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A Proper Appreciation by chiQs09
Chapter 1 : A Proper Appreciation
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 20

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Gorgeous chapter image by Caren at TDA

Femmeslash haters, please don't read.
Disclaimer: Everything you recognise is property of JK Rowling. The plot is mine. :)

“What about a charmed rose?” Ginny suggested, leaning against the wall. Luna, who was writing something on a parchment, her tongue poking out of her mouth, shook her head dismissively.

“I wouldn’t suggest that, unless Harry is fond of flowers. It must be something original, Ginny,” Luna said thoughtfully. “If I were you, I would buy an enchanted silver hartshorn made of unicorn horn powder and ivory. They play-back music you record on it.”

“Sure, Luna,” Ginny groaned, rolling her eyes. “I have a galleon tree in my garden, why not?”

“Really?” Luna asked, amazed. “I can’t even get Daddy to plant a small lemon tree in our garden. He said horklumps would reproduce faster if they smell the citrus aroma, which wouldn’t do well for our herbals and flowers.” Shrugging, Luna wrote something down on her parchment, giggling to herself.

“Luna, please, focus!”

The two girls were hidden in the Owlery, from where they had a perfect view of Harry, who was with Ron and Hermione down by the lake. With the help of Ginny’s wizarnoculars, a souvenir from Greece which she received as a Christmas present from Bill last year, she had no problems spying Harry.

Ginny had always fancied Harry, ever since she could remember. At first it was just admiration because of his popularity, he was the Boy Who Lived after all. But the past years which he had spent at the Burrow, and the time spent with him at Hogwarts, her feelings for him became something else.

Ginny’s eyes had caught Hermione’s frame. She was looking towards the water, her head thrown back to enjoy the fresh wind and let her face warm by the sun. “It must come from the heart,” Ginny said distractedly, her eyes now searching for Harry. When Hermione turned towards the Owlery, Ginny suddenly dropped down on her knees. “Damn.”

“Harry loves sweets. Get him some toothflossing stringmints, or peppermint humbugs.” Luna closed her eyes as though tasting the sweets in her mouth. “I will be sure to buy some when I go to Hogsmeade next weekend.” She scribbled something on an extra notepad that she retrieved from her pocket. Her lips moving while writing down, ‘Toothflossing stringmints’.

“You’re not helping me, Luna,” Ginny said, pouting.

“All right, then, what about a painting?” Luna tried again, not looking up from her writing. “Maybe you should paint a self-portrait.”

“Great idea, but I’m not the greatest artist you know. And I’m sure Harry isn’t a big fan of art.” When the trio didn’t catch any suspicion from Ginny’s hideout, she let her wizarnoculars wander to Harry, beside him a laughing Hermione. For a moment she felt a short sting of jealousy; at least Hermione could be around Harry anytime she wanted. “Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. I don’t have the time to paint a self-portrait and give it to Harry. It should be something romantic anyway…and a painting, in my opinion, isn’t romantic.”

“Did you know that in the 814 BC Phoenician elves celebrated Valentine’s Day, too? I mean, it wasn’t called Valentine’s Day, but it was something like that,” Luna told her airily, and Ginny had a feeling her friend was going to tell her their story now. She suppressed a groan, when Luna added, “But they gave maggoty haggis or rotten fish to each other, a sign of appreciation and belonging before they move to Wizarding families. That way they knew, no matter where they went, somewhere in the world, they had a place where they belonged. Where they were still appreciated and loved, because Merlin knows, not all house elves are being treated nicely by their host family.”

“Thank you for the resourceful information about the elves, Hermione,” Ginny said. It wasn’t much of help if Luna shared stories about house elves’ celebration of Valentine’s Day if Ginny, herself, didn’t know how she would celebrate it with Harry—once he knew how she felt about him.

She rounded on her friend, wondering why she had sought help from Luna with her problematic situation in the first place. She noticed Luna’s parchment—placed on a book she used for support—that by now was dangling from her lap, and almost reached the ground. “What are you writing?” Ginny asked; not that it really interested her. She only wanted to change the topic about Phoenician, elves and horklumps quickly.

