The Sugar Quill
Author: satine  Story: Every One Unique  Chapter: Default
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Every One Unique

“Oh come, Ron! You know it’ll be fun!” She grabbed the bright red sled by the side of the door and pulled Ron down the stairs.

“I must be mad to let you talk me into this,” he said, but he knew he couldn’t refuse her.

-----

It was Christmas and Ron had invited Harry and Hermione to spend the break with him at the Burrow. That morning, Ron and Harry had woken up to a soft knocking on their door, followed by Hermione rushing into the room and hugging them both while joyfully muttering, “Happy Christmas!” Ron’s eyes had flown open when she had thrown her arms around his neck and held him tightly. He had climbed out of bed, a grin plastered on his face, and started towards the pile of gifts by his bed. Harry was already ripping open his first present.

“Wow, Hermione! That’s fantastic!” said Harry, who held a thick book in his hands. Ron couldn’t believe Harry would get so excited over a book - that was, until he caught a glimpse of the title: Quidditch Through The Ages: Special Collector’s Edition. Now even Ron was impressed. He looked closely at the present Hermione had given him. It looked like a book. He wrinkled his nose and pushed the present to the side, to open last. Soon, they had opened all of their gifts. Harry sat by the foot of his bed, wearing a blue Weasley sweater with a large ‘H’ embroidered on it and biting into the Chocolate Frogs Ron had given him. Ron sat next to Harry, Hermione on his other side, and felt the Peppermint Toads hopping in his stomach; they had been part of Harry’s gift for him. He remembered he still had Hermione’s present to open and reached over her to pick it up. Hermione quickly put her hand out to stop him.

“Open it later,” she whispered. Ron nodded and just then he noticed the snowflake charm bracelet around her wrist. He felt his ears turn a deep shade of red and he turned to face Harry, but Ron was inwardly pleased that Hermione was already wearing it. When they got up to go down to breakfast, Hermione stopped Ron at the door.

“Harry, you go ahead, we’ll be right down,” she said. Harry shot them a curious look and then shrugged and proceeded towards the stairs. Once Harry had left, Hermione reached for her gift to Ron. “Here,” she said, “Open it”. He took it from her, intrigued, and tore the paper off.

The Chess Player’s Guide to Strategy,” he read aloud. His hopes fell to the pit of his stomach. After everything Hermione had done, he had expected something a bit more exciting. Instead, he had gotten a book, a bloody book. He should have known; he had known.

“Not that you really need it,” Hermione whispered, her voice barely audible, “but there’s more”.

“More?” Ron opened The Chess Player’s Guide to Strategy and a bit of parchment fell out of it. It was folded in half and when he opened it, a small, round, glass disk fell into his hand.

“It’s a crystallinus charm.” She pulled an identical disk hanging on a chain out from under her shirt. “I have its brother. They’re supposed to bring good luck and clear the minds of the wearers. They’re also supposed to establish or maintain an emotional connection between the wearers of the charms. They come in pairs.” She blushed furiously as Ron thumbed the charm. “I know I don’t usually believe in this kind of thing, and it’s usually nonsense, so I have good reason.” Ron smiled at the memory of her storming out of Professor Trelawney’s Divination class. “But they’re very nice, and, oh, I don’t know. It just seemed… right.” Now, Ron joined her in blushing.

“Thanks, Hermione,” he managed, and she could tell he really was grateful. He pointed to the charm bracelet he had given her. “You know, every one of the snowflakes is different, like real snow.” Hermione’s hand flew to her wrist and she fumbled with the different snowflakes. Ron knew that this had always fascinated her, that every year billions and billions of snowflakes fell, each one unique. When she smiled up at Ron, he smiled back.

“Come on. Let’s go downstairs,” she said.

-----

“Where exactly did you get that slad anyways, Hermione?” Ron asked, as she pulled him outside and into the snow. It was quite cold outside, and he was glad they had worn their warmest hats, gloves, and cloaks.

Sled, Ron. Not slad. And, well, I had written to my parents about how enchanting it is when it snows here and how I haven’t been sledding since I started going to Hogwarts. They sent it to me with my Christmas gift so we could use it,” she explained.

“Oh,” Ron muttered. He looked at the sled warily, it seemed rather flimsy to him, “and you say Muggles sit on them and slide down hills?” Hermione nodded and Ron chuckled. He could almost picture Hermione sitting on that bit of red plastic and throwing herself down a hill. They would look absolutely ridiculous, he decided.

Hermione rolled her eyes, but she had to contain her own laughter. Ron laughed now, but she couldn’t wait to see his face when they sped down on the sled. She was sure he would be terrified, just as she had been at first.

