I DON'T OWN THIS! Sheesh, you'd think you people would have figured that out by now.
"Hey, Mione, want to go outside?" I asked, startling her from her daydream .
She looked up at me from where she'd been starring blankly out the window across the living room.
"Sure, Ron," she agreed, coming to meet me at the base of the stairs. Mione wound her hand into mine and smiled as I pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead.
Hand in hand, we left the deserted Burrow, enjoying the feeling of the summer sun on our skin. We walked until we found shade under a large tree in the garden, at which point I sat down, pulling Hermione onto my lap. She rested her head on my chest as I leaned back against the tree.
I don't know how long we stayed like that – it could have been ten minutes, it could have been ten hours – it could have been ten years, I wouldn't have known; I was too content to keep track of time. Eventually, Hermione broke the comfortable silence by musing aloud.
"I wonder how everyone else is doing right now."
The rest of my family had gone to Diagon Alley to visit the twins' shop and run some errands before spending the day at Bill and Fleur's and going to dinner with Percy and Audrey so they could meet her parents. It was supposed to be a busy day, but Mione had opted to stay behind, so I did, too.
"Oh, they're probably having loads of fun shopping," I said, tugging at the ponytail holder that was strangling her hair, releasing her beautiful, bushy curls and letting them fall freely through my fingers. "Well, except, maybe, Ginny – Mum's probably dragged her to Madam Malkin's for 'a set of proper dress robes, appropriate for a young lady!'" Hermione laughed at my impression of my mum – weather it was because it was completely brilliant, or bloody awful, I wasn't sure. "But Gin'll be happier when she gets to get Harry's present. Speaking of which, I've got a surprise for you."
Her head spun around so fast that her hair whipped me in the face – but it was so soft that I didn't care. The only thing I could think about was how soft it felt against my skin.
I shrugged, fighting acute embarrassment and praying to Merlin my freckled face wasn't as red as my hair.
"No reason, really – I just saw it in Diagon Alley on my way to the shop the other day, and I thought you might like it." I dug in my pocket and withdrew a small hardcover book, keeping it obscured from her vision with my hand. "Actually, it's kind of for me, too... Anyways... Here you go," I finished lamely, holding it out to her.
She made no move to take it.
"Ron, what is that?"
"Tales of Beadle the Bard, Volume Two – with colored pictures, see?" I flipped it open to a random page which showed a pretty blonde princess riding around a mountain on a hippogriff. "You seemed to like reading the ones that Dumbledore left you – you know, when you weren't looking for hidden codes and stuff – and I didn't know the stories in here, either, or I would have told 'em to you. And I figured that I would never read it, but maybe – if I was lucky – you'd tell me them. I bet you'd do it better than my mum. Much sexier."
I was rambling, I knew it. Hermione probably knew it, too, but she just took a deep breath and reached for the book. Opening it to the first page, she started to read in a shaky voice.
"On-once up-pon a ti-ime, the-there w-was ah-a–"
"Mione, are you okay?" I asked, concerned, squeezing the hand I was holding.
"Of course, Ron," she said, voice wavering, before she tried again. "Once upon a time – once upon a t-time, there w-wa –" She stopped suddenly and squeezed her eyes shut, her quavering. She whispered, "I'm sorry, Ron, I just can't do this." A tear rolled down her cheek. "I'm so sorry."
With that, she leapt up and took off towards the Burrow, leaving the book and a very confused me behind.
It took me roughly half a heartbeat to jump up, book in hand, and run after her. But she could be quick when she wanted to – I couldn't catch up to her, even on my long legs – and by the time I reached Percy's old room (which had become hers when she decided to move in with us), the door was locked and sobs were emanating from within.
You don't spend seven years with Hermione Jean Granger, though, and not learn a few things. So, an "Alohomora" later, the door swung open to reveal Hermione sitting on the bed, head down, with her harms wrapped around her knees.
"Mione," I breathed, moving unconsciously towards her.
Her head snapped up and she climbed off the bed, doing her best to hide her tears.
"Go away, Ron," she said, trying to sound strong and confident and authoritative – but what came out was the softest, hoarsest, most broken voice I'd ever heard. "You don't want to bee here."
