Like Water on Charcoal
Part I: Ron Weasley
Ron used to believe that there were only four kinds of people in the world. There was his family, his friends, his enemies, and everyone else. It really was that simple because he prided himself on being a simple lad.
He grew up in a warm house with a warm family. He liked sports, was annoyed by his siblings, had friends, and defended the weak. In his mind, Ron saw dark black lines dividing people into areas that made them comfortable to deal with. It made things not complicated and Ron needed that phrase so much, like water and air, that he didn't even know he needed it until it changed on him. Water which reminded him of her and he wondered why he didn't see it before.
The first time he saw her, all dark hair and dark eyes, he thought of water (which was so unlike her static energy). She reminded him of a droplet of water splashing onto a word-filled page and disrupting everything with its mere existence.
He saw her standing in the doorway with her expectant gaze and he thought frantically, desperately, Go away. Go away now before it's too late because we don't need you. It can be just him and me. Go away before I start to care. Go away before we lose everything.
In a bright red train zooming towards unknown, anticipated areas that would one day be home, Rom opened his mouth to tell her this, but he stopped. He hesitated because he believed that he was being silly. She was just another girl after all and her mouth was not demanding something from him and her eyes were not looking him over and finding him lacking. But she did though.
She looked him over and Ron felt his poverty in her gaze. He felt the coldness of being in thick shadows and the suddenly sharp pain of fear that he might not be enough. Fear that he might not be enough for this girl with brown hair and slim hands.
His brothers had taught him the importance of intuition, but he had paid them no heed.
The youngest Weasley boy stared at his rat defiantly and murmured in his mind, You will not change anything. I refuse.
For awhile, things had been easier.
With angry words and mocking jokes, he tried to make her his enemy, tried to darken the borders in his mind and push her into a certain territory. Move over there with the others, little girl.
But she hadn't stayed in her place. She had marched up and, with the help of a troll, blasted her way through the boundaries into an area where she would be happier.
Fine, the guard in Ron's mind demanded as though he allowed her to do this instead of standing by helplessly. You can stay in the friendship zone, but don't move again. Ron could see her smile complacently in his mind as she waited for her next move.
The water spread and the lines began to blur.
Not like Ginny or Fred or George or Percy or Bill or Charlie or Mum or Dad. Not family.
"What do you want from me?" screamed Ron in a windy field with tall, green grass the size of armies.
He had chased her out here and this was just the result of four years of sharp words and awkward glances.
He screamed and meant, What can I possibly give you?
"Of course you wouldn't know," she spat disgustedly before stalking away, stomping the poor grass under her fast feet.
Not like Harry. Not friends.
"My mother always said patience was my best virtue," she whispered confidentially in a warm common room after a long day of work.
Their O.W.L.s were done with and their N.E.W.Ts something far away.
Harry laughed and Ron grinned.
"Then mine would be faith," Ron had added.
The fire cowered from her eyes and they darkened.
"That can be a weakness," she murmured and the two boys didn‘t understand.
Not like Malfoy. Not enemies.
Six years of waiting, of growing, of needing something he didn’t think he deserved.
"Please," he whispered in cluttered rooms after hours.
"No," she refused, but did not leave.
Not like McGonagall or Hooch or Fleur. Not like people he knew, but didn't care to know further.
Ron admitted, "I don't know what you are to me."
"Just Hermione," she answered, like it was simple, before saying, "Don't make this complicated."
Years and years standing motionless in front of a pair of intense eyes. Years of fear that he somehow wasn't enough. Wouldn't she rather have Harry or Krum? Wouldn't she rather have a hero?
Years of self inflicted pain until she grabbed his hands one day in a crowded common room and asked exasperatedly, "Will you just shut up and kiss me?"
And he did and it was perfect.
Ron should have seen her blur the lines. He should have noticed that it was wrong that she was water and that the once stable areas in his mind were now chaotic with the sounds of war. She was changing the rules and changing the story.
He should have seen it and maybe he did, but was helpless to do anything.
It didn't matter.
Tom Marvolo Riddle kept his eyes honed on Harry Potter as Potter's stupid Mudblood lay dead at his feet.
He didn't see the green light shooting from a redhead's wand.
She changed everything.