Snape snarled snidely, shooting superfluous
sounds sharply against the slimy walls of his bedchamber. For years he
had waited for this chance, this perfect opportunity to put miserable
little Harry Potter in his place.
Not that Snape meant to harm Harry,
of course; it was merely a lesson that desperately needed to be taught.
And who better able, who more deserving of this grand opportunity that
The potions master cackled, hands outstretched
over the churning cauldron. His piercing eyes gazed up into the black
abyss that was the ceiling as his eager heart beat wildly in his slender
chest. "Tomorrow!" he cried madly as the cauldron exploded
into shooting flames. "Tomorrow."
Something peculiar was going on at Hogwarts,
though no one seemed to notice in the slightest. The odd twinkle in Harry's
glass crept by his watchful eye as he lifted it to drink one chilly winter's
night at dinner.
"Hey, Harry," Ron muffed out through
a mouthful of pie. "You going to finish that pumpkin juice?"
Harry sighed and handed Ron the glass disdainfully.
"Thanks, mate," Ron grinned as
he swigged it down in one gulp.
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed. "Don't
be such a pig. Harry might have wanted.....oh my! Ron! You're....you're
"Don't be silly, Hermione," Ron
said, stuffing another forkful into his overflowing mouth.
"Euch!" gasped Harry, turning
to look. "She's not joking. You'd better....do something."
"Am I really?" asked Ron, growing
worried. He touched his face, wrinkled his nose, and rolled up his sleeves
to get at look at his arms. "BLOODY HELL!" he shouted, catching
the attention of the entire hall, who’s inhabitants all stared at the
spectacle in freakish wonder.
"Oh my God, he's orange!" someone
"Is it a hex?" muttered another.
"I TOLD you not to eat so much!"
Hermione sighed in frustration. "Now come on!"
She rose from her chair, grabbed Ron's arm,
and pulled him off toward the hospital wing.
"Shall I come along?" called Harry,
rising from the table.
"No," answered Hermione. "Just
finish you food. We'll see you later tonight."
Not far away from this odd scene, at the
teacher's table, Snape was peering intently over the lid of his mug toward
the scene at the Gryffindor table. He scowled. His plan had failed. Weasley,
and not Potter as he had intended, had drunk the charmed pumpkin juice.
But Snape was not angry. In fact, quite
the opposite. Weasley was just as much a nuisance as his friend. And what
harm would it be if that pesky red head found himself covered in warts
for a week. None.
Serverus smiled. None at all.......
It had taken Madam Pomphrey no more than
10 minutes to cure Ron of whatever malady it was that had come against
him that night at dinner. When he and Hermione returned to the Gryffindor
common room, they discovered that most of their fellow classmates had
already gone to bed and decided to do the same.
Ron woke unusually early the next morning
with a peculiarly sick feeling at the bottom of his stomach. Dismissing
it an after effect from the previous night, he dressed and went downstairs,
where a few people were already beginning to congregate.
It was Christmas Eve, and Ron could feel
the excited buzz in the air. Strings of garland and fairy lights were
hung in various arrays throughout the common room while an enchanted radio
hummed out various Christmas tunes at random intervals.
Ron had just decided to head down to the
great hall for breakfast when he spotted Harry coming down the stairs.
"Harry!" he called, motioning
for his friend to hurry up. "You coming to breakfast?"
"D'you want to wait for Hermione?"
Harry asked, scurrying up to him with a sugar quill in his hand. He offered
a piece of it to Ron, who accepted it grudgingly.
"What for?" Ron said impatiently,
popping the piece of quill into his mouth. "She'll meet us there
when she's -"
"No wait," Harry burst in. "She's
coming now. I see her."
Ron turned to look up toward the girls dormitory
and was greeted with the image of Hermione making her way down the stairs.
He had just begun to tap his foot impatiently on the floor when something
hit him. It was like a sudden constricting rush of blood to his brain
or like swallowing ice too quickly.
He grabbed his forehead and looked back
up at Hermione, only, she wasn't Hermione anymore.
She was beautiful.
