Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the characters, but I created their present situation.
A/N: I hope you like it. I am teary-eyed at posting this last chapter. Everyone who reviewed has been soooo wonderful. I won't name everyone individually, but I am very grateful that you enjoyed the story and gave me valuable comments. So, without further ado, here is…
CHAPTER XIX: THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR
Ron saw Hermione slump into a chair and take a small sip of her soda.
He made a resolution to concentrate on the music that was playing and to enjoy his dancing.
Despite his resolution, Ron couldn't help checking in on Hermione every minute or so. After the third or fourth time he looked towards the table where she was sitting, he thought he saw something reflected on her cheek in the strange lights of the club. Was she – was she crying? She didn't notice him looking at her and as he stopped dancing and strained over the heads of the people dancing in front of him to see more clearly. He saw that a few tears were streaming down her cheeks. He felt terrible.
Hermione brushed at her eyes and looked up. She saw him staring, and then, pressing her lips together, stood up and began fighting her way through the crowd of dancers. As she passed him, he shouted, "Hermione!" but she ignored him and kept going navigating through the people gyrating wildly on the crowded dance floor.
There was only one thing to do. Ignoring his dance partner, Ron began striding through the crowd behind Hermione. He assumed that she was heading for a door, but in the confusion seemed to be heading straight for a wall on the opposite side of the room. When she reached it, she stopped and looked around wildly, searching for a way to leave.
Ron's long legs caught up with her quickly, and he reached for her shoulder. She turned to face him and he saw that the tears were now flowing freely down her face, although she was making no noise.
"Hermione – don't – don't cry, please," he implored.
"I'm not crying," stated Hermione stoutly, wiping her face quickly. "It's warm in here and there is something in my eye. I was just trying to find a way out of this place."
Ron grabbed her other shoulder and stared down at her fiercely, but he wasn't sure what to do or say next.
Hermione looked up at him angrily. "Anyway, what do you care if I did cry? You obviously don't care about my feelings, and you obviously don't think very much of me."
Ron mouthed wordlessly at Hermione. He flushed and was about to launch into a tirade about how she was crazy and not being fair, when Fred and George's voices came back to haunt him. STAY IN CONTROL. He took a very deep breath, and, said slowly, "Why would you say a thing like that?"
"Do you just think that I run around throwing myself at any boy who shows an interest in me? Do you think that I would knowingly lead somebody on?"
"What are you on about?" This conversation was beginning to sound like an argument and was not helped by the fact that they were forced to shout at each other in order to hear over the loud beat of music. Exasperated, Ron grabbed Hermione's hand and before she could jerk away, pulled her towards the door of the club. They exited past the security guard, who stamped both their hands so that they could re-enter, and emerged onto the street. It was just starting to get dark and the temperature outside was comfortable and not too hot for the first time in days. Ron took a deep breath, but as he did so, Hermione picked up the conversation exactly where she had left off.
"You – you just assume that because I get two letters from Viktor Krum in one week that somehow he is my boyfriend. You just think that if some boy is talking to me in a club that I must have enticed him to come over to me. You don't even stop to think that maybe you don't really know what is going on."
"All right," said Ron, feeling himself start to shake, control was not an attainable goal at this point, "what don't I know about then? What is Viktor writing to you about, and, while you're at it, you can answer my question from yesterday about whether or not he kissed you."
"That is NONE of your business."
"So, I take it that's a yes!"
"I didn't say that."
"So, what are you saying?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed and she stuck her nose in the air and said finally, "If you must know, he did want to kiss me."
"And, contrary to what you obviously think of me, I wouldn't let him."
Ron stared at her in amazement, "Well why didn't you just say so? Why make me have to drag it out of you?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and looked towards the wall. He couldn't tell if she was angry, or amused, or both, "Ron, why does it matter to you whether or not Viktor Krum kissed me?"
Ron started to speak, but found that he'd lost the ability. Hermione had stopped crying, and looked as though she was wrestling with herself whether to tell him anything else. Finally she said, "Well, I don't really think that I am obligated to tell you this, but I am going to anyway. Do you want to know why Viktor was sending me all of those letters?"
