Disclaimer: Okay, Gnat, 14, Beatrix, Zack, 12, all the other spoons, the ceramic soup bowl, the miscellaneous quotes, the Golden Werewolf and . . . the use of veritaserum to cure the Witch's Flu are all mine. Everything else belongs to someone else. Dammit.
A Spoonful of Veritaserum
The Witch's Flu:
Viral or bacterial
common cold contacted only by witches.
Symptoms include fever, hallucinations, nasal congestion
and soreness in the throat and limbs. No currently known
vaccine or cure, however, for certain occasions look un-
der: veritaserum. See also: The Wizard's Flu.
-- Groman's Book of Magical Ailments, Volume VI
"No, Ron," she snapped. The aforementioned redhead, Ronald Weasley, was holding a small, brown glass bottle devoid of any label and a small silver spoon. He had a hopeful smile scrawled on his face. "I refuse to be a guinea pig."
Only because of her nasal congestion, Hermione Granger's adamant refusal came out sounding like she was endorsing the Befus Bindlies, a quidditch team from Northern Egypt.
"I hear they're having a good season this year," quipped a tall man stepping carefully into the room, holding a steaming cup of tea.
"Shut up, Harry," said Ron. Harry Potter, Hermione's other best friend (Ron was the first one, even though he wasn't acting like it) walked closer.
"Oh, come on 'Mione," Ron begged.
"Just one spoonful!"
"No." She sneezed pitifully, and pulled a tissue out of a blue paper box perched on top of the nearest of many piles of books around her. The ceramic bowl of Molly Weasley's infamous chicken noodle soup hovering helpfully moved closer.
"'Mione!" he whined.
"Ron, leave her alone. She's sick enough; she doesn't need you bothering her." Harry moved to her bedside and placed the bright yellow mug full of peppermint tea in her hands. Even through her thick congestion, Hermione could taste the peppermint on the back of her tongue.
The worst part of having the Witch's Flue was Harry seeing her like this – red-faced, hair in disarray, eyes glazed – though she would rather die than admit it. Because, you see, Hermione Granger was in love with Harry Potter.
In other words, she was in love with her best friend.
There are two truly pathetic species of women in this world. 1) Are the women who have the Witch's Flu and 2) are the women in love with their best friends. At the moment, Hermione covered both.
"Thanks," she said, and closed her eyes to take a sip. At the last moment she paused. "How bany tsuga?"
"Three spoons of sugar," Harry replied. "What kind of best friend would I be if I didn't know how you like your tea?"
Hermione smiled faintly and slowly drank her tea. It was, as were most things that involved the kitchen and Harry, perfect.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhh," she sighed, and gave him a smile to show her appreciation. She tried to take another sip but began to cough, and Harry took the mug from her. He set it on the bedside table, slipping a coaster under it, and reached out to take her temperature with the back of his hand.
Was there any mystery why she was in love with him? The man could cook and used coasters.
"I think you're getting hotter, Hermione." Or maybe it was just his hand touching her forehead. It seemed that the Witch's Flu meant that she was even more susceptible to Harry's hand.
Or his eyes, the brilliant, searing green eyes that right now were searching her for any signs of deliria.
She coughed again.
"Come on! It'll clear up your symptoms right now!"
"No!" She coughed even harder.
"Ron, if Hermione doesn't want to try Fred and George's miracle medicine, it proves that we don't have to take her to St. Mungo's for being delusional."
"It's called miracle medicine for a reason!"
Hermione stopped coughing. "According to Gred and Forge," she said loudly, and then wondered what exactly was wrong with that sentence. She then sneezed.
"Fred and George," corrected Harry fondly, and he moved his hand to her cheek. "If you start to get hotter, tell us, okay?" She nodded. "You sure you don't need anything else?"
"How about some miracle medicine?"
Harry handed her the peppermint tea from the nightstand. "If you get hungry, the soup has a perpetual warming charm on it." As the soup sloshed, Ron moved it to the bedside table.
"Okay. You should get some sleep." He smiled, gripped Ron hard around the elbow, and herded the strangely silent redhead out into the living room.
The Golden Werewolf:
Established by Harry
Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger,
the three of whom, at the age of seventeen, destroyed Lord Volde-
mort and earned themselves the press nickname of 'The Golden Tr-
io'. "We used that for the name," says Weasley. "But we also wanted
to honor Remus Lupin, a great friend and fighter who died in the war
against Voldemort." The name, which may seem a bit strange, actu-
ally hits the right note with this well-run pub. Although a third of the
customers are usually there to try and catch a sight of one of the three,
the other two-thirds are there for the excellent food and atmosphere.
