He can't believe that he's known her since he was eleven years old and he didn't know this.

It boggles his mind, actually. It sweeps him up, tosses him around, and spits him out utterly confused. How can Hermione Granger, the girl that he has known since they were first years, be so different from who he thought that she was? Hermione Granger, Ron now realizes, is an absolute, utter idiot.

She ignores his stares throughout the rest of dinner, disregards them all through dessert, and pushes them to the side of her consciousness as they walk out of the entrance hall and up the stairs to the common room. Harry makes casual conversation about something that Ron assumes is completely mundane, and Hermione gives her opinion on the subject. It doesn't matter, anyways, what her opinion is- when someone is that much of an idiot, their thoughts don't really count, do they?

If he's going to bring it up, he has to be sneaky about it. He has to do it as though he hasn't been thinking about it for an hour, wondering exactly how he should approach the subject. Ron sits in an armchair there, silently stewing, for at least twenty minutes before he finally comes out with it.

"Did you mean what you said at dinner?"

Harry and Hermione stop short from whatever mundane conversation that they had been holding together and tilt their heads towards him almost simultaneously.

"What are you talking about?" inquires Harry.

"I'm not talking to you," Ron snaps at his friend, slightly flustered. Without looking at his ears, he can tell that the tips of them are pink, an attribute that he had the misfortune of inheriting from his dad. "I'm talking to Hermione. Hermione-"

"What are you embarrassed about?"

He stops short.

"What do you mean?"

"People can tell if you're angry or humiliated by the shade of red that your ears are," Hermione informs him, jabbing a finger in the direction of the offenders.

Spluttering, Ron attempts to come up with a good answer. Eventually, however, he decides to just give up and ask what he needs to ask. This is important.

"Did you mean what you said at dinner?"

Hermione gives him a look this is both amused and exasperated. Her hair slides off of her shoulder as she does so, giving him an opportunity to look at the pale skin exposed on her neck. Merlin, he fancies her.

"I said a lot of things at dinner, Ron. You're going to have to be slightly more specific."

"Er." Seriously, he doesn't want to do this. He really doesn't. Sure, it's going to bother him for the entire rest of his life, but it's bound to come up again eventually, and he can certainly wait a few more years. Still, he's already halfway down this wretched path. He might as well continue down it and let the thorns scrape him. At least he doesn't have to do it again after this. "At dinner. You said that you didn't believe in soul mates. I… I just wondered whether that's true."

"Oh." Hermione's face immediately turns pink, and she attempts cover this up by swooping down and digging through her schoolbag for a quill and piece of paper. "Well… yes."

"Why?" Ron asks. "You go to Hogwarts. You see magic every day." Harry releases a loud laugh. Ron looks over at him. "What?"

"Oh, you're serious."

Immediately, Harry's face locks in a blank expression. Ignoring this, Ron turns back to Hermione. Her eyes meet his and she shrugs one of her shoulders, not looking all that sorry.

"I just think that it's a ridiculous concept, is all. There can't be one person for every one person. Imagine that you're supposed to be going somewhere for coffee but then you change your mind and go to a different place at the last minute because you're in the mood for tea. It's a ridiculous thought that your soul mate could have been in that coffee shop and that you just missed them because you changed your mind."

"So how do you think people are supposed to know when they should be getting married? Just… lucky?"

Harry is looking at him like he's crazy. Ron wonders why. He feels that they are being the stupid ones in this instance. For once, Ron is right over the two of them. Even though they're idiots, it does feel sort of brilliant.

"No," Hermione is saying, shaking her head. "The success rate of relationships that lead into marriage depend on a wide variety of factors… timing, financial stability, emotional stability, mutual attraction, common interests, alignment of goals-"

"Soul mates," Ron finishes for her. "Doesn't a soul mate encompass all of that?"

"No," Hermione laughs, "a soul mate implies that there is only one person in the world with which a relationship would be successful for each individual person. The truth of the matter is that you could marry anybody, theoretically, and make it work."

