Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 33 of 45

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When his eyes finally fluttered open on their second full day in Australia, she was still asleep beside him. Fortunately, they had remembered to draw the curtains before bed, but there was still a small bit of light peeking through the gap. He didn't have to see the city through the curtains to think about the enormous task they'd barely scratched the surface of yesterday. He dreaded the thought of another day with the solemn and detached Hermione from the day before. Turning from the light, he gazed at her sleeping form. He wanted the Hermione from last night.

Thinking about the way she'd been purposefully rubbing her arse against him didn't help to relieve the tent already pitched in his shorts. She wanted him. In a wonderful, but maddeningly confusing way. They'd passed a large portion of the night wrapped around each other, at least every time he seemed to wake she had been there. The only exception was when he awoke to her limbs trembling beside him on the bed. Despite how much he had wanted to wrap her in his embrace, he could do little but watch and wait. He doubted he'd ever get used to watching her shake and the terrible helplessness that accompanied it.

Waiting for her eyes to flutter open, he stared at the faint freckles on the bridge of her nose. It wasn't like him to be awake first and he thought for a moment about going to the kitchen to make her a spot of tea like she'd done for him yesterday, or at least go to the toilet and take care of his morning wood, but he couldn't make himself leave the bed. This was something he doubted he'd get used to: waking up next to Hermione Granger.

His eyes could drink in the sight of her now without fear she would catch him staring. Her hair was a tangled mess since she'd fallen asleep with it still wet - as wild and bushy as it had been when she was eleven. The underside of her forearm was angled toward the ceiling and he could now clearly see the myriad of scars that marred the delicate skin there. Some looked to be small quick cuts while others were painfully long, one running down almost the entire length from wrist to elbow. It was one thing to feel them, but another to see them so close. Ron swallowed the lump threatening to rise in his throat as he stared long and hard at every one, thinking about what each meant.

It had been so much more than the Cruciatus Curse and she'd never let on. Somebody had cut into Hermione. He'd been kicked and punched and hexed and bruised plenty, but somebody had purposefully cut into her flesh. He knew it was the same blade that had killed poor Dobby. Ron recalled the bloody bandages that kept emerging from her room back at Shell Cottage and the blood stains he hadn't even noticed on his own shirt until hours later. There had been so much else going on. He'd been so relieved that she was alive, staring only at the rising and falling of her chest that he'd paid little attention to what Fleur did. She must have put the bandage on quickly. He wondered how he and Harry hadn't realised sooner.

Ron stared at the olive-colored bandage that was wrapped around the top half of her forearm, desperate to know what lay beneath it. At the Burrow he'd hardly noticed it. She wore shirts with long-sleeves and cardigans all the time, so he'd paid it no mind. The heat now made it painfully obvious. She didn't even seem to take it off when she showered. It was too small to be a Dark Mark, but was clearly something she wanted to hide. No wound could be that raw after this many weeks.

He missed the days when he wouldn't be so afraid to just blurt out and ask what she was hiding. She'd yell at him and tell him to mind his business and they'd row about it and that would be it. Things were different in Australia though. They'd not even been in country for two whole days, but he could see it. She seemed more fragile even than she had in the moments after the Battle or any time this year, which was saying something as she'd seemed to burst into tears every few days over the last twelve months. Hell, Hermione cried all the time. It wasn't just pain and sadness that made her eyes water, either. She cried when he and Harry finally made up Fourth Year and she cried when Fleur and Bill said their vows. If he looked back on it, he realised that unless she was somewhere crying alone - a thought that disturbed him tremendously - he couldn't remember the last time he'd really seen her shed tears. Her voice had gotten shaky on several occasions back at the Burrow, but here they were nearing a week of being lost and confused and, for a short time, possibly hunted, and she hadn't cried once. He hadn't seen a hint of the outbursts of emotion he had grown so accustomed to seeing from her this year.

Her eyelid twitched slightly as he continued to gaze at her, and Ron held in a breath, hoping he hadn't woken her. His brother's funeral. She'd cried twice that day. The first time was his fault, and he recalled how that news from Harry had felt like a punch in the gut. The second was at the funeral itself. He hadn't been there for either.

Ron wondered if there was a connection.

He reached out delicately to comb an unruly strand of hair from her face and he saw her twitch again slightly.

"Good morning," her dry and scratchy voice sounded at his touch, even as her eyelids remained closed.

"Morning. You been awake for a while?" He wondered if she'd somehow known he'd been staring at her.

"A bit. We need to remember to close the curtains all the way next time." Finally, her eyes fluttered open and rested on him.

