Chapter Thirteen: Tuesday Evening

 

The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.

Beta credit: bunnyhops read this drivel before anyone else; many thanks to her for that!  Since then, CoquetteKitten has run it through her own set of specifications.

 

I’m going to be married in two weeks. Lucius wants to show me what he can do with his hands. Draco may or may have not masturbated in the shower last night while thinking about me. I’m marrying two wizards. When did I accept that last part so completely?

 

The rest of Tuesday was a blur. She took no notes in any of her classes and couldn’t remember what she’d had for dinner. The visit with the Mal- With the- with her wizards looped through her brain continuously. She vaguely remembered Harry’s presence during the course of the day, and now she realized he was here at her side, escorting her back to their tower in the post-dinner crowd.

 

Ron had been absent at dinner, and Hermione commented on that fact.

 

“Oh, errrrr . . . I saw him sneak out the front doors of the castle as we made our way in to dinner. Him and Lisa Turpin,” Harry shamefacedly admitted. Circe on a broom – Harry’s actually embarrassed about something. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with himself.

 

“If it’s all the same to you, let’s not talk about Ron. I can’t help but feel he’s not the same person anymore, and I don’t want to dwell on it just now.”

 

Harry’s normally pleasant expression faded to one of grief for a split second, but he managed to keep his voice upbeat. “Absolutely! Good idea, ‘Mione.”

 

They were just stepping through the portal into the commons with a group of fellow Gryffindors, and Hermione caught sight of Ginny up ahead. The myriad of questions she’d been storing up about the Weasley’s stakes came to mind. I’ll ask her right now.

 

First, she needed to explain herself to Harry. She pulled him aside. “I’m not asking you to choose between us, Harry. He’s your friend, and hasn’t done anything to you.”

 

Harry shook his head in disagreement. “’He has changed. I’m not sure if I can be his friend for much longer.”

 

That wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “You and Ron have been friends from the start! Don’t do something you’ll regret, please?”

 

He looked appalled. “Something I’ll regret? Hermione, I regret not doing something a long time ago, when he first started treating you so poorly. Do you think I didn’t notice? He and I have nothing in common anymore save Quidditch and Ginny. And Ginny doesn’t want anything to do with him.”

 

Molly Weasley’s words came to mind. ‘I do not think we can forgive him . . . Arthur and the boys [could] choose to disown him’.

 

“He’s an idiot, yes – but that doesn’t mean I want to hurt him. I don’t want to come between the two of you.”

 

Harry put his hands on her shoulders and stooped to look her in the eye. “Don’t try to protect Ron from the consequences of his own actions.”

 

“Let’s just do what we originally agreed, and not talk about him for now.”

 

“Deal.” He gave her a tight hug and turned toward the fireplace, where Ginny and Luna were snuggling on the couch.

 

Hermione beat him to Ginny by mere seconds. “You! Up in my room now!” She lowered her voice to a hiss and added, “I need to talk with you about stakes.”

 

Ginny’s curiosity must have been piqued, because she only gave Harry a quick kiss before following her friend to the dorms. There, Hermione locked the door and cast a Muffliato before dragging Ginny to her bed. She flopped down along one side and motioned for Ginny to join her. The two lay side by side with their heads on the pillows, Ginny facing Hermione, and the curly-headed witch staring at the ceiling.

 

“What do you want to know?”

 

“Let’s start with the Weasley stakes.” She looked accusingly at her friend. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

 

Ginny groaned and covered her eyes with one hand. “I honestly didn’t know! It’s not something that’s talked about until acceptance or binding, or even the wedding. My mum obviously knew, but I promise that she only just told me. And she probably only did that because she knew you’d want to talk to me about it.”

 

They lay there quietly for a few minutes. Finally Ginny said, “I know how you are, Hermione. You’ve probably got a bulleted list of thoughts and questions somewhere in your head, and it’s only going to get longer and longer. Ask me something.”

 

“Honestly, at the moment I’m stuck on the fact that Percy cast a stake for me.”

 

Ginny giggled. “Can you even imagine Percy in bed? He’d probably be worried about wrinkling the sheets!”

 

“No, but I can’t imagine any of your brothers in bed! They’re . . . they’re brothers to me!”

 

“Oh, come on – how about Bill? He’s got that whole dangerous wizard thing going for him. What witch at Hogwarts hasn’t had a crush on him?”

 

“Me. Sorry.”

 

“Or Charlie? Think about how lonely he must get, out there on the dragon reserve with nothing to do but stay muscular and fit . . . nothing?”

 

“Not even a bit.”

 

“The twins might not be so bad, either, as long as they left their Wheezes out of the bedroom! Think how sweet they are.”

 

“No! None of them! That’s just . . . not how I think about any of them. I know they’re your brothers, but ick!”

