Seven Days by Noctis
Overview: H/Hr, R/Lu implied. Romance/Humour. Hogwarts, 7th Year. Ron gives Harry seven days to fess up his attraction to Hermione before Ron does it for him. (Challenge)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and other related trademarks and copyrighted materials are property of their respective owners. Use of such properties is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute a claim on such properties.
Authour's Notes: This is my first-ever response to a challenge posted on by Julietta. To be honest, I'm a little uncertain if I can come up with enough material to finish the challenge — but hey, it's something to work towards. :)
Oh yeah, this is completely beta-reader free, so try not to let any errant punctuation or rogue spelling errors bite you.
It was early in the morning, but Ron was already up — something unusual for the boy who preferred to have an extra five minutes before being reluctantly dragged out of bed by a nagging conscience and a desire to avoid detention. Not to mention missing breakfast.
Breakfast was the reason the tall redhead was up early this fine morning; he had woken to a grumbling stomach and if there was one thing that would get him out of bed, it was his stomach.
As he dressed, he glanced over to Harry's bed to wake him up, but he wasn't there. The bed was still made up from the day before, with only Harry's school robes tossed at the foot along with the textbooks from yesterday's classes.
Hmm, where could Harry be?
Ron descended the spiralling staircase from his dormitory down to the common room. The sun was just barely in the sky, but the room was already filled with a warm glow from the sun's early rays — an advantage to being in a tower. There in the Common Room, on one of the couches nearest the fireplace, was a scene that he didn't quite expect.
Harry and Hermione were fast asleep in the couch. Numerous books, parchment rolls and quills were arrayed around them, evidence of their revising the evening before. One of the large woolen blankets, usually covering the couches was covering them, pulled up nearly to their necks. Hermione looked comfortably ensconced under one of Harry's arms, her cheek resting lightly on his chest, while Harry's head was tilted backwards on the couch's back. They were somewhat leaning over on what appeared to be a jumble of giant sofa cushions, a tall stack of books and Harry's bookbag.
That can't be a comfortable sleeping position, Ron thought. Well, for Harry, at least.
Walking up to them, Ron jerked the blanket back, revealing that Hermione's arms were wrapped around Harry's waist, and Harry with one arm over Hermione's shoulders. Harry was half sitting up while Hermione was leaned against him, more or less stretched out on the couch.
The cool air of the Common Room replaced the trapped heat of the blanket, causing his two best friends to wake up. Blinking sleep away, they levelled their gaze at Ron, who wore a bemused, if questioning, expression at the sight of them.
"My, my, isn't this cozy?" said Ron dryly. "You know, you'd think the Head Boy and Head Girl would set a better example for the firsties than sharing a night together. In the Common Room no less."
Harry and Hermione stared at him, then at each other. Twin gasps came from them as they realized the spectacle they must've made to Ron. Hermione quickly extracted herself from Harry and both of them reddened with embarrassment.
"We — er — fell asleep studying," croaked Harry, his throat still dry from sleep.
"I figured." Ron's tone was still wry as he watched them stand and smooth their wrinkled uniforms unnecessarily.
"I'm, erm, going to go shower and change," said Hermione quickly. She was off up the stairs to the girls' dormitories and gone in the blink of an eye. Harry was left behind, so he began the task of picking up the detritus of their revision, stacking parchments and books. A task that was a little harder under the questioning, mirthful, gaze of Ron.
"Nothing was going on," Harry answered defensively. "We were just up late."
"I know. I was just thinking . . . ."
"Thinking that if anyone else had woken you up, they'd think something was going on. I mean, it's not the first time you two have been in a situation to give someone ideas."
"Nothing's going on," Harry repeated again emphatically.
"For someone who's got nothing going on, you two sure are doing a piss-poor job at convincing people. Hell, I know there's nothing going on, but you're doing a pretty bad job at convincing me."
Harry glanced up to see Ron fighting a grin — and losing. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?" he accused.
"Just a little payback for you taking the mickey when Luna and I started seeing one another."
"Well, Hermione and I aren't seeing one another."
