Some Parties Are Worth the Torture
There was only an hour left before the party was scheduled to start. Hermione had been helping Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen for the better part of three hours with the snacks. At first, she insisted on having no part with the food, claiming that she didn't want to ruin it. But, of course, she eventually gave in after Mrs. Weasley used some persuasive arguments that she simply couldn't refuse. That woman should be considered a miracle worker.
Wiping her hands from the excess flour, Mrs. Weasley turned to Hermione with a small smile. “Well I think we're just about finished.”
They both turned to look at the table in the center to the kitchen, which was now covered in pastries, fish and chips, and basically anything they could alter to have a red and green tint. This meant everything except for the kitchen itself. Hermione looked at the table in accomplishment, a certain proud aura coming off of her. If someone had told her she would be helping someone cook for a bunch of adolescent teenagers, she might have killed them for proposing such an absurd idea. But now she couldn't be more polar to that.
“All that's left now is the turkey, which should be finished by dinnertime.” Glancing at the clock, she turned to Hermione, “You should get ready for the party.”
“But what about—”
“No but's about it. I'll take care of the rest myself. You've been more than helpful these past few hours, the least you can do for yourself is make yourself nice and pretty for the party. Now shoo!” She made a waving gesture with her hands and Hermione reluctantly followed.
She made it up to Ginny's room and shut the door behind her. Luck for her, Ginny was out and about around the house, cleaning and dusting much like she and Harry had done those few days ago. Sighing, Hermione made her way over to the bag where her party dress was in. Yesterday, Mrs. Weasley had taken her and Ginny out dress shopping for the party in Diagon Ally. When Ginny took three hours in every store, only to come up empty handed, it took all that Hermione had not to tear her hair out. She had found her dress in the first store; a green empire-wasted party dress with silver trimming about the bust and double layered chiffon lower half.
Ginny, after about three stores, found her dress as well. It was a silver sequin low-cut dress that came to her knees and made her look gorgeous. Mrs. Weasley only agreed to buy the revealing dress because it was on sale… oh, and she was a spoiled brat.
Hermione had never cared for parties. The only ones she had ever been to were the ones held at the Malfoy Manor and they never ceased to bore her to an early grave. The Malfoy's took any opportunity they could to throw a party to show off their riches, and that included using Hermione's own birthday. She was always forced out of the confines of her bedroom and dressed in the finest of dresses and jewels with no one but Draco to keep her company. She had a feeling that this party wouldn't be much different. They were all the same.
Hermione slipped the dress over her head and adjusted it around her body, fidgeting to get it placed just right. She went to the full length mirror placed against the wall and looked at her reflection. It didn't look like any of the other dresses she had ever worn. In fact, she chose this one because of its simplicity and lack of regality. All of the others she was forced to wear were full of frills and elegant patterns. The finest money could buy. If she thought about it for too long, she would think she was spoiled.
Turning around, she slipped on a pair of silver shoes she had bought to go along with her dress and made her way down the stairs. She didn't feel like bothering with her hair. The voices downstairs became louder as she descended, empty conversations filled with empty words. Maybe if she was quiet enough, they wouldn't notice her. But, there was always that one piece of wood that always creaked. So when she felt as though she would slip past them as silent as a mouse, she was proven wrong. The second to last step creaked and the whole room turned to look at her. Fred, George, Ron, Harry, Bill, and Fleur's eyes focused on Hermione as she ground her teeth in frustration. It seemed as if everyone had something to say, as a slur of compliments came spilling out from their mouths.
“Blimy” Ron breathed.
“You look…” Fred started.
“Bloody fantastic!” George finished.
“Tr�s magnifique!” Fleur gushed.
“You look beautiful.” Bill said with a grin.
The only person who didn't say anything was Harry, he was too busy staring at her. Hermione should have felt at least a little bit of power by getting this much of a reaction out of him. But all she felt was her face growing red. She seriously needed to get a hold of herself, and fast. And, as quickly as she thought it, the warmth went away. She smiled at all of them in thanks and took a seat on the couch. She stole a glance at Harry and met his eyes with her own. She tried her best to throw him a sweet, innocent smile. But her attempt was squished as he looked away suddenly. What was up with him?
Ginny descended the stairs shortly afterward, earning wolf whistles from Fred and George. Her pale legs looked amazing and her red hair was curled and unnaturally shiny. Hermione couldn't help but let a pang of jealously flow through her. Ginny looked gorgeous and suddenly, she regretted getting something plain. She really shouldn't second guess herself so much, it only lead to things like this. Emotions like this.
“Ginny, you look gorgeous.” She heard Harry say, giving her a kiss on the lips.