Harry had stayed behind at the Burrow that afternoon. When Hermione had mentioned sledding his eyes had widened and he had let out a nervous laugh. “It’s alright, Hermione. You take Ron and have fun sledding,” he had said, “I spent all morning outside with you two and I have to, er, talk to Fred and George about something anyways. Yes, I have to talk to them,” he had said, as if reassuring himself. Hermione figured he had had a bad experience with sledding and assured him they would return shortly. She had felt awful leaving him behind and had tried to talk him into coming along, but he had refused and she wasn’t about to miss out on taking Ron and seeing his reaction.

They had been walking for a while now, though quite slowly for the snow was thick and high, and they took turns dragging the sled behind them. Hermione’s nose was pink from the cold and she was breathing a little harder than usual, Ron noticed. Their journey had been mostly uphill, and had gotten steeper recently, but Ron had managed, using his long legs as an advantage. Hermione interrupted his thoughts by stopping and dropping the sled. Ron turned and looked around. They had climbed to the top of a large hill and Hermione was positioning the sled to face the bottom.

“We’re finally here,” she exclaimed as she sat down on the sled enthusiastically, almost causing it to careen down the hill immediately. The sled was large enough to fit two people and Hermione sat looking up at him. “Well, what are you waiting for, Ron?” She patted the spot behind her on the sled. “You can sit in the back since it’s your first time,” she said. Carefully, Ron sat behind Hermione in an awkward position. She rolled her eyes again. “Ron, you’re going to have to put your legs around me and sit with them stretched out in front of you.” He quickly uncrossed his legs and did as she had instructed. “Okay, now I’m going to hang on to this.” She grabbed a cord attached to the front of the sled on both sides. “It’s used for grip and steering. If we lean forward when going down, then we’ll go faster, but you don’t want to lean too much to the sides or we might tip over.” Ron nodded. “Oh, and you’ll want to hang on to me tightly,” she added. Ron nodded again, but he noticed that she seemed to have left out something rather important.

“But, Hermione, how do we sto - AAAH!” He was cut short when Hermione pushed forward with her hands and sent them speeding downhill at what seemed quite a fast rate to Ron. He had quickly managed to put his arms around Hermione’s waist and hang on for dear life. Hermione seemed to be enjoying herself and leaned forward, laughing, as they sped up. Soon, Ron had relaxed and had begun to have fun as well. He was enjoying the feeling of Hermione in his arms and the cold wind felt nice as it pushed his hair out of his eyes, though it stung a bit as it slapped his face. Ron felt lucky that Hermione’s hair was tucked safely under a hat, which spared him from having her hair in his face, too. When they reached the bottom of the hill, the sled slowed down and reluctantly, Ron let go of Hermione.

“That was bloody great!” Ron exclaimed as they stood up and got off the sled. Hermione smiled at him.

“I know. I haven’t done that in ages. But admit it, you were frightened at first,” she teased.

“Of course, I wasn’t!” His ears turned red, giving him away.

“Sure,” said Hermione, “and that squeal you let out meant nothing”.

“I did not squeal! Hermione, stop that!” He leaned down and gathered some snow in his hands, which he threw at her for laughing, and smiled. “I’ll get you for that,” he said as she imitated his scream and ran through the snow. Ron chased her, laughing. He caught up to her, taking long strides, but she thought quickly, grabbed some snow, and threw it in his face as he reached her. Laughing, both of them fell down into the snow.

“Let’s do that again, Ron,” she said, and he responded with a grin. They got up and took the sled back to the top, where they mounted it and pushed off, sending them quickly downhill. And this time, Ron was in the front.

-----

“Ron, maybe we should start heading back,” Hermione said as she looked around and then at him. It was getting dark and it had started snowing lightly a while ago, but now it was picking up again. Ron narrowed his eyes and looked past the hill. In the distance, he could see the outline of the Burrow, which was now getting fainter as snow started falling heavily.

“Yeah, this doesn’t look too good,” he agreed, “and Mum will be worried if we’re not back soon”. They picked up their sled and tried to find their tracks from earlier, but the fresh snow had covered them, so they headed in the general direction of the Burrow. The snow fell heavily now, and the growing darkness made it even harder to see where they were going. Hermione had attempted to better the situation earlier, but it had not worked. She had pulled out her wand and whispered, “Lumos,” but the light coming from the tip of her wand seemed dim and did little to improve their visibility through the sheets of falling snow. They had walked for a few minutes in silence when Ron spoke again.

“Hermione, shouldn’t we be at the Burrow by now?” He watched as she strained to see through the snow.

