A/N: This was written for a Quote!Fic challenge on Checkmated, in which an assigned
quote had to be incorporated into a R/Hr fic. My quote was: "Nobody will
ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the
enemy." - Henry Kissinger
Many thanks to TheGiantSquid for yet again supplying me with her wonderful beta skills.
Reviews are always welcome and appreciated. Happy reading!
Engaging the Enemy
"Hermione, the plates!"
Jumping at Mrs. Weasley’s shrill cry, Hermione flung out her wand and caught
a precariously high stack of plates just as it began to totter. She wiped her
brow and sighed, glad she’d been quick enough. There
simply wasn’t enough time to cast Reparo on
over a hundred dishes.
"Got them, Mrs. Weasley."
"Thank you, dear," the older woman replied, already distracted by
the multitude of self-stirring pots and the four other bustling people in the
Burrow’s cramped kitchen. As she used her wand to shuffle chopped carrots into
a soup pot, she snapped, "Charles Weasley, get your fingers out of that
cake batter," never turning away from the stove.
"Sorry," said Charlie, grinning. "Forgot
you had eyes in the back of your head."
His mother spared him a grimace. "Best you remember it. You too, Ginny." The youngest Weasley stuck her tongue
back in her mouth and returned to peeling potatoes at the sink.
Hermione sighed again and began drying silverware with the hot stream of air
coming from her wand. It was the morning before Bill and Fleur’s
wedding day, and there was barely time to breathe. In the three days since
they’d arrived at the Burrow – three days since Dumbledore’s funeral – there’d
been so much to prepare for the big day that by the time Hermione was able to
crawl under her covers at night, she fell asleep immediately. She and Ron and Harry hadn’t even had time to discuss their
plans for after the wedding; she knew Harry would want to leave straightaway,
and she couldn’t blame him, but she wanted to have a solid course of action.
Harry made such rash decisions sometimes, based on anger or revenge, and Ron
was usually right there with him, which left Hermione to talk sense into the
both of them. That was never a fun chore.
She spared a glance over her shoulder as she set aside a fork. Ron and Harry
had their heads together while they shelled peas, whispering, and she could
just imagine them coming up with some foolish plan that involved a lot of doing
and not much thinking.
If she could only pull Ron aside at some point and
persuade him to help her keep Harry from running headlong into danger. She knew
Ron would be reasonable if she got to him before Harry filled his head with
some boyish need to be brash. Besides, she wanted to get Ron alone to talk
about something else… and maybe more than talk.
Ron turned his head in her direction then, and Hermione hurriedly picked up
another fork and looked away before they could make eye contact, her heart
Three days ago – they day of the funeral, the day they’d come to the Burrow
– something had happened: a kiss. Not her first, and certainly not Ron’s first,
but their first. Just a rushed, impromptu touching of lips, but it had
been so much more important than that. It had come after the service, when
everyone was rushing around to get ready for the train. Hermione had been the
first one down to the common room with her belongings, which wasn’t very
surprising, and after waiting only a few minutes, Ron had come down, which was
surprising. He’d dropped his trunk and looked at her, and then he’d asked if
she was okay and said he’d hurried down because he hadn’t wanted her to be
alone. A few tears had spilled down her cheeks then, but over all she’d felt
all right, and told him so. Even more all right when
he’d brushed away her tears, placed his palms along her jaw to cradle her head,
and leaned down to kiss her. It had been a short kiss, interrupted by the sound
of Ginny’s trunk thudding down the stairs, but it had been wonderful.
Since then, however, there’d been no opportunity to discuss it – or do it
again, as she very much wanted. And each day that went
by sparked more questions she craved answers to. They’d been overly friendly
and polite, sharing smiles and touching one another’s hands as they passed, but
did it mean more to her than to him? The logical part of her said no, but that
part was being put to the test the longer she had to
wait. Would he kiss her again the next time they were alone? She thought so,
but she wasn’t sure if it would be natural or awkward. Did they need to discuss
what it meant? No, she didn’t think so. Should they tell Harry? She wasn’t
sure. Maybe Ron already had, or maybe Harry had figured it out on his own,
though she couldn’t imagine him putting any effort into thinking about it.
