"What did you say?" Ginny sputtered.
The Slytherin fourth-year, whose name escaped Ginny at that moment, turned and sneered. "I said, 'There goes Easy Weasley.'" Her friends snickered. Ginny gaped at her for several seconds, uncertain how to respond.
Luna tugged at her sleeve. "Let's go," she whispered.
Ginny folded her arms across her chest and glared at the pack of Slytherin girls, keenly aware that nearly every ear in Flourish and Bott's was now turned their way. "What is that supposed to mean?"
It was the girl's turn to gape at Ginny. "I should think it's obvious," she replied, glancing sideways at her friends. One of them, a horsey-faced girl, giggled.
"Well, it isn't," Ginny replied, straightening up to her full height. It wasn't much of a retort, but it was the best she could do at the moment.
The ringleader's eyes glinted, as if she'd been waiting for such an opportunity. "Everyone knows you're a slut, Weasley. All the boys talk about the disgusting things you do. They say you even practice on your brothers at home."
Ginny felt the blood rising to her face. She knew she was on the verge of turning the same color as her hair, but she didn't care. Later, she'd think of a hundred clever things she could have said in reply, but at the moment, her mind was horribly blank.
"Not all pureblood families practice ritual incest like yours," Luna said, voice eerily calm.
"Did you hear something?" the girl asked her friends. "For a moment I thought that nutter Loony Lovegood had the audacity to speak to me." The others snickered.
Ginny's fingers traced the length of her wand. She could hex these girls into oblivion if she wanted. Of course, that would ensure her detention for a month. She'd get them later, when they didn't expect--
Luna tugged her sleeve again, more forcefully this time. "We don't have to listen to this, Ginny." Ginny glowered at her antagonists, but let herself be pulled away.
"Pathetic," she heard one of the girls say. "The only friend she has is that loser."
Ginny closed her eyes, letting Luna lead her from the store. She could hear the stifled giggles and whispers of the other Hogwarts students around her, and it was all she could do to pretend she didn't care.
The sunlight was bright on her face as they stepped out onto the busy Hogsmeade High Street. Ginny opened her eyes then, and pressed a hand to her forehead. "Fuck," she whispered.
"That's what they say," Luna sighed.
Ginny turned to stare at her, incredulous. "You knew about this?"
"Oh, yes," Luna replied, voice assuming its usual dreamy tone. "But I don't care what you do with your boyfriends. It's none of my concern."
"None of your..." Ginny clenched her jaw. "And what have I supposedly done?"
Luna smiled and tilted her head. "Want to go to Honeyduke's? I'll buy you an ice cream soda."
Ginny's lips pressed into a thin line. It must be bad, if Luna wanted to smooth the blow with something sweet. She nodded, and they started down the street in silence.
Ginny's mind was reeling now that her adrenaline levels were returning to normal. She'd noticed a certain amount of stiffness towards her over the last month, but she'd never imagined anything like this. Of course, she'd been asked on quite a few dates lately, and she'd chalked up her female classmates' coolness to jealousy. The boys she'd gone out with had lost interest in her when she made it clear she wasn't interested in doing much more than kissing, anyway.
Ginny bit her lip as the pieces of the puzzle began to slide into place. She groaned, earning a strange look from Luna.
Luna pushed open the door of Honeyduke's, and they stepped inside. A tittering came over the room, and Ginny became acutely aware that most of the attention was focused on her. Some students whispered to each other and giggled, shooting furtive glances in her direction. Others stared openly, as if expecting her to do something outrageous.
Her eyes scanned the room defiantly, finally landing on a group of Gryffindor sixth-years seated in the corner. Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan were smirking at her. Neville Longbottom just looked embarrassed. He avoided Ginny's gaze, staring into his cup of tea instead.
Ginny wondered if this was what it felt like to be Harry.
"What would you like?" Luna asked, clearly trying to distract her.
"Nothing," Ginny hissed, turning and stalking out the door.
Her feet carried her up the street, across a grassy park, and up a hill. She stopped at the apex, back turned on the town, and folded her arms around her torso. She wasn't going to cry. Not about something as stupid as this.
"Did you really do any of those things?" Luna asked, behind her. Ginny turned to see her leaning against a tree.
"I don't even know what they're saying I did!" Ginny snapped.
"Well, there are plenty of rumors," Luna began. "One was that you did Ernie MacMillan in the Potions classroom. And you wanted Blaise Zabini to tie you up with a Slytherin scarf and lick chocolate sauce off you."
"That's not true!" Ginny cried, stepping towards her. "None of it's true! I haven't done anything. I'm still a virgin, even." She hid her face in her hands. "Oh, god."
"And then there's the rumor that you sucked off Dean and Seamus at the same time in their dormitory," Luna continued, as if she hadn't heard a word Ginny had just said. "I heard that one from Dennis Creevey."
