The Sugar Quill
Author: Arabella (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione, Queen of Witches, Book Four  Chapter: Chapter Two
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The Secret Diary of Hermione Granger

~Year Four~

Based on "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling

Disclaimer: It’s all JKR.

Thanks to: Zsenya, for generously posting everything for me; Honeychurch, for the great Guinevere info; and Kata, who encouraged this in the first place.

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A/N: Anyone who’s made it this far may have also begun to read Ron’s Rants. He’ll be ranting rudely all along the way as Hermione continues to neatly chronicle her life. You’ll know there’s a corresponding "journal" entry if you see (Ron Rants) at the end of an HQoW diary entry. They will be posted separately.

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HQoW

August 26

Gwen, I’m scared. It’s three in the morning, and something awful’s just happened. And I mean awful.

I’m bracing myself. Tell me.

Mr. Weasley came into our tent – I’m not sure how long ago – and woke us up. I knew right away that something was the matter. There was a lot of screaming, the sounds of things breaking, people running – Mr. Weasley said there wasn’t any time to get dressed, so Ginny and I threw on coats over our nightdresses and grabbed hands, and went outside – there were tents burning – and up in the air was a family of Muggles. Mr. Roberts – you know, the site-keeper? – and his wife, and their two little children. And below them, there were these people in hoods and masks, pointing up at them with their wands, and... laughing. It chilled my blood.

They started contorting the Muggles. They were making them flop upside down and spin and – and Mrs. Roberts’ knickers showed – and I just – it was so sick, Gwen, so sick. I knew what they were doing, I’ve read about that curse, it’s the Imperius Curse. You put it on somebody and you can make them do whatever you want them to do. And so the hooded people were just levitating that whole family, and torturing them – and they were awake, and so terrified, Gwen, I don’t know if any Memory Charm can make them forget it. I thought about what my parents would do if that happened... because they don’t have magic, just like the Robertses – they didn’t have any way to fight back – it was horrible – my stomach hurts.

Oh, Hermione.

Bill, Charlie, Percy and Mr. Weasley took out their wands and went to help the Ministry fight off the hooded wizards. Ron’s whole family is so good, Gwen. They didn’t even hesitate, even Percy rolled up his sleeves and looked ready to fight – he wasn’t in Gryffindor for nothing. Mr. Weasley told the rest of us all to stick together and get in the forest, where nobody could find us. So Fred and George grabbed Ginny and the rest of us followed them, and we ran in among the trees. It was so scary, Gwen, just the sounds of what was happening were enough to turn my stomach, and the worst part was that I didn’t understand what was going on.

The first thing that happened in the forest was that we got separated. It was dark, and Ron tripped, and I heard him fall – I lit my wand, and Ginny, Fred and George weren’t with us anymore, it was just Ron, Harry and me. Ron said he was all right, he’d just tripped over a tree root. And then we heard this voice.

"Well, with feet that size, hard not to."

Malfoy. Didn’t even have to look to know it was him, he’s always on the spot to say something horrible to one of us. Ron whirled right around and told him to go and... erm... well, he told Malfoy to do something he wouldn’t have dared to say in front of his mum. And then Malfoy pointed to me and said we ought to be careful, "You wouldn’t like her spotted, would you?" And I asked him just what exactly that meant, but I knew. He was saying that those hooded wizards were out to get Muggle-borns. And that means me.

Harry stepped up and snarled, "Hermione’s a witch," but Malfoy just laughed and told Harry to have it his way, "If you think they can’t spot a Mudblood –" he started to taunt, but Ron cut him off –

"You watch your mouth!" And then he lunged at him. I grabbed him by the arms from behind to hold him back.

You should have let Ron go at him.

No. I don’t think we should have added to that mess by fighting, and besides.... I know Ron would have fought him, and....that’s enough.

