Title: Year of Firsts

Book: Post Deathly Hallows, pre Epilogue

Spoilers: Deathly Hallows

Warnings: Adult conversations, maybe some language.

Rating: M/PG-16. Slight adult-ish theme.

Category: Ron and Hermione romance, Harry and Hermione friendship and Harry and Ginny romance.

Summary: The war is over and the trio have to get on with their lives no matter how hard it may be. Whether this means Hogwarts, training or helping out family they have to do it, but they'll always still have each other at the end of the day.

Disclaimer: All characters and the universe they exist in belong to J.K Rowling and her publishers. This piece of fan-fiction was created solely for entertainment purposes and no money was exchanged. No copyright infringement was intended and the original characters, situations and plots are property of the author. This piece of fan-fiction must not be archived without the author's consent.

Author's Notes: This is the conclusion to my story of "Firsts". Number 11 in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone, although some little comments may confuse you. Intended to be read as canon as to what happens in the year after the Final Battle. This is a little different for me, in that it is a multi-chapter fic (never done before) and chapters will be named (definitely never done by me). It's mainly Hermione with some Ron and then the others brought in it too. Later chapters get a bit more "adult" in discussions.

For the record, I am using the post books canon as: Harry becomes an Auror, Hermione works for the Ministry, Ron has either worked or does work as an Auror or in WWW and Neville becomes a Hogwarts Professor. To this end, I see that both Hermione and Neville need to finish their qualifications to become a government official and teacher respectively. As there is some confusion as to what Ron does (Auror or WWW), I have tried to allow both avenues to be possible. Any other queries regarding my canon, please contact me!

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Year of Firsts

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Chapter One: Goodbye Kisses

It was the first of September and it felt just like any other year, well at times it did for Hermione Granger. She was standing on platform nine and three quarters at King's Cross station with a collection of people she had spent a great deal amount of her past seven years of life. Standing just off to her left were Mr and Mrs Weasley, both of whom were fussing over their youngest and only daughter Ginny. Next to Ginny, who was blushing slightly at the fuss, stood Harry Potter who could not help himself from smiling at his girlfriend's blushing. Hermione was standing just a few meters away, still able to hear their conversation when the platform was quiet enough. She was listing in her head the similarities and differences this year's departure had on others'. First similarity was who she was at the station with and that she had seen many of her fellow school friends walk past her. The first big difference was that as she was standing on the platform surrounded by such familiar faces, Ronald Weasley was holding her hand.

"Hermione," he said and she turned to look at him. Immediately the rest of the train station disappeared and all that existed was Ron. The last time that they had both been here seemed like a lifetime ago. It was before all of the death, before the torture, the hunt, the fighting and before they were more than friends. The thought of how different her relationship with Ron was now to then caused Hermione to smile and her heart to warm. She had felt something for her friend for so long and denied it for so long, that now all she felt was happiness. "You okay?"

She smiled and nodded. "I'm a bit nervous, I think."

"About?" he asked, moving her around so that he could take hold of both of her hands.

"We've been away from Hogwarts for a whole year and so much will have changed because of the Battle. What if I can't remember how to study? Or if the curriculum's changed? What if there's loads that I need to catch up on?" Now that she had started voicing her fears more and more were coming to mind, making her start to panic. She could feel her breathing and heart rate change and she began to panic that she was going to hyperventilate.

"Hey," Ron commanded, pulling her closer. "You are going to be fine," he told her. She looked him in the eye and smiled at the reassuring look on his face. She remembered all the times when he had reassured her or spoke of his faith in her and it did alleviate some of her fears. "You couldn't forget how to study or be behind if you tried. And anyway," he added, "I thought that was why everyone was repeating last year?"

"It is," she agreed.

"So at least you'll be in the same dorm with Parvati and Lavender, not a different year and you'll have classes with all the same people."

Hermione's smile left her face and she shook her head. He had just pointed out exactly what her biggest fear was concerning returning to Hogwarts. "No, I won't."

He looked at her with a questioning look upon his face and Hermione considered how dumb her boyfriend could sometimes be. He could be made of equal measures of dumbness and loveliness. "What do you mean?"

"You and Harry won't be there." She paused for a second and then decided to continue, speaking quickly so that he could not interrupt her. This was the last opportunity that she had to tell him everything she had been thinking the past few days. It had kept her awake at night and prevented her from falling asleep quite as quickly after her middle of the night nightmares. "And that alone is going to be so very odd. You two are my best friends and Hogwarts without you both is just going to seem so wrong and I really wish that you were both going to be there. I know I haven't said anything about it beforehand and that's because I know that you both have to do what you have to do, but it doesn't change the fact that I need to tell you that I want you both there. I'm going to miss you both so much, especially you and I'm not sure that I can sleep through the night without you. What if I still have the nightmares? Who's going to calm me down and hold me? What am I going to do without my hugs and kisses from you." She took a quick breath and then quietly added. "I like our hugs and kisses."

Without warning, Ron released Hermione's hands and kissed her, his hands cupping her face. Hermione's fears melted away as she wrapped her arms around him and he mirrored her actions, both joining together in a hug. She really would miss this. He eventually released her, keeping his face close to hers. "I'm going to miss you, too, but we all have to do what we need to do. I don't want you to go back there on your own. I never want you to be on your own, but George and the shop need me."

"I know," she nodded. "And you don't need Hogwarts."

