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She probably wouldn't have talked about it at all, if Ginny hadn't caught her sneaking out of Ron's room afterwards.

Hermione could feel herself blushing as soon as she caught sight of the pyjama-clad Ginny approaching with a half-full glass of water, and for a moment she nearly ducked back into Ron's bedroom. But Ginny had seen her already. It would be childish to hide, and Hermione was definitely not a child, so she stuck out her chin and dared Ginny to make something of it.

"Morning," was all Ginny said, smiling Ron's easy smile.

Hermione tried to appear casual, but she was painfully conscious that she must look and smell like someone who had just spent several hours getting hot and sweaty and exchanging bodily fluids under a duvet. This was not one of her more dignified moments. "I'm just – that is – we were – I – um." She stumbled to a halt, and gave a slightly choked laugh as her eyes met Ginny's.

The smile broadened. "Yes, so I see. Not before time – I thought he was going to die of frustration." She sipped at the water, then looked Hermione up and down with an amused expression. "Don't worry, Mum and Dad won't be up for another hour or so. See you later." And Ginny had sauntered off to her own room and left it at that. Hermione wasn't sure whether to be more embarrassed at the fact that Ginny knew she'd finally lost her virginity, or at the fact that she'd taken such an unfashionably long time to get around to it.

There was definitely something wrong, she reflected, when she was once more in her own neatly-made bed, about remembering Ginny's knowing smile more clearly than Ron's.

* * *

"It wasn't – well, it wasn't quite how I expected it to be," she said tentatively, much later. Ron had gone out with his father to fetch something or other – she rather suspected that he was going to surprise her with a gift – and Hermione found herself sitting in the garden alone with Ginny, a large jug of pink lemonade, and a still larger pile of textbooks. The conversation had skirted around this topic for half an hour or so while Hermione took copious notes on the history of magic in Eastern Europe and Ginny, clad in remarkably short shorts and a tiny vest top, sprawled inelegantly on a tartan rug and soaked up the sunlight. It crossed Hermione's mind, for absolutely no good reason, that if they were Muggles she could have rubbed sun cream into Ginny's pale and freckled skin, rather than employing the more efficient, but markedly less sensual, method of casting a standard UV warding spell.

Ginny pushed herself up from the grass a little with her elbows, which had the effect of thrusting her small bosoms forward. She was not wearing anything underneath the strappy white cotton, and there was the faintest hint of pink visible through the fabric where her nipples must be. She squinted up at Hermione, her expression quizzical.

"How did you expect it to be?" she asked at last. She wasn't laughing, which was a relief.

"It was – I don't know. I think I expected more – to be more – I thought I'd sort of lose myself. If that makes sense? I thought that I'd be more lost in it all, the way I am in books sometimes. But I was always aware of trying to be quiet, and of where we were, and, you know, all those kinds of things." There was a small pause, and then she added, "Maybe I'm just too self-conscious. Do you mind me talking about this? I know it's a bit weird, but – well, I don't really know anyone else I *could* discuss it with, except you."

Ginny lay back again, and her smile was slightly askew. She had, Hermione reflected, a remarkably mobile mouth – a sort of expressive pink wiggle that reminded her ineluctably of Ron's. It made her want to touch it. "I don't mind," Ginny said, although her voice sounded a little odd. "You've taken such a long time about it that I was starting to worry. I even thought maybe – but clearly not."

"What?"

"Nothing." She sat up properly, tucked her knees under her chin and wrapped her arms around her legs. Hermione tried not to notice how much leg – and not just leg – was exposed. It was, she reminded herself, still less revealing than a swimsuit would be, and it wasn't like she'd never seen Ginny in a swimsuit. "But you shouldn't worry about it. With boys – well, the thing is having the attention, you know? Getting put on a pedestal and treated like a queen for a while – maybe having them squabble over you. That's where the fun lies. And kissing – I like kissing. But the sex? Really, not all it's cracked up to be."

Hermione stared at the carefully trimmed hedge blankly. The summer air was thick with the scent of flowers and the lazy drone of drunken honey bees. She had aches in unexpected places, and there were several lovebites carefully hidden under her clothes. She was sure that she ought to feel differently, now that she'd finally Done It.

"I don’t understand why there's all this – all this stuff about it," she said at last, fighting off a sense of disappointment. "If that's it. All the poetry and paintings and Mills'n'Boon books and movies and pop songs and everything. If that's all there is. I didn't – I mean, I thought it was probably because it was the first time. I mean, it was all right," she added, feeling suddenly like a traitor. "Ron was very – he wanted me to enjoy it, he really did. He was quite carried away. But. Well." She bit her lip. "It felt more like it was all being done to me, you know? Like I wasn't really involved, somehow. Which is stupid, I realise, but I don't know how else to say it."

"You didn't come."

Hermione's face felt suddenly hot. She reached for her glass of pink lemonade and swallowed it all down in hard, fast gulps, tasting nothing but wetness. The exposed ice cubes clinked against the sides of the glass as she set it down on the tray again. Hermione picked her book back up and tried to find the page she'd been reading. "No," she said, trying unsuccessfully to sound like a woman of the world and not looking at Ginny as she spoke. "No, I suppose – well, no. It was nice, but not – no. No, I didn't. Not exactly. Not like – um."

