Disclaimer: This wonderful world belongs to J.K. Rowling – I just like
to play in it.
A/N: Many, many thanks to my wonderful beta-reader, Arabella.
“Just don’t leave me alone with her, all right?”
Ron Weasley said to his best friend, Harry Potter. “I can’t answer to
anyone when we’re alone together. I might start screaming at her, or
saying horrible things, or...”
“Or what, Ron?” Harry asked. Ron looked over
at him suspiciously, but Harry’s face looked perfectly serious.
“I don’t know what,” Ron said. “Just don’t
leave me alone with her.”
The ‘her’ they were talking about was Hermione Granger, their other best
friend. The problem was, every time Ron saw her, he felt so strange that
he had to do something, and unfortunately that something was usually teasing
her unmercifully, sniping at her, or saying things deliberately to make
her mad. He wasn’t sure why he did these things - she was just Hermione,
after all, just their friend, not someone to...well, not someone who should
be getting to him like this.
Ron and Harry were on the Hogwarts Express, waiting
for everyone else to board so they could get started on their sixth year
at school. Hermione was a prefect now, and took her duties very seriously.
And this year, her sister, Gemma, was starting Hogwarts, too. Hermione
had said that she would bring Gemma to meet Ron and Harry after she finished
settling down the rest of the first years.
“What’s taking her so bloody long?” Ron said.
“If that git, Malfoy, has been bothering her again-”
But just then, Hermione came into the compartment with her sister. Harry
and Ron stood up. Gemma had Hermione’s bushy hair, though hers was lighter
than her sister’s, and the same brown eyes.
“Ron, Harry,” Hermione said, smiling at them. “This is Gemma.”
Harry smiled back and said, “Nice to meet you,
Gemma,” but before Ron could say anything, Gemma calmly walked up to him
and punched him in the stomach.
“Gemma!” Hermione said, grabbing her sister’s arm. Gemma looked like
she was about to do it again.
“Whaddya do that for?” Ron managed to gasp out.
The little prat was strong!
Gemma shook off Hermione, put her hands on her
hips, and glared at Ron.
“That’s for making my sister miserable for the
past two years!” she said.
Ron straightened up at that, his shock making
him forget his pain. He looked over at Hermione, but she just stared,
seemingly amazed, at her sister.
“Now,” Gemma said, shaking her finger at Ron.
“You’d better just do something about this, because I’ve had it, and I’m
sure Hermione has, too. So if you don’t want me to beat some sense into
you...” She looked like she was planning on doing it right there and then.
“Um...Gemma, maybe I’d better take you someplace
else,” Hermione said. Ron tried to catch her eye, to see what she thought
of her little sister engaging in such gratuitous violence, but she didn’t
look at him.
“I’ll do it, Hermione,” Harry said, smiling
down at Gemma. “I think we have a lot to talk about. And so do you and
Ron.” He escaped out into the corridor, dragging Gemma with him, which
was a good thing, because Ron almost went for him, best friend or not.
“What was all that about?” he said, turning to Hermione, ready to laugh
it off as usual. But then he saw that she had tears in her eyes.
“Hermione! What’s wrong? I...I don’t really
make you miserable, do I? I mean, how could I do that?”
Hermione sank down onto a seat, keeping her
face turned away from him.
“By teasing me, and picking at me, and never
letting up,” she said.
“But, Hermione, I would never want to make you
miserable. I say those things because...because...” Ron just couldn’t
say it. He sat down next to her and put his head in his hands.
“Because why, Ron?” Hermione said, turning suddenly
towards him. “Why would one of my best friends enjoy making me feel like
I’m crabby, and naggy, and stupid, and ugly?”
She looked like she wanted to take
that back as soon as she said it, but then she bit her lip and stared
at him, waiting for an answer.
Ron didn’t have one. “I don’t make you feel
that way, do I?” he said.
Hermione just nodded, not taking her eyes off
“But...but Harry teases you, too, and it doesn’t
make you feel this way.”
“It’s different when you do it, Ron. I...it
“It is? But...” Ron trailed off. He thought
about what she said, trying not to put the most positive spin on it.
This is Hermione, he thought. She could have anyone - she could have
Viktor Krum, for crying out loud. She wouldn’t want...he risked another
look at her. She was still staring at him, but her eyes were filled with
“I don’t want you to be unhappy, Hermione,”
he said, trying to feel his way through this. “I’ll do anything to make
it up to you.”
“Anything?” she said. There. At least he’d made her smile.
“Yeah, anything except spend even more time
studying in the library - I had enough of that last year with the O.W.L.s.”
Hermione gave a slightly watery giggle. She
looked up into his face, with a look in her eyes that made Ron catch his
breath. Then she reached up and softly brushed aside a lock of his hair
that had fallen onto his face when he looked down at her. Ron couldn’t
help it. He didn’t want to make her more unhappy, but he just couldn’t
help it. He leaned down and kissed her.
He had expected her to pull back, but instead she leaned into him, putting
her arms around his neck. Her mouth came open under his, and his last
thought, before he gave himself up to the kiss, was that if it had been
Viktor Krum who taught her to kiss like this, he was just going to have
to kill the bastard.