You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


The River Otter by Nephele de Tourmalin

Format: One-shot
Chapters: 1
Word Count: 3,691
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: General, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Ron, Hermione, Arthur, Molly, Percy, Fred, George, Ginny
Pairings: Ron/Hermione

First Published: 08/25/2007
Last Chapter: 08/25/2007
Last Updated: 08/25/2007

Summary:

When Hermione joins the Weasleys at the Burrow before the Quidditch World Cup, she realises she has two days alone with Ron before Harry arrives. Well, not really alone. One is never truly alone in the Weasley household.


Chapter 1: Meeting Esmerelda
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: The Burrow is located outside of Ottery St. Catchpole, along the River Otter, and Hermione’s patronus is an otter. Coincidence? I think not!

-----


Hermione tumbled forward, brushing ash from her shirt. Around her, the Burrow emitted pleasant sounds: the floorboards creaked beneath her, a kettle screamed, and the faint sound of jazz wafted from the wireless.

“Hermione!” Molly exclaimed and jumped from her careful stirring. A glob of batter slung from her spoon, landing on Hermione’s cheek. “You gave me a start!”

Hermione wiped at it with a guilty smile. “Sorry, Mrs. Weasley,” she apologised. “I thought you were expecting me?”

“Of course, of course,” Mrs. Weasley smiled, tending to the kettle with her wand and squinting at the oversized clock to Hermione’s left. “I just didn’t realise the time! In fact, Percy is the only one awake. Will you be a dear and rouse Ronald?” (at this Hermione flushed and crouched to release Crookshanks from his travelling case.) “His door is on the top floor; you’ll recognise it from the Cannons sign.”

“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” she nodded, fumbling with the latch. A fluffy, ginger body squirmed out the open cage and ran headlong into the living room to explore. Hermione eyed her trunk. “Erm, Mrs. Weasley- where shall I put my things?”

“Ron can cart them up to Ginny’s room for you once he’s awake, and between the two of you, you should be able to wake her,” she answered, and began stirring in the opposite direction. Hermione walked through the living room towards the staircase, admiring the house as she went.

On a small, rickety sideboard sat dozens of picture frames: some wooden, others metal, some magical but others muggle-made. Each was a different size, depending on the size of the photograph within; some were engraved with magical writing that flashed captions and dates, others were formed to the shape of the vignette painting within. She reached for a small brass frame that said, Ronald, age 5, with Auntie Muriel. When her fingertip brushed the cool metal, a quiet song began to play from the frame. She tried to shush it, but in the end just left it playing as she hurried up the stairs.

Hermione looked at the doors on each landing in passing. She could only assume the door with the knives embedded in it belonged to Fred and George. Various awards from the older boys graced the walls, and Ron’s lingering inferiority complex began to make a bit more sense. Hermione decided she liked it here; everything about the Burrow was friendly and homey.

At the top landing, she banged a loud tattoo on the door labelled Ronald’s Room in large, orange letters.

“Five more minutes,” came a sleepy groan from within. Hermione eased open the door with a low whine. A bright orange Cannons duvet lay crumpled at the foot of the bed, cast aside in the heat of the August night. She could see two gangly arms sticking out from under the sheet, holding a pillow over Ron’s face. She edged forward and shook Ron’s left foot, which was hanging off the side of the bed exposed. He grunted.

“Sheesh, Mum, go away,” he mumbled. Hermione stifled a laugh, and leaned on the side of the bed. She pulled the pillow away forcefully, and Ron squinted at the sun.

“Muuuuum,” he whined, and then his eyes blinked open. When he locked eyes with Hermione, he sat up straight, screaming, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

Hermione fell off the edge of the bed and Ron took the opportunity to yank the sheets up around his ears, which were turning redder by the second.

“Bloody hell, Hermione! You might have warned me you were coming!” he barked.

“I told you ages ago, remember? You knew I was coming today!” She shouted back, standing up and straightening her skirt.

“Yeah, I- well…” he stuttered, moving beneath his tent of fabric. “There are, well- you shouldn’t go around disturbing a bloke in the morning… I mean…” he trailed off, looking at her feet. She blushed, too.

“I’lljustbedownstairsthen,” she mumbled, backing slowly out of the room. On the other side of the door, she covered her mouth with her hands to suppress a giggle.

She hadn’t even made it down one level when Ron’s door flung open.

“Hermione, wait,” he croaked. His footsteps thudded above her until he reached her landing, straightening his newly-donned tee shirt. “I just had to get dressed.”

“Great. Your mum said we should wake Ginny next.” Hermione started down the stairs with Ron right behind her. When they reached Ginny’ door, Ron stopped her.

