Summary:Now in fifth year, Harry, Hermione, and Ron play a deadly game of skill, cunning, and concentration to pass the time…Slap.
Rating:We'll go with PG, but I'm thinkin' it can pass for a G too.
Disclaimer:Here's Dobby with a song about not owning stuff! (Speaking of which, I don't own Respect or Aretha Franklin. No one owns Aretha Franklin. Or do they?)
Dobby:Baby I don't own it!
Dobby:The chars I use!
Dobby:Baby I don't own them!
Dobby:All I'm askin'!
Dobby:Is that nobody sues!
Winky:Please don't sue Silver…
Winky:Please don't sue Silver…
Dobby:D-O-N-T S-U-E! Please JK, do not sue me! D-O-N-T S-U-E! Take out the S and E!
Winky:It spells don't u, don't u, don't u, it spells don't u, don't u, don't u sue!
Dobby:Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…
Author's Notes:This was just a random, short little thing that popped into my head, and it is in no way linked to any of my other fics. It's supposed to be R/Hr. And slightly funny. So laugh, for the sheer joy of laughing. And don't worry; if you don't understand the concept of Slap, all shall be explained. ^_^
The state of the wizarding world was chaotic; the Ministry had been thrown into political turmoil, rumours and whispers of dark shadows could be heard amongst witches and wizards, and news of disappearances littered both Muggle and magical newspapers.
And there sat Ron Weasley, an annoying grin plastered on his freckled face, holding up a deck of cards.
"Ron," began Hermione Granger in a rather lofty tone, taking a moment to glance disapprovingly at her flaming-haired friend over the heavy book she was reading. "Honestly, can't you find something more…mature to do?"
Ron's grin abruptly disappeared, replaced by a rather irritated look. "Something more mature to do?" Ron replied scathingly, folding his arms. "What, like read a bloody book?" He stared pointedly at the hefty text in Hermione's hands.
"What did we have for homework?" Harry Potter interrupted loudly; not because he had forgotten their homework, but only for the sake of preserving the peace in the Gryffindor common room. His two best friends jumped, having forgotten ever so quickly that their friend was even in the same room as them. A ruffled Hermione sighed and reluctantly put down her book, The Darwin Theory (And Other Lies Muggles Have Been Fed), and started rifling through her perfectly organized date book, reciting their vast amount of homework to Harry out loud.
Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione watched Ron shuffle his pack of cards in a painstakingly slow manner, attempting to look bitter but instead only managing to look as if he was going to be violently sick. Across the nearly empty common room, Lavender and Parvarti halted in their giggly ascent of the stairs to stare at him queerly.
"What?" Ron barked rather loudly, disturbing the quiet tranquility of the common room. The two girls shrieked and dashed up the stairs, whispering loudly to each other. Ron sighed and leaned back in his squashy chair, yawning loudly. Though Hermione glanced at him disapprovingly, she couldn't help stifling a yawn of her own. It was past midnight; but this was nothing new to her or the two boys. Ever since last year, Harry seemed to have gotten into the habit of sleeping very little. As his two best friends, Hermione and Ron had dutifully been keeping him company as he blatantly disregarded every curfew rule Hogwarts had ever made by staying up all night in the common room.
"Thanks, Hermione," Harry said, smiling slightly as Hermione nodded and made a motion as if to pick up her book again. But instead she just sat back in her chair and sighed.
"What's a matter?" Ron asked, still shuffling his cards. "Gotten sick of it?"
"No, I've already read it three times anyways," Hermione sighed again.
"You two can go to bed if you want," Harry responded automatically. Ron and Hermione exchanged looks.
"I'm not tired," they both said in unison.
An awkward silence prevailed as the last of the other people in the common room walked wearily up to bed. The only sound to be heard was the swishing of paper cards against each other as Ron continued shuffling them.
"So…what do you guys want to do?" Harry tried. He yelped and Hermione shrieked as the cards Ron had been shuffling exploded quite suddenly in the red-head's face. Ron blinked, his eyebrows slightly singed.
"Cards?" he suggested again weakly, holding up the half-empty pack.
"Oh, fine," Hermione agreed reluctantly, folding her arms. "What d'you want to play? And don't say - "
"Slap!" Harry and Ron both exclaimed enthusiastically. Hermione groaned.
Slap was one of the few things that still put a smile on Harry Potter's troubled face. He'd picked up the Muggle game from Dudley, of all people, who was fascinated not with the game itself, but rather the prospect of crushing the bones in someone's hand with his own pudgy fist. It was a game of quick reflexes and intense concentration, and when Harry had introduced it to Ron and Hermione, the latter had immediately taken to it. Most likely because, as Ron had eloquently put it, Hermione 'sucked at it'. She hadn't minded at first - after all, apparently she also 'sucked' at wizard's chess, and that didn't really bother her - but then the two boys had added their own little twist to the game…
"Only if you promise not to make fun of me," Hermione stated stubbornly.
