Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 11 of 45

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Ron never remembered his dreams. Aside from the occasional childhood nightmare featuring an oversized spider chasing after him or a dream spent flying with the Cannons, he was never able to recall what he dreamed about when he closed his eyes at night. This dream had been vivid, however. He and the twins were flying over London on brand new Nimbus 3000s alongside Hagrid, who was flying on a giant Christmas tree. They were searching for a star to put on the top of the tree when a flash of lightning had erupted from the sky and struck Fred's broom.

It had been like watching it happen all over again - Fred's joke to Percy, the explosion and then his lifeless body lying there. Ron awoke in a cold sweat, quite confident that he'd been shouting and unsure of where he even was at first. He gripped his wand firmly in his hand and his first instinct was to check the fire and look for Harry and Hermione. It took him a moment, sitting upright in the bed to remember he was in his own bedroom back at the Burrow. The war was over. Nobody had fallen off a broom. They were safe.

As these facts sunk in, he was filled with the overwhelming urge to travel downstairs and sneak into Ginny's room to see Hermione. He felt like a prat for wanting to run to her. He tried to think of other things, like how her lips yesterday had tasted a bit like a strawberry pie, but without her beside him, his thoughts kept drifting to Fred and the moment he'd looked upon his brother after the smoke cleared and realised he was gone.

He recalled the way Harry and Percy had dragged his body and stuffed it in a corner, the same way someone would drag a heavy object out of the way. That's all that Fred was now, just an object. Something to be moved from the Great Hall to Filch's Office, loaded onto the Hogwarts Express then transferred back to the Burrow where it had only recently been taken away by Mr. Underhill. It would be back this weekend, the shell of a body that used to be his brother. He wondered what kind of coffin his parents had picked out. He wondered what clothes they had given the Undertaker to dress him in. Would it be something more sporting like one of his dragon skin suits or perhaps his Quidditch uniform? The thoughts plagued him and kept him awake. He couldn't remember what Fred had even been wearing last. For some reason, that thought bothered him immensely.

He reached into a crate beneath his bed to find something to distract himself. He leafed absentmindedly through an old Cannons program reading names and statistics he had long ago memorised to avoid thinking about what his brother had last been wearing. He pulled out six years of Hogwarts supply lists, the program from the Quidditch World Cup, and issues of Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle before grabbing the homework planner Hermione had given him fifth year. He leafed through the pages he'd never bothered to scrawl anything in and smiled as he saw test dates and homework assignments she'd obviously penned in herself for him.

Thoughts and memories of life at Hogwarts began flooding his mind and finally he was able to drift off to sleep, but he awoke on day three in a world without Fred much the same as he had day two. As soon as he opened his eyes, the absence of his brother was all he could think about. Pig greeted him outside the window with a mouse and a few loud taps on the window. Ron was in no mood to have the tiny owl flapping about his head though and he just gave a perfunctory nod to the bird and waved him away.

He wondered what the day would hold. He doubted there was anything left in the house to be scrubbed, cleaned, or repaired, but with the funeral quickly approaching he knew his mum would likely find something for them all to do. All he wanted to do was continue where he and Hermione had left off in his room last night.

He was surprised his mum had allowed them to escape up the stairs together last night. When they returned, the whole family seemed to know exactly what they had been up to in his bedroom. Most had looked more amused than anything else, even his father looked to repress a grin. He had expected his mum to yell, but she'd just informed him rather shortly that it was too late and she'd put the cake away. Then she'd calmly said good night.

All in all, Ron thought it a drastic improvement to the way lunch had gone. Still, he hoped his parents weren't the only ones awake. He didn't think he could handle a one-on-one interrogation. Fortunately, Percy, ever the early riser, was already awake and dressed smartly for the day. He appeared to have made a full breakfast of toast, sausages and beans that his mum and dad were enjoying. The only other people awake, Ron was pleased to see, were Harry and Hermione. He sensed it would truly be a long time before any of them were able to sleep in after the past year of standing watch, checking the fire, and constantly changing locations. Harry, still clad in his pyjamas, was in the sitting room leafing through one of the photo albums Ron had brought downstairs yesterday at his mum's request. Hermione had taken an old book off the large bookshelf beside the fireplace and was seated cross-legged on the sofa with it open in her lap. She was still in her pyjamas as well and Ron wondered how long she had been up. She appeared to have already made significant progress in the massive book.

