My love

It's been a long time since I cried

And left you out of the blue

It's hard

Leaving you the way

When I never really wanted to

Self denial

Is a game so strange I never really should've wanted

Till there was you

'Cause I have learned that love was beyond

What humans can imagine

More it clears

The more I gotta let you go

'Cause what I don't understand

Is why I'm feeling so bad now

When I know it was my idea

I could've just denied the truth and lied

Now why am I the only one standing stranded

On the same ground

My love

It's been a long time since I cried

And left you out of the blue

It's hard

Leaving you the way

When I never really wanted to

Self denial

Is a game so strange I never really should've wanted

Till there was you

'Cause I have learned that love

Is a word just thrown

A little bit too much of this

Excuse to fill this infinite of desire

And never ever have to fade

'Cause what I don't understand

Is why I'm feeling so bad now

When I know it was my idea

I could've just denied the truth and lied

Now why am I the only one standing stranded

On the same ground

If all else fail

Would you be there to love me?

When all else fails

Would you be brave to see right through me?

Same Ground

Kitchie Nadal

---------------------------------------------------------------------

November 9, Starbucks Coffee, London

Harry Potter couldn't sit still. He already had a couple of Café Lattes and he was on the verge of getting a third. He was outside, shivering at the cool breeze, trying not to jump at any sight of a brunette bushy haired woman walking past him. This was getting ridiculous. He shouldn't be this jumpy about meeting her again. It's just her. And it was him in the first place who requested for this meeting. But how long was it since he last saw her? 10? 15 years?

He didn't know how he was going to react at all when he sees her. But he returned to London because he realized he really needed her after all. After everything that happened. After everything that he went through, they went through. After the Final Battle. After years and years of not getting in touch.

It was his decision, back then. To leave. But he had his reasons. They might not understand it. She might not understand it, although he thought she would. But he needed to.

He was staring at the park that was across the coffee shop not really seeing it as he took a sip of his latte. He didn't notice when someone sat across from him.

"Penny for your thoughts."

He almost spitted out his coffee. He didn't know if hearing her voice was the sweetest thing on earth he heard or if it was a curse that she was really finally there in front of him.

"Hermione!" he exclaimed. "Gods, you scared me half to death."

She smiled half-heartedly and looked at him, observing him. "What's the reason for this, Harry?"

He didn't reply immediately. He couldn't. He just stared at her for a full minute, savoring the sight of her. She changed a whole lot, physically speaking. Well, 10 years is a long time. But when he looked at her eyes, he knew that his old Hermione was still the same. Wait. His Hermione?

Hermione sighed and closed her eyes. "If you're not going to talk, then I'll just leave." She started to rise from the table when Harry quickly grabbed her arm.

"Wait, Hermione," he said. "Please. Sit back down." Hermione sat down, looking weary. Harry rubbed his neck and combed his hand through his hair. He was getting bloody nervous. He looked back at her at saw her staring at him. "Still hasn't changed huh? You always want to be direct to the point."

Hermione cocked her head to one side and looked expectantly at him. "I don't have time for games, Harry. You wanted to meet so here I am. I expect answers. Explanations, if you please. That's why you called me, right? After all these years?" she said, a bit of bitterness in her voice.

Harry took a deep breath. "I just – I – well, I just wanted to see you. Yeah, to explain and – yeah."

"I just want to know why, Harry. That's all. Why?" whispered Hermione, eyes downcast.

Harry was pacing in front of the fire at the living room of Grimmauld. Ron was lounging on the couch, flipping occasionally at The Daily Prophet, scrounging for some news. Hermione was on the floor, books and parchments scattered around her, her quill busy writing.

"Nothing," Ron said, breaking the silence. He threw the paper down beside him. Hermione and Harry both looked at him. "Nothing worth mentioning and nothing that we do not know of already." He shrugged when Hermione raised her eyebrows at him.

Harry resumed his pacing. "We're down to our last Horcrux," he murmured, more to himself than to his two best friends. "Nagini. After that… It will be soon. Very soon."

