Husbands and Wives by Gluglug
Summary: H/Hr. Post DH, including the Crap, er epilogue. As Harry and Hermione's marriages crumble around them, they turn to each other for mutual support and maybe something more.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J.K. Rowling. No infringement intended, just borrowing.
Hermione Granger Weasley angrily stepped out onto her porch, slamming the door behind her. She and her husband of nearly fifteen years had just had another row, this one worst than the last. Tears of frustration ran down her cheeks as she hastily wiped them away and wandered into her backyard to stare at the night sky above.
It was an unusually warm early fall evening and the sky was illuminated by a full moon, but she could still see some stars twinkling in the heavens. She had a special place in her heart for Astronomy as she had enjoyed the subject immensely during her Hogwarts days. She immediately recognized The Big and Little Dipper and the Dog Star, Sirius.
"Hermione?" A familiar male voice startled her.
She turned and saw her next door neighbor and best friend of over 25 years standing about three feet away.
"Harry! You scared me."
"Sorry," he shrugged sheepishly. I was just stargazing and I heard you slam the door. Is everything okay?"
Hermione sighed, taking a step toward him. "No, not really. Ron and I had a terrible row."
Harry looked concerned. "Hermione, do you want sit and talk about it? Ginny and Lily have gone to bed."
Hermione nodded and Harry led her through the garden gate that adjoined their houses. They settled themselves on the porch swing, which was illuminated by a couple of lanterns. Hermione's eyes adjusted to the light and she looked at Harry closely. He looked tired.
"So what did you and Ron fight about?"
"Well, I was telling him that I had been offered another job at the Ministry. I've been getting tired of the legal grind and a colleague recommended me for a position with the International Wizarding Relations department. I would be traveling the world, as an ambassador for British wizards. Since Rose and Hugo are now at Hogwarts for most of the year, I thought it would be a good change for me and I wouldn't have to feel guilty about leaving the kids behind. But Ron took it personally and he thinks I'm taking a job with a lot of travel to get away from him."
"First of all, congratulations on the job offer, you must've been flattered to be considered for such a high profile role!" Harry said proudly as he reached over and squeezed her shoulder.
"Thanks," Hermione replied, noting that Ron didn't even congratulate her on her news. "Anyway, I tried to explain to Ron that it had nothing to do with him, but he didn't believe me. And things just escalated from there."
Harry nodded. "I see. But you're wondering if maybe there's some truth in Ron's accusation."
Hermione wasn't surprised at Harry's shrewd observation. He had always been pretty good at reading her, and vice versa.
"Maybe. I was looking forward to taking the job to travel the world and see all of the places I've only read about. I used to travel a lot with my Mum and Dad as a kid and I miss that, seeing other cultures and learning all about them."
Harry was watching her closely as she continued.
"But maybe wanting to get away from Ron is the reason I want to take it. Now that the kids are away, we tend to bicker more. When the kids are around, I tend to hold my tongue when Ron said something that bugs me, because I don't think it's healthy for them to see their parents arguing all the time. But now…."
"Without the kids there, you no longer have an excuse to hold you back from responding?" Harry asked.
"Exactly." Hermione sighed. "Sometimes I think Rose and Hugo are the only things holding us together. I just don't enjoy Ron's company anymore, all of the things that used to bug me when we were kids, are just magnified. The way he eats, or more like shovels food into his mouth and I no longer find his inappropriate remarks endearing."
"Did you ever really find that endearing?" Harry asked, his eyebrows raised, remembering their bickering at Hogwarts.
"Maybe when I fell in love and married him, I suppose."
"Hermione, can I ask you something personal?"
"Of course, Harry. You're my best friend, you can ask me anything!"
Harry paused. "Do you still love Ron?"
The question hung in the air for a moment. Harry asked aloud the question that Hermione didn't even want to ask herself. Did she still love Ron? After all, he was the father of her children and a constant presence in her life since the age of eleven.
"Honestly? I don't know, Harry."
"Well, I think you need to find the answer before you do anything further. Don't make any rash decisions about taking this job because it could impact your marriage forever."
"I only have a week to think it over before they open it again and advertise the position." Hermione sighed.
"Well, it looks like you have a long week ahead of you." Harry replied.
Hermione shook her head, the tears threatening again. "I don't know what to do, Harry." She said, her voice breaking.
Harry moved closer to Hermione and took her into his arms. She embraced him and started sobbing into his shoulder.
"Shhh, it's gonna be alright." Harry said soothingly but Hermione only cried harder. He absently ran his left hand up and down between her shoulder blades as she clung to him. Hermione felt like she was drowning in her own misery and Harry was her lifeboat.
After a few minutes, Hermione's tears abated and she pulled back from Harry, feeling a little embarrassed.
"I'm sorry," she said, as he handed her a handkerchief to blow her nose. "I've gotten your shirt all wet."
Harry chuckled. "It's all right - it's not the first time this has happened. It'll come out in the wash." He paused and looked at her puffy face. "Hermione, you'll be okay. You're a strong woman, the strongest I know. You'll figure it out. And if you need to talk, you know I'll be here."
Hermione took Harry's hand gave it a squeeze of gratitude. "Thanks."
Harry looked at his watch. "It's nearly midnight and I should probably be heading to bed. Work tomorrow."
Hermione yawned. "Yeah, me, too." She looked down and saw that she still had Harry's handkerchief in her other hand.
"I suppose you don't want this back, do you?"
Harry grimaced. "Um, no you can keep it."
Hermione stood up. "Well thanks for the talk…and everything."
Harry watched her walk back to her house and waited until she was inside before he stood up and entered his own house.
He entered his bedroom, where Ginny was fast asleep. He quietly changed into his pajamas and got into the bed next to his wife. Maybe it was the warm summer night, but Harry was feeling claustrophobic and had a hard time falling asleep.
He rolled over, grabbed his pillow and hugged it while his mind wandered back to his talk with Hermione. While he had tried to keep the mood light during their conversation, the truth was he was terribly worried about her and Ron's marriage. Their happiness was always paramount to him, even before his own, and he always thought that Ron would be the one who could make her happy for the rest of her life.
But now he was not so sure, he wondered if he had made a mistake all of those years ago, giving Hermione up so she could be with Ron.