The Sugar Quill
Author: Arabella (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Awakenings  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

DISCLAIMER: NONE OF THESE CHARACTERS BELONG TO ME, THEY'RE ALL J.K. ROWLING'S. THIS IS JUST A BIT OF FUN. THANKS!

After one of his more particularly grueling practice sessions, Harry climbed through the portrait hole carrying his Firebolt, threw his muddy sweatshirt on a chair, and made a move toward the boys' staircase.

"I wouldn't, if I were you," came an amused, but warning voice from the window. Harry looked up, surprised. Seamus was sitting there, working through a heap of their holiday assignments. Usually, at this point in the Easter week, Seamus began to lose his grip. But today he looked positively cheerful. He spoke again. "Like I said, Harry," he grinned. "I wouldn't."

"Why not?"

"Hermione Granger's up there."

Harry's facial expression shifted from surprise to shock. Hermione had been known to come into the boys' dormitory on one occasion only- Christmas morning of their second year- when the Gryffindor house had been almost entirely deserted. What was she doing up there on a regular Thursday afternoon, when practically the whole house was sitting around?

"Why?" was all Harry could think of to say.

Neville looked up from his Potions essay. "She got in a row with Ron. A bad one. And he tore up there, and she.... went on after him." He gulped. "She looked fit to kill."

"She'd be right to!" said Ginny hotly, suddenly whirling from her place before the fire. "He was on her again about Krum, and it's really getting old! Why don't you ever DO anything about it, Harry?"

Harry had never seen Ginny quite so volatile. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked. "I've told him to shut up about Krum a hundred times."

"Well," snapped Ginny, "try again." And she turned back to her work with a humph. Harry turned to Seamus, open-mouthed.

"It wasn't good," continued Seamus, grinning. "You should have heard them. Cats and dogs those two."

"Always have been," said Parvati wisely, shutting her Divination journal and giving Lavender a superior nod. "Always will be."

Lavender giggled. "WE know what it's all about, though," she said conspiratorially, looking delightedly from Parvati to Harry.

"It's so OBvious, isn't it? It's-"

"None of your business!" finished Ginny, whirling again. "Is it, Lavender? How would you like it if I said that you and Sea-"

"Never mind, Harry!" squeaked Lavender in a hurry, narrowing her eyes at Ginny. "Just never mind!"

"Good." Ginny moved her eyes from Lavender to Harry, and he felt himself grow rather hot under the scrutiny of her gaze, which did not waver.

"What?!" he finally exploded. "I'm s'posed to go and do something, then?" Ginny nodded, her face set. "Unless you think I should go up into the boys' dorms, too," she said, a touch of humor in her voice. Harry looked at her quickly. Somehow, according to the expression on her face, he thought she might go ahead and do it, and for some vague reason, he didn't want her in their dormitory. "Fine," he muttered presently. "I'll go tell Hermione to come down."

"And then tell Ron to stop bothering her," Ginny insisted. "He hasn't any right to say what he does about Viktor. It's embarrassing for her, Harry. She has every right to be-- to be dating, if she likes somebody." Ginny looked away finally, slightly flustered. "Anyway," she said quickly, "Ron's only upset about Viktor and Hermione because he wishes-" But there, she cut herself short and blushed. "Well," she said shortly.

Harry couldn't help but grin, both at Ginny's confusion, and at what she had been about to say. He had a pretty good idea why Ron wouldn't leave Hermione alone about Viktor Krum. "Yeah," he returned. "Well." Ginny blushed even harder, and turned back around in her chair.

Lavender and Parvati looked positively triumphant.

"Go on then Harry," Seamus said from the window, his eyebrow raised in Lavenderıs direction. "Come down and give us all the details. We'll want to know if they've managed to strangle each other."

"Honestly," whispered Ginny, without turning around again.

Harry shrugged at Seamus and Neville and flicked his eyes back over toward Ginny once, but she avoided looking back at him, so he turned and took the stairs up to his dormitory two at a time. He imagined he'd be walking into quite a pretty scene.

They were bound to be pulling each other's hair out by this time. But five years' experience with Ron and Hermione's fights gave him confidence that he'd have them off one another in a moment. It couldn't be any worse than usual.

He crossed the hall to the door marked 'Fifth Years' and would have walked straight inside, but what he saw within was so unexpected that he spun counter-clockwise, and stayed without.

