"Wow, Ginny, this place is wonderful! How did you find it?" Hermione asked, looking around the Muggle women's boutique in amazement.
"I have some Muggle-born roommates who live here in London. I wrote them about our needs, and they suggested this place," Ginny said, leading Hermione towards the swimwear section. "Good thing it's close to Diagon Alley. As long as we're back in a couple of hours Mum won't even know we're gone," Ginny said, smiling devilishly.
As they reached the ladies swimwear, Hermione began to wonder if that would be enough time. "Look at all these suits! How are we going to choose?"
Ginny looked around quickly, all the while beaming smiles here and there. "Easy. We narrow our choices down based on what we're trying to achieve, then we only try on suits that we think will give us the best results, right? Didn't you just tell me that?"
Hermione sighed, turning to examine yet another rack of suits. "I'm beginning to think this wasn't such a good idea after all."
"Good idea? It's a wickedly brilliant idea! You can't back out on me now, Hermione Granger!" Ginny said, pointing an accusing finger at Hermione.
"Oh, all right, but I have no idea what to look for. I haven't bought a new suit in years, and I'm a terrible judge of fashion."
"What was wrong with your old suit?" Ginny asked, moving to yet another rack.
"Well, I may be a bad judge of fashion, but even I can tell my old suit is way out of date. Besides, it no longer fits in certain areas."
Ginny shot Hermione a quick glance. Hermione was blushing. Ginny took this as an opportunity.
"I see. Well, we'll just have to accentuate your newly developed assets, won't we?"
Hermione's jaw dropped in shock. "GINNY WEASLEY! You little… How could you…"
"Oh, come off it, Hermione! I saw you at the Yule Ball, remember? You put on quite a show that night. You aren't a girl anymore, you're a young woman, and it's time the boys were made aware of it. Now, are we going to do this are not?"
Hermione bit her lip. "I know what I said, but looking at these suits, I'm not sure I can do this."
Ginny walked up to Hermione with a big grin on her face. "Trust me, when you see the look on Ron's face, you will know the power these suits can have over a boy. It just takes a little getting used to, that's all."
Hermione eyed her friend suspiciously. "How do you know what the boys will like?"
Ginny began to fidget a little. "I might have snuck out of Diagon Alley from time to time during the summer and met up with my roommates in the stores. All they could talk about was this boy or that boy and what swimsuit they should wear."
"And you trust their judgment?"
Ginny nodded. "It was one of the few things we all agreed on."
Hermione nodded. "Ok, where do we begin?"
"Well, for maximum effect, we'll both want bikinis, of course," Ginny said thoughtfully.
"A bikini? You mean, like a two-piece?" Hermione said with concern.
Ginny rolled her eyes in a good imitation of Hermione. "Yes, Hermione, a two-piece, and a revealing one at that."
"I don't know, Ginny. Do you think I would look decent enough in one?" Hermione asked.
Ginny returned to the rack she had been standing next to, selected two bikinis and headed back to Hermione. She then grabbed Hermione and pulled her towards the changing rooms, saying, "There's only one way to be sure."
Hermione's eyes got wide. "You want me to try on THAT? Are you crazy? There's barely any material there! I can't put that on! Will you stop, please?"
"Nope," Ginny said unabashed. "You need to understand what this suit can do for you, and there's no other way to do it. I'm only asking that you try this on. If you don't like it we can go another direction, but you have to do this once."
Before Hermione could protest further, Ginny had opened the door of a changing room, tossed in the bikinis, pushed Hermione into the room and closed the door.
"Now, I'm not letting you leave until you have tried one of those on," Ginny said into the door.
"Oh really? And what would you do if I tried to leave?" Hermione's voice said from inside the room.
Ginny smiled. "Let's just say that bogeys aren't the only think I know how to bat hex."
"I am going to get you for this, Ginny Weasley, I swear," Hermione called out.
"You'll thank me later," Ginny said in a sing-song tone.
Ginny stood by the door and listened as Hermione undressed and put on one of the bikinis. She was amused by Hermione's frequent comments.
"Is this all of it? How does this go on… oh that CAN'T be right…. They've GOT to be KIDDING! I have underwear that covers more than this!"
Finally, Hermione announced, "Okay, you prat, come in and take a look."
Ginny looked to see if anyone was around before entering the changing room and closing the door behind her.
"I feel like I'm standing here completely naked, Ginny," Hermione commented as she stood there, her arms crossed in front of her chest in an attempt to cover herself.
Ginny smiled. "Okay, Hermione, you've taken the first step. Now, stand in front of the mirror."
Hermione blushed. "Do I have to?"
Ginny set her jaw. "Yes."
Hermione sighed. "Oh, alright, let's get this over with."
Hermione turned and faced the full-length mirror hanging on the wall. "Now what?"
"Drop your hands to your side," Ginny instructed.
Very slowly and tentatively Hermione relented. The bikini fit perfectly and complemented her figure very well.
"Now, see? That wasn't so bad…" Ginny said.
"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this. It doesn't cover much at all! It's bad enough wearing this in front of YOU!" Hermione said nervously.
"Slow down, Hermione! Take a deep breath. Relax, and forget you are wearing a bikini, okay?"
Hermione closed her eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"I am your best friend and I'm trying to help you out. Now, I can honestly say that you have a great figure, no question. That suit looks absolutely stunning on you. But, you're probably right about the coverage. If Ron saw you in that he'd probably die of a heart attack on the spot."
Gradually, Hermione started to turn herself this way and that to examine the bikini. Eventually she started adjusting the strings and fit here and there until she had it the way she wanted.
"You really think I have a good figure?" Hermione asked, turning around to examine the back of the bikini.
"Positive. You're way better off than I am." Ginny admitted.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, not looking away from the mirror.
