Disclaimer: I own very little and the brilliant world of Harry Potter is not on that short inventory list.
A/N: This story is a companion to my very first fan fic “Firelight and Fiery Tresses”. Since they are both quite fluffy, it is not at all imperative to read the first to understand the second. It’s just fun!
Hermione Granger is an early riser. While it’s true that there are several advantages associated with this habit that appeal to her practical nature, the simple fact is that it’s her favourite time of day. She loves watching the day break across the sky and enjoys the solitude and serenity of the Gryffindor common room before the chaos of daily life erupts. It’s a habit she acquired from her parents at an early age so she was surprised to find, upon her first morning at Hogwarts, that it was not a habit shared by many people. In fact, in her six years there, she’d only ever encountered one other student during her early mornings in the common room. Since Percy Weasley had finished school, she had the common room to herself for two, sometimes three hours every morning where she would indulge herself in reading for pleasure rather than study. So finding someone in the common room this morning was unusual; finding two people was rarer still and on closer inspection, finding these two particular people cuddled in a chair by the dying fire, was fairly shocking.
Of course, they’d all become accustomed to seeing Ginny soothing and comforting Harry during the summer. She had been the only one that he’d reached out to after he had plunged into the abyss of despair, guilt, and grief. Hermione was still embarrassed by the twinge of hurt she’d felt when he had chosen to open up to Ginny rather than to her and Ron. She was ashamed of herself for it and didn’t tell anyone how she’d felt, however briefly. Harry had desperately needed someone to open up to, even if he didn’t think so, and Ginny’s straightforward, no nonsense attitude had done the trick. This cuddling was a new development, though not an unwelcome one. She had hoped they would get together, but she knew Ginny’s history with him would prevent her from taking action and she didn’t think that Harry, who was at times painfully shy, would make the first move.
Looking at the sleeping couple, Prefect and best friend battled against one another. The Prefect knew that they were in a somewhat compromising position, but the best friend knew that peaceful sleep had been elusive for both of them, Harry especially. In the end, the best friend won. She decided to let them sleep for a little while longer and settled herself in a nearby chair. They’re not really alone now that I’m here and it’s unlikely anyone will come down here in the next hour or so anyway.
The book that she’d brought down with her was not holding her interest. Her mind wandered, which was an oddity since she is not prone to daydreaming or flights of fancy. Her gaze again fell on the snuggling twosome. She was thrilled for them both, but slightly worried about what Ron would think. His little sister was currently nestled in his best mate’s lap, her head on his left shoulder and a hand resting on his chest. Harry had both of his arms around Ginny, holding onto her like a life preserver even in his sleep. Seeing them like that made her smile and recall the beginning of her own still relatively new development with Ron.
It was the end of last term after the Department of Mysteries incident; she woke suddenly not knowing where she was. She did know a few things: that it was dark but there were no bed curtains so she wasn’t in her dormitory; that she was extremely comfortable and warm despite the burning pain in her chest; and that there was an arm — one that was not her own — draped over her stomach. She moved her hand to delicately touch the bandage that was on the forearm. She was fairly certain whom the arm belonged to but failed to comprehend why it and its owner were in bed with her. Focusing on trying to recall the last few hours, some of it started coming back to her: the Ministry, Death Eaters, Silencing Charm, fire in her chest, blackness, Madam Pomfrey, hospital wing. That’s where I am, everyone made it alive. Everyone that is, except Sirius. Oh, Harry…
No! Don’t think about it now. She pushed the too painful thoughts aside. She still couldn’t explain the arm.
Looking at the mysterious appendage, her heart skipped a little bit. It felt so right to have it around her middle. She wanted to see his face so she turned very carefully for fear that the arm’s owner would wake up. She wasn’t ready to talk to him just yet. He was on his side sharing her pillow and mere inches from her. Taking the opportunity to study his face, she wondered how it is that someone so completely infuriating could look so sweet and innocent while he slept. Her emotions were swirling around inside of her like a cyclone. She needed to think and she needed to get her breathing under control as well as the pounding heart his proximity created.
What am I going to do about you, Mr. Weasley?
She’d convinced herself that Ron couldn’t possibly have feelings for her, if only just to get through every day in his presence. It was incredibly vexing to be able to read other people like her precious books but the one person she needed to see into was not open to her. Maybe it was her own insecurities that created the barrier. Could he love her? The fact that he’s lying here with me must mean something.She wanted to be certain because she couldn’t risk losing his friendship for anything, certainly not because of a failed experiment in teen romance.
The fact is he’s worth the risk. If he doesn’t feel the same we can work it out somehow.
