Ron and Hermione: Missing Moments
(Note: Opening dialogue is credited to J.K. Rowling and appears in HBP)
'This is Felix Felicis, I suppose?' said Hermione, studying the bottle of potion. 'You haven't got another little bottle full of—I don't know—'
'Essence of Insanity?' Ron finished, still gawping at Harry.
It's finally happened. Harry's cracked. He's gone barmy. Going to Aragog's funeral?
'Trust me,' Harry was saying, beaming in very confident way. 'I know what I'm doing…or at least…Felix does.' He was already throwing the Invisibility Cloak over himself.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a second glance and raced after Harry, hurrying down the dormitory steps. They were just through the door when…
'What were you doing up there with her?'
Lavender's screech seemed to freeze Ron's feet on the spot. He glanced longingly at the portrait hole, and then glanced at Hermione out of the corner of his eye, who seemed to have frozen in place as well.
'Er…' Ron began.
'I'll just...' Hermione started.
'I didn't push you, okay?' said another voice, and for once Ron was relieved to see Ginny and Dean together as they entered the common room. He didn't even really notice they seemed to be annoyed with each other.
'Well, something did,' Ginny huffed. 'And if it wasn't you—oh. Er…hi.'
And now Ginny and Dean seemed to have become immobile. For one long agonizing moment, everyone in the room stood stock still, only their eyes darting around at one another. Ron caught Ginny's glance and sent a silent plea her way, but Ginny suddenly smirked.
'Well,' she said, a bit loudly, 'I'm turning in. G'night.' She didn't pause to kiss Dean good-night, but instead marched up the girls' stairs.
Dean watched her go, looking disgruntled. 'Fine,' he muttered. 'Me, too.'
'I think I'll go as well,' Hermione said quickly, and Ron shot her a desperate look.
Don't leave me!
But Hermione shook her head quickly, and Ron knew he was stuck. There was no getting out of it this time; he couldn't very well hide himself behind Hermione now. She favored him with a sheepish, encouraging sort of smile before she, too, hurried up the girls' staircase. Ron watched her go.
'RON!' Lavender screamed.
'What? What?' Ron said, forcing himself to look at Lavender, whose face was scarlet.
'I asked you a question!' she hissed, and she stalked up to him. 'What were you doing up there with Hermione Granger?'
'Talking,' Ron mumbled.
'Talking,' Lavender spat. 'Talking? About what?'
Well, it wasn't a total lie, anyway: they had been talking about Harry's homework assignment from Dumbledore.
'Homework?' Lavender repeated.
'Yeah, homework,' Ron said quickly. 'You know Hermione.'
'Oh yes, Ronald, I know Hermione,' Lavender seethed. 'I know she's been all cozy with you ever since you got poisoned and I know she knew about it before I did and I know she'd just love to steal you from me!'
'Huh?' said Ron.
'I'm not stupid, Ron, I know what she's up to!' Lavender snarled. 'Spending all sorts of time with you and helping you with homework and acting all sweet all of a sudden. She couldn't even look at you before and now you two are best friends? Don't think I don't know what she's been doing, trying to be all sweet to you so she can have you for herself!'
'Oh, give it a rest!' Lavender shrieked, and tears filled her eyes. 'I've seen you, you're always spending time with her, you never spend time with me anymore, you never wore my necklace...'
At this point, Ron found himself tuning out, and Lavender's loud yelling becoming a blur. It wasn't fun, hearing her yell, but really, it wasn't all that different than getting yelled at by Mum, although Lavender was giving Mum a run for her money in the volume department.
'…and if you think I'm going to keep being your girlfriend when you're messing about with Hermione Granger you're sadly mistaken, Ron Weasley! If you don't stop hanging out with her this instant we are done!'
Ron waited for her to say more, but she seemed to have finished her hollering, and stood there panting angrily. Ron realized he hadn't listened to a word she'd said these past few minutes.
'Well?' she said again.
'OH! YOU WEREN'T EVEN LISTENING? You…you…WE'RE THROUGH! And don't come begging to take you back because I won't!'
And Lavender hurled herself—rather dramatically, he thought—out of the room and up the girls' staircase, bawling loudly all the way.
Ron realized he wasn't sorry. Well, he felt a little bad that Lavender had been that upset, and his ears were buzzing from her raving, but on the whole, he was terribly relieved. Finally, it was over, and he hadn't had to end it after all. He was sure Hermione would take the mickey out of him something fierce for not ending things himself…
He flopped down onto the sofa, his thoughts turning to her. His lips curled into a smile. She'd be happy about this, for sure. She'd only been waiting for him and Lavender to break up for a month now. He smiled wider as he hopefully imagined Hermione's possible reactions, but in every single imagining it ended with her throwing herself at him and snogging him stupid.
