The Sugar Quill
Author: Lilmione (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Quidditch, Questions, and Quips  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

"Ron!"

Reluctantly Ron Weasley stopped on one of the many staircases in Hogwarts, gripping his broomstick rather tightly as he turned to face Hermione Granger. Scurrying towards him with her robes billowing out behind her, Hermione's gaze flickered from his face to the broomstick in his hand and she stopped in mid-step.

"Where are you going?" She asked suspiciously.

Fleetingly wishing that broomsticks were not so conspicuous, Ron waved the broom in the air as he replied, "Quidditch tryouts, Hermione. Some of us do think about something other than studying."

"You never said anything about it."

"You never asked."

Hermione simply looked at him, twisting her hands within her robes for some odd reason. Glancing towards the staircase and then at his watch, Ron sighed impatiently and asked, "Did you want something?"

"Yes...er, Ron, I need to talk to you about something."

"Or someone?" Ron asked dully. A tell tale flush spread across Hermione's face and Ron sighed a second time before saying, "Hermione, I'll talk to you all you want, just after the tryouts, okay?"

"Okay." Hermione almost looked relieved that he didn't want to talk to her.

Throwing her a lop-sided smile, Ron started down the stairs again only to have Hermione call his name a second time. What, oh what, did she want now? "Would you mind if I came and watched?"

Blinking, Ron gaped at her for a moment, almost dropping his broom in his surprise.

"Are you sure you want to?"

"I do know something about Quidditch, Ron. After hanging out with you and Harry for four years, it would be impossible not to. I won't go if it bothers you so much..."

"No, you can come," Ron protested, looking at her for a second before muttering something under his breath and storming down the stairs.

Left with no choice but to follow him, Hermione hesitated for a moment and then took off after Ron. Out of the corner of his eyes, Ron looked at her when she caught up to him, but he said nothing. Clenching her hands into fists, Hermione bit back a sigh and determined not to look at him anymore.

He had been like this ever since she came to visit at the Burrow just before the beginning of term. He was perfectly civil to her during classes but whenever she tried to hold a normal conversation, he came up with something else he had to do and walked away. Why did he have to be so bloody
stubborn?! He didn't even know what he thought he knew and if he had stayed long enough, he would have found out that he was wrong. You could have told him, a voice whispered in her mind and she shook her head slightly. It had been her second day at the Burrow and they had been waiting outside until Mr. Weasley came back with Harry. On Dumbledore's orders it was only Ron's father that went to get Harry-though both Ron and Hermione had insisted that they wouldn't be a bother, they had had no luck. Angrily tearing off blades of grass and throwing them, Ron sat sprawled in the grass beside her, his long legs sticking out in front of him.

"I wanted to go," he said uselessly.

Sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest, Hermione smiled and said slowly, "You can't fault Dumbledore for wanting to take every precaution."

"I know, but I don't have to like it," he answered, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"I'm sure Harry's fine," Hermione added, more to say something than express her worry.

"Yeah," Ron muttered, sending a shower of grass flying into the air.

Pondering whether or not she should tell him to leave the grass alone just to get his mind off things, Hermione started when Ron suddenly put on a cheery manner and remarked, "You never finished telling me what you did all summer."

Hermione froze. She had been expecting this question, expecting him to dodge what he really wanted to know and now that he had finally asked it, she couldn't say anything at first.

"I spent the fist half of it convincing my parents that it was all right for me to go back to school. They refuse to read Hogwarts: A History so they don't understand. I did homework..."

"Big surprise."

Hermione glared at him. He was still waiting...she didn't want to tell him. He was going to have a fit. But she had to tell him now, or he'd find out when the next owl from Viktor came and that would be even worse. Looking anywhere but at him, Hermione deliberately made her voice light as she said, "I stayed in Bulgaria for a week or two."

"With Krum."

"Yes."

"Great. Wonderful. Just dandy. So, are you calling him Vicky now?"

Ron leapt to his feet, leaving a bare patch of grass beside him where he had unconsciously been tearing it from the moment she started talking. He was still having a fit, but for Ron this was incredibly civil. Hermione shook her head and answered, "He doesn't like that nickname."

"Yay for Viktor Krum. You didn't answer my question."

"I believe I did," Hermione replied, wishing that he would at least look at her.

"No, you didn't."

