Ginny had arrived home the night before with a large smile on her face, clutching Harry's arm. Her smile slid as soon as she saw Ron.
“What are you doing here? I thought you'd be with Hermione.” Ginny said.
“Oh. About that.” Ron started
Ginny held up a hand to stop him.
“Don't tell me. I don't want to know, because then I will not get enough beauty sleep and I will be exhausted for the party and will have dark, unbecoming circles under my eyes.”
Ron half expected Harry to say that Ginny could never be unbecoming, but, to the bloke's credit he apparently knew how and when to keep his mouth shut.
“Ron, I want you to leave my house and go to my other house that you are staying in, and I want you to stay away from Hermione for now, okay? I'll go over there in the morning and try to make you sound good.”
“Stay away from Hermione?” Ron said, frowning. “I was actually planning on-”
“Stay away from her or I will cast a spell on you that makes riding on a broomstick really uncomfortable.
“Hermione who?” Ron asked, backing out of the house. Ginny sighed and walked into the kitchen to get some warm milk before she went to bed.
“Harry, what's this white flag doing on the floor?” she called a few seconds later.
“You know, it's kind of hard to believe Ron would do that.” Ginny said, handing Hermione another tissue. “He loves you.”
“No he doesn't!” Hermione wailed. “He doesn't love me!”
“Yes he does, Hermione, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!” Ginny said forcefully. She got up and walked over to Hermione's closet. “I bought you a dress for the party at Hogwarts as soon as I heard about it. I dropped it off here when you weren't home, of course, but you obviously haven't noticed it yet because you just got back.”
“Ginny, I highly doubt fashion is going to make everything better.”
“No, but it might.” Ginny said. She buried herself into Hermione's closet and emerged with a pair of gladiator style stilettos and a scarily short black dress. “You don't oppose to high heels and short black dresses, do you, Hermione?”
“Very funny.” Hermione said.
“Well do you have anything else?” Ginny asked.
“No.” Hermione admitted.
“Good. Anyway, between the dress and the shoes Ron will be going crazy. He has a thing for your legs, for some reason.” Ginny shook her head. “Apparently you have good legs.”
“Yes. Courtesy of having to wear a Hogwarts skirt, my legs have been good from the start.” Hermione said in spite of herself.
“We're going to make sure you knock Ron's socks off at this party so he'll be on his knees for you.” Ginny announced.
“Just don't turn me into a clone copy of you.” Hermione urged. “I don't want to be unrecognizable.”
“I'm not making any promises.”
Ron had wandered over to 'Sweet Wizarding Studios' in order to keep himself away from Hermione. He was going to read the fan mail and see what everyone thought of him. And Hermione. And him and Hermione. Were the fans rooting for him and Hermione, or did they not want them together? Did they think he was a bag egg, and Hermione was a good one? Ron didn't know why he was setting so much store by people he barely knew, but somehow it seemed important to him.
First, Ron peeked into the studio. Colin Love was in front of a live audience, beaming down at a blond woman and a brown-haired man who were holding two blond babies. They didn't seem nearly as sweet as Nancy and Cam. Next, Ron went to the secretary for The Perfect Match. She had bleached blond hair and a valley girl voice complete with an American accent.
“Omigod, I, like, totally can't believe he said that to you!” she trilled to whoever she was talking to on the phone. Ron's mouth dropped open when he realized that she was talking on the phone and painting her nails at the same time. Who knew blond valley girl secretaries could be so talented? The girl hadn't chipped a nail yet.
“Ehem.” Ron said.
“One sec, Trish.” the secretary said, rolling her eyes and turning to face Ron. “Um, like, what do you want?”
Then she saw Ron and her eyes moved up and down.
“Hello.” she said again. “What can I do for you, sweetie pie?”
“Can I see the fan letters for Ron Weasley on The Perfect Match?” Ron asked after clearing his throat.
“Sure thing.” the girl beamed. She started shuffling through papers then looked up at Ron sympathetically. “Ummmm, like, We've had orders not to give them to him.”
Ron sighed impatiently.
“I gave those orders. I did not want them delivered to my dressing room. But now I'm here and I want to see my love/hate mail!”
“Okay, fine!” the girl said, pouting as she handed Ron the letters. Then she picked up the phone again. “I'm back, Trish! Did you miss me? Omigod, yeah! I, like, totally missed you too! But, like, guess what! This totally hot red-head just came to my desk! Yah, I knoooowwwww, I usually hate red heads too! But, omigod, you should have seen his muscles!”
It was Ron's turn to roll his eyes now. He turned around and walked to his dressing room, then seated himself on the leather couch and started to read the fan letters. He stayed there for an hour, reading them and laughing with joy.
Dear Ron-You and Hermione belong together! You're so perfect it's not even funny. YOU NEED TO GET BACK TOGETHER NOW.
