Luck for the New Year
Author’s Note: I’d like to say thank you to my wonderful beta-readers, Kellie, Zsenya, and Lissanne for all of their help.
Disclaimer: As always, everything belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Ron Weasley shifted in his bed for what felt like the hundredth time, trying desperately to fall asleep. Uncertain if it was the inability to find a comfortable sleeping position or the barrage of thoughts that kept flooding his mind, Ron sighed deeply before tearing off the covers and planting his feet down on the cold, hard floor of Grimmauld Place. Quietly, so as not to wake Harry, Ron walked across their bedroom, out into the hall, and down the stairs.
He was expecting the kitchen to be dark and deserted, but as he walked down the stairs he was shocked to see that light was coming from that room. As he came closer, he saw Hermione sitting at the table in her dressing gown with a mug in her hand, staring absently at its contents.
For a moment, Ron stood and stared. Hermione looked so peaceful, sitting at the table in her white dressing grown, her bushy hair uncontrollably sticking out in various directions. He was struck by an urge to walk over to her and smooth her hair, but he shook his head, wondering where the thought had come from. They were happening more and more often lately, and it scared him.
Deciding that staring at Hermione was no longer a wise idea, quietly he said, “Hey.”
Hermione looked up quickly, startled. “Wh… What are you doing down here, Ron?”
“Same thing you are, I reckon. Not able to sleep?”
Nodding her head, Hermione responded, “I was lying there for so long that I finally just gave up on sleeping. I even tried a little light reading, but I couldn’t concentrate on that.”
Ron shook his head. He didn’t even want to imagine what she’d been trying to read that she considered light reading. Probably some horribly boring book that was 700 pages long and weighed at least a ton.
Changing the subject, he asked, “What are you drinking?”
“Hot chocolate,” Hermione said. “Do you want some?”
“Sure. Thanks. It must be good.”
“Why do you say that?” Hermione questioned, pouring some milk into the pot on the stove.
“You were staring at it so intently when I came in,” Ron said.
”Oh, I was just thinking…” Hermione tailed off as she handed Ron the mug.
“Nothing,” Hermione said in a slightly defensive tone.
Not in the mood to start the New Year in yet another row with Hermione, Ron decided to let the subject drop. Bringing his mug to his lips, Ron sipped some of the hot chocolate and instantly felt it begin to warm and calm him. They sat in silence for a few minutes, and just as Ron had finished his drink and was about to head upstairs, Hermione stopped him with her voice.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?”
Ron shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I have a lot on my mind. You?”
Hermione hesitated a moment before her words all came out in a rush. “I have so many things on my mind right now that I can’t even focus on one thing. I need to get my thoughts better organized. My mind keeps shifting to all of these different things.”
Only Hermione would worry about getting her thoughts more efficiently organized, Ron thought with a chuckle. “So what you need is a thought planner. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the next gift-giving occasion.”
It only took a moment for Hermione to realize the meaning behind his comment and narrowing her eyes, she retorted, “Those homework planners will do you and Harry a world of good. If you must know, yours and Harry’s lack of discipline when it comes to homework and the O.W.L.s. is one of my major concerns.”
“Oh come on, Hermione, we’ll be fine. That’s why we have you!” Ron replied.
“Well, I can’t take the O.W.L.s. for you, can I? What if you do so horribly that you can’t even continue at Hogwarts?”
“Hermione,” Ron calmly reasoned, “They aren’t going to expel someone from Hogwarts for their O.W.L. scores.”
“Well, maybe not. But they are extremely important for your future. They determine what classes you can take, which will affect what jobs…”
”I know how important they are,” Ron interrupted. “Please tell me worrying about how Harry and I, or even you, are going to do on the O.W.L.s. isn’t what is keeping you up. Those tests are months away and not worth losing sleep over.”
“Not worth losing sleep over?” Hermione said, clearly scandalized.
“No, they’re not. Now tell me what’s really on your mind,” Ron asked, scooting his chair a little closer.
“Well…” Hermione started and then stopped.
”Well, what?” Ron pressed.
