Every bit of it belongs to JK Rowling. If you recognize it, it's hers, not mine!

The Seventh Year boys' dormitory was empty.

Neville was with his grandmother who had found him immediately after the battle and hugged him so fiercely that they'd both broken down into tears. Dean and Seamus were doing some much needed catching up and were, no doubt, breaking out illegally smuggled firewhiskey with some of the other older students. And Harry had disappeared to find Ginny and "take care of something." There was no doubt exactly what needed taken care of.

Ron was alone.

He sat in the middle of his four poster bed and looked around. Of the five beds, only two looked slept in. Harry's, Dean's, and his own were perfectly and neatly made, almost as if they were waiting patiently for their occupants to return. Otherwise, the room looked much the same as it had the last time he'd been there.

It was slightly comforting to know that, despite the fact that the rest of the school was entirely different, something had remained untouched and protected.

It was weird to be back. The year that had passed seemed to have run the length of ten, and it felt to Ron as though it had been a very long time since he'd last been in this bed. So much was different now. He was, strangely, so much older.

Through his haze, he heard faint footsteps nearing the door, and he looked up to see Hermione enter. She looked nervous, as though she wasn't quite sure she was supposed to be there and somewhat scared that she was going to lose Gryffindor points if she were caught. She, too, had disappeared right after they left Dumbledore's office, mumbling something about needing to talk to Professor McGonagall.

Ron stopped himself at the thought.

It was no longer Dumbledore's office. Dumbledore was dead.

He was dead just like the rest of them. Like Sirius and Mad-Eye and Dobby and Tonks and Lupin and Snape.

And Fred.

He was dead. Just like his brother.

Ron felt very ill.


Hermione might as well have whispered the word, she spoke so softly as she stepped into the room. She sounded as she looked- extremely tired. Her eyes were red and slightly puffy, and he knew she had probably been crying. The realization didn't do much to make him feel better. But her presence did.

"Where is everyone?" She seemed to have noticed the empty beds surrounding him.

"Neville's with his gran, and Dean and Seamus are… somewhere. I don't know."

"And Harry?"

"Ginny," he said simply, looking at his feet.


There was an awkward silence, and Ron found it strange. He couldn't remember the last time such a silence had stood between the two of them. It had been a long time ago that they were too shy or nervous to speak around each other. When there was silence, it was usually because they were furious with each other. Not because they didn't know what to say.

Finally, he broke it. Looking up at her briefly, he said, "Did you go to your room?"

She nodded, clearly bothered by something that was weighing on her mind. "It's empty. I saw Parvati. She was going to see Lavender." The silence returned briefly, and Hermione looked as thought she might burst into tears. "She's not… so good…"

Ron's eyes closed of their own accord, and he unconsciously raised a hand to his forehead. It seemed as if years had passed since he'd last thought of Lavender Brown. The image of her falling from the balcony and lying barely conscious as Greyback attacked her flashed in his mind. Hermione had saved her life. He had done nothing.

"I was never friends with them."

Ron opened his eyes and looked at Hermione, surprised to see her lower lip, like her voice, trembling slightly. He raised his eyebrows in question.

"With Lavender and Parvati," she went on, her voice wavering. "I just always thought they were so… stupid… And I thought I was better than them." She looked disgusted with herself and still dangerously on the brink of tears. The next sentence was more uttered than anything, almost as if she were speaking to herself. "And I think I hated Lavender…"

"Hermione, you saved her life."

She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "What does it even matter? She's probably better off dead than the way she's going to be now."

He couldn't believe she'd said that, and he told her so. Going automatically on the defensive, he snapped at her, "Is Bill better off dead, too, then?"

Her eyes locked on his instantly, and she looked horrified. "I didn't mean that," she said immediately. "Ron, I swear, that's not-"

"It's fine," he interrupted her, feeling bad that he'd made her feel bad. "I know. I'm sorry."

He reached out to her, and she took his hand. The feel of her hand in his gave him some kind of sudden strength. As he pulled her to him, she whispered, "I promise that's now what I meant. It's just… Lavender. I don't know."

He nodded, understanding her without explanation. He didn't want to talk about Lavender.

"Are you okay?" she asked quietly, sitting next to him as he pulled her down to the bed with him.

