Mental Match

Chapter 10: Heart of the Matter

Chapter 10 - Heart of the Matter

Never in her 23 years did Hermione Granger ever think that she would consider doing bodily harm to another person over something so...immature...so idiotic...as the feeling of jealousy over a boy. Yet...for a brief moment after Luna stepped away...no...it was actually during the act of the kiss with Ron...that she had the almost uncontrollable urge to yank the blonde witch away from him and hex her to another planet. It was just a moment...a moment of madness...before she recovered to her normal sensible self and just wondered what the heck was going on with Ron and her somewhat dreamy headed friend.

Her mind frantically flew to that wonderful morning in the small cafe by the river as she strained to remember what Ron had said. They were neighbours and they were good friends who had grown up together...that was all. He never said they were once...then again he never said they weren't. And why would she be so affected by that fact? She had not claimed Ron for herself. He had certainly not made any claim on her. Nope...there was no claiming going on...she hoped. The uncontrollable urge reared its ugly head again as she stared at the two people in question.

Ron to his credit pulled away abruptly and awkwardly from Luna, his face turning pink as he turned to give Hermione what seemed to be a but it was not me glance. He seemed to be genuinely pleased to see Luna but horribly uncomfortable with her greeting. She relaxed a bit at this thought but gave him her best glare to keep him in check. There was some history there and even though she had no right to, she half expected him to tell her at some time...soon. They were moving in the same direction or so she truly hoped and some explanation as to why a girl would greet him with an unabashed kiss was surely deserving.

Luna however carried on without missing a beat. She quickly glanced at Ron's awkward pink face and then took in the slight scowl that must have been showing on her own face before she spoke in that flat sing song voice of hers.

" I thought you appeared different Hermione. I didn't realise that you two were together. It really looks good on you. Don't worry I'm just borrowing him for a while to catch up and you can have him back in a jiffy." she simply stated before pulling a sputtering Ron to walk with her. As she passed to the front of the group she turned to her side.

"Oh hello Ginny. It's wonderful to see you here also. Are you with Harry now? You do go well together. He really needs a strong girl like you to balance his stubbornness." she said.

Ginny rolled her eyes as she sighed knowingly. "No Luna, I just met him today at the match but thanks for the observation...and it's great to see you again by the way...I'll see you down at the pub." she laughed lightly as Luna and Ron continued walking together.

Hermione and Harry both stood somewhat stunned with their faces flushed by the mutterings of Luna as Ginny looked at them and laughed out again.

"Yeah...she has a habit of doing that. I guess you guys still are not used to it eh?" she grinned. "Come on you two...close your mouths and let's get going." she turned and started to walk.

Hermione reacted first and quickly caught up to her, glad that she could get her away from Harry for a bit.

"Hey Ginny...I know it sounds silly but what is the story with Ron and Luna? Do you know?" she asked quietly.

Ginny glanced to the front looking at the tall redhead with the striking blonde.

"I honestly don't know the whole story Hermione. We were all friends when we were growing up at the burrow...home. Luna was our nearest magical neighbour and she and Ron got very close. I was glad that they were because Ron finally had someone other than family who he could relate to." she looked knowingly at Hermione before continuing.

"Don't worry Hermione. They were just friends I know that much. Even I thought that maybe as they got older they would...you know get together... but they never did. Maybe they tried or maybe they decided on their own I don't know but Ron always treated her as just a friend. He would always check on her during the holidays after she went off to Hogwarts but that was all." she sighed as she took her arm in hers.

"Look Hermione, It's none of my business but what Luna said a while ago wasn't so much of a surprise. You both have the look for each other, even Harry and I could see that. If you like him then just tell him. I know he's a big git sometimes but he really likes you. He just needs a push to get over his hurdles...you know what I mean. I'm just saying...if you really want to go...a bit further then you may have to...go a bit further with him...you know?" she grinned with a wink.

Hermione again felt her face heating up under Ginny grin.

"Funny Ginny but thanks. Ron and I will work it out I guess." she said as her ears remained red. Ginny drew her close again.