"Morning," Ron offered a greeting to the entire room. The effort at congeniality seemed an obvious attempt to smooth things over after last night.

"Morning, Ron. Sleep all right?" There was a look of concern on his father's face as he asked the question. "Your mother and I thought we heard you shouting." Ron saw Hermione glance up at him worriedly at the words and he quickly avoided her gaze. He forgot that his parents' bedroom was directly below his and they had probably heard him awake last night.

"Yeah, I uh – just a bad dream is all," he stuttered.

"You've never shouted like that in your sleep before." His mother frowned. "Everything all right?"

"I'm fine. Just uh…just, you know, Voldemort stuff," he shrugged dismissively. He wasn't looking at her, but he could feel Hermione's eyes on him, well aware that of everyone in the room she was the one who could see through his lies. He walked into the kitchen before she could comment, grabbed a sausage for himself, and sat down across from his parents.

He knew last night had settled things about Australia. He appreciated his parents' acceptance of the fact that he was of age and could make his own decisions. Now he wanted to take a bit of responsibility for those decisions. "Dad, I uh – I wanted to talk to you about the Portkeys," he offered quietly, trying his best to be non-confrontational. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Well, I'm headed into work today to get the one to France finalised." His dad smiled, seeming to sense Ron's attempt at civility. "That one was mostly Percy's doing, you'll have to thank him." Percy beamed at the acknowledgement over his newspaper and Ron just nodded his head appreciatively in his brother's direction. "I think the next one should take you through either Greece or Bulgaria and then - "

"I don't want to go through Bulgaria," Ron interrupted. He heard Hermione sigh loudly from the sitting room.

"What on earth is wrong with Bulgaria?" His mother frowned.

"I just don't want to go there."

"It's a big country, Ron," Hermione called out in exasperation from the sitting room. He heard Harry snicker from behind the photo albums.

"What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing," Ron dismissed sharply. "We just better not run into any ruddy Krum fans," he muttered under his breath.

"Good, because that's probably your best bet. You'll probably have four or five more after that."

"Four or five more? All that just to get to Australia!" Ron could hardly believe so many transfers would be needed. He was starting to think Hermione's flying aeroplane sounded better. "Can't we just go by Floo Powder or something?"

"Floo Powder only works in country. There's no international Floo Network," Percy stated. "It's not really as bad as it sounds. Even with adequate time to find each Portkey it likely won't take you more than an hour or two to get to Australia."

"We're going to have to find each Portkey?" Ron asked incredulously. He'd had enough of searching for magical objects for a lifetime.

"It won't be too difficult. Just need to pay attention to the directions when you get them." Ron couldn't help but notice his dad looked across the room to Hermione as he said the words. "You've got plenty of time before you leave. I wouldn't go worrying about anything yet."

Ron chewed on his toast thoughtfully. Would they have time to explore any part of the countries they stopped in? Yesterday when his mother had accused him of wanting to go cavorting off with Hermione, as she'd phrased it, he had laughed it off. But talk of traveling to France and Greece and who knows whatever countries had him excited about the trip in a way he hadn't been before. Suddenly he wanted to plan and he wanted to pack and he wanted to prepare for their now very real trip around the world together.

"Dad, did you hear anything more about the Malfoy trial?" Percy suddenly asked from where he'd wandered into the kitchen to refill his tea. Ron's eyes flashed to Harry and Hermione at the words.

"No, but there's an article here in the paper that says they're due in to the Wizengamot this afternoon. I'll be curious what old Lucius has to say for himself. Rumor has it he turned his estate into a meeting house for Death Eaters," his dad scowled. "Even housed prisoners in his wine cellar."

Ron nearly choked on the piece of sausage in his mouth. Harry glanced back and forth between him and Hermione, likely wondering whether now was the time to say something to his parents or not, but Ron's eyes were fixed only on Hermione. Her own eyes were, in turn, locked intently on his. Without saying a word, he knew she was imploring him not to say anything. All it would take was one small revelation that they had been brought to the Malfoys and Hermione's torture would eventually come to light, and for reasons Ron couldn't explain, he knew that was something she still didn't want revealed. They hadn't talked at all about their activities over the past year and, fortunately, nobody had yet asked about them. Ron knew it couldn't last forever though. He knew it was only a matter of time before curiosity got the better of everybody. He was surprised the press hadn't already come pounding down the door.

