Author's Notes: This was written for the Ron Weasley/ Hermione Granger FQF on livejournal. This is the R-RATED version of the story. There is indeed an NC-17 version located at Checkmated in the Bedchamber if you are interested in reading. Nothing's been cut out--just some words have been changed to keep it safe at an R rating. Stupendous thanks goes out to jaswanson who beta'd this puppy and to my friends list who offered me oodles of support and advice : ))) There might be a vague reference to Clueless floating around in here… :D Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.
Challenge #6: Ron and Hermione's stay with the Dursleys, including the Dursleys' reaction to Harry having house guests, Dudley's reaction to Hermione, and at least one night time tryst with Ron sneaking out of Harry's bedroom to spend some time with Hermione in the guest room.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
"What are you going to tell your parents?"
Ron winced and stared resolutely out the window. "I'll figure something out," he replied evenly.
"Er, well you might want to consider figuring it out a little faster, 'cause we're going to be at King's Cross in about half an hour, mate."
"Don't rush me, Harry," Ron snapped. Harry shrugged and sat back into his seat to continue with his brooding. Hermione raised her eyebrows at him, but mercifully remained silent. She really had nothing to say in the matter, seeing as she had not yet spoken to her parents about the summer's plans, either. She and Ron were, for all purposes, in the same boat.
"I'm going to run to the loo," said Harry with a heavy sigh. Before Ron or Hermione could say anything, he bolted out of the compartment, leaving his two best friends alone with one another.
They sat in silence for several seconds before Hermione broke down and asked, "Ron, how are you going to tell your mum and dad that you'll be staying at Harry's this summer? And…and that you won't be returning to Hogwarts in the fall?" Hermione bit her lip and began to wring her hands.
Ron let out a puff of air and ran a hand through his hair. "I dunno," he mumbled uselessly.
Hermione frowned at him and crossed her arms. "I think…I think my parents will understand my staying at Harry's for the summer but…Oh, they won't like it at all if I don't go back to school."
"Just don't tell them, then." He had blurted it out without thinking and immediately winced. Ron knew that Hermione hated lying to her parents, but if circumstances became desperate enough, Hermione just might have to do whatever was necessary to be able to follow Harry on his quest.
Hermione's frown deepened but there was an understanding in her eyes. She knew; she understood that some things were just more important than school, and Harry was one of them.
Just then, Harry returned to the compartment and carried on with his "deep thoughts", something he'd been doing during the entire train ride back from Hogwarts. Ron figured it was a combination of the fake Horcrux currently sitting in Harry's pocket and the fact that his best friend had just broken up with Ginny not a few hours ago. Yet Ron couldn't even manage to muster up the anger he should be feeling for Harry breaking his little sister's heart. He was just so bloody tired; sometimes it seemed like a great effort just to keep his eyes open. He had no idea how he was going to make it on Harry's quest, whatever it was. Harry had been surprisingly tight-lipped about the journey he had to make, and especially what they would be searching for, but Ron and Hermione knew not to push him. Harry would tell them when he was ready, Ron was sure of it.
And then there was Hermione. Ron swallowed thickly and peered at her out from underneath his fringe. She still had her arms crossed but she was no longer frowning; instead, her brow was furrowed and her eyes had a haunted quality to them. She looked sad—no, she was sad, Ron corrected. He had never seen her look so lost before, and it made his stomach twist and his heart ache to think that Hermione was unhappy. She deserved the best of everything and he never wanted to see her anything but exuberant and excited and smiling…
Just then, a group of students walked by their compartment, laughing cheerfully. Ron saw Harry stiffen beside him but remained silent. Ron sighed and leaned his head back against his seat. It seemed so…surreal to him that people were actually happy while everything that was once enjoyable about his life was falling apart at the seems.
Why the hell did his life have to be so fucked up? he thought, viciously running a hand through his hair. He hated the war, hated his life, hated his own cowardice.
And with a start, Ron realized as they rolled into King's Cross station, that he was soon going to be in for the row of his life.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE NOT COMING HOME?"
Ron cringed; Molly Prewett Weasley was a force to be reckoned with, especially when she truly got into her full shouting mode.
"I said, I'm not going back to the Burrow this summer. I'm going to go stay with Harry." Ron jutted his chin out and dared his mother to argue back.
"Absolutely not!" she shrieked, gesturing wildly. Ron sighed and rubbed his hands roughly over his face. He could feel hundreds of pairs of eyes on him as what seemed like half the Wizarding population was at platform nine and three-quarters and was staring at the scene unfolding before them. Off to the right, Ron could see Hermione struggling with a jumpy Crookshanks as Harry tried valiantly—and failed—to keep the cat under control. They had yet to pass through the barrier; it seemed as though they were waiting for him.
"We'll be back for Bill's wedding, Mum," Ron said tiredly, scratching the back of his neck.
"I don't care!" Molly cried. She was very red in the face, a dangerous sign, but his mother's admonitions were really beginning to piss Ron off. He was of age, after all.
"I'm of age, Mum!" Ron yelled back, rising to his full height, which was a good foot taller than his mother's. Molly's eyes widened and a furious glint flashed in her eyes.
