This fic is for Freckles Weasley who suggested that I do an alternate chapter where the deatheaters didn't crash Bill and Fleur's wedding and Ron and Hermione actually go for their stroll. If you are reading this, please read my story 'Kiss me' first, as this is only an alternate ending and is not canon with the books. Although it can be a stand alone as long as you know that this takes place during the wedding, and Ron and Hermione have just come off the dance floor after dancing together for a while and making googily eyes at each other most of the night.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Hermione looked up to see Ron making his way over to where she and Harry were sitting. Her heart was racing at the thought that she and Ron were about to embark on a romantic, moon-lit walk, just the two of them.
'Oh, here he comes now,' she said, hoping that she didn't sound as breathless as she felt. He was carrying his battered book bag, which looked at odds with the new dress robes he was wearing, as he weaved his way through the various wedding guests that crowded the dance floor.
'Ready to go?' Ron asked cheerily.
'Yes,' Hermione stammered and felt stupid for stammering. 'Yes, I'm ready.'
'Good, let's get going then. See you around later Harry.' Ron said as he clapped Harry on the back.
'You two have fun,' he replied giving his two best friends a knowing grin.
'Are you going to be alright by yourself?' Hermione asked, hoping that he'd say yes so that she wouldn't feel guilty about running off on him and leaving him alone.
'Yeah, I'll be fine.' He paused for a moment before looking at Ron and saying, 'I think I'll ask Ginny if she'd like to dance.'
'So long as you remember that you're posing as her cousin, Barney.' Ron gave Harry a firm look that said that under no uncertain circumstances was he to go off into the dark with his baby sister.
'Will do,' Harry replied with a sarcastic salute.
'Prat,' Ron muttered as he gently took hold of Hermione's arm. 'Come on 'Mione, let's get going.' Hermione gave Harry a small wave good-bye as Ron led her through the wedding guests. She could have sworn she saw Charlie nudge George and point in their direction, but the crowd had thickened and she lost sight of them.
Once they left the soft glow of the tent, Hermione noticed how late it had gotten. It wasn't as if it were totally dark, there was a bright moon to light the way, and the sky was full of more stars than she could ever remember seeing before. Ron continued to hold her arm as they walked across the pasture. Hermione had taken off her heels and had them dangling from her free hand, the soft cool grass felt wonderful on her aching feet. Ron adjusted the book bag on his shoulder and slid his hand from her elbow to her hand. Hermione swayed at the heat that spread up her arm as his large hand enveloped her smaller one. She felt herself flush, knowing that she had hoped for this moment for a very long time and now that it was fast approaching, she was a little uncertain about herself. Ron didn't seem to notice however, he was talking about all the times that he and his brothers had gone swimming and fishing at the pond, about how many times one of them had almost drowned because of some trick or fight that had gotten out of control. He laughed gently as he finished one story that involved Fred, George, and a very feathery Percy. The sound of Ron's soft laughter, the warmth of his hand, combined with the scent of his cologne on the still night air, had Hermione sighing internally with contentment.
'It's a little tricky here, let me help you.' Ron offered as they had to climb over a low stone wall. Hermione could cross it quite easily on her own, but was pleased when Ron grabbed her around the waist to help lift her down. She was thoroughly impressed with this new confident and thoughtful Ron.
'Thank you,' she whispered as Ron's hands lingered on her waist a moment longer than necessary.
'No problem,' he replied, and instead of taking her by the hand again, he let his hand drift to the small of her back. 'It's not much further, just over that hill.'
'I can't wait to see it,' Hermione answered truthfully.
As they crested the hill, Hermione was confronted by one of the loveliest and most peaceful sights she had ever seen. The moonlight was perfectly reflected by the still surface of the water and there was a giant weeping willow on the bank of the pond, which is where Ron led her. Dropping his bag on the ground he pulled out a blanket and spread it out on the grass, the leaves of the willow forming a silvery canopy above them. Gesturing for her to sit down, Ron rummaged in the bag until he came out with a small wooden box that she recognized as a wizards wireless. Tapping it lightly with his wand it began to play a soft and slow jazz song. Setting it on the corner of the blanket Ron continued to pull things out of his book bag. Two things that caught her attention were a bottle of champagne and a bowl of strawberries.
