She isn't used to quiet anymore.
Usually, when she's sitting in the library, she has two bantering boys at her side, constantly knocking their elbows into hers and ruining her neatly formed words until she is forced to whisper-shout them into submission, the quiet of which only lasts for about five minutes before it all begins again. Now, however, it's silent all of the time. There's no buzz of conversation in her ear to distract her from the paper that she's writing. There's no scratch of quills that contrast rudely with the scratch of hers. And there's nobody sitting close enough to her to knock elbows.
She hates it.
Hermione Granger had spent her life making excellent marks in the category of being alone, but that hadn't been the case since she was twelve years old, and she doesn't see how she's supposed to be expected to start all over again. Loneliness is far more hollow once you realize what you are missing. She misses the conversation, even though it was distracting. And she always liked the way that their quills made their words with disharmonious scratches- it highlighted their differences. And when Ron Weasley's elbow would knock against hers and she would feel happiness explode inside her, it was actually the best part of her day.
Is it odd that she misses them more than she misses her parents?
It's not that she doesn't love and adore her parents- she does. But walking these hallways without her boys makes her feel vulnerable in a way that she hasn't felt in a long time. She doesn't need them, but she wants them with her. Hermione never realized the vast difference between those words until she was in the midst of this situation. There are oceans between the two of them. Universes.
She would stand by her decision to give McGonagall the Firebolt in a heartbeat, but that doesn't mean that her stomach doesn't twinge every time that she thinks about it. After all, she could very well have just insured that Ron will never talk to her again. And… and Harry. Harry too. She misses being friends with Harry quite a lot. He's a lovely boy, and even though disaster is attracted to him like a magnet, he has a wonderful sense of humor and an innocence that makes her smile more often than not.
He's not Ron, though. It doesn't take her too long to figure out that she misses Ron more than she misses Harry, and it takes her an even shorter time to understand why. She's not an idiot. She's read books about this. Hermione Granger is fairly certain that she fancies him. After all, she hadn't used to think that ginger hair and freckles were attractive attributes in a boy, but now they make her heart beat in her chest with a vigor that she can only compare to all of the times that she has been in danger.
There's a gap that needs to be bridged, but she's certainly not going to do it. She's fourteen, but she's not an idiot. She recognizes the fact that Ron Weasley has a negative effect on her general happiness. Sometimes being around him will uplift her enormously. He certainly has the ability to make her laugh harder than anybody else does, and she's become to associate the soothing feeling of laughing so hard that you don't have energy to do anything else with Ron's voice. But other times, he makes her want to fling herself onto her bed and have a good cry into her pillow. He's good for her, and sweet, but he's an absolute Neanderthal. The way that his moods swing can cause Hermione's moods to swing in ten seconds. She just wants him to fancy her, but it's obvious that he's never going to, so she decides that the best thing to do is just stop. Stop it all. Stop thinking about him. Stop caring about him. Stop craving his laughter and desiring to help him.
It's probably a good thing that they're never going to talk again because Ron Weasley could turn out to be a real problem.
One summer, Hermione and her parents had decided to go on holiday and tour the oldest buildings available for viewing. Her father had been on an architecture kick and her mother had adopted her own casual interest in it, so they packed their suitcases and walked through some of the oldest and most smelly buildings Hermione would ever have the displeasure of stepping foot in. As fascinating as history was, it really didn't excuse the draft.
Grimmauld Place is far older and smellier than any of these places. It is also creaky. She feels like she can't even go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without the entire house knowing. One wayward step and the entire population of England would probably discover the location of the Order of the Phoenix. It makes her miss Hogwarts. Hogwarts doesn't creak. It's solid and stable and always there when she needs it.
As it's been an emotionally draining day, it really should come as no surprise to Hermione that she cannot fall asleep. Ron had been particularly moody and taken out his frustration at the entire situation on the Order members who had been unfortunate enough to pop in for breakfast that morning. He pestered them about Harry until they reached the end of their lines, after which Ron reached the end of his line and thus proceeded to do the only logical thing- be rude to Hermione.