Hermione picked up a handful of spoons and looked over at the boys again.
They weren’t whispering anymore, or shelling peas; rather, Harry was staring at
Ginny and Ron was staring at her, peapods forgotten in their hands. As soon as Ron’s and Hermione’s eyes met, he smiled and turned back to
his task, pinkness creeping up his ears.
"He’s been doing that all week," Ginny whispered beside her.
Hermione hadn’t noticed her scoot closer. "Or I suppose I should say he’s
been doing it for the past two years, but it’s been more obvious this week. I
can’t wait ‘til Fred and George catch on."
"I noticed Harry doing the same to you." Hermione watched Ginny as
the redhead silently finished a potato, wondering if she shouldn’t have said
"In our case it’s much different, though," Ginny said finally,
offering Hermione a smile laced with sadness. She recovered quickly. "You
two need to have a good snog. I bet Mum wouldn’t realize if you pulled him
outside for a few minutes after you’re done."
Hermione let her hair fall to cover her face and pretended to sort out
knives while her cheeks grew less hot, but apparently
her ploy didn’t work.
"You already have, haven’t you?" Ginny prodded with a cheeky grin.
She looked over her shoulder at Ron, who chose that moment to flash Hermione
another shy smile, then nudged Hermione with her elbow and said, "When did
that happen? Why didn’t you tell me before?"
"Shh," Hermione warned frantically.
She glanced back and forth between Ginny and Ron, relieved that he was now
working on his peas.
"He can’t hear us."
"Someone else might," said Hermione, paranoid at the thought of
everyone at the Burrow chatting about her and Ron when she had so many
questions about it herself. Then she’d really be hard pressed
to get a moment alone with him without other people nosing in, and she needed
to discuss Harry with him if nothing else.
Ginny waved her potato peeler dismissively. "They can’t hear us, and
Mum and Harry and Charlie wouldn’t care even if they did."
"Don’t care a lick," came Charlie’s
voice, and Hermione spun to face him, her heart leaping into her throat.
"You look pale, Hermione. Fancy some batter?" He proffered a large
wooden spoon that he’d been using to mix cake ingredients.
Hermione started to shake her head no, but Charlie suddenly reaching up to
clutch his ear, which seemed to have been pulled out
painfully by thin air, interrupted her.
"I can tell you what you’ll be fancying, Charlie, if you don’t take
that cake seriously." Mrs. Weasley flicked her wand, releasing his ear as
if cutting a string. "This isn’t a social hour. If you’re not going to
work, you’re just in my way." She glared in turn at all of them - even Ron
and Harry, who had by this time abandoned their peas
to see what the commotion was, much to Hermione’s chagrin.
There was a chorus of "Sorry, Mum" and "Sorry, Mrs.
Weasley" before everyone went back to their jobs. Hermione kept her head down,
but couldn’t help peeking over at Ron. He was saying something to Harry, then both of them glanced at her. Embarrassed, Hermione
turned back, and her mood did not improve when she saw Ginny smile at her
The chores went quickly and quietly after that. Hermione finished drying the
silverware and moved on to wineglasses, stacking them carefully on the last
remaining worktop space. Her thoughts were on Ginny’s suggestion to get Ron
alone, though she wasn’t thinking of kissing him. Or
not much, anyway. She was now beginning to panic about Harry filling Ron’s head
with harebrained ideas; every time she looked over at them – which seemed to
happen more times than she was conscious of – they had their heads together,
serious expressions on each of their faces. If Harry and Ron cooked something
up between them, she’d be in the loathsome position of trying to talk sense
into them and being in a constant state of distress. She hated when she had to
resort to that – which was more often than was fair – and they always
complained that she was nagging, even when that was clearly not the case.