"Aw, but it's so easy…" Ron complained, grinning.
"It's not supposed to be part of the game!"
"Neither are exploding cards, but we use them anyway."
"Fine," Harry cut in. "We won't make fun of you, Hermione."
Ron looked sour. "Can we make fun of each other?"
Harry looked thoughtful. "Agreed," he grinned. Hermione moaned. Over time, the two of them had learned that for one to succeed in the delicate art of Slap, one must distract their opponent and break the intense concentration required for the game. It had begun simple and innocent - Ron would pretend to spot Cho Chang, Harry would randomly yell warnings that Fred and George were approaching with a Dungbomb - things like that. But then things had taken a turn for the worse; not missing a beat, the two of them would fire insults back and forth, hoping to break the other's focus. They'd taken a game that was supposed to be fun and innocent and had twisted it into something ugly and hurtful and cruel.
Harry and Ron loved it. In fact, they reveled in it.
Boys would be boys.
"Alright," Ron said excitedly, rubbing his hands together as Harry dragged a small table over for their playing purposes. Everyone pushed their chairs in around it. "What're the rules again?"
"Ron, we go over this every time," Hermione complained irritably.
Ron pretended to be taken aback. "I think someone's getting a little bit cranky - " he announced loudly.
"Oh, fine," Hermione snapped, then cleared her throat. "An equal quantity of cards is bestowed upon each player. The first player places a card face-down, then flips it. The following player does the same. This continues until two cards of the same number are placed down one after another."
"When this occurs," Harry continued automatically, "each player must slap the cards in order to win the deck. The first person to slap the cards receives the deck. Shuffle your cards and continue. The game is over when one player owns the entire deck of cards."
The two boys looked expectantly to Hermione, who sighed loudly. "Use your wits to break your opponents' concentration. Yell, distract, annoy, insult," she finished flatly.
"Excellent," Ron murmured, a grin playing at the corner of his lips. Hermione fought the urge to punch him. Sometimes he annoyed her for no reason whatsoever. It was rather annoying.
"Thus," Ron announced loudly in what he probably hoped was a deep, intimidating voice. It wasn't. "We begin." He smacked down a card then painstakingly turned it over, keeping his eyes level with his opponents'. After this extremely suspenseful wait, it was revealed that the card was -
Hermione rolled her eyes and threw a card down, then flipped it over. It was a three. By Harry and Rons' gasps, it sounded like their entire world had just crumbled down on top of them.
"So close!" Ron whispered, wide-eyed.
"But no cigar," Harry added sadly.
Ron stared. "What does a cigar have to do with anything?"
Hermione smacked her forehead.
"You're an idiot, Weasley," Harry said, casually flipping over his card to reveal none other than a King. Hermione groaned; it had already started. "Obviously it's a Muggle saying."
"Gee whiz, Potter. Maybe that's why I didn't get it," Ron retorted sarcastically, putting down and flipping over a six. "Wizards actually use sayings that make an inkling of sense."
"What, like, 'When the wand sparks pink, it's time to travel the countryside delivering babies?'" Hermione remarked, putting down a four. It was sad because it was true.
"Ah, Hermione. Have you decided to join us in our verbal sparring then?" Ron asked, waggling his eyebrows in a challenging manner.
"Wow, 'verbal sparring'?" Harry chuckled before Hermione could reply. He put down a Queen, keeping one eye on the growing pile of cards and the other on Ron. Hermione watched, fascinated, as Harry slowly began to go cross-eyed. "Big words."
Ron snorted as he put down a Queen. "You do realize that you look like a - "
All three of them realized it at the same time.
"Slap!" they yelled, simultaneously slapping the deck of cards. Hermione winced as Harry's hand slapped hers. The ring - his father's - which Sirius had sent to him over the summer cut into her flesh. As all three of them removed their hands, Ron glowering triumphantly, Hermione gingerly rubbed her skin. There was now a ring-shaped imprint by her knuckles.
"I hate this game," Hermione announced fervently as she threw down an ace.
"You only hate it because you're not good at it," Ron sneered as Harry put down and flipped over a four. "God forbid Hermione Granger's not good at something." His eyes were on Hermione as he put down a seven.
Hermione slowly pushed her chair back and coldly tossed down a Jack, which promptly exploded. The seven beneath it now lay on the top of the pile, charred. "Fine," Hermione said shortly. "I'll just go - "
"Ignore him, Hermione," Harry called, putting down a nine. Hermione reluctantly obeyed, pushing her chair back in. "That's right, Weasley. Pick on the girl," the Boy Who Lived said, rolling his eyes. His tone was appropriately disgusted-sounding, though it could have been more effective if he'd thrown in a bit of contempt to top it off.
