The Sugar Quill
Author: Immortal_Cherub  Story: Without Your Help  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Without Your Help

 

Without Your Help

~Cherub~

 

Disclaimer: As we all (should) know, JK Rowling is the one true author of Harry Potter and I wouldn’t dream of trying to pass off her characters as my own. Harry Potter belongs to JK; there you go for everyone who needs the disclaimer J.

 

*          *          *

 

“Wicked! Hey Harry, check out how this guy cuts corners!” Ron Weasley exclaimed in awe, as he thrust a Quidditch magazine in Harry’s face and stuck his other hand into a bag of Bertie Bott’s beans beside him on the armchair. Harry gazed at the moving pictures in the magazine before him that he had gotten so used to.

 

“That’s excellent flying! Must’ve been playing for years now!” he analysed.

 

It was late on a Friday night, and Harry, Ron and Hermione had the Gyffindor common room to themselves, as everybody else had already retired to their dorms. The fire crackled from its spot in the fireplace and bathed the three before it in a soft light. Harry and Ron had a couple of Quidditch magazines that had arrived with the post that morning, and they were studying them in earnest. Hermione, the third member of their trio, was also studying. It was hardly surprising that numerous schoolbooks and volumes lay in front of her, in stark contrast to Ron and Harry’s reading material.

 

“Nothing in that one either!” she sighed in exasperation and slammed a heavy and slightly dusty old volume on top of a growing pile of similar books on the floor beside her.

 

“Hermione, you shouldn’t worry so much about an assignment when it’s due in three weeks. Besides, you always get top marks.” Harry reasoned with her, glancing at the books and popping a bean into his mouth. Ron looked over at Harry as if to say ‘If we’ve told her once, we’ve told her a thousand times’ and shook his head.

 

“This isn’t the first time I’ve had to question your sanity, Hermione,” He said, rolling his eyes and turning the page of his magazine where a particularly skilled seeker was demonstrating a shallow dive. “It’s Friday night. Put that nasty thing away and have some fun!” Harry nodded in agreement.

 

“Fun,” Hermione scoffed, fixing Ron with a superior gaze, “Pouring over Quidditch magazines all evening?” She looked over at Harry as well, “I don’t see how you two can be so obsessed with the one sport! Wonky Faints and things, honestly!”

 

Harry and Ron exchanged looks of mock horror and groaned.

 

“Wronski Fients!” Harry corrected her, amusement as well as annoyance in his voice.

 

“Oh well, the way I see it, it’s your loss.” Ron shrugged and offered her the bag of beans. “Bean?”

 

“No thanks.” Hermione smiled at him briefly from over yet another textbook.

 

“Anyway,” Ron said, throwing aside his magazine and eyeing the mammoth book that Hermione was reading, “How old is that thing? Looks like it belongs to a bloody museum!”

 

“Don’t swear Ron! And for your information it happens to be very informative and –”

 

Harry sighed and tuned out for a moment. He loved his two friends, he really did, but hearing them argue several dozen times a day wore thin after awhile. Finding himself yawning yet again, he interrupted them.

 

“I think I’m going to go to bed.” He hopped off the chair he was reclining in.

 

“Good idea. I might head off too.” Ron said, noticing that it was ten o’clock.

 

“Don’t stay up too late, Hermione. Goodnight!” Harry said and turned to head off up the boys staircase.

 

“You can always transfigure one of those old things into a blanket if you were planning on staying there all night” Ron teased Hermione. She shook her head in half-annoyance and sent a cushion flying through the air at him, which he quite easily dodged.

 

“See you in the morning” he grinned and followed Harry up the stairs.

 

“Night you two.” Hermione called after them, bringing the cushion back through the air and onto an adjacent couch. She sighed again. It was all right for those two, they never seemed to care much when it came to excelling in magic. She flicked through a couple of chapters but nothing caught her eye. Glancing over at the bit of parchment her History of Magic task was written on, she groaned and leant her head back on the armchair for a moment. Their class was required to pick a single spell, charm or incantation to research and present a detailed account on. No one else had trouble deciding what to look up, but asking Hermione to decide on just one single spell was like asking Snape to stir your cauldron for you. Putting it simply, it just wasn’t going to happen. The thing was, Hermione was determined to pick a really good spell, and so far nothing had stood out.

