The Sugar Quill
Author: Karlie  Story: Worth the Risk  Chapter: Default
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Worth The Risk

Worth The Risk

 

Disclaimer:  None of this belongs to me and I make no money from it.

 

A/N:  This is my first attempt at fan fiction.   I would like to thank Zsenya, my wonderful beta-reader.  It is because of her reassurance that I have the courage to post this.  I would also like to thank all the SQ authors whose stories have given me endless hours of entertainment and inspiration. 

 

******************

 

“Ron, it is none of your business who I correspond with!”

 

“But he went to Durmstrag, Hermione.  You know what they say about that school.”

 

“Viktor is not into the Dark Arts. . .”

 

Thump! Harry had shut his book with such force that everyone in the common room stopped what they were doing and looked around, including Ron and Hermione.  Shoving the book into his bag, Harry stood up and began walking toward the boys’ dormitory.

 

“Harry?  Is something wrong?”  Ron called after him. “Where are you going?”

 

“It’s obvious that I’m not going to get my Potions essay done with the two of you bickering,” he said as though he was on the verge of losing his temper, “so I’ll finish it upstairs.  See you in the morning.”

 

Ron turned back to Hermione.  “Now look what you’ve done!”

 

“ME?!  You cannot be serious!” she hissed. 

 

Hermione could feel the anger rising inside of her.  She didn’t usually have trouble controlling her temper but staying calm around Ron had recently become a challenge.  Lately, Ron seemed to always be looking for an argument.  If he wasn’t questioning her about Viktor then he was teasing her about her choice in books or her library habits.  What made Hermione angriest, however, was the fact that she knew what Ron was doing and she still let him get to her.

 

“I’m dead serious.  You. . .”

 

“How can this possibly be my fault?” she cut in.    “I swear, Ron Weasley, sometimes I just want to. . . sometimes you make me so. . .OH! NEVER MIND!” 

 

Hermione had completely lost the ability to put her thoughts into words.  Raising her hands in the air she fought every urge to  smack some sense into Ron.  Instead, she clenched her fists, took a deep breath and grabbed her book bag.  Ron stared at her with a mix of fear and amazement.  

 

“This conversation is over,” she added calmly, turning to the girls’ dormitory.  She could feel the stare of Ron’s eyes on her.  She hated leaving things this way but she was far too angry to hold a civil conversation. 

 

 

*****************************

 

 

 

It took every ounce of self-control for Hermione not to slam the door behind her as she stepped into her room.  She had hoped to find it empty, or at least quiet, but Lavender and Parvati were involved in their usual evening ritual.  Spread out on Lavender’s bed was a collection of Teen Witch magazines, fingernail polish, and an assortment of makeup.  Hermione couldn’t help but roll her eyes.  She just didn’t understand how these two could take that sort of stuff so seriously.

 

Hermione hoped that Lavender and Parvati would not notice her walk in.  They seemed to be deeply involved in one of the magazine articles, as they kept pointing to something and giggling loudly.  Hermione walked over to her own bed and sat down but her roommates’ attention quickly shifted to her presence. 

 

“What’s the matter, Hermione?” snickered Parvati.  “Did you have a row with your boyfriend?”

 

“Ron is NOT my boyfriend!” Hermione stressed through clenched teeth.

 

Lavender and Parvati exchanged glances and tried to suppress a fit of laughter.  “Who said we were talking about Ron?” 

 

Hermione gave each of them a menacing look and tried to think of a clever retort.  Too frustrated and angry to think of anything, she flung herself face down into her pillow and let out a muffled scream.  Hermione had never been close with either Lavender or Parvati.  She didn’t expect them to understand, or even care, that she was so upset.  She was surprised, therefore, when she heard a soft voice from across the room.

 

“We’re sorry Hermione,” said Lavender.  “We didn’t mean to make you so mad.”

 

“How did you know I was upset about Ron?” she asked, face still buried in the pillow.  But she knew the answer.  They’d probably heard the argument from all the way up here.

 

“Really, Hermione, Ron is the only person you let get to you like that.  But there’s no point in getting worked up about it.  It’s obvious he’s just jealous,” said Parvati

 

Hermione sat up stiffly and turned to face her.  “What ARE you talking about?”

 

This question prompted an unexpected fit of giggles from both girls.  Hermione, who failed to see the humor in it, shot each of them an angry look.

