Hermione arrived at The Burrow a full five days before Harry, and it was causing Ron no end of grief.
She was with him in much closer proximity, and he was aware that everything in his house served only to show exactly how poor he was. It made him feel awful, especially since she wouldn’t comment on it, being as nice as she always was.
Hermione couldn’t find anything at all to say to Ron that she wanted to over the five days she was there before Harry arrived. She thought his house was the most interesting place she had ever seen and wanted to stay there for ages but instead she knew that after the summer they would be going back to Hogwarts.
It was a relief for both of them when Harry was brought in by Mr Weasley, and Ron particularly enjoyed the story about the Ton Tongue Toffee. They both wanted to ask about Sirius, but neither felt they could, and suddenly, with Harry around, they became aware of a bizarre wish to be alone, though when they had been alone there had been nothing to say.
Ron didn’t know what to think about it. He had never felt a need to be alone but then wanted to be with people when he was alone. It wasn’t like anything he had felt before, and so instead he strained conversations with Harry which seemed to sound quite natural.
Then they came to the Quidditch World Cup.
It was an incredible evening for everyone, the Irish coming through magnificently in the final results, sneaking by with a bare margin as Krum caught the snitch and ended the game on his terms, not theirs.
Ron went all the way back to the tent with Harry, both of them caught up in their own personal replay of the events. Hermione was with them, listening with the sort of bemusement she seemed to greet most Quidditch discussions they both had. Ron loved the expression on her face, the one which plainly said, Men!
That night was a different matter however, when suddenly Hermione was in danger once more, and Ron was suddenly very much aware that whatever it was that had driven him into the Forbidden Forest, then later into the Chamber of Secrets, was back again in full force.
Draco Malfoy, of course, was a jerk about Hermione, but then she didn’t expect anything less. It was sweet of Ron to spring to her defence so quickly, though she wasn’t going to tell him anything about what she thought, especially when they were still in danger.
Harry seemed oblivious to them as he walked through the woods, clearly more concerned with his lost wand, which next to their uncomfortable closeness seemed like such a trivial problem.
Extremely glad to be back at Hogwarts the next day and with another unspoken agreement not to discuss anything between them, things returned to their normal standard, just like always.
And that was another problem, Hermione fumed to herself. The minute they were back in Hogwarts confines, Ron turned straight back into the stupid, immature, idiotic little boy that he always was. She had been wrong to think he was as emotionally able as his wand, he was far less than that, more like a wooden spoon!
Hermione always turned into such a know-it-all when they got back to Hogwarts, Ron decided as he lay in bed trying to be excited about the Triwizard Tournament. He had had a fun enough evening with Harry speculating about what they would do with a thousand galleons, and he had managed not to say anything at all about Hermione.
That night, Harry’s name had come out of the Goblet of Fire, and suddenly Ron knew he had had enough. Outside the common room with Hermione that night, aware that on the other side of the portrait they were preparing a banquet, they had a blazing row, which could probably be heard down in the Hufflepuff common room.
“I don’t think you understand what this means Ronald!” She yelled at him, “Harry could be in serious danger if he goes through with this, and if someone else put his name in the Goblet that means that someone wants him dead!”
Ron was having none of it, “Well that’s clearly wrong because he put his name in that Goblet. He’s just not happy with being the boy who lived, he always has to be the best thing, and next to him no one ever notices his little friend!”
“People notice us as well Ron!” Hermione seemed to be almost crying, “Dumbledore gave you two hundred house points and a Special Award for Services to the School last year!”
“Yeah, but Harry was the one who fought the Basilisk,” He reminded her, “People just think of us as the worthless hangers on!”
Hermione looked like she had been slapped. “That’s all you think we are? All you think I am?” Tears were pouring down her face now, and before he could respond, she threw herself through the portrait hole and ran up to her dormitory.
Ron stayed in the hall for another few minutes, “Why does he ruin everything!” He yelled to no-one, then roughly barged through the crowd and headed for his own dorm, waiting until Harry returned nearly an hour later.
