A/N: I need to up the rating a bit in this one... we'll call it 'naughty' because of a somewhat-love scene between Harry and Ginny.
Thanks to Rainpuddle for the beta, and to those of you who take the time to reply, I really enjoy reading your comments.
Hermione Granger studied the younger woman across the table from her carefully. She had known Ginny Weasley since their early years at Hogwarts, and they'd become friends almost immediately. Even now, they hardly went two days without some sort of communication. All of this went to prove that something was definitely wrong with the redhead. She just wasn't herself anymore.
"Hmmm?" She didn't lift her eyes from the article she was reading. "What is it, Hermione?"
"Is everything okay?"
Ginny stopped reading, but kept her eyes on the paper. If she didn't look at the other woman, maybe she would believe her. "Yes, everything is fine."
Hermione didn't respond immediately, unsure of what to say. It wasn't the first time Ginny had lied to her, and probably wouldn't be the last, but the older witch knew this was important. Whatever was going on with the redhead was too big to ignore. "Ginny, will you put the paper down and look at me?"
At first she hesitated, and then complied. Ginny knew what was coming next, and momentarily thought it might be a good thing. It would be nice to not carry her doubts around anymore.
"Okay," Hermione continued. "I need you to be honest, okay? It's obvious that something is wrong, and I understand you may not want to talk about it, but I promise it'll make you feel better if you do."
"Hermione, you don't have to talk to me as if I'm a child."
The brunette frowned. "That wasn't my intention."
Ginny sighed loudly. "I know. I apologize."
"I'm just concerned, Gin. I've ignored it for a while, hoping you'd work out whatever it is, but I can't any longer. Something is wrong. Why won't you tell me what it is?"
"Hermione, I would if I could, but I can't. I'm not even absolutely sure what it is myself."
"But you have an idea?" her friend questioned.
The redhead nodded.
"Then what do you think is wrong? If you tell me, then we can come up with a solution together."
"It's not that easy. This isn't just about you or me, Hermione. It involves so many more people and I don't want word getting out."
"Do you think I'll tell someone?"
The younger witch shook her head. "I don't think you'll want to. But if I tell you what it is, I don't think you'll be able to stop yourself."
Hermione frowned. "Is it about Harry or Ron?"
Ginny nodded once. "Which is why I can't tell you. If I do, then you'll want to tell them. And I'm not ready for Harry to know."
"Don't you see, I'm trying to stop you from having to choose between your friends? If you don't know, then you can't tell him."
"But I do know something," the brunette argued. "What's to stop me from going to Harry after I leave you and telling him I think something is wrong?"
The other witch paled at her suggestion. "You wouldn't—"
"No, I wouldn't. Because we're friends, Gin. If you don't want me to tell them, no matter how much I want to, then I won't. Honestly, I'm more concerned about you than them right now. Can't you just trust me?"
Ginny stayed quiet, silently considering her options. She knew her friend had a point, and Hermione was loyal to a fault. If she told her, though, she'd have to trust the other woman would remain loyal to her and not Harry. It was a risk she would have to take. "Okay."
"I'll tell you," the redhead conceded. "But if a word of this gets out, then I'll know it was you. Only one other person knows and I don't think they're talking."
Hermione was a little hurt Ginny had told someone else, but wisely kept her mouth closed. She waited for her friend to start talking.
"I have a confession to make. Before Harry asked me to marry him, our relationship wasn't on the best of terms. We were so busy we rarely saw each other. And when we did, it seemed we argued more often than not. Our most common argument was my continued employment at Hogwarts. Harry doesn't seem to understand that I love my job and want to continue teaching. The last time I saw him before winter holiday we'd actually agreed we needed to take a break. We didn't tell anyone, and agreed we'd revisit our relationship while I was home on holiday.
"Harry, however, had other plans. Instead of discussing anything with me, he opted for a flashy proposal in front of my entire family. As I looked around the room, I saw how happy everyone was and felt like I couldn't say no."
"Why not?" Hermione inquired. "Your parents would have understood."
"Would they?" Ginny questioned. "Mum has been planning this wedding since I was ten years old. She was already disappointed because you and Ron couldn't find a way to make it work, so all of her hopes were pinned on Harry and me. I couldn't break her heart."
"Gin, it's your life. You can't let other people influence such big decisions."
