TITLE: A Moment in Time
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah, with much help from JKR
SUMMARY: Hermione wonders if Ron meant what he said. Part 7 in my Ron/Hermione saga.
SPOILERS: HBP
PAIRING: Gee, let me think on that… Ron/Hermione, duh
RATING: K+
DISCLAIMER: My name is not JK Rowling. I am in no way affiliated with her, Warner Bros., Scholastic, Bloomsbury, or Harry Potter. This is purely to satisfy my muse, which was incredibly disappointed that Ron chose Lavender (LAVENDER!) and simply wanted to do something about it.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Takes place during chapter 21 ("The Unknowable Room") and is told from Hermione's POV.
There have been a great many different variations of this particular section of HBP. Ideas from other versions may have been incorporated into this one, but no plagiarism is intended. I'm like a sponge. I absorb things. I don't always remember from where.
Based on the song "When You Say You Love Me" by Josh Groban.
Reviews are always appreciated.


A Moment in Time

"There are times I swear I feel like I can fly for a moment in time, somewhere between the heavens and Earth, and frozen in time, oh, when you say those words." – Josh Groban

Boys.

As long as Hermione lived, she would never understand boys. The whole lot of them were stubborn gits – every single one of them, but mostly her two best friends. Ron, of course, was no surprise. He'd always been a stubborn git, and he was only proving himself worthy of his title as King of Stubborn Gits by refusing to end things with Lavender even though he obviously no longer wanted her for his girlfriend. He hadn't actually come out and told this to Hermione, but she'd gotten the feeling, during their pseudo-talk while he was in the hospital wing, that he didn't like Lavender. He'd seemed sincere when he'd apologized.

Anyway, he hadn't called out Lavender's name in his sleep, had he? No, she didn't think so.

She'd been so surprised by the apology that she hadn't pressed the issue, but they really needed to talk about what had happened. She was apparently going to have to come right out and admit that she fancied him. It looked as though the only way Ron would that seemingly simple concept through his thick skull was for her to just say the words: "Ron, you stubborn, thick-headed git, I fancy you."

The second option was to club him over the head, drag him upstairs to her room, and have her way with him.

While he would probably prefer the second option (and if Hermione were honest with herself, a part of her – a part that was growing much larger the longer she had these feelings – would have preferred that option as well), but she was a prefect, and she had to act like a prefect. And prefects did not drag boys up into their dormitories and have their way with them.

Harry was also a stubborn git – about a lot of things, actually, but most recently that blasted Half-Blood Prince. Hermione was sure that the stupid Prince did not have good intentions with the "helpful" suggestions he wrote in the margins of that book. Harry had stopped listening to her on this issue, convinced that she was just jealous because he was better than her at something, which was absolute rubbish. She certainly didn't care whether or not she was the best at everything. She didn't have to be the best at everything.

And he wasn't better than her. He was cheating. That didn't count. She would totally beat him in a fair fight…er…well, whatever.

It was that blasted Half-Blood Prince – that ruddy book, which Harry couldn't seem to pull his nose out of for longer than a few minutes anymore. Even now, as they sat in front of the fire trying to reason out a way for Harry to get Slughorn to tell him about Horcruxes, he was reading that book, as though it would magically give him the answer.

"I'm telling you," Hermione said loudly, for Harry hadn't been listening to her, "the stupid Prince isn't going to be able to help you with this, Harry! There's only on way to force someone to do what you want, and that's the Imperius Curse, which is illegal – "

Harry didn't even glance up from the book, which only served to infuriate Hermione all the more. He couldn't even look at her! Stubborn git. Boys. They were all the same. Stupid stubborn gits. "Yeah, I know that, thanks. That's why I'm looking for something different. Dumbledore says Veritaserum won't do it, but there might be something else, a potion or a spell…"

Hermione shook her head. If only Ron and Harry paid attention during lessons. Veritaserum wouldn't work because if Slughorn knew it was coming, he'd be able to find some way to block it – closing his throat or pretending to drink. Any other potion or spell would have the same effect. Slughorn knew that Harry wanted that memory; he probably expected him to try something like slipping him a potion – he was the Potions master, after all, and he'd been in Slytherin. He probably would have done the same thing, in Harry's position.

