Hey, I'm back! This chapter marks 10,000 words, so I'm pretty happy with that. I'm still pretty busy, but I felt like I should try and get something posted anyway, so here it is!
An alarm clock beeped insistently, waking Hermione Granger from a most interesting dream. She scrambled to turn it off, hoping that her neighbours hadn’t been woken up by it, but instead her hand connected with a piece of paper. She reached further back and found the clock, successfully shutting the alarm off, and sat up. Her sleepy eyes eventually made out the shape of an envelope on the bedside table, and the events of the previous day came rushing back. Malfoy must have left it there.
A quick glance at the clock told her that it was 8:30, and she decided that if she’d disturbed any neighbours it was their own fault for going to bed so late. Admittedly she herself had been up until midnight reading, but it wasn’t as though she did that every night. She grabbed the envelope and shuffled out to the kitchen.
She poured herself a bowl of cereal, adding extra milk to make sure all of it was covered. Some people liked hot breakfasts or crunchy cereal, but Hermione was not one of those people. Instead, she sat and munched her cereal, trying not to spill any milk on the letter as she read it.
We hope you had a great birthday. I’m certainly planning to make it fun, and by the time you get around to reading this I suppose you’ll know how well I did. I hope you like the dress I bought for you- don’t worry, it really wasn’t that expensive. I know how you hate people spending money on you. Harry got you the Quidditch tickets, and it was a real hassle buying them from overseas so you’d better go! I’ll be expecting to know all about it. We figured since you work in Australia one of your co-workers might like to see a game with you, they seem like pretty nice people from what I’ve seen so far.
Love, Ginny and Harry
P.S. Teddy’s visiting us this Sunday because Andromeda needs to get a check-up at the hospital. He always asks to see you, so you should visit, too!
Sunday. That was today! She cursed and knocked her bowl over in an attempt to put the letter down on the bench, spilling soggy cereal and milk all over the floor. Damn Malfoy. If it wasn’t for him she’d have read the letter earlier. She sighed and went to get her wand to clean up the mess she’d made of her breakfast.
Not long later she was ready and dressed in Teddy-proof clothes. She loved him, she really did, but she wasn’t going to risk the few nice clothes she had on a seven-year old boy. For the final touch, she pulled her hair back into a ponytail, then apparated to the Potter’s.
She arrived to find Harry and Teddy playing some kind of card game in the middle of the living room floor. They were far too absorbed in the game to notice her, but Ginny poked her head out from the kitchen and ushered Hermione over.
“Thank Merlin you’re here,” she said. “I don’t think I can stand another game of exploding snap, and Teddy’s obsessed with it at the moment.”
“I can imagine,” Hermione replied, “I know what Harry was like when he discovered it. How’s Andromeda, by the way? You said she had to go to the hospital.”
Ginny shrugged uncertainly. “We didn’t see her for very long this morning, she was in a rush to get to her appointment. She seemed happy enough, and it’s just a routine check-up, so there’s nothing to worry about. Besides, it gives us a chance to see Teddy, and she can always chat to us when she comes to pick him up. Tea?”
“Oh- er, yes, that would be lovely, thanks.”
“You’re in luck then, I put some to steep just before you arrived. Can you carry the teapot out to the table? I’ll bring the plates and cups.”
Gingerly, Hermione picked the teapot up and carried it to the table. Ginny levitated the crockery, but they had long ago made a rule not to levitate things that were full of liquid. A plate of biscuits followed the rest to the table, as well as a tub of sugar.
“Can you grab the milk, too, Hermione?” Ginny asked.
“If it means that I don’t have to interrupt a game of exploding snap, then I’m all for it.”
The milk was in the refrigerator that Hermione had bought for Harry and Ginny as a housewarming present. As she opened the door, a small explosion occurred in the next room, causing her to chuckle. By the time she had returned to the table with the milk, both Harry and Teddy were already seated and munching on the biscuits.
