Disclaimer: All rights to Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, and Warner Brothers. Definitely not to me. I also don't own the song "Will I Tell You?" from The Music Man by Meredith Willson.

Dreaming

Dream of now, dream of then.
Dream of a love song that might have been.

Hermione Granger awoke in her bed in the Sixth Year girls' dormitory at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She smiled, trying to hold on to the pleasant feeling of the dream that had wakened her. Right on the heels of pleasure, however, came a pang of guilt. Why did she always have to have that dream after she'd fought with Ron?

There were several variations, but the theme was always the same. She and Ron confessed their love for each other in some fashion. Sometimes, things got a bit more…physical, but she was pretty sure those were just hormones. This one had been quiet, simple, and sweet. Hermione sighed and began to close her eyes but then remembered the dream that always followed this one. In the other, much less pleasant dream, she was old, bitter, and alone. She definitely didn't want to slip into that, so she got up, put on her dressing gown and slippers, and headed down to the Common Room.

Hermione gazed out the window at the stars. For a moment, she wished she could join them and look down upon the earth instead of being part of it. "Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt," she thought sourly. She usually only quoted Shakespeare, even silently, when she was upset. She turned away and sat in a chair near the fire where she could watch the glowing embers.

Hermione was angry at herself for allowing the row with Ron to escalate as it had. She knew she was the more rational of the two, so why did she always rise to the bait during these arguments of theirs? Why did he make her so crazy, so out of control?

Do I love you? Oh yes, I love you.
And I'll bravely tell you, but only when we dream again.

She knew the answer to this, and it was excruciatingly simple. She was in love with him. That was the only possible explanation for her continuously losing her head when he was near. Hermione supposed that it had taken her so long to figure this out because she spent so much time analyzing other people's emotions that she tended to ignore her own. Also, she thought too much. At that moment, Hermione resolved to begin thinking less and feeling more.

The next question was whether Ron felt the same way. In fact, she was pretty sure that he did. So why couldn't they get their act together? Why did they always end up hurting each other?

Ginny had told Hermione that each of her brothers was thicker than the last, making Ron thickest of all. Ginny's advice was for Hermione to take some kind of action to let Ron know she was interested. For some reason, this was very difficult for Hermione. She didn't know why, but she could only boldly proclaim her love in her dreams.

A sound behind her caused her to turn in her chair. The very redhead who was keeping her up stood at the door to the boys' dormitory. He looked as though he had stopped mid-step when he saw her. He paused there at the door, perhaps trying to decide whether to stay or go. At last, he came into the room and closed the door behind him.

"I, er, couldn't sleep," he said.

"Me neither," Hermione replied. When he showed no sign of moving for several seconds, she added, "I'm sorry. About earlier."

Ron looked up at her, surprise written all over his face. Hermione felt another pang. Was it so rare for her to apologize to him? That was another thing she would have to work on, and she added it to her mental list.

"Yeah. Me too," he said, finally coming over to sit in a chair across from her. "Why do we always do that?"

Hermione nearly laughed at how close this came to her earlier musings. She knew, of course, but she wasn't quite ready to tell him.

"I think you should ask Ginny," she said instead.

"I did, actually. She said I should ask you."

Isn't that just like Ginny? Hermione thought.

"I don't have an answer for you," she said, which was technically true. There was a pause while they simply sat there, not looking at each other.

"Why do I always end up insulting you?" Ron said in frustration, breaking the silence. "I never mean to, but it just…happens!"

"Oh, well," said Hermione lightly. "I've done my share of insulting, too. Besides, if you'd never insulted me, we might not have become friends!"

Now, they looked at one another, sharing the memory. Hermione was well aware that, had it not been for Ron's thoughtless comment (as true as it had been hurtful) some five years ago, she might not have any friends at all.

Sweet and low, sweet and low;
How sweet that memory, how long ago.

Caught in the moment, and before she had time to think about it, Hermione laid her hand on Ron's, which was resting on his knee. Belatedly, it occurred to her that they had never really touched before, not like this. Well, it was too late to retreat now, and hadn't she just resolved to think less and feel more?

Hermione felt Ron's gaze on her, but she couldn't look at his face just now. Instead, she marveled at the contrast between her small, slender hand and his large, freckled one. So different, and yet they complemented each other nicely. Just like their owners, maybe. Hermione folded her fingers around his and began absently rubbing his knuckles with her thumb. His skin was surprisingly soft.

Ron gave a sharp intake of breath and let it out raggedly. Now, Hermione did look up at him. Their eyes met, and the devotion she saw pouring out of the blue depths of his gaze nearly made her tear up. Blue eyes always seemed to reveal more than dark ones, and Hermione was not sure now whether she was glad or not that her eyes were brown. What was he seeing?

Forever, ah yes, forever.

They held that pose for a long time; so long that Hermione became frightened. She wasn't really ready for all the things she was seeing. She saw forever in those eyes, and she wasn't quite ready for it. Dreams were one thing, but this….

Afraid she would drown in the layered pools of Ron's eyes, Hermione broke eye contact. To her surprise, she found that she was breathing fast. She made a conscious effort to slow down her respiration.

"Thank you, I think I can sleep now," she said and slowly withdrew her hand. Ron's hand followed hers out to the extent of his reach, but he made no attempt to pull her back when her fingertips at last stopped touching his. Without another word, Hermione fled through the door and up the stairs to her dorm.

Thus it was that only the sturdy oak door heard the whispered words of the room's sole remaining occupant: "I love you."

Will I ever tell you? Ah, no.

--

Author's Note: This was a little piece of irony I wrote after reading Order of the Phoenix. I got really frustrated with the way Rowling kept setting up perfect situations for these two and then blowing right by them, so I did one of my own, but with more introspection. This eventually launched a series of four oneshots featuring this couple; I will be posting the other three after I get a few reviews for this one.