“We can’t be far now,” she said, but after a few more minutes she stopped Ron. It was dark now, and there was a cold wind blowing. It beat hard against them as they had struggled to keep walking. Hermione wasn’t sure if she could feel her toes and the melting spell she attempted didn’t do much to the abundant and steadily falling snow covering the ground in front of them. “Ron, I can’t tell where we’re going anymore.” Her voice was heavy with concern.

“Neither can I,” he said softly. “We’ll have to keep looking for the Burrow, or at least for somewhere where we can take cover.” Hermione nodded.

“You’re right,” she said, “we should keep moving.” They roamed for a couple of minutes, keeping close to each other for warmth. Ron could feel Hermione shivering next to him as they walked in silence, but the storm showed no sign of dwindling. He thought he saw something nearby, the Burrow maybe? No, it wasn’t large enough. He thought he was imagining it, but as they neared the dark figure, he could make out what looked like a cabin.

“Hermione, do you see that?” She nodded, and they trudged through the snow a bit faster. Eventually, they reached the door of an old cabin and Hermione pulled her hand out from underneath her cloak and knocked loudly.

“Is anyone in there?” She had to shout through the whistling of the storm.

“I don’t think anyone is, Hermione,” Ron said. She nodded and turned the doorknob. It opened freely into a dark room. Hermione pulled Ron inside.

Lumos,” she whispered, and the light from her wand lit the room. In the far corner of the small cabin there was a single bed and blanket with a small table next to it. Two chairs were positioned close to the door. “Well, it’s better than I expected,” Hermione said. The room was covered in dust and she noticed some cobwebs in the corners. They took off their cloaks, hats, gloves, and scarves and set them on a chair. Ron sat in the other chair while Hermione inspected the cabin curiously and lit a candle she found on the table next to the bed. “It seems pretty abandoned,” she reasoned.

“No, really,” said Ron sarcastically. Hermione shot him a look.

“Don’t start with me now, Ron. We’re going to have to stay here for the night,” she said. “Ugh, it smells horrible in here!” Ron thought so too, but he didn’t say anything. He moved his chair to the left, trying to get comfortable against its hard wooden back, and jumped when he saw something green scuttle across the floor. Next to him, he found there was a patch of what looked like a green fungus, except it had multiple eyes, which were blinking up at him. A smaller bit of it was what he had seen scuttling to a dark corner of the room.

“Ah! Hermione, look!” Hermione walked over to him.

“What?” she said, impatiently. Ron pointed at the fungus-like creatures.

“I saw a bit of it run off that way! What should we do?” He didn’t want to admit to her that he was slightly alarmed by these creatures. Sure, Ron. Only slightly, who are you kidding, mate? They’re just as bad as spiders! He backed away and stood behind Hermione.

Bundimuns! That must be what that horrible stench is!” Ron looked at her, confused, and she elaborated. “They look like a fungus, but really are creatures on tiny legs that secrete a substance that rots the foundations of the space they infest. They cause that terrible smell, too. Oh, Ron, don’t be stupid. They’re not going to hurt you; they’re only a pest and a nuisance. We’ll have to get rid of them, the smell is terrible and there’s too many!” Ron didn’t move. Hermione shot him a meaningful look and pulled out her wand. “Scourgify!” But her spell missed as the patch of Bundimuns moved together in another direction. “Oh!” she exclaimed, angrily. She tried again once the Bundimuns had stopped. “Oh… Oh no! What did I do?” Instead of disappearing, the Bundimuns seemed to be multiplying continuously. Hermione panicked. “Ron, help me! Ron, don’t be a prat! If you don’t help me these bloody things will overrun us!” She looked away angrily, trying to decide what to do. Ron’s mouth dropped open. Hermione always nagged him about cursing, but she had just sworn herself. He pulled out his wand and slowly approached Hermione, who was standing very near the Bundimuns.

Scourgify!” he exclaimed, and a couple of the Bundimuns disappeared. Hermione looked at him, and quickly snapped out of her silence and joined him in cleaning them off. Shouts of the cleaning spell filled the cabin, and once they were done, Ron and Hermione sat back in the chairs, exhausted.

“Well, at least they’re gone,” said Hermione, breaking the silence inside the room.

“Yeah,” said Ron. Silence overtook them again, both unsure of what to say next. It was cold inside the cabin and the only light came from the candle on the small table by the bed. Hermione stood up. She walked over to a small window and looked out.

“Well, I can’t see much, but I reckon the storm won’t be letting up any time soon,” she sighed. “We should at least try to get some sleep so tomorrow we can find our way back.” She walked over to the bed and pulled the blanket off of it. “Where do you want me to put it for you?” she asked.

