The Ruined Evening

"You always ruin everything, Ron!"

The five icy words slipped from Hermoine's lips before she could stop them, but after she had given it a proper five seconds of thought, she was glad they had tumbled out and she knew she meant every word.

Ignoring Ron's bewildered expression, Hermoine turned on her heel and stormed out of the Great Hall. Bursting out of the heavy double doors of Hogwarts, she practically stomped down the stone steps and into the chilly, night air. She only stopped long enough to let out a surprised cry as her high heel caught in a crag and snapped. She angrily tore the shoes off of her feet and began to run through the dark grass.

Hermoine finally stopped when she reached the lake. It was so beautiful, she thought, shimmering magnificently in the moonlight. And with a dramatic hiss, she threw her heels into the water.

Half of her knew that she was being unreasonable, but the other half felt that it was justifiable. Ron had ruined everything, after all.

Turning from the watery grave of her shoes, Hermoine began to walk with purpose across the grounds of Hogwarts. The cold, autumn air brushed her skin lightly through her black gown. It probably would have made more sense to just go back to the dorm, but she didn't want anybody to see her. And she didn't want to be found.

Hermoine ascended a grassy hill, trying to push away the thought of what had just happened and the feeling of pure humiliation that accompanied it. She brushed her curly hair out of her face. It had once again become loose and uncontrollable in her mad dash from the castle.

She had, at that precise moment, come face to face with the Whomping Willow. As she watched it thrash around violently, her thoughts thrashed with it.

It was going to be the perfect evening. It was supposed to be, anyway. Until Ron had destroyed it, quite literally with his fist.

There had been a surprise visit from the Durmstrang students and a ball held at Hogwarts, in honor of their visit and Halloween. Viktor Krum had asked Hermoine to be his date immediately and she had accepted willingly. She had not seen him in two years, not since her fourth year. And although she had once thought that she didn't much care for him (he did seem to enjoy watching her study, strangely enough), she was excited to see him again. He was her friend, after all. And besides, Ron would be with Lavender.

Hermoine wrapped her arms around herself as she stared at the wild tree. All the events came back in a dizzying rush, nearly knocking the wind out of her.

It had been a slow dance, the first one of the night. Hermoine sat at a table that was dressed in an orange tablecloth, by herself. She watched couples sway close together, as she waited for Krum to return. He had gone to get drinks. He wouldn't be long.

Long moments passed as Hermoine crossed one leg, and then the other. She picked at the tablecloth. She sighed.

And then she spotted Krum dancing with a girl – a particularly, foul Slytherin girl. She got to her feet as her heart sank and her irritation flared. But she forced herself to calm down. Krum wasn't tied to her. He could dance with whomever he wished. She herself had promised Neville a dance and so Krum wasn't doing anything wrong, right?

Quite right.

Hermoine slowly sat back down. Any moment, the slow dance would end and Krum would get those drinks. But if she was being completely honest with herself, she really wasn't thirsty anymore. And she couldn't take her eyes off of them.

It was during the last strains of the song that Hermoine noticed someone tall tapping Krum on the shoulder. As Krum turned from the Slytherin girl and faced the interruption, Hermoine saw that the interruption was Ron.

She knew from the look of loathing in Ron's eyes that he was not asking Krum for an autograph; no, he had overcome that phase two years before. She got to her feet unsteadily as she watched Ron furiously say something to Krum, motioning in her direction and at times, waving his arms dramatically.

Hermoine couldn't hear them. They were much too far away. She quickly weaved through the couples, keeping a wary eye on Krum and Ron as they argued.

Finally, Krum had had enough and with three fingers, pushed Ron back. As he turned to leave with the Slytherin girl, Ron grabbed his arm and spun him back around. He drew back his arm and punched Krum in the face.

That was the exact moment that Hermoine reached them. Before Krum could lunge for Ron, she grabbed a fistful of the front of Ron's robes and pulled him away, giving Krum – who was already bleeding profusely from the nose – an apologetic look.