Ron and Hermione were standing, a body's length apart, pointing their wands directly at one another. Both their faces, Harry had seen in an instant, wore deadly determination. He crept his body along the wall until he could see them through the crack in the door, and felt panic rise up in his throat at their expressions. This didn't look like a joke. He had never seen two Gryffindors pointing wands at one another, except in Lockhartıs dueling club, second year-- and he'd certainly never seen his own friends threatening one another with magic. Harry felt for his own wand underneath his Quidditch T-shirt - he'd had a habit of keeping it there ever since his third year - pulled it out, and held it before him at the ready, just in case.

"I'm serious, Ron." Hermione's voice was steel. Clearly, this was the middle, or perhaps the end of the conversation. "One more word about him, and I'll snap. I'm THIS close." She held up her free hand, keeping her thumb and index finger a fraction apart. "Just stop it. Right in front of everybody-- do you KNOW how embarrassing that is for me?" Her voice wavered, but she caught it up again and continued. "Don't you EVER say another word about him and me."

"Him and you," hissed Ron, clenching his wand even more tightly. "I've had quite enough of him and you. You say you're embarrassed-- well, you should be. Lording it over everybody all year-"

"Lording---!!"

"Oh, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about." Ron put on a fake, high voice. "Bulgaria was just AMAzing, Viktor taught me SO much, I've never had such a nice HOLiday!" Ron narrowed his eyes. "Sickening."

"Shut up!" Hermione's eyes flashed dangerously. "Shut up! That's exactly what I mean! All year, in front of everybody-- in the halls, at meals, in class, in front of our teachers-- what do you care whether or not I liked Bulgaria? What do you CARE?!"

With a sharp snap, Hermione flicked her wrist and sparks shot out of her wand, just missing Ron. He jumped, and outside the door, so did Harry.

"Go ahead!" shouted Ron recklessly, "Shoot your worst! Canıt be worse than listening to you go on and on about Vicky, the great stupid-"

"He's incredibly intelligent-"

Ron switched back to the high voice and mocked her, "He's incredibly intelligent!"

"Shut UP!" Hermione cried, her voice cracking. "Stop it!"

"YOU stop it!" bellowed Ron. "I don't want to hear one more word about your bloody boyfriend!" The last word was a low snarl. "Makes me want to-- you should never-"

"What, Ron? I should never what?" Hermione hollered back, tears edging into her voice. "Tell me! Whatever it is that's making you like this, just tell me!"

"LIKE YOU DON'T KNOW!"

"I DON'T!" Hermione was now extremely close to tears, and her voice lost some of its bite as her shoulders began to slump. "All I know is, I'm so tired of you making fun of me that I.... I..... Ron, please," she implored. "Please-you've just got to stop it. You're taking something out on me that isn't my fault."

Ron glared at her fiercely but said nothing.

"Just TELL me what it is," Hermione entreated. Still, Ron was silent, eyeing her narrowly.

Hermione waited another moment for an answer, but none came. Harry, who rather thought he knew why Ron was behaving so unkindly, had to hold himself back in the tense silence, from shouting, "Say it!" But he bit his tongue and watched as a defeated Hermione dropped her wand arm to her side, looking suddenly tired. "Okay," she said quietly. "That's all I can do, then, isn't it."

But a second later, as though making one last appeal, she looked up at Ron swiftly and all the heat was back in her voice. "Tell me," she said again. "Please, Ron. Whatever it is, really, whatever, even if it's...." she blushed a little, and looked at her feet.

Harry raised his eyebrows. Hermione, it seemed, knew what the matter was with Ron. "You can tell me, I swear," she finished, stepping a foot closer to him.

But again Ron said nothing, nor would he meet her eyes, and Harry could see that Hermione's tears were now threatening to fall. In an effort to hide this, she turned quickly, tucked her wand hastily inside her robe, and brushed her fingers under her eyes as she strode toward the door.

Now did Ron speak-- so abruptly that he startled Harry, Hermione, and himself. "No. YOU tell ME. You TELL me what you really feel about Krum."

Hermione turned back slightly and gaped. "What--?"

"Is this all-you know-serious-with you and him?" Ron continued, in the same quick, low voice. "Just tell me, and get it over with. Go on."

