Chapter 17 – Epilogue
One year later…
"I HATE YOU RONALD WEASLEY… I HATE YOU, AND I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN..." Hermione screamed at the top of her lungs.
The past year flashed before Ron's eyes.
The first week had been hazy at best. He had a particularly amusing memory of having to transfigure a pair of Hermione's knickers into a glass of water because they were the closest thing on hand and he simply didn't have the strength to get up. He remembered feeling the desperate need to be with her at all times, touching her in some way even if it was just to hold her hand. As if she might disappear if he looked away even for a moment.
They had talked and ate and slept and laughed a little more during the second week, trusting that they were in fact together. Life took on a sense of normalcy… an existence of companionship and loving that Ron could easily get used to.
When he finally had to report for practice, the thought of leaving their safe haven terrified him. The Harriers had given him a Portkey, so he could easily make the trek every day and be back home with her by evening. It was just that the idea of being away from her scared the willies out of him. What if she changed her mind about him while he was at practice?
The big test came when he had his first away games, and was gone for three days straight. He wasn't sure what he was going to come home to, but what he found was the last thing he had expected. He'd barely made it through the door when he was tackled to the ground and kissed fervently all over his face and neck. It was the best welcome home he'd ever received. They'd made love right there on the living room floor. Thank Merlin he had the good sense to knock the flat's door closed.
His favourite past time was watching her sleep. He'd brush the hair from her forehead, or run his finger along the cool skin of her arm mesmerized by the gentle rise and fall of her breath. She was beautiful. He really was the luckiest wizard in the world.
It was during one of these nocturnal moments of appreciation when her eyes fluttered open and she silently stared up at him. She didn't look scared or confused or shocked that he was watching her. She simply fixed him with a steady, open, loving gaze, and he knew.
"Marry me?" He whispered.
After a moment of searching his eyes, she wordlessly reached up and wrapped her hand around the nape of his neck. She pulled him to her, but before their lips met he felt her mouth breath against his. "Yes."
He saw stars in that moment. Quite literally, stars flashed behind his eyelids.
He knew everyone else would think it was a bit of a rush. It had only been a month and a half since Harry and Gin's wedding but in all fairness they had known each other since they were eleven. Ron didn't want to wait another day. Thirteen years of knowing and loving someone was long enough.
Ron really couldn't wait, and so, after a mad whirlwind of an engagement and wedding preparations, they were married only a month later on a villa in the south of Italy belonging to Roberto's family. It wasn't a big wedding with only the families and a few close friends in attendance.
As unhappy as Mrs. Weasley was with the arrangements - she would have much preferred they returned to the Burrow to be married - she couldn't argue that the villa and its vast grounds were perfect. Ron, on the other hand, could only see Hermione. His memories of that day were filled up with visions of her in her cream coloured sundress and flowers strewn throughout her loosely flowing hair. Whether she was laughing or crying, she was the most wonderful miracle to grace his unworthy existence.
Ron could not have been happier. He had the best life in his estimation: The love of a smart, gorgeous witch; an amazing career with an incredible team that would be playing against the Vratsa Vultures in the European Finales; a loving, supportive family; and a fantastic flat in Italy no less.
It was all too good to be true. That's when everything went loopy. They'd been married less than a month when their lives were inexorably turned upside down.
Hermione's shrieking voice cut through Ron's memories of the time.
"I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU… I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DID THIS TO ME… "
She grabbed the water pitcher off the table, and hurled it at him. He
ducked and it narrowly missed his head crashing against the wall behind
Ron anxiously hovered in the corner of the room thanking Merlin and all of the Gods that Hermione's wand was nowhere in sight.
She began to sob uncontrollably, and placed her hands over her face.
Edging his way forward, he tentatively called to her. "Hermione… love…"
She dropped her hands into her lap, but refused to look at him and only began to wail louder.
He sat down, and took her hands in his own. "Hermione, I know you think you want me gone, but… but I love you more than anything in the entire world. And I wouldn't leave you for all the galleons in Gringotts. You're stuck with me."
"Ron, I just can't do this…" She whimpered.
A voice across the way broke through. "Hermione, it's time to start pushing again."
Her eyes widened in fear, and she grabbed for him. "RON… I can't… I just can't…"
He tried to sooth her. "'Mione, Elora wants to meet her baby sister."
"Ron, Elora is ten minutes old. She doesn't know what she wants." Hermione countered.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, and leaned his forehead against her sweat soaked temple. "'Mione, you are the strongest woman I have ever known. You can do it."
She turned to him, and he saw the tears brimming in her eyes. He cupped her cheek, and as he gingerly kissed her, her small hand covered his.
A tired smile flitted across her lips as she drew in a deep breath, and he knew she was steeling herself for the struggle ahead.
Merlin, he loved this woman.
If anyone had told him a little over a year ago that he would be madly in love with Hermione, married to her, and having beautiful twin girls, he'd tell them they were barking mad.
He would have ranted and railed that she was a nightmare. That if he never saw her again, it wouldn't be long enough. That he hated her with a passion.
'What a difference a day makes.' He mused to himself.
That was all it took. One day. One minute really.
'Hate' was indeed a powerful word, but it was just that… a word. 'Love' was by far the strongest force in the universe. It could stop wars. It could overthrow evil, maniacal Dark Lords. It could even get a silly prat to see what was right in front of him.
Yes, 'Hate' was powerful, but 'Love' was everything.