"They'll get whatever's coming to them," Ron spoke out sharply, his eyes still not leaving Hermione or the pink scar on her neck.

"Yes, I can't imagine Lucius will find a way to get out of this. They'll be a cell in Azkaban for him, I have no doubt."

Neither parent seemed to realise the trio's relative silence and Percy thankfully changed the conversation topic yet again to another ongoing investigation at the Ministry. Ron sensed that there was quite a shake-up going on with Kingsley now in charge. Cells in Azkaban were quickly being emptied of those wrongfully imprisoned and filling up with collaborators. He'd been especially happy to hear from Percy that Dolores Umbridge had been carted off to Azkaban yesterday. His father meanwhile had been unofficially placed in charge of the entire Improper Use of Magic office alongside Mafalda Hopkirk. Together, the two of them were tackling a host of offenses that were quite a jump from his dad's previous work with cursed Sneakoscopes and phony Pixie repellant. Part of Ron wanted to assist his dad and the Ministry in bringing in Death Eaters, Snatchers, and all their collaborators. He knew Harry felt the same. Three days of doing nothing felt like a lifetime after the past year. Ron felt like he needed to be doing something to help.

One glance at Hermione sitting cross-legged on the sofa, getting engrossed as she returned to the book in her lap, quickly caused such feelings to dissipate however. Unable to help himself, he finished his toast and walked over to join her on the sofa. He knew his parents' eyes were following him.

"What are you reading?" he inquired innocently and plopped down beside her. Hermione smiled at the harmless inquiry and flipped the cover of the book over so Ron could read the title. "The Code of Secrecy and the Foundations of Magical Government. Sounds like a real page turner," he smirked, scooting closer to her so he could read about the first Minister of Magic to actively protect Muggles. He knew Hermione was well aware he had no interest in the book and only wanted to be closer to her, but she had no objections. Ron thought he even saw the makings of a secret smile form on her face.

"You might actually like it. It reads much easier than anything Professor Binns ever assigned." She turned her head to inform him. She was so close to him he could practically feel her breath on his cheek.

"Unless there's Quidditch in it - "

"Quidditch does play a huge part in the history of the Ministry, I'll have you know!" Hermione seemed all too happy to inform Ron.

"Let me see that." Ron seized the book from her playfully. "You know, I think you're the first person in the family to ever take this off the shelf," he teased, noting the book's dusty cover. Harry lifted up his eyes briefly and smiled across the room at the cozy pair and their teasing banter. Even his parents could hardly object to the innocent flirtation. Ron didn't touch her, he didn't kiss her, he didn't do anything that might cause his mother to object. He was just happy to have her there beside him and be able to call her his.

She was his now, of that he could confidently say. Any uncertainty he might have had previously melted away with yesterday's events. He trained his eyes on her as she read, recalling how confidently she'd initiated last night's kisses and tackled him back down onto the bed. Then there was the way she'd tilted her head back, actually inviting him to work at her neck. He looked intently at the place right below her ear where he'd busied himself for a time. It was a strange sort of feeling to look at her and recall those memories right here in front of Harry and his parents.

They sparked all other sorts of thoughts in his head. Sometimes, on the rare occasion he looked past what would be for lunch that day or what they'd do that afternoon, he looked at Hermione and thought about the future with her. Not just their trip to Australia or the next year, but an actual life. He knew it was ridiculous of him to think that way after barely three days, but there was no part of his future right now that didn't include her. He couldn't stop thinking that way if he wanted.

Maybe they'd get a flat together after she finished at Hogwarts. Maybe they'd both get jobs at the Ministry. Maybe they'd have breakfast and read the Prophet together every morning like his mum and dad were doing right now.

