I Can't Talk About It
Author's Note: A short little piece about what happened to Hermione after she left Harry at the party.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling. I'm just playing around. "I can't talk about it" is a pretty little song by El Perro Del Mar. Sadly I could find no lyrics, but go listen to it if you're interested.
No, she most certainly wouldn't. Increasing her speed, she marched determinedly down the corridor towards the portrait hole. Only a little further, then she'd be safely inside the common room, in the company of dozens of people who would ensure that no further embarrassment had to be endured by her.
"Wait, I say!"
Then again, there'd been several dozens of people at the party, and that hadn't stopped him from attempting to manhandle her under the mistletoe.
"Hermione, just slow down and listen to me!"
Oh, he was infuriating! Whowas he to give her orders! "No, Cormac, I most certainly will not! Now, please, will you just leave me alone?"
But he kept striding along after her. "I don't understand what your problem is," he said, in that annoying, pompous voice of his. "I thought we were having a perfectly pleasant time—"
Oh, this was just too much. She had to interrupt him. "Oh, really?" she hissed, stopping and spinning around so quickly he almost bumped into her. Taking a step back, he stood towering over her as she glared up at him.
"Yes, really," he replied testily. "So I don't see why you were so desperate to leave all of a sudden."
"Oh, let me get this straight." Her voice was as cold as ice. "You're confused by, and in complete awe of the fact that the second time you tried to feel me up under the mistletoe, I was anything less than flattered?"
He narrowed his eyes at her. "I did not try to feel you up."
She raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest. "No? What would you call it, then?"
He stood silent, attempting to look offended, but clearly searching for a possible answer. Finally, he just raised his chin and stared down at her contemptuously. "You and I both know I didn't do anything you didn't want me to do."
Hermione's mouth fell open. What an incredibly idiotic thing to say. "Do you honestly believe that!"
"Come on, admit it. You're a tease. You enjoy leading blokes on, then telling them off if they actually make a move."
Hermione just shook her head and stared at him, amazed. She'd have boiled with indignity if it weren't for the sheer absurdity of his accusation. Her? A tease? It was laughable – anyone in school would agree.
"You are so utterly and fantastically dense," she managed, still in awe.
Ignoring her, he continued, "I'll bet you treated Krum the same way, eh? Shutting him out and yelling at him after letting him cop a feel here, allowing him a peek there—"
"You have some nerve!" Hermione's bafflement had turned to fury in an instant.
"Well, apparently I hit one," Cormac said, looking pleased as he rubbed his sore cheek.
"How dare you make assumptions about me and Viktor? You know nothing about—"
"Oh, come on, Hermione. The whole school made assumptions about you two."
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. This was new. What kind of assumptions? Well, she could only imagine what kind… Instinctively, she shook her head. "What?"
"Don't pretend you didn't know. As if you didn't like being talked about." He was smirking now, and clearly enjoying himself immensely.
"I…" She cleared her throat, suddenly feeling very small under his arrogant stare. But she would not let him win this. "I don't have to defend myself to you," she finished frostily. "Good night, Cormac."
She turned on her heel to continue back to the common room, but was forced to stop as a hand caught her arm in a painful grip. "We're not done here!"
Gasping, she gritted her teeth as tears pricked at her eyes. "Yes, we are, and have been for quite a while. So let me go, you big troll!"
"No! You'll just run off again. And I won't let you go 'til you've admitted —"
Cormac let go of her arm as if electrocuted, and they both turned to see Ron and Lavender standing a bit further down the corridor. Her – clearly intrigued. Him – positively livid.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Ron's voice was dangerously low and sent an odd thrill down Hermione's spine.
"Mind your own business, Weasley," Cormac snapped. "This is between me and Hermione."
Ron looked at him murderously, then turned his eyes to meet hers. "Is he bothering you?" She felt her stomach knot itself up tightly. That look he was giving her… It was just too much. And it took all her self-restraint to not melt into a little puddle right then and there.
"I can take care of myself, Ron." She was amazed at how cool and collected she managed to sound. "So you can just continue off to whatever deserted classroom you intended on defiling tonight."
Lavender raised her eyebrows at her classmate's catty tone and let out a soft, "Oooh, touchy…", which Hermione ignored. She kept her gaze locked with Ron's, determined not to look away, and suddenly realised that this was a test. She wondered if he understood that. Probably not. He'd most likely look away any second now. Grab Lavender's hand and walk off. And she'd be stuck here alone with the ogre again. Any moment now…
But Ron didn't move. He just stared at her with those intense blue eyes as the silence hung thick in the air, and in the end she was the one who had to look away.
First to speak was Cormac. "You heard her. She wants you to leave."
"No, she doesn't," Ron said fiercely. "She wants you to leave. And I reckon you should bloody well be gone already."
