The Price of Love
As Hermione Granger pulled out a chair and sat down at one of the tables in front of Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, she told herself for about the hundredth time that agreeing to this meeting was a mistake. She cringed as she thought about the unexpected letter she had received from Viktor Krum two days ago. He was scheduled to play in a match against England, at the end of the week, but informed her he was flying in early just to see her. He seemed so excited about it. It would have been rude to turn down his invitation. At least that was how she had tried to justify it to herself. Her gut reaction had been to write back immediately and let him down with a... well, there was no other word for it, with a lie. She couldn't very well tell him the real reason she didn't want to be seen with him in Diagon Alley.
Look Viktor, we've been over this before. You know I have feelings for someone else and that's why we can only be friends. I've explained it to you enough times. Well this someone else happens to have two nosy brothers who have turned eavesdropping into an art form. They have just opened up a shop about... oh, 50 feet away from where you want to meet, and I'd really rather they not see me. You understand, don't you?
Of course he wouldn't understand. Why didn't I just tell him I was going on holiday with my parents and would be out of town? It would have been so much easier,Hermione reflected as she sat there waiting. You know why, she answered herself. I've told him over and over that my heart belongs to someone else, but he just isn't listening. I have to make him understand that it isn't going to happen, and I have to do it in person. I owe him that much at least.
Hermione was so caught up in her own private thoughts that she failed to notice her fellow students, Parvati and Padma Patil arrive and sit down in at the table next to her.
"Hello, Hermione," Parvati said, picking up a spoon and taking a bite out of her sundae.
"OH!" Hermione replied, caught off guard. "Hello. It's a nice surprise seeing you both here. Are you buying your school things already?"
"No, just meeting some friends. You?" Padma inquired politely.
"The same," Hermione replied.
"Oh, you're meeting Harry then?" Parvati asked, rather excitedly.
"Er...," Hermione began. "Not exactly. I'm meeting..."
"OOOoo, look!" Padma squealed, pointing over her sisters' shoulder. "It's Viktor Krum."
Sure enough, there he was shuffling towards them, his brow furled, looking as sullen as ever. And not 5 steps behind him, Hermione noticed the whispering teenage girls were starting to congregate.
Oh great,she thought. I have to do this in front of his fan club.
As he opened the door and entered the steam filled bathroom, Ron Weasley got the shock of his life. Someone else was in the room with him, someone that was much too short to be any of his brothers. Although he couldn't have explained how, he knew it wasn't his sister either. As he stood there, pondering this unexpected discovery, the water shut off and he heard the shower curtain draw back. Unfortunately the steam was so thick that he really couldn't make out more then an outline of the individual in front of him, but he could tell it was definitely a woman. He took a few tentative steps closer and was disappointed to see that she already had a towel wrapped around her body. Her back was to him, she didn't know he was there yet. He watched as she bent over, letting her long, wet hair fall in front of her face, and picked a second towel up off the floor. She quickly brought it up and began rubbing her hair dry with it. Ron's eyes began to roam up her legs silently willing the towel to hike up just a bit more. Dropping the towel in her hands, the woman stood upright and as she did, she flung her damp locks behind her back. She's going to turn around, he thought a split second before she began to turn. She's going to see me. More important though was the fact he was about to discover who she was.
"Enjoying the view?" The petite brunette asked as she spun around and saw him standing there.
His eyes widened as she looked up at him and threw him a mischievous smile.
"Wh-what are y-you doing?" he stammered, as she took a step towards him and let the towel covering her body fall to the floor.
"It's your dream, Ron," she replied, seductively licking her lips and reaching for him. "I'll do anything you want."
"Blimey!" Ron cried out as he felt her hand descend to the front of his pants and start to unbutton them. "Hermione!"
She was gone. One minute she was there and now she was gone. What the hell? he thought as he was dragged back to consciousness against his will. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt himself being shaken, but he didn't want to acknowledge it. He wanted to ignore it and resume his dream. Maybe if he just ignored it, it would go away.
Hermione in the shower,he thought. Hermione in the shower. But it was no use.
"Ron, wake up," an unwelcome male voice shouted down at him.
"Go away," he muttered into his pillow, turning away from the voice.
"Get out of bed you lazy git," Fred shouted, grabbing the covers and pulling them all off the bed.
"HEY!" Ron cried, scooting his pillow down beside him in an attempt to hide his aroused state.