"Now’s your chance," Ginny said out of the side of her mouth,
breaking Hermione’s reverie.
"Ron and Harry are leaving, the sneaks," Charlie said on her other
side in a ridiculously wistful tone. "Wish I’d got the peas; I could have
been having a nap by now. But no, I’ll probably still be slaving away—"
"Oh, shut up," Ginny cut in. "I’ll finish these for you,
Hermione," she said, taking a glass from her hand.
“I’ll make sure she doesn’t break them,” Charlie said helpfully.
Hermione looked back and forth between them, and she would have laughed at
the way they grinned and encouraged her with nods of their heads, but she was
suddenly too nervous. Then she looked to the other side of the kitchen; Ron and
Harry were just slipping around the corner, eyeing Mrs. Weasley, who was
frowning at two recipes that hung in the air in front of her, mumbling,
"Four eggs… three eggs… no rhyme or reason…" and not paying the escapees
Someone gave her a shove – probably Ginny – and squaring her shoulders, she
took a deep breath and followed the boys. She caught up with them at the end of
the long hallway that led to the stairs and overheard them talking about their
Harry saw her before she could say anything, and smacked Ron’s arm lightly
to draw his attention. "Hey, Hermione, what’s up?"
"Where are you going?" she blurted out. Ron was making her
flustered and he hadn’t even spoken yet.
Harry and Ron shared a quizzical, leery look that only irritated Hermione
more, and Harry said, "Er, just going out for a fly before Ron’s mum
thinks of something else for us to do. Why?"
"I—" she stammered, her eyes meeting Ron’s for a moment and then
settling back on Harry. "I need to talk to Ron."
Ron looked at Harry, who smirked and raised his eyebrows – Hermione tried
her best to ignore it – then said, "Catch up with you in a minute, then,
"Or an hour," Harry returned, but he was smiling, and as he began
walking up the stairs, he and Ron shoved each other into the walls in that way
that meant they were being playful but made absolutely no sense to Hermione.
She was growing more restless by the second, and she was grateful that when Ron
turned back to her, he appeared less mirthful and more serious.
There was a short and uncomfortable silence before Ron said, "So, erm, what did you want to talk to me about?" Hermione
was reassured to hear a hint of nervousness in his voice as well.
"Is there somewhere private we can go?"
That met her with a wide smile – one that seemed strangely giddy and
relieved. "Yeah, c’mon," he said, and reached out and grabbed her
hand to lead her upstairs.
As they approached Percy’s room on the second landing, Hermione heard a
series of thuds – presumably Harry rummaging around for his broom – but Ron
continued to guide her up, occasionally glancing at her and grinning. She
couldn’t help but smile back, butterflies fluttering in her stomach. Ron
stopped on the fourth landing and paused outside a door with scorch marks all
around the jamb. Then, with a last look at Hermione, he put his shoulder
against it and rammed it open. It stuck a bit anyway.
"Why are we in Fred and George’s old room?" Hermione asked as she
maneuvered between two stacks of boxes labeled in multicolored lettering that
flashed "Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes." She was careful not to knock
anything over, the memory of a black eye that couldn’t be charmed away still
too fresh, though it was hard when the room was packed floor to ceiling.
Ron had let go of her hand when he opened the door, and now he shut it
behind him and worked his way over to her. "If Mum comes looking for us,
this is the last place she’ll check." He reached her as he finished saying
it, stumbling over a box that made a hissing sound, and immediately wrapped his
arms around her and dove in for a rather unanticipated and undignified kiss.
Hermione’s arms were trapped quite uncomfortably
between their bodies, and she hadn’t planned to worry about whether they would
kiss again until after discussing Harry, but now that it was happening, she
couldn’t find a coherent thought, let alone a reason to protest.
