Please note: If you haven't read my first story, Ginny Weasley and the Riddle of Tom's Diary, you should as it sets up a lot of the themes for this work and those to follow
Thanks again to all those who read the first part of the story and I hope you'll enjoy this one as well...
It was about a week into the summer holidays and Ginny had woken up at the crack of dawn as usual. She smiled at the warmth of the body next to hers: Luna had come over two days after school ended and hadn't left her side since. The first night they had planned on sleeping in separate beds but Luna had a nightmare and crawled into the safety of Ginny's arms. She'd wrapped her in her arms and rubbed her back until the shivering stopped and Luna had finally fallen back to sleep. Invariably she would sigh wishing it were a different girl in her arms. It wasn't that she didn't care for Luna, she realised, and it wasn't just that she wished it was Hermione, it was because she had come to love Luna like a little sister. Which, she realised was odd, since Luna was almost six months older than her.
Luna stirred next to her and mumbled; "'morning..."
"No nightmares last night?" She knew the answer; Luna hadn't woken her once all night.
"Usually don't when you're holding me... you?"
"No..." Should she tell her friend the truth? "I don't think I've had a single dream since I woke up in the chamber."
"Maybe you just can't remember them? Everyone dreams..."
"I don't know... maybe..." she and Luna had avoided talking about what had happened at the end of the school year, but Ginny knew she had to talk about it."Let's grab some breakfast and go for a walk, there's something I'd like... I need to talk about..." Luna nodded in understanding.
After they dressed and grabbed some breakfast they headed out for their walk. Luna walked towards the broom closet, figuring Ginny would be doing some flying before her brothers got up, but was surprised when she realised Ginny hadn't followed her.
"I don't feel like flying right now... I really just want to go for a walk and talk..." Now Luna knew something was up. Ginny never missed a chance to fly, "C'mon we'll go the orchard..." As they walked in silence Luna wondered what she was about to hear. Was it going to be about what happened with the diary? Or would it be about her feelings for Hermione?
Ginny was wondering the same thing. She needed to talk about what had happened with the diary but how could she do that without bringing her feelings for Hermione into it? She knew she could tell Luna anything, but to say it out loud, would make it too real and too painful. But she needed to talk about how guilty she felt. They found a sunny spot under a tree and sat in silence a moment more as Ginny pondered how to start.
"I feel so guilty Luna," she admitted finally.
"It wasn't your fault Ginny, it was all him, he made you do those things..."
"No... it was my fault Luna... he may have used my body to do the things he wanted," she sighed; "but I let him."
"No, Ginny... you had no control..."Ginny interrupted her with a hand on her arm; Luna looked up and was surprised to see the anger on her face and the tears in her eyes.
"He didn't take control Luna, I let him have it."
"I... I don't understand…"
Ginny sighed and angrily wiped the tears from her eyes. She gathered her courage and explained. "When I first starting writing in the diary Tom was kind, understanding and made me feel better about the things I was feeling for..."
"Hermione?" Luna added helpfully. Ginny had figured that Luna knew and sighed as she nodded.
"Well anyway..." she continued, trying to cover for the blush on her cheeks; "I think Tom figured that out before I did and he started to influence my dreams. He would take things that had actually happened and then twist them to make me happy. I lost myself in them Luna, I didn't want them to end." She could see the dawning realisation on her friend's face. "He would take over my daydreams and then do whatever he wanted. I didn't fight his control because I was too happy in the fantasy world he created."
"Oh Gin..."Luna said hugging her friend, "you didn't know, how could you know?"
"But I think I did... or at least I should've..."
"What do you mean?"
"Remember the Quidditch game when Harry got hurt?" Luna nodded. "Remember the drying and warming spells?" She nodded again. "That was him... he was already using my magic but I didn't realise it."
"I had wondered about that," Luna said thoughtfully, "I figured the friend was Hermione… but you threw out the diary?"
"Tom pissed me off so I would throw it out... I think he wanted to meet Harry. He even made me throw it out in Myrtle's bathroom."
"Wait... that was the day you found about Hermione... I wondered how you didn't know."
"Tom kept it from me, said he knew it would upset me... and that's why he finally let me find out... so I'd throw the diary away. When I didn't have it, the dreams pretty much stopped, until he needed me again to finish his plan."
"So how much do you remember from the last year?"
"It's weird... you know how the exams were cancelled?" Luna nodded. "Well they sent me a general exam the day I got home from school ended to see how much I'd learnt."
