Harry and Ginny were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, hoping that
Neville would hear the thought waves they were sending him and go upstairs
to leave them alone. The boy, however, was oblivious, slouched in one
of the padded chairs, and the most that Harry and Ginny could get away
with was a game of footsy beneath the table.
The Fat Lady's portrait pulled aside and Hermione stormed in, muttering
under her breath. Harry took one look at the hunch of her shoulders and
knew immediately that he dare not say a word. Neville and Ginny were also
staring, and then pointedly not staring as Hermione stormed past and up
the stairs to the girls dormitory.
The three stared after her in silence.
"Do you think you should go up and talk to her, Ginny?" asked Harry.
"Oh, no!" she said. "Judging by her stride, she needs a good half-hour
to herself before anybody dares approach. Good thing Lavender and the
rest are off at Hogsmeade."
"What did Ron do now, do you think?" asked Neville.
Ginny rounded on him. "Why do you always assume that my brother is responsible
whenever Hermione goes off in a huff?"
Harry stared at her. "Ginny-"
"No," said Ginny. "Ever since Ron and Hermione went to the ball together,
everybody assumes that every spat is a lovers quarrel!"
Harry and Neville continued to stare at her. "Ginny-" Neville began.
"Hermione has plenty of people that get her upset. Draco, the Slytherin
girls, Snape. But do you think of these possibilities these days? No,
it's always my brother this, and my brother that. It's about time somebody
stood up for him!"
"Ginny," Harry cut in. "Ron's standing right behind you, and he looks
Ginny whirled around and caught Ron as he staggered and almost fell.
Neville and Harry were on their feet instantly and the three together
pulled Ron into one of the chairs. A nasty bruise was developing around
his right eye.
"Neville," Ginny snapped. "Ice. Now." Neville scampered off.
"What happened?" gasped Harry.
"Hermione and I had a fight," Ron croaked.
"Again?" said Ginny. "What now?"
"It was nothing," said Ron sullenly.
"Hermione never gave you a black eye before," said Harry. "Come on, what
"Well," said Ron, after a lot of prodding. "We were up in the tower room,
looking at the stars for Astrology, and I invited Hermione out for Valentine's
"And she hit you?" Harry stared at Ron, bewildered.
"No, she said yes. Then she asked where, and I suggested dinner at the
"And then she hit you?" asked Ginny.
"No. She said that was fine. And she suggested some place to go dancing."
"Did you say no? Is that why she hit you?" asked Harry.
"No!" snapped Ron. "Let me finish. It was all going well, and I... we...
"Ooo!" said Ginny. "On the lips?"
"Ginny!" Harry exclaimed. He turned back to Ron. "Did she hit you then?"
"No," said Ron. "Anyway, after we kissed, then I... whispered a pet name
into her ear."
There was a pause.
"And then she hit you?" said Ginny.
"In the eye?" said Harry.
"First she kneed me, and then all I saw was her fist rapidly filling
up my vision," said Ron. "I feel a little dizzy."
"Ron, you know how she hates nicknames!" said Ginny.
"But punching him in the eye?" Harry exclaimed. "My God, Ron, what did
you call her?"
Ron drew into himself. "Nothing."
Ginny glared. "Come on, Ron, tell us."
"Well... I likened her to the Goddess of Love."
"The Goddess of Love?" said Harry.
"What was wrong with calling her Venus?" said Ginny. "Other than having
it sound stupid?"
"No, no," said Ron. "The other Goddess of Love."
Harry thought a minute. "Aphrodite?"
"She hit you for calling her-"
"No," said Ron. "I changed it. I combined it with the diminutive of Hermione."
Harry and Ginny thought about this for some time. Then Harry lowered
his head into his hands. Ginny gasped. "You called her Hermaphrodite?!"
"And then she hit me."
Harry groaned. "Oh, Ron, you poor, poor sod!"
"It'll be at least a week before she speaks to you again," said Ginny.
"Has Neville got that ice ready?" Ron groaned. "Anybody know a pain-killing