The boy's dorm was strangely untouched, with only a few books scattered across the wooden floor. Hermione placed her hand on the curtains surrounding Ron's old bed. She thought back to the last time she was here, after Dumbledore's funeral, where Ron held her as she cried. No for the fallen headmaster, but at the realisation at what she would have to do to keep her family safe. He simply held her and hushed her cries, until she fell asleep.
Ron was pacing around the room, trying to look nonchalant, but not quite succeeding. She moved over to him and brushed her hand against him. He grasped it tightly and led her over the chest that sat at the foot of the four-poster bed. When they sat he brought her hand to his lips, placing a gentle kiss to her knuckles. Hermione's heart melted, and she laid her head on his shoulder, letting out a shuddering gasp of air.
They sat in silence for minutes or maybe hours. The sky outside began to clear, the clouds outside moving aside for the sun to shine through. Hermione turned her head to look out the window. Plumes of smoke still rose from the ashes outside. She could see people arriving on brooms, flying through the now defunct protection charms. The battle had taken everything from the castle, leaving it as the ruin that the muggles saw it as.
She felt Ron shift beside her, noticing he had wiped tears from his face. He turns and laughs, a short bark,
"You have dirt on your nose." He places a gentle finger on her nose, wiping away the soot.
She smiled at him, "you don't look any better." It was true, they were both covered in soot and dirt, and blood, which she didn't want to think about right now.
They fall back into silence, before Ron stands and moves towards the bed. He lays down, groaning as his aching muscles object to the strain. She doesn't wait for an invitation, she simply climbs in beside him and returns her head to his warm shoulder.
He reaches a tentative arm and places it around her, pulling her close.
"We should probably, ya know, talk."
She was surprised, she thought she would have to broach the subject. She also thought that it would be much later, once the dust had settled, literally and figuratively.
"Yeah. But we don't have to now, not with every-"
He pulled his arm tighter around her, silencing her logic, "let me have this. This is a good talk and we both need a good talk right now."
She pushed her head further into his neck, a silent encouragement.
"I don't know about you, but I've been thinking about this for a while." She didn't need to look up to know he was smirking. She lifted a hand and lightly swatted his stomach, regretting the action when he flinched slightly. She instead laid her hand on his chest, comforted by the beat in his chest.
"When we were in fourth year, before the tournament and Krum and the yule ball, I had a plan." He said almost wistfully. "I was going to ask you to go to Hogsmeade with me – just me. Ginny knew, she was going to distract Harry and ask him to show her round as it was he first time going. Then me and you would go and we'd walk up to the shrieking shack like we did the first time we went and then I'd kiss you."
Shocked at the revelation, Hermione lifted herself onto her elbow, staring at his freckled face. He stared at the space behind her head, almost afraid to see her reaction.
"You planned all of that?"
"Well Fred and George helped me plan it after they found my notes-"
"Yeah – well I didn't quite have the courage to ask you to your face. So, I wrote some notes and I was going to hide them in that big bag of yours and hope you'd see them. That way if you didn't say anything, I could convince myself that it was because you hadn't found them yet. After the twins found the first few drafts, they insisted on helping. Even roped Charlie into it." A sad smile spread across his face as he remembered the hours spent with his brothers.
"So why didn't you do it?"
"I did." He looked at her now, sheepish.
"No, I would have found them!" Hermione tried to rack her brain, trying to remember seeing anything in her bags all those years ago.
"Well, just after Harry's name got pulled out, I snuck it in. See I figured that with me not speaking to Harry, I wouldn't need Ginny to distract him and it would look more natural. I was being an arse to be fair, but at fourteen it made a lot of sense." He took a deep breath, "but after the first task, while we were all celebrating, I snuck into your bag and took them all out."
"Why? I would have said yes."
"They announced the Yule ball and I figured I could ask you to that. Except I left it too late and Krum got there first."
"I don't understand. You asked Fleur?"
"Yeah, I did," he grimaced at the memory, "Fourteen. Arse. Remember?"
She laughed and laid back down, snuggling in closer to him.
"I waited for you to ask me. Then I heard you'd asked Fleur and I remember feeling like I couldn't be that kind of girl, so when Victor asked me, I said yes." She thought briefly about how idiotic they both had been. It would have just taken one of them to speak up and they could have avoided so much drama.
"Last summer, Ginny kept teasing me, offering to swap rooms with me so I could finally ask you. Though, looking back, that was probably more to do with her wanting to be with Harry." Ron's face screwed up slightly at the thought of his sister and his best friend in the same room, alone.
"Probably." She rose again, leaning close to him, "you could always ask me now."
"Now? I think I made myself very clear earlier on." For the first time in a long time, his mouth curled up into a cheeky side grin, mischief dancing in his eyes.
"Chivalry isnt dead quite yet Ronald." She leaned in closer, matching his grin, keeping her eyes focused on his.
"Well then, Hermione Granger, will you do me the great honour of accompanying me to Hogsmeade. When they rebuild it." He added as an afterthought.
"I would love to."
Their mouths were barely an inch apart when they heard the doorknob turn and the heavy wooden door creaked open. They lurched apart just as Harry walked in, looking bewildered to find them in such a precarious position.
"Er – I can come back later?"
They climbed off the bed and Hermione walked over, pulling Harry towards her. Ron followed suit, the three of them embracing in the middle of the room.
They broke apart and shared watery grins. Ron took Hermione's hand in his and smiled at his best friends, "Plenty of time for that later."