Naturally, it had started as a relatively normal conversation. Ron and Hermione sat opposite each other at a small table near Ron's hearth. His flat was located near London, in a suburban district populated with young professionals and wizards.

As she frequently did, Hermione had popped over for dinner. Ron had made a lamb dish that he was hoping to impress a date with the following week. Hermione often served as his guinea pig. As usual, dinner was delicious. The dishes had been cleared and they were enjoying drinks near the fire. The topic of conversation had transgressed from work, to Harry, to a variety of other topics and, most recently, to the romantic escapades of the Weasley twins. She supposed that was how they stumbled upon the subject at hand: Male Courtship Tactics and the Modern Witch.

In explaining to Hermione how his brothers baited and lured ladies from local pubs, Ron suggested that the answer was quite obvious. "Honestly, Hermione, it's a trade off for this cursed red hair. Some men, particularly we Weasleys, have a special talent for the art of seduction."

"Nonsense!," she responded, somewhat taken aback. "Seduction, please. Silly girls and tavern slags fall for silver-tongued blokes. All that smooth talking . . . honestly! How can men think that a women's undoing can be achieved with a few well chosen words?" she exclaimed once more. She signed and took a sip of her wine. "I'm glad it works for you, Ron, but I can't begin to imagine how."

"No one has tried to seduce you, Hermione?" he asked, his eyebrow arching in inquiry and a smile played on his lips.

They had tried. She had never been interested enough to entertain their attempts, but he didn't need to know that much. She finished another sip of wine but kept the glass in her hand. "Of course they've tried!" she answered, a little more emphatically than she wished. Smirking, she added, "I guess I'm not the type of girl that can be lured into bed by silky words and a sultry tone."

"Ah, I see," Ron responded, with the ever present smile. Almost as an afterthought, he added under his breath, "No one has tried properly."

She gave him a puzzled expression before letting out a humorous scoff. "Oh, and I suppose that you, Ron Weasley, are the self proclaimed king of 'proper' seduction?"

"Maybe," he chuckled before taking another sip of his glass of firewhiskey. "But, that's not what I meant."

He paused, she indicated from him to continue. His eyes wondered a little, he almost looked hesitant to enter this conversation with her. "Every woman is different; sort of requires a different approach. I'm betting no one has taken the right approach with you."

Interesting, she pondered. This conversation was getting interesting, indeed. Curious now, she asked, "And what would be the right approach?"

"Hermione, please. I'm a gentleman, and a gentleman never shares his secrets," he said humorously.

She noted his distraction technique. It was pathetic how well he knew her. Normally she would have seized the opportunity to argue that off topic point immediately. Instead, she took a different route. "Of course you can. You must! You're my best friend. There is a rule about this somewhere you know. You can't tease me into intrigue and then drop me cold!"

"Hermione," he pleaded.

"Ron!" she exclaimed.

Several seconds of silence passed. He was giving her an exasperated grin, she was giving him what he affectionately referred to as 'the resolve face' and she could see him cracking.

"Fine!" he gave in. "But, just remember that you asked for it! Don't be angry with me if things get all weird . . . or if you suddenly have the urge to rip off your clothes and pounce on me," the comedy apparent in his voice as he spoke.

Oh. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. The brief mental image that had flashed across her mind depicting the very scene he just explained gave her a quiver in her tummy. More wine, dulls the senses, she mentally reassured herself as she reached for the bottle and poured herself another glass.

"Well," he began, "You're the type of girl that guys are a little intimidated to approach."

"I am not intimidating!" she exclaimed.

He looked at her with one of his classic expressions. That's when she realized that she had gripped the sides of the table and risen out of her seat several inches to rebut him. Quickly, she landed back into her seat, grabbed her wine glass and took another sip after expelling a brief, "Humph."

"Right, as I was saying," he continued. "So, let's just say hypothetically that you are a mildly intimidating girl." He paused for another outburst but she remained subdued. He continued, "Any guy that approaches you is thinking he needs to take the least obvious approach, lest you catch on to his antics and throttle him."

Ugh. He thinks I'm such a wench on wheels. I hope this isn't seriously the way I come across to the male species as a whole. "Throttle him?" she questioned.

"Well, send him packing, perhaps," Ron amended humorously.

"So, then how am I to be seduced? In this hypothetical, what would a man need to say to me to get me hot?" she asked in a sarcastically dramatic tone, arching her eyebrows for effect.

He pondered her for a few moments with his head angling a bit to the left. Finally he shook his head and sighed, "I'm not sure about this, Hermione . . . "

But she had mistaken his hesitancy for defeat. "Ha! It can't be done. Really Ron, poor show," she leaned back into her chair in victory.

"Oh, it can be done," he stated, matter of factually, cutting short her celebration. "It just takes a certain skill. A very qualified silver-tongue, if you will," he added for humor.

"Right," she scoffed sarcastically. "Just admit that it can't be done so we can move on to more engaging topics, like your next date with the flavor of the week."

