He’d been lying in the same position, on the same bed, for a countless number of hours, nervous energy building as he patiently waited for Harry to return. With little else to occupy his mind, he’d spent his time tracing the swirling pattern on the ceiling with his eyes, the stiff cardboard mattress digging painfully into his spine. He desperately needed to sleep, eyes drifting shut every time he let his guard down. But he knew it was an impossibility, the image of a dozen armed Death Eaters killing him while he slept the only thing forcing his tired lids back open. That and protecting her…
Ron looked to the side where, beside the bed, Hermione was curled up on an ageing sofa, an empty bottle of sleeping pills discarded on the floor before her. She’d been so tired the night before, and had postponed sleep in order to adequately plan the little details of their Horcrux finding excursion over the next few months. She was always planning, and strategizing, and organising what was to come next. It was what she was best at and what she relished; telling people what to do and how to do it. But it was taking its toll, and after admitting she could barely sit upright with exhaustion, Hermione had finally accepted the tablets and had fallen, blissfully, asleep before she had time to argue. She looks so beautiful when she’s asleep. And when she’s talking, and eating, and… breathing.
He’d been aware of his feelings for his best friend for a matter of years, but had never managed to do anything about them. He’d wanted to for so long, had dreamt of holding her, and kissing her and… loving her, every single night since the ball in his fourth year, but knew his dreams could only ever be just dreams. Because she could never feel the same way about me as I do her…
But once in a while he felt something change in her, as if she could suddenly feel what he’d been feeling all these years. He could see the fire burn, momentarily, behind her eyes. But then it was gone.
It was never going to happen. Nothing like a good dose of reality to spur you onwards, eh Weasley? But there’s always hope…
He sighed, and looked at his watch. 7:39. It was 7:39 and Harry hadn’t come back yet.
Ron knew he shouldn’t worry, knew that his friend was more than capable of defending himself if anything went wrong. But he also knew how many extremely capable witches and wizards had given their lives in the name of everything good.
Because let’s be honest here, anything that can kill Dumbledore won’t bat an eye-lid at killing any one of you lot…
Still, Ron mused, there was nothing to be worried about. Harry had only apparated a few miles away where he was to meet with a number of Order members to discuss plans for finding the remaining Horcrux’s. Plans that he and Hermione weren’t important enough to be privy to. Not that it mattered. All Ron cared about was being valuable to Harry, and being at his side when everything, inevitably, went wrong.
Ron turned onto his side, a protruding bedspring making it uncomfortable to lie on his back any longer. From his new position, Hermione was lying directly in front of him, eyes flickering beneath her lids as if she were in the throes of a nightmare. The rest of her face was still, lips slightly parted as she continued to sleep, momentarily oblivious to the world that fought around her. He was suddenly awe-struck by how perfect he found her, fascinated by the soft contours of her face as she slept.
Ron sat up as if he had been electrocuted at hearing his own name pass idly from Hermione’s lips, the muttered sound barely audible in the silence of the room. He looked again at her face, searching for some sort of answer, but found she was once again still, her lips unmoving.
You must be dreaming, Weasley…
Ron turned back around, momentarily oblivious to the bedspring poking into the small of his back as his thoughts raced with other matters, that one word playing over and over again in his mind. Hermione had said his name. Hermione had said his name in her sleep, while she was dreaming. Even though he heard it, he couldn’t quite believe. Why would she ever dream about me? She can do better…
Ron blushed a little as he considered his own dreams, his own blissful fantasies where Hermione was completely his, and his alone. He never, for one second, thought that she might dream the same of him. But then, he considered, she might have said your name in a different way. Ron’s thoughts took a suddenly darker turn as he pictured the dreams he’d being having more recently that were far from blissful. The months of searching for Horcrux’s had taken a toll on Ron’s subconscious, turning his dreams into visual representations of his own extreme fear about himself and his friends. How many times have you seen her die in your own head? How many times have you woken up screaming because you thought she’s just been taken by the bloody Death Eaters? You’re her friend, you idiot. If nothing else she’s just gonna be worried about you snuffing it at the hands of some psycho Death Eater…
That was probably it. Hermione was just worried about him the same as he was worried about her. She was concerned for her friend…
Still, Ron thought, his eyelids drifting that little bit closer together. There’s always hope…
Rain. It was going to be a day of rain.
Harry sat, looking out through a window to the sodden muggle high-street two stories below, his breakfast growing cold in front of him. As he watched the people aimlessly go about their everyday lives, a couple caught his eye; a man and a woman huddled together against the wind and rain. They were standing on the corner, holding hands as the wind whipped their clothes and hair around, seemingly oblivious to the elements as they embraced. They looked so normal, so content despite the bad weather that Harry couldn’t help but feel a slight pang of guilt as he stared at them. Just one normal day, he thought. That’s all I want…
A gust of wind blew upwards, pushing the girl’s hood from the top of her head. She had red hair. A long ginger plait that seemed to burn through the grey of their surroundings, bringing painful memories to the forefront of Harry’s mind.
