Disclaimer: I kiss the feet of JK Rowling,
for she is good (as well as the owner of this wondrous stuff which I am
pilfering for the time being, with many apologies).
A/N: Many thanks to the wonderful Sugar
Quill for entertaining me with its wonderful stories, especially while
we wait (and wait and wait) for book 5. Happy Anniversary! This is my
first HP fan fic, so be kind.
From behind her piles of books, somewhere
between Ruined Runes: How To Keep Your Runes from Getting Ruddy
and From Stool to Stool: Transfigurational Advantages of Fungi,
Hermione watched Harry and Ron working on their Divination homework.
"What do you reckon, Harry? 'On Friday
due to a misalignment of Mars and Venus, I will sprain . . .'" Here
Ron stopped scribbling for a moment to chew his lower lip thoughtfully.
"'No, I will break'--nothing so good as severe bodily damage
for good marks, you know--'my right arm in a freak writing accident.'"
"Honestly," Hermione muttered
to herself. She finished up her Herbology assignment with a quick flourish,
and as she rolled up her parchment, she let her gaze drift back to her
two best friends as they plotted their many potential demises.
"Whaddya think about this?" Harry
asked. "'This Wednesday I will develop a large purple rash after
a nasty run-in with a fire-breathing iguana. Then on Thursday someone
will try to use me for their own personal gain'?"
"Mm, not bad. But maybe you need to
make it sound more miserable. How ‘bout, 'Someone will use you as a pawn
in their own dirty game, sullying your good name to tragic results'?"
"Good one--probably Snape. We have
Potions Thursday. Bet he'll try to poison me again or something, or make
me say something really embarrassing in front of everybody."
They both paused. Hermione didn't fail to
notice the significant look that passed between the two in that split
"Reckon we should finish this up, eh, Harry?"
Harry nodded vigorously in response, and
within minutes their Divination work was done. She watched both boys
waving their parchment around in the air, holding herself back from saying
that if they ever paid attention in Charms they would have known to cast
the Quick-Drying spell.
She suddenly drew her eyes back with an embarrassed
blush. Ron shot her a puzzled look, then turned his attention back to
Harry, but not before giving her a second, questioning look. She hadn't
realized it, but even while she had been looking at both of them, her
eyes had wandered mostly over to Ron. He had gotten so tall over
the summer, and, well . . . she wasn't so oblivious that she hadn't noticed
some of the third and forth year girls giving him more than a passing
glance this year. When she had met up with Ron and Harry at Diagon Alley
she had been almost startled speechless at how Ron had managed to get
even taller, and, she felt another rush of blood in her face, how he had
gotten a bit broader in the shoulders. Stop it, she admonished
herself. Really, it was silly. He was just Ron. Her friend.
So what was last year all about, then? her brain asked. She heard
herself give a little growl.
It was just all this nonsense. About two
weeks ago Professor McGonagall had announced in Transfiguration, "That
due to the overwhelming demand, Hogwarts will have another Yule Ball for
forth years and up, although Beauxbaton and Durmstrang were not to be
involved this year (unless students wrote and asked for express permission
to invite an international student to the dance). Hermione had found
it difficult to keep herself from turning red when this part was announced,
especially since Parvati and Lavender had shot her a look and giggled
conspiratorially to one another.
Hermione snapped out of her thoughts and
looked up. Ron was holding with the tips of his fingers, a quill.
"Ugh, I think this is your quill, Harry."
"How'd you figure?" Harry held
up another quill. "They look about the same to me. What does it
"My quill doesn't taste like eagle feather."
Harry looked thoughtfully at the quill in
his hand and stuck the end of it in his mouth. "Mm, black currant."
Ron swiped it away. "Hey, that's my
last sugar quill, mate. Give it here, Harry."
"Liar. I saw a whole box of 'em under--"
Ron glared at Harry, and Harry promptly shut
his mouth. "Oh, right."
"Yeah," Ron said darkly, his eyes
darting suspiciously around the room. "That's right." Hermione
raised one eyebrow.
They both quickly packed up their things
and proceeded to leave the room. "Err, see you at dinner!"
