Angels Never Call
by RubyKate

Ginny often lies awake at night. She doesn't know how she feels about this. She doesn't like the feeling of being tired and confused in the morning, shaken awake by Fred and George and having to stare at her porridge until she feels herself again but then again she doesn't like the idea of getting straight into bed and falling asleep and wasting all that time that could be spent thinking, with no noises to disturb her and nobody asking her stupid questions.

Hermione falls asleep exactly half an hour after she climbs into bed. She reads, frowning over the words as if they're making her think a thousand and one things each, with her knees hunched up against her chest. Then, she folds the corner of the page down carefully, places it on the floor beside the bed, and says, "Good night, Ginny. Don't fall asleep too late," and straightens herself out, toes peeping from underneath the quilt.

Ginny likes to watch Hermione sleep. Hermione ties her hair back at night, neatly out of the way, with a plain blue hair band. She wears a Muggle nightie that looks rather more like a long t-shirt, with a teddy bear in a silly hat printed on the front. At first Ginny was surprised to see Hermione wearing such a cute nightie when anybody could see that Hermione was all cleverness and sensibility and not cute at all, but later it dawned upon her that Hermione would be sensible enough to only wear what nightwear she received for Christmas from relatives, and not to waste her money on something that nobody else would ever see, anyway. Apart from Ginny, who isn't going to think about such things, of course, because who spends this long thinking about somebody else's nightie?

Ginny's own nightwear consists of a long nightgown that used to belong to her mother. It's long-sleeved and reaches her toes, and is warm enough for her to barely need the quilt, only Ginny likes to wrap herself up in as many things as possible. Her nightgown is decorated with tiny baby unicorns, dancing across her body and glittering in the darkness.

Ginny often thinks that Hermione glows like a baby unicorn. Something about her stands out in the half-light anyway, something about the peaceful look on her face that makes Ginny want to look inside Hermione's head, open it up while she's asleep and count her dreams. Maybe she's dreaming about homework, or Ron. Ginny would like to think that Hermione also dreams about unicorns, but Hermione never talks about such things as dreams, only school and numbers.

When she was little, Ginny had found a beautiful picture in one of the Muggle books that took pride of place on the bookcase in the garden shed. The caption said the figure was an angel, tall and golden and compelling, wise and brave and beautiful all at once. But when Ginny remembers the picture now, it's Hermione's face looking back at her.

 

When Hermione leaves school and gets a place of her own, Ginny doesn't see her for a very long time. Hermione never comes to stay anymore, because now that Ron's moved out there's no need. Ron calls by every so often, of course, fidgety and awkward as though he can't wait to be gone again. She overhears him mentioning to their mother that he's moved in with Hermione now. He tries to say it casually, as though it's no big deal, and Ginny sees her mother bite her lip as though trying to restrain herself from asking questions or just beaming proudly.

Most of the year, Ginny is at Hogwarts, but she hears bits and pieces of disguised news in letters from her mother that she can easily decipher. There's nothing about Hermione, even though Ron and she are still living together. It's always about what Ron had for dinner when he came over, or how busy he is at work. But of course, most of the letters are about Bill's darling little children, two tiny shrieking boys that know exactly how to work every bit of their twin uncles' merchandise.

Ginny's mother is in fact so busy acting as an informal babysitter that she is not available to pick Ginny up from the station at the end of the year. Ginny's suggestion that she could make her way home alone is immediately discarded. "How could you work the Muggle tube? Being underground isn't natural, you know I've always said so," Molly immediately says in her next letter, "I'll just have to ask Ron."

So Ginny steps off the Hogswarts Express onto Platform 9 and looks around for Ron who always stands head and shoulders above everybody else, usually scowling in his own fashion. He's not immediately visible, so Ginny sits down against the wall and waits for crowds to disperse, because Ron is almost always late anyway.

"Hello, Ginny."

Ginny looks up into the eyes of Hermione Granger, of all people, standing over her. She looks different, older, even though it's only been what two years? She's cut her hair short, for one thing, well, shorter anyway. It used to be shoulder length, now it's barely past her chin, slightly more curly than frizzy but still on the large side. She's pinned it back with hair clips, neat gold ones that seem more like her old self. But, once Ginny's swallowed all this information the thing that really grabs her attention is that there is a box of cigarettes in Hermione's shirt pocket. A gold and white box, with a creased lid as though it's been opened and closed several times.

"Hermione," Ginny says, wide-eyed.

"Ron couldn't make it, he had to go into the office."

"Where do you work, Hermione?" Ginny asks as she jumps to her feet and grabs her trunk by the handle. Hermione leads the way through the dispersing crowd.

"I don't." Hermione announces, shortly. "Well, not properly." She seems to give in. "I've been writing, freelance."

"Really?" Ginny breathes, unable to hide her admiration.

"Not novels, or anything, if that's what you're thinking. Only text books. Arithmancy, mostly." But she seems ever so slightly pleased that Ginny should have assumed otherwise.

"Oh. Well, that's still exciting too."

"Not really."

They have emerged, blinking in the sunlight now, and when Hermione reaches into her pocket for her box of cigarettes it glints harshly in her hands.

"When did you start smoking?" Ginny asks, experimentally.

"Last year sometime." Hermione lights a cigarette. Her lighter is Gryffindor-scarlet.

Last year sometime Harry Potter defeated Voldemort, and then promptly disappeared. Ginny has a suspicion that Hermione and Ron know more than they let on about the whole affair, but the rest of the world has not the slightest idea of Harry's whereabouts.

"I'm going to take you on the tube to Waterloo, okay?" Hermione announces. "You can get a train there that'll take you straight to Ottery St. Catchpole."

"Alright."

Ginny is standing in the shade instinctively - sun only makes her burn - but Hermione is bathed in sunlight, her shirt a glare of white and her cigarette glowing deep orange and gold. She shouldn't look beautiful. The short hair-cut doesn't suit her, the cigarette looks out of place in her delicate fingers, her shirt is splattered with ink. But Hermione looks every bit the angel she always has done, in Ginny's mind at least.

They are silent on the tube journey. Everything that Ginny would like to say somehow seems too dangerous to say in front of Muggles. Hermione's box of cigarettes is back in her shirt pocket, pressed against her chest on one side, pressed against Ginny's arm on the other. Ginny clings tightly to the rail above her head, the train jerking her about as if it were Ron's old Shooting Star. Hermione doesn't seem bothered by the unpredictable movements of the train, or of the people pressed up against them. She stares into the darkness of the windows, her face creased in thought.

It doesn't take long to reach Waterloo station. Hermione hurries Ginny up the stairs, and deposits her on a platform.

"The train will be here in about five minutes. Just make sure you pay attention, you don't want to miss your stop."

"I'll be alright."

"Okay. I'd better go now."

"Alright. But... when will I see you again?"

"I don't know." She doesn't seem surprised, but she doesn't seem to have an answer either. "We'll see."

"Alright."

Hermione leans forward suddenly, golden light streaming through the glass ceiling of the platform and cascading over her face. She presses her lips against Ginny's briefly, her hair pulling free of its clips and dancing over Ginny's cheeks, and then she leans back again, and smiles.

"Goodbye, Ginny Weasley."

She walks away quickly but steadily, disappearing amongst the crowd. Ginny watches her go and likes to think that when the cloud passes over the sun, it is somewhat appropriate.

 

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