Sleepless Nights

Chapter One: Sleepless Night

Disclaimer:  Hermione and Ginny et al belong to J.K. Rowling.  I am just writing for them temporarily, as she seems to be giving them a longish break.  This story is fluff and will contain much girl/girl angst, romantic affection, and eventually f/f action, so if this is not your thing, there are lots of other stories out there and I recommend you go read one of them instead.

Spoilers: Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire

The noise outside had finally died down. It was after 3am, but the campground was still buzzing with low and worried conversations about the Death Eaters and the Dark Mark that had been conjured just hours before. Ginny Weasley was very tired, but kept tossing and turning, unable to drift off to sleep. She rolled over, punching her pillow, and noticed that Hermione Granger, in her bed on the other side of their wizard tent, appeared to be muttering to herself quietly, and violently readjusting her blankets.

"Hermione," she said sleepily, "Are you still awake?"

Hermione say up with an apologetic look on her face. "I'm sorry if I'm keeping you up, Ginny. I'm awfully tired, but every time I close my eyes, I keep remembering how horrible Crouch and Diggory were being to Winky, and I get so angry that I can't fall asleep."

"You're not keeping me up," Ginny sighed. "I can't sleep either."

"Do you want me to conjure up some warm milk or anything?" Hermione asked, looking concerned. "Is it too hot in here? I think there might be a fan around somewhere." She pulled her covers off and started to get out of bed.

"Oh no, Hermione, really I'm fine. Just worried, I guess."

Hearing this, Hermione did get out of bed and crossed the room to sit on the edge of Ginny's bed. "What are you worried about, Ginny?" she asked soothingly. "If it's about your brothers, I heard your dad say he was going to magically patch up their injuries before the boys go to bed tonight. It was all minor cuts and bruises, really. But I'm sure he doesn't want your mum to see Percy with his nose all bruised and bleeding like that. You'll see, they'll be fine."

Ginny gave Hermione a small smile and scooted over to make more room for her on the bed. "No, I know they'll be okay. They've been hurt lots worse just falling off broomsticks and things." She propped herself up on one elbow. "I'm worried about all the dark stuff that's going on."

Hermione brushed a lock of Ginny's bed-tousled red hair out of her eyes, and said, "Oh Ginny, don't worry. I know Ron and Harry always seem to get drawn into danger whenever dark things start to happen, but they always come through it all right. Harry is a really brave and talented wizard, you know. And Ron can hold his own in a fight. They're my best friends, and I can usually stop them from doing anything too risky."

"No, no." Ginny say up, sounding slightly exasperated. "I know you three always look out for each other, And Harry really can't help that You-Know- Who keeps coming after him, can he? No, I'm really worried because of…because of," she shivered involuntarily, "Tom Riddle."

"Oh Ginny!" Hermione cried, and put her arm around Ginny's trembling shoulders.

"It's not that I think he would try and enchant me again or anything. But every time I think about what happened…" she shuddered again, "it's just horrible. And I know there are still some people who thing that I was looking for attention by messing around with the Dark Arts, or that I opened the Chamber of Secrets myself because I'm the Heir of Slytherin. I hear people whispering about it wherever I go, an some people were actually running away from Fred and George and I in the woods, thinking that I might have conjured the Mark." Ginny's voice began to get very shaky, as she fought to hold back tears. "IF they knew how scary it was…to lose control of my actions…to think I was going mad…to be dragged down miles below the school and feel my life draining away while the Dark Lord stood by and laughed!" Ginny began sobbing in earnest, and threw herself down on the bed.

Hermione quickly lay down beside her and hugged her tightly. "Oh, Ginny, don't…"

Before she could finish, Ginny was sobbing on her shoulder. "To think I could have…I could have…you…could…have…died."

But I didn't." Hermione said firmly. "No one died. And you did try to throw the diary away when you suspected what was happening. You were only in your first year, and tons of fully-trained wizards haven't been strong enough to resist You-Know-Who."

Ginny's sobs were quieting down a bit. Hermione continued to hold her, stroking her hair with her hand and murmuring comforting words. But Ginny was only half-listening. She snuggled closer to Hermione and felt the warmth of her body and the soothing movements of her hand stroking Ginny's hair.

"Ginny." Hermione whispered. "No one who knows you would ever believe you were interested in the Dark Arts. You're so smart, and kind, and pretty."

Pretty? Ginny thought. Hermione thinks I'm smart and kind and pretty?

"You're worth twelve of anyone who thinks otherwise. Don't let what they say bother you, or worry you, or keep you up at night." Hermione continued.

"Oh Hermione," Ginny replied softly, "It's sweet of you to try and make me feel better, but you don't know what it's like. You're at the top of your class and best friends with The Boy Who Lived. No one has anything bad to say about you."

Hermione chuckled. "Tell that to Malfoy," she said. "I can't walk within five feet of him without some foul 'Mudblood' comment coming my way." Hermione sounded casual about this, as she always did whenever anyone brought up her Muggle parentage, but Ginny sensed that she wasn't as impervious to the insults as everyone else seemed to think.

"I'm sorry, Hermione." She didn't know what else to say right away, so she reached up and stroked Hermione's face gently. Now it was Hermione's turn to sniffle a bit.

"It doesn't matter," she mumbled, "I know they're just parading their ignorance and prejudice. It's stupid to get all upset about, really." But in spite of her words, silent tears were running down her cheeks.

Ginny brushed them away with one hand, and kept her other arm wrapped around Hermione's waist. "Hermione, you could never be stupid about anything. Malfoy and his goons devote half their lives to taunting you and Harry and Ron. Of course it would start to get to you after a while. I know it doesn't help much, but you must know they only say those things because they're jealous of you."

"Jealous?" Hermione repeated incredulously. "Why would they be jealous of me?" She didn't believe Ginny, but it felt so nice being this close to her, and her touch felt so soft and tender on Hermione's face, that Hermione did begin to feel a bit better.

"Of course they're jealous of you," Ginny continued. "Because you're so clever, and so sweet, and so…" she buried her face in Hermione's neck to disguise her blush, even though it was quite dark in the room, "so beautiful," she finished, her breath very warm on Hermione's skin.

Beautiful? Hermione thought. Ginny thinks I'm clever and sweet and beautiful?

"It's true," Ginny continued. "You are very clever. Very sweet. And very, very beautiful. Remember that, next time they start to bother you." She was strangely embarrassed when she finished speaking, and waited to hear whether Hermione would ask what she meant by that, or worse yet, pull away thinking Ginny was some kind of freak.

But Hermione just pulled Ginny closer and resumed stroking her hair. "Thanks, Ginny," she whispered. Ginny smiled, and rested her head against Hermione's shoulder as a pillow. Ginny couldn't feel worried anymore, not while cushioned in the arms of Hermione Granger. All her tiredness came rushing back, and soon both girls were sleeping peacefully wrapped in each other's arms.