"Don't you dare talk to me that way again, young man!" she hissed, poking him in the chest. "I raised you since you were a babe—"
"I'm going to Harry's house and that's it!" bellowed Ron, and everyone on the platform now stared blatantly at the battling Weasleys. "I'm seventeen, Mum, and I can do whatever the bloody hell I want! You're just going to have to accept that! Now, I'll be home for the wedding." Ron bent low and kissed his stunned mother on the cheek. "I love you," he murmured before straightening up. He nodded at his father, who nodded back, hugged Ginny quickly because his eyes were starting to sting, and then headed over to where Harry and Hermione were standing, gobsmacked.
When Ron finally reached them, Hermione blinked a few times before saying, "Yeah, my parents aren't going to go for that at all."
Twenty minutes later, the three of them were still standing on the platform. Hermione was pacing back and forth frantically, chewing on her lip in a manner Ron thought was holy inappropriate, while Harry sat on his trunk and absently stroked Hedwig through her cage. Ron found that he himself could not stop staring at the way Hermione's breasts swayed as she bounded back and forth, her chest heaving as she struggled to control her breathing. It was a rather intoxicating sight. Bloody hell, he was getting hard as he leaned against a brick wall at bloody King's Cross Station!
"I can't do it!" Hermione suddenly wailed, clutching her hair in her hands. Ron exchanged a knowing look with Harry before pushing off of the wall and strolling over to her. Putting his hands on her shoulders, Ron bent his head and said, "Hermione, calm down, will you? Everything's going to be all right."
"How do you know?" she demanded shrilly, shaking off his hands and stomping her foot. Ron had to swallow a chuckle that threatened to escape. Giving her a small grin, he placed his hands back on her shoulders and said quietly, "How about this then: what if me and Harry talk to your parents for you. We've met them before. They're nice enough, and I think your mum even liked me a little."
He hadn't meant to say it, hadn't even thought about it before that second, but the moment the idea popped into his head, Ron knew that it would be the perfect solution to their current little problem.
"We were twelve the last time you met—! Wait, what?"
Ron smiled. "I said, me and Harry'll talk to your parents. How's that sound?"
Hermione stared at him, stunned, her mouth gaping like a fish. Ron had to suppress a groan when he saw her lick her lips.
"You'd really do that for me?" she asked softly, a small smile playing on her lips.
"Of course," he replied easily, but inwardly, he groaned. He was a dead man. Especially with the look Harry was giving him.
Helena Granger raised a thick yet elegant eyebrow, glancing dubiously from Ron and Harry. "So let me understand this…" she said slowly. "You want my and my husband's blessing to allow our seventeen-year-old daughter to stay all summer at a young man's house with little to no parental supervision, correct?"
Harry swallowed and nodded as Ron said in a choked voice, "Yeah—er, yes, ma'am."
Mrs. Granger gave the two of them a Look and turned to her husband. "What do you think, Malcolm?"
Mr. Granger crossed his arms and gave the two boys a particularly cantankerous look. He glanced over their shoulders to where his daughter stood wringing her hands and biting her lip anxiously. Focusing again on the young men, he said, "I think I have a shotgun and a shovel."
Ron visibly paled at this and Harry broke out in a cold sweat. This was going to be harder than they thought. Mrs. Granger sighed and rolled her eyes in a very Hermione-like way. "I think I would like to speak to my daughter, if it isn't too much trouble?" Without waiting for an answer, she swooped down on her daughter and pulled her into a small alcove, leaving Ron and Harry with Hermione's rather disgruntled father. Ron swallowed thickly. Only for Hermione, he reminded himself.
"I don't like you," Mr. Granger said in a low voice. Funny, Ron thought. Why isn't he looking at Harry?
Swallowing, Ron ran a hand nervously through his hair and shot a glance at Harry, who was rocking back and forth on his feet and apparently not paying any attention at all, the wanker. Ron peered over Mr. Granger's shoulder and saw that Hermione and her mum were whispering furiously to one another. Hermione then stomped her foot and said something that caused the two women to freeze and then turn their heads to stare at Ron. Mrs. Granger raised her eyebrows and swept her eyes up and down Ron's form before frowning and crossing her arms. Bloody hell, why was everyone staring at him?
"Sir," Ron began, focusing all his attention on Hermione's father, "I'm not going to lie to you. There's a lot going on in the Wizarding world right now. Nobody is safe." Malcolm narrowed his eyes dangerously and Ron rushed to continue. "Hermione needs to be with me—me and Harry—Harry and I—with us because we can protect her. We'll be staying at Harry's aunt's house and it has an extra bedroom and everything, and his aunt stays at home, so, you know, we'd never be alone or anything like that." He was babbling by now and even Harry was staring at Ron in a sort of muted horror. "Right, so we need Hermione, right? The girl—she's bloody brilliant and we can't do anything without her and I care—we care—too much about her to ever let anything happen to her, I swear it, sir. Ha ha, please, please don't kill me."
Ron inhaled deeply and bit his lip as he surveyed the damage: Mr. Granger's face was screwed up in either confusion or anger, Ron wasn't sure, but he did know it probably didn't bode well for getting permission for Hermione to stay at the Dursleys'.
Mrs. Granger and Hermione popped up suddenly, but Helena quickly dragged her husband away and into the alcove, leaving their daughter alone with Ron and Harry.
