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Chapter 15: The Unexpected Outcome
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The room seemed to have gone a deathly cold. If Hermione had been in her right mind, she would have wondered what happened to her thermometer. But Hermione was staring, transfixed, at the paralyzing images in front of her. Her eyes were huge, so big she wasn't sure what was keeping her lids up. She couldn't tear her eyes away from the dreadful images displayed on her wall.
She had never seen herself act like such a child. She wasn't a child. She was an adult. And it was scaring her. What was wrong with her? Why in merlin's good name was she acting like this? She wasn't exactly sure if she wanted to know the answer. What curse would make you want to kiss your ex-boyfriend, then ruin the leaning tower of Pisa?
Hermione watched, her gaze unyielding, as Ron pulled her into his strong arms and kissed her. A warmth spread over her body as she watched him kiss her. She shivered, remembering how it had felt to be gathered in his arms, pressed against his warm chest, his lips moving perfectly with hers. That she could remember.
She had to admit, it was a good kiss. She'd never actually watched Ron kiss her, but now she knew why she enjoyed it so much. It wasn't a sloppy or dirty kiss. It was warm, and longing, and passionate. It was Romeo and Juliet in a way, almost a goodbye kiss, or 'until we meet again'. It wasn't a kiss purely for the purpose of kissing someone, it was a kiss that, Hermione knew, was out of love.
Hermione drew her blanket closer to her body. She watched herself push Ron back, watched him stagger backwards with a look of pure confusion on his face. She bit her lip. She didn't like the fact that Ron's face was hurt because of her. She'd hurt him enough already. Hermione didn't want to hurt him anymore, not at all. She felt he'd suffered enough.
Then, the picture of Ron kissing Alyssa was conjured into her mind. The mental picture of her trashed living room appeared, along with the feeling in the pit of her stomach when Ron had kissed Alyssa, the feeling of pure desolation, of hopelessness, of no purpose, of sobbing and tears and of wanting to curl up into a tiny ball on the floor and wail, never uncurling herself, much like the child Harry had described from Kings Cross Station when he had almost died. Hermione felt the tears slowly inching into her eyes. She turned back to Ginny, positive that anything was better then this train of thought.
“What happened to me?” Hermione asked, her voice not betraying her desperateness. It was calm, more calm then Hermione felt. She had always been good at that.
“Cheering charm.” Ginny said, her eyes not leaving the floor of Hermione's room.
“Who cast it on me?” questioned Hermione's unemotional voice.
“Ron.” Ginny returned. “You were acting less then generous, and he wanted you to be more cheerful on your date.”
“Why did I act that way?” Hermione looked up, surprised. “Cheering charms aren't supposed to make you forget yourself, they're supposed to make you more cheerful!”
Ginny pointed to the piece of wall the date had just been playing on.
“Think back,” she said, “to the very beginning.”
Hermione had arrived in Italy, then gone to... a bar. Her face paled.
“Oh no. Cheering charms mixed with alcohol can result in loss of knowledge, dangerous and slash or terrible ideas, and a different span of emotions besides just 'cheerful', all which are multiplied to create a very emotionally charged person.”
“Copied directly from 'Standard Book of Spells, grade 3.” Ginny responded in an uncanny imitation of Snape.
Hermione gave her a look.
“Ron also over-cast the charm.” Ginny said, dropping the playfulness.
Hermione didn't speak. She sat there, on the bed, unmoving for a long time. Ginny was staring at her, looking apprehensive.
“Hermione?” she finally said.
Hermione, at the sound of her name, got out of the bed faster then Ginny had ever seen her and started to the door.
“Where are you going?” Ginny cried, running out of the room after her.
“To the fireplace!” Hermione called back.
“Because if I apparate I'm almost positive I'll splinch myself.”
“Hermione, where are you flooing to?” Ginny had caught up to her friend.
“Your place.” Hermione answered.
“Why? Are you going to beat the crap out of my brother?”
“No.” Hermione said, fiddling with the powder. “I'm going to apologize.”
Ginny stood there, mouth open for a few seconds, as if waiting for Hermione to laugh and call 'just kidding!' When it became apparent, however, that Hermione had not been kidding, Ginny immediately started to protest.
