Biscuits: A Love Story
The story of Ron and Hermione's complicated relationship, with added biscuits.
Chapter One: First Impressions
"Hey, there's a table over there by the window!"
"Quick, grab it!"
They raced each other across the common room and threw themselves down at the table beside hers with much raucous laughter and noisy scraping of chairs.
Hermione gritted her teeth in annoyance. Couldn't they see she was working? Really, the common room was supposed to be for study. She was about to inform them of this when they began pulling out their books and quills, and she realised they were there to do their homework after all. Well… as long as they were quiet. Not that that was likely, based on her experience of them in the three weeks since she'd come to Hogwarts.
She knew these two boys well. They were in the same year as her, and in all of her lessons, too, worse luck. The one with the messy black hair and glasses was Harry Potter, and he was famous. At first she had been slightly in awe of him - he was in a book! - but then he had proved himself to be just as childish and silly as all the others. And he seemed to know almost nothing about the wizarding world, which she thought most odd. I mean, if you were in a book, if you actually had a whole chapter dedicated to you, wouldn't you have read it? Hermione considered this rather revealing of his character. Obviously, he was just one of those people who had no interest in the world around him. And consequently, she had no interest in him.
The other boy, the one with the bright red hair who seemed to be physically incapable of tucking his shirt in, was Ron Weasley (rather a silly name, she thought). She had seen him on the train, attempting to do a spell. It hadn't worked, of course, but then that was hardly surprising. He seemed to think that messing about and making his friend laugh was more important than learning things. Perhaps if he actually bothered to listen to the teachers occasionally, he might be able to do a basic spell by now.
"How do you spell 'Expelliarmus'?"
Hermione's head sprang up, eager to provide the answer, but the red-haired boy had got there first.
"Dunno. I think it's e…x…p…e…l…e…a..."
Hermione stared at him in disbelief. He was counting out the letters on his fingers! And he was wrong! She waited for someone to challenge him on it but the other boy merely said, gratefully, "Thanks," and actually started to write it down. The wrong answer!
Hermione could stand it no longer. Leaning across the aisle between their desks, she told them, "Actually, I think you'll find that's wrong. The correct spelling -"
"Were we talking to you?" the red-headed boy interrupted, rudely.
She flushed. "I was only -"
"Showing off as usual?" he finished for her.
The other boy laughed, then stopped abruptly when Hermione transferred her glare to him, and pretended to be interested in his hands instead.
"Fine," she said, in a high, quivering voice, "If you want to get it wrong…"
She deliberately turned away from them and opened her book with a flourish. The first boy muttered something under his breath that she didn't quite hear, and they both sniggered.
Hermione put her head down and tried to concentrate on her own essay. It was her first Charms essay, and she was keen that it reflect to the teacher her level of knowledge of the subject. First impressions were very important. She dipped her quill neatly into her pot of ink and began to write.
"This is no good," sighed Harry, loudly, a few minutes later. "I can't make head nor tail of any of this. Do you fancy a game of chess instead?"
"Yeah, alright," said Ron, eagerly, obviously grateful for the distraction from homework. "I'll go and get the set."
Hermione rolled her eyes. Typical. Five minutes of effort and they were already giving up. They hadn't even tried.
The red-headed boy was back a few minutes later, carrying a large flat box under his arm. Hermione watched out of the corner of her eye as he set up the board and put out the chess pieces. She'd never seen a wizard chess match before, and was torn between curiosity to learn about something new, and being caught expressing an interest in the two annoying boys, which she knew would only delight them and give them more ammunition to make fun of her.
Ron withdrew from his pocket a handful of dusty-looking custard creams, which he offered to Harry.
"Want one?" he asked, "I nicked them off the Slytherin table at dinner."
Hermione tutted silently to herself.
Harry made a face. "Have they been in your pocket for the last two hours?"
"Er... yeah," admitted Ron, with an apologetic grin.
Harry pretended to consider. "Then... no."
Ron shrugged. "Suit yourself. More for me, then."
She watched, with a mixture of fascination and disdain, as he carefully stacked the biscuits into a small, wobbly tower on the table in front of him. One toppled off the desk and landed on the floor, but he simply leaned down to pick it up, examined it, gave it a cursory wipe on his trousers, and popped it in his mouth. Hermione stared at him, her nose wrinkled in disgust.
He looked up then, caught her staring at him with a horrified look on her face, and broke into a wide grin. Then he deliberately opened his mouth as wide as possible to show her the wet biscuity mess inside.
Hermione looked away quickly, revolted. "That's really immature, actually."
"That's really immature, actually," he mimicked.
She opened her mouth to tell him that he'd just proved her point, then decided against it. Why bother? She'd just be wasting her time trying to explain it to him. He probably didn't know what the word immature even meant.
"You're not funny, you know," she said, with as much scorn as she could manage.
The boy gave an airy shrug. "I'm pretty funny…" he said, and flashed her another of his annoying grins, before deliberately turning his back on her once more.
She stared at the back of his head for a few seconds with something like hatred. Fine. Fine! She had only been trying to help. What did she care if their essays were wrong? Let them fail. It was no more than they deserved. They were just like the boys at her old school who used to pull her hair and call her names. The ones who always sat at the back of the classroom and messed about, who never did their homework on time and got away with everything. It wasn't fair.
She had hoped that maybe witches and wizards – pureblood wizards, especially, like the red-haired boy – would be different. Before she had arrived at Hogwarts, she had even fretted that she would be way behind them in terms of knowledge, that she might actually be bottom of the class for the first time in her life. But if those she had encountered so far (mainly Neville and Ron) were any indication, she needn't have worried. It seemed that eleven year old wizards were just as stupid and immature and silly as normal boys were.
