by She's a Star
Disclaimer:Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, from whom we get a new book in a week! A week! Seven days! 7 days! Aaaaah! Can you believe it?
Er. Not that I'm excited about this, or anything.
Author's Note:I like run-on sentences and mushy Ron. :-) So sue me.
Also, this turned out to be a bit reminiscent of Silvia Kundera's 'A Series of Definitions', which is without a doubt one of my favourite R/H pieces (everyone should read it if they haven't already; it's on my favourites list), but that was quite unintentional.
Hermione, he said, and drew out the syllables.
If he were slightly more poetic, he might have thought it was like a sigh, or rain, or rose petals, or something like that.
But he didn't see it that way.
She was just Hermione, and that alone held a subtle sort of poetry.
He had hated her once. Hatehatehated her, because she thought she knew everything and maybe she did, which made it even worse because then she was right and he was wrong, like usual, and he was so sick of being wrong. He would tease her, and mock her, and bitterly hope that he'd make her cry because she deserved it for being such a know-it-all.
He hadn't thought she would really cry.
But then she did, and messed everything up, and the tears somehow shifted her in his mind, and she wasn't quite so bad anymore. She was still bossy, and still a know-it-all, but she could help him on his homework now, and she was even kind of funny, in a strange way that she didn't even realize.
And slowly, they had become friends, without him even realizing it until one night in the common room when Harry had gone to bed but they were both up late and she was helping him with his Potions essay, without his even having to ask her to.
"Thanks," he'd said, and she'd replied, with a soft sort of smile, "Well, what are friends for?"
And then he'd known.
She made things so clear sometimes, Hermione.
They faced adventure together, and he awkwardly played the role of the hero for a minute, and he woke up to find her staring nervously down at him and mumbling something about how she'd always known that he was brave.
Even he hadn't known that.
And then there was summer, and he missed her and tried not to talk about her too much, because everyone would give him funny looks when he did and he didn't know why. After all, she was just Hermione.
. . . But then he saw her again, and decided that maybe she could never really be Just Hermione, not in that sort of sense, because she tried so hard for success and the 'just' seemed degrading, almost.
And she'd been smitten with that silly, stupid git, that ridiculous fake, and it made him so mad because Hermione wasn't supposed to feel like that about anybody. (Or anybody else, at least, he'd decided after fourth year.)
It made him so angry at her sometimes, and then, unexpectedly, she was still, and he was so sorry and so guilty and he just wished that she could be Hermione again.
While she was cold, for a few flickering seconds, he began to understand.
And then she came back, and he was sososo happy; a unique kind of happiness that he had never felt before and hadn't again since then. She'd hugged Harry, grinning broadly, and then turned to him and their eyes had locked and they both knew, just like that, only for a little while, only for a split-second, but it was enough.
They shook hands instead, and it struck him just how tiny her hands were.
They felt nice, sort of, against his.
Another summer passed, and they wrote letters back and forth, and she always signed hers 'love from Hermione'. His were just 'Ron', scribbled in a messy sort of way, because he knew if he put 'love' someone would get ahold of it and tease him and accuse him of having a girlfriend.
She wasn't his girlfriend.
She was Hermione.
And then it was back to Hogwarts, and she had that gigantic ruddy cat, and he hated that cat and wondered why she always had to like such odd things. Maybe because she was odd herself, but in a way that he didn't mind so very much.
They fought a lot, and he didn't know quite why; perhaps because he suddenly felt as though he had to prove something. She was just Hermione (the 'just' came back sometimes, when she scolded him for not doing his homework or rolled her eyes when he said something stupid), and he didn't need her. He. Didn't. Need. Her.
But maybe he did.
She'd seemed perpetually tired then, and weak, and irritable, and sometimes he wanted to go and say something ridiculous just because he knew it would make her smile, but he couldn't because she was always, always, always right and he was going to be right this time no matter what.
And then the letter had come, smudged with teardrops, and she'd cried and flung herself at him, and he'd hugged her and it wasn't so bad and the 'just' disappeared again. He'd missed her.
Things became a bit clearer then.
The truth was uncovered, a temporary resolution surfaced, and as the dirty rotten rat scampered into the night, he'd found himself wishing that he had been wrong, and knew that Hermione just had to be right sometimes, and he shouldn't argue with it. He'd felt guilty about that.
