Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 32 of 45

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He hated feeling useless. She guided them about the city. She had the list of the two-hundred thirty-six dental practices. She inquired after the Wilkins. She didn't even let him hold the map. Ron could do little but hold her hand and give her a squeeze after each and every secretary replied that there was nobody by the name of Wendell and Monica Wilkins at their practice. The disappointment obviously weighed on her, but by the tenth rejection, she no longer seemed fazed by it.

"Excuse me, is there a Dr. Wilkins at this practice?" she would ask ever so politely at each desk, window, or cubicle. And each time the reply was 'no', she would turn sharply on her heel and exit, Ron trailing behind her.

She was so methodical as she checked off practice after practice. While she still held tightly onto his hand, she refused to be distracted at all by his kisses on the cheek or any attempt at flirting. They'd barely stopped for lunch, not even when he could hear both their stomachs grumbling. When they did finally take a momentary break, their brief lunch reminded him very much of their soup in the Dijon brasserie. She was removed like she had been then, thinking about her parents and undistracted by his attempt at conversation. He wasn't sure what to say. His blanket assurances that they would find them after each rejection didn't seem to help and he could offer little assistance in navigating the city or locating the next practice.

The Australian Ministry's list of approved Apparition points limited their travel so they couldn't simply Apparate from point A to point B. They had to do a bit of walking all over the city, which Ron was quite sick of after the past year. His feet ached and he wondered how Hermione was still able to march up the steps to each office with so much energy. He wanted nothing more than to sit and break. He suggested a return to The River so he could buy her dinner, but she maintained as frantic a pace as they could in the daylight hours. Ron half expected her to keep working into the night.

The familiarity he felt that morning along the river, where he'd been too busy stealing kisses from Hermione to worry about the people around them, had long faded. Anybody that looked at them longer than necessary, passed too closely, or had their hand in his pocket drew his attention. He could see his suspicion wearing on Hermione. She sighed loudly and dragged him along each time his feet slowed and his hand tightened around hers.

He was thoroughly exhausted by the time they returned to the South Bank Hotel. He desperately missed the carefree fun of the morning. He disliked how far away Hermione seemed to have gotten from him in just eight hours. She had said little all day aside from barking directions about where to go. It was like a completely different Hermione from the one who had left the hotel that morning.

"You two!" The receptionist shouted as they passed by the front desk. "Mr…erm - Weasley!" Ron halted suddenly as he realized she was talking to him. "Ms. Granger, excuse me!"

Ron and Hermione shuffled backward and looked to the receptionist in confusion. Ron remembered how unimpressed she had been with them yesterday and what she assumed they were doing in the hotel. He could see she still looked unimpressed.

"Your room has been upgraded," she informed curtly as she reached down and handed them a new plastic key.


"Yes, to the Executive Suite."

"Executive Suite?" Ron was so confused that he could do little more than repeat her words. He glanced to Hermione and was comforted to see even she looked puzzled.

"But we can't afford the Executive Suite," she mumbled in embarrassment.

"Yes, well, you're no longer paying for the hotel," the receptionist informed shortly.

"Who's paying for the hotel then?"

"That would be the British government." She eyed Ron and Hermione standing there in their jeans and trainers, likely finding it hard to believe they could be that important. "We took the liberty of moving you already so if you'll just return your old key..."

"You moved us out already?" Ron frowned. That meant the hotel staff had gone poking around amongst their belongings.

"Ron, it's all right," Hermione whispered and patted the beaded bag that was resting on her hip. He understood the assurance - Hermione had packed everything up. There had been nothing to move aside from dirty underpants and socks. Perhaps that was why the desk clerk looked so unimpressed.

"And you've received a parcel," she added, reaching below the counter to hand Ron a small brown package.

Ron was not accustomed to Muggle post, but he could indeed see a Whitehall address on the box.

