At the tender young age of eleven years old, Hermione Granger has the misfortune to meet the most infuriating person she ever will happen upon. While his vivid red hair and adorable freckles suggest innocence, Hermione decides at once what he is. He is an underachieving sports obsessed little child who apparently can't figure out how to wait until he's finished chewing to speak. She wonders why Harry Potter has chosen to sit next to him. What she doesn't know is that Ronald Weasley is judging her just as much as she is judging him. He instantly comes to the conclusion that she is an over intelligent and spoiled snob with way too much money.
They say that first impressions mean everything. In about three days, Hermione learns to disagree with this. While Ron's opinion of her remains the same, she decides that he is actually delightfully funny and very witty. To be witty, you must be smart, and therefore she realizes that perhaps Ron Weasley could easily keep up with her in that way. Maybe he just chooses not to. The idea that anyone would decide this intrigues Hermione. She's never approached life from Ron's point of view before, always looked at it as little moments leading up to the future, no time for really bothering with the present. It isn't important, she thinks. Ron has different ideas. He's in the moment. He speaks what he thinks. If he wants to relax, he will. If he wants to work himself into a fury, he can. It fascinates her. From then on, she closely watches Ron Weasley.
It's around this time that Hermione's parents begin sending her classic novels to peruse in her free time. They've always expected too much of their little girl, and the fact that she is a witch does not change that. Never has she been able to read light books, and never has she wanted to. Hermione sets standards for herself just as high as her parents'. Captivated by the stories her parents send, she begins to devour the novels. Soon, all loneliness is forgotten as she becomes lost in the world of romance, passion and bravery. Perhaps she is too young to be reading them, but it doesn't matter. Once Hermione Granger starts something, she will finish it.
And then one day she becomes friends with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. They open her up to a whole new world, the idea of fun and adventure, something she has never before pursued. In return, she aids them in their homework, only hoping that she can help them as much as they have helped her, although she'd never let on. She'd never let on how much they mean to her, how wonderful she thinks they are, how nice it is to finally have the most amazing friends at Hogwarts. She'll never let them know how much power they have over her, how much control they can have on her actions. Ron and Harry put her through ups and downs and everything she has ever been afraid of suddenly becomes a part of her everyday life.
Logic. That's what she loves, isn't it? She loves being smart, loves always having the answers. To believe in anything but is atrocious, Hermione thinks. Other things will distract her from her studies, so she has to concentrate. But if logic is everything a girl needs, why does Hermione have a soaring feeling in her stomach as she reads the books? She doesn't need romance, she argues with herself. She is a strong, confident girl who is fast turning into an equally strong teenager.
Suddenly, she realizes it. She's turning into a romantic. She's turning into someone who grows misty eyed at sad movies, who sighs over cute couples holding hands in the hallways. And she knows what she wants. She wants Romeo, willing to die for her. She want William Darcy, so tall, dark, handsome and mysterious. She wants Rhett Butler, coming after her, trying to woo her and win her over. So why does she get butterflies whenever she looks at Ron? Why does she get nervous every time she talks to her best friend? It takes too long for her to actually figure it out. Yes, she wants Romeo, Mr. Darcy and Rhett Butler. But who she really gets is Ron. He's not romantic. Most girls don't even find him particularly attractive, although Hermione disagrees. The day she realizes that he is the most adorable boy on the planet is also the day that she decides she needs to give up on reading classic romantic novels. If she keeps it up she's going to start swooning whenever he speaks.
It begins when she is in second year. At age twelve, nothing she's ever seen in real life is more romantic than Ron Weasley upchucking slugs for her. In it's own way, the gesture is beautiful, Hermione decides. After that, she begins to look at Ron differently. More importantly, she always feels safe when he's around. She knows that both he and Harry would do anything to protect her. Somehow, though, it is always Ron's approval that she craves the most, not Harry's. Maybe that's because Ron was harder on her than Harry was in the beginning. As she spends her days helping them with homework and listening to them fervently lament on how smart she is, Ron saying it always brings a bigger smile to her face. And still, there is something positively odd about her relationship with him. They always seem to be arguing about something or other, and yet she enjoys the times she butts heads with him. Surely that isn't normal?