"Hermione," I whispered, my feet carrying me closer.
"I said GET OUT, RONALD!" she screamed, covering the remaining distance between us and raising her hand to slap me. I grabbed it before she could – not because I cared (which I didn't – I would have happily let her use me as a punching bag, if she wanted to), but because I knew she would've regretted it later, after she's calmed down.
"You bloody ARSE, Ronald Weasley! Let go of my ARM!"
I didn't. Instead, I used it to pull her to me. At first, she struggled, but then – after I wrapped my arms fully and forcefully around her, holding onto her, letting her know that I wasn't going anywhere, that I was going to help her through this, whatever this was – after that, she gave in, letting her head fall against my chest, and she cried.
And cried and cried and cried and cried.
And then cried some more.
At one point, Hermione's knees seemed to give out and she started to slip to the floor. My response was to pick her up and sit on the bed, keeping her shaking form pressed tightly against my torso. I held her there until she cried out all her tears, showering her head with little kisses and whispering assurances in her ear.
Eventually, the sobs slowed and came to a gradual stop and Hermione looked up at me, eyes shining in the worst possible way, before shifting them to the floor.
"I'm sorry," she said in a soft almost-whisper, voice scratchy. She attempted to extricate herself from my arms. "That wa–"
"Was completely acceptable, Mione," I announced, tightening my hold on her. "Don't be sorry about it. You've been through a lot, Mione, more than anyone should ever have to go through."
"No, I haven't," she said automatically, and I got the feeling that she told herself that every time she started to cry. "There are so many that have been through so much worse. I have no right to break down like that, Ron, not when I've had it so much easier than them."
"Name one person, Hermione, one person who's been through worse than you."
"Harry," she fired back without hesitation. "Or Ginny. Or Luna, or Neville or Dean or Seamus or anyone who was at Hogwarts last year – or who died in the Battle, like Fred – or at all, like Mad-Eye or Dumbledore or Dobby – or... you."
"Me?" I asked in disbelief.
"Yes, you – the locket bothered you so much and it didn't affect me at all, and then you had to deal with a group of Snatchers all by yourself, and you almost got captured, and then we did get captured by Snatchers, and at Malfoy Manor, they took you away, and I didn't know what they were doing to you, and then you had to come and rescue me, a-and–"
Hermione cut off, hyperventilating and very close to tears.
I kissed her softly, trying to calm her down.
"I'm fine, Mione, I'm okay. I think I came out of this bloody war in the best shape of anyone. I mean, yeah, the locket wasn't fun, but it wasn't nearly as bad as when I was gone. And, even then, all I had to do was worry – at first about if you were alright, but then I remembered that you were with Harry, and that he could protect you better than I ever could. Then, I just had to hope you'd forgive me for being such a stupid git. The Snatchers weren't really that bad, either – I may not be Harry, but have him as your best mate for six-and-a-half years, and something's bound to rub off.
"For me, it was hardest at Malfoy's place – and they didn't even do anything to us, Mione – we just had to listen to you get tortured. Mione, that was my torture, hearing you in pain when I knew I couldn't do anything about it – but it must have been a million times worse for you. You actually had to go through it, Mione – and then you had to turn around and pretend to be the very woman that tortured you. That couldn't have been easy, Hermione. You are allowed to deal with it, Mione, you are allowed to cry.
"So," I said, finishing my little – okay, big – rant, "that being said, do you want to tell me about it?"
"You won't like it," she told me softly, eyes glued to the floor. "You won't like me."
"That's what you're worried about? Mione, after all we've been through together, do you really think I could ever see you as anything less than bloody amazing?"
Hermione was scared of what I thought? No one ever cared what I thought, and I sure as bloody Hell didn't want her to be the one to start.
"Will you please tell me what's wrong? Please?"
"I... Oh, alright." Hermione took a deep breath and tried to keep her voice steady. "I'm logophobic, Ron."
There was a moment of complete silence as I tried not to let my confusion show. I knew what "phobic" meant, obviously – I wasn't a complete idiot – but I didn't know what "logophobia" was. Or why it was so bad she was afraid of something.
