Disclaimer: Still not mine. Not the characters, not the setting. This time the plot is entirely, thank you very much. Anyway, my point is, I have no money. At all. And I'm not making any from this. So, yeah.
Warning: Okay, maybe not a warning… Anyway. Sequel to "I Show Not Your Face…". Not really necessary to have read "I Show Not Your Face…", but it might make some things less confusing.
"…Your Heart's Desire"
"Come on Ron, wake up. Breakfast is nearly over."
Ron groggily pulled himself out of bed, shaking off the remnants of his dream.
"Hurry up. I'm hungry, and you know how upset Hermione will be if she misses breakfast because she's waiting for us."
The only reply Harry got was an incomprehensible grumble from Ron.
"Well, I'm going down to the Common Room to wait with Hermione."
Five minutes later, (with almost half an hour left of breakfast, sheesh) Ron joined his friends in the Gryffindor Common Room. Hermione was, to no one's surprise, reading a ridiculously thick book, and it took Harry and Ron several minutes to get her attention.
The three headed down to face yet another Friday at Hogwarts, complete with, of course, double Potions with the Slytherins. Ron's only consolation was the fact that for the next two days he would be able to sleep in. Really sleep in. Harry, and Neville, Seamus, and Dean, had always wondered what the special appeal of sleep was to Ron. It was his dreams. He sometimes thought he would gladly sleep forever if only he could live in his dreams forever. Ever since that Christmas night in his first year when he had looked in the Mirror of Erised he dreamed of one thing. Hermione. And, as strange as it seemed, she was also the reason he didn't just live in his dreams. Because, even though he never fought with the Hermione in his dreams, she was nothing to the real Hermione, and every day he has spent with her since then, and, indeed, every day he hadn't spent with her, had made him love her more. That was why she could upset him so easily. And even if he spent his waking hours denying how he felt his dreams wouldn't lie to him.
The thing about Hermione that frustrated him the most, though, was something she couldn't even control. Something she didn't even know about. That, all these years after his eleven-year-old self had vowed to make Hermione see him as more than a friend, he was still no closer to achieving it than he was then. And now he was afraid that his one chance had passed him by. That he'd let it pass him by all because of that sodding veela Fleur.
Now, with Halloween approaching, neither he nor Hermione ever mentioned the Yule Ball, as much to avoid the restarting that particular fight as to avoid the subject or of the Tournament. He couldn't decide if this was good or bad.
Then, Ron did decide. (No, not about the Ball…) He was resolved to finally get Hermione. By any means necessary.
Ronald Weasley was not, by nature, a studious person. However, he had determined that if he started taking school more seriously then Hermione would start taking him more seriously. And it was worth it whenever Hermione would smile at him while they were studying together, or when she told him how proud she was of him after he finally pulled a perfect score on a History of Magic quiz.
So he was somehow able to keep up his studies, he even succeeded (well, most of the time) in staying awake while Binns droned on. (Probably part of the reason he managed that quiz score.)
It was because of History of Magic, actually, that Ron found himself in his first fight of the year with Hermione.
Professor Binns had assigned an essay on the way Muggles have perceived witches and wizards throughout history. Hermione, of course, thought it was a wonderful, fascinating assignment. Ron and Harry, however, thought it was just awful.
"I mean honestly, I might as well have taken Muggle Studies."
"Ron, its just one assignment. Besides, I think it'll be really interesting."
"You would. You took Muggle Studies, remember? It's right up your alley."
"And what exactly is that supposed to mean, Ron? That I'm dull? That I'm boring?"
"I never said that Hermione…"
"Well, you didn't need to. I understand perfectly."
"Hermione! I don't think you're dull! Or boring! Or anything! You always try to make me seem like the bad guy! I didn't say anything!"
"Alright, Ron, calm down. You're making a scene."
"I don't care if I am! I can't do anything right around you!"
"Ron calm down!"
"Why should I calm down?" He slammed his book shut. "And why should I waste my time with this stupid assignment?" He threw his things into his bag. "I'm going!" And with that, Ron stormed out of the Common Room.
Ron wandered through the Library with no real idea of why he was there. He was vaguely aware of looking for books for his essay, and seemed to remember something about Macbeth, by Shake-someone.
He finally found it. The First Folio, William Shakespeare. He checked it out along with his other books and returned to Gryffindor tower, then to his dorm.
Finally, hours later, he turned to the last page and a small slip of paper fluttered unnoticed into his lap. He finished the play, feeling much better now. (And knowing where the Weird Sisters got their name.) He decided to write the essay tomorrow. Tonight he wanted to apologize to Hermione. It was hardly her fault Binns gave awful assignments, after all.
He stood up, and the slip of paper fluttered to the floor. Noticing the faded, tattered page for the first time, Ron picked it up and carefully unfolded it. It was so old it was almost falling apart at the creases. He skimmed it over quickly, then was about to throw it out when what it said registered. He reread it twice before pocketing it.
"Hermione?" Hermione stopped writing for just a moment, not looking up, then continued writing. Ron put his hands in his pockets.
"Hermione?" She sighed and looked up at him.
"Apologize. I wanted to apologize. For earlier. You know." He was getting no help at all from Hermione. He jammed his hands further into his pockets. "I'm sorry, Hermione." He turned to return to his dorm, hoping that by tomorrow she would have forgiven him.
He stopped. "Yes?"
"You've…" He turned back to her, hands still in his pockets. "Well…never really…apologized…before…have you?"
Hermione smiled. "It's alright, Ron."
Ron returned her smile, blushing ever so slightly. "Umm, thanks. I'll just…I'm going to bed now."
