Author's Note: This story has been an extremely long time in the making. The idea began niggling away some months ago, thanks to four people/groups of people.

1. fullmoonmidget, who suggested that I write a story about Ron and Lavender getting together/breaking up,

2. TheSteppyOne, who has been very supportive of all my writing, even though most of it isn't about Ron, so I felt like I should write her something about Ron,

3. My Harry Potter Honors Seminar last semester, and the conversation about how we're willing to give Lavender the benefit of the doubt because she's a Gryffindor, even though she's never shown herself to be much more than incredibly silly,

and 4. The Reviews Lounge and their Fanon vs Canon challenge, which encouraged us to look at an aspect of fanon so widely represented in fanfiction that it has become accepted as truth, and turn it on its head.

From all of these places, this story was born. I started thinking about Lavender and why she might have acted how she did. I started thinking if maybe there wasn't another explanation for her behavior in Half-Blood Prince. And once I'd started thinking those things, I couldn't seem to get her voice out of my head.

This story has been a long time coming, and I know it's been highly anticipated by everyone who has listened to me talk about it nonstop. I know you're all waiting to see what crazy thing I did with it. So here it is, and I hope it doesn't disappoint!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Lavender or Ron or Hermione or anything else of JK's world.

Tangled Webs

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!

~ Sir Walter Scott

The fact that Hermione Granger fancied Ron Weasley was the second worst kept secret at Hogwarts, the first, of course, being that Ron fancied Hermione as well. And what was never a secret at all was the fact that both of them were completely oblivious to all of it.

It used to be cute, watching them stumble around each other, never quite able to figure it out, watching them try to balance being completely gone over the other with being best friends with the boy who would probably end up saving the wizarding world. And the rest of us just watched and waited, and quietly placed our bets in the pool started by the twins as to when and under what circumstances the eventual realization would happen.

Yes, it used to be cute, but after the Yule Ball had come and gone and was long in the past, and all that delicious potential had just been squandered, it stopped being cute. And by the time we'd gotten to the halfway point of our fifth year, the unresolved tension had just gotten annoying.

And yes, I know that at that point, there were far more important things to deal with than the love lives of my dormmate and a guy I'd hardly spared two thoughts for before, but what very few people realize is that that is how I dealt with the war and the growing darkness. I know I get called shallow for it, but people are my thing. I get them. I understand how they work and relate and interact. It's why my best subject was Divination. Everyone called Professor Trelawny an old fraud, and yes, maybe predicting Harry's death every time she saw him got to be a little much, but what almost everyone fails to get is that the secret of Divination isn't actually being able to see the future. It's being able to read people. You think that even someone with a powerful gift of Sight would have needed a crystal ball to tell them that Neville Longbottom was going to break something at some point in a class, especially when we were working with china? No. They only needed to know Neville. Don't get me wrong; I have all the respect in the world for Neville and the leader he became. But everyone, including Neville, will agree with me when I say that the hardened young man leading the student charge against Voldemort our seventh year was not the same awkward thirteen-year-old breaking china in Professor Trelawny's tower.

I've gotten off message. But the point is, Divination is 10% accurate prediction, 5% lucky guesswork, 15% appearance and delivery, and 70% being able to read your audience. Which is why I was so good at it and Hermione Granger was so abysmal. She expected it to follow a predictable, workable pattern, and that's not what Divination is at all. She thought about it both too much and not enough ̵ too much to be taken in by it, but not enough to make the leap to understanding how it really worked. It's funny some of the peculiar blind spots some people have. Hermione, for instance, generally understood people very well, but she was so affronted by the view of Divination as fake that she couldn't take the next step and realize that being fake is part of what made it real for so many people. People see and hear what they want to see and hear, or what they expect to see and hear.

