One year. 365 days. 8.760 hours. It seems like it had been so much

longer and so much shorter a time since he died. Yes, both longer and

shorter. It has been a year. Only a year. A whole goddamned year. And it doesn't hurt any less, I don't care what everyone says, it will never, never hurt less. It can't. It doesn't. One year ago that BASTARD Voldemort took Ron's life. Ron, my beautiful Ron, gone, just like that, with a flick of a wand, just gone, lifeless. And the war ended just one week after he died. If he would have just lasted one week more, if he could of just dodged that spell, he would be here, in my arms now. Just, just, just, should have, could have, would have. He's gone. And I never...dammit, I never fucking told him. I had so many chances and I never seized one single opportunity to tell him how I felt about him. He died and I never got the chance to tell him. So I risk saying it now, to myself, to no one.

"I love you, Ron."

Those words sound so wonderful, so awful coming from my mouth. I say them again and again and the tears come again for the millionth time and I can't stop them, I won't stop them.

"I love you." He's gone. "DAMMIT, you're gone, Ron!" So I cry. And

cry. And I've lost count of how many times I've cried since Ron died. It doesn't even matter anymore. Nothing does. Only feeling better, only feeling better matters.

"Hermione?"

Ah, so Harry is here. We got a flat together but he's usually not here. Usually gone. Just like Ron.

"Harry..." I can't stifle a sniffle.

"Hermione, are you alright?" It's really not fair for me to come to

Harry like this. He knows it's the one year...anniversary? That's a bad name for this. This is no celebration. I know Harry's feeling pain, too, it's not fair for me to do this, to cry in front of him and hurt in front of him, but I can't be alone right now. Harry knows this.

"I'm alright, Harry. Well, not alright, but...alright, I guess."

Harry nearly smirks at my indecision but thinks better of it. He

starts to get out of his bed.

"Don't get up, Harry." I just want to...I just need to feel better.

"Can I sleep here with you?"

He looks apprehensive. "Hermione, do you want to talk? I mean, I know

it's been one year since-"

I cut him off. I don't want to hear the words. "I know it has, Harry. No, we've talked it to death." We both cringe at my choice of words. "I mean...there's nothing new, nothing we haven't already talked about. I just...I just don't want to be by myself again."

Harry nods solemnly and lifts the blankets, an invitation into the

warmth of his bed. I stumble a bit in the dimness and in my slight state of drunkenness, but I quickly reach the bed and climb in. I lay on my side, facing the door, not facing Harry.

"Hermione?"

I told him I don't want to talk about it. "Yes?"

"Are you drunk?"

I snort. Loudly. "Of course not. I only had three butterbeers. You

know it doesn't take much for me."

He sighs. "I know."

Silence.

"Harry?"

He breathes heavily before answering. "Yes?"

"Will you...this is going to sound so dumb," my voice breaks as I try not to cry, "but can you just, can you hold me?" My voice breaks. "Please?"

"Hermione," Harry whispers consolingly. "Of course, Hermione, of

course."

Harry rolls from his back to his side and wraps his arm around me.

He's still so thin after all these years, still so small. Not like Ron.

Not Ron.

I take a deep, calming breath and will the tears away. And for once, it actually works. I just want to feel better.

"Harry?" I take a deep breath again. "Harry?" My voice breaks again.

Damn those tears.

"Yes, Hermione?"

"Can I turn around?"

"You don't have to ask, love."

Not Ron. I roll over quickly and bury my face in his chest. He manages somehow to put his other arm underneath me and gently strokes my hair with his free hand. Always such a good friend. I wish I could say the same for myself.

"Hermione? Are you OK?"

Am I? I'm sad. I'm beyond sad. I'm mourning past mourning, grief

beyond grief. I am not OK. I just want to feel better. And I don't want more alcohol. I want Ron. But Ron is gone. Harry is not Ron.

I sit up slowly. "Harry?" My voice comes out in near-sobs. He sits

up quickly, anxious to comfort me. His places a hand tentatively on my

back and rubs it soothingly. To pacify me. I don't want to be pacified. I want to feel better.

"Hermione?"

"Harry..." a tear escapes against my will. "Harry, I don't want to feel

like this anymore. I don't want to miss him anymore, I can't stand it."

His hand stops moving. "I know, Hermione. Neither can I." He pauses and waits for me to speak.

"Harry?"

"Yes, Hermione?"

"Will you make the pain go away?"

"How can I do that, Hermione?"

