Author's Note: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts the Wizarding world are my creation; they belong to the talented J.K. Rowling. All of the quotations used in this story come from the Harry Potter series, written by her, and I have cited accordingly. I own only the plot (unfortunately).
Through the Years:
Ron and Hermione
If you asked anyone when he or she knew that Ron Weasley and Hermione were meant to be together, I doubt that you would get one single answer. If you ask Mrs. Molly Weasley, you might receive an answer of "why, the first time he mentioned 'this girl Hermione who thinks she knows everything' in one of his letters during their first year at Hogwarts." If you ask Miss Ginny Weasley, she might respond that "I knew when he started referring to her as 'my friend, Hermione' instead of 'that annoying know-it-all who bosses me around." If you ask any of the Hogwarts professors, they might look at each other, shrug, and say "they were simply always together." I could go on, but I think you get the idea. So, while those are all accurate observations, I would like to share with you my perspective, as I have gotten to know these two very well over the years.
"Yes..." said Ron softly, "it's the only way...I've got to be taken."
"NO!" Harry and Hermione shouted.
"That's chess!" snapped Ron. "You've got to make some sacrifices! I take one step forward and she'll take me – that leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry!"
"Do you want to stop Snape or not?"
"Look, if you don't hurry up, he'll already have the Stone!"
There was no alternative.
"Ready?" Ron called, his face pale but determined. "Here I go – now, don't hang around once you've won."
He stepped forward, and the white queen pounced. She struck Ron hard across the head with her stone arm, and he crashed to the floor – Hermione screamed but stayed on her square – the white queen dragged Ron to one side. He looked as if he'd been knocked out. (SS, p. 283)
He spoke of chess. He thought of chess. He played chess. But what he really was fighting for was the two of them. They were his friends, his extended family, two people that he would grow to realize he loved more than almost anything in his life, though in two very different ways. It did not occur to him not to sacrifice himself, for that was what he was sacrificing. He might have spoken of chess pieces, but it was his body that fell to the floor, his blood that flowed from the cuts on his face. And Hermione was not just another chess piece watching this sacrifice. It was she that screamed in terror, feelings that she did not yet know the meaning of making their presence known regardless of her choosing.
If she'd had time to stop and think (something that annoyed him and yet was the thing he loved most about her at the same time), she probably would have thought it odd that she was here, screaming in terror as she watched him tumble to the floor. After all, they had gotten off to a rocky start, what with his making her cry and her penchant for trying to prove to everyone that she was the most well-versed in the textbooks...even though no one was questioning it in the first place. They had certainly never come right out and declared each other "friends." Not out loud, anyway. She thought it to herself every day, and vowed to tone down the annoying know-it-all factor; the last thing she wanted was for this amazing friendship to end.
"I'm quite surprised the Mudbloods haven't all packed their bags by now," Malfoy went on. "Bet you five Galleons the next one dies. Pity it wasn't Granger—"
The bell rang at that moment, which was lucky; at Malfoy's last words, Ron had leapt off his stool, and in the scramble to collect bags and books, his attempts to reach Malfoy went unnoticed.
"Let me at him," Ron growled as Harry and Dean hung onto his arms. "I don't care, I don't need my wand, I'm going to kill him with my bare hands—" (CoS, p. 267)
It was a lesson that needed to be learned, and Draco Malfoy simply refused to listen: Ron Weasley and only Ron Weasley was allowed to poke fun at Hermione Granger. When Ron made jokes about Hermione, it was (nearly) always understood that he didn't mean anything. Ron had always been the comedic relief in the Trio, and humor was the way he went through life. Hermione knew it, and, whether she often admitted it or not, she needed it, needed him to make her laugh and smile, to remember not work too hard.
He didn't stop to think, didn't realize that Malfoy's friends were twice as large as he was. He had just heard his best friend being insulted, her intelligence, personality, and family being demeaned by someone who he would later realize to not even be worth the effort it took to fight against. Hermione never had the chance to see Ron nearly launch himself at Malfoy, his wand forgotten. She would have plenty of opportunities over the years to watch both Ron and Harry threaten Malfoy with their wands, but this time, almost physically coming to blows to defend the honor of a person for whom he had feelings that he did even yet understand, would forever remain unknown. Like so many aspects of their relationship, the little things – which were the ones that really mattered – went observed only through the eyes of other people.
... Hermione got there first –SMACK!
She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster. Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione raised her hand again.
"Don't you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul – you evil –"
"Hermione!" said Ron weakly, and he tried to grab her hand as she swung it back.
"Get off, Ron!"...
"Hermione!" Ron said again, sounding both stunned and impressed.
"Harry, you'd better beat him in the Quidditch final!" Hermione said shrilly. "You just better, because I can't stand if it Slytherin wins!"
