Author's Note: Written prior to HBP, I still wanted to post it, because I like it. lol All characters belong to JKR.
Ron Weasley was having a very bad day. A very bad day indeed.
First off, he'd overslept. Harry hadn't deemed it important enough to wake him up for breakfast, and so he had slept right through that and had only jerked himself awake by sheer dumb luck some ten minutes before the first class bell rang. He'd come puffing into Potions, his clothes from the day before still on him and his stomach rumbling from hunger. He'd glared at Harry in reproach, but his friend had merely shrugged at him and gone back to doodling something on his parchment. Ron didn't even want to know if it was what he thought it was. He'd noticed Harry's doodlings the week before, and while he reckoned he couldn't very well object to them, he didn't have to like them. He could even pretend not to understand what they meant.
Then Snape had accused him of chopping his pomegranate seeds too fine; something which Ron had then had the gall to question the Potions Master about, much to everyone's dismay.
"Sorry, sir, but what's the point then? Aren't we just going to pound them into dust later?"
Snape sneered at him for a moment and then narrowed his eyes.
"The point, Mr. Weasley, is that what I say goes in this class, and if I think you are chopping your seeds too fine then you are chopping your seeds too fine. Ten points from Gryffindor for your cheek."
Ron had stared at Snape and then went back to his seeds, a reply burning a hole into his tongue. Hermione had kicked him, hard, under the table, and it had helped knock some sense into him. Unfortunately, it was also going to make him walk with a limp the rest of the day.
As they settled into their respective lunch seats, the one next to Harry was conspicuously empty, his friend's hand hovering near it if anyone even thought of sitting down. Ron put a spoon full of potatoes into his mouth and glared at Hermione.
"Did chew haf tokeekme so hrshd?" he asked her, rubbing at his ankle.
Hermione merely looked at him and blinked.
He rolled his eyes and then swallowed. He asked her again.
Hermione shook her head, her hair falling around her in a soft brown haze.
"Well, you were about to get yourself into further trouble there, weren't you? What came over you, anyway? I've never heard you openly antagonize Professor Snape like that in class before."
Ron shrugged because he didn't know. He frowned as the person Harry had been saving the seat for sat down. She smiled widely at everyone, and Ron watched as Harry stared unabashedly back at her, a strange expression on his face.
I've created a monster. I wanted them to go out, and now they almost are, and I can't stand the sight of them, Ron thought miserably to himself.
Hermione, who always could read his thoughts better than Harry, patted his arm. Ron felt himself pull away at the contact and then immediately regretted it. Hermione gave him a puzzled look and then shook her head. She sighed and then went back to the book she'd brought along. Ron felt unhappy inside. Hermione was doing that more and more lately - she no longer wanted to fight, it seemed. It was driving Ron crazy. He could use a good row....
He turned his attention back to the lovebirds in front of him.
"Would you two get on with it?"
Harry and Ginny pulled their eyes away from each other and looked at him, startled.
"Yeah, you heard me. Harry, ask her out already, before she comes to be known as a scarlet woman. And Ginny, don't let him get too far with you, if you know what I mean. I'll be keeping an eye on the both of you."
Ginny opened her mouth to yell at him, but Harry beat him to it.
"Don't talk about Ginny like that."
"She's my sister, Harry. What is she to you?"
Harry turned pink in the face, and Ron smiled unkindly back at him.
"Yeah, you can't even say it. Brilliant. Let me know when you two figure it out. I'm out of here."
Ron stood up quickly, grabbing his bag and heading towards the front doors.
He heard Harry call his name, but ignored it. Unsurprisingly, Harry did not come after him, nor did Hermione. Ron reckoned that Harry didn't want to miss any time with Ginny, and Hermione...well, she probably knew he was itching to yell at someone and didn't want to be abused.
It made Ron sad to think that he was now looking back on his arguments with Hermione with great fondness. Now it was as though the two of them barely had two sentences to say to each other. He didn't understand how Harry's feelings for Ginny finally being realised had turned everything around, but it had. Harry was moving forward, while he, Ron Weasley, was still stuck somewhere. And Hermione? He didn't know what was going on inside that mind of hers.
Girls. Who needs them?
As Ron started to do his Potions homework, he realised that he did. Hermione was brilliant at this sort of stuff, and now she probably wouldn't even be speaking to him. He couldn't win.
Ron was so deep in thought that he didn't hear the first bell ring and only noticed after awhile that he was alone outside. Cursing, he stood up and started towards the North Tower. Great, now I'm late for Divination. Perfect.
Well, he thought with a harsh grin, maybe old Trelawney predicted my lateness, and now she's waited for me.
Limping, Ron made his way to class, just wishing for the day to be over.
"I don't care, Hermione. He's being a prat."
Harry was stubbornly shaking his head at his friend. All year long, Ron had made it perfectly clear he was okay with Ginny and him going out, and now...right when they were right there, ready to take the next step, Ron had to embarrass him and be a prat.
"He's just being Ron. I don't know why you're surprised."
Harry stopped and looked at his friend closely. Hermione seemed almost bored by the conversation. She acted like she didn't care about Ron one way or the other.
"Are you okay, Hermione?"
She seemed startled by the question at first, but then Harry watched as her face assumed its patient facade again.
"Yes, Harry. You'd better get going; it's almost time for the second bell to ring."
"You know you can talk to me if you want to...."
"Yes, well, I'll be certain to check for that five minute time period you have between classes and sitting with Ginny on the sofa in the common room."
