Saturday, in the end, came faster than Hermione could have imagined and even though Hermione missed breakfast because Ginny kept fussing over her hair she could not really find herself caring. She would see Ron soon enough and Hogsmeade offered plenty of possibilities to grab a bite. And Hermione was pretty sure that Ron would get hungry again sooner rather than later.
Finally it was ten and Hermione strolled down into the big entrance hall where Ron already waited for her. Harry was indeed nowhere to be seen and for a moment she asked herself if he would go to Hogsmeade alone today and if she should feel guilty about it.
“Hello Mione,” Ron greeted her with an almost shy smile on his lips. “Erm, you look great.”
Her heart made a tiny pleased flutter at his compliment. Looks like her lessons with Ginny already paid off. “Thanks, Ron. Should we go?” Hermione looked around and unsurprisingly they seemed to be among the first ones to leave the castle. Most of the students rather used the Saturdays to sleep in and head to Hogsmeade for lunch.
“Sure,” Ron said and offered her his hand. Hermione took it with a happy smile. They had been holding hands now a few times, mostly during mealtimes when they sat next to each other. Hermione had come to enjoy this sweet, innocent proof of his affection for her. It was something they could do in public without getting scolded for it and therefore it was a good way to show the world, that Hermione Granger indeed had a boyfriend - or something coming close to that. It wasn’t official just yet, well at least they hadn’t really spoken of it, just … snogged a bit. Did this mean they were together now? Huh, she didn’t know, but she decided that this was something they would talk about today.
The walk into the village was beautiful; the last days of summer leaving the air warm enough to just head down in a T-shirt and jeans. It wouldn’t be long until temperatures dropped again and Hermione was determined to make the most of the day and the weather.
“Where should we head first?” Hermione asked while gently pressing Ron’s hand that was still holding hers. His hand was much bigger than hers and there were quite a few calluses on his palm, probably from his Quidditch training. She did not mind though as the feeling of his rough skin just made her feel protected, in a way she could not explain.
Ron looked at her with a happy grin. “Maybe Zonko’s first? Later on, the shop’s always crowded, same for Honeydukes. Afterwards, we could grab a bite. Somewhere there’s supposed to be some sort of café, that seems to be quite popular for dates. What do you think?”
She looked at him with a disbelieving smile. “You want to take me to Madame Puddifoot’s? Really? Don’t you think it will be a bit too…”
“Nah, I’m sure it will be fine,” Ron answered with a shrug. “Can’t be so bad when they all go there, can it?”
Hermione smiled. “I guess we’re about to find out.”
Severus hated Hogsmeade patrols with a passion. Usually, Saturdays were the days where he could finally have some time to himself, reading, researching, sleeping, but whenever those hordes of idiots decided to roam the village now, he would have to be on patrol, because the Dark Lord would just be waiting for a chance to strike. Why Dumbledore did not cancel those useless little outings under the given circumstances was totally beyond him.
Instead of keeping the students safe behind Hogwarts’ walls, the Headmaster let them roam free, while the whole fucking Order was ordered to watch after them like they did not need a damned break too, from time to time. Severus knew he definitely needed a break and a good night of sleep that wasn’t interrupted by him waking up with a fucking boner that just did not want to go away . It was like he was a seventeen-year-old again, wanking away in the shower in the hopes of finally getting his raging hormones under control. But it was a futile attempt.
Luckily he had gotten the first shift, which meant that most of those teenage idiots would still be in the castle and there was less for him to do. Sometimes he had half an hour of blissful silence before the first students arrived, leaving him with enough time to stroll through the village, sipping coffee, but not today. He had barely reached his post, as he could see the first students stroll down the path to the village and it did not take long for him to recognize who it was. Good gods, Weasley was taking Hermione on a date and going by the content smile on her face and their entwined hands, she was enjoying herself.
Severus tried not to look too close and instead forced himself to check the surroundings to make sure they would not be attacked on their little romantic outing. But whenever he wasn’t paying attention, he felt his eyes shift back towards her, taking in her petite figure, her smile and her hair, which she had somehow tamed into soft curls. He had only once seen her do it, at the Yule Ball, and the realization that Weasley was the one she was doing it again for, made him want to choke the red-headed fool with his bare hands. Why did she have to fall for the most unworthy fool there was at Hogwarts? This was Lily all over again, Severus realized, wanting to pull out his hair in frustration. How could such intelligent women not realize what a stupid choice they had made?