"Let's open it up in the room." Hermione stayed Ron's hand as he made to tear open the package. Ron agreed and they allowed themselves to be led up to their new room, which was on the very top floor, twenty-three up from their previous one. He could tell they were in a special section of the hotel because there weren't nearly as many doors in the corridor where their room was and they had to put their key into another door just to access that corridor.

The hotel employee, unlike the receptionist who seemed so disdainful toward the notion of two teenagers having access to such a room, appeared thoroughly amused when he opened the door for them and they took in the extravagant room.

It wasn't a room. It was like an entire house. Ron muttered every swear word he knew as he looked around the expansive room and Hermione didn't even bother correcting his language. It was a far cry from tiny room 514. It was like taking each floor of the Burrow and laying it all out on the very top floor of the hotel.

"If you need anything, please just let the front desk know," the young man who had led them up grinned. "My name is Vic."

Hermione and Ron both looked to each other and tried to suppress smiles at the name. They thanked him profusely and waited until the door was shut before tearing open the brown parcel. As expected, it was not really from the British government, but from the Ministry, Kingsley to be specific. Their message to him that morning had arrived.

Ron and Hermione,

Please accept this room upgrade on behalf of the Ministry. I again offer my sincerest apology for the mishap with the Paris Portkey and any confusion or fright it may have caused you. I have spoken with the High Ministry in Australia and, unfortunately, there is little they can do to help locate Muggles. I'm sorry to say this means you are on your own. To assist you in your search please take the following and do not hesitate to use it whenever necessary. Good luck and continue to take the proper precautions.


Kingsley Shacklebolt

Minister of Magic

Ron's ears perked up at the mention of a tool to help them locate Hermione's parents, but he was disappointed to turn the brown package upside down only to see a piece of plastic that looked just like their room key fall out.

"What is it?" Ron frowned, but Hermione looked impressed.

"It's a credit card." She held the piece of plastic up. Ron peered over to look at it. Both their names were written on the card along with a series of numbers that looked to have no pattern.

"Is it magic?"

"Sort of." She held the card aloft like it was a wand.

"What's it do? You talked about them in Dijon when we were getting the train tickets," Ron recalled.

"You buy things with it," Hermione informed. "Kingsley must have set up a Ministry card for us. This is incredible."

"So you buy things with that piece of plastic?" Ron seized the card and looked to it, thoroughly puzzled. "I don't get it."

"Yes. Instead of paying cash you charge things on the card. Kingsley's letting the Ministry pay for everything. He must know it's going to take a while." Her voice grew soft at the realization.

"Or -" Ron stepped up behind her and moved his hands so they rested low on her hips. "He knew it was unfair to make you pay for a hotel and he reckoned we deserved it." He dropped a hopeful and inviting kiss on her neck. He missed the physical closeness of the morning. He didn't know whether it was more distraction or disappointment that had pulled her away, but he knew twenty-six dental practices that had never heard of Monica or Wendell Wilkins must be disheartening. "Look at this place!" He swivelled her hips and took a step forward, forcing her to look around the room.

"It is quite posh," she admitted.

"It's more than posh." Ron continued to walk her around the room, pushing her forward like a kind of puppet. "Look, we have a sofa and two chairs and television way bigger than the last one." He walked her into the sitting room. "And we have our own balcony." He nudged her out the French doors onto the patio where they had a panorama view of the city at sunset. Nuzzling her neck through the waves of her hair, he continued, "And we can eat dinner out here and look at the lights...and we have our own kitchen..." He sidled through the doors back to the kitchen. "And a great big basket of food..." he mumbled the words against her, eyeing a basket overflowing with cheese, fruit and crackers all tied with a bow and sitting on the counter. "And an electric kettle." He noticed what Hermione had made their tea with that morning and when he dropped a soft kiss on her neck, he saw her eyes finally close contentedly. So he began walking her toward the bedroom, which was in a separate wing by itself with a bathroom larger than his entire bedroom back at the Burrow. "This place is incredible. Come on, you have to admit it." He worked at her neck from behind, liking this position behind her.

