A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, Ron's romantic errors ...
For an instant, the announcement that Ron had arrived froze the five teens. Then Harry struggled to stand up, but not very successfully, as he managed to fall on the floor with Luna all over him. Ginny helped Luna to her feet, while Neville picked Harry up.
The group hurried to the dining room, where they found Professors Lawrence and Spellman, Ron, and a girl who could only be Sabrina Spellman -- she looked a lot like a younger, slightly shorter and bustier version of her mother. They didn't actually pause for the most part, however. Harry, Ginny, and Hermione engulfed Ron with a welcoming wave of affection.
It was therefore Luna who went over to greet the tall, frowning Sabrina. "Hello. My name is Luna. I take it you're Sabrina Spellman?"
"Yes, hello," Sabrina said, keeping her eyes on Ron. "Ronnie's written about us, I take it?"
Luna actually blinked at that, not something she did as often as most people. "No, no he hasn't, actually," she finally said. "Your mother has mentioned you several times, however."
Luna was thought by many to be a bit vague at times (although not by Harry). She often seemed disconnected to what went on around her only because she saw more of what went on around her than most people. She could always tell when a person was in pain, and usually had a good idea what they were feeling, especially if she allowed herself to be close to them.
Luna sensed quickly what had happened. This situation reminded her of some of the reasons why she had tried to stay out of people's lives for nearly her entire first four years at Hogwarts.
Sabrina put what almost passed for a smile on her face, and marched over to the group. Neville saw what was happening, and Luna could feel his panic rise as he turned to her and asked an unvoiced question.
Luna's answering look of panic was all Neville needed to wish he had stayed someplace safe. Like under a bed in a cave someplace. He moved back, dragging a surprised Ginny with him.
"Ronnie, dear? Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?"
The entire room went silent for nearly fifteen very long seconds. Tabitha and Tom looked at each other in a panic, as the situation sunk into their minds.
Then Hermione stepped forward and held out her hand, saying, in her most formal and posh accent, combined with the coldest tones she could muster. This combination had, on various occasions had she known it, slightly intimidated Severus Snape, made Minerva McGonagall smile slightly in approval, and caused a misbehaving Slytherin First year to soil himself, "Why yes, dear Ronnie, perhaps you should introduce us to your young friend."
The tone had never failed to raise the hairs on the back of Ron's neck in terror, but he knew when his back was to the wall. "Well, this is Sabrina Spellman, Professor Spellman's daughter," Ron said, hoping that reminding Hermione of Rina's relationship to a respected teacher would at least prevent Hermione from ripping the girl's eyes out or even worse damage from being done to himself. "Rina, these are my sister, Ginny, and my good friends Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and . . . Hermione Granger."
"Charmed," Hermione stated, refusing to break eye contact with the girl, although she dropped her hand, which Sabrina had made no movement towards.
"Likewise, I am certain," Sabrina replied in the equally chilling tones of the Boston Brahman.
Tabitha stepped between the girls, forcing them to break eye contact before anything (or anyone) exploded. "Lloyd, I see your elves have outdone themselves. Let's eat." She guided the two girls to the table. Tabitha arranged the two girls far apart. This left Ron sitting across from them both. His eyes never left his plate for more than a few seconds at any point in the meal.
Ron ate like a condemned criminal, in large quantities but without seeming to enjoy it much. At the end of the meal, Tabitha whisked her daughter out to hunt up their bedrooms, while Tom took Hermione to the library. Neville, Ginny, Harry, and Luna, retired to their bedrooms as fast as possible.
"Weasley, just what are you up to?" Lloyd asked when they were alone in the dining room.
"I don't know what happened!"
"You mean you haven't started a relationship with Rina while not breaking off your relationship with Hermione? Because I assure you, that's what everyone believes, including the two young ladies."
"Well. . . ."
"Have you broken things off with Hermione?"
"Well, not exactly. . . ."
"Have you asked Rina to go out with you?"
"No. . . ."
Lloyd heard the hesitation in Ron's voice. "Did Rina ask to go out with you?"
