Title: Live [How Do I?]
Pairing: Hermione/Ginny, Harry/Malfoy
Summary: Ginny is set up on a blind date and runs into the one person she least expects
Disclaimers: I don't own anything but the idea for this story.
Song: Title derived from How Do I Live? By LeAnn Rimes
Author's Notes: I haven't written a Harry Potter story in over five years, and needless to say it wasn't the best attempt I could have made. After going back and re-reading it, I'm not happy with it, but I've chosen to leave it where it is because I hope that it'll show how I have (hopefully) improved in my writing and organization and things like that.
The story is actually not meant to be taken seriously. I'm writing a couple of one-shots to see if I can gain some Harry Potter sea legs. I figure if you guys like, I'll move to multi-chapter stories.
Let me know what you think!
"A blind date?"
"You want me to go on a blind date?"
"Have you gone mental, Harry? No, I absolutely will not go on a blind date!"
Harry's exasperated sigh bounced off of the walls of Ginny's kitchen.
"Don't do that," Ginny chided in annoyance.
"Don't do what?" False innocence rang in his quiet voice.
Ginny rolled her eyes and turned away from the steely smirk that she just knew Harry had learned from Draco. She was not in the mood for Harry's mind games at the moment. She opened the refrigerator and peered in, hoping to find her future lunch. "I'm not going on a blind date," she said to a jar of mayonnaise.
Harry chuckled behind her. "That's cute," he cooed. He pushed his now empty plate to the side and leaned forward onto his elbows. Ginny slammed the refrigerator door and whipped around to face him. His smirk turned into a devilish smile and Ginny narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
"What's cute?" Her question was posed cautiously, as she was almost afraid of his answer. Harry stood and carried his plate to the sink. Ginny watched his every move as he washed the dish, set it in the drainer, and leaned backwards against the counter, his ankles crossed in front of him. "Harry…"
He smirked again. "It's cute that you think you actually have a choice."
Ginny crossed her arms in defiance. Harry wasn't Arthur Weasley. He could not tell her what to do and when she could do it. "I am nineteen-years-old! I will do whatever I bloody well please!" She stamped her foot. "You are not my father."
Harry's face softened and, when he spoke, his voice was no longer mocking. "Ginny, you haven't dated since-"
"That's not true," Ginny challenged. Tears filled her eyes as the memories filled her brain. "I dated Luna!" Harry raised his eyebrows. "Oh shut up. It's not her fault she grew up believing in wrackspurts and horklumps and things like that."
"Ginny," Harry tried again. "All you do is work and sleep. You're not happy and everyone can see it. Ron and I are worried about you. And, Draco won't admit it, but so is he."
Ginny's shoulders fell in defeat. Harry was right. She was absolutely miserable, and had been for quite some time. She blinked a few times before nodding. "You're right." The smirk was there again. "You bloody git." Harry shrugged. "So what's her name?"
The green-eyed man shrugged again. "She's a friend of Ron's. But he said you'd be able to recognize her pretty easily."
Ginny could tell that he was lying.
But she was in no mood to argue.
Ginny tugged at the collar of her sweater nervously. Harry had insisted that dressing up would be too much. "Jeans and a sweater will do just fine," he'd said, picking out the dark jeans and blue hooded sweater Ginny now donned.
Harry had made reservations at a small café just down the street from Ginny's flat. Its close proximity benefited Ginny no matter the situation of the date, Harry had said.
Ginny drummed her fingers anxiously on the table. She hadn't been able to squeeze any useful information out of Harry (read: whether her date was a muggle or a witch). Quite frankly, Ginny didn't think she could go through the stress of telling a muggle about the magical world. She sighed and checked her watch again. Her date was scheduled for around six o'clock, so she had about fifteen minutes to wait around for her date.
The red-head's eyes drifted around the restaurant aimlessly, still questioning her decision to accept this date. Was she even ready? She was crazy, she was. That had to be it, because every time she even thought the word "date" her heart ached.
She could still hear her voice.
Ginny closed her eyes, remembering. She could still smell her fear. Taste her dread, her heartache.
