Many thanks to my lovely friend KN for the beta, and to Mysterious
Muggle, who may not realize what a brilliant line he gave me one day. Also
due for thanks is nundu, who provided in jest the interesting color of
the Pygmy Puff, one that’s so close to laven—well, Ron will tell you-- on the
Sugar Quill Lavender Brown thread. Last, but definitely not least, loads of
appreciation go to the amazingly talented artist Marta, whose depiction
of Ron’s and Harry’s purported tattoos was sent to me by a friend and is
supposedly posted on LiveJournal.
Obviously, I found it truly inspirational.
A Telling Tale of Tattoos and
by Night Zephyr
A shower was just so invigorating. Of course, he
could have used a spell to clean up magically after some of those more grueling
Quidditch practices, but he simply never felt the same, during or after.
So Ron Weasley was taking a chance.
He’d waited until everyone was changed and gone, dallying
about the locker room, cleaning off his shin guards and other equipment (which should
have been a clue that something unusual was up for anyone paying attention),
arranging his locker...He even dredged out those four or five pairs of crispy,
smelly old socks that had lived on the locker bottom for so long and threw them
in the laundry bin for the house-elves to deal with.
All for a shower.
And it was worth it. The hot water stinging his skin and his
scalp was everything he’d been waiting for, and he intended to stay put as long
as it felt this good.
A short time later, a loud echoing bang in the changing room
and the sound of footsteps suddenly panicked Ron. He hadn’t wanted to be
conspicuous with his plans, so he’d committed himself to using one of the
locker room towels – and they were tiny. If someone came in he might be able to
cover it up, but he wouldn’t be able to cover up anything else. But that’s
the best we can hope for. Why, oh why did I leave the towel way over
Three long strides toward his meager little towel, and Harry
threw open the door.
“Harry!” “Ron!” they both cried in shocked surprise at once.
“I...er...sorry, Ron,” Harry said, swinging his gaze to the
floor and turning his back. “I forgot my Herbology book in my locker and when
I came to get it I heard the water running -- figured someone had left it on by
mistake. And here I thought you’d already left with Hermione when you weren’t
“No, she’s tutoring second years until dinner,” Ron said,
trying to keep the conversation as far from his predicament as possible. He’d
finally reached the towel and spent a few indecisive minutes whipping it back
and forth, first to cover the front, then to cover an area low on his back
right hip. Damn, Harry had a perfect shot at it when he came in. Please, oh
please let him not have seen it!
“I, uh... I’ll be out there.” And with that, Harry
disappeared from the room as if he’d Disapparated entirely.
Ron didn’t even have time to tell his best friend that he
didn’t need to wait. In fact, what he really wanted to tell Harry was to go on
back to the castle and he’d meet him there. But Ron thought that might be a
little rude – not to mention it might seem kind of odd to make such a big deal
of this. After all, they were both blokes, they’d known each other for years,
and it wasn’t like Ron had ever been very modest about many other things.
He sighed as he dried off a bit. In truth, though, modesty
had nothing to do with it.
Positioning the towel over his hipbone so that one corner
covered that part of his backside, and the opposite corner, diagonally, covered
most everything else to the front, Ron quietly made his way into the changing
room, trusting that Harry would tell him if anyone else had mysteriously
Harry was sitting on the far end of the bench, looking away
from the row of lockers and still toward the ground.
Ron swung open the locker door and effectively hid behind it
to begin dressing.
“I didn’t even see it hit you,” Harry said. “When did it
Ron was confused. “What?”
“The Bludger,” Harry explained. ”I didn’t even see one hit
you today, Or was it from last practice? But to make a bruise like that...”
Harry thought it was a bruise? Yes! The perfect
excuse! “Oh, yeah...the bruise...”
“It looked pretty bad from what I could see, what with those
dark spots in the middle of that great purplish part and all,” Harry said,
finally turning on the bench to look at Ron now that he was somewhat clothed.
“Maybe you should have Madam Pomfrey take a look—“
“No, I think it’ll be all right,” Ron interrupted, realizing
he was probably a bit too hasty with jumping in. “I mean, it doesn’t hurt
Bugger. He hated lying to Harry. He could lie to
most people – his parents, the teachers, the Muggle neighbors from Ottery St.
Catchpole when they came to complain about odd noises and smells when the twins
still lived at the Burrow... He could lie to them and not feel a thing. But
there were some people he just couldn’t lie to: Harry and Hermione, Dumbledore
(as if it would do any good anyway), and a few others that he considered to be
friends so close that it felt positively disloyal to lie to them. And
disloyalty to his friends was something Ron just couldn’t stomach.