"Maybe we should just Apparate out of here," Harry said, eyeing the arguing Grangers wearily.
Hermione licked her lips, Ron inwardly groaned, and Harry began to bite his nails, a habit he'd picked up over the past few weeks. It usually drove Hermione mad.
"I don't think it's going to be a problem," she said.
"You're joking, right?" said Ron incredulously. "Bloody hell, Hermione, I think your dad wants to bury my body in your backyard!"
"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped. "Daddy loves you."
Ron and Harry both snorted, and Hermione shot them a glare.
As they continued to watch the two parents argue softly in the alcove, a thought suddenly struck Ron. "Hey, mate, how're you going to explain to the Dursleys about me and Hermione?"
Harry smiled crookedly and said, "I sent them post—the Muggle way, mind—saying not to worry about picking me up this year. I, ah, also forgot to mention that school had ended a few weeks earlier than normal. Anyway, when we show up on their doorstep they won't have any choice but to take us in. Don't worry about it."
Ron raised his eyebrows and gave Hermione a look but otherwise remained silent.
Ron was so caught up in his own thoughts that he didn't notice when the Grangers ended their discussion and walked over to where the trio were standing. Hermione's mother merely hugged her daughter tight and kissed her several times on the cheek. Mr. Granger shot the two boys a death glare before growling in Ron's ear, "If anything happens to my baby girl, I'm coming after you personally." Without another word, the Grangers strode away from the stunned trio and out of the station.
Hermione blew out a breath, ruffling the hair that was falling in her face; Ron scratched the back of his neck and threw a shrug at Harry.
"Right then," said Harry, rubbing his hands together. "Know how to get to Privet Drive? Yes? Excellent. See you there." And with a soft crack, he was gone.
"He's much too good at that," Ron mumbled, feeling somewhat annoyed that Harry could accomplish Apparating so easily.
"You are, too," Hermione said softly. "I'll see you there."
Ron sighed; he really hated Apparating. Squeezing his eyes shut, he concentrated with all his might on the house he'd only briefly visited twice in his life. He turned his body suddenly, and with a feeling as if his insides were twisting inside-out, Ron reappeared in the backyard of number four, Privet Drive. He quickly patted himself down and found that he'd thankfully left nothing behind.
Ron looked across the yard and saw that Harry and Hermione were already dragging their trunks towards the back porch. Ron grabbed a hold of his trunk's handle and made his way over to his two best friends. Hermione smiled brilliantly at him when she saw him striding towards them.
"Leave anything behind?" Harry asked with a smirk.
"Nothing important," Ron retorted, gesturing vaguely at his groin. Hermione tutted, though there was a faint blush on her cheeks.
"Come on," Harry grunted as he struggled to pull his trunk up the porch steps. "They're not home, as far as I can tell, so we might as well set up camp. Will one of you two open the door?"
Hermione whipped out her wand and muttered the Unlocking Charm, causing the door to swing open. The three made their way into the house and followed Harry up a flight of stairs, their trunks floating dutifully behind them.
"This is my room," Harry said, throwing open his door and walking inside. Ron followed and Hermione peeked her head cautiously into the room. Ron ended the Levitation Charms on his and Harry's trunks, allowing them to fall noisily to the floor.
"S'not much, but it'll have to do," mumbled Harry, frowning in general at the overall state of the room. It was obvious no one had bothered to dust in there during the past year. "Right. Hermione, if you'll follow me…"
Needless to say, the spare bedroom was significantly bigger than Harry's room and better maintained, to boot. As Hermione went about settling her things and unpacking her trunk, Ron stared in horror at the flowery pink walls and the small furry animal border that lined the room.
"And you complain about the orange in my room?" Ron asked Hermione incredulously. She rolled her eyes at him before quickly shooing them out of the room.
A loud shriek filled the house at number four, Privet Drive, as Petunia Dursley discovered three wizards—well, two wizards and a witch—sitting at her dining room table eating her leftover spaghetti.
"What the ruddy hell is going on here?" roared Vernon Dursley as his wife struggled to shield her son from view, a very daunting task indeed, considering Dudley Dursley was approximately the size of a baby elephant.
"Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, you remember Ron Weasley, don't you?" Harry asked, motioning at Ron with a fork. "You met his dad a few years ago, remember? I believe there was an exploding fireplace involved."
"What—what are you—what are they—?" spluttered Mr. Dursley, bits of spittle flying everywhere.
"I'm back early because there was a slight incident at school," Harry continued calmly. "Professor Dumbledore requested I return to Privet Drive until my seventeenth birthday, but after that, you won't have to worry about ever seeing me again." Here, he gave his aunt a particularly long look.
"Oh!" he then exclaimed. "And this is Hermione Granger, my other best friend. I don't think you've ever had the pleasure of meeting each other before."
Throwing Harry a disgruntled glare, Hermione stood up and said, "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, how do you do? I would like to say it's a pleasure to meet you, but we both know that that wouldn't be true, and really, why bother with lies?"
Ron also stood up and circled the table with Hermione; Harry stared at the two of them in shock. Neither of them had told Harry that they had rehearsed this earlier in the afternoon while he had been busy brooding.
