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23 June 2008 @ 12:32 pm
Fic Request Fulfilled for midnight_birth  
Title: Moving On...Or Not
Author: slam_girl
Beta: luvscharlie
Rating: PG-13-ish
Word count: 8,703
Summary: After a brief attempt at a relationship, Ron and Hermione agree to remain just friends. But Ron is still in love with her and wants to make another go of it. Ron worries too much time may have passed and things get even more difficult when an old acquaintance makes a visit. Will Ron be able to prove to Hermione just how much he wants to be with her?
Warnings: None
Notes: Much thanks to luvscharlie for the quick beta job and the to the mod for being understanding. I hope you enjoy ^^


Dear Hermione
Dearest Hermione
My Darling Mione
Love of my life


Hermione, Yes, I can make it to your parents' house for dinner Friday. See you at seven.

Love
Ron


With a sigh, Ron folded the note and attached it to Pig's leg, giving him a treat before he flew off to deliver the letter. He found himself wishing that it was he who was flying to see Hermione for what seemed like the millionth time. He hadn't seen her in what felt like months, though it had really only been eight days and six hours and twenty minutes if you wanted to get specific. And yes, he was counting.

Every day that he didn't see her felt like a wound in his heart. Well, maybe that was a little dramatic, but bloody hell, he was so far gone that he was perpetually sappy. It drove him mad, but he didn't really see any other way out of it at this point other than death or baring his entire soul to Hermione and hope she still cared.

Ron drummed his fingers on the table. The flat he shared with Harry was quiet, a bit too quiet for his liking. Harry was working late again. Ron, who was opposed to working any later than he absolutely had to, on principle, had picked up some curry on his way home. He ate it slowly, hoping Harry would show, but of course he did not so Ron ate some of Harry's portion as well. After growing up in a house full of people and sharing a dormitory with four other boys, Ron hated coming back to an empty home. Harry always seemed to work later than Ron no matter how late Ron had to work as the stack of Stuff To Be Done Now on his desk often preceded his principles. Despite that, he had never quite got used to the solitude. Sometimes he would go around the pub for a bit, but he hadn't much felt like it lately. The only high point to being alone was that he was able to brood over his firewhisky in peace.

At least there was dinner with Hermione on Friday to look forward to. Of course, Harry would be there too, as well as Hermione's parents. Normally he'd look at dinner with Hermione's parents as an evening fraught with anxiety and a vast potential for embarrassment, but the absence of these feelings was a mark of just how much he missed seeing Hermione around all the time.

Hermione seemed to work even more than Harry did, so he saw little of her. Maybe there was something to this overworking thing. Everyone else seemed to be doing it. Maybe there was some happiness in it which seemed to be eluding him at the moment. He didn't have much of a life apart from working and his family and friends.

Ron, who had got in the habit of clearing up right after mealtime, if only to have some noise, was in the middle of tidying up the kitchen when Pig came back. He snatched the note from Pig as quick as he could with Pig fluttering around the room. It was a reply from Hermione. That was oddly quick, even for Hermione. Was she actually home?

Ron,

I'm so glad you're coming to dinner. My parents really like you and Harry so don’t start getting nervous. They've been after me to invite you to dinner again. See you Friday then. I’m looking forward to it, feels like we haven't seen each other much lately, doesn't it?

