The Sugar Quill
Author: necdiva (LavenderBrown) (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Journey  Chapter: Chapter Two: Revenge
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Part Two: Revenge

 

(Dialogue near the end of this chapter is credited to J.K. Rowling) 

 

Chapter Two: Revenge

 

Hermione took great, gulping breaths as she tried, unsuccessfully, to stop crying. She hated Ron with every fiber of her being, every pore in her body was oozing hatred for that awful, cruel, horrible boy who just kept hurting her and hurting her over and over again…there weren’t enough canaries in existence, magically or otherwise, to cause him the kind of pain he was dealing her every day…

 

‘Hello?’

 

A familiar, dreamy voice echoed in the girl’s bathroom. Hermione quickly stifled her sobs and wiped her face of tears just as Luna wandered in.

 

‘Oh, hello, Hermione,’ she said.

 

‘Hi, Luna,’ Hermione replied, forcing herself to smile. ‘How are you?’

 

‘I’m well,’ said Luna. ‘But you’re not. You’ve been crying.’

 

Hermione opened her mouth to protest. Luna could be so…honest sometimes. It was maddening! Just as maddening as the fresh tears that suddenly poured from Hermione’s eyes.

 

‘Oh…’ she moaned, and began to sob again. She sobbed harder when she felt Luna put her arms around her shoulders and pat her on the back.

 

‘I know,’ said Luna sympathetically, pulling back after a while and handing Hermione a very old, but clean, blue handkerchief. ‘You’re upset about Rufus Scrimgeour, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. It’s simply awful.’

 

Wh-what?’ Hermione asked, dabbing at her eyes. ‘Rufus Scrimgeour?’

 

‘Yes,’ said Luna, her wide eyes very serious. ‘I almost cried myself when Father told me Scrimgeour was a vampire. As if it isn’t bad enough that You-Know-Who is out there, terrorizing—’

 

Hermione laughed. She couldn’t help it. She laughed out loud. Luna was the most absurd person she’d ever met, but somehow absurd was precisely what was needed in this moment.

 

‘It’s really not funny,’ said Luna sternly.

 

‘I’m sorry,’ said Hermione, wiping her eyes again. ‘You’re right. Of course it’s not funny. I just…that wasn’t what I was crying about.’

 

‘Oh,’ said Luna. ‘Well, then, it must be a boy. Nobody cries that much over anything else, do they?’

 

Hermione’s eyes filled again and she gave a little sob. ‘It’s Ron,’ she blurted, not quite sure why she was telling Luna this, but glad that she could tell somebody, that Luna seemed, in her rather roundabout way, to understand.

 

‘Ronald Weasley?’ said Luna. ‘Yes, I can see why you might be crying over him. He’s quite funny but he’s also a little mean on occasion.’

 

‘Yes, he is!’ Hermione cried.

 

‘But why was he mean to you?’ Luna asked.

 

‘We had a row,’ said Hermione miserably. ‘It was worse than a row, he won’t speak to me and he’s being horrible and I hate him…’ She gave a few more sobs.

 

‘I don’t think you hate him if you’re crying this much,’ said Luna wisely, and Hermione looked up sharply. Luna’s large eyes were very shrewd, and yet oddly focused and very sympathetic. Hermione bit her lip as a few more tears leaked out.

 

‘No,’ she said. ‘I don’t hate him.’

 

She backed away from Luna. ‘I should be going…thanks, Luna…’

 

Hermione met Harry on the way out; he handed her the things she’d stupidly left behind in Transfiguration. She vaguely remembered thanking him and running off, needing to be alone now. Luna had been very nice, but Hermione needed the library now. It was always a great source of comfort to her. She needed the smell of old books, the sound of pages rustling as they turned. She needed…

 

not to see Ron and Lavender giggling—Ron was giggling!—as they snuck into another empty classroom. Hermione’s aching heart suddenly hardened, as though it had been flash-frozen, and a thin veil of red fell over her vision. Against her better judgment, she headed straight for the door Ron was kicking shut behind him.

 

There was enough dim light in the room, and a large enough window on the door, for Hermione to see the outline of two people thrashing and groping at each other.

 

She closed her eyes tightly and breathed out fiercely through her nose. She would not cry. She would not. She would…she would…

 

She heard voices—a snide, drawling sort of voice that reminded her of Malfoy and yet wasn’t, and a familiar, pompous one. She turned again to the source of the voices and saw Zacharias Smith walking by, deep in conversation with Ernie Macmillan. Ernie saw her and Hermione quickly stepped away from the classroom where Ron and Lavender were almost certainly fondling each other lewdly, and walked up to Ernie in greeting.