Ron’s initial voracity decreased to something less sloppy, more patient. He
loosened his arms and lowered them on her back so that she could free hers and
resettle them around his neck. His lips lifted only to pepper hers with tiny
kisses, and then he renewed his efforts in an even deeper kiss, his tongue
meeting hers for the first time.
Just then, there was a whooshing sound, and Hermione broke the kiss,
startled, in time to see Harry and his Firebolt whiz by the small square of
window that wasn’t obscured with boxes. She let go of
Ron entirely then and sighed as she turned her back to him and watched Harry
fly straight for the Quidditch paddock.
"It was just Harry," Ron said right behind her. He embraced her
around her middle and drew her to him. "Must’ve flown
right out Percy’s window."
Hermione wanted to relax into his arms and let him kiss her until Mrs.
Weasley had to physically pull them back to work, but
she knew this may be her only chance to discuss Harry without distractions or
interruptions until after the wedding, and by then it would be too late.
"I didn’t know if you’d want to do this again," he said, cutting
her off, and he began planting kisses on her cheek and the side of her neck.
"I mean, I thought maybe it’d be a one time thing, because you were upset
Hermione smiled, and couldn’t help twisting in his arms to hug him properly.
"Oh Ron, I did too."
"Good thing you made up that pathetic excuse about needing to talk to
me so we could snog – er – kiss, then. I saw right through it," he
laughed, and rested his hands on her hips, thumbs just under her shirt and
caressing the skin at the waistline of her jeans as he swooped in to kiss her
But Hermione ducked out of the way and tried not to
feel guilty when confusion and hurt replaced happiness in his expression.
"There was nothing to see through," she said firmly, for her own
sake, her gaze on his shoulder to avoid the look on his face. "It really
was to talk to you."
"Oh." Ron’s hands fell from her sides and he jammed them into his
pockets. "What is it then? And make it quick – Harry’s waiting for
Hermione winced at the forced apathy in his tone. "Ron, stop it."
"What? I’m not doing anything, unless you mean being stupid,
and I doubt you’ll have any luck helping me there."
Furrowing her brow, Hermione said, "What’s got into you? Wasn’t I just
kissing you back a minute ago?"
Ron shrugged and eyed her askance. "Probably just getting in some more
easy practice," he mumbled.
"Oh, for heaven’s sake." Really, he was
just being silly now. She was of a mind to remonstrate him for getting so
melodramatic, but instead she surged forward, taking in his wide eyes before
she grabbed his ears and pulled his head down so she could kiss him with
everything she knew how, which admittedly wasn’t much.
"There," she panted when she finished. "That’s how much I
don’t want to kiss you." Ron gaped at her, and even looked a little
afraid, which was strangely satisfying.
"Yes, exactly, and if you let me get this talking part taken care of,
I’ll show you again."
"Right," Ron croaked. "So, er, what was it you needed to talk
to me about?"
"He’s outside," Ron answered automatically, his eyes on her lips.
"Pay attention!" Hermione snapped, and wondered if she was saying
it more to Ron or herself. "Have you and Harry… have you been making
plans? For after tomorrow?"
Finally, he met her eyes. "What?"
"Have you two been making plans for what we’ll do after the wedding,
about the Horcruxes?"
"Did you overhear us in the kitchen?" He blushed a bit. "Yeah, sorry about that. We’ll fill you in before we
leave, don’t worry." At that, he moved closer, obviously to try kissing
Hermione wriggled out of his grasp. "You’ll fill me in?"
she said, outraged. "Fill me in right now, Ron!"
"It’s not as serious as all that. Harry just ran his plan by me when he
had the chance. Said he was going to tell you about it tomorrow,
probably." He reached for her again, eyes hungry, but Hermione
evaded him, nearly tripping over a stack of chartreuse order forms.
She shook her head, hair flying in her face. "This is exactly what I
wanted to avoid; you two always make plans without me and then refuse to listen
to my advice. It’s too dangerous a task to go off half-cocked."
