The Sugar Quill
Author: Elucreh  Story: Quod Timet  Chapter: Quod Timet
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

It took so many rewrites my head is spinning. My friends are so sick of hearing me whine that Zu "flogged my muse with a North Atlantic sea salmon, then teased her to the point of ecstacy before skipping away laughing, leaving the evil bitch hanging." Funnily enough, after that she became cooperative. But it all really works. I'm actually quite proud of it.
    Piece
  • For:
  • Title: Quod Timet
  • Rating: PG
  • Summary: Ron’s not the only one who can be jealous…
  • Warnings: Angry Hermione ahead. If you’re Ernie MacMillan, you may want to stay away entirely.
  • Pairing: R/Hr of course!
  • Requests: Post OOTP include a flirty Luna
  • Restrictions: No non canon deaths; hopeful or happy ending
Quod Timet

Amans semper quod timet esse putat--A lover always thinks that what he fears exists.
--Ovid




“Ron not back yet?” Ginny asked resignedly, sliding into place across from Hermione.

“No…I expect Snape’s being difficult…keeping them through dinner just because he can.”

“That might be it…” Ginny frowned absentmindedly at the spoonful of potatoes she’d just served herself. “Or, of course, Luna might have finally succeeded in getting her point across, in which case there’s another reason for it. Pass the gravy?”

“What do you mean?” The gravy was passed.

“Oh, it’s this thing she has for him…she seems to think the most likely way to get him to notice her is to trap him alone with her whenever possible.”

“I beg your pardon?” Hermione’s tone had noticeably frosted over.

“What?”

“Are you saying that Luna has a crush on Ron? And is actively ‘pursuing’ him?”

“Yes…”Ginny gave Hermione a puzzled look. “You can’t mean you haven’t noticed? Everyone has!”

“I haven’t…hadn’t! When did this happen?”

“Oh…well…” Ginny looked down at her food. She had never had Hermione’s feelings confirmed, but the look on her friend’s face at the moment seemed a pretty good indication. In which case, it might be taking Luna’s life into her hands to answer. But there was no hope for it now. “She’s…rather fancied him for a couple of years now. And last year she started thinking that perhaps she should try for him.”

She chanced a glance up, and followed Hermione’s gaze. Judging from her expression, she was really staring at a mental image of Ron with Luna, but in the real world she was staring particularly venomously at Ernie MacMillan, who was sitting at the next table. Ernie, like the proverbial moth to flame, had found his eyes drawn to meet hers…and, like the moth, been burned to a crisp. Ginny, her head turned to watch, saw his cheeks pale and his jaw drop. Before he could be irreparably damaged, she snapped, “Hermione!”

“What?” Hermione refocused on her friend before moodily orienting on her plate and stabbing her beef viciously. Rivulets of juice began trickling out of the meat, filling the cuts with dark liquid. Behind Ginny, Ernie fell backward off the bench.

“Erm, nothing.”

Ron appeared in the doorway, Luna trailing behind him. She stopped him for a moment, smiling happily up at him while tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, revealing an asparagus-shaped violet earring. Ron smiled back down at her. Hermione pulled a piece of beef off her fork tines and ground it angrily between her teeth before very carefully wiping her mouth with her napkin.

“’Lo, Hermione, Ginny.” Ron sat beside Hermione and started reaching for potatoes.

“How was detention, Ron?” Hermione inquired pleasantly, her napkin still in both hands.

“Usual,” he grunted. “Removing tongues from Doxies. Near as anything got scratched by the teeth, and Luna was. I had to take her up to the hospital wing for the antidote. She asked me to stay with her while Madam Pomfrey injected her…she nearly broke my hand. She must have a thing about needles, she seemed really scared about it…”

Hermione stood up, shoving her napkin beneath her plate. “Ron, I’ll come and find you in half an hour or so. You have a Charms essay due tomorrow I know you’ve only written half of.”

