BONDED

Chapter 1 Not Long Enough

Depending on the circumstances, six years could be a very long time. For instance, six years in prison could feel like a lifetime, whereas six years of peace can pass in the blink of an eye. Such was the case on this day. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, along with twenty other Aurors, stood in front of a remote farmhouse gaping at the sky. A Dark Mark like no other was burning brightly, directly over the modest home. It had been six years since anything like this had happened.

Six years had not been long enough.

It was with sweaty palms and anxious stomachs that Harry and Ron responded to the urgent call. Harry was reluctant to believe that it was an actual Dark Mark. He desperately hoped that he had received the message incorrectly.

Upon arrival, however, it was the first thing he saw, except this Dark Mark did not bear the sickly green tint that all others carried. This one shone bright red.

"What do you think that means?" Ron asked, swallowing thickly yet his jaw was set firmly.

Harry simply shrugged. He was unable to speak at the moment. His mind was turning over too many questions. Voldemort was dead. He knew it. He was there when it happened. And more importantly, he had killed him! After the final Horcrux was destroyed, killing Voldemort was like killing any other wizard...any other extremely powerful, diabolically evil wizard…meaning it was a fight for his very soul, but he had succeeded.

"Potter! Weasley! Get in here!" Harry and Ron moved immediately at the command of their Chief Auror. As if the Dark Mark itself didn't indicate the importance of this situation, the fact that their chief was in the field certainly did.

Harry had to close his eyes for a split second against the scene that greeted him once he stepped over the threshold. As much as Harry had seen throughout his lifetime, most of it through the eyes of a child, he had never seen anything like this. Upon entering the home, they found the mutilated bodies of a man and woman.

The man lay slumped at the dinner table with a vast amount of blood pooling around him, covering the table like a sickly red tablecloth. Harry had never seen so much blood. One of the Aurors gave his wand a flick and the man's body arched back gracefully, showing that his throat had been slit. He looked to be every bit of eighty years old and Harry thought it disgusting to use such harsh methods to do away with someone who appeared so feeble. He gritted his teeth as he and Ron moved on.

Further into the kitchen, the woman lay on the floor, face down. Again, it looked as though she had been bled completely. Another Auror flicked her wand and the woman's body rolled over slightly to reveal that her throat had been cut as well. She looked to be in her fifties, but it was hard to tell with the amount of blood covering her face. Harry was beyond perplexed by this. Wizards did not need to resort to such grotesque methods to murder. In fact, most wizards who would do such a thing as this would consider themselves above such messy, Muggle means of disposing of someone.

Harry felt Ron leave his side, but he was too busy taking in everything to wonder where Ron was going. This was just odd. Harry crouched down by the woman, studying the position in which she lay. To fall face down as she had, the killer would have been behind her if a knife was used. He wondered if she had been trying to run away. If the killer used a wand, then the woman would have been facing her attacker. That must have been terrifying for her. Harry empathized, having had many wands pointed at him with the intent to end his life.

Harry flicked his wand and the woman's body rolled over slowly until she was lying on her back. Her face was completely covered with blood making it near impossible to get a clear look at her but Harry was more concerned with her fatal wound at the moment. He leaned forward and fixed intense eyes on her slashed throat.

"What are you looking at?" came a gruff voice from Harry's left. He didn't need to look up to know that it was Gunther Douglas, a fifteen year veteran of the Auror force. He was an extremely stocky man. Everything about him was thick, including his brain, Harry often thought.

Douglas needed special order robes because his neck was as thick as most people's waist. A hearty mop of dirty blonde hair sat upon his head and it always appeared as if he'd just stepped out of a shower and simply towel dried it. This was because he was constantly sweating, no matter how cold it was outside. Douglas thought everyone was an idiot, everyone except himself, of course.

"Her neck," Harry answered bluntly, still carefully surveying the wound. He saw no need to go into detail with Douglas.

"I can see that, but why?" the older man added. Harry could tell by his tone that he was only asking because he thought Harry was wasting time. Douglas made no secret of the fact that he thought Harry, and Ron too for that matter, were playing at being Aurors.

Usually Harry was good at ignoring the man, whereas Ron always managed to get into a shouting match with him. Tonight, Harry was not in the mood to deal with his condescending attitude.

"Do you see how straight this cut is? Means it was made by a wand."

"Oh really, and you're sure of that? I can't see a real wizard dealing with all this mess." He crossed his beefy arms authoritatively, before continuing. "It had to have been a Muggle using one of their primitive weapons!" Douglas looked around him as if the very air was contaminating him. Harry had long ago suspected that the Auror bought into all that pureblood propaganda but Douglas wasn't a total bludger head, he had never said so out loud.

"Primitive weapons? I'd like to see you manage to get your wand out against an automatic machine gun. You'd be riddled with holes before your tiny brain could even form a counter curse." Harry stood and stared the shorter man down for a second, then continued.

