The Sugar Quill
Author: Squin (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful)  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:
Everything you recognise from Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling (aka The Goddess)
The song What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful) belongs to The Backstreet Boys, from the album Black & Blue
I own nothing :o)

Author's Note:
Well, it's time I did a real songfic, so, voila! Believe it or not, I actually don't like the Backstreet Boys, this just happened to be on a soundtrack and it seemed perfect for our favourite super-couple. Even though the song's really a bloke singing to a girl I have written the fic from Hermione's pov, mainly because I feel that she doesn't need Ron to tell her she's gorgeous just yet, especially since he wouldn't really know how to say it, the silly boy! And besides, boys can be beautiful too :o) So, think HQoW and the idea that Hermione knows she likes Ron, and she, like the rest of the world, knows that Ron likes her, only he's too much of a boy to admit it ;o) Fluff-factor: V High + Brainless + Plotless. You have been warned.

***

The walk back to the castle from Hogsmeade was pleasant enough.The cool autumn air that afternoon, the week before Halloween, was refreshing after the effects of the trek.Harry was deep in conversation with Fred and George, discussing tactics for the upcoming Quidditch season.

Ron and Hermione walked a little bit behind them in silence, both full to maximum capacity with butterbeer and Honeydukes sweets, although Ron was probably more so than Hermione.

"So Ron, are you going to try out for Keeper, next week?" Hermione asked to start up a new conversation. The last one, over whether it really was possible to get addicted to Fizzing Whizzbees, had ended a few minutes earlier. Hermione surprised herself by bringing up the topic of Quidditch, something she certainly didn't obsess over as much as the boys did.

"I don't know," said Ron almost quietly, as he stuck his hands into the pockets of his robes and looked over to Harry and his twin brothers, who were animatedly discussing some sort of Beater-Chaser attack. "Don't know if I'd be good enough, really."

"Well, Ginny told me you'd been practicing all summer."

"Ginny's got a big mouth, hasn't she?"

Hermione smiled, but decided not get into another silly argument with Ron about Ginny – he was apparently slightly miffed over the fact that his ‘little sister' and Harry were getting close. "You really should at least try, I mean, you can't get anything unless you put your hand up."

"Yeah, I suppose." With that, Ron sighed and continued walking in silence.

After a short while, Hermione turned her head to look up at him. "Ron? Is something bothering you?"

"No… well… yeah, no."

Hermione sent him a sideways glance. "I honestly don't believe I've met anyone who could possibly be as articulate as you have been recently," she said with a grin.

Ron gave her a lopsided smile. Then his expression hardened a little. "It's just, you know… everything that's been going on. It's…" He paused, as if trying to figure out if he should go on.

Hermione looked up at him, letting him know that he really could say whatever he wanted to say.

"It's scary, Hermione." Ron's expression as she said those words was something Hermione could read quite perfectly. It was as if he was relieved to finally admit it, but embarrassed to have done so.

Knowing she was taking a rather big risk given Ron's attitude to any sort of physical contact over the last four years, Hermione reached over and tugged Ron's hand out of his pocket.

"It's all right," she said softly, giving it a little squeeze before letting go again.

Ron looked over at her and appeared quite disconcerted.

Hermione smiled gently. "We're all going to get through this together."

Nodding, and turning a slightest tinge of pink, Ron stuck his hand back in his pocket.

"Ron, if you ever need to talk about this, please come to me, it must be awful to keep all this bottled up inside you."

"I know," he said quietly. "I just don't know if I'm ready to talk about it yet. I'm still trying to figure it out myself…" He trailed off and looked positively dejected.

By now the two of them were back inside the Hogwarts grounds. The other three had already headed off inside.

Hermione stopped and looked up at Ron again, who turned around to face her. "Well, whenever you need to talk, I'll be here for you, ok?"

Ron smiled sadly and nodded again.

Then he did something that must have shocked himself as much as it shocked Hermione. He put her arms around her and held her in a warm hug. "Thank you," he whispered into her hair after a moment.

Hermione felt her heart beating as fast as Ron's as she rested her head on his chest and hugged him back. "You're very welcome."

She pulled away and smiled up at him. "You're a good hugger."

"I suppose I get it from Mum," Ron said with a wry grin, as his ears went pink.

 

You don't run with crowd

You go your own way

You don't play after dark

You light up my day

Got your own kind of style

That sets you apart

Baby that's why you captured my heart

 

Chuckling softly, Hermione wondered if Ron really knew how she felt about him. Then again, he was a boy – he probably didn't.

But she wasn't stupid. She had noticed everything that went on over the past fours years, and she certainly knew what everything meant on her part…

Maybe today is as good a day as any to let him know, and to get him to admit what he thinks about it all… It might help him to keep his mind of everything else that's going on…

She wrapped herself up tighter in her cloak and wandered down the grass to the lake, leaving Ron standing behind her.

