Author's Note: This scene--yes I know it's been loads of times now--takes place in Ch.19, "Elf Tales," in HBP. After everyone leaves the Hospital Wing. As I was revising it and reading other stories, I noticed some plot and line similarities between my story and others. I want to stress that I didn't intentionally use any similar plot points...this story was actually written the same day HBP came out. After I finished the book, this story popped into my head and I've just now got around to posting it. So PLEASE don't be upset with me if anything sounds familiar!
Disclaimer: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts and the wizarding world are my creation; they belong to the wonderful Ms. Jo Rowling.
Hermione glanced down the corridor, first one way, then the other. When she was satisfied that no one was around, she silently crept through the door to the Hospital Wing, breathing a sigh of relief when Madame Pomfrey was nowhere in sight. The day had been horribly long, filled with worry and anxious fretting, and of course, Harry and Ginny's constant discussions of howexactly Ron had been poisoned and why.
For her part, Hermione had remained unusually quiet the whole day, preferring to worry in silence rather than take part in the lengthy talks. She would never forget those thoughts that had been swarming in her mind during those nerve-wracking hours when they weren't sure if Ron was going to live. The last thing we would have done was argue, she'd realized. He would never know that the kiss with Viktor didn't really mean anything, or that I really did want to take him to Professor Slughorn's party with me…and not just as friends.
"But he's going to be all right," Hermione murmured out loud, "So it doesn't matter that he never knew those things. Because…" her voice trailed off. Because I still have the chance to tell him, she finished to herself.
As she made her way to Ron's bed, Hermione felt the sting of tears for what felt like the hundredth time that day. She'd actually managed to keep from crying while Harry and the Weasleys were in the room, but now—well, she wasn't any reason to hold back, was there?
"Oh, Ron," she said softly, unable to resist the urge to run a hand gently down his cheek. His face was so pale…no longer slightly pink the way it normally was. "You have to get better soon. We…I miss you. Madame Pomfrey says you're going to be okay, but I—I can't believe it until I truly see it." She paused. "Ron! Wake up, you prat!"
Hermione's breath suddenly whooshed out of her, and she collapsed in the chair next to Ron's bed. Her left hand clutched his right. She didn't dare get too much closer; she was already closer than she'd ever hoped to be, especially with Harry and Ron's family crowding the room all day. She carefully put her head down next to his side, vowing to stay there the night. Ron…please wake up. Slowly, silently, the tears began to fall.
"Er-my-nee?" There it was again. Hermione's head jerked up and she stared into Ron's groggy, unblinking gaze. This time there was no doubt that the noise coming from his mouth was her name. She'd hardly dared to believe that she would be the first thing he thought of earlier that day, but now she allowed a small smile to cross her face.
"I'm here, Ron," she replied clearly. "And—and I'm not going anywhere." She put her whole heart into those words, hoping that he would understand.
He didn't answer for a moment, gazing at her as if he couldn't quite believe that she was sitting in front of him. "I—you…you were the first person I saw," he said wonderingly. "When I woke up that time. I knew that everyone else was there…but you were the only one I really saw." Hermione grinned at him, knowing that tears were running down her face.
"Well of course. I couldn't very well let you die without at least being there to witness your demise," she laughed softly, then promptly quieted, seeing the serious look in his eyes.
"What happened?" he asked.
She paused, unsure of what to say. "Um." Ron's brow lifted and Hermione silently cursed him. He knew her too well. "A love potion," she said meekly. "Romil—Romilda Vane, we think. Harry says you were in a right state there for awhile. Not making any sense…And then you two went to Professor Slughorn's and—and he gave you the antidote…and then you drank the—the meade and…" She stopped as the words stuck in her throat.
Ron nodded gravely. "Figured it was something like that. I only remember bits and pieces, but…" Hermione shrugged sadly, for lack of anything else to do, and silence took over the room.
He grinned. "You go first."
It was the smile that did her in. Hermione took one look at that grin, then promptly burst into tears. Ron reared back in shock. "Hermione! What'd I do?"
She shook her head, sobs wracking her body. "You—you idiot!" she wailed, sinking down half in her chair, half on Ron's bed. Seemingly at a lost for what to do, Ron took a deep breath, then took hold of her shoulders, pulling her gently onto the bed with him.
Once he had her nestled next to him, Ron placed a shaking arm around her, holding her in place. Suddenly she was no longer shaking, and she couldn't resist turning into Ron's side a little. His embrace was—surprisingly—pleasant and reassuring. "What did I do this time?" he asked, and Hermione felt the question rumble from his throat.
She hiccupped. "You al—almost die—died."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Hermione, you know better than anyone that it'd take more than a bloody goblet of meade to do me in. And of course, I didn't try to get myself poisoned."
"I know th—that, Ron," she said reproachfully. "I—I was just…I was worried, all right? I thought…" She stopped, and Ron felt the tension seeping into her body again. She stiffened next to him.
"You thought what?" he asked after a few moments.
She didn't answer right away. "I thought that you might have…gone, without us saying anything to each other. We haven't spoken for weeks, Ron!"
I know, Hermione, believe, I know, Ron answered silently. And each day it gets harder to be apart from you. Having only Lavender for "company," if you can even call it that. My first thought was you. Were you worried about me? Did you even care that I was sick? …It's always been you, Hermione.
"I—I don't know what to say, Hermione," he finally said. "Other than you have to know that I really wouldn't die without at least asking your permission." Hermione turned in his arms to face him, seeing the smirk flashing across his face. Only Ron Weasley would tell her—completely seriously—that he had to have her permission to die.
