Unpretty

By like a falling star



She was just Hermione Granger, Hermione decided one day as she sat in the Griffindor Common Room, staring down at the thick, curled-edged Herbology book in her lap but not really paying attention at all.

Without looking at a mirror, Hermione knew just what impression she gave to people. Just plain ol' Muggle-born, book-loving Granger. Nothing special, really. Frizzy dark hair, chocolate-brown eyes, average height, medium build. Really, she thought. She was nothing to look at.

Bottom line? Ron Weasley would never cast her a second glance.

Hermione gazed wistfully at the flickering figures around her. Tall. Slim. Blonde. Doe-eyed. Leggy. In other words, stunningly beautiful. The type of girls Ron liked, she mused, were of course of the beautiful-and-oh-so- popular variety. He deserved no less.

Hermione bit her lip. She had to snap herself out of this self-piteous mood, and fast. The exams were just round the corner; this was no time to moon over her looks-or lack thereof. She was smart; she was hardworking-as far as she was concerned, that was more than she could say for the blond bimbos Ron preferred.

Hermione scanned a page, forcing her mind to focus. Mandrakes are far more useful than they seem to be. Mandrakes' roots, when pounded into fine grains, can be-Oh, sod it. This wasn't going to work, was it? She was getting nowhere. Wherever she was, whatever she was doing, her thoughts involuntarily kept drifting to Ron. Ron, who was, by the way, sitting at a corner of the Griffindor Common Room, trouncing Harry in Wizard's Chess while a gaggle of giggling girls watched admiringly. Ron didn't seem to mind the attention.

Dang. This was unfair. Frustrated, Hermione slammed the heavy book shut, and stomped off to her dormitory. Why didn't she have silky blond hair? Hermione tugged miserably at her wavy chestnut locks. And what was the deal with her teeth? Her parents were dentists, for Merlin's sake! Why couldn't she have a nice, wide, dazzling smile like Lockhart, or Parvati, or Fleur, or-

"Hey there, Herm! Guess what guess what guess what!!" Ginny Weasley, Hermione's best friend, screeched into her ear, bouncing lightly but noisily into the room.

Hermione didn't need to look at Ginny's face to know that she was grinning from ear to ear. There was only one thing-one person-that had the ability to do that to Ginny. Namely-

"Harry asked me to go to the Yule ball with him!" Ginny announced excitedly, not waiting for an answer. "Can you believe that? I nearly died of shock. And he actually-Herm? Are you all right?"

Hermione looked up at Ginny's flushed, smiling face, and silently resented the fact that Ginny could have flaming orange hair, a generous spattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and still look so darn pretty.

It wasn't fair; really, it wasn't. Hermione burst into tears.

Ginny's smile immediately vanished, replaced by a look of utmost concern. "Oh, Herm, what's wrong? What-" She broke off, the sympathy in her voice turning to rage. "Ok, no prizes for guessing what happened. What has my bloody prat of a brother done this time?" she demanded, fuming madly.

Hermione said nothing; only hiccupped as she fought her tears. "He. he-" she gasped, unable to bring herself to say the words.

"I'll kill him, that's for sure!" Ginny declared, huffing around the room like a tigress stalking its prey. Usually a mild-mannered person, Ginny, when provoked, could be of potential danger to one's health. "Never mind that he's my brother and I'll probably be locked up in Azkaban for a lifetime and a half and I'll probably go crazy in there and when Harry comes to visit me out of pure goodwill of his very big heart I'd probably kill him as well cos by then I'd probably have gone bonkers and who knows how much longer they're gonna keep me in Azkaban for slaying The Boy Who Lived, and all because of my stupid git of a brother!" Ginny ranted in one breath.

Hermione sniffed. Ginny could be so overly dramatic at times.

Ginny sat down on the bed next to Hermione, patting her hand comfortingly. "So, what did that brother of mine do?" she asked kindly.

Hermione attempted, once again, to speak but failed pathetically. "He."

"He called you a bookworm?" Ginny guessed.

Hermione shook her head silently, wondering where her wonderful gift of words had gone.

"He called you a, and I quote, 'friggin know-it-all-teacher's-pet-who-would- eat-Dobby's-socks-if-Lockhart-or-McGonagall-told-you-to'?" Ginny guessed again, hoping that Hermione would take this in context and not conjure an eight-inch spider on Ron, as she had done so the last time.

".No."

Ginny pondered. "He." She let out a sharp gasp. "He kissed you." She said it in a very final sort of way. "He did, didn't he?" she sounded resigned.

Hermione shook her head, bewildered. "No, he didn't. Why would Ron do that?"

Ginny, who seemingly did not hear her, rambled on. "I told him, I said to make it romantic, with flowers and chocolate and." she looked at Hermione, who was looking back at her as if she'd sprouted two heads. "I'll bet he did it in the Common Room, didn't he? With Seamus and Dean egging him on. Gosh, why in the world did my brother turn out so completely unromantic?" she sighed dramatically and flopped back onto the bed.

Hermione stared. "Ginny, what in the world are you prattling on about?"

Ginny sat up and blinked. "You mean he didn't kiss you?"

Hermione lifted her eyebrows. "To put it simply-no."

"Oh." Ginny looked defeated. "Well, then. What, in Merlin's name, did Ron do?"

Hermione lay down on the bed and rolled over onto her belly, her chin pressed into the pillow that Ron had given her last Christmas. "He likes pretty girls." She admitted sadly.

