Title: Slide

Author: Syn

E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Harry Potter

Content: Ron/Hermione

Spoilers: OotP, I guess. Set in Sixth Year.

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, J.K. Rowling does. Duh.

Dedication: For Cantinera

Summary: One simple slide and things tumble down...

A/N: My first Ron/Hermione. Oh how I love these two! This is too short, but I like it anyway. :)

Feedback: I would greatly appreciate it.

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Ron Weasley sat in a big, squashy chair in front of the blazing fire in the Gryffindor common room hearth. His long legs were stretched out before him and the bottoms of his bare feet were warm and comfortable. His eyelids drooped and he felt sleep crowding his mind. His Advanced Potions homework was scattered across his lap and wedged between his leg and in the crack of the armchair. He considered, for a split second, picking it up again and attempting to work on it, but one glance at his watch told him it was too late to make any headway on it anyway.

He glanced to his right and saw the top of a messy, spiky black head resting against the arm of another chair. Harry's nose was scrunched into the cushioned fabric, his glasses askew. The gentle rise and fall of his shoulders told Ron that he was blessedly asleep, something Ron very much envied of him right now.

The rest of the common room was empty but for the two of them, as was usually the case when they'd left off homework too late. He considered rousing his best friend for a second, blinking sleepily as he tried to will himself to move. Just as he was about to get up, his muscles twitching ever so slightly, the sound of the Fat Lady's portrait swinging open called his attention to the entry portal.

Someone teetered over the high edge of the round portal; someone with a stack of books almost as tall as she was. He could just barely glimpse her bushy brown hair around the thick, ancient volumes in her arms. She attempted to scoot over the entry portal and leaned too far to the right--the huge stack of books overbalanced and toppled to the floor with soft, carpet-muffled thumps.

"Oh no!" Hermione Granger wailed breathlessly and climbed over the portal all the way; the Fat Lady swung shut again with a tut-tut sound. Ron immediately leapt up, padding her way on bare feet.

"Where have you been?" he asked quietly so as not to wake Harry. She looked up through her messy hair, her cheeks red from the effort of carrying so many books.

"The library, of course," she said with a shrug, pushing her hair out of her face and collecting the books. Ron bent down to help her, making a tidy little stack as she did the same.

"What, decide to take it with you, then?" he said, putting the last book atop his pile.

"Some of us are dedicated to our education, unlike some wizards I could mention by name," she huffed, reaching for his pile to place on top of hers. Before she could reach it, he climbed to his feet, hefting his stack up with him. He wondered belatedly, as he watched her climb to her feet too, if he should have helped her up. Blushing, he juggled his stack in one arm and swiftly took hers out of her arms. She looked startled. "Thank you."

"No problem," he muttered through his lips, which seemed too thick all of sudden. The firelight played on the contours of her face and her dark brown eyes glittered like ebony coals. The familiar flutter in his stomach whenever he looked at her these days (or any day, really) came upon him and he had to look away. His face felt as warm as the bottoms of his feet had felt in the glow of the fire.

"What are you still doing up?" She cast a suspicious look his way and then peered around his shoulder at the fireplace, where Harry asleep in the armchair looked like a big orange and black lump of shadows. "Potions again?"

"That git Snape--"

"Gave us that essay two weeks ago," Hermione interrupted him. "How you both expect to be Aurors with the horrible study habits you both have, I'll never know. Especially you!"

"Don't nag me!"

"I'm not nagging! I'm pointing out a fault you could easily change if you'd just--"

"End up a big, boring bookworm, spending hours at a time in the library killing myself with work just so I can fill my brain up with useless facts I'm never going to need? That position has already been taken if you hadn't noticed!" he snapped back, turning on her, his voice a hiss over the crackle and pop of the fire.

Hermione huffed up at him, her chin pointed, hands on her hips in a way that reminded him of his mother. "Nothing learned is useless!" she protested, ignoring the barb and stomping toward the stairs leading to the girl's dormitories.

"Says the bookworm," he muttered and she swung on him, nostrils flared.

