A/N: Special thanks goes to some of my friends who've helped me during the writing process. To pili204, belovedranger, and rubraaura for their valuable editing work and suggestions. Without this trio I wouldn't have anything published. Thanks also goes to my good friend queenb23 for her suggestions and encouragement, and to my cosmic sister RedSioda for supporting me when this fic took its first steps. And last but not least, many thanks to CM because it rocks!
It's been two bloody long months of non-stop research, and we still don't have a clue as to where to start looking for the Horcruxes. We have been cooped up in the Hogwarts' library since the end of the summer, and so far there have no important findings Professor McGonagall agreed to let use the resources we needed, and we have been here ever since.
thought the Hogwarts' Library would be the best place to get the
most amount of information about the Horcruxes. Much to Hermione's
chagrin we decided not to go back to school as students, we're all
of age and Professor Lupin had helped us get the access needed to the
Restriction Section. I'd never thought the Hogwarts' library
could have so many books about Dark Magic.
My best mate is getting desperate, hell, we all are. Hermione barely has time for anything other than reading and more reading. I know it's important, but I worry she's going to make herself sick.
I look over my shoulder and notice how tired her face looks; she has bags under her eyes and she's thinner than ever. It's quite obvious how exhausted Hermione is, but also how very beautiful she is despite the sign of stress in her face. Her cheeks are lightly flushed from the heat of the autumn sun, which is now shining through the big window near her favorite place at that library. She told me once this was her favorite spot because she could have access to more natural light, which was better for reading.
After checking book after book for three long hours, lunchtime has passed us by and the only one who's noticed is my growling stomach. My stomach is now telling me I'd better get some food fast, but the best friend sitting next to me is much more important now. Hermione is so passionate about books and anything related with learning that she could easily do without eating for hours without really feeling hungry.
My best friend. Who am I kidding? She's the girl I
love, and I need the courage to tell her before some clever and
handsome git decides to take her away from me.
I scrunch up my eyebrows, determined to see that she takes better care of herself. I let out a little nervous cough. I'm not sure how she'll take my concern, but I've got to try.
"Do you want to take a break? I think you should at least eat a snack. You look pale, Hermione."
Hermione closes the Dark Spells book that she's been reading for the past three hours, and gives me the kind of smile that makes my insides all tense.
Hermione shrugs as if not really caring one way or the other. "Okay. I need got to the bathroom anyway. I promise to get a snack before coming back."
I'm relieved she took my advice without getting
angry with me. Since my poisoning accident last year and my break-up
with Lavender, things between us became pleasant, almost back to
normal. I try to avoid getting into rows with her because it could
only mean more "Without Hermione" time, and I'm sick and tired
of all those months I wasted dating Lavender and missing Hermione
like mad. I don't want a repeat of that situation,
Hermione stands up and smiles shyly before leaving the library. I'm in awe as her bushy hair bounces over her shoulders. I like her hair loose; it suits her intense determination about achieving the things she wants in life. I wonder if she's as determined about changing our relationship as I am. The problem is what if she doesn't fancy me anymore? I have been a git waiting to reveal the nature of my feelings for her.
She is so clever, helpful and so…gorgeous. She deserves the best.
I cover my face with my hands, feeling stupid.
Well done, Weasley! I
can't even hold an interesting conversation with her. "You look
pale." What's that? Rubbish, just rubbish! It's the truth, but
I could have praised her about something instead of telling she
wasn't looking her best. Bugger.
I sigh and open the book Hermione left on the table. I try reading it, but I close it again because I can't seem to focus. Hermione's lovely brown eyes and her gorgeous smile don't leave my mind.
Suddenly, I hear footsteps approaching the corner of the library where I'm sitting. It can't be Hermione returning; she hasn't been gone long enough to have eaten a snack, and she wears shoes with rubber soles. This sound is made by large heeled shoes. It seems to be the same kind of sound that is made by the shoes of the "Queen of Bookworms."
"So Mr. Weasley, when you will tell Ms. Granger the truth?"
I'm startle by the female voice that I've heard so many times before. It might be because it's the first time the voice is talking to me directly, and not because she's looking for a book or demanding me to lower my voice.