Hermione and Ron looked at each other. Ron tensed at the mention of the upcoming final meeting between Harry and Tom. He suddenly stood up and stretched. "I'm off to bed. I sure could use it after our last expedition." He walked towards the hallway. "Harry?" he asked. Harry remained pacing and didn't even look up. "Hermione?" She shook her head. "You go ahead, Ron. You're tired," she replied. Ron shrugged once more. "Up to you. 'Night, guys."

Hermione sighed and closed the book she was reading. She also stretched before standing up. She walked towards Harry and placed a gentle hand on his arm, stopping him from his pacing. "You worry too much, Harry," she said softly. She led him to the couch and they both sat down.

Harry slouched and rested his head on the back of the couch. He closed his eyes and started to breathe deeply. "I can't help it, Hermione. What if I haven't trained enough? What if we don't win? What will happen to the Wizarding world when I lose? When Tom wins?"

"Shhh…" shushed Hermione. "We just finished Helga's cup. We still have Nagini to finish before we meet up with Tom."

"You mean, before I meet with Tom."

"No, Harry," said Hermione. "We will be there for you, Ron and I. When you're standing there, facing him, wherever that may be, we will be there for you. We will not leave you," she said with conviction. "I will not leave you," she added softly.

Harry turned to look at her. She smiled up at him. Overwhelmed with emotions, Harry grabbed Hermione and hugged her close to him. "Thank you," he whispered.

Hermione chuckled. "Don't mention it."

After quite a while, Harry suddenly sat up straight making Hermione jumped off from his embrace. "I gotta go." Hermione looked at him questioningly. "I – well, I – uh – I gotta go to bed," he stammered, blushing. He immediately stood up and walked out of the living room.

"Ok, what just happened?" wondered Hermione.

Harry breathed deeply. He turned his head towards the sky, which was starting to gray. A while ago, it was sunny and bright despite the cool chill of the morning. Why was it that it felt like the day was suddenly matching his mood?

"I really don't know what to tell you, 'Mione," he said, absently calling Hermione with the nickname he'd given her when they were out searching for the Horcruxes.

"Then why call me here? Why set up this meeting? Why come to me after all these years without even an explanation as to why you left the last time?"

"I – well – I… I wanted to explain. Really, I do. But I don't know what to tell you. How to tell you."

"Why did you call just me? Shouldn't you have called Ron as well? You know that he has as much right to know what happened to you as much as me." The barrage of questions left Harry hanging. He suddenly couldn't look Hermione in the eye.

"I just wanted you. I just needed you," he whispered, not caring if she heard the underlying meaning that he meant.

Harry's nerves were on end. He knew that the day had finally come. He knew that any minute now, Tom would strike. They were at Hogwarts, and the Final Battle was about to happen. He knew that somehow they were ready. They've trained enough. He, Hermione and Ron trained the remaining DA members to their fullest. They have enough help as it is. The Aurors were standing as reinforcements. The Headmistress gave her full support. Everything was in order. And yet – he somehow felt that's something was still missing.

He got up from their favorite couch by the fire at the Gryffindor common room and started pacing. The same thing he did after destroying Helga's cup back at Grimmauld. He couldn't sit still. Ron and Hermione watched him.

After a while, Ron stood up as well. "I'm going out," he announced and left through the portrait hole. Hermione knew he couldn't stand the tension. She knew he was afraid. Hell, they all were. But there's no backing out now.

Upon hearing Ron leaving, Harry stopped his pacing and glanced at the portrait hole. He and Hermione were alone. Hermione got up from where she sat and walked towards Harry. She placed his arms around him and comforted him through her embrace. Words weren't needed. They could communicate everything without that. Slowly, he placed his arms around her and embraced her tightly to him, her head on her chest, his chin on top of her head. He was afraid. Scared shitless. But Hermione made it all feel better. Even for a while.

"Hermione," he said in low tones. He closed his eyes and reveled in the warmth of her. She looked up at him and searched his face. Some of the tension were leaving his tired face. He opened his eyes when he felt her watching him. "Hermione," he said again. And without thinking, he lowered his head and tentatively touched his lips to hers.

