Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Duh.
Author's Note: Well here it is, kids: my first post-HBP fic. This takes place just after Harry downs the Felix Felicis to go interrogate Slughorn, when Lavender finds Ron and Hermione coming down the stairs of the boys dormitory. Right, so…on with the show.
Ron Weasley was a free man. No chorus of "Won-won" danced in his ears any longer; no high pitched giggles haunted him. Lavender had broken it off with him. He was free.
Admittedly, he felt a bit guilty for making Lavender think he had been cheating on her with Hermione. Then he felt even more guilty because the idea of doing something like that with Hermione was very appealing. But it was impossible. He had messed up everything with Hermione and he knew he had hurt her. He wished more than anything that he could talk to her about the past couple of months, to explain his behavior, to make her see that Lavender meant nothing to him….
He found himself traipsing through the castle corridors with his hands deep in his pockets, lost in thought. Harry had run off to Hagrid's and Hermione had disappeared the moment Lavender started yelling at Ron. He wanted to find her, to see what her reaction would be when she learned that he was single again.
His wanderings led him out onto the grounds. The fresh air caressed his face and he breathed in the scent of Hogwarts' lawn, feeling like a new person. Letting his feet guide him, he made his way down to the distant Quidditch pitch, still mulling over his break-up with Lavender. He saw a light on in Hagrid's cabin and wondered if Harry really was in there, or if he had managed to corner Professor Slughorn.
In no time at all he was climbing up the steps of the Quidditch stadium, his feet echoing on the metal. He chose a seat at the bottom of the stands and stared out over the pitch, watching the gradual sunset. How long he sat there he didn't know, but soon enough darkness enveloped the field and he knew he had to be starting back to the castle soon. If he was caught out of bounds, he would surely be in trouble; however, he didn't care very much at the moment. He leaned backwards on the seat and closed his eyes, thinking about nothing in particular except that he no longer had to put up with Lavender.
He jerked upward at the sound of feet on metal. Someone was climbing up the stands toward him. He squinted in the darkness and saw the outline of a girl making her way to him. At first he was worried that it was Lavender, but then a warm sensation filled his chest as he realized it was Hermione.
"Hi," she said, breathing a bit heavily as she seated herself next to him.
"Hi," he replied genially. "What are you doing down here?"
"Ginny told me what happened." She held up a Chocolate Frog and shoved it into his hand. "I thought you could use a Frog. And a friend."
"Thanks," he said, smiling slightly and feeling the texture of the candy wrapper in his palm. His smile fell after a moment. "You didn't have to come," he said. "You might get in trouble."
"That's alright," she said with a shrug.
"You're unbelievable, Hermione."
She looked quizzically at him.
Ron opened his mouth, closed it, and then said, "I can't believe you came to comfort me…after what I did to you. I know I hurt you a lot."
Hermione took a deep breath and looked out into the stadium. "Yes, you did," she admitted.
"I'm sorry," Ron said earnestly.
"No, you really hurt me," she said, her voice cracking a little. "We had that talk…in Herbology…about Slughorn's party, and I thought maybe things were moving in the right direction. But the next thing I knew, you weren't talking to me, and I didn't understand why, and then all of a sudden you were snogging Lavender, as if I didn't exist."
Ron's ears burned while she talked. He felt ashamed, furious with himself for hurting her.
"What was that all about?" Hermione demanded, with the air of someone who had rehearsed this question in their head several times.
"I…" Ron didn't know where to start. "I thought things were moving in the right direction too," he said. "But then…Ginny let something slip about you snogging Krum, and I reckon I lost it a bit and just…let jealousy get the best of me."
Hermione blushed a bit but then said determinedly, "You were angry with me because of something that happened two years ago?"
"I know it sounds stupid—" Ron started.
"Yes, it is stupid!" Hermione exclaimed. "That was two years ago, Ron! Things are entirely different now!"
"Well, it still hurt to find that out! Why didn't you ever tell me about that? Why did you kiss him in the first place?"
"Well, it's not as if you were paying attention to me at that time. You didn't even realize I was a girl until after Viktor asked me to the Yule Ball!"
Ron was at a loss for what to say. Hermione was looking fiercely at him, the indignation and hurt apparent in her rich brown eyes.
