Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling made this fic possible; she deserves her credit.
"Is this the moment?" Harry asked weakly…
It is a curious thing, that even while the world around you is spinning out of control, your mind allows you to relive events from your past. Even as you keep determined on completing a task, things move in slow motion, allowing you to see it things you would otherwise miss. And while you know that there should be misery around you, your heart pulls through and guides you to a moment where only bliss is present.
Hermione learned this as she and Ron made their way together down the corridor, both clutching the fangs of the Basilisk that they had retrieved from the Chamber of Secrets. For while she could hear the distant cries of the battle waging outside, and could see Harry hurrying towards them, demanding where they had gone, she held a focus on Ron.
She recalled how his eyes had lit up as he announced his plan of collecting the cursed fangs, grabbing her hand and pulling her after him. She remembered her awe as he mimicked the sounds of Parseltounge, allowing them inside, still his warm hand leading her way. How together they had collected the fangs, how she had destroyed the Horcrux made from Hufflepuff's cup, and how she could feel his body against hers as she clutched tightly to him as they rode the broomstick back up into the entrance in the bathroom. She breathlessly recounted those facts to Harry, with Ron also adding his bits. And as she did, she allowed herself to not only openly express how amazing Ron had been, but also allowed herself to think of other things…
As boom after boom shook the castle, and they followed Harry back to the Room of Requirement, her thoughts went back to everything she and Ron had ever gone through together.
Neville's grandmother appeared, but all Hermione saw was events from the previous years: Constant teasing and bickering over homework and pets. A fight after the Yule Ball. Kissing Ron on the cheek before a Quidditch match. The prospect of going to Slughorn's party together being painfully dashed as she sent yellow canaries at his face. The way he had held her at Dumbledore's funeral.
Tonks began to demand where Lupin was, but Hermione was thinking only of how she and Ron had spent a night holding hands until they had fallen asleep at Grimmauld Place. How later Ron affirmed that he would insist that she belonged with him should she be taken in for being Muggle-born, again with their hands clenching tightly together. How she had chased him through the rain, sobbing, begging him not to leave her.
Harry shouted after an escaped Ginny, and all Hermione saw was the sheepish expression that Ron had worn when he had returned from his self-exile, before she lost her self and began to hit him. She recalled how even through the pain of being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, she could her Ron screaming her name, keeping her strong and determined to stay alive for him. She revisited the feel of his hand in hers, the strong arms that had wrapped around her more than once over the year, and the many times he had protected and comforted her from the evil around them.
And then, Ron's voice broke into her thoughts.
"Hang on a moment! We've forgotten someone!"
"Who?" Hermione asked, confused. Surely everyone was aware of the war outside…
"The house-elves, they'll all be down in the kitchen, won't they?"
Despite the distant sounds of battle, Hermione had stopped listening to everything else. Nothing else mattered but what had just been said. She stared at Ron, in disbelief. Why was he thinking of the house-elves at a time other than dinner?
Harry seemed to consider the thought. "You mean we ought to get them fighting?" he asked, the slight confusion in his voice mirroring Hermione's.
"No," he said, so serious that Hermione knew at once that he was not trying to crack a joke. "I mean we should tell them to get out-"
Time began to slow down as her brain worked to keep up. He wanted to go to the kitchens, not for food, but to save the very elves that he had once mocked her for wanting to help. And all at once, Hermione truly saw that Ron was no longer the boy she had began to like in fourth year. He had by no means lost his carefree personality, but behind it, she could now clearly see the strong part that had grown behind it. After everything they had ever been through, everything she had just been reliving, both together and with Harry, he had fit nicely into the role, not of side-kick to the Chose One, but as a brave man whom she was in love with, who knew right from wrong, good from bad, and above all, the importance of love and life.
"We don't want any more Dobbies, do we?" he continued on. "We can't order them to die for us –"
And even with the uncertainty of what was going to happen in the future, Hermione Granger realized that she could no longer hide behind the simple touches, furtive looks, and unspoken words between her and Ronald Weasley. It may have worked for several years, but she was intent on ending it tonight.
Forgetting she had several poisoned fangs in her arms, forgetting than Harry was right in front of them, forgetting all she had ever known before, she did what she had been meaning to do for a long time.
She ran at Ron, and for a brief second, his blue eyes met hers and she could see the flash of burning emotion inside them, no doubt reflecting her own. As she wrapped her arms around his neck, she was briefly worried that she would feel him back away or try to resist her. But then her lips were fully covering his, a ringing in her ears as she felt his soft red hair brushing against her fingers lightly.
From a long way off, she heard a second clatter, as Ron immediately rid himself of his own items, and his long arms were wrapped around her waist. He was not holding her too tight, but confidently, bringing her flush against him, into the place where she was meant to fit. She felt his lips press eagerly back against her own and she could also feel her feet leave the ground. It was obvious that Ron had been waiting for this moment just as much as she had and would neither contain himself nor waste time acting surprised.
She thought she heard Harry say something, but it simply did not capture her attention. That was currently on the feel of Ron's mouth moving against her own, the way the warmth from his hands seemed to burn her through her clothes, the faint sound of his breathing brushing past her cheek. And she was not going to end it when it had just started.
Hermione held him tighter, wanting to bring him closer to her, as she intensified her kissing. Ron gripped her back and responded with equal force, causing the two of them to sway slightly on the spot, as their lips continued to meet again and again. This was what was supposed to be. This was what they were supposed to be doing. This was…
"OI! There's a war going on here!"
…evidently, not the right moment.
They broke apart, but neither submitted to letting go of the other.
"I know, mate," Ron replied to Harry, for Hermione could not find her voice, nor tear her eyes from Ron's. He was addressing Harry, but gazing only at her, his expression somewhere between a happy daze and an overwhelming sense of longing that only made Hermione want to kiss him even more.
"So it's now or never, isn't it?" He asked her plainly.
Harry naturally assumed Ron was talking to him, and answered in a half exaspparated shout. And even while the words "Horcrux" and "diadem" brought Hermione back to herself and where they were and what they were doing, she stared up at Ron, answering him with her eyes. There was no "now" and there was no "never"…it was, and always had been, "forever."
"Yeah-right-sorry-" Ron replied to Harry, and Hermione felt her face flushing as they slowly released their grip on each other. She glanced at Harry before she set about picking up the fangs and saw him roll his eyes, but she knew he wasn't too angry with them. Ron's hand had brushed hers as they reached around for their scattered objects, and they shared a final smile and look of yearning behind Harry's back as they followed him back through the corridors.
Yes, Hermione thought, as the present began to catch up with them at full speed. It was a curious thing how even when everything around you implies otherwise, there is always a moment that reminds you that not everything is as bad as it seems. Where unspoken words can be exchanged with a kiss. Where the agony around you is drowned out by the love of another.
According to Harry, that moment hadn't had the best timing…but for Ron and Hermione, it had finally been theirs.
Author's Note: Sad thing about having the books written primarily in Harry's perspective is that we miss out on thoughts like this. So…I took the liberty. :) And I must confess that this came out a tad longer than I expected and not quite the way I thought I would write it… but I do like it, lol. Let me know if you agree and review please!
Author's Note #2 on 9/2/07: I am quite honestly blown away with the response that I have gotten with this fic. I honestly thank each and every one of you who not only reads this, but has reviewed and fav'ed it thus far! Your endless reviews and encouragement have given me the endless urge to keep trying to give you good writing, so it's win-win! Thank you again. Truly. :)