Author's Note: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts and theWizarding world are my creation; they belong to J.K. Rowling. The song, "This Ain't a Love Song" belongs to Jon Bon Jovi. The plot is mine, thank goodness.
This is an outtake/companion piece to my story, "Where Do We Go From Here?", which can be found under the stories portion of my profile. This one-shot answers the question of how Ron and Hermione got together while Harry and Ginny were off brooding.
If the love that I've got for you is gone
If the river I cried ain't that long
Then I'm wrong, yeah I'm wrong - this ain't a love song-- Bon Jovi
"Just because it's taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn't mean no one else has spotted I'm a girl!" (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, p. 400, U.S. edition)
She'd thought it had taken him three years to notice. Even now, years after the incident he had not-so-affectionately named the Yule Ball Fiasco, Ron still had to chuckle bitterly to himself whenever that memory was brought to his mind. Hermione – and everyone else, for that matter – had been convinced that Ron had only just noticed that she happened to be a girl, and only after Neville innocently pointed it out by asking her to the Ball. Ron found it laughable...though he had to admit that, unless Harry, Hermione, Ginny, or any of their assorted acquaintances had mastered Occulmency at a very young age, it would have been rather hard to convince someone that Ron did know that Hermione was a girl. Unless they were in his head, of course.
Ron shook his head, inwardly cursing himself and trying to get rid of the memory of one of his major foul-ups where Hermione was concerned. Trying to distract himself, he looked around the yard of the Burrow, where the guests had gathered to celebrate Bill and Fleur's wedding. The event, however, with everyone dressed up and just looking their general best and music flowing from the instruments of the live Wizarding band, only reminded Ron even more strongly of the Yule Ball during his fourth year at Hogwarts. Everyone, it seemed, had paired off for the wedding, like they had for the Ball. Fred and Angelina were currently dancing to music that, if their awkward steps attested to anything, only they could hear. George and Luna Lovegood seemed to be deep into a conversation about only Merlin knew what.
Wait, George and Luna Ron thought absently, making a mental note to tease some information out of his brother at a later point.
Even Percy, after coming to a somewhat icy, yet still polite, reconciliation with the Weasley family for the sake of the wedding, had brought a young woman (quite homely-looking, if you asked Ron, but he knew enough now not to say anything, for fear of Hermione's wrath) who he'd mentioned worked at the Ministry with him. And then there was Harry and Ginny. Ron heaved a sigh as he watched his best mate and younger sister sitting across from each other at one of the tables in the garden, both sneaking looks at the other but pretending (and doing a ruddy awful job at it, Ron noted) they weren't. Just ask her to dance, you idiot, Ron told Harry silently.
Just ask her to dance. Words he wanted to say to Harry because he knew he didn't have the courage to tell them to himself.
Ron ran a hand through his hair. And just like that, there was the memory of the Yule Ball...again. Four hours of sitting miserably in an uncomfortable chair in the Great Hall, watching as Hermione danced the night away on the arm of Viktor sodding Krum. Four hours of wondering what Hermione would do if he simply went up to her and asked her to dance, perhaps shoving the babbling, bumbling, Bulgarian baboon aside roughly as he did so. A sleepless night after the dance of replaying in his mind the blazing row with Hermione in the common room. Contrary to her belief, he did know what the "solution" had been, he did know that she was a girl, had known since he had run into the girls' lavatory during their first year and seen Hermione cowering before a gigantic troll, causing his heart to beat in an unfamiliar pattern.
And now here he was six years later, no closer to telling Hermione how he felt than he had been during the Yule Ball. He knew she was tired of his old stand-by, arguing and poking fun at her rather than having an intelligent conversation. Hell, he was tired of it. But didn't Hermione understand how absolutely rubbish he was with words? She of all people should know that. And not just because of her relationship with Ron. Harry was nearly as incapable of reciting his feelings and innermost thoughts as Ron was. The day that Harry directly told Ginny that he loved her and that was why he'd broken up with her would be the day that Ron went to Hermione and confessed a love that he had felt practically since meeting her on the Hogwarts Express long ago. If Hermione still expected either of her best friends to turn into bloody girls and start pronouncing their love for everyone around them, she obviously had not really gotten to know them well.
