Watching Her Watching Him
Quiet settles over the Gryffindor common room as the fire flickers low in the grate. Most of the students are still enjoying a leisurely evening meal, but we've rushed to get back to the Tower. Ron thinks the Hall's too noisy. He says he can't concentrate on his chess strategy with all that racket, so he'd rather play up here. He didn't bother to ask what we preferred, of course, but I don't mind and I don't think the others do, either. It's so peaceful with the four of us, up in the tower, alone. I burrow into my favorite armchair in the corner and begin to leaf through my tattered copy of Care of Magical Creatures, tucking my feet up under me. You really should get going on your homework, I mutter. I try to concentrate, but I can't stop watching them. Well, really... watching him.
As my eyes are drawn to the game yet again, the firelight seems to dance over Ron's hair, making it look alive. The shadows linger in Harry's hair, eerily creeping over his shoulders to be absorbed by that dark, shaggy mop. He runs his hands through it until bits stick out in all different directions. It looks as though a crazed bird has nested on his head. Ron must be winning again. Harry doesn't seem frustrated, but his eyes are narrowed and he concentrates fiercely on the board in front of him. He never seems to mind losing, even though he tries his best to beat Ron -- every single time. I wonder if Ron realizes just how unusual that is. I can't imagine another boy accepting repeated defeats in anything so easily, and I know my brother would explode and refuse to play any more if the situation were reversed. I add yet another bit of knowledge from my Harry-watching to my list of things to wonder over late at night.
Work, I tell myself. That scroll is due tomorrow. But even as I grab my book, determined to start on my homework, I feel my glance sliding back towards the boy sitting in the shadows. There's always such a shivery, hopeful feeling of anticipation when I look at him, but tonight it's combined with a strong bit of impatience and annoyance. Will these boys ever figure it out?
A soft rustling of papers makes me look towards the hearth. Over near the fire Hermione is pretending to work, stroking Crookshanks and scribbling in her notebook. She's cleverly positioned herself so she faces Ron. She can watch without him ever realizing that she is concentrating on him, rather than the chess game or her notebook. The funny part is, she doesn't realize he's watching her just as intently. I get almost dizzy, watching them. He looks up, she looks down, he looks down, she looks up. It's like a dance - The Dance of the BushyBrainy and the RedheadedWeasley. I stifle a laugh, wishing I could share that one with Harry without those two hearing it. Of course, I'd have to explain it to him first. With a soft "humph", I begin writing on my parchment, but moments later my eyes have drifted back to the trio.
Hermione's eyes shine in the firelight and her face softens with a quick glimpse of suppressed emotion as she watches Ron consider his next move. My breath catches in my throat when I see her. It's a good thing neither of the boys glanced up just then, because her expression would have shocked them speechless. She'd better be careful. But, I know I'm just as guilty of not being careful enough when I'm watching Harry. We're hopeless, I tell myself. We want them to catch on, but we don't want them to know we're watching them, and we certainly aren't going to give them any hints! Shaking my head, I cover my mouth with my hands to muffle the bits of laughter that are trying to escape.
Finally, I abandon my attempts to work and risk another long look at Harry. He's entirely focused on the game, doesn't even realize I'm here. With a soft, disgusted sigh, I bend and pick up my scroll once more. Hermione's eyes meet mine, both of us well aware of the reasons we aren't getting any work done. We each give a half-shrug and a small, self-conscious grin. I hug my arms to myself and sink back into the cushions of the chair, knowing my face is glowing as red as my hair. I'm glad that no one else is there watching me, watching him.
Author's Notes: Inspired by Marta's "Trio " illustration at the Art Dungeon. I just couldn't get this picture out of my head.
Thanks once more to my beta, Chary, for gentle criticism and guidance!
All standard disclaimers apply. This is not my world, I just play in it.