The rest of the family slowly trickled downstairs as the morning wore on. Charlie smirked at Ron's spot on the sofa next to Hermione, and Ginny simply rolled her eyes, though Ron could see she had difficulty suppressing a grin. Charlie suggested a family game of Quidditch once everyone had washed and eaten breakfast, but Ron still felt sick at the thought of Quidditch. He knew George probably wouldn't partake. George probably wouldn't even come downstairs at all today unless somebody dragged him out and the thought of a game without either of the twins here at the Burrow felt wrong somehow. His sister didn't seem to have any hesitations about flying sans Fred and George however and she raced upstairs to get dressed. At Fleur's urging, Bill joined them too and even his dad had promised to climb on a broom and have a go. That sight alone would usually be enough to cause Ron to join, but for the first time in his life he passed up Quidditch to read a book.

Hermione's feet were tucked beneath her and her body was angled slightly toward him. He leaned into her and looked over her shoulder, the smell of her hair and her neck and her skin flooding his nostrils. He wondered if he would have done better in History of Magic if this is how he had studied. He wasn't reading every page, but from what he could glance, it did seem more interesting than anything Professor Binns had ever assigned them to read, though he'd never admit it to Hermione.

"I knew all this already, of course," Ron boasted as he glanced through a page describing a Quidditch match between Puddlemere and Portree.

"You knew that in 1362 the Wizard's Council made a decree about playing Quidditch within 100 kilometers of a Muggle establishment?" she looked to him skeptically.

"Of course, it's covered in Quidditch Through the Ages," he shrugged nonchalantly.

"Ron Weasley, are you telling me you read a book for fun?" Hermione closed the book and craned her head to look up at him.

"Maybe once or twice."

"Did you check it out from the library?"

"I can find it without you, you know." He laughed and his mouth found hers suddenly.

"Ron, not here!" She looked around the sitting room nervously.

"What? They're all up at the orchard."

"Percy's still upstairs having a shower, George is in his room, and your mum's just out in the garden!"

"Let's go up to my room then," he proposed, moving in to kiss her again.

"I think we should go out to the orchard with the rest of your family."

"I don't feel like playing Quidditch," he dismissed.

"But your family – don't you want - "

"I just want to be with you," he stated simply and he could see she had a hard time arguing with the simple confession. The thought of being alone with her again was genuinely the only thing that got Ron through each moment. "Or are you telling me you'd honestly rather read a book?"

"It's just that - "

"Now's the best time we have to be alone." He took her hand and stood up from the sofa. "The Code of Secrecy will still be here, I promise."

She was reluctant to get up from the sofa, but the look on her face told him she was having difficulty resisting the thought of continuing what they'd started yesterdayLast night was the first time there had been no giggling. They hadn't broken apart at any time to laugh at where his hand was or how he kissed her neck. Gone was much of her earlier uncertainty. Last night had just been about tasting each other and feeling each other and escaping from the new normal downstairs that Ron detested, the new normal of the Weasley family minus one.

Her hesitancy continued as she climbed the five flights of stairs with him though. He tried to ignore the shameful look on her face as they reached the door and quickly sealed it off with the usual myriad of charms.

"We're not doing anything wrong," he offered honestly and led her over to his bed. It was the truth. Despite whatever his parents and the rest of the house might think when they disappeared behind his bedroom, they kept all their clothes on. They were just kissing, exploring and reveling in the moments they had denied each other for so many years.

Crookshanks appeared from beneath Ron's bed at his words. The cat had, for some reason, taken to Ron's room more than Ron cared. Ginny had informed him it had been that way all year, even with the ghoul there. He gave a loud caterwauling meow and glared up at Ron. Ron got the feeling that the cat did not particularly care for Hermione's new interest in him. She scooped up Crookshanks, who continued to eye Ron and sat down on the bed.

"I just don't want to make your mum angry," she explained as she clutched the great ball of ginger fur.

"She's always angry at me. If it's not this, it'll be something else, I promise."

"But I don't like that we missed pudding last night and that everyone's down at the orchard right now and we're up here- "

"Everyone's not at the orchard, remember? George is here. Percy is here. Mum is here."

"Most of your family is at the orchard," she corrected.

"I just don't want to be at the orchard."

"Don't you think it'd be fun to play Quidditch with your family?"

"No," Ron stated plainly. "I can think of about a million things more fun than playing Quidditch with my family right now."