"You're going about it the wrong way," Hermione said. "Only you can get the memory, Dumbledore says. That must mean you can persuade Slughorn were other people can't. It's not a question of slipping him a potion, anyone could do that – "

"How d'you spell 'belligerent'?" Ron asked suddenly. He was working on an essay for Defense against the Dark Arts about dealing with dementors. Hermione and Harry had already finished, but Ron wanted to write his on his own, because Snape had been particularly nasty to them recently, and this essay was extremely difficult. Snape would know they had copied – he'd always been quite keen on figuring that out. Ron shook his quill, his eyes trained on the parchment. "It can't be B – U – M – "

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "No," she said, pulling Ron's essay toward her, "it isn't." She scanned the essay.

Good Lord, she thought. This is gibberish. Nothing makes sense. This is bad even for Ron. It must have finally happened, then. Lavender's driven him barmy. Serves him right, the stubborn prat. He deserves to be driven mad. But if Snape reads this…Ron will get a grade so poor he'll fail both this year and next year.

But she didn't say any of that. She and Ron were finally on speaking terms again, and she wasn't about to ruin it. "And 'augury' doesn't begin O – R – G either." She looked at his quill. It looked new; she didn't recognize it. "What kind of quill are you using?"

Ron held it out for her to examine it. "It's one of Fred and George's Spell-Check ones…"

Ah, yes. Now she remembered. The twins had gotten him a Spell-Check quill for his birthday. She had never got the chance to give him his birthday present – it was still up in her trunk. She kept meaning to give it to him, but she always forgot, and when she remembered, she'd think, Well, it's silly to give him his birthday present now…

"…but I think the charm must be wearing off…"

Hermione stifled a snort and fought the urge to roll her eyes. She wouldn't be all that surprised if Fred and George were advertising these as Spell-Check quills when in reality they had charmed them to purposely spell things incorrectly. It was just the sort of thing that those two would do. But if he'd been using this quill since his birthday and it hadn't yet caused any problems, it must have been something as simple as the charm wearing off. She eyed the parchment again and bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Yes, it must," she said, as she pointed to the essay's title, "because we were asked how we'd deal with dementors, not 'Dungbombs', and I don't remember you changing your name to 'Roonil Wazlib' either."

Ron dropped his quill and grabbed his forehead. "Ah, no! Don't say I'll have to write the whole thing out again!"

"It's okay," she said, "we can fix it." She picked up the essay and set it down on the table in front of her, then pulled out her wand. She tapped her wand to each misspelled word and watched as they magically fixed themselves – a handy little charm she'd learned first year, when she discovered she'd be correcting all of Ron and Harry's assignments. Fred and George would no doubt burst into hysterical laughter upon finding out what havoc they had wreaked on their brother without even having to be present – or possibly even intending to.

Ron sank back into the armchair, rubbing his eyes. "I love you, Hermione."

Hermione froze.

Everything else froze.

Her experience with the time-turner taught her that time could be manipulated, but that it never stopped. It was a constant cycle, always moving. But right then, at that moment in time, it was as if everything in the entire world had stopped, making that moment all the more profound. Harry and Ron were frozen in place; Hermione's heart stopped beating. The fire was no longer crackling; her breath was frozen in her chest.

I love you, Hermione. He'd said it. He'd actually said it. I love you, Hermione.

She was flying – quite literally flying. I love you, Hermione. No words in the history of the English language could ever make her feel quite like what she did right now. Once her heart started beating again, it began to soar. Her stomach dropped into her knees. She was lifted into the air – floating to the ceiling.

I love you, Hermione.