“I told you, Ron. There are so many things that I don’t even know where to begin.”
”You pick one, if you think it’s so easy,” Hermione snapped.
“FINE!” Ron shouted, getting more and more frustrated by the conversation. “I’m worried about my family, all right? Everything with Percy being such a git, then with my dad being attacked…”
Hermione’s expression softened, and she took hold of Ron’s hand. “Oh, Ron! Of course you are worried about all of that. It’s horrible the way Percy is behaving, and your father’s attack was extremely scary. I’m worried about your family and everyone else’s safety too.”
Startled but comforted by her gesture, Ron squeezed her hand and whispered, “I just wonder if things can ever be the same again.”
“I think the same thing about Hogwarts as well. Everything that Professor Umbridge is doing is turning Hogwarts into this horrible place where people don’t know who to trust and where we are learning little that will prepare us to fight. That woman is taking everything that I love about Hogwarts and destroying it,” Hermione stated with a slight hitch in her voice.
Ron briefly thought about Harry’s detentions with Professor Umbridge, but decided against reminding Hermione when he realized it would only make her worry even more. Instead he said, “Well, the D.A. classes should help prepare us to fight You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. At least we are doing something about it and not just sitting around while Professor Umbridge ruins everything.”
“I know, but I hate that in order to do what is right, we have to sneak around and break all kinds of rules. Everything about Hogwarts is different this year. The professors, Hagrid, Harry, Quidditch…” Hermione sniffled.
At the mention of Quidditch, Ron felt an awful sinking feeling in his stomach. Sighing, he said, “I should never have tried out for the Quidditch team.”
“Ron, don’t you dare let those Slytherins with their stupid song get to you,” Hermione said emphatically, squeezing his hand.
At her action, Ron felt a shiver go up his spine. He looked down, surprised to discover that their hands were still intertwined. He squeezed back, not quite sure what else to do. Finally, he responded, “Easier said than done. Especially with everyone in my family being such naturals.”
“Ron, you’re being too hard on yourself. You are good. You are getting better. I know your best is yet to come.”
Hermione said this with so much conviction that Ron felt for a moment that she might actually be right. Knowing that Hermione wasn’t exactly a Quidditch expert and how crummy he’d played, reality soon set in though. However, it made him feel strangely better that at least Hermione believed in him.
Looking down at their hands again, Ron couldn’t help but wonder why it didn’t feel strange to be up in the middle of the night in his pyjamas holding Hermione’s hand. In fact, it felt far from strange. Somehow, it felt oddly comforting and yet exhilarating at the same time. Did Harry feel this comfortable with Cho? Probably not, Ron decided. In fact they always seemed really nervous and anxious around each other. Then again, why should he feel anything but comfortable around Hermione? They were friends, best friends, but just friends.
As these thoughts swirled around in his head, he was surprised to feel Hermione’s head move to rest on his shoulder. Momentarily frozen, Ron finally decided to put his arm around her, and was further amazed when she nestled her head further into the crook of his arm. If Ron was honest with himself, he knew what he felt towards Hermione was beginning to move beyond friendship. The problem was that he wasn’t quite sure what to do about his feelings, or how she felt in return. Between their arguments, her correspondence with Viktor Krum, and her comment about his perfume gift, he figured she probably just saw him as a friend. But then there were these little moments, like now, where he couldn’t help but wonder.
Sighing deeply, Ron found himself beginning to slowly and lightly allow his fingers to play with her tangled curls. In response, Hermione snuggled even further into him and brought one hand up to rest on his chest. With that touch, Ron’s heart began to hammer beneath his hand-me-down pyjamas. He had no idea what to do next. Was this all just two friends comforting each other, or was this perhaps the opportunity to make them more than that? He had no clue. And if this was that opportunity, how was he was supposed to proceed? He couldn’t just kiss her, could he? And if he did, and she didn’t want him to, would that totally change everything? And what if she did want him to? Were they ready for all of the ways that it would change things? For a moment, Ron wondered how Harry would handle the situation. Then he realized his best mate didn’t have the answers either as Cho spent most of her time crying around him.
