I have come to the conclusion that Hermione and Ginny are perfect for one another. The end.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm an unfortunate muggle and J.K. Rowling is a god.
"This is such a horrible idea."
A shaky hand brushed her shoulder and skidded down the length of her arm, dragging her robes with it.
"I'm a terrible person. There's nobody worse than me, Merlin, I'm garbage."
Hermione momentarily hushed her own rambling and screwed her eyes shut as those hands tugged tentatively on her burgundy and golden tie, prying it from being tucked neatly beneath her dark grey sweater. They slowly reversed all of the loops until it lay over Hermione's shoulders more like a gym towel rather than a flimsy tie, and she swallowed the ignited charcoal in her throat. It sank to the very pit of her stomach, and upon no further movement from the other party, she could feel the flames beginning to die and a flood of cool relief seeped into her rapidly beating heart as it circulated a healthier temperature throughout her body.
Until Ginny clumsily skated the nails of her frightened fingers along either side of Hermione's hips and lifted, catching the hem of her sweater and pulling. It was the perfect formula to kick up the embers in her stomach and bring the raging fire roaring to life beneath her skin.
Hermione bit her lip, shaking her head as the sweater began to bunch up like an accordion at the base of her ribcage. Her white button up shirt still remained underneath, but she feared the thin material would burst into a fireworks display of flames as she bit her lip, muscles tense with anxiety.
Veins that tied her body together threatened to catch fire on the frayed, loose ends and carry the spark to her waiting heart like a lit match held to dynamite. It burned closer with every pulse, and she tried her very best to extinguish it by facing the reality of her actions behind the backs of her eyes. She saw Ron, smiling at her as though she were some sort of prize, but it wasn't enough to hurl a bucket of water over the crackling shock in her blood. At most, it evoked a slow drizzle for a quick moment until Ginny pressed closer.
Her fingers wouldn't cooperate; they were clumsy shoelaces knotted to her fists and her bones dissolved to permeated styrofoam the moment Ginny wrapped around her like a second skin.
Her small hands pressed into Hermione's ribs and her coiled fists slowly relaxed as her palms curved flatly around them through her blouse. She stared in apprehension, embarrassment, awe, lust, and copious amounts of love as she clutched the shirt in her hands again and hid her face in the hollow of Hermione's throat. She could feel her body beginning to retract like an insect that had been crushed under a passerby's foot and Hermione, finally reacting to the hesitation, cracked open her eyes and drew in a breath as one of her hands came to cradle the back of Ginny's head, protective of her own damage, fingers instinctively braiding into red hair. Her other hand hung limp at her side as she stared across the room.
"I'm awful, Ginny, I'm awful," she whispered, more to the ceiling than anything else.
"Me too," Ginny murmured into Hermione's sweater, burrowed so closely into her that they were hardly two individual beings. "I'm a monster."
The thumps of Harry's fists against the basement door of Ginny's brain were growing louder and angrier, like a bear trapped in a birdcage, and she wanted to throw her own head against the wall to quiet her guilt, to murder the monster of him that she'd created in the corners of her own mind. Ginny snapped her eyes open and Hermione's pale skin became the substitute canvas for her imagination, expanding her heart and cracking the brittle fingers bent around it for a moment of relief.
"You're not," she replied, taking offense to Ginny's self-loathing.
"I'm certainly no better than you," Ginny continued, and she never could recall a moment of her life in which she was ever better than Hermione Granger. "I'm guilty of the same thing."
Hermione shook her head, eyes closed, reprimanding herself.
"No," she gently massaged Ginny's scalp in circular motions, and Ginny's lips pressed against her clavicle. Not as a kiss, because they remained unmoving once they were there and she pouted against Hermione's skin. "You're his sister. I can't believe I've pulled you into this."