"It's because he knows we're going to be here a long time," she spoke cautiously.

"He knows we deserve it," Ron argued, continuing to busy himself with her neck. "We deserve this."

"What are we going to do about supper?"

"Let's just eat that basket in the kitchen." He was eager to sit down after their day of walking and reckoned there was enough food in the basket for the two of them. Hermione had made meals out of less in the last year. "We can eat it out on the balcony."

"I suppose that's fine."

"Unless you want to go back out and go somewhere else," he offered despite his desire to stay in.

"No, I'm tired," she responded shortly.

"Well then...why don't you...have a shower...and relax." He was eager for this stiff and serious Hermione to leave and punctuated each word with a kiss.



"Yes, why don't you get that gift basket from the kitchen and take it out to the balcony to get supper ready and I'll just have a shower like you said."

"Okay." It was the most she'd said in hours and he was pleased with himself for suggesting a plan that she actually agreed with. She broke away from him then, rifling through her beaded bag for clothes to change into and then turning toward the bathroom. "Hey." He grabbed her hand and tugged on her arm to pull her back to him.

"What?" The look of annoyance quickly fell from her face as soon as he pressed his lips to hers. "Don't take too long." He let his mouth linger over hers like he had in the train car, mimicking the way Hermione said you finished a wine. The kiss seemed to have worked because she offered him a small smile, the first he felt like he'd seen in hours, before retreating behind the bathroom doors.

Forgetting that he was supposed to be readying their dinner on the balcony, he instead climbed onto the enormous bed. This one was even larger than the one in their previous room. He rolled onto his back and blew out a loud breath, listening to the sound of the shower. He hated how methodical she'd been today. Last night had been monumental and this morning had been incredible. His hands and lips had been all over her and she'd seemed to enjoy every minute of it. Yet ten minutes walking the Muggle city streets and it was like that had never happened. His attempts at intimacy just now had seemed to relax her slightly, but he wondered which Hermione would emerge from the bathroom. He had secretly been looking forward to tonight all day and that was before he even found out their room had been upgraded and that they now had a giant fluffy bed and a shower big enough for two.

Trying his best not to think about her in the shower or the things they'd done on the bed in Room 514 yesterday, his hands slid below his shorts nonetheless. He figured he'd best wait until he was in the shower, but the memory of her confession last night was too much. She thought about being with him. She had read about it. She wanted to eventually. His eyes rolled back in his head thinking about the way she'd stripped her shirt over her head and how much she'd liked his mouth so low on her belly, not to mention the way his bits had nestled against her last night, snug against her bum. He hardly realised when the sound of the shower stopped and he barely pulled his hand out from his pants in time.

"Did you bring the food outside?" Her voice sounded as she towelled off her hair and stepped through the doors.

"Oh – er – no," Ron confessed uncomfortably.

"Why not?" Her voice had the familiar and bossy tone to it that Ron was oddly relieved to hear.

Because I was thinking about your tits in the shower and having a wank instead.

"Well, because – er - this bed is incredible and I couldn't get up once I sat down. "

"Honestly, Ron, all you had to do was carry a basket of food out to the balcony." Ron was pleased to see the shower looked to have washed away the day's disappointment. She seemed renewed and he was cheered immensely by the way she fussed at him. Apologizing, he stiffly made his way to the bathroom. He felt like a fifteen year old version of himself. This marked two straight nights polishing his knob in the shower while Hermione sat right outside the door. He felt like some kind of pervert. She was clearly not okay. Her singular focus on her parents and the mechanical way she'd gone about the day had been unsettling. Having a wank should be the last thing on his mind.

Sharing a hotel room with her was literally like a dream though. There was no Harry there to interrupt, his sister would not knock on the door, his mum would not fuss at them to return downstairs for pudding. It was just Hermione and him. Alone. All the time. He turned the water off, feeling immensely more relaxed than before, but still wondering what the night would hold. He couldn't help his thoughts from straying when he looked at the size of the bed. What a randy git he was.

