"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." - Dumbledore, Prisoner of Azkaban
Hermoine sat in an armchair in the Burrow with a book in her lap. This was not unusual for her. What was unusual, was that her eyes weren't taking in any of the words. She had been staring at the pages blankly for what felt like hours, but was in reality only a few minutes. Giving up on the book, she shut it and raised her eyes to take in the rest of the room.
Harry and Ginny were sitting on the couch. Harry was trying to take a hold of Ginny's hand, but he was hesitant. Hermoine could understand that. Since the end of the war, Ginny had made it clear to Harry that she had missed him, but that didn't mean she forgave him for leaving her behind. Harry had been trying to get in her good graces ever since. But now, as Harry lightly placed his hand over Ginny's and began wrapping his fingers around hers, she eagerly responded pulling him close and leaning her head on his shoulder. Hermoine smiled weakly. Harry looked over at her and mirrored her smile with a miserable one of his own. They both knew Ginny wasn't giving in because of Harry. Despite that, he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight as she burrowed into him.
Trying to avert her eyes and give the couple some privacy, Hermoine turned her attention towards the doorway where she could see into the kitchen. Arthur and Molly sat stone still at the table with steaming mugs in front of them. Molly had her hands wrapped around a mug, but was unmoving, staring into the depths with a blank stare. Arthur lifted his head from his own mug to see this and moved a hand over one of Molly's. She took it, turning her gaze to him, and they shared a pair of wistful smiles between them. Hermoine noticed Charlie behind them, moving silently to refill their mugs before she diverted her attention again.
She stared at the fireplace, but there was no movement. Bill and Fleur had left quite a while ago. They had been staying at the Burrow with everyone else, but every so often they made some excuse to go to their own home. No one had really said anything about it, but it was obvious they were going home for some privacy. The Burrow was crowded, and they were still in their honeymoon phase of being completely incapable of taking their hands off of each other, which Hermoine figured was only prolonged by the whole needing to reaffirm that they were alive after all of the death that had surrounded them. She hadn't shared this theory with anyone but Ginny, who had snorted that it sure wasn't the floo powder that had them all disheveled looking.
Figuring that Bill and Fleur wouldn't be back for quite a while, Hermoine moved her gaze to the window where she could just make out the tops of two red heads. For the last few days, George had been glued to Percy's side. It had thrown everyone off guard, and there had been much quiet discussion about the whole thing. Everyone was already worried enough about George, but his sudden attachment to the one Weasley who was infamous for lacking any sense of humor had made no sense to anyone. Well, except for Ron.
"It's obvious, isn't it?" Ron had whispered into Hermoine's hair as they had lain on the grass looking out at the stars. Hermoine had been thinking aloud, theorizing why Percy of all people was the one George was turning to. She had proposed that it was because of Percy's absence from the family and he was making up for lost time, to which Ron had laughed. She had mused that perhaps he was simply bonding to the sibling closest in age to him, but Ron pointed out that the age gap between George and him was smaller. Finally Hermoine muttered the theory that had had her squirming with guilt, that perhaps George was spending time with Percy because he was the only other one not coupled up. Ron had been quiet for a time thinking about it. Just as Hermoine was sure the realization was sinking in and weighing him down as it was her, Ron had simply offered the response, "Charlie." Confused, Hermoine lifted her head from against his chest and looked down on him as he explained that Charlie was also not paired off. Hermoine frowned, her theories all disproven. She settled back against Ron's chest and worried her bottom lip as she tried to figure the situation out. And that's when Ron had finally explained to her what he had figured out almost immediately. "Percy is the only one of us that won't make him laugh."
Hermoine smiled at the memory. So many people looked at the famous little trio and saw her as the smart one and Ron as the loyal, brave, and a little bit clumsy one. But Hermoine saw things differently. Ron was smart in a way that people just didn't notice. He understood people. He understood them in a way that so many people, Hermoine included, just couldn't. It was why he could be so loyal so fast. Hermoine envied him for that talent.
