Summary: Ron and Hermione celebrate Valentine’s Day at Grimmauld Place. Set during the Horcrux Hunt.
word count: 2,700
Warnings: Unbeta’d. Erm - fluff alert.
Hermione muttered the password and squinted through the shifting gray mist. Was she in the right place?
Grimmauld Place was always difficult to find, and the fog wasn’t helping. She jumped at the sudden shriek of a car alarm, but then quickly realized that it was some distance away. The only signs of life on this deserted street were her rapidly beating heart and the sound of her trainers scuffing the pavement.
When she looked through the mist again, she could breathe a sigh of relief - the door to Number Twelve had appeared.
She staggered up the stairs under the weight of her rucksack, which contained Ron’s Valentine’s present and several Muggle history books that she hoped would be helpful in their Horcrux quest. While she didn’t have great expectations for the Muggle history books, she did think that Ron would like his Valentine’s present. It was Honeyduke’s chocolates in a heart-shaped box made from the wood of a rowan tree.
It was the most exclusive, expensive item in Honeyduke’s catalogue – but Hermione didn’t care. Ron had told her once that since he was the last boy in the family, he never got the first piece of anything. That was going to change – the entire box was just for him.
That she knew he would understand. But would he understand the inscription on the top of the box? She shifted her rucksack nervously and stared at the peeling black paint on the front door. ‘For My Sweetheart’ had been stamped on the lid, but it wasn’t an expression she would ever use, so she had asked them to change it.
She closed her eyes briefly and willed herself to stop second-guessing. If Ron understood the meaning – that was fine. If he didn’t . . . She bit her lip. If he didn’t, then he didn’t. She wasn’t going to spell it out for him.
With that bracing thought, she reached for the door handle. But before she could grab it, the door flew open. “She should be here by now,” Ron was saying with his head turned to someone behind him in the foyer.
“She is here by now.” Harry’s voice.
Ron whirled around and then his eyes lit up in delight. “Hermione,” he said, before pulling her into a tight embrace, rucksack and all. Then he bent and kissed her on the mouth.
She kissed him back, reveling in the feeling of his warm lips on hers, in his taste, in the hard lines of his shoulders under fingertips. It had been too long . . . Then the logical part of her brain took over.
Harry was watching. Harry who was so upset at Christmas when he was forced to see Ginny again. Harry who didn’t have anyone to give him a Valentine.
She pushed at Ron’s chest with some difficulty. He was holding her tightly and he was so much stronger than she was.
“What?” he asked. His mouth was soft from their passionate kisses, but his eyes were a cool, assessing blue.
“Harry’s here,” she hissed. “We shouldn’t –“
Ron’s jaw worked and his face reddened.
“Think about his feelings!” she implored.
“His feelings,” Ron said, not bothering to keep his voice down. “What about mine?”
“I didn’t mean –“ Her lips still felt swollen and sensitive from his kisses – but he had already pulled out of her embrace.
“I know what you meant,” Ron growled, stepping away. “Harry’s feelings come first – or the Horcruxes – or something else. It’s always been that way.”
“Later, Hermione,” he said turning his back on her. “I have stuff to do in the kitchen.” She thought she heard him mutter, “It’s always later for me,” as he stalked down the corridor.
“Ron!” He hadn’t let her get a word in edgewise. Fuming, she pulled the rucksack off of her shoulder and thumped it on the floor. That angry sound was so satisfying that she thought she would add to it, by slamming the door shut with her foot. That woke up Mrs. Black’s portrait.
“Mudbloods! Traitors all!”
“Shut up!” Ron and Hermione shouted in unison from different ends of the house.
It had felt good to yell, she thought as she started up the gloomy stairs to the room she used, her rucksack banging against her knees. As soon as she stowed her things, she would go back into the kitchen and yell some more. It was so unfair that within the first minutes of seeing each other in months, Ron was angry with her and Harry was off somewhere feeling guilty. There was no way Harry could have missed Ron’s angry accusation. How could Ron be so insensitive to Harry?
“Hi.” Harry was on the first landing of the stairs - he must have heard everything. She was glad to see that he looked just the same as he had at Christmas – no thinner – no heavier – but unfortunately – no happier.
“Harry!” She tried to inject as much cheeriness in her voice as she could. She dropped her rucksack for the second time and hugged him tightly.
“You can kiss Ron in front of me, you know,” Harry said without preamble.
This was a new aspect of Harry that Hermione wasn’t quite used to yet. Ever since Dumbledore’s death, he didn’t bother to mince words.
