Author's Note: This is a rewrite. This story was originally posted here at over the summer. That first version was very much a "rough draft" and I have decided to remove it from the website and post my rewrite instead. The early chapters are quite similar to the original draft version, but rewrites become extensive as the story goes on. The basic plot has stayed the same, but I have added a lot more material for The Trio, both in terms of character and in terms of action. I have upped the rating to R for language, violence and sexual situations. I hope everyone who read the rough draft will consider taking a gander at this version, which I believe is a lot better.


Chapter One: Hermione Arrives

'Ron, Fred, George, Charlie, Ginny! For HEAVEN'S sake, stop playing Quidditch and get inside and get cleaned up!'

Mrs. Weasley's shrill voice pierced the late morning air as she stepped into the back yard, wearing a robe and nightgown.

'Come on, Mum, just a few more minutes!' Fred called, pelting a Bludger at Ginny, who rolled out of the way easily and stuck her tongue out at her older brother.

'RIGHT NOW!' Mrs. Weasley barked.


'Don't make me tell you again, Fred or George or whoever you are!' Mrs. Weasley snapped, having already turned to go inside to do some last minute cleaning.

'Resistance is futile,' Charlie said, smiling, and he streaked down to the ground on his broom and leapt off lightly. Charlie Weasley--like all the Weasleys--had bright red hair and a healthy smattering of freckles. He was of medium height but had a muscular, stocky build that was shared by his younger brothers, Fred and George, the twins. They followed him and landed, and then came Ron, the youngest Weasley son. Ron was sixteen, tall, and just as freckle-faced as his brothers. He had surpassed all his brothers in height, save Bill, the oldest, who was inside helping his mother with the housework. Ginny was the only daughter, the youngest. She was petite but was slightly taller than her mother; she had darker red hair than her brothers, which she wore long, and was slender and athletic.

'Boys, Ginny, oh lord, you're all a mess,' Mrs. Weasley said as they trooped into the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley was short and had used to be quite plump, but she had lost weight in the past year and never regained it. 'Get upstairs and shower, for heaven's sake. We have guests coming!'

'It's just Hermione, Mum,' said Ron, filling a glass with cold pumpkin juice and draining it.

'Yes, well, just because she's like family to us doesn't mean we should all greet her looking like slobs, now does it?' Mrs. Weasley said archly. 'I'm sure Hermione places some importance on hygiene and her appearance. But, if you'd rather stay filthy, be my guest. You can all stay down here and help me scrub out the fireplace or clean the toilets instead.'

The Weasley children trooped en masse up the stairs to take showers.

Ron got there first, to the annoyance of his siblings. Hot water in the crowded Weasley household was a precious commodity, and usually disappeared by the time the third person took his or her morning shower.

'Three minutes, Ronnie,' Fred warned, 'or I'm jinxing your broom.'

'Yeah, yeah,' Ron said, brushing past Fred to the bathroom. Ron jumped in the shower, turned the water as hot as it would go and hurriedly scrubbed the dirt from his skin and picked up the shampoo bottle. He rolled his eyes to see that his mother had bought an enormous bottle of Gilderoy Lockhart's Fabulous and Fluffy Hair Rejuvenator. Apparently his former teacher--now residing in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, his memory having been erased--still had his line of hair care products. Ron gave the shampoo a sniff: pine needles. Well, he thought, at least it's not gardenias or something. He was just rinsing his hair clean when he heard a loud bang on the door.

'Out, now!' one of the twins yelled.

'In a second!' Ron snapped, shutting off the water and grabbing a towel.

'Fred, get his broom,' he heard George say. In a panic Ron wrapped the towel round his waist, and without even pausing to dry his hair, he flung open the door the bathroom.

'Don't even think about touching my broom,' he snapped, causing Fred, who had been on his way up to Ron's attic bedroom to get his Cleansweep, to halt.

'Wouldn't dream of it, ickle Ronnie-kins,' Fred said, smiling mischievously. Ron rolled his eyes and moved past Fred to go upstairs, and shut the door to his room. He flung open his closet door to his see Cleansweep safely tucked inside. His tiny owl, Pigwidgeon, lazily opened his eyes from beneath his wing, and then promptly fell back asleep inside his cage.

Ron toweled off and pulled on jeans and an old t-shirt, then looked in the mirror.

'Dammit, Mum,' he muttered sourly. Two weeks ago his mother had gone round the house in a frenzy with the scissors, cutting his and the twins' hair so short that it left them looking like nothing so much as bright red prickly pears.

'Why don't Bill or Charlie look like idiots, too?' he muttered, taking a comb to his hair. Bill wore his hair shoulder-length and tied back in a ponytail; Charlie kept his reasonably short, but it didn't stick up like a porcupine.

