The Sugar Quill
Author: Zsenya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: At Diagon Alley  Chapter: Part Three: We Had to Have at Least One Fight, Didn't We?
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PART III: WE HAD TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE FIGHT, DIDN'T WE?
(Ron's POV)

Mr. and Mrs. Granger were sitting at the kitchen table when Ron arrived downstairs. Hermione was nowhere to be seen.

"Good morning Ron!" greeted Mrs. Granger cheerfully, "Eggs?"

"Oh, er, yes please," answered Ron, looking around questioningly for Hermione.

"She's gone out to the garden. Said she wanted to do something," grunted Mr. Granger from behind his newspaper. "Seemed a little distracted this morning."

Ron looked down at the plate of eggs that Mrs. Granger had just set in front of him and began to eat them slowly. Nobody said much of anything. A tapping at the window startled them all. Jerking his head up, Ron saw Hermes, his brother Percy's screech owl, perched outside the window. Ron rushed over and opened the window to let Hermes in. "It's my brother's owl," he explained.

Attached to Hermes' leg were three letters. One was addressed to Mrs. Granger from Mrs. Weasley. The second was also from Mrs. Weasley, but addressed to Ron, and the third was from Fred. Ron gave Mrs. Granger her letter and then proceeded to open his own letter from his mother.

Dear Ron,

I hope you behaved yourself during your stay with the Grangers and learned lots of interesting things about the Muggle lifestyle. We will see you in the Leaky Cauldron sometime today. I checked in your room [Ron groaned] and it doesn't appear that you've forgotten to pack anything. Remember to be polite and thank Mr. and Mrs. Granger for letting you stay with them.

Much love,

Mum

Ron opened the letter from Fred with a grin. He figured he knew what this one said,

Dear Ron,

You're not as smart as you think you are. I never kissed Angelina under the bleachers but he did kiss her in the locker room [obviously, Fred and George were writing this one together]. Just remember, we've got your number now. Step out of line and we'll catch you. And don't think that you can use the locker room if you make the Quidditch team, because you can't, but the bleachers are usually free… At least you're not as stupid as your brother George. Hey!

Love from,

Fred

Scowling slightly, Ron shoved the letter into his pocket.

"Everything all right, Ron?" asked Mrs. Granger.

"Yeah, fine." He answered, then remembering his manners, added, "Mrs. Granger, Mr. Granger, thanks so much for inviting me to stay here this summer. It's been loads of fun. I mean, I never would have gotten to learn the guitar or all about CDs and things if I had stayed at the Burrow."

They both smiled and then Mr. Granger pushed his chair away from the table, stood up, and said, "I've got a few things to do before we leave. Ron, we've loved having you and it's been wonderful to have another man in the house to balance things out a bit." Mr. Granger dodged his wife's hand, which was getting ready to smack him playfully.

"Mr. Granger, may I have a last go on the guitar?"

"Be my guest," Mr. Granger replied.

Grinning, Ron rushed down the hall towards the recreation room and plugged in Mr. Granger's old guitar. He amused himself by trying to play along with one of the records, thinking that he might use some of his summer savings to buy an acoustic guitar that he could use at Hogwarts. When he finally looked up, he saw Hermione standing in the doorway. He smiled at her and she walked over to where he was sitting and plopped down next to him.

"Mum says to tell you that its nearly time to go," she started to say, but Ron cut her off with a quick kiss. She smiled at him weakly.

"What's wrong?" Ron asked, looking concerned.

"I don't know," began Hermione, looking down at her hands. "It's just that, well, these past two weeks have been so wonderful, and now we have to go back to school and I'm afraid it will be weird, and we're going to have to tell Harry, but I don't want to tell anyone, I just sort of want them to know and then ignore it because it sounds so strange if you try to say, well, whatever. Do you know what I mean?"

Hermione had uttered the statement in her usual worried rush and had begun to wring her hands.

"Hermione," said Ron, placing the guitar back in its case and turning towards her. He gripped her shoulders so that she had to look up at him and said, "Its going to be fine. We don't have to tell anybody anything. We can say something to Harry on the train or something and everyone else can just figure out whatever they want to. Don't worry. You'll have to learn how to develop a thick skin to deal with Fred and George though."

