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augury_hjg in augury_rpg

building a mystery

Who: Ron and Hermione
What: Fear and loathing...not in Las Vegas
Where: Trio's Camping Spot
When: Sunday, November 9th, 1997
Status: Incomplete

Rather than worry Ron and Harry with her desperate need to get away, preferably so they couldn't see her hyperventilating in panic, Hermione excused herself with a need to check the perimeter spells. Again. It was a weak excuse, she supposed, but a likely one -- she tended to check the spells so many times a day she was starting to wear a path between their tent and the boundaries. It would be amusing, if Hermione weren't so afraid.

Hiding herself behind a large, decaying tree, Hermione sank to the ground, trying to force air into her lungs. Despite the fact that the near miss at the Ministry had been two days ago, it had shaken her confidence greatly. It had shown her yet another of the myriad of ways that things could go terribly, awfully wrong, and she was beginning to get to the point where she didn't know whether things could ever go right.


Ron wondered why it always took him just a little too long to realize that something was wrong, or, in this case, that someone was missing.

But here it was. Hermione was gone. At a time when none of them ought to be wandering alone, she had vanished like a puff of smoke on the breeze. And she'd done it so quickly, he hardly even recalled whether she'd said where she was headed, or even that she was going at all.

He sighed, loudly and irritably, and heaved himself to his feet. "Harry!" he called. "I'm going to go find Hermione." Off Harry's murmur of assent from the other room of the tent, he swirled his cloak around his shoulders, shoved the tent flap aside, and began to hike briskly across the uneven ground, looking for Hermione.

She's been a bit jumpy these past couple of days... wonder if she's really scared. That thought, and several other less-than-pleasant ones, fought for space in Ron's mind as he began to walk around the small perimeter they had set up, looking for her.

He found her a moment later, her back against a tree and her face white as chalk. Instantly, his annoyance turned to worried concern. "Hermione? What's going on? What happened?"
Oh God. The one time, the only time, that she had not wanted Ron to follow her was of course the time that he did. She tried to force a smile, knowing she failed miserably, and wishing that in this case it was the thought that counted. When she couldn't fake a convincing smile, she instead made herself stand, half-afraid to face him in case he saw even part of what she was feeling written on her face.

"I'm fine," she said, lying through her teeth. She knew her voice had an undertone of hysteria, and if she could have kicked herself for it, she would have. The last thing she wanted to do was either worry him or make him think she was as weak as she felt at that moment. Shrugging her shoulders, trying to imitate nonchalance, she had a brief moment of childish wishing that everything could just...be as it used to again. "Just a little tired, really."

Which was partially the truth, she had to admit. Her fear had kept her from sleeping at all, mind turning over with countless plans, flaws and inspirations that may or may not ever be useful. She supposed it was good to have close to thirty backup plans, but she was fast coming to realise that no matter how many plans she had, they may not ever be good enough. She might not ever be good enough.
He raised an eyebrow. "Just a little tired?" He knelt down beside her. "Yeah. And I'm not really Ron Weasley; I'm actually the bassist from the Weird Sisters."

Oh, wonderfully suave. Mocking sarcasm's just what she needs right now. Good show, mate.

His eyes were filled with concern as he spoke in what he hoped was a more reassuring voice. "Seriously. You look scared to death. You haven't looked right in days. What's the matter?"

I'm worried about you. If you can't tell me what's the matter, who can you tell?

Now why can't you say these things out loud instead of just thinking them? Maybe that'd be better for her to hear, y'think? Instead of the idiot things that usually come out of your mouth?

Oh, shut up...
"I am," Hermione insisted, turning her face away momentarily to hide the burn of tears in her eyes. Once she had managed to blink them away she turned back to face him, wishing she could...well, actually, she wasn't entirely sure what she would do if she could. Something that wasn't this...uncertainty.

Still, he was her best friend regardless, and she couldn't discuss these things with Harry, who had more than enough on his plate. Shaking her head, her mouth twisted into what she had hoped would be a smile, although she very much doubted it would appear that way.

"I almost got him killed," she admitted finally, unable to look at him for fear of what she would see on his face. "That was the best plan I could come up with, and I almost got Harry killed. What use am I if I can't think properly?"
Now what do you say to a thing like that?

He wanted to tell her any number of things. That she could think properly and to hell with anyone who said she couldn't. That she had come up with better plans in five minutes than both he and Harry had in five hours countless times in the past. That if it weren't for her brains and her ability to plan for pretty much every imaginable mishap (and quite a few unimaginable ones as well), they would have been dead several hundred times over by now.

But it didn't seem like any of that would help her right now. So he laid a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently, and stuck to the short and sweet. He'd always been better at that anyway.