It didn’t get better. Hermione spent a lot of time with Harry, leaving Ron to hang out with his guy friends. His own brothers wouldn’t tell him about the secretive stuff they were doing, and talking to Seamus and Dean just wasn’t the same as Hermione.
She saw him occasionally, usually when she was trying to get him to talk to Harry. He still wasn’t talking though, and sometimes he wondered why, when clearly Hermione would like nothing more than for him to talk to Harry.
On the long nights he sometimes wondered whether he had been wrong all the time, had she always liked Harry? And more than him as well? It didn’t make sense, but maybe that was why she always looked so much happier when he was around.
Hermione cried herself to sleep some nights, tears falling softly down her face, as she thought about Ron, sometimes only feet away from her, but completely unreachable. It was like he was someone else, someone she couldn’t communicate with, and couldn’t even talk to anymore. Was this how their friendship was going to end?
The First Task was heart-stopping. Ron and Hermione sat together in the top rows, watching as Fleur had her robes set on fire, Krum shot the dragon in the eye, and Cedric had half his head set on fire. Then Harry stepped out, looking small and insignificant next to the monstrous dragon, and finally Ron turned to Hermione and spoke.
“I think someone might want Harry dead,” He said, as calmly as if the last few months hadn’t happened.
She gazed at him in disbelief for a few seconds, then started to pummel him, hitting him as much as she could, him trying to hold her off, completely nonplussed. Suddenly they were blown apart as the Firebolt rocketed between them, and Harry was away.
Hermione didn’t talk to Ron much after the first task, she couldn’t bring herself to go near him a lot of the time, given all the time that he was now spending trying to apologise to Harry, and the amount of work she was doing for S.P.E.W. The boys had all but refused to help, and she was finding it hard to concentrate with the worry of the second task coming up, as well as the Yule ball, and still no one had asked her.
“Exkuse me,” A deep voice said above her, and she looked up in shock from her book on elfish rights in the seventeenth century. “I vos vondering if I could talk vith you?”
It took her several long seconds to place the face, but then it hit her like a stunner to the face, “Krum?” She asked.
“I vos vondering,” He seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting his words out, and it wasn’t just the language barrier. Something seemed to be very wrong with him. She motioned for him to sit and moved her own chair round so they were less than a foot apart.
“They tell me that there iz a danze in the vintertime,” He continued, looking pointedly at the floor, “And I am told that as a champion I must have a partner for the dancing.”
She couldn’t see where this was going, after all, he was Victor Krum, and according to Ron and the fan club that followed him everywhere, that meant he could have almost any girl he wanted.
“What’s wrong?” She asked him bluntly.
He finally looked up, and she was struck by how bright his eyes were in the torchlight, “I vould like to know vhether you have a partner for the danze yet.”
The question struck her as even stranger, surely her status wouldn’t effect him? “I don’t have a dance, but I have a friend I think might ask me.” That sounded ridiculous in her head. Like Ron would ever ask her.
“This friend, he has not asked you yet?” Krum seemed surprised by this knowledge.
Hermione shook her head, “Then I vos vondering if you vould like to go to the danze vith me?”
She took a second, then leaned back suddenly, “I think I must have misheard,” Her head was spinning and her heart pounding, was this what the heroines in her favourite novels felt like?
“I vould like to take you to the danze as my partner for the night?”
It didn’t make sense, because it looked like Krum, it sounded like Krum, yet it also seemed like the international Quidditch champion was asking her to go the Yule Ball with her.
“I…well….I think….maybe you should….” She found herself completely speechless suddenly. It was so random, this was Victor Krum, the Quidditch champion, an eighteen year old, and yet he wanted to take her to the Ball.
Her mind suddenly flashed to Ron, who surely would be asking her soon.
“I would love to go with you,” She told him firmly, and was rewarded when his face split into a wide grin, and he leant forward and kissed her hand, just like in a romance novel.