Ron sniggered and Hermione glared, sobering him up. "Sorry. I don’t
know what you’re talking about, though, Hermione. When’s the last time we
"Try all of third year and half of this one!"
He had the decency to look ashamed. "That’s different, and we already
went over all that. If you’d have let me finish, I was going to say this time
it’s not about ‘us,’ it’s about Harry, and he made the plans himself. I told
him I was with him – actually that both of us are – so we just have to go along
with his decisions."
It was hard to keep from screaming in frustration. "You may have
meant you’d do as he said, but I didn’t, and you’ll kindly stop speaking
for me if that’s the case! Staying by his side doesn’t mean letting him go
gallivanting into a hornets’ nest." A tear leaked down one cheek, and
Ron’s thumb was there in an instant, wiping it away.
"No need to cry about it," he said softly, but that single tear of
annoyance and trepidation was all there was. Ron’s thumb continued to stroke
down her cheek and over her lips. "You can talk to him about it all you
want tomorrow before he wants to leave." His mouth then replaced his thumb,
just as tender and reassuring.
It was a swift kiss, and afterward she said quietly, "But the point was
to have a united front. You know he doesn’t listen to me when you go along with
him. You don’t either. It’s enough to drive me mad, watching the two of you go all
willy-nilly – stop laughing – and not being listened to when I know I’m
Ron smiled at her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I promise I’ll
try to listen to you more. Just as long as I get to do this at least once a
day," and he moved his lips to hers and wrapped his arms around her.
Despite the way it melted her heart – or perhaps
because of it – Hermione wanted to hex him. "That doesn’t help with
Harry," she said against his chin.
"I know, but like I said, just discuss it with him tomorrow. He already
told me he would talk to you about it, if not tomorrow then when we’re at his
aunt and uncle’s."
Hermione’s not responding was apparently an invitation to Ron, who delved his
hands into her hair and started again with the feather-light kisses that grew
gradually deeper. Hermione buried her hands in his hair as well, smooth and
foreign to her fingers, which were so used to her own disastrous curls, and
parted her lips to be greeted immediately by his tongue. She took his lead and
mimicked his actions, as she was learning most of it as she went along, not
having kissed anyone before Ron with an open mouth – McLaggen
forcing his tongue down her throat uninvited didn’t count. Hardly seeming to
mind her lack of expertise, Ron started making faint moaning sounds as he
breathed against her skin, and Hermione was surprised to realize she was making
them too. Suddenly Ron wedged her against the tall stack of boxes behind her
with his whole body. She thought she felt one rattling, but she didn’t much
care. Ron’s mouth left hers then with an audible smack, trailing kisses down
her jaw to her ear, one of his hands untangling from her hair to caress her
exposed collarbone. There was a sound from the direction of the window, and
Hermione’s eyes drifted open just in time to see Harry hurtling back toward
"Ron, just tell me…." Her voice was husky and unfamiliar.
"What is Harry’s plan?"
"Oh," Ron said, interspersed with kissing, licking, and sucking on
her ear, a dizzying and tickling experience. "After he goes to the…
Muggles’ for a few days… he wants to go to… Godric’s
Hollow…. Then he says he wants to… mmm… try and find
Snape so he can… capture him and… get information about… Horcruxes
and all that," he finished nonchalantly, or at least as nonchalantly as a
person could sound in his state of activity.
Hermione ripped her attention from his mouth and hand, which was venturing
further and further down her chest, and processed what Ron had just said. Then
she put her hands on his chest and pushed - hard. "What?"
Ron looked up at her from where he sat sprawled on the floor, amidst the
pile of bright green order forms he’d fallen into and scattered. "What the
bloody hell was that for?"
"He’s going to capture Snape?" Hermione clenched her teeth
and let out a half scream, half groan. "How could you, Ron? Don’t
you remember what happened last time he faced Snape?"
