“So you’re still single!?” Aunt Caroline asked outrageously.
Hermione fought the urge to roll her eyes at Aunt Caroline and her pompous way of talking.
“But dear, you’re seventeen already, and you’re a lovely girl! I’m sure if you stopped reading so much and learnt to use your lady charms any boy would like you.”
She had to frown at that, there was just so many things wrong with that sentence. She sent her mum a quick, hopefully discreet, pleading gaze.
“Caroline…” Mrs. Granger addressed her sister-in-law; there was some sort of warning in her voice.
“Oh, yes, yes, I forgot about your ‘condition’, dear. A real pity, isn’t it?” She replied nonchalantly.
Now Hermione was getting angry, she was sick of repeating this conversation over and over. This was why she hated going to her aunt’s for tea; she didn’t even know why she hadn’t made up an excuse when she and her mother had been invited today. Her mother was so much better at handling Aunt Caroline, maybe because she, at least, was respected by her.
The young witch had to stop herself from replying to that, in order not to offend her aunt.
“You know, you should reconsider your choices, I could introduce you to some nice boys you would certainly like.”
Okay, that was enough. She took a deep breath and answered calmly “Sexuality is not a choice, Aunt Caroline. And even if it was I think I would still prefer girls.” Even if it came with having to stand my own family talking like this to me. She didn’t say out loud.
She almost chuckled at her aunt’s indignant gasp.
She had came out to his friends last year, after years of knowing it and keeping it to herself, and her insecurities (especially respecting Ron) had been proven wrong when they told her they had no problem with it. That had prompted her to tell her mother, with whom she was very close, and her mother had talked her into making it official to the entire family last summer. They were a pretty tight family after all, and some of them had taken it very well, but a few others, like Aunt Caroline, were skeptical to say the least.
“But how do you know, dear, if you had never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend?”
“That’s just something you know, Caroline.” Mrs. Granger replied tiredly for her daughter.
“But if she hasn’t tri-” her aunt began but was crudely interrupted by Hermione, who couldn’t take it anymore.
“Well, I’m in love so I know how it is!” she spoke up without thinking; her eyes widening the instant the words left her mouth. Well, it wasn’t completely a lie; she did like someone, but to say that she was in love…
The two women sitting on the other couch stared at her with equally surprised eyes.
“Oh, so you do have a girlfriend!” her aunt said sounding very pleased for a woman who was so skeptical about homosexuality a second ago.
Hermione almost gaped “What? No! What? I haven’t said-“
Aunt Caroline strange high-pitched laughter cut off her babbling. Oh god, she was babbling now, how had the conversation turned to this? “Well, dear, be sure to bring her to the Christmas family gathering, everyone will be delighted to meet her!” she said, oddly excited about the prospect.
“Oh, Hermy, that’s fantastic!” That was her mother, who also seemed pretty excited about this supposed new girlfriend of her.
Seeing her mother like that she knew there was only one thing she could say “Of course, I’ll bring her.” She added a little nervous smile to that sentence. “So, dad told me little Ewan began school this year?”She asked quickly about his aunt’s grandson before any of them could continue asking her questions.
And with a knowing glance from her mother, she successfully changed the topic.
Later, when they had come back to their house, she caught her mother sending her a disappointed smile, but didn’t say anything. Hermione couldn’t tell if it was because she knew she was lying or because she hadn’t talked to her about liking anyone.
But it seemed that her mother was not about to just let the topic be. The next day she began asking questions. Questions Hermione had not answers for, and if there was something Hermione hated was not having answers for a question. What’s her name? Younger or older? Is she pretty? Is she smart? Does her family know? The Gryffindor had decided that the best course of action was to answer to everything with a “You’ll meet her soon”.
In the end, after much thinking, she had decided that of all of her girl friends the better fit for the role of girlfriend was the one she actually liked like that, not knowing that later on she will scold herself for belittling the ‘feelings factor’. This all spelt disaster in bold, capital letters.
And as she was one of those people who believed in the saying ‘don’t put off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today’ she found herself writing a short letter that evening with a simple ‘can I come visit Monday? I need to talk to you’ and send the owl off with entirely much more nervousness than was pertaining for such a plain message.
What have I gotten myself into? She sighed and flopped on her bed, looking at the desktop calendar on her night stand. Saturday. She closed her eyes.
The next morning was absolute hell; she had not felt so restless in a long time. She couldn’t stop pacing back and fro in her room, wringing her hands. And it wasn’t like it was that much of a big deal, right? She was only going to ask her witch crush to fake-date her for a muggle family gathering for a week, nothing else. Oh, God, what was she doing? She put her hands on her head and took calming breaths. She was panicking! Wait, she was a Gryffindor for Merlin’s sake! She could do this. There were more important things to be worrying about right now, like the upcoming N.E.W.Ts next year for example. Yes, that was a good idea; she should be studying for those, she knew studying would do her good.
And so she spent all day doing just that; never thinking about crushes or family gatherings.
Come Monday she found herself hesitating in front of the fireplace. Her mother was there with her, looking a little worried. The young witch bit softly on her lower lip, gazing at the bowl of Floo powder in her hand as if it had tried to bite her.
“You know, Hermy, I’ve never seen you so anxious about someone. This girl must be really something.” Mrs. Granger smiled encouragingly, and with the air of a mother that knew exactly what was crossing her daughter’s mind she continued “I know it’s a big deal to ask your partner to meet your family. If she feels pressured and doesn’t want to come there’ll be more family gathering in the future, no problem, there’s no haste. But if she cares about you the way you deserve I’m sure she’ll say yes.”
“Thanks mum.” Hermione replied, having some comfort in her mother being so supportive about all this, and feeling guilty once again about lying to her. She took a deep breath, feeling her muscles relax the tiniest bit. “I’m going now.”
She kissed her mum’s cheek and watched her wave goodbye as she pronounced the address and disappeared in the green smoke.
Mrs. Weasley was waiting for her in front of the fireplace, smiling sweetly when she saw her.
“Welcome, dear. Ginny told me you were coming, but you could have come a bit later, I’m afraid nothing could wake Ron this early in the morning.”
“It’s ten o’clock.” Hermione voiced out, somehow not surprised in the least.
