A/N: This is a collaboration story between Ravensheart85, and The Forgotten Lover. Our Chapters will alternate between authors, and we will notify you which person is writing the chapter before each one. Ravensheart85 will focus more on Ginny's perspective, and The Forgotten Lover (me) will focus mainly on Hermione's perspective. The first chapter is written by Ravensheart85.
"Home sweet home" Harry sighed as he collapsed into his favorite over-sized chair closest to the fire in the Gryffindor common room, a grin spreading across his face. He glanced over at the red-haired witch sitting to his right on the large sofa, seeing the same smile of relief reflected back at him. After the taxing events the wizarding world had experienced the past few years since Voldemort's return and rise to power, everyone was now exhaling the same sigh of relief now that he had been defeated. There was not a single witch or wizard who had not been greatly affected by those dark times, but none more so than Harry and his most trusted friends. There had been several devastating and grave loses but at least Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny had each other. Each of them were committed to go on with their lives in the most normal ways possible having felt cheated from the life of a normal student with their carefree worries, most severe of which merely being if they studied thoroughly enough for their tests. For this reason, all four had made a pact to return to Hogwarts and finish their education, the goal they all had made the first day they set foot on platform 9 ¾ yet unaware the perils that lay ahead of them.
Ginny felt every muscle in her body relax against the soft cushions of the sofa, propping her feet up on the table in front of her and settling herself in comfortably, not intending to move from that spot anytime soon. Her stomach was full from the delicious beginning of term feast and instead of worrying herself with the beginning of a new year she found herself to be very excited and eager. For the first time she would be taking classes with her brother, her ex boyfriend, and their best friend. After having faced her grueling sixth year at Hogwarts without the trio, Ginny realized just how lonely she was without them and how much she needed them in her life. Her eyes darted over to Harry as she was taken aback by how genuinely happy he looked; a look she had not seen in a while from her ex boyfriend. Ginny still cared deeply for Harry and was overjoyed to see him at such peace after everything he had been through. At first she had been worried when Harry returned after the war after having almost lost him that she would break whatever was left of him when she told him her true feelings, but things had worked out perfectly for the two, both realizing they were getting something from each other that was comfortable but not quite right.
Ginny allowed her head to dip back and rest on the back of the sofa as she closed her eyes and permitted images of the previous year to flash through her mind. She recalled seeing the faces of the loved ones she lost, both family and dear friends, remembered the image of Harry's seemingly lifeless body in Hagrid's arms, and saw a kaleidoscope of the colors from spells shooting out from wands, dancing through the air and crashing into the walls of her beloved school that sent them crashing to the ground. These scenes still fresh in her memory caused Ginny to recall these events with such clarity she felt as if she were back reliving those days and experiencing them again, all of the emotions flooding back to her. She could feel the agony each time someone she loved vanished before her eyes, the feeling of intense and unshakable loneliness and worry that she had been left behind at a school with few real friends while the people she cared most about were off putting themselves in danger and risking their lives. For a brief moment she felt the flicker of another emotion, faintly, a moment of fleeting happiness and excitement that disappeared as soon as it surfaced to be replaced by deep sadness and emptiness once more. She remembered how the person who told her she would always be there for her and would never leave her side, did that very thing.
A pain threatened to grip Ginny's chest in the dead center of her heart, but the sensation was halted and Ginny's senses forced her back to the present as her nose caught the most intoxicating scent of vanilla mixed with the subtle scent of something else Ginny could not put her finger on. Ginny knew before opening her eyes who had just sat down next to her, to whom such a heavenly aroma followed wherever she went.
"Ginny, you really shouldn't put your feet up on the table." Hermione jokingly admonished the younger witch, playfully batting Ginny's legs off of the table.
Ginny blushed at the brief contact of Hermione's hands on her legs, feeling foolish for her reaction because Hermione had not even been able to touch Ginny's skin directly due to the thickness of her jeans. Ginny chastised herself for acting in such a manner, surely she had dated enough people while at Hogwarts to not be affected or swayed by a mere innocent touch done in an obviously friendly gesture by someone she just so happened to find attractive.