Hermione was shocked, but she didn't pull away. Harry kissed her. Was still kissing her. And she couldn't fathom why. But she liked how Harry was moving his lips on hers. Softly, gently. Trying to see if she would pull away or not. When she parted her lips slightly, she heard him groan softly and he delved into the kiss more. She responded eagerly, feeling his arms pulling her towards him. She tightened her hold on him and the soft kiss turned into something passionate. Wild. Something indescribable. Something wherein they communicated whatever they were feeling for the past days. Desperation. Clinging. Everything that needed to be said was exchanged in that kiss.

They were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn't hear the portrait hole opening and closing. They didn't hear the slight startled gasp not until he spoke. "So, this is it then, huh?" said Ron, his eyes never leaving the pair. Harry and Hermione broke off immediately with Hermione jumping away from the embrace.

"Ron! It's not –" she started but Ron put up his hand. She couldn't read the expression in his face. She couldn't read the emotions in his eyes. There was nothing.

"I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning," he told her, not looking at Harry. He walked towards the stairs and disappeared towards the bedrooms.

"'Mione," called Harry. It has been ages since he called her that, the last time being when they were searching for Ravenclaw's staff. Hermione turned to look at him. She couldn't read him as well. Since when did her boys suddenly become men – good at hiding what they were really feeling from her? "I'm sorry," he whispered and he bolted out of the common room towards the halls of Hogwarts.

Hermione stared at Harry, not believing what she just heard. She might be assuming that there was something in what he just said but she couldn't help feeling that there really was something in there. She remembered their first kiss. Tentative at first then became explosive. She shivered when she thought of what could have happened if Ron hadn't walked in on them that night.

He needed her. Didn't he think that she needed him, too when he suddenly up and left them without an explanation? Without even a goodbye? Then he suddenly came back and asked for her. She wanted to stand him up but even after all these years – she still couldn't do that. He was too important to her for her to do that.

She was surprised when he gave her a call, telling her that he was back in town and if she could please, please meet up with her for coffee just for a few minutes. She didn't know what she was feeling when he called. Elated? Glad? Angry? Sad? It was mixed emotions. And right now, was no exception.

"I needed you, too Harry. We needed you," she replied, putting emphasis on "we." "When I woke up that morning at Godric's and you were nowhere to be found, without a note or anything that could have said where you were – I panicked. We panicked. I didn't know what to do. And now – you're just – back. And you can't even give me a decent explanation as to why you did that? Just up and left us? Left me?"

Hermione and Ron were standing a few feet away, right from the porch of the white stucco house from the hunched figure that was Harry. They were at Godric's Hollow as Harry requested, right after he was on his feet after the Final Battle. He wanted to go visit his parents, he said. One last time. Hermione didn't know what to make of that statement. One last time? Was he leaving? And if so – where?

Ron was not moving beside her as he watched his down-looking best friend across the field. His face was devoid of any emotion. He learned to do that during the past year. Hermione admired him for it. His maturity came into fruition after everything that they'd all been through. For the most part, she was grateful to him and to Harry for being there for her, for all of them being there for each other when times got rough and too much to handle.

Like right now. But somehow – she felt that Harry didn't want any of them to be with him as he went to his parents' graves. Sure, he asked them to come with him, but once there – he told them to wait by the house as he went in alone.

"Go to him, Hermione," said Ron, making Hermione almost jumped at the sudden break from the silence. "You want to, right? And well, I know you're the only one that could break through the barrier that he had put on around him," he added, a hint of bitterness and coldness in his voice.

She couldn't look Ron in the eye. She felt guilty after what he witnessed a couple of days ago, before the Final Battle happened. Everyone thought that it was going to be her and Ron and now – she didn't think it would be that way – ever. Not when she knew that she's starting to harbor feelings for their best friend, Ron's best friend.

Hermione was surprised but very happy all the same when Ron showed up during the Final Battle beside Harry. He clamped Harry on the shoulder and simply nodded, all the tension that was going on before the Battle between them gone. She wanted to cry at that moment but she knew that that wasn't the right time to do so. Not when Tom was menacingly charging towards them.

Hermione sighed and nodded. She started to walk towards Harry when she felt Ron put a hand to her upper arm. She turned to look at him questioningly. "I just want you to know, that – well – whatever is going on, I'm ok with it. You don't have to worry or be guilty or what. I'm ok," he said and for the first time since he caught them, he gave her a small smile.

