Chapter 1 : Freshly Mown Grass
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Set in the summer before 6th year begins. Quote in summary is from JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, p. 185 (paperback US).
“Ron?” Molly Weasley stuck her head into the living room, where her three youngest sons were sprawled out on the sofa and chairs, playing cards. “The lawn needs mowing.”
Ron let out a long-suffering groan. “Mum, it's about a thousand degrees outside right now.”
“I asked you to do it this morning. It was your own decision to dawdle about it until the hottest part of the day. Go on and do it now, if you please.”
“Can't it wait until tonight?” Ron pleaded, despite having no intention of actually mowing the lawn later that evening. “If I do it now, I'll be sweating buckets. I hate mowing the lawn.”
“Stop complaining and just get out there and do it,” Molly snapped. “The longer you stand here complaining, the hotter it's going to get outside.”
“Why do I have to do it?” Ron grumbled. “It's not fair. Fred or George could have it done in a second, they're of age. They can use magic.”
“It builds character,” his mother told him before bustling off with the laundry.
“Yeah Ronnie, it builds character,” George put in, grinning at him. “Now get to it.”
The lawnmower was a bulky old thing that seemed to weigh a solid tonne, and Ron cursed under his breath as he pulled it out of the shed. It didn't want to start either, requiring a lot of coaxing and cursing, and a good kick as well, before it finally roared to life.
Ron pushed the beast out onto the lawn and, with much cursing and resentment and a distinct lack of apparent character-building, mowed the grass the good old-fashioned Muggle way.
Hermione hurried up the stairs after Ginny. Both girls had their arms full of folded laundry, ready to be put away for each member of the Weasley family. Mrs. Weasley had assured Hermione that as a guest in their home, she did not have to do chores. But Hermione didn't mind; helping out made her feel more at home. As if she belonged here as much as she did at her own home.
Ginny hurried past a window, too focused on the stairs and not dropping the clothes to look outside. Hermione glanced out automatically as she passed, and stopped with one foot in the air, prepared for the next stair. The sight in the backyard arrested her, and she lowered her foot, backing down a step for a better view without being aware of what she was doing.
Ron was mowing the lawn. And he had taken off his shirt.
She couldn't stop staring. He was quite sweaty, yes, and red-faced with heat and exertion, and his tall and lanky sort of build looked even taller and lankier without his shirt on, which should have added up to not very attractive, objectively speaking. But somehow it didn't. Her heart was beating erratically as she watched his shoulders work, pushing the mower. It looked very heavy. The muscles in his arms flexed as he turned it at the corner of the shed.
He's very pale, her brain noted. And rather skinny, actually.
Who cares? put in her heart. He's perfect.
Her hormones, which never thought in full sentences the way the rest of her did, simply put in an urgent, Want.
He was heading this way now, so that she had full view of his bare chest. Hermione wanted to run her hands across that chest and those shoulders and -
She started, turning guiltily toward Ginny, who was standing on the step above her now.
“What's going on?” Ginny looked out the window, saw her brother mowing the lawn, and then looked back at Hermione's now-red face. And then she laughed. “When you're done watching Ron, come help me put the laundry away.”
“Oh, yes, of course.” Hermione moved to follow her, but Ginny shook her head.
“Take your time,” she said with another laugh. “There's no rush. It's only laundry.”
Hermione watched her go for a moment, hovering on the point of following, but her eyes crept back toward the window, and she gave up. She stood there watching Ron mow the grass until he turned a corner, heading for the other side of the house.
She blinked, as if coming out of a dream, and remembered that her arms were full of laundry and that Ginny was carrying on with the chores, probably laughing at her all the while. Hermione hurried up after her.
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