“I’ll go first- she’s been known to throw a punch in her sleep.”

Hermione doubted Ginny’s little fists could do much damage, but she let Ron take the lead. Light snores issued from the bed, and Ron stopped in the centre of the room.

“Ginny,” he said loudly. “Ginny, wake up!”

Nothing happened.

Ginny,” he tried a bit louder. “WAKE UP!”

“Oh for goodness' sake,” said Hermione, exasperatedly, and marched forward towards the bed.

“Ginny, wake up- Harry’s here!”

Ginny shot up like she’d been shocked. Her red hair was crumpled from sleep and hanging over her face, and her eyes blinked as she looked around the room in a stupor.

“Hermione,” she mumbled. Ron chuckled.

“I should have tried that one ages ago!” He roared. Hermione tried to suppress a grin as Ginny cottoned on.

“Oh, very funny, you two. I thought I was having a nightmare!” She swung her freckled legs off the bed and stood, glaring at the both of them.

“I’m sorry, but you must admit, it did work,” Hermione replied sheepishly, elbowing Ron in the stomach to stop him laughing.

Ginny opened her mouth, but before she could argue the virtues of Hermione’s methods, Mrs. Weasley’s voice sounded up the stairs.

“Breakfast is ready!”

Hermione thought Ginny’s reputation as a heavy sleeper must have been well-earned if she could sleep through such a loud shout every morning. Fred and George passed them in the hallway on their way downstairs.

“Hello, Hermione,” they said in unison, without a trace of humour. Maybe mornings weren’t their thing, or maybe they’d had a late night. Hermione could smell something funny about them, almost like burnt sugar. She shrugged it off and joined the rest of the family at the breakfast table.

“Hermione, it’s good to see you again!” exclaimed Mr. Weasley. “You can sit here,” he offered, gesturing at an empty plate to his left. Ron and Ginny rolled their eyes, and Molly shook a finger at him.

“Arthur, you leave that poor girl alone. She’s here as a guest, not as your tour guide to muggle idiosyncrasies. Let her eat her breakfast in peace, without bothering her about tellies and such.”

Mr. Weasley looked disheartened and pushed his eggs around with his fork for a minute as the others filled their plates. But as soon as Molly stood to fetch another jar of milk, he leaned towards Hermione and whispered, “Quick, what’s the difference between a cab and a taxi?”

“They’re the same thing,” Hermione whispered back.

“Ah,” Mr. Weasley whispered in understanding, smiling gratefully as he returned to his meal.

Breakfast seemed to reanimate the twins. Though their plates held the largest portions, they finished eating first, and excused themselves to Molly before slipping out the door to the garden. It seemed that Percy’s interest in the Daily Prophet outweighed his hunger, for as soon as he’d closed the paper, he stood to leave the table, without even finishing his sausage.

“Back to work,” he drawled. “There’s a lot to be done if I’m going to finish this report for Mr. Crouch.”

Ron rolled his eyes at Percy’s retreating back.

Ginny beamed at Hermione. “You’ll get to meet Bill and Charlie when they arrive tomorrow!”

“I can’t wait,” Hermione smiled.

“Yeah, they’re much cooler than Percy,” Ron added with a full mouth.

“Ron,” Mrs. Weasley scolded. “I don’t want to hear you talking about your brother that way. Maybe if you applied yourself like he did, you could get a job at the ministry one day!”

“No thanks,” Ron continued. “Having that job has made him an even bigger prat than usual. I mean, it was his birthday yesterday, and all he did was hide in his room like he always does. You nearly had to drag him out to eat a piece of cake!”

Ginny laughed out loud, and Mrs. Weasley fixed her with a stern look.

“Ginny, I want you to help me with the washing up.”

“But Mum-” the youngest Weasley argued.

“Don’t argue, Ginny- I’m letting you go to the World Cup before you’re even allowed to go to Hogsmeade! The least you can do is help out around the house before you leave. Would you rather I keep you home with me while everyone else goes to the match?”

Ginny scowled and crossed her arms, but seemed unwilling to risk it.

“What are we going to do, Ron?” asked Hermione. He looked up from his omelette blankly, holding his fork aloft and chewing slowly.

“How about the grand tour?” she prompted.

“Mmmokay,” he answered thickly. He threw back the last of his pumpkin juice and stood. Hermione carried her dishes to the sink, and Mrs. Weasley’s voice sounded behind her.

“Thank you dear, but Ginny and I will take care of those.” Hermione turned to see Ginny pulling a rude face. Hermione gave her a sympathetic look on her way out the kitchen door.