"Sort of," Ron said, clutching at the straw, "Saturday morning, when the Headmaster said we'd be spending Christmas together here, wherever here is, instead of at the Ysgol. She said she was glad we'd be together, and I agreed that we . . . well . . . it would be nice to be . . . together. . . ."
"Well, which, if either, are you going to date, assuming either will talk to you after this?"
"I don't know!" Ron said desperately.
"We'll get things sorted."
"I must say that I have no idea what you mean, sir."
Tom decided to leave things alone for the moment.
"When, exactly, did you and Ron start dating?"
"I thought we started Saturday. Either I was wrong, or he hasn't told that prissy little bi. . . ."
"Sabrina!" Tabitha warned.
"'Young friend'! If she uses that snotty tone to me once more. . . ."
"I assure you, Hermione could beat you in a duel quite easily, and with the physical training she's had these past five months, she has a good chance of taking you in a fight, too, despite your having three inches and fifteen pounds on her. And if you ever dared hit her with a sucker punch, or hex, then you'd better hope I'm there to punish you, because you don't want to get Harry Potter mad at you, and hurting Hermione or Luna would be the one sure way to make him see red."
"That is really the powerful Harry Potter? That's the super-hero of the British wizarding world?" Sabrina snorted.
"You should know perfectly well that power is not a function of physical size," Tabitha scolded, "since you know I'm slightly more powerful than your father. That boy is already more powerful than I am, and more powerful than your godfather, for that matter."
That shook the girl. "Really?" She hadn't met anyone more powerful than Tudor Myrddin.
"Really. He's out-dueled Toby Jones since early November, and me since late November. And let me remind you that I love you, but don't mess with Hermione if Ron chooses her."
"He's chosen me," Sabrina said with smug assurance.
"Have you been in his dreams?" Tabitha demanded.
"Yes," Sabrina admitted, "but he doesn't know it. I'll tell him tonight."
"I'm very disappointed in you."
"Do you know if I'll be allowed back to train with Harry this summer?" Ron asked.
"No and yes. No, you won't be back in Britain next summer, but you will be training with Harry, if you want to. You won't be graduating from Hogwarts, either. If you were allowed back, that would mean a great deal of pressure would have to resisted to allow Malfoy back, as well as anyone else that's punished in the future."
"I see. . . . Is there any chance that Rina will be there, too?"
"That would be in large part between Sabrina on the one side and her parents on the other. If it were any girl in North America other than Sabrina, then I'd say there was no chance at all."
Ron started to pace. "Hermione has been my friend for a long time."
Lloyd made an encouraging noise.
"And I've liked her a long time."
"But the one problem has always been . . . she always wants to improve me. It's like nothing I ever do is ever quite good enough for her."
"Don't you think you're exaggerating a little?"
"Hermione cared more that I acted like a perfect prefect and got good grades than that I was a good friend. I know, it sounds like I'm just whinging, and maybe I am, but I can't think of one thing I've ever done that she hasn't said I could have either done better or shouldn't have done at all."
"She actually seems to like me the way I am."
"And do you like Rina?"
"Then I would say that your decision has been made. You just have to face the consequences."
Ron sighed. He hoped Trowbridge or Lawrence would put him back together after Hermione, and maybe Harry, hexed him.
Tom waited outside the library while Ron talked with Hermione. When the lad had left less than five minutes later, he knew things had not gone well, from Hermione's point of view.
He walked in, and wasn't surprised to see the teen standing at the library window staring out, arms folded, trying not to cry. With a touch of his wand, Tom transfigured two of the afghans into hooded cloaks (any friend of Tabitha's wound up with plenty of afghans). "Come on," he said.
"Where are we going?"
"To get you a little privacy from everyone else."
"Oh," Hermione said in a small voice. She followed Lawrence quietly, almost blindly. She never remembered the trip that took them back to the cabin.
As they stood outside in the half inch of snow on the ground, she was glad for her cloak, as it was slightly below freezing. She saw the clouds were gathering. "It's going to snow, isn't it?" she asked, pretending the stinging wind was all that was making her eyes water.