Harry shouted over his shoulder to Hermione, a strangled, twisted kind
of look on his face. What was going on with those two? Honestly,
boys . . .
The Christmas holidays were fast approaching,
and with each day Harry and Ron seemed to get more and more secretive,
and for some reason, a bit jumpy. Hermione had an idea why, but she didn't
like to think about it. Especially when it concerned Ron.
Her face twisted up in frustration. Why
was this so hard? she wanted to know. It shouldn't matter, not
this much. She was an intelligent, young witch with lots of important
things to do, to think about. For instance, Harry. But then again, Harry
had seemed equally preoccupied these last few weeks, and she had noticed
his rather moony looks during meals at the Ravenclaw table to a particular
seeker. But it was also Harry, she reasoned. He wouldn't be as
worried about his own safety as much as his friends would be. That was
how he was like.
"Who are you going with this year, Parvati?"
Hermione looked around and saw Lavender and Parvati huddled in the stacks,
whispering. "Seamus has already asked me again." There was
a flurry of muffled giggles. Hermione shot them both an evil look that
“Has Padma found a date yet?”
“No, but she’s told me who she wants to ask her.”
Lavender giggled. “Ooh, who?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Those two were
making no attempt to be quiet. Did they have any sense of propriety?
They were in the library.
Parvati sort of inclined her head and as
suddenly as that, Lavender covered her mouth and gasped. “No! Not him!?
Not after last year. ”
Parvati nodded solemnly. “Well it’s true.
I have to admit though, he’s spiffed up quite a bit this last year. He
kind of looks like his brother now.”
Lavender made a face. “Fred and George?
Hermione gave up all pretense of concentrating
on her work. She felt her stomach bottom out.
“No, no, his older brother.”
“Prefect Percy? Eww. But he was so--”
Parvati sighed resignedly. “Come on now,
Lavender. Use your inner-eye. I’m talking about Charlie Weasley.
You know, famous Gryffindor seeker. He was there last year during the
There was another series of giggles, and
both girls leaned in closer to one another to whisper. All Hermione caught
was something about “dragon leather” before she got frustrated with herself
and tutted herself for being silly.
She was about to banish all thoughts of dances
and boys when she spotted Neville heading in her direction. She bit her
lip, trying to decide what to do. It hadn't escaped her notice that lately
Neville had been hovering around her a lot more lately, and since all
the teachers had been slackening off with homework in preparation for
the holiday, she had a feeling he wasn't trying to ask her to help him
with his homework, although the last few times he had squeaked nervously
about having her help him with studying for Potions so he would better
prepared for the next term.
However, the dance was coming up really fast.
Less than a week, really, and Neville seemed to have a tremendously intense
look on his face as he shuffled his way towards her. Oh, no!
She had to think quickly. Neville was a really nice boy and everything,
but . . . . Hermione quickly pushed her chair back and catapulted her
way deeper in the library. She disappeared into the shelves, embarrassed
at herself. Why not go with Neville? she thought. He was perfectly
nice, and a good friend. And he seemed to genuinely admire and like her,
and never insulted her or made her angry like some people . . .
"Ooof!" A large book dropped to
the floor and hit Hermione's right foot, but the "ooof" had
not been hers.
She stared up at Ron whose ears were slowly
turning into a shade closely resembling rhubarb. He started, his expression
a bit dazed. Then quickly he recovered and swooped down to grab the book
at their feet, Engaging Enchantments: Personalizing Your Parchment
for School and Special Events. He then stuffed the book underneath
his school robes and shuffled around nervously.
"What are you doing here?" he managed,
his voice dancing between various octaves. His breathing was quick and
"ME?" she cried indignantly, "It's
the LIBRARY, Ron. What do you think I’m doing?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Hey," he seemed to regain some
composure and somehow managed to draw himself up to his full height, "it's
a free country. I'm allowed to use the library if I want to. I'm . .
. I'm just looking for some books so, you know, I can prepare for the
O.W.L.S. You're not the only one concerned about their future."
