Published On: 13 August 2009
Disclaimer: As much as I love them, I do not own the characters.
"Spotter Potter always sees the snitch! Spotter Potter, ruler of the pitch!"
Hermione Granger's smile could not have been any wider as she watched her friends Ron and Harry and the rest of the Quidditch team get carried past her on the way to the common room. Ron was cheering loudly as ever and Harry was trying to politely ask to be put down, but none of Gryffindor really wanted to let either of them go. They hadn't needed to walk ever since they landed on the Quidditch pitch.
"Weasley is our King! Weasley is our King! He didn't let the quaffle in! Weasley is our King!"
This time, Hermione couldn't stop the bubble of laughter that escaped as she joined the crowd in cheering. Even after the team had been put down to crawl through the portrait hole, they were simply hoisted back into their air once they were in the common room. Ron shot a fist in the air and let out a roar of a cheer and the rest of the House joined in enthusiastically.
After weeks and weeks of tension ever since Lavender Brown had entered the picture, things had finally begun to mend themselves between her and Ron. They had even spoken to each other at certain moments. Why, just that morning, she had asked Ron to pass the marmalade and he answered "Sure, here you go", she said, "Thank you, Ron," and Ron replied, "'Welcome." Things were getting back to normal.
That didn't change the fact that Hermione still thought Lavender Brown was a sleazy, spiteful and manipulative tart.
"Oi, Hermione!" Ron's shouting over all the noise snapped her out of her thinking. He waved widely in her direction. "We've got the butterbeer and snacks up in our dorm! Could you bring them down?" He gave an apologetic shrug, motioning vaguely to his current indisposition atop the Gryffindor's shoulders.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"They're under Ron's and mine's beds!" Harry added as he looked increasingly uneasy with Romilda Vane placing both her hands underneath him somewhere.
"Want some help?" Neville half-shouted at her over the cheering. His face was smeared with red and gold paint.
"No, I've got it," she said, laughing lightly as he scratched his face and got the colour on his fingers. Hermione gently pushed her way through the throng of people until she reached the spiral staircase leading to the boys' dormitory. Listening to a dying verse of 'Weasley is Our King', Hermione chuckled as she opened the door to Harry and Ron's room.
"Hey, Quidditch star," said a thick voice that had Hermione tripping over her own feet, "I think I'd like to try and score against—Oh god, Hermione?"
For an uncomfortable moment, Hermione could only stare at Lavender from the floor that she had fallen on. Lavender, after having apparently swung herself half off the bed and around one of the bedposts to face the entryway, stared back. She was dressed loosely in Ron's Quidditch practice robes (with several necessary buttons undone) with only one long leg peaking out while the other knee was still half on the bed. Her shiny blonde hair was down, crimped, curled and perfect. Her makeup was carefully applied and flawless. She was so pretty that Hermione even blushed.
"I…" Words failed Hermione. "I was just…" she motioned to Ron's bed and blinked.
"Huh?" said Lavender, confused.
Without a word or making any eye contact, Hermione carefully picked herself off the floor and walked forward. She knelt next to the bed Lavender had one bare knee on and reached underneath, careful to keep her face hidden behind her hair. She could already feel the tears prickling at the corner of her eyes…
"What are you doing?" Lavender asked her sharply.
Hermione, after having blindly felt the shrunken container underneath, pulled out the case of butterbeer before standing very slowly. She set it on Ron's bed.
"They're snacks for the common room." Hermione said in a very controlled voice. "You should come down and join the celebration."
"Oh," Lavender stared, pulling the robes around her a little tighter, "Um, no. I'm going to be up here for a bit…" she trailed off in a tone that was much less abrasive.
Hermione nodded, not looking at her. She could feel her body moving without real thought as she went over to Harry's bed and pulled out the food from underneath. She walked back over to Ron's bed and stacked the two crates on top of each other.
Lavender flopped down on the other side of the duvet and laughed suddenly.
"I'm really glad it was just you at the door and not one of the other boys," she said.
Just you. The words echoed in Hermione's head. Just little ol' Hermione coming along...
"That was pretty stupid of me to not consider them, huh?" she chuckled.
