Author's note: I'll admit, in the past, I have not been that supportive of Ron and Hermione as a couple. I always pictured Hermione with Harry, but have only recently begun to see the appeal and rightness of Ron, too. :) I've come to love both pairings in a slightly lopsided way that I suppose could never exist in real life or the world of Harry Potter. So, with that being said, here is a story for the Ron/Hermione side of me and for you, too. :) I hope I did their relationship and the characters themselves justice. This story could take place at any point in the series, I think, but would be more rightly timed at the end. Maybe around the Order of the Phoenix or the Half-Blood Prince, when Ron and Hermione's ship really began to build steam. For a fair warning, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is referenced in this story and the ending is given away; so, if you haven't read it and want to (which I suggest you do! :)) be warned, you will walk away knowing who ends up with who, if it isn't already commonly well known, which I think it is. lol
Reviews are greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and, if you feel so compelled, review.
A Cat and A Rat
Somehow, he should have expected it. Should have, but hadn't, and now, he couldn't take his eyes off of her.
She lay perfectly along the common room's couch, her legs at a slight bend, her body curved to accommodate the latest book she read. Her skin was glowing, sun-kissed and warm. Her hair was a shade lighter, more golden than brown; and for once, it was straight. Straight. Sleek and golden and angled along her collar bone in a manner that made his insides tighten.
And there were freckles, too. Beautiful, brown freckles that were more heightened along of the bridge of her nose and tops of her tanned shoulders. Freckles that came from the sun, which she must have worshiped all summer. The visual that cropped up in his mind was too much for him to bear; he promptly got up from his spot by the window and attempted to walk out the feelings in his stomach, an action which attracted a pair of chocolate eyes.
Hermione Jane Granger wasn't supposed to look like this, he told himself as he offered her a shaky smile. Hermione wasn't supposed to wear shorts. She wasn't supposed to fan herself with bronzed fingers and move around with the agility of a cat. He knew that if on the horrifying off-chance she could read his mind, she would certainly deem him a rat, and a filthy one at that, but he couldn't control his eyes or his thoughts. He didn't want to.
He made another round about the common room before swooping in, boldly catching her ankles in his large, pale hands and hoisting them up before he sat down in their place. Her skin still seemed to be radiating heat built up from the summer's sun. The motion startled her, as he let her legs drape across his lap, settling into the couch with a nervous gulp.
Her eyes were fixed on him for a moment, then flew to her ankles, which he still held, and then to the two empty armchairs on either side of them. She closed her book deliberately, leaning up, with one elbow propped into the cushion.
"Ronald?" she began archly, her eyes bearing into him. "Did you need something?"
A million clever comebacks instantly clouded his mind, but he didn't give rise to the first one. He settled on a carefully worded, "No."
"Hmm…" was the only sound that came from her lips before she swung her ankles off of his lap, much to his dismay.
"Why?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly.
She sat up, placing her book at the far edge of the couch, instead of between them as he had anticipated. "No reason," she replied, her eyes falling on the two empty chairs again.
She knew. His stomach rolled uncomfortably; he silently cursed himself for being so obvious, so blatantly readable. His eyes met hers reluctantly, letting his hand rest on the plump cushion of the couch.
She smiled, looking downward to her knees before looking back at him.
There he sat, tall, broad shouldered and awkward. The paleness of his skin would have been astonishing against the shock of unkempt red upon his head if it had not been for the ruddy pigment that now stained his cheeks. His rosy lips met in an unbalanced pucker, as if lost in a reflective stupor.
She had to admit, he'd changed over the summer. His muscles looked a little more formed, lean and rounded beneath his skin, a product of furious games of Quidditch with his brothers. He stood taller than before, despite the fact that he hunched over so he wouldn't stand out too much. And his voice was deeper, a pleasant, cavernous rumble that made her feel quite warm.
"Busy Saturday?" he inquired, desperate to fill the silence with noise.
Hermione stretched in a way that was not so different from Crookshanks, her feet planted on the ground, toes pointing and back arching slightly as she completed the motion. Gracefully, she placed her hands back in her lap before turning to Ron again. "Not too busy. I've mainly been reading, for fun."
"Right," he said, an easy smile forming on his lips. "And what tome was it, then?"
Rolling her eyes lightly, she reached for her worn copy of Pride and Prejudice, displaying it before he seized it from her fingers.
"Ah," he breathed, his fingers running along the pages as if it were a flipbook. "The timeless Muggle classic."
"It's not just for Muggles, you know. It's for all people. Love is universal."
"And how does it end?" he pondered, scanning over some of the marked pages.
"How do you think it ends?"
He stopped flipping for a moment, looking at her instead, carefully. "He gets the girl?"
"Who gets the girl? And what is said girl's name?" she inquired, a playful smirk pulling at her lips.