He threw her a triumphant little grin. She noticed the little crinkles
that formed around his eyes when he smiled with his whole face, and how
it made him look even more maddening than usual. "How else am I
supposed to attain world-wide wizarding fame that is destined to be my
fate without a little extracurricular reading?"
"Did your inner-eye tell you that?" she asked scathingly, feeling
her annoyance arise even though she knew she didn't have much of an excuse
to be mad at Ron. Not one she would ever admit to herself anyway.
"Mock my sight, will you?" He
pressed both index fingers to his forehead. "Hermione Granger,"
he wheezed in a misty voice, his eyes crossing to what he thought to be
great hilarity, "I see in your future . . . OOOF!" The heavy
book had dropped from the folds of Ron's robes and had hit him in his
overlarge feet this time. Hermione reached down to grab it, but he beat
her to it.
"Err, gotta go. Harry's waiting for
"But--" But Ron had dashed away before she could say another word.
Hermione sighed, looking back at the spot
where they had just stood a moment ago, only two inches apart. Who
was she kidding? Ron and the Yule Ball would never be more than bad memories
of last year, and non-existent ones of this year's. Of course there
was the possibility that she could just muster up the courage and ask
him, but sometimes Ron just made absolutely no sense to her. Did
he even know how she felt? Was he really that daft, or did he not think
of her that way, ever? Maybe last year had been entirely an exaggeration
of her own feelings, and he had just been a prat as usual, only in heightened
circumstances? Whatever the situation may have been, right now she just
wasn't sure, and Ron simply meant too much to her to change how things
stood now if he didn't feel the same way. They had to stick together
if they were going to be there for Harry, and that was another risk she
wasn't willing to take now, as much as she sometimes hoped.
"Oh, Ron," she sighed.
She whirled around and looked up expectantly.
Then immediately she dropped her eyes. "Yes, Neville?" she
said with a patient, although disappointed sigh.
"Would you, err . . . help me with this Potions essay?"
After dinner, Hermione noticed that Harry
was acting a bit strangely. He kept staring at the portrait hole nervously,
twisting his hands and then running them through his already unruly hair.
She glanced around the room and noticed that Ginny Weasley was nowhere
to be seen.
Maybe she had been spending too much time
around Parvati and Lavender these last few years, but in a brief moment
her mind did a quick jump of romantic proportions. Maybe Harry was
going to ask Ginny to the ball! Ginny, like Ron, had done her own
bit of growing over the summer, and feeling like a big sister, Hermione
was feeling proud that she was growing up so quickly. It would be
quite tremendous if Harry did ask Ginny, she thought. There was no
chance that she'd be going to the Yule Ball with Ron this year, but Hermione
had steeled herself to be content with that, but maybe Ginny would have
a chance to go with the person she'd most like to be asked by. Hermione
knew that this year Ginny had tried to banish any remnants of her crush
on Harry, but Hermione knew first hand that things like that could be
quite difficult, and that willing yourself was only part of it. There
needed to be time to get over it as well.
The portrait hole swung open and someone
tall and red-headed appeared.
“Hey,” Ron panted, nodding to both her and
Harry. He stopped for a moment and readjusted his robes which were almost
gathered around his knees in a mess. Looking up, he turned his gaze
first to Harry, then it came to rest on her. She felt her chest tighten
up. He rarely ever looked at her like that, at least not that she had
been aware of. His eyes seemed to have grown darker, and he didn’t blink
once. It made her feel rather uncomfortable, but it almost made her feel
like she was burning up, and not in a bad way.
Ron finally broke his gaze away. “Err, have
to get something up in the dormitory.” He rushed upstairs, the tips of
his ears visibly red.
“What’s that about?” she trailed off distractedly.
Harry shrugged, shuffling his feet. He gave
one more look up to the boys dorm and physically seized himself up.
“Er, Hermione. Can I ask you something?”
Hermione panicked. Harry wasn’t going to
ask her to the ball, was he?
“Uh, sure!” she squeaked, not knowing what
else to say. Of all times to be tongue-tied, she lamented. Why
couldn’t she come up with something clever and distracting?