"He doesn't!" Ginny howled in mock horror. "How dare he even think of it!"

Hermione cracked a smile. "Ginny, it's really no big deal. I'm not having a very good day and I overreacted, basically. Ginny?"

Ginny had leapt off the bed and had closed the door behind her in a split second. Hermione could hear her feet pounding on the wooden staircase that led to the Common Room. Before she could even think of doing anything, however, Ginny returned a moment later, Ron in tow. Well. more like she had Ron's ear held in a vice-like grip.

"Explain yourself, Ronald Weasley. Hermione said that you liked pretty girls!" Ginny accused, sounding very much like Mrs. Weasley when she'd found the twins' large collection of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Even as she heard the words coming out of her mouth she knew that they sounded absolutely ridiculous. Well, that was too bad. She'd had enough of their dreamy goggling at one another. They were going to sort this out, and they were going to sort this out right now, or her name wasn't Ginny Weasley.

"Ginny! Ron!" Hermione squeaked, the words barely escaping her lips. Her normally indignant face was now flaming a very brilliant shade of red, very much like the one Ron had on his face at seeing Hermione. on a bed.

Ginny smiled at the both of them. "I'll leave the two of you alone." She left, and on the way out, muttered a spell at the door lock. "See the two of you at supper," she said cheerfully. "Together." She added pointedly.

The door closed shut with a resounding click.



*



Ron looked at the door. "Darn," was all he could say.

Hermione hopped off the bed, suddenly self-conscious. She walked slowly around the room, straightening her things, avoiding Ron's blatant staring.

"So," said Ron cleverly.

"So," Hermione repeated, nodding vigorously, as if she completely agreed with his statement.

There was an awkward silence.

"Er. Hermione? What exactly is going on?" Ron asked, signature vacant look plastered on his face.

Hermione signed. Why was it that even when he was being impossibly infuriating, he still radiated a certain endearing, boyish charm? Oh, well. Might as well get it over and done with. "Gosh, Ron, you're awfully cute, you know that?" Hermione gasped. Where had that come from? She never meant to say that.

"T- thanks. I think." Ron said, going red. His face and hair clashed horribly with his robes.

Hermione blushed, and said, quickly, "I'm really sorry, Ron, what I really meant to say is that Ginny's right-I should have told you sooner about how I feel." Hermione clamped her hands over her mouth. Honestly, what was bloody wrong with her today? First she was all tongue-tied and now here she was, spilling her guts to the last person she wanted to see at the moment. She felt like banging her head against the wall.

A strange light came into Ron's eyes. He gazed at her with an intense look in his eyes. "Told me about how you feel?" He boldly took a step closer towards her.

Hermione gulped inwardly and backed up against the wall. "Uh. yes?" she squeaked. She couldn't deal with being so close to Ron. Not right now.

Ron planted his hands against the wall on both sides of Hermione, thereby trapping her. Gosh, now she really wanted to bang her head against the wall.

"Hermione," Ron said, his voice unusually husky. "How do you feel now?"

Hermione pressed her back against the wall and looked straight ahead at the collar of Ron's shirt, carefully avoiding his Prussian blue eyes. When had he gotten so tall? She mused absently. Her heart was thumping wildly in her heart. Of course she'd read about this before in Muggle storybooks, this whole concept of being 'in love', which she, more often than not, rolled her eyes at and dismissed as nothing more than commercialism. However, she'd never expected that it would happen to her. "I. Ron."

She looked at him in the eyes, his gentle gaze probing hers for an answer.

Her sigh was silent, resigned. "What is it with guys and pretty girls?"

"Huh?"

"I get the attraction-silky blonde hair, blue eyes, miles of legs. I don't blame you guys for being attracted to them. But where does that leave the rest of us?"

Ron opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.

"Where does that leave the rest of us, without the silky hair, without the legs, without all that darn. prettiness? What happens to girls who look like Eloise Midgen, for example, or, say. me?"

Ron's eyes softened but he continued to pin her against the wall. "Hermione." he whispered, almost in wonder.

Hermione's breath caught in her throat. They were so close. She could nearly feel the heat radiating from his body. "Ron." she began softly.

He gazed at her for a moment, and then looked away shyly. "Hermione. I. I'm not very good with words, but I want you to know that. you're bloody beautiful."

Hermione could hardly keep the smile from breaking out onto her face. "Oh, Ron."

"I know that wasn't the most romantic thing to say." This time Ron looked at her, forcing her to meet him in the eyes. "You're brilliant, Hermione. Even if you didn't have this wonderful wavy hair-" he brushed a stray lock of hair away from her forehead "-or these big brown eyes. the colour of chocolate frogs," he added as an afterthought. [Hermione giggled.] ".I'd still think you're the most beautiful person ever." He finished, pink tinting the tips of his ears.

"More beautiful than Fleur?" Hermione asked in a small voice.

Ron laughed. "Definitely."

Hermione smiled as she wrapped her arms around him. "Ron." she was so happy, it seemed that she couldn't stop saying his name. "Who says you aren't good with words?"

Ron chuckled and leaned in towards her. Their noses touched. "You're perfect, Mione." He told her.

"I love you." Hermione sighed blissfully, a split second before their lips met.



*



Author's Notes: Yes, we've come to the end of my very first Harry Potter fanfic. Thanks so much to all who read it. Now do me a huge favour and please. review. (