Harry's eyes widened, and he was about to grab a hold of her when she disappeared into a throng of fourth years that was making its way toward the Charms classroom. Shaking his head, Harry made his way towards Divination.
Why was it that everyone he cared about seemed to be unhappy about Ginny and him finally getting together?
The class groaned to themselves as Trelawney gave them their homework assignment for the week, and Ron groaned loudest of them all. Something that caused the Divination teacher to give him a baleful stare.
"I suspect your aura is too clouded for you to see, dear, but this star-mapping assignment will prove most illuminating for you especially."
Why me, especially? And what's so illuminating about mapping out our stars in the dead of night? The reply hovered on his tongue, itching to come out in a clever way, but Ron had had enough abuse, and for the first time in a long time, he paid attention to the little voice in his head that told him to keep quiet. He saw Harry raise his eyebrow and smirk at him as they got up to leave the class.
"Shouldn't you be running off to find my sister, Harry? Doesn't she get a snog at this hour or is it 'cuddle in the broom cupboard' on Mondays?" Ron snapped at his friend and pushed angrily past him, not quite understanding what his own problem was.
"Ron!" Harry's voice was loud, and it caused a few of the other students still in the room to pause and gape at them. Ron stopped despite his better judgment and turned around to face his friend.
"What?" he said calmly, hoping he was giving off an icy stare. He'd certainly seen Hermione use it enough lately.
Harry stared at him a moment, and then looked at the other students as they suddenly decided they all had places to be. Harry set his bag down on the floor and sat back down at one of the tables. He nodded at Ron to join him.
After a long moment, and a much laboured sigh, Ron did join him. Harry gave him a guarded look.
"Do you not want Ginny and me to be together now, Ron...is that it? Is that why you've been in a bad mood for the last two weeks?"
"I haven't been in a bad mood for the last two weeks," Ron said tersely, avoiding the subject. Harry noticed.
"I thought you wanted Ginny and me to...see each other?"
Ron sighed. "I do, mate, I do. I just...I don't know. It feels like everything is changing for you two and...I don't know." Ron almost added that it felt as though he and Hermione were actually regressing in their relationship, but didn't. He didn't even think he and Hermione had a relationship to begin with.
"Do you think I'll not be your best mate anymore, then, is that it?"
Ron looked at Harry, startled. "Um...no. I mean, you will be, right?"
Harry smirked. "Of course. But...maybe this is what Hermione's problem is then," he said, his smile fading to a frown. "She practically bit my head off earlier and made a comment just like you did."
"What'd she say?" Ron asked, suddenly curious. He had assumed Hermione was okay with Harry and Ginny going out, but maybe she wasn't. Maybe that was what was bothering her.
Harry's face turned a bit pink, and he looked away. "Er, just something about how I don't have any time for her anymore because I'm with Ginny."
"Oh," Ron said.
The two boys sat there for awhile not saying anything, and Ron sighed, feeling miserable, although again, he wasn't sure why.
"Maybe you should talk to her," Harry finally said, breaking the silence. Ron cast him an annoyed look.
"As if Hermione talks to me anymore," Ron said, rolling his eyes.
"Well, maybe you should...." Harry paused and looked down at his feet. When he looked back up again, he had a nervous glint in his eyes. "Now, don't get angry at me Ron, and please...don't...well, jump down my throat...but...why don't you just tell her how you feel about her. It really works. Trust me."
Ron narrowed his eyes at Harry. "And how exactly do I feel about her, then?"
Harry shrugged and didn't meet his eyes. "Er, well, that's between you and Hermione, true, but...."
"Damn right it is," Ron said, suddenly feeling angry. He really was having a very emotional day. "Look, Harry, I'm glad you and Ginny have er...become experts in the romance department and everything, but leave the rest of us alone, okay? Hermione's my...she's...well, she's just her. My friend. Besides, she has Krum, remember? Didn't you notice that novel of a letter she was writing the other night?"
Harry sighed. "Ron...oh, never mind then. Fine, you and Hermione are just friends, and you're not cross at me for liking your sister. Good. We're all settled. Can we stop you biting my head off now? At least for a little while until I do something to really deserve it?"
Harry didn't wait for an answer and picked up his bag, heading out of the room. Ron watched him walk away and frowned.
What the bloody hell is wrong with everyone?
Despite his protests to the contrary, Ron couldn't help but think about what Harry had said to him. He spent most of the night not revising, but watching Hermione. Something, he admitted rather reluctantly to himself, he did all the time anyway. Harry and Ginny had left after dinner and were nowhere to be found. Ron had a sneaky feeling they were holed up somewhere doing goodness knew what. Or maybe they were just tired of being given dirty looks by him and Hermione, because now that Harry had mentioned it, Hermione did seem a bit cross with the pair of them.
Why would she be cross with them? She wants him to be happy, certainly, Ron wondered to himself. Maybe she's jealous.
The thought entered his brain and wouldn't leave. It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps his assumption about Hermione's sisterly feelings about Harry were anything but. Maybe the reason nothing had happened between Ron and Hermione was because Hermione actually fancied Harry and not him. It was this last thought that made him angry, dazed, alarmed and finally, worried. He could handle Hermione's feelings for Krum - he was half a world away and too old for her (and too ugly to boot, the git). But Harry? Ron couldn't compete with him, even if he wanted to. And he honestly didn't. He loved Harry, but Harry needed to be with Ginny, not his Hermione.
Oh, god, I just called her my Hermione, he thought to himself, feeling his heart beat faster.
Ron sank down lower in his chair, his Potions book falling to the side. He decided to try talking to her and scooted over on the sofa.
