AN: This is pure movie verse. Anyone who knows PoA the book and movie will notice the difference in the Ron/Hermione relationship. I liked how sweet they seemed in the movie, so I played on that. Anything from the book is irrelevant here although inevitably most of my knowledge comes from that. Anyway, have a nice read! Oh, and I forgot to mention that this was written for Checkmated.com's R/Hr Ficathon.
Hermione waited until dark so no one else would see. She also ignored the voice inside her head asking why anyone would care if indeed they did see. Because it didn't matter, really, if she went to go see her best friend when he was in the hospital.
She sat down as noiselessly as possible next to his bed. The curtains were already shut, so unless Madam Pomfrey came to check on Ron, no one would have to know that Hermione was there. Wasn't that exactly what she wanted?
With a sigh she set her eyes on the figure sleeping in the bed, his face turned towards her. He looked so sweet when he was asleep like that. Hermione herself might not even believe some of the mean things he could do when he looked so innocent. So… like a victim.
They all were victims, she supposed. The events that had been happening lately were starting to poke at the crumbling walls of her belief system. How could she lecture Ron on rules now when they were the reason Sirius had had to escape on the back of Buckbeak? That would be hypocritical, and she wouldn't be able to disdain hypocrites if she became one herself.
Ron moaned quietly and twisted his head to turn away from her, suddenly moving fitfully. Hermione felt tears fill her eyes, and she reached for his hand instinctively. Only this time she actually held on instead of pulling away as soon as she realized what she'd done. Ron shouldn't be having nightmares, none of them should be. They were just children!
The train of thought was outraging her, so she instead concentrated on soothing Ron. She wasn't one to shy away from the truth, but for some reason she'd been shying away from Ron all year. Perhaps even last year, too. She'd had a fleeting thought as she and Harry ran from the werewolf earlier that day. Why could she hold Harry's hand but not Ron's? Every time she thought it, her mind immediately raced to find a new topic. Even now it struggled, but she closed her eyes, and a tear slipped out.
The impossible was possible. She wouldn't necessarily say she had a crush on Ron because, well, that wasn't true. She'd had crushes before, lots of them though no one probably suspected. Crushes were about sighs and hearts and sweetness.
Despite his current state of sleep, Ron was anything but sweet. Well… most of the time. The point was that she didn't sigh about him, and she'd never even considered writing out his name with the decoration of little hearts. The very thought of him sometimes could make her just so… so angry.
But none of that changed the fact that being close to Ron felt wrong… mainly because it felt so right. She wanted intensely to touch him more often. She wanted to be able to rub shoulders with him at the Gryffindor table and not immediately pull away. She wanted to hug him if she felt bad or if she felt happy. She wanted to brush his hair off his forehead when it got in his eyes. She wanted to kiss him on the cheek when he made her so happy she was ready to burst. She wanted…
Hermione shut her eyes even tighter against the wave of emotion that had filled her. That was the problem. This couldn't be a crush, but there was all this want. Want was a word for later, for someone older and more mature, for a woman not a little girl. Maybe she didn't want him in that-that other way yet, but if she knew anything about people, it was that this innocent want of touch could easily get out of control later.
What if she touched him and could never stop? What if she spent the rest of her life yearning to touch his skin because it was so soft and warm and smooth? Because sometimes, if she admitted it to herself, she felt something she shouldn't be feeling down in her belly.
Hormones were all. Hermione had read about hormones, and she understood the concept well. She was growing, and things were out of whack in her body. That was why she was… well, attracted to Ron. For god's sake, they were only thirteen! Well, going on fourteen, but still.
Any relationship that blossomed at fourteen wouldn't last, and if she even maybe thought a little bit about having one with Ron, it would inevitably ruin their oftentimes unstable friendship. Things were so hard already. Why would they get easier if she was allowed to touch him?
But you do have that right, something whispered to Hermione, and that someone made a lot of sense. They were best friends for a long time, and she knew they would be best friends forever. That meant that she could touch him, could visit him at midnight alone, and not have anyone be suspicious. She was just his friend, after all.
Hermione stroked his hand with her thumb when he started to get restless again. A few more tears slipped out of her eyes. Peter Pettigrew was probably on his way to Voldemort right now, and that only meant more pain and nightmares. Nobody wanted to believe it, but it was true. Hermione was never one to shy away from the truth, of course.
Ron gasped and turned his head towards her to reveal his eyes were open. She pulled her hand away immediately and sat back in her chair in fear. What was he going to say? What was he going to think? Oh, she should never have come here in the first place!