"But a soul mate is more passionate than that. It's not just a life partner, it's… it's somebody that you have to be with, or else there's no point in being with anybody."

Is it Ron's imagination, or is Harry starting to look slightly uncomfortable?

"Passion is a lie that people tell themselves in order to make sense of what they're feeling for another person. In truth, passion probably has no place in raising children or having a lifelong relationship with somebody. The relationships without passion are the ones that allow people to keep their heads screwed on straight."

She doesn't look at him as she says this, her eyes settling on the finger that is picking at a stray thread at the bottom of her school skirt. If she had been looking at him, she would have seen the fury that is taking over his expression.

"You'd be bored in your marriage without passion!" protests Ron, his voice going up slightly.

"Why are you so upset about this, anyways?" Hermione asks. Beside her, Harry rolls his eyes.

"Because-!" Ron begins heatedly, but he stops himself just in time. "I just… you know… don't want to have to hear you complaining for years about your loveless, logical marriage until I have to buck up and just kill the bloke that you've married in order to get you to shut your goddamn mouth."

Hermione's mouth drops open, and her eyes widen with anger. Harry heaves a giant, frustrated sigh and slumps further into his armchair as she gathers her books in her arms and stomps up the stairs of the girls dormitory.

"Goodnight!" Ron calls out sarcastically. He turns to Harry and jerks his thumb towards the staircase. "I think it's Hermione's werewolf time, if you know what I mean."

Harry stares at him, looking as though he doesn't know whether he wants to strangle Ron or strangle himself for being friends with Ron.

"You're such a prat. It's amazing that you haven't been punched in the face yet."

"Thank merlin for that!" Ron whoops. A few first years scatter away, frightened by the sheer amount of noise that Ron's making. "Chess, Harry?"

(ooo)

"Did you know that Hermione doesn't believe in soul mates?"

Ginny turns her head to look at Ron, her finger still resting on the place that she's reading in her schoolbook.

"Ron. This is the library. We do not rant about our love interests here-"

"Hermione's not my love interest."

"- because it is a sacred place for learning."

Ron looks stricken.

"Yeah. Yeah, alright."

After a curt nod, Ginny returns to her book, mouthing the words as she reads through it.

"It's just… I can't believe that she doesn't believe that soul mates are real."

With a sigh, Ginny snaps her book closed.

"Okay, Ron. Why does this matter? Why are you so obsessed with this?"

She's teasing him, but that doesn't mean that it's not annoying. This is his fault, anyways. He chose to have this conversation with Ginny. He could have just kept it in, but instead he made the conscious choice to sit down next her and have this discussion. Perhaps it is because he feels that only Ginny will really understand.

"The idea of soul mates not being real is just… ridiculous to me."

"But why?" prods Ginny.

"Because of mum and dad."

Ginny sits back in her chair.

"Really?"

"I don't know, Gin. It just seems to me that they were made to be together. They got married young, and during a war, and they got pregnant right away, and all of the signs led to them not working out and having this stupid, hostile marriage in which us kids were resented. But instead they're… in love and all that shit. If that's not soul mates, I don't know what is."

The softening of Ginny's eyes is enough to prove to Ron that he has sold her on his way of thinking.

"You're right."

"I know I'm right."

"And if they hadn't met each other, they wouldn't have been nearly as happy, so it's like they were given each other in order to fulfill their duty of making their lives right with each other… like soul mates."

"See! You get it!"

"Well," Ginny says, reopening her book. "It's clear to me what you need to do."

"What's that?" Ron asks.

"You were excellent at convincing me. Now convince Hermione."

(ooo)

He thinks about it for days. Convince Hermione. Make her believe what he believes. It's kind of a tall order, isn't it? There's nobody as devout as Hermione Granger. She's faithful to ideas more than anything else. And she thrives on this aspect of herself- her loyalty to a concept can be a complete roadblock for anyone who tries to stand in her way. When Hermione sees something as a fact, she cleaves to it. If she sees soul mates as something ridiculous, there's no way Ron is going to be able to convince her otherwise.

