By alloy (Beta: ScarlettB & Sandy)
Note: This happens on the second night when Ron was still in the infirmary after been poisoned. (in Half-Blood Prince)
The sound of your footsteps
Telling me that you're near
Your soft gentle motion, baby
Brings out the need in me that no-one can hear, except
In my midnight confessions
When I tell all the world that I love you
In my midnight confessions
When I say all the things that I want to
I love you
Extract from "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots
Ron opened his eyes, taking in the now all too familiar ceiling of the infirmary. He felt a hand resting in his own. There was no need to look, he knew perfectly well whose hand it was. She had been there when he had awoken earlier in the day. She had babbled about classes and homework, and how she would help him catch up, and about how lucky he was that Harry kept his head in an emergency.
Ron smiled to himself. Hermione had launched into a detailed description of her Arithmancy class, and the homework required, before she realized that Ron didn't take the class, and never had. She had halted in mid-sentence, embarrassed that her hand was still in his, that he was holding it tightly now that he was awake.
She made some excuse to go to the bathroom, but not before Ron had seen the tears in her eyes. She had been pale, too pale, even for her, and her steps as she left him were hesitant and stumbling.
"I love you," he had whispered as she closed the door to the infirmary behind her. His hand had felt quite empty without hers.
While he was sleeping she had returned. Her hand in his had banished nightmares of the giant chess sets, secret chambers, and the department of mysteries, and replaced them with an eternal summer at the Burrow with her and Harry and Ginny.
He wondered briefly how she could be here in the middle of the night, but he decided not to dwell on it. He held a supreme confidence in her abilities.
"I love you, Hermione Granger," he whispered, wishing he had the courage to say it to her properly, to her face.
"Then why are you snogging Lavender Brown?" came an unexpected reply.
Ron hadn't realized that she was awake, that she might hear his awkward confession.
"Because I'm a prat."
Hermione's voice was soft, hesitant. "I was so afraid I'd lost you."
The silence yawned between them, and Ron filled it by squeezing her hand, and received a short sharp squeeze in reply.
"I've been using Lavender to hurt you," Ron said.
Ron sat up, and instantly regretted it. A sharp pain seared behind his eyes. He gasped involuntarily and lay down again.
"Stupid boy." Hermione's face appeared before him; as she stood up, she briefly massaged his temples, and he felt the pain ease away. "Better?"
"Do you want another pillow?"
"You've been crying," he said as she fetched the pillow from a nearby bed.
"My best friend's a prat, wouldn't you?"
"I want to stop now."
"Being a prat? I don't think you can."
"No, I want to stop hurting you."
"I think you have."
They sat in silence.
"Why Lavender, Ron?"
"I reckon because she was available."
"Because she was willing to snog?"
"She gloated you know? In the girls dorm, about her 'Won Won', about how perfect you were for each other, how she was going to marry you." The tears started flowing down Hermione's cheeks. "It was awful. She doesn't understand you, not at all, and she wants to plan a life for you."
Hermione buried her face in his chest sobs racking her frame. "You didn't even ask me."
"I'm sorry," he said, placing his arms gently around her, "I just felt so left out. Slughorn inviting you and Harry to all his parties, and all the girls going crazy over Harry, even you said you fancied him. I guess I felt worthless, and when Ginny said you had snogged Viktor, I…I wanted to hurt you."
Hermione sniffed in a hard unladylike fashion, sitting back she tried to assume her normal manner.
"What am I going to do with you, Ron Weasley?"
Ron closed his eyes, and rolled onto his side, his back toward her. "You should leave me be," he said. "I'm not worth the effort."
He felt her hand on his shoulder. He expected her voice to be shrill, instead it was soft. "Don't try to manipulate me Ronald. I know you too well for that." She gently pulled him back over onto his back. "I know you far better than Lavender does."
Ron attempted a cocky grin. "'Cause you know everything."
She ignored him, held up her hand, and began ticking points off on her fingers
"In the first place, Ronald, I did not snog Vicktor Krum. He kissed me exactly twice, once before the ball, and once after. Both kisses were rather sloppy if I recall."
"Vicky not a great kisser then?"
"Shut up, Ronald!"
"In the second place, I do not, and have never fancied Harry. I merely pointed out that he was had become quiet attractive over the summer. As had you."
"You never said so."
Hermione flushed slightly and continued, "In the third place, I invited you to join me at Slughorn's party before you started snogging Lavender Brown!" She paused, waiting for him to respond, and after a moment continued.
"In the fourth place, Ronald, you are not worthless. You're funny, and clever, and loyal and…" Hermione's voice broke slightly,"…and the bravest man I know."
"Harry," said Ron flatly. "Harry's the bravest man you know."
"No, Ron," said Hermione bring a hand to his cheek. "I'm not saying Harry's not brave, but Harry doesn't seem to have much choice in what happens to him. You...you always choose to go with him."
Ron blushed, he wasn't sure if it was her words, or her touch.
"In the fifth place," Hermione said, her voice very uncertain now, "I'm in love with you."
"Mione?" he said voicing for the first time his secret endearment, lifting his hand to wipe the tear off her cheek. "I've really stuffed it up, haven't I?"
Hermione nodded, her eyes red, and wide.
"I don't love Lavender."
"You had better tell her, then."
"Mione, we…I mean us…I want to be with you."
She sighed. "I want that too, Ron."
"One day I want to get married, have a family."
"Most of us want that, Ron."
Ron sat up, grimacing as he did so, he gripped Hermione's arm, and held her eye. "I want my kids to be cleverer than me," he said.
"Lavender might not be your best choice, then."
Ron nodded and sank back onto his pillows.
"I rather fancy a little boy with red hair."
"I don't think Vicktor could help you there."
"I've got my eye on someone."
Hermione dropped her eyes to her lap, where her hands seemed to have a life of their own. "Ron. I'm not quite ready to go as far as Lavender. Not yet."
"We only snogged. You saw most of that anyway."
"Lavender said, that is she implied that…"
"She opened her shirt." Ron was crimson in the moonlight. "To show me her…"
"I ran away."
"You didn't look?"
"Of course I looked!" Ron spluttered. "But then I realized what it meant, what it could mean. Thank god Peeves saw us, and we had to duck for it."
"Ron, it's not that I don't want to, with you, it's just that I don't want it to be in a cupboard or a deserted classroom. I want it to be special."
"It will be, when we're ready."
Hermione sighed. "We need to be honest next time Ron. We can't keep on like this."
"Next time we fight."
"Will there be a next time?"
"Of course silly. I can't imagine us not fighting over something."
"Bit like my Mum and Dad."
Hermione suddenly giggled. "Do I really sound like your mum?"
"Sometimes, a little yeah. I like it actually."
"You like to be told what to do?"
"Well only by you, and I don't mind mum as much as I let on, and…" he spluttered to a halt, avoiding her eye.
"Go on Ron."
"McGonagall. She's a bit like a stern granny isn't she?"
Hermione giggled, and then suddenly covered her mouth, as she yawned.
"Go to bed, Luv."
She smiled at the endearment, and stood up.
"How about a goodnight kiss?" he asked hopefully.
"Have you spoken to Lavender?"
Ruefully he shook his head as she made her way to the nearby bed, wearily climbed into it.
"How did you get Madam Pomfrey to let you stay in the infirmary?"
"I had an anxiety attack while on prefect rounds"
"Clever of you to fake that," he said
Hermione rolled onto her side, and Ron could see the tears had once again begun to flow.
"I wasn't faking it."
To be continued.
Next: Scary Sometimes