Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of the incredible J.K.Rowling.
A Matter of Timing
Hermione Granger smiled at Harry as she spun around, showing off her new dress.
"Do you think he'll like it?" She asked. Harry looked at the dress.
"Yeah, he probably will."
"Probably? What do you mean, probably? Will he or won't he?"
"Hermione, the dress is great. But you know Ron. He doesn't tend to notice clothes. Well, he might notice if you showed up without them, but…"
Hermione considered for a moment.
"Well, I'll wear this one anyway. I think tonight is the night, Harry! I think Ron's finally going to say it!"
"Urgh, how does Ginny put up with you? I love you, dummy."
"I love you too, Herm." Harry said, looking slightly worried. Hermione groaned.
"I meant that was what Ron was going to say! But I think I might say it first. Just so he knows I'm OK with all of it."
"Oh… right." Harry said, more than a little relieved.
Hermione pulled out a bottle of sleek-easy potion and started to dab it onto her hair.
"Has Ron said anything to you about tonight?"
"Does he remember it's our one year anniversary?"
"Yes. Mostly because you sent him a memo, though."
"Just making sure." She said, brushing her hair, and then pouring some more potion onto it. Harry couldn't understand how girls got so worked up over little things like one year anniversaries. Or two week anniversaries. I mean, how many anniversaries were there exactly?
He cleared his throat.
"So, what makes you think that Ron's going to say it tonight?"
"Well, things have been going so well between us lately. We haven't argued in over three weeks!"
Harry wondered if they were supposed to have an anniversary for that.
Hermione looked at her reflection and nodded in satisfaction.
"OK, Ron is going to be here any minute. What do you think? I need a guy's opinion."
"You look nice."
"Nice? Harry, mittens are nice."
"OK, you look incredibly hot. Is that what you want to hear?" She glared at him. He shrugged in bewilderment. She did look nice. What else was he supposed to say?
She brushed invisible dust off her dress and jumped as the doorbell rang.
"That's him!" She dashed through the living room to the front door and pulled it open. Ron stood there and grinned when he saw her.
"Hi Ron." She said, slightly breathlessly. Harry came out.
"Hey. Ready to go?" he asked Hermione. She nodded and turned to Harry.
"Don't mess the place up. If Ginny's coming over, tell her that her earrings are on the dresser. Oh, and let Crookshanks out."
"Yeah, OK. Go on." He pushed her through the door.
As they walked along the beach, holding hands, Hermione felt like she was going to die of happiness. The restaurant had been so romantic and the suggestion of a moonlit walk on the beach had nearly made her faint. Ron looked up.
"Full moon. Hope Lupin's OK."
"He will be."
"Yeah… hey, look!" He picked a shell and put it to his ear. "I can hear the sea!"
"Ron, we're right next to the sea." Hermione pointed out. Ron looked around and blushed.
"Well… yeah… I guess so…"
He pulled a chocolate frog out of his pocket and unwrapped it, chewing the chocolate slowly. Hermione sat down on a bench.
"Ron, I want to talk to you." He sat down too.
"Nothing. Everything's great. And it has been for a long time now. And I think it's because of you."
He stared at her. She looked down at her hands.
"Ron… I… I love you."
"Oh my god…"
"I know this is kinda sudden, but I really do. I think I always have."
"I don't believe it!"
"And I think we should talk about it. I mean, we've been together for a year now-"
"This is incredible!"
She looked up, hope shining from her face.
"You mean it?" She asked desperately. He looked at her and hugged her tightly.
"This is the best thing that has ever happened to me!"
"Me too!" She cried, hugging him. He pulled away, waving his hand around.
"I've been waiting my whole life for this!"
Hermione felt herself tear up and wiped her eyes.
"I know… it's so amazing…"
"I finally have a full collection!"
Wait. That didn't flow. She stared at him.
"What are you talking about?" She demanded shrewdly. He stared at her disbelievingly.