"It was not a Muggle, or have you forgotten the enormous Dark Mark outside? Not to mention a knife could never leave a wound so clean," Harry finished, thinking that he had effectively shut Douglas up, however, that was not to be.

Douglas stepped close and lowered his voice.

"You think you're so clever, Potter, but I know the truth about you!" Douglas breathed heavily through his hairy nose.

"Oh yeah? Do tell, I'm surely in need of enlightenment." Harry would have laughed if the scene around him hadn't been so horrid.

"The truth is, people only think you know what you're doing because you got lucky once!" Harry had to snort at that…once! "And they only like you because you are the famous Harry Potter! You don't know it was a wizard who did this. True, one would have conjured the mark, but there is no way you can tell whether it was a knife or a wand that killed these people, but if you say it, everyone will believe you, whether you can prove it or not!"

"Is that so?" Harry asked and was behind Douglas in a flash with his wand to the hefty man's throat like a knife. Douglas gave a shout and began to struggle, but Harry held him firmly with his free arm gripped across the shorter man's forehead so he could bend his head back and expose his stumpy neck.

"Hey…what's going on here?" one of the Aurors asked, causing the small group that was in the house to turn their attention on the two men.

"GET OFF ME!" Douglas shouted.

"Just trying to show Douglas here, why these murders were committed by a wand and not a knife," Harry said calmly, and there was a collective, 'Oh,' from the group. Then they all seemed to settle back to watch the demonstration, much to Douglas' dismay.

"You all just gonna' stand there and let him threaten my life?" the man continued his struggle, but it was in vain. Harry was wiry, limber, younger and stronger.

"Oh pipe down, Douglas!" shouted Tonks from the other room. "Go on, Harry."

"Thanks," Harry smirked. "As you can see, the wounds on the throats are so clean they are almost cauterized." Harry paused to tighten his grip on Douglas' broad head.

"If the killer had been using a knife, the cut would've been jagged. The struggle alone would insure that, since, as you can see, no one will stand still and simply let you cut their throat." At this, Douglas tried to calm himself in what seemed to be an attempt to further prove Harry wrong. Harry smirked, again.

"Even still, if for some reason the person wasn't struggling, there would be a downward ark or an upward one, depending on the killer's height." Harry paused, then swiped his wand across Douglas' throat in a dramatic fashion, leaving a glowing blue streak across his neck that was slightly raised on the right side. Harry had mumbled a spell just as he simulated slicing Douglas' throat so a trail would be left by his wand.

"See, my cut would be upward because I'm much taller." He released Douglas and the man stepped away from him quickly, giving the rest of the occupants in the room a deadly glare as he furiously rubbed his neck until the blue line was gone.

"Well done, Harry." Tonks had come up beside him and whispered at his shoulder. "Too bad it was only a demonstration," she finished and Harry snorted.

"BLOODY HELL!" A shout rang out. Harry knew it was Ron's voice instantly and was already moving in his direction.

He stepped up beside his mate and gaped in horror at the sight before him. Ron had apparently opened a large storage cupboard and found the body of a young girl. She looked to be in her late teens, maybe nineteen. Harry was unable to blink as he stared at her limp form hanging from a large hook on the back wall.

She had loads of dark hair that completely obscured her face and hung wildly about her shoulders as if she had been in a struggle for her life. For a brief moment, Harry thought she wore a red blouse and matching socks, but upon closer inspection, they were simply soaked in blood.

He looked to the floor and saw that she was hanging over a pool of her own blood. Without warning, her head rose slowly, causing Ron to clutch Harry's sleeve with an iron grip. Then he let out an audible sigh of relief when he realized that Tonks had simply flicked her wand to raise the girl's head. She too had her throat cut. Harry looked over at his friend when he still hadn't released his grip. Ron was stark white and he had a dazed look in his eyes.

"All right, mate?" Harry asked as he pried Ron's grip from his sleeve.

"What? Oh, yeah…yeah. I'm fine." Ron tore his eyes way from the girl and turned to leave the other Aurors to the scene.

"Potter! Weasley!" Their chief called to them and they moved with haste. Abraham Weinpret had only been made Chief Auror three years ago, however, his imposing demeanor, booming voice and undeniable skill had him commanding respect from every single member of the Ministry.

Chief Weinpret was a tall man in his late fifties, one of the only people Harry knew who could look down on Ron, with the exception of Hagrid. He was extremely handsome with his wavy brown hair and deep silver eyes. Harry had often seen women nearly swoon as he walked by. Ginny and Hermione had even gawked at their first introduction. But the man was oblivious to any of this, not so much because he was happily married, but more so because he simply didn't entertain such trivial behavior.

His head was always held high, although not in an arrogant way but rather because he needed to be aware of his surroundings. Harry quickly noticed that this man always moved with purpose. No fumbling, awkward gestures would ever dare be made by him and Harry found that he liked Chief Weinpret very much.

