Of Exploding Organs and Learning to Hold One's Tongue

Keeping Score

(Or another reason why Hermione will always love the Hogwarts library)

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Hermione cursed as she hopped up and down on her left foot. In her rush to leave the Gryffindor Common Room, Hermione had rammed her foot straight into possibly sharpest corner of the most annoying wall in the entirety of Hogwarts Castle-in her opinion anyway.

"Stupid walls! Always jumping out without warning." Hermione kicked the wall angrily with her left foot, yowled in pain and sank to the stone floor. This had not been a good day.

***

She had woken up with a silly, sappy grin plastered on her face and had let it rest there until she remembered why she was doing an amazing impression of the Cheshire Cat: she'd had a sickeningly sweet, saccharine, horribly romantic dream involving a certain red-headed best friend of hers. Score 1 to stupid git Ron, 0 to spineless, weak Hermione. And it was only eight o'clock in the morning.

Then she had nearly fallen down the stairs to the Common Room when she saw the very same Ron Weasley curled asleep in the purple-checkered armchair near the hearth. He'd fallen asleep in front of his old chessboard and army of ruthless chess pieces. But at least Ron hadn't seen her graceless descent from the dorms…he was quite sure to have noticed that she was as red as the Gryffindor crest as she woke him up though. Score 2.5 to Ron 'I look like a cute little disgruntled angel when I fall asleep in the common room chairs' Weasley, still nil to Hermione. As always.

Breakfast was a haze of Hermione spilling her syrup, knocking over her juice, being the only one to laugh at Ron's jokes ("To get to the other side! Get it?"), and dropping her fork-fourteen times. 27 to Ron, a big zippo to Hermione 'You know I hear Antarctica's nice this time of year, I just might move there' Granger.

Classes had passed much the same way. Nothing but a string of disasters that must have made it clear to anyone in Hogwarts who still had doubts that Hermione Granger was hopelessly, helplessly, head-over-heels in love with Ronald Weasley. Even the proverbially clueless Harry Potter was watching her with new realization in his eyes. Score 293 to Ron, nada for our dear, suffering heroine.

***

Hermione groaned and rubbed her eyes. She forced herself to concentrate. She was going to the library to revise her History essay on the House Elf Stampede of 1754. Hermione took a deep breath and stood up. I will not think of *him*. I will think only of Gruppy, the House Elf and his stampede upon the poor villagers of Trensboro. There, not too hard.

"Hermione!" Hermione didn't have to turn around to know who was calling her.

"Yes Ron?" I love you. Damn-point to Ron. Ron walked gingerly up to her and stopped a moment to catch his breath, apparently he'd run to catch her up after she'd left the common room-to avoid him. This brief pause in his speech gave Hermione time to admire the way that one single lock of red hair fell perfectly to rest right above his eyes. Hermione shook herself as she realized that Ron had caught his breath and was currently speaking to her.

"…to help me with my history essay, right?" Hermione just nodded. Let's just hope I never lose the ability to memorize my school books in three reads or less or Ron would never have cause to speak to me again.

Studying with Ron, alone, in the library, in the dark dead of night was of course as difficult as Hermione had imagined it would be. Ron, being Ron, had forgotten his History of Magic Book and had to share with Hermione. This interesting situation resulted in several instances of Hermione's hand brushing Ron's. By the end of it Hermione was positive if she blushed once more, her face just might stay the color of a freshly polished fire engine.

"Grrrrrrrr." Hermione broke from her reverie to see a very distressed Ron growling in frustration at the History of Magic book.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked.

"I can't do this anymore. You know this is the seventh essay I've had this week. My eyes burn from reading, my head hurts from thinking, I don't think I can write a whole page more about why the house elves were recaptured so easily-they didn't have wands and they're only two feet tall-and I can't do this anymore!" Ron looked rather like her little cousin Benjamin did when he couldn't get his jigsaw puzzles to come out right. Hermione giggled slightly at this comparison.

"What?" Ron frowned at her apparent amusement in his time of great despair.

"Nothing, no, um I know what you mean. For once I agree with you. This is a bit much, we do have our O.W.L.'s to worry about and all of our teachers are loading us down with homework. I must say I do really hate these pointless history essays about random, unimportant topics and I hate the professors for not caring how tired we all are and I almost…almost hate school right now as well."

Ron gasped audibly at that. "You, Hermione Granger hate school! Merlin's beard-call the papers!"

"I said almost!" Hermione protested, fighting down a laugh at Ron's reaction of mock disbelief.

"Well if you hate the glories of school, homework, and our illustrious professors," Ron continued smiling broadly, "is there anything left in the world for you to like, cherish and dare I say love?" Ron finished dramatically.

I love you. Ahh life would have been much more blissful and calm if her brain had stopped there, but brains can turn mutinous as well and on this warm spring night, Hermione Granger's brain did not stop that thought, instead, perhaps to torment poor Hermione, her brain sent those words tumbling from her lips before she could stop it.

"I love you." Hermione's hands flew to her mouth, as though she were trying to force those three meddlesome words back down her throat. Her eyes bulged and while at first a sickly cold swept her trembling body, it was quickly replaced by the scorching wave of humiliation.

"Oh…oh no." She whimpered. "Please Ron…just forget I said that…please, please forget that." Hermione turned, wiping the sting of inevitable tears from her eyes. She had just begun to stumble her way out of the library when Ron's firm voice stopped her.

"No." Why? Why is he *always* torturing me?

"Ron please," Hermione started, still not turning to face him…though she didn't have to for a moment later Ron had crossed the room, seized the hand that wasn't brushing away tears, and spun her around.

"I don't want to forget." Ron whispered. Hermione nearly choked on the next breath that was issuing from her lungs at the sight of Ron's pure blue eyes. She nearly melted as Ron's hand alighted softly on her cheek. And she nearly fell to the floor as Ron kissed her for the first time.

When they broke apart, Hermione lifted her hand to her heart, which didn't seem to appreciate the cage of ribs holding it in place.

"Are you alright?" Ron inquired as he noted her fluttering hand.

"Yes." She replied shyly. "I'm just checking to see that my heart hasn't exploded."

"Exploding heart eh?" Ron grinned cheekily. "That might be something worth seeing." Hermione would have protested at Ron's desire to see her cardiovascular muscle burst were it not for two things. 1) She realized almost immediately that he was joking and 2) Ron was kissing her so hard, Hermione couldn't protest much of anything.

Score 57 billion to Ron, and Hermione couldn't have cared less.

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~~Thank you so much for reading, if you wouldn't mind reviewing now, I'd be very grateful. And huge thanks and many hugs to Lily's Angel, Heir of Darkness, Fallen*Angel, Nagh, Harimad Sol, Fawkes, and Anna Celeste Potter for reviewing my last story, "Eight", morbid though it was. Thanks again everyone and have a great summer! Woo hoo! Free at last!~~