"I think you're being a bit - "

"I don't want to play fucking Quidditch, Hermione!" He raised his voice slightly. "But if you want to go then go. Take your bloody cat with you!" He regretted the rude comment as soon as he said it, but where she would usually retaliate with words or tiny fists pounding him for his insensitivity and rude language, she just looked at him sadly. She wore a familiar look of disappointment on her face that he hated seeing, but he had difficulty taking the words back. "I just don't get what's wrong with you being here," he admitted.

"It just feels wrong," Hermione admitted, placing Crookshanks back down on the floor. Ron's head shot up at the words. "Not the being with you part," she quickly assured. "Just the part where we're in your parents' house with your mum right out the window and I know she doesn't want me up here in the first place."

"Well, why did you even come up then?"

"You know why," she replied shyly. Her embarrassment somehow only made Ron want her more.

"I'm eighteen years old, Hermione. My mum was practically pregnant with Bill when she was your age." His attempted words of comfort had the opposite effect and she seemed to grow more uncomfortable. Ron detected it was probably because of his moronic mention of pregnancy. "She's a bloody hypocrite if she won't let you come up for a snog."

"I'm just a guest in their house and – and it does not feel right to - "

Ron silenced her with a kiss before she could offer any further protest or argue about propriety. His mouth moved slowly against hers, a gentle, lingering touch of the lips that invited her to respond. He smiled against her as her arms instinctively wrapped around him in that wonderfully possessive way. This is why she'd come upstairs with him. He loved the fact that she couldn't fight it.

She fell back onto the mattress, pulling him down on top of her, but he propped himself up on all fours, his body hovering over hers for a moment. She'd be able to feel things if he were to lay on top of her like this. And while he wasn't the same fourteen year old boy who had to walk the corridors with his History of Magic textbook in front of his trousers, he was quite sure what they were about to start doing would make such things hard to hide.

The only time their bodies had ever touched like that before had been after tumbling down the chute into the Chamber of Secrets. He'd jumped down first and had fallen on his back onto a pile of rat skeletons. She had followed after and fallen face first directly on top of him. They had looked to each other then, their bodies mashed together and their faces mere inches apart. For a moment Ron had forgotten completely about the battle raging around them. He had thought that was the moment, but she had seemed to remember their purpose and had gotten to her feet quickly, announcing they had a Horcrux to destroy. He wondered if Hermione was recalling the same memory now as she looked up at him.

Her eyes looked quite similar to that moment down in the Chamber, the only difference being that this time they didn't have to march off to destroy a Horcrux. She blinked slowly and turned the corners of her mouth up. The small smile was all the encouragement he needed as he finally relaxed and lowered his weight onto her. He could both feel and hear the breath go out of her and she shifted beneath him, in an effort to get comfortable and adjust to the intimacy of the new position.

"Is this all right?" he couldn't stop himself from asking hesitantly.

"Better than all right," she echoed his words from yesterday and captured his lips with hers.

After three days, the feeling was miraculously enough becoming so normal he'd finally stopped counting. He'd lost track somewhere around forty yesterday. Still, each time he kissed her it felt a little like that first time she'd flung her arms around him and sent basilisk fangs cascading everywhere. His brain went fuzzy and she literally became the only thing in the world that mattered. Good boyfriends probably told their girlfriends things like that, but Ron wasn't sure how to say that without sounding like a complete twat. Besides, now it wasn't just a fuzziness in his brain. He could no longer think clearly when he was with her, or even think at all.

The fuzzier his brain got every time they kissed, the more other parts took stronger hold over him. Parts of him that he knew were likely to become quite obvious in their current position. The past two days had been brilliant and he wanted to touch and taste so much more of her. So far, all he really did with his hands when they embraced was tangle them up in her hair or run them up and down her back and she certainly seemed to enjoy every kiss and caress. Still, he could just see himself fucking up by trying to grab her bum or have a feel only to be confined to weeks of hand-holding and pecks on the cheek.

With Hermione it had always seemed to be one step forward and two steps back. Every time he thought he had managed to impress her back at Hogwarts by doing something clever or actually turning his homework in on time, he'd follow it up by something ridiculously stupid. Not just blowing up a cauldron or dripping ice cream down the front of his shirt stupid either. He'd fly into a jealous rage at the mere reference of Krum or inadvertently insult her by bringing up the time she turned into a cat.

