A/N: This idea wouldn't go away, so I had to get it out. I had originally intended for it to be VERY R, but it came out only slightly R.

Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me.


I sent Harry back to his apartment around nine o'clock the night before our wedding, stating that it was bad luck to see each other after midnight and that we both needed our sleep anyway.

While both of those excuses might have sounded logical, neither of them was the real reason I sent him away.

In all honesty, I would have welcomed a bit of bad luck- something, anything that might have prevented me from making what I knew would be the biggest mistake of my life. But, of course, bad luck is just a silly superstition, and I don't put much value into such things. I prefer cold, hard factual truths.

Like the fact that I was about to marry a man who I was not in love with.

That was about as cold and hard as the truth could get, and, yet, there it was. I loved Harry, of course; I'd loved him for years and years ever since I was a child. But loving someone and being in love with them are two completely different things. Being in love with Harry was something that I had never been, and I doubted that I would ever find myself in that position.

After all, how can you fall in love with someone when your heart already belongs to someone else?

Especially when that someone else happens to be the first someone's best friend?

It was almost ironic in a way. Laughable even, if you looked at in the right light. I spent all my years at school getting those two boys out of one mess after another.

And here I had created the biggest mess imaginable. And there was no one to get me out of it.

Was Harry in love with me?

Well, there's a debatable question. I knew perfectly well that he loved me and cared about me, but I was never actually sure if it was the type of love that made a heart flutter or a grown man cry. Eight years later, I'm still not sure if he's in love with me. He tells me all the time that he loves me, that he loves our children, that he loves our life. But I don't know if he's actually and truly happy.

I know that I'm not.

But I chose my Fate eight years ago on the day that I went through with our vows and married him. I said that day that I would be with him through everything, and I have been.

I never vowed to give him my heart, though.

After all, you can't give what's already been promised to someone else.

The night before my wedding, I said good-bye to all promise of true happiness; I said good-bye to all of my childhood dreams.

I said good-bye to all of it to live out a real life fairy tale.

I got the hero, the money, the title. Everything.

Except for him.

Take the "him" in either context that you wish.

If you want to take the "him" to mean Harry Potter, you might wonder what I mean when I say that I didn't get him. I got his name, yes. I got his fortune. I got his house. I even got his children. But I never got the most important part of him; I never got his heart. If he wanted to give it, I wasn't ready to take it. So, I guess I'll never really know if it was even possible to gain control of Famous Harry Potter's heart.

On the other hand, you could take the "him" to mean Ron Weasley. Yes, Harry's best friend in the entire world. Ron Weasley- the only one I've ever allowed a glimpse inside of me. He's the one person in the world that I should never have wanted, and, yet, he was everything I had ever dreamed of. He was in love with me, I was in love with him, but it wasn't meant to be. That's not how the story goes; the sidekick doesn't get the girl. And we both knew it.

But I was so in love with him.

I'm still in love with him, even all these years later. And sometimes late at night as I lie in bed next to one childhood best friend, I wonder if the other best friend is still in love with me.

But I know the answer.

A love like that doesn't just fade away. He's still in love with me.

And I wonder if he thinks about me when he's with his wife. He's been married for a few years now, married to a beautiful little French thing that he picked up one night while on tour with the Quidditch team he's assistant manager for. Apparently, he fell in love with her that night and decided she was "the one."

But she wasn't.

I was "the one."

I am "the one."

Helena is "two" at best. And Ron knows it.

I wonder if he remembers all those nights we spent together back in school and right after. I wonder if ever thinks about all those times he called out my name while we were making love in a tucked away secret room.

I wonder if he wishes that Helena was really me on warm summer nights that remind him of the first time we ever threw caution to the wind and just gave in.

I wonder if he's ever started to moan my name but caught himself before he could get past the "He..." part.

The night before he married her, I went to him, just as he'd come to me the night before my wedding. I asked him if he loved her, and he looked me straight in the eye and said yes. I asked him if he was happy, and he said yes.

I asked him if she was better than me, and he couldn't answer.

Wouldn't answer.

Wouldn't admit what I already knew, what we both already knew.

We were made for each other; our bodies were made for each other. We both knew this from the very first time that we ever made love; we were children, really, experimenting with something neither of us knew anything about and yet finding out everything in such a short period of time. I wasn't even seventeen yet, but the summer before our seventh and final year of school taught me more than anything else ever had. That first time was pure magic; it was truly as if we were meant to be together.

