Disclaimer: JKR owns the people you know. The
poetry belongs to the...well, hopefully the poet is listed, if not...I
guess there'll be a section at the end.
Thanks: To HPGuy for beta. And Chelle, who listened
to me rant and did bits-and-bobs beta. Thank you a thousand
Dedication: To Catherine's husband's mother. ^.^
Siriusly. While writing 'One Week' I had to keep reminding myself
'Bryon' and not 'Byron' and that meant I was juggling the letters
around in my head....So thank you Mrs. Bryon's Mom! Thanks also
to Catherine...for letting me use her name and Bryon's, they're not
in this...but what the heck, why not?
"Summer holiday is a worrisome business, isn't
it, Pig?" Hermione mused aloud. Ron's owl hooted gleefully
and hopped into her Potion ingredients. Hermione ignored him
with ease and studied her letter from Ginny with a worried frown.
"Harry, N.E.W.T.s, Voldemort," Pig trilled and dove into
her mercifully empty cauldron. "Sorry, You-Know-Who, Ron
and all the other Weasleys, N.E.W.T.s, the Order, S.P.E.W, Death
Eaters, Ron and Harry," she sighed. "Now is
not the time for Ron to crack."
Hermione settled into the plush chair in her room to
re-read Ginny's letter. Ron, Ginny had written, had become increasingly
moody. Worried, they all supposed, about Harry; the war was
heating up and Voldemort couldn't seem to let poor Harry have a moment
of peace at all. Four attacks had been made south of Little
Whinging, all spaced neatly a week apart, all quite close to
Harry's Aunt and Uncle's house. The last time it had happened,
last summer, Hermione had been certain that Voldemort was trying to
find a way past whatever ancient magic protected Harry; she'd considered
writing Dumbledore about her suspicions. She'd written
Ron about it first and then worried until the day Ron's tersely worded
letter arrived, 'Harry's window faces South'. Voldemort
couldn't touch Harry at the Dursleys', not physically, and so he had
been, and was continuing, to strike out at Harry emotionally. Still,
Harry would be at the Burrow by the end of summer and Voldemort wouldn't
dare try anything while Harry was under the care of several adult
wizards, one of whom had Ministry connections.
"Not that this is any comfort to you, is it, Ron?"
Hermione sighed to her empty room. "Not this year, at any
rate." According to Ginny, Ron was spending the majority
of his days down in Ottery St. Catchpole doing Merlin only knew what.
He had a muggle job, actually, but it was only a morning paper route
and it was mostly to keep an eye on the Muggle news for Professor
Dumbledore and the Order. Not, she reminded herself, that Ron
told her these things. She'd had more letters from Ginny than
It was enough to worry her; she and Ron usually wore
Pig out completely during the summers. "Mum?" she
moved to her writing supplies and patted Pig absently on the head
as she passed him. He nearly fainted in joy and Hermione smiled.
She'd write Ginny and ask if it would be possible for her to visit
during Harry's stay; somebody needed to keep an open eye and a level
"Yes, love?" her mother's head poking around
the door coincided with the arrival of another owl at Hermione's window.
"Isn't it late for the post?"
"Yes," she would have been worried about it
if it weren't for the small clutch of sweet alyssum that accompanied
the letter; rarely, in her experience, did bad news arrive with flowers.
Still, she opened it with a bit of trepidation, not sure what she
could expect to find. A current of shock ran through her as
she quickly scanned the page. She certainly hadn't expected
what she found; vivid red ink formed the neatly curved words of the
first love letter she'd ever received.
There be none of Beauty's daughters
with a magic like thee;
and music on the waters
is thy sweet voice to me.
So the spirit bows before thee,
to listen and adore thee;
with a full but soft emotion,
like the swell of Summer's ocean.
~Stanzas for Music
She read the words quietly aloud without really thinking
about it, wanting to hear them. "Lord Byron..." she
sighed softly. It was lovely; simple and lovely.
"Hermione, love?" She'd rather forgotten that
her mother was in the room with her. "The post?"
She folded the letter, her first anonymous love letter,
and placed it primly beside the letter from Ginny. "It's
a love letter, I think," she said, trying to keep her voice casual
despite the riot of emotions she felt.
"Well now!" Her mother smiled brightly and
fanned at herself with one hand.
"It's not like that, Mum," Hermione laughed.
"It's not signed. It's rather nice that somebody thought
of it, really, but I don't really have time for a...boy...right now.
The N.E.W.Ts are coming up and I'm going to be busy enough with Harry
and Ron and everything else. It's sweet and I do wish he'd signed
it so that I could tell him straight off that I'm not interested but
I guess he'll figure it out eventually," she finished in a rush.
She didn't want to talk about it.
"Hermione," her mother began.
"And I do hope things aren't awkward whenever
he sees me, whoever he is," she said softly and picked up the
note, fingering the edges. "I'd hate if it were Neville and he
was terribly hurt by my not wanting...anything. I don't recognize
the handwriting and I'd know if it were Neville's, but still..."
"Hermione," her mother tried again.
"I suppose I ought to throw it away; rubbish is
all it is, really, since I'm not interested," she hesitated,
hand and letter poised over the bin, before dropping the bit of poetry
in to the trash. "It's not as if I even know him, really,
as nobody I really know at school really knows anything about Muggles
and especially not Muggle poetry and I don't want to encourage
him, whoever he is, by keeping it, really." She smiled
brightly, grabbing a fresh sheet of parchment and a quill though she
didn't quite know what she was going to do with them. "Did
you need something, Mum?"
Her mother tilted her head and looked at her.
"Nothing, dear," she said after a moment. "The
Weasleys' other owl just fell out side your window. Would you
like me to bring him in?"
"Oh, Errol!" Hermione winced. "Please
do. I've got Restorative Powder in my school trunk. I'll
meet you in the kitchen; if Errol isn't dead we can try to make him
feel a bit better." Her mother left with a quick nod and
one last, speculative look. Hermione quickly found the vial
of bluish powder in her trunk and was reaching for her scales on the
desk when she stopped and looked at her trash bin. The scarlet
ink was very, very visible. "It's foolish, right Pig?"
she said as Pig hooted happily and fluttered over to land on her arm.
He hooted again and peered into the trash with her. "It's
not something a person keeps, is it? Some unsigned note from
some boy that I don't even know?" Pig, either in agreement
or disagreement, dove into the rubbish. "Honestly, that's
no answer," she laughed, pulling the tiny owl out again.
"Hermione, love, it's post from Ron," her
mother's voice echoed up the staircase and Hermione hurriedly tucked
Pig onto the make-shift perch formed by her cauldron handle and grabbed
up her scales and measuring spoons and adding a blossom from the alyssum
for it's medicinal properties. "He wants to know if you'd
like to stay over when Harry comes to stay."
Quickly, not daring to think about what she was doing,
Hermione plucked the love letter from the bin and tucked it into her
Potions book. "I meant to ask about that earlier, Mum,"
she called down, tucking her supplies together and moving for the
door. She very carefully didn't look back at her desk or her
books as she left her room.
* * *
"I know I'm better at Quidditch than this,"
Hermione muttered. "All right, Ginny, I think I'm ready
now; I just needed to get used to the broom is all. I haven't
flown all summer." She waved to Ginny and Harry as they
glided together at the other end of the paddock. They waved
absently back, heads bent together discussing strategy, Hermione thought.
She didn't mind; it gave her a moment to peer through the trees, looking
for Ron. Despite Harry's presence and her own, Hermione noted,
Ron still spent a good portion of the week in the nearby village and
he would answer all questions about it with only the words 'nothing'
or 'nothing much'. She was worried about him, truth be told.
Percy, Fred, and George no longer lived at home and the place seemed
oddly empty without the constant noise of more people than should
have logically fit. The out-of-place tranquility seemed to underscore
Ron's odd behavior. "Ron, what on earth is wrong?"
she whispered, trying to see past the leaves to the road beyond the
"Hermione, mind yourself!" Harry's warning
came a bit late; the impromptu Quaffle bounced off of her arm and
into the trees. Harry stopped and hovered, looking from the
tress to Hermione. "You're supposed to catch it,"
Ginny landed. "I'll fetch it. It's
a good thing we're using a beach ball; easier to see. Honestly,
the things Dad has taken to enchanting," she grinned quickly
up before disappearing into the wood.
"Want me to go over Chaser-basics again?"
Harry asked, moving to her side.
Hermione shook her head, catching a glimpse of coppery-red
from the direction of the village. "No, thank you, Harry.