"Really? How did you do?"
"Passed everything with flying colors... I think the classes bored Tom so he let me, I don't know, experience them... everything is still a little foggy, I don't remember the actual classes, but I guess I managed to learn anyway."
"Well that was lucky... I know I wouldn't want to repeat the year with everyone knowing why..." She sat, thinking over what Ginny had told her. "I still don't think you should feel guilty... you didn't know what was happening... it's not your fault he hurt those people."
"Hermione was my fault..." she corrected quietly.
"No... he picked on her because she had it figured out..."
Ginny nodded. "That's true but... but Tom told me he had meant to kill her eventually anyways." She continued despite the shocked look on Luna's face; "The timing was because he wasn't ready for Harry to find him yet, but he had always meant to kill her... she just outsmarted him with the mirror..."
"Because of how you feel about her? What? Was he jealous or something?"
Ginny almost laughed before replying; "No, he knew if Hermione died it would throw me into a pit of despair so deep that I would give anything to stay in the dream he gave me."
"But, Hermione didn't die..."
"No, but just before we went into the Chamber the last time he told me it was my fault that she and everyone else had been attacked and that she would hate me when she found out the truth. He even showed me attacking Hermione..."
"Hermione could never hate you..." Luna interrupted.
"I know that now Luna, but..." Ginny replied dismissively.
"No... you misunderstand... she cares about you..." Ginny looked to her in surprise so she added; "a lot..."
"What are you talking about?"
"She came to talk to me on the train. Asked me to hang out with you but I told her that Dad was planning a hunting trip... she told me that maybe those plans will have changed by the time I got home."
"I was wondering about that..."
"When Daddy picked me up at the train station he told me he'd gotten a letter from Dumbledore asking him to postpone his plans. That my best friend needed me."
"Why would Dumbledore do that? How'd he know?"
"I suspect Hermione had something to do with it..." Luna offered and Ginny remembered the diaries that Hermione had given her on his behalf.
"Okay, but why would she do that?" Ginny asked, still perplexed.
"She said she was worried about you and felt bad that she couldn't be there for you herself," seeing the look of hope on Ginny's face she cautioned, "I don't know if she feels about you the way you do her but I know she cares about you Ginny." She watched her friend's face closely and added; "I think though... she might feel the same, she just doesn't know it yet."
"What makes you say that?" Ginny asked curious, wondering when and how they had started to talk about this like her own feelings for Hermione were a foregone conclusion.
"She may be older than you Gin but sometimes highly intelligent people like her... they don't recognize what's right there in front them."
"I don't know Loony... I don't feel very young these days... last year, it aged me I think..."
"I think it might be more than that..." Luna replied pensively.
"I'm sorry... what?"
"You said Tom was sixteen when he wrote the diary, right?" Ginny nodded, unsure of where her friend was going with this. "Well you had a sixteen year old boy manipulating your dreams. He made you feel things that most eleven years old don't feel, and if they do, they don't understand." Ginny nodded, it made sense. Her vague crush on Hermione had grown from something innocent to downright raunchy in her dreams. Things she wouldn't have considered herself. "So it makes sense that you would figure it out first... your feelings I mean. In some ways, you're older than Hermione."
"How long have you known, Luna?" Ginny asked with a sigh, "About Hermione I mean?"
"Since the first train trip... how you could barely talk in front of her when I normally can't shut you up"
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I wish I had now... maybe you wouldn't have fallen for Tom's crap..." Luna shrugged; "I guess I thought you'd tell me when you were ready."
"I'm still not ready... I'm still sorting out what I feel and what I came to feel because of the dreams..." she turned to her friend, and hugged her. "Thanks Luna... it's nice to know I have someone to talk to that understands."
When they let go Luna added thoughtfully as she watched a pair of post owls heading towards the Burrow; "I don't think Tom made you feel anything you didn't already feel, or would've felt eventually."
"You can't know that Luna," she replied even though she had thought something along the same lines.
"No I do. Tom wouldn't have been able to manipulate your feelings if they weren't there to begin with. And the dreams wouldn't have worked if you didn't like them..." Luna had echoed her own thoughts.
"Doesn't change anything Luna. She doesn't feel the same..." she got up, offering her hand to Luna when she stood.
"And you don't know that... I doubt she does either... can you content yourself with her friendship till she catches up?" She stood and looked in her friend's eyes.
"Yes... I think I can... I'd rather have her friendship than nothing at all..." turning towards the Burrow she added; "C'mon I want to see what those post owls are all about."
