Summary: Ron finds new ways to handle his feelings for Hermione, as well as hers for him. A fifth year and beyond fic. R/H
Rating: PG-13 (adult situations, though not quite worthy of an R)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter, it's character's and situations belong to J.K. Rowling, et. al. No copyright infringment is intended, and no profit is being made from this story.
Archive: Please do. Just drop me a line to tell me where. Otherwise this story can be found at fanfiction.net and www.angelfire.com/home/ideano8
Author's Note: This is my first Harry Potter fanfic, and I'm always just a touch nervous when posting something in a new fandom, but hopefully I've got nothing to be too concerned about. Inspired by the Ben Harper song. It'll become obvious which one a couple of paragraphs in. Hope you enjoy. Feedback would be much appreciated. I'd love to know what you think of my work.
At first it was because she didn't have time for a boyfriend.
She had schoolwork, you see. And so did he. And not only that, but there was Harry to think about. They had to protect him. And all their other friends too. And then there were their families to consider. The war against evil. The future of the wizarding world...
So he did what he had to do. He stole. And he knew just what his mother would have said about it, and just what his father would have said too. And he knew about the immorality of it. The guilt in his gut after the act. Stealing. Taking something from someone without their permission. Without compensation.
He stole her kisses.
And at first it really had been because she didn't have time for a boyfriend. Not with so much going on all around them and no signs of it stopping, and she had two more papers to write before the end of the term, and can't you see, Ron, that it'd be wrong right now to think of ourselves when there are people's lives at stake?
He'd been so angry with her over that. So angry with the fact that there he'd been, finally ready and willing to admit that yes, maybe there was something between them. Maybe... maybe they could be more than friends. And maybe he did like her differently then how he liked Harry, or anyone else for that matter. He was only sixteen. He thought himself rather wise beyond his years to have noticed in the first place, and then to have been big enough to confront her with it.
She'd looked at him then with large, almost teary eyes and that crooked little line of a mouth that he knew meant that she wanted to agree with everything he'd just said, and then maybe rush into his arms too like he'd found himself imagining recently. But no. There wasn't time for that sort of thing right now. They couldn't be selfish.
Later that evening was the first time he ever stole anything from her. Standing in the corridor, just the two of them. He knew she'd been right about being selfish, but he'd be damned if he'd let anything- even Voldemort- get in the way of his getting to kiss her at least once. He figured it was only right. Even if she couldn't be with him. He should get to kiss her once.
And so, he'd grabbed her from behind. Scared the living daylights out of her, but put an abrupt end to any scoldings she might have dealt out with a firm press of his lips to hers.
It was the first perfect thing about his life. That kiss. Her lips- warm and soft and just a little wet from where her tongue had been a moment before. And his own lips crushing against her, but not hard. Passionately, he wanted to say. Because there was a part of it, yes, that was all hormones. He was sixteen and so was she, and kissing right then and there in the empty corridor was the most natural thing either could have done.
He moved his hands from where they were holding her by her upper arms and let one slide down to her hip while the other went to her cheek. Hermione leaned against him and suddenly he was no longer in control of his own body. As if he ever had been. Lips parted. Tongue pushing forward, then her lips parted as well, and Cor, this was something else entirely.
But then she'd pushed him away. Suddenly. Without reason.
"...What?" He sputtered. She glared, but there was a softness in her eyes, and she was out of breath. He'd smiled then, and didn't stop all through her explanation about why that couldn't ever happen again. He'd known she'd liked it, though. That she wanted to feel that perfection again just as much as he did.
But there wasn't time for a boyfriend now.
He continued to steal kisses from her for the rest of the school year. And on into the next one. And the next. Not so often as to provoke her. Not so often that you could say they added up to a relationship exactly. But just whenever he could. Whenever no one was looking and he could be certain she wouldn't protest. Much.
The second time had been two weeks later, in the library.
