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Social Schizophrenia

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Paying Attention
Title: Paying Attention
Author: eponine254
Fandom/Character(s)/Pairing(s): HP (Trio)
Genre: Humour
Rating: PG
Words: 2042
Challenge/Prompt: fictionland #09: These Pens Were Made for Writing. Prompts 6 (Quote: “No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention.” -Chuck Palahniuk) & 15 (Artist’s Choice: Exam-time).
Warnings: One slightly suggestive joke.
Notes: This is incredibly silly. But after writing 13k already, I was in the mood for some incredible silliness.
Summary: Harry and Ron beg Hermione to let them have her Transfiguration notes. She agrees, but on the condition that they earn them.

Paying Attention

"No," Hermione said firmly. "Absolutely not. I told you – not this time."

"But Hermione," Ron pleaded. "These are like the most important exams we’ve ever written. If you don't help us, we'll fail!"

"Well, then maybe you should have been paying attention in class," Hermione said. "I said ages ago that I wasn't going to give you my notes any more."

"But Hermione," Harry said reasonably. "If we fail, it'll be on your conscience. You don't want that, do you?"

"It's Transfiguration," Ron said, as though this changed everything. "It's not like it's History of Magic, or anything stupid like that. It's really important, Hermione."

"I know that," she said. "That's why I was awake in class, taking notes."

"We were awake too!" Harry said. "Well, most of the time."

"Well, I was awake, and I wasn't having swordfights or reminiscing about my heroic past."

"Yeah, but come on," Ron said. "There was a lot to reminisce about. Remember how we totally defeated Voldemort?"

"Yet again, a task in which you would have failed miserably without me," Hermione said, shaking her head and turning back to her notes. "And yet I somehow managed to pay attention in class even while also bearing the burden of that great victory. You have the textbook. Just read that."

"Yeah, but Hermione, it's really long," Harry said, eyeing the huge book. "We won't get through all that in time. You know we won't. And I mean, we can do all the practical stuff," he went on, seizing on this point like a drowning man’s last hope of rescue. "It's just the theory we need."

Hermione looked at the two of them as they watched her expectantly. She sighed. Two grown men, and they couldn't muster up enough attention between them to get through their last year of school without her. It was so typical them that it had taken them until two days before their last Transfiguration exam to realise that they couldn't just write "I totally defeated Voldemort" on their exam papers and get full marks.

Hermione tried not to smile. However much the world had changed, some people were exactly the same. And, as had always been the case, without her, they were screwed.

"So will you help us?" Ron said, evidently sensing weakness. "Pretty please?"

"Maybe we should ask Ginny," Harry said.

Ginny was working in the library, a strategy which Hermione knew she had adopted precisely because it limited the risk that her brother and her boyfriend would pester her for help with their own last-minute studying. Hermione still preferred to work in the common room, even though the library was quieter. Maybe it was all the events of the previous year, but she found that she wasn't quite as devoted to her studying as she once had been. Obviously it still mattered, but even Hermione had to admit that, when it came to Transfiguration, she knew more than enough to get through the exam, and then some.

Whereas her two impossible best friends looked very likely to be stuck in Transfiguration again next year.

"Fine," she sighed at last.

"Yes!" said Ron, giving Harry a high five.

"But first," Hermione went on, ignoring this, "you'll have to earn it."

They stared at her blankly. "What do you want us to do?" Harry said. "We could promise to do better next time... But these are our last exams... So... What?"

"First," Hermione said, "you can compose me a poem, telling me how great I am."

The boys carried on staring at her. "What?" said Ron.

"A poem," Hermione repeated firmly. "Ron, that task's yours."

"Um," said Ron.

Hermione was rather enjoying this. Maybe it was the proximity of the end of their school careers, but she felt cheerfully light-headed, a rare change from her usual exam-time mood of anxiety and rage. She could afford one evening of silliness.

"And Harry," she went on. "Your task is to find me a really interesting book I haven't read. Well, go," she said, as they both carried on standing there.

Harry and Ron looked at each other. "To the library, then?" Harry said.

"I'll come with you," said Ron.

With a small smile, Hermione returned to her notes.


Ginny had her fingers in her ears, but Harry shook her by the arm, until at last she said, in a fierce whisper, "What?"

"Help me find a book!" whispered Harry.

"No, help me write this poem!" said Ron, remembering too late to keep his voice down, and earning a murderous look from Madam Pince.

"Or I could study for the Transfiguration exam," Ginny said. "Like you two should be doing."

"It's a long story," said Harry. "Just help me find – "

"Your hair... is brown... like a pretty Hippogriff…" Ron murmured, sucking the end of his quill and gazing into space with an expression so vacant that Ginny seriously wondered how he had even made it as far as seventh year.

"His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad," Harry hummed quietly, with an innocent look on his face.

Ginny blushed bright red, and punched him on the arm. "Fine, fine!" she whispered. "I'll help. But only for ten minutes. Then I'm getting back to work. I'm not failing this exam just because you two idiots would rather play Exploding Snap than listen to McGonagall."

"We never play Exploding Snap in class!" Ron said, indignantly.

"Yeah, he's right," said Harry. "It's way too loud. She'd have it off us in about half a second."

Ginny muttered something rude under her breath.

"You're so sweet when you're angry," Harry said, shifting his chair out of Ginny's reach before she could punch him again.

"You, go and look in the Charms section," she directed Harry. "She likes Charms. She'll have read all the newer books already, so find something old and unusual."

