Mental Match

Chapter 7: Yes & No

Chapter 7 - Yes and No

The school term rolled into October in a rush. Hermione was busier than ever with her schedule as she had been recently asked by the Headmistress to take on some of the third year classes along with the ones she already had. Her days seemed to fly by in a blur, dashing to and from classes while trying to complete miles of paperwork at the end of the day. Many nights she had fallen asleep at her desk in her office only to be awakened by Ron at various times of the night on his way out himself. At these times he would walk with her to the foot of her staircase leading to her room before giving her his best smile and saying goodnight.

Ron was also very busy these days trying desperately to complete all of the cordoned off unstable areas in the shortest time possible in order to stay on schedule. They had mutually agreed to relocate their daily meeting to the staff dining room while having lunch and dinner. It seemed that these were the only times that they both shared a break together. Hermione knew that Ron would never give up his mealtimes unless it was an emergency and so she settled for these brief moments when she could at least see and hear him even if it was just about the school project. Since her birthday dinner with him, they had hardly found time alone to talk in general.

She was now caught in tug-of-war with her feelings. While she was surprisingly frustrated by the fact that their time together was limited, in the back of her mind she wanted...needed this space between them. She had gotten too close too fast and it went against her initial resolve. This year was supposed to be about her finding herself. Even Ron had recognized the fact that she needed time to rest and reflect after almost ten years of continuous stress due to war and work. Distraction in the form of a red haired squib engineer was not on her cards at all. The funny thing was that she only really felt relaxed and at ease with herself when she was with him. Hence her internal struggle continued on a daily basis.

Despite her turmoil and against her resolve, ever since her first day of class when she spotted him outside, she had continued to watch him as often as she could as he ran around the small grounds next to the Quidditch pitch. When she could not be in her room to look out her window, she would deliberately walk...slowly along the outside corridor where she could see him. He never deviated from his routine no matter work or weather. He would slowly warm up under the lone tree situated on the ground, stretching his long limbs in all directions before starting off and continuing at his steady pace with that contented expression on his face. At the end he would do a speed lap before slowing down to an eventual stop and hunching over to catch his breath. After stretching down he would hurry off to take his shower. Watching his routine gave her a warm feeling inside her every time and yes she knew it was mainly due to the fact that he looked physically good but more than that, the simple rhythm of him resounded in her. To her surprise and selfish annoyance, the last few days he had picked up some fellow runners who had joined him and she suspected that they were members of the various Quidditch teams who were preparing for the upcoming start of the season.

That's where she found herself this Friday afternoon...walking slowly along the corridor and glancing at him as he ran ahead of a small group of boys and girls. It had been a long and hard week and she looked forward to a relaxing weekend for once. She smile as she watched him and couldn't think of a better way to end this day. Her smile turned to slight panic as she noticed his deviation off his running path and his approach towards...her!

Oh lord! He was coming towards her! She didn't even know he could see her. Did he think she was spying on him? Oh this was so bad. But he looked so good. She quickly tried to smooth out her hair and robes and tried to relax as he came up gasping with a smile on his flushed face his earphones hanging at his chest.

"Hey. Are you doing some undercover scouting for the Gryffindor team? or are you watching me?" he grinned at her while wiggling his eyebrows.

"Don't flatter yourself Mr. Weasley." she laughed as her face quickly coloured to match his. "I do teach here and I do have to past this way to my quarters if you should know." Was it her or did the air around them suddenly heat up she wondered.

He laughed again as he held up his hand as if trying to catch his breath. His tee shirt was drenched and his hair was wet against his face and neck. She fought against the sudden urge to reach up and brush his wet locks away from his eyes. Merlin! Where did that come from?

"I see that you have picked up some followers along the way. Are you preparing your own team?" she asked teasingly.

"Oh that. Yeah well...they all are actually from the Gryffindor team. Seems their captain suggested strongly that they do some extra training and next thing I know they turn up here with me." he looked off at the field as he walked up next to her before leaning against the wall. "As long as they don't bother me too much, I'm ok with it I guess." he ended.

