Disclaimer : The Harry Potter characters in this story belong to J.K. Rowling. Many thanks to her for letting them roam about in the world I created for a bit.
PROLOGUE – Years Gone By
It's funny, you know, how people tend to throw cliché remarks about when they really don't know what else to say. 'My, how time flies…' 'You don't know what you've got…' 'In a perfect world…' Well, you get the drift. Most of the time it is unnerving and irksome to have these phrases thrown haphazardly at you. Sometimes, though, you need to sit back and laugh at the irony and absurdity of the statements. At least, that's what I have had to do in order to keep my sanity after all the I've had to endure throughout the years that should've resulted in its loss.
I know that mostly the 'time flies' cliché is used with sarcastic undertones implying that because things weren't fun, time seemed to drag on. But, in actuality, time flies when your not having fun as well. However, it usually doesn't became apparent how much time has past until you are looking back and realize the years have flown by in what simply felt like minutes or hours.
For example, even though it seems like only yesterday, it has been ten years, ten months and two days since a bushy-haired, slightly buck-toothed, know-it-all, eleven-year-old witch exited the train compartment on the Hogwarts Express that I was sharing with the boy who would quickly become my best mate only to remark, almost as a second thought, that I had dirt on my nose. It wasn't quite two months later that I was helping to save her from a mountain troll that had been set loose in the school. The act secured her as a best mate as well, and the "Golden Trio" was born.
It has been seven years, six months and fourteen days since I truly looked at the same know-it-all witch only to find that she wasn't just my other best mate but that she was my girl best mate. That revelation not only excited me beyond belief but terrified me more than I had ever been (and with the adventures that I had shared with my friends up to that point, that was really saying something). Then one year, six months and three days later, I came to my senses only to find her lying unconscious on the cold floor of the Ministry of Magic. I was sure at that moment that she was dead and gone from me forever. I felt as I had never felt before. My heart felt like it was caught in the grip of that same mountain troll that I helped save her from and my chest felt as though it was being sat on by the largest hippogriff the Wizarding World had ever seen. For the first time in my school-age life, I cried in public and the only thought that was in my mind was that she was gone and I'd never get to tell her that I loved her. I was so distraught that I didn't even flinch at the self-admission.
It was five years and four days ago that I finally did just that…told her I loved her. We had spent most of the previous several months not speaking to one another, which had only ended due to a near death experience of my own. Then not long after we were finally on speaking terms again, tragedy struck and Dumbledore was gone. We still talked, but our conversations were more somber. The afternoon after we had attended Dumbledore's funeral, she stopped speaking not only to me but to everyone once we arrived at King's Cross only to receive the news that her house had been attacked that morning by Death Eaters and her parents had been murdered. We took her home to the Burrow where Mum set her up in the twin's old room. For three days and three nights, she didn't move from the bed. She didn't eat nor drink let alone speak to anyone. To my knowledge, she didn't even shed a tear. Just simply lay in shock staring at the wall.
On the fourth night, I had just drifted off to sleep and was working into quite an inappropriate dream about the brightest witch of our age when the clicking of my door being shut startled me out of my slumber. The only thing that stopped me from sitting bolt upright once my eyes shot open was seeing the silhouette of said witch being illuminated by the moonlight filtering in through my small bedroom window. She moved toward me slowly, almost as if she was floating, but never made eye contact. She silently pulled back my bedcovers and climbed in next to me, resting her head on my chest. My mind was reeling frantically trying to decide whether this was reality or fantasy, when the matter was decided for me as I felt her shoulders begin to shudder and heard the sobs escaping her. My arms immediately went around her as she clutched at me like a lifeline and sobbed days worth of anguish. I don't know how long we lay there crying together until she calmed and was on the verge of sleep. Before her exhaustion took her, she worked her arms partially under my back and gave me the best hug she could in the position that we were in then got up and left my room as quietly as she had come in. The next day she was asleep every time I checked on here but Mum had reassured me that she was fine and that she had finally eaten a bit throughout the day.
