Most days, Ron stumbles down the stairs at half past seven. He’s still dressed in a pair of rumpled, plaid pajamas, his untidy red hair sticking up at odd angles. Looks like the walking dead as he makes his way sluggishly towards the pot of coffee on the counter and pours himself a cup.
Still doesn’t like the taste of it, but these days, Hermione swears the brackish substance is the only thing keeping the three of them on their feet. True enough, Ron supposes as he turns to find Harry sitting at the breakfast table, looking worn-down and tired. Half-lidded, his green eyes skim over the front page of the Daily Prophet as a half-empty cup of coffee cools at his elbow.
Ron says, “Morning, Harry.” into the quiet. Harry doesn’t seem to hear him and the silence stretches. Stifling a yawn, he tries again. “Where’s ‘Mione?”
Blinking owlishly, Harry looks up from the paper in his hands and says, rather unintelligibly around the metal spoon dangling haphazardly out of his mouth, “huh?” as Ron reaches over and pulls a chair out next to him. This early in the morning he can’t be bothered to repeat himself – just takes a seat, letting his legs and arms brush against Harry’s beneath the tabletop as he waits for the other’s sleep-idled brain to process what he’s said and form some kind of response.
Knows it will eventually, and sure enough a moment later Harry blinks again, pulls the spoon out and says, “Oh, Hermione left ‘bout an hour ago. She’s got that meeting with the Ministry today about Hogwarts and all the new ‘improvements’.”
“…the ones old McGonagall’s been raving to my mum about?” Ron asks, with mild surprise as he scoops eggs off onto his plate. Harry nods, and Ron frowns. “I didn’t know Hermione was handling that.” A pause, “Did she mention it at all?”
Harry gives Ron a sympathetic look and says, “Couple times, yeah.” with an air that tells Ron this is a massive understatement. Making a mental note to pay closer attention and take time to ask after Hermione the next chance he gets, Ron reaches across Harry for a piece of toast, sighing tiredly even as the other pats him on the arm. “Don’t worry about it Ron.” Harry says, “We’ve all been busy lately, especially Hermione. She’ll understand.”
Truth be told, he’s probably right, but these days Ron couldn’t care less. Between rebuilding the Ministry, keeping up with Auror Training, and, of course, helping to clean up in the aftermath of what the Daily Prophet has dubbed the Second Wizard War, they’re stretched far too thin for his liking. Even living in the same house doesn’t change the fact that, to Ron, it feels as though they haven’t seen each other in ages, and he hates it. They all do, but for the most part they don’t complain, not even to each other. They’re alive and that’s all that matters, even if, sometimes, Ron has to remind himself of this.
And so he tries to enjoy the simple things in life like hot coffee and warm bread and the way Harry’s hand continues to rest on his arm even as the other climbs reluctantly to his feet and says, “I should get going…”
Nodding at this, Ron says, “okay,” and he tries not to seem too disappointed by the thought of being left at Number 12 Grimmauld Place on his own. Adds, “I’ll see you, then.” as he starts chewing deliberately on the corner of his newly buttered toast.
There is a pause that stretches into a long silence as Ron waits for Harry to turn and leave and Harry continues to linger there without saying a word. Finally, Ron feels Harry’s hand gently squeezes his shoulder and the other says, “Hey, Ron?”
Blinking, Ron looks up from his plate at Harry who gives him a slightly lop-sided smile and says, “Good morning,” simply, before leaning down to press a quick kiss to the top of his head.
And Ron thinks that, yeah, it definitely could be worse.