This was the single greatest moment of her life.

She glanced up at Ron, but he didn't seem to realize what he had said. He was leaning back in the chair, his head lolling over the back so that he was staring at the ceiling. His ears hadn't turned red, so she knew he wasn't embarrassed. That could either mean that he didn't realize that he had just told her he loved her…

Or it could mean that he knew he had just told her he loved her and didn't care.

As much as she hoped it was the latter, she knew it was most likely the former. Ron had a tendency to speak first and then think later. She had a feeling that when he finally realized what had come out of his mouth, his whole face would turn the color of his hair, but as she watched him, she didn't see anything of the sort.

Prat.

"Don't let Lavender hear you saying that," she said. She was very pleased that she managed to keep her voice calm, despite the fact that she was shaking. She was really developing a lot more self-control this year.

Ron sat up. "I won't," he said.

Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Men. They were all the same. If he would just tell Lavender he didn't want to see her anymore, then he could say things like, "I love you, Hermione" more often. And in public. In front of other people. Not just Harry.

"Or maybe I will," he said. "Then she'll ditch me."

This time, Hermione did roll her eyes. How difficult was it for him to tell Lavender that he didn't fancy her? It took a grand total of five words: "Lavender, I don't fancy you." Actually, if he didn't use her name, it would only take four words. He could do it in less if he got creative. Her particular favorite was, "You, me, no." It was to the point and just a little cruel, which was nothing less than what Lavender deserved, especially after last night, when she paraded around the dormitory claiming that it was only a matter of time before Ron got the shag of his life.

It had taken all of Hermione's newly developed self-control to refrain from turning Lavender's ears into cucumbers.

"Why don't you ditch her if you want to finish it?" asked Harry. He asked it as if it were the most obvious solution on the planet.

Hermione raised an eyebrow but kept her eyes on Ron's essay. An excellent question, Harry. Why doesn't he just ditch her? Why doesn't he just come right out and say those three magic words? "You, me, no." Everyone's happy. Well…she would certainly be happy.

If Lavender had cucumbers for ears, it would be a big improvement.

Focus, Hermione. She returned her attention to Ron's essay and corrected a word that didn't even really qualify as a word.

"You haven't ever chucked anyone, have you?" Ron asked.

Hermione corrected yet another misspelled word on Ron's essay and chose not to say anything. Of the three of them, she was the only one who had ever broken up with someone, though technically what had happened between her and Viktor wasn't "breaking up" since technically they hadn't dated.

Okay. A few dates here and there. A few chaste kisses. So not dating. Not like Ron and Lavender.

She snorted and tried to cover it up with a cough. The boys didn't even notice. Boys.

Like what Ron and Lavender had could be considered dating, either. Snog partners, more like. And not that so much anymore, now that he and Hermione were…something.

Something. They were something. She didn't know what exactly they were, but they were something. And that was better than nothing.

Ron was gesturing futilely with both hands, having obviously not heard anything. "You and Cho just – "

Harry made a weird face and nodded. "Sort of fell apart, yeah."

Hermione looked up briefly, hoping she was imagining the strain in Harry's voice. Cho had been a sore spot in the past, but she thought he was over that. He certainly hadn't been moping about the common room for months, pining over his and Cho's lost love after one kiss and one date. And now that she was thinking about it, Harry could hardly be considered an expert on relationships, since his and Cho's one kiss and one date didn't count.

You're doing it again, Hermione. Focus. Fix this damn essay so I can go upstairs and not have to listen to Ron talk about not breaking up with Lavender.

"Wish that would happen with me and Lavender," said Ron.

Well, it's not going to, you spineless prat! It's not going to end until you say those three magic words –

"But the more I hint I want to finish it, the tighter she holds on. It's like going out with the giant squid."

Hermione rolled her eyes. Aw, poor baby. Though she did enjoy the comparison between Lavender and the giant squid.

Okay. He was forgiven.

For now.