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Chapter 6 : Conversations
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Chapter image by heartfelt. @ TDA
Ron cornered me the next morning. I use the word ‘cornered’ because that’s exactly what it was – I was the wild animal he was trying to hunt.
“Hermione, there you are,” he said conversationally as I walked out of the girl’s bathroom. He dragged me into an alcove and stood in front of me, effectively blocking me from leaving. I was still fuming from the previous night’s argument with Malfoy, and my patience was short.
“Good morning,” I said with a forced smile, rubbing my wrist as he let me go. I briefly wondered if all of the powder I’d just applied to my face was blended properly. I was trying to hide the evidence of my sleepless night of wondering about my magic. What did it mean, my shield spell? What sort of shield was it? I shook my head of the flyaway thoughts and tried to focus my tired mind. “Fancy meeting you at the girl’s loo, Ron.”
“Err – yeah, sorry about that. I wasn’t following you or anything, promise,” he said, hastily shoving the corner of the Marauder’s map into his pocket. “Listen, I was wondering if you could help me in the library for a few hours. Just a bit of transfiguration homework. Maybe I could help you study? And you can tell me everything about yesterday, with your parents.”
The hopeful look on his face reminded me of a puppy, and I relented. “Okay,” I said hesitantly, “But I have to go to class after lunch.”
“Brilliant!” he laughed, so happy that I felt guilty about how I was acting around him. He was my best friend, and I should treat him accordingly. No more hiding and no more awkwardness. “By the way, you look beautiful today, Hermione.”
My determination to not feel awkward vanished at his words, and I winced. “Ron…”
“Right. Got it,” he muttered, looking away. There was longing in his eyes, and something sparked in my stomach. Viktor Krum hadn’t even looked at me with so much longing. How far had Ron and I gone? All the way? I briefly wondered what it would feel like to wrap my arms around his shoulders and press my body against his, but the moment was lost when two giggling third years walked past, throwing us scandalised looks.
“Right,” I muttered in reply, pushing past him with a red face, “Let’s go then.”
Harry had returned my bag to me that morning, and I hoisted it higher onto my shoulder. We walked in slightly awkward silence, Ron clenching and unclenching his hands. I noticed scars scattered across his forearms, and commented.
“What are those scars from?” I asked, tracing one. He jumped at my touch, looking surprised. I almost giggled as the back of his neck turned pink. Giggled?
“Erm – ah – the scars. Right. When we were in Lestrange’s Gringotts vault, and the metal burned us. You had yours removed, but I didn’t get a chance. Too distracted burying Fred.”
His voice broke during the last sentence, and I gripped his hand comfortingly. What other scars had I had covered? I compared my forearms to Ron, but couldn’t imagine my arms being so damaged.
“You can’t have them removed now?” I asked, trying to distract him from Fred. The question, and my hand in his, seemed to work wonders.
“I could, but I’m used to them now anyway. They tell a story, and I would never want to forget a second of what we’ve gone through.”
The silence turned awkward again on my part, and it wasn’t until we’d walked a few more metres and I’d pulled my hand from his that he realised what he said.
“Bugger, Hermione, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that!”
“I know, and that’s the problem. You’re so unthoughtful, Ron!” He had no idea what it was like, not remembering. For Merlin’s sake, I had stood in front of my trunk for half an hour today trying to figure where I’d stored my spare shampoo at the start of the year. Ginny had had to show me, to my humiliation.
“Hermione, wait!” he called as I stalked away. He could do his own damn study.
It wasn’t until I slammed the portrait hole behind me and sat down next to Ginny and Harry that I finally calmed down a bit. I threw my bag on the ground and winced as I heard ink bottles break. Stupid ink, why didn’t I just use pens instead? I made a mental note to ask Mum to send some, before I remembered that I couldn’t.
Ginny and Harry stared at me as I burst into tears.
“Hermione, what happened?” Ginny asked, moving to sit next to me and glancing at Harry. Harry rolled his eyes and disappeared, leaving us alone.
“Your stupid brother, that’s what. He never thinks before he speaks, does he? Merlin knows I can’t remember the last three years, but I do remember that he’s the exact same unthinking Ron I know from our fourth year!”
“That’s unfair, Hermione,” Ginny said quietly, and I stared at her.