She started to wonder why he had strayed from his routine when he turned to her.

"Listen. I know you are busy these days but can you come to my office a bit later? I want you to meet someone...if you can that is." he asked hopefully.

Her hearth gave an involuntary jump. Someone? I thought he said he didn't have a girlfriend?

"Actually it's my sister...Ginny. She's coming to see me on her way to training camp and I promised I would show her around a bit. I would like for you to meet her though. We should be back in my office around six. Can you come?" he asked again.

She let out a shallow breath. Why was she so relieved? Why had she thought otherwise? His sister! Of course. She could do that.

"Of course Ron. I would love to meet her." she answered a bit hurriedly. "I'll see you at six then. Now go back to your run. I hope I didn't put you off." she pointed back at the field as she smiled at him.

He moved off from the wall and started to trot slowly backwards facing her.

"You do seem to put me off Hermione...but I always get back on track. See you later." he laughed before turning and running back to the small group of runners.

Her smile remained plastered across her face as she took a last glance at his back before hurrying off to her room.

After completing her much neglected letter writing, Hermione had showered and changed into more casual clothes before heading off to Ron's office. She was a bit nervous but was looking forward to meeting his sister. He had said that they were close so but she couldn't help but wonder at the relationship that existed between them. She herself was an only child and she tried to imagine how it would be if she had a brother or sister born without magical could have happened. Would she be have been able to relate to her own sibling? She found it difficult to perceive how.

Hermione paused along the corridor as she heard the unmistakable sound of female laughter coming from the room at the end of her intended journey. She immediately relaxed at the sound and continued to the half open door.

"...Ron I can't believe you're really here and working! It's brilliant!" she heard a light voice from inside as she knocked on the door and poked her head in slowly.

"Hey Hermione. Glad you could make it." she looked up and Ron was smiling as he beckoned her in.

He immediately shot up from the couch where he was sitting with his sister and stood next to her as he turned to his first guest still on the couch.

"Ginny...this is Hermione Granger. She's a teacher here now and on the project team representing the school." he continued his smile at her. "Hermione this is my little sister Ginny." he said shyly.

Hermione turned to the girl as she stood up and extended her hand. "Nice to meet you Ginny." she greeted as she looked at her fully.

Ginny clearly got her looks from Ron's other parent. She had a pretty rounded face with soft features unlike his more angular look. Her eyes were a light shade of brown and her nose was not as long. The only striking similarity to her brother was the colour of her hair but while Ron's hair was thick and unruly, this girl's hair was surprisingly long and straight hung gracefully down her back. Hermione felt a twinge of envy at this. What she would give for hair like that instead of her bushy locks. The girl in question took her hand forcefully and smiled back at her.

"It's really nice to meet you Hermione...I have read a bit about the war that is and it's an honour." she greeted. "And even though I am his little sister please know that I can kick his bony butt anytime." she laughed as she looked at Ron.

"Yeah you wish." Ron laughed with her as Hermione grinned at them.

"But seriously, don't be deceived by that angel face Hermione. She's a real devil on the Quidditch pitch." he said as he motioned her to sit in his place next to Ginny as he pulled a chair for himself.

As Hermione watched her sit back on the couch, she did indeed realise that Ginny was a lot more toned than regular girls and she was also a bit taller than herself. She had forgotten that this girl play Quidditch for a living and it definitely showed in her body.

"Do you enjoy playing every week...professionally I mean?" she asked politely.

Ginny grinned before replying. "Ah I take it you are not really a lover of the game are you?" she replied knowingly. "I don't always like the excessive practice or the demands of traveling around all the time, but I love playing and I'm good at it apparently." She leaned back and motioned to her brother.

"So what else has my dear brother told you about me?" she enquired. "He rarely talks to anyone outside of his work and he definitely does not ever invite anyone to meet me...especially female ones." she smirked at him.