 

‘Hey, Hermione,’ said Ernie. ‘Er…how are you?’ he added, looking a bit concerned, as he had witnessed her fleeing from Transfiguration.

 

‘Oh, fine,’ said Hermione forcing a breezy tone in her voice. She turned to Smith.

 

‘Hello, Zacharias,’ she said pleasantly.

 

‘Hi, Hermione,’ said Smith, smiling. It wasn’t a very friendly smile, but it held some interest. Hermione noticed Smith’s eyes skip quickly over her…

 

Honestly! Boys! They think they’re so subtle when they gawp at women, but they’re ridiculously obvious!

 

And the idea came: Hermione knew what she would do.

 

Revenge. Revenge was what she wanted. Wasn’t that the idea behind the canaries?

 

But who cared about canaries? They bit and scratched but they didn’t scar. They didn’t really wound, not in the way Ron deserved to be wounded. They didn’t cause humiliation…

 

‘…you going to the Slughorn party?’ Ernie was saying.

 

‘What? Oh, yes.’ Hermione smiled at Smith. Should she ask him? No, not in front of Ernie. That would be very rude. But she could always ask Smith  at dinner, couldn’t she? Yes, dinner would be perfect. If she could do it right in front of Ron…

 

‘…to get going,’ Ernie was droning. ‘We’ve got a study session in the library. It’s generally just Hufflepuffs but if you wanted to join us…’

 

‘Oh…er, no thank you,’ said Hermione, smiling again, more sweetly this time. ‘I have a few things to finish and my stuff is in my room, so I’ll just go there. ‘Bye, Ernie, Zacharias.’

 

Ernie and Smith both nodded and headed off, Smith looking back once and giving her an inscrutable look.

 

Hermione took the opposite direction—pointedly avoiding looking through the door to that Ron-and-Lavender-contaminated classroom—and marched up to the common room. Yes, Smith was a good prospect. Asking him in front of Ron would drive Ron mad. She just wondered how she could persuade Smith to happen to stop by the Gryffindor table…

 

‘Oi!’

 

She had collided with something huge as she turned the corner towards the Fat Lady’s portrait. The huge thing turned out to be Cormac McLaggen.

 

‘Hi, Hermione,’ said Cormac, giving her one of his leering grins. ‘All set for Slughorn’s soirée?’

 

Hermione gazed at him as a new and much, much better idea came to her.

 

‘Cormac, would you like to go to Slughorn’s party with me?’ she said.

 

McLaggen looked surprised, but he covered it quickly with a disinterested air. ‘Really?’ he asked casually.

 

‘Yes, really,’ said Hermione, and without thinking, she gave her hair a little toss and added in a breathy voice, ‘I thought it would be fun if we went together.’

 

McLaggen leered again, and Hermione realized he had a smile very reminiscent of Gilderoy Lockhart’s, which was not a good thing. She wondered if she knew what she was getting into.

 

‘I’d love to,’ McLaggen said huskily, and suddenly he lifted his hand and traced his fingers lightly down her arm. Hermione shuddered at the contact; she wasn’t sure if it was pleasant or not.

 

‘O-okay, then,’ she said. ‘Meet you at eight in the common room.’

 

‘Looking forward to it,’ said McLaggen, and he swaggered off. Hermione watched him go, her insides squirming with doubt, but then she heard the familiar, obnoxious squeal that was Lavender’s laughter, and she turned to the Fat Lady.

 

‘Dilligrout,’ she said quickly; the portrait swung open and she hurried into the common room, keen not to be seen by her bint of a roommate and that awful redheaded git on her arm.

 

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

 

Hermione sat alone at dinner. Her beef stew stood untouched. She knew she should eat; she’d need strength to get through tonight.

 

She closed her eyes miserably. What on earth was she thinking, asking McLaggen on a date? She didn’t like him, not even as a friend. And what if he got the wrong idea? He was so big, he could easily just drag her under a sprig of mistletoe and try to suck her face off if he wanted.

 

She felt the pressure of a gaze on her, and turned her eyes just slightly to her left. Ron was looking at her, she knew it. He looked away as their eyes met, and she saw the very tips of his ears color slightly. She turned back to her stew, willing herself not to cry. Why had all this happened? Why?

