The Sugar Quill
Author: Scout  Story: One Week  Chapter: Tuesday
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Chapter Two: Tuesday

Chapter Two: Tuesday

 

 

 

She has been restless the whole night, tossing and turning and her brain too full of thoughts for her to be able to relax and sleep, so really, she is glad when morning finally comes. Even though her eyes are stinging from tiredness, she gets up determined, for she has come to a decision.

 

Yes, she’s been feeling odd lately, about Ron.

 

Yes, she’s been having sensations such as heart pounding and stomach churning when he’s near.

 

Yes, she’s been feeling almost like (and even in her mind the words hush to a whisper,) she fancies/likes/cares about him very much. In fact (because if she can’t be honest to herself, then who can she honest with), it almost feels as though she loves him, or something silly like that.

 

But. (And it’s the ‘but’ that’s important, she thinks.)

 

But. Now that she’s been able to reflect on the matter the whole night, she has very firmly decided that these feeling’s, that could be very easily misconstrued as ‘love’, are in fact simply a heightened regard for a person she counts as one of her best friends, and whom she knows she will miss very much when the school year ends and they all go their separate ways. And there was nothing wrong with that, no sir. Furthermore, the reason she has not felt the same about Harry is that of the three of them, he has been the most independent from the group, throughout their adventures and so forth. Whereas she and Ron have, through no fault of their own, been thrown together much more in the course of their seven years at Hogwarts. So. It was only natural that she would feel more towards him.

 

But it was not an issue at all.

 

She runs through this in her mind as she splashes water on her face, and it all makes perfect sense. She laughs at herself now. How ridiculous to think she was in love with Ron. She was very glad she had reviewed the situation, and reached this very sensible, logical conclusion. Now she could go about her business as usual, without all those extra things distracting her. Now she could face Ron as she always has, and everything would be the same, and normal, and fine.

 

There. She feels refreshed, and ready.

 

Closes the door to the dorm, and heads down to breakfast.

 

* * * *

 

“Alright.” Ron says to his reflection in the bathroom mirror. “Now this has gone far enough. No more funny business. We are talking about Hermione here, ok? Your friend Hermione! So just get over whatever this stupid thing is, before she starts thinking you’re in love with her or something ridiculous like that. Because your not.”

 

He stares sternly at his face.

 

Your not.”

 

“Not what?” asks Harry, who has wondered in, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

 

“Nothing,” says Ron. “Nothing at all.”

 

* * * *

 

At breakfast, they greet each other heartily, perhaps even a little over cheerfully, each one thinking that they need to show the other that everything is fine.

 

And though it is a little slow on the uptake, they are soon chatting and joking as all friends do, and everything feels like it is back to normal, and they are both pleased with themselves.

 

It was nothing after all. 

 

* * * *

 

In their free period, in the library, just before lunch, Harry pulls Ron aside.

 

“So….what’s going on?” he asks.

 

“What do you mean what’s going on?”

 

“I mean with you and Hermione! You guys have been acting weird all day, even worse than yesterday! Its like you’re both in a competition to see who’s the chummier friend for goodness sake!”

 

“I don’t know what you talking about,” says Ron stiffly.

 

“Um, right, ok, so your telling me that nothing whatsoever is going on between the two of you, right?”

 

“What could possibly be going on, we’re friends like we always have been, where’s the problem?”

 

“Lets review shall we? Yesterday, you avoid each other as much as possible, and act so uncomfortable when you actually are together. But today you’re really playing up on the ‘being mates’ thing! Could it be any more obvious what’s going on?”

 

“Nothing’s going on! I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Ron protests again. But his confidence has suddenly deserted him, and now he’s not so sure.

 

“Listen. I think maybe it’s time.” Harry says cryptically.

 

“Time? Time for what?”

 

Hermione is walking over to them.

 

“Think about it,” he finishes quickly, before she comes within earshot. But Ron only looks at him with a bemused expression on his face.

 

“What’s the hold up, we won’t get a good table if you don’t hurry up,” she says crossly.

 

“Sorry,” they mumble, Ron rolling his eyes, and they seat themselves.

 

And when she brushes his hand to open a book, and runs her tongue over her lips in concentration as she sometimes does, and his heart starts fluttering so rapidly its as if there is a bird stuck in his ribcage, he groans. All that progress, gone!

 

He curses under his breath.

 

“Bloody Harry.”

 

* * * *

 

Why is he acting strange all of a sudden? She tries to concentrate on her book. They are halfway through the day already, not long to go now! Just hold out a bit longer.

 

But the more she tries, the less easy it becomes. His nervousness radiates like the sun, seeping into her skin, spreading through her body, until she too is anxiously tapping her quill against the table, or flickering her eyes sporadically in his direction.

 

She moans inwardly. What is this?! What happened?!