As they walked back it occurred to her that Luna hadn't batted an eyelash when she'd admitted her feelings about Hermione. "It doesn't bother you Luna? The feelings I have for Hermione?"
Luna considered her friend for a moment. "Because she's a girl?" Ginny nodded. "It doesn't matter to me Ginny." Ginny looked unconvinced. "You really think I'd be able to fall asleep in your arms every night if the fact that you like girls bothered me?"
"Wait Luna, are you saying... you're a …"
"No, I think I like boys... and I know you have feelings for someone else... I've sometimes wondered if you didn't wish I was her sometimes but I just want my best friend to be happy."
Ginny blushed, she didn't really know what to say. It was true that sometimes she thought of Hermione and being able to hold her the way she did Luna, but she'd never really wished that it was Hermione instead of Luna taking comfort in her arms.
"You truly are amazing Loony... and for the record... I may not feel about you like I do Hermione... but I do get comfort from you being there. I don't know if I can really explain it..."
"You don't need to Gin... I get it..."
When they walked into the house a few minutes later they found the two post owls on the table.
"Ginny," said her mother, "you've got a letter," and handed it to her. As soon as she looked it, she recognized Hermione's handwriting. She looked at Luna and the two took off her to her bedroom to read it, her mother's voice trailing behind her: "Be down for lunch you two... your Dad has a big announcement."
The both sat on Ginny's bed, the letter still in Ginny's shaking hand.
"Well open it..."Luna encouraged. With trembling fingers she did.
"Dear Ginny," she read aloud; "I hope you're doing well. Well, as well as you can be, given all that happened. I was hoping we could write but my parents have surprised me with a trip to France for the summer. I don't know where we'll be staying and I doubt Errol could make the trip anyway. I hope you're getting to spend time with Luna at least. I know your birthday is coming up soon and I'd have sent you your gift with this letter but I haven't quite finished it yet. I'll give it to you in person when I see you on the train... I've been thinking about you a lot and I was wondering if you'd used those diaries Dumbledore gave you. I can understand your reluctance after what happened but I think maybe Dumbledore was right... writing it out might help make it all make more sense. Say "hi" to Luna for me... take care of yourself, Love Hermione."
"What diaries?" Luna asked.
With a start, as she had been staring at Hermione's letter, she realised she'd never shown Luna the diaries and got up to retrieve the small box. Muttering the charm Hermione had taught her the box resumed its normal size. She took out one of the diaries and showed Luna.
Luna took the diary from her friend's hand and inspected it. "Dumbledore gave you these? Why the hell would you give a diary after what happened?" She asked.
"That was my first reaction too... but they're Muggle made and the only thing unusual about them, aside from who gave them to me, is that they have a key."
"Have you written anything yet?"
Ginny shook her head; "I don't know where to start."
Luna had an idea; "Why don't you write in it as if you were writing to Hermione?" She could see Ginny was trying to interrupt her so continued her thought; "When you're ready you could give it her and..."
"And what if someone finds and reads it before I do that? And isn't a cowards way out? Making her read something instead of just telling her?"
"I think we can find a way to charm them that would make it so only you can open it and as for being cowardly, no." She noted her friend's skeptical look. "Well, when you talk to someone you edit your words and change what you're going to say according to their reactions. It takes far more courage to let someone read everything you feel uncensored. I also think Hermione would need to see things written down to understand and give her time to digest it before she reacted."
Ginny considered this for a while. It would be nice to able to tell Hermione everything even if she couldn't do it in person. She doubted she would ever give her the diaries to read but it wasn't a bad idea. "I'll ask my Dad how to charm them... it's a good idea Loony, but I doubt I'd ever let her, or anyone, read them."
"Well at least you'd have the option..." Luna added. They heard Mrs Weasley calling them to lunch. Ginny carefully folded Hermione's note and placed it with her address that had found a home in her pocket.
"Let's go find out what Dad's big announcement is…"
They gathered around the table with the rest of the Weasley clan and waited for her Dad to start. "Well kids, looks like we've finally had a bit of luck." All the Weasley kids and Luna looked at him expectantly. "We've won the Daily Prophet Draw." All the kids looked excited, they never had much money and were already thinking of ways to spend it when Arthur continued; "We're going to give you each a little extra spending money, but, well your mother and I, thought it would be nice to go visit Bill for a few weeks in Egypt," all the kids cheered except for Ginny, who had looked at her friend sadly. Going to Egypt would be cool, but she'd miss Luna. She noticed that Luna seemed to be trying to look happy. After her Dad had explained how they were all going to get there and handed each of the kids twenty galleons, she and Luna went back to her room.