"Ron, this is just silly."

"No, it isn't," Ron retorted, turning to look at her again. Swallowing, he took one step towards her and asked quietly, "Are you dating Krum?" She hadn't expected him to be so direct. Blinking rapidly, Hermione rose to her feet and tilted her chin to look up at him-he was too tall for his own
good-and retorted, "What would you say if I were?"

Ron's eyes bulged and his face turned several different colors in rapid succession, as if he had eaten all of the worst flavors of Bott's flavor beans all at once. Dropping Hermione's gaze, he scowled down at the ground for a moment before raising his head and saying,"I would say that's just peachy, Hermione. Keep fraternizing with the enemy, go ahead and date dear old Vicky. You make a splendid couple."

He finished abruptly, his gaze when it met hers fiercer than she had ever seen it , and then he turned around and stormed into the Burrow. He hadn't even come out when Harry and Mr. Weasley arrived in the fireplace and when Harry came back to announce that Ron wasn't coming down until dinner, he was staunchly silent about what was the matter with him. Now Ron avoided having
a conversation with her unless it was absolutely necessary. They still had their fights and there were times when he seemed to forget himself and enjoy her company along with Harry's. But, inevitably he remembered and he would start avoiding her again.

Glancing over at him, Hermione wondered if he was ever going to forgive her for Viktor and stifled another sigh. Honestly, why did it matter so much to him? It wasn't as if he had even acknowledged her as a girl until the Yule Ball last year and what business was it of his to tell her who she could and
couldn't spend time with?! And Viktor wasn't the enemy...he was an ally, especially with You-Know-Who on the rise again. Why couldn't he get past his own stubbornness and see that? Why hadn't he let her explain? Chewing on her lip, Hermione told herself not to brood about it anymore. They were still friends...just not like they were...and that was all that mattered.

Ron knew what Hermione wanted to talk to him about: Krum. It could only be Krum, her precious Bulgarian "Vicky" who couldn't even say her own name right. "Hermy-own-ninny," honestly! If he or Harry ever said it that way...she was probably going to finish telling him what he hadn't let her say over the summer. He didn't want to hear it, even if he was mistaken and she wasn't dating Krum. She had let him think it, for whatever reason, and if by some miracle she wasn't dating Krum, he would be angrier with her than he would be if she really were. Of all times, why did she have to pick right before the Quidditch tryouts to bring this up? He'd be lucky if he could even think about the game at all. If you had told her you were trying out, she would have waited, an irritating voice whispered and Ron almost told it to shut up aloud.

He hadn't told anyone, except Fred and George, about wanting to try for the vacant position of Keeper...not even Harry. Harry probably already knew, though, but Hermione, of course, paid no attention to anything that wasn't a book. He hadn't wanted everyone to know...that way, if he failed, his humiliation would be lesser. After all, it was a Weasley tradition to play for the house team-he couldn't fail to try out, no matter how unlikely it was that he would get it. Madam Hooch hadn't even looked surprised when he told her intended to try out for Keeper. She hadn't exactly been encouraging either. Only one thing really mattered, though. If he got in, it would have to be on his own merit, not because he was Fred and George's little brother, and not because he was Harry Potter's best friend. All he had to do was get through the try-out and then everything would be fine...until Hermione brought up the "K" word.

Scowling, Ron chanced a look at her and saw that she was lost in her own thoughts. Probably trying to find the gentlest way to announce that they're secretly engaged. Where was Ginny when he needed her? The only reason he had been able to walk away from Hermione when she all but told him she was dating Krum was the kindness of his little sister. Ron had been only one day
home at the end of his 4th year when Hermione's possible visit to Krum had started to bother him again. He had always known that she would go, despite his random fits of insanity when he believed she would rather visit Malfoy than spend more time with Krum. So he had enlisted Ginny's help, asking her to play Hermione's part and tell him every excruciating detail about her vacation with "Vicky." In return he was to help with the Harry situation, something which he hadn't managed to do yet because he honestly didn't see what good Ginny's plan would do. Ginny had played a fair Hermione, though, and by the time of her visit, he had gotten to the point where he could hear
Krum's name without cringing. They had had a jolly time of it-curling Ginny's hair and giving her a stack of books to hold while Ron was talking to her. Everything was set...until Hermione had actually said it.