I turn quickly to face him. I'm sure my eyes are swollen and red and

my cheeks are stained with tears, but I don't care. I want comfort. I

want to forget. Just for a moment. He cannot mistake the look I am giving him.

His eyes spark with comprehension. "Hermione, I don't know, I don't..."

he trails off, unable to finish his thought.

I put my head on his shoulder. "Harry, please. Tomorrow will be new,

like it never happened. We're friends. We can comfort each other." A sob escapes my mouth. "I need comfort, Harry, I need it."

Harry's body is stiff and unrelenting. His shoulder refuses to give

way to the weight of my head.

"Harry...." I bury my face into the crook of his neck. I hear his

breathing accelerate. I'm not sure why it does. My tears are falling freely now. I need this. Quietly I say his name again. "Harry. Harry." I brush my lips against his neck. Not Ron's neck. But a neck nonetheless.

I feel him shiver but I can't tell if it's lust or disgust. I don't

care. "Hermione, I...." His voice is low and husky and I just know I can do this.

"Harry, just one night. Just one night to make me feel better. To

make us feel better. Please, Harry." My voice is shaking; my hands are, too. I lift my hand to press it against his chest. He is not Ron but he is warm and he is here and he cares about me.

"Hermione...are you sure you only had three butterbeers?" He's trying to

make light of the situation. I snort loudly once more but nod my head yes. I'm not drunk. Just emboldened. And so terribly lonely. "I know what I'm doing Harry. You wouldn't be taking advantage."

Harry gulps audibly. "I didn't mean that, I just..." Harry seems

incapable of following through with his thoughts tonight. But that's OK, this isn't about thought, this is about feel. Just feel. "Harry," I say again. My hand slips lower and goes under his t-shirt, just above the waistband of his pajama bottoms. I flatten my palm against his warm, hard stomach and begin rubbing it from side to side. "Harry." He is still shivering as I slip one finger below his waistband and stroke just below his navel.

"Fuck, Hermione." He curses at the unwanted arousal. "Hermione, we

can't....we shouldn't."

"Yes, we can, Harry. Only for one night. I need..."

"What, Hermione? What do you need?" Harry asks sincerely.

I look up into his green-not-blue eyes. "I need to feel something

physical. Something good, something opposite to what I'm feeling now."

"I don't know if I'm the right person to give that to you, Hermione."

I sigh and continue my ministrations under his waistband and look down

at my hand. I will not give up.

"You're the only person who can, Harry. The only one left."

"Hermione, I'm not Ron."

I quell the anger I feel upon hearing his words. "Don't you think I

know that, Harry? I know where I am, I know what I'm doing. I know who you are." My entire hand slips under his waistband and rubs more

forcefully.

"Hermione, we shouldn't do this."

"But we can. Just once Harry, just this once. For both of us." My

hand dips further down than ever and brushes the base of him.

"Fuck, Hermione."

"You said that already." I smile a fake smile, an attempt at

playfulness, to make this less difficult, less serious. "Harry." I return my gaze to his eyes, then to his mouth. It's now or never. It's now. I move my head quickly towards him and forcefully plant my mouth on his. He stiffens for a moment, but then I feel him relax under my hands. He is giving in. He needs it, too. I feel his lips begin to move as he kisses me back and his tongue quickly begs entrance into my mouth. I grant it and wonder if this is how Ron would have tasted. But I can't think about that now. I don't want to think about it ever again. I can't control myself any longer, I don't want this slow and I don't want this romantic, I want this hard and fast and now. The hand I have under his waistband grabs him suddenly, taking his full length over and over again. He gasps loudly and his lips leave mine for a moment as his head tilts back.

"Hermione...." How unlike Ron he sounds.

"Don't talk, Harry. Just feel." I push him onto his back and remove

his pajama bottoms. He still looks uncertain but I smile another fake

smile and say "it's OK" and he removes his shirt. I disrobe as well and don't feel one ounce of shame or embarrassment. I'm too far past that stage. He is completely hard now as the rest of his body relaxes onto his pillow. I straddle him and let the feel of his hardness rubbing against me take me over. I kiss him again, just as forcefully as before. He seems to be getting impatient as he grabs my arms and rolls me over onto my back. I nearly delight in the feel of his weight on top of me, his sheer warmth and the tenderness I can practically see radiating off him. Harry. He has always acted forcefully, but remained tender. Harry who is not Ron. I feel tears in my eyes at the thought and will it away. Harry looks me deeply in the eyes, asking permission, seeking a tacit reassurance. I return the look and he knows it is okay. I pull my legs out to either side and let him sink in between. I think he might come just from the contact. He lifts his pelvis up just a little for a respite from the sensation of our sexes pressed together. He plants a delicate kiss on both of my cheeks and on my forehead while he poises himself at my entrance.