But it's a challenge. He likes a challenge- he thinks that he played Quidditch with Fred and George as a kid just because he wanted to be able to challenge them one day. A challenge means that there's winning involved so, yeah, he likes them. And he likes her. There's a piece of him that believes that if he can get her to agree that soul mates are real, he can get her to fall in love with him. Because what if they're supposed to be soul mates? He's not sure if he's going to fancy her forever, but he knows that he fancies her now, and he never would have gotten to fancy her in the first place if she hadn't come to Hogwarts. If she hadn't been sorted into Gryffindor. If he hadn't taken an immediate disliking to her that had inevitably led to her crying in the bathroom while a troll was set loose at Hogwarts.

If that's not destiny, he doesn't know what is.

After all of the passionate arguments that they have and the time that they spend fighting, only to become the best of friends again, Ron can't fathom how Hermione would want a normal, boring relationship. There's nothing sexy about logic. Everything is sexy when it comes to having arguments with her- their bodies getting close, their faces getting read, their breaths starting to come faster as they yell at each other. And the way her eyes trace his face; trace his body. Why would anybody who experiences a feeling like that believe that love is logical? Love is not logical. Even their friendship- whether or not it is more than friendship- lacks logic.

The day that Ron decides to convince Hermione that soul mates are real is also the day that he tells her the story of his parents. She listens astutely, asks genius questions in all of the right places, and even has the decency to sigh at particularly romantic places in the story. Harry sits next to them in the common room and goes back and forth between listening to the story and working on an essay for Snape.

"So," Ron asks upon finishing his story, grinning like the cat that got the canary. "Now do you believe in soul mates?"

Hermione frowns.

"Um, no."

"What?" Ron yelps.

"It's a lovely story, it really is, but I still don't believe that soul mates exist."

"You're barmy!" Ron manages to growl out. "I mean, do you really think that-"

Beside them, Harry looks like he's about to tear his hair out.

(ooo)

Dear Hermione,

Mum and dad said to write to you and see if you want to come stay with us for a few weeks this summer. I'm sure that you're studying quite a lot, but Harry's going to be at the Burrow and I figured that you would want to be here when he gets here to show some moral support. After all, you'd be a really shoddy friend were he to arrive at my humble abode all broken up about the fact that he-who-must-not-be-named is trying to kill him and had to find out that you selfishly didn't care enough about his life to unload a bunch of useless facts upon him that he will never use again. See you on Tuesday?

-Ron

PS: The question that we'll be asking at your door is 'do you believe in soul mates.' If you'd like to come with us, this should be followed with a quick and easy 'Ron is right, I am wrong.'

(ooo)

The look that Fleur is giving to Bill is so familiar to Ron that he finds himself staring at it in a sort of relentless way. There's so much commotion that nobody really notices, anyways, and he doesn't care because all he can do is scrutinize that face and attempt to figure out where he knows it from.

He likes what it says to him, though. He likes that she looks at Bill like that, because Ron can tell, even though he's only seventeen years old, that she really loves him. And for the first time, Fleur isn't just a pretty face under a gorgeous sheet of silvery hair. She's a genuine person, with a childhood and a past and probably tons of heartbreak and maybe test anxiety because even though she's beautiful, maybe there's a part of her that feels like she'll never be good enough. And it's the opposite of Hermione, who knows that she is smarter than everybody else but thinks that she will never be good enough because she's got this crazy notion that she isn't pretty.

It's kind of stupid, actually. He never would have known if Ginny hadn't told him, but as they get older and he becomes more conscious of what is going on around him, he notices the small, self-deprecating comments. It's probably not something that she's aware of, but Ron sees it. The way her eyes cast down when he mentions that somebody is pretty. The way she never seems to glance at herself in a mirror, and sometimes she tries to flatten her hair as though she's attempting to make herself smaller. He wouldn't have noticed this in fourth year or even for most of fifth, but then Lavender happened and Ginny took pity on him and now all he sees is the way Hermione has these tiny, almost indiscernible moments when everything is quiet and she has a spare moment to gaze at herself wrongly.

