Chapter 1: Girl
“She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry,
Still you don’t regret a single day…”
Ron yawned and stretched shielding his eyes from the bright sunlight streaming in through his bedroom window. What time is it? He wondered as he threw back the blankets and rumaged for his watch on the bedside table. He glanced blearily at the time and jumped out of bed shocked that it was nearly noon. He didn’t have any place particular to go, but it was the last week of summer holiday and Harry would be arriving that evening. Yawning, Ron grabbed his housecoat and towel and made his way to the bathroom.
Fifteen minutes later Ron returned to his room, his hair still damp. It always amazed him just how quickly a hot shower could wake him up. Rubbing the thick towel over his head Ron glanced around his room and gasped. It shouldn’t have surprised him that his bedroom was a mess, he had been doing nothing but lying around for the last week. In the corner near the door an ominous pile of laundry threatened to topple and Ron sighed knowing that he was unlikely to find any clean clothes in his dresser drawers.
Discarding the damp towel Ron dropped to his hands and knees and began searching under his bed for a passably clean pair of jeans. After much hunting and sniffing he managed to locate a faded pair of blue jeans that passed what his brothers had dubbed ‘the sniff test,’ and began hunting for a shirt. As Ron passed the window a reflection caught his eye causing him to stop suddenly. There in the garden, several stories beneath his bedroom window, Hermione Granger lay sprawled on her stomach in the green summer grass, her nose buried in a paperback novel. The reflection that had caught his eye had been the sun reflecting off her watch, but now its shinning face had been turned away, leaving Ron staring at his friend’s slender wrist.
Hermione moved her hand to brush a stray strand of hair from her face, and Ron found his eyes following the motion. Her hair was longer now that it had been last time he had seen her, and though it was still slightly bushy, the weight of the hair seemed to pull it downward so that long spiraling curls fell across her partially exposed back. As she read Hermione kicked her jean clad legs up, crossing them first one way then the other. Ron smiled, he couldn’t help it. He had seen this motion so many times over the past few years, that even from a distance he could tell that she had reached a passage in the novel that irritated her. Ron knew that he should finish getting dressed, that he should gather the laundry that was piled in the corner of his room and bring it down to his mother so that they would have a place to put Harry’s cot, but he couldn’t seem to pull himself away from the vision of the pretty girl reading in his garden.
She was dressed simply, jeans, sneakers and a pale purple tank-top that showed nothing but long lean arms as it clung to her slight curves. In the time that Ron had known Hermione she had grown from an awkward girl into a lovely young woman. He frowned as his eyes traced the curve of her shoulder realizing that though Hermione had grown into his looks, he was still slightly awkward. In the past two years he had grown nearly six inches and he knew this his arms and legs had the ape-ish appearance of being slightly too long for his body. His fire red hair was too long and his freckle covered nose sloped just a little too much for the shape of his face. As Ron watched Hermione flip the page and turn onto her side he had never wished more than his did now that he had been born with dashingly good looks, or at least an interesting feature or two.
As he walked away from the window Ron wondered exactly when he had started seeing Hermione’s company as a goal rather than an annoyance. He shrugged into his favorite red and tan stripped shirt, which by some miracle had been left hanging in his closet, and found his mind wandering back to the day he had first met Hermione. It had been September first, nearly six years ago, when the small, bushy haired girl with the prominent front teeth had poked her head into his carriage on the Hogwarts Express, told him he had had dirt on his nose then flounced away. Ron smiled at the memory even as the next took its place. It was just over a year later and Ron saw a much younger version of himself sitting beside a petrified Hermione. The gut wrenching fear that she would never be unpetrified raced through him as though he were still sitting next to her stiff body. In the memory he saw Harry take her hand, and for the first time realized what he had felt then was jealousy. Images flew through his mind, and every time he saw Hermione turn to Harry instead of him, the green eyed monster within roared.
