Chapter 10: A Moment's Peace
"Reverso Amnesia Hermione Granger!" " Appello Wendel and Monika Granger!" " Domus England! Reverso! Reverso! No, sir, I'm your daughter! Please, listen to me!" She woke with a start. "Dad! Mum!"
Ron's arms tightened around her. He knew her parent's situation was going to pop up at some time during the night. She had cried so much after putting the memory charm on them; he couldn't see her fears not invading her dreams. Her eyes suddenly jerked open and the look of distress crossed her beautiful features. "They are safe in Australia, away from all this. They are safe, Hermione." He rubbed her back soothingly.
"I couldn't remove the charm! It didn't work! They'll never get their lives back. I'll never have my family back!" she cried anxiously.
"Yes, you will," he said calmly. "A dream, Hermione; it was just a dream. Remember, you're the smartest witch of our age. There's no way Hermione Granger is not going to be able to reverse a memory modifyer and you know it deep down. You know it."
She smiled up at him as he cuddled her, a hand caressing her face. "You have a lot of confidence in me."
"Years of practice," he smiled as his thumb traced her cheek back and forth like he was touching a priceless object. Before he completely lost himself in her eyes, he bent his head to kiss her softly.
She drank in his kiss and felt like she could melt into him. Their embrace deepened, love and attraction and need all wrapped up in each other's arms. A moan escaped her as her body came alive under in his hands.
Finally needing air, they broke apart. "I would like years of practice doing that," he commented breathlessly.
She smiled seductively at him. "I could handle that," as her hand roamed down his backside.
He dropped his head back. "You're going to kill me, looking at me like that." He had to stop himself from thinking of her hand on his butt.
"Killing you is not what I had in mind," she said, but couldn't prevent a yawn from overtaking her. "Grrr. This is sooo not fair. It's the potion."
"Ah, right. Water. Now." He shook his head, trying to get his mind back on track. She had not broken out into a major sweat this time. So he reduced the requirement to one cup, finally.
After the water, she felt better, settled back into bed and snuggled into Ron. The chair long forgotten, he lay back down on the bed beside her after setting up more water for the next round. He held her close while she slept and dreamed the rest of the night.
Their lives were so intertwined, he recognized everything she dreamed: fear her parents would be killed by Voldemort, fear for Harry when he was to battle the dragon, the year he had shut her out when he thought Crookshanks had killed Scabbers, her despair when he dated Lavender, the way the Yule Ball ended, and the fear of being petrified again. Ron figured prominently in several dreams which made him feel slightly sick. He had been such a git. Then one dream made him laugh to himself, and shake his head. Her boggart was Professor McGonagall telling her she failed all her exams. He made a mental note to tease her about it later when she was feeling better.
It occurred to him that Hermione had been essentially alone in the girls' dormitory. He and Harry knew when each other had nightmares and could give each other a shake and talk briefly to calm their nerves. It had never occurred to him that she had nightmares about their experiences too, and could not confide them in anyone close to her over there, when she could have used some help. He felt badly all of a sudden. Once in a while she had mentioned at breakfast that she had had a dream but she had not complained greatly. Yet here was the evidence of her terrors over the years.
After each dream, she was a little better. She drank the required water, took more medicine, and changed her night clothes one more time, but she would not be separated from Ron, nor he from her. She clung to his heart beat, giving reassurance that he was there. He had not left her. She had not trusted anyone in her life the way she did him. He now knew everything she feared and it was alright. He had stayed throughout everything. He loved her. She could not see herself loving anyone else but him.
At 7am Hermione woke up without a dream, a lazy, contented peace over her entire body. She looked at Ron, asleep, lying on his stomach, his arm across her protectively. She thought of a future, smiled, and then quickly put it out of her mind. There was the mission, and possibly even a war to come. They could not afford to be self-indulgent. It could get in the way, cloud judgement. There would be no chance at that future if they couldn't focus on the mission they had to do. One more close call might change those ideas, but for now...