"I know – pathetic, right?" she asked rhetorically with a sad little half-laugh. "Me, the Hogwarts Bookworm, the Cleverest Witch of Our Age, the Brains Behind the Golden Trio – afraid of words. Merlin, I'm so stupid."
"Yo-you're afraid of words?" That didn't compute – didn't make sense; Hermione absorbed knowledge like it was vital for survival (which, okay, sometimes it was – for her and for Harry and me). She wasn't her without the need to read and learn and satisfy her curiosities, and I found myself needing to prove her wrong. "But, Mione, you use words to speak."
Stupid, I know, but it was all I could think of.
"I know that, Ron, but speaking doesn't bother me – reading does. I just don't know the name for that – and figuring it out would require reading."
"Reading?" I was bewildered. Mione moved from my lap to the bed next to me, and I, not knowing what to do, let her. Tears went splat against her bare knees, I could hear them.
I was still in shock. Hermione was reading – and much, much more – but reading was such a large part of her. "Why?"
Ronald Billius Weasley, you are a blithering, tactless GIT!
"Bellatrix LeStrange," she said, crossing her arms so that her hand was covering her upper forearm.
Idiot. Prat. WANKER. Mentally, I called myself every name I could think of – how had I missed all the signs?
At Shell Cottage, after we were semi-safe, Hermione hadn't gone anywhere near any of the (admittedly, few) books that Bill and Fleur had lying around, and she'd looked really relieved when Harry told her he didn't need help with Dobby's epitaph.
After the war was over, she didn't resubscribe to the Prophet, she hadn't picked up a single book here at the Burrow – she hadn't even gotten a guidebook when we went to see her parents in Australia.
And yesterday, at dinner.
Audrey and Percy came over for family dinner, which Mum decided we needed every Friday night. Percy was nervous. Audrey sighed, angry, but resigned.
"Do you want to tell them, or should I?"
Immediately, all conversation ceased, and almost everyone was holding silverware or a cup in midair.
"You can do it, dear, i-if y-you want."
She sighed again, probably thinking about how big of a wimp Percy was – it's what I would be doing. "My parents decided that they want to meet Percy's family."
The deafening silence continued – Audrey's parents were just under the Malfoys on the list of extreme Pure Bloodists. They didn't exactly follow Voldemort (insofar as the fact they weren't Death Eaters), but they didn't oppose him, either.
"So all of you are invited to dinner with us tomorrow night. Don't feel that you are under any obligation to accept – at all."
Audrey didn't like her family, but she couldn't really break ties with them during the war – they might not have been Death Eaters, but they had friends that were, and they could have made life very difficult for her. I actually think that Percy, who was also trying to hide his dislike for Voldemort's anti-Muggleborn regime, was the only thing that got her through the war.
Still, even with her parentage, she was as good as a Weasley already.
"Well, I'm going," Bill announced. "I don't know about the rest of you lot, but I want to meet the people who raised my new baby sister.
"Meh, twoh," I mumbled, mouth once aging full of food, as I watched Audrey try to kick Bill under the table without Mum noticing. She succeeded. All of us Weasley boys had come to think of Audrey as a sort of adopted sister – she just didn't like being the baby sister – so there were general murmurs of agreement all around the long table.
"Ai, tu, hwant tu goh," Fleur said in her heavy French accent, "mais Beel ahnd Ai wa-her plahn-ning tu eenvite youh ahll oh-vere pour dîner tumar-hrow."
"Well, let's make that lunch, then," Bill suggested. "Is that alright, Fleur? Have everyone over pour déjeunereta day a la plage, et après, nous allons a dîner avec les parents d'Audrey? Tu es d'accord?"
"Ah, oui! Bonne idée, mon cher. C'est parfait!"
" Sounds fun. What restaurant?" I asked, eager to plan my meals a full day in advance.
"Maleficent's," Percy told us, rubbing the hand of the irritated Audrey. "We're meeting them at 7:30."
"Mal-ee-fee-sans? C'est trèsfhan-see! Zat zettles eet, h-youh ahll m-ust com tu Sh-ell Co-tage so zat whe gurls c-han ahll geet r-heady togezer!"