The question brought Harry's head up from his book-collecting task. Ron noticed a surprised and maybe even a slightly frightened look in his green eyes. Ron wasn't a terribly intuitive man, but nearly seven years as a close friend with Harry was enough to give him a little insight.
"Because we're just friends!" said Harry.
"Mm-hmm. Just friends. Harry, I'm going to say this, and bear in mind I'm your best mate and all. But you two have got it bad for one another. And everyone knows it."
A flummoxed Harry just blinked at Ron, mouth opened.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," said Ron. "Look, Harry, you have to tell her."
"Why?" said Harry in a small voice.
"Trust me on this one," said Ron with uncharacteristic sobriety. "You don't want to make the same mistake I did. If you wait too long, well . . . feelings can fade, life goes on and she'll find someone else."
Harry didn't answer for a long minute. Instead, he mechanically completed his book-and-parchment collecting and sat down heavily on the couch where he spent the night with Hermione.
Ron could see that Harry was wrestling with the idea of coming open with his attraction to Hermione — an attraction he never admitted to Ron, but Ron, with a little experience of having a crush on Hermione, could spot. And, if nothing else, by the fact that Harry didn't contradict when he pointed out that they wanted something more from one another.
"What if she–"
"Doesn't like you that way?" interrupted Ron, sensing Harry's thoughts. "Trust me, it won't be a problem. I should get Colin to sneak pictures of you two, if you don't believe me."
"I'm a little surprised that you're not–"
"Jealous?" Ron laughed with remarkably little bitterness. "I've had a little while to get over it."
"Yeah, not to mention a little help from a certain blonde friend . . . ." said Harry with a grin.
"Well, yeah," said Ron sheepishly. "But that's just my point! I didn't wait this time, and you've seen where I am."
"Yeah, snogging whenever you think nobody's looking."
"Hey!" Ron protests, cheeks pinkening. "That's not true!"
"Yesterday morning under the main stairs, yesterday at lunch behind the suit of armor by the main entrance," Harry began, ticking off locations and times on his fingers, "Yesterday afternoon again outside Greenhouse Three, and yesterday night in Transfiguration." The last one had Harry raise his brow at Ron.
"How did you know about that!" Ron exclaimed. Harry noted that he didn't deny the accusation.
"A little help from Messers Moony, Wormtail–"
"That bloody map," Ron growled. A thought occured to him. "Wait. Why were you looking at it last night?"
Harry shrugged. "We were revising Charms for our NEWTs and Hermione was wondering why you skived off from our 7th year study group. And now you just admitted why," he added with a grin.
"Hmph," Ron grumped. "At least I'm getting a little something, which is more than you can say."
"Look, just tell her. Seriously. She's not going to say no."
Harry sighed, avoiding Ron's gaze. "I'm not sure she won't," he said, in that small voice again. "And I couldn't handle it if she did. It'd ruin everything between us."
"You're pitiful, you know that?" said Ron with a sigh. "You can defeat the most powerful and feared Dark wizard in a century, but you can't admit to a simple girl that you fancy her?"
"This is no simple girl, Ron. . . . This is Hermione," said Harry. There was an underlying yearning, tempered with hidden steel, in Harry's response, Ron thought. He almost smiled. He knew Harry wasn't going to let anybody call Hermione simple.
"Then tell her. Show that legendary Gryffindor courage, that Quidditch fearlessness that'll make you dive headfirst into the ground at a hundred miles an hour to catch the Snitch. Tell her."
Ron didn't hear a response from Harry. Time to pull out the secret weapon.
"Tell her. Or I will."
A look of panic splashed across Harry's features. "What!"
"You heard me," said Ron, meeting Harry's scared look with a mischievous grin. "I'll give you, oh, a week. If you still haven't told her, then I'll tell her. I don't think the rest of us can handle you two like this for more than that. We have NEWTs to study for, you know, and we can't do it when there's so much gossip going around about when you two are going to open your eyes."
Walking over to the portal entrance to find breakfast, Ron glanced back at a still-paralyzed Harry. "See you at breakfast!" he quipped and stepped out.
Harry watched the retreating form of his best friend. A cold pit of terror formed in his stomach as he processed Ron's ultimatum.