“Well, you see, there’s something . . . a
bit of a project . . . and ah, well could you give it a look, and tell
me what you think of it? I mean, if it’ll work?”
Hermione made no attempt to hide the sigh
of relief that flitted through her lips. Every muscle in her body that
had been clenched tight with tension relaxed. She was surprised that
she hadn’t sunk to the floor in a puddle of goo.
“Oh, is that all?” she asked calmly. Harry
was just asking for a homework opinion. “What kind of project is it?
For what class?”
“Um. . . “ Harry frowned, his glasses slipping
down on his nose. “It’s kind of hard to explain. You sort of have to
see it and . . . try it out. So, will you?”
“Of course, Harry!” She smiled. “So where
“OH, it’s not in here. It’s set-up in one
of the empty classrooms.” Harry glanced at the mountain of books and
homework Hermione had set-up in front of her. “Won’t take long,” he added
hastily, nodding towards it.
The classroom was only a quick stop away.
Harry walked in first, and then turned around to face her. The room was
well-lit with long, thin cream-colored candles. They almost looked too
elegant for a classroom, but function was function, was it not?
But there didn’t seem to be anything else
in the classroom. Where was Harry’s project? She craned her neck around,
and then saw bits of parchment sitting on desks pushed up against the
walls. Accompanying each piece of parchment was a single quill and a
bottle of ink.
“Is this like an exam?”
“Not really.” Harry appraised the room,
then walked over to the left side of the room where the first piece of
parchment sat. “It’s kind of like, a riddle that you have to answer,
and, well you’re clever, Hermione.”
Harry made a beeline for the doorway.
“Harry?” He skidded to a stop.
“Forgot something—er, I’ll be back in a bit?
You can manage?”
“Suppose so.” She shot him a confused look.
Harry nodded and practically sprinted back
to the Gryffindor common room. He’s behaving really oddly, she
thought, but the offer of a challenge before her soon drew Hermione back
to the task at hand.
Black ink was lovingly (although a little
sloppily) scrawled on the top of the brownish parchment paper. She scanned
it quickly. There was a bit of a rhyme, and a blank line to fill. But
I know I’m not the brightest bloke,
That I’m always tryin’ to make a joke,
But surely as this quill is _________
Here the writing ended. Hermione puzzled.
The rhyme only took up the top half of the parchment, and rest remained
blank. What was she supposed to do? She thought for another moment and
decided to look at the other two pieces of parchment in the room. She
thought there might be a clue in the rhymes on the other sheets, but when
she looked, both were blank. What
Returning to the first piece of parchment,
she picked up the quill and twirled it in her fingers. Well, she
thought, this quill is what? A feather? A writing utensil? It was
white, well, more of a cream colour, and it was light.
dipped the quill into the bottle of ink and decided to scribble in, “a
came next caused her to step back in surprise.
A feather? Is that the best you can
come up with? Let’s actually TRY this time, shall we?
“Well that’s RUDE,” Hermione said. She “hmph!”
to herself and tried again. Apparently this was an enchanted piece of
parchment, and one with an attitude. Well, she wasn’t one to back down
from a challenge.
The words she had just written vanished off
the parchment along with the enchanted message, and the line was blank
yet again. This time, she tried “white.” Perhaps the answer had to be
one word. After all, there was only one blank, not two.
WRONG AGAIN! And you’re supposed to
be the cleverest witch in her year? C’mon, think harder. And not just
with your brain this time.
Hermione felt her face burn. Well HONESTLY,
what else besides her brain was she supposed to think with? Her nose?
She started and stared at the quill in her
hand. No, not think with her nose, but with her taste buds. . .
She eyed the quill. Maybe it wasn’t
a feather. Tentatively, she raised the quill to her face. The fine little
plumes danced gently with the movement of her hand. Then, without anymore
hesitation, she stuck the end of the quill in her mouth.
“Peach!” she cried out in delight after a
few seconds. She had been right! It wasn’t a feather quill, but a sugar
the sugar quill from her mouth, she dipped it back into the ink and wrote
FINALLY! That’s the girl I know.
previous message disappeared after a few moments, and another message
soon followed, finishing off the riddle and rhyme.
