A/N: This story is dedicated to my FF friend Mustanger, who requested a fic set during the wedding in Deathly Hallows. This is it, and I really hope you enjoy it!
As a note for the fic you're about to read, I basically listened to this weird, but kind of astonishingly matched up mashup during the entirety of writing this fic... :) I do love a good looped song!
www . youtube . com / watch?v=THknbVTYpyk&feature=related
What You Want
Harry was distracted.
That's how it always started... wasn't it.
Ron's tie was too tight. Tiny candy hearts fizzed in spiked fruit punch. Fancy feet scuffed against temporary fake wooden floors. And she looked much too pretty to be his best friend...
There was magic, and then there was today. And something in between shifted from real life to fairy tales as he forgot completely about his brother's wedding vows spoken hours earlier. They could have been anywhere, beneath purple and gold decor, encompassed by so many people who didn't give a damn what they did. Not right now at least. Not with all eyes either on Fleur and Bill or on their own romance, dance partners smiling beneath a sea of endless stars.
His head felt light with alcohol, tingling through his ears as he watched her by the drinks, pouring herself another glass of punch. She'd insisted upon going herself when he'd nervously asked if he could do it for her. He wasn't sure why, but it suited him fine to have a moment just to recompose himself. As if composure would even really be possible now, several drinks into the night with a heavy haze of romance lingering above everybody...
He'd actually danced with her. It wasn't as if he hadn't been planning it for... well, since the bloody wedding was announced, let's be honest. But to think he'd actually gone through with it... Very few of the things he fantasized about had actually taken place during the course of his life. After all, Lavender Brown had taken him so very far away from most of those fantasies, that it really didn't seem feasible to him that many of them would be able to resurface, in reality.
Tonight, however, as he'd realized, things were very different.
She caught his eye as he tried to breathe, stretching his neck awkwardly under the cover of uncomfortable dress clothes. And then, as she smiled, approaching him once more, she tilted her head towards the marquee opening, a question in her eyes.
He nodded and followed her through a discreet flap, stepping out from the slightly stifling warmth of the dance floor towards the open country air of the Burrow's back garden.
Some of the chaos of the party died as the tent walls muffled it from them. He tugged his tie loose as Hermione stepped slowly through the grass, looking as peaceful as he'd seen her in a while.
"My feet were starting to blister," she laughed, turning back around to face him as he paused several feet away from her, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"Sorry," he mumbled, lips twitching up into a small grin.
"Oh, that's alright," she said cheerfully, taking a long sip of punch and punctuating it with a tiny throaty sound that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end... "We can go back in a moment... if you like. I... I was having a really great time."
She smiled fully at him and he felt himself returning it, though his brain was now quite possibly a pile of mush on the ground at his own feet...
"Me too," he said scratchily.
She took a step towards him, surveying him much too closely. His heart fluttered madly in his chest, and she held out her glass to him, fingers tapping against the side. He took it from her, chewing his bottom lip as she stepped even closer.
What the hell was she playing at...
But, as usual, he had to force himself to stamp down all thoughts of something brilliant. The idea of Hermione acting on something he felt... it was absurd. And he was much too far in to notice the truth. To see clearly the things that weren't signs at all, but simply a part of life.
So alright, she was merely a foot away from him now. He could feel her heat against his chest. But it was nothing. He couldn't easily catalog this as territory that couldn't just as easily have been covered by friendship.
How he'd missed her when she'd been gone, when they'd been fighting. And all he'd learned from his mistake was that nothing in the world would ever be worth losing her over...
She reached a hand up towards him and he held his breath. But as she shook her head, smiling to herself, he knew what she was doing before she did it.
"Hermione, don't," he said as she brushed a hand across his chest, smoothing down his wrinkled shirt.
She didn't have to know how fast his heart was beating. Not simply from a motherly instinct to straighten out his sodding clothing. It was unfair, how much he craved her touch but knew he shouldn't let her give it to him. He could no more control his own reactions to her than he could stop swearing or... or eating...
She smiled up at him.
"Looks like you need some private lessons in household charms," she said with a cluck of her tongue.
"Private lessons?" he asked, quirking up an eyebrow.
"Mmm," she shrugged, looking away as her cheeks flushed lightly. Gorgeously.
"And who, may I ask, would ever take on such a responsibility?" he teased, unbuttoning his top button and loosening his tie another few inches.
A firework cracked through the quiet of their location, a good many metres away from the noise of the party, and they both looked up as three red sparks burst away from each other, showering down on the yard beyond.
"Your brothers are amazing," Hermione sighed, and he looked down at her, studying her expression for signs of sarcasm.
"Well," he began, clearing his throat casually, "they do know how to spice up a party... don't they."
She lifted her eyes up towards his again, peering through heavy lashes. Heavier than usual...