But, as I've said before, all hopes for our happiness were dashed on that one Fateful day years before when I swallowed all dreams of true love and said, "I do," to the man that everyone else thought was perfect for me instead of the man that I knew was perfect for me.

That day was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. It was supposed to be the day that all women dream of. It was supposed to be perfect.

But unless perfection means hours of tears prior to the ceremony, I didn't get any of that.

All I got were memories of the night before. The last night that I ever truly felt complete.

Ron came to me an hour after Harry had left. The knock on my door didn't surprise me; I knew he would come. I let him in silently and waited wordlessly as he looked around, obviously searching for some sign of his best friend.

"He's gone," I said simply, answering the unasked question that I knew was playing on his mind and making him apprehensive.

"Is he coming back?"

I moved past Ron and into the sitting room of my flat. Soon enough, I would be moving out of this Eastern London flat and into the new home that Harry and I had just purchased in the suburbs.

I didn't want to leave it.

"I told him it was bad luck." My back was to Ron, but I knew that he had followed me into the sitting room and was thinking very much along the same lines that I was. This very room had been the scene of many nights spent in each other's arms when Harry was away. The sofa that I was gently leaning against was the same sofa that he and I had made love on not a week earlier.

There was a brief moment of silence while we both did nothing but think.

We thought about the past, the present, the future. We thought about all of it. Where we had been, where we were, and where we would be in a few years.

And then Ron decided to throw all casualties aside and come right out with the reason for his visit.

"So, tomorrow's the day, huh?"

Him asking that question was almost as stupid as me asking if you could Apparate in or out of Hogwarts. He knew perfectly well that the next day was my wedding. He knew this because he'd been there when the date had been announced. He knew it because it had been all over the WWN and the Daily Prophet for weeks now.

And he knew it because he would be the Best Man in the procession.

I didn't point any of this out, though. Instead, I simply nodded slightly and started fidgeting with a throw pillow. At all costs, I had to avoid his eyes because if I didn't, I would do something I would regret.

"Who would have thought it?" Ron asked casually, finally coming around the sofa and settling down beside the same pillow I was repositioning. "You marrying Famous Harry Potter."

The bitterness was not missed.

However, we both knew the answer to his question, and I did something incredibly stupid and actually answered it.


Another moment silence droned on, and I half-expected Ron to leave. It was clear that he was just as sullen as I was. But he didn't leave; instead, he did something even stupider than what I had done in answering his question.

He grabbed my hand, halting the twelfth re-angling of the throw pillow. When I looked down at him, as he must have known I inevitably would have, I knew that I had lost my battle of wills.

"You don't have to do what everyone expects." His voice was so pointed, so deep and meaningful, that it took every ounce of control that I could muster not to burst into tears.

Luckily, though, I was still in tact enough to control my emotions, and I pulled my hand from his immediately. He didn't try to hold onto it.

"Yes, I do," I said just as pointedly. "And you know it."

"You don't." Ron wasted no time in answering my reply with one of his own. "You don't have to marry him."

I looked away, but the magnetic pull that seemed to center itself around Ron pulled my gaze back to him. He was staring at me so intensely that I was nearly frightened.

But before I could even say a word, Ron said the one thing I didn't think I would ever be able to forgive him for saying.

"Don't marry him." I wanted to hex him for daring to tell me what to do, but when he said the next words, all thoughts of hexing flew away. "Marry me instead."

Marry him?

Marry Ron?

"No," I said firmly. "Don't ask me that."

And he didn't ask me ever again.

He did, however, press the subject, simply for the pleasure of getting a rise out of me.

"Why not, Hermione?" He leaned back against the sofa and fixed his azure eyes on me. "You don't want to face the reality that you're about to make the single biggest mistake of your life?"

"It's not a mistake," I said, more to prove it to myself than to prove it to him. "It's the best thing."

"For who, Hermione?" Ron crossed his arms and didn't let his gaze falter from me as I tried to make distance between us, only to be stopped by the back of my knees hitting the coffee table. "Who is it the best thing for? For Harry? You think it's best for him to use up all of his energy trying to love a woman who won't love him back?"

"I do love him."