"You two can go," Weinpret said, and although his tone left no room for discussion, Harry was in no way going to just pack up and leave when there was so much left to do. A quick glance at Ron, and Harry knew his mate was more than happy to run from the place. He still looked deathly pale and just a bit green as well.

"Sir, don't you need us here?" Harry asked.

"No," the chief said stepping closer. "I need you two in the office first thing in the morning for debriefing and then you are to comb this village for any witness. It's going to take all day and I need you two in top form." Again, his tone implied that the conversation was over, but Harry was not about to spend the day talking to little old ladies and such.

"But Sir, surely you can use us somewhere—"

"Potter!" Weinpret straightened quickly and, if possible, became even taller. "Are you questioning my leadership?"

"No, Sir!" Harry shook his head vehemently, and was thankful that Douglas was nowhere to be found.

"Good. Now I know you think talking to witnesses is something a trainee should be doing…," Harry wanted to agree but was slightly afraid that it might just get him demoted back down to a trainee. "…but you two are excellent interrogators. The best we have, actually. It's because people trust you. They feel as if they are safe telling two of the most famous war heroes of our time information that could very well get them killed. Now go home, and not another word, Potter. If you so much as say goodbye, you'll be sorry!"

Harry's mouth was clamped shut as he and Ron turned to exit quickly. Once they were outside and out of earshot of their chief, Ron turned to Harry with an amused look on his face.

"When are you ever going to learn to just shut up?" Ron asked, but Harry wasn't listening, he was staring up at the sky. The blood red Dark Mark was still glowing ominously, with the serpent slithering out of the skull's mouth every few seconds. Harry raised his wand and shouted, "Dispergo!"

Nothing happened but a faint shimmer. He glanced at Ron and saw that he too had his wand raised now. Together, they took aim at the symbol of death and desolation and cried, "DISSIPATIO!"

The Dark Mark burst like a firework and rained red sparks down over the house until it faded into nothing. It was eerily silent in the front yard for a moment even with so much going on.

"See you in the morning," Harry mumbled to Ron in a detached voice. Ron simply grunted a response and Disapparated with a loud crack. Harry looked down at his wristwatch and grimaced. It was a quarter to midnight. He hoped Ginny was not waiting up for him.

With a loud crack, Harry arrived at the front gate of his property. He and Ginny had been living there for over four years and yet, he still had a hard time believing it was his. The home was large by most standards and far more than he would ever need, even if he and Ginny wanted to give Mr. and Mrs. Weasley a hearty competition for who could have the most children.

Potter's Cove rested on twenty-two acres of land and had ten enormous bedrooms. He thought Ginny was insane when she brought him there and told him she wanted it. Although he was hard-pressed to refuse her anything, he just didn't see that house as being something necessary. The simple three-bedroom cottage that Ron and Hermione bought after their wedding was more to Harry's liking.

However, when Ginny told him how she wanted to open a school for all the children who would not be able to be home schooled before attending Hogwarts, Harry had no choice but to give in. The war had left many broken homes, widows, and widowers, as well as orphans. With only one parent left in a lot of homes, it was impossible to earn money and stay home to teach a child the fundamentals.

It was an extraordinary idea, and Harry couldn't help but swell with pride whenever he thought of the fact that his wife had come up with it. At the present, they were bursting at the seams with children ranging in ages from four to ten. Ginny had a staff of nine instructors. They taught every thing from reading and writing to elementary magic, without wands of course. The children were dropped off in the morning and stayed until early evening most often having dinner at the school before being picked up by their parent or guardian.

Harry made the long trek to the front of the house, having set up wards similar to Hogwarts that would not allow anyone to Apparate onto the grounds. Most times he would floo home to cut out the walk, but he was in no mood to go back inside that farmhouse and see if the fireplace was connected to the network.

A single candle flickered in the second floor window on the side of the house that was considered Harry and Ginny's living quarters. They had sectioned off a cozy portion that merely left them an upstairs bedroom, guest room and two baths. The kitchen and the entire downstairs were shared with the school. The remaining bedrooms on the other side of the house were converted into classrooms.

Harry knew that candle meant that Ginny was waiting up for him. He smiled slightly, after the night he'd had, he needed to hold his wife and relax. He stepped through the door and found her in the sitting room on the sofa, facing a crackling fire. As he stepped up behind her, he was slightly surprised to see that she was not alone. A small boy with thick black hair and tiny little features lay in her lap fast asleep.

"Hey," Harry whispered and dropped a kiss on her head. Ginny let her copper head fall to the back of the sofa and gave a faint smile. She looked tired, Harry noticed as he took a seat beside her.

"What's Ethan still doing here?" Harry asked quietly. Ginny cradled the little boy in her arms like a baby and kissed his forehead.