Luna looked up with shimmering eyes, almost proud, she held up her parchment. “It’s a poem. Well, actually, I’m still listing down words that would give a perfect rhyme.” She crunched up her nose as she crossed a word from her list. “I don’t think harrumph rhymes well with horklumps. What do you think, Ginny?”

A poem… “Wait a minute, that’s it, Luna!” Ginny exclaimed happily, clapping her hands. “I’ll write Harry a poem. You’re brilliant!”

“Oh thank you,” Luna beamed.

That very same evening, it was Ginny who brought out her parchment and quill to write what should be a poem, and like Luna, she had listed down rhymes, most especially everything that described her feelings. She was sitting in one corner in the Gryffindor common room and looked outside the window. She hoped to get her inspiration from the bright light of the moon that shown down to the lake, or from the luminance of the stars, maybe… But she didn’t know what to write, or rather, how to start.

Then she let her eyes wander around the common room, watching a few students deep in their conversations. Ron was having a chess match with Harry, who looked absolutely cute when he was deeply concentrating. Hermione, as usual, was reading a book near the fireplace. She had a habit of biting her fingernails or twirling her hair around her index finger while absorbed in an interesting book.

Hermione looked up, catching Ginny off-guard, that she almost dropped her quill. Hermione gave her a small smile, and continued reading.

Ginny thought of her first inspiration to start her poem. It was Harry’s smile that made her fall for him in the Burrow during the summer holiday before his second year. She could remember that he had smiled at her and Ginny, with crimson cheeks, had quickly fled the room.

She thanked Hermione mentally for this, and started to write the first few paragraphs.

“Ginny,” someone said all of a sudden. “What are you writing there?”

Looking up, Ginny recognised her brother’s voice. Ron had moved one of his chess figures to corner Harry’s. Harry ran his hand through his dishevelled hair in frustration.

“I regret that move,” Harry said, not even looking up.

“I’m writing someone for Valentine’s Day,” Ginny answered. She was not sure if her brother heard her or if he really was interested in what she was doing, as long as she wasn’t writing love letters to random guys. Deep inside she wished Harry would show some interest in what she was doing, but it seemed like he didn’t even care what she was writing.

“What are you writing, Ginny?”

Ginny had hoped it was Harry who had asked, but it was only Hermione, looking at her with sincere interest.

“A poem,” Ginny said. “I’m writing it to someone special.” She wished Harry had caught the hint in her voice, but Harry only made another chess move and waited for Ron’s turn.

“Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I can’t believe it,” Hermione said. “Everyone is into it, they’re in Valentine’s Day mood, flirting and being mushy and all. For me it will be just another ordinary day like everyday.”

“I’m sure someone will send you something special, too, Hermione,” Ginny cheered her up, throwing a look at Ron’s back. Though she hoped Hermione would not rely on it too much since Ron wasn’t a great romantic. “You receive regular posts from Viktor, don’t you? I’m sure he’ll send you a Valentine’s Day card, too.”

“Yes, we still write each other,” Hermione said, though adding quickly when Ron turned slightly to her with a grimace on his face, “but he’s only a friend, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“I bloody hope so,” Ron mumbled.

“Do you plan to send Viktor a Valentine’s Day card, too, Hermione?” Harry asked, and it stung Ginny when she heard him showing Hermione such interest. She would have given anything  to have his interest directed at her. He didn’t even care that Ginny was writing a poem.

“I’m undecided, but I think I want to maintain a certain level of friendship with Viktor and writing each other Valentine’s Day cards would only ruin the platonic relationship,” Hermione told them.

“Oh, come on, Hermione,” Ron scoffed, “you’re just undecided because you don’t know yet if Vicky remembered you this time again or not. I reckon you’d write back as soon as you received his love letter tomorrow.”

“That is so not true,” Hermione snapped, indignant. “Of course I would always write back if someone writes me. I find it impolite to not respond, I mean, a simple ‘thank you’ for showing appreciation is already enough.”

Ginny watched as Hermione returned her attention back to her book, her eyebrows drawn together and eyes moving fast as she read through the paragraphs. She knew what Hermione meant, and understood her friend. Of course, boys would never understand such things…such as appreciation.

“All done,” Ginny told Luna the next day, holding her poem in her hands. “Do you want to read it and give me your opinion? It might sound cheesy, but I hope Harry will like it.”