Hermione was smiling, probably at the thought of Ginny and Fleur helping each other get ready. I snorted at that.
"And you have to come by the shop," Fred declared, waving his misty hand through Audrey's head. Leave it to the ghost to irritate the scary lady even more and leave us living people to deal with her – the people she could kill.
"Yeah, we just came up with these things that you throw in someone's face, and then fireworks start coming out of their ears, nose, mouth, and even eyes!" George was way too excited about this. "Of course, it's only the Muggle kind of fireworks right now – we tried our own, but apparently the possible side affects included the inability to reproduce, so that's out – for now, anyway. Oh, by the way, Ginny, we want to start a Pygmy Puff breeding program, but we don't have any guys left 'cause the girls always want the pink ones, and for some reason, there aren't any pink girls... I wonder why that is..."
"What my clearly less handsome–"
"– and less lively –"
"– brother is trying to say, is do you think Arnold would be interested? Think about it, he'd be the only stud – a total... what was his name, Hermione? Cassahoova! Every lady Puff would so be trying t–"
"FREDRICK WEASLEY!" Mum interrupted, Ginny nearly crying with silent laughter. "NOT at the dinner table."
"I'm sure he'd love to, guys," Ginny managed to tell them through her laughter.
"He will? You see, this is why you're our favorite biozozical sister."
Biozozical? Cassahoova? I snaked my arm around my smiling girlfriend's waist. "Mione, you really need to stop trying to teach them Muggle words. Even I know it's biological."
"George, I'm your ONLY biological sister."
"Then you'll always be our favorite," Fred fired back. "Although, I'm not really sure of that, after you said I was stupider than Ikle Ronnikens–"
"–but, leaving that alone – for now – are you guys gonna stop by tomorrow?"
"Well, I have some shopping to do in Diagon Alley, right around there," Mum said, thinking. "I suppose we could do that before going to Shell Cottage..."
"Ooh, can we stoop by Flourish and Blotts, too?" Ginny asked excitedly. "I read in the Prophet that Skeeter wrote a biography for Harry. I figure that it'd be fun to read, and imagine how funny it'd be to give him 'his' life story for his birthday!"
She was right. If Skeeter wrote it, it might as well have been Norberta's biography – the mistakes would be hilarious.
"This all sounds fun," Hermione cut in, looking scared, "but, if no one minds, I think I'll stay here – I've got some things I want to get done."
"Of course, Hermione," Audrey said, frustrated expression softening. "I understand."
"I'll stay, too," I told everyone.
There was a chorus of "Yeah, no problem"s before George turned to Audrey and asked what he needed to bring from WWW to make sure her parents were embarrassed to be seen with them, and dinner continued as usual.
Hermione, however, never really returned to her previous state of happiness. Sure, she smiled and laughed and joked, but it wasn't the same. I'm fairly certain that I was the only one who noticed, but Hermione seemed... afraid.
She was afraid. Because Ginny wanted to go to a bookshop. At the time, I thought she was scared of being judged by Audrey's family because of her parentage, but really it was at the prospect of going to Flourish and Blotts.
And I had missed it. And put her in the room with the most books in the entire Burrow.
Merlin's balls, I was an idiot.
"You have to understand, Ron," Mione practically begged, looking desperately afraid that I would hate her for this, "when I was younger, before I went to Hogwarts and met you and Harry, books were my only friends. When I was in primary school, they found out rather quickly that I was smarter than my classmates, so they moved me up a few grade levels. None of the older kids liked me because I was younger and showed them up in class, and no one my age liked me because I was so much smarter than them.
"The only things that were always there – never mean to me, Ron – were my books. Whenever someone would make fun of me, I could loose myself in a story, and suddenly, what they had said didn't matter anymore – they didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was me and what I was reading. And they always had happy endings, Ron. They made me think that, maybe, someday, I'd get a happily-ever-after, too.
"Words... they were my saviors, Ron. They always helped me heal whenever anyone did anything to hurt me.
"But when she did this to me–" Hermione shoved her arm towards me, showcasing the word Bellatrix LeStrange had carved there "–when she did this, i-it was the first time words had ever hurt me, Ron, not helped.