"I'm serious," he stated in a tone that reinforced what he was saying, but an impish smile threatened to break his stony expression. "It can be done."

"Well then, Ron, who are these extra special lads? Who can lure Hermione Granger to bed with –" she was cut off before she could finish her quip.

"I can."

She paused and considered him. He was her friend and, although not quite her standard type, he was very attractive. In another life, she might be intrigued by the idea of him pursuing her for a bedroom romp. But he had never shown any interest in her, at least in any kind of romantic or physical way. She buried any less-than-pure thoughts she'd had about him long ago.

Regardless, there was no way was she incapable of resisting a little smooth talking, even from him. His firewhiskey was getting to him, making him cocky. She could hardly handle the mental picture that this conversation had inspired: her fawning over him as he whispered a few sweet nothings in to her ear. The giggles she was attempting to suppress could no longer be contained and she erupted in laughter.

"I'm sorry, Ron, but honestly!" she exclaimed.

He didn't respond. He continued to look at her, head still tilted slightly, eyes twinkling in the firelight.

"Ron, I'm not being critical," she offered once her laughter subsided and before a quick sip of wine. As she set her glass down, she continued, "Of course I'm being critical. Who am I kidding? But, seriously, I don't fit quite fit the description of the women I know you bring home from the pubs. I've got a bit more . . . substance. Smooth talking doesn't win me over."

He remained quiet and gazed at her. He extended an elbow along the side of the table and was resting his head in his hand. Seconds ticked by and he didn't say anything.

Hermione looked at him and sighed in exasperation. She shook her head as she took another sip from her glass. She watched as he brought his own glass to his lips. The silence continued.

"Alright!" exclaimed Hermione, piercing the solitude. "Tell me, great Ron Weasley, how to seduce Hermione Granger."

He smiled smugly and tipped his glass for another sip of Ogden's. When he hadn't responded for several seconds, Hermione decided that the whole thing was just a ploy to get a rise out of her. Thank Merlin, I won't have to tolerate any more of this -

"The seduction of Hermione Granger," he began, meeting her eyes, "begins with the setting." He surveyed the room around him and continued, "one wouldn't attempt to seduce Hermione Granger in a pub. Nor would one attempt to seduce her in any busy," he waved his hand for effect before continuing, "crowded kind of place. In fact, despite the fact that it is one of her favorite places on earth, one wouldn't even try to seduce Hermione Granger in the library."

"Why not, Ron? you are wondering," his eyes twinkled as he refocused his attention on her. "Good question. Listen and learn."

Hermione smiled and chuckled inwardly about her dearest friend. Ron was always entertaining. She had never met a better storyteller, it was one of her favorite things about him. She laughed inwardly at the doozie she was in store for tonight.

"Though she doesn't come across as such, Hermione is a private person. She's not the type of girl that wears her heart on her sleeve. Though she has a certain penchant for having public screaming matches with her two best mates, which are frequently well deserved," he winked at her before continuing, " . . . there are some things that Hermione keeps out of the public eye."

She glanced up at the ceiling and back at him, but gave him a small smile as he continued.

"And her love life falls well within that category," he stated. "She doesn't like public displays of affection, she doesn't want others to know the details of her relationships, and, most notably, she doesn't let others get too close to her heart," he paused as if waiting for her to berate him for crossing the line with his analysis.

Subconsciously, Hermione shifted around in her seat in an attempt to maintain comfort This clever little story of his was hitting close to home. He was right, she hated when she was approached in pubs and parks. It made her feel as if she was inside a fishbowl and the entire world was watching and listening to critique her. Hermione decided to interject her own comments so as to lighten the mood and steer the conversation away from the topic of the inner workings of her heart.

"Hermione Granger sounds quite like an ice princess when it comes to romance, no wonder the other attempts at seduction have failed thus far," she opined while smiling.

He contemplated her for a moment, staring into her eyes. "On the contrary, Hermione is very passionate and once a spark is ignited . . ." he trailed off. "But, that's neither here nor there," he finished.

"Back to the setting," he resumed. "Because Hermione is not the type to be public with her romantic indulgences, the setting must be private. Say, the living area of a friend's flat, for example," he sat back and spread his arms in reference to their current surroundings.

"How convenient," she lamented.

"I can tell you are overcome with the irony," he responded before sipping on his whiskey. "Allow me to continue . . ."

"By all means," she said with a wave of her hand.

"Now that the setting is established, the atmosphere needs to be right."

She rolled her eyes, but couldn't keep from smiling.

"Hermione is a clever witch and she can smell a set-up from a kilometer away. Thus, the classic candle light and soft music approach will not do."

Hmmm, he's definitely right about that. Hermione hated the smarminess of these 'romantic' mood setters. It was so typical, so overdone and only made everything that may or may not follow seem so prearranged.

Ron continued, "An approach like that would make Hermione totally uncomfortable. Instead, one would need a plan that seems . . . unplanned."

She gave him an amused expression, arching an eyebrow at the continuing saga.

