Chapter 3 – Apologies

They walked back up to the castle with Hermione biting her lip, and one eyebrow raised in concern. Harry was very unsure about what what about to happen between Ron and Hermione. He was sure Ron was going to at least forgive her, but perhaps Hermione might be late with her apology.

I literally went and completely ruined the poor boy's confidence…I just hope it's not too late…

Hermione felt a sudden warmth radiate from her chest as they were approaching the portrait in front of the Gryffindor common room. Harry gave the fat lady the password and they climbed through the portrait hole.

The common room was packed with people cheering, screaming, whistling and exploding filibuster fireworks. After a few minutes of turmoil, Harry noticed Ron climb through the portrait hole. Rather odd…hadn't he left before them? Him and Hermione were making their way over to Ron. Harry noticed Lavender Brown trying to push her way to the center as well, but he thought nothing of it.

Hermione was trembling with anticipation. She was about to have a talk with Ron. Considering it was going to be about Krum and her not liking Harry, it could result in another fight or a broken heart, if so much as a phrase is used incorrectly within its context.

But she was hopeful. She truly wanted to tell him how she felt about him…but did he feel the same way? Could Ron fancy her? Ron, the fun, humorous and smarter-than-he-gives-himself-credit-for boy? Could he fancy her? Hermione, the bookish, uptight, rule abiding and bossy girl?

Hermione sighed disappointedly at that thought.

She also didn't think of herself as particularly pretty, although, she truthfully had no idea how Ron saw her.

There was no one like Ron to Hermione.

Ever since Hermione had smelled the love potion scented with Ron's hair, Hermione's innocent crush for Ron had turned into more. The entire potions classroom had smelled just like…well just like Ron. She was now sure that she, in fact, was in love with Ronald Weasley. She wasn't confused as to why she loved him either.

She also wasn't apprehensive at the thought of liking him. She truly loved him.

Harry was jabbing at Ron's arm, trying to think of an excuse to pull him from the crowd.

"Ron!" yelled Harry over the noise of the crowd. "We need to talk, it's important. It's about Dumbledore!"

Ron's smile turned into a frown because he was enjoying himself. For the first time in his life people were cheering his name. Not Harry's, not Krum's, not nobody's, but his.

Ron gave Harry a quick nod and stepped down from the table. Harry noticed that Ron didn't seem at all pleased at the sight of him arriving with Hermione in the common room. The three made their way over to the portrait hole. Just as they had left, Lavender Brown had reached the table Ron had stood on.

The three of them walked in silence to find a deserted corridor. Ron felt a lot calmer and happier than before, seeing as for once, he was accomplished in something. He felt like he could take on a thousand Krum's. As they were walking, Ron looked over at Hermione and felt a few thoughts rush back into his mind. Ron noticed that Hermione's eyes were a tad red and swollen.

I should feel happy. I should celebrate! For once I have something others don't. And Hermione…well…she's…probably kissed Harry now as well. Maybe…I'm good at Quidditch now though…so maybe there's a chance, b-NO, SHE DEFINITELY KISSED KRUM. Right….I should move on, but…I-I still love her, so it's not going to be easy. Although…she's made it pretty easy with what she said earlier, well-

His moment of deep and distraught thought was interrupted as they came to a halt in a deserted corridor.

"Blimey, I think I forgot my wand down in the changing room at the stadium!" said Harry, patting himself up and down, as if he was missing something.

"Oh, um-" Hermione tried to suggest something, but Harry attempted to get the both of them to be alone, and Hermione clearly hadn't picked up on his plan.

"Oh, Hermione, you explain it to Ron. I already told you on the way up, remember?" Hermione understood.

"Oh yes, of course, uhm — I," stuttered Hermione. Ron looked back and forth between the two and he wasn't sure what was going on — he was interrupted and therefore couldn't think straight.

"Great!" said Harry. "I'll see you later then!" And he ran off before either of them could say a word.

"So… what's this about Dumbledore?" asked Ron as he turned to face Hermione. He had a stern and serious look on his face. He was ready to put aside his quarrel with Hermione for a few minutes so she could explain something important. Hermione took a deep breath and held it for several seconds.

"Go on then, I'm listening", said Ron crossing his arms.

