Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe is owned by JKR. I'm making no profit by this.
A/N: Special thanks to Happydog for putting up with my delays and dashes! :)
The Truth...and a Few Lies The Burrow, early July
and Hermione stood in the bathroom together, brushing their teeth in
silence, exchanging excited glances in the mirror. The time for female
companionship had returned at last. They hadn't been able to confide in
each other since the Third Task, and that seemed months ago what with
everything that had happened: Voldemort, Percy, and the Order. And it
had been only a week since they'd seen each other. Teeth brushed, they
retreated to Ginny's room and shut the door.
Ginny slithered into a nightgown and flung herself into bed.
"So? How is Viktor?"
Hermione rolled up the cuffs of her new, too-long pajama trousers and
gave Ginny a mischievous look. "I take it Ron discussed Viktor's
invitation with you?"
Ginny grinned. "Daily, but mostly under his breath."
Hermione grinned and slipped under the covers of her cot. "Good…"
Ginny felt her smile fade as familiar worry set in. "Oh, Hermione! How
is he? Mum wouldn't tell me anything, and I don't want to ask Ron--it
would only give him ideas."
Hermione frowned. "Harry writes that he's fine. He's not fine, of course. Well, that's Harry for you."
Ginny vented a little sigh. "I wish I could help him."
Hermione turned onto her side. "Speaking of which, where did you
disappear to at the end of term? I thought you would go up to visit
Harry, but Ron and I never saw you there. All of your brothers went."
It wouldn't have looked odd or suspicious, Hermione meant: she had as
much right to visit Harry as anyone else in her family had.
Ginny crawled under her covers. "I couldn't go, Hermione. It was so
hard to see him, just that brief glimpse that I had, when he came back
with Cedric's body." All she could recall of the moment was holding
Hermione's hand and shrieking. It had seemed like every girl in the
school was shrieking, Cho Chang loudest of all.
Hermione made a noise.
Ginny plunged on. "And then, when Mum came back all red-eyed, I knew
that I couldn't handle it. I'd have ended up weeping all over him and
given Harry even more reason to think that I'm a stupid little girl."
Ginny sighed. In fact, after Hermione had let go of her hand and rushed
to Harry's side, weeping was all that Ginny could do.
"Anyway," she said briskly. "I've given up on him. I'm going with Michael Corner, now."
Ginny carefully avoided looking at her friend. "Well, you
know...Michael and I've been friends since the Yule Ball, after all. He
knew that I had some small connection to Harry, and he was very
consoling after the third task. Anyhow. It's amazing how much the
comfort and support of someone else can make one forget oneself..." A
little bit of a lie, but moderately true as well. She stole a look at
Hermione's brows shot upwards. "Ginny Weasley!"
Ginny blushed. "Nothing like that.Only..."
She couldn't resist. "...well, it was very easy to move from hugs to
snogging." She grinned when Hermione's jaw lowered. Ginny remembered
that first kiss; it had been such a surprise to both of them. Harry was
off with Moody, Dumbledore closely following, Hermione was sobbing into
Ron's shoulder and there was Michael, making unplanned advances.
"I'm sorry," he'd said. "I shouldn't have...but I couldn't help..."
"It's amazing," Ginny said thoughtfully, "absolutely amazing how much a
little kissing can take your mind off of everything else."
"Well, it was only the once, really. Well, two or three times, but it took my mind off of...things." Little things like Voldemort being back, for instance. "So, now Michael writes me these boring epistles, and I send back a page or so about how much Ron unknowingly moons over you."
Laughing, Hermione threw her pillow at Ginny's head.
"I cannot believe you, Ginny! I just...it's only...well, I thought that you really loved Harry now."
Ginny blushed and picked at her bedspread. "I still like him, Hermione,
but it's hopeless, isn't it? So, I'm giving up on him. Harry and I
haven't really talked ever. I can't go living off of casual comments,
shared glances, and catching his occasional absent stare in my
direction." She snorted. "I'm just not that silly. Not really." , she
said trying to be convincing. Ok, well that's a lie.
"Of course you're not," Hermione gushed. "I didn't mean...only...I
still do think that you'd be good for him. You're good for me--you're
good for Ron. Harry's own fault that he's so blind."