 

“Well, you pined after Ron for years, so you couldn’t have thought of him as a brother.”

 

“You know, Ginny, I don’t know what I thought about Ron. Now, looking back, all I ever thought about was holding his hand, or cuddling on a couch. I don’t think that’s how someone feels about the person they plan to marry.”

 

“You mean that’s not how you feel about Draco, or Lucius.”

 

“Mmmhmmm.”

 

“So, you want to do more than hold Draco’s hand, Hermione?” Ginny asked in a playful singsong voice. “You don’t want to just cuddle with Lucius on a couch? Whatever do you want to do with them, hmmm?”

 

Hermione couldn’t help but laugh at her friend even as she said, “Enough! Back to stakes.”

 

“Oh, yes – back to the fact that Percy wanted to-” Ginny was cut off with a pillow thumped over her head. “And Bill also wanted to-”

 

Hermione thumped her again and raised the pillow in a mock-threatening manner. “I mean it!”

 

Ginny looked like she was trying to swallow her laughter. “Sorry, it’s just . . .never mind. Back to stakes.”

 

“Can six wizards really cast stakes for the same witch? Isn’t that a bit excessive? I mean, think about it . . .”

 

Ginny wiggled her eyebrows and burst into giggles again before settling down. “Yes, that would be excessive, and it’s actually not at all what you’re thinking. They all cast stakes, but you wouldn’t have married all six of them. There are laws governing the ancient Houses and their Wives, and the first is that a House with more than four heirs will be split in two. That’s a well-known one – to purebloods, at least.”

 

She continued, “If Ron hadn’t screwed things up royally and the stakes had been given precedence, you would have been given the right to choose three, or even four, husbands. Whichever of my brothers had been left would have had to search for another bespoke witch, and then cast again for her.”

 

“Where can I find a copy of these laws? I’d like to see them for myself.”

 

“Honestly? I have no idea. Most of them are probably so old-fashioned that they aren’t even relevant any more. You could ask Lucius.”

 

“I could.”

 

“Hermione, I’m glad Ron didn’t cast for you.”

 

“I’m starting to feel the same way. I wasn’t meant to be with him.”

 

“My mum’s pretty sure he’s being weeded by the covenant. I’ll bet things get ugly this weekend.” Hermione looked confused, and Ginny explained, “He’s been called home.”

 

Hermione didn’t want to think about her ex-crush. She directed her thoughts back to the original purpose of Ginny being there and asked another question.

 

“Gin, what about your mother and father? I can’t even say it, but the thought occurred to me . . . you know.

 

Ginny made a sound of disgust. “Sex with my dad? Now that is ick! Parents should never, ever have sex, not even with a spouse. No, you wouldn’t have had to do that because my mum’s still living. They’re part of a current House marriage.”

 

Another thought occurred to Hermione. “Do you suppose that’s how Draco feels about Lucius?”

 

“I’m pretty sure he’s okay with it. After all, in order for him to get sex, Lucius has to get it, too.”

 

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

 

“Have you honestly given much thought at all to the sex part?”

 

“Not really.”

 

The two witches lay silently in the twilit room. Finally, Ginny turned her head again to look at her friend. “Hermione, I know you’re brilliant and well-read, and your dreams probably involve complex Arithmancy mixed with unreadable Runes, but you’re amazingly innocent.”

 

“I am not – I have seen with my own eyes what the human body is capable of, thanks to you three!”

 

“No, I don’t mean that. I’m sure you know all about tab A and slot B, and understand all the associated terminology more so than most of us. What I mean is, you don’t think about sex – fantasize about it – the way the rest of us do.”

 

“Astoria said something similar to me today. You’re right – I haven’t thought much about it until this week, and I still don’t know if I want to talk about it. Do you think- Is that bad?”

 

“Not at all. You’re what my mum calls a late bloomer. You just haven’t been interested until now. You’re exactly where I was a few years ago.”

 

Great. I’m being compared to a sixteen year-old Ginny. She tried not to be offended. Ginny was still talking. “Now that you’re suddenly aware of that stuff, you’re going to be more interested. The hardest part is that it can be embarrassing to talk – or even think – about it at first.”

 

“You can say that again.”

 

“If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

 

Hermione was blushing as she sat up and pulled her friend in to a squeeze. “Thanks, Gin. I might need that.”

 

Ginny reverted to her former teasing mood. “Oh, believe me, you will! Those two will-”

 

“Out.”

 

Her friend left, leaving the sound of happy laughter hanging in the room. Hermione read and worked on assignments until the moon showed in the late spring sky. Ten days until it waxes, and I am wed. She washed her face and brushed her teeth, and climbed between the sheets of her bed. Sleep came quickly, along with dreams of dancing in a white gown with Draco, of giving herself to Lucius, and of sleeping in the arms of two wizards.

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