This is my version of what happened down in the Chamber of Secrets. This has not been beta read, so please forgive any errors. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, the situation, or a good bit of the end dialogue. They are taken from JK Rowling's fabulous book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Waiting for the Moment
Ron watched Harry leave the Room of Requirement with Luna, and then turned to Hermione.
"Do you think they'll find out where the diadem is?" he asked her in an undertone, pulling her back into an alcove between two of the make-shift bunk beds. He watched her lips purse and her forehead crease as she thought it through.
"Maybe," she said slowly, and he could almost hear the wheels turning in her head. "But Ron, even if they do find it – how are we going to get rid of it? We don't have Gryffindor's sword any longer. I mean, we still have Hufflepuff's cup, don't we? And we haven't any leads on how to get rid of it yet."
"Well," he replied, "Let's go over that list of what can destroy a Horcrux again."
"Like I said before, only a very few things. Things that are hard to find – and often very Dark as well, like the worst curses and such – and Ron, we really were lucky that Harry killed the basilisk with Gryffindor's sword back in the Chamber of Secrets second year. If he hadn't used it back then, the venom wouldn't have made the sword strong enough to destroy them—"
Oh well, lucky we've got such a large supply of basilisk fangs, then...
"Hermione, that's it!"
"The basilisk! It's still in the Chamber of Secrets! We just need to get some of its fangs – no one else has been down there, they won't have removed it!"
Hermione looked strangely pleased.
"Yes! Ron, that's it! Let's go," she squealed and grabbed him by his robes. Ron was slightly shocked at her response, but allowed himself to be dragged along. The two of them were almost to the door of the Room of Requirement when Ginny asked in a suspicious voice,
"Where are you two going?"
They looked at each other for a moment. Hermione shook her head slightly.
"Erm... we're just off to the bathroom for a bit. Be right back."
Ron grabbed a broom, resting against the wall, and hastily pulled Hermione through the door. As the door was closing, he heard Neville's voice echoing faintly – "Did they say they were going to the bathroom? And why did they take Seamus' broom?"
The two of them raced silently off towards Myrtle's bathroom, which was on the second floor. The path was not very direct, and they were constantly glancing around for anyone who might be patrolling the halls. At one point, when they had just reached the third floor, Ron caught Hermione glancing at him. He grinned back at her, feeling suddenly lighthearted, even in the midst of what he knew to be a serious moment. For some reason it felt like they were kids again, running off on one of their adventures. Ron hadn't felt so good since... well, since right after Hermione had asked him to Slughorn's Christmas party. He felt positively giddy. She must have felt that way as well, for she burst into a small fit of hysterical giggles. They were short-lived, however, because the next thing they heard was an old, familiar voice saying, "Who's there! Students aren't allowed out, I'll have you punished for this..."
It was Filch, the caretaker. Hermione gasped softly, and the two of them glanced around for a place to hide. They were not used to roaming the corridors without either the Invisibility Cloak or the Marauder's Map.
"Quick, in here," Hermione hissed. She dragged Ron back into one of the rooms, where she began to put up all of their protective charms they had used during their months of camping.
Their hearts were racing, and they were both gasping for air. He had let the broom fall to the floor, and Hermione was partially bent over with one hand on her side. Ron was glad, not for the first time, that Hermione was such an amazing witch. He was even more grateful of this when, the next moment, Mr. Filch opened the door. He and Hermione tensed, and instinctively moved closer to each other. Ron was standing in front of her, in a protective stance, and one of Hermione's hands was digging into the back of Ron's left shoulder. Her other hand was grasping the bicep on his wand arm. He thought for a moment of brushing her hand off. If it came down to it, he would Stun the caretaker, and he needed his wand arm free to do that. But Ron knew that Filch couldn't see them – he was a Squib, and Hermione's charms would work even on wizards – but that didn't stop his heart from racing. They hardly dared to breathe as Filch examined the room.
"I saw you come in here," he said in his gravelly voice. "Don't try to hide from me now."
