JKR's characters and world. She'd be horrified if she ever saw this! J This should explain a bit about Ron and Hermione's row in Chapter 2 of 'Alpha and Omega'

The Decision

Ron Weasley lay on his bed, hands cushioning his head, and stared blankly at the bright orange colour of the ceiling above him. This room was the same as it had been since he was eleven, although worn now, like a lot of his stuff. Some of the paint was peeling away in the corner, little flakes hanging by threads, revealing the white underneath of the coat. It was almost like Hermione's suntan from last term, Ron reflected. There were the regular parts that had caught the sun and some tantalising glimpses of the whiteness of the parts that certainly hadn't. A smirk flickered around the corners of his mouth at the memory.

He'd been going out with Hermione for almost two years now, and with one thing and another it had been quite an eventful time. The struggle with Voldemort was intensifying in the world around them, and there had certainly been some near misses in the past year or so. When Ron stopped to think about it, it was nothing short of a miracle that they were all alive, Harry especially.

He rolled restlessly onto his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows, gazing out through the window. He didn't want to remember all that, not now. He could remember lying like this with Hermione on the lawns outside Hogwarts on those sunny days when they were trying to revise. That had been nice. Not like today. The sky outside was a steely grey, angry clouds swirling and heralding the arrival of a thunderstorm to break the oppressive heat of the last few days. He stared at the outline of one cloud as it drifted past his open window, and his eyes widened. That looked exactly the same shape as Hermione's…

No, he couldn't keep thinking like that. He couldn't. She'd kill him if she knew what he was imagining, and she probably knew some pretty inventive hexes. That was the worst part about having someone as clever as Hermione for your girlfriend. He got to his feet and began wandering round his room. He needed something to do, something to take his mind off things. He could go and annoy Ginny, tease her a bit about Harry or something; but he didn't really feel like the company right now. Maybe he should sort his trunk out? He opened the lid, faced the chaos inside, including a tattered copy of The Standard Grade of Spells Book 6 that had been tossed on the top. Ron grinned at the textbook, remembering what had happened last time he'd worked from it with Hermione, remarkably thankful that the book couldn't repeat the tale when he handed it on to Ginny in the autumn.

Slamming the lid shut, he sat on it and regarded the photograph on his chest of drawers. It depicted himself, Harry and Hermione shortly after their O.W.L.s, when all three were in particularly high spirits and his little sister had been still cooped up in the hospital wing. Hermione looked gorgeous in that photograph, and Ron loved watching her in it. Her hair flew around her, the daily static seeming more like a sprinkling of fireflies as it caught the evening sunlight, her smile made his heart quicken. If he watched for long enough, there was a fleeting glance directly at him, that intimate expression of knowing and need, which only he knew; the look that made his blood pound deafeningly in his ears.

"Shut up, you stupid feathery git," he yelled suddenly at Pigwidgeon, as the tiny owl began to hoot noisily, fluttering and bouncing against the confines of his cage. Ron shoved a few owl treats through the bars. What he really wanted to do with Hermione made him blush furiously, even though there was no one to overhear his silent thoughts. He wanted more than the cuddles and kisses that had become so much part of their lives; he wanted her… all of her… he wanted to show her how much he loved her. His mind played traitorously with some possible scenarios causing him to redden further. He wanted to… No! – He needed a cold shower.

"Dear Hermione…"

Ron began his seventh draft of a letter to his girlfriend, previous pieces of parchment scrumpled up and littering his desk. He would have never thought that a letter could be so difficult. He dipped his quill thoughtfully back into the ink bottle, and wondered how he was going to phrase this.

"Hope you're having a good summer so far. Things are pretty boring here without you, everyone's at work and all Ginny does is mope around about Harry. I got an owl from him yesterday and he seems to be OK, even if he isn't very happy, with the Muggles…"

So far, so good, Ron reflected reading the paragraph back through, but the next part was going to be more difficult.

"I wanted to know if you would come here for the last four weeks of the holidays. Mum and Dad say it's fine, and it means we'll be able to give Harry a proper birthday for a change, because he's getting here on 30th. You've got to put up with sharing a room with Ginny, I suppose…"

It was with extreme difficulty that he restrained himself from adding that he'd rather share a bedroom with her any day. He was acutely aware of what he was writing, and this was a first for him. He wanted to tell her everything he was feeling, or at least the less graphic version of his imaginings, but hadn't got the first idea of how to go about it. Not for the first time, he actually wished she was there to talk to. He sighed and dripped splots of purple ink on the parchment.

"Hermione, you know the end of last term when we…" Ron pulled a face of exasperation at the parchment before he continued. "spent that time together down by the lake. You said you enjoyed it being just the two of us. I was wondering if we could do more of that this summer; see more of each other."

