Ron's Admirer Pt. 2
Author's notes: Thanks for all the comments on the first part. You guys are awesome.
A/N 2: Someone asked about the references constantly made to Harry's "grin." Well, it though it does have a slight canon basis—it's more a shout-out to Dan. I think every time Daniel Radcliffe cracks a smile, women from miles around start swooning—at least, I do.
Harry was grumpy.
I didn't think this was very fair. It was me, after all, who had a pounding headache and a rather large bruise on the chest. I also hadn't slept very well the night before on account of the punctuated snickers I kept hearing. Not to mention, every time I drifted off, I was immediately surrounded by large, blue eyes. So, by rights, I thought the bad mood should belong to me.
Unfortunately, when Harry was grumpy, there was very little anyone could do about it.
"Why don't you just make up with her?" I said to him, as we made our way towards the Great Hall.
"Make up with who?" Harry said as he stomped down the stairs. "I'm not fighting with anyone."
I rolled my eyes. "You'll both feel better."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Ron," he snapped, a warning edge to his voice.
"I talked to Hermione yesterday, she's quite the mess. She—"
"Don't say her name!" Harry hissed, stomping ahead of me.
Okay. This was worse than I thought. The last time Harry and Hermione stopped speaking it was because of that Firebolt incident. That, however, was somewhat of a different circumstance. The point was, this was very unusual.
"You don't even remember why you're mad at her!" I said, hurrying to catch up with the Boy Who Sulked A Lot.
Harry made a sweeping gesture with his arm. "I don't know why she's angry with me. I'm not making the first move. She started it."
Harry just resorted to two-year-old logic. I needed a moment.
Okay. Moment over.
"Well, maybe if you made the first attempt, Hermione would be more willing to—"
"DON'T SAY HER NAME!" he screeched.
Looking even moodier than before, Harry continued on. I was somewhat disgruntled to see that he was clenching and unclenching his fists.
Must. Resist. Urge. To. Torture. Him.
Not. Resisting. Well.
"Hermione," I whispered from behind him.
Harry flinched, but kept walking, clearly intent on not rising to my bait.
I waited another moment.
Harry made a low hissing noise, but kept going.
"HERMIONE!" I yelled.
Uh, oh. Harry had his wand out. It probably wasn't the best idea to torture the only wizard who had the power to defeat You-Know-Who.
"HermioPEE," I said quickly. "Hermiopee. It's, uh...a type of tree. Haven't you heard of it?"
"No," Harry growled. "And I wouldn't recommend bringing it up again."
"You know..." I continued, ignoring the fact that Harry had just growled. "Fear of a name only increases the fear of the thing itself."
"Good thing I'm not afraid of trees, then," Harry snapped from between clenched teeth.
Honestly, if there was some form of male PMS...
I thought it wise not to bring up the subject again and we continued to the Great Hall in silence.
I couldn't help it—my gaze immediately went to the Ravenclaw table. I found Luna right away. She was hard to miss, with her funny earrings and odd clothes. She looked up as I entered, her eyes locking on mine. She beamed at me happily and I grinned back at her. It only made her beam harder and that made me, in turn, grin even harder. It was an interesting cycle.
Harry coughed and I turned to look at him, flushing a little. "Yeah? You have a problem with something?"
Harry looked entirely too smug. "No. No problem." He waited a beat. "So... what was all the grinning and beaming about?"
I avoided his eye and hurried to our usual spot at the Gryffindor table. "It's... she's not that bad," I muttered, as we sat down.
Hermione, who was already there, stared at Harry warily as we took our seats. Harry didn't even bother acknowledging her presence.
"Good morning, Ron," Hermione said in a stiff tone.
"Morning, Hermione," I said cheerfully.
"So," Harry continued, completely ignoring Hermione. "Are you going to give her a chance?"
This was beginning to get very uncomfortable. "Yeah..." I swallowed. "I think... it's possible I might actually fancy her. A little."
"A little," Hermione snorted. "The way you were carrying on yesterday..."
With self-control I wasn't aware I possessed, I squelched the urge to point out the way she was carrying on yesterday.
"Ron," Harry said coolly. "Will you tell Hermione not to butt in on other people's conversations?"
"Um," I said faintly, beginning to loosen my collar.
Hermione stiffened. "Ron," she said, in an equally frosty tone. "Will you tell Harry that he's got a giant stick rammed up his arse?"
"Err..." I said, tugging at my collar some more.
Harry was glaring daggers at Hermione from across the table. "Ron, will you tell Hermione that my arse is just fine, thanks?"
"NO!" I squeaked. "I refuse to talk about your arse!"
Hermione snorted into her mug of coffee.
And thus, the meal continued.
"Ron, will you ask Harry to pass the sugar?"
"Ron, will you ask Hermione to pass the orange juice?"
"Ron, will you ask Harry to stop chewing with his mouth open?"
"Ron, will you ask Hermione to stop talking?"
My poor aching head. I wasn't sure how much more of this I could take. I began to sympathize with Harry a little more. No wonder he was always in such a bad mood. He and Hermione had been at it less than a day and I was ready to go out back and perform Avada Kedavra on myself. And Hermione and I had been bickering for the last six years.
"Ron, will you—"
"Nope!" I cut in, striving to remain cheerful. "Urgent meeting I must get to. See you later."
I rushed off, barely noticing that I was making my way over to the Ravenclaw table. I needed some sympathy, and was nearly certain that I'd be able to get it from Luna.
I collapsed into the seat next to her, rubbing my temples. "Hi..."
"Hello, Ronald." She peered at me for a long time. "Does your head hurt?"
"So much..." my eye started twitching (I'm serious, twitching). "I can't think straight..."
"Heavy thoughts?" she whispered, an unreadable look on her face.
"No," I said. "No... it's the sounds of Harry and Hermione bickering." I slumped down on the table, leaning my forehead against it. "I never thought I'd say this, but I really miss Hermione sniping at me."
"You're in love with her," Luna said softly.
Well. It was good to know that we were going to be getting things out in the open so quickly. If "good" was a synonym for "bad" and "terrifying."
"Of course," I said, in what I hoped was an off-hand voice. "She's one of my best friends."
"You know what I meant."
I squeezed my eyes shut. "Please..." I whimpered. "My head really does hurt."
She laughed softly. "Should I take you to Madam Pomfrey?"