The thought of snogging dampened his spirits suddenly. He knew he couldn't count on snogging Hermione right away just because Lavender was out of the picture. She'd wanted to take things slow, and that's exactly what they were doing: proceeding slowly.
Glacially, more like, Ron thought glumly.
He wondered if she understood how she drove him mad, how hard it was for him to control himself now he knew she fancied him back. For it was difficult: as much as Ron was determined to be an absolute gentleman, to treat Hermione with the care and respect she deserved, to be a good…what, boyfriend? partner? lover? to her…
Ron swallowed. That was the problem. The whole love thing, which didn't just include all those noble, proper feelings Ron had for Hermione, but downright wicked ones as well. He hadn't been able to get a hold of anymore Patented Daydream Charms from Fred and George, of course—even with their many clever ways of sneaking products past Filch, Ron couldn't possibly afford any more of them—but that hadn't stopped him from having plenty of daydreams, nearly all of the involving Hermione in some state of undress. Needless to say, Ron's wanking schedule had become very busy these days.
Now, though, he and Lavender were finished, and Ron couldn't help but wonder what significance that held for Hermione. Would she still want to take things slow and remain friends and not let him even kiss her?
Ron wasn't sure he could stand it if she did. The one consolation was that Hermione had thus far struggled almost as much to restrain herself as he had.
He grinned. Well, that was something, anyway. She wanted him to kiss her but she was being all proper. Maybe now, now he was free, officially speaking…
He turned around and felt his heart leap into his throat. She was in her dressing gown and slippers and her hair was all over the place, framing her face and falling past her shoulders, and it was beautiful and he wanted to touch it again, like he had in the hospital wing.
'Hi,' he managed.
'Are you okay?' she asked, her eyes briefly darting to the girls' staircase. She then walked over to him and sat down in the chair diagonal to his. 'Lavender was…she was sort of hysterical when she came up and I thought…well…I wondered if she might have done something rash.'
'You mean like set a flock of psychotic canaries on me?' Ron joked.
Hermione blushed and she pressed her lips together, trying not to smile.
'Something like that.'
'Nah,' said Ron, shrugging. 'She just yelled a lot. She put Mum to shame, actually. I'm surprised she didn't wake up the whole castle. She didn't, you know, give you any grief, did she?'
'I pretended to be asleep,' said Hermione. 'And when she came in Parvati took her to the loo to calm her down. I just managed to slip out. I wanted to…to check on you.'
'I'm fine,' said Ron. 'My ears are still ringing a bit, but that's it.'
Hermione giggled for a moment, and then silence fell over them. He gazed at her, at the way the firelight did tricks with her hair, making it glisten all golden brown. She gazed back at him but suddenly grew shy and looked down at her hands. He saw a lovely flush creep over her cheeks, her neck, her chest…his heart sped up. He knew he was staring, but he couldn't quite drag his eyes away from that part of her, from the hollow at the base of her throat, where he could see her pulse thrumming delicately, to the inch of collarbone showing beneath her dressing gown, to the slope of her chest, the shadow of cleavage just barely visible…
He forced his eyes away. It wouldn't do to gawp at her like that. She might be offended, and anyway, that wasn't the reason he wanted her. Well, not the only reason. His eyes skipped to her chest again and he saw a few freckles there, dusting her skin. He was overcome with the sudden, irresistible urge to brush his lips over that place; the mere notion made him feel hot, made him glad he was sitting down…
Hermione took a sharp breath and looked up at him, sitting ramrod straight in her chair.
'Well,' she said, 'I think we should go to bed.'
Ron's eyes widened and she seemed to realize what she had just said. She paled. Ron swallowed and cast about for something to say.
'That's a bit sudden, don't you think? Lavender and I just broke up.'
Hermione stared at him in open-mouthed horror for a moment, and then to his surprise and relief, she burst out laughing, her face reddening again. Ron laughed, too.
'I can't believe I said that!' she giggled, holding her sides.
'I think I'm rubbing off on you,' said Ron, arching his eyebrows suggestively, thoroughly enjoying himself. Flirting was brilliant, he thought.
No, flirting with Hermione is brilliant.
'Ron!' she said, looking scandalized. 'Nothing of you is rubbing off on me, I'll have you know.'