He froze. Yes he did want to see more of Hermione, a whole lot more, like when she was in Muggle summer clothes and not hidden by those long black Hogwarts robes, or hopefully even less. No, he couldn't talk to her about this in a letter. He'd better stick to describing the summer and worry about everything else when she arrived. Ginny had found some caves hewn into the craggy slopes along the river, and he was keen to take a look. Maybe Hermione would be interested in coming with him; she'd be bound to know something about how they were made or why they were there. Feeling encouraged, he scribbled onwards.

"I can't imagine Ginny and Harry wanting to join in with what I've got planned, so basically no one will disturb us. We can wander wherever we want to, maybe explore some new things together, discover stuff I've been hearing about. I'd like that. I want to go further than we've been when you've visited The Burrow before, and I think that's something that might interest you too. I'm sure you'd enjoy it."

He nodded his head in satisfaction. At least he'd managed to keep off the topic of sex, which wasn't easy given his current state of mind. He'd better quit whilst he was ahead.

"Let me know what you think. Love, Ron."

He was just settling down to re-read it when his door was flung open and his little sister bounced in and threw herself on his bed.

"You've not seen Hedwig, have you?" she asked anxiously. "I've not heard from Harry for a couple of days, and I'm worried."

"I got one from him yesterday," Ron teased. "What's it worth to let you read it?"

"Me not telling Hermione what a git I've got for a brother," she retorted, stretching out her hand for the letter. Ron tossed it over, and rolled up his own note, tying it securely to his owl's leg, watching as the tiny bird flew off into the overcast evening sky.

Hermione's response arrived at breakfast time two days later and was brief and to the point.

"Ron,

What do I think? I think I'm going to KILL you on 30th July.

Hermione."

Ron awaited Hermione's arrival with some trepidation. It was blatantly obvious that she was upset with him, but for once he hadn't got a clue about what he'd done wrong. She'd been fine before he'd written to her, and it couldn't have been anything he'd said in the letter because he'd been really careful with that. Harry had just gone barrelling out of the kitchen door with the stupid grin he always got on his face when he was thinking about Ginny, and Ron couldn't help feeling a bit jealous. It should be like that for them too, not all these stupid rows. He didn't want to argue with her; he wanted to make her feel special and loved, but there wasn't much chance of that given her current mood.

He looked up at a sudden noise from the fireplace and saw Hermione straightening up next to her trunk, her lips pressed tightly together.

"Hi there," he said nervously, hurrying over to help her move her luggage out of the way.

"We need to talk," she said firmly, shaking her bushy brown hair back from her face. "I'll go and say hello to your mum, and then I really do think there are a few things we need to get put straight, Ron Weasley." Ron nodded mutely, and once she's come back in from where his mother was hanging out the laundry, he followed her through the rambling house up to his room, closing the door firmly behind them.

This was what he had been fantasising about all summer: to have Hermione alone in his room, but, even he had to admit, the ambiance needed a lot of work. He smiled apologetically at her; she sighed heavily, pulling his letter from her pocket and threw it at him.

"What's going on, Ron?" she asked quietly. "Your letter was pretty surprising, to say the least."

"It was?" he echoed, unravelling the piece of parchment and scanning through it. "I just wrote about coming here and what we could do once you got here."

"Exactly," she replied crisply, sounding vaguely reminiscent of Professor McGonagall.

"What's wrong with that?" Ron asked in bewilderment, running his hands through his hair. "I didn't say anything I shouldn't have. I thought we could do some new stuff and it would make the summer a bit more fun."

"Fun?" Hermione's voice rose several notches in the fury that had obviously been building up over several days. "You could have at least discussed it with me first. Or are you just presuming that I'll automatically swoon at the thought of having sex with you?"

"Sex?" Ron stammered, feeling his face heat up instantly, and with another quick glance at the letter, he saw how she had arrived at that conclusion and groaned.

"Well don't say it as if it's never crossed your mind before," she snapped. "You could at least have the decency to admit it."

"Of course it's crossed my mind," he yelled at her, feeling nettled by her accusation. "What do you expect? You spend parts of last term dragging me off into empty classrooms for a bit of privacy, and you expect the idea never to occur to me?"

"At the very least I expected you to tell me the truth about how you were feeling," she shouted back.

"The truth?" he spluttered. "You want the truth? I want you so much it hurts, Hermione. Yes, I want to make love with you, but what's so wrong with that? And you know what? Sometimes I think you feel the same way."

"I don't know what made you think that!" Hermione snapped. "I've never done anything to give you that impression and you know it!"

"That's not the point," Ron protested vehemently. "Hermione!"

"What?" she gasped. "It's bad enough having you saying all this stuff, but to actually believe it!"