"...And I think tonight is as good as any to make a move. Listen...I don't believe Ron has told you as yet but we have to leave together for home tonight. It appears we have been summoned by George...one of my brothers for a family meeting tomorrow. Ron was not happy about it but Mom and Dad insisted also so we leave as soon as we can. We shouldn't be gone for long but why wait." she said encouragingly.

Hermione was left to ponder on Ginny's words of support as they reached in front of the Three Broomsticks. Was it so obvious to everyone? Should she really make the move forward? She certainly had thought about it many times wanting...needing that ache in her stomach to go away...or change into something better. What exactly was she to do? Was she moving too fast again? Had she really thought this out or was her logical reasoning being skewed by her feelings for him. Her head felt a bit giddy with all her thoughts. Stop thinking girl and just do!

She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Hey are you ok?" Ron had a concerned look on his face and she wondered if it was due to his recent greeting with Luna or just her confused look on her face. Either way she immediately warmed to his blue eyed gaze and she felt herself shuffling closer to him.

"I'm really sorry about that Hermione. It was just Luna you know...she's a bit...impulsive at the best of times but she's a good friend remember I told you. I've know her for ages that's all. She's just a friend...well...just in case you want to know...not that you would want to know...but...oh bullocks." he sighed as he rubbed his neck.

"You mean friends like Harry and me?" she asked tentatively.

"Erm...yes...no...I mean yes but it's a bit more complicated. Hell Hermione I wish I could tell you the story now but time is not on my side right now. Stupid George!" he cried out in frustration as he ran his hands through his hair now.

"It's ok Ron. Ginny told me about your family meeting. We can talk later about it when you get back." she hurried out. Come on it's cold outside here. Let's get inside and have a nice warm butter beer." she smiled at him. She didn't want him in a mood especially with her recent deliberations to move things along. She grabbed his arm and pushed open the door.


The noise and warmth hit them instantly and she briefly regretted leaving the quiet outside alone with him.

"Hermione! Ron! Over here." they heard a shout.

Harry and Ginny were seated at a large table with Neville and had been joined by their other housemates Dean and Seamus. It looked like the latter two had already consumed a fair amount of beer as they appeared to be acting like idiots around Ginny who was snuggled close to Harry and having a great time with all her admirers. They joined the table and soon the conversation was flowing like old times. She really had missed her friends.

Ron at first was hesitant to join in but after a few beers his funny story telling self gradually appeared and soon all at the table including herself were enjoying his company and Hermione soon felt her happiness of earlier returning. Harry seemed to be completely taken by the red haired female next to him, Ron was having a good time with her friends and the warmth of his presence against her made her head swim with joy.

This could be much more she thought. She wanted more but as she looked around the table she realised that tonight might not be the right time as Ginny had suggested. There were too many people around and too much beer being consumed. No. She would have to wait for a quieter time with just Ron and her somewhere. She would just enjoy herself tonight. The niggling thought of Luna also seemed less of a threat at this moment.

After having another warm butter beer Hermione excused herself to go to the ladies washroom. Ron squeezed her hand under the table and gave her a small smile before she rose to go. Her heart gave a flip and she had a smile on her face as she made her way to the room in the back. The smile was still on her face as she returned to the table but she froze at the sight now before her.

Two very familiar girls were now talking to Ron at the table and one in particular was obviously doing her best to catch his eye. Lavender Brown swished her blonde hair around and pushed out her chest just a little as she laughed. Her hand was on his arm and her face was beaming as she looked at him. Ron appeared comfortable in her presence and seemed to be trying his best to be polite. Instead of the violent urge that had briefly taken hold of her earlier with the greeting from Luna, this time her insecurities pushed to the front and she felt a sudden despair and anxiety as she now neared the table.

"Hermione! There she is. Hey it's lovely to see you." they both cried out.

"Hello Lavender and Parvati. I was wondering when you two would show up." she said a bit starchy. "I guess you already met Ron have you?"

"Oh yes and he's been such a delight I must say." gushed Lavender.

