Author's Note; This was supposed to be a smut fic, but it turned out all cutesy and fairly innocent. Who knows? =P
Anything you recognize, I don't own. Set after DH but pre-epilogue.
Post AN: This one has been revised, too! Not super extensively – I even managed to keep the original tone and plot and theme. =P I think it's interesting to note, though, that in the entire three month period when I was on and off working on this fic it never occurred to me that Hermione MUST have seen Ron shirtless during the hunt – at the very least, when she was taking care of his splinching, although I don't recall if they actually removed his shirt in the book. -Sigh-. Well, I'm so unwilling to rewrite this entire thing (because, realistically, this fic is 50% mooning at Ron's chest, 25% fluff and 25% general cheek and style and I LIKE IT THE WAY IT IS), so JUST PRETEND, OKAY!
After spending the day after the final battle within the broken walls of Hogwarts, everyone was sent home.
Hermione couldn't bear the idea of facing her parents, facing anybody who wasn't the Weasleys or Harry, and so she went home to the Burrow. Molly was scrabbling desperately to try and fill any spare seconds that could have been used for thinking, and found that the best way to do that was to delegate unto everyone (including, for once, herself), any tasks that she could come up with. This meant that Ginny, Ron, George, Percy, Charlie, Bill, Arthur, Fleur, Hermione and Harry also rarely had a spare moment to think, much less time in which they could actually talk to one another.
Amongst the ten of them and Molly, in the last three days alone they had stripped and re-made all the beds in the house three times, made nine perfectly-prepared gourmet meals, de-gnomed the garden anytime Molly could semi-reasonably imagine she'd heard or seen one, built another chicken coop (this one for actual chickens), fenced all of the Weasley property (Fleur, Harry and Hermione couldn't find any rhyme or reason to the layout of the grounds, but all the Weasleys seemed to have a map of the maze that was the bounds of the property burned into their brains), re-carpeted all the carpeted rooms, finally fixed that old leaky sink, cleaned the entire place to a spotless shine, and were now in the process of painting the house a certainly very interesting shade of sunny yellow.
Hermione brushed a curl of hair out of her eyes. She'd taken the time this morning, a selfish moment to breathe in front of the mirror, to slick her hair back into a French braid, but now, at about eleven in the morning, the curls were already breaking free. She adjusted her overalls (yes, overalls – Harry had sniggered for ten minutes straight when he first saw them) and dunked the over-sized brush into the can again. Nobody had asked why they were taking hours to do manually what could have been finished with magic in just a few minutes; it was something to do, something to ease the pain and off-set the happiness for a time when it wouldn't be bitter-sweet.
This was one of the few times that Molly had actually put more then one person on a job at a time, but she knew that painting was relatively mindless work, and had gone ahead and put both Ron and Hermione to work on the job. Needless to say, things were still tense between the two of them, since Molly hadn't allowed them a moment alone until now. Ron had blushed scarlet when Molly had presented the day's assignment, and had high-tailed for the back of the house as soon as he and Hermione were left to their work.
As she splashed another few coats of yellow onto the Burrow, Hermione debated using her wand to get this all good and done with, but before long, her mind had drifted to decidedly uncouth subjects...
The Death Eaters had captured her and Ron (she couldn't come up with a good reason why Harry wasn't there, so she just decided to ignore his entire existence, or maybe he was dead...?) and, just like he had in Malfoy Manor, Ron was once more trying to get them to take him in place of her when she saw something pale, gorgeous, and definitely not wood. "Oh!" She exclaimed and fumbled to keep from dropping her paintbrush, painting the entire left side of her chin and most of her collarbone in the process. She'd caught Ron by surprise as well and he whirled around, reaching for his wand – an instinct fostered by seven years of war. He faltered even further when he realized what he'd done and who he was now looking at and, having fought with and against him before, it didn't surprise her that he spread his stance and set his jaw. He also – more surprising then his survival instincts – crossed his arms over his lovely, deliciously bare chest.
Covered in paint and in – for Merlin's sake – overalls, she felt as self-conscious as he did and – in her opinion, she felt that way for better reasons. His dark trousers clung to legs and an arse she only wished she could see. He must have ditched his shirt somewhere along the way, because that was definitely his gorgeous, pale flesh peaking out from under his crossed arms, and she wondered idly what shade of brown his lovely nipples must be, how big his pectorals were... (Sometime after he'd finally come back to the hunt, she'd given up on punishing these thoughts and figured that as long as she didn't actually say them, she was pretty well off). Luckily, she could see his stomach. She took the time to rephrase; a stomach that looked like that was not just a stomach, a belly, a tummy – no. It was an abdomen. And God, it was beautiful. Not quite a full set of...of whatever those stomach-muscle-things were (she made a mental note to look the correct term up later), but he certainly had that first line vertically, and the beginnings of all of those other highly interesting horizontal lines – and she figured it was for the best, because anything further would have made her feel even more inferior. He was pale – the only viable reason Hermione could come up with that he might be shy about that lovely, lovely piece of anatomy – and not-quite-covered in freckles. His face was flushed, blue eyes momentarily hidden by a sheet of flaming red hair and a ducked head. Her first instinct was to want to vehemently ask why, in Merlin's name, he'd want to cover that fit (she'd never think a bad thing about Quidditch ever, ever again), pale chest, but she somehow saved herself from saying that, at least. "Y-y-y-you're all finished with the other side, then?" She asked instead, flustered.