Which is why Hermione and Ron were never going to get it together on their own, a fact that became obvious halfway through our fifth year. They were going to need a little push. It became more imperative after the events at the Ministry and the Minister's resignation as it became clear that Lord Voldemort had, in fact, been back among us for a year. Because Harry was going to have to face him eventually, prophesy to that effect or not, and he was going to need Ron and Hermione by his side to do it, and they couldn't help him and focus on the thing between them at the same time. And can I just roll my eyes for a moment over the lengths people will go to in order to pretend that the world they've always known is not, in fact, crashing down around their ears? I mean, come on. Anyone who knew Harry Potter at all knew that the last thing the poor boy wanted was more attention. Also, Harry couldn't have kept up a lie about Voldemort for so long. He's always been a pretty awful liar.

Everyone fought in the war or joined the DA for different reasons, and I knew a lot of people were surprised to see me there. Because I was Lavender Brown, and all I cared about was boys and gossip and the newest relationship news. Except, that wasn't me at all. That was always an act, albeit one I employed well.

I joined the DA and fought in the war because of people. The war, the Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort, they kept people from being able to live without fear and being able to be happy about normal things. Reading people is what I do; it's what I'm good at, and the war made that impossible. Everyone was afraid, constantly. No one was acting like themselves or trusting connections with other people, and that was wrong, and I needed to fix it. That's what I tried to do. That's all I was ever trying to do.

I never intended to spend six months as Ron Weasley's girlfriend. That particular situation was born out of unexpected circumstance and me not being quite as quick a thinker as I liked to believe back then.

My intention, as our sixth year began, was to do a little gentle nudging. I giggled, I flirted, I was coy and alluring as only I could be, all to set myself up as the girl in the sidelines ready and willing to snatch Ron up if someone didn't do something about it soon enough, the someone, of course, being Hermione. The whole thing was geared toward making Hermione jealous enough to make a move of her own.

In the beginning, Parvati was the only one who knew what I was doing, and she didn't like it. "This is going to backfire!" she whispered to me as we walked out of the castle one weekend early in the year.

"Will you calm down?" I said, carefully judging the wind as we moved across the grounds. "I know exactly what I'm doing. Harry has Quidditch tryouts today, and I am going to watch and cheer on the latest object of my affections." I reached up as I said it and pulled my hair free of its tie. With a gentle shake or two, I let the playful breeze catch it and tousle it briefly before it settled, alluringly windswept, against my shoulders. Moving my head from side to side, I smiled in satisfaction as the sun caught my natural gold highlights and made them shimmer. "Perfect," I said glancing proudly at Parvati. She glared at me.

"This isn't going to work," she hissed as we made our way to the pitch.

"Yes, it is," I told her calmly.

"Why are you doing this, Lavender? Just answer that, okay? Why this and why now?" Her eyes were dark and vaguely accusing, and I could see the strain in them, a strain I knew would be likewise reflected in mine whenever I dropped my mask.

I sighed and closed my eyes, wishing with all my heart that I wasn't living in that time. "Because I can't do anything about You Know Who or the Ministry or your parents, Parvati," I said softly. "And I hate being helpless. But I can do something about this. I can help make this one thing right; I know I can. And I have to do something or I'm going to go completely crazy!" And with that, I grabbed her hands, willing her to look at me and understand. When she finally met my eyes again, I knew I had her, at least a little. She was still reluctant, and she didn't really want me to go through with any of it, but she understood, at least, why I needed to.

She didn't say anything for a long time, but she finally sighed, squeezed my hands, and said, "Well, if you must, then get ready, because here comes your boyfriend." And she nudged me and look pointedly over my shoulder. When I turned, there was Ron, and I gave him my biggest, most flirtatious smile. Ron smiled back after a moment, and proceeded to swagger the rest of the way to the stadium, looking quite proud of himself. Hermione, on the other hand, looked decidedly frosty and distant.

Once they were out of earshot, and Ron had stopped looking back over his shoulder, I turned sharply back to Parvati and said, "Not boyfriend. This is harmless, simple flirtation, nothing more."

"I hope you're right," she warned, turning and walking away toward the pitch. After giving her a look that she didn't see, I ran to catch up.