“Hewminy!” Teddy exclaimed through a mouthful of crumbs, earning him a reproachful stare from Ginny.
“Hello, Teddy,” Hermione replied. “How are you?”
He prudently swallowed the remainder of his biscuit before replying. “I am the best thanks Hermione!”
“Then how come I can beat you at snap, buddy?” Harry teased.
“Exploding snap,” Teddy corrected. “And you cannot because I am the best.”
“So how old are you now, Teddy?” asked Hermione, changing the subject.
He held up seven fingers. “This many!”
“Whoa, that’s pretty old. No wonder you’re getting good at things.”
He nodded enthusiastically. “And Uncle Harry says if I’m good then I can go see Charlie.”
“Aunt Ginny’s brother?” Hermione asked, confused.
Ginny shook her head. “No, he means Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Harry’s going to take him to the movies. Isn’t that right, Teddy?”
Teddy nodded happily, chewing on another biscuit. “Yup!”
“Sounds pretty exciting,” Hermione said.
“Yep there’s this boy and he eats a chocolate and wins a chocolate river,” Teddy explained. “I saw the ad on TV when I visited Uncle Ron.”
He selected another biscuit and proceeded to dunk it in his tea, earning him another disapproving glance from Ginny. He pretended not to notice and mushed the entire thing into his mouth.
“If you’re going to do that, Teddy, I’m not going to let you have tea again,” Ginny warned. “We’ve talked about this.”
He nodded, looking slightly abashed, and gently slurped his tea.
“Maybe I’ll bring you some Tim-tams back from Australia,” Hermione said. “You’re supposed to suck your drink through them.”
“Don’t encourage him, Hermione! Honestly, you’re as bad as Harry,” Ginny said. “Teddy, why don’t you show Hermione what we made earlier? I’m sure she’d like it.”
The boy nodded, jumped off the chair and scurried into the next room. He returned presently with a large plush owl.
“Aunty Ginny did most of it,” he admitted. “But Uncle Harry helped me get it the right size and colour.”
It certainly was coloured interestingly- bright blue with a fluorescent green belly. Hermione suspected that this owl would change colour many times as Teddy grew older.
“So you like owls, then?” she asked. Teddy nodded.
“Yeah, but Andromeda says that’s I’m not old enough to look after one and I’m pretty busy anyway so this is kinda a way to have an owl without having an owl. I think he’s pretty cool.”
Hermione grinned. “Oh, definitely. You all did a good job.”
“Say, Harry, what time did you say the movie started?” Ginny interrupted.
“Er- nine thirty. What time is it now?”
“A bit past nine. If you’re planning on taking Teddy on that car ride like you promised, you should probably get going now. You know what it’s like to get car parks there on a Sunday with all the teenagers around.”
“Yessss, I get to ride in the car!” Teddy crowed, hugging his owl tight. He ran gleefully into the next room while Harry summoned his keys, shaking his head at Teddy’s enthusiasm.
“He’s a little monster, that one,” he said affectionately, kissing Ginny on the cheek before following his godson’s path out of the room. Ginny and Hermione grinned at each other over the remainder of their tea.
“Merlin he’s getting big,” Hermione remarked.
“Who, Teddy or Harry?”
“I can still hear you!” Harry called from the next room. The two ladies waited until they heard the door opening and closing before bursting out into laughter.
“Oh, Ginny, I’ve really missed talking to you like this. I know it’s been less than a week since we last saw each other, but… this is nice, it really is.” Hermione said. “Thanks for inviting me over.”
“Hey, it’s no problem, and you know that Teddy always likes to see you. You have seemed a little stressed this past week, though. Usually you would have replied to our invitation the second you read it, and Harry said you were acting really strangely on Friday.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, I only read your letter this morning and-“
“No, it’s fine, really, we don’t mind,” Ginny said, cutting her off gently. “But you know that you can tell us anything, right? We’ll always be here for you.”
Hermione gulped. She really hadn’t been looking forward to this conversation.