“Sure, I’d love to.” Luna took the parchment in her hands. “Dear H.J.,” she read, “Why didn’t you write his full name?”

“I didn’t want it to sound too formal, and what if someone else finds the letter? This way no one knows it’s for Harry.” Ginny shrugged and glanced inside the Great Hall. “He’s with Ron and Hermione at the table already. Could you send it off for me? Please?

Luna didn’t answer first; she was still reading the poem. After finishing, she looked up at Ginny with light shimmering in her eyes. “That is so wonderful, Ginny,” she said in fascination. “I had no idea you were a marvelous poetess. You are artistic, indeed. This is undeniably a thousand times better than the poem I wrote about Marguerites and Hummingbirds.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Ginny said, pushing Luna forwards. “Now, please, go and send it off. I’d like to see the same expression on Harry’s face. I’m so excited.”

Ginny took a seat across from Hermione and Harry. She greeted both with a small smile, which Hermione returned lovingly. Harry, however, only tried to speak with his mouth full, but he was talking to Ron, who sat two seats away from Ginny’s side. Ginny assumed he was still mad at Hermione for writing letters to Viktor.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Ginny,” Hermione said. She prodded Harry’s elbow, who, at this, looked up confusedly at her. “Harry wanted to tell you something.”

“Oh, what is it?” he asked, shoving a peace of pie into his mouth. He followed Hermione’s eyes, which Ginny noticed, looked wonderful today, a huge contrast to Harry’s emerald ones, and soon Harry was looking at Ginny. “Hi Ginny, what’s up?”

“Harry, today’s Valentine’s Day,” Hermione reminded him. She took a sip from her pumpkin juice and rolled her eyes at Harry.

“And… what?” Harry asked.

“Never mind, Harry,” Ginny said, glaring at him with annoyance. She could stab him with her fork for not even wishing her a Happy Valentine’s Day, but as soon as Hermione smiled, Ginny couldn’t help but smile in return.

When Harry resumed his conversation with Ron and the other guys at the table—something about Quidditch and who sent whom a card—Hermione leaned slightly forward and whispered behind her hand, “I’m sorry about that, Ginny. He’s just shy.”

“Don’t be sorry, you didn’t do anything,” Ginny half-whispered, and half-hissed when she shot a fleeting look at Harry. That was passive-aggressive for ‘it’s  Harry’s fault’.

Just then, a brown owl flew into the Great Hall and encircled the students’ heads. Ginny’s heart pounded fast against her ribcage. Once the owl found the recipient of the letter, the more Ginny’s insides smouldered. She suddenly didn’t want Harry to receive the poem anymore, which, with all her effort, she had written all night long. This clueless guy would only take it for granted and this would be too hurtful to bear.

The owl hovered above Harry and Hermione, then it dropped the letter—to Ginny’s shock, surprise and maybe relief—on Hermione’s lap.

Ginny let out a gasp.

“So, Vicky remembered you, eh?” Ron broke the silence in the small group. His eyes looked piercingly at Hermione.

Hermione turned the envelope in her hands and opened it. Her eyes, as fast as she could read, scanned the lines. With a blank expression she returned it back to its envelope and looked at Ginny with a questioning expression.

The two girls exchanged an intense look with each other for a short moment. With her face turning crimson, Hermione was reflecting Ginny’s exact feelings. Ginny rose from her seat, and left the Great Hall.

Ginny avoided Hermione the whole day. In the evening, she met Luna at the lake.

“I can’t believe it,” Ginny exclaimed, walking back and forth on the patch of grass. She had pressed her robes together, almost hugging herself. But she didn’t feel cold. “How embarrassing, so frigging embarrassing! Damn it! Damn!

“It’s not your fault, Ginny. I should apologize for not giving exact instructions to the owl. What did Hermione say?” Luna asked as she sat on a rock. “Did you talk to her?”

Ginny ran a hand across her face, as though with the gesture she would easily wipe away the scene and forever delete the memory. “No, I mean, I don’t really know. I didn’t want him to read it anyway.” For some reason, it didn’t feel like it was wrong that Hermione received the poem instead of Harry. Harry wouldn’t have appreciated it or acknowledge it anyway.

“She won’t kill you,” Luna comforted. “She’ll understand. Look there, Ginny.” Luna pointed at something in the distance, Ginny followed her outstretched finger.