It was quiet until Ron finished tying his first trainer. He
set his foot down on the floor and made a decision. Without looking at Harry,
he said softly, “It’s not a bruise.”
Feeling Harry’s curious eyes on him, as expected, he didn’t
turn, but reached down for his other trainer and busied himself with putting it
“It’s not?” Harry asked. “Then – it’s a...birthmark? I
never noticed—at least, you never told me--“
“It’s not a birthmark either, Harry,” he said, closing his
eyes an extra-long moment and wondering if he should have started into this.
But it was too late now. “That is to say – I wasn’t born with it. But it is
pretty permanent. So far.”
He’d known Harry for so long he could almost feel the gears
churning away in his friend’s brain. He’d never told anyone about this
before and he couldn’t bring himself to look just yet – and with a sinking
feeling he knew Harry would come up with the real answer...any moment now...
“Not a birthmark?” There was a pause – and with the next
words Harry spoke, Ron could hear the smirk in his voice. “Wait - it’s not – no,
it couldn’t be –“ Another great pause. “--Is it?”
Ron shook his head, still staring at the locker fronts
before him. “Go ahead. Laugh. I know, it is pretty funny, as long as you’re
not the one stuck with it. Go on.”
Harry coughed a bit, and may have given a little half-snort,
but even Ron had to appreciate the fact that his best friend was doing his
damnedest not to guffaw out loud.
“I’m – not laughing,” Harry said. “So Ginny wasn’t lying?”
“Not exactly,” Ron said, feeling mortified, but
finally turning on the bench to look at his best friend. “She said it was a
tattoo – and it’s not. It’s a spell that acts like a tattoo. And it’s a
Puffskein, not a Pygmy Puff.”
“Oh,” Harry said, still struggling to hold down something
that looked very anxious to burst out of him. “Sure. I see the difference. But
how did a spell get – there?”
“It’s kind of a long story,” Ron said. “A Fred and George
story, if that tells you anything. You remember I told you that I had a Puffskein
named Killer once, when I was ten? And that the poor little bloke sort of met
his maker when Fred and George used him for Beater practice?”
“Lucky for them the animal cruelty people weren’t around
just then,” Harry said.
“Not lucky enough for my Puffskein, though – or me,” Ron
said. “I told Mum and Dad and got Fred and George in loads of
trouble. Big mistake. Then they were on me ten times worse. It was summer and
the two of them would follow me around all day, saying I was in love with
Killer and how could I possibly live without my ickle Puffskein. It was damned
near unbearable. One night it was really hot, the attic was like an oven, and I
was trying to sleep. So I wasn’t wearing much– and I woke up with...it.
“Of course, I knew who’d done it,
and I tried all manner of things to get rid of it before anyone saw. In fact,
I was really trying to get it off before Fred and George got to me – you know,
hoping they’d think the spell hadn’t worked or something. But it wouldn’t wash
off or scrub off no matter what I used, I couldn’t do much magic at ten, and it
was no use. Later that day, the twins cornered me in my room and told me it was
a really powerful spell, which it must be because I can’t get rid of the bloody
thing even now. Their point, they said then, was that since Killer was my true
love, the spell made it so that he could be with me always.”
“So there’s no way to get it off
at all?” Harry asked, not as amused by the whole thing now.
“Just one, they told me – though
who knows if it’s true...” Ron said. “They said someone with a brilliant mind
might be able to figure out the counter-spell – but the catch was that the
someone also had to replace Killer as my true love. Then they laughed for a
long time about what the chances of that happening were and how someone as
stupid as me would never have someone fall in love with me, let alone someone
smart. Actually, come to that, it’s more of a curse than a spell – but the
twins are probably right. It’ll likely be there forever.”
“But Ron, haven’t you ever gone to
St. Mungo’s to see if you can have it off?” Harry asked, now concerned.
“And have to tell my parents why?”
Ron asked. “Oh, no. No, no.”
“You’re of age now, you’re old
enough to go yourself,” Harry said encouragingly.
“And have to tell that whole
embarrassing story to a bunch of medi-wizards and witches? No thanks. I don’t
want anyone else to know about it.” Ron laced his fingers together in
his lap and stared at them, thinking.
It became quiet for a few minutes.
“So...did Lavender ever see it?”
Harry asked timidly.
“What?!” Ron answered, outraged.
“Oh, hell no! And thank Merlin, because the idiot thing is periwinkle
“Isn’t that color pretty close to
“Shut it, Harry,” Ron interrupted,
pointing a finger at his friend menacingly. “I said it was periwinkle blue – all
right?” Suddenly Ron felt rather bad for being so threatening with Harry
when none of this had anything to do with him. He’d just wandered into the
wrong place at the wrong time and seen something he hadn’t intended to.