"Hot chocolate to warm up after a walk around town; curling up on the couch and taking turns reading aloud from Hogwarts: A History," he listed, giving her the opportunity to chide him for teasing her about her very favorite book.

She didn't take the bait and only nodded for him to continue.

"And, of course, a roaring fire is nice too," he gestured to the blazing hearth to his left. "And yes the irony is noted," he chuckled. "And now, the part you've been waiting for," he said with some fanfare. "We are ready to discuss the dialogue."

Goodie, she thought, happy they reached the part of Ron's lecture that she could really knock him down. She wasn't susceptible to mindless flirting, it was just a fact.

"I'll begin by telling you how you wouldn't seduce Hermione Granger," he began. "Hermione is very bright; brilliant to be precise."

Her lips curled in a small smile.

"But she doesn't need to be told this," Ron added.

Hermione's smile fell and raised her eyes to meet his gaze, her eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"Hermione works very hard at everything she does," he continued as he twirled the ice cubes around in his glass. "And while she appreciates scholastic praise, deep down she knows she's clever. She doesn't need some bloke looking for a shag to tell her how smart she is because she's well aware." He took the last sip from his glass before reaching for the bottle to pour himself another. "Besides, Hermione's been the 'smart girl' all her life. If one wanted to seduce her, one would choose a more unique route.

"Likewise," he continued, "one wouldn't be wise to compliment Hermione on her determined nature. Look at what she's already accomplished? She graduated at the head of the class and accepted a prestigious position with the Ministry of Magic. Does she need to be reminded that she's determined? Hardly. She's lived her life, she knows."

She hadn't thought of that, but was surprised at how right he was. Commendation for her frequent achievements was flattering, but sometimes seemed a little redundant. When men approached her with this tactic, she always felt like a child being praised by proud parents, rather than an object of romantic pursuit.

Now somewhat uncomfortable with the depth of Ron's analysis, Hermione was ready to call off the entire conversation. She had a little too much wine and really wasn't interested in further psyche-diving led by Captain Ron Weasley.

"To seduce Hermione Granger," he paused to make sure she was paying attention, "one must tell her the things she hears infrequently or, if you can believe it's possible, the things she doesn't know."

Again, she gave him a puzzled expression. "Like what?" she asked, attempted to come across cool and collected. In reality, his evaluation was taxing her a bit. "That she's beautiful?" she asked, attempting humor.

"Yes," Ron agreed softly. "But Hermione is very detail oriented. I would employ specifics because they would be more effective."

She was surprised by his response. She was expecting him to shower her with cliché adjectives.

"I would tell her that her hair, which I know she detests most of the time, is one of my favorite things about her. There is nothing like it. That the curls, the ones that fall forward so easily, kept me transfixed for years at school, when I would try to copy her essays from across the table."

She resisted the strong urge to sweep away a few of the curls that had fallen out of the knot of hair on the top of her head and gave him a slightly impatient look. The hair. It wasn't the trait that the boys that approached her started with, but it was a back-up. A mediocre approach, at best, Mr. Weasley.

"I would tell her that she has a very distinct profile. That the up-turn of her nose, which others may associate with snobbery, has always struck me as somewhat adorable."

She felt her cheeks redden. Don't be silly, she chided herself. This is just a game to see whether he can get a rise out of you. Nevertheless, she felt as if the temperature in the room had increased by several degrees. She could say with some certainty that a pursuer had never complimented her nose.

His tone softened and she saw, and felt, him move closer to her chair. "I would tell her that the freckles on her skin beg me to count them, especially the three that are sprinkled on her collarbone."

Oh. No one had ever commented on her freckles before. She couldn't believe that he knew she had them. She nearly shot out of her chair when she felt his fingers brush against the skin of her neck.

"I don't get to see these as often," he said as he gently pulled the neckline of her top across her left collarbone. "Only during the warmer months," he said as he traced his fingertips across where she knew those freckles to be. He smiled slightly when removed his hand and replaced her collar.

She fidgeted nervously, a little overwhelmed by his intimate knowledge of the placement of her freckles. He gaze trailed to her hands. He picked one of them up and held it his palm.

"I would tell her that I enjoy watching her work. That the way she uses her hands has a certain grace that has always intrigued me." He swept his fingertips along her open palm up to her wrist and back again. "I would tell her that no one can use a wand, either for household chores or to save the world, with as much elegance as she does."

His touch sent shivers down her spine. She struggled to regain her composure and shifted awkwardly in her seat. She crossed her legs and folded her hands in her lap before he continued.

Her movement caused his attention to fall on her legs. She watched as he ran his gaze from her denim-clad thighs to her knees, down her calves to her patterned blue socks.

"I would tell her that she has sexy ankles," he said, his smile evident in the sound of his voice.

She gasped softly at his unconventional choice of feature.

"I know she likes them too. Every summer I watched her come down the steps of the Burrow, always in a pair of strappy summer sandals, showing off her ankles," he reflected briefly. "But it was the school months that really captured my attention," he confessed as he reached out to stroke the outside of her raised ankle. "Because of the robes, it was the only part of her body that I got an unobstructed view of every day. I admired them for many years."

