The Sugar Quill
Author: katchuri  Story: Midnight Confessions  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to J K Rowling

Disclaimer: All characters belong to J K Rowling. I’m doing this for my own amusement, and don’t expect to make any dosh from it whatsoever, ok.

 

Thanks: To my very patient beta-reader Jo Wickaninnish, for her encouragement, comments, and insight on how the use of commas differs in American and British grammar.

 

Midnight Confessions

 

Hermione sat up suddenly and hugged her knees to her chest under the musty candlewick bedspread.

 

"You're not?" Ginny's incredulous voice came from the right of her through the dark room. "But why not?"

 

Hermione took a deep breath, still not completely comfortable with the topic.

"Well, there are the O.W.L.s mainly," she said. "I really want to give my all to them this year, and there simply won't be the time for silly things like that. Everyone says they're so hard, and I don't need any distractions. And I remember just how hard it was in third year with the time turner. I don't want to get in such a mess again." 

 

"But giving up on boys," said Ginny, amazed. There was a rustle of covers and the sound of bare feet padding quietly over wooden floorboards. The weight on Hermione's bed shifted as Ginny sat down at the end and gradually wormed her feet under the covers. "Won't that make life so boring?" 

 

"No," said Hermione with feeling. "You should hear Lavender and Parvati at night. Before they went to sleep last year, each night without fail they'd lie there and dissect every single word Seamus had said to Lavender that day. And it included every tiny little thing about his tone of voice and facial expression when he said it. That's boring. Especially night after night. And they act so silly about it - if that's how being interested in boys can make you behave, then I'm sorry. I don't want to be part of it!" 

 

Something creaked in the hallway outside, and both girls tensed. Quietly, Ginny laid a warning hand on Hermione's foot, as they listened intently for more noise - to see if it was Mrs Weasley, or, worse, whether it would cause the loud shrieks of Mrs Black's portrait to wake the entire household. 

 

There was nothing.

 

"And you should have heard them on the last night of term," eventually Hermione continued in a whisper, aware that her voice had risen during their last exchange. “They made a pact that next year both of them would have boyfriends, and then they spat on it to seal it. They're ridiculous - they'd be better off putting their effort into the O.W.L.s.” 

 

"Some of the girls in my dormitory are a bit like that," said Ginny thoughtfully. "They're not quite as obsessive about it though. But one time Sarah did decide that she fancied Colin Creevey - of all people!" 

 

Hermione smothered a giggle. "Really?" 

 

"Yes, really. She'd sigh about him every night for two weeks. We were really glad when she snapped out of it." 

 

"Poor thing," said Hermione, still amused. "She should know that he's only got eyes for Harry." 

 

She stopped short, appalled at what had just come from her mouth. Of all the insensitive things to say. 

 

"I'm sorry," she groped for the words in the dark, unable to see Ginny's face. "I shouldn't have said that, should I?" 

 

She felt a small squeeze of her foot from the end of the bed. 

 

"It's ok," Ginny said quietly, and to Hermione's ears, a little sadly. "It doesn't matter. I'm over him. I really am." 

 

"Are you sure?" ventured Hermione, remembering similar conversations a year ago, when every second word from Ginny's mouth had been "Harry".

 

"Absolutely," said Ginny, with an attempt at conviction. "I mean, I still like him and everything… but just as a friend." 

 

Hermione sat quietly for a few seconds and digested this slowly and thoughtfully, not able to quite believe what she was hearing. But her silence seemed to worry Ginny. 

 

"You don't believe me, do you?" Her voice quavered a little in the dark. 

 

"I do, I do." Hermione leapt to reassure her but was not really certain that she did. "It's just a little sudden, that's all." 

 

"Not really," said Ginny, sounding more confident. "It's been coming on all year, if you think about it. But what really made me wake up was just before the Yule Ball. We were in the common room, and he said he asked Cho Chang, and she'd knocked him back. Then Ron told him to take me - he didn't seem keen with the suggestion, but I was already going anyway and couldn't have gone with him even if he had asked. It was so horrible, and I got away as fast as I could and ran upstairs and cried. And through all of this I realised that he doesn't even see me as a girl, and he's never going to be interested in me. So I made the decision to move on." 

 

This last statement sounded a little shy to Hermione, rather than the decisive tone it maybe should have had. Suddenly, a few pieces fell into place. 

 

"Ginny?" she said slowly, regretting now that she'd been moaning about how silly people were when they were interested in boys for half the night. "Have you found someone else?" 