“But you said it’s a Puffskein. Aren’t
Puffskeins kind of custard-colored?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” Ron said disgustedly.
“Forgot to tell you that part. That night, when the twins first did the spell
from the hallway, they told me they couldn’t see the ‘tattoo’ well enough at
first because the color of the thing was too close to my skin color. So that’s
when they looked at the color my mum had Spell-painted our hallway and chose
periwinkle blue. Miraculously for the twins, they were smart enough to figure
out how to change the color of the thing. Yes, that’s one of the colors you can
now order Pygmy Puffs in. Yes, it was me who inspired Fred’s and George’s sick,
misguided minds to breed them into little, cute things in shades of pink and
purple. Every time I see one of those little blighters it reminds me of this
whole mess. Good of me to help make them richer, too, eh?”
Again it was quiet between them
for a few minutes. Ron was preparing to stand to leave when Harry pushed him
back down on the bench.
“You know, Ron,” Harry started
seriously and without looking at his best friend. “There is someone you
know who has quite the brilliant mind...not that I’m suggesting there’s
anything like love between the two of you, so I’m not sure that would
work either. But she might be willing to try...”
Ron smiled, his ears reddening at
the suggestion. “I can see it now. I reach to the back of my trousers and say,
‘Hermione, if I pull this down just here, would you mind...?’ “
Both of them laughed at the
“Sorry, Harry, but it’s likely
going to be some time before she wants to see the likes of that Puffskein, if
ever – I mean, where it is...It’s hard to imagine me and Hermione getting
‘round to something like that.”
“Although sometimes I can see what
you mean, the way you two go at it—“ Harry started.
“Though we’re not always
fighting any more—“
“Ron! Let me finish, mate,” Harry
insisted. “What I was going to say – besides the fact that you two are so
slow at getting started – is that there’ve been a few passionate, heated
arguments I’ve seen between you that looked like they could turn pretty quickly
into passionate, heated something else – and no telling, once things actually
get started, how it would go.”
Ron started to speak, but just as quickly stopped. Bloody
hell, was it that obvious to everyone else? He’d felt sparks for years when he
and Hermione bickered and couldn’t remember ever not feeling them. Earlier
this year, he’d thought he understood, but he’d been half right and half wrong.
He’d thought it was simple sexual attraction that caused the sparks and he’d
fully expected to feel them when he’d been attracted to Lavender—but though
what he felt with Lavender was nice, it most definitely wasn’t sparks.
Ron learned then that it wasn’t just the attraction that mattered, but some deep,
mystical, chemical, magical bond with the person one was attracted to –
completely unexplainable and wondrous, yes, but also completely and forcefully
there with Hermione—and only with Hermione. That doesn’t mean what I
think it means...does it?
“What?” Harry teased. “You with nothing to say?”
Ron’s face went very hot and he could feel a sheepish grin
creeping up on him. “She is brilliant, that we know. And sometimes things go
all right with us– sometimes really all right.” He shrugged, still
grinning. “I don’t know, maybe it could happen...someday...”
Closing her eyes to rest them from reading, she layed back
on the blanket and felt the rays of the morning sun bathe her skin in glorious
warmth. Lying near the Weasley’s backyard pond, Hermione hadn’t yet ventured in
for a swim, but the thought that she could do so on a whim or simply lie about basking
in her swimsuit took her far from the demands she knew she’d be facing soon. There
would be precious few days like this in the coming months and she’d better make
the best of them while she could. The calm before the storm couldn’t even begin
to describe their circumstances. The kind of journey she, Harry, and Ron would
undertake in a matter of days to locate the remaining Horcruxes would not be
just stormy, but more likely life-, if not world-threatening.
“Ron, what are you doing, mate?”
She might not have heard Charlie’s voice from this distance
had everything not been so still, and she was quite certain he didn’t intend for
her to hear.
“What?” Ron asked, sounding a bit irritable and as if he
thought Charlie was mad. “I’m stacking all these chairs like Mum told me, so we
can send them back to the rental shop. What does it look like I’m
Bill and Fleur’s wedding had been two days ago, perfect and blissfully
uninterrupted by the current stark, ugly realities of the wizarding world.
Though it was the Dark thought in the back of everyone’s minds, no one dared
bring up the idea that Death Eaters or worse might see a gathering with a guest
list comprised of Aurors, Order members, and blood traitors as a golden
opportunity to commit mayhem or murder.
“Didn’t you see Hermione over there?” Charlie asked.
“Yeah, she’s reading --” Ron answered, obviously now turning
her way, “–well, she was. So what’s new?”