Hermione


She was looking forward to it. And he wasn't the only one who'd noticed that they didn't see each other very much anymore. That was something at least.

~~~

The time between Hermione's invite and Friday seemed to elapse rather quickly, so that Ron ended up feeling very much unprepared for dinner with Hermione's parents. Especially now that his normally reliable best mate just canceled.

"What do you mean you're not coming?" Ron asked Harry again, following him to his office.

"I mean I'm not coming," Harry repeated. "You know I've been up to my chin in paperwork lately. Hermione already knows and she's being reasonable and understanding about it, unlike some people." Harry sat at his desk and made a show of stacking paperwork.

"But why this night? Why don't you ever cancel on Ginny?" Ron demanded.

"Why is it such a big deal? You've met Hermione's parents before and they like you according to Hermione, so what's the problem? This will be good practice for you," Harry said a bit too casually.

Ron narrowed his eyes at Harry, studying his face for any sign of preconceived planning. "You're not doing this on purpose, are you?"

"And why would I do something like that?" asked Harry, distracted.

"Then what do you mean—'this will be good practice for you'?" Ron asked.

"For some reason, dinner with Hermione's parents seems to spark terror in you, so this'll give you a chance to get over that. You all ought to get to know each other better. It'll be fine with just the four of you."

"Dinner with them does not spark terror in me. Just the four of us? Somehow, I can't help but think you planned this out," Ron mused.

"Fine then, think that if you want, but you better get going. You don't want to make a bad impression by being late, do you?" Harry said, tapping his watch.

Ron glanced down at his own watch and realized with a start that he would be late if he didn't hurry. He shot Harry one last look of skepticism and hurried off to the Apparition point.

After a quick change of clothes into something (hopefully) tidy enough and not maroon (there seemed to be an unexplained increase of maroon in his wardrobe lately), he managed to make it to the Grangers' house at only five minutes past seven. He stood on the front step for a moment, trying to mentally prepare himself and remember past conversations with the Grangers so he wouldn't be at a loss for words. It was true, he hadn't ever been here without Harry in tow to take some of the pressure off. He didn't need Harry here, of course; it just seemed more formal without him. Like he was going to meet his girlfriend's parents which, given their current situation, was ridiculous.

Don't start going mental now. The Grangers' front step is no place to go to pieces—just because of a few nerves. Not that he was nervous or anything. Well, not very much anyway. Oh, bloody hell, what was that Muggle sport Mr. Granger liked so much? Wicket or was it croquet? Damn, he couldn't remember.

If he couldn't even remember something simple like that, how was he ever going to impress Hermione's parents? Or Hermione, for that matter? Hermione would never—

Just then, the front door swung open and there was Hermione. The sight of her standing there smiling at him chased all thoughts from his head.

"Hi," she breathed, pulling him into a hug. Merlin, she smelled lovely, like a Hogwarts' feast and Christmas and a Cannons' win all rolled up into one.

"Hi," he replied when she let him go. "S-sorry, I'm late."

"Oh, you're fine, but why were you standing on the doorstep? You're not nervous, are you?" she said, giving him a knowing look.

"Of course not."

"Well, come in then," she said, turning and leading the way.

He followed her inside, shutting the door behind him and rubbing his palms against his trousers. They went into the sitting room where Mr. Granger was fiddling with the wireless or whatever it was the Muggles called it, and Mrs. Granger was perched on the sofa.

"You just had it. Put it back on that song. I like that one," Mrs. Granger was saying to her husband.

"Mum, Dad," Hermione said, to get their attention.

Suddenly, all eyes were on him. "Hello," Ron said, wishing he had brought something.

"Hello Ron," Mr. Granger said, coming forward to shake his hand.

"It's so nice to see you again, Ron," Mrs. Granger said. "I've been telling Hermione to bring you round again."

"Thank you for having me," Ron said.

"How have you been?" Mr. Granger asked.

"Here, sit down," Mrs. Granger said, patting the cushion next to her.

"Oh, I've been fine. Fine," Ron said, sitting down on the edge of the seat.

"I'll get you a drink. Do you like white wine?" Mrs. Granger asked.

"We've got the hard stuff too, if you need it. You're looking a bit peaky," Mr. Granger added.

"Dad," Hermione said.

"Oh, wine's fine," Ron replied quickly, though he could do with a strong drink.

"All right. Dinner should be ready in a bit."

"Are you much of a wine drinker? We've got a rather excellent collection, in my humble opinion. I can show you our—"

"Dad, Ron's not really much of a wine drinker. I don't think he'd get much out of your collection or most of the people you show it to, for that matter," Hermione said, perching on the arm of the sofa next to Ron.

"I don't mind if--"

"Well, that's fine then. So how's work going? What was it you did again? Something Ministry related, wasn't it?" he asked.

"Yes, I work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement as an Auror," Ron answered.

"You'll have to refresh my memory. What's an Auror do again?"

"They're those dark wizard catchers, aren't they? Sort of like a detective," Mrs. Granger said as she entered the room. "Here you are, dear." She handed Ron a glass.

"Yes, that's about right," Ron replied, sniffing his glass before taking a small sip. It wasn't bad, a little sweet even.

"That's what they do at the Ministry, love? Sounds a bit dangerous," Mr. Granger said to Hermione.

"Well, I think I can handle a bit of danger. The Aurors are all trained and highly skilled at their job. The Ministry has different departments, remember, Dad?"

"Oh, yes, your Wizarding government, isn't it?"

"Exactly," Mrs. Granger replied. "Try to keep up, dear."

"Is there a lot of action on your Auror job?"

"A bit. But there's also a considerable amount of paperwork to deal with as well," Ron replied.

"Paperwork aside, sounds rather exciting. Are you into that sort of thing then?" he asked, giving Ron a peculiar look.

"Sorry?" Ron said, feeling that his answer was going to be studied in classic Granger fashion. He didn't want to bugger this up.

"That excitement filled, always on the go sort of lifestyle. I know quite a few lads your age are taken in by that sort of thing. A patient of mine came in once missing half his teeth, said he lost them bungee jumping or doing whatever 'extreme' sport lads these days are playing."

"Well, I've had my share of excitement. Honestly, I'd say it's a bit overrated," Ron answered truthfully.

Hermione's dad smiled broadly at him. "Cheers. Sensible, I like that. I've always preferred a quiet life myself, except for a period of time at Uni where I dreamed of playing cricket professionally. Our Hermione's very sensible too."

"Oh, Dad."

"It's true, unless you have some sort of double life we don't know about, love."

"No, no double life," she said, smiling into her drink.

"Of course not, she's much too busy working hard and winning awards and such," Mr. Granger said proudly.

"Awards? What awards?" He looked at Hermione.

"Oh, Hermione hasn't told you yet?"

"Dear." Mrs. Granger gave her husband a chastising look.

"What? I thought he knew."

"Knew what?"

"I was going to tell you. I only just found out about it today. And it's not an award, not really," Hermione said with a glance at her father.

"Nonsense. You're being honoured for your achievements, aren't you? That sounds like an award to me."

"Yes, but still, it's honouring us collectively for the work we've done so far, while bringing more attention to our work," she said, looking quite chuffed all the same. "It's next week if you'd like to come," she said to Ron.

"Well, of course I'll come. Knew it'd only be a matter of time before the Ministry started handing out more awards to you," Ron said, grinning.

"Oh, you two, it's not an award."

"All the same, we're still proud of you, love," Mrs. Granger said. "Bringing attention to the plight of those poor-- What were they called again?"

"House-elves," said Ron. Hermione smiled so brightly at him, his heart thudded a little harder against his chest.

"So Ron, any long term goals planned? Career or family-wise?" Mr. Granger asked.

"Er—" Ron could feel his face warming. Were your friend's parents supposed to ask you that?

"So Mum, is dinner ready?" Hermione said quickly, jumping up from her seat.

"Oh, yes, we can eat now," she said. "Unless—"

"Let's eat now, I'm hungry. Ron's probably hungry too, right? Ron has a big appetite."

"It's not that big," Ron mumbled.

Hermione pulled him aside as her parents left the room. "Sorry, my Dad's just being, well dad-like, I suppose. He's not really trying to put pressure on you or anything, so you don't have to say anything you don't want," said Hermione, her words coming out in a rush. "I know it sounds like he thinks we're—but he wasn't trying to, you know…"

"It's fine, really," he replied, staring at her. She had pulled her hair back but a few loose pieces framed her face. His hand was itching to twist the soft strands around his fingers. "You look really nice," he said lamely.

"Thanks. You look good too," she said. They stared at one another as if both wanted to say something. Ron wanted to say something in particular, but all he could focus on was how enticing her bare neck looked with her hair pulled away and how perfect and pink her lips were and how all he really wanted to do was—

"Everything all right, you two? Food's on," Hermione's mother said, poking her head in the room.

They both jumped. "Oh, yes, we were just talking, Mum. We're coming along now."

"Well, no rush," she replied, smiling slyly at them.

