Canticles 7:10 - carleton97

She hadn't run away, not really. She would never do that to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. They were absolute darlings for hosting the post-Graduation gathering at the Burrow, but it was just too much. Too many people, too many emotions...too much.

Hermione looked up into the sky, automatically cataloguing the constellations visible in the complete darkness the new moon provided. The easy categorization reminded her of hours spent in the Observatory and she felt the first prick of tears behind her eyes. She was glad her absence would be lost in the continuing revelry she could hear even from the hill behind the house.

She hadn't run away, but she was hiding. Hiding from her mother's determined cheer and her father's teary pride. Hiding from the twins and the dungbombs they shouldn't be amused by at twenty. Hiding from Bill and Charlie and the speculative looks they kept sending in her direction. Hiding from Percy and Oliver and the looks they kept sending each other. Hiding from Harry and Ginny and their naked devotion to each other. Mostly, though, she was hiding from Ron.

The same Ron who had fought Malfoy countless times for her.

The same Ron who threw himself between a Death Eater and an unconscious Malfoy last year.

The same Ron who had been her best friend for seven years.

The same Ron who hadn't bothered to tell her he'd been accepted into the Auror's Academy.

It hurt. *She* hurt. More than she thought possible. Oh, she had smiled and congratulated him even when it became obvious everyone else already knew. She smiled when Charlie saw the truth and looked like he wanted to smack Ron. She smiled when Remus and Sirius produced keys for the flat the boys were to share while Ron attended the Academy and Harry played Quidditch. She smiled until her face ached from the effort and until she couldn't stand the hollowness building behind her sternum any longer.

She didn't run, but she did hide.

"Hermione?" There was some rustling in the undergrowth behind her, then the distinctive thump of a body hitting the ground. "Ruddy nature!"

Hermione hastily wiped at the tears on her face, thankful for the shadows of the night. "Language, Ron."

She ignored the rest of the hushed, profane monologue he kept up as he extracted himself from whatever bit of nature he had stumbled into. After a few seconds he pushed aside her shoes and dropped down to the blanket-covered ground next to her, completely ignoring the concept of personal space. She could feel the warmth of his body all along her side and decided that if she were to lean back just a little, she could pretend the arm he had propped behind her back was actually around her.

"What are you doing out here?" Ron bumped her shoulder with his own and tipped his head back to look at the stars. He toed off his own shoes and socks and crossed his ankles on the cool grass beyond the edge of the blanket.

She shrugged and wrapped her arms around her knees, the long skirt of her dress fanning around her. "How did you know where I was?"

He laughed a little and bumped into her again, this time leaving his body pressed against hers. "You're my best friend. I *know* you. This is your favorite thinking spot at the Burrow."

Hermione frowned a bit at his last observation, but passed over it in favor of his first comment. "Yeah, some best friend."

Even she was surprised at the anger in her voice. Everything came rushing back and she wanted to yell at him, to make him stop - one way or the other - the endless chase they'd been running since fourth year. They'd never been more than friends to each other, but neither one had managed to do much more than walk around the lake with anyone else. From the corner of her eye, she saw him drop his chin to his chest and rub his eyes with his free hand.

"I'm sorry, Hermione." His voice was thick and so quiet she could hardly hear it.

She swallowed heavily, fighting a losing battle with the hot tears threatening her composure. "Why didn't you tell me?"

He shifted, settling his arm closer to her back. "I didn't tell anyone except Dumbledore I was applying. I didn't want to deal with everyone when I wasn't accepted."

Hermione felt the urge to defend him, even against himself, bubble to the surface. She bit back her automatic reassurance, but could tell Ron knew what she had been about to say.

"Right. Harry and Ginny were with me when I got the owl from the Academy last month. I think I was more surprised than they were. They wanted to announce it to the whole school, but I made them promise to keep it a secret until I could tell you." He twisted around to meet her eyes, "And I *was* going to tell you as soon as I saw you, but it was never the right time. You were so worried about Voldemort and the N.E.W.T.'s and getting ready for your Apprenticeship and then Ginny let it slip to Mum and suddenly everyone knew. I never wanted to hurt you. I'm sorry."