'Damn,' Ron muttered, shrugging, and he smiled at her, and she smiled back, and they were looking at each other, Ron was caught in the pull of her eyes. He leaned forward slightly, his gaze sliding to her lips, which were parted just so…
'I should turn in,' Hermione said suddenly. 'You're sure you're all right? You're not, you know, upset or anything?'
'What?' said Ron, blinking, remembering himself. 'No. I'm not upset. Are you kidding. I'm relieved. Really,' he added, for emphasis, begging with his eyes for her not to go just yet, not without something…
'Well, good,' said Hermione, looking very nervous again. 'Good night…'
She leaned forward and gave him a very fast hug, and then moved to kiss him on the cheek…
Ron took a chance and turned his face, but she didn't quite get there; her lips brushed the outer corner of his mouth.
She froze. Any second she would flee, Ron wouldn't be able to stand it if she fled…
He turned just a little more and brushed his lips against hers. She shuddered, but then, so did he, because it was like lightning filling his body. Just that single, simple brush of lips against lips, and his whole body seemed to catch fire. He kissed her lightly again, just a feather-soft caress of lips, and he heard her sigh in her throat, and he felt a rush of triumph. He wondered if he dared go further, kiss her deeper…
She pulled back, and he suppressed a whimper. He was half-tempted to kiss her again, to kiss her hard and deep, but he didn't. Restraint…yes, restraint was needed. Because kissing her hard and deep would make him want more, to want other things that she would not be ready for yet.
She backed away, looking a bit dizzy and very, very flushed. Her lips were tinted pink, just from that one gentle, amazing kiss. She was looking at him in something like wonder.
'Sorry,' Ron said stupidly, because he suddenly wondered if maybe he should apologize for his presumption.
'Don't apologize,' she whispered. 'That was lovely.' Her voice was different…it was a bit breathy, a bit husky, and Ron suddenly knew he wanted to find a way to make her talk in that voice every single day.
'I…Hermione…do we have to…can we…'
Well, that's eloquent.
'Are we…' Ron tried again.
'Yes,' she said. 'But…slow.'
'I mean, well…like before.'
'I can kiss you though, right?' Ron asked.
'Well…yes, but…but not too often…'
'Oh.' He looked down glumly.
'I don't think we should lose our heads, is all,' Hermione explained.
He smirked at her. 'Are you saying if you kiss me you're in danger of losing your head?'
She narrowed her eyes defiantly. 'And what if I am?'
'I'd say "good",' said Ron smugly.
She shook her head at him. 'Prat.' She ruffled his hair affectionately, but then grew serious again. 'Really, Ron, it's not that I don't want to, it's just…'
'I know,' said Ron at once. He didn't want her to be uncertain; he needed very badly to reassure her, to let her know he would not push her, even if he did get frustrated.
'It's just…things are going really well for us…'
'You don't have to explain, Hermione,' said Ron.
She opened her mouth to speak but then stopped, and smiled at him again, putting a hand on his face. He decided he really liked it when she did that. He leaned into her hand for a moment, and took her other in his own, enjoying this peace and quiet with her.
She eventually lowered her hand from his face.
'We shouldn't…let's not broadcast anything, all right?'
'For Lavender's sake, mainly,' said Hermione. 'I…I wouldn't want her to feel…you know.'
The way you felt when you saw me snogging her.
'Right,' Ron mumbled, but then Hermione took his hand and smiled at him.
'It's okay,' she assured him. 'We're past all that.'
He nodded, but deep inside, it would never fully be okay with him. He would never really forgive himself completely for having hurt her, for having wasted time with Lavender.
He wanted to apologize to Hermione again, but she stood up. Still holding his hand, she smiled shyly at him, and he got up and walked with her to the staircases. His pulse was going a million miles and he was very glad his robes were billowy enough to hide the evidence of her effect on him.
'Well…good night,' she said, smiling up at him. She tilted her head just so, and Ron took the invitation, again kissing her very softly, very lightly. The kiss was technically chaste and over in a matter of a few seconds, but it was just as thrilling as the first, and Ron knew he'd be giving the Little Soldier a workout.
'Good night,' he murmured, pulling back from her and smiling, he was sure, in a very glazed sort of way.
'Good night,' she said again, also glassy-eyed, as she backed up towards the girls' staircase. They stared at each other until she had closed the door behind her and vanished up the girls' stairs. He stood there for a while, pondering in bleary happiness how things had changed and how things were going. Slow, he could manage. Slow was still progress, and progress was a very good thing.
Eventually Ron, still grinning, dragged himself upstairs, and hoped he hadn't been so turned upside down by kissing Hermione twice that he forgot how to do a proper Imperturbable Charm.