An Act of Desperation - or - Flirting with Gravity
The two were at the end of their tether. They were desperately, madly distracted and frustrated; in other words, they were typical lovestruck teenagers. Seeing no other recourse to their dilemma, the pair plotted and schemed to get together in an empty classroom, determined to resolve their condition once and for all.
For Harry, the situation reached its head when he saw her studying in the library, readily besieging the massive wall of books that lay before her, scribbling and scratching away with her quill at high speed. Or it might have been when she was playing with Crookshanks, tossing him a ball of yarn to stop him from hunting – and, regrettably, brandishing – spiders for Ron, how the candlelight brought life to her skin and her eyes. With those images irretrievably burned into his brain, he judged his possible loss of life and limb from his best friend’s rage to be an acceptable risk. It had better be.
For Hermione, her torment escalated beyond the bearable when he saw him flirting cavalierly with one of the Patil twins, specifically the one he took to the Yule Ball. That was when she contrived the grand ruse, though Harry tended to roll his eyes in exasperation whenever she spoke of their conspiracy that way, one that would drive them inexorably together. Or so she hoped.
‘If I help you in this, you had best help me with Ginny,’ Harry had muttered when Hermione had informed him of her devious decision. ‘And with recovering any appendages I might lose from this idiotic experiment.’
As Harry and Hermione departed for the abandoned classroom, she wondered whether Harry was right that she depended too much on books and not enough on instinct. She had devised the ploy after having read through her parents’ small collection of French novels, in particular de Laclos’s Les liaisons dangereuses. ‘That should have been reason enough to bin this plan,’ Harry chuntered in mid-brood. Perhaps he was merely saying that because he had just remembered about the potential physical repercussions of their act. Not that she blamed him, really: she herself dreaded the Weasley temper.
But it was too late to pull out now. Hearing the dull thud of Ron’s heavy footfalls and a young woman’s barely audible but obviously irritable grumbling, Hermione flung herself onto Harry, kissing him with what she took for romantic abandon. Flustered, glasses digging into his nose, and only now realising the other person was, in fact, Ginny, Harry could scarcely react as he heard the door open, followed closely thereafter by two loud gasps, a slammed door, and two pairs of storming feet, one of which was coming dangerously closer.
‘How could you?’ Ginny hissed, those words forcing the snogging party apart more powerfully than any spell. A colourful troupe of expletives, trailed by a distinctly crimson assortment of threats came next. ‘You explain to my brother just what happened here,’ the red-haired woman growled, poking Hermione hard on the chest.
Harry, who hadn’t been able to look at Miss Weasley’s freckled face ever since she had entered the room, trying instead to seep into the small cracks in the flagged stone floor, ominously noticed her feet turn towards him.
He had been expecting a horde of leather-winged mammals forcing themselves out of his nostrils, not the open-handed slap that sent his spectacles clear across the room. With a tooth as well, it seems, he thought as the spitfire charged from the room.
As he hunted for his glasses he heard Hermione perform her stuttering parrot impression. ‘Just don’t even try, Hermione,’ he barked as his hunt registered success. ‘For this is positively the last time I ever listen to any of your overly researched plans. “Make them jealous,” you said, “then they’ll go mad for us.” They’re mad, all right: bloody baying for our blood, I don’t doubt!’
Harry’s hand was on the doorknob when Hermione finally uttered a coherent sentence. ‘Harry, look at the floor.’
The dark haired young man spun about, a scowl threatening to become permanently etched on his face when he saw them. Three small tears, three tiny drops of sadness serving to make him feel even more miserable. An oath later and he was chasing after the Weasley Quidditch queen.
He chanced a peek into the common room only to miss a solid roundhouse from Ron thanks to many years of ducking from Aunt Petunia’s frying pans. With his best friend now dancing about in agony – having massacred his knuckles against the stone wall in a display of ‘Muggle duelling’ – and since Hermione appeared to be dawdling, Harry decided it was time to compel his best friend to openly express the strength of his feelings for his other best friend. Albeit not without performing a full body-bind beforehand.
Ron’s eyes were still able to express the sheer, almost murderous rage he now felt towards a man who he had previously considered a brother, and who he now thought of as a traitor, like Percy. In his condition, however, the youngest Weasley brother could do nothing but listen to the cur above him.
First, Harry called Neville over to act as an unbiased observer. Since Ron couldn’t very well speak, Harry needed someone whom the assembled very interested Gryffindors, anxiously anticipating the answer of why such great friends would come to blows, would trust to interpret Mr Weasley’s blinking.
‘Two for yes, one for no, OK Ron?’
Ron refused to reply – well, wink – until his friend’s wand was pointed once more at him. Two blinks.
‘Did you see Hermione and me kissing?’
More than a few people gasped, including Neville. Dean and Seamus swore in disbelief whilst Lavender and Parvati immediately began twittering excitedly yet quietly at speed. Neville dutifully noted that Ron had, in fact, seen it happen.
‘Was that what caused you to take a punch at me?’
Most people, convinced Harry was a perfect scoundrel, thought it would have served the dark-haired boy right if Ron had clocked him. Neville looked bewildered. Still, he told the crowd Ron had indicated ‘yes’.
‘And why might that be? Are you perhaps fond of Miss Granger?’ Ron again refused to respond. ‘Could it be that you wanted to be in my place snogging her rather than your erstwhile girlfriend?’ Harry could see the emotional torment his friend was going through. In truth, he could see that Ron was thinking of whether it would be easier to skewer Harry or to simply pummel him to death, so Mr Potter had to come up with an alternate plan.
‘Maybe I should just find Hermione again...’ With that Harry made to exit through the Portrait.
It was the last straw. Ron blinked once, which was swiftly reported by Neville.