"Dreaming about her isn't going to help," Fred snickered as he threw a pair or jeans and a t-shirt at Ron's head.
"What..? I wasn't...," Ron sputtered, his face turning red.
"You talk in your sleep little brother," Fred laughed.
"I do not!" Ron protested indignantly.
"Blimey!...Oh Hermione... HERMIONE!" he retorted in a lusty voice.
"SOD OFF!" Ron shouted at his older brother. "I didn't say that," he continued. Not like that anyway.
"Oh but you did," Fred laughed. "And it isn't the first time."
Ron gaped at him, horrorstruck by the mere thought. He'd been having these types of dreams for years now. Bloody Hell, he thought to himself as the full implications struck home. If I talk in my sleep everyone in my dorm must know!
"It's nearly noon. I can't believe you're still in bed. Get up and get dressed," Fred demanded. "You have work to do."
"But... I'm on holiday," Ron protested as he pulled the navy blue t-shirt on over his head and then stood up and slid on the pair of jeans.
Less then five minutes later, a very disgruntled Ron stomped his way down the stairs and into the kitchen, followed closely by his older brother.
"Here," Fred said dropping a pair of shoes at Ron's feet. "Put these on."
"Leave me alone, "Ron barked back, kicking the shoes across the kitchen and then throwing himself in a chair where he proceeded to glare at the table. "I told you, I'm not going."
"Going where?" Ginny questioned from a chair opposite her fuming brother.
"Diagon Alley," Fred replied. "Hermione's there with Krum."
Ginny froze, the sandwich she was about to take a bite of hovered an inch from her open mouth for a split second and then she let it drop. It took her a bit longer to close her mouth however. "Oh...," she finally managed to say, studying Ron closely.
"I can't believe this," Fred snapped. "You aren't gong to do anything? You're just going to sit there and... brood?"
"I don't brood," Ron replied angrily.
"Oh please!" Ginny laughed under her breath. But not so quietly that her brother failed to hear her. His eyes immediately locked on hers and he proceeded to glare daggers at her.
"Fred's right," Ginny informed him, staring right back into his angry eyes, unwilling to flinch. "Go talk to her."
"Why not?" Ginny pressed.
"Because he's a bloody coward," Fred answered her. "And to think you have the nerve to call yourself a Griffindo..."
"Oy, what's taking so long?" a familiar voice asked from behind them. The trio turned to see George's head, floating in the fireplace surrounded by green flames. "You better get moving little bro, or you're going to lose your bird."
"She's not my..."Ron started to object.
"Then why do you moan her name in your sleep?" Fred snickered.
"Sod off!" Ron barked.
"Temper. Temper," George shot back. "Better save some of that for Krum. Last time I checked, that Great Bulgarian Git had his hands all over her."
These words had a visible effect on Ron. What had been mere irritation with his brothers instantly turned into full on rage. His eyes burned as he clenched his fists tightly at his side trying not to picture that hook nosed, duck footed, Bulgarian Prat touching... kissing... his Hermione.
Ginny started at her brother's comment. Her mouth opened again in shock. "That's a lie," she stated confidently when she found her voice.
"Well okay, so he was just holding her hand," George admitted, "but that's how it starts you know?"
"If you don't make a move you're going to lose her," Fred added.
"She's made her choice." Ron growled, stubborn to the end, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at the others.
"How can she have made her choice?" Ginny questioned. "When she doesn't even know how you feel."
"She knows how I feel about Krum."
"Not about Krum, you imbecile. How you feel about HER. You can't expect her to choose you, if she doesn't even know you are interested."
"Who said I'm interested?"
All three of them rolled their eyes."Oh for heaven sakes Ron. EVERYBODY knows!" Ginny retorted in an exasperated tone.
"Everybody EXCEPT Hermione, you mean," George corrected her.
"Oh fine!" Fred sighed. "Be a stubborn arse. If you aren't going to put a stop to it, I will." There was a loud crack and he vanished from the kitchen.
"That's right," George added in a mischievous voice. "No future sister-in-law of mine is going to cavort around with another man. Even if he is an International Quidditch Star. We'll send her your love Ron..."
"YOU BLOODY BASTARDS BETTER NOT..." Ron roared, as he jumped out of his chair. The rest of his sentence died on his lips as George's head smiled wickedly and vanished from the fire.
"MUM! "Ron shouted, running over to the corner and retrieving his shoes. "Where's the floo powder?"