A/N: Just a one-shot that I came up with while sleepless in the middle of the night. Blame it on the spicy black bean soup I ate for supper. All the standard disclaimers apply about J.K. Rowling owning everything Harry Potter. All I can do is borrow her characters and fantasize about them, then give them back for her to make money and me to dream.
This story takes place in Deathly Hallows during the years before the epilogue. I've tried to keep it consistent with canon.
It was a typical Sunday afternoon at the Burrow. Molly Weasley stood in the kitchen door and looked over her brood all gathered in the garden after an early family dinner. Most of her children had come over that weekend, bringing along their wives, husbands, and several of her wonderful redheaded grandchildren. It was ten years since the end of the war and the house was full of life and laughter. By all reasoning, she should have been happy.
Molly frowned and saw her chance. Nodding to her husband Arthur, she stepped out and approached her two youngest children when they drifted away from the group. "Ron, Ginny," she said stepping up to them. "Can you come join me in the kitchen for a moment?"
"Sure Mum," said Ginny. Ron nodded and smiled, giving a helping hand to his visibly pregnant younger sister as she climbed the steps into the house. Molly smiled a little seeing how attentive he was. Her youngest son had matured beyond measure. He was a fine young man, and a wonderful father to little two year old Rose. And Ginny, her own baby Ginny. When did she grow into such a beautiful woman and equally attentive mother to three year old James and his year younger brother Albus, and with another child on the way. And, though she wasn't showing yet, Hermione had just announced the other week that she, too, was expecting again. Molly sighed, her ruminations making what she had to say to them all the more difficult. Arthur came in and the two shared a look as if to give each other courage.
"What's up, Mum?" Ron asked, pulling a chair out for Ginny at the long kitchen table.
"Sit," Molly said, gesturing at the chair next to Ginny. Confused, but smiling, Ron took a seat. Their parents took the chairs opposite. "Your father and I," said Molly, taking a deep breath, "wanted to have a little chat with the two of you." Ron and Ginny looked from one parent to the other, concern growing at the serious expressions they saw. "We wanted to talk about Harry and Hermione."
"What about them?" asked Ginny, curiously.
"It's about something that your father saw, and that I've noticed, too," continued the Weasley matron. "Something that I think has been going on for awhile."
"Going on?" asked Ron.
"Yes, well, um…", Molly stuttered, losing her confidence looking at the innocent, expectant faces of her children.
"Maybe I should start," Arthur said, clearing his throat, then pausing for a few seconds before continuing. "About two months ago, on a Saturday, I had to go into work to fetch some papers I needed to have finished by Monday. It being the weekend, I decided to take the visitor's entrance into the Ministry. You know how I like to walk through Muggle London sometimes." The children nodded, both smiling at their father's longstanding fascination with everything Muggle. "Anyway, a few blocks from the entrance I passed by a little café. Just inside I saw them, Harry and Hermione, they were sitting at a table laughing. I smiled, ready to go in and greet them, thinking the two of you must be at the counter or in the loo. But then I noticed that they were sitting at a small table with only room for the two of them. And they were holding hands across the table. I'm sure there was a good explanation, but I got nervous and I just kept walking. The sight of the two of them bothered me for the rest of the day."
"Your father told me what he saw," said Molly, taking over the story, "and I laughed it off, but the image stayed in my head. I started watching how the two of them behaved around each other and got suspicious."
"Mum, what did you do?" asked Ron severely.
"I…," she said, refusing to make eye contact with Hermione's husband, "I began following them. I put a tracking charm on Hermione."
"Mother!" gasped Ginny. "How could you? Your own daughter-in-law!" Ron pushed his chair back loudly and scowled at his parents.
"Don't yell at your mother," Arthur said sternly. "Wait until you hear her out." Ron shut his mouth with a snap, biting back the retort that was on the tip of his tongue.
"I found out that they are meeting somewhat regularly, about twice a month," Molly said leaning forward with sadness in her eyes. "Usually in London, but sometimes elsewhere. It's always just the two of them. And they are always in such good humor together, holding hands and laughing. Like they're on…on…on a date."
Ron and Ginny looked at each other, frowning. Then, with a twinkle in her eye, Ginny said, "Muggle Saturday?"
Ron nodded back, trying to stifle a smirk, "Muggle Saturday." Then they both broke into gales of laughter. Taken aback by their children's reaction to news of their spouse's infidelities, Arthur and Molly looked at each other in confusion.
"Is there something we're missing?" their father asked when the laughter had quieted down.
"Tell me, Mum," Ron said, still chuckling. "Was it on the first and third Saturdays of every month that you saw them together?"
"Um, yes," Molly said slowly, thinking back, "it could have been."
"Oh Mum, Dad, you two are so silly," said Ginny grinning. "Twice a month Harry and Hermione have 'Muggle Saturday'. It's like a religion for them. I think the only time they've missed it is when the kids were being born."
