Hermione gets her own room, being the girl, which leaves Harry and Ron to share the other. They've been dormmates for seven years and they really don't mind. Hermione says that once they get some seniority on staff they should be able to afford a larger flat; but Ron's lived in cramped quarters all his life and knows no other way, and Harry likes the intimacy close spaces affords.

On nights when they don't have work the next day, Harry and Ron push together their beds and Hermione joins them. They watch Muggle movies on the Muggle television until morning, Harry and Hermione snickering openly at a gaping Ron. Ron still can't believe all there is to Muggles that he has no clue about.

At work they are separated: Hermione to the Research Department, and Ron and Harry to the Active Field Department. They part ways at the door, hallways branching off. Sometimes Hermione feels alone on the way to her office, knowing she won't have a familiar face to tease whenever she so chooses. She's got a transfer request all filled out on her desk. All she needs to do is hand it to her supervisor. She knows that she'll get whatever she wants, because she's Hermione of the record-breaking NEWTS, Granger of the Millennium War. She just hasn't worked up the nerve yet: that paper's been on her desk for the last month.

They reconvene for lunch at a pub. They save their drinking for the off-hours, and instead order sandwiches and juice. Harry's always hungriest at lunch. He out-eats Ron and Hermione combined, but barely touches a thing at breakfast and dinner.

Sometimes Ron coaxes Harry into eating more by cooking favoured dishes or baking special treats. Ron's the only one of the three who's any good at cooking: Hermione's more likely to explode the stove than use it, and Harry has far too many bad memories of his time with the Dursleys, cooking every morning and evening and afternoon to enjoy the act.

Ron's observed in the past that Harry is too skinny, almost dangerously so in the bones-sticking-out kind of way. Now Hermione's getting that way as well, forgetting to eat each time she's caught up in a book or project. Ron resigns himself to making sure both his flatmates – his best friends – eat three square meals a day, and frets if the meals aren't large. Hermione and Harry are young, in some ways still growing (though Harry will never get any taller, Ron thinks with a laugh), and they need their necessary fuel. Ron thinks that it was Ginny who was supposed to turn into their Mum, not him.

Ron's Mum is diminished, seems smaller somehow; the whole of the Weasleys are diminished with the loss of Percy and Bill, and Arthur may as well be dead too. Ron never thought he'd get to feel, first hand, the Hell that Neville went through with his own parents.

Still, it's not the same as Hermione's parents who HAVE both died, victims. Hermione feels colossal guilt for having been the reason for their deaths, and the grief is just as new every day as the last, if only for a few seconds. Hermione has no brothers or sisters or aunts, only one uncle who is her mother's brother in New Zealand. He has no children, and her family will die with her, unperpetuated.

Sometimes she wakes screaming, the horror of it leaping at her through dreams. "I'm alone, all alone," she thinks wondrously. "In all the world there's only one other person with the same blood as me and soon he'll die."

Ron and Harry rush to her on those sob-shaken nights and mornings, when all she sees are dead faces. Ron gathers her in his broad arms and Harry surrounds her from behind: she is enveloped, warm, kept safe as something precious and valued.

She's not the only one to have nightmares. Ron does, and screams as well, but won't take cuddles for comfort. Instead he grips Harry's hand with his left, and Hermione's with his right, very tight, and he makes Harry say it, the night Voldemort died. Harry says it gladly, how Voldemort suffered, the pain and agony, how it would have felt like weeks when only it was a day. Then Hermione tells Ron the components of the potion, and what each did to Lucius Malfoy. Ground alicorn horn to paralyze him, stop his mouth from cursing. Phoenix tears strained through the membrane peeled off of a dragon's heart to cause seizures: unending pain. "Hours, Ron, ten for every one of Percy's and Bill's and your dad's," Hermione promises. "I made sure of it."

Ron grips their hands tightly, head bowed, his heart clenching within him.

Harry has spent so long protecting others that he can't stop, so he never lets them see him after a nightmare. He wakes up silently instead, shallowly gasping, and zooms out the window on his broom. He rides the stars and talks to Sirius in his head. When he's calmer – five minutes to five hours – he goes back and checks on his friends.

Hermione sleeps soundly, bushy hair tousled. Harry brushes it off her face, pulls a few strands out of her mouth. He feels that old love, familiar since first year, overwhelming him. She's safe, and Harry relaxes just a bit before he goes to his and Ron's room. Ron tosses and turns, gangly long-limbed like a giraffe except without the grace. Harry stares at a head that would be red in daylight, but is dark brown by shadowed night. Ron's okay too; Harry feels unaccountably relieved; feels unaccountably overwhelmed, just as he had by Hermione's bedside.

It's been four years since the end of Hogwarts and whatever was left of their innocence. Harry's spent all the days and hours of those four years with Ron and Hermione. They are his great loves, possibly the only ones he'll ever hold in his heart his whole life.

Harry leans back on his bed and listens to Ron breathing. In another room two seconds away, Hermione is gently snoring.

It's enough.


A/N: I just unearthed this from the depths of my hard drive and decided it didn't really suck all that much. It came from me musing about how the Trio would cope with life after Hogwarts and after the (presumed) war. Not the best, I know, and driven by mood rather than plot; but I liked it, and that's all that really matters.

Disclaimer: All characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling, and I make no claim to them (only this story).