Chapter 1 : Smiling
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Disclaimer: JK owns all. I worship her. That makes me no way connected to her money, however. Let us keep it that way.
Summary: A tragic fic. I will say no more.
”We could have all been killed - or worse, expelled.”
Ron watched in astonishment as the brunette turned her small body sharply and slammed her dormitory door so hard that it shook for a few moments.
That little girl has strength! Ron thought to himself as he exchanged a look with Harry.
“It likes the dark and damp-”
“So light a fire!”
“Yes-of course-but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
A moment later, after some bellowing, Hermione whipped out her wand and a set of bluebell sparks illuminated her face and gave her a sort of Godly glow...
Ron backed into the sink of the girl’s toilets, not breathing properly.
Her face, her milky skin was covered in black fur. Her fudge brown eyes had gone a glowy yellow colour, and her ears - oh, perfect dainty ears!- were gone, replaced by a set of pointed yellow ones that poked through her hair.
Hermione lay utterly, dreadfully still. Her glassy eyes stared just beyond Ron’s shoulder, an expression of mingled shock and fear molded onto her features.
“Hermione!” Ron groaned.
Ron had never seen anything as beautiful as that grin, never heard anything as refreshing as that shrill scream, “You solved it! You solved it!”
Hermione came out, but she wasn’t carrying an owl. She had in her arms, like a precious baby, the enormous ginger cat.
Ron couldn’t believe her!
How could she buy that? How could she buy an evil ginger cat that was half of her size!?
She grinned at them proudly, as if she were carrying some sort of trophy.
My, Ron thought distractedly, does she have pearly teeth...
As Percy neared, Hermione crouched low in her roomy purple sleeping bag, and fluttered her eyes a few times - like butterflies, thought Ron - before feigning sleep. He kept one eye open, however. Watching her was so...fascinating!
Hermione spilled out the remains of Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and watched, concerned, as Harry’s face screwed up. Ron, however badly he felt for Harry, was watching her. Her brown eyes looked to be slightly moist as she watched Harry try to piece back together his broom fruitlessly. He watched her hands fidget, as if for once, she didn’t know what to do with them. He watched her smile reassuringly to Harry and say that of course, he would be able to get a new broom soon and that he would be fine.
Hermione went a shade of red as Harry asked whether she’d gone to the Quidditch Match.
“Of course I did!” she said, sounding impatient and frantic, going on to talk about her homework that needed finishing.
Ron watched her grudgingly. He was still angry with her over the Firebolt issue, but he couldn’t help feeling a teensy bit sorry for her. He’d never seen her look so entirely haunted.
Ron saw Hermione trembling, rearing for a fight, her white cheeks flushing to a terrified crimson colour. He wished that he could help her.
As Sirius Black tightened his hold on Harry, she took a breath, and raised her leg into a swift and heavy kick, aimed at Black. He grunted and let go of Harry.
You go, Hermione! he cheered inside his head.
Ron watched from the shadows as Hermione tried to talk Harry into going into Hogsmeade with her and Ron. He felt his face burn as Harry finally said “I’ll come, but I’m not meeting Ron, and I’m wearing my Invisibility Cloak.”
Hermione looked thoroughly angry. What could that possibly mean? Ron knew Hermione - he knew that she wished they would be friends again. But, if it ever came to a point where she had to choose...who would it be?
Ron gaped at Hermione as she stormed up the girl’s staircases after announcing that indeed, she really did have a date for the Yule Ball.
What is wrong with her? Who could she be going with? Who wouldn’t she tell me about? Who could she trust not to spill anything to me?
Do I even know this guy?
And, on the arm of Viktor Krum.
I cannot believe my eyes.
“Hasn’t he asked you to call him Vicky yet?”
Hermione’s eyebrows shot up (something which infuriated Ron even further - her eyebrows were newly thin, and had a shape, and all because of stupid Krum!)
“Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!”
Ron’s face changed colours so rapidly that he felt he would pass out from the shock as he watched Hermione’s lovely form stump up to her dormitory. He could see the redness of her neck, and he thought he heard something like a muffled sob before a door slammed shut.
How those eyes looked when she was shocked...surprised...angry...sad...
Always fiery and bright. Always brilliant.
