Harry Potter awoke suddenly, his hand grasping for his wand even as his mind recorded that he'd been thumped with a pillow.
hell, Harry," Ron Weasley said, his pillow dangling from his hand.
"What in Circe's name does it take to get you to wake up?"
bit off his initial reply, which would have been extremely rude, and
instead settled for slipping his glasses on and fixing Ron with a
"Ron," he said, checking his watch. "It's half
past six in the morning. Why are you awake, and why did you wake me
u-u-up?" he yawned.
"I need your help," Ron said. "It's Hermione."
told you, I'm not getting involved in your rows anymore," Harry said,
laying back on his bed and shutting his eyes. He had given up on trying
to stand between his friends when Ron and Hermione argued after being
caught up in a colossal row during the summer. The argument had ended
when all three of them had ended up in the pond behind the Burrow,
fully clothed and freezing cold on the surprisingly chilly August
"We didn't row," Ron said. "Yet."
Harry looked up. "Alright. Tell me."
Ron sunk back onto his own bed, and began toying with the corner of a blanket. He mumbled something indistinct.
Ron looked up, his face a bright red mask of horrified embarrassment.
"I said, 'I kissed her last night'," he repeated.
Harry looked at his friend in undisguised surprise.
Ron nodded miserably.
"You kissed Hermione?"
nodded again, his expression now closely resembling, Harry thought,
that of Cho Chang just before she'd kissed Harry the previous year.
"So? What's wrong?" Harry asked. "I mean, you like her, right?"
"Yeah, 'course. But. . ."
"But I reckon that she's going to hate me this morning."
Hermione Granger blushed as brightly as any member of the Weasley family ever had.
"Are you mad? You snog my brother and you think he'll hate you? Are you barking mad?"
"You're off your rocker, you are."
leaned back against the wall of the corridor. She had dragged Ginny out
of bed after failing to get more than a few minutes sleep the night
before. The warm, blissful feeling that had stayed with her after those
first tentative kisses had evaporated at around three in the morning
when she identified the cause of her sleeplessness.
What if he didn't like it? What if he doesn't like me?
What if he turns to me tomorrow and says that he just wants to be
friends? I don't think that I could cope! It'd be just like Halloween
in the first year all over again!
Three hours of
relentless panic had driven Hermione from her bed and into Ginny's
dormitory. Ignoring the half-vocalised grunts of protest from her
friend, she'd dragged the younger girl from her bed and into the
corridor outside, where no sensible person would be found at such an
early hour. Then, she had subjected Ginny to the tortuous process of
dragging information from her. To Ginny, it seemed that extracting a
tooth from the mouth of a dragon with lockjaw would have been easier.
"Hermione, go and find him. Talk to him. You'll see what I mean. He's not going to send you away, believe me."
Hermione looked dubious. "Do you really think so?"
"I know so," Ginny said. I mean, what boy is going to send away a girl who wants to snog him?
Hermione looked defeated. "You're right. I just have to talk to him."
Ginny nodded, stopping halfway through to yawn. "Go get 'im. Wake me at eight, right?"
"Thanks, Ginny," Hermione said.
"Hey, what are. . . Ah, I'm tired. Have fun."
With that, Ginny went back to bed.
"You're joking, right?"
Ron looked at Harry in a way that suggested he wasn't entirely sure he'd made the right choice in telling him.
"Hermione is not going to hate you," Harry said firmly. Risky. Ron may be a rubbish kisser. Or Hermione may not have wanted to be kissed. Okay. . .
"Well, she probably won't," he corrected himself. "Er. . . Did she like it?"
Ron looked panicked again. "How in Merlin's name would I know that?" he asked.
Harry opened his mouth to reply, then remembered that a great deal of his limited experience was with Ron's younger sister. Tact. Tact and vagueness. That way you might get away with this with your face in one piece.
"Er, she'll make noises," Harry said.
"What sort of noises?"
"Well. . . Sighs? And moans. Quiet ones." Don't say gasps and panting. You only saw that on that video Dudley has, and there's no way Ron and Hermione did that. Probably.
if she doesn't make any noises, that's a bad sign?" Ron said. Harry
found himself checking the windows to see if they were securely closed.