"Hey, Hermione?" said Lavender before Hermione could carry the crates out of the room. After all the hateful and jealous glances she had thrown Hermione's way, Lavender now suddenly seemed so much more quiet and less offensive. She was almost friendlier. Hermione could imagine why...she was with Ron and Ron had a way of taming some of one's less than desirable personality traits. Images from their first year surfaced without warning and Hermione could suddenly recall all of the teasing she endured from the girl before becoming friends with Harry and Ron.
"Hm?" she answered. She tried not to open her mouth in fear of a verbal floodgate.
Lavender pulled the deep neckline closer to her chest "This…is kind of a surprise for Ron," she said awkwardly, "Could you not tell him?"
"Of course." What else could she say?
Without waiting for another word to be exchanged, Hermione heaved the two cases in her arms and walked as fast as she could out the room without looking back. As soon as she heard Lavender close the door again behind her, Hermione took the stairs two at a time until she reached the bottom and tripped on the last stair. The top box toppled over.
"Careful there, Hermione!" said Ginny, grabbing her elbow tightly with one hand and the bottom of the second case with the other to prevent her from falling. Hermione straightened herself and Ginny took the crate from her arms and passed it along to someone else.
"Somebody enlarge the butterbeer!" she shouted before looking down at the second sealed box on the ground at their feet. She shoved it aside with her boot. "And the candy!"
"Excuse me," Hermione made a move to walk past Ginny and return to her own dormitory.
"Hey!" Ginny grabbed her elbow again, "Where're you going?" she asked incredulously. She was the only Quidditch player not re-enacting a play from the match in front of the fireplace.
"I was going to read," she said flatly, looking at the floor.
"Hermione. You did just see us beat Slytherinby by over two hundred points twenty minutes ago, right?" She feared her friend had finally lost it.
Hermione sighed, "Yes, but I'm reading a particularly interesting book right now."
"About what?" Meaning, What on earth could be more fascinating than our epic victory today?
Hermione said the first thing that came to mind, "Goblin poetry."
Ginny huffed at her disbelievingly, "Read it later! Have some butterbeer and pasties with everyone, for goodness sake."
"Ginny!" Harry shouted over to her from the fireplace, "We need our third chaser!"
"Stay down with the rest of us for a bit, yeah?" she said, pulling Hermione's arm towards the couch so she could watch the rest of the team do a play-by-play of the match.
For the next thirty minutes or so, Hermione sat numbly on the edge of the couch, squished next to Neville. In a sense, it was comforting to watch Ron in front of her and know that he wasn't in his dormitory with another girl, but down in the common room with her instead. She laughed at Ginny mimicking a Slytherin chaser attempting to score against Ron, (who blocked the pumpkin pasty being thrown in place of a quaffle) before she was knocked dramatically to the floor by a bludger (a butterbeer cork). Everyone moved with exaggerated movements that only amused the entire House and caused much cheering. Their skit ended with Harry knocking over one of the chairs to catch somebody's half-eaten chocolate frog that symbolized him catching the snitch.
The room exploded into applause and laughter and the team bowed. Once the players dissipated and went off on their own separate activities, the common room suddenly seemed much quieter. Ron waved at her and walked off with the two beaters to continue a conversation.
"I'm gonna go up and wash my face," Neville sighed as he glanced at the paint that rubbed off on his fingers and stood.
"Same," said Seamus, taking one last bite of his liquorice wand, "I'm bloody exhausted from all that cheering."
Hermione's heart leapt triumphantly as she watched Neville and Seamus head towards their, and consequently Ron's, dormitory. Lavender wouldn't try to do anything with two other boys in the room! For a brief couple of minutes, Hermione let herself forget about the girl in Ron's robes waiting just up the stairs. Ron was still down in the common room, enjoying Gryffindor's landslide victory against Slytherin and the festivities with her.
Well, sort of.
He was actually still talking animatedly to his teammates at almost the furthest possible distance from Hermione. She prayed that it was unintentional and settled on subtly watching him from her spot on the couch.
A minute later, Seamus and Neville returned to the common room, frowning.
"The house elves must be cleaning or something," Neville guessed.
"I thought they cleaned the rooms when we were in class?" Seamus asked, equally confused.
Neville shrugged, "Why else would the door be blocked?"
