Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling, therefore, I do not own these characters.
After the War
Part One: Ron and Hermione
"It's finally over." Hermione sighed, closing her eyes as she leaned back in one of the cushy armchairs in front of the Gryffindor common room fireplace. Her hair was a mess, singed from the fire in the Room of Requirement, one of her eyebrows missing, and a long cut along her cheek where the rubble from the collapsing wall had hit her. The sun was setting through one of the windows, an orange glow lighting upon the entirety of the castle. The war had ended that morning, with the last great battle between Harry and Voldemort, the latter falling dead before hundreds.
"Yeah." Ron nodded in agreement, flopping down into the chair across from hers, letting his legs hook over one of its arms while he rested his head against the other. His robes were torn, scratches all over his freckled face, the dust from the debris of the castle covering both him and Hermione in a thin layer of white in places where they hadn't managed to brush it off yet. But neither of their appearances nor expressions could quite convey the turmoil going on inside.
Today, early that morning, Ron had last one of his older brothers. Fred had died when a wall had been broken down by dark magic. It had since been determined that a killing curse had hit him before he could duck it, shot through the hole by a Death Eater on a broomstick who Percy had knocked out of the sky before he could strike again.
There had been so many deaths in the past few years. First Cedric Diggory, then Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore… countless witches, wizards, and Muggles alike… Dobby… Tonks… Lupin… Colin Creevey. It would be impossible to know how every single one of them had died, except that they had done so fighting to make the world a better place.
Hermione hugged herself, pulling her legs up into the chair and turning herself into a knotted ball of nerves. She couldn't bear thinking about it… all of that death… and then the destruction of the beloved castle that would take so long to repair that it was predicted that it would not be ready for its students until the beginning of next September. How could one single night… a battle that had lasted around eight hours… cause so much devastation? Unable to hold it in, Hermione closed her eyes tightly and let out the smallest of sobs, trying so very hard to hide it from Ron.
But the common room was empty except for the pair of them. A lot of the fighters had gone home in the early afternoon, wishing to reunite with their loved ones who had not been able to battle. Everyone else was down in the Great Hall, celebrating the end of the war with a feast the house elves had done their best to prepare on such short notice. These were the people who were staying, those who would be helping rebuild the school and sleeping in the dormitories tonight.
Harry was already out like a light, in the comfort of his old bed. He deserved a good long rest after everything that had happened. Ron and Hermione were tired themselves, but not quite ready for bed just yet. There was too much going on in their minds…. And Hermione didn't want to be alone. Ron could tell by the way she had looked at him when they'd entered the common room. She had gotten the tiniest of creases between her eyebrows as he'd turned to follow Harry up the boys' stairs… a crease that he recognized instantly as a sign of fear… panic… anxiety… and an upcoming test that he had forgotten about. So he had turned to join her in front of the fire place instead, despite his desperate desire to sleep.
As soon as that sob left Hermione, Ron sat up and raised his arms to her, offering comfort without saying a word. She shot off of the chair and into his lap, allowing him to hold her in a way he hadn't before. She curled up against him, resting her head on his shoulder and allowing the tears of pain for those lost and of relief that the war was finished to fall now, her own shoulders shaking. Ron stroked her hair, rocking her the way he used to watch his mother rock Ginny when she'd get upset.
"We'll… we'll get the school fixed up, Hermione." He stated boldly, not mentioning those who had died, knowing it would spur more tears. He would stick to the positives even though he wanted to join her tears but he willed himself to be strong… for her. He could be strong for this girl who he could sometimes still see as the insufferable little know-it-all who had come barging into his and Harry's compartment on the Hogwarts Express all those years ago, looking for a toad. If he had known back then what he knew now, he wouldn't have been so mean… or maybe he would have been meaner out of fear. "And we can track down your parents."
"My parents." Hermione sniffled slightly, lifting her head and giving Ron a pained smile. "I would like to have them back. I miss them."
"It'll be much better looking for something that you actually have a clue as to where it might be, and that you won't have to destroy."
"Yes." Hermione almost laughed then, thinking of how finding her parents was going to be so much easier than searching for the Horcruxes had been. A trip to Australia and a phone book was probably all she would need. A couple of days to a week at most and then she and her family would be back where they belonged. Safe and sound and together. "You know, we never did tell the house elves to get out of the castle so they wouldn't be harmed. I sure hope they're all alright."
"Didn't you see them fighting? They're vicious little buggers! I saw one chop a Death Eater's foot off with a cleaver! They wanted to protect the school as much as we did."
"It is their home, even if they are slaves." Hermione nodded. Her tears had stopped flowing at this point and she dried her face upon one of her dirty sleeves, getting more dirt smudged on her face, but she didn't leave Ron's lap. If anything, she curled closer to him, her head still on his shoulder, his arms still around her tightly. "With a cleaver?"
"A really big, shiny, sharp looking cleaver. The kind my mum uses when she's chopping meat with bones still in it. It sort of… spurted blood everywhere and then came off completely and the guy fell over. I don't know what happened. He disappeared under everyone's feet."
"Oh, gross, Ronald! I don't need the details!" Hermione covered her ears, her face going a bit green.
"After all we've been through, you'd think a guy's foot being chopped off would be the least of the gruesome things. If you want to see gross, you should look in a mirror… you really need a bath." Ron made a face and tried to rub at Hermione's cheek with one of his own sleeves, but it just made it worse. Apparently, he was just as dirty.
