AUTHOR'S NOTES: When I first wrote Of Valentines and Viktor Krum, it was intended to be a stand-alone one-shot that could easily fit into the established canon of the Harry Potter Universe. Of course, as pointed out by one of my readers, I put the cart before the horse when I mentioned the Second Task on Valentine's Day, when it hadn't happened until the end of February! It was also pointed out that Hermione was a bit un-Hermione when calling Fleur a hussy, so I went back and edited the chapter a bit. The edits passed muster with my on-call Beta, CutewithAcapital-Q, so I was a pretty happy camper.
I'd have left this story alone, but another reader, Alana, convinced me to do an alternate ending where Ron and Hermione get together long before the end of the seventh book. I managed to get most of it written in a few hours, and only put it aside to concentrate on a more time-sesitive story (Happy Birthday, Dear Wheezy, which needed to be up this weekend). With the other story finished and off to the Beta's now, I could finish this story up and post the alternate ending Alana wanted.
This chapter is officially AU. It doesn't happen in canon, and is just a bit of fluff to satisfy a craving for those who wanted to see Ron and Hermione getting together earlier than they did.
DISCLAIMER: Even though it isn't canon, this stuff still belongs to HER...and I think you know who I mean.
Hermione sat in her dorm, sitting cross-legged in the middle of her four-poster bed. She was gazing lovingly down at the Valentine in her hand, running her fingers over the messy script that said those wonderful words:
You've never been my last resort…
The very idea that Ron Weasley…RON WEASLEY…would take the time and effort to craft a Valentine and make such a heartfelt expression to her had Hermione's heart bursting with warmth and her head swimming with possibilities.
"I've never been his last resort," she thought reading that line over and over again, "If that's true, then why can't he just come out and tell me how he feels in person?!"
A quick look at her bedside table answered Hermione's question for her. A dozen roses…Viktor's dozen roses…were on display in a lovely crystal vase Hermione had transfigured out of drinking glass. Viktor.
"Viktor is standing in the way of Ron telling me how he feels," Hermione's mind raced, "I'm almost sure of it!"
"Ron thinks Viktor is my boyfriend and so he won't tell me how he feels!" she said, jumping up off her bed, "That stupid, stupid boy!!"
Hermione's face was screwed up in an angry grimace as she thought of Ron keeping his feelings hidden from her simply because he thought she liked Viktor Krum! He never bothered to ask if Viktor was her boyfriend…he just assumed!
Hermione was just about to storm out of her dormitory, thunder down the girls' staircase, and the blast up the boys' staircase to erupt in an angry huff at Ron in the boys' dorm when her eye caught the Valentine he'd made for her, still sitting on her bed.
"That sweet, infuriating, self-conscious prat."
Hermione's features softened and she snatched the card off her bed. Grabbing the dozen roses out of the vase, she tossed them in the rubbish bin near her desk. Ron would never see the fact that the roses had been binned, but she would know…and her dorm-mates would see…and they would know. She was not Viktor Krum's. He did not hold her heart.
Her heart; she looked down at the heart-shaped Valentine she was clutching to her like a Norwegian Ridgeback clutching a golden egg, and she was reminded of another heart. In a flash she was at the foot of her bed, throwing open her trunk and grabbing the heart-shaped box of Honeydukes' chocolate.
Smiling as she made her decision, Hermione rushed from her dorm and down the steps into the common room. The napkin full of sandwiches caught her eye and she clucked her tongue at herself. Ron was a growing boy; he would need…and appreciate…the sustenance she had brought him. Hermione grabbed the sandwiches and continued on towards her destination, knowing that in a short amount of time, Gryffindor Tower would be full of boisterous students doing their homework, playing games, or just socializing with one another.
Once she reached the 4th Year boys' dorm, Hermione didn't bother to knock. She wanted the element of surprise when she confronted Ron about his feelings for her, thinking that if she surprised him and caught him off-guard, he might reveal something he might otherwise keep secret. Taking a deep breath, Hermione barged into the boys' dorm only it was she that got the surprise.