‘No? Why? Do you like Hermione?’
Two blinks. The mob, with the exception of more than a few disappointed girls, erupted in howls of delirious joy.
‘Good,’ Harry sighed over his friend, ‘because I don’t think I’ll be able to survive any more of her mental schemes to get you two together.’ Harry secured a promise from Neville to release Ron after five minutes, giving Mr Potter sufficient time to escape.
Harry had also asked the round-faced young man whether Ginny had come in recently. Neville gave him an inquisitive look, yet shook his head in the end. Feeling his self-imposed time constraint looming over him, Harry dashed from the room in search of either pain or further glory.
He hunted from room to room, hounded by Peeves and taunted by the devilish Mrs Norris. Narrowly Harry avoided Malfoy and his pet cretins whilst scurrying madly through the corridors.
Finally a flaxen-haired angel showed him the way. Actually, it was Luna, but that was neither here nor there to Harry at the time.
‘Oh, Harry, what have you done this time?’ she scolded him. ‘I haven’t seen her cry so much since that last time you were in hospital.’
I’m dead, thought Harry. Mustering all of his courage – ‘Some Gryffindor me,’ he muttered – he turned the doorknob to the classroom fully expecting the worst.
What confronted him was even worse than what he had believed. Being transfigured into cockroach and squished or simply being Stunned out the door would have been far easier to accept than what he faced. Stony faced, red eyed, that pretty jaw jutting malevolently forward, blotches of bitter ire drowning the delightful freckles, and with her wand in her hand sat Ginny Weasley in the professor’s chair.
‘Tell me why I shouldn’t hex you, Potter,’ she said with dangerous clarity.
‘Er...’ How clever you are.
‘Well?’ she demanded.
‘You know Hermione...’
‘Not nearly so well as you, obviously,’ Ginny interrupted abruptly. This was not beginning very well, Harry determined. Despite the likelihood of failure, he pressed on.
‘And your brother haven’t been able to admit they care for each other.’ Ginny snorted in recognition of a blatant truth. That’s something, a voice noted in Harry’s head, only to be quickly locked away in the heavily padded Hall of Hopeless Optimism. ‘She – and I, I must admit – were conspiring to force your brother to admit what he feels for her.’ For some unknown reason, Harry smiled.
Ginny responded with a blood-chilling glower. ‘Why would you think I’d believe this drivel?’ she snarled.
During this conversation, Harry’s own sense of indignation was rising. ‘Do you really think I’m chasing after Hermione?’ he barked.
‘I think you might have caught her,’ Ginny stated conclusively.
‘You thought wrong,’ Harry declared bitterly. He advanced towards the professor’s desk, his wandless hands raised in surrender, not wanting to be jinxed before he had his say. Once he stood facing her with only the desk between them – for the safety of his privates, of course – he pressed his splayed hands onto the desk.
‘I thought you a pretty, clever young woman, Miss Weasley,’ he hissed. ‘But if you can’t see what’s before your very eyes, I’m sorry to say you’ll be no better off than your idiot brother.’ He paused briefly for his words to sink into her infuriated mind. When they faltered against the powerful current of rage, he scowled. ‘In that case, good day to you, your bloody-minded wonderfulness,’ and stormed out of the room.
Upon returning to the common room, he learned that Hermione had accompanied Ron to the Infirmary and that whilst their conversation had been heated – it was Ron and Hermione, after all – they did seem affectionate with one another. ‘Wouldn’t be surprised if they forgot about Madam Pomfrey altogether,’ Seamus snickered. Harry’s half-grin grimace announced his agreement as he walked over to thank Neville for his part in the affair before heading off to the dormitory for a restless night.
Ron came in several hours later singing an odd little happy tune and moaning each time he tried to use his injured hand, proving Seamus right once again. Harry, however, waited for several hours after all of the others had climbed into bed before regaining the comfort and comparative silence of the common room.
Faced with the bitter chill of an autumnal Highland night, Harry enlivened the fire and immediately stepped back in surprise. Curled snugly in one of the larger chairs closest to the fire, her winter school robes and scarf wound tightly about her to fend off some of the cold, sat Ginny.
He didn’t know what made him do it, but ever so gently he ran his finger along her cheek, disturbing a few strands of her hair and causing her to gurn in mild annoyance. Realising that simply wasn’t about to work, he lightly rested a hand on her shoulder and whispered into her ear, ‘Ginny, the chair’s on fire, you’d better wake up.’
Bleary, reddened eyes blinked themselves wearily open, soon narrowing to slits against the unaccustomed brightness of the reawakened fire. ‘Wha...?’
Half awake and susceptible, she complied before she remembered she was still angry with him. ‘You...’
‘Yes, me.’ It took an immense degree of composure to sit that closely to her and to do nothing, especially as that foolish voice had apparently broken out of its asylum once more.
She glared at him intently, her jaw once more set menacingly. ‘I am not so daft as my brother,’ she hissed.
Or at least that was what he was about to say when he discovered his best friend’s sister’s lips firmly planted upon his. And that’s when the lip-locked pair became aware of a little something called Newton’s Third Law of Motion. For the force of Miss Weasley’s happy assault on the very pleased Mr Potter caused the chair to topple with a loud crash, which in turn emptied out several of the dormitories, not least of which being those of the sixth year boys and girls, all of which both Harry and Ginny were blithely ignorant, being understandably concerned with far more pressing issues. Well, that is, until...
‘Potter, that’s my bloody sister!’
I shall not relate what happened next, for neither my parents nor my aunt and uncle have bothered to enlighten any of their offspring on that part of the tale. Needless to say, all survived with their necessary parts well and truly intact, else, how would I have been able to write this?