'Ron,' she began, 'you weren't gone that long. How did you manage to get all this stuff so quickly?'
Ron looked quizzically at her and replied, 'I am a wizard, Hermione. I summoned everything.'
'How did you manage to pinch a bottle of champagne without any one seeing you?'
'I didn't have to. Bill ran into me while I was summoning my stuff. He asked what I was up to and when I told him I was taking you for a walk to the old pond, he swiped the bottle from a passing waiter and said for us to enjoy ourselves.' Ron smiled and laughed lightly, 'I think he was a little drunk. Think you could conjure us a couple of goblets?'
Hermione withdrew her wand and with a little wave two delicate crystal flutes were in her hands. 'Nice!' He said as she offered them to Ron, who filled them with champagne. Handing her a glass, she took a delicate sip that immediately went to her head. Hermione had little tolerance for alcohol and this champagne was of the really good French variety. Ron took a healthy gulp and exclaimed, 'you got to hand it to Fleur, nothing but the best. She married a Weasley after all.'
Hermione snickered into her hand as Ron finally sat on the blanket next to her, placing his hands behind his back and propping himself into a semi-reclined position. 'That was some party back there wasn't it?' He asked.
'Yes, so many wizards, it was fascinating.'
'I'm kind of glad we left though, it was getting pretty crowded.'
'I'm just glad to be off the dance floor, my feet are killing me.' She said, gesturing at the offending body parts.
'For a second there, I thought you didn't like dancing with me.' Ron faked a hurt expression.
'No, I was having a lovely time. It's those shoes, they're a nightmare.' She laughed, 'The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.'
'Here, let me make it up to you.' He said while shifting position so as to take her feet in his lap. He held a foot in one hand while he began to gently knead the sole with his other hand.
'Oh…' a soft sigh escaped her.
'Very,' she breathed. His warm hands caressing her feet felt wonderful. He was sending small shock waves of pleasure up and down her body.
'Pop me a strawberry will you, Hermione'
'Sure,' she said, reaching into the bowl. She selected a large juicy looking one, pulled the hull off it and leaned forward to give it to him. Ron leaned in and opened his mouth slightly for her to feed it to him. She brought the berry to his lips and she savored the pleasant shiver she got as his lips grazed her fingertips.
'Thanks,' he said after he swallowed. He looked at her quizzically, 'aren't you going to have any? They're really good.'
'No, I've got a bit of a weakness when it comes to strawberries. Once I start I can't stop, I'd end up eating them all on you.'
'Oh don't be so foolish. I brought them for you, have one.'
'Okay.' She selected a small berry from the bowl, pulled the top off, and bit into what may have been the best tasting strawberry she'd ever tasted. She closed her eyes to savor the sweetness. 'Mmmm.' She could feel Ron watching her and opened her eyes to see him smiling at her. 'Okay, you were right – those are really good,' she conceded.
Still caressing her feet he asked, 'hand me another?'
She picked the leaves from another berry from the bowl and leaned towards Ron. He opened his mouth as she brought the fruit to his lips, but at the last second she popped the berry into her own mouth instead.
'Hey! Call a foul Ref! Un-sportsman-like behavior!' He shook his head and muttered, 'Imagine, teasing me with food like that.'
Hermione tried to keep from laughing with her mouth full, and finally managed to swallow. 'I'm sorry, I did try to warn you that strawberries are my kryptonite.'
'Kryptonite?' Ron looked puzzled, 'What's that?' he asked.
'Never mind, muggle thing.'
'So can I have a berry now or not?'
'Yes – of course.' She brought another berry to his lips and again stole it for herself at the last moment.
'You're not getting away with that again!' He laughed as he lunged at her.
They rolled several times across the grass as they wrestled. Hermione was shrieking in laughter as Ron was tickling her sides, and she was trying to tickle him back. Suddenly he had her pinned to the ground and his lips were hard against hers. Hermione was frozen with surprise and before she could even wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him back, he pulled away and sat with his back to her. 'No, don't stop!' She pleaded in her head, tentatively touching her fingers to her lips as she sat up.
'I'm sorry,' he whispered, his back still to her. 'I shouldn't have done that.' His shoulders sagged a little. 'I thought you knew,' he said almost so low that Hermione barely caught it. 'Maybe we should go,' he said louder.
