The Sugar Quill
Author: necdiva (LavenderBrown) (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Journey  Chapter: Chapter One: Hurt
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Hurt

 

{A/N: The opening dialogue and some dialogue in the middle section were, of course, written by J.K. Rowling.}

 

Chapter  One: Hurt

 

‘Harry’s snogged Cho Chang!’ shouted Ginny, who sounded close to tears now. ‘And Hermione snogged Viktor Krum, it’s only you who acts like it’s something disgusting, Ron, and that’s because you’ve got about as much experience as a twelve-year-old!’

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

‘You know perfectly well what we’re talking about!’ said Hermione shrilly. ‘You spiked Ron’s juice with lucky potion at breakfast! Felix Felicis!’

 

‘No, I didn’t,’ said Harry.

 

‘Yes you did, Harry, and that’s why everything went right, there were Slytherin players missing and Ron saved everything!’

 

‘I didn’t put it in,’ said Harry, showing her the full, unsealed bottle of Felix Felicis. ‘I wanted Ron to think I’d done it, so I faked it when I knew you were looking.’ He turned to Ron. ‘You saved everything because you felt lucky. You did it all yourself.’

 

‘There really wasn’t anything in my pumpkin juice?’ Ron said. ‘But the weather’s good…and Vaisey couldn’t play…I honestly haven’t been given lucky potion?’

 

Harry shook his head. Ron turned angrily to Hermione.

 

‘You added Felix Felicis to Ron’s juice this morning, that’s why he saved everything!’ he shouted, imitating her voice. ‘See! I can save goals without help, Hermione!’

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Ron stormed back towards the castle, dragging his broom at his side, with two female voices ringing in his ears. Ginny, his own sister, making fun of him…making him feel stupid, like a child…telling him about Hermione and Krum…

 

And Hermione…even worse. Ron clenched his jaw to fight off a sudden burning in his eyes. That she could say that…that she could believe…

 

She thinks you’re rubbish. She always has. You were thinking things were going so great, and she was laughing at you, comparing you to him, thinking you were pathetic next to the great Vicky Krum. Krum, who can play Quidditch better than anyone, who can have any girl he wants, who had to take Hermione…

 

He tried to be rational. Hermione had kissed Krum ages ago. Ron had believed, initially, that Harry had spiked his pumpkin juice with Felix. Hermione had kissed Krum…

 

And she was still corresponding with him. They were ‘pen pals’. Pen pals who had snogged and maybe more than that, pen pals who probably got a big laugh over making fun of that idiot Ron Weasley…

 

Ron turned sharply into a small copse of trees at the edge of the Forest, disappearing into the branches. He just barely managed to avoid smashing his fist into a thick trunk, and instead sagged forward, leaning his forehead dejectedly against the bark, not caring that it scratched his skin.

 

The burning sensation in his eyes returned, along with a horrible lump in his throat. He felt like he had a hole in his chest, a rapidly expanding hole that was pressing on his insides, making him ache in a way he’d never felt before in his life.

 

He catalogued every injury he had ever received in his entire existence, starting with the time Fred had given him horns when he was four, to when he’d fallen off a broom for the first time, to when the white queen smashed him on the head, to breaking his leg when Sirius dragged him into the Whomping Willow, to being attacked by a brain that burned his flesh. These and every injury in between came flooding into Ron’s mind, along with the overwhelming thought that he would gladly experience every single one of them, all at the same time, and at that very moment, if only it would erase this ache inside his chest.

 

Worthless…pathetic…rubbish…

 

He should have known, he thought bitterly. He should have guessed it was too good to be true. Why would she ever look at him like that? Why, when she was brilliant and capable and just so much more, would she look at him, when he was so much less? His insides coiled in agony as he recalled how she’d asked him to Slughorn’s party. They coiled tighter as he recalled that time in the Burrow, right before Harry had arrived, when they’d talked and talked and she’d gotten that look in her eyes, like she wanted Ron to kiss her, and he’d almost done it, would have done it if Ginny hadn’t burst into the room to complain yet again about Fleur...

 

Oh, god.