They'd all been studying. Her and him, and Harry and Neville. Every now and then Seamus or Lavender or one of the other Gryffindor fifth years would stop by, just to see if every one was as stressed as they were about the ever increasing work load.
She'd gotten up for maybe the third time since first sitting down a full two and half hours before, to get a book from the back. Harry, distracted by Neville's elaborate solution to a potions problem that was ultimately wrong, couldn't have noticed that Ron got up a second later and followed her.
And when he'd found her skimming through pages in some old tome, hair falling around her face, bottom lip caught between her teeth, he knew there was no helping it. There never would be. He would never be able to stop kissing her.
Even if he had to wait weeks or, blimey, months, he'd do it. And then catch her off guard once again. Alone. Perfect. And steal another kiss.
In the library that afternoon, he'd walked determindely up to her and succeeded in startling her yet again with a soft brush of the back of his hand against her cheek. She sucked in a quick breath and turned to look at him.
"Ron..." She warned quietly, seeing the look in his eyes. The stubborn want of something he couldn't have and that Weasley determination that he'd get it any way, even if by unconventional methods.
She didn't stop him when he leaned forward, suddenly- because anything but sudden would have given her time to protest- and pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was soft. Full. Quiet and sweet, much like their first, but with a recognized potential. Room to grow.
And so he let it. Wrapped his arms around her and pulled her as close to him as he possibly could, the book she'd been holding crushed between them but barely noticed. He opened his mouth, surprised by his own boldness. Yes, he'd done this before, but every time seemed like the first time. And he was suddenly nervous, but couldn't quit now even if he'd wanted to.
His body acted of its own volition. It was almost scary. But exciting too. Thrilling. Good. There was nothing about this- him and her together- that wasn't good.
He pushed his tongue forward, just like before, only this time the action seemed to have intention. Seemed to have been planned. She responded better than he would have dared to hope for, and he couldn't not lift her up then. Lift her in his arms and press her up against the wall behind her, that damned book still between them. But he didn't care. It seemed as though he could feel everything about her anyway, and yet, wanted to feel more.
Her kisses left him breathless. Though sometimes he had to wonder if part of that was just adrenaline from the crime he was committing.
Seventh year, he let things go further. Stole more than just a kiss, and felt all the worse for it, yes, but so thrilled by it as well. Because he couldn't let her not be his first. Even if things were still chaotic. Even if she still didn't have time for a boyfriend. For anything not having to do with school or family or fighting evil. And, also, there were certain expectations- didn't he see? People expected certain things from her, and she couldn't disappoint. Couldn't fail at something simply because he'd managed the unlikely feat of distracting her.
That's what it was. The newest reason for his having been reduced to a theif. He was a distraction.
Still, seventh year was tougher than most. Longer. More frightening. The possibility of death, bloodshed, or worse- poor test scores- hung over their heads daily and made the months drag on, harsher then any could remember them being in the past.
Finally, he couldn't take it.
He'd kissed her a month before. Quickly and so naturally that it had taken her a moment to figure out that anything had happened at all. But when she did, she scowled, like always. She couldn't just let him get away with this sort of behavior. She had to be responsible and level-headed enough for the both of them.
He'd been lucky that night, a month later, though. Because that night she'd slipped. It seemed- and it surprised him to find this out- that there were moments when even she couldn't take it anymore. And all he need do was catch her during one.
It was the holiday. And her roommates had gone home for the break. It was ever so easy, in the middle of the night, to sneak up that short flight of stairs into the seventh year girl's dormitory and slip through the door without a sound.
He might have watched her sleep for an eternity. But his hormones had other plans, and he couldn't help but reach out a hand to brush her hair behind her ear. She woke up slowly, blinking, and looked at him for a moment as if it was perfectly rational that he should be standing over her bedside. Maybe she'd been dreaming about him.
But her eyes began to water then. As if this too- her crying- was completely normal. How much had the two of them lost in those last few years? How much had they been denied?