"The light woke you up too, eh?"

She responded with what Ron could only guess was an affirmative moan as she stretched her arms out over her head sleepily and then reached out for him. He grinned as her arms snaked around him. This was what it was like to wake up next to Hermione Granger.

"I'd say last night went better," he offered happily.


"You only kicked me three times," he teased and was pleased to see the corners of her mouth raise slightly.

"And you only stole the covers twice."

She leaned forward and captured his lips then. She didn't withdraw with excuses about relieving herself of morning breath and he made no effort to hide his morning glory.

"I love you," he stated then, a casual reminder of the huge step they'd taken yesterday morning.

"I love you," she replied back easily.

And that was it. That was how it would be from now on.

"What time do you want to get started?" His voice was a low murmur as he traced his mouth from her jaw down to her collarbone.

"We can just stay here," she replied, her hand now raking the back of his neck like it had yesterday, "like this."

"You want to make the felly-tone calls from bed?" He knew upon hearing the word out loud that he'd mispronounced it again, but Hermione didn't bother correcting him.

"You need to shave." Ignoring his question, she reached out and grabbed his stubbly cheeks then, stopping the movement of his mouth against her skin.

"Why? Does it tickle?" he laughed.

"It's itchy."

"Well, I don't want you itchy." He said the words, but purposefully rubbed his prickly chin against her cheek.

"Stop!" She shoved both hands to his face and he teasingly rubbed his face against her shoulder, then her arm until he found himself in the same position he had their first night here with his lips hovering over her belly. He almost forgot he'd woken up this morning thinking about her parents and their search. It was so easy to forget about them here. It was so easy to forget about everything here.

"When do you want to start calling?"

"Later." The way Hermione said the words and ran her hands over him told Ron she had no inclination to leave the bed. Despite the inviting way her hands moved over his, the avoidance he could easily detect bothered him and he tried again to get her out of the bed.

"Do you want to get breakfast first?" he offered. "I really need a shower anyway."

"You showered last night?" She frowned.

"And I really need one this morning." He hoisted himself up so his weight was no longer resting on her and glanced between his legs, hoping she would catch his drift.

"Right - er - we need - I'll keep working on the list," she stammered suddenly. Ron wanted to laugh at her sudden nervousness. Last night, the same bulge hadn't bothered her at all. She'd even sought it out. She was definitely confused. The more she stammered, the more that became apparent. And as much as he loved the Hermione that didn't flush when she felt his erection pressing against her, he knew her presence would likely be all too fleeting until they accomplished their mission.

"We're going to find them today," he declared boldly, hopping off the bed then. "I can feel it."

His fresh optimism lasted all the way until noon. After a quick trip to Ascot to send another note off to his parents, this one a rather depressing note about their status in finding the Grangers, and to eat breakfast, they returned to the hotel for a day of telephone calls. It was a dull prospect that Ron attempted to make more exciting by opening all the windows and turning on the television. Already, he could feel the lazy intimacy of the morning fading away just like it had yesterday.

She kept up as manic a pace as she had the day before, making forty-one phone calls in one hour alone. The conversations were short. No matter how many different ways she tried to phrase the inquiry, requesting an appointment with Dr. Wilkins or simply inquiring after them, the conversation always ended the same way.

She forced out a polite thank you and quickly hung-up the phone. Forty-one times in a row. Each time the next call came slower. There were no affectionate touches or stolen kisses between calls. She looked weary and tired and he knew another day with no trace of the Grangers was already wearing on her.

He proudly tried to deflect her attention, showing her how he could turn the television off and on, change the picture and even make it louder and softer. Now that he realised each number played something specific, he'd even begun remembering the numbers. Twelve showed the weather. Twenty-two showed food all the time. Fifteen always had pictures of animals. He was reluctant to admit that he found the device quite fun. Hermione had told him as much, of course. Back in third year she'd tried to explain it to him, but he had of course argued about why it sounded silly. They'd rowed about it for nearly an entire hour before Harry finally told them to be quiet.

She wasn't as amused by his prowess with the television as he hoped and by one o'clock, she'd already reached the point she had yesterday when they'd returned to the hotel. She quit. She hadn't made a call for over thirty minutes and was now curled up in front of him on the sofa in a position he'd grown to love quite a lot, even if he didn't love her suddenly somber mood.