"Aren't you going back inside?" he called out after her.

"It's nice out here, I just thought I'd get some fresh air."

Ron walked up to her, his long strides quickly covering the distance between them by that point. "We just walked to Hogsmeade and back, haven't you had enough?" he questioned with a tone of mock incredulity.

With a shrug and a smile that Ron didn't see, Hermione kept walking until they reached the edge of the lake. She looked around and took a deep breath of the autumn air, and as the wind blew about her, she pushed her hair out of her face. "It's nice out here, at this time of the year."

"And you're a poet and you didn't even know it," Ron responded expressionlessly as he stood next to her.

Hermione looked at him sideways with her eyebrows raised, and then found herself doubled over and unable to contain the peels of laughter that erupted from inside her.

"Well," said Ron, grinning himself, "I was actually thinking that was one of my worse lines, but if you liked it that much…"

Hermione shook her head as she tried to get her breath back. "No," she gasped, still giggling a little as she sat down on the grass, "That was just so stupid I couldn't help but laugh at it." Continuing to shake from silent laughter, she lay down on her back and looked up at the sky, which was a gloomy grey. It would probably rain later that night.

Ron sat himself down next to her. "So I take it you were just pulling my leg with all that supportive friend nonsense?"

Hermione looked over to him and saw by his smile that he was just teasing her. "Well, I must say, there are limits to my support," she said with a straight face, "And silly little lines like that are certainly beyond the boundaries of what I can condone and encourage."

"I suppose I can accept that, then."

Hermione smiled as she brought her hands up behind her head and closed her eyes. She tried to think of some clever way to maybe bring up a matter dealing with how she… felt.

But after a bit of a long silence, Ron brought it up for her, although not in the most discreet of ways.

"So. How's Vicky," Ron asked. His tone was overly casual.

Hermione's eyes flew open at once and she took a deep, and yet inaudible breath to try and keep herself from laughing in Ron's face again.

"He's fine, I suppose," she said offhandedly.

"You suppose?" Ron's level of interest in the topic was obviously raised. "Haven't you been writing to him a lot? I mean, since you didn't go to Bulgaria and everything, the least you could do is write to him, right? That would've been polite and everything."

Hermione gingerly rubbed the bridge of her nose with her thumb and her forefinger, for the sole purpose of using her hand to hide a smirk that had uncontrollably spread across her face.

Well, if he's going to make it this easy…

"Yes, I wrote to him a few times over the summer. And he sent two letters this term, although I haven't replied to the latest one…" she explained nonchalantly.

"Oh," said Ron. He appeared to be willing to pursue the issue. "Why's that?"

"Well, I've been busy."

"Oh."

There was a heavy pause.

Hermione pushed herself up to a sitting position, and turned to face Ron, who was sitting cross-legged, poking at the grass with a small twig and an apparent amount of purpose.

"So, why the sudden interest in Viktor?"

Ron snapped his head up. "What?   Oh, no reason, I was just… you know… making conversation." Poke. Poke. Poke.

"Right."

Poke. Poke. Poke. "You've been getting a lot of mail recently."

"You mean from my parents?"

"Parents?" Ron's face was suddenly rather red. Poke. Poke.

Keeping her face as neutral as possible, she replied, "Of course. They've been worried about everything. I've been worried about everything. We promised to write every week."

"Ah. Good plan." Poke.

Hermione pushed on. "But really, you have been mentioning Viktor an awful lot recently."

"Have I?" Poke. "Well, you know, I thought, since everything with Vicky… I thought you'd be writing to him a lot…" he trailed off and wouldn't lift his eyes from the now very holy ground. Poke. Poke.

"I've had more important things to think about."

Ron looked up and stopped poking. "Really? Like… what?"

"Well, school for one," Hermione replied casually, noting Ron's snort and the slight shake of his head with good humour.

"And then Mum and Dad are probably even more important than school, and of course," she paused and looked Ron straight in the eye, "There's my friends."

Ron sort of smiled. "Well, that's nice to know," he said offhandedly.

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "What's nice? That you're more important to me than school?" she asked with a grin.

Ron shifted around a little. The piece of twig and the holes in the grass were again taking a lot of his attention. "Well, that too. But actually, I was sort of more surprised that I'm… you know. More important than… Viktor." Poke.

"You silly sod," Hermione smiled, "Of course you are. Why does that surprise you?"

"Well. He's… you know. An international Quidditch superstar," Ron almost spat the last word. "And I'm just stupid old Ron. Harry Potter's best friend, number six of seven Weasleys, who never does his homework right and whose only talent is stupid chess." Poke. Poke. POKE.

 

I know sometimes you feel

Like you don't fit in

And this world doesn't know

What you have within

When I look at you

I see something rare

A rose that can grow anywhere

And there's no one I know that can compare

 

"Oh, Ron," Hermione couldn't believe he was saying these things. She watched him as he glared at the grass, and felt absolutely terrible. This was supposed to cheer him up, not make him feel worse.

