A/N: Merry Christmas! As a holiday gift to you all, I present to you a one-shot! This is a Hermione/Ron/Harry pairing, based partly on the book but more on the movie. It popped into my head while watching the movie and had to be written. In all my years in the HP fandom, I have never shipped the Golden Trio as a threesome before. As a matter of fact, I very rarely ship within the Trio at all, since I usually pair Hermione with Draco or Fred, and I don't think I've ever shipped Harry/Ron, but watching the Deathly Hallows I couldn't not ship the three of them. And so, this was spawned. I think it gets a bit wordy, and as usual I take my metaphors too far, but...enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Although, it is Christmas...
The world has certain expectations. It—call it the world at large, society, humanity, whatever you will—desires symmetry. Even numbers. Straight lines. Odd numbers are rejected. Shapes other than lines can be created, but only if they are even, and only if they are not permanent. She sees this every day; they are each points on a map, meant to connect strongly to only a single other individual at a time. Everything must be even. Everything must be symmetrical, perfect and absolute in its ability to be whole when connected and to be whole if divided.
But they—them, that's how she thinks of it, as the world and then as them (they are lesser, they are more, they are within, they are beyond, they are nothing, they are everything)—have never been what the world wants of them. They go from being three separate points to being a triangle. One to three and no lines in between. There is never a stage of two, never that even symmetry. According to the laws of society, three is fundamentally weaker and a triangle is structurally unsound. No, better to be two. Better to be a line, a pair, and then when it breaks—(all things break)—it is simple to become one again.
She is never two, and she can never be two. She is one-in-three, a point of a triangle, and she cannot be less. When things break—(no, if, if and never, please, never)—she cannot simply become one again. There is too much of them in her, too much of her in them. Somewhere, somehow, they lines have blurred so perfectly that there is nothing left of Hermione Granger as a whole, complete person; now she is only complete inside of her perfect triangle, only perfect when Harry holds one hand and Ron holds the other and they hold to each other, only when they are three points and three sides and nothing less and nothing more.
For far too long she—all of them, really—is incapable of consciously comprehending what she has known since the moment that a young girl and two young boys became irrevocably connected. (She has known since then, deep inside, in that corner of her that is soul, heart, or something small, intangible, and nameless that makes her fundamentally human and capable of love and hate. That part of her has known because it could read their destinies written in their blood and magic.) But she is just a little girl then, incapable of understanding such a thing as the perfection of unevenness or love that is uncontained. She is a little girl for so long, whim to jealousy, prey to insecurity, holding tight to what she believes should be.
The world tells her that they are supposed to split down the lines. It demands of her that she choose. She cannot have both Ron and Harry, could not possibly love both equally, love both at the same time in the same manner. There must be a choice. Three cannot hold; in the end, they must break, be two and one, or become three separate points on the map of existence again. For what feels like an eternity of wasted time she flops between her two boys, trying to convince herself that she loves one more than she loves another, that if she chooses one her feelings for the other will fade to ash and she'll be free.
(She doesn't know that her freedom is not in consigning herself to the rules of society. But it takes far too long for her to realize where it is.)
Before the war breaks down the barriers of her life, before it takes the walls of her reality and bends them to its will, she despairs. It hurts. Fairytales never say that love—is that what she can call it? Love? Is it more or less or something as indefinable as time and magic?—is ivy that spreads its tendrils and crawls in all directions and spreads itself into the tiniest of cracks, breaking even the strongest of foundations. No one tells her that it can be physical illness, that she can feel its presence like the ache of a flu in her muscles or the itch of a rash somewhere under her skin or the endless shuddering heat-chill of a high fever. Thousands of times, she has heard that love makes it impossible for a person to sleep or eat, but she finds this a weak, romanticized description, passed on by those who lack color in their souls. No, this love that she feels is something sharper, and it hurts her all the way through. It lives and breathes in the back of her being, feeding on every touch and every glance and every sound, waiting to gather enough that it can become sentient, reach out of her and take what it desires.
On some days, she chooses Ron. Other days she picks Harry. Always she lives in the constant fear that if she does not make a decision between them—if she cannot, will not—she will lose them both. If she chooses Ron, she is sure that she will lose Harry; if she chooses Harry, it will be Ron who turns his back on her. Perhaps neither of them want her. After all, Ron could have Lavender, Luna, or half a dozen other girls; Harry has only to smile and Ginny would gladly fall into his arms, and there are countless girls like her if he desires. And for all she knows they want nothing to do with her at all. Perhaps they want nothing more than each other. Those days, when she convinces herself that she can have neither of them, are almost worse, because she can't bear the thought of losing both of them.
