Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters.

A/N: Updated 12/11/2010 & 12/24/2020

Chapter One

The Meeting

It had been another long day. Another long and pointless day, he thought bitterly. He had been working hard for the last two years and he was doing well … he knew that, but that didn't stop him from being frustrated every now and then. And right now, he was definitely frustrated. He knew why of course, he didn't have anything to do and whenever that happened … whenever there was a low in his job he was left time to think and he didn't want that. No he had enough time to think when he was at home and right now he just wanted to relax.

So he decided to go somewhere that no one would know him, for you see he was quite famous where he came from. He did have a big hand in saving their world after all. Most of the time this fact didn't bother him, though it wasn't as glorious and enjoyable as he had imagined it would be when he was a kid. However, on a day like this, he just liked being left alone; he didn't want to plaster a fake smile on his face, for all the people that wanted to see their happy hero.

About a year ago, he would have gone into a pub and drown his sorrow, but he was doing it a little too frequently and his family started to get concern. In the end, what had really stopped him was the look in his best friend's eyes (his friend really couldn't take anymore sorrow in his life).

So that is how he found himself in a coffee shop, sitting at a table in the corner by himself. He didn't know why it helped being surrounded by all these people but not talking to anyone, but it did. Maybe it was just the knowledge that he couldn't breakdown (not that he ever broke down anyways) in a public place like this.

"What can I get you?" a girl said, he didn't even bother to look up from his boring paperwork he had brought with him, hoping he could get through this so he wouldn't have to continue working on this stupid paper later on.

"Just a coffee," he said still reading, he thought he heard the waitress huff but it didn't really matter.

O

She was having a very long day. It started with her normal class schedule. Some days she really wished that she didn't always have to sign up for the earliest classes (8:00am every morning). It didn't help that she had agreed to take John's shift at two so that after her last class of the day ended at one she had to rush to work. It was now almost five and she was exhausted, but she would have to be there until the shop closed at nine.

Well, the one good thing was the shop wasn't busy at the moment and she could take a break. She sighed as she sat down in the back room. She was having, not a bad day per se, but it was an off day. It started when her Professor announced that he had been delayed in grading the papers and he wouldn't have them until the next class. This really annoyed her, she always (since she first started school) worried about how she did on a test or any other assignment and wanted to know as soon as possible. And now she'll have to wait three more days!

Her next class had been fine until the Professor gave them a two page paper assignment due the following Wednesday. Which was fine by her, she really did love writing papers, but then he had to add 'and I mean two not ten' smiling at her. Okay so she did tend to write more than she is supposed to but it's hard to boil it down to the essential qualities of a subject; everything seemed to be important to her. That wasn't really the problem, the problem was that everyone knew who he was talking about and it really didn't win her any favors (not that the Professor meant any harm by what he said, he was one of her favorite teachers and he enjoyed teasing her).

"Someone's at your table," Jess said.

Jess was the reason that she still worked at the coffee shop. She had already saved enough money in the last three and a half years so she didn't really need to work, but she knew that she would never see her friend if she didn't still work the odd shift here and there. Jess was her closest friend but she knew that she wasn't Jess's. No, Jess was an easygoing girl that everyone seemed to like and she seemed to like everyone. Where as she … well she had trouble relating to people and mostly keeps to herself. She had found it easier to deal with people in college, but it was still difficult for her.

As she left the back room she noticed the person that was sitting at her table. He was tall, she could tell that though he was sitting down and he had fiery red hair. She found him quite good looking and chastised herself for thinking that.

"What can I get you?" she asked in her most cheerful voice.

"Just a coffee," the man said not even looking at her. She was infuriated at this and grumbled 'just because you're cute doesn't mean you can be rude,' under her breathe and was immediately angry with herself, hadn't she swore to herself that she wouldn't do this again … And he wasn't even that rude … most people ignore her like that.