Another summer passed, and this time she was coming to stay, and he was happy about it, because he missed her sometimes, and occasionally he talked about her too much and everyone would give him funny looks, and he supposed that if she was there he would stop doing this.
"Ginny," he'd instructed firmly, because she just had to understand that this was an important matter. "You don't go telling her stupid things that I did when I was little, all right? Like the time when Fred and George convinced me to put on one of your dresses? I don't want her knowing any of that."
"Why, Ron?" Ginny had inquired, her eyes sparkling in this annoying way they had.
"Because," he had said, in a frustrated sort of way. Didn't she understand?
"You seem quite nervous about her coming," Ginny continued. "Are you sure you don't fancy her-"
"She's just Hermione! Don't be bloody ridiculous!"
And that was the end of that.
So she'd come and things had been the same as always, and he'd felt his ears redden as she'd hugged him hello. Ginny had watched from the corner, with that expression she always had, like she knew too much; more than he knew, even.
He didn't like that.
And so they went to the World Cup, and it was all so much fun at first (is everything like that? he wonders sometimes, when he's in a pensive sort of mood), and then bad things started happening and she was the target and he was so scared and he just wanted to protect her and he hated that she could be hurt so easily all because of something she couldn't control.
It isn't her bloody fault! he had wanted to scream. Leave her alone! Just leave her alone! Do what you like to me, but don't touch her!
Life wasn't fair sometimes.
He was happy to come home, home to the smell of food cooking and the mismatched sofa cushions and other strange little things that assured they would all be all right, as long as they were there.
But they had to leave, of course, but this wasn't so bad, because it was Hogwarts and she couldn't be hurt there. (He tried very hard not to remember how still she'd been, once.)
And then Krum had been there - Krum, Viktor bloody Krum! - and it had been so fantastic at first, until he realized that he was just like Lockhart, just like the others. He wasn't even that good a flier, anyway. And he walked funny and his nose was crooked. How could Hermione go to the ball with him?
That's when it had hit him, when he'd found out she was going with somebody else.
Hermione was a girl, and maybe he fancied her a little, and now they could go to the ball together and who knew what would happen next?
But things didn't work out that way, and he found himself sulking alone in tattered dress robes and wondering how she had gotten her hair so silky, and why he had never noticed that she looked like that - not Hermione-pretty (for he'd always found her pretty, in a different sort of way, but over his dead body would he tell anyone that) but pretty like Parvati and Lavender and Fleur Delacour.
He'd felt betrayed, somehow, as he'd watched her drift around the dance floor with Krum, smiling up at him and looking all rosy and happy as her eyes sparkled in a way he'd never seen her eyes before.
He hated it.
And so afterward they'd yelled and screamed and slowly, she'd begun to transform back into the old Hermione as the clock struck midnight and the magic disappeared.
He liked the old Hermione better.
They hadn't talked about it after that; more important things were happening, but when they'd first seen each other after The Argument, they'd exchanged a look that somehow spoke volumes, but volumes in Troll or Mermish or something like that, and it took his brain awhile to translate. (He was a bit rusty with his foreign languages.)
Awful things had happened then. Terrible things, and they almost lost Harry and Hermione had cried a little, impatiently wiping tears from her cheeks as she mumbled about how horrid it all was.
He'd listened, quietly, because somehow he knew that that was what she needed.
Quiet seemed to take over, and Harry didn't talk much anymore, and there was something distant in his eyes that didn't seem right, didn't seem like Harry.
The year ended, as it always did, and he found himself jealous as Hermione pecked Harry on the cheek at King's Cross, even though he knew he shouldn't be jealous, not really, and it was awful of him.
And then she hugged him, and told him she hoped she'd see him over the summer, and to write to Harry and make sure that everything would be all right.
That had made it better.
And so now he was, sitting in his bedroom as sunlight peeked timidly through the window and smiling down at a letter from her.
'I'm afraid I won't be going to Bulgaria this summer - I'd rather be here, with Harry, and you, after everything that's happened. I know I need to be with the people I love.
I do hope you're keeping up with your homework, Ron. It's much easier to get it done at the beginning of the summer so you can relax throughout the rest of it.
I hope I'll visit you sometime.
He read it over to himself, softly, and couldn't help but feel a bit triumphant.
He reached the end.
Hermione, he said, and drew out the syllables.