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by Resonant

A sequel to Transfigurations

for Jood on her birthday

By the time Hermione asked Ron to come redo her windows, he'd had so much practice that he could unbrick a window without even looking at it. "Pretty in here," he said as he worked, looking round at the things in her sitting room -- her papers and books in neat piles, the duelling wands she'd made hanging on the wall over her desk to remind her what she could do if she only worked hard enough. "I'd know right away it was yours."

Even after all these weeks, she could still feel herself blushing when he said things like that. He smiled as if he'd noticed too, and then he nodded at the hinged glass bookcase door that tended to swing open unless she resorted to something as inelegant as a contrudo charm perpetually pushing it back inward. "Get that while I'm up here."

He didn't even point a wand at it, just fished a screwdriver out of the ever-present dragonhide backpack and used it to lever the pin out of the hinge. "All but crumbled away," he said, brushing rusty powder off the corroded metal. Hermione had given up scolding herself for staring at his hands. "Pretty soon it would have broken down to nothing at all."

"It wasn't a mine that did it?" she said tentatively.

"No." He patted the wooden bookcase affectionately, as one would touch a faithful old dog. "Time. Nothing but time."

When they were at school, it had made her angry the way Ron had seemed to resent her hard-won competence. If he wasn't willing to work at it the way she did, he could have let her use her skills for the three of them without mocking her.

Now that he'd found his own talent, she understood that her frantic work and his mockery had both been symptoms of the same fear: that they'd be useless, not good enough. That something dreadful would happen because they didn't know enough to stop it.

Somebody ought to have helped us, she thought, watching him neatly transfigure a Biro into a hinge pin. We were only children. We oughtn't to have had to figure it out all by ourselves.

"There you are," he said, opening and closing the door with an easy push. "Little chimera's-foot oil and it'll be good as new. Anything else want fixing?"

She looked at his tanned and freckled hand spanning the back of her desk chair, his sleeve rolled up to show the muscles of his forearms. Would she be sorrier if she did or if she didn't?

"Hermione," he said, and made the decision for her, taking her face in his two big hands and kissing her softly, as though he knew she was already a little bit broken.

He was so gentle at first, so slow and careful. His fingers on her skin made her a three-dimensional creature again, with an inside and an outside that connected to one another; his skin was delicious to her fingers the way a ripe peach would be delicious to her tongue after a long, hungry winter.

For a long time they touched one another slowly, breathlessly, resisting the depths of arousal to linger in the shallows. And then he raised his head to look at her in the dim light that got through the bedcurtains and an incredulous grin split his face, and he rolled over and pinned her with his body. "It's you," he said.

"Only me," she agreed, tracing with her fingers the hollows of his shoulder and arm muscles.

"No," he said, pressing his face into her hair and inhaling deeply. "It's you. Finally."

Twilight deepened outside as she lay with her head in his shoulder and his fingers toying with her hair. The charm she'd used on the bricked-in window had shown the stars and the clouds, but not the swallows or the bats or the blowing petals of the apple tree. It was entirely different.

"That dark spot on your wall been there long?" Ron's skin vibrated under her cheek.

She looked where he was pointing. "I don't know," she said. "I never noticed."

"Probably means there's moisture getting in someplace," he said. "I'll take care of that for you in a bit."

"I've seen spots like that in the library too."

"Yeah," he said. "Been a long time since the old place had someone to look after it. Lot of work wants doing."

She turned her head to kiss his freckled shoulder. "Yes," she said. "Good job this time you decided to stay and fix it."

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July 6, 2005