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Chapter 8: Distance
Hermione avoided speaking to Ron for the rest of the day until Ginny snapped and asked her what was wrong. Hermione told her and Ginny told her not to be silly. She knew Ginny was right and so apologised to Ron after telling him what had been wrong. He had told her not to worry about those things because it was Hermione he cared about. They ended up falling asleep together in front of the fire.
The rest of the week went by quickly. All their lessons started where they had left off at the end of sixth year and Hermione found that, thankfully, she hadn’t forgotten anything. The only problem with her lessons was the fact that a certain blonde was in every single one of them. She tried not to notice his presence but it wasn’t easy, especially when he sat next to her in Runes. He didn’t speak and he didn’t look at her once but Hermione could feel that he was instantly more relaxed than she had ever seen him with Astoria which worried her slightly.
Malfoy was seen everywhere with Astoria and even turned up to the Gryffindor Quidditch tryouts with her to, as Astoria said, weight up the competition.
“Not that it will be hard to beat them, ey Draco. With a keeper who can’t catch and a seeker who can’t see, it should be a piece of cake.” She had said it loud enough for Hermione to hear but she just ignored it and went back to Professor Harrow’s essay on full human transformations, which had made Hermione think very hard about becoming and animagus. Malfoy hadn’t responded to her comment but just stayed silent. That was how it tended to be with him. He hadn’t said much in the interviews with the prefects and McGonagall or even when they were alone together sorting out the Halloween feast on the Friday. He didn’t make a comment when Ron was picked as keeper and Ginny as a chaser. Demelza had returned to the team and Dean had made the spot for the third chaser. Coote and Peaks returned as beaters and Hermione was glad to see that they had improved over the past year.
Harry now had the whole team in Quidditch practice every Saturday until their first match, which happened on Halloween itself. Hermione spent a lot of her time on her own in the library or in the common room at the desks with all her essays strewn over the table and hourly milkshakes curtsy of Summer. Sometimes Draco would share her table and Hermione felt that she was growing somewhat closer to him through the silence. As weird as she thought it was she found it surprisingly pleasant to sit with him and not have to talk about Quidditch or how his two best friends had obviously been sleeping together which was the two things that seemed to occupy Ron’s mind at that moment. He would not stop going on about it and as much as she loved Ron Hermione found it extraordinarily annoying.
Over the first two months that her and Ron spent at the castle she found that he had begun to distance himself from her. He would spend hours outside of the common room apparently just walking around. Hermione took it upon herself to trust him and not question his strange behaviour but even Harry and Ginny had started to notice a change in him and it started to niggle at her brain. What was Ron doing? Sometimes she would catch Harry looking at her worriedly and then Ginny leaning over towards him angrily. It was this that they were doing the morning of the Quidditch match.
“For Merlin’s sake Harry what is wrong?” she asked slamming closed her Potions book. He had been throwing her worried glances and Ginny had hissed something angrily in the ear.
“Nothing, Hermione, it’s nothing.” Hermione raised her eyebrows at him and Ginny spoke up.
“It’s fine Mione don’t worry about it,” she said smiling at her friend weakly. It was then that Ron decided to walk into the great hall.
He sat next to Hermione. She leaned in to kiss him but he barely responded and pulled away quickly, turning to Harry and talking about something he had seen on the way down to breakfast. Hermione slumped on the bench slightly and felt a weight land in her heart. He had been doing that a lot recently, pulling away, not paying her any attention, pushing her away when she went to hug him. Hermione tended to leave it at the back of her mind, scared that her worst fear was coming true. She shook her head and plastered a fake smile on her face turning to Ginny who looked at her and reached her hand across the table.
“You want to walk me down to the pitch?” Hermione nodded her head and tried to blink back the tears. Ginny said bye and told the boys she would meet them in the changing room.
Almost as soon as they had left the great hall Hermione burst into floods of tears.
“I don’t understand what I’ve don’t wrong?” she said as Ginny pulled her into a hug.
“You haven’t done anything wrong, Ron’s just being an arse.”
“But he doesn’t kiss me anymore, he barely acknowledges I exist some of the time.”
“It will be fine Mione, when Harry’s stopped us working so hard he will have time for you. It will be fine.” Hermione nodded and the pair began to walk out of the castle into the bright sunny morning.