It was a good thing that she turned her head away, or else she might have vomited all over Ginny's dress. Oh, what a pity that would have been. Truly tragic. But alas, she still felt the nausea in her lower stomach, straining against her skin. It wasn't helping the situation. The party hadn't even started yet and she was already thoroughly depressed. Perfect.
There was a knock at the door not even a moment later and Hermione suppressed a groan. Time to find a corner to sulk in.
The couch squeaked as she got up and made her way to where Mrs. Weasley had placed the punch. She poured herself a cup and sipped it gingerly, the fruity liquid engulfing her taste buds. She wished that it was spiked with a little bit of firewhisky so that she could at least somewhat enjoy herself, even if it was a hoax. If she recalled correctly, she might have packed some. She shook the thoughts from her head before they could get too inn depth. She didn't need to take her distaste out on innocent bystanders. Well, not now at least. Besides, if Mrs. Weasley got wind of it, there would be hell to pay.
Hermione turned around and saw a pair of wide, silver eyes staring at her and she smiled shortly. “Hello, Luna.”
Luna's dress was a multitude of different shades of blue patterns and fabrics, all in different layers. She was still wearing her butterbeer cork necklace and radish earrings and Hermione wondered vaguely if she ever took them off. Her platinum locks were pulled back in a single French braid that reached down to her lower back with little clips woven in it and her shoes were a miss-matched pair of trainers, one with rainbow stripes, the other with blue and white stars.
“How have you been holding up?” The blonde asked.
“What do you mean?”
“With Ginny and Harry of course.” Luna answered simply.
“Oh, well…” Hermione trailed off.
“Yes, they really are quite the couple, aren't they?” Luna asked, looking towards where Harry and Ginny were standing, talking with Seamus and Dean. “But if I'm right… the nargles will try to disrupt their meeting under the mistletoe.” Her gaze drifted to the bright pink arrangement.
“Nargles?” Hermione asked.
She turned back to her, “Yes, nargles. They often infest mistletoe unless some other type of shrubbery is around. Making or breaking the moment over the couple that most deserves it at the designated time.”
“What are they going to do to Harry and Ginny?”
Luna gave her an odd look, “They're not going to do anything. They're simply going to sprinkle some invisible bubbling ashes on their heads.”
“And what will that do?”
Luna rolled her eyes, “I don't know that. What do you think I am, psychic?”
“Harry and Ginny will meet the fate that the nargles want them too. No one else can control that, not even if their hidden desires are begging them to.”
Hermione furrowed her brow, “Excuse me?”
“Have a nice night, Hermione.” She waved and turned to walk towards Ron.
Luna always ended up making her more confused than she already was. She should really learn to tune her out. Right her mind said sarcastically, because you're so good at doing that.
Grumbling, she made her way over to the fireplace and sat on the run in front of it. Staring into the flames, she let her mind empty. How she wished that she was back at Hogwarts so that she could immerse herself in her studies. That always made for a good distraction. Well, until someone noticed you and asked you what was wrong. To which the person in question would respond “Nothing” just to make the other person go away. Honestly, didn't people recognize the signs that someone wanted to be left alone? Sometimes human contact can grow to be too much.
Around her, the party was in full swing. The last of the guests had just arrived and it wouldn't be long until dinner would be served. It seemed as though everyone in their year was here—save the Slytherins, of course. It would have been nice to see Draco. She missed him. It was her first holiday without him and she felt his absence pressing down on her like a dark precipice.
“Come on, Harry!” Ginny's voice squealed from behind her.
“Ginny, I already told you that I don't think it's a good idea.”
Hermione's neck turned to see the red head gripping Harry's arm tightly and pulling him towards the entryway to the kitchen.
“Why not?” she asked with a pout, tugging harder on his arm.
“Because we don't know if it works yet, that's why not.” He said through clenched teeth. From the position he was in, it looked as though Ginny was stronger than Hermione had originally thought.
“Well then we can test it!” she said brightly. “It's not as if my parents are watching or anything. You don't have to be such a prude.”
“I'm not a prude, Gin, and you know that.” He said with a slight amusement hidden in his tone.
Hermione saw a flush of pink grace Ginny's cheeks before it quickly disappeared and was replaced by a stony expression. “Well then what's there to worry about? If it doesn't work, we can just yell at Fred and George to fix it.”
“Ginny…” he warned.
Ignoring his plea, she gave a final hard tug and placed them both beneath the mistletoe. Hermione held her breath as Ginny looked at Harry with a victorious smirk. Harry looked as if he wanted to be anywhere but there, darting his eyes around the room. Hermione looked at the pink arrangement as it began to spurt a wall of dust, much as it had done when she and Harry had been under there. Bracing herself for a big, sloppy kiss, she began to turn away but something caught her eye that made her keep her focus on the couple. The dust was around the two of them and gaining the attention of the entire room but something was off… it looked to be a pale shade of red instead of the opaque sheen it had taken with her and Harry.
