Authorís note:† This story was written
before Order of the Phoenix, so
donít be alarmed by any inconsistencies.†
That being said, I donít think youíll find many things that seem too
off, even after OOTP.
A Crazy, Stormy Evening
"Hermione, are you awake?"
"No, sound asleep."
I rolled over on the pullaway bed so I was on my side facing Ginny. My eyes
could only make out her outline: arms wrapped tightly around the neck of a
stuffed cat, chest moving slightly up and down as she gazed at the ceiling with
wide eyes. A flash of lightning illuminated the room, suddenly, and she buried
her face in her pillow with a squeal. "I hate storms," she moaned,
her voice sounding muffled," I can't sleep through this." Her declaration
was punctuated by an impressive explosion of thunder that prompted even me to
nestle further into my sheets.
I squeezed my eyes shut, then opened them again. I wasn't tired, I realized.
I suppose the storm was getting to me, too.
"We don't have to sleep, you know," I said over the wind's whistle
and the rude rattle of the shutters. "We could talk."
"Good idea." She yawned, and then clapped her hands together once,
halfheartedly.† The little lamp resting
on her nightstand flickered slightly.†
Grumbling, she tried again, a bit more loudly and deliberately.† This time, the lamp flared with a modest
light that cast a glow throughout the room.†
†"I hope you don't
mind," she said, "It's just that I get scared when it's dark. In a
thunderstorm, I mean."
"Not at all," I assured her. I liked a little light, and I had to
marvel at the convenience of a source that wasn't dependent on the stability of
outdoor wires. "You know," I remarked, "Wizard kids are lucky. I
remember there would be power outages during storms when I was growing up. I
would be too scared to get out of bed in the dark, so I'd have to wait there by
myself and hope my mother would eventually come rescue me with a
flashlight." I glanced at Ginny, who looked bewildered. "Flashlights
run on batteries, like your dad collects."
"Oh, I get it," she said, but I could kind of tell I had lost her
at the phrase "power outages". I decided not to give her a crash
course in electricity; she seemed to be suffering enough already. I noticed the
way she jumped a little every time the house creaked, which it did a lot. The
Burrow, I had to admit, was a scary place to ride out a thunderstorm.
"Do you think the boys are asleep?" she asked, as another noisy
clap of thunder seemed to shake the floorboards.
"I can't imagine how they could sleep through this."
"I don't know. You'd be surprised what my brothers can sleep
through." I thought of Ron, snoring softly through Professor Binns'
lectures, and allowed myself an appreciative giggle. Usually, I tend to be more
of a chuckler, or even a snorter, but being with Ginny in a thunderstorm made me
want to giggle like a girl.
My entire week of sharing a room with the youngest Weasley had been a
refreshingly different experience for me. Ginny was a true girls' girl, despite
her surplus of brothers, and I was constantly aware of the changes in me when I
was around her. I didn't feel the need to think so much before I spoke, for one
thing. Something about Ginny Weasley made me want
to confide in her.
I came close, then, to confiding to her one of my deepest secrets- one that
embarrassed me greatly, and one that was to be revealed a few hours later
(though not in a manner I would ever have imagined). At the moment, however, I
was interrupted by a low moan that might have sounded like the wind, except the
sound was coming from directly outside Ginny's door, and it was broken up by
choppy bits of laughter.
"Go away, Fred and George!" Ginny yelled, obviously annoyed to
have a good conversation about boys put on hold for the sake of "those obnoxious
identical gits". The twins, however, apparently viewed her acknowledgement
of their presence as an invitation, grinning as they swaggered into Ginny's
room and shut the door behind them.
One twin planted his blue pajama-clad backside on
the foot of Ginny's bed, while the other turned her desk chair around and
straddled it, resting his chin on its back. "Ow, George, you're smushing
my feet!" Ginny complained, removing them from underneath her brother's
bum and using them to nudge him away. I was impressed at her ability to tell
them apart, especially in the half-light.
"So sorry," said George, resettling so he was sitting, not only on
Ginny's feet, but on her ankles and calves as well. Ginny rolled her eyes.
"What are you doing in here, anyway?"
The twin on the chair, evidently Fred, ran his fingers through his tousled
hair and grinned. "We're here to protect you. We know how you are in
I raised my eyebrows. "You came to protect us by standing outside
Ginny's door and moaning like sick cats?"
They laughed good naturedly at this, and Ginny stretched her hand out to
give me a high five.
"The lady has a point," said Fred.
"Did we scare you?" asked George.
