Fifth year had just ended, the incident at the Ministry of Magic had left them sore not only physically but mentally too. Sirius's death still felt raw even after two weeks.
Hermione had decided to skip her vacation with her parents she somehow felt her friends were going to need her specially Harry cause he had suffered a great loss yet again.
She also seemed to have the need to spend as much time as possible in Ron's company. She obviously didn't realise why she felt this need. She always justified her longing to be with Ron as a result of all the stress and trauma they had gone through and only platonic too.
Like most of the others she had also got injured at the ministry and so had Ron. It had hurt her to see him in so much pain. The scars on his arms where the brain tentacles had wrapped themselves were really deep. She remembered being unable to look at the open wound. She too had a long scar where she had been cursed, it was a slash running from her right shoulder up to the left side of her waist but it was not half as deep as Ron's. Thanks to Madam Pomfrey though their injuries were better. The scars remained and they hurt sometimes but they are cursed scars it would take longer to heal them.
After spending two weeks with her parents she had joined the Weasleys at the Burrow. She loved being here. They were the sweetest people she knew. Mrs. Weasley had been kind to let her join them for the summer. Harry was to join them a week later, professor Dumbledore was going to escort him back from Private Drive. She enjoyed Mr. Weasley's inquisitiveness about all things muggle, Fred and George's non- stop pranks, well she didn't like being the target but otherwise it was fun. And she had Ginny too.
Obviously Harry and Ron were her best friends but a girl needs a girl to talk to sometimes and Ginny filled that void perfectly. She shared a room with her which was on the landing below Ron's room.
It was the first morning after Hermione had arrived. She got dressed, Ginny was not in the room so she assumed she had already gone down for breakfast. So she also made her way down to the kitchen. When she reached there she was greeted with the most lovely smile, it was Ron beaming at her from the table. "Hey... Good morning" he said. "Good morning" she smiled back. At this Mrs. Weasley turned and looked at her "Oh good morning darling, slept well?" "Yes very well, thanks Mrs. Weasley" she replied.
"Oh no worries sweety, no worries. Come sit I was just serving Ron breakfast. I'll make you some eggs as well. How would you like them?"
"Whatever Ron's taking will do, thanks."
"Great" and Mrs. Weasley served them with scrambled eggs and toast. "There's some pumpkin juice on the counter can you please help yourselves with that. I have some urgent laundry matters to deal with."
Saying that she left the room, leaving Ron and Hermione alone. They were alone for the first time after school ended. And Hermione could not help but notice that Ron was looking taller and very handsome too, she blushed with this thought. She was rather staring at him while he was stuffing the eggs into his mouth. Some would have got annoyed at his eating habits but not Hermione. Well at least privately she considered it as an integral part of being Ron, but yes publicly she did show disgust at times. He took a break from his eggs and looked up and she was caught off guard staring at him. He smiled and said "I know I could be a little repulsive." She was grateful that he didn't know what she was thinking and played along, "Oh yes you could" with a fake repulsed expression.
Feigning hurt Ron said "I'll live with the shame." And then gave a twisted half smile and said cockily "but for now can you please pass the pumpkin juice."
Hermione grinned and got up to get the juice. It was then Ron's turn to do the staring. Like Hermione, Ron had also been feeling differently towards her. He surely missed Harry but not as much as her. It was weird but through the two weeks away from her, he had found himself thinking about her at most unlikely times. Between conversations he would have been thinking about what she would say if she was here giving him a dazed look and earning him some crude comments from Fred and George. He remembered small things like how she tapped her fingers while reading or how she smiled at his horrendous jokes. Her smile, it was so beautiful.
At that moment Hermione turned with the juice in her hand and beautiful smile on her face. He kept looking at her for a moment too long. She said "so...." and that suddenly brought him back to reality and he immediately looked away back at his eggs hoping against hope that she wouldn't have noticed.
She actually had, but decided not to make anything of it. He could be just eagerly waiting for his juice for all she knew. She continued "So, how are you? I mean how are your hands, the injuries from the brains?"
He looked up and said "It is loads better. The marks are still there but it doesn't hurt that much. But...." his voice just trailed off. She looked at him worried "But what Ron?" He looked at her looking like he was still unsure if to tell her or not, but then he spoke "But... I still have these nightmares every few nights. They are horrid. Very cruel, very violent" his voice almost shook at this point but he regained composure immediately and continued "I just can't sleep afterwards. I had initially told this to Madam Pomfrey but she said that it had no cure, it could go on for the rest of my life as well. It could be stopped though with some will power. I..... I didn't want anyone to think I was weak." He finished and looked away from her not wanting her to see the shame he felt for not controlling his emotions.
She realised that he had not shared this with anyone but her and she felt special and happy. And then instantly felt guilty, Ron was so dejected and how could she be feeling happy. At that moment something sparked in her and she reached out her hand and placed it on his. He was still looking away from her but he felt peaceful at her touch and his eyes shut. She said in a soft voice "You are not weak Ron, in fact you are.... extremely brave. It's not easy to help your friends knowing that your life is constantly at risk."
He turned to look at her she was looking at him with an emotion he could not read but was comforting. He smiled slightly and said "Thanks. So..... How are you? How's your scar?"
She smiled at him realizing that he had not taken his hand away from under hers but had turned his hand so his palm was facing her palm. They were holding hands, she felt a slight pressure pressing her hand and warmth spread through her body. Still smiling, reciprocating his action she squeezed his hand a little, and replied "Now, it's good."