The Sugar Quill
Author: Fionnabhair (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Best Ship of All  Chapter: Chapter One
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Hermione Granger had never had many female friends

Chapter One


Hermione Granger had never had many female friends.  She got on fairly well with her roommates, Lavender and Parvati, but they seemed to live in each other’s pockets a lot, and there certainly wasn’t space for her.  She didn’t mind really – Harry and Ron were the best mates a girl could ask for, and over the years she had rather begun to think that really, girls could be quite silly and shallow, and why would anyone even want to be friends with them?  True, Harry and Ron hadn’t been exactly wonderful throughout her third year, but she preferred not to think about that – it had only been a temporary glitch.  She had reasoned this out carefully many times, and Ron’s invitation to the World Cup served only to confirm her hypothesis.


So it came as something of a surprise when, the second Hermione entered the house, Ginny Weasley elbowed her way past Ron and actually grabbed her arm, pulling her up to the third floor.  Ron simply shrugged his shoulders and tossed Crookshanks out the back door as Hermione gazed at him helplessly.


Ginny chattered to her in a way that was both charming and slightly disconcerting.  “I’m so glad you’re here, it’s been nothing but boys, and boy talk all summer, and Ron telling me over and over that the Cannons will win this year – and then of course, there was all that bother with the twins.  I think it’s cool, but don’t say anything like that around Mum – you don’t know how she gets.  Ron isn’t allowed in my room by the way – he breaks things.  He doesn’t mean too, but he broke so many last summer that Mum lost her temper and said he couldn’t come in any more.”


Ginny’s room was quite small, with just enough room for a bed, a camp bed, a wardrobe and a small desk.  The walls were painted a cool apple green, and there was a small shelf of well-thumbed paperback novels above the desk.  There wasn’t a frill or a ribbon in sight, and Hermione found herself liking it.


She looked out the window, to see Crookshanks chasing what looked like a potato on legs, as Ginny continued.  “Of course, I told Mum that since you’re here, we really should have more long towels, cause there’s two of us now, so she said she’ll put them aside for us.”


Hermione blinked.  “Why?”


Ginny tossed her head.  “Oh, the boys always take them, and I’ve got to use the small ones, you know, that only barely cover everything – not that it matters – I don’t really have anything yet, not like you, but it would be so embarrassing if… well, you can imagine.”


“I don’t get it – it’s only your brothers.”


“And Harry.  I don’t want him seeing me…like that.”


Hermione felt excitement quicken her stomach.  “Harry’s coming?”


Ginny started to study a stuffed animal intently.  “Yeah,” she said, “They’ve probably gone to get him already.”


“What?  But I…”


“You wouldn’t have wanted to go Hermione.  His relatives are horrible.  Ron says they actually tried to starve him once.  Besides, I wanted to show you my room.”


Ginny grinned at her, and Hermione smiled back uncertainly.  Ginny had been very nice to her when she’d been fighting with Ron and Harry, but Hermione wasn’t sure they were actually friends.  Ginny hung around with a group of girls from her own year, and even had the stereotypical ‘best friend’ that Hermione had never had – a dark-skinned girl called Louise.  Hermione didn’t really know them, except to see, although Ginny had asked her to sit with them, she had never quite worked up the courage to test if the invitation was genuine.


Ginny seemed to sense her disquiet, for she added, “I’m not sure Mum would have let you go anyway.  They’ve gone by Floo, and you’ve never gone before have you?   I mean, after Harry ended up in Knockturn Alley his first time, I don’t think she’d want…well…”


Ginny’s voice trailed off, and Hermione had to swallow a surge of irritation.  Why she had to talk like that, as if Hermione didn’t already know these things…Ginny seemed to firm her shoulders, before saying defiantly, “I mean, if you want to go downstairs and wait for them, that’s okay.  I don’t want to bore you.”


There was an odd look on Ginny’s face; slightly scared, as though she thought Hermione might be angry, but also quite firm.  She didn’t want Hermione to do her any favours.  Hermione realised that perhaps she’d been a bit rude, and she sat down on the camp bed, saying, “How was your summer?”


Ginny smiled, and just as with Ron, Hermione felt a crazy urge to beam right back.  Ginny shrugged and said, “Oh it’s been pretty good.  Bill and Charlie took me to the Uganda match.  It was brilliant, even if it was a bit… Have you met Bill?  You’ll like him, he’s really cool.  He gives us all hope we won’t turn out like Percy… We’re sharing a tent at the World Cup you know, and I talk in my sleep, so if I get started and it annoys you, you can just poke me in the stomach or something.  I won’t mind.”


Ginny winked at her, and suddenly Hermione found herself relaxing.  Ginny was light and bright and friendly in a way that usually out her slightly on guard, because, after all, why would such a girl want to be friends with her?  But, Ginny seemed completely sincere, and she was actually a lot of fun.


They ended up chatting for nearly half an hour before going downstairs.  It was the first time Hermione had had a real chance to talk with Ginny since that horrible day in third year, and she enjoyed it.  Talking with a girl was different – Ginny understood things in a way that was refreshing after Ron and Harry.  Still, it wasn’t until she blushed strawberry red upon seeing Harry smile at her, that Hermione realised she could really like this girl.


Author’s Note

This story picks up a thread I began in Essential Medicine For Ordinary Witches, which I suggest you read.  It is not a sequel exactly, but the two stories exist in the same universe.  The title for this story comes from an anonymous quote: “There are big ships and small ships.  But the best ship of all is friendship.” 

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