Anyway, though – then Harry asked Malfoy "Where’re your parents?" and accused that they were probably out there in that masked crowd, torturing the Muggles. And Malfoy didn’t deny it. His father was out there; I know it. He probably started the whole thing. I couldn’t stand to look at his face – I led the way off, and we left Malfoy to himself.

Where did you go?

Mostly we were looking for Fred, George, and Ginny – we ran across a lot of people, but not them. We ran across some French-speaking students. I’m sure they must have been from Beauxbatons – that’s another wizard school. As the forest started to get darker, we all had to light our wands – that’s when we realized Harry’s wand was missing. He couldn’t find it anywhere. We thought he must have dropped it while we were running.

That’s not good! Did he find it?

Yes, I’ll get to that. So he lost the wand. And then we ran across Winky.

Mr. Crouch’s elf?

Not anymore. But yes, at the time, Mr. Crouch’s elf. She was walking all funny, like someone’d put a spell on her to hold her back – she was trying to get away – Mr. Crouch must have jinxed her so she wouldn’t even be able to run without permission, and he knows she’s scared of heights! Seeing those Muggles in the air must have terrified her! Poor thing, I started getting really upset, and then Ron – here’s where I wonder about him, Gwen – told me "Well the elves are happy, aren’t they? You heard old Winky, back at the match, ‘house-elves is not supposed to have fun’ – that’s what she likes, being bossed around." I hardly think so! She’s been conditioned to think herself lowly, that’s all!

I said, "It’s people like you, Ron, who prop up rotten and unjust systems just because they’re too lazy to –" but I got cut off. There was a loud BANG! nearby, the noises of the drunken, laughing crowd were getting closer – Ron kept looking at me nervously and said, "Let’s just keep moving, shall we?" in an edgy sort of voice. Even though I was mad at him, I just followed him anyway. I didn’t want to be up in midair, getting contorted.

We got really deep into the woods. Oh, and this isn’t really part of the story, but we passed three of those veela creatures. A bunch of boys were standing around them, bragging, trying to show off. It was pathetic. Worse than pathetic. And the worst, most pathetic one of all was Ron. He ran over and said, "Did I tell you I’ve invented a broomstick that’ll reach Jupiter?"

Aha.

See what I mean? I had to pull him away. Harry helped. Those veela aren’t even real women, they’re just birds! They’ve got some kind of power over males, though, and it’s not just their being perfect-looking, either. It’s magic, it has to be. Or else Ron is more of an idiot than I thought.

No, veela are powerfully magical creatures, don’t worry, it’s a sort of Love Charm they exude. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. Love Potions were always my special gift.

Well I’ll tell you something, I don’t think Love Potions and Charms and things are very fair.

Not unless you’re the one who knows how to operate them.

Well, I’d never use one. Then how would you know if somebody’s feelings were even real?

Good point, although there are certain charms which – no. We’ll talk about this another time. Please, tell me what’s going on – I’m very worried – are you still at the campsite?

Yes, and things are much quieter, but listen, I’ve hardly finished. After the Veela, we saw Ludo Bagman, looking really tense, coming down into the woods. I don’t know where he was before that, and he didn’t seem to know what was going on. When we told him that there was a riot back at the campsite, he swore, then Disapparated. He’s obviously not a very good Ministry official, I don’t care how good he was at Quidditch. When he disappeared, we walked a little further, then sat down to wait. We hadn’t found Fred, George, and Ginny, and I was really scared for them – but more for those poor Muggles back there, up in the air. I said, "What if they can’t get them down?" and Ron said, "They will, they’ll find a way," which made me feel calmer, somehow.

And then the scariest thing happened. We heard a voice – a grown up man’s voice – from the thicket right next to where we were sitting – whoever it was said some kind of incantation, a spell, I wish I’d been listening properly, because I can’t remember it at all. And then, up in the sky, we saw what the incantation had produced.

A giant skull made out of emerald stars, with a serpent for a tongue. It was hovering, huge, above the forest, lighting up the woods with a sick sort of glow. And then, with one voice, everyone in the thickets sent up a scream of fright, and the running began, and the ground shook.