"Hermione!" Ron yelled, grabbing the pajama bottoms off his bed and covering his bright orange boxer shorts, "What the bloody Hell are you doing here?!"
Hermione's mouth gaped open as she stared; Ron was in his underwear…nearly naked! She felt her face flush red enough to give Ron's hair a run for its money, and even though she knew that she needed to say something to explain her presence, Hermione couldn't seem to find her voice. Of their own volition, Hermione's eyes drifted down from Ron's mortified face over his pale, freckled chest to the area he was trying to conceal behind his pajamas.
"What are you looking at?!" Ron yelled, his voice breaking, "Get out!"
The adorable sound of Ron's voice cracking as he yelled at her drew Hermione's attention away from his…from that area…and drew her back to his face.
"Get out, Hermione!" he said angrily, his body still flushed with embarrassment, "This is the boys' dorm…you don't belong up here!"
"I…I wanted to talk to you, Ron, and…why are you getting ready for bed?" she asked, her curiosity suddenly overcoming her embarrassment, "It's still early."
"Yeah, well, I'm tired, alright?" Ron said rather tersely, "So go away so I can get dressed and go to bed."
"Well, what if I just turned my back, so you could dress?" Hermione asked, turning around to illustrate her point, "Then once you're finished, we could talk."
"What's there to talk about?" Ron asked, glaring at the back of her head, "Oi! Why aren't you outside taking a walk with Vicky?"
"Please don't call him that," Hermione said sternly. She was tempted to turn and scold him face-to-face, but she managed to resist through a sheer act of will.
"Why not?" he replied snarkily, "Surely your boyfriend doesn't mind you --…"
"He's not my boyfriend!" she yelled, unable to resist the urge to turn this time. She swung around towards Ron, eyes blazing, "I don't love Viktor Krum, you dolt! That's what I came up here to talk to you about!!"
"If he's not your boyfriend then why are you carrying around that bloody box of chocolates he gave you?" Ron started to fold his arms across his chest in the stance he usually adopted when they rowed; at the last second, however, he realized that he was, once again, exposing himself to Hermione and quickly covered his underwear when he saw Hermione's eyes go wide.
"I…er…oh my…" Hermione was blushing worse than ever before now. Not even Viktor Krum's spectacle in the middle of the Great Hall that morning had made her blush this much. But, then, of course, she hadn't seen a half-naked Ron before now. She'd seen boxer shorts before, of course, when helping her mother fold the laundry, but those had been her father's, and they weren't being worn at the time…and, of course, they weren't being worn by Ron!
"Oi! Turn around!!" Ron bellowed causing Hermione to quickly turn back around.
"Sorry," Hermione said, her voice full of embarrassment.
Before another word could be said, Ron quickly stepped into the pajama bottoms and pulled them up. They were, of course, threadbare and too short, leaving an inordinate amount of his pale, freckled ankles exposed.
"What did you want, Hermione?" Ron asked grumpily as he picked his pajama top off the bed and pulled it on, "I'm really not in the mood to talk."
With her back still facing him, Hermione was able to recover some of her composure, although the image of Ron's near-nakedness kept flashing in her head. "I just…I think it's really important that you and I talk about something."
"What?" he asked, still more than a bit put-out by her presence; after all, his whole motivation for going to bed early was to avoid her.
"Wait…before we talk," Hermione said, turning around and holding out the napkin full of sandwiches, "Are you hungry? You skipped dinner…so I brought you some sandwiches."
"What…?" Ron's eyes widened and his demeanor softened. He had been acting very curt with her, since he really didn't want to talk, but she had gone to the trouble of bringing him some food when he skipped dinner…it was a very nice gesture on Hermione's part, and it wasn't lost on Ron.
Hermione handed Ron the napkin-wrapped sandwiches and he smiled at her, blushing slightly. She was such a good friend to him, looking out for him even though he spent the entire day keeping her at arm's length. He found himself rapidly overwhelmed by a wave of guilt.
"Thanks, Hermione," he said, dropping his eyes, to the food she had brought him, "I really appreciate it…I'm starved."
