(Author's Note: My second Fourway story, and I'd say the weakest of them. It's still fun – and I enjoyed writing Ron and Hermione here. Harry and Ginny, however, were just treading water a little. It does get better...)
Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Ginny wore Harry down. I'm only surprised that it took five years, looking back over it all. She's normally pretty persistent.
People were pretty surprised that I didn't thump Harry for snogging my little sister. In fairness to them, I did. Not hard, and not anywhere it'd show, or else I'd have Hermione hassling me for forever and a day.
Harry understood, though. When he could speak again, he said that he'd have done the same in my position. Everything was fine. Ginny and Harry were happy, the three of us became the four of us, and for a few days everything was good. It was nice to have Ginny hanging out with us, though don't tell her I said that, or I'll never hear the end of it.
By the end of the week, Harry and Ginny were looking a bit, well, I don't know, uncomfortable. I tried to find out what was going on, but they said that there was nothing wrong. Then Hermione distracted me. She'd been trying to get her own back on me since that spell on the Chocolate Frog cards turned out to be pretty useful in the end. Not quite how I imagined things turning out, but that's okay.
'Ron,' she said. 'Since you want to play Quidditch when you leave here, can you answer me something?'
'I can try,' I said, with a grin at Harry. He smiled back, but he looked a bit off colour. I was actually a bit worried, you know? I thought he might be coming down with something, and if he was, then there was a good chance that Ginny'd probably catch it too.
And if you can't imagine how Ginny could catch whatever illness Harry had, well, I'm not going to paint you a picture.
'How exactly do you get picked by a professional team to play for them?' she asked.
Imagine that. Hermione stumped me on a question about Quidditch. Look, don't tell her I said this, okay, but I hadn't really given a lot of thought to life after Hogwarts. I know I should, but it's too much like work.
'You know, I don't know the details,' I admitted. 'I can always owl Oliver Wood and ask him.'
'Oh, no, it's okay,' Hermione said. 'I can tell you. I saw it in a magazine somewhere. I think it was one of Seamus' copies of Which Broomstick?'
'How did you end up reading one of Seamus' Quidditch magazines?' I asked. 'Isn't that a bit too much fun for you?'
'It just so happens that I like Quidditch a lot, Ron. Just because you think you know everything about it, doesn't mean you do.'
'Okay, I don't know everything. I never said I did. I just never imagined you putting your feet up with a glass of pumpkin juice and Which Broomstick? That's all.'
'It was pineapple juice, actually, and I felt I deserved a break from study a few nights ago, so I asked Seamus if he had a copy I could read. He was happy to lend me one.'
I just bet he was. I've seen the way Seamus has been looking at Hermione since we got back to school last week. I'm amazed his eyes haven't popped out of his head.
'Well, that was good of him. Anyway, could you tell me how I'd go about trying out for a professional team? Please?'
You see that I added the 'please' there? I've learned it's a good idea to be polite to Hermione when I want something from her. She's a lot more likely to tell me what I want if I'm polite. Either that or she assumes I'm up to something 'cos I'm being nice. Sometimes I think she goes around looking for trouble, at least with me. She never does it to Harry. Then again, he's always polite to her. I'm not sure it's worth the effort.
Besides, it's fun arguing with her.
'I'll tell you if you'll bet me on something?'
'If I what?'
'Bet me. If you win, I'll tell you how to get a tryout with a professional Quidditch team. If you lose you'll have to...' She looked around, and started smiling when she saw the rubbish bin in the corner of the room. Just as I was about to ask her why rubbish made her so happy, she said 'You have to help me with S.P.E.W. next time I go to the kitchens.'
This is the sort of thing I mean when I say Hermione's barking mad. No one ever listens to me, but she is. She's flaming crazy. I reckon she'd be well suited to dragon taming. She's got the right mentality, just like Charlie. He's another one whose mind works in weird ways.
'What's the bet?'
It pays to be cautious around mad people. I never know when Hermione's going to start crying, or hugging me, or what.
'I don't know,' she said. 'How about we bet on whether it's Seamus or Dean who speak next?'
She pointed over to where the two of them were working on their Divination stuff. Seamus is an unlucky man. Imagine Lavender dumping him a week after he picks Divination as one of his O.W.L's. And he convinced Dean to do it, too. Trelawney and Firenze must do some weird classes, because Dean isn't at all happy right now.
'I'll pick Seamus,' Hermione said.
'That'll make him happy,' I said without thinking. Hermione nearly knocked over her bottle of ink.