Ron gave her a lopsided grin but it looked like he was not too sure of the whole situation. Before she could say anything to him, the two girls excused themselves and pulled her to the bar in a rush of giggles. She sighed to herself. Just what she did not need now.

"Why Hermione we now know why you have been avoiding any socializing out of school of late." Lavender sang.

"We heard you were working with someone at school but now we know the reason for your dedication to the cause as such." Parvati giggled as she took a sip of her beer.

"I have no idea what you two are going on about." Hermione shot. "How many beers have you had Parvati?"

"Don't change the subject Hermione you are not getting away so easily." Parvati giggled again.

"And what exactly is the subject pray tell?" she asked getting a little annoyed as she knew exactly where this was going. Lavender turned and stared at Ron.

"He is and He. Is. Gorgeous. That's the subject and you know it." she said plainly.

That uncontrollable urge to commit bodily harm suddenly appeared in her chest again. She really had to fight this.

"We just work together Lavender. That's all. Now will you two give it a rest so I go back and have a good time with my friends" she said hotly.

"Just friends eh?" Lavender quirked her eyebrows. "So...if I were to go back there...cosy up to your friend and throw my best charms at him you wouldn't mind?" she smiled as she swished her golden hair around her head again for effect. Her stare returned to Ron.

Hermione seriously considered reaching for her wand as Parvati suddenly gave her blonde friend a knock on her arm.

"That's enough Lavender. Leave her alone." she turned to Hermione with a grin.

"Don't worry Hermione. We both saw you in the stands during the game with him and we both know he is not just your friend. Lavender just wanted to rile you up a bit...but it's true he is gorgeous so if you want to shag him you better get a move on before someone else does." she said matter-of-factly.

Hermione was now truly incensed and her blood was boiling.

"Is that all you two can think of? You have no idea of anything else do you? That's all they are to you. Just someone to shag. You should know me well enough to make such a crude suggestion Parvati. So just leave me alone and go on with your sorry selves." she spat.

Lavender turned to her in a flash but there was control in her voice as she spoke softly.

"You haven't changed a bit Hermione. Always the righteous and always the good hearted. We were just having a bit of fun. He is nice and he looks like a really good guy but after all he is still just a...just a squib Hermione. You could not possibly be thinking of anything more serious are you?...Are you?" she was studying her face before she continued.

"Oh Lord Hermione! and you are supposed to be the bright one!" she gasped. "Have you really thought about this? Have you really? I should do you a favour and really make a play for him."

Hermione could barely get over her shock at the insinuations of her former roommate.

"I can't believe you would think like that Lavender. You don't know him at all. It's people like you that I fought against in the war. People like you with small and narrow minds. You're right...I haven't changed but I would have thought that you would have at least opened your mind after all we have been through." she said loudly. Lavender now was also riled up.

"Don't tell me about the war Hermione. I was there too. I'm just being realistic and believe it or not I'm just trying to help you but it seems you know everything as usual. Come on Parvati we're leaving." she turned and stomped away. Parvati looked at her with some regret.

"I'm sorry Hermione, we didn't mean...you take care...bye." she blurted out before following behind her friend.

Hermione slumped down in the nearest bar seat with her head giddy again.

"She's right. You really have to think about this seriously Hermione." a tiny voice rang behind her.

God! Luna. What now! She just wanted to get back next to his warmth...next to the comfortable place that she knew.

"Please Luna I don't need another lecture on this. Not from you of all people." she sighed with her head in her hands.

"I just came to say sorry about earlier. I didn't know. But if you are really serious about Ron and I can tell that you are, you have to consider all the consequences. If you truly like him you have to think about this seriously Hermione...I did." she finished.

Hermione shot her head up and looked at her friend in surprise. This was becoming too much.

"And is that why you never became more than friends Luna? You couldn't handle the consequences?" she asked bitterly.

Luna reached out and rested her hand on her arm as she turned to also look at Ron.

