The Sugar Quill
Author: rebeccagrace (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Change  Chapter: Default
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Watch out for the staircases...they tend to change.


The 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 bickering.


"Nice going, Hermione."


"Ron...I 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 fault!" 


"Well, 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."


"Are you saying I'm not?"


"Well, look, for goodness sake! We're on some staircase that we've never seen before, and which will probably go on like this forever."


Indeed the staircase did look like it would go on forever. It was made of grey stone, and twisted up and out of sight.


Hermione looked up at Ron, who was on the step above her, and frowned.


"I 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!"


"Hey, forgive me. I thought you'd be interested in my theory that dungbombs..." His ears reddened suddenly, and he stopped climbing.


"What?" 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 expectantly.


"'s just that I've forgotten the theory, now...thanks to you!"


She looked at him in irritation. "If you ever had a sound theory in the first place."


"Hey, 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!"


"Oh yeah? Who told you to-"


They both stopped suddenly.






They both tried to speak at once. Hermione nodded her head for Ron to go on.


"Well, 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!"


"That's what I was going to say, as well. Look, we can't go back, so-"


"What? Why can't we go back?"


"Will you stop interrupting me? I was saying that we can't go back, because, well...look."


Ron 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 wonder.


"Hey! Where'd they go?"


"How should I know? I say let's-"


" should know." Ron looked down at his sneakers. "After all, you are the cleverest witch in our year."


Hermione was about to remind him again to stop interrupting her, but instead she looked up at him. "You really think so?"


"Oh come on, Hermione. Everyone knows you are. I've always just thought that you could handle anything."


"Well...I can't, you know. I don't know any better than you do, and...."


"And what?"


"'s just that you don't realize, sometimes, Ron...but there are some things that you do better than I 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.


"I 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.


"Yes, 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!"


"Oh, Ron...honestly!"


His grin suddenly gone, Ron looked at Hermione intently for a few seconds, until she started to squirm under his gaze.


"Hermione, I think...I mean...I guess that's what I needed to hear, honestly, because sometimes I feel there is nothing that I'm very good at, and I know it's stupid, but sometimes I wish I were Harry."


"Oh, 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."


Ron 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..."


This time Hermione interrupted him.


"'s 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 matter what marks you get, don't you see, Ron?"


She 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.


"You 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 That's all any of us want from you, Ron...because that is enough."


Ron smiled at Hermione, a genuine smile, which always made her melt inside, when she was lucky enough to get it.


"Thanks, 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.


"We better keep climbing, or we may never eat!"


Hermione, who was, frankly, expecting more serious words, was startled.


"Is that all you can think about, Ron? Eating? What if we never find a way out? What then?"


Ron stood up, and Hermione, set for more sparring, stood up with him.


Ron smiled, "Well...then I guess we won't be eating, then."


"Ron, you git..."


She pushed him along in front of her.


Ron grinned and leaned back into her hands as she pushed him. Maybe, just maybe, he was starting to get it now.


Staircases 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 well indeed...





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