"Right," said Ron as he stopped in from of the shocked Dursleys. "Me and Hermione here are going to be staying with Harry until July thirty-first and then after that, you won't ever have to worry about us again. But, and it's a big but—" Harry snorted in the background "—up until that time, we expect you to treat us like guests." Ron withdrew his wand slowly and Hermione did the same.
"Did Ron mention that he and I are fully qualified wizards?" Hermione said in a coy voice, raising her wand to eye level. "That means we can do magic whenever we want—and to whomever we want."
Petunia's face turned chalk white while her husband's became an unhealthy shade of purple. Dudley whimpered in the background.
"I'm so glad we understand one another," said Hermione, smiling cheekily. "Come on Harry, Ron, we've got a lot of research to do." With that, the trio marched out of the kitchen and made their way upstairs to Harry's room.
After the door was closed, the three friends collapsed onto Harry's bed in fits of laughter.
"I can't believe you two did that!" Harry said, smiling admiringly at his two friends. Hermione grinned and propped her head up on her hand.
"Well, what did you think was going to happen?" she asked as Ron chortled behind Harry.
"I dunno," said Harry, turning to lie flat on his back so that he was situated between Ron and Hermione.
"Did you see the look on the porker's face?" Ron chuckled, and Harry grinned broadly.
"Yeah," he said softly. "It was great."
Hermione glanced at her watch and sighed. "Harry, may I borrow Hedwig? I want to ask Professor Lupin to owl me some of the Black family books from Grimmauld Place."
"What do you need books for?" Ron asked, raising an incredulous eyebrow.
"Well, where else do you suggest searching for the Horcruxes?…Wait, is it Horcruces," she murmured. Shaking her head, she continued, "I figured that the Black family, being aligned for the most part with Dark wizards, would have some kind of material pertaining to the Horcrux—cruce—Voldemort's split soul."
Harry and Ron nodded in agreement. "What about finding out who R.A.B. is?" said Harry, scratching his scar.
Hermione bit her lip and looked away.
"I have a guess, that's all," she said quickly, still avoiding the two boys' gazes. "Let me research it more first, Harry."
"All right," he replied with a frown. "You okay?"
Hermione looked back and smiled slightly. "I'm fine, Harry. I think I might take a shower, though, and then head for bed. We have a long few weeks ahead of us." Sliding off the bed, Hermione headed for the door. Before she left, she turned back around and said, "Goodnight, Harry. Goodnight, Ron."
"'Night," echoed the two boys, and Hermione disappeared from view.
Ron didn't sleep very well that first night in the Dursley home. One reason was because he could hear Dudley's snores from across the hall, and two, the mere thought that Hermione was sleeping merely twenty feet away in nothing but a nightgown was at times a bit overwhelming. After tossing and turning for a good two hours, he finally fell into a restless sleep where he dreamed about bushy hair, unbreakable lockets, and red, slit-like eyes.
For the next week, the routine at Privet Drive remained relatively the same. Hermione would wake up before the boys, take a shower, and then begin research on Horcruxes, and eventually, Voldemort's stay in Eastern Europe and his ascent to power in the 1970s.
Then, Harry would wake up and prepare breakfast. He insisted to Hermione that he didn't mind and that he rather enjoyed it. He said it gave him some semblance of normalcy. Finally, Ron would awaken from the dead and stumble down to the kitchen in nothing by pajama bottoms—something Hermione always took notice of—and go about wolfing down his breakfast.
For the most part, the Dursleys avoided the trio like the plague, though near the end of the week, Dudley, against the shouted orders of his parents and Harry's extremely mistrustful looks, took to eating meals with the three friends. Harry's cousin rarely said anything more than muttered grunts, but Ron was immediately suspicious of the overweight git, especially considering the leers he kept throwing at an oblivious Hermione.
After breakfast, the trio would then adjourn to the backyard where they were work on various defensive spells, hexes, jinxes, and the like in preparation for what Harry described as the "Final Meeting." Ron thought it was awfully morbid the way his best mate was training him and Hermione to fight—and kill—but at the same time, he recognized how important it was for Harry. He reckoned it gave his friend a feeling of control over an uncontrollable situation.
And, Ron had to admit with a small smirk when he deflected a Stunning Spells, it was very satisfying parrying with Hermione. Not only did it relieve the tension that was slowly but steadily building between them during their time at Privet Drive, but it also presented Ron with the opportunity to see a sweaty and flustered and barely dressed Hermione every single day. She truly was a thing of beauty.
Currently, Hermione was quickly getting very frustrated and with a loud cry, she flicked her wand and threw a non-verbal hex at Ron, one so powerful that it knocked him off his feet and threw him several meters backwards.
Coughing and struggling to catch his breath (and regain some of his wounded pride), Ron sat up and stared reproachfully at Hermione, who was gloating on the other side of the yard. He scrambled to his feet, sweat pouring down his face, and aimed his wand at Hermione.
"Aguamenti!" he shouted. He saw Harry dive out of the way, but apparently Hermione was too shocked to react, and a second later she was soaking wet.