“What?” His voice cracked a bit when he questioned her.

“I said where do you want me to put the blanket for you?” She seemed surprised at the confused look Ron had on his face. “Well you didn’t expect to sleep on the bed did you?” she asked him.

“And why not? I’m not sleeping on the ground with those bunt…bundebundemal... those things!” he shouted.

“Ron, they’re gone! We got rid of them ourselves! And it’s just so kind of you to offer me the bed, isn’t it? Always thinking of yourself, aren’t you?” she fired the questions at him one after the other.

“No, I’m not! But you seem to be!” he shouted. Hermione looked appalled.

“Well, Ron, if you think that I’m going to sleep on the floor, you’re wrong! And I thought you would be a gentleman and offer me the bed. Well, apparently, I was quite mistaken!”

“I can’t believe you want me to sleep on the floor with those things, Hermione! That’s just cruel!” Ron stared at her until she was forced to respond.

“Well, I’m not going to either! Any other decent boy would let me take the bed!” she screamed.

“Oh, like who? Vicky, maybe? You always expect me to be just like him! Well, I refuse! And I bet you he wouldn’t want to sleep on this floor either, not that it would make much of a difference for the great oaf!” he snapped.

Hermione’s face turned a bright red and anger sparkled in her eyes.

“Don’t bring him into this, Ron! You always do, and this has nothing to do with him! And his name is Viktor, not Vicky! How can you be so rude? Really!” Hermione looked fit to burst. She threw the blanket onto the bed in fury, and stomped her foot.

“I’m not being rude, it’s the truth! Ever since you met him, it’s as if we all have to be just as great as Vicky is. And frankly, I’m still not going to sleep on that floor!” Ron’s ears had turned a shade similar to his hair. He despised Krum with every part of his body. You’re just jealous because Hermione likes him, said a voice in the back of his head. But he refused to believe it. It continued anyway, of course if you keep treating her like that she’s never going to like you. Ron let out a grunt of frustration and Hermione looked even more taken aback. Now look what you’ve done.

“Well, you don’t expect us to sleep in the same bed, now, do you?” she asked.

“Well, why not? I’m not going to attack you!” he said. Hermione laughed sarcastically.

“Oh really, because I thought that’s what you were doing right now! Look Ron, there’s no way. We are not sleeping in the same bed!”

“And why the bloody hell not?” he bellowed, furious at Hermione’s words. He could hear his heart throbbing in his ears and his fists were clenched.

“Look, I don’t care! Let’s just go to sleep, I can’t take this anymore! Well, come on!” Ron walked over to the other side of the bed, grabbed the blanket and threw it at Hermione. He rested his head on an old, lumpy pillow and stayed as far to his side of the bed as he could. He closed his eyes and heard Hermione climb in next to him. She threw the blanket over them and extinguished the candle rapidly. The room went pitch black and all that could be heard was the roar of the storm outside as Ron lay quietly, fingering the crystallinus charm in his pocket.

-----

Hermione lay silently, her eyes still closed. She was half-asleep and had not bothered to rush and get up or even look around. Her bed had never felt this comfortable. She wriggled closer to the pillow next to her. It felt warm and snug against her body. She was caught by surprise, however, when her pillow mumbled. Except that it wasn’t a pillow, she realized, it was Ron! Only then did she remember their situation and where they were. She had expected to open her eyes and find herself in the girl’s dormitory at Hogwarts. Instead, when she opened her eyes, a bit startled, she found herself looking at Ron’s shirt. They were quite close. Hermione’s head rested against his chest and Ron’s arm was wrapped loosely around her waist. She held his other hand; their fingers were entwined, and she found that their legs were entangled as well. Odd, the things that happen during sleep.

She did not want to move, but what if Ron woke up? What would he say? She remembered now their last row. Ron had been a complete prat. She couldn’t forgive him so easily, yet she still found it difficult to pull herself out of his embrace. Carefully, so as not to wake him, she squirmed out of his arms and let go of his hand. Hermione sat on the edge of the bed, watching him. Ron muttered something groggily and rolled onto his stomach, burying his face in the pillows. Hermione laughed. Ron’s orange hair was a complete mess, but she reckoned her own brown hair wasn’t faring any better. She brought her small hands up to her head and tried desperately to flatten out her bushy curls. With a sigh, she gave up; she realized there really was no use. She got up off the bed and wandered back over to Ron.