She's aware of the fact that it's hard for him- it's hard for her too. But she doesn't understand why he has to be upset with her all of the time. It's tough to listen to him bark at her for turning the page in her too loudly or for accidentally kicking him as she gets up to grab a glass of water. Obviously, though, she's no going to do anything about it. Why would she try to cheer him up or change his mind when she knows that the next day he'll feel so guilty that he'll be kind to her? It seems like there are two types of days at Grimmauld Place, the days where she thinks that Ron fancies her and the days during which she thinks that he hates her. It drives her to tears, the mood swings, which in turn makes her biting and angry.
The only respite she gets are the few hours after which Ron goes to bed and she lies in the room that she shares with Ginny and tries to fall asleep. More often than not, she falls asleep thinking about him. Almost always, he invades her dreams, touching her face and kissing her skin and doing things that she hadn't known that she wanted until she had dreamed them and realized that they were possible. There's something innately within her that is drawn to him, maybe to the idea of him, and wanting to learn things with him. Explore things with him. Grow with him.
He doesn't fancy her, so she shouldn't fancy him. That's the way that it's going to work. She's going to stop fancying him because the alternative is hating him every single day for not choosing to be with her, and it's not his fault. It's not.
Tonight, she's so wound up that the thought of dreaming about him only serves to infuriate her more. She doesn't want to dream about him- not tonight- and so she decides that she won't go to sleep. The fact that it's one o'clock in the morning helps. If she hasn't fallen asleep already, she's not going to fall asleep at all. It only seems logical to grab her book and take it up to the third floor sitting room, which is easily one of the coolest rooms in the house. It's pleasant to sit in despite the ugly colors that adorn the space- black, grey, and navy blue, mostly. The first time that Ron had seen it, he had made a snide comment about rich people's taste in upholstery, which had made Hermione laugh so hard that Ginny had begun laughing just at the look on her face.
An upside to midnight ready is that all of the couches have availability. Hermione makes her way to the one that is best for reading and stretches out on it, sinking into the old, moldy cushions. They cleaned this room out long ago, and it smells better than most, so it's a pleasant experience to read in the still of the dark morning.
Ron's voice startles her from her book, and she looks up. The chair that is facing the fireplace, positioned with its back to her, is occupied by a fifteen year old boy. He's blinking blearily at the light of her wand, which she had been holding over her book, and which is now pointed directly at his sleepy face.
"Ron," Hermione says. Though she knows that it's not an intruder, her heart doesn't slow down. A slow smile takes over his face as he takes in her baggy t-shirt and comfortable pajama shorts. "I'm sorry to wake you."
"'s alright," he yawns, stretching. His skin is exposed- there are freckles that swirl around his navel and duck into underneath his trousers. "I shouldn't have fallen asleep here in the first place."
To contradict this statement, he burrows himself deeper into the chair and snaps his eyes shut.
"It's the coolest room in the house," Hermione points out for lack of anything better to say.
Ron's eyes pop back open.
"Yeah. It is."
Hermione bites her lip.
"I'll… let you get back to sleep. I can leave if you want."
He shakes his head quickly.
"No. Stay with me."
The final two thirds of that sentence were entirely unnecessary for him to say. Both of them know it. It registers for the two of them at the same time. A smile manages to crawl its way across Hermione's lips.
She turns back to her book, brain able to retain what's going on even though half of her mind is on Ron. He's breathing quietly just inches from her, and it's never this peaceful between the two of them. They're never breathing the same air and not having conversation. It's strange and wonderful simultaneously.
And over too soon.
"I… I'm sorry for being such a prat to you earlier today."
Hermione blinks at him.
"I think this is the part where you're supposed to deny that I'm a grumpy arsehole."
"I will do no such thing," Hermione states primly. "You are, in fact, a grumpy arsehole."
She can see the pain that comes from her teasing and immediately goes in for damage control. He's so gigantic in personality and stature that sometimes, very rarely, she slips and forgets how small he thinks that he is.
"But other times, you're wonderful." He lifts his head, tilting it slightly to the side.
"Other times, you make me laugh so hard that I can't breathe and you help me reach things that are too high for me to reach and only tease me a little about it, and those are the best parts of my days."
"Harry's my best friend," Ron begins, "but… so are you, Hermione. I think that the reason I'm always such a git to you is that I'm comfortable enough around you to be like that. You make me feel…"
He doesn't continue, but Hermione doesn't need him to. She feels the same sense of safe around him as he feels around her. He's unpredictable and finicky and on some days he makes her want to tear her hair out, but he's Ron Weasley. He's worth it.