"We can't do this…"
Ginny subconsciously nodded, copying her actions from that night. She'd been so agreeable, so understanding. She swallowed hard. If she'd fought harder, been more stubborn, she might have saved herself three awful years of pain.
"Not while there's a war. I don't want you mixed up in the fighting. Not yet. You're meant for greater things at the moment, Ginny. You need to live…your time to fight hasn't come yet."
"And yours has?" Ginny whispered the words to herself exactly as she'd said them that night.
"Yes." And she'd kissed Ginny with all of the passion the red-head knew she could muster. Then she'd turned and fled, following Harry Ron and leaving Ginny to grieve for her brothers, her love, and the loss of her protection.
The only thing that got her through was listening to Potterwatch 24/7, praying that she was ok. That they were all ok.
Ginny opened her eyes and rested her chin in her hand. She'd been able to hold herself together until the war was over, just like she'd wanted. Then she'd told Ginny that they couldn't be together. "Not yet."
"Let me guess," Ginny had said. "We're meant for greater things?"
Hermione had frowned and shook her head, her nearly tamed locks bouncing. "You need to live," She'd repeated.
Ginny played with her napkin, wishing she'd been able to say that she had, in fact, lived a little. She'd tried dating, but after two "dates" of helping Luna hunt for the creatures that only existed in her head (and getting attacked by a rather large gang of rogue gnomes), Ginny had been forced to swear off dating.
Ginny caught a glimpse of her watch as she heard her date sit down. This girl was ten minutes late. Ginny looked up angrily.
Blue eyes met brown and Ginny gasped.
Ginny felt her face blanch before becoming unbearably hot, and she had to swallow several times before she felt her voice would work correctly. "Hello, Hermione."
The other witch smiled kindly at her while Ginny took in her appearance. The shy, closed-in girl that she'd known and had fallen in love with was no more. Sitting in front of her (where Ginny thought a sixteen-year-old girl should have been sitting) was a beautiful woman who had turned many heads with her entrance. The hair that Ginny had so loved to run her fingers through in a vain effort to tame was now completely straight and devoid of tangles and bushiness and was a darker shade than Ginny remembered it being. She was wearing hoop earrings that nearly touched her shoulders and her red and yellow top hugged her torso beautifully.
Hermione leaned forward onto her elbows. "How've you been, Gin?
"Never better," she lied, forcing away the urge to lay all of her broken-heart cars on the table. Hermione didn't deserve to see the pain that she had so eagerly caused.
Hermione's smile faltered a bit and she leaned back in her chair lazily, her hands falling to her lap. "I'm glad."
Ginny watched Hermione as her gaze fell to her hands. Those perfectly calloused hands that used to know Ginny so well.
She'd imagined this meeting so many times before, playing out different scenarios and outcomes and mulling which of her creations she liked the best. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they laughed, but mostly Ginny ended up talking until her tongue was numb and her heart was finally light.
Now, sitting in front of Hermione, nearly dumbstruck, she felt her tongue thick and her heart heavy as lead and she couldn't say anything.
"I miss you," she suddenly blurted out. Many sleepless nights of telling herself that she would not give in first, she would not break…and here she was, breaking after only four sentences were exchanged. "I mean-"
"I miss you, too." Hermione shrugged like it was really no big deal. Ginny nodded and gulped at the water in her glass. She tried to look anywhere but at her former lover. "So, what now?"
"What do you mean?" Ginny asked, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. She didn't need to use her manners in front of this woman.
"Well," Hermione mused, rubbing her chin. "We've pretty much skipped most pleasantries, haven't we? We said what needed to be said. So what do we do now?"
Ginny cocked her head to the side. "That's…odd. You used to know just the right thing to say or do in a pickle."
Hermione snorted. "You were always a different kind of pickle, Gin."
Ginny shrugged carelessly. "Yeah, well…in any case, not everything has been said, Hermione."
Before Hermione could answer her, the waiter came around to take their orders. "'Ello, ladies," he greeted cheerfully. "Are we ready to order?"
Ginny stood. "Nothing for me, thanks." She slipped him a tip for his troubles and whispered – loud enough for Hermione to hear – "Company's shit." Then she stormed out.
