The Sugar Quill
Author: Nayela  Story: Trust  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.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of this. This world belongs entirely to J. K. Rowling , and I just found a home in it. Apart from that, no profit is made from this story.

Trust

It was Sunday, a hot yet breezy afternoon as fine as anyone could wish for. The whole of Hogwarts--students, staff, even the old castle itself--seemed to be breathing more freely, and though the exams were soon to come, the buzz of summer in the air was enough to make nerves and anxiety temporarily forgotten. Everybody seemed to be outside in the grounds enjoying themselves as much as possible. However there were certain exceptions. These were, naturally, the seventh-years and the fifth-years who were bound to take studying far more seriously than the rest. Needless to say, one particular of the latter thought things extremely unfair…

“Aaarrgh!!” Ron yelled in sheer frustration, throwing his quill halfway across the common room and thus cutting off Hermione´s attempt to explain the Confundus Charm to him.

“What´s the USE?!” he exclaimed and furiously ran both hands through his hair which was already sticking up in all directions. “Give up, Hermione. I´ll never get the hang of that bloody charm!”

There was more than a trace of impatience in her voice as she replied. “It´s not that complicated. You would get it easily if you could kindly pull yourself together and try, Ron Weasley!”

“Yes, of course! It´s all right for you! You wouldn’t even call the situation of our world complicated, Miss Prefect!!”

Without noticing it, Hermione quickly felt for the Prefect´s badge she had been wearing for almost a year now. “You´re being ridiculous, really,” she snapped. “You know perfectly well that I´m as aware as anybody of what is happening out there! Perhaps,” she continued with a furious glint in her eye, “you can be so kind and tell me what exactly the war approaching has to do with me trying to help you?”

“Er…”

“There!” she raged on, barely leaving him time to come up with some answer, “That’s just so typical of you! Well, go on never thinking before speaking, if you´re sure you´re going to get away with it forever! If you´re sure you´ll get your O. W. L.s that way, FINE BY ME!” In fact, she had called these last words after a quickly disappearing Ron who had had enough and had fled through the portrait hole.

Flushed and furious, Hermione collapsed into her chair and automatically pulled her Arithmancy notes towards her. The other Gryffindors who had followed the row with great interest turned back to their work as well. The show was over.

Harry risked a look from behind the wall of books he had built to block out the fine weather´s temptation as well as the bickering of his friends. He was slightly surprised that it was Hermione he saw: Usually it was her part to storm away banging doors shut. He supposed that Ron had simply seized the opportunity to get outside for a while… or would at least say so when he returned.

“That´s the last time I ever try to explain something to him without putting Petrificus Totalus on him beforehand.” Harry looked up to see his friend´s face tighten with determination, and he briefly wondered whether she was really going to go that far. She wouldn´t, he decided, but quickly changed his mind as he heard her continue grimly, “Perhaps that will make him listen quietly for once!” Now you´re sounding like McGongall, he thought, although he knew better than to say it aloud.

“He´s just nervous,” he said instead, trying to defend Ron. “You know he´s dead grateful for your help. Both of us are.”

She gave a heavy sigh. “Well, that´s good to know. He sure does his best not to show it.” Then, after a moment of silence, she burst out desperately: “Why does he always blame me for everything--simply everything that goes wrong?”

“He does not.” Harry answered firmly. “He doesn’t really mean the things he says. Okay, he was kind of unfair to you in the past few days.” he admitted when he saw the look on her face, but then went right on: “It´s just the stress. He´s having the worst case of exam nerves I´ve ever seen.”

“So you mean he is under so much strain that he has to take it out on somebody, no matter who gets it? “ she interrupted angrily. “He´ll never get away with that!!”

“So what?” Harry asked, now completely puzzled. “What are you going to do? Run after him, corner him and make him apologise?”

“No, I´m definitely not going to run after him.” She suddenly grinned, rather mischievously as he noticed. “You can tell me some things I want to know before I corner him!”

“What?” Silently he called himself a fool for not having been aware of that. He knew both his friends well enough so he should have noticed that this situation was bound to come. Especially after how they had been behaving all year…

“What do you expect me to say, give you a full account of Ron´s psychology?” Inexplicably, her grin widened.