Ginny smiled smugly. "Better luck next time."
"But it was a valiant effort," I added. I find that late at night,
I tend to use words like "valiant".
George stretched and covered a yawn with one large hand. "So, can we
join this little slumber party, or is it girls only?" he asked.
"Girls only," said Ginny, "But I suppose you'll refuse to
"I suppose you're right," said George regretfully. Fred sighed and
shook his head. "When will we ever learn?"
Ginny couldn't help but laugh a bit. "All right, I give up. But you
have to be nice, okay. And you have to do what we want to do, or leave."
"Fair enough," said Fred agreeably, "So what's on the agenda
"We could do each others' hair," suggested George.
"And makeup!" exclaimed Fred.
"Don't you wish you had brothers?" groaned Ginny.
"Okay, we'll be serious," said George, "What does one do at a
slumber party, anyway?" For some reason, everyone was looking at me, like
I was supposed to be the supreme authority on girly friendship rituals.
I tried to remember back to my pre-Hogwarts days. I had sort of half-belonged
to a group of girlfriends- awkward types like myself, still uncomfortable with
their own intelligence. I was never really close to them; we were at the age
where girls are just beginning to notice boys, except with me, it didn't happen
until later. Until Hogwarts, actually. Now I'm rather proud that I was never
one of those prepubescent love machines, obsessing about the opposite sex
before I even knew what sex was. At the time, however, it was somewhat of a
liability to my social life, being the only girl at the slumber party who
wanted to talk about books.
I remembered one particularly wretched party, one night of red-faced, steamy
confessions from the depths of our nine-year-old souls. It was the first and
only time I had ever played the game "Truth or Dare", and I still
blush remembering how carelessly the lines of privacy and modesty were crossed.
Having no desire to passionately kiss my teddy bear, I had picked
"truth", and had been forced to select, from three choices, the
gangly fourth grade boy I would be most willing to French kiss. What I did not
tell my friends was that, not only did kissing not interest me in the
slightest, but I had no idea how the French supposedly did it. Confused and
embarrassed, I had spent the rest of the night sitting in my friend's bathtub,
reading and trying to figure out exactly why I was crying.
"Hermione, that's a great idea!" exclaimed Ginny, jolting me back
to the present. "How do you play again?"
"Huh?" I asked, rather stupidly.
"Truth or Dare. A girl in my year told me about it once, but I forgot
how you're supposed to play it."
Truth or Dare- had I somehow accidentally suggested Truth or Dare? I hated
that game, loathed it, despised it.
"I've heard of it," said Fred. "You get to pick. Either you
answer an embarrassing question, or you do something embarrassing. Either way,
you humiliate yourself."
"Sounds fantastic," declared George, "Shall we begin?"
"Wait, I'm not so sure I want to..." I began, but a loud clap of
thunder drowned out my voice as I expressed my reservations. I looked at
Ginny's excited face- she hadn't even seemed to notice the thunder- and decided
it wasn't worth repeating. How bad could this be? †It was only Ginny- and (gulp) Fred and George.
Then, suddenly, there was a halfhearted knock at the door, and in stumbled a
sleepy looking Ron and an only slightly more alert Harry. Apparently, none of
Ginny's brothers felt the need to wait for an invitation to enter her room in
the middle of the night.
ďWe heard you guys talking," said
Harry, and Ron nodded with a yawn. I stole a glance at Ginny, who was wide-eyed
and nibbling on the nail of her index finger. Even in the minimal light, I
could tell she was blushing.
"Join the party," welcomed Fred, "You're just in time for
Truth or Dare. Who's going first?"
Harry, Ginny, and I stared blankly at him, George smirked, and Ron just
yawned again. "Okay, then. I guess that would be me," Fred said,
shrugging. "Somebody give me a dare!"
"All right," said Ginny, "I dare you to go downstairs and
fill Percy's shoes with chocolate pudding."
George quickly reached over and covered her mouth. "That doesn't count-
he would do it anyway. Try to think of something creative."
He could French kiss Ginny's stuffed animal, I thought, but kept it to myself.
I had no desire whatsoever to watch that.
"I've got it!" declared George, looking dangerously smug. "I
dare you to sneak in and steal some of Mum's makeup, put it on, and then we'll
take a picture of you."
Fred, well up for the challenge, blew a kiss at the five of us, and strutted
out the room. He returned five minutes later, arms laden with what were
apparently the cosmetics of witches. "Oooh, I'll help him put it on,"
volunteered Ginny, eagerly opening a small compact and applying it to her
brother's freckled cheeks with a large brush.