Her mind was racing. What on earth had this turned into? Had he really paid such close attention to her ankles? Had he really been admiring any of her features for years? Her breathes were becoming shallow and she could feel her heart rate quickening under his gaze.

His gaze had trailed back up her body and settled on her midsection. "And Merlin, those curves," he sighed and his voice had a far off quality.

She couldn't help but let a sarcastic smirk cross her face. Thankfully he was falling into trap. This line was too overdone and too undeserved to keep her enthralled with his musings. Her modest form couldn't quite compare to the women that Ron liked to bring home.

He looked up from his focus, apparently aware of the thoughts crossing her mind. She was on her way out of the fog he had created, so when she met his eyes she wasn't prepared for their intensity. His eyes were boring into hers as he spoke, "I would tell her about the first day I realized she wasn't a silly little girl anymore because I remember it like it was yesterday. We were going to go swimming behind the Burrow near dusk, and out she came in a dark red bathing suit," he recalled, still staring intently at her.

She remembered the day. It was near the end of a hot day about a week before school started. The sun was setting and the sky was painted with bright oranges, reds and purples. The swimsuit he was thinking of was nothing special, not even one of the bikini suits she grew to prefer in later years.

He licked his lips inadvertently before continuing, "I wanted to die when I saw her traipsing down to the pond. In an instant, she had transitioned from my best friend to an object of my teenage fantasies. I didn't know what to do. I was torn between running away and hiding for the remaining two years of school and marching up to her, throwing her over my shoulder and stashing her somewhere far away from the lustful gazes of all the other boys." He paused before adding, "I didn't want to share her anymore."

She could feel the burning path his gaze created as it trailed across her middle. She was overwhelmed by his confessions and by the heat of his stare. She could feel her mouth drying and body tingling. She hadn't noticed that he had proceeded.

"I would tell her that her eyes mean the world to me," he said. She looked up to meet his stare. It was as if he wasn't looking at her eyes, but bypassing them completely and looking directly at her naked soul. "That every time I see her, I search them for signs of acceptance and approval because I can't stand the thought of life without her as my best friend."

Her breathing hitched at the raw emotion apparent in his voice. She had no idea he valued her opinion of him so highly. Of course they were best friends, but she hadn't just how important that friendship was to him. Why are you so surprised? she asked herself, knowing she would be devastated if her friendship with Ron ever ended.

"And finally, I would tell her about her lips," he concluded in a breathy rasp. He inched closer to her face and his gaze flickered between her eyes and mouth. "I would tell her that those lips have driven me across the entire emotional spectrum, from raging anger to lustful insanity. I would tell her that the way she pulls her bottom lip through her teeth, the way she is doing right now, makes it nearly impossible for me to refrain from yanking her to me and snogging her senseless."

That was all it took. She closed the distance between them in a heartbeat, wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders. Their lips met in a hungry kiss. Her lips parted immediately when his tongue sought entrance to her mouth. Before she knew it, he had pulled her from her own chair and landed her in his lap. Emotions were erupting inside of her, she was nearly consumed with lust and love for her closest friend and the thoughts he admitted.

He responded with no less intensity. One of his arms wound around her waist, bringing her tightly against him. The other weaved into her hair, finding its way to the clasp containing the bushy knot on the top of her head and tugging at it softly.

Responding to his frustrated growl, she assisted him in unfastening her hairpiece. Her bushy waves tumbled around them. He moaned in appreciation as he sank his fingers into her thick hair.

She pulled away to catch her breath, but he continued his passionate worship of her soft skin. He trailed wet kissed down her chin and moved his lips eagerly to the barrier of cloth separating him from her collarbone. Just as before, she nearly jumped when she felt his fingers tug the fabric of her shirt along her shoulder, exposing the freckles he had appreciated earlier.

The first brush of his lips sent a bolt of energy right down her middle. She gasped in surprise at her own reaction. She could feel his lips curve into a smile as he continued his feather light kisses.

"I have wanted to do this for so long," he confessed, before running his tongue across the trio of freckles that, before tonight, she had considered totally insignificant.

Her response was enough to show him she no longer felt that way. She curved her body into his and let out a low moan of appreciation.

He returned his lips to hers, and they shared a searing kiss. She was mesmerized by the feeling of his soft lips, by slide of his tongue against hers. His hands slowly roamed along her arms, across her back, and up into her hair, only to retrace their appreciative path once again. She locked one hand in his copper colored locks and traced patterns on his chest with the other.

She felt the uncoiling of a carnal urge in her stomach. Her hand slid inside the front of his shirt, springing one of the buttons free. She gripped his chest, sinking her nails into his flesh.

He growled softly in appreciation of her assertiveness.

Their kisses grew deeper and his hands became bolder. She felt him sweep his fingertips over the buttons of her thin sweater. His fingers made a return pass as he continued to explore her mouth with his tongue.