"I only kissed Krum once! But I told him that we were just gonna be friends right after!" blurted Hermione.

Ron's jaw dropped. Both stood in silence, staring at each other for what felt like hours to Hermione, she was patiently waiting for a response, but she was shaking.

Oh god I said it. I told him the truth. But it's Krum, and he's quiet now. Is he gonna go off on me again? I don't know, but- oh god Hermione what did you do?

Finally, Ron took an audible breath.

"Erm … w-why would you tell me that?" stammered Ron nervously, his ears turning red.

"Because Harry told me what Ginny said to you," said Hermione, her whole body shaking. She raised only one of her eyebrows and bit her lip. Ron noticed. He had always found something endearing and warm when Hermione looked at him like that — with general concern. It was the same look she gave him after Sirius Black had broken his leg in their third year.

"Harry told you?" he said quickly and angrily. "What did he tell you?"

I can't believe Harry…bet he knows how I feel about her and told Hermione…what a git…and now he's probably with her anyways…

"Well, you and Ginny had an argument, and she told you I…I snogged Krum. It's true, and I'm sorry I kept it fr-," said Hermione nervously

"When did he tell you?" interrupted Ron sharply, only getting more agitated as Hermione truthfully confirmed the kiss she had shared with Victor. There had always been a small part of Ron that thought, no, hoped that Ginny had been lying about Hermione and Krum.

"In the changing room earlier. It's why you were so mad at me, wasn't it?"

Ron began to blush noticeably, which was perfectly hidden in his rising and angry voice.

"Wha-what? Why would I care if you snogged Krum? That's n-none of my business, I - uhm," he said. He looked down to the floor and then back up at Hermione. He he felt guilty. And she was saying that she HAD kissed Krum. Ron's worst fears began to take shape and were turning real. However, it occurred to him that he could interpret this as positive.

Is there actually hope? I mean … she is telling me about it happening … but … is there more to this or does she just wanna end the argument? And what about Harry?

"Okay, yeah …maybe … it's why I've been a bit moody, I suppose. All my best friends have kissed someone but I haven't! Besides… it confirms what I said two years ago. That Krum was only using you."

"What? Krum was not using me! Victor was a perfect gentleman the entire night! And is 'moody' really the word you're gonna use?" snapped Hermione. But she quickly stopped herself. She wasn't here to argue, but to put cards on the table.

"Yeah! A bit moody! I mean what else did you expect? I am the only one that hasn't snogged somebody! You did it fourth year, and Harry last year. But why are you telling me this anyway?"

"Well … because I didn't want to continue fighting, and I wanted to tell you the truth," said Hermione shyly. She wasn't quite ready to drop the bomb in the conversation and wanted to wait for the conversation to cool down.

All she wanted right now was to be on good terms with Ron so that she could then tell him. In her head, once they had forgiven each other she was going to tell him. And that moment seemed to be getting here any minute, but Hermione hadn't thought this all the way through. Ron was very mad about Krum, but it wasn't his main source of rage at the moment. It was merely Ginny telling Ron about it, that caused all of the minor instances, in which Hermione had belittled, criticized or otherwise hurt Ron, to surface. And now, they swept over Ron like a title wave.

Ron's heart must have dropped a thousand miles. He couldn't believe it. He was right. Just because of an argument. Then the Felix Felicis shot into his head. He wanted to get it out of his mind because he didn't really want to continue fighting with Hermione, but he could feel tears swelling in his eyes again, and a sudden wave of anger had made its way into his heart.

The same hot needle was lodged in it again. He was hurt that Hermione had always thought so little of him. She had struck yet another nerve in the changing room and Ron couldn't take the confirmation of Krum and her snogging anymore. For an entire week he'd seen Hermione entangled with Victor in his nightmares, hoping they were just nightmares…but now that he knew the truth… He felt the raging fire with him take control with every breath he drew…

I bet she's just apologizing and saying this to get me in a good mood for the Slug Club… How condescending can she get? I mean, I know she doesn't think I'm a Victor Krum! And I'll never be!

Ron felt as if he'd seen a Boggart of Hermione and Harry, kissing, and it was telling him that his keeping was pathetic, his skills with a wand merely "sufficient" and he need not worry about Hermione anymore because a girl like her would never be with him.

