I claim to own nothing to do with Harry Potter because I own nothing to do with Harry Potter ... pity really, my last electricity bill was bad.

Ron and Hermione talk, the day before Dumbledores funeral ... and that really is all they do.

This is part three of a series called "Done To Death" and essentially a story to set up something else. I still think its good though. :-)

Under the Beech Tree.

It was a shockingly beautiful day, as it had been all week. It's not right Hermione thought to herself as she and Ron sat in the shade of the large beech tree, watching the lake – neither of them in the mood to go walking with Harry and Ginny.

She studied him carefully. Truth be told, it wasn't a hardship – his flame coloured hair glinting in the dappled shade and contrasting so shockingly with his milky skin. She laughed at herself. Milky skin? What is this? A romance novel? He'd laugh so hard at you, if you ever said anything like that – and rightly so! His forearms and hands, she noticed – not for the first time – were ever so slightly darker than the rest of him. Well, darker might be an exaggeration. Less light is more accurate. How does he not burn to a crisp whenever he so much as sets foot outdoors?

Feeling safe enough, his eyes were closed after all, she settled her gaze on those forearms. They still bore faint silvery scars from where the brains had attacked him last year, in the Department of Mysteries. Why have we never spoken about them? Why have I never thought to ask?

They'd talked about the injury which had left her so close to death, although she bore no physical signs of it now, several times – but since their release from the hospital wing at that time he'd never mentioned his injuries again, although she'd often observed him unconsciously rubbing them during times of stress or deep thought.

Just as he was then, at that very moment.

She felt slightly ashamed and the feeling was intensified when he turned to her with an unusually concerned expression.

"Are you OK?"

"Me?" she blushed absurdly, "yes, I'm fine, as well as can be expected given the circumstances."

He just nodded, turning back to the lake.

"You?" she whispered, "how are you?"

"Like you said," he shrugged, "as well as can be expected ..." but she noticed the increasing pressure he put on a particularly wide scar on the underside of his wrist. "I can't believe any of this," he lifted his hands suddenly and gestured around them, "it's a normal day, a nice day, everything looks totally ... normal ... but it's not, it's not normal at all."

"No," she said, "it's definitely not normal. What do you think will happen?"

He shrugged. "We're at war. War will happen. Dumbledore isn't here to keep it away anymore."

"What were you thinking about, before?"

If he was surprised at the question he gave no indication.

"It's time we started listening to Harry. He was right about Malfoy and Snape, and it would have saved us all a lot of trouble if we had payed more attention."

Her first, and strongest, inclination was to argue – Harry was hardly infallible, and one of his mistakes had turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. It took all of her will to keep her mouth shut, not say as much. She chose instead to make a non-committal noise and frown slightly.

He clearly had a very good idea what she was thinking, because he frowned too ... at her. "Hermione, he paid for that more than any of us. Do you think he's going to let something like that happen again? Anyway, this year we had clear evidence that something dodgy was going on."

His gentle rebuke; and it had been gentle, his tone held no recrimination what-so-ever, was too much for Hermione. Much to his alarm, she burst into noisy sobs.

"I'm just so worried!" she cried. "I'm scared he's – he's going to do something – he's going to dash off, without thinking it through – he's going to do something dangerous! Dangerous and stupid! You – you can't deny that he has that potential."

"Well, yeah," he agreed, "you've got a point."

"We can't let him!" she said, suddenly quite fierce.

"We can't stop him, Hermione!" He almost laughed at the idea, "what do you think we can do? Forbid him to go? Stupefy him daily until he changes his mind?"

"He's only 16!"

All of a sudden, he felt very tired, and he really wished she'd stop arguing with him – although this could hardly be considered an argument, he thought wryly. No one was yelling ... yet. Why do we always do this? We end up screaming about stuff we actually agree on. It's ridiculous.

"He's the Chosen One, Hermione. It's going to happen if we like it or not, eventually."

"He'll be killed!"

"Merlin, aren't you a little ray of sunshine," he snapped with an impatient snort, his resolve to not argue floating away on the breeze. "You don't know that. Have some bloody faith, Hermione."

She bristled instantly. "I'm being realistic."

"You're being morbid," he shot back, "with that kind of attitude we'll never win the war."

"Well! Sor-ry Mr Sunshine and Daisies!" she retorted, her voice heavy with sarcasm. "Let's just dance with joy, shall we? Everything's great! Voldemort is gaining power! Woohoo! Harry's going to be on his own hunting Horcruxes and trying to kill the evilest wizard of the time – of all time, possibly - let's break out the champagne!"

Ron really did laugh out loud this time, although he certainly didn't sound amused. "Do you really think, Hermione Granger, that I'm going to let him go on his own? I might not be much use for anything, but he's one of my best friends – he's the first real friend I ever had, who didn't HAVE to be nice to me because I was his brother. What do you take me for?"

This bought her up short. Through the scowl on his face and the stubborn jut of his jaw, she saw the shadow of the little boy who had willingly climbed atop a giant chess piece and knowingly placed himself directly in harm's way, just so his two best friends could continue to do what needed to be done.

She also knew what needed to be done.

"I'm coming too," she stated, folding her arms tightly across her chest and preparing for the inevitable argument that was sure to follow.

"Thought you might," he grinned at her.

"What?" Her eyes widened in surprise, "no arguments? No 'it's too dangerous'?"

"Hell no," he snorted. "You're smarter than the two of us put together – we're going to need you and, to be honest," he reached out and touched her cheek briefly, "I think it's going to be dangerous for you no matter where you are."

She was torn between confusion at his words and surprise at his uncharacteristically affectionate gesture. "What do you mean?"

"You and me, Hermione, we're the Chosen One's best mates and everyone knows it. My family might be the biggest bunch of blood-traitors around, but I'm still a pure-blood – but Hermione," his voice softened considerably, "you're muggle-born, and smarter than any pure-blood in this school." He half-smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes, "I don't think you're going to get stupider as you get older and it's a big slap in the their face. It's going to count against you."

"Are you saying," her lips twitched upward, "that if I was thick they'd like me better?"

Ron sniggered at that. "No ... but they'd hate you less."

"Point taken," she said, and then she sighed, "you know that if – when – he decides to go, we're going to have a fight on our hands to make him accept that we're going with him."

"Probably," he shrugged, "but he's not stupid, he knows he needs us." He stood up, then, holding out his hand to help her up. "I'm hungry; it must be close to dinner."

"Typical," she laughed, "always thinking of your stomach!" but she accepted his hand up and was faintly disappointed when he let go on their way back to the castle.

They walked slowly; chatting happily, ate their dinner and then retired to the common room for an hour or so of conversation with Harry and Ginny. It wasn't until much later, when she was preparing for bed, that she realised she had again forgotten to ask him about the scars on his arms.