The Sugar Quill
Author: Night Zephyr (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Points of No Return  Chapter: Science and Omens
Next Chapter
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

~ 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 it happen.”

“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 quite accurate.

“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 single time.”

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 at will.”

“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 insisted.

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 about him.

“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 at that.

“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 said quietly.

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?”

“Er...well...”

“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 pleased.

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 before.

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 sympathetically.

“Yeah, that was pretty brave to put yourself through all that again,” Harry complimented.

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 different.”

“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 there.”

“Who, then?” Ron questioned, wincing.

“Me.”

Ron looked like a Bludger had just blindsided him, right in the temple.

//
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 --