He had known the question was going to come sooner or later. He didn't know what the answer was, so he shrugged indifferently and muttered a barely-there, "Yeah."

"Ron, it's me. Please. Tell me the truth." She took her hand from his and instead wrapped her entire arm around his waist as she moved closer to him, turning slightly so that she was facing him better. He looked at her. "You don't have to pretend."

Her eyes were searching his, locked on his so intently that he was pretty positive she could see inside of him. She was dirty, bits of dirt and mud speckled her clothes and her face. Her sleeves were ripped, fringing and fraying away from her shirt, and there was a hole at the neckline. He stared at her. Her eyes were so brown, the exact same shade as her hair. Her hair. It was crazy in a way he hadn't seen since they were years younger. Though never completely under control, her hair had tamed itself greatly over the years, finally falling into what was basically a mass of soft curls. Now, though, her hair was frizzy and bushy and the curls were all over her head and seemed to be fighting with each other. Another image flashed into his head- that of a tiny, bushy-haired girl with teeth too big for her small mouth and a brain much too large for an eleven year old.

At this thought, Ron found himself feeling worse than he'd ever felt in his life, and, overcome with a sudden bout of uncontrollable emotion, he felt himself dissolve into instantaneous sobs.

He was immediately mortified when he realized what was happening.

He dropped his face into his hands, embarrassed beyond belief and truly horrified at himself. He felt both of her hands clasp his shoulders as she turned him toward her. He tried to resist, but she had apparently been hit by a sudden bout of strength, and he found his body facing hers before he could stop it.

"Look at me," she commanded, grasping his face in her hands and literally forcing him to obey. She pulled his own hands away from his face and once again took hold of it. "Ron, everything will be okay." She spoke slowly and determinedly, and he got the feeling that she was attempting to convince herself as much as she was him. "I promise you. Everything is okay now."

She didn't understand. She couldn't possibly understand. Ron himself couldn't even understand what was going through his brain at that moment. He couldn't come up with the reason for his tears or with the reason for his emotions. But she was staring at him, and he thought she looked so much at that moment like the tiny girl he'd first met seven years before in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. He didn't know why this realization was hitting him so forcefully.

He blurted out the first thing that came to his mind,

"Hermione, I'm sorry!"

She looked at him like he was from another planet. Clearly she had not expected his first reaction to be an apology, but he couldn't help it. "What?" She was confused. "Sorry for what?"

"For making you cry!" he blurted out, willing himself to stop before he embarrassed himself further. He couldn't, though; his mouth kept right on talking despite his better efforts. "When we were little, and you know, I was mad because you were so good at Charms. With the feathers, you know," he could hear himself rambling, his words scattered with random tears and hiccups. He was speaking very quickly, unable to slow himself or, indeed, to stop. "But I was just jealous because you could do it and I couldn't. I was just a little kid, I'm sorry, Hermione, I didn't know…" His voice trailed, as he realized he didn't know what it was that he didn't know. "I just, I know I was horrible and I was mean, and I shouldn't have made fun of you. I was just a kid, but I should have known better, and I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry."

He was out of breath, and she was staring at him as though he were mad. He had a feeling she probably thought his brain had been affected by the fighting and was going to leave the room and seek medical and mental attention. But she didn't. She just stared at him for what was the longest moment Ron could ever remember. Finally, she spoke.

"Are you talking about the troll?"

Her words were spoken so pristinely and so clearly and very much just like herself. And he couldn't believe he'd just blurted all of that out.

"Yes," he said sheepishly, lowering his eyes so that he didn't have to look at her. "I'm just sorry… I didn't mean to make you cry."

She giggled.

Hermione was not a very giggly person. She had moments, of course, most of them with Ginny, where she would get tickled over something and break into a random fit of giggles. However, she was generally very serious, and when she found something funny, Ron would define her as more of a laugher really than a giggler. So he was surprised to hear her giggle now, especially after he'd just poured his heart out to her amidst a fit of sobbing.

She noticed the offended look on his face and hurried to explain herself. "Oh, Ron!" She shook her head quickly and moved her hands from his face to his shoulders. "Ron, that was forever ago," she said gently, giving him a sweet smile. "And trust me. That was not the last time you made me cry."