An owl flew directly towards Ginny, with an envelope in it’s talons. Ginny caught the letter once the owl dropped it and flew away. With a throbbing heart and shaking hands, she turned the envelope, reading the recipient’s initials, and whispered, “It’s from H.J.”

“Hermione?” Luna asked.

“I suppose, maybe.”

“What does it say?”

Ginny opened it hastily. “According to Maricor Maravilla: Some say that once there’s a spark, the flame will never die out. I believe that old flames can be blown out just as easily as they can be rekindled. Please turn around’” she read, “What? What does it mean? That’s it?”

“Maybe she wants you to turn around?” Luna suggested and smiled at her. She rose from her rock and walked towards Ginny, patting her on her shoulder. “I told you, you should talk to her. Hi Hermione!”

“Hi, Luna,” a familiar voice responded from behind Ginny, making her blood freeze. She spun around quickly, and thought her heart failed when she saw Hermione standing there, keeping a strand of hair out of her face in the breeze.

Ginny tried to gather her senses, to control her feelings. Most importantly, why did she feel so nervous all of a sudden? It was just Hermione. Ginny only needed to tell her that the envelope was for Harry. That it had all been a stupid accident.

When Ginny watched Luna sort of hopping back to the castle, Hermione spoke again. “That old owl was dawdling the way down here, I had to wait until it reached you,” Hermione giggled. “Anyway, you write nicely.” Her hands were in her robe pockets and her scarf was hiding her mouth. It was really cold, but Ginny almost forgot about the cold and embarrassment when she stared into Hermione’s brown eyes.

“Thank you,” Ginny replied. She looked down at her feet and wished they would carry her somewhere else. Why wasn’t Ginny explaining now?

“I didn’t know about it—” Hermione started, but was cut off by Ginny.

“Listen, the letter was actually—” Ginny said, and swallowed hard when Hermione pushed down her scarf slightly, so that Ginny had a perfect sight of her friend’s whole face. “It was actually to—” That charming yet hopeful smile threw Ginny off that she forgot what she wanted to say. “To—”

“—to Harry? I know,” Hermione said sympathetically. She walked to the rock, where a short moment ago Luna had been sitting, and sat down. “I’ve figured that..I’ve never read anything so beautiful, Ginny. It was written with so much love and passion, you poured your heart out just to write it. I’m not sure Harry would have understood that—with his male mind, if you know what I mean.” Hermione chuckled lightly and looked towards the lake. It was sunset and the view was amazing. “I don’t want you to get hurt if Harry doesn’t always meet your expectations when it comes to showing feelings. I’ve gotten hurt myself because of that,” she said, brushing an invisible strand of hair out of her face. Ginny knew Hermione was referring to Ron. “And I wanted to warn you first, to spare you from further disappointments.”

“I appreciate that very much, Hermione,” Ginny said. A variety of unfamiliar feelings slithered inside of her—sadness, bitterness, regret.

She walked over to her friend and embraced her. Since Hermione was sitting on a rock and was a bit smaller, her head only reached Ginny’s chest. Hermione didn’t seem to care. There was a moment during which Hermione snuggled up and leaned her head against Ginny’s—well, Northern Mountains—then Ginny felt her stomach burn with fire.

She stroked Hermione’s hair, then, no longer having control of her hands, let one hand caress her friend’s cheek, wander down to her chin and tilt it up to face her. Slowly, Ginny lowered her head, and was only pleasantly surprised when their lips met in a soft, tender kiss.

Hermione gave a small gasp once their lips brushed against each other, and withdrew slightly, eyes on Ginny.

“Oops, sorry, I didn't mean that,” Ginny gasped, trying to pull away slightly. But something else kept her there, kept her in Hermione's arms.

Hermione looked confused and maybe shocked. Ginny could literally feel Hermione’s mind working, probably wondering what Ginny was doing, and why. But then, against Ginny's own expectations, she pulled Ginny’s head down to her again, kissing her this time, fully, on the lips. It was an unbelievable feeling that was familiar, but never experienced.

Oh Merlin. What's going on, she wondered, mind feeling numb.