At that moment, Hermione's shrill voice rang out across the hall.
"Neville, will you PLEASE tell Harry to STOP looking in my direction?"
Followed by Harry's retort.
"Neville, will you PLEASE tell Hermione that looking in her direction is the LAST thing on my mind?"
"Ow!" I said. "Make it stop... make it stop..."
Luna giggled softly to herself. It was a pretty sound—her giggling. Next thing I knew, the sounds of the Great Hall were muted and I found that Luna's hands were covering my ears. I blushed, but felt a rush of relief. I looked up at her, her hands still over my ears. We stared at each other for a very long time until the rest of the Great Hall faded into a blur of colours and noise.
I licked my lips. "Do you think... do you think it'd be okay if I kissed you?"
Her eyes lit up and she said... something.
"WHAT?" I hollered.
She said something again.
"What? SPEAK UP, WILL YOU???"
She rolled her eyes and removed her hands from my ears. Oh. Right.
"You're mad," she whispered, grinning.
"So?" I leaned forward. We were even closer now. "I thought you liked that in a guy."
"I like it in you."
There was a definite jolt there. Ahh... and a pleasant feeling of warmth pooling in my stomach. I leaned closer to her until our foreheads brushed.
"Can I kiss you?" I breathed.
"If you'd like," she said. "Though, very many people will see."
"Don't care," I responded, feeling her breath whistle on my cheek. "Unless... do you..."
"No," she said hurriedly. "No, I just thought..."
Oh, screw it. I leaned in, pressing my lips up against hers. Explosions! Fireworks! Bombs going off! The Earth was definitely rocketing towards the sun!
We pulled away and continued to stare at each other, a little bit dazed.
"Wow," I breathed. "Wow..."
Luna continued smiling at me. "You're an excellent kisser, Ronald."
I flushed. "Really?" I said eagerly.
She leaned forward again. "Yes."
We smiled at each other and I felt... wonderful. Elated. Ecstatic. Smashing. There really weren't enough words in English to cover how I felt.
"Mysteriously, my headache seems to have cleared right up," I said, still looking into her eyes. There was something about her eyes that captivated me.
"Good," Luna whispered. "Because your friends have come to retrieve you."
"Good morning, Harry!" Luna sung out cheerfully, standing up and breaking our eye contact. "How are you?"
"Oh, me?" Harry responded, sounding irritated. "I'm excellent, really. Never been better. You?"
"Dazed," she said honestly. "Ronald has that effect on me."
I blushed and felt that pool of warmth gathering in my stomach. I stood up shakily next to Luna, feeling like I was facing the inquisition squad. Harry and Hermione were standing rigidly, identical scowls on their faces. At least they were standing next to each other, even if they didn't look entirely happy about it.
Hermione made a sound of disgust in the back of her throat and glared at Luna. "Well, I hate to break up the moment, but we have class."
"Oh, you two go on ahead," I said, feeling a little bit evil. "I'll join you soon."
"We'll wait," Harry said with a pointed look in my direction.
I chose to ignore it. "Naww, you two go on. No point in getting in trouble because of me."
"We'll wait," Hermione said sharply.
I sighed. "Right," I muttered, glancing at Luna. "I'll see you later, then."
She nodded, though her whole attention was fixed upon watching Hermione curiously. Hermione looked a little uncomfortable and frowned in Luna's direction.
Feeling annoyed, I gathered up my stuff and started off towards Care of Magical Creatures. Harry and Hermione followed on either side of me, bodies stiff and eyes turned to the ground. Great. Not only had they spent the morning giving me a blinding headache, but they also managed to destroy a nice, intimate (intimate? Bugger...) moment with Luna.
"Hermione says she's really sorry. Hey, Hermione?"
"Tell Harry to go to hell, Ron," she said sweetly.
Hmm... not exactly what I had in mind, but it was too good to pass up.
"Hermione says to go to hell."
Apparently, Harry didn't think it was nearly as funny as I did.
"Hey, Ron?" he said.
"Tell Hermione to shut up."
Ouch. Hermione shot me a piercing look and I decided that it probably wouldn't be wise to relay that message.
I cleared my throat. "I think it's possible," I said hesitantly. "That she may have heard you." I glanced at each of them, surprised to see matching expressions of misery on their faces. "Why don't you just make up?" I asked quietly. "Clearly neither of you are happy."
I saw Harry furtively glance in Hermione's direction before clenching his jaw. "I'll only make up if Hermione apologizes first."
"Guess we're not going to be making up, then," Hermione snapped.
I began rubbing at my temples again. "Merlin, you two are murder on my head..."
Harry sighed and started cracking his knuckles. Hermione huffed out a long breath and started picking at an imaginary piece of lint on her robes.
I grit my teeth.
Avada Kedavra was beginning to look pretty appealing all of a sudden.
The clearing next to Hagrid's hut was empty, and there was only a sign pointing into the Forbidden Forest. As we were late, I assumed that the rest of the class had left without us. I followed the sign, crashing into the forest ahead of Harry and Hermione. I could practically feel them glaring daggers at each other behind my back.
We crashed through the growth of the forest, following the signs that Hagrid had left behind. Our silence was broken only by the sounds of Harry and Hermione sniping at each other.
"Ouch! Harry, that tree branch hit me in the face..."
"Did it? Tragic..."
"Oh? Did I let go of another tree branch? So sorry about that..."
Hearing the sounds of Hagrid's voice, I eagerly bounded in that direction. We clambered around another tree and I was very much relieved to see the grouping of familiar Hogwarts' robes.
Then several things happened in quick succession. The three of us got a very good luck at Hagrid's creature of the moment. Hermione shrieked and I turned, worried, only to stop dead at the sight of her gripping Harry's arm, her face pale.
The two of them looked at each other, glanced down at Hermione's hand on Harry's arm, then looked at each other again.
Annoying Thing Harry and Hermione Do Number 4: It was common knowledge that, whenever Hermione got scared, she automatically grabbed Harry's arm.
She had yet to grab onto anyone else in a fright. Though, what started off as something she did occasionally, she'd been doing a lot more frequently. Oh, no, Harry! There's a fly in my porridge! Let me grab your arm! Oh, no, Harry! I broke a nail! Let me grab your arm! Oh, no, Harry! I'm not sure I got 110 on that exam! Let me grab your arm!
It was very, very annoying.
