This is the first story I have written in a year and a half. I’d like to say thank you to my wonderful beta-readers, Kellie, Zsenya, and Sunshyndaisies for all of their suggestions and encouragement.
Disclaimer: As always, everything belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to Kellie for being a good friend and also a wonderful help with my writing.
“Poisonous toadstools don’t change their spots,” said Ron sagely. “Anyway, I’ve always thought Dumbledore was cracked trusting Snape, where’s the evidence he ever really stopped working for You-Know-Who?”
“I think Dumbledore’s probably got plenty of evidence, even if he doesn’t share it with you, Ron,” snapped Hermione.
“Oh, shut up, the pair of you,” said Harry heavily, as Ron opened his mouth to argue back. Hermione and Ron both froze, looking angry and offended. “Can’t you give it a rest?” he said. “You’re always having a go at each other, it’s driving me mad.”
Ron watched in shock as Harry stormed out of the Great Hall. Where had that come from? Since when did Harry dictate Hermione’s and his conversations? That wasn’t even a real fight, they were just merely discussing Snape’s…
Ron’s thoughts were interrupted when he heard Hermione indignantly mutter, “Honestly, that was quite…” Her words trailed off as if she too was too shocked to fully understand what had just happened.
Ron turned to look at her as he questioned, “Quite what, Hermione? Unexpected? Uncalled for? Completely missing the point?”
”Actually,” Hermione replied stiffly, “I was going to say rude; it was quite rude.”
”Yes, rude!” Hermione exclaimed. “And hypocritical. Getting angry at us for having a heated discussion, when he’s the one shouting at everyone. Who does he think he is, yelling at us all the time? Snapping at us, taking out his anger and frustration at everyone else on us. Doesn’t he realize that we’re on his side? That we’ve always been on his side?”
”Always will be on his side,” Ron finished.
“Exactly! Yet the very people who have always stood behind him, protected him, defended him are the ones he chooses to lash out at. I defend him last night when Lavender calls him a liar, and he shouts at me this morning for talking about him behind his back. Honestly!”
“Things got pretty heated between Seamus and Harry last night too. Might have come to blows if I hadn’t gotten involved. Harry’s wand was pointing at Seamus, and Seamus’s fists were clenched and ready to strike when I walked in.” Ron shook his head, still surprised at what he had witnessed last night from both of his roommates.
Something in Hermione seemed to have changed with Ron’s words because the next thing she uttered was spoken in a much softer and controlled tone. “I can’t believe that his own classmates don’t believe him. That they believe Fudge’s lies. Both Seamus and Lavender, and who knows how many others here, think Harry’s just after more attention.”
Ron snorted, “Yeah, if they only knew how much Harry didn’t want all of this attention.”
Hermione gave Ron a small smile before going back to eating her food quietly. It was obvious that she was deep in thought because she was mostly just staring at her plate as she absentmindedly moved her food around on it.
”What are you thinking about?” Ron finally had to ask.
“Nothing,” Hermione mumbled.
“Doesn’t look like nothing.”
”I just…” Hermione hesitated.
“You just what?” Ron prompted.
”I just feel like I don’t know how to be Harry’s friend right now. He’s gone through so much, survived so much that we can’t even begin to understand. It’s almost like he resents us for not being able to fully grasp it all. I don’t know what he wants from me. I don’t know how else to be his friend.” Hermione’s words all came out in a quick rush.
Ron contemplated for a moment before responding. “I don’t know either. We can’t even attempt to understand it because we haven’t been through it all. I think maybe he just needs us to stand by him.”
Hermione sighed, “I suppose you’re right. Still, he can’t keep yelling at us like he is. It just isn’t fair. I know he is going through a rough time, but it isn’t acceptable for him to continue to use us as a punching bag for all of his anger at the rest of the world. Maybe if we both say something to him, he’ll understand that it bothers us.”