Certainly they bickered like an old married couple, which had been pointed out to them on more than one occasion. She had a feeling that their bickering was more of frustration and habit than anything else. The truth is that she enjoyed it more often than not. They just loved to push each other’s buttons. She didn’t have to write Viktor Krum long letters in Ron’s presence but she did it anyway knowing full well how it would be received. She knew she should be ashamed for the satisfying thrill it gave her when his jealousy surfaced, but she wasn’t. It occurred to her that the sometimes too passionate responses could be a release for the feelings they were harboring for each other. That was true for her anyway.
Unable to resist any longer she reached up and used her fingertip to trace his features. Lightly traveling along his expressive eyebrows, then down his long nose, over his cheek, along his jaw and then over his lovely lips.
Everything is different now isn’t it love?
They’d almost died and that made for a powerful change in perspective. She suddenly realized there was more to it than her fear of being rejected by him. She loved him so completely, so deeply that it scared her. Now having faced death, she knew it would be far more frightening to never share these feelings with him. She resolved to show him.
It’s time to wake Sleeping Beauty. She giggled nervously at the idea.
She tipped her face closer to him to brush her lips against his. The kiss was feather soft and most definitely one-sided. She did it again, pouring a bit more of her swirling emotions into it. This time, he kissed her back sweetly, tenderly, and so lovingly it brought tears to her eyes. It was the most amazing kiss she’d ever had. Well, it was the only kiss she’d ever had but her lack of experience did not diminish its perfection. Ron slowly opened his sleepy eyes.
“Mione? I thought I was dreaming.”
Merlin, he’s adorable. She briefly considered giving him a hard time about finding him in her bed but abandoned the idea when she saw the look in his eyes. There was love there yes, but also some pain and uncertainty. She kissed him again so he would know without question how things were going to be. There was more heat in this kiss and Hermione got a taste of the passion she’d always suspected was in him. More layers were added to the already full-to-bursting love she felt for him. She felt giddy at his response and moaned into the kiss when she felt his tongue exploring her mouth, thrilled with the new sensation. She pulled him as tightly to her as her wound would allow and that arm, the beautiful freckled arm, wound around her back gently pressing her closer to him. He moved the kiss from her mouth to her jaw then to her neck, which made her gasp with pleasure. He placed another kiss – adding a slight nibble -- in the same tender spot and Hermione shivered; the sensation sent an electric charge throughout her body. She whimpered softly when his lips left her neck.
They both sat up and he looked at her with something akin to wonderment. She looked at him quite bashfully considering her wanton act.
“Hermione, I never dreamed … well I mean I’ve had dreams about… er, bloody hell…” he stammered as his ears burned bright red. He cleared his throat and started again. “That was incredible and well, I needed to tell you something and wow, that makes it loads easier. I never thought that you’d ever care for me like that. You’re beautiful and brilliant. I’m nobody. Harry is the hero, and that grouchy git Krum is a famous Quidditch player. How could I compete against that when I’m nothing? I’m not a hero, I’m not famous, I don’t come from a posh family, I’m not particularly good looking and everything that I could possibly achieve at school has been done first by one or all of my brothers. I’m just a tall bloke with freckles and a foul temper.”
Hermione started to protest but he waved her off, took her hands in his and continued with a determined look on his face. “I know that I don’t deserve you and that I drive you mad most of the time. When I thought I’d lost you, nothing else mattered. I wanted to die myself. They lifted that hex off of me and I saw you lying there so still… I just… I thought it was too late. I didn’t believe them at first when they said you were okay but then I realized that this was my second chance. I needed to tell you how I… how much… Hermione, I love you. I know that I’ve done nothing to deserve you but I will do everything I can to protect you and keep you safe. I would willing give my life to protect yours because mine means nothing if you’re gone. I’m never letting go of you because I never want to feel that way again.”
Hermione launched herself at Ron and hugged him. They stayed that way for several minutes crying softly together. She pulled back slightly to see his face and wiped the tears off of his cheek. “Listen to me Ronald Weasley”, she said softly but firmly, “I never want to hear you say that you are nothing again. I don’t give a flip about Quidditch or being famous. I happen to love your family and honestly Ron, how dare you think for a moment that money means anything to me.”
She put her fingers on his lips to stop him from interrupting. “As for being a hero, yes Harry is thrust into that role often. He doesn’t have a choice it seems, but you Ron do have a choice. Yet you always choose to stay by his side or to stand up for me. That’s what makes you a hero. You don’t walk away even though you could. You’re my hero, my knight and you have been since the day you played the best chess game ever then sacrificed yourself so Harry could move on to save the Stone. I don’t love Harry. Well, I do but he’s like my brother really. I seem to have more of a tender spot for tall, brave, loyal, freckled redheads with foul tempers who don’t know how handsome they really are.” She smiled into his eyes. “I love you, Ronald Weasley. I don’t know when I haven’t. I think we can take care of each other because I can’t bear the thought of being without you either.”