Krum's figurine, which he still couldn't bring himself to get rid of, had lost another arm that night. "Play Quidditch if you can," Ron had sneered, though five minutes later he was certain that Krum would find a way to catch the Snitch without his arms-probably with his teeth. Harry hadn't helped either-the prat-when he got there. He had found Ron pacing back and forth across his blazing orange room, muttering furiously about Krum and Hermione. Almost instantly Harry's gaze found Krum's mutilated figure and he walked over to it, a grin spreading across his face as the armless Krum looked down mournfully at his severed limb.

"Now I know what's wrong," Harry said, his shoulders beginning to shake with laughter.

"She's dating him, Harry! She's actually dating him!" Ron burst out, taking the armless Krum by the head and stuffing him back in a drawer.

"Good for Hermione," Harry answered quietly. Ron turned on him in full fury.

"Good?! Good?! What can possibly be good about Hermione fraternizing with the enemy?!"

"She likes him. I like him. You used to like him."

"Past tense. Very good," Ron muttered, pacing again. Shaking his head, Harry unexpectedly put a hand on his friend's shoulder and replied, "Let it go, Ron."

"I can't," Ron answered honestly.

"Did she actually say she was dating Krum?" Harry asked. Ron shook his head and muttered,
"She might as well have."

"So you don't know for certain?" Harry questioned, a mischievous gleam in his eye. Groaning, Ron flung himself down on his bed and cried, "Don't start with me, Harry! Tell Mum I'll be down for dinner. Ask Hermione to tell you about her stay in Bulgaria, it's simply fascinating.

Harry had opened his mouth to say something more, only to think better of it and leave Ron to sulk in peace. Since then Ron hadn't been able to have any serious conversation with Hermione without Harry there. Whenever he was alone with her, he kept seeing images of her with Krum, and the only way to make them disappear was to leave her company entirely. How Harry stood it, Ron didn't know, but he knew that even he wouldn't be able to take it much longer. Perhaps this talk of hers was a good idea...he would know for certain and then...perhaps...he could forgive her.

Chancing one last glance at her, Ron deliberately pushed all thoughts of Hermione and Krum aside. He had to have a clear head or he'd never make the team. Quidditch, Weasley, Quidditch. No Hermione, no Krum, just Quidditch and becoming Keeper. That's all that matters. Gripping his broom tightly, Ron repeated the thought in his mind as he stepped onto the Quidditch field

Chapter Two: Broomsticks and Keepers

Almost all of Gryffindor had assembled to watch the tryouts. Scanning the growing crowd, Ron smiled in relief to see that Malfoy and his cronies were not there and looked at who would be his competition. Clustered nervously around Madam Hooch were six other Gryffindors, all glancing at each other as furtively as possible and clutching their respective brooms as if their lives depended on it. Standing off in a similar circle a few feet away was the Gryffindor team, engaged in a conference of some sorts. Harry was next to Fred and George-he hadn't seen Ron yet and for that his best friend was grateful. His competition was fierce enough without having to worry about what Harry thought of his being here. Everyone who he had predicted had turned up and it figured that he would be the last one to arrive. Last. If only Hermione…Hermione! With a start, Ron remembered that she was still standing next to him and he turned to look at her somewhat sheepishly. Eyes also scanning his competition, Hermione flashed him a smile and said quickly, "Good luck, Ron."

"Thanks," he replied, still not moving to join the other would-be-Keepers.

Opening her mouth as if to say more and then thinking better of it, Hermione hovered uncertainly in front of him for a moment before dashing off to find a seat in the stands. She just kept getting weirder, Hermione. Watching her scurry off to take a seat next to Ginny, Ron shook his head at her and went to join the other Gryffindors. Knowing Hermione, she thought there wasn't any glamour in the Keeper position, seeing as her precious Vicky was Seeker. Quidditch, Weasley, Quidditch! Ron resisted the urge to scan the crowd a second time for Hermione and Ginny and walked up to Madam Hooch. There was no Hermione, only Quidditch. If only he could believe it.

Looking as strained as the six participants hovering around her, Madam Hooch nodded in satisfaction as she saw Ron and made a mark on the piece of parchment she was holding.

"Ah, Weasley, you're here. Good. I believe we can begin now. Wait here while I have a word with the team and then I'll be back to explain what you'll be doing." All seven of them nodded and Madam Hooch bustled over to consult with the current members of the Gryffindor team.