Hermione and Harry glanced down at her hand on his arm again before meeting each other's eyes. Harry cleared his throat and said. "It's okay, Hermione. I wouldn't let anything hurt you."
She sniffled. "Oh, Harry!" she wailed, letting go of his arm in favour of throwing both her arms around his neck. "I'm so sorry!" she sobbed. "I feel so horrible."
I just stared at them.
"Aww, it's okay, Hermione," Harry whispered, holding her tightly. "It was a stupid fight..."
"It was!" she continued, her voice high and shrill. "I never want to fight again!"
Harry looked over at me over the top of her head, eyes wide and panicky. "Pat her on the head!" I mouthed at him, making vague patting gestures in the air in front of me.
"What?" he mouthed back.
I sighed and continued patting the air. Honestly, boys were so useless when it came to crying girls...
Harry gave me a disgusted look and started rubbing her back, making low soothing noises. Well. That'd probably work, too, admittedly. Eventually, Hermione's crying quieted, but she and Harry seemed quite content to go on hugging each other. At least it was a step up from the bickering.
I turned back around, noticing for the first time that Hagrid's entire Care of Magical Creature's class was staring at the three of us. Harry and Hermione, unfortunately, were too distracted by their touching reconciliation to notice.
I cleared my throat nervously, suddenly very thankful that, now that it was sixth-year, there were no more Slytherins left in the course. "Hello," I said lamely, shifting back and forth.
"Hello, Ron!" Hagrid said cheerfully. "Did yeh see the size of old Grawpy?"
At the word "Grawpy" the entire class took a step back. Sure enough, there was Grawp, sitting back on his haunches and playing with trees he'd ripped out of the earth. Pleasant fellow that giant was.
Hermione whimpered somewhere from behind me and a quick glance in her direction showed me that she and Harry had stopped hugging in favor of more arm gripping.
Okay, seriously, Hermione, I can understand why gripping Harry's arm when we were, say, facing You-Know-Who would be a good idea. Hell, I'd grab Harry's arm if we were facing You-Know-Who. But I really couldn't see the point when we were facing a creature that had a good, I don't know, thirty feet on us. Holding on to Harry would just mean getting stomped on with Harry.
"So!" Hagrid continued, ignoring the faces of the terrified students around him. "Which one of yeh knows what to feed one of em giants?"
There was a collective gulp. Let it be known that there was finally a question that Hermione Granger was not eager to answer.
"People?" Dean volunteered, his voice trembling.
Hermione whimpered again. This, of course, only made Harry feel all "protective" and "manly."
"Hagrid," he said, beginning to back up, tugging Hermione along. "We're going..."
This was the wrong thing to say, since it brought Grawp's attention to the two of them.
"HERMY?" Grawp questioned, shifting closer to our group and causing the ground to shake under our feet.
Hermione gasped and ducked behind Harry.
"No, Grawp!" Hagrid said warningly. "STAY, GRAWP! STAY!"
Harry started backing up again, his eyes fixed worriedly on Grawp. Hermione continued to cling to him, but allowed him to steer her out of the clearing.
Once they were gone, the rest of the class looked back at Hagrid and Grawp, feeling even more worried. Hermione Granger's willingness to skip class did not bode well for our future.
"HERMY GO!" Grawp cried. "HERMY GO!"
"Yeah, because she was terrified you big, overgrown... giant," I finished weakly.
Thankfully, Hagrid was too busy trying to control Grawp to notice my comment. The rest of the class was spent watching Hagrid trying to control Grawp, while shouting questions at us every once in a while that no one answered. I was beginning to think that Harry and Hermione had the right idea.
At some point, my mind drifted back to Luna again. I was drawn to her—that much was certain. She clearly liked me, liked me a lot if the secret admirer thing was any indication. But she was right, I'd long had feelings for Hermione. Not love, though. It wasn't love. It couldn't be love. First of all, me falling in love with Hermione was stupid. Second of all, if I did love Hermione (which I didn't), I probably wouldn't be thinking about Luna nearly this much.
The question was, really, what did she see in me? It must have been something big because she certainly went to a lot of trouble to make a point. She even shared her feelings with Harry. She was awfully confident, too, that I'd like her back.
My headache was beginning to come back.
This. This is where thinking deeply got me.
I sighed, and followed the rest of the class as we made our way out of the Forbidden Forest. We could hear Hagrid in the distance, continuing to yell at Grawp. Well, I certainly hope that taught him a lesson. Giants officially joined "Blast-Ended Shrewts" in things never to teach to a bunch of teenagers.
I stumbled out of the forest, surprised to find Harry and Hermione sitting side by side next to Hagrid's hut. The fact that they'd clearly been waiting for me didn't escape my notice. I made my way over to them, relieved to see that most of Hermione's colour had returned.
"Hey," the said, in unison, when I reached them. Ahh. Good to know they were back on familiar footing.
I held out a hand a to each of them, which they grasped, allowing me to pull them to their feet. "How was class?" I asked them, eyes twinkling a little.
Hermione shuddered. "I assure you, Ron. After the events of last year, I do not need to learn anything more about giants."
"Yeah, but it was awfully daring of you to run away and cower like that."
"It was shrieking my name!" she hissed. "What was I supposed to do?"
"Run over and give it a kiss?" I suggested with a bit of a smirk.
"Oh, honestly, Ron! Grow up..."
"Hey, at least I was man enough to stay there the entire time. I didn't need a big, strong, hero pulling me to safety..."
"Don't bring me into this," Harry muttered.
Hermione looked angry now, and she shot me a glaring look as we climbed the hill to the castle. "What would you know about it?" she snapped at me. "You weren't around last year when Harry and I met that thing!"
"Only because the pair of you took off while I was busy trying to win a Quidditch match!"
"Well!" Hermione said furiously. "What else were we supposed to do? We couldn't just ignore Hagrid!"
"Well! You could've waited until I was done!"
Hermione sniffed and continued glaring at me. "When we left, we were certain you were going to lose, anyway!"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean? What are you implying?"
By the time we reached the castle, Hermione and I were both breathing hard and Harry was staring at the ground and mumbling to himself.
Soon the three of us were grinning at each other like complete and utter morons. "Well..." Harry said, flashing us one of his killer grins. Hermione took one look at it and nearly passed out. It made me feel quite faint myself. Damn it, Harry! Restrain that thing! "It's good to know that some things never change..."
