Hermione put her bookmark back between the pages, pausing to watch the picture as a miniature Viktor kissed a miniature Hermione. Sighing loudly she shut the book and looked out the window. The cotton clouds floated past dreamily as she flew closer to England. She put her book, Durmstrang: a beginning, back into her bag. Viktor had gotten that book for her; it was very similar to Hogwarts A History. She fingered the ring on her hand and smiled thinking of Viktor made her happy. Then slowly, another face crept into her mind, one that did not make her happy, Ron. Shifting to look out the window again she thought about Ron, the first time she had really done that since the incident with the vampire. There was no way to avoid Ron now if she was going to be staying with him. She had meant to tell him that she was going to Bulgaria, she hadn't intended on keeping it secret. But all she could remember was how angry Ron had gotten at the Yule Ball. She was so much happier if he wasn't angry, so she had waited to tell him about her summer plans. Soon, she had forgotten that she hadn't told him; she had forgotten almost everyone when she was with Viktor. The days turned into weeks, and soon she knew that if she told him now he would only be hurt. So Hermione decided to do the only thing she could thing of, she ignored her problem, "and now I'm going to pay for it" she muttered. She had talked to Ron, of course, they'd owled each other at least once a week. But Hermione had somehow managed to not mention Viktor or Bulgaria. Harry had been furious with her; he knew where she was vacationing. He had told her that Ron deserved to know, and there really wasn't any reason to keep it from him, but Hermione had waited. And now there was no avoiding the problem as she disembarked from the plane and came face to face with a group of red haired wizards.
"Hermione!" Mrs. Weasley stepped right up to her and hugged her tight. "I'm so sorry about your uncle dear, but I'm delighted that you're staying with us." Fred and George each gave Hermione a quick hug and smile. She turned to look at Ron he glowered back at her. There was a moment of silence and then her voice sounding much farther away than it was said.
"Hullo Ron, how're you?"
Ron just looked at her. He noticed the evil look that this mother was giving him over Hermione's head and leaned over and hugged her quicker than the twins and said, "I'm fine". He turned away from her then and walked out the doors. Mrs. Weasley glowered at her son's departing and back and said quickly to Hermione,
"Don't worry dear, he's just sulking, didn't sleep well last night I think."
"Yes dear" said Fred, "don't worry, little Ronneikins is just jealous".
Hermione almost choked, she had paled suddenly and looked a little faint. George quickly took her arm to keep her from falling over and said "yes, jealous, see, he wanted to date Viktor Krum". Both twins burst into chuckles and Hermione, her color starting to return, smiled at them. At least they don't hate me, she thought.
When everyone had settled into the car they started off. Ron sat in the front with his mother and Hermione sat between Fred and George in the back. They were fighting over who could put their arm around her. She was struggling hard not to break into near hysterical giggles. Mrs. Weasley smiled at her in the mirror and said, "You look like you've grown up Hermione. You seem taller, and don't mind my saying, but you've gotten very pretty, Bulgaria must be a wonderful place." Hermione couldn't help but notice that the backs of Ron's ears were getting pinker by the second. Fred and George were deep into their comic relief now, and only stopped when Hermione elbowed them both in the side. Mrs. Weasley was right about Hermione, she had gotten taller, at least an inch while being in Bulgaria. She had spent so much time outside with Viktor that she had tanned a deep gold. Her hair had even calmed down; on good days it laid in smooth waves down her back.
Hermione suddenly noticed that a certain someone was missing, "Hey, where's Ginny?"
"She's on vacation in Majorca with a friend" said Fred and George in unison.
"She'll be back a week before school starts" said Mrs. Weasley, "So we have lots of extra space for you. And to be quite frank, I'm sure that I'll like having another woman around the house. " Hermione blushed slightly at this.
When they reached the Burrow, Ron got out and went straight inside. "Oi! You slimy git! Aren't you going to help Hermione with her things!" George yelled at his brother's back.
Hermione blushed, "No, no, I can get them, really".
"Oh don't be silly Hermione" Fred said glaring at the front door as it slammed shut, "we'll help you get your stuff into Ginny's room." Fred and George carried Hermione's trunk up stairs to the first landing. Fred unceremoniously tossed her bag onto the bed and then plopped down next to it. George meanwhile dropped the trunk with a loud bang that seemed to wake up the attic ghoul high above them.
"Don't bother looking Hermione" said Fred.
Hermione looked startled, "looking for what Fred"?
"Well" said George, "we've looked through Ginny's room twice already".
Hermione raised her eyebrow with a disapproving look.
"We think she took her diary with her" said Fred non chalantly looking under the bed.
"And she cleaned out her candy stash" said Fred and George in unison.
Fred grinned wickedly then and said "we have some candy in our room if you want some though." Remembering the Canary Creams and the Ton Tongue Toffees that were circulating Hogwarts last year Hermione demurred with a smile.
"I... I think I had better go talk to Ron" Hermione said, her eyes on the floor.
"Yeah" George said softly, "Yeah, you should probably do that". And with that the twins left the room. Hermione sighed deeply, willing her knees to not give way and walked up the stairs to Ron's room. There was no answer to her knock, but she knew he was there, she had heard the door close when the twins had brought her stuff upstairs. She opened the door and stepped in, Ron was lying on his bed looking up at the ceiling. He looked very pale and was clutching something in his hand.
"Ron? Ron are you okay?" Hermione asked, worry lines appearing on her forehead.
"Get out" he whispered not looking at her.
"Ron, please... please, I'm sorry, I really am. I meant to tell you, I just got distracted. I'm so sorry Ron." Hermione moved forward and touched his arm.
Ron jerked away from her touch, "GET OUT OF MY ROOM!" He yelled at the top of his lungs and pushed her away. Hermione's lip trembled and a tear slid down her cheek.
"Ron, I was going to tell you, I didn't mean to keep it a secret, I just didn't want you to be angry with me." Hermione said this all very quickly the tears coming faster now.
Ron was standing now, his back to her. "Do you know how I found out Hermione?" She was confused; she had assumed that he had found out when her parents contacted the Weasleys. "Do you know how I found out?" he asked again. His voice was cold and detached; he had never talked to her in a voice like that before. She shivered as he turned to look at her; his eyes were now emotionless and cold. "I found this Hermione". He brandished a wizard sports magazine at her. She was even now more confused then ever when suddenly she noticed a picture, a picture that made her feel sick. It was taken after the Bulgaria vs. Italy game; in it were Viktor and herself. Their arms were wrapped around each other, the two little people kept kissing, oblivious to the other people in the photo who smiled and waved up at her.
"Oh God... Ron..." Hermione began, but before she could finish he had grabbed her arm and pushed into the hallway. The door slammed shut and the lock clicked. Hermione stood in the hallway for a moment, confusion and pain all over her face and she cried silently. Another door opened down the hall, the twin's room. George popped his head out and looked at her worriedly.
"Hermione?" He called. But she just turned and ran down the stairs to Ginny's room where she threw herself onto the bed and dissolved into tears.