"You're my best friend, too," she says, but it's quiet, lest he hear it said with too much fervor and think that best friends is all that she ever wants to be. It's not.
But as she sees the way his eyes brighten at feeling needed, she makes a choice. She's no going to do anything to destroy their friendship; nothing to impede the progress they have made. They make each other better people, and it would be entirely selfish of her to rip that away from the two of them because she fancies a boy that does not fancy her in return. She's going to be the best girl friend that he's ever had, but she's not going to date him. She's going to un-fall for him.
Only time will tell how long this constitution lasts.
Nothing feels worse than seeing him kiss Lavender Brown. Nothing. She doesn't know what to do or what to feel or how to act. She wants to tell him that he's hurting her and make him stop, but it's not her place to do so and even if she did, she has a feeling that he wouldn't care.
She thinks that she will spend her entire life trying not to be in love with Ron Weasley.
The breaths that rise and fall next to her or not deep enough. She wants to turn to him and ask him to breathe deeper, to calm himself down, but she can't bring herself to move. It's entirely her fault. Maybe if she could be stronger for him, he wouldn't be panicking right now. But how is she supposed to turn towards him and bluntly tell Ron to pull himself together when she's such a mess herself? She's got sweat on her body, constantly increasing and decreasing due to her levels of pain. And she's got blood woven through her hair, almost like a purposeful design. She can't see it, but she can feel the thick, wet crimson that is slipping gleefully down the slope of her arm. When Ron had first seen the contrast of the warm blood against the pale of her British skin, she had seen the nausea on his face. It was the face of a man who was about to lose everything.
She's not his everything. She is his something, if anything, but she is certainly not his everything.
Fleur has asked him to leave the room several times, but all he's done is insist that Hermione needs him and remained stationary in the wooden chair that has been placed by the bed. He's watching her, and even though she can't see his face, she can feel his heart wrenching gaze on her. She doesn't want him to look at her like that. She doesn't want him to love her. He can't love her, because if he does it means that they're going to dive into battle and she's going to get hurt and he's going to go insane. And she's going to use her final breath to tell him that she's loved him all along because if you're dying there's nothing to risk anymore. There's no way that she's not going to tell him if he's there for it, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't understand how selfish it is for him to know. If he's in love with her, it will torture him forever. If he isn't in love with her, it will still torture him forever.
And what about if he dies? Throws himself in front of a curse for her… gets hit in the back when he isn't look… steps forward to bravely take his due for the cause. How is she supposed to survive knowing that he did not? She is so painfully enamored with everything about him, and the idea of never seeing his blue eyes alive again is devastating to her. She thinks that he's in love with her, and she thinks that he's too scared to tell her, and she doesn't want him to be because that will hurt them both so much in the end.
It's easier to want to not be in love with somebody during wartime, but it's harder to act on it.
"This eez going to 'urt," comes the voice of Fleur, and Hermione nods and braces herself for the pain.
"Wait," Ron says, voice breaking as he does so. He scoots his chair closer to the bed so that he is in Hermione's field of vision, then cups her hands in his. Hermione doesn't focus on Fleur; instead, her attention is on the soft brush of Ron Weasley's lips on the top of her hand. The pain comes and she wants to die, but she uses his lips as the tether to keep her to life. After it is over, he presses his hand, with hers still snugly enclosed inside of it, to his forehead.
"Ron," she gasps out. He lifts his hand from his head and moves so that his eyes are steady on hers. Lost in the view, she realizes it. "You are need."
He looks up at Fleur, confused.
"Harry… Harry is want. You are need."
She's finally figured out the difference between the two of them. She wants to be around Harry. She needs to be around Ron. She needs it like the air that she breathes, knows it like the carefully annotated textbooks that rest in her beaded bag somewhere. Ron Weasley is not an option.
He never has been.
She'd never thought that it would be so hard not to have sex with someone.
To Hermione, sex had been something that her roommates would often giggle about. Sex was something that she thought she might someday, but she had always pictured it occurring in a white wedding dress as a young teenager, never going into the graphic details of the middle. To Hermione, sex was before and after. It was not a thing that you did because you wanted to. Of course, then she had hit fifteen and started having confusing sorts of dreams, consuming her every thought. She would often wake up in the morning and continue believing that they were true until she was already halfway through the process of brushing her teeth.
