Disclaimer: I do NOT own the Harry Potter series. That credit goes to the brilliant mind of J.K. Rowling. Go Jo! I also do not own some of the material used. Again that belongs to Jo and Warner Brothers.

Chapter 21 Choosing When

Ron's worst memory kept replaying over and over again in his head. He could still hear Hermione screaming in pain while he and Harry were locked up in Malfoy Manor, not being able to help her as she was being tortured. They were able to make it out, but at a terrible price. Dobby, the house elf that Harry had freed his second year, had been killed while saving them. They were at Bill and Fleur's little cottage by the sea. Harry walked into the living room to find Ron sitting on the couch with Hermione fast asleep on his lap. Every now and then, she would give a small jerk, still remembering what had happened.

"Ron, you have to tell her," Harry said.

Ron looked down at the smiling Hermione, then back up at Harry.

"No, I don't," he said.

Harry looked up and rolled his eyes as Ron absentmindedly began running a hand through Hermione's hair.

"Fine. Just don't come crying to me when she ends up with Viktor," he said.

Ron then got very defensive.

"She went with Krum to the ball, that's all," he said.

Harry threw his arms in front of him, fighting to keep his voice down for Hermione.

"That's right. So make sure it doesn't turn into something more," he said, gritting his teeth.

Ron's eyebrows leveled, and then looked down at Hermione.

"Why do you care?" he asked.

Harry just had to laugh.

"Would you like it hearing me cry over Ginny?" he asked.

Ron looked like he was going to complain, but he didn't.

"Fine," he said.

"Thank you," Harry smiled, grinning ear to ear.

Ron sighed, looking now very serious.

"It's just what happened at Malfoy Manor," he admitted.

Harry put his hand on Ron's shoulder.

"That's exactly why you should tell her," he said.

xxx

The next day, Hermione could tell Harry was itching to talk to her in private.

"I get it," Hermione snapped after Ron excused himself to go talk to Bill.

"Hermione…" Harry began.

She took in a deep breath and looked down.

"I got to tell Ron," Hermione sighed.

When Hermione looked back up, Harry was smiling.

"Great, I don't have to convince you then," Harry said.

xxx

Harry, Ron, and Hermione couldn't believe it. After retrieving the Horcrux from Gringotts and escaping Dementors and Death Eaters in Hogsmeade, they met Dumbledore's brother, and they soon found themselves in the Room of Requirements at Hogwarts.

"Harry, Ron… Hermione," Mrs. Weasley yelled.

"Mom…" was all Ron could say.

After reuniting with everyone, Harry cleared his throat.

"I… I got to do something," Harry said and disappeared before people could complain.

He, however, didn't get away from confronting one person. There was a redhead girl standing in the way from him exiting.

"Ginny…" Harry began.

But before he could finish, his mouth was being covered with Ginny's. Hermione had to stop Ron from interfering.

"Good luck," Ginny whispered in his ear.

A smile crept up on Harry's face.

"What?" Ginny wondered.

Harry leaned back into Ginny.

"You told me that the first time we met," he whispered.

xxx

Hermione grabbed onto Ron's arm as he surprisingly was able to open the Chamber of Secrets. Ron took a deep breath and tightly squeezed Hermione's hand with his.

"Ron," Hermione asked, not liking how the way he was acting.

It was like suggesting they didn't have much time left.

"Hermione… I just want you to know that if anything happens that… that I love you," Ron said.

Before Hermione had time to comment, she found her mouth being crushed with so much force from Ron that she lost all control of thought until they broke apart.

"You're choosing now?" Hermione yelled, looking around at the girls' bathroom.

"Sorry, but it is now or never," Ron said.

They took each other's hand, took a deep breath, and jumped into the large pipe. And the rest you can say is history.

The End