The expression is never on her face during class, or when she's brewing a potion, or when she's having conversations with Ron and Harry, or when she's feverishly writing an essay. It's mostly there when she's by herself in the library, eyes unfocused until he approaches her and says her name. It's when she's staring at the fire without really seeing it, her usually lively expression sliding into nothingness. And there are these moments, when they're sitting at dinner and there's a lull in conversation, and they can hear girls giggling about guys holding doors open for them or kissing them behind a tapestry shortcut, and an expression of crosses her face that provides insight until the burn of unfairness that is etched into her.

Ron thinks that if it would stop her from looking like that, he would inform her of the fact that he gets off thinking about her every single time that he wanks. He wonders if he could make that romantic… all these years he's been thinking about walking up to her, roughly putting his hands on her shoulders, and saying, "Hermione Granger, I'm in love with you." But perhaps it would be more beneficial to the both of them if he took her by the hand, looked deeply into her eyes, and said, "Hermione Granger, I've been jerking off to thoughts of you since I was fourteen years old."

What girl could resist that?

Fleur looks at Bill and he sees that he's good enough. Bill looks at Fleur and shows her that she's good enough. Even though she's full of confidence, she needs that reaffirmation. Bill gives that to her. Ron wants to give that to Hermione.

She's in the corner of the room, staring down at her neatly tied shoes. In spite of the fact that they've been fighting battling death eaters all day (the Battle of Hogwarts, they're going to call it, but Ron is going to refuse and instead call it the Battle of Malfoy's Blatant Cowardice and Stupidity. Much catchier), she looks put together. Unfrazzled. Her skin is cut up and her clothes are singed and somehow her hair is bushier than ever, but all she's doing is looking calmly at her shoes.

Bill has been scratched into submission by a werewolf and Tonks is in love with Lupin and Dumbledore is dead and all she can do is stare at her shoes. While Harry is sitting in the thick of the action, feeling everything too much, Ron knows that Hermione is doing the opposite in not letting herself feel at all. He knows what it's like when she falls apart. He knows how disastrous it will be when she eventually does. As he folds her warm hand into his larger, clammier one, she looks up at him. Instantly, Ron's eyes skate down to the cut on her chin. He wishes that he could be allowed to swipe off the blood that is resting there.

"See the way she's looking at him?" Ron inquires. "Soul mates."

"There's no such thing," responds Hermione, her shaky voice shooting straight to his heart.

"You're wrong," Ron says confidently.

He knows because, suddenly, he recognizes the look. He gives it to Hermione all of the time. She shoots these types of glances towards Ron. Bill and Fleur are about to get married and they share the same types of looks that Ron sometimes gives to Hermione. Sometimes he even gets them in return. All at once, the smile that he gives Hermione feels like a prelude to something bigger.

Ron wants to be a part of it, whatever the prelude leads into.

(ooo)

Harry breaks up with Ginny. Ginny gets her heart broken. Ron's heart breaks for her.

"Now," Hermione says quietly. "Now do you believe in soul mates?"

Ron looks over at her tearstained cheeks and her wrenched expression. She's lost. She's been in his arms all morning, and he's been trying to shield her from the world, but in the end, it doesn't make a difference, does it? He can't save her from anything.

"Yes," Ron says fervently, meeting her eyes petulantly. She lifts her chin at the expression on his face, constantly defending herself. "Always."

(ooo)

Progress is made. Slowly but surely, and each inch feels like a mile because of how slow they move. He asks her more constantly, and the desire to get her to see love the way that he sees it becomes ever more important as his adoration for her grows.

He could say that he fancies her, but in reality, he loves her so much that it makes his heart ache.

Fred and George give him a book. Ron reads it before bed, finger firmly implanted on the curvy figures of the letters as he tries to soak up the information offered to him. For the first time, he understands Hermione's love for reading. It's not the actual process of reading itself- not the words or the heaviness of the book in his hands. It's the door that this book opens up for him; the way that he can read it and dream up a thousand possible lives and scenarios and ways to say I love you until she feels the words resonating through her bones. The book causes him to compliment her, which he never really knew how to do, and he comforts her as well, both which often cause her to blush.

