The Sugar Quill
Author: Elanor Gamgee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione's Fourth Year  Chapter: Chapter Two: Toast for Two
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Part 2: Toast for Two

The next morning, Hermione waited in the common room for a bit. When she saw no signs of Ron or Harry, she decided to head down the Great Hall alone. She hoped she would find them laughing and talking at then Gryffindor table as if the night before had not happened, but when she entered the Hall, she didn’t see Harry anywhere. Ron was sitting with Fred, George, and Lee Jordan, discussing England’s chances for the next World Quidditch Cup.

Hermione slipped into a seat across from Ron. "Good morning," she said as she poured pumpkin juice into her goblet. "Where’s Harry?" she asked, in what she hoped was an offhand sort of voice.

Ron looked up from his eggs and gave her a glare. He opened his mouth as if he was about to say something, then seemed to decide that she was a lost cause. He turned to George pointedly. "If they keep Maynard on as Keeper, they might have a chance," he said loudly, clearly telling Hermione that any conversation having to do with Harry was closed. "He doesn’t have a whole lot of flashy moves, but he’s a good, solid player."

George raised an eyebrow at Hermione, then she saw him exchange a look with his twin that told her they had decided to stay out of it. Hermione ate her breakfast in silence as the boys chattered on about Quidditch. It still amazed her that, whenever they started going on about Quidditch fouls, she felt like they were speaking another language. She understand the basics of the game, of course, but it always astounded her that anyone would spend so much time on something so trivial, when there were so many useful things out there to learn.

Hermione decided to take some toast up to Harry. If Ron had acted like this with him last night, it was no wonder he hadn’t come down to breakfast. Hermione stood up; she didn’t look at Ron but could feel him watching her as she wrapped several pieces of toast in a napkin.

"See you later then," she said breezily.

"That was quick," said George.

"Don’t tell me you’re running off to study! It’s a Sunday!" said Fred.

Hermione just smiled uncomfortably and waved as she made her way to the doors. She was still avoiding Ron’s eyes, but she still felt his eyes on her all the way to the Entrance Hall.

As she made her way back to Gryffindor Tower, Hermione thought about her two best friends. She knew Ron had been angry last night—in fact, she’d rarely seen him that angry, not even at her. But she was a little surprised that he would hold such a grudge against Harry. She knew that Ron thought Harry had everything, and that he was too caught up in his own jealousy to realize that Harry thought the same thing about him. But she also saw, more than Harry did, how people stopped paying attention to Ron the minute Harry walked into the room. Oh, Harry didn’t ask for it, of course…but maybe that just made it worse.

With a start, Hermione realized that she was at the Fat Lady already. "Balder—," she started to say, but then the portrait swung open from the inside and she found herself face to face with Harry.

She held up the stack of toast, which was starting to crumble into the napkin. "Hello," she said, trying to sound cheerful. "I brought you this…want to go for a walk?"

Harry looked grateful as he took the toast from her. "Good idea." Hermione could see the Creevey brothers through the portrait hole, watching Harry as if hoping he would come back in and sit with them.

They went downstairs quickly. Harry seemed keen to avoid looking at the Great Hall, but Hermione sneaked a peek as they passed. She could see Ron, still sitting at the Gryffindor table with his brothers. His back was to the door, so he did not see Hermione or Harry.

Hermione and Harry slipped outside and headed toward the lake. Harry handed Hermione a piece of the toast, and she munched it in silence, more because it was something to do than because she was still hungry. It was cold out, and they kept walking to keep warm.

Harry finally broke the silence. "You want to know what happened, don’t you?" Hermione nodded mutely. Harry sighed. When he spoke again, however, the words seemed to tumble out as if he had been waiting a very long time to say them. "Well, when I first went in that room, they all thought I was a messenger or something. Then Ludo Bagman came in and told them what had happened, but they all thought he was joking. Dumbledore and the other teachers came in and then Karkaroff and Madame Maxime accused Dumbledore of cheating. Oh, you should have heard Snape—‘It’s all Potter’s fault, he’s been crossing lines ever since he arrived’. Then Dumbledore asked me if I put my name in the goblet, and I told him no, and no one believed me, of course, except maybe Dumbledore. Mr. Crouch said I’d have to compete, because that’s the rule, and that got Karkaroff all upset. Then Professor Moody came in and said…" Here Harry faltered for a moment, and swallowed hard. "He said… that someone must have put my name in the goblet, hoping I would get killed competing in the tournament." He paused again. "So it looks like I’m competing. And no one’s happy about it, especially not me."