Ginny felt gratitude swell within her. She looked up. "Thank you."
Hermione gave her a wry smile. "You're welcome. Now give me my pillow back."
And, laughing, Ginny chucked Hermione's pillow at her head.
Lying to Michael The Burrow, early July
How are you? I'm fine. I just got an owl from Terry Boot who heard from
Bones that the ministry is still denying You-Know-Who's return. Is that
really true? The Ministry people are idiots--excepting your dad, I'm
sure. I'll bet he knows some other people that believe what Dumbledore
said--I hate how the Daily Prophet never tells us anything useful.
Anyhow, let me know everything you can! We're desperate for news out
Ginny stared at Michael's latest letter and sighed at the last two
lines. Did he really think it was safe to send a letter like that? Did
he think it was safe for her to write the truth? If none of them could
write the truth to Harry, she certainly wasn't going to write it to
Idiot boy, she thought. Did boys always seem weird after one started dating them? She'd have to keep track.
It had been one week since Hermione's arrival at the Burrow, and after
last night's conversation with her parents, it was clear to Ginny why
Mum had decided to let Hermione come, some mysterious Order was
reforming, and Dumbledore wanted to keep an eye on everyone who was
already a known enemy of Voldemort. That included Ginny's family, and
it certainly included all bushy-haired best friends to Harry James
Potter. They were supposed to move to headquarters a week ago, but then
Percy had gone into git mode and delayed everything. Everyone was glad
that Percy had his row with Dad before they'd found out about
the order. Still, Mum hadn't wanted to leave the Burrow until she was
certain Percy wasn't coming back. Well, after her trip to London
yesterday, it was certain.
Ginny sighed, wishing her brother
had sense, heart, and humor to go with his brains. It made her heart
ache to think about the pain he was causing the family.
Footsteps clattered up the stairs, followed shortly by Hermione bursting into the room.
"Are you packed, yet?" she asked, breathless. "Oh, I'm so excited! I
wonder where they're taking us...did you really fit everything into
Ginny waved her letter. "Yes, and I would be
ready, but I just got another dull epistle from Michael. I should
answer it while his owl is still here." She frowned at Michael's tiny
scrawl and thought about that last line again. Let me know everything you can.
"Just look at this," she said, shoving the letter at Hermione. She bit
her lip. "I can't have him writing letters like this after today…not
where we're going. Might be better if he didn't write me at all, do you
Hermione glanced through the brief letter and looked
at Ginny with round eyes. "What are you going to do? Break it off with
Ginny thought about it and gave a lopsided grin. Snogging was rather
fun. And Michael wasn't such an idiot in person--usually. He was worth
at least one good lie. After that, she'd have to see.
write that I flew my broom in front of some Muggles and Mum has
grounded me from giving and receiving owls for the rest of the summer.
Will that do?"
Hermione blinked. "Um." She looked
uncomfortable. "Your Mum said that lunch is nearly ready. I'll meet you
downstairs when you're done." She opened the door and paused. "You
really don't mind lying to him like that?"
Ginny rolled her
eyes. "I can't very well tell the truth, can I? We can't even tell
Harry the truth. And if Michael's going to say stupid, incriminating
things in his letters, I can't have him writing me, either. I'll
explain everything to him at the end of the summer. He's a Ravenclaw;
he aught to be smart enough to understand." She winked.
Hermione shook her head and pulled the door closed behind her. Ginny
removed parchment and quill and began composing her letter.
Lying to Tonks 12 Grimmauld Place, mid-July
Ginny crept down the staircase in her stockings hoping that none of her
family was awake yet. Ron would be sleeping, she knew, as would the
twins—they'd had a busy time of it cleaning out the room that Ron would
eventually share with Harry. Dad wasn't back from the Ministry yet.
It was mostly Mum that she hoped was still asleep.
The kitchen was empty of everyone except Sirius and Tonks. Ginny looked
at Tonks' silver, glittering Mohawk and grinned broadly. With hair that
shape and color, Tonks was sure to be in a good mood.
"Morning," Ginny croaked.
Sirius, nose in the paper, muttered a greeting, but Tonks grinned right back at her.
"Hey! My favorite Weasley!" she rose partly from her chair and knocked over the salt shaker. "Oh… Can I make you breakfast?"
