Author's Note: Okay I bet when you found out I updated you either said, "About time!" or otherwise wondered who I was because you forgot about me. Well, I just want to apologize for not posting in a while. I was really enthusiastic about this fic when I left for vacation two months ago, but after I posted Chapter 10 I honestly had no computer access for a month. When I got home I wanted to finish this story, but when I started writing the last chapter I ended up with writer's block. I figured everyone would forget about it and move on. However, over the past month I've received many reviews asking me for updates. And today I received a review from love-ends-with-hope, who told me that she'd re-read my story three times and desperately wanted me to update again. So then I felt like a selfish brat lol and well, obviously I finished the story. So without further ado, here you are: the final chapter of "Coming Into Her Own." Enjoy!
Hermione sat on her bed in Ginny's room reading one of Ron's Martin Miggs comic books. She had borrowed it from him earlier after their Quidditch game and she was surprised to find herself entertained by the "Mad Muggle" and all his antics. Maybe Ron had more taste than she thought.
She heard a knock on the door just as she was turning the page.
"Come in," she called.
It was Ron. He sidled into the room and sat down on the end of her bed. She put the comic book down and looked at him.
"Hi," she said softly.
"Hi," he returned.
"Um...I wanted to ask you something," he said nervously.
"Well, I was just talking to Mum about, you know, us—and she suggested I take you on a date."
"Yeah. She gave us permission to go to Diagon Alley tomorrow. You know, if you want to," he added hastily.
Hermione smiled brightly. "Sure, I'd love to."
Ron seemed to cheer up. "Good. We just have to stay away from Fred and George. You know what they would do if they saw us together."
Hermione nodded. "So is that all your mum said?"
"Heh, yeah right. She hugged me about six times, called me 'Ronnie' over and over again, and asked me why we hadn't gotten together sooner."
Hermione laughed. "I'm glad my mum isn't here. Or my dad, for that matter."
"Yeah, you're lucky. They don't even have to know."
"Well they probably wouldn't be all that surprised. My mum sort of knows that I like you."
Ron blushed. He cast his eyes on the comic book. "Oh, so what do you think of Martin?"
"It's pretty funny, actually. I like this comic."
Ron just smiled at her.
"What?" she asked.
He shook his head. "You, reading comics, honestly..."
Hermione just shrugged.
"Okay, well I'm going to bed," said Ron. He stood up from the bed and made his way to the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Good night Ronnie."
"So where do you want to go first?" Ron asked Hermione. It was a hot day and the two of them were strolling down Diagon Alley, looking at all the shops. Hermione had been very excited that morning; it felt surreal to be on her first date with Ron.
"Hmm...I don't really care. Do you need anything for school?"
"Nah, I'll do all my books shopping later."
"We could go to Quality Quidditch Supplies if you want," Hermione offered.
"Are you feeling okay?" Ron teased.
Hermione stuck her tongue out at him.
"Oh that's mature," he said. "Just kidding!" he added hastily as Hermione raised her arm to hit him.
She laughed. "So do you want to?"
"Yeah sure. Hey maybe we can get you a broom!"
Hermione thought about it. "I don't know when I'd use it though. It's not like I can play for the House team."
"So? Lots of people fly on the weekends even though they don't play."
He had a point. Hermione toyed with the idea while she walked along with him. By the time they arrived at Quality Quidditch supplies, she still hadn't made up her mind.
She followed Ron inside the shop. Dozens of broomsticks gleamed prettily on the walls, and several were on display in the window. Hermione grinned at the sight of them. They just looked so...nice. But did she want one?
"Oh look, a servicing kit!" said Ron excitedly, heading over to a shelf. "It's just like the one you gave Harry." He looked longingly at the black box but then frowned at the price on display. Hermione watched him walk grudgingly away from it.
"So you want a broomstick?" he asked her.
Hermione bit her lip. "Sort of...but they're so expensive. I don't know if I would use it that much."
"Well we could just browse them if you want. Charlie and I used to come in here during the summer and look at the brooms for fun, even though we knew we couldn't get any."
"Alright, let's look at them."
