All I Know

By Stargirl

Author's note: Thank you so much for the grand reviews! You guys are awesome! Feedback inspires me to write. ;-) This chapter was supposed to be the one entitled "No matter how I try".

Chapter Two: No matter how I try

Hastily, Hermione put the cordless phone into its cradle in the kitchen. She rushed upstairs to her room and flicked her wand whilst muttering spells to pack. She put two month's worth of books into one trunk and "Reducio"-ed her clothes and toiletries to fit into a small suitcase. Tapping her forehead, she tried to think of anything she forgot. She decided to take her CD's and shrink her stereo into the same suitcase as her clothes. Crookshanks purred from his usual spot on Hermione's bed.

"Crookshanks! I'm going to be leaving. I'll be staying with Ron for the rest of the summer." Seeing Crookshanks' brow crease, she consoled him. "But Mum and Dad will bring you to Platform 9 ¾ on the day we take the train back to school, alright?" Hermione looked to Crookshanks for any sign of recognition. Crookshanks merely purred and raised his head to be petted. "That's a good kitty…"

Crookshanks' mouth curled into a sly smile akin to that of the Cheshire Cat. So. She and Ron, eh? If something doesn't happen between them this summer, I'll have to do something drastic.

BANG!

Hermione jumped.

Following the bang downstairs came clattering and sputtering.

Ron! Hermione sighed happily. She caught herself in the mirror and was horrified. I did not just sigh about Ron's arrival! She magicked her suitcase and trunk to follow her down the stairs as she descended to meet a rather disheveled Ron.

"Hermione!" He stopped brushing soot off of his clothes—a white Chudley Cannons shirt that had shrunken over the years from frequent wear, jeans, and ratty black Converse All-Stars—to look up at her. His lips stretched into a broad grin as he took in the sight of her. Her curly brown hair was pulled into a messy bun atop her head and she wore a small yellow t-shirt with a white daisy on it and jeans. She was barefoot and her toenails were painted pink.

Hermione took a tentative step towards him and absentmindedly brushed his bangs out of his bright blue eyes. His red hair had grown into the ever-popular emo-boy hairstyle—long bangs and long enough to curl at the nape of his neck. "Ron…" She smiled back at him as the hand that brushed his bangs out of his eyes came to rest on his shoulder.

Over the past year, aside from the playful shoves and "situation appropriate" hugs, Hermione had formed a habit of fixing Ron's bangs. While she liked his hair long, she hated when his bangs obstructed his eyes. Likewise, when Hermione's curls sprung out of her ponytail or bun, Ron would tuck the errant strands behind her ear. There was something about these hair-fixing gestures than met the eye, it seemed. Tenderness? Deep-seated love? An uncontrollable hair fetish? Probably not…more than likely, it was another excuse for them to get in each other's face and touch each other.

He stepped forward, approximately an inch away from her and staring into her dark brown eyes, then threw his arms around her waist. He scooped her up and twirled her around. She shrieked in surprise and instinctively threw her arms around his neck as they spun in the living room until they dizzily swayed from side to side.

"Ahem." Her father Dr. Granger cleared his throat, feigning seriousness. The doctors Granger seemed to have silently Apparated into the living room, when really they had been watching their only child shriek happily when her "best mate" swung her around as though it was the most natural position to be in the entire time. Not at all suggestive of anything but friendliness.

Ron set Hermione down carefully and gave the doctors Granger a sheepish wave, willing his face not to redden. "G'morning Dr. Granger." He held out his hand to her father Dr. Granger, who gripped it firmly. "And Dr. Granger." He shook her mother Dr. Granger's hand.

"Good morning, Ron." Her mother Dr. Granger raised a brown eyebrow, "So Hermione will be with you the rest of the summer, eh?" Her mother's hair was brown, extremely straight, and cut in a short wedge.

"Yes." Ron nodded, then added nervously, "Ma'am."

