No matter how much Ron Weasley refused to admit it, he was absolutely smitten with Hermione Granger. He had been for quite some time now, and it broke his heart every time they fought. He just wanted so much to talk to her without somehow getting into an argument. But there was always something that was wrong. He was being a prat, she was writing Vicky, he was being lazy, et cetera, et cetera, et bloody cetera.

Overall, he was ready to just give up on her altogether and become a wizened old hermit.

The worst part was that he had absolutely no hope whatsoever in Hermione actually liking him back. She was too good for him. She was so much smarter, so much cleverer, so much more...something than he was. And it was so easy for her to fight with him. Ron got the impression sometimes that they were pretty much on the border between friends and rivals. And the fact that she still wrote to Vicky...well, she must have feelings for him if she can write an entire roll of parchment's worth of stuff to him. He really had no hope.

Ron shook himself out of his reveries and glanced around. Thankfully, nobody seemed to have noticed that he had been staring at Hermione taking notes instead of staring fixedly at Professor Binns with his eyes out of focus. Ron sighed, wishing that just once she would stop taking notes and be a little less too good for him, so that maybe there would be a chance for them. But no, she was always an overachiever.

Bloody hell! She's the bossiest overachieving know-it-all on the face of the planet, but I love her anyway! Ron snorted, then looked up realizing that people were staring at him, pulled out of their daydreams by the sudden noise. He felt his ears start to heat up, turning the telltale Weasley-red blush. Professor Binns continued to drone on, oblivious to the fact that people were paying even less attention to him than usual. Harry cocked an eyebrow at him. Ron just shook his head, feeling the heat creeping up his neck to his cheeks. Get a hold of yourself, Ron! Stupid Weasley genes, with their pale skin and bright red blush!

The bell rang, taking people's attention away from Ron as they rushed to get out of the classroom. Hermione gathered her notes and stowed them neatly in her bag. Ron gazed at her, then realized that Harry was looking at him and tore his eyes away.

"What was that all about, mate?" Harry asked quietly.

"Oh, nothing, I just remembered something funny is all," Ron replied in a would-be offhand voice, his eyes darting over to Hermione again.

Harry gave him a skeptical look, but didn't inquire any further. Ron gathered his books and joined Harry and Hermione as they exited the classroom.

"What do we have next?" he asked.

"Double Potions," Hermione replied. Ron nodded, and the backs of their hands brushed, causing his stomach to flip-flop. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and found that she was also glancing at him. Since Ron wasn't exactly watching where he was going, he stumbled slightly and accidentally knocked Hermione as he tried to regain his balance.

"Sorry!" they said at the same time, rather quickly. Once again, Ron felt the red blush creeping up his face.

For some reason, Harry appeared to be trying to suppress laughter.

"What's so funny?" Ron demanded.

"Nothing, absolutely nothing," Harry said in a strained voice, clearly trying to keep from bursting out laughing. "I just remembered something funny."

Now it was Ron's turn to look skeptical. However, he had no time to inquire further, as they had just reached the door to the Potions classroom. They entered and took their seats just as Snape swept in and snapped the door shut.

"Today you shall be working in pairs...assigned pairs," he added as Ron and Harry instinctively moved together. "We will be making antidotes today to the Draught of the Living Dead. You will need to be very concentrated, and therefore I shall be splitting you all up." Snape grinned maliciously as he approached their table.

"Mr. Potter, you will be with Mr. Malfoy." Malfoy smirked, his gray eyes glinting. Snape then looked down at Ron and Hermione.

"Oh, now time to split up the two lovebirds," he said in a mocking tone. Ron's heart skipped a beat. Lovebirds? What was he talking about? Was he really that obvious? He noticed that Hermione's eyes had gone wide. "Weasley, you're with Longbottom. Miss Granger, you're with Miss Parkinson. Don't stand there all day, we have to get started!"

Ron grudgingly got up and moved over to sit with Neville, who was looking as distressed as he usually did during Potions. Throughout the class, Snape took points off from Harry for insulting Malfoy, from Hermione for being too bossy, and from Ron for "letting" Neville put the wrong ingredient in to "make him look better."

"That fucking bastard!" Ron cursed as they left the classroom and headed to lunch. "Taking points away for the dumbest fucking reasons! I swear, one of these days I'm gonna curse that slimy asshole into...into a...a..."

"A what?" Hermione asked.

"I don't know. I can't think of anything horrible enough," Ron replied. Harry snickered while Hermione looked disapproving.

"Ron, he may be a horrible person, but he works for the-"

"The Order, I know!" Ron exclaimed, exasperated, as they entered the Great Hall. "But good Lord, Hermione! The stupid git took points away from you for being too bossy! Don't try to tell me that's not evil."

Hermione sighed. "Ron, I know it's evil, but he's on our side, you have to remember that."

Ron started to protest, but then thought better of it. No need to create more tension than there already was, and goodness knows there was already tons of it. Instead, he merely muttered, "Our side my ass!" to Harry, who snorted as he sat down.