"Is there something... on your eyelashes?" he asked her, out of nowhere... He clamped his mouth shut again rather quickly as she blushed and looked away again.
"Not much," she said nonchalantly. "I just figured, as it's a special event... and all..."
He swallowed as she crossed her arms over her chest, breasts squeezed tightly to the inside of her fancy dress... straining slightly with the stretch of her garment... And bloody hell, if he looked just right, he was starting to believe that he could actually see her ni-
"Don't you like it?" she asked, glancing up at him again. "I thought... that's the sort of thing you... fancied."
"What?" he asked, mouth completely dry all of a sudden.
"When girls wear this stuff," she said, untangling her own arms to gesture up at her face. Her cheeks were rather more pink than usual.
Great. So the flush he thought he'd seen had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with sodding makeup.
"I don't remember ever expressing a particular opinion on that subject, to be honest," he said, a bit deflated and suddenly tired of holding her glass for her. He swirled the contents and watched the deep pink liquid fizz slightly. "What does it matter anyway?"
He caught her looking away, eyebrows arched and forehead creased. Had he once again said the wrong thing? Wrong enough to ruin everything, all over again?
"I guess it doesn't matter then, does it," she said quietly, staring off into the yard absently. "Sometimes, Ron," she continued, "it's so much work just to figure out what the hell you're thinking."
"What do you need to know?" he asked, frustrated with his own shoddy mind reading abilities.
She shrugged, shaking her head sadly.
"Hey," he said then, stepping closer. Fuck it all. He wasn't rowing with her tonight. If she wanted to see his heart, he'd show it to her. "Ask me anything, and I'll tell you the truth."
Her eyes darted before shooting up to his again, lips parting with shock.
"Anything?" she asked timidly.
"Well... yeah," he shrugged, suddenly nervous, now that it was real. Now that it wasn't just a thing to say to the girl he loved to make her happy.
"Oh! Sorry," she said then, reaching for her drink, fingers brushing along his as he allowed her to take it from him.
"It's alright," he said, instantly regretting his previous thought and wishing her glass back into his now-much-too-empty hand. It hadn't really meant a thing, to do something so effortless and natural for her for a moment. But still, there was happiness somehow buried in sharing something with her, even if it was as simple as a transfigured glass from his mother's kitchen.
"Okay," she said, taking another sip from her glass.
He found his eyes glued to her lips as they wrapped around crystal, punch trickling down the corner of her mouth as she pulled the glass away, tongue darting out to lick the stray pink drop away. And when she looked up at him again, a wave of fear passed over him, anticipating her next words.
"If I can really ask you anything, then I want to know... what do you want?" she asked him. He blinked at her. A world of desires opened up before him and it would take much longer than all night to tell her about every single one of them. In fact, wasn't that what the rest of his life was for, figuring out all of the things he wanted, and which ones overlapped the ones she wanted, too?
If only he could be so lucky...
"I'd like to live," he said simply, "and then... we'll see."
She had clearly not expected such a response, and her eyes softened as she studied him.
"Ron..." she breathed, and he found himself smiling as he tried to be reassuring. He hadn't meant to be so serious, but he'd promised her honesty. And it was as honest as he could be...
She stepped closer, and he hadn't expected it. He held his breath again, and then, all of a sudden, her hand was in his and her eyes were anywhere they could find, anywhere away from him. She tugged him down, and, tucking her dress beneath her, she managed to sit, releasing his hand as his knees bent to join her, squeezing next to her on a smooth bit of stone. The only place that wasn't the dew-damp earth of the yard, a place that was surely not fit for dress robes.
"I want that, too," she said slowly, "but isn't there anything... more... specific?"
He had the feeling that she was being vague on purpose, that perhaps her own apprehension was keeping her from freely asking what she wanted to. It was too much to hope that she was avoiding asking naturally because he'd learn something about how she felt if she didn't. But he hoped it anyway...
He gazed down at her feet as she slipped them out of her shoes, flexing her toes inside her sheer stockings. There were so very many things he wanted. He had to start somewhere...
"I want... to forget about the war and just... be here with you," he said so very quietly, feeling his own words slip through the warm night air towards her. She didn't have to lean very far left before her shoulder was against his.
"That's nice," she sighed, her warmth radiating through robes and years of tension, making his skin burn through his shirt.
"And then," he breathed, caught frozen next to her, eyes on the grass and his awkwardly large feet so close to her thin, dainty ones, "when the war's over, I want you and me... and okay, Harry, if you insist-"
She laughed lightly and somehow managed to press closer against him. He grinned through the rest of his words...
"-to go on a massive holiday and just... be like this."
"What is this?" she asked, and he didn't have to look over at her to know she was grinning too, but he did anyway, and when he caught her eyes, he knew he was saying the right things. That his own truth wasn't so far away from hers. And that maybe, perhaps, what she wanted wasn't so much different from what he wanted... at least right now.
