Author’s Note: Thanks to girlyswot
for the fast and efficient beta, kerosinkanister for pre-reading, Anya for
soothing remarks while knitting, and Songbird who demanded Weasleys and got
me writing Ron and Hermione again.
Thanks most of all to J K Rowling for
writing a perfect book.
Moments in Love
Ron woke up, taking his time about it.
The room was quiet and the shadows on the floor had grown long.
He groped around for his watch, a bit battered
and scratched now from the burning treasure in the Lestranges’ vault, but
couldn’t find it. He remembered worrying about bashing it up completely on
the sides of the dark, slimy pipe down to the Chamber of Secrets, and Hermione’s
offer to put it in her bag for safe-keeping.
The bed next to his was rumpled but Harry
was nowhere to be seen, and the other beds hadn’t been slept in. Ron went
to have a shower.
Hermione sat up in bed, wrapping her arms
around her knees and enjoying being in an empty room alone with her thoughts.
Lavender had been moved to St. Mungo’s and Parvati had gone with her. The
other two beds weren’t even made up. After a while, she went to have a shower.
Hermione combed her hair carefully and
dried it with her wand, taking her time about it. She found clothes, freshly
laundered by Fleur, and put them on. Then it occurred to her that Ron wouldn’t
have anything clean to put on, only that filthy, torn top and those old jeans,
no longer particularly tight on him.
She could take him pants and a t-shirt
anyway. As she felt around in the Ron compartment of her beaded bag to locate
them, her hand met something hard. His watch, of course. He’d miss that before
Ron sat on the side of his bed, trying
to get the worst of the dirt and sweat out of his clothes. It was taking forever.
He’d never been all that good at Tergeo. He had a feeling there was another spell he could
be using. Hermione would know. So would his mum, but he couldn’t go and find
either of them wrapped only in the towel he’d found in a pile of clean washing
lying neatly folded on Neville’s bed .
Hermione climbed the stairs to the boys’
bedroom. If Neville, Seamus or Dean answered, she’d just say “I’m here
to give Ron and Harry some clean clothes.” Easy.
There was a knock at the door. “Come in,”
said Ron, hoping it wasn’t Neville.
It wasn’t Neville. “Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” Hermione replied. There was
a new bruise on her cheek, in addition to all the burns, and the faint pink
line crossing the hollow of her throat. The mark from the knife had faded
loads, but he could still see it, clear as day. It made him shudder every
“I brought your watch back, and some clean
clothes,” said Hermione.
Now she was walking across the room towards
him. Ron held up his manky old jeans in a pathetic attempt to hide himself.
Idiot. She’d seen him without a shirt before, the time she patched him up
after he got splinched. It made no difference; the towel around his waist
felt about as small as a facecloth.
“Can I help you with that?”
Sitting down next to him, Hermione gave
no sign of noticing his near-nakedness. After months dancing around each other
in the confined space of the tent, she was failing to spot that they were
finally alone, thanks to the total absence of a speccy git in one of the other
beds. Ron felt a bit awkward at his state of undress, but not so much he wanted
her to go anywhere he wasn’t.
Like she had the powers of a house elf
or something, a couple of seconds rummaging in the depths of her sparkly bag
brought forth a pristine white t-shirt. A few more produced … of course ...
a pair of pants. He’d never get used to that.
“Fleur washed and ironed them.” There was
some kind of point underlying that remark, but Ron didn’t get it, whatever
“Thanks,” he said again. “For bringing
them, I mean.”
Ron dropped the jeans, making a grab for
the clean garments Hermione was holding out to him, but fumbled the save.
He was left with nothing to cover his bare chest except a pair of balled-up
socks. Leaning over to pick the t-shirt up off the floor, he began to pull
it over his head, doing his best not to dislodge the towel. “Er—?”
“Oh, right! Sorry.” Finally.
Hermione snatched up the jeans from where
they were lying at his feet, hurried over to the window, and stood with her
back to him. She moved her wand soundlessly over the fabric, which quickly
turned from greyish brown to faded blue. As his head emerged from the t-shirt,
Ron noticed the deepening blush creeping up the back of Hermione’s neck. “Are
you decent yet?” she called.
