A/N: The last chapter. I'm going to really miss this story. Thanks for the reviews as always. I treasure them all.
PS– I don't know how many of you saw this one coming, but the last chapter is in Harry's POV (as it was destined to be from the beginning).
Chapter XIII: Not Completely
-One Year, Two Months Later-
I've gotten my results for my first year of Healer training and guess what–I'm going onto the next phase with honors! I'm so pleased with myself Harry, I can't tell you! This last year has been so tough, and I really seriously thought I was going to fail. I mean, it really wouldn't have been too far-fetched; top students from other schools failed horribly, and at the beginning, I honestly thought I was going to be one of them.
I just feel so relieved that this year is over. I'll finally have time to rake showers and eat and sleep without having to constantly think so much about school. This next year is supposed to be harder, but easier on my schedule. For the first four months, I'll be learning more about illnesses and such, and for the last six months I'll be an intern at St. Mungo's as a nurse and Healer's assistant.
Anyway, I'll drop by to your apartment this Saturday to celebrate and to help Ron unpack his things. I can't believe you two are going to be living together–what a disaster!
I'm almost done with everything over here; I just have to finish all this paperwork with my landlord, (Muggles, they complicate everything) and then I'll be set to move in. I still can't believe we're gonna be roommates! It's gonna be wicked.
Anyway, I just heard from Hermione, and she's doing great! We're all gonna meet up on Saturday. It'll be so much fun, I can't wait. I'm so happy we're gonna be able to spend much more time together now, the three of us. It just seems so awesome. Though, I have to admit, I am a little bit nervous about transferring to a new academy. But with you there, I'm sure it'll be great.
I put the letters down after reading them and smile a little wearily. I'm still not used to getting these completely friendly letters from Ron and Hermione. I like them, but I'm just not accustomed to getting them yet, even though it's already been a year with steady mail from them. I look around my living room and sigh. In a few days, Ron's going to be moving in. We're going to be roommates, studying at the same academy together.
The thought is strange, but welcoming. I sit here on my couch for a few minutes, not thinking of anything in particular, just taking in life and its ways of working. . .
It's bizarre the way life works.
One year I'm living as a Muggle with the Dursleys, the next I'm attending a magical school with a best friend, the next I'm attending it again and defeating an evil man, and it continues that way for several years, then I find out that my two best friends have betrayed me and spend the last half of my last school year alone. All the phases I've gone through are so completely different from one another, it honestly doesn't even feel like they're part of the same life. The changes in all of them are so huge that whenever I look back at those periods, it feels like I was either living in a different person's body, or living a different life.
I mean, for the first five years that I knew Ron and Hermione, we were just a trio, always there for one another and just friends. We bickered and joked and did all those things that friends do. And I was happy with that I guess, but then I started to feel a little differently about Hermione, and at the end of our fifth year at Hogwarts I asked her out.
That began a whole different phase. We were still a trio, but now there was a romantic relationship among us. Hermione and I would go on dates and spend time alone. Our body language changed and we did things like kiss and hold hands and whisper in each other's ears. We were both still very close to Ron, but we had an official relationship completely separate from him. Ron knew that there were times when we were to be left alone.
I liked that part of my life. It was nice. My social life was simple, cozy, and best of all, comforting. With Voldemort still alive, it was nice to have a best friend and girlfriend. So, it really was nice.
But that's all it was.
I did forgive Ron and Hermione. Not completely, I admit, but we are doing fairly well with our friendship. Of course, we're not nearly as close as we were before all of this happened, so we're mainly on "reparation" mode right now. We're basically just trying our best to making everything go as close to the way it was as we possibly can.
It hasn't been easy trying do it either. Hermione's always busy and she's only managed to meet up with Ron and me four times in the past year, and the longest she stayed was an hour. Ron only managed to see me six times, and two of them were because our Auror training had coincided at the same time and place. And it wasn't like I had much time to spare myself. So mainly, our communication has been through letters like the two I've just received.
We've said a lot of things to each other: things that needed explanations, feelings that needed to be shared, and motives that needed to be cleared. Sometimes I wish that we had said all those things face-to-face and out loud rather than in letters, but realistically, writing things down makes things easier and we get to express ourselves the best way possible. When I write my letters, sometimes I'm in such a hurry to send them that I almost decide not to go over them, but I always do.
And I'm glad about that. I reread what I write and I almost always make corrections with wording or eliminating and adding sentences. I'm glad I get this opportunity, because I really get to say what I feel and my intentions come across the way I want them to. Sometimes I come off as really resentful and I always change that. I really do want to make things work between all of us.
It was me who decided to give us all that chance, after all.