When she had dragged Ron a safe distance from Krum, she yanked her hand away in disgust.

"What was that?"she yelled over the now pounding bass of an upbeat song.

Ron glared in Krum's direction. "He's a worthless, stupid git, Hermoine - "

"And so that gave you the right to punch my date in the face?" Hermoine hissed.

Ron wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Don't call him that, Hermoine…"

The commotion had attracted the attention of many, although mercifully not the attention of any Hogwarts professors, except perhaps Hagrid, who had turned the other cheek while trying not to grin, although Hermoine couldn't be entirely sure about that.

Desperate tears welled up in her eyes. "How could you?" she whispered, feeling defeated.

"Hermoine -"

Hermoine held up her hand. "No! You always ruin everything, Ron!"

Traveling through the memory had fueled the rage all over again. Hiking up her black gown, Hermoine pulled her wand from the ridiculous black, frilly garter around her thigh. Ginny had convinced her to wear it to carry her wand, just in case.

Now, she flung her arm out and pointed her wand at the Whomping Willow. She shrieked a single spell, a word she had heard Snape use on it in their third year, and the tree went still. Replacing her wand to its hiding place, she walked a short distance and collapsed under the now tame Willow. Letting out a defeated sigh, she allowed a single tear of frustration to fall.

Ron Weasley always ruined everything. He had ruined the Yule Ball during their fourth year, too. She remembered she had told him that he had spoiled everything and how he had walked away from her with Harry. She noted dryly that this time it had been the opposite. This time, it had been worse and she had walked away from him.

Heromione couldn't get Ron's surprised expression out of her mind. What had he been expecting from her? Praise? He had almost looked…hurt.

She wasn't sure of how long she sat there. She knew the Whomping Willow would eventually become active again and that she should leave before she got some kind of silly injury. But she couldn't get herself to move, to face everyone.

That was when she heard someone clear their throat. Quickly looking to her right, Hermoine saw Harry leaning against the Willow.

"Has he sent you with a message?" Hermoine asked, trying to tone down the anger in her voice for Harry's sake.

"Not a message exactly," Harry said as he sat next to her.

Hermoine shook her head as she stared straight ahead at the lit up castle. "Why did he have to go that far? I thought, maybe after all these years, he would have grown out of being a prat."

Harry chuckled. "Would you believe me if I told you something about him?"

Hermoine turned and gave him her fullest attention.

"He did it for your own good."

Hermoine let out a single, disbelieving laugh. "That's a good one, Harry."

"I'm serious," Harry insisted. He paused for a moment, before all the humor left his voice and he looked up at the sky.

"It didn't bother you at all that Krum was dancing with someone else?" he asked her quietly.

Hermoine tried to push away the sadness. "Of course not."

Harry turned to her. "The first slow dance of the night, without asking how you'd feel about it, just disappearing…"

Hermoinse looked down at her lap. "He's not chained to me. He can do what he wants."

"Yes," Harry said. "But Hermoine, the proper thing would have been to spend that time with you."

Hermoine didn't know what to say. She didn't know where this was leading.

"Hermoine," Harry said slowly. "There was a reason Ron did what he did. He had heard something just before he approached Krum."

Hermoine wasn't sure she even wanted to hear it but she stayed silent, waiting for Harry to go on.

As if to offer her support before the full extent of the storm, Harry put his arms around Hermoine's stiff form. "At the drink table, Krum was telling some people about all the girls he was going to get that night. He was bragging about it, Hermoine."

She closed her eyes against the painful revelation. The evening was officially ruined and there was no redeeming it. As the tears came once more, she realized that Krum was never coming back with drinks. She would have sat there at the orange-clothed table all night, alone.

Ron had been defending her.

"I'm sorry, Hermoine," Harry said quietly.

Grateful for his presence and friendship, Hermoine hugged him back. "Don't be," she said with a desperate attempt at cheerfulness. "Thank you for telling me, Harry."

