No Strings Attached

by Erin Griffin

Fandom: Harry Potter

Rating: PG

Pairing: Unrequited Ginny/Hermione, as well as a f/f kiss that is a surprise.

Summary: Ginny tries a different approach to telling Hermione how she feels.

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. JKR does, as well as Scholastic and Warner Brothers.

Author's Note: This story is pretty much AU. Set in Ginny's sixth year. Voldemort isn't a huge threat at the moment, Dumbledore didn't die, Hermione and Ron had started dating in OotP... And anything else that you think isn't really characteristic is AU as well.

Warning: I sort of Ron bash in the beginning of this.


Ginny didn't know what the hell she was doing. Was she on something? Did she drink a wonky potion and come up with this idea? Did she drink some fire whiskey that the twins had slipped into her water or something? Did she slip and fall on her head? What gave her this ridicules idea? What... the hell? Hermione and Ginny had been friends for a while. Ginny had her thing for Harry, but after a while, after the Yule Tide Ball in her third year, it sort of went away, knowing that she would always be second best to Cho, and if not Cho, than some other girl, and she didn't want that. Then, well... Then she got another crush in her forth year, Hermione. There was another problem with that. Ron. They were dancing around each other in a way that made her feel sort of sick, so she did what she could to get them together. After all, she would rather see her smile than to see her cry, and if Ginny wasn't the one to make Hermione smile, then she would find the one who did. So she set her up with her brother. Biggest mistake she could ever make. Ginny loved her brother, but he was a prat who didn't know how to be with someone in a relationship, and he was always fighting with her, forgetting her feelings, sometimes even looking at other girls as if she wasn't there. Every now and again, Ginny wanted to shove his wand up his arse, and she didn't understand why, now in her sixth year close to Harry, Ron, and Hermione's graduation she was about to go on stage for this new thing Dumbledore called a talent show. Neville, Collin, Patric, Seamus and she were in their matching black pants, white shirt with their Gryffindor vests over them. They had their ties on, but they were tightly tucked in to prevent them from flying up in their face during their performance, as it had caused some near fatal accidents on Neville's side of the formation during their little dress rehearsal earlier in the day.

"Now, our last act of the night is a somewhat different sort of act. Here we have Ginny Weasley, Colin and Dennis Creevey, Seamus Finnagan, and Neville Longbottom performing 'No Strings Attached', a song by the Muggle band -'In Sick'."

"N*SYNC, Professor!" Lavender called out.

"Yes, right. Here they are, the group who calls themselves 'Second Thought'!" With that, he pointed his wand at his throat and his voice went back to normal volume. The lights on the stage had gone off as she had told Luna to do with her wand from the audience, and the five of them went on stage in the dark. Ginny heard a small crash. One of the boys had fallen, and was clumsily picking himself up.

"Neville! Are you okay?!" Ginny whispered in almost a hiss.

"It wasn't him this time. Sorry," Dennis Creevey hissed back.

"Alright." She paused for a second as she let Dennis compose himself again, then, "On three, magic your voices." Ginny ordered in her hiss. "One.. Two.. Three! Voices on!" Ginny took her wand out of her pocket and pointed it to her throat and put the charm on herself. She could feel the presence of the two boys who flanked her, being the second shortest. Together, the boys and Ginny made a flying V shape, and if Ginny were sitting in the audience, she knew she was seeing this exactly as she had planned it out the last few weeks. If she was in the audience, Ginny would've seen Neville on the far left, then Collin, then herself, then Dennis, then Seamus on the far right silhouette in the dark. She looked at the boys, who nodded in return. Seamus was the only one who didn't seem nervous, including herself, but then wasn't the time to give a pep talk, as their voices were already magic'd. Ginny took out her wand from her back pocket and raised it in the air before she let off a bright white light that faded into an ultraviolet light, which then faded to black. Ginny stomped her heel to the floor four times to count them off, slowly lowering her arm and putting her wand back into her pocket. At the same time, on cue and in harmony, they all began. "Baby you're not the only one...nuh..." With the first beat of the song, a red light exploded from where her wand had been pointed in the air, and the five Gryffindors were set in motion; dance steps made up and practiced an hour a day, four days a week for almost three weeks became a breeze. Even Neville had his face scrunched up in deep concentration, determined to get them all right. Had Ginny been in the audience, she would see that his face made him look like the token bad boy of the group. He was doing really well from what she could tell when the group did a half turn with their backs to the audience as they rolled their head from their right to left, then made the movements of playing the Muggle sport basketball, 'dribbling the air' from side to side as Collin had showed them.