"Remember that, Ron." He cocked his head at her, his eyes asking the question. "Never think you can just leave me without consulting me first," she continued before she could stop herself, then immediately blushed when she realized what she'd just said. Great. Now I've put myself out there. She closed her eyes, waiting for Ron to put the distance between them.
When he didn't say anything, she cautiously opened her eyes and peered up at him. Ron was staring down at her with a blazing look in his blue gaze that she hadn't seen before. Or maybe she had, she realized suddenly. She just hadn't been looking for it.
"I wouldn't ever leave you, Hermione." Her chin began to wobble and his face blurred as the tears welled up.
"Oh, Ron, you prat," she murmured before throwing caution to the wind and snuggling herself as far into his arms as she could go. He didn't push her away; he tightened his arms around and brought his face down into her hair.
"I meant it," he added. "We row all the time, but that's just who we are, Hermione. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything. I—I think it's how we show each other that we…" He took another deep breath before saying the words that he'd never imagined he would ever say out loud.
"…Love each other," she finished before he was able to say anything. His eyes widened.
Hermione smiled up at him and once again, Ron felt a pull towards her. He leaned down, his eyes still focused on the hopeful expression on her face. "Hermione," he breathed.
Then his lips were pressing against hers, gently at first, then with more force. Hermione's only thought was finally. Ron twisted so that she could bring her arms around his neck, and he in turn wrapped her even more securely in his embrace.
This is what love is supposed to be like, he realized. It's not hearts and flowers, or just snogging. It's being comfortable with someone. Caring more about them than anything else in the world, and knowing that they also care for you.
They broke the kiss reluctantly when Hermione started to smile against his lips. "Ron, did you ever think we'd end up here--like this one day?"
He paused, considering. "Well, thought, no, I s'pose not," he said, "Hoped, well…" He blushed in embarrassment and Hermione in turn looked away. "I've kind of hoped since…well, for a bloody long time, that we'd be…here."
By this point, Hermione had given up on trying not to cry again and was sitting there, in his arms, sobbing. She buried her face into Ron's neck, feeling like that small place was meant for her. Warm, inviting, comforting…safe. "Oh, Ron!" she sobbed, "You're such a—a git!"
Ron reared back in shock. What had just happened? "Um?" he managed feebly.
Hermione raised her head to meet his eyes, glaring at him. "We finally get somewhere, after all these years, after all the hints I've dropped, literally in your lap, because you're so…so RON!"
"Hermione, what did I—"
"Lavender Brown." One name, four syllables, was all it took to dampen the mood entirely. Ron visibly shrunk away, almost cowering, as if saying the name alone was enough to make him run for cover. Though he still held Hermione loosely in one arm, he moved a way a little, holding the blanket with the other arm and raising it above his face.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Oh, honestly, Ronald," she said in exasperation. "You've got to do something, don't you see? I mean, we can't very well be…together, if—if you're still with her!"
Ron groaned and nodded. "I know, Hermione. But it's just…she's like—like an octopus, you know? Just clings and never lets go. Plus I—I don't want to hurt her."
Hermione's eyes softened a little and she reached over, taking the blanket from Ron's hand and lowering it. "I know that and you know that. So you'll come up with something."
"If you even consider finishing that thought, Ronald Weasley, I swear I will hex you!" she shrieked. "I don't care if you've just been poisoned."
"Aw, come on, Hermione. I don't want to break things off with her that way," Ron whined, sounding like a petulant child.
"You have to, Ron. Because I'm not going to carry on like this—sneaking around--until…until I'm the only girl in your life." She sighed and again felt the tell-tale prickling behind her eyes.
Ron's eyebrows quirked as he looked at her. "You've always been the only girl," he stated quietly. "You've never needed to worry about that."
There he goes again, she growled inwardly. Being sweet and kind and caring…just when I start to think things are back to the way they've always been. And, goodness, here we go again! I'm leaking like a silly faucet!
"Hey, stop that," Ron chided gently, wiping the tears off her face. "I'll—I'll talk to her, okay? I promise. Just don't cry. I can't stand it when you cry. Makes me feel like I did something wrong."
Hermione laughed through her tears, but leaned into him fully again, putting her arms around his waist. "You usually did do something wrong," she giggled. "But I always forgive you."
They lapsed into companionable silence once more. However, as happy as Hermione was, she couldn't put the vision of Madame Pomfrey coming in to check on Ron and seeing Hermione snuggled up next to him out of her mind. With that thought, she slowly—reluctantly—pulled away and started to sit up. Ron jerked up and grabbed her arm.
"Wait, where are you going? This is…this is nice."
She smiled at him and couldn't resist leaning down and kissing him on the cheek, then lightly on the lips. "It's late, and I'm breaking school rules already as it is. Besides, we wouldn't want Madame Pomfrey coming in, would we?"
Ron was already sliding back under the covers, a grin on his face. "All right," he murmured sleepily. "But you'll come back tomorrow, won't you?"
"Of course," she replied. Must keep tabs on Lavender, her mind added, a bit deviously. "I'll bring you your assignments. Even when you're in the Hospital Wing, it's never good to let your homework go too late…" She trailed off when she noticed that Ron was already asleep, that goofy grin still there.
It was truly amazing, she noted. How he could be fully awake one moment, then completely asleep the next. And by the look on his face, he was already dreaming. With a glowing smile, Hermione turned and made her way to the door.
"Er-my-nee." She whirled around as she heard the sound again. This time, however, Ron wasn't muttering it in the midst of delirium. He was clearly all right now, she observed. Very much all right.
"Sweet dreams, Ron."
A/N: Liked it? Was there enough fluff...did I go overboard? I'm sorry, but in reading Ch.19, I could see this happening late that night and I couldn't resist writing the story!