Three a.m., on a particularly stifling night, Ron Weasley could be found trudging down the boys' dormitory stairs. He had woken in sweaty sheets and was disappointed to find that he didn't have any Pumpkin Juice left in his trunk. Harry hadn't either, so Ron had had no choice but to borrow Harry's invisibility cloak and Maurader's Map for a trip down to the kitchens. His throat was parched, he was hotter than Lucifer, and he figured there was only one thing to cure this: ice cream.

Ron stopped catiously at the end of the stairway and glanced over the map to see if anybody was in the Gryffindor common room. He and Harry had learned the hard way to check first after a very unpleasant encounter with Lavender and Seamus. Though the two had been too involved with each other to notice Harry and Ron, it was dreadful all the same. Ron shuddered at the memories and brought his attention back to the map.

Ron's eyes widened slightly in surprised when he found that the common room was empty except for one person -- Hermione. He peered closer to find she was in front of the fire. He wondered briefly how she could stand being so close to the fire in this heat but quickly decided this was not the important part of her being in the common room at three in the morning.

Ron sighed deeply, wondering if she was still studying. He walked down the stairs as loudly as possible -- just to grate her nerves. Only, when he found her in one of the most popular chairs, he also found that she was asleep, head resting on the page of a thick book.

Ron nudged her, but received no response. After a few more nudgings from him Hermione opened her eyes and blinked sleepily. Suddenly she seemed to realize where she was and jolted upwards.

"Oh no! I have a test! I can't fall asleep, I have to study!' she cried out shrilly and began to urgently flip through the pages of the book she had fallen asleep on.

"Jeez, calm down, Hermione," Ron said, rolling his eyes. "Don't tell me you're *still* studying for that Transfiguration test tomorrow."

Hermione's eyes flashed angrily. "If you and Harry weren't such procrastinators you would be studying too!"

"I doubt I will ever stay up until three a.m. to studdy, Herm." Ron sighed in exasperation. "Besides, Harry and I *did* study. Remember? Only we tried studying at a sane time for only an hour. Hermione, the test isn't that important!"

"Maybe not to you," Hermione snapped, "but I *care* about my education and want to get top marks on this test."

"Hermione," Ron began patiently, "this is crazy. You're acting worse than when the O.W.L.S last year. This is only a little test, not even an exam. What's wrong?" He put a hand on her shoulder in what he must have thought was a comforting way.

Hermione shook her head fiercely and pushed his hand away. "You don't understand," she mumbled distractedly. "So back off."

"I don't understand you now?" Ron scoffed. "Hermione, it's me, *Ron*. Remember me, your best mate? I understand you better than anyone."

Hermione snorted. "Right. Now quit being such a prat and leave me alone."

"Hermione, you need to stop this," Ron said, his voice sounding more intense than usual. "You're slaving yourself over something unnecessary."

"Ron--"

"Hermione," Ron interrupted in a mocking version of her own lecturing tone of voice. "Harry and I *never* study and we get decent marks. And that's just us. If you didn't study I wouldn't doubt an A+ on your paper. Why don't you put the book down and come to the kitchens with me? I have Harry's cloak."

Hermione ignored his preposition and pulled a book from beside her onto her lap. "You and Harry are different from me."

"How so?"

"You're . . . *naturally* smart. I'm book smart."

"And what do you mean by that?" Ron pressed.

"Just exactly as I said!" Hermione said, sounding annoyed that he didn't understand her. "I read books constantly and always have to study. If I ever acted like you and Harry I would get grades like-like *Neville's*." (She ended the last word in a horrified tone.)

Ron stared at her in disbelief. "You don't really believe that do you?"

"I just said it, didn't I?" Hermione said huffily.

"Well, it's not true. Hermione, if you ever didn't study for a test, God forbid, you'd probably still have the top marks. And if you never cracked a book unless necessary, as Harry and I myself, I'm still convinced you would get top marks. You're smarter than Harry and I put together, Mione, even without the books. So stop being such an idiot and come down with me for something to eat."

Hermione looked up doubtfully at Ron. "I honestly don't know why I even bothered to talk to you! You're so . . . ugh!" Hermione let her hands up in exasperation she uttered her words in disgust.

"Hey! For once I'm trying to be nice, can't you appreciate that?" Ron asked, offended.

"Just . . . Ron, I need to study," Hermione pleaded.