 

Hermione had known all the time, known how he’d felt, known it even before he did, and that look in her eyes…he must have misread it. No, he knew he’d misread it. She hadn’t wanted him to kiss her. What a joke, Ron Weasley kissing Hermione Granger! She probably wrote to Vicky to tell him all about it, to tell him that some poor, pathetic git was in love with her—in love with her—and how that git had tried to kiss her and how he just didn’t compare to the great Viktor, Quidditch player and kisser extraordinaire.

 

Ron swallowed painfully against the lump in his throat and stood back from the tree upon which he was leaning. He realized there were tears on his face, and he wiped them away furiously with a gloved hand. As if things were not horrible enough, here he was hiding in the bloody woods crying over a girl. A girl who wasn’t beautiful, a girl who treated him like dirt, a girl who thought she was better and smarter than everyone, a girl with stupid bushy hair and stupid brown eyes and stupid pink lips and a stupid smile that made the hole in his chest bigger. A girl who knew him better than anyone and whose approval he’d always wanted more than anything and whom he’d always wanted to make laugh. A girl whose stupid bushy hair he’d always wanted to touch, whose stupid brown eyes made him weak when they looked at him, whose stupid pink lips made fireworks explode inside him…

 

He straightened up and took a few deep breaths, willing himself to calm down, willing the hole in his chest to shrink. As he did, he cast about wildly for some plan, some thing he could do to make the pain go away, to make this awful empty hole in his chest fill somehow. And with these thoughts came another desire: to make her hurt. If he could just make her feel a tenth of what he felt, there would be justice in that, wouldn’t there? Yes, there would.

 

He stepped out of the trees and started back towards the castle, students milling about, some dawdling on their way back indoors, anxious to enjoy the last of the decent weather before winter set in. Ron picked up the pace. For some reason it was important that he reach the common room before she did, so that he could prepare himself, so that she could see…what?

 

Him having a good time? Yes, of course. But somehow…no, it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for him to feign not caring about what she’d said to him, and in any case, he wasn’t that good an actor.

 

‘Ron?’

 

Another female voice, this one very different from Hermione’s or his sister’s. He turned, and in that single, miraculous second, the solution came to him. He felt a rush of triumph, and the hole in his chest shrunk just a little.

 

‘Hi, Lavender.’

 

She smiled fetchingly at him—she was quite good-looking, he suddenly noticed, with her soft blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes. No brown anywhere, thank god.

 

‘Congratulations,’ she said, sidling up to him with a little swish of her hips. ‘You were brilliant.’ She reached up and touched his arm, running her fingers suggestively along the brace he wore, over the knuckle of his glove.

 

‘Thanks,’ he said, affecting a swaggering, confident tone.

 

‘Do you want to go to the party in the common room with me?’ she asked, in a kind of purring voice. There was no mistaking her intentions, no question of her feelings. And she’d been throwing out those obvious signals for weeks now.

 

Ron looked at her for a moment, wavering. The hole in his chest expanded slightly. Here was a girl who wasn’t sending mixed signals, who wasn’t asking him to a party one minute and then snogging other blokes the next, who didn’t act like she liked him one minute and then flirted—flirted!—with his best mate the next.

 

Telling Harry’s he so fanciable, treating me like I’m a bloody flobberworm…

 

And it suddenly seemed so simple, and simple felt real to Ron, it felt good, at least enough to dull the pain in his chest, where his heart resided. Here was one person who wanted him, who didn’t think he was rubbish, who didn’t think he was pathetic, who knew he could save goals without needing some stupid potion, who might not care that he’d never kissed a girl before in his life.

 

‘Sure,’ he heard himself say, and he followed her up into the castle.

 

Looking back on it, Ron wouldn’t really remember much about the trip back to Gryffindor Tower. He vaguely recalled Lavender taking his hand and smiling back at him flirtatiously now and again, but he couldn’t quite remember how or when he had found himself in the corner of the room with Lavender pressing up against him. It just somehow seemed that he was there, kissing her hard, deeply and very inexpertly, and triumphing in the fact that she didn’t seem to mind his novice technique. Her hands were running up and down his back and she was making little sounds—he couldn’t tell if they were real or if she was faking it but it didn’t matter—and he was definitely aroused. Not enough to fill the hole in his chest, not nearly enough, but aroused enough to forget, for a few glorious minutes, that there was another girl, a girl he wanted desperately, a girl who had scorned him and made him feel like less than nothing.