She went to sit in the stands to watch the Griffindor/Hufflepuff game and found her spot shared with Luna.
“Hello Luna,” Hermione said with a sniff as she sat down. There was no one else in the stands yet because they were all still down at breakfast and Hermione was glad of it.
“Oh hello Hermione,” she said smiling at her, her smile faltered, “you look like you have been crying.”
“It’s nothing, just Ron that’s all.”
“Oh yes, sometimes he can be very untactful and big-headed I have found,” Luna said simply.
“Only sometimes?” Hermione said sarcastically. She couldn’t help a small laugh break the surface.
“Have you got the Halloween feast all sorted?” Luna asked.
“Yes, Malfoy made sure all the decorations were in place last night.”
“Draco does seem like a nice boy,” Luna said looking out onto the pitch.
“Well-I- I suppose,” Hermione stuttered.
“He wasn’t like his dad, I could see that when I was at the manor, he felt guilty about what they were doing to me, he even apologised once.”
“Malfoy apologised to you?”
“Yes when he bought me some food, he apologised for what his aunt did. I must say I am glad she is gone.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smile. Luna always said the oddest of things but usually they were all correct observations. Malfoy being nice was one thing she couldn’t quite believe just yet, even if she might have seen it for herself at some points. Then she remembered that she had thought that he had been being nice when she had sat on this very bench two months ago. She shuddered at the thought that Malfoy might be getting to her.
As they sat there people began to file into the stadium and Hermione began to forget all about Malfoy and get excited about the match. She called Summer and had her bring her Luna and Neville, who had come to sit with them, some hotdogs. The players came out onto the pitch and a loud cheer went up for harry. But the girl sitting behind Hermione didn’t scream for Harry she screamed for Ron. Hermione twisted to see Lavender sitting with Pravati. When she saw Hermione she blushed and started talking to Pravati. Hermione pushed it out of her mind and concentrated on sheering her team on.
The match lasted for around three hours. It that time Ginny scored sixty points, Demelza forty and Dean ten. Hufflepuff had only sixty points. Hermione wanted to put it down the Ron’s good keeping but the problem with that was that the Griffindors rarely let it get down his end. The time was fast approaching twelve and it was then that Harry spotted the snitch. Not many people realised what had happened until he held it up in the air. The Griffindors had won. Loud cheers erupted from the Griffindors and Ravenclaws and the Griffindors rushed onto the pitch.
Hermione found Ginny first and hugged her tightly.
“You won!” she cried.
“I know!” the red head shouted back. Hermione almost jumped on Harry who came over to the pair.
“Well done Harry,” she said, “where’s Ron?”
“He’s over there…” He pointed to where Ron was standing only to trail off when he saw Lavender hugging him tightly. Hermione pushed down the annoyance. She was his friend, she was his friend and she’s saying well done like Hermione had just done to Harry it was no different. She watched as Ron held tightly onto her and then let her go saying he would talk to her later. Hermione walked up to him.
“Well done Ron,” she said going to hug him.
“Yeah I know,” he said brushing her away and turning to Cootes giving him a high five. She turned to look at Ginny who stood mouth wide open staring at her brother. Hermione couldn’t stop the tears rising in her eyes. She didn’t understand this at all. She rushed past Ginny and up to the common room without waiting to hear Harry and Ginny shouting after her. She Brushed past Malfoy in the corridor and slammed the door to her room, collapsing into the bed and bursting into floods of tears.
It must have been hours before there was a knock at her door.
“Hermione, Malfoy said you were in here, can I come in?”
“Sure,” Hermione mumbled. The tears had stopped but the sinking feeling in her heart was still there. Ginny entered the room and lay down on the bed next to Hermione.
“Ron was asking where you were at lunch.”
“I’m sure,” she replied sarcastically.
“I’m being serious. He got all defensive over you when Malfoy came up and asked why you were crying.” Hermione sat up.
“Malfoy asked why I was crying?”
“Yeah he came up to us and said to Ron, ‘I’m surprised you’re here when your girlfriends crying in her bedroom, what did you do this time Weasley?’ I was shocked that he seemed to show such an interest.”
“What did Ron say?” Hermione asked.