Ginny caught herself in this thought and reminded herself Hermione Granger was no average attractive woman. Hermione is intelligent, caring, has a heart of pure gold, and has a fierce and unwavering loyalty to her friends. Her determination and passion to always follow through and give everything in her life her complete dedication captivated Ginny. Never before had Ginny met someone as compassionate and understanding or as real as Hermione Granger. Ginny was able to see these things since the war ended, because she was able to spend more time in Hermione's company, and she wondered how she had missed what a unique rarity Hermione was before. It was as if the wonderful secrets of Hermione Granger were being revealed to Ginny in perfect clarity. In Ginny's world of doubt and routine, Hermione had emerged as a treasure so refreshingly beautiful both inside and out, that it shocked Ginny how she had not noticed the brilliance of Hermione sooner. It did not shock Ginny that she felt such things for her brother's girlfriend, so far as that she was discovering these things in another woman, but rather who that particular woman had been. The previous year while her brother and his friends were away, Ginny had made a lot of personal discoveries. She felt herself grow as a person, felt herself fall in love with someone unexpected, and subsequently felt her heart shatter. As a result, what was left behind felt like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle distorted enough that they may never regain their former shapes to be put together again.
Taking a deep breath before opening her eyes in order to prepare herself, Ginny slowly raised her lids and was met with the teasing smirk of Hermione's soft, enticing lips, which was just enough to steal the air from Ginny's lungs. Ginny felt her heart rate quicken and felt a fluttering sensation stir within her stomach, causing her to look quickly to the closest thing able to catch her attention. Ginny pretended to be lost in the dancing of the flames within the fireplace.
How can she do that? How can she catch me off guard armed only with that radiant smile? It is as if she can see right through me and that smile shines directly on my heart, and soars it to the highest stars! Only Hermione has the brilliance to outshine the brightest stars, and pale them in comparison.
"Ginny? Are you feeling alright? You look a bit flushed." Hermione inquired. She surveyed Ginny and reached her hand out to touch the younger girl's forehead, taking note of how Ginny jumped a bit at the contact as if shocked with an electric current. She was surprised to find Ginny's skin felt as if it were on fire.
"Ginny, you're burning up!" Hermione exclaimed, voice laced with concern. "Here, let's get you to bed so you can lie down and get some rest. I wouldn't want you to start off such an important year feeling ill and fall behind in your studies."
Before waiting for a response, Hermione hooked her hand around Ginny's arm and attempted to pull her up from the sofa. Hermione awkwardly stumbled a bit against Ginny's reluctance and fell into her, brushing against her body and stopping herself before falling on top of Ginny completely.
The sensation of Hermione's body colliding with her own sent a shiver down Ginny's spine quickly, followed by a heat rising throughout her body and settling in her center. Wondering how it would even be possible, Ginny felt her face grow even redder than before. Desperately she tried to look anywhere but at Hermione and caught a snicker on Harry's face, who was well aware of Ginny's relatively new found interest in women, being the only person thus far privy to her secret.
Hermione straightened herself back up and showed a slight hint of embarrassment for her clumsiness. She eyed Ginny in a quizzical manner titling her head to the side as Ginny proceeded to stumble through an explanation of how she was simply sitting too close to the fire and would feel better if she sat by one of the open windows for a while. She abruptly turned on her heels and sat down near a couple of first years playing wizard chess.
Brushing the loose strands of hair from her face, Ginny could not resist the temptation to turn her head back to Hermione; the desire to never take her eyes off of her too great. She saw Hermione standing with a hand on her hip and staring directly at her, their eyes locked, and her mouth opening as if she was about to say something to Ginny. Before she was able to get the words out however, Ron walked up behind Hermione, placed his hands around her waist, turned her toward him, and away from the connection her eyes had made with Ginny's. Ginny felt a sinking feeling overtake her body and could feel a pit forming in her stomach once more as if she were empty and would never be able to feel satisfied again. Her brother was with the woman who had filled her mind with fantasies this past summer, and she knew that regardless of what fairytale they lived in her head, Hermione might as well have been thousands of miles away because she was not hers to hold.