But that doesn't mean that she doesn't deserve to hear it at least once in awhile, his inner voice picked at him. Ron growled at his conscience, but the uncomfortable feeling that settled around him spoke the truth. As easily as breathing, Ron's eyes found Hermione. She now sat at the table across the yard from him where Harry and Ginny had been moments ago. Harry, he noticed, had left, instead deciding to play the resident hermit by the edge of the pond underneath a tree. His sister's eyes seemed to follow him for a few moments before she too stood up and practically fled the table.
"Oh, Gin," he murmured, placing himself in her path as she came towards the door to the kitchen. He halfheartedly reached out a hand to try to stop her, not surprised when she shrugged him off.
"Leave me alone," she muttered.
"But – I –" Ron stammered, but she'd already slammed the door. He considered going in after her, but then thought better of it. If Ginny wanted to talk to him, she would, he knew that much from sixteen years of living with her.
He could try talking to Harry...if he wanted to have his bits hexed off, that is. If there was one thing he'd learned about his best friend over the years, it was that when Harry slunk away in the obvious eye sight of others, he wanted to be alone.
That left Hermione. Gulp. There went the flutter in his chest again. Placing a hand gently to his heart, Ron took a deep breath. If he didn't have a sneaking suspicion that this ever-present pattering when he thought of Hermione meant that he was in love with her, he'd be convinced that he had some sort of heart defect.
He knew that he had to talk to her. The three of them would soon be leaving for the Horcrux Hunt and tonight might very well be his last chance to say all that he had been wanting to say to her for years. The only problem, he thought, as his feet were slowly taking him to where Hermione sat, was that while he knew what he wanted to say, he had no idea how to go about saying it. Unless Hermione understood words such as "erm" and "uh."
He reached the table where she was now alone, gazing a bit wistfully at the dancing couples in the center of the yard. Dusk had fallen over the Burrow and for the time being, everything seemed peaceful, as if the world had taken a rest from the war and gained serenity just for the wedding. A slow ballad that Ron didn't recognize was playing, but Hermione seemed to know the words, as she was silently singing along and swaying gently. It occurred to him that, sitting there, her bushy hair pushed back with what he thought Ginny had once called a headband, and a light blue summer dress shimmering over her body and skimming her knees, she had never looked more beautiful. He wanted to tell her this, wanted to make her believe it.
"What did Harry to do to piss off Ginny?"
... But of course something like that would come out of his mouth instead. As he contemplated Apparating as far away as his license would allow him, Hermione seemed to jump in surprise and turned to face him. Her eyes were a bit cloudy, he noted in confusion, but they cleared after a moment.
"Honestly, Ron," she admonished, and just like that, his embarrassment disappeared. Trust Hermione to remind him that some things, namely her ability to scold him no matter the situation, never changed.
"You could have a bit more courtesy towards the two of them. It's not easy, you know, what with Harry ending things and not telling her why. Merlin knows I've wanted to tell Ginny so many times about the Horcruxes but I just know that Harry would murder me and he really doesn't need more –"
"Hermione, must you?" Ron cut in with exasperation. "Now?" His tone wasn't meant to hurt her feelings; he just didn't need to hear Hermione saying the things which he had been thinking for the whole summer.
Her mouth abruptly closed. "You're right," she said quietly. "Anyway, you saw the two of them sitting here, each pretending the other didn't exist."
"You—you saw me?" Ron asked incredulously. "But I wasn't...where were you?"
"Oh, dancing with Charlie," Hermione answered breezily, gesturing to where his older brother now sat with his parents, talking animatedly. "He really is quite a divine dancer, did you know that? Actually, come to think of it, all of your brothers are. Did your mother ..."