Please, please, please! she pleaded inwardly.

His fingers made another pass but slowed to a stop as they passed the first button. He toyed with it with the tip of his finger.

Involuntarily, Hermione emitted what sounded to be a painful whimper. Immediately, his kisses stopped, but his head remained close to the soft skin of her neck. She could feel his breath on her skin. It sent tiny chills through her. "I'm sorry," he whispered quietly. "I guess I was getting carried . . . away."

His focus was interrupted by the motions of her own hands. Her fingers deftly unbuttoned the first several buttons of her sweater. His eyes followed her movements and remained when she finished. The gap in the fabric was enough to reveal the periwinkle color of her bra. He was transfixed for several seconds.

Oh, no, she realized. Had she taken it further than he intended?

"Ron?" she asked when he hadn't moved or spoken.

His gaze reluctantly broke and he lifted his head in search of her eyes. His were foggy and his lids looked heavy. His expression was one of raw lust and it was enough to repress her momentary surge of panic.

"Please, don't stop," she whispered quickly, before she lost the nerve to do so.

She watched as the faraway look in his eyes refocused to a brilliant blaze. In one fluid motion, he wrapped his arms around her and lifted both of them off the chair. Instinctually, she wrapped her arms around his neck to keep from falling.

He carried her to the plush couch in the living area. Not quite gently, he placed her across it and his body came down on top of hers.

His fingers sank into her hair as he titled her head to meet his in another passionate kiss. He used his tongue to tease her lips, to trace along her teeth and to play with her own. After several moments, he pulled away so they could regain their breath. He used the opportunity to appreciate the body that lay beneath his.

"Merlin, you're beautiful," he confessed as he trailed his eyes across her body.

Isn't victory apparent? "Ron," she chuckled, "you've already won, you know. The lines can stop. You've proved your point, Hermione Granger can be seduced after all," she concluded pleasantly. A small knowing smile crept across her face.

He looked up to meet her eyes, his expression reflecting befuddlement. He refocused his gaze somewhere on the cushion her head was resting on. He swallowed rather noticeable.

Well done, Hermione. You haven't been snogged like this in ages – if ever, a wicked part of herinterjected - and you've already killed the mood.

He cleared his throat and refocused on her eyes. "Hermione, I haven't been trying to prove a point."

Her breath hitched slightly and she couldn't hide the look of confusion his words triggered.

"I mean . . . . Blast, what do I mean?" he shook his head as he continued to look at her as if she might have the answer.

Hardly, she thought, still wondering what he was trying to say.

"I haven't been trying to win a game. But . . . but, I haven't been trying to bed you either," he offered lamely.

What was going on? His words were awkward, nothing like the suave professions that had led to this very moment. The situation was getting uncomfortable very quickly. Hermione realized how exposed she was with her shirt unbuttoned most of the way down her chest, looking thoroughly debauched. If he was calling this off now, it would be best to get herself in order and preserve whatever dignity remained intact.

"I see," she said as neutrally as possible before moving to sit up from the couch.

"No, you don't see," he rebuffed as he gently pushed her shoulders back into the cushions. "And quit with the mental analysis, I can see the wheels spinning in your pretty little head," he smiled as he stroked a few of her wild curls.

What is he on about? she wondered, praying for an explanation that she could accept.

"The things I've been saying . . . I didn't preplan them. They just came to me. This wasn't . . . er . . . . What I am trying to say is that everything I said is true," he paused, finally appearing comfortable with his response. "I know this began as a game, but the things I was saying were much more than an attempt to prove you wrong, let alone to seduce you."

She peered into his eyes, searching for truth.

"The things I said . . . well, it's what I feel. You're amazingly attractive, I've thought so for years. The fact that you don't realize it drives me crazy."

She felt her skin reddening as a blush crept across her cheeks, across her nearly bare chest.

He swallowed noticeably as his gaze drifted below her face. When he spoke again, his tone was low and raspy, "I want you, Hermione. I can't hide that."

No, he couldn't. The hardness pressing into her thigh was evidence of exactly how much he did.

"But I'm not about to sacrifice over a decade of friendship for one night," he offered as he smiled softly. "Even though I know you are powerless to resist a passionate evening which such a silver-tongued seducer," he offered to ease the intensity of the moment.

And at that moment, she knew why he was her very dearest friend. Cracking a light joke in an attempt to make the situation a little less awkward was something that only Ron Weasley could successfully accomplish.

The course of the evening has shown her how well he knew her. She was surprised to find he knew her almost as well, if not better, than she knew herself. His professions had stirred something in her, something she couldn't readily name. She was shocked that he had been so observant during the course of their friendship; shocked that he knew her in a way that a lover, not just a friend, should. She was even more surprised by the physical reaction she elicited from him tonight.

She shifted, accidentally pressing her thigh into him. He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together while letting out a slow breath.

"Ron?" she asked cautiously.

He opened his eyes and looked down at her.

"I want this. I want . . . you," she stated softly.