It wasn't the most elegant explanation, but it was so very Ron that Hermione had to smile. Cautiously, she snaked her arm around his waist, checking his reaction before relaxing into the rainwater scent of his body, her head on his shoulder. "I'm so proud of you, Ron. I just wish-"

He sighed and tentatively moved the arm behind her back until it was pressed against her, his hand tucked next to her hip. "I wanted it to be perfect, but I made a right bloody mess of it." Ron dropped his head down to rest against hers.

Hermione felt his breath stir through her hair and the hand she had placed on his hip slowly worked its way under the loose cotton of his shirt to caress the smooth skin of his back. His muscles tensed under her hand and the air around them seemed to gain an electrical charge, as if a storm were brewing in the cloudless sky. Everywhere they touched, Hermione felt her body come to life, nerves standing at attention and demanding...something more. She lifted her head from his shoulder, but didn't move back at all, keeping her face inches from his. "Why did you want it to be perfect, Ron?"

He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against hers. "You know why."

"Tell me." For the first time, Hermione allowed Ron to hear everything she kept hidden; the loneliness she felt when he and Harry would go off and do their boy things, the desire she had tucked away like a seal on her heart, the need to be cherished simply for being Hermione. "Please."

He kept his eyes closed. "Hermione, I-" As the words caught in his throat, she remembered Ginny had told her she sometimes hated telling Harry she loved him because it didn't seem to be enough. He tried to speak again, but could only shake his head a little and tighten his arm around her.

She touched her fingers to his cheek in understanding and he pressed his cheek into her palm. Hermione moved to her knees, shifting until she was no longer kneeling on her dress. Her hand dragged across his back, and she gently kissed the corner of his mouth. "Show me."

Ron's eyes flew open and she grinned at his scandalized expression. For all his casual disregard of the rules with Harry, he tended to react like a Victorian miss when she dared to ignore propriety with the same impunity. "Are you completely mad? We've never - We can't just - Not in the woods! Not right now!"

She pressed her fingers against his side. "We can wait another seven years if you want, but that just seems a waste of time."

He laughed once, surprised, then shook his head a little and set his forehead against hers again. "We're both nutters."

They stayed like that for a long moment before Hermione moved. She slid her fingers over the planes of his face and into the prickly-soft hair near the nape of his neck. The hand that had been holding hers fluttered down her arm and side, brushing the side of her breast, before coming to rest on her hip. She kissed him softly, pausing only briefly before pressing her lips to his again and twining her arms around his neck.

This was something completely new for both of them, but to Hermione it felt wonderfully, deliciously natural. Ron started a bit when he felt her tongue brush against his lips. He hesitated, then relaxed his mouth, allowing her brush past his lips and trace the line of his teeth. She felt his tongue touch hers, then slowly slide through her lips as the hands on her hips tightened, pulling her closer.

Hermione pulled back slightly to breathe and couldn't stop herself from closing her eyes and letting his presence surround her. It was something she had never let herself think about before, but now she marveled at the way he seemed to fill her senses without even trying. His fingers tentatively pushed under the bunched hem of her dress to touch her top of her thigh. She forced her eyes open and had to smile at his expression. He looked as dazed as she felt. She never knew, never could have imagined how wonderful it would be to touch and be touched. To know the parts of her that were his alone had not been hidden away in vain.

Taking her smile as tacit consent, Ron slid his Quidditch roughened hands under her dress and up her back, carefully tracing the lines of bone and muscle. Bracing her hands on his shoulders, Hermione took advantage of his distraction and swung her knee over his legs, straddling his lap. She sealed her mouth over his again and quickly started on the buttons of his shirt before he could question her. She pulled his hands out from underneath her dress, pushing his shirt down his arms and onto the ground behind him. She let her hands settle on his bare chest.