Ron’s insides were writhing and coiling in jealousy as he watched, as if in slow motion, the pink pout of Hermione’s lips touch Harry’s cheek.
He had to overcome the urge to grab his best friend and pummel him.
Ron froze as he felt Hermione’s lips touch his cheek.
He touched the spot gently where she had kissed him and his eyes widened. Had her lips burned him? But no, they couldn’t have. It must have been that his cheeks were burning already.
Why did he all of a sudden feel sicker than ever?
“Of course you’re not.” Hermione’s eyes didn’t lift from the letter she was writing.
“How do you know?” Ron said very sharply.
How would she know? Did she and Harry -
“Because Cho spends half her time crying these days,” she replied.
Hermione entered Number 12 Grimmauld Place and Ron saw her from down the hallway. His heart jumped annoyingly to his throat. She was pink and slightly covered in snow - and all of a sudden, all he wanted was nothing better than to be able to hold her, by the fireplace, keeping her warm and safe, with steaming mugs of cocoa.
Ron scrunched up his nose in frustration. However many ways she could have meant “How unusual” was absolutely endless!
What did “unusual” mean in Girl?
Haha! Harry looks funny! All...weird! Haha!
Hey, who’s that? What’s the matter with her?
Oh, its Hermione! I wonder if she knows that her skirt isn’t on proper! Haha!
Ron made a soft clip-clopping noise with his tongue and laughed as Umbridge sat straight up in her hospital bed a few feet away.
As he turned back to the group, still grinning, Hermione caught his eye. She had been watching him. Their eyes met and held for a moment, before she blushed and looked at her hands.
“See you soon, mate.”
“Very soon, we promise.” said Hermione earnestly. Ron glanced at her as Harry began to leave with the Dursleys, and she tried to sneak a look at him, but instead caught his gaze. She didn’t blush this time. She didn’t look away, and she didn’t blink.
But she wasn’t staring him down.
It was...nice. A nice gaze.
Worth more to Ron than words could ever describe.
He’d always thought she was remarkable. Her precise speech. Her intricate little fingers. Her huge brain. Her uncontrollable hair.
Everything about her was wrong. She had large brown eyes but stubby little lashes. She was tanned, but that didn’t stop the freckles from spraying her every summer. Her teeth had been big, but her lips had been small and dainty.
She was all wrong.
And yet, she was graceful. She was, in her way, beautiful. And she was perfect.
She was everything that Ron wasn’t.
Ron sighed in frustration as he crunched up yet another piece of parchment and threw it in the wastebasket (which had learned not to burp since the last summer.)
“Can’t figure out what to write to Harry?” Hermione’s voice floated from the door, and he whirred around.
“Right. Yeah,” he said quickly, his face beginning to burn. Its not as if she were wrong...but the cause for difficulty in his letter wasn’t exactly what to write to Harry, but how to write it. He didn’t say this, of course, because he was definitely not discussing that topic with her. No way.
She leaned on the doorframe with her arms crossed and surveyed his bedroom, which, for now, was all to himself.
“This place is a right mess, isn’t it?” she half-grinned, and he smiled sheepishly, “Well. Yeah.”
She looked at him oddly, “Ron. What’s the matter with you these days? Did Harry take all of your two-syllable-and-up vocabulary with him to the Dursleys?”
Ron’s blush deepened at this comment, but he couldn’t blame her. He hadn’t spoken much since they’d arrived at the Black home.
“Well...I...I dunno, Hermione. What’s there to talk about?”
“How about everything?” she said, sounding slightly irritated, “Ron, Harry isn’t the only person that you can talk to, you know. And it’s not like you can tell Harry much right now, the mail’s being intercepted all over the place.”
“Everything like what?”
Hermione rolled her eyes as she bent down to pick up a gum wrapper. She tossed it into the waste basket and continued to scout silently for garbage on Ron’s floor.
Aw. She was trying to help him clean his room. Ron’s heart went ker-thud.
Slightly nervous, Ron sat down on the hardwood floor and began sorting through his clean and dirty clothing.
After a few minutes of silence, Hermione spoke.
“I don’t know how Harry deals with it.”
“Everything. Not having parents, or a family except for those horrible Guardians of his... I don’t know. Fighting Voldemort every time he has a chance to...and surviving. And losing everybody he loves...”
