Pre-fic note: I made this fic for the sole purpose of disputing my friend's argument that a tastefully written lemon that is much too overdone (lime, in this case) for Harry Potter is not possible. ^_^

Someone tell me what this fic falls under. I doubt it's smut. :-/ Far from it. Maybe it's--*cough*--suggestive fluff.

This is, of course, R/Hr. :D Did you expect anything else?

"How like a winter hath my absence been from thee!"
--Excerpt from Sonnet 97, Shakespeare

Harry Potter braced his weight upon the edge of the balcony, his emerald eyes glimmering with an emotion the vaguely resembled hope beneath the setting sun.

It's already been a week, he marveled silently, a week since the war ended. It's been a week since good defeated evil. It's been a week since all our work for the past years paid off.

His thoughts were abruptly interrupted when the loud creaking of his door being opened permeated his senses. He turned around, expecting to see Sirius Black.

Instead, Ron Weasley stood there, and Harry remembered with a slight wince that Sirius Black was dead.

"It's weird," Harry muttered, shaking his head resignedly, "how I still expect to see Sirius around, even if I know he's dead."

Ron responded with a bitterly sorrowful smile. "Yeah. I know how that is. I'm kind of like that with Bill, sometimes. And he's been—you know—for much longer than Sirius has." He walked over to the balcony where Harry stood, and both of them leaned forward, watching the sun as it sank into the horizon.

"One time," the crimson-haired youth went on, his fingers tightening around the edge of the marble-carved railing as he spoke. "I was like that with Mione, too."

The murmured words seemed to be ripped from the very fabric of his soul, and Harry stiffened beside him as he heard the grievous agony in Ron's voice.

"We don't know if she's dead, Ron." He said quietly, in a tone of voice that held too much wisdom for one young as he. "There are scavengers out there right now looking for her, along with many other people."

"I know that," Ron answered, his voice coming out strained, unsteady. "But sometimes… sometimes I just can't help but imagine that the worst has happened, you know?"

Harry nodded. He knew what Ron was going through—in the first three days after the end of the war, Ginny was nowhere to be found. Harry had been in a frenzied panic until a wizard had located her, unconscious and injured, on the supposedly barren battlegrounds to the east of Europe.

"Speaking of which…" Ron continued, as if reading his best friend's mind. "How's Ginny? I haven't seen her since two days ago," Harry could easily hear the guilt that tinted the redhead's voice for not tending to his younger sister enough.

"She's fine," Harry responded. "They say she can go home in less than a week, and I—" he faltered, and glanced at his watch. "We should go back to the scavengers' base. It's almost time for the scavengers to return with the people and the bodies they've found."

Ron nodded, and together, they walked out of the room, the muffled sound of their footsteps coming to a sudden halt as they Disapparated.

The two shimmered into being in the middle of a chaotic hallway, where people screamed and cursed and hurried about on a daily basis.

Today was no different; the anarchy even seemed twice magnified than usual.

"The scavengers must have already arrived," Harry said in a loud voice, as he and Ron hurried towards the entrance.

"Damn straight," Ron replied, raising his voice to be heard over the bedlam. "It only gets this messy when they're here."

They hurried past a woman who was clutching a sugar quill and was pensively sucking on it as she watched everyone else.

Wrinkling his nose in distaste, Harry hurried up to the woman. "Rita Skeeter," he greeted her, the politeness in his voice obviously strained.

Rita Skeeter's eyes widened happily, and Ron could see the ravenous thirst for some juicy information in them.

"Harry Potter!" The reporter immediately pulled Harry to her in an overdone hug. "My, it's been a long time."

"That it has," Harry agreed with a forced grin, throwing Ron a look that said, but not long enough.

Ron snickered, despite his anxiety. He could tell Harry was just putting up with her because if anything interesting was happening, Rita Skeeter would be the first to know.

"Do you know if the scavengers are back yet?" Harry asked, pulling the older woman to a more secluded hallway.

"—and you simply must allow me to interview you—what?" Rita's meticulously plucked eyebrows arched in surprise.

"Are the scavengers back yet, he said." Ron replied, sliding into the hallway with them.

"Ron Weasel!" Rita crowed, with a large, practiced smile. "My, you've grown!"

Ron nodded impatiently, overlooking her mistake with his last name. "That's what happens in the span of seven years. People grow."

