The Sugar Quill
Author: Anione Graton  Story: Hungry Eyes  Chapter: Chapter 1
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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

 

“Now remember, students, tomorrow we’re going to go outside for our final demonstration of the term. Make sure to bring your gloves and your scarves,” Professor Sprout instructed. The students were dismissed, packing up their bags and heading out.

Harry Potter threw the last of his papers into his Herbology book and shoved it into his bag as he ran to catch up with his two best friends, Hermione Granger (who was busily reading the next few paragraphs of her favorite book, Hogwarts, A History) and Ron Weasley.

“Fascinating lesson wasn’t it?” Hermione muttered, not taking her nose out of her book.

“We didn’t do anything!” Ron said, rolling his eyes. “We studied the plants we’re going to be seeing tomorrow. How exciting is that?”

Hermione said nothing but only grunted. Harry shrugged. “I thought it was interesting.”

Ron laughed. “Harry, you fell asleep.”

Hermione raised her nose out of her book to glare at the pair as they laughed richly. “It’s not funny. What happens if this comes up on the exams? Hmm?”

“Oh calm down, Hermione!” Ron said through a laugh. “We’ll read the chapter later.”

“No you won’t,” she said, pressing her nose back into her book and walking farther ahead than the other two.

They slowed to a halt. “What’s her problem?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know,” said Ron, watching Hermione. She hadn’t acted this strangely since their third year. “You don’t suppose it has to do with school, does it?”

“Well, why should it?” Harry asked, beginning to walk again. “She’s the top of every class and she’s taking the normal required amount. Besides that, she’s Prefect. I don’t understand it at all.”

“Neither do I,” Ron said, casting a sideways glance at Hermione, who had stopped to talk to a professor before entering their next class, Transfiguration.

Harry sighed. “So are you staying for Christmas break?”

“Oh yeah,” Ron said, coming back down to earth. His thoughts had been on Hermione. His thoughts were always suddenly turning to Hermione those days. “Yes, I am staying. I just wrote home yesterday to ask Mum if I could. They’re going to stay with Bill anyhow. Ginny will probably be staying here.”

“I see,” Harry said. “I just don’t get…” Yet before Harry could finish his thought, they were interrupted by a familiar fifth year.

“Hello, Harry,” said Ginny Weasley’s voice. She had run up to them after coming from her last class.

“Hello, Ginny, what is it?” he asked, frowning. Ron stood by, unnoticed.

“Andrew says there’s a problem with that new Quidditch form you drew up. He says that we Chasers don’t have the room to score with where you’ve put the Beaters,” she explained hastily.

Harry sighed, frustrated. He looked at Ron and smiled apologetically. “I have to go handle this, I’ll catch up with you in class. Save me a seat,” he called, and he ran off with Ginny.

Ron watched them retreat and found himself all alone, thinking about one thing.

Hermione had clouded his thoughts more often than anything anymore and it was almost annoying. He found that he couldn’t do his homework sometimes because of it… not that he did it anyway.

He slowly drifted toward Professor McGonagall’s class and looked up at the board in front of the classroom. He read, much to his dismay, ‘Today: Animals to Furniture.’ He took his usual seat next to Hermione, placing his books on top of Harry’s seat. Hermione still had her nose plunged into her book.

Ron cleared his throat. Hermione didn’t look up. He cleared his throat again and she still didn’t give an inch. Finally, with one loud cough, he managed to attract her attention.

“Don’t sit so close to me. I don’t want to get what you’ve got,” she shot at him.

A shocked look crossed his face and turned quickly to one of disappointment. Professor McGonagall walked into the classroom, right by Ron’s chair.

“Weasley, where is Mr. Potter?” she asked in the strict tone she was so famous for using.

He looked down at the desk in front of him. “H-He had to go work out a few Quidditch problems.”

McGonagall pursed her lips. “Well, as long as he’s here before we begin,” she said, and continued to move forward. Ron half smiled and then looked back at Hermione, who seemed to be completely entranced by her book.

“Hermione,” he whispered.

“What?” she snapped.

He jumped back with a start and then sighed heavily. “Never mind,” he shot back.

She slammed her book shut, which caused Ron to jump once again. “You’ve been badgering me all day! What do you want?”

“What is your problem?” he asked angrily.

“Problem? Do I always have to have a problem?” she too, was growing angry. “Does it always have to be something?”

“Not always, but right now it does,” he retorted. “You’re usually pleasant and for some reason the past few days you’ve become rather short. I was wondering what was going on.”

“Nothing is going on! Can’t a girl read?” she yelled.

“Not if you’ve read the book three hundred times!” he screamed back at her.

Hermione stuck her nose up and turned away. “Well, I wouldn’t expect you of all people to understand what kind of a joy comes out of reading.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” His red eyebrows knit together in confusion and fury.

Nothing,” she said nastily, opening her book again. “It just means that you’re always complaining about not getting good grades when you don’t even read the material. It’s hypocritical.”