Ginny had a confident smirk on her face as the group jumped their half turn back to facing the audience and she sang her, "Ooh yeah... Hey yeah!" After all, if Neville found the strength and confidence to do his parts well, then there was no way they were losing the talent show competition. Ginny did a quick visual sweep of the audience and saw Harry and Ron watching the performance with some degree of awe on their faces, which was good. That meant that none of the group had told anyone what they were doing in the show, and that made it a surprise for everyone. She couldn't see Hermione, which made her disappointed, since this song was for her. Well, her and Luna, but only she and Neville knew that. The music had stopped for a split second, then went in to the first verse of the song. Ginny lowered her voice to compromise with the other boys, who had to go slightly higher in order for them to harmonize properly. "I see, the things he does to you. All the pain that he puts you through. And I see, what's really going on. Staying out at night while you're by the phone," Of course, that last part wasn't completely true. For one, Ron wasn't that cruel. Two, there were no phones or anything electrical in Hogwarts. Still, Ginny knew that Hermione and Ron were always fighting, even more than before they were together. It seemed every few days they'd break up, then get back together. Honestly, Ginny thought Hermione was smarter than to get stuck in a cycle like that. Either way, on the last word of the first verse, Ginny and the group did a spin move to their left, the audience's right, and they all got into a slanted line so they were all still seen, except for Neville, who walked up towards the audience with purpose. His look and stance said 'Look at me'. And look they did.

All of the group harmonized, "Take it from me..." before Neville continued on into the bridge.

"It's a lesson to be learned," Neville put a hand on his chest, his fingers splayed across as he leaned forward a little bit. "Even the good guys get burned."

"Take it from me..." The group harmonized again as the line moved behind Neville so that he ended up in the middle.

"See, I would give you love. The kind of love that you've only dreamed of." As Neville let the last word drag out, Ginny couldn't help the smile that crossed her face. He sounded so good! She was proud of him. The line moved as one around Neville, who took two steps back and fell back into step with the rest of the group. Collin gave him a pat on his shoulder as he stepped in the middle of the line. To the audience the line from left to right was Seamus at the end, then Dennis, then Neville, then Collin, and then Ginny. Dennis moved to his right (the audience's left) just as Seamus switched with Neville in cross leap where they high fived in the air slightly in front of the line, then they all got back into the rhythm of the song. there was purposely a gap there so that Neville and Dennis would have the space they needed to complete the move if need be, and together, Neville and Dennis closed the gap between Neville and Seamus as practiced. All three of them had been practicing to get that step right and into their spots without falling out of step or messing up the line, and they'd done it. So the line, the flying V shape, had Collin didn't need to move, as his part was coming up next. They continued to move, seeing how everything was in the same rhythm, the same motion exactly. Ginny then understood why that American pop group she'd borrowed the song from had called themselves what they had. It all seemed harder than it looked, but they were doing it so much better than they had in any practice. It was as if they were giving everything they had to keep everything going.

Together, as they concentrated on their breathing, their rhythm and the dance moves, they all harmonized the chorus of the song. It seemed that it was then she saw Hermione leaning against one of the walls. It was a chance thing, really. She was huffing out her breath, made her head turn quickly to the left then back, and in that instant, there she was when she hadn't seen her before then. The fifth year girl looked impressed, and Ginny did the best she could to keep her own concentration. After all the yelling she had done at the boys to focus, it wouldn't be right if she was the one to mess things up because she saw a pretty girl in the crowd. Still, she tried her best to show Hermione that the next part they were all singing was for her. She locked eyes with Hermione the best she could in the steps as she sang with the rest of the group. "Baby, you're not the only one. You don't have to be afraid to fall in love. And I know that you've hurt in the past, but if you want it here's my heart, no strings attached." In the music break that followed between the chorus and second verse, the group did a lot of shoulder and head movement. Ginny could sense the energy was draining from the group after the initial fear and adrenaline rush had wore off. She could feel it in herself and figured it would have been the same for the rest of the group. Still, they all seemed confident, and they needed that to carry them through.

Seamus took his step forward and began his part, which seemed to make Ginny regain her focus. "He doesn't give you the kind of attention, that a girl like you needs."

Collin grabbed Seamus' shoulders, using it to jump above him as he echoed, "That a girl like you needs...'. Seamus hit his hands off playfully, and Collin spun next to him as Seamus sang, "He always looks around," and Collin joined him on, "His eyes wander 'round...'," then both boys spun, Seamus going back into the line, taking Collin's spot behind Seamus to their right, and Seamus continued his part from there while Collin stayed in the middle. "He doesn't see you like I see, yeah."

"Take it from me..."

"It's a lesson to be learned. Even the good guys get burned." Collin was voted to do this part because, though Neville had done it well the first time around, Collin could go higher then the rest of the boys, and there was a note that was almost a whine in the end of his next part.