"You have it all wrong Hermione. It wasn't me who wanted to remain friends... It was him. I was a little girl who fell in love with my friend. I knew he didn't feel the same way but I was hoping he would give us a chance. Thank heavens he had his head on even at that age. It never would have worked beyond us being friends. So...that's what we are. I still have deep feeling for him and I guess that was the reason for my earlier...outburst but this is different Hermione. He likes you...far more than he ever did with me. He may even be in love with you and if you love him you have to know what you are getting into." she finished with a small squeeze on her arm as she let go.

Hermione's head now was literally spinning. Did she love him? Was this constant ache within her a sign? How had she reached this place so easily?

"I'm not sure about this Luna. I'm just a bit confused that's all but whatever this is between us I won't let any prejudice get in the way. You know that." she said.

Hermione could not really believe she was having this conversation with Luna...her dreamy headed spaced out friend. Maybe everyone had really grown up after the war. Or maybe Luna was always the level headed one and no one had ever recognized it.

"I know that Hermione but listen...if you get together with Ron...in a serious way... have you considered what will happen if you ever want to return to the Ministry and to achieve a senior position? It may never happen if you are involved with someone like him. I know it sounds horrible but that's how it is. Your teaching here may even be in jeopardy. Have you thought about that?" she asked quietly.

"I don't care about that Luna. I have always fought for what's right and I'm not going to stop." she answered but with a hint of nervousness. The truth was she had never considered anything past the normal relationship issues with Ron. This was indeed food for thought but she knew she would be up for the fight especially if it involved her relationship with Ron.

"What about children Hermione? Have you considered that?" Luna continued on. Hermione had to sputter out now in surprise.

"Luna are you serious? I still haven't figured out our relationship and you are asking about children?" she stuttered out as her face started to turn pink at the thought. Luna shook her head and carried on.

"Hermione, if you have children with Ron the possibility of having muggle children is a lot higher in this case. With your parents being muggles and Ron being a squib then there is a high chance of your children being born muggle. Think about that. What if you have more than one child and one is magical and one is not. It's different with Ron and his family. He was at least able to see and go places in the magical world. But you may have children that are totally different from each other. Please Hermione I am not trying to discourage you but I went through all that in my head before and I just want you to be prepared." she explained with concern on her face.

Hermione jogged her memory back before her first meeting with Ginny. She had tried to picture what it would have felt to have a muggle sibling and how close they could have been. At the time she could not see how they could have developed a close relationship but now...now she had to study this.

"It's alright Luna. I know you mean well. You are right I suppose. It's just so much to think about I think my head is about to burst." she finally let out a deep breath and again rested her head in her hands.

"Don't worry I know you will figure this out. That's what you are best at. I have to go but...I wish you the best Hermione." she quickly gave her a hug before disappearing back into the crowd.

Hermione started to feel suffocated sitting at the bar inside this place. Her head was really spinning and she needed some fresh air. She quickly sat up and headed for the door grabbing her jacket along the way. She ran a few yards before stopping and leaning against a tree to clear her mind.

What has started as a wonderful and promising day with the person she...liked?...loved...had turned into a mishmash of jumbled up thoughts about her relationship with the same person in question. Just an hour ago she was contemplating making the next move forward and now she was feeling confused and in doubt. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm herself.

"Are you ok? I saw you leave and I was worried." his distinct smell followed his words and she drew the scent in greedily hoping for instant relief. She opened her eyes and looked at him, taking in his worried look and feeling more confused than ever.

"I'm sorry. I just needed some air Ron. I'm fine." she said but for some reason her body felt frozen in place.

"I felt like I haven't been able to say two words to you tonight. Whenever I looked you were with someone." he said softly the look of concern still on his face but he kept his distance. Without thinking Hermione picked a fight.

"Yeah I had the same problem. It didn't appear like you having any trouble talking to those two girls." she tried to sound spiteful but she knew she was being unfair and she immediately regretted her outburst.

"What?...are you serious? that blonde bimbo? I was just being polite Hermione. Is that the best you can do?" he hissed at her. "if you want to get rid of me then at least have the decency not to make things up." he ran his hands roughly through his hair. It looked like he was deliberating to return inside and she panicked.

