TITLE: The Lucky Guy
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah, with much help from JK Rowling
SUMMARY: After Hermione's comments about Harry, Ron wonders if she'll ever be able to see him that way. Part 2 in the Ron/Hermione saga.
PAIRING: Ron/Hermione, duh
RATING: T – I tried to keep it clean. I failed. Some strong language and suggestive dialogue.
DISCLAIMER: My name is not JK Rowling. I am in no way affiliated with her, Warner Bros., Scholastic, or Harry Potter. This is purely to satisfy my muse, which was incredibly disappointed that Ron chose Lavender (LAVENDER!) and simply wanted to do something about it.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Takes place during chapter 11 ("Hermione's Helping Hand") and is told from Ron's POV. Follows "Tripping on Words".
Based on the song "You Don't Know Me" by Ray Charles.

Reviews are always appreciated.

The Lucky Guy

"I watch you walk away beside the lucky guy. To never ever know the one who loves you so, well, you don't know me…" – Ray Charles

"Oh, come on, Harry," Hermione, sounding impatient, as usual. She was really quite cute when she was impatient, and as she was usually impatient, she was usually cute. Oh, well, she was always cute, really, if Ron were forced to admit it. "It's not Quidditch that's popular, it's you!"

Ron stopped what he was doing, fork paused midway to his mouth. His heart thudded loudly in his chest. He hoped she wasn't going where it sounded like she was going. They had made such headway over the summer, after he had stopped putting his foot in his mouth every time he was around her and before Harry had come and told them about the prophecy and before the O.W.L. results had arrived and made Hermione concentrate once again on her schoolwork rather than him. They had made real progress, and Ron was finally starting to think that maybe she actually did fancy him back. But everything he hoped for hinged on how she finished that sentence. Please, Hermione, he thought, don't finish that sentence.

But she did. "You've never been more interesting," she said, "and frankly, you've never been more fanciable."

As soon as the words were out of Hermione's mouth, Ron felt all the breath suddenly leave his body. It wasn't bad enough that his stomach was tied in knots because of the upcoming Quidditch trials; now Hermione had to go and say something like that and make him almost choke on his breakfast.

He knew he had made some sort of noise, gagging on his kipper, but he couldn't help it. Had Hermione just called Harry fanciable? What the bloody hell did she mean by that? Fanciable. It wasn't even a word, really. Why the hell wasn't he fanciable? What made Harry so different from him? Was Hermione actually admitting that she really fancied Harry and not Ron?

This so wasn't what Ron needed right now.

Hermione gave him a disdainful look but basically ignored him and turned back to Harry. "Everyone knows you've been telling the truth now, don't they?" she said. "The whole Wizarding world has had to admit that you were right about Voldemort – " Ron flinched automatically, " – being back and that you really have fought him twice in the last two years and escaped both times. And now they're calling you 'the Chosen One' – well, come on, can't you see why people are fascinated by you?"

Had Ron cared, he would have noticed that Harry was blushing scarlet – almost turning the color of his Quidditch robes, but Ron didn't care. He was too busy trying not to hyperventilate, which wasn't as easy as it sounded. He focused on taking deep, calming breaths and not the words tumbling out of Hermione's mouth, because if he actually listened to what she was saying, he might have to kill himself.

This was not happening. Hermione wasn't really listing all of Harry's positive attributes and basically screaming, Shag me rotten, Harry. She never sat there praising the many good qualities of Ron Weasley, so obviously whatever he thought she felt for him wasn't true, and she really felt that way for his best mate. The thought made him want to puke.

"And," she said, and all Ron could think was, Isn't she done yet?, "you've been through all that persecution from the Ministry when they were trying to make out you were unstable and a liar."

Ron bit back a scoff. He had lived through persecution longer than Harry had. How many times did he have to face Slytherins calling his family blood traitors? His own brother had turned against the family in order to scurry directly to Cornelius Fudge's side. He had to deal with taunts about being poor every day and being called a disgrace to the Wizarding world, and did he ever freak out on his best friends like Harry had done during fifth year?

Okay, so occasionally he let his temper get the best of him, but that didn't happen that often, and he was really trying to put a curb on it. Really.

Oh, but Hermione wasn't done. Apparently, Harry had fifty bazillion fanciable things about him and Hermione felt that she had to point out every one of them in the presence of Ron. She couldn't do this in private or anything. "You can still see the marks on the back of your hand where that evil woman made you write with your own blood, but you stuck to your story anyway…"

Ron had finally had enough. He was going to prove to Hermione that he was fanciable, too. He pushed back the sleeves of his jumper. "You can still see where those brains got hold of me in the Ministry," he said, pointing to the thin scars that peppered his arms, "look."