(I am selfish, she thinks, and it becomes a litany tattooed on her soul when she smiles at Harry and then touches Ron's arm. I am selfish and a tease and I am not worthy of either of them. What kind of fickle person am I? And these days she hates herself and tries to be different and finds that she cannot. She just…can't.)
When the war comes—(it comes, it comes, or perhaps they come to it)—she stops trying to decide and stops trying to convince herself and stops analyzing. People are dying. She can't be concerned with something silly and pointless like love, not now. Any moment she spends worrying that question of Ron or Harry and why can't I have both? (selfish) is a moment where another man dies trying to do what is right and another woman dies trying to protect her own and another child suffers a last terrified breath because of the "dirty" blood in his or her veins. Every moment she wastes is a moment that Voldemort's grip on the world grows tighter and the entire world finds it harder to breathe.
(She will not have that on her. If the sun doesn't rise because Voldemort has plucked it out of the sky and stomped it out beneath his foot it will not be her fault. If he wins it will be because of something she couldn't possibly control, and even then, she'll blame herself all the same.)
She spends every waking moment of their exile—(self-chosen exile, quest, suicide mission, it's all the same meaning for the monotony of this journey, where everything blurs together and she's not sure if they're in the Forest of Dean or the Forbidden Forest or even if she's awake at all)—trying to hold it together. She pours over her books and reads the same pages over and over, hoping the words will rearrange and tell her where the next horcrux is and what to do next. She tries to keep the peace between the three of them when patience becomes a fading memory and that hopeless desperation takes root inside of them. She takes her turn with the horcrux, counting the minutes until her shift is over and hating herself for doing so; she should be able to keep it longer, she should sacrifice herself in order to spare the boys, and she tries sometimes but always gives it up because she can't suffer it anymore. (She's afraid of what might happen if she keeps it, lets it sink its poison into her. She's afraid that if she falters they all will, because Ron is half-broken, Harry is cracking, and what happens if she goes too?) She runs herself in circles trying to make a plan, trying to keep their sanity, trying to keep them together. Trying, trying, trying, she's a walking wraith of trying.
Then Ron leaves, and she cracks.
(They're all cracked now.)
When Ron leaves, nothing is right. As he storms from the tent she chases after him, screams his name, holds onto whatever handful of clothing she can grab until he shakes out of her grip, and when he goes he rips his name right out of her throat and leaves her breathless and gasping and silent. She stumbles to the ground—(did it rain? The ground is wet and soft and cushions the impact, sinks through her jeans and she is cold all over)—and can't bring herself to stand. She's at the edge of the circle of light that seeps through the tent's canvas walls, half submerged in the darkness that has taken Ron, half-illuminated by the light that Harry hides in. Ron doesn't return and Harry doesn't come out and she sits there in the mud and lets herself cry.
(Harry never comes out to her. Instead, she goes in and finds him slumped at the table, cheek pressed hard against the wood, and whether he's pretending to sleep or not she doesn't know, but she knows from the way that his eyelashes are stuck together that he's been crying. She's not the only one. She touches the top his head lightly and goes to bed.)
In the morning, she wakes and hopes that it is all a dream. But the tent is empty and when she ventures blinking out into the sunlight she finds Harry huddled, his pose melancholy, and when he looks up at her, she knows that Ron is gone. It takes everything in her to not break. It would be so easy, just a little push and she'll fall apart along the fault lines that have formed inside her. For a while, she tries to bury herself, focus on something else, but the words on the pages swim away from her and the inside of her mind is fogged by the breath of sharp memories and there is no clarity in this world. This is not some romantic folly that she can dismiss; no, this is the destruction of everything she knows.
They move on. Now it is just her and Harry, and nothing is right. Nothing is right. She doesn't have the strength to hide the fact that she can barely keep herself together, and though she does keep from breaking it's a near thing; there's no way that she can possibly bear the weight of her own grief—that's what it is, grief as though Ron has died, not just left—as well as the task of keeping Harry's sanity, but she does. She's not sure how, but she manages. It wears on her every day though. She doesn't laugh and she stops smiling because Harry can see right through the lies. He tries to keep her spirits up, but Ron's absence is a gulf inside of him too. She sees it. Ron is a ghost between them. She and Harry have always fit, but now, now when they most need the comfort of each other, they don't.
(Without Ron three becomes two, the triangle collapses into a line, and nothing is right. Nothing in the world is right.)