"His mum needed to work late. She wanted to come get him at eleven, but I saw no reason to wake him only to have him, right back here in the morning." Ginny sighed and kissed Ethan's head again. She wore a dreamy expression on her face as she held him in her arms. Harry knew the time was coming when they would need to talk about having kids, but he always assumed Ginny would bring it up, or it would simply happen, but neither had occurred as of yet.

Ethan was not a victim of war, at least that wasn't the reason his mother was a widow. His father was a simple merchant, with a store in Diagon Alley and was crushed by a collapsed storage shelf three years ago when Ethan was only one. Ginny took a liking to the boy instantly. Harry was certain it had much to do with their striking resemblance. From the look of him, Ethan could be Harry's son, but Harry assured Ginny that he had not fathered any children elsewhere, which caused a wry laugh from her.

The couple sat quietly for a long while as Harry ran his fingers through Ginny's silky hair. Then he looked at the clock and was startled to see that it was nearing half past midnight. Before he could tell Ginny they should be getting off to bed, she spoke.

"How was work? You were pretty late." Harry tensed instantly.

"Work was fine," he said, a bit more curtly than he intended. Ginny raised her head and looked at him.

"You sure?" Her eyes were suddenly quite focused. Harry changed the subject quickly.

"Aren't you going to put him down?" That seemed to do the trick, as Ginny looked back to Ethan and sighed.

"I tried, but he seems to only be able to fall asleep in my arms," she curled her fingers through his dark hair.

"You sure it's him and not you?" Harry asked slightly amused, slightly jealous. He wanted to lay in his wife's arms tonight…he needed it.

"He's scared, Harry. It's not a familiar place."

"He's here five days a week!" Harry said incredulously. Now he was really beginning to think that Ginny was using that as an excuse to cuddle the boy.

"He's never slept here before. That's different. It's hard for children to sleep in new places."

"Says who? Our home isn't scary." He had no idea why her reaction was irking him so, but he was feeling very selfish at the moment and wanted Ginny to pick up on that.

"Gosh Harry, he's a baby, and he's slept in one bed his entire life and this is his first time ever being somewhere else. It's scary!" Her voice rose a bit and Ethan stirred. She narrowed her eyes at Harry, but he was in a funky mood now and never really did know when to shut up.

"First of all, he's not a baby, he's four. And second, clearly he's asleep now, you can put him down. You just don't want to." Ginny shook her head stubbornly.

"That's not it. I want him to feel safe here so if he needs to stay again, he will be able to sleep in the bed by himself. You of all people should understand this. I believe you told me that your first night at Hogwarts you weren't able to sleep, and you were eleven!"

"That's not the same!" Harry shouted. He didn't want to wake Ethan but he didn't like how Ginny seemed to be throwing something so vulnerable in his face.

"Why not? Because it's you?" Ginny snapped, sitting forward a bit.

"It's not the same because I slept in a bloody cupboard for ten years! I couldn't sleep because a giant had come and told me that I was a sodding wizard and my life would never be the same! I couldn't sleep because I had never been given anything as soft and as comfortable as my new bed at Hogwarts! That's why I couldn't sleep!" He breathed rapidly. "I never had any one hold me in their arms and rock me to sleep, never!"

Harry got to his feet in a flash. He couldn't believe he was jealous of a child, and a sweet child at that because Ethan was a wonderful kid, and Harry was very fond of the boy. He now felt like shite. And what was more, he was wrong, for he was certain that at least for the first year of his life, his mum had held him in her arms and rocked him to sleep. He just had no memory of it.

Ginny looked absolutely beside herself at his outburst. She wore an expression that was a mixture of worry and confusion.

"I'm sorry, Harry," she reached for his hand and he let her take it for a brief second, giving it a light squeeze. "I didn't mean to make light of your childhood. I only thought that you'd understand because you sort of went through it too."

"It's…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap, I just had a rough day. I'm sorry." He leaned forward and kissed her softly.

"Listen, I need to step out for a moment."

"Step out? Harry, it's the middle of the night!" Ginny really did fix him with a look that said she thought he was losing his mind.

"Yeah I know, but I…I need to talk and I know your brother is still up. We had a rough day and I need to hash some of this out, otherwise I'll never get to sleep. I won't be more than an hour." He said that all very quickly and before Ginny could get out a full rebuff, Harry was tossing floo powder into the fire and stepping into the warm flames.

"10 Rose Garden!" Harry shouted, and was spinning toward Ron's home an instant later.

00000

Ron sat on the edge of his bed, his skin still flushed and tingling from his hot shower. Every part of his body was ready for sleep, except for his mind. The sight of that red Dark Mark almost made Ron shite himself when he and Harry had first popped onto the scene. He thought they were through with Dark Marks and Death Eaters, if that was in fact who had conjured it. It seemed so long ago since they had to deal with any thing like this and yet, at the same time, it felt like yesterday.