“He got up and pushed Malfoy’s chest away and told him that if he had known you were crying then he would be here and not to stick his Ferret nose into other people’s business and if he cared so much about you why wasn’t he here? Malfoy got all flustered, Mione I have never seen him lost for words before. He just turned on his heel and walked away. Then Ron sat down and asked me what was wrong with you. I explained and he glanced at Harry really quickly and had this look of horror on his face.”
“Well what he said to Malfoy wasn’t true was it, he’s not here now is he?”
“Actually he’s standing outside waiting for me to finish telling you what happened.”
Ginny got up and opened the door to reveal a sheepish looking Ron.
“Mione I’m sorry.”
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Ginny said closing the door behind her.
“Mione,” Ron said, “I had no idea you felt like this, I’m so sorry.” Hermione hunched herself up to the headboard and glared at Ron.
“If you tell me that you don’t like Lavender more than me…”
“Of course I don’t like her more than you. Hermione, you know I love you.” he sat on the bed and took her hand in his.
“That’s what you say,” she said fresh tears rising, “but I don’t know if you mean it.”
“Of course I mean it Mione.” He leaned in slowly and kissed her lips gently. Hermione couldn’t help but melt at his touch. He hadn’t kissed her like this for ages.
“I’m sorry,” Ron whispered breaking away.
“I forgive you,” Hermione replied.
“I can’t believe you got some of the Weasley’s fireworks!” one of the prefects squealed as they helped set up bonfire night outside in the grounds.
“Don’t be silly Emma, of course she got the Weasley’s fireworks, she is dating their brother!”
“Oh yeah, right, what’s he like Hermione, George, is he as cute as they say he is.”
“Emma,” Hermione laughed, “you must have seen him around sometime, you should be a sixth year and he left in his sixth year which means you would have been in your third year. Surely you saw what they did to Umbridge.”
“Yeah but I’m in Hufflepuff, we never get to see the people behind it.”
“Oh I wish I had been put in Griffindor,” another girl said, “all the cool people are in Griffindor. Hermione, Harry, Ron and Ginny! In fact I don’t care which house I am in, I wish I was a Weasley!” Hermione laughed as she set the crates that they had been carrying on the floor. She had never heard that one before.
“Ok guys we have an hour, you best go and get your food in you,” Hermione said as she laid out all the crates in a line.
“Are you sure you don’t want us to help?” Emma asked.
“No I have it from here.”
Hermione finished up what she was doing and tightened her cloak around her. The cold November air was getting at her. Using her wand to see in the dark she made her way up to the castle and into the great hall. All she would have to do was to say a spell and the fireworks would start setting themselves off at different intervals. She sat down next to Ginny and listened to the conversation that Neville and Harry were having about the potion lesson they had had earlier when Neville had actually managed to score higher marks than him. Hermione found it quite amusing that without Snape’s book Harry had gone back to his old level of potions, much to Slughorns disappointment.
They ate their dinner and McGonagall stood up and told them that it was time to go outside. Malfoy had been in charge of the bonfire and was glad to see it burning away as they walked out into the grounds. Just before they reached the double doors Ron said something about needing to get something from his trunk and that he would meet them later.
The fireworks display was spectacular and George had even thrown in one that showed Harry killing Voldemort. The student erupted into both applause and laughter when the words ‘Game over for poor Voldy’ flashed into the air. The last but one fire work was a list of the names of the people that died in the battle of Hogwarts sparkling high in the air. She looked around the hold Ron’s hand when Fred name flashed up but he wasn’t there. As the last fire work (a huge dragon) faded out and people started to return to the castle she turned to Ginny.
“Where is Ron?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, “did he ever come back from getting that thing?”
“Maybe he went off to stand with someone else,” Harry shrugged. Hermione nodded but wasn’t convinced. Maybe he was hurt or had got sick. She rushed through the corridors and was the first of the year sevens to file through the portrait.
She walked down the corridor towards the Gryffindor boy’s room and spoke as she was opening it.
“Ron? Are you…” she stopped dead when she saw a horrified look Ron sit up straight from under the covers of his bed and a frightened looking Lavender hurrying to cover herself up from view. Hermione couldn’t breathe. Ron Weasley had cheated on her with Lavender Brown.