Chapter 1: Move
Summary: Ron and Hermione finally discover themselves on their journey for the horcruxes between leaving the Lovegoods and Malfoy Manor. A bit of suspense at the start and lots of fluff in the end of course. My first fanfic. Hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1 - Move
It was time to pack up and move...again. And she hated it.
She hated leaving behind the little semblance of normalcy they had created over the past few days. She hated putting away and putting back, cleaning away any sign of them having been here. But they had all agreed.
Ever since their near fatal visit and escape from the Lovegood's, they had agreed to be even more vigilante and to keep on the move, hopefully forever away from the Deatheaters who had showed up there. They moved along the rain drenched coast but far enough inland to offer them sufficient cover yet near the small coastal towns that would provide what little food needed to keep them going.
Hermione sighed deeply... it was going to be even harder to leave this place as it was one of their better camp sites since their journey began. They were situated on top of a gentle hillside under an old tree which had spread its branches over the years and offered much needed protection against the wind and the ever persistent rain which seemed to fall almost on a daily basis over the past weeks. On a clear day, which was very infrequent, they could make out the sea and the little seaside town. A small river flowed not far from their camp below their hill winding its way down the hillside over the landscape and cutting the little town in half before reaching the dark sea.
Yes, she hated moving, but the truth was that it was ever so much easier since he was back...since Ron had returned...out of nowhere...back to them...back to her. Actually everything was easier for her these days since he was back. Moving camp when he was gone was agony for her those weeks. Every time they packed up, it felt like she was moving further away from him...from wherever he was. The more they moved she felt her hopes of ever seeing him again get smaller and smaller until she no longer had any.
Even though she treated him with the coldness and disdain that he deserved for the first few weeks, he seemed to be genuinely sorry for his absence and since returning he was ever so thoughtful and nice to her especially. He was certainly the most cheerful and enthusiastic of the three to continue on their hunt for the Horcruxes, especially since Harry still continued his obsession with the Deathly Hallows despite Hermione's and Ron's efforts to keep them on course.
While she never looked directly at him and barely spoke to him those few weeks, the truth was she continuously watched him like a hawk out of her peripheral vision. She never wanted to feel that fear and loneliness again and she subconsciously keep him near to her, never letting him wander to far without her knowing and always checking that he was around her and not...gone again.
This war could throw anything at her and she would be prepared both mentally and physically but with him she never knew exactly where to settle or how to prepare. She suddenly realised that in fact she had been fighting two separate wars since she was eleven years old. One with Harry, against known enemies with a clear objective in mind but with no idea of the outcome, and one with her feelings for Ron. She had already lost the battle with her heart since fourth year but the war with him still continued on a daily basis and like the real war she had no idea of the final outcome.
It was now unfortunate that this "war" between them was now overlapping and somewhat obstructing her absolute concentration and commitment to Harry and she suspected that it had played a major part in Ron's short absence from them. His time away from her and now his return made havoc of her feelings and she was determined to find a way to separate the two or look for some co-existence that was acceptable to her in order to continue with their quest. She should be able to do this, to find a solution...after all...everyone said that she was the smartest witch of her age, but she had failed to solve this ever present problem and it infuriated her.
Despite her best resolve to remain mad at him, his constant offers and insistence in helping her wash the wares and to even try to cook, taking her watch on numerous times for her to catch up on sleep, his offers of his blanket to keep her warm on colder nights and generally his whole demeanour towards her made her soften towards him as she knew she would. She could never be angry at him for long, not even when he had hurt her so much. She had already forgiven him because without him in her life she was simply a complete mess. Her love for him would always come first and there was nothing she could do to change that. She would stand by Harry to the end but was now sure that she couldn't do it without Ron by her side.
She felt him now, coming up slowly behind her and waited.
"Do you need help with anything?" he asked softly, with that new caring tone reserved for her lately.
"I can help you with the protection charms but you know I'm rubbish at it and probly only muck it up" he laughed. She felt better already.
"It's ok Ron," turning around to give him a small smile to let him know his offer was appreciated. "Go and help Harry with the tent before it gets too dark and this rain starts again, will you?" she said in her nicest voice.
"No problem boss'" he said with a slight smirk, looking at her for a fleeting moment before turning to help Harry. She watched his lanky frame stroll away and felt like something which had been askew between them for awhile suddenly click a little back into place and she smiled behind his back.
It was getting dark by the time they were ready but with a brief look back they disapparated away from the camp site on the hill with the shady tree. They landed heavily on a bushy hillside and it was raining.
She really hated to move she thought to herself.
"I'll go take a quick look around first before we set up the tent." said Harry. He moved away from them before Ron and Hermione had recovered fully from their landing.
"Does it ever stop raining in this bloody country!" remarked Ron, before realizing that he still held Hermione's hand, and quickly let go a bit reluctantly. Hermione pulled her small beaded bag from her sock and looked around for some shelter from the rain which had started to fall even harder.
"Oh this is going to be horrible!" she wailed. "I hate it when we have to set up in this weather and I hate it when we don't know where we are and where..." Her sentence was interrupted by a loud cry and the sound of curses flying behind them lighting up the night.
Ron broke out of his stunned silence a moment after realizing what was happening and quickly grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her forward with him.
"Come on! We have to get to Harry and get out of here fast!" dragging her along in the direction where they had last seen him. The shouts behind them were now becoming louder and it seemed that whoever they had come upon were about to be close enough to see them. Looking around desperately through the falling rain they finally spotted Harry...or someone who hopefully was Harry, running towards them through the short bushy trees surrounding them. "That's him! I'm sure!" shouted Hermione as they thrashed quickly forward through the muddy ground towards him.
"Harry!...Harry!" Hermione screamed over the rain. He was just ahead and almost within reaching distance. "Grab my hand!" she screamed again, with her arm stretched in front of her. They were almost upon him when Harry gave a yelp and suddenly seemed to vanished right in front of them!
"What the bleeding hell!..." Ron managed to get the words out of his mouth before he felt the ground below him give way and he was suddenly falling into the blackness below.