"The-the spiders, Hermione," he whispered.
"What? What spiders?" That was the last thing she would have expected him to say.
He hissed almost in pain. "The spiders! They've got the shoes out again."
"The tap dancing shoes," he whispered, voice trembling in unadulterated fear.
"Oh… the spiders," she said, remembering Harry telling her about his nightmares. Well, dancing spiders was better than dreaming about the possible coming apocalypse. "Tell them no."
"They won't listen…" His eyes closed again.
"Yes, they will. Tell them that if they dare put you in those shoes, they'll have Hermione Granger to deal with," she said strongly, suddenly feeling like she was talking about more than spiders. Would she protect Ron with her own life if this came to that? Well… yes. That was a scary thought.
"That might work," he mumbled sleepily, obviously drifting back. "Nobody can get through you, Hermione."
She would also risk her life for Harry, so it didn't necessarily mean anything. Their bond was stronger than that of a normal threesome of friends. None of them were really children, no matter what their bodies said about them.
Hermione stood up, thinking that it was perhaps time to leave. She leaned over Ron's body and studied his face, peaceful once more. Perhaps the threat of Hermione Granger had indeed frightened the spiders away. But that wasn't all that needed to be frightened away, and Hermione had a hard time believing that Voldemort would run screaming from Harry's nightmares if he threatened to sick her on him. But this was Ron, and the dream of spiders made her feel good. He wasn't dreaming about the bad stuff. He was still untouched by it all. Was that really good though?
Hermione hushed her inner voice again. "It doesn't matter," she whispered. "It just matters that I want him to stay like this." She kissed him on the forehead, allowing herself the luxury of lingering. The brief thought of what his lips would feel like on hers flashed through her mind, and she pulled away with a startled gasp.
It wasn't like she hadn't thought about that before, but she'd never thought about it while kissing his skin. The feelings had been intense, racing up her spine and giving her goose bumps. That wasn't right; it couldn't be right. They were just children. Just children.
"It's so incredible, really. Wish I had a godfather rich as hell," Ron was muttering to himself as they walked side by side up to Gryffindor tower.
"If you hadn't waited until the last minute to pack, you could be out there watching him and perhaps having a ride of your own," Hermione said stiffly.
"Yes, I know." Ron glared at her. "You are going to be the perfect mum someday."
"Thank you, Ron. I take that as a compliment."
"Don't. Mums are known for taking away what their child wants most just because they didn't do a meaningless chore."
"Ron!" Hermione looked at him in shock, disbelieving the words dropping from his mouth. "Packing to go home from Hogwarts is nowhere near meaningless. You know that if you don't have all your stuff in your trunk within the next hour that it will just disappear. Would you rather go hunting Hogwarts for your knickers, then?"
Ron was silent for awhile, which meant he begrudgingly agreed with her. Then he muttered, "It'd be worth it, I reckon."
She hit him on the back of the head. "You are impossible."
"Hey, that hurt!"
"That was the intention!"
"I didn't do anything to you," he said as they came upon the Fat Lady. He gave her the password, and Hermione was proud to see that he'd remembered the current one. The Fat Lady had stuck with one password until Sirius Black had escaped with Buckbeak. The whole school was in an uproar about that, and it was hard for Hermione, Ron, and Harry not to burst out with the news that Sirius was, in fact, a good man.
"Go up to your room and pack your things. I'll read a book and wait for you," Hermione said, sitting down in a chair by one of the big windows. The sunlight streamed in on her skin, and she liked the warmth of it.
"I thought you were going to help me?"
"Help you?" Hermione snorted. "And get expelled for going up into the boys dorms?"
"Nobody's here," Ron said quietly.
Hermione looked around the room. This was becoming one of those tense moments between them. It was an innocent enough request, to help him pack, but why did she feel so… girly about it all?
Frustrated more at her own feelings than him, she stood up. "Oh, very well," she snapped, leading the way up the stairs.
Inside the third years dorm everything was neatly packed away except for a few stray papers here and there. Ron opened the curtains to his bed, and she was shocked to see it in complete disarray. "Ronald Weasley!"
Ron winced and backed away from her. "I'm sorry! Do you see why I needed your help? Surely you know some kind of-of spell…"
"This is a disgrace!" she continued.
"Hermione, we don't have time. Besides, not everyone can be as neat and perfect as you." He through the word out as if being her was the most disgusting thing to be on the planet.
Hermione swelled her shoulders and put her hands on her hips. "Excuse me, Ronald, but I hardly believe being neat and organized can be considered a fault in this situation."