Hermione leaned into him and savoured the closeness a moment longer and kissed him. He responded even in his sleep. "I love you, Ronald Weasley. The nightmares are over. I can't tell you how much this means to me that you stayed the whole way through."
He rolled on to his side to take in this vision in front of him. A smile played with the corners of his mouth. He reached for her and kissed her soundly, his fingers running through her hair the way he had dreamed he could. "How do you feel?" he asked huskily as their lips parted. He caressed her cheek and studied her sparkling eyes. He glanced at his watch. The last nightmare was just after six. They had slept perhaps thirty minutes; the most during the whole night.
"I actually feel… wonderful. I feel like I've slept the night through, I feel like I can handle everything now. Wicked potion, it puts you through hell, but it does the job. So tonight, I can go to sleep without any fear, thanks to you and Luna." She leaned into him, tickling his face with her hair as she snaked herself into a position lying on top of him and initiated a passionate lingering kiss. His hands travelled her body, marvelling at being able to touch her. He wrapped her in his arms, caressing her and making her feel even more secure, cherished and loved. They kissed again and again, not wanting their time together to end.
She pulled back and studied his features. "Ron, I love you… but you still look like hell. My God! You haven't slept in almost three days, not a real sleep anyway. You need some sleep."
"Thanks! But, the rest of the house will be up soon, and I don't want to miss out on anything with you while we've got this time together."
"Lie back and sleep. I'll watch over you now, and take care of you."
"Slacker! Easy job compared to what I did!" he smirked. She swatted him and he caught her hand and kissed it. With a mischievous grin, he flipped her over on to her back and lay on top of her, his weight slight on her, but enough to push her breasts up protruding slightly from her shirt. Both were suddenly aware of the new exposure, causing pulses to race, breaths to quicken. His lips began a trail down her neck that brought new, wonderful sounds forth from her as she arched her body to give him more access. He took her hands up over her head and from fingertips to hips, they roved over her body. The passion between them, long at bay and denied was so palpable, it hurt. They craved each other so badly, but this was not the time.
"God, I want you." In that moment she would do anything he wanted. She had waited so long for him to see her this way. The desire in his eyes was so plain for a moment until reason veiled it.
"But, you deserve more than this. We do. Alone, just us to do as we want, whenever, however."
"Yes, when we are ready," she reluctantly agreed.
"I love you."
"I love you, more than I can say, Ron." She smiled and then laughed slightly.
"Well, this may sound odd, but I don't think any girl ever thinks a guy is going to say I love you after he's seen her vomit, and be a psychological and emotional mess, look like this…"
"Hermione, you are." He shook his head slightly at the mere incomprehension of herself, but still wondered a bit why she would love him. His hand caressed her face as if it there was nothing more precious to him in the world. "Mind, body, heart and soul; you simply are."
She stared at him as warmth from her heart took over her body. "Thank you." She just took a moment to look at him with all the love she could put into her eyes. "If there is such a thing as happiness anymore in this world, I think this is it. Having my best friend feel about me how I feel about him. Everything you've done for me tonight absolutely screams how much you make me feel cared for. That's what I've always loved about you; how loyal you are to those you care about, how much you would put on the line for them. Ginny, five years ago, Harry well constantly let's face it, the constant worry you carry with you about your family's safety, and now me. Actually, I've always felt it to a degree. You never backed down when it came to something you believed in. You always defended me from people like Malfoy. You have the biggest heart, and the best sense of humor of anyone I know. You can always make me smile and laugh even in the worst times. You are so special to me, and you make me feel special, cared for, loved, and respected. There's also the fact that I think you're a very good looking man," she bit her lip sheepishly. "My day is not complete unless you are part of it in some way. I want you to be part of it in a big way, for a very long time."
Now he had his answer and his lips went searching for hers again. "God, I love you."
"I love you. Now, sleep before you fall asleep in the middle of kissing me and I take it personally!" she smiled at him.
"I don't think that could happen," he said almost dreamily. She looked at him in sympathy, knowing he couldn't last and she gently pushed his head down on the pillow next to her and he reluctantly accepted her proposal. He lay back, holding her hand on his chest, over his heart. Hermione lay down next to him and their eyes locked, and just took each other in for a few moments before his eyes finally closed as sleep overtook him, a soft contented smile etched on his face.