Ron knew it was useless to try and sleep, but he also knew that if Hermione woke and found the bed empty, he'd have a lot of questions to answer, so he settled back and let his head rest comfortably on the pillow. Staring at the ceiling, Ron listened to the shallow breathing coming from Hermione and waited for a sleep that would probably never come tonight.

Hermione stirred beside him and Ron snapped his eyes shut, pretending to be fast asleep. Her hand brushed across his bare chest and came to rest by his throat, where she unconsciously fingered the silver chain-link necklace he wore. Ron gently moved her hand, not wanting her to inadvertently set off the medallion attached and alert the Auror force. He pulled her closer since he was never able to have her cuddle him without cuddling her right back.

Hermione moaned in her sleep, and Ron was not all that surprised that he was beginning to feel the first stirrings of arousal deep in his belly. As her leg slipped over his, she let out a puff of air and then let her leg rest across the front of his boxers. Ron slid his hand down her silky thigh and pulled it up toward his waist.

While it felt wonderful to have her touch him like that, it was a very delicate area and one wrong move would have him crying like a baby. This action seemed to wake Hermione, as she moved that leg slowly over Ron's hip then rolled her body on top of him. She didn't move at first, just simply lay there and let Ron stroke his large hands up and down her back. Before long, she was trailing light kisses across his jaw line. She kissed her way down his neck and over the silver necklace, back up to his ear. Ron moaned.

"Hi, sweetheart," Hermione whispered in his ear. Ron found that he was momentarily unable to respond as he was quite distracted by the fact that she seemed to be covering him like a deliciously silky, squirming blanket. It was difficult indeed to tell the difference between the silk of her skin and the silk of her nightgown. Hermione's hair covered his face and tickled his shoulders like heavenly feathers and he found all the different sensations a welcome distraction.

"How was your day?" she whispered in his other ear, having kissed her way to it. Ron grunted, causing Hermione to pull back slightly and look him in the eyes. He knew she could read him like a book, and he tried his best not to give away anything that would cause too many questions, but it was a hard thing to do when you have a bond so strong with another person that they can practically hear your thoughts.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she whispered again as she kept eye contact with him and caressed his cheek. Ron paused for a moment. He did want to talk about it. He'd love nothing more than to have one of their famous all-nighters in the common room while they tried to unravel the plan of some diabolical force. He wanted desperately for Hermione to be her usual brilliant self and figure it all out so he could wake up in the morning and know that the world was still a relatively safe place to be. However, he simply shook his head.

"No, love, I want you to help me forget," his voice was low, but the desperation rang loud and clear.

Hermione fixed him with a look that said she was more than up to the task. In a flash, she sat back, whipped her nightgown over her head and tossed it to the floor. Her perky breasts bounced before him, and Ron moved his hands from her waist and slid them up her body to caress them.

Hermione covered his hands with her own and helped him with his ministrations as she began to grind against him. Before long, she was lying flat against him again and kissing him thoroughly. Ron fisted his hands in her hair as his tongue delved passionately in her mouth. He loved her mouth, loved the way she kissed.

Hermione had several different types of kisses and he knew them all. There were her kisses that were chaste and usually used for a quick goodbye, or in the presence of his family, often on the cheek or so faint on the lips that they barely touched.

Then there were the kisses she gave him when she needed to build his confidence. Those usually came with moans and praises and were often needed when he was in a self-deprecating mood. She'd often complement his lips during those times as well, and it never came off as insincere or phony because she truly meant it.

Currently Hermione was giving Ron the kiss of all kisses. He was never able to have a coherent thought in his head when she kissed him like this. This kiss only showed itself in private moments, because it was always leading up to or during sex that it made its appearance. This kiss was meant to erase the outside world and keep them locked in a cocoon of love for as long as they needed to hide.

This kiss usually wiped Ron's mind so completely that he suffered from dizziness after they were through. Unfortunately tonight, his brain was already cluttered with other things, so the kiss, while still mind blowing, only caused a pleasurable distraction at the most.

Hermione made her way down his body, kissing every inch of flesh she came across, only stopping long enough to tug on his boxers until he was free for the taking. Ron was certain that Hermione knew what he needed, and it wasn't a delicate love making session. No, he needed to be shagged…hard and fast. Her actions let him know that she planned to do just that as she took him deep into her mouth before his boxers were even off completely.

Ron kicked them down the rest of the way until he could no longer muster the energy to do so because of the powerful way Hermione was sucking him off. They simply remained tangled around his left foot.

Ron moaned loudly, her mouth was sopping wet as she bobbed her head quickly and twisted it slightly from side to side. It felt incredible and Ron whimpered as his toes curled tightly and he sunk back into the pillow even more. This was pure ecstasy but after a few moments, Ron threaded the fingers of his right hand through Hermione's hair and gave it a gentle tug. They were so in tune with each other that Ron knew he didn't have to explain what he wanted.