“Hypo…” he started, but was cut off when Harry sat down next to him.

“Hello. Thanks for saving a seat, have we started class yet?” Harry asked, his green eyes wide and full of sudden spirit.

Ron shot an evil look over at Hermione. “No. We haven’t.”

Hermione put her book down and didn’t dare look over at either Harry or Ron.  Ron kept his back to Hermione for most of the hour. Harry sighed. It was happening far too often. Petty bickering and stupid fights between Ron and Hermione were becoming a daily routine, and he still had trouble figuring out why.

“Alright class,” McGonagall said, stepping up to the front of the room. “Today, we’ll be changing your pets into tables, desks, and chairs. Now,” she said, approaching a large toucan that was perched on the edge of her desk. “You will pick up your wands,” she instructed, picking up her own and pointing at the toucan. “One, two, three, monopodium.” The toucan instantly transformed into a table. The class oohed.

“Now, I want you to start smaller than that for now,” she pointed her wand and muttered, “Finite incantatem,” and the toucan was restored. “I want you to all say with me, one, two, three cella. This should turn your animal into a chair.”

The class all picked up their wands and pointed it at their pets. Ron picked his up half-heartedly and managed to say the words completely inaudibly. Hermione sighed disgustedly.

“What? Did I do something wrong as usual?” he snapped at her.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, you did,” she said, just as rudely.

“Hang on,” Harry said quickly. “Ron, do it over.”

“What? But I was—”

“Just do it!” Harry yelled.

“Yes, do it,” Hermione said, pointing her nose up again.

“You stay out of this,” Harry instructed briskly.

Holding his wand so tightly in his hand his knuckles were turning white, Ron spitefully over enunciated, “Cell-a.”

Hermione only turned her head briskly away from Ron and muttering something that sounded a lot like, “That’s better.”

For the remainder of Transfiguration, a tense silence filled the air between Ron and Hermione. Harry felt it grow. Within a few days, there would be a burst of emotions and he didn’t want to be there to see it this time.

They were then dismissed to lunch and as quickly as she possibly could, Hermione gathered up her things and rushed out the door. Ron spat, “Good riddance.”

Harry rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. “Go talk to her.”

Ron looked at Harry as if he were crazy. “What?

“Go talk to her,” he repeated. “And I’m serious.”

“Why don’t you go and talk to her?” he said stubbornly.

“Because I’m not the one she’s angry at.”

“Exactly,” Ron said, a sudden distressed look coming about his face. “She won’t yell at you.”

Harry looked at his friend sympathetically. “Maybe if you didn’t push every one of her buttons she wouldn’t yell at you.”

Ron remained quiet as they walked to the Great Hall. Upon entering, they found Hermione sitting in her usual seat. Her quill was pressed harder on the paper and writing faster than anyone’s they had ever seen.

Ron sat uncomfortably next to her and cleared his throat.

“What did I tell you?” Hermione snapped without looking up. “I don’t want to catch your cold, don’t sit so close to me. I can’t afford to be sick.”

He looked at Harry, asking for help. Harry too, cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak.

“Am I the only healthy person anymore?” she groaned disgustedly, finally looking up. She shoved her parchment papers into the books, slammed it shut, and gathered up her things. She fled the Great Hall, no doubted heading toward the library.

A crooked look told Harry that Ron desperately wanted to talk to her, and immediately following lunch Harry quickly made his way toward the library.

To no one’s surprise Hermione was sitting in a back corner. She had three books open and a roll of parchment in front of her, half written on. Harry sat down quietly in front of her.

“I can’t believe it,” she muttered after he sat in silence for a couple of seconds. “We have a three-paged essay due for Potions by tomorrow and I’m still on the first page! What is wrong with me?”

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off abruptly by Hermione’s rant. “I mean, I seem to be falling behind somehow lately, and I don’t know why.” What a lie, she thought suddenly.

As a sixteen-year-old girl began to lose control in front of him, Harry sat up straight in his chair and began to speak. “Listen, Hermione,” he began quietly. “I have no idea why you’ve been so short lately, but I want you to know that Ron¾

“Ron!” Hermione screamed. “RON? What has he got to do with anything?”

Harry was completely amazed in the change of tone Hermione had exhibited when the conversation turned to Ron. She had been civil one moment, unbelievably hostile the next.

“Hermione, listen, I was just¾

“What does he have to do with this conversation? Why was he brought into it?”

It was as if she wanted nothing to do with Ron whatsoever. Almost like she didn’t even want to hear his name.

“He’s really worried about you,” Harry fought for anything to say.

“Well,” Hermione said, her tone softening in the slightest. “If he’s so worried about me, tell him to come talk to me and not send you.” And with a slam of her books and her chair, she fled the library to her next class.

Harry watched her go, his mouth hanging open. What was going on here? There was obviously some serious problems with this girl if she was going to fly off the handle every time a certain name was mentioned.

A certain person.

