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Always the Tone of Surprise by ohmymerlin
Chapter 1 : One
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 5

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Ron Weasley was walking down Diagon Alley one unusually sunny, Thursday morning, his hands in his pockets and his head down. He’d had a nightmare of a year trying to balance his Auror job and the work he’d been doing for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes – not that he was upset about it, it had made his brother, George, happy so it was worth it – and he had not had much time for himself.

He had also not had much time for Hermione, much to his disappointment. She had returned to school for her seventh year to complete her N.E.W.T’s with his younger sister, Ginny, but he had not been able to see her since a few weeks after the end of the war. They had not pursued their feelings after that one kiss, even though Ron so desperately wanted to. Hermione had wanted to focus on her schooling and Ron – although very disappointed – understood how important this was to her so he had agreed.

They both told each other that they would keep in touch but after a few weeks, Ron discovered how busy adult life could be. Harry was also busy but as he’d only had one job so he still had time to spend with Ginny. Ron barely had time to sleep or eat.

Not looking where he was going, he ran into someone. His ears went a bright red as he held out his hand, muttering an apology.

The person gripped his arm and pulled themselves up and as Ron was about to continue walking to Gringotts for a few extra sickles, he heard a gasp, “Ron?!”

He looked up eagerly, hoping he hadn’t imagined Hermione’s voice. He beamed when he saw her familiar bushy hair and her smile. He still got a bit of a shock when he didn’t see her buck teeth. She did honestly look better but he still imagined her to have those silly teeth. “Hermione?” he said, still not believing it completely.

Hermione grinned and said, “Yes!” Ron stared at her for a while, a small grin playing on his face before shouting happily, “Hermione!” and wrapping her in a hug and spinning her around.

“Oh, I’ve missed you so much!” she said once he’d put her down. He blushed as he realised what he just did but she didn’t seem to mind.

“I’ve missed you too!” he said earnestly. “I’m so sorry for not keeping in contact, I know I should have tried but I’ve been up to my ears in work!”

Hermione waved him off. “Oh, don’t worry, Ron. Ginny told me all about what’s been happening with you. I think it’s really kind of you to help George out with the shop.” Her cheeks flushed pink as she said that, looking down to the ground and shuffling her feet slightly.

“Always the tone of surprise,” he said teasingly. She let out a loud laugh and he grinned. He was amazed at how easily the conversation was progressing. He honestly thought their first meeting would be uncomfortable and awkward.

For lack of anything to say, Ron said, “I heard you went really well in your N.E.W.T’s. Congratulations.”

“Always the tone of surprise,” she said lightly, a grin playing at her lips. Ron blushed and gave a small chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Well… I always knew you’d do well,” he stumbled over his words, “it’s not like anyone doubted – you’re really clever, Hermione—”

“Ron, relax,” she said, rolling her eyes a little. She moved out of someone’s way as they tutted at the young adults blocking the pathway. Ron flushed as he also stepped aside. “Thank you, though,” she said.

Ron smiled nervously and shuffled his feet. A layer of awkwardness had fallen over them and Ron had no idea what to say. Suddenly Hermione said, “Can we be friends again?”

Ron looked up at her in shock. “Again? I didn’t think we’d ever stopped being friends.”

Hermione bit her lip but Ron still saw a hint of a smile. She opened her mouth to say something but he quickly said, “But no.”

“No what?” asked Hermione. She looked very confused and the previous hint of a smile had disappeared and changed into a frown, worry lines showing themselves on her face.

Ron – who had been trying to be bold – suddenly felt extremely nervous again. “Forget it. I said the wrong thing. Let’s be friends?”

“Really?” asked Hermione. She looked like she was struggling to say something and Ron nodded with a forced smile that turned out to be a grimace. “Do you not want to be friends?” she asked quietly, hurt evident in her voice.

Ron shook his head vehemently. “Of course I want to be friends. But…”

“But what?” she asked, her voice small, making Ron feel instantly guilty and thus forcing him to stop acting like a little boy and instead act like a proper man.

“But I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date with me tomorrow night?” he said quickly before he could take it all back. “Because… you know… we do kind of have some unfinished business… But if you don’t want to then—”

“I want to,” she said eagerly and loudly. Ron grinned and she asked, “Where should we meet? And what time?”

Ron was at a loss for words. The girl of his dreams said yes to going on a date with him. Yes, they had already kissed and had been friends for nearly eight years, but this was something new. He was eager and excited for the new prospect of the two of them.

Floundering, Ron said, “The Munching Mermen at six?” It was a new restaurant that had just arisen in Diagon Alley and Ron had yet to try it. Hermione happily agreed and they then parted with a skip in their steps.

Ron just hoped that the restaurant would have a reservation open.

At six o’clock, Ron had become extremely nervous. He was already sitting down and he couldn’t sit still. His palms were sweating and he could feel that his ears were a bright red. He tried to pat down his hair to cover them up but due to his haircut the previous week it was too short.

He kept glancing around, looking for the familiar head of bushy hair until she appeared right in front of him. He flinched. “Woah, sorry I didn’t see you there, Hermione,” he said.

She laughed as she sat down. “Sorry for being late. I completely lost track of the time.”

