Hermione Granger arrived at The Burrow a few days before Harry Potter, Crookshanks in tow. She kissed her parents goodbye as they got in their car and drove away, then ran up the driveway to hug a squealing Ginny. The two young witches embraced, and Ginny spun Hermione around, talking very quickly about what they were going to do while Hermione was at The Burrow. By the time Ginny had finished spinning her around and had let go, Hermione was facing none other then Ronald Weasley, the last boy on earth that she was going to be hugging, in spite of Ginny's now-obvious attempt. The two stared at each other for a few moments before Hermione gave Ron a hesitant smile. He stuck out his hand, and Hermione pushed back a piece of her bushy hair as she took it, looking slightly disappointed.
The whole ordeal was watched by a redheaded woman named Molly Weasley, and it didn't surprise her one bit. While making dinner together, Molly and Ginny often jokingly came up ways that they could get Ron and Hermione together, and this had been one of Ginny's brilliant ideas a few weeks ago. The game effectively kept them talking while completely excluding Fleur from any form of the conversation. Of course, it was a game, so none of the methods were really supposed to be applied in real life. This, however, was alright. Molly understood the easiness of the scheme, even if it hadn't worked.
"Nice try." she whispered to Ginny as the four headed inside. Ginny shrugged, not looking too crushed.
"It'll happen when it happens. But it will happen."
The last line was said with such ferocity, Molly was left with no trace of a doubt about who Ginny was more like out of both her parents.
That night at dinner, Ginny made sure that Ron and Hermione were seated next to each other. Molly added her own contribution to the cause by making sure that their pieces of steak were extra hard to cut, so that the pair kept bumping elbows. The woman was surprised that the kitchen didn't light completely on fire because of all the blushing that went on whenever they touched. She exchanged more then one knowing glance with her husband, both remembering the fireworks that they used to feel when they were first falling in love with each other. Ginny watched smugly whenever she wasn't shooting disgusted glares at Fleur and Bill.
But it wasn't until that night that Molly truly understood how much Ron and Hermione meant to each other. They were sitting by the fire, just talking, not unlike Bill and Fleur were doing in the corner of the room. The flames lit up both of their faces, making the scene more animated then it would have been without them. Hermione glowed in the light of the fire, and Molly wondered if she'd ever seen Ron smile so broadly. But it wasn't until they couple turned to a more seriously conversation that she really noticed it. Suddenly they had stopped talking. Ron's eyes were on the fire, and Hermione was staring at him with such a tenderness Molly was shocked. As she watched, the young woman reached over and touched Ron's shoulder. He looked up at her, and at the sight of her, his expression melted to the same loving tenderness that Hermione's held. A second later, she had him laughing, and he had her laughing, but the looks never slid completely off of their faces.
It was all too familiar. It was just like Molly and Arthur's love story. Before they'd learned to get along, they'd argue over stupid things all the time, driving everyone at Hogwarts loony. The whole year had known that they were going to get together, and by the time they did so in sixth year, it wasn't even a surprise. Everyone just rolled their eyes and said something along the lines of,
And a few years later, Molly Prewet and Arthur Weasley had ended up married.
It was suddenly painfully clear to her. Ron was in love with Hermione Granger, and vice versa. She was inevitable going to be apart of their family someday, and they would last forever, because, not only did they have the same bond that Molly and Arthur had enjoyed so much in their youth, but they had the intensity of their near-death experiences to bring them together. It was impossible to share so many strong experiences with someone and loose your feelings for that person. Which was why, the next day, when Molly went to Diagon Alley, she bought yarn exactly the color of her son's eyes, sapphire blue.
When she got a letter from Ginny a few months later saying that Ron and Hermione were no longer on speaking terms and Ron had a girlfriend, Molly had looked at the yarn as a symbol of hope for the couple. But three months later, the two were still not speaking to each other, and Ron was still in the arms of some tramp named Lavender Brown. The azure material was giving Molly too much hope.
So she put it away.