I gulp and try to smile at Madame Pince. She's wearing a white blouse buttoned up to her neck with a matching long grey skirt and those black "sound machine" shoes. I wonder why a librarian wears the kind of shoes that make much more noise than most of students make when they talk in the library. Well, sometimes that sound makes the students lower their voices to avoid getting into trouble. Madame Pince is now approaching the chair Hermione was sitting on a couple minutes ago. I'm trying to digest the question she has just asked. No, she can't really mean what I think she does.
"May I sit, please? "
I nod and she gives a weak smile. I didn't know she knew how to smile.
"Are you still thinking about an answer to my question? It seems you are worse than I ever imagined, Mr. Weasley. After almost seven years everyone, but you, can see that you fancy Miss Granger. You must really need my help then."
I shift my weight in the chair, feeling very uncomfortable. Bloody hell! What's come over Madame Pince? Was she hit by a Cruciatus curse or something? I can't talk to her, not about this. It's Madame Pince for Merlin's sake – that's just weird. Besides, Hermione can come back any moment now.
Madame Pince seems to be reading my thoughts. She's studying my face as she pushes her glasses up her nose. Her face becomes softer, less rigid when she looks at my eyes.
"No worries, Mr. Weasley. We can stop our chat when she comes back. It's a promise."
gulp as I realize I can't escape now. How long has she been
planning on having this conversation with me? Bugger. Where is
Hermione when I need her?
Madame Pince takes a deep breath. "Look, Mr. Weasley. I only want to help you, and I think I can do it. I don't think you or Ms. Granger will be annoyed by my interference. I know that you're probably thinking that I'm an old woman who's extremely nosy about your life. But you know, Mr. Weasley, I'm more than an old librarian who finds refuge in her books."
I see her pause and look at me cautiously before she continuing.
"Believe me, I'm not as old as I seem, and because I care about you and Ms. Granger I need to say what I'm saying to you now. I'm sorry for being so exasperated with you all these years, but I can't allow students to take advantage of me because there would be no respect in the library. Teenagers love breaking rules, and I feel very comfortable following them in my everyday life. But that doesn't mean that I don't have feelings like everyone else."
I nod again. It won't hurt to listen, and I really need to do something about my feelings for Hermione. She really does she care about us. Harry wouldn't believe any of this!
I hear Madame Pince cough softly. "Please, listen to me. I can't watch you postponing your happiness without first giving you some friendly advice."
Madame Pince pauses. It seems like she needs time to collect her ideas. She picks up my quill and begins playing with it as she says, "All my life I've been here helping students find the right books or giving advice about what would be the right book for a specific subject. During this time I've also observed each Hogwarts student's studying habits. Sometimes I can even read their mood, the likes or dislikes just by a simple observation. I can read in most of the students' eyes who they fancy, who they can't stand, what things they enjoy to do or hate because students spill many of their secrets in whispering tones inside a library."
She reaches across and pets my arm. I look down at the book under my hands
"I'm going to tell you a little story to make my point. It won't take much of your time."
I give her all my attention. "Go ahead, Madame Pince. I'm all ears."
Merlin, Hermione where did you go besides the bathroom? Are you out eating a feast?
Madame Pince looks sadly out the window.
"When I was eighteen I met a wonderful and handsome young man that years later became my husband. His name was Joseph, and he was a librarian in Hogsmeade. The first time we met was when I was checking out some new books for Hogwarts."
Her eyes are sad but her smile is genuine, almost peaceful. I can't help myself; I now want to hear her story.
"Joseph was twenty-three and already one of the best librarians in England. He was Muggle born and had studied at Hogwarts like I did. He was very clever and could talk about almost about any subject. When he wasn't sure about something, he would spend many sleepless nights reading in order to learn about it."
She seems to wake up from a dream when she says, "Hermione reminds me of him. That's why I've so observant of you two all these years; it brings back memories. I didn't like studying much, and became a librarian because I needed a job and this one was the one available that time.
Let me make this quick, so I won't bore you anymore. It took a while before Joseph and I started dating. I was much too insecure, and I thought a wonderful man like him would never fancy a woman like me. I was wrong, and we wasted so much time after all…"
After listening for a while without interrupting her, I need to ask her the question I'm most curious about.