He heard her inhale sharply through her nose and felt her clutch his shirt as his lips slid wetly down her throat, kissing softly where her neck met her collarbone. He opened his eyes briefly to scan down her body and glance at the tiny valley between her breasts he could just detect. Was it worth risking a reprimand and a week of hand-holding? Hermione had been bossing him and Harry around since they were eleven. He knew she had no problem telling him off when he screwed up. Surely, she'd give him a thorough dressing-down if he somehow made her feel uncomfortable.

He grinned against her as he recalled just how insufferable he'd once thought she'd been. How life had changed. She twisted the fabric of his shirt, a soft sound he thought might be a moan sounding in her throat as his hands slid around her rib cage and his thumb just barely brushed the bottom curve of her breast. Hermione had just moaned. A good moan too, not a 'what a stupid idea' moan or an 'I'm exhausted' moan. A soft tiny moan that indicated he'd done something good. Something so good she'd had no control over the sounds coming out of her mouth.

Without even thinking, his hands made to duplicate the action that had elicited such a response. His long fingers stretched out boldly, climbing up the tiny swell of her breast until his whole hand was cupping her. For a moment it just rested there and Ron forgot that he'd actually done this with a girl before. It didn't matter anyway. That girl hadn't been Hermione. He buried his face in her neck and gently gave a squeeze.

He could feel nothing beneath but the soft padding of her bra, but that didn't matter. Her breast was beneath the padding. She was letting him touch her breasts. With not even the slightest of hesitations, her right hand moved across her body then and rested on top of his. She wasn't just letting him do it. She wanted him to do it.

Ron hoped perhaps his heart pounding against her chest would take attention off other parts of him he could feel stirring. He could tell she didn't know quite what to do. If she was feeling at all like he was, her hand atop his was probably all the assurance she could manage right now. Ron didn't trust himself to say anything so he just squeezed again, gently kneading the soft flesh and the fabric and hoping it was okay. Neither said anything for the rest of the morning. They just kissed and grabbed and rubbed and squeezed. That was how they spoke to each other. Aside from Crookshanks' glaring yellow eyes, they remained entirely undisturbed.

Ginny eventually came by upon returning from the orchard to deliver a message through the door that their mum was looking for them. Ron knew 'looking for' meant she knew exactly where they were and what they were doing. The mention of his mum caused Hermione to break away momentarily, but a carefully placed kiss quickly drew her back to him. It was only when his hips began to grind uncontrollably against her, with his lips pressed to her neck and his hands about to slide beneath her shirt, that she finally withdrew from their liplock.

Ron stammered over an apology, somehow unable to get the words out as he cursed himself for getting carried away. "I wasn't trying to – I just – I didn't mean - "

"Yes, you did," she managed a laugh as she wiggled out from beneath him. There was nothing accusatory in her tone though and Ron just looked to her curiously. This new Hermione was so straightforward at times it caught him off guard.

"Well, I did, yeah," he admitted. "But it's not – I don't want you to think - " Ron wasn't even sure what he was yammering on about. He wasn't exactly sorry about the way he'd started moving against her, but he definitely didn't want to make her uncomfortable.

"It's all right," Hermione sat upright then and ran a hand through her wild looking hair. The flushed colour Ron could detect in her cheeks gave him the inkling that it wasn't that she hadn't liked it. More likely was the fact that she had liked it quite a lot. More perhaps than she was ready to at the moment. He understood and gave a smile, feeling more content than he could remember in quite some time. "Let's just talk a bit." She ran her hands through her hair again.

"Talk?" Ron propped himself up on his elbows with a crooked grin, highly amused at the suggestion. They hadn't done much talking at all since sealing his bedroom door. "Okay. What do you want to talk about?"

"Quidditch," she blurted out suddenly. "I want to talk about Quidditch."

"Quidditch?" He looked skeptical and rolled onto his side to face her. "But you hate Quidditch."

"I don't hate Quidditch, I just don't…I don't quite get it."

"You mean to tell me you made it through six years at Hogwarts without knowing the rules?" Ron looked to her incredulously.

"No, I mean, I know the rules obviously. I just don't quite get the…obsession. Like Chudley," she motioned to his Cannons quilt, pillowcase and poster. "Tell me why you love Chudley." She was quite serious, but he just exploded into laughter at the request.

"I dunno, I just do!"

"But why?"

"Just because!" he sputtered.