"We're due in Charms," said Ron, still goggling at Hermione. (PoA, pp. 293-294)
Many boys don't like it when girls are too strong or independent. Somewhere in their addled brains, this makes them feel like they themselves aren't "worthy." Ron, too, never felt like he was truly worthy of Hermione, but it was never because he was afraid of her strength, her determination, her fire. These were the things that, as a more mature thirteen-year-old, he was finally starting to realize that he loved about her. However, they were also the things that he so often felt as if he lacked. "Why does she put up with me," he asked himself time and again, "when it's so obvious that she could do much better?"
He was amazed by her, startled at the angry, fiery passion that could be evoked within her. He admired it as if from a distance, as if it was something that he wanted to have, but what he didn't yet understand was that what we saw in her was only a mirror image of what was reflected in him. She impressed him just like he impressed her. Every time he tried to defend her, even when outnumbered, he impressed her with his ceaseless fight for the good, for the people who were important to him. She was a smart girl; some even called her the brightest witch of her age. He was a brave man, even if he consistently doubted his own abilities. And they completed each other, even before they knew what that concept meant.
Harry climbed into the common room and found Ron and Hermione having a blazing row. Standing ten feet apart, they were bellowing at each other, each scarlet in the face.
"Well, if you don't like it, you know what the solution is, don't you?" yelled Hermione; her hair was coming down out of its elegant bun now, and her face was screwed up in anger.
"Oh, yeah?" Ron yelled back. "What's that?"
"Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!"
Ron mouthed soundlessly like a goldfish out of water as Hermione turned on her heel and stormed up the girls' staircase to bed. Ron turned to look at Harry.
"Well," he sputtered, looking thunderstruck, "well – that just proves – completely missed the point –"
Harry didn't say anything. He liked being back on speaking terms with Ron too much to speak his mind right now – but he somehow thought that Hermione had gotten the point much better than Ron had. (GoF, p. 432)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Krum...shook Harry's hand, and then Ron's. Ron looked as though he was suffering some sort of painful internal struggle. Krum had already started walking away when Ron burst out, "Can I have your autograph?"
Hermione turned away, smiling... (GoF, p. 726)
They were growing up now. More so than ever before, there was turmoil in their lives, but now that turmoil had spread into their personal lives. They both wanted recognition. She wanted acknowledgment that their relationship was changing – they were best friends, always best friends, but that was slowly becoming not enough anymore. Not for her anyway, and, truth be told, it wasn't enough for him, either. She wanted acknowledgment, and he wanted – needed – a sign that she possibly cared as much about him as he did her. Before now, there hadn't been a need for this recognition; they were the only ones in each other's lives. But that all changed...with him. Suddenly, there was another man who noticed what Ron had been noticing for four years, who noticed how amazingly brilliant and courageously strong Hermione was, how beautiful she was, inside and out. And this older, more mature man had something that he didn't: the courage to tell Hermione how he felt. Ron tried, Merlin knows he tried. He just didn't know how to reach her on that level...not yet.
She knew how much courage it had taken to finally ask Viktor for his autograph, and it was more than she could have asked for. They didn't speak of their row about the Yule Ball; frankly, it was part of a night that they altogether wished to forget. But the simple gesture, asking for an autograph from the man whom he had admired but then quickly grown to hate because he presented a threat to the most important thing in Ron's life, showed her that Ron was trying, that he really did care for her, more than any apology ever could have. So, she smiled. She smiled because she knew that Ron's last-minute request was an effort to show her how mature he had become. She smiled because she still had to admit that she found it funny that Ron could think that she would want someone else...how could she, when she had found the perfect match for her four years before on the Hogwarts Express?
"Good luck, Ron," said Hermione, standing on tiptoe and kissing him on the cheek...
Ron seemed to come to himself slightly as they walked back across the Great Hall. He touched the spot on his face where Hermione had kissed him, looking puzzled, as though he was not quite sure what had just happened. (OotP, p. 404)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Oh," said Ron, his smile fading slightly. "Are you that bad at kissing?"
"Dunno," said Harry, who hadn't considered this, and immediately felt rather worried. "Maybe I am."
"Of course you're not," said Hermione, still scribbling away at her letter.
"How do you know?" said Ron in a sharp voice. (OotP, p. 458)
It was the first time she had kissed him. He wondered if anyone had noticed this besides him. Harry had, of course, but he doubted Hermione did. He also doubted that Hermione realized that he needed that reassurance as much, if not more, than Harry did. So, when she kissed him, it made him feel like a winner. No matter what happened during that Quidditch match, right then, at that particular moment in time, he had felt as if he could stop any Quaffed that came within a meter of him. It startled him, of course, this realization, five years in the making, but it was a happy startle, as if she had transferred some of her passion to him, as if she was silently telling him that he was the one. But more than anything, it made him feel lucky. He wondered if he could ever truly repay her for that.