Hermione humphed. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"C'mon," I said. "Don't tell me you didn't love that, Hermione."
She blushed and stared at the ground. "Well..." she finally said slowly. "It was very... familiar."
Harry and I looked at each other and resisted the urge to burst out laughing. "Don't know how you do it, mate," he said to me. "Bickering with Hermione is exhausting."
"Practice," I said. "Lots and lots of practice."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Well, if it's any consolation, I much prefer bickering with you, Ron, than with Harry." She met Harry's eyes and dropped her voice. "It was also much, much worse. I don't think I've ever had a more awful two days."
They stared at each other for a long time. "Yeah," Harry whispered. "I know what you mean."
Then, by some unspoken agreement, they joined hands and continued onto the castle ahead of me. Um, hello, guys? HELLO? Seriously, still here! One of you could turn around now... I wouldn't mind holding Hermione's other hand. In fact, I'd probably be pretty okay about it.
I sighed and trailed behind them, feeling like something significant had happened, but not quite sure what it was.
I was supposed to meet Luna at 7:00 o'clock by the lake. The fact that we'd actually planned on a set time was mildly terrifying to me. Was this a date? Was this a meeting? Did this have some kind of a meaning that I wasn't picking up on?
Dear, Merlin, was I late?
"What time is it?" I asked Harry, feeling a little frantic.
Harry, who was sitting next to Hermione, glanced down at his watch and sighed. "It's 30 seconds later than the last time you asked me."
"What time is it now?"
Harry clenched his jaw. "Now," he said in a low voice. "It is 45 seconds later than the last time you asked me."
I waited a beat.
"Harry!" Hermione said shrilly. "Just tell him what time it is!"
Harry frowned but obeyed. "It's 6:47."
I resisted the urge to start biting my nails. "Right. How long does it take to walk to the lake?"
"Big date?" Harry asked nonchalantly.
I blushed. "No," I said immediately. "Of course not."
"He's meeting Luna," Harry said to Hermione knowingly, completely ignoring me.
"Is he?" Hermione said, raising her eyebrows.
"He is," Harry answered.
Uh... okay. You two are becoming even weirder.
"What time is it now?"
Harry sighed. "Now," he grit out. "It is 6:48."
Now I really was biting my nails. "What if I'm late?"
"You won't be late," Hermione said soothingly. "It only takes a minute to walk to the lake from here."
"What if..." I continued, practically gnawing on my hand. "What if Malfoy attacks me on the way there? What do I do then? Then! Then I really will be late!"
"Then," Hermione said calmly. "You'll tell Luna the truth. Not only will she understand, but she'll be sympathetic."
"Right!" I said, sagging a little in relief. "What time is it now?"
"Now," Harry said, voice very tight. "It is 6:50."
I started chewing the nails on my other hand. "What should I do? Should I bring her something? Are we just supposed to talk? Should I walk her back to her dormitory afterwards? What if we... what if we just stand there and stare at each other?!"
"You won't stand there and stare at each other," Hermione said with infinite patience. I know, Hermione having patience for me. The mind boggled. I strongly suspected it had to do with a certain reunion. "You could take her for a walk around the lake," she suggested. "That's really... romantic."
"Huh," I said. "That's got possibilities..."
I trailed off, realizing that I had lost my audience. Harry and Hermione were staring at each other. It wasn't their usual communicative look. No, this one was different. Harry, for one, looked like something had just dropped out of the sky and landed on his head. Hermione sucked in a breath, her eyes scanning eagerly over his face.
Well. That was weird. Okay, moving on...
I cleared my throat loudly. "Harry, what time is—"
"Dunno, Ron," he said, eyes still on Hermione. "Just... go."
"Yeah," Hermione said, still staring at Harry. "Good to be a bit early."
Okay. Now I was starting to miss the bickering.
"Well, then... I'll just be off..."
Neither of them looked up.
"Have a good time," Hermione said absently.
"Yeah," Harry said, not looking in my direction. "Don't fall in the water..."
"Giant squids, you know..." Hermione continued.
They dismissed me and went back to staring at each other. Harry was looking particularly dazed and I was beginning to wonder if something really had dropped out of the sky and landed on his head.
Oh, well. I had more important things to worry about.
I got up and hurried outdoors, the butterflies in my stomach increasing. What were we going to talk about? So far our conversations had been centered around my degree of madness. Not the most romantic thing, I had to admit. Though, Luna did take an awful lot of interest in it...
Let's see. What did I really know about her? Not much. I knew she liked crumple-horned snorkacks. She was very proud of her father's outlandish magazine The Quibbler. Oh, yeah, and as Harry helpfully informed me, she'd lost her mother when she was just a child.
This was going to go just brilliantly.
"Luna, how are those snorkacks getting along? Anything interesting in this week's issue of The Quibbler? Still grieving over your dead mom? I can sympathize there, my best friend has lost every single parental figure he's ever had..."
Right. That was a surefire way for romance! I'd reached the lake and was very much relieved to see that Luna hadn't arrived yet. This would give me time to think. And possibly stop trembling.
Okay, Ron's brain, just think. Think before speaking. Don't bring up her dead mother. Do ask about The Quibbler, it'll show I pay attention to what she says. Don't bring up crumple-horned snorkacks because I, honestly, don't want to know.
I was so absorbed in my thinking that I didn't notice her until she'd come to a stop right in front of me. "Luna..." I croaked out.
She smiled. "Ronald."
"You know," I whispered. "You and my mother are the only ones that call me that."
She cocked her head, looking serene in the evening light. "If you'd prefer, I could call you Ron."
I shook my head. "No... it's okay. I don't mind."
She smiled again and absentmindedly began twirling her hair. I stared at her, feeling like I was witnessing her only visible sign of nervousness. Luna always appeared completely calm and collected, as if somewhat removed from a situation. Nothing seemed to faze her, not danger, and certainly not You-Know-Who. But the hair twirling... that meant somewhere inside of her she was feeling just as I was.
Again, I began to wonder what was behind the madness. The girl behind the big glasses, the bottle cap necklace, and the weird earrings. I felt like it must be some sort of façade, a way to get by. I felt like she'd started to let her guard down around me. I hoped that she'd eventually feel comfortable enough to let it all down.
With smoothness I didn't know I could muster, I held out a hand. She grasped it and I nodded my head in the direction of the lake. "Do you want to go for a walk?"