"You didn't get him killed. That's what matters." He squeezed again. "And the plan worked, didn't it? We got what we needed, and now we can move on to the next step."

He tried for a reassuring smile, and hoped it worked. He worried about her when she got like this. Mostly it stopped once she got something to apply her brains to, and he hoped he could come up with something in time.
Hermione stiffened as she felt Ron's hand on her shoulder and forced herself to concentrate on the whirling pattern on the trunk of the tree beside her. It was easier to quietly memorise the swirling lines than it was to examine why the brief touch of her best friend's hand on her shoulder somehow seemed more important than everything else in this war combined.

"It should never have gotten that far," she asserted, although she knew that he was right. They were both safe now, they had what they needed for the next part of their plan and a better idea of the way things could go wrong with one simple misstep.

Sighing, Hermione brushed his hand off her shoulder, trying to make her actions appear casual. She should not be this easily distracted, turned from her thoughts by the familiar, light fluttering of nerves in her stomach and bizarre ability to feel both confusion and clarity in the same moment just because one Ronald Weasley happened to be next to her.

If only shouldn't and wouldn't were the same thing.

"You're right of course," she said softly, turning her eyes to meet his. "I have more important things I should be thinking of."
He could always count on her to come around and see things rationally. Even if he himself could not. Though he did feel a sort of pang when she brushed his hand away, and felt a bit compelled to reach out towards her again. If only with words.

"There's always something better to be thinking of than how things might have gone wrong." He grinned, probably a bit too broadly in an attempt to get her to follow suit, and continued. "Like the fact that they didn't, and that now we've got more to take care of."

His hand, almost by itself, had reached out and laid itself on hers, and now it seemed to be lightly stroking the back of her hand. The stupid grin began to melt from his face, to be replaced by an honest and heartfelt smile.

Or maybe that this is the first time we've gotten to ourselves for way too long...
Hermione was quite positive that reminding her how many other potentially fatal plans she had left to concoct was not the best way to make her feel better. Still, his grin reassured her in the way it always did, however much it bothered her he could affect her so. She prepared herself to make another snippy comment about needing to do all the work around her when his hand touched hers and the words flew out of her head.

Her eyes looked down to look at his hand on hers entirely without her consent and when she looked back up his smile had changed in a way she couldn't define. She bit her lip as she watched him, wanting to drag her gaze away. She was being too obvious, she knew -- emotional range of a teaspoon or not, he had to see what she was thinking. Irrationally, Hermione wished she knew Occlumency so she could shield herself even that much, but even had she, it may well be beyond her now.

"Ron, I..." she cut herself off before she could speak. Whatever she said would no doubt be both stupid and unwelcome, simply another repeat of the 6th year debacle when she had actually thought she would have a chance. "More. You're right, of course. There's always more to take care of."

Intelligent, I'm beginning to believe, is the last word they should be using to describe me. That was pathetic.
Yeah, always more to take care of. He mentally sighed, his fingertips continuing to play lightly over the back of her hand. Little crackling sparks seemed to tingle him wherever they touched, and he suddenly felt rather shaky. So we'd better make the most of this little breather while we've got it...

"Things'll go fine," he blurted rather stupidly. "Nothing to worry about, really, just so long as we're ready for whatever might happen." He looked at her, his fingers now interlacing with hers and his mouth beginning to feel very dry for some reason as his eyes met hers and a jolt went through his stomach.

"Right," Hermione agreed, deciding to answer before she lost any ability to form coherent speech. The tangle of his fingers around hers was threatening to render her entirely speechless and she couldn't decide between pulling away to maintain her sanity or staying where she was because after goodness knows how many years of wanting, he was actually holding her hand.

Friends. Friends hold hands. It's nothing at all to get excited about.

"We just...have to be careful," she said, somewhat weakly. She was not confident about her ability to get them out of this alive, but moments such as this certainly helped to prove why she wanted to. "And stick together."
His smile broadened as she spoke the words he had desperately wanted to say. He only hoped he wasn't reading too much into it.

Stick together. I can't think of anything I'd rather do. I want to stick so close together with you that you couldn't separate us with a Severing Charm.

His words, however, as they so often tended to do under such circumstances, completely deserted him. He was left with a very dry mouth and nothing but a smile to answer her with.

And his hand, of course, which interlocked fingers with hers and squeezed in a way that was more than just-friendly.

"Yeah," he whispered hoarsely. "We've got to stick together."
Hermione would be the first to admit that she was not at all confident in herself, at least in this. Relationships, with herself as a part of it, were not what she was best at. Were this anyone else, she was forced to conclude, she would quite easily believe that this wasn't...well, friendship. The clutch of Ron's hand around hers, the way his voice changed...