"Excuse me, Madame Pince but why are you're talking about Joseph in the past?"
Madame Pince bites her lower lip. "That's why I wanted talk to you, Mr. - can I call you by your first name?"
I sit upright at my chair. "Sure, Madame Pince."
I scratch my head and still wonder why Madame Pince is so interested in talking to me about Hermione. What does her husband have to do with anything?
"Joseph and I dated six months after dancing around each other for about six years. We were married for five years until the day he died, due to a cerebral tumor. It was quick and so hard, Ron. Suddenly I found myself alone, without my love, and…. pregnant."
She takes a deep breath and swipes away a lone tear that escapes her eye. "I lost my baby girl before she was even born. The emotional wreck I felt when Joseph died was too much too handle and my baby suffered the consequences. Ron, what I want say to you is that you can't postpone your happiness with Hermione. We are living in a time of war, and we can't be sure if we'll wake up the next day. Think about that, please."
Madame Pince looks over at the book Hermione was reading earlier.
"Oh, this book is perfect to search for information about Protective charms. Well chosen."
the book towards me and think about Hermione.
She is everything to me. Maybe Madame Pince is right, and it's about time I do something to change our relationship. It's time I stop being a coward.
I'm about to thank her for the advice, when she starts talking again. "My husband and I fell in love at first sight..." I see her smiling dreamily. "Maybe I should have taken a second look - that's what my mother always said," she finishes shaking her head. "My mother wrongly thought I could find a better man, a more deserving love. I remember answering her that I never needed to take a second look, because the little time of happiness I shared with him was worth it. Not enough, but worth it.
After his death I fell in love with the library. The fact that I can touch books everyday makes me feel closer of Joseph. But you're healthy and alive, young man, and out there's a wonderful young woman waiting for you to take your that first step forward. Do it, Ron, or you could regret the time wasted. I'm always going to regret those six years I wasted. If I had been bolder about approaching Joseph then… maybe we would at least have had time to share the happiness of having a baby together."
I have a lump in my throat, and I can't stop looking at her. Her eyes are showing so much of something really beautiful. I can't quite explain it, but every time she says her husband's name a myriad of emotions invades her eyes.
Madame Pince wipes away a stubborn tear with her thumb and shakes her head
"Forgive this old lady. Oh, Hermione is coming back."
I look over my shoulder and see Hermione walking toward us. She has something wrapped in a napkin which she hands over to me, smiling shyly.
"I know you're starving. I'm sorry it took me such a long time to come back, but I went to the kitchen and prepared your snack myself."
I grab the hand in which she's holding the napkin and squeeze it softly in gratitude. She blushes, but doesn't make a move pull her hand away. My heart is beating so fast that I'm afraid she can hear it. I avoid Madame Pince's gaze; I'm sure she's noticed the red color of my ears. I'm very glad when Madame Pince decides to go back to her desk.
"Thanks, Hermione. Er…Would you fancy a walk near the lake while I eat my snack?"
Hermione agrees as she hesitantly pulls her hand away from my grasp. She's putting away her things, stuffing them into her oversized bag. Madame Pince winks at me as she walks away. Who could have believed that a woman like her would end up giving me the push I need?
I feel a new sense of hope. I want to tell Hermione how I feel as soon as I can. I think I can make her happy because she makes me happy. Postponing this is making us both unhappy. I've been such a big prat.
I approach Madame Pince's desk before heading out the door and whisper, "You're right. Thanks. I'm taking your advice."
She smiles and whispers back, "No problem. I hope both of you can be happy together." She really does have a nice smile. "And seeing as you're a Weasley…. I wish that once you're together, you'll have many babies."
That's a scary thought, but I can't help but chuckle. I place my hand on Hermione's back to lead her out of the library. I'm going to tell her later. Once Harry goes to up to bed way too early to mope, we'll have time alone, and that'll be the perfect time. Maybe I'm being selfish but it's settled. I have to take advantage of my mate's bad mood and tell Hermione about my feelings for her.
Hopefully Harry and Ginny can sort out their differences soon. Once this crazy hunt and the war are over we can all be safe and alive.
At least I hope it can happen.
The night is dark except for a few scattered stars. A gentle breeze dances around the trees, shaking the tents we have set up. Harry conjured a fire in the middle of the woods so we can all warm up. It's chilly out here.