When she cries, he wraps his arms around her. She destroys her parents' memories and sometimes Harry says something callous and sometimes Ron says something stupid and wrong, but he is there. He always tries to be there, even when he's gone. There's this look on her face that she gets when Ron leaves her, and he never wants to see it again. When he comes back, he promises to her a thousand times that he's not going to do it again Unsurprisingly, she doesn't listen. She doesn't want to hear that he loves her, so he doesn't let the words fall from his lips even though he wants to say them a thousand times. Shockingly enough, she also doesn't want to hear about soul mates.

"Why?" he asks one day. "Why are you so adamant against the idea?"

"Why do you keep asking?" she counters fiercely. A part of him hates that she can meet his eyes. "It doesn't matter."

"Hermione," he says flatly. Because she's not stupid. She knows. "Come on."

"You left," she whispers.

"Do you believe in soul mates?"

"People that love you don't leave you. It's a widely stated fact."

"I believe in soul mates."

He doesn't ask her again after that. Not until she's tortured and he realizes that he could be running out of time.

(ooo)

They lie on a crimson colored duvet and soak each other in. He's so caught up in the way that their hands entwine together that he forgets to kiss her. Luckily, Hermione remembers for him. It's strange to him that a simple moment could overload his senses, but her hair is tickling his cheek on the pillow and her breathing is soft as her breasts press against his arm and he thinks, not briefly, that he could spend the rest of his life lying on a bed with Hermione Granger without needing to know whether she believes in soul mates.

He knows that she does, even if she doesn't know that she does.

The world is a cold and cruel and evil place, but the fact that Hermione allows herself to love him simply serves to show him that she trusts the warmth more than she lingers upon the coldness of life. Her lips are warm and unpracticed when they move over his, but for the first time, she's okay with not being perfect at something. Ron is actually quite proud of her for it. He's got more experience than she does, and rather than shying away from it, Hermione lets herself sink into kissing him. It's a peak into the life that they could share together, should he manage to keep himself together.

She wants to make him happy.

Eventually, their kisses move into his glowingly orange bedroom. He leans on her and she leans on him, physically and emotionally. It feels impossible that he could need someone as much as he needs Hermione, but when she's not there for him, it honestly feels like he's about to fall apart. Maybe it's not a good thing that Hermione is the only thing that is keeping him together, but his brother is dead and Hogwarts is in pieces and it feels like the list of those who are no longer with them is endless and the world has to be put together after it's fallen completely apart and she is his glue.

They're at the kitchen table, watching his parents interact at the kitchen sink, washing dishes like the seamless team that they are and Ginny, with her hand on Harry's thigh, is having a conversation with Fleur, lazy and content. The way that Fleur's hand curls into Bill's feels so normal that it's strange. Ron almost wants to spit it all out; vomit into their heads that Fred is gone and they can't be acting normal like this because normal will never be okay again.

Instead, he looks over at Hermione, whose head is resting on his hand as she lets herself descend into a much needed sleep. They don't sleep much lately. They pretend that it's because of sex when the truth is that they wouldn't have been sleeping anyways, and sex is a good excuse to make to avoid the bad dreams.

"How about this?" Ron murmurs into the twilight of the room. "Does this make you believe in soul mates?"

Hermione shakes her head back and forth like a child, crushing his fingers into the wood of the table in the process. He brings his eyes down to meet hers, and she across at him, scrunching her nose.

"Logic," she reminds him. "Logic and timing and just a pinch of luck. Not enough luck for soul mates to be real."

She rises up to kiss him lightly on the lips, then rests her chin on his hand. The bone crushes his fingers, making him yelp out in pain. Hermione immediately apologizes, suddenly more awake.

"It's a physical representation of how love hurts," Ron teases as she kisses his knuckles.

"How would you know?" Hermione jests. "You, my friend, have had it easy."

