A/N: I got the idea of this one night and wrote the idea down in my trusty little pocket notebook. Now I'm glad I did. This started out, in the notebook, as Ron coming across Hermione one night and telling her she better get her arse to bed before she passed out. This is just a wee bit different. So, here you go; a short, sweet little oneshot about my favorite couple!
The day had been full of excitement, Quidditch, and reckless fun. Ron wanted to have as much fun as he possibly could handle before setting off with Harry and Hermione on their wild goose chase. It was, however, nearing midnight, and everyone was asleep… Well, almost everyone. Ron crept slowly down the stairs in his too-short pajama bottoms that went up past his ankles, being careful not to make any noise. Ron knew every sound of every step in the Burrow, and knew where he best no place his feet, lest he make a sound. Harry had been fast asleep in Fred and George's old room, but rolling about and murmuring in a way that made Ron incredibly nervous. Harry had been sleeping worse and worse lately, and he had a feeling that Harry was dreading nightfall more and more as time wore on.
Ron reached the landing and headed straight for the kitchen – a snack was in order. He padded over to the cabinet and was about to open it when he heard a whimper coming from the living room. Fear prickled down his spine then; could someone be launching an attack on the house? Was someone hurt? Ron put his hand in his bathrobe pocket and grasped the handle of his wand tightly. As he reached the den, however, an unexpected sight met his eyes. It was Hermione, with her head in her arms, apparently fast asleep. A dozen or more books surrounded her on the table, all open to certain pages. The table top was barely visible due to the vast amounts of paper, ink, books, and quills that lay scattered on its surface. Ron hesitantly stepped forward and touched a lock of bushy hair. Hermione jumped and gave a shout, and Ron stumbled back a step, tripping over his own feet.
"S-sorry!" Ron said hurriedly, "I – I just thought I'd tell you to go to bed or something."
Hermione hit herself in the forehead and looked around the room wildly. Ron felt so confused and concerned at the sight of her in her state that he suddenly wanted to take her up into his arms and tell her how much he loved her and that everything would be alright.
"It's okay Ron," Hermione said, "I must have just dozed off. I've just been doing some research,"
"Again," Ron muttered indistinctly as Hermione ran her hands through her bushy hair.
Ron noticed the dark circles under her eyes and how her face had become so pale over the last few days. She eyed him warily and turned slightly pink in the face, and he remembered that he was shirtless except for his open bathrobe.
"You should get some sleep," he said slowly, sinking into a chair and rubbing his eyes.
"I'm fine, Ron, you don't need to worry about me," Hermione replied desperately, while trying to get back to her research, "I'm fine, really I am."
It seemed to Ron that Hermione was talking to herself more than to him. Ron, feeling the danger level rising, got up, walked across the room, and sat down next to her in a cold, wooden chair. He grabbed her wrist and she looked up at him, into his crystal-blue eyes.
"You're exhausted," Ron said, "You hardly eat, you never sleep. You're hardly yourself any more and I –" He broke off and stared at his hands, which he clasped in front of him. "And I'm worried about you."
Hermione looked sad for a moment, then took a deep breath and flipped a page in one of her books.
"You don't need to worry," she said, "I really am alright. A little tired, yes, but there's work to do. I want to be useful to Harry."
"You won't be any use to us if you're falling asleep while we're launching an attack or something."
Hermione suddenly let her head fall onto her arms and her shoulders shook. Ron, in his shocked and concerned state, grabbed her wrists and pulled her so that she was facing him.
"You're right," Hermione said, sobbing quietly, "I'm a m-mess. I'm just so… sc-scared. For all of us. I want to do everything I c-can to – to help."
Ron stared at her tear-streaked face, wishing he knew how to handle women. He followed his instincts, pulled her over, and held her tight in his arms. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
"I'm scared, too," He whispered to her as she clung to his naked torso, sobbing into his robe, "And so is Harry. And everyone else. But it's like Moody says: Constant vigilance!"
Hermione gave a watery chuckle and hiccupped groggily. She pulled away from him and wiped a tear from her eye.
"Oh, you're right, Ron," she said in a defeated tone in her attempt to stay calm.
"That's a first," Ron said gruffly, but he couldn't help but smirk as Hermione laughed through her tears.
"Ah, come on," Ron said, "You need sleep. You look like the living dead."
Hermione scowled and rubbed her eyes.
"You sure know how to compliment a woman, Ronald," She said sarcastically.
"Yeah," Ron replied vaguely, "Hold on a sec."
Ron scampered off into the kitchen again and returned a minute later with two mugs, both of which were steaming slightly. He handed Hermione one of the mugs and she watched him take a sip.
"What is it?"