He cupped her face in his hand and kissed her. She blinked back the tears.
They didn't talk about it in the morning. Didn't mention the way she'd trailed kisses down his chest, the way he'd gently held her bare waist against him, how both had moved in time to each other. They didn't need to. They were seventeen, after all. They were seventeen and had been through enough pain to last a couple of lifetimes, and so deserved this, they told themselves. Wanted this. Or, if nothing else, needed it.
He'd marveled at the expanse of her skin in the moonlight. Was in awe at her embaressement and hesitancy when didn't she see that she was the most beautiful thing he could have ever dreamed up? But she had finally gotten caught up in their mutual passion long enough to forget to be shy, and he marveled all the more at what he was at last allowed to see. She let him take her all in. Let him find his way inside of her- even helped- and adored every second of both the pain and the pleasure.
And in the middle of the night, with her hair across his chest, her fingers playing with his own unruly mop of red atop his head, both could only think that: yes, this was right. There had never been anything that was more right.
But they didn't talk about it in the morning. Simply dressed and watched each other quietly. Felt the heat still between them. The desire to do it all over again. And the knowledge that they couldn't.
He stole another kiss from her before class a few weeks later. It was just as sweet as ever, and seemed to apologize for ever stealing more than that. "I was foolish." It seemed to say. "Forgive me." And she'd kissed him right back, forgetting, just that once, that she wasn't supposed to be doing this. She kissed him back and her lips answered him for her. "Don't be a git." They said. "And don't ever apologize for that again."
Keeping his newest hobby a secret, was both easier and more difficult than he'd thought it was going to be. Fifth year had only been a challenge because the whole thing was so new to him. And, so, before he could deal with Harry- with his peers and his teachers and siblings- he had to figure out for himself just what this meant. His being a crook like this.
But when that was done, it was easy enough to hide, though he didn't like the idea of it. Especially where Harry was concered. But it wasn't as if he and Hermione acted any differently with each other. They were still friends. Still danced around their obvious feelings for each other, and became suspiciously jealous every time another person laid a hand on the other. Harry, especially, was used to this sort of thing, and only commented on it when nescesary.
"You should tell her, you know." He'd finally suggested sometime in the middle of sixth year, after Hermione had left for bed. Ron had looked up at him, immediately blushing.
"Tell who, what?" He asked.
Harry gave him a look that seemed to say "oh please; I'm not that stupid."
"What good would it do?" Ron asked, still blushing. He didn't want to admit that he'd already confided in her. Because that would mean admitting everything else. "I like things like this. I like being her friend."
Harry seemed to have more to say, but stopped himself, then nodded. "Okay. Just think about it, alright?"
And that was the last time either was so candid about the topic in the other's pressence.
There were plenty of looks exchanged, though, over the next couple of years. Plenty of hints dropped that maybe Ron should do something about those feelings of his for their other best friend, because it was becoming ridiculous, and if he didn't act soon some one else would snatch her up. Ron would just blush, and shake his head a little.
How could he explain to anyone, let alone his best friend, that he'd already taken the plunge? That he'd already told her how he felt, and was certain that she felt the same, but had to go on like he always had because of one reason or another? Had to steal, because there just wasn't time for that sort of thing if he didn't.
How could he tell Harry what it was he was doing?
After graduation, it was because she was too far away for a real relationship.
He'd been so angry at her, all over again, because of that. Angry because couldn't she see that he didn't care about the distance between them? Geography be damned, just as long as he could call her his and vice versa. But she insisted that it didn't make sense. Her job took her one way and his took him another, and there was still Voldemort out there. The Dark Lord wasn't quite defeated just yet. Pushed back, yes, but not gone. And that made travel dangerous. Didn't he understand?
"No." He said, so calmly that it startled her. And he brushed her hair behind her ear, and kissed her sweetly as if they were still only sixteen. Sixteen and afraid they'd break each other if they weren't careful. She pulled back hesitantly, glancing around to make sure that no one had seen.
