Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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I wish I did.
A Matter of Time
It was a Sunday night in the Gryffindor dormitory and Ron was playing chess with himself. Hermione was reading a thick book and Harry was trying to finish a History of Magic essay due on the next day.
Hermione made a sound between a sigh and a snort and looked up at Ron. "Ron, what is the point of playing chess with yourself? You'll win anyway, and you could be doing something useful, for a change."
Ron heaved a huge fake sigh. "My dear Hermione, the point's not winning, it's trying to recognise the way you strategise. Don't you have some book to read?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "If you were more observant, you would realise I am reading right now!" she said scathingly. "Honestly, not only have you got the emotional range of a teaspoon, your vision goes only as far as your nose."
Ron frowned and changed the subject. "What're you reading, anyway?" he enquired. "Hogwarts, a History? Really Hermione, you've read that a million times."
Hermione huffed. "I'm reading the Potions book that Snape set us. You do realise that an essay on this book is due in two days, don't you?"
Ron looked up in surprise. "Really?"
Hermione sighed, rolled her eyes, and looked back down to her book.
Harry watched the two of them out of the corner of his eye. I have to get them together, he thought. There's only half a school year left until we leave, and those two still don't realise.
He stared down at his History of Magic essay. "Five more inches..." he muttered. Harry had no idea why he had to do a three and a half foot essay on "The 1436 Rebellion of the Czech Werewolf Society". He heard Hermione come up behind him and turned his head.
"Just write a short evaluation at the end," she suggested kindly, "Binns likes that. He said it makes the essay more complete."
Harry blinked. "When did he say that?" he asked, annoyed that for so many years he could have added an evaluation and gotten a better mark.
Hermione sighed. "Third year. You two had better start listening, N.E.W.Ts are coming up."
Harry nodded and scribbled a few words down as Hermione sank into her armchair next to the fire.
"Remember third year, when I had to use a Time-Turner? I'm starting to regret not keeping it. It would be so exhilarating to go back in time again." she thought aloud.
Ron sighed. "If only life were like that, Hermione..."
Ron had come over to sit next to her. Harry found it mildly amusing to watch them as they sat together. It'd make a pretty good family portrait... he thought, and finished the essay with a flourish.
"I'll leave you two lovebirds at it, I'm going to sleep. Night."
Ron's ears reddened at Harry's choice of words and Hermione blushed, leaving Harry feeling quite satisfied with his day's work.
Harry tiptoed across the Common Room and ran down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Dumbledore had indeed elaborated in the decorations this winter; sparkling ice sculptures added to the decor of the large Christmas trees. Holly and mistletoe was hung all around the entrances (unfortunately for Harry, he was caught under the door with a first-year Slytherin girl) and white confetti (or was it snow?) lazily drifted down, landing in people's hair, in drinks, on meals, and on Neville's Mimbulus Mimbletonia. Harry munched on a piece of toast and watched as Ginny came into the Hall.
"Mo-or-orning," she yawned, and watched with mild interest as the Mimbulus Mimbletonia squirted out a jet of slime when a thick white clump landed on it. "Where's Hermione and my abominable brother?" she asked as an afterthought.
Harry smirked. "Last time I saw them, they were asleep next to each other on a couch in the Common Room. I didn't quite want to disturb them..."
Ginny giggled and chewed on a slice of bacon. "It's really stupid, you know. They know they like each other but they're too proud to admit it." she said through the meat.
Harry frowned. "When are they going to realise, though? It'd be horrible if the school year ended and they still weren't together. They've got to get together SOONER or later!" The last bit was accompanied with a hearty bang of Harry's fist on the table.
Ginny blinked as plates shuddered in the aftermath of the small explosion. "Well," she considered, "I suppose it's all in a matter of time."
Hermione and Ron had been quite enraged that Harry had left them together on the same couch. Harry had to duck to avoid a stream of red sparks that flowed out of a temperamental Hermione's wand. Ron and Hermone glared at Harry for the rest of the day, that is, until that evening. A chattering crowd was gathered around a bulletin board near Gryffindor Tower. Harry, Ron, and Hermione waited unil the crowd had dispersed to read the announcement, and, when he saw it, Ron went pale.
Dress robes are compulsory. Any colour is fine, however, the Headmaster begs for the seventh year young man who wore bright orange and the sixth year young lady in neon green at our last Yule Ball to wear the same dress robes.
Ron turned to the other two. "Another Yule Ball?" he asked, flabbergasted. "Dear God, no!"
Harry gave a small smile. "Er... Ron, I don't think you're going to like what I'm asking you, but... " Harry hesitated.
"What? You know you can trust me!" Ron said.
Harry continued in a rush. "Dotinkicangoballwitorister?"
Hermione sighed as she looked at Ron's bewildered face, then translated for Harry. "He said, do you think he can go to the Ball with your sister?"
Ron blinked, as if digesting the information. "We-ell... do you promise that you won't hurt her, make her sad, step on her feet while you dance, and look at other girls?"
"YOU BLOODY WILL PROMISE BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T I WILL PERSONALLY MAKE SURE YOUR BODY IS FOUND MANGLED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE!" Ron finally exploded.