Hermione smiled back and wanted to hug him but she knew that Ron wouldn't be comfortable with that. So she settled for placing a hand on his and squeezing it. With that, Ron let her go and she walked towards Harry.

"I thought – well – I thought you knew why I left. You should have understood it. You should have known why," Harry blustered on, not meeting Hermione's intent gaze.

"You know what? This is not doing us anything good," said Hermione, pushing her chair backwards and standing up. Harry was still not meeting her eyes. "You left and let's just say that we didn't see each other today. We didn't meet. We didn't talk." She turned her back and started to walk away.

Harry looked up when he heard Hermione's shoes tapping on the sidewalk, walking away from him. He rose and ran after Hermione. "Hermione, wait!" Hermione continued walking. "Wait! Hermione!"

Hermione didn't stop. She didn't turn around and heeded Harry's call. Tears were threatening to spill from her eyes. All she wanted to hear was why he did what he did. Didn't he know that she needed him the most when he left? Didn't he know that she was willing to love him with all of her if he didn't leave? Didn't he know that she would always be with him no matter what? And yet – despite all of that – he still left.

"I love you!" shouted Harry, his last desperate attempt to stop Hermione. He didn't care that he yelled it while standing on the sidewalk with people looking curiously at them. He didn't care that some people were pointing at him and laughing as if he was insane for declaring that in front of a lot of people.

Hermione did stop. Although she didn't turn around. Tears were now flowing freely from her face. Why now? She wanted to hear that a long time ago. 10 years ago. 15 years ago. Why only now?

She waited until Harry caught up with her. She stood there, savoring those three words that she so longed to hear. She was crying freely now and didn't give a damn about who might see her and ask why she was bawling her eyes out in a public place.

"Hermione," said Harry, panting slightly. He walked in front of Hermione, facing her. "I –"

Hermione gazed at him with a tear-streaked face. "Why now, Harry? Why only now?" she whispered.

"I was scared, Hermione," replied Harry softly. He took Hermione's hand and gently squeezed it. "I was scared with what I was feeling. I was scared that you wouldn't like me in the same way. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to take care of you the way Ron would. I was crazy. I had a lot of demons to battle inside me. I wasn't safe back then. I thought that you were better off with Ron and what better way to do that than leaving?"

"You never told me before. You never tried to ask me what I was feeling."

"I – well – I came back to tell you that I want to start anew. If it's not yet too late. And I thought you already knew."

"Well, I didn't," she said, quite harshly, removing her hand from Harry's gentle grasp. She walked past him a few steps. Harry turned and was about to say something when she turned back at him and raised her left hand, showing Harry that a gold band encircled her ring finger. "You got what you wanted, Harry."

Hermione walked away from him and this time, Harry didn't stop her. He knew he deserved that. After everything that he did. After leaving her, them, like that. With no explanation. No whatsoever. Not even a note saying why and where he was going or when he would be back. Or if he would ever be back.

Truth was, he really did love Hermione. But he was not at ease with what he was feeling. He felt that what he was feeling for Hermione might put her in danger. He was thanking Merlin that Tom didn't find that out during the Final Battle or else he would have used her and Harry knew that he would have lost that battle. After Tom died, many of his supporters were still at large, those that weren't captured immediately after the Battle. He knew that they were planning something and that they were still thinking that even with Tom dead – they could still continue his ultimate goal – kill Harry Potter, those close to him and rid the Wizarding world of Mudbloods.

Harry spent the last decade tracking every single one of the remaining Death Eaters and putting them into justice. When he was sure that every one was gone, he returned. Hoping against hope that Hermione would understand him. Hoping against hope that Hermione would still be there.

But it was too late.

He wanted to scream. Right at the middle of Muggle London. And he didn't care what people would think. But what he was feeling was tearing him inside. He was feeling despair. Pain. Brokenness.

He looked up when he heard footsteps running towards him and was suddenly surprised when a wave of bushy hair clouded his vision. Hermione ran up to him, jumped in his arms, wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him one long fiery kiss.