 

Lavender stared at her is disbelief.  “Don’t tell me you can’t see it?”

 

“See what exactly?” asked Hermione. 

 

“That he still fancies you, of course,” said Lavender.  “Why else would he give you so much attention?”

 

“All Ron ever does is pick a fight with me over something ridiculous or bother me about Viktor.  I don’t see how that means he fancies me.”

 

“He’s always fancied you Hermione,” added Parvati.  “Padma told me all about the Yule Ball.  How he ignored her but couldn’t take his eyes off you.”

 

Hermione hadn’t thought about the Yule Ball in a long time.  It had ended with an awful row between her and Ron.  For awhile she actually thought Ron was interested in her but if he did have any feelings for her, however, he never acted on them.

 

 “That was a long time ago,” she said finally, “and Ron has had several opportunities to ask me out.  If he ever thought of me as anything other than a friend, well, he doesn’t anymore.”

 

“Do you want to know what I think?” asked Parvati.

 

“NO!” Hermione answered adamantly.  Then she realized Parvati wasn’t asking her, she was asking Lavender.

 

“I think,” Parvati began excitedly. “Ron fancies Hermione and Hermione fancies him but just won’t admit it!”

 

“That’s not true!” Hermione exclaimed.  She noticed the suspicious looks from both Lavender and Parvati.  “It’s not!  I don’t think about Ron in that way.  He’s a friend.”

 

Lavender and Parvati were trying not to laugh.  They each cupped their hands over their mouths in an attempt to suppress it.

 

“Sounds to me like she’s trying pretty hard to convince herself of that”

 

Hermione threw up her hands in frustration.  “There is nothing to admit!  There are no feelings.  Ron and I are friends.  Being anything more would just be too complicated.”

 

Hermione felt as if she’d said too much.  She left the room to prepare for bed, quite angry with herself for even starting that conversation with them. 

 

 

 

******************************

 

 

                                                              

The Great Hall was noisy when she went down for breakfast.  Feeling refreshed and well rested (a good night’s sleep had erased Ron from her thoughts), Hermione made her way to the Gryffindor table.  It was rather crowded but she easily noticed Harry and Ron, and squeezed into a seat across from them.  They were busy comparing their Potions essays.  Ron’s appeared to be unfinished.

 

“Good morning everyone,” Hermione said cheerfully.  She eyed Ron’s essay-in-progress as she sat down.  “Are you still working on that?”

 

“Well, you certainly are in a chipper mood this morning,” he replied in a dry, sarcastic tone.  “What?  Don’t have anything else to say about my unfinished homework?”

 

Hermione was taken back by Ron’s attitude. “Well, I wasn’t going to say anything but if you hadn’t left it until the last minute then it would be done by now.”

 

“Well spotted, Hermione.  Leave it to you to state the obvious.  You are always such a big help.”

 

“I could do without the sarcasm Ron.  Are you trying to pick a fight or. . .”

 

Hermione noticed that all eyes at the Gryffindor table were focused on her and Ron.  It was strangely silent, with the exception of Lavender and Parvati who were giggling softly.  Hermione felt her cheeks burn and was certain they had changed to bright red.  Ron must have noticed the attentions as well.  He said nothing more, just picked up his quill and began to concentrate on his essay.

 

After a minute of awkward silence the rest of the table returned to their own business.  Harry stared at Ron but said nothing.  It was Ron who spoke first.

 

“Sorry Hermione,” he muttered, without looking up.

 

Hermione looked at Ron is disbelief.  This was unexpected.  She could never remember a time that they had apologized to each other after an argument.  Usually, the row was quickly brushed aside and forgotten (or they both pretended it was forgotten).  Never in all her years of knowing Ron had anything like this happened.

 

“Apology accepted,” she replied kindly.  “And I’m sorry too.”

 

Harry looked speechless.  He raised a hand to Ron’s forehead.  “Are you feeling all right?” he asked jokingly.  “So, that’s it, is it?  One of you isn’t going to stomp off somewhere or burst into tears?”

 

Hermione gave Harry a piercing look, hoping he wouldn’t say anything else about the situation with Ron, which was making her strangely uncomfortable.    She didn’t understand why Ron had been so mean to her earlier but didn’t feel like talking about it and moved quickly to change the subject. 

 

“I heard Malfoy got detention from McGonagall yesterday,” she said, hoping it would provide the distraction needed.