It all added up to something Hermione wanted very much. The only thing she could not decide was how on earth one was meant to bring up a topic like this? What if she was wrong? She and Ron had an important job to do, together. It wasn't as though she could send birds flying at his head and run off again, was it?

"I will, you know," she said hesitantly, trying her best not to sound eager. If she managed to keep herself steady, at least she would be able to give him an 'out' should he not want to take it as she meant it. "Stay with you, if you want it."
What what wait a minute now what does that mean?

Ron's heart thudded heavily in his chest, so hard that he felt it in his eardrums, his throat, and his fingertips. It was even possible that Hermione might have heard it, so hard did it hammer.

What is she saying? And if she's saying what I think she's saying, how do I say what I want to say without sounding like an absolute fool?

Well, you usually sound like an absolute fool when you talk to her, so this oughtn't be any different.

Oh shut up. I need to think about this.

Think all you want. But while you're taking forever to puzzle this out, she's liable to change her mind. Just, y'know, pointing that out to you. You're thick enough to miss it.

"Is that what you want?" he heard himself say hoarsely. He hastened to elaborate, the voice in his head reminding him how much of an idiot he was. "I mean... that is..."

Count on you to mess this up.

He thought something very rude indeed at the voice in his head, took a deep breath, and locked eyes with Hermione. "I'd like that, yeah."

Time stood still.
Hermione nodded mutely, eyes determinedly fixed on his as he asked whether that was what she wanted. Considering that she had been the one to bring up the subject, she rather thought it would be obvious what she wanted. It was a point she wanted to elaborate on, until he'd said I'd like that and she froze.

It had to be what she had meant; she couldn't believe that Ron would be able to miss what she had been trying to say. She held on to his hand, squeezing gently as she struggled to find something to say.

"Me too," she whispered finally, knowing that was entirely insufficient. "I've always...I mean, I..."

She sucked in a deep breath, scolding herself. Was she a Gryffindor or not? She was meant to have courage, not spend her time afraid to speak because she didn't want to ruin anything. They were friends, and had been for close to 7 years. If she was wrong, she was wrong. They had survived worse, and would need to again.

"I've wanted it for a while," she said steadily, watching his eyes for any form of reaction. "I've wanted...well, you, I suppose."
Oh wow.

His mouth was slack, his heart no longer thudding but curiously serene. For an awful moment he thought it had stopped altogether. But his eyes stayed open, and his hand still clasped hers.

And all at once, it all crashed down on him, how much of an idiot he'd been for so long. Krum... Lavender Brown... the entire mess he'd made of things for years. It felt like someone wearing a glove made of granite had punched him hard in the center of the chest, and he fought for breath for a long moment.

The voice threatened to come back, to call him an idiot all over again, but he couldn't hear it. Or perhaps he could, but this time he didn't argue.

So instead he took another deep, shaky breath, looked her straight in the eyes, and finally said what he should have long ago.

"Me too."
Hermione felt a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, pulling itself into an almost painfully wide grin. She had read, once, that a linguist had put the words 'cellar door' as the most beautiful in the English language. At that moment, Hermione would have instead cast her vote for 'me too'.

She felt tears filling her eyes, which she knew was ridiculous considering that she was meant to be happy. She was happy, happier than she could recall since childhood Christmases, but that did little to stop the tears.

"Oh, Ron," she whispered, barely letting his hand go before she wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her head against his chest. She did not want to let go; she was almost convinced that if she remained here, she could will the rest of the world away, if only for a few moments.
It was as though everything vanished. The war, the growing terror and evil, the danger all around them, even the ground on which they stood. Everything but her arms around him and her head against his chest, the smell of her hair in his nose and the way his arms almost seemed to wrap around her of their own volition.

Everything except the two of them.

Nothing else mattered.

He bent his head down to lay his own cheek against the top of her head, the soft mat of her bushy hair like a soft, welcoming pillow, and hugged her tightly.

And even had he been able to form words coherently at the moment, he wouldn't have needed to say them.
Closing her eyes, Hermione let herself relax for the first time in days, the warm press of him against her comforting. She was almost afraid to let go, half wondering if it would vanish if she did. It almost seemed unfair that they should discover this now when there were so many other things to consider, but the larger part of her had to wonder when it would be, if not now?

Keeping her hands resting on his shoulders, Hermione could not wipe the smile from her face as she pulled back to look at him. It pleased her that even that seemed enough; being able to watch him and knowing...well, everything.

The moment seemed to resonate inside her, thrumming at her nerves until she felt alight with it, and none of the many things she wanted to say seemed enough to express that. It seemed easier to content herself with the rest of her hand on his shoulder, the tickle of his hair under her fingertips and the fact that finally, eventually, he seemed to feel the same way.