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The Return of the Not So Prodigal Friend – Hermione thinks.

Hermione's POV.

He's lying. Those scars don't just sting a bit when he's tired or stressed. What is he hiding from me? What were those brains for, anyway? I'm sure the Department of Mysteries had them for a reason.

Madam Pomfrey had a terrible time trying to heal those welts, when they were fresh. What was it she said? Thoughts do the most damage? No ... thoughts cause the worst scars ... the most lasting.

So the locket made them worse. That would explain a lot. Not that it excuses him at all, but it might have contributed to his general arsey attitude whenever he wore it.

What was he on about, when he ran off on us? Harry not having a plan; and us laughing about Ginny being sent into the forest ... for that detention. But that's ridiculous – we weren't laughing at Ginny. Why would he have thought that? The locket, maybe? Some of the things I used to think, when it was my turn to wear it ... damn awful, really ... maybe the combination of both was what turned him in a complete wanker.

Especially if ... if ... Harry said that when the locket knew he was going to get the sword from the bottom of that pool, it tried to drown him. Anything to stop it from being destroyed ...therefore the locket KNEW the sword could destroy it. And the night Ron lost it was the night we found out the sword could destroy it!

Wow. Maybe I've been a little hard on him, just a bit. He did come back, after all, and he did save Harry and destroy the horcrux – that does count in his favour.

Her thoughts continued on in this vein for the next two hours, and she counted herself lucky that nothing threatening had come their way, because she really hadn't been paying much attention to the surrounding area.

At 2am she retreated back into the tent. She stood over Ron's sleeping form, hesitant to actually wake him just yet. Instead she went into the kitchen and made two cups of tea, casting a keeping charm over one and taking the other back outside for a few more minutes.

There's something just so comforting about tea. Relaxing. I suppose it wouldn't kill me to be civil – as he said, we've got a job to do and there really isn't any point in making things harder than they already are.

She drained the last of the warm drink from her cup, went inside, washed said cup and then put it away.

"Ronald, wake up!"

"Huh? What? Is it my turn?" He rubbed his eyes and blinked up at her owlishly. "OK. Thanks for getting me up."

"No problem. There's a cup of tea waiting for you in the kitchen. I'm going to bed, enjoy your watch."

"Uh, thanks?"

She suppressed a smile. "Don't think I've forgotten about any of this, Ron, because I haven't. You'd just better agree with everything I say from now on, if you want to get into my good books."

"Anything you say," he nodded meekly. "Anything and everything."