Even then, though, sex had been some grander gesture that would occur far off into the distance. It was never something that seemed like it would be a reality to her because somewhere in the back of her mind she had not believed that she was worthy of it. Why would somebody want to have sex with her? She certainly isn't beautiful. She doesn't have a gorgeous body. When she runs, her face turns tomato red and her hair turns bushier with exertion. She can only imagine that this would apply to the physical aspect of sex.
Often, when she imagines having sex with Ron, it's not really her having sex with him. It is her, but it's not her. It's a more beautiful edition, with a slimmer stomach and fuller breasts and hair that is somehow perfectly straight and glossy. And he smiles down at her with this awestruck grin that makes her heart leap into her throat, and it beats faster, and she just knows that she has made the right choice. The right choice is Ron Weasley.
She doesn't really believe that this will ever happen until the war ends and she spends a vast number of days pressed against the orange comforter in Ron's bedroom, limbs tangled with his, bare feet running up the back of his leg while his arms pull her tighter against his body. It's not perfected kissing by any means- it's wet and sloppy and loud but quiet at the same time. They're not moaning or anything, they're just trying things. Experimenting with what feels good and what they want and what the other person likes. They don't really talk about it, either. They just snog. Ron's hands often venture to explore parts of Hermione's skin that have never been touched, and she doesn't slap the tentative fingers away because it means that he loves her and she loves him too.
He deserves someone more beautiful, but he picked her.
Hermione, for her part, wouldn't change anything about Ron. He's self-conscious about how skinny he is, and the starvation certainly did not help. But she likes it, likes the contrast of his lanky body against her soft one. She likes the way shirts hang off of him and the way he tries to flatten his hair against his head, a habit that he picked up from watching Harry do it so often. Hermione thinks about the fantasies that she used to have about him and considers the fact that he never changed at all in her mind's eye. At least not physically. He always looked just like he did when she was dreaming about him.
So this? This isn't a disappointment.
The problem is that, as they're getting better at this, they're starting to be less quiet. The wandering hands are less tentative and more passionate. And she wants to do more. He does too, but Hermione had always thought that she would be the one in any relationship that she entered into that would be a prude about the entire venture. She is the one that is supposed to be keeping Ron at bay; preserving her integrity. All the while, her hands are wandering to his ass.
It's a mess, actually.
When he pushes to do something more, she does it. Because she wants to. And yes she's scared. But the more items of clothing that get peeled off over their weeks of snogging, the less scared she is. Which is why she allows him to share a room with her in Australia, and why she allows him to see her change sometimes, just to test the water and try to see if he would change anything about her just from the look on his face, and she allows him to leave bruising kisses on her lips before they fall asleep.
They peel back mental barriers and hit theoretical checkpoints night after night until there's only one piece of clothing left on each of them. She wants to not want to take them off, but she does. He's covering over her, breathing unsteadily and patiently waiting for her to make the next move. She squeezes her eyes shut and she tries not to love him so much.
Hermione attempts to forget about the troll that he saved her from, and the pain on his face when she appeared at the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, and the shocked look on his face when she hugged him for the first time. She tries to shove from her mind the joy in his eyes that reflected hers when he broke up with Lavender, and the way he came back, and the sound of his voice calling to her and reviving her when she had felt like she was beyond retrieval. She makes every effort to eschew their first kiss, and the way he attempted to hide the wetness in his eyes the first time she said that she loves him, and the awe on his face when he sees her bare breasts for the first time. It hadn't felt dirty. It had felt like something that they were just supposed to be doing. Not because they are eighteen year olds, but because of each other.
When she opens her eyes, she just loves him more.
The awe on his face is nearly the exact look that she had always dreamed about when she was picturing this moment, and try as she might to forget that, his respect and admiration is the forefront of his gaze. He wants her for her. He doesn't want to change anything. He just wants her to give him a chance.
She lets him love her.
"I hate him."
"Oh, come on. You don't hate him."
"I want to kill him."
"Hermione. You don't want to kill him."
"He's suchan idiot!"
Ginny pauses, amused.
"Well, I can't argue there. He is an idiot."