"Like?"

Hermione pulled the book about Czech witches closer to her face. It was the sun making her skin so warm, certainly. "Nothing."

"But you masturbate, right?"

There was an appalled silence, while Hermione waited for the grassy lawn to open up and swallow her. "How much do I wish I hadn't started this conversation?" she muttered at last, to nobody in particular. She swallowed again. Impossibly, she was starting to feel turned on. "I – well. Yes. I suppose so." Her voice was rather smaller than usual. She couldn't meet Ginny's eyes. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Sorry," said Ginny, sounding wholly unrepentant. "But it's relevant, you know. So -- do you normally come when it's just you?"

"I – Ginny!" Despite herself, Hermione let the book fall away from her face and stared down at Ron's sister. She was also, Hermione reminded herself, the sister of Fred and George, and every bit as incorrigible. Ginny was looking back at her with an expression that Hermione found it difficult to read. The sunlight on her hair was remarkably beautiful, revealing a hundred variations of red and gold. She moved again, this time shifting until her legs were neatly crossed in front of her rather than hiding her chest, and now Hermione could see rather more cleavage than she had expected.

"Go on, I won't tell anyone," said Ginny. "If it helps, I wank all the time." Hermione felt her jaw drop, and her eyes went from the cleavage straight up to Ginny's familiar face. "Really. I mean, it's difficult in the dorm, isn't it? But you manage, stealthily, when it's dark, waiting until you can hear someone snoring, making sure that the curtains are drawn and biting your hand if you have to, or swallowing the pillow to muffle your sounds. And sometimes I do it in the loos – raise my hand, leave the lesson and just go into a cubicle and bring myself off fast and hard, after I've been thinking about – stuff. I've still never met a boy who could make me come, not really. They're so clueless. Painfully clueless. Even when you practically draw them a *map* of Important Bits Of A Girl's Anatomy. It's just – they don't do it for me. But I can make myself come like anything."

Hermione was, for once, at a total loss for words. She found she couldn't take her eyes off Ginny. And she couldn't help noticing that Ginny's nipples were now making their presence under the thin cotton all too evident. It had to be all this talk of sex, and touching, because it was having the same effect on Hermione; and now she couldn't get rid of the image of Ginny with her hand inside her own pyjamas and her teeth clamping down on a pillow, writhing silently on a dormitory bed. "Oh," she said at last, stupidly.

"So what do you think about?" continued Ginny, undaunted. "What is it that gets you off? Because maybe that will help you know what you need to do next time, with Ron. To make it better, I mean. If you can."

"You."

There was a startled pause. "Sorry?" said Ginny, in a strange voice. Did I just say that out loud, Hermione asked herself, incredulously. Yes, she apparently had. Good grief.

"You first. I meant you first. You tell me what you think about. First. Please. I meant that."

"Oh," said Ginny, breathlessly. "For a minute I thought – sorry." She gave a little laugh, and shook her head. Her breasts bounced in the most fascinating way as she did so. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"You started this!" pointed out Hermione. "If I have to tell you, you have to tell me. That's only fair."

"I suppose so," agreed Ginny. They had, Hermione thought, been looking into one another's eyes for rather a long time now. She swallowed again, and reached unsteadily for the jug of lemonade. Ginny was looking distinctly nervous. "Are you sure you won't freak out, though? I don't think – well, I think you might not approve."

"Ginny, we're having a conversation about masturbation fantasies. We've already crossed the damned line. The line is so far behind us that I can barely make it out in the distance. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb."

"I suppose," Ginny said again, uncertainly. For the first time, she looked almost embarrassed. After a moment she lay back down and closed her eyes, her red hair spreading out over the tartan rug like crazy-coloured sea-weed. Her chest was rising and falling more quickly now, and her cheeks were very pink. "I think about girls," she said quietly, and Hermione found that she wasn't surprised at all. "I think about kissing them, and touching them. I think about undoing ties and ruffling hair. I think about people I've seen naked in the shower, or bathing, and I imagine how their skin might taste under my tongue. I think about going down on them, and I wonder if they'd taste like me. I think about the way their breasts would feel against mine, and the soft slide of another girl's hair brushing against my neck. I think about what it would take to make them scream. Sometimes I sit there in class thinking about sliding my hand up inside their robes, slipping fingers between their thighs and stroking, pushing inside, finding out what they feel like on the inside --"

It was more to shut her up than anything else that Hermione moved. And it worked. The flow of words suddenly faltered and Ginny's eyes snapped open at the first touch, and there was a very long instant of naked eye contact whilst Hermione straddled her, one hand cupping Ginny's breast and the other closing over her bare shoulder. Ginny smiled, and of course this was why Ron didn't quite feel right. As she'd known, really, all along.

"Me too," said Hermione, as she moved down to find Ginny's mouth, and Ginny's wicked pink mouth moved up to be found. "Oh, God, yes. Me too."