"I do need you though," he whispered and kissed her again. "I'm scared about being away from you and Hogwarts, but it might be good for us all to be apart. After the past year," he added.

Hermione knew that he was right. They had spent the majority of the past year constantly living together. The three of them had gone from Hogwarts, to the Burrow, to Grimmauld Place, to a tent and back to the Burrow via Shell Cottage. Whilst they had essentially lived together and spent a lot of time together during their six shared years at Hogwarts, they had never lived as close to each other as they had in the tent and Grimmauld Place. Distantly, Hermione was aware of Mrs Weasley hurrying them all along to get on the train.

Very reluctantly, Hermione pulled away from Ron and glanced at the train which was still sitting and waiting for everyone to board. Tears came to her eyes and she forbade them to spill. She was not going to board the train crying, or let Ron see her cry. There was no way that she was going to sit on the train, sobbing and crying just because her boyfriend was not going with her. Just because she knew that was not the full reason would not stop other people thinking it was. "I better get on the train." Her voice came out a whisper and she turned back to Ron.

He nodded to her. "I can still change my mind and come with you."

She smiled and blinked away some tears. "No. No you can't." She hugged him again, trying to remember every detail of how it felt to be in his arms. She inhaled his scent and fear ripped through her again that she was about to be on her own.

"Let me know," he said into her hair, "as soon as you know when the first Hogsmeade weekend is. I will be there."

She nodded against him. "I will," she promised. "I have to-"

"You better-" They both smiled and she stepped away from him and followed Ginny to the nearest door. It took all of her strength to not hold his hand as she walked those few steps. She knew that she had to start getting used to him not being around all of the time. Ginny and Harry hugged one last time whilst Hermione said goodbye and hugged Ron's parents. She would miss them both, too. She had spent a good few weeks at her own home over the summer with Ron visiting them a lot, but his parents were very different to her own.

Mr and Mrs Weasley stepped back to look at the two girls they were sending onto the train and smiled at them in pride. "Have a good term," Mr Weasley said.

"See you both at Christmas," Mrs Weasley added.

Hermione nodded, seeing out the corner of her eye Ginny boarding the train. She smiled a goodbye to Harry and then took one last look at Ron. Hermione could feel the tears start to build again so she turned and walked onto the train. The first carriage she came to had Ginny, Luna and Neville already sitting in it and she knew that she did not even need to ask permission to join them. She sat down next to Neville and the window and looked out onto the platform. Luna and Neville were already deep in conversation, but Ginny was staring out of the window too. Hermione could see that Mr Weasley had a comforting, protective arm over his wife's shoulder because she was crying. This was the first time that the youngest Weasley had left her parents' side since the Battle was over and Mrs Weasley was very protective of her children.

Trying to pay attention to the conversation between Neville and Luna, Hermione forced herself to stop watching out of the window. She could not bear to watch Ron and Harry get smaller and smaller, fading into the distance as the train pulled away.

"So, yeah," Neville was saying, "I'm Head Boy. My Gran's pretty chuffed about it, but then she's been chuffed with me ever since the Battle."

"That's because you were very brave," Luna replied causing Neville to blush.

"Congratulations, Neville," Hermione said her voice not quivering much to her own surprise.

"Thanks. I kind of think that if Harry or Ron had been returning, I wouldn't be, but, well."

"Oh, no," Hermione objected. "The way that you stood up to Voldemort and everything that you must have done last year, you were probably Professor McGonagall's first choice."

"So, are you Head Girl?" Luna asked, but before Hermione could answer, everyone turned in the direction of the main corridor as there was a commotion going on.

"Move out of my bloody way," Ron said as he appeared in the doorway. He smiled at Hermione and the tears that she had banished returned to her eyes.

"Ron, what are you..?" She stood up to question what he was doing on-board the train as it was soon going to depart. Hermione feared that he was indeed trying to return for his final year with her.

He hugged her and cut off her question. "I'm not coming with you," he reassured her without even hearing the question. He kissed her quickly and then looked her in the eye. "It's only a year, Hermione and I'll see you as much as possible during that year," he promised. "I love you."

A few tears spilled out onto her cheeks and Ron gently wiped them away. "I love you, too," she whispered with a large watery smile on her face. "Now, get off this thing before you end up in detention."

He laughed at her, kissed her one last time and then fought his way back through the few children who were still trying to get on-board the train. Hermione reclaimed her seat and within seconds the train started moving. This time she kept her eyes on Ron as she moved faster and faster away from him. She sniffed away any remaining tears and tried to pay attention to the conversation between Neville and Luna. All she could think was that Harry and Ron should be in the carriage with them, all of them discussing their summer holidays. They were not and for the first time, Hermione was truly apprehensive about returning to Hogwarts.

"At least you get to see him at Hogsmeade weekends," Ginny said. Hermione turned to her friend with a questioning look on her face. "Harry doesn't know if he'll get any leave during training."

Somewhere deep down Hermione knew that her friend was hurting in a similar way to her, but Hermione's pain was different. Her entire life seemed to be different now and she really did not want it to be. She knew that Ginny did not mean anything by her comment, but in her current emotional state, Hermione did not care.

"That is really not the point," she declared and stood up. Without a word to the other three, Hermione left their carriage and made her way to the prefect carriage at the front of the train. After a few steps she remembered that she had been made a prefect with Ron and she felt lost all over again.