Rita recoiled distastefully at his caustic reply. She turned back to Harry.

"So, do you know if the scavengers are back?" Harry repeated.

Rita nodded. "Oh, yes. I even hear that your friend—that girl who tattled on me some years ago is there, as well. So, how about that interview—"

She never continued her sentence, for Ron and Harry had immediately rushed out into the chaos.

Apparently, Harry Potter and Ron Weasel, renowned heroes of the war, don't have any manners, she scrawled down on the notepad she had with her.

"Hermione!" Ron yelled over the din, craning his neck in order to see over everyone.

Everyone turned around to look at him. The noise immediately lowered into hushed whispers as people recognized Ron Weasley and Harry Potter.

Harry turned to someone who looked as if she worked there. "Excuse me," he said. "Do you know where the people the scavengers brought in are?"

The girl looked dumbstruck (Ron would later tell Harry that starstruck was a more appropriate phrase), but she managed to gesture at the hall to their right. "Se-second room to your left."

"Thank you," Harry gave her a smile, before pulling Ron down the hall the girl had pointed to.

They opened the door she had instructed them to open, and they were met with utter silence. It was a sharp contrast to the pandemonium outside.

"Ssh," one of the attendants there whispered irritably. "Close the door!"

Ron closed the door behind him. The noise ceased. The room was apparently enchanted to become absolutely soundproof.

The attendant (Harry saw from her nametag that her name was Hemera) walked up to them. "Can I help you?" she asked in a soft voice.

"Yes," Ron asked. "Do you have a Hermione Granger among the people that the scavengers found?"

Hemera glanced at her clipboard. "Seventeenth bed to the left," she said, before turning around and hurrying away. Ron didn't even get a chance to find out whether or not she was all right.

"C'mon," Harry muttered, "it's best we start looking. Seventeenth bed to the left."

"Can't be that hard to find," Ron whispered back, looking around the vast room.

As it turned out, "seventeenth bed to the left," wasn't the first seventeenth bed to their left (young man with an injured leg), nor was it the other seventeenth bed to the left in the next antechamber (another man, this time with five cracked ribs and one blinded eye).

Ron cursed loudly, and then looked around to see if anyone had heard.

No one was near him besides Harry, who had gotten more than used to his best friend's more colorful language.

"How many bloody 'seventeenth bed to the left''s could there possibly be?" he complained loudly.

"Silence would do you well, kind sir." The voice that spoke was soft, tired, yet domineering.

But most importantly, the voice that came from further down the room was familiar.

Ron got up and looked around. "Mione?"

"Where is she?" Harry asked, pulling aside the curtain beside him. A dead woman lay there. He winced and pulled it shut.

"I'm at the last bed," came the weak, trembling voice. "Thank God both of you were noisy enough for me to hear."

Ron sprinted to the end of the room and, quite violently, pulled the curtain open.

"It's nice to see you both again," Hermione Granger said with a gentle smile.

Harry watched as Ron, with a broken cry, staggered forward and swept Hermione into his arms. He guessed that the girl must not have been too badly injured, since she did not appear to be in any pain as Ron crushed her against him.

Hermione gave Harry a brief, flickering smile over Ron's shoulder. She raised her hand in a small wave.

Harry smiled back. He wanted more than anything to come nearer to Hermione, but he felt that Ron deserved to have a moment alone with her.

He kept his distance, stood a few feet away from the bed, and turned his attention to the window beside him instead.

Ron cradled Hermione in his arms, whispering her name several times over like something of an unholy mantra as he tenderly rocked her back and forth. His fingers were clenched tightly in the material of her shirt.

Hermione, with some effort, raised her arms up as well and wound them around his neck, leaning into his powerful grasp as she did so.

Ron pulled back seconds later, gently wiping her tears away with his deft fingers and pressing ardent kisses upon her lips.

"God," he whispered, shaking his head. "I'm so glad you're all right. For the longest time, I thought you were dead."

Hermione laughed briefly, though the laugh that left her lips was mirthless. "For a time, I thought I was going to be. Then the scavengers found me."

Ron smiled back, and, fondly laying her back down on the bed, gestured for Harry to join them.

It's good to be back, Hermione thought with a slight smile—a genuine smile, as Ron lay her back down with such carefulness and care that she briefly wondered if he thought she was seriously injured, or anything of the sort.