(ooo)

Ron licks his lips before lifting his head up to look at Hermione. He can't help the devilish smirk that rests on his face as he takes in her appearance: flushed chest, flaming cheeks, and a heart beating so fast that he thinks he can hear it from where he is. Best of all, her hair is a knotted mess, having been thrashed back and forth on the pillow.

He rests his head on her thigh and says,

"How about now?"

"Can I catch my breath first?" she giggles breathlessly.

"No, I'm not asking about that," laughs Ron, propping himself up on his elbow. "I mean, now do you believe in soul mates?"

"You think that getting me to change my opinion on soul mates would be that easy?"

"Oi!" Ron protests indignantly. "That was the best orgasm of your life! There was nothing easy about it! It was natural skill."

"What makes you assume that it was the best orgasm of my life?"

"Well, aside from the ragged breathing, I would say that the fact that you gasped out 'that was the best orgasm of my life' right after you had said orgasm would tend to expose the truth. So. Soul mates?"

"I believe…" Hermione starts, pushing herself up on the bed and leaning forward to give him a kiss. She thinks better of it and shies away at the last second, instead placing her lips on his jaw and making a steady path up to his ear. "I believe that if soul mates were real, you would be mine."

His eyes slip shut as her lips go from his ear to his neck, getting closer to his chest.

"How romantic. You should put that on a greeting card."

"Shut it, you. Take what you can get!"

"Oh," he chuckles, "I intend to."

(ooo)

He's gotten so used to relying on sex to keep his bad dreams away that he finds that having no excuse to stay awake at night is terrifying. Ron usually ends up staying up late and writing long letters to her, something that he never thought that he would do in his entire life, but it's easier than crawling under the covers without her soft curves pressed up next to him. Without her, everything feels empty.

There were times when the two of them were on holiday from Hogwarts and he would write countless letters to her that he never ended up sending. Sometimes he would compose them in his head, allowing himself fanciful words that he would never have the guts to write down. Sometimes he'd stare out the window of his sticky, sweaty bedroom and think about what she would say if she heard him complaining endlessly about the sweat dripping down his back. His quill would be poised, waiting to write, as he accidentally delved into elaborate fantasies about Hermione and what she would do to him were she in his bedroom. He would sometimes scratch a few words into paper, devoutly ready to tell her how he felt, until he lost momentum and ended up crumpling up the pages and putting them in a 'to burn' pile.

Now that he's actually had sex with her and told her that he loves her and confessed to her that he has wanted her for years upon years, he can't help but think of what a waste it is that he burned all of these letters. He could have shown them to her as proof, or had a laugh with her about their stupidity, or even used them as inspiration for the letters that he writes her now. By no means are they poetry, but he wonders if she can read the meaning of his words between the lines, just as he always wondered when he was a fifteen year old boy. For the first time, the concept doesn't scare him.

Auror training helps him fall asleep at night. While Hermione and Ginny wade their way through endless piles of seventh year homework, Harry and Ron learn defense on a whole new level. They come to fully comprehend what it is to work as a team, one where everybody has a common goal and a common reason for being there. When it was Harry, Ron, and Hermione, each served an individual purpose to the team. With Auror training, they're all there to be the brawn and fight the bad guys. Nobody is supposed to be logical or tell jokes to keep spirits up. They are there for the sole purpose of body count.

Ron's going to protect the wizarding world. He's also going to protect Hermione, and anything that the two of them might create in the future. He doesn't tell her that this is why he's doing it, though. Doesn't want to scare her off by coming on too strong.

In spite of this, he never forgets to send Hermione's letters to her. No matter what the content, the end is always the same thing: short, honest, and to the point.

More than ever, her answer is truly starting to matter.

I miss you. Do you believe in soul mates yet? I don't think people that aren't soul mates feel so shitty without each other.

Her reply, full of love and eloquence, doesn't ever assuage the hunger that he feels without her.

I miss you as well. Still- the hollow cavern of black, shadowy emptiness doesn't necessarily have to be a product of soul mates, Ron. It's simple really. We're in love.

Ron resents the implication that love is simple. It's not bloody simple.

