Title: Ron's Admirer pt. 1/2
Disclaimer: They're all from JRK's genius mind. I mean, I wish I owned Harry, but unfortunately, I can only pretend.
Summary: Ron has a secret admirer, Harry finds the entire thing highly amusing, and Hermione's jealous of Luna. Ron's POV
Pairings: Ron/Luna, Harry/Hermione, and some Ron-- Hermione
Author's Notes: My first Ron/Luna fic. I've had this written for a fairly good amount of time now, I've just never gotten around to posting it. There's quite a substantial Harry/Hermione sub-plot because, I loveth the H/Hr. However, I really wanted to attempt R/L and I had a lot of fun writing from Ron's point of view and getting a chance to write H/Hr from someone else's perspective.
The problem, I decided, in being part of the famous trio was that I all too often got shrugged into the background. Oh, I wasn't bitter about it—hardly ever, anyway. It was just something I'd long since come to accept.
On one side there was the hero. Quiet, brooding, a little bad-tempered but generally kind and chivalrous. Famous and noble, everyone wanted to be him. Or at least date him.
On the other side was the heroine. Cheerful, bossy, and altogether too confident, she was far too bright and clever. While she intimidated many, nearly everyone respected her. Plus, she had the added bonus of being best friends with two of Hogwarts most devilishly handsome bachelors.
And then there was me. No one really wanted to be me and no one particularly respected me. I had a knack for saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Not to mention, I had the emotional range of (how did Hermione put it?)—a teaspoon.
Ahh, Hermione. Such a loyal and supporting friend.
Although, as I discovered one fateful and very mortifying day at breakfast, apparently someone did want to date me.
"Shut up, Harry," I said through gritted teeth.
Harry, who was laughing so hard he was having trouble breathing, let out a snort and chortled louder.
"Shut up, Harry," I snapped again, dangerously close to slaughtering the smug git.
Harry was grabbing the edges of the table to hold himself up, he was laughing so hard.
"SHUT UP, HARRY!"
Oh, good. Now everyone in the Great Hall was staring. Good move, Ron. Very smooth.
This, of course, only heightened my best friend's mirth.
I ground my teeth together. "Shut your hole, Harry!"
What, may you ask, caused Harry Potter, the normally reserved and brooding hero, to dissolve into such a fit of giggles? (For that is what they were. Giggles. Nothing manly about it.)
It appeared that I had a secret admirer. That is, if appeared meant painstakingly and embarrassingly obvious.
As evidenced by the 101 (oh, yes, I counted. There were, exactly, 101.) paper, pink hearts dropped into my plate, all saying, very obviously:
To: Ronald Weasley
Love: Your Secret Admirer
I kept alternating between embarrassingly mortified, flattered, shocked, and angry with the moron who called himself my best friend.
"SHUT UP, HARRY!"
Hermione glanced at me, glanced at the 101 pink hearts, and then glanced at Harry. I studied her expression, suddenly desperate to know what she thought of the entire situation. As per usual, I found her face to be an unreadable mask.
"Oh, Harry, be quiet," she said, giving him a withering look.
Harry, to my complete surprise, shut up.
Huh? What the hell? What? How in the bloody hell did she do that?
Hermione started flicking through the hearts, face turning into a frown and eyes narrowing. "Who sent you these?" she asked.
I blinked. Who did send them? I glanced furtively around the Great Hall, studying the students as my eyes passed over them. One of them out there liked me. Not Harry, me. The entire thing would have sounded absurd had it not been happening.
My gaze settled on Hermione again and I found some kind of hope die in my chest. From the distinct frown on her features, I took a wild leap and decided that she probably hadn't sent them. Not that I wanted her to or anything. It was just good to narrow down the list of suspects.
"It says it's from a secret admirer, Hermione," I said, voice a little bit sharper than I intended. "How would I know who sent them?"
"Well," she said, sounding more irritable by the second. "You must have some idea. You probably led on one of the younger students without realizing it."
"Led on one of the younger students?" I repeated, horrified. "Hermione, I'm telling you, I don't know who sent those!"
She set the hearts down, a speculative look on her face. Her eyes caught Harry's and they shared a long, deep, meaningful look. They were clearly saying something to each other, however, just what they were saying was a complete and utter mystery to me.
Annoying Thing Harry and Hermione Do Number 1: Speak through "the look."
They clearly reached some sort of telepathic agreement because Harry cleared his throat and looked at me. "Ron," he said, voice serious. "It's very important that you try and think of someone who could have sent these."
I stared at him. Did he not hear the first hundred times I made it very CLEAR that I did not know who sent me these stupid, heart shaped valentines?"Malfoy!" I breathed, suddenly. "It must have been Malfoy! He must be... he must be..."
Harry's face paled. "Malfoy?" he repeated. "You think that Malfoy is your secret admirer?"
There were loud snickers from around us. Stupid first and second years. Always listening to conversations that didn't concern them.
"No, Harry," I ground out. But thanks for announcing that to the rest of the school. "I think he sent them to embarrass me."
Harry and Hermione shared another long look. What the hell were they discussing? And why couldn't they just say it aloud? Harry gave a barely imperceptible nod and that seemed to mean Hermione's cue to take up the discussion.
It was very, very annoying.
"No, I don't think so," she said. Her tone indicated that she was frantically making some kind of connection in her head. "No," she said again. "Too much work for Malfoy. He would have just sent one and it would have been louder and flashier. No, this took a lot of time. Only someone who was really serious would have bothered with 100 separate hearts."
"101," I corrected absently.
Harry and Hermione stared at me.
"I'm just saying," I muttered, a tad miffed.
Harry grinned cheekily. "Ron's got a secret admirer!" he said. "Someone's in looovveeee with Ron..."
"Shut up, Harry."
"Someone wants to snog you and marry you and have your babies...."
Damn it! I was starting to blush. "Shut your trap, Harry!"
"Oi, Ron?" Dean yelled out from the other end of the table. "Can I be your best man?"