Hermione turns towards Ginny. Her school skirt fans out in the intensity of the twist. Ginny is sitting casually on the couch, flipping through a magazine about Quidditch and unsuccessfully trying to act like the entire situation isn't amusing. Ginny is unsuccessful only because of the upturned position that her lips take.
"Why are you so calm about this?" Hermione demands to know. "We could break up over this."
"I'm calm," Ginny begins, "because I already know what the outcome is. No angst for me."
Hermione stops pacing.
"What do you mean you know what the outcome is going to be?"
"You and Ron have this row, he comes crawling back, the end."
Hermione laughs low in her throat.
"If you asked Harry to move in with you and he said no and ran away and stopped talking to you, what would you do? Would you be so complacent?"
"Harry would talk about it with me," Ginny decides, flipping the magazine page. "And, honestly, I doubt I'll ever ask him to move in together. Harry doesn't need pushes. He figures out what he wants and then he gets nervous and stutters and eventually asks. Ron, on the other hand, needs to get worked up and passionate about something before he can execute it."
"I'm done," Hermione sighs, slumping down onto the couch. For the first time, Ginny looks sympathetic.
"He'll come around, Hermione. I know he will."
Hermione's quiet for several minutes before she speaks.
"I've decided to fall out of love with Ron," Hermione announces.
Ginny snorts her way through a laugh.
"Yeah. That's likely."
"No, really. It's the single most sensible thing to do."
"Don't be ridiculous, Hermione. You couldn't fall out of love with Ron if somebody was pointing a gun to your head."
"How about to his head?"
"That would just prove how much you love him. Ergo, my point stands."
It takes several moments for Hermione to comprehend the fact that Ginny has just out logic-ed her.
"I think I need to go to bed and sleep this off."
"Lest you actually buck up and kill the man you're in love with."
Soft smiles and parting waves are exchanged before Hermione gets off of the couch and heads up the stairs to her room. She's just crawled into her bed when she hears yelling at the bottom of the stairs. Startled, she gets out of bed immediately and tentatively places her hand on the door handle.
At the sound of her name, she pushes the door open.
He's standing at the foot of the girls' staircase, his shoulders slumped forward, his face bright red. She can't tell it's from anger or from running, but she tip toes down the staircase anyways, pressing her finger to the lips to shut him up. His eyes skid over her white camisole and navy blue pajama shorts. In spite of the fact that he's seen her naked countless times, she feels more vulnerable than she has felt since they started dating.
"What do you want, Ron?" she hisses under her breath, trying to retain some amount of control.
"I'm sorry," he says, his shoulders going up as his head cocks to the side.
Hermione crosses her arms over her chest.
"I'm not really looking for a sorry. Thanks, though."
"No." he looks frustrated as he runs an agitated hand through his tousled hair. "I mean… I'm sorry that I yelled at you and ran away and avoided talked to you."
"I'm sorry that you did those things too," she says shortly.
"And… when I say I'm sorry, I mean that I do want to move in with you."
Her eyes soften immediately. Hermione walks the short set of steps that she needs to take to reach him and wraps her arms around his neck. The girls that had been watching them slowly lose interest. Ron stares down at her.
"That's sweet of you to say," she says quietly, "but I don't want you to move in with me just because I want to move in with you, or because you believe that it is the only way to fix our argument. It was just an idea, Ron."
"No!" he shakes his head quickly, reminding her of an energetic puppy. "That's not what I mean. I mean… Hermione, when things get tough, I run away. It's just something that I do. Like, when Bill told me that Fleur was pregnant, I got see freaked out that I dragged Harry off to a bar to get drunk. I can't deal with change. Ever. I just… I usually need time to adjust. To think about it. I'm a fairly simple man, Hermione. Give me time and I'll pull myself together. And when I do, I'll always come back to you."
She laces her fingers through the hairs at the nape of his neck.
"So you're saying that…?"
"It's only logical," he flashes her a mischievous grin, "that we move in together. It would save money- getting separate flats wouldn't- and it'll happen eventually so it will actually end up saving us time and energy for moving."
"That was my argument," Hermione reminds him, raising an eyebrow.
"I listened to it."
She kisses him on the nose, then the lips.
"So. How did you get up here?"
Ron looks sheepish for the first time.
