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Hermione woke before the crack of dawn the next morning. She had been lying in an awkward position for most of the night, and she rubbed her sore neck. She was still in her school clothes, now wrinkly and disheveled, and her hair looked like a squirrel’s nest. She sat up grumpily, the events of yesterday flooding back into her mind. She instantly made a decision - she was determined to see as little of Ron as she possibly could today. Just thinking of his flaming red hair made her want to puke.

After doing all of her morning necessities as quiet as a mouse, she went down to read in the common room before breakfast started. As soon as the clock struck 8:30, she packed her bags and high-tailed it to the Great Hall. Barely anyone was there. She wolfed up some toast and bacon, and took off again before Harry or Ron had even left Gryffindor Tower. Class didn’t start for another hour, so she decided to go up to the owlry to send a friendly note to her parents. She was careful – she looked around every corner before she turned it, praying not to see Ron. She approached another and peeked around quickly, then turned to look behind her. But when she turned back around to continue on her way, she bumped into something hard, and her bag was knocked to the floor, spilling its contents onto the newly waxed floor of the corridor.

“Oh! Hermione! I’m so sorry,” said Neville. He bent over to help her gather her things.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Neville,” she said, getting on her own hands and knees as well.

“I was meaning to talk to you, come to think of it,” he said, handing her two scrolls that had escaped the clutches of her sack.

“Thanks. Oh, yeah?”

Neville fidgeted nervously. “Well, um, I was just wondering if you could maybe help me with some studies. I – I know I’m not doing that well. It’s mostly potions, but Transfiguration is starting to hurt me too.”

“Of course I’ll help you,” Hermione replied with a warm smile. “Would you like to meet me in the library, say, this Thursday? After dinner?”

Neville’s round face broke into a relieved smile and said comforted, “That would be great.”

Hermione was about to speak, until she heard Harry’s laughter a ways down the corridor. Her eyes grew wide.

“Well it was nice seeing you, Neville,” she said quickly, and then dove behind a statue of a centaur. He gave her a confused look and she could tell he was about to ask her why she was hiding, but Harry and Ron’s voices were growing louder so she mouthed “Please just go,” and waved him on hurriedly. With a moment’s hesitation, Neville gave a little shrug and continued down to the Great Hall, looking back up to the statue after reaching the base of the stairs, and then turned again.

A few seconds after his retreat, Hermione caught a glimpse, through the centaur’s legs, of Harry, Ron and Ginny ambling by. ‘Oh, it was Ginny that was making Harry laugh. I thought it was just him and Ron.’ she thought, as she observed the two talking and laughing animatedly, Ron walking sullenly beside them, his feet dragging.

Hermione felt a fleeting pang of guilt, but then inwardly hit herself. ‘I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for him! He’s the one who went off and basically cheated on me with another girl!’ she thought angrily.

She waited until the sound of Ginny’s giggles faded, and then tentatively emerged from her hiding spot. She continued on her way, with renewed determination.

“Mister Ronald Weasley is going to be sorry,” she hissed allowed, as she pounded the steps to the owlry.


* * * * * *


Ignoring Ron in class was very awkward and frustrating. In potions, Hermione had grabbed Harry and made him sit with her. At seeing this, Lavender pushed Parvati aside and cheerfully patted the chair next to her, beckoning Ron to sit there. She ignored Parvati’s squeal of protest and batted her black eyelashes wildly at Ron. Hermione managed to catch her eye and openly glared knives at her. Lavender sneered back and placed a hand on Ron’s arm. Hermione looked away just in time to miss Ron swatting it away.

Harry was buckling under the cold tension. “You won’t be able to keep this up forever,” he commented out of the side of his mouth, cutting beetle legs into halves.

“I can sure try,” Hermione growled back. She added the peppercorn to the gurgling potion and stirred three times counterclockwise. It turned a deep purple, just as the directions had described.

“Maybe you don’t know the whole truth,” Harry whispered. Hermione looked him in the eye.

“I saw him,” she snapped.

Snape looked up from his desk, his beady eyes scanning the room ominously, aching to give a detention to whoever was talking too loudly. Harry looked up at him momentarily and then brought his quiet voice to Hermione again.

“And – and you’re sure they were...you know?”

“Yes. They were swapping spit. Sucking face. Playing tongue hockey. Kissing,” she whispered firmly.

Harry tore his eyes away from her and shook his head, looking as though he was thinking hard.

“I just don’t get it,” he said absently. “Ron really liked y- LIKES you. He told me so much it got annoying. I don’t see how he could do that.”

Hermione’s cheeks flushed at the thought of Ron talking about his feelings for her. She peeked over Harry’s shoulder and saw him miserably hacking at his cockroach antennas, Lavender inconspicuously scooting closer to take a look at the contents of the steaming cauldron.

Hermione’s eyebrows furrowed as she pulled away from the maddening sight. She and Harry worked in silence and then bottled a sample of their potion and brought it up to Snape’s desk. They ended up receiving a 100.

In the back of the room, Malfoy watched Harry and Hermione over the steam of his cauldron conversing urgently in whispers. Why wasn’t Granger sitting with the Weasel? And why was that Brown girl hanging on him like a little monkey with a ponytail? Something was up. That was for sure. Maybe he’d check it out a bit at his next meeting with Granger.

