by Croupier

i. Europa

Ron shuffled his trainers on the rug in front of him. He looked over at the armchair to his left, where Hermione sat, paging through Hogwarts, A History. He wondered if she had gotten used to being stared at. He shifted his eyes back to his trainers.

"Do you want to go for a walk?"

"All right."

Ron kept staring at his trainers. He hadn't meant to ask.

An awkward, worried climb through the portrait hole. An awkward, worried trip down the stairs. Their silence pulled them parallel. Never touching.

Outside, the sunlight shone white on their faces. Their silence ensued as they started over the grounds. Hermione broke it.

"What the hell are we doing."

"I've never heard you curse before."

Hermione half-laughed.

Ron smiled. He liked watching her laugh. She hadn't done it in awhile. He didn't blame her. "I dunno, we're ... adjusting, I guess."

"No, I mean what the hell are *we* doing."

Ron remained silent.

"I mean what the hell was that business with Lavender."

The question felt like the first spring thaw, complete with groaning. Ron kept the breaking ice inside.

"I just cursed twice more."

"Yeah, but it was the same word, so it didn't count. I dunno, I just ... you'd been with Krum, right?"

"Yes, and I'm really curious as to how that's relevant."

"So you can't complain."

"I wasn't ‘with' Viktor after accepting a date with you."

Ron fell silent.

"So, basically, you were with Lavender just to get even with me."

"You know what? You never bring up shite like going into the forest and facing down a fucking spider the size of my bedroom. It's always shite I've fucked up on."

She kissed him.


ii. Danaë

"I can't keep doing this." He felt her back tense up inside her bridesmaid's robes.

"You picked a shitty time to tell me."

"No, no, I just meant--you can't always have your back to me. I look at you, you look away. I just want ... I don't know, more openness."

She turned around and looked into his eyes. He saw her shoulders tense. She looked away, closed her eyes, opened them, and let out the breath she'd been holding.

When she turned around, he watched her face fall open.


iii. Leda


Hermione laughed. "She told some fifth-year she'd meet him in the Prefects' bathroom if he gave her the password. Twit never realized the girls' loo would have a different one, because she's an idiot. She'd been drinking some awful firewhiskey-and-gillywater shit she invented, and she just happened to show up while I was taking a bath, and it was all very ... Hogwarts class of '73."


"Yeah, in the yearbooks, all the kids are wearing these Stones tee shirts--it was so fucking ridiculous. Anyway, I was taking a bath, and Parvati was standing there, drunk off her arse by the shower, and she just kind of ... slid in."

"To you?"

"Well, eventually."

"Tell me more."

"Not on your life, love."

"Some girlfriend you are."

"It's kind of cute that our sloppy seconds got each other."

"You're kidding."

"Nope. The night the shit went down."

"Which one? ... Oh. Good God. What else was I missing?"

"Depends on when you skipped class."

"I really didn't skip enough that year."

"Oh, shut up. It was our last year of ... normalcy."

"Yeah, and I wish I'd skipped more. Last chance and all."

"You're terrible."

"And you're a bad girlfriend. What about Padma?"

"What about Padma?"


iv. they are the same plant

Hermione sat on the edge of the bed, smoking a cigarette she'd just rolled. She leaned forward, reaching for the stereo and pressing buttons, a thin arm bridging the distance between her body and the dials. Ron, lying back with his hand resting on his belly, rather resented her insistence on Muggle devices, but he understood. Parents gone, old home gone, something needs to stay constant. Even if it did mean they only listened to her music. He watched her spine move in the moonlight as she skipped through electronic chords. He wondered when her arms and legs had gotten so long.

She moved like a spider.


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