"What do you think I'm talking about? I've got her! I've got Morgana!"
And then Hermione understood. In the hand he was waving around was the card from his chocolate frog.
Morgana was the last card missing from his collection.
Irrepressible rage swelled up in her. She stood up furiously. He stared at her.
"Herm? What's wrong?"
"You- You- unfeeling git! I hate you!" She threw a piece of driftwood at his head. He dodged it.
"Hermione, what's the matter with you?"
"Leave me alone!"
And she apparated away. Leaving Ronald Bilius Weasley extremely confused.
Ginny and Harry stared at him across the kitchen table.
"You are a complete and utter prat." Ginny said frankly. Ron stared at her.
"What do you mean? I don't get it… she was just as happy as I was at first… and then she went all psycho on me!"
"I spoke to Hermione. She wasn't happy about the bloody card! She was saying that she loved you." Harry said.
Ron gaped at him.
"Never been more so." Harry assured him. Ron stared at him for a moment and then let his head fall with a resounding thud onto the table. Ginny patted his unruly mop of hair.
"What am I going to do? Hermione won't even talk to me."
"Well, that's what happens when you pour out your feelings to guy and he's ranting about a chocolate frog card." Ginny told him.
Harry took a deep breath.
"Ron… I think you know what you have to do."
"What? …no… not that! Anything but that!"
"Do you want Hermione back?"
"Then you have to!"
"But Harry… it's a full collection! I've been collecting them since I was six!"
"What's going on?" Ginny asked, bemused. Ron told her. Ginny's eyes widened.
"No… even I think that's harsh."
"It's the only thing I can think of!" Harry explained.
Ron sighed and looked down at the box next to him. Fifteen years worth of card collecting…
"OK. I'll do it."
Hermione sat in her armchair, in her apartment, reading a book when there was a knock at the door.
"It's open." She said idly. Ron came in and she stood up.
"What do you want?"
"Harry explained what happened."
"What, me pouring out my soul while you get excited over a piece of cardboard?"
"Well that was nice of him. Please leave now."
He held up a large box.
"Hermione, this is the complete set of Chocolate Frog cards. One of only four collections in the whole world. I've been collecting them for fifteen years."
She looked distinctly unimpressed. Ron took a deep breath.
"And I'll destroy each one, if it'll make you forgive me."Hermione merely looked at him. Ron sensed that she didn't quite understand the supreme sacrifice he was making.
"Every single one. Thrown onto that fire." He gestured to the flickering fireplace.
Still nothing. Ron took a deep breath.
"Will that work?"
"Let's see, shall we?" She said coldly. Ron felt himself go cold. Gingerly, he reached into the box and took out Morgana. Slowly he walked to the fire.
He held his hand out, the card gripped between his fingertips. Hermione watched, expressionless.
Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and released the card. It plummeted down to the hungry flames.
Ron's eyes snapped open. Hermione clutched the card in her hand. He stared at her.
"Ronald Weasley, I can't let you do this! I know how much these cards mean to you!" She took a deep breath.
"I love you, OK? And I don't care if you love these stupid cards more."
"I don't. I love you more. I mean, the cards are important. But not as much as you."
"Good." Hermione said. Ron nodded.
Hermione looked at the card.
"Here. Put this back before you do something stupid with it. And next time, try to manage your timing a little bit better."
"I will. Promise."
"Good. Want a coffee?"
Ron tenderly tucked the Morgana card back into the box and followed Hermione into the kitchen. But firs the turned and gave Harry and Ginny a thumbs up through the window. They returned to gesture and sank down out of sight. Ginny looked at Harry.
"How did you know she wouldn't let him do it?"
"You told me she wouldn't let him do it!"
"Ginny, if there is one thing I have learnt it is never to try and predict the ways of women." Harry said, showing wisdom far beyond his years. Ginny laughed and kissed him.
"You're a clever bloke, Potter."
"I do my best. Now let's get out of here before Ron screws up again and we have to sort him out."