Author's Disclaimer: All characters described herein belong to the magnanimous JK Rowling.  This particular scene, however, belongs to me.

Rated: G

Spoilers: set in opening chapters of GoF


The music blared.

      "What you want – baby I got!  What you need – you know I got it!  All I'm askin' is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit) hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home (just a little bit) Mistah!"

The girl danced erratically, eyes shut tight and clutching the hair brush as if her life depended on it.

      "I ain't gonna do you wrong while you're gone. Ain't gonna do you wrong 'cos I don't wanna!  All I'm askin' is for a little respect when you come home!  Baby when you get home!"

The girl spun dangerously, her wild hair flying around her.  She struck a clumsy pose, raising an arm sharply in the air and throwing her head back.

      "I'm about to give you all my money and all I'm asking in return honey is to give me my propers when you get home!  Yeah baby when you get home!"

      The saxophone wailed from the speakers and the girl broke into a frenzied solo line-dance, swiveling her hips and wagging her head to the music.

      "Ooh you kisses are sweeter than honey, and guess what – so is my money.  All I want you to do for me is give it to me when you get home baby!"

She twirled and jumped on the bed, singing at the top of her lungs.

      "R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  Find out what it means to me!  R-E-S-P-E-C— RON!?"

She fell backwards onto the floor, hitting her elbow smartly on the bedside table.  She lay on the floor, praying the face she'd seen had just been an illusion.

      "Hermione!"  Ginny was crouched next to her, gawking in a state of shock and great concern.  "Hermione – are you okay?"  The younger looked fit to burst but bit her tongue in case her friend really was hurt.

      "Er – ow," came her reply, muffled through her hands.  She sat upright and rubbed her elbow, which did hurt rather badly.

      The girls looked at each other for a cautious moment, then burst out laughing.

      "My elbow – ooh, my elbow!" moaned Hermione, giggling embarrassedly.

      "Are you sure you're all right?"  Ron was standing over them.

      "Oh, yeah, I'll be fine."  Hermione blushed furiously as Ron bent to help her back onto the bed.

      "What on earth were you doing?" he asked, smirking at her.  Seeing Hermione in such a helpless state sent a thrilling chill of satisfaction through him.  She sat on his bed, her unruly hair even more disheveled than usual.  Her baby pink shorts clashed violently with his Chudley Cannons bedspread, and her white t-shirt was twisted tightly around her waist.  She noticed him looking at her and straightened it as she answered.

      "I found this station on the Wizarding Wireless Network that plays old Muggle songs," she said, avoiding his face and speaking instead to Ginny, who looked thoroughly amused and again on the verge of laughter.  "That song, my mum used to turn it up every time it came on the radio when I was little.  We'd dance around in the kitchen, spinning in our socks."  She smiled reminiscently.

      Ron noticed that one of her socks was missing.  "Speaking of. . . ." he pointed at her bare foot, which boasted periwinkle blue toenails.

      "Oh yeah!"  She said brightly, regaining some of her usual composure.  "I was getting dressed when the song came on."  She giggled again.  "I sort of dropped everything when I heard it and started dancing."  She began groping around on the floor looking for the missing sock.

      "Erm – anyway, Mum has breakfast ready," Ron said.  Ginny looked at him, mouthing something he couldn't understand.  He mouthed back, "What?"  She rolled her eyes, pointed at Hermione, and waved her arms like she was doing a breast-stroke.  "Swimming?" he mouthed at her, thoroughly bewildered.

      "Help her!" Ginny hissed, careful not to be heard over the radio.  A look of comprehension dawned on Ron's face.  Ginny rolled her eyes again, said, "See you downstairs," and left the room, throwing a last meaningful look in her brother's direction.

      "Do you need help?"  Ron asked Hermione's legs.  The rest of her was under his bed.  Her response was unintelligible.  He dropped to all fours and stuck his head under the bed to repeat the question.

      "It really is filthy under here, Ron," she panted.  "You should have at least cleaned a little since Harry's going to be sleeping up here tonight.  Your dad is still picking him up this evening isn't he?  Anyway, could you check under the other furniture?  I must have kicked it somewhere.  Oh, gross!"  She slid a half-eaten Chocolate Frog across the dusty floor toward him.  He chuckled, knowing from her rushed tone that she wasn't listening for answers, and pulled his head out.

      He lowered the volume on the radio as he crossed the room, scanning the floor for Hermione's sock.  "What color —" he began, glancing back at her.  "Yellow?" he whispered to himself, seeing her feet wiggling behind her.  He would never have imagined Hermione wearing yellow socks . . . or pink shorts.  Or dancing on his bed, for that matter.  He laughed softly to himself.  Kneeling on the floor, he searched under his desk and dresser.  Sighing, he stood again and looked around, running a hand through his uncombed hair.  He smiled, noticing a shock of yellow in the corner, and picked the missing sock from the windowsill.  How it had gotten there, he couldn't tell.  He walked back to Hermione and tapped her on the small of her back.

      "Wha – ow!"  Her body tensed briefly and she pushed herself from under the bed.

      "What did you do?"  He asked, peering at her worriedly.

      "I somehow forgot I was under a bed and tried to sit up," she said, shaking her head and flushing slightly.  "Oh, you found it!  Where was it?"


      She pointed at the yellow sock he still held tightly in his hand.

      "Oh," he said, going red in turn.  "It was on the windowsill."  He handed her the sock. "Hermione, why was it on the windowsill?"

      She laughed shrilly.  "Ohhh I must've dropped it there when I went to turn up the radio.  Lucky it didn't fall outside, really."

      "Yeah, lucky," he repeated quietly.  Hermione sat on his bed and put the sock on.  Ron noticed a bright orange thread had stuck in her hair and wondered if he should tell her; after all, it was probably from his bedspread.  He couldn't just leave it there.  She looked up at him and grinned.  "What's for breakfast?" she asked, standing abruptly.

      "You know, the usual – sausages, eggs. . ." his voice trailed off and Hermione became aware of his staring at her.

      "Okay," she said slowly, "well, let's go before your brothers eat it all, shall we?"

      "Yeah," he conceded, but as she turned to leave he blurt out, "but hold on a second."

      She whirled around, looking from side to side and back at him.  "Yes?"

      "Hold on," he said, walking around her.  He reached out awkwardly and groped in her hair until he found the string.

      "Ron, what are you doi – ow, you're pulling my hair!"

      "Sorry!" he stammered, holding out the thread to show her.

      "Oh," she smiled.  "Thanks, I bet they would have let me walk around all day with that stuck there."  He thought she looked grateful, and he grinned back.

      "That's what friends are for," he said sheepishly.  Then he snapped from a sort of daze and said, "I hope Fred hasn't eaten all the bacon, Mum usually can't keep up with him."

      Hermione laughed and bounced out of the room.  Ron felt the familiar warmth rising in his cheeks and followed her down the stairs.