She was sitting out on the balcony, apparently soaking up the rapidly setting sun while she waited for him to join her. The food in the basket was now all set up in a delicious looking spread. There were honey-coated peanuts and gourmet crackers, shortbread, and marmalade. There were cheese twists and pepper jelly, quince paste and spiced almonds. It would be a decidedly random feast, but it would definitely be a feast. She had spread out the contents, dividing them carefully into categories. There were the sweet items in one place, there were different meats in the other, there were crackers, and there were spreads. There were even two glasses of champagne.

"It was in the basket," she explained as he eyed the flutes of bubbly liquid. Ron couldn't help but think she looked nervous. "It was the only thing to drink other than water. You don't have to drink it if you don't want."

"You're supposed to give a toast with this stuff, right?" Ron knew the wizarding version. There had been flutes like this at his brother's wedding and people had done toasts to his brother and his new wife. "To – er – Australia," Ron offered, unsure of what else to toast, "and to Kingsley." Kingsley was the whole reason they were on this balcony, after all. Ron wondered if the Minister of Magic had consulted his mother when he'd gotten the room for them. Something told him if he had there would have been more than one bedroom and no champagne and chocolate.

Hermione silently raised her glass in agreement and they both took a nervous sip. Ron wasn't sure if he was supposed to taste it like Hermione had told him to drink the wine, but he was sure he had swallowed far more than he should have as he felt a strange burning sensation in both his nose and throat when he drank. He set the champagne down and walked over to the table with all the food.

"This all looks good."

"I'm not sure how it will all taste together," Hermione managed a laugh that made Ron smile to see.

"Ah, it'll be perfect," he assured, picking up a handful of cheese twists and turning around to the city skyline. "Look at that view!" he mumbled through a mouthful. Ron looked out at the silhouettes of the Muggle skyscrapers that stretched to the sky. He could see the odd library they'd first Apparated to and could even pick out the bridge by the Ministry entrance they'd dropped down that morning was. Hermione looked out on the vast city with a blank expression. She'd been so funny all day. Everything he'd said, any encouraging words of comfort or compliments had seemed to fall on deaf ears.

"It's beautiful," she remarked quietly from her position in the lounge chair.

He was pleased to see she'd been sunning herself while he was in the shower, delighting in a bit of frivolity that he so rarely saw. He realised, as he looked to her in the sunlight, that it was the first he'd seen of her bare arms in the daylight. The burns from the cursed treasure were fading, but there were other more prominent scars that covered her arms, the ones he had felt yesterday that she had kept hidden for weeks with jumpers and cardigans. He could see now how they criss-crossed her arms at random, appearing very much like Bellatrix Lestrange had made a sport out of carving into her flesh. Ron tasted bile rising in his throat and he tried hard not to stare. He knew the fact that she was baring her arms was significant, just like it had been last night, even if she still wore that awful bandage beneath her left elbow. He didn't want to make her uncomfortable and he tried to pull his eyes away, but it was too late.

"They're pretty ugly, huh?" she remarked calmly. Ron just shrugged.

"No worse than my brain scars." He motioned to his upper arms. "Are you treating them with anything?" The attempt to disguise the concern in his voice failed horribly.

"Just Dr. Ubbly's."

Ron was tempted to inquire why she'd kept them covered for so long and why it was now she was choosing to reveal them, but he kept silent. He didn't know why Hermione was so reluctant to talk about what had happened to her, to even acknowledge that it was a serious thing. The closest they'd come to talking about it had been back at the Burrow and she'd been so dismissive he wasn't even sure how to press the matter or even if he should. He figured he'd never been tortured. He had no idea what she'd had to endure. He'd heard it and that alone had been enough.

