Prompt: Harry Potter, Ron/Hermione, bad dreams from the "Cheering Up Meme" over at alafaye's journal.
Word Count: 953 words.
Summary: Ron and Hermione meet in the middle of the night.
A/N: The OS was written for the Cheering UP Meme which I find a great idea. Although I rarely write about HP, this prompt spoke to me:) The title comes from a poem by Neil Gaiman** My beta thought about it when she read my story.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of J. K. Rowling.
Beta: Thanks to darkhorse_99. She was so kind and looked it over.
“The darkness doesn't seem so bad”
Ron lumbered slowly through the common room. He yawned tiredly. It was in the middle of the night and although he felt exhausted, he just couldn’t sleep. So instead of lying in bed and staring at the ceiling he had decided to try one of the armchairs. He didn’t know why but usually he fell asleep in them quite quickly. Or maybe it always was like that because almost every time he had sat in one, Hermione had tried to explain their homework.
It was dark and only the weak glow of the burnt down fire gave off some light - a comfortable atmosphere and scary at the same time. He yawned again and steered himself to the chair which was, unofficially, his. They always used the three near the fire if they stayed at the common room.
Quietly he moved forward, wanting to let himself fall into the soft hug of the most comfortable chair in the whole world, when a sudden yelp startled him. He jumped a bit and his hand went immediately to his wand. The only problem: It wasn’t there. He was in his pyjamas in the middle of the night and his wand lay sound and safe in his room. Adrenaline rushed in his ears as his vision cleared and he recognized a familiar outline half in the shadow.
“Hermione!” Her name on his lips sounded equally annoyed and relieved. “You scared me out of my mind! What are you doing here in the middle of the night?”
Hermione looked at him with big eyes and Ron got the feeling that something was wrong.
“Uhm…” she started, suddenly looking far too small in the big armchair. “I couldn’t sleep.”
It was all the explanation he needed as he sat down in the chair next to her.
“Me neither,” he added.
The silence between them grew heavy while both of them waited for the other to continue the conversation.
Ron sighed. “Ok, I admit it,” he finally gave in, “I had a bad dream.”
He couldn’t see her face but he heard the faint smile in her voice when she answered. “Yeah, me too.”
Ron looked over at her and tried to read her expression. She sounded strange – more like a little girl than the actual Hermione he knew.
He hesitated shortly before he asked, “What about?”
Hermione sighed, but didn’t answer immediately. Instead she combed her hand through her hair. Ron’s fingers twitched unconsciously, dying to match her motion and touch her soft curls. Instead, he sat there in silence and waited patiently. He knew her well enough to be certain that she would eventually answer. After all she was Hermione. She never 'not answered'.
“I dreamed of…,” she swallowed, “… him.”
Ron shivered in the dark. He knew exactly who she was talking about. And it wasn’t someone he wanted to think of while sitting in a dark room in the middle of the night.
“I…” There was this voice again – scared and small.
Impulsively Ron reached over and took her hand. It was meant as a friendly gesture, a reassurance that she was safe. But when his fingertips brushed hers it startled him again. It felt different, like a flow of low electricity from her body to his. For a moment he lingered, not sure what to do, then Hermione turned her palm and intertwined their fingers.
Ron caught his breath.
"Hermione,“ he began, unsure about what he wanted to say to his second best friend in the world.
Hermione lightly pressed his hand and smiled at him. It didn’t quite reach her eyes but her features looked more peaceful than before. She still held his hand in a steady grip, she showed no intention of releasing it.
Ron swallowed again, this time his throat was way too dry. Even if he had wanted to say something, he wouldn’t have been able to. So he leaned back in his chair and tried not to tense up, his eyes on the girl next to him who had begun to relax herself. It seemed as if his presence calmed her, that his hand in hers made her aware of the fact that she wasn’t alone, that they were safe in each other’s company.
He still watched her, his eyes firmly on the face of the one girl outside of his family he loved like a sister. Ron’s heart fluttered. He did like her as a sister, didn’t he?
Confusion spread in his mind. It was Hermione, for god’s sake! He didn’t like her that way! Not like… that!
The strange feeling in his stomach unsettled him. Maybe he had eaten something wrong? Maybe that was the reason why he couldn’t sleep in the first place? It wasn’t uncommon for him to eat more than he should. If he thought about it, that was probably it. Just too much food…
His train of thoughts stopped when Hermione rose. She still held his hand and didn’t show any sign of letting it go. He rose as well, gripping her fingers equally tight.
“Thank you,” Hermione said and stepped closer. The unexpected brush of soft lips against his cheek made him weak in the knees. But before he could say or do anything she was gone.
He followed her retreating form with his eyes, saw how it melted into the grey shadows of the stairs to the dormitory.
He closed his hand in a helpless gesture to keep the warmth that had been there mere seconds ago.
He wasn’t sure what he felt, wasn’t sure about the lightheadedness which came in waves. He just knew that the feeling he had for Hermione wasn’t like the one for Ginny – not at all.
"When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn't make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. "It's all right" we whisper, "I'm here, I love you." and we lie: "I'll never leave you." For just a moment or two the darkness doesn't seem so bad."
It's from Hellblazer #27, "Hold Me". Collected in DC Comics' Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days collection.