“But it just seems insensitive since - ” She bit her lip. Harry hated pity.
“Ron’s right, you know. You should be thinking of him first.”
She didn’t want to hear that Ron was right. “You’re not thinking of Ginny first,” she retorted. Then she braced herself for an explosion.
It never came.
“Ginny knows I’m thinking of her first,” he said quietly. “Which is why I’m here and she’s there. Does Ron know you’re thinking of him first?”
Hermione opened her mouth to say ‘yes’ and then shut it. Harry was right. Hadn’t Ron just told her that in plain English? “But I do think of Ron first,” she protested. “All the time.”
“Then you’d better tell him,” Harry said, picking up her heavy rucksack. “How many books do you have in here?”
“Just three,” she said absently. “And Ron’s gift.” She looked at him thoughtfully. “Maybe I should give him his gift now?”
Harry shrugged. “It is Valentine’s Day.” He grinned at her. “I’ll take your rucksack up to your room and then I’ll – er – do something not in the kitchen.”
“Okay.” She sighed. Now was the best time to give Ron his gift. He might still be angry, but it was better if he didn’t have a chance to brood. “Harry wait up. I have to get Ron’s gift.”
He waited patiently while she extracted the handsomely wrapped box from her rucksack.
“Honeydukes Chocolotes?” he asked.
“How did you know?” she gasped.
A rare flush went up Harry’s neck. “The purple paper.”
If Harry knew that Honeydukes was gift-wrapping in purple this year, then he must have sent something to Ginny or at least considered it. “Ginny never got the first piece of anything, either, did she?”
Harry smiled. He knew what she meant. “No.” Then he cocked his head and regarded her. “You know, Ron is proud of you.”
“What?” She almost dropped the gift in surprise.
“You’re the smartest witch in our year and you’re going out with him.”
She could feel the heat in her face. “Well – I –“
“He likes to show you off,” Harry continued. “They’re all like that – the Weasleys.”
Hermione remembered Ginny running to Harry and kissing him in front of fifty people. And then there was Bill kissing Fleur every chance he got – and Percy with his picture of Penelope - and Ron and Lavender . . . She shuddered in distaste. “I don’t want to be like Lavender.”
Harry laughed. “You kissed Ron in the Great Hall in front of the whole school.”
“That was different! It was for Quidditch.”
“Oh?” He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Harry,” she said weakly.
“I’m going somewhere that is not the kitchen,” he said pointedly, mounting the stairs. Hermione turned the other way, one part of her thinking about Ron and the other part marveling at how Harry had avoided the question of whether he was in contact with Ginny or not.
Ron was standing over the sink with his back to her. A soup cauldron, several potatoes and a bunch of leeks were on the counter.
“Need some help?” she asked.
He stiffened at the sound of her voice. “Not unless you know a magical way to get all the sand out of these leeks.”
“Um. I just know the hard way.”
His shoulders dropped a little at that. “Yeah. That’s the only way I know, too.”
That about summed it up, she thought bleakly as she set her gift for him on the table and joined him at the sink. She took a leek from the counter, submerged it in cold water, and started the tedious job of flicking out the dirt from its many thin layers.
They were silent as they worked and Hermione’s hands started to get cold, but at least they weren’t yelling accusations at each other.
“What are we making?” she finally asked.
“Soup,” Ron replied.
He smiled since they had had this conversation before. “That’s not soup – it’s served cold.”
“I didn’t think you’d make that. Potoato and Leek? Right?”
“No, cock-a-leekie soup.”
“I just wanted to say ‘cock-a-leekie.’”
She laughed at the mischief in his voice. The next thing he would tell her was that they were having Spotted Dick for afters. She was about to say this when Ron recited the rest of the menu.
“We’re going to have cock-a-leekie soup for a starter and then steak and veggies and then Mum made us a cake for afters,” Ron said, reaching for a potato to peel.
“That was nice of your mum –“
“She made it because it’s Valentine’s Day.”
She didn’t like his agressive tone. “I know it’s Valentine’s Day!” she said sharply. “I brought you a gift!”
He looked up from his potato. “You did?”
“Yes,” she snapped. And now she wanted to throw it at him. Did he really think she would forget Valentine’s Day?
“What about Harry’s feelings?” he asked snidely. “You’re breaking your sensitivity rule there, Hermione.”
“I think giving my boyfriend a gift in private is different than –“
“Boyfriend, am I?” He snorted. “I thought you’d forgotten.”