"I know." The redhead stopped when the waitress came over to refill their tea. "The funny thing, though, is that after we initially became engaged, I was happy. I really do love Harry. Yes, I had some doubts, but I thought we'd have time to work through those issues before we were married. Then we set a date that was so much earlier than I expected, and now I'm planning a wedding I'm not sure I want. I'm lost, Hermione. I keep telling myself if I just breathe then I'll get through it, but it's not enough. As the wedding gets closer and closer, I become more and more panicked. I don't think I can marry him."
The older witch wasn't sure what to say. She'd thought perhaps Ginny was having some doubts, but nothing on this level. "Do you love him?"
"Yes," she replied immediately. "It's never been an issue of love."
"Then what's the problem?"
Ginny frowned. She wasn't sure how to put this. "Hermione, what does it feel like when Viktor touches you?"
The brunette smiled. "Electricity."
"What?" Ginny asked, confused.
"Nothing. I know this is cliché, but it feels like magic. Sometimes when we're together, I forget to breathe."
"I've never felt that. When Harry holds my hand, or kisses me, or puts his hand on my back, I don't feel any of that. It may be a stupid romantic notion, but I want someone to set my skin on fire with his touch. I want someone who supports me, no matter what. I want someone who wants a wife, not someone to stay at home and raise children."
"Hermione," she whispered. "I don't want what my parents had. I know they love each other, but I refuse to stay at home and raise a houseful of children. I want to live my life, not watch as it passes me by."
Even though she felt like she was betraying Harry, the brunette nodded. "If Harry doesn't give you that, then you should find it. Don't settle if you think something else is out there."
"Thank you." Ginny felt the lump in her throat ease away. "Now I just have to tell Harry."
"How are you going to do that?"
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "Sometime after this weekend."
"This weekend?" Hermione questioned. "I thought this was your duty-free weekend."
"It is. But I'm planning on going away to decide if I'm absolutely sure about this. I don't want to wake up in ten years and realize it's the biggest mistake I've ever made."
Hermione thought she'd already made up her mind, but didn't say anything. "Where are you planning on going? I doubt you'll get very much quiet at the Burrow."
This was the part Ginny wasn't exactly sure how to explain. Since she'd accepted the offer three days, she couldn't think of a good reason as to why she should go to Crete with Draco. "A week or so ago, I was talking to Draco—"
Ginny nodded. "Let me finish. A week or so ago, I was talking to Draco and told him much of what I told you just now. He and I have an uneasy friendship and out of obligation he offered me a place to go and think. I thought about it, and decided it might work out."
"Where are you going, Gin?"
She looked down at her hands in her lap. "His villa on Crete."
"What?! You're going to Crete to stay at Draco Malfoy's villa?"
"Keep your voice down!" Ginny looked around, hoping no one heard. The last thing she needed was her private business to end up splashed in the gossip rags. Or worse, the press showing up on the island to harass her. "It's not like we're going on a romantic getaway. Draco was trying to be supportive and offered me the use of his home."
"But he will be there?" Hermione questioned.
Ginny nodded. "Yes, but he promised he would leave me alone."
The brunette studied her friend, suddenly wondering if she believed the things come out of her mouth. "Gin, this is Malfoy. It's a bad idea. What would Harry say if he knew?"
"He can't know! You promised. He can't know."
"I won't tell him, but I think you should."
"You should at least see him, Gin. It's entirely possible he's about to have his world turned upside down. You owe him that."
Ginny considered her friend's words, before sighing. "You're right. I'll go see him tonight."
Hermione smiled brightly. "You won't regret it, Ginny."
The redhead couldn't bring herself to return the smile. "I hope not."
Ginny Apparated directly to Harry's flat when she left Hermione. She still wasn't decided if she would tell him or not, but she did owe him this visit at least.
Her fiancé was sitting at the table, reading the paper and eating bangers and mash. When he heard the pop from Apparation, he looked up. "Ginny." Harry stood and went to greet her. "What're you doing here?"
She smiled up at him, genuinely glad to see him. The redhead could feel a rush of emotions when he leaned down to kiss her. "I just wanted to see you."
He touched his hand to her cheek. "Is everything okay? You look anxious about something."
Ginny shook her head. "No, everything is fine. I just missed you."