"How will I know what's unusual?" Harry said.

"I don't know, do I?" said Ginny. "It's not like I spend my time reading boring library books." Harry grinned and opened his mouth to speak, but Ginny cut him off. "And if you crack one suggestive joke about how I do like to spend my time, I swear to wizard God, Harry Potter, you will not benefit from that expenditure of time for the entire summer."

Which was enough to send Harry in the direction of the Charms section in silence.

Ron was staring at Ginny. "I so did not need to hear any of that."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she said primly. "I was obviously talking about Quidditch."

"Um, right," said Ron. "That was what I thought."

"So what have you got so far?" Ginny asked, yanking the piece of parchment out of Ron's hands. "You have one line?"

"Hey!" Ron said defensively. "It's a really good one line! And anyway, it's hard to find anything that rhymes with ‘hippogriff’."

"Then don't finish the line with it."

"Oh yeah..."

"I've found it!" Harry said as he reappeared, brandishing a large, heavy book.

"Why does Harry only have to find a stupid book and I have to write a poem?" grumbled Ron. "What did you find, anyway?"

"Charming Cupcakes," Harry said. "You know she's always wanted to bake perfect cupcakes. Well, now that we're of age, she can do it by magic!"

Ginny took the book from him. It was huge and heavy, and full of tiny writing and complicated looking diagrams of frosting.

"Good choice," she said. "Now Ron... Go for a haiku."

"A what who?" said Ron.

"A poem so short that I can get back to my studying and we won't all fail," said Ginny. “Give me your quill.”


A few minutes later, Harry and Ron were back in Gryffindor Tower. Hermione was hard at work, humming to herself as she pored over her notes. She looked up as they came in. "What have you got?" she said.

Harry handed her the book. She paged through it. "This is perfect!" she said. "I can finally get those red velvet cupcakes right now! Harry, you have passed the first task. What about you, Ron?"

Ron looked uncomfortable, holding up his bit of parchment. He cleared his throat.

"Of all the witches
I have known, you, Her-my-knee,
Are the brilliantest."

Hermione tried not to laugh. "A very good haiku, Ron," she said. "You too have passed the first task."

"Wait, there are more?" Harry said in dismay.

"Of course!" Hermione said. "Exam notes are serious business. I can't go giving them to just anyone."

"But Hermione," Ron said. "Come on!"

"You can have my notes," Hermione said. "Just as soon as each of you knits a house elf hat."

"Hermione, don't you think that keeping us from studying is exactly the last thing you should be doing so close to the exam?"

Hermione contemplated this for a moment. "No," she said at last. "You wouldn't be studying anyway, would you?"

"Well," Ron said, but Harry kicked him.

"I thought not," Hermione said. "Come on, I have some extra needles. I'll teach you."

"Can't we just transfigure something else into an ugly hat?" Ron muttered, looking around the common room for likely future hats.

"If you could do that, then you wouldn't need my notes."

"Touché, Hermione."


They sat in the armchairs around the fire, Hermione's notes lying abandoned on her favourite desk by the window.

"And insert, and wrap around, and slide off, and repeat," Hermione said, as the knitting needles in the air in front of her clicked their way through a woolly hat.

Harry had managed to get the needles to stay airborne, at least, but they had yet to make anything more useful or recognisable than a big tangle of wool, and they kept trying to stab him in the eye.

Ron had given up on magic entirely and was trying to knit by hand, a task which, Hermione was glad to see, he was almost accomplishing. If a hat ever resulted from the experiment, it would have to go to an elf with several extra ears. At least then the holes could be put to good use.

"And done," Hermione said at last, as a perfect little hat dropped into her lap. "How are you two doing?"

She looked over to see how Harry was progressing. He held up the tangled ball of wool apologetically. Hermione sighed. "It's very postmodern," she said. "What about you, Ron?"

"Ha!" he said triumphantly, holding up what was, to be fair, almost a hat. At least, it was a knitted something. Hermione's surprise must have shown in her face, because Ron scowled at her. "Don't look so shocked," he said.

"Do we really have to finish these?" Harry said, looking down at the tangle in his hands.

Hermione relented. She had given enough of her study time to this game as it was. "Fine," she said. "That'll do. I think you've earned my notes."

"Yes!" said Ron again. "No more tasks?"

"No more tasks," Hermione said, nodding, and trying not to grin at the looks of childlike excitement on her friends' faces. So this was what it felt like to be Father Christmas. In the parallel universe where that old gentleman gave out study notes in exchange for tangled wool.

She pushed herself out of the armchair and crossed to her desk. "I made you copies already," she said, handing each of the boys a scroll of neatly-rolled parchment, covered with her tiny handwriting. "I assumed you'd need them, so I did triple."

"Hermione," Harry said. "You are the best."

"I know," she said. "Ron's haiku said so. And now," she went on, turning a stern gaze on both of them. "I expect you to study. Hard. If you do not use the notes I have painstakingly written out for you, I will personally transfigure you into something unpleasant."

Ron laughed, but fell silent at the look Hermione gave him. "Um, right," he said, clearing his throat and trying to turn the laugh into a cough without success. "We'll just go to the library, then."

Hermione nodded approvingly, and returned to her studying. She shook her head. They were hopeless, honestly. What would they do without her?

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Haha! Poor Ginny! And it would just be so much like Harry and Ron to sit about reminiscing instead of paying any attention and expect to just somehow get through their exams anyway.

Thanks! I thought it seemed in character. ;) At least Ginny has power over Harry because of... Quidditch.

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