Ron looked to be in the mood to practise Quidditch without a broom, and
Harry didn't want his friend getting any ideas.
"Er, well, I don't know, do I? What happened, anyway?"
all your fault, anyway," Hermione said. Ginny had given up any pretense
of the problem being high on her list of priorities and was leaning
against a pillar, trying to recapture the sleep from which she'd been
rudely awakened a second time when Hermione's nerve had failed her.
you hadn't shown up just then, we wouldn't have had to run into the
Room of Requirement. What were you doing up there, anyway?"
Ginny's eyes flicked open. "We were going to the Room of Requirement," she said, a touch resentfully.
eyes widened. "Oh. Oh! Oh. Well. . . Er. . . Well, you seemed to be
coping with being in the common room when we saw you," she rallied.
Ginny flushed slightly. "At least I'm not embarrassed to admit to Harry that I like him."
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "No, but it took you four years to do it," she said.
"You had five years," Ginny growled. "So let's not start down that path."
two friends glared at one another, a silent war going on between them.
Then the corner of Ginny's mouth quirked, and Hermione broke into a
"Oh dear, listen to us! We must sound dreadful."
"Yeah. Can you imagine how big Harry and Ron's heads would get if they could hear us now?
you asked her out and she said yes? What in Merlin's name are you
worried about? She agreed to go out with you, Ron. She's your
girlfriend, you prat."
For a moment, Ron looked hopeful for a moment, then shook his head. "You didn't see what she looked like when I asked her."
"What did she look like?"
took a deep breath, and pulled a face that, to Harry's mind, resembled
either that of a stranded guppy fish or someone who had been pleasantly
surprised. He rolled his eyes.
"You think she didn't like you asking her out, but you kissed her anyway?"
"Look, I just wanted to kiss her once, alright? And. . ." his face fell.
"And it was really good. I don't reckon I was the first bloke she's kissed. Krum must have taught her, I guess."
"Did you enjoy it?"
Hermione blushed, then nodded.
"Was he your first. . ?"
"Ginny! You know he was. We don't all have boys flocking around us like you do."
"I wish. Well, not anymore, I suppose, but one boy is hardly a flock, Hermione."
"What about Dean?"
"We were never more than friends. I just said I fancied him to wind Ron up."
"Ginny Weasley, that was devious!"
"Well, it was worth it to see Ron's face. Speaking of which, shouldn't you be snogging his face off right now?"
can't!" Hermione half-wailed, half whispered. "I came on so strong to
him last night! What if he was just sparing my feelings?"
"Ron wouldn't do that, Hermione. He wouldn't know how. He always says the first thing in his head when he has to talk about emotions."
"He's not as bad as that," Hermione protested
"Hey, wasn't it you who reckoned he had the emotional depth of a tablespoon?"
"Teaspoon," Hermione corrected with a sigh. "But last night. . ."
"Hermione, for Merlin's sake, just go and give my brother a snog that he won't forget!"
"What? No way, Potter!"
already kissed her once," Harry sighed. "At least," he amended, as Ron
opened his mouth to assert his male pride. Harry plucked off his
glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Look, are you a Gryffindor
Ron's mouth flapped open and shut several times, but he said nothing.
"Oh, bloody hell. I'll just go and tell Hermione you're not interested anymore then, shall I?"
got up and strode across the dormitory, awaiting a panicked yell from
Ron. With his hand on the doorknob, he turned to look at his friend,
who had dropped back onto his bed, one arm lying across his eyes.
"Yeah, go. And get the ruddy Sorting Hat while you're at it. I think a spell in Hufflepuff is what I need right now."
"No good. You'd still have to see Hermione in Herbology."
"I'll drop it. I was never going to pass all six NEWTs anyway."
"Ron, don't be an idiot."
"I'm not an idiot. I was an idiot last night, kissing Hermione. I'm not making that mistake again."
"You're not going to kiss Hermione again?"
"Definitely not. But I meant that I'm not going to get ideas above my station."
"Ideas above your station? Ron, you've lost it, mate."
"Oh, Ginny, leave me alone," Hermione said, pacing back and forth on the landing.
"Well excuse me! You're the one who dragged me out of bed, Hermione. I'm giving you some good advice here."
"It's not good advice! I'm not going to walk up to Ron and start kissing him again!"