Ginny smiled. "No. I was going to make pancakes again. Want some?"
Sirius lowered his paper slightly and looked at Ginny. "Was that you yesterday…with the apples in the batter?"
"How many?" she asked, happy to see him emerge somewhat from his foul mood.
"Is four too greedy?" He gave a mock-pensive look.
Ginny grinned. "Not at all."
Ginny made up the cakes and brought them to the table just as Sirius
rattled the paper and swore loudly. Startled, Tonks dropped a stack of
plates onto the floor; she muttered a hasty reparo. Ginny was
glad that her mother was still asleep; Mum seemed to have taken a
distinct dislike to Tonks. Maybe it was her clumsiness...though Ginny
supposed it had more to do with the way Tonks and Charlie had gotten
along last week after the first big Order meeting with Dumbledore.
Charlie was oblivious, of course, but not Mum. And Mum wasn't so sure
that a woman who couldn't make a meal without setting fire to the
kitchen should be attached or even attracted to one of her sons.
Ginny took one of the repaired plates from Tonks and settled it in front of Sirius.
"Something bad in the paper?"
Sirius waved a hand and said nothing at first. Then, as though coming
to a decision, he carefully folded the paper and set it aside. Tonks
exchanged a glance with Ginny.
"Just more terrible humor," he said darkly.
Ginny knew what humor Sirius meant. Lately, the Prophet had taken to
treating Harry as England's biggest running gag: attention-seeking
liar/storyteller. The worst was the week they hinted that Harry wanted
people to worship him because of his scar. Ginny felt anger gather in
her stomach and cheeks.
"Bastards!" Ginny stabbed three cakes
and flung them onto her plate. "Harry doesn't need all that. He's got
enough to worry about...!"
She felt the sudden silence in the
room. Looking up, Ginny found Sirius watching her with a thoughtful
expression. Tonks's laden fork was suspended over her lap.
Sirius nodded. "He does, doesn't he?"
Syrup dripped from Tonks's fork to her lap.
Ginny shrugged, fighting against a blush. She fingered the Black family
crest on her fork before viciously attacking her pancakes. "Well, of
course he does. I'm sure he's feeling guilty about Cedric...Tom Riddle
has this way of making you feel guilty about something that he did
through you or through some choice you made--no matter how innocent,
noble, well-meaning, stupid..." Ginny had to stop. One more
word and she'd start sobbing, confess her undying love for Harry to
Harry's escaped-convict godfather, and then proceed to bawl out Tonks
for switching from her silver Mohawk to black hair and green eyes.
She looked up and saw that Sirius's eyes were fixed upon hers. He
looked so incredibly solemn, almost shaken. Sirius swallowed. Ginny
could not stop staring into his eyes--they were gray like the stone
floor, but they glittered with what might have been suppressed tears.
"Yes," he said softly. "Yes."
Ginny wondered what he was
saying yes to. Hermione had at last told her the story about how Sirius
had traded with Scabbers to be the Potters' secret keeper. Was that
what Sirius regretted? It was clear that he regretted something, and
what could cause more regret than that? Ginny turned her attention back
to her apple pancakes. They were now soggy with syrup, and they no
longer resembled pancakes.
"I've heard Dumbledore call him Tom," Sirius said, then. "There aren't many who know that name."
Ginny swallowed a mouthful of mushy cake before looking up. She was
surprised that she had called him Tom; in her anger, she had completely
forgotten to be frightened of his name, even the name that few others
knew. But her anger was gone now.
"I met him--Riddle--my first
year at Hogwarts through an old diary of his. Four students were
petrified because I trusted him. I'm grateful that none of them died."
A brief silence followed her words.
"You know about the guilt, then," Sirius said quietly. "I can see that
it never quite left you either. Yet, somehow, you escaped and are no
longer under Voldemort's power."
"Yes," Ginny said quietly,
but she wasn't so certain about the last. Sometimes, late at night,
despite Dumbledore's assurances, Ginny wasn't sure she had escaped
Tonks's voice interrupted the silence that followed
Ginny's statement. "I remember, now. She's alive because Harry rescued
Embarrassed, Ginny looked again to her pancakes.
Sirius startled Ginny by reaching across the table and taking Ginny's
hand. "There is no need for embarrassment: I understand your
partisanship. Harry rescued me as well."