"Oh, Harry, this is bad…" said Hermione in a worried tone.

"What, so you believe that I didn’t put my name in the goblet?

Hermione gaped at him. "Well, of course I knew you hadn’t entered yourself. The look on your face when Dumbledore read out your name! But the question is, who did put it in?…" Hermione could feel herself starting to babble, but she wanted to keep him focused on the question of the goblet, because she knew any minute he would ask her about—

"Have you seen Ron?" Harry interrupted suddenly.

Hermione felt herself wince. "Erm…yes…he was at breakfast." She decided not to tell Harry about Ron storming out of the Hall last night; it would only make him feel worse.

"Does he still think I entered myself?"

Hermione hesitated again. She didn’t quite know what to say. "Well…no, I don’t think so…not really."

Harry turned to her angrily. "What’s that supposed to mean, not really?"

Hermione couldn’t believe that Harry could be so blind. "Oh, Harry, isn’t it obvious?" she said in exasperation. "He’s jealous!"

Harry stared at her as if she had just told him that Snape was her favorite teacher. "Jealous?" he exclaimed. "Jealous of what? He wants to make a prat of himself in front of the whole school, does he?"

Hermione sighed and resigned herself to explaining this to him. "Look, it’s always you who gets all the attention, you know it is." Harry opened his mouth as if ready to object, but Hermione cut him off, determined to get her point out before he could interrupt. "I know you don’t ask for it…but—well—you know, Ron’s got all those brothers to compete with at home, and you’re his best friend, and you’re really famous—he’s always shunted to one side whenever people see you, and he puts up with it, and he never mentions it, but I suppose this is just one time too many…" she trailed off.

"Great," Harry said, uncharacteristic bitterness in his tone. "Really great. Tell him from me I’ll swap any time he wants. Tell him from me he’s welcome to it…people gawping at my forehead everywhere I go…"

Hermione had hoped that Harry would be more understanding of Ron’s attitude. Granted he was dealing with a lot at the moment, but this fight wasn’t going to be over anytime soon if Harry acted like an idiot too. Right then, Hermione made up her mind not to take sides.

"I’m not telling him anything," she said vehemently. "Tell him yourself. It’s the only way to sort this out."

"I’m not running around after him trying to make him grow up!" said Harry loudly. "Maybe he’ll believe I’m not enjoying myself once I’ve got my neck broken or—"

Hermione looked at him quickly. "That’s not funny. That’s not funny at all. Harry, I’ve been thinking—you know what we’ve got to do, don’t you?"

Hermione spent the rest of the morning trying to convince Harry to write to Sirius about the Triwizard Tournament. He finally agreed, and they headed up to the Owlery. At least worrying about mortal peril seems to have gotten his mind off brooding about Ron, thought Hermione wryly. But just then, Harry asked, "Whose owl am I going to use? He told me not to use Hedwig again."

Sensing an opportunity for reunion, Hermione said casually, "Ask Ron if you can borrow—"

But before the words were out of her mouth, Harry stated "I’m not asking Ron for anything," in an expressionless voice.

"Well, borrow one of the school owls, then, anyone can use them," Hermione snapped. She sincerely hoped that this quarrel would be over soon. She intensely disliked being stuck in the middle of this fight between her two friends. She gave Harry some parchment, a quill, and a bottle of ink she had been carrying in the pocket of her robes, then wandered around looking at the different owls while Harry wrote his letter.

"Finished," said Harry. Hedwig must have heard him, because she fluttered down and held out her leg. Harry explained that he had to use one of the school owls, but Hedwig wasn’t pleased. She turned her back on Harry, then clicked her beak and flew away when he tried to pet her.

Harry glared after her. "First Ron, then you," he snarled. "This isn’t my fault."

Hermione gave her friend a sympathetic smile. "Come on, Harry. Let’s go to the library. I want to get a head start on Summoning Charms for Professor Flitwick’s class."

//
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