~~~~~~

"You know, I think they really warmed up to me," Ron said, leaning back in his chair.

"That's great, Ron, for the tenth time," Harry said, not taking his eyes off the parchment he was scribbling on.

"I think this is a good sign. Her parents kept hinting at Hermione and me very encouragingly, like they thought there was something was going on between us," Ron added.

Harry dropped his quill and stretched his arms before folding them behind his head and staring at Ron. "That's all well and good, but what are you going to do about it exactly?" Harry asked him seriously.

"Do about it?" Ron asked, confused.

"Yeah, what are you going to do about it? I've been listening to you talk about how things between you and Hermione are going really well or how they're going not so great for ages now. Just the other day, you were moaning about how you two never see each other and now you think her parents are encouraging you. But does any of this really matter if all you're going to do is sit here and talk about it?"

"You really think I should make a move?" said Ron hesitantly.

"No, I think you should continue mooning about her forever," said Harry flatly.

"I don't moon about her," said Ron, even though he knew it was true.

"Sure. But if not for yourself, then do it for everyone else around you. It's just getting sad watching you two, and frankly, we're all getting a bit tired of listening to you."

"But what if it's too late? I can't help but think I buggered things up royally and now too much time has passed. Sometimes it is too late," Ron said.

"And sometimes life passes you by because you sit on your arse thinking too much. You'll never know if you don't at least attempt to find out. You don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering what could have been, do you? And you shouldn't entirely blame yourself for the way things turned out," Harry said, going back to his work.

Ron considered this; that was probably true. "I just don't quite know how things got so buggered up in the first place," he sighed.

After the war ended, it had seemed like they were closer than ever. They were still dealing with the aftermath of the war, the pain and the joy that had followed. It had been a difficult time. Every moment of happiness had come at a price for them all. Having Hermione the way he wanted for so long seemed like dream already slipping away, so he held on tight, tighter than he should have.

Hermione went back to Hogwarts to finish out her seventh year properly. Ron did not follow. He couldn't understand why she would choose to go back to school, even though looking back, it should have been obvious that she'd go back. After all they'd been through, surely that had been schooling enough. And wouldn’t she want to stay together? During his first (and last) visit to see Hermione in the school year, they'd had a big row, initially over something so insignificant he couldn't even remember now what it had been, but it ended with them both agreeing that if they couldn’t support each other, there was no point in even trying to have a relationship. Maybe they had already started to take each other for granted or maybe they had been too stubborn to meet in the middle more often instead of enjoying just being with each other as much as they should have.

Eventually, they came to their senses and decided not to let their failed attempt at a relationship ruin their friendship, but things had never progressed past that. Ron started to believe that maybe they weren't meant to have any sort of romantic relationship. That hadn't stopped him from thinking about her and wanting to be with her on a daily, or perhaps more accurately, hourly basis. He wished he had at least told her that he loved her. That, more than anything else, ate away at him. He didn't think that he could go the rest of his life like that.

Harry was right; he didn't want to spend the rest of his life wondering. He had to do something, and he had to do it this very moment, he realized, before it was too late. "You're right," Ron said, standing up.

"Mmm." Harry paused to stare at the parchment for a few moments before crossing a line out.

"I'm going to finally do something."

"Mmm-hmm."

"But what should I do?" Ron sat back down.

"Mmm."

Ron glanced at his watch. It was just about lunchtime. "I'm going to ask her to lunch." It was a start, at least. "What do you think?" he asked, standing up again.

"Lunch? Sure, bring me back some curry," mumbled Harry distractedly.

"I don't suppose you want to go, do you?" Ron asked. Maybe this wasn't the appropriate time to invite Harry.

"Go where?" said Harry, still focused on his work.

"To lunch with me and Hermione."

"I thought you were getting curry."

"I'm finally doing something about my situation with Hermione, like you said. I'm going to talk to her over lunch."

"Situation. Is that what they're calling it these days? No, I would not like to watch you and Hermione stumble over yourselves while trying to maintain a platonic relationship over a meal. About that curry though?"

"Yes, yes, I'll get your damn curry. Wish me luck," Ron said. Suddenly he was nervous.

"Mmm-hmm."

"This is a big moment, you know."

"Just get on with it already! Bloody hell!" Harry cried, dropping his quill and holding up his parchment.

"What?" Ron leaned forward to look.

"All of your mumbling about Hermione messed me up, I'll have to do the whole thing over."

"Ooh, sorry. Well, good luck," said Ron, backing out the room. "Before you get too caught up, do I look all right?"

"Oh, piss off already," Harry said, chucking the balled up paper at him. "And don't forget my curry!"

Ron decided to stop by his office before surprising Hermione for lunch, to clear off his desk and make it look like he at least polished off some off his work this morning. Just as he opened the door, a 'paper airplane' zoomed in and landed on his desk. He unfolded the note and recognized Hermione's neat, small handwriting.