She was confused. All she knew was that Ron had kissed her for only a moment and now he wouldn't look at her. Did she misread all his intentions tonight? Was he really not interested in her after all? Did he just kiss her in a moment of unchecked passion and now regretted it? 'Damn it! It should be easier than this!' she screamed at herself. 'Knew what, Ron?' she whispered.
He didn't seem to hear her, but she thought she caught the words, 'didn't kiss me back'. Was that what it was? He thought she didn't want him because she didn't kiss him back. 'You didn't give me a chance!' her mind retorted. 'I will not let this slip through my fingers now that it's so close!'
Hermione crawled to where Ron sat a foot away and kneeled in front of him. He looked up into her face with the saddest expression she'd ever seen on him. She looked him in the eye, and as she slowly brought her face to his, she whispered, 'I'm sorry, you took me by surprise a moment ago.' Her lips gently grazed his, 'I'm ready now,' she breathed.
That was all it took for Ron to grab her by the waist and kiss her with a fierce passion. In all her dreams, Hermione never thought that such a fire burned within her. Once they started, they couldn't stop, she was consumed by a fervent need to remain connected to those lips. She was overcome by a light-headedness that couldn't be attributed to the champagne. Years of pent up longing erupted from her as her arms snaked their way around his neck to hold herself tight against him. Ron's hands were on her back, in her hair, at her neck, everywhere he could touch her and still be a gentleman, and she loved him for it.
Reluctantly, he pulled back enough so that they could catch their breath. They were both heaving, taking in air in great gasps. Resting his forehead against hers, he whispered, 'I thought, for a moment, that you didn't want me.'
'I've never wanted anything more,' she replied, planting light kisses on his lips.
'Not even eleven Outstanding's on your OWL's?' he joked.
'Well,' she paused, 'OWL's were a really close second,' she admitted.
'That's my girl,' he whispered against her lips and began kissing her again, slower and more gently, taking his time.
He tasted of champagne and strawberries, and Hermione was engulfed in the scent of his aftershave and the sounds of crickets and peeper frogs chirping. The wizards wireless sat forgotten where Ron had left it, still playing out heartbreakingly sweet, slow jazz. Ron's lips traced a lazy path down her throat and back up to her ear. Hermione, her heart bursting with happiness, whispered a silent prayer of thanks to the stars for giving her this moment with the man who had come to mean so much to her over years.
After a while, they just sat there on the blanket, sipping champagne and listening to the night noises intermixing with the wireless. Hermione was sitting across Ron's lap, dreamily snuggled into his chest, while his arms encircled her, keeping away the oncoming chill of the night.
Ron kissed the top of her head and whispered, 'It was always you.'
Hermione gave a light sigh. 'That's very sweet of you Ron, but I know for a fact that it hasn't been.' She paused, deciding how honest she should be with him before choosing to tell him the absolute truth. 'For the longest time, I thought that maybe I wasn't pretty enough for you.'
'Not pretty enough? What are you talking about?'
'Well, you always seemed to fancy the prettiest girls. I just never thought I was up to par with them.'
'What girls are you talking about?'
Hermione began to tick names off on her fingers. 'Madame Rosemerta, Fleur, most of the Beauxbaton girls, Lavender, oh yeah, and don't think I don't know about that older Ravenclaw girl – Jillian, while we were in our fifth year. You rarely took your eyes off her during the DA meetings.'
Ron had the decency to look a little sheepish. 'That transparent was I? Well, I always had a weakness for a pretty face…but they were just a passing fancy.' He looked at her with such intensity that shivers ran down her spine. 'Not you though. You're the standard I measured ever other girl against.'
Hermione laughed softly, 'I hardly think so Ronald, you're just trying to butter me up with flattery.'
Ron cupped her chin and forced her to look at him. 'You don't get it do you?' He paused to take a breath before saying, 'Hermione, you're a natural beauty. You don't wear make-up or spend hours everyday in front of a mirror, yet the girls that do, don't come close to you. You have a good heart, you'll help anyone who asks you. You have more brains and more guts than should be legally allowed in any one person.' He placed a gentle kiss on her lips, and she could feel tears welling up in her eyes. 'When it came to you, Hermione, my poor heart never stood a chance.' He gazed out at the night sky, 'It was always you, those other girls were me just lying to myself about how I really felt about you. I wasn't ready to admit that to myself until now.'