"There must be a reason."

"I feel like I'm being brought before the Wizengamot," he laughed. "I dunno, I just always have. 'Cause it's close by I suppose. Y'know, here in Devon. Dad took me to a match once when I was little."

"None of your brothers like them though, do they?"

"No, Percy doesn't care much for Quidditch. Bill was never as into it as Charlie. Charlie always liked the Wasps for some reason. Fred and George…" His voice drifted off abruptly. For a moment he almost lost himself in thoughts of his brother and his Quidditch associations, but his eyes returned to Hermione and he brought himself back. "They always liked Puddlemere."

"So how did you end up loving the Cannons so much?" she continued to question.

"I dunno," Ron shrugged. "I just do. Why do you care so much?"

"Well because." She shifted on the bed and turned her head so she could look at him. Their heads were so close together he could practically count her eyelashes. "Because I want to love them too." She offered an honest smile and Ron's heart fluttered nervously in his chest. He knew it was her way of conveying more than simply a newfound interest in Quidditch. Unsure how to react or what to say in response to the confession, he simply leaned down over the edge of his bed and began rummaging through a box containing an assortment of programs, sticker books and assorted clothing – all of which were violently orange and adorned with the trademark black double C of Chudley.

"Here." He finally pulled out an orange wool hat and plopped it atop her head. "You can have that." He knew Hermione recognised the hat. He had practically lived in it in the cold winter months their first few years at Hogwarts. Even though Ron had worn it when he was thirteen it was still big on Hermione's head. She laughed and folded back the hat so she could look at him from beneath it. He knew his old Cannons hat was hardly a fancy piece of jewelry, but the significance of his giving it to her seemed to register with both of them. "They're bloody awful though," he spoke quickly to alleviate the odd tension that suddenly filled the air between them. "Prepare yourself for a world of disappointment."

"Well, it'll just make it that much more special when they finally win the Championship, won't it?" she grinned.

"Talking like a true Cannons fan already," he laughed and they collapsed back against the bed. This was all they ever did, just laugh and talk and kiss, but it was truly the only thing he wanted to do. It wasn't just the snogging. His room was the only place he wanted to be and Hermione the only one he wanted to talk to.

Sure, he enjoyed being with Harry and Ginny and meals with his family were pleasant enough, but there was always something that was amiss. An owl would fly through the kitchen window with a condolence card or someone would mention Fred and immediately go silent. Up here he could mention Fred's name and tell a story and they didn't have to linger on the fact that he was gone or talk about how much they missed him. They didn't have to prop his broom up in a special place where everyone could see. Up here it was just him and Hermione.

Sometimes he sensed she was annoyed at his increasingly isolationist tendencies though. Already today she had suggested four other things to do outside of his room, to include eating biscuits downstairs, taking a walk through the orchard, having lunch with Harry and Ginny, and hopping on his Cleansweep for a quick fly.

"Wouldn't it be fun?" She asked as they lay back on the bed side-by-side and stared at the ceiling. She was stuck on the idea of going for a fly.

"Yes, but, I know a way I can have more fun." He eyed her suggestively, but she just rolled her eyes and ignored the comment.

"I'll even let you try that Wonky Feint thing if we go," she proposed.

"Oh, you would not let me. You would scream so loud."

"I would not."

"You know you would." He saw an involuntary shudder run through her as his breath was heavy against her skin.

"I think we should go."

"Don't think so much," he dismissed again. This time he dropped a kiss in the crook of her neck and swiftly moved his body on top of hers, no longer hesitant like before.

"Ron!" Thanks to the Muffliato charm they'd cast she could raise her voice without worrying about alerting anyone else in the house.

"What?" He looked grumpy and rolled off her.

"I want to go downstairs." There was a firmness to her voice that indicated any flirtatious suggestion she might want to do anything else would do nothing to change her mind. In fact, he could tell by the sharp downward slope in her eyebrows that it would likely only irritate her. She stood up from the bed and, as she always did, smoothed out her clothes, like she was wiping away evidence of what they'd just been doing.

"Fine," he pouted. "Go then."

"You don't want to come?"

"No," he stated flatly and stretched out on the bed.

"You should come downstairs."

"I don't want to," he stated plainly.