Ron,

I'm taking a lunch in ten minutes. I've realized I probably should take more of these. I was hoping you could meet me. And invite Harry too. I've got a surprise.

Hermione


Ron smiled to himself. Hermione wanted to meet him for lunch. They were obviously on the same wavelength; that had to be a good sign. And she had a surprise for him. That sounded promising. She invited Harry, which probably meant she wasn't going to confess her undying love for him, but that was fine. He'd just tell her that, regrettably, Harry was caught up with work and wouldn't be joining them.

Anything could happen. Ron's smile grew wider.

~~~

By 'anything could happen', Ron was thinking of something along the lines of Hermione confessing her feelings for him, and that confession leading to them skipping lunch and taking the rest of the afternoon off to go back to her flat. Or, perhaps Hermione's surprise would involve snogging him senseless, or even them just walking around London holding hands like some nauseatingly loving couple. He would have settled for a kiss on the cheek and a 'let's do lunch tomorrow'. Instead, to his utter shock and horror, he found himself sitting across from Viktor bleeding Krum, who was at the moment smiling and telling some very stupid and unfunny joke to Hermione. His Hermione, who was laughing and smiling back. He hadn't actually heard the joke because he was busy staring daggers at him when Krum wasn't looking at him, which was most of the lunch, but he was sure Hermione was only laughing to be polite.

"I'm so glad ve got to catch up," Krum said. "It's so nice to see you again, Hermy-own-ninny. And you too," he added, glancing at Ron.

"Yes, what a joy," Ron muttered.

"It has been great catching up," Hermione said. "I'm glad you looked me up."

Ron stared hard at Hermione. 'I'm glad you looked me up'--What was that supposed to mean? And who did Viktor Krum think he was anyway, looking Hermione up? Just because they were old friends and he was some big Quidditch star.

Ron fumed silently, not quite believing this was happening. Again. He had to watch Viktor Krum swoop in and try to make some sort of move on Hermione. And just when he had finally resolved to make a move of his own. There had to be some way to diffuse the situation. Ron tried to think of some excuse that would allow him and Hermione to leave while Krum stayed behind, or for them to stay here while Krum left, or for them all to just leave separately but with him and Hermione going in the same direction.

He was in the middle of concocting an elaborate excuse when he noticed Hermione and Krum were standing up. He quickly stood up too.

"Vell, I hope to see you again soon. And Harry, if he can get away. I'm going to be in London for a few more days," said Krum.

"That would be lovely," Hermione replied brightly.

He watched them exchange goodbyes, which included a hug that lasted a bit too long and looked a little too friendly. Krum turned to Ron. "Goodbye, Ron," he said, holding out his hand.

"Yeah, bye." He shook his hand and grudgingly added, "Good game last week against the Tornados, by the way." Despite his intense and irrational dislike of Krum, he could still appreciate a good game of Quidditch.

"Thanks," Krum nodded.

After they had all left the restaurant and Krum had gone his separate way (finally), Ron suggested to Hermione that they just walk back to the Ministry. She agreed and Ron silently cheered. Maybe he could find a way to turn this around during the short walk.

Ron opened his mouth to say something, he wasn't sure what yet, but he was hoping it would come to him by the time the words started coming out. Before he could begin, Hermione cut him off.

"Honestly Ron, did you have to be so rude? It's been ages since we've seen Viktor," Hermione said.

"I don't know what you mean," Ron said.

"You barely said five words the whole time, and you kept giving him rude looks. I think he noticed."

"Five words was all I could get in with you two acting like two people who haven't seen each other in ages," he finished lamely. Hermione just rolled her eyes. "And I don't think he noticed anything besides you anyway."

"Well, maybe if you made more of an effort to engage--"

"I doubt anything I said would have engaged him the way you did. He hung on your every word and practically tripped over himself just to touch you," Ron snapped.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Hermione demanded, stopping suddenly and narrowing her eyes at him.

"Oh, you know what I mean. 'I hope to see you again soon. That would be lovely'. Sometimes I think you like the attention," he accused.

"Don't be ridiculous, Ron. I haven't seen Viktor in a long time, so I was pleased to catch up with him, like any old friend. I can't help how you interpret the situation."

"So I'm the one misinterpreting the situation and being ridiculous, as always."

"I didn't say that."

"Yes, you did!"

"Fine, you're right. I agree with your assessment of what you think I said, completely. There, happy? And you can add ‘immature’ to that too," she said, glaring at him before stomping off.

Ron tried to wrap his brain around whatever it was she just said; the only thing that stood out clearly was the immature bit. How was he being immature? She was the immature one. He could stomp around too, and he stomped right after her.

"You're not really angry, are you?" he couldn't help but ask after a tense minute of walking in silence.

"No, not really," she said in a clipped voice, which, he knew from past experience meant that she still was, at least a bit. "I just don't understand why you have to be so rude and then take whatever your issues are out on me. I didn't understand it years ago, and I don't understand it now."

"Issues? What issues?" Ron asked.

"I'm not going to spell it out for you. And I don't think it's any of your concern how I act with my other friends. It's not as if we're-- well, not anymore…"

"If you can't count on your friends to point out when you're acting foolish, then who can you count on? I was just being honest," Ron fired back.

"With who? I don't think you've been honest in a long time. If there's something you want to say, then say it," she said.

They had stopped again, this time just outside the Ministry. He stared at her. She didn't mean what he thought she meant, did she? Was this his chance to finally clear things up between them? He opened his mouth with every intention of saying something meaningful, but somehow all that came out was a rather lame sounding "What?"

"Forget it!" Hermione turned away from him sharply heading for the Ministry.

"Wait, I mean—"

"Forget I said anything. I'm sorry I even brought it up. I'll see you later, Ron," she said without even one last glance at him.

He watched Hermione enter through the workers' entrance, utterly confused about what had just happened. And he was slightly amazed at how things went the complete opposite of what he originally planned. It was almost funny, in a sad, pathetic sort of way. Ron had started the lunch hour with a goal in mind, but he had been thrown off by something out of his control. And now, Hermione seemed too upset with him for reasons which were not entirely clear to him. This was all Krum's fault, the bastard. But it was only a setback. Not a sign that their relationship was already in trouble or anything. He'd just keep repeating that to himself.