"Why not? I'd do it to Harry."
"But. . . But you and Harry are. . ."
"Are what? Sure that we like each other? So are you and Ron! He's probably waiting for you downstairs right now!"
Hermione paused. "Do you really think so?"
"Of course," Ginny declared. "Now, go downstairs!"
"Are you mad?"
"What harm can it do? If she's not down there, then you can just come back up and go back to bed. And so can I," Harry grumbled.
"All right, but you're coming down too."
"Yeah, sure, whatever," Harry said.
on, then," Ginny said. She followed her bushy-haired friend down the
stairs, stopping on the last step as Hermione looked quickly around and
"You see he's not here you were right I can go back to bed sorry to wake you I-"
"Someone's coming," Ginny said, completely blocking Hermione's escape route despite her small frame.
"Ginny, please! What if it's-"
"Ron! Just look!"
"Forget it. This was a bad idea, Harry. We should just go back to bed."
pulled a face and put his hand in the small of Ron's back. He shoved as
hard as he could, sending his friend stumbling down the stairs and
drunkenly staggering into the common room.
appeared at the foot of the stairs to the boys' dormitories, lurching
forward as though about to lose his balance. Hermione stepped forward
to catch him, but then changed her mind and spun around to dash pack
Hermione glared at the locked door, angry at Ginny for locking it, angry at herself for leaving her wand in her dormitory.
As soon as Ron regained his balance, he spun around and leapt at the door to the boys dormitory.
Harry was fractionally quicker, slamming the door in his friend's face.
"Colloportus!" was Harry's only reply. Ron rattled the doorknob uselessly before scowling at the closed door.
it dawned on Ron and Hermione that they were alone in the common room
together, and that their ways back upstairs had been locked closed.
threw a quick glance at the portrait hole, but knew he'd have to walk
past Hermione there, and then he couldn't very well pretend he hadn't
seen her in her pink and blue striped dressing gown.
looked sideways at the portrait hole, but the idea of walking around
Hogwarts in her pink and blue dressing gown was marginally more
horrible than the idea of being alone with Ron at that precise moment.
"Er. . . Good morning," Hermione said, her voice, in her opinion, sounding treacherously high.
"'Morning," Ron croaked. Stupid voice!
"Did you sleep well?" Hermione enquired, rather formally.
"Er. . . Very well, thank you," Ron lied. "And yourself?"
"Oh, you know. . ."
"Right. So. . ."
"Er. . . Are you locked out as well?" Ron asked, nodding at the door to the girls' dormitory.
Hermione asked, turning and looking blankly at the door before she
remembered that, yes, she had been locked out and, no, she wasn't in
the common room entirely by choice. "Oh, yes, Ginny locked me out. A
"Funny. Harry did the same to me."
"It's very silly of them."
"Yeah. I mean, if they'd locked themselves in here, I could understand. They'd have a reason for that."
Hermione looked at him. "Did Harry have a reason for locking you in here?"
"Well. . ." Ron rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "I sort of mentioned last night."
Ron looked slightly ill. "You told my sister that we. . . that we were. . ."
"Didn't you want her to know?" Hermione asked, looking hurt. "Are you embarrassed?"
No! 'Course not! I told Harry, didn't I? It's just that Ginny'll let
Bill and the others know, and then I'll be for it."
"Would you rather I hadn't said anything, then? Would you rather I'd pretended that it hadn't happened?"
Ron paused before answering, biting back his immediate reply and taking a deep breath.
"I'd rather you hadn't spoken to Ginny-"
"Ginny's my best friend, Ron. And you spoke to Harry!"
"I needed Harry's advice!"
"Why is it okay for you to ask Harry for advice and not for me to ask Ginny?"
looked at her incredulously. "Because I wanted Harry's advice on
whether I'd come on too strong last night, kissing you and everything."
Hermione's response to this was going to be, she didn't say it.
Instead, her mouth constricted into a small 'O' of surprise which
emitted no sound.
They stared at each other. Ron's cards were on the table and it was time, Hermione knew, for her to show her hand.
"I. . . I don't think it was," she said, at last.
"You don't?" Ron asked, a faint ray of hope peeking through the cloud of despair that had, until then, clouded his expression.