“Well, yes. I’ve actually come to tell you something.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “I doubt it’s half as bad as you think it is, Hermione. Spill.”
“I may or may not have agreed to go on a date with Draco Malfoy,” Hermione blurted. Ginny stared at her in surprise.
“Wow. I mean, it’s great that you’re moving on, but… Malfoy? Why him, of all people?”
“No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s nothing like that. I had to do it, I was going to lose my job otherwise!”
“Wait, you mean he threatened to get you fired? No wonder you’re stressed. Well, I suppose we always knew how little he was to be trusted… but why didn’t you just tell us? Harry could have fixed it in a flash.”
Hermione shook her head. “No, it’s- look, how about I start from the beginning? This is getting confusing.
“I actually first ran into him at the pub on Monday. He was completely trashed, and he was the reason I got kicked out. Then he passed out the second we were out the door, and I didn’t know what else to do, so I brought him back to my house.”
“I would’ve left him in the carpark,” Ginny remarked.
“I know he’s an arse, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I left him on the couch for the night. I took his wand off him though, and locked it in the bedroom with me. Anyway, the next morning Ron comes knocking at the door and Malfoy hears everything.”
“Oh Merlin, Ron’s still pestering you? I thought he stopped doing that months ago.”
“I wish. But Malfoy doesn’t even make fun of me, he just comes out with the most outrageous idea. He says that we should pretend to date, because then his mother will stop trying to get him to marry – I’m apparently not respectable enough to marry, by the way, bloody purebloods- and then Ron might finally get the hint that I’ve moved on. He invites me to go to the charity ball with him, tells me to think about it, takes his wand and leaves.”
“And you didn’t think it was a trick to, I don’t know, publicly humiliate you or something? I don’t trust him as far as I could throw him.”
“Well, of course I made up my mind to say no. The thing is, he accidentally took my wand, and then when my workmates saw me with his they assumed that I was dating someone, because how else would you accidentally end up with someone else’s wand? They’re such awful gossips. And somehow the news made it back to my boss.”
“And she threatened to fire you if you didn’t produce a boyfriend? That seems a bit strange.”
“I know, but that’s practically what she did! She said that she’d been worried that I was working too hard, and was going to make me take a break to get my life in order, but this ‘new man’ seemed to be good for me. I’ve been working on this for months, Ginny, if I left my research now it’d take me two months to get back to the stage I’m at now! You know how important this is, and I’m so close to a breakthrough, I know I am.”
Ginny nodded thoughtfully. “Well, I don’t know what else you could have done,” she admitted. “As much as I hate to admit it, Malfoy kind of saved your job, didn’t he? And I guess he benefits from the deal as well, so that makes it a bit less suspicious. So, is it just this one date, or…?”
“No, we said that we’d appear at public events together every now and again. Aside from that, we won’t really have anything to do with each other, so it’s not like he’s going to take over my life with this silly charade anyway. Oh, that reminds me- you and Harry will know the truth about this, but everyone else has to believe that it’s real, alright? For all intents and purposes it is real.”
Ginny smiled wryly. “You always were the rational one, weren’t you? Always looking out for the rest of us. Well look, this time we’ll look out for you, alright? The second Malfoy tries anything funny we’ll be on him like a ton of bricks.”
“What’s he even going to do though? The only time we’re going to be together is in public, and he can hardly hex me in from of everyone, especially since he’s an auror now.”
“True. You will be wearing the dress I bought you to the ball with him, won’t you? I really do hope you like it, it took me ages to get that charm right. I knew you wouldn’t try it on otherwise, and I wanted you to know how good it would look.”
“Oh Merlin. Ginny, that charm was the most perfect thing you have ever done in my entire life.”
“You… liked the dress then?”
“Oh, of course I did! But, even better, I might have had someone visiting to discuss a certain fake dating agreement, and maybe I happened to leave the letter lying around where someone who didn’t know about the tricks you and Harry like to play might be tempted to open it…”
Ginny smirked. “Hermione, you didn’t.”
