It was only two days since their wedding and they had already had three major quarrels and many more minor ones. They still slept together. She wondered for how long. Harry-Hermione-Ron

Ups and Downs

"I'm sorry."

"You don't sound sorry to me. Have you even thought of your actions, of why I felt hurt and offended, or do you say it just to placate me and go on, never giving another thought to what you're saying?"

"Eh..."

She really wished Harry was there. He had always had a way to defuse their arguments without them going out of control. Yet Harry wasn't there with them, as they were on their honeymoon. It was only two days since their wedding and they had already had three major quarrels and many more minor ones. Still, maybe it was for the best. They had managed to come to some resolutions by themselves, as they should, and they still slept together. She wondered for how long.

Had she made a grave mistake by agreeing to wed Ron? She wished she knew. Ron could be the most loving and caring person at times, yet the most insensitive and ignorant person at others. She really loved the first one, but she abhorred the other. Still, Ron was much easier to understand, even if not to agree with. He had his priorities clear in his mind, even if he would never be able to express them in words: Food, Love, Sex, Quidditch, Chess, everything else. As frustrating as this could be, it was much simpler than trying to understand Harry.

It was an hour later when Ron came and sheepishly told her, "I've spent some time thinking of what you said to me. I understand now where I went wrong and I'm really sorry for that. You know I never want to hurt you, but my mind, unlike yours, is much slower than my mouth. I'm going to try harder, but I can't be sure how well I'll do. I trust you to put me in line whenever I err."

She couldn't refrain from smiling. "You can bet on it," she said, and then melted into his kiss.

To be honest, Ron really tried. The frequency of their quarrels went down, yet their intensity went up. Ron spent the last night of his honeymoon on the couch, still trying to comprehend what triggered her wrath. For the life of him, he couldn't understand it at all!

Hermione grudgingly accepted his apology in the morning. It wouldn't do to return to the Burrow in that state, yet her doubts were only growing. She wasn't sure if there was even a possibility of divorce in magical marriages, and she admonished herself for neglecting to do her usual thorough investigation of the subject before committing, yet separation could still be an option. She also considered annulment, yet they had already consummated the marriage (and she had enjoyed each and every time they did it), so this didn't seem a very probable direction.

Harry was waiting for them at the Burrow. He immediately noticed the tension between Ron and Hermione and frowned deeply. He had warned them of rushing into wedlock, but neither Ron nor Hermione would listen. Seeing them, he was glad that he managed to resist the pressure to wed Ginny at the same time.

Hermione was glad that she had insisted on finishing her education, and just as glad of learning the contraceptive charm much earlier, although she was now taking the contraceptive potion, just to be on the safe side. She hoped that spending ten more months at school would allow Ron to mature some more, hopefully turning him into the man she wanted him to be, although she didn't really believe it would help much. At least she would have Harry, to weep on his shoulder whenever her frustration with Ron would become intolerable. He would understand. He would help her rekindle the love for Ron.

She felt quite embarrassed with herself for thinking that way. She should be enjoying her husband, less than two weeks after their wedding, not thinking of getting comfort from another man. And yet that other man, her best friend, was slowly filling more and more of her thoughts. Why had he declined to marry Ginny? Didn't he love her? Did he love somebody else? Ginny felt extremely hurt and confused, and none of Harry's explanations seemed to reach her, yet Hermione found them very logical. What were they? Well...

"I've not yet recovered from the battle and all that preceded it. My thoughts and my feelings are in a jumble. That is not the right state of mind to decide on anything that is long-term. I like your company, Ginny, and I may even love you, yet I don't really know. I'm not sure of what I feel and how I feel. We both need to take some time and just live, before making any commitments."

It was so logical! Why hadn't she thought that way?! She had committed herself to Ron and each day she doubted her initial decision even more.

Luckily, the Burrow was such a busy place, that she didn't have to confront Ron too much. George, with Alicia's help, finally decided to reopen the WWW store and enlisted both Ron's and Ginny's help. When Hermione offered her help as well, he refused. "I don't want to give you and Ron additional causes for quarrels. It's best when you only see each other for just a short while before going to bed. It seems that there you do quite well together."

She didn't like to stay at the Burrow, with only Molly for company, so she spent most of the days at Grimmauld place, with Harry. The library there was quite extensive, even with all the darker books removed, and then – she could talk with Harry for hours and never get bored or frustrated. He seemed to always understand her, or he would ask for additional explanations if not.

She also liked Kreacher's cooking much better than Molly's. Occasionally, Harry would also cook, if he managed to distract Kreacher for long enough to be able to do it.

She tried not to think of her parents, though. It was still a very painful subject for her.

Soon after the funerals, Hermione made arrangements to go to Australia and find her parents. She declined all offers to go with her. "I alone sent them there and I alone should try to bring them back." She left no room for argument.