She trailed off when she faced Ron again and noticed the dark look on his face.
As Ron was currently entertaining thoughts of slowly torturing each of his brothers in age-order, it took him a few seconds to respond. "And I suppose you were left to wonder how I managed to have two left feet," he surmised icily.
If Hermione was surprised by his tone, she didn't let on. "How would I know," she replied calmly, "Because you and I have never danced with each other."
Yes, we have, Ron answered silently. For the past six years, we've danced with and around each other!
"Oh, and I guess that you—" he began, but was stopped by Hermione's sigh. Peering more closely at her, he noticed the droop of her shoulders, the fiery spark from moments before having vanished from her brown eyes.
"Bloody hell, Ron! What is wrong with us?"
"Hermione!" Ignoring the sorrowful way she'd used the swear word, Ron concentrated on the un-Hermione-like behavior itself. "You—you swore!"
This only seemed to upset her further, however. "Of course I did, Ron. It's what one does when one is upset and there doesn't seem to be another way to express one's emotions with words. I, however, unlike the general populace, usually try to censor myself, but sometimes..."
"I'm sorry!" He interjected with the apology as much to show his newfound resolve to not pick fights with Hermione as he did to shut her up.
"Oh." She stopped her tirade, apparently puzzled. And she had good reason to be. Despite the countless arguments they'd had, the only time Ron had actually apologized was in the hospital wing after he had been poisoned on his birthday.
Ron shrugged uncomfortably. "We're at a wedding, all right?" he said meekly. "Harry and Ginny are miserable enough for the both of us. We don't need me here to bungle things even more."
"We always need you."
The words were soft, nearly silent, but Ron heard them nonetheless. He could feel the heat as he blushed. She had said "we," but they both heard the silent "I." Not knowing exactly what to do, Ron settled for what Hermione was doing – staring out at the couples still swaying to the music. Ron absentmindedly wondered if Fleur had requested that the band play only love songs; it wouldn't surprise him if she had. Not for the first time that evening, Ron imagined himself and Hermione out there, his arms wrapped tightly around her, her hands looped around his neck. He shivered at the thought.
"Hermione..." he began after a few moments. His palms were sweating and he quickly wiped them over his dress pants. "Um, do—do you..."
Hermione turned to look at him, and he'd be damned if there wasn't a spark of hope shining in her eyes. She was looking at him, Ron Weasley, like that, and he suddenly knew that if he could forever have Hermione by his side and looking at him in just that way, he might quite possibly be able to do anything.
Even if it came out as one long, jumbled word delivered without directly looking at the person to whom he was speaking. Ron kept his eyes glued firmly to the tips of shoes, hoping for all he was worth that if he just didn't look at her, Hermione wouldn't notice the dark blush staining his cheeks and making its way down his neck. He wasn't sure how much time had passed now, but surely Hermione had had enough time to say yes or no.
"You—you don't have to...er, that is, I—I've got to prove that I haven't got two left feet, haven't I and I, um—"
"Ron, I would love to dance with you."
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ron knew that for as long as he knew Hermione, which, if everything went according to his plan, would be for the rest of his life and then some, it would never cease to amaze him that he could spend five minutes stuttering his way through an awkward moment and Hermione's voice would still come out clear as a bell.
"Oh," he said, surprised. "You—you would?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, but she was smiling at him. "Yes, Ron, isn't that what I just said? Besides, we just ascertained that the rest of your brothers are wonderful dancers, but you're the only one who I haven't gotten to try with yet."
Ron's nervousness broke. "I lied, Hermione," he said with a sheepish grin. "I really can't dance. At all."
Her smile widened. "Why don't you let me be the judge of that?"
She reached for his hand and Ron jumped. She nearly pulled her hand out of his, but Ron grabbed it again at the last moment, latching on tightly and squeezing it for reassurance. They didn't speak. Ron honestly didn't think he could have. His throat had closed up a bit and he swallowed past a lump in his throat. Together, they walked out to the dance floor to join the other couples entwined with each other and swaying to the music.
