The year draws to a hectic close and the trio catches there first moments of relaxation at their well-deserved graduation party. The Burrow is alive with music and chatter. Fairy lights illuminate the garden filled with blooming white roses. A large crowd fills the unusual house to the brim, food overflowing from the long kitchen table and Mrs. Weasley bustling around from guest to guest.
Hermione perches near the backdoor, clothed in a simple white halter dress, her hair trailing down her back in soft curls. Holding a small glass of water the young girl stays still as the crowd flurries around her. She already put her daughter, Elizabeth, to sleep and feels slightly out of place without her child. After centering her life around the small girl and school, she had little time for social activities outside of the few interactions with her best friends and feels quite disconnected from the group. Harry appears suddenly at her side and nudges her elbow.
"Look at little more solemn would you?" Harry says with a smile "It's not like we just graduated or anything…"
Hermione chuckles quietly, "Sorry, it's just I don't feel quite as comfortable with these people as I did before. Everything is so different now. Not that it's worse, it's just different."
"Mmm, we were always a little different though, just try to have a little fun, would you? It's your first night off in almost 4 months" He smiles gives her hand a brotherly squeeze before disappearing into the crowd again.
As she watches her best friend wander off, the door opens slightly and a hand pulls her swiftly outside. Letting out a quiet shriek she looks around the empty garden and sees that the hand that pulled her was Ron.
"It's weird isn't it" Ron says sheepishly running his hands through his hair "Being around all our old friends and what not, after all that's happened this year"
Hermione simply nods, still regaining her bearings from the surprise.
"It looked like you could use some air…" he says quietly, stuffing his hands into his pockets
"I definitely needed some, just didn't want to be rude, we should get back though," she says gesturing towards the noisy room.
"Oh come on, just stay with me a little longer?" he asks quietly "We've barely had time alone in the past four months, and so much has happened, don't you think we should talk?"
She shrugs "Do you? Do you want to?" sitting down slowly on a bench placed under a tree.
"Err, yeah," sitting down next to her, "Ellie went to sleep alright tonight?"
"She did." She replies simply, fussing with the ends of her hair.
"Right, well I'll get to the point then." He says frankly, wishing silently that things could just be normal between them.
"I think that'd be a lovely idea" she says, getting rather impatient
"Truth is, I love our daughter more than anything in the world, and even though it was hard for us this year, I would never have changed any of it."
"Me neither" Hermione replies the corners of her mouth turning up in a smile.
"That's not all…" he says quietly turning towards her "I love you just as much, and I always have, even when we were broken up, I never stopped."
Oh, umm, ok" she responds looking surprised. She stands up suddenly "I'll, um, be right back…I have to get err something."
She rushes inside, pushing past throngs of people and running up the many flights of stairs. Tears began to fall down her blushing cheeks and she feels as though her stomach is in her feet and her lungs are caving in. She reaches the door and opens it quickly, to reveal her red-headed baby girl sleeping soundly in the small weathered crib. She collapses into the rocking chair by the window and hugs her knees to her chest, crying silently. Looking past the lacy blinds framing the small glass pane, she sees the two men she cares about most talking in the garden where she had been just moments before. They had all grown up so much in the past year and the fact that she was now getting everything she could ever hoped for, after so much had gone wrong in her life scared her.
The door creaks open again, and a tall dark-haired wizard steps through and sits on the floor next to her. He wipes away her tears gently and looks up at her.
"What happened? This is what you wanted, remember?" He whispers to his best friend.
She nods and sobs, trying to be quiet due to the sleeping baby " I just…I got scared…whenever things seem to be going great with me and Ron they just…sniffle something always happens"
"Listen to me. Something does always happen, your baby happened, he loves you to death, that happened. Things happen, just let yourself love him back. Just let that happen." He smiles at her "Now, I'm not profound very often so just accept that I'm smarter for once." He stands up and holds out his hand for her
"Ok, I'm ready." She wipes her nose, ungracefully on the back of her hand and puts her other hand in Harry's "Thank you, you're such a good friend to me, I really don't deserve it"
"Oh, nonsense, you always deserve it, and what would you do if I weren't around to save you all the time" He says winking at her and leading her out of the room.
She follows her best friend downstairs and slips out the back door to find the tall red-headed father of her child still sitting where she had left him. She plops next to him and sighs.
"My turn to talk. I love you too, I want to spend forever with you, have lots more children, get married, not necessarily in that order. You're my best friend and I just love you." She spits out in one breath. "Ok, that's all."
Ron looks at her, a smile quickly enveloping his face, "Oh Hell, Hermione, you always make me worry like that," laughing and pulling her into a kiss.
At almost the same moment the lights of the house flicker and a dull sound of applause erupts from the crowded abode leading the couple to collapse with laughter and kiss again to satisfy the encore requests.