“Sure, Hermione,” Ron replied, obviously startled. He and his sister looked after her warily as she stalked toward the door, stepping over Ernie’s unconscious body as though he were a floor fixture, completely oblivious to the anxious Susan bending over him. They watched her shoot a lightswitch smile at a waving Luna before going out the door. She must have kicked the doorstop: the heavy door slammed shut behind her. A bewildered look in his eyes, Ron turned to his sister. “What was that about?”

Ginny shrugged.

Glancing at her food, she spotted a tightly wound bit of cloth below Hermione’s plate rim. Pulling at it, she found she was holding up Hermione’s napkin…twisted into an unmistakable hangman’s noose. She let it dangle from her fingers, unsure of what to do with it. Then she glanced up to check on the unfortunate Hufflepuff.

Ernie had been persuaded to wake up by extreme applications of cold water. Sitting up, he caught sight of the deadly napery swinging ominously, the white linen contrasting vividly with the tapestry behind it. He passed out again.

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

Hermione came marching up to them through the hallways of Hogwarts with a purposeful step.

“Ron! There you are! I thought you’d forgotten you were supposed to meet me. Hallo, Luna.” There was a sickly sweet smile on her face that was so obviously artificial even Ron noticed.

“Hallo, Hermione.” Luna’s voice was imperviously dreamy, as always. “Ronald and I were just discussing Nargles. Did you want to borrow him for something?”

“We’re going to study, Luna,” Hermione informed her, eyes narrowed. She wrapped her arm around his, tucking her hand into the crook of his shoulder; she didn’t seem to notice his shock when she touched him. “He may be able to finish your discussion when I’m ready to let him go—he needs me, you know, for so much. Come on, Ron.”

“Oh, good; Ronald is having so much trouble with his Charms essay and I’m sure you’ll be able to help him with that. I’ll see you later then, Ronald?”

“Yes, of course Ron will see you later, won’t you, Ron?”

Ron had been watching the two of them in bemusement…well, really he had been watching Hermione, her skin pink and her eyes sparkling from the heat of battle. “Er, what? Oh, yes, right. Right. See you later, Luna.”

He submitted tamely to her tugging, following her down the corridors.

“Erm…Hermione?”

“Yes, Ron?”

“Is something the matter?”

“No, of course not, why would you think so?” She was clearly going to remain unperturbed if it killed her.

Ron looked at her askance, but decided that he knew better than to push it just now. He knew that tone of voice. It was the tone that had hissed “This is such a waste of time. I could be practicing something useful. I could be catching up on Cheering Charms--” right before she had told a teacher where to get off. He frantically fished for another excuse. “Erm…well…I do know the way to the library, you know.” 'Idiot'! Horror-struck at what he had just implied, he stared at her hand on his arm, willing her to leave it where it was.

“Well, you certainly should! After all the time we’ve spent in there…” Hermione followed his gaze. “Oh.” She dropped her fingers with a sheepish grin.

'Nooo!' Ron’s inner voices howled. 'Fool! She was touching you! Couldn’t you think of anything else?'

While he was busy castigating himself—'C’mon, prat, think of something, say something, get her arm back through yours, don’t mess this up, you were so close, you could almost smell her hair'—she appeared to reconsider. She tossed a small, contemptuous glance back over her shoulder. And she grabbed his hand.

He was in such pleasurable shock that he let her march him back to the common room in silence.

When they got back through the portrait hole, Hermione steered him to their usual table and dumped him unceremoniously in a chair across from where she had already laid out her own work. Harry was slouched in a chair near the fire, brow furrowed as he studied the Charms text for details on Bubblehead charms, but Ron didn’t dare say anything to him when all Hermione had given their friend was a short nod.

Hermione got Ron to work on his essay and began work on a translation for Ancient Runes. She was still acting rather flustered, but contact with her books seemed to have steadied her somewhat.

Ron couldn’t concentrate. Walking back he had been unable to get quite as close to Hermione as he would have liked. However, the table was narrow, and Hermione was leaning quite far forward to study the charts she’d laid out above her translation. Stealthily, he slid his parchment a little farther across the table and to the left, imperceptible millimeters each careful second, until his parchment was level with hers, although facing the other way.