"Hey!" Harry said loudly. "If anyone gets to be his best man, it's going to be me!"
"SHUT. UP. HARRY!"
"What about me?" Seamus hollered out.
Hermione huffed out a long breath and sent me an annoyed look. What? What did I do? How was this my fault?
I tried to catch her eye and do that whole "speaking without talking" thing her and Harry seem so fond of, but I only managed to annoy her further.
"Ron," she said sharply. "Is there something on my face?"
Damn. Busted. "No, no... of course not. I wasn't staring at you. I was, uh... looking at the wall."
Hermione gave a pained sigh and opened her book again, holding it up in front of her face. "Honestly," I heard her mutter to herself. "Such immaturity..."
"What were you and Harry going on about before?" I asked, as Hermione and I made our way up to the common room after our prefect rounds.
Hermione gave me a confused look and furrowed her eyebrows. "When?"
"You know," I said, with a wave of my hand. "At breakfast, what was going on? Why was it so important to know who my secret admirer was?"
"Oh!" she said. "That! Well, you know..."
I stared at her. Actually, Hermione, communicating without talking isn't my strong suit. Would you please just explain it to me?
"No, I don't know," I snapped. "Which is why I was asking."
She sighed. "Okay, but you're not going to like the answer."
"I like not knowing the answer even less."
"Well, it's just that..." she trailed off and chewed her lip thoughtfully. "We're in the middle of war, Ron. And we just... we need to be careful."
What kind of a crap explanation was that?
"What kind of an explanation is that?"
She heaved another long sigh. "There might have been a possibility that..."
"Yes?" I prodded.
"That... that someone was trying to use you to get to Harry."
I felt a breath of air leave my chest. Right. Of course, Hermione's first thoughts would be about Harry. Figured. Not like they were my stupid valentines or anything.
"Oh, you're getting angry..." Hermione said, sounding a little fearful. "I knew this would upset you... Harry!"
"No, Hermione!" I ground out. "I'm Ron. Ron...."
Hermione clamped a hand over my mouth and jerked her head down the hall. There was Harry, deep in conversation with none other than Loonie Lovegood. I didn't see what the big deal was, and was, quite frankly, more distracted by the fact that Hermione's hand was pressed firmly against my mouth. If I moved my lips slightly I'd be able to...
Hermione pulled her hand away and yanked me down the hall we had just come from. She poked her head around the corner, watching them in clear suspicion. "He's talking to her again..."
"So?" I demanded, more than a little on edge at this point.
"Shush!" she admonished. "He talks to her a lot."
"So?" I asked again.
She shifted her eyes to the floor, looking a little sad. "I know it's stupid but... I feel like Harry keeps stuff from us. Not that he's obligated to tell us everything. But it's like... it's like he feels more comfortable talking to Luna than to m—us."
I felt a very strong knee-jerk jealous reaction coming on. Fortunately, after being friends with Hermione for nearing six years now, I was smart enough to clamp down on it. Yelling myself hoarse at her would only succeed in bringing about a blistering row that would probably involve a long week in which we'd refuse to talk to each other.
"Hey," I said, trying to sound soothing. "You know that's not true. We're Harry's best friends, Hermione. So what if he's found some kind of connection with Loonie? That's great if he feels comfortable with her. But that doesn't make us any less his best friends."
Hermione's eyes filled and next thing I knew she was hugging me. "Thanks, Ron," she whispered. "I'm really sorry about the valentines. Of course you'd have a secret admirer. It was silly of us to think anything else."
"I... err... uh... I..."
Hermione was hugging me! Hermione was in my arms! I could smell her! I was holding her! Hermione was... was... pulling away from me...
"I'll see you later," she said, hurrying off. "I'm going to go to the library."
I could do nothing but stare at her as she took off, still feeling her small body in my arms. Feeling slightly dazed, I turned, planning on continuing back to the common room. I rounded the corner, completely forgetting that Harry and Luna Lovegood were still involved in a deep and meaningful conversation.
Whatever they were talking about abruptly ended as I walked towards them.
"Hello, Ronald," Loonie greeted dreamily, her large eyes wide and unblinking behind her horn-rimmed glasses.
Harry, damned him, seemed altogether too amused. "Hey, Ron. What did you decide to do with all your hearts?"
Luna's large eyes blinked slowly. "Yes..." she said, a breathy note to her voice. "What did you do with them?"
I actually still had all of them. It probably would have been smart to burn them. Unfortunately, after thinking about it some more, I was back to being flattered. Someone liked me. Someone liked me enough to spend time and energy cutting out (or magicking out, whatever) 101 paper, pink hearts.
The fact, however, that I had no idea who sent them was slightly disconcerting. My brain had easily filled in the blanks for me, painting me a picture of a girl who bore a certain likeness to Fleur Delacour, but was as smart as Hermione (only she argued with me a whole lot less).
So, naturally, faced with the dreamy expression on Luna's face and the smirk on Harry's, I lied.
"I threw them out."
Luna studied me for a moment. "Oh," she whispered, sounding completely unaffected by the entire thing. "You should have kept them. Love is very important, you know."
Odd girl, Luna Lovegood. Odd girl.
"Right, I'll keep that in mind," I said in a dismissive tone.
She grinned broadly. "That's wonderful news, Ronald!"
She was insane. Completely and utterly insane.
"Right! Quite right." I cleared my throat. "Ready to head back up to the common room, Harry?"
Harry's head snapped up, an unreadable expression on his face. "Yeah, okay. I'll see you later, Luna."
I was surprised when Harry reached out and gently squeezed her shoulder. They shared an intimate smile as he did so.
Oi! Shoulder touching! Intimate smiles! Long, quiet drawn out talks!
Maybe Hermione had a point, after all. Clearly Harry saw something in Loonie Lovegood that none of the rest of us did. Since I was never one for being subtle and gentle, I said the first thing that popped into my mind.
"Harry, what the hell is going on between you and Loonie?"