Ginny dropped her hands, exasperated. "That didn't happen, Luna, I swear." She paused. "Dennis told you that?"
Luna nodded. "He claims he saw you go into the sixth-year dorm, and then he saw Seamus and Dean come out later, laughing about it."
Ginny felt her anger begin to rise again. "You want to know what really happened? I went looking for my brother, and I walked in on the two of them, lying on a bed, wanking, together." Luna's eyebrows shot up, and Ginny took a step closer. "They were really embarrassed when they saw me, and I apologized and left. That's all. Neither of them could look at me for a week after."
Luna leaned her head against the tree and stared at Ginny with a dreamy expression on her face. "You really didn't do any of those things?"
"Of course not," Ginny groaned. "I can't believe you thought I did."
Luna shrugged. "You've a right to do what you please. I admired you for it, actually."
"No wonder so many boys have been interested in me lately. And Ron and Harry both have been avoiding me. You'd think my own brother would stand up for me."
"Boys are weird like that," Luna supplied.
"I hate boys," Ginny hissed. "They're fairly useless, aren't they?"
Luna's face broke into a smile and she shifted her position against the tree. "Yeah," she replied. Something in her tone of voice made Ginny look up. Luna's hair was cascading over her shoulders, and that butterfly clip Ginny hated so much glinted in the sunlight. Luna licked her lips. "Completely useless."
Ginny's eyes narrowed. "I've never heard about you dating anybody," she said. "How would you know?"
Luna's smile was enigmatic, and her cheeks turned an endearing shade of pink. "Well... It's just that... Girls are more fun."
Oh. Ginny blinked at her, wondering why she hadn't figured it out before. She bit her lip, considering. She liked Luna, and trusted her. Luna was very pretty, especially like this, with the sunlight shining down on her. It wasn't like Ginny hadn't wondered what it would be like, with a girl.
A gust of wind rustled Ginny's skirt, lifting it. A single pink cherry blossom floated down and settled itself in Luna's hair. Ginny reached to pluck it out, and Luna froze.
"You know," Ginny said, leaning closer, "I can think of one way to stop all those rumors."
"Yeah?" Luna asked. Her voice wavered just a bit. She was nervous, Ginny realized.
Ginny plucked the pink blossom from her hair and trailed it down Luna's cheek, across her lips. Luna closed her eyes. Ginny swallowed, astonished that she could have this effect on another person.
"If everyone thought I didn't like boys at all, then maybe they'd realize those rumors aren't true."
Luna opened her eyes again. "How would you make them think you don't like boys?" Her voice was small, not much more than a whisper.
Ginny hesitated for a moment. She liked Luna, and didn't want to hurt her. Maybe this was a bad idea. Luna's lips parted just a bit, and Ginny couldn't help but stare. Cherry pink, and wet, and probably soft, and...
She leaned closer, letting her hands fall to clasp the folds of Luna's robe. Luna was trembling now, but those blue eyes were fixed on Ginny's, those lips beckoning.
Luna's mouth was soft and warm, and so different from any of the boys Ginny had kissed. Their lips moved together, then tentatively parted. The feeling of Luna's tongue sliding against her own made Ginny's insides wriggle pleasantly.
The breeze blew between them, and Ginny felt Luna's skirt brush against her bare thigh, tickling the little hairs she never bothered to spell off. She pressed closer, letting her hands slide inside Luna's robe, around her small waist. Luna whimpered and relaxed against her, small breasts pressing against Ginny's own.
They kissed for a long time, only stopping when they heard voices nearby. Ginny stepped back, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand as she glanced around.
Luna grinned. "Well, at least the rumor about you being a good kisser was true."
Ginny laughed. "I have had quite a lot of practice lately." She felt herself blush. "I'm sorry. That was perfectly tactless, wasn't it?"
"No, it's fine," Luna replied, smiling earnestly. "I don't mind."
Ginny bit her lip. "I'm glad."
"So what's the plan?"
Ginny blinked at her. "Sorry?"
"You said you had an idea about how to stop the rumors."
"Oh. Yeah." Ginny blew out a breath and smiled. "Still want to buy me an ice cream soda?"
Luna grinned. "I think I know just what you have in mind." She pushed away from the tree and held out her hand. Ginny took it, smiling as their fingers intertwined.
The eyes of the crowd at Honeyduke's were on them again, but Ginny didn't really care. She sipped her ice cream soda and smiled, and leaned across the table to kiss Luna's ice-cream flavored lips. There was a twittering around them, but she didn't turn to look. Her eyes drifted over Luna's shoulder and caught those of Neville, still sitting in the corner with an incredulous Dean and Seamus.
Neville winked at her, and Ginny grinned.