He was so tempted to ask her though. He knew you couldn't see the real effects of the Cruciatus curse. Truthfully, he didn't really understand it. It was an unspeakable pain, he knew that much, but he didn't truly understand what it did. There was a morbid curiosity in him that wanted to know. He wanted to understand what she'd gone through. Part of him almost wanted it done to him just so he could understand. Bill had tried to explain to him that the curse affected every part of her and that her insides were damaged too. That was why she couldn't keep down food the first day and he'd had to hold her hair back while she vomited into the bin after supper. She'd been so pale and weak at Shell Cottage and Fleur had been so protective of her. With Luna's approval, she'd allowed Ron to sleep by her bed the first few nights, but when it came to caring for her she hadn't allowed him near. So he never asked about the cuts or the bandage she'd kept on now for well over a month.

"Maybe tomorrow we can just call the offices." At the sound of her voice, Ron jerked his eyes away from her arms. She was still looking out at the vast city skyline. They had spent all afternoon traveling the other side of the river, yet looking out at the expansive city it felt like they'd hardly made a dent.

"Call them?" Ron frowned. "I thought you said yesterday it would be too expensive to call them all?"

"But we have the card now and Kingsley said to use it."

"So you just want to...stay in here all day and - and make calls on the felly-tone?"

"Telephone," Hermione corrected with an amused grin. "And yes."

"Don't you think that's kind of...boring?" His own disappointment that they would not get to explore more of the city surprised him. He didn't like being useless and he didn't like how far away Hermione had been and he certainly liked the look of this new hotel room and the possibility of what they could do in it, but he liked seeing the city. He liked being outside with her, even if she had been so far away.

"It's faster," she stated simply. "We'll never get to all of them at this rate. Especially not with all these stupid Apparation points."

"They are annoying, aren't they?

"Just a bit," she sighed and then spread some cheese onto a cracker. "We still have over two-hundred to go." The words were a necessary reminder of the mission before them. Truthfully, he dreaded what tomorrow would bring. She'd be serious and focused and withdrawn. It would be just like today only without the walking. They'd be stuck in this room and all he would be able to do was sit beside her. Still, he had a mission and he would see it through.

They didn't talk much over their dinner of cheese, biscuits, and champagne. She looked out at the city mostly. He hoped its enormity wasn't weighing on her and tried to make conversation about all the odd things they'd seen that day. There was the girl with the long turquoise hair at one of the offices, but the longer he talked about her the more he realised she had reminded him of Tonks. Then there was the group of Japanese tourists, but their constantly flashing camera bulbs reminded him of Colin. So he resorted to babbling on about how much he liked the city and what a brilliant job she'd done selecting it as the location to send her parents. He stammered over the words though, like he did every time he mentioned them.

"It seems like a great city. I bet they won't even want to come home they love it so much!" As soon as he said the words, he realised what a terrible thing it was to say. He may as well have punched her in the gut. "I mean, of - of course they'll want to come home. With you. To England. But it's just - it erm - it seems like a great city." Fuck, he'd said that already. "It's sunny and uh - the - the beach is so close. It's - you just – you did a great job." She remained silent and did little more than offer a smile. Ron immediately tried to fix his stupid slip. "I - I didn't mean it like they wouldn't want to - "

"I know what you meant," she finally replied. "Thanks." She folded up her paper napkin then, signaling she was done with their makeshift dinner.

"Here, I can get this." He reached eagerly across her body for the dirty plastic wrappers and napkins. "Go lay down. I can get this, I can get this."

Hermione cocked her head to the side then, the same way she had when he'd offered to make her a cheese toasty for the first time back at the Burrow. He knew it was because of the offer to help clean. He was eager to show Hermione he could do things for her, that he wanted to do things for her. For so long he'd been such a prat. He'd been a dirty, sloppy, messy boy. He was eager to show her he could be a man. He delighted in the opportunity to show her what he was capable of and how much he wanted to please her, even if it just meant cleaning the kitchen. There wasn't much to clean up and with the assistance of his willow wand he had the balcony and kitchen both looking spotless in no time.