"I think much of the gravitation was unintentional," Ginny defended meekly, her words soft and muffled. She felt disgusting, as though the hands gripping Hermione's sweater were no more than the rotting bones of a hooded corpse that had swallowed the light from Hermione's eyes and rusted them over. She flexed her fingers and imagined the flesh melting away from them. "I'm sorry I fell in love with you," she apologized on the coattails of a previous breath.
Hermione bit the inside of her cheek, her eyes drilling concentrated holes into the worn skull colored stone walls. She considered her reply for a moment, and her ankles were so twisted in the thread of her lies that if she managed one more, she'd surely trip. So she didn't bother.
"I'm not," she whispered in a soft exhale, her idle hand at her side lifting up to rest on Ginny's hip. Guilt expelled the air from her lungs as she made various unsuccessful attempts to starve the growing flames inside of her.
Ginny, however terrible she was supposed to feel at that response, couldn't help the tug at the corners of her mouth and she faintly kissed Hermione's neck with a brush of her lips. She stood back for a moment, and Hermione frowned in confusion until Ginny's hands were completing their task of removing her sweater. Hermione's arms reached toward the ceiling so Ginny could pull it over her head, and the older witch immediately set to self consciously tidying her hair, only to have one of her wrists arrested and guided downward. Ginny ran her fingertips over the uneven rise and fall of Hermione's rigid knuckles.
"I've never done this before," Ginny admitted as heat colored her cheeks like she'd gone and sat too close to an open fire, fidgeting with Hermione's hand.
Hermione was more than aware, (of course she knew, Harry was nothing if not a gentleman), but the audible admission of it made the shame all the more sickening.
"I know," she answered from the corner of her mouth, looking away.
Ginny's eyes grew wide and she nearly dropped Hermione's hand.
"No!" Hermione brought her eyes back to level with Ginny's, and she was grateful that she didn't have to lie. "No, I haven't."
Ron was a fantastic boyfriend. She'd known him ever since she'd picked up a wand, and it was a comfortable advantage. He was a friend, a best friend, and although he was unnerving and they were as opposite as could be, she'd grown fond of all the parts of him that stood her hair on end.
But whenever she imagined herself waking up the next morning with nothing but the sheets to clothe her, she saw longer auburn hair on the pillow beside her. Slender shoulders and a smooth, pale back, with her own arm draped over a narrow waist. She imagined her boyfriend's sister and it poisoned her blood.
She hated herself for it, but she loved Ron and she was in love with Ginny.
Ginny witnessed the introspective war waging behind Hermione's eyes and cast aside her own fear for the sake of calming the pain whirling inside of them, parking her uncertain hands at Hermione's hips once again and guiding her a few blind steps backwards until her shoulder blades met stone. Harry's screams were growing louder, beastly, as he clawed against the wooden door at the back of her head, steadily shredding it to sawdust.
He couldn't be more perfect for her, but she was constantly sandpapering their puzzle pieces to modify herself to fit someone else and the rough grain against her skin was scraping her raw.
"This is such a horrible idea," Hermione repeated, more in a whisper this time, and Ginny nodded as Harry threw himself against the door.
Hermione slid down the wall until she was seated on the floor with her legs bent at the knee, staring up at Ginny with crinkled eyebrows and pleading eyes. She wasn't sure of what she was asking for, she only knew she was begging at the ankles of the correct person.
She was partly relieved the term was over, her grades cemented and top mark, so that she could climb into the dusty pages of tomes for the following year over the summer. But she could already sense the impending madness the holiday would infect her with, because Ginny would be miles away and she didn't have the darkness within her to write. Not if Ron's letters were to go unanswered as well.
"Stop doing that," Ginny murmured, a sad lilt to her voice.
"Looking so sad at me like that," she crouched down on her knees. "I can't stand it."
Hermione turned her head away with nothing to say, and Ginny studied her profile like it was something she'd never seen before. How her strong jaw curved upward to the shell of her ear, and the soft neck below that held her pulse inside, like the locked treasure chest that encased Davey Jones' beating heart. It was silent for a few moments, and then Ginny heard it - and the words must have had a suffocating journey from her throat to her lips because the air hardly suspended them at all.