They're voices faded as they walked to the other side of the common room. Lavender had put some kind of selective spell on the door that would only let Ron in, Hermione mentally concluded. Now more than ever, she wanted to run up to her room and be alone, but she couldn't bring herself to move. Her chin was trembling and her eyes prickled almost painfully from not blinking.
She wouldn't cry if she was somewhere people could see her...
She saw a set of feet out of the corner of her eye. "Hermione?" said Harry worriedly as he sat down next to her. "Are you all right?"
It was then when she felt the wet streaks running down either side of her face. She hastily wiped at them with her sleeve. She took a shaky breath.
"Yes. I'm just tired."
Harry offered her a butterbeer which Hermione took, but she was more content peeling off the label piece by piece rather than drinking.
"You seemed okay a couple minutes ago," he tried again.
"Yes, because I've only just become tired now."
"Right." Harry didn't try to force out more information, but sat next to her anyway, drinking his own butterbeer and looking quite miserable himself. Discreetly, Hermione watched him from underneath her hair and saw his own gaze directed towards the common room corner where Ginny was sitting sideways on Dean's lap, still in her chaser uniform. He had a hand on her thigh and she had an elbow on his shoulder to prop her head up as she exchanged a few quiet words with him, looking a bit annoyed. Dean was trying so hard to have this perfect relationship with her…
"They look quite comfortable." Hermione remarked, gauging Harry's reaction.
"Ron's done something, hasn't he?" he said, his face giving away little.
Hermione shook her head and went back to picking at the unopened bottle. She feared that if she put anything in her stomach, she would be sick.
"Hey, I'm going to turn in early," said Ron minutes later, leaning over the couch next to Harry, "I'm wiped. You coming up?"
Hermione cringed, but kept her head down so he wouldn't see.
"No I'm gonna stay down here for a bit," Harry said, "You did brilliant today, by the way."
"Thanks," he said, embarrassed. He was probably blushing, too, Hermione thought but she refused to look. "Hey have either of you seen Lavender? She usually comes and finds me right after a game and I haven't seen her all evening. I'm almost worried!" He laughed.
"No, sorry, I haven't," said Harry, but not very apologetically, "Have a good night."
Hermione emitted a strangled noise that caused both boys to look at her peculiarly.
"Er, you, too. 'Night Harry, 'night Hermione."
Hermione felt, rather than saw, Ron leave. She looked up just in time to see his back disappear up the spiral staircase.
It was then she finally broke down. It was a series of soft sniffling first, followed gracelessly by shaking shoulders and then quiet crying. She dropped her head in embarrassment and tried to will herself enough momentum to sprint to her own dormitory and lock herself in her four-poster.
"Hermione?" Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a worried Harry angling himself to face her on the couch. She felt him apprehensively put a hand on her shoulder. He and Ron both hated seeing girls cry. There were absolutely dreadful and dead useless in situations like these.
"What did you say to her, Harry?" Ginny's voice hissed angrily. She must have apparently spotted Hermione's distress and left Dean before coming over.
"Me?" said Harry, offended, "I only asked what was wrong!"
Ginny knelt in front of Hermione on the floor, "Then what happened?" she asked either of them.
Harry could only shrug and Hermione shook her bushy hair.
"Ron's done something, hasn't he?" Ginny concluded grimly.
"No," Hermione said weakly, "Not just yet anyway, I'd imagine," she added darkly. She could sense her friends staring at her, waiting for her to continue.
"What happened, Hermione?" Ginny asked again, more softly than before.
Hermione took a very deep breath and exhaled noisily. "I…" she swallowed and started again, whispering quietly, "I went up to the boys' dormitory after the match…to get the food."
"But that was ages ago," said Harry, frowning.
Ginny shushed him.
"And Lavender was there."
Harry and Ginny exchanged brief dawning looks.
"Is…Lavender still—?" Harry was cut off with a swift glare from Ginny.
"You should have stopped Ron from going up there," she said sternly.
Hermione's face was red as she tried holding her breath to prevent further crying. Her dam broke, however, when she opened her mouth to speak. She exploded into unforgiving sobbing and large tears that raced each other down the sides of her cheeks to her chin. Never had she cried like this before. It took her nearly a minute with the help of soothing words from Harry and Ginny to be able to control herself.
