Summer holiday was always a frustrating time for Hermione. She usually felt like a part of her was missing. She smiled at a letter from Ron, who was always quick to remind her that her over-stuffed book bag was not, actually, a part of her body.
She was happy for the time to relax, of course, but there was usually that niggling feeling of needing to be doing something--studying, preparing--and that feeling usually defeated the purpose of relaxation, so she generally found a way to research something, learn something, read something, sometime around halfway through the break.
This summer, however, was different. There was too much to learn. Too much to study. Too much to research. Trying to find Horcruxes was the most challenging and frustrating exercise of her academic career, and she thought that having that sort of challenge would feel refreshing or exhilarating. Instead, she felt hopeless and out of control and completely over her head.
When Ron owled her to say he'd be in London for the weekend, she jumped at the chance to get away from her books. Other than Grimmauld Place and Diagon Alley, neither one of them had seen much of London, and she thought it would be fun to go around with Ron and be a tourist for a day.
She had it all planned out. First, they'd see Big Ben and Parliament and Westminster, and she could tell Ron all about the Prime Minister and Muggle religion, and it would be fantastic. Then they'd go to the Tower of London and the National Gallery, and if they had time, they could go to Piccadilly Circus, and of course there was the Changing of the Guards and Madame Tussaud's.
There really was so much to do, and as she waited for Ron at King's Cross station, she got out her list and her guidebook and the map of the Underground, and she mentally went thought the plan just one more time, because it never hurt to be prepared for the day.
She was deep into her contingency timetable when she heard Ron's voice say, "Hey, Hermione!"
When she looked up, she saw a taller, intensely freckled Ron, grinning widely. She struggled to fit her things back into her bag, when she finally just gave up and dropped it on the bench and launched at him, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly.
He smelled like Ron, and that made her feel safe and happy, and when his nose brushed her cheek as they stepped back away from each other, Hermione felt her whole body shiver. She busied herself finding the timetable, and she tried to give him his copy, but he wouldn't take it because he was busy telling her about the Cannon's last game and some mad story that Harry'd told him about Dudley Dursley and about Fred and George's new inventions.
Before she knew it, they were standing in front of Big Ben, and she'd found her book on its history, but Ron was simply fascinated by the man standing next to them, talking on his mobile phone.
"So, it's a fellytone like the one I used to call Harry that time?"
"Yes. Telephone, though. Telephone."
"But it's not plugged into the eccletricity, and there is another person who is talking, too, right? And there's no magic?"
"How do they do that? Muggles are pretty smart."
Hermione tried to tell him about batteries and mobile phone towers, and she was deep into the explanation of radio waves when Ron got completely distracted by something else.
"What's that?" He'd asked.
"That." Ron pointed across the river, and Hermione immediately saw what he'd meant.
"Oh," she said. "That's the London Eye. It's a giant Ferris wheel."
"A giant what wheel?"
"Ferris wheel, Ron. A big, sort of ride, that goes around and people get into the little cars and, I don't know, look around or something."
Ron's face was slack with amazement. "You mean that there are people up there?"
"And they won't fall down?"
"Can we go on that? The… eye… thing?"
Hermione looked at her timetable. She tried to find a contingency route that would keep them able to make the train that would take them to the museum, but she'd only had a minute to look at it when Ron took the paper from her hands and said, "C'mon Hermione."
Hermione gawped at him, and saw the piece of paper in his hands. He smirked at her, and then he was looking at the chart, turning it in all directions, frowning at it. He looked… well, adorable, actually.
"All right," she said, and they started walking to the London Eye.
There weren't many people in queue, and when they got in their car, there were only three other people with them—a family of Japanese tourists who didn't speak a word of English, but they were very friendly, and they took Ron and Hermione's picture, and then through sign language, Ron and Hermione got that they wanted their own pictures taken, so Hermione did, because the sight of a elaborate Muggle camera made Ron behave like a toddler with something shiny. Which, actually, Hermione thought, was, you know, sort of cute.
By the time their car was almost at the top of the wheel, the tourists had begun a very spirited discussion with each other, and Ron and Hermione made their way to the other side of the car, and they looked over the Thames and the city.
"This is so cool," Ron said.
Hermione had to admit that he was right. "It really is, you know."
She looked up at him, and he looked back down at her. She noticed that his hair was getting longer, falling into his eyes and sending strands of it catching in his eyelashes. She wanted to brush the fringe off his forehead. But, she didn't.
He took a breath and hesitated for a second before stepping a little closer to her. He smelled like Ron, and Hermione smiled at that. She wrapped an arm around his waist, and he draped a long arm over her shoulder, and she could feel his thumb brush the skin just below where her short sleeve ended, and she shivered again.
She leaned into him, resting her head on his chest, and she closed her eyes when she felt Ron's other hand brush her cheek. When she opened them, Ron's face was very close to hers, and his cheeks were red under his freckles, and he had fringe in his eyelashes again, so this time she did brush them to the side, tucking it behind his ear, and she felt his breath on her lips just before his lips were there, and then they were kissing, and everything was wonderful.
Somewhere in the back of her mind she heard laughter, and she would have thought that it was all in her head because she was just that happy, but then she heard the click of a camera, and she realized that the laughter was from the Japanese family, who were all staring at them, so she and Ron broke their kiss, both flushed and a bit embarrassed.
When they reached the bottom again, Ron took her hand as they stepped from the car. She fished around her bag with her other hand, and found the contingency timetable, but she only glanced at it for a second before crumpling it into a ball and dropping it into the nearest bin.