Harry Potter is not my creation, this story however is.

Give Me Strength

The Gryffindor common room is vacant all for two lone figures sitting on the sofa, the sofa they'd come to think of as their own over the years. Harry's somewhere off on his own, licking his wounds, with Ginny, talking to McGonagall, gathering up stray hippogryffs with Hagrid, flying around capturing Death Eaters with the Auror's who have finally been dispatched from the newly taken over Ministry, or better yet, he's laid out on a free bed in one of the empty dormitories- snoring with his mouth wide open. However, Hermione and Ron are alone in the common room sneaking looks at each other and having an all out stereotypical awkward-teenage-angst-laiden-attraction-moment.

They've kissed already though, so the awkwardness should have abated, but it hasn't, because now their mutual attraction has actually been expressed, however briefly and ever so publicly.

"I can't believe it's all over." Hermione says after a rather juvenile amount of eye flicks and non-mutual lip biting. The tension is thick, and beautifully so.

"I can't either." Ron says, rubbing at the back of his neck with his hand, which feels clammy. He's nervous, shouldn't the nervousness be gone? He's killed two bloody horcruxes and helped defeat dozens of Death Eaters, walked in on his brother and his wife having sex on their kitchen bench. He shudders involuntarily at the last thought, he'd vowed to attempt to obliviate that memory from his mind, but the stress of the day probably loosened it from the back of his mind. Bloody hell, concentrate you sodding git! He takes a breath, tries to gather his wits, and focus on a more productive train of thought.

It's only Hermione, he thinks. You know, Hermione, the girl you've fancied since you were, well if you're honest, probably since you were about 12, but only admittedly so since you were 15? And admittedly means you admitted it to yourself and no one else. Hermione, wild haired, know it all, brilliant, slight, accidentally made her self into a cat-person, the petrified girl you visited every day in the infirmary 2nd year as she lied stock still and unresponsive, Hermione. The girl who grabbed you up a few hours ago, locked lips with you, and stood by when your brother was killed in the midst of that horrendous battle.

Damn it- Fred. He feels the sadness gathering in his abdomen, making a hot streak to his face, and they hold vigil around the corners and backs of his eyes. He mentally shakes it off, but they linger, like an eye lash in his eye, irritating, but somehow tolerable.

"Do you?" Hermione starts.

"I mean." They both start to speak at the same time, looking down at their laps, across the room at the cold fireplace, unicorn tapestries, a half eaten apple on the floor by a bin near a table.

They should be able to talk, but have they really ever been able to have a full on conversation without it having to do with school or Harry, his family, Horcruxes, or mushrooms and stolen eggs? They've always skirted their issues, they're screaming and flailing- now obvious issues.

He wants to tell her that he loves her. She wants to tell him that the kiss meant more to her than any other physical act of her life, right up there with the last time she hugged her mother, and the last time she felt her fathers stubble graze her cheek as he kissed her good-bye. Kissing Ron though- kissing him is on an entirely different level. However, neither of them, both intelligent, one more so than the other by common standards, cannot seem to get past their awkward young adult fumbling with vocabulary.

In so many words, they're both exponentially befuddled.

"Do you want to go for a walk?" Ron finally forces out quietly. Thinking, maybe physical activity will help dissipate the tongue-tied-red-faced-non-banter that's currently befalling them.

"All right." Hermione answers, getting up from the sofa, wrapping her arms around her self, thinking better of it and letting her arms lie simply by her sides. She watches him amble up from the sofa, his taller frame taking up almost all of her sight line.

She doesn't know when he started to look less like a boy and more like a man, but she relishes in the hints of the boy she used to know. The boy on the train with the dirt on his nose, the boy who was too attached to his hand-me-down rat, the boy she fancied, and now the man he's become.

They make their way out of the Portrait Hole, down into the belly of the damaged castle.

People mill about sparingly, twos and threes at a time. Lone figures are never left to them selves long, someone always takes them up, or stops to slump beside them on a bench, next to a tapestry, wrap their weak arms around their saddened shoulders and pull them to the Great Hall to be assessed by healers, then send them on to St Mungos for further care.

They walk side by side, close together but not touching. He wants to hold her hand, she wants him to take her hand, but neither does anything of the sort.

"Astronomy Tower?" She suggests.

"Sure." He answers.

The climb is gruelling on their over tired but wired bodies. When they make it to the top, the platform is littered with discarded parchment, it flutters in the breeze, never quite taking off. Someone has set up an old Victrola on the one stationary desk, a record plays, bumping along old and forlorn.

"Must be Lupin's old player," Ron examines it more closely. "Probably swiped it from storage." He looks over the stack of muggle records encased in yellowing paper sleeves.

"'Member, he had it on during D.A.D.A, 3rd year?" He continues, bending down and picking up a sleeve or two.

"Who's Louis Armstrong?" He wonders allowed.

Hermione walks to him, gently takes the records from his hands, laying them back on the stack.

"A jazz musician." She answers him, taking his hand, rubbing her thumb over his knuckles, some of the skin covering them is broken but healing over with red scabs.

"Is he any good?" He asks, looking down at their joined hands.

"One of the best." She answers.

He readjusts their hands, lacing his fingers with hers.

"Maybe we can go see him sometime?" He looks into her face, and starts walking backwards leading them over to a railing, looking out over the grounds.

She shifts closer, laying her head on his shoulder like she's done many times before. It's the one demonstrative act she's allowed her self all these years.