“Oh, I did,” said Hermione, pulling a set of photographs from her purse and passing them to Ginny. “And if he puts so much as a foot out of line I’m going to send them straight to every tabloid and magazine in the wizarding world.”
“You are a devious, devious witch,” Ginny said. “I hate to think what kind of dirt you must have on me.”
“Oh, as if I’d ever want to blackmail you, Ginny. But this is enough about me and my problems. How have you been?”
“I can’t complain, I suppose. Though, I’ll admit that spending time around Teddy kinda makes me want kids of my own. He’s just… so full of life. I mean, I’d have to stop playing Quidditch, but I’ve been thinking about stopping for a while now. There’s only so many times you can get hit by a bludger and still want to keep going.”
“What will you do instead, then?”
“Well, Harry could support us on just his income, since we don’t have to pay rent like most other people our age, but I’d get bored sitting around the house all day. I was thinking that maybe I could get work as a sports writer, because I don’t mind writing, and I’d like to think that I know Quidditch well enough to write about it. Ron’s always complaining about how awful the guy that does match overviews for the Prophet is, so I couldn’t do much worse, right?”
“You’ll never know until you try,” Hermione replied. “But why now? You’re right, you can’t play Quidditch forever, especially if you want to have kids. Besides, they record most matches nowadays, so you don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to, but you’ll always have the choice of getting out there and watching a game for real.”
“Oh, I’m glad you think so. I should ask Luna if the Quibbler is hiring, it’s gradually become much more widely read, so maybe she’s wanting to expand the sort of things they print. Speaking of Luna, actually, you’ll never guess who I saw her with the other day…”
Ginny and Hermione were still talking when Harry returned three hours later, the remnants of the tea and biscuits still on the table in front of them.
“Well, I see you two have been busy,” he commented dryly. Hermione jumped, not realising that he was there.
“You enjoyed the movie, then?” Ginny asked cheerily.
“Well, I thought it was a bit weird, but Teddy seemed to like it. It took half of the car ride home to explain to him that he couldn’t win a chocolate factory of his own.”
“Where is he, anyway?” Ginny asked. “It’s not like him to be so quiet.”
“On the couch in the living room. Andromeda did say that he had a pretty late night last night, so I guess he needs a bit of a nap. Cars always put me to sleep when I was his age, too.”
“Aw, poor kid,” Hermione said. “If he’s sleeping, then, would you mind awfully if I went home? If I don’t do my washing today I’m not going to have anything to wear to work tomorrow, and Ginny did mention that Andromeda would be here to pick Teddy up soon anyway.”
Harry nodded. “No, that’s fine. Go ahead.”
“But didn’t you want to tell Harry about your date?” Ginny asked.
“But you said you’d do it for me, Ginny. It’s going to be bad enough telling Ron- who is getting the fake story, by the way, not the truth- and I’m only telling him so he doesn’t attack anyone on the night.”
“What night? Who have you got a date with?” Harry asked.
Hermione looked at Ginny desperately. “Please, Ginny?”
“Oh, alright, I suppose so. You did give me those brilliant photos. But you’d better keep me up to date with everything that’s going on with you two, alright?”
“You’ll get all the gossip, Ginny, I promise.” She said, smiling and waving at them before disapparating.
“What the hell was she just talking about?” Harry asked, confused. “Who’s she going with, and why didn’t she want to tell me herself?”
“Malfoy,” Ginny said. “And she didn’t want to tell you herself because she thought you might try to forbid her to do it.”
For once in his life, Harry Potter was speechless.
What did you think? I know this chapter was a little filler-y but I've been really busy, and I wanted to show a little more of how Ginny and Hermione interacted. Plus, Teddy is cute, right? Haha. Big thanks to RoseRed for reviewing, and to everyone else who's read or favourited my story so far :) We're almost at 1000 views!