There was really no place to hide in the room. It was barren, except for...
"Gone down the trapdoor, eh?" he cackled. He casually lifted the door, and then let it fall back with a slam as something insidious and very plantlike came creeping up out of it. Hermione's death-grip on him increased three-fold. "Well then. Have a good night," he said, sounding pleased. "Come on, Mrs. Norris."
As soon as they had left, Hermione let out a squeak of indignation. "The horrible, horrible man! To just leave them to the Devil's Snare? What a nasty, filthy, awful—"
"Hermione, no one was down there."
"Yes, but he didn't know that!" She was nearly spitting fire. Ron turned around, gently prying her fingers off of him and surveyed the room again.
"I suppose we're lucky that Hagrid moved Fluffy," he mused. She nodded, looking up at him. Some of the fire was fading from her eyes. "It's strange, isn't it, to come back here... After all this time..."
He felt so distant from Hogwarts, having been gone all year. Fluffy, the Philosopher's Stone – all of it felt so far away for him.
"It's like—" Hermione whispered, "—we've come full circle."
Ron cupped her face in his hands, suddenly wanting to be closer to her. They stared into each other's eyes for a moment, lost in the memories of seven years of friendship. And the two – three – five – or more years of... something more. Or perhaps he was just imagining that last part. Ron had finally admitted to himself that he was desperately in love with her, but that didn't mean she felt the same way.
After you left, she cried for a week... She's like my sister... I thought you knew...
Ron shook himself out of his reverie.
"Basilisk fangs," he whispered. "Remember?"
Hermione dropped her gaze, a faint blush rising in her cheeks. "Right," she said. "We have to go to the Chamber."
This is not the moment, he told himself, bending over to pick up the broomstick again. Hermione was removing their charms. Ron made sure that he was the one to peek out of the room to be sure the coast was clear. It was, and they resumed their silent, hurried run.
When they made it down to Myrtle's bathroom, they both stared at the sink for what felt like a full minute. Ron's spirits had come crashing down. He was such an idiot.
"We don't speak Parseltongue," she said, disappointed. "Maybe we should go back and get Harry—"
"No, we've already wasted enough time."
"But Ron, how are we going to get in?"
Ron thought for a moment, for some reason sure that they could manage it. They would be able to get in. If only he could remember what Harry had said when they he had opened the Chamber five years ago. And then it came to him –
"Hemione, I remember! Back in the forest, when Harry was opening the locket Horcrux, he had to use Parseltongue! I remember what he said!"
"Ron," she looked slightly apprehensive, "do you really think that will work? Just imitating Parseltongue? It's a very complicated language..."
Ron's mouth formed a grim line. "Probably not. But it's worth a try, isn't it?" Hermione nodded silently.
Ron took himself back to the forest. What had Harry said? It had sounded something like...
Still nothing. Ron sighed, and ran a hand through his hair.
When the Chamber still didn't open, Ron shook his head. "Maybe you were right, Hermione. Maybe we should just go back and get Harry."
"No... we have time. Give it a few more tries. You sound very much like Harry does... I bet you're really close to getting it."
He nodded and tried again. "Ssssthssh" One after the other, he kept trying, hoping to finally land on one that was just what Harry had said.
Ron fell back in shock as the sink slowly moved aside, just as he remembered it doing, to reveal a pipe. He shuddered slightly at the horrible memories of going down there with Professor Lockhart and Harry, in search of Ginny.
"You did it!" Hermione cried, jumping up and down and throwing herself at him for a quick hug. "Oh Ron! That was brilliant! Come on, let's go down."
And before Ron could stop her, she was sliding down the pipe. Ron had the sudden urge to yell at her to close her eyes if she saw anything move, but then remembered that the basilisk was dead. It was dead, and he, Ron, had opened the Chamber of Secrets. With a whoop of glee, he followed her down the pipe. He flew out of the end of the pipe and into the storage room, this time partially obstructed by the cave-in. He stumbled slightly on the way out, and bumped into Hermione.