The two of them started perusing the shelves, gazing upon the polished handles and perfectly clipped twigs of the broomsticks. Hermione was particularly interested in a display case that housed antique brooms. Ron became particularly interested in the food selection at the front of the shop.
Hermione tore herself away from the antique brooms and joined Ron at the counter. He was eyeing some chocolate frogs and she could almost see his mouth watering.
"Ron, honestly, how can you want chocolate when we haven't even had lunch yet?"
He shrugged. "I was just looking."
"Can I help you with anything, sir?" asked the proprietor of the shop.
"Er—no, that's okay. We were just looking. I think we'll go now." Ron turned around and so did Hermione, but then they both froze.
"Well, well, well," said a drawling voice. "Look who it is."
"Shove off, Malfoy," said Ron. "Come on, Hermione, let's go."
Draco Malfoy's gray eyes gleamed menacingly. "Where's Potter?" he asked. "Or—don't tell me—are you two here alone?"
Ron's ears turned red. Hermione glared at Malfoy in disgust. "Even if we are, it's none of your business. Shouldn't you be off visiting your father? In Azkaban?"
The clerk behind the counter looked up interestedly. Malfoy shot a look of deepest disgust at Hermione.
"I don't recall asking you to talk, Mudblood."
Ron shook violently but Hermione put a placating arm on his arm. "Don't bother, Ron. He's not worth it."
"How adorable," Draco said nastily. "You two make such a cute couple. But Weasley, couldn't you find someone better than a Mudblood?" Ron made a violent lunge toward Malfoy but Hermione pulled him back. Draco smiled and continued, "Or is she the only one who's willing to put up with your fat mother, your crazy father, and your dilapidated house?"
In a split second Hermione had released Ron and charged at Malfoy herself. He could insult her all he wanted, but he was not going to insult Ron. He yelled as she knocked him over and threw a punch at his face.
"Hermione!" Ron screamed.
"Stop!" yelled the shopkeeper.
Hermione raised her hand to strike again, but lowered it and stood up. Draco was lying on the floor, blood streaming out of his nose and tears in his eyes. "Some tough guy you are, Malfoy," she said menacingly. Then she slowly backed away and rejoined Ron. He was goggling at her.
The clerk came from around the counter and shook his finger at Hermione. "Young lady, that was uncalled for! How dare you turn my shop into a boxing ring!"
Hermione barely heard him. She was still breathing heavily.
"Miss, are you listening to me?"
Hermione looked at the wizened man. "I'm sorry," she said. "Won't happen again."
"No it won't," said the shopkeeper. "Or you'll never be welcome in my shop again."
Hermione looked at Ron. He took her hand and headed for the door to leave. Malfoy was still on his back, holding his nose. "You'll regret this, Granger," he said. Hermione stared resolutely ahead and kept walking.
"Hermione," said Ron once they were back out on the street, "you are by far the most kick-ass girl I have ever known."
For lunch they stopped at Madam Gatilda's Café. It was a quaint little place with an outside patio. Ron and Hermione took a table for two and sat under the shade of an awning, watching the passersby.
"I still can't believe you punched Malfoy," Ron said with awe.
Hermione shrugged. "I shouldn't have lost my temper."
"You shouldn't have held me back. We could have pummeled him together."
"No Ron, we need to stay away from him."
"Is this coming from the same girl who just beat him up?"
Hermione sighed. "I shouldn't have done that. His father will break out of Azkaban soon, we both know that. We need to avoid conflict with him as much as possible. Not to mention we'll get in trouble at school if that happens again."
Ron frowned. "If you say so. But I still think we should have pummeled him." He turned his attention to his glass and started blowing in the straw to create bubbles. Hermione watched him, amused by his enthusiasm. She started blowing bubbles in her own drink.
Ron looked at her and started blowing harder in his straw. Hermione accepted the challenge and put forth more effort into her own drink. The bubbles in her soda were getting higher and higher. They were almost to the top. Ron didn't back down from the competition. The bubbles in his glass were almost as high as hers.
Hermione rose a few inches from her seat, putting as much pressure into her straw as possible. Her head was starting to hurt but the bubbles were about to reach the rim of the glass. She looked at Ron. He had his hands on the table and was blowing furiously.
Two seconds later both of them tore away from their glasses.
