The Sugar Quill
Author: Elanor Gamgee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione's Fourth Year  Chapter: Chapter Three: Accio Friendship!
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Part 3: Accio Friendship!

It quickly became clear that Ron and Harry were not about to patch things up anytime soon. Hermione spent Monday morning’s Herbology lesson sitting between them, trying to make conversation.

"So, Ron, did you finish your essay on Eldridge the Eccentric for History of Magic?" Hermione asked, desperate for something to say.

"Almost," he answered without looking in her direction. "I just need a few more feet."

"Ron! It’s due tomorrow!" Hermione realized that her schoolwork-scolding instincts were kicking in, and fought them down. "Well, Harry’s almost finished his, maybe he could—"

"Pass me the small trowel, will you, Hermione?" interrupted Harry. Hermione glanced over; the trowel in question was on the far side of the table, closest to Ron. Hermione looked from one to the other, realizing that she was now quite literally in the middle of their fight. Sighing, she reached across the table to pick up the trowel just as Ron leaned over and handed it to her. He gave her a small smile before looking back down to his tray of Bouncing Bulbs.

Hermione handed the trowel to Harry and went back to repotting bulbs in silence. If her two friends didn’t start talking soon, this would be a very long year.

The next few days did very little to raise Hermione’s hopes. Ron had taken to hanging around with his brothers, and, as his brothers were friends with just about everyone in Gryffindor, that left very few people for Harry to spend time with. Hermione stuck with Harry partially out of habit, and partially because she knew with excruciating precision how miserable it was to be left on your own when your friends were angry at you.

But it was worse for Harry, she had to admit. To Ron’s constant chagrin, the other Gryffindors seemed to think Harry was some kind of hero. However, students from the other houses threw him dirty looks when he passed, and didn’t bother to keep their voices down when they said insulting things about him.

In Charms one morning, Hermione could see that Harry was in a particularly vile mood. He had told her that Professor Trelawney had predicted three different excruciating deaths for him in her class the day before. Then, to make things worse, he had no luck with the Summoning Charms they were working on in Professor Flitwick’s class.

"Mr. Potter, I would like you to do some extra work on this charm before the next class," squeaked Professor Flitwick, eyeing the inert pile of erasers Harry was supposed to be summoning to him. "You too, Mr. Longbottom," he called, moving across the classroom.

Hermione saw Ron look over at the table where she was sitting with Harry. She couldn’t read his expression, but she was fairly certain he had been about to say something nice to Harry, perhaps out of force of habit. He remained silent, however, turning his attention back to his own Summoning Charm.

After Charms, Hermione reassured Harry as they made their way to the Great Hall for lunch. If he would just concentrate, he would get the hang of the spell soon enough. She could see why he might have difficulties concentrating these days, though.

At lunch, Harry chose a seat at the opposite end of the table from Ron. Hermione saw him sneak a look at Ron’s end of the table as she sat down across from him.

"You’ve got to talk to him sometime, Harry," she began. "This is getting ridiculous—"

"I’m not talking to him," said Harry flatly. "Let him talk to me."

"Fine, forget I mentioned it," said Hermione irritably, reflecting that she had never been interrupted so often as when she tried to get her two best friends to speak to one another.

When Hermione and Harry arrived at Snape’s dungeon after lunch, an unpleasant sight awaited them. All of the Slytherins in their Potions class were waiting outside the classroom, and Hermione could see right away that they were up to something. Just what they were up to quickly became evident.

"Like them, Potter?" said Draco Malfoy in his insolent way, showing off a large badge on the front of his robes. The badge said, in bright red lettering:

Support CEDRIC DIGGORY—

The REAL Hogwarts Champion!