"RON!" she shrieked, and he couldn't help but grin. A wet Hermione in a clingy, somewhat see-through shirt was truly an amazing experience. "Oh, shite," he muttered when he saw her raise her wand. Without a second thought, he high-tailed it out of the yard and ran inside the house. Peeking out the back window, he saw Harry fighting to take Hermione's wand from her before she did anything dangerous. Ron enjoyed watching…certain parts of her bounce as she struggled with Harry. Grinning, Ron bounded out of the kitchen and took the stairs two at a time. After seeing Hermione all wet, he definitely needed to take a shower and relieve some of the pressure in his trousers.
Ron had been having trouble sleeping for the past two weeks and he hadn't the faintest idea why. He'd normally been a very regular and heavy sleeper, so this new change in his resting habits had a rather negative affect not only on his body but on his moods as well. And no one became more aware of Ron's towering temper than Hermione, who once again felt herself subject to Ron's constant snarling and harsh words.
Ron groaned softly and rolled over onto his stomach, punching his pillow hard in an effort to get more comfortable. He knew he was being utterly unreasonable in regards to Hermione; he knew that he was treating her like shite, but for some reason—a reason Ron couldn't quite put his finger on—he just couldn't stop antagonizing her. She was just so fascinating to watch when she was angry. Her eyes would darken, her back would become ram-rod straight, and her hair would practically cackle with energy. And then—Ron groaned again—and then her cheeks would become flushed with anger and she'd begin to chew on her lips in an effort to maintain control of her emotions. That was by far the worse, when she began to chew on her bottom lip. Ron would become entranced by the movement, unable to tear his eyes away from the plump flesh, every once in a while catching a peek of a tongue.
Fuck! Now he was hard again. Ron felt like strangling the bloody pillow; he was so sexually frustrated that he was taking the tension out of everything and everyone.
It was so much worse being at the Dursleys' house, too, because Hermione was constantly around him, teasing him with her fly-away hair and toothy smiles and supple curves. Merlin, he'd seen more of Hermione's skin while at Privet Drive than ever before. It was no wonder he was practically a walking erection.
Ron lay there for another ten minutes before his erection finally went away, and after realizing he wasn't going to get to sleep any time soon, decided to head to the kitchen in search of some food.
He padded barefoot down the stairs, sleepily rubbing his eyes, and walked into the kitchen, failing to notice that the lights were on until he practically ran over Hermione, who shrieked.
"What are you doing!" she cried, waving her wand haphazardly. Ducking, Ron quickly grabbed her wrist to keep her from accidentally firing off some kind of hex.
"Will you calm down?" he hissed. "It's just me, Hermione."
She stopped struggling at his words and whispered, "Oh" as a flush crept up her neck, and it was then that Ron realized how close they were standing. He quickly let her arm drop and stepped away from her. Running a hand through his hair, he asked, "What are you doing up so late?"
"Don't you mean early?" Hermione teased. Sighing, she sat back in her chair and opened up one of the dozens of books that were strewn about the kitchen table. "I couldn't sleep," she answered, keeping her eyes on the book, "so I thought I'd get some more research done. What about you?"
"Ah," mumbled Ron, who was currently entranced by the sight of Hermione's exposed neck. "Couldn't sleep either, thought I'd get something to eat. Want something?"
Hermione shook her head, though a small smile was playing on her lips. Ron shrugged and set about making a sandwich; after pouring himself some juice (orange, which was very different from pumpkin), he flopped down in a chair beside Hermione and began to eat.
"Wot're ya recherchin?" Ron asked through a mouth full of bread. Hermione made a noise of disgust.
"The usual," she replied. "Horcruxes and the history of the Four Founders of Hogwarts. I'm trying to see what the relics could be for Ravenclaw. So far, nothing." Hermione frowned and scrubbed fiercely at her eyes.
Ron swallowed another huge bite and said, "You should get to sleep. You look exhausted."
Hermione pursed her lips. "Thank you," she muttered dryly. "Actually, I think I might've found something, but I'll need to take a trip to Grimmauld Pla—"
"What?" Ron spluttered. "You are not going into London alone!"
"Oh really? Says who?" Hermione bit out, her eyes flashing.
"I do!" Ron barked, standing up. "It's too dangerous, Hermione! I'll come with you—"
"Hush!" she reprimanded. Lowering her voice, she hissed, "I don't need someone to watch over me like I'm some kind of child, Ron! I can take care of myself!"
"You are not leaving this house alone," Ron growled in a low tone. "I won't allow it."
"You won't allow it!" Hermione said shrilly. "I'm not a child, Ron, and nor do I need watching after! Nothing's going to happen!"
Ron took a step closer to Hermione. "You don't know that," he said softly with hard eyes. "For all you know, the Death Eaters are just waiting for the chance for one of us to leave this house."
Hermione placed her hands on her hips and jutted out her jaw. "Don't be ridiculous, Ron, nothing's going to happen. It's just Grimmauld Place!"
Ron sneered. "So everything I say is ridiculous, is it?"
"I didn't say that—!"
"You are not leaving this house, Hermione!"
"You can't tell me what to do, Ronald!"
Something snapped in Ron at that moment. Striding forward, he grabbed Hermione by her arms and shouted, "Don't you get it? I'm not letting anything happen to you! I'm not going lose you, goddammit! So for once in your life just listen to what I'm trying to say!"