"Let's just say you're better developed than I am," Ginny replied.
"Maybe," Hermione said, examining the bikini top. "But that's just because I'm a year older than you. Besides, I'm not THAT much further along."
Hermione spent a few more moments looking at the bikini before finally saying, "This isn't working, Ginny. It's much too revealing. Can I try something else now?"
"Okay. What don't you like about this suit, besides the fact that it shows too much? What don't you want to show?"
"I don't know, Ginny, it's just… it's like this suit is three pieces of cloth that cover the unmentionables. I want something a little more stylish, something that gets attention in ways other than just drawing attention to the naughty bits."
Ginny thought for a moment, then smiled. "I think I know just the thing. Wait here, I'll be right back."
Ginny ran out and stopped at one of the racks she had seen earlier. Finding what she wanted, she picked one in Hermione's size and handed it to her, then waited outside while Hermione put it on.
"Wow, Ginny, this is much better, come take a look."
Ginny walked in to discover Hermione positively admiring herself in the mirror.
"Oh, my, you look really good in that one," Ginny said, smiling broadly.
"What is this?" Hermione asked, turning around to admire the back of the suit.
"It's a newer style they call 'boy shorts'. My roommates told me about them last week. I think they look really sexy, and it covers more than a string bikini without loosing the attractive lines."
Hermione twisted here and there. "Is it supposed to do this to my boobs?"
Ginny giggled. "Yup, that's the idea."
"And it's supposed to dip this far below my belly button?"
Hermione continued to examine as much of the suit as she could. "What do you think Ron will say?"
"I think he'll be completely speechless, but if he does manage to say anything, he'll probably get mad at you for not putting enough on. Then he'll stare at you the whole time you have it on."
Suddenly Hermione stopped and stood still, looking into her own eyes in the mirror. "Ginny, why am I doing this?"
Ginny's smile disappeared. "It was your idea, you tell me."
Hermione sighed. "It was my idea to give Ron something to think about. I wish I knew how he really felt about me. I wish I knew if this is going help him make up his mind to approach me or completely scare him off."
Ginny nodded. "I guess that depends on if Ron is truly aware of his feelings for you."
Hermione turned to look at Ginny. "How do I know if he is?"
Ginny smiled. "I suppose you could ask Harry."
"Harry thinks Ron likes me. He wrote me and told me that."
Ginny's eyes widened a bit. "He wrote to me, too. He asked if you and Viktor had got together."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "He told me your father wrote him asking him to question Ron about me. He told me all about Amelia Bones, too."
"My dad did that? Hermione, that means he thinks Ron has feelings for you! If Dad thinks there's something there, then we can't be too off base about it."
"That reminds me: Did you ask your dad about this whole match-making thing? I had a hard time finding anything in my books."
Ginny sighed. "Yes, I did. He said it's an ancient tradition which is rarely followed anymore. He said Mrs. Bones loves the old traditions, and right after the ministry admitted that Voldemort had returned, she started blabbering on about 'ensuring the future of magic' and whatnot. Nobody took her seriously until she announced her intentions to pair Susan with Ron."
"Isn't there a way your parents can get out of it?" Hermione asked.
Ginny shook her head slowly. "Not without insulting Mrs. Bones."
Hermione looked away. "I just wish there was a way to know for sure how Ron felt about me."
"There are plenty of ways, Hermione. There are plenty of cowardly ways, and one or two very brave and straightforward ways. Now, of you'd like to know if Ron finds you physically attractive, and he'd have to be COMPLETELY clueless not to, then you'll buy that suit and strut your stuff in front of him."
Hermione turned back around to look in the mirror. "Does my butt look good in this?"
"Your butt looks fine, now quit stalling," Ginny said impatiently.
"Fine, you win, I'll buy it. Happy?" Hermione said.
"Not until Ron sees you in it," Ginny said.
Hermione shot Ginny a half-angry look. "Alright then, time to see YOUR new suit now."
Ginny grinned evilly. "If you insist. I'll have it on by the time you're dressed."
True to her word, by the time Hermione had dressed and put the first two bikinis back on the rack, Ginny was calling her in to her dressing room.
"Wow, Ginny, you look like a model or something," Hermione said as she saw Ginny's swimsuit.
"You like it? I went with a slightly different cut. My hips don't have quite the shapely curves that yours do," Ginny said as she reexamined the bikini bottom.
"If you say so. I think that outfit is going to go a long way towards taking Harry's mind off his troubles for a little while. If this doesn't make him stop and take full notice of you, nothing will."
"I hope so. I'm still not sure I'm developed enough to make this look work," Ginny said nervously.
"You're not giving yourself enough credit. I may have 'shapely curves', but you are more toned than I am. It must be the Quidditch."
Suddenly Ginny blushed. "Do you think the boys will take their shirts off at the pool?"
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know, why?"
Ginny turned around with one of her evil grins on her face. "Well, don't you want to see what Quidditch has done to their chests?"
Hermione looked shocked, the smiled and blushed. "Now that you mention it, it would be interesting to observe their athletic physiques."
"That's the spirit!" Ginny cheered. "Now, let's get these suits paid for and get back to Diagon Alley. We should probably get back and break these suits in before the boys get back."
"Break them in? What do you mean?" Hermione asked, confused.
"You just don't know what a suit is going to do in the water until you try," Ginny said. "I've heard horror stories of other girls wearing a new bikini to the beach only to discover the top slid off every time they dove into the water."
Hermione look horrified. "How embarrassing! I can't imagine that happening!"
"That's why we break them in while the boys are gone. And since we don't know exactly when Harry will arrive, we'd best do it quickly."
"Oh, that's right! I'll let you get dressed, and then we'll pay and go."