Ron nodded but didn’t reply. He was too stunned at the beauty sitting across him. She hadn’t completely sleeked her curls so it was still bushy but it was definitely less bushy than what it usually was. She was wearing a touch of makeup that seemed to do something to her eyes and make them look even prettier than usual.

“You… you look beautiful, Hermione,” said Ron. He looked dumbfounded.

Hermione blushed prettily and looked down at her clasped hands in her lap. “Thank you, Ron. You look very handsome tonight, too.” Ron blushed a furious shade of red and tugged at his Muggle dress shirt collar nervously, mumbling a thank you.

The waiter then came up to them and offered them some white wine. They agreed and he returned with the wine and menus extraordinarily quickly. They thanked him and once he left, Hermione asked, “So what’s it like being an Auror? I was honestly thinking about it but there are just so many options! I can’t choose!”

Ron felt much more at ease, remembering a similar conversation when they were in their fifth year. He talked about his job and how it was sometimes very entertaining listening to some Death Eaters – who had clearly been guilty – trying to worm their way out of things. They listened to himself and Harry as they were the two thirds of the Golden Trio who saved the Wizarding World.

“Don’t you find it so odd that we actually saved the Wizarding World?” asked Hermione. “I still can’t believe it was us that did all those things. People ask me if I really did do that stuff and I have to pause and think, because did we do that? Did we actually break into Gringotts and ride a dragon to get a cup?” She laughed and Ron laughed with her.

“I feel like that too,” he admitted. “Who’d ever thought?” Hermione started laughing again and he grinned. They then began to reminisce about all the adventures that they’d been on and halfway through Ron retelling the story of finding out his twelve year old rat was Peter Pettigrew, they were interrupted by the waiter.

“Are we ready to order?” he asked pleasantly. They had agreed to order the broiled salmon with miso glaze for two. It looked very tasty and the Munching Mermen was famous for its fish recipes. The waiter scribbled it down on his parchment and then plucked the menus away before giving them a smile and walking away.

The two were silent for a bit before Ron said, “I’ve missed you so much, Hermione.”

She smiled sadly. “So have I. I’m so glad I’m here with you.” Ron blushed again and Hermione boldly reached over to hold his hands in hers. “Can we make an agreement to never go that long of not talking again? I don’t know how I survived without you, Ron.”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I didn’t realise how long it had been and then I felt it was too long to talk to you again – I thought you’d probably have moved on or something…”

“Moved on?” she echoed with a smile. “Ron, you send me insane but I don’t think I’ll ever move on from you. And I don’t want to.”

Ron positively beamed at those words and he said, “I feel the same.”

“At least we’re on the same page,” she said, her face flushed. They broke away as their meals arrived. During the meal Ron was mostly silent as he didn’t want to spray Hermione with food as he often did when they were at Hogwarts but Hermione chattered about her choices of careers. Her main choice was the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Ron swallowed his food and said, “That would be perfect for you, Hermione.” She flushed again but continued between her dilemma of picking between the MLE or the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

Ron smiled inwardly. Hermione would always still have a little of that S.P.E.W passion she had in fourth year. Although it was extremely annoying at the time, now he thought of it as endearing and funny.

They finished their meals and Ron chivalrously paid for them before walking out the door with their hands loosely clasped between them. The night was still warm but Hermione was feeling a bit chilly so Ron wrapped his coat around her dainty shoulders.

“Remember what your Great Aunt Muriel said about me?” Hermione laughed, remembering how nasty Muriel was.

Ron scowled. “Don’t ever believe a word of that old bat’s mouth. She’s family and all, but she’s not very nice family.”

She nudged Ron and said, “Don’t worry about what she said. I just can’t believe she would say that to someone’s face. Luckily it made me laugh, not cry in a ball.” She giggled again and Ron laughed, remembering the time he’d found Hermione curled in a corner, crying and screaming because a twelve foot troll was coming her way. He shared his thoughts with Hermione and she laughed.

“Even at the start of our friendship we were getting in trouble. We had no hope,” she teased with a small grin. Ron laughed and agreed with her. They then continued to walk in silence down the street but then Hermione broke the silence. “I would ask you to walk home with me but seeing as it’s extremely far away and inconvenient, I can just Disapparate home.”

“Oh, did you want to go home?” asked Ron, trying to mask his disappointment.

Hermione looked apologetic. “I’m so sorry. I have a job interview early tomorrow and I want to be prepared. Maybe next time we can stay out later.”

Ron smiled gently. “I’d like that,” he said softly. Hermione smiled and leant forward, her eyes fluttering shut. Ron also leant forward, capturing her lips with his.

This kiss was different. It wasn’t charged or stressful. They weren’t doing it with the weight of the fact that they might die in a few hours over their heads. Instead of shattering rocks, shouting, and curses bouncing all over the walls, they heard a distant bird flapping its wings and the slight chatter from the pubs inside.

However, the kiss was just as good as their last. When they broke away, they both took in a deep breath. “Until next time, Ronald,” said Hermione with a small smile.

“Until next time, Hermione,” echoed Ron with a cheeky grin. He gave her a quick, chaste kiss before she waved at him and Disapparated on the spot.

Ron Weasley went home with a very big smile that night.

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