He did not know how, with all of the monstrous brainpower that she possessed, that she reckoned that was supposed to make him feel better. He was quite aware of the fact that he was a giant arse, and it pained him more than slightly to realize that Hermione did, too. Or at least to hear her voice it.

His eyes flickered up to his, and he was surprised to see that she did not appear angry or sardonic or anything like that. She was smiling at him, a very shy, secret kind of smile.

"It was the first, though?"

"It was the first."

He stared at her for a few more minutes until he finally worked up the nerve to say what was really on his mind. What had been on his mind for several months now. "Harry said you cried in the forest after I left." He spoke very quietly, knowing that he was bringing up something that they'd previously had an unspoken agreement not to bring up.

Hermione's smile faded as he spoke. Her eyes turned just a bit darker, and her hands fell away from his shoulders and rested in her lap as she turned her head away from his. She did not say anything.

"I'm sorry."

It was not the first time that he had apologized for his actions, but it was the first time he'd done it without being under duress for fear that she was going to set a large group of pecking birds at his eyes.

"You're an adult now." Her words confused him, and his silence obviously prodded her to finish her explanation. "Before, with the troll, you were a kid," she explained simply, still not looking at him. "You said you were just young and didn't know better. You're not a kid anymore."

The answer sliced through him like a knife. He didn't think it was possible that he could feel worse than he felt at that moment. "Hermione, I'm sorry," he pleaded desperately.

"You hurt me."

He was wrong. He felt worse at that moment.

He didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. The same awkward silence that had fallen over them earlier took over once again, and he found himself staring at the side of her face, furious with himself that he could hurt her so badly.He hated himself at that moment.

Finally, after what seemed like another ten years, she turned her head and looked at him. "You shouldn't have left," she said simply.

He felt himself give a jerk of the head and heard himself whisper once again, "I'm sorry…"

"I thought you were dead." Her eyes held no trace of kidding. "I thought for sure that you were dead. I knew you couldn't go home, and you couldn't go to Hogwarts. I thought you were dead."

"But I'm not."

"You don't understand!" she cried suddenly. "I screamed your name when you left, and I begged you not to go. And you left anyway!"

He knew she was telling the truth. He knew because he had heard her. He was immediately disgusted with himself once again, remembering it all. He'd heard her pleading with him and trying to catch up. He had ignored her. He'd even silently cursed her for choosing Harry. And then he'd Disapparated.

"I wanted to come back!" It was the truth. The second he'd gone, he wanted to turn around and go back. But the Snatchers had gotten to him first, and then after that, he'd had no hope of finding them. "I really did, Hermione, I swear. I'm sorry."

She stared at him. Her eyes looked slightly wet, and he hoped she wouldn't start crying again, not when he was trying to apologize for making her do just that.

"It was a mistake, Hermione," he said solemnly. "And I'll never do it again."

"Do what?"

It was simple. He couldn't understand why she didn't just know. "Leave," he said simply. "I'll never leave again."

It seemed to be all she needed to hear, and he knew instantly that she had forgiven him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face into his chest, smothering herself in his shirt. He hugged her back, marveling at how perfectly she fit into his arms. She pulled him as close to her as he could possibly go, and he let her. His tears were gone, and he did not think that she was crying. He knew, however, that they both needed to be comforted, and this was the best comfort available. He ran a hand over her thick hair, realizing again that there were more tangles than curls tonight. This time, though, instead of making him feel horrible, he felt himself smile.

Hours seemed to pass, but he was sure it was just a matter of minutes. They continued to hold each other in silence until she finally spoke. Her voice was muffled slightly because her face was still pressed into his shirt. "Are you tired?"

He nodded. The day had exhausted him, and he knew that sleep would be a most welcome invitation.

"I should go then," she whispered, pulling back slightly. He regretted the small distance that now fell between them but was glad that she did not remove her arms from around his neck. She looked at him with a mixture of emotions he couldn't quite figure out.

"No. I don't want to let you go."

He had never spoken more honestly in his life. Something in the back of his head told him that he should be embarrassed, that saying that was about the girliest thing he could have possibly managed. But he did not care. No one was around. She would not make fun of him.

Her eyes softened immensely, and she smiled shyly at him. He brushed a hand through her hair once more.