"Oof!" he cried. "Eh... sorry."
She brushed off her robes and looked around her. "Not the cheeriest place, isn't it?" she remarked. Her wand was lit, and she was looking around the room. It was just how Ron remembered it. The room was covered in animal bones, and there was still the partial snakeskin, vivid green and positively frightening. "Is that the basilisk?" she asked.
"No... just a skin," he replied. "We have to go through the collapsed tunnel. I never went that way... we'll have to just wing it, I guess."
The hole that Ron had created so long ago, which was large enough for Harry and Ginny to come through, didn't look quite as big to the adult Ron.
"I can't believe that Harry used to fit through that." He shook his head and began moving aside more rocks.
"Ron, shouldn't you use – " He looked back at her, and she shook her head, a strange look on her face. "Never mind," she said, coming to help him pull the rocks away from the opening.
Soon the hole was large enough for them to climb through comfortably. Ron felt strange on the other side of the pile of rocks. This was uncharted territory for him. He hoped they wouldn't get lost.
"Harry said he just followed it straight, didn't he?" Hermione asked.
"I don't really remember..." he replied truthfully.
"I think... yes, I think we just follow the tunnel, and the entrance to the Chamber will be right there."
The two of them set off down the pipe, in a sort of suspended silence. The giddiness and the tender nostalgia of before were both gone, replaced with a sort of nervous anticipation. Neither of them had ever seen the basilisk. Ron found himself wondering if creatures like basilisks could come back to life...
After what seemed like hours, they finally came to the end of the tunnel. There was a solid wall, with snakes curving around and around.
"Do you remember which one worked?" Hermione asked quietly.
He did, but he figured it wasn't as easy as just remembering what he said. This time, however, it only took a couple of tries before hitting the right one.
The Chamber itself was very large, and it was quite dark. The light from their wands cast and eerie glow on the walls. Down at the end, near a statue of what had to be Salazar Slytherin, was something that looked like the snakeskin near the entrance – only it was larger, spookier, and had quite a few more fangs. Hermione shivered next to him.
"Right then," Ron squared his shoulders, approaching the dead beast. "How many do you reckon we'll need?"
"Maybe... we ought to be sure they still work, right? I mean... the venom might have dried up after so many years."
He reached his hand up to the basilisk's mouth, towards its terrible teeth.
"Oh, Ron! Be careful!" Hermione sounded terrified. "If you get cut – we don't have a phoenix here – just—"
"I'll be fine," he said, hoping that he sounded more confident than he was. The basilisk smelled awful, but as far as Ron could tell, the only thing about it that had rotted were the eyes. He was quite glad of that, although the lack of eyes made the basilisk look rather other-wordly.
"Diffindo," he said, pointing at the root of the fang. He stepped back at just the right moment, as the fang, now severed from the jaw, fell right where his foot had previously been. Hermione rushed over, looked down at the fang, and then took out Hufflepuff's cup.
"Here," she said, making to hand it to him. He stepped back hastily. He remembered all too well what had happened when he had tried to destroy the locket. There was no way he wanted Hermione to see that.
"No," he said. "You... you can do it. You haven't had the chance yet."
She smiled at him, and placed the cup on the floor. She gingerly picked up the fang. But before she could go near the cup, Ron figured he ought to warn her.
"It's going to put up a fight," he said. "Horcruxes don't go quietly."
She smiled up at him. "I know. I read all about it in those books I borrowed from Dumbledore." She pointed her wand at the cup and muttered a spell that Ron couldn't hear. She got a better grip on the fang, and knelt down. With a deep breath, she plunged the fang into the cup. There was a sound that was something between a shriek and a groan, and the cup twisted horrifically. Hermione pushed the fang in deeper with a grunt, putting her weight into it – and then it was over. She stood up, panting slightly, but looking overall pleased with herself.
"Wow... Wish it had been that easy for me," he said wryly.
"What happened?" she asked. But Ron wasn't quite sure he was ready to tell her that story.