Two weeks' growth had at least restored a little length, he thought. He began to ruffle his hair with his fingers in the hopes of perhaps producing a stylishly messy look that seemed to be all the rage among teenage boys these days. In the end it wound up just looking messy. He gave up in annoyance.

Oh well, he told himself, it's just Hermione. Not like she does anything with her hair, anyway. Not like she'll care about mine.

He then gazed critically at his face. He was very freckly and his hair was streaked with blond--he always got that way in the summer holidays when he spent every minute he could outside, either helping de-gnome the garden or playing Quidditch. His long nose didn't look quite so long when his freckles came out, at least. The month he had spent working in the yard and practicing Quidditch had added several pounds of muscle to his otherwise lanky frame, and that pleased him. At least he didn't look like a walking scarecrow anymore. He smiled at his reflection, then struck a pose, flexing his biceps. In the next instant he snorted in disgust. 'Git,' he said out loud.

Face it, he told himself. You'll never be a looker. Bill got the looks in the family.

Ron sat on his bed and bent down to pull on his trainers, thinking about Hermione's arrival. They had hardly written one another at all, and a part of him felt guilty about this. He knew Hermione would be feeling a bit cut off, being the daughter of Muggles; he also knew that she would probably want to talk to someone about what had happened that night, about how Harry might be handling the loss of Sirius, about how he, Ron, was feeling. But Ron simply did not have the energy to write to her about those events. He didn't want to dwell on them, he wanted to forget them. So he had written her only two very short letters, full of nothing but the most mundane small talk he could come up with.

This thought caused Ron to tie his shoelace too tightly. He loosened the lace and put on his other shoe, when it happened. A scream filled his brain and a flash of color exploded before his eyes. He blinked furiously, trying to rid himself of the vision that was building inside his brain, but it seemed only to grow stronger with his efforts to get rid of it. Another scream, then the sound of ripping, followed by a flash of red. Blood was dripping everywhere...

Ron closed his eyes and gripped the sides of his head.

'Go away,' he muttered. He shook his head violently, willing the vision to flee, and it did, just as quickly as it had come.

Down to one a day, maybe, he thought, lying back heavily on his bed and closing his eyes again. A week ago he'd have had three or four by this hour of the morning. All month he'd been plagued by brutal visions of...something. Death, he thought. Why else is there screaming and ripping and red everywhere? The visions had started since he had been home from school.

Ron looked down at his arms. They still bore the faint traces of scar tissue from where he'd been attacked, where the tentacles of a brain had latched onto him and burned not only his flesh but his mind. He hadn't really understood Madam Pomfrey when she told him that sometimes thoughts left the worst scars. But now, after a month of visions that had only just started to dwindle, he knew exactly what she meant, and he appreciated for the first time just how Harry must feel every time he was faced with a violent vision of something horrible happening to someone else.

His parents knew, of course, about what had happened at the end of term last year, when Ron had followed Harry and Hermione (and Ginny, Neville and Luna had come along) to the Ministry of Magic and entered the Department of Mysteries in search of Sirius Black. Instead, they walked into a carefully placed trap, and a dozen Death Eaters had attacked them. Hermione had been hit by a particularly brutal spell that had nearly killed her. Sirius had died. And everyone else had been left with painful injuries and even more painful memories.

But Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were not aware of Ron's visions. He couldn't bring himself to tell him. His mother would panic and his father would only be bewildered.

No, Ron, thought firmly, ruffling his hair again, I'll just have to deal with this on my own.

'Ron, come set the table, will you?' Mrs. Weasley called.

'Coming, Mum,' Ron called back, exiting his room and descending the stairs. The kitchen was in its usual chaos, with Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and Bill preparing breakfast, Fred and George sweeping the floors--and scowling the whole time--and Charlie washing dishes. Mr. Weasley had already gone to work early that morning, but would be returning shortly with Hermione.

'Took long enough getting ready,' Fred said dryly. 'Fixing your hair? Or did you cut yourself shaving?' He and George sniggered. Ron, to his own shame, had not begun shaving yet. Every day he checked his reflection for some sign of facial hair that would signal this rite of passage toward manhood. So far all that had appeared was the barest hint of thin, pale peach fuzz on his cheeks and over his lip, so miniscule as to be unnoticeable. It gave Fred and George--who shaved daily now--no end of mirth.

'Shut up,' Ron said defensively, not looking at the twins, pleased at the very least that he was taller than they, and had developed a deeper voice.

'Stop picking on Ron,' Mrs. Weasley warned.