"Isn't it kind of dark in here for that?" Harry asked uncertainly,
"What if you mess up?" Ginny shrugged. "Witch makeup is
different than Muggle makeup. It doesn't really matter if you put on the wrong
color or too much or anything, because it evens itself out."
"Hey, turn the light on anyway," requested Ron, who seemed to have
woken up a bit. "I'd like to see the full effect."
"The full effect" was indeed interesting, and George gleefully
captured it on camera. "We're sending this one to Angelina!" he
announced. Fred simply batted his newly thick, black eyelashes.
George, seeming almost jealous of the fun his twin was having, insisted upon
going next; naturally, he requested a dare. This time, Ron was inspired.
"Okay, here it is. You have to make up and recite a love poem to someone
in this room. A passionate love poem."
George shrugged. "Rather juvenile, but I reckon I could have fun with
it. Does it matter who I pick?" He was looking at me, naturally enough, I
suppose. I was the only girl in the room who wasn't his sister.
"Um, not Hermione," Ron said suddenly. "Do it
George raised his eyebrows. "A dare is a dare, I guess," he said.
He clasped the hand of a scared looking Harry, cleared his throat dramatically,
and began. "His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad- ow!"
Ginny, cheeks as red as a fresh tomato, had immediately given him the slap
he deserved. She then proceeded to scrunch herself into a fetal position, her
face buried in the stuffed cat.
George, vaguely aware that he had gone a bit far, dropped Harry's red hand
(Harry's whole body was blushing), and tried to make Ginny laugh by tickling
her feet. Much to my delight, she kicked him.
But then, the loudest, most ominous thunderclap of the evening sent Ginny
catapulting into George's arms (he was, after all, sitting at the end of her
bed). He patted her head awkwardly, seemingly relieved to have been forgiven so
quickly. "Well, I'm glad you've moved on with your life," he said
breezily, but you could tell he still felt guilty for embarrassing her.
"So are you next, or what?"
"Fine," Ginny said, "Truth." I saw Ron's eyes light up
as he glanced back and forth from Ginny to Harry. Oh no you don't, I thought.
The poor girl had suffered enough humiliation for one evening.
"Okay, I'm asking Ginny's question," I declared, before Ron could
even open his evil mouth. "Which Hogwarts teacher, past or present, do you
think was the best looking?" It was a shallow question, I realized, but at
least she wouldn't have to admit to Harry that she still fancied him after all
Ginny seemed relieved, and barely batted an eye as she gave the most obvious
answer; Professor Lockhart, for all his faults, was the most physically
attractive. "Thank you," she mouthed to me. I winked.
The boys were less satisfied. "What kind of a question was that,
Hermione?" demanded George. Ron rolled his eyes, and Harry actually looked
somewhat disappointed, if I may say so myself.
"Pretty weak," concluded Fred, "For that, you have to go
"That's fine," I lied. I bit my lip- I hated this game. The words
"truth" and "dare" opened the door to so many dreadful
possibilities; I could hardly begin to imaging what brand of torture the twins
would dream up for me.
"Dare...I guess," I finally said. Whatever they asked me to do, I
told myself, it couldn't be worse than admitting to Ron that thing I didn't
want to admit, and admitting it in front of everyone. Fred and George smiled
wickedly at each other. I was beginning to find them extremely unfunny- and
they were starting to make me nervous.
"All right," said George, "We'll make it simple. All you have
to do is kiss our baby brother Ron."
"Big, wet, and on the lips," specified Fred, gesturing to his own
lips, which still bore traces of his mother's makeup.
I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. The room suddenly seemed very
I could just walk over there and do
I dared a glance at Ron, who looked positively stunned, and rather green.
Everyone in the room was watching me and grinning. There was only one thing to
"Hermione, where are you going?" I was vaguely aware of Ginny's
voice calling after me as I fled the room. Thunder rumbled quietly around me, building
to a crescendo as I burst into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. If
only I had a book, I thought desperately, as I lowered myself into the empty
bathtub, my knees cradled to my chest.
This was not how it was supposed to happen, I thought miserably. My love
story was supposed to be sweet and spontaneous- not a dumb joke, and certainly
not a dare. I hated all of them, I decided. I hated Fred and George for
dreaming up the stupid dare in the first place. I hated Harry and Ginny for
looking so amused. I especially hated Ron for looking so bewildered and
unhappy. He could at least pretend I'm a real girl, I thought, burying my face
in the sleeve of my purple pajamas. Stupid git.
