Fanfiction. Short. Complete.
Hermione was usually the last person to leave the Ministry of Magic. It wasn't because she was dedicated to the work she did or even because she found it interesting -- as had often been the case at school when she would be the last to leave the library, Madam Pince often having to usher her out -- but because of the mass of work her department had. She worked in an inner office, too, which meant that there wasn't very much natural light, so it was often difficult to gauge when it was getting late. Of course, she didn't mind working late, mostly because there wasn't much she had to attend to in her daily life; except for Crookshanks who didn't seem to mind her daily absences. The only problem it caused was walking through the dark Ministry which had creeped her out ever since the battle there in her fifth year.
The guard at the front entrance to the Ministry was always asleep by time she left, and she would make as much noise as possible as she approached to save him any embarassment. As she passed him, he attempted to look attentive but didn't even bother to ask her any questions as was procedure. The fresh air was a welcome relief after being inside all day, and she breathed deeply with her eyes closed in pleasure. Therefore the hand on her shoulder startled her, causing her to turn toward them with a noise of disapproval.
"Ronald, you frightened me," she said, relaxing a bit and shaking her head. It wasn't really his fault; she was always a bit jumpy after a long day.
"Sorry," he said with a grin that suggested he wasn't. His red hair was a terrible, windblown mess, meaning he had probably just gotten off work himself. As manager of the Chudley Canons, Ron spent a good amount of time in the air himself to watch them play. "I sent up a message with some woman. She was supposed to tell you that I was here."
"She probably got lost," Hermione said, only half-kidding, "And we'll find her in a few weeks admist the piles of paperwork."
"Well, that's not my fault, now is it?" He said with a grin and leaned in to give her a kiss on the lips. Hermione allowed him to kiss her, but was soon distracted by a taxi that had pulled up to the curb.
"Oh! Ron, I called for this cab before I left the office. I have to take it now or you know I'll never get another one."
"I swear, the city is conspiring to keep us apart." Hermione gave him a sympathetic smile and moved to slide into the cab, but he held the door open, "Wait! I did come down here for a reason, you know," She looked at him with a mixture of curiosity and impatience, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out two rectangular slips of paper, "The Canons are playing this weekend and I got an extra ticket so we can go together and maybe spend some time alone afterwards."
"This weekend? Ron! You should have checked with me before you made these plans. I have stuff to do this weekend that I can't cancel." Whatever answer he expected, this was obviously not it, and she continued quickly, "Why don't you take Ginny? You know she loves Quidditch and she's always bugging you to get her tickets."
With a disbelieving laugh, he turned away from the cab and paced the sidewalk. Hermione looked longingly at the stretch of roadway, but sighed and turned to the driver, "Can you wait for me?"
"Meter's running," he commented, already having opened a magazine.
She got out, slamming the car door, and stalking over to him, grabbing his shoulder, "Do you honestly expect me to drop everything to go to a Quidditch game?"
"No, Hermione! I expect you to 'drop everything' so that we can go on a date! What are you doing this weekend that's so bloody important?"
"I'm . . ." She crossed her arms and glared at him, "I'm going to visit Harry, okay?"
Ron stared at her and then shook his head angrily. His voice had grown considerably in volume, "Oh, yeah, that's grand. Sorry, I just wasn't aware that Harry was your boyfriend."
"That's not fair, Ron!" She shouted back.
"It's not fair that he gets to see you more than I do!"
"I'm sure he doesn't think it's fair that he sees me more than he does you when you're supposedly his best friend!"
"I go visit him, Hermione."
"When? When do you go visit, Ron? Did it ever occur to you that he might want to go see the Quidditch game?"
"Don't," Ron said quietly, staring at her with something dark in his eyes.
"But that'd be hard, wouldn't it? Then you'd have to deal with the war and the fact that things aren't like they used to be! Then you might have to take on some responsibility. That would just kill you, wouldn't it, Ron?"
"I'm out of here," he snarled, turning to head toward home, clearly regretting ever coming.
"Fine! Run away, little boy! It's what you do best, isn't it? We all found that out during the war!"
Ron turned angrily toward her, grabbing her arm and pulling her roughly toward him until they were face to face. She could hear his angry and sharp breathing, and when he spoke it came out in a near growl, "Don't you think I know that? I lost family during the war, Hermione. I saw friends who I'd once played wizarding chess with in the common room die on the battle field and be trampled as their own side pressed the attack forward. Yes, I want to forget, okay?"
Hermione's eyes didn't leave his face, and she said softly, "Harry can't forget, Ron."
He let go of her arm, which she absently massaged with her hand, still focused on her boyfriend, "I know. But I don't know what to say when I'm around him, and it's awkward for both of us."
"You don't want to forget about him, though, do you?"
"Of course not," he snapped, "He's my best friend. That hasn't changed. He's just not the same, Hermione. All he talks about is the war."
"Harry's still in there, Ron, and I've noticed that he's a bit more himself when you're around."
Ron sighed, his cheeks pink out of agitation or embarassment, "Maybe I will take Ginny to the game this weekend."
"I think that's a good idea. And a good start."
Ron looked away and then back at her, looking fully apologetic for the first time that night, "Do you want to stay at my flat tonight? I know you've got a few changes of clothes there, and it's actually closer to the Ministry than your place."
"I was actually . . ." She glanced at the taxi and then back at her boyfriend, biting her bottom lip as she tried to find a way not to cycle into the same argument.
"Going to visit Harry?" He asked, running a hand through his flaming red hair and shaking his head as though he couldn't believe his own patience. All of his volatile anger seemed to have left him, though, and he simply shrugged helplessly.
"I was going to take him some dinner. I worry that he's not eating enough. Your mother and I have been taking turns taking him meals. Tonight is my night."
"Yeah, okay," he turned to go and said, "I guess I'll see you . . . around, then."
"Ron! We just talked about this!" She said, catching up to him quickly and smiling, placing his hands on her waist and her own hands on his shoulders. "Come with me to see Harry. And then we can go back to your flat and I'll stay the night. Maybe I'll even call off from work tomorrow. I'm ahead on all of my work and Merlin knows I have sick days to spare."
"And we'll spend the entire day together?" Ron asked doubtfully, "No Harry?"
"Yes," she kissed him.
With a resigned sigh, he asked, "Are you going now?"
She gave him an ironic smile and said, "The cab's waiting."