Hermione could feel her heart thudding violently in her chest. She turned on the spot, grabbing Ron's arm. "Ron," she whimpered.
"What is it, Mione?" Ron looked seriously into her eyes and raised a brow. "What?"
"I don't know, perhaps we should've told Harry before we decided to do this." She bit her lip and shook her head quickly, shutting her eyes and taking a deep breath. "No, we're already here, so there isn't any turning back, I've just got to stop thinking about everything."
Ron looked at her, amused at her instant change of heart and brilliant solution. He exhaled as she released his arm and wished that she wouldn't have. "Come on, then," he said.
Ron was walking a few steps ahead of Hermione through the dark and wet cave. Drips and small clattering noises rebounded against the shiny grey stalactites and stalagmites.
"Are you sure you'll be able to do it, though?" Hermione asked, taking a few small and nervous steps around a large bone. "I don't want you to if it'll make you uncomfortable..."
"Relax, Mione." Ron gave her a devilish half smile. "Honestly, it's no big deal. Besides, you didn't seem so worried just earlier when I used it in the Prefects bathroom..."
Hermione sighed, "I know. It's just that it seemed so much safer in Hogwarts. Even with everything happening. Down here it all feels so evil, so dark."
"It's okay," Ron assured her. He took a few more steps forward and looked back to see Hermione's face still ridden with worry. "All right," he said, stopping once again and holding both of Hermione's arms.
"What?" She demanded, her lips forming a tiny smile at Ron's seriousness.
Ron didn't seem to be amused, "I don't want you to worry about this so much. Everything is going to be fine. And I mean it when I say everything. Do you hear? Everything will be just fine."
Hermione looked up at Ron, opening her mouth slightly as if to begin talking, but he began before she could.
"We're going to destroy this bloody horcrux, Mione. And then whatever's left, too. And then Harry is going to defeat him. He'll defeat him and then we'll all be safe. For good this time!" Ron's eyes were lit up with delight as was his smile: "We'll all go back to the burrow for a nice warm meal. You, me, Harry, Ginny, Mum, Dad, Fred, George, Fleur, Bill, Percy, Lupin, Tonks... Am I forgetting anybody?" He laughed and Hermione couldn't help but laugh along with him.
"You're forgetting Neville, and Luna, they'll have to come along," she added with a chuckle. "Oh, all right, I believe you. After all we're dangerously close to destroying this one, aren't we?"
Ron nodded, letting go of her arms and wrapping his around her waist. Hermione reciprocated the gesture, wrapping her arms around his neck and grinning from ear to ear.
"Well, if it isn't Ronald Billius Weasley, the gentleman," Hermione teased as they made their way closer to the Chamber.
Ron raised a brow, "Always the tone of surprise..."
"Oh, shut up," Hermione said with a giggle.
Finally the two of them arrived at the large circular metal entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, endowed with snakes and a lock only a certain pattern of rhythmic reptilian movement could undo.
Ron opened his mouth and let some awful hissing sounds escape his lips.
Hermione furrowed her brow and watched Ron look at the entrance in bewilderment. "Isn't it working?"
Ron shrugged and tried once more. This time, from a small opening a metal snake slithered out and made its way around the circular entrance, unlocking it for them. The large door swung open and Ron led the way.
"It's scary," Hermione said, walking down the large pathway surrounded by large statues of snakes. Ron nodded, quickly making his way toward the large statue of Salazar Slytherin.
"There!" He cried, delighted. Perfectly convenient, the skeleton of the basilisk from second year occurred dead in the middle of the chamber, right in front of the statue of Salazar.
Hermione stood watching as Ron collected basilisk fangs from the skull. "I reckon we need to bring extras just in case," he said.
"Yes, Ron, brilliant," Hermione said, quite astounded.
"Here," Ron told Hermione as he handed her five fangs. She set them down on the stone floor and reached into her bag, revealing the cup.
Ron picked up one of the fangs that Hermione had just set down and brought it up to Hermione, "you're going to do it."
"No, I can't," Hermione urged, forcing the cup at Ron.