 

Both Ron and Harry looked surprised and pleased.  It seemed to do the trick.

 

“No way,” Ron said.  “I wonder what he did?”

 

The remainder of breakfast passed quickly and Hermione was grateful that she and Ron were no longer arguing.  Soon students were making their way to morning lessons.  Harry, Ron and Hermione gathered up their things and headed for the door.  As they were about to walk through Harry stopped.

 

“I think I left my essay at the table,” he said, searching his book bag.  “Wait in the hall; I’ll catch up with you.”

 

“Come on Hermione,” Ron said, nodding his head in the direction of the corridor.  “We can wait for Harry out here.”  He placed his hand on the small of her back in an effort to guide her thought the door. 

 

Hermione stopped at his touch.  She looked up and unexpectedly caught Ron’s eye.  A warm sensation rushed through her body and she was almost frozen; unable to move.  She spent a moment gazing at Ron until someone bumped her from behind, dragging her back into reality.  Students were trying to get through the doorway, which she was blocking.

 

“Watch where you’re going,” Ron yelled at someone who had just knocked him in the arm.

 

Hermione didn’t quite know what hit her.  She wasn’t sure what had just happened but knew that she needed to get out of there.

 

“I. . .er. . .You wait for Harry.  I need to see Professor McGonagall before class.”  Clutching her bag, Hermione raced down the corridor and didn’t look back.

 

 

**********************************

 

 

Nearly out of breath as she entered the class, Hermione sat down and laid her head on the desk.  What had happened a few minutes before had caught her by surprise and she needed some time to collect her thoughts.  Ron and I are friends, she reminded herself.  Get a hold of yourself, Hermione.   Is this really the time to notice this? 

 

Hermione didn’t have time to answer her own question.  Harry and Ron had taken the two seats next to her. 

 

“Hermione, are you OK?” asked Harry. 

 

She tried hard not to look at Ron.  She didn’t want to ignore him but she was afraid of what would happen if she caught his eye.

 

“I’m fine,” she told Harry. 

 

Thankfully, Professor McGonagall walked the room to begin the lesson.  “Good morning class,” she said.  “I’m afraid I have an urgent matter to attend to.  I shouldn’t be long.  In the meantime, each of you please begin reading Chapter Twelve from your textbooks.  We will be reviewing that material when I return.

 

“Miss Granger will be in charge during my brief absence.  Everyone on your best behavior and that means no talking.” 

 

As soon as Professor McGonagall left, whispers began floating through the room.

 

“Professor McGonagall asked that we read silently,” Hermione reminded the class.  Soon the whispers stopped and everyone reached for their books.  Hermione knew that the class was unhappy she had been left in charge, but also knew they wouldn’t act up out of fear that she’d report their behavior back to Professor McGonagall.

 

“Damn!” Ron whispered, emptying his book bag onto his desk.  “I forgot my book!”

 

Hermione rolled her eyes.  “Here,” she said as she scooted her chair a little closer to him.  “We can share.”

 

She quickly discovered that being so close to Ron made it difficult to concentrate.  She found herself reading the same sentence over and over and still not remembering what she had read. 

 

Ron placed his arm on the back of her chair and leaned in a little closer. “I can’t see that page.”

 

Hermione closed her eyes and tried to gain some composure.  Being close to Ron had never been this difficult before.  She tried her hardest to concentrate, but failed miserably every time. 

 

“Thank you for following my directions.”  Hermione hadn’t even noticed that Professor McGonagall had returned.  She and Ron shot apart like an explosion had taken place between them.

 

“Now,” Professor McGonagall continued, “who can provide me a brief summary of Cross-Species Switching Spells?”

 

Hermione was unusually quiet for the entire lesson.

 

**********************************

 

The rest of the day was not any easier for Hermione.  Dinner had come and gone and she hadn’t even started on homework.  Whether she was near Ron or not, her thoughts always drifted back to that morning and the spark she felt when they were sharing her book.    Hidden in the library, Hermione worked very hard to sort out these new feelings she was having. The most difficult part wasn’t coming to terms with them, it was admitting to herself that Lavender and Parvati had been right-she’d had them for a long time but was too afraid to act.  What frightened her more than anything, however, was the idea that, no matter what happened, she was risking her entire friendship with Ron.  Things would never be the same between them.   