Lord Voldemort’s sign, isn’t it.

Yes. The Dark Mark. I read all about it in "The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts". Nobody’s seen it for thirteen years, and there it was. The panic it created was total - it can’t be described. And it had come from right next to us. I mean, just a couple of meters. The next thing we knew, we were surrounded by Ministry officials – they all Apparated with their wands out – we were terrified – Harry shouted "Duck!" and yanked us to the ground, and then we heard twenty voices yelling "STUPEFY!" and they all tried to stun us at once.

But you’re all so young! Surely they didn’t think you’d conjured-

Panic. Panic. They weren’t thinking. It was dark, too, they could hardly see us. And they didn’t care who had done it; they just wanted to wipe it out. I could feel the fear. Thank goodness Mr. Weasley recognized Ron after just a second, and made everybody stop. But even though they stopped shooting spells at us, Mr. Crouch looked like he still thought it was we who’d conjured the Dark Mark. He kept his wand right on Ron the whole time, and accused us of doing it outright.

What? Is he mad?

No, but he’s horrid. I can’t believe he impressed me earlier, all those languages he speaks – who cares about that? He’s a slave driver.

You mean, because of Winky?

Yes. You should have heard how they were all treating her.

Winky was there?

Yes. Sorry, I get mad and I leave things out. After they quit trying to Stupefy us, Mr. Diggory (Cedric’s dad, he was there) ran into the thicket to see if anyone had been hit in there. And there was somebody there. It was Winky. She had Harry’s wand, which made Harry look suspicious at first. But of course, he didn’t do anything wrong, we’d witnessed that – and once they’d decided that Harry Potter was the last person in the world likely to know any of Voldemort’s Dark magic incantations, they immediately turned their accusations to Winky- saying she’d used Harry’s wand to conjure the Dark Mark!

They thought the house-elf conjured the Dark Mark.

Yes, and Mr. Diggory kept calling her "Elf!" in a mean voice, and accusing her of violating some code that says that no non-human creature is permitted to carry or use a wand. Can you believe that? Not only were they persecuting her for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but she’s not even allowed to do magic, and I happen to know for a fact that house-elves can do magic, because Dobby used to do some for Harry! So why aren’t they allowed to exercise their natural gifts? That’s ridiculous! Don’t you think that’s ridiculous?

Well I –

And then Mr. Bagman came back, looking confused as ever, and Winky was pleading, promising she’d never conjured the Dark Mark, and I tried to back her up. I told them whoever’d done that incantation had a grown up voice – Harry and Ron supported me on that one – but Mr. Crouch wouldn’t listen! He took the wand, and did Priori Incantatem – you know, to see which spell was performed last? And it was the Dark Mark. A shadow of the skull that we could see in the sky came out the tip of the wand like a ghost.

And then Mr. Crouch sacked Winky.

I lost it. I yelled at him, "But she was frightened! Your elf’s scared of heights, and those wizards in masks were levitating people! You can’t blame her for wanting to get away!" But he sacked her anyway. He said he hasn’t any use for disobedient servants who don’t know what’s due to their master. Cruel. On the way back to the campsite I was talking to Mr. Weasley about it, saying that they way they’d treated Winky made it seem like she wasn’t even human! And then Ron said, "Well, she’s not." He’s such a – how can he – I don’t know what to feel about him!!!

I lost it again. "That doesn’t mean she hasn’t got feelings, Ron! I think it’s disgusting the way –" But Mr. Weasley wouldn’t let me finish, he said he agreed with me – HAH! – but that it wasn’t the time to discuss elf rights. So I kept as quiet as I could about it – I only got in one more little skirmish with Percy, who of course is siding with Mr. Crouch. But Gwen, poor Winky, what’ll she do now that Mr. Crouch doesn’t want her? She’s free, but she’s penniless now because she’s never had any compensation!

Mr. Crouch still thinks she did it?

