Chapter Three: Ronandhermione
So, I've been sitting here for half an hour now feeling rather foolish. It doesn't help that I have no idea what time Ron might be coming home. He said he was going to the pub for a work leaving do, but I suspect that actually he's in a lingerie department - possibly even the same one I was in earlier - having a panic attack about what to get me. But then, if I'm wrong and he really has gone to the pub, I could be sitting here shivering like an idiot for hours.
Oh, God, is this just the stupidest idea ever? I don't mind if he laughs, but I don't want him to laugh because it's stupid. I mean, obviously, what I'm hoping is that once I explain it to him ("I'm going to spend the entire weekend naked", what's to explain?), he'll get the idea and join in.
Oh, God, there's his key in the lock. Oh, God.
Ron comes into the room like a small hurricane as usual.
"Jesus Christ, it's absolutely freezing out there! I hope you've lit the fire, 'cos I've just about lost all the feeling in my limbs. I tell you; I'm absolutely gasping for a cup of -"
He pulls up short when he sees me sitting here and his eyes widen.
"Oh, hello, Ron," I say calmly, as though everything was completely normal. "How was your evening?"
"Er… fine, thanks."
He waits for me to explain, but I don't say anything. Years pass. Eventually, he can stand it no longer and blurts out, "Why are you naked?"
I attempt a mysterious smile. "Can't you guess?"
"Did I die and go to heaven?"
I can't help laughing. So much for an air of mystery. "Well… I'm your Valentine's present."
"Er… OK. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but you do know Valentine's Day's not 'til tomorrow, right?"
"Yes. But since we have no other plans, I thought we could make a weekend of it."
"A weekend of what?" he asks, huskily.
"Being naked, of course. What did you think I meant?"
We stare at each other for what seems like days, and doubt starts to set in. Finally, I bury my head in my hands and let out a moan of frustration.
"Is this my worst idea ever? I just wanted to do something original for Valentine's Day. I thought of a hundred things I could buy, but then I realised that what you'd really like for Valentine's Day would be -"
"Naked Hermione," finishes Ron, with a grin.
"Exactly. Was I wrong?"
He shakes his head vehemently. "Hermione. You've never been wrong in your life. Trust me; you're not wrong on this one, either. I'm just a bit... stunned, that's all."
"Very good stunned."
We smile at each other, and his gaze dips down my body and back up again.
"So you're seriously going to just walk around naked for the rest of the weekend?"
"Well, yes. That's the idea."
"Fucking awesome!" he says, gleefully.
Ignoring the rather inelegant turn of phrase, I attempt to be coy. "I was rather hoping you might join me, actually."
"On the sofa?"
"Well, yes… but mainly…" - I gesture at the board in front of me - "For naked chess."
"Oh, Jesus. Do I need to be naked as well?"
"Yes, of course. This is my Valentine's Day present too, you know."
Ron doesn't hesitate. He pulls his satchel over his head and lets it drop to the floor, then struggles out of his giant padded winter coat.
"Bloody Valentine's Day… why does it have to be in February… too many clothes to take off..."
He untangles his long striped woollen scarf and tosses it aside. I wolf-whistle at him and he shoots me an ironic look.
"You do realise that nothing I ever do from now on can possibly top this, don't you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well… I could buy you diamond-encrusted knickers next year, and you'd still win. You're always going to win. I just can't beat naked chess."
"You could probably beat me at naked chess, though…"
He gives a hollow laugh. "What, with you sitting opposite me dressed like that? I'll be lucky if you don't completely thrash me. Actually, I'll be lucky if I can even remember what the pieces are called."
He plonks himself down next to me and leans forward to untie his shoelaces.
"God, my fingers are too bloody cold to untie these!"
I slide off the sofa and kneel at his feet. "Here, let me do it. Gosh, you really have tied these tight."
Ron shakes his head in wonder, watching me. "You know, I think that's got to be one of the sexiest things I've ever seen in my entire life."
"What, you like me on my knees, do you?" I tease.
Ron lets out a soft moan. "Don't even say things like that. Or is this all part of your strategy to beat me at chess?" He affects shock. "Is that what this is all about? Is this you deciding that after ten years it's about time you finally won a match, and this was the only way you could think of to win?"
I slap his shin gently and glare at him. "No, this is about me wanting to do something nice for my boyfriend to show him how much I love him on Valentine's Day, but if you care so much about winning, I'm quite happy to put my clothes back on."