That night, Ginny inexplicably slept peacefully. She guessed it was because the anxiety of her impending reunion with Hermione had finally been lifted, erasing all possible scenarios from her mind. So it hadn't gone exactly as she had wanted it o, but there were some things you just couldn't change.
After waking, feeling more refreshed than she had in years, she apparated angrily to Harry and Draco's. Draco was sitting on the couch reading the Daily Prophet, and he didn't even bat an eyelash when she appeared. He smiled kindly at her – something she still wasn't used to – and told her that Harry was, of course, in the kitchen.
"'ello, 'inny," he greeted around a mouthful of food when she stalked in. "'ow wush the 'ate?"
"You stupid git," Ginny said, smacking him the back of the head. "What do you think you're playing at?"
Harry rubbed his head and swallowed his food. "I'm guessing you didn't like our surprise?"
"No I didn't."
Harry whistled. "Bloody hell, I knew you hated her, but-"
"Well I don't hate her-"
"Oh, well that's good because I know she's always had a little bit of a crush on you and-"
"Well I'd hope so, considering we dated-"
"Wait…you dated her?"
"Duh, for almost two years…you knew that, Harry."
Harry chewed a piece of bacon as Ginny stared him down. "I don't remember that, honestly." Ginny gaped at him. "I only remember you hating her guts and planning her death with your mum and Her-"
"Wait, wait," Ginny commanded loudly. She held her hands out in front of her for emphasis as Draco, who heard everything from the den, entered the room. "Are we even talking about the same thing?"
Harry opened his mouth to answer, but it was Draco who spoke. "I'm guessing last nights plans went a bit…astray?"
"Obviously," Harry and Ginny muttered together. Ginny leaned forward.
"Who did you set me up with, Harry?"
"Fleur Delacour," Draco answered, snagging a piece of bacon from Harry's plate. "Harry told you he didn't know who Ron set you up with because he knew the two of you disliked each other."
Ginny sat motionless. Her encounter with Hermione had been by chance, but Ginny wasn't sure whether that was comforting or unsettling. Harry elbowed Draco in the stomach and leaned forward to take Ginny's hands. "Who were you talking about?"
"Granger, obviously," Draco said, rubbing his bellybutton where Harry had hit him. "Granger showed up instead of Delacour…right?" He asked Ginny.
"How did you figure that out?" Harry asked. Draco merely shrugged, muttered something about being smarter than most, and fled the kitchen.
Ginny nodded numbly. "Imagine my surprise, y'know?
"Did Fleur even show up?" Harry asked. He ran a hand through his unkempt hair. He knew Hermione lived close (the Golden Trio was, of course, still the Golden Trio), but he didn't think she'd show up, much less approach Ginny so boldly. Then again, she had changed quite a bit.
And, while he thought that Hermione leaving Ginny so abruptly was in no way right, he knew she was only thinking the best for Ginny in the long run.
Ginny stood and took a plate from the cabinet. "I don't know." She began to load the plate with the breakfast foods still on the stove. "I left almost right away. I…had a slip of the tongue and said that I miss her. She said she misses me too…and it threw me for a loop. I froze and couldn't think of anything. So I walked out."
Then, Harry began to laugh. He laughed so hard, that even Ginny's death glare couldn't quell him. "I'm sorry, Gin," he said through his laughter. "I'm just trying to imagine what Fleur's face would have looked like if she'd actually shown up on time!"
Ginny couldn't help but smile at the thought. Fleur would have had a heart attack when she found out that she was being set up with Ginny Weasley, her ex's younger sister, past crush or not. And, to top it off, Fleur was probably seething as they spoke because her date hadn't shown up.
"Look," Harry finally said as he could feel the tension in the room ease. "I know you and I can tell that you're upset. And you know just as well as I do that you're upset because you walked out on her. Right?" Ginny rolled her eyes, but nodded. "There's Floo powder in the den. Knock yourself out."
Ginny glanced into the den where Draco had retreated to read the rest of the Daily Prophet. "Are you sure?" Harry nodded and Ginny pushed up from her seat. She entered the den and waved at Draco.