"She was in his robes!" she cried. "On his bed…! Just waiting for him to walk in so she could...!" Several more tears poured out.
Harry sat back a little, shoulders dropping in shock.
"Oh Hermione…" said Ginny empathetically, pulling aside some of Hermione's hair to wipe her eyes gently.
"A-a-and now he's alone in the dorm with her," Hermione sobbed, crumbling even more.
Ginny fluidly moved to sit next to her on her other side and wrapped her arms around Hermione's shoulders. She rocked her slowly back and forth much like Mrs. Weasley probably used to do with Ginny when all her brothers left for school. She muttered spitefully, "That great prat."
"Do you…want me to go up there?" Harry offered, though it was quite obvious he hated the idea as much as Hermione hated Ron up there.
"No. I—I don't care anymore," she lied, detangling herself out of Ginny's arms, "I'm just tired."
They both regarded her disbelievingly.
"Don't insult us, Hermione," said Ginny, unhappily, "We're not that dumb." (Though she did briefly glance almost doubtfully at Harry.)
She swallowed a painful lump in her throat and sniffed. "It was just the way she looked at me like I was…" Just you, "and I had never felt so stupid in my entire life just sitting there and I didn't know what to say so I was just staring at her with all that makeup and—and her perfect hair and I," she sobbed miserably, "and I had no problem understanding why Ron likes her so much."
"That's not true," said Harry quickly, attempting to be helpful. "He's been trying to get rid of her for weeks now."
"It hasn't stopped him from snogging her at all, has it?" Hermione snapped.
Harry went on, ignoring her, "Don't you remember how jealous he got when you went to the Yule Ball with Krum?"
"Viktor," she corrected.
"Right," he said, "But—"
"But what, Harry?" Hermione exasperated, "That was two years ago." She sniffed again. "And I was pretty for one night and Ron didn't even care and Lavender—" the name evoked another round of tears "—will always look like she does now."
"Not if she stops stuffing her bra," Ginny said wryly. Unfortunately, her statement failed to garner a smile out of Hermione. She continued to stare distantly into the fire so Ginny continued, "Remember how quick Viktor was to ask you to the Ball? And then Neville did, too! Neither of them have ever asked out Lavender before, and we like them both plenty."
"And what about McLaggen?" Harry tried. "He seems to fancy you a bit."
The girls rolled their eyes extravagantly, but Hermione laughed a little, "Let's not even say that name, anymore. His ears might start burning and he'll decide to grace us all with his presence."
"Don't worry, he's in detention tonight with Filch," supplied Ginny smugly.
This issued a sigh of relief from Hermione. "I know I'm just being stupid," she said, rubbing her eyes furiously, "And I know it's really not that important what a person looks like—"
"I always thought you were pretty," Harry cut in suddenly, shrugging.
This statement caused Ginny to snap her head at him and Hermione to slowly turn her face away from the flames.
"I mean, in a friendly and objective sort of way," he said hastily once he saw their initial expressions. Harry looked them looking at him dubiously, "I'm sorry, was this some sort of secret I was supposed to keep or something?" he joked.
Ginny blinked away some emotion that was almost akin to covetousness and Hermione shook her head, "Harry," she started, "I know I'm nothing like Lavender or the Patil twins—"
"No, of course you're not," he agreed. Ginny eyed him darkly so Harry was quick to continue. "I mean, I'm glad you're not. We all are. Padme, Parvati, and…Lavender," he said this name very carefully, "are nice and all, but…I don't think they've ever really opened up or trusted anyone like you have. So we wouldn't really be able to call them pretty, you know?"
Judging by the blank stares he received from the two girls, Harry assumed they didn't. He sighed embarrassedly, suddenly feeling like he'd gone in a little too deep.
"Anyone can worry about makeup, vanity charms or some kind of hair potion…but you worry about the important stuff like basilisks and escaped convicts and the future. And yeah, when you have time, you can also throw on a nice dress, do fancy things with your hair," he motioned vaguely towards her frizzing crowning glory, "and do whatever the other girls do, but you've never really needed to or wanted to. So instead of this mask we see with the Patil's and the Brown's of the wizarding world…we get the completely real, natural and undiluted Hermione. It's a little raw sometimes…but it's honest. And brave. And that's really attractive at certain moments."
