It started with a Squid..
Herding flobberworms for detention, I ask you. Hermione had to hand it to Hagrid, it was inventive if nothing else. Mental, for instance. At least, the unseen presence of Grawp was keeping them safe from the numerous homicidal forest occupants. Thank heavens for small mercies
She could have been working on that essay on invisibility potions, catching up on shrivelling charms or - oh - any number of much more important NEWT related things.
Instead she was out here, in the forbidden forest, with Ron Weasley and three buckets of flobberworms. There were better ways of spending an evening.
She felt a strong desire to drop kick one of the foul brown objects into the depths of the forest. And what she wanted to do to the architect of this unwanted interlude was quite another matter….
Ron was wisely keeping his distance, lurking on the other side of the glade, every so often, casting furtive apprehensive glances in her direction. The more apprehensive, the better, in her opinion. The last time he’d ventured near enough to attempt a reconciliation she’d threatened to upend the slimiest bucket over his head. Perhaps she would just do it anyway. She certainly felt like it.
What had possessed him? It had been a Potions lesson of all things; if he had felt such an apparently overwhelming urge to throw a half-preserved ventacular squid at Malfoy, it might have been best to at least wait until Snape was out of the room. He hadn’t been his fault though that it had bounced off Malfoy and hit Snape right in his miserable face. She grinned, now that wasn’t a sight she would ever forget… Snape and Malfoy covered in mouldering tentacles and slime. One for the Pensieve, alright…
Mind you, it had got where she was now. Detention for sitting next to an unrepentant squid-thrower and almost smiling. She could have cheered though when Malfoy got one too for letting a slimy invertebrate ricochet off his head in the wrong direction. She grinned, Hagrid had him cleaning up Thestral dung somewhere deep in the forest, now that would be a sight to see.
She leant back against the warm tree trunk and half closed her eyes. It was rather a nice glade now she came to think of it: sunlight filtering through the trees and dappling the grass; flobberworms munching contentedly and no doubt dreaming fat contented flobberworm dreams; Ron sprawled out on the warm grass, red hair glinting in the sunlight, eyes fixed on her in that vaguely unsettling way that made her heart beat a little faster.
Rather nicer indeed to sit here on a warm evening than study in the musty library.
Rather nicer indeed to not sit here on your own on such an evening.
She cast a speculative glance at Ron and sighed; it seemed a terrible waste of an evening to be bickering again. She would just have to forgive him for being such an aggravating wart. Until the next time, that was.
He looked up, a wary expression on his face. ‘What is it?’ he said, watching her closely. His eyes flickered to the bucket and back again to her face.
She smiled at him in what she hoped appeared to be a forgiving manner.
He crossed the ground between them with surprising speed and flung himself down next to her. Hermione smiled; that was better.
‘Budge over, let me share that tree!’
She moved up, forbearing to mention that there wasn’t really quite enough room for them both. She tried to ignore the pleasurable thrill that ran right through her as he moved in close and warm. For some reason her heart was hammering fit to burst.
‘Why did you throw that squid at Malfoy?’ she said, fighting to keep her voice level.
Not that she thought there’d have to be a particular reason. Come to think of it, not having the urge to throw decomposing invertebrates at Malfoy was the weird thing.
‘He called you a troll!’ he muttered and looked determinedly away into the trees, ears reddening.
Hermione digested this, unfortunately identifying the logical flaw and being Hermione unable to resist following it through.
‘Malfoy has been calling me worse than a troll since first year and you never threw a squid at him before!’
Ron looked faintly as if he might explode if he got any redder. ‘It never mattered as much before!’ he bit out. ‘Happy now?’
Hermione stared confusedly at the flobberworms, vaguely registering that they seemed to be slightly fewer in number.
Slugs, there was something important about slugs I should remember…
She turned and looked at Ron, who appeared to be trying to memorise an oak tree, root and branch.
Surely this couldn’t mean? Surely…. not after all this time?
She felt warm all over, terrified and happy but all at the same time. Her heart was certainly thundering now.
Had he finally got the point?
‘I didn’t have a squid to hand either!’ he muttered.
She ignored this sign of temporary insanity and moved a bit closer to him, suddenly possessed of a desperate resolution.
He sighed softly and turned his shoulder slightly so that she could lean against him. After a moment, she held her breath and rested her head on his shoulder, curving into his chest. The world seemed just slightly more right than it had before.
They both paid close attention to the scattered flobberworms in a determinedly not-noticing kind of way.
Hermione inched her hand towards his oh-so-casually. He took the bait and closed his hand over hers, large and warm and comforting.
The flobberworms got a whole load more attention.
‘Hermione,’ said Ron, after a while, in a slightly unnatural voice, ‘do you think.. I mean.. could we…’ His voice died.
She reached up and kissed him quickly. Yes, please
They smiled shyly at each other and then, fumbling and bumping noses, deepened the kiss the way she’d dreamed of oh-so-many times. The world stilled to a single moment.
The flobberworms, free at last of such unnerving scrutiny, started a mass exodus for the bushes.
‘Er, Hermione,’ said Ron looking around much later, having recovered somewhat, ‘where are they all? Hagrid is going to kill us!’
‘Who cares?’ she said, reaching up to kiss him again. She was going to have to have words with him later about being able to think about flobberworms at a time like this. But not right now…
Upon reflection, she didn’t think there was any better way of spending an evening after all…