I know I’m not the brightest bloke,
That I’m always tryin’ to make a joke,
But surely as this quill is peach,
Events from last year me did teach,
Below the rhyme little arrows pointed towards the center of the room and had
a little note that said, “next parchment, please!”
The parchment in the middle of the room had
no riddle for her, though. Instead, it had another note for her.
Err, sorry. This parchment’s supposed
to be the last one. D’you mind?
Shrugging, she moved eagerly to the next
piece of parchment. This was quite fun, actually, and Hermione was very
curious as to what effect Harry was looking to achieve with it.
The previous rhyme had appeared on the once
blank parchment now (Hermione made a note to herself to look up information
about this spell later in the library), and a few more lines followed
it. She picked it up in one hand, and the quill in the other.
That I was too blind to see,
That the problem was entirely me,
And true as this quill tastes like
Hermione sucked on the top of the quill and immediately scribbled down the flavour—pear.
And true as this quill tastes like
That you are something rare,
She blinked, and felt her stomach do little
flip-flops. If this was going to lead to what she thought it would—but
whom? And did Harry mind if she knew? It was true that she was one of
his best friends, but he could have simply told her before. Was this
meant for Cho? Or did Harry mean this for Ginny? Or some other girl
that she didn’t know?
She rushed to the last and final piece of
parchment, a little breathless with anticipation. Harry must be really
serious about this, she thought. This must have been a lot of work.
Hermione quickly picked up the quill and quickly read the last few lines.
It took some restraint to not test the flavour of the sugar quill immediately.
She bounced on her heels.
So what I am trying to say,
Is that it would be sweeter than ______
Hermione tasted the quill. For a moment,
she wasn’t sure. It tasted like melon, but what kind? She stuck the
quill in her mouth again and concentrated. Then she got it—Honey dew!
The quill popped out of her mouth, and quickly dipping it into the ink,
she scribbled in less than her usual neat handwriting, the two words.
She stared, willing the rhyme to finish, but when it did, she was struck
If, Hermione, I could go to the ball
Hermione? Everything in her body—her stomach,
her heart, lurched wildly in confusion. Harry didn’t mean—he wasn’t—the
sugar quill felt as though it was stuck to her hand, and she couldn’t
pry it off if she tried.
“Oh, no,” she moaned. “No, no, no.”
Why, she thought bitterly,
why did everyone except for the one person she wanted to go to the ball
with, want to go with her? What did Harry mean by this? He was one of
her dearest friends, but he must have known . . . didn’t he understand
she didn’t like him like that?
She curled her hands into two, tight little
fists. The honey dew flavoured sugar quill crumbled into little crystals,
spilling onto the still-wet ink on the parchment. Hermione wanted to
punch something—preferably herself. She was about to hit herself in the
forehead when the sound of movement behind her froze her mid-smack.
The words came spilling out of her mouth faster than she could think, and sooner
than they should have.
“OH, oh. . . Harry. Oh, Harry, I’m really
flattered, but I can’t go to the ball with you. I mean
I would, but . . . don’t you know that I don’t . . . you’re marvelous
and all, and any girl would be lucky to go with you, but . . . .” She
knew she was rambling like a fool, but the words wouldn’t stop spilling
out. “I can’t go to the ball with you, Harry,” she finally began to turn
around, mustering up enough courage to face him, “because I already said
I’d go with Neville.”
It was a relief to have gotten that all off
her chest, and she looked up a bit red-faced, hoping to see Harry was
okay with her explanation. She hoped that he wasn’t too hurt, but it
wasn’t Harry that stood in the doorway to the classroom. It was worse.
“Ron!” she gasped in horror. She felt herself
He seemed to move in slow-motion. The look
on his face—Hermione didn’t think she could ever wipe it out of her mind—was
one mixed with anger, hurt, and utter bewilderment. He made a strangled
noise, and began to withdraw.
Hermione panicked. She tried to shake herself
into action, but as she did Ron was already out the door. Rushing to
the door—she had to stop him—she called his name into the empty hallway.
If she couldn’t stop him, then she had to catch up to him. She had
to explain. But Ron, with his long limbs, had disappeared. He was gone.
