Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all characters associated are property of J.K. Rowling.

~Hermione's Arrival~

Ron lay in his bed staring at the Chudley Cannons posters all over his room. Already his sixth year at Hogwarts was over and in one month, he would be going back for his last year. He frowned slightly at the smiling faces on the poster. Inside, his heart felt heavy. For three years, he had been falling in love with one of his best friends, Hermione.

All summer she had been on his mind. He tried to tell himself that it was just a phase, and his feelings for her would revert to what they once were, but he knew he was only telling himself that for comfort. Ron turned over and pulled a picture out of his bedside table. Staring down at it, he took in the three faces smiling back at him. Harry, Ron, and in the middle, Hermione, who had her arms looped around the both of them.

Ron sighed, as he let his gaze linger on her face. That night she was scheduled to come and spend the rest of the summer holidays with him, at the Burrow. Harry would be arriving in a week. Placing the picture back into the drawer, his mind racing, he thought about all of the wonderful memories he and Hermione shared. He thought of their first meeting, in his first year, on the train to Hogwarts. Little did he know then just how much of an impact Hermione would have on his life. He thought about his fourth year, and the Yule Ball, when he had first started discovering his feelings for her.

He looked outside, and saw the sun beginning to set. Soon Hermione would be in his home, sharing a room with his sister Ginny. Ron felt his stomach turn at the thought of seeing her again. The past year had only secured his feelings for her. Hermione was as intelligent as ever, and her passion for S.P.E.W. had only grown, and despite Ron's remarks about what a waste of time it all really was, he really admired her for the determination she showed to S.P.E.W. She had also changed a bit physically. She was about an inch taller than she had been the previous year. And, she was prettier. At least, to Ron, she was prettier. In reality, she still looked the same as she had in their fifth year.

He thought about her smile as she said, "Have a great summer, Ron! I'll see you soon."

He vividly remembered her hug goodbye as he left the train station.

"Ron?" said a voice from his door, breaking his thoughts of Hermione.

"Erm, yeah?" he asked, feeling slightly disturbed.

"Hermione is here," he heard Ginny say through the door.

Ron swallowed and he felt his stomach do a somersault.

"Okay, thanks," he said.

He got up from his bed and walked over to his mirror. He looked at his reflection. He was now towering at 6' 2", his shoulders were broader than they had ever been, and his jaw line was more defined. He was still slender, but he looked stronger, and he had an athletic build now, very different from the scrawny 11 year old he was when he had first met Hermione. Ron ran a hand through his flaming red hair.

"That's good enough," he mumbled to himself before he turned to his door and walked downstairs.

When Ron reached the bottom of the landing, he saw her. Standing in front of him was none other than Hermione. He felt his face grown warm at the sight of her.

"Ron!" she said and she ran over and gave him a quick hug. It took him by surprise, a very pleasant surprise. He leaned in and breathed in the sweet scent of her hair. But, before he knew it, it was already over.

"So how's your summer been?" Hermione asked him, smiling.

Ron couldn't help but smile back, "It's been great," he lied.

For the entire summer, he had only mulled over whether or not he could ever tell Hermione about his feelings. Hardly a great vacation. Still, Ron didn't want Hermione to think anything was wrong.

"How's yours been?" he asked her.

"Oh, it's been wonderful!" she exclaimed. "My parents and I went to Italy. It was so amazing Ron! Really, really, beautiful. You know?" she asked him, speaking very excitedly.

Ron could only stare at her.

"Yeah, beautiful." he said.

Hermione smiled and said, "Well, I'd better get my stuff upstairs."

"Oh, let me help," Ron said as he pulled her trunk up the stairs and into Ginny's room.

Placing her trunk by the extra bed, he turned to Hermione.

"Thanks, lots Ron," she said.

"No problem," he replied.

"Out Ron!" Ginny yelled at him.

"Alright, alright!" he said, as he walked past them to his own room.

Ginny immediately turned to Hermione.

"So how are you doing Herm? Meet any cute guys on the trip to Italy?" she asked inquisitively.

"No Ginny. No cute guys," she said with a smile.

"NONE!?" she asked, disbelievingly.

"Yes, none!" said Hermione with a laugh.

Ginny looked at Hermione skeptically. "Hermione, you haven't dated anyone since that quick bout with Viktor Krum!"

Hermione rolled her eyes, "Ginny, we didn't date! We only went to the ball together! That's all!"

Now it was Ginny's turn to roll her eyes, "Yeah, whatever you say. I'm only saying, don't you at least want a boyfriend?"

"Ginny, I don't need a boyfriend, thank-you-very-much."

Hermione grabbed the nearest pillow and socked Ginny in the head with it.

"Hey!" screamed Ginny, laughing.

"Now, stop asking me about boys!" Hermione said, smiling.

However, Ginny's inquisition, made Hermione think. 'Why haven't I met anyone worthy of being my boyfriend? Surely, Viktor was nice enough, and he had certainly liked me' she thought. 'Well, that's not entirely true.I have met someone worthy of being my boyfriend.only.' Hermione's thoughts were disrupted as she was hit in the head by Ginny's pillow.

"Hey!" she screamed as she hit Ginny back.