Hermione was too much taken aback by this sudden, intimate interest in her love life to form a response, and now that Ron had finally begun to speak, he had grown too impatient to wait for her answer. He threw his wand behind him on the bed suddenly, stepped forward and grabbed Hermione's hands. If her face had held surprise before, now it held utter disbelief.

"Ron," she began slowly, looking at her hands in his, "I don't under-"

"Because if you really like him-" Ron winced, as though this small group of words had caused him some physical pain-"then....then I'll back off. But if you don't...."

Hermione blinked. "Yes?" she whispered. "If I....if I don't...?"

Harry held his breath and waited. This was a rather spectacular moment, and though he half-way knew he shouldn't listen, he felt an incredible curiosity to know who would say what. The tension was palpable and he shifted edgily from one foot to the other.

"Well, if you don't, then..." Ron trailed off. He looked like he was trying to work up the nerve for something. His face was slightly drawn, and very nervous. He was quiet.

"Then?" Hermione's voice came up a notch in volume. "Well?" Ron seemed stuck in his unease, and Hermione let out a sigh.

"Either come out with it right NOW, Ron" she said finally, "or don't. But either way, you've got to stop being so mean to me all the ti-"

But Hermione didn't get to finish her ultimatum. Ron had made up his mind. Harry watched his friend's face change from nervous indecision to gritty determination, and in a flash of long arms, Ron had grabbed Hermione and pressed her mouth with a swift, unmistakable kiss.

Harry had to stick his fist in his mouth to keep from yelling at this tremendous event. He looked rapidly both ways down the hall to make sure no one was coming, then turned back, glued, to the scene beyond the crack in the door. Ron had released Hermione and was standing back from her, waiting to see what she would do, looking rather wild.

Hermione, for her part, was absolutely stunned. When Ron let her go, she swayed on the spot. Her mouth was partly open, and she put her fingers to it, as if testing to see if what had happened was real. "Oh...." she breathed. "Ron...." And then she flung herself forward and kissed him in the same impetuous manner. When she drew away, Ron let out a sort of breathless laugh. "Hermione!" he managed. They both stood there a moment, breathing rather strangely, and then, in an instant, Hermione had turned and fled the room, barely avoiding smacking into Harry on her way down the hall, looking flushed and beaming and frightened. Thankfully for him, she was far too caught up in her own thoughts to ask him if he'd seen or heard anything. She ran down the boys' staircase and out of sight.

Harry listened a moment, heard the sound of voices in the common room- Parvati's instant questioning, Lavender's giggle.....then a low murmur from Ginny that sounded like, "Everybody just hush. We're going up-- leave us alone."

Harry shook his head slightly, to clear the thoughts that were whirling about in it, and then faced his doorway. Ron had just thrown himself down on his bed in there with his eyes shut, an expression of shock on his face. Ron had just kissed Hermione. Right on the mouth. Harry felt a wave of shock pass over him as well, but he shook it off. He wanted to see just how much Ron would tell him, without his having to ask. Resolutely, he stuck his wand back under his T-shirt, assumed an expression of innocence, and entered their dormitory.

"Hey," he said casually. "What's up?"

Ron kept his eyes shut and didn't move. Harry paused, wondering how he could approach the subject of what he had just seen, without revealing he had seen it. "You asleep, or what?" he said loudly.

Ron opened his eyes and stared at the canopy above him. "Awake," he said.

Harry considered, then said, "Er-was Hermione in here? I saw her in our hall."

Ron turned his face away. "Yeah, she was in here," he barely muttered.

"How come?" Harry asked, desperately hoping this still sounded offhand. "What was she doing in the boys' dorms?"

Ron was still. Harry became impatient, but strove to keep the edges out of his voice. "You going to answer me?" he said, in what he hoped was a normal, indifferent tone of voice. "Did something happen?"

Ron laughed. "I'll say," he said under his breath. But Harry caught it. "What then?" he said, a little too quickly. But Ron didn't seem to notice. He rolled over and sat up suddenly, facing Harry, his hands clenching the bedcovers. "I don't know how to tell you this, Harry..." he said slowly. Harry held his breath. "...but I....well, Hermione.... we were fighting... she was getting upset...." Ron shook his head sharply, and it seemed to clear his mind. "I kissed her, Harry."

"What.....Hermione?" said Harry slowly, trying to sound amazed. It wasn't difficult. After all, it was... Hermione.