"And this isn’t all they do—look!" continued Malfoy, as he pressed the badge into his chest, causing the red letters to be replaced with green ones:

POTTER STINKS

Harry was turning bright red. Hermione felt her own temper building as she heard the mean-spirited giggles of Pansy Parkinson and her friends. Hermione intensely disliked Pansy—she had ever since she had heard Pansy taunting Neville in their first year. (Taunting Neville, in Hermione’s opinion, was like kicking a puppy.) And their laughter was the last thing Harry needed right now, with everything else that was going on. Hermione could sense Ron watching the scene from his place by the wall with Dean and Seamus. The three of them were very quiet, neither laughing nor saying a word.

"Oh, very funny," Hermione said scathingly to Pansy and her friends, "really witty."

Malfoy turned his detestable little ferret-face on her. "Want one, Granger?" he said with false friendliness, holding out a badge in her direction. "I’ve got loads. But don’t touch my hand, now. I’ve just washed it, you see, don’t want a Mudblood sliming it up."

Hermione felt her cheeks flush, and had opened her mouth to say something sarcastic to Malfoy, when she saw Harry reach for his wand. "Harry!" she cried warningly.

The other students were rushing to get out of the way as Malfoy drew his own wand. In the confusion, Hermione couldn’t hear what Malfoy said to Harry. For a moment, she thought they had reached a standoff, as the two boys stared at each other without moving. Then, without warning, they both screamed curses and flung their wands forward.

Hermione didn’t see exactly what happened, just a burst of light from each wand, and then a sort of flash in the space between them. Before she had figured out what was going on, she felt something hit her hard in the mouth, and then her head seemed to grow heavier. With a whimper of shock, she put her hands to her mouth and felt her front teeth growing increasingly larger.

"Hermione!" She felt Ron’s hand on her back. He came around in front of her and pulled at her hands, which were over her mouth. "Let me see," he said softly, watching her with a terrified sort of concern. He succeeded in pulling her hands away from her mouth and suddenly stepped back in alarm. Hermione reached up and felt her teeth again; they were now nearly to the collar of her robes. Hermione’s eyes widened and she let out a strangled sob. Quickly she tried to cover her mouth again with her hands.

She suddenly became aware that the hallway had grown quiet. She looked up and saw Professor Snape pointing at Malfoy. "Explain," he was saying, in a deadly voice.

Malfoy and Harry started shouting explanations at the same time. As Malfoy gestured towards Goyle, Hermione looked over and saw that large ugly boils had appeared all over the nose of Malfoy’s thuggish friend.

"Hospital wing, Goyle," said Snape emotionlessly.

Ron stepped forward. "Malfoy got Hermione! Look!" he said indignantly, dragging Hermione’s hands away from her mouth again. Her teeth were now past her collar and still growing. Hermione could feel hot tears of embarrassment welling up as she saw Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls giggling silently behind Snape’s back.

Snape stared at her maliciously for a moment. "I see no difference," he said airily.

This was too much. The tears Hermione had barely been containing now spilled out. She wrenched her hands away from Ron and ran all the way back up the corridor, her heavy school bag thumping at her back.

She didn’t stop until she reached the hospital wing. Goyle had gotten there slightly ahead of her, but Madam Pomfrey took one look at Hermione’s giant teeth and told him that he would have to wait.

She led Hermione into a small, curtained-off area. "I’m not going to ask you how this happened, young lady, but I hope it wasn’t another appearance experiment. I should hope you would have learned your lesson after having a tail for several weeks!"

Hermione wanted to tell Madam Pomfrey that this wasn’t her fault, but she couldn’t speak with the giant teeth. Instead, she sniffled slightly, which made Madam Pomfrey look at her kindly.

"Now, now, dear, don’t fret, we’ll soon set you right." The nurse sat Hermione down on a stool and handed her a round mirror. "I’ll start shrinking them and you tell me when they’re back to normal."