Ron's hand dropped to his side. His breathing
quickened. He was watching Hermione walk toward him, but all he could
see was the way her hair bounced on her shoulders and the way her robes
clung to her legs when she walked and the way they stretched tightly over
"Ron! Harry!" she called, interrupting
his thoughts. She smiled and tucked a strand of loose hair back behind
her ears. "Are we going to breakfast?"
"Yeah," said Harry. "We were
just waiting for you."
"Is Ron all right?" Hermione asked,
noticing the blank expression on her friend's face.
"I think so," said Harry, turning
to look. "Ron? Ron are you all right."
"I'm - I'm fine," Ron stammered,
feeling the little piece of sugar quill slide down his throat. He looked
up at Hermione. Instead of the same flushed feeling he'd had before, there
was nothing. It had gone as quickly as it had come.
"Right," said Hermione, smiling.
"Then let's go get something to eat."
The daily barrage of owls went unnoticed
by Ron as he sat silently at breakfast. Instead of ravenously devouring
his food as usual, he was slowly moving his eggs from one side of his
plate to the other with his fork. He was so preoccupied by this and his
thoughts on Hermione that he didn't even noticed the hawk-like stare he
was receiving from Professor Snape, who was hunched over in a sort of
"Why isn't he covered with warts!"
Snape thought harshly, glaring at Ron. It had been a miserable waste of
a perfectly good potion.
Snape jumped as a splash of orange juice
hit his face. He looked up to see a large brown owl flying away and a
small envelope floating in his glass.
"Damn bird," Serverus muttered,
fishing his letter out. "This is all Weasley's fault."
Down at the Gryffindor table, a similar
looking owl had just dropped a small parcel on Hermione's lap.
"What is it?" asked Harry curiously.
"Something from your parents?"
"I don't know," said Hermione,
looking for the return address. "It's a day early for Christmas gi
- oh." She trailed off, stuffing the package down under the table.
"What is it," Ron asked, looking
over at her. Hopefully, this would be more interesting than his eggs.
"Nothing," Hermione said quickly,
going back to her food. "Just something I needed from home, that's
"So what is it then?" asked Ron.
"Or is it too personal?"
"No," Hermione blushed. "It's
nothing personal. It's just - it's nothing."
"Then why won't you let us see?"
Ron asked stubbornly.
"Because it's none of your business,"
Hermione said as she rose from the table, package in hand. "I'm going
up to my room to get some books for studying."
"I'm coming with you," said Ron,
following her out.
"No, Ron," Hermione objected,
walking ahead of him. "You stay with Harry."
"It's that package, isn't it,"
Ron stated accusingly. "You just don't want me to know what's in
it. Makes a fellow think you're up to something."
"I'm not up to something, Ron.
Just leave me alone."
"Then tell me what you're hiding."
Hermione stopped abruptly and whirled to
face him. "Did you ever think that maybe it's none of your business!?"
she shouted, and stormed off down the hallway.
She'd gotten no more than 15 feet away when
her shoe got snagged on a loose floorboard and she was pulled to the ground.
"Agh!" she screamed, throwing
her hands out to break the fall.
"Are you okay?" Ron asked, rushing
to help her up.
"I'm fine," she said, brushing
herself off. She hastily reached down to grab her package, but not before
Ron had a chance to peer at the return address.
"That package is from Bulgaria!"
he said accusingly, taking a step away from her.
"So what if it is?" Hermione returned,
her face flushed.
"Well!" said Ron. "What is
it? A wedding ring!?"
"Don't even start!" Hermione shouted,
glaring at him. "I'm not going to talk about this." She took
off down the hallway.
"I don't know why you even pretend
nothing's going on with you and Krum," Ron hissed in her ear, following
closely behind her.
"Ron," Hermione sighed. She looked
around hopelessly, then grabbed him suddenly and pulled him into an empty
classroom, slamming the door behind shut behind them.
Ron stared at her wide-eyed and in shock
as she tore the paper from her gift to reveal a box of sugar quills.
"This, Ron," Hermione said, "is
my gift. This is my gift from Victor."
She pulled one out of the box and stuffed
it in his open mouth.
"You see," she snarled. "It's
not poisoned. It's not an engagement ring. I don't even like sugar
quills! Sometimes...." she sighed stepped back away from him. “I
just get tired of you."