"I'm not helping you, Ron," she said before he could open his mouth. He frowned.
"I wasn't going to ask you for help," he said, already hearing the defensive tone in his voice.
"Then what do you want?" Hermione asked, glancing at him.
"Well, sorry to interrupt you, but...um...." Ron paused, suddenly forgetting what he was going to say as he stared into her lovely brown eyes. He'd never noticed before how warm it was in the common room at night.
"What?" Hermione asked again, rather snappishly. She was starting to frown at him.
"Is there something bothering you, Hermione?" Ron asked, before thinking about it. "I mean, is there something bothering you about...Harry?"
She looked startled for a moment and glanced away from him. "No, why would there be anything about Harry that was bothering me?"
"I don't know...maybe...well, you're not happy he's going out with Ginny, are you?"
Hermione turned back to face him, her eyes wide. "What makes you say that?"
Ron shrugged. "He mentioned you snapped at him, and you do seem a bit -"
"Oh, lovely. The two of you are talking about me behind my back, is that it?" Hermione suddenly said, her voice going up an octave. Ron sat away from her as she stood up and glared down at him.
"Look, I'm perfectly fine with the way things are around here, so please, tell Harry he needn't worry about boring old Hermione Granger!"
She gathered up her books and turned, heading towards the girls dormitory. Ron called after her, but she ignored him, and he only saw her retreating back as it proceeded up the stairs.
"Well, that went well," Ron muttered to himself. Feeling more confused than ever, Ron turned back to his revising, but he wasn't really seeing what was in front of him.
Hermione had reacted very strangely indeed when he'd brought up the subject, and it only confirmed Ron's suspicions about her feelings. Great, now what do I do? he wondered to himself, his eyes falling on the page in front of him. His eyes focused on one of the spells, and he blinked at it, to make certain he was seeing it correctly.
He smiled then and felt suddenly relieved. It was the answer to everything! Grabbing a quill and pulling out a new piece of parchment, Ron quickly wrote down the ingredients he would need.
I'm just doing this to help her get over Harry, Ron said to himself. He didn't want Hermione to pine away for Harry, and he didn't want Harry to mess things up with Ginny, so really, what he was doing was just for the good of the group.
When he'd finally written everything down, he smiled to himself and then packed up his stuff. As he finished, the portrait entrance opened, spilling Harry and Ginny into the room, both their faces bright pink. Ginny looked particularly mussed. Ron tried to hide his frown, but she noticed it anyway.
"Oh, shut it, Ron. We were just flying. Get your mind out of the dirty cupboard."
They sat down across from him, holding hands, he noted. "Yes, well, did you two finally sort each other out then like I told you?"
Harry and Ginny smiled at each other, and Ron bit his tongue to keep himself from rolling his eyes. Ginny nodded.
"Yes, that we did, big brother," she smiled widely and then narrowed her eyes at him. "So you will please stop being cross with us? Harry's made an honest woman out of me, after all. Just like you told him to."
"Brilliant," Ron said, hoping he sounded enthused. He could have spoken in Gobbledegook for all they'd noticed, though. He said goodnight and left them whispering to each other.
He patted his pocket and reminded himself of his plan.
This time next week, hopefully, that'll be me and Hermione being disgusting. And no one will be the wiser that I had to brew a potion to get her to like me instead of Harry.
Harry, under strict orders from Ginny to 'sort out what Hermione's problem was', went looking for his female best mate a few days after she'd snapped at him. He actually felt bad enough to agree with Ginny that it (almost) wasn't right for them to be happy if Hermione or Ron had issues with them getting together, and he was already smitten with her enough to risk bodily harm from his bushy-haired friend, as he was certain she'd chuck him through a window if she could. The looks he'd been getting from Hermione lately were almost cantankerous enough to beat Filch, and that was saying something.
He found her in the library, of course, and he paused, not wanting to disturb her and yet not wanting to go back to Ginny empty-handed. Sighing, and wishing there was a spell someone could cast to help him understand girls, he finally opted to disturb her, because the plans he had later with Ginny definitely didn't involve having a row.
"Hey, Hermione, mind if I join you?" he asked as he approached her chair. She startled and looked up at him. She gave him a thin smile and nodded her head.
Harry felt relieved she hadn't told him to get lost and took that as a good sign.
After Hermione went back to reading, he frowned as he pulled out one of his books, not sure how he should continue. He flipped open to the first page, pretending to read, when Hermione sighed and closed her book.
"Actually, I think I'll head back to the -"
"Hermione, I wanted to talk to you," Harry said, closing his own book.
Hermione blinked at him and frowned.
"I'm really busy, Harry, now if you'll -"
"Hermione! Please!" Harry said, raising his voice. A few people turned and looked at them, and Hermione narrowed her eyes.
"Honestly, Harry. No need to shout. Fine, what do you want to talk about?"
Harry sighed. All he'd done was ask her to talk, and already she sounded cross.
Well, this is going to be fun, maybe I can tell Ginny I couldn't find her, he mused to himself.
"Harry?" Hermione asked, her eyebrow arched.
"Oh, sorry, thinking of something else." Harry looked around and then lowered his voice. "Look, can I...will you be honest with me about something?"
Hermione didn't say anything at first and merely looked at him. She finally nodded and then scooted closer to the table so they could talk quietly.
Harry took a deep breath. "I know I haven't been around, or talking with you quite as much, and I'm sorry, and Ginny's sorry too, and well, she wanted me to see if you were...perhaps angry with us. She would have approached you herself, but...well, she reckoned you'd appreciate me doing it. And um...I was just wondering if there was anything that I could do to er...make you not quite so out of sorts with us anymore."