He smiled at her and left.
If she'd thought that that was the last time he'd be stealing anything from her, though, she discovered how wrong she was a month later. With a pop and a groan he'd appeared in her fireplace, ever the gangly, red-haired little boy, even at eighteen, when his body had finally evened out and put on enough muscle mass to not look too skinny.
She'd been so surprised and happy to see him that she'd momentarily forgotten what seeing him meant. She'd hugged him excitedly and he held her against him like he'd never let go. But then she'd gotten that look and pushed him away. How dare he? How dare he risk the dangers that traveling entailed right now for a stupid little visit? He was being a prat. Surely he understood what he was doing. How could he even think that going halfway around the world during times like these was anywhere close to a good idea?
His grin throughout her rantings, however, was large and unperturbed. When she finished, nearly out of breath, he rose from where he'd seated himself on the edge of a table, took her in his arms, and kissed her more passionately than she could ever remember him doing. For what must have been ages there was nothing in the universe save him and her and that kiss. His hands at her waist and back. Hers at his neck. In his hair. On his chest. They were never still.
And then he released her. And she did her best to scowl. He cupped her cheek in his hand and smiled, but didn't say anything. Then left.
He did this twice more over the next year. Travelling by who knew what many methods and what great risks, just to see her for a few minutes. Touch her. Steal another kiss. It was an art, that. Stealing. And if he didn't turn pro soon, he never would.
He kept it up on into the next year too. Coming every couple of months. Only once staying longer then the pre-established few minutes because he'd managed to catch her in a moment of weakness, and him coming to her window on broomstick seemed to be exactly what she needed. Him holding her through the night, and touching all of those places on her that didn't get touched often enough, and showing her just how much at least one person in this world loved her.
Otherwise, they communicated by owl. With Harry too. And sometimes other friends. Seamus and Dean and Neville. Lavender and Parvatti and Lee. The rest of the Weasley clan. A few of their old teachers. They were only nineteen now, but so much had happened. It often felt like they'd lived much longer.
A few more years passed. Voldemort started growing stronger again, but so did Harry. They were ready for him this time, and it would be no bit of goodluck that would save them like in the past. They would defeat him once and for all.
But until then, it was still far too dangerous to travel. To even send owls across great distances with too much frequency. Anything that drew attention to yourself was just asking for it. And yet Ron kept at it.
He'd show up on her doorstep, sometimes months since his last visit, sometimes weeks. He'd tumble in through the fireplace, having floo powdered himself to her from some undisclosed location that he'd, in turn, reached by bus or train or boat. He'd tap softly at one of her windows, having flown a good deal of the distance on broomstick, and looking all the worse for it, but always with a small smile on his face and a spark in his eyes at seeing her.
When he didn't show up for more than six months, she started to worry. It had become so routine, she didn't understand how it could stop, whether by choice or by injury. But no, she couldn't think about that.
And, anyway, in the end he always did come. Maybe a little more ragged than usual. Maybe a little more weary looking: the circles under his eyes darker, or tone of his voice rougher. But he wouldn't tell her what he'd gone through to get to her. Wouldn't tell her what trick or spell or unpaid debt had gotten him across the continents and oceans this time.
After Voldemort was defeated- when they were twenty-four- it was because she'd met some one.
A nice chap, really. Ron had immediately liked him. Or would have, he knew, if circumstances were different. It wasn't her fault, though, that she'd gotten involved. It had been just before Voldemort's death, when any idea of a real relationship with Ron was too fantastic to hold out hope for. The two of them being able to keep up a long distance thing, in the midst of such dangers, seemed impossible.
And afterward, with the danger gone and her job able to transfer her back to London, how could she just tell this man- this good, kind man- that he'd only been a temporary thing? That she didn't need him anymore, even though he'd stood by her for those past few months in the face of such darkness?