Ron laughed again, shortly. "Yeah. Can you believe... I reckon.... I reckon I LIKE her!"

"I guess!" snorted Harry, letting out a deep breath of relief. Ron had told him. He wouldn't have to pretend not to know. He wasn't being kept in the dark. It would be bad enough to have his two best friends going 'round kissing-but it would be far worse for him if they were secret about it. At least it wouldn't be uncomfortable between the three of them. Feeling suddenly very charitable, and really rather impressed with what Ron had managed to do, he fell flat on his own four poster, looked over at Ron, and grinned. "So...?" he said.

Ron's ears turned an incredible shade of purple. "So?" he muttered. "What?"

"Did she..." Harry had to choke back a disbelieving laugh, for even though he knew the answer to the question he was about to ask, it was still pretty amazing to hear about it from Ron. "Did she- er- kiss you back, or anything?" Harry's mouth was twisted in a sort of lopsided, suppressed smile as he regarded his friend. Ron looked absolutely baffled.

"D'you know what, Harry?" he said, his eyes turned inward as though watching the scene again, "She... she did." He opened his eyes wide, and blinked hard, forcing himself to focus outward again. Face slightly bemused, he looked at Harry. "Reckon she likes me back," he mumbled, looking at his fingers, which he kept clenching and unclenching.

"Guess so!" said Harry again. "She looked, er, pretty happy-you know, when I saw her in the hall."

"Did she?" asked Ron immediately, looking highly grateful for this news. "Oh, good. I mean, I'm glad... I mean..." Ron took a deep breath and blew it out, then suddenly looked petrified "What do I do now?" he moaned. "I haven't got the first bloody clue!"

"Me either," said Harry, grinning. "Maybe you should write her a poem," he suggested, in a not-at-all serious tone of voice.

Ron looked at him quickly, and grinned back before he could help it. "Oy, shut up, you," he retorted, throwing a pillow at Harry, who caught it easily and threw it back at Ron, who let it knock him backwards and cover his face. He lay there a moment and then in a muffled voice, Harry heard, "You know, Harry, you ought to give it a try. It's brilliant."

Harry smirked. "What?" he said, "Kissing Hermione?"

Ron shot up from under the pillow and gave Harry a look that told him not to try that joke again. "No," he said briefly,

"Somebody else."

"Right," laughed Harry, rolling his eyes, shutting them, and settling back in his pillow with an image of one particular girl in his mind. "Cho?" He sighed derisively. "Forget it. We know that's not going to happen."

"Somebody else then," repeated Ron, shrugging and falling back easily onto his pillow, as though now that he had done it, it was the easiest thing in the world to grab a girl up and kiss her. "There are a million girls at this school, I'm sure there has to be at least one other good one. Anyway, you've practically got a fan club."

But with that comment, Ron sat up again suddenly, a thought seeming to occur to him. "Just stay away from my sister, right?" he said, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow of mock-warning at Harry. His tone of voice was very light. But Harry knew Ron well enough to know that his friend was not entirely in jest.

Harry flinched imperceptibly, feeling somehow guilty. The moment Ron had said that, Harry's usual mental image of Cho Chang had been replaced without warning. Into his mind's eye had come, unbidden, a picture of Ginny Weasley, blushing stubbornly at him from her chair by the fire. He felt his heart give a funny jump, and he blinked his eyes in surprise. Ron was still looking at him, arms folded, awaiting a response. Harry felt at a loss, but didn't want to betray it. Instead, he forced a laugh. "Right, Ron," he said carelessly, waving a hand as if to dismiss such an idiotic idea. "I'll keep away from Ginny." Ron looked satisfied, and returned to his position on his back, staring up at his canopy, presumably musing about what to do next about Hermione, now that he had managed to kiss her.

Harry, on the other hand, was highly unsettled. Another memory of Ginny had just occurred to him - she was pale, and cold, barely alive, the way she had appeared underground in the Chamber of Secrets. The thought flashed across his mind- not for the first time- that Ginny Weasley was the only person he knew, aside from himself, who had faced Voldemort alone and come out of it alive. His heart gave another queer knock.

Harry took off his glasses and shut his eyes, feeling a bit apprehensive of Ron. For suddenly, though the thought surprised him utterly, he wasn't entirely sure that he would stay away from Ginny Weasley after all.

//
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