As she thought of Ron, Hermoine realized that she had no idea where he was. She glanced back around, but he wasn't there. Finally, her eyes rested on the stairs, and she knew where he was. Setting her book aside, she climbed the stairs until she reached Ron's room. His door half open, she saw him standing with his back to the door, still in the t-shirt and jeans he had been wearing earlier in the morning when she had sat next to him at breakfast holding his hand under the table. Hermoine quietly approached him to find that he seemed to be arguing with himself.
"Was it the blue or the black one?" Ron muttered angrily turning his head.
"Need some help?" Hermoine carefully reached out and put a hand on his arm. He spun around, his face turning as bright red as his hair as he noticed her there. Hermoine bit her bottom lip as she waited for him to shut down and push her away. He'd made a habit of doing that in all the years she had known him.
She'd pointed it out to him once, when they had a long, tiring argument about all that had happened between them in the past several years. She had almost screeched as she accused him of being brave when it came to everything but his feelings for her, pointing out that if he had just told her how he felt all those years ago, that they could have been together all along. The argument had begun after Ron had made the confession that he had been jealous at the Yule Ball when he saw her with Krum, an admission that he thought would be romantic but had led to them arguing. Not to be outdone, Ron had shouted back that she hadn't exactly said anything when he had been with Lavender. He had even pointed out that he at least had kept trying to be her friend, whereas she wouldn't even deem to talk to him. Hermoine had begun to feel embarrassed by what he had pointed out and almost started to apologize until she saw the smug look on his face. The row only grew more heated from there until Ron had screamed, "Well I'm trying to tell you how I feel now, so why are you ruining it?!" And somehow, the fight had dissolved instantly between them and they were giggling like school children, so hard that they could barely catch their breaths.
Hermoine held her breath now as she waited for Ron to make a snide remark or look past her and ask for Harry. But he surprised her.
"I can't remember which one was Fred's," Ron sighed. "These are the only dress shirts that fit me right now and one of them used to belong to Fred."
"Have you asked your mum?" Hermoine offered.
"I don't want to bother her," Ron shook his head. "Besides she'll just say it doesn't matter. But it does. I can't wear his shirt to his…"
"Ron," Hermoine said sadly. She looked up to see his eyes watering.
"It's bad form," Ron whimpered as Hermoine wrapped him tight in a hug. Ron all but collapsed into her embrace and wept quietly.
Some moments later, Hermoine heard a noise on the stairs. She looked over to see Harry making his way up, but when he spotted the pair, he gave Hermoine a nod and retreated. Hermoine squeezed Ron a little tighter before pulling away. She wiped away his tears and smoothed his hair back from his face before pressing a soft kiss to his lips.
"I think you'd look very nice in the blue," Hermoine whispered. "And I don't recall Fred wearing a lot of that color."
"Yeah, okay," Ron murmured against her hair, pulling her close again.
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
When they finally made it down the stairs, everyone was gathered in the sitting room. Heads turned as the two entered, hands entwined, but no one said anything. A blush crept up Ron's neck, but he only held onto Hermoine more firmly.
"Fred always thought those two would be good together," George stated calmly from behind them causing them both to jump. The pair turned around to find George entering through the back door with Percy on his heels.
"Really?" Percy prodded as Ron and Hermoine walked towards them.
"Yeah," George continued softly talking mostly to Percy, "I told him that Ron would never have the guts to make a move, but he said they'd be together before the end of their school years. He said he'd bet his life on it."
"Huh," Percy nodded thoughtfully. Everyone was quiet for a minute and then suddenly a loud noise rang out. George was laughing. It sounded like his laugh used to sound, loud, hearty, and it had him doubled over, clutching his sides as if it hurt. The others froze for a bit, alarmed and a little unnerved. And then Ron joined in, with Hermoine and Percy soon following. Snickers turned into chuckles that turned into hoots as they collapsed into a fit of giggles. It alerted the rest of the family and Harry who came sweeping in, at first concerned, and then as the gigglers tried to fill them in on the joke as they gasped for breath, the whole family was swept up into the laughter. And as they laughed, Ron caught Hermoine's eyes and gave her hand a squeeze. Without skipping a beat, she squeezed his hand back.