"It's too bad magic messes up electricity," he made another attempt at conversation and levity, his hand draped loosely around her waist. "I think dad has about four of these in his garage and I think I'd like one." Hermione gave a slight smile, but said nothing in reply. "Want to go out and have some lunch?" he offered. "I thought I saw a sandwich place over in Ascot that had these huge chocolate biscuits." He continued to ramble on about food shops and biscuits and nothing particularly important, but she didn't give any inclination that she wanted to eat. "Want to go take a walk along the river?" he proposed, but again she was silent. "Want to have a snog?" he offered then, hardly thinking about how it sounded but sensing that might motivate her more than anything else.

She craned her head back to look at him and he feared for a moment she might berate him for being so uncouth, but her lips curled into a smile. Then they were kissing. Hands grabbing, limbs entangled, pressed as tightly together as the confines of the sofa would allow.

This was the Australia he had longed for at the Burrow. There was so much he couldn't fix. He couldn't make her stop trembling in her sleep. He couldn't make her remove the bandage. He apparently couldn't help find her parents. He could kiss her though. It was the one thing that seemed to make her smile.

Her hair was wilder than ever and her cheeks were flushed, not with embarrassment, but with what Ron knew was arousal. He could feel her breath coming fast against him. He knew the urgency in each kiss was the product of a whole morning of frustration and disappointment. She didn't push his wandering hands away when he groped her bum with one hand and her breasts with another. So he instinctively slid his hands beneath her shirt, eager for the feel of her bare skin. She shivered at his touch as his hands slid around her ribcage and up her back. His long fingers toyed with the straps of her bra like they had their first night, except today they weren't waiting on room service to interrupt them.

She sat up on the sofa then and he knew when he began to unhook her bra she would not push him away. She was sitting up because she wanted him to do it. Two nights together had changed things. She kissed him with a hungry desperate fervor and their eyes locked for a moment as he worked his hands around her. He could feel her lips curve into a smile against his as seconds ticked by and still he was unable to shed it. Finally, they both shared a laugh at his ineptitude.

"Can you get it?" She pressed herself tightly against him, Ron assumed in the hopes that the closeness would allow his arms more movement to shed the pesky article of clothing. He kept working. "I thought you'd done this before?" There was a teasing tone to her voice that relieved him tremendously.

They could joke about Lavender in the middle of a snog.

They'd certainly come a long way since the train ride to Bulgaria. Truth was, he'd been able to do this effortlessly last year, sometimes with only one hand. Maybe it was the angle, maybe it was the difficulty of trying to do it while still kissing her, maybe it was the sheer fact that this was Hermione, but he kept fumbling with the clasp.

She let out a relieved laugh when she finally felt it pop open, which caused him to laugh as well. There was something so familiar about the exchange of laughter, the same kind of laughter that he'd grown up hearing. It was comforting to hear it now while they navigated this new territory together.

Silently, he moved his hands up her bare arms to pull the elastic straps down through her shirt sleeve. She complied, a shy smile on her face as he helped work off first the left and then the right shoulder. The bra was white with tiny red and gold polka dots that made him smile.

"Go Gryffindor," he grinned.

"Oh, shut up," she rolled her eyes as he discarded it over the side of the sofa. Fucking hell, he'd just taken off Hermione Granger's bra and she was still smiling at him.

The kisses were softer now, not quite as desperate and matching the tentative way his hands now rested on either side of her ribcage. He knew she wanted him to touch her, but for as much as he wanted her he didn't know how to go about doing this. He tried to remember last night and the way he'd felt her through her vest. They were sitting upright on the sofa now and it seemed to be an awkward angle to just stick his hand straight up her shirt.

He knew the inviting way her tongue slowly moved against his should give him all the encouragement he needed. Still, his hands remained at her ribcage. This was Hermione. How long had he daydreamed and fantasized and got off to the idea of what lay behind her carefully buttoned blouses and more tightly fitting Hogwarts jumpers.

He could feel her skin break into gooseflesh as he finally slid his right hand around to her stomach and travelled north. He broke away from her kiss momentarily as his fingers stretched tentatively upwards and over the soft mound of flesh, briefly passing over the nipple to the other side until he was cupping her entire breast entirely in his hand. Ron couldn't help but think it felt perfect, not too large, not too small. She fit perfectly in his hand. He stared at the front of her shirt, as if in awe, before he moved in to kiss her. His hand just rested there a moment as he revelled in the sheer knowledge that he was touching her before giving a simple squeeze. He felt her lips tense up against him at the action and he withdrew suddenly.

"Is this okay?" He cursed himself for being such a tit. She'd stop him if it wasn't okay. Why did he always have to ask?

