In This Together
Title: In This Together
Prompt: They get caught in the rain
Description: While on the Horcrux hunt, Hermione realizes it’s okay to accept a little help from Ron. Post-locket destruction.
Ron keeps insisting on helping her with things, jumping up to tidy the dishes the second the three of them have finished whatever meager meal has been scrounged up, mastering household spells so he can make an attempt at laundry, even perusing their mobile library for any clues about the Horcruxes. It’s not that Hermione minds, particularly, especially because Harry’s become increasingly lost inside his own head, but she wishes he wouldn’t. The more he tries to atone for his mistake, the more Hermione is reminded of it, and she just wants to push that memory to the farthest recesses of her mind. She doesn’t want to think about running into the rain after him, about the way he wouldn’t even look at her as she pleaded with him to stay. They’ve got too much to worry about already.
But now, he’s decided to tag along on a foraging expedition, and even though she’d rather not leave Harry alone, it’s nice to have his company. Before they were all shoved into a tent together for the foreseeable future, she used to be alone with him all the time, back at Hogwarts or the Burrow, and having that again… it’s nice. It’s really nice, actually. They’re not even talking much, just trudging through the muddy woods with an eye out for anything remotely edible, but it feels good to be with him.
The first roll of thunder is quiet, distant, but Hermione looks up from picking white-capped mushrooms toward the darkening sky. Thick, enormous clouds drift in their direction, foreboding in their speed.
“I hate rain,” she mutters under her breath, tossing a mushroom into the pail she and Ron have steadily been filling.
“Me too,” he says, catching her eye. They’re both thinking the same thing, but Hermione shoves the memory away. That angry, hateful person, that wasn’t Ron, not really. That was a Horcrux, and it’s gone now. “I reckon we should start to head back, this is probably enough for a couple days, right?”
“Yeah, it should do,” Hermione agrees. She stands, shuddering in the sudden chill, while Ron picks up the pail, and they begin the trek back to the tent. “Maybe I can take a trip to a Muggle market sometime soon-”
“No, I’ll go,” Ron says at once, not surprising Hermione in the least, as the clouds turn a deep, ominous grey. “I can do it.”
“No, you’re way too recognizable-”
“I’ll change my hair-”
“Do you even know how Muggle money works?” she interjects, stopping to face him. A fat drop of water lands on the outer layer of the three jumpers he’s wearing to block out the January chill.
“Sure,” he says casually. “The paper bits, those are like the Galleons, right, and then there’s the coins-”
“No,” she interrupts, trying not to laugh. He means well, but he’s just such a wizard. “Not exactly.”
“Well, you can teach me,” he says brightly, “and then I’ll just make my hair brown or something, and I can go instead, or I’ll go with you to help.”
She watches for a second as a few more raindrops darken his fiery hair. He looks anxious, almost desperate to prove himself. “You don’t have to do everything for us,” she replies as the rain begins to fall in earnest.
"Well, neither do you,” he shoots back immediately. “And I just want to be useful, I don’t want it to be how it was before - well, you know - I was kind of a waste of space then and-”
“No, you weren’t.” Hermione almost reaches out to take his hand, like she would have done last summer before all of this really began, but the icy rain pouring down on them freezes her in place. “Harry already told you, we were lost without you.”
Ron looks like he can’t decide if it’s okay to smile. “I’m sure you got on just fine-”
A brilliant flash of light followed by an earsplitting crack jolts them out of the moment as the enormous pine several yards away splits in two. Without a word, Ron grabs Hermione’s hand and sprints off in the direction of the tent, their feet slipping and sliding through the mud. Hermione can barely see through the deluge, she’s just gripping his fingers as tightly as she can and trusting him to lead them to safety. It seems to go on forever, the thunder and lightning and the freezing rain, but finally they burst through the flap of the tent, cold and wet and clutching stitches in their sides.
“Blimey,” Harry remarks from his bunk, Tales of Beedle the Bard on his lap, “you two alright?”
“Yeah, fine,” Ron brushes him off, panting a bit and dropping the pail on the carpet. “Storm just came on fast, is all.”
Instantly, Hermione begins to shiver, the chill from the wintry rain seeping all the way down to her bones. While Ron shucks off two of his jumpers and his shoes, using his wand to Scourgify off the majority of the mud, she retreats to the bathroom. Changing into a clean set of clothes, however, does nothing to warm her. She returns to the kitchen, blowing into her own cupped hands to try to heat up her fingertips, and attempts to start a pot of tea.
“Here,” says a voice. Hermione turns to see Ron, barefoot and in wet jeans and a maroon jumper that - if the sleeves leaving several inches of his forearms bare are any indication - must have been knit for him in second year. “Put this on.”
“No, I’m fine,” she starts to argue, but he doesn’t listen, instead grabbing the fabric behind his neck and struggling out of the jumper. Without thinking about it, without questioning it, Hermione slips it over her head. The wool is soft, warm from resting against his skin, and it fits her perfectly. His body heat seems to permeate every single inch of her body, warming her more thoroughly than any cup of tea or scalding shower ever could.
“Better?” he asks as goosebumps pop up along his bare arms.
“Yes,” she admits quietly. “Much better, thanks.”
“You don’t have to do everything on your own, you know,” he adds, shifting his dingy white vest into place. “We’re in this together.”
“Together,” she repeats, liking how the word sounds when it’s about them. “You’re right. We are.”