 

She glanced up at him again, and saw him talking to Harry; Ron looked grumpy, the way he often looked when he was wrong about something but was too proud to admit it. Or perhaps Hermione was just engaging in some wishful thinking. Either way, she was miserable, and maybe he was miserable, too…she thought she’d caught something sad in his eyes before he looked away. Hermione sighed. Maybe she should just stop this madness. Maybe she should take Ron aside and demand that they talk, hash things out…

 

She turned again, readying herself to go over to Ron, when she showed up. Lavender plopped down next to Ron and flung herself on him like some stupid spaniel about to get a dog biscuit. Hermione scowled as sick fury filled her insides again. Well, so much for that idea. Ron was still clearly more interested in the cheap distractions Lavender had to provide than in making up with Hermione.

 

‘…staying at Hogwarts, then? I heard your parents wanted you to leave,’ Harry was saying to Parvati. Hermione forced her attention away from the appalling spectacle of Ron and Lavender and pretended to be interested in Harry and Parvati’s conversation.

 

‘…Katie thing really freaked them out, but as there hasn’t been anything since then…oh, hi, Hermione!’

 

Hermione bit back a smirk. Parvati’s greeting contained the kind of phony enthusiasm one uses when one feels guilty about something. But Hermione decided not to call her on that; she had more important things to accomplish.

 

‘Hi, Parvati!’ she said brightly, pretending Ron and Lavender weren’t all over each other only a few seats away. ‘Are you going to Slughorn’s party tonight?’

 

There were slurping sounds coming from the vicinity of Ron and that silly tart…

 

‘No invite,’ said Parvati glumly. ‘I’d love to go, though, it sounds like it’s going to be really good…you’re going aren’t you?’

 

Lavender gave a girlish, awful little giggle that sounded like the sort Umbridge would have used, and Hermione began to dig.

 

‘Oh, yes, I’m meeting Cormac at eight and we’re—’

 

Bulls-eye. There was a sound like a plunger being pulled from a particularly stubborn sink and Hermione felt, rather than saw, Ron’s eyes suddenly fix on her. She kept her face bright and pretended not to notice, continuing as if she hadn’t been interrupted.

 

‘—and we’re going to the party together.’

 

‘Cormac?’ said Parvati. ‘Cormac McLaggen, you mean?’

 

‘That’s right,’ said Hermione, her voice sweet, as she dug further. ‘The one who almost became Gryffindor Keeper.’

 

‘Are you going out with him, then?’ Parvati asked eagerly.

 

Keep digging…almost there…you’ve almost got him…

 

‘Oh—yes—didn’t you know?’ said Hermione, giggling as girlishly and vapidly as possible.

 

‘No!’ said Parvati, looking stunned and delighted at this juicy bit of gossip. Hermione could still feel Ron’s eyes on her, and out of the corner of her eye, she caught Harry gawping at her.

 

‘Wow, you like your Quidditch players, don’t you?’ Parvati went on. ‘First Krum, then McLaggen…’

 

Hermione could have kissed Parvati for mentioning Krum.

 

Almost there...

 

Hermione went for the kill.

 

‘I like really good Quidditch players,’ she said, allowing herself one look at Ron, whose face was blank but whose eyes told her all she needed to know.

 

Yes!

 

Hermione felt like laughing in triumph, but instead she beamed at Parvati and gave one last parting shot. ‘Well…see you…got to go and get ready for the party…’ she said in a sing-song voice, and she breezed out of the Great Hall, leaving Lavender and Parvati whispering furiously, Harry still gawping at her in disbelief, and Ron…she didn’t spare a look for Ron…

 

…until she was almost out in the corridor. She looked back, wanting to see his face, wanting him to look at her, to be angry or to look regretful or guilty or anything. What she saw erased the feeling of triumph she had felt only seconds earlier.

 

Ron was staring down into his stew, the look on his face that of a child who’d lost a parent.

 

Hermione felt a rush of guilt, and shoved it aside impatiently. This was not her fault. He started it. If he hadn’t become such an absolute beast to her, if he hadn’t treated her like dirt and taken up with that silly bit of fluff…after she had asked him to the party, after they’d…he should have known...she had taken the risk, and he’d rewarded her with a slap in the face in the form of Lavender Brown.

 

Ron got up slowly from the table, still looking blank-faced, but with that hurt expression in his eyes. Hermione shook her head and hardened her heart again, and hurried down the corridor and back to Gryffindor Tower, telling herself all the while that all she had done was give Ron a taste of his own very well-deserved medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

//
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