 

She was absentmindedly staring at the fire for about ten minutes before she became aware of a pair of eyes lingering on her. Looking up with a start she saw that it was none other than Ron, and to her horror and amazement she found herself blushing. ‘Just how long has he been standing there…?’ she silently thought to herself, but quickly dismissed such a notion. 

 

“Couldn’t sleep,” Ron explained, sheepishly, before she could say anything. “Seamus snores like a dragon with a cold at times.”

 

Hermione couldn’t help herself and laughed aloud, failing to notice when the tips of Ron’s ears turned pink.

 

“I won’t be much company, I’m afraid.” She said, almost apologetically as she pointed to the dreaded textbooks. Ron shrugged.

 

“Ah, you’ll do.” He said, and flopped into a neighbouring armchair, picking up one of the Quidditch magazines that had been carelessly left lying around earlier. Hermione bit her tongue to keep from saying something smart back and returned again to the page in front of her, though with much difficulty. She was finding it harder and harder of late to concentrate on anything important when she was alone with Ron, let alone get anything done. It wasn’t as if she just slackened off. No, it was more than that, a kind of feeling, like persistent butterflies in her stomach. And she realized with annoyance that she didn’t quite know for sure if she understood the feeling correctly. Surely she couldn’t be falling –

 

A shadow fell over the page that she had been staring at blankly, lost in her thoughts and she looked up, startled. Ron was standing there, head to one side and looking at her thoughtfully.

 

“What are you doing, Ron? Can’t you see I’m trying to study?” she snapped, a little more harshly than she had intended.

 

“I’m sure you’ll get over it!” he said, catching her tone and retaliating. “I was just going to say that you should abandon those cruddy books for tonight and unwind for once.” And with that he took hold of the book in her lap. Hermione grabbed the other side of it.

 

“Ron, would you stop being so stubborn?” she said, annoyed, looking up at him from her spot on the couch. Ron chose to ignore this remark and gently prised her fingers away from the book. That too seemed to have an effect on her, and all resolve to think sensibly flew out the window. She looked away.

 

“Come and play a game of chess with me.” He said, looking a bit flustered himself.

 

“You know you always beat me.”

 

“Well, yeah, but it’s got to be better than that old thing.” He replied in a good-natured way. “So, what do you say?”

 

Surprising even herself, she got off the couch and dusted herself off. “Why not. It’s not like I’ve progressed too much with that tonight anyway.” She said, giving the books a last glance and seating herself on the opposite side of the chessboard to Ron, alongside the fire.

 

“All I can say is; you’re going down, Hermione. No one beats… the chess king!” he grinned, setting up the chess pieces. She rolled her eyes and looked at him, cynically.

 

“One of these days, Ron Weasley, you won’t know what hit you.” she exclaimed, signaling a pawn towards the centre of the board while trying hard to ignore the feeling that that sentence held a double meaning.

 

“Famous last words, I’m sure.” Ron said, grinning maddeningly.

 

A contented silence settled over the two of them, the only sounds coming from the fire crackling merrily beside them, whenever they gave orders to the pieces, and (of course) the sounds coming from the pieces exaggeratedly beating their opponents up.

 

“You’ve improved.” Ron said, as one of his pawns tackled one of hers.

 

“We only played last week,” she teased, “But still, I wouldn’t be nearly as good as I am without your help.”

 

He looked up and caught her eye questioningly, and their gaze held. And held. And would have held some more had it not been for a stray strand of hair falling in front of her eyes. She was both grateful and frustrated at this sudden interruption and Ron chose that moment to checkmate her and end the game.

 

“And that would make fifty-nine victories to me and one to you, only because you fluked it that time when Fred distracted me with his hand dance.” he exalted, but failed to meet her eyes despite the intense moment that had just past between them.

 

“Yes OK, you don’t have to rub it in.” she sighed, shaking her head. Ron yawned suddenly and looked over at the clock.

 

“Nearly midnight,” he stated, “You’re absolutely off your rocker if you go back to studying now.”

 

Hermione frowned, “Oh, that. It’s such an annoying assignment in the fact that – ”

 

“What’s this? Hermione involving the words ‘annoying’ and ‘assignment’ in the same sentence?” he joked.

 

“Oh haha, very funny Ron!” she said, irritated. Ron looked at her for a minute and then spoke up.

 

“Right, let’s see it then.” He pulled out his wand and pointed it in the direction of Hermione’s task sheet of parchment. “Only because I’m too lazy to get in myself, mind you.” He said, pointing at his wand and then waving it.