“Apologize for what?” she asked, incredulous.
“Well, when he kissed me he was just doing my bidding. I asked him to kiss me, and he did to fix the tower. He was just doing the right thing.”
“Yes, but he put you under the charm that made you want to eat the leaning tower of Pisa in the first place! How can you be sorry?”
“Would you rather I be angry?” Hermione asked.
“Well, no, but-!”
Hermione stepped into the fireplace and flooed over to Ginny's flat.
“Hermione? What're you doing here?” asked Harry, who was sitting on the edge of the couch.
“I've come to see Ron.” Hermione replied.
Harry jumped off of the couch and bounded over to the stairs.
“Don't kill him, Hermione! He's sorry, he really is!”
“Move out of the way, Harry.” Hermione said, attempting to push him aside.
“Harry, you can move. Hermione doesn't want to go murder Ron. She wants to apologize.” said Ginny's slightly sarcastic voice. Harry looked at Hermione oddly.
“Apologize?” he repeated, sounding slightly faint.
“Third door on the left, Hermione.” Ginny told her.
“Right.” Hermione said. She dashed up the steps two at a time and burst into Ron's room. His nose was pressed up against the glass, and he was looking at the stars. Hermione was momentarily breathless at him moonlit face, for the room had no other means of light.
“Ron.” she said softly, not knowing what else to say. He turned to her, his eyes wide.
“Hi.” he said.
They both stood there in silence for a few moments. Then they both spoke at the same time.
“I'm really, really sorry, Hermione, I didn't mean for this all to happen. It was so stupid, and no offense, but you were making everyone's life a living hell and-”
Both cut off short as the other spoke. More silence.
And then, Hermione had run up to Ron and was kissing him square on the lips. He kissed her slowly, then more eager, thrilled at the turn out of her appearance. She knew that he felt thrilled to be kissed by her in her right mind, not because she was under a spell. However, as Ron deepened the kiss, Hermione took a step back, away from him. He gave her a strangled looked as he too stepped back.
“What was that about?” he hissed.
“That was my apology.” Hermione answered, just as stiff as she had been before. “I felt as though you deserve the kiss. But savor it, Ron. Because you might not ever get another.”
Ron frowned at Hermione, his hand subconsciously lifting to his lip. Hermione walked over to the door, then turned around.
“I'm still angry, you know.” she said. “You made a total fool of me. Before, I was heartbroken. I was hopelessly sad. But now, Ron, I'm pissed. So watch your back.”
As Hermione spoke, she realized how angry she was. At Ron, at the game show, at Flitwick for teaching her ex that damned charm... and at herself. She'd wasted too much time crying. It wasn't like her. She wasn't the damsel in distress. She was smart, confident, independent Hermione Granger. So she'd lost someone she loved since she was 11 or 12. Big whoop. She'd acted like an idiot. And that was all going to change.
For the first time in a long time, she strode out of the room with a confident bounce in her steps. She smiled as she passed a whispering Harry and Ginny on her way to the fireplace. Then she drew back, smiled, and, ignoring the surprised looks on her best friends' faces, apparated home. The fact that she didn't splinch herself made Hermione feel more in control then before.
A piercing scream could be heard through all of the windows of the houses on the street. Neighbors impatiently looked out their windows down the street. What they didn't think of was to look into the bedroom inside of 456 Feather Lane, where Hermione Granger was yelling her lungs out. You might think she'd seen a death eater coming out of her fireplace, or Lord Voldemort being re-born. You might think she'd heard that she was going to be murdered, or seen someone being tortured to death. However, what she was screaming about was much, much worse.
“A nightclub!” Hermione yelled. “A Weird Sister's concert at a NIGHTCLUB?”
Ginny nodded, and a chair across the room burst into flame.
“Aqumenti!” she yelled, brandishing her wand toward the chair. She turned back to Hermione. She hadn't even noticed the small explosion caused by her magic. Her hands were still on her book, which she had been reading when Ginny had bounced out of the fireplace and announced that Hermione would be heading to a nightclub with Ron for the next date of 'The Perfect Match'. Hermione had stayed in bed all day, waiting for Ginny to come with the news. Now, she wanted Ginny to go right back into that fireplace and take the date idea with her.