"You can stay here."

"What if we get caught?"

He rolled his eyes, not believing her. "What're they going to do? Expel us?"

She giggled again. He thought it was an awfully sweet sound. "What if someone sees?"

"I don't care," he said, exasperated. "The whole bloody world can see for all I care right now."

It was the truth, too. He didn't care, there was nothing he could possibly be embarrassed about. He just really, truly did not want to let her go.

Her voice was so soft, and his heart lifted when she simply answered, "Okay then."

She took her arms from around his neck and seemed to be waiting for him to do something. He was suddenly hit with the very real reality of what was about to happen. Swallowing his ridiculous bit of nervousness, he took his own hands back and busied himself taking off his shoes. He wasn't ready for bed, still in the same clothes he'd worn all day. But then again, so was she.

When his shoes were removed, she stood up, he hoped to give him a chance to get situated. He untucked the bed covers from their neatly made corners and pulled the blankets down before crawling under them. His heart was beating so fast that he couldn't begin to predict what to do next. So he just held a hand out to her, and to his great relief, she took it, kicking her own shoes off as she climbed back onto the bed, flicking her wand mindlessly over her shoulder and drawing the curtains closed around them. He pulled the covers back for her, and she slid under them wordlessly.

This was, without question, the scariest moment of his life.

Giant spiders, werewolves, escaped convicts, Death Eaters, Unforgivables, even You-Know-Who himself did not compare to this.

Never before had Hermione ever been in his bed. She'd been on his bed at the Burrow and in the tent. She'd even slept beside him a few times while they were at Grimmauld Place. But never had she ever slept with him in his bed.

He was positive that his heart was going to beat out of his chest.

He wondered if she was equally as nervous, but a glance at her face showed him that she was, in fact, clearly a little uncertain as to what they were supposed to do next. It wasn't that he expected them to do that or anything! Obviously he wouldn't have minded, but he knew better. She was, after all, Hermione.

Hemrione Granger.

God, she was beautiful. And crazy. And bossy. And a bit of a swot. And beautiful. She was, very simply, just Hermione.

And maybe he loved her for it.

He wasn't one of those saps, though. He also wasn't anywhere close to telling her that he loved her. Or that maybe he loved her. Or whatever. For once in their lives, they actually had a future to look forward to, and he figured that there was all the time in the world now to do things the proper way.

His mind flashed back to hours earlier when she'd thrown herself at him. He could still feel the pressure from her lips as she'd crushed them against his own, and he felt an involuntary burning start to flicker from somewhere deep within him. He'd been wanting to kiss her for months, okay years, but he'd never found the courage or the right moment. And then she'd finally just gone and done it for him. He figured that was very much a Hermione-way of doing things. She'd never let him miss a deadline on anything, even if it meant she had to do his homework for him at the last minute. This situation, he reckoned, wasn't that far off from one of those times. At that moment when she'd kissed him, they'd both been wondering if the deadline was in the very, very near future.

Thank god it wasn't.

Of course, he'd've started caring about bloody house-elves a lot sooner if he'd known that was all it took to get her throwing herself at him. Hell, he would have worn that stupid spew button from the first second she pulled the hideous things out in fourth year.

"What're you smiling at?" Her voice pulled him straight out of his thoughts, and he looked straight at her. He tried to wipe the smile he wasn't even aware of away so he wouldn't have to admit to his thoughts, but much to his horror, he let out a laugh that he had absolutely no control over.

"What's so funny?"

He shook his head, "It's nothing. I just… whenever I thought about all this stuff, this isn't… what I imagined."

"What stuff?"

To be so damn smart, sometimes she missed out on the most obvious things. Either that, or she was a Death Eater in disguise, sent to torture him.

"This stuff," he answered simply, raising a finger to motion between them. "This us stuff."

A wicked little grin played on her lips, and he was quite sure that she was taking extra delight in his misery. "What about it?"

Well, if she wanted to know… "When I imagined you in this bed, it wasn't like this."

"You imagined me… What?" She sat up slightly and eyed the sheets around her warily, as if she was checking to see if they were sticky.

He laughed loudly. It felt good. "Oh, stop. I just got here."