"You know you like it, Hermione," Ron said in a sing-song voice, deftly tossing down and flipping over an ace.
Hermione had long ago mastered the talent of glaring murderously at people, and used this now to her advantage. Purposefully avoiding her malicious glare, Ron murmured something incoherent, his ears pink, and left Hermione out of the argument for awhile.
"That shade of pink suits you nicely," Harry smirked, putting down an eight.
"That tone of idiot suits you nicely."
Quite abruptly both boys slammed their hands down on the pile. Hermione had followed up Ron's two with one of her own, and hadn't even noticed it. Quite lamely, she placed her hand on top of Ron's, much too late. As all three of them retracted their hands, Harry dragged away the pile of cards, smiling victoriously.
"Ha," Harry said triumphantly, putting down a three.
"Oh, how articulate," Ron retorted, flinging down and flipping over a seven. Hermione wordlessly contributed a six.
"You can't even pronounce articulate," Harry snickered.
"This coming from the boy who said 'Wangoballwime' to Cho Chang?"
"Must you always bring up Cho Chang? Can't you think of anything better to insult me with?"
Amazingly, Hermione had somehow managed to slap the pile first, followed closely by Ron. Harry swore under his breath and withdrew his hand, looking sour.
Hermione shivered slightly at the feel of Ron's warm hand over top of her cool one. It seemed that his hand lingered there a moment too long before he swiftly drew it away. Convinced she'd imagined it, Hermione slowly collected her small winnings, shuffling the cards into her own deck. She looked somewhat happier now that she'd actually won a round.
"At least I can think of somewhat creative insults," Harry continued, not missing a beat and tossing down a four as he steadily held Ron's gaze.
"At least I don't forget to brush my teeth in the morning sometimes," Ron shot back, flipping over his card to reveal a six. Hermione attempted to stifle a giggle as Harry went red. She put down a King.
"At least I remember to brush my hair occasionally." Harry put down a two.
"Doesn't look like it." Ron put down a four. Shaking her head, Hermione supplied an eight.
"At least my pajamas reach my ankles."
"At least I own pajamas."
"What?! I own pajamas!"
"Oh, do you?"
"Now you're just making stuff up."
"Oh, am I?"
"You used that already."
"I'm out of cards," Hermione announced happily. Neither of her friends took notice, continuing to fire insults as quickly as they dished out cards.
"In first year, Harry used to slick back his hair in the bathroom when he thought no one was looking to try to look as intimidating as Malfoy," Ron revealed, slamming down an ace.
Hermione couldn't help it; she giggled. Ron caught it and slowly grinned, that tiny giggle egging him on even further. But Harry was by no means backing down. He hurled down a Queen.
"Ron owns a pair of girls' socks," he said viciously, "the kind with little hearts and pom-poms on them - "
"Harry told me he once tried to cut his own hair and ended up with a bald spot and his Aunt spray-painted the bald spot black so that the neighbours wouldn't know," Ron said, his voice getting slightly louder as he chucked down a seven. Hermione clamped a hand over her mouth to keep from giggling hysterically.
"Ron used to have a crush on Professor Sinistra!" Harry hollered, slamming down a four.
"Harry wet the bed in first year!" Ron shouted, hurling down a Jack.
"Ron picks his nose!" Harry furiously threw down an ace.
"Harry likes the smell of Polyjuice Potion!" Ron angrily chucked down a three.
"Ron thinks Parvarti's hot!"
"Harry said Lavender isn't half bad either!"
"Ron used to sleep with a teddy bear!"
"Harry still does!" Ron shouted, throwing down a six. Hermione burst into laughter again, leaning back in her chair and teetering dangerously on it.
"Ron used to wear pink underwear!"
"Harry still does!" Ron repeated loudly. Hermione shrieked as she fell backwards out of her chair.
Harry was extremely red in the face now, either from bellowing or from embarrassment. "Ron found one of Fleur Delacour's hairs last year in the Great Hall and he kept it!"
"Harry stole one of Cho Chang's quills and he sleeps with it under his pillow!" Ron hollered. Hermione found this extremely funny and snorted, erupting into tiny giggles once more.
For some reason, the quill comment seemed to strike a nerve for Harry. Perhaps it was the fact that he was nearly out of cards. Perhaps Ron had mentioned Cho Chang one time too many. But for whatever reason, he snapped. "Ron talks in his sleep - !" Harry bellowed.
"Harry - "
" - about Hermione!"
Hermione's laughter died away. Harry froze. Ron went extremely rigid and stared at Harry with an expression of mixed horror and disbelief. Hermione slowly got up from the ground, looking from a horrified-looking Harry to an extremely crimson Ron.
Harry's mouth opened and closed several times, making him look startlingly like a fish. A bespectacled fish with a lightning-shaped scar and untidy black hair.