Sure enough, Hermione let go of him with a sloppy slurp and was crawling up his body to straddle his hips. She leaned forward and placed a wet kiss on his mouth that he greedily accepted. Then she eased herself down onto him.

The oddest thing seemed to happen as Hermione pushed Ron deep inside her. He became acutely aware of everything. Truly, everything. His mind was so alert and in need of a distraction that it seemed to cling to every little nuance that was going on around him. Ron could feel the tiny ridges on the wall of Hermione's vagina as she moved up and down.

He could feel how it gripped him tightly, but not as tightly as it first had. Now, it seemed to mold to the curve of him, and that almost sent Ron to the brink of insanity knowing that he was the only man that had ever and would ever feel this. But his mind was still picking up too many different things to linger on that. And now he was noticing how his tip pressed against something soft and cushiony, which Hermione had told him long ago was her cervix.

Also, every time he rolled his hips, he could feel the faint click that the left side made due to an injury sustained during the war. Ron fleetingly wondered if Hermione had ever noticed.

He could also hear the clock in the hall as it ticked away the seconds. Then his body stiffened as he heard an all too familiar whoosh and he knew it was from someone flooing into his home. Hermione seemed to have mistaken his sudden tensing as sign of his impending climax and she pressed her hands on his chest and moaned,

"Not yet, sweetheart," then she tossed her head back and began to work her hips diligently in what must have been a frantic effort to match what she thought was his imminent orgasm.

Ron muffled a groan and Hermione appeared to have taken that as further affirmation, so she dug in and began to grind harder. Her eyes were screwed shut and it was a good thing because Ron had propped himself up on one elbow, his wand was in his hand and he was not at all paying attention to what Hermione was doing to him. No, he was looking around her into the darkness of the open bedroom door.

Hermione was rocking, moaning and shouting obscure things now and Ron had never before noticed how loud she could be. Usually, he wanted her to be as loud as possible because it got him off something wicked. However tonight, he needed to hear. He was reluctant to quiet her down because whoever just entered his home would know that Ron was on to them should he and Hermione abruptly stop. Ron wanted to at least have the element of surprise and he was ready to shoot a hex so powerful on this intruder that they would be eating though a tube for the rest of their lives. He did, however, need to get Hermione to quiet down just a touch so he could hear them approach the bedroom.

"Hermione!" Ron whispered roughly, but she was beyond reach, he realized, as he allowed his eyes to leave the doorway for a split second. Her eyes were still tightly closed and now she had strands of curly hair clinging to her damp face and neck. Her head jerked forward and was quickly followed by a forceful jerk of her hips. Then her inner muscles were clenching around him so rapidly and forcefully that Ron gave an involuntary shutter and exploded inside of her.

It was an odd feeling indeed to have one's body acting independently of one's mind, for Ron had never fought against an orgasm so strongly before. He was desperately battling every natural instinct his body had in order to keep his wits about him. He wanted to close his eyes and throw back his head and shout and curse and grab her hips and thrust until he was completely empty. He could do none of that. All he would allow himself to do was pant rapidly and grip Hermione's hip with his other hand. He'd have to heal that for her later, because he knew it was going to be purple from the shear strength of his grip.

Merlin! He was angry with his body, for it seemed to be emptying forever. The very second it gave its last spurt, and Ron had control over his body again, he sat up and clamped a hand over Hermione's mouth. Her eyes went wide instantly, as the after glow of sex quickly gave way to surprise.

"Shh, someone's just flooed into the house," Ron whispered, letting his eyes leave the door for a split second. If possible, Hermione's eyes went wider, then they quickly returned to normal. She moved his hand from her mouth.

"It's probably one of your idiot brothers!" she whispered. Ron knew she meant the twins, they were the only ones she referred to as idiots. Rationally, Ron knew that there were only a few people who could floo into his home without permission and they were all Weasley's or married to a Weasley. Anyone else would find themselves stepping out of a fire place in Siberia. Should they try it a second time, then they would step out of the fireplace into a Ministry holding cell. But something was still off. Maybe he was overreacting because of what he had seen tonight, but Ron was not about to allow himself and Hermione to become the next victims.

"You really think Fred and George would waste an opportunity to catch us in the act?" Ron said in a sharp whisper. No, his brothers would have come straight to the bedroom, especially with all the noise Hermione was making. Then Ron fairly tossed her off of him and she gave a little squeak, but he was speaking again before she could protest.

"Get your wand and get dressed…in that order!" he barked in a hushed tone, preferring to have Hermione duel completely starkers if need be, than to have her fully dressed and dead. Hermione shot him a look that said she didn't appreciate being spoken to as if she was a child, but she got up and grabbed her wand, then went to the wardrobe. Ron snapped his fingers to get her attention and she turned to him. He held out his arms as if to say, what the hell are you doing?