"I am right," I said, coming up beside her. "Trust me."

"I do, Lav," she said. "But I also know that should Ron suddenly decide that he does want a relationship with you, after weeks of pretending like that's what you want, you aren't exactly going to be able to say no."

I brushed away her concern with a sweep of my hand, dismissing it from my mind at the same time. "This is never going to get that far," I told her. "I know Hermione, and she's going to make her move long before then. Besides. Ron would never initiate anything."

Everything continued to progress beautifully in the following weeks ̵ I continued to flirt shamelessly, Ron continued to respond, Hermione continued to be in no way okay with it. I was feeling pretty proud of myself as I watched all this unfold; moreso when I overheard Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones talking one day about how Hermione had asked Ron during Herbology to go to Slughorn's Christmas party with her. Yes, I was quite pleased with myself. But then something happened. To this day, I'm not sure what. All I know is that after the second Quidditch game into the season, something went horribly, horribly wrong. We won, rather spectacularly, and, being Gryffindors, we were celebrating. Then Ron came in, shoved me into a wall, and started kissing me.

Well, no, to be perfectly honest, he didn't so much kiss me as attack me with his face. In the kindest terms possible, his technique was far from refined. I was stunned, to say the very least, so much so, in fact, that it took me a moment to fully comprehend what was happening. Being shoved into a wall and kissed by Ron Weasley was never on my list of Things Expected to Happen to Me While at Hogwarts.

See, here's the thing about Ron. He has issues with initiative. Maybe it comes from having all those older brothers or from being friends with The Boy Who Lived and Hogwarts' Biggest Know-It-All, but whatever the reason for it, Ron doesn't take the initiative. He doesn't. He's content to just coast through life and let things happen to him. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some people aren't initiative takers, which is as it should be. But that's why all my efforts were focused toward getting Hermione to act, and why I never took Parvati's concern seriously. It was never going to happen.

Except that it did. And, just as Parvati had said, as I'd been giving Ron unmistakable signals all year, I couldn't exactly push him away and ask what the hell he was doing, much as I wanted to. After all, he had no way of knowing that he was completely destroying all my carefully laid plans.

Though I will never tell Ron this – I'm a lot of things, but cruel isn't one of them – I wasn't really paying attention to him or anything we were doing during that first afternoon. I was too busy trying desperately to think of a way out – any way out.

Desperate thinking – as opposed to careful, deliberate thinking, which was what I should have been engaging in – led to my first major stumble. In my panicked state, I thought dropping the G-word would scare him into backing out of everything that had just happened. I misjudged the situation. Far from shrinking away from the term "girlfriend," he glared darkly at something I'm pretty sure only he could see, and all but snarled an affirmative reply.

My second stumble came from even more desperate thinking, because while kissing the guy was not what I wanted to end up doing, being his girlfriend was absolutely not what I wanted to end up doing. So I told him that since we were "a couple" now, we should find someplace "more private" in which we could "celebrate" our "new status," hoping that would scare him away.

No such luck. Not only did he agree, but the classroom he pulled me into was already in use – by Hermione Granger, no less, and she wasn't at all happy to see us. In fact, it was shortly after our encounter that she attacked Ron with a flock of conjured canaries.

All in all, not how you want your set-up attempts to end.

Parvati was waiting for me in the dorm when I managed to extricate myself from Ron. Luckily Hermione wasn't there, else I probably would have ended up spilling the whole thing and begging her to take him back. Quite possibly on my knees.

But it was only Parvati, sprawled across my bed, flipping casually through the latest Witch Weekly. She didn't even look up as I entered. "No, it'll never get that far," she drawled. I glared at her. "Ron would never take the initiative."

"Shut up," I warned.

"What happened?" she asked, lowering the magazine.

"Damned if I know!" I shouted, kicking at my bedpost angrily. "One minute I'm talking to you and Dean, and the next, he's got me pinned against a wall! And now I'm his girlfriend, and I don't even know how it happened!"