"Uhhh," he muttered, flipping through the book quickly, his eyes scanning the pages. "Bingley. And…uhhh…Elizabeth?"
"No," she sighed, trying to stifle a laugh. "Care to try again?"
"Let's see…" He thumbed through the pages some more. "Bingley and Caroline?"
"Oh, heaven's no!" Hermione laughed, barely breathing. "They're siblings Ron!"
He flipped the book over, searching for a description on the jacket, rolling his eyes when he found none. "Of course you would read the book that doesn't have a description!"
Hermione shrugged lightly, taking the book from his fingers and placing it on the coffee table with care.
"So, who does he get?"
"Bingley," Ron said, earnestly curious.
"What makes you so certain that Bingley is the hero?"
"I dunno," he shrugged. "Feels right?"
A smile that Ron would never understand danced across her mouth as she remembered the character of Mr. Bingley in her mind. He wasn't the dashing, mysterious, brooding man that Mr. Darcy was. He was the optimistic, sociable, charming friend of Darcy's. A man who was so much like Ron that the similarities drew her more toward Bingley while reading, instead of being enamored by Darcy's transformation and passion for Elizabeth.
"So," he pressed. "Who is it?"
For a moment, Hermione was at a loss for words as Ron looked at her, his sapphire eyes sparkling with anticipation. "I don't want to ruin it for you."
"Hermione," he began flatly. "Do you honestly think I'd pick up a book like that? I'll never read it. So, just tell me."
She sat up a little straighter, trying not to take offense. "Well, maybe you should."
"C'mon, now. Just tell me. No harm, no foul, right?"
Hermione couldn't look at him when she replied, "The main character ends up with Elizabeth Bennet."
"I was right, then! And on the first try too. That's just like you to string me along."
She smiled lightly, trying to comprehend, without dwelling on the falsehood too much, why she had lied about one of her most beloved novels. Well, technically, it wasn't a lie, right? So, Bingley didn't end up with Elizabeth. Was it too much to ask for a real-life Lizzy to end up with a Mr. Bingley? Was she, herself, destined to weed through brooding Darcys to find her one and only Bingley? If she did, would she throw the world off balance in the process?
"Hermione?" he muttered, waving a hand in front of her face.
"Sorry, Ron," she replied, a little dazed by her own thoughts.
"S'okay," he murmured, concentration apparent in his voice. "Why'd you do this, anyway?"
His fingers were twisted among the ends of her smooth hair, trapping it between two of his fingers. Hermione's breathing quickened as he stroked the silky strands, waiting for her to respond.
"I – I don't know," she stammered, trying to think clearly. "I wanted to try something different, I guess. Ginny helped me."
"Was it her idea?" he wondered.
"A little," she admitted sheepishly, feeling warmth rising to her cheeks.
"I like it," he said softly, letting his fingers pull through the ends of her hair. "It's nice."
"Thank you, Ron," she replied, looking at him fully and catching his eye.
"You're welcome," he smiled, noticing the blush in her cheeks.
A comfortable silence spread out around them, replacing words with glances and smiles. Their hands, both resting on the couch, inched closer with every passing second, and when the sides of their hands touched, Ron's eyes conveniently became rather interested in his shoes, Hermione's entranced by the empty fireplace. The contact was subtle, a sweeping of butterfly's wings on a blossom. It was the kind of touch that would go 'unnoticed' and unspoken of due to the fact that neither of them would look at their hands, though both felt it strongly.
Ron's pinkie finger bravely gazed Hermione's – which gave a small, instinctive jolt – before gliding over it and curling under her soft tissue. She felt as if she could float without use of her wand as the surge of electricity raced up her arm, making every part of her luminous.
She wished he would take her hand wholly, loop his fingers through hers, tangling them so completely that they wouldn't know how to unknot them. She wished he would take her in his arms and hold her tightly. She wished he would scoop her up, without warning, and kiss her deeply. She wanted to know the pressure of his lips, the warmth of his hands.
But her desires remained unspoken, veiled deep in her eyes as he turned to look at her. His blue eyes seemed to glisten, brimming with unspoken words and uncompleted actions. But as always, Ron and Hermione remained silent. They exchanged small smiles again, and he cleared his throat. She would not know the extent of her desires, not today.
Hope, it seemed, remained in the shadows, lingering behind unspoken words and heated bickering matches. Always waiting. Hermione took a deep breath, her mind clouded with guarded actions and ignorable, feather light touches. Unspoken of, disregardable, but never forgettable.
Her mind drifted to a time when thousands of words were spoken in a glance, meaning was communicated through a brush of fingers, and love was revealed through a smile. A time when Elizabeths might have fallen for Bingleys, when prescribed conventions didn't always precede true love.
This gave her hope, unflagging and wild. A hope for something an Elizabeth would not have dreamed for herself, but was too strong to be trifled with. A hope for a cat and a rat.