I know he can’t think that, he’s not an idiot, and how would she know how to do it? Who would teach her? If she’s been living with Mr. Crouch, there’s no way she’s been exposed to Dark magic – Mr. Weasley says he’s one of the ones who fought hardest against the Death Eaters.

Death Eaters. I haven’t heard those words in a long time. Thirteen years since anyone’s talked about them. I... I didn’t think I’d ever hear about them coming back.

Yes, those hooded people, that’s what Mr. Weasley said they were. Death Eaters. They’re the old followers of Lord Voldemort, and he said they probably had a few drinks and couldn’t resist scaring everybody, showing us they’re still out there.

Why aren’t they in Azkaban?

Because they pretended that they’d been under Imperius Curses – that they’d never wanted to be with Voldemort – that they’d been under his power and acting against their will. But Mr. Weasley says that’s mostly rubbish, he says a lot of them are just cowards who didn’t want to fight Voldemort so they joined him, like Peter Pettigrew did. And now that he’s not in power, they don’t want to be in trouble for Dark magic they’ve done, so they pretend it wasn’t their fault. Yet they must actually enjoy being evil – look what they did to those Muggles!

And they enjoy frightening wizards – look at the Dark Mark.

No. They didn’t send it up – that’s the thing, when it went up in the air, the Death Eaters all ran for it, like they were terrified.... And that’s why I wonder.... Did the person who sent it up do it to show support for the Death Eaters, and applaud the Muggle torture? Or was it meant to frighten the masked wizards, to say that there was a real Voldemort supporter in their midst, and that the rest of them were just spineless cowards who’d turned on the Dark Lord when he lost power? Was it to champion them, or to threaten them? Nobody knows which one it is, not even Mr. Weasley, or Bill, or Charlie.

Everybody’s fine, Gwen. Bill and Charlie and Percy were all bleeding from fighting – but they’re fine. Ginny, Fred and George came back out of the forest as soon as the Ministry had gotten the Roberts family out of the sky – everybody seems to be bodily recovered.

It’s just the feeling. Everyone’s been completely unsettled by this – the whole wizarding community. The Dark Mark is what the Death Eaters used to put up over people’s houses once they’d killed the inhabitants. Mr. Weasley said that everyone lived in fear of coming home to find it up in the sky above their house, because it meant that their family lay slaughtered inside. There was a Dark Mark over the Potters’ house when their bodies were discovered, I’m sure.

Awful to think about, but I’m sure you’re right.

What does this mean, Gwen? Why did they do this?

Why do terrible things ever happen?

I don’t know.

Neither do I. But I hope it only means that someone wanted to cause a huge fright. After all, what better place to create a riot than the World Cup, when everyone’s together? It’s easiest to frighten people when they’re in a mob. They begin to think the same, and then...

Chaos. Yes, you’re probably right. Whoever did this is evil – evil enough to think it’s funny when other people are horrified, to want to take this opportunity to scare everybody all at once. And even though that’s sick, I hope it’s only that.

So do I.

I’ve got to go to bed. Mr. Weasley said he’d wake us up at dawn to take us home by early Portkey. I don’t want to stay here any later than I have to. It’s four thirty in the morning. I don’t think I’ll really be able to sleep – it’s hard with people outside crying and shouting – but I need to at least try.

Go to bed, Hermione. And for heaven’s sake, WRITE me when you get back to the Burrow – don’t make me tense.

Okay. Goodnight, Gwen.

 

HQoW

August 27

Hi, Gwen, everybody’s back at the Burrow, and we’re all fine.

Thank you.

We’re all fine for now, anyway. Who knows what’ll happen.

You mean, because of the Dark Mark?

Yes – Harry kept something from Ron and me because he didn’t want to scare us, or ruin our last week of holidays. His scar – you know, the one on his forehead where Voldemort hit him? Harry woke up out of a nightmare the other night, and the scar was hurting him really badly. The nightmare was all about Voldemort and Pettigrew – Wormtail. Harry thinks it might have been... more than a nightmare. He heard them plotting to kill somebody, and then he woke with a start and his scar was throbbing.