"Are you happy, right now?" he asked her, watching as another firework glistened in her eyes, released somewhere distant, behind him.
She nodded, slowly at first and almost undetectable. But she punctuated it with a whispered "yes", and he was once again struck by how easy it was to fall on the right side of the fence they'd been perched on for so long. On one side, there was jealousy and sadness, and on the other... well, if he knew for certain what he'd find there, he would have jumped down so long ago. But now, it didn't seem to matter quite so much what he feared could come of it. It was the risk, in some ways, that made it worth it.
"Then, I guess, this is happiness..."
She smiled brilliantly up at him, nodding slowly. And then, sighing out all the tension in the world, she leaned her head down on top of his shoulder, and he found the strength to keep on breathing.
"How very logical of you," she whispered through her smile.
And, through the shyness of prolonged proximity, he rested his hand, palm up, against his thigh, stretching his fingers, giving himself a necessary distraction as he watched his own movements. But then, shockingly, her palm found his, and she matched the spread of her fingers over his much longer ones. Soothing, gentle skin turned electric on contact, and he felt overwhelmingly safe.
Curling his first knuckles up over the ends of her fingers, he laughed, bouncing her head lightly atop his shoulder.
"My hands are so much bigger than yours," he commented as she wiggled her fingers on top of his.
"Paler, too," she giggled, and he dug his shoulder up into her ear in retribution.
"Oi!" he complained, but silence fell solidly around them as her fingers slipped, moving in between his until the tips rested soundly against his trouser covered thighs.
It took such a small movement that it was impossible not to do, really. So he curled his fingers completely, lacing them with hers and gripping her hand loosely. The air turned thick again, and he swallowed as his heart threatened to pound its way right out of his chest.
"I'm happy, too," he said roughly. "Don't reckon we'll get much time to think about that soon..."
She lifted her head from his shoulder and turned to look into his eyes. The sky crackled with intensified fireworks, and his brother's shouts could be heard across the lawn. But all he cared about was the way he felt just then, the way her hand stayed linked with his for far too long. The way bits of her semi-ruly hair stuck to his shoulder, disorganizing itself again, the way he loved it. Her lips were pink, almost red with a shimmer he hadn't noticed until now.
Which meant... he was staring at her lips. And, noticing what he was doing, more than subconsciously, proved to be his downfall.
He cleared his throat and turned away, immediately cursing under his breath at his own lack of confidence. She was right there. He could have... kissed her!
She slipped her hand out of his and he felt a literal rush of cold air wash over the skin of his palm. He wanted to beg her to stay, to call her back to him...
But she smiled shyly again as she stood, bracing herself with a hand against his shoulder as she slipped her feet back into her shoes one by one. He reached for her glass again, automatically, and she thanked him with yet another smile. He stared up at her through his fringe, lips parted. The clear summer sky served as a backdrop as her hair bounced over her shoulder, as she stumbled into shoe number two. And when she laughed, he held his breath, until she looked questioningly down at him, giving him permission to go on living.
"My feet feel a bit better," and she bit her lip. "Do you want to dance again, with me?" she asked timidly, and he almost laughed, knowing how pointless her inquiry was. He'd dance with her. He'd give her everything he had. He'd give her more than that, if he could figure out how. She never had to ask. And she never would.
"Yeah," was all he could muster as he stood next to her.
"You can finish that, if you like," she said, gesturing towards her drink. "I don't think I fancy any more."
Licking his lips, his stomach bubbled with anticipation. He wasn't even sodding thirsty...
He drank the whole thing down in one long swig, eyes shut. When he opened them again, he scratched his head and cleared his throat, tongue burning. She wasn't looking at him, but then he got the impression that she had been, and was now avoiding calling attention to it.
"Thanks," he said scratchily, entranced by her... as usual. "Ready?"
And so, taking his queue, she began to walk back towards the marquee, feet drifting through over-long grass. But he remained frozen, watching her go.
She turned back around, raising an eyebrow at his unexpected distance away from her.
"Don't say anything back, you don't have to. But I just wanted to say... I..." He paused, feeling the words slip out but not knowing where he'd gathered the strength to really say them... "You're a bit more than just one of my best friends. Did you know that?"
She gawked at him before collecting herself and clearing her throat lightly.
"Don't say anything," he repeated, blushing and digging the toe of his right shoe into the dirt.
She studied him for a long moment, and he was beginning to feel dizzy. But then, she nodded, so very slowly, and tilted her head to the side.
"We can go now," he said, and she nodded again. He brushed past her and she followed him back inside the tent.
Automatically, Ron scanned the crowd for Harry... or at least the redheaded version of his best mate who was here tonight... And, not locating him through the chaos, Ron felt another stab of bravery, painful in the knowledge that Harry's lack of presence had made it so. Something about not being watched, or noticed, or scrutinized... And he could believe, buried in the crowd, in so many things...
