"Have you sent in your RSVP yet?" Ginny asked as she collapsed onto the sofa next to Hermione. The motion jostled the stack of parchment on Hermione's lap—a legislative proposal on creature rights she was in the process of revising—but she found herself surprisingly unannoyed at the disruption. She'd grown accustomed to Ginny's enthusiasm and general gregariousness over their many years of friendship, and ever since they'd decided to become flat mates last year, Hermione realised that she'd even come to crave the easy closeness and camaraderie. Hermione had never had many female friends, which was the excuse she'd given herself at the beginning for why Ginny's affection made her skin tingly.
Now she knew better.
"No," Hermione said with a sigh, placing her marking on the side table and twisting around on the cushion to face Ginny. "How pathetic does it make me that I really don't want to go stag to my ex's wedding?"
"Not pathetic at all!" Ginny gave her a commiserating glance before brandishing her own crumpled invite. "Or, if it does, then I'm right there with you."
"It's not that I'm not thrilled for them," Hermione said, twisting a long curl around her finger. "It's just… the idea of people feeling sorry for me…. Ugh, I feel like a self-centred twat thinking that anybody will be thinking of me at all on their special day in the first place, but…"
"Hey, no, I totally get it," Ginny said emphatically. "My ex is marrying my brother. If I show up alone, it's going to be a bloody nightmare. It doesn't matter that Harry and I both turned out to be queerer than a pair of copper Galleons, everyone there will be shaking their heads while thinking that poor girl." Ginny huffed in obvious frustration. "As if I wasn't the one who broke up with him."
Hermione's stomach fluttered, the way it always seemed to do when Ginny talked about liking women. She'd been unapologetically bold coming out as soon as she realised she preferred witches to wizards, but Hermione was a bit more reserved. In fact, Ginny was the only one of her friends who even knew that Hermione had been questioning her own sexuality of late, though Ginny wasn't aware that she was responsible for sparking that particular revelation. Hermione had gone out to a couple of gay bars with Ginny and her friends, and it always felt so easy and comfortable, but despite Ginny's eagerness to be her wing woman, she'd yet to attempt any practical experience. Not because she wasn't keen, but because she wasn't keen on anybody other than Ginny. It was beginning to become a bit of a problem.
"Yeah," Hermione agreed with a despondent sigh. "I'm just glad they decided not to have anybody stand up with them." Not that she wasn't over the moon for Harry and Ron. They were so much better suited than her and Ron ever were, and they were still her best mates; she wanted them to be happy. She no longer had any romantic feelings towards her former beau, but it still stung sometimes, seeing them so fucking in love with one another while she was all alone, just her and her piles of parchment.
"How much do you want to bet they skipped all of that to avoid the awkwardness of asking us to be their best women?" Ginny said with wry laugh. "Not that I mind at all. Wedding planning is so not my strong suit."
Hermione grinned. "As if Molly would have let you encroach on her territory."
"Merlin help us if we ever get married," Ginny agreed. "I'd just want a quick ceremony at the Ministry, but I think mum might actually have a coronary if I did that."
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. She knew Ginny didn't mean if they got married to one another, and Hermione wasn't sold on marriage as an institution in the first place, but it still made her cheeks warm.
"Well, I'm still not sure what to do about this wedding," Hermione said. "I was thinking about maybe asking somebody at work to come with me, but the only real candidate is Kerry, and he'd definitely get the wrong idea." Kerry had been not-so-subtly trying to ask Hermione out for months. He'd only just recently seemed to have caught on that Hermione wasn't interested, and asking him to attend her ex's wedding with her was sure to undo that progress.
"Yeah, I thought of asking one of my teammates," Ginny replied. "But the whole point of taking somebody is for it to be a date, not just friends. I want to make it clear to all our nosy friends and concerned family members that we're one-hundred percent over our exes and absolutely thrilled to celebrate their wedding."
"Ugh," Hermione huffed, closing her eyes and throwing her head back against the sofa cushions in defeat. Next to her, Ginny let out a quiet, thoughtful hum, and when Hermione opened one eye to look at her, she found Ginny staring back, a considering expression on her face. "What?" Hermione asked cautiously; she knew enough to be wary whenever Ginny got that particular gleam in her eye.
Ginny clapped, bouncing on the sofa cushion. "We should go together!"
Hermione blinked. "What?"
"Oh, it's perfect! What better way to show everybody we're completely over Ron and Harry than to tell them all the two of us are dating? We're already best mates and practically do everything together anyway. We can say that living with one another opened our eyes to our true feelings."
Because it did, Hermione thought. At least for me. She was unsure if she was pleased or despondent over this recent development.
"None of them know I like women, though," Hermione said quietly. "Won't that throw a wrench in your plan?"
Ginny frowned. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable or force you to come out," she said softly. "But I know you've been wanting to tell everybody for a while. Maybe this could be a good way to get it over with."
"By coming out at my ex-boyfriend's wedding to one of my best friends?"