 

Hermione reluctantly left the library at closing time.  Though it was nearing curfew, she wandered the corridors slowly, taking detours and lingering in front of portraits and paintings.  She wasn’t ready to go back to Gryffindor Tower and risk face Ron.  She didn’t know how she would act or what she would say.  It was much easier to take her time getting there and hope he had already gone to bed.

 

As she was rounding the final corridor to the common room, lost in her thoughts, someone came around the corner and knocked her to the ground. 

 

“Excuse me,” she said, rather irritated.  She looked up to see Ron standing in above her.

 

“Hermione?” Ron extended his hand to help her up.  “I’m really sorry about that.  I was just coming to look for you.”

 

“Oh?” she questioned.  Every possible scenario ran through her brain but Hermione couldn’t help but wish that the morning’s interaction had stirred something in Ron as well. “What’s so important that you need to talk to me so late?”

 

“Well, about our conversation last night. . .”

 

Any warm and fuzzy feeling Hermione had been having towards Ron quickly transformed itself.  Ron, who had so nicely apologized at breakfast that morning, who had unknowingly occupied her thoughts the entire day, wanted to talk to her about Viktor Krum, again.   She looked down to see that Ron still had her hand and yanked it away in anger.

 

“I can’t believe you Ron,” she hissed.  “I have told you a million times that my friendship with Viktor is none of your business.  Honestly, finding me to tell me that.”

 

Ron rushed to put his hand over her mouth.  “Will you please keep your voice down!” he said sternly.  “I didn’t want to talk to you about him.”

 

“Well, what is it then?” she asked, angrily pushing his hand away.  She was about to give Ron another piece of her mind when a terrible thought occurred to her.  “It’s not Harry, is it?  Ron, please tell me if something’s happened.”

 

“Harry’s fine.  Everything is fine,” he said.  “What I wanted to do was tell you I was sorry about arguing last night and. . .”  Ron looked down the hall over to the portrait of the Fat Lady.  She appeared to be busy dusting her canvas but Hermione noticed the quick glances she shot in their direction.  Clearly, she was eavesdropping.  

 

“Do you mind if we go somewhere a little more. . .private?” he asked.

 

“Ron, it’s already past curfew.  We can’t really go anywhere.”

 

“I realize that but there are still people in the common room and,” Ron’s voice dropped to a whisper and he nodded in the direction of the Fat Lady, “we’re not exactly alone here.”

 

Hermione opened her mouth to respond when she noticed the distinctive glow of yellow eyes coming from the dark corner.  A scrawny, brown cat stepped out from the shadows and dashed down the hall.

 

“No, Ron, we’re not alone,” she whispered.  “It’s Mrs. Norris.”

 

“Filch will hang us by chains if he catches us out here,” Ron said in a panic.  He turned to Hermione and looked her straight in the eye.  “But I need to talk to you and it’s important.  Will you meet me tomorrow morning?  Somewhere we won’t be interrupted.  How about in the Owlery?  Early.”

 

“Can’t you at least tell me what’s so important?” asked Hermione.  There was a hint of anticipation in her voice.  “Can it really wait until tomorrow?”

 

The unmistakable sound of footsteps echoed in the corridor.  

 

“ It’s Filch,” said Ron. “There’s no time now.” 

 

Ron pulled Hermione by the hand toward the portrait hole.  He gave the password (“Gingersweet”) and they both scrambled noisily into the common room.  Several heads turned as they walked in.  Harry, who was sitting by the fire, eyed Ron strangely but Ron ignored him.  Hermione wondered if he knew why Ron went to find her. 

                                                           

Before walking to the girls’ dormitory, Hermione turned to Ron.  “Tomorrow morning,” she said quietly and then disappeared on the stairs.

 

*********************

 

 

Hermione opened the door to her room and was grateful to find it dark and her roommates sound asleep.  She tried falling asleep herself but found it difficult when she saw Ron’s face every time she closed her eyes.    Hermione realized at that moment that she would have to be honest with Ron about her feelings and her fears.  Though she hoped for the best, she couldn’t be sure what his reaction would be. 

 

The sun was just beginning to show above the horizon as Hermione made her way to the Owlery the next morning.  She felt a sense of relief knowing that Ron would soon know the truth about her feelings, but the nagging fear of losing his friendship wouldn’t leave her.  Revealing her feelings to Ron was a big risk and she only hoped that when everything was over it had been worth taking. 

