He was exhausted. He had finally been put on his first real case, sort of. Ron had been asked to watch the goings on of someone suspected to have contact with one of the more despicable wizards on the loose. Mostly it had been boring, but the mole-like man that Ron had been following was an energetic little bugger. He had led Ron through all of the streets of Diagon Alley, as well as those of Knockturn.
His feet were tired, his mind was numb from lack of any mental stimulation, and his stomach was grumbling louder than Fluffy, Hagrid’s three headed dog.
“What’s for dinner?” Ron yelled out as he hung his cloak in the hall. “I’m star-“ his breath caught in his throat.
Hermione?” Ron’s voice rose slightly at the end and he coughed and spoke again in a lower tone. “Hermione? What are you doing here?” His heart was racing and he was torn between feelings of desire and disgust. She was sitting at the kitchen table, Victoire playing idly by her feet.
“I came to visit your mum, and I think we probably need to talk.” She set down the cup of steaming tea, her lips plump and red from the heat of the liquid. Ron turned his head away and looked towards his mother, needing to focus on something other than Hermione.
“We’re having pot roast. Why don’t you clean up a bit before dinner, dear?” His mum broke through the awkward tension.
“Yeah,” Ron choked out and rushed towards the upstairs bathroom.
He washed his hand more thoroughly than he would have had he not been avoiding going back downstairs. His face was a bit grimy from the dust of the street, so he decided to wash it, too. Then he noticed his stubble was peeking through, and figured that he might as well shave. Ron rubbed a hand across his clean shaven face, and smelled a whiff of something foul.
Well, if he was going to shave, he should probably shower…
Forty-five minutes later, Ron was shaved, showered, and had even gone as far as brushing his teeth; the minty taste of the toothpaste overpowering the garlic from his lunch. He dressed himself in a clean set of robes and went to the kitchen to enjoy the delicious smelling pot roast.
“Going somewhere dear?” His mum asked when Ron appeared in the kitchen.
“Yeah, got a hot date tonight, little brother?” Ron groaned; George had come for dinner.
“Nah, who’d date him?” Bill’s voice echoed. Ron blushed and out of the corner of his eye he saw Hermione grow a varying shade of pink.
“Sorry Hermione.” Bill said contritely, only causing the two of them to blush more furiously.
“Yes, well…” Hermione said as she turned to say something to Angelina, cutting her face from Ron’s line of vision.
“What’s everyone doing here?” Ron asked.
“We heard there was pot roast.” Angelina answered.
“I just came to get the little one,” Bill replied as he grabbed Victoire by the waist and hauled her up off the floor.
“See you tomorrow, mum.” He nodded to everyone else in turn and then headed out the door, his daughter bouncing on his hip.
“So who’s the bird you got all dolled up for?” George pushed forward upon Bill’s leaving.
“Oh, leave your brother alone.” His mum admonished as she set a place in front of Angelina.
Ron hoped that George would let the matter drop, but knew that he probably wouldn’t.
Dinner was awkward. His father made attempts at conversation about some muggle thing called a blender, his mum tried to get Angelina to eat more, and George worked in the odd comment about Ron and his mystery date. All the while Ron and Hermione made not so covert glances at one another, neither one brave enough to speak outright in front of all these witnesses.
When the pudding was being taken away and Angelina was dragging George out of the door, something which Ron would be forever grateful for, Hermione finally spoke to him.
“Do you want to take a walk?”
Ron groaned, mostly because the idea of a walk sounded horrible after the day he’d had. Realizing that wasn’t the best response, he amended, “Yeah, sounds good.”
She gave him a hesitant smile and rose quietly from the table as his dad and mum cleaned up the kitchen together.
The silence fell around them as they entered the garden. The night sky hung darkly above, clouds covering any star or moonlight.
“So…” Ron began.
“So…” Hermione repeated back.
Their words died in the air as they continued along into the yard, following a familiar path.
Hermione took a deep breath in. “I love the smell of bluebells,” she said in a dreamy voice.
“Yeah,” Ron agreed.
They were in the middle of the bluebell field, Hermione stopped and picked up a flower, placing it to her nose and inhaled more deeply.
“Are you seeing that Captain bloke?” Ron burst out, interrupting her tranquil reverie.
She blushed and tried to hide a smile. “No,” she said softly. “Are you dating that girl I saw you with?”
