TITLE: The Fool

AUTHOR: Julianne Thomas


1 PAIRING: Ron/Hermione, Seamus/Lavender

DISCLAIMER: Anything in this story that you recognize is the intellectual and creative property of JK Rowling or Lee Ann Womack. I own nothing and do not claim to.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've always wondered about the quiet ones…

A/N 2: There's no character listing for Lavender or Seamus! For that reason, this is listed under R/Hr.

"The Fool" by Jules

"I'm the fool in love with the fool

Who is still in love with you."

--Lee Ann Womack, "The Fool"

With bleary eyes, Lavender Brown scanned the front page of the Daily Prophet. News from the Ministry regarding Muggle-Wizard relations…Lavender heard enough of that at work. Quidditch scores…not her forte. That was more reserved for her friends Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. Only half paying attention, Lavender skimmed through the rest of the Prophet. She was just about to push the paper aside when something on the Society page caught her eye.

The heading was Engagements. Next to a printed photograph…

Daniel and Charlotte Granger announce the engagement of their daughter, Hermione Elizabeth, to Ronald (Ron) Arthur Weasley.

Lavender skimmed the announcement, a tiny half-smile on her face. So, her classes' most famous couple was finally making it official. It was inevitable, and everyone had known it.

Hermione and Ron had been friends since their first year at Hogwarts, and it quickly became evident that they were meant to be much more. Ron cursed himself their second year trying to hex Malfoy for calling Hermione a "Mudblood"…Hermione was petrified by the basilisk, and Ron braved the Forbidden Forest with Harry to find a way to revive her…Hermione fussed over Ron's broken leg third year…Ron drooled over Hermione at the Yule Ball fourth year…Hermione was terrified for Ron fifth year when he and Harry were drawn into a duel with Voldemort—fearing not for herself, but for him…Ron asked Hermione to the Yule Ball in sixth year and that night, told her he loved her…Hermione, in the midst of her valedictorian's speech, thanked Harry for being the brother she'd never had, and thanked Ron for the gift of his awesome love, calling him her inspiration, her salvation…

Yes, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were destined for each other.

That wasn't to say that others hadn't tried to date either of them. Viktor Krum's interest in Hermione fourth year sparked Ron's jealousy, and that was only the beginning. As they got older, Ron and Hermione really blossomed, and they ended up two of the best looking students at Hogwarts. There were flirtations and casual dates on both parts—in fact, Lavender herself had dabbled in dating Ron for all of a week before they both decided they were better off as friends. The Gryffindor boys could certainly appreciate Hermione's beauty, but they knew that she was, for all practical purposes, Ron's.

That didn't keep one in particular from falling for her, though.

Lavender studied the photograph that accompanied the announcement. Ron was as handsome as ever—tall and broad, his hair still a fiery red, his eyes sparkling as he squeezed Hermione's shoulders. Hermione was lovelier that ever. Her chestnut hair spilled over her shoulders, and her deep brown eyes were light with happiness, a perfect compliment to the joyous smile on her face. She and Ron were so in love, so happy.

They deserved all the happiness in the world, Lavender mused. After they and Harry defeated Voldemort, they were able to live normal lives again. She was glad for Ron and Hermione, and even a little envious of their obvious bliss.

She was pulled from her reverie by a 'pop' from the front hall of her flat. Turning her head toward the door, she called, "Seamus?"

Seamus Finnigan entered the kitchen, kissed Lavender on the cheek, and poured himself a cup of coffee. Settling across from her, he grinned. "Morning, love." She and Seamus had been together since the middle of their last year at Hogwarts, and many of their friends speculated that they'd marry soon. That would have thrilled Lavender—she loved Seamus deeply and would have liked nothing more than to be his wife. She knew Seamus cared for her, but she wasn't sure if he cared enough to marry her. Would she ever know? She sighed, hoping Seamus would ask her what was wrong.

But he didn't. He was pouring over Ron and Hermione's engagement announcement. In silence, Lavender watched the emotions play across Seamus' face.

After staring at the picture for a long moment, Seamus met Lavender's eyes and pasted a smile on his face. "So, Ron and 'Mione are tying the knot? I knew he'd pop the question one of these days." Seamus drained his coffee cup and said, "I'm off to the office, love. I'll see you tonight." Kissing Lavender quickly, he Disapperated, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

Seamus' hasty exit made the truth suddenly, painfully clear.

He was still in love with Hermione Granger.

He'd fallen for her in their fifth year, when they'd been made partners in Potions. Even though it was obvious how Hermione felt about Ron, Seamus longed for her. After mooning over her and moping about her, he resolved to move on, knowing he could never have her as long as her heart belonged to Ron. After a while, he seemed to have gotten over her, and he dated a slew of girls, ending with Lavender.

Facing the truth as she did now, Lavender felt a bit like a consolation prize—the one Seamus was with because he couldn't have the one he truly wanted. It hadn't troubled her so much before because she was certain he was over Hermione. Staring down at the picture of the happy couple, Lavender tried to hate her, to be angry at her—and found she could not. The two women were friends, and Lavender loved Hermione dearly. And Hermione had no fault in this—she never knew how Seamus felt about her, because he'd never told her, and she was too lost in her love for Ron to even notice.

Back then, Lavender had thought it better that Seamus never told Hermione of his feelings for her. Now, though, a part of her wished he had confessed. Maybe then, things would be different…

Lavender shook her head. She was being foolish. Things were just fine the way they were. Ron and Hermione were happy, and she and Seamus were happy. Except, of course, for the fact that Seamus longed for a dream of his past, leaving Lavender to love a man who could never give her his whole heart.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Blinking away her tears, Lavender answered it and discovered Hermione on the stoop, bubbling over with excitement. As Lavender hugged and congratulated her friend, she found herself loving Hermione for her innocence, loving Seamus for his goodness…

And hating herself for being the fool in love with the fool who still wanted the one he could never have.