"Getting dressed!" Hermione hissed. Ron stepped forward, bent over, scooped up her nightgown and tossed it to her. It landed on her head and she was not happy as she snatched it away from her face. She was not moving fast enough for Ron. He had already pulled up his boxers and had taken his position at the door before she even had her wand in her hand. Hermione stepped up beside him and Ron could feel her attitude coming off her in waves. He was only a second away from stunning her and hiding her in the wardrobe so he could deal with the intruder himself. But he'd be a fool to do so because she'd surely kill him.

"It's probably just Harry," Hermione mumbled and Ron bit back a retort.

"Stay behind me," was all he said as he stepped into the darkness of the hallway. Ron splayed himself flat against the wall and took silent steps until he was able to get a view of the sitting room, wand ready to do some damage, that is until he saw familiar boots sticking out from in front of the high-back chair facing the fireplace.

"Bloody hell, Harry, are you completely daft?" Ron could have killed him as he stepped further into the room.

"Told you so," Hermione mumbled, and it did nothing to help Ron's mood. Harry peeped around the back of the chair looking remarkably like a child. As Ron and Hermione stepped around to get a full view of their intruder, it appeared he wasn't simply content to floo into their home, but he needed a snack as well as he sat with a plate of chocolate biscuits and a glass of milk.

Hermione fixed him with a curious glare. "Harry, you have nothing better to do than lurk about in our home at an indecent hour and eat biscuits?"

"I wasn't lurking!" Harry stood and quickly finished chewing the biscuit he was eating as if it was making him guilty by doing so.

"I came over here to talk to Ron but you two were…busy." He quirked an eyebrow at Hermione and she gave him the appropriate amount of blushing before she squared her shoulders preparing herself to give him a proper arse chewing. Ron knew all too well what was coming next and he knew there would be nothing he could do to stop it, not that he would anyway.

"So that's how you get your jollies now, is it? Listening to other people shag?" She asked with her arms folded across her chest. Harry simply smirked.

"Hermione, I could have been home and still heard you. Merlin! The decibels you reach… well it explains why I have to repeat myself to Ron so much. The bloke is probably hard of hearing!" Harry burst into laughter as Hermione's face colored so rapidly, that for a moment, Ron she was going to pop. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. He was already going get his arse chewed off for hitting her in the head with her nightgown. Ron was certainly not trying to add to the list.

"You…you!" she stuttered, searching for something to say in return. As it seemed she could find nothing, she picked up one of the chocolate biscuits and chucked it at his head. Harry winced as the biscuit cracked him across the forehead. Ron did laugh then. It was a wonderful distraction and Ron was delighted to take it.

A few years after the war, Ron had observed a remarkable thing happening between Harry and Hermione, they began to tease each other like brother and sister. While Hermione had always nagged Harry like a truly annoying sister would, they never really teased each other the way he and Ginny had.

Sometimes Ron found himself encouraging it because he knew they never had this as children and honestly, it was bloody fun to watch.

"You hit me…with a biscuit!" Harry said, giving her an incredulous look.

"Well maybe if you weren't hanging about like a pervert, you wouldn't be in a position to find yourself hit with food!"

"Pervert!" Harry looked at Ron for a brief moment in disbelief, then his eyes changed quickly and Ron knew that Harry was about to stir up more trouble.

"Well I guess I'd rather be called a pervert than…Big Daddy!" Hermione shrieked and launched herself at a hysterically laughing Harry. She was choking and punching and biting him in rapid succession, but he continued to laugh. Ron, on the other hand was quite confused. Big Daddy? Who was called that? Ron thought to himself, ignoring the battle that was going on before him. Then his brain seemed to cotton on and he realized that Hermione must have shouted that while he was trying desperately to tune her out.

Big Daddy? Ron snorted. It was so unlike Hermione, but then she had been trying to talk dirty to him because of what she had read in his journal. Ron snorted, that was just ridiculous. Well…maybe not. It might have actually been pretty hot, he thought and almost pouted. Now he wished he'd been paying attention because he was sure Hermione would never call him that again, after having the first time over heard by Harry.

As she finished her assault on her surrogate brother, she stepped away from him, winded and with her hair wild and filled with static. Harry was still laughing and Ron could tell Hermione wanted to shut him up desperately.

"Fine, Harry," she breathed. "You want to talk about names given to us by our spouses?" The look she gave him was positively evil and Harry stopped laughing immediately.

"No, no, I don't!" he answered instantly, and he really did look frightened.

"Oh well, that's too bad…Captain Spank!" Harry's face seemed to go green, and the room was silent for a swollen moment before Ron cut through it with a full-bellied laugh.

"Please…" Ron laughed hard. "…please tell me that Ginny does not call you that!" He was doubled over now.