Has that happened to him before?

Yes, remember in first year, when he saw Voldemort in the forest, drinking the unicorn blood? The whole following week, until we were able to get through the enchantments and save the Stone, his scar was hurting him.

So the scar... signals when Voldemort is nearby?

I don’t know – it seems that way – but how could he be nearby? Last time Harry saw him, he was just a phantom in a diary! And Harry had that nightmare in Privet Drive, at the Dursleys’ house. I doubt Voldemort is out prowling around Muggle streets.

He’s done it before.

I suppose he has.... this is really scaring me, Gwen. And Harry’s convinced that "the Dark Lord will rise again."

He said that?

Well, he’s quoting. From a highly unreliable source, if you ask me. He believes it because Professor Trelawney predicted something about it last year.

You didn’t tell me that.

Well, honestly. Trelawney? It’s hardly worth the bother of repeating.

Do, though, please. This is important.

Ugh, all right. Harry says she went into a "real" trance, and started to go on about how the Dark Lord would come back to power "greater and more terrible than ever before." She does love to jump up the drama. She also "predicted" that Voldemort would be rejoined by his servant... Well, I suppose that part’s rather true – that is, if Wormtail really did go back to him, like Harry saw in the nightmare... But really, how difficult would it be to predict that? I mean, all those Death Eaters that never went to Azkaban – I’m sure one of them must’ve tried to rejoin Voldemort and bring him back at some point. Not much weight to anything Trelawney says, if you ask me.

Whether or not she was right, what is Harry going to do?

I told him he should tell Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, as soon as we get back to school. He refused. I told him we should check some reference books like "Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions" and see if there isn’t anything about curse scars. He said, "Go ahead. But as I’m the only one who’s ever survived that curse, I doubt it’s listed as common."

True. Not exactly your average affliction, that curse scar.

But what else was I supposed to suggest? Anyway, Harry already did the best possible thing. He wrote to Sirius. He’s just waiting for an answer. It’s been four days since he sent Hedwig with a letter, and we haven’t seen a reply yet. But Sirius could be hiding anywhere – Africa, or America or something – it might take a couple of weeks for Hedwig to track him down. I wish he’d write back soon. I’m worried – about Harry, and everybody else.

Gwen, you don’t think Voldemort will really rise again?

I don’t know. But I’ll be perfectly honest with you, if you think you can handle it.

I can.

I think it’s possible that the Dark Lord might return to power – such things have happened. And I think that he’ll do everything possible to make sure it happens. Just look what he’s done already – searching for the Elixir of Life, trying to make a victim out of Ginny Weasley – and clearly he still has a mass of supporters. He’s obviously quite determined to find a way back.

But.... But then what.... What’ll anybody do?

What people usually do in a terrible crisis – take sides, and fight. But Hermione, don’t dwell on it if you can help it, really. It hasn’t happened yet, and it’s just as likely that it won’t.

All right. I’ll... try not to dwell on it. There’s no point. Anyway, I have a thousand things to do. Mrs. Weasley picked up all our school things in Diagon Alley and I’ve yet to go through them. Oh – you should have seen Mrs. Weasley when we got back from the World Cup. She was so shaken – she’d read about the Dark Mark in the Daily Prophet, and it reminded her so much of when Voldemort was in power that she panicked. She was scared someone had been killed – one of us, maybe. The first thing I did when I walked in yesterday was to make her a very strong cup of tea. Poor Mrs. Weasley – how awful that she had to be here worrying, all by herself! She must have been terrified when she looked at the paper.

And it doesn’t help, by the way, that whoever wrote up the incident happened to include a lot of false rumors about bodies being dragged from the woods. Some writer named Rita Skeeter at the Daily Prophet did the reporting. She also said that the Ministry mismanaged security, and that Mr. Weasley made a very dissatisfying statement about the whole thing – and now he and Percy have to be in their offices pretty much all the time, to make up for the bad press. There were no bodies! Where did she come up with that? I should know, I was right there! And Mr. Weasley’s statement was just what it should have been, under the circumstances. Honestly, writers ought to tell the truth, especially news reporters, or else how will anyone ever know anything?

