Chapter 23: Pen-Pal Disclosure

AN: Congratulations lilredheadgirl28! You figured it out! Nutcracker!!!

AN 2009: Okay, I know it has been awhile, but with any luck I will have posted this chapter on a very special weekend. Anyone guess why?!! That is, if I succeed…and I added a clue!


Last chapter…

"I…I made a mistake. I wanted to meet you, but these circumstances were made because I was hurting. I hurt someone, too. You see, all these years your letters really meant a lot to me, but then I met someone. I told you about her, the transfer student who became Head Girl. I fell in love with her. But then I mucked it all up. That's why I sent you that last letter. I wasn't being fair to either of you. I know I feel something deep for you, but I have come to realize that I am in love with Hermione. Hermione Granger. I know you may never forgive me for this, but I had to tell you. She probably still hates me right now, but the truth is I love her so deeply that I cannot meet you like this. I…I am truly sorry. I just hope you will one day forgive me. Goodbye, Maria."

With that Ron turned to leave.

"Don't go." Her voice whispered.

Ron froze. He knew that voice. That tender, sweet voice. He turned around and watched as Maria shed her cloak. It was Hermione.

He felt paralyzed. Dozens of thoughts ran through his head. Maria. Her letters. Hermione. Both hated flying. Both had boyfriends but didn't at the beginning of this year. Both didn't seem to have friends the first couple of school years. Both helped him and Harry throughout their adventures. Both were brilliant.

"It was you!" He gasped.

Tears poured out of her eyes. "It was always me."

"I…I…" Ron then closed the distance between them and he threw his arms around her, embracing her tightly. "I've been in love with the same girl all this time! I fell in love with you…twice!"

"Oh, Ron! Will you ever forgive me?" She said looking up at him, happy to be in his arms but the tears kept forming and falling down her face. It was clean, but scratches still skimmed the surface from the battle.

"I don't care about that! You're you…you're Maria…you're here!"

He then kissed her passionately. Hermione met his kiss boldly and ran her hands fiercely through his red locks. "I thought you might hate me…." She whispered in between kisses. "I thought you...I wanted to tell you so many times!"

Ron stopped and looked at her, placing his hands on either side of her face. "Why didn't you?"

The tears continued, both of happiness and regret. "I couldn't! I promised Dumbledore. He made me take a vow never to tell, but the vow was to end once Voldemort was destroyed. And now the vow is no more."

"I love you, Hermione. I might not like Dumbledore much right now, but you're here…in my arms…"

"Dumbledore knew what he was doing, Ron. I don't know if I understand it all yet, but I never wanted to betray you."

"You didn't, love." He stopped and kissed her again. "Hermione…I'm so sorry…about before…"

"Don't be, Ron. Just…I know it's too much to ask you to understand, but I made a mistake. I know that." She didn't need to say what had been her mistake. "I love you. I'm so in love with you, and then I was so devastated…and then you protected me in the battle…"

"I knew then, Hermione. I knew at that moment that you were the one. You've always been the one. I love you."

He kissed her again. But this time the kisses led to more.

"Hermione…"

"Make love to me." She whispered, taking the words from him.

"I want you so terribly."

"Me too."

"We can't, Hermione. I want you, but not…I'm not ready yet."

She smiled at him. "I will wait as long as you need."

She kissed his neck, causing him to groan. I don't think you'll be waiting long, love, he thought to himself.

They kissed some more, before Hermione stepped back. She smiled at him weakly, mostly from the battle but also from his mind blowing kisses.

"I want to show you something," She said with a whisper.

Ron gulped.

"Not that, you prat," She said laughing a bit. "I finally have become an animagus. I…I want you to be the first to see me."

Ron grinned. "You did it? You really…"

She nodded. "Yes, but only once. Just after Charlie left when he was training me."

"Once is all you need, love. You can do anything. You are the most brilliant witch…person…I have ever met. Maybe even read about."

She stepped toward the middle of the balcony and concentrated. Her form started changing, not as fast as those more practiced, but soon Ron was staring at the most beautiful eagle he had ever seen. She fluttered a bit and then began to fly, circling him at first before finally lunging out into the open night's sky. The eagle screeched powerfully out into the night, then returned to the balcony where she changed back.

"That was…"

"Amazing! I can't tell you how brilliant it is to finally fly!"

Ron chuckled. "Only you would find a more easy way…well, not for others…to fly."

He went over and wrapped his arms around her again. "You're beautiful, Hermione Granger."

"So are you, Ronald Weasley."

They held each other that way for some time, then cuddled in a corner snogging in the most romantic way until the sun appeared.


The next morning (Saturday) was all abuzz and those who occupied Hogwarts were laughing and cheering, despite still being exhausted from the night before. Draco was currently sitting with Luna on his lap as they helped feed each other, Ginny and Harry were talking with some excited first and second years from all the houses, and Lavender was missing as she was helping Madame Pomfrey with those still in the hospital wing, which is where Ron and Hermione were intending to go next. Most of all was the feeling that everything was going to be fine.