Harry glowered at me and glanced behind him to make sure that Luna was out of earshot. "I wouldn't expect you to understand," he said, voice tightly controlled.
Uh, oh. Bad-tempered alarm bells were going off everywhere in my head. Harry didn't look like he was about to start yelling, but looks (especially when it came to Harry) could be very, very deceiving. And after all the yelling Harry did last year—well, I'd learned to tread carefully.
"Bloody hell, Harry! She's completely mad. Have you met her? She's off her bloody rocker. I'm telling you, you have to be careful around girls like that!"
Harry went very still and got that dangerous look in his eyes that generally meant shouting wasn't too far behind. "You don't know the first thing about Luna," he snapped. "You've never bothered to take the time to know her. You just base her on an image, you base her on what others say about her." Harry met my eyes. "I can relate to that."
Thank Merlin he didn't yell all that. As it was, he managed to make me feel downright guilty. With a vague sound of disgust, Harry looked away and started stalking (seriously, stalking) back towards the common room.
I stood awkwardly behind him for a moment, cursing the fact that there was clearly a missing link between my mouth and my brain. I hurried to catch up with him, but he refused to acknowledge my presence. Damn, that guilt was coming back in spades.
Think, Ron's brain, think! What would Hermione do? Well, for starters, she wouldn't have made such a moronic comment in the first place. But if she had, well... first her eyes would have filled with tears (they always did when Harry yelled at her), then she'd probably apologize and hug him, maybe giving him a quick peck on the cheek for good measure. Only then would she pull away, eyes staring into his, and ask in a quiet voice if he wanted to talk.
Which, of course, awww... who could resist that?
However, I definitely wasn't going to hug Harry. The cheek kissing was also out. Also tears were out of the question on account of the fact that I was a guy. Which left the eye staring and the quiet voice.
This was going to be interesting.
"Harry, mate," I began nervously, trying and failing to catch his eye. "Do you, err... want to talk?"
We reached the Fat Lady. "Open sesame," Harry barked at her.
I know, not the most creative password, but it was so obvious that there was a certain brilliance in it.
Harry stomped all the way up to our dorm room, apparently thinking over my request. Before entering, he paused and turned in my direction.
"Look," he said shortly. "There are things that Luna understands about me that you and Hermione can't."
Oh, boy, did I ever hope Hermione never heard those words. I swallowed heavily. "Like what?"
Harry stared at me for a long time. "Luna's mother died when Luna was eight."
"Oh," I said, feeling uncomfortable. Right, here we were again. Harry was in one of his "I'm sad because my parents died horrible deaths" moods. He seemed to think that just because both my parents were alive, well, and happily married, I couldn't understand his pain.
Okay. He may have had a point there.
Harry sighed. "Ron, just... give her a chance. I think she'd surprise you."
A chance at what? Was he purposely being this vague?"
"I, uh—sure, Harry."
Harry smiled thinly and I followed him into the dorm room.
"He's talking to her again."
I looked at Hermione blearily. "Huh?"
"Honestly!" she said huffily. "Don't you ever pay attention to what's going on around you?"
Not at this time in the morning, I didn't. Especially not after having dreams all night long about a Fleur Delacour look-alike who wasn't part Veela, didn't have the stupid accent, and enjoyed fishing (really, fishing) for books. It was all very disturbing. I had a feeling my subconscious mind may have been trying to hint at something, but I really didn't want to dwell on it.
"Who's talking to who?"
Hermione nudged me in the ribs and tilted her head towards the Ravenclaw table. "Harry's talking to Luna again. He hasn't even bothered to say good-morning yet!"
I yawned widely. "Don't speak ill of Luna in front of him, Hermione. He gets all bothered by it."
Hermione looked troubled. I felt bad, so I decided to help her out.
"So you think there's something going on between the two of them?"
From the way Hermione was looking at me, it was safe to assume I probably wouldn't be turning 17 this year. Fortunately, I was saved from Hermione's wrath by a very large brick that hurtled from the sky and landed on my head.
The brick bounced off my head and dropped itself into my eggs. Smashing. Looking down at it, I discovered that it wasn't a brick, but a very large, very edible looking block of fudge.
On it, in flashing red and white letters it said:
I know how important food is in your life.
Your Secret Admirer
"Aha!" I cried triumphantly. "It's someone who pays attention to my eating habits! Someone who watches me when I eat..."
I flicked my eyes around the Great Hall, searching for someone that had their eyes on my plate of food. Discovering nothing, my eyes finished their rounds by settling on the girl sitting next to me. Hold on! Hermione was staring at my food! Hermione sent me the fudge! Hermione liked me! Hermione was my secret admirer!
"Honestly, Ron, from the sheer amount of food you manage to consume... well, it's not that difficult to notice." Hermione cleared her throat. "Clearly whoever it is lacks originality. Pink hearts? Chocolate? Is there anything more cliched?"
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I blushed to the tips of my ears and removed the block of fudge from my plate so I wouldn't have to look at Hermione. Besides, it wasn't like I wanted Hermione to be my secret admirer. I concentrated on eating the food the fudge hadn't managed to destroy, stomach rumbling as I did so. The entire ordeal had succeeded in making me inexplicably starving.
"Ha! Remembered your friends, did you? Surprised we still exist, are you? Well! If you think you can just... just waltz over here and expect me to read over your Potion's essay, you have another thing coming!"
I started choking on my eggs. What in the bleeding hell? What did I do now? I glanced hesitantly up at Hermione, surprised to see that her furious gaze was not in my direction. Interesting. I needed a moment to savor that.
Okay. Moment over.
Harry was staring at Hermione, eyes very wide. "What... what are you..."
"Oh, don't even pretend that you don't know!" she snapped. "Apparently, Ron and I don't merit a 'good-morning'!"
Harry glanced over at me helplessly. "I said good-morning to you, didn't I?"
I felt a stirring of pity. "Sure did, mate."