If he'd had the courage, he would have taken off his jumper, because the scars not only ran down his arms but his chest and his back, too, and if Hermione was impressed by scars, then she would surely be impressed by that. His upper body looked like he'd dove headfirst into a rosebush.

Hermione ignored him. It seems she hadn't yet finished extolling the many virtues of Harry bloody Potter. "And it doesn't hurt that you've grown about a foot over the summer either," she said, nodding emphatically, as if that were the most fabulous thing in the world.

"I'm tall," said Ron. If that was all it took, then he should have girls fawning all over him. He'd always been tall – taller than Harry, as a matter of fact, but it didn't seem to help him any.

Just then the post owls arrived, effectively putting an end to this horrible conversation, though Ron continued to stew on it while Harry and Hermione argued about Harry's potions book – their new ones had arrived from Flourish and Blotts but Harry didn't want to lose the help of the Half-Blood Prince, and Ron could hardly blame him for that. But right at that moment he didn't care about his bloody potions book; Hermione's words were still rattling around in his head. He could barely think of anything else and even after Hermione mentioned that Stan Shunpike had been arrested on suspicion of being a Death Eater, Ron really didn't pay too close attention.

Eventually – though it was much too short a time for Ron's taste – it was time to head down to the Quidditch pitch for the trials. That thought made Ron's nerves and nausea return in one fell swoop, and he was concentrating very hard on not losing his breakfast when suddenly Lavender Brown, who had been walking in front of the three of them with Parvati Patil, turned around and smiled broadly at him.

Ron blinked, surprised. Since when had Lavender ever been friendly towards him? He thought she didn't like him; she was always making fun of him. But he smiled back, a little uncertainly, and she waved and walked away with Parvati, tittering excitedly.

Well, at least Lavender thought he was fanciable. After all, she hadn't smiled at Harry, had she?

Puffing out his chest suddenly, Ron put a little more swagger into his step. Someone thought he was fanciable. Not just someone – a very attractive girl. She thought he was fanciable. Him, Ron, and not the great and fantastic Harry Potter. Hadn't she just smiled at him? Hadn't she just walked away, giggling that he had smiled back? Ron cast a glance at his friends; Harry looked as though he was struggling not to burst into laughter, and Hermione looked like she had just swallowed bubotubber pus, which made Ron feel even better.

However, his good mood faded rapidly as soon as they reached the stadium and she disappeared into the stands without wishing him good luck.

He didn't really know what he was expecting. She had kissed him before the first match last year, and though he was hoping she would do that again, he wasn't expecting her to. Although a simple, "Good luck, Ron" would have sufficed. She'd just wandered off without saying anything, without even looking at him. Was it possible that she was jealous of the way he had reacted to Lavender?

Good, Ron thought suddenly. Let her be jealous for once.

Ron settled in to watch the Chaser and Beater tryouts and trying not to think about Hermione, but watching the trials just made him think of his own, which was fast approaching, and so his eyes kept being drawn to the area of the stands in which she had finally decided to sit. She looked thoroughly hacked off, but even then she looked cute, with her arms folded defiantly across her chest and her adorable, if intimidating, pout.

All too soon, the Beater tryouts were over, and it was time for the Keepers. Ron tore his eyes away from Hermione and glanced across the pitch at the hoops they would be guarding and wished he hadn't eaten so much for breakfast. Nevertheless, he mounted his broom and joined the other Keepers.

He watched each applicant with growing displeasure. They were rubbish – not one of them managed to save more than two goals – and Ron couldn't help thinking what rubbish he was. What made him think he could do this? He knew he had done a spectacular performance at last years Quidditch final, but he hadn't been able to practice very much this summer, and if he wasn't good enough for Hermione was he really good enough at all?

Ron watched Cormac McLaggen's trial with great interest and a disturbed stomach. McLaggen, he had to grudgingly admit, was pretty good. He saved four out of five goals, though on the last one he didn't even fly in the right direction. The crowd laughed, and Ron wanted to join in, but his body wouldn't cooperate. All he could think was, Oh, God, it's my turn.

He was about ready to pass out. He should just give up, tell Harry to pick McLaggen and spend the rest of his life watching the matches up in the stands with Hermione, like he should have done all along. What made him think he could play Quidditch on the same level as the great Harry Potter – or even his own sister, who had been superb during the Chaser tryouts?