Hermione sighed and sat back from the table, shaking her head. "I'm not cross with you," she said after a long while.
Harry frowned. "Well, I'm sorry, Hermione, but to hell you're not. You shoot daggers at me and Ginny any chance you get, and you hardly say two words to us, and when we're in the common room you get up and practically stomp away in a huff, so what are we supposed to think? That everything's brilliant? It's really hurting Ginny's feelings, actually, and mine too," Harry added, softening his voice. Hermione blinked at him as though she were about to cry, and he hurriedly kept talking. "Look, I mean, I know, it might take some getting used to, you know, it not being just the three of us anymore, but er...I really er...well, that is to say, me and Ginny, we're not um...we're not going to stop being around each other just because you and Ron have issues with us. I mean, you two are my best mates, but I'm not going to say goodbye to one of the few things that makes me really happy just because you don't want to share me, I'm sorry."
Harry realised he sounded more bad-tempered than he'd meant, and also knew he'd said too much, by the embarrassed pink tint of Hermione's skin. He knew she was going to either jump up and tell him off or just refuse to talk to him anymore. He was surprised when she reached out and took hold of his hand.
"Oh, Harry, I'm so, so sorry. I've been behaving terribly. I should have never...I shouldn't have let my personal feelings get in the way of being happy for you two. I'm a horrible friend." She squeezed his hand tightly.
"Then what is going on?" Harry asked, almost desperate to have her explain herself to him.
Hermione shook her head and let go of his hand. "I...don't think you'd understand, really."
"Hermione," Harry said, exasperated. "Come on, we've been through everything together. What can't you tell me?"
Hermione shrugged. "It has to do with my feelings for...well, honestly, it's just something silly."
They heard a few books fall behind them somewhere and both turned their heads. They heard Madam Pince yelling at someone and then it was quiet again. Harry shook his head and studied his friend.
"Is it something to do with me and Ginny getting together?" he finally asked.
Hermione reluctantly nodded her head. "I'm afraid so. And I'm a horrible, horrible friend. Especially to Ginny."
Harry frowned, not understanding what she was going on about. Hermione sighed and gave him a sad look.
"Fine, I'll tell you. But you have to promise not to tell anyone else, Harry."
"Not even Ginny."
"Harry, promise me; not even Ginny."
"Sorry, but no, I'll have to tell her something. I can't just say, 'oh, had a talk with Hermione, know what the problem is, now let's snog', you know. She's a Weasley, Hermione. She'll promise to hurt me until I tell her," Harry said stubbornly.
Hermione sighed. "Fine. She probably knows anyway."
"Well, then tell me," Harry said, annoyed.
"I'm jealous." Hermione looked at him nervously for a moment and then looked away, her cheeks turning pink.
"Um, Hermione...." Harry started but then couldn't finish, his head spinning. "But I thought you fancied Ron?" he blurted out, before he could think.
Hermione gave him a funny look. "I do. So?"
Harry looked at her, feeling perplexed. "Then...how...I mean, why...are you jealous of Ginny?"
Understanding dawned in her eyes, and she shook her head, horrified. "Oh, I'm not...you mean, you thought I meant I was jealous because I wanted to be with you?"
Harry nodded his head dumbly.
Hermione blushed again, shaking her head. "No, no...no...I mean, I'm jealous because you two are happy. And I guess I always assumed that Ron and I...well...I thought we'd work out our differences before now and be together, like you and Ginny are. But we're not. I don't think he's ever going to notice I'm a girl, Harry. And I...I just started feeling sorry for myself, really. And every time I saw you with Ginny, I...let it bother me, and then I started feeling like the worst friend in the world. I want to be happy for you two, but...." She let her voice trail off, shrugging hopelessly. She gave him a sad smile.
"I wouldn't blame you if you and Ginny never talked to me again, but...oh! I know this is silly. I don't know why I'm letting it bother me!"
"Hermione," Harry said, taking a deep breath, relieved to hear her explanation. The idea of Hermione fancying him had scared him right down to his toes, and he was glad he didn't have to deal with that. "Why don't you just tell Ron how you feel? You're always going on about how blokes should tell girls all these things, but...have you ever thought of just doing that yourself?"
Hermione shook her head. "No. It...it has to come from him, Harry. I've tried talking to him in the past, and he just...he just gets it all wrong in that Ron way he has. It's hopeless. He just doesn't care about me."
"You're wrong, you know," Harry said, determined. "I'd wager he doesn't even know how much he cares. He's just...pig-headed. And he probably thinks you hate him or that you don't care either. You two are...you're impossible is what you are. Believe me; I've had to live with it for the last seven years."
Hermione shook her head. "Well, that could be the case for him, but...no, I've already decided that if he can't bring himself to tell me that he cares, then...well, it's just not going to happen."
Harry sighed and sat back in his chair. He honestly didn't know what he was going to do with his two best friends. They were both mad and mad for each other. How could he make them understand?
Ron tried to chop the rose petals very carefully, but his mind was on other things. He'd come across Harry and Hermione in the library and had heard her practically pour out her heart to their friend about her feelings. He felt faint inside, as though he'd been knocked off his broom during a Quidditch match and then hit with a Bludger. He wondered what Harry's reaction to Hermione's declaration had been; he couldn't believe she'd even had the...nerve to tell Harry, and for a moment felt a swell of pride go through him.
That Hermione, she never backs down from anything; she's brilliant, that's what she is.
