The Sugar Quill
Author: DeeDee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Safe  Chapter: Default
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SAFE

DH missing moment



"Family safe, do not reply, we are being watched."

Hermione exhaled slowly as Arthur Weasley's Patronus vanished into delicate wisps, partly from relief that the other Weasleys were safe, and partly to calm herself. Exhaustion and anxiety seemed to hang on her from her eyelids to her feet, and she wanted nothing more at that moment than to curl up and close her eyes. She wanted her mother, but banished that thought immediately. Her parents were safe, unaware that they even had a daughter. Family safe. That's what mattered.

Harry was silent, obviously still troubled by his scar, but Ron made a sound of relief and fell to the sofa, raising a small cloud of dust. Hermione's eyes found his, and Harry was forgotten. She sat beside Ron, sliding an arm through his and gripping it with both hands.

"They're all right!" she murmured. "They're all right!" She imagined Mrs. Weasley gathering her children - Fred and George very much against their will - into a tight embrace.

Ron gave a short, tired laugh and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. Hermione was vaguely aware that he and Harry exchanged a few words, but she was hardly listening. She felt so secure here, in spite of everything. Voldemort, the wedding... it all seemed very distant when Ron held her this way.

She lifted her head slightly. "I don't want to be on my own. Could we use the sleeping bags I've brought and camp in here tonight?"

When she was much younger, her father would prop up sheets all over the living room whenever it stormed. She and her parents would camp there, she huddling close to them as thunder shook the house. She always woke up to see the sunlight streaming brightly through the white sheets, as if the storm were something she had dreamed. How much she wished that this were all a dream.

"Yeah, that's a good idea," said Ron.

Harry seemed to have no objection either, and Hermione watched as he went off to prepare for bed. It appeared that his scar was no longer hurting.

Another wave of exhaustion rolled through her, and she blinked her eyes heavily. With regret, she separated herself from Ron and reached for her bag, rummaging around for her toothbrush and something to change into.

As if he read her mind, Ron touched the sleeve of her dress. "You looked really pretty today," he said.

Hermione felt herself go scarlet, but said only, "Thanks." She looked up at him and smiled. "You looked nice yourself." It never failed to delight her when Ron's face colored to match his hair. "Here's your toothbrush," she said. "Harry will be wanting his, too, I guess - be right back!"

Grimmauld Place shouldn't be this quiet. There should be raised voices downstairs, the twins laughing, Ginny chasing Crookshanks down the hall. Even the horrid Mrs. Black in her covered portrait was silent now.

She reached the door and knocked. "Harry? Harry, do you want your toothbrush? I've got it here." There was no reply for a moment, and Hermione leaned her ear against the door. She jumped back quickly when she heard him turning the knob.

"Yeah, great, thanks," he said as he opened the door and reached for his toothbrush.

The skin around his scar was livid, his eyes swollen, his mouth a thin line. It was obvious that his scar had not stopped hurting. "Harry, your--"

"'Night, Hermione," he said, forcing a smile.

"Good night," she murmured as he closed the door softly.

Hermione stood there for a few minutes, hoping he would change his mind and open the door again. What were they there for, if not to help him? He needed someone to watch over him, to make sure he wasn't opening his mind to Voldemort. She realized that she had even raised her hand to knock again.

She returned to Ron to find him spreading a blanket over the sofa. Though the sofa was old and dusty, the pillow lumpy, and the blanket thin and torn, it looked as inviting as her cozy bed in Gryffindor Tower. Ron had already changed into his pajamas.

"Hey," he said, looking over his shoulder. "You can change behind that screen over there if you want. I think I removed the see-through charm."

They grinned at each other. Hermione pulled her pajamas from her bag and stepped behind the screen. She unfastened her dress and smiled at the feel of it sliding down to rumple on the floor.

"I'm worried about Harry," she said as she pulled on her pajama bottoms and reached for the top.

"Is his scar still hurting?" came Ron's voice.

"I think it is, yeah. But he wouldn't tell me so." Hermione picked up her dress from the floor and emerged from behind the screen. "No point putting this back in the bag, is there?" she asked.

"Guess not. Shame, really."

They exchanged another smile, and again Hermione felt the warm comfort of being near him. She knelt on the floor and reached for one of the lumpy pillows.

"I made the sofa for you," said Ron.

Hermione looked up in surprise. "Really?" She didn't know why such a simple gesture should be so astonishing, should mean so much.

"Yeah," he replied. He joined her on the floor and stretched out his long legs. His eyes looked just as tired as hers felt, and she longed to laugh with him and imagine that they were sitting by the fire in the Common Room. She would give anything to be losing a game of chess to him or correcting his homework in the library. But more than those things, she wanted to be close to him.

She stood up and pulled the cushions from the sofa, laying them on the floor close to Ron. At his puzzled expression, she said lightly, "It's supposed to be camping, isn't it?"

Hermione listened to the unnerving quiet of the house for some minutes before curling onto her side to see Ron. Even in the darkness she could see that his eyes were open.

"I'm glad your family's okay," she said. The Weasleys had come to feel like her family as well, but she didn't know how to say this to Ron.

He turned his head. "I can't stop thinking about them."

"Of course you can't!" she replied earnestly.

"What if they need me, Hermione?"

"But we need you," she said in a small voice. "You're helping them right now, just by being here with Harry."

"Maybe, I guess. But you and Harry would get along fine without me."

Hermione narrowed her eyes, even if he couldn't see her. "That isn't true, Ron Weasley, and you know it."

Ron gave a heavy sigh. "At least Harry knows what he's doing. This could all be over soon."

"I hope so," she said. She hoped so, but she didn't think so. Yes, Harry knew what he was doing... Voldemort did, too.

She reached her arm out towards Ron, not to touch him, but to make him feel that much closer. She wanted to say, "I need you. Whatever you do, don't leave me."

They lay in silence, side by side, and Hermione thought Ron had fallen asleep until she felt the tips of his fingers touch hers. She kept her eyes closed and made no sound, though her heart thumped faster and her lips wanted to curve into a smile. It seemed incredible that her entire body could relax just because Ron traced circles on her palm with one finger. Is this the moment? she thought vaguely.

Whatever else happened, even if Snape found them tomorrow, tonight she was safe.
//
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