The next few days leading up the Yule Ball
were some of the most painful, tense times Hermione had felt in a long
time, and when one was friends with Harry Potter, that meant something.
There had been many times before when she and Ron had had horrible rows,
and many times she thought that they were the worse it could ever get,
but there was something about this particular fight that was worse. Somehow,
it seemed like it was the end of something. That this fight was somehow
Harry didn’t seem to know what to say to
either of them. Although Ron was at least talking to Harry, it was for
perfunctory things. With her, Harry just seemed embarrassed or unsure
of what to say. On top of that, he was nervous for himself. He had asked
Cho to the ball, and she had said yes, but as happy as he was about it,
it was still all a little weird for him. The fact that he couldn’t
even talk to his two best friends about it made it even harder.
Ron didn’t even look at her. This was much
worse than it had been in their third year when he had ignored her for
months. It was like that, but trebled. She was in a constant state
of agitation. She snapped at everyone, even poor Neville who looked at
her as though she were a ticking time-bomb. She felt terrible, but she
couldn’t help it. It didn’t help that lately she had been feeling even
tetchier than usual.
She wished that the ball had never been announced.
She wished that Ron would just listen to her and let her explain. She
wished that she could not care about thins type of thing—this boy/girl
thing, and focus on something more important. However she’d be lying
to herself if she denied that this was something important to her. But
wishes were like snitches. She’d never get one, especially with the way
Hermione had worn the same periwinkle robes
she had worn last year, although with slight alternations (Parvati and
Lavender, in an attempt to cheer her up, had tried to convince her to
let them cast a sparkle charm on her gown, but she had flatly refused).
She didn’t fail to notice that Ron had gotten new robes this year. They
were a rich midnight blue, and had no trace of lace in sight. She also
didn’t fail to notice that Ron’s dress robes seem to compliment the robes
of his date.
His date, Hermione had found out due to some
loud, and rather obvious whispering by Parvati and Lavender, was a pretty
dark-haired Ravenclaw girl named Elspeth Duncan. She was a fourth year,
and had a sweet Scottish accent that made Hermione sick to her stomach.
The dance seemed to last forever. She tried
to focus on anything but what was bothering her, and managed for a few
minutes when she watched Harry and Cho together. They seemed to sit out
most of the dance, speaking quietly to each other. But it didn’t even
interest her right now what they might be saying to each other.
A few times Ginny had broken away from dancing
with Colin Creevey to try and cheer her up, but it only made Hermione
feel worse. However she was glad to note that Ginny seemed to be holding
up really well in light of Harry going with Cho. She just wished she
had as much grace with her situation.
During her dances with Neville, she didn’t
even register that he was stepping all over her toes and apologizing profusely
every time. Every time her eyes fell on Ron and Elspeth, she cringed.
Ron could really dance. He and his partner were all over the dance
floor. They waltzed. They two-stepped. They almost put Fred and Angelina
to shame when the fast songs came on. Hermione hated every second of
it. It wasn’t fair. Why could he have fun, but she had to feel so miserable?
Eventually she managed to leave early, apologizing
to Neville for being such a terrible date (“Oh, no! You were great!”
he had squeaked nervously), and had retired to her room to try and sleep
off her misery. But sleep was the last thing she was going to get. Long
after Lavender and Parvati had stopped prattling about what a wonderful
time they had had at the dance, Hermione still lay wide awake, staring
up at the canopy of her bed.
Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore. She
would conquer this. Climbing out of bed, she grabbed her copy of Hogwarts:
A History, and made her way down to the common room to do some reading,
and hopefully, some calming down.
She was surprised to find that the fire was
lit at a small blaze when she got downstairs. Even more surprising was
the person she found there, his head covered by his long, lanky arms.
Hermione felt her breath catch in her throat.
He must have heard her, because he looked
up. The slightest emotion flit across his face, but that was all. Ron
made no attempt to leave. He didn’t yell at her, or ignore her. He simply
looked at her, and then looked away without a single word.