The pleasant noise of the rocking chair sounded through the warm household that was illuminated by a cackling fire. In the chair, an aging redheaded woman was seated, rocking back and forth peacefully and happily. In her hands were knitting needles; while Molly usually used magic to make the Weasley Sweaters, she would, from time to time, make different parts of them herself. Now was one of these times. Her whole family was here with her, and she couldn't help but be thrilled about this fact. Even though Percy was on speaking terms with none of them, and Hermione supremely pissed at Ron, and a war was raging just beyond their doorstep, there wasn't anything for her to be especially sad about, in this moment. Almost everyone she loved was there, and Molly Weasley never failed to undermine how wonderful her family was. She'd known, when she'd given up any hope of ever having a career to raise boatful of children, that her family was going to become her life. So she'd become as good of a housewife as she possibly could, perfecting her mother, cooking, cleaning, and knitting skills over the years. By the time Fred and George came around she had it down to an art, and by the time Ron was born, being Arthur Weasley's wife and the mother of his children was easier then breathing. But now that they were all older, Molly was having to deal with raging hormones and a war against Lord Voldemort. Sometimes, she wasn't sure which was worse.
The door to the house opened, and in came all of her boys, Harry, and Ginny, looking windswept, breathless, but good natured, all shouldering broomsticks. From the sound of it, Harry's team had beat Charlie's by the skin of their teeth, and Ginny and Harry were having no problem gloating about this. Molly watched carefully as the two grinned at each other and lightly flirted. Even if they didn't realize they were doing it, they both were. She'd noticed it the second the lot had tumbled out of the fireplace for break. Luckily for Harry, Ron hadn't. But Molly Weasley was almost positive that Harry Potter's cheeks were not red simply from the cold outside. The group moved into the kitchen, smelling the hot chocolate the Molly had made for them earlier. They didn't thank her, but she knew they were grateful. It was cold outside, and, besides, things like that were so customary in the Weasley household, no one even recognized how lucky they were to have a mum that went out of her way to do such things for them.
"I'm going to go take a shower." Harry and Ginny both said suddenly, standing up. Spotting the other out of their chairs, the two proceeded to blush. Ginny, however, shrugged and patted Harry on the shoulder.
"It's alright. You go." she told him. "I'll take longer then you, in any case."
Harry swallowed hard, then nodded and proceeded upstairs while Ginny's brothers teased her about taking too long in the shower. Ginny lightly commented that she hadn't cast a Bat Bogey Hex in a while, and every one of them shut up. Laughing to herself, Ginny exited the room and threw herself onto an armchair next to her mother, curling up like a cat and gazing fondly at the woman. The firelight made Ginny look even older and more beautiful, Molly noticed with a pang, and she gazed at the young woman with a melancholy look on her face. So young to have experienced so much. There was a bit of a haunted look in Ginny's eyes still, the only thing that hinted at her past with Tom Riddle.
Mother and daughter sat in a comfortable silence for a while, Ginny's eyes on her mother's skilled knitting, Molly's eyes on the intricate patterns. Then she glanced up at Ginny.
"I see the way he's looking at you, Ginevra."
Ginny wrinkled her nose at her full name, but laughed, shaking her head.
"I see it, too... I'm actually glad that I'm not the only person who's noticed. I was going kind of insane."
There was no question as to who they were talking about.
"Is there something you're not telling me?" Molly inquired jokingly.
Ginny leaned over and kissed Molly on the cheek.
"Believe me, if something was going on between me and Harry, you'd be the first to know. I think you've wanted us together longer then I have."
"Not possible." Molly reminded Ginny. "You've loved him forever."
Ginny blushed at the sound of the word love. Yes, she loved him, but she figured everyone else just thought of it as a crush. She recovered quickly, however, and artfully steered the conversation away from herself and Harry.
"Well, I don't think you have to starting thinking about us yet. The pair you really should be worried about is Ron and Hermione."
"Ah." Molly said, putting down her knitting and turning to face her daughter. Arthur was in his shed, the boys were either showering or in the kitchen, and it was just the two of them in the room. Finally, it was time for the story that Molly had been wanting to hear in its entirety for ages. "Tell me about this fight they're having."
