The 38 Fears of Ronald Weasley
"I'm telling you, Harry. She's absolutely barmy!" Ron shrieked as he walked through the portrait hole. "Completely off her nut."
Hermione turned to glare at him. She was settled on the sofa enjoying a few moments with her newest book before lunchtime. It was actually quiet in the common room and she'd decided to wait for Harry and Ron there. They were early, and Hermione had hardly finished a paragraph of her book.
Harry was smirking at Ron, looking truly amused for the first time in Hermione's recent memory. She was a bit annoyed at the interruption from her reading, but she pushed it aside and found herself quite curious about what could possibly entertain Harry this much.
"Come on, Harry. You know she's mental. We only take the bloody course because it's easy."
"Perhaps it's easier for you than we thought. It appears you have untapped resources," Harry said, trying to look serious.
"If you are speaking of Divination," Hermione began, knowing her words would fall on deaf ears, "the two of you don't take it because it's easy. You take it to avoid a real class, like Arithmancy."
"I wish I'd listened to you," Ron said, dully.
Hermione goggled at him. She pulled herself to her feet, half in shock and half amused.
"Yeah, that's right, Hermione," Ron said, his temper coming to the surface. "I admitted you were right about something. I wish I was taking bloody Arithmancy instead of Divination. Then I wouldn't have to listen to that old, mental Trelawney and her load of rubbish."
Ron stomped up the stairs toward his dormitory.
"Ron, aren't you hungry? We were supposed to go to the Great Hall for—"
"I lost my appetite," he said, without turning around.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other for a long moment before either of them spoke. Hermione finally couldn't stand it and decided to break the silence.
"What in the name of Godric Gryffindor happened during your lesson today?"
"Oh, nothing. I don't know why Ron is so upset. Trelawney's been after Ron since last term. The old bat seems to think he's got the Sight." Harry imitated Trelawney's airy voice with his last two words, forcing Hermione to battle back a snort of laughter.
"Well, extra attention from Professor Trelawney would certainly be unwelcome, but he's never been this angry about it before. Moaning about star charts perhaps, but not angry."
"Trelawney's been after us to find our gifts. Using it as an excuse to nose into our private lives, if you ask me. She's had us making lists of everything she can think of. Every time we hand one in, she finds something in Ron's to prove he's a Seer."
They both tried to hold straight faces.
"Well, that must be...really annoying," Hermione said, struggling to hold back a gale of giggles that would put Parvati and Lavender to shame.
"It is an improvement from her constant predictions of my death."
"That's not funny, Harry," Hermione said. She really hated when he or Ron joked about something as serious as the danger Harry was in, even if it was just another daft, false prediction of Professor Trelawney's.
"I'm sorry, Hermione."
"It's all right," she said, realizing that it was better for Harry to make jokes than to brood. "Go ahead."
"Well, today, she took us by surprise. Handed out rolls of parchment, told us to get out our quills, and asked us to make a list of things we were afraid of. Even though Trelawney told us we wouldn't be handing our lists in because she wanted us to feel free to empty our minds, Ron and I decided we'd better make most of it up."
"Can't really afford to take chances, can we?"
"We added a few real ones. Ron put down 'spiders', of course. We came up with some interesting fakes, though."
"Why would that upset Ron so much, Harry?"
"I'm coming to that," Harry told her, and Hermione forced herself to be more patient than she actually felt. "Anyway, after Trelawney shushed us for about the fifth time and told us we had to work separately, Ron got rather quiet. He wrote down a few things, but he was frowning a lot. I tried to look, but he guarded his parchment with his arm so I couldn't see it."
"But why would he care if you read it if he was making it all up?" Hermione asked, and she realized the answer to her own question. "He wasn't making it up."
"Trelawney stopped us and asked us to look at our lists. If our inner eye was unclouded, she said we'd find we've actually had to face most of those fears directly. According to her, some Seers experience their visions in a form they find more familiar, like dreams or fears."