By way of answer, she started walking, her little hand in mine. "It's so calm," she said, staring out at the lake. "Though..."
"There's a lot going on under the surface," I finished for her.
She made a humming noise in reply, appearing lost in thought. We continued on in silence. Unlike in my nightmares, however, it wasn't tense and uncomfortable. There was something soothing about our silence, we were both adrift in our own thoughts. I glanced at her every once in a while, entranced by her furrowed brow. There was something going in her head, something I wished she'd share with me.
"Why me?" I finally asked.
She tilted her head in my direction, not needing to ask what I meant. "You make me laugh."
"Oh," I said, feeling disappointed. "Is that all?"
She shook her head. "I've... studied you for a long time."
"Huh," I responded in a light tone.
"Sometimes," she said vaguely. "There's more to a person than what meets the eye."
"I'm getting that," I muttered.
"We're very different people," she said quietly. "But I think that... we compliment each other. That... we work well because of our differences."
Well. She was awfully confident that she'd eventually win me over, wasn't she? Considering that we were currently on an evening stroll around the lake (which actually was very romantic, thank you, Hermione), her confidence wasn't that ill-founded.
She started humming under her breath again and I lapsed into silence, pondering her words.
"Hermione and I are very different, too," I said suddenly.
"Hmmm," Luna responded, an air of detachment to her voice. I noticed, though, that she'd gone back to twirling her hair. "Do you compliment each other?"
My natural instinct was to immediately say yes. Finally I just shrugged. "Dunno."
"Hmmm," Luna said again, staring off into space. "She's very jealous of me," she said quietly. "Did you realize that?"
I stopped. Hermione was jealous of Luna? It didn't seem possible. Luna went against everything Hermione stood for. Hermione loved reason, order, and pure common sense. In fact, describing Luna as Hermione's polar opposite wasn't a stretch of the imagination.
"Do you mean to say..." I began slowly, feeling butterflies gather in my stomach. "That Hermione's jealous of what's... what's happening between you and me?"
"Yes and no," Luna answered, staring off into space. "She feels threatened."
"What d'you mean?"
"Her best friends are both wizards," Luna explained patiently. "One of her greatest fears is that you and Harry will eventually find someone that will replace your need for her. Well... mostly Harry. But you, too."
"But that's rubbish!" I cried. "What does she think, that Harry and I would both get girlfriends and she'd suddenly stop being our best friend? We need her. Harry needs her, he'd be completely lost without her."
Luna shrugged delicately. "Some part of her knows that, but human feelings are a rather peculiar thing." Luna watched me with her large blue eyes, something unreadable passing over her features. "And I'm very jealous of her," she said softly. "She has two friends that would do anything for her."
I felt my heart drop and mentally cursed myself. Luna put on an impassive mask, but she had feelings like the rest of us. I touched her cheek lightly and tried to smile. "Of course I'd do anything for Hermione. But... I'm pretty sure I'd do anything for you, too."
Her large eyes blinked once as she considered that. "Okay," she responded, a smile flirting across her mouth. "Prove it."
Uh, oh. There was no way this was going anywhere good.
"Err... prove it?"
"That's right," she said, nodding her head. "How about a swim?"
My eyes widened and I cast the lake a weary look. "Err, Luna," I said, trying to sound calm. "I'm not sure that's a very good idea. There's, uh... giant squids in that lake."
"I thought you were in Gryffindor," she said dreamily. "The house with the heart of a lion."
Oh, boy. "Couldn't I... I don't know... just save you from You-Know-Who's wrath at some point in the future?"
"You could do that, too," Luna said, staring off into space thoughtfully. "But I'd really like to see you go for a swim."
I stared at her for a long time. "Okay."
I was present for one of the few times that Luna Lovegood was caught off guard. "Okay?"
"Yeah," I said, beginning to remove my cloak. "I'll go for a swim."
Luna watched me curiously as I took off my shoes and socks, removed my tie, and shrugged out of my Hogwarts' blazer.
"I'm keeping my pants on," I informed her, blushing a little.
She stared at me unabashedly, giving me a purely male thrill.
She walked with me to the water's edge and I stared down into the lake, feeling a little faint. It seemed awfully dark and sinister all of a sudden. Did I even know how to swim?
"So..." I said uncertainly. "Should I jump in? Dive in? Slip in? Walk in?"
"Whichever," Luna replied, watching me with great interest.
"Right." I gulped and experimentally stuck a toe into the water.
BLOODY, FUCKING, HELL, THAT WATER WAS COLD!
"It's... a little chilly," I managed, wincing as I forced the rest of my foot in the water. The bottom was sandy under my foot, making me feel a little bit more comfortable.
I hissed as I stuck my other foot in the water, watching as it turned an interesting shade of blue. Delightful. I kept moving forward, every foot bringing the water higher. Once I reached waist level, I glanced behind me. Luna had settled herself on the ground, her legs curled under her.
"If I die..." I said. "I just want you to know that I'm doing this for you."
Her eyes sparkled and she giggled. "Well... carry on."
I stared ahead of me, somewhat horrified to realize that my feet had gone completely numb. In fact, I couldn't feel anything below my knees. Taking a deep breath, I threw my arms in front of me, and plunged forward.
BLOODY, FUCKING, HELL!!! THIS WATER WAS COLD!
I reached the surface of the lake, spluttering and cursing. I could hear Luna's delighted giggles floating down around me, and suddenly the water didn't seem as frigid. Pathetically, I made my way back to shore, trying to remember how to breathe. My lungs were on fire, my feet had ceased to move, and I was pretty sure I was going to die.
I hauled myself out of the lake and just lay on my back, staring up at the darkening sky and panting. Luna crawled over to me and I found my vision obscured by a very cute girl with large glasses and unblinking eyes.
"Ronald," she said, wiping my forehead. "That was very brave."
"Tell me something I don't know," I muttered.
"Bloody, fucking hell," she muttered, continuing to stroke my face. "That water is cold."
I wish I could've come up with a good response to that. Unfortunately, the feel of her hands was somewhat distracting. After all, I was a guy and, naturally, it didn't take long for my thoughts to drift away from the lake.
Far away from the lake.
One hearty snog session later, Luna and I made our way back up the castle. Luna and I were... something. An item, I guess. Whatever the hell people called it. I still felt like there was so much of her she kept to herself, so much of herself she kept locked away, but I was making progress. I was breaking in. She was letting herself trust me. I had a feeling that trust didn't come easily to Luna Lovegood.