'Oh, Ron,' she said between kisses, 'that's the sweetest thing I've ever heard.' She continued to pepper his face with kisses before resettling her temple on his collar bone. She nuzzled into his neck and whispered, 'I've been waiting for you for so long.'
'Really? Since when?'
'Since third year, when you started helping me do research for Hagrid and Buckbeak's trial. Maybe a little in second year when you tried to hex Malfoy for calling me a mudblood and it backfired on you.'
'Well, as always, you figured it out before I did.'
'When did you start to fancy me?'
'Fourth year. You walked into the Yule Ball on Viktor Krum's arm and I was overcome by an overwhelming urge to punch him in the face and drag you out to the garden and behind the rose bushes.'
'And what would you have done behind the rose bushes Ronald?' She teased.
'Snogged you breathless,' he winked at her and smiled.
'That would have been welcome, but maybe we weren't ready for that then. Maybe we were meant for this tonight, when we were old enough to appreciate it more.' She gave a light laugh and said, 'I only agreed to go with Viktor because I was tired of waiting for you to ask me. I thought that if I went with someone else, you'd start to see me differently and would ask me out yourself.'
'Yes and it only took you three years to do something about it.'
'Sometimes, it takes time to do things right.'
'You know, I gave Ginny the same advice about Harry. Start dating someone else and he'll come around. Looks like it worked twice, maybe I should write a book or something.'
'A good book can do wonders for a guy without a clue.'
Hermione looked at him shrewdly, 'Ron, you don't read.'
'That's not fair, I've been known to pick up a book from time to time.' He adopted a fake hurt look.
'Yes, and every one of them were to do with quidditch.' She paused for a moment, 'Ginny said something about you and a book.'
Ron's face went a little red and he said, 'Ginny must have been mistaken. I don't even read quidditch books while on vacation.'
'You're hiding something from me Ronald Weasley,' Hermione said while poking him gently in the chest, 'Out with it.'
Ron squirmed a little under her gaze before finally admitting, 'Fred and George got me a book for my birthday about how to win a witch's heart. I've been trying to use what I learned from it the last couple of weeks to try and win you over.'
'So you didn't really mean any of the compliments you've been giving me lately? You were just trying to "win me over"?' Hermione could hear the irritated tone in her voice and inwardly winced. Was she making a big deal out of nothing?
'I meant everything I told you 'Mione. It's just that your reactions to the compliments were very encouraging.' He smiled shyly and Hermione's rising temper subsided instantly. She couldn't be mad at him, he'd actually read a book on his own in hopes of learning something.
She started to giggle at the disturbed look on his handsome face, and then he gave her an honest smile. 'I'm sorry,' she giggled, 'what else did the clever book have to say, besides endless compliments?'
'That witches like to be kissed here,' he whispered against her skin as he brushed his lips at the part of her neck just below her ear. Hermione tipped her head back and sighed softly as the heat swelled out from where his lips met her skin.
'It must have been a thoroughly researched book,' she breathed.
'They probably did a lot of testing.' Ron answered huskily. Several minutes later they were again staring out at the night sky, both of them rather breathless.
'It's getting late,' Hermione sighed.
'Mhmmm,' Ron mumbled into her hair.
'We should be heading back,' she prodded him.
'I know,' he sighed, 'but do you think if we both wish really hard, that we could freeze time and stay here for a while longer?'
'Come on,' Hermione said as she struggled to her feet and held out a hand to Ron.
'All right then,' he conceded, taking her offered hand and hauling himself to his feet. Hermione waved her wand and everything flew back into Ron's book bag, the blanket having folded itself neatly before stowing itself in the bag.
They walked very slowly back to the burrow. She was still carrying her shoes in her hand, and her other hand was enveloped loosely in Ron's.
'Looks like the party's over,' Ron observed as the dark tent which had housed the wedding guests came into view. There were very few people left, seemingly guests that had drunk too much to safely apparate home and looked as if they were going to sleep it off while slumped over the multitude of small tables.