"Just do it, Harry. Just go."

And he does. And, oh, the pain. I bite my lip against a cry of pain

and Harry looks at me, startled.

"Oh my god, Hermione, you've never done this before!" He starts to

pull out, terrified of what he has done. What we have done.

"No!" I practically shout. "Don't leave!" He becomes motionless. It

hurts but it is good, it is all physical pain, entirely bearable, entirely physical pain. "Keep going." He remains still. "Please."

He looks unsure but moves slowly back inside me, never having fully

left. The pain stabs inside me, but I don't care. "Yes, Harry, keep moving."

Harry moves back and forth inside me and we both know I'm not going to

come. The pain is too great and the man is too wrong. But he is here and he is filling me in a way I need to be filled. Filling me over and over again. His face is screwed up in pleasure and he lowers his head next to mine, breathing huskily in my ear. I love the sound of Harry's breathing. I ache to hear Ron's. I wrap my arms around him and urge him to go faster, to make this fast and as desperate as I am. His rocking speeds up, he is no longer rocking, he is thrusting and it hurts and it is good and I want to cry because I don't know what to do with the emotion that is filling me and Harry is close, so close to his release and I urge him on, rocking my hips in time with his movements. I hold him close to me and bite my lip as the tears start to fall again. I don't want him to see. I don't want him to stop.

"Ron....."

Harry stops abruptly and looks gently into my eyes. An overwhelming

look of compassion mixed with lust shines from him. His eyes are wet as he gives me a tiny, sincere smile. He covers my entire body with his and places his arms next to my head, holding his weight only by his elbows. He slips one hand behind my head and cradles it as he whispers "It's OK, Hermione." He begins rocking back and forth again inside me. My tears are streaming. "Sssshhhh, it's OK, Hermione, it's OK." His rocking becomes faster, deeper. "Ron is still here." My breath catches at Harry's tender words. "Ron is always here, he'll never leave you." My sobs become audible as he thrusts hard into me once again. "Ron loves you so much, Hermione. He loves you." His breathing is harsh and rapid and I know he's about to come inside me.

"I love you, Ron," I whisper. "Ron." That is the last word that

escapes my lips before Harry finds his release and fills me entirely.

Harry kisses my forehead again as his thrusting slows to slight rocking

before stopping altogether. But he doesn't move from on top of me. He

holds me, still inside me as sobs shudder through my body and I whisper Ron's name like a mantra, like a truth. Harry stays that way, never moving, holding me until my cries subside, reduced to a few intermittent sniffs. Harry lifts his raven head and looks into my eyes once more.

"I meant what I said, Hermione. Ron loves you."

Harry. The only man in the world who doesn't get angry and hurt when the woman he was with whispered someone else's name. Harry, the understanding. Harry, the only who is left.

"I know, Harry," I sniff. "Thank you."

He gives me a small smile before pulling out and rolling off of me. My

entire body is aching, especially between my legs, but this was what I needed. And I wonder if maybe I won't need it again.

Harry gives me a knowing look and smiles sadly. "Only for one night, right, Hermione?"

I close my eyes as a few hot tears escape down the side of my face. "No, Harry. He's gone forever." Harry wraps his arm around me and kisses my wet cheek.

"No, Hermione. Only in body. Ron Weasley will always, always be here in spirit."

"It's not good enough, Harry. It's just not good enough."

"Ssshh, I know, I know. But he loves you still. I love you too, Hermione."

"I love you, too, Harry. But I ache for Ron." My sobs return.

Harry smiles sadly again. An all too-familiar expression. "I know, love, I know. But I am not Ron."

A few more tears slip out. "I know you're not." I take a deep breath and resign myself to my fate. "Just one night, Harry."

"Just one night."

A/N: I am a hardcore R/Hr fan but this is the plot bunny that wouldn't die. I generally cannot stomach H/H or a dead Ron, but again, immortal bunny here. So I apologize for the angst but the angst needed to be. Hermione whispered it in my ear and this is what she said. Also, do not worry about Harry calling Hermione "love." It is merely a term of endearment, nothing more.