The Sugar Quill
Author: Manu (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: When Words Aren't Enough  Chapter: Chapter Two: Of Lonely Pawns and Quidditch Accidents
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 Two: Of Lonely Pawns and Quidditch Accidents

***

A/N: Fell free to skip all this and go straight to the story, since this author’s note is pretty much pointless and way too long… Anyway, here’s chapter two of WWAE! I know, it’s been eight months. But my muse and I have a very messy love-hate relationship. When I posted chapter one, I was planning on continuing it, but I got a terrible aaargh-why-can’t-I-write-just-one-blasted-worthy-line, oh-my-god-just-make-the-roof-fall-on-my-head-and-let-me-out-this-misery case of writer’s block. Believe me, it’s not nice. So, after a lot of frustrated attempts to write something half-worth reading, I gave up. It wasn’t as if I’d said I’d continue it. But when my muse came back (after five months! The little… *aham*), I picked up this story again, wrote a little bit of it, and then came writer’s block once more. And I’m already naturally slow and lazy, so… you do the math. But that’s not important, the important thing is that, after a lot of suffering from the author, it’s here! And it has POVs! Right. So I’ll let you read it, but first I wanted to thank Courtney, for being such a good friend, helping me with this and encouraging me to write (where’s your new chapter, girl?), and Elanor Gamgee, who’s just lovely.

 

***

Ron reached the portrait hole in seconds, but stopped just before giving the password to the Fat Lady and leaned (more like threw himself) against the wall.

So he had just kissed Hermione. Very, very stupid thing to do. He was sure that he had had a reason to do that, but couldn’t even remember it anymore. What he knew was that he had done it, and now he had to face the consequences, not run away.

Well, he hadn’t really run away. He had walked away. Walked very fast, true, but still only walked. He sighed miserably. Yeah, like it made any difference.

Maybe he could just pretend it never happened.

“You need the password if you’re going to come in,” said the Fat Lady impatiently.

Ron looked up at her, just realizing her presence. He didn’t know if he was going to go in. It wasn’t as though he wanted to give Harry a full report on what had just happened, especially when he himself still didn’t know for sure. But then, it wasn’t such a big problem, as Harry would never press Ron to tell him anything, and, even if he did, Ron knew how to dodge his questions. The only ones who could always make Ron tell them anything were the twins and, of course, Ginny.

Ginny. Crap.

He knew his sister. She would never miss the chance of being alone with Harry when she had the perfect excuse. He could even see it: No, Harry, I’ll stay here with you. Hermione is my friend too, you know. Want to play some chess while we wait for them to come back? Typical.

And it wasn’t exactly his idea of fun to fumble around for an answer to Ginny’s questions, which never left room for his usual vague replies.

Even so, he couldn’t just stay outside the common room all night. He would get a detention, not to mention that Hermione would have to come inside sooner or later. Honestly, if there was anything worse than facing Ginny and Harry right now, it was facing her.

Actually, he had no idea how he was going to be able to face her ever again.

“Uh, dear, can you hear me? The password,” said the Fat Lady, whose existence Ron had once again forgotten.

“I don’t care about the stupid password!”

“Excuse me?” said the portrait, looking shocked by his outburst.

He took a deep breath. “You know, up to yesterday, I thought my decisions wouldn’t get much dumber than asking Fleur to the ball or flying Dad’s Ford Anglia... Hell, was I wrong. My stupidity has risen to a whole new level.”

The Fat Lady blinked. “Er – Are you all right?”

Ron gave a wry laugh. All right? If her definition of all right was ‘wanting to kick yourself and getting annoyed at a painting for asking if you’re all right’, then yes, he was very much all right.

“Do I look all right to you?” he answered, not sounding as snappish as he felt, but definitely more so than he intended to sound.

The Fat Lady looked ruffled. “I was just trying to help!”

“Do you have a time turner on you?”

“Of course not!”

“Then you can’t help me, ok? Mushroom tea.”

The portrait opened reluctantly, still sending him dirty looks.

As he entered the common room, he could see Harry and Ginny playing chess by the fire, where he had left them. Harry seemed to be examining one of the bishops he had taken from Ginny, looking very bored indeed, like he had been waiting for her to make her move for about a century. She had only the king and a pawn left, but still seemed to be fighting bravely.

That was the essence of Ginny, in fact. Never gave up on a game. Even if the opponent was heavily armed with a pretty face and the Ravenclaw Seeker position and she had nothing to defend herself with.