"Ginny please!" he cried out rolling his eyes and flapping his hands in the air. 'What did I tell you about saying too much!"

"Oh hush you prat. Since when have I listened to you." she laughed. "I want to hear from Hermione."

"He hasn't said much I'm afraid." Hermione assured her. "Other than the fact that you tend to be over protective of a baby brother." she smiled wickedly at him.

"Oh come on! Can you two give me a break here?" he asked exasperatedly.

Ginny stopped herself from laughing. "Stop griping. You know I'm proud of you. We all are...especially Mom and Dad. Working at this wonderful school Hogwarts! Gosh Ron. I wish I could spend more time here." she told him sincerely. Hermione suddenly had a thought.

"You know the first Quidditch game of the term is in a few weeks. It's the first Saturday after Halloween actually. It would be great if you could come as my guest. Harry will be here and you could both meet him. I already talked to him about know...about how we work together." she involuntary felt herself flush at the thought of what she had spilled to Harry. "Can you come you think?" she asked.

She noticed Ginny sit up a little from her position next to her. She tried to sound normal but there was a hint of excitement in her voice.

"Harry? As in Harry Potter? Really?" she stuttered a bit. "Well I do have that day off I think and it would be nice to see a Quidditch game here at Hogwarts and of course I would get to see Ron." she reasoned.

"Ha. Don't think to flatter me Ginny. We both know who you really want to see." he snorted and turned to Hermione. "She has had a crush on Harry for forever and she hasn't even met him yet!" he winked

"I do not! big scrawny prat!" Ginny retorted. "That was ages ago! I was ten years old and I certainly have grown up since then as you can see Ron." she glared at him.

Ron ignored her as he smiled at Hermione.

"Thanks a lot for the invite Hermione. I think you can safely assume Ginny will be here come rain or shine." he informed her as Ginny gave his leg a slap.

Hermione was suddenly drawn to his smile as she leaned against the back of the couch.

"I hope you can make it too Ron. I would really like you to meet Harry but I'm not too sure what you have planned for your weekend..." she trailed off as her face became slightly flushed again.

"Of course I'll be here Hermione. It'll be nice to watch a game in which Ginny is not playing for a change." he grinned at his sister. "and I normally just spend my weekends working anyway. On Saturdays I usually take the train to the nearest muggle town called Elgin and spend the day in a small cafe working on my laptop and charging the three extra batteries that I brought with me. One of the drawbacks working in the wizard world is the lack of electricity. I just work around it." he explained.

"What about you? How do you normally spend your weekends?" he asked her.

"Oh mostly in my room reading or catching up on my letter writing. Sometimes I spend it by my parents but not too frequently I'm ashamed to say." she laughed nervously. "Pretty boring all in all I guess."

He was staring at her and it looked like he was turning around something in his head when Ginny cleared her throat and stood up. For a moment Hermione forgot that there another person in the room.

"I have to get going Ron. You can meet us at the gate after you pack up your stuff." she said hurriedly as she grabbed Hermione by her arm and pulled her out the door before they both could register what was happening.

As they walked down the corridor arm in arm Ginny looked over her shoulder back at Ron's office before leaning closer to her.

"He really likes you I can tell." she said softly.

Hermione lost her voice for a moment and was glad that she was holding on to Ginny's arm or she may have stumbled. She tried her best to compose herself.

"Uh...I'm glad I guess...after all we have to work together and we have become friends I think." she squeaked out.

"That's just it! Ron doesn't do friends...well not in a very long while at least. He's generally a loner. Yeah he has had some stupid muggle girls before but never anyone who I would call his friend and you are the first female, muggle or witch that he has ever wanted to introduced me to." she beamed.

"Ginny I am not too sure what you are implying but Ron and I are just that...friends...who work together." she stated emphatically. Ginny never broke her stride.