Gaping, Hermione stared at Ron in shock for several seconds before whispering, "What are you trying to say?"
Ron opened his mouth; the words were right there on the tip of his tongue, words he'd so desperately wanted to say for months now, but he quickly snapped his mouth shut. Not here, he thought viciously. Not now, when we're arguing. Not ever, not if I can help it.
Ron quickly let go of Hermione and stumbled backwards. Without another word, he raced out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Panting, he closed the door to Harry's room and numbly made his way to his cot, where he collapsed with a soft, gasping sob.
Hermione stood under the spray, letting the steaming water pound down her back as she washed the soap from her body. She and Ron had spent nearly the entire afternoon practicing spells and hexes in the backyard with Harry supervising, often stepping in to correct their wand movements or body positions. Needless to say, what with the sun blazing down on them, Hermione had sweated. A lot.
And so had Ron. Closing her eyes, Hermione's hands wandered slowly down her soapy chest as she thought about how utterly gorgeous Ron had been, standing there without a shirt on, sweat trickling down his lean, fuzzy chest. Oh what a chest, Hermione thought with a groan, her hands rubbing against her stomach. Hard and so very masculine, and Hermione had just about passed out when he had first taken off his shirt not an hour into the training. And why did his trousers have to sit so bleeding low on his hips? Hermione's hand brushed a nipple as she thought about sharp hipbones and the waistband of his boxers peeking from behind his jeans.
Stop it, Hermione! she scolded herself when she realized her hands had traveled too far south. Ever since their fight in the kitchen a few days ago, she and Ron's relationship had been a bit rocky, at best. They still talked, but it wasn't quite on the same level as in the past. Being constantly around one another certainly wasn't helping things, either. Letting out a large puff of air, Hermione quickly turned off the water and pulled back the curtain. She climbed out of the tub and went about drying her body and wrapping her hair up in a towel. It was then she realized she'd made a huge mistake: she'd forgotten her bathrobe.
"Damn!" she hissed, and groaned when she saw that she hadn't brought her wand with her either. Well, she'd just have to chance it in towel. Harry and Ron had both collapsed in Harry's room not long before she'd stepped into the loo, and Dudley was in London with his parents, so she didn't think it'd be much of a problem. The guest room was right around the corner, after all.
Hermione was forced to use the towel that was holding up her hair, since there weren't any left in the cupboard—she silently cursed her two male friends—and wrapped it securely around her body. Blushing, she opened the door just enough to peek outside, and seeing no one, threw open the door and made to sprint towards her room. Just then Harry's door opened.
"Hey, Hermione, you're finally out—aak."
Hermione froze, as did Ron, who made another odd noise in the back of his throat.
"Yes, Ron?" she squeaked, clutching the towel to her bosom. The movement, however, caught Ron's gaze and his eyes snapped to her chest; his face then blossomed into a shade of red Hermione didn't think was entirely healthy. And dear lord, he still wasn't wearing a shirt.
"Oh God," he croaked.
"I—Ron—I—" she stammered.
"I've got to go!" Hermione didn't wait for a response before fleeing to the sanctity of the bedroom. Slamming the door shut, she stumbled forward and collapsed against a wall. She'd never been so humiliated in her life. Ron had seen her! In practically nothing! And all he'd done was stand there and stuttered like an idiot!
Hermione sighed; at least he'd seemed interested and not wholly terrified. That was something.
Ron stood in the hallway for a good minute before he turned around and walked calmly back into Harry's room. He closed the door quietly so as not to wake Harry and leaned against the wood frame, his thoughts racing.
Bloody hell, he'd just seen Hermione naked. Well, nearly naked. She might as well have been, at any rate! What the hell did she think she was doing, walking around like that? Ron shook his head, scowling, and reached up to feel his face. Great, he groaned mentally. Red as a damn beet. Though how any blood can still be in my face is beyond me.
Glancing down, Ron saw—and definitely felt—his erection straining against his jeans and he knew that it wasn't going away any time soon. Since Harry was sleeping, Ron knew that there was only one option left for him: a shower. Another bloody shower. Ron was quite sure he'd never taken so many showers in his life. At least at school the boys had curtains they could pull around their beds when they wanted privacy, but neither Ron nor Harry had any such luxury while at Privet Drive.
Grabbing one of the several towels laying haphazardly on the floor and wrenching the door open, he walked quickly across the corridor and fairly fell into the bathroom in his haste. Oh hell, it smells like her. Ron's erection pulsed for attention and he swiftly shed his clothing, sighing in relief when his arousal sprang free. He palmed at it as he turned on the shower and waited for the water to heat up, all the while thinking about the water droplets beading on Hermione's neck and shoulders when he'd seen her in the hall.
It didn't take long for the water to heat, since Hermione had just been in it, and Ron hopped in the shower and soaped up. As he was rinsing off, his hand slid downwards and he moaned a little bit too loudly when his large hand finally—finally—enclosed around his erection and he began to wank.
Hermione hadn't moved from the wall since the moment she'd entered the room, her entire body humming from mortal embarrassment. She was still propped against the wall on weak knees when she heard Ron loudly enter the loo on the other side of the wall and start up the shower.