Severus watched the two lovebirds as they made their way to Zonko’s, where they stayed for exactly 25 minutes and 20 seconds. Through the window he could see Hermione look around the shop in fake interest, a wide smile plastered on her face, while her fingers kept thrumming on whatever surface she found. Just when the two of them entered Honeydukes, the next students arrived and left him with less time to… guard Miss Granger and Mr Weasley, but at least she seemed to have bought something this time, when they left the shop 16 minutes and 30 seconds later. That’s when they entered fucking Madame Puddifoot’s. Of all the places to go, Weasley just had to pick the most unimaginative destination for a date… this absolutely sealed it. The boy was an unworthy idiot. If he just had a way to let Hermione realize it, without shredding the little trust they had just built up!
Hermione saw Ron eyeing the pink and golden decorations in disgust and it took all her self-control to not snort into her cup of tea. She could tell he hated it here, hated drinking tea out of tiny cups that did not hold more than a few sips. The over-sweetened biscuits probably held some appeal for him, but by the look of it, they did not help to make him feel much better.
Hermione could not blame him. This place was ridiculous and the girlish giggles coming from the table behind her made her want to get up and run. But she could not do that, right? Because it surely would insult Ron, if she bolted from the place he had chosen for them.
“Errr, how’re your parents?” Ron asked after a while, an awkward smile on his face. She saw him eyeing the table behind her and really, he just had finished his sentence as another fit of giggles erupted behind her. Dear god... How was she supposed to concentrate on talking to him if she felt like they were permanently watched?
“Good,” Hermione said, plastering a smile on her face. “They settled in pretty quickly and I even think they like it, where they are now. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to convince them to move back. Not when wizarding transportation allows me to visit them within the blink of an eye.”
Ron nodded understandingly. “Yeah, apparition and port keys are pretty brilliant, once you got used to the feeling of it. The ride to Egypt was pretty rough. Think I was sick for a whole day afterwards.”
Hermione smiled understandingly. “Yeah. But I’ve been told side-along apparition is much worse than doing it yourself. Can’t wait to learn apparating myself.”
Her words were followed by another fit of giggles from behind her and she saw Ron eying the two girls behind her with an annoyed expression on his face. “Hermione? Could we… would you mind if…”
He mumbled, his face slowly rising in colour.
Hermione smiled. “You mean if we can get out of here?” she asked, a hopeful smile on her face.
“Yeah,” Ron said, awkwardly scratching his neck. “It’s just…” It was obvious that he did not know what to say. But he did not have to, as she was sure she pretty much felt the same.
“This here… this isn’t really us, is it?” she supplied helpfully and saw Ron nod in relief.
“Not really, no,” he said, with a small smile. “You really don’t mind? We can also stay a while longer, if it makes you happy.”
Hermione shook her head with a laugh. “No thanks. I think I’ve had enough. Let’s pay and get out of here. This place is...”
“Awful?” Ron said, an awkward smile on his lips.
Hermione nodded. “I wouldn’t have said it like that, but yeah... pretty much.”
It was only five minutes later that they stumbled out of Madame Puddifoot’s café arm in arm, vowing to never enter that horrible place again.
“Merlin, have you seen the decorations in the ceiling?” Ron asked her, his voice a disbelieving laugh. “It’s worse than Lockhart on Valentine's day.”
Hermione giggled next to him. “It is beyond me how other girls can like that place. Even the food was horrible.”
Ron snorted. “And fucking expensive. And I’m not even nearly full enough to enter the bookshop, yet.”
She giggled. It almost sounded like facing more than ten books was something Ron did not want to do on an empty stomach, which was ridiculous, of course. It was probably just that Ron could not do anything on an empty stomach, which was so totally him, that it was almost cute...almost.
This day was getting worse and worse, Severus thought two hours later. He had been right, Hermione and her boyfriend did not make it for ten minutes in the ridiculous café, but when they came out, they were snorting and giggling with laughter. It was wrong! She wasn’t supposed to react like that and she definitely wasn’t supposed to cling to his arm and laugh at his jokes, which were surely far from funny. But she did and with sinking heart Severus watched her accompany Weasley, the lucky fool, into the Three Broomsticks and later on into the bookshop. What did the moron even want there? It wasn’t like he would ever look into a book, if he wasn’t absolutely forced to...
While carefully patrolling the area around, because that was what he was doing, he saw the redhead fidget and look at several books without much enthusiasm. When Severus passed the store the next time, ten minutes later, the boy was even carrying some books for the girl with an idiotic smile plastered on his face – like he would ever enjoy doing such a thing. It was absolutely ridiculous . But going by the blissful smile on Miss Granger’s face she was falling for it, chattering to the oblivious boy like he was able to understand a word she said – which he surely didn’t, as Severus could not see him say very much in return.