Draco looked up from his paper and smiled at her. "Good luck, Weasley. Give Granger my best." Old habits were hard to break, but Ginny didn't mind much.
She blew Draco a kiss in thanks and faced the fireplace that was large enough for her to stand in without bending down. She reached into the black kettle and pulled out a handful of powder. Before throwing it around herself, Ginny said, very clearly, "Hermione Granger's flat."
Soap and soot. In Ginny's humble opinion, it was not the best aromatic combination.
The red head stood, brushed the soot from her face, and rubbed her sore bottom, which had taken the brunt of her entrance.
She looked around in wonder while she brushed her arms off. Hermione's flat was really no bigger than her own. But - in true Hermione Granger fashion - the walls of her den were fixed with floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Ginny took it upon herself to look over the numerous books (she heard the distant sounds of Hermione's shower, the source of the soap smell, and figured she'd be waiting a while). Some of the titles were familiar to Ginny, such as Hogwarts, A History and Curses and Countercurses. Then there were those she'd never heard of, like The Great Gatsby, Little Women, and The Ultimate Collection of William Shakespeare. And then there were books that Ginny would have never in a million years imagined Hermione having.
Ginny couldn't help but stare at the large black spine that donned Quidditch Through The Ages in bright silver letters. While Hermione didn't necessarily hate Quidditch, she was in no way the sports type of girl, and Ginny never thought she'd be interested enough to read the book.
The youngest Weasley was so enthralled by Hermione's collection that she didn't hear the shower switch off. "I thought that obnoxious noise might have been you."
Ginny jumped and spun around. "Hermione! I, uh…I was just-"
Hermione smirked. "Don't hurt yourself love."
Ginny snapped her mouth shut, her face turning a healthy shade of red. "I was just wondering why you had Quidditch Through The Ages. I didn't think that would be something…" She trailed off.
Hermione ruffled her own hair and scrunched up her nose (Ginny thought it was the most adorable thing she'd ever seen). "I actually took lessons. I just figured…why not? So I went to Diagon Alley, bought a broom…and got Harry and Ron to give me lessons."
Ginny was slightly offended (she'd offered on several occasions to give Hermione Quidditch lessons, but Hermione had always refused, thinking the game silly), but she smirked anyway. "Are you any good?"
Hermione shrugged. "You'll have to ask Harry and Ron."
"What position did they have you playing?"
"Beater," Hermione said. "But we tried chaser, seeker, and keeper, too…just to see what I was best at. I liked beater best, so I stuck with it."
Ginny nodded approvingly. Looking at Hermione now, she could almost see the Fred and George in her, with the smirk she was wearing. "Awesome."
"Ron thinks so, too." Then it was silent. Ginny wondered what had happened to the Hermione she used to know. The Hermione she knew wasn't spontaneous. She didn't just decide that it would be "fun" to do something and then run out and do it. That was Harry and Ron. She guessed three years could do a lot to change a person. "I had a feeling that you would stop by sometime, Gin."
Ginny scoffed and crossed her arms, but the only thing she could think to say was, "Did you now?" Hermione nodded. "You must think you know me pretty well…"
Hermione dropped her head to her hands, her wet hair covering her face. For a moment, Ginny thought she was crying. Then, her body began to shake, and Ginny knew - Hermione was laughing at her. Ginny watched the brunette as she had her moment. Hermione's hair was still straight (Ginny wondered if she had charmed it), but now she wore nothing more than volleyball shorts and a tank top, leaving little to the imagination. "Yes, Ginny," Hermione said, finally lifting her face to look at Ginny. Her face was ablaze with a full, joyous smile. "I am fairly certain that I do, in fact, know you very well."
Ginny helped her self to a seat on the couch. "What's got you so cocky?" She asked, not caring how rude she sounded. Her eyes briefly scanned Hermione's body for emphasis (Ginny tried to convince herself that this was the only reason she did so).
Hermione's smirk was back again. She padded to the kitchen. "Do you want anything?" She began pulling cups from the cupboard. She didn't wait for an answer - Ginny didn't think that she had really expected one - before she began filling the cups with tea from the stove and brought them to the den. Ginny didn't touch the cup that Hermione set on the table in front of her.