She rolled her eyes and moved to lay back down. "You shouldn't be imagining girls in your bed, Ron," she said in an annoyingly chiding voice. "Especially me."

"Why especially you?"

"Because I don't do that kind of stuff."

"You're here now, aren't you?"

Busted. She seemed to realize the irony of her statement, and once again, she rolled her eyes. "I'm not here for that."

"I know. That's why I said it wasn't like I imagined."

She was scandalized, that much was obvious. Her cheeks went a bright pink color, and her eyes flew open to about twice their normal size. She started stuttering wordlessly, and finally he laughed.

"Oh, stop it, Hermione, I'm only joking."

He wasn't, but she did not need to know this.

"I was serious, though," he went on, "when I said none of this was how I imagined it." He didn't know how to explain all of it. She was usually so brilliant that it annoyed him when she didn't just automatically get things.

Maybe she got it a little, though. "Life's not always what you imagine."

"I just don't get it." He was speaking very openly and candidly now. She was watching him closely, and he was almost amazed at how easy it was to talk to her. "I don't get how the worst day of your life can also be the best day…"

It didn't seem fair, didn't seem right at all, that he'd gone from finally having all his dreams come true one moment to watching his brother die right in front of him an hour later. He felt a bit guilty for being up here, so happy with Hermione, when the rest of his family was probably downstairs miserable, mourning the loss of a part of them. He, too, was grieving, but he didn't think he'd be able to face his mother right now, knew he wouldn't be able to face George…

"Fred's a hero."

He looked at her, half-afraid that she had suddenly learned Occlumency- something that would undoubtedly be very, very bad for him. She hadn't, though. He knew that they were just so in synch with each other, had been so close for so long, that she could read him like a book. And nobody, absolutely nobody, could read a book more certainly than Hermione Granger.

"I know," he whispered, his eyes wandering slightly before coming to rest and lock on hers. "It's still not fair."

She shook her head. "No. It's not."

"It doesn't even seem real."

They were speaking in such hushed voices now that he couldn't quite figure how they'd gotten here from the giggling and teasing from seconds before.

"I'm glad you're okay," she whispered, sliding a bit closer to him and slipping an arm under his head and around his neck. "I was scared. When we got separated… I was worried, obviously, about everyone. But mostly about you."

She was so honest with him. It didn't bother him or scare him or anything like that. It really just made him feel good that she was so concerned. He'd half-panicked when he'd looked around for her in the Great Hall after returning from the Shrieking Shack and noticed that she wasn't beside him. He'd caught up with her later, though, thankfully.

And now here they were.

"Can you believe it's done now?"

She shook her head just a little bit. "Finally," she breathed. "Finally everything is safe."

"It's weird, isn't it? We haven't had to sleep without our wands at the ready in months. Now it's just…"

"Over," she finished promptly.

"Yeah, but just starting, too," he said quietly, looking at her in a way he hoped conveyed everything he was thinking but was too afraid to say. He wasn't exactly afraid, but he was very thankful she had a way of reading his mind.

Her smile told him everything he needed to know.

"It's going to be so different. Trying to go back to normal after all of this."

"Yeah, normal's not a word I'm sure I remember the definition to," he joked. "It'll be weird just to go home, won't it?"

Her eyes flittered away from his momentarily, and he realized she probably didn't even know where her home was at the moment.

"When are you going to get your parents?" he asked warily, half-afraid she might start crying or something.

Instead, she just shrugged, lifted the shoulder that wasn't lying flat against the bed and shook her head a little. "I dunno," she mumbled. "Soon, I guess…"

"What's wrong?" He could tell by looking at her that something was worrying her. "I thought you'd be excited to see them again."

"I am," she said quickly. "It's just… I'm worried. Is all."

"Worried about what?"

"Worried I messed it up or something," she confessed quietly. "What if I did something wrong, and they're stuck like that permanently? Or I hurt them trying to reverse it?"

He shook his head wordlessly. "Hermione. Trust me, you did not mess anything up. You're the smartest person I've ever met in my entire life. I'm sure you did everything perfectly."

She blushed a little at the flattery. "I hope so. I was very nervous when I did it."

"It's fine," he assured her. "They'll be back to normal like nothing ever happened."

"You'll go with me, wont you?" She looked at him hopefully. "To Australia? And help me?"

