The Sugar Quill
Author: Manu (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: When Words Aren't Enough  Chapter: Chapter One: To Be a Good Friend
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Chapter One: To Be a Good Friend

"So, Harry, fancy a game of chess?"

Harry Potter looked up from his History of Magic essay to meet the freckled face of his best friend, Ron Weasley.

"What? Your game with Hermioneís already ended?" he asked surprised, seeing that it was hardly ten minutes since it had started.

Ron grinned. "Pretty much. For a smart girl, Hermione can be extremely stupid sometimes. Left her queen right it the path of my knight. And you know how my knight is, donít you?"

Hermione Granger, who has still sitting across from Ron, scowled. "I had to!"

"Oh, really?" Ron said and analyzed the board. "Yeah, I guess so. You had to sacrifice your queen, so you could spare yourÖ rook. Your logicís amazing."

"You know how attached I am to that rook!" she protested.

"Then you should just marry it," Ron retorted. "Iím sure itís a much better catch than Krum, anyway."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Why canít you leave me alone about him?"

"Because heís a stupid git!"

Harry heard Hermione start to give Ron a nasty reply, but decided to ignore both of them until the argument was over Ė which would probably take quite a while Ė and keep on doing his homework instead.

Ron had actually been ok about Viktor Krum in the end of fourth year, he had even asked for an autograph; Harry actually thought things would be all right between them. But good things donít last, and in the beginning of this year Hermione informed them she and Viktor were officially a couple, and ever since, Harry had to put up with her and Ronís bickering all over again. Every single week, Ron would go on and on about how Viktor was a git, and how what he was doing was-

"-child molesting, really!" Ron exclaimed, right when Harry decided that it wouldnít hurt to hear their argument, after all.

Hermione gave Ron and icy glare. "Shut up. You have no idea what youíre talking about."

Ron returned her look. "Oh, donít I? Would you care to explain me, then?"

"Viktorís a gentleman, ok? He would never, ever molest me. Heís far from it."

"Heís far, alright," Ron mumbled. "What kind of relationship do you plan on having with someone you can only see once or twice a year, anyway?"

Tap, tap, tap.

They all turned to where the noise was coming from and saw a brown owl tapping the window. Hermione stood up, shrieked, "She answered!" and hurried to the window to let the owl in.

"Who answered?" Harry asked curiously, while sitting down across from Ron, in the seat Hermione had been occupying just seconds before.

"Samira," she answered, while untying the letter from the owlís leg. "You know, Viktorís sister, who I became friends with in Bulgaria."

Harry simply answered, "Oh," and then asked Ron, "So, still willing to play chess?"

Ron grinned. "Iím always willing to beat you mercilessly, Harry."

Harry didnít argue, and instead said, "Well, I guess Iíll play with Hermioneís pieces, Iím too lazy to go and pick up my own."

"Ok, but just for the record, Hermioneís pieces are extremely afraid of mine. The last game was a massacre, wasnít it, Hermione?" he turned to their bushy-haired friend, who was currently reading Samiraís letter with a concentrated look on her face.

"I donít think she heard you," Harry said.

"Reckon the letterís really interesting," Ron answered, and then cracked his knuckles. "Alright, Harry, youíre white, you start."

Harry started to give orders to Hermioneís pieces, who gave him a "Hey, youíre not Hermione" look, but obeyed him nonetheless.

He and Ron had been playing for about five minutes when Ginny approached them and asked, with a concerned look, "Hey, do you know whatís gotten into Hermione?"

Both the boys looked up from the board at Ginny, and them at the couch Hermione was supposed to be - and wasnít.

"Where is she?" Harry asked.

"Yeah, what happened?" Ron added.

"I have no idea! I was coming into the common room at the same time she was storming out so I bumped into her, I was going to say sorry when I saw that she was already gone. It all happened so fast, Iím not even sure if it was really her; but since sheís not here, it probably was."

"Oh, well," said Ron standing up, "I guess Iíll go see whatís going on with her."