"Never mind," he smiled. He helped her up off the ground. She didn't let go of his hand. "You were brilliant."
"Ron, you know I..." she looked nervous.
"Yes?" He leaned forward.
"I wanted to thank you, for what you did at the Malfoy's."
Now Ron was nervous, but he tried to cover it up with a laugh. "All I did was yell for you."
"I suppose you're right," she said faintly. "But it meant a lot to me. It helped..."
"Harry told me..." he swallowed, then paused, unsure if he should go on. "He said you cried for a week after I – after I left."
She broke eye contact with him. "Yes," she said softly. "At least a week."
"Hermione... I'm so sorry. I – I don't know what else to say. I was a prat, an idiot."
"Yes," she said again, this time looking back up at him. "But I still l—" She stopped suddenly, and shut her mouth tightly. He thought he knew what she was going to say.
"You still what?" he asked, leaning forward. Their foreheads were almost touching.
She didn't say anything back, but continued to stare up at him. Ron, flushed with the success he had already had that night, spoke before he could stop himself.
"I do too."
He could feel his face bloom with color, and he waited for her to say something. Her face broke out in a brilliant grin, and she leaned in closer to him. He leaned down to meet her... this was it...
They jumped apart, both blushing furiously, and looking around for the source of the sound.
"My broom," he pointed at it, lying there on the ground. "I reckon I dropped it while we were..."
They smiled at each other, and then Hermione started laughing. He joined in with her, picking up the cup and the broom as he did so. The moment was broken, but neither of them could wipe the grins off their faces. Hermione turned back to the basilisk and began to systematically remove fangs from the skull. They gathered up a few each, enough so that they could afford to lose one or two, but not so many that they ran the risk of accidentally poking themselves. And then they headed back, casting glances at each other and generally acting like two lovesick teenagers.
At the bottom of the pipe, just before they climbed onto the broom, Ron nearly took her in his arms again, but he reminded himself of what they were doing.
This is not the moment.
She sat in front of him on the ride back up, and Ron took extra care to pull her in tight next to himself. After all, she did not like flying.
They were very quiet on the trip back up to the Room of Requirement, but it was a pleasant silence, and Ron was still wearing a smug smile when they saw Harry round a corner and come running at them.
"Where the hell have you been?" he yelled. Ron felt himself jerked back to reality.
"Chamber of Secrets," he replied.
"Chamber – what?" Harry had finally reached them.
"It was Ron, all Ron's idea!" said Hermione. Ron looked at her, immensely pleased to hear her praise him like this. "Wasn't it absolutely brilliant? There we were, after you left, and I said to Ron, even if we find the other one, how are we going to get rid of it? We still hadn't got rid of the cup! And then he thought of it! The basilisk!"
"What the—" Harry sounded confused, whether from the story, or from Hermione's sudden (and welcome, if you asked Ron) desire to praise Ron, he did not know.
"Something to get rid of Horcruxes," he replied, deciding to assume Harry meant the story.
"But how did you get in there? You need to speak Parseltongue!"
"He did!" Hermione whispered. "Show him, Ron!"
And so he did, although he rather thought he had done better back in the Chamber. Somewhat embarrassed, he explained, "It's what you did to open the locket. I had to have a few goes to get it right, but, we got there in the end."
"He was amazing! Amazing!" cried Hermione.
"So... So..." Harry kept looking at one and then the other.
"So we're another Horcrux down," Ron said, pulling the cup out of his jacket. "Hermione stabbed it. Thought she should. She hasn't had the pleasure yet."
The sight of the cup seemed to make everything click for Harry. He finally grinned.
"It was nothing," said Ron, unable to keep the smug smile completely off his face. "So what's new with you?"
There was an explosion above them, and Ron was suddenly brought back to where they were now. There was a war... Voldemort was at the gates, and soon they would all be doing battle for their lives. And to think, he had missed his chance at kissing... But no, he couldn't think of that now. This was not the moment.