O

Five minutes later the girl come back with coffee in a really foul temper, still not knowing why she was so angry, but unable to help it. "Here's your coffee," she said in an irritated voice.

"Thanks," he said; he knew he was rude before and his mum would have chastised him if she knew he did that. "Sorry about before," he added looking up at her for the first time, flashing his most pleasant smile.

His breath was caught in his throat when he did look up and his heart skipped a beat. She was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, but that wasn't it. He couldn't explain it, but just looking at her made him feel light headed and everything about her just excited him. Her hair was brown and wavy … a little unmanageable but it just made her look all the more attractive because of it. Her lips were nicely shaped (and he couldn't help noticing and thinking of things that could go along with that) and she didn't seem to be wearing any make-up. But it was her eyes that really caught him. They were so full of life and warmth (or he supposed they were normally warm though now she seem to be scowling at him) and the most beautiful shade of chocolate brown he had ever seen.

She was glaring at him at the moment, though she couldn't help but look into his deep blue eyes and lose her breath. This is not good, she thought, definitely not good.

"It's all right," she said, forcing her voice to sound cold and dismissive.

"I was rude," he said trying to recover from his shock.

"No more so than most the people that come in here," she said curtly but wishing she hadn't said so much.

"That's no excuse," he smiled again (she felt her stomach squirm a little). "I would like to buy you a coffee to make up for it. My name is Ron Weasley, by the way."

"Sorry, but I'm working right now," she said pointedly and tried to leave.

"That's rude you know," Ron said, knowing that he didn't want her leave.

"What is?" she said raising an eyebrow.

"Well I introduced myself," Ron smirked at her. "You could at least have the courtesy to do the same."

She stared at him incredulously for a second before she shook her head and smiled at him. I was right, he thought smiling widely; she does have warm eyes and a very kind smile.

"You're right," she said sounding bemused. "My name is Hermione Granger."

"Hermione," Ron said, it rolled off his tongue well, it was an interesting name … it suited her.

"Yeah, my parents thought it would be amusing to give me a little known Shakespeare name," Hermione smiled for a second and then frown… why the hell did I just tell him that?

"Well it suits you I think," Ron smiled; he wanted to see her smile again.

"Have you heard of it?" Hermione said making a face.

"No," Ron sighed; he hadn't even heard of Shakesare or whatever she said, he was showing his ignorance and she didn't even smile (though this face was cute too).

"Good … I really don't want to be like her," Hermione stated smiling again.

"I just meant that it was beautiful and interesting like you," Ron said before he could think; Merlin that sounded like a line even if it was true.

"Oh," Hermione blushed (her insides squirming again) but she won't let this happen, she will have to turn him away now … and fast. "You're wasting your time."

"What?" Ron asked confused; where did this come from?

"I play for the other team," Hermione said quickly (she was a terrible liar at situation like this).

"What? What team?" Ron was completely confused … were all Muggles this crazy?

"I'm into girls," Hermione stated not looking into his eyes.

"Oh," Ron sighed. Great, the first time I felt this alive in months, years really and it was all for nothing. But wait, she blushed didn't she.

Hermione was relieved that he accepted this, but at the same time she was disappointed he didn't fight. "Well, I've got to go back to work," she muttered.

"Are you really?" Ron asked staring straight into her eyes. "You know … into girls?"

"No," she answered without thinking; she lost her train of thought as soon as she looked into his eyes. "I just swore off guys so the only options I have left are girls."

"I don't think that's how it works," he laughed cheerfully again.

"I can't believe I said that," she said shaking her head. "That's no way to keep you away."

"Maybe you don't want me to stay away," he smiled.

"I've got to go back to work," she said looking at him.

"The place is empty," he stated bluntly.

"No, there's two people in the corner over there," she said nodding her head towards them, and as soon as he looked in that direction she slipped away heading to the back.

"Oi!" he exclaimed, exasperated and more than a little amused.

