Disclaimer: The characters belong to J K Rowling. The song quote
is from Coldplay’s "The Scientist". So basically,
there isn’t much in this story that’s all mine…
Note: Many thanks to Moey for beta-reading, and to
Isaac Newton for getting all curious and contemplative when that apple fell on
...I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my
"I should’ve known I’d find you here."
A shadow was cast over Hermione’s book.
"Ron, you’re blocking the light," she said, without looking
The shadow disappeared and sunlight once again hit the pages of the open
book lying in her lap. She heard him sit down next to her on the bench, sighing
"I don’t believe you," he said. "We have no more than a
week left of our summer holidays, and you’re out here reading a bloody book. By
own free will."
She snorted. Really, what had he expected? It was a mystery to her how
he could still get so upset whenever he found her reading in her free time.
Would he never get used to it? But she played along. As she always did.
"Honestly, Ron, would it be better if I spent the last few days of
summer the way you do? Which is, just to clarify, doing nothing."
"Well honestly, Hermione," he said in a tone mocking hers,
"Doing nothing happens to be a tragically underrated pastime. It’s never
really gotten the recognition it deserves."
"From you it has."
"Certainly. A fact in
which I take pride. I firmly believe that there is nobody in the world
better than me at doing absolutely nothing."
"Sadly, you’re probably right."
His response to this was an incoherent grunt, followed by a silence in
which she could almost hear him lean his head back indolently, allowing
the sunlight to fall on his face.
They were seated on the wooden bench at the very back of the Burrow’s
garden. It was here that Hermione liked to come whenever she felt like having
some quality reading time, or just a few hours to herself. Because no matter
how much she loved the bustling life in the Weasley
house, the constant noise and activity could drive her just about insane
sometimes, and then it was good to know there was a place where she could have
some peace and quiet, and where she could actually hear her own thoughts. She’d
come here many times during her various visits at the Burrow, and the others
knew that when she went here, she wanted to be alone, and they would leave her
to herself for as long as she needed.
Well, everyone except Ron. This summer he’d insisted on tracking her
down whenever she came here and attempting to engage her in all sorts of
discussions. Most of the times she’d been able to make him go away with a
highly efficient wall of silence, but sometimes he’d stayed where he was,
sitting wordlessly next to her while she read and then accompanying her back to
the house. Despite his obvious animosity towards her having any alone time, she
found she couldn’t get mad at him for this. In fact, she rather enjoyed having
him sit there next to her, not saying anything, just silently keeping her
company and every now and then dropping a casual comment about how nice the
weather was, or pointing out a gnome hiding in the bushes. It didn’t feel
strange having him there. It actually felt rather natural. And,
to a certain degree, safe. The world was different nowadays, and safety
was something she rarely felt anymore. But with Ron, she felt it. And it was
most definitely a nice feeling.
"So, what are you reading now that’s so captivating?"
Hermione sighed at this interruption in her reading and held up the
book, allowing him to see the cover.
he read, and then frowned at her. "Newton? Isn’t he the
bloke who wrote our "Fantastic Beasts"-book?"
Hermione couldn’t help but smile. "No, Ron, that
was Newt Scamander. Not Newton."
Ron shrugged. "Newton, Newt, whatever.
Wizard authors are all the same to me."
"Wizard authors? Newton was no wizard
"Not at all. He was a Muggle.
"A physicist. Someone who
Ron’s face was completely blank, and it was only then that Hermione
remembered how Muggle sciences were hardly something
commonly spoken of in the wizarding world.
"Never mind," she said. "You wouldn’t have heard of
They went silent, and Hermione returned to reading her book. Her mother
had given it to her a year ago, on her fifteenth birthday, but she hadn’t
started reading it ’til this morning.
It was a truly fascinating read. Hermione knew a bit about Newton and
his theories from listening to her parents scientific discussions at the dinner
table, and her bookcase back home did include the odd science book given to her
by various relatives aware of her thirst for knowledge, but she’d never before
sat down to read a book focusing solely on physics. It was, in many ways, an
Going to Hogwarts was something she knew she’d never, ever regret, no
matter what happened. It had given her so much in terms of knowledge as well as experiences, and most importantly,
friends. But no matter how much of a full-fledged witch she would be after her
seven years at the school, there was no escaping the fact that she’d grown up
in a Muggle home, and lived for a long time in the Muggle world. For years now she’d been taking in completely
contradictory information from two directions at the same time, and sometimes
she found it a bit hard to know what to believe. For Ron, it was easy. He
scoffed at Muggles who walked around, blindly
believing everything they saw and not for a moment stopping to think if it was
possible that there were some other forces at work in the world. In his mind,
witches and wizards had it all figured out and their truths were universal truths.