Ron felt a sudden nervousness in his stomach. Did Hermione want him to confront Harry? Tell him to quit yelling at them? One look at her face confirmed his fears. That was exactly what she wanted.
“Er… I don’t know, Hermione. Maybe his yelling at us will pass soon. You said yourself that he’s going through a rough time.”
Hermione rolled her eyes as she stated, “Ron, I’m not saying that we start yelling back at Harry or that we tell him we won’t stay his friend if he continues. I just think he needs to know that we don’t appreciate being the target for all of his frustration. He needs to realize that we’re on his side and that taking things out on us doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Ron nodded. He wasn’t sure how he was going to word things to Harry without causing another outburst, but he supposed, as usual, Hermione was right.
Silence returned as they went back to eating, but a thought from Harry’s tirade just kept nagging at his head. What did Harry mean when he said that they were always having a go at each other? He and Hermione didn’t fight that often, did they? Sure he enjoyed getting Hermione cranked up sometimes. It was just so easy, and the way her eyes blazed when she was really passionate about her thoughts was very captivating? Captivating? What did he mean by that? The thoughts kept swirling in his head until finally he had to ask. “Hermione, do you think we fight too much?”
Hermione looked up from her meal and clearly was pondering his question. Finally she replied, “Fight? I don’t know that we fight all that much. We do disagree rather loudly quite often.”
Ron had to grin at her explanation. It was true. They didn’t truly fight very often. He wasn’t usually really mad at her. If he was honest, sometimes he just picked fights to get a reaction out of her. “Discuss loudly. I think that’s what we do.” He hesitated before adding, “I’m not really all that angry at you most of the time.”
Hermione smiled warmly back at him, “Me either.”
There was a pause before Ron stated, “Our discussions seem to bother Harry. Course everything bothers Harry these days.”
”True. Though I suppose we could make an effort to disagree less around him. I mean, we can get rather…enthusiastic in our disagreements. And if it really bothers him that much…”
“So, do you want to declare some sort of truce?” Ron suggested, getting out his seat as he picked up his books for class.
“A truce? So we agree not to do anything that Harry might consider fighting around him anymore?” Hermione questioned as she followed Ron out of the Great Hall.
”Well, to try to at least. What are our terms?” Ron asked.
“Terms?” Hermione questioned.
“Terms. Like I agree to try not to tease you about spew anymore.” Ron explained.
“Ron! It’s S.P.E.W. not spew. It’s a very important organization and those house elves—“
”Yeah, yeah.” Ron interrupted. “I said I would try. Now, it’s your turn.”
Hermione thought for a moment before grudgingly stating, “I agree to not bother you about your homework and the O.W.L.S. beyond what is necessary this year.”
Ron scoffed at her concession. “Hermione what you consider necessary and what I consider necessary are two very different things.”
”Fine! I will try not to nag you about your schoolwork. How’s that?” she snapped.
“This truce just won’t work with that kind of attitude, Hermione.” Ron said with a grin.
“Neither will it work with those kinds of comments, Ronald.” Hermione retorted.
“Well, we should at least give it a try for Harry’s sake.”
"For Harry's sake." Hermione echoed as she reached her hand out to Ron.
Ignoring the slight shock of electricity that went through his body when their hands touched, Ron shook her hand to finalize their agreement. After holding on for a little longer than was necessary, Ron gave her a slight smile before letting her hand go.
Lost in their own thoughts, they both were silent as they walked through the corridors towards their respective classes.
As Ron began to walk up the stairs that led to the North Tower, he heard Hermione shout his name. Surprised, he turned around in the direction her voice had come from. Making eye contact, he looked at her questioningly, and when she continued to just stare back at him, he finally asked, “What?”
Hermione opened her mouth as if to speak and then closed it again. Sighing, she finally broke eye contact and looked away blushing. Exasperated, Ron impatiently said, “Hermione, if you have something to say, just spit it out. Otherwise, we both have class to get to.” Hermione continued to stare at the ground so, rolling his eyes, he turned to head up the stairs again.