"Yeah... I uh-" He started, but was cut off by a suddenly very shrill Hermione.
"You must be a faster painter then I am!" she said loudly.
Ron pressed his lips together and nodded, absentmindedly letting one hand sneak up to rub at the back of his neck, and the other went down to slip into the front pocket of his jeans – Hermione sucked in her breath at the now exposed chest. It startled him, and his arms snapped back into place. Bloody fu-
"Yeah, I guess I am... But, you know, you get started thinking and-" He trailed off absently, watching her guardedly as though expecting her to cut him off again. And she would have, too, if he hadn't moved his arms. She was far too busy cursing every deity she could think of to worry about such trivial things as his words or her dignity. "I got started thinking and didn't really think about what I was actually doing."
"Yeah, me too..." Hermione said, recovering quickly, hoping she wasn't agreeing to something terribly heinous. Hopefully, they were still on the subject of painting, because otherwise she would have to embrace her harebrained shame fully. "I guess I just move slower than you do." That lead her to thinking about what, exactly, they could be doing quickly, slowly, at any pace they bloody well pleased... "What were you thinking about, then?" she asked, thrown thoroughly off-track once again, and grasping at straws to find something to say.
"Y-" he started, and then caught himself and pulled back. "Oh, well... nothing, really... You?" He said the last word hopelessly.
Hermione was half-tempted to say something provocative, but threw that out idea out largely because her brain was not functioning on nearly a high enough plane for that sort of mind game. Oddly enough, she was even more tempted to tell him the truth, but of course, this last impulse was thoroughly unacceptable. "Nothing, really."
They stood in silence for a moment, looking at anything but each other – the trees, the grass, that hideous shade of yellow they'd been slathering onto the house – when Hermione suddenly felt a hand along her jaw-line and saw not the particularly desolate-looking shrub she'd been previously staring at but a fiery red halo of hair, surrounded by the sun.
Once she was aware what he was doing – and oh, Merlin, once she was aware, she was aware – one hand snaked into his hair and the other splayed across his back with the quickness and ferocity of lightning. She got her hand there just in time to feel the tensed muscles of his back relax then tense once more as his lips touched hers', and she opened her mouth to laugh before she realized that she should have opened her mouth a long time ago for much better reasons.
He seemed to take her sudden attack on him as a cue that he wasn't going to be yelled at or hexed by canaries, and his hands slipped to her hips, which he held like they might disintegrate at any moment, but, she noticed slyly, he didn't bring closer to him.
Of course, all other thoughts of anything else flew from her head once she felt his tongue. Hermione struggled to keep herself upright and mentally present, all the while kissing him fiercely. He attacked her just as passionately, and she could feel him curling over her, back hunched in an effort to reach her lips. She stood on her tiptoes, feeling her bare toes dig into the grass as she did so. Instinctively, Ron started walking Hermione back towards the side of the house. "Wait," she said, breathlessly jerking away.
"What?" Ron half-whined, although the words came out gruffer than she guessed he had originally intended. He swallowed hard, then cleared his throat.
Hermione twisted away from him to take his hand and pulled him to a spot where the Burrow behind her was not yet painted. He looked over the top of her head, smiled, and leaned down to kiss her once more, pressing her against the Burrow with force. Unable to help herself, she squirmed, and without thought on either Ron's part or Hermione's, he picked her up, one hand just under her arse and the other pressed against the Burrow next to where her head now rested. Hermione's breath caught at the sudden sexual contact, and Ron's skin heated against her's as he immediately went to let go, but Hermione clung to him.
"No, please, don't," she hissed, unable to put any considerable power behind her words. "I like it, really." She lost her breath momentarily as he growled softly at her words and leaned his forehead against her's. Hermione launched herself at him once more, throwing Ron off balance. He stumbled for a moment before settling her back once more against the wall. Hermione flattened one of her hands against his chest, utterly raw at the feeling of his muscles moving beneath her, while the other was wound through his red hair, pulling him closer. She whimpered softly as his hand shifted beneath her bum, rubbing softly, almost reverently. Hermione could feel him smile against her lips and she was just about to smile back when a soft thud sounded behind them.
Hermione froze, but Ron flinched back and dropped her as though she was on fire. He turned on a dime, standing stiffly in front of a still stumbling Hermione in what was once more clearly a war-bred habit. Hermione peeked around Ron's arm to see Harry standing there, a bucket of paint to one side, arms crossed over a plain blue t-shirt. His smirking made Hermione laugh softly, which caused Ron to flinch. "It's about bloody time. Ginny and I were about to die from all the sexual tension coming off you two. Molly sent me to tell you lunch was on the table but, er... I believe I'll tell them you just wanted to do a bit more work. Have fun."
Harry smiled cheekily, picked up the bucket of paint with a flourish, and headed back into the house with an extra skip in his step.
For a while, Ron and Hermione stood, staring blankly at the spot Harry had filled, until, softly, Hermione started to giggle. Not long after, Ron laughed as well, and soon, they were back where they'd started.