“As I said, too early for him.” Mrs. Weasley replied merrily. “Want to wait a little in the sitting room? I can make you a tea.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley, but I’m actually here to see Ginny.” She corrected the woman, wringing her hands behind her back impatiently, they were a bit sweaty.
“Oh, then you’ve come too early for that too. I’m afraid I’m the only morning person in this family” she joked, and the brunette had to smile at that. It was good seeing Mrs. Weasley in such a good mood. “But you can go upstairs and wake her up, I’m sure she won’t mind.”
She had to tell herself to stay calm and not rush up the stairs, climbing them at a moderate pace. Then she stood at the door, replaying on her mind the way she was going to do this before willing herself to enter.
The first thing she noticed when she peeked her head in was the classical sweet but light essence of yuzu flowers associated with her crush’s perfume. She closed her eyes, taking it in, wondering yet again when exactly had Ginny go from being a friend to being her crush. It was probably all fault of this damn sweet smell, she knew it. Something moved to her right and she looked just in time to see the redhead rolling on the bed under the red quilt, curled on her side facing her, still sleeping like a baby. The sunlight coming from the window made her hair sparkle and gave her skin an ethereal look. She looked so feminine and pretty, the brunette felt a great fondness overcome her heart. She approached her without even thinking, as if she had been enchanted by her.
Hermione stood by the head of Ginny’s bed and observed the contour of her pale face against the baby blue and yellow spotted pillow. If she had looked more intently she would had noticed the yellow spots were actually golden snitches, but she was too busy admiring the redhead’s profile.
How could someone had such impossibly long eyelashes? She bent in closer, probably intending to count each one of her adorable freckles, she didn’t know. God, she sounded like a love-struck teenager now! But wasn’t that what she was, anyway? She didn’t care anymore, because she was so close now she could felt the younger’s breath on her cheek, and her gaze flickered automatically to her mouth, and there was some sort of fluttering in her stomach, but Hermione knew she wouldn’t ever kiss that mouth without its owner’s consent. She let out a sigh. If she just liked her back all wou-
Blue eyes suddenly snapped open and with simultaneous gasps both of them jumped as far apart from each other as they could, the Weasley girl grabbing her wand from her night stand in the process and pointing it out of reflex to whoever was there.
When her sleepy haze had passed and she recognized the brunette she relaxed and threw her wand on the bed. “For Merlin’s beard, Hermione, you startled me!” she exclaimed, flopping back down, and suddenly started laughing out loud.
The older Gryffindor chuckled at the situation, suddenly remembering why she was here, but feeling more at ease in Ginny’s presence. After all she was her female best friend. “You always point your wand to whoever tries to wake you up?” she asked in a joking manner, biting her lower lip softly while trying to think of the best way to bring up the topic.
The redhead waited until her laugh died to reply. “Well, it’s usually one of my brothers trying to sneak in and pull a prank on me, so yes, you bet I do.” She winked at her; shrugging like it was no big deal. She stared at the older girl for a second “Oh!” she exclaimed as she sat up “You came to talk with me, didn’t you?” she remembered and patted the spot beside her on the bed in a clear invitation to sit.
Hermione did as much. “Yes, I did…” she affirmed, if a little hesitantly.
“It seemed urgent by the way you wrote it” the other remarked. “And given that you wrote me and not my brother I’m guessing it’s a girls matter?”
“Kind of, yes…”
“So?” Ginny prompted. The brunette didn’t answer. “Herms” she sighed, shifting closer and putting her arm around Hermione’s shoulders. The shirt of her orange pajama rose up with her arm, and the older girl felt her eyes focus on the now visible patch of pale skin on the left lower side of her flat belly. She quickly looked up, ignoring the way the muscles of her stomach clenched, and noticing how close they were she shifted a little away from her, but Ginny didn’t seem to notice (or completely ignored it) as she continued. “You know you can tell me anything, right? I won’t judge you or joke about it. And I would try my best to help you.” She reassured her.
“Okay.” She replied, sincerely thankful of having a friend like Ginny. But what if she ruined everything by telling her what she came to say? No, stop that nonsensical thought right there, Granger. “This is… I… Oh, to hell with it! Ineedyoutofakedateme” she finished in a breath.
“What? Sorry I didn’t catch the last bit” the younger blinked, a little surprised that the older one had just swore. She had never heard her swear before.
“I came here to ask you to be my fake-date for a week.” Honestly, it was much easier thinking it than saying it. It sounded so bizarre out loud.
“Ehm?” the redhead blinked again, a little lost. “Care to elaborate?”
Hermione sighed resigned. “There was some misunderstanding last Friday and my mother and aunt now think I have a girlfriend and told me to bring her to the Christmas family gathering, and they are kind of excited about it so I don’t want to disappoint them. Moreover, I don’t want them to know I was lying.” Truthfully, she was angry at herself for not correcting them when she could.
“So you thought to ask me?” she asked, clearly wondering why her.
“I trust you” the brunette answered simply, thinking but not saying that she actually thought she would look more in love if she was faking it with someone she actually liked like that.
“I see” the other responded, contemplating the situation in silence for some minutes. At that moment Hermione was so anxious she was seconds away from biting her fingernails. “So that’s it?” Ginny asked her suddenly.
“That’s it?” Hermione parroted, perplex. “That’s it!? Ginny, you think this is easy for me?” she questioned, shocked.
“No, of course not!” the redhead replied defensively. “It just, I don’t know, I thought it was something serious.”
“You think this isn’t serious?” the brunette got up from the bed, shock only increasing.
“No, but, you come to me and tell me it’s urgent and a girls matter, and you seemed so hesitant, Herms, I thought you were pregnant or something!” she said bursting into laughter.
Hermione looked positively scandalized by now. She grabbed the golden snitch themed pillow from behind the other girl “Ginevra Molly Weasley” she began hitting her with her fluffy weapon. “You really think” hit “that I am” hit “as irresponsible” hit “as to get” hit “pregnant” hit “at seventeen” hit “even though I’m a lesbian” hit.