"Well, tuck in, then," she said with a smile. She could see something was bothering him, but she didn't want to be pushy. After all, only a few short moments ago, he was yelling at her to leave. Of course, Hermione couldn't help wondering how much of the yelling was due to the fact that she'd walked in on him in a state of undress. She blushed as she thought, once again, about what she had seen.
Ron sat on his bed as he unwrapped the napkin from around the chicken sandwiches and began ravenously devouring them. When he noticed that Hermione was still standing up, he scooted towards the middle of his bed and patted his hand onto the mattress.
"You can sit if you want…" he said around a mouthful of chicken and bread.
Hermione would ordinarily roll her eyes or scold him for his deplorable manners, but she was too distracted, so she just quietly took a seat at the foot of the bed, crossing her legs underneath her as she faced him. She still had the Valentine from Ron and the box of chocolates from Viktor hugged tightly to her chest, but Ron seemed to have forgotten as his interest in the food took over.
"I still want to talk about something, Ron," Hermione reminded him as he finished off the second of the three sandwiches.
He looked up at her, and his eyes refocused on the heart-shaped box in her arms; his scowl quickly returned. "Right. So talk."
"I wanted to thank you," Hermione said, setting the box of candy in her lap with Ron's Valentine right on top, "I've never gotten anything as sweet as this in my entire life."
"Don't thank me," Ron grumbled, not yet understanding what she was getting at, "Thank Vicky; he gave them to you, not me."
"Not for the candy, you dolt!" Hermione snapped, aggravated now at the way Ron was acting, "I'm talking about this!"
She held up the heart-shaped card she had rescued from the common room fireplace. When Ron saw it, his face paled and his eyes widened as he gaped, open-mouthed at her. His heart started to pound rapidly in his chest and he felt his stomach drop.
"Where…where did you get that?!" Ron asked, his voice breaking.
"I found it downstairs in the…" Hermione tried to explain, but Ron cut her off.
"I thought I burned that!" Ron snapped getting up on his knees and moving towards her on the bed, "Give me that!"
"NO!" Hermione yelled, pulling back away from him before he managed to grab the card, "It's mine! You made it for me!"
"Oh God…you know…" Ron dropped down onto the bed, hiding his face from her in his hands, unable to look at her, expecting to see scorn and disgust in her eyes, "I'm sorry, Hermione. I know it's stupid and cheap…"
"It is the sweetest, most wonderful thing I have ever received in my life, Ronald Weasley," Hermione said in a rather stern voice, "And don't you dare belittle it!"
He looked up at her, unable to believe his ears, "You actually…like it?"
"I love it," she said, her eyes sparkling, "I just wish you would have given it to me in person."
"I…I couldn't," Ron said, looking down again, "Why would you want it when Vick--…err…Krum gave you those flowers and candy? It's just some stu--…"
"STOP IT!" Hermione yelled lunging at him and grabbing two fistfuls of his shirt, "Your card is better than a thousand bouquets of flowers or boxes of candy, and you are better than a thousand Viktor Krums, Ron Weasley! Do you hear me?!"
"Bloody Hell, Hermione!" Ron gasped, looking taken aback as he gazed at the fire burning in her brown eyes, "You really mean that?"
"Yes, Ron! Is it so hard to believe that I think so much of you?" she looked into his eyes, pleading with him to see in himself what she sees every day, "You're so brave and loyal and have the ability to make me smile when no one else can. You're so --…"
Hermione never finished her statement, because Ron crashed his mouth against hers, kissing her awkwardly. It was her first kiss ever, and she wasn't sure what to do – and neither did he, apparently – but she held onto Ron for dear life and just did what felt right.
The two teens were deeply flushed when they finally broke apart and came up for air. Ron's fingers were entwined in Hermione's bushy mane of hair, and Hermione still had two fistfuls of Ron's pajama-top.
"Say it to me, Ron," Hermione gasped huskily, her eyes roaming over his face rapidly, taking in his features as if seeing him for the first time.
