Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: For Anne U. And for my parents: 30 years and counting.
Definitions of Romance
Everyone said they were the least romantic couple in the world.
Harry thought they were probably right -- in fact, he was fairly sure that was why this relationship, unlike his others, had lasted. He was terrible at flowers and dinner dates, nervous about jewelry and anniversaries, and awkward with chocolates and declarations of love. Fortunately, Hermione didn't expect any of that and considered most women unutterably silly for gushing over fripperies.
He took Ginny with him to buy the engagement ring, but ended up ignoring most of her advice. Hermione wouldn't want a big stone -- she knew he loved her, and she'd want a sleeker ring, something that wouldn't get in her way. Eventually, to Ginny's disgust, he bought a small silver band with three tiny inlaid chips of aquamarine. He already knew Hermione liked the color -- she usually bought formal robes in light blue.
When he proposed, Harry couldn't think of anything special enough to mark the occasion, so he settled for asking her after they finished dinner. "I made chocolate cake," he said. "Would you like some? And, er, will you marry me?"
Hermione blinked, then smiled. "Yes, to both questions. And I'd kiss you, but I think you'd be happier if we wait until I don't taste of curry." She squeezed his hand.
He grinned, and fetched the cake.
She appreciated his baking skills. She liked the ring, too.
When they told him about their engagement, Ron wondered if they made up for their lack of sappiness with madly inventive sex.
Hermione, absolutely furious at the question, glared their oldest friend into submission without admitting a thing one way or the other. But in truth, aside from one awkward experiment with bubble bath -- which, after Harry accidentally inhaled some bubbles and sneezed for three minutes straight, and Hermione cracked her elbows against the porcelain tub, they'd vowed never to repeat -- they usually restricted themselves to the bed. Strange places, odd toys, outfits, and role-playing were never even considered.
That was probably why the twins' engagement gift, a full-color copy of "Make Your Bedroom Burn," came with a cheerful note encouraging them to 'Try it, you'll like it!" Face burning, Hermione tried to stuff the book back into its wrappings, but Harry snatched it from her hands and started reading aloud... until he hit the first illustration. The photographic couple winked up at them and got on with business.
"...I think that would cause backaches," Hermione said, still mortified. "Let's not try that, please."
"No problem," Harry said weakly, and flipped to the next page. This illustration was even more contorted than the last one. He and Hermione examined it in silence for a minute.
"I wonder if the twins ever tried any of this," Harry said eventually. "They used to test their own sweets..."
Hermione fell over laughing.
They rarely touched in public.
"Are you just ridiculously shy, or do you really not want to hold her hand now and then?" Ginny asked at Ron's birthday party.
Harry shrugged. "What's the point? I know she's not going anywhere and she knows I'm not either. We don't need to be joined at the hip to prove we're engaged."
"It's not about marking each other! It's about wanting to be near her because you love her, you idiot."
"We're in the same room. And we live together," Harry said, baffled.
Ginny threw up her hands and stalked off to commiserate with Hermione about the general stupidity of men. This apparently didn't go as well as she'd expected, judging by Hermione's own baffled expression and the sidelong glance she cast at Harry.
He held her eyes for a few seconds, shrugged, and smiled.
She smiled back.
They didn't kiss hello or goodbye. They didn't cuddle much either, and were perfectly content to spend hours ignoring each other's presence.
"Why the bloody hell are you even together, then?" Ron demanded after he spent a week at their flat while he was between residences. "For all the romance you have, you might as well go back to just being friends -- you can sit in the same room and pretend you're alone without needing to get engaged."
"What're you on about?" Harry asked.
"You sit on the sofa, Hermione's at her desk -- you might as well be alone, not in love. I think I've seen you kiss once this whole week -- seriously, are you sure you want to get married? I don't want you to gyp yourselves."
"Idiot," Hermione said fondly, and walked over to sit beside Harry, laying her parchment and quill on the coffee table. "How would I get any work done if I sat here and leaned on Harry all day? How would he read his reports if I distracted him?"
"Some people," Ron said, "think being in love's a bit more important than getting your work done two weeks before you need to."
"And that's why I'm with Harry, not you," Hermione said tartly. Harry grinned, and settled an inch closer to her; she could feel his shoulder and thigh press reassuringly against hers.
Ron rolled his eyes. "Oh, I give up. You're bloody hopeless, both of you."
They didn't usually talk about love.
When Harry was away on assignment as an Auror, Hermione spent their fire-talks updating him on her research, her colleagues, their friends, the weather, and other things. He listened and tried not to feel guilty about keeping his own days secret.
"I miss you," she said near the end of one conversation. "Hedwig's snapping at Crookshanks, there's no point cooking full meals for just myself, and I stay up too late when you're not here to remind me I need sleep."