The reason, or reasons I should say, I forgave Ron and Hermione were all pretty simple. After our argument, I didn't walk out of that room completely sure that everything I said was right. The truth is, Ron was completely correct when he said that I knew all along how he felt about her. I always knew Ron had a special place for Hermione in his heart. Always.
When we were younger, before Hermione I were a couple, I sometimes went as far as to tease him about it. Not severely or seriously, and not often either, but still, I did joke about it and I always knew that there was something significant about the way he'd turn a little pink and get quiet.
What's more, I always kind of suspected that Hermione felt the same way. She always seemed to really want to know where Ron was, what he was doing, what he thought about something, etc. She also seemed to have a special place for him inside her. However with her, I wasn't ever completely sure about how she felt. She was never as easy to read as Ron. She was always more complex.
But even though I was aware of their feelings, I never really came to terms with them. The thoughts were always in the back of my mind. The reason I asked Hermione out was because I really did like her, and I really did suspect that Ron had gotten over her. The only thing that made me hesitate was that I wasn't sure if she felt the same way about me, so when I told Ron that I never thought it would betray him, I really was telling the truth.
Still, when I saw his reaction to our relationship I knew something was up. All the signs of their attraction came back once Hermione and I became a couple. I should have confronted them about it. It's just that whenever I was actually alone with Ron or Hermione, it didn't seem like anything fishy or conspiratorial was going on. Ron acted like my friend; Hermione behaved like my girlfriend. It didn't feel like anything was going to change those two simple relationships. It seemed like they both accepted their relationships with me too.
The thing was though, that even though Hermione and I had a nice relationship, I was never in love with her. I did really like her and I liked being her boyfriend, but in all honesty, what I liked the most about our relationship was that no matter how dangerous times were, she'd always be there for support and comfort. But the more days that passed, the less romantic my feelings were for her.
In truth, the only reason I asked her to make that next move for our relationship was because I wanted to reignite our spark. I thought that we were just like all other couples who eventually become bored and tired with one another and need something to put the romance back in their relationship. The real reason for the rut in our relationship was that neither of us were really in love with each other and the act can't be pulled off for such a long time.
Going back to the beginning, the fact that I had always somewhat suspected their feelings for one another made me feel immensely guilty. When I really look at it, it was a really messed up thing to do to a friend. If it had been me, I would have been completely livid to find out that my best friend had asked out a girl who I liked. Especially if I knew that they knew.
I don't really know how Ron tolerated it, and that's why part of me still says that hey, it wasn't my problem that he had been too much of a coward to speak up. But it goes back to the fact that once Ron's feelings had clearly shown after my announcement, I should have said something. Something had to be said, and if he didn't speak up, then I should've come out and said something.
I sigh and read the letters again for the third time.
In our letters we made it really clear to each other that if we were all willing to make an effort, we would try to as hard as we could to make things work. Ron and I decided to be roommates. He said it would be better for him to move into my flat instead of the other way around.
He says that it's because he really wants to be in my school instead of the one he attended for the last year. I guess I could buy that. My school does have a better reputation and methods of training. Ron also claims that he hates living in a predominantly Muggle neighborhood where doing the tiniest bit of magic is a complication. I guess I could pretend to go along with that too; training to be an Auror requires a lot of at-home practice, and living in an area infested with people who can't see anything or hear anything strange, really complicates things.
But I know better. The real reason he wants to move here is because Hermione lives about twenty minutes away. Even though he could Apparate to her from a distance, I think the idea of her living nearby comforts him. There's also more of a possibility that they'll run into one another around town doing everyday things.
I shake my head slightly.
They're not a couple yet, but it's only a matter of time. Every time I've been with them I catch them glimpsing at each other and laughing a little awkwardly, like they're falling in love for the first time. And when they greet each other, the hugs are always a little too long. The last time I saw them, I accidentally saw them kissing outside my apartment from my window. It was scary.
Anyhow, last week they went out on a date. They didn't give me many details (barely any, actually), which I'm extremely grateful for, but I have a feeling that it went well. We're all still pretty awkward about everything that happened, and even though we all know that they're eventually going to get together, I think it'll be a good while until we'll all feel completely comfortable with it.
I won't object to it of course, but I just think that I'm going to need some time to adjust to the reality of the situation, and feel comfortable watching them hold and hands and kiss and do all of those other things Hermione and I used to do. I don't have any feelings for her or anything, but I think it's fair to say that no guy would be happy watching their ex-girlfriend making out with another guy, much less their best friend– especially if she cheated on the guy with said best friend.
But no, I wouldn't dream of objecting; another reason why I forgave them was because I couldn't stand to see them so miserable and apart because of me. About three months of debating with my feelings on the matter, the truth is, I came to accept the fact that they really were (are) in love with each other. Watching them looking at each other in such a longing fashion both sickened me and made me feel guilty.