"Make me feel better."
Her head was still turned to the side, eyes now closed. Ginny was torn, even though the mere thought of refusing her was not something she was capable of.
It took her a few breaths as Ginny slowly complied and perched her hand on Hermione's knee, just above her high socks. She crawled tentatively between Hermione's half-risen legs, her free hand landing on the older witch's shoulder and waiting for her to turn and face her. A long moment passed and Hermione did nothing to prove she was going to move at all, but the grooves in her forehead from her prolonged frowning were enough to inspire Ginny and sparked the coiled wire inside of her. She brought her hand from Hermione's shoulder to her chin, turning her head and tilting it back.
Brown eyes flickered open and despite Ginny's nerves, she smiled at the sparkle and shock inside of them before she leaned forward and caught Hermione's lips as delicately as she could manage. Her veins had all burned up by now and the spark had reached her heart, her dynamite, in a destructive explosion that blew both her ribcage and her mouth open as she gasped against Ginny's lips.
They weren't hidden away; they were pressed up against the stone walls of the fifth year's Gryffindor dormitory, but Ginny couldn't bring herself to care about who would walk through the door behind them and expose everything they'd hidden so meticulously for months. She couldn't make herself care about who she was hurting because those rusty trophy eyes were shining for the first time in ages like they'd won something engraved with Ginny's name.
The summer would be long and grueling, indeed.
Fred and George were taking after Bill and Charlie, ascending two lawn chairs into the air with their wands pointed toward them as if they were tethered and directing the motions of the chairs by string like puppeteers. They laughed, weaving around one another, and any muggle would think they were flying kites if it weren't for the wands in their hands and the twirling, thrashing legs of the airborne lawn chairs, battling one another to the last joint. It was their warped way of celebrating their final day of freedom before everyone was booked on the train back to school where books took up the space in their heads where inventions could go.
Hermione flopped lazily onto the hay-like grass surrounding the Burrow as a spectator to Fred and George's makeshift game, her palms getting a bit lost in the brush as she leaned back into them. There was a light breeze; enough to pick up the stray strands of her hair and toss them around in front of her nose. Otherwise, the air was heavy enough with humidity that she half expected the need to swim if she were to get up, and every breath felt like she was downing a glass of warm water.
The summer had been as good to her as it could have possibly managed. She'd traveled along far Eastern Asia with her parents; surveying the high mountains of Laos and Cambodia, so rooted with trees they merely looked like unevenly elevated forests. Experiencing her first Thai massage in Thailand and wondered if the practitioners could hold their own with a wand, because their methods of 'relaxation' nearly broke her bones. She'd been decently distracted, but there was plenty of room left for excitement and dread when she imagined visiting the Burrow for the last week or so of holiday as tradition.
She observed Fred and George's competition of sorts for awhile, and she hadn't realized she'd fallen asleep until she heard a few screeches from Molly Weasely, her words indicating that one of the chair's legs had gone sailing through one of the walls of the Burrow and left a jagged, splintered hole. If Hermione had bothered to sit up, she would have seen Mrs. Weasely's round face peering through it, her words so quickly said and with such volume that it began changing the color of her face.
Then again, if Hermione had bothered to sit up, she most likely would have given the twins a moment or two of reprieve as Mrs. Weasely would have noticed her and greeted her with a smile and a welcoming, "hello, Hermione, dear!"
She was too forced down by the pressure of the heat to rescue Fred and George, however, and she did feel a bit guilty, but she remained in the rough grass with her eyes closed and her hands on her stomach.
The wiry ground tickled the backs of her legs and shoulders because of her unconventional, but entirely appropriate muggle attire; jean shorts and a casual pale pink, spaghetti strap tank top with just a touch of crimped fabric to frill the trim. She was beginning to cross the threshold of dreaming, her forearm now thrown over her eyes, when she heard light, quick footsteps and then the crunch of a body settling down onto the grass beside her.
