Bulldog - a oneshot.
You could describe being creative like having an itch, and that finishing the process is like scratching it, but that's not totally accurate - creativity is more like a pimple. Sometimes it just appears overnight, and sometimes it takes days for that bugger to rise to the surface. Sometimes it will just disappear and there'll be no thought of it again. Most of the time it will manifest, and sometimes it's painful getting rid of it and sometimes it's not, but you're usually glad to have it gone when it's done. That would be more accurate, I think.
This piece is something different, or at least, I tried to make it that way. I'm not going to overexplain it (here, anyway - might happen in the review thread), and it's quite short and self-explanitory and self-contained. Enjoy, please.
There was silence in the train carriage. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable silence that could easily be shared among three friends, Hermione thought, but it was definitely more comfortable than all the long gaps in conversations she’d had with her parents over the summer. She didn’t blame them for being at a loss for things to talk about – she was their only daughter, so bright, so clever, and she was going to this strange place for most of the year, dressing in robes, learning how to cast spells and brew potions, and coming home to not understand things like personal computers and all-in-one remote controls. Her parents were still her parents, and she still loved them, of course, but this year the distance between her and them had obviously grown.
Not really surprising, when Hermione considered how much she censored herself in her letters back home. It had probably started with that summer break at the end of their second year, where she had seen her parents’ eyes go wide when she relayed the story of the Basilisk - Hermione herself was just giving them second-hand information, for the most part, since she had been creeping down a corridor, mirror in hand, one moment, and then waking up before the end-of-year feast in the hospital wing the next, but it was clear what message her parents got – this Hogwarts, this magic school, was not much like the fairy-tale castle they had initially thought it to be. From then on, other details were just quietly not stressed in her letters – how Divination was a load of rubbish instead of updates about the escaped madman Sirius Black, how well her friend Harry was doing in the Tri-Wizard Tournament instead of how dangerous it was, and preparing for the big exams at the end of this very important year of school, and not the more-important student rebellion or return of any Dark Lords. She mostly wrote about very mundane things, for someone who went to a magical school, and she often wondered if the other Muggle-born children at the school had similar problems.
Maybe I’ll ask Dean about it, Hermione thought, or ask Ginny to ask him.
Ron put one of his feet on the seat, next to Hermione, stretching his rather long legs while still fiddling with a prototype of something he had gotten from his brothers – some little ball with brightly-coloured spots on it that floated about the surface. It reminded Hermione a little of a Rubik’s Cube. Fred and George had passed it on with the cryptic comment that, since Ron was so good at chess, he should appreciate it. Apparently it was a puzzle of some kind, and apparently it was quite engaging, since Ron hadn’t noticed Hermione staring at him for a full minute after he moved his foot.
“What?” he said, with a look that gave away he had some idea of what was to follow.
“Put your foot down.”
“Why? Nobody’s sitting there,” was his response.
“Because,” Hermione started, and she then realise she was a little lost for a reason. “Because you’re a Prefect. Set a good example.”
Ron grinned at this, and while still looking at Hermione, he asked, “Harry, am I setting a bad example for you?”
Harry, who had been watching rather passively out the window of the carriage, replied, “No, Ron.”
“Not feeling that you need to copy me, or anything?”
“My feet are staying right where they are, thanks.”
Ron nudged Hermione a little with his foot, and said with a shadow of that grin still on his face, “I’ll put my foot down if any more impressionable minds show up. Promise.” She sighed as he went back to his puzzle-ball.
She didn’t really mind his foot up on the seat, Hermione thought. It was a change from when she had first arrived at the Burrow this year, where Ron was acting like she’d give him a static shock if they accidentally got a little too close. She had missed it completely, of course, at first, until there was something Ginny had said – it was something about Ron washing his hair a ridiculous amount the night before she arrived, or something, that had caused Ron to turn a rather embarrassing shade of crimson and Mrs Weasley to shift the subject of conversation to Ginny’s O.W.L. year – and it had all just fallen into place. She hadn’t said anything, and had wished occasionally from that point on that she was a little bit more like Lavender or Parvati, whose Gryffindor courage seemed to manifest in being able to tell the boys they liked that they liked them without blushing furiously or feeling like they were having difficulty breathing.
Although, this was a little different, wasn’t it? It was a little ironic that it took Viktor taking an interest in her to properly clarify how she felt, when he was so much the fantasy of many many young girls (a group with until relatively recently had included Hermione herself) – he was mature, and softly-spoken, and mysteriously foreign, and he was famous (but that’s not the reason she liked him), and he was the one who sought her out; chose her over the other girls, even. It was like he was taken straight from the pages of some Mills and Boon-lite young adult reading material (something Hermione would never admit to being familiar at all with).
But, after the Yule Ball, the fantasy seemed kind of… well, silly. Viktor was very nice, but it just felt forced the whole time, like they were both playing out parts in a previously-mentioned teen novel – and awkwardly, to boot – and that they weren’t really being themselves, let alone feeling emotions that were like fireworks or calling down little cartoon animals to sing things while they skipped through the forest, or whatever was supposed to happen. The fantasy was apparently just that, and she’d realised she’d much rather the reality of staying at the Burrow for the end of the summer, say, or Ron teaching her the finer points of wizard’s chess.
That’s how she’d imagined the summer going, but that had been put on hold for a little while when Harry had shown up. Not because his presence would have interrupted anything – Harry was at least more perceptive than his best friend – but because this summer he hadn’t really been himself. It wasn’t like last year – which Hermione supposed, in retrospect, was a little justified, with Professor Dumbledore all but refusing to tell Harry anything other than what was absolutely necessary – but there was a change, nonetheless. His smiles faded a little faster, and he spent a little more time just gazing blankly at nothing (like he was doing now; the window outside had ceased to be interesting and Harry had moved on to the smaller window in the door to their section of the carriage). He looked like he was missing sleep, too – Hermione had asked him about it once, and he shrugged it off, saying Hedwig had kept him up pestering him for food, but later Ron had later confirmed when Harry was out of earshot that Hedwig had hardly been at the Burrow since he’d arrived.