At this point, Ron was stuck. Never having danced with a girl besides his mum or Ginny, he didn't know what to do next. Should he just pull Hermione towards him? Or should he wait for her to make a move? At least with chess, it's my decision, he thought.
Hermione solved the problem by reaching up and placing one hand on his shoulder, bringing her other, which was still holding his, up in the air so they were connected. Suddenly, they were dancing. It wasn't so bad, Ron realized in shock. It actually felt quite nice. It was as if he and Hermione were in their own world, apart from everyone else.
She moved in a bit closer, and Ron could suddenly smell the light scent of her perfume. In surprise, he realized that it was the same perfume he'd bought her for Christmas during fifth year. He hadn't expected her like actually like it, let alone keep it for this long. The idea that she had, however, pleased him inordinately and he found himself grinning.
"What?" Hermione asked in confusion, craning her neck to look him in the eye.
He coughed, red tingeing his cheeks yet again. "Nothing," he muttered. "Just...um, you look nice tonight, Hermione."
Her head reared back and her eyes widened to the size of small dinner plates. "All right, who are you and what have you done with Ron?"
"You're always saying that you wish I could be a bit more sensitive," he replied with a casual tone that he didn't actually feel. "My emotional capacity of a teaspoon being as it is, I would think I could stand to change a bit."
She blushed and looked away. "That was over a year ago, Ron," she said quietly.
Hermione paused, biting her lip absently as she did so. Ron felt his throat close up again, and this time more than just his heart tightened. He was briefly grateful that Hermione wasn't standing too close to him. If she felt what that slight move of hers had done to him, she'd likely slap him.
"So," she continued, "I think it's safe to say that you've acquired more than just a teaspoon's worth of sensitivity, all right?"
He could have pecked at her, made her more embarrassed than she already was. And the old Ron Weasley likely would have done so. But the new Ron, the one who had matured in ways even he didn't fully understand yet, knew that this admission hadn't been easy for Hermione, that it had required taking a leap. He knew that the least he could do was to let her know that he was right beside her in the jump.
Without saying a word, he took a deep breath and pulled her closer so that their bodies were resting comfortably against one another. The new position was slightly awkward as they were still holding hands, but Hermione slowly took her hand out of Ron's, and moved it to twine around his neck. In this new position, Ron was able to notice how small Hermione was. Her head lay perfectly in the crook of his neck. We fit, he noted in delight, then just as quickly wanted to punch himself for thinking such girly thoughts. But even so, his mind countered, You can't argue that she feels perfect in your arms.
"Ron?" Her voice drew him out of his thoughts and he looked down at her. "You got very quiet all of a sudden," she added. He could already see the worry starting to appear in her eyes.
"Hermione, I'm sorry for every rude thing I've ever done to you," he found himself saying out loud before he fully knew what he was going to say.
Her mouth dropped open. But she kept silent, apparently sensing that what Ron hoped she'd been waiting to hear for years might finally be put out in the open.
"I know I've said that before," he continued, blushing, "But that's usually when you've finally agreed to look over an essay...and, well, I really mean it. Now. I mean, I did then, of course, but I'm such a git that I always manage to say it and muck things up and—"
"Ron..." Hermione cut in gently, raising her head from the crook of his neck.
Ron, who had already decided that Hermione felt perfect in just that spot, hurriedly changed the direction of the conversation, and lightly pushed her head back down on his shoulder. She didn't argue, instead moving back into the close circle of his arms.
"What I mean to say is that...erm...okay, look. We're leaving with Harry soon, right? And who knows when we'll be back, and if we're ever going to have a chance at a normal life." He paused, gulping in a breath of fresh air.
"But what I know is that in every scenario that we have a chance at a normal life...well, you and Harry. You lot are, you know, there, with me."
The hopeful light in Hermione's eyes seemed to dim a little bit, causing Ron's insides to try to make another flying leap out of his body.