"I beat you!" Hermione yelled.
"No you didn't! I beat you!"
"Are you kidding?" Hermione sputtered. "I put you to shame!"
"You did not! My bubbles beat yours!"
Hermione burst out laughing. Ron seemed to realize the stupidity of his statement and he smiled apologetically.
"Okay, we tied," Hermione declared.
Five minutes later their food arrived and Ron began feasting. Hermione watched him eat his way through a cheeseburger, a hot dog, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese.
"Ron, it's a wonder you're so skinny."
He looked up from his macaroni. "Huh?"
"How can you eat all that? Plus the rolls you had earlier?"
He shrugged. "I was hungry! Breakfast was a couple of hours ago."
Hermione just shook her head and returned to her salad. She watched the many witches and wizards walking by the patio while Ron kept his attention focused on his food.
"Uh-oh," Hermione said.
"What?" Ron asked.
"Well hello, Ronniekins!"
Ron groaned. Fred and George had just stopped next to their table.
"Mum told us the good news," said George.
"Seems you two have been doing a little lip-locking, eh?" Fred asked.
Ron turned a deep shade of red. Hermione lowered her head and tugged nervously on her earring.
"Oh look Fred, we've embarrassed them."
"I don't see why George. We just wanted to offer our congratulations."
"Kids these days," said Fred, shaking his head. "They don't appreciate the wisdom of their elders."
"Can't you just leave us alone?" Ron asked.
The twins pretended to look insulted. "Why, dear brother, we just wanted to celebrate with you! It sure took long enough."
"Your whole life—"
"Shove off!" said Ron. He returned to his macaroni and cheese and tried to ignore the twins.
"I think they want to be left alone for their first date, Fred."
"I think you're right, George."
"But first we have to warn them—"
"—to behave themselves!"
"That's right you two, we want you to keep it under control."
"Keep it PG-rated!"
"No getting frisky on us!"
"Ow ow!" Fred exclaimed.
Hermione felt her face burning. "Okay, we get it, can you go now?"
"As you wish, Hermykins," Fred said. He bowed to her and motioned to George to follow him.
"Have fun, lovebirds," George called as they walked away.
Hermione looked at Ron. He was glaring at the macaroni and avoiding her eyes.
"Um...at least it's over with," she said.
"They are such idiots."
"We expected that, though."
"Yeah. Merlin, if Mum had heard what they said she would have whooped their arses—"
"Let's just forget about it. Are you finished?"
Ron nodded. They left a couple of Galleons on the table and headed off to Flourish and Blott's, at Hermione's request.
A couple of hours later, laden down with a shopping bag each, Ron and Hermione trudged up the street searching for a public fireplace to use. Both of them were rather were a bit tired after the day's encounters, but they had still managed to have a good time.
"So...that was our first date," said Ron.
"Yes, I suppose it was."
"Did you have a good time?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes. Well...I never expected Malfoy and the twins to make an appearance whenever I imagined this, but nothing ever turns out the way you picture it will."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Oh look, there's one."
Ron spotted the fireplace she was pointing to. The pair of them made their way to it, grabbed some floo powder, and were soon whisked back to the Burrow. Hermione was rather glad to be home.
"They didn't!" said Ginny.
"Yes, they did," Hermione replied. The two girls were sitting on Ginny's bed and Hermione was recounting the events of the day. She had just told Ginny about Fred and George's words of "congratulations" to Ron and herself.
"I can't believe them. Mum would go crazy."
"Oh well, the worst is over."
"What'd you do after that?"
"We went to a couple more shops. We weren't talking much. I think Ron was rather embarrassed after the twins talked to us. He bought me an ice cream though."
"I'm sure your future dates will be better," Ginny said sympathetically. "On my first date with Dean I accidentally hit him with a door."
Hermione smiled weakly. "Yeah, you told me. I just always pictured our first date to be perfect. Then again, I never imagined myself laughing when he kissed me..."
Ginny put her arm around Hermione. "Trust me, it gets better."
"Well thank goodness."
Mrs. Weasley's voice rang up the stairs, announcing dinner. Ginny and Hermione leapt off the bed and joined the rest of the family downstairs for roast chicken.