She was resting on the great bed when he finally returned to her. Her arms were spread out, filling up the entire mattress as she lay back and stared up at the ceiling. She was still oddly quiet and he couldn't help but notice that she had hardly said much during dinner.

"That's about how you slept last night," he teased in an attempt to remind her about their night together. He wanted the morning back, the playful lingering kisses and the promises they had held. He'd been eagerly anticipating how the matter of sleep would come up today, especially after their comfortable intimacy this morning. She hardly seemed to hear him though, her eyes still fixed on the ceiling. He noticed the piece of paper crumpled in her hand that he knew was their list of dental practices. He climbed onto the bed beside her and worked up the courage to address what he knew was the reason for her silence.

"We knew it wouldn't take a day, right?"

She didn't reply, but just fussed at him to take his shoes off as he climbed onto the bed. Ron feigned annoyance, but was secretly delighted at the reprimand. That was his Hermione.

"This was only what…twenty-six we made it to today?" He gently pulled the list from her hand.

"I know."

"We'll find them, Hermione."

"I know." Her short reply sounded again. "Kiss me." The unexpected words were nearly a whisper and Ron looked at her a moment to make sure he'd heard them correctly. She blinked once and reached for his hand, then repeated the demand. She'd never given him an order like that and it was more than a little exhilarating. He obliged her with nary a second thought and she responded to him with a surprising enthusiasm. Gripping his face in her hands, she quickly hooked her leg around him, urging him closer. Suddenly, it was the morning again.

All day long, she'd been so tense and focused only on getting to as many dental offices as they could. But now it felt like she was coming back to him. Finally, he could feel her body relax. They were comfortable kisses, exhilarating only because of how normal it all felt. There was nothing new about being this close and feeling her the way he was. There was no hesitation or anxiety, no withdrawing to ask whether it was okay. He reckoned this is what she meant she wanted sex to feel like. He wondered how many days of kissing like this would get them there. They kissed and caressed atop the covers until she finally withdrew to brush her teeth.

He pretended to occupy himself with the television at the edge of the bed while he waited for her to finish her nighttime routine and get into bed. When she finally did, he wasn't entirely sure how to climb in next to her. Last night it had just sort of happened. They'd come together and then she'd turned around and then it was perfect. He didn't know how to position his body to assume the same position without looking like a tit. He didn't know whether to put his left arm above his head or beneath his own body, which felt quite awkward. He was grateful when Hermione suddenly raised her head and shoulders slightly off the mattress for him. Ron felt a stirring deep inside as he realised what the action meant.

She wanted him to hold her.

He knew it shouldn't come as a surprise. He'd held her before lots of times. There was something unbelievably intimate and suggestive about the action though. She wasn't wearing her the long-sleeved top that matched her usual blue pyjamas, but only a simple vest to sleep the bottoms. The sight of so much naked skin would usually excite him, but the ghastly scars on her arms made the tightness in his shorts lessen as she edged closer to him.

Tentatively, he slid his arm beneath the gap provided by her neck, between her shoulders and the pillow. She nestled into his embrace and he rubbed her bare arms with his free hand. She shivered as he ran his hand up and down her arm, even gently grazing the bandage on her forearm. He waited to feel her withdraw like she had last night every time he touched her arms, but withdrawing meant leaving the bed and leaving this position he reckoned she enjoyed just as much as he did.

His hand wrapped around the course bandage, desperate to know what she was hiding from him. He felt the words in his throat and he pictured what would happen after he asked. The last time he'd confronted her about anything related to it, she'd scolded him for telling everyone in his family what had happened to her and conveyed very clearly her desire to keep her torture secret. Then they'd almost had a row in front of half his family and she'd accused him of behaving different. If he were to bring it up now, he'd probably blurt out how different she was too. Everything from her frantic and impractical reaction back in Dijon to her detached behaviour today screamed that she was far from alright, but he knew Hermione would hardly admit that. If he said anything he'd likely end up sleeping on the sofa.