When the kiss ended, Harry was stunned. He didn't know what to say. What just happened?

"I love you, too Harry," said Hermione, smiling sadly, putting distance between them. "I just want to let you know that and let you feel that. Even one last time." Then her mobile phone started ringing. She fumbled in her bag for it and answered, "Hello?"

"Hermione? Luv? Where are you?"

"Oh, hi Ron. I went to London to buy something. I forgot to leave you a note that I would go out," she replied, her eyes trained on Harry. Harry remained silent. She heard some fumbling in the background.

"Damn. You know, I still couldn't get this phone thing. How can this work without magic? I mean, can we not use the two-way mirrors that Harry used to have?" whined Ron.

"You know I couldn't use that when I'm in a Muggle area such as now. And stop whining, Ron. I'll be home in a while."

"Ok. Bring home some goodies like those triple chocolate cookies you bought from Milano Bakeshop the last time. Love you," said Ron and Hermione could just imagine him grinning as he said that.

"I will. Love you, too," she said and hung up.

"So that's it then," said Harry. He bowed his head, not wanting to meet Hermione's eyes.

"Yes, it is," replied Hermione softly. "I have to go, Harry. It was nice seeing you. Hopefully, one day – you could come visit us and meet your nieces. And nephew," she added the last bit in a whisper. With that she turned and walked away from him.

Hermione walked towards Harry, who was bent over the graves of his parents. She placed a hand on his shoulder and she felt his shoulders lose a bit of the tension. He placed on hand on top of her and gently squeezed.

"I miss them, Hermione," he whispered. "I know I never really knew them but I miss them all the same."

"I understand that, Harry. They are probably proud of you. Of what you did. Of what you accomplished," she replied. Harry nodded but didn't look at her. She looked back at the back porch and didn't see Ron standing there. He probably went inside already, giving them a bit of privacy. He's probably not that comfortable yet seeing them together. She made a mental note to thank him for that later.

Harry stood up and turned to look at Hermione. He never let go of her hand and continued to hold onto it. As if it was his only life source. Something that keeps him hanging on to this life that he was leading. "Let's head inside, it's getting chilly."

They walked hand in hand and were comfortable with the silence. Once inside the house, Hermione called for Ron. He didn't answer. Harry still didn't let go of her hand. When Hermione started to pull away, he pulled her closer towards him, wrapping his arms around her. "He's no longer here, Hermione," he said.

"What - ?" she started but wasn't able to finish because Harry lowered his head towards her and cut off her question with a searing kiss.

At the kitchen table, they didn't notice a small piece of parchment with a simple, "Went home. I know you need some time together. I'll be back in the morning. Ron."

The following morning…

Ron walked inside Godric's Hollow carefully. He didn't want to see his best friends in a compromising situation. He left them yesterday knowing that they needed to be alone together. Surprisingly, he was ok with that.

When he walked inside, he saw that Hermione was still asleep on the couch, thankfully with Harry's shirt on or at least he presumed it was Harry's shirt she had on. It was big enough that it was up to her knees. He took a look around and didn't see any sign of Harry. Maybe he was in the bathroom or out in the grounds.

When Hermione started to stir, he went to her side and tapped her shoulder. "Wake up sleepyhead." Hermione moaned, stretched then opened her eyes gradually. "Hey there, Ron. Good morning." She yawned and sat up slowly. "Harry?" she asked.

"I didn't see him. I just arrived and brought you a big breakfast courtesy of Mum," he replied.

They both stood up and started to look for Harry in the house. After half an hour, they met in the living room, both with wide eyes, both stunned, both almost in the verge of panic, both unbelieving.

"He's gone, Ron. I can't believe he just disappeared like that…"

Three months later…

Hermione knocked on Ron's door frantically. She was almost hyperventilating as she was trying to catch her breath and at the same time, hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. She wanted to scream and let out all the fear and all the pain and confusion that she was feeling.

When Ron opened the door, her tears openly fell and she started to weep. Ron was alarmed. He suddenly was at a lost of what to do. He started to move forward to her when Hermione folded her arms around her middle as if protecting herself. She only said six words that would change their lives forever. "I'm pregnant, Ron. With Harry's child."