Hermione was muttering irritably to herself as she checked and rechecked her charts and books. She looked very focused, and Ron said a silent prayer that she would continue so. He slanted his body out so that he appeared to be reading over his earlier work, his head drawing level with hers. Trying to be subtle, he breathed in…there it was, her scent: mostly coffee that was almost a third cream (he smiled to himself, thinking of her mouth disappearing behind her mug as she scribbled essay outlines and highlighted key passages), the old-leather of the library, and the vinegary traces of ink, but there was the faintest hint of something else, something he could not quite put his finger on, what was it…his eyes were half-closed in concentration.

She suddenly sighed loudly.

“Hermione?”

“Yes?” Ouch. Not in the best mood, still. But he’d said something now.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t concentrate, all right? And it’s not like you’re doing much better, sitting there with that asinine expression on your face; are you too busy focusing on other things to concentrate?”

Ron started guiltily…that was a little too near the mark. Hermione seemed to notice. “Well, stop it! I took you away so that you could study, not…” She blushed a hot scarlet.

“Right, right, sorry.” His knew his ears were a familiar maroon and sensed her glaring at him as he hurriedly went back to scribbling charm details. After a few seconds, she banged her book shut and shoved it deep into her bag. Looking sideways, he saw that Harry (who had been wisely silent as she put Ron through his paces) chanced a glance up from his fireside seat, but he said nothing. Probably wise. She still had her bitch-slapping expression on...he let a fond smile drift across his face, thinking of the look on Draco's face the day she'd landed him a good one.

Letting the smile linger on his lips, Ron looked up. “Are you finished? I thought you said you had a couple of hours worth to do, and I know you’ve not had that much time since you got me from Luna—“

“Oh, for heaven’s sake! You don’t have to make it sound as though I threw her out of your clinging arms!”

Ron immediately lost his grin and hunched his shoulders. Hermione didn’t often lose it quite this badly. To be sure, no one was in earshot at their current vocal level…except Harry…but it was obvious the conversation had the potential to ring the rafters the way “Well, if you don’t like it” had. An open, half-full common room…but it was a bit late now.

“You were perfectly willing to come…at least you didn’t fight me…probably relieved to get away from her, the little—“

He was still bewildered by the sudden onslaught. She’d just finished yelling at him for trying to figure out her scent, what was all this about? Hermione seemed to take his expression as a denial of her accusations.

“Yes, well, if you weren’t, you should have been. Honestly! At least I can call you by your name, can’t I? Who calls you Ronald, except your mother?” A faint stirring…'"Vare is Herm-own-ninny?"'…

Harry, as though he couldn’t help it, snorted, although he flipped to a new page. ' "… How can she like anyone who can’t even pronounce her name? He doesn’t even know who she is!"'

“But I’m sure you’ll overlook anything for blonde hair and big blue eyes…that’s all it’s ever taken for you to make a total fool of yourself over someone who’s completely the wrong age for you…”

Harry snorted again, rather louder this time, but Ron was too lost in his echoes'"…Oh, come on, he is so too old for her, what is she thinking?"'

“First that tart who was far too old for you, and now this girl! She’s too young! You can’t possibly have a successful relationship with someone less mature than you are, as you’re well behind the normal rates of development yourself, you oaf--”

Hey!

“And how mature can she be if her idea of flirting with a man is deliberately getting him into trouble and then arranging to have him take care of her? Holding her hand while she gets a shot, it’s a wonder even you didn’t see through that one, talk about ulterior motives…”

Harry appeared to be having trouble with allergies, Ron thought distractedly, hearing his own voice years ago: '"Yes, well, that’s his story…he knows who you hang around with…"'

“She must have some kind of impairment to think that trapping you in detentions with her is going to get you to notice her…”

The fourth snort was so loud that even Hermione had to notice. “What, Harry? Is something caught in your throat?”