"His girlfriend?" she repeated, sitting straight up and staring at me. "Lavender!"

"I know, I know," I said, agitated, sinking down on the floor by my bed, taking a couple deep breaths. "Okay. I need to work this out," I said, more to myself than to her.

"Yes, you do," she said, sliding off the bed beside me. "And fast. Does Hermione know?" Reluctantly, feeling incredibly stupid, I explained about the canaries. Parvati sighed deeply at that. "Great," she said. "Attacking him with canaries, declaring her undying love, they're only a step apart, really."

I was halfway into glaring fiercely at her when I was struck with a realization, "Well, maybe," I said, my mind whirling. Parvati looked at me as though I'd lost my mind. "No, no," I insisted, my brain working overtime. "Hear me out."

"I hate it when you say that," Parvati muttered, but I ignored her.

"It's jealousy, right? That prompted the canary attack? Hermione's jealous?"

"And then some, sounds like." I ignored her snarky comment and focused on the fact that she had, essentially, agreed with me.

"Well, that's what we want, isn't it? We want Hermione to be jealous. That's been our goal the whole time, yes?" Parvati leaned away from me, holding her hands up in the air.

"We? Our? Don't you dare include me in this!" I rolled my eyes.

"Just answer the question, Parvati." She sighed.

"Yes, Lavender. Your plan was to get Hermione jealous enough to make her move."

"Well then, this is okay! She's still jealous, and that's a good sign!" I stood, full of energy again. I paced the length of the bed a couple times, thinking quickly.

"Except, Lav," Parvati said, struggling to her feet, "that Ron made a move first. He's got a girlfriend, as I hope I don't need to remind you."

"Well then, I'll just have to get him to break up with me, won't I?" I said reasonably. Despite Parvati's worries, my plan was suddenly looking not quite as trampled as before. "This thing'll last a week, maybe two at the very most. Then he'll break up with me, I'll sulk, give it a couple more weeks for tempers to cool, and then Ron, having realized that this isn't what he wants, will swing straight back to Hermione, who will snatch him up to keep it from happening again! They'll be together by the start of next term!" I expected her to be happy about that, but she merely gave me a look that proved she was far from convinced, and picked up the discarded Witch Weekly. I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Parvati!" I said, snatching the magazine from her, irritated that she wasn't as thrilled with the new plan as I was.

"How are you going to get him to break up with you?" she demanded. "Your time frame seems rather dependent on that."

"Easy," I said, almost laughing. "I'm about to become the world's most annoying girlfriend. He'll be willing to do anything to get away from me by the end of the week!" And with a smile to her, I turned and all but skipped from the room, completely ignoring the sounds of protest that followed me.

To this day, I wish I'd gone back in and listened to what Parvati had to say. It might have kept me from ruining things as badly as I did. Actually, listening to Parvati at any point in the early stages might have spared everyone from what was to come. See, I underestimated the stubbornness of Ron Weasley. Whatever Hermione had said or done, or whatever he thought she had said or done, had enraged him to a state of obstinance I had never seen from him before, nor ever imagined I would. In any other situation, I would have taken this as a Very Encouraging Sign. However, the timing and circumstances of this sudden display of tenacity were nothing more than frustrating and highly inconvenient.

And, though he slowly started to respond as desired to my clingy-ness and enthusiastic affection by showing clear signs that he wanted to, at times, not be constantly in my presence – signs that I, of course, "ignored" – the burst of initiative that had started the relationship was, regrettably, nowhere to be found. No, after claiming me as his girlfriend, he reverted back into the Ron Weasley we all knew and loved – indecisive, non-confrontational, and perfectly willing to let the world happen to him.

Slowly the week turned into two, then a month, and then the last day of school before the Christmas holidays was upon us, and Ron and I, despite all my hard work, were still together.