But for Hermione, it was a bit more complicated. During the five years
she’d been a student at Hogwarts, she’d seen and learned so much, and it
was clear that the wizarding world held a lot of
knowledge that Muggles couldn’t even begin to
comprehend. But then she would listen to her parents have fiery discussions
about elemental forces and scientific theories and great, Muggle
minds who had made enormous imprints on the world, and she would think that
there was such a great deal of knowledge there as well, knowledge that witches
and wizards didn’t even bother to try and access, as they immediately took them
for lies. And she would try to look at it all through the eyes of somebody
who’d never seen professor McGonnagall turn a chair
into a basket of fruit; never watched a fellow student move a sofa with a flick
of his wand; and it would be easy to understand how Muggles
could "blindly believe" everything they were taught. It all made
pretty good sense, so why wouldn’t they believe it?
"Wait a minute," Ron suddenly said. Hermione turned to look at
him, questioning. His eyes were narrowed and his lips pursed, as if he’d just
realised something. Slowly, he turned to look at her.
"I know that guy," he said.
Hermione frowned. "Who?"
"That Newt bloke. I know him."
corrected. "And I hardly think you can know him, seeing as he was
active more than three-hundred years ago."
Ron gave her a don’t-be-such-a-smart-mouth-look. "I don’t mean know
him know him, like, personally. But I know about him. Isn’t he the
one who saw an apple fall and made up a bunch of stupid laws of gravy or
"Gravity, Ron, not gravy," Hermione said.
"And they’re not stupid," she added, once again picturing her parents
at the dinner table, passionately talking about Newton’s ideas and theories.
Ron grunted. "Sure they are."
"Says who? You?"
"Yeah, me! And just
about every single witch and wizard on this planet."
"You’re so small-minded, Ron. Just because you think it’s stupid,
you automatically assume everyone else does too." She was getting rather
"Are you saying you actually believe all that?"
She shrugged. "Not all of it. He has, after all, been dead
for over three hundred years. But I believe it’s important to keep an open mind
Ron looked incredulous. "How can you say that?"
"Hermione, you’re a witch!"
"After all you’ve learned about magic and how it’s performed, how
can you still believe anything Muggles consider
to be the truth?"
"I just don’t think that one belief has to rule out the
other," Hermione said. "Why do you think it’s so outrageous of me to
show an interest in Muggle science? My parents
studied it for years in school, and I would as well if I hadn’t been called to
"Well, you were called to Hogwarts. And you know stuff that your parents can’t even begin to
"Yes, well they know a lot of things that we can’t even
begin to understand!" Hermione said in a high-pitched voice. "And I
don’t like how you make them out to be less intelligent than you or me just
because they don’t have the ability to perform magic!"
"Hermione, I didn’t mean…"
"Yes you did! You believe that anybody who isn’t a witch or wizard is
for some reason a lesser human being! A poor, misguided fool whom it’s alright
to look down on and whose beliefs couldn’t possibly have any foundation
Ron looked truly ashamed. "I didn’t mean it like that," he
said. "It came out wrong, I’m sorry."
"How was it supposed to come out, then?" Hermione snapped, not
willing to forgive him right away.
He shrugged. "I don’t know. I just…" He turned to face her.
"Look. All I mean is that it’s a bit hard for me to accept anything that Muggles take for facts, seeing as I, well…" He seemed
to be struggling to find the right words, probably fearful she’d blow up at him
again. "All my life, I’ve been told that magic has an answer to everything.
And I do believe it has. So I can’t really, you know… accept any other
explanation to things."
Hermione found herself softening at his words. He was really trying not
to upset her any more than he already had. "I understand that, Ron, I
really do," she said. "But for Muggles,
it’s just the same. Only for them, it’s science that holds an answer to
At this, Ron looked sceptical. "To everything?"
"Do you believe it does?"
She shrugged. "I don’t know. Maybe. I do
think it has just as many answers to things as magic does. And I believe
that their respective explanations to how everything works not only can, but should
be studied parallel to each other, because I think that not only could
scientists learn a lot from magicians, but magicians could also learn a lot
Ron neither consented nor disagreed. Instead he fell silent and turned
his gaze to a gnome shuffling about in the shrubbery, leading Hermione to
believe that the conversation was over. But she had no more than opened her
book and found the right page when he spoke again.
"So, what about You-Know-Who?"
The question came so completely out of the blue that Hermione wasn’t
sure how to respond. What did he mean? It sounded a lot like a light-hearted
conversation-starter of a question, something like "So what to make of
that Voldemort fellow, eh?", but considering
Ron’s intense, present-since-birth fear of the man, she didn’t think that was
what he meant.
