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That's Not Mistletoe

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"Well?" the redhead asked with an expectant look on his face. Really, didn't she notice? Behind him, his sister tittered. She didn't know why this was about to be funny, but she was sure it was going to be hysterical. Her boyfriend elbowed her in the ribs. She really shouldn't laugh. Her brother tried hard. He really did.

"'Well' what?" Hermione asked in a voice that was a combination of bored and annoyed. She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest and affected an almost disappointed aura.

A look of panic shot across Ron's face for a split second, but he stuck to his plan, brandishing the greenery over his head with a flourish and a theatrical waggle of his eyebrows.

Hermione closed her eyes and sighed again. "Honestly, Ronald. You think that's mistletoe, don't you?"

Immediately, Ron's animated face fell and he began to sputter. "I... yeah... I mean... If it's not, what is it?" He turned around to look for backup and found that both Harry and Ginny were looking just as confused as he was.

"You, too?" Hermione asked, seeing the consternation on the faces of all of her friends. "Honestly, how did any of you get NEWTs in Herbology?" She walked up to Ron and grabbed the sprig he was still clutching. "This," she said, "is holly- notable for its bright red berries. Holly is a wand wood, but it is also used by Muggles and Wizards alike as a Christmas decoration. Mistletoe, or viscum album, is a parisitic plant native to Europe, mostly the British Isle that infects larger trees. It is known for its evergreen leaves and white berries. Its connection to Christmas and the tradition of people kissing underneath it actually started with people using it as a way to repel witches. Also, it's toxic. So."

She stood there with an eyebrow raised as Ron simply gaped at her. He didn't know whether to be impressed that she simply had that much knowledge about Christmas parasites rolling around in her brain, ready to be whipped out whenever needed, or to be angry that she'd just sucked the joy out of what had been meant to simply be a fun little diversion.

With silent looks to each other, Harry and Ginny backed away and out of the situation, and when Hermione saw that she and Ron were alone, she relaxed her expression and approached him, stopping when there was only the tiniest distance between them. Gently, she ran her hand down the side of his neck, her thumb rubbing against his throat.

"Of course," she whispered, looking straight into his eyes, "you never, ever need a silly parasite or any other pretext to kiss me, Ron." Slowly, she leaned into him, her lips pressing against his. His arms wrapped around her, and he gathered her to himself as he deepened the kiss. She may infuriate him sometimes, but Merlin, did he love her! The kiss seemed to go on forever, but when it did finally end, Ron backed away, an annoyed sort of look on his face.

"That was a lot of work for one kiss," he grumbled.

Hermione looked at him with an arched eyebrow. "Be careful, or you'll have to work a lot harder for anything more."

Ron's eyes widened and he gulped. "Yup, got it. Love you, Hermione."

She smiled and hugged him. "I love you, too, Ron."