Once or twice Ron caught a glimpse of Fred and George flashing him enthusiastic grins and he did his best to return him. Harry, extremely interested in what Madam Hooch was saying, did not look up at all. Despite his earlier desire for Harry not to know, Ron couldn't decide if this was good or bad. Leaving a furiously nodding Gryffindor team-what was with everybody-Madam Hooch strode back to where Ron and the others stood, her features grim.

"All right. You're here because there's an opening on the Gryffindor team for the position of Keeper, yes? No one thinks they get to be Seeker or a Beater? And you are all at least in your second year, yes? Then draw."

Thrusting a fist towards them, Madam Hooch pointedly waited for one of them to step forward and take one of the seven different colored marbles in her hand. Watching everyone around him hesitate, Ron swallowed and stepped forward to take the first one. Staring down at the six marbles, his fingers hovered over each one in turn before he finally seized the orange one in deference to the Chudley Cannons. Orange had to be lucky for him. Following Ron's example, the other six applicants took a marble and looked up at Madam Hooch wonderingly. Still wearing a grim expression, Madam Hooch took out her wand and said,

"The order that the colors appear in is the order in which you will try out."

Checking his impulse to nod along with everyone else, Ron simply watched as a burst of sparks shot out of Madam Hooch's wand and began to form seven bars of color. Red, purple, yellow, blue, green, orange and white. Ron frowned at the marble in his hand as the bars of color disappeared. 6th out of 7 possible, he knew Fred and George were laughing. At least he wasn't last…that unfortunate fate had fallen to a 4th year girl who looked as if she were about to burst into tears.

"Everyone know their place? You will be evaluated on the following: How many goals you save or let through the goal, your flying skill, and how quickly you can think in a tricky situation. There will be no Bludgers involved, the Beaters and the Seeker are here to act as impartial judges. Step forward, Red!"

The first, another 4th year, stepped forward and Ron went to stand in line with the others, his nerves steadily rising. Impartial judges, Fred, Harry, and George. Had Madam Hooch specifically meant that they were to be impartial while he was flying? Ron was aware of the glances being sent his way by the other hopeful Keepers and determined that the comment had been meant for him. Did no one in all of Hogwarts think he was capable of doing anything on his own merit, and not because he was Fred and George's brother or Harry's friend?! Apparently not. He supposed that his being good at chess could even be attributed to someone else. After all, he was just plain old

Ron Weasley, with nothing to show for his fifteen years of age but an uncanny knack of winning at chess. And even that could probably be taken away from him.

Ron raised his eyes to watch the first participant try and keep Angelina, Alicia, and Katie from scoring. Watching Quidditch, in whatever form, thankfully, was enough to take his mind off all of the things which kept troubling him and he so detached while he watched, that he was able to evaluate the 4th year's skill fairly. All the way down the line he watched as if he were not intending to try out, as if he were carelessly seated in the stands with Ginny and Hermione-get out, Granger-or side by side with his fellow Gryffindor teammates. Keep dreaming, Weasley. Oddly enough, he was not nervous, not even when the blue Keeper missed only one throw of the

Quaffle and the green participant rose into the air to begin his session. This time he did not watch, however, spending the time reviewing his own strategy and what he knew of the Gryffindor Chasers. To their credit, Fred and George had not given him one inside tip during his summer training. What he knew was based solely upon what he had observed at other matches. He had a few tricks up his own sleeve, too…hopefully it would be enough. If not…he would have to chalk it up as just another thing he wasn't good at. The green participant landed, having missed only three goals, and it was his turn at last.

"Weasley," Madam Hooch barked.

Stepping forward, Ron felt the orange marble disintegrate in his hand and he gritted his teeth before mounting his broom. Rising up into the air, he flew around the goal hoops twice in order to warm up and then positioned himself in front to wait. The Chasers were huddled in a mini-conference-which was not very reassuring-and he found himself scanning the crowd while he waited, easily picking out Ginny with her Weasley hair and Hermione, on the very edge of her seat, watching him. Maybe she thought he was good enough to be here…no time for that, Weasley, they're coming.

Everything other than Quidditch became a blur and Ron began to fly back and forth before the goal posts, his gaze riveted on the Quaffle.

