Ron elbowed Harry in the ribs as he watched Hermione pace across the kitchen. She was wringing her hands and mumbling to herself.
“She’s gone mental, Harry, I’m sure of it.” Ron shook his head worriedly.
Harry grinned. “You’re right, mate. Absolutely mental. Those bloody owls better be here soon.”
“Owls? What owls? Where?” Hermione whipped around and stomped across the kitchen, stopping when she was only inches from Harry’s face.
“Hermione, relax!” Harry put his hands up and backed away. “You’ll probably have the highest N.E.W.T. scores in the history of Hogwarts.”
“But I didn’t study nearly as much as I should have. I’m going to fail; I just know I’m going to fail.” She whirled around again, and resumed her frantic movements.
Ron started to laugh, but stopped when Harry caught his eye. He leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, “Harry, she must have studied twenty hours a day. I don’t think she ever left the library.”
Before Harry could respond, a loud crash startled them both. Hermione had slammed one of Molly’s pots on the counter.
“Constant diligence!” she shouted.
“Hermione-” Harry began.
“-You sound like Mad-Eye Moody,” Ron finished.
She froze and both young men paled, expecting a lecture at the very least. Instead, there was silence, followed by quiet sniffling. Hermione put her head down on her folded arms, and began to sob openly.
Ron stepped forward and hesitantly placed an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. He bent his head to whisper in her ear, but she turned her head at the last moment. Before he could stop himself – or think about what he was doing – Ron found his lips touching Hermione’s. He kissed her softly until he felt the tension leave her shoulders. When they parted, Hermione opened her eyes and smiled.
“Are you trying to distract me, Ron?” she whispered.
“Mmm-hmm,” he mumbled.
“Hem, hem,” said a new voice.
Ron and Hermione looked up in a panic, only to see Harry and Ginny grinning at them, waving several envelopes.
Ginny laughed. “Are you two done? Or would you rather wait to open these?”