"I know what the diadem looks like," Harry said quickly. "He hid it exactly where I hid my old Potions book, where everyone's been hiding stuff for centuries. He thought he was the only one to find it. Come on."
The three of them raced back to the Room of Requirement. The only ones inside were Ginny, Tonks, and Mrs. Longbottom.
"Ah, Potter," Neville's grandmother said. "You can tell us what's going on."
"Is everyone okay?" Ginny and Tonks asked together.
"'S far as we know. Are there still people in the passage to the Hog's Head?" asked Harry.
Mrs. Longbottom shook her head. "I was the last to come through. I sealed it, I think it unwise to leave it open now Aberforth has left his pub. Have you seen my grandson?"
"He's fighting," said Harry. Mrs. Longbottom nodded proudly.
"Naturally. Excuse me, I must go and assist him."
Harry turned and began to speak to Tonks. "I thought you were supposed to be with Teddy at your mother's?"
Tonks looked like she was in pain. "I couldn't stand not knowing – She'll look after him – have you seen Remus?"
"He was planning to lead a group of fighters into the grounds—" But Tonks left before Harry could finish. Unfazed, Harry turned to Ginny. "Ginny, I'm sorry, but we need you to leave too. Just for a bit. Then you can come back in."
Ron did not like the look on Ginny's face as she left. He was quite pleased when Harry yelled after her, "And then you can come back in! You've got to come back in!"
Suddenly something occurred to Ron. He could not say why he remembered it at this moment, but now that he had he could not just leave it be.
"Hang on a moment!" he said. The others paused just outside the room. "We've forgotten someone!"
"Who?" asked Hermione.
"The house-elves, they'll all be down in the kitchen, won't they?" This was serious – Ron had already heard crashes from what he presumed were parts of the castle collapsing. The elves wouldn't stay in the kitchens for long. And then, they would probably get a crazy house-elf urge to maim themselves for not protecting their castle. And Ron still remembered burying Dobby...
"You mean we ought to get them fighting?" Harry asked.
"No. I mean we should tell them to get out. We don't want any more Dobbies, do we? We can't order them to die for us—"
Hermione had dropped her basilisk fangs (which had all missed her feet, thankfully), and had the very same look on her face that she had down in the Chamber when she had almost told him she loved him. She was now racing towards him at full speed, flinging her arms around his neck and – was she actually going to kiss him?!
As soon as he realized what she was doing, Ron threw his basilisk fangs and the broomstick to the floor. There was no way he was going to bugger this one up. He pulled her to him and lifted her up in the air. Without breaking the kiss. There was nothing in the world that would entice him to break this off. It was perfect, it was beautiful...
"Is this the moment?" he vaguely heard Harry say.
Is this the moment? he thought to himself. And then the answered himself with a resounding YES!
He gripped Hermione tighter, and she responded in turn. He opened his lips slightly and he thought he heard Hermione sigh. Ron had never felt so happy in his life – this was nothing like kissing Lavender. He was beginning to feel a bit weak in the knees, and he swayed slightly on the spot. She was melting into him, deep into him, and he didn't ever want to let her go.
"OI! There's a war going on here!"
Ron pulled back from their kiss – their kiss! -- and set Hermione back on the ground. He did not, however, let go of her. And Hermione's hands stayed firmly hooked behind his neck.
"I know, mate," Ron said, and he was thankful his voice didn't crack. "so it's now or never, isn't it?"
He stared down at Hermione, whose brown eyes were locked onto his face. He was overcome with his love for her, and –
"Never mind that, what about the Horcrux!" Harry shouted. Something in Ron's brain clicked at that, and his Hermione-clouded brain began to clear. "D'you think you could just – just hold it in until we've got the diadem?"
"Yeah – right – sorry—" he said, letting go of Hermione and beginning to pick up the dropped fangs. He glanced furtively at Hermione, and they both blushed. As they headed back into the corridor, there was only one thought in Ron's mind:
You had better survive this war, Hermione Granger, because after everything is over I'm going to corner you in an empty classroom and give you the snogging of a lifetime...
Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. :)