Ron accepted the cup, but not before handing a fang to Hermione. He knelt down and set the cup on the ground. "Yes, you can." He said, watching Hermione kneel down beside him.
Hermione looked at him, afraid and anxious, and then exhaled before touching the fang to the golden cup. At the very moment that the exact tip of the fang pressed against the ancient gold, a loud shriek and a few howls shredded through the air and pierced their ears before dissipating.
"Maybe I shouldn't," Hermione said, her eyes wide.
"You just have to do it, one good stab," Ron encouraged her with his eyes and placed his hand on her shoulder. "I know you can do this. Bloody hell, if I can destroy a horcrux there's no reason you shouldn't be able to, right?"
Hermione allowed a miniscule smile before gripping the fang as tightly as she possibly could. She could feel her muscles constricting around the giant object and she then raised it high above her head. With no further hesitation she stabbed the fang quickly into the cup.
A large flame erupted from the cup, and Ron grabbed it and stuffed it into his jacket pocket after a large dark cloud exited its presence. Then, out of nowhere water was gushing from the eyes and mouth of the giant statue of Salazar Slytherin. Out of all every large pipe scattered high and low in the chamber water rushed towards them. Hermione grabbed the basilisk fangs from the ground and stood up quickly, meeting Ron and feeling comfort from his arms tightly wrapped around her as the water crashed onto them from every angle possible.
Finally the tsunami dispersed and left Ron and Hermione, tightly embraced and holding the basilisk fangs.
Hermione looked into Ron's eyes and down at his wet, soft lips. Ron did the same and for a moment Hermione was sure he was going to make the move she was waiting for. The move she'd been waiting for since forever.
"Come on, then, we've got to go!" Hermione said, realizing that Ronald was still as thick as ever. "Oh, no! How are we going to get out of here?" She cried.
Ron lit up, "follow me," he said, leading her back up the ladder and through the entrance and into the dark and wet cave. They were both shuddering and running quite slowly due to their frigid statuses.
"Accio broom!" Ron called, waving his wand around. They were at a point in the cave where if one were to look up, they could see the moon. It took a few moments, but surely enough a broom zipped into the Chamber.
"Hop on," Ron said to Hermione with a smile.
Hermione rolled her eyes and straddled the broom, adjusting herself and the fangs behind Ronald.
Ron kicked off the ground and flew as quickly and well as he could, fangs stuffed in his zipped jacket. Several minutes passed, and curses were fired at the incoming broom, but Ron managed to land them safely in the Courtyard.
"Come on!" Hermione shrieked, curses flying from every direction toward them and several types of beasts were now involved in the fighting.
Ron and Hermione skidded through the rubble and hopped over obstacles, avoiding curses and beasts before finally seeing him. Harry was running around a corner and his gaze met Ron's instantly.
"Where the hell have you been?" Harry shouted.
"Chamber of Secrets," said Ron.
"Chamber—what?" said Harry, coming to an unsteady halt before them.
"It was Ron, all Ron's idea!" said Hermione breathlessly. "Wasn't is absolutely brilliant? There we were, after you left, and I said to Ron, even if we find another one, how are we going to get rid of it? We still hadn't got rid of the cup! And then he thought of it! The basilisk!"
"Something to get rid of Horcruxes," said Ron simply.
Harry's eyes dropped to the objects clutched in Ron and Hermione's arms, great curved fangs, torn, he now realized, from the skull of a dead basilisk.
"But how did you get in there?" he asked, staring from the fangs to Ron. "You need to speak Parseltongue!"
"He did!" whispered Hermione. "Show him, Ron!"
Ron made a horrible strangled hissing noise.
"It's what you did to open the locket," he told Harry apologetically. "I had to have a few goes to get it right, but," he shrugged modestly, "we got there in the end."
"He was amazing!" said Hermione. "Amazing!"
"So we're another Horcrux down," said Ron, and from under his jacket he pulled the mangled remains of Hufflepuff's cup. "Hermione stabbed it. Thought she should, she hasn't had the pleasure yet."
"Genius!" yelled Harry.
"It was nothing," said Ron, though he looked delighted with himself. "So what's new with you?"