She goes extra-mad in libraries, Hermione. Ron's always enjoyed watching it. This time's no exception.
"It's official," he says, meeting her at the end of an aisle and grabbing a few books off the top of her pile just before the whole thing goes toppling. "You're bonkers."
She snorts at his word choice and knocks her shoulder against his. Maybe he's still not the best at reading her (he thinks she'd like that, especially here and now: being read, Reading Hermione Granger), but he knows what it means, her shoulder and his gently colliding. It's You're annoying and Honestly, Ron and Will you ever change? and Don't change and I love you all at once. Well. Maybe he's stretching a bit, with that last one.
But maybe he's not.
"You do realize we're supposed to be taking a load off, right?" Ron says, studying the books in his hands with absent disbelief. "Maybe it's slipped out of that big brain of yours, Hermione, but we did just win a bloody war. We deserve a bit of down time."
"This is my down time, thank you very much," she says crisply. Her eyes sneak to the different shelves as they pass them; he gets the sense that he might have to fight her back on their path toward the check-out at any second.
He reaches over and curls his fingers into her jacket pocket. She looks down, surprised, then back up at him. Her cheeks have gone pink. He loves that: that she's just as clumsy at this as he is.
"What?" she demands.
"You looked like you were about to split," he explains. "Take off and grab about seventy more. And sorry, Hermione, but if you think I'm going to be your ... your book squire, then you can just forget it."
"Oh, really," she says, rolling her eyes. "I can walk out of a library. This isn't you at Honeydukes."
"Mmm," Ron says, "Honeydukes."
She laughs. A librarian glares at them. It isn't so bad. She's got nothing on Madame Pince.
They walk in chastened, happy silence for a little while. His hand travels, mischievous and bold, from her pocket to her lower back. He half-expects her to pull away. Even after all this time together, after the Long Talks About Feelings (Hermione's favourite) and the Glorious Snogging Sessions (Ron's favourite), it's hard to believe that this, the two of them, is ... well, is anything. Just plain is. But here they are. She moves a little closer, and they walk along, and no doubt any sad library-dwelling sod who looks at them as they pass will just think they're boyfriend and girlfriend.
"They're all novels, you see," Hermione says then.
"Huh?" Ron looks down at her.
"The books," Hermione says, sounding a little breathless. "I haven't read a novel in ages. The closest, I suppose, was Beedle the Bard, but that wasn't exactly stress-free, was it?"
"Not exactly," Ron agrees.
"But these - these are all just books I've wanted to read," Hermione says. There's something in her voice, something drifting and a bit silly, that reminds him of Luna. It makes him smile. "Or reread. But it always seemed so unimportant, you know? Fiction. I knew it was the last thing I ought to pay attention to, with the world falling down all around us. If I was going to read, it had to be to - to prepare us. To help us fight. But now ... Now I feel as if I've got all the time in the world for reading. Reading whatever I want to."
"Well, yeah," Ron says, drumming his fingers affectionately against her back. "You could read the whole bloody library. In fact, I'll be disappointed if you don't, now."
Her mouth quirks. "Is that a challenge?"
"You bet it is."
"Well then. Watch me, Ronald."
"Always do," he replies, honest. (And thoughtless.) "But, er. Not in a creepy, lurky sort of way. That's Viktor Krum stuff, that is."
"Really?" She lifts her eyebrows at him, but he can tell she's pleased. "You're harping on about that? Still?"
A subject change seems smart right about here. He peers at the book on top of her pile. "What's a Middlemarch?"
"Oh, Ron," she says, just like she always has.
"Do they march down the middle, is what I want to know. I mean, that's what you'd expect, but those book-writing blokes can be right tricky bastards-"
"Come on, then, book squire," she interrupts, sliding away from him. She quickens her pace, throwing back cheerful glances; like (almost) always, he's glad to be following her.