Just a little missing moment between Ron and Hermione a few days after arriving at Shell Cottage.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Ron woke up slowly. He had finally gotten a decent night sleep last night, as much as about 4 hours of actual sleep could be considered decent. He supposed that the fact that he slept four hours straight was what made it good. Being at Shell Cottage gave him a small amount of peace and he slept better than usual.
They had been at Shell Cottage four nights now. The first night, he had gotten no sleep. Zero. He was up every twenty minutes or so checking in on Hermione. He would simply go up to her room and check to see that she was still there, still breathing. She always was, but he never felt silly checking. The next night he had only checked on her every hour or two and fell asleep in between, the third, a little less, and last night, he had only checked on her twice. He was improving.
He noticed now that Dean and Harry were already gone and got up to get breakfast. Everyone was in the kitchen when he went in. Fleur was cooking and Luna and Harry were helping get everything together. Everyone else was talking, not about the impending war or how close they came to losing Hermione, but normal things. Luna was explaining her recipe for infusion of Gurdyroots to Fleur, who was desperately trying to seem interested; Dean and Bill were discussing Egypt, a place Dean said he'd always wanted to go, and Mr. Ollivander and Hermione were discussing wandlore, and she was hanging on his every word, to no one's surprise.
Ron's eyes focused on Hermione. He still couldn't believe that she was fine. Well, physically fine anyway. She was being so tough about everything that happened to her. He knew he could never be that brave. He also wasn't surprised at all that she was. Everything about her and nothing about her amazed him. It was like he couldn't believe that one person could be so smart, tough, fun, beautiful, caring, and kind, yet when she showed all of that about herself it was just who she was. It was simple for her to be smart. Being kind took no effort for her. She cared about everyone without expecting anything in return. Her beauty came out in every single thing that she did. She was perfect.
The more he thought about this, though, the more he thought that he was not good enough for her. She was everything and he could never be everything, which was what she deserved. He knew that he was capable of making her smile, but he also knew that he made her cry. He knew that he frustrated her, but that he also made her blush. Sometimes he thought she might feel for him what he felt for her. Hell, a fraction of what he felt would be good enough. Other times though, his low self esteem would get the best of him.
No one had noticed him walk in for a moment until Harry piped in with a "Good morning". Everyone looked up and smiled and said their hellos, but he never took his eyes off of Hermione, not even after she looked up and smiled too. It took him a moment to realize he was staring at her in front of everyone and he finally pulled up a chair and began eating breakfast.
While he ate he had a conversation with Harry about Griphook, who took his breakfast in his room. They discussed what a git they though he was and how he was giving goblins a bad name. As they finished up and Ron offered to clean up, Harry said to meet him upstairs when he finished, and Hermione too. They had work to do with Griphook.
Fleur thanked Ron for taking care of the dishes and she and Bill went for a walk outside. It was quite an adjustment for them to have so many people around when they were used to having much more time alone. Mr. Ollivander went back up to his room and Luna and Dean went to the living room to relax. As Ron was standing at the sink, Hermione began stacking the dishes to bring over. When Ron saw this, he stopped her.
"No, Hermione. You need to rest," he said, more forcefully than he had meant to sound. Hermione only laughed at him.
"I was going to use my wand, Ron. I won't do any heavy lifting." She smiled and sent the stack of dished neatly into the sink.
Ron blushed slightly, but it didn't reach his ears. "Well, thanks, but sit down, I'll take care of the dishes."
She sat. "How are you doing?" She asked.
"Well, my nerves are shot…I mean thinking about the whole Griphook thing. How are you feeling is the more important question." As much as she must have known that her torture must have made him a bit edgy, he didn't want her to know that this was why he was not sleeping.
"I feel fine actually. Knowing what we do about Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom, I was terrified, but my mind doesn't seem to be affected. Besides the memory of it, of course."
Ron was glad that he had his back to her while he was doing the dishes.
"I'm so sorry 'Mi", he almost whispered.
"I don't want to hear apologies from you. The person who saved my life should not be apologizing. Understand?" She sounded happy as she said this, not cold or angry, but he could not smile along with her.
"Your life should never have been in that much danger. I sh-"
"Stop, Ron." She was still smiling. She knew what he was doing and was not going to listen to it. "You did not make any of this happen. You could not have done any more than you did, and you are the person who not only kept me sane while I was up there, but you also got me out. You saved my life. Do you know what that means?" She paused.
He was looking down and the ground and seemed to be holding back tears. She moved close to him. Her hands were pressed against his chest and since he was so much taller than her, when she did this, he was now looking down at her. When she spoke again her voice was very soft. "You are the reason I am alive. So I don't want to hear the word 'sorry' out of your mouth again. Understand?"
She was looking into his eyes and seemed very serious. He was speechless for a moment, not sure how to accept himself this way. The thing he was thinking about the most was that she had said that he was the one who had kept her sane. How had he done that? He wanted to ask her, but couldn't.
"Do you understand me Ronald?" She asked again.
"Yes," he said quietly, his eyes never leaving hers.
"Good." She slowly moved away from him and lowered her hands, her cheeks rosy.
"Now, I know that we need to get upstairs, so finish up these dishes and head on up." She was back to being happy. He watched her walk towards the stairs and turned back to the sink. A moment later however, she was back in the doorway of the kitchen.
"By the way, Ron," she said shyly. "If you were to stop worrying so much about how other people are doing, you might get a better night sleep. Just something to think about." She gave him a quick wink and turned back toward the stairs. Ron stared after her for a moment; his blush going farther than it has ever gone before.