The Sugar Quill
Author: Katherina Black (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: What Witches Want  Chapter: Part One
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Part 01

 

Ron was doing something he didn't usually do; he was pondering. Being very much a hot tempered, spur-of-the-moment person, Ron didn't usually risk getting too deep in thoughts - after all, he'd seen the effect that could have on people.

But today, Ron sat in the library, ignoring his divination homework and instead working his way through a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans in a despondent manner. And he was going over yet another of his and Hermione's arguments in his head. He just didn't get girls and the whole set of complex unwritten rules which seemed to come with them. Take yesterday, for example. He and Hermione, who was usually a sensible person, had just been talking normally. Then he'd said something - Ron could hardly even remember what now - and Hermione had started going into one of her off-the-wall utterly irrelevant speeches.

Wish I had some insight into the female brain, Ron thought, irritated, to himself. His bad mood was not improved by the fact that he'd just popped a disgusting Brick flavoured bean into his mouth in his lapse of concentration. Ron gagged and hurridly reached for another bean to take the gritty flavour of cement and granite from his tongue.

The bean he'd picked was silver - which was strange, as Ron had never come across a silver bean before. What could be? Metal? Then, looking more closely at it, Ron realised that it was a blend of different colours, making it appear silvery in the light.

Ron weighed up his options. Well, anything had to be better than having part of a wall in his mouth, he decided as he hurridly put the silver bean in his mouth...

*

"Ron...Ron! Wake up!" Somebody was shaking him awake. Ron half opened his eyes. Ginny was shaking him awake.

"You must have fallen asleep," Ginny said, as Ron groggily lifted up his heavy head.

"Wha-? Oh. Right," Ron said confusedly, catching sight of his divination text book and remembering where he was. He opened up the book and attempted to read it, though his head felt like he'd had too much of the strong version of butterbeer. Ron was just trying to work out the bit about the importance of the Sun and other planets in certain houses, when he heard Ginny's voice.

"Harry's probably at Quidditch Practice. I wonder if...no. He probably wouldn't even notice me, let alone sweep me up in a loving embrace..."

Ron spluttered. "Ginny, please! I am not one of your girl-friends!" he said, a look of disgust beginning to form on his freckled face.

"I didn't say you were," said Ginny, looking up from her homework with a puzzled face.

"No, but I'm Harry's best friend. I'm not exactly the best person to confide in about your crush on him," Ron protested. He'd thought that Ginny was over this nonsense about Harry - but it was just another example to prove how strange females were.

"What?" said Ginny, but she turned as red as the philosopher's stone.

"All I'm saying is, keep your girly comments about Harry to yourself," said Ron, giving up all hope on his divination homework.

"Ron, I haven't said a word to you about Harry or anybody else..." Ginny said, now extremely puzzled, and extremely red. "You must have imagined it."

Ron opened his mouth to argue, but Ginny had already picked up her quill and started writing again. He instead satisfied himself with muttering to himself something about girls being mad. He started reading again, but the library hadn't been silent for two seconds before he clearly heard his sister again.

"How on earth did he know what I was thinking? Oh well...Poor Colin, I can't believe he asked me out..."

"Colin Creevey asked you out?!" said Ron, incredulously. Ginny's face was a map of astonishment.

"How did you know that?" she said, making frantic shushing gestures at her brother, and glancing around her. "Did Colin tell you?"

"No," said Ron, wondering if his sister was going mad. "You just did. Just now."

Ginny stared at her brother. Then something extremely odd happened: Ron very clearly heard Ginny's voice saying, "What is he talking about? If Colin's been spreading this, I'll curse him." but he was equally certain that Ginny hadn't even opened her mouth.

Ron blinked, then shook his head, vigurously. "Are you okay?" Ginny asked (this time by means of her mouth)

"Fine, I'm fine," said Ron, slightly hoarsely, slamming his text book shut.

"For Merlin's sake, Ron, it's not that hard," Ron realised fo the first time that Parvati Patil was sitting at the other end of the long table. He also noticed (distatsefully) that she was whizzing through her divination homework.

Then, it happened again!

"Oops, almost time to meet Padma..." Ron heard Parvati say, and he saw Parvati check her watch, then begin to pack away her things - but Parvati hadn't even been talking.

"Er - are you going to meet your sister, Parvati?" Ron blurted out as Parvati stood up to leave.

"Yeah, how did you know?" asked Parvati.

"Er - didn't you just say so?"