Outside, in the garden, the morning was clear and promising. Hermione could see a large bench to one side; she noted it would be the perfect place to read her new book on transfiguration. No sooner had she stepped towards it than a small, brown rock moved out of the corner or her eye. Ron shouted, “stupefy!” from behind her. The rock fell over backwards, and that was when Hermione noticed that it wasn’t a rock at all, but a garden gnome.

“Ron!” she shrieked angrily.

“But it was going for your ankle!” Ron argued, incredulous.

“It’s in his nature! He couldn’t help himself, Ron- you didn’t have to stun him! Besides, you’re not supposed to be using magic outside of school!” Hermione looked around nervously, afraid that Mrs. Weasley might come out of the house at any second.

“Mum always lets us use magic when we de-gnome the garden,” Ron laughed.

“De-gnome?” The word escaped Hermione as a horrified squeak as Ron knelt to grab the unconscious gnome by its feet. He straightened and assured her, “it’s not what it sounds like, see?

And with that, he flung the gnome as hard as he could. Hermione watched it arc and fall with the same astonished face, but when the disoriented gnome stood and ran in the opposite direction, she gave a small smile.

“I guess it’s alright, then,” she admitted. Ron looked relieved to avoid an argument, and gestured towards a small archway. As the pair passed under a vine-tangled lattice, with flecks of sunlight dancing on their cheeks and shoulders, Hermione realised she had two days alone with Ron before Harry arrived. Well, not really alone. One was never truly alone in the Weasley household. As if to prove this point, the voices of the twins came from the direction of a small shed to Hermione’s left. As she and Ron approached, Ron called, “Oi- can I play?”

“No,” came two voiced in unison. Ron scowled, but Hermione secretly thanked the twins for excluding him, as she didn’t care to spend her day watching a three-sided match of Quidditch. The twins emerged from the doorway of the stone shed, clutching brooms and a dingy tennis ball, which had been engorged to the size of a quaffle.

“Why don’t you show Hermione the village?” Fred suggested. George nodded, tossing the ball in the air and catching it.

“It’s a muggle village, isn’t it? Is that where you got the tennis ball?” she asked.

George examined the ball and replied, “This old thing? Nah, it’s from Dad’s collection- we’re just borrowing it.” He jerked a thumb behind him and Hermione could see a large fishing net hanging from the ceiling of the shed, stuffed full of various muggle sports balls.

“I’ve seen plenty of Muggle villages. Let’s do something magical,” she told Ron.

“Yeah, Ron, Hermione wants you to show her some magic,” George smirked. Fred elbowed him in the side appreciatively and added, “Yeah, why don’t you show her the old Ronald Bilius Weasley charm?” They laughed as Ron stormed away, with Hermione following awkwardly in his wake, both the colour of beets.

Halfway across the field, Hermione caught up to Ron’s long strides. “Where are we going?” she asked, resisting the urge to mention his middle name.

“The river,” he muttered sourly.

“I left my suit upstairs, should I go get it?”

“I don’t fancy a swim, do you?”

“Not really,” she admitted as the river emerged over the edge of the tall grass. A few trees dotted the bank, and a large rope swing hung lifelessly from an over-reaching branch. Ron scaled the nearest tree while Hermione took in the scene.

“Mad about Scabbers, eh?” Ron said from above. She craned her neck, squinting at his backlit form.

“That’s an understatement,” she replied in a droll voice. He crawled further out onto a branch, and she turned her attention back to the river before continuing.

“I just wish he hadn’t escaped. Harry shouldn’t be with his aunt and uncle right now- he should be with Sirius!”

“I know,” Ron agreed solemnly. Hermione stretched out under the tree and closed her eyes. She lay that way for a few long minutes, enjoying the lapping sounds of the lazy river and the chirping of the birds, evidently annoyed at Ron’s presence in their tree.

Then she heard a scraping sound, and a shriek. She opened her eyes to see Ron falling from directly above her. To stop himself from squashing her, he spread his arms and legs as he fell, and as a result landed in a very awkward position, with leaves falling quietly around them.

“Ron!” she gasped, sounding scandalised, as he sat frozen on his hands and knees in a state of shock. Still straddling her, he squeaked, “spiders.” She rolled her eyes, and the wind carried to her nose the faint smell of Ron. The last time it had been this concentrated was when she hugged him goodbye at the end of term.

It wasn’t a bad odour; it smelled comforting and made a strange warmth flood to her fingers and toes. She had smelled it before in passing, during homework corrections and whilst under the cloak, although the latter was usually mingled with the smell of Harry.

“Erm, Ron,” she said softly. Her eyes darted sideways to his arms, which stood planted on either side of her face like two freckled pillars. He coloured and rolled off of her.