~~~

Much later in the evening, Ron found himself still brooding over the incident with Krum. A few drinks at a slow pub and an hour of sitting in near darkness at the kitchen table with an untouched cup of tea got to him. That was how Harry found him, sitting at the table dejectedly, with a cup of tea that had long gone cold and staring at the note Hermione had written him inviting him to lunch.

"So, I take it lunch with Hermione went less than perfect," Harry said, sitting down in the chair across from Ron.

Ron shrugged. "You're home early."

"No, not really. It's just about ten," Harry said, frowning.

"Is it?" Ron glanced at his watch. So it was.

"You haven't been sitting here all evening moping over that same cup of tea, have you?" Harry asked.

"No," he replied, in a tone that was less than convincing even to his own ears. "I got your curry. It's on the counter. Sorry, I forgot to bring it to you for lunch. I got caught up." That was technically true, though he actually forgot about the curry altogether. Another problem caused by Krum to add to his ever growing list.

"Gee, thanks, mate. So how did things go?" Harry asked, peering into Ron's still full cup of tea.

"Krum," he said, dropping his head into his folded arms on the table.

"What?"

"Viktor Krum," he repeated, his voice muffled.

"Viktor Krum? He was there?"

Ron straightened up and nodded. "Hermione decided to surprise me. Did you know he has a goatee now? It's ridiculous."

"And I suppose you let the old jealousy come flying out full force?"

"I did no such thing."

"Yeah, sure. Hermione probably got fed up with you, and now you're sitting here feeling sorry for yourself, wondering how it all went so wrong. Am I close?" Harry said, leaning back and crossing his arms, as if he'd seen this all before and knew the outcome.

"No," replied Ron, irritably. "Well, maybe just a bit."

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"What are you going to do now?" Harry demanded.

"I dunno," said Ron truthfully.

"You're not going to let this whole Viktor Krum petty jealousy issue get in your way, are you? I should think you'd be past that by now," Harry said, getting up to search for a fork for his curry.

"But what if too much time has passed by? What if she's moved on? What if she's moved on with Krum?" Ron said, mostly to himself. He contemplated the thought of her moving on with Krum, but quickly tried to shake it from his mind. That particular thought was much too horrible to contemplate.

"I don’t know mate, you just have to figure out what you want. If you don’t think you can make it work, then maybe you should consider moving on," Harry said between mouthfuls.

Ron considered moving on and realized with a start that he never even attempted to move on. Not even after his and Hermione's relationship failed to go anywhere. He had half-heartedly gone on two dates that Seamus set him up with, and that was the extent of it. He had been caught up in his feelings for her and obsessing over her. This surprised him, but it shouldn’t have.

It wasn't just a matter of not being able to move on, he realized. There simply wasn't anyone else he cared to contemplate moving on with, and he couldn't imagine a time when there ever would be. This came to him with such clarity that he was surprised at his own mind. He didn't often stumble onto such clear thoughts.

He looked at Harry. "What?" Harry asked.

"I think you may be right," said Ron.