 

There was a small quiet giggle in the darkness from the end of the bed, and Hermione was sure she could feel Ginny squirming. 

 

"I might have done," came Ginny's voice, a little muffled. 

 

"Who?" asked Hermione immediately, aware her body was tensing a little and feeling like she should bounce up and down. 

 

"Michael Corner," said Ginny, a little smugly. "You know, he's in your year, in Ravenclaw." 

 

"Oh, Michael," said Hermione, feeling a little relieved. "He's the dark one, isn't he? He seems really nice, I see him in the library sometimes. But for a moment then I thought you were going to say someone horrible like, I don't know, Draco Malfoy or something." 

 

"Euuggh!" exclaimed Ginny, and they both giggled. "He's quite pretty, I suppose, but no way! He's revolting." 

 

"Isn't he just!" said Hermione. "I'm so glad it's Michael and not him. I really hope he notices you… this time." 

 

"It's not just a crush," said Ginny hotly, and kicked her leg against Hermione's. "We've been going out since before the end of term, thank you very much." 

 

"You're joking," Hermione sat up straighter in surprise and stretched her legs out in front of her. "That's wonderful." She patted Ginny's foot under the bedclothes. "But Michael's in my year - how on earth did you two meet?" 

 

"I'm cold," said Ginny. "Do you mind if I steal some more of the covers?" 

 

"Not at all. But I will if you don't hurry up and tell me!" 

 

"Ok, ok," said Ginny, as she wriggled her feet further into the bed. "Just give me a moment to get comfortable." 

 

There was a pause as Crookshanks eventually moved to make room for Ginny’s legs, and then Hermione heard her take a decisive breath. 

 

"I actually met him at the Yule Ball," Ginny said finally, as it seemed to Hermione that she'd waited an age for this information. 

 

"But… Neville… you went with Neville," Hermione exclaimed. 

 

"Yes, I know I did, and he's lovely in his own way. But he's not really the greatest of company when you're feeling low - as I was about Harry at the time - and to tell you the truth I think he's a little bit scared of me." 

 

Hermione snorted slightly. She could imagine so too. 

 

"And to tell you the truth, I only really said I'd go with Neville so I could go to the Ball, and so I could spend Christmas at Hogwarts and see more of Harry," Ginny admitted. 

 

"But you still haven't told me how you met Michael," Hermione implored. "To quote Lavender, was it love at first sight?" 

 

"Hardly," said Ginny, laughing a little. "I was standing by the punchbowl watching Harry dance with Parvati and wondering if I could get away with hexing her with bat bogeys without the teachers catching me. And then he came over and talked to me. I don't even remember what he said." 

 

Ginny sighed, and sounded thoughtful. But then her voice rose and took on a happier tone. 

 

"But he made me laugh," she said softly. "And I stopped looking at Harry for a minute, and he kept talking to me. And before I knew it we'd been talking for a whole half hour. Then he went back to his partner, and I started to look for Neville again. But then I realised - I hadn't even thought of Harry for the whole time we'd been talking. And I, I don't know, felt really free, you know. And that was the first time that had happened. And, you know what? It felt great!" 

 

Hermione felt a rush of affection and elation for Ginny, realising what a big revelation this must have been for someone who'd spent so long hung up on Harry - who'd really barely looked at her. 

 

"That's brilliant," she said, and really meant it. She wriggled under the bedclothes, and propped herself up on one elbow. "But he didn't ask you out then?" 

 

"Oh, no," said Ginny, airily. "That didn't happen for ages. Not until after the third task."

Her voice dropped suddenly as she appeared to remember the circumstances. "We'd seen each other a little during the rest of the year, and every time I saw him we just talked so much. And we really became friends… not friends in the way you and Harry and Ron are, but good friends anyway. But then after the last task, and Harry… and Cedric…" Her voice caught on the last word, and quavered there in the dark. Hermione shuddered, remembering Cedric's prone body lying on the Quidditch pitch not even a month before. 

 

"I bumped into him in the crowd," continued Ginny, slowly. "And he was upset, and I was crying. And he just grabbed my arm and hugged me, and we stood there like that for ages." 

 

"That's so sweet," breathed Hermione and then shook herself firmly. Any more words down that line and she was going to sound like Lavender and Parvati. 

 

"Wasn't it?" said Ginny, clearly enjoying retelling this bit. "And he gave me his handkerchief to wipe my face, and walked me back to Gryffindor Tower. I've still got the handkerchief somewhere." Hermione rather suspected that the handkerchief was the one she'd seen Ginny place underneath her pillow that night before turning out the light but didn't say so. It wouldn't do to embarrass her - not when she had more of the story to tell. 