Ron pulled his mouth from hers and buried his face in the curve of her neck. He wrapped his arms around her back, trapping her arms between them. "Hermione, wait. Think about this for a second."

"What?" Hermione shook her head to clear it. He wanted to *think* about this? *He* wanted to think about this?

"Well, what if...something happens?" He raised his head to meet her eyes and unwound one arm from around her back to brush the hair out of her face.

Something happening? What *was* he on about? Something bloody well better happen. Hermione wrinkled her nose in thought for a moment before realizing what his concern was. She freed her arms from between their bodies and threw them around his neck in a tight hug. She turned her head to drop a kiss on the side of his neck before capturing his face in her hands. "Ron, you're a dear, but Madame Pomfrey taught us how to take care of those precautions ages ago."

"You're sure?" He pushed his fingers through her hair, gently loosening the tangled strands.

"Trust me, the world is safe from another batch of little Weasleys for the time being." She bent forward to meet his kiss, then tipped her head back as he dragged his mouth down the line of her throat. He slid his hands back down her body and under the hem of her dress to grip the bare skin of her waist.

Hermione pulled herself upright and kissed him again. She wriggled closer, her knees pressing against his hips. His hands skated over her ribcage, her silk of her dress pooling around his elbows, and stopped just shy of the bottom edge of her bra. The lips beneath hers gentled, moving slightly to lick an entreaty at the corner of her mouth. Pulling back slightly, she pulled down the zipper and lifted her arms.

As he gently worked the material over her head, Hermione wondered at the ease she felt. She had always thought this would be more...awkward. There was a bit of physical inelegance - questions of trajectory and such - but she felt completely comfortable letting Ron see her and touch her in ways no one else ever had. The idea of sharing herself like this with someone other than Ron sent a shiver through her that had nothing to do with the unseasonably warm night.

"Cold?" He carefully set her dress down just beyond the edge of the blanket, then ran his hands up her arms and down around her waist. He cupped her shoulder blades and spread his fingers, managing to cover most of her nearly bare back. Even though he was eighteen and already a head taller than Harry, he was just beginning to grow into his gangly limbs. Recently, she had noticed how broad he was becoming, the muscles of his shoulders and arms thickening and gaining definition.

He kissed her shoulder reverently, pushing against the lacy edge of her bra. Hermione reached back and caught his hands, teaching him how to undo the simple clasp. She dropped her hands and let Ron pull the straps down her arms and off her body. Her eyes fell to the hollow at the base of his throat and she cursed herself her the sudden twist of nerves. Ron cradled her face in his hands, brushing his thumbs over her cheekbones until she looked at him.

"Hermione, we can stop if you want. You don't have to...prove anything to me. I love you."

She had always suspected there was a side to Ron that no one ever saw, something beyond the quick temper and ready wit he showed the world, and now she knew. In the dormitories and bathrooms she had listened to the other girls, had heard their tales of over-eager hands and clumsy caresses, but here with him, she felt treasured and respected. She pushed him down onto the blanket and set her hands on either side of his head, stretching her body out over his. "I'm not trying to prove anything."

Suddenly aware of how she must looked propped above him, Hermione dropped down onto Ron, catching her breath at the warmth of his skin against hers. She nuzzled against his neck, haphazardly tracing an invisible network of lines between his freckles, and gave license to the hands roving over her back and sides.

She felt his muscles bunch as he shifted, twisting until they were both on their sides. She laid her head on his outstretched arm and wove her fingers through his hair as he leaned forward to press sharp kisses over her face and into her lips. He moved his free hand restlessly over her back, his feather-light touch gradually becoming firmer, more possessive.

He reached up and tunneled through her hair to mold his fingers around the back of her head. He held her mouth to his, sucking on her bottom lip, then his hand stroked down her neck and across the top of her chest. He traced the line of her clavicle, an awed look on his face as he tested its delicate length with his fingers.