It's good to be home again.

"Easy, now…careful up that step."

Hermione laughed as she walked up the winding staircase that led to Ron's small home, her pace brisk and easy.

"Ron," she teased with a small, fond smile, pulling him along, "you should stop being so worried about me. I'm not injured at all."

"You were just discharged from the hospital. You've got to be careful," Ron responded sternly, returning her smile with his own lopsided grin. It felt strange to be the one reprimanding Hermione this time—it had always been the other way around. He let go of her hand and watched her hurry up the remainder of the stairwell.

Hermione, her smile deepening, shook her head and rolled her eyes. "You really should stop worrying, Ron. For the time being, everything's fine. So we should make the best of it."

Ron, with only a minimal amount of hesitation, nodded. "You're right," he ran up to her, taking the steps two at a time. When he was close enough, he reached out and drew her to him with a roguish smile. Hermione, her back against his chest, looked up and returned his grin. Almost reluctantly, he removed one arm from around her waist and extracted his wand from his pocket. He tapped the door, and it creaked open, magical lock undone.

"You're right," he repeated quietly, gently guiding her into his front door as he brushed his lips across the back of her ear in a lazy caress. "We should make the best of it." Distractedly, he kicked the door shut behind him. Immediately the sound of the wind that played about and of the snow as it gently fell disappeared.

Hermione's initial instinct was to speak her assent, but after brief moments of reflection, decided that it would be wiser to show her approval of his decision. She reached up, gently threading her fingers through his fiery hair, and guided his lips towards her own.

The first kiss was nothing more than a brief convergence, a brief touching of their lips, a tempting, almost teasing, foretaste of what each one had to offer.

The one that followed was much more satisfying, stronger, more feverish, as the passion borne of long months of separation and seemingly endless weeks of unfulfilled yearning began to seep through.

The third kiss was so heated, so hungered and so frenzied that Hermione felt all traces of strength begin to drain from her. It was as if she had focused too much of her energy into their kiss, into the feel of his lips against hers, into Ron himself. She felt dangerously close to falling down upon him as the sensation of Ron's fingertips upon the base of her throat— he was beginning to unbutton her blouse—permeated her senses.

She broke away, her limbs trembling slightly as she did so. For the span of several heartbeats, she stayed scant inches away from him, her back facing him. She knew where this was all going to lead; she was no longer a naive child—far from it. But a soft, relentless voice nagged at the back of her mind, insisting that it wasn't the right time for…whatever they were going to do.

"What's wrong?" he asked quietly, stepping closer to her and obliterating all distance between them. Tenderly, he took her by the shoulders and turned her around to face him.

"Nothing," she answered, shaking her head. "I was just…thinking."

Ron took her hands in his. "About what?" His eyes glimmered in the dimmed shadows of the room.

"About us," she told him simply, shrugging as she studiously tried to ignore the hypnotic sensation of his fingers tracing tiny circles in her palm. "And about what we're going to be doing. What you intend to do…what I…I don't know," she finished miserably. "I'm just…lost. I mean, I don't think this is the right time for this, and we—"

Ron, a smile flickering upon his features, leaned forward and silenced her with a kiss, winding his arms around her waist and crushing her to him. He didn't even bother responding with words; he wasn't in the mood for another of their many debates with her or anything of the sort. He wanted to take advantage of whatever time they had together, before either one of them would be once again mired in responsibilities they would have to fulfill to rebuild the wizarding world.

Hermione didn't have the strength in her to resist. She succumbed to his warmth, his passion almost immediately. She wound her arms around his neck, pressing herself against him in a futile attempt to get closer to him; every inch of her yearned for his touch.

She was, however, the first to break away. Breaking the gentle grip she had around him, she began to nip lightly at the finely chiseled curve of his jawbone, divine torture clawing at him as she worked her way down, the slowness and the manner of how she did so transcending the reality of her actions.

Ron blindly reached out for her shirt, his fingers clumsily gliding down the cloth as he searched for the buttons. The blouse fell off easily enough underneath the pressure of his forceful tugs. Neither one of them noticed the sound of the buttons that had come undone as they fell to the wooden floor.

The feel of his hands, warm and calloused, as they slid up and down her bare back was more than enough to drive her mad, more than enough to make her feel dizzy enough to stop her actions.