When Severus passed the bookstore for a third time, about 28 minutes after they had entered, he saw the two of them exit it again. Weasley had made it in there for 28 minutes, he should have been impressed. Miss Granger surely was, going by the enthusiasm with which she clung to the boy’s arm. Severus snorted. He had been book shopping with her for fucking two hours , a feat that Mr Weasley was far from achieving. In direct comparison to him the boy didn’t stand a chance – theoretically speaking. Maybe he should take the girl to Diagon Alley once more, just as a friendly outing of course. It had to be enough to make her realize her mistake, right? Because considering their momentary situation there wasn’t much else he could do.
By the look of it Miss Granger and the idiot decided on a stroll through the village. There wasn’t anything to say against that, well, apart from the fact that a Death Eater could lurk behind every fucking corner. Severus sighed. He guessed he’d have to follow them, because there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d let something happen to his bond-mate.
“Ah, Severus!” the loud voice of Horace Slughorn greeted him from across the street. The fucking walrus was using his patrol time for some additional shopping, going by the bags that obediently floated after him. “Always on duty, always on duty...” he commented, looking him up and down like he was hoping to find some shopping bags with him, too, that could excuse his unacceptable behaviour. Of course, the old fart would find none, as Severus knew his duty.
“I’m only doing what the Headmaster asked of us,” Severus replied coldly, his eyes inconspicuously tracking the two teenagers on their way towards the less frequented part of the village.
“Yes, yes. Of course,” Slughorn assured him, a smile spreading on his face. “I’ll join you in a moment. But there’s this nice little wine shop around the corner and I really need to stock up my collection. I need some more bottles for the next Slug Club meeting - I plan on holding one in a few days. And we wouldn’t want the students disappointed by this little outing, would we?” The man laughed pompously. “I’ll join you afterwards. Most of the students are in the Three Broomsticks anyway and Hagrid was happy to keep watch there.” Slughorn chuckled good-naturedly and Severus had to do his utmost to not sneer at him. Hadn’t this idiot been on the run for months? How could it be that he was so careless now?
“See that you do,” Severus said before he turned into the direction that Miss Granger and the Weasley-idiot had taken a moment ago. “You know what trouble those students can get themselves into.”
“Right, right,” the other man mumbled, before dashing off towards the wine store. One could almost think that he had not heard a word of what Severus had been saying. Idiot.
“How about we sit down here and talk for a bit?” Hermione asked after they had aimlessly wandered around in Hogsmeade for about fifteen minutes. Now, they had reached the edge of the village and Hermione looked at a beautiful meadow that was lying ahead of them.
“Yeah, why not?” Ron said, looking around before pointing towards a nice spot. It was shaded by a large tree and once Hermione had conjured a nice picnic blanket for them, it was the perfect place for sitting down. Hermione lowered herself on the blanket and Ron sat down next to her, taking her hand into his a moment later. Hermione looked at him with a happy smile. Ron was suddenly so kind and suddenly he was so attentive with her.
"Ron? I wondered if…” Hermione started, as she felt the question could suddenly not wait any longer. She wanted to know, no needed to know, what kind of label she could put onto… this. “Are we… I mean… can I call you my boyfriend now? Or is this just… I mean… are we just trying things out?”
The redhead looked at her with a hesitant smile. “Dunno. Would you like to be? My girlfriend I mean. It’s okay if you don’t…”
Hermione chuckled. “Look at us. We’re both too hesitant to say it, aren’t we? Yes, I’d love to be your girlfriend, Ron. You’re kind and brave and we’ve known each other for years,” she said, enjoying the happy smile she brought onto his face. ‘With you I know what I’m getting myself into,’ she added in her head. ‘With you I’ll be safe, and to get hurt.’
“Brilliant!” Ron exclaimed, before pulling her into a high-spirited kiss. Hermione welcomed his mouth readily and kissed him back enthusiastically. They were really doing this, she realized when she felt his tongue enter her mouth and his arms close around her. It felt good, she thought, and grabbed the front of his T-shirt, her tongue exploring her boyfriend’s mouth on her own. Doing that felt… exciting... and suddenly she was glad for her mum’s hint to brush her teeth carefully. Because as it looked they wouldn’t stop kissing each other anytime soon - and Hermione was absolutely fine with that. Because that’s what you were supposed to be doing with your boyfriend, right?