Disclaimer: It's all JK Rowling's world and characters. She just generously lets us play with it.

A Quiet Night

Hermione was tossing and turning in bed, frustrated to the point of tears that she could not fall asleep for the third night in a row. She had tried everything she knew – counting sheep, relaxation exercises, self hypnosis. Nothing worked. She wished she had started brewing a sleeping draught the first night she arrived at the Burrow three nights ago as it took a full week to reach proper efficacy. She made a mental note to start preparing one first thing in the morning.

Hermione rolled over on her stomach and looked at the small clock on the nightstand near Ginny's empty bed (unable to face the darkness and nightmares, Ginny had been sleeping in Molly and Arthur's room since they had returned to the Burrow three days earlier). The clock read three o'clock in the morning. Hermione groaned and buried her face in her pillow, stifling a frustrated sob. She knew why she couldn't sleep and she knew that no amount of counting sheep or relaxation exercises would help. She could not sleep because it was simply too quiet.

For months – nearly a full year – Hermione had fallen asleep every night to the sound of Ron's gentle snoring. It had become something of a lullaby to her. As long as she could hear his snores, she knew he was safe and she could sleep. And during those terrible weeks when Ron was gone, she at least had Harry's deep rhythmic breathing to help lull her to sleep, though it was not nearly as effective as the comforting snores she knew so well.

Unable to stand the relentless silence anymore, Hermione threw back the covers of her bed, sat up and buried her head in her hands in desperation. She needed sleep. Every cell in her body was screaming at her to rest. But every time she lay down, the deafening silence thundered around her keeping her awake as if it were a freight train.

Hermione stood up, knowing the only chance to relieve herself of her insomnia rested with Ron. Surely he wouldn't mind if she joined him in slumber in his room. After all, she had spent every night with him in some capacity until three nights ago. Those first few days spent at Hogwarts after the battle, Hermione slept in the Boy's dormitory of Gryffindor tower, curled up next to Ron. They had both been too tired and wrought with grief to do anything beside hold each other those nights, but Hermione had still waited until she could hear Ron's gentle snoring before drifting off in his arms.

Hermione knew that Harry was gone tonight – staying near the Ministry in London until tomorrow when he would return for Fred's funeral. Hermione shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself. Just thinking about the funeral made the room feel even more empty, cold and lonely.

This last thought was the final motivation she needed. Her decision made, Hermione slid her feet in the slippers by the bed and grabbed her wand (not wanting to be away from it for any length of time). She momentarily debated pulling some pajama bottoms on under her knee length cotton night shirt, but decided there was no point. It was a warm night and she was sure to be even warmer curled up next to Ron. Beside, it wasn't as though she was naked. She was, after all, wearing underwear.

Hermione exited Ginny's bedroom and climbed the stairs to Ron's room as quietly as possible - not wanting to rouse anyone in the Burrow. She doubted it would matter though. The Weasley's had so many other things on their minds right now… much more important and tragic things to attend to then their youngest son sharing a bed with his…

Girlfriend?

Hermione stopped on the landing outside Ron's room with that thought hovering in her brain. Is that what she was – what they were – now? Boyfriend and girlfriend? Somehow that title did not seem adequate to describe what they were to each other after everything they had been through together. But, they were definitely something. There was no denying the indelible bond that had formed between them, especially after the fiery kiss they had shared when the world was falling to pieces around them during the battle of Hogwarts. They had been nearly inseparable, except during bedtime, since returning to the Burrow after the battle. But there had been so much to attend to what with planning Fred's funeral and constant Ministry and press inquiries, they had very little time to really be together… alone. Hermione was suddenly very glad she had decided to come to Ron's room tonight. Even though she knew they would be sleeping, Hermione relished the thought of some privacy with Ron – just she and him tonight.

Hermione turned the doorknob and pushed Ron's bedroom door open slowly so as not to wake him with its squeaking hinges. She slid inside the room as soon as she could fit through the opening and, facing the door, pushed it closed just as quietly.

When she turned around to face the room, she was surprised to find Ron not in his bed, but curled up in the windowsill of the window that overlooked the back garden, looking out at the full moon. The window was open and a cool breeze hit Hermione suddenly. She let out a small gasp of surprise. Ron's head turned sharply at the sound, alarm in his eyes, but they softened immediately upon seeing Hermione standing there. Hermione stood looking at Ron, feeling suddenly embarrassed and foolish. She had planned on Ron being asleep when she came in here – that she would simply crawl into bed with him and finally drift off to the sleep her body was so desperately craving. Tears suddenly and irrationally sprang to her eyes.

"I… I couldn't sleep." Hermione muttered trying to blink back the tears before Ron saw them.

Ron, not taking his eyes off Hermione, hopped down from the window ledge, crossed the room in three quick strides, and embraced Hermione. His lips captured hers without hesitation.

Hermione was taken off guard by Ron's sudden display of passion and gasped at the shock of suddenly feeling herself in his arms. It took only seconds for her to melt into his embrace, however. Every nerve in her body seemed to come alive at Ron's touch and the places where his skin touched hers seemed to catch fire. Every cell and sense she had was consumed with Ron… the feel of his large warm hands against her back pressing her against the hard planes of his body; the smell of his sweet breath as he kissed her; the taste of his lips that she gently, instinctively, caressed with her tongue.