“Ron,” she whispered. “Ron?” she said a bit more loudly, “Ron, you have to wake up. Your mum will have worried herself sick by now!” She reached out and shook him gently. He only mumbled unrecognizable words into the pillows. Hermione released a sigh of impatience. She tried again to rouse him from his sleep, and failed miserably. Finally, she turned him so he faced up and patted his cheek. “Come on, Ron. Wake up.” His eyes opened slightly and he immediately squinted from the light.

“Hermione?” he yawned.

“Get up, you great big lazy oaf.” She tugged on his sleeve. He murmured something about her being insane and ungodly hours of the morning as he sat up drowsily. Hermione rolled her eyes as he rubbed his eyes and looked around the room, a look of confusion crawling onto his face.

“Where the hell… oh,” he said, more to himself than to Hermione.

“That’s right, get up now. We have to get back to the Burrow.” She rubbed the fog from the small window with the sleeve of her robes and looked out. “It seems the weather’s finally calmed down.” She threw Ron a disapproving look - he was still sitting stupidly in the middle of the bed. “Well, what are you waiting for Ron! I don’t even want to think about the nightmare we’ve probably caused back at the Burrow,” she fumed. Ron rubbed the back of his neck slowly as he slid off the bed. The blanket fell to the floor beside him as he stood. He brushed the hair out of his face, still looking lost. If he continued like this, Hermione’s eyes would get stuck in the back of her head, but she couldn’t deny that her heart fluttered when he did so. They rapidly put their cloaks, gloves, hats, and scarves back on and Ron gave her a weak smile as he picked up the sled. She walked briskly towards the door and pulled it open. Ron followed. They stepped out into the freshly packed snow, which was now much higher than it had been when they had left the Burrow the day before. Ron whistled.

“It sure came down heavily,” he said. Hermione nodded in agreement. Now that it was clear out, she could see the Burrow in the distance. They began to walk towards it slowly, amid an awkward silence. Hermione toyed with the chain around her neck. The crystallinus charms didn’t seem to be doing them much good. They had bickered pointlessly over another redundant matter and this morning hadn’t started out much better. She hadn’t believed they would actually change anything, but she had hoped that maybe, just maybe, they might bring her and Ron closer. Her attempt seemed to have drastically failed. But Ron never ceased to amaze her.

“Look, Hermione,” he almost whispered, “about last night. Well, er, you know those bindleminy things weren’t exactly what I’d consider friendly, and I know I was, er, well I wasn’t exactly nice to you and all, but look, I’m sorry, I just…” He faltered. It had all seemed to spill out rather quickly and his words jumbled together, but Ron thought that she seemed to have gotten the message.

“It’s all right Ron,” she said quietly. He stuffed his hand in his pocket and looked at his feet as they walked. Hermione held the small snowflake charms of her bracelet between her fingers as they walked. Soon, they paused and looked down. At the bottom of the hill stood the Burrow, waiting for them. She had started forward again when Ron reached out and pulled her back. He placed the sled eagerly in front of them and then looked at her, grinning.

“Oh, Ron,” she laughed. They climbed into the sled and Ron pushed forward. She clung tightly to him as they sped down the hill. As they reached the bottom, Ron threw his weight towards the left and they flew out of the sled, landing in the soft snow. Ron rolled onto his side to face Hermione and before she could realize what had happened, he shoved snow into her face.

“Ronald Weasley, I’m going to get you for that!” she screamed playfully. As he staggered forward in the snow and attempted to stand up, she grabbed the back of his cloak and pulled him back down next to her. Ron fell backwards, and Hermione felt a smile tug at her lips. She made to brush a few sparse snowflakes off her shoulder, but he reached out to stop her again.

“Don’t,” he murmured, “there will never be others like them again.” She gazed into his blue eyes as she lowered her hand. He was right. His ears burned bright as she softened her stare and looked away.

After ruffling his hair, Hermione stood triumphantly. She extended her hand out to help him up, and he smirked up at her. “Don’t you dare pull me back down, Ron,” she said. He shook his head innocently and grabbed her hand, hoisting himself up. With his other hand, he picked up the sled. Then, Hermione saw Mrs. Weasley’s anxious face through the window. Upon sighting them she threw her arms into the air and disappeared from the window, Hermione assumed, to greet them at the door. Ron and Hermione smiled at each other before blushing and looking away shyly. As they walked up to his house, he didn’t let go of her hand.

Maybe these crystallinus charms aren’t so bad after all, she decided, as she watched Ron shake the snow out of his hair.

Fin.

-----

A/N: Lady Silver Challenge. I broke the under 2000 words rule, though. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Anyway, I know, it was pure fluff. Well hope you enjoyed it anyways. And as always, some reviews would be wonderful. Challenge: http://www.geocities.com/wind_of_wolf/CabinFever.html

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