He'd taken a few steps towards Cormac, and Hermione saw that they were almost exactly the same height. The older boy was broad-shouldered and thick-necked – Ron looked almost slender-limbed next to him. Looking at her friend – well, former friend – standing there, dressed in worn corduroys and a light blue, home-made sweater, his hair on end and his face flushed with anger, Hermione felt dizzy and love-sick.
Why Lavender, Ron? What's she done to deserve you?
Cormac was drawing himself up to his full height, clearly bothered by the fact that – for once – he couldn't look down on the person he was addressing. "My, aren't you eager to play the knight in shining armour?"
"No, I'm just eager to kick your useless arse all the way to Hogsmeade. So just sod off before I get too tempted, will you?"
Cormac snorted. Apparently he had no comeback, so instead he turned to Lavender. "You'd better hold on tight to your boyfriend. Seems his priorities aren't all sorted out, eh?"
Hermione's chest tightened at this insinuation, and Lavender looked affronted, but not confused. She understood all too well. Glaring at Cormac's back as he finally gave up and sauntered off towards the portrait hole, she said to Hermione, "I can't believe you went out with him. What a pig."
For the first time in… well, possibly ever, Hermione found herself agreeing with her dorm mate. But she'd rather endure another session under the mistletoe with the pig in question than admit to her own lack of judgement. "Look, we were having a perfectly good time 'til you two showed up," she said.
Ron snorted. "Good time? My arse. You don't need to put on a show, Hermione."
She rounded on him. "Oh, don't be so patronising, Ron! I didn't ask you to come here and rescue me in some grand, Lancelot-like manner. You took that upon yourself. I was doing fine. Now would you two please just leave me alone?"
Oh, Lavender was having an absolute field day with this, she was sure. The stories she could tell about goody-goody Hermione Granger, having a fit over some boy who dared make a move at her. Dear old Hermione, so prim and proper, can you believe that someone actually thought it was worth trying something with her?
Hermione willed the lump that had formed in her throat to go away. Could they just go, instead of stand there and look at her like she was some poor, lost little kitten?
Crossing her arms and looking away, she heard Ron say to Lavender, "Look, could you leave us for a bit?" Hermione stole a glance at the other girl, only to catch her glaring back at her.
"You want to be alone with her? Why?" Lavender's voice was rather shrill.
"Oh, lay off it. We just need to talk. Please? I'll be right there."
There was a pause, and then – with an indignant little "Hmph" – Lavender stalked off down the corridor.
Silence. Hermione couldn't stand it, so she spoke. "We have nothing to talk about. So you can run after her right away. I'd hate to cut into your tradition of an evening snogfest."
She could hardly recognise her own voice. When had it become this caustic? Looking up at him, she tried hard to look sulky instead of on the verge of tears. It was hard work, but she wouldn't break down in front of him. Not ever. He wasn't worth it.
Though he is, isn't he? He's worth everything.
He was looking at her with a pained expression on his face. It made her chest ache. "Look, we obviously have a problem."
Astounded at how matter-of-factly he stated this, she struggled to keep her cool. "What problem? I don't have a problem. Maybe you have a problem, but I don't."
He just looked at her. Could he stop with that? It was making her head swim. "Ron, honestly, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Really? So you're not mad at me for going out with Lavender?"
"No, why would I be?" She wondered if she really was as lousy a liar as she felt.
"Because, maybe… or apparently, more like it… it meant we couldn't go to the party together."
She quickly shifted her gaze to a sleeping, pyjama-clad wizard in a painting on the wall. Pressing her lips tightly together, she drew in a shaky breath and held it. No crying. Not now.
He sighed at her silence. "Though I don't see how me going out with Lavender got in the way of that. I mean, we were going as…" his voice was apprehensive now, "…as friends, right?"
She couldn't hold it in anymore. Looking at him almost desperately, she threw her hands into the air. "It was a date, Ron! Does it matter what we were going as? All that matters is that I, at least, was looking forward to it!"
"So was I!" he said.
She snorted. "Hardly! But I was. A lot, actually. I was looking forward to going to a big, fancy, interesting party, where there would be big, fancy, interesting people. I was looking forward to feeling a bit special, knowing that someone thought I was interesting enough to be at that party with all those people. I was looking forward to dressing up for once, feeling pretty for once, because you know what? Amidst all the Lavenders and Parvatis and Cho Changs of Hogwarts, it's not much fun being me. But most of all…" She couldn't bear to look at him anymore. The stupid tears were coming. "Most of all I was looking forward to going there with someone I knew I'd have a good time with. Someone who it took me ages to work up the nerve to ask, 'cause I was so scared I'd been wrong about a bunch of things, and that he'd laugh it off and say no." She choked back a sob. The sound was mortifying and she leaned against the wall, covering her eyes with her hands. "And it turned out I had been wrong! Turned out he didn't give a flying Knut about going to the party with me, because no, he'd rather spend his time snogging one of the prettiest girls in our year! And can you blame him! As if he'd ever choose—"
She broke off before she exposed herself even more than she already had and sank to the floor, sobbing. The situation was surreal and horrible and she never wanted to look at Ron again, therefore her hands remained firmly clamped over her eyes.