As she walked through the doors to the backroom she chuckled at his exclamation; amused and angry with herself for feeling that way.

"What was that?" Jess asked chuckling.

"I don't know," Hermione sighed.

"You really should go for him, he's very cute and obviously into you," Jess said.

"Jess …" Hermione said exasperated. "You know why I don't want …"

"Yeah, I know, but you can't let that stop you from living a little," Jess sighed. She really did like this shy girl, and probable would have been closer to her, but Hermione had always been a closed off person. She understood this because she knew that she was the other girl's only confidant, but there were still so many things that Hermione didn't tell her. "And if you don't make a move, I think I might," she added as she looked through the door at the man sitting there.

"Don't you dare!" Hermione exclaimed immediately without thinking; I really don't seem to be able to think clearly today.

All she knew was that Jess was the natural beauty type of girl that had guys drooling all over her; Hermione knew she could never compete with that no matter how hard she tried.

"Oh, so you do like him," Jess smirked at her, she had never seen Hermione react like that before.

"Oh, never mind," Hermione sighed, it would be better if Jess distracted him; I didn't want him anyways.

O

"No, I'm serious, you do it," Hermione said sternly; she decided that she wasn't going near him again and was forcing Jess to ask if he needed anything else, it was about a half an hour later.

"Hermione you …" Jess said.

"I've made up my mind," Hermione stated and Jess sighed.

"Fine!" Jess huffed; there was no arguing when the girl was like this. So when she walked out to meet the man, she was a little annoyed at her friend. "Excuse me sir, could I get you anything else?"

"Huh …" Ron said looking up at her hopeful only to be disappointed. "Where's Hermione?"

"Hiding from you," Jess smirked, well Hermione never said I couldn't speak freely.

"Really?" Ron smirked too. "I didn't realize I was so scary."

"Well, you are quite terrifying but I'll manage," Jess smiled at him, he really was cute and though she knew that she couldn't do anything with him, Hermione would never speak to her again (no matter how much she say it didn't matter to her), that didn't mean she couldn't flirt a little.

"I'm good thanks," Ron smiled back; he could tell she was flirting but it didn't matter, he wanted to see Hermione again and this girl (beautiful as she was) didn't even make him bat an eye, "Unless you can convince Hermione to come out here and give me a refill."

"I'll try," Jess smiled and walked to the backroom. "He really wants you, you know."

"What?" Hermione said distractedly and blushed beat red.

"Mind out of the gutter, Granger," Jess laughed. "He refused to be service by anyone but you."

"What?" Hermione exclaimed again (this time trying hard not to smirk).

"Oh, you know what I mean," Jess said slapping her and was rather shocked that the girl made a joke like that; this guy was really affecting her.

"I don't know," Hermione said biting her lip.

"He didn't even look at me Hermy," Jess said.

"Don't call me that!" Hermione made a face.

"Just talk to the bloke," Jess said. "What's the harm in that?"

"Fine, but if something terrible happens I'm blaming you," Hermione huffed and picked up the coffee pot and head towards the man.

"So you're done hiding?" Ron smiled at her.

"Hiding?" Hermione said trying to laugh it off … it didn't work.

"Yeah," Ron smirked. "Your friend said you were hiding."

"Did she?" Hermione said now glaring at the window where Jess was looking through a minute ago. "Well isn't that nice."

"Very," Ron smirked. "Will you join me now?"

"Of course not," Hermione said coldly. "I'm only here to rid you of your hard earned money and then I'll be gone."

"Oh," Ron sighed.

"You really shouldn't believe everything you hear," Hermione smiled. At that moment five people walked into the shop. "But it looks like the rush is about to start … sorry."

"It's all right … I can wait," Ron smiled.

And wait he did, the shop didn't quiet down after that though Hermione did spend any spare moment she had talking to Ron. It was ten minutes before nine and he was still sitting in the same seat. "We're closing soon," Hermione smiled at him.