Meanwhile the redhead just giggled and tried to block the pillow with her arms. “Hey, Herms, hey, calm down. Hey, hey! Calm down” she said the last words on her most serious tone, and Hermione didn’t believe in Horoscopes but experience had taught her not to cross the line when a Leo was serious. “I was worried about you, that’s all. The worst case scenarios came to my mind. Besides, you are so pretty there has to be thousands of boys and girls wanting to bang you.” She smirked teasingly.
Hermione blushed prettily and flopped down on the bed again, making Ginny bounce a little. “Okay, you are forgiven” she declared weakly, throwing the pillow away, and mumbled lowly “So little faith in me…” while rolling her eyes.
Ginny smiled at that and they fell into a comfortable silence for a while.
“I’ll do it.” The redhead said then at last, breaking the silence.
“What?” the other asked absentmindedly, not having expecting her to talk. Oh, that! How could she have just forgotten? “You’ll do it? Are you serious?” she looked at the girl, who just nodded, smile still in place.
“Do you know what you are getting into?” Another nod. “My family is big, and will try to intimidate you, you know? To be sure you are good for me and all that nonsense. And some of them aren’t too happy about lesbians existing outside of porn.”
That got her a laugh. “Bigger than mine?” the redhead asked her cheekily “Besides you’ll be there to protect me.” She winked at her, bumping their shoulders together.
Hermione chuckled and wondered briefly were had the shy little girl of old gone, how has she become so sassy.
“She grew up” the younger explained, making Hermione realize she had said it out loud. Then her crush was laughing again, and she smiled warmly, deciding it was a sound she could hear forever.
“Doesn’t the fact that you’ll be lying bother you?”
“Nah, I’ll be fun, like acting on a play. And when it’s over you just have to wait a little and then tell your family we’ve broken up.”
“But you’ll be surrounded by muggles; you won’t know how to act.”
“So teach me.” She shrugged it off.
“Don’t you have to ask your mother if you can go, though?”
In the end, Ginny dragged Hermione down with her to ask her mother, and after some pleading, thanks to the redhead’s mastered puppy eyes (honestly, who could say no to those), and Mrs. Weasley’s deep trust on Hermione and the good mood she was in that day, she agreed, albeit reluctantly, to let her daughter spend Christmas away from the family for the first time.
“And~, when is this family gathering supposed to be?” The younger asked when they were finally in the safety of her room again. Both lying side by side on the bed, but as far from each other as two people could be in a single-sized bed, courtesy of Hermione.
“Ah, it’s from the 23rd to the 29th of December.”
“23rd!? But that’s tomorrow! Were you planning on telling me at the last minute!?” This time it was Ginny the one using the pillow as a weapon, and Hermione’s laughter, bright and cheerful, could be heard even two floors down.
When they calmed down they rushed to pack Ginny’s bag (“warm clothes, the heating does not always work where we are going”) and prepared themselves thoughtfully for the week, which included a description list of the most important/threatening members of the Granger family, a reenact of the most probable questions they’ll be asked, and some basic muggles knowledge.
The next morning began with a long argument about the advantages and disadvantages of bringing a wand to a muggle family gathering, which Hermione obviously won because “you are only going to get weird looks for going around with a stick, besides is perfectly safe there!”
And so the pretense began, and Ginny somehow found herself sitting in the back of the Grangers’ conventional car. Wandless, to her chagrin. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were really excited to meet her daughter’s first girlfriend. Which was kind of cute, but also a tad awkward as they wouldn’t stop trying to make small talk with her, and she wasn’t really good at that but kept being as polite as she could. She needed to look like a girl in love, nervous about the possibility of doing something wrong in front of her partner’s family. It wasn’t hard, though she could barely contain her laughter at the faces Crookshanks, who was inside his carrier on the floor between Hermione and herself, pulled every time they drove over a bump on the road. And she did laugh out loud when she discovered Hermione’s parents called her ‘Hermy’, much to the brunette’s embarrassment and the adults’ amusement.
After some hours, they drove pass the town the redhead knew was supposed to be their destination (barely big enough to have a supermarket), and soon the concrete road changed to a bumpy dirt road across the forest that made Ginny wonder several times if all muggle’s ways of transportation were this uncomfortable. She actually asked it out loud, and all the response she got was Hermione’s parents laughs (they probably thought it was a joke) and her friend’s sympathetic smile.
Finally, fifteen minutes later, just as the young Gryffindor was beginning to feel queasy, the car stopped on the terrain of ground in front of a moderately big house. Ginny didn’t waste any time in getting out of the car and stretching her tired limps. She admired the two story house while she did. The colours were all faded out with time and weather hardships, but the outside walls had been all clearly red bricks, the roof had maroon tiles and a chimney could be seen. It had wide white windows, and there were vines climbing the walls everywhere. There was a big wooden white door on the front, the paint cracked in various places. It had a balcony on the second floor, right above the front door. It was just and old house lost in the middle of the woods, but she couldn’t help but think it was pretty cool.
There were two other cars parked on the terrain of ground apart from theirs, and the freckled girl wondered how many will they be in the end. They entered the house, and it appeared the front door gave to a small kitchen. She saw more than heard Hermione ask someone about their room then nod at Ginny to follow her, saying “Let’s leave our bags in our room”. They crossed a big room Ginny didn’t have time to appreciate and climbed the stairs. The second floor’s floor was wooden, as well as all the doors and most of the furniture on the house, and the redhead couldn’t count how many rooms there were before they arrived to theirs.
The first thing Ginny noticed about the room was that it only had one queen-sized bed. She asked about it.
“Yeah, I know, they probably think that because we are two girls we won’t do anything inappropriate.”The brunette replied, a little upset about their family’s sexism, as she put Crookshanks’ carrier on the bureau and let him free.
Not sure of what to reply to that, the younger one decided to comment “To be honest, I was hoping we would get the room with the balcony.” This room had faded pink flowery wallpaper, a bureau with a chair near to the window in front of her, a chests of drawers on the opposite wall, and small table with a some weird thing on it (a TV, Hermione informed her) facing the bed.
“Oh no,” Hermione chuckled “That’s Aunt Claire’s room. But to be fair, they gave us the second best room of the house, at least we don’t have to share with anyone. I think they are trying to impress you. Though I believe the TV doesn’t work.” She said in an accomplice tone. “Well, it’s best if I start introducing you to everyone now that there are few people yet.”
