Disclaimer: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts the wizarding world are my creation; they belong to the wonderful Ms. Jo Rowling.
The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love is an absolutely adorable book. I recommend it to all the hopeless romantics out there.
"No one is perfect, but sometimes people are perfect for each other." –The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of LoveShe's perfect, Ron thought as he twirled the spoon in his mug of hot cocoa absently. He stared down the cozy, wooden bar at the Three Broomsticks. The popular Hogsmeade pub was crowded with Hogwarts' sixth years. Having just completed their Apparition tests, the students were either celebrating receiving their Licenses, or were drinking away their failure in cocoa or a Butterbeer.
He was, Ron noted, part of the small group staring morosely into their drinks, brooding rather than joining in the lively conversations. It was a chance to let his mind wander wherever it fancied.
So of course, it chose to wander to Hermione.
She was perfect. He'd known her for six years, and besides studying a bit too much occasionally, there was NOTHING wrong with her. Sure, she was different and unique, but that just made her all the more special to him. She was her own—independent—person, and that was just fine for her, even if others belittled her. Because for Hermione, being content with herself and her life was what truly mattered. Ron wished that he could be more like her—being content with who he was, his life. But no matter how hard he tried, he would never be good enough.
He would never be good enough for Hermione.
"And Merlin knows that's all I've ever wanted," he muttered out loud.
Ever since they had met, he and Hermione had clashed. Not always in a bad way, he had to admit. Over the years, he'd come to rather enjoy their rows. They liked teasing and baiting each other, challenging the other, just to see what would happen.
That was what he enjoyed the most. Challenging Hermione Granger. He'd become an expert at it since—well, since the beginning. Her quick and brilliant mind was always up for the test, and he loved her all the more for it.
Yes, loved. He was in love with Hermione. Had been for quite some time, if he was being perfectly honest. It was the firm, everlasting kind of love. Something that, in Ron's mind, would always be there.
Too bad he didn't seem to be good enough. Though that wasn't to say he hadn't tried. All he'd ever done since realizing he'd wanted Hermione to be more than a friend was try to be…better. Quidditch (despite the fact that he did truly adore the sport) was supposed to get him attention—Hermione always came to the matches to support Harry.
Ron heaved a sigh as he glanced up from his drink, attempting to bring himself out his melancholy thoughts. This thinking constantly about Hermione HAD to stop. He was with Lavender now, after all. "One more bloody thing I did because of Hermione."
"What?" Hermione's voice popped up out of nowhere. Ron jumped as she settled down next to him.
"Bloody hell, Hermione! You should at least warn a bloke before popping up like that."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "And you," she said, poking him in the shoulder, "Need to learn how to respond when someone is calling your name repeatedly. What you were thinking about?"
Ron blushed as he thought about what Hermione would say if he told her what exactly he had been thinking about. He opened his mouth to say "nothing much," but what came out instead was: "You're perfect, Hermione."
Hermione's eyes widened into chocolate saucers, and Ron mentally hit himself. "I mean… I don't know what I mean." He smiled weakly at her. "I mean, well, you are, Hermione. Perfect, that is."
She seemed to be recovering from the initial shock, waving her hand in the air dismissively. "No one is perfect, Ron. The world wouldn't be as interesting if people were."
"Yeah, well, then you're about as bloody close as anyone can get. You Apparated more quickly and cleanly than anybody else I watched, for Merlin's sake! And—and school…I doubt you've ever done something less than almost perfectly." Ron sighed. "I wish that I…" he said, but stopped quickly, blushing. He hoped that Hermione would just let that last comment go, and carry on the conversation with another topic.
"…Ron, is something bothering you?" she asked bluntly.
He grimaced. No such luck, naturally. He stared back at her unblinkingly. "Um, well, other than the fact that I just messed up my test…no, Hermione, nothing's bothering me."
Hermione's gaze melted just a bit and she reached over and laid a hand on Ron's arm. "Oh, Ron, please don't beat yourself up over that. If you ask me, I really don't think it should have mattered. Half an eyebrow? Why, I bet that other students here left a whole eyebrow; their examiners just didn't catch it. Rotten luck, right?"
Ron turned away from her, gazing back into his cocoa mug. "You don't get it, Hermione. It's not the examiner's fault I didn't know what I was doing out there."
"Ron, it was half an eyebrow! That means that other than that, you were perfect!" Hermione insisted.
Ron cringed at the use of the word perfect. "Don't call me perfect," he muttered sadly, "I'm nowhere it."
Hermione was shaking her head before he'd even finished the sentence. Grabbing his hand, she determinedly dragged him off the bar stool, out of the Three Broomsticks, and into the crisp spring air. She marched him outside and began walking down the cobblestone street of Hogsmeade, Ron following, but having no idea as to their destination.
After a few moments, she stopped and looked at him. "I think it was the pub air," she said calmly, as if dragging one's seventeen-year-old best friend by the hand like a small child was completely normal. "It was giving you all sorts of rubbish ideas."
I'm rubbish, was all Ron could think, but Hermione blazed on, not giving him time to settle back into his depression. "Honestly, Ron, I think you're being silly. You're all worked up over half an eyebrow."
"Hermione, you don't understand! This—this was just one more thing…one more reason." He lifted his shoulders in a hopeless shrug.
"One more reason for what?" she asked exasperatedly.
