Grimmauld Place

On the word kill, the figure exploded in a great cloud of dust: Coughing, his eyes watering, Harry looked around to see Hermione crouched on the floor by the door with her arms over her head, and Ron, who was shaking from head to foot, patting her clumsily on the shoulder and saying "it's all r-right…it's g-gone…"

"Family safe, do not reply, we are being watched."

The Patronus dissolved into nothingness. Ron let out a noise between a whimper and a groan and dropped onto the sofa: Hermione joined him, gripping his arm.

"They're all right, they're all right!" she whispered, and Ron half laughed and hugged her.

Hermione gripped Ron's arm tighter, glancing around the dark house, her eyes drifting towards the rug where "Old Dusty" had emerged. She shuddered, moving closer to Ron.

"I don't want to be on my own." She heard herself saying. "Could we use the sleeping bags I've brought and camp in here tonight?" She felt a bit silly asking this; like she was six again, crawling in between her parents in their bedroom, the creaking of the tree outside having frightened her. But she knew it would make her feel better. Ron made her feel safe. Ron and Harry both did.

"Of course, 'Mione." Ron said, placing his hand over her own which was still gripping his arm. Hermione smiled up at him gratefully, before resting her forehead on his shoulder. She heard Harry mumble something about the bathroom before he fled the room. She breathed deeply, Ron's unique scent calming her. "Are you all right?" Ron asked softly. She nodded.

"It's just…it's really happening isn't it?" She asked him. "The war—it-it's really here isn't it?" Ron didn't say anything, but let her finish her disquieting. "People are being killed….Mad-Eye's dead…" she paused, "wecould die…" she peered wistfully into his eyes.

"Yeah." He said gently, nodding, "We might."

Hermione stared up at him for another moment before nodding in acceptance. She needed to hear the truth and he told her exactly that. They both knew that there was a great chance that they might die on this journey, but accepting the fact was oddly comforting. "I should change." Hermione said pulling at her dress. Unlike the boys, she hadn't changed in the alley. She stood. "Thank you," she added, and kissed him on the cheek, and turned to retrieve her pajamas from the bag. She grabbed Harry's toothbrush for him as well, and headed up the stairs to change.

Ron remained on the couch, slightly mollified. Shaking his head, he quickly put on his night clothes as well. He then proceeded to lay out the sleeping bags in front of the sofa. He sat himself on the sleeping bag farthest to the right. Then he stood again. He couldn't seem to stay still. He glanced at the sleeping bag in the middle, then at the moth-eaten couch. Perhaps he should be chivalrous and offer Hermione to sleep on the couch while he and Harry took the floor? No, he blushed, then I can't sleep next to her. He pondered for a moment before he began ripping the cushions off the couch.

"What are you doing?"

"Uh…" Ron blushed, slowing his motions. "I thought you'd be more comfortable on the cushions than, you know…the floor." He placed the middle sleeping bag over the neatly laid cushions.

Hermione's cheeks tinged the faintest pink. "Ron, that's very sweet of you but the floor is-"

"I know I just...I don't know." Ron's blush deepened as he mentally scolded himself. Seemed like a good idea at the time…now I just feel stupid. He went to replace the cushions when Hermione stopped him, but didn't say anything. "I just thought maybe-"

"Ron, just because I'm a girl doesn't-"

"I didn't do it because you're a girl Hermione! Merlin, I try to do something-"

"I can handle-"

"I know Hermione! Just I- Just sleep on them will you?" Ron said getting frustrated.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Harry had entered the room and was slipping into his own sleeping bag and removing his glasses. "Just do what he says Hermione." He mumbled tiredly.

Hermione huffed but didn't press the matter further and straightened the cushions and her sleeping bag before slipping in. Ron extinguished the dim lights with his wand before hunkering down into his own sleeping bag. He glanced over at Hermione, who he could see in the faint moonlight, laying on her back staring at the ceiling. Ron mimicked her actions, placing his hands behind his head. His head swarmed with worried thoughts of the future, and Ron didn't realize how long he'd been thinking until he heard a soft snore that belonged to Harry. He heard Hermione shift next to him and turn over to face her. Harry snored softly again. Hermione giggled quietly and Ron smiled back. They lay like this for a while, how long, neither of them knew, just staring at each other. Then to Ron's horror, Hermione's eyes filled with tears. He peered questionably at her, concern taking over his features. Hermione sniffed quietly, and Ron reached out for her hand as he watched a tear escape the corner of her eye. He scooted his sleeping bag closer to her. He waited patiently for Hermione to speak, gently stroking the back of her hand with his thumb.

"I'm scared." She whispered in a thick voice. And Ron didn't need to ask of what. He knew what she was afraid of. She was still frightened by the site of Dumbledore's demented corpse; she was scared for her parents' safety, scared for his family. She was scared of never returning to school. Scared for what the future held.

"It's ok." He whispered back. "And it's ok to be scared."

"Are you scared?" she asked.

Ron hesitated before answering, "Yeah, I am."

She was silent for another moment. "Promise me we'll come out of this alive?"

Ron's heart sank. "Hermione…" he said slowly, "you know I can't promise you that." Hermione bit her lip, holding back a sob. Ron's hand moved up to her forearm, gently stroking it. "But I can promise I won't leave you."

Hermione sniffed. "Pinky promise?" Hermione asked, offering him her pink finger.

Ron smiled a small smile. "Pinky promise." He confirmed, linking his pinky with hers. Ron watched as Hermione's eyes dropped lower and lower, before finally fluttering closed. He watched her sleep, until his own eyes became tired, and he drifted off to sleep, his pinky still inked with hers.

Harry glanced over at the dark shapes they made on the floor beside him. Ron had had a fit of gallantry and insisted that Hermione sleep on the cushions from the sofa, so that her silhouette was raised above his. Her arm curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron's. Harry wondered whether they had fallen asleep holding hands.

A/N: Sorry it took a bit longer to update than I expected. Hope you liked it though! Next chapter is when Ron gets splinched!

Have a nice day…or night!


PS: I love reviews! ;-)