A ray of sunshine drifted lazily through the room of Hermione Granger. She was still peacefully asleep. But not for much longer. A piercing squawk caused her to jolt awake. She was disoriented for a moment from the sudden awakening. The squawk came again and she realized an owl was outside her window. She recognized the owl as Ron's.

An icy cold shiver of dread went through her. She knew she had not written Ron this week or last week. She had received a letter from him 4 days ago asking where her letter was. This letter was sure to be angry.

Hermione removed the letter from the owl's leg and opened it. Ron's untidy scrawl read thus: Hermione, what is going on! I have not heard from you in over a week! Why are you ignoring me? If I don't hear back from you soon, I'm coming over. –Ron.

From any other point of view, this letter would have seemed whiny and rude. The threat an empty one. But to Hermione, it was serious. She would not put it past Ron to actually pay her a visit. And knowing him, it would not be fun. Hermione sighed. It was a tiresome game writing to Ron. He wanted to hear from her every week. Have her tell him everything that went on, where she went, who she saw. It was like checking in with an overprotective warden. Of course, Hermione didn't tell Ron everything. She left certain pieces out. If she was to keep any sort of sanity, she was going to have to keep some things private.

Once school started again, it was going to be much harder to keep anything private from Ron. It was a tiresome game she played but she didn't know a way out of it. She came up with ideas of course. But she never had the nerve to actually do anything about it.

Though there did not seem to be a respite anytime soon, Hermione held fast to a small glimmer of hope tucked deep in her heart. Hope of liberation. Hope of love. Even though Ron said her loved her, Hermione didn't feel it. Love did not hurt, demand, and oppress.

Still lost in thought, Hermione went downstairs to start the day. On the landing, she saw the calendar. Five days until school started again. She felt a mix of excitement and dread. She wondered who had been appointed Head Girl. Even though she didn't say it, she secretly hoped it would be her. Then she would get her own dorm to be shared only with the Head Boy. And she wouldn't have to be in the same house as Ron. Hermione smiled and went down to the kitchen to get some breakfast. She would write the letter to Ron later.