It was several days later that Ron and Hermione finally found some time to be alone and talk. They needed to talk about the kiss, what they were together, where they even together? what were they going to do now? and how did they stay connected? Settling in at the Burrow, Fred's funeral, dealing with all the well wishers and family, let alone their sheer exhaustion kept them from any time together and it was making Ron crazy. Hermione was busy getting ready to go see her parents and she seemed to be purposely avoiding Ron and becoming more and more withdrawn as if she were already distancing herself from the Ron and the Weasleys. Ron was confused by what was going on. Now that the war was over he thought that they could finally be together.
Ron woke up this morning realizing he only had two more days with Hermione before she left for Australia and he wasn't going to wait anymore. After finishing breakfast with all the Weasleys, including Harry, Luna, and Hermione, Ron grabbed Hermione's hand and as he stood up he announced to his mum and family that "he and Hermione were going for a walk."
Hermione did not look pleased as she tried to wrench her hand away. "Ron, I don't have time for a walk. I have too much to do before I go."
Ron held firmly onto her hand and said quietly but sternly, "Consider this one of the tasks you need to complete before you go, because I'm not letting you go until we talk. I'm not waiting until you get back before we talk about a few things."
Hermione visibly deflated and shrugged as she got up. "Ok, I suppose we do need to do this before I go, so let's get this over with."
Ron was slightly stunned by her reluctance and fatalistic attitude. Now he was more confused than ever. Ron led her out the back door into the garden.
As they left, Luna looked at both Harry and Ginny and asked, "Aren't they together? I thought they had kissed during the last battle and had finally expressed their feelings, but it sure doesn't seem like that now. I wonder if the wrackspurts are interfering with their brains right now?"
Harry just nodded and grimaced. "I thought so too, but now with her going to Australia without him, I don't know what to think. Based on what I just saw, I think we need to be prepared for the worst from Ron when they get back. I think he always thought he'd go with her. So did I."
As soon as they reached the garden Ron directed the two of them over to a bench. As they sat down he let go of Hermione's hand and turned to face her.
"Hermione, why are you avoiding me and why don't you want me to come with you. After our kiss during the battle, I thought we'd finally be together. Now I don't know what's going on. Do you regret kissing me, Hermione? It was the best kiss of my life and now I know I want more. I want to be with you Hermione, I want to be your boyfriend and do all the normal couple things that we've never had the chance. I lov.."
"Stop!" yelled Hermione as she put her hand over Ron's mouth. "Don't say that Ron, please don't say that, please."
Ron gently removed her hand. "Why shouldn't I say that? It's the truth and hopefully it's not a surprise to you, why did you stop me?"
Hermione hung her head and with tears leaking from her eyes replied quietly, "because I can't say it back, Ron. I can't say it back."
"So you do regret our kiss in the room of requirement then," Ron said sadly as his eyes began to water.
"No, Ron, I don't regret it. It was the best kiss of my life, too. But now that the war is over and we're not just trying to survive everyday and I can finally relax just a bit and sleep through the night, and not worry about Harry, I don't know what I feel. I'm worried that what I felt for you was just the result of not knowing if we were going to die and not knowing if there was a future. What if what we feel for each other is based only on being in a war and taking care of Harry?"
Ron replied with a bit of anger in his voice, "I won't say those three words, but I've felt this about you ever since I woke up after being poisoned and you were there. I finally realized it when I saw your face looking down at me while I was lying there."
"Ron, you don't understand! Up to now, we were so focused on the mission and our world has been so narrow I couldn't see outside the immediate here and now. I never allowed myself to think of the future. Now everything is wide open. I can go back to the Muggle world, I can study in University, I can go back to Hogwarts. There are so many possibilities I never allowed myself to ever dream about. I don't know what I want to do or who I want to be. I don't know what I feel. I don't know what I feel about you, about Harry, about Victor, about who I am. I can't say it back Ron because I don't know what I feel, and I'm sorry."
"Funny," Ron said finally. "All I ever thought about during the war was being here with you at the Burrow, or at Hogwarts, or in our own home, or at our jobs at The Ministry. I thought about being together when we found your parents and bringing them home. No matter what I thought about, it was always us, together, forever. Us, and maybe Harry and Ginny. I understand that your future is wide open, Hermione, but I always thought it would include me. I guess I got that wrong, but damn it Hermione, I'm going to say it… I love you and I thought you loved me too and all I want is to be with you."
Ron hung his head. Hermione sighed and sobbed. "I'm sorry, Ron, I wish I could say it too, but I can't. I hope to someday, but right now I'm just confused. Hopefully after I find my parents I can figure it all out, and then when I come back we can see where we are. I hope you can wait for me?"
At this Ron looked up with anger and almost shouted, "wait for you? wait for you? You want me to sit here and wait for you to come back with Vicky? or some other guy? Wait? Wait for what? Wait for you to look around and find someone better than me? Or maybe wait for you to look around for a few years and for you to realize there is no one better than me and you expect me to just sit here and wait for a possibility?
Ron stood up and started to pace around. "I don't think so, Hermione, I don't think so."
He then stopped and looked right at her. Pointing his finger at her he continued, "If you commit to me right here right now, sure I'll wait, but if all you can give me is a maybe, a chance, a possibility that someday you'll come back and want to be with me, it's not going to happen. You say you need to go live your life, fine, but I'm going to live mine as well, and maybe someday we can see each other again and maybe we'll be friends, but I'm not going to just sit around and pine for the day you might cast me a glance."
Ron's face was nearly as red as his hair as he finished. Hermione sat there speechless and shocked.
Ron turned and started back into the house. After a few steps he stopped and looked back with sadness and tears as Hermione still sat there seemingly paralyzed by Ron's outburst.
Softly he said, "I hope you find your family and that you have a nice life. From now on, I'll be proud to say that Hermione Granger was someone that I used to know. Bye, Hermione."
Ron walked sadly into the house and up to his room. No one saw him again until the day after Hermione left for Australia.