During this exchange, Hermione quickly fetched socks and her fading blue Converse All-Stars from the kitchen and put them on before reentering the living room.

"That's my only daughter you were twirling around a moment ago—" her father Dr. Granger began, keeping his pseudo-stern face. This face terrified Ron, though Dr. Granger was dwarfed by him since Dr. Granger was a half-foot shorter. Her father's hair was parted and gelled, but from the way random strands came loose in waves, one could tell where Hermione's ridiculously curly hair came from.

"Yes." Ron continued nodding, then added, "Sir." Merlin, I had no idea that Hermione's dad was so protective…

Her father Dr. Granger's mouth went from a firm line to a smirk, "—so she better have the best bloody summer of her life!" He chuckled.

Ron exhaled loudly, not realizing he'd been holding his breath. "Heh…heh!" Ron forced a laugh. "And she will, sir! Well, I hope she will…"

Hermione snickered inwardly. Dad really had Ron going for a minute… Ron took her suitcase and trunk and put them into the fireplace. He took some Floo powder from his back pocket (where he also kept his wand) and threw the powder into the fireplace. Hermione kissed her parents goodbye.

"Don't do anything I would've done at your age!" her father Dr. Granger gave Ron a wink as Ron and Hermione squeezed into the fireplace. The two exchanged appalled looks.

"The Burrow!" The two sixteen-year-olds shouted clearly. They spun faster and faster and in the confusion, Hermione spun into Ron's chest.

"Sorry!" She shouted over the whirling soot around them.

Ron's arm unconsciously wound itself around her waist to keep her from bumping into the walls of the fireplaces they passed by. This is nice… Hermione laid her head on his chest. They stopped spinning, much to both their dismay. Still in close proximity, the two jumped apart and out of the fireplace, suddenly very interested in dusting off their clothes.

"Well, here we are." Ron said awkwardly. Oy! What were you thinking, you git! When a girl—er, your best mate who happens to be a girl—accidentally spins into you during a ride through the Floo network, you shouldn't take advantage of the situation! Not that she moved away… This is Hermione, you're talking to yourself about! In your head, no less! Freak.

Hermione tried to grab for her suitcase and trunk, both of which Ron were holding, but he refused. "Ron, honestly, I can carry things for myself!" But it's nice that you're carrying them…

Ron shook his head, "Mum wouldn't have it. Weasley boys are supposed to be chivalrous and good hosts—"

Hermione snorted, "Yeah, the twins are prime examples of this…"

Ron ignored that comment, "—so I'll show you where you'll be staying." They climbed up the stairs to the floor with Ron and Ginny's rooms.

"Ron, I've been coming to your house for years now, I know where Ginny's room is…"

"Shh!" Ron held up a hand as they ascended the final flight of stairs and stood before Ginny's room. "You shan't belittle my host duties while you're here. Anyway, I figured it'd be the cleanest besides that wretched prat's—"

Hermione interrupted him before he launched into a Percy-bashing diatribe, which would only result in a sour mood. "Lovely! It's lovely, Ron." She paused and tiptoed to hastily kiss him on the cheek, "Thanks for inviting me! I'm going to take a shower, then…" Her voice trailed off as she slipped into Ginny's room and closed the door behind her.

Ron's hand flew up to his cheek, which had been seared by the slightest graze of her lips. "You're…welcome…" He croaked and leaned back against the closed door. "Blimey."

Hermione leaned back against the other side of the door and mentally berated herself. What were you thinking?! Giving him a kiss—even if it was on the cheek—to shut him up. Brilliant, Hermione, just brilliant. She kicked off her shoes and unpacked her books, setting them in piles on the floor. She enlarged her suitcase of clothes and took a clean shirt and pair of shorts out. Opening the door hesitantly, her eyes darted from one end of the hall to the other. No Ron in sight. Walking to the bathroom at the opposite end of the hall, she slipped in and locked the door behind her. She took a fluffy towel out of the linen closet above the toilet and hung it over the shower curtain rod.