"Good night, Ron."
Now, in as much as Ron happened to have been in love with Hermione since he was eleven, he was by no stretch of the imagination a romantic, although he did sometimes feel as though his feelings for Hermione were hopeless. Nevertheless, he was not generally the type to go around memorizing anything, unless it was something he should have learned, much less learn anything by heart, unless it was something he shouldn't even know about, What was on that old, tattered, unassuming slip of paper, however, was quite another matter. He couldn't explain it, it just seemed to take hold of him in a way, to mock him.
And so it was that Ron became almost completely wrapped up in the words scrawled on that sheet. That all he seemed to do outside of class was study, to be near Hermione, sleep, to dream of Hermione, and read and reread that page until it really was falling apart. His world had narrowed to one girl and one scrap of paper.
That was when the trouble started. He was sitting in Potions, idly writing and rewriting Hermione's name on a sheet of parchment and attempting to concentrate on Professor Snape's lecture. It wasn't working. Luckily, the bell rang. He swept everything quickly into his bag, closing the slip of parchment in his book.
Later, after Herbology and dinner, Ron and Hermione were studying together in the Common Room, as usual. Hermione was about to start on their Potions assignment for the next week when Neville came to ask her for help. He had left his book in the room, and Ron let him borrow his. He was going to play Wizard's Chess with Harry and do the assignment tomorrow, as they had a week to complete it. (You have to draw the line somewhere.) Neville would bring his book up to the room later.
After beating Harry at chess twice, Ron went up to go to sleep. He woke the next morning to see that Neville had put his book on his bedside table. Once he had showered, dressed, and eaten a late breakfast (so late he was virtually alone in the Great Hall) he returned to his room to work on his Potions assignment. He remembered closing the parchment in the book, marking his place, but once he had found the page of the assignment with no trace of the sheet, he started to panic. He also couldn't find the slip of paper from the Folio. He looked through his book twice more, all his other books, his bag, his trunk, he even searched his bed, not finding any trace of either. Just when he had given up on finding them, Harry walked in.
"Ron? Have you noticed Malfoy bothering Hermione more than usual, lately?"
"Well, it's just that she wasn't at breakfast and she's not in the Common Room. Parvati and Lavender said that last night she seemed a little distant. They thought she was just tired, though, so they didn't wake her up when they went to breakfast. But when they got back she had locked them out of their room. She's been in there since last night. They tried to get her to let them in, but she wouldn't. They said it sounded like she'd been crying. If it wasn't Malfoy, then… You two haven't had another fight, have you?"
And then, it hit Ron. It was the same sheet… He knew exactly what had happened. He picked up the Potions book with its pristine, unblemished cover from his bed, stammered out a, "I've gotta go, Harry. See you later." and ran from the room.
He arrived out of breath at outside Hermione's room, tried the door, which was locked, and began pounding on it.
"Hermione! Hermione, open the door!"
Hermione, her voice deep and cracking from crying all morning, replied only with a yell of, "Leave me alone, Ron!"
"Hermione! Please open the door, Hermione! I can explain!"
Her "GO AWAY!!" was accompanied by the unmistakable sound of something glass connecting with the door in the exact spot he was facing. He winced, but kept pounding on the door and yelling for her to let him in.
"I won't leave until you let me explain!"
"You want to explain?! FINE! Bloody explain, then!" Came the enraged scream from the other side of the door. Well, at least she sounded like she'd stopped crying.
He stopped his continuous pounding on the door but continued to yell.
"Hermione! Last night Neville got our books switched! I came over as soon as I realized. Hermione, that poem, I didn't write it, but it's exactly how I feel!"
He heard a gasp. Then, "So now you think I'm an UGLY know-it-all?! Is that what you're saying, Ron?" The words 'ugly' and 'Ron' were punctuated with more shattering glass.
He was taken aback. Ugly? How could she have gotten that from the poem? How could she even think that?
"No, Hermione! I think you're beautiful and smart and kind and wonderful. But… Oh! Part of being in love is loving someone despite their faults. Because of them, even. Knowing that they're imperfect and not caring. I love you because you're real, Hermione! Because you're not perfect! 'And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare'."
He could tell that all of Gryffindor Tower had gone quiet listening to them, but it didn't matter. He didn't care. He got no answer from Hermione. He couldn't hear her at all.
"Hermione!" He resumed pounding on the door. "Hermione please open the door! Please let me in! Please!" He was going hoarse. "Hermione!"
He heard the lock turn and stopped. The doorknob turned slowly and swung back to show Hermione standing in a room that looked as though it was trying to replicate the effects of the almost ten years of Professor Lupin's transformations in the Shreiking Shack.
"Ron! Your hands!" She pulled his hands up to where she could see them. They were starting to turn some very interesting shades of black and purple. Strange, he hadn't noticed them hurting until then. And then, before he registered what was happening, she brought his hands to her mouth and kissed them gently. His eyes must have shown his surprise, because she immediately dropped his hands and looked away.
"Hermione?" His voice was barely audible. She looked back up at him and before he had time to think about it, he was kissing her. And she was kissing him. And his hands didn't hurt anymore.
When the kiss broke, he felt more than heard Hermione whisper against his lips, "I love you, Ron." He smiled down at her and kissed her forehead, hearing her sigh contentedly. "And I you. Always"
A/N: The poem on the slip of the parchment is Sonnet 130, by the wonderful William Shakespeare. It is:
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then, her breasts are dun;
If hair be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her checks,
And in some perfume is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare
Oh, and be kind. Review. Yes, I know it doesn't rhyme, but you get the point, right?