Much to Ginny’s surprise, it was Hermione who dared to move first, brushing her lips over Ginny’s by moving her head slightly in a circular motion. She enjoyed the sensation building in her stomach which was caused by Hermione’s kiss, eyelids drooping ever more shut the more Hermione’s lips teased hers.

It felt awkward at first, Ginny thought. But awkward in a mind-blowing, stomach-tingling way that makes you feel light-headed and happy altogether; better than winning a Quidditch match or kissing all the guys together which she had been with in the past. Awkward in a way because she didn’t know how exciting it would feel when kissing—a girl! When kissing her own best friend. When kissing Hermione Granger.

It was all too slow for Ginny, though, too much teasing, and soon, she wanted more. Not only that, she wanted control too. She placed one hand on Hermione’s shoulder and the other grasped a handful of her hair, kissing her deeply. Just like the way she had imagined Harry would kiss her.

Hermione pulled Ginny’s legs towards her and manoeuvred her to sit on her lap. Ginny didn’t sit with her full body weight on Hermione though—she was using her legs for support. Hermione removed Ginny’s arms and pulled them down to her waist. And soon, it was Hermione who was again in control. In the next moment, there was a wrestling of arms as they both wanted to take over the other, but neither would surrender.

Ginny’s impatience grew and she withdrew her lips. “What’s the matter with you?” she asked snippily, grabbing Hermione’s wrists so that she couldn’t move them.

“What are you doing?” Hermione laughed as though they were just playing a game, though confusion clearly showed on her face, referring to Ginny’s tight grip.

When Ginny noticed her grasp, she let go of Hermione, who now moved her hand to Ginny’s cheek and caressed it gently. Leaning down again, Ginny tried to kiss her, but Hermione pulled away and smirked playfully.

In irritation, Ginny grabbed her friend’s head to hold it in place and kissed her, Hermione followed suit. She didn't know why she felt the urge to unbutton Hermione’s blouse but she tried anyway. While Hermione pushed her hands away, stroking Ginny’s thighs instead. Neither would let the other take control over the other, and it was hard fighting with Hermione.

This was probably one of the disadvantages to being with another girl. Girls will not give in easily if they didn’t wish to. Ginny knew this from her own experience with boys. Girls argued and wanted to talk while in the middle of a snogging session.

Ginny noticed that Hermione’s eyes were open, and thought maybe Hermione was thinking too. When did Hermione Granger ever stop thinking anyway? Another disadvantage—girls think too much!

She pulled away from Hermione and moved off her lap. Hermione looked about nervously, arranging her uniform. Ginny realised that both must have come to their senses now, and so the uncomfortable silence followed.

Not long though, and of course it was Hermione who broke it.

“What just happened between us, Ginny?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny replied distantly.

Hermione looked thoughtful for a moment, before she asked, “Were you thinking about Harry?”

Harry. Only now he seemed to have popped back into her mind. Of course she hadn’t been thinking about Harry. “I wasn’t,” Ginny said honestly. “I was thinking how it would be if I were with you.”

Hermione blushed, dropping her gaze on the ground. “Oh…you were?”

“It’s been like that all the time,” Ginny said.

“That’s not true, Ginny. Please don’t say that just because we’ve shared something so intimate,” Hermione said, her voice breaking. “You don’t have to act like it meant something to you. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

“But I’m telling the truth!” Ginny cried, “Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” Regaining her composure, Ginny tried to speak again, calmer this time. Why was she so frustrated? Because she, herself, just realised it, too? That it was never him, but her? “It’s never been Harry.”

“But…your poem.”

“You were the actual inspiration for it,” Ginny admitted, wiping a tear from her eye, wondering how they got there.

Hermione rose from the rock and stepped towards Ginny, taking her into her arms to soothe her. Ginny lifted her arms and gently pushed Hermione away from her. “But…” she said through her own tears, “I don’t know if I can handle this, Hermione. In some ways, we’re too much alike. And I’m not talking about gender,” she said with a small smile.

Hermione pulled away, moving her hands to her sides. “I understand,” she whispered, smiling in sympathy.

“Shall we work together on it, then?” Ginny asked hopefully, and pulled Hermione towards her, kissing her with all the love she had stored from all the past years, just for this day, unleashing it on Hermione.

(A/N:Thanks to my beta, gnilworkj at eHPF) ^_^

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