Ron fetched clothes from his room, then went downstairs to shower in the twins' bathroom. He studied his face in the mirror. Hermione's faint pink lip-gloss print was on his cheek. He raised his hand to it but didn't touch it, lest he mess it up.

His reflection said, "Git. You'll have to wash it off, anyway."

"Shut up. Bloody inanimate object." Ron stuck his tongue out at his reflection.

"Touchy, aren't yeh, Casanova?" His reflection raised an eyebrow.

Ron threw his towel over the linen cabinet to block his reflection, then took a shower. He got out, magically dried his quasi-long hair and pulled on shorts and another shirt. Yet another Cannons shirt, which somehow had acquired a ridiculously large hole above his navel. "Dammit!" He pulled it off and ascended the stairs, shirt balled in his fist.

After her shower, Hermione emerged from the bathroom, changed into clean clothes, wand sticking out of her back pocket. Her hair was magically dried into the crazy curls she usually sported. Ron ran up the stairs and ran into Hermione. Rather, she ran into his bare chest.

"Oof!" She looked up and gulped. "Er—sorry…" She couldn't keep from gawking at his broad chest and well-defined abdominal muscles. Not to mention broad shoulders and big hands… Merlin, I'm a randy old bastard! Okay, different non-sexual thoughts… He's wearing the necklace I gave him for Christmas. Lovely. It rests right in the middle of his bare chest—the middle of his collarbone—bah! I give up.

He laughed nervously in spite of himself, "Heh, my mistake." Seeing her so flustered was a rare sight, so he changed his tact and leered, "Like what you see, poppet?"

She scowled fiercely, "How much of that conversation did you hear?!"

He folded his arms across his chest with a triumphant look about him, "Oh, not much. Just the bit about how you didn't deny that I'm a handsome bloke."

Ordinarily, she would've been embarrassed or would've shot back with one of her fast barbs. Maybe it was her new shampoo. Maybe it was the fact that The Burrow was completely deserted. Or maybe it was the fact that her best mate who happened to be a handsome bloke was half-naked in front of her. Whatever it was, she had a burst of Gryffindor bravery. She stepped toward him, causing him to swallow uncomfortably since they were now centimeters apart. She trailed a finger from the nape of his neck forward, following the silver chain that held a silver charm, which settled in the middle of his collarbone.

She toyed with the charm, "Do you wear the necklace I gave you for Christmas everyday?"

A corner of his mouth twitched upwards, "Yeah." His big left hand found her small right one, "Do you wear the ring I gave you for sweet sixteen everyday?"

"Yeah." She dropped her hand from his necklace and watched as their hands interlaced naturally.

His thumb ran over the smooth silver ring on her middle finger. He wore one exactly like it on his right hand. They were silver friendship rings he'd found at a jewelry store in Diagon Alley, as recommended by Fred and George. Even if the idea was cheesy, she loved it all the same. She noticed he smelled clean and boyish—a mixture of soap and woodsy aftershave. His chin hovered just about her head and he inhaled the floral scent of her shampoo.

She made a noise, causing him to let go of her hand and back up. "Er, maybe you should go find a shirt." Don't want him to think you're a slag or anything of the sort. Not that you'd even think of doing anything…slag-y…with him. Never! He's just…Ron. Yeah…

"Right." Ron's head bobbed up and down slowly and he backed into his room, never turning around to stop looking at her. Awkward much?! While rummaging through his bureau, he heard the floorboard creak. He whipped around to find Hermione leaning in the doorframe, head cocked to the side, arms folded across her chest. She'd been watching him. "Yes?"

"You should wear less orange." Hermione said matter-of-factly as he reached for another Cannons shirt. Another orange one that Harry bought him for his birthday, which matched the orange hat Harry had gotten him years ago.

"Why?! One of The Cannons' colors is orange! Orange isn't a bad color! I happen to own loads of Cannons merchandise that's—" Ron began ranting.