“Don’t you see she looks –“
“Yeah, she does, doesn’t she?” Ron interrupted Charlie with
a snigger and a wolfish tone that Hermione suspected was reserved solely for
female appreciation between brothers and close male friends.
“No, you dolt, though I’d have to say you are quite right,
for once,” Charlie responded.
Hermione knew she really ought to be annoyed at Ron for
saying such a thing, but for some reason it made her feel just the slightest bit
fluttery to know he felt that way. Besides, it couldn’t be bad if a connoisseur
of women like Charlie Weasley thought so, too. She had to work to keep the
smile from her face, but she could feel it wriggling inside, all the way to her
“But I was going to say she looks lonely,” Charlie
said. “Don’t you know a cue when you see one?”
Hermione heard Charlie make an exasperated noise. “How did
you ever become a Weasley male, little brother?” He sighed. “All right,
I reckon you have a little more time to prove yourself. Here, I’ll do
this and head off Mum if she comes out. Someone that lovely – well, you don’t
waste the chance to go keep her company.”
“Fine by me,” she heard Ron say.
She heard no more talking, but soon heard chairs clattering again
and the soft thud of footsteps on earth coming nearer. Just to irritate him,
she didn’t twitch a muscle when she felt Ron throw his long body down on the
blanket less than a meter away from her. There was no chance she could ignore
her senses telling her he was that close, but at least she’d had a lot of
necessary practice at ignoring all they told her to do to him.
“Hermione,” he singsonged very softly, apparently trying to
wake her if she was sleeping and get her attention if she was awake.
Oh, Merlin, was he--? Something soft and a little
ticklish slid down her forehead, off her nose, over her chin and down her neck
towards her chest. Oooh, he’d better not go there... But she smiled
inside again when he stopped before reaching the top of her swimsuit. Last year
he might have been just too terrified to attempt something like that, but after
several long months under the expert tutelage of Lavender Brown, she knew he
was experienced enough that choice and propriety stayed his hand, not terror.
Ron Weasley could definitely be a gentleman.
But it seemed he was a gentleman who, in drawing whatever
that was down her face and now tickling at her cheek with it, at least
pretended he had no clue what he was doing to her. She was certain he meant it
to be annoying enough to wake her, but in truth, it was quite erotic enough to
wake her in quite another fashion. Time to stop playing games with him and
talk or he is definitely going to win by default here.
“Whatever that is, it had better disappear, magically or
otherwise,” Hermione said, still without opening her eyes.
“Why?” Ron said smugly. “Was it bothering you?”
Bugger. She could tell from his voice that if she did
open her eyes, he’d be looking at her with that deliciously cocky grin and he’d
be so close and she was so relaxed and tingly that it would be so easy to just
roll full body length into him and...
“Seen Harry and Ginny?” he suddenly asked, startling her
from her oncoming daydream.
“Yes, earlier,” she answered, at once relieved and yet very
disappointed that he was no longer focused entirely on her. “I think they went
for a walk into town so they could, erm, ‘not be together’.”
“That ‘not being together’ stuff’s not working out for them,
She finally turned her head and shielded her eyes from the
sun. He’d been sitting up and gazing away at the pond when she first looked,
giving her a moment to admire that jaw line that was becoming more manly and
less boyish every day. He was holding the end of a half-meter-long,
feather-shaped blade of grass between his teeth, expertly flicking the far end
up and down by using his tongue behind his teeth – so that’s what he’d
been using to play with her...
Before she’d even said a word or made a sound, he swung his
gaze her way. It made Hermione wonder if his senses were as amazingly aware of
her as hers were of him. Seeing that her eyes were now open, he slid down and
rolled on his side a little closer to her; he propped up his head with his
elbow and, removing the grass blade from between his teeth, poked at her
shoulder with the dry, wider end.
“No, I don’t think it is,” she agreed. “They just need each
other too badly right now with everything else that’s going on.”
“That, and it’s damned near impossible to get rid of a
Weasley once we’ve made up our minds,” Ron said smugly.
Oh, god. That grin. That positively wicked, dangerous
grin. He was turning it on full voltage for her, as if it was necessary,
because even a half-smile directed her way turned her instantly to mush. Once,
she’d gone as far as to look in the library to find out if there was some sort
of magic that pureblood wizards could perform through their expressions – like
Veela magic, only male – because if there was, she would have certainly found
Ron’s true magical strength. She knew she ought to close her eyes or look away,
but like a moth drawn to a flame, her willpower had simply ceased to exist. And
he knew – the worst of it was that he knew what damage that smile could do to
her. Her only defense was to turn the tables and use her own weapons to weaken
“Is that so?’ she said flirtatiously, wondering just how
much longer they could keep their passion and feelings submerged for the good
of Harry and wizardkind.