"No, I didn't say anything," said Parvati, leaving with a curious expression.

"Are you sure you're okay?" said Ginny, looking at her brother with a worried expression. He kept blinking, and shaking his head. "How come you fell asleep anyway?"

Ron thought about it...how had he fallen asleep? Then, very slowly, the memory came back. He'd eaten a bean. A silver, glowing bean. And it had transported him to another realm, where things were very strange..? No. Ron racked his brains...what else? He'd been sitting there, wishing he had...

Ron stopped. Wishing that he had some insight into the female brain.

Just then a group of girls entered the library. For Ron, it was like being caught in a hailstorm of owls. At least ten different loud, female voices entered his head.

"I hate the smell of the library..."

"I hope he doesn't find out..."

"I can't believe she just..."

"...really..."

"...can it?"

"...so dusty in here..."

Ron, eyes as big as head lamps, looked quickly from Madame Pince, the librarian, to the gaggle of girls. Not one of them was talking, yet he still had a barrage of voices in his head. Madame Pince hadn't kicked them out yet, which meant she couldn't hear them (Madam Pince was an extremely short tempered lady who didn't hold with noise). Ginny seemed oblivious, too.

"Ginny," Ron hissed. "Can you hear that?"

"Hear what?" Ginny said. Then she watched as her brother stood up and fled.

*

Ron had considered going to the hospital wing, but he'd put his head round the door, heard Madame Pomfrey look up and say (or think) "I thought it'd only be a matter of time before a Weasley got sent in again," without opening her mouth once, and slammed the door behind him.

Okay. Okay. Ron leant again the hospital wing door, breathing deeply. He was very slowly going mad, it seemed. Nothing to worry about. But meanwhile, he'd like to know JUST WHAT IN MERLIN'S NAME WAS GOING ON!?

Ron decided there was really only one person he could go to. He sprinted down the steps.

*

"And what do you think has happened?" Dumbledore asked in his usual direct manner, once Ron, feeling very stupid, had finished his explanation.

"I think...well, I think, sir, that...I can hear what girls are thinking," said Ron, feeling now extremely stupid.

"I see," said Dumbledore, more serious now, though Ron saw that his mouth was twitching slightly. "How interesting," he added, half to himself. Then he turned back to Ron, who was now fidgeting slightly in his chair.

"Well, Mr. Weasley - I only have a very vague theory of what may have happened to you. Magic is very complex, you see, far more so than we can recognise. Perhaps sometimes powers come to you when you need them. It can't be explained, but has been this way for centuries, I believe.

"There are, however, two things of which I am certain: the first, is that this power should only stay with you for seven days. The second, is that if you wish to be rid of it before then, you must prove that you don't need this power."

Ron digested all of this. "So, I have to prove that I don't have to read witches' thoughts?" he said.

"Either that or you could wait out the seven days," Dumbledore said. "I must say, you are in possession of an extremely useful, if slightly strange power," he added with a twinkle. "Much better than the power one of my own friends got when he found himself in a similar situation."

*

"Harry! Harry!" Ron leant over his friend, who was fast asleep after an exhausting Quidditch practice. "I need to tell you something."

Harry opened one eye and rolled over, burying his face in the downy pillows. "Ron, this had better be good..." came the muffled moan.

"Harry - I think I've got a mind reading power!"

"Professor Trelawny has really got to you, hasn't she?" said Harry, amusedly from the depths of the pillows.

"No, seriously! Listen, I was in the library earlier, yeah, and I was sitting there thinking about how me and Hermione are always arguing, and I was wishing that I knew what girls were thinking, or something, and it came true!"

Harry sat up. For a moment, Ron wasn't sure if he was going to laugh or simply look astounded. He went for a mixture of the two.

"You're saying that you can read girl's thoughts?" Harry said, a repressed smile breaking out.

"I know it sounds barking," Ron said, sitting down on his own bed. "But I woke up, and I swear I could hear what they were thinking! And then I went to see Dumbledore, and he -"

"He what?" Harry said, the laughter dying at this.

"Well, actually what he said was, that he needed more time to work this one out and I either have to cope with hearing witches' thoughts for a week, or prove I don't need to. I suppose that's him telling me I've got to work this one out by myself."

Harry stared at Ron, who was by now breathless, but frowning in concentration. Then Harry flopped backwards onto the bed and laughed his head off.

"Sorry, sorry," Harry apologised once he'd stopped. "Er, okay, so what are you going to do?"