Both Ginny and Hermione stared at him, stunned and speechless. Ginny's mouth was open slightly and Hermione had yet to blink.
"I dunno." Harry shrugged again, suddenly awkward, "I guess I just always appreciated that about you. And I figure Ron does, too. And McLaggen." He added jokingly.
Hermione was reeling from Harry's words for so long that she nearly jumped when she felt Ginny put a comforting hand on her knee. She looked down at the younger girl who smiled encouragingly up at her.
"Thank you," she said sincerely to both of them. As if by magic, her eyes were suddenly dry and her breathing was even. Her prior feelings on insecurity and self-doubt had just been replaced with cherishment and a glowing sense of camaraderie. She leapt off the couch and Harry and Ginny stood, too.
She hugged Ginny first, the only girl who was ever quick to her defence and treated her like a sister, smiling. As soon as she pulled away, Hermione latched on to Harry in an even tighter hug and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"Thank you," she whispered again before pulling her arms back.
"Aww, I think Harry here's just starting to get the hang of girls!" declared Ginny, slapping him on the back in an almost boyish way. Hermione figured that she was the only one who caught him blushing and staring up at Ginny from under his fringe while she laughed.
"So you gonna go after him and toss that bimbo around or what?" Ginny asked her.
"Yes." She said firmly as if daring someone to challenge her just then.
"Good luck." She said, saluting.
Harry shoved his hands into his pockets and offered a friendly smile as she marched towards the spiral staircase.
"You know," Hermione heard Ginny say in an enlightened tone, "You're not bad, Harry Potter."
"Really? Thanks, Gin—!"
"Hey, Ginny!" said Dean at the portrait hole, "I just had a sudden craving for peach pie so I was going to head down to the kitchens. Wanna come?"
"Sure," she shrugged before hopping over the couch, "Later, Harry,"
"Oh, um okay, bye…"
Hermione had boldly marched up the stairs and past all the younger dorms with grace and pride, but her nerve failed her the second she stood in front of the door. So much for Gryffindor bravery, she thought helplessly. After several moments of deliberating and feeling immensely stupid, she knocked. A minute went by and she still heard no movement. She tried opening the door but it wouldn't allow her entry. She smacked it angrily and her palm stung for several minutes after.
Hermione whipped out her wand.
"Impedamenta!" she shouted and the door was blasted open so fast that it swung back and nearly hit her. A loud scene was revealed before her.
"—rather be with her, wouldn't you?" Lavender screeched which made Hermione acutely aware of the silencing charm she had broken the second she had forced the door open. Ron looked like he had been about to respond just Hermione appeared.
They both turned to stare at her standing with her wand arm still up next to the door that was still swinging back and forth on its hinges. Hermione had never felt so out of place in her life. Ron was on one side of the room near the desk by the window, red in the face but Hermione couldn't tell if it was with embarrassment or anger. Lavender was closer to the bathroom and, Hermione had no probably observing, was absolutely livid.
She had walked right into a screaming match.
Lavender pointed a rigid finger at Hermione.
"You!" she shouted, looking almost betrayed, "You said something to him, didn't you?"
She dropped her wand arm quickly. "N-no, I—" Hermione didn't know what to say.
"Then why are you up here?" she wailed.
Hermione took a deep breath and said very deliberately, "I've come to talk to Ron."
Ron looked at her, surprised, and Lavender snorted derisively. Both reactions made Hermione more self conscious of her neck and face heating up in embarrassment. Her knees were shaking and her resolve had practically disapparated.
"Is everything okay?" Ron asked quickly, his face going from red to white in seconds. Hermione tried not to be too pleased with how concerned he became.
"Yes," Hermione said, short of breath and tucking her wand away, "I just wanted—needed to talk to you."
"Right now?" Lavender gritted.
Hermione wasn't sure who she was really asking so she nodded and began to wring her hands nervously.
Ron slowly turned back to Lavender, "Er, Lav, could you give us a couple minutes—?"
Lavender was looking at him, disbelievingly before she exploded. "This is what I was talking about!" she snapped, suddenly no longer as beautiful as she appeared to Hermione earlier, but actually quite terrifying. "This is exactly what I meant! You never have time and you're always making excuses!"