The two didn't seem to notice, because Ginny looked at the crowd and gave Hermione a small wink before leaning up to capture his lips with hers. Hermione flinched and made to turn away again, but for a second time, something stopped her. Ginny and Harry jerked apart as if invisible hand had pushed them and flew to opposite side of the room. Concerned calls and gasps and even a few laughs erupted throughout the room and Hermione resisted the urge to go and comfort Harry, who was rubbing his neck from where he had hit a bookcase.
Ginny, on the other hand had hit a corner where a stuffed version of a Christmas tree was placed and got up easily without any sign of injury. She rushed over to Harry's side and helped him get up, making the fire in Hermione's lower stomach grow hotter.
“Oh Harry, are you alright?” she asked in a sickenly sweet voice.
“I'm fine.” He said darkly.
Ginny gave him a small smile, “Well, I guess we'll have to go get Fred and George now…”
“No need for that.” Fred popped up, jumping to where they were standing. George was quickly behind him and they looked at the couple with wide grins.
“Alright you two…” Ginny said coolly, “You're little invention is faulty.”
George gasped and placed a hand over his heart, “Why little sister, I'm insulted.”
“It's an outrage!”
“Honestly, you think we'd make something that doesn't work?”
“Yeah! You just… you're just… JEALOUS!”
Ginny looked at them humorously, her arms crossed over her chest, “Right… I'm jealous… yeah, okay.”
“WE KNEW IT!” they yelled in unison.
Hermione could see the whole room roll their eyes at the petty outburst that came from the twins. It was pretty hard to miss the ridiculousness. But Hermione hoped for her sake that Ginny ended up winning the argument. Wait. Who was she kidding? It was Ginny. And besides, Hermione already knew the mistletoe was faulty.
“The bottom line is that you two need to fix it. Now.” Ginny growled.
“Whoa” Fred said, backing up a little as if a wind had blown him back. “What's the rush? You can kiss Harry whenever you want to, no need to make it public.”
Hermione knew why she needed to. Bitch.
“Well what's the point of hanging it up if it doesn't work? They'll be people shooting all over the room and being matched with the wrong people! Pandemonium will ensue and it'll all be your fault.”
The twins looked at each other before speaking together, “Evidently, you need to have your brain checked.”
Ginny looked at them with a cocked eyebrow. She opened her mouth to retort, but a piercing voice interrupted her. “Dinner's ready!”
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley came through the kitchen opening and stopped in their tracks. The mistletoe emitted the dust; it was opaque as it formed around the two elder Weasleys, enveloping them in an all too familiar bubble. Hermione, as well as many of the other party goers looked in wonder at the bundle and the couple underneath. Mrs. Weasley turned to the crowd and blushed as she realized what kind of situation she had gotten into. Mr. Weasley, however, scooped up the blushing woman into his arms and planted a sweet kiss on her lips. Catcalls sounded throughout the room mixed with a few gagging noises from their children.
When they pulled apart, Mrs. Weasley looked like a ripe tomato and Mr. Weasley was grinning like Christmas had come two days early. Hermione watched them with envy. Love. It was a commonplace thing, but oh so foreign to her eyes. It was nice to know that the mistletoe worked on someone. Wait a second…
Hermione turned back around quickly to see Harry openly staring at her with wide eyes. Ginny was oblivious to this, for her face was contorted to one of pure rage as she glared at Fred and George. Fred was trying to avoid his sister's eyes and George was discreetly moving his hands to protect a very sensitive part of the male anatomy from being injured.
“Well would you look at that…” George started.
“It's fixed.” Fred finished feebly.
Ginny just kept glaring at the two of them. But after a small amount of time, she looked between Harry and Hermione and screamed in exasperation, storming out of the room and up the stairs. The connection between the two of them broke when they felt Ginny's eyes. Harry cast a last fleeting look at Hermione before rushing up the stairs after his girlfriend. She had a feeling that he was trying to send her an apology. It didn't help the feeling of her lower stomach dropping to the tips of her feet. She felt a pair of eyes on her and she craned her neck to see Fred looking at her with a small nod to upstairs. “Go after him.” He mouthed.
Hermione shook her head and he gave her a warning look. She didn't know why, but she felt compelled to obey him after that. There was no Legilimency prying into her brain… so what could it be? Instinct? Well, whatever it was, it was enough to get her up and onto her feet. Up the stairs she went with a single thought pulsing through her head, Was the mistletoe accurate or not?