"And if they can hurt me, Ron... what can't?"
I couldn't lie and say that I'd never hurt her – I already had – but I did the next best thing.
"Mione," I said, gently lifting her face so that it was turned towards me. "Look at me, Mione, look at me." When her beautiful brown eyes finally found their way to mine, I continued. "Mione, I hate that bitch for everything she did to you – I'd kill her for it if I could – but that word, it doesn't matter Mione. You are still just as beautiful, just as amazing, just as perfect as you were before it."
I reached over to her bedside table to grab a Muggle pen and scribbled something on the inside cover of the book I still held.
"These words, Hermione," I told her, shoving it into her hands, "these words, are the only ones that matter."
I watched as she read what I had written, as she read I LOVE YOU.
"See, those words didn't hurt, did they?" I asked softly – gently – my voice just above a whisper.
She shook her head, blushing, with a small smile.
"Now," I said, settling down on her deep purple pillows, pulling her with me so head once more rested against my chest, "how about we read some bedtime stories?"
Mione nodded. I leaned down and kissed her head before opening the book to the first story and starting to read.
"Once upon a very long time ago, there was a very beautiful princess named Moonstone – or was it Mione? – who had such beautiful – bushy – hair that all the princes in the land loved. They all..."
"... and they all lived happily for all eternity. The end." I closed the book softly. "That was the last one, Mione," I whispered in the ear of my almost-asleep girlfriend. "It was okay, wasn't it?"
"It was. Thank you, Ron," she said groggily, continuing to trace random little designs on my shirt sleeve with her index finger. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to read on my own again, but I liked that. Can we do it again, sometime?"
"Of course, Mione, whenever you want," I promised, kissing her nose. It had taken several hours, but I had read her every story in the entire book. I liked it. "You know, it's only 6:45. We can still get ready and meet them at the restaurant – you know, show Audrey's family just how totally AWESOME Muggleborns and Blood Traitors are?"
A smile crossed her sleepy little face. "Only if you read the menu for me."
"Mais, bien sur, ma chérie, with pleasure."
When you stay with Bill and Fleur, you tend to pick up French. Quickly. Not only were they disgustingly lovey-dovey and also often used Fleur's native tongue, but they had very thin walls.
"Zen eet iz a dae-tah, monsieur," she announced, mimicking Fleur's accent, which made me laugh. Said laugh turned into a groan as her small frame left my arms and stood up. "Now, I need to get ready, and so do you. Go."
"Aww, Mioneeee," I whined, making a big show out of pouting.
"C'mon, out. If you leave now, I promise you'll like what you see."
I let her pull me off the bed and lead me to the still-open door.
"But I always like what I see – well, except when I look at my great aunt Tessie – or Muriel." I grimaced. "But I always love how you look."
"Aww, Ron," she smiled up at me, "flattery will get you everywhere – including the hallway."
I laughed, slowly closing the door behind me as I left.
"Oh, and Ron?"
I spun around, probably way too fast to be cool, but I don't think Mione minded – she was too busy snogging me.
"I love you," she whispered when we finally pulled apart.
"I love you, too, Mione."
She still needed to change, so I left, smiling widely.
I love logophobia, almost as much as I love Hermione Granger.
Well, ta-da! I'm thinking of possibly making this a two-shot. What do you think? Review and tell me, along with what you liked, disliked, I could have done better on, and what you detested with a firey passion og a googleplexillion suns. Also, any questions on things I didn't make clear enough. By the way, "I Love Logophobia" is a really lame title, so if you have any better suggestions - for this or any of my other stories - please tell me.
Before that, though, let me say that I don't think that Ron is out of character - I can easily picture him doing, saying, and thinking these things. Then again, this is my fanfic... but STILL!
Lastly, for anyone reading Always, I promise I am working on the last chapter, but it's gonna take at least another couple of days, and I have the feeling that my parents are going to forbid me to do anything on Fan Fiction until I'm caught up on all my overdue English crap. So I probably won't be posting anytime soon. I might be able to get them to let me check my email, though, so PLEASE be my Fan Fiction lifeline and REVIEW!
Well, that's my little rant. Ta-ta for now!