 

“Its time to go!”

 

Ron’s voice pierces her contemplation. In his hurry to get up and out of the library, he clumsily scoops up his parchment and knocks over an open bottle of ink.

 

“Oh no!” She jumps up quickly, rummaging through her bag for something to wipe it up with, his hands covered in black, Harry saying “Good one Ron.”

 

“Here!” she thrusts some tissues into his hands, and they both lunge forward to wipe the table, heads meeting in a bang in their haste.

 

“Oww! Careful Hermione!”

 

“Careful yourself!” she snaps. “I’m just trying to help clean up you’re mess!”

 

“Geez…” he breathes in annoyance, and their hands keep bumping into each other as they wipe, and she hates that she even notices.

 

“Our lunch is going to go cold,” points out Harry, who has rescued their books from the table.

 

“I can’t go like this!” complains Ron. “My hands are covered in ink! How am I going to get this off!”

 

“You go on ahead Harry, and save us a seat. I’ll take care of this,” commands Hermione briskly, and though she doesn’t say it, Ron can just hear her thinking “yet again.”

 

“Its fine, I can do it myself!” he says, suddenly angry.

 

“Oh don’t be so unreasonable.” She reaches for her wand, but he pulls away.

 

“I said I can do it myself!” He is being difficult and he knows it, but it’s somehow satisfying to be able to vent like this, and make her mad too.

 

“Fine!” she retorts, “Good luck!”

 

He watches her stalk off, and it is only when he is alone does he realise that she is right, he can’t even hold his wand right now let alone perform a spell with it. He heaves into a chair, anger slowly turning to a heaviness in his chest, and he wishes he wasn’t so stubborn, but more than this, he wishes he could stop thinking about her the way he was.

 

* * * *

 

“Where’s Ron?” asks Harry when she catches up with him.

 

“I left him behind, stupid git, he refused to let me help him.” She is still steaming, and Harry sighs.

 

“Maybe I should go back then,” he says, turning around.

 

“No, wait. Ughhhh.” She heaves in frustration. “I’ll go back. I’ll see you after ok?”

 

“Sure.” He says, staring after her as she heads back to the library, and hoping one of them will break soon.

 

* * * *

 

When she walks in, he is sitting in the same spot, hands dangling helplessly, looking quite dejected, and her anger dissolves.

 

 “If you’ve come to gloat,” he says gruffly, when he sees her approaching, “you might as well leave now.”

 

“I haven’t,” she says and pulls out her wand.

 

She picks up his right wrist gently in her free hand, points her wand, and in the utterance of a few words, the wet ink vanishes. Does the same with his left.

 

The place where she touches him prickles slightly, and he bites his lip and looks away.

 

There is a long silence then, until he breaks it by saying softly, “Thanks.”

 

She stares at his face, and is overcome by the need to touch it.

 

“Its nothing,” she says hastily, “lets go eat, I’m starving!”

 

He nods, looking down at his wrists once more before following her out.

 

* * * *

 

The afternoon flies by, with more awkwardness then Hermione would have liked. There was, for example, that moment in Herbology when he backed up into her to make room for Madame Sprout’s trolley full of fresh fungus (excellent for treating acne, she said). She was suddenly faced with the back of his neck, and the look he gave her afterwards, when he hastily turned around and moved away, like he had touched something extremely hot.

 

But worse, she thinks despairingly, was after their last class of the day.

 

They had been in the walking through the hallway back to the common room, and Harry and Ron had been punching each other mockingly (not that she has ever approved of this of course) when unexpectedly, Ron came hurdling towards her, having been pushes extra hard in her direction (on purpose? She is still trying to decide) by Harry.

 

She saw him coming.

 

Willed herself to move.

 

But for some reason, her feet refused to obey the command.

 

He had knocked into her full force, sending her careening to the floor, him not far behind.

 

And oh! It was awful! He was on top of her, and they were both breathing heavily, and when he lifted himself off her slightly with the palms of his hands it was worse, so much worse, because then she could see his face, staring down into hers, and her head had started pounding. Or was that her heart?

 

Then it was all blue, everything was blue, because she was looking straight into his eyes, and they looked like sparkling pools of water, right there on his face, and she was lost, and found, and the colour was stamped into her vision, so that now, it is all she can see.

 

And then, then came the most dreadful part of all, when his lips had quivered, as if he was trying hard not to smile, and she could see his eyes crinkling in the corners, and he whispered softly, so softly, “Sorry”, and they had both swallowed, and in the background she could here Harry laughing, she thinks, but she’s not sure because all she could hear was Ron’s voice, and Sorry, Sorry, Sorry ringing in her ears. And then he is gone, his weight gone, swiftly, in one movement. He had reached his hand down then, and she had taken it, shy all of a sudden, and he had pulled her up and said, “Are you ok?”

