Thanks to all my reviewers! You are stars, as ever

Chapter Four – The Party in Full Swing

Hermione was enjoying being so close to Ron. Finally, an excuse to be this close to him without her crying uncontrollably and apologising over a dead rat or something equally as ridiculous – he felt so good and warm. She was glad her face was hidden from him; she was blushing so much.

Ron didn't quite know what to make of it; Hermione's body pressed against his the way it was! He'd never been this close to her – they'd hugged once after their fight in third year but that was more like a rugby tackle on Hermione's part. By comparison, this time was very different.

Unfortunately, a much livelier track began playing and feeling Ron stir a bit, Hermione said, 'I don't want to sit down, I'm...'

Ron stared down at the top of her head against his chest.

'I'm enjoying it. You know, being together... with you...' She admitted, breathlessly.

'Oh,' he replied staring straight ahead, 'First time anyone's ever said that to me - mostly they just want me to shut the door from the other side.'

Hermione laughed; she loved him, he was so funny without even trying.

A camera suddenly flashed beside them at hip level and for one mad moment Ron thought that Slughorn had hired the house elves to take some souvenir photo's of the night until he realised it was little Colin Creevey (who had never grown very tall in all his years at Hogwarts).

'Hi Ron! Hi Hermione! I didn't know you were coming together? Are you going out now? Harry didn't tell me! I saw him a minute ago – I can't believe I've been hired to take photos of the party! It's great this party isn't it?' He said, all in one breath as he held out the Polaroid he'd just taken of them.

'Thanks Colin, that's wonderful,' Hermione broke apart from Ron to receive Colin's photo.

'Yeah, thanks Colin,' Ron muttered sarcastically, annoyed at the interruption.

Colin however, failed to get Ron's irony and bounced off with even more enthusiasm in Harry's direction, obliviously trailing several balloons behind him that had got snagged on his camera strap.

Unfortunately Colin's interruption had broken their reverie and they looked at one another awkwardly.

'Let's sit down for a bit,' Ron decided.

The seats at their previous table had been taken, so they picked their drinks up and went to find Harry and Luna. However they realised that this decision would lead them straight into a crowd which contained Colin, Slughorn, a seedy looking photographer and at least two pale faced men drinking blood, so they wisely veered off in the direction of the Christmas tree.

'Wow,' exclaimed Ron as they drew near the tree, 'This is almost as good as the one in the Great Hall.'

'Well you know Slughorn – he only has the best. He probably knows someone who went into the enchanted Christmas tree business,' Hermione stared in awe at the glistening gold on the tree branches and live fairies scooting around the leaves.

Unfortunately the sight of the tree was not enough to block out the conversation happening on the other side. Apparently two students were admitting their undying love whilst half emerged in the branches, having drunkenly fallen in.

'You know what,' Ron said with a panicked expression at Hermione, who looked equally as awkward with what they were hearing, 'I think I'm missing the vampires...'

They moved away to try and find Harry again, however the room had gotten so packed that finding anyone smaller than Hagrid was going to be impossible.

'This is driving me mental,' Ron muttered as people shoved passed him and knocked Hermione's glass, 'Come on, follow me...'

They managed to sneak out of the office into the cool dungeon air.

'Bloody hell. I never thought I'd be glad to see this corridor,' Ron looked over at Snape's classroom door.

'Shall we go for a walk?' Hermione suggested.

'Yeah, alright.'

Their walk took them all the way up to the astronomy tower. Hermione was finding it much easier talking to Ron in the absence of a party. Walking seemed to make her mind work and she was able to keep the conversation flowing. They laughed and chatted all the way to the tower where the cool night air was welcoming as they stood overlooking the grounds on the balcony.

'This is loads better,' Ron closed his eyes and leant against the stone archway.

'Yes it is,' Hermione agreed, 'I've never been one for large crowds of people really.'

'Neither have I. Sort of weird seeing as how I've been brought up in the same house as one,' Ron grinned.

Hermione suddenly shivered – it was much colder away from the party and she was becoming chilly as the snow fell outside the balcony; she rubbed her arms.

'Do you want my jacket?' Ron offered, noticing her discomfort.

'If you don't mind. You've got shirt sleeves under there haven't you?'

'Yeah – here you go,' He said, draping his jacket over her shoulders.

'Thank you,' she responded, still shivering.

Ron kept looking at her; she wasn't stopping. Without really thinking about it, he stood behind her and began rubbing her arms through his jacket.

Hermione couldn't help it; she actually gasped.

'Thanks,' she said, her teeth chattering slightly.

'Mum used to do it to us when we were cold,' He muttered from behind her.

After a minute or so, he stopped and moved away.

'Is that any better?' He asked, standing beside the archway again.

Her cheeks were pink and she'd stopped shivering.

'Much.'

Ron grinned, 'We ought to do less bickering and more of this.'

'Definitely,' breathed Hermione.

'Hermione?' He began, 'Can I just say that despite all the nutjobs down there – I've actually really enjoyed tonight.'

'Thanks... I think.' Hermione smiled at him and shook her head slightly.

'Nah, you know, I mean... you've made my night really,' Ron blushed.

'Well I didn't really think it was Colin who had,' Hermione replied, amused.

'No,' Ron stared, oblivious to Hermione's humour, 'Definitely you.'

'Oh,' Hermione looked at him, realising he was being serious for once.

He took a step towards her but he faltered, 'Are you alright with that?'

'Of course I am...' she said, quietly.

He was closer again.

'And are you alright... with me?'

'Oh Ron, I'm more than alright with you.' She flushed as she realised her words – but it was too late, they were spoken.

He was very close. She watched his adams apple bob as he swallowed; she did the same.

'Good,' He croaked then whispered, 'I think you're more than alright too...'

His lips were ghosting over hers lightly; they both closed their eyes at the touch. When she didn't pull away, Ron pressed a little harder and they both moaned softly. After a beautiful ten seconds he pulled away and they opened their eyes to stare at one another.

Without warning, Hermione let out a small squeak, pulled him closer by his collar and gently probed her tongue into his mouth. Gasping and sighing they explored each other, their passion growing deeper the longer they kissed.

Eventually they broke free, needing to breathe more than anything else. Ron backed up to the wall and leant against it, drunkenly.

'Blimey,' was the only verbal response he could offer.

'Blimey,' Hermione agreed with a smile as she got her breath back.

Downstairs the party continued; Slughorn circling the room pompously. Harry and Luna managed to have a good time despite being surrounded by tipsy friends and Colin's photography. But Ron and Hermione never did see the best part by far, which was the group of loin cloth clad creatures that arrived at ten pm, having drunken a vat of wine between them, waving clubs and throwing stink bombs at random people.

'Oh look Harry,' Luna said unnecessarily as Harry half wrestled one to the floor and sat on it, 'Redcaps!'


Hope you all enjoyed this story – I had fun writing it! I can't believe we're finally going to see the Ron and Hermione kiss very shortly (well – I've got wait until Tuesday, but still looking forward to it!) Anyway – I hope everyone's enjoyed the last ten years, I'm certainly going to miss the Potter movies coming out, and can't believe it's nine years since I first watched Philosopher's Stone, read the four published books at the time and became a fan! It's so weird to think that so much time has passed. Anyway – happy DH Part 2 watching everybody! Here's hoping the kiss is a good one! LOL :D