Just a Christmas present, don't mind me
Disclaimer - I don't own Harry Potter or any thing related to the series mentioned below
Hermione wasn't sure when exactly she had started to consciously compare Harry to Ron and vice versa. Maybe around third year? Or was it the fourth? She couldn't remember. It was natural to do so, wasn't it? When you had two best friends who were boys, it was bound to happen at one point. It wasn't a bad thing, she thought firmly. Ron had his moments as much as Harry did…
It had first started with studies when they were in school. Ron was better at charms, Harry better at DADA. Ron struggled with Transfiguration while Harry had a better grip at it, probably gifted from his paternal side. Ron started his homework earlier than Harry (not that he didn't procrastinate at all), only to finish it off half-heartedly. Harry would start it late but he was sure to get it all done if he cared for it.
Then it was their personalities that she would ponder about. Ron was outgoing, Harry would rather watch than join in, depending on his comfort level. Harry was impulsive, Ron liked to check things up with someone else first before he followed along. Ron didn't mind letting the whole world see what he achieved, while Harry kept it all to himself as if it meant something precious to him alone. Ron was good at getting people frustrated, while Harry was amazing at guilt-tripping. Her ex-husband was awfully tactless sometimes and the man in front of her became absent minded during the worst times. Ron was much short tempered than Harry was but the latter was a lot more stubborn, which annoyed Hermione equally.
But it was during sixth year, the two boys' physical traits began to crop up, thanks to their sudden growth spurt. Ron was the lanky one, who often stretched his long legs whenever he sat. Harry was tall too, but he was short compared to Ron.
Anyone was short compared to Ron, to be honest—except for maybe Dean Thomas. She had felt like a dwarf.
Harry had brilliant green eyes that were often dulled down by his spectacles while Ron's blues contrasted generously with his red hair. Ron had long features, his nose straight with freckles peppered over them. Harry had sharper features while Ron's were slightly blunt. But what she greatly noticed was that they were both slightly muscular when she saw them in her sixth year.
Hermione didn't believe that Quiddich had any part of most of their development. How did riding a broom improve one's physique? Especially a seeker's? No, it was definitely manual labour. And Harry did those more than Ron did, she was sure, what with his gruelling chores from the Dursley's every summer. So Harry was slightly more muscular even though they both hardly had anything close to Viktor Krum.
There was also the case where Hermione had compared both of them when she had been polyjuiced as Harry as they were getting him out from Privet Drive. When she had arrived to the safe house with Shaklebolt, she had badly needed the loo. Even the thought of it brought an intense heat to her cheeks and her neck. It was a fascinating comparison but something she intended to keep solely to herself. Hermione was pretty sure Harry or Ron would not appreciate that she had snuck a look down her pants when she had been residing in someone else's body.
Now here she was, comparing the feeling of Harry's shoulders with Ron's, when her hands had wandered down from his hair to his neck and shoulders. It was firm, and less narrow than Ron's from what she remembered. Ron was never the one for massages even though she was willing to give him one any time; even after a tough Quiddich practice! Last time she had rubbed his back, he had grumbled that she had made the knots worse.
Hermione looked down at Harry. On the contrary, he seemed to be enjoying the massage all too well; his eyes shut and head slightly tilted. A quiet hum escaped his lips.
The problem was he looked like he hadn't been listening to a single thing she had been saying.
"Hmmm, just a little bit lower." He said quietly. His eyelids twitched slightly at a sore spot but they relaxed as she proceeded with her kneading. A soft breath escaped from him and his shoulders slumped relaxingly against her palms.
"Oh Harry." She sighed. Had she been pouring out all her worries about her impending presentation that was the ultimate deciding factor on her promotion to deaf ears? He probably had heard nothing about the fact that the woman who loved to despise her behind her back was her competition.
She looked down to find Harry's eyes looking up at her. Those green eyes. She swore they were different shades every time she looked at them.
"You weren't listening to a thing I was saying, were you?" She huffed, her hands resting on the edge of his shoulders. She watched him bite his lip.
"I admit I was lulled by your voice…." He said innocently. "But I wasn't completely ignoring you."
She cocked an eyebrow at him. It was something she had begun to get good at; mostly due to the awful amount she used it on Ron.
"Really." He insisted. "Has anyone ever topped you before?
"Malfoy came quite close." Hermione muttered darkly.
"Only close. He never got there." Harry snorted. "You'll definitely get your promotion."
"But presentations! We never did those in Hogwarts….."
Harry looked at her oddly. "You've talked plenty in front of people."
"I suppose….." Hermione mumbled.
"You're probably treating this as something entirely new because it's called a 'presentation', not 'explaining things to a bunch of people'." He stated, shuffling the essays in to a neat stack. Hermione noticed that he seemed to have acquired a certain neatness compared to his messy teenage years. She supposed not worrying about a dark wizard and an old prophecy had something to do with it. She wondered if his bedroom was kept tidy as well.