"I'm sorry," he repeated lamely.
"It's alright," Hermione said with a deep breath. "I just thought you had finally come around this year, and then you went off and—" she gesticulated wildly into the night air, indicating his behavior with Lavender.
"I never liked her," Ron admitted.
"Of course you did," Hermione said disdainfully. "You couldn't keep your hands off her."
Ron chose to ignore this last remark. "I didn't like her," he repeated firmly. "I just liked the attention she gave me. I knew you and Harry had both had some action, and I wanted to get some myself."
"It's not about action, Ron—"
"Yeah, I know that now, thanks," he snapped.
They lapsed into a huffy silence. Hermione was staring out over the grounds with her chin in her hand, one leg propped up on the seat in front of her. Ron sat with his arms crossed over his knees, also staring moodily into space.
After several minutes his anger started to ebb away and he felt remorseful for upsetting his friend. "Look, Hermione," he began, "if it means anything, I really appreciate you coming down to find me. And thanks for the Frog, too."
She turned to look at him. "You're welcome," she said stiffly.
"And…" Ron fidgeted. "And I'm really glad we're friends again. I missed you a lot when you weren't speaking to me."
Hermione's cold resolve seemed to melt away. "I missed you too," she said softly. She reached for his hand and took it in her own, smiling as she did so.
"Do you still feel the same way…as when we had that talk in Herbology?" Ron asked.
"That's a stupid question."
Ron grinned. "I'm not as smart as you."
"True." She smiled.
"Can I tell you something?" Ron asked.
"Of course you can."
"I've been thinking a lot lately. About you, and me, and Lavender—"
"I'm not into threesomes," Hermione said with a straight face.
Ron snorted. Hermione grinned and started cracking up. "Sorry," she said. "Go on."
"Yeah, as I was saying…well, I thought a lot about relationships. About the different types, and the different aspects of them…and I realized that Lavender and I never had anything. I was just curious and eager to try all that physical stuff…"
Hermione smirked. "I understand."
"Right," said Ron. "Well…the thing is…before all this, I was afraid to try anything with you. I'm not sure why. I reckon I was afraid, and inexperienced…but now I feel like I know a lot more. And I understand that part of having a relationship is the emotional commitment, and being willing to take the good with the bad, and recognizing the other person's attributes. It's a bit like my friendships with you and Harry. Harry can be really edgy and stubborn and even cocky sometimes, and I know that about him, but I still…er…care about him anyway, because he's loyal, and funny, and he cares about the right things. And you. You can be so overbearing and annoying as hell. You drive me up the wall and cause me to row like no one else. And yet, I realize that you have so many good qualities that outweigh your bad…like, you know, you look out for people and are probably the most kind-hearted person I know. You're incredibly brilliant and always there when Harry or I need you. So basically, Hermione, I've decided that truly caring about someone means being able to recognize their faults but still loving them anyway. I didn't have that with Lavender. I didn't see any of her bad qualities. I reckon I was just infatuated with her. But when that infatuation started to fade, I realized we didn't even have anything in common. I could never feel about her the way I feel about you"—Hermione looked intently at him as he said this—"so really, I've had more of a relationship with you all this time. I"—he paused—"I have loved you as a best friend for six years. And, well, I've realized that I now want to try and love you as more than a best friend. You know, if you'll let me."
He licked his lips and stared nervously at his trainers, his face heating up by the second. Hermione was sitting very still, assessing his words and their meaning. He chanced a glance up at her. Her eyes were a bit wet but she looked very happy. Squeezing his hand, she asked, "Do you really think I'm annoying as hell?"
He stared incredulously at her. "I pour my heart out to you and that's all you have to say?" he teased.
She laughed. "Oh, shut up. You know I loved that."
Ron beamed, seeming very proud of himself. "Well?" he asked.
"Well," said Hermione. "I suppose I feel the same way about you. Have for quite some time, actually."
"You don't say."
Hermione smiled and bumped her knee against his. "So are you going to eat that Chocolate Frog, or did I take a trip up to my dormitory for nothing?"
Ron unwrapped the chocolate, broke off a piece, and handed it to her. "Thanks," she said, taking it and biting the frog's head off.