"Say what?" Ron asked, his voice low and raspy. His eyes were locked on her puffy lower lip, desperate to kiss her again.
"You know what, Ron," she huffed, slightly annoyed. She wanted to hear those words spoken to her; she needed them, "From your card…please."
Ron blushed and gulped, swallowing visibly, his Adam's apple bobbing in his throat, "Hermione…"
He looked at her. She was practically begging him…how could he turn her down. It would be awkward if he said it to her, and it would change everything so much between them. He smiled at that thought, still tasting her on his own lips; as if everything hadn't changed irrevocably already.
"You're not my last resort, Hermione," he said shyly, looking down at the bed, his ears on fire, "If you really want to know, you're almost always first in my thoughts, and I --…"
It was Ron's turn to be cut off this time, as Hermione flung herself at him and kissed him for all she was worth. They tumbled onto the bed and were ensconced in a vigorous bout of snogging for the next several minutes.
When they finally broke apart and came up for air, Ron moved into a sitting position with his back against the headboard. Hermione quickly joined him, resting her head on his shoulder. He nervously took her hand in his, and she sighed happily.
At the foot of the bed, almost as if discarded and forgotten, lay the Valentine he'd made her and the box of chocolates Viktor had given her. Ron frowned slightly as he tried to understand the presence of the candy…since Hermione had said she didn't fancy Viktor.
"Hermione…" Ron said, looking over at her when he finally realized he needed her to explain it to him.
"Yes, Ron?" Hermione replied, sounding complete content at that particular moment in time.
He nudged the heart-shaped box with his toe, drawing her attention to it, "Why did you bring those with you? I mean, if you really meant what you said…"
"I meant it, Ron," she assured him, "I do mean it."
"You're going to think it's stupid," she replied, a bit embarrassed as she moved towards the foot of the bed and brought the box of candy up towards them, holding it in her lap.
"Tell me," he urged with a bit of sternness in his voice, and she realized that he still felt inadequate and unsure about her feelings towards him.
"Well, I thought…you might like to help me eat them…"
"You want me to help you eat Viktor's love-candy?!" he exclaimed pulling away from her, so he could turn and glare at her.
"It's symbolic, Ron," she huffed, exasperatedly rolling her eyes.
"Yeah, it's a symbol of his love!" Ron yelled, moving to get off the bed, looking to put some distance between the two of them.
"No, Ron…not the candy," Hermione grabbed his hand before he could escape the closeness forced upon them by the size of Ron's bed, "Us eating the candy is the symbol."
"I don't follow…" he said, furrowing his brow at her, his blue eyes losing the hardness they'd developed a few moments earlier; he now looked thoroughly confused.
Hermione heaved a sigh and tried to explain herself, "Viktor gave me flowers and candy…tokens…symbols of his affection for me…"
"Don't remind me," Ron replied bitterly. He still wanted to pull away and leave the bed, but for now he remained seated, facing her.
"So what do you think it says when one of those symbols – his flowers – are now sitting in the rubbish bin in the girls' dorm?" she asked, opening the box of candy and offered him first pick of the chocolate delights within, "And what do you further think it means when the other symbol – the candy – is about to be shared with a boy who isn't Viktor Krum?"
Ron sat there for a few minutes looking from the genuine, tender look in Hermione's eyes to the incredibly tempting box of sweets lying open in front of him, waiting for him to be the first one to taste a morsel of Honeydukes' finest sweets. She'd thrown away the flowers, and was now giving him the candy. Finally, the symbolism hit him, and he smiled broadly, reaching down to grab a heart-shaped chocolate confection and pop it in his mouth.
"I think it says 'piss-off, Viktor'!"
"Language, Ronald!" Hermione scolded, but she smiled as she said it before grabbing her own piece of candy from the box and popping it in her mouth, feeling completely giddy with the fact that she and Ron were now moving in the right direction. And that's where the two of them sat for the next few hours, eating chocolates and stealing kisses, content with the prospects of their new relationship.
AUTHOR'S END NOTES: There you have it. Like I said...fluffy. Hope you managed to enjoy it anyway!!