Disclaimer: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts and the wizarding world are my creation; they belong to the wonderful Ms. Jo Rowling.
A/N: Yes, here it is, as promised! The first installment to my debut chaptered fic. I basically took my ideas for additional Missing Moments, and put them into chapters. This story starts in "Felix Felicis," after Hermione asks Ron to go Slughorn's party with her, and will culminate with Ron's break up with Lavender.
Chapter 1: The Invitation
She was going to ask me to come with her. That thought was the only one currently passing through Ron Weasley's mind. It had been the only thought passing through his mind for two days, most assuredly putting a dent in the pace with which he could complete his homework.
Hermione Granger was going to ask HIM, Ron Weasley, to Professor Slughorn's party. Ron grinned, grateful that Harry was too absorbed in his essay to notice that Ron was gazing stupidly into thin air, his thoughts centered on Hermione. She wanted to go with him…AND had seemed pleased when he'd basically told her that the thought of her hooking up with that git McLaggen made him want to hit something, preferably McLaggen's face.
"The trees outside that fascinating, Ron?" Harry's voice broke the silence and Ron jumped, sheepishly blushing when he caught Harry looking at him, one eyebrow raised. Ron shrugged.
"Dunno. Just…bored, I suppose. Thinking."
"About Hermione," Harry mused, almost more to himself than to Ron. But Ron caught it and glared at his friend.
"No," he responded quickly, then turned even brighter when he realized he'd definitely answered too fast.
Harry nodded. "Uh huh." He closed his Potions book and turned fully to take in Ron's face. "Yup, you're lying," he pronounced moments later. "But I won't push it if…"
"I'm not lying!"
"So you're not thinking about Hermione? The thought of her hasn't crossed your mind at all today?"
Ron's mouth dropped open. He couldn't deny it…suddenly didn't want to deny it. "Maybe," he muttered, then as he saw Harry's face blanche silently, hastened to correct, "But no more than usual."
His friend rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. "Reckon I'll have to get used to this," he said blandly. When Ron continued to stare at him, he took a deep breath. "Look, Ron…do you want to talk? I mean, yeah, it's kind of weird because it's Hermione, but you put up with Cho and—"
"Do you think she likes me, Harry?" Ron cut in before Harry could complete his thought.
Harry's mouth snapped shut. When he'd asked if Ron wanted to talk, he didn't think it would mean this. He was already slightly uncomfortable with the idea of his best friends dating each other, although he did have to admit that he'd more or less seen it coming. He definitely didn't want to get in the middle of their feelings.
"Um," he grunted, looking away. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ron deflate slightly and immediately felt horrible. "Oh, Ron, of course Hermione li—likes you," he stammered. "She was going to ask you to the party, wasn't she? You guys are kind of going together, aren't you?"
Here Ron looked up, a frantic look in his eyes. "I—I'm not sure," he answered. "I mean, she never properly asked and I never actually answered." He stopped with a terrified gulp. "What if—what if she found someone else, Harry! What if she just decided that I'm not worth it and—"
"Ron!" Harry yelled, grabbing his friend's shoulders and shaking him roughly. "Get a grip! Hermione hasn't found someone else. Do you really think she'd tell you she wanted to go with you, then turn around ask some other bloke instead?"
Ron didn't answer, staring down at the ground, a blush furiously spreading up his neck and ears. Harry groaned. The things he had to put up with. "Ron," he said again and Ron finally looked up at him. "She likes you, all right? Trust me. She's giving you this chance. Don't mess it up."
"Don't mess what up?" Ron and Harry both jumped as Hermione herself came up behind them. Ron's face went from bright red to scarily pale in about two seconds, and Harry quickly combed through what he and Ron had just been to saying to see if Hermione might have overheard anything Ron didn't want her to hear.
Satisfied that she'd probably only caught the end of the conversation, Harry grinned at her. "Oh, just this essay Ron's been working on," he said coolly.
Hermione nodded, then reached over to have a look at Ron's work. "This parchment has nothing written on it," she said in confusion, and Harry felt the urge to shove his foot in his mouth. For his part, Ron was determinedly avoiding Hermione's eyes, suddenly finding the carpet utterly fascinating.
"Well—well of course it doesn't," Harry said, "Because…because he's just been planning it, you see. Just got started, you know? Ron always waits 'till the last minute…" He trailed off, realizing that it was better to stop while he was ahead than continue on and make things even worse.
Hermione didn't seem to be paying attention, though. She was staring at Ron, who was staring down at the floor. Harry was just about to say something, when Ron slowly lifted his head and looked back at Hermione. Harry sighed audibly as his friends locked eye contact. And here we go, he thought wryly.
"Hello, Ron," Hermione mumbled softly.
Ron swallowed hard. "Hey—I—I mean hello, Hermione."