Ron watched Harry and Ginny play chess together with mixed emotions. She could now have a normal conversation with Harry without blushing, but Ron knew that her crush was far from gone. He wanted his sister to be happy, he really did. But then, at the same time, he couldn’t help feeling somehow relieved that her infatuation with Harry was unrequited. Really, why his best friend? Couldn’t she fall in love with someone safe, like… like Neville? Or even better, not fall in love at all? That’d be great.

“Hey, Ron!” It was Harry, calling him over. Ginny didn’t look up from the chessboard.

Ron walked over to them, although he really, really didn’t want to. “Hi, Harry.”

“Didn’t find her?” asked Harry.

It was the first thing out of his mouth. The bloody first thing out of his mouth, and it was about Hermione. Couldn’t Harry just... talk about the weather or something before bringing her up? Ron ran a hand through his hair. Well, no point in lying, was there? “I did, actually,” he said, turning to Ginny before Harry could make any further inquiries. “Hey, don’t you greet your brother anymore, Virginia?”

“Shut up, Ron, I’m busy,” she snapped without taking her eyes off the board.

“Busy? Oh, I see, it takes a lot of concentration to play that well,” he snapped back, eyeing her lonely pawn pointedly.

Ginny glared at Ron and then, still glaring, moved her king a spot. “Your turn, Harry,” she said evenly.

Harry sat up straight in his chair, pushed his glasses further up his nose and murmured, mostly to himself, looking the board over, “OK then… Can’t take any of your pieces…” he glanced up at Ginny, grinned, and added a little slyly, “Too bad, I was enjoying that.” Ginny glowed; Ron felt sick.

Harry looked back at the game and moved his knight a spot, just as Ron eyed the board, realizing what his friend was doing.

“No!!” he exclaimed. “Harry, you prat, that way you’re going to leave your-”

“Checkmate.”

“-king unprotected!”

Harry looked from Ron’s exasperated expression to Ginny’s smug smile, flabbergasted. “Wha-? How did you do that??”

“What were you saying about my playing again, Ron?” said Ginny in a very slick tone.

“Oh, please, Ginny, you only won because Harry is stupid,” Ron replied, knowing that that wasn’t completely true. He turned to his black-haired friend. “Honestly, you got your king checkmated by a pawn! A pawn, Harry!”

Harry murmured a lot of things, but none of them were distinguishable. Ron understood his friend. Not that he had ever lost a game of chess to Ginny, but his sister’s radiant I-won-you-lost smile was enough to drive anyone up the wall. He just hoped that her ability to turn the game around was restricted to chess and chess alone.

Ginny then turned on her chair to look at Ron. “Well, you shall now have my full attention, dear brother of mine. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Ron froze. It most certainly was not what he wanted. He never in his right mind would want it, because when Ginny was in her full attention mode, she was very attentive. Too attentive.

“So… Didn’t you say you had found Hermione? Where is she?”

“She’s probably still in the bathroom,” Ron answered, looking intently at his hands, getting ready for the third degree. “That’s where I found her.”

“Was she ok?” Harry asked, standing up and starting to put the chess pieces in their box.

“Uh… Not really. She was crying.”

“What’s bothering her?” Ginny asked softly, standing up too, to help Harry.

“She was upset…” said Ron, not looking up from his hands for fear that his expression would betray him; hiding emotions was never his forte.

“Yes…” said Ginny gently, as if she was trying to encourage him to elaborate. “We’ve pretty much established that, but could you - Ron! Your ears are so red!” she reached for his right ear, but he pushed her hand away immediately. “What’s the matter?”

“Leave my ears alone, Ginny.”

Ginny gave him a weird look while Harry, who was looking very much like he didn’t want to be included in the conversation, stepped sheepishly between the two Weasleys and handed Ron the box, which he had just closed. “Here, Ron, your chess pieces.”

Ron took the box from him and twirled it around in his hands, staring at it. The game with Hermione seemed like an eternity ago. It was almost like another era. The I-can-face-Hermione era. In the present one, he just wanted to disappear from the common room before she showed up.

“I’m going to bed,” he announced, taking the fact that they had stopped asking questions as an opportunity to leave.

“Don’t you want to wait for Hermione to-” Ginny started.

“I’m very tired, you know.”

Harry was the one giving him a weird look now. “Goodnight, then.”

“Yeah, ‘night,” said Ginny.

Ron had just turned to go away, but could hear Harry saying, “Well, Ginny, could you put Hermione’s pieces in her room when you go to bed?”

“Sure,” Ginny answered, “but I hardly think that’s going to be necessary. Look.”