"Well, it is true," he said, and was surprised to hear him sounding so certain of himself. "Isn't it?"

"How dare you!" she hissed. "If this is how you think of me, well… well, I'm not sure there's any point in-"

"Will you listen, for once?" Ron interrupted furiously. "I've thought about nothing else all summer, Hermione. This is driving me mad." There was a pause, and he looked at her trembling in front on him. He reached out and caught her hands in his, making her look up at him, his voice softening as he added, "You know how I feel about you, and that's not going to change, whatever you say."

"I know," she said, sighing heavily, and squeezing his hands. "And I feel the same, but Ron…"

"I know you're right," he said, moving across the room with her. "I s'pose I… I should've thought more about how I said things in that letter."

"It's not just that," she replied. Ron was relieved to hear that her rage appeared to be subsiding as well. "What would've happened if Pig had delivered it to the wrong person? You know what he's like."

"Yeah," he said blushing furiously at the thought. "You've made it pretty clear what you think about the whole thing."

"No I haven't," her voice said, so softly he could barely hear her. "Ron, I…I'm not sure what I think about this. I need more time."

"I'm sorry," he muttered, perching on the bed next to her and hugging her close. "I've really stuffed things up this time. I've been a real git to you, haven't I?."

"Not really," she chuckled, the tension evaporating. "A lot of what you said was true. We'll talk more about it later, though. Harry'll be back soon. You haven't forgotten it's his birthday tomorrow, have you?"

"Would I?" he protested sounding quite injured by the suggestion. He leaned his head against hers and whispered, "I'm not going to rush anything, Hermione, I promise."

At that moment they heard footsteps thudding up the stairs towards them, and they exchanged small smiles before the door burst open and Harry wandered in, dripping water everywhere.

The sun was blazing, a dazzling spotlight in the deep blueness of the sky, but it was cool in the woods beyond the orchard, shafts of sunlight diluting the shade and casting dancing patterns of brightness on the ferns which covered the ground. Ron wound his way down the slightly worn path with Hermione, steering well clear of the river where he knew Harry and Ginny would be. After the tempestuous beginning to Hermione's stay, they needed a bit of time alone, just to be. He'd play Quidditch with Harry later.

He grinned over at Hermione, who was looking calm and relaxed, and headed off the path, through the undergrowth, to a rocky outcrop in a little clearing, and threw the tattered tartan rug out on the ground. They settled down, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight, and the solitude of the place, fronds being squashed beneath their weight. Lying back, Ron sighed in contentment, and stretched, enjoying the blissful sensation.

"Ron," Hermione lay on her side and looked seriously at him.

"Mmm?" He responded, squinting up at her. He saw the expression on her face, and sat up sharply. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing really," she smiled at him, and then wrinkled her brow. "I'm sorry, for the other day. I said a lot of things I shouldn't have."

"Is that all?" he laughed. "I do it all the time, you should know that by now. I wouldn't even bother thinking about it again, Hermione."

"I was awful to you," she said, still looking troubled. "And it wasn't your fault either. I mean, you obviously didn't intend to say what you did in the letter."

"I might not have, but my subconscious certainly did," he grinned. He ran his hand down her bare arm and felt her quiver beneath his touch. "I meant what I said, though. This has to be right for both of us, and if that means waiting, then it's something worth waiting for. OK?" He kissed her gently, and felt her arms slide gently around his neck.

"And what happens if," Hermione began, kissing him more deeply and making him acutely aware of her so close beside him, her curves moulding themselves against him, her figure warm beneath his fingertips. Every atom in his body seemed to be straining to touch her. "If I don't want to wait? Suppose it was my subconscious reading into that letter what I wanted to see?"

"Wh-what?" he stammered, and saw a slow seductive smile spread across her lips. A flood of passion coursed through his veins; his breathing seemed to almost cease altogether. "Hermione," he croaked, gently caressing his hand across her back, feeling her press against him at his touch. He swallowed. "You don't have to do this, you know. You were upset about the thought of it the other day, and I will wait, you know I will."

"I think I was angry with myself, more than anything," she said softly, running her hands through his hair and down to the nape of his neck, sending a tremor down his spine. "I've been wondering about it for a while now, never really having the nerve to talk to you about it either. And then when that letter arrived… well, you know the rest. I should have realised you'd never do something like that."

"I never want to hurt you," he grinned sheepishly at her. "It just sort of seems to happen sometimes."

"I'm just as bad," she murmured, seeking another kiss, then another. "Ron, I know we're ready for this; I want to share everything with you, do some 'exploring'." She regarded him for a second and laughed. "And you can take that smirk off your face, Ron Weasley, or everyone will know exactly what we're about to get up to."