This only seemed to incense Hermione further. "Oh, really," she hissed. "So I don't warrant a 'good-morning,' then?"
Harry looked completely and utterly bewildered. Hermione didn't usually snipe at him like that. Come to think of it, mostly she sniped at me like that. Ahhh, well. It was good to not be on the receiving end, anyway.
Suddenly, Harry's eyes darkened. Uh, oh. I glanced back at Hermione, curious to see how she was taking it. Remember, Hermione! Harry has a temper! We learned this last year! Sheesh!
I was surprised to see her on her feet, her eyes growing brighter. Batten down the hatches, Harry and Hermione were about to get into a fight. Absolutely wonderful way to start the day.
"This isn't about you," Harry retorted. "This has to do with Luna, doesn't it?"
Hermione took a step closer to him. "Of course this isn't about Luna!" she said shrilly. "I'm talking about you! You're the one making it about Luna!"
"It is about Luna!" Harry replied, voice low. "If I had just been talking to Ginny you wouldn't have had a problem with it!" Harry took a step closer to her, fists clenching.
Annoying Thing Harry and Hermione do Number 2: When they fight, they actually step closer together!
Next Hermione's eyes will fill with tears. You'd think one of them would back off then, wouldn't you? But... no... oh, no. They actually get closer! It was maddening. And also, very, very annoying.
"It's not!" Hermione protested, face flushing. Tears! There were tears! Aha! And that barely imperceptible step forward! "I just wish..." her voice dropped. "I just wish you felt as comfortable talking to me as you do her."
Harry stared at her for a very long time. Finally, he grinned. "C'mon, Hermione," he needled. "That's not true. Would it help if I just said 'good-morning?'"
Clearly something in Harry's grin was contagious because Hermione softened. I hated it when Harry used "the grin." The one thing known to win over Hermione when all else failed. Trust me, I'd seen it in action many a time. Unfortunately, my smile never seemed to have such an effect on her.
Hermione let out a breath, blushing a little as she did so. "Well... I suppose so."
Another grin. "Well, then.... Good morning, Hermione. How are you today?"
"Suddenly better, actually. How are you?"
More grinning. Grinning at each other, to be precise. Ugh.
"Oi!" I said loudly. "I'm just great, too!"
Two pairs of eyes suddenly flicked over at me in slight surprised. Yes, I was still here. Thanks, guys. You two are the best friends ever!
"Ron got another item from his secret admirer," Hermione shared as she and Harry sat down.
I glared at her. "That's right," I said snippily. "I got another item from my secret admirer? So what?"
To my surprise, Harry didn't even look faintly amused. "Really?" he said. "What did you get?"
I gestured to the brick of chocolate sitting next to my plate.
Harry gave me a grin. Aww, wasn't that just sweet of him. Unfortunately for him, his grin did not effect me in the same way it effected Hermione. It horrified me slightly, however, to see that Neville was beginning to grin like a complete and giant doofus. Even Lavender and Pavarti were beginning to swoon. A quick glanced at Hermione showed that she had just melted into a puddle. Bleck. Harry's grin wasn't that great.
"It's obviously someone who knows you very well," Harry said, still grinning, reading the inscription on the chocolate.
I grinned back at him. Drat! Stupid mouth! Stop smiling! Okay, so maybe there was something highly infectious about Harry's smile. I was not going to dwell on it.
"Yeah," I said. "It was awfully nice of them, wasn't it?"
Harry leaned back and considered me. "Did you have any idea who it is?"
I shook my head. "None. None at all."
Hermione glanced over at the chocolate, her eyes teasing. "Anyone you want it to be?"
I think my gaze my have stayed on Hermione a tiny bit too long. "Uh... no," I said, beginning to sweat a little, "'Course there isn't."
Things got much more interesting that evening. I had stayed late on the Quidditch pitch practicing for our game on Saturday and returned to Gryffindor tower alone. I was planning on a shower and some serious sleeping.
Entering the boys' sixth-year dormitory, I couldn't quite contain my shocked scream.
There, fluttering in front of my four-poster bed was a banner that read:
Weasley Will Always be My King
Ronald's Secret Admirer
I did the only thing I could. I bolted. All I knew was that I had to get away: far away. I ran all the way down the stairs and skidded to a halt in the common room. Where the hell were my two best friends?
I stumbled over to Seamus and Dean, mortified to find that I was gasping. "Have you seen Harry and Hermione?"
Dean and Seamus looked up from their chess game, less than thrilled at the interruption.
Seamus winked at me. "I think they're in the library." He smirked and dropped his voice. "Studying, if you know what I mean."
Dean snickered—apparently Seamus had just made a wildly funny joke. "Yeah," Dean said with more winking. "Studying."
The hell? Had they even met Hermione? "Clearly, you don't know Hermione very well," I snapped. "She takes her studying very seriously."
They dissolved into a fit of howling laughter.
"Good one, Ron!" Dean snorted.
"Absolutely classic!" Seamus managed, clutching at his stomach.
"'Hermione takes her studying very seriously!'" Dean repeated loudly. This was too much for them to take and they rolled around on the floor, hitting it with loud punctuated gasps.
I glared at them and stomped away. "Bunch of stupid, swarmy gits," I muttered to myself as I made my way to the library. There I discovered Harry and Hermione sitting in a corner table, books piled up between them. They appeared to be studying. The irony of it did not escape me.
"Honestly," I heard Hermione say as I neared their table. "The test is only—"
"Two days away," Harry finished. "I know. It was certainly good of him to—"
"Warn us in advance!" Hermione continued, beginning to look angry. "Expecting us to know everything we've covered this year!" Hermione began tugging nervously at her hair. "Oh, he's out to get us, I just know it! He'll put something on there—"
"We've never covered before." Harry let out a long sigh. "There's no way, Hermione. We'll never be prepared for this thing."
Annoying Thing Harry and Hermione Do Number 3: Finish each other's sentences.