"Heavily by sometime after midnight, and then light snow for the next three days, or so the Muggle Weather Channel claims."
Hermione stood in silence, enjoying the cuttingly cold wind that hit her face as she looked to the northwest. Finally, she quietly said, "I can't believe how much it hurts. It hurts more than all that tattooing would have if you had done it on my soul."
"It does," Tom agreed. "I've lost friends, including a few I've seen killed. I saw my entire family die. Those all hurt, especially my brother's death, but for the greatest amount of pain hitting me at one time, it's still when I proposed to a girl and she laughed in my face." He moved a little closer. "It's all right to be hurt and angry, Hermione."
Hermione started to cry, and threw herself in Lawrence's arms.
Ron took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He was a bit surprised to see who opened the door. "Err . . . hi."
"Hello, Ronald," Luna said frostily. That gave Ron a strong clue where his reputation might be right now. He had never seen Luna act like that, and no one had ever succeeded in putting that much venom into the pronunciation of his name.
"May I talk with Harry?"
"Very well, Ronald." Luna stepped back to allow Ron into the small study, where Harry was sitting on a sofa with a copy of a Star Wars novel. Luna had obviously been sketching him. "Mister Trowbridge said we should come and decorate the tree at Three," she reminded Harry. "I'll be in Hermione's room." Luna glared at Ron. "You have talked with Hermione?" Ron merely nodded, and Luna left.
"Somehow, I think she's not happy with me," Ron commented.
"You're angry, too, aren't you?"
"How would you feel if Neville had done that to Ginny?" Ron winced. "If it was anyone else but you, I swear I'd really really hurt you."
"Well, yes, I guess you could at that," Ron admitted. "Anything else?"
"Well, it's not like almost the last thing you said to me was to shove something up my arse. It's not like you then went off and did something so stupid it makes my behavior during Fifth year look almost acceptable." Ron winced again. "It's not like you left us without a keeper, me without my best friend, and Hermione without her first love. I have to admit . . . no, no I won't say it. I'm not so angry that I want to ruin us as friends forever."
"I'd like to train with you," Ron said. "Over break and next July."
"And after that?"
"I would imagine Vo . . . Vol . . . You-Know-Who will find some way to challenge you after your next birthday and before school starts."
"True," Harry admitted.
"I'll be with you, if I can."
"Thanks. It would be easy for you to just stay away."
"I wouldn't do that."
The two boys sat there in silence. Finally, Ron said, "So, who are you thinking for keeper?"
"Have you seen Hermione?" Luna asked Ginny and Neville.
"She not in her room?" Neville asked.
"No; the door was ajar, so I even checked her room."
"You think my git of a brother kicked her over for Spellman's daughter?" Ginny asked.
"Yes," Luna said simply.
"Damn him," Ginny snarled, "and her, too!"
"Do you really think she could get Ron interested, if he didn't want to be?" Neville asked.
"Neville, this is not the time to be excusing male behavior."
"I'm not. I'm excusing female behavior. She might have liked Ron, but it was Ron who chose her. We shouldn't be mean to her."
"Especially since we do like Professor Spellman," Luna reminded her friend.
"True," Ginny admitted. "May I at least slap Ron around a bit?"
"I believe Harry might be taking care of that," Luna said.
Ginny snorted. "Harry might do that to some boys, but probably not to Ron."
"You may be right," Luna agreed. She thought for a moment. "No, I'm sure you are right."
"Well, then, I wish Sabrina the best of him," Ginny stated firmly.
"So, is this Sabrina angry with you?" Harry asked.
"Well, you talked with Hermione, right?"
"And then you talked with Sabrina, right?"
Ron's expression was priceless. "Oh . . . shit."
Harry rolled his eyes, a little sad for his friend as Ron raced from the room, and a little sad that, without Ron around Hogwarts, there was always the danger that he would win the 'most clueless boy friend' award.
