Title: "Because!"

Author: Padfoot the Marauder

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to the Harry Potter-books or any of it's characters. I am a poor loser who owns nothing!

Summary: A sappy love story. Not all that original, but I felt like writing it anyway.

"Because!"

Exams were finally over and the last week before the Summer Holidays commenced. Flocks of owls soared across the Great Hall on Monday morning dropping the mail at the addressees in question. Hermione got her usual edition of the Daily Prophet and a somewhat unusually thick stuffed envelope.

"Who's that from?" Ron asked while his mouth was crammed with bacon. Hermione broke the seal of the envelope and removed it's content.

"It's from Victor!" she answered excitedly. Ron indifferently helped himself to some more bacon, but a clear disgruntled frown had carved itself unto his forehead.

"And what does Vicky want?" he asked her in a mock-voice.

Hermione took a sip from her orange juice.

"Well, aren't we interested in my personal life today?" she answered sarcastically. "If you must know, he has sent me a Floo-chart."

"A Floo-chart?" Ron muttered while splattering some ketchup on his plate. "What does he send you a Floo-chart for?"

Hermione's gaze travelled over the chart she had rolled out in front of her. She didn't seem at all surprised at receiving such a package.

"Well, if I want to stay with him over the summer I do need a way to get there, wont I?"

At this Ron chocked on his food. 

"What?" he coughed trying to dislodge the bacon from his throat. "You're spending the summer with him?"

"O, don't be so shocked!" Hermoine said calmly "You've known he had already asked me before. In our fourth year, remember? And besides, this summer we'll be graduating and I need to explore all options for the future. And who knows, perhaps I'll stay in Bulgaria for a while. Get a job there or something."

At this news Harry, who was sitting across from her, dropped his cutlery.

           "You're leaving to get a job there?" he asked her, not believing what she was saying.

           "I said 'perhaps'" Hermione emphasized. "It depends on what it's like over there."

Ron's mouth fell open and his gaze went to Harry.

           "Did you know about this?" he asked him in a high pitched voice. Harry shook his head in denial. He also seemed surprised at Hermione's revelation, but seemed somewhat less angry than Ron.

           "Stay there?" Ron asked when he turned back to Hermione, his voice still alarmingly high. "For how long?"

Hermione shrugged.

           "I don't know. A year or so. Maybe a bit longer. Victor said I can stay at his apartment as long as I want."

           "A year?" Ron yelled at her, making some heads turn around to look at who was screaming.

           "Stop making a scene!" Hermione said huffily, her eyes still on the paper. "It's a great opportunity. I thought you would be happy for me."

Ron flinched. His eyes looked like they were ready to pop out of his skull.

           "Happy?" he said in a humourless laugh while turning back to Harry "She thinks we would feel happy?"

Harry looked still baffled, but didn't seem to take it quite as hard as Ron did. He sighed and said: "I don't know Ron. If she really wants to do this, the only thing we can do is support her."

           "See!" Hermione said triumphantly while pointing at Harry. "He understands!"

Ron didn't reply by yelling. He just sat there with his arms crossed while staring in his lap. His face was growing redder and redder by the minute.

           "WHAT?" Hermione growled, looking up from her map feeling annoyed with his obvious pouting.

           "I can't believe you're doing this" Ron said hoarsely, his lips hardly moving and his voice barely audible.

           "Doing what?" she replied indignantly. "Doing something I want to do for a change? Things will change when we graduate, Ron. And what did you expect? That I was going to spend my future exactly the way you saw me fit to lead it?"

Ron promptly raised his head and looked at Hermione. His face had gotten alarmingly red. You couldn't even distinguish his freckles anymore.

"BUT YOU ARE QUITE KEEN ON SPENDING YOUR FUTURE THE WAY VICKY WANTS YOU TO!" he bellowed. He angrily got up from his seat and walked away towards the entrance hall. Hermione got up herself, ran after him and grabbed his arm, preventing him from leaving.

           "That's it, Ron!" she shouted "From the first day you met Victor you have been nothing but disrespectful to him! What has he ever done to you?"

Everyone in the Great Hall had stopped talking and were now looking at them with great interest. Ron shook Hermione from his arm, feeling highly uncomfortable in the centre of attention and stepped a bit away from her.

           "It's just...You shouldn't be with him!" he stuttered, his face turning as red as his hair.

           "And why is that?" Hermione replied as she crossed her arms in a way as if she was waiting to hear what a ridiculous answer he could possibly have for her.