This last, daring gesture drew a deep, guttural moan from Ron and he tightened his embrace around Hermione and backed her against the door she had come through only a moment before. Hermione threaded her hands in Ron's hair as he deepened their kiss, his tongue probing Hermione's lips until it mingled with hers. Hermione felt as though her thighs would ignite and she pulled Ron even closer as if his body could quell the flames.

Hermione reached down and grasped the hem of Ron's t-shirt. His lips broke contact with hers only long enough for her to pull it over his head and throw it on the floor. Hermione's hands caressed the muscled planes of Ron's torso before she snaked them around his back to embrace him again. Ron trembled at Hermione's gentle caress and he sighed deeply. His lips slid from hers down to her neck, her collarbone, the shallow divot of skin at the base of her throat. Hermione closed her eyes in ecstasy. This was the best she had ever felt in her life.

Ron's soft lips slid up Hermione's throat until they met hers again. He placed a soft kiss on her lips before pulling away. He gently placed his hands around the back of her neck and looked at her intensely. There was so much love in Ron's sapphire eyes that it literally took Hermione's breath away.

A silence that spoke louder than words ever could fell between them…a space of time in which the way they looked at each other confessed how much they loved each other. They stood like that for a long time, just looking at each other until both their eyes were wet with the magnitude of emotion the moment created.

"I love you, Ron." Hermione whispered, unable to contain the words any longer. Ron smiled softly and placed the back of his hand against Hermione's cheek.

"I love you, Hermione." Ron replied. "I've always loved you…even if I was too much of a git to know it."

Hermione chuckled softly and Ron bent down to place a soft, gentle kiss on Hermione's lips. Then, in one swift fluid motion, Ron reached down behind Hermione's knees and lifted her up in his arms. Cradling her against his chest with Hermione's arms wrapped around his neck, he carried her over to his bed and placed her gently on top of it. She lay back on his pillows, inhaling his heavenly scent from the linens, while he climbed in next to her and pulled his Chudley Cannons quilt over them both. He placed himself over her, supporting himself with his arms to keep his weight off of her, and placed his lips to hers again. Hermione wrapped her arms around Ron's neck and pulled him to her, not minding the weight, just wanting to feel his body next to hers. Ron willingly obliged. He wrapped his arms tightly around Hermione and pulled her into a sitting position straddling his lap. Hermione wrapped her legs around Ron's waist and her heart sped up at the thrill of feeling his hardness pressing against her.

Hermione's nightshirt had crept up to her waist when Ron pulled her onto his lap and he now placed his hands on her thighs and squeezed gently. Hermione gasped at the feeling which ignited in her groin at his touch. Ron slid his hands underneath Hermione's nightshirt and up her back. Hermione wrapped herself even tighter around Ron. She wanted him… needed him the way one needs air or water. It wasn't just lust driving her actions - it was necessity!

Hermione put her hands on either side of Ron's face and forcefully pressed her lips to his. Ron fell onto his back taking Hermione with her. She smiled against his mouth but did not let her lips break from his.

They continued on like this for several more minutes, caressing and kissing passionately until they were both panting heavily. Only then did their lips part and Hermione reached for the bottom of her nightshirt to pull it over her head. But, to her surprise, Ron stopped her.

"Hermione…wait." He said breathlessly, putting his hands on top of hers. Hermione looked at him curiously.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked. Ron closed his eyes and squeezed Hermione's hand as if what he was about to say caused him physical pain.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but… I don't think we should do this tonight." Ron said, opening his eyes and looking at Hermione like he was fighting the overwhelming urge to pull her clothes off and take her right there.

"Why?" Hermione asked. "Ron, if you're worried I'm not ready, I am!"

"Oh no, 'Mione, it's not that. It's just… this probably sounds really mental, but… this isn't how I want our first time to be. Not here, like this, with my parents sleeping a floor below us and…" Ron hesitated and swallowed hard. "not with Fred's funeral tomorrow." Hermione squeezed Ron's hand sympathetically.

"I want the first time we make love…" (Hermione's heart skipped a beat at his words) "…to be only about us. I don't want us to be thinking about anything but each other and I'm afraid that tonight... well... there is a reason neither of us could sleep tonight, right?" Ron said.

Hermione nodded. She knew exactly what Ron meant and she knew he was right. While she wanted him more then anything, she knew coming to his room tonight was something of an act of desperation and that's not why she wanted to end up making love to him.

"I understand." She whispered, squeezing his hand again. Ron opened his arms and embraced Hermione again.

"I love you, Hermione." Ron said, burying his face in her hair. Hermione held Ron tighter.

"I love you, too." She whispered.

They stayed in that position for several minutes before Hermione succumbed to a yawn. Ron chuckled.

"Bored with me already are you?" He joked.

Hermione sighed. "I'm just so tired. I have slept hardly at all in three nights. The room feels so empty without you."

Hermione rolled over and placed her head on Ron's shoulder as he wrapped her in his strong arms. For the first time in days, she felt completely peaceful. Her eyes grew heavier and heavier with each passing moment, but it was not until she heard the lullaby of Ron's quiet and steady snores that she was able to drift off to sleep at last.