"What?" Hermione mimicked his position and laid her fingers against the base of his throat. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I just - I forget sometimes how small you are." He lined her palm up with his, curling his fingers over the tops of hers. "When I see you every day, you're thinking and studying and worrying and just being *Hermione.* And when I think about you - " He closed his eyes. "In my head, you're like Boadicea, leading the Iceni into battle."

Hermione let her hand fall back to the side of his neck and he did the same. "How do you know about Boadicea? Professor Binns only mentioned her in passing two years ago."

She could feel the heat of his sudden blush radiate from his whole body. "I did a little reading."

"Reading?" Hermione blinked rapidly, the tiny corner of her heart not already Ron's slowly melting. "You studied because of me?"

He shrugged a little and dropped his gaze to her chin, his fingers absently playing with a strand of her hair. "It was a short book."

She brushed her fingers across his cheek, drawing his eyes back to hers. She smiled and kissed him softly, whispering, "I love you," before settling her mouth more firmly across his. She gave herself up to the hot pressure of his lips, slipping her hand down his chest and around his back to clutch at his shoulders. Trying to get closer, she hooked her leg over his hip and shifted until she was pressed against the hardness of his groin. She twisted a little, enjoying the friction of their bodies. His fingers tightened on the back of her neck and she realized he hadn't moved his hand at all.

Hermione slid her mouth from Ron's, gliding across his cheek and stopping at the shell of his ear. "Touch me." She caught the edge of his earlobe between her teeth and bit down gently. He shuddered and she soothed the sting with the tip of her tongue. "Please."

He turned his head to catch her mouth with his and let the backs of his fingers drift down the center of her chest. He slowly explored the gentle curve of her breast, his tongue languorous in her mouth. Hermione tightened her grip on his upper arm. With each careful caress of his fingers and every slow sweep of his tongue, she quickened, a strange restlessness pervading her body. She rocked her hips against his, trying to ease the hollow ache building in the pit of her stomach.

Ron moaned into her mouth and pressed against her, gliding his hand over the satin of her underwear and pulling her even closer. Hermione felt his fingers slip under the elastic at her waist. She uncurled her leg from around his thigh and he pushed the stretchy fabric off her body. He trailed his fingers up the length of her leg, tracing the contours of her calf and knee and painting a path of fire across her thigh.

Hermione slowly stroked her hand down his back to the waistband of his pants, gently digging her fingers into the muscles bunching at the base of his spine. She pulled back slightly, his warm breath fanning over her lips, and moved her hand over his side to rest against the thin line of crisp hair below his navel. Taking a deep breath, she pushed her fingers below the edge of his pants and undid the button and zipper, slipping her hands under the layers of fabric to the warm, soft skin of his lower stomach. She carefully eased the fabric over his hips until he could kick his pants and boxers towards the edge of the blanket.

Ron traced the curve of her jaw with trembling fingers and touched her lips before gently combing her hair back from her flushed cheeks. Hermione could feel matching tremors in the hand she had pressed against his ribcage. She kissed him gently, almost chastely, and stretched upwards a fraction of an inch, briefly writhing against him.

The hand in her hair tightened and Ron licked into her mouth, humming deep in his chest. His hand swept down her back, not pausing until it settled heavily on the small of her back pulling her even closer into the curve of his body. Despite her inexperience, Hermione wasn't at all apprehensive about the hot hardness pressing against her stomach. She was curious ...and excited.

She was used to curiosity. It was who she was. It was as much a part of her as breathing. It was what fueled her drive to know and inspired her to learn. It was what sent her hand down his chest to touch his burning flesh.

The excitement surprised her.

She didn't know his desire would feed hers, pulling her ever deeper into its grasp. She didn't know her body would heat and soften simply from being near Ron's - that she would tremble simply because he did. She didn't know touching him would affect her just as much as it did him, that the feel of his skin under her hands could bring her as much pleasure as the press of his fingers against the base of her spine.