She and Ron locked eyes, and then he continued to sort, “Yeah,” he said, “Yeah, I don’t know what I’d do if something happened and I lost Mum, or Dad...or Harry, or the twins...or Ginny...”
Hermione put her hand close to his. He took a breath and grabbed it gently and looked straight into her wide eyes, “and you. Hermione.”
Her eyes brimmed with tears and she looked at him, searching for a sign... a sign of anything, anything to explain what he was trying to say.
He leaned toward her and tentatively brushed his lips on hers.
After a moment, he pulled back. Tears were spilling down her white cheeks, and Ron only wanted to kiss them away.
“Am I really that bad at kissing?” he said lowly, his eyes never leaving hers.
She giggled, wiping her eyes and touching his face, bringing him nearer, “Of course you’re not.”
Ron heard several noises during the night, but just figured Kreacher was harassing his mother again - “How dare the blood traitors continue living in the Noble House of Black when Master is finally dead!”
He awoke in the morning with a smile on his face. After the tremendous event of the evening before, Hermione had stayed up talking with him for several hours, going to bed just before midnight.
He bounded down the stairs with a spring in his step. Not noticing the grim quiet of the crowded kitchen, Ron grabbed his mother in a hug.
“Mum, you look absolutely-”
He froze at the look on her face.
“What is it, Mum?” he said sharply. Somebody...somebody must have been...
“Is it Dad? Harry? The twins, Ginny...? What?”
A hand grasped him on the shoulder as his mother burst into a fit of tears.
He whipped around to stare into the grave eyes of his father.
“Ron, come with me, into the sitting room-”
“No!” shouted Ron angrily, “Tell me what’s going on! Now, Dad!”
“Hermione!” rang a voice shrilly from a corner. Beyond his father, Ron could see a pasty Ginny, slumped up against a wall, shaking madly.
Ron’s voice lowered and quavered dangerously, “What about Hermione?”
His father heaved a terrible sigh and stared his son in the eye, still holding his shoulder.
“There was a silent raid last night. They know where we are, Ron. They’re intent on killing us all off. Its psychological warfare.”
Ron didn’t care about a raid. He didn’t care about the Order. He didn’t care whether he was about to die. Ron didn’t care about a “they.”
“Where is Hermione?” He hissed.
“Ron...she was...she was...”
“THEY KILLED HER!” screamed Ginny, and burst into hysteric tears as Ron’s mother rushed to her daughter and they rocked and sobbed together.
Ron could not speak for what seemed like hours.
Suddenly he croaked, “Its not true. I don’t believe it. Hermione!” he shouted, releasing himself from his father’s grasp and running up the stairs, “Hermione! Hermione, very funny, we’ve all had a laugh. No, really, Hermione, you’ve missed breakfast-”
And, he stopped.
He’d reached for her bedroom door.
He’d turned the knob, he’d entered her room.
He stared in at it.
Stared at the body laying underneath the covers. Still.
“Hermione?” he said hesitantly, stepping forward, “Hermione?”
She still hadn’t moved.
She was completely still.
It was no use.
Ron knew. Ron could tell.
She was dead.
She didn’t have a mark on her, not on her creamy hands, not on her placid neck, not on her dreaming eyelids - not on her smiling lips.
Ron’s knees buckled beneath him, and he was falling...
Ron stared at her.
Ever since they’d first met, he’d never stopped staring at her. In annoyance, in admiration, in awe, in appreciation. In love.
They had set her in a plain black dress (to which he could hear her voice saying “How very tasteful!”) It was surrounded by black roses. He stood beside her parents, Harry, his own parents, and his sister. All with tears running down their cheeks.
Except Ron. He refused to cry.
He spent enough time on his own in private to cry. He didn’t like the idea of exposing himself in front of so many people, sharing himself with so many people.
Sharing her with so many people.
Harry clasped his shoulder and gave a great sniff. They exchanged a look.
Without having to say words, Ron knew exactly what Harry was feeling.
Without having to say words, Harry also knew exactly what Ron was feeling. Without words. Harry knew.
And for the moment, Harry would be the only one who would know. To share his secret. To share her secret.
He took a last look at her before it was time to leave the service.
She was quiet. She was brilliant. She was peaceful.
She was smiling.