Later that evening Hermione's bad mood had, for the most part, vanished. She was sprawled out on the living room rug, playing an intense game of cards with Harry, Ginny, and Ron. Harry was winning, but only barely, and Ron was close behind.
Twenty minutes later Harry had become Card Champion. He raised his arms in victory and laughed in Ron's face. Ron threw the cards at him. "Oh shove off Potter, you got lucky," he joked.
"You're just bitter because I beat you at a game for once," Harry replied. He stood up and did a mock victory dance around the room. Hermione and Ginny burst out laughing and Ron couldn't conceal his grin. Harry started chanting. Ron threw a pillow at him and walked out of the room.
"Where you going, Ron?" Ginny asked.
"Upstairs. I have to get away from this idiot," he said, jerking his thumb back at Harry. Hermione smirked. She loved to watch the boys rag on each other.
"Want to play again?" Harry asked Hermione and Ginny.
Hermione stared after Ron. "Um...maybe later, Harry."
"Going somewhere?" Harry said slyly.
Hermione rolled her eyes and raised herself off the floor, smacking him with a pillow. Ginny laughed. "Leave her alone Harry, she wants to go snog my brother some more."
Hermione blushed but Harry made a revolting face. "Aww c'mon Ginny, don't fill my head with images of that!"
Ignoring the two of them, Hermione walked out of the room and followed Ron upstairs. She could see him climbing the landings above her. He didn't stop when he reached his bedroom, but kept climbing, so she assumed he was going up on the roof.
She ascended the ladder a minute after he did and found him waiting for her.
"I thought that was you following me," he said.
Hermione smiled. "Were you tired of cards?"
"Tired of the whole day, more like. Next time we go out on a date, there's no way it will be in the same country as Fred and George."
She sighed. "That really put a damper on your day, didn't it?"
"They are just so embarrassing sometimes. Some of the stuff they said..."
"I know, it was very rude."
"I can't do anything without them teasing me. I'm sorry you had to be a part of it."
"Don't worry about it."
They settled into an uncomfortable silence. Hermione wasn't all that bothered by the twins' words, but it upset her that Ron had been so irked. She wished the day would just end.
Ron suddenly opened his mouth and blurted out, "Hermione, you don't think we'd ever do anything besides kissing, do you?"
Hermione was startled. She hadn't expected this question. "Er—well, no, of course not! Ron, just stop thinking about the twins' 'warning', it's upsetting you."
"Sorry, I just...I was curious."
Nervously, she asked, "Why? You haven't thought about it, have you?"
Ron blushed. "Um, well, I've thought about it, yeah."
Hermione's stomach plummeted. She did not want to have this conversation with him. She backed away from him and leaned against part of the deck.
She didn't answer him for a moment. How wasshe supposed to answer him? Many emotions were welling inside of her and she didn't know how to deal with them all. Angers and insecurities were rising to the surface.
Ron sighed. "I am such a git. I'm really sorry, Hermione, I didn't mean it. I'll never talk about that again. I promise I'll never do anything like that."
She cast her eyes on his feet. "I don't see why you'd want to anyway," she blurted out.
"Huh?" Ron asked in confusion.
"You wouldn't find much." She said it with the air of a guilty person confessing a crime.
Comprehension dawned on Ron's face. "Oh Hermione, you don't have to be insecure about that—"
Something stirred inside her. His words ate at her stubborn pride and she lashed out at him. "Insecure? That's rich coming from you, Mr. I-have-to-live-up-to-my-brothers."
She knew immediately that her words had stung him. He looked as though she'd slapped him in the face.
Ron opened his mouth furiously to retort, but he held his insult back. She knew he was struggling not to fight with her. Instead he slumped down with his back against part of the roof and didn't look at her.
"Ron," Hermione said apologetically, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that."
He looked up. "It's okay, I guess I deserved it."
"No you didn't." He didn't respond, so she sat down on her side of the deck and waited for the awkward silence to disappear.
After a minute Ron cleared his throat and Hermione gazed anxiously at him. He opened his mouth, hesitated, and then spoke quietly: "Erm...I meant what I said just now. You have no reason to feel that way about yourself."
"How would you know?"
