A/N I am so, so sorry that it's been so long; I've been finishing my degree, but now I'm finished forever and that means more writing this summer!
When Charlie banged roughly on his bedroom door the next morning with a quick shout of "BREAKFAST!", Ron had almost forgotten about what had happened the night before. That was until he dragged himself out of bed just in time to see Hermione come out of the bathroom all clean and fresh smelling. He knew he was going red, and he knew that Charlie (who was waiting for the bathroom) could see him stare but he couldn't seem to look away, especially not when Hermione caught his eye and her own widened in surprise as her own cheeks flushed a pretty pink. There were a few tense seconds until she mumbled "Morning" and went downstairs. His eyes followed her.
Suddenly he noticed a strange choking sound and looked over to it's source only to realise that his brother was trying to hold in laughter.
"What?!" Ron asked indignantly.
"Oh, Nothing." Spluttered Charlie, "You two are ridiculous." He continued to laugh as he ruffled Ron's hair and disappeared into the bathroom.
Unruffled, Ron continued on his way downstairs, finding Hermione sat at the kitchen table he sat beside her. His mother was just finishing the beans when he sat down. Upon noticing him - and seeing that only he and Hermione were in the room - she seemed to be about to speak, when the twins burst in clamouring at the rest of the food that Ron hadn't piled on his own plate.
"Hey leave some for Hermione!" He snapped. All four of the room's occupants looked at him in shock.
His mother recovered first and with a wry smile added "Yes boys, don't be such greedy pigs."
The twins looked at each other and feinted expressions of horror before overtly politely offering a giggling Hermione everything on the table one by one.
Ron tensed, he hadn't meant for them to flirt with her. Not that they were doing it seriously, or that Hermione would ever consider them that way, he knew. But still it hurt a little that he had come to her rescue and she was focusing all her attention on them.
He was determined to get her alone so that he could have her full attention for at least a day before Harry came and took it all up. However, that was proving difficult as Ginny seemed to have the same idea. He thought it was terribly unfair, as Hermione was his…. er… friend, and not Ginny's. Though the two did seem to have gotten a lot closer over the past few years, and although usually he would be supportive of that – seeing Hermione interact with his family as though she were already a part of it warmed his heart – right now he had a mission and Ginny was getting in the way.
He had finally managed it, they were sat outside, Ginny had abandoned them and she was laughing at his story about a stubborn gnome when all of a sudden he felt a splash of liquid on his face. He looked up to see Hermione frozen and Ginny looking down carrying a jug of squash which she had tipped all over his poor … er… Hermione.
Ginny apologised and dragged Hermione away. Ron wasn't sure that it wasn't a ruse to get her away to talk and decided to make it just as hard for Ginny as she was making it for him. He followed them back to the kitchen and considered the chances of getting hexed if he followed them up the stairs when he heard his mother's voice. He hadn't noticed that she was even there so in his shock he automatically obeyed her request for him to sit. It was only a second after he had done so that he realised by her expression that he was in trouble. He couldn't think what he might be in trouble for though, and looking around he wasn't picking up any clues either.
"Mum, what -?"
But he didn't get the chance to finish as she had already began her tirade, she had heard them last night talking about not going back to Hogwarts.
He internally let of a number of swear words that would have landed him in even more trouble if his mother could have read minds, how could they have been so careless?
He was saved momentarily by his family and mentally thanked them while he came up with what to say, could he admit that it was true? He guessed he'd have to at some point, it might as well be now.
Ignoring his family frozen by the door, he summoned every ounce of Gryffindor courage and looked her square in the eye, "It's not a misunderstanding." He tried to keep his voice calm, although he was shaking inside.
The tension was awful and for a few seconds he genuinely thought that his mother might kill him.
Her outburst was unexpected though, she didn't seem to care that he wasn't going to school, more that he was going somewhere else with Hermione. Because of the shock he forgot to be scared, instead puzzling her words, before realising that she must have witnessed more than just their conversation last night. He hated that his mother seemed to have the impression that they were running off together in that way, particularly because he knew Hermione would be so embarrassed if she knew this was what his mother thought.
The courage seemed to come easier when he thought about Hermione's feelings and in some strange fit of insane courage he managed to defy his mother. He noticed Hermione in the doorway when he was finished and regretted not slamming the door on his family earlier. She looked so sad.
His mum told them to leave but then Hermione wouldn't and his mum had to bring up her damn parents. After seeing her tearing up all he wanted was to get out of this room.
When they were alone she asked him what they were leaving for and he found that h really wanted to tell her. Personally he thought they could do with a bit of adult help, though looking at his mother's worried eyes, he found that he couldn't bring himself to.
Then he found himself confronted with yet another crying woman, though this one he had seen coming, he grabbed her hand across the table. When his mere attempts at comfort didn't work he gave her a hug – one he hated to admit that he kind of needed himself.
You've grown again." His mother said wearily into his chest as the crying subsided.
He though that her change of direction was a bit odd but responded anyway, "I'm always growing."
She pulled away, gaining her composure, and Ron readied himself for her verdict.
She finally smiled at him, patting his cheek, which made him feel like a small child, "I'm not condoning this. Not one bit, but please, Ronnie, my baby, please be careful."
He didn't know why put he suddenly felt like crying too, maybe it was all this time spent around sobbing females.
"Always am." He replied gruffly, smiling to disguise his tears.
Then she said something that made his heart race, because he knew that he couldn't promise it, not one bit, "I mean it. No risking your life to save your girl's."
Before he had the chance to try and reassure her without actually promising her (there was no point in denying that he knew it was Hermione he was talking about, he knew by now that pretty much everyone but the girl herself was aware of how he felt) She came out with something that really made him blush.
"And I don't want to be made a Grandmother yet! At least not by you!"
The thought that she was this sure of his prospects as Hermione's boyfriend made him inable to say anything but, "MUM!"
He didn't know what to say, he could start by denying that they were even a couple but then that made him look pathetic and then she started laughing and he couldn't begrudge her of it. He took his chance to sneak out when his dad opened the door and made it to his room without bumping into anyone else.
Unfortunately, Hermione was right there waiting for him. The slight tinge of embarrassment in her features and her slightly laboured breathing told him that the crack that he heard seconds before escaping had been her own escape. She had probably heard what his mother had said.
"I'm sorry. She just…" He didn't have to finish, she nodded in acknowledgement. "And I'm sorry she mentioned your parents, and I'm sorry I'm mentioning it now… I"
He was floundering for words and she seemed overcome with emotion for a strange moment and hurled herself into his arms once more. This time it felt a lot more natural, and he took a moment to bury his nose in her curls, and she sighed softly, murmuring, "thank you". He murmured a "no worries" and they stood there for a long time holding each other, silently acknowledging their feelings for one last time.
When they pulled away, Hermione looked up at him as though debating something, it seemed to take her an age to decide but then she finally took his cheek in her palm and leaned up towards him. For a breath-taking moment, he thought that this was it, but her lips missed his only slightly, the corner of her mouth just touching the corner of his, so close in fact that it barely qualified as a kiss on the cheek.
In that brief moment after, he could tell that she wanted more, and was almost resolved to take her then and there when he heard the distinct voice of Mad-Eye downstairs, remembering the job that they had to do tomorrow. Something about it stopped him. And he hated it.
After they had said their tentative goodnights – him supressing the strange urge to ask her to stay – he lay in bed wide awake thinking about how much was about to change and for one small second, guiltily cursing Harry Potter's name. He drifted off to dreams of Hermione's soft lips on his cheek.
Thanks for reading! :)