"Er, Ron found out that Hermione snogged Krum." Ginny started slowly. Registering the look on her daughter's face, Molly sighed.
"It was you, wasn't it?" she asked.
"I was angry!" Ginny replied defensively.
"Ginny..." Molly said, shaking her head. "Okay, so what happened?"
"Ron... well, he started snogging Lavender Brown. In public. After their first Quidditch match."
Molly wrinkled her nose.
"That blond girl that was casting eyes at him at Platform 9 ¾ in September?" Molly asked, surprised.
"Yeah. And while she was making bedroom eyes at him-"
"-Ron was making eyes at Hermione, who was making eyes at him. So, as you can see, this whole thing is a bloody mess."
Molly bit her lip, torn between the desire to scold her daughter about using unladylike words and the immense need she had to hear the story with every single detail thrown in. Finally, her curiosity won out. She absolutely had to know what was happening in her youngest son's life, and, besides, Ginny had already snagged Harry. How would saying a few bad words effect that?
"How's Hermione taking this?"
"Awfully. She acts right pissed around Ron, but she shares a dorm with Lavender. Imagine how hard it is for her to hear the little bitch giggling constantly about where Ron's hands were that day."
"Please don't elaborate. I don't think I'll be able to hear the rest of the story and still be able to look Ronnie in the eye if you do."
"It wouldn't be any different from the way people are treating him now. A lot of people, myself and Harry included, haven't been able to look him in the eye for weeks. Long story short, anyway, Hermione cries a ton when she thinks no one can hear her, sometimes out of anger and sometimes out of sadness. But it's been really hard for her. And Ron's not helping one bit."
Molly made a noise of disgust.
"I didn't raise him to be like this."
"It's not your fault."
"I somehow feel like it is." Molly said, shaking her head.
Ginny leaned forward in her chair.
"Mum, he's in love with her. And he's a teenage boy, and she's his best friend. He doesn't know what to do, how to handle it. What do you really expect from someone like Ron? Even a top notch guy would have trouble with this, but a prat like Ron? Hermione didn't stand a chance at happiness the second he spotted her with Viktor Krum."
"Don't say that, Ginny!" Molly chided. "They'll end up together... they will. It's just going to take a lot of time-"
Ginny nodded fervently.
"-And maybe a few pushes to let them know that we're all rooting for them."
Ginny stopped nodding.
"I don't know what that's supposed to mean." she said, frowning.
In answer, Molly got out of her chair, put down her knitting, and went over to a drawer. She pulled out a beautiful blue ball of yarn.
"It's time, Miss Ginny, to welcome Hermione Granger to the family."
The next few days, Molly Weasley barely budged from her chair. Her family members floated around her, coming to talk to her at various times, and looking suspiciously at the three pairs of needles, plus her own, that were working on a gorgeous new sweater. Molly worked on the front while needles in mid-air furiously knitted the back and arms. No one, including her husband, had ever seen her knit this hard, and not one except her husband noticed that the yarn was exactly the color of Ron's eyes. On the night before Christmas, Molly was still seated in the living room an hour after everyone had gone to bed. The presents were spread beautifully under the tree, the meal made, and the table set, so Arthur could not understand what was wrong with his wife. He counted nine Weasley Sweaters under the tree, and he couldn't think of an extra person that Molly might make a Weasley sweater for. So he sat in the armchair next to her and asked the question that had been prying on his mind for the past few days.
"Who's that for, Molly? Assuming that you're not working so feverishly to supply a daughter-in-law to be that you don't even like with a sweater, that is."
"It's not for Phl... I mean, Fleur."
"So then who?"
Molly put down her knitting and stared at her husband with a big twinkle in her eye.
Arthur blinked at her for a few moments before replying.
"She... she isn't even an honorary Weasley!"
"I have a hankering that sometime in the next ten years, Ms. Granger's last name will have switched to something else entirely. Something that starts with a W."
"Are you suggesting that Ron and Hermione are going to get married?" Arthur asked incredulously.
"Yes." Molly said simply. Her husband gaped at her.