Ginny laughed. "Yes! It's not like they'll mind, and it's a gay wedding, so you're hardly going to find a more queer-friendly place to do it." Ginny scooched closer on the sofa, taking Hermione's soft hands between her own broom-calloused fingers. She looked earnestly into Hermione's eyes and her heart stuttered. "It'll be so much fun. We can get drunk off free Firewhisky and make fools of ourselves on the dancefloor and gorge ourselves on wedding cake, provided Ron doesn't eat it all first. I can't think of anybody I'd want to spend the night with more than you, anyway." Oh, how Hermione wished the filthy promise in those words was intended. "It'll get everybody off our backs for awhile about moving on, as if we've been stuck here pining away for those two idiots." She rolled her eyes fondly. "We can 'break up' in a couple weeks, say we decided we're better off as friends, and no harm done."
Except to me.
Hermione sighed and bit her lip. This was a terrible idea. She was already far too hung upon her vibrant friend, and having to spend several weeks pretending to be Ginny's girlfriend would probably kill her. Because Hermione wouldn't be pretending at all, and she wasn't sure she wanted to experience what it would be like to have something she'd been wanting so badly, only to have it snatched away from her at the end. But Ginny's eyes were shining with hope, and Hermione knew there wasn't any way she could say no to her. Besides, she really didn't want to attend Ron and Harry's wedding alone. Spending the evening with Ginny sounded perfect.
It always did.
"Okay," Hermione said, desperately hoping she wouldn't regret it. "Let's do it."
"So, was I right or was I right?" Ginny asked, her mouth stretched into a wide, giddy grin. It was gone midnight and the reception was just starting to wind down. The two of them were curled up together on one of the large outdoor lounge chairs, trading back and forth a bottle of Firewhisky that Ginny had nicked from the bar when the bartender was distracted. Hermione's body felt warm and content, and it only had a little bit to do with the alcohol humming through her veins. She looked out onto the dancefloor with a soft smile, watching as Ron and Harry swayed together to a slow song. Well, dancing was generous term for it; they were essentially just standing in place, Harry's head on Ron's shoulder as they rocked vaguely in time to the beat. Neither of them could dance for shit, but seeing them together made Hermione's chest tight with happiness. Normally that genuine happiness was tinged with a faint melancholy, but that had been surprisingly absent all day. Which probably had something to do with the woman whose legs were currently tangled up with her own, pale freckled skin entwined with her own tan complexion. She had to keep reminding herself that this wasn't real, that it was all for show, but it was hard to remember when Ginny looked at her like that, like she found Hermione just as captivating as Hermione found her.
Ginny prodded her thigh with a surprisingly bony toe, giving her a pointed look that reminded Hermione she hadn't yet answered Ginny's question.
"Yes, yes, you were right. This was brilliant."
Ginny sighed happily. "I know. I don't think I saw a single pitying look." She quirked a smile at Hermione. "Probably because I had the fittest witch at the wedding on my arm."
Hermione flushed and hoped it wouldn't be too visible in the twinkly fairy lights. "I think you've got that backwards," Hermione murmured, looking down and fiddling with the label on the whisky bottle. "In that dress? You're definitely the fittest one here."
Ginny's expression turned serious, her warm brown eyes fairly glowing in the dim lighting. She leaned forward, and Hermione's breath caught as Ginny reached out and tucked a stray curl behind Hermione's ear. A slow, devastatingly sweet smile stole across Ginny's face as she shook her head. "No, Hermione. I think I got it right the first time."
And then she leaned forward, pressing her lips against Hermione's.
Hermione went still with shock, her brain temporarily unable to process this new information. She felt Ginny begin to pull away; it was enough to bring her back to her senses and she reached out, threading her fingers through Ginny's short hair to cup the back of her head, pressing her close. She tasted like vanilla frosting and smoky whisky, and the combination should have been a strange one, but Hermione didn't think she'd ever tasted anything more delicious in her life. Ginny's tongue licked along Hermione's lips and she opened her mouth on a gasp, letting Ginny deepen the kiss. Hermione felt dizzy and dazed by the time they finally parted, her entire body hot with pleasure and her mind buzzing with questions. What did this mean? Did Ginny want her back? Was this just a drunken snog? Perhaps Ginny kissed all of her—
"You can't turn off that big brain of yours for even a moment, can you?" Ginny teased, her voice and expression fond.
"I can think of a few things that might do the trick," Hermione replied, the Firewhisky making her bold.
Ginny laughed, delighted, as her smile turned wicked. "That is a fantastic idea."
"This big brain does come in handy on occasion."
There was a pause, the both of them smiling giddily at one another, before Ginny reached out to cup Hermione's cheek, leaning in close to murmur, "I really like you, Hermione. I don't want this to be just pretend."
Hermione swallowed audibly, emotion catching in her throat. "I don't want it to be pretend either. It never was, for me."
Ginny's smile was radiant. "What do you say we go say goodbye to the grooms and get out of here. We can… talk."
Hermione raised her brows. "Just talk?"
Ginny dimpled at her. "To start." She stood up and offered Hermione her hand. Hermione took it, relishing Ginny's firm, warm grip. "Shall we?"
Hermione leaned in to brush a kiss along Ginny's high cheekbone, barely managing to restrain herself from kissing her way down to Ginny's mouth. Soon.