My feelings on this are still very conflicting and the debate within me still hasn't finished. The human side of me feels the way any other person would feel: resentful, bitter, and angry. I mean, they were my best friends. How can it be possible that they of all people betrayed me the hardest? It's not a small pill to swallow.
It's a hell of a lot to take in. First, I have to deal with the way that their characters completely changed, next, I have to deal with the shock of knowing that the past three (almost four) years have been full of lies and deceit, and finally I have to steady myself from the even bigger shock of what they did to me.
But, then my noble side tells me to look at things realistically. First of all, Ron and Hermione have been there with me through everything, almost dying for me on numerous occasions. They've vowed their loyalty to me repeatedly and never let me down. They've been my best friends through everything. The fact that they betrayed me like this can only bring me to two conclusions: either they were never really my friends, or they had a damn good reason to do what they did.
The first conclusion isn't very plausible–why would someone put their life on the line for someone they don't truly care about? Seems a little too farfetched to me. So that leaves the second conclusion, and I guess that their damn good reason would be that they truly felt about each other the way they said they do.
Most regular people in life would tell me that cheating is something that should never be forgiven, and that to give in to it only shows weakness. But honestly, we're not regular people. We've gone through things that most regular people can only imagine. We have a different kind of bond, and listening to a normal person seems a little impractical.
Something I do understand though, is that bad things happen in life, and cheating is one of them. In all honesty however, one has to admit, no matter how painful it might be, that love is sometimes involved with it. Sometimes the reason for cheating isn't really a cheap, immature reason. Every once in a while, people cheat because they are honestly in love with someone else.
I completely despise the fact that those statements are true. It would be so much easier if they weren't, then I could resent them in peace. Instead, I'm left to resent them with slight guilt. I guess that on top of everything, I have to admit that I did tend to forget the fact that Ron and Hermione shared a relationship in which I wasn't involved. I was perfectly aware of my separate relationship with both of them, but I never actually acknowledged the one they had without me. So who am I to stand in their way?
In the end, I guess that even though I've made the decision to get over it and try to see it from their point of view, I don't think I'll ever completely get over it. I just can't help it. Sometimes I just keep telling these things to myself again and again, only to find myself thinking along the lines of: But how could they? It's me! Harry! Their best friend!
And I don't think I should have to feel guilty about that. Betrayal leaves a permanent mark.
I'm willing to live with that.
My main, main reason for forgiving them is the simplest of all: I wanted them back. I'm just not complete without those two. They were my first family, and still continue to be a strong part of my family. That's what we always were: family. We still are.
Families all have fall-outs, don't they? This is ours, I guess. Like I said before, our bond isn't a normal one. We really can get over anything. And after they've repeatedly put their necks on the line for me, I think they deserve a second chance.
Feeling tired, but satisfied, I pick up my quill and write:
Hey you both,
You'll be receiving the same letter because you prats wrote a little too late into the night for me to have the energy to write separate replies.
First, congratulations Hermione! I'm glad that all your hard work paid off and that you'll be getting the training you deserve. But honestly, you fail? Are you crazy? I bet none of those top-students you mentioned are even half as smart as you. You should know better than all of us that no academic challenge is really a challenge for you. I look forward to seeing you to celebrate.
And Ron, I honestly cannot wait for you to move in. This apartment is way too big and quiet for me. I need someone to come in here and untidy it up a bit. I need someone to make some noise! Seriously mate, we are going to have the best days we could ever ask for. Two grown men, still full of youth, and with no curfew! And don't worry about the new school–you'll do great.
I'm looking forward to seeing you both.
I look at the letter and smile. Then, with a feeling of strange happiness I add:
PS- And I really mean that.
A/N: Oh God. . .it's really over. I feel really heavy-hearted right now. Okay, better get this over with. First, I'd like to say that I hope you all enjoyed the ending. I originally had two endings written: this one, and one in which Harry completely refused to forgive them. I know some of you were hoping that he wouldn't forgive Ron and Hermione, but. . .I did. I just wouldn't feel satisfied with a sad ending because. . .I hate them. And it's my party and I'll cry if I want to (in other words, it's my fic and I'll end it how I please).
No really, I'm sorry to all of those who are disappointed, but I hope you liked this anyway.
Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone who read this story, and double thanks to all those who reviewed, I loved all the comments. I'll really miss this story, but I doubt that I'll ever write a sequel because I just don't know where I would take it from here. I'll be writing another story in the future, but not too soon. Now, I'll just be enjoying my summer knowing that I don't have to update a story.
Good night, and goodbye!