She was about to push off the wall when she heard him moan not a few moments later. Hermione's eyes widened in disbelief as more groans floated through the paper-thin wall. What on earth was he doing in there…
Gasping, Hermione's hands flew to her mouth as the truth hit her. Ron was ma-ma—Oh honestly, Hermione, just say it!—masturbating in the shower! She pressed a wet ear against the wall and strained to hear more. Oh, it was wrong, she knew it was wrong, but the heat pooling in her belly, the flush on her cheeks, and the slight rolling of her hips told her that she was most definitely intrigued by what was happening.
Was he masturbating because of her? Because he'd seen her in nothing but a towel? The mere thought caused a shiver to race through Hermione's body and settle in her groin. She did that to him. She made him aroused, made him hard and aching. Biting her lip, Hermione allowed her towel to fall to the ground as her hands began to roam freely across her body, plucking at a nipple or scratching softly at her neck.
She could barely hear him, though. She needed more, needed to hear more—No. She needed to see, to watch him stroke himself into pure bliss, watch him come undone, because of her. Hermione scrambled to find her wand in a pile of jeans, and after finding the bloody thing, she pointed it at the wall and hissed a little-known incantation. The wall suddenly shimmered before melting away, and Hermione could now see everything while Ron was completely oblivious.
Her knees nearly buckled right then and there, because, oh sweet Merlin, it was Ron, and he was wet and naked and so, so beautiful; his hair was plastered to his face, one arm propped against the shower tiles while the other…Hermione keened…the other was moving slowly over his arousal.
She could still barely hear, but she could see, she could see all of him, every muscle, every red chest hair and pubic hair and chin hair, and all his sharp lines and curves. Hermione's breath was shallow now, and with her vision blurring, she slipped a finger between legs and began to rub herself in earnest. The shock of pleasure was nearly too much for Hermione's body to handle, and she stumbled forward somewhat, one hand flying up to brace herself against the wall, mirroring Ron's position.
Hermione watched earnestly as the movement of his hand sped up, as he threw his head back, biting his lips; her own hand was a blur she stroked herself, quickly bringing herself to the brink of completion.
Ron's face was the picture of ecstasy when he came, and Hermione didn't have to press her ear against the wall to hear him call out her name. Her name. With a soft cry, her orgasm rocked her body and flickers of light flashed behind her eyes.
Hermione melted to the floor as her knees gave out beneath her and she barely managed to remove the charm on the wall that allowed her to see into the bathroom. She vaguely recognized that the water in the bathroom had stopped.
Breathing heavily, Hermione stood on shaking legs. After she had finished dressing, there was a soft knock on the door.
"Come in," she called, tugging nervously on her shirt and hoping to God that it wasn't Ron. It was Harry, though, who stuck his head in through the crack with his eyes squeezed shut.
"You decent?" he asked, smirking.
Hermione grinned. "Yes, it's safe to open your eyes." Harry's green eyes fluttered open and he strode into the guest bedroom, leaving the door ajar.
"Hey," he said, "I was wondering when you were planning on heading over to Grimmauld Place today." A loud crash sounded from Harry's room followed by a muffled voice swearing obscenities.
Ignoring the clatter, Hermione said, "Actually, I was thinking sometime after dinner would…be best…" She trailed off and her eyes bugged out of her head when Ron stormed into her room, wearing nothing but trousers.
"Hey, mate, I was just ask—"
Ignoring Harry, Ron marched right up to Hermione and said, "You are not leaving this house!"
Hermione had trouble coming up with a response due to being eye level with Ron's bare chest. It took her a few moments to register fully what Ron had said, but when she did, fury swelled up violently in her chest.
"Don't you dare tell me what to do, Ron!" she shouted, poking him hard in the ribs. Ron's normally clear, blue eyes clouded with anger and his face flushed a deep red.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you!" he exploded, throwing up his hands. "It's bad enough you're coming with me and Harry on whatever the hell kind of journey this is, but I'm not going to let you further endanger your life just so you can prove something!"
"Shut up, Harry!" Ron barked, still glaring at a gobsmacked Hermione. "I almost lost my brother, who's now deformed; my other siblings are all deeply involved in this war, as are my parents. My best friend is number one on You-Know-Who's hit list. I am not allowing the woman I've been in love with for the past God knows how many years allow herself to be killed just to prove that she's capable to someone who knows perfectly well how capable she already is! I know you're smart, I know you're brave, Hermione, so stop with all this nonsense already!"
Ron let his hands drop to his sides, breathing heavily, as the full impact of his words began to sink into Harry and Hermione's heads. Hermione could not stop staring at Ron and Harry looked as if he rather be any where but in that room. No one said a word for several minutes, their heaving chests and thudding hearts the only noise in the room.
"I think…" Harry began in a soft voice. "I think you two need to talk this out. Alone." Without another word, he turned on his heel and quickly exited the room, closing the door behind him.
"I'm sorry," Ron blurted the moment the door clicked shut. "Please don't cry, Hermione. I didn't mean to yell, I just can't stand the—the thought of losing—oh God, of losing you. It makes my chest clench and it gets hard to breathe and—"
"Shut up." Hermione inhaled sharply and wiped away the tears she hadn't realized were trickling down her cheeks. "Just. Shut up."