Hermione nodded miserably and watched as Madam Pomfrey raised her wand. The teeth began to shrink slowly. It really was amazing that something like this could be fixed so easily with magic, especially when she thought about how much trouble dentists like her parents had fixing Muggle teeth. Hermione had always hated her large front teeth; she thought they made her look like a horse. Ironic, really, that this would be the curse that hit her, when she was so sensitive about her teeth already…

Suddenly Hermione realized she had a wonderful opportunity. She watched as her teeth shrunk smaller and smaller under Madam Pomfrey’s wand, and decided to let her carry on a bit longer. Her parents may want her to get braces, but why should she when this opportunity was staring her in the face?

"Done," Hermione said a moment later, when her teeth were slightly smaller than they had been before the curse. Normal-sized, she thought to herself.

"Yes, of course, dear," said Madam Pomfrey with a knowing smile.

Hermione stayed in the hospital wing for the rest of the afternoon; Madam Pomfrey had insisted she stay and "let her teeth rest and regain their strength." Hermione suspected that Madam Pomfrey wanted to give her a chance to recover from her embarrassment, and she was grateful. Nothing could have persuaded Hermione to return to Potions class that day, even if she was missing an important lesson.

At dinnertime, Madam Pomfrey even brought her a tray of food. When Hermione had finished eating, Madam Pomfrey inspected her teeth once more and told her she could leave whenever she was ready. "Oh, and you have a visitor," the nurse added, with a slight twinkle in her eye.

Hermione looked at the door, expecting to see Harry. But it was Ron. He approached her bed, looking a little nervous.

"Are—are you all right?" he asked.

Hermione smiled slightly; she wasn’t quite used to her new teeth yet, and she hoped no one would notice. "Yes, Madam Pomfrey got me all sorted out."

Ron looked relieved that she wasn’t crying anymore. "Good." He hesitated for a moment, then burst out, "Snape is really a lousy git!"

"Ron! Keep your voice down."

"Well, he is—"

"I know that, but it doesn’t help to shout about it. What did you cover in Potions?"

"Antidotes again," said Ron dully.

"Oh, I was afraid of that," said Hermione worriedly. "I do need to work more on mine. Did you take good notes?"

Ron just raised his eyebrows at her. "Right," she said, with a slightly annoyed laugh, "What was I thinking?" She paused a moment, then decided to go for it. "Where’s Harry?" she asked in a voice more timid than she meant it to be.

Ron gave her the same exasperated look he did whenever she brought up Harry. "How should I know? He was called away during Potions for a special photo session for Triwizard champions…" he trailed off bitterly.

Hermione sighed deeply. "Ron, you two have got to talk sometime. I can’t stand this much longer. Do you have any idea what Harry’s going through right now? It’s bad enough with someone out to get him, and the Slytherins tormenting him, but you not talking to him makes it ten times worse!"

Ron rolled his eyes impatiently, but Hermione thought she saw his face register some concern even so. He opened his mouth, closed it, then started again. "What about you?" he said, a familiar belligerent note in his voice. "You’ve made it perfectly clear who you’re friends with, hanging out with Harry all the time."

"Don’t be silly!" exclaimed Hermione. "You’ve monopolized Harry’s other friends. What was I supposed to do? Leave him all on his own like you two did to me last year? I wouldn’t wish that on either one of you!"

Whatever Ron had expected her to say, it wasn’t that. Indeed, Hermione herself was surprised to hear the words come out of her mouth. She had always thought that she didn’t carry a grudge about the arguments of their third year; still, it hadn’t escaped her notice that she was being a lot better friend to Harry than he had been in her situation.

Ron looked up in surprise and met Hermione’s gaze. She looked back at him, unsure of what to say next. Once they had made up last year, she had never really let on how much it hurt that Ron and Harry had ignored her for several months.

Ron broke the silence. "Was it…that bad?"

Hermione looked away. "Awful. But that’s not the point. The point is, you and Harry need to talk to one another." Ron seemed about the object, so Hermione went on. "Come on, you can walk me back to the common room."

And they left the hospital wing, Ron carrying Hermione’s heavy bag over one shoulder.

//
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