"Blue looks better on you. Bring out your eyes." She winced and internally slapped herself. "Er—that made me sound rather thick—"

"Oh." He replied, fished a blue button-up shirt from his bureau, and held it in front of his chest, "In that case, I'll go with this one. I bet it'll make me look handsome." He pulled it on, buttoned it up, and rolled up the sleeves to reveal his strong forearms.

Unconsciously, Hermione licked her lips and didn't refute his statement as she watched him. The gesture didn't go unseen by Ron, who felt the sudden need to busy himself with making his bed and stop staring at her mouth. She probably forgot to put on that lip-gloss, so she was just moistening her lips. Mm-hm… She crossed the threshold into his room and helped tug the corners of the sheets and tuck them under the mattress.

"You mustn't be a very docile sleeper." She commented. The blankets were in a ball and his pillows were scattered across the room.

He shrugged, "Are you a docile sleeper?" He picked up a pillow from atop his bookshelf and put it over the sheets.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" She smiled cheekily and grabbed a pillow from the corner on the floor.

Ron wiggled his eyebrows, "Maybe."

That comment elicited a slap on the arm from Hermione.

Two years or even a year ago, neither of the two would be consciously flirtatious. At all! Or make slightly insinuative comments about each other's sleeping habits… The change was so gradual that hardly anyone noticed—people had been suspicious of the two since their first year. But to specifically pinpoint an occasion, one could put her money on April second of their sixth year. Only three months before.

On April first, Dumbledore declared that Hogwarts would have a Commencement Ball at the end of May to celebrate the seventh years' commencement…with the older half of the school present. Most of the students thought that their headmaster was getting their hopes up, only to make fools of them since the date suggested so. However, on April second, he declared again that there would be a Commencement Ball—he wanted the students to celebrate the end of the term on a high-note.

While Hermione had always been that clever, bossy, frizzy-haired Prefect who made the highest marks, boys had taken note that she was now an attractive yet clever, bossy, and frizzy-haired Prefect who made the highest marks. It only took them two years to notice her teeth didn't bear semblance to those of a beaver and that she was rather pretty when she wasn't screaming at fellow students for rule breaking. Likewise, Ron had grown up and into his tall and gangly body, which had become less gangly and more muscular. No girl would care if he wore dress robes with severed hems so long as they could go to the ball with the fiery-haired (and tempered) Gryffindor Keeper. By then, he had gained wisdom as to how to treat a ball date.

Needless to say, the two awkward ducklings-turned-less awkward swans were sought after the moment Dumbledore confirmed that the ball wasn't a joke. Ron and Hermione had been chatting in the Great Hall after Dumbledore's confirmation when Ron saw a giggling pack of fourth years approaching at an alarmingly fast pace over Hermione's shoulder. He grabbed Hermione's hand and sprinted to the Prefects bathroom.

"Spearmint!" Ron half-yelled in a panicked manner, glancing over his shoulder to see the fourth years gaining on them. He thrust the door open, pulled Hermione in, and slammed the door behind them.

"Ron! What are we doing here?!" Hermione demanded. She was breathless from running and in the bathroom with Ron standing less than a foot away from him. Fortunately, no one else was in there.

Ron whipped out his wand and charmed the door to stay locked. Hermione's brown eyes widened; half-frightened, half-intrigued. "Ron—"

He pressed a finger to her lips, which instantly silenced her. "Hermione, will you go to the ball with me?"

She swatted his finger away, and replied, "Well…yes."

His face lit up, "Brilliant."

Presently, though, they moved shoulder to shoulder and tucked the corners of a blue blanket under Ron's mattress.

Author's note: Okay, so that was kind of anti-climactic. But if these kids have been dancing around snogging each other senseless, you'd think that two months would be a nice span to spread out the development. Or not… But I wouldn't want it to be too abrupt. Reviews really inspire me to write. And post. Hehehe. Thank you so much to all of you who reviewed! Do it again? :)