When she let herself into his bedroom at the Burrow, he expected her to come drop herself down into his arms like she always did. In the last week, they had stolen whole afternoons lazing around, talking and snogging more than he thought was humanly possible. Even Hermione had agreed that they deserved to be selfish for a while, take a vacation from…everything.
But this afternoon, she didn't slide into the room so much as stomp, and instead of plopping herself onto the bed beside him or settling herself across his lap (she did rather love sitting in his lap, which quite frankly made the marathon snogging somehwat perilous), she came to a halt in front of him and abruptly smacked him upside the head and just…glared.
Hermione was so angry she couldn't speak. That was definitely not a good sign, and, yeah… ow.
"What'd you do that for?" he sputtered.
Rather than answer—because an explanation would be reasonable; can't have that, obviously—she just hit him again, then she stepped back, crossing her arms over her chest as if to resist the urge to just wail on him. He hadn't seen her so angry since he came back to their tent in the forest. And there was no Harry with his protection spell here and now.
He thought long and hard about Accio-ing his wand from the kitchen table.
"You're scaring me."
"Oh!" she squeaked. "Am I? Scaring you? Well."
She flung herself onto Harry's bed, opposite his, in the same manner that she'd flung those last words, but her eyes never left off their glaring.
No reply, just the warning look, like that had ever stopped him. Okay, at least not often; one might say he was just a little stubborn.
"I'm not keen on you giving me the silent treatment for days. Or using my head for a Quaffle. Whatever it is, let's have it."
Her fists clenched and unclenched.
"Ronald Weasley." The whole name? Merlin…
"Hermione Granger," he replied, with a weak smile.
She opened her mouth and closed it, twice, as she studied his face. Finally, there was a sudden fluttering in her arms as she launched up off the bed again.
"You are possibly the stupidest git that ever lived and breathed."
"You already knew that," he mumbled, trying to be funny. It didn't work. It never did on her when she was this angry; it was like she was freakishly immune to his self-effacing charm. Criminal, that.
But she apparently wasn't finished scolding him, because she took a deep breath and put her hands on her hips:
"How could you possibly think…possibly, with all the time you've spent with the both of us for- for seven sodding years… How in the bleeding hell could you be fucking dim enough to believe I was in any way, shape, or form in love with Harry, you oblivious…wanker?"
He would've laughed—okay he was laughing, on the inside—except she was so…serious. And getting more serious by the minute as he sat there, just staring back, rather frozen, actually, as she flopped down on the bed again.
Swallowing hard, he said, "I don't think I've ever heard you swear so much."
"Well." She raised her eyebrows. "First time for everything."
"I don't even know what you're going on about." Then it began to make sense. Oh, it certainly did, and it made his stomach drop, this nice hollow feeling spreading through his chest. "Harry," he muttered. Fucking Harry, talking about things he'd just as soon never think about again.
"He thought I should know."
Ron couldn't quite believe he would tell her something like that, knowing how hard it had been for Ron, such a personal attack, except…
"Yeah, well he probably didn't think you'd run off and tell me, did he?" he snapped. He didn't know who he was more annoyed with: Harry for going behind his back or Hermione for being insensitive enough to bring it up. "Although he should have known…"
"It's just that he couldn't quite believe it. Me, secretly in love with Harry? Are you mad?"
"Is a good guy. He's clever and brave and…nice-looking. I'm not stupid; I know half the girls in school have been trying to get in his pants since fourth year. I just thought…"
"He's like- he's like my brother or something. He's just…Harry."
He'd never seen her more incredulous looking or more absolutely appalled by his stupidity. It was rather comforting in an odd way. He'd been starting to think she had been Imperius-ed or something all week, what with how happy she'd been and how much not squeaking out recriminations she'd done.
"That's what he said. About you."
"Because it's true. Always has been. You're who I want. I don't see how you could think otherwise. I mean, why would you? Have you ever seen me…flirt with him or anything?"
"I've never seen you to flirt with me either."
She frowned, then she stood up, waving her arms again as she paced the room. "Stupid moronic idiot. You are the thickest…" Her lips pursed and she slapped her hands against her legs. "Gah!"
"Will you calm down. I don't know why this is upsetting you so much. I get it now. We always fought. That's what we did. It was sort of like flirting, in a weird way. And I don't really think you're…subconsciously in love with Harry, or whatever it was I thought. Not anymore."
She spun around and screeched, "That's not the point."
"Then what in the hell are you flailing about?"
When she came to stand directly in front of him, he had the impulse to cover his head with his hands, but he thought sudden movements were unwise under the circumstances.
She snapped: "Your self-esteem is so abysmal it makes— me— sick."
Ron grimaced, then he let a grin slip through. "Well, maybe it has something to do with you calling me, what? Stupid git? Moronic idiot?"
Then he watched all the color drain from her face.
Shit. Shit, shit. Oh fuck.
"No," he said firmly. He reached out for her hand, but she was already retreating. Fucking girls. He felt all queasy and helpless. Fucking girls. He whined, "Hermione, it was just a joke."
"I'm sorry," she said. She sat back down on the other bed looking miserable, like he'd just hit her or something.
"No, I'm sorry. You can't— You can't— Jesus Christ."