Harry has his usual thoughtful look of the last two moths. Hermione has tried to speak to Harry, trying to get him to talk about what's worrying him beside the Horcruxes, but I've made sure she does not push him too much.
I know what's bothering him so much. He has written to my sister often, but I'm sure he misses her badly. At least he's keeping her informed, and I know my sister surely feel some comfort every time she receives some news.
Harry says good night, and goes into his tent. It's upsetting to see him so detached, but he needs time alone. There are times when a person needs to be in silence with his problems, times when talking does not help much. I know that feeling very well, but for someone who knows and likes to talk about feelings and stuff, like Hermione, is hard to accept and understand his behavior.
I wish all this bloody Horcrux hunt was over with already, that and Voldemort is eliminated forever from our lives. I'm tired of fighting and of being afraid for my family and best friends' lives. I'm especially afraid for my love's life. Being close to Hermione makes me not fear anything, but I know I'm not immortal and she isn't either. I'm terrified for her; I can lose her.
These fears fill my nightmares and I just can't get back to sleep after I abruptly wake up. Usually, Hermione enters my tent and calms down my panic. She holds me and kisses my cheeks and forehead with feather like kisses that make me forget all our problems, makes me forget all my nightmares about loosing her. Her chaste kisses never fail to remind of the first kiss she gave me back in our fifth year right before my first Quidditch match.
One night she fell asleep next to me, her hand grasping my own. It was amazing to wake up feeling her body pressed against mine. There was only a thin sheet separating us, and I could feel all of her warmth.
When Harry saw us coming out of my tent together, he smirked. The prat actually smirked. And then he had the nerve to say that we should enlarge the tent for the both of us.
Hermione'd blushed and rapidly entered into her own tent without a word. I then poked Harry in the ribs, and he winked at me. I explain to him that nothing had happened. He said I didn't need explain anything to him. What I needed was to tell her, and that's all
In that moment listening to Harry's advice, I remembered Madame Pince's very similar advice. They are both right. Hermione and I don't have anything to lose. I'm pretty sure we both know how we feel about each other since that messy Krum-Lavender-Comarc's trilogy chain of events.
We've waited since then because we had to get back our friendship, fix what had been damaged. I'm feeling ready. Well, no. Not really. I'm quite panicked, but I have to do something. Hermione took the first step when she invited me to Slughorn's´s party. If only she hadn't hid the fact that she snogged Krum… Stop, Ron. Now it isn't the time to think about that.
I'm sitting close to Hermione on a blanket that's covering the dirt. She's is holding out a cup for me to pour some tea from the kettle I have in my hand. While I'm filling up her cup, she smiles. I'm mesmerized by that smile, and I forget that I'm pouring hot liquid until the tea spills over to my right hand. "Ouch!"
I shake my hand trying to cool it down, but it's only gets worse. Drops of hot tea splash onto my upper lip. I gulp a girly kind of scream. Instead, I only allow myself to moan in pain. Hermione holds my burned hand on hers gently.
"Oh Ron, I'm sorry. Let me help you."
Using her wand, she quickly conjures a Healing charm. There is a small burn in my upper lip, and I do want her to keep taking care of me. So I touch my lip with my fingers and moan pretending that it hurts much than it really does.
"Damn! I m so stupid, this is really painful."
Hermione looks at me with a smirk. "Oh poor thing, it's a huge burn indeed. What can I do to make you feel better? Maybe I could kiss the spot where it hurts, you know, like children when they're hurt?"
I freeze as I listen to her suggestion. When she realizes what she's said, her eyes open wide and she avoids looking at me. Thankfully she doesn't let go of my hand.
Without saying a word, I squeeze her hand. We exchange a look that's more like permission for what's about to happen next.
With a shy look, Hermione takes my hand and softly brings it up to her lips. She kisses my hand tenderly, and once again I'm reminded of how soft her lips are from the memory that's ingrained in my mind since that good luck kiss she gave me back in our fifth year. I want to say something but my brain has stopped functioning properly, and I can only can feel and react.
Hermione is looking at my hurt lip. "Feel better?"
I touch my burned lip and gulp. "Yeah. Can you…?"
