"Where's the blasted dingdong thingy again?" A voice could be heard from the hallway, muttering something that sounded vaguely like 'strange Muggle contraptions'."

Ding dong! Ron finally found the doorbell to Hermione's flat.

He grinned when he saw his girlfriend, hair in more disarray than usual, answer the door in her pajamas. "Late night, love?"

"Severus sent an owl with a few suggestions for my combined magic project, and I just had to try them."

"You wouldn't be my Hermione if you hadn't. I'm guessing they were good suggestions?" Ron ducked his head and grinned.

"I'm just about there. You know, you are good at seeing the big picture; would you be willing to see if you think I'm missing anything?" Hermione's earnest look was endearing.

"You bet, 'Mione. I swear you are the only person I know who thinks I have a brain."

"I can't be, Ronald. There was a spare parchment in the letter with a few insults and your next chess move."

Ron smiled wryly and shook his head. I still can't believe I'm half-way civil with Snape, of all people. But then again, I would do just about anything for Hermione. He thought back to a few incidents, where he realized that Snape was going to be a permanent fixture in their lives.

The Shrieking Shack, immediately following the battle...

"We have to get his body, Ron, before someone does something to it!" Hermione shrieked over her shoulder as she ran from the Great Hall.

"OK, 'Mione. If you say so. I don't think he deserves it, but Harry had those eyes, and you... I'm going to help, no matter what I think." Ron had too much on his mind to speak coherently.

He rushed into the shack, only to find Hermione casting a stasis spell.

"Hermione, it is a preservation spell for a body, not a stasis spell." Ron figured it might be one of those Muggle-born errors.

"He's not dead, Ron! Merlin, I hope we aren't too late... Ron, go get Harry; we need to protect Snape!" Hermione was frantically trying to figure out the best way to help the fallen headmaster.

Ron nodded, not that Hermione noticed, and then he turned to lope back toward the castle. His long legs had him reaching the Great Hall very quickly. "Harry! HARRY!"

"What is it, Ron?" His mother came toward him, a very worried look on her face.

Ron just shook his head at her. "HAAAARRRRYYYYY!" The dead could have heard that shout.

Harry burst through the doors, his clothes in disarray, his hair messier than usual. Ron did not want to think of what he may have interrupted. "Harry, Snape is alive. Hermione made me go back to get his body, but she says he's alive, and she wanted me to get you for protection or something."

The look of utter relief on Harry's face made Ron feel far less guilty about bothering him. "Let's go!"

St. Mungo's, a few weeks following...

"Hermione, I don't know why you keep going to see the greasy git. He doesn't appreciate you!" Ron hated these visits. But he wasn't going to let Hermione go alone if he could help it.

"He's not greasy. Anyway, he needs a friendly face, Ron. Harry has adopted him against his will, Minerva and the rest of the staff at Hogwarts can't talk to him without bursting into tears, and he's helping me figure out my self-study program." Ron couldn't help but smile. At least she didn't tell me to call him Professor Snape.

"Does that particular Weasley you saddle yourself with have any expression other than grinning dolt?" Severus Snape's voice cut into Ron's reverie.

"Just because you do not appreciate Ronald does not mean he is a dolt, Professor." Hermione was as polite as she could be, considering she was basically talking back.

Ron was waiting for Snape to rip Hermione's head off and was surprised when all he did was wave his hand at her dismissively.

"What instrument of torture did you bring me this time, Miss Granger?"

Ron was surprised to realize that Snape sounded... eager. He decided he had to play closer attention.

"My father went to a boot sale and found some flashlights that power up when you shake them; they use magnets instead of traditional batteries. He gave me one to play with, as he said, and I found that I could get it to hold a powering charm!" Hermione smiled brilliantly, pleased with her work.

"And what use would I have for a flashlight? There is adequate lighting here."

Ron thought Severus was far too snide, considering he and Hermione were his only friendly visitors without an agenda.

Hermione cocked her head and considered the man in the bed before her; apparently she saw something in his face that made her grin. "Oh, you. Now do you want to hear what I came up with, or would you like to snark at me some more? I can always just take it home with me again."

