Happy Saints Cyril and Methodius Day to you as well." Her best friend grinned at her. "So, you've been celebrating with Ginny and Luna, have you? Thank you for keeping them company."
"Thank you, Harry."
"For... for being Harry." Ginny and Luna had let go of him, mostly, and now she did hug him. Harry hugs were still just as nice as Ginny and Luna hugs. Good, said a little voice in the back of her head. We now know that you're only turning into a bisexual, not a lesbian. She told it to stifle itself. "So," she said, releasing him, "I'll let you go now."
"Do I smell that terrible?" he said. "I thought I'd got a shower between coming in off the veldt and catching my Portkey back to Auror Headquarters, but God knows I'm tired enough to have only imagined it."
"No, you prat," she said, laughing.
"You don't have to go home, Hermione," he said. "We've plenty of guest rooms."
"Luna and Ginny said the same thing. Truly... Crookshanks will miss me."
"And we can't have that," Harry said. "Tell Crooks hullo from me, would you?"
"But you will come round for breakfast tomorrow?" Luna said.
"If you're sure I'll not be a bother."
"Of course you'll not be," Harry said.
"You're never a bother," Luna said. "Even if it does mean we have to wear clothes down to the breakfast table."
"Well... don't trouble yourselves on my account," she said, with a wink. Harry and Ginny blushed rather nicely.
"It's no trouble," Luna said. "But if you're sure you don't mind..."
"As you wish," Hermione said. And, laughing, she made her final goodbyes and stepped through the Floo and into her own sitting room.
Crookshanks yowled at her. "I love you as well, Crooks," she said, and he rubbed himself against her ankles. "Happy Saints Cyril and Methodius day."
Here endeþ ðe fic.
So, is this a Flaming Nargles and Hermione friendship fic with hints of one-sided UST, or is it a pre-foursome fic? I truly don't know.
Friday 14 February 2003 may seem a bit early for Hermione to already be a department undersecretary, but I'm assuming that the Ministry is still fairly desperate for good people. And being one of the heroines of the Second Voldemort War probably doesn't hurt, either.
The Slavic women's chorus is very loosely patterned on Svitanya, who are a brilliant ensemble out of the Philadelphia area.