That night she came into my room again much in the same fashion as the night before. She crawled into my bed, but this time into my waiting arms and began to cry her heart out. This night my eyes filled with tears at her pain but I didn't cry as I had the night before. I held her tightly with my right arm while my left hand gently stroked her hair and back in the comforting sort of way. She didn't cry as long this night, and when she calmed once again, she sat up and wiped away the tears. I expected her to leave as she did the previous night, but then she surprised me when she took hold of my left hand with hers and intertwined our fingers. She made eye contact with me for the first time in days before she lay back down on her side facing away from me, effectively pulling me onto my right side so that I was facing her back with my left arm wrapped around her. Now my left hand was being held onto by both of her tiny hands and she was gently stroking the back of my hand with her thumbs. Time suddenly stopped. I had once told her that one person couldn't feel so many things at one time or they would explode. In that moment, I was proved wrong because I felt happy, scared, nervous, confused and even slightly aroused. I read so much into that one simple act that I prayed to whomever listens that I wasn't wrong. Eventually her breathing evened out and I knew she had fallen asleep. It was mere minutes after she dozed off that I fell asleep only to awake the next morning alone.
The third night she ventured into my room she changed my life forever. Once again, every time I checked on her that day, she was sleeping. By the time I crawled into bed that evening, I was a nervous wreck because all I could think of was how I had feigned sleep when Lavender came to see me when I was in the hospital wing only months before. I just knew that I had completely misunderstood my friends actions the night before and that she, too, was faking being asleep so that she wouldn't have to face me with an excuse about how it was a mistake coming to me at night. After I extinguished the lights, I was lying there muttering under my breath about how stupid I was when my bedroom door opened, and I was once again blessed with the presence of the only girl, no woman, I've ever loved. As with the previous two evenings, she silently climbed into my bed and into my arms and rest her left cheeked on my chest. Also as with the previous nights, my right arm wrapped protectively around her waist and my left hand began smoothing her long, curly hair. Unlike the two nights before, she didn't begin sobbing. I knew that she was crying because I could feel the wetness begin to gather on my T-shirt, but she wasn't shuddering from the intense sobs as she had previously. I just continued to lay there enjoying the feel of her in my arms, slowly drifting to sleep when the sound of her voice startled me.
"They're gone, Ron. Oh, Merlin! They're really , really gone!"
I felt my heart wrench. It had been days since I had heard that lovely voice of hers, and now when I was finally hearing it again, it was only to hear such intense grief and sorrow. And then came the sobbing. I grasped her a little tighter, stroked her hair a little quicker and said the only thing I could think to say.
"I'm sorry, love. I'm so, so sorry."
She continued to cry a bit longer as I worked to calm her with my touch, never once giving a second thought to the endearment that I had just used. Moments later she spoke again.
"They were the only family I had and now they're gone. The were my only family and in the last six years, I don't think that I spent a total of a year with them. I can't even remember the last time I told them I loved them. What if they didn't think that I loved them?"
"Don't be silly, love. They knew you loved them, and it's obvious that they loved you very much because they supported who you are. I'm sure they missed you greatly, but they understood how important this life, in our world, means to you." Even thinking back, I can't believe that I was so articulate. "And as far as you not having any family left, well you'll always have me." I had truly intended to say that she had me and my family and Harry, of course, but it was as if my mouth stopped taking orders from my brain in the brief second.
She sat up and made eye contact with me for only the second time in days. However, it was more than simple eye contact. She was staring into my eyes, searching them as if to find the declaration to accompany such a bold statement. All I can say, is what she was hoping to find there must've been present because she leaned down and pressed her soft lips gently to mine. It was really such a chaste kiss that part of my mind started to question whether it had really happened because when I focused back on her, she was looking deep in my eyes once again. I opened my mouth to speak but there was nothing there. My mind couldn't wrap around a single thought to verbalize. I watched a tear escaper her right eye and begin to slip slowly down her cheek. I could see now the anguish on her face that had nothing to do with the loss of her parents. She was surely thinking that she had made a grave mistake. I needed to fix things quickly. I reached up to gently wipe the tear away with my thumb and when my skin made contact with hers, it was very clear what needed to be said.