Ron did, and regretted it instantly. Hermione was standing by the entrance of the common room, looking intently at something on the other side of the room.

Oh, damn, *so* close, he thought, glancing nervously her way. Harry and Ginny turned to him with identical looks on their faces, their eyes clearly saying, “What? Decided to stay?” Ron was just barely aware of this; Hermione was the last person he wanted to see in that moment and yet, ironically enough, he now found himself utterly unable to look away from her.

She was staring fixedly at a group of first years with her arms crossed tightly over her chest, but Ron was sure that she wasn’t interested at all in the eleven-year-olds; he knew her like the back of his hand and it wasn’t really that hard to see, whether by the way she was biting her lower lip or by her ragged breath, that she was trying to gather enough courage to come inside and face him. She looked small, scared and incredibly lost.

Not that he was sensitive enough to perceive those things. Maybe he had just assumed that her feelings would mirror his own.

Then a very loud sound that almost made his head explode came from his right, “Hermione!”

“I told you to leave my ears alone, Ginny,” he hissed to his sister. “Stop yelling.”

Ginny ignored Ron’s comment completely and continued shouting for Hermione, who hesitated a little and then turned her head in their direction.

Ron discovered that, in a case of emergency, looking away was actually quite easy.

Hermione walked towards them and said awkwardly, “Hi Ginny, hi… everybody.”

“Oh my God, you look like a mess,” said Ginny, hugging Hermione promptly.

“Um… You all right?” said Harry to Hermione after Ginny had let her go.

“Yeah… Sort of, I’m not sure.”

“What happened?” said Ginny a little too fast, as if she had been itching to ask that question for ages. Maybe she had.

Hermione glanced uneasily at Ron, just to look back at her hands quickly upon realizing that he had been looking back at her. “Can we not talk about this right now?” she said very quietly. “I have some things to sort out.”

Ron turned his gaze to the ceiling. This was torture. He quite expected Ginny to ask something along the lines of “What things?”, but she apparently saved the embarrassing and importunate questions for him, since she only mumbled “Yes, of course,” and fell silent.

All four of them stood there in silence, and, after a few uncomfortable moments, Ron said a little hesitantly, “I was just going to bed.”

He could hardly make out his sister saying “Ron, wait-” as climbed up the stairs to his dormitory quickly, without looking back.

***

Hermione stared at the fire the next day, wondering if she should say something.

It was eight o’clock in the evening and Harry was in Quidditch practice. George, after having been named Captain, started to come up with some pretty unusual tactics, and one of them was to practice during the nighttime.

According to him, anyone who could play in the dark could play even better with light. Everyone knew he was only doing that because he didn’t want to wake up early, though. Harry said that he was already accustomed to the dark because of the practices he had when Oliver was captain, which were before the sunrise.

So, Harry had gone to practice, and she and Ron were sitting at a table in the common room, neither of them talking nor looking at each other, but both painfully aware of the other’s presence.

The uneasiness between then had been bad enough during breakfast, but Harry had made it even worse by mentioning the Yule Ball. Not that he had actually mentioned it, although it was close enough. He had asked what was wrong with them. Ron had laughed nervously and asked where he had gotten the idea that something was wrong, and Harry had started saying “Well, it’s just like the day after the-”, thought better about it and stopped himself with an embarrassed “Never mind.” Of course, they all knew exactly what he was talking about.

During lunch, Ginny had approached them and asked Hermione if she had already ‘sorted things out’. Hermione had answered “Not really”, which was the absolute truth. The shock had worn off a little and her thoughts now made some sense, but it was still hard to believe it had actually happened and ever harder to get a word out around Ron. Besides, she didn’t want to tell Ginny anything without his permission. How she was ever going to be able to ask for it without speaking to him remained a mystery.

She glanced at her watch. It had been thirty minutes since Harry had gone to practice, which meant thirty minutes since she and Ron had been there in silence. Well, not in complete silence. About thirty minutes ago, Ron had mumbled something that sounded very much like “This is ridiculous” to himself, obviously referring to their current situation. That was all. In half an hour. He normally wouldn’t be able to spend so much as a couple minutes with his mouth shut.

Hermione would never have guessed that she’d miss Ron’s talkativeness, but there she was.

“Harry’s right, you know,” she said softly.

Ron turned to her, looking startled by the sound of her voice. “What?”

Hermione took a deep breath. Well, she wouldn’t back down now that she had managed to get the first words out. “Harry’s right. This is exactly like the day after the Yule Ball.”