She watched him a little while longer. Her eyes teared. She didn't think she could cry any more after the night she just had, mixed with everything good and bad. But her chest tightened and the tears that escaped were for happiness. She knew these were the last few moments they had together, but she also knew, Ron needed the little bit of sleep he was finally getting.
Later, she got up and limped to the kitchen to make breakfast. She searched through the fridge for his favorites, hoping that the action would be repeated often in the future, and reciprocated. It was the least she could do.
"You're up early," said a familiar voice.
Hermione swung around from the fridge to see Harry lying with a blanket over him in a recliner he had moved to the kitchen.
"Oh, Harry! You startled me. What are doing sleeping in the kitchen?"
"Too many people in the living room. I can't believe it, but Bill snores even louder than Ron. Must be a Weasley thing. I can't believe Fleur is used to that." He smiled remembering all the nights in their dorm and then in the tent, wanting to throw a pillow at Ron to make him stop snoring. Once or twice he actually did.
She looked pensive. Then Harry's voice brought the moment back to her. "How are you? You look," he put on his glasses, "a lot better. Your face is back to normal. What about, um, everything else?"
"If you mean physically, well, I feel a lot better. My ankle, shoulder and my ribs on the left here are still a little tender so I thought I'd pamper them a little longer and not put too much weight on my ankle yet. Another day should do the trick it seems. About the other, well, I feel…refreshed. It feels like it happened five years ago. I remember the anger, hurt, fear, pain, but it is distanced now. It's just like Luna said. But, I don't know how I would have gotten through it all if Ron hadn't been there. He was…really great. Surprised I didn't scare him out of the room when my stomach turned. Speaking of which, thanks for cleaning that up. Now, I thought I'd make Ron breakfast as a thank you for sticking it out."
Harry had got out of the chair. He walked over to her and hugged her, smiling with relief. "Number one: there's nothing I wouldn't do for you. A little turned stomach is nothing compared to some of the things we've been going through. Number two," his eyes moved up to above the fridge and he took down a box of Miniature Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. "It seems Bill has the same sweet tooth."
"Oh, Harry! Good eye! He'll love that! Thank you!" She hugged him enthusiastically.
"Hey, what's going on?" Ron said from the doorway at the end of the room.
"Ronald Weasley, go back to bed or you'll ruin my surprise." Hermione admonished as she let go of Harry and began chasing him from the room, forgetting to favour her ankle.
More relief entered Harry as he smirked and thought: she's back to normal! All she needs now is a wagging finger pointed at Ron! He returned to his recliner.
"What?" he said indignantly. "I was just making sure you were all right and I get my throat jumped down."
She looked at him directly and winked. "Maybe later," she whispered. "Thanks, I'm fine. I feel much better. Now, off you go. Out!" She began shooing him out of the room. She whispered again: "Act normal, right?"
He looked at Harry for help. Settling back in his chair, Harry just shook his head and raised his hands as if to say he wasn't touching this one. Ron rolled his eyes and turned around, shaking his head.
"Gees," he said and left the room to go back to bed, a smile slowly spreading across his face as he turned back to Hermione and winked at her, and mouthed I love you to her.
Hermione blushed and her lips formed the words back to him, unseen by Harry. She lingered a moment at the doorway and then turned back to her task.
A/N: Well, I hope you liked it. Before anyone asks, yes I did consider the poisoning scene as a dream. I thought it was not a lingering fear that would haunt her. There was a start and stop to the situation, it was resolved. By the time she went to bed, he was on the mend. I also felt it would drag the story a bit, as the issue of her love for Ron and fear of losing him was clearly dealt with in the worst nightmare. Although, I admit, it would have been fun.
I don't think I'll post the alternate beginning of Dobby arriving at Shell Cottage with the first group of escapees after all. I think I like the debut to be Ron and Hermione all the way. Thank you for the wonderful words of support. You've all given me the nerve to publish a few more fics. HeRonFan