Ron moaned quietly into her hair and tightened his grip on her waist, unconsciously pressing against her hand. She stroked him gently, delicately exploring the unfamiliar flesh. Hermione flexed her fingers experimentally and his hips jerked forward. Ron pulled her hand away from him and rolled until he was resting on his elbow above her.

Carefully balancing himself on one arm, he gathered up her hair with his other hand. He twisted the thick mass into a messy knot and piled it over her head. He trailed his fingers over her cheek and let her pull him down, covering her chest with his own.

He kissed her greedily, rhythmically brushing his body against hers. Elbows propped on either side of her, he toyed with the loose hair near her temples, twisting the curly strands around his fingers as he strung kisses over the underside of her jaw and down the line of her throat. Near the curve of her shoulder, she felt the damp brush of his tongue as he drew a small patch of flesh into his mouth. The pull of his mouth increased and Hermione arched against him.

She ran her hands over his shoulders and down his back, trying to touch as much of him as she could. Every time he moved, every time he shifted, every time he breathed, the rough heat of his skin dragged against her and Hermione realized every breath she took ended in a barely audible whimper. Ron freed her neck with a final, possessive lick and raised his head. He absentmindedly brushed away the hair clinging to her face and neck as he studied her face in the starlight.

"What are you thinking about?" Hermione was shocked by the timbre of her voice. It was deeper than usual and infinitely softer. None of the books she consulted had mentioned anything about that.

After a long moment he smiled a little and shook his head. "Nothing. Us. The first time we met."

She returned his smile and brushed a soft finger against the bridge of his nose. She knew exactly what he meant. She laid her fingers against his cheek and traced the curve of his lips with her thumb, then guided his mouth back to hers. He touched his tongue to the bow of her upper lip, capturing it in a gentle caress before setting his mouth against hers.

Hermione fell into the maelstrom of his kiss. She loved being with him like this. In this moment, wrapped in the warmth of each other, there was nothing more to know. The world beyond the shared borders of their flesh ceased to exist. Supporting himself on one arm, he trailed his hand down her throat. He cupped the softness of her breast, gently circling tip with his thumb and swallowing her pleased moans. With a final soft touch, he slid his hand heavily down the middle of her body before letting it come to rest on her lower stomach.

He raised his head and caught her eyes before moving his hand the last few inches. He touched her hesitantly, charting her reactions as he carefully explored her softness. Though his inexperience was evident, a shock of pleasure at being touched by a hand other than her own raced through Hermione. That it was *Ron* touching her only magnified her pleasure.

She moved her hips against his hand and a low, surprised sound rumbled through Ron. Following the sinuous motion of her body, his touch slowly grew more confident. Sensation shuddered through Hermione, building and building until it became a pulsing wave more intense than anything she had ever felt. The edges of her vision began to blur and she gave in to the feeling, closing her eyes and tipping her head back against his arm.

As the fluttering spasms began to die down, Ron carefully withdrew his hand from her body and Hermione was shocked at the sense of loss she felt. He bent to kiss her, quickly wiping his hand on the blanket before stroking the soft skin of her stomach. He shifted closer and his erection skimmed the smooth skin of her thigh, drawing matching sounds of need from both of them. Beyond even the visceral pleasure of skin on skin, she loved the knowledge that, in this moment, he was hers.

And she was his.

He pulled his mouth away and rubbed his cheek against hers. "Hermione - Please -"

She nodded jerkily and kissed the spot behind his ear, pulling him on top of her and wrapping her legs around his waist. Ron centered himself over her, letting his hips settle into the cradle of hers. She caught her breath as he gingerly settled against her, the sheer mass of him pressing her into the yielding spring soil.

Hermione welcomed the weight of his body and instinctively adjusted the movement of her body, pressing up against him. He moved again, twisting his hips until he was poised at the entrance to her body. When he hesitated, she reached between them and guided him forward, tilting her hips slightly. She returned her hands to his shoulders as he slowly sank into her, his face pressed against her neck.