“Hermione,” Ginny started angrily. “Please! Control yourself, and your magic!”
Hermione, however, did not hear this either. She was concentrating on breathing, attempting to forget the fact that in four hours time Ginny would have her forced into a slutty dress with virtually no fabric.
“Er- Hermione. Please listen.” Ginny begged. When her friend didn't answer, she tugged at the fringe of the lime green top she was wearing, fidgeting with her outfit.
“Hermione, I've picked out your dress!” Ginny tried.
Another loud scream echoed through the house.
“It's not that bad, I swear!” Ginny said. “And you sound like the ten year old in the muggle movie I saw about beauty contests.”
This got Hermione's attention.
“Yes, well, if I go to a night club I'm going to have to watch people do a strip-tease just like she did in that god damn movie!”
“It's a nightclub, Hermione, not a strip joint. All you'll have to do is dance.”
Hermione moaned, burrowing her face in a pillow.
“Hermione, please get up.” Ginny said softly. “Please?”
“No.” Hermione said into her pillow.
“Hermione, get up, please!” Ginny said, slightly more urgently. “GET UP HERMIONE!” she yelled when she got no response. When Hermione didn't move, Ginny screamed, “If you don't get up and let me dress you and do your makeupright now, I'm going to go home and make Harry get me pregnant out of wedlock, then call off the wedding and force you to tell my mum!”
Hermione leaped out of bed and walked over to the mirror in two strides, taking out her toothbrush and starting to brush her teeth. Ginny breathed a sigh of relief and followed her into the bathroom.
“Check.” Hermione said, smoothing the fabric of her black, curve hugging halter dress, which Ginny had gotten her into using the same threat she had to get Hermione out of bed.
“Smoky eyeliner/eye shadow combo?”
“Er- I think so.”
“Check, then. Ankle breaking high heeled shoes?”
“Oh, yes.” Hermione grumbled.
“Brilliant.” Ginny said, eying the outfit fondly. She took a piece of Hermione's now silky straight hair in her hands and tugged on it lightly, then with an excited squeal ran over to the window. It was nearly dark out. Ginny grabbed the rose from a passing owl, then went back over to Hermione and handed it to her.
“Have fun!” she grinned as the rose glowed blue and Hermione was transported away from her and into a nightclub.
Ron Weasley generally avoided anything that had to do with dancing. He was not at all graceful on his feet. Now, in this club pounding with loud music and dancing shoes, Ron was totally out of his element. He sat uncomfortably at the corner of the bar, not really settled into his seat, waiting to bolt any time he could. He peered through the crowd, wondering if he would see anyone he knew. He didn't. He swept over the building once again, then saw Hermione walking towards him, head down, arms covering herself in an attempt to have her outfit remain hidden. Unfortunately for her (but not unfortunately for Ron), all it was doing was giving her more cleavage then Ginny's push up bra had, the exact thing she was trying to hide. Ron rearranged his features into an easy smile as he sipped his non-alcoholic tonic water. Hermione spotted Ron the walked slowly up to him, her face not so easygoing as Ron would've liked.
“Hi.” she said, sitting down at the bar. Ron noticed a few other men in the crowd looking at Hermione with great interest on their faces.
“Hey.” Ron grinned, looking away from the other men and attempting to show them that Hermione was his.
“One butterbeer, please.” Hermione said, looking tired already. “What're you drinking?”
“Lime flavored tonic water.” Ron said proudly, puffing out his chest.
“With gin?” Hermione asked, taking a sip of her drink.
“No...” Ron said. “With nothing!”
“I'm impressed.” Hermione allowed.
“I'm trying not to drink. I was out of control before.”
“It happens to everyone.” Hermione sighed. “my cousin Laura had a period where all she would drink was some sort of alcohol, until her friends stepped in and told her that she was way over-doing things, and that she needed to back down.”
“Oh.” Ron said, honestly not knowing how to respond to this comment. In truth, he hadn't even known Hermione had a cousin Laura.