Ron didn't know what to say. He really did want to know. Somewhere inside he had a feeling that the right thing to do would be to tell Hermione that he didn't need to know, but he couldn't find the words. Luckily, she started speaking again, very quietly, "When I accepted the invitation to Bulgaria, I told him that I was bringing my parents and that I was coming only as a friend. He agreed that was okay. When I got there, he tried to kiss me anyway. I got very upset and told him that if he kept doing things like that I would have to stop being his friend. Believe me, I felt terrible. He's a really nice guy and it's not his fault that apparently I'm not as smart as everyone thinks that I am and only fancy complete and utter idiots."
Hermione stopped here for a second and Ron thought he saw a smile forming at the corners of her mouth. For the first time in his life, he hoped that he was being called a complete and utter idiot. "The letter that I got the other day was from Viktor, apologizing, and asking if I would forgive him and be his friend. I wrote back that I did forgive him, and he wrote a thank you note back to me. And that, is all there is to know. Don't you feel stupid now that you've been acting like a total prat?"
When Hermione had finished, she drew a deep, ragged breath, and then started crying again. Angrily, she wiped the tears from her face. Ron was still unable to form words with his mouth, although he realized that he was grinning like an idiot. Suddenly, he knew what he had to do. Swiftly, he reached out and hugged Hermione. Her head came up to his shoulder, and he squeezed both arms around her as she sobbed into his shirt. After a moment, she seemed to have stopped, and Ron, kissing the top of her head, whispered, "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry… Hermione?" Her name came out of his throat hoarsely. She stepped back a bit to look up at him, and as she did so, he closed his eyes, leaned forward a little bit more, hesitated for what seemed like an eternity, and then, felt his lips touch hers in a sweet, and meaningful kiss.
When they finally had to stop for a breath, Ron loosened his hold around Hermione's waist (which he had been gripping very tightly), and they fell apart from each other. Hermione was staring at him with a look of bewilderment and – was that happiness? on her face. She looked straight at him, eyes wide, and then looked down at her feet, still alert, biting her lower lip thoughtfully. Instinctively, he reached for her again, pulling her towards him. Hermione's arms went up around his neck and they kissed again.
They stood against the wall, kissing, at first timidly, and then, a little bit more adventurously, for nearly an hour. Hermione began absentmindedly playing with locks of coppery-red hair that rested on Ron's neck. Ron pulled her closer and caressed her arms as they kissed, enjoying the silky feel of her skin. Who would have known that girls were this soft and delicate feeling? Who would have thought that locks of hair would have nerve endings?
Finally they broke apart for a moment and Ron grinned sheepishly at her. "Guess I ought to be a stupid prat and make you cry more often."
Hermione attempted to punch him playfully on the arm but he intercepted it mid-air and turned over her wrist to look at her watch. He opened his eyes wide, "it's nearly 11 o'clock! Time does fly when you're having fun I suppose. Maybe we should wait for our limousine."
Just then, they heard a loud honk as the Granger's car pulled into view. Blushing wildly, both of them climbed into the backseat and, grinning like idiots, held hands all the way home.
(or is it?)
A/N: I thought this would be a nice place to end, but now I am imagining how fun it is going to be to tell Harry and Ginny, so maybe there will be more sometime. I haven't started writing anything yet!
NOW, I hope you are scrolling down to review and keep reading, because I have a special announcement…
Fanfic has become such fun for me that I've decided to branch out. Arabella (another author here - go HqoW!) and I have decided to become the Headmistresses of our own HP website! We now invite you to visit http://www.sugarquill.com, a site for fanfiction writers and like-minded Potterites, where you are welcome to submit your stories for beta-reading, and also to post your opinions for discussion on our boards!
Please be advised: The Sugar Quill DOES NOT OFFICIALLY OPEN UNTIL JANUARY THE 5th, 2001. It's still a bit rough! Arabella and I (and the other dear Professors at Sugar Quill) are currently on our merry holidays and will be quite unable to fulfill our headmistressly duties until that time (I will be sans a computer for FOUR whole days hiking in the wilds of Pennsylvania until December 29! ACK! I just checked the weather, it is going to be 7 degrees). In the meantime, please come and browse and submit stories to us and join in the fray of discussion - just don't expect responses to your stories until AFTER JANUARY THE 5th! Thanks again, and see you at The Sugar Quill!