Yet, she continued to trace a fiery trail down the chilled skin on his throat, ceasing her ministrations only when the cloth of the material of the shirt he wore blocked her heated path. Softly groaning her disapproving irritation, she reared back and frantically began to unbutton his shirt with adroit fingers, almost angrily pulling it off him as soon as the last one came undone. Flashing him a mischievous smile that was attractively uncharacteristic of her, she pulled him to her again and proceeded in gently nibbling upon the skin upon his right shoulder. All the while she reveled in the sensation of his arm around her waist, of his fingers around her wrist as he lifted it to his lips to kiss it, of his other fingers, entangling themselves in her hair of rough satin.

"I love you," the sweet whisper that fell from his lips as he kissed her shattered the silence that stretched between the two of them.

Hermione's eyes opened wide, and for long moments, she stood frozen, her lips till upon the masculine curve of his shoulder in an unmoving, open-mouthed kiss.

Neither one of them said those words to each other, even if they had been together in the latter years of the war—a time easily long enough to say that simple phrase. She suddenly didn't know why neither one of them had ever spoken it out loud before; she knew she loved him, and she was sure he felt the same for her. It was just something that had always gone unspoken, something that they did not have to openly acknowledge to be aware of. Something of a strange quiescence that flowed between them.

She pulled back again. Ron had already ceased his own ministrations when he realized she did not respond. Eyes of molten sapphire stared intently at her.

Hermione returned his now-lost gaze with an ardent smile. She felt the abject trepidation that stirred within him.

What took us so long to say it? she wondered briefly.

"I love you, too," she answered simply, tracing one finger down the bridge of his nose. "Didn't you ever know that?"

"I knew," he responded quietly, before closing his eyes and bringing his lips down to hers in another kiss.

The tempest of their emotions, long held-back once again wholly besieged both of them.

The blinding sunlight that was unusual for winter crept in through his window, tearing Ron Weasley away from his deep slumber.

His eyes opened, and the sight that met his gaze was one that he was willing to welcome everyday.

Hermione lay beside him, breathing soft and even, the thick blanket crumpled and twisted around her legs, leaving him with a much less than adequate amount of cloth to cover him properly.

It feels strange, to wake up in a bed totally naked beside someone you've known for the longest time without even a blanket to cover yourself up, he thought wryly. Kind of debilitating. Even if that someone is someone you're very comfortable being clothes-less around.

You're more than comfortable when you're naked around her, a voice that sounded disturbingly like Fred's or George's, teased.

After all, you wouldn't be able to do all of that if you weren't comfortable, the same voice added after what Ron assumed was several moments of profound thought.

Ron smiled inwardly and reached over to gently tug the blankets free from the snare that was a sleeping Hermione's legs.

You wouldn't be able to do many of the things you did last night, the voice went on in a very roguish tone. If his conscience had a face, Ron guessed it would be smiling quite mischievously at the moment.

Bidding the unwelcome voice goodbye, Ron gave another firm pull on the blankets. He kept on doing the same thing over and over again until a sufficient amount of it was free from the grip she had around it.

Gathering it around his waist, he lay back down with a deeply satisfied sigh. Reaching across the large bed again, he began to play with her hair, watching with some sort of detached fascination as the dark locks of her thick hair seemed to twist around his fingers before uncoiling again.

"Ron," came the sleepy voice, "I didn't know you were up."

"Hullo," he answered, leaning over her, bracing his elbows on either side of her. He bent his head down so he could look at her, even at the odd angle that their positions provided. He could feel the consistent motion of her torso as she breathed underneath his ribcage. "Did you sleep well?"

Hermione yawned, arching her back as far as their limited space would allow her to. "Very well, thank you," she murmured, with a smile. "I think sleeping in your bed does wonders for me. That's the first good night's sleep I've had in a long time."

"Maybe you should," he agreed playfully, leaning lower still and pressing his lips against her cheek.

"I'd like that."

"So would I."


Okay, so I didn't have a proper last line to end that…that thing. :-/ Ah, well, if any of you have an idea as to what would be a proper last line, just tell me by reviewing. *clicks on the little review box* Please tell me what you think. I live for comments. I don't know if I executed this thing properly, since I don't write lemons or limes too often, so I'd really love you guys if you told me. ^_^ *hugs everyone and bounces off*