They did it all the time without noticing. Once they fell into their rhythm, they could go on for hours. More maddening still, most of the time I couldn't even figure out what they were talking about. It was very, very annoying. Not to mention creepy.
"Oh!" Hermione said, looking faint. "We'll just... study harder! I refuse to let Snape win!" A sudden thought struck her. "Do you think there'll be a practical part of the exam?"
"I hope not," Harry breathed, beginning to look worried.
Uh. Sure. I cleared my throat. My two very frazzled looking best friends stared at me, clearly only just noticing that I was standing there.
"What..." I managed, feeling just a touch of panic. "What exam?"
Hermione looked cross. "The Potion's exam! The one that's—"
"Totally comprehensive and will determine your grade level for this quarter," Harry finished, in a mock imitation of Snape's voice.
"Right!" Like I had a hope in hell of passing that. "Anyway," I said hurriedly, seeing a dangerous "lecture glint" in Hermione's eyes. "I received another surprise from my admirer."
Finally. I had their attention. I took a seat and launched into an explanation of the banner I'd discovered. After I'd finished, Hermione leaned forward, looking triumphant.
"Ron," she said, very excited. "Do you know what this means?"
"Someone's decided to drudge up that horrid song from last year?"
"No," Hermione said, eyes glinting. She glanced at Harry and they even indulged themselves in a "look." Aww, how sweet of them.
"What?" I demanded testily.
"Ron, the banner was in your dorm room. To get access to your dorm room, the person would have to be in—"
"Gryffindor," Harry finished.
"Hey!" I said, beginning to get excited. "That's right! Well... that narrows the list down!"
I looked at Hermione, eager for more insight, only to see that her undivided attention was on Harry. I followed her gaze, surprised to see that Harry was staring down at his hands, looking very uncomfortable. His face was turning an interesting shade of red.
"Goodness, Harry..." Hermione said, leaning forward in worry. "What's wrong?"
I began to get a very bad feeling.
Harry blushed an even deeper shade of red. "I, err... I, uh... I sort of... maybe..."
"For God's sakes, Harry!" Hermione said shrilly. "Out with it!"
"I hung the banner up," Harry all but whimpered, staring intently at his hands.
Hermione and I stared at him, completely aghast.
"You?" she squeaked.
Harry only nodded and started shifting uncomfortably.
"You're..." I muttered, feeling the colour drain from my face. "You're... my secret admirer?"
Harry finally looked up, completely startled. "No!" he said quickly. "No... I, uh... it was a favor..."
"Thank Merlin!" I exclaimed, sagging a little in relief.
"Hey!" Harry said, sounding irritated. "And if I was? What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, Harry," Hermione answered absently. "You'd make a great secret admirer."
Um. Okay, Hermione.
"Anyway," I said. "You know who it is, then?"
Harry started shifting uncomfortably again. "Yeah... I guess..."
Shift. Shift. "It's a secret," he mumbled. "I'm not really supposed to tell you."
"WHAT???" I hollered. "What d'you mean, you're not supposed to tell me???"
"Mr. Weasley!" Madam Pince cried, sounding faint. "Keep your voice down!"
I scowled. "What d'you mean, you can't tell me?" I demanded again—though in a much quieter tone.
Harry shrank down in his seat, looking embarrassed. "I promised I wouldn't."
"So?" I said hotly. "I'm your best friend! You have to tell me!"
"Look, Ron," he said, sitting up a little straighter. "Do you know what it's like to like someone who doesn't like you back?"
Involuntarily, my eyes seemed to shift to Hermione. "Uh... maybe..."
"Then you know it's not a very nice feeling," he said, giving me a piercing stare.
"Harry, you're being unfair," Hermione said quietly. "How's he ever going to do anything about it unless you tell him?"
"Yeah!" I demanded. "What she said!"
Harry sighed. "Oh, alright." He thought for a moment. "Luna," he said. "Luna's your secret admirer, Ron."
"What?" I yelled. "LUNA? LOONIE?"
"MR. WEASLEY! I WILL NOT ASK AGAIN!"
"What?" I hissed. "Loonie's my secret admirer?"
"Oh!" Hermione said, recognition lighting up her face. "That's why you've been talking to her so much lately, Harry!"
Thanks, Hermione, that helped the situation ever so much.
"Yeah," Harry said. "Also because she's my friend."
"Hold it! Let's back up a second here!" I said, beginning to feel panicky. "Luna did all those things for me? Luna likes me?"
"Well, I suppose Harry wants her to like him," Hermione cut in, going a little bit red.
Huh? What was going on? Who were we talking about?
"Don't be ridiculous, Hermione," Harry snapped. "I'm ecstatic that Luna likes Ron... though, I can't, for the life of me, figure out why."
"Ridiculous?" Hermione repeated incredulously, slamming a book shut for good measure. "I'm being ridiculous???"
"MISS GRANGER!" Madam Pince yelled out, sounding shocked.
Harry huffed out a breath. "I don't have time for a snit, Hermione..."
"SNIT???" Hermione shrieked. "Did you just say I was having a snit?"
"As fascinating as this is," I said quickly. "Can we get to the part were Luna likes me?"
"Well, what else would you call it?" Harry demanded, looking angry.
Oops, that wasn't directed at me. I was beginning to get the feeling that neither of them were listening to me, actually.
Hermione stood up angrily, knocking her chair backwards in the process. She glared down at Harry, huffing and puffing. Harry, to his credit, didn't so much as flinch under her furious gaze.
"MISS GRANGER, MR. POTTER, AND MR. WEASLEY, PLEASE TAKE YOUR PERSONAL PROBLEMS OUT OF MY LIBRARY!!!"
Hermione, with one last furious glare in Harry's direction, gathered up her books and stomped angrily out of the library. Wow. Hermione was stomping away from someone who wasn't me. I needed a moment.
Okay. Moment over.
I glanced over at Harry. "Merlin," I said in a shocked voice. "What did you do? She was really angry."
Harry stared moodily down at the table. "I'm, uh... not really sure..."