She knew it was Ginny before the other girl even bothered to open her mouth, but she kept quiet and feigned sleep anyway.
Ginny leaned on one arm, her other hand grasping Hermione's wrist and pulling her arm away from her eyes.
"Hermione, wake up," she demanded with a smile on her face, not bothering to keep her voice down like a courteous person would do when dragging someone back into the world of the awake. "Dinner's going to be ready soon. Well, once Mum gets back to cooking after she's finished lecturing my brothers," she tagged on, a finger on her chin in a moment of thought as she contemplated how long that could take.
"'S'too muggy, don't want to move," Hermione whined, angling her closed eyes away from the glare of the sun since Ginny had removed her shade.
Although the shade was back rather quickly when Ginny pressed her free hand into the prickly ground so that her whole body was to the right of Hermione's, but her arms were pinned to either side of her shoulders as she hovered over her. The sun had peppered a few more freckles on her cheeks than the wintry weather allowed when they attended Hogwarts, and Ginny had gathered a certain confidence over the summer. Whether it was due to forced denial of the standing they had with one another, or if Ginny had adopted her brothers' way of life, she wasn't certain. Her smile from only a moment ago hadn't gone away, but the left side of her mouth had a mischievous twitch that Hermione didn't detect before and she read her mind faster and easier than Trelawney had ever been able to decipher a crystal ball.
Her eyes narrowed with a sharp shake of her head as she mouthed, "no."
"Why not? No one can see what we're doing," Ginny further bent her elbows, leaning down closer, all of her hair gathered to one side. "The grass is too high over here for them to notice us," her hand curved around the side of Hermione's neck, fingers dragging along the length of her jaw.
"Ron and Harry are just over there," she caught Ginny's wrist and nodded toward a thicket of trees that devolved into mere twigs growing from the ground, until eventually a vast field spread north with a small river bleeding through it.
"They've hardly noticed us all day, they aren't going to notice us right now," she sat back, one of her hands on Hermione's knee.
"They're practicing Quidditch, the grass doesn't hide us from the heights that a broomstick can take them," Hermione argued, though her heart was thrumming faster and climbing up her throat as Ginny drew small circles on the bone of her knee with her thumb.
"What do you suggest we do, then?" Ginny didn't bother retaliating because Hermione was being practical, as she usually was, and it didn't work to her advantage in these types of situations.
"Enjoy the moment."
"Actually, that's what I was planning on doing -"
"Ginny Weasely, it's really of no shock at all that you're the sister of Fred and George," Hermione sighed, eyes closed once again and forearm masking them as it was earlier.
It was different this time around. There were cracks in their smiles, they both knew that. They weren't idiots. But happiness was there, inside the both of them, and they weren't really any better off than they'd been a few months ago in the dormitories, but there was a carefree euphoria that bundled with seeing one another for the first time in months.
Hermione hadn't kissed her. She wasn't sure if she could. She feared the blooming danger any time Ginny had come too close in the past week, and she wasn't sure she could handle the suffocating guilt that wrapped small plastic bags around her lungs whenever she smudged her own morals. But out here, in the open field, was innocent enough.
Ginny smiled and deviously tapped her fingers on Hermione's knee.
"Then this shouldn't surprise you in the least…" she murmured, bringing her hand to the backside of Hermione's knee and tickling the sensitive skin there with a smirk in her eyes that skyrocketed her eyebrows upward when Hermione narrowly missed kicking her in the face as she flailed.
"Gin - Ginny -" she paused between clenching her teeth to let out a long wind of laughter. Her legs were torn between bending at the knee to try and trap Ginny's hand and prevent movement (which only provided closer range for tickling) and spontaneously kicking into the air to attempt an escape from her cruel fingers. She laughed her stomach to stitches, alternating between squealing and "I can't breathe," until a final valiant attempt to spare herself succeeded when she bashed Ginny's lip with her knee like a baseball bat smashing a ball to a homerun.