She reached Ginny bedroom and heard two muffled voices. One male, one female, both raised above normal tones. Hermione wanted to see this for herself, but knew that she shouldn't interrupt this particular argument. So she settled for pressing her ear up against the door. For once, she was thankful for the Weasley's not being able to afford something. And in this case, it was thicker wood for doors.
“Ginny you just need to calm down, alright?” Harry tried to say evenly.
“Calm down… calm down? How in the hell am I supposed to calm down when you…” She cut herself off, as if afraid to say the next part.
“When I what?” Harry asked slowly. She didn't answer, so he repeated himself, “Ginny, when I what?”
“WHEN YOU KISSED HER, THAT'S WHAT!” she screamed.
Hermione put a hand over her mouth and flinched away from the door. How did she know about that?
Harry seemed to be in the same state as she was, because he took his time in answering the loud outburst. “How did you… when did you…?”
“I saw it, you moron!” She said bluntly. “I was there!”
Hermione thought for a moment. She certainly hadn't noticed anyone there besides herself, Harry, and Fred. But Ginny could have been coming down the stairs and looked in and saw them. It was all so ironic that she didn't want to think about it.
“Ginny, it was just a kiss, it meant nothing.” Harry said evenly.
“Oh really? Then explain what just happened downstairs.” Hermione could envision her crossing her arms.
“That… well… like they said, it must have gotten fixed.” He answered feebly.
Ginny laughed mockingly. “I was just talking about the mistletoe, Harry. I was talking about they way you two were eye-shagging the shit out of each other.”
We were not eye-shagging! Hermione internally screamed.
“We were not eye-shagging!” Harry yelled.
Thank you! She thought with a sigh.
“Oh don't give me that bullshit!” Ginny screamed. “There's no use denying it!”
“Denying what, exactly?”
Ginny took a long pause. Hermione was waiting impatiently as she wanted to hear the answer to that as well. What did they have to deny? It wasn't as if they were secretly shagging or something. She inwardly laughed at that. Like she would sink so low as to shag her target. It was bad enough that she genuinely liked him, but to shag him was something that was pretty much off limits to dwell upon. If he ever wanted to shag her (which she had no doubt in her mind that he did), she could easily pull away.
Ginny's quiet voice interrupted her thoughts and she once again pressed her ear against the thin door and strained to hear it. “If you can't figure that out… I don't think this is going to work.”
“What… what's not going to work?”
“Us” She said in a voice only just above a whisper.
There was a silence and Hermione didn't know whether to jump for joy or huddle up in a nearby corner and cry.
“I just… I'm done.” She said in the same tone.
“Yes Harry, done.”
Another pause. “So what do we do now?”
“You can get out of my room and leave me alone.” She said smoothly, almost as if she was asking him to go and get her a glass of water.
Hermione heard footsteps and scrambled to get to the other side of the hallway at least to avoid the door swinging into her. Her back collided with the wall just as the door to Ginny's room opened and out stepped Harry, looking both exhausted and dejected. His gaze was focused on the floor and Hermione thought that he might not notice her. If only she were that lucky.
His footsteps stopped he caught sight of her, haphazardly sprawled out against the opposing wall, her dress flowing around her and her eyes locked on the floor. Their eyes met simultaneously and it was as if there was an unspoken connection that allowed them to speak through their wide orbs. Searching for a solution, digging for a way so that everyone would be happy that would have no dire consequences. But who were they kidding? There was no way this could pan out that didn't have someone getting hurt in the process. So there was an agreement between them in that instant. If people didn't believe there was nothing going on between them, then there would be nothing.
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger had to see as little of each other as possible.
“I love her.” He said in a small mumble.
She nodded even though she thought otherwise, that she really didn't sympathize with him for a second. But she had always been a good liar. “I understand.” It was liquid poison.
He sent her a small smile, trying to reassure her. It wasn't as if they were best friends or anything. They had only known each other for a few months so after this whole ordeal, they could continue normally. Or as close to normal as two people like them could get. It would all work out. Harry would gain back Ginny's trust or find out what the hell she was on about and Hermione would complete her mission with more ease. Simple. But if it was so simple, then why was there a burning sensation in her chest? Was it a bad idea?
“See you around?”
At that moment a time bomb went off in both of their heads. How long would it take for this plan to backfire on them? Only time would tell.
A/N: Oh Lord, I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I updated =/ So let's avoid that topic for now, shall we? I didn't bother rendering this chapter because I'm in a rush, sorry. But I don't think it's that hard to read, do you? If you do, I'll make sure to render it next chapter. Thank you so much for your reviews thus far! You guys rock my socks.
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