He wished old Pince hadn't kicked him out of the library for knocking over those dodgy books of hers. He also wished he could have stayed and made sure Harry set her right about his feelings for Ginny and let Hermione down gently enough, the way she deserved.
His hand slipped and he almost ended up adding a finger into his potion; he cursed and pulled his hand away, sucking on it gently, the taste of blood making him realise he needed to get on with it already. He needed to make certain the rose petals went in before the Dragon scales or otherwise his love potion wouldn't attract a fly to him, let alone Hermione. Ron double-checked the formula he was working on and went back to focusing on his petals.
Just a few more, and I'm done, and then this needs to brew for one night and then I chuck in a piece of my hair and just make sure she drinks it. Ha! If only she could see me now - she'd be impressed with my potion-making skills, I just know it.
Feeling more than pleased with himself, Ron didn't pay any attention to the small print underneath the particular potion he had chosen, not realising he had already made his first mistake.
The potion, when completed, will be clear and may be added to common water - it is tasteless and works almost immediately.
Ron frowned at his vial. It wasn't exactly clear. It was more...dingy, really. Looking for all the world as if someone had forgotten to clean the glass. He felt nervous suddenly - what if he hadn't brewed the potion right? What if it ended up making Hermione fall in love with someone like Malfoy or worse...Professor Binns or someone like that?
Snap out of it, you idiot, you did everything right. Besides, Binns is a bloody ghost. She couldn't fall for him.
Ron made his way out of the common room, still not certain he should go forward with his plan. But when he entered the Great Hall and saw Hermione and Harry laughing about something, any worries about his less than perfect potion drifted away. He felt something old and familiar twist through him and had to check himself before making his way to the table. He was not jealous of Harry. Not anymore. They'd been through too much since then.
His friends looked up, both surprised as he sat down. Harry smiled at him and Ron nodded, trying to keep his feelings in check. Hermione said 'good morning' and went back to the book she'd propped up in front of her, as always. Ron suddenly wondered how he was going to actually get the potion in her pumpkin juice without her or Harry noticing.
"Er, Harry, I think Ginny needed you...she's er, carrying some heavy books with her," he said in what he hoped was a casual voice.
Harry frowned at Ron. "Well, why didn't you help her then? You just left her in the common room waiting?" He started to get up but then sat back down as Ginny appeared in the doorway, waving at them, obviously very book free. Ron felt his face heat, but shrugged, and didn't meet Harry's eyes, suddenly fascinated with the food on his plate. When he finally felt okay to look up again, Harry was talking to Ginny, who had sat down across from Hermione, oblivious to the world once more.
Bloody hell, she's a bad influence on him; a herd of hippogriffs could come storming through, and he'd never know.
Realising this was his chance, he sneaked a peek at Hermione and edged his hand closer to her goblet, while casually reaching into his robes for the small vial of potion.
Ron paused, making certain no one was watching him. He quickly popped the small lid on the vial open and then leaned forward, pouring it quickly into the goblet in front of Hermione's plate. He sat back as though he'd done nothing, feeling a surge of confidence. I've done it! And no one even noticed! I'm brilliant!
He slipped the empty vial back into his robe and looked at everyone again, feeling a smug smile on his face. He turned back to his plate, suddenly very hungry. Now, all Hermione had to do was drink it, and she'd be madly in love with him before breakfast was through. Ron suddenly felt as though he wanted to hug the world just for existing. He tuned in to Harry and Ginny's conversation, suddenly feeling very kind towards the other couple.
"Anyway, then I told Sloper he just needed to not try so hard, you know, perhaps not to sleep with the Quaffle quite so often? I mean, honestly, he should really give the rest of us a chance to get up close and personal with the equipment," Ginny said, chuckling. Ron smirked and looked up, and felt all the blood go cold in his body. Ginny had mistakenly picked up Hermione's goblet.
"Ginny, no!" Ron suddenly exclaimed, jumping up to knock the pumpkin juice from her hand. But it was too late; she'd already brought the goblet to her mouth and taken a drink.
"Explain to me again, Mr Weasley, exactly why you felt compelled to brew a love potion for your sister?"
Professor McGonagall gave him a terse stare, and Ron felt his ears burning. They were standing outside the hospital wing where Madam Pomfrey was working on Ginny. It seemed that not only were love potions not supposed to be used on family members, but that he had also mussed up the formula somehow and the potion had had rather...adverse affects. Ginny had turned a very unnatural shade of green, among other things.
"Er, well, you see, it wasn't for Ginny, Professor, honest. She er, picked up the er...wrong goblet," Ron said quietly, looking at his feet, pretending not to notice the other pair of feet next to him.
Oh, god, don't make McGonagall have me say it, please, not in front of Hermione, please anything but that.
"I see, Mr Weasley. And who exactly was the potion for then?" McGonagall asked.
Ron closed his eyes tight and made a face. He felt movement next to him and it took every ounce of willpower he owned not to turn to look at her.
"Mr Weasley?" McGonagall's voice had that tone of no-nonsense that would frighten most second years back to first year, and it had the same effect on Ron.
He opened his eyes and looked at the Professor, but just as he was about to open his mouth, Hermione explained for him.
"It was for me, Professor. Ron and I...we've been having a bit of fun...you know, playing tricks on one another. He ruined the potion on purpose, I believe. Didn't you Ron? You didn't boil the Dragon Scales first, did you?"
Ron turned his head so fast his neck made a painful cracking noise that made him wince. He looked at Hermione, who was tilting her head at him, her eyes trying to tell him something. He felt his head nod and turned back to look at Professor McGonagall.