"Yeah sure...sure...I know. I'm not implying anything else Hermione other than that...for now." she grinned. "So...tell me what do you teach here? This is such an inspiring place don't you think. It must have been wonderful to come to school here." she said dreamily.

Hermione wasn't too sure what to make of Ginny. She was so different from her brother yet she could tell that they were indeed close siblings. She certainly seemed to speak her mind somewhat like Ron did on occasions...well on a lot of occasions, but she appeared to be a genuinely warm and friendly girl and she liked that.

"Ron did tell me a bit about how you and your brothers went to another school in Hastings. Did you like it there?" she asked.

"Oh don't get me wrong. We enjoyed our little school. Even Charlie came to like it there after his initial brood on missing Hogwarts. It was near our home and there weren't so strict with the rules like here I believe so we were able to visit home a lot. I know Mom was happy about it." she quickly explained.

As the sound of heavy footsteps approached them from behind, Ginny again leaned in close to her ear.

"I know this could be asking a bit much as I hardly know you but...can you just keep an eye out for Ron for me? Whenever you can that is. I'm glad he has a friend here honestly. I know he's a big man now but I just worry about him sometimes. Stupid habit I guess." she said with a worried expression on her face.

Ginny's concern for her brother struck a note in Hermione and it only confirmed her initial liking for this girl.

"I'll try my best Ginny. I promise. Nothing will happen to him here. The school is as safe as any place can be. Don't worry too much." she reassured her as best as she could. "and don't forget the first Saturday after Halloween. I hope to see you then."

Ron caught up with them as they reached the gate and Ginny bade them farewell before apparating away when she was clear of the castle. They both turned back around and it seemed natural for Ron to walk her up to her staircase. He remained surprisingly quiet as he walked beside her and his earlier expression had returned. The one where it appeared he was churning something around his head.

As they approached the stairway, he paused with his hands in his pockets. She turned to look at him expectantly. He obviously wanted to say something. He took a deep breath and looked up at her fully with his blue eyes staring into her.

" you have any plans for tomorrow morning by the way?" he asked

She was taken by complete surprise at his question and she had no clue where he was leading to. She stood still like a statue as her heartbeat sped up. Thankfully he continued without the need for an answer from her.

"I was just wondering if you would you like to come with me tomorrow morning to that little cafe in Elgin. It's a real pretty place next to the river and you could read for as long as you want. I promise I won't disturb you...if you don't want me to. It's better than just staying in your room right? And I did promise to lighten you up a bit remember." he laughed nervously.

A warm feeling spread over her body as she recovered from her shock. He was asking her out! Wasn't he? or maybe he just felt sorry for her stuck in her room. He was just her friend remember and he wanted some company that was all. So did she. Her face broke out in that large smile that seemed to release the warmth radiating inside her.

"That sounds lovely Ron. I would love to go with you as long it won't disrupt your work." she gushed out.

"Really?...I mean...Nah. I didn't plan to do much work tomorrow anyway. I need a rest you think? The train leaves at 8:30 in the morning and it only takes a half hour to Elgin. It's a short walk to the little town so we should be there before 9:30. We can have a late breakfast or lunch later if you want...or both actually." he grinned.

"I look forward to it Ron. I'll meet you at the train station a little before 8:30 then ok? Good night Ron" she tried to sound calm as she felt her face start to cool off. "Oh...and I'm glad I got to meet Ginny. She seems like a nice girl who cares a lot for you."

"Yeah she does I guess." he said happily before grabbing his bag. "Right then...I shouldn't keep you any longer. Have a good night Hermione. I'll see you tomorrow." he smiled at her before turning and heading down the corridor.

Darn! Darn! Why this morning of all days! Please don't let him leave without me!