His stare, she was sure, could have penetrated a concrete wall. After a few seconds of silence, "This will change things, Hermione."

"I know," she responded.

"I'm not sure you do," he sighed. "Look, I know you know I've had my share of one night stands . . ."

She cringed inwardly, not really sure where the conversation was going. At the moment, she couldn't bear the thought of Ron being intimate with another woman. She made an affirmative indication for him to continue.

"But that's not how this will be," he stated very plainly, leaving her no room to argue the point. "I won't go though with this if that is all you want."

Her breath hitched a little in surprise. "What more do you want, Ron?" she asked.

He considered her for a moment before answering softly, "I want you, Hermione. Not just for tonight."

Her puzzled expression was enough to signal that he should continue.

"I . . . er," he stammered, before an apparent revelation crossed his features creating a small smile. "I don't want to share you anymore."

She looked at him closely, overwhelmed by his confession. Suddenly, she felt as if she could burst. Her heart was racing and her body felt like it was on fire. She felt something tingly coursing through her veins. She parted her lips to respond, but found herself at a momentary loss of words.

"Is that something you can handle?" he asked softly, peering into her eyes searching for an answer.

Rather than verbalize her answer, Hermione reached her hand up and brought his head down to hers. She kissed him with the fervor she felt rushing through her body. She snaked her other hand around his back and pulled him close to her.

Her affirmation made him moan with content and triggered something inside of him akin to aggressiveness. He kissed her passionately, leaving no part of her mouth untouched. When his lips left hers to trail across her cheeks, he asked in a raspy whisper, "Can you handle kissing only me?"

She sighed appreciatively as he nibbled lightly on her earlobe.

"Touching only me?" he asked as he cupped her left breast, teasing her nipple through the material of her bra.

She moaned as her body instinctively arched to press against his.

His lips traced a path down her neck to her breast as he readjusted his body so that she was cradling him with her thighs. His breath was hot on her skin and his lips felt incredible. His hands deftly unsecured the front clasp of her bra and he pushed the cups aside.

"Wanting only me?" he asked as he seized one of her nipples with his lips and pressed himself against her.

Overwhelmed by the sensations, she released a sharp cry.

"Answer me, Hermione," he demanded as he nipped softly at her skin. "Is this something you can handle?" His lips sealed over her other breast hungrily.

"Yes!" she gasped.

"Good," he said lightly against her skin before dragging his tongue across her taut nipple. "Because I don't think I can stop myself," he confessed before moving up to her lips once more.

He kissed her possessively as she clutched at his back. Her fingers found their way to the front of his shirt, where she fumbled clumsily with the buttons.

He broke the kiss and pushed up on his elbows, using one hand to yank his shirt up over his head. Once successful, he tossed his shirt to the floor and looked down at her.

The expanse of his chest momentarily took her breath. It had been a long time since she had seen him without a shirt and she was surprised at the yearning the sight of him ignited inside of her.

She followed his lead and unbuttoned the remaining buttons of her sweater before easing both it and her unclasped bra off of her shoulders. Once they were safely delivered to the floor, she leaned back into the cushions and looked up at Ron.

He licked his bottom lip and pulled it into his mouth as he gazed at her shirtless form. He eased down to lie along her side. He gently traced a path from her throat to her bellybutton with a fingertip.

"Let me see all of you, Hermione." It was a soft statement, but what reflected in his eyes was more of a question. The ball was in her court. If she wanted to proceed, this is how she would tell him.

Her hands met at the button of her jeans. She released the fastenings quickly and eased them down her thighs. She felt slightly vulnerable when she returned to her position next to him clad only in a pair of green knickers. Sure he had spent the last half and hour singing her praises, but now that there were scant bits of material separating them, would he feel as strongly?

His feral gaze was enough to reassure her. His eyes roamed her body likes those of an appreciative predator. "Bloody hell," he swore softly.

His fingertips continued their feather light exploration of her body, trailing down along her thighs. Instinctively, she arched against him as his fingers passed over the fabric of her knickers. Noting her response, he paused and traced the material. After a few light passes with his fingertips, he slipped his hand inside them and pressed it against her.

If he hadn't been driving her mad already, he certainly was now. She struggled to resist the urge to wantonly push against his hand. She gazed up at him under lids heavy with lust. His lips were parted slightly and his eyes were foggy; his intent focus was on the conquest led by his fingertips.

"Ron," she gasped when she felt two of his fingers sink into her.

"Merlin, 'Mione," he responded as he withdrew. "You're so . . . tight," he emphasized his proclamation by sliding them back inside of her. "So . . . wet," he repeated the motion.

She felt satisfied and starved all at once. No one had ever made her feel this way; had ever had such a stronghold on her desire. Feeling bold, she reached for his belt buckle. He moaned softly as she brushed against the bulge in his trousers. With sudden dexterity, she was able to loosen his belt and attack the fasteners of his pants. Reluctant to remove his hands from her body, he assisted her in removing his remaining clothing and depositing it on the floor.