Ron shook his head and ran his fingers through his still damp hair. Somewhere along the way he had fallen for Hermione, and admitting that, even only to himself, made his hands shake and his stomach flip greasily. Falling for Hermione Granger had not been his plan. She was all wrong for him. She was a book worm and a model student. She was uptight and stressed out nearly all the time. He admitted that she could be fun when she let her guard down, but that happened so rarely that it could hardly be counted. Ron knew it would never work, even if she felt the same way, but he couldn’t keep his heart from thudding in his chest when he glanced back out the window at her. With a sigh, Ron left the window once again, gathered his laundry and began to make his way down the four flights of stairs between his room and the laundry room, all the while trying to figure out just when he had fallen for Hermione Granger.
When he passed by the kitchen Ron was surprised to find both of his twin brother’s sitting at the kitchen table, a thick roll of parchment spread out between them. His mother, as expected, was leaning over the stove; a thin, nearly clear broth pouring out of the end of her wand.
“I’ve brought my laundry down.” Ron called out as he passed through to the back of the kitchen dropping his pile of cloths on the floor.
“It’s about time.” Molly called back without turning, “Did you make sure you’re pockets were empty? Last time you brought me down a heap of laundry there was something in one of your pockets that turned everything bright pink! And believe me, you’re father did not appreciate having to go to the Ministry with a bright pink robe!”
Ron snickered and tried to remember if he had carried anything lately that was likely to affect the wash.
“Pockets are all clear mum.” He called back as he skirted by the stove and out the back door.
In the garden Hermione had rolled onto her back and was now holding the book above her. As he approached her he saw that it was indeed a novel, instead of her usual text book, and though he didn’t know who the muggle author was, from the cover art Ron got the impression that it was a horror story.
Hermione was so wrapped up in her book, that she never heard the back door open and was, even now, oblivious to Ron’s approach. When he nudged her side with the toe of his sneaker she let out a scream that made them both jump.
“Ronald Weasley!” She squealed as she pressed her hand to her chest, “Don’t you know better than to sneak up on a person?”
The look on her pale face was so horrified that Ron couldn’t help it. He simply collapsed in the grass beside her laughing uncontrollably.
“You should have seen your face!” He gasped between laughs.
“Think it’s funny do you? Scaring a person half to death that way!” Hermione yelled as she made her way to her feet. “You just wait Ronald! You’ll get yours!” And with her hand still firmly on her chest Hermione leaned over, picked up her book and began to walk across the garden.
It took a minute to get himself under control, but once he did Ron hoisted himself up off the ground and went after her. She had a long stride for such a short person and Ron had to nearly run to catch up. When he did he threw his arm over her shoulder and a friendly way.
“Aw ‘mione, don’t be mad.” He teased.
Hermione glared up at him for a moment then smiled. It wasn’t a friendly or forgiving smile; it was a smile that made Ron glad that Harry would be there to distract her that night because with a brain like hers there was no knowing what sort of revenge she would come up with.
After a moment Ron realized that his arm was still around Hermione’s shoulders and dropped it quickly as he felt his face flush. Without another word he quickly turned and walked away grumbling to himself about this new found awareness and how it was bound to mess things up for him.
Confused, Hermione stood and watched him go. She didn’t know why she had been so annoyed with him for startling her, he did that all the time, but what was even more baffling was his sudden departure. Obviously something had happened that she had missed. Usually this would bother Hermione and she would pester him until she found out what was wrong. But today the sun was warm and the breeze pleasant, and Hermione found herself curling up beneath a large oak tree with her book. Ron would still be there later, but right now Gerald’s Game called.
Once back in the kitchen Ron leaned against the door and tried to will his face back to its normal color before anyone noticed. Fortunately his mother had decided to start ladling out the soup and calling the family to lunch. By the time everyone was settled in Ron was halfway through his bowl of soup. He kept his head down and his flaming cheeks remained unnoticed. By the time Hermione made her way into the kitchen Ron was just dropping his bowl into the sink and quickly escaped back up to his room.
“What’s his problem?” Ron heard his sister ask as he rounded the second flight of stairs, but he didn’t care. Soon Harry would be there, and Ron and his sudden departure would be long forgotten.
A/N: Lyrics from Girl by The Beatles