"Do they know what's going on?"

Ron turned very red. He was going to have to lie a bit, but he figured it was for the best. He just said, "they don't know that we've…that we've, well, you know, kissed, but they were teasing me about you before I even came here and I'm sure they'll pick up on it pretty quickly."

Hermione sighed, "For the first time, I'm not sure I want to go back to Hogwarts."

"Yes you do!" said Ron, feigning shock. "What would you do without Charms, Herbology, Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Astronomy, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, History of Magic, Divination - oh, yeah, you dropped that one, and Defense Against the Dark Arts? And don't forget…" here Ron assumed a look of extreme excitement, "this year we get to take the O.W.L.'s!!! It's going to be so much fun, I can feel it in my bones. We won't have time for anything but studying, and that's your favorite thing in the world!"

Hermione tried to look annoyed and squirm out of Ron's reach, but in the end she broke down into laughter. Kissing him quickly on the lips, she said, "Studying is only one of my favorite things in the world." Hermione's face became very serious again. "Ron, there's something I have to tell you before we go back to school."

"What is it?" asked Ron lightly.

Hermione reached into her pocket and pulled out a small brown package and a piece of parchment. She handed it to Ron, looking down at the floor. Ron opened the brown paper and saw a shining silver badge lying inside, the word "Prefect" engraved in the metal. He looked at Hermione in astonishment. Then he opened the letter. It read:

Dear Miss Granger:

We are pleased to inform you that you have been chosen to serve this year as a Prefect for Gryffindor house. We know that you are equal to the responsibility. Please wear this badge as soon as you step onto the Hogwarts Express. A special training meeting will be held after the Sorting Feast.

Congratulations,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Ron looked at Hermione, who was still looking, very red in the face, down at her feet. He didn't know what to say. He wasn't surprised actually, but he felt as though Hermione was expecting him to act a certain way and he wasn't sure what that was. Finally he said, "But - isn't that what you've always wanted?"

Hermione snapped her head up and looked very, very surprised. "You mean you're not angry?"

"Angry? Why?" Ron's face brightened considerably, "if you're a Prefect, that means that we can get away with bloody murder! You're the boss!"

Hermione's brows furrowed, she frowned, and Ron instantly knew that he had said the wrong thing, "Ron! Don't swear! That is not what it means. It means that I can't just go around sneaking out at night under the Invisibility Cloak. I can't break any rules, and you and Harry can't either. If I see you misbehaving, I have to turn you in."

"Aw, come on, Hermione, you don't have to do that."

"Yes I do!" Hermione's face now nearly matched the color of Ron's hair and her eyes were flashing.

"You wouldn't turn us in!"

"I would if I caught you out of bounds! I can't have double standards. I'd have to be fair!"

Ron was now feeling extremely upset. Something different was going on inside of him. Before - well, before he had just accepted fighting as part of his friendship with Hermione and not really given it too much thought. Now - now he felt as though he really didn't want to fight, but that he couldn't help it. He took a deep breath and attempted to sound calm.

"Hermione, do you realize that our sneaking out and breaking school rules has saved several lives over the past few years? Do you understand that sometimes it's okay to break a rule or two?"

Tears were threatening to fall from Hermione's eyes, but she recovered herself and stood up, "I knew you'd get angry," she began, very quietly. "I can't help it if I've been asked to be a Prefect. I can't very well turn it down. Do you think that I enjoy being known as boring old Hermione who never wants to do anything fun?"

"Hermione!" exclaimed Ron, "That's not what I said! I know for a fact that lots of Prefects have broken rules - I'm not saying that you should break rules, I'm just saying that you don't have to turn everybody in for every little thing."

But Hermione wasn't really listening anymore. She gave Ron a very nasty look, lifted her head high, and stormed out of the room, nearly knocking over Mr. Granger who appeared in the doorway.

Mr. Granger raised one eyebrow towards Hermione and then came and sat next to Ron in the seat she had recently vacated.

"So, Ron, what did you do wrong?" asked Mr. Granger very cheerfully, a small twinkle in his eye.