“No, no…” he smirked at her a moment. “I just think that last comment was a bit rich, coming from someone whose idea of flirtation is a really well-outlined Potions essay and whose idea of foreplay is a blazing row in the middle of the common room.” He closed his book and began gathering his materials, ignoring Hermione’s swinging jaw. “I think I’ll finish this up in the dorm. Goodnight.” And he strode out. 'Foreplay? Flirtation? Hermione? But she said the same things I think…feels the same way I do…can she?' Perhaps it was time to gamble...win or lose it all on one perfect shot...

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

Hermione closed her mouth and swallowed hard, tears stinging her eyes. Wasn’t it bad enough without Harry coming right out and telling him? She glanced at Ron’s face and immediately looked away from the dawning revelation in his eyes.

She began to pick up parchment and quills, putting them back into her bookbag. She was plugging her inkbottle when his hand fumbled for her wrist. “Hermione?”

She looked up at him miserably. Slowly, he raised her hand to his face and kissed the back of it. “I love you.” She stared at him. He turned her hand over and kissed her palm. “Love me?” The happiness was so swollen and uncertain inside her that all she could do was nod. He walked to the end of the table, pulling her with him, and pulled her, half-stumbling, to his side, where he could whisper in her ear. “What say we find a place we can indulge in some more traditional foreplay?”

With a little cry, she buried her face in his shoulder a moment, shaking her head affirmatively. She then tried to go back to finish her packing, but he caught her and swung her around. He sent her toward the portrait hole with a little push, and when she tried to protest, nudged her again, laughing. She smiled up at his antics and let him chase her out.

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

Epilogue

Luna Lovegood was on her way to Defense Against the Dark Arts, with her friend Ginny trotting beside her. Luna was humming the latest Weird Sister’s love song to herself, deliberately taking the path to the classroom that passed by Professor Flitwick’s door. She knew that Ronald had Charms next and he could usually be seen waiting for the room to open, talking to Harry or a few Hufflepuffs and ripe for a swift hello.

Today was different.

Ronald’s voice reached her before the sight of him did. “Aw, c’mon, Hermione—“ a faint trace of a scowl passed over Luna’s forehead “—it doesn’t matter if just one essay is a little late, does it? It’s too late to do anything about it now…and it was worth it, wasn’t it?”

Luna came around the corner and stopped dead. Ron’s tone, half-anxious, half-pleading, half-teasing, had been a nebulous source of worry…he was usually far more defensive when Hermione was scolding him about his homework…but this was far worse. He was standing far to close to the brunette, and he was holding her hand.

Hermione spotted her former rival around Ron’s shoulder. A thoughtful look passed over her face. “C’mon, Hermione, wasn’t it?” She relented, allowing a smile to form on her lips.

“Yes, it was.” She reached up to plant a soft kiss on his lips. It was clear this was not the first time that had happened. It was fairly obvious that whatever had happened last night had taken the time that should have been devoted to half a Charms essay.

”Luna!” Ginny snapped.

“What?”

“Erm, nothing. Let’s get to Defense, we’re going to be late.”

“Of course.” She marched on, flashing a lightswitch smile at Ronald and Hermione, stepping over Ernie MacMillan’s unconscious form as though it were a floor fixture.

Finis

Please forgive the sensitive sweater man Ron. He was worse before the beta beat it out of me. And every fangirl has to be allowed her dreams.
    Author’s Notes:

  • Zillions and billions of thank-yous to , and , for their beyond brilliant beta jobs. This story makes so much more sense now!
  • Thanks to , , and for talking me through the bumps; for the muse torture; and for being excellent friends and suffering through the ordeal at the same time; and Chase for motivating me to hate men enough to let Hermione do it
  • References: HP Lexicon for knowing what order the tables are in; and ChineseMoon for writing such an accurate Luna; Latin Proverbs: Wisdom from Ancient to Modern by Waldo E. Sweet for the title; also what Viktor says is a direct quote from PoA, and of course the chars are JKR's.
  • Thanks also, naturally, to for doing this for all of us!
  • The asparagus and the Nargles are my own private jokes and if you can spot why, fifteen points to your house and a “Get out of detention free” card…or, if you prefer, “Detention alone with the snogging partner of your choice.” Make it fifteen for the Nargles and fifty for the asparagus…it’s pretty dang obscure.
//
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