Ron looks horrified. "No, please don't do that! No, Jesus, sod the chess!"
I finish untying his laces, and pull his shoes off, then his socks, before hauling myself upright and sitting back down beside him. He runs his hand slowly up my bare back and bends his head to press his lips to my shoulder, before a thought occurs to him.
"How long have you been sitting there?"
"Not long. An hour, maybe."
"But I might really have gone to the pub! You could have been sitting there for hours! And even worse, I'd have been in the pub wasting valuable naked time talking to Fat Nigel about Quidditch!"
I laugh. "Yes, but I knew you weren't in the pub. You used the exact same excuse on my birthday."
He chuckles. "Did I?"
"You would remember that. I can't get away with anything with you, can I?"
I tug impatiently at the hem of his jumper. "No. Now hurry up, slowcoach. The sooner you get out of these clothes, the sooner naked chess can begin."
Ron grins, then pulls his jumper and t-shirt over his head and lets them fall behind the sofa.
"Not that I don't like the idea of naked chess, but you do know there are lots of other things we can do naked, don't you?"
"Of course I do."
"Of course you do."
"I made a list."
Ron bursts into laughter, and I glare at him.
"Is this an actual list, Hermione? Please don't tell me you made a pie chart!"
"Where would I keep a list?" I deadpan, gesturing down at my naked body.
The corners of his mouth turn up slightly. "I hate to think."
I affect shock. "You're completely filthy, you know that?"
"And you love it."
"I'm not denying it. Well?"
"Don't you want to hear it?"
"Oh, God, you've no idea how much I want to hear it!"
"Trousers off, then."
He laughs. "I love it when you order me about. It's just sooo sexy..."
Ron lets out an exaggerated sigh, then hauls himself to his feet, yanks his trousers and pants down to his ankles in one swift movement, steps out of them carefully, and kicks them away from him. I allow my gaze to rake up and down his body the way he did with mine, and then our eyes lock.
I pat the sofa beside me, and he sits down next to me, still rather uncertain.
"Why do I feel like a bit of an idiot?" he grumbles.
"Trust me, it'll wear off. I felt a little foolish at first, too. Anyway," I tease, "It's not like you haven't been naked on this sofa before."
"Yeah, but I wasn't playing chess, was I?"
We both look up as Crookshanks saunters out of the bedroom and gives us a thoroughly disdainful, "Oh, god, what are the humans up to now?" look.
"Crookshanks," warns Ron, "You come anywhere near my lap and I'll hex your tail off. I mean it."
"Ron!" I scold, trying not to laugh.
"Well, I will," says Ron, fiercely.
Crookshanks raises his head in the air and strolls into the kitchen in search of food.
Ron turns to me in sudden panic. "I've just thought… what happens if we get any surprise visitors?"
I consider for a moment. "Well… I suppose we just don't answer the door."
"Right. But what if it's a delivery man or something?"
"Well, I don't think that's very likely, is it?"
"Well, what if Harry comes round and doesn't get an answer and thinks we've been murdered in our beds or something? He might Apparate into the flat! What if it's my Mum?"
I give him one of my finest deathly glares. "Well, I imagine that before that happened, there would probably be an opportunity for us to reassure him we're not dead and to tell him to come back tomorrow."
Ron opens his mouth again, but I cut him off. "And anyway, why would Harry pay us a visit on Valentine's Day? Don't you think he might be kind of busy himself?"
He pulls a face. "That's my sister you're talking about."
"I don't think we need worry about surprise visitors, Ron."
He nods distractedly. "I'm sure you're right. Oh!"
"I, er, might need to borrow your phone later."
He looks a little sheepish. "Well, if we're not going to leave the flat all weekend..."
"You need to cancel the restaurant?" I finish for him.
He flushes slightly. "Um... yeah."
"Forget it. We can go to a restaurant any time. This is better."
"What kind of restaurant was it?" I ask him. "Not French, I hope!"
I laugh gaily, then realise that Ron isn't laughing.
"But you hate French food! Why on earth did you book a table at a French restaurant?"
"Supposed to be romantic," mumbles Ron.
"But the last time we ate French food you spent the entire night on the toilet! What's so romantic about dysentery?"
"Only because I had the snails!" retorts Ron, clearly mortified by the memory. "Can we not have this conversation now? Please?"
"Sorry. But seriously; next time? I'll be quite happy with a pizza, OK?"
He laughs. "I'll bear it in mind."
We grin at each other.
"So, talking of food..." he begins.