Hermione was virtually running along the road to Hogsmeade having finally pried herself away from the Headmistress who had rather untimely intercepted her on her way out of the castle to go over some student reports. She had momentarily consider lying about her plans but could not bring herself to tell the Headmistress that she was on her way to a meeting? it was...with a member of the project team. She had awakened earlier than was necessary and was ready a good half hour before her scheduled departure even after changing and changing back her blouse and jumper numerous times in front of her mirror. Now she was late. Really late. Please don't let him leave without me!

As she reached the platform somewhat out of breath, the train departure announcement magically boomed over the station as she scanned around desperately looking for a snatch of red hair above the small crowd that was moving towards the train. Had he already boarded? Had he left to find her? She felt frustrated and a bit lost and tears started to well in her wide eyes as she continued to look around.

Just as it seemed that the doors to the train were about to close, she suddenly felt a large hand grab onto hers and pull her towards the nearest door.

"I thought you stood me up Miss Granger. Hurry. Come on."

He held her hand tighter as he jumped onto the train pulling her up with him and through the closing door. As the train jolted forward she fell against him and his hand moved around her waist to steady her. His clean smell assailed her and she closed her eyes for a brief second to savour the safe warm feeling that enveloped her. His tiny laugh jolted her out of her stupor as she realised that she not uttered a word to him as yet. She quickly pulled herself away and turned to him.

"I'm so sorry I was late Ron. You wouldn't bel..." she started before he stopped her.

"Let's get a seat first then you can apologize properly for stressing me out before my breakfast." he chuckled as he took her arm gently and led them down the aisle before settling into an empty compartment. Ron seemed to finally relax fully as he passed his hands through his hair before grinning at her.

"Good Morning Hermione...overslept have you?" he smirked. She couldn't help smiling back at him.

"Good Morning to you too Ron and no...I did not oversleep. As a matter of fact I was ahead of schedule to meet you when Professor McGonagall stopped me to go over some reports. I had to basically shrug her off with some lame excuse to get away...I'm really sorry for being late. It's quite unlike me." she informed him a bit guiltily.

"Well I keep telling you. It's good to be "unlike" yourself sometimes Hermione. It can help you relax." he laughed out at her. "Apology accepted by the way."

She laughed along with him as they continued their short ride into the nearby muggle town. It felt so easy to be here with him after all her nerves earlier. She still remembered his hand on hers and the closeness of him as he held her briefly. With her limited experience she certainly realised that she had never felt such strong emotions from such a simple touch. It made her light headed and light hearted. Maybe he did have the ability to lighten her up after all, she laughed to herself.

Soon they alighted from the train at their stop and Ron led her along a narrow road towards the town. He continued to chat merrily next to her as she listened contentedly. He was just wearing his pale blue long cotton sleeve jumper under his open jacket and she wondered if he was cold. He never appeared to suffer from the brisk weather as his daily runs exhibited.

As they crossed over a small wooden bridge just before entering the main street, Ron stopped to point out the small cafe which was situated along a small side road next to the winding river. The little town seemed to just waking up as few people could be seen going about their business. Standing on the bridge over the river and looking out at the sleepy town Hermione felt a peace and calm about her that she welcomed.

"Oh this is beautiful Ron. It looks so peaceful here. Thanks for bringing me." she said as she gazed over the railing. She felt herself blushing when she realised that he was looking at her and not at the scenery. He jumped a little as she turned to him.

"Hey have you had anything to eat yet?" he asked. "Trust me this place has the best pancakes...and the best sandwiches...and the best deserts." he gushed. "I have to buy a minimum amount of food so that I can charge my batteries but to me it's more than a fair deal." he grinned.

"I'm a bit hungry actually and those pancakes sound heavenly. Must be the fresh air." she replied a bit surprised at her admission. She was indeed hungry.

Soon they were seated in the cosy cafe next to the glass window overlooking the river. Having placed their order, Ron set his batteries up for charging off the wall plug and settled in his chair across from her. He had shed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves and was looking as relaxed as she had ever seen him. He also looked amazingly attractive to her and she had deliberately pretended to study her menu in order to stop herself from over staring at him. The young waitress who had served them however did nothing to hide her open keenness with him and flirted and smiled her way through the order much to Hermione's annoyance and mostly oblivious to Ron it seemed.

