A/N: So, I was listening to Weak in the Knees by Serena Ryder, and I got this idea.
Dedications: Ellie. 'Cause she turned to me in English and said, '...Why is Ron asking Harry if he's coming up to bed?'. I haven't been able keep a straight face when re-reading that part.
"...Hermione was saying, 'Look, I didn't make up the name "Slug Club" -'
'"Slug Club",' repeated Ron with a sneer worthy of Malfoy. 'It's pathetic. Well, I hope you enjoy your party. Why don't you try getting off with McLaggen, then Slughorn can make you King and Queen Slug -'
'We're allowed to bring guests,' said Hermione, who for some reason had turned a bright boiling scarlet, 'and I was going to ask you to come, but if you think it's that stupid, then I won't bother!'
...'You were going to ask me?' asked Ron, in a completely different voice.
'Yes,' said Hermione angrily. 'But obviously if you'd rather I got off with McLaggen...'
There was a pause while Harry continued to pound the resilient pod with a trowel.
'No, I wouldn't,' said Ron, in a very quiet voice." (Half-Blood Prince, page 264, UK edition)
"...when she said, in an unnaturally high-pitched voice, 'Ron seems to be enjoying the celebrations.'
'Er ... does he?' said Harry.
'Don't pretend you didn't see him,' said Hermione. 'He wasn't exactly hiding it, was -'
The door behind them burst open. To Harry's horror, Ron came in, laughing, pulling Lavender by the hand.
'Oh,' he said, drawing up short at the sight of Harry and Hermione.
'Oops!' said Lavender, and she backed out of the room, giggling. The door swung shut behind her.
There was a horrible swelling, billowing silence. Hermione was staring at Ron, who refused to look at her, but said with an odd mixture of bravado and awkwardness, 'Hi, Harry! Wondered where you'd got to!'
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head so that she looked like a strange, feathery model of the solar system.
'You shouldn't leave Lavender waiting outside,' she said quietly. 'She'll wonder where you've gone.'
She walked very slowly and erectly towards the door. Harry glanced at Ron, who was looking relieved that nothing worse had happened.
'Oppugno!' came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: the little flock of birds was speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets towards Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.
'Gerremoffme!' he yelled, but with one last look of vindictive fury, Hermione wrenched open the door and disappeared through it. Harry thought he heard a sob before it slammed." (Half-Blood Prince, page 282-83, UK edition)
"'He's at perfect liberty to kiss whomever he likes,' said Hermione, while the librarian, Madam Pince, prowled the shelves behind them. 'I really couldn't care less.'
She raised her quill and dotted an 'i' so ferociously that she punctured a hole in her parchment." (Half-Blood Prince, page 285, UK edition)
I knew it had to be a dream, Hermione thought, feeling her heart break at the sight of Ron and Lavender snogging in the Common Room for the tenth time that night.
Hermione tore her glare from Ron and looked at Harry. She put on a fake smile.
'Fine,' she replied, trying to sound natural, but noticing that there was a bit of an edge in her tone.
Harry gave her an unconvinced look but tugged her out of her chair and hugged her. Hermione gripped the back of his shirt and closed her eyes, trying not to let the tears fall. Harry rubbed her back slowly and Hermione lost it; she started to sob quietly on Harry's shoulder.
'It's OK,' he mumbled.
Hermione shook her head.
'No, it's not,' she replied thickly. 'It's not, Harry.'
Harry sighed and Hermione gripped his shirt harder, her fingernails padded slightly by the thin material, but cutting into her palms all the same.
'I'm sorry about this,' she mumbled. 'It's just ...'
'Hard,' said Harry, nodding. 'I know.'
Hermione smiled a little and pulled back a bit.
'Thank you,' she said to Harry, quickly wiping the tears from her face. 'It's just ... we had a date. In a sense. I thought we were ... more than we ever were.'
'I know,' he said.
'I just ... what happened?' she asked. 'You must have been with him. When did his behaviour change?'
Harry hesitated a bit.
'I ... Hermione, I am so sorry, but I get the feeling that that is something I can't tell you,' he said quietly.
'I was afraid you were going to say that,' she whispered.
'You might want to wait awhile before heading up to bed,' he said quietly a few minutes later. 'Lavender just went upstairs.'
Hermione gave Harry a ghost of a smile and raised her eyebrows.
