With the aid of Harry, Ron managed to survive
the day. By the end of it, though, his brain seemed have developed a habit
of naturally blocking all incoming thoughts. And of course, there had
been that undeniably sticky moment in Divination when Ron had accidently
read Professor Trelawney's thoughts and started laughing in the middle
of the lesson (Ron obviously couldn't explain that it had been because
he found his teacher's thoughts - "Focus, focus. You do not need alcohol, you do not
need that bottle. Note to self: re-read self help book."-
a hoot, so it had landed him a detention).
I really shouldn't...remember the diet, remember the diet..."
Ron looked up from his lunch, suprised, to match this train of thoughts
to Parvati Patil. Self assured Parvati on a diet? Ron thought about this
for a moment.
"Here, Parvati, have some chocolate,"
Ron said, shoving a fistful into her hand (slightly tentatively, for he
had more than an inkling that he might get the "arsehole" treatment
again). Parvati looked from Ron to the chocolate.
"Thanks, Ron, but -"
"Parvati, if you're worrying about a
diet, or whatever, don't. You don't need to lose weight, and you know
the stick insect look isn't really that attractive."
"Is Ron Weasley reading
my mind or something, or am I that obvious? Never thought he'd be the
one to give me dieting advice. Actually, I always thought he was a bit
of an -"
"Oh, Okay, then," Parvati said.
"Thanks, Ron." And Ron noted with satisfaction that she looked
a lot happier. He settled down to finish his lunch, unconsciously continuing
to pick up the thoughts of practically the entire female side of Gryffindor.
Sighing, Ron stood up, making his way passed
a stressed out looking seventh year, a blond second year writing her Transfiguration
essay, and as he passed the Hufflepuff table, Eloise Midgen, who was hunched
up by herself.
"Oh shit, shit...I'm
two days late...shit. I'm never late!"
"In order for a cross
species transfiguration to occur, you must first..."
who am I kidding?!"
Wondering vaguely, slightly amused, who might
be the unfortunate person, Ron exited the dinner hall. He turned to ask
Hermione about some homework, only to remember she wasn't there.
Ron sat down at the little table by the fire
to make a start on his homework. He hardly even registered the fact that
Lavender Brown was sitting there too, until he heard her screaming, frustrated
thoughts that is. And then he half wished he hadn't.
" 'Dearest: I just don't
know how to tell you this. Betsey's condition has worstened, and they
think it might be serious. God, I'm so sorry we've had to tell you this
in a letter. I'll send more news as soon as I can; until then we'll just
have to leave it up to the higher powers. I don't know what to do. Dad
and I miss you. Love from mum.' "
Ron looked up quickly. Lavender Brown was
tossing aside a letter, and she was, not crying, but near to it. Ron didn't
know what to do or say. Ron watched and waited. He saw Lavender glance
at the letter once more then look even more tearful, before standing up
and rushing up to the Girl's dormitories.
"Is that Ron? Oh, I'm
so glad he came to see me...as a friend, a friend. Hermione.
"Hey, Herms, how're you feeling?"
Ron, not understanding but feeling slightly flattered, plonked Hermione's
Charms work onto her bedside table and plonked himself onto the chair
beside her bed. Hermione, it transpired, was feeling grouchy.
"I'm fine! But they want to keep me
in here for longer. Can you imagine? It's Arithmancy next, I bet the class
are doing something really important!"
"And then I'll probably
get questions on my test wrong and then who knows what everyone'll think!"
Hermione thought, grouchily. Ron laughed.
"Hermione, I swear if you worry much
more you'll go gray," he chuckled, earning himself a glare from the
patient. "Okay, Hermione; I will go to Professor Vector myself and
ask him what you missed and I'll get your homework and bring it here -
just for you. Happy?"
"Mmm, it's not like
Ron to offer to do stuff like this. What's up?" Ron almost yelled "Hey!" when he heard this,
then remembered and quickly shut his mouth.
"Are you okay?" Hermione asked.
"It's not like you to -"
" - to be nice to you?" Ron said,
feeling an itsy bit annoyed.
"No, I was going to say, to offer with
homework and stuff," Hermione finished. Ron was about to retort,
but then realised she was right. He usually couldn't be naffed with extra
homework, and he usually told Hermione so, too.
"Well," was all he could think
of to say.
"Harry is at Quidditch practice, I presume,"
said Hermione, starting a fresh subject.