Curiously, that was the last time we ever mentioned my feelings for Hermione.
I squelched into the common room, a huge grin on my face. I eagerly made my way over to Harry and Hermione who were studying in front of the fireplace.
That was, if studying actually meant "staring avidly at each other." Good to know they were still engaged in the same activity they'd been in when I'd left.
They had their books out in front of them, but they weren't fooling anybody. Harry was staring at Hermione with his mouth partially open, that same bewildered expression on his face. Hermione, for her part, was staring right back at him, the barest hints of a knowing smirk on her features.
I cleared my throat and Hermione managed to tear her eyes away from Harry to look at me. Harry merely grunted an acknowledgment.
"Ron," Hermione said, smiling. "How did your date go?"
"Great," I said, plopping down next to them. "Your idea about taking a walk around the lake was brilliant, Hermione!"
For some reason, Harry turned beat red at that comment and finally looked away from Hermione's face. This was so very weirder than normal.
"Romantic, was it?" Hermione asked lightly.
Harry squirmed uncomfortably.
"Well, yeah!" I answered enthusiastically. "Big lake, too. Gave us plenty of time to get to, uh... get to know each other."
"Isn't it?" Hermione continued in that same light tone. "I once walked around it three times in a row..."
Harry started coughing violently.
"By yourself?" I blurted out. She shot me a look and I mentally cursed myself. "So, uh... not by yourself, then."
Hermione just shook her head and Harry started coughing harder.
I had a horrible, sinking feeling.
"It was Vicky, wasn't it? Probably thought it'd be a great way to..." I trailed off, noticing Hermione's glare. "To... uh... get to know you..."
"No, it wasn't Viktor," she said with a bit of a smile.
Harry still coughing, and blushing so deeply I was afraid his face was going to burst into flames, stood up rather suddenly. "I'm going to bed!" he declared, seeming in a mild panic. "Glad that things went well with Luna. See you two tomorrow."
And then he ran (yep, ran) up to the dormitories, looking like You-Know-Who was hot on his trail.
Hermione was looking rather pleased with herself. "Well!" she said cheerfully, standing up. "I'm feeling quite tired, myself."
Huh? What did I miss?
I stood, too, feeling more than a little confused.
"What's gotten into the pair of you?" I demanded. "You two are acting so... weird."
Impulsively, Hermione leaned up and kissed me on the cheek. She pulled away from me, looking happier than I'd seen her in a long time.
"Let's just say," she replied ambiguously. "He finally noticed."
Hermione laughed softly and made her way to the girls' dormitories.
"Hey, wait a minute!" I yelled after her. "You never told me who you went on the romantic lake-walk with!"
She turned around. "Oh, honestly, Ron. If you haven't figured it out yet... well, I'm not going to tell you."
I stared at her, feeling like there was something really quite large I was missing.
"Hey! Hold it!" I screeched. "HARRY! You and Harry went on a..."
I trailed off, noticing that she'd already gone.
Then... then something else began to sink it. The weird looks, the fight, the jealous tendencies Hermione had been exhibiting...
There was something going on between Harry and Hermione.
Must. Stop. Instinctive. Jealous. Feeling.
Not. Stopping. It. Well.
Harry was my best friend. Best friend. He knew how I felt about Hermione. Or, at least, he should have known! He had better keep his lips away from hers!
I took a few deep calming breaths and tried to remind myself that Harry and Hermione would never start anything without telling me first. It's not like they'd just inexplicably start snogging one night in the common room without any apparent back-story or reason. And they'd never, ever lie to me about it afterwards.
"What's that, mate?" Dean said, looking at me oddly. "Who's snogging?"
Drat it all! I'd spoken out loud again!
"Uh... I didn't say anything."
"Yes, you did," Seamus interjected helpfully. "You said—"
"Look," I interrupted irritably. "You guys must be hearing things. I'm going to bed. Big Quidditch match tomorrow and all."
There was something going on between Harry and Hermione.
This was the thought in the front of my mind as I shook my best friend awake Saturday morning.
Harry muttered a few curses under his breath and rolled over. "Go s'away..."
"Harry!" I hollered. "It's Saturday..."
"We have a Quidditch match starting soon! Get up, you lazy sack of bones!"
Oh, no. Now he was trying to avoid her completely. There really was something going on here.
"OI, HARRY!" I hollered. "You-Know-Who's trying to destroy you by KIDNAPPING HERMIONE! AND YOU'RE JUST LYING THERE!"
Harry sat up so quickly we bashed heads. He barely noticed, choosing instead to grab his wand and fly out of the room.
That may not have been the best approach...
I did the only thing I could, I charged after him. Good thing my legs were longer because he had a good head start on me. "Harry..." I yelled after him. "Harry! It's FINE! She's not... URGH!"
I did the only thing I could—I tackled him. We went crashing down the stairs and landed in a heap on the floor. He pushed me away and grabbed his wand.
"Ron," he hissed, sounding panicked. "What are you doing? We have to save Hermione!"
I shoved him down and sat on his chest to keep him from moving. Ouch. If looks could kill...
"See, the things is..." I started nervously.
"I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!" he yelled, looking very, very dangerous.
Note to self: stop pissing off the only living wizard who has the power to defeat You-Know-Who!
"The things is," I continued, staring down at him. "Hermione's... uh... fine."
His eyes darkened. "What do you mean, she's fine? You just said that Voldemort was..."
"I LIED!" I shouted. "I was just trying to get you out of bed. Which... behold my success..."
Harry stared at me for a long time, eyes registering relief and then, curiously, furry. Hmm... interesting...
"Ron," Harry said in a very tight voice. "WILL YOU PLEASE STOP SITTING ON ME???"
"Uh, right..." I said lamely, scurrying off him.
Harry stood up, looking terrifyingly angry. I'm pretty You-Know-Who would have run away screaming had he gotten a good look at him. As it was, I backed up a step, gulping.
Though, I have to say, the image was slightly ruined by the fact that Harry was wearing his Gryffindor lion pajamas. I thought it wise not to mention that, however.
"You," he panted angrily, backing me into a corner.
"Me?" I squeaked, backing up and beginning to sweat. This did not bode well for my future.
"HEY!" Dean's voice yelled. "Harry's trying to kill Ron!"
