Thank you all who continue to read and stick with this story. :)
Well all I really wanna do is love you.
A kind much closer than friends use,
But I still can't say it after all we've been through.
-If It Kills Me - Jason Mraz
I avert my eyes from Harry's. I'm too afraid of what I might see in them. Instead, I try to focus on the drunken Ron on Harry's couch. I take a tentative step towards his shaking frame. Although he's trying to hide it, I can tell that he is still weeping.
"Ron...", I start, "You have to believe us. We never had an affair - what Ginny said was a lie."
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Harry move closer. He pauses for a moment, and then sits next to Ron. Ron does not move away. They stay like that for a while, neither one saying a word. Then, Harry speaks up.
"Ron, you're my best mate. You must know that I would never do that to you," he says honestly. Ron keeps his head resting in his hands, but speaks nonetheless.
"I know," he whispers, "I think I knew all along. I just...wanted to believe that there was something behind all of...this."
Ron waves his hand towards Harry, himself, and me. For the first time since Ginny apparated away, I meet Harry's eyes. He is staring at me with both compassion and conviction. I feel my breath catch in my throat, but I quickly recover. I kneel on the floor beside Ron. All three of us remain quiet for some time, both respecting and fearing the silence that has overtaken us. I can't stop the memories of our past from rushing through my mind. Every year at Hogwarts, every trip to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley. Every single moment hat has transpired between the three of us flashes through my head. All of our laughing and fighting, our talking and comfortable silences. And now, now we can barely speak when all three of us are together. When had everything changed?
"What happened to us?", I whisper. Ron finally looks up from his hands, while Harry turns his head towards me. They both share the same expression I know is covering my face as well. We all feel loss.
"Why does everything have to be so different?", I ask, tears prickling at my eyes, "Our bond used to be so strong."
There is a short pause before Ron speaks out.
"It still is," he says, wiping at his tear-stained cheeks. Ron looks at me, nods his head, and then takes a gentle hold onto my arm. He does the same to Harry, and then pulls the both of us into a large hug. At first, I am somewhat stunned - it isn't like Ron to be so openly affectionate. From the way he is tensing, I can tell Harry is thinking the same thing.
"You two are my best mates. I'm so sorry for believing what Ginny said. I...I don't know what else to say...,"Ron begins, stumbling over his words. Harry cuts him off.
"Ron, it's okay," he says. Ron looks at me, and I nod my head in agreement. I take a good look at his face. His eyes are tired and bloodshot. I see just how much the lie has hurt him. Suddenly, Ron lets Harry and me go, and stands up shakily.
"I need to go," he says firmly. I look anxiously at Harry.
"Where are you going?", he asks. Ron looks at the both of us, then speaks.
"Home," he says quietly. Ron spares me one last glance, and turns to go.
"Harry, do you have any pepperup potions?", I ask quickly. He nods and retreats to the kitchen. There is a silence between Ron and myself that proves to us that any spark that might have existed between us at some small moment has long since died out. Harry returns with the potion, which Ron drinks quickly. He ignores the steady flow of steam that comes out of his ears as a result of the potion. Ron doesn't take another look at us before apparating away.
Harry and I stand there, looking at the place where Ron once stood. Suddenly, the fear of Harry's reaction to my previous outburst creeps back into my heart. I keep my back turned to him as I start to speak.
"Harry...about what I said before - I know that it wasn't what you were expecting, but it... it is the truth," I begin. Suddenly, I feel his presence behind me, but before I have the chance to react, I feel Harry's hands on my waist, turning me around to face him. I only have a second to steal a glance at his eyes before he is kissing me, hard, his hands slowly becoming entangled in my hair. My arms circle around his neck. I am losing myself in the utter surprise of the moment. Harry backs me up against the wall, and I feel my left leg grip him around his waist.
"Harry...," I murmur without really thinking. He responds by trailing the side of my mouth and down my neck with kisses. I open my eyes in surprise when he tugs at my ear with his teeth.
"Hermione...," he whispers. It is the first time that I have heard him say my name with such... loving passion. I pull his head from my neck, my hands on his cheeks, and I kiss him as hard and full as I know how. Harry picks me up, and I wrap my legs around his waist. We stumble into one of the extra downstairs bedrooms. Harry gently lays me onto the bed, closing the door with his foot. I grab my wand from the back pocket of my skirt and mumble a silencing charm, then set it on the bedside table. Suddenly, Harry stops. He is looking at me, just looking at me. I feel a blush coming onto my cheeks.
"Is...is everything okay?", I ask timidly. Harry smiles that goofy grin that makes my heart melt.
"Everything is perfect. You're perfect. I'm just admiring you're perfectness," he replies with a laugh. I feel my face relax into a smile, and I reach for Harry's hand. He gladly puts his hand in mine and climbs onto the bed, looming over me. I loop an arm over his neck and pull him down to kiss me. He does so happily. I can feel the kiss intensifying, and I can also feel Harry's hands under my shirt. I quickly pull it over my head, causing my bushy hair to fall to one side. Harry entwines his right hand in my hair and places his left hand on my breast. He kisses me once more, and I arch my back.
"Hermione, you're amazing," he says. I let out a quick breath.
"Say it again."
"No, no," I reply, "Say my name again." I feel Harry smile against my lips.
"Hermione...Hermione...Hermione," he says. I can feel freedom. I feel the love that I've held for Harry for so long overflow inside me. I turn my head as Harry kisses my neck. His left hand comes into view, and the ring that is on his finger catches the light. Suddenly, the freedom inside me feels like it is being ripped away.
"Wait," I blurt out. Harry stops instantly, and looks me in the eye.
"What, what is it? Is something wrong?", he asks gently. My heart breaks.
"No...well, yes. You...you're married, Harry," I say quietly. His gaze moves from my face to his wedding ring. He curses, sits up on the bed, and runs his hand through his hair. I slowly sit up, and tentatively place a hand on his shoulder. He does not move away, but instead, places his hand on mine.
"You have no idea how long I've wanted you," he says.
"No, no! It's not that. You're right, after all. I just...I've loved you for so long, Hermione," Harry says. I give him a small smile, and kiss him on the cheek.
"I love you, too, Harry. So very much," I say. He returns the smile, and for a brief moment, we are still together. No longer dancing around our emotions, no longer catering to others. We are simply us. Harry and Hermione, Hermione and Harry. And for now, that's all we need.