'It's okay, Mum,' Ron mumbled, feeling his ears get hot. He hated when his mother rushed to his defense. Just because he was the youngest boy in the family didn't make him the baby--that was Ginny, he thought. Let Mum coddle her. He began to set plates on the table and fill the water glasses, when a car pulled into the drive.

'Oh, that's Arthur and Hermione,' Mrs. Weasley announced. 'Fred, George, do something about that dust!'

George took out his wand, waved it at the pile of dust he and Fred had just swept up, and muttered 'Evanesco.' The dust vanished. Charlie finished the dishes by waving his wand and saying 'Scourgify.'

Mr. Weasley had been given the use of a new Ministry car. It was not only useful but, according to Mrs. Weasley, the least Cornelius Fudge could do 'after the shabby way he treated Arthur all last year.' The car was a Ford Taurus, newer and nicer than the old Ford Anglia Mr. Weasley used to have.

'Bill, go and help your father with Hermione's trunk, will you?' Mrs. Weasley said absently, stirring some oatmeal.

'Got eggs on my hands, Mum,' Bill said, 'in a minute.'

'I've got it,' said Ron, setting down the last water glass and heading out the front screen door.

It was very sunny now, and Ron had to squint against the brilliant daylight. He could just make out the shape of his father, a thin, balding man of medium height who wore glasses. Hermione was not with him.

'Morning, Dad,' Ron said. 'Where's Hermione?'

'She just went round back to let Crookshanks have a run-around,' said Mr. Weasley. 'Grab this end of her trunk for me, will you?'

Ron gripped the handle of one end of Hermione's trunk and together with his father, lifted it and carried it inside. It was very heavy.

'Just put it over there, Arthur,' Mrs. Weasley said, putting the pot of oatmeal on the table. 'The boys can take it upstairs later.' Mr. Weasley and Ron dropped Hermione's trunk with a loud clunk.

'I'm off back to work, dear,' Mr. Weasley announced. 'Won't be needing the car so it'll stay here. See you this evening. Be good!' He kissed his wife on the cheek.

'Bye, Dad!' came a chorus of voices, and with a loud CRACK! Mr. Weasley disappeared.

'Where's Hermione?' Mrs. Weasley asked, looking round the kitchen.

'Out back,' said Ron. 'I'll get her.'

He crossed to the back door and went outside. Again his eyes had to adjust to the bright sunlight. As his eyes came into focus he saw a girl kneeling down in the grass next to a bandy-legged ginger cat. She had long, shiny brown hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail and she was very tan. She wore a pair of denim shorts over slim, bronze legs, a brightly colored, flowery blouse with short sleeves that hugged her just right and highlighted a rather lovely bosom, and a pair of sandals that revealed brightly painted toes. Ron blinked.


'Ron! Hi!' Hermione leapt up, patting her hair.

'Wow,' he blurted, not moving, still staring. 'You look...different.' Did she ever.

'Yes,' she said, flushing slightly and patting her hair again. 'I went on holiday, Mum and Dad took me to the Italian Riviera, it was lovely.' Obviously she thought he was referring to her tan.

'No, I mean, your clothes, and your hair,' Ron said. And your legs and your cleavage...he thought.

When did Hermione get cleavage? Stop looking at her cleavage!

His eyes kept skipping over her despite his mental protests to the contrary. He couldn't help it. This was as bad as when Hermione showed up at the Yule Ball, looking all glamorous. No, it was worse. At least back then she had robes on. Now she was wearing Muggle clothes that were showing off parts he hadn't really be aware she had. Didn't she know that her shirt was a bit risqué, to say the least?

'Oh, that,' said Hermione, who didn't seem to notice that his face was a bit flushed. 'Mum took me shopping in London. It's not too...trendy, do you think? I'm not really used to dressing like this. And my hair. I mean, I usually don't bother with it, you know. But it's okay, is it?' She looked down at her outfit and then back up at Ron with a questioning look in her eye.

Ron was suddenly aware that he was standing there with his mouth open. He shut it.

'It's...okay, yeah,' he said, his eyes darting away from her.

'Really?' she asked uncertainly. 'I don't look silly or anything?'

'No!' said Ron quickly. ' look nice. So how's your summer?' he added quickly, feeling very uncomfortable for some reason. His stomach had suddenly begun to flop around like a fish out of water. He wondered if the sweets he'd eaten last night were rebelling.