Harry smiled at her. "I missed you, too."
She looked past him and saw his dinner. "Were you eating?"
"Yes. But I'm done now." Harry took her hand and led her to the couch. "Let's sit in here."
Ginny allowed herself to be pulled down. She immediately turned towards him for a kiss, hoping to lose herself in him. He kissed her back fervently, one hand going to her hair. The redhead moved them so that Harry was laying on top of her, his weight pressed down on her. It felt good to have something so solid to hold on to. Ginny brought her hand up to his back and urged him closer. "Harry," she gasped.
He broke the kiss and moved to her neck. "What do you want, Gin?"
She shuddered when he took her ear between his teeth and pulled. Even though she hadn't come over her for this, Ginny knew where it was going. They'd been very traditional with their relationship and had never made love before. She'd always thought she wanted to wait until their wedding night, but if he continued as he was, Ginny thought tonight might be nice as well.
Harry brought his free hand up to her breast and started kneading it through her shirt. "Love, what do you want?" He left her neck behind to move lower, his mouth covering where his hand had just been. "Can I take your shirt off, Gin?"
"Y—yes." Ginny reached down at helped him pull it over her head. His mouth immediately latched onto her nipple and he suckled it through her bra. "Harry." She brought her hands up to his head, intent on pulling him closer. She wanted him.
Or did she? That seed of doubt began to creep up and suddenly she was fully aware of what was happening. "Harry, maybe we should stop."
He moved his hips against her. "I don't think I can, Gin. I want you so much."
He continued to move his hips against her, thrusting into her stomach. Ginny could feel his erection each time he moved, hard and wanting. It was obvious he wanted this – and maybe, just maybe, if she gave him this, then he wouldn't pressure her about anything else. Ginny started to lift her lower body to meet his thrusts. He started thrusting harder and chanting her name. She closed her eyes and hoped it would end soon.
A short time later, Ginny felt a gush of wetness hit her stomach. She looked down to see Harry holding his shrinking member and a puddle of white something on her stomach. She had to fight hard to not gag. "I'm so sorry," he began immediately. "I thought—I was going to…put it in, I swear, Ginny. And then I couldn't stop myself. And I just…oh God."
She reached up and brushed his hair back. "It's okay, Harry. Don't worry about it." Ginny couldn't look down at her stomach and what he left there. "Could you get me a towel, please?"
He was up immediately, tucking himself back into his boxers and jeans. "Of course."
Ginny fought back tears as she waited for him to return. When he did, she immediately wiped herself clean and replaced her shirt. She and Harry sat there in an awkward silence, each waiting for the other to speak. Finally the redhead couldn't take it anymore. "I should get back to Hogwarts."
Harry stood and walked her to the door. He wasn't sure what he should say, still embarrassed by his showing. "Ginny, I'm sorry."
She leaned forward and kissed him quickly. "It's okay, Harry. I'll see you soon, okay?"
"When's your next weekend off?" he questioned. "I want to see you again. Maybe we could try—"
"I'm not sure," she cut him off, not wanting to know what he wanted to try. "I'll owl you when McGonagall tells me."
He accepted her answer with a nod. "I love you."
Ginny gave him her best smile. "You, too. I'll talk to you soon."
Harry leaned forward and kissed her again. "Okay. Thank you for tonight, Ginny."
She stepped away from him, suddenly unable to breathe. They'd made a huge mistake tonight, and she didn't know how to tell him. "Good night, Harry." She lifted her wand and Apparated away.
When she got back to her suite in the castle, Draco's hawk was waiting for her with a letter. She took it from him and gave him an owl treat. The bird took one bite of it before spitting it out on the floor. "Just like your master, I see."
Ginny unrolled the parchment. Written in his practiced script, she saw their travel plans for the next evening. The redhead sighed. Before she'd gone to Harry's, she had decided going to Crete was a bad idea. But since then, she knew this was exactly what she needed. She needed to go away to find the courage to be honest with Harry. Which was going to be so much harder after tonight.
Taking a moment, she scrawled Sounds good. I'll see you tomorrow on the bottom of his note and gave it back to the hawk. The bird immediately flew out the window, presumably to deliver the note to Draco. Ginny stood there for a long time, studying the darkness. When she finally went to bed, her last thought was if she could Obliviate that day from her memory.
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