"She was really angry..."
"No, I mean, really angry. I don't think I've seen her angrier."
"Harry," I breathed. "I don't remember her ever getting that angry with me before. And she's been awfully furious with m—"
"Seriously, what did you do?"
"I told you!" he said angrily. "I don't know. Can you just drop it?"
"Fine," I muttered. "Everyone's in such a fine mood tonight."
Harry shot me a look, but didn't say anything.
"Harry, is Luna really my secret admirer?"
"Yes," Harry said through gritted teeth. "She's liked you for ages."
"Yes," he said again, sounding less annoyed this time. "She's... quite persistent when she puts her mind to something."
"I... noticed..." Luna? Loonie? My secret admirer was Loonie? The entire thing was making my head hurt.
Harry let out a pained sigh. "Give her a chance."
I considered him for a moment, suddenly getting a brief flash of insight. Hermione would have been so proud. "Hey..." I said. "Was Hermione, right? Do you fancy Luna?"
"No," Harry said immediately. "No."
"But... you said that she understood—"
"Death," Harry interrupted, looking grave. "Is what she understands about me. We're connected because we've lost people we love."
"Well, that's... bloody depressing, actually."
Harry merely nodded and I began to wonder why he hadn't just told that to Hermione in the first place. It sure would have saved us a whole lot of arguing.
Harry stood, looking sad. "Be gentle on her, at least. Rejection's difficult."
"I, uh... right, Harry. Smashing. Excellent."
If I did decide to reject her, that was. Not that I did fancy her or anything—I definitely didn't. But Harry was right, Luna did deserve a chance. And, yeah, okay, she wasn't the sanest witch on the block, but she did have several things going for her. Now that I thought about it, it was awfully brave of her to follow us to the Department of Mysteries last year, especially not knowing any of us particularly well. She could have been seriously injured, or died, but she still went and, I think (though I was really quite fuzzy on the details) she probably saved my arse several times. Anyone who's saved my arse deserved a chance.
Plus, she was in Ravenclaw, which meant that she had to have brains. Let's face it—I had a thing for smart witches. She wasn't a know-it-all, however, unlike some other smart witch I was very possibly half in love with. She'd never argued with me before (of course, we hadn't spent all that much time in conversation). And she was sort of pretty and I did like blondes, and it was really very nice of her to send me all those things, wasn't it?
Hold it, Ron. Stop it, RIGHT THERE. She's MAD. Completely and utterly, stark raving MAD!
"Harry," I said in a strangled voice. "Luna's completely nutters."
Huh? What the heck? Did I suddenly—
"MR. WEASLEY! NO TALKING TO ONESELF IN THE LIBRARY!"
I did a double take. Apparently Harry had left while I was busy staring off into space. Great best friend, he was.
"Right, Madam Pince," I said, standing up. "Excellent point. I'll just go into the hall and, uh... talk to myself out there..."
Out in the hall, I felt slightly better.
"Hey!" I said aloud. "At least I listen to myself when I talk. Unlike my so-called best friends! They wouldn't notice if I was dangling from a cliff and screaming at the top of my lungs!"
"Ronald," said a sing-song voice. "You're planning on going cliff-jumping?"
Oh! Look who it was! Loonie herself! Perfect! Perfect timing! Harry probably set her up to it, too. I could hear it now, "Luna, guess what? Ron's sitting alone in the library talking to himself! Yeah, he doesn't realize that I left him there all alone! Hahaha! GO! Corner him while you can!"
"Corner who?" Luna said, still in that same sing-song voice.
Blast! I spoke aloud! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
"Uh, hello, Luna!" I said, hoping to distract her with my charm. "How are you?"
She blinked her large eyes. "You're very strange," she said.
"Me?" I repeated, feeling a blush coming on. Why was she looking at me like that? Why? WHY?
"Yes," she said, taking a step closer to me. "You're a bit mad, really."
"ME?" I said again. Apparently all other words had failed me.
"Well, yes." Her face curved into a smile and I couldn't help but notice that she was actually very pretty. Her long, blonde hair cascaded down past her shoulders (so it reminded me a little of Fleur, so what?), and her eyes seemed to sparkle (sparkle? Sparkle? I needed help...) with her obvious amusement. With me. For some reason, that made me proud.
I puffed out my chest. "You know," I said, surprised to see that my tone was somewhat teasing. "You're quite nutters, yourself."
Luna grinned. "Why, thank you. Though I'm not quite as mad as you."
My eyes drifted to her bottle cap earrings, the wand slung over one ear, the little splotch of ink staining her chin (I was noticing ink splotches now? Dear Merlin...), the badge pinned to her robes that said in flashing letters: I SUPPORT CRUMPLE-HORNED SNORKACKS, DO YOU?
"Well..." I said slowly. "I guess that's quite the, uh... compliment coming from you."
She positively beamed. I made her beam! I made her beam! Thankfully, I squelched the urge to start doing a celebratory dance. That would have been embarrassing.
"It's all in the eye of the beholder, you know," she said in a soft tone. "Madness."
Uh... right. "Is it?"
"Yes," she said, tilting her head back so she could meet my eyes. Her eyes were a deep blue, like the ocean, and I felt myself drowning in them (bleeding, fucking hell! I just compared her eyes to the ocean!).
I couldn't quite suppress my whimper. This was all too freaky. If my mind was going to start waxing poetry, I wanted a good reason for it!
Unfortunately, I wasn't in control of my own body anymore and seemed quite unable to look away from her piercing gaze. This was a new and not entirely unwelcome feeling.
"Yes," she said again, her eyes boring into mine. "Look at Harry, for example. He's probably one of the sanest people I know."
"Harry?" I yelped. "Sane? Have you met him?"
Luna's smile widened. "Yes, I know him quite well. I remember what that horrid newspaper said about him last year. I was quite disappointed when I met him."
"Well... yes, I thought he'd be a little bit more interesting, but..."
"He's not, really," I finished for her, mentally apologizing to Harry as I did so.
