I've got absolutely no clue when this is supposed to be set. Its 7th year, and thats all I know, except that its Christmas Eve. I just had this cute little Ron/Hermione moment come to me. Enjoy.
(This fic is best read to Lifehouse's songs 'Storm' or 'Everything'. Or both.)
I do not own these characters. I just like to play with them. Like puppets.
The late night fire warmed Hermione's legs gently as she sat by it, carefully combing the words of the book. Late at night was usually when she worked best, but tonight just felt different. Maybe it was all of the pine branches that decorated the hearth for Christmas, or the tall Christmas tree she and Ron had decorated together on the first day of the holidays that stood in the corner. Though she was soaking in every word of the fresh new book she had found at the back of the library earlier that day, there was a cozy sort of air to the evening. The squashy armchair that had been unofficially named hers seemed to swallow her body whole, which was no mean feat. At five feet and six inches to spare, Hermione had grown into a curvy, beautiful young woman, though she herself rarely thought so.
With a quiet yawn, she slid even deeper into the chair. The feeling of Christmas Eve had overcome her, and she simply wanted to stay awake enjoying it. Her well trained eyes continued across the lines of text without skipping a beat, and she hear the sounds of footsteps behind her. Familiar footsteps.
"I hear you, Ronald," she said, looking up with her honey-colored eyes.
Without looking she bookmarked her page and turned to kneel in her chair, her torso against the back. Ron was standing at the food of the stairs to the boy's dorms. He was wearing his old cannons t-shirt that Hermione knew he usually just reserved for sleeping and a pair of well worn jeans. She expected something had driven him from bed.
The firelight danced on Ron's face, reflecting all the tones of red in his hair as it hung in his face. Hermione couldn't help but find a warm smile for him. He could be a jerk, but when she really thought about it, she always came back to Dumbledore's funeral and how he had held her as he cried. All the immaturity she saw from him in their every-day lives fell away when she thought of the young man who had stroked her hair and whispered quiet comforts to her on that solemn early summer day.
"I didn't know you were up," he said, his voice noticeably deeper than it had been months ago.
"Its all right. I was just thinking about going to bed," she said. Ron moved closer and Hermione was suddenly aware of how boring her pajamas were and how frizzy her hair must be. Her robe lay beside her on the chair and she thought momentarily of pulling it on, but that would look so... so prudish...
"Don't," Ron said, "Not just yet. I want to show you something".
Hermione furrowed her brow a bit, confused. What could he possibly want to show her at... she looked at the clock... one thirty? The castle was locked down and silent.
"What is it?" she asked.
Ron just took her hand. It was a common action these days, though they weren't actually together. Hermione supposed she liked it that way. Why did she need a label on something she was comfortable with?
Still, the warmth of Ron's hand send little tingles down her back. She smiled at him again, and Hermione was well aware of the fact that it was a smile only he knew, and that the soft look he was giving her was all her own.
"You'll see. Just... trust me?" he said. It shouldn't have been a question. After everything they had been through, how could she not trust him?
"All right", she said, sliding from her chair without letting go of his hand. Ron wrapped Harry's invisibility cloak around their shoulders and pulled the hood up. It was hard to ignore the close proximity that they were in. Hermione could feel Ron pressed against her side, his arm casually draped around her waist as they left the Gryffindor tower and headed downstairs.
In all of the confusion of the war and death, the Weasley family had decided it was best for Ron to stay at Hogwarts and Hermione couldn't leave him there alone. God only knew where Harry was. The thought of Ron alone on Christmas day in the deserted Gryffindor tower was more than Hermione could handle, so she had stayed.
"Where are we going?" Hermione whispered.
Ron held his finger to his lips, obviously intent on silencing her. In the dark, Hermione wasn't sure where they were going, so she submitted to just following Ron's guiding hand on her side. That sense of not having to think about where she was going allowed her mind to wander, and it tripped over how horrible she was sure she looked and how fat she looked in her pajamas. A size 12 just wasn't what was "in".
All Hermione's life there was someone better than her. Someone prettier like Lavender or bolder like Parvati. There was always someone quicker like Hannah or sexier like Fleur. Hermione was the odd ball out... she had the brains but lacked the boldness and charisma that it took to get attention or to have her voice be heard. Her facade fell at the most inconvenient moments, and this was one of them.
Hermione gasped when Ron led her to the front doors of the castle and opened one of them, leading her outside.
It was the most breathtaking sight she had ever seen. The first snow was falling softly from the sky. Nearly an inch was all ready on the ground. She looked around, seeing the usually ghost-like trees covered in white powder, illuminated by the light of the near-full moon. Hagrid's hut, visible off in the distance, looked very much like a gingerbread house laced in icing.