"Right," Ron sighed, he knew he had to see her again. "Can I take you out sometime?"

"Oh," Hermione said, her eyes widened. She wanted to say yes … man she really wanted to … she couldn't though … she knew where this path lead and she really didn't want to go there at the moment. "I don't know …"

"Okay," Ron sighed; he hoped he had gotten pass this but that was okay as long as he could see her again. "When do you work next?"

"Er …" Hermione was surprised by the question.

"I really want to see you again," Ron said. "And if it has to be for a few minutes at a time watching you shell out coffee to people … so be it."

"You're no good," Hermione said; she couldn't seem to refuse his request and that scared her … but it excited her too. "I'll be working tomorrow at four to nine."

"Right … I'll be here," Ron smiled.

"Well you better buy more than just the coffee then, if you're going to take up a valuable seat all day," Hermione smiled at him. "My manager won't be pleased with me if I allow you to sit there for too cheap."

"I'll think about it," Ron laughed, "until tomorrow."

O

"Hey mate, what's up?" Harry said in his distance voice that was always there nowadays (in fact this was his cheerful voice; he was always a little better when Ron was around).

"Not much," Ron said cheerfully.

"What happened?" Harry asked with a hint of intrigue.

"I just met a girl … nothing much," Ron tried to push it off; he didn't want to get his hopes up too much … He just met her after all and she was really standoffish.

"Oh," Harry said with amusement. Ron never talked to him about girls too much in the past (he never thought Ron was that taken by a girl yet). "What's her name?"

"Hermione," Ron said and his face lightened up considerably when he said it.

"Nothing much, huh?" Harry chuckled; Ron looked at him stunned.

"Did you just chuckle?" Ron asked astounded.

"I supposed I did," Harry said. "I just haven't seen you this happy in a long time … maybe ever …"

"Oh crap," Ron said sinking down into a chair; am I already lost.

"That's more like it," Harry chuckled again.

"Well I'm glad I could amuse you," Ron said bitterly.

"Aren't you though," Harry said and Ron had to admit that that was true.

O

"Hey Crookshanks," Hermione said when she got to her flat as her cat rubbed against her legs. The greeting always made her think of the first time she meant him a year and a half ago.

She was walking by this pub; it looked really run down, but she was in desperate need of a bathroom and this was the first place she could find. She asked the wizen looking barman where the restroom was and was too busy to notice anything odd about the place. However, when she returned she was at perfect liberty to look around and she was unnerved about the place; everyone was wearing cloak and there was a few people that looked … peculiar.

That was when the cat rubbed against her leg and she smiled at it. She had always loved animals; cats in particular, but her mum didn't so she never had one growing up and couldn't get one while she lived in the dorms.

"Crookshanks, there you are," said a hasty looking woman.

"He's a lovely cat," Hermione smiled at the woman.

"You think so," the woman said looking at her searchingly. "You can have him if you want."

"What?" Hermione exclaimed.

"No one seems to want him, he's been in my shop for ages," the woman said.

"Oh … You're selling him," Hermione smiled, she could finally have a pet now that she lived on her own. "How much …"

"I offered to give him to you for free," the woman laughed kindly. "But if you really want to pay …"

"I don't mind," Hermione smiled at the cat that was now purring in her arms.

"That's all right dear," the woman smiled. "He might not have been sold but he has always been good company … and he seems to really like you."

"Yes you do, don't you Crookshanks?" Hermione cooed.

"Meow," she was snapped out of her daydream when Crookshanks cried.

"Sorry … you must be hungry …" her cat looked at her sternly raised an eyebrow that seemed to ask 'what happened'. "I've met someone today," she said brightly; the cat narrowed his eyes. "I know, I'll be careful," Hermione sighed. "You're too hard on me Crooks," she said and the cat purred and rubbed its head against her. "I love you too …"

O

She got up earlier than she wanted to, which was really saying something seeing as she usually gets up at six. However, she knew that she wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon so she got up. She decided to work on the paper assign to her and if she was lucky she would be finished with it in no time. However, three hours later she had barely written anything on it. Her mind kept on drifting to the red head she met and she was finding him quite distracting.