'Now, Harry, what could I possibly do to Miss Brown?' she asked.
Harry swallowed quite visibly.
'I've seen the cuts on Ron's hands,' he pointed out.
Hermione let out a humourless laugh.
'Yes, I bet you have. If you like, you can keep my wand hostage until morning,' she said as she drew her wand and handed it to Harry, handle first.
'No, you keep it,' he said.
Hermione pocketed her wand, laughing.
'Thank you,' she said quietly a couple seconds later.
'For what? Not taking your wand?'
Hermione smiled and rolled her eyes.
'For helping me remember to laugh,' she replied.
Harry had opened his mouth to respond, but a new voice joined the conversation.
'Hey, Harry. Are you coming to bed?' Ron asked.
Hermione tensed and closed her eyes, her jaw tightening.
'Not yet. Hermione and I are still discussing homework,' said Harry.
'All right,' said Ron, and Hermione could picture him shrugging. Her heart broke even more. 'See you upstairs, then. Night.'
Hermione kept her eyes shut and her teeth clamped down on her lip until Harry rubbed her shoulder.
'He's gone,' he whispered.
Hermione opened her eyes, but didn't let her lip go until she started to speak again.
'I've been so painfully obvious,' she whispered, tears starting in her eyes again.
'I know,' said Harry.
'I've done everything except go right up to him and just ... kiss him,' she whimpered, rubbing at her eyes yet again.
Harry hesitated but then hugged her again.
'Go to bed. Get some sleep and try to relax. You should feel better in the morning.'
'And if I don't?' Hermione mumbled, pulling away from him.
'You ... hmm, what can you do to me? Punch me in the arm? Jinx me? Do what you see fit. Just don't kill me, OK? Voldemort's still around,' said Harry.
Hermione gave a weak laugh and Harry gently clipped her chin.
'Thank you, Harry,' she said.
Harry nodded again and Hermione sighed before heading to her dorm. She was about to open the door when she heard her name.
'What about Hermione?'
'What about her?' Lavender asked.
'It's so obvious that she's falling for Ron. You said yourself that she attacked him with canaries when she found out. And rumour has it that they were going to Slughorn's Christmas party together!' said Parvati.
'So what? You know how controlling she is! She was probably pissed that Ron hadn't gone to her for permission before he kissed me.'
Having heard enough, Hermione opened the door. As calmly as she could under the circumstances, Hermione walked into the now silent room, closed the door and walked over to her bed, ignoring Lavender and Parvati.
'Hi, Hermione,' said Parvati, smiling at her.
Hermione looked up and gave a fake smile in return.
'Hi, Parvati,' she replied.
Turning back to her nightstand, Hermione sat on her bed, dropped her wand on the bed beside her, and reset her alarm clock.
'So Ron is a hell of a kisser,' Lavender said loudly.
'I couldn't care less,' said Parvati, her tone bored.
Hermione kicked off her trainers and shed her robes before standing and grabbing her nightgown, heading for the loo so she could change.
'Pav,' Lavender whined, 'I wanna brag about my amazing new boyfriend!'
Before she even knew she had done it, Hermione had stopped in her tracks and whipped around, her nightclothes dropping to the ground as her hands made fists at her sides.
'Do you even know his middle name, Lavender?' she spat.
'Why is that important?'
'If you don't care about the person's interests or family history or hobbies, then you are obviously shallow and therefore you don't deserve Ron,' Hermione growled.
Lavender raised an eyebrow.
'Well, aren't you acting like a jealous ex-girlfriend,' she drawled.
'What did I ever do to you?' she demanded. 'Tell me that. What did I do that resulted in you deciding that taking away my chance with Ron would be the best way to slowly destroy me?'
'You and Ron?' Lavender asked, blinking.
Hermione let out a scream of anger.
'Yes!' she yelled. 'I've been so painfully obvious that even HARRY figured it out! Harry, who only focuses on school work and how to kill Voldemort! And yes, Parvati,' she said, turning to the other girl, 'I am falling for Ron. I have been for years. And it's so hard, because we were friends. And yes Ron agreed, more or less, to go to Slughorn's Christmas party with me. And I have no idea what happened to change his attitude towards me, but by God above, I highly doubt I could have done anything to deserve this!'