If the red-haired boy wasn't so annoying, she would have liked to ask him some questions about what it was like to grow up in the wizarding world. Previous attempts to discuss the subject, however, had not gone well. Neville had gone pale and stuttered that he needed to use the toilet before rushing off. She had asked one girl, "What's it like being a witch?" She hadn't meant to offend, but the girl had gone quite red and retorted, "I don't know; what's it like being a Muggle?" For once in her life Hermione had been stumped for an answer. "Well… it's… it's just normal!" she had exclaimed, and the girl had given her a withering look and snapped back, "And I'm not, I suppose?" before stalking off. That hadn't been what she'd meant at all. She was only trying to make friends. Everything just seemed to come out wrong somehow.
It was just like at her last school. She hadn't had many friends there either. Well, no, that wasn't quite true; she hadn't had any friends there. It was probably the main reason her parents had agreed to send her so far away, hoping that maybe her apartness from other children was because she was a witch, and at Hogwarts she would finally be amongst people who understood and accepted her. But no, everything was just the same. The boys called her stuck-up and a show-off, and the girls didn't want anything to do with her at all.
There were only two other Gryffindor girls in her year, and they'd gravitated towards one another immediately. They were at that age where girls tended to have one best friend in the whole world, who they told all their secrets to, and Hermione was not the kind of girl whose demeanour encouraged secret-telling. Already she was finding that when she came up to the dorm at night, Lavender and Parvati would stop talking the moment she entered the room. Not that she cared, of course. Silly, giggly girls, both of them. All they were interested in doing was painting each other's nails and plaiting each other's hair. What on earth was she going to talk to them about? "So, Lavender, what's your favourite Jane Austen novel; Persuasion or Mansfield Park?" Ha! No, she wasn't bothered at all if they didn't want to be friends with her. She didn't want to be friends with them, either. Really, it was their loss.
By the end of her first week at Hogwarts, it seemed that the other Gryffindor first years had already made up their minds about her. Everyone else seemed to have paired off already. Lavender and Parvati. Harry and Ron. Dean and Seamus. That left her and Neville, who made a very odd couple indeed. She'd been paired with him a few times in lessons, purely because they were the only people in class without partners. She liked him well enough, but he wasn't the brightest of boys, and it was very frustrating being paired with him in a subject like Potions, where he seemed to have not the slightest clue what he was doing. Still, at least he wasn't rude to her like the others, although that was probably just because he was absolutely terrified of her. He seemed to be pretty much terrified of everything. And mutual loneliness was a poor basis for a friendship. She'd learned that the hard way.
She had even considered asking if she could be re-Sorted into Ravenclaw, where she was quite sure they'd be much more her kind of people. She had gone as far as to look up whether anyone had ever been re-Sorted after their initial House allocation in Hogwarts: A History, but the book contained no such information. She couldn't quite believe that a book had failed her. Perhaps once you were Sorted, that was it, forever. You were a Gryffindor and there was nothing you could do about it. There was nothing in the book, because no-one had ever changed Houses after the start of term. No-one had ever wanted to. It was just her who didn't fit.
Perhaps if things were no better by Christmas, she'd ask to speak to Professor McGonagall about it. She felt tears stinging the back of her eyes, and wiped them surreptitiously on her sleeve. It had to get better, it just had to. If it turned out to be just like her old school... well, she didn't think she could stand it. And she couldn't even go home to her parents each day now she was a boarder. She was stuck here, with idiots like Ron Weasley who ate biscuits off the floor, for the next seven years.
A sudden peal of loud laughter from the next table shook her out of her reverie, and she shot them her iciest glare, but they were too busy laughing to notice. Right! That was it! That was the absolute limit!
"Do you mind?" she snapped, "Some of us are trying to concentrate!"
The boys exchanged grins.
"You could always go and sit somewhere else," suggested Harry.
"I was here first!" she protested, outraged, "And I'm actually studying, you're just playing a stupid game!"
"It's not stupid and it's not a game," retorted the other boy, looking equally outraged and going quite red in the face, "It's wizard chess! Sweet Merlin, don't you know anything?"
Hermione's mouth fell open in disbelief. "At least I know how to spell," she retorted, "And I don't steal biscuits!"
The boy stared at her for a few seconds, then he just laughed.
"Well, if that's the best you can do..." he said, with a shrug. And he turned back to the board, popped another custard cream in his mouth and said, through a mouthful of biscuit, "Your go, I think, Harry..."
Hermione stared at him, her cheeks crimson with fury, then slammed her book closed and jumped to her feet.
"Oh, are you leaving?" he asked, mildly, without looking up. "Hope it wasn't something I said."
Hermione picked up her bag and belongings, and stormed off to her room, the sound of their laughter ringing in her ears. Oh, he was impossible! Oh, he was infuriating! How she was going to get through the next seven years without giving in to the urge to give him a good hard smack around that stupid red head of his, was completely beyond her!
Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think of the story so far. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Is there not nearly enough swearing? Should I give up on the whole damn thing? Let me know!
I hope to have at least one more chapter up before Christmas, and then I'll be away from my laptop for the best part of a week. (Just imagine, there are still places in the world that don't have broadband!) Still, I always write better with a pen and paper, so hopefully I'll be able to knock out a couple more chapters and upload them when I return. Unless my brain is addled from too many mince pies, of course...