She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him as though her life depended on it and he responded in kind. When they came up for air, Ron flashed a cheeky grin. “I’m a knight, eh?” he said, then blushed furiously to the top of his ears.
Hermione smiled. “You’re my knight, Sir Ronald of Weasley.”
They’d decided to keep this new intimacy quiet for a little while so they could settle into it themselves and sort out what it meant for them. There’d been some discussion about when and what to tell Harry but in the end they’d decided together that he would be much more upset with them for lying. They would make every effort so that Harry didn’t feel like the odd man out.
They’d spent two miserable weeks apart at the beginning of the holiday. Hermione had insisted that she needed to spend some time with her parents. Besides, it was time to fill them in on things she’d been keeping from them about the state of the wizarding world. Continuing to keep them ignorant of the happenings would not keep them safe. Ron had valiantly offered to be by her side when she spoke to them but Hermione had been adamant that she needed to do it on her own. Her parents, trying hard to understand what it all meant, had not taken it very well in the beginning. It had taken her the better part of the first week to convince them that she needed to complete her education at Hogwarts not only for her future but for her own safety. She was already a target and she couldn’t protect herself with half an education. By the end of the second week they had agreed to let her go to the Burrow and then to Grimmauld Place in August. They’d known deep down that their little girl had grown up and that she’d no longer belonged in their Muggle world.
Meanwhile, she had delighted in the letters Ron had sent her during their separation. Especially the descriptions of his activities:
I’ve started a training routine, Hermione! I want to keep my spot on the Quidditch team and be the best Keeper they’ve ever had- better than Wood even. Ginny wants to try out for one of the Chaser positions (since Harry will be playing again). She and I have spent quite a bit of time flying around the orchard and I’ve got to say she’s brilliant! I guess I kind of realized that with Gin hanging around us more and more that were a quartet, not a trio anymore, really, and it feels pretty good. I am really pleased that Gin and me are getting close again.
Anyway, I’m doing this Muggle thing that Charlie told me about called “weight-lifting”, although the way he describes it, it sounds like people actually join special places called fitness centres to do it in. Bit silly really, with loads of heavy stuff just lying about. I’m getting strong just by using some stuff I found in Dad’s shed. I guess it’s time for me to accept the fact that I’m going to be really tall, so I think it’s a good thing if I put on a bit of muscle. Someone’s got to be the brawn of the group, eh? Besides, I want to be able to protect you, Harry and Ginny, you know, if we get into any more tight spots like we did last year.
I hope you like what you see, ‘Mione…
By the time she’d returned to The Burrow she’d been more than happy to show her appreciation for all his hard work. His 6’3” frame had already started to fill out very nicely. Much to her delight, he took great pride in walking around without his shirt on and Hermione blushed prettily whenever she was caught gazing at him, fascinated by the broad shoulders and chest and by the sprinkling of coppery fuzz that dissected his abdomen and pointed like an arrow down into the top of his shorts.
A noise at the top of the stairs brought Hermione back to the common room. The boys’ dormitory door closed with a thunk and the object of her musings made his way down the stairs. Ron’s hair was sleep ruffled and he had chosen once again to appear without a shirt. My goodness, what is it about his chest that short-circuits my brain?
He smiled when he saw her and she stood to greet him. “Morning, love!” he said in the deep, rich voice he had recently settled into.
He picked her up right off the ground so that they were face to face and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Although she’d never admit it aloud, she was thrilled by his strength and the girly protected feeling it gave her. She kissed him deeply and soundly. “Good morning to you too. You’re up early.”
He placed her on her feet. “I woke up and noticed that Harry was gone and I wanted to make sure things were okay.”
Hermione mentally slapped her forehead. That damned distracting chest! She’d forgotten about the pair sleeping across the room. She saw his eyes land on their chair and she put her hands up on his chest, certain he was going to make a scene. “Wait, Ron! Before you say anything, really look at them.”
He looked at Harry and Ginny for a moment, then returned his gaze to her. “’Bout bloody time, yeah?” then he leaned down and gave her a loud smacking kiss.
She was astonished. Merlin, just when I think I can’t possibly love him more than I do, he surprises me.
She couldn’t help but roll her eyes though when he bellowed, “Oi! Potter!! Get my sister off of you and get dressed. I’m starving.”
She smiled encouragingly at the blushing couple then wrapped her arms around Ron’s middle. When he leaned down to kiss her again she whispered, “Thank you, Sir Ronald.”
A/N ~ Thank you Musings for adding so much to this story. You are awesome!