Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine. If it was, I'd be rich, which I can assure you that I am most definitely not.
Summary: Following Fred's funeral, Ron and Hermione are finally given the chance and the time to explore their newly found relationship, but is actually being together as easy as they first thought it would be?
A/N: I'm sorry for the wait on this one, I'm back to work and things have been crazy over the past couple of days. Every time I've sat down to write, something else has come up and I've had to abandon it once more. Unfortunately, because of this, the chapter's no where near as long as I wanted it to be and seems a little staggered in places. I hope you still enjoy it though and don't start throwing the rotten fruit just yet.
After finally breaking the news to Mrs Weasley, dinner had been a very pleasant affair. They'd all sat around the table, passing dishes back and forth, and chatting about silly little things like the weather, the sudden flourish of business back in Diagon Alley and Mrs Tonks's gnome problem. It felt wonderful that for the first time in over three years the biggest problem in their lives were a few unwanted garden pests.
The biggest news was saved until they'd all (with the exception of Ron) finished eating, when Mr Weasley announced to the table that Mr Ollivander would be returning to his shop within the next couple of months.
Ron grinned, forgetting the fact his mouth was full of a fresh helping of mashed potato, and declared, 'Brilliant, it's about time I got a new one! Using that two-faced, traitorous, scumbag's wand was starting to get old.'
A rather uncomfortable silence fell over the table. Percy cleared his throat and then began to polish his glasses on his robes as if nothing had happened. Mrs Weasley jumped to her feet, grabbed the gravy boat and did the only thing she could think of, asking with gusto, 'Anyone for seconds?' Several hands shot up and the awkwardness fell away, dishes and plates doing the rounds once more, cutlery scraping against china as people began to eat again.
For the couple of hours following, Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny sat in the garden playing with Teddy. Mrs Weasley, Mrs Tonks and Fleur watched from a bench near the kitchen door, sipping on glasses of icy pumpkin juice. For the most part, it was quite funny watching Harry trying to play Godfather. He wasn't particularly good with children, having had no practise. As usual, Hermione took the no-nonsense approach, telling him and showing him exactly what to do and criticising his technique.
At around four that afternoon, Ron trudged down the staircase with a trunk in a tow and a heavy travelling cloak. Hermione sent him straight back upstairs with a recently transfigured suitcase and a light jacket. 'We're going to be in the company of Muggles in Australia, Ronald,' she'd said, 'not witches and wizards in the middle of a snowstorm.' He missed the giggle and adoring look she gave him as he turned on his heel.
Following that he'd simply given up and let her dress him instead. He had to admit, it was a whole lot easier that way.
At five they finally said their goodbyes and Hermione led Ron to a spot in the middle of the garden, barking instructions as they went. They planned to Apparate to Grimmauld Place and then catch an underground train to Heathrow airport. Ron was particularly anxious about this and had spent a good thirty minutes asking Harry for advice. Hermione, however, had been more concerned that he would do a 'Mr Weasley' and get overexcited. He reassured her that he wouldn't.
Upon reaching the airport Ron found himself slightly overwhelmed, so settled for following Hermione around and only speaking when spoken to. He hadn't realised quite how complicated Muggles made the whole ordeal of flying to another country.
There had been a minor delay moments before checking in their baggage when he decided he'd rather keep his wand with him than in his suitcase. He saw no reason why he couldn't keep it with him. Hermione sighed and then repeated for the fifth time that afternoon why the wand had to stay where it was. It seemed a ridiculous reason to him, if Muggles didn't know about them, how could they possibly class a wand as a weapon? What on earth did they think he'd do with it? The argument carried on for a good ten minutes, right up until Hermione hissed at him to be quiet and told him exactly where he could stick his wand if he didn't give it a rest.
Unfortunately for Hermione, that hadn't been the end, the moment they sat down on the plane Ron officially lost it and spent the next two hours exclaiming over and jabbing at the recently installed in-seat video system.
Hermione had made the decision that they would fly straight there, merely changing at each airport and not bothering to stop the night anywhere. By the time they boarded their flight at Singapore; Ron was exhausted and had fallen asleep straight away. He knew this because Hermione had taken great pleasure in poking him in the ribs to announce that his snoring had disturbed half of the cabin. Yet, glancing around, no one appeared to be showing the slightest interest in either of them. He came to the conclusion the only one his snoring had disturbed had been Hermione herself.
They had been travelling for almost two days when they finally arrived in Alice Springs and it took another hour to find their hotel. Both tired and irritable, Ron only aided in riling Hermione up that little bit more by taking charge of unlocking the door. This took him well over five minutes. Key cards; now they were interesting.
At approximately 7pm (Australian time) on the second day, Ron collapsed onto his bed with a heavy and weary sigh. 'I have no desire to ever do that again,' he grunted, closing his eyes and burying his head in the fluffy white pillows.
'We can't Apparate home; I've already told you that.'
On the other side of the room, Hermione had placed her suitcase on her bed and was in the process of laying out pyjama's, towels and wash cloths. She didn't bother to look up when he groaned in protest.
'Fine,' Ron mumbled.
Rolling onto his side, with his back to her, he let a breath go, allowing himself to relax for a short while. They may have slept in the same room before, but it still made for an awkward situation, Harry had always been there at the time, too. It didn't help that Ron found himself pining after Hermione whenever she left the room. Adjoining bedrooms had been suggested; only she had disregarded that idea immediately, saying how it would be silly to shell out the extra money when they were quite capable of sharing.
The seconds slipped away into minutes and the minutes into hours and Ron had no idea how long he lay there, silent and completely motionless. At one point, when night had fallen and the room lay in complete darkness, he risked turning back over so that he could watch Hermione sleeping soundlessly in the bed beside his. He couldn't see her face; she too had turned away and pulled the covers up to her chin.
Trying to be as quiet as possible, he sat up groggily, brushing his hair from his face, his eyes darting around the in shadows as he gained his bearings once more. He moved off the edge of the bed, stretched and yawned, and then crept across the room to where he had placed his suitcase.
He dug out a thick jumper, roughly pulled it over his head and tiptoed out onto the balcony, perching on the edge of a chair. Resting his elbow on the table beside him, he propped his head up on his hand, his eyes focused hazily on the lights below as he surrendered to his thoughts.
Ron hadn't been this tired in a long time, but he still couldn't bring himself to sleep just yet. He knew why he couldn't sleep of course. He'd known for a while. The time drew closer when he would loose Hermione. They had spent the past year together, barely leaving one another's side and then tomorrow, that would all be over, she'd go back to her parents and he'd go back to his and the journey would end. He couldn't bear for her to abandon him like that; he needed her too much for things to simply go back to the way they were before.
Of course, saying all of this to her, he found difficult. It would take time and careful planning, he would have to pick the right moment and say the right things and Ron wasn't entirely sure he had it in him.
He knew one thing though, it didn't hurt anyone to try, and after all they'd been through together, it was the least he could do. He had offered to come with her for a reason, to prove that he would stand by her no matter what and that he cared. He would be there until the end no matter what happened.