Ron sat next to Hermione, and throughout lunch, their elbows kept bumping. Every time this occurred, Ron's heart would leap and his stomach would flip-flop. However, the conversation between them was slightly strained, for neither of them wanted to say anything that would start another argument. Harry seemed to sense something was up, and as their unofficial mediator, he would quickly change the subject whenever the conversation started to go down a dangerous path.

At the end of lunch, Harry, Ron, and Hermione gathered their books and headed out to the greenhouses for Herbology. The class was very uneventful, as were the rest of their classes that day. However, uneventful as they were, the trio still had tons of homework from each class, which is why they could still be found in the Gryffindor common room at ten thirty, bent over their books.

"Hermione, please can I have a look at your essay, just for ideas?" Ron pleaded.

"No, Ron, you may not!" Hermione was looking at him with a half exasperated, half scolding look. "You know I don't condone cheating."

"It wouldn't be cheating. I would just be getting inspiration, and further broadening my understanding of the subject-"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron, you need to stop relying on me to give you the answers! We have our N.E.W.T.s next year, and I can't help you on those, so you need to start working harder."

"Spare me the lecture, Hermione! I just want you to help me with this essay! I don't understand the concept of the antidote, and you can't expect me to learn anything with Snape breathing down my neck."

Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair, obviously ready to wait out this upcoming argument. Ron stomach was twisting uncomfortably, but he was so frustrated that he couldn't stop arguing.

"Why not? If I can manage it, Ron, I'm sure you're perfectly capable of it too!"

"Hermione, I'm not capable of everything you're capable of! You know you're smarter than I am, and you know you learn things faster than I do, so there's no need to remind me of that!" Ron was hardly aware of the words that were tumbling out of his mouth. He noticed that Harry was starting to inch towards the stairs, trying to escape the madness.

"Wha-what?" Hermione asked softly, an odd look on her face. Harry continued to make his getaway.

"Hermione, you're too good for me, okay? We've established that, and you reminding me of it doesn't help! Jeez! All I wanted was help with my essay!"

"You...you think I'm too good for you?" Hermione repeated, still looking at Ron oddly.

"Yes, you know you are." Ron could now feel his face heating up. Again, he cursed his damned Weasley genes.

"Ron, that's a horrible thing to think!" Hermione said in a very odd tone, getting up and walking over to where Ron was sitting. She braced herself on the arms of his chair and leaned in close, so that they were looking at each other eye to eye.

"It's true," Ron said softly, casting his gaze downward, his face growing an even deeper red. He suddenly realized how very awkward this was. He wished he'd never said anything. He chanced a look back up at Hermione and saw that she was still gazing at him with a very odd look on her face. He really wished he knew what that odd look was supposed to mean.

This was driving him crazy. She was so close to him, the girl that had haunted his dreams, the girl that had gotten him through impossible essays, the girl that he was crazy about. If he leaned forward two inches, their lips would meet. He wanted to kiss her, but he didn't dare. It would mess up their friendship if he did something stupid like that now. He didn't dare...did he? He was still trying to figure out the expression on Hermione's face, when she sighed very suddenly.

"What? What's wrong?" Ron asked quickly.

"Ron, this is stupid!" Hermione exclaimed, standing up and pacing in apparent frustration. "We've been playing this stupid game since at least third year. There's so much damn tension, when we both know that the tension is only there because we're clearly in denial. So will you stop thinking I'm too good for you and kiss me already!"

Ron sat there gaping in shock. Had Hermione really just said that, or had he imagined it? But she was standing there looking at him expectantly, her face slightly flushed. So, he got up and awkwardly approached her. He hesitated.

"Ron..." Hermione said.

A million things were going through Ron's mind at that moment. Maybe he should just deny that he likes her, for fear of ruining their friendship. What if he did something stupid? What if...

"Oh, sod it!" he exclaimed, suddenly pulling Hermione close and pressing his lips against hers. So many years of pent-up desire, hormones, and passion came pouring out. The kiss deepened and Ron found himself getting lost in it, falling back against the couch with Hermione on top of him. He couldn't believe they were actually snogging on the sofa in the common room, after Hermione had basically ordered him to kiss her, all because he had said she was too good for him.

Ron and Hermione continued snogging on that couch for quite some time, until they heard someone clear his throat. They both looked up and saw Harry standing at the foot of the stairs to the dormitories, grinning, his eyes twinkling.

"Took you two long enough!" he said. "I was wondering how much more arguing I would have to put up with before you two began snogging your brains out."

Ron turned slightly red at this pronouncement and Harry chuckled.

"Don't stay up all night on that thing, or else goodness knows what we'll all find in the morning." He turned around and walked back up the stairs, shaking his head and still chuckling under his breath. Ron then looked at Hermione.

"I should probably go to bed," he said. "You know, class and all tomorrow."

Hermione simply nodded, and began to get up, but Ron pulled her back down and kissed her deeply before letting her go.

"Good night."