"Um… I pleaded my case to McGonagall until she gave me ten minutes?"
"Oh, and you were so convinced that you could make all of it up to me in five minutes?"
He kisses her deeply.
"You're susceptible to my charms on account of the fact that you're in love with me."
"Yeah," Hermione murmurs. "I do."
There are some days where Hermione wakes up in the morning and doesn't know where Ron is. Those days are the worst. She wants to cry and scream and throw things across the room because him being her boyfriend isn't good enough. She wants more than that. She wants his safety guaranteed. She wants to always come home from her sensible desk job and know that he's going to be coming home from his. But it's more than that. It's dealing with an empty flat and a cold bed and cooking dinner for one person when the table suits two. Often, Ginny will come over and have a girls' night with her, but it's not the same.
It's not the same as having Ron there.
The greater good may be important, but what about her? What about being together? What about not taking risks ? They fought a war together; they defeated the villain. This is the part where it's supposed to be over. To Hermione, the picture of "after the war" had always been one of peace and serenity. It did not involve Ron getting called on long term missions in the middle of the night and being away for days at a time. She knows that it's selfish, but she wants him to come home from her always, and she's willing to defeat anything that will get in the way.
The easiest way to handle the situation, she decides, is to pretend that she doesn't love him. If she doesn't love him, it doesn't hurt as much. She doesn't have to picture him lying in a ditch somewhere, dirt in his hair and blood soaking into his skin. If she can just pretend that he doesn't matter, the universe will send him back to her.
It seems like a good idea, but in reality, she's terrible at its execution.
He's fully aware of the fact that she goes scatterbrained when he leaves. He feels guilty, she knows that he does, but that doesn't stop him from doing what he loves. And it's not like she ever would force him to quit his job. He would never do that to her, so why would she do that to him? It's only fair that she shut her mouth and allow him to do what makes him happy.
That doesn't mean that she doesn't panic when she wakes up in the middle of the night and he's not with her.
But there are the times that he strides through the door with scruff on his cheeks and a gallant smile on his face. And he takes her in his arm and kisses her, lifting her up with enthusiasm and no matter what, those are the best nights of her life. Even though she misses him with every piece of her, she also loves those moments when she rediscovers how much she adores him.
It's not that she forgets, but his hands are large and rough and he loves her so, so much and in the end, as long as she comes back to her, she can continue to love him. She can love him for an eternity if it means that he comes home.
The blankets are wrapped so deliciously around Hermione that she thinks it would take a small earthquake to get her out of them. She's not sure what tugged her back to consciousness in the first place, but she doesn't see a reason to be awake so, after blinking blearily a few times, her eyes slip closed.
"Not yet, Hermione," a voice whispers. "C'mon, love. Stay awake for me."
"Ron?" she mumbles into the pillow. "What are you doing?"
"Look at me."
One of her eyes peaks open once more, and she sees the light streaming in from the starry sky behind her.
"Why'd you open the window?"
He strokes hair back from her face.
"Because I'm about to ask you to marry me."
"I… I have drool on my chin."
"Is that a yes?"
"It's a 'you're a lazy sod that can't think of a better way to propose.'"
"That's absolutely a yes."
She sits up in bed, hair falling over her shoulders as she places her hand on her cheek. Her eyes are bright as she says,
"Ron, are you serious?"
He crinkles his nose.
"I have never been more serious."
She nods slowly, then faster.
"And this isn't something you just thought up on a whim?"
"Nah," he says, shrugging. "It was bound to happen eventually."
Too exhausted to ask any more questions, Hermione grasps his hand in hers, pulling him onto the bed with her. He molds his body to hers and rests his hand on the pillow in front of her eyes. When they adjust to the sight, she finds that there is a diamond ring sitting in front of her.
"Will you marry me?"
"I hate you right now."
"I wanted to be asleep."
He kisses the top of her head.
"I think you'll be okay. You get to be a bride now. Isn't that worth it?"
She nods, resting her head against his chest. Hermione's next words are said through a large yawn, but that doesn't decrease their significance.
"You're always worth it."
Hermione Weasley is not in love.
She cannot be in love because love does not hurt this much. The pain that she is feeling should not be associated with being in love. Having a baby, after all, is supposed to be something that comes from loving someone with all of your heart and soul and all of that cheesy shit that they talked about in the birthing books that she's been reading for the past seven months. She wants to be in love, but she thinks that she must have been lying to herself for all of these years because she has never felt this awful in her life.
