Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. A woman named something like Rowling owns it all. Understand me?
A/N: It's my birthday today (January the 17th), and just of pure gentleness, I finished the seventh chapter and then posted it, as a present for you. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Finally there's some more of R/Hr!
“Repeat that,” Ron said, horrified.
“We have a plan,” Ginny said impatiently. “We’re going to arrange a dinner, a birthday dinner. A dinner for two. You and Hermione. Hopefully everything’ll go well.”
“And why would I want to have a dinner alone with Hermione?” Ron asked, hoping Ginny would take the hint.
Alas, she didn’t. “Because you love her! Maybe something’ll finally happen between the two of you!”
Ron swore under his breath. His little sister had just confessed his love for Hermione in front of Clara Dobbs, a girl he didn’t really know, and an uncomfortable-looking Draco Malfoy. He hadn’t got any idea why Malfoy was there, but rumours said he was going out with Clara. She's got a bad taste in boys, Ron thought. Strangely enough, Malfoy didn’t make any comment on what Ginny had just said.
“What’s up with you?” Ron snapped at Malfoy.
“What?” Malfoy said.
“You didn’t remark-” Here he stopped, swearing again. Now Malfoy was sure to comment it.
“I already know, Weasley,” Malfoy said bored. “I know you have a thing for the Mud-” (Clara sent him a stern look) “Granger.”
“I told you the whole school knows,” Ginny said. Then her voice became more business-like. “So, let’s go through the whole plan…”
Ron waited in the Room of Requirement, looking anxiously at his watch. What if she didn’t turn up? What if he stood there all night through, waiting for her to come? He didn’t know what Ginny had told her. Maybe she had just told the truth; that it was just Ron she would have a dinner with. But what if Ginny had said something, so Hermione would be expecting something grand, a big birthday party with several guests, and she ended up being disappointed when she saw a freckled red-head?
He looked himself up and down in the mirror. Ginny had insisted on dress robes, although Ron fought very bravely against that to the end. But of course, she had won. The dress robes he had gotten from Fred and George weren’t really that bad. Better than the old ones, anyway. The new ones were blue, matching his eyes.
The room looked different from last night (which Ron didn’t know anything about. He probably would have laughed his head off if he ever discovered that Malfoy had been with two girls in the girliest room of the universe). This night, the walls were dark blue. A table with a white tablecloth stood in the middle of the room. Candles sent dim light everywhere, making the room mysterious.
It’s just Hermione, Ron kept telling himself. It’s just Hermione, the girl I’ve been best friend with for five years. No reason to be nervous… Thinking ‘just Hermione’, didn’t really help. For some reason he just became even more nervous.
There was a knock on the door. Ron stiffened. What was he going to do? Open the door, you idiot, a voice inside his head said (it sounded strangely like Ginny’s). Oh yeah. The door. Right.
So he went for the door. When he opened it, he lost the ability to breathe. It was her. She looked beautiful. Nowadays, he always thought of her as beautiful, but now it was sort of thrown in his face. She wore a long, blue dress. He noticed some makeup, but it was not too visible. It was natural. She had done something to her hair. It was completely straight. For some reason, he missed the usual bushy mess.
“Can I come in?” Hermione smiled. She looked a little nervous, but not close to Ron’s level.
“Er- y- yah- yeah…”
She went in. The door closed behind her. Ron didn’t know what to say. He needed to say something about her, about how she looked… But what word to use?
“You- you look,” Beautiful? Pretty? Cute? Gorgeous? Lovely? As long it wasn’t… “nice,” Ron said lamely. Damn.
“Thanks. Those robes suit you.”
“You think so?” Ron grew five foot taller.
Hermione nodded. “Thanks for the present, but you shouldn’t-”
“I should, and I did.”
“Yes, but wasn’t it… expensive? I’ve wanted that book for months, and you got me that perfume. I have more than enough left from Christmas…”
Ron felt hot. Should he really tell her? “Er- well, I didn’t buy anything for myself this summer, and… I saved almost all my money to buy that-”
“You heard me.”
Hermione looked shocked. “You didn’t- surely you didn’t- Ron, why?”
Ron shrugged. “I just wanted to buy something not too cheap.”
“Hermione, did you like the present?”
“Well, yes, but-”
“Is there anything to discuss, then?”
“Look, I loved it, but you shouldn’t have spent all your money on me! I feel guilty.”
“Guilty?" Ron said bewildered.
“Yes, don’t you understand?”
“Can’t say I do, but don’t feel guilty. Oh, the food’s turned up, look…”
“I’m starving, okay? Let’s eat!”
The next hours went surprisingly well. The two of them ate, talked, laughed and did not bicker. Ron found himself staring at Hermione more than once, and he could swear that sometimes, Hermione stared at him, but he was obviously imagining things.
When it was 11 PM, Hermione looked at her watch. She paled. “Oh, no,” she whispered.
“What?” Ron asked.
“So what? It’s not like we’ve never been out of the Common Room after curfew before.”
“Ron! When we’ve been out after curfew, it’s because we’ve done important things, but this…”
“Isn’t important?” Ron suggested cooly.