 

As expected, the Owlery was nearly deserted.  Many of the owls were returning from their overnight hunting excursions, while others were resting comfortably in the rafters.  Hermione saw Ron at the far end of the room with Pig flying excitedly around his head.

 

“Hi Pigwidgeon,” she said quietly, reaching up to ruffle the little owl’s feathers.  “Good morning Ron.”

 

“I’m glad you came,” he said walking over towards her.  “I. . .”

 

“Wait,” interrupted Hermione. “I need to say something first.  If I don’t do it now, I probably never will.  So, please let me say this and then you can tell me anything you like.”

 

Ron looked at her a bit wary.  He was clearly confused, and looked a bit worried, but indicated for Hermione to continue.

 

Hermione hesitated.   She was about to bare her heart to him and it was the most frightening thing she had ever done.  Forget fighting a mountain troll; forget facing a so-called murderer.  This was enough to make her run from Hogwarts and never come back.

 

Finally, she forced herself to speak.   “I know we’ve been fighting a lot recently and I want you to know that I don’t like it.”

 

Ron reached out to grab her hand but stopped himself.  “I told you I was sorry about that. . .”

 

“No, wait.  I’m not done,” she said.  “It’s frustrating because we’re supposed to be friends, right?  I want you to be my friend.  But when we fight, it’s like we’re not friends. .  .”

 

Hermione paused as Ron stepped back and shifted his gaze to the window.   She could tell things weren’t going well and searched for the right words to explain what she was feeling.  

 

“Ron,” she continued, “your friendship means the world to me.  You and Harry; you are both the best friends I’ve ever had and I would never want anything to change that.  Lately, though, I’ve noticed these. . .well. . .feelings.   Feelings for you, I mean.  I know that it could put a big strain on our friendship but I can’t go on keeping this inside myself.  I just needed you to know what I’m feeling.”

 

Hermione kept her eyes on Ron, who was still facing the window.   He said nothing at first, but then slowly turned back to face her.  He stared into her eyes so deeply that she was sure he could read her soul.  She waited patiently for Ron to speak, never taking her eyes from his face.

 

“Why did you decide to tell me this now?” he finally asked.

 

“I don’t know, really,” she said.  “I guess I’ve felt this way for some time and I’ve always tried to ignore it.  I can’t do that anymore.  I’d flunk out of school if I tried.”

 

Ron smirked. “We can’t have that now, can we?”

 

Hermione tried to keep her composure.  It was more difficult than usual to concentrate.  “Listen,” she pleaded, “whatever happens between us, I think we need to take this slow.  There’s so much at stake if this doesn’t work out.”

 

“Right.  We’ll take it slow,” replied Ron.  He reached down and grabbed Hermione’s hand.  Shivers pulsed through her spine and she felt weak in the knees.  She closed her eyes and tired to collect her thoughts.  Ron was making this much more difficult than she had imagined. 

 

“And,” she added, “I think it would be best to keep this between ourselves for now.  We don’t need everyone to know.”

 

Ron pulled her closer.  “Of course.  We’ll keep it to ourselves.”

 

Hermione could feel her heart pounding.  From her head to her toes, there was a sensation unlike anything she had ever experienced.  She looked into Ron’s eyes as he bent his head towards her and pressed his lips onto hers.  She reached her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.  The kiss was soft and sweet; it was tender and much too short.

 

When they parted, Hermione laid her head on Ron’s shoulder.  “So much for taking things slow,” she sighed.

 

They stood in silence for a few moments when Hermione realized something.  “So, you said you had something to talk to me about.  Was THIS it?”

 

Ron calmly stroked the back of her hair.  “No, actually. . .”

 

Hermione sprung back from him in shock.

 

“I’m joking, Hermione,” he laughed, grabbing her hands and pulling her back to him.  “Really, it was a joke.”

 

Ron looked into her eyes and she knew it was the truth.  She pushed onto the tips of her toes and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.  The invitation accepted, Ron wrapped her in his arms again.  She felt a rush of heat throughout her body and forgot the rest of the world.

 

Suddenly, though, she was distracted by a noise.  The owls began fluttering wildly through the rafters and Hermione heard a quiet voice coming from the doorway. 

“Oh, so sorry,” the voice mumbled.

 

Hermione and Ron turned to the door, only to see Dennis Creevey turn and walk back down the Owlery stairs. 

 

“So much for keeping this between ourselves,” Ron said with a smile.

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                    

 

 

 

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