In the kitchen is Luna Lovegood, a veritable angel with a classic menu
at her fingertips. "I try to mix what everyone expects into something
original, but still derived from what they love," she says.
Four and a half stars.
You can find The Golden Werewolf on 1324 Birchwood Drive.
-- The Genuine Cauldron: A Selection of the Finest Pubs in Magical England
"All right, Ron," said Harry, once the two had entered the living room, and he had let go of his red-haired friend. "That was Luna at the fireplace. They need you down at the pub."
"Did Luna set the place on fire again?" asked Ron, running his free hand through the already unruly hair on his head. His fiancée, while an extraordinary cook, also had a tendency to be a bit hasty with the flame torch.
"No," replied Harry, a bit of mirth in his tone. "But the place is so full we had to beg the back room off of Madam Gertrude's. They need an extra hand and a soothing voice. I would come with you, but someone has to be sure that Hermione doesn't try to get out of bed."
"Right," Ron said. "See you in a bit." The sight of his best friend, eyes no longer twinkling, and pointed worriedly at the bedroom door that led to Hermione, made Ron certain that he'd made the right choice.
Despite the plot brewing at home, Ron found himself targeted the moment he stepped through the door. First, the tourists.
"OMG, Marcie. Look! OMG, he's even more gorgeous in person!"
"Mira! Aquí! Ron Weasley!"
"Take the fucking picture, Bob!"
"I can't 'take the fucking picture', Marge. The camera's stuck!"
Then, the regulars.
"Ron!" His sister, smile spread from ear to ear, waved excitedly. A few others that he knew waved as well, but first he went to see his sister.
"Ginny," he said with genuine happiness. "Draco." His sister's husband, and father of her unborn child, received a cold nod. Though, considering the fists he'd received when Ginny announced their engagement, he'd come a long way.
Ginny patted her round stomach, a napkin spread almost comically on top. "I really have to lay off Luna's cooking." As jokes went, it wasn't that good, but Ron had to give Draco Malfoy brownie points for laughing, seemingly amused, along with her. Then again, it may have been a safety ploy – Ron didn't have to live with a severely pregnant woman with the Weasley temper.
Once the laughter had died down, Ron made excuses and moved on to other tables.
"Hey, Justin, say hello to Lavender for me . . . Madam Rosmerta! Scoping out the competition are you . . . Dean, you propose to the lovely Parvati yet? Just kidding, Parvati. How's Padma . . . Speak of the devil. Where's Roger? Quidditch game? Where else would he be? Ha ha. . ."
Slowly, Ron had made his way towards the kitchen. Now seeing the swinging doors ahead of him, he bid Padma Patil (no, Davis, he reminded himself) good-bye and pushed his way into the kitchen.
It had surprised him – not to mention everyone who knew him – that he was good at interacting with people. Hermione, before she'd gotten so sick that she couldn't string two coherent words together, had joked that it all had begun at Ginny's wedding.
Why did Ginny insist on that stupid tradition? Ron asked himself for the thousandth time. It reappeared in his mind yet again . . . the bouquet arching towards Millicent Bullstrode . . . every eligible bachelor forced out onto the floor, scattering in different directions . . . the garter smacking Ron on the forehead. Ron shuddered.
Then he brightened. Luna, ordering around a couple dozen spoons, read from her recipe booklet. "Fourteen," she said to a wooden spoon with a black '14' written on its handle, "You take the shepherds pie." The spoon rounded up two potholders, a ceramic dish, a metal bowl and numerous floating ingredients.
Luna turned to another spoon, this one split down the handle. If its label could be trusted, it was named 'Snortac'. "Beatrix, I want you to take the soup of the day. Cream of potato." The spoon flipped over to give a jaunty wave, and Ron could finally read Luna's handwriting.
Before she could give the waiting spoon its job – this one definitely '12' – a silver platter, with a folded piece of paper on it, zoomed up. Luna took the paper, and the silver platter went to sit with the others. "Table D wants fish and chips." She surveyed the remaining spoons critically. "All right, Zack, you're good with batter." Somehow, the spoon managed an air of excitement. The rest drooped.
Certain that he was going crazy, or maybe just spending too much time with his fiancée, Ron gave a shudder and crept up behind her. She had dispatched '12' and was about to tell 'Gnat' when Ron put his hands over her eyes.
"Guess who?" he asked.
"My gorgeous and amazing lover?" she replied questioningly, and he let go so she could turn around. "Nope, just my fiancée."
"It's amazing," noted Ron, leaning down to kiss her, "how I withstand this abuse." When their lips were beginning to touch, Gnat tapped Luna impatiently on the shoulder. Ron tried to bat it away, but Luna turned around to see what it wanted.
Ron groaned. "Stupid spoon," he muttered.
