‘He’s in the bathroom,’ said Hermione as she stood in the door frame, her voice shaking a little.
‘Is he OK?’ asked Ron with concern.
‘Well, he says he is, but you know what he’s like.’ She shrugged defeatedly, then walked with purpose to the centre of the room.
‘Let’s sort out the beds.’ She said.
Ron grabbed the sleeping bags and, while she was looking for pillows, put Hermione’s on the sofa. He felt quite proud of this out of character act of chivalry, and when Hermione noticed she went rather pink.
‘Oh… er… Thank you Ron.’
‘S’OK.’ Ron muttered, and felt his own face heat up slightly.
They stood there for a second, shuffling their feet and furtively stealing glances at each other, when the awkwardness was broken by the return of Harry.
Ron jumped slightly, as did Hermione, but Harry seemed to preoccupied to notice. He walked across the room, grabbed his sleeping bag and jumped quickly into it. Ron and Hermione exchanged knowing looks. He clearly did not want to talk.
Hermione went to the bathroom and Ron got into his own sleeping bag. He looked around shiftily to make sure Harry wasn’t looking, but he was facing the other way, so Ron shuffled himself closer to the sofa.
It didn’t work as subtly as he would have liked. He knocked over Hermione’s bag, which gave another abnormally loud thud and landed on his toe.
He swore loudly, and then looked around nervously again to see if Harry had awoken, but he just muttered incoherently and rolled onto his back.
Hermione returned just at this moment and looked as if she was going to reprimand him for his language, but seemed to decide that there was no point and settled with rolling her eyes.
It was at this point Ron realised the flaw in his plan. He should have waited until Hermione was in her sleeping bag before he rolled himself next to the sofa, now she couldn’t actually get to her makeshift bed, and he had made it extremely obvious that he was trying to get nearer to her. Bloody hell, this could only happen to me.
He felt himself go red again, and mumbled something that didn’t sound like anything, before trying to roll out of the way.
However, Hermione had been trying to explain that it was fine, she would just step over him, and as she had risen on leg to do so, Ron had rolled himself into the one remaining on the ground.
Hermione fell with an ‘mmph!’ and landed ungracefully on top of him.
Ron didn’t think he’d been in a more awkward situation in his life, apart from possibly when his dad had given him ‘the talk’, or when Fred and George had put doxy droppings in his underpants and he had to show his er… ‘symptoms’ to a healer…
The point was, this was awkward, and neither of them seemed to know how to react. They lay there, frozen, staring at each other with horror, and possibly a little of something else, before they eventually found their voices.
‘Sorry, I didn’t mean…’
‘It’s ok, erm…’
‘Ron! Don’t swear’
‘You just stood on my hand!’
‘Oh! S..sorry, my foots stuck!’
The embarrased confusion continued for a few moments before they both ended up in their own sleeping bags, very red faced and hot. Ron cursed inwardly. Couldn’t he avoid disaster for just a few minutes?
After a while, Hermione seemed to decide to shatter the uncomfortable atmosphere with conversation.
‘Ron?’ She whispered.
‘Are you scared?’
Ron turned towards her. Scared? He was bloody terrified. They were three teenagers who hadn’t even finished school, hoping to single handedly defeat the darkest wizard of all time. How could he not be scared?
Hermione looked at him, he could see her eyes glistening in the dim light, and he felt that familiar fluttering in his stomach.
‘What… what if…’
Ron interrupted her. He couldn’t deal with thinking about all the horrific ‘what ifs’.
‘Don’t worry ‘bout it ‘til it happens, Hermione.’
She smiled slightly.
Ron smiled back. Her hand was hanging down off the sofa. He really wanted to take hold of it, just to reassure her.
A battle began in his head.
Just take hold of it.
What if she thinks its pathetic?
It’s just her hand! It’ll make her feel better.
Would it? Would it make him feel better?
Yes! Pull yourself together you moron!
The inner argument considered for a few minutes, and his nerves kept mounting. He didn’t even think he was this scared when he was in the middle of the battle with Death Eaters at the end of last year. In fact, he’d taken so long deciding that Hermione was already half asleep, he could hear her breathing slowing.
He nervously extended his arm, and brushed his fingers against the skin of her hand. He was shaking a little, how pitiful could he be!?
She didn’t respond. Ron sighed with an odd mixture of relief and disappointment. She was asleep. He was just about to draw his hand away when he felt her react and she interlocked her fingers with his. Yes! A short burst of triumphant adrenaline shot through his veins and he grinned with a wierd mix of an air of smugness mixed with amusement at his own stupidity.
He relaxed and closed his eyes, a smile on his lips.