"Well," Hermione began, thoughtfully. "I can see why Ron was unnerved. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, Harry, but Ron's been afraid of spiders forever, hasn't he? Then the two of you had to face Aragog back in our second year."
"That's not all, though. Ron looked at his list and he looked like Nearly Headless Nick had just walked through him. I thought I heard him say, almost all of them, but I wasn't sure. Trelawney certainly heard him, though."
"Oh, no. She singled him out again?"
"Worse. She told him to look very carefully at his list again. Now, steel yourself, child," he said, in his best Trelawney voice, "because any fear you haven't faced as of this day awaits you in your future."
"Oh, rubbish. He can't believe that."
"I'm going up there," Harry said. "I'm going to remind him that he's no bloody Seer."
"I'm going with you," Hermione said, determinedly. "If we can convince him soon, there's still time for lunch at the Great Hall. He'll be impossible to deal with today if we don't get some food into him."
Hermione followed Harry to his room, and she waited outside while Harry went in to make sure anyone inside was dressed. By the time Harry came back for her, his face was already red with repressed laughter.
"It's just us," Harry told her. "And Ron's as decent as he's going to be."
Hermione raised her eyebrow at Harry, wondering how long it would take to get Ron to see reason.
Ron was pacing the room when she came in, but when he saw her, he abruptly stopped.
"Ah. Hello, Hermione," he said, as though the scene downstairs had never happened.
"Hello, Ron," Hermione said, guardedly. "How did you sleep? Lovely weather we're having today, don't you think? What do you think our chances are against Slytherin in Quidditch this weekend?" she said, sarcastically.
"What are you on about?" Ron asked her.
"Well, if you're going to stand here pretending you didn't just blow up at Harry in the common room, I thought I should probably make some small talk."
"Listen, it's nothing," Ron told her, speaking very quickly. "I'm just being a git. Let's go to lunch."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "You're lying," she said. "Harry told me about the list."
"Harry!" Ron exclaimed. "You said you wouldn't mention it—"
"It's no good being mad at Harry. You're upset and you should talk about it," Hermione said, wishing for the millionth time in her life that Ron would just be reasonable.
"I don't want to," Ron said with finality.
"You and I both know Professor Trelawney can't be taken seriously. I'm sure you wrote down something like a fear that something would happen to Harry or to your family." She looked him directly in the eyes, knowing from experience that her certainty would help to convince him. "Ron, just because you wrote something down doesn't mean it's going to come true."
Ron was quiet, and Hermione knew she'd guessed right.
"Everyone has a fear, deep down, that something will happen to someone they love," Hermione continued, sitting down on Ron's bed. "I'm sure that Seers, if any truly exist, have the same fear. It doesn't mean it will come to pass."
"Harry, could you leave us alone for a bit?" Ron asked, his voice quiet and oddly calm.
"I—well, I—yes," Harry said, clearly taken aback at Ron's request. "I suppose I could do that." He turned and left, but not before she saw him give Ron a very odd look indeed.
Ron was quiet after Harry left, but Hermione was grateful that he'd stopped pacing. He seemed to be struggling with a decision. Her heart beat quickly in her chest as she wondered what could possibly be troubling him this much.
"Do you know why I'm so good at Wizard's Chess, Hermione?"
Of every possibility she'd considered in her own mind, this was the absolute last thing she'd expected him to say.
"Blimey, this is going to sound daft," he said, swearing under his breath.
"Ron, just go ahead. You'll feel better if you talk about it."
"All right, but remember...I was pretty young when I started playing Chess. The way the pieces moved on their own, it all seemed real. I thought if I didn't win, the pieces would die. I know it makes me sound like a nutter. I mean, I knew you could reset the board and play again, it just seemed really important."
Ron's eyes pleaded with hers. Please figure it out so I don't have to say it.
"I'm still not sure what this has to do with your Divination lesson. I'm sorry," she apologized, though it wasn't her fault.
"I know I'm just Ron. Nothing extraordinary. I only got six OWLs. I'll be lucky to get enough NEWTs to get a decent job. It's absolutely barking to think that I know what's going to happen before it does."