"Well, I mean, I am a guy. We tend to notice—er—these things." His cheeks flushed and Hermione smiled in spite of herself.
"Thanks, I guess," she muttered.
"Just telling the truth."
Hermione made a doubtful noise.
"What?" asked Ron. "You don't believe me?"
"No, it's not that. It's just—I think you're crazy for feeling that way."
Hermione sighed. "Ron, I'm nothing special. I'm not Fleur Delacour. I know that."
"Hermione, I thought you were the smartest witch in the school."
She looked at him quizzically. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Because," he said exasperatedly, "you're a complete genius but you don't even realize how pretty you are."
Hermione blushed, but Ron, for once, did not.
"So you think I'm pretty, then?" she asked happily.
"Well I thought that was painfully obvious." He sounded remarkably like her.
Hermione smiled. "Thanks Ron, I think you're pretty too."
"Pretty? I was hoping maybe for handsome, good looking, cute—"
"Does 'stud' work?" she asked as she walked over and sat down next to him.
"Stud definitely works," he said enthusiastically.
"Fine then, you'll be my red-headed stud."
Ron made his Gilderoy Lockhart face and Hermione laughed. She cuddled closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I'm really sorry I said that thing about your brothers."
He nodded his head. "'S'okay."
"You wanna know a secret though?"
Hermione leaned close to his ear and whispered, "I think you're the best out of all of them."
Ron grinned. "And I think you're really hot."
Hermione blushed. "So kiss me then, O stud of mine."
"If you insist." Ron leaned towards her and trapped her mouth with his own. She wrapped her arms around his neck while they kissed. After a few moments she lay down on her back and pulled him down next to her.
Hermione started feeling giggly again. She tried hard but could not suppress her laughter.
"Are you laughing again?"
"Sorry, I just still find this all very weird. I never really thought of myself as the snogging type."
"Hmm...." said Ron. "Hermione Granger: Perfect student, social activist, best friend to the Boy Who Lived, and world-class snogger."
Hermione laughed heartily. "That does not sound right at all."
Ron pecked her lips. "Sounds fine to me."
She smiled and reached out to play with his thick auburn locks. "I've always wanted to touch your hair," she said quietly.
"Why?" he said, wrinkling his nose.
"I'm not sure. I just always had this urge to play with it."
Ron put his arm around her and closed his eyes. She continued to play with his hair but also took the opportunity to survey his face. She gazed at his long eye lashes and light freckles and then traced his mouth with her finger. Ron smiled. Hermione kissed his lips lightly.
"You smell good," he said suddenly.
"It's the perfume you gave me for Christmas."
Ron opened his eyes. "You wear that stuff?"
"Of course I do. I love it."
He grinned. "I had it custom made, you know. I was really nervous to give it to you but I wanted you to know that I definitely think of you as a girl."
"Well, it was my favorite present."
"Yeah? Even more so than that book Harry gave you?"
"It was even better than that," she confirmed.
Hermione snuggled closer to him and rolled over so her back was facing him. He put his arm around her and rested his head in her hair. She closed her eyes and breathed his scent.
"How long have you fancied me?"
"A couple of days," she teased.
Ron tickled her stomach quickly.
"Stop," she laughed. "Umm...probably since about third year."
"How long have you fancied me?" she asked.
"About the same time I think. I just didn't realize it until this past year."
"Well, I'm glad you finally did."
"So am I."
"You're my number one reason for living, Ron Weasley," she said daringly. She held her breath and waited to see how he would respond.
Ron didn't miss a beat. "You're mine too," he declared. "And you're worth it."
She sighed and closed her eyes again. A war was brewing in the magical world, a dark lord was rising to power, and her life was about to change. But she thought about it with hardly any fear. After all, she had Ron Weasley. And together, they had more than any dark lord could ever have.
Author's Note: Well, that's it. That's the end. I hope it was okay. I just want to thank everyone for all their support. Seriously, you guys are the best. You make me a better writer and a better fan. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the reviews and encouragement. Right now I have two other stories in the works, but I want to be sure I've planned them out and gotten into them enough before I post them. Keep your eyes peeled for new updates though. Once again, thanks everybody! I love you all!