"Hey can I ask you something." he suddenly said.

"Sure...wait...are we back in the game by any chance?" she asked raising her brow..

"No...well...forget the game. You don't have to answer unless you want to ok? but you can still ask me anything and I promise to answer as best I can." he said.

"Well that hardly seems fair does it. I think we will stick to the rules of the game for go ahead." she told him boldly.

" you and Harry..well..." he stopped as Hermione waved her hand in the air and sighed loudly.

"Not you too! Why do people always assume Harry and I have something going on?...It's annoying really." she shot at him.

As he overcame his initial shock at her outburst, he suddenly gave her a smirk.

"Oooh... it seems like I touched a sore point there Miss Granger. Will you relax. I already kinda know that you and Harry have...nothing going on in your words. If you had waited a bit before flying off the handle you would have heard my question you and Harry ever talk about the war and Voldemort or is it still hard to bring up those memories? he informed her quite smugly.

Hermione felt a bit stupid for jumping on him so readily.

"Sorry. I guess I do over react to that subject." she apologized thinking suddenly of her mother.

"But surely you expect people to assume that Hermione, after all you both were so close throughout school and during the war." he said seriously. "Did you ever expect it yourself?" he suddenly asked.

Were they still playing this game?

"You know I did actually but it just never felt right. Harry is more like a brother to me for some reason. I just wish people could except that. I guess they all prefer the more romantic version." she gave a tiny laugh before staring directly at him. "I don't think you can willingly choose someone to just has to happen on its own...sometimes when you least expect it." she finished softly enough to wonder if he had heard her last words.

Ron remained silent as he stared at her and she was glad that their food arrived to shield him from her sudden flushed face.

"To answer your question. We rarely speak about the war now, at least not about the bad parts. We still managed to have some really good times in school in spite of the coming war and those memories I guess are easier to talk about..." she meant to continue when something struck her.

"Hey how did you know that there was nothing between Harry and me? You seem to be awfully sure of that." she asked suspiciously.

He paused before stuffing a forkful of pancake into his mouth. She guess he was deliberately buying some time before answering. After a long chew he cleared his throat.

"An old friend mentioned it to me once." he paused again. "Actually she's also an old friend of yours too." he quipped.

Her mind now raced. An old friend of theirs? It didn't seem possible.

"Ron?.." she arched her brow.

"Luna...Luna Lovegood. She was sorta my neighbour. We were close when we were growing up. She was the only real friend I ever had apart from my family and she never treated me...well like I was different you know. I'm sure you realise that Luna is a bit...unorthodox so it was like she always saw me for just me. Then she went off to Hogwarts and I only got to see her during the holidays but we kept close until the threat of war started to get serious and then I saw less and less of her..." he drifted off.

Luna! She was his friend! That took her by surprise but she had always liked her even though she was a bit spaced out sometimes. She was a loyal and gifted member of the DA and had fought with them in the war. She never spoke about Ron at least not to her and she wondered just how much of a friendship they shared. His voice drifted back to her as she cleared her thoughts.

"I remember once she mentioned that everyone expected Harry and his best female friend to become a couple but she knew that it could never happen because she studied you two well and both of your...halos or auroras...or sometime like that were romantically incompatible. She always knew you would be just good friends and I knew Luna good enough to believe her. She was always right about those things." he finished with a large sigh.

"Ron it's so good that you know Luna. Honestly. I haven't seen her in a while but she is a nice girl and a good friend to Harry and me." she told him enthusiastically. "Have you seen her recently?" she asked.

"Not really. She works with her dad at the newspaper. I checked on her after the war ended but I haven't kept in touch. I should though now that I think about it." he seemed to realise.