"That would be difficult." She looks at his profile, taking in his features, pale skin, bright eyes, golden eye lashes. An unfortunate cut mars his cheek, emphasising his cheek bone.

"Is he really popular?" He looks down at their hands, he likes how their colours blend. Him pale, almost a whitish pink, hers slightly more lush, like the delicate colour of the tips of the first blooms of his mother's favourite rose bush.

"Yes, but he's been dead for a long time now." She nudges him playfully.

"That's just rich." He smiles, laughing at himself.

"Isn't it?" She agrees, smiling at his reaction.


"Yes, Ron?"

"I love you." He can't believe he actually said those words, they just tumbled out, preamble or not, they've been said and he realises that he's genuinely relieved.

She tries not to twitch, but her fingers flex and grab his more tightly in reaction. She can feel his eyes on her, waiting. He swallows, his nerves creating a lump in his throat.

"I love you too." She finally says, looking up and into his hopeful blue eyes.

"You, you do?" He asks. "No, wait, forget that... I'm glad." He lets out a relieved breath, air pushing out of his lungs loudly, not a sigh, but almost.

"Yes, I do, and I'm glad too." She smiles up at him. He grins brightly, but the months are catching up in his eyes, the last 24 hours.

She drops his hand, reaches up catching him in a tight embrace. Her arms around his shoulders, meandering to his neck. He encircles her waist, feeling the fibers of her jumper under his hands.

"Would you just hold me for awhile?" She asks, her face in his neck, her lips brushing his skin.

The Victrola stops playing its wobbly tune.

"Yes." Ron encircles her closer, tighter, their bodies comfortably flush.

They stand like that for minutes, he sways a bit, moving to non-existent music. It's the closest they've ever come to dancing together. He thinks back all those months to Bill's wedding, watching her dance with Krum, her swirling red dress, her smiles, the look of concentration on her face as she probably counted off the beats in her head, the way her hair flipped about, a halo of rich golden brown curls, the sick feeling in his stomach. He thinks back further to the Yule Ball, the fake ice on the walls, the shivers they made him feel on sight, her jumping up and down with enthusiasm as the band cranked out loud and raucous, her cheeks rosy with exertion, the tears he tried to ignore. Fuck all, he still can't think on that without feeling like a complete bastard.

He pulls back, his hands leaving her waist. Slowly he cups her face in his hands, leaning down gently putting his lips to hers.

She kisses him back, light pressure at first, but the heat gathers and the momentum picks up. Soon he's pushed his tongue past the barrier of his lips, and she answers in kind. The sultriness of her mouth is a comfort, but it only fuels his desire for more. His hands have left her face to clasp around her waist, then wander her back, continuing back to her waist, bunching up folds on her jumper, he nudges past the cloth, feeling the warmth of the cotton shirt underneath, the only obstacle between her skin is that cotton. She's against his chest, her hands grasping his shoulders, then brushing through his hair, making his scalp tingle with the sensation. He moans his approval as their mouths parry. They shuffle their feet, and he moves his leg between hers, absently pushing the growing bulge in his trousers against the softness of her belly. He moans into her mouth, the pressure of her cloth covered flesh pressing to his erection is such a new almost overwhelming feeling.

She pulls back, breathing heavily into his face.

"Ron?" She tries to catch her breath, licking her lips enticingly, then leaning her forehead against his.

He doesn't answer her, simply pulls back, then rejoins their lips. His hands move from her waist, to her hips, bringing them closer together.

He backs them up into one of the walls, the flat surface bringing them into more full fledged contact.

Beyond the sensations of having Hermione finally in his arms, the underlying niggling sadness bites at him. He tries to quell it, plunging his tongue into her mouth, pulling back and attacking her neck, sucking, laving, trying to drown the roar that's starting to storm in his head.

She moans, she sighs, she cries out with the new sensations he elicits from her.

He bites down gently, and she lets out a whimper, as he soothes it with his tongue. His hands have finally made it past the barricade of her cotton shirt, the skin of her back is smooth and warm, he feels the raising of goose pimples as his hands travel farther up and to the front of her chest, his fingers circling her rib cage just below the line of the bra encasing her breasts. Not to be cliché, but her chest is heaving.

They both sigh as he pushes her bra up and out of the way, cupping one of her pert breasts in his hand.

She's so soft, he appreciates the slight heaviness, the impossibly silky feeling underside, then the hardened and peaked nipple. However, seemingly out of nowhere, he breaks from her mouth and instead of a moan, or a sigh, a pathetic sob falls out.

And the crumbling starts.

He backs up, removing his hands from underneath her clothes, as the sobs come up unwitting from somewhere deep inside his chest. It's like he's lost control of his own body. He's not even aware of the tears that are slipping from his eyes until the sting of their salt washes over the cut on his cheek.

He tries to stifle the sounds rumbling out of him, covering his mouth with both his hands, but the contractions of his diaphragm make him bend forward. He closes his eyes, but tears still spill from behind his eyelids.

He's only half aware of the gentle murmurs that Hermione emits. Or when she switches places with him, pressing him to the wall, letting him slide to the decking. She sits before him, her hands on his bent knees, telling him to breathe, that it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.

But it's not.

Author's notes: I have written this with full knowledge of The Deathly Hallows, consider this story to be an amalgamation of both the films and the second half of The Deathly Hallows that has not yet been released on film. Yes, I do plan on continuing the story.