The next few hours Ron and Hermione barely said but two stifled words to each other, while Harry stood by and scratched his head furiously. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever, that two best friends could go at each other’s throats so horribly and not seem to mind at all the next day.

Hermione was having a frustrating time in doing her Arithmancy homework that day. Not only were her equations becoming harder and harder to work out, but she was also having trouble getting Ron out of her head.

For the past few weeks he had done nothing but sit inside of her thoughts, and for once in her life she couldn’t figure out why. She couldn’t answer something and it was killing her.

It also completely bewildered her that every time she saw Ron, something inside of her went awry. Her heart thudded like crazy and her stomach churned constantly. She wanted to kick herself because she had been presenting such a snotty front.  It seemed as if she had to fight her new feelings about Ron, and to do that she was putting on her know-it-all face. All she really wanted to do was be a normal girl, smile and giggle and get closer to Ron than she ever had before. However, she was Hermione Granger. She couldn’t do this.

And it was Ron Weasley.

She snapped herself back into attention and reprimanded herself for being so careless with her thoughts. She had to organize herself once again before Christmas break.

Suddenly, it was as if she was hit with a ton of bricks.

CHRISTMAS!

After being dismissed from class, Hermione hightailed it to the owlery. She had a note to write home about Christmas that year. Her parents wanted to go away for Christmas break but Hermione had had the sudden strong desire to stay at Hogwarts. She was sure she knew why but tried to coax herself out of the thought before it had time to assume form.

Grabbing the note she had written out of her bag, she tied it to the leg of a large, distinguished-looking owl and watched as he flew off with the note. She didn’t wait to watch it disappear before she did the same thing, scurrying off to her Care of Magical Creatures class.

All the way down, she promised herself she was going to be civil. She was going to be kinder to Ron; it was the least that he deserved. How long would he be able to stand her rudeness before giving up completely? Not that he had been trying for anything before.

Seeing the two culprits standing outside of Hagrid’s hut, Hermione rapidly walked over to join them. Much to her dismay (and secret delight), Harry had gone inside the house with Hagrid to talk to him for a couple of minutes. It didn’t surprise Hermione at all. The three of them did this with Hagrid often.

Ron looked uncomfortable all by himself. They usually had Care of Magical Creatures with the Slytherins, which meant that Draco Malfoy was lingering about somewhere, in his usual nasty state of being. Ron would have rather danced with an ancromantula spider than to be anywhere near Malfoy.

Approaching the spot where Harry had been standing, Hermione sighed deeply and set her books down.

Ron looked at her, afraid of what to say. They stood in a tense silence for a couple of minutes, stealing the occasional glance. The noisy chatter going on around them was barely heard, because lost in a trance, Ron and Hermione were fighting too many feelings within to notice anything but each other.

Finally, catching each other’s gaze for once, Ron looked into Hermione’s big brown eyes, opening his mouth to speak. “Listen, Hermione—”

“—Ron, I—”

There was silence again and they both looked away from each other. Glancing slowly back upward, Ron stepped closer to Hermione. Much to her frustration, her heart was pounding like crazy on the walls of her chest. She could feel his wonderful warmth on her skin as he stepped closer, opening his mouth and gazing adoringly into her eyes.

“Hermione… I’m sorry about… everything…” he began cautiously.

It pleased Hermione to know that Ron was a decent enough person to take the initiative and say he was sorry first. It was what made him that much more special to her.

“It’s alright Ron, I’m sorry as well,” she said quietly, staring up into his vast blue eyes. My word, how handsome he’s gotten, she thought to herself.

Hermione’s blossoming beauty had not gone unnoticed by Ron, either. He had seen the way she had gone from a girlish eleven-year-old to a stunning sixteen-year-old woman.

“I’m glad that’s settled,” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth as Harry and Hagrid reappeared out of Hagrid’s hut.

“I am too,” she sighed happily, smiling at Ron.

Ron smiled back. “What do you say you blow off some studying tonight and just hang out with Harry and me in the common room?” he suddenly burst out.

Hermione was taken aback. “Oh Ron… I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of work for Arithmancy…” she began.

Ron was not convinced. Harry approached them, smiling, but unnoticed.

“Oh come on, Hermione! Have a bit of a fun side! You’ll have plenty of time to study and be boring during Christmas break at home.”

Hermione bit her lip. Did she tell them she was staying? She opened her mouth to begin but was cut off immediately by Harry.

What is going on here?” he bellowed. Ron and Hermione jumped back. “Two hours ago you two wanted nothing to do with the other! Now you’re making plans for tonight? What did I miss?”

Ron and Hermione stole glances and then looked back at a thoroughly frustrated Harry. They only laughed as Hagrid began class, talking about the bowtruckle. Ron placed his hand on top of Hermione’s, causing both of them to feel tingles up and down their spines.

“Let it go for one night… for me?”

Hermione couldn’t resist. She looked up into the shining blue eyes, and through a hoarse and choked voice, croaked out, “Sure.”

//
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