Dear Ron- Don't get discouraged! You can tell Hermione loves you, you just have to be patient and as loving as you possibly can be.
Dear Ron- You're so hot! Would you mind randomly taking your shirt off again on one of the dates? Thanks a bunch!
Okay- the last one was a bit ridiculous. And he most certainly would not be taking his shirt off. But the sentiment was nice.
“I'm not sure about this.” Hermione whispered to Ginny as they dithered on the outside of the Great Hall. “There are teachers here!”
“Don't worry, you look so trashy I'm sure they won't recognize you.” Ginny assured Hermione.
“Nice.” Harry said, laughing. Hermione shot him a look.
“Sorry, Hermione. You do look kind of trashy.”
Ginny shot him another look.
“In a beautiful way!” Harry added hastily. “You look beautifully trashy.”
“That's it!” Hermione said, turning around. “I'm going home and changing into a habit.”
“Hermione, if you want to look like a nun just wear a loose turtleneck.” Ginny said, rolling her eyes.
“You look beautiful, Hermione.” Harry assured her, smiling. “You just look more like Lavender then Hermione at the moment.”
“Fine.” Hermione sighed, turning again towards the ball room. “But if I fall in these heels, Ginny, I'm taking you down with me.”
“You'd better not!” Ginny cried, looking worried for the first time. “This is my first public event as Mrs. Harry Potter! If you ruin it I swear to merlin I'll kill you.”
“What number is that?” Hermione asked turning to Harry.
“23.” Harry replied.
“Right. Ginny, you've said that 23 times.”
“So?” Ginny asked, unconcerned again. “Oh, look. Neville! I haven't seen him in a while. He's teaching Herbology now... dating Hannah Abbott, isn't he?”
“He always did have a way with plants.” Harry admitted. Ginny hurried into the Great Hall, and Harry followed behind her.
Hermione took a deep breath and entered the great hall. It felt like everyone was looking at her. She swallowed hard, until she heard the first whisper.
“Who's that?” someone asked.
“Dunno. She kind of looks like a sexy version of Hermione Granger.” another voice replied.
“Nah... too much cleavage.”
Hermione turned bright red and walked into the hall, cursing herself for letting Ginny dress her. After standing there awkwardly for a few moments, she walked over to Luna Lovegood. Then Lavender Brown. Then Ernie Macmillan. The whole night passed and she didn't talk to Ron at all. But she could feel his eyes burning into the back of her head as she chatted to her different friends. Finally, Hermione couldn't take it anymore. She was getting what Ginny used to call 'Ron-Withdrawal' Her eyes found Ron and she automatically walked over him.
“Er- hi.” Ron said. “I'm Ron Weasley. Nice to meet you... do I know you? You look extremely familiar. You kind of look like Hermione except she'd never wear heels that high.”
“Ron, it's me you nitwit.”
“Sorry, Mione. I had to do that. You look... amazing.”
“I look like trash.” Hermione said.
“Well, yes, you do, but that's okay.” Ron said, grinning. Hermione buried her face in her hands. “Really, you look unbelievable.”
And so she did, in his (male) opinion. She was wearing a tight black dress, high stiletto heels that made her just as tall as Ron, and a simple diamond necklace. Her hair was pin straight and hanging a little above her elbows. It seemed that Ginny had given her blond highlights. Hermione was also wearing long diamond earrings that gave her face a look of elegance and maturity Ron had never seen before. As if the earrings weren't enough, she was wearing eyeliner, mascara and a shade of bright red lipstick smothered in lip gloss.
“Yes, well, Ginny always did say that wonder bras will do wonders.” Hermione said without thinking.
Ron's eyes instinctively wandered below Hermione's neck, and he forced himself to look up as someone joined them.
“Everyone's saying that you're Hermione Granger, but you don't look a bit like her.” said a voice, and Hermione turned around to see Pavarti Patil beaming from ear to ear. “I knew it was you, though, because Ron keeps looking at your legs.” she added, and Ron guiltily looked up. “You always were a sucker for Hermione's legs.”
“Wow, Pavarti, I'd forgotten how observant you were.” Hermione said.
“That's me.” Pavarti said. “Hey, Ron, I think Lavender Brown is looking for you. Something about closure... be prepared, I think she wants a snog.”
“Gee, thanks, Pavarti.” Ron said. “Now that I know I actually have to go.”
“She's in the broom cupboard!” Pavarti called after Ron as he left.
“Really?” Hermione asked, arching a freshly waxed eyebrow.
“Nope. I just wanted to talk to you, and I couldn't with him here. So how are you? I've seen you on the game show, it seems that you and Ron are really in love.”
“Not really.” Hermione said. “I mean, I love him, but I don't think he loves me, and... oh, it's a long story.”