Maybe she nodded, she can’t really remember, as she is still numb from it all, and they hadn’t spoken much during dinner.

 

Her face creases with anxiety.

 

There is still Quidditch to go.

 

* * * *

 

She refuses to go back on her word, doesn’t want them to think anything’s changed since yesterday when she had said she would come.

 

They are walking now towards the pitch, and its colder out than she thought it would be, and she is shivering slightly.

 

“Are you sure you want to come?” asks Harry for the hundredth time.

 

“Yes!” she says, exasperated. “I’m fine!”

 

“But you don’t even really like Quidditch….” he says, and Ron is watching her intently, she can tell.

 

“I do like Quidditch, I’m just not a die hard fan like you two. But I like watching. And its nice to be out in the evening sometimes, so what’s the problem?”

 

“No problem…” Harry says, and drops it, because he knows what she’s like when she’s pushed to far, and they arrive and she settles in the stand.

 

* * * *

 

Ron must admit, he’s nervous.

 

Having her there, watching him closely, without the distraction of a crowd and other team members playing with him (aside from Harry), it feels so much more personal, and he is keenly aware of her presence.

 

He mounts his broom, and they kick off, flying smoothly upwards until they reach playing level. Ron really wants to practice his defence, so Harry has the Quaffle in his hand, ready to throw at him.

 

“Ok,” he says to himself, under his breath, “concentrate. Just pretend she’s not even there.”

 

* * * *

 

It’s horrible.

 

He misses most of the throws, and Harry keeps yelling at him to focus, to watch the ball, to control the broom.

 

He doesn’t think he has ever played this badly, not even in the backyard. And he has improved so much, why now of all days must he act like such a total and utter failure?

 

Harry flies over to him after the better part of an hour races by.

 

“Are you ok?” he says frankly, “Because I hate to say it, but you’re playing really badly, and honestly, you usually you don’t!”

 

“I’m not feeling very well,” he lies, “maybe we should stop for the night.”

 

Harry eyes him closely, as if he can read right through the fib. But he shrugs his shoulders and says, “Sure, if you’re not feeling well we should stop playing.”

 

They descend slowly, and Hermione, having noticed they were done, walks down to meet them.

 

Ron can’t bring himself to look at her. He is humiliated, and so tired of never being good at anything, because actually, he had really wanted to show how much he had improved. To show her he had talent. That he could match Harry.

 

That he wouldn’t always be behind.

 

Instead, all he has succeeded in doing is proving what she probably already knows.

 

That he can’t even play sport properly. That he isn’t any good at anything.

 

He shakes his head in disgust. Now why, he thinks laughingly, would she want to have anything to do with someone like that?

 

“Someone like me.”

 

“Like you what?” she asks.

 

He hadn’t realised he had said the words aloud. Hadn’t, in fact, realised just how much he cared about what she thought until right then.

 

So much that it scared him. That it made his breath come out shallow and oddly paced.

 

“Nothing,” he mumbles. “I’m not really feeling well, so I’ll see you guys back at the castle. You take your time though.”

 

He heads off quickly, not bearing to stay behind to see her sympathetic looks, at poor Ron, who can’t even stop a ball from going into a hoop.

 

Hermione glances at Harry.

 

“What happened up there?” she asks.

 

“Don’t know. He just choked, couldn’t do it. Maybe he was nervous.”

“That I was there?”

 

“Who knows. Listen, I just have to put the ball back and grab my stuff, give me a sec ok?”

 

“Actually…” she says, a little unsurely. “Actually, I think I’m going to catch up with Ron. Make sure he’s ok. Do you mind?”

 

And she’s off, running after him, calling his name to make him stop.

 

* * * *

 

He thinks he can hear his name, in the wind, somewhere, and he turns around.

 

Her face is flushed from running, and she gasps out “Glad I caught you!” between heavy breaths.

 

He says nothing.

 

“So I noticed you weren’t flying your best out there.”

 

The question seems out of the blue, he never imagined she’d ask him.

 

“I…I wasn’t feeling well.”

 

“I see.” They have stopped now, and he is scuffing his foot nervously into the grass, hands in his pockets, wishing he could be anywhere else in this moment but here.

 

Without warning, she touches his shoulder gently.

 

“Why were you so nervous playing in front of me?”

 

Her voice is soft, as if she doesn’t want to scare him, like she is talking to a child.

 

“I wasn’t!” He reacts immediately, jumping backwards, eyes wide, tips of his ears growing red even in the dark.

 

“Really?” She is not being sarcastic, or cruel. She wants him to be honest.

 

He pauses then. Takes a breath.

 

“I…that is….I mean I…” He is stammering, wanting to tell her, but afraid of what she’ll think. “I guess I didn’t want you to think I couldn’t play” he finishes finally, hurriedly.