Another thing I underestimated? Hermione's pride, and how much Ron's actions – and yes, my actions, too – had hurt her. It wasn't that I had been unaware of it; as a matter of fact, I had been all too aware of it. I hadn't been able to sleep well since halfway through November, when I woke one night to hear Hermione sobbing into her pillow. It was complete chance that I caught her at it; she was very careful not to give any hint or sign of it otherwise, unless she was sure that Parvati and I were sound asleep. So, after that night, I made sure she thought I was, so that I would be awake to hear her cry herself to sleep.

Why? Because I'm apparently highly masochistic.

Many people seemed, at the time, to be under the impression that Hermione Granger and I hated each other through our first five years of school. This couldn't be farther from the truth. In all honesty, we had no real opinion of each other. Oh, we had our occasional differences to be sure, but there were also those nights when she and I and Parvati did the whole giggling girl bit, mainly over Professor Lockhart in second year, but also surrounding her romance with Viktor Krum in fourth. Most often, however, we didn't really cross paths. By the time our sixth year rolled around, we were taking completely different classes and hardly saw one another, even before the Ron debacle. Actually, I think you'd be surprised how often you can not see someone you share a dorm with.

But no, far from disliking Hermione, I had all the respect in the world for her. When you're in love with your best friend, and he's flaunting his relationship with your dormmate in your face every chance he gets, it takes a certain kind of personal strength to keep from breaking down. The fact that the only times she allowed herself to were late at night when she thought no one could overhear her? Extremely telling.

It also made me feel like the lowest person on earth.

Every night that I lay in bed listening to Hermione cry quietly away until she fell into a restless sleep, I resolved all the more strongly to end things with Ron as soon as possible. I even had a plan formulated, and was preparing to put it in place, when Hermione did the unthinkable.

She asked Cormac McClaggen to Slughorn's Christmas Party. Cormac McLaggen. I was so furious when I found out that I could have screamed, and if we hadn't been at breakfast in the middle of the Great Hall, and if I hadn't had an image to maintain, I probably would have.

Cormac McLaggen. If you had asked me to find you the guy in Hogwarts not from Slytherin House who was the absolute worst match for Hermione Granger — well, it probably would have been Harry, but Cormac McLaggen would have been a very strong and close second! He was the most arrogant, pompous, sniveling wretch of a boy to ever befoul the House of Gryffindor. I'd be lying if I said that he wasn't also one of the handsomest boys in the entire school, but his personality made that completely irrelevant.

Cormac McLaggen. I could have torn my hair out.

"What was she thinking?!" I screeched as soon as Parvati and I made it back to the privacy of our dorm. I immediately started wrecking the place in my anger – believe it or not, I have quite a bit of a temper when I get going. I yelled incoherently and wrenched all the covers from my bed and pushed over my nightstand and then kicked the bedpost as hard as I could. Twice. Then I sat on the edge of the bare mattress to nurse my foot, breathing hard, my whole body tense.

Parvati, who had watched all this with a calm composure, looked at me then and said, "Well, that helped." I glared fiercely at her, but she remained unfazed. With a general incoherent growl of anger, I flopped back on the mattress, moaning pathetically.

"How could Hermione do this to me!" I yelled.

"Hermione didn't do anything to you, Lav," Parvati said in a tight voice. "If she did anything to anyone, it was Ron."

"Cormac McLaggen?" I asked. "McLaggen? Could she have picked anyone more likely to piss Ron off?" Sitting on the edge of her bed and not looking at me, Parvati responded.

"Well, yes, she could have picked Draco Malfoy, but I have a feeling he'd have said no," she said airily.

"How can you make light of this?" I demanded, pushing myself up with my elbows. Parvati looked at me then, a level gaze that was also slightly accusatory.

"Why shouldn't Hermione find herself a date to the Christmas party? And why shouldn't she use the same methods to pick the guy that Ron used in picking his girlfriend?" she threw at me. "Ron humiliated her, Lavender. Everyone knows she fancies him, and so going out with you, of all people, is a deliberate slap in the face. He humiliated her, and you can't just expect Hermione to take that lying down. You can't expect her to not try and get some of her own back." After a slight pause, she looked down and muttered, "And the old Lavender wouldn't have made that mistake."