Hermione had wanted to confront him about it. Ron had wanted to wait. Hermione had said it wasn’t good for Harry not to talk about what had happened with Sirius. Ron had countered that Harry would talk when he was ready. Hermione had said this wasn’t like last year, and Ron had said that Professor Lupin would be at the Burrow soon, and Harry should talk to him first, and she had reluctantly agreed. Remus only stayed for one night, but he had taken Harry aside after dinner; Harry was even more distracted the following day, however, so Hermione hadn’t found the nerve to ask for details about what they talked about. He could have still been thinking it over, she supposed – from how many times she saw him quickly correcting himself, Harry still thought of Remus as his teacher first and as someone who also knew Sirius second. Remus still carried himself like a teacher, so she-
The door to the carriage slid open, and Ron quickly jerked both his feet to the floor. Hermione doubted the trolley lady would have cared too much, and she smiled to herself as she said she didn’t want anything, thankyou. Ron declined anything, too, and had to nudge Harry to get him to add that he wasn’t terribly hungry. The door slid shut, and Harry resumed gazing at it.
Hermione thought for a moment, and decided now, now was the right time to be talking to Harry about Sirius, and tried to catch Ron’s eye so he’d put down the little spotted ball. Unfortunately, now was also the time it sunk to Harry that the sweets trolley was making its way up the corridor, as he stood up, said, “Actually, I think I will get something,” and left without so much as a glance backwards.
“That was strange, wasn’t it?” she said after Harry had shut the door.
“That people get hungry on the train? Very.”
“You know what I mean,” Hermione replied, giving Ron a look.
“Hermione,” he said, “You’re thinking too hard about this. It’s Harry, he’s not- he’s not an Arithmancy problem.”
“It’s all these tiny things!” she burst out. “They have to add up to something.”
It was Ron’s turn to give her a look.
“Well, you know what I mean. Harry’s different. It’s just… very…”
“Subtle?” Ron offered.
“Exactly. Very subtle. And-“
But she wasn’t allowed to finish her thought. Harry had come back, and he wasn’t alone.
“Hello Neville. Luna,” said Ron, and Luna replied with a floaty, “Hello, Ronald,” while Neville raised his hand in a meek wave, and started to ask if it was alright for them to be here.
“Of course it is,” said Hermione, and was about to shuffle towards the window to make room, when Luna stepped past her and sat by the window of the train herself. Hermione noticed Luna had a rolled-up magazine that could only have been The Quibbler in one hand, and a rather dormant chocolate frog held in the other. Harry went to reclaim his seat, leaving Neville standing awkwardly for a moment before sitting down on the edge of the seat next to Ron, who promptly took this as a sign to put his feet back on the space next to Hermione.
“Harry caught Luna’s frog,” offered Neville as a conversation piece. At this Ron raised his eyebrows.
“It would have gotten halfway down the train, otherwise,” he followed up.
“Good catch then, mate,” said Ron, and Harry just shrugged.
“Seeker, you know.” It was obvious he was trying to play the event down, given how impressed Neville was.
“It seems like a shame to eat it, now,” said Luna as she held the frog up level with her face. It was quite docile, the momentary burst of magic to animate it wearing off rapidly. “I wonder if they’re happy, while they’re alive?” she mused aloud.
Hermione was about to say something, quote the theories about the effects of self-ambulatory spells on inanimate objects, perhaps, and then realised very quickly it would be a fruitless conversation, given Luna’s decidedly odd view of the world. As if to drive the point home, Harry then asked her something about her being in Sweden over the summer, and Hermione remembered Luna talking about looking for evidence about Crumple-Horned Somethings (and how did Harry remember that, and still have such mediocre grades in History of Magic?). She didn’t dislike Luna – she was very dedicated in the D.A., and she seemed very nice – but Hermione had to learn to keep hold of her tongue, since she’d found herself on several occasions last year arguing against something bizarre Luna was convinced was totally possible and logical. Nobody else seemed to care to debate these statements – Ron and Ginny, their family having known the Lovegoods for a long time, were able to filter out her odd ideas, and Harry had said he thought it was kind of funny – so it had been in the interest of not bogging down the D.A. meetings with arguments about things in The Quibbler that she kept quiet, but Hermione still found it a difficult skill to master. It was very frustrating, when clearly no reputable source would mention Crumple-Horned Snorkacks (that was the name!) or Heliopaths or Vermicious Knids or…
Hermione smiled to herself. She and Harry were the only two in the carriage raised by Muggles, and she doubted the Dursleys would have condoned anything as fantastic as Roald Dahl, no matter how many mean things happened to children in his stories, so the joke was hers and hers alone.
“Hermione? You look like a Wrackspurt got you,” Harry said abruptly, and the rest of the carriage laughed. Hermione was about to rise to tell him Wrackspurts weren’t real, when something fell into place for her. Wrackspurts were one of Luna’s things; Harry wasn’t really making a joke, it was a little reference for Luna. She smiled along with everyone else, and glanced at Harry and Luna by the window. Their laughter had been just a little different, because of that private joke. She saw them look away from each other, and the difference was definitely there; it was just subtle.
For feedback, please put it here.
"Whoa! Three hennas! Must be an important one."
Last edited by 3Hennas; October 10th, 2007 at 11:27 pm.
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