A very good question, one to which I’m sure many people would like an answer.

Yes, well. It’s just not fair. A lot of things aren’t fair lately. I’m going to go through our Care of Magical Creatures text and see if I can find anything about the history of house-elves. It’s only five days ‘til school, and I’ve hardly done a thing.

On the other hand, you’ve only five more days of holiday.

I’ve had enough holiday.

Oh, Hermione, at least take the book outside and read it in the sun for heaven’s sake!

Well... It’s awfully nice out, and all the boys are down playing Quidditch in the glen... I think Ginny’s down there, too... All right, Gwen. I’ll go outside and read.

What a good idea.

Oh, you just hush. See you soon.

 

(Ron Rants/Aug. 26)

 

HQoW

August 29

Gwen? .

What is it?

Why do I care about my looks?

Hmmm. What brings this on?

It’s just that Mrs. Weasley bought everything on my school list, and one of the things this year was dress robes. She bought them for all of us, I guess – we’re supposed to have them for formal occasions. She even got some for Ginny, though they’re not on the list of things to buy for the third years. But Mrs. Weasley said "Oh, who knows, dear, perhaps you’ll need them," and then she gave this little smile. Ginny and I are stumped. Why would she need them?

No idea. Have you ever seen anyone at Hogwarts wear them before?

I’ve never noticed, but I wasn’t looking, so I don’t know. Anyway, I’m not really concerned about why I’ll be wearing them. I just hope I get to, once. Mrs. Weasley lay them out on our beds and told us to try them on and she’d be right back. Ginny put hers on – they were very simple and white, and Mrs. Weasley came in and fussed over her awhile, tucking things in and making her hold out her arms to check the seams. Ginny looked so pretty – I know she doesn’t like her freckles, but they’re actually rather becoming on her – and her hair was so nice against the white. I told her so, but she rolled her eyes and said, "Sure," and told me to try mine on. So I waited for Mrs. Weasley to leave, and then I did, while Ginny changed back into her normal clothes.

And mine are.... beautiful. They’re made of a sort of floating...periwinkle... I put it on and Ginny said, "Oh, really – that’s lovely!" but I just rolled my eyes and said, "Sure," the same way she had. She laughed and went outside – I said I’d meet her out there – I wanted to be by myself a minute.

I felt so different. For the first time all summer, it didn’t really bother me to look in the mirror. I stood in front of it, and turned every which way, and I did the thing where I smile with my mouth shut so my teeth won’t ruin anything? And my hair was wet because I’d just showered, so I pulled it up...And I looked... well, not like a veela or anything, but... I don’t know.

Mrs. Weasley came back in, but I didn’t see her at first. It was kind of embarrassing, because there I was, smiling at myself in the mirror and trying to see which way I looked better, and she caught me.

Everybody’s done that; don’t be embarrassed.

I couldn’t help it. I dropped my hair and blushed and said, "Oh, I was just seeing –" But she bustled right over and said, "No, that’s right, the way you had it just then." She showed me how to twist my hair up in a knot so that it actually looks nice (and she told me if I want to keep it flat when it dries, I should use that hair potion I’ve had since first year.) And then she said, "Now step back and let me see you, dear," which is what she did to Ginny. She made me turn around so she could check the length of the robes, made me raise my arms up, and asked me if they felt tight or loose anywhere. But they didn’t.

Then she paused a second, smiled and said, "You’re a pretty girl, Hermione." Gwen, the way she said it, I... I could almost believe her. I was so surprised that I could hardly answer when she asked if I liked the color she’d chosen – I sort of stuttered, "It’s – oh, well it’s – beautiful – thank you so much for picking these out!"