He said nothing more, but kept grinning, his eyes locked
with hers. She’d never believed much in Divination and had no illusions about
the fact that she couldn’t very well read minds. But she would have sworn, sworn,
that just now through those eyes of his, she could read the thought that dared
her: ‘Just try me’.
Even through their silence and the intensity of their
closeness at that moment they still managed to hear the firm, shrill voice of
Molly Weasley when she wandered out to discover that her assigned chair stacker
was away without leave.
Hermione watched Ron twist his neck to face toward the yard,
presumably to see if Charlie would manage to convince his mum that he was
perfectly willing and able to do it in Ron’s place.
“She’s walking back into the house,” Ron said quietly.
“Yes! Ah, Charlie’s a good bloke.” Turning his attention (and accompanying
heat, she noticed) back on Hermione, he asked, “Want to go for a swim?”
Briefly, she considered it, even though the way the summer day
was making both of them feel would definitely crank up the risk factor if they
took a swim together.
“No, I don’t think so,” Hermione answered after hedging a
bit. “I promised myself I’d finish that chapter before I moved from this
“All right,” Ron said, though she could hear a little
disappointment in his voice. He reached over and grabbed her book, plopping it
onto her legs without losing her page. “Better get reading then. Otherwise
you’ll have to come night swimming with me.” He watched her carefully for her
reaction. “Hard to say how dangerous night swimming could be.”
Trust me, I have no doubts how dangerous you – er, it –
would be, Hermione thought, though to her dismay, her heart and her body
were definitely intrigued by the idea.
She sat up and tried to ignore those stupid senses again.
She crossed her legs in front of her and adjusted her book in her lap to read. Trying
to be inconspicuous, she glanced a little in front of her as Ron hitched up his
cut-off jeans shorts as always, then pulled off his t-shirt and, running,
plunged himself into the pond.
Hermione had remembered this chapter of her book on elvish
history to be much more interesting before Ron showed up. But now she kept
getting distracted by his splashing, turning, and diving (and the wonderful
way the sun glints on his wet hair and arms and shoulders whenever he comes up
for air, she thought). At one point Ron’s swim became very quiet. She
looked up to find him only thigh-deep in water, his back turned toward her as
he stared into the reeds at something, probably a frog or a dragonfly.
It was the first time she noticed it: something purplish
peeked out over the top of his wet jeans shorts on the right side. She blushed
when she noticed his shorts had ridden far down on his narrow hips, but that
didn’t keep her from looking. Whatever it was appeared to be shaped in a
half-circle, but it had two darker marks right at his waistband, behind which
it disappeared. A flower petal? she wondered and visually scanned the
area for any sign of large bluish-purple flowers. But there were none to be
When she glanced back at Ron again, he had just turned and
hitched up his shorts; he stared at her curiously, as if trying to tell if
she’d been watching him.
Thank heavens she’d been looking for flowers when he wheeled
around, she thought. Otherwise, she’d have a lot more explaining to do.
Either what he’d seen in the reeds, or what he was afraid
she’d seen of him seemed to have dampened his enthusiasm for swimming. He
rather expertly stroked his way back to the shore in front of her and emerged
in a rather serious mood. Hitching his jeans shorts up the instant he got out,
he was careful to swing his backside away from her before stretching out face
up on the blanket.
Hermione waited for him to say something, but when he didn’t
she went back to her reading. After ten minutes or so, she noticed his eyes had
closed, his breathing had become very even and a little deeper; she wondered if
he’d fallen asleep.
Carefully leaning back to peer as far as she could under him
at his lower back, she could see the very edge of a dark line that appeared stuck
to him with only a narrow strip of light purple visible above his waistband. Cocking
her head, she tried to make some sense of what it was.
“What?” he said, his voice a little edgy. Obviously those
senses of his had foiled her again. “What are you looking at?” He squinted at
her with only one eye open.
“How did you –“ Hermione began, perplexed. “Never mind. But
what is that? I think you have something stuck on you from the water—maybe
a flower petal or something?”
“Oh, so you were looking,” Ron said accusingly, both
eyes open and glaring at her now. “It’s nothing.”
“Yes, it is,” Hermione protested, starting to lean down to
point. “It’s right—“
“I know where it is,” Ron said, his voice rising.
“It’s nothing, all right?”
Hermione shrank back a little; he was obviously rather
sensitive about the subject. “Oh. All right then.”
Ron closed his eyes again. She tried to keep hers to
herself, but whatever it was just kept drawing her eyes toward it almost
magnetically – especially now that Ron had told her it was nothing. If she
scooted a little around this way and leaned back just so...
