I lay in the grass, basking in the summer sun. Behind me, the familiar voices of the Weasleys drift from the Burrow. Everything from explosions from Fred and George's room to the yelling of Mrs. Weasley about Ginny cleaning her room.
Ron chuckles beside me and stretches out to loosely join our hands. I turn on my side to look at him. His eyes are closed and he smiles softly when a light wind blows his red hair off his head.
"Staring isn't polite, Hermione," he teases gently and a light blush creeps onto my face.
"How do you know I'm looking at you? I could be gazing at the sky for all you know."
Ron smirks and opens his blue eyes, turning on his side to look at me. "Well, for one, you just kind of proved my point. And for two, I can practically feel you look at me. You have a very piercing stare."
I roll my eyes. "Whatever you say, Ronald."
Ron laughs at my use of his full name and returns his attention to the cloudless sky above us.
"Ginevra Weasley, you clean your room this instant!"
"Why should I? Everyone here is family, or practically family! And besides, the mess in my room isn't all mine! Some of it is Hermione's!"
I groan and hope Mrs. Weasley doesn't suddenly start yelling at me to clean. Not that I would refuse, or even complain. It would just cut down on my free time with Ron.
We had started dating a few days before our fifth year ended. We owled a few times a week and tried to get together as often as we could, but it had been getting a little hard to find time to spend together. When his parents invited me to spend the last few days of summer vacation with them, I quickly agreed.
Ron and I got along well. We liked to sit beside each other, sometimes in silence and sometimes talking. Really it was hard for us to find a topic we both could contribute to evenly. He knew very little about the course work we would be learning during our sixth year, and furthermore flat out refused to start studying early with me- not that I was surprised or offended. I, on the other hand, knew only the basics of Qudditch and couldn't hold a conversation about it to save my life.
Eventually, we discovered the topic we both could talk about: Harry. While talking to your boyfriend about your mutual best friend does seem a little odd, it was a safe subject for us if we couldn't think of anything else. Ron had taken to wistfully remembering Dumbledore's Army, which opened up a few new topics for us, but not too many.
Despite all that, I was honestly enjoying dating Ron. He could be a little forgetful, but I knew he meant well. He was very sweet and respected my boundaries- I drew the line when he tried to grope me during a snogging session.
"Don't worry about mum," he says. "You know she'll make Ginny clean it. After all, Harry is supposed to be coming here sometime soon. Not really sure when though."
"I know, but I really should help Ginny clean the room. She isn't wrong you know, half that mess is mine. I just would prefer to stay out here with you."
"You and me both."
Sighing, I sit up and pull my hand reluctantly away from his. "I'm going in to help Ginny clean her room."
Ron squints his eyes at me and smiles. "I figured you would. Come find me when you're done, yeah? I need to tell you something."
I stand and walk toward the Burrow, not even flinching when another explosion comes from Fred and George's room. Stepping into the kitchen, I sidestep around the long table and make my way upstairs to Ginny's room.
"My room isn't even that messy," she mutters under her breath as I walk in. "Besides, mum wouldn't care if Harry wasn't going to spend time here- oh, hello Hermione."
"Hello. I heard you and your mum yelling and decided I should probably help you clean up. You weren't wrong when you said that some of this mess is mine. I did kind of take over your room."
Ginny smiles at me and flips some of her flaming red hair over her shoulder. "I wasn't going to really make you help, you know. It was just to get her off my back. But, if you want to make yourself useful, I suppose you could help."
"Oh, only if I don't get in your way, of course," I tease back, causing her smile to widen.
Ginny and I don't talk much as I help her clean her room. Several times she wished aloud that one of us, mainly me, could use magic outside of school. I, however, have a few more months before I turn seventeen and Ginny another two years.
Mrs. Weasley came in when we were nearly done, probably to yell at Ginny to start cleaning if she hadn't, and smiled at us when she saw us working.
"See, Ginny? Doesn't it look so much nicer now?"
Ginny waits until after she left to say a smart comment back.
"Well, I am completely tired of doing this," she says after shoving a pile of dirty clothes into her closet. "This is probably the cleanest my room has ever, and will ever, be."
I smirk and toss her a lone sock from my side of her room. "Harry is a bit late this year, isn't he?" I ask aloud as I turn back to my things.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, usually he spends a few weeks here, but term starts in only a few days."
Gin shrugs. "Dumbledore probably wanted him to spend more time in the Muggle world after what happened at the Ministry last year. The Prophet has been writing about him nonstop, not to mention he is probably been fawned over by every girl in the country- not that I am jealous or anything."
I arch an eyebrow. "Yes, not at all."
Suddenly we hear Mrs. Weasley let out a shriek.
"Harry! We didn't know you were coming today!"
I met Ginny's bright brown eyes and smiles instantly spread across our faces. We race to the door, I shoving her out of the way so I can get downstairs first. There stands Harry in the Weasley's kitchen smiling and looking quite happy.
"Harry! Oh, it is so good to see you!" I say as I throw my arms around his neck.
"Good to see you too, Hermione," he laughs, returning my hug just as tightly.
