AT DIAGON ALLEY (A SEQUEL TO A MUGGLE SUMMER)
A/N: This is a sequel to A Muggle Summer. There's no real exciting plot - it's just all about the beginning of Ron and Hermione's relationship and of Ginny and Harry's friendship. I don't want to disappoint anyone, but there will be no Ginny/Harry kissing in this story. It's too soon for that. I hope you will read it anyway. It switches POV from Ron to Ginny and I hope it's not too confusing.
Special, special thanks to my two wonderful beta readers, B Bennett and Arabella. I'm especially grateful for the assistance with writers' block several weeks ago….
Disclaimer: JK Rowling is a genius.
PART I: THE SECOND WEEK
Ron Weasley awoke on Friday morning feeling extremely happy and a bit sad at the same time. The last week had been, well, it had been more interesting than any other in Ron's relatively short life. Exactly one week earlier, he had kissed a girl for the first time - it seemed amazing to think that there had been a time in his life when he hadn't kissed a girl. And this girl - Hermione - his best friend, well, what could be better than that?
He lay on his bed, hands behind his head on the pillow, with a silly smile on his freckled face. He heard a noise come from the bathroom and grinned as he knew that Hermione was awake as well. He thought about getting out of bed and scaring her, but decided against it. He was too happy to do anything that might cause a row at the moment.
Ron had come to stay with Hermione for the last two weeks of the summer holidays. His parents (and Hermione) had thought that it would be educational for Ron to see how a typical Muggle family lived. Ron had learned much in the past two weeks - how to play guitar, how to use the telephone and television, how to make a pie, and how to kiss a girl - a skill that his parents probably hadn't intended for him to learn just yet.
Fred and George, Ron's older brothers, had given him some advice on that subject before he left home, and he wondered about their reaction to the owl he had sent them yesterday. The note said,
Dear Gred and Forge,
Thanks for the helpful information. I have completely lost control, but am enjoying every minute of it. If you breathe a word of this to anyone - I'll tell about Fred and Angelina under the Quidditch bleachers last term. Bet you thought I didn't know about that, did you?
(the youngest, yet most impressive, Weasley man)
Actually, Ron hadn't seen anything under the bleachers, but he reckoned there was a pretty good chance that something had happened, and he needed ammunition.
Since Hermione and Ron had confessed their feelings for each other the week before, the rest of the vacation had been extremely blissful. Mr. and Mrs. Granger had taken a few days off of work and they had gone to the seaside one day, and to a rock concert the next. Ron found all of these things fascinating, but the most amazing of all was Hermione herself. He marveled that there had been a time before he was able to hold her hand, or stroke her soft hair, or kiss her. It was all completely and utterly amazing. They were still friends, and had a wonderful time together, but it was even better because they hadn't had a single fight and they were becoming more open with each other. Shyness and awkwardness had bottled up a lot of emotion for the two of them over the summer, but now that was out of the way, neither one of them seemed to be able to stop talking. They spent hours discussing Harry and the events of the year before, Hermione's own fear that perhaps she or her family were in danger somehow, and Ron's observation that his father might very soon give up working at the Ministry of Magic.
The day at the seaside had been especially educational. He had been very excited about it. He had only ever been swimming in the pond behind the Burrow and had not spent any time at the beach. Realizing that Ron probably hadn't packed his bathing suit, the Grangers stopped at a shop along the way and picked up a pair of dark blue swimming trunks for him.
Mr. Granger had parked the car and they had dragged an umbrella, basket, towels and chairs out to the only apparently vacant spot on the beach. The summer had been unusually warm and people were taking advantage of the relatively rare and warm summer sun. Ron stared around in awe. Everywhere he looked, he saw skin. People were dressed, to be sure, but barely. Blushing, he remembered Hermione's Bulgarian bikini and was actually relieved to note that she was wearing a simple, short, mauve-colored sundress. He'd nearly died of shock several minutes later, when, after arranging the towels and blankets, Mr. Granger had grasped the bottom of his T-shirt and lifted it over his head, revealing a very pale chest and a more ample belly than was noticeable under his regular clothing. Ron turned to stare at the horizon, and when he turned again, Mrs. Granger had stripped down to a modest black one piece. Ron was surprised to note that she was actually quite shapely, but he was still in shock. He and his brothers and Ginny would swim in the pond at the Burrow, but he'd never, ever seen his mother stick a toe in there, and the thought of his mother wearing something like a bathing suit made Ron cringe outwardly. Hermione, to his great relief, remained covered in her sundress.
They sat for a while watching the people and sticking their toes in the sand. Finally, Hermione had asked quietly if he wanted to go swimming.
Watching the sand filtering through his fingers, Ron nodded in what he hoped was a nonchalant way, wondering wildly if he had to take off his shirt to go in the water. He knew that he did.
Deciding to follow Mr. Granger's lead, he grasped his T-shirt and pulled it over his head. He was afraid that they might all be blinded by the sight of his white skin glowing in the sunlight.
He used his hands in the sand beside him to lift up but a voice stopped him from standing. "Oh no you don't," said the voice that he recognized as Mrs. Granger's from behind him. Ron turned his head and saw her holding out a plastic bottle.
"Oh, right, I forgot," muttered Hermione's voice next to him and she reached for the bottle, pulling into Ron's field of vision. He gasped when he saw her standing right next to him, the sundress in a heap on the blanket beside her, and the very same bathing suit from the picture on her body. The effect was a bit overwhelming. For his own good, Ron tried not to watch as Hermione sat down on the towel and began rubbing the suntan lotion on her legs and arms.