"I love you."
Her eyes widened, and she gasped slightly. She obviously hadn't been expecting that. A little part of me was chastising myself for saying it, but another part just kept insisting that it needed to be said no matter the consequences. Then there were no thoughts at all because her mouth was covering mine in the most passionate kiss I had ever received. Quickly the kissed moved from passionate to desperate. When it became necessary to breathe she said the two words that changed everything between us.
This time my eyes widened in shock, and I frantically was searching hers for answers. I didn't think she could possibly be saying what my body was hoping she was saying. For Merlin's sake, she was grieving, she surely wasn't asking me to…She must've read the uncertainty in my stare because she whispered the four words I needed for absolute clarification.
"Make love to me."
"Are you sure?" I needed further clarification, apparently. It just didn't seem right that she wanted to have sex when her parents had been brutally murdered only six days ago. Later in life, I learned that some people turn to physical comfort to try to wash away the pain of loss.
"Are you really sure?"
This time she answered with another deep, passionate kiss.
"I…I've never…" I couldn't believe that I was admitting it, but I needed her to know. We had never breached the subject after the Lavender fiasco, but I needed her to know that I hadn't gone there with her; that unlike some teenage blokes, the act was to mean something more to me.
"I love you, Ron. It's only ever been you."
That statement was what did it for me; what broke the last of my resolve to hold back. She had voiced the exact reason why this boundary had never been crossed with Lavender, because for me, it had only ever been her as well. I made love to her that night. No, we made love to one another. We shared our first time together and though, I know it wasn't great, it was perfect because it was two people who were so deeply in love sharing years worth of pent up emotions. The next morning, I awoke to find her still in my arms nuzzling into my neck. At that moment, all was right in this crazy world.
Four years, eleven months and eighteen days ago (or sixteen days after our first night together), everything in the world became anything but right. A plan had been uncovered that indicated that Voldemort needed the love of my life (okay so she was Harry Potter's best friend and smartest witch of the age) in order to defeat Harry, and he indicated that he would stop at nothing before he had her. The Order had devised a plan of their own to keep her safe, and although it tore me up inside, I supported her one hundred percent when she agreed that it was best. It had been decided that her memories, all her memories since the age of eleven, would be removed and replaced with alternate memories; she would be removed from the country and placed into a safe house with her secret guarded by only one person; her memories would be stored in an unbreakable vial and would be returned to her once the war was over. Nymphadora Tonks was chosen as her secret keeper and I the guardian of her memories. The evening before she left we spent until dawn crying and making love and napping occasionally. The morning she left, I told her I loved her and that I'd see her again soon. That afternoon, Remus Lupin returned to the Burrow with the vial that I now carry attached to a chain around my neck.
Three years, eight months and twenty four days ago, Tonks was killed at the battle of Hogsmeade and with her died the location of the safe house my one and only love had been placed in. Three years, six months and two days ago the war ended with the defeat of Voldemort. For once the cliché was right. 'Good shall prevail.'
For one year, two months and nine days, Harry and I searched the world over, but never found our best mate. I had promised him that if we hadn't found her in a year, I would return home with him and join the Auror program as we had originally planned. He gave me the extra sixty-eight days because he just couldn't bare to give up either.
One year, four months and nineteen days ago, I became a fully trained Auror. Six days ago, I arrived in the States on the first mission that Harry and I are to co-lead. Although, we have given up our official search, I keep telling myself that one day I'll round a corner and there she'll be, still bushy-haired, bright eyed and as brilliant as ever.
So yes, the phrase goes 'You don't know what you've got until its gone.' Well I knew exactly what I had even before I had it, and I definitely didn't need her to be gone to know that I'd never love anyone like I loved her. But as it is, she is gone, and I think about what we had every damned day.
I guess in a perfect world, she'd be in my arms right now. In a perfect world, the only key to her return wouldn't have been brutally raped and murdered by that vicious werewolf Greyback. In a perfect world, she would've never had to leave in the first place. Hell, in a perfect world, I'd still be able to say her name, but then again, I suppose in a perfect world, there wouldn't be a story to be told.