In fact, I thought it was about right. And very nice as well," Hermione
replied, her knees trembling beneath her dressing gown.
"Oh. You really liked it?" Ron asked.
"Yes," Hermione replied, blushing furiously.
"Oh. Er, I liked it too," Ron said. "A lot, I mean. Er."
"Good. I'm. . . pleased to hear that."
"Yeah, so. . ."
"Ron? What. . . Er. . . What are we?"
He looked at her, thunderstruck. This wasn't a question that he'd been anticipating, but he rallied. "We're, well, we're us, Hermione. You and me. We're, well, look, do you still want to go out with me?"
"Yes," Hermione replied simply.
"Good. Well, that's what we are. We're together."
Hermione smiled. Ron grinned.
Ginny banged on the door to the girls dormitory.
"Oi! Are you two decent? People in here need their breakfast!"
Hermione's eyes widened, but Ron forestalled anything she might have said by taking her hand and squeezing it. She smiled.
"We probably should get dressed," she said.
"Yeah," Ron said, looking down at his too-short pyjamas. "So, want to go down to breakfast together?"
"I'd like that."
"Good. See you in a few minutes, then," he said, not making any move to release Hermione's hand.
"Yes. I'll, er, well, I'll be needing my hand," Hermione said. Genius! He's holding your hand and you try and take it back!
"Oh, right," Ron said. He slowly released it, letting his fingers trail across Hermione's palm and being rewarded with a shiver.
There was another banging on the door. They ignored it.
"You've got ten seconds!" Ginny yelled.
Ron and Hermione stared at one another.
Ron looked down at the floor.
Hermione wrung her hands.
Ron rubbed the back of his neck.
Ron looked up, just as Hermione looked down.
Ron clenched his hands into fists.
Hermione took a step forwards, hesitantly.
Ron reached out, in a series of jerky motions, his hand stretching towards Hermione's face, cupping it gently.
Hermione's eyes fluttered shut.
Ron leaned forward, his breath catching in his throat.
door to the boys' dormitory banged open. Hermione and Ron jumped apart
as Dean and Neville came through the doorway, muttering about Harry and
stupid times to put Locking Charms on doorways.
door to the girls' dormitory banged open and Ginny, Parvati, Lavender
and a number of other girls spilled out into the common room.
"Er. . ."
"See you in a few minutes. . ." Hermione said quietly.
"Yeah," Ron gave a small smile. "Can't wait."
Hermione grinned, and then swept up the stairs to her room, ignoring Ginny's grin.
Ron went up to his room, grinning to himself and shutting the bathroom door in Harry's face as he went for a shower.
The Daily Prophet
carried its usual daily mix of news, sport, nonsense and rumour. Copies
were passed around the house tables freely as huge amounts of food were
consumed. Students bickered, argued, whispered and laughed. The
teachers watched it all, talking amongst themselves.
as usual amongst the residents of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry. All, that is, except for Hermione and Ron, who were sitting
slightly closer together, with Ron's hand on Hermione's fleetingly at
points during the meal, a touch that was always met with a shy smile
shared between the two of them.
The end of the meal came, and
Harry and Ron had Care of Magical Creatures while Hermione had Ancient
Runes and Ginny had Transfiguration. They got up, ready to depart. Ron
squeezed Hermione's hand, Harry pecked Ginny on the cheek.
The boys were about to go one way, the girls the other, when Hermione called Ron back.
Looking determined, she stood up on tiptoe and kissed the corner of Ron's mouth.
"You, er, you had a bit of food. . ." she said, flushing and stammering slightly.
Ron looked momentarily thunderstruck, but he smiled.
"Right," he said. "Thanks."
"Anytime," Hermione replied, as Harry and Ginny walked out of the Hall. "We should be gong. We'll be late."
"Right. Yeah. See you later?"
turned, and looked back. Ron walked forward, bent down slightly and
kissed her softly, holding the kiss for as long as he dared.
"You, er," he said, as he straightened up. "You, well, I just wanted to kiss you," he admitted.
"Thanks," she said, struggling to control the huge smile threatening to spread across her entire face.
"Anytime," he replied, grinning widely.
they parted, glancing back over their shoulders to watch each other
leave, each quite certain now that they'd done exactly the right thing.