Ron nodded. "Of course, you do." He didn't sound too convinced at all. "Or is it the best thing for you? You really want to spend the rest of your life with someone who can't make you happy? The rest of your life, Hermione?"

Saying it out loud made it sound a million times worse than it had sounded in my head.


That's what I would be promising Harry the next day. And I knew I wasn't ready to give it to him.

"He'll make me happy." I wasn't sure why I was trying to make excuses for my decision when Ron already knew that I didn't even believe any of them.

"He can't." Ron stood up and stared down at me. I felt the switch in power go as soon as he towered over me, and I was suddenly defenseless. "He doesn't know how to make you happy."

But I decided to fight fire with fire. If Ron wanted to ridicule my relationship with Harry, then I would do the same with his. "He's your best friend, Ron."

Both of us knew that I'd just pulled out all the stops with a single statement.

It wasn't something that usually came up between us. It was a blaring fact that somehow managed to go unnoticed for the most part.

Quite simply, we were both too guilt-ridden to let ourselves notice that what we were engaging in each and every time we went to each other was nothing more than pure and utter betrayal of the worst kind.

Neither of us had even mentioned it that July night years before when we'd first given into years of pent-up lust. But the circumstances had been much the same as they were now.

Harry was still Ron's best friend. And Harry and I were still technically together, though obviously not yet engaged.

My life had changed forever over the Easter holidays of my fifth year at Hogwarts. Ron had gone home at the insistence of his mother that the whole family be together; it was important to her for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that a Dark Lord was steadily gaining power and threatening to kill us all. Harry and I had stayed at Hogwarts, Harry because he had nowhere to go and I because my parents were touring the South of France and had not bothered to invite me along.

The break was pretty normal except for the evening when I found Harry crying.

Obviously, I was terrified beyond my wits, as Famous Harry Potter crying by the fireplace was not something witnessed every day. However, I went to him and tried to be a comfort. I didn't understand exactly why he was crying, but I had enough suspicions and reasons in my head that I didn't bother asking. I simply offered him a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold.

I offered him a friend.

What happened instead, though, went far beyond any bounds of friendship that we'd shared before. I'm still not sure why or even how I ended up kissing him, but it had seemed like the right thing to do.

And it had worked.

Harry stopped crying, and for a brief moment in history, Famous Harry Potter was just a normal teenager getting his first kiss.

Of course, even the most significant moments in one's life have to end eventually, and when the kiss ended and I realized what had happened, I immediately wanted to take it back. However, there are some things you can't take back, and Harry obviously played for keeps.

I never got it back.

And I was too much of a coward to ask.

So, a year and a half later when I went to Ron's bedroom in the Burrow, I pushed aside all thoughts of Harry and what he thought I meant to him and gave myself over completely to the moment.

It was the first of many times that the moment took over and I found myself lost.

But I never regretted it.

I didn't regret it when I saw Ron the next morning. I didn't regret it when Harry showed up at the Burrow a week later. I didn't regret it when I went back to school for my last year and snuck off with Ron the very first night back. I didn't regret it when Harry told me he loved me. I didn't regret it when Ron told me he loved me. I didn't regret it when I finally gave Harry what I'd been giving Ron for nearly a year. I didn't regret it when we graduated and proved to the whole world that we were no longer children. And I didn't regret it when Harry asked me to marry him.

I never once, in all those years, regretted being with Ron that first night.

But if I had a knut for every time I've regretted that first kiss with Harry, I'd probably be richer than the Malfoys.

But as I stood looking back at Ron that night, I finally came to terms with something.

Regret is something futile and pointless, and there is no point dwelling on it.

"And he's your fiancé."

Ron's answer to my previous statement was as low of a blow as he could manage. However, it had no more of an effect on me than mine had had on him.

We didn't care.

And that was what hurt the worst.

I hated myself right then. I hated myself for going through with the mistake, as I came to call it. I hated myself for not caring that I was hurting Harry. I hated myself for the mess I'd gotten myself into it.

And I hated myself for being so incredibly and hopelessly in love with a man I wasn't going to get.

"We can't keep doing this." Ron's statement was much quieter than his last, and I was worried that he was going soft. "If you marry him, that's the end."

I closed my eyes and muttered the few words that I would come to regret more than any others. "There is no 'if.' I am going to marry him."