"Er, yeah, she's er...right...that's what I did. It was a joke, Professor McGonagall. A very bad one." He added, as the Professor's mouth grew even thinner with disapproval.
"Miss Granger, as head girl you should know better, and I am shocked at your behaviour. And Mr Weasley, I expect something like this from your older brothers but not from you. You're quite fortunate Professor Snape was able to give your sister an antidote so quickly to stop the spread of the potion's effects. I want the both of you in my office after classes so that I can give you both detentions for being so careless."
The professor paused as she turned and gave Ron an interesting look. "Your sister is most upset with you, Mr Weasley, as is Mr Potter. I would suggest you choose not to visit her now. That is, until Poppy has scraped off most of her...ailments." McGonagall's face twitched as though holding back a smile, but she turned and headed down the hallway before Ron was sure he'd seen it. He exhaled a loud breath and ran a hand over his face.
He chanced a look at Hermione, expecting her to be cross with him for getting them detention. Instead, she had folded her arms and was looking away from him, her expression guarded.
"Sorry," he said suddenly, but he wasn't certain if he was apologizing for the detention or the fact that he'd been caught trying to ply her with a love potion.
Hermione turned and bit her lip as she stared at him.
"Why did you really do it, Ron?" she finally asked, her voice soft.
Ron shrugged. "I...was playing a joke, that's all."
Hermione looked disappointed for some reason and frowned. "Well, it wasn't a very good one, was it? You'll be lucky if Ginny and Harry both don't hex you. I'll see you tonight for detention."
Hermione abruptly turned the way Professor McGonagall had and left him staring after her - feeling confused and worried and more than a little upset with himself. Why didn't I just tell her the truth?
"I am going to hex his sorry, lopsided, saggy arse -"
"Shh, Gin," Harry interrupted her, putting a hand over her mouth as Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape stood talking near her bed. He didn't think Snape would appreciate hearing the more colourful aspects of Ginny's linguistic abilities at this point in time. Ginny's eyes narrowed at him, and he tilted his head towards the Potions Master. She finally sighed and rolled her eyes, and he removed his hand.
"I'm sorry, but I don't fancy having Snape take points from Gryffindor because he overheard you going off on the git that is your brother," Harry said, sitting down again. "Besides, they told me I'd have to leave if you got upset again."
Ginny didn't say anything and looked down at her hands. Harry frowned at the expression on her face.
"Look at me, Harry! I'm scaly! He gave me scales! Of all the stupid, inane, idiotic twits in the world why did I have to be related to him? What in the hell was he trying to prove with that bloody potion?" Ginny flailed her arms about, and Harry ducked out of the way as a few of her more looser skin pieces went flying.
"Er, I think he meant to give it to Hermione, Gin."
"Oh, well, that makes it okay then," Ginny said grumpily, folding her arms.
Harry bit back a laugh, knowing that she would not find his attitude refreshing. He tried a different tack.
"Look, Madam Pomfrey said the rest of the...scales should come off soon and you've already lost loads, why...I can almost see your face, really, and...."
Ginny suddenly burst into to tears, and he shut his mouth.
"I'm horrible looking. He made me ugly! You have a freak for a girlfriend!"
"Ginny, it's just the potion; you know you're not ugly -"
"I have GREEN SKIN, HARRY!"
Her outburst made Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape turn towards her bed. Harry sighed and got up from his seat. He looked at Ginny. "Now you've done it."
He turned and looked at Madam Pomfrey. "Er, she's getting a bit upset."
"Yes, Harry, the potion makes her a bit over-wrought, perhaps you should just go until it's run its course," the nurse said, frowning at him. She moved past him and started to comfort Ginny.
Professor Snape sneered at him. "Yes, Potter, perhaps consoling her is not your strong suit."
Harry frowned and didn't say anything, not bothering to dignify the remark with a response. He turned back to Ginny and smiled sadly. "I'll see you later, Gin."
Ginny nodded and lay back on the bed, somehow managing to look morose, angry, and very green all at the same time.
Harry left the hospital wing, feeling Snape's eyes at the back of his head, but didn't turn around. Harry only had one person he'd really like to clobber at the moment.
But when Harry found Ron in the common room, the other boy looked so forlorn that his own misplaced frustration at what had happened left him. He knew Ron hadn't meant for Ginny to drink the potion; it was evident by his reaction after she had already drank it. What he didn't know was why Ron had spiked Hermione's goblet with something that apparently made people turn into emotional, scaly green things.
Harry sat down next to Ron. "Alright there, Ron?"
Ron startled and looked around as though he hadn't even realised Harry was there. He gave him a frightened look.
"Harry! Look, mate, I'm sorry, I didn't mean for Ginny to take that goblet, I mean, you have to believe me."
Harry held up his hand. "I believe you. I know you meant it for Hermione. Eventually Ginny will see that too. The question right now though is...why? Why did you want to do something like that to Hermione?"
Ron's face crumpled, and for a moment, Harry was scared that his friend was about to cry. Instead, Ron started talking very fast.
"I didn't mean to turn anyone green! Honest! It was...it wasn't supposed to happen like that! But I'm a total dunce when it comes to potions...when it comes to everything! I'm a failure. I don't know why people bother with me, honestly. I'm such an idiot!"
Ron's face turned bright pink and his eyes went wide as he looked at Harry.
"I'm really sorry, Harry. Really. Tell Ginny that, would you? Before she kills me? She's going to kill me, I know. She's probably up there, right now, plotting my death...."
