The Sugar Quill
Author: Mr Flying Fingers (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Imperfect Moment  Chapter: Default
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Imperfect Moment

~

McGonagall always uses green, Ron thought as he examined the two letters in his hand. He slowly clomped up the stairs to the room he and Harry shared at Twelve Grimmauld Place, not wanting to return to cleaning up. Mum is going spare getting this place sorted.

Entering the dingy room he shared with Harry, Ron looked up at his best friend, who was standing on a chair and sweeping off the top of the wardrobe. “Booklists have arrived,” Ron said, “About time, I thought they’d forgotten, they usually come much earlier than this.” He handed the dark haired boy an envelope and started to open the one addressed, Ronald Weasley, Room Off the Second Landing.

Just how did an owl find me? Isn’t this place supposed to be unplottable? I suppose McGonagall delivered it in person.

Still standing on the chair, Harry broke the wax seal as Ron scanned his own letter. Harry noted, “Only two new ones, The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5, by Miranda Goshawk, and Defensive Magical Theory, by Wilbert Slinkhard.”

Ron grunted as he glanced over the second page of his letter and confirmed Harry’s observation. He then turned his eyes to the welcome letter, I wonder if McGonagall ever changes these.

With a crack, Ron’s twin brothers Apparated next to Harry’s chair. They’re such gits, always showing off.

“We were just wondering who set the Slinkhard book,” said Fred.

George continued, “Because it means Dumbledore’s found a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.”

“And about time too,” replied his twin.

“What d’you mean?” said Harry.

Returning to read his welcome letter, Ron’s chest clenched. This has to be a joke. Harry and the twins continued their discussion of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but the conversation just couldn’t keep his attention.

 

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class,
Grand Sorc., Chf. Worlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)

Dear Mr Weasley,

The faculty of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry hopes that the summer holiday has been agreeable even as you anticipate the coming school year. Start of term is September 1st when all students are to embark on the Hogwarts Express, Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station, London. As is customary, lists are enclosed detailing the required supplies and books.

As you are undoubtedly aware, it is also customary that Hogwarts select two students per House for each year from five through seven as Prefects and two additional students as Head Boy and Head Girl to assist the faculty in maintaining Hogwarts’ high standards of conduct. The 48 boys and girls nominated by the faculty and confirmed by the Headmaster to be Prefects have each achieved a high level of excellence in their marks, discipline and character.

On behalf of the Headmaster and the faculty of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I am pleased to offer you congratulations for your selection to the position of Prefect representing the Gryffindor fifth year boys.

Mr Weasley, I have known you for four years, and have experienced firsthand your maturation and increasing skills as a wizard. You come from a family distinguished by its success at Hogwarts—success that continues on after leaving. I have no doubt that you will continue that fine tradition.

Please report to the Prefects’ Carriage aboard the Hogwarts Express at 11:15 AM, September 1st, for a one hour Prefects’ meeting with the Head Boy and Head Girl.

Once again, I offer hearty congratulations on behalf of the Hogwarts faculty.

Sincerely,

Prof. Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

 

Ron was stunned as he read the letter again. Is this really addressed to me or are the twins playing some sort of cruel joke? Looking at the outside of the envelope, he was sure he had opened the right one. Ron turned the letter over in his hands. It looks like it’s for real. Ron looked at his two brothers. The twins don’t look like they’re playing at something.

Fred’s voice broke into his thoughts, “What’s up with you, Ron?” Confused and at a loss for words, Ron could only open and close his mouth.

Fred walked over to peer over Ron’s shoulder, “What’s the matter?”

Ron’s mind swam to cope with the excitement and pride he felt as the conversation swirled around him.

Oh, nothing’s the matter. Prefect. Everything fine. It’s only a Prefect letter. I’ve been named Prefect. That’s all. Everything’s normal. I’m Prefect. A-OK. Right sorted, I am. Prefect.

Actually, everything’s perfect at the moment. Prefect.

“Prefect? Prefect?”

George leaped forward, grabbed Ron’s hand that held the envelope and turned it over. A gold and scarlet badge fell into Ron’s hand.

“No way,” said George quietly.

“There’s been a mistake,” said Fred, grabbing the letter and examining it, “No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect.”

Ron started at this comment. His ears started to feel warm. Well, I think somebody is in their right minds because they didn’t pick either of you two clowns. They picked me.

As his own brothers stared at Harry, Fred broke out, “We thought you were a cert!”

George continued, “We thought Dumbledore was bound to pick you!”

“Winning the Triwizard and everything!” said Fred.

Ron’s chest clenched again. Oy, why are they surprised that it’s me?

“I suppose all the mad stuff must’ve counted against him,” said George to Fred.

“Yeah,” said Fred, slowly. “Yeah, you’ve caused too much trouble, mate. Well, at least one of you’s got their priorities right.” Fred stood by Harry and clapped him on his back. “Prefect…ickle Ronnie the Prefect.”

The twin’s teasing bothered Ron as he felt his heart sink. I thought Harry was a cert, too. Is this his badge? McGonagall, er, Professor McGonagall congratulated me by name. So it must be mine. It has to be mine.

