Ginny said, "Well, yeah," because Hermione looked sheepish and the only time she ever did was when the Ministry had sent her. Or Harry. She let Hermione in her shop anyhow. At least Hermione had the grace to feel bad about these things.
"I'm just going to get to it, yes?"
That was another reason Ginny still loved Hermione: she knew when to skip the pleasantries. Ginny nodded. Hermione said, "You've heard of Atlantis?"
"The mythical city that sank into the ocean?" Ginny, for her part, sank into the curved seat of one of her bikes. "Mum used to use it as a bedtime story. Nice and moral."
"Not so much a myth, as it turns out," Hermione said, and preceded to tell Ginny about things called wormholes and people called Ancients and galaxies called Pegasus.
Ginny digested as much of it as she could. "All right, so. . ."
"Yes, right. Well, the thing is, the Ancient technology seems to be a mixture of several things, and the head astrophysicist on the project is a Squib who, erm, violated international secrecy to tell his boss that he thinks a good dose of it might be, hrm, magically resonant?"
"Really?" Despite herself, Ginny was interested. "So they want someone magically adept to take a look."
"Someone magically adept who deals closely with a fusion of non-magical technology and magic professionally." Hermione looked pointedly around at the motorbikes Ginny had built from the ground up and Charmed into flying. "They searched Canada and America first but the few candidates they found weren't willing to go on expedition."
"And the Ministry thought I would be?"
"Percy probably said something about you liking adventure."
"I swear, I'm going to set the twins on him."
"I would do it."
"Set the twins on- Oh." Ginny raised an eyebrow. "You'd leave the boys?" she asked without bitterness. She'd long since gotten over Harry loving Hermione more than he ever would herself. Getting out of the galaxy, though, escaping the shadow of his fame, held its own sort of appeal.
Hermione smiled secretively. "I'd think about it."
"Atlantis." Ginny reached a hand out and slid it over the chic handlebars of the bike. "Mum's going to love this."
For her one personal item, Ginny took the bike she'd built for herself and nobody else. It was electric blue with a trail of silver waves lapping over the back fender. The shape was modeled after Ginny's own body, the way she wanted to curve when she was flying.
On ground, she could pass any car without even pressing much on the pedals.
In the air, she could break the sound barrier.
Two days in, when she realized that McKay's attitude toward her was just a slight turn sharper than it was with everyone else she said, "I couldn't care less that you're a squib, and I already know you're smarter than me. Tone it down or you're going to find out what I was like when I used to fight Dark Lords as a hobby."
That whole Voldemort thing had never really been a hobby per se, but McKay didn't know that and there was nobody here to tell him. He dialed the snark back to something approaching normal levels and Ginny gave him one of the Chocolate Frogs from the Ever-Replenishing box she'd found shrunken in her luggage. It was the twin's latest model and there had been a note attached: "Just in case."
Atlantis was a bit like Hogwarts, really, with its tight cliques and interest-based allegiances. Ginny didn't fit much of anywhere, working with the scientists, playing football with the military boys (it wasn't Quidditch, but what was?), sneaking off to crawl through the deserted parts of the city by herself or fly to the mainland on her bike.
She offered Sheppard a ride because he knew what she was and why she was there, and it had been awhile since Ginny'd had someone press up against her as she hurtled through the air. John liked flying which was a good enough reason for Ginny to let him climb on behind her.
He made appreciative sounds into her hair as they sped over the water, the air salty and clean. When they landed he asked, "You really made that?"
"Her name is Sirius," she said, not knowing why, she'd never told anyone that before.
"Sirius." Sheppard was whispering to her bike. Ginny looked away from his rumpled hair and the long line of his back. He said, "Like the dogstar."
Ginny said, "No," but didn't elaborate.
Sheppard looked up at her. "Ginny?"
Ginny picked up a rock and threw it over the ocean's surface. It skipped out farther than any Muggle would ever have been able to manage. Sheppard said, "Ginny," and pressed up behind her, like they were moving again, only they weren't.
He was a bit taller than her, but not much, so his hair brushed against hers as he dropped his head to her shoulder. She said, "I used to think I could rebuild all the things I'd lost."
Sheppard said, "Sometimes it's better just to start over," and didn't kiss her.
Elizabeth did. Late, one night over the bottle of wine that she had somehow kept hidden from the ravaging hoards. They were discussing nothing, tactics, weaponry, the karaoke contest one of the hapless scientists had set up the week before. Elizabeth took a sip, letting it settle in her mouth before swallowing.
Ginny said, "I was trying to get Ronon up there, but without Compulsion Curses my abilities are only so-"
The taste of wine was strong and sharp. Elizabeth was underneath it, mellow but somehow solid. Ginny drank her in until well past intoxication.
Ginny's headset crackled on. Elizabeth said, "Could you meet me in the conference room?"
"In a moment." Ginny threw an apologetic glance at a growly Rodney before extricating herself from the latest piece of Ancient technology. She took the halls at an unconcerned pace, meeting up with Sheppard near the transporter.
"Hey," he said. His smile was the same as always but there was a hint of something that seemed like fear in his body language. Ginny wondered when he'd begun being threatened by her.
She figured it out the moment she walked into the conference room, him following her. That was unusual--they were rarely needed at the same time. Elizabeth smiled gently, brilliantly for him. Ginny thought, hm, I usually notice these things.
"Was I some sort of bet?" she asked without much heat. She couldn't be arsed to work herself all up unless she actually had been.
Sheppard looked horrified. "NO."
Ginny tilted her head then. "Hm. What now?"
Sheppard asked softly, "You can make Sirius' seat bigger, right?"
Ginny let John fly Sirius so that she could fit herself between him and Elizabeth, almost too safe in their ink dark passage through the night sky. He kissed her by way of thank you. Elizabeth kissed her by way of a few other things. Ginny settled John so that he was straddling Sirius' and took him like that, Elizabeth's breasts pressed into her back, her mouth insistent at Ginny's neck. When she'd had her fun with John, Ginny lay Elizabeth back over Sirius' handlebars. She anchored Elizabeth with hands on either side and leaned down to put her mouth to good use.
She made John sit in the back and hold Elizabeth on their return journey to the city. Ginny wanted to race against the sound of the waves.