"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
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
"-child molesting, really!" Ron exclaimed,
right when Harry decided that it wouldnít hurt to hear their argument,
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
"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
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
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
She shook her head. "I received the letter from
Viktor telling me about the girl and breaking up with me three days
"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,
"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
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
But he didnít pay attention, since he was still too
busy being stunned. "But I thought - I mean Ė he was - you were
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
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
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
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
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.