He couldn't figure out what to say, especially not if he was halfway across the room from her, so he pushed himself up from the bed and came to kneel down in front of her. He covered both of her knees with his hands, and that's what she looked at, rather than meeting his eyes. But he could look up through the hair hanging down over her face and see the tears already running down her cheeks.
"Blooming hell, babe, I know you don't think I'm stupid. You always treated me like I was capable of more than I acted like I was. That's the only reason you ever got mad and yelled at me." Then he grinned, letting a little warmth creep into his voice: "You know, except for the beginning of first year, when my very existence on the planet was enough to set you off. But that was before you succumbed to my overwhelming charm."
Her gaze drifted up to his face, and she was smiling. Still crying, too. Fucking girls.
"Don't do that," he murmured.
"Can't help it." She shook her head, wiping her eyes. "Everything's so…"
So he pulled himself onto the bed beside her and drew her onto his lap, into his arms. It felt so odd—not because he'd never held her before when she was upset, but he'd never done so without all the confusion and tentativeness of that long and confusing not-a-relationship they had. He liked this feeling of knowing what he could do and doing it. He liked knowing he actually did have the power to comfort her when she was sad, even if he stood no chance in hell of ever being very good at calming her down when she was angry. That's what they had Harry for.
You know, when he wasn't causing the problems in the first place.
"I know," he said, his lips buried in her hair. "It's been a bad… Well, it's been bad. I think it's only just now starting to hit me, too."
She looked up at him for a moment, eyes still brimming with tears, then she pressed her face into the crook of his neck. It made him shiver a little. Of course, she was usually nibbling on that spot, but this was nice, too.
After a moment, she said, "Ron?"
"Did you just call me…babe, before?"
"It's…rather nice, actually. You're adorable sometimes."
He smiled widely over the top of her head and his cheeks felt flushed. He still hadn't gotten used to her wanting him. Trusting him, liking him, yes; but not thinking he was…
Adorable. Okay, so there was necessary annoyance to effect. "Blimey," he said halfheartedly.
"You are. Oblivious, but adorable."
"Not oblivious. I notice loads of things."
"Like I always used to notice how you flicked your tongue out against the end of your quills when we studied in the library. I couldn't concentrate at all sometimes."
"You're seriously going to blame me for your bad marks?"
"It's not my fault you wore those short little skirts sometimes."
"Well, I wasn't the one always getting up and stretching and pacing around every five minutes while we were studying."
"What?" Girls. Fucking confusing girls.
Then she said, "You're…distracting, too."
He could practically hear her blushing, and it made him grin. Never mind that she knew him intimately enough now to know precisely what sort of contented noise he made when she stuck her tongue halfway down his throat; she was still frightfully inarticulate about it all. It was actually rather charming, especially since her shyness didn't seem to extend to her lips or her hands.
"Oh?" he said, right in her ear. "I am?"
"You know you are. It was so…weird when I realized one day that you had…shoulders and things."
"And things?" he said with a smile, planting a kiss on her neck and leaving his lips there. "What things?"
In mock annoyance, she said, "You have to know you have a nice bum."
"According to you, I don't have to know anything."
"All the girls say."
"Really?" Girls. He did love girls.
She pinched his side, but not enough to hurt. "They also say you're the worst lech in the history of desperate boys standing around staring at girls'…cleavage."
"I can't help being a red-blooded male," he said, sliding his arms a little tighter around her waist. He hadn't gotten quite brave enough to put his hands under her shirt yet, but he didn't need to touch them to appreciate them, no he did not. He said, "You would have to be oblivious yourself if you didn't see I used to stare at you the most."
"Used to?" she said, pulling back so she could give him a smirk.
"Well, you're not being a lech, are you, if you're admiring your girlfriend?"
"So I'm you're girlfriend?" There was that focused, serious tone of hers, mixed with an unaccustomed amused smile.
Shit. Oh, shit.
He swallowed hard. "Aren't you?"
"Yes," she said with a grin, melting into him a little more. "We just never talked about it. You never asked."
"Why am I the one that's supposed to ask? Aren't you…the one that keeps track of things?" She gave him a funny smile, questioning. "I mean, you're the one that pays attention and makes sure things get done, so I figured you would be—"
She cut him off with a kiss, one she pulled out of much sooner than he would've liked.
She said, "I know what you meant. But if you don't watch it, I'm going to have you wrapped around my little finger."
Ron laid himself back on the bed, pulling her with him until she was lying with her head on his shoulder, one leg slung over his.
"Hermione, do you honestly think I could like you as much as I do if a big part of me didn't frankly love to be bossed around?"
She smiled warmly, then it turned ever so slowly to an absolutely wicked smirk. God, did that make him nervous…and really horny, all at the same time.
She said innocently, "And what part is that?"
His mouth fell open, but before he could protest, she kissed him, and he was soon trying really, really hard not to think about one part in particular that would be quite amenable to being bossed around by Hermione Granger. Eventually.
Oh, hell. Like it hadn't already been for weeks now.
Her hand lay flat and warm on his stomach, and he covered it with his own. The angle of her head made it a little awkward for him to kiss her quite the way he wanted to without getting a crick in his neck, but they had a whole afternoon in front of them to sort that out, so he didn't really mind in the slightest. Especially since she wasn't angry anymore. Especially since she was kissing him.