"You’re welcome! I thought they would do well on you." And she looked at me for another second before briskly saying, "Now take them off and put them away properly – don’t get them wrinkled up in your trunk for heaven’s sake," and she bustled out.

Gwen? I really hope.... I hope there’s a reason to wear my dress robes this year. I’d like for.... people... to see me in them. I know if I really cared, I could always be like Parvati and Lavender, and get up an hour early to do my hair and put on lip-gloss and all that. But I just can’t see spending all that energy... although I kind of wish I... but no, Mum always taught me not to be so vain of myself, and I won’t get that way. It’s too much fuss and bother for every day. Anyway, isn’t a person’s inside supposed to count for something? I want to be liked for who I am. And then, once in awhile, if I happen to feel like making an effort, and I come out looking...

Pretty. You can say it.

Oh, never mind, Gwen. It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter.

I hope you get a chance to wear your robes.

Yes. Well, now I feel silly.

Don’t.

I’m going outside to find Crookshanks. I just want to run around a minute.

Do.

Thanks, Gwen, for listening. ‘Bye.

 

HQoW

August 31

We leave for Hogwarts in the morning! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Excited, Hermione?

Oh, Gwen, I’m so happy, I’m always happy to go back to school, to be in Gryffindor, to be in classes, to go to the library – the library. Gwen, I need to get my hands on some reference books. Do you know that house-elves aren’t even mentioned in our Care of Magical Creatures textbooks? Perhaps that’s because nobody cares about them.

What are you going to do? Why do you need the books?

I’m not going to do anything – I just want to find out a few facts, that’s all. I want to have a stronger argument than the one I’ve got, because I keep on yelling my opinion at people and I’ve got nothing to back it up.

You’ve been yelling at people?

Percy, mostly. He’s so hung up on Mr. Crouch that he won’t even see how awful it is for Winky to be mistreated like that! Back at the campsite, he said Winky had deserved to be fired, since she’d run amok with Harry’s wand – she didn’t run amok! She just picked it up off the ground! When I yelled that at him, he looked really surprised – I’ve always gotten along with him a lot better than everybody else does, because I don’t have a problem with people just because they happen to be prefect, or Head Boy, or because they study hard and get high marks. But none of that matters if he’s just going to go out in the world and promote injustice!

All of us were downstairs tonight, studying and things, when Percy and I got into it again. "Now look here, Hermione! A high ranking Ministry official like Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his servants –" but I cut him off and yelled, "His slave, you mean! Because he didn’t pay Winky, did he?" But nobody agrees with me, or if they do, they don’t say anything to back me up, and it’s extremely annoying.

I thought Mr. Weasley agreed with you.

Oh, well he does. But he’s too tired and irritable to get involved in the argument – I don’t blame him., either. He’s got enough to deal with without having to shut up our fights. Because of what Rita Skeeter wrote in the Daily Prophet about the lax security at the World Cup, the Ministry’s been bombarded by flaming Howlers all week. Everybody’s so scared about the Dark Mark that they’re taking it out on the Ministry. And now it’ll get worse, because Rita Skeeter found out about that woman who went missing – Bertha Jorkins – and Mr. Weasley says it’ll be front page of the Prophet in the morning. Why would a reporter want to cause trouble? I thought reporters were supposed to investigate things and make facts available.

Yes, and some of them do.

All of them should. The truth is, Gwen, even though I’m really excited to go to school tomorrow, a lot of things are weighing on my mind – Harry’s scar, what happened at the World Cup, the things in the paper, Winky....

Well, maybe school will help to take your mind off things.

Yes, that’s true. Studying always helps. I’ve been going through my fourth year spell book for Transfiguration, trying to get ahead. I’m not going to put it in my trunk, I’ll bring it in my bag on the train so I’ve something to do.

Oooh, the door just slammed upstairs, and I heard yelling. I think Ron’s had a row with his mum. I think she’s coming – hang on a minute.

