Written pre-DH. Many thanks to PigWithHair for her awesome beta skills! Thanks also to natertatersmom, fitzette, and pili204 for their encouragement and suggestions when I first wrote this.

Tonight is the Night



Things had changed. Things were definitely different now. They had been dancing around it, dodging it for years, but that day at the funeral, as he held her while she cried, something had changed in Ron and Hermione's relationship. Gone were the walls, the barriers, the pretense that they were only friends, even if they were best friends. There was more than friendship there now and they were both beginning to acknowledge it.

Not that they had verbalized anything yet. There were no promises, no admissions of love, no whispering sweet nothings to one another. Not yet at least. There were looks though — long, unbroken stares in some cases, when their eyes met and they no longer looked away. They held each others' gaze, searching for the words to describe what it was they were feeling for each other, what they were allowing to happen… finally.

There were touches too: usually quick, usually all too brief but powerful nonetheless. Powerful because they were intentional, and they both knew it. Powerful because there were years of pent up love, lust, and passion in them. When they touched, even the slightest brush of an arm against an arm, a small squeeze of the hand in passing, it was like magic. Their own kind of magic—not like a charm or a hex—but a deep, magnetic charge that sparked between them when they came in contact.

They hadn't yet found the time to be alone though, not really alone, where they could explore this new path they were on. There had been the funeral, Dumbledore's funeral, then the rush to leave school, Hermione going home only briefly to explain what they had to do during the summer. They had vowed to remain by Harry's side as he went in search of the Horcruxes, in search of a way to end Voldemort once and for all.

And now here they were, at the first happy occasion, and likely the last for many months—Bill and Fleur's wedding. It was a beautiful summer night, and everyone was sitting at their tables enjoying the garden reception. As dinner ended, they had all had a light-hearted laugh about Fleur's choice of appetizers for the evening: the French classic escargot, which was left untouched on Ron's plate, memories of the last time he had had to "eat slugs," still too fresh in his mind.

Ron was sitting next to Hermione, and as they all laughed, Ron reached under the table to retrieve his napkin and brushed Hermione's hand with his. She turned to look at him and she grasped his hand before he could pull away. Their eyes met, he raised his eyebrows at her, and she smiled. Ron's heart filled with excitement as he slowly returned her smile and gave her hand a squeeze. Maybe tonight is the night, he thought to himself.

Soon after the table's laughter died down, the music began and couples moved towards the dance floor to enjoy the first dance of the evening. Ginny and Harry were dancing rather closely. They had been doing a miserable job of staying apart the last few weeks. Ron wouldn't have been surprised if Ginny ended up going with them over the summer. Lupin was dancing with Tonks, both of whom looked completely smitten, and Bill and Fleur were center stage, looking absolutely entranced with one another.

Ron and Hermione remained seated. They were still holding hands, Ron grazing his thumb across her fingers as they watched all of the couples. Ron turned to look at Hermione—she looked so beautiful. Her deep blue dress robes were in striking contrast to her alabaster skin. She had tamed her hair into a loose bun at the top of her head, but small tendrils had fallen loose and grazed her long, slim neck and soft, creamy shoulders. Ron could have stared at her all night, but she finally turned to look at him, breaking his reverie.

They looked at each other for a moment, staring deeply into one another's eyes, neither of them feeling the need to look away. Finally, the realization hit them. They were alone. Not totally alone, as there were other people nearby, but more alone than they had been in weeks, more alone than they had been since they had so needed to be alone.

Ron opened his mouth to speak, not knowing what to say, but knowing something must be said. He wanted to tell her everything that was in his heart: how much he loved her, how much he wanted her, how much he needed her. He suddenly felt like the time had come, and somehow he just knew that she felt the same way. He could see it in her eyes. He could feel it in her touch. Hermione brought a finger to his lips.

"Don't say anything. Let's dance."

Ron smiled and got up from his chair, then reached down to help Hermione up from her seat. He took her hand and entwined it with his as he escorted her to the dance floor. He was nervous as dancing was not his strong point, but he was excited too, as he would soon be holding Hermione in his arms. Anything was worth that.