Oh, Ron, she thought
desperately. What was she to do? She had to do something. She
hadn’t done something about this for a week, and she was old enough
to know better, that things wouldn’t simply happen if she just
sat around and waited. So nervously, Hermione made the first move. She
shuffled across the common room to the side of the couch where Ron sat.
She looked down at the floor, unsure of what to say. Her eyes traveled
over to him and settled onto his feet. His ankles stuck out from his
too-short pyjamas, the firelight dancing across the little freckles on
Her chest tightened. “Ron?” she whispered.
He didn’t look at her. “Ron, please speak to me.”
He remained silent, his eyes trained on the
Hermione hugged the book to her chest and
steeled herself. Taking a deep breath, she gathered up her courage and
sat down on the end of the couch. The far end of the couch, but still,
on the couch where Ron also sat.
Minutes of empty silence passed, only the
crackling of the fire assuring her that time hadn’t gotten stuck. Hermione
thought her head was going to explode. Here they were, alone, and he
wasn’t ignoring her like he had been before. She had to say something,
“Why did you think it was Harry?” he said
this in a rush. His ears turned magenta, and the color was only magnified
by the heat of the fire.
“Why, I . . .” This was unexpected. Had
this been why he had refused to speak to her this whole week? “I assumed
it was Harry because he was the one who asked me to look at it.”
“I know I’m not smart like you, or even Harry, but,”
he turned even redder, “was it because you didn’t think I was clever enough
to come up with something like that? Or that I was too poor to buy .
. .” He could not finish the rest of the sentence.
An exasperated sigh escaped her lips before
she could do anything about it. “Ron, you know I would never
think that. You shouldn’t say those things about yourself because they
are not true!” Because you are smart, especially when you try,
she thought. And you’re loyal and brave, and every time you lose your
temper, I know it’s because you care too much. And money doesn’t matter
with me, because if it did I would, disgusting thought as it is, like
“And because I think you’re lovely.” Immediately her
hands flew up to her face and she let out a little gasp. Had she just
said that out loud?
“Sorry?” He turned away from the fire, and
for the first time looked at her.
“Nothing,” she mumbled in a rush.
“Oh.” He sounded so dreadfully disappointed.
“Right then.” He made to stand up. She rushed to her feet. It didn’t
matter that it was three in the morning. It didn’t matter that she was
alone in the common room with Ron in only her nightgown, and that to any
one stumbling in on them, it would seem highly improper. All that mattered
to her right now was that she and Ron could not leave things like this.
She stared at him, and he at her. Suddenly,
little red splotches appeared on his face, and his expression, once calm
and accepting began to turn angry. “Y’know, I thought,” he struggled
a bit, “I thought you knew me, ‘Mione. But I guess I was dead wrong.”
“WHAT?” she exploded. Exactly what was he playing
“That parchment—those rhymes—well it was
a personalized spell. You should’ve known straight off it was me asking
you—not Harry.” Then he snorted derisively. “Not that it would’ve mattered.
You were already going with Neville.”
“I cannot believe we’re having this conversation!”
she shouted, then remembering that it was indeed still three in the morning,
and that everyone was sleeping, she dropped her voice. “This is all your
fault, you know. If you wanted to go with me, why didn’t you just ask
straight off? I as much told you to do that last year.”
“My fault? MY FAULT?” He was making no effort
to be quiet. They’d get in trouble any second if he continued on in this
“Oh, this is rich!” He threw his long arms
up in the air, and went back to sit down on the couch. He started grumbling.
“I wanted to go with you,” she said at last
in quiet voice. “Just you.”
Hermione watched Ron wrap his stomach in
a tight hug. He rocked gently in his seat. This was so frustrating!
And Ron was so infuriating! She wished he’d just say something.
It had taken her a lot to say what she had just told him, and here he
was all silent and sullen. That wasn’t any sort of response.
Finally, “You don’t really mean that.”
Her mouth dropped. He was absolutely insufferable.
She was still holding Hogwarts: A History,
when something sticking out of the book caught her attention. Forgetting
Ron for a moment, she dropped the book to the floor and crouching down,
flipped it open.