“No, not like that. I just meant that this isn’t like visiting Hagrid with some new horrible creature and it’s not like helping Harry survive. But I wouldn’t consider this night unimportant, either.” Hermione had flushed a little pink.
Ron smiled, although his smile was insecure. He still didn’t know what she thought, what she felt. He didn’t know if they were friends, or if they maybe were more… It was possible that Hermione just looked at this as a friend-dinner…
“I think we should go,” Hermione said.
Ron sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go.” He almost took her hand to lead her out of the room, but he didn’t. That would have been too obvious. Then he recalled something. Hadn’t Hermione taken his hand the first day, the day they got back to Hogwarts? Indeed she had! Ron felt as though he could fly, but got quickly down to earth again. She probably hadn’t meant anything by it… It was normal that girls went hand in hand with a friend, wasn’t it? It probably was. Of course it was. Maybe Hermione had gone hand in hand with Harry, Neville, Krum and other boys? He felt a pang of jealousy. How could she?! Calm down. You don’t even know if she’s done that. Calm down…
Hermione looked at him, uncertainly. “Ron?”
“Wh- yeah? Yeah! We should go, shouldn’t we?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to- never mind,” Hermione muttered.
They walked in silent until they came back to the common room in front of the stairs leading up to the dormitories. The room was all empty.
Hermione turned to Ron. “Thank you for this wonderful night, Ron.”
Ron, feeling that she was way too polite, replied, “No problem.” He grinned weakly. It was not even his creation, none of it. Ginny and Clara had fixed everything. But he was not going to share that information with the brunette beside him.
Hermione smiled, hugging him.
Ron felt butterflies swirl around in his tummy. The embrace lasted long, but he didn’t want to give it up. He hugged her tightly to his body. He felt her head on his shoulder. Ron swallowed. He hoped that his heart didn’t throb too loud. He wanted to stay like this forever, in a tight embrace with his best friend. Did she do this to other boys as well? Sure, she used to hug Harry, but those hugs were not like this. Peter… Peter! Unable to keep himself, he said, “You’ll stop seeing Peter, won’t you?” The words came out more rudely than he had thought they would be. It sounded like an order.
He felt Hermione’s body stiffen. Then she broke the hug, not looking at him. “Goodnight, Ron.”
Now it was impossible to stay quiet. “You won’t continue meeting him, will you?”
“I said goodnight!” Hermione said coldly, beginning to go up the stairs to her dormitory.
“Answer my question!” When he didn’t get an answer, he shouted, “Hermione!”
“Don’t wake up the whole house!” Hermione snapped, turning around, looking angrily on him.
“I won’t if you just answer me!”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Hermione, please stop meeting him!”
“Why?! That’s up to me to decide!”
“He- he- he’s not good for you!”
“He’s just a- a bloody perfect boy who can’t be real!”
“He seems real to me, actually.”
“Don’t you see it? It’s got to be some cover! No one can be that perfect!”
Hermione glared at him. “I’m off to bed.” And with that, she ran up the last steps, and then shut the door behind her.
Ron swore loudly. He had just blown it all, ruined it… Knowing that he wouldn’t sleep for a while, he sat down in front of the fire, calling himself insulting words he knew were never to escape Hermione’s mouth. He glared into the fire.
Ron glared up at the person who said it. It was Harry.
“Harry. What’re you doing here?”
“I just- well, Ginny told me about the plan and I tried to stay awake so I could see how it went, and when I heard screaming I figured it had to be you two. How did it- go?”
Ron still glared at him.
Harry rose his hands as to say, “Hey, I’m innocent! Not my fault!” He then said, “All right, I see it didn’t go perfect, but what… happened?”
Ron sighed. “I blew it. I had to mention that idiot Peter Hanson.”
“Oh.” They sat in silent for a while. “He’s reminding me of someone, you know.”
“I don’t know. I would’ve told you his name if I knew who it was, wouldn’t I?”
“No, I mean the guy you said reminded you of someone.”
Ron laughed sarcastically. “Ho ho, Harry. Don’t tell me you haven’t figured that one yet?”
“I can’t believe you haven’t. Lockhart, of course!”
Harry hit his head. “Yeah! Of course! How could I miss that?”
“I was wondering the same. For once in my life, I feel smart. Thanks.” Ron looked miserably into the fire, wanting to burn as the fire could. He wanted to burn, to hurt Peter Hanson. At this moment, Peter was really the only thing that was in the way of getting Hermione.
“I think I’ll go to bed,” Ron said, rising up. He knew he wouldn’t manage to sleep, but he didn’t want to talk to Harry.
“Do that,” Harry said. Ron could feel his best friend’s gaze at him all they way to the stairs. There he began to run, and finally he reached his bed. Perhaps I shouldn’t sleep in my dress robes. Then he shrugged, not caring about anything. He closed his eyes. Perhaps things would fix themselves in the morning, in some miraculous way.
A/N: Please review. And... it will probably take a long time before next chappie's up. I just know it'll be difficult to write, since I want to reveal something quite big in a not too stupid way... And if you're desperate to read more of my work (which I really doubt you are), I have other fics up.