"What about it?"
"Well, I don't know about you, but I don't really fancy wandering about the kitchen with all those knives and hot pans lying around."
"We could order takeaways."
"Not if we can't answer the door."
I heave a sigh. "Ron..."
"Do you want me to put my clothes back on again?"
"You're right. I don't know what I'm talking about. We'll just eat sandwiches or something. Ice-cream. No, not ice-cream, it's too cold. Toast. I dunno. Oh, who cares!" he adds hastily, before I can change my mind. As if I'm going to change my mind!
A little light goes on in my head. "This mysterious delivery man that might turn up tomorrow... he wouldn't be a florist, would he?"
"No," says Ron, not entirely convincingly.
I raise a quizzical eyebrow.
"You know, it's supposed to be a surprise," he says, rather grumpily.
"It's Valentine's Day, Ronald. I'd be more surprised if you hadn't bought me flowers. Did you buy champagne and chocolates as well?"
"It's supposed to be a surprise!"
"Because I was just thinking that a nice glass of champagne would go down very well indeed..." I whisper, tracing a finger down his forearm in what I hope is a seductive manner.
He laughs, the grumpiness gone in an instant, and reaches down into his rucksack. "Well, it's a good thing I put a chilling spell on this earlier, then!"
"You're wonderful," I tell him, admiringly. "You really thought of everything. Champagne, flowers, chocolates..."
"Maybe we could open those as well," he suggests hopefully. "I mean, since it's not going to be a surprise..."
I shake my head. "Let's save the chocolates for tomorrow. I mean, we don't want to spoil our dinner, do we?"
Ron's disappointment at not getting to open the chocolates is immediately replaced by delight at the imminent prospect of food.
"You've made dinner? Fantastic, I'm starving! What are we having?"
He glances automatically towards the kitchen and when he looks back I am holding out a small plastic container on the palm of my hand.
"Me," I tell him, smiling.
He blinks in confusion. "What?"
"Read the label."
"The other half of your Valentine's Day present."
"What, because you thought that you being naked all weekend wouldn't be enough?"
"Just read it."
Ron squints down at the label. "Chocolate body pai-"
His eyes widen, his mouth falls open, and then, to my confusion, he bursts out laughing.
"What's so funny?" I demand, annoyed.
He shakes his head. "Nothing. I'm sorry. It's just... well... you haven't been speaking to Percy, have you?"
I am more confused than ever. "Percy? No. Why?"
"You don't want to know. Believe me."
I don't know what to say. This wasn't the response I was expecting. "You know, it's supposed to be romantic..." I tell him, rather crossly.
He leans in and kisses me on the mouth. "Actually, I think it's supposed to be sexy rather than romantic, but either way it's fantastic."
"Really?" I ask, still rather thrown by his reaction.
"It's chocolate body paint, Hermione! What's not to like?"
We giggle like a couple of teenagers who have just held hands for the first time, and lean in for another kiss.
"Well,now..." he whispers, "Since I've had my present..."
He reaches down into his rucksack again and pulls out an elaborately gift wrapped box about ten inches square.
"Happy not-quite-Valentine's Day."
I take the box gingerly from his hands. It is very light, and my stomach gives a sickly lurch. I have an awful feeling that the evening is about to be roundly ruined.
"I hope you like it," he says, watching me carefully for my reaction.
"It's beautifully wrapped."
"Ah, well, I can't take the credit for that. They wrapped it in the shop."
I unwrap it as slowly as I can, all the time thinking, Please don't be a red lace basque, please don't be a red lace basque...
I take a deep breath and pull out something that is neither red, nor lacy, nor – oh, thank God! – crotchless. Instead it is a surprisingly tasteful matching bra and knickers set in a silky chocolate brown shade.
"Matches your eyes," mumbles Ron, and I think he knows full well how cheesy that sounds because he can't even look me in the eye when he says it.
I give him an "I can't believe you just said that" look, and we both laugh.
"Sorry," he says, sheepishly.
"I'm just glad it's not in Cannons colours," I joke weakly.
"Oh, believe me, I did look. Funnily enough, they don't seem to make many bright orange bras."
I attempt to surreptitiously check the size, but I am not quick enough.
"It's the right size," he says, a touch defensively. "I know what bra size you are."
I suddenly feel very hot and flushed, and am suddenly seized by a vision of Ron looming over me with a tape measure in the middle of the night, measuring my boobs while I'm asleep.
"How?" I ask, rather huskily.