Ginny stared at the gold in her hands, never having held so much money at one time. She looked up to notice Luna looking sad. "What's wrong Loony?"
"Oh it's nothing Ginny, I'm happy for you... I just think Dad is going to use this as an excuse to take me on one of his wild goose trips..." she laughed reluctantly, "rather go with you to Egypt but Dad would never allow it though."
"Yeah that would've been cool... I'll miss you Loony," she added sadly.
To cheer her up Luna suggested Ginny write back to Hermione and let her know about the trip.
"What are you going to do with the money?" Luna asked.
"I don't know... I've never had this much before..." Then a thought struck her; "Hermione's birthday is in September, maybe I'll find her something in Egypt..."
It was the nearing the end of July and Hermione was sitting on the terrace of a cafe with her parents. She was thinking Harry's birthday was coming up and wondering how she was going to get his present to him. She'd ordered it just after she and her parents had arrived in France and had just received the broom servicing kit for Harry. She'd of sent it to the Weasley's to send to but they were in Egypt. With a sigh she remembered the short note she'd gotten from Ginny and wondered how she was doing. She was just about to ask her parents if they could try to track down an owl post when Hedwig, Harry's snow white owl, landed beside her. "Smart bird," she thought.
She and her parents returned to the hotel they were staying at, Hedwig happily riding on her shoulder and causing open mouthed staring from all those they passed, to get Harry's birthday present. It was already wrapped and she wrote a quick letter, adding that she hoped to see him along with the Weasleys in Diagon Alley the day before term started. Ginny had mentioned it in her note.
Hedwig sipped some water and then let Hermione attach the package. "Thanks Hedwig," she said as she took her over to the widow and watched her fly off. She briefly thought of sending Ginny a note as her birthday was coming up too, but sadly realised she was in Egypt, and even though Hedwig was in far better shape that the Weasley owl Errol, it would still be a very long trip. She sighed and looked at her parents.
"What's wrong dear?" Her mother asked.
Hermione loved her parents dearly and missed them while she was at Hogwarts, but the truth was, she missed her friends, and she missed being able to do magic. She had subtly steered her parents towards anything magical during their trip, even trying to visit the French magical school, Beauxbatons. They'd found it, however her parents couldn't see it, as it was magically concealed from Muggles. Hermione had always been curious if her parents would be able to see Hogwarts as she knew it was similarly concealed. But it also confirmed another thing; her parents didn't have an ounce of magical blood between them. She had sighed and tried to describe the school to them. They left when the Headmistress, a woman who looked taller than Hagrid, had approached them. Hermione had explained that her parents were Muggles. The Headmistress, Madame Maxime, had graciously offered to give them a tour anyway, but Hermione declined. Just standing so close to so much magic was making her ache with longing. She missed magic so much.
As they wandered away from the magical school Hermione began thinking about her parents again. It was extremely rare to not have at least one magical relative. Even if one of her parents was secretly a squib, they'd have seen the castle. She'd even considered for a while that maybe she was adopted, but she looked too much like a younger version of her Mom for that to be a case.
After that she stopped trying to go near anything magical for the rest of the trip. She spent her free time doing the homework she'd been assigned for the next year and working on Ginny's birthday present.
Just before they'd left for France Hermione had run into one of her old Muggle schoolmates. She'd lost touch with all her Muggle acquaintances shortly after she'd come back from her first year at Hogwarts. She done it on purpose when she realised that she could never share with them the truth of the life she now led. It was too tiring to lie all the time and so she'd chosen to avoid them.
They'd gone to get some new luggage to accommodate all the books Hermione wanted to bring with her and had run into her former classmate, Lacey, as they left the store. Her mother had left them alone while she went to put their new luggage in the car before they continued their shopping. Hermione and Lacey were sharing some small talk when Hermione noticed a bracelet on her friend's wrist. When she had asked about it she found out it was called a 'Friendship Bracelet'. Muggle children would make them for each other, usually using needlepoint thread, and give them to each other as a sign of friendship. It had made her think of Ginny and so, before they left the mall that day, Hermione had forced her mother to take her to three different stores so she could get as many colors as possible. She was currently working on her tenth one. It was slow going without magic, but despite the bandages on her fingers she was determined to get it just right.