"Hermione said she needed to talk to me!" Ron defended, waving in her direction.
"And I'm saying that I love you!"
Hermione felt her insides drop before she watched Ron pale.
"I've been waiting up here for hours ever since before the match ended!" she wailed again and Hermione felt a new sense of pity stir inside of her. She watched as Lavender's eyes welled up with tears and felt a strange connection with her roommate for the first time in six years:
They had both cried over the same boy.
"Ron," she said weakly, her lovely face skewered by emotion. She took a half step towards him and reached out, waiting to see if he would meet her halfway...
He didn't move. If anything, he seized up and gripped his desk tighter.
Hermione didn't know what to expect from Lavender in turn. She was a little jealous when she saw how quickly she schooled her emotions and turned her wavering voice into one more steeled. "I'll...bring your robes back tomorrow," said Lavender before she snatched up her own clothes that were folded somewhat messily on a dresser and stormed out of the room; the slamming door a final salute of hatred that made them both jolt.
Ron visibly sagged in relief.
"I thought I'd never be able to shake her." He let up half a smile as he glanced towards Hermione for a mutual look, but her face was expressionless. "Er, did you...did you say you wanted to talk to me?" Ron asked her a little anxiously.
Hermione stared at him for a long moment, searching for words, until Ron began to squirm.
"I didn't mean to barge in," she lied.
Ron glanced at the scorch marks on the one side of the door before snapping his gaze back to Hermione.
"It's fine," he said.
"Lavender didn't look too happy," she commented tonelessly.
"Er, yeah...Lav's a nice girl, but she's easy to upset." Ron explained a little awkwardly, "It's actually kind of annoying,"
Hermione blinked at him.
"I mean," Ron went on quickly, his ears pink, "Normally I don't really mind and I was fine with it for the first couple of weeks, but I never thought that she'd, er, that we'd…you know," he waved his arm towards the great efforts Lavender went through to be with him but it was actually just the direction of the bed. "I never really felt the same way...she was just sort of there, you know?" It sounded like he was trying to justify himself. "And it was nice for a while, just being with someone, I mean," again, he babbled helplessly
Hermione took a brave step forward. "Ron," she started, sufficiently silencing him, "Before you and I were friends, Lavender was one of the girls who used to tease me back in our first year." She sounded so pathetic, Hermione thought. "She's stopped after the troll...incident, but I've still had to live with her these past six years," she looked at him imploringly, "and I know what she's like, Ron."
"Hermione..." he trailed off uncertainly.
"I hate seeing you with her." Her voice trembled. She dropped her gaze. Her mouth was dry, her eyes were wet again and breathing evenly was difficult.
Ron looked at her.
"I hate it," she reiterated. I hate it so much.
"Oh," was all he said, nearly in audibly.
They both stared at their shoes for a while.
She shook her head, still not looking up. "It's not your fault. I didn't really expect you to know."
"But I should've," he said, frustrated, "We've known each other for six years! If you didn't want me seeing Lavender you should have told me! I wouldn't have gone out with her in the first place if you had just—" he stopped abruptly and didn't continue.
"I don't like seeing you with anybody." Hermione said softly after a while.
There was a pregnant pause in which both Ron and Hermione held their breathes.
"You...you don't?" he said just as quietly.
She shook her head.
"Since when?" he asked.
Ron swallowed audibly.
"What about you?" he croaked.
"What about me?"
He fidgeted but fought to keep eye contact, "Could you see me...with you?"
Hermione could, as a matter of fact, see it. She had dreamt it. She had planned it all out in those rare instances when she was bored by something in class. She had quite possibly imagined them together ever since she turned thirteen; before Viktor, before McLaggen, before Lavender...back when it was just 'Ron and Hermione' without the extra components.
Ron let out the breath he had been holding.
He was finally with her.
All right, all right so the update is a little over due, but I got it out eventually, didn't I?! (A little last minute with five minutes to midnight, but whatever haha.)
My first attempt at Ron/Hermione! Any thoughts? I felt like I had to throw in all those dashes of Harry/Ginny because there were a lot more Harry and Hermione bonding moments than I anticipated o_0
On another note, the party I went to last night instead of updating was totally fab ^_^ (Aaaaand now back to Girl Got Game...)