And, truthfully, she'd begun to love him back a little too. Nothing like Ron. Oh no, even if she didn't say it, he could see it in her eyes and in her body language just how much more she loved him than this other man. But she loved David enough not to hurt him.
Now he was stealing from two people. From her, just like before, but from David as well. Because these kisses- these touches and looks and whispered exchanges- should have belonged to the other man. The man who could do such things in public and get away with it. Who didn't have to resort to immoral acts to be near her.
But he couldn't stop. Time and again, he told himself that this was it. The last time. That it was one thing to take from her but this...
He couldn't, though. He just couldn't. He found her behind the house after the funeral for Lee and kissed away her tears. It was a difficult week: the week after the final battle. This was their third funeral. And Lee had been such a good friend. A good man. Always with a light in his eyes and a friendly joke on his lips.
He kissed away each tear before she could stop him, and then kissed her softly on the mouth before pulling back, closing his eyes, and deciding for the hundredth time to end it there.
But, of course, he didn't.
The next time was only a week later. One last funeral. One last attempt at kissing away her pain, and his own as well. He wished he could steal her tears from her as easily as he did other things. He knew she cried for more than one reason. For more than just the dead.
A year passed. They both kept count of the number of times he was able to pull her aside and sneak another touch, but didn't tell the other that they did. Everytime he pulled away from her, savoring the taste on his lips and tongue, the smell in the air around him that was so distinctly hers, she'd recover her senses as quickly as possible and scowl like she was still fifteen and he just wasn't studying as hard as he should have.
"You have to stop this." She'd whisper harshly. "Some one's going to catch us and then... We can't do this." He'd just smile, the expression almost sad, but hinting at the eager determination of his youth.
Harry knew. He'd known for a little while, but hadn't said anything until one evening over drinks. He'd asked Ron what had ever happened to make things turn out like this. And just how long had he and Hermione been together?
Ron had just shaken his head. "I don't know, mate." He answered, staring off into the distance. "I don't know how we got here." But then he swallowed and looked down at his cup. "And we're not together, Harry. Never have been. I love her, but... that's different."
David proposed. He wanted children. A family. She didn't know how to tell him no, and wasn't entirely certain that she wanted to.
Ron's visits were further apart now. He'd still come- find her out on the street or in a resturaunt or in her own kitchen and steal what he would always tell himself was the last one- but sometimes months would go by without him.
So Hermione got married. And cried a little after it was all over and she could see his stony face over the heads of the guests, it hitting her suddenly that she was still very much in love with him and always would be. But it was done.
A year passsed before she saw him again. And when she did, they talked like the old friends that they were. Talked for hours over lunch and then drinks and then the walk back to her home. But then, as she smiled at him and softly said goodbye, he smiled back. Grinned. And it was a grin she knew well.
Her husband wasn't home. And there was no one on the street. And he kissed her right there, next to the rose bushes and the freshly painted siding. He kissed her passionately, with the kind of love and respect and desperation- and also guilt- that she remembered so well and just couldn't say no to until after it was all over, and she could distract herself by scolding him.
Another year passed. Maybe it was a yearly thing now. Maybe it had become tradition. Or habit. Every year, once a year, he got that spontaneous urge to seek her out and steal another kiss. Just one more. The last one. For old times sake. For want of what he couldn't have. For whatever reason his mind could come up with as long as it meant he got to hold her again.
He watched her kids grow up. He was the uncle who came on random dates between holidays, offering up half-birthday presents and stories of his adventures. He never stayed for more than a couple of hours. And was only occasionaly around at the same time as David. Somehow, he always got a kiss out of her before he left though. A look. A touch. Something that could communicate all that love and longing and heartache that rolled around in the both of them all year long, only to be released in these small gestures behind closed doors.