There were loud "oohs" and "ahhs" as Gryffindors poured out of their respective dormitories in order to watch my execution. Perfect. Just perfect.
Harry didn't appear to notice anyone, as he continued to advance on me, his wand pointed out in front of him. "Harry..." I said nervously. "You can't kill me... who'd play Keeper for our team..."
Harry merely growled in response.
And then, the most miraculous, most beautiful voice in the entire world.
"What are you two DOING?"
Harry froze and turned around slowly. "Hermione?" he croaked, sounding a little emotional.
Hermione stared at him, her eyes a little amused when she saw his pajamas. Harry didn't notice any of that, and launched himself at her, gathering her up in a tight hug.
"Ouch!" she yelped. "Harry..."
Harry seemed incapable of speech and just held her tighter.
"Ouf," she whimpered. "Harry... I can't breathe..."
Harry pulled away from her and, with some dignity, turned and swept from the room, shooting me one last dirty look as he did so.
Hermione stood in the middle of the common room, looking completely dazed. "Ron," she said, very quietly. "Did Harry just hug me?"
"Uh..." I stuttered. "It would certainly appear that way..."
"Has Harry ever voluntarily hugged anyone before?"
"Err... I don't think so..."
Hermione swallowed. "That's... uh..."
Hermione Granger was at a loss for words. I needed a moment.
Okay. Moment over.
"The things is," I said, very carefully. "Is that... I possibly may have let it slip that..."
Hermione was looking at me in suspicion. "Let what slip?"
"That, err... You-Know-Who had decided to take you hostage in order to, you know, destroy Harry."
"You said WHAT???" she shrieked.
"I, err... was trying to wake him up. Did quite the bang up job of it, too."
"Ron Bilius Weasley, are you telling me that you told Harry that Voldemort was attacking me?"
Ouch. She used my middle name. Never a good sign. "I may have... yes..."
"Hey, everyone!" Dean shouted. "Hermione's trying to kill Ron!"
More choruses of "oohs" and "ahhs." Good to know I was two for two with my best friends trying to murder me.
"Well!" I said, backing up nervously. "You got a hug out of it... so no harm done, really..."
She stalked towards me. "No harm done? You're so STUPID! Throwing one of Harry's biggest fears in his face like that!"
"At least he'll make the Quidditch game on time," I mumbled.
Hermione's eyes actually flashed. "Ron—"
"Hermione," I cut in, practically begging. "I'm sorry, okay? It was stupid. I didn't know he'd take it so seriously... honestly, I really thought he was half-asleep. And when I saw how worried he was, I immediately tried to stop him..."
"He was..." Hermione swallowed. "Worried?"
Great Merlin's ghost, was this woman bloody blind or something?
"Uh, yeah. His hug nearly killed you! I had to tackle him and sit on him to get him to stop trying to go save you! I'd say worried' is a very lose term to describe it, actually. Crazed might do."
"I... really?" she asked hopefully. She frowned. "You sat on him?"
"Let's not dwell on that," I ground out. "Hardly the point. Anyway..."
"Oh, I better go talk to him," she breathed, chewing her lip nervously. "He could still be upset..."
"Great idea!" I exclaimed eagerly. "Bet he's there all alone. Probably trying to get out of those ridiculous Gryffindor lion pajamas." I thought a moment. "Don't tell him I said that."
Hermione was already gone. Well, it was good to see that there was a trend, at least.
Officially, this day wasn't going very well.
I went to breakfast alone and sat alone. Not that Harry and Hermione were ignoring me. No. It wasn't that. They still hadn't appeared yet.
Bloody hell. And we had a Quidditch match starting in...
Damn it! Harry was the one with the watch!
I was very much relieved when Luna sat down next to me. "Hello, Ronald," she greeted cheerfully in her sing-song voice.
"Hi," I said in a melancholy tone.
She looked a little amused at my tone of voice. Covering my hand with her own, she met my eyes. No... not the eyes... anything but the eyes...
"Tell me what's wrong," she whispered.
Sure! Anything! Keep looking at me like that and I'd happily go for another swim! A polar bear swim! I'd fight the giant squid! I'd...
"Harry tried to kill me," I said, realizing that the words sounded somewhat dramatic. "And then Hermione tried to kill me."
And that sounded even more dramatic.
"Hmm..." Luna said, staring off into space. "Were they possessed?"
"With anger, maybe," I muttered. "It, uh... well, I sort of deserved it."
"No one deserves to die," she whispered.
"Well," I said, with a small frown. "They probably would have stopped just short of killing me."
She giggled. "They'll forgive you."
"Dunno," I muttered, beginning to wonder how much I could milk this for. "Apparently, Harry doesn't appreciate being told that You-Know-Who has kidnapped Hermione. He's a little sensitive."
Luna stared at me for a moment before breaking down into a howling fit of laughter. "Oh, Ronald..." she gasped. "You... told... Harry... that...." Tears were literally beginning to stream down her face. "That... that...." She choked, apparently unable to continue.
I couldn't help grinning. "Okay—it was a little bit funny. Mostly terrifying, but...." I trailed off uneasily as Luna abruptly stopped laughing and her face turned somber.
"Yes," Hermione said coolly and I gave a little jump of surprise. "It was simple hilarious. Good morning, Luna."
I winced and slouched down, doing my best to avoid eye contact. "Err, I'm really sorry..."
Hermione sighed. "It's okay. No long term harm done."
I let out a sigh of relief, glad that at least Hermione seemed ready to forgive me. She and Harry dropped onto the bench across from us, Harry glowering at me the entire time.
Clearly, Harry and I still had some unresolved issues to work through.
"Harry..." I stuttered, steadfastly looking away from his angry gaze. "Do you, uh, happen to have the time?"
Harry glanced at his watch. I noticed for the first time that he and Hermione seemed to be wearing matching red eyes. Huh. Interesting. Looked like two people were off having a good cry together. What saps.
"We have 5 minutes," Harry said shortly.
"Good," I said nervously and gestured to the food. "Well... eat up! You're our Seeker, you know. Must get your energy..."
"It's very true," Luna said, leaning forward. "Did you ever hear about Abel Jordan?"
Harry's eyes ticked to her and registered vague annoyance. "No," he snapped.