Well this was no good, she thought to herself. She finally made a deal that she would allow herself to get distracted for an hour then the rest of the time she would concentrate on her work. Her compromise worked well for her and she was able to finish her paper before she grabbed herself something to eat. Actually she was quite proud of herself; she had managed to write concisely to the point this time without throwing away material that she thought was interesting.

By the time that she got to the shop, she was really nervous and she hated that she was this worked up about a guy that she didn't know at all (actually she was angry that she was worked up at all), but she couldn't help it. She had never felt this way about anyone before and she was terrified by that fact. When she walked into the shop she didn't see him anywhere, but she supposed that it wasn't likely that he would get here early.

However, two hours later she was feeling a little peeved, hurt and disappointed, because he still hadn't shown up. Every time someone would come into the shop she would look up hopefully only to be disappointed when it wasn't him.

When he finally got there a little after six she was really angry, but she knew that it would be no good to let him see how much this affected her so she put on her most cheerful smile and went out to greet him.

"Hello," Hermione said smiling.

"Hi," Ron smiled, his breath catching in his throat again.

"Can I get you anything?" she said sweetly.

"If I could get you to sit down with me, that would be nice," he laughed.

"Sorry, but as you can see it's crowed in here," she laughed back (forcefully).

"Then I'll take a coffee and whatever sandwich you would think I'd like," he smiled.

"I don't know you that well," she pointed out.

"I have faith you'll pick something I'll like," he said.

"I'll be right back," she said and left.

As he watched her go he sighed; she was cheerful to him, but there was something different about the way that she talked (and more importantly in her eyes) that told him she was angry. I should have come sooner, he thought bitterly.

In the back Hermione was fuming as she made a sandwich for Ron that he would like … I didn't want to make him a damn sandwich at all. The nerve of him, coming here two hours later than I thought, and then he wants me to make him a bloody sandwich … and he wouldn't even tell me what kind!

Come on be rational, you never told him and he never said he'd be here at four, and yesterday you told him to order more than coffee. Right, she thought bitterly and started making a corned beef sandwich without much thought of what she was doing.

"Here you go," she said handing him the sandwich and pouring him coffee.

"Have a seat," he said; somehow the shop had emptied considerable while she was in the back.

"All right then," she said sitting across from him.

"So, what is this?" he asked looking at the sandwich.

"Corned beef," she said watching his reactions closely.

"Sounds good," he said, his mouth twitching.

"It's your least favorite, isn't it?" she said genuinely amused by this.

"What gave me away?" he smiled sheepishly at her.

"I'm not sure, I could just tell," she laughed (some of her anger leaving).

"So I guess you're not that good at guessing," he muttered bemused.

"I don't know about that," she said; I didn't really want to give you the best.

"So you are angry with me," he sighed and picked up the sandwich taking a big bite out of it.

"You didn't have to do that … I would have made you another one," she said (annoyed that he knew that she was upset).

"This is actually pretty good," he smiled (and he really meant it this time). "Sorry I was late."

"It's all right," she said, her voice indifferent.

"I can see that," he sighed; I hoped I didn't mess this up already.

"Do you have a reason?" she asked.

"Not one you're going to like," he chuckled, not really amused.

"Let's hear it then," she said.

"I didn't want to seem too eager … I didn't want to appear desperate," he said.

"I don't think you were supposed to tell me that part then," she said coldly.

"No, I don't think I was … I just didn't think lying now would have helped," he said reaching for her hand and was happy she didn't move it away from him. "I'm sorry."

"Next time," she said as she looked up into his eyes for the first time that day. She smiled at him, somehow happy that he felt the same way she did, "Remember it's better to look desperate than to keep a girl waiting."