"Ron, why must you insult me all the time? Can't you say anything nice?" He immediately felt bad for the hurt expression on her face and opened his mouth to tell her he was sorry. She went on though, "Harry's nice to me!"

His mouth closed with a snap and his face hardened. "Oh, Harry's nice to you, is he? Well maybe you and Harry should just get married then? Have little Potters and be perfectly happy for the rest of your lives, eh?"

Hermione looked bewildered for a split second before she blushed a deep scarlet color, glancing swiftly at the armchair where Harry was still sleeping. "I wasn't--Ron, I didn't mean...I meant..."

"Meant what?" he insisted with a snap, the corner of one of the books digging into the crook of his elbow with a painful twinge. Both his arms quivered slightly under their weight, but he ignored the pressure and glared down at Hermione.

"I meant...just...Harry's nice to me and you're always teasing me and we're always fighting! Why do we fight so much?" Her eyes were huge and her mouth twisted in a gesture of annoyance that he'd come to know so well. He looked away and his gaze landed on their cast shadows, long and bulky and curved to fit the wall.

"I don't know. We've always fought, Hermione."

"But lately..." her voice trailed off and she looked unhappy. "Lately that's all we do."

"Well..." He couldn't think of anything to say to that. Why did they fight? Because he enjoyed it, truth be told. When they were arguing, all her attention was on him and no one else. That made him feel special. To see the blaze in her eyes and the color rising in her cheeks, the stiffness of her shoulders and the twist of her lips made him feel powerful somehow. She only looked like that for him and he loved it.

"Do you like me?" Her voice was soft and it tore through his mind. He looked stunned, his mouth open slightly.

"Er..."

"Nevermind," Hermione said quickly, blushing again and moving to walk away. She stepped onto the staircase and he shook his stunned silence off.

"Wait! Hermione!" he called softly, putting one foot on the lower step of the girl's dormitory staircase. Three steps up, Hermione turned around to face him and then there was a distantly familiar sound and the stairs melted into a smooth, stone slide. Hermione groped for a handhold for a split instant, found none and then she immediately slid down in Ron's direction.

They collided bodily and the books still teetering precariously in Ron's arms were tossed to the floor. Hermione grabbed hold of his shoulders to keep herself upright and Ron groped for her waist. He pulled her flush with his chest and held his breath.

They stood like that for a few seconds before her dark, glittering eyes lifted in his direction and he was caught in them.

"Ron..."

Instinct took over and he did something he'd never before had the guts to do, though he'd entertained the thought more than once. He bent his head and squeezed his eyes shut, his fingers gripping across her hips and crushing them against his. He felt her fingers tighten on his broad shoulders and heard her breath catch in her throat and then--

Her lips were soft, wet and foreign against his own as he brushed them gently, lingering, his nose bumping hers in a way that made the parts of his stomach not already tumbling about clench into knots. She sighed against his mouth and he took courage, pressing more firmly against the soft curves, her lower lip caught between his. She slid her hands around his neck, fingers sinking into the short red hair on the nape of his neck.

A hot, pleasant puff of breath warmed his mouth as she exhaled; he pulled back and then dipped his head again, his brain wrapped in a numb fog. This time she deepened the kiss, her lips parted slightly, mouth tilted up toward his. He leaned his head to the side rather awkwardly, but she seemed to like that and so he didn't mind at all...

How long they stood there like that he couldn't say. All he could think was "I'm kissing Hermione! I'm kissing Hermione!" and it took all his strength to stop himself from swinging her around and shouting it so loud he'd wake everyone up.

They finally pulled apart when the sound of the stairs righting themselves crashed onto their ears. His cheeks were red as he held her hips possessively tight in his hands. A dazed smile crossed his swollen lips as she took a deep, shuddering breath, clearly shaken. She smiled at him shyly and looked at their touching, curved shadows thrown on the wall.

"I...I..." she stammered as he continued to smile at her. "I like you Ron. I have for a long time and I--"

"I like you too!" he exclaimed, embarrassed relief spreading to all his awkward limbs. She smiled at him and he felt warm all over again.

"Then why do you tease me?" she asked with a bewildered look in her eyes.