I'm done in; do you mind me leaving the game?" She landed without
waiting for an answer and pretended that she didn't hear the quiet
chorus of 'thank god' as she stashed George's old broom by the back
"Hermione!" Ron waved to her when she stepped
up to the gate. He was farther down the lane than she'd thought he
was, in fact, if it weren't for his hair she probably wouldn't have
seen him. Funny that he could see her; had he been watching
for her? She stilled the flutter in her heart with the
ease of long practice; she'd learned in her fourth year how to ignore
it but never how to entirely prevent it. "Come to walk with us,
have you?" A lopsided smile tilted his mouth; that smile didn't
help her heart much but it was sweetly familiar and very dear.
"No," she smiled easily and reminded her heart
about friendship; she also walked out to meet him instead of waiting
at the gate, as she'd planned.
"Thrown out of Quidditch, then?" he asked,
nudging her shoulder with his own. He stayed comfortable against
her as they fell into step.
She snorted, "Not hardly. I wanted
to talk to you, actually."
Ron held up both hands. "I did the History of Magic
essay! Harry can vouch for me; I did it even though we all know
that Professor Binns will never read it."
"Well, good," she smiled. "But
that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about. It's something
Ron shot her an inscrutable look as they bypassed the
front door of the house, wandering into the shade of the trees by
the pond. "Oh?"
"Yes," she decided to broach the subject delicately.
"Ron, what's going on?"
He looked at her again, eyes unreadable, and settled
to sit in a patch of sunlight. "How do you mean?"
"Well, lately you've been..." she trailed
"I've what?" She didn't look at his face and
instead watched him twirl a bit of clover between his fingers.
"I've noticed that...oh, blast!" Hermione
muttered as an owl fluttered down between them. She didn't need
it to peck her hand to know the letter was for her; the bright red
ink and the clutch of alyssum gave it away.
Ron watched her with an undisguised curiosity as she
untied the letter. "What's this?" He smiled but Hermione
couldn't look at his face.
"Nothing," she answered hurriedly, tucking
the note away. "Just a bit of...of...rubbish, I suppose."
His eyes closed off and Hermione swore to herself she
wouldn't throttle him if the word 'Vicky' slipped past his lips.
"Nothing, eh? All right."
"It's nothing, yes. I'll deal with it later.
I wanted to talk to you about...well, you haven't been home very much
lately, spending all your time in town and we're all..."
He cut her off. "It's nothing, Hermione.
It's as 'nothing' as your letter."
"Ron," she heard the frustration in her voice.
He could be so stubborn. "Honestly, if you must know..."
with fingers suddenly fumbling she drew the letter out of her pocket.
"Somebody, probably Neville, but maybe not, somebody sent me
a...a letter. He didn't sign it and I don't have time for; well,
read it." She handed him the letter and watched his ears
flush red as he opened it. He handed it to her wordlessly after
a glance at the contents. She couldn't help reading it for herself,
even if it were nothing at all.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
so soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
the smiles that win, the tints that glow,
but tell of days in goodness spent,
a mind at peace with all below,
a heart whose love is innocent!
~She walks in Beauty
"That's not Wizard poetry." Ron's voice
broke into her second reading. He was staring out at the pond,
watching the frogs jump.
"No. No, it's Muggle," she couldn't
think of anything else to say.
Ron nodded. "Yeah. That's something...that
some bloke likes you enough to say those things."
Quite possibly this was, Hermione thought, the last
sort of conversation she'd ever expected to have with Ron. "Oh,
I'm flattered," she winced at the bright, flustered tone of her
voice and wondered if Ron could hear it. "But I'm not interested
in him, whoever he is. I mean, I don't even know him
and so I couldn't really..."
"Thought you said it was Neville," Ron shrugged.
"You know Neville well enough. He's a good sort."
Hermione wondered if she were as red as the Weasley
family hair or if it merely felt that way. "Oh, but I'd
recognize Neville's handwriting, I'm sure. I don't recognize
this at all and so I probably don't know him well and, well, if I
don't know him then I wouldn't want to..." she shrugged and hoped
she wouldn't have to say 'date' in front of Ron. "Going
'round with somebody I don't know would be the worst sort of awkward."
She could have bitten her tongue.
"There's probably worse," Ron muttered softly.
"I'm going to play Quidditch, since you're not." He
stood with a stretch and looked down at her; he was very tall, she
thought, and very handsome looking with the sun making him a silhouette.
"You'd best take care of that owl; there are pellets in the kitchen."
She nodded, "All right." It was only
later, sitting in Ginny's window and watching Ron and Harry laughing
and diving, that she realized that she and Ron had barely had a chance
to talk about what was driving him as of late. She glanced at
the newest letter, tucked inside of her History of Magic text, and
wondered if she should throw it out for interrupting; she pondered
it until the game outside ended before deciding it would make an excellent
reminder to try another talk with Ron about what was bothering him.
* * *
"Ready, Percy?" Bill was holding his wand
over the mashed potatoes.
A surprise dinner with the Weasley family was certainly
full of surprises. "What are you doing?" Hermione
asked. A quiet week had passed and now that she'd finally become
used to a quiet Burrow, the entire family had turned out to have a
last meal together before term started.
"They're breaking our hearts with their cruel lack
of faith in us," George said aggrievedly.
The Burrow was back to normal; crowded, loud, and fun,
she had to admit. It was also a bit of a learning experience.
"You two deserve it," she patted him on the arm in a maternal
"Ready?" Charlie aimed his wand at the twins.
Percy, holding his own wand, shrugged. "Are
we ever? Aperio!" he sighed, touching the lip of
the dish with the tip of his wand. The potatoes turned a lovely
reddish-black and Hermione felt herself arch one eyebrow.
It was Bill's turn to sigh. "Abrogare."
The potatoes went back to being a harmless, fluffy white. "Onto
the chicken, Percy?"
"Choking cherries?" Charlie folded his
arms and looked to George to Fred and to George again. "What,
are we all still two years old?"
"We wouldn't want Ickle Ronnie to die before
he finishes out his last year, would we?" Fred offered with a
Charlie shook his head. "Who in the world
would choke on mashed potatoes? Mum would have had you scrubbing
for hours without magic. Try something harder to find, easier
to clean, and far away from my dinner."
"Yes, Mum," George grinned. "Hermione,
want a custard?"
She shook her head with a smile, "I'm not nearly
stupid enough, thanks."
"Nobody is that stupid," Ron added, coming
to the table with a bowl of raspberries. "This lot won't
need a go-over; Ginny and Harry just picked them." He tilted
his head towards the door; Harry and Ginny were leaning together in
a gentle kiss.
"Ohhh!" Bill, Charlie, and the twins
immediately plastered themselves against the window, placing squeaky,
smacking kisses against the glass. Hermione rolled her eyes
while Ron laughed and Percy continued to de-hex the food.
Harry, flushed and grinning, leaned into the door, a
firm hold still on Ginny. "Jealous that I have a girlfriend
or is dinner ready?" he asked archly.
"They're jealous, I'd wager, but dinner is also
ready," Molly Weasley said, shooing her laughing sons into their
"Nobody in his right mind would be jealous of some
bloke kissing his sister, Mum," Charlie tousled Ginny's hair
as they came to the table. "Especially not this
sister." Ginny, for her part, swatted at him and dodged
behind Harry as Bill reached out to tickle her.
Hermione ended up sitting next to Ron, who kicked her
ankle and nodded towards Harry and Ginny, who were still holding hands.
He grinned and raised his eyebrows meaningfully. "Who would
have thought of that back in second year, eh?" he said
softly, leaning close to her.
Maybe somebody who'd fallen for a certain red-head destined
never to come around, she thought. "I don't know,"
she murmured airily, trying not to be overheard, "I've always
considered it a possibility."
"Really?" Ron's eyebrows went up in
surprise. "I thought...because they were friends, see."
He gestured vaguely, leaning closer to her. Hermione glanced quickly
around the table but nobody seemed to notice them.
She leaned a bit closer to Ron as Harry and Ginny were
almost directly across the table from her. "That was probably
the biggest factor in their relationship, Ron. Once they became
friends it was a short jump to becoming more, don't you think?"
"So, you reckon being friends is a good way to
start something?" He seemed so incredulous, so stunned
by the idea. It stung, and Hermione sat back in her seat as
far away from Ron as she could get.
"It's certainly more stable than unsigned love
notes," she heard herself snap. Loudly. She looked
tentatively at the Weasleys and discovered that she was, indeed, the
center of attention. Harry's eyes tracked from her face to Ron's
and back again. Hermione felt her face burn. "For
example," she quickly. "Just...as an example.