Hoisting himself back onto his feet, Ron frowned and said, "No, and neither
do you. We weren’t there, remember?"
Hermione knew Ron still felt guilty about that, and in truth so did she, but
at that moment she didn’t really give a fig. "That’s not the point! He has
to at least learn Occlumency first. I don’t think
Snape is going to be as forgiving next time, and I know you don’t either."
"Well what do you expect me to do about it? You know how he is.
If his mind is made up, we’ll just try to help him as best we can."
"Rubbish!" Hermione snarled. "If you and I had both approached
him together, he might’ve listened to us – it worked for the D.A. – but you’ve
gone and botched it all up now."
"How am I supposed to know these things if you don’t
tell me first?" Ron asked loudly, stepping over the papers to stand
right in front of her. "I can’t read your mind, you know."
"Why do you think I wanted to talk to you today, Ron?" Hermione
pounded at his chest, though not very hard; she felt anger slipping and being replaced with horrible images of Snape laughing over
Harry’s corpse. As soon as fists turned into hands clinging to Ron’s shirt, his
arms were around her.
Hermione refused to let tears come. She’d cried enough already and she was sure she would again. Instead, she squared her shoulders
and looked up into Ron's eyes, determined to do whatever it took to keep Harry
from harm now that she was in her unenviable and well-known position as the
nag. Ron’s face was sympathetic and apologetic, though, and he opened his mouth
as if to say something when he was stopped short by
muffled voices outside the door.
"Are they in there?"
That was Ginny.
"Yeah. Sounds as if they’re
having a row."
And that was Harry.
The door opened a crack, and red hair and a freckled face popped through.
Ginny craned her neck, searching, and when her eyes rested on Ron and Hermione
mid-embrace, she smirked and said, "Looks more like snogging to me."
Hermione extricated herself hurriedly from Ron’s grasp just as Harry’s head
appeared above Ginny’s. "Well, you know what they
"What’s that?" Ginny asked.
"Nobody ever wins a battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing
with the enemy."
Tutting, Hermione waded through the room toward
the door. When she lost her balance, Ron’s hand was there to cup her elbow and
"They don’t say that," she told Harry as she pushed through
the doorway, causing Harry and Ginny to step back into the hall. "Henry
Kissinger says that."
"No one’s fraternizing with any enemies," Ron added.
"Sorry, mate," said Harry. "Forgot you were
so opposed to that." Ron punched him in the arm. Harry sniggered.
"Mum’s looking for you," Ginny told Ron and Hermione. "You
lot have to set up the tables."
At that moment, there came a cry of, "Get down here, Ginevra!"
from the bottom of the stairs.
Ginny giggled. "Oops, I’m supposed to be trying on my dress. See you
later." She waved and then ran off down the stairs, leaving Hermione alone
with Harry and Ron.
The humor of the situation had apparently left with Ginny, and now Hermione
was back to worrying for Harry. Suddenly Ron’s hand found hers and clasped it
tightly. Harry eyed the contact for a moment, then
said stiffly, "Er, if you want, I can do it myself…."
Hermione opened her mouth, but it was Ron who answered.
"Actually, Harry, we want to help you." He squeezed Hermione’s hand
and stroked his thumb over hers. "There’s something we want to talk to you
With a last look at them, Harry said, "Suit yourselves,"
and turned to head downstairs.
Ron moved to follow, but Hermione tugged on his hand, and
when he regarded her with questioning eyes, Hermione stood on her toes to give
him a quick and searing kiss. "Thank you," she said, blinking
back tears yet again.
Ron shrugged his shoulders. His ears were growing pink. "You’re
welcome, but I doubt you’ll be thanking me after we talk to him."
"Maybe not," Hermione said, "but I might be up for more of
that fraternizing with the enemy."
He stared at her in shock for a moment, then
laughed and said, "Hurry up, then!"
Hermione laughed as well, and they both followed Harry, hand in hand.