I sat bolt upright, staring at her, feeling as if I'd been slapped. "What –?" I started, but I didn't get a chance to answer, because that was the moment the dorm door opened and Hermione stepped in.

She froze in the doorway, taking in the mess I'd made of my corner with a single raised eyebrow. "What happened here?" she asked carefully.

"Oh!" I said, pasting a winning smile on my face and thinking as fast as I could. "I – I thought I saw a mouse," I finished. Hermione's eyebrows raised a few inches.

"A mouse?" she repeated, and it was fairly clear she didn't believe me. I nodded and pulled out my wand to start repairing the damage.

"I despise rodents," I said, giving a theatrical shudder. Hermione made some sort of noncommital noise in the back of her throat as she crossed to her side of the room. "So," I said once my bedcovers were back in their rightful place. "How'd you snag him?"

It took Hermione a few moments to realize that I was talking to her. She half-turned from her kneeling position beside her bed. "Excuse me?" she asked.

"McLaggen!" I said with a conspiratorial grin.

"Oh," she said, looking uncomfortable. She squirmed for a minute or two, not making eye contact. "Well, he – he approached me a few months ago, and I – needed a date, so –" I did not roll my eyes at this, but it took everything I'd learned about performance in my time at Hogwarts.

"Mmm," I said instead, flopping down on my bed. "I envy you, Hermione. Cormac McLaggen has got to be one of the finest males Hogwarts has to offer." She glanced at me briefly then, her mouth tight, and I knew I'd succeeded in making her even more uncomfortable. "Not that Ronnie isn't good looking," I said pointedly. "But he's not hot hot. Cormac, on the other hand . . ." I trailed off suggestively and looked toward Parvati, who at this point looked almost as irritated with me as Hermione did.

"Should you be talking like that?" Hermione asked stiffly. "You do have a boyfriend." I laughed as though I found her incredibly naive.

"Oh, Hermione," I said, still giggling. I leaned forward across my bed and lowered my voice seductively. "Just because you own one model of the broomstick doesn't mean you can't admire the rest." And when she looked at me, mildly disgusted, I merely raised my eyebrows and smiled. Eventually, she cleared her throat and stood.

"I have to go to class," she said tightly, swinging her bag over her shoulder.

"Let us know all the details!" I called after her as she all but fled the room. The moment she was out of sight, I sank back down on the bed, all my faked energy sliding away. "How did this go so wrong?" I whimpered, covering my face with my hands and clutching at my hair, trying to ignore the burning behind my eyes.

"You really don't get it, do you?" was Parvati's harsh reply. Somewhat taken aback by her tone, I peered at her from behind my hands. She was glaring at me with a mixture of exasperation and disgust. "This 'went so wrong' because you made an amateur mistake, Lavender." I stared at her. "You expected Ron and Hermione to follow a predictable, workable pattern," she spat, and in one fluid motion, she had swung her bag up onto her shoulder and stalked out the door.

I sat on my bed, stunned. That had been a slap in the face, in more ways than one. Firstly, I knew I had to have royally screwed up for Parvati to be that angry with me. And secondly, she was right. That realization stunned me more than her behavior.

I had forgotten the two most important rules of Divination. One, people are unpredictable. And two, the fact that people often act in ways that can be predicted does not change rule number one.

The very night that Ron and I started going out, I should have ditched everything about my previous plan and started formulating a completely new strategy. But I hadn't. Instead, I had carried on as if Ron was still single, and so by the time the aftermath of that unpredictable action had subsided, and Ron and Hermione had returned to their usual ways, I was lagging so far behind that I was caught completely off guard every time one of them acted in a way that should have been predictable.

An amateur mistake indeed. And one that had had disastrous consequences.