He smiled at her, wondering how her brain worked the way it did sometimes. "Of course I'll go with you," he said. "But you won't need any help. Especially not from me."

He was joking, but she seemed so serious. "Why do you do that? Why do you put yourself down and refuse to believe good things about yourself?"

He was confused. "What're you talking about?"

"Especially not from me," she mimicked in a low voice. "Why is it so hard for you to believe that you could help me?"

"Uhh…. Maybe because, as I've already stated, you're the smartest person I've ever met, and if there I something you can't do, I certainly wouldn't be of any help." It was obvious.

But Hermione just shook her head. "Don't you realize all the things you help me with? Ron, you're very smart, I don't know why you don't give yourself proper credit?"

This was another conversation he didn't want to have right now. He didn't want her telling him that he was wasting his life by not applying himself to his full potential. It was an argument they'd been having for seven years. And he really didn't want to argue right now.

"When do you want to leave?" he asked, changing the subject slightly.

"Anytime. As soon as possible, I suppose."

He nodded and then swallowed. "We should wait, though. You know… until after…. Fred… You know."

He felt hot tears prickle in the corner of his eyes.

The hand that was under his head wrapped itself in his hair loosely, and she brought her free hand up to rest against the top of his cheek. "We can take as long as you want, Ron. I'm not in a rush."

He shook his head quickly, thankful that the tears didn't actually fall. "No, you haven't even talked to your parents in a year."

"I know. But they're safe and perfectly happy as far as I know. We can take the time. You need to be with your family. Fred deserves that."

"Fred deserves a lot of things he's never going to get," he said darkly, closing his eyes to the feel of her fingers in his hair.

"He does," she whispered quietly. "But he's one of the most brilliant people I've ever met in my life. And no one, no one I've ever known, has ever just lived the way Fred did. Except maybe George." Her words were so soothing to him, almost like a lullaby his mother used to sing to him when he was a child. "They just… Each day, they just live, you know?"

Her explanation might not make sense to some people. But he understood her perfectly. She was speaking about Fred in the present tense, but that was okay because Fred, while gone, would always be around. Ron knew this. He would be around through his legacy and through the shop and definitely through George.


"George won't be able to handle it," he muttered, his eyes still closed.

Hermione's fingers continued to dance lightly through his hair. "Yes, he will," she said assuredly. "He will because that's what Fred would want. Ron, I know it's hard, and I know you're sad. Everyone is," she went on slowly. "But Fred wouldn't want that. He, more than anyone, would want everyone to just go on. And celebrate. And live. And laugh," she finished firmly.

He opened his eyes and saw her staring back at him. "You are so smart," he whispered.

Hermione just smiled, her teeth extremely white and perfectly straight, thanks to a misaimed Fourth Year hex that seemed to have happened ages ago. "That's what I'm here for," she said jokingly. "Or at least that's what I hear."

And then she giggled.

Again with the giggling. He thought it was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard.

So he kissed her.

He kissed her because she really was that smart. And he kissed her because she was beautiful. And he kissed her because she understood more about him than anyone ever had in his entire life. And he kissed her because she, out of everyone, was able to laugh in the wake of tragedy.

And his brother would have shown her great respect for that.

In fact, Fred would have adored her for it.

His hand was on her shoulder, one of hers still wrapping hair between its fingers and the other cupping his cheek. She tasted a bit like cinnamon, and he wondered mindlessly if she'd had something to eat since their last kiss. Their last kiss… Their last kiss couldn't have been more different from this one.

There was no strangled urgency, no crushing of lips and crazed moment of passion. Or whatever it had been.

And best of all, there was no audience watching.

While he'd been only vaguely aware of Harry's presence the first time round, he was very well aware of the fact that, at the moment, they were completely and totally alone. And he did his most to take advantage of that fact as best he could.

Kissing her was so, so different from any other kissing he'd done. Of course, his total life's experience prior to this amounted to one Lavender Brown. And Lavender and Hermione were two very, very different girls.

