Disclaimer: It's all JKR's
Set at the end of the summer
before the Trio's fifth year at Hogwarts
Ron marched into the living room at The Burrow, a look of determination
on his face. He spotted Hermione right away, sitting in an armchair, reading
through one of their fifth-year textbooks. He advanced on her, drawing
his wand. Before she could take notice of his presence, he gestured towards
her with it, saying, “Finite Incantatem.”
A small rip opened at the hem of Hermione’s walking shorts, one that
he had watched his mother repair two days before, after Hermione had caught
it on a bush in their yard. Otherwise, there was no change. Ron stared
at her owlishly. Hermione looked down at the tear, then back up at Ron
“Why did you do that? We’re not supposed to use magic over the summer!
Now I’ve got to fix it all over again,” she complained.
Ron continued to look at her, looking for other changes that he had at
first missed, but finally replied, “We tend to get away with it here.
There’s no real reason for the Ministry to suspect any magic here, because
it’s a wizarding house.”
“Fine, Ron,” said Hermione, sounding irritated, “but that still
doesn’t explain why you just cast that spell on me.”
Ron finally stopped staring and said, “Nothing. No reason.” His voice
softened, “Sorry, do you want me to fix that for you?”
While he had been speaking, Hermione had rummaged for her own wand, and
quickly fixed the tear again. “You must have had some reason to dispel
any magic on me. Did you see something unusual? Did Fred or George try
one of their Wheezes out on me?” They’d been trying to trick Hermione
into being their guinea pig since shortly after she’d arrived at the house.
“No,” Ron stammered, “nothing like that. Just…just forget about it, alright?”
Hermione gave him a look that had to mean, ‘you’re nutters!’ but stopped
questioning him. “Alright, Ron, I’ll drop it. Are you ready to go for
“Sure,” said Ron, “Harry said he’d meet us out front.”
“Okay, let’s go then,” she said, collecting up her bag and leading the
Ron followed, still looking confused. Hermione had not had any spells
on her to dispel, but that just didn't make any sense!
~ * ~
It had started when she’d come to the Burrow for the last two weeks of
the holiday. Hermione had appeared in the fireplace and all it took was
one look for Ron to realise that there was something different about her.
His mouth had gone dry immediately and his welcoming ‘hello’ had stuck
in his throat. And it wasn’t just the Muggle clothes she had been wearing,
no matter how scandalous they were compared to their Hogwarts robes.
Hermione hadn’t seemed to be similarly afflicted, as she had closed the
distance between them and given Ron a very large and extremely unnerving
but completely wonderful hug.
It wasn’t Ron’s first hug from Hermione. She'd made a habit of hugging
him, when times were stressful, after all. It was, however, the first
time he’d ever noticed how soft the skin on her arms was, how nice her
hair smelled, faintly of green apples, or how well she fit against him,
her head falling just under his chin. It was also the first time he’d
noticed that there was a distinct something between them, something
soft and decidedly feminine and also decidedly off limits, no matter how
many times his mind wandered back to the feeling of Hermione’s chest pressed
against his own.
It hadn’t stopped there, either. She had come to a picnic that Ginny
had put together wearing a pair of denim shorts that were very nearly
indecent, showing off the lower third of her thighs, and Ron had
stared at her legs for nearly a quarter of an hour, entirely losing the
thread of the conversation that Harry, Hermione and Ginny were having.
In retrospect, it hadn’t made a bit of sense. They were just legs for
Circe’s sake! But Hermione had lain down next to him, her chin propped
on her palms, and he couldn’t help but look. They had these curves in
such interesting places, and weren’t pale and sprouting hair like his
own were, but looked soft and were colored like rich double cream, with
occasional chocolate chip freckles here and there.
When Ginny had called him out of his reverie, he’d found himself lightly
stroking the back of the calf closest to him, and Hermione had put her
head down on her crossed arms and looked quite content to be…stroked by
him. He’d jerked his hand back as though stung, and Harry and Ginny had
had a good laugh at his expense, but while Hermione had smiled, she hadn’t
laughed at him. He was quite grateful for that, and for the fact that
she rolled away from him and sat up, so that her legs weren’t quite so
available. Especially when Harry kept giving him knowing looks.
He’d been able to keep control of himself for the rest of the picnic,
and even teased Hermione a bit, just like old times. She had told him
off as fiercely as ever, but there was something strange about the look
in her eyes. By the time the four of them had packed up the leftovers
from their lunch, Ron felt pretty good about his ability to stay in control
of himself and stop thinking strange thoughts about Hermione. And then
it had fallen all apart again.
Hermione and Ginny had headed off first, with Harry and Ron trailing,
Harry carrying the blanket on which they’d been sitting, Ron the basket.
Glancing ahead, Ron had caught sight of Hermione. He’d tilted his head
to the right, slightly, as he’d watched her walk. He’d never once noticed,
in nearly four years of friendship, the way that Hermione’s hips swayed
when she walked. Of course, most of that time he’d seen her in voluminous
black robes, so he had had an excuse, but no longer. She was hippier than
Ginny, maybe even what you’d call curvaceous. It was hypnotic, watching
Hermione’s muscles slide smoothly under the denim. And very…sexy?
Ron had noticed what he was doing, just where he was staring and what
he was thinking, and immediately felt his ears heat. He’d looked rapidly
away, and started looking at the trees and the garden around him in what
he hoped was a nonchalant way. Harry, walking beside him, had looked fit
to burst. He’d given Harry a withering look, daring him to make a sound,
and walked faster so as to avoid looking at Harry altogether.
The rest of the summer had proceeded in much the same way, with Ron vacillating
between complete control and an apparent leave of his senses. One minute
he’d be giving Hermione a hard time about having been made a prefect,
and all the trouble they were going to have to avoid because of it, and
the next he found himself watching her reading, of all things,
and reaching over to push a lock of her soft, wavy, brown hair out of
her face and behind her ear for her. She had glanced over at him and smiled
so sweetly that his heart had skipped.
Fred and George had nearly wet themselves with laughter when, out of
the blue, he’d pushed Hermione’s chair in for her at the dinner table.
Unable to leave well enough alone, Fred had theatrically pushed a giggling
Ginny’s chair in and George followed suit with their mum’s and even Harry’s.
At that same meal, however, he’d hardly spoken to Hermione, having become
engaged in an argument over Quidditch with Harry and George.
It had taken until yesterday for him to find out what was going on. He’d
almost walked in on a conversation between Hermione and Ginny, but stopped
himself, content to listen and watch from the doorway.
Ginny had been hugging herself with apparent glee. “I’ve certainly never
seen him act like this, that’s for sure. Even about that Cannons chaser,
Elizabeth something-or-other, that he had a crush on back when he was
younger. He’s smitten, Hermione.”
Hermione’s cheeks had gone pink, but she'd seemed quite happy. “Mum said,
‘Just use your feminine charms,’ and I guess she was right!”
Ron had quietly fumed in the doorway. Charms! She’d used magic on him,
to get him to fall for her. That explained everything! Why he’d been such
a prat about her lately, and why she was letting him be a prat. She’d
used a love charm on him.
So he’d made his plan then, and waited until this morning to try it out.
And it had failed. Where did that leave him? There wasn’t any magic on
Hermione, and he’d already cast it on himself. So why, oh why, had he
been acting this way?