Ron gulped, sending juices from the quill
sliding down his throat. He was instantly feverish, and could feel his
headache from that morning rushing back.
He looked at Hermione. She was just standing
there, blinking back tears. But she was radiating everywhere. Ron could
feel her warmth.
He didn't know why he'd done it or what
was wrong in his head, but seconds later Ron was holding her in his arms.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, looking
down at her.
"Really?" she asked, not anticipating
"Yes," he said as he titled his
head to kiss her. He watched her shut her eyes and felt his own close
his just before their lips met.
He felt the sugar quill finish dissolving
on their tongues, and suddenly the fever passed. He opened his eyes slowly,
then jumped back as they flew wide.
"Bloody Hell!" he yelped, grabbing
his lips. He looked over at Hermione, who was staring at him with a confused
expression on her face.
"I have to go," Ron muttered,
pushing past her and out of the room.
Hermione closed her eyes and waited for
the door to fall shut behind her. When it did, she quickly began picking
up her box of sugar quill and scraps of paper from the floor, not bothering
to wipe away the tears that had already begun streaming down her face.
Ron had spent the day in his dorm room,
as had Hermione, both refusing to talk to the other, or anyone else for
that matter. Hermione had spent most of her time loosing herself in piles
of homework, while Ron had spent his time thumbing through various magazines.
"TeenWitch," he muttered, pulling
one out of his trunk. "Must be Ginny's."
He was just about to throw it in his garbage
bin when something on the cover caught his eye.
Love potions 101, it read, Catch
any man, any time with these 3 spectacular love spells.
Ron flipped the magazine open curiously
to the indicated page and read:
Potion #1: The Self-Activated Version
not authorized to publish directions for home-brew, TeenWitch presents
for you the low down on this age-old potion, which has been banned by
Wizarding Conventions in 39 different countries. Symptoms of a successful
potion are a slight fever and temporary orange coloration in the victim.
This love brew is activated by feeding the victim a mixture of sucrose
and acetate. The victim will immediately fall head over heels for whoever
he sees first after tasting this sweet mixture and will return to his
normal platonic state once the mixture has been fully swallowed. TeenWitch
recommends this particular potion for periods of light fun, and not for
holding a long, steady relationship. We give this love brew a 6 out of
10 possible points.
"Oh," Ron murmured as he read
the article a second time, then quickly tucked the magazine into his pocket.
Minutes later he was at the library, where
Parvati and Lavender had told him Hermione would be. He found her immersed
in a musty old book on the floor near the restricted section.
"Hermione?" he said timidly as
he approached her.
She looked up at him. "What do you
want, Ron?" she asked offishly.
"I need to talk to you."
"Not about that," he said quickly,
feeling his ears go red. He handed her the magazine and pointed to the
article. "Read this."
She skimmed it quickly, then looked back
up at him. "What're you trying to say?" she asked.
"I think someone's done this to me,
Hermione. Like this morning -"
"That's ridiculous!" Hermione
said, pulling herself up from the floor. "Sucrose and acetate?"
"Sugar quills," he said.
"But acetate?" Hermione said,
her voice a little louder than usual. "Isn't that -"
"Poisonous?" Ron said. "Of
course. But that's what's in sugar quills. And you gave me one this morning
before I.....And the orange thing, remember? Yesterday I turned orange.
Hermione was staring steadily at the floor.
"Ron," she said, raising her head, eyes on fire. "What
do you want from me?"
"I want you to help me find a remedy.
I want -"
"No, Ron," she interrupted. "What
do you want from me. You make me crazy, Ron. First you hate me,
then you kiss me, and now you're telling me it was all a love potion!"
"Hermione, I'm sorry about what happened,
"You kissed me, Ron!"
"Hermione, I -"
"And it was just a love potion!"
"It's not like you wanted it to happen,
either, Hermione! I mean, you don't feel that way about me either, do
Hermione looked away. "No," she
"Then will you help me?" Ron asked.
"Fine," said Hermione. "But
not tonight. It's Christmas Eve, and I'm really tired."
"Do you want me to walk you back to
the Common Room?" Ron asked.
"No," said Hermione, gathering
her books. "I'll be fine on my own."
