A/N: This is a new one-shot story about Ron/Hermione. This story is about past trauma and healing. Ron and Hermione found each other at last but the whole Horcrux hunt/Battle of Hogwarts thing didn't leave them unscathed. How do they deal when an incident brings old scars back to the surface?
Disclaimer: unfortunately, I don't own any of this.
Hermione was tossing in bed. She couldn't sleep. Wistfully, she got up and grabbed her wand to light up the room. She checked the clock on her bedside table: 3:30 am. She looked at his space in the bed: empty. There was just a random strand of red hair on his pillow, a reminder of what she was missing.
"Where are you, Ron? What are you doing?" She spoke to the empty room.
He had sent her a Patronus earlier that afternoon. She had welcome the terrier as it came bouncing to her. Then it had spoken in Ron's voice:
"Looks like tonight is the night for the you know what mission. Might last in the night. I won't be home for dinner or probably until the middle of the night. Don't wait for me. I love you."
As the terrier had vanished, she had stood still. The mission in question was a raid involving a movement trying to resuscitate the Death Eaters. Ron had worked for the last five months, tirelessly, patiently, to track the activities of the secret order and trace them back to their leaders. And like the brilliant chess player he was, he had positioned all his pawns for the final move that would signify a checkmate. It was supposed to happen tonight although she didn't know the details since he had stubbornly refused to share more. Not because he didn't trust her but because it might put her in jeopardy. As she had pointed out to him, being who she was on her own put her in jeopardy with any Death Eater resurrection movement but he had not budged. He could be infuriatingly stubborn at times. As if she wasn't! He had argued these were the rules of the Auror department and that she of all people should understand rules. This had led to a pretty heavy row that had let to a fabulous make-up session. She remembered the latter vividly and always had a shiver of excitement just thinking of it.
What got most to her was that he refused to acknowledge to her the dangers of his job. She knew he was very aware of what he was fighting against. She knew Ron's job. There were still dark wizards out there who would like nothing better than to restore the reign of terror known during the war against Voldemort. They were more active each year as the anniversary of the battle of Hogwarts approached. Yes, she knew Ron and Harry had continued to go after dark wizards as highly skilled Aurors. She knew the danger of it. She knew she could ask Ron to stop and he would do it out of love for her but she would never ask him to renounce to a career that obviously fulfilled him and was a perfect fit. She had accepted the truth, the danger of it. It didn't mean she had to like it.
She was pacing around their little flat. She had pulled his dressing gown on her. It was several sizes too big and the bright orange colour of the Chudley Cannons clashed horrendously with her pink nightgown but it smelled of him and she needed to feel close to him. She made some tea and opened a book. Reading had always been a good way to put out of her mind things that gnawed at her.
She could not concentrate. She had been reading the same page for the last fifteen minutes. She went to sit on the sofa and was joined by her old Crookshanks. As she absentmindedly petted the cat, she thought of Ron again, how they had sat on that same sofa the night before. How they had shared an exquisite kiss and a lot more. She remembered looking at his face towering over her as their bodies had melded. His bright red hair all tousled from her hands, slightly matted to his forehead by the sweat that glistened at his temples. His lips had been forming her name. His eyes, rendered a darker blue by the passion of their love-making, had held a thousand promises and had never left hers. Even when the orgasm had ripped through her. Even when he had himself reached his release. They had laid entwined on the sofa afterward, his head on her naked breasts, looking at her with mischievous eyes and his unique lopsided grin. Sometimes he did remind her of the boy with dirt on his nose that she had met on the Hogwarts Express. Although what he had just done to her had definitely been a man's work.
Later, they had gone to bed. He had fallen asleep before her and she had spent a little while just looking at him lovingly. How much they had built together, how much more there would be. She could imagine children. Seeing Harry and Ginny welcome James had been so enthralling. She knew they were ready to have children of their own. She had imagined how a child of theirs would be, mentally juxtaposing baby pictures Molly had shown her with some of her own.