Truth-seeking potion. Is mostly used for interrogation and
other situations needing a truthful answer. Although not
usually used for the Witch's Flu, veritaserum can remove
symptoms when patient declares truthful love.
-- Groman's Book of Magical Ailments, Volume X
While Ron was cursing the invention of the spoon, Hermione sat in bed, staring into space. Across from her bed was her closet and pinned to that was her calendar. The first five days of the month were checked with her certain strokes, a small black X over the day number.
The next three were in blue, the X sliding over the sides and otherwise looking incredibly sloppy. She tilted her head to the left and considered buying a new calendar.
Then, realizing how incredibly anal-retentive she was being, Hermione shook her congested head slightly and turned to look at the soup. As if recognizing her interest, the ceramic blue bowl shifted closer. Hermione reached out and the bowl floated into her fingers.
But there was no spoon.
"Harry!" she called out. "Hello?" When there was no reply, she swung out of bed and shuffled to her bedroom door. "Hello?" she repeated, a little softer.
Yet again, no one answered. Hermione, the chicken noodle soup shuttling behind her at the height of her shoulders, peeked out into the living room. Harry was sitting on the couch, his long legs stretched out under the coffee table and his eyes closed.
Without realizing it, Hermione closed her bedroom door on the soup bowl. It shattered and hit the floor with a loud crash. Harry rose to his feet, blinking away sleep, and Hermione winced.
"Hermione?" he asked, not seeing her at first. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she replied, her throat scratchy. "I bibn't hab a poon, and I coubn't pind you." She looked mournfully at the door and opened it to reveal the broken soup bowl. "Tupid bowl." Harry began to laugh, at first softly, and then harder until he was clutching his stomach and bowled over, a bracing hand pressed against the back of the couch. "But's so bunhny?" demanded Hermione.
She was absolutely furious with herself – or would be later. At the moment, Hermione was so far under with the Muggle cough syrup that she had eventually resorted to (when nothing else worked) that she could barely walk without staggering.
"Nothing," managed Harry. "Here, let me help." He finally stopped laughing, and fixed the bowl with a swipe of his wand. Unfortunately, the soup had escaped through the cracks in the wooden floorboards.
"Well, we'll have Mrs. Weasley Floo a crock up," suggested Harry. Hermione simply coughed in return. For maybe the fifth time that day, Harry reached up and felt her forehead. Frowning, he touched his wand to her head, and muttered something. The tip of his wand glowed red for a second, then wisps of smoke spelled out some numbers.
"102," he said quietly. "Well, you haven't gotten better, but you haven't gotten worse either." Hermione's withering glance lost its withering quality as she began to sneeze wildly. Moaning, she wobbled on her feet.
"Hermione?" asked Harry quickly, reaching out for her. "Hey!" Her head began to roll on her shoulders, and he swiped her off her feet. Instead of trying to get her through the doorway, Harry laid her down on the living room couch.
"Hermione?" Harry, uncertain what to do, simply watched Hermione's eyes roll into the back of her head. "Hermione?" His voice began to have a note of hysteria. "Hermione!"
Harry let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding in. "Are you all right?"
"No." Her eyes stopped rolling and her sight righted itself. "You know, I'b thinkinb I tud try medicine."
"Fred and George's miracle medicine?" asked Harry. "Are you crazy?"
"Well, it can't make be burse."
"It could make you a hell of a lot worse! You could get tentacles, or an extra pair of eyes, or lose the ones you have!" Somewhat happy at the panic in his voice, Hermione ignored his words and reached for the bottle and the spoon on the coffee table.
"Bottoms ub," she whispered, then took a dramatic sip.
Nothing exploded, erupted or disappeared. In fact, nothing happened at all.
"Dambit," muttered Hermione. "No biracle."
A spoonful of veritaserum makes the medicine go down.
-- Old Witch's Proverb
Two hours later, Ron stumbled into the apartment that he, Harry and Hermione shared. In a week, he'd been moving in with Luna and her spacious apartment in Lower London, but at the moment he wasn't thinking about his future living arrangements.
"Harry!" he called out. "Hermione!" His glee was almost tangible, but he forced himself to hide it. It wouldn't do for them to notice anything if it hadn't worked yet.
"Ron." It was spoken dryly, and Harry stepped into the living room from the kitchen. "Tell Fred and George that their miracle medicine isn't very miracle-inspiring. In fact, it doesn't work at all."
"So Hermione tried it?" asked Ron, trying for an air of nonchalance. Because he was hanging up his coat, and Harry couldn't see his face, it worked.
"To no results whatsoever. She went back to bed."
"Hmm. Well, I'll talk to Fred and George about that." Ron's air of nonchalance was fading fast, and Harry noticed.