She didn't say anything in reply, but began to back away from him. Worried that he'd done something wrong, Ron withdrew until it became evident what she was doing. She was lying back down on the sofa.

She was inviting him to lie on top of her.

He tried desperately not to grin like an idiot at the bold action and immediately started kissing any part of her he could, her chin, her jaw, her cheeks, her ears. He even dared to nibble her ear lobes. There was no hesitation now when both hands worked aggressively beneath her shirt, rubbing and squeezing and massaging. He wasn't sure what aroused him more, the feeling of the action itself or the mere realisation that he was doing it to Hermione.

With a grin, he could see the reflex he'd discovered up in his bedroom nearly two weeks ago applied to more than just kissing. The moment he touched her, her eyes closed. He gazed up at her adoringly as he carefully took a nipple between his calloused thumb and forefinger and he watched her eyes close and her head roll back. The angle gave him perfect access to trail kisses all along her throat.

"Is that good?" he asked dumbly. The only response was her hand dropping down softly to the nape of his neck, rubbing his skin in encouragement and taking fistfuls of his hair. His breathing, which was already quite ragged, now became a desperate pant. He doubted he'd be able to control himself much longer, not with her nails raking against his skin and the feel of her now hardened nipple between his fingers.

Anxious to shed her shirt completely, he began running his great hands up and down her arms. He could feel the scars beneath his hand and he stroked them softly with his thumb. When he did, she just moved to wrap her own hands around him. Again he tried to touch her arms in an obvious and purposeful way. This time she lowered her hands and grabbed his arse. As much as the action thrilled him, he reached for her arms a third time, this time not letting her pull away. He realised now how purposeful it was, how every time he touched her there she did something else. She'd done it yesterday too.

"Stop," she finally muttered, the annoyance in her voice evident as she jerked away from him.

"Just let me touch you." He reached for her arm again.

"No." She pulled away from him now.

"Hermione." His voice was a calm low rumble that was a stark contrast to her shrillness. "Just let me - "

"I don't want you to." She tried unsuccessfully to squirm out of his grip so she was now holding her arms up over her head in a ridiculous manner. Their previous activity on the sofa was all but forgotten.

He raised his hands up over his head too then, pressing his palms against hers and lacing his fingers between hers.

"Let me touch you," he breathed the words into her ear. She said and did nothing in reply so he unlaced his fingers from hers and slid his hand down her wrist. She didn't fight him. He could feel the first prominent bump. "They're just scars." His mouth danced lightly across her skin. "We've all got 'em."

"Yes, but they're so...ugly," Hermione finally uttered, her voice sounding small and far away. Ron was struck by what a frivolous comment it seemed. The scars were the result of her torture at the hands of a sadist who had nearly killed her and all she seemed concerned about was their unattractive appearance.

He ignored the disconcerting statement and kissed her softly. This time, when he pulled her arms down, she allowed him to pull them back to her sides. His mouth continued to work against her and he hoped the action would show her he didn't want to ask her about it. He didn't want to talk about it. He very much wanted to continue what they had started. He just wanted to touch her without feeling her tense up and withdraw. He didn't want her to hide parts of herself from him anymore.

"Nothing on you could be ugly," he assured with a smile. Then he slipped his hands back under her shirt.

"Why don't we call up and get some lunch?" She edged away from him, apparently no longer eager to continue their discovery of each other.

"Hermione," he tried to reason.

"I don't really want to go out."


"Maybe we could split a pizza. You said you wanted to try one."

"Okay," Ron relented, blowing out a loud sigh. He sat back onto the sofa and stared at the images on the television. Usually, he'd take the indication to stay in as a good sign that she wanted to do more, but now her bra just sat in the middle of the floor like a reminder of the moment he'd somehow managed to ruin. She picked up the telephone and dialed immediately before he could say anything further.

"What do you want on the pizza?"

"I don't know. Surprise me," he muttered absentmindedly, rubbing his face with his hands. He knew she could detect his frustration and shortness and when he heard her order a Lamington, he knew it was her attempt at an apology. He wondered if maybe he should be the one apologising. He wasn't even sure what it was he should apologise for. All he had wanted was to touch her. They sat and watched the telly in silence while waiting for the food. Twice she looked like she wanted to say something, but both times seemed to think against it.

Little was said throughout the lunch and once they finished, she made no effort to continue with the phone calls for the rest of the day. Her bra still lay discarded in the middle of the floor, a visible reminder of what had just transpired.

He thought about the night tremors that he had to endure watching last night and would have to endure watching again. He needed to talk about it with her. They needed to discuss this. Ron looked down at the list of dental practices they'd made a serious dent in today. They needed to discuss a lot of things.