She heard a loud hiss from Crookshanks that pulled her out of her reminiscing. Then she saw it: a beautiful silver stag cantering in her living room. He spoke with Harry's voice:
"Hermione, come to St Mungos. I have to stay with Ron. He's been hurt. Nothing..."
She never heard the end of the message. She had Disapparated on the spot.
She arrived at the hospital still wearing his ugly orange dressing gown and her pink nightgown. She went to the reception, half-shaking, and asked frantically:
"I am Hermione Weasley. My husband Ronald has been brought here today..."
She did not have time to finish before Harry arrived. He took her in his arms and held her tightly, a bit more than usual, as if he hadn't seen her just the previous day. Hermione was too lost in her own anguish to notice.
"Where is he?" she asked as panic was rising in her.
"The healers are still working on him," Harry replied in a tired voice.
"I want to see him," she was begging him as the tears started trickling down her cheeks.
"Hermione, we can't right now," Harry sighed while raking his hands through his face. He was exhausted. It had been a rough night and a difficult mission for them. Besides Ron, another Auror had been injured. They had captured the three dark wizards who had been at the head of the movement. It had been the culmination of five months of work, all under Ron's leadership.
"I want to see him," she repeated louder. "I want to see him." She was now screaming and pounding at Harry's chest as the tears began to flow freely.
He held her shaking body close as he didn't know what else to do. He was as worried about Ron as she was. And now he worried for her: his best friend, his only companion in the darkest hours, his sister in all ways but blood. She was wailing in front of him and he seemed powerless: he couldn't console her like Ron would. He was always in awe at how the relationship between his two friends had evolved into a deep and enduring love -albeit not always a quiet one- and how they brought the best in each other.
Harry understood very well why Hermione was crumbling like a house of cards in front of him. Harry knew the fear of losing Ron, of him leaving her in one way or another was Hermione's greatest one and had been for a while. He had only seen her lose it this way once many years ago, when Ron had left them during their Horcrux hunt. He had felt partly responsible for Ron's departure and had loathed himself as much as Ron for the sorrow it had caused Hermione. A friend he had been! He had led his two best friends to a painful separation, one that had left scars for both Ron and Hermione. And then Malfoy Manor. More scars, both mental and physical. Harry still had nightmares every now and then about this terrible day, hearing both Hermione's cries of pain and Ron's cries of anguish, but he knew it was nothing to the frequent night terrors Ron experienced each time this episode came back to haunt him. His two friends had been to hell and back with him and still bore the marks.
He squeezed Hermione's hand, an instinctive thank you for all she had done for him. It was his turn to support her. He patted her back and waited for her to exhaust the tears in her. She finally took some ragged breaths to compose herself. He saw her open her mouth again:
"I want to see him," she barely whispered.
"Let's go and see if we can find a healer."
He grabbed her hand and took her to the waiting room where he had last seen the healer working on Ron.
"Ah, Mr. Potter." A middle-aged wizard was coming their way. He was wearing the healer insignia over his chest. "My, aren't you Ms. Granger?" He asked as he recognised Hermione. "The golden trio in my ward."
"Actually, it's Mrs. Weasley now. Ron is my husband," Hermione interrupted him. "How is he? Can I see him?"
"Your husband will be fine, Mrs. Weasley. He was hit by a rather nasty curse but he only got the edge of it and I was able to reverse it and prevent any lasting damage. He is asleep right now as I administered a special potion. He should be awake in a few hours and able to go home this morning. He should be back to normal tomorrow."
Relief washed over her and, she saw on his face, over Harry. The healer pointed to a room where Ron was recuperating. She ran into the room and saw him lying on a bed. He looked a bit paler than usual but she could definitely see his chest rise and fall. She reached for his hand. It was warm and even in his sleep, his long fingers were reaching for hers. She brought his hand to her cheek, tenderly. She recognised the little marks on it that had resulted from a flock of canaries she had set on him all these years ago. They could have been easily healed with magic but Ron preferred to keep them as a "reminder of what an arse I was".