 

Wingardium Leviosa!”

 

The parchment flew over and drifted into his outstretched hand. He cleared his throat, feigning authority, “Now…” he cut himself short suddenly as he noticed that Hermione had gone oddly quiet and was looking at him with a far off expression.

 

“You’ve improved too,” she murmured.

 

Ron gaped at her. “What? You can’t mean that ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ I just did? Hermione, you and I both know that we’d all mastered it by the end of first year, and now we’re in the fifth year, so – ”

 

Her gaze cleared suddenly and she looked him in the eye, “I didn’t mean it like that, I just… took a trip down memory lane.”

 

He looked at her suspiciously, “Oh yeah?”

 

Hermione laughed quietly to herself, “Can you remember the first time we really practiced that spell in Charms class?”

 

Now it was Ron’s turn to laugh. “How could I forget? Professor Flitwick paired us off together and neither of us was very happy about it. And you went ahead and performed it perfectly, like always – ”

 

“What do you mean, ‘like always’?” she said, a little indignant. Ron ignored her and continued.

 

“And then… you went off to the toilets – ”

 

“Only because someone was being a real prat.” She said, looking a little putout. Ron had the grace to look ashamed.

 

“Anyway! Then Harry and I came to save you – ”

 

“And then it turned out that Harry was the one who needed to be saved!”

 

They both laughed at the memory until Hermione spoke up again, “That was when you performed Wingardium Leviosa for the first time since we had that class.”

 

“I was so happy when it actually worked, didn’t reckon it was going to. One more swing of that trolls club and Harry would’ve been toast. Though I 'spose…” he stopped, and she looked at him, waiting, as he continued, quietly.

 

“I ’spose that I wouldn’t be nearly as good as I am… without your help.”

 

This time their gaze held and stayed. Both felt themselves leaning unconsciously forward.

 

Neither realised how close they were until they kissed.

 

They pulled apart briefly, questioning each other with their eyes before Ron leant forward and kissed her again. It wasn’t until she was kissing him back that the reality of what they were doing fully struck her, and it just felt… right. Somewhere in the back of her mind she thought about how ironic it all was, that they, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger - the two that probably held the record for most fights and constant bickering - should be locked in such an embrace. Previous differences and arguments left untouched after the Yule Ball of last year melted away into nothingness.

 

Small cheers and the tiny patter of clapping hands finally separated them. They looked down to find the chess pieces sitting there in miniature deckchairs, grasping teeny cans of soda and munching on minute boxes of popcorn. Ron and Hermione both turned bright red and Ron sent them back to their respective compartments.

 

Keeping their eyes averted from one another, Hermione spoke up quietly, “I didn’t expect that to happen, I must say.” Ron nodded, wide eyed. Hermione plucked up her courage and looked him in the eyes.

 

“Ron, how long have you… felt that way about me?” she blushed. The tips of Ron’s ears were now as red as tomatoes.

 

“Geez, Hermione. I don’t know… I never realised it properly until now. But last year, the reason why I asked you if you’d been mixing up love potions was because I thought that – ”

 

She looked at him, puzzled.

 

“Ithoughtyoumighthaveputoneonme…” he blurted out.

 

Hermione glared, “Honestly! I’d never do anything of the sort! You should know me better, Ron!”

 

“Well, that’s that then.” He said, looking apologetic. A big grin spread over his face. “So… me and not Krum, hey?”

 

“Me and not Fleur, hey?” she mimicked, but she was smiling too.

 

After a moment Ron spoke up again reluctantly, “I suppose I better get off to bed.”

 

“O.K… Good night Ron.”

 

“Night, Hermione.”

 

He was nearly at the foot of the boy’s staircase when he turned back.

 

“Hermione?”

 

She looked up from where she still sat on the floor, “Yes?”

 

“Swish and flick!” He mimed with an imaginary wand, grinned, and then he was gone.

 

Hermione picked up the piece of parchment her assignment was written on that had been lying forgotten on the floor beside her. She briefly realised that Ron never looked at it after all and laughed freely when she realised that he had ended up helping her in more ways than he knew. A smile crossed her lips as she thought back to what had just happened, and how glad she was that their friendship seemed all the stronger for it. But now it was time to get serious and start that assignment. She picked up her quill and began to write:

 

Wingardium Leviosa…

 

 

~The End~

 

 

//
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