Awakening

Chapter One—Conversations, Mishaps and Secrets

In which Fred thinks George is sexy (and vice versa); Ron's head gets much too big; Ginny says something she's not supposed to; and Hermione gets quite a shock and a warm hug and she can't sleep.

The Gryffindor common room was echoing with laughter and noisy chatter and even an occasional muffled thud, as if someone were hitting their head against something soft.

Hermione Granger was clutching her stomach in uncontrollable laughter. "It's really quite sad I had to miss that."

"Yeah, well," Harry Potter flashed her a roguish smile as he snickered. "You were doing your prefect duties, you…you…you prefect," he finished lamely.

"It's too bad you missed it, Hermione." Fred Weasley was still roaring with laughter, and George was still trying not to pee in his pants as he cackled loudly.

"Yeah, it was most definitely the best joke we've played on Ron yet!" George managed to snort out, wiping tears from his eyes. "I swear, when he popped that Lollipop Head lollipop in his mouth, it was all I could do not to laugh!"

"I still can't believe Ron fell for that," Ginny Weasley shook her head in mock sadness, a large, goofy grin upon her lips. "After all the trick food you've given him!"

"I know!" Fred, along with George, began to laugh all over again. "That's what makes this a masterpiece!"

"Well," George cut in, his face suddenly serious, "besides the fact that his head got so hugely swollen that it was literally touching the ground, his whole body bent like an old woman's so his neck wouldn't stretch…"

"Yes, indeed." Fred nodded just as solemnly. "George, Angelina, Harry and I all had to carry him to the infirmary."

"His head was so heavy I needed Ginny's help carrying it all the way there," Angelina cut in, giggling.

Hermione shook her head helplessly as she continued laughing, imagining Ron's head swelling up so big it was too heavy to hold upright. But then a tiny voice—a voice she had recently dubbed as her Prefect Voice—spoke up.

"You know, maybe I should tell McGonagall about this."

Fred snorted. "Live a little, Hermione, and hush up."

Harry shrugged carelessly, still smiling widely. "Besides, she's gonna find out anyway."

"But, bloody hell!" George started laughing again, careful to stay in control of his bladder. "That was worth all the trouble we're getting into tomorrow!"

"Damn straight!" Fred assented, before falling into supposed thought as he turned to Angelina. "You know, Angelina, I wonder if you'd still find me adorable if my head got all swollen."

Angelina shook her head in mock sorrow. "I'm afraid not, Fred."

Fred feigned a hurt look as Harry, Ginny and Hermione all burst into loud laughter.

George sighed deeply, got up off his chair, and squeezed himself between Angelina and Fred on the two-seater couch. He smiled sadly and patted his twin's back. "Don't feel bad, Fred. I still think—" he threw Angelina an obviously faked angry look, "that you're one damn sexy man. Even with a swollen head."

"Only you would," Harry interjected, but he was pointedly ignored by the twins.

Fred looked up at George, a large, overly joyous smile upon his features. "Well, golly gee wilikers, I think you'll always look great, too." At that, the twins burst into false tears and gave each other a hug.

Ginny rolled her eyes, and George stood up and took his place back on the other chair. Angelina leaned over and gave Fred a brief kiss.

"It's too bad that Andy couldn't be here," Hermione suddenly said quietly, dreamily. "He'd have such a huge laugh out of this."

"Well, you're the one that chose a Ravenclaw to be your boyfriend, Mione." Harry gave her a lamenting smile. "So it's nobody else's fault but yours, sadly."

Hermione stuck out her tongue at him before turning to the rest. "So, how was Ron when you guys were dragging him to the infirmary? I imagine he was quite embarrassed."

The common room burst into laughter again.

"Embarrassed isn't the word for it," Fred choked out, leaning upon Angelina for support.

"It's more of he was absolutely, positively humiliated." George said happily.

"Disgraced," Harry grinned.

"Mortified," Angelina's grin was even bigger.