Ron paused, not because he didn’t know the answer, but because he wasn’t sure if he wanted to tell her. He didn’t know if he was ready for what he felt would certainly happen if he told her the truth.
Her face fell as his silence wore on.
“Why do you care?” He hadn’t been truly angry at Hermione since his talk with Harry, but the sadness in her face enraged him. How dare she look so sad when only two months ago she was married to someone else?
“I don’t,” she snapped. “I just wondered because I thought maybe she would give Linus another chance.”
“Linus?” Ron snorted.
“Yes, Linus, or Captain as you like to call him.”
“Fat chance,” Ron huffed out.
“Well, I see I made a mistake in coming here. I’m sorry to have troubled you.” Hermione clutched at the bluebell in her hand, Ron watched the flower crumple in her grip.
She turned around and her hair swung behind her in a snap.
“Where are you going?” He shouted after her. His anger suddenly abated, leaving him unsure where it had even come from.
“Home. I don’t know what I was thinking. You’re just as stubborn and pigheaded as ever.”
His anger came back.
“Like I don’t have a reason to be?!” Ron said incredulously. “I’m not the one who whored myself off to the highest bidder.”
Fire danced in her eyes as she stormed back in his direction. Perhaps that was a bit too far.
His face felt red hot where she had hit him. He held his hand to the developing bruise, shock written all over his features. Not shock for her actions, but his own. He couldn’t believe he had said something so cruel. It wasn’t even how he really felt. Sure, he hated the idea of Hermione being with Malfoy, it made his blood boil and his skin crawl, but he didn’t really blame her, at least not anymore, and he knew that she wasn’t like that.
They stared at one another, her fierce gaze piercing into that of his own sorrowful one.
She broke the trance and turned back around, this time with even more determination than before.
“Wait, Hermione. I’m sorry,” Ron called out, chasing after her.
He caught up to her in four easy strides.
She continued walking. He grabbed at her arm, only wanting to turn her to face him. She yanked at his grip, pulling her arm free.
“Please, Hermione. I’m sorry. I’m a pigheaded idiot,” he pleaded.
She continued stomping towards the house.
She turned around and shouted, “No! Don’t you dare say that to me! What you just said is not love. Calling the woman that you ‘love’ a whore is not love!” Tears pooled in her eyes.
“And calling me pigheaded is?” One hard stare from her and he backtracked, “Okay, not the same thing. Sorry, again. I didn’t mean it Hermione.” Tears started to pool in his eyes as well, and he had to blink several times to keep them in check.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I’m so angry with you. I know that you had to move on, it’s only natural.” Her gaze remained hard, but she stayed, listening to him.
“It’s just… you moved on with Malfoy.” His voice took on an unintentional whiney tone. Her glare became more menacing. “I get it, or I’m trying to get it. He was there for you, but it’s hard. He’s Malfoy; he’s always been such a git.”
“You didn’t seem to care much when we were in Japan, or that night I saw you in the alley.”
“That’s because I didn’t know what it was to love you then. I didn’t remember. Remembering hurt a lot more.”
Her eyes softened.
“Being told that we were together and remembering being together are very different. Seeing you choose to be with him after knowing what we had…” his voice caught in his throat.
Hermione brushed the back of her hand across his now bruising cheek.
For what felt like the hundredth time that night they stood facing one another in silence.
“Loved?” Hermione’s weak voice asked.
“Love.” Ron corrected.
“Me too,” she stepped closer to him.
He could see his breath tickling the hairs on the top of her head. His arms ached to wrap themselves around her but neither one of them moved.
They both jumped and looked towards the light of The Burrow. Ron turned back to see Hermione staring longingly at him, he returned her glance before running in the direction of his home, scared of what he might find.
To say that she was disturbed would be an understatement. Their moment had been interrupted by something that Hermione was sure to remember for the rest of her life.
When they entered The Burrow, Hermione had expected to see some calamity, or possibly worse. What they found however, was nothing short of traumatizing.
Molly Weasley was flushed, her hair wild and the front of her robes askew. Arthur was lying on the floor, his undergarments wrapped around his ankles, and his face a glaring shade of tomato red.
“Just fell, nothing to see,” Arthur said as he tried to wriggle himself up from his awkward position. It was proving more difficult than it should have been, given that he was unable to move his legs properly.
There were broken dishes and a couple of pots strewn about the floor, Hermione didn’t even want to know how they managed to get there.
Molly gathered her wits about her much sooner than either Ron or Hermione had been able to.