"What about him?" she finally said, though not feeling any
Ron turned to look at her. "What would your science say about
him?" he asked. "How would it explain… all that?"
Despite the warm, afternoon sun shining down on them, she shivered,
knowing what he meant with "all that".
"I don’t know. I guess they don’t really have an explanation for
him, seeing as he’s, well… not a Muggle."
"Yeah, but there must be bad things happening in the Muggle world as well, aren’t there?"
"Of course there are."
"And what does science say about them?"
Hermione was beginning to feel rather uncomfortable. "I don’t know.
Not much. Scientists don’t really study people and their actions."
"Well then, who does?"
"But scientists must have an explanation to why there’s evil in the
world. Don’t they?"
Hermione shifted in her seat, bothered. "How would I know?"
"But you said, just a few minutes ago, that science had the answer
Now she found herself getting annoyed with him again. "Well, maybe
it doesn’t!" she spat. "Who cares? It’s not as if magic has
any explanation to evil either!"
"Sure it does," he said, looking infuriatingly self-assured.
"Oh really? Your beloved magic
has an explanation to why Voldemort, completely
unprovoked, tortures and kills people?"
Ron raised his index finger at her. "Firstly, you know I hate hearing
his name spoken out loud. Secondly, it’s your beloved magic as well. And
thirdly--", here, he lowered his hand and leaned back against the
back-rest of the bench, "--yes, it does have an explanation."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Which is…?"
Ron shrugged. "He’s evil."
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "He’s evil?" she echoed. "That’s
your brilliant explanation?"
"But that’s no explanation! That’s just… an obvious fact!"
"Yeah. As well as an explanation to
why he does all the things he does."
Hermione shook her head, incredulous. "You’ve hardly proven
anything with that, Ron."
"Sure I have. Magic has an answer to everything, while science
Oh, she could’ve hit him! "If you consider that a
legitimate answer to the question why an evil person performs evil deeds, then…
then… then I can assure you that any scientist could’ve come up with an answer
a million times better than yours!"
"Whatever you say," Ron said and looked away; a small,
infuriating smile playing on his lips.
"Don’t look so smug! I state again: you’ve hardly proven
anything. Especially not that magic has an answer to everything."
Hermione snorted. "You’re so convinced you’re right, yet you can’t
seem to come up with any decent arguments."
"Just give me a minute, and they’ll come to me." He squinted
up at the sun, then turned to look at her again.
"Okay. Let’s try again. What would your precious science say about
"This. You and me. Talking."
Something fluttered in her stomach when he said "you and me",
as if they actually were a "you and me". A
"Ron and Hermione". A pair. A couple. But she quickly gathered herself.
"What do you mean ’What would it say about it’?"
"I mean what I said."
"Well, I…" She still didn’t understand his question.
"Make a scientific report of this situation for me. Make me
She narrowed her eyes at him, then took a deep
breath, wordlessly accepting his challenge. "Okay. A
scientific report. Well, first of all, it would probably describe us as
two humans, sitting on a bench in a garden, sharing thoughts and opinions in a,
more or less, civil manner. Then, maybe a physical description of us would
follow, where it states what species we are, and which other species are in our
"Only it wouldn’t include the gnomes," Ron interrupted.
"Because gnomes aren’t featured in your, you
know… scientific books."
Hermione shot him an annoyed look, before continuing. "Right.
Where was I? Okay. Following that, it would probably state under which
conditions we’re having the debate."
"Meaning what the weather’s like, what the temperature and air
pressure is, and so on."
"And finally, there would probably be a drawing of us on the bench,
showing the different forces acting upon us."
"Gravity. And the normal force."
"What, if I may ask, is the normal force?"
"In this case, the bench."
"And is there an abnormal force as well?"
"Ron!" she exclaimed, frustrated. "Why do you ask me to give
you a scientific report of the situation if you’re just going to make fun of
"Alright, alright, I’m sorry," he said, raising his hands as
if to ward off any possible, physical attack. "No need to get all worked
up." He sat back and peeled off a flake of paint from the armrest of the
bench, then carefully crumbled the flake to dust between his fingertips.
"I just think it sounds a bit sad."
She snorted. "I take it you mean sad, as in pathetic. Well, let
"No!" he interrupted. "Not pathetic. Just…
"What’s so tragic about it?"
He shrugged. "Dunno. Just… the way you
said it, I guess. The way you described it. As if
we’re just two creatures sitting on a bench, and being – what was it you said?
– acted upon by a bunch of forces. As if there’s no
purpose to it."
Hermione frowned. Had it really sounded that bad? When she thought about
what she’d said, she realised that it did sound rather tragic. But that was science.
No pretty words or glamorous phrases, just cold, hard facts. It was supposed
to be like that.