Her lip split upon impact and Hermione immediately stopped squirming, her eyes wide as she realized the hard object her leg had collided with was Ginny's face. Digging her elbows into the ground, she pulled herself up and grasped Ginny's jaw in one of her hands like Ginny had done to her earlier, her other hand cupping her chin as she quickly swiped away a bit of the blood with her thumb.
"Oh, gosh, Ginny, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to kick you - it's just, I was laughing so hard, I couldn't breathe, I didn't even see what I was doing," she fussed, inspecting the deep trench that cut straight through the width of Ginny's bottom lip. "Oh no, are you alright? How badly does it hurt?"
Contrary to Hermione's worrying, Ginny hardly registered any pain at all. Her hands were touching her, and anything beyond that soared over her head faster than a cackling Bludger. She could feel a dull sting, something that would surely evolve later once she'd regained her concentration, but her mind was floating away, crowd surfing on the tips of the tall grass as they passed her conscious thought further and further.
"I don't know," Ginny drew out her response, spewing a small hiss of pain when Hermione rubbed the fresh blood away too close to the source. "Ouch."
"Merlin, I'm such a git, hold on just a second," Hermione felt around in the grass, which seemed to be complicatedly woven together like a wicker basket where they had laid on it, and retrieved a twig or two before she successfully produced her wand. "Alright, hold still…" she murmured, sitting back.
Ginny awaited the mumble of a spell, and as she looked over she would have been easily convinced that the face across from her was one of those boring, unmoving muggle photos if there were a frame bordering Hermione's head. As far from exciting as they were, Ginny wouldn't mind having a frozen moment of her time with Hermione encased in a nice picture frame. Her train of thought derailed, its segments fishtailing behind it before suffering an explosive crash and she had not a single intelligent thing to say. The older witch's mouth stretched into a tight, thin line before she frowned; Ginny's face was always overly expressive and Hermione had few ideas of what would wipe it clean, eyes blank.
"Episkey," she said softly, finally, and the skin on either side of Ginny's cut came together from one end to the other as if an invisible zipper had been tugged shut.
Her mind came back to her in a rush, too many thoughts cramming themselves inside the walls of her skull as Ginny pursed her lips, tapping the previously injured area before nodding her approval and throwing the pan of her attraction on the back burner.
"Nicely done. At least I know now, from experience, that if you break me, you know how and have the means to fix me," she smiled, adjusting her own jaw.
"Oh, you're terrible. Just like your brothers," Hermione made a move to stand, but Ginny hooked two fingers into one of her belt loops and reeled her back down to the ground again.
"Come on, was just teasing," she went on, eyes shimmering in the reflection of the setting sun with sincerity, and an apology on her lazy smile.
Hermione sighed, fists in her own lap, well aware of the fact that she wasn't being fair. Had anyone else kicked Ginny in the mouth, Hermione's knuckles would have nearly shot out from her fingertips like a bullet from a gun. So she figured she owed Ginny a little something, at the least, and it was much more that she wanted to rather than she felt any sort of obligation.
She ducked her head down so that she wasn't outright visible above the grass and softly said, "come here."
Ginny looked confused, but complied as she mirrored exactly what Hermione was doing, although she didn't move any closer.
"I meant, you know, come here," Hermione motioned for her to scoot forward, and Ginny picked up on it a moment later, crawling a few feet until their knees were nearly touching. A hand landed on Ginny's cheek and she leaned into it, closing her eyes at how good it felt and all traces of humor left her body like sun clearing the mist away. As much as she joked about it, she found nothing about their situation to be funny and Hermione's hands had been deeply missed over the summer.
"They're great boys," Hermione said with conviction, but she was steadily distracting herself as her other hand came up to Ginny's opposite cheek, thumb stroking her skin. "The best," she slipped one down to Ginny's chin, tilting it forward, and she noticed the small smudge of blood left on her lip, then wiped it away. "We shouldn't be doing this," she whispered.