He must have heard her say that fifty times
over the last few months. Maybe it was just in his imagination that she sounded
“Um, yeah.” Well, he was,
more or less, now he had his pants on, and Neville’s towel still in service
round his waist. She’d seen his disgusting, pale, hairy, knobbly knees enough
times—if she couldn’t cope with the sight of them by now, there was
no hope. “Chuck those jeans over.” Hermione moved back across the room with
“Here you go.” She held them out
to him, then started talking very fast. “I think they’re as clean as they’re
going to get, they need soap and hot water really, well, it’s not surprising
“Sit back down,” he said, pulling the jeans
on and leaning back to do them up. She perched on the very edge of the bed,
almost hugging the post at the far end. Not for the first time, Ron appreciated
that an embarrassed Hermione was a subtly different shade to a yelling one.
The sight was a treat, because rarer, and less predictable. This time, he
hadn’t even made it happen on purpose. For a moment, he felt sorry for her,
before being distracted by the fact that not only had her cheeks grown
pinker but also her lips.
He realised he was staring and felt bad
again. Come to think of it, maybe sitting on the bed was giving her the wrong
idea. Hermione was really good at a lot of things. Getting the wrong idea,
at least where he was concerned, was one of them. He got to his feet. “Shall
we go downstairs and find the others?” he suggested, holding out his hand.
“In a minute, I mean?”
She took the hand, playing along, as though
she needed his help standing up. “In a minute, yes.”
It felt good to be holding Hermione’s hand,
so Ron kept on doing it. Also, it was keeping his mind off the whole Fred
being dead thing, and Percy looking like he wished it had been him instead,
and Dad crying, which Ron hadn’t realised until last night was something he’d
hoped he would never, ever see, and…
Ron looked at the really quite small hand
in his and worked out he might be crushing it a little. He went to drop it
but Hermione was moving closer, throwing her arms around him and hugging him
“Oh, Ron,” she said. “I wish there was
something …” She stopped mid-sentence, mouth slightly open. He had a very
good view because she was still holding onto him and looking up and around
the room, as though she were searching for the right words in the dusty rafters
of the Gryffindor dormitory.
“It’s OK,” he said, wriggling a bit to
get her to loosen her grip. She seemed to realise what he meant, releasing
her hold on his upper arms and lifting her own until they were hooked comfortably
around his neck. She snuggled closer, with little sighs and murmurings, and
he dropped his head and rested it, eyes shut, in her sweet-smelling hair.
He could stay like this for a long time. He wouldn’t
have to go downstairs into the noisy, choking dust, the splintered
wood and rubble of the shattered castle.
He moved his hands up and down Hermione’s
back, before sliding one of them into her hair, cradling the back of her head.
She tilted it back, letting him take the weight, gazing upwards again, into
his eyes this time. She was waiting, he realised. Waiting for him for once.
Taking her time, not trying to read everything in advance and letting him
lead, like she had all those months ago on the dance floor at Bill’s wedding.
He’d nearly kissed her that night. Krum had been looking over and Ron had
wanted him to see.
In that moment, everything he’d read in
Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches—not treating a woman like a Quaffle to be passed
back and forth between players, or like a Bludger to be batted into the face
of an opponent, or like a Golden Snitch to be won or lost at the end of a
game—flew out of his head.
He’d bottled it at the last possible second,
backing off in recognition of the glare Hermione was shooting at him, the
all-too-familiar one that said ‘I know what you’re up to, Ron Weasley’.
Later that night, at Grimmauld Place, Hermione
had challenged him with it. Still shaken from the attack at the wedding and
its aftermath, he hadn’t denied it. They’d had a row, hissing at each other
in the darkness while Harry slept a few feet away. Then, into one of the taut
silences, Hermione had whispered, “I do want you to kiss me one day, Ron.”
In the darkness and silence following her
words, he actually felt a bolt go through him. Nothing he’d felt before even
came close. Searching to identify it, to name it, at first he related it to
the burn of lips against his cheek, to fleeting moments of shared body warmth,
an arm around a shoulder, the whisper of wild and tumbled hair beneath his
touch. After all, he had nothing else to compare it to.
Later that night, a hand in his, freely
offered, a steady current sustaining them both, taught him otherwise. Soon,
he came to associate it with bluebell flames, the healing warmth of dittany
on his arm. Away from her at Christmas, the sound of her voice and the light
from the Deluminator going into him was an echo of it. Last night, when she’d
thrown down the Basilisk fangs and snogged him as though their lives depended
on it, he’d let it blaze up, fill him, warm him through, drive out fear.
“When?” he’d asked her all those months
“When it’s about you and me, and nothing
She was so unbelievably smart. How could
she always be so right about everything?
He lowered his head, and kissed her.