Strawberry Jam

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Story Notes:
“Please pass the jam.”

Ron looked up from his plate when he heard the request. He exchanged a look with Harry and made a face when he saw Harry’s confused expression. All morning, Hermione had been cool and sharp. Several times he’d felt as if he were back at Hogwarts being scolded for not eating his breakfast or revising for class.

When Hermione arched a brow and her lips made this pinched looking scowl, he hurriedly past her the bottle of jam, letting his fingers linger on hers briefly. She pulled away quickly and started spreading jam on her croissant. Ron frowned and looked again at Harry. Bloody hell! If Harry was supposed to be the sensitive and emotional one of the two of them, why did he have this utterly clueless look on his face any time Hermione got snippy?

“What the fuck?” Ron cringed as he voiced his thoughts, preparing himself for a full-on attack. He was twenty-six years old and still hadn’t learned the art of thinking before speaking. You’d have thought eight years as part of a triad with his two best friends plus years before that as just friends would have resulted in him being a master at such things, especially when both Harry and Hermione were moody, complicated, and quite a handful at times.

“Language, Ronald,” Hermione snapped as she kept her attention on the Daily Prophet and nibbled her croissant.

Ronald. If he’d had any doubts that she wasn’t annoyed for some reason, they’d been destroyed now as she only used Ronald when she was in a fit or occasionally when they were naked and playing around. They certainly weren’t naked or playing now so he was he had to figure out why she’d be upset.

She’d just gotten home from a business trip that had taken her to the continent for a week without the ability to Apparate home at night due to meetings and shite. She’d been able to use the floo every night but it hadn’t been the same, which meant he and Harry had been cranky for a week. They always got cranky when Hermione was gone or when Harry was gone and he imagined, or hoped, at least, that they got cranky when he was gone overnight. They tried to avoid that happening as often as possible but sometimes it was just unavoidable. They dealt as it was a bit silly to get restless and emotionally fucked up just because one of them wasn’t around for sleeping, but it was worse when she was gone.

They’d spent the night making up for the lost week, shagging more than they had in months. Despite there being three of them sharing a bed, their sex life wasn’t some sordid wicked type of thing that would even make it into the Muggle magazines he’d scanned when they’d visited a store in Camden that sold very naughty things. Oh, they had moments, of course. In the early years, they were shagging as often as possible, trying out new things, and the nights with just sleeping were far fewer than those with sex. They were older now, though, and sleeping snuggled together was just as bloody amazing as shagging until they were exhausted, if not more so. They still made love quite a bit but last night had certainly been more than usual.

When they’d gone to sleep, with Hermione between them where she belonged, he had thought everything was okay. She’d seemed fine and had been sated and smiling. It had been a surprise to wake up and find her acting this way, particularly when it wasn’t anywhere near that time of the month for her. He picked up the jam and looked at Harry, who was completely useless when it came to this sort of thing.

“I like my fucking language,” he finally said in a defiant way that he knew, from experience, would drive her mad. If she got irritated enough, she’d stop having that cold control over things and would slip up so they’d know what the fuck they’d done this time.

“Ron,” Harry warned in a ‘please, don’t start a fight because I’m a whiny arse who doesn’t like arguments like this’ tone.

“She started it, Harry,” Ron defended as he completely forgot that he was a mature man of twenty-five and not a silly kid of fifteen.

“Of course I did. It’s always my fault, isn’t it?” Hermione snapped out as she got a knife and ripped open a new croissant in a way that made Ron glad she didn’t believe in physical confrontation.

“Hermione, what’s wrong?” Harry asked in that annoying tone that Ron could never seem to manage himself. It usually worked on Hermione because neither of them wanted to upset Harry unless he fucked up and then they both made sure he knew what he’d done.

“Nothing’s wrong,” she said in a voice that contradicted her words.

“Liar,” Ron challenged with a smirk that normally made her eyes flash and sometimes made her growl.

“Fuck you, Ron!” she growled, which caused a slight feeling of triumphant that didn’t last long once he saw that she was really upset. “Oh, wait, I suppose that’s Harry’s job, isn’t it?”

There was a moment of silence as he and Harry exchanged another ‘what the fuck?’ look before Harry cleared his throat and put down his toast. “Actually, as you well know, he tends to be the one fucking me. Now what is this about, Hermione? What have we done?”

Great. Trust Harry to admit guilt before they even knew what Hermione was upset about. Ron was again struck by how bloody ridiculous it was that people considered him emotionally inadequate and heralded Harry as some sensitive emotional bloke because, really, Harry was just scared of confrontation when it came to those he loved and he had a deep fear of losing people that caused him to try very hard to avoid any sort of arguing.