People could live their lives with Voldemort no longer a threat. All was right.

Except for Ron, who had a gift for Hermione. No one else seemed to remember, but he did.

Later on that afternoon, he took Hermione out toward the forest. They walked until they were in clearing; that is where Aumon was waiting for them.

Aumon was standing in the clearing near a small stream. He smiled as he watched the two approach, their hands held tightly together. He knew then that Ron had finally found his heart. Yet he knew all along about the secret of Maria and their destiny to be together.

"Hermione," Ron said placing his hand on her back and gently coaxing her forward. "This is Aumon. He helped train me. In more ways than one I learned much from him."

Aumon bowed before the girl. "It is an honor to finally meet you."

Hermione curtsied, lowering her head as well. She knew it was expected, yet hardly minded.

"And I you," she answered. "Your service and those of your people in our cause was beyond…" Suddenly she felt a loss of words, a first for her. "I…I am sorry for your loss."

"And I for those of Hogwarts and the Order that lost theirs or are still in recovery."

Hermione nodded.

"It was beyond honor, it was destined for us to help, as it was all the great creatures of this forest." Aumon continued. "Our legend was also at risk, and the Dark Lord needed to be defeated. There are times when all must come together to overpower the darkness that looms over them."

Hermione nodded again. "Yes,…"

"And you, you are the other one as well. You don't know how much this poor lad was suffering over his feelings for what he thought was two women." He chuckled with that, while Ron turned red.

"Aumon, you said you had something for us to see. I brought…" He turned to Hermione while shuffling in his pocket. "Hermione, happy Valentine's Day."

Hermione looked at him in surprise. She, like everyone else had forgotten all about the holiday. "Ron, you didn't have to," She said as he brought out a small rectangular box.

"I saw it and knew it was meant for you." He said. "Then I…we have another surprise for you."

Aumon nodded as Hermione looked at the centaur curiously.

Hermione gently unwrapped the box and felt her heart beating rapidly as she lifted the lid. All thoughts and beats stopped suddenly as she saw what lay in a cushion in side the box.

Inside lay a delicate chain woven in dragon gold, the pendant that was attached was a crystal spiral shaped much like a horn. Inside lay dried petals of some flower she didn't recognize along with dragon gold dust.

"It is the flower of the unicorn. You will be among friends should you ever get lost or feel sorrow. The unicorns will hear you silent call and one shall come to you. That brings us to your other gift. Ron?"

Ron took both Hermione's hands in his after he helped her put the necklace on. "Where did you get this?" She asked.

"I found the pendant, then Aumon had the petals put in. It was empty you see, the shop keeper said it should be filled with something special. I know how much you love animals and creatures of all sorts, so I went to Aumon. Before the battle, he went to the Unicorn Queen. She gave it with her blessing."

Hermione was in awe. She did not think any other gift could compare to this. "You said there was something else?"

Ron smiled. "Aumon is going to let us ride him." He turned to Aumond.

"We're going to the middle of the forest where the Unicorn Queen and the Centaur King will be gathered with their herds. We are to spend the day with them."

Hermione nearly squealed with delight, and jumped up and down with excitement.

The two men laughed, and then Ron helped her up on Aumon, then got on himself.

"Aumon?" Ron asked. "Lead the way!"

With that Aumon galloped with the two riding on him deep into the forest.

This was truly the greatest moment of her life, Hermione thought. Although she would have to put another memory to tie in that place when Ron asked her to marry him exactly one year later.


***Epilogue***

Ron and Hermione were married shortly after their engagement. Harry and Ginny joined them in a double marriage.

Draco and Luna followed just a few months later, choosing a winter wedding. Many joked they chose the season to match their bright blonde hair.

Hermione became a lawyer and advocate for magical creature's rights. Ron declined an auror position, instead he worked with his brothers on their successful line of joke shops. They had two children, Rose and Hugo.

Harry became an auror after all, while Ginny played quidditch professionally for three years before the birth of her first child. They had three children, James, Albus, and Lily.

Draco and Luna had one son, Scorpius, who quickly fell in love with Rose and their parents knew they would be destined for each other.

Perhaps the strangest friendship that came from the war was Hermione and Lavender. After school finished Lavender went on to become a therapist, for children, as she'd mentioned to Hermione the first time they really talked. While preparing for Hermione's wedding, Lavender came to take Hermione to lunch. There she met Hermione's boss, a widow who had lost his wife to the war. He had two children, one in her first year at Hogwarts. It was love at first site.

Hermione was the only person granted permission to write the official tell-all book on Harry Potter and the final destruction of Lord Voldemort. As Harry said, if anyone knew books it was Hermione. And she was his best friend, so of course she should be the one to write the book.

After watching the Chudley Cannons lose too many times, Ron started his very own Quidditch team: The Roaring Centaurs. His coach and financial partner? None other than Victor Krum, who Ron also assisted.