Title: A Series Of Definitions
Author: Silvia Kundera
Disclaimer: This story's author does not claim to own any of the characters, concepts, or ideas originating in J. K. Rowlings' Harry Potter novels. No copyright infringement intended. No harm intended. Site material is offered to the public free of charge--not for profit. This piece of fiction is the sole property of the author and cannot be copied, sent, or reproduced without permission of the author.
Rating: PG
Pairing: Ron/Hermione
Summary: He was a boy and she was a girl - can I make it any more obvious?

It sounds like a love story, though it isn't one: boy meets boy on a train, and they're headed in the same direction.

It might have been a love story, except: a girl.

She had the most horrible hair and nothing on her face fit right. She sat loudly and spoke loudly and walked loudly and was. She had too many syllables.

Her knees were dirtier than a boy's and her mouth was sterner. It pinched when she talked.

"You can't sit here," Ron said loudly, "You can't," and something inside of him asked her to stay awhile, and she listened.

* * *

She sat down and he said, "Nobody wants you here," in a way that came out a bit nicer, but she knew what he meant.

He would be a good man someday, she could tell, but he was seated beside a great man and no one would notice. It was so very sad and she decided to like him for it.

She let the wood bench warm under her and settled into it, hooking one ankle over the other, knees bent and toes swinging back behind her. "Hello," she said, and meant, I'm not going anywhere.

* * *

She walked at his side and timed their steps together, clacking across the stone floor and sinking into the lawn. They flanked people and things and she felt like a bookend. She could usually keep up, but was always off a pause or two when they ran, because she could never see it coming.

She was only quick about some things.

* * *

He hated how she wiped his bruises down with water, though she had magic and she knew better. He told her so, and didn't say how it made everything seem that much more serious, but it would be just like her to know.

It would be all in fun until someone got hurt, and if no one got hurt it was like a game. Pretending.

She had this way about her that ruined everything.

* * *

"I don't know what you want from me," Ron said, late in autumn.

"No," she said, her feet crunching leaves, "You wouldn't."

* * *

Stacks and stacks of books, and she wondered -- because her mother had said something once, with a bit of worry -- if the dust was stacking too, deep into her lungs.

It was a scary, wonderful idea, that a piece of those pages could grow inside her, and when they were out dangerously late, hiding amongst pillars and waiting for the signal, she whispered it excitedly against the soft shell of Ron's ear.

He said, "You're a strange one, you know that?"

* * *

She knew.

* * *

He had a bed all his own, and he would never be asked to share it, and he had always meant for Hogwarts to be more than that, and it was, but it was that bed first. That bed was magic.

He said, "Hey, you've gone and messed the covers," the first time he let her sit upon it, and she was very sorry, and smoothed them down again with her hands.

* * *

He had a rat with thick, mangy fur, and he said he didn't love it, and he was such a liar, and it betrayed him. It had never done anything but.

She left for the summer.

* * *

She returned and her skin was glowing so brightly, even though he had heard it was cold there.

They had a marvelous time, she said, and had tumbled down hills laughing.

Her teeth were so new still, like her wide, burning embers smile, and maybe if he had told her he liked them, even back the other way, she wouldn't have gone.

And it was all his fault, because his mother had always said that if you wanted something, you had to ask for it.

* * *

She said they asked her to come back, and there was always the next summer, and she didn't mean "they", not really.

And he finished for her, in his head, 'and the summer after that, and the summer after that,' and he thought he could hate her, and he was lying again, and someday, he knew, he wouldn't be able to do that so well anymore. It would hurt so bad.

* * *

And then: he remembered.

His mother, she also said, "It's never too late."

And he said, "Hermione," and she looked up, and he covered her ink stained fingers with his stupid, clumsy hands.