But still, he wasn't convinced. Why didn't he see what was so obvious to everyone else? He didn't even know the answer. True, he knew that Hermione and Harry were more like brother and sister than a couple, but still, he couldn't help but wonder. The hero always gets the girl, right? The brightest witch of her age and the Boy-Who-Lived. They fit together, didn't they? If not the Boy-Who-Lived, then surely an international Quidditch star. And who was he? Ronald Weasley, a decent Quidditch player when he wasn't actually paying attention to what he was doing, generally a good student, though he didn't work as hard as Hermione or even Harry, and certainly not the type of man that Hermione deserved. Or so he thought. His fear and anxiety manifested themselves as irrational jealousy...and jealousy it was, but only in part. It was more so a fear that Hermione would one day leave him, give up, and find someone new, someone better. He wanted to keep her with him, and until he figured out how to say the words, he would fight with her in order to fight for her.
"Why don't you try hooking up with McLaggen, then Slughorn can make you King and Queen Slug –"
"We're allowed to bring guests," said Hermione, who for some reason had turned a bright, boiling scarlet, "and I was going to ask you to come, but if you think it's that stupid then I won't bother!"
..."You were going to ask me?" asked Ron, in a completely different voice.
"Yes," said Hermione angrily. "But obviously if you'd rather I hooked up with McLaggen..."
There was a pause while Harry continued to pound the resilient pod with a trowel.
"No, I wouldn't," said Ron, in a very quiet voice. (HBP, pp. 282-283)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head so that she looked like a strange, feathery model of the solar system.
"You shouldn't leave Lavender waiting outside," she said quietly. "She'll wonder where you've gone."
She walked very slowly and erectly toward the door. Harry glanced at Ron, who was looking relieved that nothing worse had happened.
"Oppugno!" came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: The little flock of birds was speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron...
Hermione wrenched open the door and disappeared through it. Harry thought he heard a sob before it slammed. (HBP, p. 302)
It would be an understatement to say that everything about their relationship came to a head during sixth year. So many moments, large and small, defined who they were now as individuals and all that they had become as a couple. They had both tried many times to tell the other how they felt without actually using the words. This year would show them that assuming the other person knew what was never actually spoken could only work for a limited amount of time. So, they each tried, in their own way, to bring the feelings that had bubbled under the surface for so long to the forefront. She made the first move...though it depended on who you spoke to if it actually counted as a "move" or not. Regardless, it was a step in a direction that had previously gone unmapped. The issue of Hermione possibly loving another man was put to rest in her mind – she'd thought she'd given him the sign, the go-ahead to pursue something more, something deeper.
But his insecurities held him back, like they always had. Perhaps Hermione should have addressed that issue, rather than hoping he knew what she indirectly meant when she asked him to the party. But she did not, and that decision – coupled with Ron's consistent worry that he didn't deserve her – resulted in a year of pain for both of them, pain that could have easily been avoided if they had only talked to each other. But love, as they say, is a fire, and everyone knows that playing with fire can be dangerous. They hadn't seen many examples of love, outside of their own families (but that was obviously a different sort of love), that had lasted forever. And even though everyone suspected that Ron and Hermione's love was the forever kind of love, no one voiced it out loud. Why they did not remains a mystery. Perhaps it was because it wasn't just Ron and Hermione who wanted to place their trust in their relationship; perhaps it meant something more for others, as well, and to say the dream out loud made it vulnerable to attack. If it remained an unspoken certainty, maybe nobody or nothing could hurt it.
By the end of sixth year, a year full of sadness and loss, however, it needed to be acknowledged, brought out in the open. "Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world," Professor McGonagall told them. Everywhere around them, love was literally the be all, end all. Love was what they were fighting for, fighting with, and, in some cases, fighting against. No matter the situation, it was finally being acknowledged, given a place.
So, off they went, on a search for mysterious objects they had little knowledge of. They went because they were a part of a Trio that had become so much more than a group of three friends. Over the years, they had become a family, a brother and sister to a person who'd had little love in his life. And along the way, they realized that their love also deserved to be celebrated. They put aside the hurt, the anger, and the confusion that had defined their relationship for six years to finally just be them: Ron and Hermione. And today, they became not just Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, but Ron and Hermione Weasley. While we rejoice in their love today, I think that everyone can agree that their love hasn't just become apparent.
As Ron and Hermione's best friend, I've had the opportunity to witness these and many more amazing moments that show their love for one another. There was not just one moment that made me realize that they were meant to be together forever. It was a series of moments over the course of half a decade that made me realize that our infamous Trio was indeed made up of several different parts, one of which involved my two best friends falling in love with each other. I feel honored to be a part of that with them.
So, let us raise our glasses to Ron and Hermione, whose love has spanned the years and will continue forever. May the laughter be plentiful and the bickering...well, I suppose some things never change.
Author's Note: If you didn't figure it out, this story was Harry's best man toast on Ron and Hermione's wedding day. The moments from the books in italics are his memories of Ron and Hermione's developing relationship throughout the years (ergo, "Through the Years" as the title). The "smart girl" and "brave man" reference is an allusion to emmilyne's wonderful story, "Smart Girls." It is one of my favorite stories, and I only wish I had her brilliance and talent at writing. The "brighest witch of her age" reference, is, of course in memory of Sirius Black from the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, as well as all the people along the way who commented on Hermione's intelligence.