"Two weeks, three days, four hours, and nineteen and one-half minutes left. Gosh, I can't believe it!" gushed Lavender, with a silly, goofy grin writ large on her countenance. "I mean, did you even realise…."
"Honestly, Lavender, the entire Gryffindor population has the statistical countdown to Valentine's Day memorised, what with you chanting it like a mantra every other minute since New Year day," Hermione sarcastically answered, her head still buried in her Arithmancy textbook. There were quite a few sniggers at this, and Lavender scowled at Hermione's bent head before looking towards Parvati for comfort, who was trying to contain a grin and look sympathetic at the same time.
"Hermione, just because your only interest in life is to bury yourself in books doesn't mean that the rest of us…," Lavender began in a put on, highly suffering voice, "should…."
"Who said Hermione's only interest in life is books? How about books and Ron?" Ron walked into the common room, still in his Quidditch robes, his deep voice sending shivers down Hermione's spine.
She looked up, her face breaking into a smile, so brilliant, that Ron, as he walked towards her, felt all his tiredness roll away. Her smile, so filled with joy just at seeing him, lent her eyes a sparkle, which lent her face a beauty, that in his eyes, no one else could compare to; not Parvati, who was one of the prettiest girls in their year with her picture perfect face, always made up perfectly; not Lavender; not even Ginny, even though he had to grudgingly admit that Ginny, over the past two years, had become quite pretty. But Hermione was the only one who made him feel …totally special and loved.
He reached her chair and pulled her up easily into his arms and kissed her, his Nimbus 2002 falling unnoticed to the ground. She all but melted into his arms, her lips soft and responsive, and Ron tightened his hold on her, deepening the kiss until catcalls around the common room brought them both to their senses. As Hermione blushed wildly, and Ron looked amused (but his ears still turned red), he tilted her chin towards him and mouthed, "I love you" before dropping a kiss on her forehead and running upstairs saying that he would be back once he'd changed. Hermione sighed, her face still flushed and sank back into her couch, her Arithmancy book forgotten for a change.
Lavender looked on with a shade of envy on her face. Seamus was never this romantic. "Wow Hermione, you guys are something. What a spark, huh?" teased Parvati. "I never knew Ron was like…well, you know, this! I must tell Padma what she missed out on."
"Ha ha, very funny, Parvati," murmured Hermione, her face still very pink.
Lavender opened her mouth to say something when Neville interrupted her. "Uhh, Hermione, have you seen Ginny anywhere? I've been looking for her for ages."
Before Hermione could reply, Lavender butted in with a smirk, "Whhhyyyy Neville, I thought you and Loony Luna were an item now. Why are you desperately seeking Ginny?" Hermione snorted and rolled her eyes at Parvati.
"Oh, stuff it, Lavender", Neville said sharply. The last two years had done wonders for his self esteem and he was so much more confident now, with work and with friends; he felt great. "Ginny was going to help me make the most wonderful Valentine present for Luna," Neville explained to Hermione, ignoring Lavender's, "Aww….ww cho chweet Nevvy boy."
"She was at Quidditch practice," Hermione informed Neville, smiling at him, "she should be here any minute."
Seamus came into the room and plunked himself next to Lavender, still in his Quidditch robes, nearly pushing her off the couch. "Don't push so hard, ow," complained Lavender.
"Sorry love", he tweaked her nose and kissed her. She looked mollified and sank back against him. The portrait hole opened again and Harry walked in, hair still damp from the shower and Firebolt in one hand. "Has Ginny come in?" he enquired, walking towards the group.
Hermione shook her head, "No, I thought she'd come in with you. Ron came in sometime ago and he's upstairs taking a shower."
"Harry, the atmosphere sizzled with the kiss Ron just gave our dear Head Girl," informed Dean mischievously, lounging comfortably next to Parvati. Harry grinned at Hermione's pink face as she threw a cushion at Dean, who caught it laughing.
Harry sank into the couch next to Dean and stretched lazily. All of them were relaxing with a hot cup of cocoa when Parvati and Lavender started discussing Valentine's Day plans. Ron groaned theatrically. "Lavender, really, we know what Seamus and you will be doing this Valentine Day …the same as you did last year…and the year before that! Snog, snog and then snog some more."
Everyone laughed; Lavender turned and kissed Seamus noisily, and Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron. "Honestly, did you have to say the ‘S' word in Lavender's presence?"
"So, you guys, what are you planning?" Parvati asked Hermione and Ron.
Hermione looked at Ron and smiled, "Well it's actually a secret. I've planned a surprise for him this year."
"Oh well, lucky Ron," said Parvati, turning towards Dean and saying sternly, "You better take a page from her book and surprise me."
Dean stood up, knelt before her, caught her hand in his and made a great show of bowing over it. "Your slightest wish is my command, my lady." He then kissed her hand, making sloppy noises.
"Dolt," Parvati murmured affectionately, pulling him back next to her. He was really sweet.
Harry wrinkled his nose. "What is that smell?" he asked suddenly.
Lavender shrieked and moved away from Seamus yelling, "Seamus Finnigan, get out of those smelly Quidditch robes, shower and only then come back."
Seamus frowned at Harry, "Potter, why did you have to mention that? Okay okay, Lav, honey, I'm going." He rushed up the stairs.
"I wonder what Ginny's caught up with," wondered Harry. "It's past curfew time. I'll just go get her before she gets stuck with Filch, or worse Snape." Harry stood up, slightly concerned, handed his Firebolt to Ron, walked towards the portrait hole and smiled at Ron's parting crack of "Potter, get my sister back to her dorm and not to the Astronomy tower or the Head Boy's room, okay"
Harry turned at the portrait hole. "You can wish, Weasley," he retorted and walked out.
Hermione smiled at Ron. "Ron, why don't you come with me and help patrol the North tower, now that Harry will be too busy," she said and winked at him.
They walked out of the portrait hole and into the Head Girl's room. They sat in Hermione's bedroom, kissing, until Ron spoke. He was seated on the bed, leaning against the cushions, Hermione's head in his lap. He stroked her hair gently. "Hermione," he said, "You know I love you, don't you?"
She nodded and replied "And I, you."
He smiled. "We'll finish school this year, and you'll go into the Ministry and me into Auror training with Harry."
She nodded again.
"Well, the thing is that since I'll be away training for a year, we won't see each other for the better part of next year."
She nodded again, her eyes growing sad suddenly.
"And," he continued, "this year will be tough, for all of us, especially Harry. I don't even know if we'll see…"
Hermione placed her finger against his lips, stopping the words she dreaded to even think about. "Ron," she whispered, tears running down her cheeks, "don't…please."
"The thing is, Hermione, I love you so much, I have to ask you this now. If we come through all this alright, will you marry me next fall, when I come on leave from training?"
She sat up slowly, tears still pouring down her cheeks. He put his hand into his pocket and drew out a ring, a diamond glittering in the centre of a cluster of amethysts. "It's Grandmother's betrothal ring. Mum gave it to me over the Christmas holidays when I told her what I wanted to do. She's very happy, Hermione. She said you're the one for me."
Hermione clung to him suddenly. "Oh Ron, Oh Ron," she repeated his name.
He pulled back and wiped her tears before saying, "I would feel like a King if you, Hermione Granger, would consent to be my wife," very formally.
She laughed (Ron had memorised her favourite lines from the Muggle movie, "Ever After", which they'd watched together last summer) and shouted, "Yes," just as Ron pulled her off the bed and swung her around. She laughed as she thought about the surprise that she had planned for Ron on Valentine's Day. Now it seemed even more perfect. She would be his fiancée, after all.