They climbed down the stairs and this time Ginny did have time to admire the big room. It seemed to act as a dining and living room. The wallpaper was gold with little birds’ motifs; there was a large dining table by the kitchen’s door and on the other wall a fireplace with a TV surrounded by two old sofas and an even older-looking armchair where an elderly woman sat knitting. There was another table, smaller and round, near a sliding glass door that led to the garden. There where curtains in all the windows, white and flowery patterned, the stairs in one corner and another door which the young Gryffindor thought led to this floor’s bathroom.
She was observing all the photos that were literally everywhere on the walls, trying to find one of her fake girlfriend, when she was interrupted be a squeal. She looked around in time to see a little kid, looking no more than five years old, running towards them and shouting ‘Mione!’
She looked in amazement as the brunette knelt down and met the child in a hug, frowning. She thought Hermione didn’t like kids, but she seemed quite fond of this one, smiling indulgently as they greeted each other. “Ginny,” Hermione addressed her “This is little Ewan, the youngest member of the family” the dark haired kid pouted at being called little, and Ginny had to admit he was very cute “Ewan, this is Ginny, my girlfriend.” She said openly. The younger girl heard an indignant gasp and some woman voice telling Hermione to ‘not say those things in front of the kid’ and the brunette replied back but Ginny couldn’t tell what she said as she was too busy with the child, who had stretched her hand at her.
The redhead bent down, offering her hand to him, thinking he wanted a handshake, but little Ewan took her hand and pulled, so Ginny obediently kneeled down on the floor. Then the kid got closer to her and gave her a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Hi” he said shyly after pulling back, and Ginny was positively enamored with him.
“Ginny” she looked up at being called. Hermione looked like she was exasperated but trying very hard to conceal it so she gave her a questioning glance before getting up. “This is my aunt Caroline” the other continued.
“Nice to miss you, ma’am.” She offered her hand for a handshake. The woman took it.
“My pleasure, dear.” Was the disinterested reply as Aunt Caroline looked her up and down, unnerving the redhead. In the end she gave her a tight smile. “Have a good time here. Come on, Ewan!” Little Ewan looked up startled and followed hesitantly, turning his head to look back at Ginny and Hermione as he went, almost crashing against a chair. The girls giggled and Ginny gave him a little wave with one hand, which make him beam, hurrying to the kitchen after his grandmother.
Three more cars came throughout the day, and by the evening there were about sixteen people in the house, Hermione taking care of properly introducing Ginny to everyone. Most of them had been nice people; she informed her fake girlfriend when they were in bed that night, even if some of them had given her weird looks. Everyone seemed to quickly find something to do, not paying them much attention except from some curious stares now and then, and the girls had spent most of the day playing dominoes and chatting with Hermione’s great aunt, Aunt Claire as they called her, and Grandma Hilda, the elderly woman she had seen on the armchair when she first arrived. Both were terrible gossips, and Ginny learnt more about the family than she honestly cared about.
Ginny hadn’t known how to play dominoes at first, but the elders had apparently taken great pleasure in teaching her. It was a simple enough game and Ginny found she was quite good at it. Grandma Hilda had seen it too, and at some point demanded that the play two against two and refused to be paired with anyone that wasn’t the redhead. Grandma Hilda was awfully competitive, and was miffed with her sister, that usually won. They won multiple times. It had been a really nice evening.
“You don’t know how gratefully I am with you, Ginny.” Hermione told her in a soft voice later that night, after the younger finished talking about something or other. “Honestly, thank you for doing this. You were wonderful.”
Ginny just shot her a warm smile, even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to see it in the dark. “I saw what you did today” she said slyly. Hermione had been following her all day long, always keeping an eye on her. “You know I won’t disappear if you let me out of your sight for a minute, right?”
“I’m more afraid that they kill you.” The other joked, yawning, obviously tired due to the long road trip. She herself was feeling pretty knackered. The heating wasn’t working that night, so they huddled together under several quilts, trying to share body heat.
Ginny fell asleep to her friend’s soft snores and the warmth of a cat beside her thighs, feeling, all in all, pretty content.
The next day Hermione woke up to a tuff of hair in her face. She wrinkled her nose, containing a sneeze, and pushed Crookshanks out of her pillow. She yawned, trying to stretch her arms, but a weight on her left one prevented her from doing so. She looked down to see a red head resting on her left breast, and could feel an arm going across her belly to her hip and a leg on top of hers. The brunette started feeling that fluttering on her stomach again. It was a pity she couldn’t see Ginny’s face from this angle.
She felt extremely bad about waking her up, but her arm was starting to get numb.
She said the other’s name softly a couple of times, to no avail, so she started shaking her shoulder slightly. The younger moaned in protest but opened her blue eyes and looked up at her. “Morning” she greeted with a husky voice.
“Good morning” Hermione replied. They stared at each other lovingly for a long moment, then she cleared her throat and got up, going to the window, hoping that Ginny was still too sleepy to have noticed anything weird. She found out there were at least two feet of fresh snow outside. She sighed contently at the view of the forest covered in white.
“Wow, this is really pretty” Ginny voice out in awe from her side, and Hermione looked at her to see those beautiful blue eyes sparkling with glee and could only smile sweetly at the redhead.
They had gotten up at rush hour (a.k.a. the hour when everyone started to wake up) and thus had to participate in the mythical fight for the bathroom of the Granger’s Christmas family gatherings. It was what happened with sixteen people in a house with only two bathrooms. They had also had to take turns to eat breakfast, because the kitchen was too small to fit more than four people at a time.
After breakfast all the cousins decided to start a competition about who could make the biggest snowman of all. That, of course, had ended in an epic snowball fight. Hermione kept getting hit, because she sometimes got distracted by the graceful way her fake girlfriend dodged the snowballs being thrown at her or how her hair shone on the sunlight. They didn’t stop until the first bunch (they had to divide themselves in two bunches to eat) was called for lunch.
“My stomach hurt from so much laughing” Ginny told her blissfully when they were entering the house, and Hermione hadn’t know that seeing her crush having a good time with her family was going to make her so happy, but she wasn’t complaining.