Besides, she had enough weighing on her today without him bringing up her torture. So when she pressed herself closer to him, he kept his mouth shut and instead moved his hands instinctively to her breasts.

He was confident she wasn't wearing anything beneath the vest, a thought which drove him mad with desire. His hunch was answered as he felt her nipple harden beneath his thumb through the cotton vest. He squeezed gently at first, then a bit harder when he didn't feel her withdraw. The only response he could detect was her moving against him, her bum pressing firmly against his crotch. Ron couldn't keep himself from letting out a groan, an action which only made her continue to rub up on him.

"We should sleep." Despite the fact that this was exactly what he'd wanted all day, he tried to be a gentleman and recall her words last night about being confused and scared and nervous and excited.

"You don't want to sleep." Her voice had a soft teasing tone to it. Here was definitely the confused part. She really was a fucking mess about all this.

"What do I want to do?"

"Me," she replied simply after a long pause. Ron's eyes widened at the blunt remark, hardly believing Hermione had said it. He supposed he hadn't exactly been subtle last night about his obvious desire. She laughed at the lengthy silence that followed her comment. "Right?

"Well...erm...yeah." Ron wondered if maybe this was a trick question. Perhaps after their conversation last night, he was supposed to say he no longer wanted her like that, but that would be the biggest lie she could ever catch him in. "What uh...what do you want to do then?" he asked dumbly.

"I don't know." She continued to rub her backside against his crotch. "This feels good."

"Yeah." He tried to steady his breathing. It felt better than good. Ron could feel a familiar pressure building between his legs as his striped pyjamas suddenly began to feel too confining. "What about, you know, last night?" He reminded her of her words in bed while his hand instinctively traced circles on her abdomen, recalling how his tongue had done the same last night and again this morning. They'd certainly come a long way from tentative first kisses back at the Burrow.

"Right." He felt her shift against him suggestively.

"Hermione Granger." He knew there was no doubt she could feel him growing hard against her.


"You're a tease."

"I know."

She turned over to face him then with a secret smile. He inhaled sharply at her withdrawal, suddenly aware of the fact that he'd been holding his breath for most of the last minute. She smiled at the intake of breath, clearly aware of what she'd done and looking quite pleased with herself. The teasing smile remained on her face, but she pressed her hand to his chest to put a bit of space between them.

"Are you all right?" Her voice rose in careful concern even as her hand stroked his chest longingly.

At that moment, Ron couldn't help but recall her awkwardness in the train compartment to Budapest. It was difficult to believe it was only four days ago she had stumbled over an apology for causing the exact same reaction in him. Now she seemed delighted with her own ability to get him so easily aroused.

"M'alright," he dismissed, but his breathless response didn't seem to convince her.

"Are you sure?"

"Are you?" He turned the question back on her, reckoning that was the real issue. She reached out to touch his face softly and answered his question with a kiss. The action, despite not answering his question, made him grin. She'd been apart from him all day and he was relieved to see the comfortableness of the morning return. He'd done this. He'd brought her back.

When she moved to deepen the kiss, he replied in kind, one hand moving to her waist, but when she edged her body closer to him, he backed his hips away.

She frowned at the action, her bottom lip jutting out in an unfamiliar pout he couldn't ever recall seeing before.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing...I know...last night..." he stumbled over an explanation. Her many words on the matter still rang clear as anything in his head. I just want it to feel right. This is happening really fast. We should wait. He knew her feelings hadn't changed in a day. The only thing that had was a day of unsuccessfully searching for her parents.

"I still want you." The blunt words made his dick jump. "Can't we know..."

"Yeah," he replied eagerly, trying to hide his amusement at her perpetual inarticulateness over these matters. He wondered if actually being able to say what she wanted was part of feeling natural too. She might not flush as much anymore, but she certainly couldn't speak straightforwardly on the matter. "Yeah, definitely. Just...not now."