An example of...of," she tried to force logical thought through
"Post," Ron spoke up beside her.
He was quick on his feet, she thought, seizing his idea.
"Exactly! An example of reliability of postal service!
Without a name..."
Ron cut her off. "No, I mean, there's post.
Right now." Hermione followed his eyes to the window where a
very handsome owl sat patiently on the sill, with a clutch of flowers
in its talons and a red inked letter under it's wing.
As Hermione stared at the owl as it bobbed in place
before fluttering to land daintily in front of her plate; it extended
the flowers without a sound. Ginny sighed, "Isn't that
Harry shrugged. "I guess it's really well
trained," he offered, trading looks with Hermione. Occasionally
the differences in background were made crystal clear.
Bill let out a low whistle. "Somebody sure
is serious, Hermione," he said. "That's a sooty owl;
they're hard to keep because they're not native to anyplace but Australia.
They don't fly cheap."
"And they're mostly for special occasions; like
when Mum and Dad announced their engagement." Charlie added,
looking to his parents for confirmation.
"Let's have a look at lover-boy's contents, shall
we?" Fred and George were suddenly leaning over Hermione's shoulders,
plucking at the letter. "How much of a nancy boy is he?
He's probably talking bollocks about undying love. C'mon, give
us a look."
"Certainly not," she clutched the letter to
"Let her alone," Ginny piped up from across
the table. "It's personal."
"Thought it was rubbish," Ron said quietly.
"Nothing but Muggle poetry and some boy you don't know and don't
Hermione spoke before thinking, "I think it's very
sweet, I'll have you know."
Every eye in the room swung from Hermione to Ron.
"How'd you know what's in it?" Harry asked at the same time
the twins pinched Ron's cheeks.
"Aw, our ickle baby has grown up!"
"It wasn't Ron!" Hermione protested.
She was summarily ignored.
Fred and George each threw an arm around Ron's shoulders
and smiled sweetly at Hermione. "Isn't he the cutest thing?"
"Love letters, cor, Ron, that's smooth," Bill
Hermione sighed. "It's not from Ron."
Ginny looked ready to burst. "But he knows
what's in the letter!"
"He's been gone a lot," Harry said slowly,
eyes still moving between Hermione and Ron. "An awful lot."
Ron shrugged off the twins with ease. "Well, there
you all are, then. I'm spending my days in the Muggle library
reading Muggle poetry so I can send it on to Hermione like some besotted
pillock. Quite." He took a bite of chicken and looked
utterly content to say no more.
"Honestly," Hermione gritted her teeth.
"It. Is. Not. From. Ron." Although she wouldn't
have minded if it were, she simply couldn't let everybody go around
misinformed. "Ron was there when the last letter came.
That's how he knows what's in it; the letters are always the
same style. Honestly," she muttered again, "thinking
it was Ron."
Beside her, Ron shrugged. "Well, it could
be me. If I were spending my days in the library, had money
to spend, and access to a Wizard Post Office."
"Exactly," Hermione agreed, tucking the letter
away. "Mrs. Weasley, may I be excused?"
Mrs. Weasley smiled, a knowing smile even if she didn't
really know. "Of course you may, dear."
She'd barely made it into the family room when Ginny
asked, "Mum, may I be excused as well?"
"Certainly not," Mrs. Weasley's voice was
the pleasantly firm 'mum' voice that was used to set law into stone.
"Mum," came a chorus of male voices.
"Aww, Mum, come on."
"You boys are certainly interested in love notes
today, aren't you? Fine then, Hermione Granger is not the only
woman in this house to have received a love letter. Back in
my seventh year your father sent me a rather passionate..."
Hermione grinned and slipped up the stairs to Ginny's
room. The smile fell away, however, as she opened the letter.
Who was he?
Though the night was made for loving,
and the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon
~So we'll go no more a roving
Who in the world was sending her lovely poetry and why
in the world wasn't it somebody she wanted to send her poetry?
This one, she decided, was destined for the rubbish bin if for no
other reason than the fact that it had arrived in front of every Weasley
"Hermione?" Ron's quiet voice and a soft knock
at the door stopped her before she'd taken so much as a step.
"Can I come in?" he asked, pushing the door open.
Something in her face must have revealed her upset because Ron tilted
her a lopsided grin. "That bad, was it? What, did
he proposition you?"
She laughed at that. "No, actually I think
it's more of a 'see you at Hogwarts' sort of thing," she offered
him the letter, bemused when he shook his head; she wouldn't have
thought him capable of passing up the chance to tease her a bit about
"But you're upset," he said. "All pink
in the cheeks."
Hermione shook her head. "I'm not upset,"
she said. "It's more or less the idea of this in
front of your entire family..." she trailed off, feeling heat
lick into her cheeks. "And everybody was asking about it
"Git probably didn't think that everybody was going
to be here," Ron said. "But if it makes you feel any
better, Mum is still talking about herself and Dad and their 'exploits'."
Ron grinned. "She used that word and everything;
I tell you, everybody is regretting asking after that letter now.
Exploits, my Mum and Dad," he shook his head. "Moving
onto something that doesn't bring to mind scary images, I brought
you these to cheer you up," he offered her a napkin filled with
the raspberries Harry and Ginny had picked earlier. "They're
a bit squidgey, but since you didn't eat any dinner you're not allowed
Hermione took them and felt her heart flutter.
"That's nice of you, Ron, thank you." He shrugged,
ears turning pink at the tips and Hermione heard her mouth continue
without her brain. "It was very sweet of you to say the
things you did."
Ron's eyes snapped up to meet hers. "What
things I said?" he asked quietly.
"Downstairs, when you took the attention to yourself,"
Hermione said softly. "That was very sweet of you, to take
the attention off of me and the letter."
"Oh. Well, they're my family and that git
should have thought about it before he sent that letter."
Ron ducked his head.
Hermione laid a hand on his arm. "Still,
it was very nice of you," her voice had become even quieter and
she had the insane urge to reach up and kiss his cheek. If she
could even reach it. Ron stood very still and she thought that
if he'd stay that way, she might be able to use his arm for balance
and reach his cheek just fine. "Really, it was."
"What was? That letter?" Ginny
whirled into the room. "When did they start? Who
are they from? What do they say?" She frowned.
"Get out, Ron, this is girl's business."
Ron grinned at Ginny and Hermione's hand slipped off
of his arm as he stepped back. "That's a fine way to talk
to the author of those notes," he chided.
Ginny rolled her eyes as Ron left. "Boys.
Hmph. And you wanted brothers, didn't you?" She patted
her bed firmly, "Now sit, tell me about these letters.
How many have you got so far? Do you honestly not know
who they're from or is that something you said to keep my brothers
"Yes, three, yes and no," Hermione answered.
"Hermione, that's not what I meant!" Ginny
She shrugged and popped a berry into her mouth, "Can't
say I didn't answer you." She grinned and ducked Ginny's
pillow. "Here, have a look if you'd like; I'm only going
to throw it out anyway," Hermione offered her the letter.
"Really?" Ginny pounced on it with shriek,
eyes zipping over the page. Hermione continued to eat and wait
for her to finish. "You're going to throw this out? But
it's so romantic!" Ginny hugged the letter briefly before handing
it back. "I wish Harry would think of something like that,"
"Maybe he'll get the idea," Hermione shrugged
and crossed to her side of the room and the rubbish bin. "It's
probably a lot more 'romantic' to get love letters from somebody you
know than it is to get them from some stranger who won't put his name
down." She slid the newest letter into her History of Magic
text when Ginny wasn't looking. She'd stained it with raspberry
juice as she'd taken it back from Ginny; Ron had been thoughtfully
sweet to bring her something and she wanted to remember that.
* * *
"Hermione? I know that study group isn't
until Thursday, but do you think you could help me with Arithmancy?
Professor Vector assigned us a paper on how Arithmancy is different
from, and more reliable than, other forms of divinatory magic."
The first few days at Hogwarts were always thrilling,
Hermione thought as Colin Creevey leaned across the breakfast table
earnestly. It wasn't just the excitement of being able to do
magic again, it was more; it was seeing that she'd remembered everything
she'd learned in the last year, it was the smell of fresh parchment
and fresh ink, it was the teachers working to enrich their minds.
"She's hacked off at Professor Trelawney again, according to
Ginny, and you've had Divination and Arithmancy both."
Colin looked as though his life were hanging in the balance and Hermione
made a mental note to check his Arithmancy scores from the previous
year before the start of the next study session.