“So, how did you two know each other?” The awkward questions began when they were sitting at the table. The younger witch had looked a little taken aback at this, but Hermione was expecting it, knowing better than to think they were going to get away without them just because nobody had asked anything the first day. The entire table fell silent to hear their answer.
“She is one of my best friends’ sister.” The brunette retorted with ease.
“What did you feel when you first met each other?” her cousin Lydia, fifteen and a romantic at heart, asked after.
“We got along instantaneously, becoming fast friends.” Hermione said calmly, even though she was feeling all but calm under everyone’s eyes. Lydia seemed kind of disappointed at the answer, probably having expected something more fairytale-like.
“Even though I was much more shy back then” the freckled girl added, making everybody chuckle.
“Which one asked the other out?” one of her aunts wanted to know.
“Ginny did.” The older Gryffindor smiled as honestly as she could, discreetly drying her sweaty hands on her skirt. Lying was so trying. “She beat me to it. I was too shy to do it faster, as I had no experience with relationships.” She blushed and several of her female relatives ‘aww’-ed at that.
“And how did you fell in love?” Was the next question. Everyone looking expectant at the answer, and the girls looked at each other awkwardly.
“Well, I knew I liked her since the second I met her,” It was Ginny who spoke “but at that time I was kind of infatuated with her best friend, not my brother” she was quickly to correct, grimacing at the mere thought “but with the other one. And it took me a while, but during the ball our school hosted two years ago, she looked so radiant and beautiful in her dress and her hair was really nicely done and…” she trailed off, flushing, and Hermione couldn’t do anything but stare at her, blushing even harder herself. They had practiced this question over and over the other day, and she had already known what the other was going to say, but still, there was such sincerity in the redhead’s eyes it made her heart constrict. Hermione hadn’t known the other one was this good at lying. “That was when I knew I liked her as more than a friend.” Ginny finished, looking right back at her with loving eyes. They stared at each other’s eyes mesmerizingly for a long moment.
“So, going to what we all really want to know. Is lesbian sex truly that good?” Andrew, thirteen years old and totally shameless, interrupted them.
Hermione couldn’t believe she had just been asked that and she diverted her eyes from her supposed girlfriend, cheeks as red as tomatoes, just as Aunt Caroline’s horrified gasp was heard and she covered her grandson’s ears as quickly as possible, but it was too late. “What’s lesbian? What’s sex?” Little Ewan asked innocently, and her grandmother immediately hushed him and told him to ‘not say those words ever again’. The brunette concentrated her best not to think about sex with Ginny while surrounded by most of her family.
Thankfully, everyone focused on scolding Andrew and then the topic changed to a safer one.
Not long after everybody had eaten lunch Grandma Hilda gathered every one of her grandchildren (and her great-grandson) on the living room and declared it was time to decorate the Christmas tree her father and uncles had brought. Someone turned on the DVD with her great aunt’s new CD of Christmas hits and the older cousins brought down the boxes with ornamentation from the storage room. Soon the living room was filled with laughter, singing and bright Christmas colours.
Hermione sat on the sofa with her grandmother, sipping warm tea and occasionally singing along. She watched the redhead hoist up little Ewan, who giggled merrily, to help him put the star on the top of the tree. The child was clearly infatuated with her; he had been following her around all day like a duckling and chatting with her a mile per minute, much to Aunt Caroline’s chagrin, who was obviously torn between not wanting his grandson to be ‘tainted’ (as she put it when someone asked) by the homosexuals girls and wanting him to be happy. Ginny seemed to be equally enamored with him, patiently responding to all his questions and giggling at all he said.
The brunette was not about to admit out loud that she was jealous, but oh she was. As much as for not receiving that much attention from Ginny as because it used to be her little Ewan followed everywhere. She was so lost in her thought she didn’t notice someone sitting beside her until she was addressed. “Hermione” Lydia called her “I wanted to ask you something.”
“Ask away” she told her, wondering what was crossing her cousin’s mind.
“I’ve seen Ginny and you look at each other, and is very evident you are deeply in love” Lydia said matter-of-factly, and Hermione blushed yet again, she was blushing entirely too much lately. Still it was clear there was something the younger was hesitant about asking her. “And you, you touch and all that, I know, but always casually, skittishly, not, not like lovers do” she looked at her with worry in her eyes “Are you too fighting?”
Hermione opened her mouth, not sure how to respond to that and feeling immensely guilty about making her cousin worry for a lie. She hadn’t known they had been doing that wrong.
“That’s not your business, young lady.” Her grandmother, who had obviously been listening to their conversation, answered for her. “Besides, I’m sure they are just nervous about all this, right Hermione?” She nodded, sending her grandma a grateful smile. She knew her grandma had been observing them, especially Ginny, trying to assert if she was worthy of her granddaughter.
“Thanks for worrying, Lyds, but it’s all alright. Just as grandma says we are just nervous.”
Just then Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas it’s you’ began to play and she saw Ginny look up. She knew the younger witch didn’t know that much muggles songs but she clearly knew this one. She began singing aloud happily, but about to get to the chorus she stopped and her eyes sparkled with trademark Weasley mischievousness. Uh uh, Hermione knew that look, it meant trouble.
The redhead got up from her where she had been putting ornaments on the tree and began singing and dancing slightly, using her fist as a microphone. And when Mariah sung the ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ part she actually pointed at Hermione. The brunette could feel her ears turn red and she had to bit her lips to prevent a smile. Didn’t she have any shame? Even when the chorus finished Ginny kept singing, walking up to where her supposed girlfriend was and pulling her up, bringing her to the center of the room, all the while serenading her the song and pointing at her on all the ‘you’s.
Hermione hid her face in her hands when she couldn’t keep a serious look anymore, blushing brightly and laughing hard, shoulders shaking. She was pretty sure Ginny was also having a hard time not to laugh. Except for the few that were sending them disapproving glares, all her family was looking at them amused, some straight out laughing, some smiling, Lydia dreamily like she wanted something like that for her too.
Ginny bowed as the song ended and everyone clapped their hands, the brunette punching her on the arm teasingly and making her laugh. They all went back to their business.
In the end they decorated the entire house. It was snowing outside, and it finally felt like Christmas.