'I wonder if we can sneak in without waking anyone,' Hermione pondered while looking at the back door.
'Shouldn't be too hard, have you ever heard Charlie snore? I heard that the dragon's at the reserve requested he be moved to the far side of the compound so that they could get a little shut-eye.' Ron quipped.
Hermione suppressed a giggle and said, 'come on, quietly now,' as she eased open the back door that led through the burrow's kitchen. Tip-toeing into the dark room, they were startled when several lit wands were pointed at them from various points of the kitchen.
'Bloody Hell,' Ron exclaimed as he clutched at his chest. The glow from the wands illuminated that the room held most of the Weasley brothers along with Ginny and Harry. George pointed his wand at a lantern on the table and the room was suddenly awash in soft light.
'What time have you got Charlie?' Fred asked cheerily.
'Two-twenty-eight,' the stocky red-head answered as he looked at his wrist.
'Damn it,' Ginny cursed softly, 'you two couldn't have walked back just a little slower?'
'What's going on?' Ron asked hesitantly.
'Well this will make Mum happy,' Fred chuckled, ignoring his younger brother's question.
'Yeah,' George answered, 'she said that if they weren't back before two-thirty, she would have to have a talk to them.'
'Generously lenient if you ask me,' Fred replied.
'Never would have allowed that for us,' George countered.
'That's because neither of you two have been out with a girl mum trusts like she trusts Hermione,' Ginny reprimanded them.
'Guys,' Ron said a little louder. 'What's going on?'
'There was a bit of a bet going on tonight,' Harry replied, grinning. 'About when you two would get home from your walk.'
'A bet?' Ron asked incredulous.
'Yeah,' Ginny laughed, holding up a piece of parchment with writing on it. 'Mum had the two-oh-one to two-thirty slot, while I had the two-thirty-one to three o'clock slot. If you had walked a little slower, I'd be up eight galleons.'
'Sorry,' Ron replied, his forehead scrunched, still trying to understand what was going on. Hermione could feel the heat in her face as she blushed uncontrollably. 'Seriously,' Ron continued, 'you guys have got nothing better to do but wait up for us?'
'Our girls had to go home Little Brother,' Fred winked saucily at them. 'By the way Hermione… you've somehow gotten some grass in your hair.'
'Oh!' If it were possible, Hermione went even redder, causing the rest of the Weasley Brothers to laugh.
'Knock it off,' Ron interjected angrily, putting an arm around her shoulders.
'Yeah guys, that's enough.' Ginny said with a surprising amount of authority, almost Mrs. Weasley-ish. The others looked round at her with somewhat widened eyes.
'Well boys,' Charlie cut in, 'you heard the lady. Let's all get to bed so we can rag these two out in the morning.'
'Yeah, and we can make a big show of awarding mum her winnings over breakfast,' George quipped.
As everyone filed out of the kitchen and headed for the stairs, Ron whispered in her ear, 'I'm sorry about that.'
'It's alright, they would have found out sooner or later. It's best to get the jokes out now.'
At the first landing outside of Ginny's room, Ron kissed her forehead and whispered, 'Goodnight 'Mione, see you in the morning.'
'Night Ron,' she sighed. She glanced over and saw Harry lightly brush the back of Ginny's hand with his fingers. She winked back at him, and gave him a confident smile. It seemed her and Ron weren't the only ones that had moved forward in their relationship. Ron missed all of this though, which was really for the best considering how he felt at the moment about Harry and Ginny dating.
As Ginny closed her bedroom door behind them, she turned to Hermione and said excitedly, 'I want to hear everything! Well…maybe not everything – you can leave out the graphic details.'
'Same goes for you. I saw that out in the hallway.'
Ginny smiled mischievously. 'No one noticed us sneaking off, and we weren't gone long enough to draw attention to it anyway. So let's hear it.'
Hermione fell onto her best friend's bed and whispered, 'It was the most romantic night of my life.' And she proceeded to tell her everything.
a/n: This fic was on my PC forever! I just couldn't get what I wanted to say written out the way I wanted it. I would work on it, then leave it for awhile, work on it some more, it was really aggravating. I love Ron and Hermione, and I wanted something special for them, I hope I succeeded. Reviews are cherished.