Watch out for the
staircases...they tend to change.
students at Hogwarts had heard these words plenty of times before, and most of
them were quite adept at avoiding the especially tricky ones, which was what
made it unusual, this warm spring day, for two fifth years to get lost on an
obscure set of stairs by Gryffindor Tower. They had never seen these stairs
before, and wouldn't have blundered onto them at all if they hadn't been
will not have you speak to me like this is my
fault! You are the one who was so
wrapped up in explaining dungbombs to me that you completely sidetracked me,
and now we're lost, and we're going to be late for breakfast. Harry will wonder
where we are, and I'll tell him that it was your
if I was with Harry in the first place this never would have happened! He's the sort of person who can talk and
think at the same time."
you saying I'm not?"
look, for goodness sake! We're on
some staircase that we've never seen before, and which will probably go on like
the staircase did look like it would
go on forever. It was made of grey stone, and twisted up and out of sight.
looked up at Ron, who was on the step above her, and frowned.
can't believe you're trying to blame this on me, Ron Weasley. I never would
have gotten so distracted if you hadn't assaulted me with your silly theory so
early in the morning!"
forgive me. I thought you'd be
interested in my theory that dungbombs..." His ears reddened suddenly, and
he stopped climbing.
Hermione's hair was coming out of the slide that she had put in that morning,
and she could feel her face getting red from exertion. She looked up at Ron
just that I've forgotten the theory, now...thanks to you!"
looked at him in irritation. "If you ever had a sound theory in the first place."
I did! If you had been actually listening
to me, you would have remembered it, and we could be discussing it right now,
on the way to breakfast, instead of being lost on these bloody stairs!"
yeah? Who told you to-"
both stopped suddenly.
both tried to speak at once. Hermione nodded her head for Ron to go on.
all I was going to say is that this is stupid. Let's not argue, all right?
Let's just try to find a way out of this stairwell!"
what I was going to say, as well. Look, we can't go back, so-"
Why can't we go back?"
you stop interrupting me? I was saying
that we can't go back, because, well...look."
turned around and looked at the stairs behind Hermione...well...he would have if there had been any. There
was nothing behind Hermione now but a silvery mist. As soon as they moved up
another step the one before was dissolved into nothingness. They watched in
Where'd they go?"
should I know? I say let's-"
should know." Ron looked down at his sneakers. "After all, you are the cleverest witch in our
was about to remind him again to stop interrupting her, but instead she looked
up at him. "You really think so?"
come on, Hermione. Everyone knows you are. I've always just thought that you
could handle anything."
can't, you know. I don't know any better than you do, and...."
just that you don't realize, sometimes, Ron...but there are some things that
you do better than I do...like chess, for example, and you do quite well in
that mockery of a class, Divination."
Her nose wrinkled at the mention of the one class that she had no use for.
sometimes think you really do see
things a bit clearer than the rest of us." She stopped climbing once again
and he turned to face her, a huge grin on his face.
well. I suppose you could be right. I just never thought about it. I'm sure
there are loads of things that I can
do better than you, actually!"
grin suddenly gone, Ron looked at Hermione intently for a few seconds, until
she started to squirm under his gaze.
I think...I mean...I guess that's what I needed to hear, honestly, because
sometimes I feel like...like there is nothing that I'm very good at, and I know
it's stupid, but sometimes I wish I were
Ron...there are times when everyone feels that way. He gets a lot of attention,
yes...but at such a high price! I know there are times when he wishes he were you."
looked skeptical. "Why do you say that? Because I've got this big, happy
family that gets along all the time? Well, I can tell you..."
time Hermione interrupted him.
so much more than that. I know your family isn't perfect, but there is a lot of
affection between you, and that's pretty special, you know. To have people who
care for you no matter what silly things you say or do...no matter what marks
you get, don't you see, Ron?"
turned and sat down on the step, not seeming the least bit fearful of being
swallowed up by the mist behind them. Ron didn't share her bravery. His heart
gave a funny lurch as he thought about her tumbling into the mist. He hastily
sat down beside her. She turned to him and smiled a sad, sad smile, and
continued to talk.
are always anxious that you'll never live up to your brothers' glory, but the
truth is...I happen to know that all your family really expects is for you to
be...you. That's all any of us want
from you, Ron...because that is enough."
smiled at Hermione, a genuine smile, which always made her melt inside, when
she was lucky enough to get it.
Hermione...you always know precisely what to say to cheer me up. I don't know
if what you just said is true, exactly,
but I'll remember it." He looked down at his hands and sighed.
better keep climbing, or we may never eat!"
who was, frankly, expecting more serious words, was startled.
that all you can think about, Ron? Eating?
What if we never find a way out? What then?"
stood up, and Hermione, set for more sparring, stood up with him.
smiled, "Well...then I guess we won't be eating, then."
pushed him along in front of her.
grinned and leaned back into her hands as she pushed him. Maybe, just maybe, he was starting to get it now.
weren't the only things that changed at Hogwarts.
Author's note...Ron and
Hermione eventually made it to the Astronomy tower, and found their way from
there to the Great Hall. Neither seemed to care that they had missed breakfast
entirely, and Harry thought that they probably could go a lifetime without
eating, because their unique way of communicating seemed to sustain them quite