*

Hermione stormed into the girlsí bathroom and leaned on the wall beside the sink, crying softly, and cursing herself mentally for being so sensitive. She felt ashamed of herself for caring about something like that, but at the same time couldnít help doing so.

She slid down the wall and sat down on the floor, just when she heard a noise. Someone was coming in. The door creaked open and she caught a glimpse of the person. Ron.

He peeked slowly, glancing around carefully to make sure no one saw him looking inside a girlsí bathroom. "Hermione? Hermione, are you there?"

Ron looked down and noticed her sitting on the floor, her face buried in her knees. He gave one last glance behind him and entered quickly, closing the door behind him. "Whyíd you storm out like-" he stopped short as she looked up with her tear-strained face. "Oh."

Hermione wiped the tears with the sleeve of her robes and stared at him. "Ron, what on earth are you doing here? Youíve never ever followed me when I stormed out crying, so what possessed you to do it?" Her voice was unusually high.

He shrugged and said casually, "Iíve matured."

Hermione sent him an annoyed, skeptical look.

He raised his hands in mock defeat. "Ok, I had no idea you were crying."

"Fine," she said with impatience. "But I am, so get out."

"No," he said simply. Then, probably realizing he couldnít just say that, he added, "If I had known you were crying, I would never have followed you, because God knows how uncomfortable that makes me. But since I didnít know it and I did follow you, I canít leave now. That would make me look like an insensitive prat."

"You are an insensitive prat," she hissed.

But Ron didnít look offended. If anything, he looked amused. "Hey, hey, whatís with the hostility?" He ran a hand through his fiery hair, something he did very often. "I mean, I know youíre having a hard time and everything, but you donít need to take it all out on me, Iím pretty sure I still havenít messed up today."

Hermione turned angrier by the second. She glared at him and said fiercely; pronouncing every syllable slowly, "Go. Away."

"Sorry, Hermione," Ron said, "I know you want me to leave, and I really want to leave, but I canít. Now Iíve got to perform my duties as a friend."

"You are not the person to do that, call Ginny."

"Oh, no. I am your friend and Iíve got the right to stay here."

"No, you donít. This is a girlsí bathroom," she retorted.

Ron intently ignored Hermioneís remark, and sat down on the floor next to her. "So, since Iím not leaving, you might want to tell me whatís wrong."

"No, I donít. Itís stupid," she said.

Ron nodded. "I am absolutely sure it is."

"Oh, thanks a lot," she replied sarcastically.

"Anytime," he answered, intently ignoring her harshness. "Well, you can start to tell me now, because you know I wonít leave you alone Ďtil you do."

Hermione looked exasperated. "Honestly, Ron! Canít you get it through your thick skull that I donít want to talk about it??"

"Canít you get it through your thiĖ er Ė your skull that Iím not giving up?"

"Damn," said Hermione under her breath.

Ron heard it, since he was sitting just beside her, and gaped mockingly. "Did I hear correctly?? Miss Perfect Granger swearing?" He shook his head. "Iím extremely disappointed! What would McGonagall say if she was here right now?"

Hermione gave him an icy glare. "She would probably say youíve got a detention for being in a girlsí bathroom."

Ron smiled to himself as he noticed that she wasnít crying anymore. "Yeah, probably. I guess youíll have to tell me before she finds me here, then. You wouldnít want it to be your fault that I got a detention, would you?"

"My fault?? Youíre the one who wonít leave me alone!"

Ron rolled his eyes and looked at his watch. "Look, Iím starting to lose my patience here, can we do this soon? You are a very stubborn lady, did you know that?"

"Youíre way more stubborn than me."

"I am a strong willed person and proud of it."

"You, a Ďstrong willed personí?" Hermione laughed menacing. "Try Ďinsufferable gití!"

"Is there a reason why youíre so bitchy?" Ron said as Hermione finally started to get to him.

"Watch your language," Hermione said, in a would-be-casual voice.

Ron, starting to raise his voice, said, "Donít you dare tell me what to do, you bossy-"

He was cut off by Hermione, who suddenly blurted out, "Viktor broke up with me."