The next morning was Christmas day, and
Ron awoke to find a small stack of gifts at the foot of his bed. Among
them was a box of sugar quills from Harry, which he instantly tucked under
his bed. He would have to be sure not to eat them.
After a delightful Christmas breakfast,
Ron, Harry, and Hermione returned to the common room, which was quite
full. More people than usual had opted to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas
because their parents felt it would be safer.
Because of all the extra people, Fred and
George had decided to throw a Christmas party worthy of their seven long
years at Hogwarts.
"Go out with a bang," Fred had
been saying all day long as he came down from his room carrying what seemed
like an endless supply of butterbeer.
Ron and Hermione, though not exactly on
speaking terms, had managed to sneak away from Harry for the afternoon.
Ron had been very much against informing Harry of the love potion and
even more against explaining the effects it had had on him the day before.
It didn't take long for Hermione to find
a book describing the particular love potion they were looking for, and
even less time to find the remedy.
"True love's first kiss," she
muttered, reading from the book.
"Are you sure you're not reading from
a fairy tale, Hermione?" Ron asked anxiously.
"Of course I'm sure. It says it right
here. Look," she pointed down at the page. "Seems as if you're
out of luck, Ron. You might as well just stay away from sugar quills."
"Bugger," Ron said, kicking the
book shelf distractedly. "There's got to be another way."
"If there is, I'll try and find it.
But right now let's get back to the common room. I want to see what Fred
and George have got in store for us."
Undoubtedly, the common room had never looked
more impressive than it did that night when Ron and Hermione returned
from the library. Flashing colored lights sparkled across the dark room,
lighting up miniature statues of Christmas figures and wreaths of garland,
mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias. Fast paced music was blaring loudly
from several large, enchanted speakers, and several people were dancing
under the large disco ball that had been magically transformed to look
like a sprig of mistletoe. Others were milling around the buffet table,
which held a stunningly elaborate spread of various foods, treats, desserts,
and the largest collection of butterbeer in perhaps the entire history
of the known world.
Equally amazing to Ron and Hermione was
the fact that they found Harry, not alone as they had expected, but dancing
"What does he think he's doing?"
Ron demanded, storming over to them.
Hermione quickly stepped in front of him
and dragged him away by the arm. "Leave them alone," she said.
"At least they're having a good time."
"I wish I could have a good time,"
Ron grumbled. "I'll never be able to eat sugar quills again. At least,
not around you."
"Don't act like I had anything to do
with this, Ron Weasley," Hermione spat. "Did you ever stop and
think that maybe I was actually upset over what happened yesterday?"
"I said I was sorry about that,"
Ron said angrily. "You know, I don't think I'm in much of a party
mood anymore. I'm going to go for a walk." He looked over at her.
"D'you want to come?"
"No," she said angrily, crossing
her arms over her chest. She looked up at him again. "Well, all right,"
Together they trudged silently through the
castle and out onto the grounds, where everything was accentuated with
blanket of clean white snow. The moon shone openly in the cloudless sky
amid a sea of brightly colored stars. By the time Hermione and Ron had
reached the lake, they were both out of breath and extremely cold.
“Let’s sit down,” Hermione panted, her breath
billowing out in thick patterns of frozen smoke.
They stared awhile onto the frozen lake,
both feeling a bit offish with the other and neither wanting to be the
first to speak.
“Ron, this is stupid,” said Hermione bitterly.
“We need to talk.”
“We did talk,” Ron said. “We decided it
was all the spell and that it meant nothing, right?”
“Right,” said Hermione slowly.
Ron looked over at her, watching her carefully.
“What?” she demanded, noticing his gaze.
“Nothing,” he said quickly. He began to
draw little patterns in the snow with his finger, trying to ignore the
slight feverish feeling that was climbing up his chest.
“Hermione,” he started cautiously. “I’ve
been thinking, and I think I really do love –“
“Hmm?” she prompted.
“Sugar quills,” he finished, turning his
face away from her.
“Oh,” she said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do without
them,” Ron continued.
“Do you want me to feel sorry for you, Ron,”
Hermione said a little hotly. “Because I don’t, you know. I don’t know
how or why this happened, but somehow, someway, it’s all your fault.”