"What? Muggle Saturday? What's that?" asked Arthur, intrigued, if only by the name.
"Well," said Ron explaining. "You know that both of them were raised by Muggles, of course. As much as they like being a witch and a wizard, Hermione and Harry really miss some aspects of their Muggle lives. So, they like to take a day when they can forget about the Wizarding world and be Muggles again. They go to museums, the cinema, eat out, just walk through the park together, go shopping, ride the trains. You know, the stuff Muggles like to do on weekend."
"And for those days they just blend in with the rest of the Muggles," Ginny said with a fond smile. "Not as the great Harry Potter and Hermione Weasley, the heroes of the Great War. Not as the most powerful wizard and brightest witch of our age, but just as Harry and Hermione, two normal people having a normal day on the town."
"How long has this been going on?" asked Molly, still suspicious.
"Oh, since before we were all married," Ginny replied.
"Yeah," said Ron, "they kept trying to get us to come along. We did at first, but it was never right with us there."
"Ron couldn't fit in," laughed Ginny. "No matter how much coaching they gave him, he couldn't act like a Muggle. He wouldn't be able to order a coffee, and he'd go on about using the fellytone, and other nonsense. He kept getting stares from the real Muggles and that made everyone uncomfortable."
"Well at least I didn't fall asleep at a crickey game," sniped Ron at his sister.
"It's called cricket, and you have to admit that Muggle sports are boring!" responded Ginny irritated.
"Yeah, but you thought everything Muggle that Hermione and Harry wanted to do was boring!" Ginny couldn't argue with that statement. "Anyway," continued Ron, turning back to their parents after one last glare at his sister, "eventually Gin and I stopped trying. We realized that we were just putting a damper on what the two of them wanted to get from their Muggle Saturdays. And they eventually gave up asking us, seeing us up as a lost cause. So now they just go alone."
"So you see, Mum and Dad," said Ginny, "there's nothing to be upset about. It's just something they do. 'Keeping in touch with their roots', I think Hermione called it."
"Though now that the kids are starting to get older, I suppose they'll start taking them along," Ron sighed. "Hermione has stated that under no circumstances would her children be uncomfortable living in either Magical or Muggle world."
"Harry insists the same," Ginny said with a small smile.
"Well then," said Arthur conclusively, as if the whole thing was resolved. Then leaning forward he asked, "Do you think they'd invite me along?" The kids laughed, but Molly's frown grew deeper and she held onto her husband's arm, preventing him from rising, as if he were about to rush outside to ask them.
"What about the hand holding?" she asked sharply. "And I saw them kiss!"
"Oh Mum!" said Ginny with an exasperated smile. "When have you ever seen Hermione and Harry not holding hands or hugging or giving each other friendly kisses?"
"They've been doing that since we were eleven years old," said Ron pointing out the kitchen window with his long nose. Everyone turned to look and saw Harry and Hermione standing in the garden watching the children run around chasing a bold gnome who had stolen Rose's pacifier. Harry had an arm around Hermione's waist and she had her head resting on his shoulder. It was a natural pose, and even the older Weasleys had to admit that it was how they usually saw them when together. "Harry and Hermione are best friends. Always have been, always will."
"As kids they were each alone," said Ginny with a sad smile. "Before Hogwarts Harry was abused and shunned by his relatives. Then he was labeled a liar and attention seeker by the Magical world."
Ron continued, "And Hermione was rejected by her Muggle classmates, and then at Hogwarts, for being an insufferable bossy know-it-all. And, git that I was, I teased and insulted her, too." He shook his head with obvious regret.
"All they've ever really had is each other," said Ginny, "I credit Hermione for showing Harry that it's okay to feel and express love."
Arthur surreptitiously wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. Molly, on the other hand was far from satisfied. "What about the flat? And the time they spend together there?"
"The flat?" said Ron in surprise.
"I've seen them meet, but then go straight to a flat on the East End. They spend hours there, once even a night over together. And let me tell you, they looked more than friendly when they left the next morning."
"That's the MFZ!" said Ron, realizing what his mother was referring to.
"The what?" asked Arthur.
"Magic Free Zone," said Ginny patiently. "We've had that flat for years. We all bought it together right after we got married with some of our wedding money."
"Yeah," said Ron, picking up the explanation. "You know that Muggle electrical thingies don't work if there is too much magic around." Arthur nodded, but Molly just frowned. "Well they just wanted someplace they could have Muggle stuff where it would work. They sometimes go there to watch movies or the television, or listen to Muggle music. Hermione's got a com-poot-or," he said pronouncing the word carefully, but still awkwardly. "She likes to use it to write or do research on Muggle stuff on the interweb thingie."