Tabitha Spellman was an enigma to everyone who knew her. She was beautiful, brilliant, driven, dangerous, and at times, engaging, caring, concerned, and sometimes even sympathetic. As Henry Dorff and a number of women could attest, she could also be sensual and innovative in bed. None could swear they actually knew her, although Henry Dorff came closest, and Tom Lawrence had some shrewd ideas.
Tom Lawrence stood back and admired the clever way Tabitha organized the decoration of the tree, keeping Sabrina and Ron well-away from Hermione, Ginny, and Luna. He was also watching Lloyd. Few people knew of Lloyd Trowbridge's continuing service in Britain. Fewer knew that Lloyd had been not just been working for Tudor as his private field agent in Britain, but had also been an agent of the Wyverns, the Confederation version of the CIA. Hermione had guessed well. The entire mountain was riddled with secret passages, most of which were used by the Wyverns as one of their secret communications bases. Even fewer people had been in the 1/5 of the area which was Lloyd's personal space in the mountain, Tom being one of them. His friend was even more of a loner than he was, and it was good to see his face aglow with playing host.
Tom glanced over the teens. Sabrina, always something of a hyper-active, bouncy girl from the time she could crawl, was beaming at claiming her first boy-friend. Ron looked a little dazed by the day's events. 'I wonder if he has any idea that Sabrina is as controlling as Hermione, even if on different subjects.' He grinned.
That attracted Tabitha's attention, which meant Tom was enlisted in levitating Hermione while Tabitha levitated Luna (it's always best for the most experienced people to levitate the lightest people in any given situation) to decorate the highest branches of the Christmas tree. Everyone then spread around the room, while Lloyd arranged for their presents to appear. Tom saw Sabrina grab Ron's hands, which made the teen jump a little. Neville and Ginny and Harry and Luna were already holding hands, and, as Tom watched, he saw Ginny take Hermione's right hand while Harry took her left.
At that moment, a lute appeared in front of Tabitha. She rolled her eyes and said, "All right, all right, I give in!" She looked around the room. "Christmas carols, anyone?" They sang Christmas carols while presents appeared around the tree.
Dinner was early, and afterwards as they sat at the table, despite a slight stimulant, the teens from Britain were starting to wind down. To the surprise of the British teens, Ron suggested television.
"You watch entirely too much television," Sabrina scolded.
"How can you watch telly at the Ysgol?" Hermione demanded, perking up. "You can't get television or radio reception through wards, and strong magic, especially wards, disrupts electricity."
"On a large scale, you're right, but small closed systems can either be shielded or run magically," Tabitha agreed. "I'll explain the technicalities to you later, if you want."
It was clear that Hermione would want.
"As for the other, you're right. Television and radio waves can't make it through wards. But Hermione, you know that some electro-magnetic waves can make it through easily."
It was clear that Hermione was the only teen following this, because after a moment she said, "Light can."
"And heat and any other number of waves. Some are interfered with, including standard radio and television frequencies, but most aren't. High frequency short wave makes it through, for example, but you would need a huge antenna."
Hermione frowned, and then said, "Satellite?"
"Exactly. The current wizarding wireless is actually a two-hundred and ten band audio satellite system. There are currently twenty-seven visual channels as well, nine in English. For what ever reason, the British have banned television, but not radio."
"There's a nice little black market, though," Lloyd said with a grin.
"We do NOT want to know," Tabitha scolded. She knew that Lloyd was a major source for the equipment.
"The Ysgol gets all those, and some Muggle satellite channels," Sabrina added.
"Do you get ESPN here?" Ron asked Lloyd.
"Yes, but not tonight." Lloyd turned to the other students. "There's a tv concealed in the parlor, a really large-screen tv and video system in the tv room, and there're small tv's in the credenzas in each bedroom and study. But not tonight."
"Before you think about going to your rooms," Tabitha broke in, "let me remind the Faithful of tomorrow morning's sunrise service, and the same for Christmas. If any others wish to come with us, rising time is Five-thirty. Breakfast will be at Eight. It's not quite Eight, local time. You should all try to stay up until Nine at the earliest."