(ooo)

He aches for her until the first Hogsmeade visit in October, when she rushes towards him, feet crunching the orange and red leaves that skitter around the dewy grass.

He aches for her until the Christmas vacation in December, when he goes to pick her up at the train station and she leaps into his arms, propriety be damned because she's missed him so much and he is hers and she is his.

He aches for her until the Valentine's Day Hogsmeade visit, when he gets her chocolates and she mischievously pulls out a room key to the Leaky Cauldron. And yes, her present probably wins this round.

He aches for her until Easter vacation when it's his turn to get her a key, and as she focuses on the silver keychain that is dangling from his fingertip, the brown shade of her eyes curious and bright, he raises an eyebrow and gives her a cocky grin.

"Hermione Granger."

"Ron Weasley."

She's kind of smirking when she says it, like she knows what's coming and can't wait to smile until the words are off of his lips.

"Do you believe in soul mates?"

(ooo)

Her clothes are in the closet and her toothbrush is on the bathroom sink.

His clothes are in the closet and his toothbrush is on the bathroom sink.

Hermione even lets him hang his Chudley Canons poster up on the back of the bathroom door, which he thinks is pretty cool. Most of his other Quidditch stuff gets stuffed in the drawers that flank Ron's side of the bed. Over the years, he will come to realize that this is an excellent place to store Christmas and birthday presents, as Hermione never bothers to go into them for anything, on account of her profound lack of interest in sports.

They both like having their own place, in any case. A place where they can wake up next to each other in the morning and have really loud sex at night without having to worry about people hearing them. A place where they can walk around in various states of undress without having to worry about annoying other people because, let's face it, neither of them mind when the other is underdressed. A place in which Ron tends to Hermione when she is sick and Hermione gets Ron out of bed every morning by dropping her towel in front of him to inspire him to throw back the covers.

"Boobs," he laments through a mouthful a toast one morning. "Boobs are the best alarm clocks."

"That's breasts to you, dear," Hermione reminds him as she passes him a napkin, making sure to keep crumbs away from her neat work clothes.

"Or," he suggests, "We could call them Tic and Tac."

"Where's toe?"

He wiggles his eyebrows.

"I think you know."

"I really, really don't."

"Okay. How about Thing One and Thing Two?"

"Now that's just offensive."

"What about Completely and Brilliant?"

"I think Completely would get jealous of Brilliant and, ugh, it would be this whole thing…"

"Quaffle and Bludger?"

"Like hell are you naming my breasts after a ball, the sole purpose of which is to hit people in the head and cause injury."

"Sid and Nancy."

"My mum's name is Nancy. Would you like me to think of my mum every time you grope me?"

Ron pauses, thinking for a second. Then he shrugs.

"I'll revise and get back to you."

The best part, though, is probably the quiet moments. She comes home from work and they make dinner together and eat while chattering, and then they clean up, still chattering, and then Hermione changes into her pajamas and goes over to the couch with her book, and Ron will put his head in her lap and they'll just sit there quietly, enjoying their ability to relish time. He never knew what it was like to relish time until the war ended. Now, he can't get enough of it.

Ron thinks that there's some sort of soothing silence in soul mates. He can't fathom lying on the couch and just shutting up with anybody but Hermione. Usually, he's sleepy when he brings it up. The turn of her pages lulls him into a sleepy state, and he manages to slur out,

"'Ermione, I think we're soul mates. Like mum and dad. And Harry's parents. And other people who are also soul mates."

"Your eloquence has convinced me, Sir Knight." Hermione kisses him on the top of his head. "Please continue with these flowery word poems that you are so adept at making."

Luckily, he's mostly too tired to register her sarcasm.

(ooo)

It's a very pleasant day. The sky is a pretty turquoise color, the trees are a lush green, and the wind that softly rustles through their leaves makes the veil that Hermione is wearing flutter attractively, trailing in her wake. Behind her, the Burrow seems unusually stately. Maybe it's the white tent that graces its property, or maybe it's just the splendid day. Whatever it is, Ron is deeply grateful for whatever soul intervened in order to make his wedding so exquisite.