 

He was just pulling Lavender even closer when he heard a noise; he broke away from her just long enough to see a pair of brown eyes, a mane of bushy brown hair. The brown eyes stared at him, and he gave that brown gaze a hateful look before deliberately crushing his mouth against Lavender’s. Mid-snog he opened his eyes just enough to see the brown hair streak out of the room. Harry followed her.

 

For two fantastic seconds he felt a rush of triumph. He had won. The look in Hermione’s eyes was unmistakable. She was hurt. Ron reveled in her hurt, that he could cause it, that he had that power.

 

But then he felt something squeeze on his heart, and he realized it was guilt. He pulled away from Lavender, on the pretense to breathe, while she proceeded to kiss his neck. He swallowed, not feeling Lavender’s rather sloppy ministrations, and he hated himself. Where the hell was that great feeling of triumph he’d just had? Why the hell did he feel guilty? So he’d hurt Hermione. Big deal! She’d started it! It was all her fault!

 

He felt Lavender slide her hands lower. The fact that a pretty girl had her hands on his bum hardly registered in that moment—he felt almost overcome with the urge to run from the room and find Hermione, find her and apologize for everything, every mean thing he’d said or done, to tell her he didn’t care if she’d snogged Krum once or twice or a hundred times if it meant she’d forgive him and be with him and…

 

‘Ron,’ Lavender whispered.

 

‘Huh?’ He blinked and looked down at the girl he was with; she was smiling up at him with glazed blue eyes and very pink, swollen lips.

 

‘Do you want to go somewhere more private?’

 

No. I want to find Hermione. I want Hermione…

 

Hermione doesn’t want you, remember. She thinks you’re a loser.

 

Loser…rubbish…

 

‘Yeah,’ said Ron. Lavender giggled and grabbed his hand, and they left the party; Ron heard a few lewd catcalls on his way out that were undoubtedly issuing from Dean and Seamus. He caught Parvati’s eye for a moment, who was watching him inscrutably, before he clambered out of the portrait hole.

 

The Fat Lady sighed impatiently as she let Ron and Lavender out.

 

‘Don’t be getting up to too much mischief, now!’ she scolded, eyeing the two of them knowingly.

 

‘Let’s find a classroom,’ Lavender suggested, waving at the Fat Lady as her portrait closed.

 

‘Okay,’ said Ron, and she smiled, and Ron forced himself to smile, forced himself to achieve the same enthusiasm Lavender was showing. It wasn’t too difficult to work himself up—Lavender kept stopping mid-search for a private room to attack him with her mouth, and he found himself responding. It was nice, being kissed like that, even if it was a bit messy. By the time Lavender indicated a room that appeared empty, he was actually laughing and mostly enjoying himself again.

 

They got the door open and Ron pulled her into the room, where she suddenly stopped mid-giggle and froze.

 

Ron turned and the hole in his chest seemed to erupt. There she was, all bushy hair and doe eyes, sitting on a desk with, oddly, a flock of fat yellow canaries fluttering in a circle about her head. Ron saw the dead, flat expression in those brown eyes and felt the air get sucked out of the room. He had caused that look, and there was no triumph to be had. There was only guilt.

 

It was then that he realized Harry was there, too. ‘Oh,’ Ron said stupidly.

 

‘Oops!’ said Lavender, and she started to giggle again as she backed out of the room and shut the door.

 

The silence stretched; it felt as cold and empty in the room as though a hundred Dementors had just swarmed inside. Hermione’s eyes were now fixed on him, and he couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t look at her. He felt furious, he felt guilty, but most of all, he hurt. The hurt smashed into him and he knew he couldn’t let her see it. Just let her go on thinking he was thrilled to be with Lavender.