"You... of course..." she stood on her toes in an attempt to level her eyes with mine. "You're completely mad."
I couldn't help my grin and leaned closer. "I dunno, most girls prefer Harry..."
"Oh, I'm very fond of Harry..." Luna whispered. "But..."
She was so close now that I could feel her breath on my skin.
"But..." I breathed, closing my eyes.
Her lips were feather soft as they grazed against mine. She pulled away at nearly the same moment, so quickly that I was beginning to think I'd imagined the whole thing. Only, I was pretty sure I hadn't. Luna had just kissed me! And I didn't mind! In fact, I welcomed it. I wanted her to! I enjoyed it!
"Err... uh... buh... Luna?" I managed, in a hoarse voice.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Ronald," she said, the same musical tone back in her voice.
I blinked rapidly. "You're going?" I blurted.
There was something in the look Luna gave me that I couldn't quite figure out. She still stared at me with the same air of indifference but it was different somehow. More... excited. Or was it smug? Knowing? For some reason it was making me crazy. I felt like I needed to know what was going on her mind.
"One step at a time," she whispered, moving backwards. "Yes, that's... it. One step at a time. Have a good time cliff jumping."
My mind was spinning, the world had stopped making sense, it was spinning off its axis, right out of orbit... we were about to land in the sun...
This was NOT the right time for earth-shattering metaphors! Think clearly, brain, THINK!
"I'll see you tomorrow, Ronald," she repeated softly.
"You've... you've already said that..." I managed.
She smiled, twirling a piece of hair between her fingers. I watched her, feeling slightly dazed. She stared at me for a very long time. Then I watched in slow motion as she moved forward, her face coming closer, and her lips pressed against my cheek. She left them there for a moment, they were soft as a feather, and my skin was tingling beneath them.
When she pulled away, I was having a spot of trouble controlling my breathing. I was actually panting. She sucked in a breath as well and her eyes met mine. They really were quite pretty her eyes... a little bit like the ocean...
She turned then and walked away from me. I stared at her for a very long time, watching her back as she left. I also, I admit, took the opportunity to study her arse. Which wasn't bad. I continued to stand there long after she had left, my mouth somewhere near my feet.
What the fuck was happening to me? Comparing her eyes to the ocean? Kissing her? Creating elaborate metaphors about the spinning of the earth? I needed help... I needed...
Yes! Hermione! Hermione would know what to do! She was great at all this feelings nonsense. All I had to do was tell her what happened, and she would tell me why I was acting like such an idiot all of a sudden and it would all be... it would all be fine. She helped Harry out with Cho last year, after all. Without Hermione, Harry would have screwed things up there royally. Of course, even with Hermione, he still managed to mess things up pretty badly.
Oh. Well. Can't blame a chap for trying, anyway.
Some kind of plan in place, I tore back up to the common room. I found Hermione curled up by the fire, a monstrous pile of books in her lap. I rushed over to her, huffing and puffing as I tried to keep myself from hyperventilating.
Hermione stared at me. "What happened?" she asked, her voice hushed. "Did something happen to Harry?"
"NO!" I yelled, feeling decidedly panicky. Wasn't she supposed to just look at me and know?
"Are you..." she leaned forward, looking worried. "Are you getting sick? Can I get you something?"
"I..." Ugh! This was hard! I loosened my collar, willing my breathing to become easier. "Hermione... I need... I need your help."
"Yes!" she said, looking a little frantic. "I can see that! What's wrong?"
Did I have to spell this out for her? "It's... Luna..."
"Goodness, is she alright?"
"YES!" I hollered. "Hermione... something happened..."
Hermione was on her feet now, looking decidedly panicked. "Who died?"
"What? What are you...?"
"WHO DIED?" she demanded again, stomping her foot. "You look like you're going to pass out... which means one thing! Someone's DIED!"
"HERMIONE!" I shouted. "LUNA KISSED ME!!!"
Hermione's jaw dropped. She sank back down into the chair, still staring at me in complete shock. "No one's... died?"
"No one's died!" I yelled, completely at a loss. Why wasn't she helping?
To my surprise, she started laughing to herself. "Oh, thank goodness. From the look on your face... well, I'd just assumed something terrible must have occurred."
"Something terrible did occur!" I said, waving my arms frantically. "Luna kissed me! I'm waxing poetry! The Earth is spinning off its orbit!"
Hermione continued laughing softly. "Oh, Ron..." she whispered. "What do you want me to do about it?"
I stared at her. "I dunno, Hermione," I hissed. "I was hoping for some advice. You helped Harry out last year with Cho, remember? Seemed to know exactly how she was feeling..."
Hermione's eyes darkened. "Don't say his name!"
I looked around wildly. There was no one else there. It appeared that she was talking to me. I stared at her, at a loss for words. "I didn't say his name!"
"You did!" Hermione said, her lip curling. "I don't want to talk about him."
"Hermione, I never said You-Know-Who's name!"
"It's really stupid, you know," she continued angrily, as if I hadn't spoken. "Six years! Six years and he still hasn't noticed what's right in front of him! Takes me for granted, is what he does!"
"What's right in front of ... Hermione, what are you going on about?"
She sat up again, face beginning to turn red with her anger. "It's because you're all STUPID!" she said vehemently, jabbing a finger at my chest. "The whole lot of you!"
"Hermione!" I yelped. "Why are you poking me?"
"You deserve it! You never notice. Never..." she panted, continuing to jab me. "Notice."
"Who are we talking about?"
Jab. Jab. This was really starting to hurt. "HARRY!" she screeched. "See!" she wailed. "You never listen, EITHER!"
"We're... we're talking about Harry?" I managed.
"NO!" she hollered, face so red I could feel the heat coming from it. She jabbed me in the chest again. "I'm talking about you... you males! Your entire sex! Hopeless, all of you! And don't say his name!"
"I'm sorry...?" I whimpered.