It was the end of the day before I could bring myself to face Parvati. I found her in the darkened common room, sitting in front of a dying fire, on a couch normally occupied by the trio. We were alone; everyone else was either already in bed or at Slughorn's party or shirking curfew elsewhere. I approached the fire hesitantly, the dismay and anguish I'd been feeling all day almost at overwhelming. I took a seat next to her and mimicked her position — leaning back into the cushions, arms crossed, feet braced against the edge of the table in front of us. We were both silent for a long while, neither of us wanting to be the first to break the silence. In the end, though, I spoke, because in the scheme of things, it was my turn and I knew it.

"Why didn't you say anything earlier?" I whispered. She looked at me sharply then, and the look on her face made me cringe.

"I tried," she said in a very hard voice. "You weren't exactly paying attention." She was right, of course, and I shouldn't have even asked the question, but I was trying so hard to find someone to share the blame of the whole horrible situation, so that it wouldn't all fall to me.

"I'm sorry," I said, and I felt smaller then than I think I ever have.

"I'm not the one you need to apologize to," she said in a clipped voice.

"Yes, you are," I said softly, staring at my hands. "I should have listened to you." I took a deep breath then – admitting I'm wrong is not my strong suit – and said, "But I'm listening now." I took it as an encouraging sign that when she met my eyes that time, she was guarded and somewhat wary, but no longer angry with me. "What do I do now?" I asked her.

"Break up with him," she said immediately, earnestly. "End this, Lavender. Now."

With a heavy heart, I shook my head. "I can't," I said with great regret, and then, "I can't," again, speaking over her protests. "Parvati, if I end things now . . . all I've done is hurt Hermione," I said, looking away, trying not to remember the endless nights I'd endured lately. "You haven't heard her," I said softly. "I can't let that be how this ends. He has to break up with me. He has to openly admit that I'm not what he wants. That's the only way to make right what I've wrecked. That's the only way there's any hope for them at all, after this."

And I met Parvati's eyes, and I willed her to understand. After a long silence, she sighed and looked away, saying, "How long are you going to call him Ronnie?" I breathed again. I had her back on my side.

"Until I think of something worse," I said.

Together that night, Parvati and I accomplished what I by myself had failed to do. Looking at the carefully drawn up plan of action we made for Operation Break-Up all together like that was more than a little daunting, but I committed to it wholeheartedly, because really, it was my only hope.

"You have to promise me something," she said, late that night, when we were finally ready to head to bed. When she knew she had my full attention, she continued. "You have to promise me that if things go badly, and for some reason, none of this works, you will end it yourself."

I made the promise. I didn't want to believe it could possibly come to that, but I made the promise because, as I've already stated, I didn't have any other choice. Also, I knew Parvati was right. I was in quite the humbled state that night, and normally I'd feel very uncomfortable admitting that, but so much has happened since then . . . the guilt and the admissions are no longer so embarrassing as they once were.

Things got easier after I had Parvati. I won't go right to saying that they became easy, but they did get easier, more manageable, and far less overwhelming. Parvati's the one who met me in Diagon Alley the day after break started to help me find "the most disgusting, revolting, sickeningly sentimental Christmas present that we can!" Parvati's the one who talked to me by Floo every night over Christmas holiday, walking me painstakingly through the stages of our plan to help me work out any kinks. In short, Parvati's the one who kept me sane. Thanks to her, I had a plan, and I knew how to execute it.

I dropped my first "Won-Won" just after New Years, flinging myself at Ron with an intensity that would, in some circumstances, likely be termed an attack. This was Phase One. Cling and Squeal. It was my task to bring a whole new level of meaning to the term "clingy." The idea was to slowly force him away by clinging to him tighter than ever. Smother him with affection to the point of potential suffocation, that sort of thing. And I was pleased to see it working – for all that I all but Spellotaped myself to the guy's side that first day, he escaped fairly quickly. Of course, I refused to get my hopes up too high, but it was, at the very least, a start.

To be continued. Please review!