Lavender was nice enough, but she was very needy and required constant reassurance. After their original post-Quidditch snogging session, she hadn't so much as let him hold her hand without asking him first if he really cared about her. He'd been forced into telling her a lot of false things just to get in a little kissing. He felt bad about it afterwards, of course, but in the moment, he would have told her anything just so she didn't stop him going up her shirt. Hermione, though, never asked him anything- not about that anyway. He knew, of course, that he wouldn't have had to lie to her about anything anyway, but it was still nice to not be forced into ridiculous sappy confessions. They'd communicated "secret" feelings for years now, albeit sometimes in the manner of hateful words or belligerent canaries, but even during those times, they knew what lay beneath those hidden messages. Even if they had been a bit stubborn and a little slow on getting things moving. But that had all changed in the past couple of years. In fact, they'd had an unspoken agreement between them ever since the night he'd been very publicly dumped in the middle of the Common Room. It hadn't been the right time then, and they'd pushed it aside even longer in order to focus on Harry.

But now it was out there, and there was no going back now.

Not ever he hoped.

He couldn't quite believe how nice it was kissing her, and he didn't even care how lame that sounded. His lips glided over hers as if they'd been put there on his body for no other reason, and when her own parted slightly and he felt the tip of her tongue brush his, he was pretty sure he was going to forget how to breathe on his own. He pushed back on her shoulder just a bit and was delighted when she allowed herself to be moved until she was lying on her back, never once breaking the kiss. Even, in fact, drawing him closer as both of her hands were now wrapped in his hair.

He wasn't sure exactly how he ended up on top of her, lying flush against her, but when he began to worry about hurting her and went to reposition himself, she simply pulled him more deeply into her kiss.

There was nothing like this. Nothing.

He kissed her with seven years of pent-up emotion. Seven years of love, anger, jokes, danger, jealousy, teasing, sadness, elatedness, and seven years of friendship. And she returned every bit of it.

The hand that was resting against her shoulder slid up her neck to gently brush her cheek. Her skin was so soft, so perfect under his hand. He couldn't believe any of this was real.

They finally drew apart, both needing to breathe and both knowing that it was probably best to just stop now. There was so much time now that they didn't need to rush anything. And they didn't want to. He just wanted her near. That was enough for now.

"We finally get us," she said, a bit breathlessly, beaming up at him.

He knew without asking exactly what she meant. They'd spent a long time, years, focusing on Harry. It was worth it, of course. Harry, the whole save the world bit, all of it. But they'd put everything else in their lives on the backburner. And it had been that way nearly the entire time they'd known each other.

Finally, they had the chance to focus on themselves.

They had a future.

It was unreal.

"It's hard to believe," he muttered, moving off of her and once again lying on his side as he faced her profile. "Finally."

She rolled onto her side to face him and tucked one hand under her head while her other sought the one of his closest to her. She entwined their fingers and brought the hands to rest between them. "Let's go to sleep."

He agreed. He was exhausted. He felt that if he went to sleep, he'd be able to sleep for years.

Nodding, he smiled shyly at her. "Okay, let's."

Hermione returned grin, but she withdrew her hand from his a second later. He felt a little worried at the sudden distance she was creating, but his heart lifted tremendously, when he saw her reach around to her back pocket and draw out her wand. Wordlessly, she leaned over him and set it on the bedside table behind him. Following her cue, he handed her his own wand, and she placed it beside her own.

It was a huge unspoken motion. Something so simple that symbolized everything.

They were safe for the first time in ages. They could sleep without having to take turns on watch. They could, finally, relax.

She settled back in beside him, and this time, he took her hand. Everything in the whole moment just felt right, and he lifted his arm slightly as she slid underneath it.

He could tell she was asleep within seconds, and he could feel himself going the same way very quickly. It was so easy. He could hardly believe it. But then again, believing it was easy. They'd known each other for so long, they'd been through everything- life, death and everything in between, and they knew each other inside and out.

He thought she was beautiful and that they were perfect for each other. He could see his whole future when he looked at her, and seeing any kind of future had proven to be a difficult task for him more often than not. They didn't have to worry about anything. They didn't have to say anything. They didn't have to do anything. They just knew.

Because, above everything else, they were friends. Best friends.

And that's what made it all so simple.

He felt his eyes flutter shut and drifted off into sleep almost immediately, knowing, without a doubt, that everything was fine.

And some things… were perfect.

Again with the sappiness, I know! Please review!!