 

"And then, a couple of days later, I ran into him down at the lake with a couple of his friends - do you know Anthony and Terry?" 

 

"Kind of," said Hermione. "Anthony's in my Arithmancy class." 

 

"Well, he said he had something important to tell me, and asked them to leave. I was really nervous, as he sounded so serious. But then he held my hand, and led me away from them and down to the bank of the lake." 

 

Hermione's breath caught. She was aware that if she'd been sitting on a chair it would have been the edge of it. 

 

"And he kept holding my hand, and he asked if he could write to me this summer. And of course I said yes, because I'd really been enjoying talking to him this year and I'd like to keep on talking to him in letters when I couldn't see him at school. And he smiled at me when I said that. He's got the most lovely smile in the world, you know." Ginny sighed a little, and Hermione held back a giggle - she'd heard Lavender say exactly the same thing about Seamus at least five times during the course of the last year. 

 

"And then he said that actually he didn't just want to write to me this summer, he wanted me to be his girlfriend, if that was all right with me." 

 

"And was it all right with you?" asked Hermione. 

 

"Of course it was! Just because Harry doesn't know I'm alive doesn't mean I have to sit around like… one of those religious women in black who we learnt about in Muggle Studies… a nun?" exclaimed Ginny. "He's really nice, and he likes me - not like Harry at all - so I said yes, I'd like that. And he hugged me again then and I felt all warm inside and I could feel his heart going really fast, as if he'd been really nervous too." 

 

Hermione smiled, pleased that Ginny was happy. Then curiosity took over. 

 

"Did he kiss you?" she asked eagerly, before she really knew what she was saying.

 

There was silence from the other end of the bed. Hermione wished she could take those words back. 

 

"I'm sorry," she said hastily. "If you want to keep things private that's fine with me." 

 

"No, no, it's fine," said Ginny. "Yes, he did actually. With tongues and everything too." 

 

"Wow," breathed Hermione, enthralled. "What was it like?" 

 

The words hung in the air. 

 

"Didn't Viktor kiss you?" asked Ginny, puzzled. Hermione shifted her position again. Her right arm was numb with pins and needles. 

 

"No, she said, slowly. "He didn't. I think he tried once, but I only realised it afterwards, and then it was too late. He kissed my cheek a couple of times though. I'm sure I'll find out what it's like eventually. I just wondered, that's all." 

 

"It's nice," said Ginny, sounding pleased. "It's a bit different to how I thought it might be - his lips feel a bit bulgy, and it was a bit wet in places. Our teeth clashed a few times too. But putting your tongue in someone else's mouth isn't as weird as it sounds at all, and it made me all warm at the bottom of my stomach, and he was really gentle with me too. It's lovely, it really is." 

 

There was a pause as Hermione thought about what it might be like to know what it was really like herself, with… No. She was giving up on boys. She wasn't going to think about that until after the O.W.L.s were over.

 

Then Ginny's voice came again, now sounding panicked and worried. 

 

"You won't tell Ron, will you?" 

 

"Ron?!" squeaked Hermione, startled, and wondering if…

 

"He's so protective of me, especially since the Chamber of Secrets. He'd go nuts if he knew if I was going out with someone, especially someone he doesn't know. He'll over react, and then he'll worry about it, and I'll never hear the end of it. And then he'll tell the twins, and they’ll get over-protective too, and on top of all that they'll tease me all year. Oh, please say you won't tell him!" implored Ginny, now sounding desperate. 

 

"Of course I won't," said Hermione soothingly, now feeling slightly calmer, and she patted Ginny's foot again. “I know how he gets. I won't tell him unless you say it's ok, though. But you'll have to be careful - if people see you getting off with him in empty classrooms and Ron finds out, he'll probably be mad that you haven't told him."

 

"Oh, that's easy," said Ginny confidently. "I can sneak about. I'm not Fred and George's sister for nothing." 

 

Hermione laughed, softly. She could well imagine that the twins' tricks were easy to replicate if you'd grown up observing them. 

 

"That's why I don't get why you don't want anything to do with boys, though," said Ginny, quieter through the darkness now that her story was out. "It's so nice - I can't understand why you don't want to experience it all for yourself." 

 

"Oh, I do, I do," Hermione rushed to assure her. "Just not this year, not yet. I want to find out about all this stuff eventually, definitely. It's just… there's the O.W.L.s like I said, and they're quite enough on their own without anything else. And there's S.P.E.W. too - I want to take that further this year. But those elves can be so stubborn, so I'm going to start making them take clothes without realising what they're doing, and that's going to be a lot of work… Do you know anyone who can teach me to knit?" 