At that moment, they heard a sharp rustle and with one, quick movement, the Whomping Willow whacked them away. They landed ten feet from the tree, disoriented. Harry got up and helped Hermoine to her feet.

"I guess that means it's time to go back," Harry said with a grin. Hermoine smiled back and they made their way back to where they were supposed to be.

Ron was sitting miserably on the front steps when they returned. Although Hermoine now understood his actions, she was still not pleased that he had acted so impulsively. She walked up the steps past him. She had had enough of the night and had her heart set on going to bed.

She heard Harry clear his throat from behind her and Ron scrambled up the steps after her.

"Erm, Hermoine - "

Hermoine stopped at the door and faced him. "Yes, Ronald?"

The hesitation fled from Ron's eyes and fierce determination replaced it. "I'm not sorry for what I did."

Did he always have to be so insensitive? "I know you're not," Hermoine said flatly, before turning and opening the heavy wooden door. The soft notes of another slow dance drifted to her ears and she walked quicker, desperate to get away from it.

"Hermoine, wait," Ron said and Hermoine turned to face him once more.

"May I…" He swallowed hard. "May I have this dance?"

Hermoine stared at him, not amused. She watched as Harry gave her a reassuring smile and a thumbs-up sign, before disappearing into the Great Hall. She wanted nothing more than to run away from Ron, Viktor Krum, the ball in the Great Hall, and everything that had happened that night. But instead, she found herself nodding reluctantly and following Ron through the doors and to the middle of the Hall.

The floor was thick with dancing couples. Ron turned to Hermoine as she waited. He took her right hand in his and awkwardly put his left hand on her waist.

They moved stiffly. Hermoine kept a careful eye on the ground and at the many heavy shoes that could potentially step on her bare feet.

"Where are your shoes?" Ron asked in a bewildered tone.

Hermoine met his curious gaze. "I threw them into the lake," she said evenly.

"Bloody hell, Hermoine," he muttered.

A little bit worried, Hermoine's gaze continuously swept across the dancing students. She dreaded seeing Krum. She would never be able to face him.

"You're welcome to use mine," Ron told her.

Hermoine turned her attention back to Ron and raised an eyebrow. "Welcome to use your what?"

"My shoes!" Ron gently tugged her closer and she realized what he meant. Self-consciously, she stepped onto the tops of his shoes. He was right. She no longer feared for her toes. She started to relax a bit as Ron lead, her feet going where his did.

Hermoine noticed that he was being surprisingly gentle and kind, almost as if she were a porcelain figure who would shatter at even the slightest remark. As she realized the extent of her friendship with Harry and Ron that night, she felt lucky. She almost felt honored that Ron had come to her defense.

Looking back at him, she exhaled softly. "Ron, I'm sorry about what I said before. You didn't ruin everything."

Ron nodded. "I'm sorry for making a scene. I didn't mean to embarrass you, honestly I didn't. It's just…you deserve better."

Hermoine couldn't help but smile. "That was an excellent shot."

Ron grinned. "It was rather good, wasn't it?"

Hermoine finally relaxed as she danced with Ron. She continued to feel lucky. She had two best friends and had ended up in the arms of each that night. One had cared enough about her to confront and attack the enemy, and the other had cared enough to tell her the real reason behind it.

Everything would be all right.

She finally spotted Krum, sitting at a table by himself, holding a black handkerchief to his nose. When she met his eyes, he almost looked apologetic, but she simply looked at him one second longer with a blank expression, before turning back to Ron.

Yes, everything would be okay. And the next morning, she would throw that stupid frilly garter into the Forbidden Forest.

A/N: So this is the first time I've actually written down a Harry Potter fanfic idea and published it. It takes place in their 6th year and I know its unlikely that they would have a ball and that Durmstrang would reappear, but I needed the basis for a story so I went with that. I just wanted to do a tiny one-shot idea. So I hope it seemed realisitic! I had a good time writing it. I would love to know what people thought. :)