"This is the worst thing I have ever done," she grunts in Ron's direction, and he laughs despite the shell-shocked look in his eyes.
"I'm serious!" It takes longer for her to get the sentence out because of how hard she is breathing. "I fucking got tortured by a fucking Death Eater and I'm pretty sure that pushing a water melon out of my goddamn vagina hurts way more than that."
"Does swearing help?" Ron wonders out loud. Hermione turns her sweaty head so that she can glare at him.
"Swearing does not fucking help."
She thinks that he's going to die from laughter, which honestly just makes her want to hit him.
"I hate you," she gasps. "I'm never even talking to you again, much less having sex with you."
"Sure, love. Whatever you say."
"I'M SERIOUS!" she screeches. Ron takes a step back. "YOU ARE NEVER, EVER TOUCHING ME AGAIN."
One of the Healer's assistants looks up, shocked, at Ron's chuckle.
"She can't resist me," he says by way of explanation. "This is just a phase."
The woman ducks back down and Hermione hears a giggle from her direction.
"STOP MAKING THE NURSE LAUGH WHILE I'M GIVING BIRTH, YOU IDIOT!" Hermione screams in his direction. Ron pats her soothingly on the head. She contemplates killing him. "I have never loved you less."
Later on, they hold their baby, Hermione taking her in her arms first and Ron following later. She looks at the way the child's cheeks flush rose colored in her first few moments and how tiny the little girl is in Ron's arms, and how the size of both of his hands together is probably both of her entire tiny little body.
She's never loved him more.
They're literally standing on opposite sides of the room. She's by the door, covering the exit from any possibility of escape. He's standing next to the couch, his face contorted into an expression that somehow manages to be both angry and confused. She wonders how he could possibly have a lack of understanding regarding what he's done wrong. He's such an idiot.
"You can't just say something like that and assume that I'm going to be okay with it!"
"But…" he searches for the words. "I don't understand! I thought that it was always coming to this?"
Hermione frowns, tugging at her hair with her hands.
"What in the world gave you that impression?"
"We have a child!" he says like it's obvious. "You can't have thought that you were going to be working forever. Who's going to take care of her while she grows up? A nanny?"
"Why does it have to be me that quits my job? Why can't you quit your job, Ronald Weasley? Yours is far more dangerous than mine is and therefore it would be more beneficial for all three of us for you to be around all the time rather than vanishing off into the night and going on glamorous missions!"
"That's not what my job is and you know it. Stop acting so childish, Hermione!"
"Childish?" she shrieks. "You know what's childish? The actual child that you made me bring into the world."
"I'm calling bullshit. I did not make you bring Rose into the world! You can't pull that out in a fight. There's a line. That's the fucking line, Hermione!"
"Well you can't tell me to quit my job to raise our child. That's the fucking line as well!"
This isn't like the way they usually bicker, cute and romantic in its own way. This actually hurts. This actually means something. Usually their fights end with her running into his arms, but right now she can't even look at him. She's used to feeling anger towards Ron, but he's never asked her to start denying who she is before. That makes this different.
"Hermione," he says, "I don't want our baby girl to be raised by some random woman that doesn't care about her! Nobody in the world will be able to raise Rose better than you."
"My working doesn't mean that I'm not going to be raising her, you Neanderthal."
"Ginny quit being a Quidditch player to raise James."
"Oh, so now you're comparing me to your sister."
"I'm just saying that Ginny made the choice to put her child over her career, and that's what Weasleys do."
"Oh, so now I'm not a Weasley."
"Jesus Christ, Hermione, I'm just saying that-"
"You're saying that I'm not good enough to raise your child because I'm not willing to quit my job and you're comparing me to your sister in spite of the fact that I'm not ginger and met you about ten years after she did. I hear you, Ron."
"Okay. You're right."
"I'm being irrational. I'm expecting you to be something that you're not. You wouldn't ask me to quit my job, and I shouldn't as you to quit yours."
She looks over her shoulder to see if he's talking to somebody else.
"Really really." He moves closer to her, wrapping his arms around her waist. "In hindsight, that's one of the more stupid things that I've done of late."