 

"I can knit a little," offered Ginny. "I can teach you a bit. And then I'm sure Mum can help." 

 

"Great," said Hermione, satisfied. "Now, where was I? Oh yes, why I don't want to worry about boys next year. So, quite above everything I'm going to have to do, there's…"

 

"You'll probably be made a prefect too," interrupted Ginny. 

 

"Really?" asked Hermione, floored. "Do you think so? But I've broken so many rules." 

 

"Oh, of course you will," said Ginny dismissively. "Who else is going to get to be prefect from Gryffindor? Lavender and Parvati can be so silly - they'll pick someone with a good head on her shoulders, even if she's been involved in a little rule breaking. I don't know who'll they'll pick from the boys though - perhaps Harry?" 

 

"Maybe," said Hermione, thoughtfully. "Oh, and that's another reason I don't want to think about boys. There's Harry to worry about and protect. Now that Lord V… You-Know-Who is back, he's obviously got it in for Harry and who knows what might happen. We need to spend our time trying to build up our defenses and protecting Harry from him - and wasting energy worrying about whether some boy likes me or not won't help there. You overheard your Mum this evening at the meeting. There's probably going to be a war once You-Know-Who's back to full strength and recruited enough followers." 

 

Hermione felt Ginny shiver at the end of the bed. 

 

"Do you really think so?" Ginny's voice shook. Hermione sighed, wishing that she could lie and tell Ginny that she'd made it all up, but she couldn't. It wouldn't be right. 

 

"I'm afraid so. And that's horrible, and another reason in itself. Look what happened to Cedric and Cho - people die in wars. I'd hate to be in love with someone and always have to worry about whether he was going to die or not. It's better if I only have to worry about myself. Boys would just complicate matters." 

 

"You've got a point," said Ginny hesitantly, and sounding a little worried. 

 

It again occurred to Hermione that she might have said something a little insensitive. 

 

"Oh," she said, hurriedly, "I didn't mean… I was only thinking of it as a possibility. I'm sure you'll be fine. Really." 

 

They sat in silence for a little while. Hermione tried to relax and loosen the knot in her stomach. The last thing she needed was to be thinking about whether there might be a war or not just before she went to sleep - she'd end up with nightmares. 

 

Ginny wriggled out from underneath Hermione's covers, and quietly made her way across the wooden floor to her own bed. There was a rustle of bedspread and a creak of springs as Ginny tucked herself back in. 

 

Hermione lay there and watched the ragged curtains move in the slight breeze from the open window, lit by the orange glow from the streetlights outside in Grimmauld Place. 

 

"I don't know why I'm even worrying about this anyway," she said sleepily and yawned. "There's nobody even remotely interested in me. It's all hypothetical." 

 

There was another creak of springs as Ginny sat up again. Hermione could see the whites of her eyes reflecting a little of the streetlight. 

 

"But what about Viktor?" she said, "You said he kissed your cheek. Isn't he interested in you?" 

 

"Maybe," said Hermione, not liking the subject much. "He did invite me to Bulgaria to visit him…"

 

"And you didn't go?" said Ginny, incredulous again. "Why not? How come you came here instead?" 

 

"He's just so much older than me," said Hermione, squirming. "And that scares me a little. I'm not sure I'm really ready for that. Not yet anyway. And, besides, there's just nothing… there… I suppose. He's nice and everything, but I don't think I'm really that attracted to him. He's a good friend though - just like you feel about Harry." 

 

"Yeah," echoed Ginny, slowly. "Just like I feel about Harry." 

 

 “And going to Bulgaria felt a bit like… leading him on, I suppose. I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea, so I owled him and said that while I appreciated the offer, my parents didn’t want me to go.” 

 

 “Didn’t they?” asked Ginny. 

 

 

 “Well,” said Hermione, weighing things up. “I think if I’d pleaded with them they might have let me go. But then they’d have come with me – and I really think it’s safer for them at the moment if I’m not with them. I’m too close to Harry for it to be totally safe for them to be with me.” 

 

As Hermione spoke, she saw the faces of her parents in her mind’s eye. She hugged her pillow, wishing it was them, and vowed again that when… if… this was all over she’d spend all her time with them to make up for it. She was just so pleased they understood why it had to be this way. 

 

 “Did Viktor understand?” asked Ginny, through the dark. 