She looked at him in awe. He was beautiful. She was pleased to see that the dusting of fair freckles covered nearly every centimeter of his skin. Her gaze trailed down his chest and followed the line of coppery colored hair that divided his middle. She ran a fingertip along the surprisingly soft path as her lips kissed the hard muscles of his upper chest. She circled his navel and he sucked in sharply as she proceeded downward. Only then did she pause to consider what was impatiently awaiting her touch.

She cast him a very appreciative gaze. He provided much to admire. Maybe this is why he is so secure in the pursuit department, she mused internally. It would be hard not to be confident with what he was bringing to the table.

She trailed a finger across the tip of his length tentatively, curious as to his reaction. She was rewarded with a small shudder.

Feeling bolder, she swept her fingers across him and grasped him tightly. "Fuck," he whispered harshly as his hips thrust toward her touch. As she proceeded to stroke him he sighed, "You have no idea how bloody good this feels," as he knotted a fist in her hair. Flattered, she increased her pace. Before she had much of a chance to continue, he grabbed her wrist and removed her hand from his body.

"Trust me, you don't want to continue with that," he admitted, his voice sounding somewhat strangled. She understood his meaning and nodded gently, but couldn't remove her eyes from the manifestation of his desire. Inadvertently, she licked her lips.

Her subconscious action caused him to growl, "Hermione, I can't take much more of this. I need to be inside of you."

In response, she shifted her situation on the couch and opened her thighs as he repositioned himself between them. He looked at her for a moment, and then reached for his discarded pants. After a bit of yanking and a mild curse, he procured his wand and muttered the incantation for the standard contraceptive charm. Once complete, he dropped his wand to the floor.

He held her head between his large hands, looked down into her eyes and whispered, "This is it, the point at which everything changes. After this, there is no going back." As if to be sure his meaning was not lost, he thrust forward, brushing himself up against her. She shuddered in response.

His eyes were blazing, she had never witnessed such intensity. He seemed so strong, and yet so vulnerable at the same time. She arched her body, attempting to repeat the friction he had just created. "This is what I want, Ron," she admitted. "I want you . . . and everything you're offering."

He continued to gaze into her eyes, a sign of adoration slowly creeping into his. He leaned forward to kiss her soundly, filling her mouth with his tongue.

Still enraptured with his kiss, she felt him drive into her. She let out a sharp cry of surprise that was half muffled by his broken kiss. She was surprised with how he filled her, how he stretched her. Apparently, she wasn't the only one.

Now embedded deeply inside her, he remained stock still. With as much care as possible, he pulled his head up to look at her. "Hermione?" he asked.

She remained still beneath him, her eyes closed tightly in concentration. She was focusing on relaxing, letting the pain subside and adjusting to his invasion. She opened her eyes to meet his.

"Merlin, I'm sorry. I didn't know, I swear. Gods 'Mione, you're so small," he said with as much of an apologetic tone as he could offer, "I would've been gentler, if I had known."

She corners of her mouth turned up slightly and she responded, "I know."

He looked at her intensely, clearly afraid to move lest he cause her more pain. "Hermione?" he asked, too hesitant to articulate out the question he so desperately wanted to ask.

"There has only been one other, Ron." She watched as his features registered surprise, possessiveness and pride all at once. She had dated a number of fellows but surely he could conclude who her only other lover had been.

His brows furrowed. Obviously he had made the connection. Spencer Ryan had been her supervisor at the Ministry when she first accepted her position fresh from Hogwarts. Ron had disliked Spencer from the beginning, labeling him an opportunist and a shady bloke, at best. After a lovely four month courtship, Hermione had let herself believe that Spencer was right for her and that she wouldn't regret offering him the one thing she could never take back.

Unfortunately, Ron had been right. She slept with Spencer twice, only to be discarded in favor of a younger, more attractive witch on the staff within a week. When she confronted him, he explained the casual nature of his interest and made her feel like a fool for thinking they shared something more. As angry as she was with him, she blamed herself for being stupid and falling into a trap as old as time. She told herself that she deserved what she got for being naïve, but her self directed insults could not keep the tears of inadequacy from falling. And it had been Ron who had been there to put the pieces of her broken pride back together.

When Spencer arrived to work a week after dismissing her with a bruised cheekbone and a black eye, she knew who was responsible for his garish purple hue. She wished she could have been angry with Ron for such an overt display of testosterone induced protectiveness, but she wasn't. The wicked part of her was happy to see the beautiful face of her former lover marred by a swelled purple knot, and even happier to know she had a friend that cared about her so much.

So instead, she never addressed it. And while she recovered from heartache, Ron made her home cooked meals, dragged her to the Burrow for evenings with his family and, on several occasions, babysat her as she drank herself into a stupor. Thanks to Ron, it had only taken her a few short weeks to recover from the blow Spencer delivered to her ego and even less time to realize what a dear friend she had at her side.

Again, here he was, her gallant protector; embedded deeply inside of her, making her whole in an entirely different way.

