Disclaimer: I really wish I was J.K., but I'm not.
Ron came back.
He came back.
That's all Hermione could think.
They were the only words that were running through her head.
He came back.
Hermione inhaled deeply, the icy air making her shudder. She wrapped the dark blue jacket tighter around her shoulders and risked a wary glance back through the gap in the cream tent. Harry was tucked into his canvas bunk with a thick red blanket around his legs. His jet black hair was ruffled a little and his face looked oddly bare without his round glasses. The thin-rimmed lenses, alongside the crushed remains of the recently destroyed locket horcrux, were coiled on the small fold-out table beside him, and from the placement of his hand; he was obviously handling them before he slept. Ron was curled up in a worn armchair, the dirty grey blanket he took on his... adventure... draped over his body right up to his chin. His hair was dirty and still wet, and he had scratches all over his cheeks; as well as a blue-black lump under his right eye. He smiled crookedly in his sleep and his fair eyelashes fluttered. His knees were pulled up around his chin, and he still had a firm grasp on his wand.
Hermione sighed. She was trying to stay angry at him but it was proving to be quite difficult. She would glare at the back of his head often, but then he would turn around and their eyes would meet; dissolving all signs of resentment. When she spoke to him, she would do coldly, and he'd look at her that made her groan inwardly. Their arms would brush as they walked and she would blush, even if she didn't want to.
Hermione sighed again. This anger thing wasn't working out the way she had hoped. She wanted to forgive him, she really did; but he had left her. He had left her practically alone. Even though she had Harry; Hermione had felt that, without Ron, she was lonely... lost.
But he had come back.
She sniffed and warmed her hands over the small fire brewing in front of her. The woods surrounding the enchanted tent glistened in the moonlight. The forest of Dean. Snow layered the ground, the sound of crackling ice wafting from the frozen river. The tent was tucked into a slight ridge, so Hermione had to straighten her back to see over the mound before her. Thin trees wobbled in the night breeze, as she shivered. Between the trees was pitch black, as was the sky. There was an inability to spot intruders due to this, an inability to see Death Eaters, Snatchers, killers. Hermione grasped her wand tight at the thought.
Behind her in the tent, springs creaked.
Probably just Harry, she thought.
She stared into the darkness, her hair fluttering around her face. Without warning, a grubby, grey blanket was pushed gently onto her shoulders. She jumped and gasped, shooting around and raising her wand. Ron stood up straight and raised his hands in surrender, eyeing her wand.
"Easy, Hermione! I'm sorry; I didn't mean to scare you."
Hermione exhaled in relief and turned back to the fire, now dying out, casting a creepy glow. She re-crossed her legs and squeezed her knees.
"Merlin, Ron. Say something next time."
Ron apologized again.
"Do you mind if I sit?" He gestured to the space next to her, covered with damp twigs.
She glanced at the space, then up at Ron, before nodding hesitantly. He bumped down and crossed his legs as well, his left knee knocking against her right. His ears turned red and she smiled.
"Did you want anything?" She asked, and then regretted it after hearing how stubborn it sounded.
"Nope." Ron shrugged. "Saw you were cold, so..." He pointed blankly at the blanket around her shoulders. Hermione peered at it and blushed, pulling it around her tighter.
There was an air of awkwardness around them, having not spoken properly since he left. Hermione opened her mouth to speak then closed it. Ron silently babbled like a fish.
"Whydidyoucomeback?" Hermione suddenly rushed. Ron frowned at her.
"Why... did you come back?" She had been dying to ask that question. Ron sighed and looked at the tiny flames.
"Because... I... well, I... I couldn't-"
"Spit it out, Ronald."
"Okay! I couldn't function right."
This caught Hermione off guard.
"Yeah, function. My brain wasn't working; I kept making wrong decisions and getting caught by Snatchers, walking into the nests of some animal and being chased out..." He pulled down his collar to reveal a nasty-looking gash on his neck.
"And to be honest, it wasn't just little wrong decisions like Snatchers and animals." Ron sighed. "There was the major... mistake." He blushed.
"Go on." Hermione virtually whispered.
"Leaving... leaving y-you." Ron stammered, his ears as red as his jumper.
Hermione's heart danced and she blinked rapidly.
"A-a-and Harry, o' course." Ron rushed, trying to cover his tracks.
Hermione stared into the fire, smiling widely. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ron watching her.
"Yes?" She looked up and caught his eye.
"I'm... so sorry I left. Really. Biggest mistake ever." He muttered the last line with a slight chuckle, and he looked so sincere, Hermione had to resist the urge to hug him.
After a few minutes had passed, Ron said,
"Do you want me to take over?"
"No! No. It's still a little while until your shift." Hermione insisted. "You must be exhausted."
"Thanks." Ron smiled, standing up. He paused, and then bent down and kissed her on the top of her head. Hermione ducked her face so he couldn't see her grin.
When she heard the creak of springs and then, not long later, contented snoring; she laughed aloud. She placed her hands either side of her face and felt her warm blush.
"Ohh..." She chuckled happily, looking up at the sky. That sure made her night. Maybe even made her week; her month. A star sparkled in the dark sky and it glinted in Hermione's eyes. The world was silent again for a moment, aside from the soft snoring, and Hermione closed her eyes. Out of nowhere, she felt something sit beside her. She thought maybe it was Ron again, but it was too small. She opened one eye and then shot open the other, as sat the other side of the fire; ears pricked, eyes and head alert; was a silvery Jack Russell terrier. Wisps of silver smoke wafted off its coat, and its blue eyes glanced at Hermione. She gasped as she spotted Ron's eyes in the terrier's, and his patronus growled gently. It looked intently out at the forest, ears alerted to anything. Hermione inhaled in joy when she realised why his patronus was there.
Comforted by the terrier's presence, Hermione leant back and closed her eyes for the rest of her shift, waiting for Ron to come back. She knew it was for his shift, but she still waited peacefully until his return, wanting his own presence again.
As the minutes ticked on; Harry and Ron asleep, Hermione content; the Jack Russell patronus watched over her, protecting her.
Awake or asleep, with her or not, the man or spirit; Ron had decided whilst he was away, that he would always look over Hermione.
A/N. Cheesy, much? ;)