 

 “I think so,” said Hermione. “And it’s not like he’s going to be over here for a good long while, is it? He’s got Quidditch to worry about, for a start.” 

 

She paused, thinking about him, then yawned again. 

 

 “I’ll admit, he had me a little flattered for a while,” she said, remembering. “I mean, who wouldn’t be –a famous international Quidditch player named me as the thing he’d miss most. But really, when I’d had some time to think about it, I didn’t fancy him in the slightest!” 

 

She heard Ginny giggle in the darkness. 

 

 “But he’s a good friend. So I’ll write to him. Perhaps I’ll even sign it ‘Hermy-own-ninny!’” This time Ginny’s giggle was nearly an outright laugh. Hermione joined in. It felt good to laugh. 

 

 “So,” Hermione said, turning over and snuggling into the covers again. “Quite apart from all of that, as I said earlier, there’s no-one interested in me in that way anyway. So it’s all just academic. It’d take someone really fantastic and special to convince me otherwise.” 

 

Ginny snorted slightly. “So, it’s ‘Hermione Granger – Ice Queen’, from now on then?” 

 

 “No!” said Hermione hastily, and rather loudly than she’d meant to. They froze, listening for any noise from the hallway. When none came, she spoke quietly again. 

 

 “It’s not like that at all. It’s… I made a vow to myself. And I think it’s for the right reasons. So, if I’m going to break that vow, it’s going to take someone very, very special, and he’s going to have to work hard to convince me that he’s absolutely interested and that he’s worth breaking my word for. That’s all. You understand, don’t you?” 

 

 “Yeah… I do… I think,” said Ginny, giving a huge yawn and settling back down again. “I still think you’re mad though…”

 

A pillow flew through the air and hit her squarely in the stomach. “Oooff!” 

 

 “Serves you right…” giggled Hermione as Crookshanks curled up deeper into her side on the candlewick bedspread and started to purr. She stroked his back absent-mindedly. 

 

 “And I don’t think you’ll ever keep it up…” said Ginny. 

 

 “I will, I can assure you.” 

 

 “We’ll see.” 

 

 “I’ll show you…”

 

 “I’m sure you won’t.” 

 

 “You’re as bad as your brother.” 

 

 “I know…”

 

Hermione listened as Ginny’s breathing grew slower and shallower while she continued to stroke Crookshanks’s soft fur. She watched the ragged curtains drift slightly in the breeze until they faded into the dark of her eyelids.  

 

 

*****************************

  

 

Ron swore quietly under his breath for the third time as the latest invention from Fred and George – a long pink string they were calling an extendable ear – again failed to stick to the door of his sister’s bedroom. He wished the twins would hurry up and fix the problems they were having with it – apart from being desperate to hear what was going on at Order meetings, it would have made eavesdropping on Hermione and Ginny’s conversation a whole lot easier. 

 

He could hear muffled whispers, but nothing distinct apart from the odd raised voice. However, the last time the extendable ear had clung to the door for more than half a second he could have sworn he’d heard Ginny say the name “Viktor”, and he was desperate to hear more. 

 

 Darling Vicky”, Ron thought to himself, as he savagely jabbed again with the end of the extendable ear. 

 

 Stupid git. I bet she’s wishing she’d gone to bloody Bulgaria.”

 

Amazingly, the pink string finally held. 

 

 “I think so,” said Hermione’s voice, drifting down the ear. “And it’s not like he’s going to be over here for a good long while, is it? He’s got Quidditch to worry about, for a start.” 

 

Ron ground his teeth. He was right. Bloody Viktor Krum.

 

 “I’ll admit, he had me a little flattered for a while,” he heard Hermione continue. “I mean, who wouldn’t be – a famous international Quidditch player named me as the thing he’d miss most. But really, when I’d had some time to think about it, I didn’t fancy him in the slightest!” 

 

Ron nearly fell back in shock, and the ear detached itself again on Ginny’s giggles. 

 

It took him a few moments to recover himself, and then he grabbed the ear again and pressed it to the door as hard as he could.

 

He wished he’d thought of eavesdropping more than just a few minutes earlier. And it had taken him ages to descend the stairs without making a sound. All the stuff he must have missed…His head reeled at the thought. 

 

 “… as I said earlier, there’s no-one interested in me in that way anyway.” Hermione’s voice carried into his brain. “So it’s all just academic. It’d take someone really fantastic and special to convince me otherwise.” 

 

Ron listened until they grew silent. And then he waited a few minutes more, just in case they’d say anything more. Then he crept away back up the stairs as silently as he’d come.

 

//
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