"You're always talking to bloody old," he mumbled, picking up a few shirts from the floor and stuffing them in one of his trunks.
"And you are always acting like a child." Hermione went to help him, piling his few schoolbooks together.
They worked together in silence for awhile. When his part of the room was almost halfway clean he collapsed on his bed and threw an arm over his head, groaning. "I can't take anymore. This is too much work!"
"You should have thought of that when everyone else was packing. What were you doing then, if I may ask?"
"I was with bleeding Madam Pomfrey."
Hermione abruptly shut her mouth. Maybe it was just an excuse since he had had a week to clean his room… but she'd seen him wince while walking every so often, so she immediately felt sorry. "I'm sorry, Ron," she said quietly.
Ron rolled to his side and looked down at her. "You are?"
"Yes. I know your leg must still be hurting you."
"Oh. Well…" Ron shrugged. "It's not that bad." He coughed. "Surprised they didn't cut it off, is all."
Hermione ducked her head to hide her smirk. "Yes, I was surprised about that, too."
"I s'pose it's for the better though," he said with a dramatic sigh. "Can't imagine having to get around on one leg."
"Would have been horrid," she agreed.
"You can rest for a bit, too, if you want."
Hermione rolled her eyes, thinking sarcastically about how very gallant he was being. "No thank you. We only have a little while before they take the trunks away."
Ron sighed and sat up on the bed again. "I hate it when you do that. The only person who can make me feel guiltier than you do is my own mum," he complained, sliding to the floor and picking things up again.
Hermione didn't know whether to feel complimented or insulted. Was it a good thing when boys compared you to their mothers? She happened to like Mrs. Weasley, thank you very much, and to be like her was an honor.
Still… it was a little disconcerting to know that Ron was thinking of his mother when he looked at her and she was thinking of kissing his lips. She shuddered at the thought and mentally kicked herself. This was no time to think about that! As a matter of fact, never was the only acceptable time to think that way. Hadn't she been over this enough times with herself?
Ron stopped picking things up and looked at her for a long time. She couldn't help but notice and stopped as well, feeling nervous under his stare. "Did you need something, Ron?" she asked quietly.
Ron looked surprised as if he hadn't even known he was staring at her. "N-no. I was just… thinking. You know, about today and how we're leaving."
"We'll come back next year."
"Yeah, but that's a whole summer away," Ron protested. "I don't know if I wanted to be separated from you guys for a whole summer."
She stiffened slightly at his use of the word 'guys'. Was that how he thought of her? She silenced her mind yet again. Ron was expressing his grief about missing her, and she was nitpicking the words he chose. "I know what you mean," she said. "It's even worse for me. I have to go back to my Muggle parents… Oh, but poor Harry!"
"Yes. I suppose we should both feel good about where we're going when Harry has to go to the bloody Dursleys," Ron said, clenching his fist. "I hate them so much. Why doesn't Dumbledore just let him live with us? Does he not trust my family?"
"Dumbledore has a reason for everything, even if we don't know it," Hermione said quietly. It probably had something to do with Harry being with Muggles. It was harder for Wizards to slip in and out of the Wizarding world without being tracked.
"Yeah. He's a great man." Ron smiled slowly. "Genius, if you ask me. I can't believe he thought of that plan to save Sirius."
They fell into silence, but then Ron interrupted it again. "D'ya think your parents would let you come and visit me over the summer?"
"Um…" Hermione mumbled, caught unaware by the question. "I-I think so. They like your parents very much, but…"
"Well, now that we're older maybe they won't let me come over."
"Why not?" he asked blankly.
"W-Well, because… because we're older," she stumbled. Why could Ron just get things? Sometimes she hated having to explain them. "Because they m-might worry that-that…"
"That having a boy and girl unrelated staying under one roof isn't such a good idea!" Hermione burst out, blushing. She looked away quickly.
Ron was silent for a long time, obviously thinking over what she said. Then he snorted. "That-that's stupid. The thought that we-"
"I know," she interrupted quickly.
"We would never."
"No, of course not."
"But they would think…?"
"Well, that's just stupid," he said again.
"Yes," she agreed. Hermione looked around and was pleased to see they were almost done. The last thing to do was check under the bed. She figured that might be the dirtiest thus far though. When she picked up the blanket, she wasn't surprised to see all sorts of things.
"I miss him."
Hermione whirled around to stare at him in shock. Could he possibly be serious? Scabbers was Peter Pettigrew. He was off plotting with the Dark Lord right now!
