The Sugar Quill
Author: Zsenya (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Afterwards...  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: JK Rowling created Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Great Hall and the common room. She'd probably be appalled if she could read this complete and utter piece of fluff that I concocted, but I can't help it. I just can't help it...

***

"Are you coming down to dinner?" Ron was jolted out of his half-sleep state by Harry's voice from the other bed. He rubbed his eyes slowly and moved his head to the side so that he could look at Harry.

"I'll be down in a few minutes," he muttered, "you go ahead without me."

Harry grinned and winked, which annoyed Ron slightly, and slid off his bed.

"I'll just tell Hermione where you are then?" Harry quipped, and then ducked out the door to avoid the pillow that Ron hurled at his head.

Ron remained on his back for a few more minutes, his eyes shut, trying to decide what to do next. His stomach grumbled loudly and rubbed it absentmindedly, wondering how long he could survive without food, and kicking himself for not just asking Harry to bring back something from the Great Hall.

Two hours earlier he had been kissing Hermione. Well, kissing was really an exaggeration. He had kissed Hermione once, and she had kissed him once, and then she had turned and fled. Harry had said that she had looked pretty happy, but what did he know? She could be upstairs in the girls dormitory right this second, retching into the toilet or washing her mouth with soap. Ron let his other hand travel up so that his fingers touched his own lips. If he shut his eyes tightly, he could still feel the warmth and pressure of the kiss.

If he was completely, utterly honest with himself, Ron knew that all he really wanted to do right now was kiss Hermione again. He also knew that he was scared to death of sitting across from her in the Great Hall, eating Yorkshire pudding and acting as if nothing had happened.

With a deep sigh, Ron pushed himself off the bed and walked jerkily over to the long mirror on the wall of the dormitory. He wasn't bad looking. He looked better than Neville, for example. He was the tallest boy in Gryffindor - that had to count for something. His hair was sticking up a bit in back, and he reached up and flattened it, wishing that it wasn't quite so bright. He'd feel better going downstairs if he knew that he'd be able to just blend in with everyone else. He had a lot of freckles, but no acne - not like Goyle, thank goodness. Ron rubbed his chin thoughtfully - he'd shaved twice since Christmas - his dad had sent him a whole kit, complete with some useful spells to slow hair-growth. Ron had been afraid to try the spells - he wondered if his father's baldness had not been caused by such a spell gone wrong. Everyone else in his family, after all, seemed to have a thick head of hair.

Nope, he thought, not too bad looking. But then, did his face look a bit dim? He thought that maybe he looked a bit clueless sometimes. Hermione was so smart - what if she thought he was dumb? Then he remembered that he had never lost a chess match against her and decided that he was probably pretty smart as well - at least, smarter than some.

The rumble of his stomach reminded Ron that he should probably just go downstairs. Slowly and deliberately, he set off down the winding staircase of the Gryffindor boys' dormitory. When he reached the last step, he peered around the corner tentatively, and, seeing that the common room was deserted, hopped off of the last step.

"Oh!" Ron jerked up his head at the sound of another voice and saw Hermione standing across the room, on the last step of the staircase leading up to the girls' tower. She stood still, clutching the railing with one hand, and not making any motion to walk out into the common room.

Ron's heart did a funny sort of somersault - or was that just his stomach begging for food? He willed it to shut up, and pulling himself straight, he walked across the room. It didn't take him long to reach Hermione. Even though she was still standing, frozen, on the stairs, his legs were long and his stride quick.

When he was an arm's length away, he stopped, shrugged his hands into his pockets, and murmured, "hi." It was all he could manage.

Hermione, for once, seemed equally tongue-tied. "Are you on your way to dinner?" she asked finally. Were her eyes a bit red, or was he imagining it? Had he made her cry again?

"Er, yeah," he answered, and his stomach growled again, as if to prove it. He could feel the blush rushing to his face and he put a hand on his stomach.