"I know," Ginny answered, no louder than Hermione. "That used to be my line, remember?"
"You don't love Harry?"
"I love him, of course I do," Ginny watched as the emotion on Hermione's face hollowed out like seeds spoon carved from a pumpkin. Her heart stuttered in pain for a moment, but it was worth saying because she would react no differently if Hermione were to say that about someone else. About Ron. "But the thing is, Hermione, I also love my mum and my dad, my brothers, Luna. I love a lot of people. But you?" Ginny shook her head, placing her hand over Hermione's on her cheek. "I'm in love with you, and I know we shouldn't be doing this, but I shouldn't be doing it with Harry, either, because it never feels this right."
For a quick moment, Hermione almost asked her how she could love her brothers, how she could love Ron, if she was willing to do this to him. But she bit her tongue upon realizing how much of a hypocrite she was, and how her actions around Ginny never felt voluntary as much as necessary.
She settled for smoothing a bit of Ginny's hair back from her face, bumping noses with her as she closed her eyes, "Wish I could say I was sorry I love you back."
"I don't," Ginny whispered, and she almost crumbled to join the dry, dusty dirt beneath the grass she was kneeling on as Hermione kissed her with fists in her hair. She sighed, completely overwhelmed by the reality of what she had imagined all summer long, and the soft noises Hermione granted her were rather inspiring as her fingers found those empty belt loops again and pulled.
Hermione broke their kiss, and Ginny's mouth tried to follow Hermione's lips when she sat back hardly a centimeter so she could rest their foreheads together. Once she realized Hermione was taking a moment to compose herself, to breathe, to open her eyes and watch her boyfriend's little sister catch up on the air she had stolen, Ginny was contentedly drawn to her eyes. They were relaxed and polished, though staring a little desperately for confirmation and reassurance.
Ginny was moments away from leaning back in as Hermione seemed to have settled down, when she jerked backwards and her trophy eyes clattered down to the earth, dented and ruined.
"Hey!" Ron called, Harry trailing behind him, both with broomsticks in hand as Ron waved the girls over. "Quit dilly-dallying, you two! Dinner's ready and Mum's already set the table," he smiled, blissfully unaware, and Harry urged them as well with a cheerful, "come on!"
Ginny's back was to the both of them and she didn't bother turning herself around, relying on Hermione to handle their response, and she dutifully did.
"We'll be right there, thanks," she nodded with an appreciative smile that paved over any potholes her heaving shoulders and thrashing heart might have cleaved. That seemed to satisfy Harry and Ron because they turned around, heading into the Burrow as Ron animatedly imitated a broomstick with the length of his arm, reenacting the play he and Harry had managed to successfully execute out in the field.
She wasn't sure what she had been thinking, or if she had been at all, because she was sure her mind had entertained the idea of her and Ginny asleep on the train to Hogwarts, her head on her shoulder. Their hearts traded, beating in one another's chests where they were meant to be.
Ginny rubbed her temple, Harry was shouting in the basement again, and he was unwelcome because she hadn't heard him in a long time. She'd almost forgotten him down there, and she wished she'd have chained a padlock over the door while he had been dormant. She sighed as she felt a headache coming on, and Hermione stood to her feet, brushing herself off.
"C'mon, Gin," she offered her hand, and Ginny accepted. Hermione pulled her up off the ground, then dropped her arm back to her side where it felt too heavy. She began walking to the Burrow, a deadweight in her chest.
"What now, Hermione?" Ginny called to her, feeling useless.
Hermione chastised herself for not knowing the answer to a question for the first time in her life and she paused in her steps, turning around with a wistful look on her face, the wind picking up her hair again.
"It's the last day of summer," she answered softly, shrugging, and Ginny's own heart bared its teeth, ready to tear itself to pulp. "Enjoy the moment."