“He’s not the same Ron at all. The only time he’s ever happy these days is when you’re around. Look, I know it’s hard. It’s hard for all of us. But just keep in mind that we’ve all been through a lot, especially Ron. Cut him some slack, would you?”
I wiped my eyes and sniffed, trying to think of a response. She was right, of course. But he could at least try being a bit more thoughtful.
“Just, tell him to keep his bloody hands off me,” I finally muttered. Ginny grinned, and I wrinkled my nose at her. And then Lavender Brown walked past and it really hit home, what Ginny meant about things being difficult for all of us. I think that being mauled by Fenrir Greyback trumps losing any memories.
“Thanks, Ginny. Sorry for, you know…” I trailed off and gestured at my still-teary eyes, but Ginny only shook her head.
“It’s fine, Hermione. You’re doing the best you can, we all know that. Merlin knows I’ve seen you cry a fair bit since May.”
I nodded and gave her a small smile, before hurrying after Lavender. Crying a fair bit? That didn’t sound like me at all. Apparently there were a lot of things that I still hadn’t been told about the war.
“Lavender?” I called after the girl as she turned a corner towards the great hall. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, trying to talk to her. Neville had reluctantly told me of hers and Ron’s history, expecting me to be mad. All I felt was happy for Ron.
“Hermione? Hi,” her voice trailed off in a question, clearly wondering why we were standing in the middle of a corridor looking at each other. I awkwardly groped for something to say.
“You look… Lavender, you look… Does it hurt still?” I finally asked, trying to break the silence but putting my foot in my mouth instead. She smiled wryly at me and shook her head.
“I’m fine, Hermione. In fact, I’m great! My healers reckon that when the scars settle, they’ll be barely noticeable.”
I raised an eyebrow, sceptic. Her mouth pulled tight in the left corner, and three ropy scars slashed down her cheeks. Her hair was patchy from further scarring, but her eyes were bright. She looked away from me and shuffled her feet uncomfortably.
“Don’t do that, not again,” she said quietly, and I blinked. I hadn’t realised I’d been staring.
“Have we had this conversation before?” I asked, and she shrugged.
“Yeah, but it’s okay. At least you’re nicer to me now.”
“I wasn’t nice before?”
She snorted, and I shifted awkwardly. “Well, no. Despite helping Harry save the wizarding world and being top of the school, you still have your faults. Jealousy being one of them.”
I winced. “Sorry about that… I guess I’m not jealous anymore.”
Without realising, both of our feet were moving towards the hall and the tantalizing smells of lunch. I hadn’t talked to Lavender or Parvati much in my first to fourth years, and now I was wondering why.
“So does that mean you and Ron aren’t together anymore?” she asked, peering curiously at me. I shook my head.
“Definitely not together. He’s my best friend! I couldn’t possibly think of him as anything else.”
“Thank Merlin, no more snogging in the common room!” Lavender laughed, and I stared at her.
“We what?” I shrieked, and suddenly, despite my lost memories, my lost parents, my apparent lost relationship and a war I didn’t remember, I was laughing too. And Merlin, did it feel good. When we calmed down, it was Lavender’s turn to stare at me.
“You’ve really changed Hermione. In a good way, I think.”
I started to open my mouth to protest, to tell her that the only reason I’d changed was because of my memories, but she interrupted.
“Look, I know it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that you don’t know anything about the war first hand anymore. But honestly, you should have seen you before your accident… You were just a shell, really. I think that after everything you went through, after Malfoy Manor and all, perhaps it’s a good thing you don’t remember. You look so much happier now.”
I stared at her when she finished, and she flushed. We were standing in the entrance hall by now, people streaming around us to get to lunch. Before I got a chance to ask her about Malfoy Manor -from what I was told, we rescued Dobby, Luna and Mr Ollivander before escaping - Parvati bounded up to Lavender and dragged her away while whispering in her ear.
My confused thoughts were making me dizzy, and I backed up against a wall. Receive, process, store. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath.
A sharp voice sliced through my silent battle with my thoughts, and I looked up to see McGonagall eying me.
“I wanted to remind you about your detention tomorrow night. The library, seven o’clock.”
She nodded and entered the great hall. I slumped back against the wall and sighed deeply.
Great. Detention with Malfoy.
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