"Take it from me..."

"Baby, I would give you love. The kind of love that you've only dream of, yea-hey!" Collin fell back into the line and Ginny turned her body a quarter turn to her left, then kicked her left foot out to the right hard enough to add momentum to the turn back to face the front, balancing on the right leg like a flamingo.

Together, they repeated the chorus, while Collin added in his reinforcement vocals in the background. "Baby you're not the only one- nuh. (Baby, you're not the only one...) You don't have to be afraid to (fall in love). And I know that you've hurt in the past (hurt in the past), but if you want it here's my heart (here's my heart), no strings attached." In the second musical break, Ginny did a drop- crouch, came back up just as quickly with somewhat of a salute while the other hand braced herself on her knee, swung both fists towards her left, her right fist on the middle of her chest and her left fist straight out. Then she brought her left fist in to cross over the right one as she spun full circle to the right. She did the same movements to the right where she'd caught herself almost touching Seamus, and had in the end brought her body spinning full circle to the left. She felt a little dizzy. She should have closed her eyes when she spun. As the group began to sing, "Take it from me...", the music slowed, and at last Dennis took his place in the middle of the line almost exactly as Neville had, only instead of the deep determination, he was into the song looking almost like he pitied someone. He took his few steps, and the rest of the group slowly walked tighter together. Collin and Neville spread out to be at Dennis' right.

"It's a lesson to be learned, even the good guys get burned..."

"Take it from me..." The group slowly turned away from the audience-Dennis as well, as he harmonized with Ginny.

"See, I will give you love. The kind of love that you've only dreamed of," then he went on by himself, "so if you want to take a chance with me..." He hung on to the last word as the group slowly turned around as they brought their individual voices in to the harmony. Dennis was the last to turn back around. The group then jumped apart as Dennis said his 'Oh-ho' part, and they went back into motion with (what seemed to Ginny) renewed energy. The song was almost over. They just had to get through the rest of the song, then they could relax.

The group harmonized on the next part. "If you," (Collin jumped in, 'Babe!') "take a chance," (Ginny added, "Take a chance with me...") "I'll be, everything," (Seamus' "Everything you need...") "Because, it's our destiny..." Neville then let out the loudest 'OH!' before the group went on to sing the chorus, Ginny jumping in with the reinforcement vocals this time. "Baby you're not the only one (Baby you're not the only one). You don't have to be afraid to fall in love (to be, to be afraid), and I know that you've hurt in the past (hurt in the past, if you want here's my heart) no strings attached." Part of the group, Ginny and Dennis, repeated the part about destiny while Seamus and Collin repeated the chorus, and Neville took his turn doing the reinforcement vocals, which was pretty much the same as Ginny's. ("You don't have to be afraid... I know that you're hurting, but if you want here's my heart, no strings attached.") They then moved back into their original flying V shape at the same time they tried to keep their dance moves in tune with each other. 'Cross-spread-cross-spread-cross...spin...' Ginny thought as her feet did as she mentally commanded them to, once she managed to get back into the center of the flying V formation.

The music went on for a few more seconds with them dancing some of their repeated moves, and at the end of it, Ginny whipped out her wand once more, shot up another bright red flash of light (which was accompanied by the sound of a cell block door shutting), and it then faded just as quickly to black. All five Gryffindors stood feet spread, head down and hands behind their backs with the exception of Ginny, who for the most part had copied the stance with the difference of one arm being held up in the air. There was a split second of silence, then the room erupted as the group disappeared from the stage. After a ten second blackout as requested by Ginny, the whole room was light again, and Dumbledore took to the stage. He waited for the audience's cheering and clapping to die down. Ginny heard a shout of 'Gryffindors rule!' and grinned. "Simply exquisite! Well done, all of you. Now, I need all of our contestants to come to the stage once more so we can have the audience vote." All of the contestants, Draco, who'd done a guitar solo with an enchanted guitar (which actually didn't suck, yet no Gryffindor would ever dare to admit to that), Pansy, who'd done a ballet dance number, the Patil twins, who had done a duet, a few Hufflepuffs who had put together an accapella group, and a Ravenclaw girl who had sang opera) entered the stage as directed. Since this was the first attempt at a talent show, many people had talked about signing up, but they had gotten afraid at the last minute and let the deadline slip by. They didn't want to be laughed off of the stage by the likes of Malfoy.