"You might want to try looking at yourself first. And you don't smell too pleasant either." Hermione wrinkled her nose up.
"Well, you're no rose… and if anyone is going to stink, it'll probably be Harry. He has died after all, what if he ends up always smelling well… dead?"
"Dead people smell bad because they're decaying, Ronald. And Harry is very much alive, thank god, so he's not decaying. Oh, he probably should have taken a Sleeping Draught before he went to bed… to keep away nightmares… he's bound to have them after all of this…"
"Yeah, I think we're all going to be bound to have them." Ron nodded in agreement. The sky outside had gotten dark, but the common room was as pleasantly welcoming as it always was. It was untouched by the battle, safe due to its height and portrait entrance.
"I kind of don't want to go to sleep." Hermione admitted, burying her face against Ron's neck and breathing him in. He didn't smell lovely, but there was still that underlying scent that was purely Ron. That one that she was so accustomed to it was associated with a feeling of being home, being safe.
"Me neither. But you and I both know that's not going to happen. I'm beat and there're huge bags under your eyes."
"There are huge bags under yours as well." Hermione pointed out a bit defensively.
"I vote we just pass out right here."
"In the chair?"
"Yeah. Then neither of us had to be alone if we have nightmares." Ron stated as though it were the most obvious plan on the planet. "Or I can sleep in the chair and you can sleep on the couch if you want something a bit more comfortable."
"The chair is comfortable enough." Hermione said simpley, closing her eyes and allowing herself to relax more fully than she had yet, her legs dangling sideways over Ron's. Ron yawned, stretching his arms up before replacing them around Hermione. He rather liked holding her like this…
"Mhm?" Hermione yawned, her eyes droopy as she opened to them acknowledge she was listening.
"Remember in the Room of Requirement, back when it was still a hide out for the DA and Harry told us where the lost diadem was?" Ron asked hesitantly, not quite wanting to have this conversation when they were both so tired, but feeling he needed to get it off his chest… had to know…
"Yes, I remember." Hermione nodded, figuring that she knew where he was going with this, but then again, one could never be completely certain with Ron. He could be a bit thick at times.
"And then I said that we should tell the house elves to get out?"
"And then you sort of... you sort of…" Ron stammered, unable to get the words out now that he was actually making an attempt at saying them.
"You mean the part where we kissed and Harry had to yell at us?" Hermione inquired, a look of amusement on her tired and dirty face, though her cheeks were beginning to heat up quite a bit.
"Y-yeah." Ron nodded, his ears turning bright red at the very mention of it. "I was just… I mean… I was wondering if you remembered, that's all."
"Of course I remember, Ronald." Hermione nodded and then frowned, her smile fading. "Was it ok then? That I kissed you?"
"Was it… of course it was ok! It was more than bloody ok, Hermione! Merlin…" Ron stared at her in disbelief. And she was supposed to be the smart one! "I…" He felt the color rising and heating up even more so in his face… he assumed it was covering him from neck to hairline by now. "I… I reckon... I might… you know… want to try it… again… When things aren't so rushed."
"Things were rushed, weren't they? What with the war going on and you being so brilliant. First you thought of the basilisk fangs in the Chamber of Secrets and then you remembered the house elves even when I didn't. I thought maybe… what if something happened to one of us and I never… never..." Hermione paused, her face quite red now, nearly as red as Ron's and the chair they were sitting on.
"Never what?" Ron asked, desperate for the answer… wanting it to be the one he was looking for and yet dreading the one he hoped it wasn't.
"That I'd never had the chance to… to tell you have much I love you." Hermione's face exploded with color now, a true Gryffindor scarlet. Ron's did the same and he laughed, his heart soaring. "Well, I'm sorry if they seems so funny to you, Ronald, but I…"
"Hermione…" Ron shook his head and hugged her closer, placing two long fingers under her chin and tilting her head up so that he could see her face. He dropped his fingers from her chin and placed his hand against her cheek, brushing the snarled, singed hair out of her eyes. Those brown eyes that shone up at him in near confusion before they dawned with comprehension the split second before his lips found her's.
It was like the first kiss, only better. There was no pressure in trying to get in the words left unsaid, to desperately convey to the other exactly how they felt. There was just the two of them, and nothing but time to be here. Explosions rocketed through both of their brains, an electrified magic that was greater than the power of even the Elder wand. The purest, most unconditional of loves.
When they finally broke apart, it was to footsteps on the boys' stairs. Both reached for their wands, expecting maybe a stray Death Eater that had been over looked, but it was only a weary looking Harry, his hair a mess as always. He stared at them, and they stared back, watching as a tired grin spread across his face. "Now is the moment…" He started, causing them both to laugh. But then he pointed towards the boys' stairs. "For you both to get your arses in bed."
"Nightmares, mate?" Ron asked simply, moving to rise from the chair, Hermione having to get up to allow him to do so.
"Either that or we've spent so many nights in the same tent that sleeping alone again is going to be a bit difficult." Hermione suggested.
"That too." Harry nodded, smiling. "Hermione, I'm sure Dean wouldn't mind you taking his bed since he's gone home to see his family. Or you can just share with Ron. Judging by the way you two were snogging, he wouldn't mind." Both of them blushed and Harry yawned, stretching and turning to start up the stairs. He got to the third one before he looked back at them. Ron and Hermione followed after him, clasping one another's hands. None of them would have to be alone tonight. Except for Dean's bed.
Heh. I hope you enjoyed it! Lemme know what you thought, I'd love to hear from you!