He looked away from her and shut his eyes as though he were in pain.
"I used to be afraid of what would happen if I lost a Wizard's Chess game. Then, back in our first year—"
"You did have to win the game. Everything depended on it," she said, realizing what he'd been trying to tell her.
"It's just a coincidence, isn't it?" he asked, not sounding entirely convinced.
"I think I'm going to surprise you, Ron," Hermione began, though the skeptic in her screamed in dissent. "I don't think you should rule it out. If you think you have a gift for something, I think you should pursue it. If it isn't true, at least you'll know."
Ron looked at her, and took a deep breath.
"I don't want it to be true, Hermione."
"It would be quite a burden," she acknowledged.
Ron reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out a dented roll of parchment.
"It's not because of that. It's because of this," he said, shaking the parchment a little. "Oh, bloody hell."
"Let me see it," she said, her curiosity winning out over her fear of what she'd find there.
He guarded it for a moment, clutching it tightly in his right hand. Then he chuckled. It was a dark laugh, one without true mirth, and it made her a little afraid for him.
"Ron, you don't have to—"
"No. Take it," he said, with sudden decisiveness. "Read it. It'll all be obvious one day anyway. May as well be today." He crossed the room with long, quick strides and towered over her for a moment before he pressed the parchment into her hands.
"I don't think I should—"
"It's nothing to be afraid of, Hermione. You'll never look at me the same way again, but I can't pretend anymore."
Her own fears overtook her and the parchment felt heavy in her hands.
"Ron, I know I don't seem like the best sort of friend sometimes. I know I nag you. I'm constantly after you to read or do revisions. I know I have a bad temper, and you're the one on the wrong end of it most of the time. I hope you know that, even through all of that, I really care about you," she said, and then quickly added, "and Harry."
"What are you talking about?"
"I thought...well, if I'm about to read that one of your fears is that you won't be able to stay friends with me because I'm bossy and demanding, I just wanted you to know that."
"Where did you get that idea?" he asked her, his eyes wide with surprise.
"Well, it's logical. You asked Harry to leave, so obviously, the problem isn't with him. It must be with me."
"You're wrong," he said, shaking his head a little as though he was trying to clear his head. "Well, you're right in one way. It is about you, but it's not what you think. Just open it, and find out what an utter prat I am. It's about time you knew."
She opened the parchment with trembling hands, and she scanned it quickly. The first few entries in the list were lined through, except for "Spiders." That section must have been the fears he fabricated when he and Harry first started working on the assignment.
His handwriting got smaller and more deliberate-looking after those, as though he'd taken a lot of time thinking about each item in the list. She saw 'Voldemort returning to power' and 'Something bad happening to Harry' on the list.
Just under that was 'Something bad happening to Hermione.'
Her eyes blurred for a moment and she saw a pattern in the rest of the list. There was one word sprinkled in quite liberally. She recognized it right away, as it was the first word she'd ever learned to spell.
Everywhere she looked, her own name was there.
'Hermione gets a boyfriend and forgets about us.'
'Hermione married to Viktor Krum.'
'I try to tell Hermione how I feel and she laughs at me.'
Her breath caught in her throat. She had to look at Ron, but she couldn't. She fixed her eyes to the parchment, to the repetition of her own name.
"The 38 fears of Ronald Weasley," Ron said, in a dull, lifeless voice. "I'm sorry, Hermione. If you can just forget—"
"Ron," she began, and had to clear her throat to find her own voice. "You're not a Seer."
"What are you talking about?" he asked her, softly, his voice full of hope.
"Nothing else on this list will ever come true. Harry and I will be fine, and the three of us will always be friends. I'd never laugh at you. And I'm certainly never marrying Viktor."
"Why not?" he said, and she had to take another deep breath to gather her courage.
"Because he's not you."
She stood, and put out her hand. He looked at it for a moment before he took it, and Hermione could feel both of their futures changing.
Now there were only 33 fears of Ronald Weasley.