An uncertain knock at the bathroom door interrupted my healthy bout of
self-pity. I sighed noisily, settled myself into the most dignified position
the bathtub would allow, and mumbled a quick "Come in". Harry
shuffled sleepily into the room, pulled the lid down on the toilet, and sat on
it like it was a chair. He peered at me inquisitively through his glasses; even
when he was half asleep, those green eyes seemed to take in everything. I
shifted uncomfortably and stared at my hands as he started to speak.
"So, um," he began in that awkward boyish manner, "You have a
problem with Ron or something?"
I looked at him, surprised. I had been expecting a clumsy attempt at
comfort, a weak assurance that Ron hadn't meant to look so repulsed by the
prospect of physical contact with asexual me. Ron was, after all, immature.
But instead, Harry was almost glaring at me from his perch on the Weasley
toilet, as he might have confronted anyone who dared to mistreat his best
"What are you talking about?" I asked weakly, the implications of
my own rash departure dawning on me. I thought of Ron as I'd left him, Indian-style
on Ginny's floor in his maroon pajamas, thinking I had a problem with kissing
Well, it's a good thing he doesn't care, I thought, and expressed as much to
"No offense, Hermione," he said, rolling his eyes to the heavens,
ďbut you're being stupid. You know
he...well...you're just being stupid. You know what I'm talking about."
"No, Harry, I don't. Why don't you explain it to me."
Harry blew a stubborn piece of hair out of his face and regarded me
impatiently. "If you don't know, then I shouldn't be the one to tell you.
But- just tell me what's the matter with Ron. You don't fancy his looks, is
"Don't be ridiculous, Harry!" I felt my cheeks reddening as I
lowered my voice to add, "Ron looks fine, okay?"
Harry made no effort to hide his frustration. "Well, what's the
"I have had enough of this!" I exclaimed, standing up in the tub
so I was looking down at him. "Why are you treating me like I'm some kind
of...I don't know... heartbreaker, out to toy with the emotions of your best
friend? I'm supposed to be one of your best friends, too, Harry, or didn't you
Harry looked so surprised and hurt by my outburst that I began to feel
rather guilty. "Look, Harry, I didn't mean to yell," I said softly,
"It's just- well, look at me." I gave him a moment to drink in my
mismatched pajamas, rebellious hair, sleepy red eyes. "I'm no Fleur
Delacour, you know? I don't think Ron is crying over me."
"Oh, honestly," muttered Harry, "Hermione, you'll forgive me,
won't you, if I tell you to shut up?"
"There are more polite ways to get your point across."
"Well, I'm afraid I was raised by the Dursleys, and therefore never
properly learned manners, especially late at night. So you're just going to
have to believe me when I tell you that we love you how you are, and we think
you're pretty amazing, even when you're being ridiculous. Like you are now. So
will you please take a minute here to work through your issues, then come back
with me to Ginny's room? Please!"
I looked at him, yawning on the Weasleys' toilet, struggling to keep his
eyes open behind his crooked glasses. The Boy Who Lived looked about ready to
pass out from exhaustion. Far from my initial impulse to slap him, I fought the
urge to give him a suffocating hug.
"We can go back," I said.
"Great! Great idea!" Then he actually pulled me back to Ginny's
"Hey, Harry?" I said softly, just outside her door.
"Thank you." Suddenly, I felt very shy. "For what you said.
And for making me come back."
"Hey, no problem," he said, grinning sleepily. "After all,
bringing you back here was my dare."
In the middle of the night, with the storm still raging around us, all I
could do was laugh.
"Nice work, Harry," said Fred, jumping up to shake his hand as he
led me into the room. Everyone was still positioned exactly as I'd left them:
Ginny in her bed, with George by her feet; Ron on the floor by mine. Harry
resettled facing him, and Fred reclaimed his chair. "Well," he said
lightheartedly, "Who's next?" He had to be kidding.
"Ron's the only one who hasn't gone yet," said Ginny. "Ron-
truth or dare?"
He was quiet for a moment, and I became very aware of how hard the rain was
hitting the roof. Finally, he answered, "Truth."
Suddenly, Harry piped up, "Let me ask the question. And Ron, you have
to tell the truth."
"Well, duh," began George, but Ginny quickly shushed him.