"What exactly was in that potion of theirs?" demanded Harry.
"I can't say exactly," replied Ron.
"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S IN IT, YET YOU TRIED TO FEED IT TO HERMIONE?" Ron was now certain that he'd made the right choice. They just didn't know it yet.
"I know what's in it," said Ron. "I'm just not going to tell you."
"Yes, you are." Harry's voice went very quiet, and he was clutching his wand so hard that his knuckles were white. Ron was almost jubilant.
"Hmm. Well, fine." Ron pretended to be pushed into a corner. "Don't hex me. It's just veritaserum."
"Veritaserum is their miracle medicine?" asked Harry, incredulous. "Veritaserum doesn't . . . wait a second." His eyebrows went together. "You don't think . . .!"
"Well, it's more of 'know'. I know who Hermione is in love with too."
"You're going to make Hermione tell some bloke she's in love with him just to cure up her Witch's flu?" Harry's face was turning a peculiar shade of purple-green-red that was making Ron's spirits soar. "Who the hell is this bloke?"
"Let's go ask her." Ron, diving under Harry's restraining hand, stumbled into Hermione's bedroom. She was in the middle of blowing in her nose.
"Hermione, who are you in love with?"
Hermione opened her mouth to reply nastily when she understood. After all, her NEWT thesis had been on the effects of veritaserum in magical colds. She slapped her hands over her mouth, then a pillow just to be sure. The words came out, but so mangled by her cold and the pillow that it was indecipherable.
"You don't have to tell him," said Harry, shooting Ron a dirty look. "The Witch's Flu clears up in a few weeks."
"A bew weeks," moaned Hermione.
"Just tell him," urged Ron. "I know that your feeling are re . . . cik . . ."
"Reciprocated. Exactly. So you can ditch the Witch's Flu, get married, have lots of little brainiac children who are good at quidditch." Practically cackling, Ron exited.
"He's a quidditch player?" asked Harry, almost mournfully. The veritaserum forced her to open her mouth.
"Not professionally." She wanted to tell him the truth – 'it's you!' – but she didn't trust Ron's judgment.
"Oh," he said. It was an 'oh' with some hope. "I'll let you get some sleep." He turned to go.
"Yeah?" He whirled back around to face her. She opened her mouth; it was even on the tip of her tongue.
"Ib's . . ." He didn't say anything, just looked at her, and she found herself continuing to speak. "You."
"I knew this was a bad idea," whispered Hermione, and she found her congestion vanishing rapidly. "Stupid idea." She leapt out of bed, and grabbed her coat from where she'd tossed it on the chair a few days earlier.
"Did you say it's me?"
Muttering 'yes', Hermione pulled on the coat, and tried to get by Harry from where he stood, blocking her escape. "Can you please move, so we can not make this any more embarrassing than it already is?"
"It's not embarrassing." She was sure it was Harry's famous need to make everyone comfortable.
"Oh, yes it is," replied Hermione. "Very embarrassing. Can you please move?" He was still, very still, and she could feel her blush slowly receding.
"No," said Harry, looking at her a little funny. "I don't want to move." Hermione could feel tears starting behind her eyes, smarting, and then one of them fell. "Do you know why?"
"No," whispered Hermione. She had a small idea, which was really more of a desperate hope. "Why won't you move?"
Harry's hand under her chin forced her to look upward into his eyes. Right now they were absolutely sparkling. As if he were happy. He leaned down, and Hermione heart began to thump faster.
"Because I'm in love with you, Hermione," he said. Then he tried to kiss her.
And instead, found himself kissing her palm.
"Harry," she said, firmly. "I haven't brushed my teeth in three days. Wait a moment." She took off her coat, went into the bathroom, hastily brushed her teeth and tongue, then returned.
"Where were we?" she asked.
"Right about here," he replied. And he kissed her. This time, her hand wasn't in way.
And it was a very nice kiss.
Ronald Weasley and Luna Lovegood were married in a small, quiet ceremony. At least, as small and quiet as one can get when the entire Weasley clan attends. The couple is expecting twins in August.
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger began dating the very next day, much to the delight of everyone who knew them. All the underlying tension had become almost unbearable.
Fred and George's Miracle Medicine was marketed after they learned that it actually worked. The twins are currently tweaking it so that the 'announcing love' part isn't necessary, mostly because it narrows their selling field.
Much to the dismay of their lawyers, the proprietors of the Golden Werewolf refuse to expand. It now takes about an hour to get a table, but no one really cares because Luna Lovegood's spoons are getting quite good at silent Shakespeare.
Okay, here's my first attempt at reverse psychology:
"Don't review, because that would make chemqueen happy, and you don't want to do that, do you?"