I release him and step aside so Ginny can give him a quick welcome hug before Ron hurries into the room to greet him.
"I have loads to tell you two," Harry mouths to me over Ron's shoulder as he returns his hug.
"Common on Harry, dear," Mrs. Weasley says, ushering him further into the kitchen. "You look like you haven't had a proper meal in days. Let me fix you up something."
Harry gives me a sheepish look and jerks his head, silently telling Ron and me to come with him. We sit across from him at the table and watch as Mrs. Weasley loads piles of dinner leftovers onto a plate for Harry and warms them with her wand. After taking one look at us and realizing we want Harry to ourselves, she permits herself a kiss on Harry's forehead before going upstairs.
"So, go on," Ron says. "Where have you been? Has Dumbledore talked to you at all about what happened at the Ministry?"
Harry, thankfully, swallows his food before answering.
"I actually got here because of Dumbledore. I hadn't expected him to come and get me from my aunt and uncle's- even with the letter he sent me a few days in advance. But, he showed up on my doorstep right on time.
"Then, instead of bringing me here, like I thought he was going to, he took me to meet this bloke who used to teach at Hogwarts. The guy, Horace Slughorn, wasn't too keen on coming back and teaching again, but Dumbledore convinced him too."
"Really? How?" I ask.
"By using me, I suppose. I guess Slughorn likes to 'collect' rare and powerful wizards like we used to collect chocolate frog cards. He has a whole bunch of students he favored over the rest and helped them get into all sorts of high up jobs right out of Hogwarts."
"Fantastic," Ron says gloomy. "Another Snape."
Harry smirks. "Not quite. Slughorn has favorites from almost very house in Hogwarts; my mum was even in his, oh what did he call it… Slug Club, yeah that's it, Slug Club."
"He could have come up with a better name," Ron laughs. "Slug Club? He's just asking for kids to make fun of him."
"Oh, come off it," I say. "I wouldn't mind being in this club it if could help me get into a really good position after Hogwarts. Especially since we know he isn't prejudiced against blood status."
"Yeah, but you could get any job you want, Hermione," Harry says. "With your grades you could even be Minister of Magic."
"Oh, please do that," Ron says with a grin on his face. "Could you imagine what Percy would look like if Hermione was elected over him?"
"Probably like he had just eaten a handful of Cockroach Clusters."
It was a great last few days of summer vacation. Spending some quality time with both Harry and Ron was just what I needed. Not to mention Harry was able to easily keep the conversation going when either Ron or I couldn't think of anything. Although, it was a little harder to find time to spend with Ron now that Harry was here.
"Hey, Hermione," Ron says poking his head into Ginny's room. "Do you mind if I steal you away for a few minutes?"
"Of course," I say, smiling.
We walk down stairs and out the backdoor to the garden. It had become a quiet place for us to sit and talk by ourselves.
Ron motions for me to sit down on the grass and I do. He sits in front of me and takes my hands. For a moment, he doesn't say anything and then he takes a deep breath.
"You know that you are my best friend, right?"
"Okay. Good. Now, please, listen to me and don't get upset. Just hear me out, okay?" When I don't say anything, he continues. "I think that we should take a break from our relationship. Hey, no, no, listen." His grip on my hands tightens, but it does not hurt me. "We are both going to be extremely busy this year. You have all of your studies and know you don't want them to suffer to spend time with me. You know how I am, Hermione; I am like a baby, I need constant attention."
His statement makes me laugh slightly and he gives me a small smile.
"I like being with you, Hermione. And I know you like being with me too. But this summer was hard enough to spend time together. I don't want to make you choose between spending time in the library stuffing your brain with knowledge and me. Because, let's face it- one of those things is slightly more important than the other. And I won't even try to say that this break won't help me too. You know how badly I want to make Keeper again. I'm planning on spending a lot of time down at the Qudditch pitch and it's not fair to you if I am spending all my time practicing, just like it's not fair to me if you spend all your time studying. Am I making sense?"
I nod. He is really. I love our relationship, but he is right. I want to spend my free time in the library and he wants to spend his time on the Qudditch pitch. It really wouldn't be much of a relationship if we never saw each other.
"So… we are breaking up?" I ask.
Ron shrugs. "I don't know. I call it a break. I like what we have, but I want to make sure we can do the things we want without hurting each other. You want to study and I want to play Qudditch. Not to mention, we really won't be seeing much of each other in class since you have a few more N.E.W.T. courses than me." He pauses for a moment. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm good."
"Are you sure?"
I smile and nod. "I mean, I don't want to break up with you, but I see where you are coming from and it makes sense. We're going to have a lot on our plates this year."
Ron smiles and pulls me in for a hug. "You are still my best friend, Hermione Granger."
"And you are still mine, Ronald Weasley."
When we pull away and head back in, I begin to wonder. Am I really happy with this 'break'? Ron's logic is sound and he does have a point. But, I don't want to break up with him. I mean, it is just a break, right?
"Night, Hermione," Ron says as he climbs the stairs to his room.
I watch him go, feeling strangely numb to the whole thing. I can't decide how I feel about it. And, for a person who always has the right answer, this doesn't sit well in my stomach.