Ron looked down at the floor and kicked his feet around, "Dunno," he mumbled. They were quiet for a few moments and then Ron continued quietly, "she just told me that she gets to be a Prefect this year and I told her it was great and she got mad at me." Ron's brows were furrowed now, and he was replaying the conversation in his head, trying to remember exactly what had happened.

Mr. Granger smiled at Ron and said with a sigh, "Ron, my boy, get used to it. That's all the advice I have to offer. Now!" Mr. Granger stood up and reached for the guitar case on the floor. He took the guitar out of Ron's arms and placed it inside the case. "Please accept this small gift from one musician to another. Hermione told me that all the electricity doesn't work at your school, but you can use the amplifier here at any time, and maybe you can bewitch it to work there somehow. Hermione was going on about misusing artifacts or something like that, but I'm sure you'll figure something out."

Ron stared at Mr. Granger as if he were a unicorn. "Really?" he asked, staring at the guitar case. "Really?"

Mr. Granger nodded and started heading for the door, "of course, you can only come over again if Hermione decides to start speaking to you, so try to do something nice for her today. We've got to get going."

Ron followed him feeling very happy and very confused.

~*~

The car ride from the Granger's house to London was uneventful. Hermione still wouldn't look at Ron and when he tried to make up to her by holding her hand, she jerked it away and shifted closer to the window.

When they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron, Mr. Weasley was waiting for them.

"Ted! Courtney! Welcome!"

"Hello Arthur, how're your teeth doing?" Mr. Weasley looked a bit frightened, but recovered quickly and said cheerfully, "Oh! Very clean, thank you!"

They all entered together. Hermione and Ron were informed that everyone else had already left to gather school supplies, but they were due back at the Leaky Caldron at five o'clock for tea. The Grangers kissed Hermione goodbye and gave her spending money for books and Mr. Granger shook Ron's hand vigorously.

"I hope he behaved…" began Mr. Weasley, as Ron turned bright red. Nobody noticed except Hermione, who let out a short, sarcastic sounding laugh, which she quickly stifled.

"Oh, he's a fine boy Arthur," enthused Mr. Granger, "a fine, upstanding, respectable boy, aren't you Ron?" Ron nodded, looking at the ground. "Thanks," he muttered. He felt a bit ill.

The Grangers agreed to join Mr. Weasley for a drink. Hermione said goodbye to her parents and then headed out into Diagon Alley with Ron. They were very quiet. Being back in the magical world was a bit daunting. Ron wondered briefly if the whole summer had been a dream. Given their final conversation at the Grangers that morning, it may as well have been. They headed for Gringotts so that Hermione could change her money - Ron had a handful of change from his father, and they went to the apothecary to stock up on supplies for Potions. Ron stared wistfully at some of the more potent herbs on display behind the counter and briefly wondered if there were any that could make Hermione talk to him. Then they were off to Flourish and Blotts, emerging half an hour later with three large heavy bags; Hermione was carrying two of them; she had picked up some extra books for light reading during the term.

They wandered in the general direction of Florean Fortescue's, although both of them seemed to be walking very, very slowly, as if dreading a reunion with their friends. The silence was painful. From afar, Ron could make out the figures of Fred, George, and Lee Jordan staring dreamily in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies. He felt a lurch in his stomach and then, grabbing Hermione's arm, he hissed, "Come on!" and pulled her in the direction of a small alleyway between two shops.

"Ron! What are you doi…" began Hermione crossly, but she was cut off by a forceful kiss. Looking startled, she jumped back. Ron looked at her uncertainly, "Sorry, I, er, just wanted to make sure it was all real - it's a bit weird being back here after what happened this summer, I just wanted to bring things back into perspective." Ron drew in his breath sharply, shrugged his hands into the pockets of his jeans, and looked down at his large feet. "Hermione - I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I know it's a big deal for you to be a Prefect and I promise to try my best not to give you a hard time about it."

Hermione gave Ron a very tiny smile, but he could see from the watery look in her eyes that she forgave him. She placed her packages down on the ground beside her, reached her arms up around Ron's neck, and kissed him back.

//
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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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