"And Harry's got a huge telly and these things called video games. Those are actually pretty neat, Dad," gushed Ginny, finally showing an interest in something Muggle. "You'd love them!"
"But Harry and Hermione have banned Ginny from playing the video games," said Ron, poking his sister in the ribs. "She got too competitive and tried to cheat using magic. All the electronics in the flat exploded. Good thing Harry's loaded. It must have cost him a sack of galleons to replace it all." Ginny gave him a withering glare, but stayed silent in shame. "Now he makes us put our wands into a box by the door before he even lets us into the BFZ."
"There you go, Molly," said Arthur, trying to conclude the conversation once again. "It's all got a simple explanation."
"But it's still very suspicious," snapped Molly, refusing the let the topic go. "What if someone from the Daily Prophet or Witch Weekly were to see them alone together, behaving like they do? Whether or not something is really going on between them, the scandal would be devastating! And it's not just their lives they're risking. It's yours and your children's!"
"No one is going to report anything," Ginny said flatly. "Harry and Hermione saw to that right after the war when things were so insane and people were following us all everywhere. You remember how it all stopped the instant they issued that joint statement threatening to leave the Wizarding world forever if the reporters and paparazzi didn't cease and desist? And when Kingsley followed up by forcing the Wizengamot to pass those privacy laws that Hermione wrote, it pretty much forced people like Rita Skeeter out of a job. It's been ten years, and the only articles the Prophet has published have been interviews that Harry or Hermione have consented to."
Molly made a harumphing sound. "I'm still not satisfied. Those two are just too obvious with their feelings for each other. I'm convinced they're having an…"
"Mum!" shouted Ron. "I know what you're going to say, and I don't want to hear it! Even if it's true, and I'm not saying it is or isn't, I just simply don't care!"
"How can you not care?" shouted Molly in return. "She's your wife! The mother of your child! He's your best friend! Your husband!" she said turning to Ginny. "You can't let them do that behind your backs!"
"Why not?" asked Ginny calmly.
"What?" said Molly, falling back into her seat, the wind taken out of her by that simple statement.
"You heard me," said Ginny with an even voice, staring daggers at her mother. "Why not? If we don't care, why should you? It's our business, not yours."
"Look," said Ron, suddenly trying to be the mediator between the two strong-willed Weasley women. "All I know is that I'm Harry's best mate, but Hermione is and always will be his best friend, his other half. They complete each other in ways I don't think any of us truly can understand. I got over being jealous of their relationship, or whatever you want to call it, a long time ago. I know that Hermione loves me and will always come home to me and to our daughter, and to the little one to come," he added with a smile.
"The same's true for Harry," Ginny said emphatically. "He loves me and whatever it is he has with Hermione doesn't stop that or diminish it. In fact it enhances it. He can talk to her about anything, and she always understands. Bloody hell, sometimes they don't even have to talk, I swear they know what each other is thinking most of the time. Once Harry was going off on something that happened at work. He was really angry, shouting and throwing things. Hermione just appeared out of no where, as if she knew something was wrong, and talked to him, calmed him down. He came to me and apologized right away, spent the rest of the week making up for it."
"Did you know that Hermione still has nightmares every night about the things that happened in the war?" asked Ron.
"Harry, too," added Ginny with a nod.
"Not like the nightmares we all sometimes have, but horrible realistic dreams where they remember the worst moments, the pain, the loss, all as if it's happening again. They feel guilty for it all. They feel every person's deat: Fred, Dobby, Dumbldore, Tonks, Lupin, everyone… as if they were the ones who killed them. They see pure evil glaring at them from Voldemort's or Bellatrix's eyes. They feel the curses, the knife wounds, the concentrated hate. They relive it every single night, over and over again." Molly and Arthur shook their heads, not realizing before just how emotionally scarred those two young people were. "Sometimes," Ron continued with tears welling up, "sometimes I just can't calm her down. It's been ten years and I can't make her stop screaming. Then Harry shows up. He holds her and cries with her until they both fall asleep."
"Other times," said Ginny with a sniffle of her own, "it happens the other way around. Harry won't wake up, but he'll start shaking and sweating. His accidental magic sometimes makes everything in the bedroom fly around. He calls out all our names. I know he's dreaming that we're dying and that he's helpless to prevent it. But when he calls Hermione's name, she suddenly appears, apparates right into the bedroom. I have no idea how she knows, but she always comes when he shouts her name. She's the only one who can make the dreams stop for the night. I don't know what Harry would do without her…what I'd do without her."
Ron got up and offered Ginny his hand. "So, who are we to judge? Given everything they've been through, all to save our sorry arses? Who are we to deny them any ounce of happiness where they can find? Be it with us, or with each other?"
With that the two youngest Weasleys walked out the door, leaving their parents to their own thoughts. Outside, the redheads joined their spouses in a four-way hug and began laughing at the antics of their children and the garden gnome.