"No problem," said Ron, stuffing his own face.
"So did Lavender give you an earful?" Hermione asked conversationally.
"Urgh," said Ron, shaking his head. "She was awful. I just wanted to Silencio her or something."
"At least you didn't have to break it off with her, though," Hermione pointed out.
"That's true," said Ron.
"She was such a pain in our dormitory, always going on and on about Ronnie-this and Ronnie-that, it made me sick."
Ron laughed appreciatively. "Yeah, can't say I'll miss the nicknames…."
"So if I started calling you 'Won-won'—"
"—I would be forced to call you 'Herm-own-ninny,'" Ron finished.
Hermione snorted. "Let's just stick with Ron and Hermione."
"Deal," said Ron, swallowing the last of his frog. "So umm…" he tried to make his voice sound off-hand. "So…is Krum a good kisser?"
Hermione looked taken aback at his question. "Why on earth would you ask me something like that?"
Ron shrugged, feeling embarrassed. He mumbled something about "just wondering."
"More like, 'just jealous,'" Hermione said mischievously.
Ron stared at her. "I am not!"
"Yes you are, you already admitted that."
"I said I was jealous—" Ron said defensively.
"Okay," said Hermione, obviously amused at his indignation. "I just wanted to clarify that you have no need to be jealous of him anymore."
Ron looked very cheerful indeed, although he tried to downplay it. He gazed happily at his best friend, taking in the cute mess of her frizzy ponytail and the outline of her mouth. In fact, he couldn't stop looking at her rosebud lips. But with a significant effort, he raised his gaze and found himself staring into her eyes.
Hermione was looking at him very intently, as though daring to see what he did next. Her expression posed a challenge, one that clearly said, Are you finally going to follow through? But her eyes were also kind, and slightly afraid, and entirely focused on him and him alone. Ron realized vaguely that he had imagined this scene countless times, and here it was, spread out before him, just waiting for him to do something.
He gently and carefully raised his hand to Hermione's face, settling it along her jaw line, just below her right ear. He let his eyes roam her face, studying her in the darkness. She smiled and his hand could feel her cheekbones moving slightly.
"Hey, you want to know something I know that you don't?" Ron asked her.
Hermione looked skeptical. "What's that?"
"You're very pretty. Beautiful, I reckon."
Her cheeks grew warm at his compliment and she smiled, if possible, even more.
"Would you mind very much if I just snogged you senseless, right here, right now?"
Hermione pretended to consider the matter. "Well," she said with a dramatic sigh, "I suppose I could let you do that. I mean I've only waited about…4 or 5 years."
"Well then I suppose we should make up for lost time," Ron said, with the air of a scholar.
He smiled and lowered his mouth to hers, turning his head slightly so that he wouldn't bump her delicate nose. Their lips met in a tender, eager, much-awaited kiss, and Ron suddenly felt inexplicably whole. He smiled as their lips met again, this time in a fiercer, deeper kiss. Hermione leaned further towards him, placing her hand on the back of his neck as she fervently explored his mouth. Her enthusiasm surprised him in only the way that she could. Ron couldn't help but laugh.
"What?" Hermione asked, breaking their contact and panting slightly.
"Nothing, it's just...you just amaze me," he said, staring at her with a mixture of wonder and amusement. "I wouldn't think such a smart, studious girl could be so feisty."
Hermione closed her eyes and laughed appreciatively. "I think you did know, deep down," she joked.
Ron thought about it. An image of Hermione slapping Draco Malfoy came into his mind's eye. "You're right," he decided. "I did."
He kissed her again. Their bodies were entangled for several minutes before Hermione gently pushed him away.
"Alright," she said, "That's enough for now. We need to go to bed."
"Aww come on 'Mione, it was just getting good!"
She gave him a reproachful look that clearly said Shut up or I'll stupefy you and Ron grudgingly pulled his arms away from her waist. He stood up and pulled her to her feet, not letting go of her hand as they made their way down the stands and up to the castle.
"Oh, and by the way," Hermione said casually as they walked, "to answer your question, Viktor was an awful kisser. You're much better."
Ron sniggered and fought the urge to jump in the air.
-:-Review, pretty please? I start school in 4 days. I need something to make me happy-:-