Harry had come in the room, reassured by the healer's words. He coughed surreptitiously to let his presence known, sorry to interrupt the tender moment. Hermione looked at him and smiled wanly as Harry put his hand on her shoulder.
"Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt. I've done enough of that over the years."
It elicited a mild smile from Hermione but her face turned serious again.
"What happened Harry?"
"Yeah. I figured you would ask. I'm not sure it's for me to tell you."
He looked furtively away. She glowered at him and saw him almost cower. Part of her was proud that she still could scare him at times, the man who had defeated Voldemort.
"Alright. I'll give you an overview, shall I? You will need to ask him for the details when he wakes up. We had big raid tonight. You must know we've been working for five months on this operation. Ron's work mostly. When we got there, it was an old abandoned house. Think Grimmauld place when Sirius just opened it to the Order. We had to chase them through the house as they didn't surrender quietly. We didn't expect them to. We were in the middle of it, in what looked like an old study. Ron and I had one cornered. And he opened an old wardrobe and then there was a Boggart. It came in front of Ron and distracted him. I managed to banish the Boggart and Ron got back to reality but half a second too late. His shield charm only worked partially. It did send part of the curse back but he still got hit."
"Are you telling he couldn't figure the spiders were not there?" she asked him skeptically.
"Hermione, how long has it been since you saw Ron fight a Boggart?" Harry asked with incredulity in his voice.
"It wasn't spiders, was it?"
"No. It scared me too and spiders don't bother me. His Boggart was you, Hermione. You dead."
She remained speechless. She was certain her Boggart would also be Ron dead, the ultimate way he could leave her. She took a deep breath to gain her composure back although she was certain she couldn't fool Harry. But she managed to tell him:
"Thanks Harry. Thank you for telling me."
They remained quiet a little while. Then Harry asked her:
"Are you alright Hermione? Don't take this the wrong way but you look like hell. And orange doesn't do anything for you."
This earned him a punch in the arm, albeit a gentle one.
"You always know how to speak to a woman! I'll be fine. You can go home if you want. I am sure Ginny must be waiting for you."
"I'll go. You know where to find me."
"I do." She paused for a moment. "Thank you Harry."
"Don't mention it."
He gave her a peck on her cheek and walked away.
Ron had been hearing voices. He thought he recognised Harry's. He was positive the other one had been Hermione's. He would recognise her voice anywhere. He had then drifted back to a sleep full of green and red jets of light, dark corners in an old musty house and her. Her, lying on the floor of that old study, not moving, not breathing, her brown eyes glassy and not seeing. The dreadful cold fear turning into sheer panic! Harry yelling about a Boggart. Realisation half a second too late. His shield charm not quite complete. The curse only partially rebounding.
He woke up with a start. He could feel a dull headache coming as he took in his surroundings. Not home. White walls, healer insignia. St Mungos. He then saw her. She was asleep in the armchair by the bed. He saw the gentle rising and falling of her chest. Breathing. Alive and real. And sporting his orange dressing gown. There could not have been a sweeter vision to wake up to. He reached for her fingers and held her hand, her warm hand, a reminder she was alive and well.
Later that morning, he was cleared to leave the hospital. The healer had commented on how lucky Ron had been, which had made Hermione wince. She had smiled to him when he had woken up and they had exchanged a few words but Ron found his wife rather distant. Knowing her, he half expected a row.
As they Apparated in their home, he took her hand and asked her:
"Is something the matter, Love?"
"Is something the matter," she repeated in a high pitch. Oh yeah, the row was coming.
"What is it?" He fell his own temper rising but had learnt to keep it in check.
"What is it?" she echoed his words again and broke into a mirthless laugh. "I'll tell you what it is." She poked an accusatory finger into his chest. "You." She pounded him in the chest. "You. Almost. Died." She punctuated each word with another blow to his chest. As she was going for more, he easily seized her wrists in his hand.
"Let me go," she protested.
"So you can punch me again? No. Listen to me, Hermione." He was amazed by the calm of his tone given how close to the surface his temper was. "I didn't die. Not even almost. I took the edge of that curse but the caster got the full taste of his own curse." He sighed. "You know my job and the risks that come with it. I told you I would be on a mission."