"Cheers then, mate," said Harry, raising his fork.

~~~

Ron spent the rest of the week trying to decide how to prove to Hermione that they really were better off together. At least he tried to work up the nerve to just tell Hermione that himself. She hadn't asked him to lunch again, or to anything else for that matter, and he was a bit unsure (okay, scared) of asking her in case she said no. So he didn't see her again until nearly a week later at the Ministry Banquet honouring several members of the Department of Human and Magical Creature Cooperation (formerly known as the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures) for their efforts in finally getting more equality laws passed for certain creatures.

He congratulated her when he arrived with Harry and Ginny. Hermione gave no sign that acknowledged their last row although her smile was a bit cool. He greeted her parents, who still seemed to like him, which was something at least.

Dinner was pleasant enough. Hermione explained to them all of the laws that had recently been passed, and how they'd raised a lot of money through fundraisers and donations. Though Ron had taken the mickey out of her when they were younger for always prattling on about S.P.E.W., he liked watching her as she talked of the things about which she was most passionate. Her face turned a lovely shade of pink, almost the exact shade it would turn when they rowed, which may have been why he occasionally provoked her. He imagined the rest of her would look quite lovely in that flushed shade as well, and he let his mind amble down that train of thought until he noticed Hermione staring at him. She looked away when he made eye contact.

They kept glancing at each other across the table throughout the rest of the meal. Ron had a few more glasses of the wine than he probably should have, but it gave him another excuse for his reddening face. He tried to reign in some of his more obscene thoughts, as they seemed rather inappropriate with Hermione's parents sitting only a few feet away.

After dinner everyone mingled about for a bit before the ceremony was to take place. Ron was considering saying something else to Hermione, something more impressive than 'congratulations' or 'you look lovely', but she was always mingling. Though he knew he probably shouldn't, Ron took another glass of champagne from a passing tray. He was glad he had when he saw whom she was talking to now.

Krum. Again. He looked like some stupid hulking gorilla standing next to Hermione, but she actually looked pleased to see him. Ron could feel his grip tighten on the glass as he watched Krum kiss Hermione on the cheek. He had some nerve. Ron had just decided to go over there when Harry blocked his path suddenly.

"Out of my way, Harry. It's time for me to finally to tell that smarmy git to back—"

"I take it you've seen Krum, then?" Harry said. "What happened to not acting like a jealous school boy?"

"Well, I—He can't just—oh,s what do you know anyway?" Ron groused.

"Come on, we're supposed to be taking our seats now," Harry said.

Ron followed him, looking around for Krum and Hermione, but he didn't see them anywhere. He felt a tap on his shoulder; it was the git now.

"Hello, Ron," Krum said.

Ron nodded tensely. "What are you doing here?" he said sharply.

"Hermy-own-ninny invited me."

"She did?" Ron gasped. Was it possible that the love of his life was interested in this wanker?

"Yes," he paused, as if studying Ron very carefully, and then said, "If you do not mind me asking, vhat is situation vith you and Hermy-own-ninny?"

"Situation?" Ron repeated, confused.

"Yes, I thought, for sure by now you'd be together since it's been long time since I've last seen you both. If there's nothing romantic between you, then I thought I might make a move. Hermy-own-ninny is a very beautiful voman and very smart; very good qualities for a girlfriend or vife."

Vife! Oh, no, Ron would have to put a stop to any thoughts of Hermione being someone else's 'vife' or wife right now. "Well, as a matter of fact, we are together."

"Really?" Krum looked doubtful.

"Yes, in fact, I was going to ask her to marry me-- one of these days, I mean soon. Very, very soon. We've just been taking it slow, very slow. She's not available to be anyone's girlfriend or ‘vife.’" So back off, you wanker, Ron added mentally.

"Vell, congratulations then. I think you two vould make good couple," Krum said.

"You bloo—wait, what?" Ron asked, feeling confused again.

"I like Hermy-own-ninny very much, but it's obvious you care much about her too. I alvays thought you vere just too scared to make a move, so I figure no sense in letting a good voman go by if no one else is going to do anything. But it's good to know you've become a man," Krum said, clapping him on the back. "Vell, I'll see you later."

Ron watched Krum walk off to find his seat, still feeling utterly confused. Did Krum just compliment and insult him at the same time? And more importantly, was he no longer a threat? Maybe he hadn't been as big of a threat as Ron always thought.

Looking around, he noticed that nearly everyone had taken their seats. He hurried off to find his own, looking for the familiar messy-haired head of his best mate. He found him and sat down with little time to spare. A few moments later, the ceremony began. A rather short and round man, Charles something, whom Hermione had pointed him out as her boss, gave a long speech. Ron took Ginny's still full glass, ignoring her elbow to his ribs as he listened to the next few people give their speeches. They were all longer than Ron thought necessary for an event of this type.

Eventually, Hermione spoke, and although Ron wasn't sure of everything that she said, his attention was solely focused on her and how she seemed to glow brighter than anyone else in the room. He'd been a fool to ever let her go. After she finished, there were two other speakers and then Charles something--was it McButterly?--made his way to the stage for closing remarks. Just then, Ron was struck with a sudden inspiration.

Ron knew this might be his last chance to prove to Hermione that he was serious about her and how much he wanted to be with her, so without further thought, Ron leapt out of his seat and hurried onto the stage just as McButterly had finished bidding everyone a good night. There were murmurs in the crowd, but he ignored them and focused on the task at hand. He could see the surprise and confusion on Harry and Ginny's faces, but he searched for the only face that really mattered right now. Hermione looked even more shocked than Harry and Ginny.

"Hi, I know you're all probably wondering what I'm doing up here. I'm not a scheduled speaker, although congratulations to Mr…er, the man just up here and everyone else being awarded--sorry honoured-- tonight. One of those people being honoured for her work in trying to secure equal rights for all magical creatures is Hermione Granger. She's the one with the brown bushy hair and slight air of know-it-all-ness down front there. I'm sure you all at least know of her. She's very smart and she works really hard. In fact, she's always been a few steps ahead of the rest of us, but she's always been on others to do their best too, especially me. I'm ashamed to say that I probably disappointed her on most occasions. But I'm trying to make up for that now.

"I just want to say that I've been a complete tosser and a fool. It doesn't pay to be a stubborn prat, by the way. My actions tonight may seem a bit odd, but this might be my last chance before I lose her to some smarter and more skilled bloke. So Hermione, I'm sorry. I love you and I want you to be my vife, I mean wife, someday. I'm sorry I never said that before," Ron finished.

A small group of people had clapped, either feeling sorry for him making a spectacle of himself up there or perhaps they thought what he'd done was really sweet. Others didn't look too pleased; some even seemed downright outraged that he had marred their event in such a way. The rest sat in uncomfortable silence, looking a bit confused. Ron looked around for Hermione, who looked shocked and a bit horrified. He really hoped she would say something. When she stood up, he felt his heart lift, but then she quickly fled the room and his heart plummeted toward soul-crushing reality.

The murmurs started up again, but Ron was too distraught to notice. He chanced a glance over at Hermione's parents, who appeared as taken aback as everyone else. Well, at least they weren't charging up here. He realized that he was still on the stage so he hurried off and out of the room as quickly as he could.

"Honestly, you couldn't think of a better way to reach out to Hermione? One that didn't involve you embarrassing yourself and Hermione?" he heard Harry say, causing him to jump. “Are you all right?”

Ron attempted a nod. "I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time," Ron mumbled, which was true. "But I didn't give it much thought." Which was also very true.

~~~


Hermione,

I'm sorry.
Ron


Ron sent the letter off with Pig. He sat down for a moment and then jumped a second later to get another piece of parchment.

Hermione,

I know you probably think I was just trying to cause a scene. And well, I don't entirely disagree with that. I meant what I said though. If I could do it all over again in a different way, I would. Short of using a time-turner, I can't, so I hope you can forgive me for the way I buggered things up. I can't imagine being with anyone else and I don't think there is anyone else. Maybe I'm too young or inexperienced to really know, but I know what I feel at least. I love you.