“Sorry to have disturbed you. We thought you had left.” She held out a hand to help her husband from the floor and quickly flicked her wand to right the shattered dishes and cooking pans.
“Er…” was all that Ron was able to get out before leaving the kitchen completely and rushing back into the yard.
Hermione followed closely at his heels.
When they had got far enough into the yard, Hermione could no longer stifle the laughter that was bursting to come out. She had been embarrassed for them, and herself, but mostly she had wanted to let the bubbling feeling of mirth come to the forefront.
“It’s not funny.” Ron admonished.
“It – is – too,” Hermione said through gasping breaths of laughter. She turned to look at him and his face was almost as red as his father’s had been. At the thought of Arthur a fresh wave of glee washed over her and she was almost unable to catch her breath.
“No, it isn’t. It’s disgusting.”
She breathed in deeply, trying to calm the fits of giggles that continued to burst forth.
“I think it’s kind of sweet.”
“It is,” Hermione insisted. “After all this time and they are still, well you know.”
“Unfortunately I do.” He ran a hand through his hair.
Hermione noticed how long it had gotten lately, the edges curled slightly around his ears and at the nape of his neck. The front hung limply in his eyes. She followed her urge to brush the hair away from his face and found it to be as soft and thick as she remembered.
Ron tensed, and then lowered his gaze as bright blue met deep brown.
Hermione’s giggles vanished.
She ached for him to reach for her, but he stayed still, just staring into her, through her.
“Well, it’s late. I should probably get going…” Hermione took in a scuff on her shoe, not able to hold his gaze any longer.
“Yeah.” She looked up to see him run his hands through his hair once more.
“So, good-bye then.” Her feet wouldn’t move.
“Good-bye,” he responded lamely.
“Night.” Hermione continued, this time able to get her body to do as it was told and taking a step back. She took another and then turned away from him.
“Wait.” He called out, and Hermione released a long breath as she stood rooted to the spot, but not able to face him.
“Yes?” She asked, still turned towards the house and away from Ron.
“Can I… Can I see you sometime?” His insecure tone reminded her so much of how it had been when they had first started dating, all those years ago.
Hermione nodded her head.
“I can’t promise anything,” he continued, “I just, I want to try.”
She turned then. “I can’t promise anything either, but I’m all for trying.”
A small smile broke out on his face and he pulled lightly at her fingers with his own. His touch sent a new wave of shivers down her spine, and though they were barely touching, just grazing really, it felt more intense than any contact she ever shared with Draco.
“So, I’ll see you then?” She asked.
“Yeah, you’ll see me.” He removed his hand from hers and she started to walk away once more.
She had just reached the front gate, only a few steps from the apparition point that was set up, when she heard light breathing and quick easy footsteps at her back.
She pivoted and saw Ron jogging towards her.
“Was there something el-“ With more grace than she ever thought possible, Ron’s long arm reached out for her and pulled Hermione to him, catching her mouth with his own.
His kiss burned, it melted, it blazed and stoked. It froze and nipped and chilled everything in her body. Her mind rushed to catch up to her body, which instinctively knew what to do. She found that her fingers were already tickling the hairs at his neck and her other hand pulled his at his robes to bring him yet closer. In the dark of night, their bodies molded into one shadowy image.
He pulled away, breathless and panting, his eyes smoldering with lust.
“One step at a time,” he said as his chest continued to heave.
It took another moment for Hermione to get her bearings, and when she did, all she was able to do was nod.
She nodded again and watched as he loped away from her and towards the house. Her fingers brushed against her lips, as if they were able to savor the kiss as well.
“Night,” she finally managed to choke out once the door to The Burrow had closed.
A/N: Well... I am a big idiot! I totally posted the wrong chapter, and for those of you who read it, well you have one leg up on the others. This is the actual chapter. Please let me know what you think.
Okay so I had a huge A/N thanking everyong and asking what they thought about this whopper of a chapter, all I wiill say in this one is review. Let me hear what you think about it all from the slap (dedicated to AriesGirl40 for her inspiration) to the kiss to the Arthur and Molly bits...
Also thanks to Georgia Weasley for being my beta... she is tops.
And last - I have been Nominated for Best Novel Length fiction in the Dobby's thank you so much to all of you who nominated me and to those who have voted for me. It is much appreciated. Dont forget to vote for your favorite fics out there.
Feel free to call me a moron. :)