Ron looked away, his fingers still working on freeing the armrest from
flaky paint. "I guess I just hope there’s more to it. That there’s, I
don’t know… a reason. I guess that’s what I want to believe. Or need to
believe. And with magic, there’s always a reason. Even if it’s bad, or short,
or obvious, there’s still always an explanation."
Hermione studied him, moved by his words. Was this really Ron, sitting
here? Saying how he needed to believe there was a reason to everything?
Actually sharing his feelings with her? She concluded that, yes, it was
indeed Ron, sharing something with her, and she found herself suddenly overcome
by a feeling of such infinite fondness that she had to close her eyes and take
a deep breath to stop her mind from spinning.
"So, what would magic say, then?" she asked quietly, her eyes
still closed, not aware of the fact that she’d spoken until the words were out.
She opened her eyes and looked at him. "What explanation would it
"To what?" he asked, but she could tell he knew.
"To this. You and
me." She was about to add "talking", just as he had said,
but then decided against it, seeing as this was more than just a regular
conversation now. They both knew that.
"An explanation?" he asked. "You want magic’s explanation
She nodded, waiting, and watched him take a deep breath and close his
eyes. It seemed to her almost as if he was mentally preparing himself for
something. She furrowed her brow, somewhat perplexed. But just as she was about
to ask him if he hadn’t come up with a good explanation yet, he turned to face
her, and the unfamiliar, quite puzzling look in his eyes efficiently prevented
the question from leaving her lips.
Ever so slowly, he lifted a slightly shaking hand, and Hermione watched,
wide-eyed, as it came closer to her face. Would he really…?
It appeared he would. His fingertips touched her cheek, lightly,
lightly, and the sensation was so utterly overwhelming that she found herself
squeezing her eyes shut in a desperate attempt to keep her self-control from
abandoning her. But it was proved to be in vain, as he tore any hopes she had
of regaining her composure to shreds, by placing his whole hand on her cheek.
It was wonderfully warm and somewhat rough against her skin.
Hermione wanted desperately to know what this was, what he was doing,
but found she couldn’t possibly open her eyes, so she kept them shut, wondering
how they could ever keep on being just friends after this, and it was at that
moment that he kissed her.
It was a soft, impossibly gentle kiss, but it made Hermione’s head roar
and her ears ring. Her eyes were still shut, but she could feel how close Ron
was to her now; she felt his warmth against her whole body. The hand on her
cheek moved behind her head as the kiss grew slightly deeper, and stopped at
the back of her neck, as if he wanted to pull her even closer to him.
But then, just as she had started getting used to it all; sitting at an
insignificant distance from Ron, with his hand on her neck and his lips on
hers; he stopped. She found herself panicking as the hand on her neck drew away
and the moments ago, so evident
warmth in front of her disappeared. Had she done something wrong? Was she such
a horrible kisser that he didn’t even think it was worth the effort?
Opening her eyes, she found he was sitting several, painful inches away
from her again, his head turned away. She felt a lump forming in her throat. He
hadn’t liked it. She had been an awful kisser. Now he was probably regretting
having given it a try, and wondering how he would survive the awkwardness that
was bound to lie between them in the future.
But the lump in her throat didn’t have time to travel up to her eyes in
the shape of tears, because at that moment, he turned to look at her again, and
she saw that his cheeks were just as flushed as she could feel her own were. In
his eyes was something adorably bashful, and he gave her a small, almost
apologetic smile before speaking.
"It’s just magic. You know?"
And Hermione knew. She understood completely. What he meant when he said
magic had the answer to everything, why he needed to feel like there was a
purpose; she understood exactly what he meant and how he felt. But it was
impossible for her to say this, to put it in words, so instead she just gave
him a shaky smile and nodded. Hopefully he understood. That she understood.
And she felt he must’ve, because his cheeks flushed even redder and he
hastily got to his feet, suddenly very awkward.
"Right," he said, looking everywhere but at her. "I
should probably, uh… go see if Mum needs help with anything. Dinner,
Hermione nodded again. "Let me know if she wants my help as
well," she said weakly.
Ron shook his head. "I think it’s alright. You can stay here and,
you know, go on reading, and someone will come get you when dinner’s
Without giving her any time to object, he walked off with long strides,
his hands in his pockets and his eyes fixed intently on the ground. Hermione
looked down at the book, which was still on her lap. Picking it up, she studied
its cover for a while, before placing it next to her on the bench. She drew up
her knees and rested her chin on them, closing her eyes and breathing in
deeply. Her heart hadn’t quite recovered yet; it was still hammering like crazy
inside her chest. And her cheeks still felt hot.
She wouldn’t be doing any more reading today, that was one thing that