"All right, Colin, but it'll have to wait until
after dinner," she sighed. "Today's the busiest day
on my schedule." That was another good thing about Hogwarts.
She was busy and so, apparently, was the author of those summer notes.
There had been no new letters after the unfortunate arrival at the
Weasleys and since over a week had gone by Hermione figured that,
whoever the boy was, he'd given up.
"Who has a busy day?" Ron flung himself into
the seat next to her and grinned. "We haven't even had
any homework yet!"
"It's only been a week, Ron, and we do have..."
"N.E.W.T.s, I know, you've only said about a thousand
times," he beamed. "The entire wizarding world knows
that our exams are only ten months away."
Parvati Patil shot Ron an evil look as she sat down.
"Must you bring them up? I thought Hermione and
Padma were bad about it, but you?"
"You what?" Seamus, Dean, and Harry joined
"Ron is talking about the N.E.W.T.s," Neville
explained from his seat.
"Hermione was talking about N.E.W.Ts," Colin
corrected helpfully. "And study group."
Lavender rolled her eyes. "Honestly, is that
all you're about? Homework? Studying?"
"Are we changing study group?" Kevin Whitby,
one of the Hufflepuff's that Hermione tutored, had joined the throng.
"N.E.W.Ts study group or regular study group?"
Ackerley of Ravenclaw had apparently overheard too. "I
can't make it if it's not on Thursday."
expansively, "It's all Ron's fault that we can't have breakfast
without a crowd and the mention of exams and homework."
his head. "I thought it was Hermione's idea," he said.
was Hermione's idea? Study group? That was a really good
idea," Ginny dropped down next to Harry.
should have an idea about boys," Lavender and Parvati chorused.
all I said was that today was my busy day," Hermione muttered,
sharing a commiserating look with Ron. "And the last
thing I need is ideas about boys," she addressed the last
to her dorm-mates specifically and just exactly in time for an unnoticed
owl to land on her plate with a very familiar bundle of flowers.
up before anybody had done more than participate in a collective intake
of breath. "They're from me." Breathe, Hermione
reminded herself, large groups tend to display numerous parallelisms
to the same stimulus; she focused on that thought as every one at
the table turned to Ron in an eerie replay of dinner-at-the-Weasleys.
Ron looked at her, then everybody else and lifted his hands.
"Really. I sent it."
right," Hermione said brightly as she took the letter and flowers.
Of course, she knew they weren't really from Ron; the red ink gave
it away entirely. "Because of that fight we had."
Ron's brow furled and she kicked him under the table. "About
homework and studying, remember? I'm sure you all remember our
little row; we were so loud. What a thoughtful apology, Ron."
She smiled innocently at everybody and hoped for the best.
fight?" Neville was frowning thoughtfully. "Neither
of you were in the common room last night."
fight they had while they were walking out by the Quidditch Pitch,"
Ginny announced brightly.
At the same
time Harry chimed in with, "They were fighting in the library,
sighed loudly as everybody in the Great Hall, or so it seemed, hummed
in speculation. "It's just a bit of poetry, honestly!
Ron and I had a debate going on about the poet Lord Byron. I
bet Ron that he could find a passage of his works in the Hogwarts
library despite the fact that he's a Muggle poet." She
opened the letter with a gusty breath. "I told him he'd
have to send me flowers if he found one. You see?"
she asked as she read it aloud.
grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare."
"That's not Byron, that's Shakespeare," Kevin
said after a moment of silence. "My Dad's an actor in London;
his troupe did a Shakespeare festival the summer before last. I had
to be stage hand; I know this stuff."
Ron stood abruptly and slung both his and Hermione's
bag over his shoulder. "Look, I sent the letter and the
flowers. I spent all night in the library looking at poems and
I snuck down to Greenhouse One this morning before heading to the
Owlery just so that Hermione could have a love letter over breakfast
on the day she has the most classes. All right?"
He strode off without another word and Hermione could only shrug before
following him and reclaiming her bag in the entrance hall.
"I don't think they believed you, Ron," she
told him as they headed for Hagrid's hut and their Care of Magical
Ron shook his head and muttered, "I don't know
"Possibly because it's you and it's me," she
said by way of answer. She waited until he wasn't looking to
slip the note into her Runes dictionary; he'd claimed to have sent
it and, even though he really hadn't, Hermione wanted to remember
that he'd said he had.
* * *
"Oh for heaven's sake," Hermione stared
at the owl sitting on her plate. "He's not going to stop,
is he? It's been months now!"
Parvati barely glanced up from her Divination charts.
"No, he's not. Just send him a note saying you'll meet
"Or that he should find a way to prove his love
by dying nobly," Lavender added.
"And get him to stop," Parvati finished.
"If another owl interrupts study group or lands on my bed again,
Hermione, I swear I'll hunt him down for you."
Hermione rolled her eyes, "The only reason
the owl ever came into the dorm was because you said getting those
letters at breakfast was making you 'positively ill'."
She fed the owl, one of the school's, a bit of toast and opened her
Ah! midst that proud and mirthful company
Send'st thou no wondering thought to love and me?
~Sonnet VI by Caroline Norton
Now for the long years when I could not love you,
I bring in recompense this gift of yearning--
~In Recompense by Eda Lou Walton
Confess you will be kind to me.
Give hopes of bliss or dig my grave:
More love or more disdain I crave.
~Against Indifference by Charles Webbe
"Looks like I'm getting desperate, Hermione,"
Ron murmured from behind her.
Parvati fixed him with an stare, "Ha, ha. We
all know they're not from you, Ron."
"How so?" Ron challenged with a wink at Hermione.
She smiled back at him; baiting her dorm-mates was fun, in a way.
"Because you're you," Ginny grinned at her
brother from across the table. "And you just aren't the
sort to send love letters to a girl."
Around the table, heads nodded. Ron threw up his
hands with a noisy breath. "That last note was delivered by my
owl," he reminded everybody.
"So?" Dean riffled through his notes, making
additional notes in his margins. "You left him in the Owlery
where anybody could have got to him."
"He's my owl; he's only supposed to make deliveries
for me unless I tell him otherwise."
"Pig'll do whatever anybody asks him as long as
you give him an owl treat and pat him on the head," Harry told
Hermione listened without saying anything. Privately
she thought that Ron would be the sweet sort who would think
of sending love letters and it was her greatest unhappiness that he
would never think of her when he thought of girls worth sending
poems to. "Harry's right, you know," she said, just
because seeing Pig with that red inked letter had made her heart stutter
foolishly even though she'd known he'd been left in the Owlery with
the school owls.
Ron closed his eyes in defeat, "So nobody believes
I'm sending them."
"I've claimed to have written every single letter,"
Ron sighed, eyes still closed.
"Not the first two," Hermione corrected him,
pleased to see that they were being ignored in favor of homework.
With a snort, Ron cracked one eye open to look at her,
"Hermione, if I'm going to say I wrote the last thirteen letters
then of course I'm going to say I wrote the first two."
"Point taken," she agreed, tilting her head
slightly to smile at him.
Ron turned to look her fully in the face, "Do you
believe I sent them?" The look he wore made her pulse trip.
"Certainly not," she told him, taking a determined
drink of her pumpkin juice. "But since you brought yourself
into this, I have a question for you. If you were writing me
"Which I am," Ron said.
"And I told you to stop," she continued, ignoring
him, "Stop and leave me alone, would you?
He eyed her thoughtfully. "That depends. Would
you mean it?"
Not if it were you she wanted to say, but didn't.
Instead she said, "Well, you're my friend and I really
wouldn't want you to go away. But I don't even know this
boy so, yes. I'd mean it. "
Ron shrugged. "I guess if you told me to
stop, and I knew you meant it, I'd listen. But if I knew you
didn't mean it, and I really fancied you, then I wouldn't listen at
all. In fact, I'd just try harder."
"But he wouldn't know I didn't," Hermione
said, satisfied. "So he will, right?"
Ron shrugged again. "If he didn't know
better, he would."
"Well, he won't," she said firmly. Her
heart was soft, however, as she tucked the letter into her bag.
Three months; it was nice of Ron to still be trying to pass the notes
off as his. It certainly had cooled speculation on the real
author and Hermione appreciated that. She told herself that
one day, today even, she would use those bits of parchment for scratch
paper in class...but not the ones that reminded her of Ron.
"Now I just have to find a way to get a message to him."
* * *
"I prize thy love more than whole Mines
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence.
~Anne Bradstreet--To my Dear and Loving Husband
Ron was reading in a rich voice that would have been
more at home on a stage than echoing down the hall to the portrait
of the Fat Lady. He was also, barely, in Hermione's opinion,
holding back a laugh.