That caused him to drop all of his defenses. "What?"

Hermione wasnít looking at him. "You heard me."

"But he - why?" Ron looked dumbstruck.

She shrugged. "Apparently he fell in love with some girl."

They were silent for a second, neither of them really knowing what to say until Ron spoke, "Hermione Ė er Ė I didnít mean to yell at you."

She smiled slightly. "Itís ok."

"And alsoÖ" he continued uncertainly. "Well, I guess Iím not the best person to tell you this, because I hate the blokeís guts and under different circumstances I would be the first one to throw a party to celebrate him out of our lives, but IÖ I donít know, for some odd reason I understand what youíre feeling."

"And whyís that?" Hermione asked interested. "Were you hurt when Lavender dumped you?"

"Not really," he said nonchalantly, and then winced when he remembered the day Lavender broke up with him in the middle of the Great Hall. "My pride was, though."

"Were you ever depressed about a girl at all?"

"ErÖ No. Not really. Maybe I donít really understand what youíre feeling, after all," Ron said.

Hermione started playing with a lock of her hair and said softly, "No, no. You do understand, because Iím not crying about the break up."

Ron gave her an extremely confused look. "Youíre not?"

She shook her head. "I received the letter from Viktor telling me about the girl and breaking up with me three days ago."

"Three days?" He stared at her in indignation. "Three days and you didnít even mention it to us?"

Hermione stared back at him and Ron saw that, though she wasnít crying anymore, her eyes were still bloodshot. "Ron, please, not now. You can yell at me later."

"Ok, itís just that I thought-"

"I know," she interrupted, "Iím sorry I didnít tell you sooner."

Ron nodded. "So what is it youíre crying about, then?"

"I received an owl from Samira today." Hermione sighed and looked down. "She asked me if Viktor had told me about the girl - Ingrid, I think thatís her name. Anyway, Samira said she was the one who introduced Ingrid to Viktor, and about two weeks ago she caught both of them Ė you know Ė kissing, and then forced him to owl me and tell me everything. Viktor hadnít mentioned that part of the story to me in his letter."

Ron grabbed her arm to force her to look his way. "Wait a second there, Hermione. You mean the bastard was cheating on you?"

"Pretty much," she answered in a small voice.

"The son of a bitch!" Ronís face flushed with rage and his grip on Hermioneís arm tightened.

Hermione grimaced. "Ouch! Ron, my arm-"

He didnít seem to hear her, even though he let go of her arm and stood up, pacing around the room. "Oh, now I have to go over there and beat the crap out of him." His voice was lower, but the anger seemed to be rising.

Hermione noticed that his fists were clenching and she too stood up, following Ron with her eyes. "RonÖ"

"No, really, Iím going to kick his stupid Bulgarian arse so hard that he wonít be able to ride that damn broom of his ever again!"

His reaction was starting to scare Hermione. "Ron, calm down, Iím-"

"Calm down?? CALM DOWN??" he shouted.

"Ron! The noise - theyíre going to find you here-"

He stopped and turned towards her. "Hermione, the jerk thinks he can go around groping some bimbo while heís committed to you! I mean, how much of an asshole can he be??" Ron ran his fingers through his hair. "The fucking git can just go to hell, because no oneís willing to put up with his bullshit anymore." He sighed and fell silent.

Hermione, realizing he would finally let her talk, approached him cautiously and said softly, "Look, I appreciate you concern, and for once I wonít give you a lecture about the absurd amount of swear words you were able to pronounce in a minute, but, to me, the fact that he was kissing her is more disturbing than the fact that he was cheating on me."

Ronís look of anger was replaced by one of confusion. "Arenít kissing her and cheating on you the same thing?"

"Yes, but-" Hermione suddenly looked extremely self-aware. She shifted her weight from a foot to the other nervously, and then mumbled, "Heís never kissed me."

Ron gaped. "What?"

ďI donít know why on earth Iím telling you that,Ē she mumbled.

But he didnít pay attention, since he was still too busy being stunned. "But I thought - I mean Ė he was - you were dating!"