Ron was gobsmacked to see a wry upward quirk of Snape's lip at Hermione's flippant remark. He would have expected him to fling his water at her and demand she leave, the way he did to Harry when he said something the man found distasteful.

"Fine, you insolent girl. Tell me what amazing bit of magic you have wrought on my behalf."

Hermione graced Snape with one of her beautiful, room-lighting smiles. "I decided to see if I could use one of those magnet-powered set ups to work with a portable CD player, and I was successful. I brought it for you, with a selection of music. I have Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovski, a few operas, and some rock from the early 1970s, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, the Who and a few more. Do you want to see how it works?"

"If you must, Miss Granger."

Even Ron could see the anticipation in the git's face.

"You use Incipio to start it, and Finite to stop it. Just open the top and place the disc here, with the shiny side down, and if you decide you want the disc to play in random order, just... "

"Say Diripio. I see the pattern." After studying the machine and the discs of music, Snape turned to Hermione, "Well done, Miss Granger."

Hermione practically skipped out of the hospital that day, Ron remembered. She had a similar look now, thinking of the suggestions for her combined magic project.

"'Mione, what are you going to do with your project once you are done?" Ron was curious.

"I'm going to sell it, and see what companies are interested in other things, like my portable CD player that I gave Snape. Malfoy Industries has shown an interest, as have a couple of others. I can make a lot of money, doing research and coming up with new things to bring the Wizarding World out of the dark ages without harming traditions." Hermione smiled up at him.

"What happened to the girl who crusaded for the rights of the house-elves?" Ron asked jokingly.

"She figured out it will be far easier to change everyone's mind if she's associated with a pureblood company and has lots and lots of money to throw around. Now, do you want to see the project or not?" Hermione turned and wiggled her rump at him as she walked away from him into her laboratory.

Ron watched her walk away, appreciating the view, then followed.

He walked into a room that would give his father paroxysms of pleasure. There were cables and bits of electronics everywhere. One looked like a telly-visor with a keyboard attached, and there was one he was certain was a felly-tone, but much smaller than he was used to... There were actually many of those.

"I'm guessing the felly-tones are your project?"

"See, Ron, you are smart."

An unexpected voice broke in saying, "Just because he can state the obvious does not make him intelligent, Hermione."

"I didn't hear you come in, Snape," said Ron.

"I've been here most of the night, Weasley, didn't Hermione mention my presence?"

Ron decided not to jump at the obvious bait.

In an almost disappointed tone, Snape continued, "It's always a delight to speak to a lovely, intelligent witch, especially when she has a revolutionary idea."

Ron was astounded when he realized Snape meant what he said; it couldn't be to get into Hermione's good graces, she was too far away to hear him.

"I see." Ron then turned to Hermione and asked, "Hermione, love, what did you want me to look at?"

"Here, Ron. I've figured out the battery and the satellite signals, but what do you think of the set up?" She handed Ron a rather traditional flip phone.

Ron opened the phone, poked at the numbers and frowned.

"Hermione, do you need to have the numbers? Will they be assigned? Or does the magic just use each felly-tone to identify the person who holds it? Can they be personalized?" Ron didn't like the numbers. He was used to the Floo, where you just had to call out the home or person.

"That's it, Ron! Oh, you are such a darling man!" Hermione rushed over and gave him a hug and a kiss... on the cheek. Ron was very aware of Snape's sardonic gaze. He shook it off.

"I'm glad I could help, 'Mione."

"I know what to do now. It shouldn't take too long to charm them. Do you want to go out and celebrate after?"

Ron saw the pained look on Snape's face and, oddly, didn't feel too horribly triumphant. "I'm sorry, 'Mione, I'm doing an interview with Luna tonight." He had a sudden inspiration. "Why don't you go out with Snape?"

Hermione turned hopeful eyes on Severus, who nodded tentatively. Hermione then bustled out of the room, presumably to get her wand.

"What the fuck are you about, Weasley?"

"Just seeing if I'm right about something, Snape."

Ron almost laughed at the confused look on Severus's face. "Confusion is not a good look on you, Snape. You look constipated."

The familiar sneer he got in response gave Ron quite a bit of satisfaction.