They would take it easy on him at first, he knew, in order to lull him into a false sense of confidence. It had worked with the sole second year trying out, but it wouldn't with him. Ron easily blocked the first attempt they made but kept a wary eye out just the same. Time after time they threw the Quaffle towards any of the three hoops and somehow, sometimes, admittedly, just by pure luck, he always managed to intercept it. In the back of his mind he knew that everyone was watching him, just waiting for him to miss and wondering if he would be the only one who they couldn't get past. He didn't dare think it himself. Once he caught a glimpse of Ginny and Hermione, both of them sitting in the same position of agitation and he made a note to laugh at them about it later.

Successfully catching the Quaffle again, Ron lazily threw it back to Alicia and waited as the three chasers retired for one last conference.

He had been out here longer than anybody else and unless he was mistaken, this would be their last and trickiest attempt to get past him. Gripping his broom tightly, Ron hovered tensely as the Chasers bore down on him once more, acutely aware that this was the deciding moment of his try-out. Alicia threw to Katie, who was clearly heading towards the far right goal and he drifted towards it uncertainly…it seemed too easy. Katie, bearing down on him, suddenly threw to Angelina, who was perfectly positioned for the far left hoop. Backtracking, Ron zoomed towards the other end of the goal posts, only to see Angelina pitch the Quaffle back to Katie who was still in position for the right hoop. It was risky, but he could do it. Not changing direction, Ron sped around the back of the hoops, evoking a cry of alarm from the watching crowd. Just a little faster, a little faster…his broom quivered beneath him, but he rounded the corner just as Katie released the Quaffle, darting between it and the goal with his hand outstretched. There was a second where time seemed to stop and then the Quaffle collided with his hands and his fingers automatically closed around it as he continued to zoom around the goal hoops.

Ron circled the goal two more times before he was able to slow down, descending towards the ground in a haze of disbelief. The Quaffle was still in his right hand, a solid reminder, and yet it still didn't seem real. One second…one second later and Katie would have scored. One second. His feet hit the ground and he climbed off his broom, throwing the Quaffle to Katie and rejoining the others. The 4th year girl who had drawn last let out a nervous shriek at the sight of him and scurried away.

Reality was slowly beginning to dawn on Ron, starting with the fact that his last save had been nothing short of spectacular, but he didn't really believe it. Scanning the stands, he saw Hermione and Ginny hugging each other-girls-and began to smile. Not even bothering to watch the poor girl currently trying to block the Quaffle, he looked briefly at the grounded members of the Gryffindor team. Fred and George looked absolutely flabbergasted-Ron couldn't recall ever seeing their eyes so wide-and Harry…Harry was grinning from ear to ear. Returning the grin, Ron remembered to watch the 4th year girl in time to see her miss her tenth goal in a row and hear Madam Hooch call her down. He felt slightly guilty…the poor girl had obviously done worse than she would have had she not gone after him, but there was nothing he could do about it. He hadn't even thought that it would work.

"Congratulations to all of you for a job well done. The team requests fifteen minutes to decide among themselves. Weasley?" Madam Hooch motioned for him to approach her and Ron jerkily rose to his feet, the six other participants looking extremely glum as he did. Running a hand through his hair, Ron nervously approached Madam Hooch. Lips twitching as if they wanted desperately to smile, Madam Hooch lowered her voice and said, "That was a spectacular save, Weasley. As spectacular as the first time Potter caught the Snitch. Well done."

"Er…thanks," Ron stammered, running his hand through his hair again and causing it to stick up in all sorts of directions.

Hurriedly going back to sit with the others, who all scooted away as if he smelled funny, Ron turned his attention to the still talking Gryffindor team. They were still deep in conversation…must need the entire fifteen minutes. Cheerfully plucking at the grass on the field-great, now it was a habit-Ron waited it out, his thoughts drifting more and more to what Hermione had to say to him rather than the outcome of the try-outs. Finally the team came to a decision, producing a new set of Quidditch robes and marching as a group towards the seven participants. If he had wanted any encouraging signs from Harry or his brothers, Ron was out of luck. The three of them had maddeningly neutral expressions, just like the faces of everyone else on the team, and at last, Katie stepped forward, a small smile creeping onto her face as she announced, "The new Keeper for Gryffindor is…"

 

Continued in To Your Brooms...

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --