~ Chapter 8 ~
Science and Omens
“Geez, Hermione--are there any books left in the library?”
Ron asked, staring at the pile of volumes on the table as he walked from
the boys’ dorm stairs.
Hermione watched as he yanked the chair out next to her and folded his
tall frame into it. He grimaced a bit after bending his leg, probably
feeling a muscle twinge from Quidditch practice that morning.
Luckily, Hermione had found a quiet corner of the common room. She didn’t
think Ron would want anyone eavesdropping on their conversation, and from
there they could protect themselves from any sneak attacks, especially
from red-headed, older twin brothers. The beautiful, clear blue sky morning
had turned into an afternoon of puffy gray-white clouds and frequent snow
flurries. Their seats by the window allowed them to hear the swishing
whisper of the flakes as they grazed the outside glass before falling
in a soundless mound on the sill.
“I’d hoped there’d be more information, but according to
the books, it’s really rare, so it hasn’t been studied much.
Besides, what you do must be really unusual because it’s a combination
of two abilities.”
“You’re calling this an ability?” Ron responded. “It
happens, but I’m not sure it’s an ability. I can’t make
“You must be doing something--whether you know it or not-- even if
you’re just being open to it in a certain way. Here’s the first
part: ‘An empath is very able to sense the presence and emotional
state of others around them. They can identify mentally with another person
and hence, feel or understand their feelings. They can, at times, involve
themselves with those feelings, especially when dealing with strong emotions:
hate, fear, despair, anger, excitement, euphoria, love, etc. Empaths can
sometimes help others sort out their own emotions by reflecting them back
to the owner’.”
“That seems about right. Like with Ginny, first she was afraid of
failing Snape’s test, then the next time she became afraid and
angry at bloody, stinking Malfoy,” Ron said, thinking back.
Hermione’s eyes snapped up to give Ron a look. It was the profanity
she objected to, not the description of Malfoy--she felt that was actually
“See how good I am? I can tell you’re angry because I called
him--” Ron started, his eyes twinkling, but she pushed her hand up
to cover his mouth before he could get the words out again. Ron laughed
and pulled her hand away. “Okay, I’ll stop. Now I forgot. What
does it say again?”
“Serves you right you forgot. Read it yourself this time. Starts
right there.” Hermione pointed at a line in the book. Ron scooted
his chair closer to hers so he could read the part she’d shown him.
Trying to fold his long arms under the table wasn’t working, so he
rested one arm on the back of her chair and leaned close.
Oh, don’t do that! Hermione’s brain wished at him. She
looked away from him and out the window as he read silently, attempting
to ignore him by looking for patterns in the white snowflakes against
the evergreens and the castle gray.
Ignoring him wasn’t going well. When he’d first come down to
meet her, his wet hair gave away that he’d showered after practice.
(Likely a good thing, she thought. Even though he could have cleaned
up magically, she knew he liked showers better, he was just was too lazy
to dry his hair). Smelling wonderfully of the forest after a rainstorm,
Ron wasn’t aware of how distracting he was to her when he leaned
in to read and added the warmth of his body so close to hers. He’s
a FRIEND! her mind screamed. Don’t be stupid and expect anything
else! You’ll get hurt again!
Hermione heard a noise from the stairs and looked up to see Harry
strolling over to join them. (Saved! she thought. Concentrate
on talking to Harry! ) He too looked like he’d showered, but
at least he had taken the time to dry his hair --even if it didn’t
help it behave.
“Seems like you found one or two bits about it, Hermione,” Harry
said sarcastically, pushing the mound of books aside so they would be
able to see him once he’d sat down. “Not that I’m surprised.”
“Yes, but we haven’t gotten very far,” Hermione replied.
“He’s still reading in the first book.”
“So have you found out what’s wrong with him yet?”
“Other than the obvious?” Hermione teased, glancing sideways.
Ron finished reading the paragraph and sneered at them both. “You
know, if I find I can do this mind thing, I should roam around both of
yours and seriously search for the comedy sections. I really think
they’ve gone missing.” He was obviously not comfortable being
the topic of conversation.
Hermione explained, “The book says empaths can sense the emotions
of people around them. I thinks that’s part of what’s happening
to Ron-- that’s as far as we got.”
“But with me, the people usually aren’t very near, except with
He--” Ron stopped himself just in time, just before saying “Hermione”.
“With who?” Harry questioned in confusion when his friend didn’t
finish. “Except with who?”
“Actually, now that I think about it, they’ve always been pretty
far away. All of them,” Ron fibbed, a bit too strongly. “Every
Harry and Hermione glanced at him strangely, then at each other.
“Anyway,” Ron continued quickly. “The point is, what happens
to me doesn’t match with the book, so--”
“That’s the next part,” Hermione broke in. “Have you
two studied telepathy in Divination yet?”
“No, I think it’s a sixth-year class, but you have to apply
and be accepted,” Harry offered. “Trelawney doesn’t want
people in there with zero ability, clouding the ‘realm of possibility’
for the others.”
“Hmmm. Well, I’m thinking Ron would get accepted. Listen.”
Hermione read from a second book, “A telepath is someone who can
communicate from their mind to the mind of another without speaking or
writing or using gestures.”
“Gestures can be quite effective sometimes. Don’t you think,
Harry?” Ron commented.
Both boys tried to look serious, then burst out laughing.
Hermione gave them a warning look, then cleared her throat and continued,
“With their connection, one person acts as a transmitter and the
other becomes a receiver, similar to a television or radio connection.”
She stopped reading. “Well, Harry knows what I mean--this one’s
a Muggle book.”
“I know what you mean, too,” Ron protested. “Or haven’t
you met my dad?” Mr. Weasley’s collection at the Burrow was
well-known for its variety of Muggle artifacts, especially anything having
to do with electricity.
Hermione kept reading, “The telepathic experience is affected by
a number of variables, but mainly the power of the telepath to transmit
and the ability of the receiver. Often, the connection also depends on
how well the two people know or like each other, and how strongly they
believe they can do it. Some telepaths or receivers are so skilled at
their art that they do not need the permission or knowledge of the other
to complete the transmission. Distance can also be a factor.” Hermione
snapped the book shut, leaving the marker in place.
“So that explains the distance part,” Ron commented. “This
all sounds too complicated to be something I could do.”
“Have you done anything to make it happen so far?” Harry asked.
Ron shook his head. “So how hard could it be?”
“Now for the really interesting part. This is where it gets
a little dodgy, because like I said, this seems to be pretty rare.”
Hermione pulled the oldest book out of the stack, one with a very ornate
cover, obviously a magical book instead of a Muggle volume. Using the
page marker, she opened and read, “By the seventeenth century, reports
of five wizards and two witches had been compiled (since Magical Recorded
Time began) who showed similar abilities in non-verbal communication.
Two other women and one man made up documented cases of non-magical persons
who possessed the same abilities.”
“So from what they’re saying, this isn’t necessarily a
magical ability?” Ron asked.
“Right. From what little they know, it’s really rare and very
special, but not necessarily magical,” Hermione summarized. “It
says, ‘The word for the combination of these abilities is derived
from the roots of the separate words, and is called ‘telempathy’.
A person who can perform this specific combination of tasks would be called
a ‘telempath’. A telempath, therefore, is a person who can communicate
with another person over distance, can identify with the person well enough
to understand and/or feel their emotions, and can act as both transmitter
and receiver, able to communicate thoughts, ideas, feelings, and images
using only the powers of the mind. Telempaths are rare in the wizarding
world, even rarer in Muggle society. They are usually found to be in the
mid-teen years or older because some level of emotional maturity is necessary
to understand the episodes and deal with them accordingly.”
“Did you say emotional maturity? Well, then, it’s all over for
Ron,” Harry only half-teased.
“What do you mean? I’m emotionally mature. Haven’t jumped
up and down on Krum’s play figure for --well, weeks, at least,”
Ron protested sarcastically.
Hermione gasped. “Why would you--? Oh, never mind,” she asked
Ron, then thought better of it and returned to reading the text. “Telempaths
feel the entire range of human emotions especially strongly themselves,
but cannot communicate false emotions. Case studies show telempathy usually
can’t be controlled and is random. However, undocumented cases tell
of telempaths who have overcome this and learned to control the ability
“Er....what?” Ron asked, as he and Harry sat staring at her,
their mouths slightly ajar.
“Ron, this is you!” Hermione said excitedly. “From all
you told me about your ‘dreams’ or whatever you thought they
were, it has to be! Don’t you think so?”
“Can you translate it all into English so I can get as excited as
you?” Ron questioned, still a bit dazed by it all.
Hermione did indeed do all she could to explain in layman’s terms,
and repeat, and answer questions for Ron and Harry. By the end, they too
were thinking this really might be what was going on with Ron in its beginning
stages. After all, the episodes involved all those things, the age was
close, and there was no doubt Ron felt emotions strongly.
Harry seemed to feel the need to comment on this. “Actually, I’m
not sure. I mean, It’s so hard to tell what Ron’s feeling
most of the time, especially when he’s frustrated, or angry,”
he said sarcastically. “With him, there’s never a need to fear
yelling, or profanity, or flying furniture, after all.”
Ron had been shaking his head. “Oh, all right, Harry, next time I’ll
tell you when to duck.” He turned to Hermione. “So what makes
you so sure you’re right about this?”
Hermione flashed a wide grin and raised her eyebrows. “Women’s
intuition,” she replied haughtily. “Actually, I think I’m
pretty good at that myself.” (Except , maybe, where the
male species is concerned, she thought.)
“Really?” Ron teased. “Well, if you’re right about
me, I may have to take you on about that.” Suddenly, Ron grabbed
at his stomach dramatically. “Oh, I’m feeling something right
now. It’s...it’s hunger!”
“That’s not an emotion!” Hermione said disapprovingly.
“It is for me right now, because I’m feeling really hungry
and I’ll be quite emotional about it if I don’t eat,” Ron
Harry leaned over to ‘whisper’ to Hermione, obviously intending
for Ron to hear. “I think we’ve created a monster.”
Hermione opened her mouth to reply, but it was Ron that spoke. “That
would be a telempathic monster to you. And careful, I know what
you’re thinking!” Ron joked, piling the books to pick up later,
and heading toward the portrait hole for dinner.
Hermione and Harry just rolled their eyes, looked at one another, and
resignedly followed Ron to the Great Hall.
After much discussion among the three of them, Ron, Harry, and Hermione
thought perhaps it would be wise to include Ginny in their plan to test
Ron’s telempathic ability further, since she was usually the one
emotion-sharing with him.
Ron wanted to talk with Ginny first, alone. Having read the information
that said telempaths connect more easily with someone they are close to,
it was obvious why he kept connecting with Ginny. Aside from the twins,
Ron and Ginny had been the closest pair of siblings in the Weasley family,
and he was depending on that relationship to help him tell her about this.
He tried to imagine what it would be like for someone to tell him
they had shared some of his innermost feelings and realized there
was a good possibility Ginny would be completely horrified at the thought.
Overall, Ginny took it quite well. She told Ron if it had been anyone
but him invading her privacy, it would have been different. She seemed
to feel much better once he explained to her in detail that it had only
happened three times, and which three times those were. After all, she
had told him about Snape’s class of her own free will, and his sharing
her happiness at the party was no big deal. Ginny was edgiest about the
situation with Malfoy.
“Why didn’t you tell me that bloody prat was bothering you?”
Ron demanded. After being very gentle to this point (for Ron), he came
on a bit strongly now.
“Ron, I know how much you care, and I love that,” she said sincerely.
“And it’s true, I was a little worried about what he’d
try next. But you know what? You can’t be around all the time, and
if it never happens again with Malfoy, it might with someone else. I need
to know how to take care of myself and I refuse to be helpless.
I did take care of the problem, didn’t I?”
Ron admitted that she had indeed, with a swift elbow to the ribs. He had
to tell himself that she was growing up right along with him and it gave
him the courage to tell her what had really been worrying him.
“Gin, there’s a part of this we haven’t talked about.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve been there when I was with someone
I do like!” she half-joked.
Ron worked hard not to think of who that might be for now and spoke
to her seriously. “No. I need you to know this, and it’s not
a good thing.”
Ginny was sobered by his expression. “Go on.”
“That time in the library. Do you remember any feeling at all that
there was something evil around?--er--besides Malfoy?”
She pondered the question. “Well, it’s been a while. And I was
a bit distracted by the more pressing problem. But yes, I think I do remember
wondering if Malfoy himself could really be that evil, to make it feel
so cold and hopeless there. Why?”
“Since I didn’t know how to get to you that fast from the hospital
ward anyway, I had a few more seconds to focus on that evil feeling. And
it’s been driving me crazy since then.” He paused to gather
his courage. “Gin, it was a dementor.” Ron looked into her face
to see if he was frightening her. She seemed all right for the moment.
“ I don’t know if it was really there lurking in the library
with you and Malfoy, or just in what I saw of it. But since then,
I keep thinking that it, or others, will come back, and that somehow it’s
tied in with you. I’m trying to learn how to protect you from them.
So far, it’s not going very well.” Ron had a dejected look on
his face. He wanted to be able to tell her she had nothing to fear,
but what he needed to tell her was the truth.
It wasn’t often that Ginny saw her closest brother this serious,
or worried, about anything. Now she seemed to be a little worried
“Ron, you know everything happens for a reason. If you felt a dementor
was there, it was to help you start working on trying to defeat them,
so you’d be ready when the time came. And if, for some reason, you’re
not ready then, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m
not a baby anymore, and I won’t live in fear all the time. We can’t
wish the Darkness away--it’s here, and if my part in that
involves dementors, I have at least one big brother who I know
would do anything he could to help me. That’s all I could ever ask
for.“ Ginny glanced over at Ron, who was staring at the floor.
Finally raising his eyes and flipping his hair back, Ron was less worried
now. “So, you’ll be okay with this telempathy thing? It may
be a rough ride--I don’t know how to control it yet--maybe I never
will. If I happen to pop in on something I think you’d be embarrassed
at, I’ll try to pop back out, okay?” He managed a small grin
“Yeah, you’d better!” Ginny warned. “And now I know
you might be there, I better learn how to shut the door in my mind, just
like at home! “
Ron made a mental note to stop considering Ginny his “baby sister”.
There was nothing babyish about her outlook on the world at all. He had
no doubt that any bloke or any dementor, even, who bothered her, had better
be ready for what they got in return. Ron looked over at his sister proudly
and did something he hadn’t done in quite some time: he put his arm
around her shoulders and hugged her to him. “Thanks, Gin,” he
Ginny reached around his waist and hugged him back. Releasing him, she
smiled and said matter-of-factly, “This ability they think you have--
I don’t know about anyone else, but I always knew you were
special. Really a pain sometimes, but special.”
Ron watched her stroll down the corridor from where they’d been talking
on the stairs. Hmmm, he thought, never really thought of myself
as special. I kinda like it.
That had been three days ago.
Hermione watched Ron chuckling heartily.
“Yeah, Trelawney just ate it up,” he laughed. “You should
have seen her face when I told her I wanted to do my term paper on telempathy.
Of course, I think I could have done whatever I wanted. She still looks
at me as if it’s the last paper I’m ever going to do before
I die.” He lowered his voice dramatically. “Beware the Ides
of March, young Weasley!”
Harry, Ginny, and Hermione all laughed at his theatrics, but the ‘Ides
of March’ were only a little more than a month away. The way the
world had changed so drastically, it might not be so comical then.
“Fun, isn’t it? It’s like she’s already mourning for
you before you’re dead-- kind of strange,” Harry agreed. “What
makes someone like that?”
“Too much time on their hands and not enough of a life,” Hermione
said disgustedly, ready to move on. “Now, about this experiment.”
Even though Ginny herself had told them she had a huge paper due for Snape’s
class, she agreed to help the other three that Sunday to try and find
out just what Ron’s capabilities were.
“On one condition,” Ginny added. “Harry has to help me
with my paper later.”
“Me?” Harry asked quizzically. “For Potions? Hermione’s
the one to ask for help there. Not that I mind helping you, Ginny, just--well,
it’s not my strong suit.”
Ginny wouldn’t budge. “But Hermione’s helped research all
this for Ron, and she knows how to set up the experiments so they’re
all done scientifically for his paper. Can you do that, Harry?”
“Just as I thought. Besides, you did all the stuff I’m doing
now, last year. It’ll be easy for you.”
Harry still looked hesitant, but said nothing.
“That’s the deal, otherwise I have to go now and get started.
You want my help, I get your help,” Ginny insisted in a strange voice,
focusing on Harry.
Hermione had been watching this exchange with interest. I can tell
flirting when I see it, Ginny, she found herself thinking. She noticed
Ron had been watching carefully, as well--and didn’t look especially
Harry just looked bewildered. Then he appeared to make a decision and
went with it. “Well, okay. But only for the cause,” he said
teasingly, giving Ginny a smile Hermione had never seen Harry give anyone
Ginny, apparently feeling victorious after seeing that smile, purposely
ignored Ron’s scowl and turned her attention to Hermione. “So,
what do I do?”
Hermione had decided that to find out just how strong Ron’s abilities
were in each realm, she would separate the two and test just one variable
at a time. She sent Ron and Harry to the next classroom over, also vacant
because it was the weekend, with instructions for Harry to stand by the
door and watch for Hermione’s signal from the room where Ginny was.
Ron was to sit inside the second room somewhere he could be most comfortable.
(They had already deduced that Ron was most able to connect when he was
relaxed--all his “connections” --that anyone knew about-- had
had that in common.)
Ms. Granger, the scientist, had Ginny sit in the first classroom and concentrate
on one thing. Hermione gave Harry the signal when they were ready for
the next exercise, and Ron carried on. Ron first found which color Ginny
picked out of a set of four papers, then ten, then twenty. He told which
object she was thinking of (a goblet), first from a printed page, then
a different object she only pictured in her mind (the fireplace mantle
in the Burrow). What amazed all of them the most was when Ron sent a message
back for Ginny to report to Hermione, “This is too easy!!”
Next, Hermione decided to see if distance mattered (she was recording
all of this very methodically on some charts and graphs, of course, so
Ron could write his paper later--if he could understand the paperwork).
She decided to make a big change so she didn’t hear it was “too
easy” again-- other end of the wing, one floor up, different exercises
(Harry and Hermione had to keep running from their doors to the stairwell
to accomplish this). By the end, Harry didn’t even move, just wrote
down what Ron said, because Ron knew when Ginny was working on
the next exercise. And-- he still passed them all. Even though Ron himself
was surprised at his success, he couldn’t help boasting a bit. This
time his message was, “Anything more interesting than this?”
Hermione was getting a bit irritated, even though she was impressed with
the strength of his ability. He was sailing through all the exercises
she had worked so hard to put together. And though she couldn’t see
Ron, she was guessing from the attitude of his messages that he hadn’t
yet broken a sweat.
She called them back together to talk about the second part. Well, actually,
the third. Having set up a second section with just empathic tests, Hermione
decided to skip them, since apparently Ron and Ginny had a very strong
connection. So, on they went to Part Three-- complete telempathy. This
one was a bit tougher because Ginny had to think back to a time when she
had felt a strong emotion, and concentrate on that enough to feel
the emotion again as deeply as possible.
Hermione sent Ron and Harry to the Astronomy Tower this time, and to the
amazement of them all, Ron described perfectly how Ginny felt and what
she was thinking when Tom Riddle had lured her into the Chamber of Secrets.
It had taken him a bit longer to focus on all of it, but at least with
Ginny, his abilities were clear.
Ron hadn’t even been aware of which event in her life Ginny was going
to pick, and he hadn’t been there when his little sister first entered
the Chamber to see Riddle. Afterwards, he had never pressed her to talk
about it much, so it was truly amazing how many details about Ginny’s
experience he could relate. By the end of the exercise, the gruesome subject
had dampened all of their spirits a bit. Ron and Harry, walking tiredly
from the Tower, told the girls they had decided to break for lunch.
As they finished lunch, Ginny asked Hermione if it would cause a serious
problem if she didn’t go back to help them.
Hermione was worried it had to do with thinking about the Chamber. “We
could work with something else, if that bothered you,” Hermione offered
“Yeah, that was pretty brave to put yourself through all that again,”
Ginny glanced at Harry, then looked down and blushed.
Hermione thought Ginny finally sounded like she was getting over her horrible
experience in the Chamber of Secrets, or learning to deal with it at the
very least. Of course, Hermione also knew that by recalling the Chamber,
Ginny had the opportunity to remember that Harry had saved her
and how that felt.
“No, it’s not the Chamber,” said Ginny. “The real
problem is that I only have the afternoon to finish my paper, and the
time has me worried.”
“Should have just asked Ron what you were concerned about,”
Hermione said, a bit sarcastically. “No, go on ahead. I’m thinking
of trying something different now anyway. It’s obvious you two can
make a strong connection.”
“Something different?” Ron questioned, eyebrows raised, flashing
his cocky grin. “Like what? Something more difficult, perhaps?’
“Oh, don’t get all smug with me, Ron,” Hermione said. “The
only variable we haven’t changed is the receiver. You and Ginny grew
up together and you know each other very well. I think we should try someone
“Like who?” Ron asked suspiciously, suddenly acting very afraid
of what she might say. “Harry?” he tried hopefully.
“Of course not. Harry promised to help Ginny, so he can’t be
“Who, then?” Ron questioned, wincing.
Ron looked like a Bludger had just blindsided him, right in the temple.