"Actually, Ginny's pretty over-wrought and not in any condition to plot anything. Apparently, one of the other effects of the potion is that it makes her ah...quite emotional," Harry said, trying to calm Ron down. "I'm sure once she's er...more like herself she'll er...be less...inclined to curse your existence. Maybe. But don't worry about Ginny, Ron. Just tell me what you were doing and why. And you're not a failure, by the way."
Ron seemed to take heart at Harry's words and calmed down a bit. He took a deep breath and glanced at Harry. "Remember when we were talking about Hermione and er...my feelings?"
"Yeah," Harry said cautiously.
"Well, first off, I know. You know, about you two...er...well, about her, at any rate. I know you're with Ginny and everything, I'm not jealous, mate, honest. But er, I felt bad for Hermione, you know, pining away and...I thought I'd er...make a love potion, you know, to make her forget you -"
"Ron," Harry interrupted, staring at his friend as though he'd never seen him before. "What in the blazes are you talking about? Why would you want Hermione to forget me?"
"Because she fancies you! And it's been killing her, you know, seeing you be happy with Ginny, and I just wanted her to...well, fancy me, you know, to make her forget about you."
Harry blinked at Ron and realised his mouth had fallen open. He closed it and shook his head, wanting to just laugh out loud. He wondered if Hermione and Ron knew how utterly insane they both were.
"Wait, let me get this straight. You think Hermione fancies me and is jealous of Ginny, so you...you what? You brewed a love potion to make her fall in love with you instead? Hermione is going to kill you, mate. After she laughs about it, of course. I can't believe the two of you are so thick!" Harry finally couldn't hold it in any longer and started laughing, only clutching his side harder as Ron gave him a look of utter dismay.
"I don't think it's funny, Harry! I heard Hermione tell you her feelings for you! You shouldn't be so callous towards her! She's been there for you loads of times, you know. You're damn lucky someone as...brilliant and clever and beautiful as her would fancy you, you lousy sod!"
Harry wiped at his eyes, trying to catch his breath, wanting to explain everything to Ron. But a new batch of chuckles started as Ron stood up and glared at him, his fists closed tight at his side.
"Harry, you're my best mate, so I am not going to punch you, but...I just can't be around you right now while you're laughing about Hermione's broken heart!"
"Go, Ron," Harry managed to wheeze out, his breath catching. "You just go and tell her how rude I was about her feelings. Go on, see what happens."
Ron gave him an angry look, and then headed out of the common room. Harry closed his eyes and started laughing again.
Oh, Ginny and Hermione are just going to love this. Someday.
"Very well, Mr Weasley, you will be given tonight off to finish your Divination homework. However, I would like both you and Miss Granger to report to Mr Filch's office no later than seven o'clock tomorrow evening to serve your detentions. Is that clear?"
Ron nodded his head. "Yes, ma'am."
Professor McGonagall dismissed them, and Ron followed Hermione out of the office. They didn't say anything for a moment, and Ron stuck his hands in his pockets, feeling unsettled. His anger at Harry earlier had faded, mostly because he'd stopped by to see Ginny and been reminded again of what a total idiot he was. His mum was going to kill him when she found out he'd turned her only daughter green.
"Er, Hermione -" he said, suddenly stopping, wondering if he could somehow make her understand why he'd really tried to do the potion.
She paused and looked at him, raising her eyebrow. Ron sighed at the disagreeable look in her eyes. Oh,who am I kidding? I can't tell her a blessed thing. "Could you help me with my Divination homework? It's star mapping and...well, you know, I'm rubbish at that sort of thing. You always do your astronomy charts perfectly."
"You've already ruined tomorrow night for me, now you want to ruin tonight?" Hermione said, narrowing her eyes at him.
Ron felt his skin heat. "No! Fine, never mind. I was just asking for help. Honestly, I don't know why I bother." He made as though to storm off, when he felt her hand on his arm.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly, not looking at him.
Ron didn't say anything and felt embarrassed suddenly. Why was everything with Hermione always making him either angry or embarrassed? It wasn't fair.
"I could really use your help," he said finally, glancing at her.
Hermione bit her lip but nodded her head. "All right then, should we go to the Astronomy Tower now?"
"Er," Ron paused, not wanting to see Harry in the common room, but he needed his books. "I need my books, I reckon. I'll meet you there?"
Hermione nodded, and she turned around, going back the way they had come. Ron watched her for a moment and then reminded himself that she was just helping him because...well, Ron didn't know why she had agreed to help him so readily, but he wasn't going to ruin it. He hurried off to the common room and was relieved (although also a bit disturbed), when Neville told him Harry had said he had something funny to tell Ginny and had gone off to say goodnight to her one last time before curfew.
He grabbed his bag and headed back out again, trying to figure out why he had the oddest feeling in his stomach.
"No, the Timarius star is near Jupiter, not Neptune. Honestly, Ron, did you never pay attention to Professor Sinistra?"
Ron made a face and scratched out what he had just written. Hermione leaned over his parchment, her hair falling down over it and him. Ron took a deep breath and closed his eyes, not realising he hadn't exactly been subtle. When he finally opened his eyes, he found Hermione looking at him, a strange expression on her face.
"Er, right, Jupiter. Got it. What do think it means that it showed up when I was born then?" he said, looking quickly down at his book, pretending to read.
"I think it means you are given to fits of indecision," Hermione said softly, and he glanced back up at her, frowning.
"Really? Do you think? Er...I mean, I don't think I'm all that indecisive really, not when it matters -"
"Ron, I'm going to ask you something one last time, and I really want the truth."