"You too, Ron. I won't have your mother getting upset with me because that pale skin of yours has burned to a crisp."
"She's right - you are probably the type to get sunburned," began Hermione, but Ron interrupted indignantly, "I go swimming at home all the time and I've never had to put anything on. What is that anyway?"
"Sunscreen - the beach sun is much stronger than at the Burrow because it reflects off of the sand," answered Hermione, scooting over to him on the towel. "Here, sit still." With that, she began to rub the lotion onto his freckled shoulders. Ron thought that maybe burning wouldn't be such a bad thing; at least they wouldn't be able to see him blushing. Hermione slapped his back deftly with her fingers and said, "Done!" brightly.
Relieved to have his back to the Grangers, he took a deep breath, and said to Hermione in his bravest voice, "I'll race you!" and with that, took off running towards the water. It had been freezing, but also quite a lot of fun.
Actually, Ron had been surprised to discover exactly how much fun he had with Hermione since that night at the dance party. It wasn't just the kissing - that day at the beach she had been quite willing to play in the water and was quite as skilful as he was in deceptive moves like dunking. She also knew how to swim quite well and several times had gotten the better of him by disappearing under the water and pulling him down before he realized what was going on. At school they were always with Harry and since every year with Harry had involved some sort of crisis, Hermione always seemed, well, somewhat tense. Here with her parents in the relative calm of the summer, she seemed different, relaxed, easy-going. Once she had even pulled him under, and kissed him abruptly. It had taken him by surprise so much, that, well, he was just glad that he was in the sea and no one could see him turning red.
It had been a perfect day and even years later Ron would conjure up images of Hermione, hair drenched, cheeks rosy, and smile wide, to comfort him in times of stress.
Ron's mind wandered to last night - he grinned - last night Ron had even been reluctant to say "Goodnight." Around midnight, suspecting that something was up, no doubt, Mr. Granger had wandered downstairs in his dressing gown and insisted that they go up to bed. Mr. Granger would have been better off leaving them downstairs. As soon as they were safely in their rooms and certain that Mr. Granger was safely in his, Ron had turned off his bedroom light and then gone in to use the bathroom. After a moment, just for effect, in case anyone was listening, he pretended to leave the bathroom again, but instead, slipped into Hermione's room. She was lying on her bed, writing in her diary. She closed it when she saw Ron. She looked as though she had been caught at something and he reckoned that she was probably writing about him. He would have given anything to sneak a peak at that diary of hers…
"Hi," he said, wondering if he really should have been so bold, but thinking that her pajamas (blue with little rose flowers) were extremely cute.
"Hi," she answered, a bit shyly, even though they had spent the last hour kissing on the sofa downstairs.
"I'm not really tired," he whispered, walking over to the bed. Hermione was now sitting up, legs crossed, "are you?"
Hermione giggled a bit, "not really - it's too bad that we can't ride broomsticks here, isn't it? I don't usually like it - you know I'm not good at flying, but this would be a nice night to go for a ride, wouldn't it?" Her window was open and a warm breeze was coming through the curtains.
Ron sat next to her and just nodded in agreement. He leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. Hermione kissed him back and they remained like that for quite a while. Only when Crookshanks jumped up onto Ron's lap, purring loudly and demanding some attention as well, did they break apart, a bit breathlessly. Hermione's face was flushed a pink color that matched the little flowers on her pajamas and Ron's ears were their usual shade of embarrassed magenta. Realizing that maybe he wasn't sure exactly what to do next, Ron began to feel a bit panicked and stroked Crookshank's furry back and muttered, "well, I just really wanted to come in and say goodnight properly, that's all." Hermione nodded, understanding him, and took Crookshanks from him. "Goodnight," she whispered, watching him as he crept back through the bathroom into his own room.
Ron sighed deeply and forced himself back to the present. Today they were going to London, to Diagon Alley, to meet his family. They would get all of their school supplies, spend the night there at the Leaky Cauldron, and head out on the Hogwarts Express with everyone else. School. Normally Ron liked returning to school, but he wondered what it would be like now with Hermione, and, well, things as they were. Harry was meeting them at Diagon Alley - Ron had told him nothing. They had spoken on the telephone twice in the past week, but Ron had not been able to muster up the words to tell his friend what was going on. He figured that Harry had a right to know - after all, he was their best friend. But how did you announce something like that, "Er Harry, I might kiss Hermione now and then, so you know, don't let that bother you," or "Well, every once in a while, Hermione and I might stay up late and snog in the common room, I hope it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable." Whichever way he put it, it sounded stupid. Ron knew Hermione was a bit uncomfortable and worried about the situation as well. During their last phone conversation with Harry, Ron heard Hermione talking to him and turning very red as she said, "You know, nothing really, watching a lot of TV, listening to music, wishing you were here with us…" It wasn't exactly a lie. It would have been lovely to have Harry with them at the seaside, or at the concert, just so long as he didn't object to Ron sneaking into Hermione's room for a goodnight kiss at the day's end.
Ron heaved himself off the bed and pulled on his clothes. His trunks were pretty much packed, and Ginny was bringing Pigwidgeon with her from home. He heard Hermione leave the bathroom, and he wandered in, splashing cold water on his face. He guessed they'd stayed up pretty late, because there were large circles under his eyes. He threw some of the water on his head, causing red spikes to form, and then went back into the bedroom. Looking around a bit sadly, he lifted the trunk by the handle and dragged it towards the door.