The morning of the 25th they were abruptly woken up at 7am by little Ewan jumping up and down on their bed, screaming “It’s Christmas Day!” cutely over and over again.
It appeared the younger children of the house had taken care of waking up the entire family, and before 8am all were sitting in the living room, many of them in the floor as there were not enough seats, waiting for Grandma Hilda’s famous hot chocolate (because ‘It’s a tradition! Nobody move a muscle until I have it ready!) to open the presents. And there were lots of presents beneath the small Christmas tree. The kids kept bouncing up and down on their places on the floor in excitement.
Ginny actually moaned in pleasure when she tasted the hot chocolate, to her grandma’s delight, effectively filling Hermione’s mind with inappropriate thoughts as her cheeks reddened. When everyone had a mug in their hands, and there was a table full of Christmas pastries, her uncle George appeared, dressed as Santa Claus (it seemed it was his turn this year), and began handing out the presents.
Hermione received mostly clothes and cheap jewelry, and was worried Ginny was getting bored, as nobody knew she was coming and hadn’t brought presents for her, but as she looked up from opening yet another pair of socks she saw her laughing and helping little Ewan, who was trying very hard to hold all his new toys in his arms at the same time to no avail. The redhead noticed her stare and went up to her with a still-wrapped present in her hands. She dropped it in her lap. The brunette stared hard at the present before looking up to the other and raising a questioning brow.
“It’s my present for you” the blue eyed girl shrugged “Open it, come on”
“Okay, okay.” Hermione agreed as she unwrapped the gift. It was a teddy bear with his eyes hidden in his front paws as if it was embarrassed. It has a white sweater that spelled ‘love’ in red letters. Hermione stared at it for a while, feeling moved.
“Well, do you like it?” the younger said impatiently.
“It wonderful” She knew she was going to treasure it for a long time. “Thanks, Ginny. You didn’t have to.” she said softly.
The other shook her head “I wanted to.”
She quickly gathered all her presents and, telling the younger to wait there, rushed up the stairs, leaving them on their bed and running back down with a small pink plastic back on her hands. “This is for you” she told her, a bit out of breath.
Ginny didn’t waste a minute in opening it, finding inside a leather bracelet with silver beads. There were little horses engraved on the beads. “Thank you, I love it” she said at the older’s expectant gaze. “Put it on me?” she asked offering her left wrist. Hermione did and they stared at each other’s eyes once again before little Ewan came demanding Ginny’s attention again.
The redhead spent the afternoon playing with the kid and his new toys as Hermione played ‘Go Fish!’ with some of her cousins.
More cars arrived that evening. “People that couldn’t make it all the week coming just for the Christmas dinner.” She explained to the blue eyed girl “They will stay the night and go home in the morning” she only laughed when the other widened her eyes and asked, incredulous “Where are they gonna sleep?”
There weren’t enough chairs for them all so they decided to put the food on the dining table so that everyone helped themselves to what they wanted and sat wherever they could. It was all pretty cramped, and there was a lot of noise with all the talking, laughter and Christmas music. The younger girl told her, amused, that it was fun seeing all the people sitting on the floor on their best clothes, and she laughed when the brunette reminded her they were doing it too.
They were sat on the four step of the garland-adorned stairs, and Ginny was giggling, trying not to move as little Ewan was asleep on her lap even with all the noise, at the brown eyed girl hardships at trying to catch a green pea with her plastic fork. And at that time Hermione thought that those moments spend with the redhead were worth all the lying.
Later that night, when most of the people had gone to sleep, she sat on the sofa sipping Christmas punch, hearing the ballads on the radio and pondering about her feelings. What she felt towards the blue eyed girl was getting stronger with every moment they spend together. She was worried that any moment now an ‘I love you’ would slip from her lips, for it had crossed her mind a few times already.
A hand appeared in her field of vision and dissipated her thoughts. She looked up to see the girl she had been thinking about staring at her. “Can I have this dance?” she was asked sweetly, and Hermione put her punch aside and took the offered hand without hesitation.
Then they were dancing, bodies close and moving slowly in sync, her hands around Ginny’s shoulders and the redhead’s on her waist. The younger was wearing a close-fitting, V-neck, knee length blue dress. It made her eyes stand out and she was extraordinarily beautiful in it. Hermione herself wore a strapless red puffy dress that went on until mid-thigh, with a lace tied on the left side of the waist, and black tights. They were both freezing but neither of them seemed to care at the moment.
Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t help falling in love’ was playing from somewhere as they stared in each other’s eyes. “You are very pretty in that dress” the younger commented in a whisper “Just like the day I fell in love with you.”
Hermione felt the fluttering in her stomach get ten times stronger and she couldn’t tell if that was a joke. It must be because the redhead couldn’t possibly like her back, but the other was staring at her lips, licking her own in a nervous manner, and she didn’t know what overtook her body but she couldn’t help but to lean in.
And they were kissing. It was the simplest kiss, just lips against lips, moving shyly. But for Hermione it was magical, all her body tingling with excitement, her heart beating so loud she thought the other was probably hearing it. Ginny’s lips were so soft against hers, her arms drawing her even closer and she felt loved, wanted, and it was the most wonderful feeling ever. Ginny let out a little sigh, making her shiver with pleasure and then it all downed on her, all that she had been thinking before, all that she was feeling. She loved her. She was in love. Out of a sudden, fear overwhelmed her and she pushed away rather forcefully.
She couldn’t look the other in the face. She fell embarrassed, frustrated with herself, her insecurities streaking her all at once. She wondered if the younger had just been acting, for the sake of their lie. Looking around she saw there were still some people there, so yes, it must have been that. “Hermione?” Ginny whispered, but the brunette didn’t register the confusion in her voice. She was panicking.
“I’m sorry, Ginny, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened, I just, I, the punch was probably spiked, I didn’t know what I was doing” she lied, because what did another lie more on her behalf matter? “I’m sorry” she repeated, and turned around without looking at her, running up the stairs to their room.
She failed to notice the hurt on the bright blue eyes.
Hermione burrowed herself beneath several quilts, trying very hard not to cry, not even changing out of her fancy dress. She was such an idiot.
Ginny entered the room some minutes later and called her name tentatively, but she faked sleep.