“Oh great,” he muttered. “Second to a book
again.” She pretended not to hear that. Rifling through the book,
she finally found what she was looking for sandwiched between a chapter
on the Enchanted Painting Rebellion of 1798 and the various methods utilized
in the library to preserve the books in the restricted section to keep
them in good condition and to prevent them from attacking readers.
She presented the object to Ron who eyed
it suspiciously. It was a sugar quill.
“What’s this supposed to be? You want me
to do homework, or something?”
“It’s a peace offering. Please, take it.”
He took it slowly, and for a moment she felt
her fingers touch his palm. Quickly, she pulled it away, embarrassed
at the flush that was already rushing to her face. He placed it in his
“Now? Are you nutters? It’s three in the
“When did you start refusing sweets?” She
placed her hands on her hips and leveled him with her gaze.
“Fine,” he grumbled, and stuck the end of
the quill into his mouth. His surly expression vanished and was replaced
by one of surprise. “Orange sherbet,” he said, startled. “My favorite.”
“Yeah,” she said softly, and resumed her
spot at the end of the couch. “I know.”
He looked at her. “Where’d you get this?
You don’t normally have sweets, Hermione.” He frowned. “You didn’t get
these from Vick—“
“I bought it off Parvati,” she interrupted
He didn’t respond, but he didn’t say anything else.
At last, “Thank you.” He said this in a
soft, warm growl. Hermione felt a bit dizzy.
“If, if,” she stuttered, “Ron, if you wanted
to go to the ball with me, why didn’t you just ask me? You didn’t have
to do all that with the quills.”
He took a moment, not so much to think of
what to say, but to find the voice to tell her. “I wanted to make it
She made an “O” with her mouth, and impulsively,
moved closer to him.
He looked at her hand, a foot away from where
he sat, and slowly, reached out and took it in his overlarge one. Hermione
gasped softly, feeling shivers run up and down her back. They sat like
that for minutes in silence, but not one as uncomfortable as it had been
Ron finally cleared his throat when the clock
chimed that it was four in the morning. “There’ll be no more balls this
year, I suppose.”
Bravely, she squeezed his hand a little.
“We don’t need dances . . .” She couldn’t finish, but he seemed to get
the gist of her meaning. He squeezed her hand back.
“I reckon we should get to bed.” She nodded
They parted near the stairs, but something
still felt wrong. She watched him begin his way up the stairs, and before
he completely disappeared into the stairwell, she had run over to him
and pulled on the sleeve of his pyjamas.
He came back down and looked at her expectantly.
She didn’t know what to say. She rather
knew what she wanted to do—what she wanted to happen, but actually doing
it was the difficult part. She had done many things tonight that
she never thought she would, but this next step. . . But how often was
she to have an opportunity like this? She blushed. Hard. It wasn’t
likely that they were ever going to be alone like this for a long
time. That, and she didn’t think he really understood her meaning. That
Ron really didn’t know how she really, truly did feel.
Before she could think anymore, she acted.
Reaching up on her toes, one palm on his chest, the other on his forearm,
she kissed him on the side of the mouth. It was quick, but if had the
desired effect. She ran upstairs immediately afterwards, leaving Ron
at the foot of the stairs, gaping in wonderment.
Back in her room Hermione lay in bed wide
awake until she heard Parvati and Lavender stirring. She touched her
mouth, not believing what she had just done. She had simply gone and
kissed Ron. Oh my.
Yet when the sun rose on the new day, and
Hermione got dressed, she felt nervous and strange. What if last night
was some strange fluke? They both had probably been very tired, and definitely,
very emotional. Had it all been a mistake?
She bit her lip and tried to compose herself
as she made her way down the stairs for breakfast. She’d have to face
Ron in the Great Hall. How would he act? Would he say anything? So
jumbled were her thoughts that when she reached the bottom of the stairs
she didn’t notice that someone was waiting for her until she heard a light
She gaped at first but managed to recover
her composure. He scratched at his red hair a little nervously, and without
a word, inclined his hand forward towards the portrait hole. He grinned
weakly, but she beamed at him until he did the same.
Together, they walked to breakfast.