“You’re still staring,” Ron said dangerously, glaring at her
“I’m just trying to make sure it’s not going to --”
Ron sighed, obviously running low on patience. “No, it’s not
a flower. It’s not a bruise or a birthmark. It’s nothing that’s going to do me
any physical harm. Now drop it!”
Hermione was getting just a bit annoyed herself with his
nasty attitude. She was trying to be helpful. It could have been something
harmful, she convinced herself. But if he was going to be that way about it,
she’d just go for the truth. “It’s that tattoo Ginny told us about last year,
isn’t it? It really is there.”
“It’s not a tattoo!” Ron said tersely, giving up on
sunbathing and pulling himself into a sitting position. He grabbed his T-shirt only
to roughly pull it on. “Think, Hermione. What bloke in their right mind would
have anything that color tattoo-ed on them by choice? And there, of all
places. It’s a spell – all right? There are only a very few people who know.
Now you’re one of them -- happy?”
Now that was a surprise. “A spell?”
“Yes, a spell,” Ron confirmed loudly. “One that
includes Fred and George and a Puffskein and true love. Cheesy, eh? But of
course we’re talking about Fred and George at age twelve here – twelve going on
Hermione glanced behind her into the yard to see that now
both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, along with Charlie, were shooting odd looks their
way. Apparently, their voices had risen
to the point that others were wondering what was going on.
“Do they know?” she asked, nodding her head in the direction
of the yard.
Ron glanced back. “No.”
“Then put your trainers on,” she ordered. “We’re going for
a walk.” Hermione stood and pulled shorts on over her swimsuit, then slipped on
“A walk?”Ron asked, still sitting. “Why can’t we just
“Because I read about something once that was oddly
similar,” Hermione said. “But you’ll need to tell me more about how it happened
– and you don’t seem relaxed enough to do it quietly. On the other hand, if you
don’t mind for all of your family and half the neighborhood to hear you
shouting about it, that’s fine by me.”
“Just forget about it, Hermione,” Ron said. “It’s been there
for a long time, it’ll probably be there a lot longer, and there’s probably
nothing anyone can do about it.”
“What if I can?” she asked stubbornly.
“Can what? Do something about it? Oh, I wouldn’t count on it,”
Ron said, sounding uncomfortable and pulling at his ear a moment when it
started to redden. “Besides, it’s way too weird talking with you about
something that’s...there...It’d feel too, erm, strange, to have you do
anything about it.”
“Does it bother you or not?” Hermione said primly. “It
certainly sounds like it does, and like it has for a long time.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Yeah, of course it bothers me.”
“If someone had done a spell on me that was making me feel
badly or hurt me somehow, wouldn’t you do all you could to help me?” Hermione
asked, feeling herself on the course to victory. “And you’d better say yes,
because if you tell me otherwise, you’re just lying to the both of us.”
Ron seemed to realize, helplessly, that he was being led
into a trap. “Yeah, I’d help you,” he said sullenly. “You know I would.”
“Exactly,” she said triumphantly. “Would it matter where on
my body the spell injured me? If it was really painful?”
Sighing, Ron said resignedly, “No. Well, it might
matter...but I’d still try to help if it was hurting you.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said. “Let’s go.”
Ron grimaced and stood. He shoved his feet into his trainers
and leaned down to stuff the laces inside without tying them. “So where are we
“That’s your choice,” she said. “I don’t know my way
“Oh, so I really do get a choice about something?”
Ron looked down at her.
Hermione just stared at him for several minutes. Sometimes,
he was just so ruddy exasperating! “Look. Are you going to be a real pain about
all of this? Because we don’t have to do this, you know. I’m certain I don’t
care because I’m not the one with a purple spell something stuck
to my bum. I’m not the one who needs a friend who just might be able to
help me get rid of it. Maybe you really do like it – maybe you’re afraid
someone would be able to do something about it and break the spell to
get it off. It’s entirely up to you whether we go or not.”
Ron scowled and pulled his mouth taut. “All right. Come on.
I think I know where we can go to talk.”
On the far side of the pond there was a small wooded area
that came nearly to the water’s edge. Hermione followed Ron’s lead around the
pond and into the woods. Several dozen meters in, there was an enormous oak
tree that had branches so long and thick that they nearly touched the ground.
The foliage was so dense it was impossible to see beyond the tree. Ron knew
exactly where there was a break in the branches that would allow access inside.
Hermione followed him in and looked around in wonder at what was quite nearly a
huge room under the boughs, protected from prying eyes by the foliage of the
Several old stumps had been dragged inside and obviously
served as seats, so Ron offered one to Hermione and took one himself.