"Its hot apple cider with a bit of cinnamon," Ron replied, "Mum used to make it for us when we couldn't sleep. Now I just make it for myself."
Hermione took a sip and closed her eyes as the warmth spread throughout her whole body. She leaned back in her armchair and watched him as he drank his beverage. He looked up from his drink to see that she was watching him intently, occasionally raking her eyes over his chest.
"Not very impressive, huh?"
Hermione looked up at his face quizzically, trying desperately not to blush for having been caught red-handed.
Ron gestured to his torso with the hand that wasn't holding a beverage.
"Harry's got more muscle than me," Ron said, "I'm not complaining or anything. I'm just saying."
Hermione gave a small chuckle as she sipped her drink.
"Muscles don't matter. Intellect matters. Skills matter," she said, "Love matters."
Hermione took another long swig of her beverage and finished it. She vanished the cup into the kitchen and watched as Ron did the same.
"Love," Ron said, "is that what you call it?"
"I suppose that depends on what you're talking about."
"What feeling, Ron? You're not being specific."
Ron shook his head, not exactly wanting to talk about the feelings that he had for Hermione. Ron wasn't good with girls, feelings, or school. Well, school was alright. Girls, however, and especially Hermione, well, that was different. Hermione rose to her feet, swayed, and had to grab the arm of her chair to keep from falling over.
"I'm so tired," she whispered, partly to herself, "I can hardly stand at all. And, oh, I have so much work to do!"
She turned and leaned against the table to try and keep from bursting into tears again. Ron hurried forward to assist her again, or catch her, should she collapse.
"Hermione, you really should get some sleep," Ron said, "This can't be good for you! You'll work yourself right off a cliff!"
Hermione turned to face Ron again, tears finding their now familiar path down her cheeks.
"I hate crying, Ron," she said, "but I can't help it. If I stop working, terrible things will happen."
"No," Ron said reproachfully, "If you don't sleep, terrible things will happen. Now come on, you're being thick."
With that, she collapsed upon him, her hand palm-down on his bare chest and her head on his shoulder.
"I'm too tired to do anything," she said monotonously, "I'm too tired to sleep, Ron, do you know what I mean?"
"Nope," Ron said, and suddenly scooped her up as if she were his bride, "Come on; I'm taking you to my room. Ginny's sleeping in her room and we don't wanna wake her up, trust me. You're staying in my room tonight and I'm locking the door. You take the bed, I'll take the floor – you need it more than I do."
"Ron, I really shouldn't – I can unlock the door, you know." Hermione argued in exhaustion, letting her head rest against Ron's chest as he began up the stairs.
Ron paused for a moment, grunted, adjusted his hands, and snatched Hermione's wand away from her.
"Not anymore. You're not escaping. No more work for today, just take a load off. Here we go."
Ron pushed open the door of his room, crossed the room, and lay Hermione down on the side of the bed. He pulled back the covers, then picked her up and placed her gently back down. He clumsily pulled the covers back over her and she smiled gratefully at him.
"For holding you prisoner?"
"No. And yes. Thank you for caring." Hermione clarified.
Ron took off his robe and transfigured it into a sleeping bag, then climbed into it with his second pillow. He sighed and closed his eyes, but opened them a second later.
"Hermione? Are you awake?"
"Yes," Came a drowsy reply.
"Remember before, when you said love matters?"
"Mhmm…" Hermione was barely awake now.
Ron paused for a second, pondering his thoughts.
"Well, I was thinking," Ron said, "Love does matter, doesn't it? I mean, Dumbledore always said love mattered. And what if you're in love, but you never get the chance to tell that person? I mean, why take the chance, right?"
There was another pause, in which Ron figured Hermione must be asleep.
"Hermione, I love you."
There was another pause, in which Ron didn't figure that he would get an answer. However, after about ten seconds, Hermione's voice came out in a drowsy whisper.
"I love you, Ron."
And then she was asleep. Ron watched her for a moment before rolling over on his other side and pulling his sleeping bag up closer to his face. At that moment in time, he didn't care what would happen; didn't care that in just a few hours, Mrs. Weasley would wake both of them up with a shriek of surprise when she found them asleep in the same room with the door locked and Ron shirtless; didn't care that she would give them both an embarrassing talking-to in the morning in front of the entire family; didn't care that Ginny would taunt him about it for weeks. Because right now he had love, and love was enough for Ron.
"Sweet dreams, Hermione."
A/N: Woot? Yes, I think so. This story kind of formed itself, so, for once, I dont want to shoot my plot bunny!
So, did you like this and want to read more, but don't know where to start? Go to my website in the "Stories and Backgrounds" section, and that'll give you a nice overview of my works, so you know what you want to read and what you don't.