Ron threw himself onto his bed. This was going to be harder than he thought. Pretending that his feelings for Hermione were only platonic was going to take a lot of energy. At that moment Fred and George, came bounding into his room. The both of them successfully ran and operated several Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes shops around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. In addition, their businesses were quickly sprouting up all over the wizard areas of England. Still they made certain to come and spend a week or two at the Burrow when they weren't on business.

"Can't you guys knock?" asked Ron, slightly annoyed.

"Sorry little brother, we just came to tell you that dinner is ready!" said Fred loudly.

George bounded over to Ron and playfully grabbed him in a headlock.

"So good to see you Ickle Ronnikins!" he joked.

Ron rolled his eyes, but couldn't help smiling. It was nice to have his twin brothers around again, even if it was only for a few days.

"Alright, get off!" Ron yelled, laughing.

George ruffled Ron's hair as he said, "Sure thing, little brother! Tell the girls, will you?"

With that, the twins apparated from the room. Ron shook his head at where they had been standing several seconds before.

"Bunch of nutters." he muttered, still smiling.

Ron knocked on Ginny's door. "Ginny? Hermione? Dinner is ready, come downstairs."

They looked up from playing a game of exploding snaps.

"Oh okay, we'll be right down," said Ginny as she made her next move.

Hermione looked at him, and she smiled. "Thanks Ron, we'll be there in a minute."

"Sure," he said smiling goofily.

As he left the room to go down to dinner, he couldn't help chastising himself. 'Why can't I just act normally. And why do I have to blush every time I'm around her!' Hermione's face as she smiled at him kept wafting back into his mind. 'Stop it! She's your best friend, of course she smiled at you!' he thought as he shook his head to rid himself of his visions.

The Weasleys all sat around the dinner table, talking of their day, and asking Hermione about her trip. Mrs. Weasley had really outdone herself. She had made several dishes of delicious food. But, for some reason, Ron didn't feel much like eating. Seeing him only take a small amount of potatoes and chicken, Mrs. Weasley turned to him.

"Ron, dear? Are you feeling all right?" she asked as she felt his forehead with the back of her hand.

"Yes, mum!" he replied automatically.

"Well, you don't feel warm." mumbled Mrs. Weasley to herself.

Grabbing her hand, Ron said, "Mum, I'm fine."

Mrs. Weasley frowned down at Ron, but decided to not push it.

"Oh.all right," she said. But all through dinner she kept giving him a look of concern.

Hermione had sat right in front of him at the table. He watched her as she took amounts of chicken, potatoes, bread, salad, and pudding, everything Mrs. Weasley had cooked. He tried not to stare as she bit into her chicken. 'She even eats cute,' he thought. He pushed his plate away, feeling thoroughly annoyed with himself. Suddenly he felt a foot touch his under the table. Bump, it hit his foot. He looked up, ready to apologize, but found no one looking at him. Bump again, this time a bit softer. He looked up at Hermione, half expecting/wishing her to give him a look that said she was the culprit.

But she didn't. Instead, she laughed heartily at Mrs. Weasley's imitation of Bill trying to clean the house before Fleur was to come to dinner at the Burrow. This time the foot rested on his own. He felt the heat crawling up his neck as the shoe wiggled around on top of his. Finally, he decided to move his foot. Staring at Hermione, he gently moved his foot, expecting her to look up at him.

"Whoa!" exclaimed Mr. Weasley. "What was that?" he said, as he looked under the table. "Ron?! That was your foot? Why didn't you tell me I was kicking you? I thought it was the table leg!" said Mr. Weasley with a cheerful laugh.

George looked at Ron and followed his gaze, which had rested for several seconds on Hermione. George opened his mouth, ready to say, "Gee dad, didn't you know, Ron thought it was Hermione's foot?" but he decided against it, and took up another chicken leg.

"Oh, sorry dad," said Ron feeling stupider than ever. "I thought it was, um."

But George interrupted, "Hey dad, so find any interesting muggle artifacts lately?"

It worked; Mr. Weasley quickly turned his attention to George.

"Oh yes, in fact I found this thing called an 'eyelash curler', and it's used for grooming your lashes. Isn't that strange? Hermione, exactly how do you use one without poking your eye out?"

Hermione responded, "Well Mr. Weasley, I don't use those things, they're a bit too materialistic for me, but you're supposed to hold it very close to your eye and clamp it over the lashes. I heard it's not painful at all."

Ron looked over at George and gave him a small smile and a nod, as if to say 'thanks'.

After dinner, and some more stories and laughter, everyone headed to their rooms. Ron grabbed his towel and went to the bathroom at the far end of the hall. Letting the hot water run over his skin, he felt his mind at ease for once. 'I really needed that' he thought as he wrapped the orange terrycloth towel around his hips. Stepping out of the tub, he looked up and saw the door to the bathroom opening. It was too late to say anything. There stood Hermione with her toothbrush in her hand, openmouthed, staring at Ron's glistening torso. Her eyes moved in an upward glance from his legs, to his stomach, to his chest, to finally, his shocked face.

"Sorry Ron! Didn't mean to, I just..I was going to brush my teeth, and I didn't hear the water, and.." she threw her hands up over her eyes, "I'm really sorry!"

She quickly backed out of the bathroom and closed the door. Ron stood, water still dripping off him, utterly stunned. 'That didn't just happen' he thought.

~*~*~*~*~*~

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