"Ron," asked Harry plainly, "Did you want Hermione to kiss
Ron was silent. I couldn't decide if I wanted to break for the bathroom
again or give Harry a hearty beating with my pillow. I ended up doing neither,
for the simple reason that I wasn't altogether certain that I would be able to
breathe again until I heard Ron's answer. I struggled to keep my expression
blank as I glanced around the room. The twins were positively beaming. Ginny
was gnawing nervously on a fingernail. Everyone was staring intently at Ron-
except Harry. Harry was looking straight at me.
I looked quickly away and found myself staring at the back of Ron's head-
the magenta ears, the flaming hair I knew so well. He reached back behind his
neck, nervously scratching an itch, or
"Yeah," he said finally, and so miserably that even Fred and
George found nothing to tease about, "Yeah I did." He shrugged his
shoulders. "Look, can we go to bed now, or something?"
"If you're that tired," said Ginny, who looked wide awake herself,
and very excited. "But why not sleep in here? I'll go find some extra
pillows and blankets."
"Fine," said Ron dully.
I opened my mouth to say something to him, but everyone was watching, so I
quickly shut it again. I was torn between a sudden desire to speak with Ron
alone, and a desperate need for everyone to stay, to salvage any normalcy from
a crazy, stormy evening. My relationship with Ron, I realized with a
combination of excitement and dread, was about to change irrevocably.
"All right, here's the blankets and stuff," presented Ginny,
bursting into the room. "It's past three- I suppose we should get some
sleep." The boys nodded and yawned, a physical reaction to Ginny's
announcement. They quickly established themselves on the floor, surprisingly
docile about letting us retain the beds. Ron, I noticed, was stretched out next
to my pullaway, the vibrant colors of his face and hair subdued by the
A half hour later, I was still noticing Ron stretched out by the pullaway.
And another half hour after that- ridiculous, really, though, that I should be
expected to sleep after an evening like this. I stole a glance at the dozing Ron;
my eyes, well adjusted to the dark, could make out his freckles and the ginger
eyelashes fanned out across his cheekbones.
Suddenly, the two rows of eyelashes separated with a snap, and Ron, pupils
dilated but wide awake, stared back at me. He seemed not to know what to do
with his mouth, experimenting first with a tiny smile, but eventually forcing a
yawn and holding the classic post-yawn mouth position.
"So...um...lovely weather we're having tonight," I whispered over
the low rumble of the weakening storm.
"Yeah," he agreed halfheartedly, without a glance at Ginny's
"I mean it," I said, desperately chasing away any awkwardness that
threatened to hover between us. "I suppose I like storms, you know, when
everything's all scary and urgent and dazzling..." Ron gave me a quizzical
kind of glance from the corner of his eye. I tried not to look at him as I
continued. "And then, when it's about over, but the sun hasn't quite
broken through yet, and time seems suspended-"
"Like right now?"
"Exactly. It's peaceful, don't you think, and eerily beautiful."
"Yeah." A moment's silence, and then, "Um, Hermione?"
Ron's voice cracked a bit. "Were you very scared by the thunderstorm
I sat up in bed and looked down at him. Ron looked terribly anxious, and
suddenly I felt very warm. "You're not talking about the weather, are
Ron stared at me, wide-eyed and pale. Wordlessly, he shook his head.
"Oh, right. That," I said, sighing nervously. "I guess I owe
you an apology." With a wry smile, I motioned for him to sit next to me on
"You asked if I was scared...yes, I was. Very. But not because," I
glanced sideways at Ron, who was sort of staring at his knees. "I'm no
good at this, Ron. What I'm trying to say is that I shouldn't have left. And I
didn't want to leave. I just thought- the expression on your face..."
Ron appeared to consider this for a moment before he responded, "Well,
I reckon you're not as smart as we all thought you were. Harry says I'm
I shook my head. "I thought so, maybe, for a while, but then I figured
I was wrong. You can't learn this stuff from a book, Ron, or work it out
logically. It's the opposite of logic."
"I kind of like it that way." He was smiling now into a fist, his
other hand idly patting one of Ginny's stuffed animals. My cheeks felt hot, and
I imagined they were roughly the color of Ron's pajamas. I had no idea what to
do next, no idea how this scene was supposed to play. I had only the vaguest
notion of how it should end. Luckily, the next line seemed to be Ron's.
"How come you got away with not completing your dare?"
"I did, didn't I? Well, that hardly seems fair..." And so I kissed
him. It was the only thing to do. A bird chirped, and I noticed the storm was
finally over and the sun was rising. The entire world, it seemed, had been
poised, waiting for this moment.
Ron looked at me and smiled. "Good morning, Hermione," he said.