"You didn't answer my question," she said as Hermione sat down. "What has made you so bloody cocky? I mean you were always a know-it-all, but no offense, you're kind of acting like Draco used to…" Ginny trailed off, knowing that, if she went too far down that road, she wouldn't come back alive.
Hermione, who Ginny had expected to argue, surprised Ginny but simply shrugging. "I'm not cocky. I've just lived."
Red flooded Ginny's vision and she didn't think that she could be any angrier with Hermione than she was right now. Hermione had just taken the last three years - the pain, the hurt - and thrown them in Ginny's face like the red head's companionship had never really mattered. In that moment, she felt like that little 12-year-old girl who had swooned and pined after Hermione for almost three years - foolish. "How dare you," she challenged quietly. "How could you be so…so cruel?"
"Cruel?" Hermione asked incredulously. Ginny stood and Hermione followed suit. The red head had to force her eyes away from those legs that she used to love. "What do you mean, cruel, Ginny?"
Ginny took a deep breath, preparing to unleash the tidal wave of emotions onto the woman that had caused them. "You don't see it, do you? You don't see how you were wrong at all? Bloody hell, Hermione…you used to be brilliant! You broke up with me before you went off to initiate the war. You left me, knowing that I would have, could have tagged along. I could have been a big help. And at least we would have had each other. But I was ok, because there was the unspoken promise that we could be together again, after the war. I hung onto that promise, Hermione. It was the only thing that got me through the war.
"When it was all over, and you told me that we couldn't be together…I wished I had died. I would have rather died by Bellatrix's hands than hear you say those words to me." "Hermione's shoulders slumped and the smug look fell off of her face and, for a moment, Ginny felt triumphant. "Then…you show back up…and well it looks like you've just been living the high life. Life is a party, is it?"
"I'm not finished!" Ginny bellowed. "Do you realize what my life has been like for the past three years? I've done nothing but eat, work, and sleep. I couldn't 'live.' But it looks like you did. Bloody hell…" Ginny's eyes finally roamed freely over Hermione's body and she was pleased when the 21-year-old subtly tried to cover her body. "It looks like you've lived enough for both of us."
They stood in silence. Ginny's breathing finally evened from its erratic, adrenaline-fueled pace. "Books," Hermione finally whispered. "They were all I knew. When I said that I had lived…I meant that I stopped living my entire life with my nose in books. When I get bored, instead of reading a book, I go for a walk, I jog in the park. I left most of my bookish mannerisms behind and I opened up and Ginny…it's amazing. I feel free. I've made more friends and…I've lived. It had nothing to do with breaking up with you, because, in all honesty, you made me better. You made me want to loosen up. You were so free…you had a contagious energy that I just couldn't deny. But, Ginny you were sixteen. You didn't deserve to be tied down t one person your entire life. You were a teenager who needed to date and be the free spirit that you were."
Ginny, feeling more comfortable now that she had spoken her piece, stepped forward. She bit her lip and looked Hermione in the eye. "Then why didn't you want to play Quidditch with me?"
Hermione's frown instantly turned into a smile and she laughed. "I said you made me want to be free. That didn't mean I was ready."
"You know," Ginny said. "I wasn't tied down, 'Mione. There is a difference between 'tied down' and 'tied to.' Tied down is when you're in a relationship that you're not happy with…but don't want to leave. Tied to is when…when you find one person. One person who, when you first meet them, you know you want them to be with you forever. I was tied to you, Hermione. And that's all I want. It's all I need."
Ginny took Hermione's hand. The brunette's smile melted her heart. "Are we finished unloading on each other?" Hermione asked.
Ginny shrugged. "I am."
Hermione nodded. "Good." Then, she leapt forward and placed her lips over Ginny's tenderly. Ginny's hands went to their home on Hermione's waist, attempting to pull her nearly naked body closer, and Hermione's arms wrapped around Ginny's neck, nimble fingers tangling in fiery locks. Hermione pulled away, whispering, "I'm so sorry."
Ginny shook her head, her hands remaining on Hermione's hips. "Don't."
"What do we do now?" Hermione asked, stroking the back of Ginny's neck. Ginny smiled softly.