"Listen to me, Ron," she reached out and grabbed his shoulders and pulled him around to face her. "Do you honestly think being Harry Potter's best friend makes you unimportant?"

He didn't reply, but just looked at her forlornly.

"Because then you're insulting me as well as yourself, seeing as I'm Harry Potter's best friend too. And I'll concede, you have a problem with messing about with your homework, but how can you think you're stupid?"  she shook his shoulders. "And chess! You couldn't play chess the way you do if you were stupid. Have you, in some insane way, forgotten that it was you that got us across Professor McGonagall's chessboard?"

Ron remained silent.

"Oh, for crying out loud, Ron, if I ever hear you saying something like that again," her eyes flashed dangerously as Ron blinked at her, "I swear, I will make Neville hex you, and you certainly can't want that."

Ron smirked a little. "Now there is a threat and a half," he said quietly.

Hermione smiled, but shook his shoulders again and said, very seriously, "And don't you ever think that you're just Weasley Number Six, Ron. Because you're not. You're Ron. Perfect, important, Ron." She stopped as she felt tears welling up in her eyes.

 

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful

What's there inside you shines through to me

In your eyes I see all the love I'll ever need

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful to me

 

Ron smiled his lopsided smile at her again. "Don't cry on me, Hermione."

She grinned. "If you promise never to put yourself down ever again."

"Yeah, I suppose if I did that you wouldn't have much to do," Ron said with a smirk.

Hermione blinked. She removed her hands from where they had been clenching Ron's shoulders and wrung them together in her lap as she moved her gaze down to them, blinking back her emotions.

Silence.

"I don't mean to – " She began but Ron cut her off.

"No, I was joking, I didn't mean to say you insult me. I mean, it's fun, right, it's what we do."

Hermione snorted. "Oh honestly, you're such a prat sometimes, that's undeniable. I start pouring my heart out and you start making jokes." She shook her head and laughed.

"Did you really mean that? What you said just now?"

Hermione looked up. "What, that you're perfect?" she barely managed a whisper.

Ron nodded to answer her.

"Of course I did."

 

You got something so real

You touched me so deep

You see material things

Don't matter to me

So come as you are

You've got nothing to prove

You won me with all that you do

And I wanna take this chance to say to you

 

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful

What's there inside you shines through to me

In your eyes I see all the love I'll ever need

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful to me

 

"You're my best friend. The guy who belched up slugs for me. The guy who went chasing after giant spiders to try and get me to wake up. The guy who was willing to stand up on a broken leg to protect Harry… The guy who makes me laugh and makes me cry like no one else can," Hermione stoped herself at the expression of awe that had dawned on Ron's face. She smiled, and continued on. "You act like a total prat half the time and yet I wouldn't have it any other way…" she trailed off, and looked out across the lake, wondering how she would sound saying what she truly wanted to say to him.

In the silence that followed, Hermione suddenly became very aware of how quickly she was breathing. She pulled her cloak around her and inhaled deeply.

"Wow," Ron whispered. His little poking twig rolled out of his hand and lay forgotten by the tiny little divots in the grass.

 

You don't know

How you touch my life

Oh in so many ways I just can't describe

You taught me what love is supposed to be

It's all the little things that make you beautiful to me

 

Hermione bit her lip and looked up at him. She reached over and cupped his face in both of her hands. "I mean it, Ron. I want you to know that I mean it with everything that's in me. You are one of the four most special people in my life – my parents, Harry and you. But you're something more, too, Ron. Because I… I love you."

Ron just stared at her with his eyes wide, and mouth open wider.

"Oh wow," he repeated softly, once he managed to find his voice. "I can't believe you actually said that. That you had the guts to say that."

Hermione blinked again. "What do you mean?" she asked anxiously, as she pulled her hands back.

Oh God. He doesn't… Oh God.

Ron let out a little laugh, and took her hands in his. "What I mean is, I'm simply amazed at how you managed to get those words out because I've been trying to figure out how to do it for a bloody long while now."

Hermione rolled her eyes and smirked. "Oh is that what's been taking you so long?"

Ron looked rather taken aback. "You knew? You knew I… that I …" It seemed like it was still hard to get the words out.

"You don't need to tell me. I know you do."

Ron blinked several times. "How…?"

"I can read you like a book, Ron Weasley," Hermione explained with a laugh. "And you of all people should know how good I am at reading books."

Shaking his head, Ron just laughed. "So uh… since I'm so important and everything, would it be all right if I…"

Hermione smiled as she watched Ron's face turn very red. "Kissed me?" she supplied.

"Ten Points to Miss Granger."

 

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful

What's there inside you shines through to me

In your eyes I see all the love I'll ever need

What makes you different

Makes you beautiful to me

 

*

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