Ron looked down at her unsurely, taking the inviability cloak from around their shoulders. The cold air slid right through the thin fabric of Hermione's pajamas and she shivered, wrapping her arms around herself. Ron quickly wrapped her robe around her shoulders. She hadn't even noticed that he had taken it...
"Thank you," she said, looking down. Her slippers looked so bright and pink against the perfect snow. Ron moved away from her, and she looked up, seeing him walking across the snow and out of the shadow of the castle, into the moonlight.
Ron had no idea what he was doing. It was on a whim that he had stolen Harry's cloak to go down and watch the snow fall on the school grounds. He hadn't even thought twice until he got down to the common room and saw Hermione curled up in her chair. He wondered if she knew how long he had stood there watching her from around the corner. She looked so intelligent and vulnerable sitting there, alone by the roaring fire. It had filled him with a want to protect her and make sure she was happy --- a want he didn't truly understand.
He had taken her hand and guided her with him downstairs, but what now? What was he supposed to do, alone, on a perfect night with the girl he had cared so much for on so many levels for seven years? Walk away from her? Let her enjoy the night alone? Or try to forge a relationship he was sure she didn't want? Would trying to move further push her away from him instead?
Then Ron was faced with the question he had asked himself many times before where Hermione was concerned: Was their friendship more important than him wondering for the rest of his life what could have been if he had only looked at her a different way on that snowy night?
Ron turned around to look at her, seeing how the snow fell into her hair and how it seemed to swirl around her as though she was some magical force that altered how it fell. Ron stood in awe for a moment, watching her watching him. He wasn't sure what the look she was giving him was, though. Over the past seven years, Ron expected that he had seen all of Hermione's expressions, but this one was one he had never, ever seen before.
"Um... I just... I looked outside and I thought it was pretty, so I thought I'd come down here..", he stammered. Ron had never been easy with words --- just like with everything else in his life, he was clumsy with them.
Hermione smiled that warm smile again, and Ron swore that the snow should have meted all around her. His brown eyes rested on hers and Ron again weighed their situation. Without taking the time to think about it, he moved towards her.
Ron's hands felt too warm... he could feel the color rising on his cheeks. His eyes burned and his mind went blank as he got lost in Hermione's eyes. They were so close now... only a foot apart. That gap still felt so far apart... but so close at the same time. The moonlight danced on her face as though it belonged there.
In all the imperfections that Ron had known for so long, she seemed so beautiful. A quiet sort of calm settled over them, and he took a moment to marvel at how perfect the silence between them felt. There was nothing left to say... only things left to feel...
Hermione's heart pounded as she looked into Ron's eyes. He was so close... she wondered what he was going to do. She wondered if he was going to kiss her or if he was going to simply stare at her until morning came. The time they spent simply looking at one another seemed to last an eternity... and it seemed so fleeting all at once. The world around them was falling apart. Each moment felt like it could be their last, but when she was with Ron, none of that mattered.
Wasn't that what mattered? Having that person that made it all go away? Wasn't that what made love worth feeling? Wasn't that what she wanted..?
For years Hermione had fought the feelings she had towards Ron. But how could she? When each day could be her last, how could she ignore the beauty of what she and Ron could have?
All of these questions weighed so heavily on her mind, and yet they felt so insignificant at the same time. In the cold, she felt warm. In the confusion, she felt peace. When she felt lost, he found her. When she was confused, he made her feel that there would come a day when everything would be okay...
Ron's hand found hers, and in the most innocent, sweet gesture Hermione could imagine, she felt him feel over her fingers as though memorizing hers. She felt his fingertips tracing the lines on her palm, the pads of his fingers carefully pressed against her own, and her eyes did not leave his face.
The simple action of noticing something as small and seemingly unimportant as her hands was so touching that it brought tears to her eyes. When Ron looked back up at her, his red hair still falling into his eyes as it had the way she had come to know and love, a calm look of alarm reached his face, and he drew her closer, his one, strong arm wrapped around her, his free hand coming up to touch the curls falling around her face.
"Whats wrong?" he asked. It was a voice Hermione didn't know. It wasn't his unsure voice, or his lost voice or his worried voice. She knew all of them too well. It wasn't his courageous voice or his trying-to-be-funny voice. Hermione thought, or hoped, that it was his caring voice. Perhaps it was the voice he would someday use with his children...
"You make it all go away...", Hermione said, her face tilted up so she could see his. Ron looked confused, and she suddenly wondered if there was any way she could possibly put into words the peace he gave her when he was there.
"Everything's so crazy, and I'm so scared... but when you're here it just doesn't seem so bad."