"Of course we'll always be there," she replied softly, and, if Ron noted correctly, a bit disappointedly.
Oh, fuck. Ron's palms started to sweat, but he knew that if he took his hands away from Hermione's to discreetly wipe them on his trousers, she'd likely run away and never speak to him again.
"Bollocks," he muttered, then, gathering every last speck of his Gryffindor, grabbed Hermione and kissed before he (or she) had the chance to realize what was happening.
Kissing Hermione. It was an action he had been pondering carrying out for the past two years, at least. And despite every fantasy he'd ever had about kissing Hermione, nothing compared to the actual thing. Nothing. Her lips were soft and she seemed to be swaying toward him, giving him the pleasure of drawing her even closer to him and tightening his arms around her.
He wanted the kiss to last forever, but Hermione's smile against his lips after a few moments caused him to lift his head. He kept her securely in his arms, though, and smiled down at her.
"Well," he said, "I suppose that's one way of getting my real message across."
This time, he knew that making a joke was the right way to go. Hermione's gaze softened and her face lit up in a smile that Ron didn't think he'd ever seen on her face before. Determined to make sure that that was his smile, Ron leaned in and kissed her again. This time, the two didn't rise for air for quite some time, and just as Ron was this close to forgetting that they were in the presence of other people – his own mum being one of them – Hermione broke the kiss again.
"Wait, wait, Ron, what does this mean? We have to talk about this."
Ah, Hermione. Some things never changed. Ron snorted. "Do we really? I think it's quite obvious where this is going. I've got it all worked out."
She pulled back a little, dropping her arms from around his neck. He fought the urge to grab them and put them back. "Oh, really? And just where, may I ask, is this going?"
Ron blushed, looking away. "Um, well. Like—like I said before, you and Harry, you're always with me." Hermione opened her mouth, but this time Ron knew what he wanted to say and blazed on.
"And what you didn't let me say was that you two are there, but in different ways, Hermione. Harry's my best mate; he always will be. And you—you're...well, you're Hermione. You'll always be with me, but as more of a—a, erm..." He paused and gulped in a breath of fresh air.
"Look, he and Ginny will live down the lane from us, and our kids will grow up together!"
Hermione's mouth dropped open and this time, she stepped a full foot away from him. Ron, growing increasingly dissatisfied with her distance from him, lunged forward and grabbed her hands in his. "You know I've never pretended to be good at this shite," he told her quietly. "But—but, I mean it, all right?"
She cocked her head to one side, considering. "Do you realize," she began in a menacing tone, causing Ron to shiver involuntarily, "How long I've waited for the past ten minutes to happen?" Her voice became lighter and her eyes started to sparkle again.
Ron let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and grabbed her close again. "Anyway," he said, breathing into her hair, "I'm always going to be rubbish at talking, and you're the only person who understands that I don't mean half the things I say. You can never leave."
Hermione giggled. "I suppose there is some truth to that statement."
They kissed again, this time deeper and longer. Ron moaned softly, trying to get as close as he possibly could. His tongue skimmed over Hermione's lips and her soft whimper made Ron want to banish everyone in the wedding party to some location far, far away.
"We should go inside," Hermione murmured, clutching his arms with her hands. Ron groaned at the loss of contact, but nodded briskly, taking her hand and tugging her towards the door of the kitchen.
"Wait," she said, stopping him in his tracks. He turned to look at her, and she reached over and wiped his face. "Honestly, dirt on your nose. How did you manage that?"
Ron grinned, and the look in Hermione's eyes told him that she thought he was smiling like a lunatic. But he found he didn't care.
Some things really never changed. And he and Hermione, together, were one of them.
Author's Note: I realized upon completion of this story that 1) if you read the Harry/Ginny story, you'll note that Ron and Hermione didn't know that Ginny was in the kitchen, and here I have Ron trying to talk to Ginny as she runs away. That's an honest "oops," but I didn't feel it necssary to change it, and 2) my endings are way cheeseball-ey. I'm sorry.