Not that the wonderful sensation lasted. The night of the Yule Ball, after Ron had spent the entire night insulting her date and sulking in a corner, he caught up with her outside the hall and they argued all the way up to the common room, unaware of the people staring at them all the way up the staircase.
“So all that time you told me you already had a date, you were just waiting until he eventually asked you.” Ron started in as his foot his the bottom step.
“I have had these plans for months Ronald, it was not a sudden thing.” Hermione took a moment to compose herself, “He took a little time to get up the courage, but we have been on for a while.”
Ron’s ears were going scarlet, “I expect he only wanted you because you’re clever, he wanted a little extra help on his egg.”
Hermione was hurt by the accusation, “I have not been helping him to figure out his egg, he’s been spending his own time on it.” She finished piously.
“When did he even find the time to ask you, if he’s been working on the egg all alone he should have spent all his time with it, instead of asking you out.”
“He asked me when I was in library,” She told him, hoping that he might see sense, “And he has been nothing but sweet, unlike you.”
“So what was it?” Ron asked, losing his temper completely and ignoring her comment, “He took one look at you poring over your books and had to have you?” He didn’t notice the hurt look on her face, “He’s a Quidditch star, he shouldn’t be chasing after fourteen year old girls.”
They had finally reached the portrait hole, they scrambled inside, and immediately started again, the few people left inside leaving quickly as they saw the state they were in.
“If you have to know, and I don’t think it’s any of you business,” Hermione could feel her own temper rising, “Victor is a perfect gentleman, and he is very shy around people, especially women.” She added the last word pointedly, girl indeed!
“I think it’s ridiculous, and I don’t like it!” He bellowed, his face less than a foot from hers, bright scarlet with anger.
She snapped, her hair falling out of its knot, “Well if you don’t like it, you know what the solution is, don’t you?” She screamed, unaware that Harry had just entered.
Ron was just as oblivious, “Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!” She turned on her heel and stormed off up to her dorm, leaving Ron spluttering to Harry about unfairness. She kicked off her heels and fell into her bed, sobbing into her pillow, ignoring the concerned questions from the other girls.
Ron went up to his room soon after the argument as well, and the first thing he did was to take his model of Victor Krum out of its box and place it on the bed-side drawer, where it paced, looking sullen and moody.
In a fit of anger, Ron grabbed the model and tore a leg off, heaving it out through the open window. Feeling a lot better, Ron watched it twitch around on the surface like a dying insect, then tore the other leg off and threw that into the fire in the middle of the room.
A few minutes later, bits and pieces of Victor Krum were scattered around the room, and Ron felt a lot better. He thought that an arm may have ended up underneath Harry’s bed, but it didn’t matter. He fell asleep with a small smile as he imagined doing it to the real Krum.
The next day they seemed to have reached another unspoken agreement, this time that they were going to completely ignore the argument from the night before, and instead be incredibly civil to each other.
Also, the second task was a lot closer now, and Harry was clearly still in need of help. They sat together one night while Harry was off somewhere, presumably trying to solve the clue he had been given.
“I wonder if Vicky’s managed to solve his clue yet.” Ron muttered to himself as he stared at the fire.
Hermione heard it, but decided to let it go. “I wonder what the challenge is going to be?” She asked instead.
Ron shrugged, “Something difficult, but then again, Harry’s fought a dragon now, how difficult could it be?”
She fixed him with an exasperated look, “The entire point of these tests is that they get progressively harder, and so I hate to think what this one will be.” She hugged her knees to her chest and pulled out her S.P.E.W notebook, “Maybe we should try and think of new ways to help the elves out, instead of worrying over Harry.”
The look he gave her told her in no uncertain terms what his thoughts on the matter were.
AN:- Sorry about the wait, please Read and Review. The argument took me forever, I had to write it backwards, starting with the words which JK wrote, then adding my own all the way down to the Great Hall. Also hard was the 'Krum asks Hermione' scene. All I had to go on was the brief conversation in the book which said it happened in the Library.
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