Title: Happily-Ever-After's

Author: Amethyst

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson at hotmail .com

Category: Romance/Drama/Light Angst

Keywords: Harry, Hermione, Ron

Pairings: Behind-the-scenes/in-the-past Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione, Harry/Hermione

Rating: PG/PG-13ish

Spoilers: Eh, well, no major ones that I can think of, but it's always possible.

Summary: Harry and Hermione come to the conclusion that they've been idiots for a very long time.

Disclaimer: Not mine – it's JK Rowling's. I'm making no money off of this, nor am I attempting to, so there's really no point suing for copyright infringement – I'm flat broke. Waste of money, suing me, if I do say so myself.

Author's Note: I finished this fic rather at the last minute for fanfict00bs (can by found under the same name on livejournal .com). It was a very old WIP, and I resorted to it because the fic I really wanted to post wasn't turning out well. So sorry if this is a stinker, but I can't believe it's so bad that it's not worth posting.

Happily-Ever-After's

Baby. The word echoed through Harry's head. He didn't comprehend any of the other words that Hermione was saying - she tended to say a lot of them, and very quickly.

"Wait, wait, wait," he interrupted. "Explain that to me again."

Hermione sighed and started over. "Ron. He wants to have a baby. I have no idea why. Maybe -"

"So – so you're not pregnant? That's...that's good, but…you and Ron…you're not even married - you're not even engaged," Harry interrupted again. "Why does he want to have a baby?" He couldn't even get his mind around the idea. Hermione and Ron couldn't be taking a step like that, they just couldn't.

"Thank you for stating the obvious, Harry. Of course we're not, and that's precisely why I'm here, talking this out with you. What am I supposed to tell him? Apparently, he thinks a baby will bring us closer together, as if I'd be okay with that when I wasn't with marriage…but…." She paused, staring down into her cup of tea. "I don't want kids now, I don't know if I want kids ever...especially not with Ron..."

"What are you trying to say, Hermione?" Harry asked, knowing that the issue here was much, much more than Ron's crazy idea…and in the deepest, most desperately hidden part of his heart, he was glad.

"He's been pressing for us to get engaged, get married, and have a hundred children, just like his parents did, but I don't want all that. I mean, sure, I want to get married someday, but…I don't think I want to marry Ron."

Harry wished he had a better ability to talk in situations like these. He seemed to be asking more questions than helping, which was what she had come for. Ah, well, one more question couldn't hurt. "Why do you think that?"

Hermione looked up, biting her bottom lip. "I love Ron, of course, but the more I look at our relationship, the more it looks like a few fake kisses on top of our friendship. Maybe I'm just being stupid, expecting love to be some big cliché. Maybe there aren't really a bunch of fireworks and happily-ever-after's."

"You've never been stupid, Hermione, and there's some truth to every cliché." He was horrible. He was about to tell Hermione things that could potentially ruin the lives of his two best friends…or maybe save them from something that wouldn't work. But gods, he couldn't let her go back to Ron, not when she had her doubts, not when there was a chance….

"What do you think, Harry?" she asked. "Tell me honestly - do you think this is right, with Ron and I?"

Harry leaned back in his chair, resigned to the idea that he would have to say something, and that it would have to be a risk.

"Honestly…I never thought you would stay together this long. You and Ron are so different; I didn't think it would work, and…since you want the truth, I still don't think it will. If Ron's resorting to babies in an attempt to keep you together…"

Hermione looked distinctly relieved. Harry couldn't help but share the feeling. "So I'm not just afraid of commitment or something? I…I've felt this way for awhile, like maybe this wasn't meant to be, and I thought it was probably just cold feet or something…because it was always supposed to be Ron and me, wasn't it? And you and Ginny…but maybe that isn't the way it's supposed to go."

No, it was definitely not meant to be One Big Happy Weasley Family. Things with Ginny certainly hadn't worked out. Harry smiled weakly at her. "If it doesn't feel right to you, Hermione, it isn't. If you don't know, trust your instinct."

Hermione appeared to be considering something. "I - I'm in love with someone else."

Harry could only stare at her. Oh, cruel fate, just when he had thought there was a hope of having her, she loved someone else. She went on, "I mean, I love Ron, and I thought if I just stayed with him, I would get over - er - the person I'm in love with, and I could fall for him, and everything would be great, but it never happened, and I never got over it."

"Hermione…did you ever tell him? The one you're in love with, I mean." He couldn't bear to ask who it was.

"No. No, there was never a good time. He was either with someone, or he wasn't in a place to have a relationship. I just…I gave up on it, and I went with Ron. I don't think I can do it anymore, though."

Harry took a deep breath. "If you know it's not working, maybe you should end it. Don't keep up something that your heart isn't into. And…I think you should tell the other one how you feel."

"You're probably right…" She chuckled softly. "Funny, how I can work out everyone's problems but my own."

"I think that's usually the case when it comes to relationships," Harry replied.

Hermione nodded, finishing off her tea. "I think I'm going to go talk to Ron now. Thank you, Harry, for helping me through this. I'm so glad I can talk to you about these things still. I know it must be difficult, trying to be a best friend to the both of us and stay impartial at the same time."