“Sorry- I hate spiders,” he grumbled, as if to excuse his fall. She laughed.

“So I’ve heard.” Her laughter seemed to clear the air, and soon Ron was smiling, too. They sat a few feet away from each other, watching the water flow downstream. Hermione caught sight of a small form on the surface of the water- it was an otter, kicking its legs happily as it floated between the rocks.

“Her name’s Esmerelda,” Ron said suddenly. Hermione looked at him with amusement on her face.

“Ginny named her,” he explained, digging absently into the dirt with a small twig.

“She’s cute,” Hermione noted. “Does she like people?”

“She likes me and Ginny alright, but she doesn’t much like the twins.”

Hermione watched Ron watch Esmerelda, content with the quiet sound of flowing water and the faint breeze carrying that smell her way. She decided that Esmerelda the otter had a pretty good life, here at the Burrow.

“I hope you’ve been having fun while I was off scrubbing your plates like a slave!” came a harassed voice from behind them. Esmerelda started, but quickly regained her composure as she saw the girl approaching. Hermione craned her neck as Ginny came to a stop, standing over the two of them with her hands on her hips.

Ron grinned, and Hermione looked guilty, but neither had a chance to speak before Ginny ploughed on.

“Oh, and Ron, Mum wants to see you for a moment. She has a chore for you, too.” She plopped down in the dirt next to Hermione as Ron grunted.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised, loping off toward the house.

Ginny watched him leave before turning to Hermione.

“Two days,” she said, determinedly. Hermione blinked, puzzled. Ginny sighed in exasperation that Hermione didn’t understand her meaning.

“Until Harry gets here,” she hissed, pushing her hair back nervously.

“Of course,” Hermione murmured. She should have known what direction this conversation was going. As soon as she had learnt Hermione had no romantic interest in Harry, Ginny had been keen to talk about him. Funny enough, she still couldn’t talk to his face.

“I mean, what do I do? We’re going to the Quidditch World Cup! We’re staying in the same tent!”

“I don’t see what that has to do with-“

“I’ll have to talk to him! Why can’t I talk to him, Hermione?”

“I honestly don’t know, Ginny. You’ve got a lot in common. Maybe you could try talking to him about quidditch,” Hermione suggested.

“Do you think he just thinks of me as Ron’s little sister?

“Ginny, listen- Harry’s just a bit thick when it comes to girls. In fact, he’s never really fancied anyone that I know of. The best way to get to know him is by not being so shy around him! How can you expect him to reciprocate your feelings when he can’t even carry on a conversation with you?”

“I know,” Ginny mumbled. “You’re right, Hermione- I need to get his attention.”

“Actually,” Hermione corrected her, “I was thinking you shouldn’t try to get his attention.”

Ginny’s cheeks went pink. “Oh, I see!” She said shrilly, sounding oddly like Mrs. Weasley. “You don’t think I have a snowball’s chance in hell then, do you?”

Hermione tried very hard not to laugh. “That’s not what I meant either. I just mean that you should try coming out of your shell, and don’t worry about Harry. Once you’re comfortable being yourself around him, he’ll see you for who you really are. Why don’t you try dating other boys this year? Maybe he’ll see what he’s missing.”

“But I don’t want to date other boys,” Ginny said somewhat dismally before breaking into a smirk. “That sounds pathetic, doesn’t it?”

Hermione wasn’t sure whether or not to agree with her, so she just smiled along with Ginny. “Are you sure you don’t fancy anyone else?” she prodded.

Ginny bit her lip. “Not off the top of my head, but we’ll see once I’m back in school. This is third year, after all- we can go to Hogsmeade!”

“I’m not used to all this girl talk- it’s quite nice,” Hermione said as she returned to watching Esmerelda floating on her back.

“So when are you going to take your own advice?” Ginny asked suddenly. Hermione looked at her, puzzled.

“What are you on about?”

“Oh, c’mon, Hermione. You could be playing the jealousy card yourself, you know! I daresay you’d be successful- Ron’s the jealous type by nature.”

“Ron?!” Hermione hissed, turning to make sure he wasn’t on his way back from the house. “That is absolutely, positively-“

“-true?” Ginny quipped.

“I don’t remember asking you for advice, Ginny!” Hermione snapped before standing abruptly and storming off towards the house.

-----


Years later, however, when Hermione caught her first whiff of Amortentia, she had to admire Ginny’s shrewdness, for alongside the scent of freshly mown grass and new parchment was that smell- the smell of Ron.

-----


A/N: Many thanks to andharrywokeup and SiriuslyCrack from the SAYS forums for helping me with Arthur! Also, I appreciate any reviews, positive or negative.


http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com