"Hold Pig still and stop snickering, Ron,"
Hermione tossed the new letter onto the table in front of the Gryffindor
common room fire. "It'll only take me a moment to write
Ron held the wildly hooting owl as she'd requested but
he didn't stop looking amused. "You're going to have to
work hard to convince me that you want me to stop after a letter like
this one, Hermione."
She glared crossly. "Don't start," she told
him as she hastily picked up somebody's quill and took the poem from
Ron, flipping it over to pen her own note on the backside. "I'm
just glad that he's used Pig again so I can tell him that I'm not
interested and I want to be left, in peace, with my friends."
"You don't sound like you mean it," Ron chuckled
as he helped her tie her reply to his owl's leg.
She ignored him. "Take this to the person
who gave you the last letter," she told Pig, grabbing his beak
and staring straight into his black, beady eyes. "Take
this directly to that boy, Pigwidgeon." She released his
beak and gestured for Ron to send him on his way.
Ron released his owl with a smile that quickly became
a full-blown grin as Pig, instead of flying off, hopped along his
arm to twitter madly in his ear. "Well then!" he said
brightly. "Let's see what this says, shall we?"
Hermione snatched Pig and marched to the Tower windows.
"You," she told the bird in her hands, "have a job
to do. You can love Ron later."
"He's just going to keep coming back to me,"
Ron said as she tossed Pig out the window. "You see?"
he nodded as the tiny owl fluttered back into the room to nuzzle against
"No wonder," she muttered, burying her face
in her hands, "no wonder he used Pig. He's the stupidest
owl in the entire country."
Ron laughed, and Hermione glanced up to see him stroking
his owl's feathers. "You," he told her, "were
the one going on about how clever he was to come and get Harry's birthday
present from you."
"Apparently I was sadly mistaken," she moaned.
"Now what I am supposed to do?" she wondered as she sank
into an armchair.
It was a rhetorical question and she was surprised when
Ron hunkered down in front of her, eyes serious. "Look,
Hermione, I'll take Pig up to the Owlery and see about making sure
the right bloke reads your letter. Will you be all right?"
"Sure," she answered, a smile tugging at her
mouth. "I'll sit here and bemoan my fate and throw things...just
like I always do."
"I'm supposed to be the one saying nonsense,"
he patted her knee with a smile, the serious look gone. "Haul
out your Transfiguration notes; I've a question about the Animagus
section we read the other day."
"Why don't you just ask Snuffles about anything
you don't understand?"
Ron grinned "Why ask him when you're right
"You think you're so clever!" she laughed
as he slipped out. "Right here indeed," she smiled.
How strange that Ron could make her run the gamut from anger to frustration
to laughter in just a few short minutes, she thought with a shake
of her head as she took her notes out of her bag. Of their
own volition, her fingers snagged her History of Magic book and the
summer letter with the raspberry stains. Fingering the
stains, Hermione thought again that he would be the type to send love
notes, when it mattered.
* * *
"Post this morning, Hermione?" Ron was flipping
through several massive tomes regarding cross-species transfiguration.
She glared at him as she set her bag under her seat
and reached for the books on the table. "Of course there
was. I have post every Tuesday; he's like clockwork."
"Too bad I have Quidditch practice so early on
Tuesday, hmm? I could help you keep watch for him otherwise."
"I'm glad you do. I don't want you there
when I confront him, Ron," she said matter-of-factly despite
the fact that her foot and Ron's were touching under the table.
It was nothing, just a touch of the toe of her shoe to his, but she'd
long ago given up on being reasonable about such little things.
Ron pursed his lips as he looked up at her, a secretive
glint in his eyes. "I'll be there when you talk to him."
"No, you will not be."
"I bet I will."
Hermione shook her head at his persistence. "The
only way you'd be in the room when I talk to whomever the letter-writer
is, is if I tell you about it beforehand. Which I won't."
"I'm going to be there, Hermione," Ron grinned.
He held up a hand to stop her when she opened her mouth to tell him
he had another think coming. "Wait...let's just agree to
wait and see."
"If you like," she tossed her hair back and
smiled. "But it won't matter because he won't be writing
to me again."
Ron's hand dropped as his brows rose. "He
Hermione nodded breezily, checking the book's index
for 'animagus transfigurations, selection of form'. "Mm-hm."
"I asked him to stop, didn't I? Explained
my reasons?" she flipped pages and ignored Ron's incredulous
"Wait a tic..." he placed one large hand over
hers, stopping her from turning the pages and forcing her to pay attention
to him. "You tell him to sod off, you have your mates and
that's all you want, thank you kindly, and you think he thinks you
meant it even though you told me that you didn't mean it?"
She resolutely brushed aside the warmth that curled
in her veins and glared at the boy causing it. "I told
you that I wouldn't have been serious if it were you.
He, for one thing, doesn't know I told you that and for another
thing, he's not you and so I most certainly did mean
it; that means that he'll be leaving off on those letters."
"He said that?" Ron asked.
Hermione decided not to notice that one finger was tapping
softly against the back of her hand. "Not as such, no."
It wasn't so much the tapping as it was the rubbing.
"I haven't read the letter yet, I had to go back to Gryffindor
for another bottle of ink." Every three or four taps that
finger would rest against her skin and stroke it, just a little.
"Hm." Ron's fingers stilled, resting warmly
over her wrist. "So...for all you know, he might not believe
you any more than I did."
Irritation made her pull her hand away. "I'm
sure he's agreed to stop sending me letters," she muttered as
she fished the envelope out of her bag. "You said he would
since he wouldn't know any better."
Tears in mine eyes and sorrow at my heart.
If this be love, to live a living death,
Then do I love and draw this weary breath.
~Samuel Daniel--If This Be Love, To Draw a Weary Breath
Hermione glared at the offending parchment and then
at Ron's expectant look. "It just proves that you don't
know everything, Ron."
"Said he'd love you anyway, am I right?"
"You said he'd stop." She told
him as she tucked it away into the back pages of the book.
"If he didn't know better, yes," Ron agreed
with a self-satisfied nod. "Are you going to leave it there?"
He gestured to the bit of parchment peeking out of the pages and Hermione
quickly tucked it out of sight.
"No; I'll be checking this one out for my essay."
Ron's eyes darkened. "Keeping it?" he
asked quietly. Hermione froze. Saying anything other than
'yes' would be a lie and saying anything that wasn't a lie would be
too much. Her face betrayed her, she thought, or else Ron knew
her to well because he sat back with a smile. "Have you
kept all of them, Hermione?"
"No," and she hadn't. She'd sent
the one back with Pigwidgeon.
Ron did know her too well. "You have."
He was entirely too pleased with himself.
"You're entirely too pleased with yourself, Ron
Weasley," she told him. "It so happens that
you honestly don't know everything."
Ron's grin threatened to crack his face. "And
that letter is your proof? You'll pull it out again some day
just to prove that I've been entirely wrong? You'll keep it
just to remind me of that?"
Well, yes. But she didn't tell him that.
"Really," she muttered. "Hurry yourself up or
we'll be late to Potions."
* * *
"I feel like I haven't seen you in ages, Ron,"
Hermione sighed as she pushed the door open to the Prefect's Study.
Ron shrugged and kicked the door shut behind him, "I
agree. You'd think that as Head Boy and Girl we'd run into each
other every now and again. Especially since it's term break."
Hermione groaned. "It's certainly not much
of a break. I thought the work load for the O.W.Ls was tiring
but it's nothing compared to this."
"Said the champion of studying," Ron remarked
as he began Banishing the tables to sit against the walls.
Hermione began to Summon the chairs into a rough circle
in preparation for their meeting with the Prefects. "It's
not all the studying, though that's enough; the campaign for Elvish
rights really took off this year. S.P.E.W. has more members
than ever and we're honestly close to a breakthrough, I think."
"I never had any doubts that you'd make changes,"
Ron told her as the last table flew to the center of the circle of
"Yes you did, you told me that nothing would ever
come of it because the elves like being enslaved," she reminded
Ron pocketed his wand and waved off her claim.
"Which is sort of true. They like to serve people
even if the conditions of servitude aren't what they should be,"
which was, Hermione thought, as close as he ever really came to admitting
he'd been wrong. "But, knowing you, I knew that
if you didn't give up then somebody, somewhere, was going to give
in to you."
Blushing slightly, she dipped her head. Why did
he have to say such sweet things to her? "Thank you."
Ron seated himself at the table and patted the chair
next to him. "Come sit by me," he entreated.