He looks at me as though I've lost my mind. "I checked the labels on your bras, of course. Why, is there a spell for that sort of thing? Tell me if there is," he adds jokingly, "'Cos Seamus will think all his Christmases have come at once."
"It's really nice," I tell him, hoping he can't hear either the surprise or relief in my voice.
Ron looks rather uncertain. "You like it?"
"I do. I was worried I wouldn't, but... I really do."
"Why were you worried?" he asks, looking amused.
I shrug. "Well... it's a bit of a minefield, isn't it? Buying lingerie for your girlfriend. I was worried you might buy me something I hated and I'd have to pretend I liked it."
He laughs. "Yeah, I was worried about that too. Actually, don't laugh, but I seriously considered buying you some of those magic knickers."
I burst out laughing. "Do you actually know what magic knickers are?"
"Yeah, there was a picture on the box. Thank Merlin, 'cos otherwise I might actually have bought them, and this weekend would have panned out a whole lot differently..."
We both laugh, and lean in for another kiss.
I take a deep breath and look down at the floor for a moment to steel myself.
"Would you like me to... try it on?"
Ron takes an inordinately long time to answer, and then, much to my surprise, he shakes his head. "Umm... I can't believe I'm saying this, but... you know what? I really don't. Not that I'm not desperate to see you modelling it, 'cos I am, it's just..."
"You prefer what I've got on now?" I finish for him.
I can't pretend I'm not relieved. I rather suspect that several glasses of Dutch courage will be required before I feel comfortable modelling my present.
Ron starts to laugh. "Do you have any idea how stressed I've been getting about tomorrow? Trying to make it perfect for you, trying to make our first proper Valentine's day together one to remember. Honestly, I think I must have trailed around every shop in London. I've been asking everyone I know for advice too. And here you are... and it's so simple... you're naked, there's chocolate... I just don't think you could actually have made this any better. And I just bought stuff."
I smile. "Champagne and chocolates isn't just stuff, Ron. But you're right. I've been getting all stressed out trying to find you the perfect present too. And all the time..."
"The answer was right under your... clothes..." he finishes, laughing.
I can't help laughing too. "But it's true! I wanted so much for our first Valentine's Day together to be perfect, and I missed the fact that it's already perfect because it's our first Valentine's Day together. I mean, can you even remember what we did on Valentine's Day last year?"
He shakes his head.
"We were living in a cave and in fear of our lives. The year before that we were living in a cave too. And the year before that..."
"The year before that, I was still going out with Lavender and trying to think of ways to dump her, and you weren't even speaking to me," he finishes, burying his face in his hands in horror at the memory.
"Exactly. And look at us now."
"Sitting naked on a sofa?" he grins.
"Sitting naked on our sofa, in our flat, with a whole weekend of nakedness ahead of us. We're alive, Ron, and we're together, and - did I ever tell you I love you?"
He smiles. "A few times. Tell me again anyway."
"I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you!"
He takes me in his arms and kisses me, and the little tub of chocolate body paint slips from my hand and rolls across the floor.
"Did I ever tell you how beautiful you are?" he whispers into my ear.
I smile. "A few times. Tell me again."
He kisses my forehead tenderly. "You're beautiful." He kisses my neck. "And this is perfect." He kisses my shoulder. "And you're perfect." His lips graze mine. "And I love you."
We kiss again, and slide down on the sofa until I am lying half on top of him. The flames from the fire cast tiny flickering shadows across our skin. Ron kisses the top of my head and pulls me tight against him, murmuring my name into my hair. I close my eyes and surrender myself to the feel of his arms around me and the warmth of his skin pressed against mine. His fingers draw soft little figures of eight in the small of my back and I let out a sigh of contentment.
After a few minutes Ron starts to laugh, and I lift my head and look up at him.
He grins and shakes his head. "Well... it's my birthday in two weeks. I was just wondering how you're going to top this..."
Well, that one went to the wire! Hope you enjoyed the unexpected extra couple of chapters, and that you got through Valentine's Day mostly unscathed. Please leave a review if you can, and do sign up for my Author Alerts if you haven't already, because there may well be another little one-off treat next month. It "may" be themed around another day of celebration, and "may" possibly feature Ron and Seamus and rather a lot of Guinness. Ooh, I am a tease, aren't I?
Pb, Feb 14th 2011. 23.57 pm GMT.
p.s.: Anyone who can find another Valentine's Day story that features both the words "crotchless" and "dysentery" wins a prize!