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A Sordid Romance

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"They've done it again!"

Ginny glanced up from her lazy sprawl across the couch. "Hmm?"

Hermione slammed the day's copy of The Daily Prophet on the coffee table, seething. With her hair frizzed up around her face and still wearing her pajamas, she bore a striking resemblance to Crookshanks. "Those bloody reporters," she snarled. "Another story about Harry's 'sordid romantic affairs'."

"Again?"

Hermione shot her a glare, clearly annoyed by her lack of interest. "They have a poll," she hissed, "Asking readers which girl they think Harry should choose."

Ginny considered this. "Is there a write-in option?"

Hermione grit her teeth. "I hadn't looked."

She reached out to take the paper from the coffee table, skimming through it absently. A door opened and closed down the hall. "Harry?" she called. "Bring me a quill, would you Love?"

Hands lightly gripped her shoulders a moment later, and she paused to turn her face up expectantly for the kiss she received. "Mm. Morning."

"Morning. What's got ‘Mione upset?" Harry asked curiously, pressing the quill into her hand. This time, he added with a silent look of fond exasperation as he moved to give Hermione a hug and kiss of her own.

She tried to smother a grin and failed; Hermione always seemed to be up in arms over something. "More gossip in The Prophet. I'm answering their poll," she explained.

"Poll?" he repeated blankly.

"They're polling the readers for which one of us they think you should choose," Hermione informed him bitterly, glaring at the floor.

Harry blinked. "Both of you?" he offered tentatively. "I thought we'd already decided on that."

"To be fair, we conned you into it," Ginny offered, which was mostly true. Finding the poll in question at last, she took great care in checking 'Harry can do better!', adding a note underneath that read 'He can have both! ♥' and watching as the words glowed, confirming its delivery to The Prophet's office.

She offered it up for their inspection, and Harry grinned widely. "Let me," he said eagerly, taking the quill and paper. He scribbled for a moment before holding it up for them to read. 'Forget about Potter. Hermione and Ginny make a smashing couple!'

Hermione only glared at them both, turning and stalking off down the hall.

Harry sighed. "A bit more serious this time than I'd thought then," he muttered.

Ginny stretched, silently grumbling at the loss of her comfy spot. "Looks to be that way. She's been snapping at me since she brought the paper in."

"Why can't we all be angry at the world *after* breakfast?" Harry asked mournfully.

She laughed, reaching up to shove him in the shoulder. "Let me handle this one. You work on breakfast."

"As if I'd let either of you in my kitchen!" Harry protested, laughing as he dodged the kick she aimed at his shin. "I still haven't forgotten the last time!"

She stuck her tongue out at him, grinning as she watched him leave. The three of them had been living together for going on three years now, since shortly after she'd finished school. Harry had bought the flat just after he'd started his apprenticeship in the ministry, while Hermione moved in the moment she was done with University. Ginny hadn't consciously made a decision to join them herself; one night after a late practice she'd found herself waking up sandwiched between them and never looked back.

Their relationship was even older, though they hadn't officially been ... whatever they were now, until after she'd moved in. She and Harry had dated for awhile during her fifth year, while they both endured the torture of The Slug Club and life at Hogwarts in general. It hadn't lasted long; Harry was always busy focusing on the war with Voldemort, and Ginny refused to be second in someone's life. Not because she didn't understand; because she knew she wanted more than that. She *deserved* more than that.

She'd grown close to Hermione in the days after she and Harry broke up. Harry was avoiding everyone by that point, Ginny needed someone to lean on, and Hermione had felt abandoned by her best friends now that Ron was dating Lavender. It started with the two of them studying together, Hermione giving her advice for the O.W.L.s. Somehow it slowly started to become more than that, until she finally summoned up the nerve to kiss her.

Unfortunately, that relationship ended just before Harry, Ron, and Hermione disappeared to hunt for Voldemort. Leaving Ginny alone at Hogwarts, with only Neville and the D.A. She'd managed of course, but it was ... lonely.

Dating Harry had been filled with quiet stolen moments, giving him comfort and support. Reminding him that he was strong enough and brave enough whenever he started to doubt. Heated, grateful kisses and passionate embraces, seeing the desire in his eyes and feeling herself burn.

With Harry they stayed in the shadows because almost everyone knew about it; with Hermione, no one noticed even when it was right in front of them. Their study dates in the library, discreet handholding, sharing a chair in the common room with heads bent together. Hermione was soft lips and warm arms, hands playing with her hair and taking in every inch of her body in an intimate quest for knowledge.

She'd missed them both fiercely, in different ways. She missed the way Harry needed her to pull him out of the darkness, the way Hermione made her feel like she was something precious. She was strong for Harry, weak with Hermione. Each of them brought out different parts of her and left the rest wanting. And yet being without them, without *both* of them, was worse than being together could ever have been.

And then they were back and the war was over, and she could see just by looking that something had changed between them. And she loved them both too much to get in the middle.

Until the night Hermione had dragged her back to what she claimed was 'Harry's flat', insisting that she'd been pushing herself too hard at practice. Harry made dinner, Hermione sent her off for a bubble bath with borrowed clothes, and they fell asleep together on the couch watching the telly.

And it was all so perfect, so comfortably natural and warm, that she kept coming back until the day she stopped trying to leave at all.

She found Hermione in the second bedroom they used as a library and office, curled up in the hideous overstuffed armchair Harry had insisted on buying. She had a book in her hands and her legs brought up underneath her, but her eyes weren't moving on the page. Crookshanks sat on the arm beside her, her fingers stroking his fur absently.

Ginny leaned over the back of the chair, wrapping her arms around Hermione and kissing her cheek. "What are you reading?"

"Pride and Prejudice," Hermione murmured. "It's about society and marriage in the early 19th century."

Ginny raised her eyebrows. If that wasn't an indicator of Hermione's thoughts, she didn't know what was. "Thinking about marriage?"

"It's not about marriage, Ginny," she said softly, setting the book in her lap. "It's ... I'm just sick of everyone telling us who we're supposed to love."

"Then don't let them," she suggested, moving around the side of the chair. She moved the book to a side table before Hermione could complain, taking its place and sliding an arm around her shoulders. "Are you happy?"

"What sort of question is that?" Hermione sighed. "You know I am. I'm happier than I'd ever imagined I could be."

Ginny leaned forward, resting their foreheads together as she breathed "Then sod them all," and pressed her lips to Hermione's.