Two days after Godric's Hollow—God, that's the breaking point, that's it when a snake wears a woman's skin and the Dumbledore they knew was apparently a lie and there was no damn sword and they almost died and no one would have known, how can she stay whole after that?—Hermione wakes to find that the world has somehow healed itself. Because Harry calls her out of the tent and when she comes, expecting more fear and pain, there is Ron standing there with a destroyed horcrux and the sword of Gryffindor and a slightly abashed still love me? grin and she wants to kill him. All he has to do is bloody stand there and everything falls into place. Harry has life back in his face, this grin that lights up his eyes, and she can't help but feel that everything will be okay.
This is the moment that she realizes, consciously, that she has not ever been two, cannot ever betwo. They are—have been, will be—three. She realizes this as she leads the boys back into the tent and they all fall back into their old, worn patterns—(without the heavy wounding weight of the horcrux, now they are so much lighter, so much freer)—and she looks between the boys as they bicker and knows that she cannot possibly love one more than the other, nor can she possibly love anyone as much as the two of them.
(Knowing this, she is afraid. But knowing this, she cannot remain silent. They have to know, before she loses them.)
They fall silent, realizing that she is just staring at the two of them.
"Are you alright, Hermione?"
(No. Yes. No, yes, no, selfish, selfish, I don't care anymore. She stops thinking.)
She doesn't say a word, just steps forward. She goes to Ron, who stands at her silent approach, looking down at her with a knit expression. She touches his arms, slides her hand across his shoulder blade and up the curve of his neck, an intimate touch, and his expression is rapt. Out of the corner of her eye she sees the shadow that crosses Harry's face, the quick shadow before he smoothes it to neutrality. She, of all people, recognizes the flash of jealousy as it jumps through his eyes, and she's not sure if it's jealousy of Ron or jealousy of her or both.
(Please be both, she prays. She needs them to understand. She needs them to feel the same way.)
She steps back from Ron and towards Harry. He's almost eye level with her, and for all his practice at pretending not to care, she can see the sad resignation. The tremulous smile he gives her is acceptance of what he thinks is her choice, and it makes her smile. She has known these boys since they were eleven; they need no words to communicate, and words are empty things anyway. She, who puts so much stock in books and wisdom imprinted on parchment, knows them to be useless now. She shakes her head at Harry and touches his cheek with her fingertips, smoothing them over his skin and tracing his jaw and finally touching his lips gently. His lips part in a gasp and his eyes ask and she smiles. (It's a fragile expression. She is so close to breaking, and if they're not careful she'll shatter. If she's not careful, she'll lose them all, even herself. But this being she calls love that has been living in her interior has been biding its time. It will not lose its chance at freedom. This is now or this is her own destruction.)
She reaches down and takes Harry's hand, tugging him forward. He follows with only a moment's resistance, and she half turns, only to find Ron already behind her. He was watching, she knows, and it seems he realizes her aim, because he brings her close to his body, one arm sliding around her waist, and his other hand extends to Harry. She watches the silent exchange between the two of them, the hesitant brush of their hands and wordless questions and then the closing of their bodies around her. This is a slow, warm embrace; she lets go of Harry's hand in favor of sliding it around his waist, her fingers interlocking behind his back with Ron. Her other hand rests at the hollow of Harry's neck, and she is pressed between the hard planes of their bodies.
(She is afraid to breathe. If she does this all might disappear.)
Ron's breath his hot on the back of her neck. In front of her, Harry seems caught between a smile and a frown. "Is this—?"
She doesn't respond verbally. She cannot say, in words, what she needs to. Instead, she leans forward, presses herself up, and kisses him. Ron's arms tighten around them and Harry's hand on her waist grabs a fistful of her shirt and this is how they are meant to be. She cannot imagine them being anything less, anything more. She breaks the kiss with Harry and half turns her head and then Ron's lips are on hers and she wants nothing more than the three of them to always be this. When Ron pulls back from her his blue eyes go to Harry and there is only a flash of hesitation before the last barriers fall and they reach around her to kiss each other. (She totally called that, is her thought, right before their kiss breaks and they look at her caught in the middle and apparently decide that she looks way too smug.)
At some point, they move to the bed, and from there the things that separate them are shed. Clothes gather on the ground in undignified heaps. She doesn't think. And here, in the wilds, society does not exist to tell them no. They speak to each other on a level that transcends vocal sound, saying I love you, I'm sorry, I will never leave you, I am yours, I love you, I love you, I love you on a thousand different levels, at every depth of meaning that they can convey.
They have been three, but now, for this point on, they will never not be three. Their triangle stands resolute, immovable, and they will be nothing less. They will be this from now until the end, and no one can change what they have become.
(Love, she thinks, as she falls asleep in their tangle, is three points on a triangle. Thus it is and thus it shall be.)
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