Two weeks later, she returned broken and alone. Only Harry waited for her at the airport, as she had insisted on her only international phone call.

"What happened?" he asked her worriedly, leading her to a bench. "Didn't you find them?"

She smiled tearfully. "I found them, alright, and they are both well. It's just..."

She took a deep breath before she spoke some more. "When I sent them, I was quite sure I would die in the war. I didn't make provisions for restoring their memories. When I found them, they looked perfectly happy. They made new friends and opened an organic vegetable shop, which they like a lot. They remember slaving as dentists, not having a day off, needing to be constantly available for their patients. They don't want to go back to that life. I used some legilimency on them. They remember nothing about me. They only remember they had a few aborted pregnancies. Mom is now heavily pregnant, which is a real surprise, and expected to give birth shortly. I couldn't just come and tell them they do not belong there, where they're clearly happier than ever. I managed to befriend them, despite the age difference. Mom found it an interesting coincidence that I look so much like her, but paid it no further thought."

"So, you've actually lost them for me..."

"No, Harry! They would have certainly died, had they stayed much longer at home. You've seen the damage inflicted there by Death Eaters. I thought they deserved to live, even if their daughter had chosen a dangerous path. I didn't do it for you; I did this for them! I only wish I could become their beloved daughter again..."

Harry held her tight while she sobbed her frustration until she fell asleep on his shoulder. She was still leaning on his wet shirt when he awakened her, half an hour later.

At least the nights with Ron were fabulous. He was slowly learning how to give her more pleasure, just as she was learning how to make him happier, as long as they stayed in bed. George made sure not to let them have much more interaction than that.

Still, even the train ride to Hogwarts proved long enough for them to quarrel twice. Luckily, Harry was present and he was able to defuse the situation before they attracted too much attention. They were still heard in some of the nearest compartments.

As expected, the young Weasley couple was allotted a separate apartment. Ron tried his best during the reception feast, and Hermione was willing to let him sleep in bed, enjoying their togetherness, as always. It lasted almost until they reached the Great Hall for breakfast, the next morning, when Ron had to say something stupid, igniting Hermione. Even Harry, who was waiting for them at the table, found it difficult to defuse that quarrel.

It went downhill as the term continued. Ron found himself sleeping on the sofa more often than not. Hermione was still wise enough not to let him forget the pleasures of matrimony, just to give him enough incentive to behave.

That didn't help for long, though. About six weeks into term, Hermione found a hairpin in her bed, of a kind she had never used. She suspected it belonged to that sixth year Hufflepuff girl who was always looking at Ron admiringly. A glance in the direction of the Hufflepuff table during dinner confirmed her suspicion. This time, she didn't confront Ron immediately. Instead, she took Harry to a hidden corridor and told him everything.

"What am I supposed to do now?" she asked. "Our marriage is certainly not working. It was all a mistake to start with. I was just so distraught after Australia that his offer of 'instant family' seemed too good to refuse. I should have acted like you did."

Harry smiled sadly at her. "You can't change the past, remember? You may only act to make a better future."

"But what should I do?"

He took her hand in his, trying to comfort her. "I once knew a bossy bookworm who had a good method to deal with problems. She would go to the library and study all their aspects and then form her own opinion. Why don't you do that now?"

"Will you help me?"

His smile brightened. "Always!"

They found out that divorces were rare in the magical community, but mainly due to prejudice. They were just as legal as in the muggle society.

It was easier to confront Ron after that. She kind of gave him up already. "Is she worth destroying our marriage?" she asked him.

"You're the one who's destroying it. You've let me sleep on the sofa for the last five nights! Isn't marriage all about sleeping together?"

"No, Ron. It's about living together, sharing, loving, and not mainly sex, despite it being an important aspect as well. We must be able to confide in each other. Bringing that girl here, having sex with her on my bed – that's one of the most serious breaches of confidence, Ron. I'm no longer sure we can stay together."

"But I want to be with you! I've only accepted her because you didn't want me for too long."

She shook her head, amazed that she was still surprised. "What would you have done if I'd been ill? You'd also find somebody else to shag? What if I had to study seriously for important exams, becoming too exhausted to have sex for a few weeks? Would you go to a whore? That's not how it works."

"But..." Ron was running out of arguments.

"Would you like your wife to go to bed with other men whenever you're too preoccupied with Quidditch to care for her? Or maybe when you're sick?"

"No! Of course not!"

"Then why do you find it acceptable to bring that slut into my bed?"

"I..." He just didn't know what to say. She was clearly right, and she didn't even raise her voice, which meant that she had already decided. He just lowered his head in shame.

"I'll let you in our bed tonight. I still love shagging you, but tomorrow morning I'm going back to the girls' dorm."

And that was it.

That weekend, Harry accompanied her to the ministry, where she filed for a divorce.