The silence never seemed to end, and when I opened my eyes to look over at the man in front of me, I was surprised to see tears glistening in the corner of his eyes.

Never in ten years of friendship had I ever seen Ronald Weasley cry.

And I'd be damned if he started then.

"I have to," I said desperately, moving forward to place a hand on his elbow. "Please understand."

Ron looked away, the tears still shining but never falling. "I don't understand. And you don't, either." I wanted to protest, but I didn't get the opportunity. "You only said yes because it's what is expected of you."

Out of all the things that annoyed me about Ron, his complete disregard for schoolwork, his obsession with Quidditch, his laziness, out of all of that there was one thing that annoyed me beyond all others.

I hated it, couldn't stand it, when he was right about something.

And he was right. The only reason in the world that I said yes to Harry's proposal was because it's what the rest of the world expected me to do.

"It's too late." Those words, while sounding vague to some, gave Ron all the explanation that he needed. And when I said them, I realized they were really true.

It was too late.

"So, tomorrow you're a Potter." It was more of a statement than a question.

I nodded slightly, knowing that I was in far too deep to get out alive.

Ron didn't say anything for a long, long time. I saw the way he was looking around my small flat, as if taking it to memory. He and I had spent countless nights in this very apartment; this was the very room that he had first spotted the diamond on my finger. I had cried so much that night.

And Ron had made it all better.

"Then it's all over."

Those words from Ron's lips made my heart stop. It was the one thing I didn't want to come to terms with, but I knew that he was right. Being together before was one thing, but neither of us would be heartless enough to continue it after there were wedding vows involved.

The best friend and fiancé thing was bad enough. Neither of us was prepared to deal with the issue when it turned into best friend and husband.

We weren't that horrible.

So, it was over. Ron had said so himself.

I refused to give it all up before I had to, though. In a quiet whisper, I said something I've never regretted.

"Not until tomorrow..."

There was no other explanation needed. Ron knew as well as I did what I was insinuating, and he didn't appear to have a problem with accepting the unspoken invitation.

Without another word exchanged, he finally closed the distance between us and kissed me with every bit of power that he had in him. I felt everything in that kiss.

I felt ten years of friendship.

I felt four years of passion.

And I felt an eternity of future pain.

When we parted for air, I looked up at him, searching his blue eyes with my brown ones and begging him silently to take away all of that pain.

And he did, as he always had before.

"I love you." Three words were able to cure any all ailments when spoken by a tall, infuriating redhead.

Not trusting myself to return them, I nodded slightly. "I know."

Ron leaned forward and kissed my lips softly. Right at my ear, he whispered, "Don't ever forget it."

And suddenly it was just too much.

I started to cry, softly and quietly; tears slid down my cheek. "I'm sorry."

"Hey," Ron whispered, tilting my chin up slightly. He looked down at me with a look so full of love that I wanted to die right then, just so I could have spent my last moment in his arms. With the pad of his thumb, he carefully brushed a tear away before I was able to taste it on my lips. "No regrets."

Taking a slow breath, I repeated him quietly. "No regrets."

It was a promise that we had made to each other four years before on that Fateful night that had changed us both forever. By the time we'd finally given into years of want, we were both too far gone to turn back.

Ron had looked me dead in the eye seconds before it had been too late and asked if I was going to regret it. At sixteen years old, the word 'regret' had sounded foreign and useless. When you're a teenager, you don't think that you will ever regret anything. I'd leaned up and kissed him, silencing any other questions he might have wanted to ask and giving him an omnipotent answer. "No regrets."

The night before my wedding, the same promise was made.

We both knew what it meant, what we were getting ourselves into, but neither of us cared. This was it. After that night, we would never be together again, and both of us knew it.

"Harry's so lucky." Ron whispered the words as he dipped his head once again and buried his face into the top of my hair. I could feel him inhaling the scent and committing it to memory.

I tilted my head up and backwards just a bit, raising a finger to place gently against his lips. "Shh... He doesn't exist."

Kissing the tip of my index finger, Ron briefly took it between his lips, nodding as I let it slide down his chin. He spoke two words that seemed to sum everything up.

"Just us."

It had always been 'just us.' When we were together, no one else was even alive.

No one else mattered.

"I love you." I didn't know what else to say, so I said the only thing that made sense. Ron wrapped his arms around my waist, and I stood on tiptoes to make a solemn promise in his ear. "Always."