Hermione looked grumpy. "You should go by what I said at the end of fourth year's Yule Ball, Ron." she muttered enigmatically, and then entered the portrait hole.
Ron turned to Harry. "What does she mean?" he asked, looking confused.
Harry grinned and made his way past Ron, leaving him in a very puzzled state of mind.
Ron stayed awake that night. What does she mean? he thought, and rolled over in his bed again. Let me see, he mused...
~~*^After the Yule Ball^*~~
Ron climbed into the Common Room, feeling thoroughly annoyed. Herm - own - ninny, was it? He should just give Krum a good curse, and then see how much he could hit on Hermione! Speak of the devil...
"Fraternising with the enemy, is it?" Hermione said coldly. Ron had no idea of what to say, gulped and came up with a biting insult for Krum.
"You might as well have been going with Malfoy! What if he had been trying to get valuable information from you about Harry, eh?"
Hermione stood up, fury raging in her eyes.
"Well, if you don't like it, you know what the solution is, don't you?" Hermione yelled. In some remote part of Ron's mind, he was thinking that Hermione actually looked quite pretty the way her hair was coming out of its bun.
"Oh yeah? What's that?" he yelled back, feeling a bit miffed, as Harry had just come into the room.
"Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, not as a last resort!"
The last comment scalded Ron so much it reduced him to gaping like a goldfish as Hermione stormed up the girl's staircase.
Ron sat bolt upright. Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, Ron's mind whirled. Ask me before someone else does, ASK ME.
Ron gasped. She wanted him to ask her. SHE WANTED HIM TO ASK HER. SHE WANTED HIM TO ASK HER!!
If it wasn't that it was late at night, Ron would have jumped for joy.
Hermione sniffed. She suppposed there was no way he could have understood her cryptic meaning...
She looked out of the window. The sloping green lawn of Hogwarts was white. Pure white, covered in snow. She faintly smiled. Snow. How she loved it.
Hermione slipped into her robes and picked up her bag. It was only five fifty, so there was no way anyone could be up right now. Quietly, she tickled the pear in the portrait and tripped (the key word there is tripped)into the kitchens.
She groaned. There was Ron, looking at her strangely. But a nice kind of strangely. Musn't get my hopes up. Hermione thought, still in an indignified heap on the tiles.
"Are you all right?" Ron finally had the sense to ask.
"What does it look like?" Hermione snapped. Suddenly she felt irritated. Here, in front of her, was the one person in the school she wanted to go to the ball with, and he was oblivious to the fact that she was in a heap, at his FEET!
Grunting, she got up and dusted herself off. Ron held out a buttered slice of bread, looking much like a person holding out a peace offering. Hermione begrudgingly took the bread and nibbled at it.
"Why're you up so early?" Ron asked, scrutinizing her. She felt like he was trying to read the depths of her soul.
"I should ask you that question. You NEVER get up at six in the morning. So what, pray tell, are you doing up so early?" she retorted.
He grinned. "To ask one of my very dear friends to go to the ball with me, and I'm not gay, so I'm not talking about Harry. Well?"
Hermione almost choked. I can't blow my cover. Okay, look like you're thinking about it...
"Er... um... alright."
Ron laughed. "I was hoping so."
Hermione continued on her meager breakfast. An uncomfortable silence ensued until Hermione suddenly asked, "What colour robes are you wearing?" and blushed, hoping she didn't sound much like *shudder* Parvati or *shudder* Lavender.
Ron looked at her, bewildered, and replied idiotically, "Um, I think I'll wear my er, bottle-green ones. Why?"
Hermione groaned and sank down into her chair. Okay, maybe he isn't the one person in the school I want to go with!
On the day of the ball, Ginny and Hermione left the boys at Hagrid's hut six hours before the ball. Ron noticed Harry flushing as he looked at Ginny, and vowed to throw him in the lake after the ball.
"Are you going to the ball, Hagrid?" Harry asked. Ron could see that Harry was concealing a snicker.
"Er, Olympe an' me are goin' an', er, more tea?" Hagrid answered, going pink. He poured some more tea and gave them a stack of his new meal, pancakes. Harry and Ron wisely left them, as they didn't exactly want to show up for the ball with broken teeth-Hagrid seemed to have a tendency to cook things until they were as hard as rock.
The two left soon after. They roamed the halls doing pretty much nothing until it was half an hour til the ball. Slipping into the dormitories, Ron was disappointed to see that the other three boys were also there.
Ron changed into his new black robes. His mother had sent them when she had heard he was going to the ball with Hermione in green robes that were a bit (Well, more than a bit-a few inches?) short. he raked a hand through his hair and nervously questioned Harry, "D'you think I look alright? Because Hermione's a tad fussy, you know..."
Harry grinned and straightened out his robes. "She'll faint just looking at you, Ron."
Ron silently nodded. As the two walked out to the common room together, Harry murmured quietly, "You really love her, don't you?"
Ron turned his head a little and saw a snowflake drift past the window.
"I do love her," Ron whispered, "I do love her."
Yay! Okay, this is going to be a two piece fic. Don't ask for more if you like it by the second chapter, cause you ain't getting it. : D