'What was that?' she asked.
'Er... Nothing,' I said. 'Okay, Dean to speak first. Come on Dean. My future happiness rests on you opening that gobby mouth of yours.'
We were sat watching for about two minutes until Seamus said something. Dean completely ignored him. I watched for another few seconds, and Seamus tried again. Dean still ignored him again. I turned to Hermione.
'Dean's not talking to Seamus, is he?' I asked. Beside her, I could see Harry shaking his head.
'You could have told me,' I said to him. 'That wasn't fair, Hermione,' I said. 'How was I supposed to know they're not talking?'
'Ask them?' Ginny suggested. 'Dean's not been talking to Seamus since Tuesday. You must have noticed.'
Ginny seemed thoroughly amused by all of this. Remind me to have a big brother/little sister chat with her sometime in the next couple of days.
'Okay, Ron, I cheated a bit,' Hermione said. 'But it's in a good cause. I really feel I'm getting somewhere with the elves down in the kitchens. If you help me out tonight, then there might be a few more prepared to stand up for their rights.'
'Hermione, house elves have rights. A lot more now then they did only a few years ago,' I protested. Believe it or not, I'd actually done a bit of research on this, for just this sort of occasion. Hermione, of course, cut me off at the knees.
'Yes, Ron, I know all about the Elf Rights Charter of 1977. It's very nice, but it's still not equal footing with humans. Oh, go on Ron. You might even enjoy it. I'll even find you the magazine afterwards.'
It's not fair. Hermione has this sort of wounded puppy look when she thinks I'm being unfair. I swear she got Ginny to teach it to her. She never used to do that. Women!
'How long is this waste of time going to take?' I sighed. Better to give up now and save my strength for another day, and a fight I might have a chance of winning.
'Ron, that's hardly the attitude I was hoping for,' she huffed.
'Well, it's the attitude you're getting,' I said. 'You could always ask Seamus to help you.'
'Why on earth would I ask Seamus to help with S.P.E.W?' she said. That cheered me up a bit. 'Anyway, I thought you would sympathise with what house elves have to go through.'
'What do you mean?'
'Well, your mum does a lot of work for all of you, and that's a pretty thankless task, just like the house elves.'
'Well, yeah, but...'
'So you could almost see it as doing something to support your mum. I'm sure she'd be very happy to hear that you were helping others. And your dad agrees with me about the elves, so-'
The thing about Hermione is, when she starts going on like this, I tend to glaze over a bit. I mean, some of it registers, but most of it is pretty much in one ear and out the other, you know? Anyway, to cut a long story short, I agreed to go with her to the kitchens.
'Oh Ron, that's wonderful,' she said. 'You won't regret this, and you'll feel good about helping out, I know you will. And when we get back, I'll help you find that article, okay?'
Yeah, well, I guess I could have put up a fight about it, but I don't care. Thing is, well, it was kind of nice to do something that makes Hermione smile for a change, you know? I mean, I know I tease her about S.P.E.W. and everything, but she's got her heart in the right place, as my mum would say. And that's not all that she's got in the right place, as Fred, George, Bill and Charlie would say.
There. I said it. I like Hermione, and I have for ages. I think I started to realise it back during the second year, when she was Petrified. It was really weird at first, feeling like this, but you kind of get used to it, y'know? I sort of thought that we could just go through Hogwarts and see what happened. I never thought I'd start getting jealous about her and other boys. Which I did, of course. And it's been made perfectly clear that I was acting like a prat. It's amazing some of the words Ginny knows, really. I think she's spending too much time with me.
Sorry. I got off topic there, didn't I? I'm hopeless about talking about this stuff, I really am. It just still feels kind of weird to feel this way about Hermione. I know it's why I end up arguing with her all the time. I just want us to spend time together, but we've got nothing in common and we always end up arguing. I know I get on her nerves, and we both get on Harry's nerves –poor bloke, 'though I guess Ginny's helping him deal with it- but just occasionally something makes me think that I'm right, you know? One of us will say something, or do something, and we'll look at each other, and it feels right.
If Fred heard me saying something like this he'd probably make me eat Canary Creams until I start talking about Hermione's, er, you know... I mean, I do look at that stuff, but with Hermione it's different. She's my best friend, and there's got to be more to going out with someone than just what they look like.
So I agreed to go with Hermione to the kitchen to do the poxy S.P.E.W. thing, but first she insisted we do our stupid homework –Potions essays, urrgh- and by the time we were done, it was nearly ten o'clock.