They were lying in the same position on the sofa again. Ron was relieved that despite the uncomfortably quiet lunch, this was now their natural position to rest in. She seemed to enjoy it as much as he did. Lying like this was the expectation now. Whatever had transpired, they were still together and she still wanted him close. Ron was tempted to ask her if she wanted to have a snog again. He wondered what would happen if he just dropped a kiss on her shoulder and slid his hand northward. It seemed the only thing she couldn't say no to and the only thing she enjoyed.

So he tried it. He buried his face into her neck, combing aside the waves of hair, and he pressed his lips to her neck softly. She seemed reluctant at first to acknowledge him, her eyes focused ahead on the television program about some museum of art being constructed in Melbourne. He kissed her again, this time angling awkwardly for her face so his mouth reached her jaw and her cheek and her throat all at once. He wrapped his fingers loosely around her bare arm as he did and was pleased when she did not withdraw. There was so much he wanted to say to her. You're perfect. It's okay. We'll get through this.

"I love you." Was all he could whisper. They'd said the words so much in the last twenty-four hours, he was afraid they would lose their impact, but she squirmed around to face him then. When they embraced it lacked the passionate frenzy of their earlier exchange. Their mouths moved slowly, almost lazily and there was no hip thrusting or suggestive gyrations. But his hands ran up and down her arms and she didn't withdraw. He ignored the course bandage, feeling her tense up whenever his hand passed over it, sensing whatever lay beneath it was for another day. She wasn't tensing when he ran his hands over the rest of her arm and that was enough for him. Delicately, he traced each place the skin was marred, memorising each bump and blemish. They were a part of her now like any other part of her.

"They're just scars," he whispered the same assurance from earlier. Clearly hearing him, she ran her hands up his arm then, moving over his bicep and the deep scars left there by the brains two years ago. For some reason, he was haunted by Madam Pomfrey's words about how thoughts could leave the deepest scars. Her fingers continued their journey up his arm then, reaching up under the sleeve of his shirt to feel the splinching scar that she had helped heal this fall. "Just scars," he repeated.

They kissed and caressed off and on for the rest of the afternoon, softly, lazily, and comfortably. She made no attempt to do anything else. The list of practices to call, the search for her parents quickly seemed forgotten. Ron was loathe to initiate the search himself, but eventually, he did what she seemed unable to. Picking up the list, he did his best to mimic the way Hermione had dialed the numbers and the manner she had spoken.

"Hi - er - yes - um - hi - can you hear me, hello? Do you - um - do Monica or Wendell Wilkins work at this address?"

She chuckled in amusement the first time he called on his own, reminding him not to shout into the phone so much. Then they would kiss and then a little while later he'd make another call. Each rejection seemed to increase the time she wanted to spend kissing him.

"Do you want to go get dinner?" he finally asked when he looked to the clock and realised they'd been lying on the couch for the better part of six hours.

"Let's just order in again." Ron didn't have the heart to tell her he was tired of ordering in already after only three nights here so he obliged.

They ate their food atop the bed, which was soon covered in dirty napkins and plates that Hermione made no effort to clean up. Ceding control of the remote to her, he rolled off the bed to pick up the remnants of their dinner. The advertisements on the telly played loudly, advertising everything from crisps to automobiles to home insurance. He imagined none of it could be terribly interesting to Hermione, but she hardly seemed to be paying attention.

He encouraged her to have a wash, which she finally did under duress. But as soon as she emerged from the bathroom, she climbed on the bed and burrowed her face into his chest. Her wet hair dampened his t-shirt and he rested his chin atop her head, breathing in the scent of her shampoo as it flooded his nostrils. Vanilla and orchids, just like he'd told Charlie.

"We're not even halfway through the list," he finally spoke, but her only response was to nestle her face deeper into the folds of his shirt. Ron moved his hand beneath her blue cotton pyjamas then, his long fingers rubbing her bare back tenderly. "We'll find them," he assured. He couldn't tell whether it was his words or his touch that she responded to, but she pressed her lips to his neck then. Instinctively, he lowered his head so his mouth could meet hers.

They fell asleep without bothering to climb under the covers. Ron wasn't sure when they made their way beneath them. He wasn't sure when he removed his shirt. He reckoned he must have grown hot in the middle of the night as he figured he'd recall something like Hermione taking his own shirt off. All he knew is he woke up in the middle of the night bare-chested atop the covers with her pyjama-clad form nestled against him.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 33 of 45

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