This silence, it was awful. She wanted to die. She wanted to disintegrate and never be reassembled. Had he left? She didn't have a clue. But then his voice came, soft and pleading, "Hermione…"
She shook her head. "Can you just go away?" she said fiercely. "Just leave me alone."
But he didn't leave, did he? She heard no footsteps. Just silence, 'til that wonderful voice filled the corridor again. "Hermione, I swear. I was looking forward to it loads. I'd picked out clothes and everything."
She couldn't help a muffled little laugh. "You planned an outfit?" she said with a sniffle.
"Yeah. After the whole Yule Ball fiasco, I swore I'd be prepared the next time I was going to a formal event."
She almost forgot she was angry and sad. But only almost. "Then what happened? Why did you… I mean, you…" She dried her eyes on her sleeve and then fixed them on the skirting-board on the opposite wall. "Why did you get so angry with me?"
She glanced up at him only to see him looking rather guilty. "I, uh… It was… I had my reasons," he stammered.
Not good enough. As hard as it was to be angry with him when he looked so lost and lovely, she had to be hard. She owed that to herself, or to her pride, at the very least. "What reasons, then? Let's hear."
But his mouth was clamped shut. Clearly, this was nothing he wanted to divulge. Snorting and shaking her head, she said, "Why am I not surprised?"
He looked pained now. "Hermione, please, I just…" Reaching out to her, he let his fingers lightly touch her hair. The sensation went like a jolt through Hermione and she shot up, shocking him. She couldn't stay here. Not if he was going to plead with her and touch her and look at her with those painfully blue eyes. Her resolve had already shown signs of weakening, and she couldn't have that.
"I think your girlfriend's waiting for you," she said, her voice cold and devoid of emotion.
"Hermione, aren't we going to—"
"No, no more talking, Ron. Go have your snog. See if I care."
You've already showed him you do. So don't act aloof, you're rubbish at it.
He looked dejected, disappointed, annoyed. "Fine. I guess we won't talk about it."
"Right you are."
She turned around to head back to the common room, but found her arm being grabbed for the second time this evening. Though this hand was gentler. And warmer.
"You're not the only one who was scared, you know? I was bloody petrified. Positive I'd gotten the whole thing wrong and that I'd make an arse out of myself if I acted on… something."
And suddenly she was fighting tears again, and felt equally as desperate to get away as she was to turn around and bury her face in his neck. Somehow, she was sure he'd let her.
"Okay, Ron. Fine. Good for you. What do you want me to say?" She was so tired now.
"Nothing. You talked about me like I was some heartless prat who'd deliberately make you feel bad. But I was just a coward, is all. And I wanted to tell you that. 'Cause I wanted to go that party with you. I really did."
She had to leave now. Or else her heart might remain clenched like this forever. "Goodnight, Ron," she whispered. "Say hi to Lavender for me."
Snatching her arm from his grip, she left him in the corridor as she made her way to the portrait hole, went through it, crossed the floor of the common room, climbed the stairs to the dormitory, changed into her pyjamas, crept into bed, buried herself deep under the covers, and cried her heart out.
It was done. She'd told him, more or less. She'd opened up, let it out and was now positive she could never again bear to face Ron, least of all in daylight. So she would avoid him, as well as she could. She would continue playing the ice queen; no hurt feelings, no opportunities for public humiliation, just heartless laughs and mockery. And undoubtedly, he would try to talk to her, as if nothing had ever happened, because that was Ron, wasn't it? He hated conflict of this kind. He hated apologies and heartfelt talks and people being cross with him. So she would demand no further explanation, she would make no room for heart-to-hearts, she would not be cross with him as much as cold and indifferent.
And she would cope. She'd come out of it stronger and better and smarter than before. She had to. Sure, there was a year and a half left of school and therefore of avoiding Ron, but she had her studies, and her plans for the future, and she had Harry, didn't she?
Feeling a bit better already, she sniffled and wiped her eyes and turned over on her side to try and get some sleep.
Even if it was a long time of keeping her and Ron's lives completely separate, she was sure she could do it. After all, she was nothing if not strong-willed.
A/N: Number of times Ron says 'arse': 3. But it was hardly uncalled for. Cormac really is one.
Things my computer spell-check wanted me to change:
Krum – crumb (sure, why not?)
Snogfest – songfest (talk about censorship)
Snogging – snoozing (see above)
Parvatis – parfaits (yum!)
Tidbit that might make you go 'aww': Hermione had picked out an outfit as well. She was just too stubborn and proud to admit it, even to herself.