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.
* * * *
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.
“Not what?” asks
Harry, who has wondered in, rubbing his eyes sleepily.
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
It was nothing
* * * *
In their free
period, in the library, just before lunch, Harry pulls Ron aside.
on?” he asks.
“What do you mean
what’s going on?”
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,
possibly be going on, we’re friends like we always have been, where’s the
“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?”
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
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.
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,
He curses under
* * * *
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
inwardly. What is this?! What happened?!
“Its time to go!”
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.”
thrusts some tissues into his hands, and they both lunge forward to wipe the
table, heads meeting in a bang in their haste.
yourself!” she snaps. “I’m just trying to help clean up you’re mess!”
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
“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
“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.
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.
* * * *
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
“Maybe I should go
back then,” he says, turning around.
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
* * * *
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
“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.
* * * *
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
She saw him
Willed herself to
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
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?”
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,
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.”
* * * *
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
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.”
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?”
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.
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.
“What happened up
there?” she asks.
“Don’t know. He
just choked, couldn’t do it. Maybe he was nervous.”
“That I was
Listen, I just have to put the ball back and grab my stuff, give me a sec ok?”
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
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 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.
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,
“But I already
know you can play!” She seems genuinely surprised that he would think
“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
“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.
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.
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
Malfoy’s lip curls
that’s any of your business Weasley, or your filthy little girlfriend’s
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
“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
“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.
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.
She can’t look at him, and why does she feel like she wants to cry?
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.
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
* * * *
Safe in his room,
Ron sits heavily on the bed.
quiet, except his mind, which is whirring and whirring, and there is too much
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
He inhales slowly,
deeply, and waits.
For a sign of what
to do next.
For tomorrow to