There was pain - more than she had expected, but less than she had feared. Ron entered her carefully, doing his best not to rush her acceptance of him. With a groan she felt more than heard, he slid completely inside her. The weight of him pinned her to the ground and he held himself perfectly still for a long moment, his breath dancing over her shoulder. Hermione felt his body quiver under her hands and he lifted his head.

"Are you all right?"

Hermione nodded a little uncertainly, her discomfort fading into a strangely pleasurable throbbing as he moved gently inside her. He dipped his head down and kissed her softly, whispering a jumble of love and apology against her mouth. She ran her hand over the damp skin of his back, rocking her hips against his. She wasn't sure if she was trying to alleviate the throbbing or intensify it, but the jolt of sensation she felt convinced her to try it again.

"Oh, god - " Ron pulled his lips from hers and dropped his head to the ground. "Hermione, I can't - Just hold still for a second."

He shuddered again and Hermione felt an odd sense of power. This was because of her. This was for her. Not one of the Patil twins or Lavender or some simpering half-Veela.

Hermione pressed up against him and nipped at his neck. Another tremor tore through him and he managed to choke out her name before he stiffened above her. The muscles of his back turned to steel under her hands and he surged rhythmically within the confines of her body, his mouth hot against her neck and shoulder. Hermione could feel her own pleasure beginning to stir again, but even as she realized it, Ron thrust one final time, suspended above her for several long seconds before dropping heavily into her arms.

Nearly boneless with her own contentment, Hermione somehow managed to keep her arms wrapped around him. He curled into her embrace, shifting to avoid crushing her. As he moved, he slipped out of her and she wanted to say something, to protest the loss, but the steady beat of his heart against her side was lulling her towards sleep. His breath fanned out against the side of her throat, cooling her skin and creating an uneven line of goose bumps. He nuzzled his mouth against the raised flesh, smoothing a path from her ear to her shoulder. She shivered from the sensation and tried to burrow completely under his warmth. He reached across her and grabbed the edge of the blanket, wrapping it around her as he rolled them over.

Hermione settled against him, forearms on either side of his head, as he brushed the hair away from her face. He reached up to tuck the blanket around her shoulders, but stopped abruptly before he touched her.

"Is this - Can we - Would you -"

That he could be so uncertain after what they had just done nearly broke Hermione's heart. She wasn't sure exactly what he was asking, but answered truthfully, "We're fine."

He smiled up at her, covering her with the blanket and tracing random patterns on her back. She propped her head on one hand and watched his shifting expressions in the starlight. It was strange to see Ron so still - there was something about him that seemed to her inherently dynamic - but this quiet was satisfying too. She brushed her fingers down his cheek and over his jaw, smiling as he turned his head to follow her caress. When his eyes began to droop, she pressed a quick kiss on his lips. "Don't fall asleep; we have to go back."

He shook his head and rolled onto his side, wrapping them tightly in the blanket. "We're fine for a while longer. Charlie said he'd take care of things while I 'fixed whatever bit of trouble' I had caused."

Helpless laughter bubbled out of Hermione. She covered her mouth with her hand to muffle it, but it was useless. "I don't think this is quite what he had in mind."

Ron let loose a startled laugh and shook his head. "Probably not."

Hermione lifted her head to drop smiling kisses over his face. When she neared his lips, he tightened his arms around her and kissed her softly, cradling her face in his hands. Everything - his kiss, the touch of his hand, the warmth of his body - was a testament to his keeping, to his love.

Hermione tucked her head under his chin and closed her eyes. A million thoughts raced through her mind - how this would change their friendships, what her parents would think, how far her flat was from Ron's - but she couldn't seem to capture any of them. She let her breathing fall into rhythm with Ron's as they drifted towards sleep and she managed to catch one thought before she slid into unconsciousness.

She wasn't hiding.


Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his world aren't mine. I make no money from this. I just have fun.

Created and maintained by carleton97.

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