Notes: Written for Puguita's birthday.
She hates her hair. Ron knows this, although he's never quite figured out why. If anyone has a right to hate his hair, Ron thinks, it's him. All that flaming orange -- who'd want hair like that?
But her hair is glorious, bushy brown and soft to the touch on the few occasions he's had the chance to sample its texture. He's never told her how he likes her hair, mostly because he doesn't have the words. Ron isn't elegant in speech like Hermione, and he fears saying it all wrong -- like he does sometimes -- and making her angry. But Ron notices her hair, and her fair skin, and the other little things about her because Ron notices details. She has a small widow's peak on her high forehead, and the hair curls to the right out of it, her eyebrows look a bit like tadpoles and her eyes are the color of dark Swiss chocolate. Her favorite hair slips are gold with blue-and-pink butterflies on them, and she prefers small earrings to dangley ones. She leans forward when she's excited, or angry, and waggles her eyebrows for emphasis rather too much, but he finds it endearing. She likes pink, and candied violet pudding, and her shampoo smells like lavender. She'd rather eat nuts than sweets and likes almonds better than cashews, but she's the only person he knows who dislikes peanut butter.
Right now, she's ensconced in the toilet with Ginny, who's working at taming the mass of her hair for Bill and Fleur's wedding rehearsal supper, and the two of them would probably be doing it all again tomorrow for the wedding itself. Ron thinks it a waste -- not to mention it ties up the place and he really needs to piss -- but girls would be girls.
They finally emerge to find him standing there, back against the wall, arms crossed. "Are you done finally?" he asks.
"Huh," Hermione grunts and Ginny glares. "You could tell her she looks nice, you know," Ginny advises.
"You look nice,' Ron says obediently -- and she does. The hair is up and smoothed and curled, but really, he prefers her hair down around her shoulders and wild from her hands in it. And he's a little more interested in her dress (or more precisely what's under the white cotton and green velvet) but he knows he'd better not say that. So he just ducks into the empty toilet and shuts the door.
Supper is torture because it's in the back garden and it's summer and it's hot, and he has to be dressed up, and it's fancy food which means he can't really eat enough to be full. To make it worse, Charlie seems to find it funny to give a speech for twenty minutes, coming up with "just one more thing" every time he starts to sit down -- on purpose, of course -- until Bill is hiding his face in his arms on the table and Fleur is tugging on the sleeve of Charlie's robes.
"Finish and shut up," Fleur tells him in her heavy accent.
Ron uses the distraction of everyone's laughter as an opportunity to get more of the cheese-stuffed French crepes, but Hermione is standing near the table so he takes only half as many as he might have otherwise, which means three, not six. She raises an eyebrow anyway, then pointedly gives her attention back to the main table and Charlie.
Ron gives his own attention to her dress -- again -- and how she's filling it out. The way she's filling it out makes him fill out his trousers a bit more than he'd like, too.
Her tits aren't big. Lavender, now . . . Lavender had nice, big tits. Hermione, not so much. But they're hers, and like her hair, he rather likes them because they suit the rest of her. It's not always about the individual parts; it's about how they fit together.
And . . . she's staring right at him as he's staring at her chest.
He hates having skin so fair it burns when he blushes. Desperate for something to distract her, and make him look less like an idiot, he mumbles, "That dress is pretty on you."
She doesn't reply. He shoves half a crepe in his mouth and turns so his back is to her and he can see Charlie again -- who's still talking.
After the supper speeches, the party breaks up, but the sun is still relatively high, being June. Harry is fleeing Ginny (who hasn't entirely resigned herself to his insistence that he can't be involved with her while hunting Voldemort). Hermione, who'd helped his mother bring out all the dinner dishes, is now helping her take them back -- and it doesn't seem fair to Ron that she should have to do both. "I'm really stuffed," he says to her. "Want to go for a walk?"
He stares at him. "I'm sort of busy, Ron."
He shrugs. "Let Gabrielle do it."
She glances around, but then sets down the plates she's picked up, and lets him lead her off toward the gate into the field behind the Burrow. "Did something happen?" she asks in a hushed voice as she follows him. "Is Harry all right?"
"Yeah, Harry's fine," he tells her, absently opening the gate and holding it for her to pass through. "Just, you know, I wanted to take a walk."
She sighs, sounding exasperated. "I thought it was something important, Ronald."
And he's just a little hurt, because it is important. He hadn't wanted her to wear herself out taking a double shift when somebody else ought to be clearing dishes, but he doesn't know how to say that any more than he knows how to tell her he likes her hair down and wild better than he likes it smooth and up.
They walk for a while, not saying anything. Ron has his hands thrust in the pockets of his nice robes and the wind across the field blows Hermione's velveteen dress and musses her hair. She keeps trying to tuck in stray locks. After about the tenth time, he reaches up to pull some of the pins out of it so it all tumbles down over her shoulders.
"Ron!" she gasps.
"Oh, just let it be free," he says. "Looks better."
She glares. "It does not."
"It does so."
Sighing, she shakes it all out and fluffs it with her hands, and he can't help but smile. Just a little. "What are you smirking at?" she asks.
She blows out in exasperation. "Maybe I should just be sensible and chop it all off. It'd be easier to manage --"
"No!" he blurts even before she can finish.
Surprised, she stares at him, pretty pink mouth just a little open. "Why not?"
"Because," he says, and knows it's not an answer.
"That's not an answer," she tells him.
"Because," he says again and feels the flush creep up his neck into his ears. He stares down at the yellow summer flowers in the tall field grass. "Because it's pretty."
"What?" she asks, as if she didn't hear him correctly.
"It's pretty. Your hair. Don't cut it off."
"Are you mad?"
"No," he replies and feels the flush spreading from his ears and neck into his cheeks. "I like your hair," he admits finally.
Her expression is the most curious blend of awe and disbelief and sudden embarrassment. She looks much better when she blushes than he does, he thinks. "At least your hair isn't orange," he tells her.
"I like your red hair," she blurts.
"You don't have freckles."
"Yes, I do."
"Not as many."
"Maybe I like your freckles too."
They stare at each other. Since when had they started arguing about what they liked in the other? He's tempted to tell her he likes her tits too, but doesn't want to be slapped into next week. Yet what was so wrong about liking a girl's tits? It was a compliment, wasn't it?
Without even thinking, they both suddenly lean forward, then he's kissing her -- and how did that happen? But her mouth is as soft as her hair under his hands and all he wants is to run fingers through the mass of it, and pulls her closer. They wind up sitting in the grass and he can't stop kissing her any more than he can stop arguing with her, or noticing her, or caring about her. After a long time, they come up for air. Her dark doe eyes are very wide. He has no idea what his face shows -- probably abject terror because that was the kiss he'd waited what seemed like half his life to get, and he wasn't at all sure she'd let him have another.
But abruptly her lips curl into a smile and he feels his own do the same, however stiffly, the knot of fear in his belly relaxing. She has a dimple on one cheek but not the other, he notices -- although it's not the first time he's noticed.
He knows every little detail about Hermione Granger because he pays attention to things that matter.