A small smile flickered across Hermione's face. She looked down at her feet - Ron noticed that her eyelashes were very long - had he ever noticed that before? "I'm hungry too," she said.

"Mmm-hmmm," said Ron, not really sure what he meant by that, except to agree that they both, indeed, would like to eat dinner.

"Should we go down to the Great Hall?" asked Hermione, looking at him now, but she made no indication of moving. Ron realized that he was probably blocking her way and if he didn't say anything - something - soon, he was probably going to blow it.

"Hermione," he began, trying to ignore the fact that his voice was practically a whisper.

"Yes?"

"I wanted to apologize."

"Oh."

Was that disappointment in her voice? Wasn't he supposed to apologize? He had the distinct feeling that he'd done something wrong today, but what? He supposed he should figure out what he was apologizing for - he didn't want her to think he was sorry for the kiss - even if she was angry over that, he never would be.

Suddenly it hit him - he had been rather obnoxious earlier. "I mean, I'm sorry that I teased you so much about Vick - Viktor Krum. It's just that, well, I guess I was ... jealous." Ron's voice trailed off. There was no turning back now. That had been what was truly bothering him - he had been jealous - and he'd never even fully realized that all of the teasing, and bickering and everything had stemmed from that. Well, she could either laugh at him, or...

But Hermione was not laughing. When he raised his head to meet her eyes, he saw that she was astonished. Had she not known he was jealous - she was usually very quick about these things - or was she merely surprised that he had admitted it.

Ron suddenly felt the need to keep talking. If he stopped talking, he would kiss her again, and he didn't want to do that again unless he was sure that it was welcome.

"He's a world-famous Quidditch champion and I'm..." Ron's voice trailed off, as he searched for words to describe how inadequate he was when compared to Viktor Krum.

"Ron - there was never any reason to be jealous. I kept trying to tell you - "

"But there was!" he interrupted hotly, "it's you, and you're so...well, you're smart, and you know, I can see why he likes you and I know you think he's so nice, and..." Ron just knew that his face was the color of Gryffindor Quidditch robes, but he felt that maybe it was important to keep going. Maybe along the way, he'd say something right, and Hermione was now biting her lower lip and looking up at him through those long lashes, and he wasn't quite sure that the feeling in his stomach had anything to do with a late supper.

Hermione reached a hand up to nervously push a curl behind her ear. Without realizing what he was doing, Ron reached out to touch the hand, and caught the wrist while it was still hovering near Hermione's cheek.

"Hermione," Ron asked, knitting his brows together, "er, will you let me kiss you again?"

She gasped slightly, but nodded her head, and Ron leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. It was - different. Earlier, he'd been crazy with anger and emotion, and he hadn't thought anything except, 'I'm kissing Hermione, I'm kissing Hermione,' over and over again. Now, he was noticing all sorts of new things that he'd missed the last time. Her lips were soft, and she smelled faintly of peppermint. If he moved his mouth slightly, she moved hers, and when he put his arms around her waist, she reached up and put her arms around his neck and they were standing very, very close. Somehow, Ron felt like he could stay this way forever.

Grrrsruuuuummmghhhrrrr. The noise came from somewhere in the depths of his stomach. Obviously some parts of his body weren't communicating with others. Hermione giggled a bit through the kiss and Ron pulled away reluctantly, still holding her about the waist. He smiled sheepishly and tossed his head to get his fringe out of his eyes.

"I guess we should eat something," said Hermione sensibly, laughing a bit. "I'm actually craving a treacle tart."

"Right then," said Ron, feeling a bit disappointed. Hermione brought one of her hands around to push one stray hair over his ear and said softly, "we can continue with this later - if you want to." The last bit sounded shy, and a wave of self-confidence swept through Ron. He nodded at her, and with a sudden motion, lifted her off of the top step and onto the floor of the common room.

Hand in hand they crossed to the portrait hole and headed to the Great Hall for dinner.

 

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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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