Ron trudged up the grassy knoll where Hermione sat under a cloudy blue sky with her back against the trunk of a tree. He stopped when he got to the top. His throat felt tight.
Even though she didn't turn to look at him or make any indication that she noticed his presence, he could tell that she knew he was there. She sat so still that a white butterfly landed on her knee, its fluttering wings slowing until they stopped, emphasizing the stillness. Hermione's back was stiff as a board, her shoulders straight, and her bare feet flat on the grass, legs slightly bent beneath her robes.
When Hermione's posture was that perfect, it usually meant that she was angry and regally trying not to show it. Ron felt his shoulders drooping as he tried to make himself smaller. He was such a git. He was always making her angry, usually without realizing how or why.
"Oh, er, hey," he said, and smiled even though she wasn't looking at him. His smile felt like something a child would draw on parchment with a crayon, but he stretched it as wide as he could in the hopes that bigger would look more authentic. All he could see was the back of her head and the crinkles of brown curls billowing like a cloud just below her shoulders. "Hermione?"
When she didn't answer, he felt his face sag, the smile slipping as his lips drooped into a pensive, anxious sort of frown. The change in their relationship was so new, and it seemed as if he was continuously screwing it up. Burying his hands in his pockets, Ron hunched his shoulders and shuffled toward her. When he reached her shoulder, he thought about touching her, but she was so stiff that he hunkered down beside her instead, crouching on the grass and playing with the daisies sprouting out of the soil between his feet.
He squatted like that for several minutes, until his legs started to cramp, and wondered why she was so intent on punishing him with this unbearable frosty silence. Hermione's not speaking to him was torturous. Sure, they argued a lot, but usually it was about her mental need to follow the rules and wanting him to do the same. It had once crossed his mind that Hermione depended on his not listening to her from time to time because the constant challenge put a spark in her otherwise predictable day. Even so, he thought she understood how much he needed her, that she was his greatest source of comfort and security; she was like family to him. He loved her. He just wanted things to be like they were.
"Look, Hermione," he began, and took a deep breath. It had taken him a long time to learn how to apologize, but if he didn't he was going to spend all of his time moping and sighing and grumbling, and compared to that, apologizing seemed like a small sacrifice to make. It seemed a little dumb to him sometimes—he rarely understood why she was mad—but it was important to Hermione and she was important to him.
"I'm really sorry," he finished, and even managed to say it without mumbling.
She still didn't answer. Not knowing what else to do, he leaned forward on the balls of his feet and tried to sneak a peek at her face.
Her head swiveled away from his scrutiny, curls bouncing forward to block his view of her face so suddenly that it startled him. It was an uncharacteristically immature response, and Ron was not expecting it. As a result, he shifted too far forward and toppled off his feet, catching himself by planting both knees in the grass and staining his robes.
Grimacing, Ron readjusted himself to sit cross-legged on Hermione's left. Of course, being ignored made him nervous and he found himself drumming his fingers against his knee and trying to occupy his mind with any stray thought that flitted by. He took note that the butterfly had taken flight and zoomed out of sight. There was also a new scuff mark on one of Hermione's shoes. For a while he sat blowing air into his cheeks and wondering if it made him look like a fish. Any deeper level of thought just made him start to feel awful. Hermione wouldn't even look at him, and he didn't know what to do. Should he buy her a present? Give her some flowers? That stuff never seemed to go over well when Ronald Weasley was the one doing it. Should he sit here until she caved in? Speculation was no good. He had better either stop thinking all together or say something to remedy this situation quickly.
"Hermione," he tried again. "That was a dumb thing that happened earlier. It was just my pride talking and I know I shouldn't have acted that way. You were right to tell me off. I shouldn't have got upset and yelled at you."
Still no response.
"Can I make it up to you?"
Ron was starting to sweat. He was getting desperate enough to be utterly honest. "Look, Hermione. You've probably realized this, but I'm a really stupid boyfriend. You've gotta help me out here. I know I acted like a show-off. I am sorry, though. I know I always say that, but you've got to believe me. Really."
As he was speaking, she moved, pulling her knees into her chest and drawing her arms in so that he could see her right hand gripping her left elbow until the knuckles turned white. Oh hell, he was making it worse. He still couldn't see her face, but she seemed to be shaking. He hoped she didn't explode and start screaming at him like his mother did when he shirked his chores.
He was unable to think of anything more to say. He already felt embarrassed from having said this much with no response; anything more and he would probably just be making an ass of himself. Why did girls have to be such a bother? Why couldn't Hermione just sock him in the face when she was mad so that they could get on with things? In the past, he would have just asked Hermione how to deal with an enraged female, but now that they were in a relationship that didn't seem to work so well anymore, and every guess Ron made to try to keep Hermione happy seemed to make things worse.
The butterfly that had been on Hermione's knee flew past his left ear and distracted him for a moment. He watched it amble through the air on swift-beating wings, fluttering aimlessly within inches of his face. As he watched, he made a decision. Since she didn't seem to want to talk, he would leave her alone. With a sigh he hoped she wouldn't mock him for later, he started to get up.
A little sound that emitted from Hermione lips stopped him from rising completely, and he turned to look at her. It was the first clear glimpse he had gotten of her face. But when he saw her profile turn halfway toward him, he did a double-take, distressed to see that tears stained her cheeks; her eyes were red, her lower lip puffy, and her expression so long all the sadness in the world could have been contained in it.
Ron didn't say anything. His response was automatic. Scooting closer to her, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. With his left hand, he softly touched her hair, and although he didn't apply any pressure, her head plopped onto his shoulder. He sat straighter when it did, prouder and bolder, feeling more certain that he had done the right thing. Snuggled into the nook of his chest and arm, all the stiff tension seemed to flow out of her body.
Hermione didn't speak and Ron was glad, because he wouldn't have known what to say. A moment ago, all he had wanted was her forgiveness. Now all he wanted was to make her stop crying, even if she had to go back to being mad at him. Even so, holding Hermione at his side with her head on his shoulder, sad or not, made everything feel right.
After a moment, her heard Hermione sigh and straighten a little.
"What did I do?" he asked anxiously.
"Oh, Ron! Don't be stupid. I'm the prat here. You didn't do anything."
Though her lip quivered as she raised her head, she sounded like her usual self. He was partially relieved by her oh-so-certain tone, but he was also a bit baffled because it was such an unusual thing for her to say.
When she sighed again, it was with her usual exasperation, but she smiled at him beneath blotchy cheeks and moistened eyes.
"I've been such a wreck all afternoon," she confessed. "I can't believe I chastised you over something so stupid in front of everyone. Just because I don't care for Quidditch doesn't mean that you don't have a right to be proud of it. You've worked so hard, and it serves those hecklers right to have it shoved in their faces. They ought to be hexed, and all you did was brag a little."
"So you're not mad?" he said anxiously.
Hermione scrubbed a hand across her eye and smiled at him. "No, I'm not mad at all," she said. "Not at you anyway. I don't like that you yelled at me, but I was madder at myself for deserving it. I just didn't want you to know how upset I was."
"Oh, it's okay," he said. He felt a bit foolish, but Hermione fit snuggly under his arm, and with her head on his chest and the scent of her shampoo in his nose, all his other thoughts seemed to melt away. He stared over her curls and watched the clouds meander across the sky, floating by like blobs of fluffy white cotton. It was a rather pretty day to be out together on a hilltop.
A/N: I find Ron's POV challenging. I've never written these characters before so I hope they came out okay! Reviews are appreciated. Detailed responses are encouraged! Thank you very much for reading.