“Wow,” Hermione said. “What is this place?”
“We used to make forts and stuff here when we were kids,”
Ron explained. “Later on. Bill and Charlie started to use it for, well, other
things with the girls in the neighborhood. Probably the twins, too. So you
might not want to mention I brought you out here. For your sake, o’course.”
Hermione blushed. “So did you ever bring any of the
neighborhood girls out here? Sounds almost like a Weasley tradition.”
“No,” Ron said, frowning. “I didn’t, and it’s not a
tradition. In fact, I feel weird bringing you out here because...well, talking
about this whole thing with you is weird, anyway.”
“It’s okay, Ron,” Hermione said encouragingly. “We’ve been
friends for a long time – and I don’t mind. Now tell me how it happened, as
much as you know.”
Ron told Hermione the same story he’d told Harry months ago
in the Gryffindor changing room. By the end she was so furious with the twins
she could have hexed them to Siberia. But they got to the finish and Ron acted
as if he was holding something back.
“So that’s it?” she asked.
“Isn’t that enough?” Ron replied.
“I thought you said something strange about true love being
tied in with it,” Hermione said.
Ron looked as if he was cursing himself for ever starting
into this. “You have far too good a memory, Hermione. Yeah, there is a bit
about that, too. Since bloody Fred and George did the spell supposedly because
Killer was my true love,” he stopped to almost gag at this point, “they said
they made it so that the spell can only be broken by someone who would replace
Killer as my true love. Talk about a sick friggin’ fairy tale.”
The true love bit threw Hermione off a bit, but she decided
she was already in this far.
“You know, the whole thing does sound rather like something
I read in Hogwarts, A History—“
Ron rolled his eyes and looked skyward. “Oh, here we go...”
“Just listen, please,” Hermione said in exasperation. “Ron, this
might be easy. I think this is from a very, very old spell. When the Founders
were developing Hogwarts, they made a pact with one another to stick together,
at least long enough to finish what they had started and create the best
wizarding school in the world. There was no other way to make any kind of
commitment, so they created this spell and each of them was to be
Spell-tattoo-ed with their house crest. But wizards and witches live a long
time and they wanted to make some provision for when the school was in working
order that their pact could be somewhat relaxed and other parts of their lives
could grow as well. Godric Gryffindor was a big believer in love as powerful
magic, as were Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw. They outnumbered and
outvoted Slytherin, making it so that the only way any one of them could get
out of their commitment to one another would be if they found their true love.”
“Wow,” Ron said. “That does sound rather like the same
spell. But do you remember how it was done?”
Hermione just looked at him as if he was mad.
“I know, all right, stupid question,” Ron said. “But do you
think Fred and George would ever read Hogwarts, a History?”
“Who knows?” Hermione answered. “But they could have heard
about it at Hogwarts somehow because they were going there by that time.
Knowing them, they might have read only what they needed to know to do the
spell. Has anyone ever tried to take it off before? Besides you, of course?”
“How many people do you think I’ve shown it to, Hermione?”
“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t even go to St.
Mungo’s,” she said. “It can’t be so bad you don’t even want the mediwizards to
“Yeah. It is.”
“Why do you say that?” Hermione asked in exasperation.
“Who could have told you it was that bad if no one’s seen it? You never even
“It’s not the kind of thing blokes show other blokes,” Ron
said insistently. “Although Harry did see it once – by accident. He didn’t say
anything bad, but that’s because I told him the story – and swore him to
“There you go,” Hermione said. “I’m sure Harry would have
told you if it was that...” Hermione thought for a moment about their mutual
best friend. “Hmmm...well, maybe not Harry.”
“Yeah, see?” Ron said. “Harry’s too nice – with stuff like
that. He’d never say, no matter what.”
But Hermione wouldn’t give up. “Has anyone else seen it and
told you it was horrible?”
“Just Ginny,” Ron said, drawing his legs up onto the stump
and crossing them in front of him. “She saw it once – by mistake – when I got
out of the pond wearing Charlie’s hand-me-down shorts. They were a little big
and heavy because they were wet and they slipped down a little...kinda like you
saw...” Ron’s ears began to turn red at the tips.
“Well, never mind that now,” she said, blushing that she’d
been caught. “So what could she have possibly said that was that bad?”
Now Ron’s face was turning red and he spoke very softly.
“She said it was so ugly it made her want to claw her eyes out.”
Hermione choked a little and covered her mouth with her
“See?” Ron said accusingly. “See? You’ll laugh. You’re gonna
Hermione cleared her throat and tried to sound very clinical.