In transfiguration, Ron had decided that he absolutely did not want to endure another whole class so close to Lavender again, so he yanked Harry over to a table before Hermione even picked out a place to sit. She scowled and sat with Neville instead. Poor Harry. Having to be all caught up in the middle of this. That was the downside of being a trio. If two of the three were arguing, one was stuck on the fence, constantly being knocked over to one side, only to be hoisted up again and falling the other way.

Hermione frowned at the back of Ron’s head through the whole lesson. The only thing that cheered her up the smallest inkling was the furious expression Lavender wore the entire time, shooting jealous looks in Ron’s direction.

The class was just getting started on homework, when something hit the back of Hermione’s head and she jumped. She turned around and made to glare at the person behind her, but it was Susan Bones, who was hunched over and scribbling on her parchment in small, loopy script. Hermione looked down and saw a crumpled piece of parchment on the floor by her desk, so she picked it up and carefully opened it.


When are we going to start tutoring Granger? I don’t understand any of this bloody crap.
-Malfoy


She turned around and scowled at Malfoy, who was seated in the last row. He just placed his head in his hand and batted his eyelashes at her. She turned back around and wrote her response.


You didn’t have to hit me with paper, thanks. What about tomorrow night after dinner? I don’t have duties.
-Granger


Hermione crumpled the parchment back up and inconspicuously levitated it high above the class, and sent it zooming across the room, where it stopped gracefully and landed perfectly in Malfoy’s outstretched palm.

“Show off,” he muttered, as he opened it to read her response.

Hermione returned to her homework, idly waiting for Malfoy’s reply to come back through polite levitation. She was very miffed, however when she felt the wad of parchment thwack the back of her skull again a few minutes later. She retrieved it from the ground again and read.


But I just love to see you jump in surprise like that – can’t help it. Tomorrow’s fine.
-Malfoy


* * * * * *

The rest of classes were fine, because all she had was Ancient Ruins, Care of Magical Creatures, and Muggle Studies. Magical Creatures was good because they were just standing in a large cluster outside Hagrid’s hut, and all she had to do was make sure she was positioned on the opposite side of Harry as Ron. It did annoy her a little though, when Harry tried scolding her for sneaking an Izzle’s Itching Pill into Ron’s goblet at lunch.

“Hey, I’m not the one at fault here,” she snapped smartly. “Why don’t you go thwart him about what he’s done?”

Harry turned to look at Ron for a second and then turned back to her. “I think he’s being punished adequately enough for the time being, Mione,” he said.

Hermione peeked around Harry’s shoulder at Ron, who was itching various parts of his body, a pained expression on his face. Hermione couldn’t help but giggle and shot a grin at Harry, who grinned back.

“Oy, Ron. ‘Yall righ’ there?” asked Hagrid, suddenly. The class turned to look at him and started laughing.

His face turned a shade that matched his hair, and said, “I – I’m all itchy. I don’t know why.”

Hagrid hushed the class and said, “How ‘bout you go’n up ter the hospital wing n’ get fixed up, eh?” There was an amused twinkle in his eye.

Ron nodded his scarlet head, and glumly walked back up to the castle, scratching his stomach…and his neck, and his arms…

Hermione thoroughly enjoyed Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies because Ron wasn’t in those classes. She paid full attention and answered questions with fervor. When dinner came around, she ate quickly and headed back to the common room to do homework by the fire.

Harry entered the common room around 8:30 after a demanding Quidditch practice.

“Ron back yet?” he asked.

Hermione made a guttural sound of disgust.

“I’ll take that as a no?”

“More like an ‘I don’t care’,” she corrected. “How was practice?” she asked, changing the subject.

Harry’s eyes lit up. “I think it’ll be a good year. We’ve got a good bunch. I’ve gotten us a new beater – Brian Codwell – 4th year, but brilliant. A little sketchy on flying techniques, but if I drill him a bit, he’ll be fine.”

“Keep ‘em at it, Captain,” Hermione said.

“I’m showering and then hitting the sack. I’m beat,” he said. “If Ron comes back, tell him –” he paused. Hermione raised an eyebrow.

“Never mind,” he finished, smirking. He shouldered his broom and clambered up the stairs to the boy’s dormitories.

It was getting late, and Hermione was still up, absorbed in a book about the four founders of Hogwarts. Nobody was left on the common room. Suddenly the portrait hole opened and in came Ron. He spotted her and turned red, immediately heading for the stairs. The anger was bubbling up inside of Hermione.

“Back so soon?” she blurted out without meaning it. He stopped in his tracks.

“What do you mean?” he asked slowly.

“Where have you been all this time, huh? Did Madame Pomfrey take that long to take care of a bit of itchiness?” Hermione asked icily.

“No!” Ron snapped. “I went up there and a whole class of 3rd years was up there for burns from a mental blast-ended skrewt. Then she mixed up the wrong potions and ended up giving me purple chicken pox things. It’s not my fault!”

Hermione got up off of the couch, still clutching her book in her hands, her knuckles white from grasping so hard. “Oh, what a story! Like I believe that! You were probably off sneaking around with Lavender again, weren’t you?!” she yelled.

“I didn’t kiss her, Hermione! She kissed me!” bellowed Ron in defense.

“That’s not what I saw!” she argued back.

“Then you didn’t see it!” Ron growled.

“Ronald Weasley I hate you!” Hermione screamed.She threw her book down, turned on her heel and stomped up the stairs, leaving a sputtering mad Ron alone in the common room, beside the dying fire.

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