Ron's eyes were said and young. "I know, I know. It's just… as much as I hated having a stupid rat, I still liked him. Better than your stupid old cat, anyway."
"Okay, that was uncalled for," he admitted. "I guess Crookshanks knew who the real villain was all along."
"And you didn't listen to him."
"Well, neither did you!"
Hermione huffed only because it was slightly true. She'd believed Crookshanks was a very intelligent cat, but when he'd gone after Scabbers she just assumed it was because of nature.
"You know, he could be talking to You Know Who right now."
Hermione looked at Ron in surprise. His expression was darker, and he stared intensely at his lap.
"And we didn't stop him. There-there had to have been something we did wrong."
"Harry and I should have grabbed Scabbers instead of-of saving Sirius. What use was that when he's still on the Ministry's most wanted?" Hermione said miserably, feeling cold suddenly. Sirius was all alone again, and he was being hunted by everyone in the Wizarding world. Even everyone in the Muggle world! What must that be like? Probably like Azkaban all over again.
"Don't think that," Ron said vehemently. "You saved Sirius and Buckbeak when they would have died otherwise, okay? That was a very noble thing to do, and probably the only thing you could have done. If it was possible to have taken Pettigrew somehow, Dumbledore would have told you."
Hermione looked up at him hopefully. Ron didn't normally get so defensive unless he really believed something. She smiled slowly. "Thanks, Ron."
"It's just the truth." He shrugged casually, but she could see that his ears were turning pink. Was he really embarrassed just because she'd thanked him? "You can go outside, if you want. I'll finish this in here… it's not your mess anyway."
Hermione shook her head and started to dig things out from under the bed. They were actually getting along. More than getting along, actually. She was amazed by what he'd said about Sirius. She had expected to be the only one who realized the consequences. Ron, least of all, seemed likely to want to talk about the bad stuff. He was always so concerned with trying to stay positive that she thought he'd erase it all from his mind. Was this a sign of maturity peaking out through his youthful blue eyes?
They were done with cleaning out under the bed and shut the trunk only a minute or two before all the trunks in the room disappeared with a pop. They both sat leaning against the bed frame, relaxing in the lazy summer heat.
"It's almost time to go," she whispered.
"Want to go get some pudding from the kitchens? A last meal at Hogwarts?"
Hermione laughed and shook her head. "No. Let's just sit here… it's nice."
"Yeah. Something feels different."
"We're not arguing."
"I don't mean to argue with you so much."
"Well neither do I," he said defensively.
"It just happens. Maybe-maybe we're just two very different people."
"Hey, now that's not true," Ron said quickly. "I have no idea who I am, so how can I be so different? And you-you… well… I dunno."
"You're still my best friend. O-opposites attract and all that," she said, blushing as it struck her what that could mean.
"Yeah, me too. I'm sorry I was so mean to you about Crookshanks."
"You should be. Crookshanks was perfectly innocent."
They both rolled their eyes and looked away. Hermione felt a creep of happiness in her spine though. It felt good to argue about stupid things that didn't matter with Ron. That made things seem more normal. Made the idea of a rat turned evil murderous fiend seem ludicrous.
Hermione looked at Ron out of the corner of her eye, and the sudden desire to touch him entered her mind again. They were friends, nothing more, she assured herself. So, with a deep breath, she scooted closer to him until their sides were pressed together. Then she let out the breath and rested her head back against the bed.
"I'm glad you didn't get hurt. I mean, worse than a broken leg. I would m-miss you… if anything had happened to you."
"Me, too. Only for you. Er… you know what I mean."
Hermione relaxed against him. Touching was underrated by far. Just being this close to Ron was making her feel relaxed and calm about everything that was ahead. What could be wrong with feeling good just for a few minutes?
"We never do this, have you noticed?"
"This," he said, gesturing at their touching shoulders.
"Well, I think we should."
"I agree," Ron sighed, and she noticed for the first times that his ears were almost purple he was blushing so hard.
With a giggle she rested her head on his shoulder. "I'll ask my parents if I can come this summer."
"And-and if they say anything about it being inappropriate, I guess I can just tell them that I'm coming to see Ginny. It's not her fault after all that she has six older brothers."
Ron rested his cheek on top of her head, and she snuggled closer. It was such an innocent moment. Why had she been so worried about her want of touch? They were just children after all… at least, for now. Hermione stopped her train of thought right there and focused on just enjoying being so close to Ron when it might be a summer before she even saw him again.
They stayed that way for a long, long time.