"I know you don't, but I'd like you to join me." Her voice softened as she sat down on the bed at his feet. He was staring at the ceiling, eyeing a knot in the wood that looked too much like a spider for his liking. "Look at me."

"Why?" he asked after a long pause.

"Because I asked you to," she said calmly and she looked surprised when those simple words caused him to turn his eyes to her compliantly. "I know what this is about."

" 'Cause you know everything, Hermione," he grumbled.

"I didn't say - "

"It can't just be I want to stay up and snog my girlfriend!" he spat and his reference to her as his girlfriend, even in such a nasty manner, surprised them both as it was the first time either had used the term.

"We can't stay up here all day, Ron," she actually managed a laugh when she saw him raise his eyebrows at the suggestion. His eyes softened and the angry lines on his face slowly disappear. "As delightful as that sounds."

"Everyone else is up in their rooms."

"Not like this." She glanced at the clock beside his bed, indicating just how many hours had passed since they'd left the sofa and the Code of Secrecy. "I saw what happened last night at dinner…when your mum asked you to lay the table and you - "

"That was an accident," Ron interrupted, the irritation evident in his voice.

"You did it at lunch too and when you - "

"It's only natural, Hermione! That's how I laid the table for eighteen years."

"Okay," she nodded her head in agreement. "But how come you didn't take his plate away?"

"Please, stop," he sat up abruptly so he was now at eye level with her and not lying on the bed. "It was a mistake, an honest mistake."

"What about last night? Your parents said you were shouting in your sleep."

"Can't you just come back?" Ron touched her shoulder, inviting her to join him back down on the bed that had become his new favourite place. Hermione swallowed loudly, but remained seated. She turned her head to him slowly and Ron was surprised to see her eyes suddenly wet with tears.

"I'm so sorry he died." She tried her best to make her words slow and strong, but her voice broke. It was the first time either of them had truly acknowledged what had happened to his brother. It was the first time anyone had ever really said the words so bluntly to him. He guessed her use of such a frank word like "died" wasn't accidental. He could see it had required serious effort on her part just to say the word. He knew she was only trying to help him, but he didn't want to hear it.

"Well, I'm glad you're sorry." He flopped back down onto the bed wearily.

"I want to help you - "

"I don't need help, Hermione." His tone again got increasingly hostile and he could tell by the look on her face that she didn't believe him for a second.

"Tell me what I can do for you," she offered plainly.

"You can stop talking about it!" he thundered. "Christ, Hermione, that's the effing reason I like staying up here in the first place. 'Because you DIDN'T ask me about it!"

"I didn't ask, Ron. I just said that I'm sorry he died."

"Stop saying it." His voice suddenly sounded small and defeated and not nearly as hostile. "Please, just…just stop. Just stay up here a while longer with me. Please." He reached for her.

"I don't think I should," she whispered softly, sounding as if the words were almost painful to say. "I need to talk to your dad about the third Portkey and I really should help your mum with dinner - "

"Please just stay," he pleaded. "You asked what you could do to help…it helps." His tone was deadly serious as he looked to her earnestly. "And I'm not just being randy, I swear," he managed a laugh.

"Well, you need to at least eat something," she reasoned, likely knowing food was usually the easiest way to get him to do anything. He tugged her arm, as if to tell her there was something he now enjoyed more than food. She let him pull her down so she toppled down on him. "Five more minutes," she warned, allowing his arms to snake around her.

"Ten," he argued.


"Nine," he countered.

"Seven," she maintained, looking to the clock face beside his bed, as if to emphasize that she was going to hold him to the deadline. "Seven minutes." He looked thoroughly pleased at himself for talking her up from five minutes. "And then we'll fix lunch and help your mum with the chairs and maybe we can take a turn around the garden." He knew she had thrown in that bit about setting up chairs for the funeral between two things he actually wanted to do on purpose.

She was tricky and she knew exactly what she was doing. He hadn't been right to yell at her. He knew that. He did need to go downstairs and eat and see his family. But he didn't want to argue about who should give the eulogy and what pictures they should display and whether they should prepare Fred's favorite pie for after the service, which is what happened every time he went downstairs. For ten minutes longer he at least could live in this world where his brother wasn't dead. For ten minutes he could remain in a world where Hermione was all that mattered.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 11 of 45

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