“My fault!” exclaimed Ron, jumping
to his feet. “How the hell is it my fault?” He yelled down at her.
“I don’t know!” she shouted back, climbing
to her feet as well. “But I’m trying really hard to hate you right now,
Ronald Weasley! You make me want to hate you so badly!”
“Hate me then!” he screamed. “See if I care!
Go off with Krum! He’s the one who started this whole thing anyway!”
“How?” Hermione demanded. “How on earth
is this his fault?”
“If he wouldn’t have sent you those sugar
quills, I never would have kissed you, and that’s what this is all about
anyway, isn’t it?”
“Exactly!” shrieked Hermione. “And that
part was just a mistake, wasn’t it! It was a mistake for me to
ever think that maybe you wanted to kiss me! That maybe it wasn’t
a spell! And maybe –“
“Hermione?” Ron broke in.
“I want to kiss you again.”
“God, Ron,” Hermione whispered as he grabbed
her and brought her lips to his. It was as intense as it was unsure, and
just as reckless as it had been the first time.
“I hate you, Ron,” Hermione mumbled as Ron
pulled her down into the snow.
“I hate you, too,” he muttered, running
his hands through her tangled hair.
They broke apart several minutes later and
lay panting in the snow.
“Was it the spell?” Hermione breathed uncertainly.
Ron smiled. “No. Haven’t had any sugar quills.
“Then what are we now?” Hermione
asked, rolling over in the snow to face Ron.
“I don’t know,” said Ron. “For a long time,
I didn’t want to think we were anything. And now….”
“We should get back to the castle,” said
“Yes, we probably should,” Ron said, leaning
toward her. “But first, there’s something I want to do.”
And he kissed her.
That night in bed, Ron thought for a long
time about Hermione before falling asleep. He woke the next morning feeling
refreshed and immensely hungry. As soon as he reached the common room,
he was stopped by Hermione, who urged him to come to the library with
Once there, she immediately dragged him
to a bookshelf in the far corner of the room and extracted a vial from
“I couldn’t sleep last night, so I came
here and did some research. I found the real antidote for the potion.
Here,” she said, handing him the vial. “Drink this.”
“You sure?” he said, looking at it uncertainly.
“Of course I’m sure,” she said exasperatedly,
gesturing at the open vial.
Ron grinned sheepishly and put it to his
mouth, swallowing its contents quickly. The mixture tasted like ice going
down and then felt like fire in his stomach. After a few moments, the
feeling had passed.
“Here,” said Hermione, handing Ron a sugar
quill. “Test it.”
Wordlessly, Ron took the sugar quill from
her hand and put it in his mouth. He sucked on it for a few minutes before
spitting it out again.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Nothing?” she asked, unsure.
“Good,” Hermione smiled, then took a breath.
“Ron, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” he said.
"What am I to you?” she asked hesitantly.
“Hermione, what are you talking about?”
“Just tell me, Ron,” she pleaded. “I’m emotionally
unstable and I swear I’ll put a hex on you if you don’t.”
“You’re,” Ron said, closing his eyes in
concentration, searching for the perfect thing to say. “You’re everything,”
he whispered finally.
He felt Hermione’s lips brush
against his, then move away.
“I love you, Ron Weasley,” Hermione said
as he opened his eyes to look at her. “I’ve always loved you as friend,
even as a brother, but now I love you differently. I don’t know what I’m
trying to say.”
“It’s all right,” Ron said, pulling her
close to him. “Because I love you, too.”
She smiled and kissed him again knowing
that, even if the world fell apart that very night, she would have no
reason to regret it, and no reason to pretend not to.
The lights were dim in Serverus’s bedchamber,
allowing the simmering cauldron to be fully illuminated. Its glorious
green color cast odd patterns of light across Professor Snape’s face as
he leaned over and sniffed it carefully.
“Yes, I think so,” he said contently. “I
think this is about right.”
Grinning maliciously, he spooned a bit of
the potion into a clear crystal vial and corked it with precision.
“You won’t thwart me again, Harry Potter,”
grimaced Snape, tucking it into his cloak. “This time, I’ll get you. Oh,
He threw back his head and laughed, body
erupting with hideous cackles that floated merrily throughout the cold,
dead dungeons and off into the night.