Ron again


Ron sealed up the letter and attached it to Pig when he returned a short while later, sending him off with a few treats before he had second thoughts. He spent the next hour pacing around the flat while he awaited some sort of reply from Hermione. She just had to reply. She couldn't ignore a letter like that. Maybe she just needed time to get her thoughts together. That was probably it. She wouldn't want to send a letter that babbled on like his did.

It had been several days since 'the incident,' as he preferred to think of it, and he had not heard from Hermione since then. He didn't really expect her to get back to him with another invite to dinner or anything although he wouldn't have been terribly surprised if a Howler showed up on his desk at work. He knew that it hadn't been one of his brightest moments, but in his own defense, he had been speaking from the heart. He hoped that would help his case in some way.

After an hour and a half, Ron decided he couldn't wait anymore. He left for her flat, hoping she was home. If she wasn't there, he'd just have to go looking for her. He couldn't let it end like this.

On his way to her flat, he stopped to buy flowers. He wasn't sure Hermione actually liked flowers. He couldn't recall the topic ever coming up before, but he knew it was a popular gesture that Muggle women seemed to like, so he figured it couldn't hurt. The idea of seeing Hermione again was starting to make him nervous, so he decided to walk the rest of the way to her flat. It wasn't far and, hopefully, he would think of what he wanted to say to her by the time he reached her front door. It had started to rain, but the rainfall was light enough for him to continue walking.

The sight of dripping red caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. He looked down and noticed that the rain had washed some of the flowers' petals away. The bouquet now had the appearance of being half-starved. Well, this was just perfect.
He sighed, holding the bouquet limply at his side and kept walking, but stopped short after only a few steps. Hermione stood there in front of him.

He wanted to say something. Really, he did. But his mind had gone blank. What was that word?

"Hi," she said. Oh yes, that was it.

"Hi," he replied. After a pause, he said, "I was just coming to see you. I didn't know if you were home or not but I…" his words trailed off. He was not sure where he was going with this.

"I was on my way to see you too," she said with a look of surprise.

"In the rain?"

"Well yes. Weren't you doing the same?"

"I—yes, I thought it would help to clear my head and give me a chance to work on what I wanted to say," he said.

"Same here." They stared at each other uncertainly. He wasn't sure which of them ought to make the first move now that they seemed to be on neutral ground.

"You're all wet," Ron said, and then mentally kicked himself for pointing out the obvious.

She patted her hair, which hung flat against her head, and shrugged. "It wasn't raining when I left."

Ron, still unsure of what to say or do next, handed her the flowers. "Here, these are for you," he said, cringing when saw how sad they looked. "They were a lot better looking when I got them, but the rain…"

"Oh, well, they're still lovely," she said, taking them. "Thank you."

"So did you get my letter?" he asked, figuring it was best not to drag this out anymore.

"Yes. I was going to reply, but then I thought it would be better to just talk to you in person," she said, still looking at the flowers.

"What were you going to say?" he said, bracing himself for the answer. She was talking to him now, so she couldn't be too angry.

She met his gaze. "Well, at first I had a few long paragraphs about how what you did was inappropriate for the time, why I was so embarrassed, why you had to be such a prat all the time, that sort of thing."

“I deserve that.”

"But that I kind of, maybe, admired you just a bit for saying what you feel, even if it was at the wrong moment. I thought your letter was very heartfelt and sweet and--and I, I don't know."

"You don't know? You don't know what?" he asked, feeling somewhat frantic.

"We've already tried and it didn't work out. Don't you think that means something?"

"It means we were young and stupid and stubborn. I've realized none of that stuff we were so worked up about is important now. We didn't focus on each other enough, and I'm sorry I made you feel as though I wasn't being supportive. I was selfish and I held on too tight. I was too thick to realize we already had each other. All I know is that I can't imagine my life without you in it, and if you feel the same, then we owe it to ourselves to try." His words came out in a rush. Suddenly, he felt light-headed. Hermione appeared to be thinking on whatever he said (he wasn't quite sure what it was, as it all came out so quickly). "Did I mention that I love you, and I'm sorry I never said it earlier?" he added.

It felt as though a small lifetime had passed before she replied again. "We were young and stupid, weren't we?"

Ron nodded, feeling relief at hearing her voice again. "But we don't have to be anymore. I like to think that we're older and wiser now."

She gave him a small smile, and he felt his heart slowly piece itself back together.

"Okay," she said.

"Okay?"

"How do we go about this now that we're 'older and wiser,' as you put it?"

"This?"

"Honestly, Ron, if you're older and wiser, you must keep up," she said, her smile growing wider.

"I just want to be sure that I'm really hearing what I think I'm hearing, and not what I want to hear. So this--you mean us?"

"Yes."

"As in us us?"

"Yes, us us. Do we just start over? Can we?"

"Damn, I haven't thought that far ahead," Ron muttered. Maybe he should have been a bit better prepared. "We could try…" His voice trailed off at the look on her face. "What?"

"I love you too," she said, before throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly.
"I'm sorry I didn't say that earlier," she murmured against his ear.