Silence once again filled the Common Room. After awhile, Harry couldn't stand it anymore. He slammed the cover to his Potions book shut—not even the mysterious Half-Blood Prince could entertain in this tension-filled room. "I'm gonna go find Ginny or someone," he muttered, though the parting excuse was probably unnecessary. Ron and Hermione weren't listening. They were too wrapped up in their mutual staring contest.
Harry sighed again. He hoped that soon, Ron and Hermione would make it out of this awkward stage and move on to actually speaking to each other again. Although he much preferred this new, strangely polite Ron and Hermione, he was gradually starting to miss their rows. At least the fights kept them from veering into an uncomfortable quiet. He gathered his things and quickly departed out the portrait hole.
Was Ron always this good looking, or is this a recent development? Hermione wondered as she took in his long and angular face. He'd certainly matured over the years, but his face hadn't changed all that drastically. Perhaps she was going mental…
Hermione's bloody beautiful. How could I ever have made fun of her? Her hair…yes, it's bushy, but it's still gorgeous. Ron was having to physically restrain himself from reaching across the table and pushing that one uncontrollable strand of hair behind her ear. He wanted to do it…but how would she react?
Hermione suddenly cleared her throat and shook her head, trying to get rid of her unruly thoughts. "So, um, what essay are you working on? Do you need any help?" There, that was good. Talking about school: neutral territory. They can't possibly go wrong with schoolwork.
"Er, uh." Ron blushed. He couldn't seem to speak English anymore. Hermione giggled, turning faintly pink as well.
Well, if she's embarrassed too, then I must not be the only one feeling this things, Ron reasoned, and using that logic, cautiously pushed his chair just a bit closer to hers. She didn't move away or look at him oddly. He breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps he wasn't bungling this horribly.
"Hermione, I was wondering—" Ron began.
"Ron, about the part—" Hermione started at the same time. Ron's ears perked up and he grinned, because he simply couldn't help himself. He gestured for Hermione to continue.
Seeing his whole face light up like that gave Hermione the courage she had been so desperately lacking a moment before. She took a deep breath before turning to fully face him. She looked directly into his eyes and nearly lost her train of thought. Ron's eyes were such a brilliant, piercing blue. She could easily get lost in them.
"Ron, I know that I—I didn't formally ask you to go with me to Slughorn's party the other day. It—it just feels…strange, doesn't it?"
Ron's face fell and Hermione quickly intervened. "No, not bad," she added. "Just…it's us. You know?" She looked at him as if expecting him to know what she meant.
He shook his head. S'pose it's time to be direct. "Hermione, are you asking me to go with you?" he asked, shocked and pleasantly surprised that he didn't stutter. "As—as a date?" As he said the word "date," Hermione's eyes widened. But as he was about to correct himself, Hermione was nodding and his tongue was suddenly stuck to the roof of his mouth.
"Yes," she answered firmly, and he just about swallowed his tongue.
"Argh," Ron gurgled. He coughed, and took a deep breath. "Well, if you're asking, then I—I reckon I'm, er, saying ye—yes," he stammered. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see her reaction for some reason.
When Hermione didn't say anything, he squinted one eye open and peered at her. She was sitting straight up in her chair, hands in her lap. However, as he looked closer, Ron noticed that her hands were actually clutched together and were shaking. She's nervous. He moved his gaze to her face, and was first struck by the sheer, natural beauty he saw there. Hermione was stunning, in her own way. But it was the expression in her soft brown eyes, and the joy that she wasn't even trying to mask spreading across her face, that really struck him.
Hermione was trying to stop smiling…she really was. But she just couldn't. Ron was looking at her with such open adoration and happy surprise in his eyes, that she couldn't help grinning back. FINALLY. Finally they had gotten somewhere. They weren't touching, weren't even very close to each other, but in that moment, Hermione felt that she understood him so well. They could communicate with just their eyes—blue on brown—no words were necessary.
"Well, then," she breathed, when she'd regained the power of speech. She knew her cheeks were bright pink, and she could see that Ron's ears were deepening into dark shades of crimson. She turned back to her books, grabbing one and staring down at whatever page she opened to.
"Hey, Hermione," Ron said softly. She looked up at him.
"Thanks for the invitation."
Hermione's mouth curved once more. "You're welcome, Ron."
A/N: So, how is it? I know that this chapter is kind of short; I just wanted to get the ball rolling. The others will be longer (hopefully). I know that it seems like I'm moving slowly, and, well, I am. I'm planning for Ch. 2 to also be a Missing Moment from "Felix Felicis," so the time span for this story, at least at the beginning, is probably going to be close to that of HBP. Once we have Ron and Hermione in their fight over Lavender/Krum, things will start speeding up a little bit more.
Anyway…PLEASE review and let me know what you think! I will respond to many (if not every!) review in each new chapter. I truly value your comments and input. Just no flames, please. Constructive criticism is the way to go! I'll try and get Ch. 2 up as soon as I can.