Disclaimer: Not mine.
Now, the vast majority of my oneshots are unbeta'd, but that just leads to me rereading them later and realizing I've made a stupid error somewhere in the story. So...I've reformed myself. This has been beta'd by the delicious Dress-Without-Sleeves, who is much funnier than me. Not that I'm jealous or anything.
Anyway, it really all comes down to zombie pigs. No. Really.
Some words are never spoken.
Some words don't need to be said.
Hermione isn't sure how this all came about, how she and Ron came to be here, staring at each other wordlessly in a cheap Italian hotel room. This past year has been so surreal, so full of fear and worry, that moments like this - moments of quiet and peace - are foreign and strange and a little bit worrying.
"Harry will be back soon," Ron finally says, looking away from her. He self-consciously studies his hands, clasped together in his lap.
She knows he hates how even his fingers are freckled.
"Do you think he's found it?" she asks softly, dragging her gaze away from his hands to focus on his pale face. His nose is a little too long, his lips thin, his jaw too wide and strong, and his eyes are shadowed with exhaustion under his bushy red brows. When he blushes or gets angry, his skin becomes a splotchy red-pink-purple.
She thinks it's a bad sign that even a purple-faced Ron appeals to her.
"He thinks the lead was accurate," Ron says, and it takes Hermione a moment to remember what they are discussing.
Harry. The fifth horcrux, and the next step to Voldemort's destruction. For the first time, she and Ron aren't out there with him, tracking down Hufflepuff's cup. After what happened when they found and destroyed Ravenclaw's journal...they'd been hurt, all three of them, and she and Ron had been injured the worst.
That had happened nearly two months ago, two months during which she and Ron recuperated and Harry tried to find the next piece of Voldemort's shredded soul.
Ron had very nearly died. She knows he still has the scar, a long white line across his back.
He'd almost been cut in half. She still has nightmares, remembering his screams, the blood, the sickening realization that he was going to die and they'd never have so much as kissed.
Only Harry's quick thinking had saved Ron. Hermione had been frozen, staring wide-eyed at Ron, forgetting all about the healing potions she'd been sensible enough to bring with her. Harry had shouted at her, told her to give the potions to their friend; when she'd only fumbled helplessly at the vials, her hands shaking, Harry had snatched the potions from her and forced them down Ron's throat.
Even then, they'd barely been able to keep him alive long enough to find him a healer.
Hermione can't help feeling a little relieved that Harry absolutely refuses to let either of them accompany him on the more dangerous errands, now.
"I think," she says carefully, "that if anyone can do this, it's Harry."
Once, such a comment would have filled Ron with jealousy of his best friend. But he's grown up since their fourth year, and he fully realizes the danger Harry is in. Now he merely nods soberly and says, "I hope so."
Hermione can read both Harry and Ron very well, and can clearly see how worried Ron is for his friend - how much he wants to be with Harry right now, at his side through thick and thin.
It all seems too much, too overwhelming. Here they are, sitting on opposite sides of a lumpy, rock-hard bed, trapped in an uncomfortable, awkward conversation as life flows on, leaving them behind.
She's tired of avoiding the one thing she wants desperately to discuss. She's tired of pretending she doesn't want to be with him, that she wouldn't do almost anything just to hold his hand.
And she's absolutely sick of not knowing what to say.
She hesitates, considering and discarding several possible ways to broach the subject. Her mind races, not wanting to make her meaning too obvious, but determined not to let this, this...silliness...go on any longer.
She takes a deep breath and asks, "Do you ever think about what you'll do, after the war?"
Do you ever think about me?
Do you ever think about us?
Ron looks startled by the unexpected question, but he recovers quickly. His skin gets splotchy, red and purple, and his gaze darts from her to the blanket beneath them.
"Sometimes," he says slowly, picking at a loose thread on the hem of his jeans to avoid meeting her stare.
All the time.
"What...what do you think about?" she presses on, summoning all of her Gryffindor courage. She needs to see this through. She knows he cares for her, perhaps even as much as she cares for him, and suddenly it seems so very idiotic that they still haven't taken the next step.
Tell me I am your plan.
"Becoming an Auror," Ron says, scratching embarrassedly at the back of his neck. His ears have gone a bright red. "Settling down."
She's good at reading both Ron and Harry, but especially Ron. She can hear what he's really saying, no matter how well they've disguised their conversation.
"That sounds ambitious," she can't help teasing, with a small pleased smile.
That sounds wonderful.
"Perfect, more like," Ron replies.
Hermione's smile gets broader and brighter, because that hardly needs translating.
"Perfect," she agrees, and he reaches across the bed and takes her hand in his own.