“However,” Hermione said, her tone more businesslike. “If you want a butterbeer, I wouldn't oppose. I think you can afford to enjoy yourself in moderation.”
“Alright then.” Ron said, growing more cheery by the second. “One butterbeer.”
He turned to Hermione.
“How come you're allowing me to enjoy myself?”
“Because I'm too tired to think about why you shouldn't.” Hermione admitted. “I was in bed reading textbooks all morning, and I'm surprisingly exhausted.”
“Well, do you want to da-?”
Ron's question was drowned out by a loud scream from the crowd. He turned around to see the Weird Sisters filing onto the stage. He wrinkled his nose. He wasn't a big fan of the guitar banging band, and he wondered why everyone else was. They were so annoying, and their lyrics were pointless.
Ron realized then that he sounded an awful lot like Hermione.
“I hate this band.” Hermione was moaning, stirring her finger in her butterbeer. She drew it out, then licked the drink off. “Why are they called 'Weird Sisters'? It looks like they're all boys with uncommonly long hair.”
“I know.” Ron nodded. Both scowled at the band. Then they looked at each other in surprise, and laughed. Hermione took a sip of her drink, then set it down.
“Do you want to try to be friends again?” she asked quickly.
“Friends?” Ron said, his voice higher then normal.
“Well, we did it for 6 years of our life. I suppose it would be okay to try it again. There's no law we have to hate each other after we break up, right?”
Somehow, this was not what Ron had envisioned the game show doing for him, but he guessed it was a start.
“Sure.” he agreed. “Friends.”
Hermione seemed sightly more cheery, so Ron decided not to add the 'With Benefits?' portion to the conversation.
“Oh, sweet merlin.” Hermione said, clutching her head. “If I'm going to wake up with a pounding headache tomorrow morning, I may as well enjoy myself.”
She turned to the bar tender.
“Two firewhiskeys, please.”
She kept one drink to herself, handing the other to Ron.
“To friendship.” she said.
“To friendship.” Ron echoed. With a clang of their glasses, they downed their drinks.
A loud scream could be heard through the houses of Walsh street. The residents all groaned, clutching their heads, and looking at each other over their breakfasts. However, no one got such a headache from the scream as Ron. He sat up immediately, clutching his head and roaring,
“What the HELL is going on?”
The screaming continued, right in his ear. Ron looked to his left. Hermione was sitting in the bed next to him, her eyes wide with shock. He yelped, then scurried out from the covers, hiding on the other side.
“Ron? Ron? What happened last night? Why am I in your bed? WHAT happened last night? What did we do?” her eyes widened in shock. “Ron- did we...”
“I don't know!” Ron exclaimed, still clutching his head.
Hermione swore, slumping back against the pillows. She looked down at herself. Her clothes were still in tact, and besides the fact that her shoes were off, her outfit remained untouched.
“I don't think we did.” Hermione breathed in relief. At her sigh, Ron, also fully clothed, got back into the bed. They both sat there for a moment, then Hermione got out of the bed and attempted to put her right shoe on, hopping around the room in search of her coat.
“What's going on?” Ginny asked, bursting into the room. “I heard someone... scream.” Her eyes widened at the sight of Hermione.
“I'm looking for my coat!” Hermione said, ignoring Ginny's expression.
“Draped on the back of the chair.” Ginny said, pointing, then backing out of the room. Hermione hopped over to the chair and grabbed her coat, then hopped to the door.
“Bye, Ron.” she said, shutting it. Then she rushed down the stairs and into the kitchen, where Harry and Ginny were sipping coffee looking equally disturbed.
“Close your mouths. Nothing happened.” Hermione snapped. “I think.” she added in a undertone.
“Good morning, Hermione.” Harry said mechanically. Ginny sighed, then put her hand to her head as if she couldn't stand her fiancée's stupidity.
“Bye, Harry. Bye, Ginny.” Hermione said, putting her left shoe on and hopping out of the kitchen. As soon as she got home, made herself a cup of tea and collapsed on the couch, Hermione vowed never to enter a nightclub again.