Especially because the most enchanting thing here is his bride, and he's glad that she's upstaging everything else. He doesn't want to look at anything else ever again. Except for Quidditch. Oh, and their children. And butterbeer! As he looks into her eyes, he suddenly madly craves butterbeer. Hermione sees the look on his face and narrows her eyes questioningly, but Ron merely shrugs his shoulders and grins sheepishly. The game that they're playing right now is for other people, anyways. In his mind, he's already as married to her as he could possibly be, and they haven't even done their vows yet.

She's going to go first. Ron is much more prone to getting caught up in passionate speeches about love than Hermione is; there's a piece of her that will always hold back from publicly declaring her love. Love, after all, is a private, peaceful sort of thing. It isn't something to be flouted around- if that's what you're doing with it, you're using it wrong. He knows that her anxiety about vows has nothing to do with him and everything to do with her upbringing. But he also knows that she enjoys the reticent sort of relationship that they adopt when they're around other people. Sure, they're not snogging every moment, but at least there's always a part of Hermione that is touching Ron or vice versa. It's in public that the tiny things happen, like entwining their fingers or Ron placing his hand on Hermione's thigh or Hermione absentmindedly putting her feet on top of Ron's feet.

She's written her words to him on several little notecards, and she lets go of his hands in order to read them properly. This causes him to scowl. Hermione rolls her eyes at him, jesting even in what is supposedly the most significant moment in their lives together.

"Ron," she starts, slightly unsteadily. He wonders if the shake of the notecards is from her hands or from the wind. "The world is a big, scary place. You and I know better than anyone that it is full of peril and madness and evil beyond comprehension. But with you by my side, I have always been able to fight that. Everything that I have gotten through, I have gotten through with you. That means something. That matters. There are so many things in my life that would have gone differently- wrongly, one might even say- had you not been there. Had I not met you- discovered you. Experienced you- I would not be alive. It's as simple and easy as that. You came into my life to save me, partly from the world and partly from myself. You did so. You saved me over and over and over again. And I save you over and over and over and over and over again. So. In conclusion. You, Ron Weasley… you are my soul mate."

He thinks that he's going to cry as his entire life catches up to him. It skids to a stop, slamming him in the back, towards Hermione. There's love colored with disbelief, and he knows that it shows in his expression because she bites her lip and tilts her head as though asking him if it was alright. He doesn't know how to respond.

Ron reaches into his dress robes and tugs out a dog-eared piece of paper. It looks like it's used and worn, but in reality it is only a month old. It's been reread and rewritten and unfolded and refolded so many times; for the past month, this piece of paper has been Ron's anchor. His eyes scan the page, and he silently reads over what he has written, lips moving along with the words. In the grass, the audience waits with bated breath. Hermione, on the other hand, is calm. Patient.

Looking up and grinning, Ron folds the paper in four and tucks it back into his dress robes. Perhaps he'll read it to her at another time, littering the words across pale expanses of skin exposed to him as he inches her white dress off of her and lays her down on the bed. Or perhaps he'll save it for a fight that they have- their first one as a married couple, maybe. It's possible that he could use it for an anniversary or a birthday, or read it to her when she's having a bad day and needs to know how much he loves her. Whenever it is that the words get read, today is not that day. Today, more important things need to be spoken.

He raises his eyes to meet hers. He clasps both of her small hands in his large one, clutching them against each other. He clears his throat importantly, and he smiles before he opens his mouth to speak. The enormous grin that he gives her makes realization dawn on Hermione's face just a second before the words leave Ron's mouth.

"I win."

A/N: Hello friends! Thank you for all of the lovely reviews that you left on Irrevocably Yours. It was so nice to return to this circle of support. Having your words makes me feel warm inside. I squee a lot when reading reviews. Anyways, it is my hope that you enjoyed this and didn't find any of the typos before I did. If you would like to hug me or throw things at me, you can find me at rongasm on tumblr. ~writergirl8