"I…" Harry finally managed to choke out. "I…have…to go now," he said hastily. Slowly, the Boy Who Lived backed out of the common room, then dashed up the stairs to avoid Ron's wrath.
Hermione and Ron sat opposite each other. Ron was staring into space, heat practically radiating off his face. Hermione stared at him. This wasn't Ron; Ron would laugh something as absurd as that had been off and continue with the game. Unless it was true.
This startling prospect hit Hermione like lightning. She suddenly felt very uncomfortable. The silence was deafening. She could have sworn she heard crickets chirping in the background. Someone had to say something. Soon.
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
"So…" Hermione said loudly. "You're making fun of me in your sleep now too, huh?" she asked with a hint of sarcasm, forcing a laugh.
Ron stared at the floor. "No," he muttered.
Chirp. Chirp. …Chirp.
Why wasn't he looking at her? And why was he so red? And why had he been so angry that she'd gone to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum? And why was he so jealous when she went to Bulgaria that summer? And if the Hogwarts Express was leaving Platform 9 3/4 at 75 km/h, and another train is travelling along the same track in the opposite direction at -
"Oh," Hermione suddenly said under her breath, wide-eyed.
Realization had suddenly just smacked her upside the head. She stared at Ron. He stared at the ground. The ground stared back at Ron. Ron squirmed uncomfortably. The crickets chirped.
"Ron, do you like me?" Hermione blurted out. She mentally slapped herself and made a mental note to work on her sense of subtly.
Ron stared at her in what seemed like disbelief for a second, then sighed loudly. He crossed the room and sat next to Hermione on the sofa, attempting to speak but only succeeding in mouthing wordlessly before hanging his head. "I…don't…know," he admitted miserably.
"Oh," Hermione said, fiddling with a loose string on her robes. Silence reigned once more. "Well…" she finally said briskly. "This is awkward…"
"You're telling me," Ron replied gloomily. He glanced up at Hermione, almost hopefully. "Uh…you don't…by any chance…?"
Hermione looked thoughtful. "I don't know," she answered mindfully. Yes, it was true; at times she had thought Ron almost…cute. But she had simply blamed these strange thoughts on the influx of hormones coursing through her teenage veins which she could not control. She also thought that Ernie MacMillan had nice eyes. It sickened her.
"Wouldn't that be kind of…weird?" Hermione asked. "I mean, if we did?"
"Isn't it kind of weird that we're discussing this?"
"I thought as much." Ron looked pensive, resting his chin on his hand. Unconsciously, Hermione did the same. Both of them stared at the fire, then glanced over at each other.
"What would you do if I kissed you?" Ron asked abruptly.
"What?!" Hermione exclaimed.
"Well, if we don't…like…each other," Ron said this with much difficulty, "we'll kiss and it'll suck. Then we won't have to worry about it ever again. End of story."
Hermione looked horrified. "You're not kissing me."
"Why not? There's no harm in it."
"Because if you do, I'll slap you and never speak to you again," Hermione warned dangerously.
Ron blinked, then suddenly grabbed Hermione rather roughly, and kissed her. And the pathetic part was, Hermione kissed back. But only for a little.
She hastily broke away from Ron, who's eyes were still closed and lips still pouted. She felt a slow, sinking feeling as something occurred to her. Perhaps her feelings of annoyance with Ron were just misdirected feelings of something else. But they were best friends…She looked up at Ron, feeling an odd sensation in her stomach which reminded her of the unpleasant feeling that accompanied eating too much candy. Not a very romantic comparison, but facts were facts. She decided the feeling was of nervousness and excitement all rolled into one. Nervitement?
"…That…didn't…suck, did it?" Hermione asked miserably.
"Nope." Ron stared downwards, blushing to the roots of his hair.
"So what do we do now?" Hermione sighed hopelessly. "It would be way too complex; I mean, our friendship would become wildly distorted and we'd fight all the time in a struggle to define our relationship, which would only add to the bickering we do already, and - "
"Hermione," Ron interrupted bravely. "You talk too much."
She didn't protest when he kissed her again.
Harry Potter did a triumphant little dance, which involved much flailing of the arms. He could defeat dark wizards with ease, but alas - dancing had never been his forte. Even dancing of a triumphant nature.
His elaborate plan to get Hermione and Ron together, thus eliminating any squabbling, arguing, and hostilities between the two due to pent-up emotions, had worked. He knew Slap was the key all along. Now he could devote his time to Quidditch instead of listening to Ron's heart-broken tales of woe, or being the mediator in him and Hermione's little rows. Life was good.
Harry grinned as they kissed again. Poor Ron; he didn't actually talk in his sleep. Not even about Hermione. In fact, half of the things Harry had shouted out during Slap hadn't been true.
Excluding the part about the pink underwear.
Unfortunately, that was as true as it got.