Ginny. You left her behind to go on this Horcrux hunt. Broke up with her because you thought you’d be putting her in danger. Truth is, you’re worse off without her. You know she could help, she’s…
“You alright, mate?”
Ron sat down at the table in front of him; his plate piled high with bacon and eggs. He looked out of the window to where Harry was previously staring, eyebrow raised as if he was asking a question.
“It’s nothing.” Harry said as he shook his head. “Just thinking I guess.”
Harry had apparated back to their hotel just over an hour ago with information regarding the whereabouts of their next Horcrux; Hufflepuff’s cup. The hotel was shabby, but surprisingly cosy, and provided relative safety as, nestled amongst the high-street shops of cosmopolitan London, Death Eaters would loath to have such widespread public exposure. But that’s hardly stopped them before, has it?
Arriving unexpectedly, he’d caused Ron to trip in surprise and smash the television in their room, inadvertently waking Hermione from her drug-induced sleep. Hungry, but slightly sleep-deprived, the trio had decided to trudge wearily down to breakfast in search of food. And by the looks of it he’s taken the entire buffet table with him…
“I know what you mean.” Ron replied, oblivious to Harry’s indifference “It’s so much to take in. All this time just searching for these bloody great fragments of you-know-who’s soul….” He stopped and pulled a face, spearing pieces of bacon with his fork while doing so. “ And now, we’ve got a location. A real location, which means it’s all actually started…”as he spoke he waved his hand around, too caught up in what he was saying to stop a piece of food flying off his fork and hitting a guest sitting at a neighbouring table in the back.
The woman turned around, eyes scanning the tables behind her as Ron hunched down in attempt to look smaller, throwing Harry a sheepish smile as he did so. But she seemed to quickly lose patience, and returned to her meal with a disgruntled sigh.
“I’m just trying to say, it’s all getting a bit scary, isn’t it?” Ron was no longer smiling; a distinctly solemn look set to his usually contented features. “All this stuff that’s happening.”
“Yeah.” Harry agreed. “Yeah, it is.”
“Some people have no manners.” Hermione interrupted, pulling a chair out next to Ron while she set her own breakfast plate down on the table. “Such a rude woman. She barged into me and didn’t even have the courtesy to say sorry. I wouldn’t have minded but she trod on my toe…”
She stopped talking for a second and looked from Ron to Harry, noting the grim expressions set to both of their faces.
“Am I interrupting something?”
They both shrugged, in time, trying their best to seem indifferent. It was Ron who spoke first.
“We were just talking about how weird everything is right now. Some pretty scary stuff we’ve gotten ourselves into…”
Hermione laughed, a brittle harsh laugh that lacked any real humour, and picked up a slice of toast from her plate.
“Scary is not a strong enough word, Ron. Believe me. And it doesn’t help matters when lately I can’t seem to sleep without taking a fistful of sleeping pills…”
“Do you have dreams too then?” Harry asked, cutting her off. “Most nights, when I can’t sleep, it’s because of the dreams…”
“I… I don’t know what you mean.”
Hermione looked down, an unreadable expression on her face, as she suddenly seemed extremely fascinated with the act of spreading marmalade on her toast. Her cheeks had flushed slightly red as she avoided both Harry and Ron’s eyes. Is she blushing?
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” Harry continued. “I get nightmares too. It doesn’t mean you’re… weak… or anything.”
Hermione looked up, the blush from her cheeks spreading across her face. She seemed unnecessarily flustered by the question, but Harry, for the life of him, couldn’t guess why. He looked to Ron, but found he was looking away too, eyes staring in the opposite direction. Is there something going on here that I’m not aware of?
“Of… of course I get nightmares.” Hermione replied, sitting a little straighter. “I just don’t like to discuss them. They’re not… pleasant.”
Harry nodded, indicating his understanding, and set his cutlery down on the plate. He suddenly had no appetite. It’s not like you’ve had much of an appetite at all, recently, though. Is it?
A few moments passed, in silence, as the trio simply sat and thought, perhaps conjuring their own nightmares as they contemplated what was to come. What you really need is just to go there and get this over with. No thinking about what happened last time with… Dumbledore.
“Do you two just want to go. I can’t see me eating anything else and it’ll be best to just get there and get this done.” Harry said suddenly, as he stood up and stretched, looking down at his two friends. “However long it may take.”
“Yes.” Hermione agreed, standing up to join Harry. “I think it’s best if we just get there and get, whatever this entails, done.” She looked, momentarily, to her plate, where most of her breakfast lay uneaten. “And you’re right about food. I couldn’t eat a thing at the moment.”
“Well, I’ve still got my appetite,” Ron spoke up firmly from the table, fork held to his mouth as he continually chewed on his breakfast. “And just because you two are ready doesn’t mean I am!”
A/N: Did you enjoy that? It was extremely un-angsty for me, which is a change, and is currently being written in between the confusion that is Flesh and Blood (shameless plug…lol). I really hoped you liked it, and would love to read your wonderful reviews as this is designed to be the first half of a two-chapter story. Thanks for reading!