"Wild centaurs couldn't keep him away,"
Ron agreed. "Especially as he's up against a certain pretty Ravenclaw
girl next match."
"Oh dear," Ron
heard Hermione think.
Hermione shook her head. "Harry's going
to get hurt, Ron," she said.
"I know, but isn't love supposed to
be painful a lot of the time?" Ron said, wondering why he suddenly
felt - what was it? - bothered.
"I suppose so," Hermione said.
"God, do I know
a lot about that," she added in her head.
Ron, startled, looked up, immediately wanting
to probe a little into this. Had something happened with Viktor Krum?
Had he hurt Hermione's feelings? Because if he had...Ron suddenly felt
fierce. So it was fortunate for all parties concerned, perhaps, that Madame
Pomfrey interuptted at that moment ("You've had nearly ten minutes!
Get out!") before he could say anything.
It was only once he'd left that Ron realised
something. Out of all the girls whose thoughts he'd read, Hermione was
the only one who'd said pretty much what she thought anyway. It was probably
down to familiarity, Ron thought, afterall Hermione knew him best. Or
maybe she was just a more straightforward person. Ron was sure that Hermione
was unique, anyway.
All in all, it was not looking like a promising
end to the day. Ron had to find Professor Vector, collect Hermione's work,
then spend the best part of the evening in Trelawney's stuffy classroom.
"Ah, there you are, dear. Come in. The
stars did in fact inform me that you would be late," Professor Trelawney
said, when Ron's head surfaced through the trapdoor of the almost empty
classroom. She gestured him to sit down, saying, "I suspect that
your impunctuality was due to falling in the lake?" Professor Trelawney
said. "I consulted my crystal ball."
Ron, not wanting to get into more trouble,
gave a sort of neutral grunt and sat opposite Lavender at a round table.
He noticed that Lavender was not her usual confident self; she seemed
tired and smaller somehow. Ron thought he could guess why.
"Now, dears - the fates call me away,
so I trust you to get on with your work and you may go in an hour,"
said Professor Trelawny, floating away (Ron hadn't thought it was possible
for anybody to float down a stepladder; obviously Professor Trelawney
had been practicing). Ron could have sworn hat he heard "Now, where's that damn book?" as she left.
Ron opened his books, but could not concentrate.
The girl, however, made absolutely no move to talk to Ron - well, she
wouldn't would she? It wasn't like they were even good friends. Ron Weasley,
are you going soft? Ron asked himself irritated. Honestly. It wasn't even
as if it was any of his business. He and Lavender had hardly ever exchanged
more than four meaningful sentences with each other.
"Is that your little sister, Lavender?"
Ron said, spying a photo of a little girl stuck in the pages of Lavender's
book. "She looks sweet." For the first time, Lavender smiled.
"Yeah, that's Betsey. She is the sweetest
little thing in the world. Of course she -" Lavender choked back
the last part of the sentence hurridly. "She's going to die."
"What?" Ron said, gently. But Lavender
shook her head, muttering "Nothing."
"I just wish I had someone
to talk to. I feel like I'm going to explode and no one will even notice."
"Lavender, I know we're not, like, the
best of friends, but they say it always helps to talk. You know, before
you explode. And if it's family stuff; well, I know a lot about families."
Ron, who had six siblings, said.
Lavender threw aside her book. "They
think it's serious," she said, quietly.
"Hermione was right about you,"
Lavender was saying as the two packed up three quarters of an hour later.
"Right?" Ron said blankly.
"Yeah, well she's always sticking up
for you; saying how you're more courageous and kind than people give you
credit for. She's right. Thanks."
"And to think that I
always thought you were a complete arsehole"
Ron went red. "Well, I er -" he
gabbled. "I mean, anytime."
He bade Lavender goodnight and went to deliver
Hermione's arithmancy work. Lavender's parting thought was:
"And I bet that he's
off to visit Hermione. It is just so obvious with those two..."
Huh? Ron thought.
Hermione was already asleep as Ron quietly
placed the work on the table beside her. Her face was half covered with
her bushy brown hair, features highlighted in the low light, breathing
steady and rhythmical; she looked very peaceful. Ron watched her for half
a minute, feeling more peaceful himself than he had all day. Then, he
didn't know what came over him, but suddenly Ron found himself bending
over Hermione and kissing her gently on the cheek.
Ron stood up abruptly. What had he just done?!
He left quickly, deciding that hearing girls' thoughts had been getting
to him more than he knew.