"I haven't got a clue," Ron said.

*

It was all very well to see the joke in this bizarre situation, but by the end of the evening Ron was being driven mad. It was like having a constant, raging headache. Suddenly, there were girls everywhere he went. And all their thoughts were being shouted to him whether he liked it or not.

"I don't want to KNOW about your lovelife!" He at last yelled at a shocked Ravenclaw girl who'd been standing minding her own business.

Ron tried to explain this to Harry, but his friend who was not burdened with acting as a satellite for female thoughts, shrugged.

"You've got a gift," Harry said sleepily. They were talking in the darkness of the dormitory.

"A gift? a gift? Being able to ballet dance is a gift. Being as brainy as Hermione is a gift. This is not a frigging gift!"

"Ron, you can read minds. That's got to be an advantage." Ron was about to snap back another cynical answer, when he thought about it. How on earth could this be an advantage? He was still thinking when everybody else in their dormitory had long been asleep.

*

"It's okay, everybody; don't bother helping, after all I'm only Eloise Midgen..."

Ron looked down and saw Eloise Midgen, looking more than a little downcast, hastily trying to gather the books she'd dropped as people hurried to their morning classes. Ron bent over and picked up the last of her books, then handed them to her.

"Oh," said Eloise Midgen, looking distinctly suprised. "Thanks, er..."

"Ron," Ron said quickly.

"Of course. The one who has a problem with my nose being a millimeter off center, like every other typical boy/arsehole in this school."

"Who told you that?" Ron said, suprised and embarrassed.

"Told me what?" Eloise said.

"Nothing," Ron said, running up to join Harry.

And the worst thing was, as Ron was fast discovering, he didn't exactly like all of what he heard. In fact, Ron didn't know what was worse, hearing himself described as an arsehole three times, or hearing that a Second year he'd passed earlier on thought he was "cute".

*

"Hey, Herms, how come you skipped breakfast?"

"Library," Hermione said simply. Ron started to gawp but then he remembered something else.

Oh no. Ron had forgotten that, due to his new powers, he would now be party to one of his best friend's thoughts. He just couldn't read Hermione's thoughts and look innocent. He didn't want to.

Ron gave Harry an agonized look accompanied with convincing gestures as Hermione went to talk to Professor Flitwick.

"It's okay, we just won't tell her," Harry whispered. "I mean, you know Hermione, she'll want to keep you in isolation so that you can't infringe on peoples' privacy." Ron moaned and smacked his forehead but Hermione had already sat herself down next to him.

"Hi!" she said brightly. What she thought was: "Hmm, Ron looks very pale, he's probably been eating too many sweets" (It was all Ron could do to stop himself shouting, "I have not!")

"Are you okay, Ron?" Hermione said casually. "You look pale."

"Fine, I'm fine," Ron muttered. "Slightly restless night, that's all."

"I'll say," Harry murmured with a grin, before Ron elbowed him.

"Er, Harry, wouldn't it be easier if you worked over here, next to Hermione?" Ron hinted.

"Oh great, they've got some kind of boy thing going on and they don't want me to know," Hermione thought. Ron jumped. "I wish that I didn't have to feel like such a gooseberry half the time I'm with them. And what's worse is, they don't even seem to notice...oh well. It was inevitable, I suppose...boys will be boys and all that..."

"Aa-shoo!" Hermione's train of thoughts was interuptted when she sneezed. Then she sneezed again. And again. It seemed that she couldn't go five minutes without sneezing.

"Oh no," Hermione groaned. "I'm allergic to something in here," she said, casting her eyes around, looking for the culprit.

"Miss Granger, you have permission to go to the hospital wing," Professor Flitwick squeaked.

"Oh no! I'll miss one of my most important lessons. Aargghh! Why now?!"

Ron could hardly supress a smile as he heard this particularly Hermione-ish thought.

"I'll bring you your homework, don't worry, Hermione," Ron said as Hermione grabbed up her things. Hermione looked (and was) grateful as she sneezed them goodbye.

*

"So, great mind reader," said Harry with a grin as they started off to their next lesson. "Have you discovered the secret of what witches want yet?"

Ron shook his head, irritated. "I've heard myself described as an asshole four times already," he said in a low voice. Harry cracked up.

"And you don't want to know what girls are thinking about you, Harry," Ron added, promply shutting up his best friend ("What? What have they been thinking about me?")

But Ron wouldn't say any more. He instead concentrated on wondering if earplugs would work.

//
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