"You're all BLIND! BLIND! Everyone else can see it. Even bloody Viktor Krum saw it!"
"OW! Hermione! STOP POKING ME!"
She stopped, but continued to glare at me, looking frighteningly close to tears. "But... no..." she breathed. "Not him. Never him."
"Hermione, this is really very interesting and all, but..."
"'But I don't think you're ugly' he said. HA! RIGHT!" Her voice dropped. "Could have fooled me," she mumbled to herself.
Funny, I was beginning to think that talking to Hermione might not have been the smartest thing to do. I patted her awkwardly on the head.
"It's okay, Hermione... we all get fooled every once in a while..."
She let out a long sniffle and collapsed against me. "Oh, RON!" she wailed. "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?"
Things were quickly going from worse, to much, much worse. Now Hermione was blubbering in my arms, over WHAT, I had NO idea, and I still had no clue on what to do about Luna.
"Hermione," I said gently. "It'll be okay. Really..."
"He's just so... what's it going to take?"
She thumped a hand against my chest, tears continuing to leak out of the corners of her eyes. "What's it going to take?"
My chest was really starting to hurt. "Hermione, I'm really sorry. I didn't realize... I just wanted some help. You're really great when it comes to figuring out feelings and stuff."
She thumped my chest again. Ouch. "That's all I am to the pair of you, isn't it?" she hissed. "Someone to figure out your girlfriends for! Is that it?"
"Err... no... course not..."
Thump. Thump. I think I preferred the poking. "I'm a PERSON, you know! I have feelings. I'm not just here to understand Cho Chang's state of mind!"
"Of course you're a person..." I said, trying to be soothing. Coming to Hermione for help... big mistake... very big mistake. "In fact, you're absolutely correct. I shouldn't have brought it up. I'll just—"
"Do you fancy her?" she asked suddenly.
What the hell? "Uh, sure... who are we talking about?"
"Luna," she said, her voice quivering. "Do you fancy her? Do you think she's pretty? Did you like kissing her?"
Wow, hold it right there, Hermione! Let's not get personal or anything here! There was NO WAY I was answering any of those questions. First of all, it wasn't any of her business and second of all, I was trying very hard NOT to think about any of those things!
"Yes," I said in a strangled voice.
WHAT? HOLD IT! HOLD IT, DID I REALLY—
"I'm so glad," she said. "Maybe you're not all stupid, after all."
She pressed her face against my chest, continuing to blubber on. Merlin... I didn't know how much more of this I could take...
"Hermione," I said, continuing to pat her head awkwardly. "Is something... wrong?"
She shook her head and pulled away form me, wiping at her eyes. "I'm really glad that you like her," she said again. "It's good to know that you're not all blind."
I frowned. "Hermione, this is about Harry, isn't it?"
Hermione pulled away from me, looking furious. "I TOLD YOU NOT TO SAY HIS NAME!!!"
With a small cry of frustration, she gathered up her books and stomped up to the girls' dormitories. I stared after her for a moment, feeling insurmountably stupid.
Then I felt a sudden bolt of panic.
All thoughts of Hermione and Luna fled my mind as I took off towards my own dorm room. Idiot! IDIOT! I was a BIG, FAT, IDIOT!
It was too late. Too... late...
I stepped into the dorm room, realizing that my knees were actually quaking (quaking). There it was, my banner, still strung up on my bed. And there was Dean and Seamus, staring at me like Christmas had come early.
BUGGER! BUGGER! BUGGER!
"Ronald," Dean began, his grin wide and leering. "You have such a nice piece of... art... here."
"Absolutely beautiful," Seamus chimed in. "Nearly brought tears to my eyes when I saw it."
No. No. No. NO!
Someone snickered. I glanced widely around and found Neville with a pillow scrunched up to his face, trying valiantly not to laugh. Only Harry seemed unaffected, he barely looked up when I entered. Then, apparently deciding that he wanted nothing to do with us, rolled over on his side and left his back to me.
Thanks, buddy. Good to know I can count on you during a crisis.
"Oh, Ronald!" Dean sing-songed. "You can be my king..."
"You're already my king..." Seamus added, batting his eyes at me.
"Shut up!" I said, going to the banner and trying in vain to rip it down.
Seamus and Dean collapsed into a fit of laughter. I could hear Neville snorting into his pillow.
Hermione was right. Boys were awfully stupid.
I tugged at the banner as hard as I could and it finally came undone, causing me to tumble on my bottom in the process.
This, of course, only made them laugh harder.
It was official. Today was the worst day of my entire existence. Including that time I nearly died playing chess and the time I got attacked by a giant brain. Yes, today was worse. Much worse. In fact, I was beginning to miss the brain.
"You guys are just jealous!" I growled as I ripped the banner up. "Bunch of stupid gits..."
"So Ron..." Seamus said. "When's the wedding?"
"Are we all invited?" Dean said.
"Shut up. Just shut up."
"So... who's your queen?" Seamus asked, raising his eyebrows.
Neville snorted into the pillow again.
Worst. Day. Ever. "Secret admirer, Seamus," I hissed. "I don't know who it is."
Dean sniggered. "So who do you want it to be?"
Why do people keep asking me that?
"Wouldn't you like to know," I snapped, continuing to shred the banner up. "I'm going to bed."
I stomped out of the room, taking the shreds of the banner with me. Drat! My bed was in that dormitory.
I looked down at the shredded banner I was holding in my hands and immediately felt bad. I hadn't really wanted to rip it up. Luna must have spent a long time on it.
Oh, no. I was thinking about Luna again. Luna with her blonde hair and large, unblinking blue eyes (which in no way resembled the ocean). Luna who adored me enough to send me hearts, and chocolate, and make a banner to have Harry hang up. That's it! OUT OF MY MIND, LOONIE!
I started banging my head against the wall.
Ouch! That hurt!
"Stop banging your head against the wall, you moron!"
Absolute worst day of my life.
Except for the kiss—that part was pretty good.
I went back to banging my head against the wall.