Her voice was so serious that Ron stopped flipping through his book and gave her a wary look. He suddenly felt very anxious inside, as though something momentous was about to happen, and he was going to foul it up. It was how he always felt right before Quidditch games.
"Er, okay," he said, his voice sounding strange to his ears.
Hermione sat back and studied him for a moment, and then rested her head on her hand.
"Why did you really make that potion? And please tell me the truth, no matter what it is."
For some reason, Ron had known that was what she was going to ask him and so he wasn't really surprised, just curious as to why she wanted to know. He didn't say anything and had to look away from the intense stare she was giving him, suddenly feeling as though the night had grown a lot warmer.
"Why?" he blurted out, wincing at the worried tone he heard in his voice.
"I would just like to know, once and for all," Hermione said softly, finally looking away from him.
"I...." Ron paused, feeling stupid. How could he tell her? "I made it to help you," he said lamely.
"Help me with what, exactly? Did you perhaps believe my skin to be too...pale?" Hermione asked, and he noticed her mouth twitching.
He frowned. "To help you with Harry, of course. I...I didn't want you pining after him. So...I thought...a potion would...take your mind off of him."
Hermione's eyes went wide and her mouth hung open a little bit, and he felt himself growing annoyed. Why did everyone always have that reaction when he talked about this?
"Look, I know, okay? I know you...fancy...Harry. I...just thought if you could take a love potion and think about someone else instead of worrying about him that...well, we could all be...er...friends...again." Ron stubbornly folded his arms over his chest and looked away from her, feeling his skin heat.
"Ron, why on earth would you think I fancy Harry?" Hermione asked, and Ron noticed her cheeks were pink.
"Because you...you've been so out of sorts ever since he's been with Ginny. I watched you, you know, you were always scowling at them or something and then you went from biting my head off all the time to not even saying two words to me. So...I just reckoned you were jealous. And then when I heard you tell him -"
"Wait. You heard me tell Harry I fancy him?" Hermione's voice sounded incredulous, and he noticed she was giving him a very odd sort of look.
"Er, well, in the library, you two were talking and...."
"That was you who Madam Pince was yelling at?"
Ron nodded, feeling embarrassed. "Anyway, so I know. And it's okay, Hermione. I'll help you get through this."
Ron reached out and touched her hand, in a gesture of comfort, and almost pulled away when she erupted into laughter.
"Well, I didn't think you'd laugh about it...."
Hermione shook her head and covered her mouth, looking at him as though he had just sprouted wings. Ron felt himself grow cross, wondering why both Hermione and Harry found him so bloody funny all of a sudden.
"Look, I'm dead tired of feeling like I've just stuck my foot in it again - first with Harry and now you. You two can laugh all you want, but that's the last time I try to help either of you!" Ron said, standing up, his book falling from his lap.
Hermione looked up at him, still laughing. He scowled and bent over to pick up his book, intending to leave her alone with her humour. He paused when her hand reached out and rested over his. He looked over at her and felt his heart start to beat faster. Her eyes softened as she looked at him, and she moved her other hand to caress his cheek. Ron felt as though the entire world had somehow decided to stop. He didn't move, he didn't blink...he didn't even breathe, for fear of what would happen next.
"You're such a silly thing," Hermione said softly. She closed her eyes and leaned forward, and Ron couldn't even think before he felt her lips, soft and smooth against his.
After a short moment (much too short for Ron's tastes, he decided), she pulled back and blinked at him, a shy look on her face that fascinated him. He moved his hand to take a hold of hers.
"Hermione, you just kissed me," he heard himself say, his voice sounding as though he were a million miles away.
Hermione's cheeks turned pink. "Yes, Ron. I did."
"What about Harry?" Ron asked, looking at her.
"He's not here."
"No, I mean -"
"I don't want to kiss Harry, you idiot. I don't have feelings for Harry. But you were right. I was jealous of him and Ginny."
Ron frowned and sat down on the ground again, next to her. She turned, still holding his hand. She used her other hand to brush his hair off his face, smiling.
"I don't understand then," Ron said, feeling as though he were dreaming.
"I was jealous because they had what we...didn't," Hermione continued, looking at him pointedly.
Ron frowned and then looked at her as her meaning sunk in. "You mean...you wanted you and I to...well, be like them?"
Hermione nodded and moved closer to him. "Is it okay?"
Ron smiled, suddenly, feeling his skin heat. "Can we snog again before I answer that?"
Hermione blushed again and that same shy smile filled her face, and Ron tilted her chin with his finger, tenderly bringing his lips to hers. He felt as though his entire world had gone topsy-turvy, and he suddenly understood why Harry had been so over the moon lately - snogging was brilliant. And as Hermione's mouth opened more and their tongues touched for the first time, Ron forgot everything he knew about anything....even Quidditch.
"Well?" Hermione said, sounding quite breathless as they pulled apart sometime later. Ron bit his lip and casually shrugged at her.
"I guess you'll do for a girlfriend. You'll have to help me with revising now, you know, I'm not going to let you waste your brains any longer."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Ronald Weasley, you will do no such thing! I am not going to help you cheat. You need to read and do your own -"
Ron cut her off with a kiss, and she leaned into him as his hand got lost in her hair.
"Well, perhaps we can work out some sort of...timetable where we revise together," she murmured as she sighed and rested her head on his shoulder.
Ron grinned and didn't say anything and looked up at the stars.
Well, what do you know? Old Trelawney was right...this star-mapping thing was illuminating.
He'd had a bad week, but now...now Ron felt as though things were finally looking up.