Hermione gave him a glare. "I know that." She sighed loudly, grabbed him by the arm and started to push him out the door. "Actually, you are not helping, ok? Youíre just making me feel even more like a freak. Now get out and forget I ever told you this."

That remark was enough to make Ron recover from his surprise. He released himself from Hermioneís grip and said in an assuring manner, "You are not a freak, ok? If anyoneís a freak, itís Krum."

She leaned against the wall and rubbed her temples. "I want to believe you so badly, Ron, but I just canít. For one thing, Viktor has no problem at all with kissing girls. Ingridís there to prove it. He kissed her the second time they met; I dated him for six months and he didnít even try." She looked like she was about to start crying again. "And also, how on earth can I believe you when you didnít even acknowledge me as a girl until last year?"

Ron looked helplessly at her. "Thatís because Iím a thick-headed moron! And Krumís another one."

Hermione started shaking her head slowly as tears started to run down her cheeks once more.

Ron was completely clueless and extremely uncomfortable. "Donít cry, Hermione, please. Maybe he never had the opportunity to do it?"

"Oh, please, thereís no such thing. You can create your opportunity, if you really want to," she managed to say, and angrily wiped the tears away.

"Maybe he cared too much about you?" he said tentatively and then grimaced, not believing what he had just said.

"Fat lot he cares. Dumping me for someone he only knows for a little more than a week, and shamelessly cheating on me in front of his sister. Yeah, you can just feel the love in the air," she said bitterly. "I've already analyzed this to death, Ron. The only explanation is something Iíve been trying to deny all my life: thereís something wrong with me."

By that point Ron was desperate. "Come on, Hermione, thatís ridiculous. Of course there isnít anything-"

"I knew you were going to say that. I think Iím ridiculous too." The tears were now sliding freely down her face, and she seemed to have given up on trying to wipe them. "Iím not supposed to care about stuff like that. I mean, I am Hermione Granger, the bookworm, the know-it-all, right? I donít even think about those things, no, Iím too busy studying for the O.W.L.'s or something. Thatís who I am, isnít it? But you know what? Iím sick of it! Iím smart, of course, but thatís not all I am! Iím also a teenager, and most of all, I am a girl. Why doesnít anybody see that?"

Ron didnít know what to answer, so he just stared worriedly at her.

Hermione looked sadly at him. "Yeah, thatís what I thought." There was an uncomfortable pause. "I just wanted to know what makes me so unkissable."

"You are not unkissable!!" he protested.

"Yeah, right." Hermione answered skeptically, her voice cracking.

Ron walked to her, grabbed her by the shoulders, and looked into her eyes as a way of assuring her of the veracity of his words. "Hermione, you are not unkissable, ok? In fact, you are extremely kissable. If bloody Krum canít see it, screw him. Itís not like he matters."

Hermione was avoiding his eyes, and Ron could see that she wasnít believing him. He sighed, and said softly, "What do I have to say to make you change your mind about this rubbish?"

"Nothing you say will change my mind, Ron."

Ron hesitated for a moment, and then, making up his mind, wiped her tears away with his thumb and said hoarsely, "All right, you asked for it."

And then he kissed her.

Hermione opened her eyes wide with shock, forgetting for a moment what she was crying about, forgetting for a moment about everything. Then she relaxed, closed her eyes softly and started to slowly kiss him back.

Ron put his hands around her waist, pulling her closer to him and kissing her harder, as Hermione started to unconsciously stroke his hair.

They could have gone on like that for a long time if Ron hadnít suddenly tensed as though he had finally realized what he was doing and let go of Hermione abruptly.

"I Ė er Ė have to go," he mumbled, avoiding her gaze. "Iím inside a Ė you know Ė girlsí bathroom, and Iím Ė hum Ė not one." Then he turned to the door and left, shaking his head.

Hermione slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor and stared at the door Ron had just gone through. She took a deep breath and brought a finger to her lips, trying (and failing) to deal not only with the fact that her best friend had just snogged her inside a girlsí bathroom, but, worst of all, she had enjoyed it.

 

//
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