When they reached the dance floor, Ron turned to Hermione and dropped his hand to her waist as she slid her hand up his arm to his shoulder. They clasped their other hands, fingers interlocked, as they began swaying to the music. Hermione looked up at Ron.

"This is nice," she said softly.

He smiled and gently but firmly pulled her closer so that their bodies were touching, never losing eye contact with her, as he tried to gauge her reaction.

"Oh!" Hermione said, raising her eyebrows. "This is even nicer," she whispered.

This was it. Tonight is the night, he thought. There was no time left for pretending. Ron's whole body pulsed with emotion: fear, excitement, love. He couldn't believe that he was finally holding her, that he had her right there, all to himself. He never wanted to let her go.

"I've wanted this for so long, Hermione."

"Me too, Ron. For ages," said Hermione, with a blush.

They gazed into each other's eyes, excitement building between them as their bodies moved slowly in time to the music. Ron became suddenly aware of the warmth of her body against his. She felt so right pressed up against him, like she was made to fit there. He moved his hand from her waist to the small of her back. He felt her shiver slightly and asked her if she had a chill.

"No, quite the opposite, Ronald," she said with a sly smile.

Ron grinned and began moving his hand slowly up and down her back.

"Does that feel good?"

"Mmmm, yes," she said, closing her eyes and leaning her head against his chest. She could hear his heart begin to quicken and she allowed herself to sink into his warm, inviting body.

Ron loved the feel of her so completely relaxed into him. He loved holding her, feeling her pressed up against him. He loved the smell of her hair, a beautiful mixture of strawberries and flowers and…Hermione. He would know her smell anywhere. She always smelled so fresh and beautiful, and he never tired of it.

Hermione slowly moved her hand from Ron's shoulder and began playing with the hair at the nape of Ron's neck, twirling it around her fingers. She finally reached the whole of her hand deep into his beautiful red locks and dragged her nails gently along the base of his scalp and down his neck. She felt a rumble in his chest, almost a growl, as she did this, and lifted her head to look at him. The look in his eyes was so intense, so passionate. His smile was gone, replaced by lips that were slightly parted, breathing in fast, shallow breaths.

"Hermione…let's go…find someplace…to…"

"Be alone?" she said with a twinkle in her eye and a grin beginning to pull at the corners of her lips.

"Yes," he said emphatically. Taking her by the hand, he quickly pulled her off the dance floor.

They walked hurriedly through the crowd, making their way toward the kitchen door of the Burrow. Ron pushed the door open and led Hermione up the stairs to his bedroom. Hermione was running behind him to keep up with his long strides, never letting go of his hand. Her mind was swirling with excitement as she contemplated what was about to happen. The moment she had been waiting for, not just for the last few weeks, but for years. How many nights had she dreamed of being in his arms, of feeling his lips on hers? She simply could not wait any longer.

Ron opened the door hurriedly, but then hesitated as he started to walk into the room, Hermione close behind him.

"What's the matter?" she asked in a breathy, almost annoyed tone.

Ron turned to face her. "Hermione, I don't want you to think that I am just trying to bring you up here to my room to…"

"Oh, no… I know… I mean… not to… well, you know… but you do want to…"

"Snog you?"

"Well… yes."

"Senseless," Ron said, with a sheepish grin and a waggle of his eyebrows.

"Ronald! Oh, just get in the room!" snapped Hermione.

Ron smiled, pulled her into the room, and closed the door. He loved seeing her a little flustered—he had spent nearly everyday of his life for the last six years making her that way, and it was something that he found incredibly attractive. She was always in such control, but he was an expert at bringing this out in her.

Ron turned from the door and looked at Hermione. Her cheeks were flushed and her hair had started to come even further undone, a few more tendrils escaping in a few different directions. She looked radiant, and he couldn't wait to get her back into his arms. Ron held his hand out to her and she took it.

"So here we are…" said Ron.

"Finally alone," said Hermione.

She moved slowly towards him, never taking her eyes from his. She released his hand and placed both of her hands gently on his chest. He trembled in anticipation as she angled her face up towards his. He brought his hands to her waist and started to move his mouth towards hers.

"Hermione…" he breathed.

"Ron," Hermione whispered.

Their eyes closed and their lips finally met in a soft, slow, perfect kiss.

Tonight is the night, thought Ron.