"Acceptance is the first step towards recovery."
"Recovery from what?"
"Are you going to turn this into a feminist argument and use it against me for the rest of our life?"
Luckily, at that moment, Rose chooses to start crying. Hermione smirks and raises her eyebrows at her husband. He sighs, defeated, and detangles himself from her embrace, heading towards the door.
"Wanna have another baby?"
Hermione looks over at his hopeful face, his stunning eyes alive with a future that she's been thinking about ever since she realized that it was possible. She tries to resist, tries not to love him so much that she would give him anything, which is how she is on a normal setting. But she's been thinking about this for a year now, and it's not something that he just brought up on a spur of the moment. Hermione had told herself that if he asked, she would be ready to give him what he wants.
"I have no idea how I let you talk me into this."
One look at his joyful face combined with the happiness etched into the expressions of her children makes her regret saying it. Of course she knows how they talked her into it. First, Hugo turned his pleading eyes on her. Then, Rose directed her eyes towards her mother, equally as desperate. Finally, Ron's eyes had landed on Hermione, giving her a desperate look. And that's when she had said yes.
This is their first outing, the five of them, and they've decided to go on a picnic. Ron lays down the checkered blanket on a patch of green grass that the children have spent the past five minutes carefully selecting, because somehow it is better than all of the other patches of grass. She's still setting food out on the blanket when the children lose interest and vanish off into park, making a break for the swings.
Ron, on the other hand, remains on the picnic blanket, lying on his back and playing with the fifth and newest member of their clan.
"Who's the cutest dog in the entire world? Who? Who?"
"Lassie," Hermione says drily.
Ron flips over onto his stomach, vigorously scratching at the back of Otter's ear. The dog keens, cocking his head to the side and bending in the other direction so that Ron has better access to his neck.
"Aww. No. It's Otter. Isn't that right, boy?"
"He can't talk. He's a dog."
"Awww. You're no fun."
"That's true. Why did you marry me again?"
"I'm pretty sure it was my body."
"Yeah, that must be it."
They laugh. Hermione lies down on the blanket next to Ron and heaves and gigantic sigh.
"Okay. So we have a dog now."
"It can't have been a bigger decision than our choice to have two kids."
"Obviously you've never had a dog before."
Otter barks and trots over to her, nudging Hermione's face with his wet nose. She meets his little black eyes and tries not to fall in love with him.
"I'm sorry," Ron offers. "I know that you didn't really want to get a dog. I know that I pressured you into it."
"No," Hermione says, bringing up a hesitant hand to scratch her puppy on the head. "No. It's fine."
"So you still love me?" Ron teases.
"Maybe less than I used to, but yes."
"Oh, stop it. You can't fool me. You know that I know that you think I'm beautiful."
"Hmmm," Hermione muses, knitting her eyebrows together. "Unfairly sexy might be a better way of putting it. On account of your irresistible good looks and all that."
Ron wiggles closer to her on the blanket, kissing her on the temple.
"You're kissing up. What do you want?"
"The light bulb in Rose's bathroom needs changing."
"There it is."
He nudges her with his elbow.
"I still love you despite the fact that you use me for my light bulb changing abilities."
"And I still love you in spite of the fact that you guilted me into getting a dog that I know for a fact I'm going to fall in love with in about two weeks."
"You do love me, do you?" he says, growing serious. "After all these years."
The hand that lifts to stroke his cheek gets kissed by his lips before she speaks again.
"I couldn't stop if I tried."
A/N: So I just finished the first fanfic that I've written since August… and it feels awesome. After taking an enormously long break from fanfiction to write my original novel, I knew that I had to jump back into the game with something worth people's time, so this was my first endeavor to sink back into the characters of Ron and Hermione. I'm so thrilled to be able to spend more time with them and am so happy that I now have more time to be a fanfic author. With this fic, I really wanted to write something that started off heavy and got fluffier as time went on. Also, there's a lot of purposeful parallels with Ron and Hermione's moments because I kind of dig parallels right now. Anyways, hopefully this will be the first of a long streak of fanfics.
I hope you'll let me know how you liked it (if you liked it?) and try not to guilt me for going so long between fics. Cheers! ~writergirl8
PS: I'll edit tomorrow. I'm just lazy and wanted to post.