"No, you don't," Ron said in a firm voice that made Hermione obey for the moment and look up to listen to what he had to say. "This studying has gotten out of hand lately, Hermione. Now that I think about it, you probably haven't been sleeping for weeks, have you? There are these dark circles under your eyes that even *I* don't think are becoming. And when was the last time you ate a meal with us? Normally you skip it for the chance to go visit the library or do homework up in your bed."

"N.E.W.T.S," Hermione said quietly, pretending as though Ron weren't in the room and went back to her book. "I have to study for N.E.W.T.S." She finished firmly, her voice slightly higher than usual with her insistance.

Ron sighed and stood up. "Look, I know you're not going to listen to me so . . ." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Can't you at least acknowledge that I care and was concerned."

"When you have no reason to be, I might add."

Ron clicked his tongue in annoyance and walked away to the picture frame opening.

"Ron -- wait!"

Ron turned around, a little surprised, and found Hermione standing up, nervously wringing her hands. "I'll come with you." She smiled slightly. "I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast and I'm starving."

Ron grinned at her. "You're more than welcome to come with me. In fact, you're always welcome to come with me; anywhere."

Hermione grinned back at him and they both escaped under the invisibility cloak.

In fear of being caught, neither spoke the whole way to the kitchens. Hermione didn't even bother to give a freedom speech to the house elves when they arrived. This made Ron give her a double glance and he wasn't surprised to see that Hermione was housing the signs of exhaustion. His heart ached slightly for Hermione, but he ignored it and asked the elves for some chocolate ice cream for both of them.

After they had been given the requested items, Ron shooed the creatures away and led Hermione to a corner where they weren't bothered so that they could talk privately.

However, neither of them talked after they sat down. Both were left to their thoughts and neither seemed to notice the silence.

"Ron?" Hermione asked after a few moments, her voice tentative.

"Yeah?"

"Do you really think I'm as smart as you and Harry?" she asked quietly. Her eyes were trained in her bowl as she stirred the ice cream and awaited his answer nervously.

"Oh, Hermione!" Ron let out a short laugh, then realized that Hermione was being serious. "Well what a silly question to ask. If I were offered a million galleons to the correct answer of that question I would say yes without hesitation. You are the goddess of all smart people who ever walked the earth. You're so smart that you make me want to be smarter when I'm around you. Which has to mean something, right? What do you think my grades would be like if you weren't my friend?"

Hermione grinned, a slight blush on her face from his words.

"You're the smartest girl I've ever known," Ron said. "And you're the only one who can be as witty as I when it comes to a banter," he added with a wink.

Hermione smiled shyly at him and then turned her head down to her bowl. Ron scooped a big spoonful of ice cream into his mouth so that he wouldn't have to open his mouth and blunder out anything else stupid.

"Ron?" Hermione said after a moment.

"Yes, Mione?"

"Thank you," she said sincerely, meeting his gaze and smiling warmly at him..

Ron's eyes melted at the sight of her pleased expression. His heart began to speed up and his stomach let out a few pleasurable leaps until Hermione finally broke his gaze. Ron grinned at her blushing cheeks and without thinking let his hand wander up to touch her hair. Hermione let her head up sharply, surprised, and Ron dropped his arm awkwardly.

The chatter turned back to less serious topics and eventually the two became so tired they headed back to the Gryffindor common room. Hermione was gathering her books up when Ron tapped her one the shoulder.

"Yes?" she inquired as she turned around.

Ron leaned down and pecked her quickly on the cheek. He mumbled something incoherently and moved to escape to his dorm again.

Hermione would have no such thing and grapped his arm to turn him back to her. "What was that for?" she asked, her voice full of amusement.

Ron shrugged and stared down at his feet, his ears aflame. "It just seemed like a good idea. Sorry."

"Don't be," Hermione said. She put a hand on the back of his neck and led his lips to her own for a very brief kiss and grinned at the bewildered look on his face when they parted. She smiled back innocently. "It just seemed like a good idea."

Ron's smile became almost giddy and she let him go back to his bed. She felt almost as giddy as he looked, and looked down at the stack of books. Her smile turned to a frown as she contemplated whether to continue studying. Finally, she smiled again and decided to listen to Ron.

She left the books on a coffee table and walked up to her dormitory without a second's glance back at them.

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Author's Notes: Thanks to my betas: Ash, Jay, and Amy. Sorry if this is too fluffy for you and sorry that there was no plot. Please, however, leave a review J