Hermione was screaming at the top of her lungs by now; she was sure of it. But she didn't care. Everything she had bottled up was coming out, only she thought she would eventually just dump it on Ron, not his new whorefriend. Lavender was watching Hermione's every movement while Parvati watched Hermione with sadness etched in her expression. Hermione took a deep breath.
'If you want to discuss Ron, please, please do it when I finally fall asleep,' said Hermione, feeling the tears start up again. 'You've won, all right? You have Ron; you don't have to rub it in. You do that every bloody night in the Common Room.'
With that, Hermione turned around, picked her nightclothes up off the floor and headed into the loo to change. When she returned to the dorm, Lavender's light was out, as was Parvati's, but Parvati had seated herself on Hermione's bed. Hermione draped her uniform over the back of her chair and walked over to her bed and sat beside Parvati.
'I'm sorry I yelled at you,' she murmured.
'Don't worry about it,' said Parvati, shaking her head. 'You weren't yelling at me; you were yelling at Lavender, and to be honest, it was stuff she needed to hear.'
Hermione emitted a shaky sigh and lay back on her bed.
'It's just so difficult,' she whispered. 'He's so bloody clueless! I've been denying the fact that I've fancied him, but each year it gets harder and harder. It was only this year that I realized it; I'm falling in love with him. At first I thought it was just hormones, you know? But now ... I just know it's not. I've fallen in love with his smile. And his eyes, and hair, and his delightfully large feet. And all of his freckles, and his lame jokes and just ... just him, you know?
'And I want to tell him. I really do, but he's ... he's Ron, and he's my best friend in the whole world other than Harry, and our relationship is already rocky and odd and I don't want to screw that up! If I were to tell him and he didn't feel the same, then everything would be messed up for good. And he's too important to me to lose for good. I honestly can't imagine my life without seeing him every day. Do you know how hard it is to be away from him during summer holidays?'
Parvati shook her head.
'I've never been in love, so I wouldn't know,' she whispered.
Hermione felt tears well up in her eyes again.
'It's so hard,' she whimpered, sitting up and resting her forearms on her legs, hunching forward. 'It's like a huge piece of me is missing.'
Parvati placed a hand on Hermione's back and rubbed. Hermione let the tears fall, her hair hanging in front of her face, blocking her from Parvati's gaze.
'Haven't you two been friends since first year?'
'Yeah,' said Hermione, wiping at her eyes. 'Odd for eleven year olds, huh?'
'Yeah, but your friendship should be fine. You know all about him, right? And he knows a lot about you! You can't just throw away six years of friendship all because you said you fancy him.'
'But I don't fancy him, Parvati!'
'I know that, but you can't tell him straight out that you're in love with him. The 'l' word scares most guys. You need to take it slow and easy. And if he says it first, then good! If not, wait for the right time.'
Hermione sighed and sat straight again.
'Well, I can't exactly tell him now, can I? He's snogging your best friend,' she snarled.
'He'll realise soon that she's no good for him and ditch her,' said Parvati. 'Hermione, in the end, you'll win the war. Lavender only won this round. Don't give up the game just because you lost once. You've won plenty times before now. Trust me.'
Hermione looked at Parvati through bloodshot eyes.
'Yeah,' said Parvati. 'She's been after Ron for at least a year. And you keep winning the rounds. You just weren't on your game this time and she stole the round away from you. This next round will last longer and it'll be a hell of a fight, but in the end, I know you'll win. Because Ron is only interested in Lavender because she threw herself at him. She took an extreme that only she can take.
'And soon that'll sink in and Ron will realise that Lavender is one of his 'Oh, sweet Merlin, what the hell was I thinking?' relationships. And then, when he's with you, he'll know that you were always there, and that you'll always be there, and that - opposites though you may be - you're perfect for each other. Two halves to a whole.'
Hermione gave a breath of a laugh.
'You really know how to convince someone, Parvati,' she murmured. 'Thanks.'
Parvati smiled at Hermione and stood.
'Get some sleep. No offence, Hermione, but you look a wreck,' she said.
Hermione let out another laugh.
'I bet,' she mumbled. 'Goodnight, Parvati.'
''Night. The Hundred Day war starts tomorrow,' said Parvati.
Hermione chuckled slightly at the attempt at a Muggle reference and curled up under her comforter, turning out her light.