"But... they're sixteen! And they're not even talking! How could you possibly...?"
"They remind me of us, Arthur."
His expression softened.
"Oh, Molly Wobbles. You romantic."
He kissed her on the cheek and settled back in his chair.
"How long until you finish, then?"
"I estimate about thirty minutes."
So her husband stayed with her until she bound the sweater together and gave the package to Errol.
Hermione felt like a huge weight was constantly resting on her shoulders. Between homework and avoiding the common room and ranting in hurried whispers to Harry, she was always tired and sad. She was starting to get sick of being in love. It was stupid and worthless and unnecessary, and it felt like her heart had decided to leave her chest and settle permanently in her stomach. At the start of the year, Hermione had planned to do something to further her and Ron's relationship. She'd known she loved him for so many years, and she had been starting to feel like their relationship was a dead end with a path that could be cleared with a little bit of effort. And she had almost been on her way to doing that. Until Ron, her Ron, had started snogging stupid Lavender Brown.
That girl had ruined everything.
Christmas break had done Hermione little good. While she was joyful over the fact that Lavender would not be snogging Ron over the next few weeks, she also felt that every second the pair spent away from each other was one more second further away to them breaking up. And she really missed Ron. She wouldn't talk to him while he was still snogging that bitch, but if they broke up she'd gladly become friends with him again. It was so pathetic that you didn't fully appreciate someone until you didn't have them. And then, when you did have them, you forgot about how much you loved them and the process would start over again. Hearts really were strange things.
Curling herself out of her little warm ball, Hermione got up and dressed. She headed downstairs to the living room and looked at the bright tree, with beautifully wrapped gifts underneath it. Suddenly noticing a lump package in different wrapping paper, Hermione started to move towards it. As she did, her parents came into the room, and Hermione forced herself to hug them good morning and wish them a happy Christmas before she turned back to the package.
"Is this from either of you?" she asked, holding it up. Both her mother and her father shook their heads.
"It came by owl this morning. Perhaps it's from Harry?" her mother suggested.
Hermione shook her head. Harry had given her his gift already.
"Ron?" Hermione's father asked.
Hermione had not told her parents about her fight with Ron yet. She'd tell them when it was all over, but not now. She couldn't do it now. So she simply shook her head again, starting to get a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach. This couldn't possibly be what she thought it was. Not now. Definitely not now.
"Why don't we wait until after breakfast to exchange gifts?" Mrs. Granger suggested.
But hope and desperation were burgeoning in her, and Hermione was unable to wait. She shook her head for the third time, her fingers shakily going for the wrapping paper. She tore it, not like her usual careful tearing, but quickly and excitedly. Then she threw it aside, her eyes finally landing on the lump in her hands. It was the exact color of his eyes.
She stood up, took off her shirt, and slipped the sweater over the camisole she'd been wearing underneath. It was soft and warm, and it hugged her like a dear friend would. It was like a thousand hugs from Mrs. Weasley, telling her that there was hope, telling her to hold on, telling her that it would happen someday, and all she, Hermione, had to do was hold on. So she would. She would hold on forever to her first Weasley sweater.
"Thank you so much."
Tears were in her eyes as Hermione tiptoed down the Burrow's staircase and into Molly's arms, embracing the woman like she was her own mother.
"You're so very welcome."
Molly pulled back, eying the sweater. The blue looked absolutely gorgeous against Hermione's pale skin, and the sweater fit absolutely perfectly, even though Molly'd had absolutely no way to measure Hermione when she'd made it.
"No, really. You can't fathom how much I mean it. How much this sweater means to me."
"I think I can." Molly said, her eyes twinkling. Hermione shook her head, and they were silent for a few moments before Molly posed her question. "How long did it take you to figure out that the sweater was the color of his eyes?"
Hermione thought back.
"Less then three seconds, I can promise you."
Molly sighed contently.
"Oh, you two deserve each other so much. You really do."
Hermione blushed, causing Molly to roll her eyes.
"Hermione, dear, we all know you're in love with him. There's no need to blush now."
"Sometimes... sometimes it becomes too much, and I forget."