"No...I'm sorry Ron. God I don't know why I said that. Please stay. I need you to stay...please." she sobbed out.

He immediately moved towards her and reached for her hands. She now noticed that he was just wearing his long sleeve cotton tee shirt and she reacted immediately.

"Ron you are not wearing your jumper or your jacket. You will freeze out here." she admonished.

He ignored her distraction as he continued to hold her hands in front of him.

"I'm ok. It's you I'm worried about. Why do I get the feeling that this is not about any blonde or anyone else as a matter of fact." he bent his head and looked at her, his blue eyes staring right through her. He released one of her hands and rubbed his neck slowly. She looked up at him and her mind clouded over again with all that had transpired inside the pub.

"It's not you. I'm just a bit tired and...confused. I just need some time to sort out things. Please bear with me Ron. I was having such a wonderful time today and I don't want it to end like...like last time." she pleaded.

He sighed deeply as he stared at her again his face taking on a knowing look.

"I think I know what is going on Hermione. I saw you talking to Luna and you ran outside soon after. It's alright to be confused. Hell I am confused as much as you believe me. I tried to keep my distance... to give you time to figure things out and it looks like you finally get the whole picture. You were always so sure of yourself but I told you before that there are always other factors to consider. Remember you told me that you would like to prove me wrong someday? " he reminded her.

She nodded silently as she looked at his wonderful face. He appeared as calm as ever.

"Well you still have that chance. I told you that I'm the biggest sceptic but this time I want to give myself a fighting chance too so...I'm about to do something that will either confuse you a whole lot more or make it a whole lot clearer.." he said softly. She raised her eyebrows.

"I'm not sure I understand. What do you mean..." she started before he suddenly drew her closer and placed his lips against hers.

Even though she was not expecting his sudden kiss, a sudden bolt of heat flushed through her body as his lips covered hers. She had no time to react before he pulled away and as she looked at him, he seemed to fully make up his mind. His hands released hers and cupped her face before he brought his warm lips to hers again. This time she was ready.

She flung her arms around his neck and pressed against him as a deep moan escaped her throat. He immediately deepened the kiss as his lips moved against hers as she opened her mouth wider for him. Now the moan came from him as he slipped his tongue inside and pulled her even closer than she could have thought.

Hermione felt completely submerged in him. In every way. Everything else vanished from her mind. She only felt the heat and want from his lips and tongue against her...inside her. As she responded, the ache that she knew so well moved between her legs with a sudden heat and slickness and she instinctively thrust her pelvis up against him. She was totally lost for control.

This last sudden movement from her seemed to bring Ron back to some degree of constraint as he managed to pull himself away from her. They were both gasping for breath but holding on dearly to each other's hand. Before either could say a word there was the sound of running feet behind them.

"So there you both are. We were wondering where you had gone off to. Ron you forgot your jumper and jacket are you totally nuts? We have to leave now before Mom throws a fit so hurry..." Ginny stopped her ramble as she looked at the both of them with a smirk on her face.

"Oh sorry. I didn't mean to disturb...whatever was going on." she grinned at Hermione. "But we really have to be going Ron. Thanks again Hermione for a wonderful day...take care."

Ron slowly regained some degree of control over his hands. He gently reached forward and brushed back some hair from her face before softly stroking her cheek for a brief second before he let his hands drop from her. He stared straight into her wide brown eyes.

"Right...I guess...I guess I will be seeing you when I get back ok? We can talk a bit more about...this then." he said gently with a hopeful smile.

Hermione could only nod her head. She was way passed being embarrassed in front of Ginny. She knew her hair was in a mess and her lips were swollen from its recent activities but she didn't care in the least. Her brain was a bit overwhelmed at the moment and she could only stare at him with her eyes still opened wider than usual. She still felt a warmth deep within her.

She watched him put on his outer clothes and step away with Ginny. He gave her a last look and a small smile before they disappeared with a pop.

xxx

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