Ron's cheeks were faintly pink, darkening by the second. Hermione KNEW how much he hated talking about his feelings, but here she was, practically forcing the truth out of him. It was times like these where he (although never seriously) sometimes thought he'd have been better off if Hermione had carried on not speaking to him.
Rather than answer her right away, he began walking again, absently kicking a small stone down the street as they made their way past the colorful shops and stalls, before finally stopping next to a small brick building with tables and chairs next to it. Ron collapsed into one of the chairs and Hermione followed, a bit slower and unsure.
"Ron, what's wrong?" she asked again softly. Her eyes bore into his steadily. "Please tell me. I—I'm your friend, right? I want to know what's bothering you."
It was her sweet, serious voice sounding so concerned, that did it. Ron found himself pouring out his earlier thoughts. "It's just that—that I'm never going to be good enough. I try so hard sometimes—and believe me, I do, Hermione. But…nothing every seems to ruddy work for me, does it?"
His voice had been gradually increasing in volume and by the end of his tirade, Hermione had shrunk back just a bit, as if afraid of this sudden burst of temper. Great, we're finally speaking again and now she's afraid of me.
"Hermione, I'm sorry, I just—"
"You're so special, Ron," she broke in and Ron's mouth snapped shut, his eyes almost jumping out of their sockets. Hermione was looking earnestly at him.
"I, er…" he stammered nervously, red creeping up his cheeks.
"I mean it. Ron, how can you say that nothing ever works out for you? Sure, you didn't pass this time—you're hardly the only wizard who hasn't passed their Apparition exam their first time. You can have another go…Harry will be happy to have you test with him, I'm sure. It's not the end of the world."
"I KNOW, Hermione, do you think I haven't thought about that. I know that I can take the test again. It's—it's the fact I failed! Once again, Ron Weasley, sidekick extraordinaire, can't do something right. Why, Hermione? Why can't I be good enough?"
As Ron yelled—more seriously than Hermione had ever heard him—comprehension was slowly dawning on her. "It's just that…you're perfect, Hermione," he continued more quietly. "You're so bloody perfect that you make me feel…I try so hard, but every time I mess up my homework, or ask you for help and you roll your eyes, I feel like…like a—a failure." The last word ended on a sigh and Ron lapsed into silence.
Hermione sat back in her chair, the words slowly sinking in. Ron felt like a failure? He felt horrible every time something didn't work out perfectly for him? I had no idea. How did I miss something like this, something that was right in front of my face?
She slowly reached over and laid a hand on his arm. There was still something that hadn't told her, at least, not clearly. "Ron, what are you saying? Why do you try so hard?"
Ron's eyes narrowed and his fiery red eyebrows drew together. It seemed like he was fighting an internal battle with himself. "I want to be good enough for you, all right?" he finally answered angrily. "But that's impossible. Can't see why I even bothered," he continued in a mumble. "You're perfect, I'm not. That's it, then."
I want to be good enough for you. Those were the only words that stuck with Hermione. Could Ron truly be saying what she thought he was saying? After all this time—his ridiculous jealousy of Viktor, her childish tantrum involving canaries and Lavender Brown—could he finally have grown up and realized…
"You don't need to try to be perfect for me, Ron," she found herself saying softly. "At least, you don't need to get perfect scores on essays or even pass an Apparition test your first try. Those things don't matter to me." She paused. "And Ron…you've—you've always been good enough for me. Yes of course, you'll probably always be a prat, but I've learned to live with it, and I don't plan on quitting now." She smiled. "To me, Ron, you are perfect, in your own way."
He looked up finally, his blue eyes brightening. Then suddenly he was leaning over and before Hermione could prepare herself, he was kissing her. Gently—almost timid, quite unlike the kisses he'd shared with Lavender—and softly, but it was just right. Hermione sighed into him, placing her hands on his forearms, which rested on his knees. They broke apart after only a few moments, but to Hermione, it felt like the longest, most wonderful kiss.
He grinned at her. "Thanks, Hermione."
She shrugged in a semblance of relaxation, but her blushing cheeks gave her away. "Anytime."
Ron nodded, looking with slight hesitation at a spot just over her shoulder. Then he seemed to steel his courage and turned to look at her again. He rubbed his hands on his pants, then opened his arms tentatively to her. "Can I—" he began, but didn't finish, as Hermione had flung herself at him. He grabbed her, standing up quickly, and hugged her tightly, just as—he had discovered recently—he'd always wanted to.
Hermione rubbed her cheek against his jacket. Although it was a bit chilly outside, she could feel Ron's warmth seeping through the coat. It was just so…Ron. His scent—Chocolate Frogs mixed with pumpkin juice and grass and…something that was just him. She shivered a little, and he only pulled her closer to him.
"This is it, isn't it?" he asked quietly after a few moments. Hermione pulled away a little and looked up at him. "Perfect."
She grinned, then returned her head to that spot under his chin. He leaned down, placing his head upon hers. She had to agree. It was perfect. Because it was Ron. Because he was perfect for her.
A/N: I know that some of you have been after me to write a chaptered fic, and I promise, that day will come! For now, Chapter 22 was just begging for a one shot Missing Moment, don't you think? And that bit about Hermione smelling grass in the love potion from Slughorn's class? I couldn't resist going back to that and adding it in with the smell on Ron's coat. :) Cheers, and remember, reviews are always more than welcome!