Less than three months after her wedding, Hermione returned to her previous name, becoming Hermione Granger again. Molly sent her a letter, regretting the divorce very much, yet understanding why it had become necessary. "It was becoming very evident that Ron and you couldn't make a happy couple, although I hoped you could succeed in making him a proper man, where I have evidently failed. I still expect you to visit and stay a bit with us whenever you can. Once we accepted you as an Honorary Weasley, as we did with Harry, you're a part of the family."

Yet her visit at the ministry had brought her some unexpected knowledge as well. She contemplated the meaning of that knowledge, gained from some of the records in the Marriages and Bonds Bureau, for several more weeks.

That cold evening, they were sitting in front of the fireplace, on the same couch they made their own since first year. She was leaning on Harry's shoulder, her mind roaming somewhere else, while Harry was looking at the fire as if trying to understand something. Eventually he noticed that she wasn't fully there. "What is it, Hermione? You know you can tell me everything."

It took her mind a moment to re-engage before she smiled at him. "I know I can trust you with everything. You've never let me down." She frowned for a moment, noticing Ron making out with a younger girl at the other side of the common room. She turned her eyes back to Harry and smiled reassuringly. "I didn't want you to come with me to the records bureau, as I thought it would take me several hours and I didn't want you to waste your time there."

"Helping a friend is no waste of time," he noted.

"Anyhow, I found what I was looking for much faster than I expected, yet I also found something I didn't expect."

"And that is...?"

Her smile widened. "It looks like you and I share a bond."

He frowned. "What kind of bond? These can be tricky."

"Nothing dangerous, I believe. You see, that bond is based on mutual feelings. The clerk there was unable to give a proper explanation, so I had to look it out at the library. I found it in one of the dustiest shelves in a secluded corner. I made a copy of that page. Here it is."

She took a folded paper out of her robes, unfolded it and let Harry read it.

The Gordy Bond is a magical bond, connecting two souls in a way they can not be separated by any known spell or ritual. Although the details are not completely clear, it's known that the two people must be very close to each other for quite a few years for such a bond to be created by their shared friendship and/or love. When the bond connects people of different genders, it can become legally equivalent to the marriage bond, if they so desire, yet it does not prevent them from marrying other partners, while not yet married.

Harry lifted his eyes. "Is that the bond that we share?"

"Yes, it is. Do you think it's only based on friendship?"

Harry smiled. He could sense the younger, insecure girl in that question, but he no longer doubted his feelings.

"I don't think mere friendship would have been enough. I've been oblivious to my feelings for too long, but I finally understand what I feel. I love you, Hermione. I've probably been in love with you since first year, but I thought it was just deep friendship. Now I know better. I can finally understand why I couldn't accept Ginny, despite her love and devotion. She simply wasn't you."

Hermione felt her cheeks get wet, but she didn't care. "I kept thinking of you even during my honeymoon with Ron. It just felt wrong, being with him. It never felt wrong being with you."

He hugged her tighter. "Would you like to make our bond into marriage?"

Her smile turned teasing. "We only need to consummate it. That will make it into a magical marriage, one that can't be undone. If we do it, we won't be able to later regret it."

"And why should we?"

He turned his face away from her ear and called, "Kreacher!"

The old house elf appeared with a crack.

"Can you take us to the master bedroom at Grimmauld Place?"

Kreacher didn't answer. He just grabbed Harry's arm and Hermione's arm. A moment later he left them alone in the bedroom.

"I'm sorry I can no longer give you my virginity," she whispered.

"Neither can I," he whispered back, "but that doesn't matter. Shall we proceed with our wedding?"

Despite the similarities, it was very different than what she had experienced with Ron. Harry was tender and caring and he still knew his way around much better than Ron would ever learn. An hour later, when Kreacher brought Harry and Hermione Potter back to Hogwarts, both were looking forward to a long life of love and sharing, and their wide grins made quite a few of their house mates smile understandingly.

Headmistress McGonagall was quite content to give them their own apartment, far enough from the one Ron was still keeping. She was much happier to see Hermione with Harry than with Ron, whom she considered inappropriate for her preferred student.

Ron was not as understanding, but he didn't mind too much either. "She's a nightmare, really. Why you chose to be with her is beyond me," he said.

Harry would have been offended on his wife's behalf, if she hadn't laughed happily. "I hope for him that he will eventually find someone who'd make him understand."

She lay her head on Harry's shoulder, as she had done so many times before, and sighed contentedly. She thought she might soon stop taking that potion. Having children with the red menace was something she wasn't ready for, but bringing Harry the family he was longing for seemed like something she would really like. Two or three children would be nice. Maybe even more. She smiled as she imagined herself with a large belly and two small children at her side, with Harry hugging them all. She only wished she could tell her parents.