"Because I like it when you're mad at me. You get the cutest expression on your face and you only look at me when you get it," he said simply, smiling a bit, the corners of his mouth curling. "I don't like sharing you, you know."

"Ron, you are an idiot," she huffed, letting go of his neck. His smile faded a little.

"What?"

"Well if you'd told me you liked me sooner then we could have spared ourselves a lot of unnecessary bickering!" She said waspishly, scowling at him in the way he liked so much. He rose to the occasion magnificently.

"Oh? And you were just leaping to tell me you liked me too, I suppose? Because I didn't hear one dicky bird about it! All I heard was 'Vicky this' and 'Vicky that'!" he snapped back at her, letting go of her waist and taking a step back over the scattered and forgotten books.

"We're just friends!" she protested, but he rolled his eyes.

"The same way you and Harry are 'just friends'?" he said sarcastically.

She looked blank. "What? We're not friends?"

"I don't know!" He threw up his hands in frustration. "You're all chummy with him."

"Because he's my friend! Are you daft?" At his scowl, she went on, "I don't understand you, Ron. One minute we're fighting, the next we're kissing and now we're fighting again! What did I do?"

"Nothing...I'm just so used to fighting with you I guess. M'sorry," he said, bowing his flaming head. "I'm just a little confused, okay?"

Hermione sighed, "I know the feeling."

There was silence for a moment and the fire popped loudly, making Ron jerk his head upward to meet Hermione's gaze. "So..."

"I…we'd better get to bed," she said nervously, glancing backward at the stairs to the girl's dormitory. "If any of the younger students should wake up and see prefects out of bed at this hour..."

"Oh, yeah...right," he said weakly. Was this it then? What was going on? Were they dating or what? Why was this so hard? "I guess I'll, I'll see you at breakfast."

Hermione nodded and turned to walk up the stairs once more. She stopped in mid-step, turned and then walked lightly in front of Ron, tilting her head upward to meet his once more. The kiss was light and lingering, much like the first one they'd shared had been. His confused insides melted and he smiled faintly against her mouth as she withdrew.

"Goodnight, Ron," she said in a whisper and then turned and all but ran up the stairs where he couldn't reach her. He watched her go, dazed and confused. The fire crackled and popped. He shifted his foot and felt the jagged, heavy weight of one of her forgotten books against his bare foot.

With a contented sigh, he stooped and picked them all up, the tall tower of literature teetering in his arms as he deposited them on a battered table where she'd be able to find them in the morning. He ran his finger idly along the peeling leather spine of one ancient text, his mind turning in tumultuous, happy circles.

Then something occurred to him. He wheeled around to face the fire and his eyes widened in horror.

The chair that Harry had been asleep in was empty.

Swallowing hard and blushing a furious red to match his hair, he made his way up to the sixth year boys' dormitory, creeping in, and his gut in knots.

The curtains to Harry's bed were closed tight. Seamus, Neville and Dean were all sleeping soundly in their beds. He couldn't hear Harry's breathing over Neville's snores though.

Very lightly, he called, "Harry? You awake, mate?"

There was silence for a moment in which Ron wasn't sure if he wanted to hear Harry's voice or not. He was just about to give up and change out of his robes when Harry's voice said very softly, "I didn't see a thing."

Ron's insides went cold with embarrassment. "Yes you did," he hissed.

The curtains parted a little and Harry's tousled head peaked through at him. "Well you were in the middle of the common room, you know. I woke up and you were...you were snogging!"

"With Hermione!" Ron supplied obviously (and rather gleefully) over Neville's snores.

Harry smiled. "Its about time, too."

"What?" Ron asked loudly, but Harry just ducked his head back into the curtains. "Harry!"

"G'night Ron," Harry said, his voice muffled by the curtains. Ron smiled--he couldn't help it--and changed into his pajamas and then lay down in his bed, the curtains drawn tight.

The inside of the curtains was pitchy dark and, as he pillowed his head on his arms, he thought he could feel the soft touch of Hermione's lips against his own. He closed his eyes against the blackness and smiled again.

He couldn't wait for breakfast.

(end)

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