Summary: Missing moment from Deathly Hallows. Ron and Hermione in the Great Hall after the final battle. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: I definitely do not own them, which is somewhat depressing, really.
A/N: First attempt at a Harry Potter fic that isn't a drabble. I got the image in my head almost as soon as I got to this portion of the book and I haven't been able to get it out ever since. I figured I'd better just write the scene and see how it played out. Feedback is loved and cherished.
It was over. After seven years of trying to help her best friend defeat the Dark Lord, after living in a lingering state of fear for months, it was done. Voldemort was dead. Really, this time. It was hard to believe.
Hermione looked around the Great Hall numbly, torn between shock and sheer joy. It was over.
Not without casualties, though. No, there were plenty of those. She bit her lip gently as she thought about Fred. About Tonks. About Lupin. About Teddy, who would never know his parents as anything more than stories from their closest friends. About George, who was now without a twin as well as an ear. With a heavy, shaky sigh, Hermione ran her hands through her hair and winced slightly when tiny cuts from the battle scraped against the coarse, bushy strands.
"Strange, isn't it?"
Gasping, she turned in her chair and looked up through a soft film of tears at her best friend. The corner of Ron's mouth was turned up slightly — the barest hint of the lop-sided grin she was so in love with — and she did her best to return the attempt. "Yeah," she breathed, nodding. "Strange."
He grabbed a chair from nearby and slid it closer to her own, plopping down in front of her. "All right?" he asked, and she noticed the way his eyes trailed over her face before settling worriedly on her hands. She nodded and swallowed thickly.
"I think so." She nodded again and sighed. "How… how are you?" Hermione lowered her voice a bit, trying desperately to clear the lump from her throat. He didn't respond at first, choosing instead to glance around the room just as absentmindedly as she had moments before. After a bit, his shoulders slumped and he returned his gaze to her.
"Remember when you tried to explain everything Cho was feeling after she cried on Harry when they snogged fifth year?" he asked. Startled by the question, she nodded a bit jerkily, somewhat confused as to what he was trying to say. "Yeah." He nodded. "I guess I feel a bit like that."
"I suppose I should expect the explosion at any minute, then," she teased gently. She was rewarded with a much bigger grin than he had given her before, and her heartbeat sped up accordingly.
"Reckon you should, yeah," he agreed, laughing slightly. A brief but awkward silence settled over them after that, and then he sighed, leaning forward and taking her right hand in both of his. Hermione bit back a gasp at the last minute, staring at him earnestly while he stared at the floor between their feet.
"I know you want to set your parents right," he said abruptly, catching her off guard yet again.
"But I think Fred would be really offended if you and I didn't attend the funeral before we went all the way to Australia."
The lump in her throat grew exponentially at his words, and she cleared her throat softly, nodding as she pushed her fingers between his and squeezed. "I imagine he would be," she agreed.
"Right," he said shortly. "So, if it's all right with you—" He raised his eyes to hers, and she slid forward on her chair, raising her free hand to his lips to quiet him.
"You don't have to ask," she said quietly. "I have a feeling we'll have to stay for quite a while before I can reverse those memory charms." She didn't bother to explain why; she didn't think she could wrap her tongue around the word 'funeral' even if she tried, especially not in the plural.
Ron kissed her fingers gently and she reddened, pulling her hand back and resting it in her lap. At the hurt expression on his tear- and dirt-stained face, her flush deepened and she immediately felt guilty for her actions. Hadn't they been working toward this for the past year?
A fresh wave of tears filled her eyes suddenly, and she didn't bother to restrain the gasp that fled past her lips when Ron reached around her and pulled her chair to his side. Using his grip on her hand, he pulled her into him simultaneously, in what seemed like one fluid movement. Hermione breathed shakily into his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her and she gripped his shirt tightly in her fists.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she whispered, trying and failing to halt the tears that were streaming freely down her face now. She scrubbed at her cheeks with her hands, glancing up at the man her best friend had grown into, desperate not to lose herself too completely. His instinct to protect her was so strong, and she didn't need him worrying about her when his older brother had just died at the hands of a Death Eater.
"Me, too," he replied. After a moment, he continued, "I'd have been right disappointed if that kiss was our first and our last."
Her cheeks blazed at the words, and when she looked up at him, she noticed that the tips of his ears were turning a matching shade of pink. Swallowing around the lump this time, having given up on ever ridding her throat of the awful obstruction, she raised her hand to his collar and took a deep breath. "Honestly, Ronald." She tried for a teasing tone and failed miserably, but he didn't seem to notice. If he did, he chose not to comment, for once. "After all that's happened tonight…"
"What?" he protested incredulously. "After all that's happened tonight— in the past six months, more like —I think that's as bloody bright as it gets!"
She didn't even have the heart to scold him for his language. And while she could have argued that Harry had just defeated Voldemort for the final time, or that their best friend was not as dead as they thought he was, or that they could actually look forward to the future again, she didn't have the heart to do that, either.
Nodding slowly, Hermione smiled shortly and let the red recede from her cheeks. "You might have a point," she replied. There was no point in arguing, really. They had finally ended their stupid, lengthy courting, and she had been the one to take the final plunge. She was proud of herself.
Ron pulled her closer and kissed her softly. The contact was fleeting, but tender enough to make her realize that the lump in her throat was, in fact, her heart. She sighed and resisted the urge to roll her eyes at how utterly girly she was being about the entire thing, choosing to blame her emotions on the horror of the past twenty-four hours and the months leading up to it.
"Yes?" Looking up at him again, she bit her bottom lip at the stormy shade of his blue eyes and, despite the insanity of it, dreaded what his next words might be.
"How long do you think it'll be before Harry escapes the crowd?"
It wasn't what she was expecting, though she wasn't sure what she had thought he was going to say, either. After noticing where his gaze was now trained— on the large swarm of people in the opposite corner of the Great Hall —she shrugged her shoulders slightly and leaned against him heavily.
"A while," she offered vaguely, letting her head fall against his shoulder. He squeezed her gently and she closed her eyes. For now, she was content to stay just like that. "He'll find us as soon as he can."