That night they slept as far apart from each other as they could, and the heating still wasn’t working, but that was not the only reason Hermione felt so cold.
Ginny woke up on Boxing Day to an empty bed. She frowned before remembering what had happened last night and groaning in despair. Still clad on her pajamas, she went downstairs in search of the older. They needed to talk. Now.
When she reached the living room she found a good amount of people still asleep on the sofas and on the floor on sleeping bags, even if it wasn’t that early in the morning. There was no Hermione to be seen anywhere. The redhead headed then towards the kitchen but a voice stopped her midway.
“Hey, young girl” She turned her head around and saw Aunt Claire sitting on the armchair. Ginny pointed at herself in confusion. “Yes, you” the elder affirmed.
The blue eyed girl went up to woman, careful to not step on anyone. “Can I do something for you?” she asked in a low voice, though she knew that the other couldn’t hear her. Aunt Claire had a light hearing problem, but she couldn’t raise her voice to talk to her due to being surrounded by so many sleeping people. The elderly woman simply passed her an elongate thing and pointed at the turned on TV, talking out loud like there wasn’t anyone with them.
“Put on the subtitles” she ordered.
Ginny just looked at the device in her hand and then at the TV, completely lost on what to do.
“What are you doing? Come on!”
She began to feel pressured, but didn’t know how to tell the woman that she couldn’t do it without waking anyone up.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know how to do it?” Hermione’s great aunt asked then, disappointment on her voice. “You just have to press some button on the remote, don’t know which one.”
The redhead looked down at the ‘remote’. There were lots of buttons on it.
“Come on” she was growing impatient.
A teen got up from the one of the sofas with a long suffering sigh then, and snatched the remote from Ginny’s hands, switching the subtitles on and quickly going back to sleep. Aunt Claire turned her head to the TV and didn’t say anything more.
In that moment Hermione entered the living room, jumping a little in surprised at seeing Ginny there but quickly recovering. “Ginny!” she exclaimed in a fake cheerful voice, and various people groaned. It seemed that nobody cared that they were sleeping. “What are you doing still on your pajamas? We are going to the lake, don’t you remember? Everyone is already ready.”
The redhead hadn’t remembered but now that the other said it, it was true that some of them had agreed on going to the lake today when the snow had thawed. She wanted to ask ‘why didn’t you wake me earlier then?’ but she feared she knew the answer. The older girl was trying to avoid her.
“Herms, we need to-” she began, going straight to the point, not even thinking about how dangerous it would be to talk about the kiss where everyone could listen in, but the other shushed her and pushed her slightly towards the wooden stairs.
“Go, go. I’ll tell the others to wait for you.”
They were around nine people walking across the forest, and the two fake girlfriends followed the others at the rear. Hermione tried to start a conversation several times, undoubtedly wanting to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them, but Ginny was angry and replied only with monosyllables. She was angry that the other was pretending that nothing had happened, like the kiss hadn’t been anything.
It was a painstaking thirty minutes walk.
When they finally reached the lake, Ginny sat on a patch of green grass, ignoring how cold it was as the brunette mingled with her family to take photos. If she hadn’t been so concentrated on being angry she would had taken photos too, with Hermione’s muggle camera, because the sight of the small frozen lake was frankly beautiful. She heard some relatives of the brown eyed girl asking about what happened to her and the other telling them she just wasn’t feeling well. She scoffed.
A while later Hermione finally sat beside her. “Okay, if you keep acting like this my family will think there’s something wrong” she reproached her in a whisper. The redhead just glared at her because there was something wrong.
“I wouldn’t be acting like this if you deigned to talk about last night.” She replied obfuscated.
Hermione sighed. “Okay, let’s talk.”
“Why did you run away after we kissed?” the younger asked, there was no need to beat around the bush, nor had she the patient to do it.
Her supposed girlfriend heaved heavily. “I told you, Ginny. The punch was spiked, I was drunk, I wasn’t thinking.” That, she knew, was a lie. She had drunk punch too and it was normal “It didn’t mean anything anyway; we were just acting, right? It was a mistake.” She shrugged, never looking her in the eye. “What do you care, anyway? You are not my real girlfriend.” She finished curtly, looking around to ascertain that no one had heard her.
Ginny felt a little piece of her heart break at that. That kiss had been marvelous in her opinion; she had never felt like she had felt at that moment. She had been dreaming about kissing the older Merlin knows how many years now, and even if it had been chaste it had surpassed her expectations for a long shot. ‘Why did you run away then, if it wasn’t real?’ she wanted to ask, but she kept quiet. Hermione was right, they weren’t girlfriends for real, and she had been the one to agree to it. She didn’t have the right to tell the other off for it now.
“Okay, then.” She uttered when she was sure her voice wouldn’t break. To be honest, she had only agreed to this because she had thought she could win Hermione’s heart over in the process. But it was obvious it had been useless…
She snapped her head up, mentally slapping herself. What is this bullshit, Ginny Weasley? She asked herself inwardly. It’s not like you to just give up so easily! Yes, that was right. She couldn’t give up now, there were still three and a half days left. She could do it.
She got up energetically and offered her hand to the older Gryffindor to push her up. “Let’s go, I still want to take many photos!” Hermione looked at her astonished, obviously puzzled by her sudden mood change.
And so they spend the morning talking about anything and everything they could think of, taking photos, and laughing whenever anyone slipped on the ice (especially if it was one of them).
They were good again.
In the afternoon Grandma Hilda asked Ginny to help her with her vegetables and the redhead followed her to the small nursery garden behind the house. They were pulling off the withered leaves from the peppers and making small talk when the older suddenly thanked her.
“Oh, it’s nothing” the young witch told her, downplaying it “I always help my mother with her garden too.”
“Not for that” the elder chuckled, eyes soft “I’m thanking you for making my granddaughter happy. I admit I had my doubts about you at first, but in the end it had turned out you are a nice girl. Most of the family loves you already, especially Hermione. I’d had never seen her laugh so much before. You make her happy, and that’s enough for me, so thanks.”
Ginny flushed a little, not knowing how to answer. Grandma Hilda chuckled again and they went back to gardening.