Ron leaned forward and for a moment, she thought he was going to kiss her. But he didn't, and she felt his warm lips on the places where her tears had spilled over. Hermione shut her eyes and let go of all her worries. They seemed so insignificant with Ron there, making her feel all of these powerful things she didn't know. She wanted to keep him safe and to be the person he came to when the world seemed to be crashing down. She wanted to be his everything.
"I'm scared too", he whispered, his cheek pressed softly against hers. More tears fell from her eyes, and she could feel Ron's on her skin too. It struck her strangely that their closest moment in seven years was the one that brought him to tears.
Another moment of silence fell around them again and Hermione found herself unable to feel the cold. She couldn't feel anything but Ron close to her. That was all she wanted to feel, was him holding her, because if he let go of her, the world could fall apart and the mountains could fall. After a few moments, it was Ron who spoke first.
"But I'll take care of you. And you'll take care of me. Thats just how we are. In any storm, I'll find you, and I'll keep you safe. I know it sounds lame," he said, pulling away just enough to look into her eyes again, "but its true. Whether or not you want me to be, I'll always be here for you".
Her eyes didn't seem to be enough to soak him in anymore. Without a word, she stood on her toes and brushed her lips against Ron's lightly. After, she pulled back and looked into his eyes again, as though asking him if that was what he wanted too. The warmth that radiated from him drew her in again, and she kissed him, completely giving in.
Ron wasn't sure what to do, but he didn't care. The uncertainty of what was coming next was all a part of having Hermione in his life. It was what he loved about her.
Without even calculating, Ron wrapped both his arms around her waist and picked her up. It broke the seriousness of the moment as she giggled against his lips, wrapping her legs around his waist to support herself. They broke apart a moment later, and Ron found himself looking up into Hermione's eyes. She was grinning, which in turn made him smile. The snowflakes fluttered around them as though dancing in happiness for their moment of comfort.
Ron spun her around, elated in every way. It was a perfect night in a place he loved with a girl he knew everything about and still loved. No words were necessary, feeling was all they needed.
Her arms tightened around his shoulders as he held her up, though he felt her shiver a bit. He looked up at her once again, tilting his head.
"Are you cold?" he asked her. She gave him a little nod, and with only a little strain, Ron walked her into the castle. He would gladly bear her weight any day.
"The cloak," she said quietly, pointing to the invisibility cloak laying forgotten on the snow. Reluctantly, Ron set her down and she waited for a moment as he gathered it into his arms, carrying it back to her and wrapping them both in it.
It took them longer than usual to return to the Gryffindor tower, due to the random stops along the way for kisses. Each time Hermione would giggle defiantly, and Ron would grin. The silent corridors seemed welcoming; a deviance from their usual air of danger in the absence of light.
When they finally did get back to the common room, after a moment of coaxing the Fat Lady into letting them back in, Ron was hesitant about parting from Hermione to go to bed. He couldn't have loved her more as he watched her pick up her blanket from the floor and motion for him to join her.
Ron sat down in the corner of the couch as he was instructed to do by Hermione's directing finger. He kicked off his shoes and stretched out, shrugging as though asking her why. She was just looking at him now, which was quite unlike Hermione when she was being bossy. After just a moment, she slid onto the couch beside him, covering them up. Ron was more than glad to lay there with her, feeling her skin warm as she laid her head on his chest.
A silent agreement was met between them, Ron felt, and they remained silent. Eventually, she fell asleep, and Ron just watched over her for a while, taking in the soft blue tint her eyelids had and how her fingers twitched as she dreamed. He hoped what ever she was seeing in her dreams was happy. He hoped that what ever she thought of him... what ever expectations she had... he could meet. He had little to offer her but what he could give her without money, but he hoped she would understand how much he cared for and that his love would be enough.
When morning came, Hermione was grateful that it was the Christmas holidays. There had been no one to wake them or wonder why they were asleep together on the couch. She awoke peacefully to feel Ron's gentle breathing under her, and she looked up to see that he was asleep, his head resting on a dilapidated pillow that Hermione was sure was older than he was.
In a moment, she knew, he would wake. He would rub his eyes and look around confused. Hermione watched him, savoring the few seconds she would have to see him completely at peace and comfortable.
Just as she had expected, he woke with a slight jolt and looked around quickly, unsure of where he was. Hermione seized the moment before he saw the piles of presents that had magically appeared by them overnight, to capture his lips in what would be their first good-morning-kiss. The first of many, she hoped. He was surprised at first, but it seemed to take him only a moment to remember last night and that magical night in the snow. As Hermione felt his arms close around her securely, she knew that; despite all the things she had learned in the walls of this school, and with all the things she had faced in her trials with Harry, Ron, the Order and the D.A.; that for the first time last night, she had seen real magic.