Once, he'd done the unthinkable. He'd gotten her into bed, her children away at friends and her husband at work. It had just been too much for him that time. To catch her unaware, alone, vulnerable, in that empty house. The look in her eyes, her hair, her cheeks: it was all his Hermione. The same little girl he'd fallen in love with over an unconcious troll and the rubble of the girl's bathroom.
They moved beautifully together. He knew they would. Knew from that first time as well as all the others, but mostly because he knew that this was right. And good. And that he was a git for ever thinking differently. Because there was nothing about the two of them together that wasn't good.
All the same, he didn't come back the next year.
The year after, he couldn't help himself. This was it, he told himself. He was going to go and he was going to say goodbye, and he wasn't going to take another bloody thing from her.
When he found her, in the kitchen, staring off into the distance in thought, he had to force himself to breathe. How could he stop? He wondered dumbly. How could he not kiss her if given the chance? How could he not come to her every year- every month if he'd allow himself to- and hold her to him like there was nothing else in the world?
There was no helping it. If he had to steal, than that's what he had to do. He'd be damned if he let any one, including himself, keep him from touching her.
But this time was different. Because this time her smile at seeing him as he quietly came in through the back door, broom at his side, cloak and hair rumpled and tossed about from the trip, was just a touch... brighter. And there were tears in her eyes. And the first words out of her mouth weren't, "so good to see you," or "did you have a nice trip?" Instead they were simply: "It's been a while."
There was a brief silence that he couldn't decipher, and he spent the moment taking in his soroundings. The house that he knew as well as he knew his own, even if his visits to it were few and far between. The quiet peace of it was all encompassing, no one but the two of them there. Her oldest was at Hogworts now, a first year. Her youngest was pestering faeries in the garden- he'd seen her on his way in and had smiled. He loved her children. Loved them like they were his own, and wondered, sometimes, if either might have been. If maybe...
"David left to the states a few days ago." She caught his eyes, and they held for one long moment, before she spoke again. "He says he's not coming back."
And all he could do was stare at her. Stare at her for the longest moment that had ever passed between them. The beauty that was her. The intelligence and the passion and the courage that was all his Hermione. His. And he was all hers. He moved to her in two quick steps, still wondering over what her words could mean, and her smile broaded.
There was no one to hide from now, he realized. No reason to stay apart. No reason to have to steal her touches whenever he could, knowing he'd get a scolding soon after. Knowing that it wasn't really his right to hold her like he did. It didn't belong to him, the ability to kiss her. It never had. He'd stolen it. Had been a common thief about the whole thing. Had never once been able to hold her and not feel guilty.
He wrapped his arms around her tightly and suddenly got that look in his eyes. That same look he'd had all those many years ago, when, at sixteen, he'd first kissed her.
"I love you." He said. Hermione took in a breath. He'd never said it before. Not like that. She'd been able to tell, though, of course. It was in everything he did and everything he was. He was his love for her. But to hear it, finally, aloud, was like nothing else.
"I-" she hesitated, but pushed on bravely, everything still so seemingly new to her. "I love you too." She whispered. And he sucked in his own deep breath. It was like a kick in the gut and a passionate embrace at the same moment. It was like realizing he was in love with her all over again, to hear the words. To know that she really did love him back when he'd spent so many years trying to convince himself that it was true. Hopeing that it was. That it wasn't all just him. Knowing it couldn't be, but having to doubt every now and then all the same.
"But we can't be selfish." She said, a smile still on her face, and his grin widened.
"No," he said, cupping her cheek in his hand. "We can't be selfish."
And he stole just one more kiss then. For old times sake. For the sixteen year old in him who, after so long, would have still been happy just to corner her in the library or in a hallway and kiss her like he'd never get to again.
He was sixteen just then, and so was she. He was eighteen and nineteen and twenty-four. He was all of the years that he hadn't been allowed to do this but had done it anyway, and had come out a little worse for wear because of it, but still holding her in his arms regardless. Still kissing her, her lips warm and soft against his.
And there was nothing about it that wasn't good.