Ron wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of her wet hair. And then they were kissing with a fervor neither of them had felt in a long while. Ron wanted to savor the moment; it had been a long time since their last kiss, but he knew there would be more to come, so he kissed her harder as if it were both their first and last kiss. This felt right, and with that all other thoughts were gone from his head.

~~~

"So Hermione and I are together now," Ron said, sitting across from Harry's desk.

"Yes, I know," said Harry, distracted. "That's great, for the millionth time."

"I just like hearing it." Ron smiled to himself.

"Since you're together again, shouldn't you be spending every free moment together instead of bothering me? Go have lunch with her or something."

"We have the rest of our lives to have lunch, and I already sent her a note asking if she's free. I don't think I'm going to attempt to surprise her anytime soon."

"Oh, I wouldn't mind being surprised every so often, as long as you go over it with everyone else first." Ron swung around in his seat. Hermione was standing in the doorway. "Hello, Harry."

"Hermione," Harry said, glancing up at her.

"So are we having lunch or what?" Hermione said.

"On my way. I don't suppose you want to come, do you Harry?" Ron asked.

"No, thank you. I'd rather not watch you two getting romantic over a meal," Harry said, not looking up.

"All right then."

"Okay—Damn it! You messed me up again," Harry swore, dropping his quill.

"Well, let's go, Hermione," Ron said quickly, grabbing her hand. "And we’ll get your damn curry," he called back to Harry as they hurried out of the room.

------------------------

ORIGINAL REQUEST
Briefly
describe what you'd like to receive:
After their kiss before the Battle, it didn’t really go anywhere further. They’re buried in work at the Ministry, but Ron isn’t willing to give up and does something stupid/reckless but sweet and creative to get Hermione to understand he wants to be with her—steady and for real. Lots of awkwardness, humor, misunderstandings, minor angst and ultimately a happy ending.
Preferred Genre(s): Romance, humor, and a touch of angst.
Preferred Rating(s): Whatever floats your plot.
Canon or AU?: Canon, though it does not have to be EpilogueOfDoom-compliant.
A specific you want: I would love for Krum to show up at some point and try to get Hermione away (her being single). Mad jealousy on Ron’s part, but Krum turning out to be a noble, good guy after all.
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): Death-fic, AU, OOC, incest, ambiguous/bad ending, overboard plot, PWP.


Thanks for participating in the Love in Full Bloom Exchange!
 
 
 
drcjsniderdrcjsnider on June 23rd, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
ah... so adorable... ron was only partly culeless... i love how he spend so much time annoynig harry... great job
a little summer windslam_girl on June 23rd, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)
Ms. Friday: Stripes equals lovei_am_girlfriday on June 24th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this! I often think that there would be a few false starts with Ron and Hermione after the ending of DH. It's not a smooth road for them throughout the books so why would their romance? I think you wrote Ron so very well!

This just gets me, Maybe I'm too young or inexperienced to really know, but I know what I feel at least. I love you.

Yay you!
a little summer wind: just kateslam_girl on June 24th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
I think you wrote Ron so very well!

That's one of the most important parts to me so thank you! I'm really glad to know you think so and I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :D
howcanthatbe on June 24th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
I love you and I want you to be my vife, I mean wife, someday.
that made me giggle. i enjoyed the bumbling without being too brutish. very sweet. and the parent dinner was great.
a little summer wind: soft kateslam_girl on June 24th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! And I went over the parent dinner several times, I'm glad it came out well. :)
Kou Shun'u: hyde prettykou_shun_u on June 24th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
awwwww, completely adorable. loved her parents, krum, and harry. yay ron.
a little summer wind: sunslam_girl on June 24th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the sweet review and thanks for reading. :D
dransinha: Hermione & Rondransinha77 on June 24th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved this... dinner with Hermione's parents, Krum's return, Ron's jealousy, Ron and Harry's moments, Ron's declaration, and the sweet ending!
Wonderful fic! :)
a little summer wind: just kateslam_girl on June 24th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you! I'm happy to know you enjoyed this fic :D
Me: RHr | CorkArt Kisshpuckle on June 25th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful, well-paced and so so brilliantly close to the request!

xxx
a little summer wind: des and penslam_girl on June 26th, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you think so :D
Margot: Ron/Hermionemidnight_birth on August 22nd, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
First of all, I am so so sorry for not reviwing this story right away. I was sure I did, but I suppose I didn't press the "post" button. :(

Let me just get to the most important thing: I loved this story!! I thought it was absolutely incredible! You took every single one of my requests, and you wrote them all perfectly. This is exactly what I wanted, and so much better than I even knew it could get!! :)

The awkwardness was perfect, as well as their interaction. You really caught the essence of the two of them. The dinner scene was hilarious. I really know how nerve-wracking it is to have dinner with parents like this, and I really feel bad for poor Ron.

The jealousy was amazing! :D I loved your Krum, and how jealous Ron got. Just the thing I was talking about in my request. And, of course, Ron's ultimate gesture was awesome! I gasped and was embarrassed for him. But at the same time it was so brave and so sweet!!

On to favorite lines:

He hadn't seen her in what felt like months, though it had really only been eight days and six hours and twenty minutes if you wanted to get specific. And yes, he was counting. --> Aww. I know how that feels.

Well, maybe that was a little dramatic, but bloody hell, he was so far gone that he was perpetually sappy. --> :D Sappy's good enough for me. ;)

Merlin, she smelled lovely, like a Hogwarts' feast and Christmas and a Cannons' win all rolled up into one. --> I love how perfectly descriptive this is.

"No, I think you should continue mooning about her forever," said Harry flatly. --> Ha! at Harry and his sarcasm.

How was he being immature? She was the immature one. He could stomp around too, and he stomped right after her. --> This is really cute, and so Ron.

He tried to reign in some of his more obscene thoughts, as they seemed rather inappropriate with Hermione's parents sitting only a few feet away. --> Yay! Obscene thoughts! Funny.

I love you and I want you to be my vife, I mean wife, someday. I'm sorry I never said that before," Ron finished. --> LOL!!!!

Ron wanted to savor the moment; it had been a long time since their last kiss, but he knew there would be more to come, so he kissed her harder as if it were both their first and last kiss. --> This is an amazingly hot description. Love it!!

Once again, thank you so much! This was funny, witty, romantic and just everything I could've possibly asked for!!