***

Whew. Mrs. Weasley was not happy. She’s all pent up from this week, and Mr. Weasley working long hours, and now Ron’s given her a hard time about something or other. She came in here muttering something about boys – it sounded like something I would say – and she snapped, "I hope you girls, at least, have managed to get packed properly?"

Luckily, I’d just made Ginny finish, so we were both able to say, "Yes, of course we have!" and point to our trunks. We are now Mrs. Weasley’s favorite people in the house, and she’s gone to get us cocoa. I’m going upstairs a minute, I want to see what Ron did.

 

HQoW

Why won’t he tell me what happened? Harry wouldn’t, either! I went up and knocked, and Ron shouted, "Maybe I WILL go naked!" He was so loud, I jumped – plus which, I mean... what a thing to say. It took me a second to say anything back, but then I pushed the door open an inch and said really quietly, "It’s only me, Ron, your mum’s gone downstairs. I heard a lot of shouting from Ginny’s room – what happened?"

And he came over and SLAMMED the door right in my face! He could have caught my fingers, he didn’t even look! And then I heard a lot of scrambling around, and I heard Harry say, "Just stuff them in there, look, there’s room." And then I heard a trunk slam. And then Ron said, "Right. When we get to Hogwarts, I’ll burn them."

WHAT are they TALKING about? I’m absolutely dying to know. Whatever it was, they got in a lot of trouble with Mrs. Weasley for having it. Anyway, finally Ron came and opened the door, but he blocked it so I couldn’t come in, or see in. He looked extremely irritable.

"Yeah?"

"Well that’s nice! I just came up to –"

"We’re packing. What do you need?"

"What’s the matter with you?"

"Nothing."

"I hardly believe that. Harry, what’s the matter with him?"

I stood on my tiptoes to see over Ron’s shoulder, but Harry just shrugged and looked out the window at the rain. I tried to see around Ron, to find out what they were trying to hide, but he blocked me again, and shut the door except for a tiny crack, which he stood in.

"Look, I’m not trying to be mean, but go away."

"Hmph. You made your mum really mad."

"Go away."

"You should be nicer to her, she’s had a really hard week, with your dad at the Ministry all the time, and everything that happened at the World Cup!"

He gave me a blistering look after that, pushed me off my tiptoes, and shut the door. I heard Harry yell, "Goodnight!" and I yelled back "Goodnight, Harry."

What do you think they were hiding?

Oh, that’s a dangerous guessing game. You may not really want to know the answer. Just let them have a secret.

Not fair!

Why not? Don’t you have a secret or two with Ginny?

Not the same thing!

Exactly the same thing.

Gwen, stop being reasonable, I want to know what they’re up to. Oh, never mind, here’s Mrs. Weasley with cocoa, I’ll just ask her.

***

Oh, that’s all it is? How stupid.

What?

Oh, so now you want to know, do you? How about if I just have a secret?

All right. Goodnight, Hermione.

No, stop it, I want to tell you! Honestly. It’s just this – Ron doesn’t like his dress robes, and he says he won’t wear them. It made Mrs. Weasley upset, so they got in a row, and then he didn’t want me to see them, so he shut the door on my face when I came up. I mean, what’s the problem with that? He could have told me that, they’re just robes. Who cares if they’re second-hand?

Wouldn’t you care?

Well... I really love my robes, but I just can’t imagine Ron actually caring about anything like that.

Apparently he does.

That’s just weird. He’s never bothered with things like that. Anyway, just wanted to tell you what his problem was. I promised Ginny I’d only write a minute, because she wants to sit up and have a talk before we go to bed. She probably wants to tell me for the eighth time this week that she’s absolutely sure she’s definitely gotten over Harry. I’d laugh, except... I know how she feels.

She says hello, by the way, and she’s very sorry we didn’t get to come to Diagon Alley and have another chat at Miss Vauclain’s.

Oh, yes, I missed you. Perhaps next year. Tell Ginny hello, and wish her a wonderful year from me!

I will. Talk to you when I get to school! Goodnight.

 

(Ron Rants)

//
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