You have no idea. "You're always welcome, Hermione."

The next day, Harry found himself opening his door to Hermione once again. He felt an extreme sense of déjà vu when he saw that she was crying as well. He let her in immediately, and went to the kitchen to make a pot of tea, not knowing what else to do for her.

"It's done," she said, following him while taking off her cloak. "I broke it off with Ron. He knows there's someone else. He thinks I've been cheating on him, though, which is so far beyond the case it's ridiculous, but Ron's always been so jealous…there's no use trying to talk any sense into him. We didn't even get to the issue of the baby."

Harry tried not to rejoice, he really did. Both of his friends had to be hurting because of this. It had been so hard, trying to help them keep the relationship together, trying to stay loyal to Ron, even through his secret feelings for Hermione. But things were beyond repair, and he couldn't help but be selfish and thank whatever gods might be that he was no longer in the middle of it. He no longer had to struggle with loyalty and longing. Even if she never loved him, it was a certain degree of deliverance, and he cherished it.

"I'm sorry to see either of you hurt, but I think that's for the best," Harry said. The magically enhanced teapot whistled sharply to get his attention as it steamed.

"Yes, you're right," Hermione said as she went to get down two teacups. "There's…just one thing, Harry. I think Ron might know who it is that I'm in love with…and it's better for you to hear it from me than him, I'm sure."

Harry filled the teacups as his stomach filled with dread. "Well, let's sit down and then you can tell me."

"Yes," Hermione said, taking her tea, "I think you'd better sit down. I don't know if I can keep still, though."

Who on earth could it be that would make Hermione so nervous? Harry frowned as he took a seat at his round kitchen table. Perhaps it was Malfoy. Oh, he could kill the prat; he just had to get a job at the same company as Hermione. Sure, maybe he had made a surprising side-swap during the war – if that had been a genuine swap rather than a desperate attempt to not to be murdered – but he was still a wanker.

"Harry, the thing is," she said, avoiding his eyes, "…it's you."

He blinked, confused. It's you. "What do you mean, it's me?"

"Don't be dense, Harry. You're the one I've been talking about. I'm in love with you."

It slowly sunk in. Hermione was in love with him. He was in love with Hermione. They loved each other. He nearly fell out of his chair.

"Bloody hell, Hermione! Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

Hermione scowled. "I didn't think you would react very well, that's why, and I think you just proved me correct. Besides, you were always with someone…first Lavender, though I have no idea what you saw in her, and then all those years with Ginny, and you were so torn up after that; I didn't think there was any chance you could return my feelings."

"Merlin, Hermione, if I had known that, I never would have been with either of them – and this has been going on since seventh year!"

"Well, yes," she said, flushing. "And what do you mean, if you had known? Are you trying to say –"

"Is it so hard to believe? I've been in love with you for the longest time, Hermione…"

"Oh, gods," she said, slowly putting her cup of tea down on the table. "If only I'd known…we wasted so much time, trying to make it work with Ron and Ginny…and this isn't at all fair to them. They could have been spared so much hurt…"

"That's all in the past. We can't do anything about it now," Harry said, moving to stand next to her. "We'll just have to move on."

Hermione let out something between a laugh and a sob. "I can hardly believe this is finally happening."

"Neither can I," Harry said, smiling. "I waited for this for so long...imagined it so many times...and I have no idea what to do with myself now."

"Well, we could kiss, for a start," she said, looking up at him with a glint in her eye that suggested she'd been waiting quite to be able to say that.

"You always were the smart one," Harry said with a smile as she pressed closer and he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her through the last bit of space between them. He couldn't believe he'd gone this long without having her this close to him, without breathing in her intoxicating smell and feeling her warm body against his. She was all gentle curves and soft skin, and he wanted to do so much more than kiss her – he wanted to take her and release the sexual tension that had been building between them for years. Nevertheless, this was their first kiss. He would make it worth the wait. There would be plenty of time for that later on, if he had his way.

"Are you going to get on with it, or am I going to have to take over?" Hermione asked, her impatience tempered with amusement.

Harry grinned. "Still bossy, I see."

"Still obnoxious," she shot back, her lips curving in an enticing smirk. "Some things never change."

Harry had waited long enough. He leaned forward and captured her lips. They were even softer than they looked. Hermione pressed more firmly against him and wound her arms around his neck, and he felt her tiny hum of pleasure trembling through her lips and chest. As her tongue flicked against his lips and her fingers tangled in his hair, he knew he'd never, ever have enough of this feeling.

When she pulled away, Hermione was looking at him incredulously, her swollen, thoroughly kissed lips curved in a disbelieving smile.

"So…so that's what I've been missing all this time?" she said. Her voice shook with little half-sobs. "There really are fireworks?"

Harry nodded, understanding her amazement and knowing exactly how much she wished she'd seen it sooner – he was wishing the same thing. "There are," he said, "And happily-ever-after's, too."

The End

(Really, the end – you know you only want a sequel because you hope there will be smut in it.)