Still, Ginny had thought about it and thought that it might be fun to try it out, but she hadn't wanted to do it alone. Lavender, who had learned how to use her wand as a sort of radio (she could take one song and have it magically transferred into her wand, and can be started and stopped with the right swishing motion), suggested she do that and make a dance to it. Then she suggested a band she had heard on the radio. So on a weekend, she sent her wand to her father, who had done as she had requested, and sent it back using a Ministry owl to get it back to her before she would have needed to use her wand again. It was risky on both ends, and any number of things could have happened to have gotten her wand lost, her father or herself could've gotten in trouble, but her father was curious to see if it would work out, and it had. She owed him big time, and knew she had a long letter to write later in the week. She then sought out the four boys least likely to succeed. She didn't even know why she chose them instead, but she felt that if nothing else, they would have some fun trying to get through it. She was surprised that they had agreed to it, Seamus more out of a means away from homework, Neville for the same reason Ginny had (sort of), and the Creevey boys because they wanted to be in the talent show, but didn't know what to do.

Ginny went to stand with the rest of 'Second Thought' (as they had called themselves in jest, saying they were the school's second thought students and the name had ended up on the sign up sheet the day before deadline) back onto the stage, giving each boy a pat on the back. No matter what, they'd all done great, and on the next Hogsmeade trip, she was buying them all butter beer with the small amount of spending money she had saved over the last few weeks. The redhead looked at Hermione meaningfully when she lined up with the rest of the contestants. She'd known what Ginny was trying to say to her. She was too smart to not know. She met Ginny's gaze and slowly, she shook her head. No. Rejected just like that. Ginny swallowed hard and looked away. When she looked back, Hermione was no longer looking at her. She was instead making her way to Ron, and she took his hand. Ginny looked down at the floor of the stage. Her heart pounded, and her breathing quickened again, just when it had started to slow from all the dancing. Only it hurt. It all hurt. She sighed heavily. She'd almost expected that, but not in such a simple gesture. She had thought that there'd be a sit down heart to heart 'you're my best friend, but I don't love you like that' sort of speech that would've left Ginny hurt, but not in the way she felt at that moment.

Professor Dumbledore conjured his 'audience appreciation meter' and let it float over each contestant or act. The audience liked the Patils well enough, as the song they had done was a familiar song from a famous Muggle theater show, but it was no secret that 'Second Thought' had won. The roar of the crowd when the meter went over Neville and Seamus' heads was almost deafening, and when they were declared the winner of two hundred house points, Neville sought out Luna planted a deep kiss after dipping her, which had put a sparkle in the girl's eye, but didn't otherwise change the blonde's dreamy look. This made the whoops and hollers even louder. Ginny laughed and thanked people who had congratulated her and told her how cool the song and dance number was, then slipped out of the Great Hall and into the bathroom that was hardly ever used. There she let her tears fall.

"Alas, someone more miserable than me for once," Myrtle said, floating through one of the stall doors. She looked Ginny in the eye, almost as if to dare her to prove her wrong, not that Ginny wanted to or could. The youngest Weasley sniffed. "Talk to me," the ghost commanded, though not as mean as Ginny would've expected from her. Maybe that was what made her talk about Hermione and how she felt. Myrtle didn't show any sign of surprise or disgust when she mentioned this, so she went on to talk about the performance and the rejection. "You know," Myrtle started after Ginny finished and allowed a moment of silence to ring throughout the bathroom, "when I was alive, I don't think I had ever been in love. Sometimes girls would come into this very bathroom giggling about boys, girls, whoever they loved, and I'd always be jealous of them. It'd never occurred to me that I'd also been jealous of what came with love. That intense heartbreak. Sometimes I am still jealous. Feeling that heartbreak and that pain is just another reminder that there's life there, that you're alive whereas I am not. And Ginny, you're so young. Were I alive, I'd be about seventy, did you know?" Ginny nodded slowly. "Could've been seventy and there would've still been time to find my one. You've got so much time, and there are so many lesbians in the sea. Though I know there is no other Hermione Granger out there, there is someone. Someone who loves you, who deserves your love and wants your love... someone who'd give anything to keep you from crying. Someone who would've appreciated your song, took advantage of the offer it made and take it to heart. For now, it's gonna take a bit of time won't it? Me? I don't have to think about that. Time's all I got, but you... It may seem forever if what you say is true, but its what you need." Ginny listened to Myrtle's words, never expecting to get a voice like that from her. It was as if the ghost was glad to not be the only one miserable, or maybe after fifty-five years, she'd rather not be so miserable anymore. The girl dried her tears and nodded.

"Thank you." Myrtle placed a quick kiss on Ginny's lips, but it was only a quick cold sensation there. She said nothing else and went back through the stall. Ginny heard a flush and Myrtle was gone. Ginny sighed, then dragged herself to the Common Room and put herself to bed as she thought about just how long it would take her heart to get over Hermione Granger.

Erin Griffin

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