"That's not the same thing, but I guess you have a point there." She sighed, folding her arms. "It's just, I've ne—"
A shrill noise cut her off, sounding a presence in the floo. Harry got up from his seat and stretched a bit. Hermione fervently hoped it was not Katherine with another of her visits. She reckoned she could go out if that was the case and come back late enough when she was sure the lady was gone. Maybe go out for some coffee? Look for another place? Curl up somewhere in a corner and hope for the ground to swallow her?
"I'm not expecting anyone. Maybe it's for you." Harry's voice was dry, as if he seemed to know something. In fact he sounded very much like he knew who it might be.
"Nobody knows I'm here."
She watched him leave the room while she decided to give whoever was calling some privacy with Harry. Her eyes wandered around the books, but her ears were trained to the footfalls on the stairs and the greeting Harry voiced out downstairs.
Hermione pursed her lips to stop herself from swearing. Persistent bugger, wasn't he? What did she leave that he had to get rid of so badly?
"How are you? Me? Same old. Just a bit of work and all that. Hermione? Yeah, upstairs actually. Those her stuff? Of course."
She rushed to her room and looked at her reflection. She should've taken a shower, she thought, as she fixed her hair and rinsed her face to make her look a bit more fresh than she did a few seconds ago. Merlin forbid Ron sees her looking like hell after splitting up with him.
"Hermione!" Harry's voiced carried upstairs. Hermione sighed and ran one hand through her hair for the last time and went downstairs. When she appeared from the doorway she was suddenly hit by a flashback.
It was probably the position Harry and Ron were. Ron stood directly in front of her and Harry stood a bit diagonally to his right. And they were both looking right at her, like when they had arrived one winter morning; when Ron had stood there with a stupid grin on his face, the sword of Gryffindor by his side, and Harry looking hopefully at her to see her happy again. Somehow most things came back to that period of time when Ron left and came back.
"Hermione, you okay?"
She blinked and looked at Ron. He was always the one to inquire if she was alright. That was one of the things she admired about him. Harry was mostly the one to observe, like he was doing right now. Was it because he didn't care or notice, or was it because he knew that she would keep saying fine, even if it wasn't necessarily true?
Things were much complicated now, she reminded herself mentally before giving Ron a thin smile. "Are those the things I left?" She asked.
Ron nodded, still watching her a bit wearily. He was wearing a scruffy sweater and he looked as if he had been outside; his ears and nose red from the slight chill.
"I put it all here. Thought you might want them." He said, his blue eyes treacherously glancing at his two friends, perhaps wondering what sort of relationship was going on between the two. Oh, what would Ron look like if she grabbed Harry and slammed her lips against his? Hermione blushed at her vengeful thoughts. Sometimes her spitefulness made her feel ashamed, but mostly took her by surprise.
"Thanks, I'll take those." She muttered awkwardly, shuffling over to Ron.
"Would you like some tea? Ron?" Harry asked, heading towards the kitchen. Hermione silently begged for Ron to refuse. She wanted to avoid any lone time with Ron as much as possible and Harry leaving was going to give plenty of that.
"Yeah, I think I'd like that." Ron said to Hermione's irritation. Harry gave a nod and left with a smothering look from Hermione aimed at his retreating back. He was probably thankful to avoid the awkward conversation she was going to face.
She cleared her throat, clasping her hands together. The ring on her finger suddenly felt cold against her skin. She covered the offending piece of jewellery with her fingers. She should have flushed it down the toilet.
"Maybe you should sit." She suggested, cursing mentally at the awkward way she had stated it.
Ron nodded, looking around and sitting on an armchair. Hermione sat on the couch, her mind going over the potential conversation they could talk about that wouldn't lead to anything sensitive. She grimaced slightly.
"How's work?" He offered. It was a question he often asked since it resulted her to release a tirade of thoughts regarding the love-hate relationship she had with her career. But at the end she would notice that his attention had wandered somewhere else. She always wondered whether he did that to avoid any sort of contribution to the conversation.
"It's good. Nothing really new." She replied. "I'm applying for a promotion but that's about it."
There was a pause since Ron had assumed that she would continue. "Oh, I see." He said awkwardly after he realized that she wasn't her chatty self. "Must be exciting."
"Very." She nodded.
There was a faint sound of cups and kettles from the kitchen as they sat silently. This was all very new to her. What were you supposed to say to your ex-husband who shows up right after you moved out? Was there not a written rule that you avoided each other at all costs for months?
"So what's in the boxes?" She settled to ask.
"Mostly books." He shrugged. "There's that figurine you got from Italy."
Hermione tried not to wince as she nodded. Italy. Did he really have to bring up the honeymoon? Tactless Ron. She remembered how she had sworn it was the best three weeks and how sure she was sure that their love was immortal. She gave a bland smile when Harry came back with tea.
Nothing hurt like her pride when she was wrong.
I hope you liked this chapter. I really wanted to update soon but I didn't have a lot of time to edit what I had but thankfully I got some time. Nevertheless, I'm really sorry I left this hanging like this. I honestly do have plans for this one. Feel free to express any concerns cause I'll be counting on it.
I hope you have a great Christmas and Holiday!