She was almost sure that Ron winced slightly at her mention of the ball. “Maybe,” he said weakly, after a few moments.

Hermione watched him turn back to the fire and then came to the conclusion that Harry was wrong. This was much worse than the day after the Yule Ball. At least then, they had had a fight. They could say that the discomfort was because they were angry at each other or something. Now, the only explanation for the uneasiness was that they were angry with themselves. She knew Ron was. He quite obviously regretted having kissed her. She wasn’t sure why that hurt so much. After all, she too regretted that kiss. Didn’t she?

Don’t be silly, she reprehended herself, of course you do.

Of course she did.

“Hermione?” came Ron’s voice.

“Yes?”

“Could we not make a big deal out of this?” he said, voice quivering.

Hermione decided it was wiser not to point it out to Ron that they already were making a big deal out of the situation. And anyway, how could they not? It was a big deal. Didn’t he realize that?

“It was my first kiss, Ron.”

By the look on his face, Ron got her point. He looked down at his hands and said softly, “I know. I just- I’m sorry that I ruined that for you.”

“I never said you ruined it.”

Ron looked up at her with a shocked expression on his face, and Hermione cringed, realizing the full implications of her words. Where on earth had they come from, anyway?

“But, er- you did,” she finished lamely, looking back at the fireplace and hoping she wasn’t too red. “Of course.”

That was when the portrait hole opened and the entire Quidditch team, save Harry, stormed in.

“That’s not the point, Fred!” Angelina was yelling, and Hermione winced. They were right beside her and Ron, and Angelina’s shout had left her ears ringing.

“I don’t know what the problem is, he’ll be all right, won’t he?? We didn’t hurt him!!” Fred yelled back.

“And it’s not like it was our fault!” amended George.

“Yeah! He wasn’t hurt!!” repeated Fred.

Angelina gave them a look of contempt and climbed the stairs to her dormitory. All the team left too, except Alicia.

“Are we still going to have practice tomorrow?” she asked.

“Of course,” said George.

“Look, Alicia, tell Angelina that he wasn’t hurt!!” Fred broke in.

“I think you’ve already told her that a couple of times,” said Alicia in an amused voice, and went after Angelina.

George snorted. Fred glared at him.

“Sorry. It’s just… A couple of times… You have to admit, that was the understatement of the century!” said George, laughing.

“What are you doing here?” said Ron.

“Oh my God, a bunch of Gryffindors just invaded the Gryffindor common room,” said Fred.

“Who’s the incompetent twit who let that happen?” added George.

“Shouldn’t you be in practice?” said Hermione, starting to turn back to her natural color.

“Oh, that,” said George. “I had to call it off. You see, everyone was playing very poorly, so I made them have some of our lucky Canary Creams.”

“Yeah, and Harry started making a fuss only because he didn’t turn back,” said Fred. “I told him the feathers looked dashing on him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Well, lilac is definitely not his color.”

“Definitely,” agreed Fred.

“Wait,” said Ron. “You two turned Harry into a great purple bird?”

“Of course not, Ron,” said Fred. “We turned him into a great lilac bird. Jeez.”

“Anyway, he’s in the Hospital Wing right now and everyone started yelling at us because we think it’s funny,” said George.

Fred scowled. “Correction: Angelina started yelling and the others went along with her.”

“She’s a great mass leader, you know,” said George.

“It’s a wonder she didn’t get the Captain position, she’s way better than you, George,” said Fred.

“It’s a wonder she hasn’t dumped you yet, Fred. She’s way better than you,” retorted George.

Hermione liked the twins very much, but they weren’t helping her already irritable mood at that moment.

“Oh, you’re right!” said Fred dramatically. “I don’t know why she’s with me! I’m so horrendously ugly that-“

“Don’t you dare insult your appearance! You’re a great-looking bloke, Fred!” said George.

“Oh, you’re so kind and selfless, George,” said Fred.

“I know,” answered George.

“Right, so I guess I’ll just burst inside the girl’s dorm, serenade Angelina and beg for her forgiveness now,” said Fred, turning and going up the stairs.

“I’ll go watch. You two want to come?” said George.

“No,” said Ron shortly, sounding as annoyed at the world as Hermione felt.

“Me neither, but thanks for asking,” said Hermione.

George shrugged and ran up the staircase, shouting, “Don’t start without me!”

Hermione glanced at Ron, at the same time he glanced at her. They both looked down quickly at their hands, and Hermione fought the urge to sigh, wishing more than anything that she had accepted George’s offer.

TBC – If my muse is nice…

//
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 --