“No, I suppose I don´t . I just thought, as you are a boy, you might know him a bit better and could help me understand…”

“Understand what?”

“Perhaps…why Ron is so blocked about that particular charm for a start. I´m quite curious.”

Harry could hardly believe his ears. Hermione, wanting to lead pointless discussions instead of doing some important studying? Only then it occurred to him that this discussion maybe was not so pointless at all…

He glanced down on his homework- Divination- and decided that he was in fact happy to get away from it. Hermione still looked at him expectantly, so he cleared his throat and… found that he had no idea what to say.

“Well?”

“Er… Hermione?”

“What?”

“You aren´t telling me that you haven´t worked out some answer already, are you?”

Once more, a wide grin spread across her face. “Oh yes, I´m telling you that. You´ve no clue either, right?”

Harry gave up. “Yes.”

“So there ´s only one way to change that, isn´t there?”

* * *

It was late in the afternoon, and Hermione and Harry had reduced the pile of work considerably, before Ron returned. Without a word he flopped down on the next chair and gathered up his Charms book. The three worked in silence until it was time for dinner.

As they made their way towards the Great Hall along with many other students, Harry signalled to Hermione to walk a bit slower. He waited until Ron was safely out of earshot, then turned and said, “Well, about what we planned… it doesn’t feel right! We can´t do this to him!”

“Oh yes we can! It´s for his own best.”

“But we´re his friends!”

“We are doing this because we are his friends! There´s more behind that strange behaviour of his than just exam nerves. Even a blind Flobberworm would notice that.”

When they caught up with Ron at the Gryffindor table, everything seemed normal. Hermione and Ron exchanged a glance and silently agreed to forget the latest row for good. Harry noticed it with great relief.

However he felt guilty. He thought of his conversation with Hermione a few hours ago. “He´s got to tell us what bothers him so badly,” she had stated in a tone that allowed no contradiction, “or it will become worse by the day.”

“No way.” Harry was very reluctant to try to force any confession out of his friend. “You know, nothing short of a good Confundus charm could make him tell us.”

Sudden comprehension lit up Hermione´s face. Harry, fearing the worst, asked quickly: “You´re not going to Confund him, are you?”

“Of course not! Honestly!” She obviously thought the very idea ridiculous. Her plan was a different one…

Harry quickly returned to the present when Ron nudged him into the ribs. “Gonna sit here all night?” He looked up and saw an almost deserted Great Hall. Obviously he had managed to empty his plate without giving it so much as a thought.

He got up, stretched and stifled a yawn. “Finished your Potions essay already?” he asked, exchanging a glance with Hermione. Ron groaned. “Of course not. Whaddya think?”

“Me neither.” Harry replied. “Hermione? What about you?” She shook her head. “So let´s go to the library and get that done, shall we?”

“Okay. I´ll go and fetch our bags.” Harry offered. Heading back to Gryffindor tower he wondered whether to go back at all. Probably Hermione and Ron would get along better without his interference. But then he was curious to see if Hermione´s plan would be successful…

* * *

Harry reached the library just in time to witness Hermione cornering Ron.

“Hey, just don´t ask me- I´ll be all right, okay?” was the first thing he heard even before he reached the small nook near the Restricted Section where his friends had settled down. Stepping around the corner he saw Ron, almost backing into the wall, and Hermione sitting opposite him. Quickly Harry flopped down on the third chair. If Ron had considered running for it the second time that day, this was no longer an option. Either way was blocked.

“Please, Ron. Please tell us what´s your problem, we might be able to help you!”

“There wouldn’t be any problem if you simply stopped nagging me!” Ron hissed irritably.

“I don´t believe that, Ron!” Hermione hissed back. “You don´t believe that yourself! We´ve been worried about you! Tell him, Harry.”

Ron looked at him as though pleading him to support his case. Hermione´s expression was the same, making the decision not exactly easier.