As they finished eating they both fell into much lighter conversation and her light feeling returned. Suddenly there were no more analysis going on her head. No more over thinking and worry about anything. There was just Ron and herself having a good time and enjoying each other's company in the little cafe next to the river. It seemed that a new part of her had suddenly been discovered and all she wanted was to continue to explore this exciting place she found herself immersed in.

Before they knew it the charger on Ron's batteries beeped below them signalling completion. It was after 12:00 and Ron had not done an ounce of work and she had not even pulled out a book from her bag to read. Blushing slightly Hermione regretfully suggested that they get back to Hogsmeade. She had allowed herself enough enjoyment with this man but she could not overdo it today. Ron ordered some takeaway sandwiches and they were soon crossing over the little bridge back to the station.

When they arrived in Hogsmeade Ron immediately offered to walk her back to the castle and she smiled happily to herself as they both continued to talk and laugh on the way. They were so immersed in each other that they did not notice the figure approaching from the opposite direction until they almost collided together. It was Dickinson Ellwood and he had a scowl on his face.

"Oh hello Dickinson. Sorry we didn't see you." Hermione stated flatly looking a bit flustered. The look on his face quite remarkably cleared up.

"Hello Hermione. It's all right. It seems you may have been distracted I guess." he glanced at Ron who returned the scowl that was previously noted. Before Ron could say anything he turned back to Hermione with a smile.

"I was just on my way into town to get some teaching supplies so I'll leave you to it. I'll catch up with you later. Take care now." he said hurriedly and returned to his path before she could reply.

As she glanced at Ron, she now sensed that his mood had changed for the worst. She had never really seen a sullen side to him but he was silent and he had that same look of churning around something in his head. As his eyes caught her, she caught a glimpse of that deep sadness she had felt before and her heart sank a bit. They had shared such a wonderful day and she would hate for it to end like this because of a chance meeting with Dickinson.

"You deserve someone like Harry you know?" he suddenly spurted out of nowhere. "I mean...I wish you could have been a couple like everyone wanted. He sounds like a really nice guy and you should have a fellow like that...and not someone like that Dickwood arse there." he stated staring forward now.

Her heart now dropped out of sight. What had happened! What was he saying? He knew what she really thought of Dickinson or she hoped he did. What was really killing her was that apparently Ron wanted someone else for her and was not factoring himself at all with her. Did he think that being a squib would affect her more intimate decisions with regards to him...after all that they has shared today. Her brain should have taken more time to analyse this but instead she did what was more natural for her.

"So you spend one morning with me and now you feel you have the right to tell me who is good and who is not good for me!" she turned on him sharply. "And how much clearer can I be, leave Harry out of this!" she all but growled.

His blue eyes seemed to suddenly expand in size and she momentarily forgot what she should be saying.

"No! Hermione I didn't mean it like that...I'm not telling you...Don't be angry please..." he stuttered out but it was too late.

"I had a really nice time today Ron but it seems that you have not taken the time to know me at all." she said coldly. "When you decide to take that time instead of meddling in my affairs, let me know. Thanks again for getting me out of my room but I have to return now." she turned and rushed off to the front gate.

"Hermione please...I'm sorry...I didn't mean to upset you...please come back." she heard him call behind her but the tears had already begun to fall on her cheeks and she started to run through the castle along the nearest corridor to get away as quickly as possible.

How could she let herself get into this position so easily? Deep down she knew how but she should have resisted it. She was furious with herself! Why now..why him...after all her resolve to make this a better year for herself.

The tears were now falling freely and she had no idea where she was heading when she suddenly heard a deep rumbling overhead. Before she could register what it was she felt something hard hit the back of her head and she stumbled crying out from the sudden pain. Was she being attacked? Another loud crack sounded above and as she turned she felt sharp blows to her shoulder, back and hip as she crumpled to the ground among a pile of rubble and stone.

She heard the faint sound of her name being shouted in the distance.

"Ron..." she whispered as the blackness overcame her.

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