 

“But I already know you can play!” She seems genuinely surprised that he would think otherwise.

 

“No I can’t, not really,” he says miserably. “I just fudge my way through the game usually, I never really know what I’m doing. Now Harry, he can play.”

 

She is overcome with tenderness for him, for his insecurity, and because he has chosen to share it with her.

 

“Oh Ron,” she murmurs, “When are you going to stop comparing yourself to Harry?”

 

“I’m not comparing myself to Harry,” he says stubbornly.

 

“Yes you are, and you needn’t do it. I know what you’re thinking – that he’s good at everything and you’re not. That – ”

 

“No I’m not!” he bursts out. “I’m thinking that everyone is better at everything than me, I’m no good at anything! Its not about what Harry can do, its about all the things I can’t!”

 

His whole face has dropped in unhappiness.

 

“What about the things you can do?” She asks.

 

“Like what? Annoy people?” he replies sarcastically.

 

“Well there is that,” she says with a half smile, “but other things too.” She moves forward, and surprises herself by taking his hand. She is speaking softly now, and it feels so very intimate, and he is that stunned by this gesture that the breath is knocked out of him.

 

“Like,” she continues, “how much you care about people. About your friends. You show it all the time, you defend us all the time. And your loyalty. And the way you make people laugh.” She pauses. “The way you make me laugh.”

 

They are standing very close now, and her voice is almost a whisper.

 

“And how much you want to be somebody! And you can, even though you think you can’t! I think you can. You are. Already I mean.”

 

She is incoherent now, rambling, and she doesn’t even know what she’s saying, just that she has his hand in hers, and that she can feel his breath on her face, and she thinks she might be about to tell him something big, really big, except there’s someone else there too! She drops his hand in surprise, and recoils, startled.

 

“Well, well.”

 

Malfoy.

 

His drawling voice breaks the almost something that was about to be.

 

“What are you two doing lurking about outside, or would you rather tell that to Professor Snape once I let him what I’ve found?”

 

“Shut it Malfoy!” snarls Ron. “We were walking back from Quidditch practice. And we have a note giving us permission from McGonagall. What’s your excuse for being out this late?”

 

Malfoy’s lip curls in resentment.

 

“Don’t think that’s any of your business Weasley, or your filthy little girlfriend’s either.”

 

In an instant Ron’s hands have lunged forward, grabbing him by his robes. It is a tense situation. They are no longer boy’s, but practically men, and Hermione fears that the long standing hatred between them will one day erupt into who knows what.

 

“Ron!” she says loudly, forcefully, tugging him away. “C’mon, we have better things to do than waste our time with him.” She sniffs in his direction distastefully.

 

They are still glaring at each other, but she manages to make Ron move inside, pulling his arm firmly until they are behind closed doors.

 

He is scowling. “Wish you would have let me punch him out.”

 

“What good would that do? You’d be the one getting into trouble, and he would love to see that.”

 

“It would make me feel good, for a start!”

 

“Yeah, well.” She is suddenly nervous, has remembered what they were doing before Malfoy had interrupted. He remembers too.

 

“So.” She looks away, and is so overcome with embarrassment that she wants to crawl away, under her bed maybe, and never come out.

 

“Should we get going upstairs?” he says, surprisingly taking control.

 

“Ok.”

 

And as they are walking up the stairs, he turns to her abruptly, and grabs her hand, as she had done, and says “Thanks. For what you said before.” His hand is cold and clammy.

 

“Your welcome.” She can’t look at him, and why does she feel like she wants to cry?

 

He squeezes lightly before letting go, and they continue up the stairs. When they enter the common room, he speaks first.

 

“I’m really beat, I think I’ll just go straight to bed.” He gives her a sideways glance. “Um…goodnight then.”

 

“Goodnight.” She tries to smile, but can’t stretch her mouth far enough.

 

He is gone just in time. She blinks rapidly as the tears start to fall, and she doesn’t know why exactly, only that she is drained, and has said too much, she thinks, and what if he knows? Knows what she herself didn’t know until moments before. Or at least didn’t want to know. And the worst thing is, she knows, she just knows he doesn’t feel the same way, does he?

 

Her head feels fuzzy, dizzy almost, and she has to sit down. She sinks into a chair, confused, and there is too much to think about now, and too much has happened today, and all she wants to do is lose herself in sleep, and wills it to come quickly tonight.

 

* * * *

 

Safe in his room, Ron sits heavily on the bed.

 

Everything is quiet, except his mind, which is whirring and whirring, and there is too much sound.

 

She is speaking and he is speaking and he knows that something has changed now, and it is definitive, and it is frightening, and it is wonderful, and it is too much to bear.

 

He inhales slowly, deeply, and waits.

 

For a sign of what to do next.

 

For tomorrow to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//
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