“It´s true.” He finally managed to say. “It´s true, we have been worried.” He felt awkward, tongue-tied. How was he going to talk Ron into telling them what was bothering him when he, Harry, was eternally grateful that Ron had made no such attempt in the past? Hermione and Ron had been patient, had waited until he was ready to talk. Or, if it came to that point, had needed no words at all.

Hermione, obviously, had pushed such thoughts far away from her. The three of them had always been able to help each other in the end, even about serious matters. What was the reason for Ron losing that confidence?

“There´s no reason to be worried, I tell you!” Ron stated once again, then suddenly changed his mind and admitted: “Well, there actually is. But it´s nothing serious really…I can cope, okay?”

“Okay…if you´re sure.”

Harry looked at Hermione in utter disbelief. What about her resolution to get Ron to talk this evening, no matter what the cost? Then he felt a tiny scrap of parchment being shoved into his hand under the table. He nodded slightly. Ron, trying to hide behind an enormous copy of Advanced Potions, didn’t see Harry unrolling the parchment in his palm.

“Don´t say a word!” it read in Hermione´s neat handwriting. “He will tell us before it is properly dark outside. Just be silent. Trust me.” Again he nodded his agreement and took up his quill. A hush fell over the table, only disturbed when Ron shifted uneasily in his chair.

Hermione´s quill was practically flying across the parchment. Harry´s quill was moving much slower, trailing behind it a long- drawn scribble of ink. Ron´s quill didn’t seem to move at all. Many blotches and a few lines in a barely readable scrawl were the only sign that he was trying to work. Harry could almost hear his friend arguing with himself. He was so familiar with the internal struggle Ron was going through, familiar to the point of loathing. And he knew that Ron had to go through it alone.

One and a half hours dragged by. Harry and Hermione had finished their essays and were packing their things away. Harry was an inch from telling Hermione that perhaps she had been wrong--when Ron snapped Advanced Potions shut so loudly it made them both jump. Hesitantly he looked from one to the other and took a deep breath. “Okay. If you want to know- listen.”

* * *

For a short while Ron just sat there, refusing to meet their eyes. When he spoke, it was unexpectedly quietly.

“Don´t say anything. Let me talk, or I never will.” Pause.

“It´s… Percy, you know. Percy and that blasted Confundus Charm. You´d think you could trust your own family, wouldn’t you? And now? How can this- this Bighead Boy be so blind? How can he believe what Fudge says, now after all that´s happened? There´s a war coming, can´t he see that? “ For the first time Ron looked up, red in the face. “You know, it was horrible this summer at The Burrow. Percy and Dad had a terrible row. They were not speaking after that. The rest of us didn’t dare say a word. Not even Mum. Not even Fred and George.” He swallowed dryly. “Once Ginny woke up from a nightmare screaming the place down. We all came running into her room to see if she was okay. Only… only Percy…he didn’t come.”

A single tear found its way down Hermione ´s cheek. Ron continued in dead silence.

“It is as if he did not belong to the family any longer. Says he didn’t hear Ginny screaming, but we all know that he did. He knows better than to believe Fudge, yet he does act as if he did!” Ron banged his fist on the table with every word. “How can he trust him rather than us, that stupid git? We´re his family!!” Then the words came in a rush. “It´s unfair, just bloody unfair! Our family is breaking apart- now when we should stick together! My own brother doesn’t trust me- and I can ´t trust my own brother! You can´t force people to trust you, yet there is a charm for it. A charm! If it was a curse, illegal, you know, it would make sense. But we´re learning it at school! It. Just. Feels. Wrong!!! It ´s all so terribly wrong…”

Hermione took Ron´s hand and squeezed it helplessly. Tears were streaming down his face now, and both his friends kept their eyes down. It was the first time they had ever seen him crying.

After a while, Ron looked up and they met each other´s gaze. Embarrassed, but relieved.

The three of them knew that they never would speak about this evening again, unless Ron brought up the subject himself. More than ever they knew without words that they could trust each other.

* * * ~*~ * * *

A/N: I just wanted to thank some people without whom this story would never have been written. These are, of course, the incredible headmistresses of the Sugarquill. I am also forever indebted to the one and only Doctor Cornelius, my amazing Beta-Reader. Thanks a lot!!! J

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