The quiet corners of the Hogwarts library were Hermione's only salvation these days. Ron and Lavender seemed to be everywhere, kissing, cuddling, pawing all over each other. Lavender seemed to almost be doing it on purpose, shooting Hermione piercing glances before gluing her lips to Ron's. She spent all her time studying in the library now, at a table in the farthest corner.
"Hey, Hermione." Harry said, dropping a stack of books down on the table and settling in across from her. "I need a little help with some of this, if you don't mind." Hermione glanced up at Harry and smirked. Knowing Harry, he would need help with every single assignment. Except for potions, which Hermione was choosing to drop the subject of... for now. Harry cracked open his Transfiguration book and started scribbling along a piece of parchment. The two worked in silence for awhile, until they heard a high, keening giggle. Harry's head shot up at the same time Hermione's did. "Lavender." Harry said, gruffly.
Ron and Lavender came bursting around some shelves, Ron with his back to his friends, Lavender giggling in an exaggerated way, a strong scent of floral perfume wafting in her wake. "Ron." Harry said, sharply. Ron turned, an arm still wrapped around Lavender's waist. "Oh. Hello, Harry. Hermione." Ron nodded at them both. Hermione looked up and gave Ron a tight, curt smile. She paid no attention to Lavender. Sharing a dormitory with her was bad enough, without having to interact outside of their room.
Harry eyed Hermione for a second, then boldly turned to Lavender and said, "Hey, Lav, I noticed that you really had the hang of that Charms assignment today. Do you think you could help me?" Lavender looked startled and shot a look at Hermione, like she should be helping Harry. When no other reponse came, she slowly said, "Erm, yeah, sure. Let me just go grab my book." Harry leaped from his seat and said enthusiastically, "I'll go with you!" Harry hurried Lavender away and Hermione realized she was really going to owe him.
Ron stared after them, confused. He shrugged, then dropped into Harry's recently vacated seat. "If it's not too much trouble, do you think you could help me with potions?" He asked tentatively. Hermione set down her quill and looked at Ron. "Yes, I suppose." Ron grinned and reached for Hermione's stack of books, pulling out potions. "Sorry about Lavender, by the way. She doesn't understand that you have to be quiet in libraries. Madam Pince about had her head." Ron explained, flipping through the book to the right page.
Hermione sighed. "Look, Ron, I really don't mind who you date, but I also don't want to talk about it." Ron gaped at Hermione, then slammed the potions book shut. "Look, Hermione, I'm getting tired of this." Hermione rubbed her face. "Ron, I - I can't stand Lavender."
A silence came over them both as Ron seemed to be mulling this information over. Then, miraculously, he started chuckling. "I'm not fond of her either." Hermione balked at this. "Why are you with her then?" Ron shrugged. "I liked her, sure. But it's gotten a bit grating. I'm thinking of a way to break it off before Christmas break." Hermione let out a short, snide laugh. "That's in four days. You didn't look particularly unhappy when you walked in here." Ron blushed and murmured, "She's very persuasive."
At this, Hermione stood up and started collecting her books. "Hermione, c'mon, I didn't mean it like that. Why are you so upset?" Hermione stopped moving and stared Ron down. "If you really have to ask that then you're even more dense than I thought." She continued shoving her study materials into her school bag. Ron sighed and leaned back in his chair. Hermione swung her bag over her shoulder and made a move to leave, but Ron jumped up quickly and grabbed her hand. "Hermione, I know why you're upset. I feel it, too, but... There's so much going on these days. We'll need to be there for Harry. I don't think he could take... us." Hermione stared hard at Ron. This was the first either of them had really addressed their feelings. It had been implied for a long time, though, just boiling beneath the surface. "Sounds like a bad excuse to me." Hermione snapped, even though she truly did understand Ron's logic.
She started towards the library exit, but Ron kept hold of her wrist. She spun around to complain, but Ron pressed his lips to hers, silencing all anger. It was brief, and rushed, and awkward, but it was a kiss nonetheless. A promise that Ron did, in fact, understand how she felt. He pulled away from her after a second that felt like an hour. "Do you believe me now?" He asked. He didn't wait for an answer, releasing Hermione's hand and stalking down the aisles and out of the library.
Hermione blinked, then hitched her bag up further onto her shoulder and walked out of the library.
"Hermione!" She whipped around to see Harry hurrying towards her. "I finally just got away from Lavender. Are you okay?" Hermione smiled at Harry, hoping she had wiped away all signs of what had taken place in the library. "Yes, I'm fine. I finished my work, want to go back to the common room with me?" Harry nodded, shooting a look back towards the library. "Oh! I grabbed your books." Hermione said, reaching into her bag and producing the books Harry had left behind earlier. Harry smiled, "Thanks, Hermione. You're a good friend." Hermione smiled back. "You are, too." She breezed past Harry, headed towards the staircase. Harry looked after her, then glanced towards the library once more. He grinned, knowing that something had just happened, knowing that, yes, he had been a good friend.