"There's a bit of time before the Prefects come and I really
haven't seen you in days. It's all that extra Quidditch,"
he said as she sat. "I never, ever, thought I'd regret
"But it's a wonderful idea, Ron," she told
him earnestly, and it was. "Having time-limited matches
between the reserve teams has really been boosting everybody's spirits."
Ron shrugged, ears a telltale pink. "Well,
it was really just to give our reserve teams an extra edge,"
"It's still a good idea," Hermione said, watching
his ears glow even more. "In fact, it gave me an idea of
"We're in for it now," Ron laughed.
Hermione laughed too. "Hush, it's a good
idea." She waited for Ron to gesture for her to continue,
content to listen to him laugh to himself. "Done?"
she asked archly, just because she could. "I thought that
we could train the Prefects in the duties of the Head Boy and Girl.
Give them a head start for the next year," she explained.
"We don't know who'll be stepping into our shoes,
Hermione," Ron pointed out.
"I know that; I've drawn up a schedule of teams..."
she handed him the schedule she'd made and tapped the flow chart.
"Each Prefect will be paired with a Prefect of the opposite sex
and from a different House. I've arranged for them all to have
two rotations, each with a different student and following us for
a different set of our duties."
Ron studied the chart thoughtfully and Hermione studied
him. His hair was getting too long in the front, it was hanging
into his eyes; somebody needed to push it out of his way. "It's
nice plan," he said, startling her into dropping her hand back
into her lap. "But there's one big problem."
"What's that?" she bristled. She'd planned
for every contingency.
"Hermione, I've just said that I've been missing
you for a solid week and now you want to have the Prefects barge in
on the only time I've had to see you lately."
"Oh." It was the best she could come
up with on such short notice. "Well, I..." It was
obvious he wasn't joking and Hermione had no clue how to respond to
what he'd said aside from the drying of her mouth and the sweating
of her palms. "I guess..."
"I guess somebody else has missed you too,"
he said seriously as an owl landed neatly on the table.
Hermione knew herself to be non-violent. It didn't
stop her from wanting to hex the owl into the next week. "Lovely,"
she muttered through clenched teeth. "I'd hoped he'd given
up...I haven't had a letter yet this week."
"Missed it?" Ron asked, opening the letter
"Not at all," she said, unrolling the parchment
and holding it between them.
Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her--
Next time, herself!--not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.
Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune--
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,--who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see,--with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!
~Robert Browning, Love in a Life
Ron read it aloud along with her. It was nice,
she thought, to hear their voices together that way. "I
reckon he feels exactly the same way I do. Looking for you and
not finding you, having a bit of fun with the chase," he said
when they finished the letter.
"That's not exactly comforting," she muttered,
"seeing as how he probably doesn't see me every
day unless he's stalking me" Hermione dropped her head
onto the table. She wished Ron really did feel the way the letter
"Well," Ron said, patting her back, "he's
in love. Besides, I have classes with you every day."
She laughed, lifting her head and elbowing him in the
side. "You're not still trying to maintain that you're
the author of these letters, are you?" She really wished
he'd stop. Or maybe never stop.
"I'm not going to say I didn't," he
said as the first of the Prefects slammed into the room, complaining
violently about Hufflepuff's chances against the Ravenclaw reserve
team. Hermione used the distraction to tuck the letter into
the binder with her meeting notes...it reminded her that Ron had missed
* * *
"Blast," Hermione cursed softly as the nib
of her quill broke. The dratted essay was due this morning and
she'd realized only now that she'd forgotten to annotate her footnotes.
True, it wasn't necessary to explain why or how she'd chosen to use
Hairy Snout, Human Heart as a reference but anything else was
only half-done. "Harry, do you have a quill you can lend
Harry didn't even look up from his essay. "I'm
using my last one. Why didn't the school supply list tell the
seventh years to bring triple the number of quills? I've gone
through at least that and we're not even at Easter."
"Why didn't the list tell us to bring an extra
brain just for storage?" Seamus chimed in, eyes closed and nearly
sleeping where he sat. "I can't believe how tired I am.
I can't believe we haven't even made it to breakfast yet."
Hermione refrained from telling him that he was tired
because he'd been up until nearly three finishing the essay he'd put
off and the surprise Herbology homework. "Ron, have you
Ron nodded absently, eyes closed, as he chanted the
days' Potion ingredients to himself. "I should, try the
front pouch on my bag."
There were a surprising number of things in the front
pouch of Ron's book bag, but none were quills; Hermione huffed in
irritation and began to search amongst the books in the inner pouch.
"Honestly, Ron, being organized would help you study," she
told him as she came across a half-eaten Honeydukes bar and homework
from the previous term.
"Dittany, moly, it's organized enough for me,"
Ron told her. "Wiggentree bark,"
"Shut up, Hermione. Asphodel."
She laughed and pulled a ragged looking quill from the
bottom of his bag. "Thanks, Ron, I'll get it back to you
after classes." Ron tilted his head slightly, eyes still
shut, still muttering Potion ingredients. She took it for agreement
and went in search of her essay and the reference book she was using
to annotate her notes. Which was gone. "Blast and
bother," she muttered, slapping the quill down next to her parchment.
"Has anybody seen 'Wizarding World Wonders?" There
were several headshakes, but Hermione didn't notice them; the quill
she'd set down was calmly writing on the table.
"You lent it to me, Hermione," Ginny called,
"I'll bring it down."
Hermione paid her no mind at all. Familiar red
ink was standing out on the light wood of the table; the words she'd
just spoken were written in a, by now, familiar hand. "What
in the world..." she whispered and watched as the quill dutifully
copied them down, dropping to the floor to write. She picked
the quill up from the floor when it finished, turning it in her hands,
studying it closely. "ViaVoice Quill," she read and
had to tighten her grip as the feather threatened to leap from her
hand. "Our spelling is faultless, our handwriting lustrous;
for those suffering cowardice, you remain...anonymous."
She dropped the quill in shock, barely noticing as it wrote out it's
own advertising copy and added a tiny 'created by Flourish and Blotts'.
"Here's your book, Hermio--what's wrong?"
Hermione might have noticed Ginny's concern if she hadn't, at that
moment, realized exactly what the quill had really spelt out before
"Ronald Bedivere Weasley!" Everybody
in Gryffindor jumped, there was, distantly, the sound of several things
being dropped and one thing breaking. Hermione didn't hear them.
Her target had turned to face her, eyes as large and round as milk
saucers. "You horrid, spiteful, manipulative,"
"Hermione, I can explain," Ron took a step
towards her, hands outstretched, voice pleading.
"Unfeeling, underhanded, unbelievable excuse
for a--" He didn't let her finish; Ron clapped one large
hand over her mouth, and used the other to take hold of her wrist
and tug her to the portrait hole.
"Ron!" Ginny sounded shocked.
"Blimey!" Harry sounded faint. "It's
the same writing as those love poems. It is, look, it's all
over the walls!"
"Merlin, he's right!" It
was the last thing she heard before she was out in the hallway and
the Fat Lady was swinging shut behind them.
Ron didn't bother to take his hand off her mouth as
he began talking; a good tactical maneuvers, Hermione granted, as
she would have dearly liked to have finished what she'd been saying
in the common room. "Hermione, I can explain. Honestly,
"Trouble, dears?" The Fat Lady looked concerned.
"Not if I can do this properly," Ron told
her with a wince. "Could you, would you please go visit
or something? I'd like to talk to Hermione alone, if I could."
The Fat Lady smiled benignly at him, "Of course
dear. You are aware that you'd have better luck talking to her
if you uncovered her mouth?"
Ron smiled, hard edged and grim; it was a look Hermione
hadn't seen since first year and she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that they'd talk whether she wanted to or not. "If I could
be sure she wouldn't start screaming again, I'd do it in a heartbeat."
"Oh, that was you, dearest?"
Ron nodded earnestly as Hermione glared and the Fat Lady pressed a
hand to her chest. "Goodness, I'll be going right along
then, won't I?"
Hermione yanked Ron's hand away from her mouth as the
Fat Lady bustled out her frame. "I had every right...every
right to scream and say those things," she hissed.
"You know," Ron sighed, ignoring her, looking
at the empty picture frame. "As often as I imagined this
moment, it's hard to believe that I didn't think of this."
"I bet you didn't, you lowlife creep," Hermione
snapped. "Snickering to yourself in the Owlery, having
one off on me for months. It must have been--"
Ron placed one finger against her lips and one against
his own. "Shhh," he motioned to the door, "do
you want them to hear every word?" He drew his wand
and pointed it at the door. "I'm going to lock it, so they
can't come barging out. Do you know a spell to make it so that
they can't listen in on us? I really, really, don't want to
have this conversation with an audience."