“I have time.” Pavarti said. “It's just... the way he looks at you. Even the way he was looking at you a few seconds ago, once he had torn his eyes away from your legs.”
“Oh, yeah, Ron always loved Hermione's legs.” Luna agreed, joining the conversation.
“How come everyone notices everything but me?” Hermione asked indignantly.
“You're blinded by love.” Ginny shrugged. “Don't worry, so is Ron.”
“Don't you agree that you can tell he loves her just by the way he looks at her?” Pavarti asked.
“Oh, definitely!” Ginny exclaimed.
“He just gets this look.” Lavender nodded.
“It kind of resembles what one looks like when a nargle infests their brain, except more gentle.” Luna agreed.
And it was that comment that set Hermione over the edge. The other girls kept on talking about Ron and Hermione until she started walking away.
“Hermione? Where are you going?” Lavender asked.
“Excuse me.” Hermione murmured. She walked quickly out of the great hall and into the entrance hall. And somehow she knew exactly where he'd be.
In spite of the huge fire during the final battle, the Room of Requirement remained completely unchanged. Hermione had walked down the corridor at a quick pace, trying not to wince at her high heels. It was only when she had gotten there that she started to doubt whether or not the room might work after the huge fire. Maybe she was wrong. Ron didn't seem to be anywhere in this hallway, and it was possible that he might have gone somewhere else. Like the Quidditch Pitch, perhaps, or the Gryffindor Common Room. But Hermione paced the corridor three times, saying in her head I need to find Ron. I need to find Ron. And when she opened her eyes, the door was there. So she opened it, hoping that she was about to see what she thought she was about to see.
It was exactly the same as it had been the day she'd gotten her first kiss from Ron. Everything was strewn throughout the place, and, in the years that had passed, the fires had all gone out. In fact, as far as the Room of Requirement went, it seemed as if the Final Battle may never have happened. Hermione, of course, knew better. This was where half her life had ended and another half had started. Or maybe her life was in quarters. Or perhaps chapters... in any case, what happened in this room seven years ago had changed everything, and something in her gut was telling her that what happened in this room tonight was going to change everything, too.
Somehow, she knew exactly where to go. She wandered the aisle as if it had only been yesterday that she'd been in this room searching for the lost diadem of Ravenclaw. Her feet expertly wound around the corridors, and suddenly she was there. She saw his shoes first, as she had been looking at the ground as she walked. Then she saw his legs, and his back, and his neck, and his fiery red head that she loved so much. And she was brought back. Brought back to her first kiss with Ron, and how she'd felt, and what she'd been thinking, and just how much she loved him and needed him, and that was what made her walk up to him and tap him on the shoulder.
He whirled around, surprised. Obviously he hadn't heard her coming, he'd been too wrapped up in the memories that she'd been wrapped up in a few moments ago. The look on his face shocked her. He looked so sad and weak, and she suddenly felt angry at herself for making the memory of that kiss be that way for him. Suddenly, Hermione was unable to look at him. So she started walking up and down a small area of the room, shockingly confident in spite of her neck breaking heels. Ron simply watched her, at a loss for what to say. Hermione started talking first.
“This is the place.” she said.
Ron nodded, bent down and picked something up, then handed it to her. Hermione looked at it, and she felt a jolt in her stomach. It was left over from all these years. They must have forgotten to pick it up, missed it in their search... and she looked at Ron, directly in the eyes.
“Well, I hope you'll be the one to kiss me this time.” she said.
“What?” Ron asked, frowning.
“You're so cute when you're confused.” Hermione whispered, and Ron's expression grew less shocked and more confused. Hermione never spoke to him like that. He looked at her, his eyes asking a question. “I was merely suggesting that, as the person who instigated the kiss that began our relationship last time, I think it should be you this time. After all, do you really want to have to tell our children that I riskily kissed you twice? They'll think their dad has absolutely no guts whatsoever.”
“What... what are you saying?” Ron asked, his face twisted into so many variations of confusion Hermione couldn't help feeling a little sorry for making him feel this way.
“I'm saying, Ron,” Hermione said, stepping closer to him and staring into his gorgeous eyes. “I love you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life. And... kiss me?”
His mouth fell open slightly, and he stared at her, not confused anymore, but with what could only be described as desire. And then he put one hand on each of her cheeks and kissed her.
There was a clatter of the basalisk fang as Hermione Granger threw it to the floor and wrapped her arms securely around Ron Weasley's neck. He wound his arms around her waist and lifted her into the air with his enthusiasm. Hermione responded by pressing herself against him and deepening the kiss that so paralleled the one they had shared in this room before. She melted into him, finally letting her guard down, finally letting him in, finally knowing that she was doing the thing she was meant to be doing by kissing her favorite person in the world.
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