Ron was startled out of his thoughts by Hermione quietly saying his name.
“Yeah?” Ron answered, surprised at how soft his voice sounded.
“Usually I love New Year’s. It’s this wonderful time to look back at all of the things you’ve accomplished in the past year, and also an opportunity to plan and be full of hope for all of the things the New Year will bring. But this year, I don’t think I’m very optimistic about the New Year. I’m more afraid of what it may bring,” Hermione whispered.
“Me too. Like you said though, New Year’s is about being full of hope. So, we have to try and be hopeful that our luck will change and things will get better and not worse,” Ron responded, trying to be reassuring.
He felt Hermione smile into his shoulder as she replied, “Muggles usually ring in the New Year with a kiss. It’s supposed to bring good luck.” Ron wasn’t sure what to say, and in his silence Hermione added, “Silly, isn’t it?”
Finally finding his voice, Ron quietly said, “I don’t know. We could probably use all the good luck we can muster right now.”
Looking up at him, Hermione seemed to be searching his eyes as she questioned, “Yeah?”
”Yeah,” Ron agreed, while his free hand slowly began to find its way to her cheek.
At his touch, Hermione’s eyes closed and she moved even closer to him. Ron’s heart was pounding even harder now, and he was finding it more and more difficult to breathe. Still not sure how to proceed, he said, “Hermione?”
She opened her eyes and quietly stated, “For luck…” Their eyes locked as they moved closer and closer. Just before their lips touched, Ron huskily added, “For luck.”
Then their lips brushed lightly and uncertainly against each other. Ron felt a jolt of electricity shoot through his body and he pressed his lips more firmly against hers. He had never imagined that kissing Hermione would feel this good, this natural. Tentatively he encircled his hands around her waist and felt her bring her arms up and around his neck, pulling him closer. Kissing her more confidently, he marveled at how amazing Hermione felt in his arms. Somehow, she was both soft and strong at the same time. As her hands wove lightly into his hair, Ron couldn’t contain his sigh.
Without warning, Hermione pulled her lips away, gasping for breath. Still wrapped in each other’s arms, Ron suddenly felt awkward and unsure about what to do or say next. It didn’t make sense. How could things have felt so right moments before and now feel so uncomfortable?
As the silence grew longer, Ron became more and more self-conscious and felt his face heat up hotter with each painful moment. Sneaking a glace at Hermione, her face made the uncertainty and panic she was feeling evident. Ron sighed, and realized that while their kiss had been incredible and beyond anything he ever could have conceived, neither of them was ready to cross that line between friends and more. Confident it would happen, if and when they were ready, Ron joked, “Well, I suppose we’ll get a year full of luck now.”
With crimson cheeks, Hermione’s eyes widened, but she laughed and added, “Maybe even two years of luck.”
Ron snorted, “Possibly, but I don’t know that I want to risk that. What if we just really need a lot of luck this year, and we use it all up?”
As Hermione untangled herself from Ron’s arms, she replied with a twinkle in her eye, “Well, depending on how this year goes, I suppose we’ll just have to make sure to spend New Year’s together next year as well.”
Smirking, Ron stood up. “Coming?” he asked.
“No, I’ve still got some of my hot chocolate left to drink.”
“Okay. Well…” Unsure how to properly say goodnight, Ron stood uncertainly. Should he hug her, kiss her, shake her hand, wave? None of those seemed right. Finally, Ron reached his hand up and lightly patted Hermione on the shoulder saying, “Goodnight, mate.”
Hermione looked at him with a puzzled expression, before shaking her head, smiling, and responding, “Goodnight, Ron.”
As Ron made his way back up the stairs to bed, he knew that the year ahead would be full of challenges and changes. Somehow, though, with Harry and Hermione by his side, he knew they’d come out all right in the end. And while nothing really had officially changed tonight, it had shown him that the future was wide open with possibilities for him and Hermione in the years to come.
With these content and happy thoughts running through his mind, Ron wandered back into his room, ready to finally fall asleep and hopeful for what the New Year would bring.