"Well, after what occurred today, I think you'll have a pretty hard time hiding it."
"Too, too true." she said, stroking her hand against the sweater. She shook her head. "I still can't believe this jumper." she told Mrs. Weasley.
"It was no problem, I promise you. I had the yarn picked out months before you got it, and I just knitted furiously the days before Christmas to get it ready in time."
"Did you know how much it would mean to me when you made it?"
"No. But I did want you to take it as a welcome to the family, and I think, in some way, you did."
"I'm not sure about that," Hermione laughed nervously, "But it did give me a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt so alone, and this sweater made me feel like I was surrounded with people who love me. Every time I wore it, I felt like I had a little piece of Ron with me, and a support group for the two of us, to boot. It was the best possible feeling I could have had at the time. Especially when he wasn't there, during..."
She trailed off. But it was quite alright. She didn't need to finish the sentence, Molly knew exactly what Hermione was referring to. A sudden movement on the stairs made both of the witches look up, and Hermione and Mrs. Weasley both turned to see Ron clunking his way down the stairs, grinning at his mother and at Hermione.
"Hi, you two." he said. Then he turned to Hermione. "You ready?"
She nodded, smiling broadly, but a little shyly, at him.
"Okay, let's go."
He hugged his mother, and she hugged him back tightly, wondering when her Ickle Ronnie had grown up. She supposed it was partly her fault. She'd nudged him in the right direction more then enough. Starting, probably, with that sweater. The young man took Hermione's hand and led her across the yard to the portkey, and Hermione cast Molly one last teary glance before she placed her hand on top of the portkey. The two waited a few seconds before they felt that familiar tug by their navels and were lifted, spinning wildly, into the air. They landed reasonably soon, both laughing as they fell, taking in the snow filled environment around them.
"I guess neither of us has ever mastered the art portkey landing." Ron said, sticking out his hand to help her up.
"I guess you're right." Hermione agreed softly. They started their slow trudge through the snow, heading to the cabin that they'd be staying in. There was already a fire lit, and it was warm and welcoming. "This is perfect." Hermione breathed happily. Ron looked at her face, glowing, not by the firelight, but with happiness.
"Yeah. It is." he agreed. Hermione turned towards him, her eyes shining.
"I'm so glad they found this place."
"Me too." Ron agreed. Hermione walked over to the couch and sat down on it, her eyes closing. Well, Ron wasn't surprised. She was bound to be tired after everything that had happened that day. He sat down tentatively at the end of the couch, just watching her. Suddenly, she spoke.
"Do you reckon we can just... stay here? Not do anything for the next few days?"
Knowing she was awake now, Ron scooted closer to Hermione and lightly kissed the top of her head, burying his long nose in her hair.
"You know what?" he whispered.
"What?" Hermione said back.
"I reckon we can do anything we want. This is our Honeymoon, after all."
Hermione laughed and opened her eyes, suddenly awake.
"You're absolutely right." she told him, reaching up to kiss him. His lips swept over hers, and soon, he was reaching down to tug off the blue sweater. Hermione reluctantly pulled back. "Er- could I just take it off myself?"
Ron cocked his head at her, the trace of an amused smile on his lips.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because, no offense, you know I love you, but you're a total slob, and I don't want you to... well, wreck my sweater." Hermione said, peeling the fabric over her head. Seeing the tiny, front button tank top she had on underneath her sweater, Ron decided not to care.
"No offense taken." Ron told her."But, Hermione, are you a witch or not?"
She smiled at the familiar line.
"I suppose I am. Why?"
"Because you can always fix the sweater by magic."
They stared at each other uncertainly for a few seconds, then Hermione threw the sweater unceremoniously over her shoulder and wrapped are arms around Ron to start kissing him again. As she'd done when she'd kissed him during the Final Battle, she threw caution to the wind and just let go. And it was absolutely perfect. The perfect start to the perfect Honeymoon, which was the perfect start to the perfect rest of their lives.
And Hermione Weasley's azure sweater that was the exact color of Ron's eyes would be there to see it all.