"No, she doesn't!" Harry protested, but no one believed him as he looked absolutely sick at the moment. Then he returned Hermione's evil glare with one of his own.

"Sugar-Knockers!" Harry shot it at her like a poisoned arrow and stepped back quickly with a wicked laugh. He seemed prepared for Hermione to hurl herself at him again, but she rounded on Ron instead.

"You told him that!" she screamed loudly, and Ron, who had just taken a bite of a biscuit, choked, spraying her with crumbs. "I can't believe you told him that you called me that ridiculously stupid name!"

"It…it was a joke!" He sprayed more crumbs. "I told him it was a joke, that I don't really call you that."

"Not to your face!" Harry chimed in with a wicked chuckle. Hermione pitched another biscuit at his head, but he ducked this time and it flew into the fireplace.

"Honestly, you two are… are…"she grunted, unable to find a word quite good enough to describe them. She worked hard to keep the annoyed expression on her face, but Ron could tell she was itching to laugh. He also knew that Harry would never tease her if he knew she would really get angry.

"You came here to talk to Ron, so talk. You have twenty minutes and not a second more as we all have to get up and go to work in a few hours!" Hermione turned abruptly and stomped down the hallway.

"G'night…Sugar Knockers," Harry mumbled the last part with a cackle that Ron was sure the man thought was only heard by the two of them until Hermione's slipper collided with the back of Harry's head.

"OUCH!" he shouted and rubbed the back of his head. "Good aim, she's got," Harry said admiringly. Ron crossed his arms over his chest and turned to Harry.

"You have nothing better to do but come in here and get my wife all riled up in the middle of the night?"

"You seemed to have done a far better job of that than I could have," Harry smirked. "Besides, I needed to talk and I figured you wouldn't be able to sleep either."

Suddenly, the weight of the day was back on him and Ron was almost angry that Harry had allowed him to forget about it for a brief moment, only to bring it right back.

"Meet me out in the garden. I'm going to put on some clothes." The two men exited in different directions and a few minutes later, Ron was taking a seat beside Harry on the iron bench that faced the massive garden. Ron loved it out there at any time of the year. Even now, and it was quite cold for early November, but he was comfortable.

They sat quietly for a long while and Ron knew Harry was trying desperately not to read more into the events than what was called for, however, the two of them never were the most rational of the Trio. That had always been Hermione.

"She looked like Hermione, don't you think?" Ron asked, breaking the heavy silence.

"Who?" Harry looked up and met Ron's eyes in confusion.

"That…that girl," Ron mumbled, picking at a loose thread on his sleeve. He heard Harry take in a breath.

"No, I don't think she looked like Hermione at all." Their eyes met for a moment and Ron knew that Harry wasn't just telling him what he wanted to hear. It almost cleared Ron's mind of the graphic image completely. It seemed to have lodged itself into his brain and nothing had been able to pull it out for more than a few moments.

When he had opened that cupboard door, his heart nearly leapt out his throat. It was only but a fraction of a second that he saw Hermione hanging there, but the image was burned into his brain. Now that he was thinking about it, that girl had straight hair and it was near black. She actually looked nothing at all like Hermione. Ron visibly let go of a breath that he seemed to have been holding since he'd opened that door.

"What if it's going to start again?" Harry asked in a voice so small that Ron was almost expecting to look over and see the eleven year old boy he first met on the Hogwarts Express.

"It's not," Ron said, but it wasn't at all convincing.

"You don't know that. What if it is?" Harry pressed.

"Then we fight! What other choice do we have?" There was a long silence where Ron practically unraveled his sleeve by pulling at the loose thread, and Harry stared transfixed into the garden.

"I don't know if I have it in me to fight another war," Harry whispered.

Ron looked up and stared at him for a long while. He was afraid of this. He knew Harry was only a breath away from his limit during the war. It almost killed him to hang on for as long as he had, but he did and they triumphed. Another war may not find him faring too well, but Ron was not about to say that.

"Voldemort is dead!" Ron snapped, and it caused Harry to look up and lock eyes with him. "And he is not coming back this time, so whoever or whatever conjured that Dark Mark and killed those people will be caught and this will be over!" He breathed heavily. "There will not be another war! And if there is, I will be on the front lines again, fighting to the death!" The two men stared at each other for a long time.

"Shite Harry, before…before, we were fighting for the possibility of all this," he gestured around him. "Now that we have it, doesn't it make you want to fight even harder to keep it?" Harry swallowed thickly and nodded, but he looked wearier than Ron had ever seen him.

It was almost as if this one incident had somehow convinced Harry that there could never be peace. This, above all else, was what made Ron furious. For so long after the war, they were hesitant to be happy or let down their guard, and now, with a few happy years behind them, someone was trying to take all away. Right then, Ron made a silent pledge to himself, that he would do anything to prevent that from happening.

AN: Thanks everyone for reading, hope you liked it. Please leave a review!

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