Ron might be blunt and have the inability to think about things very well before he just started talking, but that didn’t mean he was some insensitive prat. With Harry and Hermione, he was pretty aware of what made them both mad, what they were like, and the different moods they experienced.

“Nothing,” Hermione said tightly as her lips curved into a firm, stubborn ‘I’m not saying another word so there’ scowl that he’d seen a handful of times during the years. Well, the stubborn part he saw all the time but it wasn’t usually accompanied by such a mood, so he was left trying to figure out what had caused this and what they’d done.

He watched her pick up the jar of jam and get a spoonful out that she spread over the croissant. Some of the sticky strawberry jam got on her fingers, which he found somewhat distracting in his quest to figure out what she was annoyed about this time. When she ignored the jam on her fingers instead of licking it away, he realized this was about sex somehow.

Anytime she got irritated about something intimate, she went out of her way to be as asexual as possible, not that Harry ever seemed to notice. Harry would get aroused watching her read a book wearing a baggy jumper and trousers two sizes too big so it was rarely noticeable to him.

“Was the sex bad?” he asked bluntly, not knowing what else it could be about. Ron ran his hand through his shaggy hair, making a mental note that he needed a haircut that he’d probably forget just like he had the other six he’d made, and sighed. “We didn’t---we didn’t hurt you, did we?”

“Last night was perfectly adequate,” Hermione said coolly, though her cheeks flushed and her gaze drifted over him and Harry in a way that made him think ‘perfectly adequate’ was female cranky code word for bloody fucking amazing.

If it wasn’t last night and she’d been gone a week---Oh. He shifted in his chair and gave Harry a look. Harry seemed to understand, thank the fuck. Harry blinked and pushed his glasses up before he took a huge bite of toast, the coward. He could bloody well face Voldemort and Death Eaters but he couldn’t face Hermione in a snit. Typical. Ron shifted again and met Hermione’s accusing gaze.

“It was a week and we’re blokes,” he reminded her.

“So it’s excusable because you’re men and I wasn’t here for a week?” She slammed the jar of jelly down and glared at them.

“Hermione, we didn’t know you’d not want us to,” Harry spoke up finally, looking rather pathetically confused in a way that Ron found quite adorable.

“We’ve shagged when Harry wasn’t with us before and I know you and Harry have when I’ve not been there. Besides, Harry and I have been together without you before, too,” Ron said before she could make it seem like they’d cheated on her with each other or something, not that he knew how that would work but Hermione could sometimes twist things into oddly making sense.

“Yes, I know,” she replied in a dismissive way before she sighed and shook her head. “This is different, though.”

“How?” Harry asked as he looked to Ron for the answers he didn’t have.

“Are you, I mean, did your schedule change?” Ron asked in a hesitant way, usually avoiding any and all talk about that monthly curse that made him very glad he was a bloke.

“Why is it always menstruation when I get emotional?” She glared at him before she made a face. “Sorry. I’m just testy this morning. I realized you two had been together while I was gone and I was jealous, I guess. We’re not usually apart that long and it seemed like maybe you were happy when I wasn’t here so I wondered if you didn’t want---“

“Bloody fuck, woman,” Ron interrupted as he gaped at her. “You can’t really have thought we’d decided we didn’t need you. That’s it. No more going away for you because it apparently makes you stupid.”

“I’m not stupid,” she told him sharply.

“Well, actually, the idea that we’d ever not want you is sort of stupid, Hermione,” Harry said with a crooked smile. “I mean, we need you. Without you, we’re not us, you know?”

“And us is what we have to be for anything in this fucking world to make sense or be happy,” Ron added as he nudged her foot beneath the table. “Who would we be without you?”

“Language,” she warned before she looked at them. She studied for several minute and finally smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I got so upset. I was lying there this morning and thinking and, well, that’s never a good thing, is it?”

“Nope,” Ron said with a smile. “Thinking is bad for you.”

“Very bad,” Harry agreed seriously as he smiled hesitantly, still not completely sure that the crisis was diverted.

“I suppose I’ll have to stop thinking, then,” she decided as she slowly smiled.

Ron relaxed when he realized she was okay, though he was a bit concerned about her getting upset over something that had happened many times over the last several years. She’d also been moodier than usual before she’d gone, but he’d figured it was because she wasn’t fond of traveling. Maybe she wasn’t getting enough sleep or wasn’t eating enough. His worry was pushed to the back of his mind when she raised her hand and licked the strawberry jam off her fingers. Harry reached for her hand and took over for her, his tongue lapping at the jam as she gave Ron a wicked smile and moved her foot up his leg.

He smirked as he caught her foot and shifted so that the heel was pressed against him. “Thinking is very bad for you,” he told her seriously before he stood up and headed around to the other side of the table. Breakfast was over, it seemed, which meant it was time for dessert. God, he loved dessert, especially when it was jam covered Hermione.

The End