"Well, you started it," she reminded him who had reached for her breasts first.

"I know." Ron scratched his head uncomfortably. "But I didn't know you'd be...doing that."

"Doing what?"

"You know, you up know, well - me." The stammering words were barely audible as he scratched at his head and averted his eyes. He reckoned he wasn't any better than she was about speaking straightforwardly.

"I can't do that?" She looked puzzled.

"Not when we're in bed!" he confessed in embarrassment then, his voice significantly louder now.

We're in bed.

The words rang around the room for a moment and he thought he could see Hermione listening to them echo as well. The verbalization of their situation somehow made it more real. They were in bed together. This was what they did now.

"Is that a rule now?" He couldn't help but think she didn't sound all that disappointed with the idea of having firm rules and guidelines.

"As long as you still want know, wait, then yeah, I guess," he stumbled some more and gave an awkward shrug.

"Do you have that little self control?" She looked amused, but her voice had an accusatory tone to it like when she criticized him for procrastinating his Potions homework or screwing up a Silencing Charm.

"It's not that - it's just - " Ron fumbled for the words to explain himself yet again. Truthfully, part of him did doubt his own ability to stop if they started the things she was initiating beneath the sheets. She ought to know that. "You know, we're - we're in bed - " There was the phrase again. " - And - and weren't not really wearing a lot of clothes -" He looked to her partially-bare shoulders.

"- and you have no self control," she chided.

"Well, I don't think you do either!" he exploded then. This marked night number two of shouting at each other in bed. He didn't mean to yell and he hated himself for raising his voice, but he couldn't help but point out what a hypocrite she was being. He could see she looked offended at the accusation so he lowered his voice and clarified. "I mean, I just think that if we, you know, kept at it, you wouldn't...stop. Despite all those things you said yesterday."

"You think I don't mean what I said?" She looked highly affronted.

"I think you do," Ron sighed. "I think you meant every word of it." Her eyes softened slightly then at his words and she let him continue. "It's just - you know I want you and...when we're together, that's pretty much all I think about," he admitted. "I forget about everything. I reckon I couldn't even tell you what day of the week it is." She did not blush or turn away at the honest admission so he continued. "And if you're anything like me, I think maybe sometimes when we're...together, you forget that you mean it - what you said last night." She was silent.

He was right. He knew he was, but still he held his breath awaiting her response. She'd probably get angry with him for assuming things about her and what she wanted. "Maybe I should just sleep on the sofa," he mumbled finally when minutes passed and still she didn't respond.

"No, don't." She grabbed his arm as he made to leave the bed. "Stay."

"I don't think it's a very good idea."

"Surely we can control ourselves." She tried for a laugh that quickly dissolved when she saw him still sitting on the edge of the bed, weighing the decision. Sleeping on the sofa made the most sense. It looked comfortable enough and it was stupid of him to think he could lie next to her, thinking the thoughts he did, and everything would be fine. Neither of them were ready for this. Like she said, it had only been ten - well, now eleven - days.

"Stay. Please." Her voice was small and meek now. "I - I want you beside me."

He'd thought after the exchange of 'I love you' this morning that there was little she could say that could affect him so much, but the small admission rooted him to the spot.

It was the closest he'd ever heard to her asking for help in his life. She seemed to know it too because she looked down to the mattress, gathering whatever else it was she needed to confess.

"I want you to sleep beside me," she explained further, as if the meaning were somehow still unclear. At the words, he recalled the way her limbs had quivered against him last night and the faint plaintive sounds that had escaped her lips. "I think I sleep better when you do." He let the words sink in as she finally raised her eyes from the mattress to look at him. She looked almost like she was embarrassed to have to admit such a thing. Ron thought again of the awful sound of hearing her call for him, but being able to do nothing.

Without a word, he swung his legs back into the bed and crawled under the covers beside her.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 32 of 45

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