Ron swallowed painfully against the lump in his throat and ran a hand through his hair.
"Why did you say it?" Hermione whispered, looking up at him with wide eyes.
"I didn't mean to," Ron said softly after a moment's hesitation, knowing fully well what she was referring to. "I wanted to spare you that."
"Spare me what?" she bit out. "From hearing three words I've wanted to hear from you for so long? From finally figuring out how you truly feel about me—?"
"Oh, come off it, Hermione!" he exclaimed, stepping forward. "I've never lied to you about my feelings—"
"And just what was Lavender, then?" she shot back, stamping her foot. "Do you have any idea what it was like to see you kissing her, especially after I'd asked you to Slughorn's party?"
"We've already talked about this," Ron growled, and Hermione felt a shiver course down her spine. "I'm through talking about this," he announced suddenly, and without warning, headed for the exit.
"Oh no you don't!" Hermione cried, grabbing her wand and throwing several locking charms at the door. Ron stopped and took several deep, calming breaths before turning around.
"Unlock the door, Hermione," he said quietly.
"Do it yourself," she snarled.
Ron's lip curled. "I don't have my wand."
"Well, that's too bad, then," Hermione retorted, crossing her arms. "It looks like we'll just have to sit here and talk about our problems like normal people!" She raised her chin triumphantly and dared him to contradict her. He decided to do something entirely different instead.
She wasn't prepared for him to cross the room in two long, even strides.
She wasn't prepared when he grabbed her upper arms and pulled her flush against his hard body.
And she most certainly wasn't prepared when he lowered his head and kissed her passionately on the lips.
Hermione gasped into his mouth, and Ron's tongue slipped past her lips and began to massage her own, causing her legs to buckle. Leaning into Ron, she felt his grip tighten around her as they continued to kiss and stroke and sigh. Ron pulled away suddenly and Hermione went to protest, but instead cried out when he attached his mouth to the slope of her neck, sucking softly on her pulse point.
Ron took a several steps forward, causing Hermione to stumble backwards slightly until the back of her knees hit the edge of her bed.
"I want you," he rumbled into her ear, and Hermione moaned softly.
"Yes," she hissed, and pulled the two on them onto the bed.
They lay there for what felt like hours, carefully exploring each other's mouths and bodies, Hermione reveling in the way Ron's erection pressed into her hip, the way he caressed her tongue with his own, the way in which he gently cupped her breast with his large hands.
Somehow, Hermione's shirt had come unbuttoned and Ron was flicking his thumb over her bra-covered nipples, causing her to shudder delightfully. She could practically hear him smirking; popping her eyes open, she saw that she was right, and with a purely evil grin, she thrust her hips into his. Ron's eyes fluttered shut and he let out a low groan that went straight to Hermione's center. Everything was so intense, so amazing and hot and tingly and her heart was pounding in her ears and when she and Ron looked at each other just then, she could tell that he was thinking the exact same thing.
"We can't," he whispered, giving her such an honest look that Hermione felt like crying.
Biting her lip, she said, "Not yet."
Ron took a deep breath. Reaching forward, he stroked the side of Hermione's face affectionately before leaning in and kissing her softly.
"Promise me," he said gruffly, "promise you won't leave me."
Hermione bit her lip and looked away. "It's a war, Ron. I don't know if I can make that kind of promise."
Ron shook his head. "Say it," he repeated, then added softly, "Please."
Hermione felt a tear slip down her face. Running her hands over his bare chest and enjoying the feel of his ginger hairs underneath her palms, she looked up and said, "I love you."
Ron's face screwed up and with a soft sob, he buried his face in her neck. Hermione held him while he wept, allowing him the release he so desperately needed, refusing to cry herself. She didn't need to hear him say it back. She knew. She'd always known, in a way. For Ron, his actions had always spoken louder than any word he could ever say, and it was then that she understood. He couldn't say it; not because he didn't want to, but because he couldn't stand the thought of saying it and then losing her. He thought he was protecting her. And in some way, she was doing the same for him. She could never guarantee that she wouldn't get hurt or that she wouldn't die, but right then, at that moment, she could give him a piece of herself she'd never given to another boy—her heart.
The next morning, Harry woke up, expecting to be alone in his room. What he wasn't prepared to find were his two best friends sleeping side by side on the floor. Frowning, Harry blinked a few times and then reached for his glasses. When he put them on and glanced back down, he was startled to find Ron staring back at him.
"Happy Birthday, Harry," said Ron, grinning crookedly.
Harry furrowed his brows, darting his eyes between his two best friends, before settling once again on Ron. "I don't understand," Harry whispered, gesturing towards Hermione.
Ron smiled sadly. Running a hand reverently through Hermione's wild hair, he said, "What's not to understand? We're here for you, Harry, every step of the way. Hermione and I, we realize that. We're here for you. We always will be."
Harry stared at him for several seconds before smiling widely. Leaning back on his pillows, he placed his hands behind his head and thought about what the new day would bring. He was officially seventeen now, and tomorrow, the three of them would be heading to the Burrow for Bill and Fleur's wedding.
And then after that, they would leave, just the three of them, as it always had been and always will be. Harry, Ron, and Hermione.