"What are you compared to the Chosen One?" said the Boggart-Hermione in Ron's mind.

But then he felt his feet stand on solid ground again, and he looked at the real Hermione, who was standing anxiously in front of him.

"You say you don't want to fight anymore, but ten minutes ago you basically said that I HAD to have had lucky potion in order to play well because Ronald Weasley himself is so bad at Quidditch, so that when he plays well once, it couldn't have been because of him!" exploded Ron. "Oh and yes, to YOUR SURPRISE I was made a prefect and not Harry because I COULD NEVER BECOME ONE!"

Hermione was shaking and tears began streaking down her face. She'd never seen Ron this angry with her, yelling at the top of his lungs.

"Where is that coming from suddenly!?" she pleaded. "We've been prefects since last year! R—"

"I bet you thought that Dumbledore did this as to not tie Harry up in any prefect business," continued Ron, cutting her off and his voice trembling with rage. "So he chose me instead because it had to be someone! Oh and speaking of Harry. You're right. He's so fanciable! I AM NOTHING compared to the chosen one! Also … he … doesn't need any Felix Felicis to be good at Quidditch. You've encouraged him and been supportive for years, while I got critique and surprised facial expressions when I've managed to work my way around a spell!" screamed Ron.

Hermione stood in front of him, frozen and crying. She felt terrible she'd made Ron feel worthless all those years.

She had thought she had had a pretty good idea at Ron's insecurities of living in Harry's shadow. But she did not know how deep those insecurities went. And how insensitive she had behaved towards him. Ron continued to ramble and shout her down. His heart did ache at the sight of her.

"I've HONESTLY lost count of how many times you've basically called me pathetic … and of all the times in which you literally used the word. I understand I'm not as great a wizard as Harry or Krum, but there's no need to shove it into my face for five years straight and tell me I'm no good!", yelled Ron. The corridor was ringing with his voice. "THERE'S NO NEED FOR THIS! IT'S UNNECESSARY, HERMIONE! I KNOW that I'll never be good at anything, so stop telling me I'm pathetic! Because I already know! I've, j-just HAD IT WITH YOU! I-"

Hermione stood there, petrified - tears in her eyes and on her face, her lips shaking. Ron took a deep breath as if to finish his sentence, but he felt another single tear run down his cheek. His eyes were red and filled with tears. Only one had escaped his eyes however. Hermione's eyes widened as she noticed, and Ron knew she had seen. Hermione felt truly awful. All this time, Ron had really felt hurt … and before Hermione could say anything…

"Just … leave me alone," said Ron quietly and impassively as if he'd been drained of all of his emotions at once. Hermione couldn't move, she was still a bit in shock, but she knew she had to go after him. She turned a corner, and noticed he was gone. The quiet and emotionless voice he had used at the end felt far worse than his yelling, she thought.

"Hermione?" said a familiar voice. Hermione jumped.

"Oh…it's you," she said. She didn't turn around to face Harry.

"Where's Ron?" said Harry. She didn't answer. Instead Harry heard a soft sob coming from Hermione.

"Oh no…" said Harry as he walked up to Hermione putting his arm around her shoulder.

"Well…maybe I can talk some sense into him?" Harry pulled out the Marauder's map.

He wanted to go off and spy on Draco, as Harry had noticed that he had appeared in a corridor out of thin air. But you couldn't Apparate in Hogwarts. Harry couldn't find Ron on the map. And he looked everywhere.

"Erm…Hermione…I don't see Ron on the map…he's gone. The same thing happened with Malfoy once!"

Hermione was looking at the map through her tears.

"He'll turn up eventually. I'll keep the map on me. When he returns to the dormitory, I'll try and talk to him," said Harry patting Hermione's head as she leaned into his chest, sobbing.

"Ok," sobbed Hermione into Harry's shirt, which began to stick wet against him.

Harry tried his best to cheer Hermione up inside a nearby classroom. She cried for several hours until Harry had managed to calm her down. They walked back to the Gryffindor common room, only to find it empty.

Everyone had already gone to bed. Harry told Hermione good night (his heart aching for his dear friend, knowing well she was going to cry herself to sleep), and hurried up to his own dormitory. He noticed that Ron's curtains were drawn. And there was no way he was going to have this conversation now…at this hour.