“Ohh, Mum’s going to be revolting,” groaned George, handing the badge back to Ron.

Ron handed his best friend the badge; Harry took it and looked it over.

The door banged open and Hermione flew through the doorway. Ron’s breath caught in his throat as she looked at his badge in Harry’s hand. She’s so pretty when she’s happy. This prefect thing means night patrols, right? Wicked. This is turning out to be a rather perfect day.

“I knew it!” she said, the excitement in Hermione’s voice as evident as her Prefect’s letter in hand. “Me too, Harry, me too!”

Wait a minute.

“No.” Harry is saying no. Handing Ron the badge, Harry clarified, “It's Ron, not me.”

Ron rubbed the back of the badge nervously. Hermione thinks the badge is—

Hermione stuttered, “It – what?”

—Harry’s?

“Ron's prefect, not me,” clarified Harry.

She does.

A confused squeak came from Hermione, “Ron?” Hermione looked lost. Please, PLEASE tell me I don’t look this pathetic when I’m gaping at somebody. Well, at least it’s not me getting embarrassed.

Ron’s eyes narrowed a bit.

Y’know, I could rub this thing all day long. Back. And forth. Back. And forth Back—OW! What the, who made these things with the bloody pin exposed?

Continuing to finger the badge in his hand, Ron’s mind churned in irritation. Yes, it’s my badge. I earned it. Just like Bill earned his. Just like Charlie earned his. Just like Percy earned his. Even if he is a stupid git, he still worked for his badge.

Thinking of the many Weasleys who had come before him as Prefects, even Head Boys, Ron wondered if anybody cared about another one. There’s been so many of them—us—US! Professor McGonagall even said that. Still, it is my own badge, and it means I did something right. Being Prefect is…amazing. Y’know, maybe that old mirror knows me better than I know myself.

Oy! One down so this means that I’m only behind Charlie in the Quidditch department. And, y’know, Wood is gone. That means that Gryffindor will need a new Keeper, won’t it? Tryouts are usually the first week. I’ll be there even if I have to use a school broom.

It dawned on Ron that Harry seemed unusually quiet. He hasn’t even congratulated me yet. Is Harry jealous that Dumbledore didn’t pick him? And why is Hermione acting like a real git? Maybe she’d rather be with Harry….As prefect that is.

Maybe I don’t measure up to either of them in talent, Galleons or brains, but this is mine.

“It’s my name on the letter.”

“I…” Since when has she ever been at a loss for words? “I…well…wow!”

Just shut it Hermione, I don’t bloody need to hear your bloody mumbling over some bloody lame excuse. Yes, Ms. Granger, I’m watching my LANGUAGE. Watch this language: Bloody. BLOODY. BLOODY HELL. You can try to take ten points from me, but you can’t. I’m a bloody prefect, too. Brilliant!

“Well done, Ron! That’s really—”

“Unexpected.”

Git. WWN Flash: “Best Friends and Family Don’t Expect Ron Weasley to Accomplish Much. Update at Eleven. Now, a word from our sponsor.”

This isn’t the way it should be, shouldn’t there be celebrating and smarting off and hugging and…and…definitely hugging? Is something wrong?

Hermione blushed and sputtered, “No, no it’s not…Ron’s done loads of…he’s really…”

So that’s it. I’m just a fool to her. To them. Harry Potter, the hero, cupboard boy who did you-know-what to You-Know-Who at great personal expense. He can’t learn heroism from me. Hermione Granger, the smartest witch who hasn’t cheated on anything but time. She definitely doesn’t need me around, skiving off class and stealing homework.

I hate feeling like I’m the reserve squad.

Because it’s Ron Weasley: court jester; expendable knight; third of the three. Might as well be the luggage porter for all the notice I get: “Thanks for helping, Ron. Make sure you get the trunks. Get the owls and cat properly stowed this time and mind the trolley, would you? We’ll save you a seat on the train.”

Ron wondered how things would be different if he had sat in his brothers’ compartment on his first journey aboard the Hogwarts Express. Maybe I wouldn’t be hiding in the shadows of boy wonder wizard and genius witch-girl here. I’d be blazing my own path.

Would that be perfect?

He thought about a life without his best friends, Harry and Hermione, and the thought left him with a void in his stomach. Harry’s my best mate. Hermione, I can’t stay mad at her, I mean, just LOOK at her.

Resolve filled Ron.

It’s my job to be standing by them; not the other way around—watching out for gits like Malfoy. Oy, now that’s a rich thought, imagine the look on ferret boy’s face when he sees my badge and I dock him 10 points just because. This is going to be great!

Hearing his mum coming up the stairs, Ron wondered if she would react to his news just like she had for his brothers. I hope Mum and Dad haven’t gotten too used to having prefects in the family.

Ron—the youngest Weasley male—felt better about the day. Maybe they’ll let me have some sort of reward. Oy! A new broom? He dared hope. And then I can see about catching Charlie. Now THAT would be bloody perfect!

~

Acknowledgment: Thanks to ivy for her much appreciated beta help and suggestions. TLaw also gets a shout out for his comments.

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