"God, was he red!" George threw back his head and laughed uproariously.

"Yeah," Ginny beamed, "he was even redder than when I caught him last summer doodling Hermione's name on a piece of paper—"

Everyone fell quiet and threw Ginny warning looks, with the exception of Hermione, who seemed to lapse into shock.

"Oops," Ginny put a hand over her mouth; flushed a bright crimson. "I don't think I should have said that."

"Probably not," Harry shook his head, still looking over at Hermione in concern. "You okay?"

"Wh-what did you say?" she whispered in a trembling voice, ignoring Harry's quiet inquiry; all the color had left her skin, leaving her looking pallid, sickened.

"Nothing," Ginny hurriedly tried to take back what she had just said.

"No, no…I heard you the first time," Hermione mumbled, her fingers spasmodically clenching and unclenching. "It's just that…Ron? Doodling? My name? I—I don't get it all means."

Fred sighed impatiently. "Of course you get it, Hermione. Don't be a prat—you know what all this means."

Hermione shook her head in confusion. "But that can't be, Ron has a girlfriend, and he—and he—oh, wow." She blinked in a futile attempt to clear her now wildly cluttered mind.

George gave Ginny a look that plainly said: You just wait until Ron hears about this. He's going to roast you over a nice, slow, open fire.

Ginny gulped.

Fred stood up and clapped his hands once. "Well, anyone with half a brain should leave Hermione to her thoughts, I think." He glanced at his little sister. "And you should too, Ginny." He added as an afterthought.

Nodding in agreement and murmuring words of assent, they all got up and left, with the exception of Harry. He stayed by Hermione's side a moment longer, patting her back.

"Get some sleep, all right?" he whispered in a tone that was pacifying, comforting. "I'm sure everything will make more sense tomorrow."

Hermione nodded reluctantly and got up with him. "Y-yeah. You're right. G'night, Harry."

Without another word, each one began to make their way up their own respective staircases.

"Harry?" Hermione's voice was soft, almost inaudible. She hurried back to him, pulled him back before he could begin his ascent.

Harry turned around to look at her. He thought she looked slightly different beneath the moon's pale beams—somewhat haunting, almost ethereal.

"Yeah?"

Hermione averted her intense gaze, and coughed self-consciously before speaking.

"How long have you known about…um…Ron and…you know?"

Harry scratched his head. "I dunno," he mumbled. "A year? Maybe?"

Hermione's eyes widened in evident surprise; her mouth dropped open. "A year? A full year? You mean, all this time I was writing to Krum, and dating Andy, he—he's been—and you didn't—oooooh."

"Mione," Harry gently squeezed her hand, "calm down, all right? We'll talk about this tomorrow, when you've gotten your bearings back…somewhat."

"A year? That long? And I didn't…oh my God, all that time I was talking about Andy and he—and he has a girlfriend…" Hermione went on with her incessant, almost intelligible murmurs, wholly ignoring Harry's soothing mantra.

"Hermione!" Harry cried, waving his hand in front of her. "Snap out of it!"

Hermione's empty gaze cleared, focused. "Oh. Harry. I'm sorry. I'm just so…shocked."

Harry grinned. "I could tell. Listen up, Mione. Get. Some. Sleep. Everything always seems much better in the morning. And then, maybe you can even talk to Ron about it."

"Maybe," she said distractedly, but he could tell she wasn't quite considering talking to Ron just yet. "But, I guess sleep would be nice."

"Now you're talking." Harry smiled and held out his arms. "Now hug it out."

Hermione smiled back and stepped into his warm, brotherly grasp.

But, as she did so, she wondered if she'd ever be able to let Ron hold her the same way again.

She thought about that same question until she fell into an uneasy sleep in her bed two hours later.

A/N: I didn't like that. I don't think I worked on it enough. I'm guessing you didn't like it either, but I'd still hope for you guys to r/r. Thank you! [gives breadsticks] Although I also hope I'll find it in myself to actually continue this, yeesh.