"You should Floo out here," Harry said lightly. "We could use some help analyzing the tracer spells we're running, and I'm sure somebody's hexed my room. The bed's lumpy."
Hermione smiled, flames dancing over and through her projected face. "You're just lazy, Harry. And I'm busy here."
"So you say. Well, you'd better not hex our bed while I'm gone."
"Don't worry. It will be clean and unhexed when you get home."
"Good." Harry checked his watch and sighed. "I have to go -- break's over. I miss you too, Hermione."
"Three more days," Hermione said.
"Yeah. Three more days."
Considering Harry's status, the wedding list was remarkably small.
"Haven't you always dreamed about a beautiful wedding -- flowers, white dress, everyone you know madly envious of your special day?" Ginny asked while Hermione and Harry sat at the Burrow's kitchen table, planning the invitations. "This is so... boring."
Hermione tapped her quill in exasperation. "I don't see the point of spending ridiculous amounts of money to tell the world that Harry and I love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. It's none of their business anyway." Was that really so hard to understand?
"I still think we should've eloped, or had a civil ceremony with just the Weasleys, Remus, and your parents," Harry said, as he added the DA members to their list.
"Mum would've killed you," Ron said, sneaking a look at the list. "Er, what about the rest of the department? If you ask Tonks, you ought to ask the rest of your team."
"No," Hermione and Harry said in unison.
Then Harry continued: "They're not my good friends, and they didn't come through the war with us. It's none of their business."
"Exactly," Hermione agreed, smiling at him. "Don't forget Professor McGonagall and Hagrid."
Harry added them to the list.
They didn't write their own vows, or use any special wizarding rites at the wedding.
Mrs. Weasley was disappointed, having hoped to cast the traditional good-luck charms on the bride, but Hermione declared that she and Harry didn't need any magic fiddling with their minds, emotions, and future. They had managed perfectly well on their own until now, and being married wasn't going to change that.
Hermione did change the 'obey' portion of her vows, however, with Harry's full agreement. "If anything, I should be the one saying that to you," he said when she brought it up a week before the ceremony.
"Neither of us is going to promise anything as silly as unconditional obedience," Hermione said firmly. "We're partners, not master and slave, and neither of us is right all the time."
When the pastor pronounced them man and wife, Harry wished for a moment that he'd thought to change that to 'husband and wife' instead, but he stopped worrying when Hermione kissed him.
They didn't honeymoon anywhere particularly exotic, or spend all their time in bed.
Rome in August was hot as blazes, but magic -- Cooling Charms in particular -- could fix many things. They stayed in a small third-story room two blocks from the Pantheon, and the morning after they arrived, Harry Apparated himself and Hermione to the old temple to watch rain cascade through the hole in the dome.
"I've always wanted to see that," Hermione said as the sky turned hard and bright after the brief shower. "I wouldn't have thought of Apparating to catch the rain -- thank you."
Harry nudged her shoulder companionably, enjoying the happy wonder on her face. "That's why we're partners."
"True. So, what next?"
Harry shrugged. "I haven't got round to reading the guide books -- you pick."
"Hmm." Hermione put on her considering expression for a minute, and then smiled. "Honestly, I didn't finish reading them either. How about we wander? After all, being together is more important than seeing old monuments -- they won't disappear if we ignore them for one day."
"We won't disappear either," Harry said, "but sure. Let's go that way."
They ended up spending most of the morning on the Spanish Steps, eating gelato and watching other people rush from sight to sight, or swoon over the romantic atmosphere of the city. Hermione slipped off her sandals and used Harry as a footrest until he complained about sweaty toes and poked her side.
Hermione Apparated them back to the hotel, where it was cooler.
When Hermione and Harry first got together, Ginny asked if they'd had a moment of grand passion or a life-changing epiphany. "Not really," Hermione told her, "but that's not the important part of love. We'll do fine without one."
Now that she was married, she wondered if she might have been wrong about that. Maybe she should look for an epiphany. Maybe she should pull out the twins' book and try for grand passion. She flipped through a guide book without really seeing the pages.
"It's midnight, Hermione. Come to bed."
Hermione set down the book, checked the Cooling Charm and the small bug-repelling hex on the open window, turned out the light, and slipped under the sheets next to Harry. He wrapped his arms around her, breathing in the clean, sweet smell of her shampoo. They hadn't tried anything in the bathroom, too aware of hard porcelain and tiles, but when afternoon sex left them sweaty despite the Cooling Charm, Harry had suggested they could shower together and wash each other's backs.
If he ever quit being an Auror, he could go into massage therapy.
Hermione snuggled into his embrace. "It just hit me," she said, "that we're married. We've promised to do this for the rest of our lives."
"Being married is only telling the rest of the world. I promised you years ago," Harry said. "Go to sleep, Hermione."
Everyone said they were the least romantic couple in the world.
Hermione knew they were wrong.