"I won't forget that," he smiled.

"You better remember that," she said. "I won't give you another chance."

"Then I'll try really hard not to forget," Ron said taking another bite of his sandwich.

"You really don't have to eat that," Hermione said. "I'll be happy to make another one."

"It's all right 'ermione," Ron said still chewing his food.

"Disgusting," Hermione said shaking her head.

"Sorry," Ron sighed. "I never really learned my table manners. Anyways this sandwich really is good; you might have cured my corned beef aversion."

"I'm happy I could help," Hermione smiled.

They spent the rest of the time talking, at least as long as she could talk to him while working. They both had a good time and this time Hermione allowed Ron to stay as she cleaned up the shop.

"Well that was fun," Ron said as she closed and locked the doors.

"Fun?" Hermione said raising an eyebrow. "I don't know about that, I had to work hard all day."

"Well I just sat on my arse watching a beautiful girl … so, to me, it was fun," he said. They smiled at each other for a while and he sighed and reached out a hand to brush a piece of her hair so he could look into her eyes. "When can I see you again?"

"I don't work until next Friday," Hermione said, she was blushing and looked away from him.

Ron groaned and looked pleading at her. "Can't I see you before that?"

"No … I don't think so," Hermione said; trying to keep the smile off her face, but failing miserable.

"This is payback for me being late, isn't it?" Ron sighed.

"Maybe," Hermione smirked at him; it was true that was one of the reason but she was still afraid of being with him and afraid about how much affected he had on her already.

"Can I convince you to change your mind," Ron pleaded.

"I don't think so this time," Hermione said. "I'll be waiting for you on Friday, my shift is at four."

"I'll make sure I'm there on time with bells on," Ron said and they went their separate ways.

O

When Ron got to Harry secluded and heavily fortified house at Grimmauld Place he was not happy at all. As soon as Harry let him in he started yelling about something Harry couldn't understand at all, though he did find his friend amusing … in an annoying way.

"… and it's all your fault, I can't see her until Friday!" Ron said hotly.

"My fault," Harry said confused, he wasn't really following his fuming friend.

"Yes, you showed me that I was too eager … like a stupid puppy or some crap like that," Ron groaned.

"Er … what?" Harry said still confused. "I think you should start over, mate."

"I showed up a few hours late … or at least later than I lead her to believe I would show up," Ron explained.

"I didn't tell you to do that," Harry said trying to hide his laugh. "Don't you know you can't keep a girl waiting and for two hours …" he couldn't control his laughter after that.

"Argh …" Ron growled, glaring at him. "That's what she said …"

"You told her that did you?" Harry said with his mouth pushed together. "That must have been … interesting."

"It was sort of amusing," Ron smiled. "And the rest of the time it was brilliant being with her … but she said she won't see me until next Friday … Payback for me being late … It's going to be a long week."

"Tough luck, mate," Harry said patting his back.

O

Ron was right about it being a long week, he spent every spare moment he had thinking about the mysterious girl that captivated him to no ends. It didn't help that his work hadn't picked up any in the last few days and he had nothing to do there. He was, however, able to get Friday off easy enough (it was one benefit of being so famous) he wasn't going to chance being late again.

Hermione didn't have it any easier than Ron did, constantly thinking about him, she was just glad that she didn't really have any papers due (that is ones that she hadn't already completed), she was in no mind to work. She was still unnerved about how much he could affect her, but it also became clear to her that she was going to have to give this a real chance because it was already too late. That's why she got to work almost an hour before she was supposed to and was surprised and pleased to see that he was already there. "Aren't you a bit early," she smiled.

"I didn't want to be late this time," Ron smiled back. "I've been here all day, I'm glad you came early too."

"So am I," she said and they spent the rest of that hour talking about anything and nothing. When the hour was up she went to work and they talked like they had been the last two times he came, the only difference was that this time she agreed to go out with him the next day.