The promise to always love him was one of the few things I could offer Ron. I couldn't offer him a life of happiness. I couldn't offer him dreams of our future children. I couldn't offer him the feeling of waking up together each morning for the rest of our lives.

Just a promise. A promise to never forget.

And one last night.

Our lovemaking was different that night.

The feelings from that night, though, were scarily familiar. They were nearly identical to those feelings from years before when we first swore to have no regrets.

Now, years later, I can still recall every exacting detail of our final night together. I remember each gentle kiss and each tantalizing stroke of his hand. I remember the way he smelled of faint whiskey. I remember the broken phrases that he whispered against my naked skin. I remember the way he twirled loose curls between his fingers as he studied my face and placed soft kiss against each inch of it. I remember the sound of his voice as he moaned my name in both need and pleasure. And I remember the look in his eyes as he brought me to completion and followed suit for the very last time.

I remember it all.

The promise was to never forget, and I haven't.

Ron held me for a long time afterwards, whispering words of love and adoration until I drifted off to sleep. And the next morning, he was gone. A note lay atop the pillow when I woke up.

"All I want is your happiness. Nothing else matters. I love you. No regrets."

That note still lies tucked away in the bottom of my childhood trunk. Harry will never find it.

I will never lose it.

I cried the entire morning. I cried for myself. I cried for Ron. I cried for Harry. Simply because I knew that I was sentencing all three of us to lives of unhappiness.

"All I want is your happiness."

And I couldn't even give Ron the pleasure of seeing his wish fulfilled.

Later that day, I got married.

I walked down the aisle and stood beside Harry, promising before friends, family, and God to love and cherish him. Always.

And Ron stood on his other side, watching in silence as all of his dreams were shattered right before his eyes. He didn't say anything, though. He forced a smile as the witnesses clapped. He even toasted us at the reception, saying that there was no one else in the world that deserved happiness more than us.

And when the time came for us to share a dance, he didn't mention the previous night. Or any of the other nights for that matter. He simply told me how beautiful I looked and how much he hoped I would be happy.

And he was being sincere.

When the reception was over and it was time for Harry and I to leave, Ron hugged me, holding on for just a fraction of a second too long. I knew what the embrace was saying.

It was saying good-bye.

Good-bye to his hopes, good-bye to his dreams. Good-bye to his life.

I shared that evening with Harry, and when we made love for the first time as husband and wife, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine that things were different. I tried to imagine that I had married the man that I was truly in love with. I tried to imagine that I was embarking on a future of bliss.

I couldn't.

Eight years have passed since that day. I have two children now, a six year old named Haillie and a three year old named Christopher. They're both the spitting image of their father, each with jet-black hair and wide emerald eyes. I love them with all of my being, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. But sometimes when I'm in town and I spot a tiny redhead, I can't help but wonder if they could have been mine.

If things had been different.

If I had never led Harry and the rest of the wizarding world into believing that we were meant for each other.

If I'd just done what was in my heart and gone with the other best friend.

But I hadn't.

Ron and Helena are expecting their first child in two months. He seems ecstatic over the prospect of being a father, and I try to be happy for him. I know that he'll do wonderfully, and I'm sure that Helena will have gorgeous children. Their child will be so lucky.

And I'm trying so hard to be happy. I really am.

But it's hard.

The child he's given to Helena should have been given to me. I should be the one he's fawning about and fussing over. I should be the one whose hand he holds when he sees his baby for the first time.

But I won't be.

Life isn't always fair. I learned that a long time ago; I learned it the very first day I ever met Harry, in fact. Nothing in his life has ever been fair. Not his orphaned childhood and not his empty marriage. Fate dealt him a rotten hand.

I dealt him an even worse one.

And I'm sorry. I really, truly am. I never wanted things to be this way. When we were children, I always dreamed of all three of us as being insanely happy when we grew up. But obviously dreams don't always work out.

Harry pretends to be happy.

Ron once again settled for second best.

And I know that I will never feel complete again.

But even though things haven't worked out as I long ago planned them, I am able to find contentment with one thing. I have never broken that all- important promise that I made to Ron one hot July night so long ago.

I still don't regret it.


Yes, I know. Depressing, isn't it? Well, I'd love your feedback!