She glared. And relented when she looked into
his eyes. "Tacere." She turned from the
door, arching one eyebrow as she pocketed her wand.
"You're not welcome."
Ron shook his head. "Look, I don't know why you
went through my bag,"
"There weren't any quills in the pocket,"
she protested, stung and wondering what he'd thought she'd
"Sure there were; they're in the bag with the acid
pops, so I don't mix them up with my sugar quills."
Hermione scowled. "I've never--"
"I'm sure not," Ron spoke over her. "My
point is, you were looking in my bag and if you'd have looked a little
more you'd have found another of those letters you've been getting."
"Which I knew once I saw what that quill
was doing, you heartless bastard," Hermione reached out, wanting
to scream again, wanting to hit him as hard as she possibly could
or throttle him or hex him to the moon.
Ron caught her hands before she could do more than pound
once, solidly, on his chest. "Whoa!" He gathered her
hands, holding them tightly in his own, pressed against his chest
in the spot where she'd hit him. "Hermione, please.
Please, just let me talk and if," he swallowed and she felt his
hands tremble over hers. "If you don't think anything of
what I have to say then you can pretend I'm Malfoy and bat me about
as much as you'd like."
"I've never, ever, wanted to hit Draco Malfoy as
much as I want to hit you."
Ron laughed, mirth making his eyes sparkle. "Some
part of me is very proud of myself for accomplishing that," he
told her. "The fact that it's blazed out in five-foot high,
'stunningly scarlet' letters on the wall in the common room does my
heart good." He laughed again, "Part of it."
She laughed too, caught by his easy joy, the flush of
amusement in his cheeks. "Only you would think that,"
she said. Only Ron would really mean it because only he would...he
was the only one who'd...the one...she felt tears well in her eyes.
Her friend Ron had been the one...
"Don't cry, Hermione. Come on, don't,"
he shook his head, bringing one hand up to touch her cheek, but dropping
it before he did so. In fact, he dropped both her hands and
backed off several steps. Despite everything, she missed his
closeness. "Do you remember what happened at King's Cross
this past summer?" he asked, eyes intent.
"When at King's Cross? When Crabbe hexed
Neville pulling in? The check at the barrier?" A
lot had happened, as it seemed to every year.
Ron gestured vaguely, flustered; apparently he'd never
considered how to start this conversation when he'd thought about
having it. "After that, after. When my Mum was there, when
Harry's uncle arrived. What happened then; can you remember?"
Hermione rubbed her forehead, her thumb massaging her
temple. "At...okay. Harry's uncle arrived and we
said goodbye to him and he left. Then we..." she stopped
as Ron held up one hand. "What?"
"We said goodbye to Harry," he said, "and
I told him to write and that we'd have him at the Burrow before the
summer ended. And you..." he nodded at her.
"I hugged him and told him to be careful and to
write to me the moment he arrived home."
"You hugged him and kissed him on the cheek and
told him to write and Harry left," Ron agreed. "Then
we said goodbye because Mum and Ginny were ready to go. How'd
that go? What happened?"
She didn't see what it had to do with those letters,
but she went along with him; it was like a puzzle, trying to figure
out what he was trying to say; her anger was draining away in the
face of this strange discussion. "I hugged Gin and your
mum. Your mum told me to watch out for myself and write if there
was any difficulty and then you and I said goodbye. I told you
to be careful and write, the same as I did Harry."
Ron backed up another step before nervously taking two
forward. "Yeah. You put your hand on my arm and smiled
and told me to take care of myself and write so you wouldn't worry."
His skin had been very warm, she remembered and nodded.
"You told me to have a nice summer." Ron nodded and
opened his mouth; it triggered something in her memory. "Wait,
no. You said my name and I asked you 'what' and you...that's
when you said to have a good summer." She turned
over the significance of that pause, those odd few seconds when her
hand had been on him and he'd been looking at her and not saying a
word. "You didn't say something to me," she said softly,
not even really needing to see his wry, confirming smile. "What
didn't you say?"
"I'm not sure," he admitted softly.
"Part of me wanted to ask why you didn't hug me or kiss me
on the cheek the way you did everybody else." Without meaning
to, Hermione took a swift step back; Ron's mouth twisted into an line
that would have been a smile if it hadn't been so unhappy. "Yeah,"
he said with a shrug. "There was this other part of me,
a big part, that was going to say 'I miss you'."
Ron, mouth still in that sad line, turned and strode
angrily to the window and back. "It was mad, Hermione.
Barking. Mum was talking to Seamus's mum and your dad hadn't
even turned up to collect you yet, and I missed you. I missed
you and you hadn't even left. I didn't get it. I didn't
understand how I could feel that way; it was just you."
"Oh, thanks," she couldn't help the roll of
her eyes. "'Just you, Hermione' makes everything okay."
It was one of the phrases she hated to hear most. Ron laughed
even though his hands were shaking when he pushed them though his
"But it didn't. It being 'just you' didn't
help. It made things worse than before. And I tried to
tell myself, to say to myself, what, are you daft? You'll miss
being nagged to do homework when there are months yet to do it?
You'll miss carting around a mountain of books because somebody has
to bring reference books to study group?"
Ron ran his hands through his hair again, gripping handfuls
of it. "Just shhhh and wait, alright? Let me get
through this." She huffed and he smiled again.
"I kept thinking of that, you know," he said
quietly. "I kept thinking about that noise you make when
you're annoyed and the way your mouth lifts up at the corner when
you tell us we shouldn't have waited on the assignment; it's like,
maybe you'll laugh at us or maybe you'll smile and watch us sweat
it before you help us. I thought about your hair for
Ptolemy's sake!" He threw up his hands, as though it were somehow
her fault. "About how you always take on huge projects
like the Elves and the group and the Order and you make me and Harry
help you without even blinking an eye."
"I like your eyes," he said, almost to himself.
"I like the way they look by firelight and the way they keep
saying things that you're not saying. That's why Malfoy really
backs down, you know. Because your eyes don't ignore him; they
tell him where to get off before you blast him into more bits than
he can count."
She didn't try to say anything, too stunned, too beyond
words, to even attempt it and Ron went on.
"Because it was you, just because it was you...I
didn't know how to say anything about it without looking like a total
prat," he waved one hand at the hallway they were standing in,
at the space between them. "There were all these new feelings
and I still had all the old ones; the feelings that really don't miss
being asked if I've done my Astronomy calculations and looking up
study-guides for first years."
Hermione found her voice, sort of; it wasn't a voice
she'd ever heard herself use before. "Why didn't you just
say it out the way you are now?"
Ron leaned against the wall and tipped his head back,
staring at the ceiling for long moments. Finally he said, "I
didn't know how or what or anything, Hermione. How do you feel
like being best friends and feel like being in love with the same
person? How do you do that without mucking it up?"
He thrust his hands into the pocket of his robes and Hermione could
see him swallow. "I had to find a way to tell you.
I knew that if anybody could figure this thing out, you could.
And you could tell me how to do this thing with you. How to
be your friend and love you all at the same time. I knew you
could, Hermione, if only I could tell you without wrecking things.
I looked for spells, at first. I found some that would make
you say whatever I wanted you to say," he fidgeted against the
wall but wouldn't look at her. "But I couldn't. Sometimes
I hate what you have to say to me, but I'd rather hear what you have
to say than make you say things you don't mean." He glanced
over and smiled briefly, "There was even a potion I found that
would have had us screaming 'forsooth' at each other."
"But, Ron, at dinner, at the Burrow, I said,"
she expected the interruption, and got it.
"Harry and Ginny," he nodded. "I
thought about that, I did and I think that they had it easy.
Gin's always liked him and he never knocked out a Troll with her and
they weren't what we are."
"Is that why you didn't ever sign your name?"
He looked at her then. "But I did.
All but the first three, I did. That last night I thought that
maybe...up in Ginny's room I thought that you were going to k--hug
me or something and I decided that I'd give you a more of a clue and
then you'd know and you could find a way to tell me yes or no without
"But you didn't," she protested. "You
never put your name on them and you even lied...well, not lied, I
guess, but you made it seem that you were lying when you said you
wrote me those letters!"
Ron laughed, "You still don't get it? Byron,
Hermione. Byron. By Ron." He laughed
again at look on her face, a happy laugh and he pushed away from the
wall, exuberant. "I thought you'd get that....especially
since after those first ones it wasn't him and they were all Muggles.