'Hermione, we can't go now,' I said. I still wanted to feel like I was putting up a fight. I might as well have tried to calm down a rampaging Hippogriff.
'Of course we can, Ron,' she said. 'We're Prefects, we're allowed to be out of our common room after nine o'clock.'
Once a year or so, Hermione encourages us to break a rule. One rule, once a year. And that's it. Here she was using it up less than a fortnight into term.
Given the sort of stuff we've done over the last few years, I'd actually be quite pleased if this meant it'd be a quiet year from here on in.
Anyway, we said goodbye to Harry and Ginny, and with half the common room making stupid comments and jokes abut what we were up to, we set off for the kitchens. Sometimes I think it'd be nice to get Hermione alone, get the mood right, and just have that talk with her. Small hope of that, I s'pose.
Just once, I thought, it might be nice if the rumours about me and Hermione were true, and that we didn't end up doing something like the S.P.E.W. meeting. I won't even try and describe it, except to say that it was pretty much as bad as the last time I got dragged down there by Hermione. She's bonkers, she really is. She actually seems to think that the elves are listening, that they're 'secretly yearning to throw off the shackles of their enslavement.' Well, if they are, they're doing a ruddy good job of hiding it, that's all I'll say on the matter.
Me and Hermione were bickering all the way back to Gryffindor Tower. We were walking along the seventh floor corridor when we heard someone coming towards us. It couldn't have been much worse, really. It was Filch, and ever since Fred and George left that swamp lying around, he's been mad to get something on Ginny or me.
We looked at each other and bolted. No way on earth did we want to run into that evil twit right then. Prefects or not, we'd have lost more points then anyone in the history of Hogwarts. Hermione could've made it into her favourite book.
We went back along the corridor, and realised that someone was coming along it. It was almost as bad as Filch. It was Snape. I mean, honestly, how bad can one evening get?
We doubled back, and went to take a different fork, and that's when we realised just how bad things were. There was someone coming down that corridor too. I didn't even need to hear their voices. Unless someone else has an Invisibility Cloak, then Harry was prowling the school too, and the way it was showing bits of the people underneath, well, it didn't take a genius to work out that Ginny was with him. I swore, a bit loudly I s'pose. There was absolute silence as Snape, Filch, Ginny, Harry and Hermione all froze.
I looked around in horror. Hermione had gone white with fear, and I probably didn't look any different. But we're Gryffindors, and through the panic I noticed a door in the wall that I hadn't seen before. I didn't think far enough ahead to worry about what it was, I just grabbed Hermione's hand and dragged her over to it, opening it and slamming it shut behind us as we dashed in.
'Ron...' Hermione said, as I rested my head against the door. I was thinking of ways to bar it shut, and hadn't paid much attention to the room itself. I looked around.
'Bloody hell,' I gasped. I was at home. It was the kitchen at home. What in the name of Merlin were we doing here?
I looked closer. It was exactly as I remembered it, which I suppose should have been a clue straight off, but it's a bit weird walking out of school and straight into my house. The birds were singing, the sun was shining –another clue, I later realised- and there was a smell of baking coming from the oven.
'Ron, do you know where we are?' Hermione asked.
'Of course, I do,' I said. 'We're at home, at my house.'
She looked at me the way she does when I suggest playing Gobstones instead of writing up our Herbology practicals.
'Ron,' she said patiently. 'We're in the Room of Requirements again.'
Yeah, okay, Hermione's smart, I'm not. Blah blah blah. It's nothing I've not heard before, and to tell you the truth, it's nothing I've not said to myself. It's just so annoying that she always gets these things before me. On top of all the stress of everything else, I think I may have snapped a bit at her.
'No kidding?' I said. 'Wow, Hermione, how on earth did you work that out? I thought for a moment that I'd actually come home and that it was the middle of the day again. Why are you always so flaming patronising?'
Okay, maybe more than just a bit.
'Maybe if you weren't so idiotic all the time, I wouldn't have to be? How am I supposed to tell when you're joking and when you're being serious? You never take anything seriously!'
'Then just assume that I'm never serious!' I yelled. 'Why is that so hard to work out? Not everyone goes around with a rod stuck up their bum like you do.'
'Just because I think before I speak-'
'Just because you're boring and a pain in the-'
Mum'd kill me if she ever heard what I said right then. Suffice to say that was just the start of another in the long line of Granger/Weasley arguments. Not something I really want to talk about, to be honest...