Harry was staring outside the windows in Gryffindor's common room. It was late Monday evening and he felt like he had just had the most miserable day in his life, well, this year at least. Harry had taken all the advice Professor Mcgonagall had given him about how to become an auror, and he was determined to succeed, even if it meant spending another two years under Professor Snape in Potions. Unfortunately things weren't looking too good at the moment, for some reason Professor Snape seemed determined for Harry to fail Potions, and was making life difficult for him with endless homework and extra tasks which no-one else seemed to be getting. Snape also had the habit of continuously towering over him in class watching Harry's every move as he struggled to make the perfect potion, it was at times like these when Harry wished Ron and Hermione had taken Potions for their N.E.W.Ts; at least then he'd have some comfort. The pressure seemed unbearable and with Snape setting impossible deadlines for Harry's extra tasks he was starting to slip in his other subjects. Even in Defence against the dark arts Harry had slipped from an "E" to an "A". To add to his troubles "The Daily Prophet" had been writing articles about the death of Sirius and it was clear that the newspaper was more than happy about the death of a "cold-hearted murderer" and "supporter of you-know-who".
Still he thought anything's better than spending my time back at Privet Drive with the Dursley's, at least that offered some kind of consolation. Harry's train of thought was interrupted by the sound of the common room door slamming shut followed by the rowing of two very familiar voices…
"You just don't get it do you Hermione! The only reason Krum is still writing to you is because its obvious he wants some inside information!" Ron was shouting to what looked like an enraged Hermione,
"Inside information! What do you mean inside information?" she shouted back
"Bloody hell Hermione! He wants to know what Harry and Dumbledore's plans are doesn't he? So that he can report back to Vol…you-know-who! Krum's on the dark side, you can tell!"
"Viktor is NOT on the dark side! He is writing to me Ron because he want's to know how I've been and what I've been doing! He hasn't asked about Harry OR Professor Dumbledore ONCE!"
Ron looked at Hermione as though she had suddenly become incredibly stupid "Well of course he isn't!" he replied, "that's all part of his plan see, he's being sneaky so that we won't be suspicious and then, THEN he will strike!"
Hermione groaned in frustration "It's obvious that you will never agree with me being in contact with Viktor, Ron, and I'm sick and tired of you making out that Viktor is some sort of accomplice in…well HIS plan, so I give up ok? I don't care what you think because either way I am NOT going to stop talking to him alright?" Ron didn't say anything, he merely looked at the floor with an angry expression on his face and looked like he wanted to throw something at her.
"Now if you DON'T mind, I am going to bed!" yelled Hermione, "Night Harry" she said.
"Night Hermione" Harry replied. Ron watched as Hermione ran up the stairs to the Girl's dormitory then slumped down next to Harry by the windowsill.
"Alright Harry?" Ron spoke, "sorry you had to see that mate, but that girl does my head in! I mean what does she see in Krum? Yeah he's one hell of a quidditch player but he's not exactly the liveliest person around is he?"
Harry smiled furtively and chuckled, shaking his head. Ron noticed this immediately and demanded to know what Harry meant by this response. At first, Harry hesitated but then realised that if he didn't tell Ron now he never would, and to be honest, his two best friends' repetitive argument was starting to get rather boring.
"Ron, come on, why don't you just admit the REAL problem here?" he said,
"What are you talking about Harry? The real problem is that Krum is on the dark side and…"
"Yeah sure, and my names not really Harry Potter its Michael Patterson" interrupted Harry, "Ron, just admit it why don't you?"
"Admit what?" said Ron awkwardly, the expression on his face had suddenly changed from anger to nervousness.
"You like her don't you?" Ron opened his mouth but before he could say anything Harry jumped in, "and I DON'T mean as in best friend…I mean you like her as in, well, MORE than a friend"
Ron started laughing, "ME! Fancy Hermione? Are you kidding? I'd rather kiss Eloise Midgeon's boils!"
Harry gave Ron a do-you-think-i'm-stupid look and Ron's smile started to fade and he began scratching his neck uncomfortably.
"I've seen the look's you give her Ron you know, ever since the Yule Ball you've started to see Hermione in a new light…you just didn't realise until your first quidditch match last year against Slytherin when she kissed you on the cheek" Harry said softly. Harry explained that he had known Ron for 6 years now and could practically tell what his best friend was feeling just by looking at the expression on his face. He just hadn't said anything until now because he thought Ron might have been going through a phase like he did with Cho, and wanted to make sure that his feelings were genuine.
Ron ran his fingers through his hair, there was no point denying it now, Harry was his best friend and if he couldn't admit the truth to Harry, then who else could he speak to?
"I don't know what to do Harry, I've tried telling her, I really have…its just whenever I look at her I start to think, why? Why would someone as clever and as beautiful as Hermione ever take an interest in me? I mean…look at me, I wear hand-me-down-robes, I look like a skrewt, I've got the attention span of Pig and I've got the intelligence of a newly-born monkey! There's no way she would want me when she could have someone like Krum…no way…" Ron said quietly, he looked really upset, as though his whole world had come crashing down. Harry had no idea what to say, he knew that Ron wasn't any of the things he had just described himself as but was just lost for any words that could possibly comfort him. The awkward silence was broken by a burst of giggles from behind them. Harry turned round and saw Parvati and Lavender looking at Ron smiling, it was obvious they had heard every word Ron had just said. From the look on Harry's face both girls realised they were not wanted and turned to walk away, but right behind the spot which Lavender and Parvati stood was Hermione and from the look on her face, she too had heard every word…