Feeling somewhat more comfortable with him sheathed inside of her, she brought her hands up to trace along his muscular arms. She raised her knees slightly along his sides, allowing him to sink further inside of her. She watched as his eyes clouded over, a low sound emitted from the back of his throat.

As the seconds ticked by, she looked at him curiously. Now, his eyes were closed tightly in concentration. She tilted her head up, bringing her mouth to the side of his face. She trailed her tongue around the curve of his ear and pulled the lobe into her mouth, sucking on it gently.

"Fuck, 'Mione," he hissed in response. He pulled his hips away from her briefly before sinking back in.

Ron pulled himself away from her, enough to reach her breasts with his mouth. He outlined her nipple with his tongue as he continued to slide back and forth inside of her. She arched against him, marveling at the responses he was eliciting from her body.

Merlin, this is incredible, she thought as he repeated his motions slowly. Certainly, she wasn't experienced, but her previous encounters with Spencer felt nothing like this. With Ron, it felt elemental . . . right. She sank her nails into his arms.

He increased his pace slightly, returning his lips to hers. He placed one arm along the side of her head, tangling his fingers in her hair as he kissed her. He used the other to hitch her leg higher against him, exposing her most sensitive place to the friction created by his motions.

She gasped when he sank inside of her, caught off guard by the sensation the altered position created. Realizing his accomplishment, his next thrusts were deeper and harder. Hermione moaned and her fingernails sank deeper into his flesh.

"You feel . . . ," he started in a strangled tone. "You're so tight and so wet . . . so wet for me," he said as if he could hardly believe the truth of his words.

Over and over again, he buried himself inside of her. She felt the telltale tingle as he consciously brushed his body against her. Again, his lips trailed to her breasts. He flicked one of her nipples with his tongue before nipping at it. She cried out and buried her fingers in his hair.

"More," she pleaded.

He increased his pace and hitched her thigh higher against his. His lips trailed up from her chest back to the soft skin of her neck. He sucked on the freckled skin of her collar bone. She was so close. The fingers tangled in her hair tightened their grip as he whispered hotly in her ear, "Come for me, Mione."

He plunged into her a final time before her composure shattered. She felt her body clamp around him, instinctually pulling him deeper inside of her. Gradually, her breathing began to slow as she relished in the delicious aftermath.

He allowed her a few moments to recover, appearing as if he needed a few moments himself. He stilled his movements, allowing both of them to catch their breath. Once composed, he trailed kisses across her damp forehead and delivered one specially to the tip of her nose. Finally, she opened her eyes and tightened her grip on his arms, indicating that he should continue.

At first his pace was moderate, but it was clear that his body was burning for release. His thrusts quickened and she wondered briefly whether she would ever again feel complete without him inside of her. Without realizing the effect it would have on him, she clenched her body around him.

"Gods . . ." he rasped after releasing a moan. "It's never felt like this," he confessed, more to some higher being than to her specifically. He pushed himself up on his elbows and rotated his hips as he continued to bury himself inside of her.

"Tell me, 'Mione," he asked as he withdrew, ". . . please tell me it's never been this good before." He sank back into her.

"No," she sighed truthfully, looking into his eyes. "Never," she finished, hardly able to concentrate enough to formulate the words. He eased down on top of her. She felt him reach for her hands and bring them to rest on the cushion above her head. He laced his fingers through hers and held her hands tightly.

She tightened herself around him again, matching her movements with his thrusts. "Bloody hell," he murmured as he buried his face in her neck. She felt, rather than heard, him whisper promises and prayers into her soft skin.

She heard his breathing hitch and felt his thrusts take on a desperate pace. As she felt him approach the brink, she tightened herself around him and murmured into the crook of his shoulder, "Only you, Ron."

His muscles stiffened and she felt him seize inside of her. He murmured her name as she felt warmth exploding within her. She kissed his shoulders, appreciating their slightly salty taste, as his body pulsed with release.

Once somewhat recovered, he pulled his head up from the nest of hair that surrounded it. He took her face in between his large hands and delivered another sound kiss to her lips. He pulled away and stroked her cheek tenderly for a few moments before the desire in his eyes was dimmed by the twinkling of unspoken mischief.

"Oh, here is comes," she joked softly. "So what was that you said about well chosen words and sultry tone, Miss Hermione?" she mimicked him.

He pretended to be taken aback, "Hermione, I wouldn't say such a thing. Come now, have I ever been one to prove you wrong?" His eyes were infused with humor.

"So what happens tomorrow?" she asked after rolling her eyes at his sarcastic response. She was surprised by the confidence in her tone. In films, this question was always posed with hesitancy.

"Tomorrow," he began as he eased onto his back, pulling her on top of his warm chest. "I will rise early to bring you breakfast in bed. Warm scones with marmalade, to be precise" he offered, knowing full well it was her favorite.

"That sounds lovely," she murmured sleepily into his chest.

"And then, immediately following breakfast, I will resume my newest, and most favorite pastime.

She arched an eyebrow at him curiously.

"Not sharing Hermione Granger."