Thanks to Mr. Lewis for Narnia. Without you, my quill would have never been set to parchment. Dedicated to Brian, my first kiss. Although we've decided we're better friends than a romantic relationship, I'm fond of those memories.
In 1492, the goblins took possession of Fort Karn, which was a central hub of wizarding society, due to its prime location in…
Hermione paused in writing her History of Magic essay momentarily. She was mad, make no mistake about that. Ronald Weasley had done it again. He'd infuriated her so that she couldn't see straight.
Jumping, she turned around to see who had spoke. "Harry! How was Quidditch practice?"
Harry shrugged. "We might actually have a chance of winning the cup this year. Ron's doing great."
"That's good," she said absently, and began to twirl her quill. "Another Gryffindor House Cup would be wonderful."
Harry smiled. Whenever Hermione was even semi-redundant, he knew that something was on her mind, and the fact that she hadn't mentioned Ron meant that she was angry or frustrated with him. Harry was getting better at this relationship stuff.
"You know, Ron would be better at Quidditch if he could actually concentrate," Harry teased.
"Ron would be a lot better at a lot of things if he would just…" Hermione trailed off, and blushed. "I don't mean that."
"Of course not. I'm going to go take a shower. Want to walk with me down to the Great Hall for supper when I'm done?"
"All right," she said and turned to her homework.
As Harry tromped up the stairs, Hermione thought that her History of Magic essay would be a lot better if she could concentrate, too.
Ron. Ron always made her feel this way. He had a way of looking at her that could bring her to her knees, or could make her fly as high as a kite. And he only saw her as a friend, or even a sister.
It's only fifth year, the voice in the back of her head whispered. But she'd told herself that in fourth year, and in third year, and honestly, she was getting a little tired of waiting on Ron Weasley to work it out.
Lately her temper had been short and her words angry. She really didn't know what was wrong with her, but all she really wanted was for Ron to look at her like… well, like a woman.
She sighed. None of the other boys had ever really held the same appeal that Ron did. He wasn't the cleverest boy in the class, but that was okay. He was brave, and gracious, and loyal. All traits that mattered more to her than any IQ test.
A strand of her bushy hair strayed into her eyes, and she absently tried to blow it out of the way.
It wasn't that Ron was stupid, either. The way he played chess was simply brilliant, and there were few who could beat him now.
The expression on his face when he won… oh, it was enough to make her sigh, not that she ever would. She tended to avoid such things, but it felt nice to feel like a girl every now and again.
Lavender and Padma sometimes told her that it was her own fault that her two best friends were boys, but Hermione liked to think it was fate. Harry and Ron were both dense in their own way, but at the same time she couldn't help but love them in separate ways.
Harry, the boy who would never have a sister, looked to her for those feelings, and Ron, who had always had older brothers, looked to her for… what?
Aware that her mind was running in circles, and not in the right circles either, Hermione shut her textbook. She would not get anymore work done tonight. As usual, when she was thinking of Ron, she couldn't think of anything else.
This time she did jump, and bumped her knee on her study table. "Ouch," she muttered.
"What's wrong?" Ron asked, concerned.
"Nothing, I bumped my knee when you scared me, that's all."
"Can I see?"
Blushing, Hermione shook her head. "It wouldn't be… right."
Ron grinned. "I'll kiss it and make it better." Suddenly realizing the weight of his words, Ron cleared his throat. "Um, I just…"
"No, it's all right. I understood what you meant."
Ron raised his eyebrows. He doubted that she did. Hermione didn't understand the way he thought about her. How could she, when he himself was confused?
"I'm going to go shower. Has Harry already been up?"
"Yes," Hermione said and turned away again, carefully not looking at him. "He's going to meet down here and we're going to walk down to the Great Hal1 for supper together."
For a moment, she thought she saw something like jealousy flash in Ron's eyes. "As friends, Ron. Like we always do."
"I knew that," Ron mumbled.
Hermione chuckled. "You're welcome to join us."
Ron nodded. "If I'm not down here before Harry, don't wait."
Shrugging, Hermione pretended to return her attention to the textbook lying in front of her. She snapped it open and said, "Suit yourself."
Is she mad at me again? The thought made him chuckle. Somehow, things didn't feel right unless Hermione was irritated with him. Though she had been more snappy than usual lately.
After he'd removed his clothes, he stepped into the shower and let the rhythm of the water drown out his thoughts. Thinking about Hermione always brought a queer pleasure-pain feeling to his stomach, and so he preferred not to think about her at all, when possible.
As he toweled off, it seemed that he was going to have to think about Hermione, anyway. His mind kept returning to the expression on her face when he'd offered to kiss her knee. Had her expression really been hopeful, or had that just been his imagination?
It startled him to think that he really hoped that it was the former. He'd never been attracted to Hermione that way… had he?
His feelings about Viktor and a score of other blokes came to mind. Why had he felt so enraged that they would be interested in only his friend? Why was it that he liked to look at her so much? Why was it that the very expressions on her face could entertain him for hours?