"Fainted," Luna said knowingly. "Biggest Quidditch match of the year and he just... fainted. Fell right off his broom. No food in his system. Poor Able hadn't been eating right for three days—"
"Okay!" Harry said shortly, reaching for some food. "I'm eating..."
Hermione watched him in slight worry, but the fact that Harry wasn't actively trying to curse me anymore was a definite step up.
"Harry," I said quietly, trying to catch his eyes. "Do you want to talk?"
"Not to you," he said, from between clenched teeth.
Harry and I stood to go down to the Quidditch pitch and Luna and Hermione rose with us, casting uncertain looks in Harry's direction.
"We'll, uh... walk you two to the entrance..." Hermione said faintly.
"Good idea," I said quickly, instinctively ducking behind Luna.
"Best of luck, Ronald," Luna said, nearing Hogwarts' exit. She leaned up and pressed a kiss to my cheek before pulling away and looking into my eyes. "You're still my king..." she whispered.
She hurried away, my eyes lingering on her form. Hermione cleared her throat and I turned to look at her, somewhat bewildered.
"Best of luck, Ronald," she said, with a roll of her eyes, leaning up and pressing a kiss to my other cheek.
"Err... thanks," I said hoarsely.
Hermione turned back to Harry to give him his customary "good luck" kiss before our match. She always did me first, then Harry. It had become somewhat of a tradition for us.
Hermione leaned up to kiss Harry on the cheek and... now this was very interesting, it appeared that she missed. Yeah, some kind of slip up or something. Anyway, instead of kissing his cheek, for some reason she was busily kissing his mouth. Even more interesting, neither of them seemed to be in any hurry to pull away.
Uh, HELLO? GUYS? Hermione meant to kiss your cheek, Harry! She got confused! Perfectly understandable... feel free to separate any time... breathing could be nice...
With a groan, Harry pulled her closer, arms encircling her back. Hermione responded in kind, wrapping her arms around his back and deepening the kiss.
OH! OH! I couldn't look at it! This was disgusting! What were they doing? WHY? WHY WERE THEY DOING IT? Was that TONGUE? BLOODY HELL!
HOW LONG COULD THEY POSSIBLY SNOG FOR???
Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Didn't either of them know I was forced into witnessing this? What did I do to deserve it?
ACID! I needed acid! Snape probably had some... probably be willing to give it to me, too. I could burn my eyes out!
THEY WERE STILL KISSING!
FORGET ACID! I WAS GOING TO CLAW MY EYES OUT! I WAS GOING TO CLAW THEM OUT AND I'D NEVER HAVE TO WITNESS MY TWO BEST FRIENDS KISSING EVER AGAIN!
They separated, taking great gasping breaths of air as they did so. Oh, Merlin... why? Why had I been forced to watch this?
They started rubbing noses, giggling at each other, and staring into each other's eyes. Oh, how sickening. Absolutely disgusting.
"Hmmm..." Harry said with a smile. "We should go, uh..."
"Study!" Hermione interjected. "You have that..."
"Thing," Harry said. "Yes, my... uh... really important..."
"Thing," Hermione said breathlessly. "So very important..."
"Should go do it now..."
They turned to look at me, completely surprised. Yes, I was still there. Unfortunately.
"There..." I said, my chest heaving. "Will. Be. NO. Studying."
I grabbed Harry's arm and physically dragged him away from Hermione and her stupid, distracting lips. Honestly! Can't a boy think about anything else?
"Ron..." Harry said, smacking at my hand. "I have to go—"
"PLAY A QUIDDITCH MATCH!" I hollered.
Some kind of comprehension dawned in his eyes. "Oh, yeah..." he said sheepishly. "We do have Quidditch, don't we?"
"Yes," I said, continuing to drag him toward the Quidditch pitch. "We do."
"Hey, Ron..." he said slowly. "Hermione and I just kissed."
"Yes, you did," I grumbled. "I saw it, thanks."
"It's all because of you, really."
"BECAUSE OF ME???"
"Well, if it hadn't been for that trick you played this morning..."
STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!
"We probably still would've ended up together," Harry continued. "It just would have taken a lot longer. Honestly, it made us deal with a lot of issues right away."
Why was he still talking about this?
"Why are you still talking about this?"
Harry ignored me and stared off into space. "You know when you see something every day and it's really very important to you, but you don't notice it until another day when you realize how very important it is to you?"
Harry sighed. "I just feel stupid for taking so long to see what was right in front of me."
"So that's it, then?" I said, feeling a tad bitter at this point. I mean, it was bad enough I had to witness the two of them playing tonsil hockey, but if Harry continued to go on about his great new lurve I was really very much afraid I might throw up. "It's that simple? What about the drama and the angst? The we can't be togethers because I have to face a really evil wizard' followed by the I won't let you do this alone' and by being with me you're in danger.'"
"Yes, we discussed it," Harry said, face somber. "And we decided it'd be best to skip it."
"Skip it?" Another more disturbing thought struck me. "You've already discussed this?"
"Ron, it's Hermione. There were diagrams, pie charts, lists... it was a very involved conversation."
It was so very sad that I wasn't sure whether or not he was joking.
"That sounds..." Pathetic? Horrible? Stupid? "... nice."
Harry grinned. Damn! Not "the grin." Double damn! It was making me forgive him for sticking his tongue down my Hermione's throat.
"Seemed altogether too melodramatic," Harry said, still grinning. Blast him!
"Fine," I said, beginning to come around. "Just promise me one thing."
Harry glanced at me oddly. "Sure, Ron. Anything."
"Have some mercy and never kiss in front of me again. I almost mauled my own eyes out. I'm going to have nightmares for a week."
Harry smirked. "Okay," he said easily.
Uh, oh. He agreed far, far too quickly.
"What's the catch?"
"There's a catch."
"There's no catch. I won't ever kiss Hermione in front of you again."
I was horrified to see that his smirk was actually widening.
"But," Harry continued lightly. "I can't make a promise for anything... else... we might do in front of you."
Snickering, he disappeared into the Gryffindor changing rooms, leaving me gaping at his back.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
"OI!" I called after him. "We're not finished this yet..."
A/N: Bit of a personal story, I based Ron's reaction to H/Hr kissing (finally!) on one of my best friend's reaction to my declaration that I was an H/Hr shipper. Ron's reaction is a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much as you'd think. Ironically, we're still friends, though I'm not quite sure why. Anyway, thank you for reading (and, um, leaving feedback. Of course.).