I kept saying I wrote them so that when you figured it out, nobody
would care; they'd either know the truth or not care about the letters
one way or the other."
Hermione felt her cheeks flush. "That was
very clever of you, Ron."
"If it were really so clever, you'd have figured
it out sooner," he shrugged. "But this from love,
not vanity proceeds," he said suddenly, eyes narrowed in concentration.
"You know who writes, and I who 'tis that reads. Judge
not, Hermione," he met her eyes, held them with his own and she
felt her heart swell. "Judge not my passion by my want
of skill: many love well, though they express it ill."
She knew this one; her mother had had it engraved on
a plaque for her father, years before Hermione had been born.
"Anne Finch," she whispered. Delight lit Ron's eyes.
"Yeah." His grinned shyly as he reached
out a hand to her. "All right?" he asked as took her
hand in his.
Hermione smiled, it trembled and that seemed to make
Ron's smile a little bolder. "Of course," she whispered.
Ron glanced down at their clasped hands and she watched
a smile flitter on his lips. "All right?" he repeated softly,
turning his hand to twine their fingers together; their palms pressed
together softly, a warm, cupping heat held between their two hands.
"Perfect," she answered, because it was.
It was exactly.
He squeezed her fingers with her own and took an audible
breath. "Hermione Granger, I know we've done this nearly
every day of every year since we were eleven years old but...will
you walk down to breakfast with me?"
"Everyday, if you want," she said, squeezing
back. Ron smiled suddenly and it was so unutterably sweet that
she had to touch it; just her fingers at the corner of his mouth.
She felt his smile grow as he nodded and the heat between their hands
grew as he drew her towards the stairs. "Wait! Ron,
we have to unlock the portrait hole!"
Ron kept walking, tugging on her hand when as she slowed
to turn and look behind them. "It's not locked."
He smiled cheerfully at her as he pulled her back to
walk at his side, "It's not locked. I drew my wand and
said I was going to lock it and then I had you cast the Silencing
spell...they never heard if I cast a spell or not. If they can't
open the door, it's not our fault."
"Ron!" she stopped dead in the hall,
staring at him. A familiar look set on his face; stalwart determination
to argue his point, the preparation to refuse to go back and tell
everybody that the door was open, general amusement and expectation.
Anticipation. They both knew this; knew she'd scold and he'd
refuse to be cowed, he'd laugh and she'd fold her arms, smiling even
though she was serious and not about to be talked out of her position.
This was them. "Let's go down to breakfast," she said
instead with a grin and a shake of her head. Ron's fingers tightened
on hers and stayed tight. She didn't mind.
"You know what I'd love right now?" he said
suddenly. "I'd love to see their faces if they don't get
out and McGonagall has to fetch them out. I'd love to see the
looks when they find out that they've been sitting around, trapped
by an unlocked door. That'd be great. Let's do that to
the Slytherins as well, Hermione."
And they went to breakfast, together.
* * *
Author's note: Anne Finch, 'To a Husband'. All
poems used without permission...but it's not like Ron cared and most
of them are dead.
Another Author's note: So. There we have it.
The first sappy, non-poetic poetry-fic in which nobody gets kissed
or says 'I love you'.
Final note: Yes, HPGuy, I know we disagree on Divination
and Aritmancy...but I'll stick to my guns. Arithmancy was the
father of Numerology. Thanks for your beta.
I lied: Final note is...I wrote an omake ending for
this puppy. It's short and it probably sort of sucks.
I might post it at my site or else I'll give into my own need for
feedback and beg Zsenya to tack it on to this story as another chapter.
AND HERE IT IS!!! :) Zsenya
Disclaimer: JKR. ^.^ Used without permission,
but I think she'd approve.
Dedication: To everybody at the SQ! We all deserve
a bonus ending every now and again.
Omake, by the way, is what the little bonus cartoons
for Japanese anime are called. They often take place before
the credits or between episodes--they have little to do with the episode
itself, but they sure are fun. Sue me, I'm an anime fan.
Byron's Omake ending!
And they went to breakfast, together...
(sorekara!) (And then...)
They had to drop hands to eat breakfast. It was all right,
Hermione thought; the knowledge was there that she could hold
his hand again if she wanted to. Right after breakfast,
if she chose. She blushed down at her pumpkin juice.
"Something wrong, Hermione?" Ron asked and she glanced
to the side, blush deepening as she shook her head.
"No, everything is fine," she said and bit her lip.
Carefully she nudged his knee with her own under the table.
It was Ron's turn to flush. "Oh," he said.
Under the table his knee nudged hers back and then stayed, pressed
cozily against her own. "So, uh...your essay for McGonagall...you
weren't finished with it? That's a first."
"Hardly," she scoffed. "I was making a notation
on my footnotes."
Ron dropped his fork and stared at her. "You were making
footnotes on your footnotes?" he asked incredulously.
"I was explaining a reference choice," she corrected,
smiling. Their legs were now pressed together from their knees
to the soles of their shoes. "Knowing how and why I chose
a particular reference adds a new depth to my work and expands on
certain theories contained in the essay."
"It's extra credit, isn't it?" Ron laughed, hooking his
ankle around hers.
"It's not!" she protested, kicking his foot with her free
leg. "It's about a deeper understanding."
His eyes were sparkling as he swung his foot, bringing hers along
with it. "Yeah. I can believe that."
"YOU!" Dean was leading the other Gryffindors into the
Great Hall. "Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny joke,"
he said as they reached them. It was too bad, Hermione reflected,
she'd rather liked having the table to just herself and Ron.
She trapped his foot between her own, just in case he was thinking
about pulling away now that everybody was around them.
Ron shot her a wink and wiggled his foot, swinging it again.
"What? What joke?"
"Not locking the door, for one!" Lavender glared.
"We tried eight different Unlocking Charms, with nothing
happening, before Dennis Creevey fell though the door by accident."
Hermione bit her lip to keep from laughing. "But Ron never
did a spell. Surely you noticed that before I put the Silencing
Spell into effect." There were several more glares, most
tempered with various degrees of self-depreciation, before Parvati
"Well, we're not falling for that practical joke with the quill,"
she said with a huff. "Honestly, it's worn thin."
"It was good, and all that," Neville chimed in, "I
mean, we all believed it at first. Then we realized that you'd
never, ever, let Ron drag you around, Hermione, and we knew that you
were in on it."
"What?" Ron sounded as if he couldn't believe what he were
hearing. Hermione understood the feeling.
"And we've left the ink for the two of you to clean up,"
Ginny made a face, laughing, "That was really creative of you,
Hermione, yelling like that. You never shout."
"But it's not a joke," Hermione told them, looking around
the table. "I accidentally found the quill Ron's been using
to write all those letters; I figured out what was going on and then
Ron," she felt her cheeks go pink but determinedly kept her eyes
on her friends. "Ron explained why he'd been sending me
Nobody, it was apparent, believed a word she said.
"Really," Ron backed her up. "I've been saying
all year as to how I'd been sending those notes."
Seamus nodded exaggeratedly. "Sure, sure you have.
Because you fancy Hermione beyond all reason."
"I do!" Ron protested.
"He does!" Hermione agreed.
Parvati rolled her eyes. "I'm sure. And I'm certain
that you're desperately in love with him, too."
"I should hope she is!"
"We've been playing footsie all morning!" Although
somewhere amidst the disbelief they'd stopped.
"Riiiiiight," the last time Gryffindor had been so solidly
behind one idea had been the Triwizard Tournement. Hermione
shared a hopeless look with Ron. Was nobody going to
believe them? Ron spread his hands helplessly.
Sometimes there were times for privacy and proper manners, and sometimes
there wasn't. "Ron," Hermione said softly and held
out her hand to him. His eyes were confused but he took her
hand with surety. She leaned over and kissed him, using his
hand for balance and contact; this was the hand that had grabbed hers
after the Quidditch World Cup, the hand that had been on her shoulder
when she'd accidentally placed cat hair into Polyjuice Potion.
It was something familiar in this new, unfamiliar world of soft lips
under her own and quiet breath against her cheek.
"Hermione," he said softly, awe in his voice, as she pulled
back from him. His eyes were something dazzling and bright and
strange and wonderful. She smiled and watched a smile settle
onto the mouth she now knew by feel as well as by sight. There
were clamorous discussions breaking out across Gryffindor table, most
of it still disbelieving, though some were now reconsidering their
former assumptions. All around the Great Hall, heads and conversations
were turning in their direction. Hermione didn't care and as
Ron's thumb stroked across the back of her hand she stopped noticing