 

‘Hi, Harry!’ he said, his voice unnaturally loud as he struggled for bravado. ‘Wondered where you’d got to!’

 

He heard Hermione slide off the desk, those silly canaries staying circled about her head.

 

‘You shouldn’t leave Lavender waiting outside,’ she said, her voice quiet. ‘She’ll wonder where you’ve gone.’

 

Ron turned his gaze to Hermione, who was no longer looking at him. He watched her walk slowly across the room, her back impossibly straight. He felt a small measure of relief that she wasn’t going to create a scene, and yet he was annoyed at how aloof she seemed. Hadn’t she shown how hurt she was just ten minutes ago? Had she been faking that, too, just like she’d faked actually being interested in him?

 

‘Oppugno!’

 

Ron barely had time to register Hermione’s shriek, or to see her aiming her wand at him, when a dozen fat yellow balls of feathers shot at him, twittering menacingly. He threw up his arms, just in time, as the canaries attacked, pecking and biting and scratching at him with their beaks and claws.

 

He couldn’t believe it. She had attacked him with canaries. In a small, sick sort of way he was glad—at least it proved she was hurting as badly as he was.

 

Or not. A particularly vicious bird slashed at his arm with razor sharp claws and drew blood. It occurred to him that Hermione was going to leave him there in the swarm of birds, and as another canary pecked a gash in his cheek, his temper got the better of him.

 

‘Geremoffme!’ he roared, swiping at a bird with his hand and knocking it away. But Hermione did no such thing. He managed to see her shoot him a look of absolute fury before she yanked open the door and stormed out. Ron heard a sob, and he might have enjoyed the fact that she was crying except that yet another bird was clawing at his hand.

 

‘Harry!’ he yelled. ‘A little help!’

 

Harry, who had watched Hermione go with a kind of morose, resigned look on his face, blinked and turned around.

 

‘Sorry!’ he called, raising his wand. ‘Finite!’

 

At once, the swarm of psychotic canaries ceased their attack. Harry made three attempts at Vanishing them before they were fully gone.

 

Ron stood there, panting and bleeding.

 

‘You all right?’ said Harry.

 

‘Fine,’ Ron bit out. ‘Just fine.’

 

‘C’mon,’ Harry said tentatively. ‘I’ll take you to Madam Pomfrey.’

 

‘No, thanks,’ Ron snapped. ‘I think I’ll just go and find Lavender.’

 

‘Ron, don’t—’

 

‘Don’t what?’ Ron shot back, his throat aching. ‘Go with a girl who actually likes me, who doesn’t think I’m rubbish at everything? You’ll excuse me if I don’t take your advice, Harry.’

 

‘Hermione doesn’t think you’re rubbish,’ said Harry, an almost pleading tone in his voice.

 

‘She could have fooled me,’ Ron said, and he walked slowly from the room, ignoring the defeated look in Harry’s eyes.

 

He found Lavender waiting for him, and when she saw him she let out a shriek.

 

‘Ron, what happened?’ she cried.

 

‘Nothing,’ said Ron.

 

‘But—’

 

‘I don’t want to talk about it, okay?’ he said sharply.

 

‘But don’t they hurt?’ Lavender asked. ‘At least let me clean them up a bit, if you won’t go to Pomfrey.’ She pulled out her wand.

 

‘Fine,’ Ron said dully, and he stood quietly as Lavender cleaned his wounds with swishes of her wand. The cuts still stung badly, but he didn’t care. He wanted the wounds to hurt; he wanted the physical pain of those cuts to drive out the empty ache in his chest…

 

It was no good. The wounds stung, but they reminded him of Hermione. The effect, then, was that he hurt everywhere now, physically and otherwise. It seemed like nothing could stop what he felt…

 

‘Ron?’

 

He remembered himself, and remembered that Lavender was right there.

 

‘Do you still want to go somewhere?’ she asked, more timidly this time.

 

‘Yeah,’ Ron said at once. ‘Let’s go. But not in there.’

 

They went, and ended up in the Charms classroom, and kissed on and on. For a while, Ron allowed himself to get lost in a girl who couldn’t possibly break his heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//
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