'Not bad,' Hermione said. 'Well, the Italian Riviera is quite beautiful and the beaches are lovely. I would have preferred to go to Florence or Venice myself. You know, see the artwork and the gardens. Italy has such incredible artwork. And the history of the Italian renaissance wizards and witches is absolutely fascinating, how it ties in with the Inquisition. But a beach holiday is always relaxing. Of course everyone in the Riviera sunbathes naked, so that took some getting used to. I didn't, of course, Mum never would have let me, but it's quite amazing to see, really. People who simply don't care a whit if you see them in the altogether. I can't tell you how many people waved to us and said hello, and there they were with their bits just hanging out. Maybe when I'm of age I'll give it a whirl. When in Rome and everything. It does seem rather liberating, in fact. Except I imagine you'd have to be extra careful about sunscreen.'

'Right,' said Ron, taken aback. His eyes were like saucers and his ears were so hot they felt as though they might spontaneously combust. Hermione was talking about getting naked on a beach. She never talked about such things. Good lord. She'd gone mental on him.

'So how about you?' Hermione asked, picking up Crookshanks and scratching him behind the ears. He began to purr loudly.

'Me?' Ron said quickly. 'Uh, no, I didn't sunbathe naked.' He blinked and looked away.

Hermione laughed. 'No, silly, I meant how was your summer?'

'Right!' Ron said quickly, and he forced himself to laugh, feeling very stupid and not having any idea why he felt like running into the house at the moment, or why his stomach kept flip-flopping, or why his ears were so hot. 'Uh, you know. Not much. Just helping Mum with house stuff, de-gnoming the garden, playing Quidditch. The usual.'

There was a silence. He looked at her and she met his eyes and Ron felt his stomach lurch again. She put Crookshanks down and walked up to him and gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. He caught the scent of lilacs as she pulled away.

'Well, it's good to see you,' she said, smiling, and Ron noticed again how very perfect her teeth were. Of course, she had had Madam Pomfrey fix them in fourth year. The difference in Hermione's smile was striking.

'Good to see you,' he said. 'Should we go in? Mum's cooked a huge breakfast, as usual.'

'Okay,' she said, and she started for the house, her ponytail swinging. It was very shiny and almost hypnotic and Ron, following her with his eyes fixed on it, stumbled on a flagstone. He straightened up, thankful that she hadn't noticed he'd tripped, and his eyes went from her ponytail to...good lord, those shorts she had on were way too tight.

'Hermione!' Mrs. Weasley squeaked, wiping her hands on her apron as Hermione entered the kitchen. She gave Hermione a hug and then stepped back to look at her. 'Oh, my goodness, you look absolutely lovely! What did you do to your hair?'

But before Hermione could answer, the rest of the Weasley family was hugging her in turn, Ginny gushing as enthusiastically as Mrs. Weasley about Hermione's new hairstyle.

They sat down and began to eat. The conversation was mainly directed at Hermione who talked enthusiastically about her holiday in Italy and once again discussed the sunbathing habits of the natives. Fred and George gave each other sly looks and then looked back at Hermione, and Ron saw that they seemed to be regarding her in an entirely different light. But Ron couldn't help notice that Hermione was barely touching her food.

'Tuck in, Hermione,' Mrs. Weasley encouraged. 'You're looking a bit thin, I think. You need feeding up.' And to emphasize her point, Mrs. Weasley dished up healthy helpings of bacon and eggs onto Hermione's plate. She smiled and ate slowly, picking at her food. Ron, too, had very little appetite--his stomach would not seem to calm down--but he forced himself to make a good show of it, at least.

The meal wound down with Fred and George belching loudly in turn.

'Fantastic eats as usual, Mum,' said Fred heartily.

'Well, thank you dear,' said Mrs. Weasley, her jaw slightly fixed. 'But I'd appreciate it if you didn't express your satisfaction with my cooking by belching at the table.'

Everyone laughed at this, even Mrs. Weasley, who began to clear the table. Hermione offered to help, but Mrs. Weasley shooed her away. 'Nonsense, dear, you've had a long morning. You can unpack later if you like. Bill, you and Charlie take Hermione's trunk upstairs, would you?'

Charlie said, 'I've got it.' He waved his wand at Hermione's trunk as he picked up Crookshanks' crate and said 'Locomotor trunk!', and the trunk levitated and floated upstairs behind him.

'Come on, Hermione,' said Ginny, 'I'll help you unpack.'

'Oh, thanks,' said Hermione. 'See you later, Ron.' She smiled at him in a friendly way and started up the stairs.

Ron watched her go, his eyes drawn to her tanned legs. His eyes moved higher.

'Wow,' said Fred. He had moved right next to Ron and was watching where Hermione had just been. 'Since when did she get so gorgeous?'

'Italy agreed with her,' said George. 'Nice tan.'

'Nice hair,' said Fred.

'Nice legs,' said George. 'Close your mouth, Ron.'

'Shut up,' Ron mumbled. His ears were hot again.