When Ginny looked up and saw the kindness and affection in Sirius's eyes, she knew that he did understand.
"I'm glad he rescued you," she said.
Sirius smiled kindly. "And I'm glad that he rescued you."
The twins appeared shortly after that, followed by Hermione and the
rest of the household. Tonks jumped up to speak with Lupin; he seemed
to be the reason for her early arrival that morning. Then Ron appeared,
and Mum got busy with the breakfast. In the din and confusion, Ginny
snuck off to the room she shared with Hermione. She was surprised when
Tonks knocked and let herself into the room.
"Don't you have duty today?" Ginny asked.
Tonks shrugged. "In a bit, Moody has something special planned." She
rolled her eyes; Ginny giggled. Tonks smiled and settled onto
Hermione's bed. "So," she said.
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "Yes?"
"So, I didn't realize it until today…about Harry…"
Ginny groaned and flopped sideways on her bed. "It's so stupid," she
said. "I'm dating Michael Corner, this handsome, perfectly nice boy,
and I can't stop myself from... Well, it's stupid."
doesn't seem stupid to me," Tonks said. "I mean, Harry's a bit young
for me, but he seems rather perfect, you know? Handsome, even a little
dishy...a hero...rescued you from the fangs of death and all that."
Ginny snorted. "He's not perfect, you know. He's completely oblivious
to the feelings of others and a real stupid git sometimes--he was
horrid to Hermione two years ago--and he attracts trouble. If Mum were
in her right mind, she never would have encouraged me when I was ten."
Tonks whistled. "Four years. That's a long time to fancy someone."
Ginny rolled her eyes and sat upright. "Oh, really? Anyhow, I'm dating Michael, now, so that's that."
"So you said." Tonks fixed her with a hard look. "But some advice for you: don't settle. It's a bad habit to get into."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ginny asked, bristling. "I'll have you know that I like Michael very much."
Tonks gave her a wry smile. "Of course you do, Ginny." She stood. "Hey, see you later, all right?"
Ginny nodded. "Constant vigilance!" she said, hoping to mask her
anxiety with humor. Tonks's grin said that, if she didn't believe
Ginny, she was at least willing to play along. Ginny really couldn't
ask for more than that.
Caught 12 Grimmauld Place, end of July
Ginny watched Tonks and Charlie play chess at the kitchen table and
wondered how Tonks did it. It was obvious that Tonks liked her brother;
it was equally obvious that Charlie, in the typical manner of certain
other Weasley males, was completely oblivious. Not uninterested, simply
oblivious. Tonks, who knocked over saltshakers and dropped plates with
distressing frequency for an Auror was accident-free in Charlie's
presence. Ginny had been watching her all evening. Not one dropped
fork, buttered elbow, or spilled porridge bowl.
How did she do that?
Later, when Charlie had gone back to Romania again, and Ron had taken
Hermione upstairs to whisper about Harry's latest letter, Ginny found
herself asking Tonks that very question.
"How do you do that?"
"Act like you don't like someone when, in fact, you like them very much."
Tonks smiled. "Hmm. Muggle tactic. Get to be very good friends with
them--treat them as though they were anyone else. Tell yourself that
you only want to be their friend for now--to just try him out without
his knowing. No pressure. After all, you can't get to know someone
really well unless you're friends with them, anyway. Look at what your
friend Hermione is doing. She's Muggle-born, she knows. Takes what she
Ginny contemplated becoming Harry's friend. It
still seemed impossible, but not quite so daunting as going straight
from Unknown Weasley to Snogging Companion. Mmm. Snogging Companion… Ginny
lost her train of thought for a moment. She imagined Harry-the-Friend
and tried to imagine how they might start spontaneously snogging.
Ginny frowned. "Well what do you do once you've got them as a friend?"
Tonks grinned and pushed off from the table. "I don't know," she said.
"Still single, aren't I?" She nodded at the kitchen door. "And I don't
think Hermione's got that one figured out, either. I think it's a
little different for everyone."
Ginny felt her frown deepen. "But you think I should become his friend?"
Tonks's grin broadened. "Why, Ginny! You told me that you and Michael were already dating."
Tonks pulled open the kitchen door, still grinning. "Good night."