Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Harry Potter books nor any of the characters or places therein. A/N: While reading OotP, I noticed that only Ron and Hermione were still staying in the infirmary when Harry visited them; Neville's nose and Ginny's ankle had been mended, and Luna was back to normal, whatever normal means for her. So, from this knowledge, this fic emerged. It's my version of what could have happened that night after Harry, Ginny, Neville, and Luna had left. It was a little after midnight, but Ron was still wide awake, staring at the moonlight streaming through the infirmary window. He was worried about Harry. He was sure that Harry was keeping something from him, something that must be so horrible he couldn't even share it with his best friends. He sighed and put his hands behind his head. "I used to be so jealous of Harry and all the attention he gets", he thought, "but now I wouldn't change places with him for the world". He knew Harry was still devastated about the death of his godfather Sirius, but there was something more, and Ron wondered what exactly Dumbledore had told Harry after sending him to his office by portkey. He sighed again and rolled over onto his side, trying to get comfortable in the small infirmary bed. He found himself looking at his other best friend, Hermione, sleeping a few feet away in another bed, and his thoughts and worries about Harry were temporarily forgotten. A beam of moonlight was spilling across her bed, and he could make out her features. Her bushy, chestnut hair lay across her pillow, one hand was gently clutching her blanket up under her chin, and, in sleep, her face was relaxed and smooth, belying the fear she must have faced in the Department of Mysteries with Harry. Ron wished so much that he hadn't gotten separated from them, that he had been able to help them fight off the Death Eaters, that he had been there to protect Hermione from the curse that had hurt her so badly. But he had been hit with another curse, one that had left him acting silly and foolish and no help to anyone. He closed his eyes, remembering how he had felt when Remus Lupin had removed the curse from him and he had seen Hermione lying on the floor, still as death. He had actually thought she was dead for a few horrible moments, and he had struggled with Lupin, trying to get to her side while Lupin tried to treat the wounds that the brain had inflicted on him. Then, after Lupin had assured him that Hermione was alive and would be all right, he had found out that Harry had gone after Bellatrix Lestrange, and Lupin had had to restrain him once again to keep him from going after Harry. Dumbledore is taking care of Harry, he had been told, and then he and the other members of the DA had been sent back to the Hogwarts infirmary. Hermione had remained unconscious for several hours, and Ron had refused to leave her bedside, not even to let Madam Pomfrey properly treat his wounds. Only after she had woken up, and he had seen that she was going to be all right, had he allowed them to care for him. He opened his eyes and looked at Hermione again, remembering how he had sat by her bed, not even feeling his own pain, just willing her to wake up. He had known by then that Harry was safe and in Dumbledore's office, so he had stayed with Hermione, watching her face and occasionally brushing her hair back from her forehead. And in those few hours, he had finally admitted to himself how much he loved her. His thoughts were interrupted by a whimper from Hermione. "No", she moaned, starting to turn her head from side to side. A tear trickled down her cheek and landed on her pillow. Ron got up and hurried to her, sitting down on the side of her bed. "Hermione?", he whispered, gently shaking her, wanting to wake her from the nightmare she must be having. "No!", she said more forcefully. Her eyes flew open and she sat up suddenly, looking all around her in confusion. She saw Ron sitting there, and she threw her arms around his neck in a strong hug. She started crying harder, burying her head into his shoulder and neck. Ron tentatively put his arms around her, awkwardly patting her on the back. But then he felt how badly she was shaking, and he instinctively pulled her closer, stroking her hair and rocking her gently. "It's all right, Hermione, it was just a dream", he whispered. "Oh, Ron, you're OK", Hermione cried. She hugged him tighter for a moment and took a deep breath, trying to stop her sobs. She pulled away a little so she could look into his face. "I had the most awful dream", she said, reaching up and touching his face as if to make sure that he was really there. "Yeah, I'm OK. Are you OK?", Ron asked, very worried. Hermione was one of the bravest people he knew; if the dream was bad enough to scare her into tears, it must have been very bad indeed. "I'm all right now." She took another shuddering breath. "I dreamed we were back in the Department of Mysteries...and I made it out alive, but you and Harry...", she didn't finish the sentence, and Ron knew what she meant. "Harry and I are both fine--you know that", Ron said to reassure her. Without thinking, he reached up and pushed her hair back from her face, his fingers lingering in her curls. Hermione nodded and looked away. "It's just that I love you so much...both of you, I mean", she said, blushing slightly. She looked back at Ron, hoping that he was still just a little too thick about such things to understand what she had almost said. She was surprised to see that Ron was looking at her very seriously, and she wondered if maybe he had understood after all. Ron tenderly brushed a tear off her cheek with his thumb. "Yeah, I know", he said quietly. "I feel the same way...about you both, I mean." He felt his ears begin to burn, and he silently cursed his damned blush. Hermione smiled gently. Before she could think about it too much, she leaned over and gave him a lingering kiss on the cheek. She straightened back up, noticing that the blush had crept from his ears all the way down to his neck, making his red hair look pale by comparison. Ron could hear his heart pounding in his ears, and he remembered feeling something like this when Hermione had kissed him on the cheek just before his first Quidditch match. But this kiss had been different. For one thing, it hadn't been just a quick peck. For another, she had kissed him right at the corner of his mouth; when she had pulled away, her lips had lightly brushed his for just a moment, just long enough for him to realize just how wonderful kissing her would be--better than he had ever imagined it. Staring into her eyes, he suddenly knew he had to kiss her; he felt he couldn't live another moment without it. He leaned toward her, still entranced by her eyes, and was surprised when she tilted her face up to his. Their eyes closed as their lips met, and he pulled her closer, feeling her arms wrap around his neck more tightly. He wondered briefly what would happen if Madam Pomfrey walked in to find them sitting on Hermione's bed, kissing, and then he was lost. Hermione moaned softly and ran her fingers up into his hair, caressing his scalp and then pulling him toward her and into a deeper kiss. They sat like that for several moments, lost in each other, forgetting everything they had faced, and everything they still had to face. Finally, Ron broke the kiss, and he looked at Hermione, more than a little surprised at himself. They sat there staring at each other for several moments, not knowing what to say, then Hermione smiled again and lay her head back down on his shoulder. "Hold me for a while...OK?", she whispered. "Yeah", he whispered back. "As long as you want". "And Ron...don't ever leave me...I need you." "No, Hermione...never..." He sat there holding her, stroking her back and hair, loving the feeling of having her in his arms and loving the smell of her hair. After a while, he felt her body relax and heard her breathing become regular and deep, and he knew that she had fallen asleep. He carefully laid her back on her pillow, and brushed her hair from her face, smoothing it out. He ran his fingers down her cheek and across her lips, then he leaned over and kissed her gently. "Mmm...Ron", she whispered, turning over in her sleep with a smile. Ron wanted so much to just stay with her, sitting right there on her bed all night, but he supposed Madam Pomfrey would be just a touch annoyed if he did. He stroked Hermione's hair one more time, then he stood up and made his way slowly back to his bed. He lay there for a while, smiling at the ceiling, then he turned over and soon fell asleep. We can assume he had nice dreams.
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