He reluctantly dropped Hermione's empty glass onto a passing, charmed tray, which levitated through the crowd. And they walked on, squeezing between dance partners.
"Here?" Hermione questioned as they reached a empty space. Ron turned to face her and she smiled up at him.
It was a different sort of smile than he'd ever seen before. It had changed, just now.
Could he have been imagining?
Shaking himself of overthought, he reached for her hand and tugged her gently towards him, finding her lower back again with his oversized palm. His chest ached with familiarity as she fell into a comfortable place, head tilted up towards his. He'd done this too many times tonight. He was growing rather too fond of if...
"Hermione," he began slowly, relaxing a bit under the lights and music and with words now floating between them, unanswered, that he'd initiated. Her disappointment from moments ago now swirled with the light alcohol of the drinks he'd had before and the second half of hers. "What did you mean, earlier, when you said you thought I liked it when... girls wore makeup?"
She sighed and stared down at his chest, and he felt strangely self conscious as he waited for her to reply.
"I don't really want to talk about that now," she finally said. "We'll just end up rowing."
"No, we won't," he said, much too quickly. She looked up at him with raised eyebrows.
"How do you know? You don't even know what it is I'm not saying."
"Well," he began, all at once excited and terrified at the prospect of discovering what she was hiding, "I promise I won't row with you if you tell me what it is. Now I'm way too curious..."
"Ron..." she trailed off, eying him skeptically. But then, at last, she sighed again. "Lavender," she said.
He blinked down at her.
"What's she got to do with-"
"Oh, don't," Hermione warned, turning them to avoid collision with another, much more lively couple. "You know."
"I just don't like to make deductions anymore... It's not as if they've often been accurate, or even close..."
She looked caught between put out and disbelieving.
"Just go on," she urged. "Make one now."
He sent a pained grimace down towards her before resigning himself to his fate...
"Fine. She was the sort of girl who... wore loads of makeup and perfume. And I was... I was with her, wasn't I. So you think..." he trailed off, shrugging and feeling absolutely mortified, melted to the ground at her feet before her imminent response.
He gawked at her and she shrugged back.
"That's... right? !" He couldn't exactly believe what he was hearing. And, alright then. The logical next line of deduction was that Hermione was trying to be... like Lavender Brown. To... get his attention. That was just all sorts of wrong...
"Oh, come on," she sighed.
"Really, Hermione," he blinked, "that's mental."
"Thank you!" she huffed.
"No, no," he sighed, "I'm just saying-"
He turned them again, cutting very close to another collision. The floor had gotten rather more packed in the last few minutes.
"You don't do that sort of thing, do you. I mean... I've never seen you act in such a non-Hermione-like way. "
"Well," she said, blushing fiercely now. And this time, the makeup could not be blamed. "I don't do that sort of thing. Generally speaking. But this is different..."
"Why?" he demanded. And out of nowhere, he'd come to the edge of a cliff.
And the music died.
Couples dispersed for drinks and Hermione stepped back away from him, biting her damn bottom lip again...
"Ron," she nearly whispered, and as his arms dropped uselessly to his sides, she stepped up towards him again so they could maintain their private conversation for a moment longer. And she regained her solid position within his personal space. Perfect.
"Yeah?" he whispered back.
"You're a bit more than just one of my best friends," she breathed. "Did you know that?"
He opened his mouth to reply, to say anything. But she stepped back again and shook her head.
"Not a word," she instructed.
And then, she lifted her feet and rolled her ankles, one by one, and turned to scan the crowd.
"Ah, there he is," she said, locating Harry. And how much deeper could she really blush? He'd watched her cheeks turn from painted-on-pink to nearly crimson, and yet they showed no signs of stopping as he studied her profile, oblivious to Harry, wherever she'd spotted him.
She lifted a hand to tuck a tendril of hair behind her ear.
And she was trembling.
No, really. He'd seen it. With his own two eyes. And he was certain of it.
The world was slowly making so much sense, it was actually scary. Every light was turned on. Every corner lit for a second, with glowing embers of a fire that could only grow larger.
But for tonight, that warmth was so much more than enough. She took his hand, tugged, and led him towards their table where Harry was still sitting. She smiled in a private way, one he felt completely exposed to even be witnessing. He smiled back, though she couldn't see him.
"Ron, you wear me out," she tutted, grinning wider still.
"Sorry," he said, not the least bit sorry.
And then, effortlessly, they crossed through the barrier between their secret world and the one they shared with Harry. And he listened to the way her voice laced over her words, a change in timbre. And he could not have ever expressed or explained the joy he could find in such simplicity as knowing that she was Hermione... and then she was Hermione when she was with him.
The difference was suddenly blinding.
And so, holding onto such recent past, he amended his statement...
What did he want? It didn't matter. As long as he never had to want it without her.