"You sent a Patronus. You didn't even come to see me."
"Is that why you are angry with me?"
He marveled that his tone was so level. He looked at her and could see it in her brown eyes: the worry, the love, the anger were all there. She was still trying to free her hands from his gentle but tight hold, to no avail.
She went on:
"You won't tell give me any detail about your work but you run the risk every day of being killed. At least have the decency to tell me in person. You can't just send a bloody Patronus. You just can't do this this to me."
She had said the last part almost whispering and through a sob. His anger, that had considerably abated, completely disappeared. He let out a deep sigh. He released her wrists and took her in his arms as she began crying more.
"Hermione. I am sorry. Please don't cry."
He truly was sorry but her sobs kept going.
"Hermione. This is my job. You know that."
"I know," she sniffled.
"You know why I do it. I want to be able to protect you. Make this a safer place for you and our children, whenever we have them."
"I know that too. I just want you to see me before you go on a mission. You just can't leave without saying good-bye."
So this was what this was all about. He had left her once before and had never forgiven himself for the pain that had caused her. He cursed himself mentally for still being able to be so thick at times when it came to Hermione's feelings.
"I am sorry. I didn't know it bothered you that much if I sent a Patronus instead of just my sodding self."
She smiled a little. She knew she should have told him. Ron had come a long way since their teenage years but still missed obvious signals at times.
"I promise you I'll come in person next time."
She held him more tightly.
"So, what happened?"
He told her his version, glossing over the Boggart episode. This didn't escape Hermione's attention.
"What about the Boggart?"
Ron realised Harry probably had told her.
"Remind me to hex Harry next time I see him."
"You'll do no such thing. I made him tell me. I think that I scare him sometimes."
"Wonder why," he said dryly.
"Oh stop it," she admonished as she slapped his hand.
"Bloody hell, Hermione. Will you stop that?"
"Tell me about the Boggart."
"Why? I reckon Harry told you everything."
"When did it change?"
"I don't know." He sighed deeply. "It's not like you fight Boggarts every day. But when I started Auror training, it was already there. I suppose it happened after that night," he finally acknowledged as his fingers went to tenderly trace the very faint scar on her neck.
She knew he was referring to Malfoy Manor. She knew about his recurring nightmares as she had been sharing his bed for almost eight years. She put her fingers on top of his hand that was still caressing her neck. She asked him softly:
"Do you ever wish we had not come with Harry?"
"No," he replied without hesitation. "There wouldn't have been a future for us without what we did. Harry couldn't have done it on his own. He's told us many times. I just wish I had never left you though. I see how it still hurts you," he said as he lowered his eyes, still full of remorse for his actions from long ago.
"You always wanted to come back," she told him gently. "And I am glad you came back. You saved Harry's life. You saved my life."
"I still hurt you," he whispered.
"Ron, I forgave you a long time ago. Harry did too. Don't you think it's time you forgave yourself? We all have scars and sometimes, they haven't healed fully and the wounds can reopen." She paused thinking of how hers had just reopened tonight. Hearing the Boggart story made her realise he had his own scars. She told him in a soft voice: "We can heal together."
He gathered her in his arms, holding her tightly. They had overcome a lot to build a life with a semblance of normalness. But there was no erasing the past, the same way there was no erasing the scars. They had to live with them, and maybe even flaunt them as a testament to the obstacles they had surmounted. He led her to their bed where they lay down, fully clad, both exhausted from the events of the previous night. He encircled her soft and warm body with his arms, pulling it against him, knowing the simple gesture helped convey he was not going anywhere. She put her hands around his, reminding him she was alive and with him. They fell asleep, healing each other's scars.
A/N That was my first attempt at the Hurt/Comfort category. I do think there would be a lot of trauma to overcome for all of them and incidents would bring things back. Scars and healing are also a strong theme in the entire series.
Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Hate it? Let me know by leaving a review.