“Me? Look at the way you’ve been acting ever since I got here!”
“Who was the one who didn’t want to kiss me?” His eyes were chips of blue ice, but she could see by the way his mouth twisted that he was more hurt than angry.
“I wanted to kiss you –“
He made a noise that sound like ‘huh!’ and turned back toward the counter.
“Ron.” She put her hand on his forearm and she could feel every tense muscle. “I did kiss you, remember?”
He didn’t acknowledge that, but he didn’t jerk his arm away from her. “I just started thinking whilst we were kissing and–“
“What kind of person thinks during a kiss?” he asked dully.
For some reason that struck her as funny. She rested her forehead against his upper arm. “I do.”
He half laughed and half sighed. “I’m afraid to ask, but what do you think about?”
“I don’t know.” Her heartbeat quickened. It seemed like such an intimate question. “How good you feel. How nice you smell. How much I like you. I don’t know. It’s all sort of jumbled up until I’m not thinking.”
He moved so that his arm was no longer under her forehead. She looked up and saw that she was facing him and that he had maneuvered his arms around her. “So the trick is to keep kissing you until you’re not thinking.”
His eyes were hot blue now and he was smiling. She found herself smiling back, acutely aware of his warm arms around her and the hard length of his thigh pressed against her. Already her thoughts were all jumbled up and he hadn’t kissed her yet.
Then he did kiss her – which caused her to make some sort of unconscious ‘oh’ noise. To her ears, it was clear evidence of her attraction to him. The sound was an overflow of the hot liquid sensations bubbling within her. He must have got that message since he responded by moving his hands over her hips and pressing her closer to him.
Here was more clear evidence of attraction. And such different sensations he must be feeling - hot and hard and . . . straining.
“Oh.” She made that noise again. Soon she was sitting on the counter with her legs wrapped around his waist and her hands under the back of his t-shirt. He was touching her too, so that she was tingling inside and out, feeling a million sensations at once. Thinking about anything besides what his hands and mouth were doing to her was impossible until the empty soup pot clattered on to the stone floor. They both stopped and leaned against each other, trying to calm down.
“So,” Ron said panting, his forehead on hers. “What were you thinking about during that kiss?”
“You. Me.” She put her arms around his neck. “How good I felt.”
“Ron’s feelings are always last, aren’t they?” He sounded amused.
“Ron was feeling as good as I was.”
“He was – is,” he replied, moving his hands up her ribs.
She shivered at the sensation. “Speaking about yourself in the third person is a sign of problems with ego boundaries.”
“Good thing I got the vaccine.”
She laughed and hugged him and then started to straighten her shirt. “Do you want your Valentine’s present now?”
“That wasn’t it?”
“No.” She grinned and slid off the counter.
“I have a gift for you, too,” he said.
“Accio, Hermione’s gift,” Ron called. A cupboard door flew open and a package wrapped in purple paper zoomed into his outstretched hand. It seemed everyone had been shopping at Honeydukes lately.
“Remember that day when we went to Hogsmeade without Harry. Our third year?”
“I remember,” she murmured, running her hands over the box.
“You told me that your mum never let you have chocolate because they were boycotting that Muggle company because of baby formula or something?”
“You remember that?”
His smile was smug. “So I thought you’d like your own box of chocolates – even if it's not politically correct.”
That boycott was long over and had nothing to do with the magical world, but she didn’t tell him that. She ripped off the paper and found that Ron had selected the pinkest, laciest, most girly box of chocolates she had ever seen. But the astonishing thing was that he had chosen the box with the words ‘For My Sweetheart’ in gold script. Her eyes flew to his after she read it out loud.
He was turning red. “They had plainer boxes, but I thought you should have this one, since it’s more . . .”
“What you wanted to say?”
“Yeah.” He was still blushing, but he held her gaze.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. This was clear evidence as well. She was his sweetheart. It was such an old-fashioned way of expressing his feelings for her – but it was just so Ron that she didn’t know what else to say.
“Is this for me?” he asked, picking up his box of chocolates.
“It is – just for you.” Now she felt funny about not giving him the sweetheart box.
He ripped off the paper. “This is made from the wood of a rowan tree,” he said, looking up in astonishment.
“I know,” she whispered. “In Ancient Runes we learned that –“
“I’ll take good care of it,” he vowed, placing it gently on the table and holding his arms open.
She flew to his embrace. He understood.
For what was written on her heart was written on the rowan box. In bold letters it said: “Ron’s.”