“No, no I’m not going to laugh. Ginny said that? Well, that’s sort of a
little sister thing to say. I mean, look at some of the other things she’s told
you in anger. I’m certain it can’t be that bad.”
Scowling, Ron demanded, “What if it is? What if it makes
you want to claw your eyes out? You might never want to see me or speak
to me again and—“
“Ron!” she said loudly, trying to shock him into listening.
“That’s not going to happen. The fact is, if you don’t trust me, and the
twins told you the truth, you might never get rid of it. I don’t know if I’m
the brilliant mind they were talking about, and only you could say if I was the
Both of them blushed and quickly looked down into their
laps, shooting shy glances at one another when she couldn’t finish her
sentence. There was no doubt that both of them had immediately filled in the
Ron looked as if he didn’t know which was worse, the silence
hanging over them about her last remark, or the decision to let her try and
remove the spell.
“Well?” Ron said, looking at her.
“Well?” she replied, looking at him.
“All right,” he said quietly. “It would be nice to be rid
of it. If you think you can handle it.”
Hermione tutted and sighed. “As if I haven’t handled
“But I’m leaving my shirt on, and loosening my shorts down
just enough so you can—“ He was blushing furiously all over again.
“Fine,” Hermione interrupted, reaching for the wand in her
back pocket. “Turn around, and maybe you can... lean against the trunk of the
They both took a few steps to position themselves, then Ron
unbuttoned, unzipped, and wiggled his shorts down just enough for the Puffskein
to show his little face. Once he appeared to be certain that the shorts were
going no farther on their own, he pulled up that side of his shirt back so
Hermione could work.
“Ron,” Hermione started, trying hard to resist telling him
it was cute, “why is it – that color?”
“It’s not!” Ron said. “It’s periwinkle blue! Now get on with
it, please, I feel like a stupid git!”
Hermione went over the incantation in her mind and raised
her wand. But just before she began, Ron stopped her.
“Wait -- Hermione?” he said, unable to face her and speaking
much more softly now. “Uh, the true love thing? I’m not sure it’s – it’s
“Well, I mean, in case it doesn’t work,” he said. “That
might not mean anything – even if it doesn’t work.”
“So...” Hermione said, thinking, “then if it doesn’t, then
that means I’m not—“
“That’s not what I mean,” Ron interrupted. “With the twins’
stupid spell, it probably doesn’t mean anything.”
“Oh,” Hermione said softly, wondering if, inside his heart,
he knew some other reason it might not work. “But what if it does work?”
“Then...” Ron started, pausing before continuing and still
faced toward the tree. ”Then I’d say the Founders were pretty damned smart.”
His hand was twitching nervously where he leaned with his arm against the tree.
“Just – do it, Hermione.”
Hermione raised her wand and pointed, then intensely as she
could, she incanted the spell.
That afternoon, Fred and George waited alone together in the
back yard for Charlie, who hadn’t yet seen some of their new designs at the
shop. Before Charlie’s vacation ended and he had to return to Romania, they intended to remedy that situation.
As they stood waiting, they noticed squealing and laughter
coming from the direction of the pond. Ron and Hermione were splashing and
laughing, chasing and playing in the deeper waters.
“Hey, Fred,” George said, “take a look at those two
“Yeah,” Fred said. “But they’ll never figure out
that they are. Sad, I know, but true.”
They talked and laughed about the unlikelihood of little
Ronniekins ever understanding women enough to land a truly brilliant and
good-looking girl like Hermione – at least for long.
Soon Hermione and Ron emerged from the pond, dripping,
breathing hard from playing, and still laughing at what appeared to be some
private joke. Ron walked to the side of the blanket closest to the place from
where Fred and George watched. He leaned over and picked up the blanket, then
stood straight again without bothering to hitch up his shorts. Ron then shook
the blanket soundly, and snapped it out flat so it floated smoothly to the
Hermione crawled on top of it, sat, and started wringing out
her hair over the side, talking to Ron all the while. Strangely, Ron just stood
for the longest time with his bare back to Fred and George, though he’d given
no indication that he even knew they were there.
Suddenly Fred got a stricken expression on his face and,
staring straight ahead, grabbed George at his side roughly by the arm and held
“Ow!” George complained.
“Good lord, George!” Fred said in a strained voice. “Look at
Ron’s arse! Where’s the bloody Pygmy Puff?”
George tried to focus on what Fred was gawping at, and when
he did, his jaw dropped as well.
As if he had somehow heard them, their youngest brother
looked back and waved, and flashed them an enormous and satisfied grin. Then Ron
turned and sat down on the blanket next to Hermione – very close to
Hermione – obviously entertaining a very special friend, and the promise of so
~~ The End ~~