He only had made it up a few steps when he heard Hermione’s voice very quietly and tentatively say, “You are a good friend.”
Not sure he had heard her correctly, Ron turned back around and again questioned, “What did you just say?”
Clearly nervous and yet determined, Hermione met Ron’s eyes as she repeated in a much louder and clearer voice, “Ron, I want you to know that I think you are a very good friend.”
Ron’s heart swelled at her words. It was strange. Having been around each other for so long, he supposed it was a given that they considered each other good friends. However, they hardly ever spoke in such terms or so candidly about it. Yet with all of their disagreements and constant concern for Harry, it felt good to know that they had something that extended beyond all of that, a true friendship. He knew he couldn’t imagine his life without Hermione, especially since the summer. Whether she knew it or not, she was keeping him sane and making dealing with Harry and everything else much easier.
As if reading his thoughts, Hermione continued, “I know we do disagree a lot, but well, I can’t, uh, imagine going through everything that is happening right now without you.”
Having difficulty finding his voice, at first all Ron could do was meet her eyes and smile. Hermione’s whole body seemed to relax, and she met him with a smile of her own. As Ron walked down the steps he had climbed he couldn’t help but marvel at how her whole face lit up when she smiled. She really was beautiful. Ron shook his head as if trying to get rid of that last thought. He had been having more and more of those types of thoughts about Hermione lately, and while those types of thoughts were nice, he was quite scared about the fact they were involving his best friend. Either way, he concluded as he finally reached where she was standing, he definitely wasn’t ready to address them at this moment.
Standing in front of him, Hermione gazed at him expectantly, waiting for him to say something in response. Sadly, at first, all Ron could muster was a, “Me too.”
Hermione’s eyes narrowed, and Ron could tell that this clearly wasn’t the response she had been looking for. A slight hint of anger was even evident in her voice when she retorted, “You too? What exactly does that mean?”
Taken aback by her tone and wanting desperately to honor their truce agreement for at least longer than ten minutes, Ron sputtered out quickly, “I mean you are a good friend, too.”
Hermione’s eyes softened immediately at his words and then suddenly Ron found himself being thrown off balance as Hermione launched herself at him in a hug. Unsure, he slowly wrapped his arms around her as he felt her nestle her head into his chest. Amazingly, this didn’t feel as awkward as it had when she had hugged him during their third year. In fact, Ron marveled, this didn’t feel awkward at all. It felt like, like… home. As if all their troubles and problems somehow didn’t exist. Ron tightened their embrace and felt Hermione sigh against him. After a few seconds, Ron suddenly remembered where they were and that anybody could walk by and see them, so he reluctantly pulled away.
Hermione was gazing into his eyes with such tenderness that Ron couldn’t help but tuck a stray hair behind her ear as he quietly stated, “I look out for you; you look out for me. We both look out for Harry. That’s how it works right?”
Nodding her head slightly, Hermione added, “We are always strongest together. Harry needs both of us; and truth be told, I think we need each other too.”
He wasn’t sure if it was their words, their close proximity to each other, the desperate times, or something else all together, but something caused Ron to have an urge to lean in and…
The loud bustle of students walking through the halls on their way to class interrupted Ron’s thoughts, and when he looked back at Hermione he knew the moment was gone. With a lopsided smile, he slowly walked away from Hermione towards class while proclaiming, “I’ll let Harry know that we have officially declared a truce.”
Hermione shouted after him, “Don’t forget…”
Ron interrupted, “I know, you don’t think he should take his anger out on us either. I won’t forget.”
“I don’t think... Ronald Weasley if you make this sound like it’s only coming from me, when I know that you feel the same—”
”Relax, Hermione,” Ron interrupted. “The message comes from the both of us. He’ll know that. Besides, you shouldn’t yell at me. We’re under a truce, remember?”
Ron grinned as he watched Hermione huff away. She was just too easy and fun to rile up sometimes.