No, it was no use denying it. He liked Hermione, and more than just a bit.
He'd always been the kind to follow his impulses… and he had an impulse to kiss Hermione Granger and see if she kissed him back.
Chuckling at the nonsense he was thinking, he dressed and headed downstairs.
There was no one in the Common Room, which meant that Harry and Hermione must have already headed down to the Great Hall. That was fine with him. He wanted some more time to be… alone.
It was funny, this feeling he had. He wanted to be alone, and yet he craved Hermione's presence. It was like… an itch, really. Laughing at that not-quite-so-poetic comparison, he headed out the portrait door, until he heard someone behind him.
Looking up from the book that she was reading, Come Come Paradise, Ginny smiled.
"Hello, Ron. What are you doing up here so late?"
"I just back from Quidditch and took a shower before I went down to supper. Why aren't you eating?"
His sister went pink. "I've got a stomachache."
"Really?" He couldn't keep the teasing out of his voice. "Does this stomachache have a name?"
"No, I have indigestion, Ronald Weasley."
"Yes, Mum," he replied, which made her laugh. "Do you want me to bring you something in case you get to feeling better?"
Ginny shook her head. "No, that's all right. Hermione is going to bring me the potion I asked for, so I don't need you to get me anything. Besides, I don't want anyone to get suspicious. I hate the hospital wing."
Ron nodded. "You look kind of pale. You might want to go lie down."
"I will. I was just seeing if Hermione had left yet." She turned to go up the stairs.
"Do you want me to stay with you until Hermione gets back?" Ron asked, feeling a tiny bit uncomfortable. But Molly Weasley had raised her boys right, and he knew for a fact that she wouldn't want his sister alone when she was sick.
Ginny's blush grew deeper. "I'd like that. We could break out the chess board."
"I'd take it easy on you, since you're sick."
Ginny laughed. "So I'll pound you even worse than usual. Prepare to meet your doom."
Ron threw his head back and laughed in an imitation of the evil villains in the comics they used to read. "I'll get you, my pretty!"
"And your little dog, too!" they finished together. Ron and Ginny had only ever seen one Muggle movie, with a friend of their father's. The Wizard Of Oz had made them laugh with its obscured view of magic, but they had enjoyed the story.
When Hermione entered Ginny's dormitory room, she was only a little surprised to see Ron on the foot of Ginny's bed, toying with a pawn. Even though the pieces moved magically, Ron still liked to fiddle with them to aid his strategy, but only occasionally. It was only when he was playing someone that challenged him that he had to seriously think, anyway.
"Hello, everyone," she said brightly. "I've brought you your potion, Ginny."
"Thank you," Ginny said gratefully. "Did you have much trouble getting it?"
"No," Hermione said with a shake of her head. "I just… ‘need it for a school project, Madam Pomfrey. I'm doing an extra credit assignment on common magical potions for Professor Snape and…'"
Ginny's peals of laughter made Hermione break down as well. "You're too much, Hermione Granger."
"I didn't know you had it in you," Ron said, amazement showing through.
"This will only happen this one time. Right?"
"Right," Ginny agreed. "You're a saint."
"Not yet," Hermione said with a wink. "Come on, Ron. Let your sister rest."
"Bye, Ginny," Ron said, and enveloped his sister in a hug.
"Ron, you'll get sick," Ginny protested, but returned the hug.
"No, I've got a highly developed immune system," Ron retorted, and followed Hermione out of the room.
"How'd you get into Ginny's room, anyway?"
"I'm her brother. The wards work a bit differently than you might think."
"Ah," Hermione said, and nodded. "I see."
"Where are you going?" he asked, suddenly not able to stand her leaving him.
"The common room," she replied. "I've got some studying to do."
He didn't say anything, but followed her. When Hermione sat down on a sofa with her textbook, he stopped in front of her.
"Can I sit here?"
Hermione paused, a bit confused. "Yes, of course. You don't have to ask."
"Yes, I do," Ron corrected her, softly. With a start, Hermione realized they were the only two in the common room.
"You can sit next to me," Hermione said, and her eyes strayed towards the floor. For the most part, Hermione was not a shy girl, but something in Ron's voice made her wary.
"Thanks," he said. "Why didn't you get your homework done this afternoon? That's when you usually do it, right?"
"Yes," Hermione said. "I just couldn't concentrate this afternoon."
"Neither could I," Ron told her.
Hermione raised her eyes. "That's what Harry said," she said shortly. Suddenly she was mad at Ron for having this power over her. "Now, do you have something you want to tell me, or can you go away so I can get this done?"
"Why couldn't you concentrate?"
Hermione blushed. "I just… couldn't."
Ron smiled, and before she knew it, his lips were touching hers. It was awkward at first, but then they got used to the texture and feel of each other's lips, and Hermione last track of the time, the place, and all she could think about was Ron.
"I'm glad I asked to sit down," Ron whispered to her.