           "BECAUSE!"  he snarled as he was trembling.

           "Because? What kind of reason is "because"? Really Ron if that's the only thing you..."

           "Because... you should be with me!"

It seemed the entire Great Hall was suddenly shrouded by a silencing-spell. After the words had left Ron's mouth he wished he could have taken them back. He couldn't believe he'd actually said it. The painful hush that followed the words he had blurted out made his burden even worse to bare. In the blink of an eye he went from being excruciatingly angry to feeling utterly miserable. It was like he had just deflated like a balloon.

           "What?" Hermione asked sensitively. Ron had his arms crossed and found his feet to be suddenly very interesting. His head was so red it seemed like it was about to explode. There was no turning back now. He had blurted it out and was now going to have to face the consequences. He sighed deeply, still looking at his feet.

           "I don't want you to be with him, because I want you to be with me" he said softly, his voice shaking.

Hermione sighed deeply.

           "Why didn't you tell me this sooner?" Hermione asked him as she took a step closer to him.

He shrugged uncomfortably.

           "Isn't it obvious?" he said in a bitter voice, still looking at the floor trying to hide the fact that his eyes had turned misty. "Because I didn't want to feel as wretched as I do now." He wrapped his arms around him and hugged himself. "And I hate being looked at with pity."

Why did he say it? He had known it was going to be like this. They're friends, nothing more. He had kept his mouth shut for so long for this very reason. So why couldn't he just have turned around and walked away when he still had the chance? And now it was all ruined...

She walked up to him and gave him a comforting hug. He didn't hug her back. He didn't want her pity. Having her pity him was even worse. He wanted to push her away, but suddenly felt something like a jolt of electricity as her lips touched his. At this moment everyone in the hall simultaneously held their breaths. Apparently no one had seen this coming. She'd let go of him and looked into his eyes, tears running over her cheeks.

           "You loon!" she sniffed while beaming at him. "You were actually going to let us graduate without letting me know this?"

Ron was utterly transfixed. Did just happed what he thought just happened?

           "But... but...what about Vicky?" he asked her. His face had just gone from 'alarmingly red' to 'chalk white'. Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him close.

           "Forget about Victor. I'm not interested in him that way" she said reassuringly.

Ron felt totally confused.

           "But... you were planning to spend a year at his apartment... he has already send you a Floo-chart and everything."

Hermione chuckled.

"I had send myself the chart, not Victor" she whispered in his ear. "I somehow had to get you to open up to me, Ron. You know a better way?"

It took a moment for Ron to let this information sink in. Over Hermione's shoulder he saw Harry smilingly throwing him a "You-know-she's-smart-what-did-you-expect?"-look. When the information had finally sunk in a big smile spread itself across his face. He finally hugged her back, squeezing her against him. He gently grabbed her face and looked into her eyes as her tears were silently rolling over the back of his hands. As they looked at each other they couldn't keep themselves from giggling. It was so weird how un-weird this felt. They had been friends for seven years, but somehow this new development in their relationship felt natural. He leaned in and kissed her again, this time more ardently since they were both now expected it. The Gryffindor table had burst out into applause and the other tables quickly joined in (except for most of the Slytherins who just goggled in their direction with a distasteful sneer). To Ron it was as if none of them existed, it was just him and Hermione and her sweet warm lips. They stopped kissing and placed their foreheads against each other.

           "So, what do you want to do this summer?" Hermione asked him playfully. Ron felt like his face would burst from the gigantic smile spreading across it. She wasn't leaving! She didn't want to be with star Quidditch-player Victor Krum. She wanted to be with him! She wanted to spend the summer with him. Tears were silently running over his cheeks. He probably looked like a total wimp, but he couldn't care less.

           "Whatever you want" he answered. Hell, if she at this very moment asked him a Dragon-egg he would go and get it for her. He had the girl of his dreams, nothing else mattered. She reached for his hand and entwined it with hers and they both walked back to their seats to enjoy the rest of their breakfast.

As he sat down, Ron suddenly found his need for food being over and left his plate untouched. He deemed that after Hermione had crossed path with his lips, everything else to cross them must in comparison indisputably taste like cardboard, and wasn't worth the effort.  He got a sudden twinkle in his eyes as something just dawned on him.

"Er, Hermione?" he stuttered. "About the summer... do you mind if we crossed a trip to Bulgaria of the list?"

She chocked on her orange juice and giggled in reply.

"I think I could live with that"

The End.