When they come back to the house the freckled girl found her supposed girlfriend sitting on the sofa with her aunt. She headed straight to her and took the chance to sit on her lap, putting her arms around her neck and whispering in her ear “Guess what just happened.”
Late that night they were talking in hushed whispers, gossiping about Hermione’s family and laughing, huddled together despite the fact that the heating was finally working, when someone knocked on their door. They looked at each other surprised, wondering if maybe they had been laughing too loud, and the brunette went to open.
“What are you doing up?” she asked in a loud whisper, and Ginny heard little Ewan’s bubbly voice answering hesitantly.
“Mum and dad are sleeping, and I am scared. Tell me a story?”
“Okay.” Hermione replied indulgently, and they both settled on the bed, the dark haired child between the teenagers. “Which story do you want to hear?”
Ginny smiled at the child’s eager reply, and fell asleep listening to Hermione’s calm voice relating the tale about pirates and children that didn’t grow up, feeling pretty happy and in love.
Unfortunately, the Weasley girl awoke the next day with a high fever. Hermione devoted herself to taking care of her, making her drink Chamomile tea and stay in bed, in equals part because she loved pampering her and because she frankly looked like the dead.
She found a stray old copy of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and spent the morning reading it to Ginny when the younger wasn’t sleeping. The redhead moaned in pain and complained like a little girl who had never been ill before, and Hermione shushed her softly every time and stroke her hair sweetly until she calmed down.
Some of her cousins took pity on her supposed girlfriend by the afternoon (“she is family now after all” someone had said, and Hermione was moved to see they all agreed) and they gathered on their bed and played board games until it was time to go to bed.
“I love your family, you know?” the blue eyed girl commented sleepily, and she feel love, as much for the girl as for her family, overwhelm her.
“Even Aunt Caroline?” she joked.
The redhead made fake gagging noises in response.
The morning of the 28th came, and the younger witch woke up feeling completely renewed, much to the brunette’s relief. She felt like a bad person for feeling slightly disappointed at not being able to fuss over the other anymore, but quickly dismissed the feeling as a ‘love-struck teenager thing’.
They spent the morning in the kitchen with her mum and her uncle George, the adults cooking and the teenagers baking for their last lunch there. Hermione let her thoughts drift to how depressing it was that the week was already over as she whisked the eggs for the cake. It had been a while since she had had that much fun, and she was sad that her days with the redhead were almost over.
She was brought out of her reverie by a sudden wet, warm feeling on her cheek and she looked up startled to see the fifteen years old with a wooden spoon covered in melted chocolate raised in the air, glancing at her with false innocence. The brown eyed girl gasped indignantly when she felt more chocolate hit her cheeks and without thinking it twice she took a handful from the big bag of flour beside her and threw it at the other girl, effectively making the younger squeal. That got her a handful of the carefully measured sugar being thrown at her in return and she couldn’t help but to squeal too.
That’s when the adults looked over at them, her mother immediately scolding them for wasting food and her uncle looking infinitely amused. She could hardly contain her laugh at Ginny’s flour covered sheepish face. They never got to finish the cake.
Ginny spent the afternoon playing muggle chess with her grandfather, most of the time frowning and looking thoughtful, and the brunette thought it was probably because she wasn’t used to moving the pieces by herself.
She was on one the sofas in the late evening, sat sideways with her feet on the sofa, supporting the old copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on her knees, reading it, when the younger Gryffindor came to her and gave her a red rose.
“For you” she said, sitting down next to her “Beware of the thorns.”
“Where did you get it from?” she questioned, curiosity getting the best of her.
“Your grandma’s nursery garden” the other replied, trying to seem nonchalant but undoubtedly nervous about something.
They were silent for a moment, and the brunette was about to get back to her book when she heard the younger mumble ‘it’s now or never’ under her breath.
Hermione left her book and rose aside and put her feet on the ground, sitting properly “Ginny, is everything alright?”
“Yes” the redhead nodded quickly “It’s just that… It’s the last day, right?”
She nodded, confused about the girl’s behavior.
“There is… There’s one thing I’ve wanted to tell for a long time now and…” the younger hesitated “And I wouldn’t be able to forget myself if I let another year go by without saying it.”
Silence again. They were both tense, and Hermione waited for the other to talk, to say what she wanted to say, knowing it was something important.
Somehow it felt like a life-changing moment.
People were whispering around them, having noticed the change on the atmosphere. But she didn’t care, watching the light from the fireplace reflect on scared-looking blue eyes. She could hear the sound of the redhead’s taking a deep breath and, more distantly, Paul McCartney’s ‘Silly love songs’ coming from the radio.
“I love you” someone said, she couldn’t tell if it was Ginny or the song. I couldn’t be Ginny, there was no way it was Ginny, but then it came louder “I love you, Hermione Granger.” And this time it was surely Ginny.
“You..?” Hermione couldn’t believe her ears, and her mouth began moving on her own. “Are you sure?” she heard herself asking stupidly.
“I am” Ginny nodded yet again “And I can tell you for sure that if they made me choose one in a million wonderful people to be in love with I’d still choose you” her voice sounded weird, like she was about to cry.
Silence fell between them for the third time in less than fifteen minutes. Neither knew what to do.
“So” the younger gathered all her courage and got closer to whisper in her ear, so nobody could hear them “Would you date me for real?”
Hermione knew there was only one way to answer that. She threw her arms around the younger and kissed her lovingly. People ‘aww-‘ed at them, but they were too lost on their own world to care. The brunette laughed brightly when they parted “I think you have fever again.”
That night Hermione’s dreams were plagued of soft lips and yuzu flowers.
They were on the car making their way back home when her mother suddenly turned her head to the girls and pointed at their linked hands.
“Are you two together for real at last?” she asked cheekily.
Hermione and Ginny both gaped. “You knew!?” they said in unison.
“Mothers know everything, darlings” Mrs. Granger winked. Her father looked at their faces through the rear mirror and burst out laughing, raising the volume of the radio. The song ‘Love is in the air’ sounding loud and clear.
The brunette sung along carelessly and looked at their linked hands, then up to Ginny, who was staring back at her. They both smiled, and she couldn’t help but wonder how such a crazy and disastrous misunderstanding ended up like this.
As they say, life’s full of surprises.