I don't need to finish the sentence because Hermione does the sexiest thing I've ever seen her do. She approaches me cautiously and gives me a kiss that lands half in my nose and half in my upper lip.
It's a soft, warm, and lingering kiss. I've died and gone to heaven.
I feel my body warming up, and it isn't from the fire. She pulls back and I can see her cheeks are a bit flushed but her pleading look makes me want to keep going. This is it. There isn't any going back. After all, we don't need to say anything more, do we?
Six years of sharing our lives, sharing happy and sad moments, our victories and defeats. There's been hesitations and jealousy. In these six years we've learned about ourselves, learned enough about each other to get to this point.
It's my turn to move, so I inch closer to her, tilting my head up for our lips to finally meet. It's what I've always dreamed of.
We keep kissing, just moving our lips slightly. When I feel her hand touch my neck, I deepen the kiss.
When I feel her tongue against mine, the world stops and we start to build a new one of our own. Without stopping our kiss, I pull her to my lap and she holds me tight.
We pull apart to come up for air. Hermione smiles shy and I grin. I noticed she is crying, but I know those are tears of joy. I caress her cheek with my thumb and kiss her nose. "I swear I tried to say the right words, but you know me; I'm hopeless with flowery words. Sorry."
Hermione puts her arms around my neck and kisses me again. Her warm, soft lips are intoxicating. I can't put together a coherent thought when she does that. Feeling her pressed against my body is really bloody amazing! I'm already regretting not taking this decision earlier. Wise Madame Pince…
"Ron, with the way you look at me, care about me, and the way you kiss me…you don't need to say an elaborate speech. I think we already have said so much through our actions all these years, don't you think?"
I kiss her eyelashes, then her nose, and her lips again. "I have to say some words, though."
Hermione winks at me. "I think you've already said them to me when I saved your homework from another one of the twins' creations. When you signed as Roonil Wazlib, remember?"We both laugh and she snuggles into my arms. Her hair smells so good. Cinnamon, it's that intriguing smell I sniffed in that Slughorn's class. The Amortentia potion was driving me crazy with the many smells that were attacking my nose at the same time: my mum's chocolate cake, the smell of the grass from the Quidditch Pitch, and cinnamon. Now I know it comes from Hermione's shampoo.
I look at Hermione eyes, and I still can't believe we're here, together, like this. "I love you Hermione. Always have and always will. Do you want to share your life with me?"
Hermione kisses the small burn in my hand. "I love you too, Ron, and I think we've been sharing our lives for a long time now."
My hand touches her back, and it starts moving in gentle caressing circles. "I really want to share everything with you: things like moments where I get to snog you senseless and one day shag…yeah, you know what I mean."
I feel my ears redden, and Hermione looks a bit shocked with my hint but also a bit pleased. She gives me a cheeky smile. "I want to share everything with you, too."
I grin and wiggle my eyebrows playfully. "How about sharing a proper snog between two old friends that have begun dating?"
Hermione rests her head in my chest. I feel her voice vibrating against my heart. "Well, what are you waiting for, Mr. Weasley?"
I oblige; this is the way I always wanted it to be. Although a dark future is in our way, I don't mind fighting against it all. Bad bad things can happen to my family, friends and my girlfriend, but I'll do my best to protect them all.
My love. My Hermione. I really like how that sounds.
Later, before we get to sleep in our separate tents, I tell her who helped me with that bit of wise advice.
Hermione is surprised, but pleased to hear Madame Pince's story. Hermione sheds some tears at the end of the story just like I thought she would.
I really hope Harry, Hermione, and I can help to destroy all of the Horcruxes and especially destroy Voldermort. With that taken care of we can all more on with our lives. Hopefully I can see:
Ginny getting Harry back.
Harry getting the family he's never had.
Me giving the world to Hermione.
Hermione making me the happiest of the blokes.
Madame Pince giving me a new subscription of The Quidditch through the Ages magazine.
And especially I want to one day give the world a new Weasley-Granger healthy and happy dynasty. A new generation who I'm sure will bravely fight against the injustices and evil magic. With the clever touch of my Hermione living in each of our children and grandchildren and the loyal touch of myself, the world can be a better place to live.
At least I hope so.