Chapter: Fourteen - Felix Felicis
Brief summary of scene: Birds. Lots of fat, golden birds. Ow.
Disclaimer: This excerpt from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This material is presented for the purposes of review and critique only.
"Looking for Ron?" she asked, smirking. "He's over there, the filthy hypocrite."
Harry looked into the corner she was indicating. There, in full view of the whole room, stood Ron, wrapped so closely around Lavender Brown it was hard to tell whose hands were whose.
"It looks like he's eating her face, doesn't it?" said Ginny dispassionately. "But I suppose he's got to refine his technique somehow. Good game, Harry."
She patted him on the arm; Harry felt a swooping sensation in his stomach, but then she walked off to help herself to more butterbeer. Crookshanks trotted after her, his yellow eyes fixed upon Arnold.
Harry turned away from Ron, who did not look like he would be surfacing soon, just as the portrait hole was closing. With a sinking feeling, he thought he saw a mane of bushy brown hair whipping out of sight.
He darted forward, sidestepped Romilda Vane again, and pushed open the portrait of the Fat Lady. The corridor outside seemed to be deserted. "Hermione?"
He found her in the first unlocked classroom he tried. She was sitting on the teacher's desk, alone except for a small ring of twittering yellow birds circling her head, which she had clearly just conjured out of midair. Harry could not help admiring her spell-work at a time like this.
"Oh, hello, Harry," she said in a brittle voice. "I was just practicing."
"Yeah . . . they're — er — really good. ..." said Harry.
He had no idea what to say to her. He was just wondering whether there was any chance that she had not noticed Ron, that she had merely left the room because the party was a little too rowdy, when she said, in an unnaturally high-pitched voice, "Ron seems to be enjoying the celebrations."
"Er . . . does he?" said Harry.
"Don't pretend you didn't see him," said Hermione. "He wasn't exactly hiding it, was — ?"
The door behind them burst open. To Harry's horror, Ron came in, laughing, pulling Lavender by the hand.
"Oh," he said, drawing up short at the sight of Harry and Hermione.
"Oops!" said Lavender, and she backed out of the room, giggling. The door swung shut behind her.
There was a horrible, swelling, billowing silence. Hermione was staring at Ron, who refused to look at her, but said with an odd mixture of bravado and awkwardness, "Hi, Harry! Wondered where you'd got to!"
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head so that she looked like a strange, feathery model of the solar system.
"You shouldn't leave Lavender waiting outside," she said quietly. "She'll wonder where you've gone." She walked very slowly and erectly toward the door. Harry glanced at Ron, who was looking relieved that nothing worse had happened.
"Oppugno!" came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild. The little flock of birds was speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.
"Gerremoffme!" he yelled, but with one last look of vindictive fury, Hermione wrenched open the door and disappeared through it. Harry thought he heard a sob before it slammed.