He mounted his Cleansweep and took his place before the hoops.

"Good luck!" said a voice from the stands – a voice that was definitely female and very familiar, although unfortunately not the voice he wanted it to be. It wasn't Hermione, but Lavender. Ron stared incredulously at her, sure his mouth was hanging open, and after a moment she turned bright red and hid her face in her hands.

He took a deep breath and faced the Chasers. Well, at least someone had wished him luck.

The Chasers came at him one at a time, each trying to score. Ron cleared his mind and focused on their movements. Demelza Robins was first. She threw the Quaffle low and fast, but Ron stretched and caught it with a good meter to spare. Emboldened by his success, he turned to face the next Chaser – Katie. She flew up from below, arcing the Quaffle upwards. Ron dropped his broom lower and caught the Quaffle as it came sailing over his head. His ego inflating slightly, he prepared himself for the next penalty. Ginny zoomed in and around the goal hoops, obviously trying to confuse him, and it very nearly worked, but he anticipated where she was going to end up and managed to catch the Quaffle by the very tips of his fingers. Demelza's second penalty shot had a bit of a spin on it, curving to the side, but Ron lunged and caught it in the crook of his arm. The fifth and final shot was from Katie, but Ron wasn't even worried. He'd already caught four of them and so had McLaggen, and when Katie took her shot Ron didn't even have time to think about it. He caught it with no problems and the crowd erupted in cheers.

Ron joined the rest of the team, who were all congratulating him on his superb performance. Harry was talking to McLaggen, who was obviously upset that Harry had chosen Ron over him, but when he turned around, he was grinning.

"Well done," Harry said to him. "You flew really well – "

"You did brilliantly, Ron!" said a very familiar voice, and Ron glanced over to see Hermione running towards him, beaming. Her entire face had lit up with her smile, and her eyes sparkled, and her frizzy curls (and other parts of her body) were bouncing as she ran. Ron's stomach did an involuntary flip and he couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face. He pulled himself up a little taller and smiled at everyone, but he really couldn't take his eyes off Hermione.

They said goodbye to the rest of the team and tromped off towards Hagrid's, and with Hermione so pleased with his performance at the trials, he couldn't resist the urge to prove to her that he was every bit as fanciable as Harry.

"I thought I was going to miss that fourth penalty," Ron said, extremely happy for the first time in a while. "Tricky shot from Demelza, did you see, had a bit of a spin on it – "

Hermione interrupted him. "Yes, yes, you were magnificent," she said, but she didn't sound impatient with him. She sounded very pleased, and that made Ron feel a million times better than he had this morning.

"I was better than that McLaggen anyway," Ron said, puffing out his chest importantly. "Did you see him lumbering off in the wrong direction on his fifth? Looked like he'd been Confunded."

He continued to relive his tryout the entire way down to Hagrid's, but once they arrived there, they had to convince Hagrid that they didn't really hate his class but that they just couldn't fit it into their schedules, and then Hagrid started blubbering about that blasted Aragog. They finally managed to pacify him, but it took quite some time, and by the time they were wandering across the darkened grounds back up to the castle for supper, Ron's stomach was growling.

When they walked into the castle and approached the Great Hall, Ron saw McLaggen trying to go inside. He slammed into the door frame and ricocheted off the first time he tried, but he managed to squeak through on his second attempt. Ron burst out laughing at the sight and had the sudden urge to yell something, but he didn't. He just followed him into the Great Hall and made his way towards the Gryffindor table. He was about halfway there when he realized he was alone. Hermione and Harry were still out in the hall.

Ron's good mood immediately soured. Now what in the hell would they be doing out in the hall?

He headed back towards the doorway and poked out. They weren't doing anything suspicious – it just looked like they were talking. But why couldn't they talk inside the Great Hall? Had they just been waiting for him to leave so that they could talk about the secret relationship Ron hoped they didn't have but had always suspected would one day happen? After all, why would Hermione want poor, boring, not special Ron Weasley when she could have fabulous and famous Harry Potter?

"What are you two doing?" he asked, which came out more as a demand than as the casual question he'd been aiming for.

"Nothing," both Harry and Hermione said together, which was even more suspicious than the whole situation. They hurried over to him and the three of them walked into the Great Hall together.

Ron grumpily sat down at the table. Obviously he'd been mistaken. Hermione didn't fancy him. Harry was the lucky guy she wanted to be with.

He suddenly wasn't hungry.