Her relationship with Harry is so much easier, and Hermione realizes this relatively quickly. But it doesn't mean she likes Ron any less than she does Harry. It's just so different that Hermione isn't sure how to describe it, how to label it. All she knows is that when she becomes a cat, she's terribly afraid of how Ron will think she looks. And when she gets petrified, he is the first person she thinks of when she wakes up. Before her mum, before her dad, even before Harry. She tells herself that this doesn't mean anything, but on the inside her heart is already breaking. Hermione knows that Ron doesn't think about her like that, so she forbids herself to think about him like that. Surely feelings can be shut off? She's thirteen, she isn't stupid about these things. She's listened to Parvati and Lavender giggling enough to know what's going on with her. Sort of.
The summer after second year, Hermione finds herself doing very odd things. First of all, if anyone says anything that sounds remotely like 'Ron', her stomach flips. If her parents talk about him, her face flushes unbecomingly, and she avoids their eyes. She doesn't know why she does it- it's just an instinct not to let them into her feelings. Grangers don't share like that. They are strong and confident and they can manage their affairs by themselves. Hermione also finds herself fascinated by any boy that has red hair or freckles, looking upon him in an endearing manner even if she doesn't know him. Whenever she sees anyone redheaded in a crowd, her eyes train to that person, flicking back to them repeatedly as though hoping that they will turn around and reveal themselves to be a Weasley. Worst of all, she finds herself distracted from her reading, accidentally delving into private fantasies that shake her thirteen year old brain to the core.
Upon meeting up with Ron in Diagon Alley on the day before they go back to Hogwarts for their third year, Hermione spends the whole time convincing herself that he is nowhere near as wonderful as he is in her imagination. And she's right, he isn't. But there's this feeling in her that tells her that he can be, if only someone would let him show it. Not yet, definitely not yet. After all, he's only thirteen, and she knows that thirteen year old boys can be rather atrocious at times. Ron, though, has promise, she thinks. She decides to continue attempting to turn off the butterflies in her stomach and distract herself with reading her classic romantic novels, buying Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights at a muggle store before she leaves. She also tries to satisfy her strange craving for running her hands through ginger hair by buying a ginger cat. Alas, she is terribly unsuccessful.
Throughout the year, she tries to nurture and teach both boys. Not so much Harry, who is always quiet, reserved, and polite. All he needs is someone to care about him, and now that he has both her and Ron, Hermione knows that he is well on his way to becoming just loved as he needs to be. It's Ron that Hermione pays the most attention to. He needs to grow the most, and perhaps she is a bit too hard on him, but she can't help it. She knows that he has amazing potential that he is too stubborn to reach. Hermione understands that he thinks he isn't as good as his brothers, but she knows in her heart it isn't true. Yes, he suffers lethal confidence issues. But if only he would let her in enough to help him with them! She could compliment him for hours, though he probably won't believe her. Not even if she is the brightest shade of red and absolutely refuses to look into his eyes.
For her fourteenth birthday, Hermione's parents send her a beautiful collection of muggle fairytales. She decides that her mother must have phenomenal intuition, because Hermione is at boarding school and somehow the woman still seems to know exactly what she needs. Hermione spends the whole day reading the stories, soaking in the beautiful language, romantic tales, and sigh-worthy happy endings. She ponders why there are no ginger Prince Charmings. She wonders if this is a hint that she should give Ron up as a bad job. Luckily, she is distracted from this by Parvati and Lavender noticing that the illustrations in the book do not move and instantly begging for her to read them the muggle fairytales. She obliges, tenderly speaking the words, and bonding with her roommates for the first time since she has gotten to Hogwarts. Another person Hermione bonds with is Ginny. The little girl has continuous nightmares from the year before, and Hermione is always there to help her.
Seeing Ron get dragged away on a broken leg has Hermione's heart in her throat. It quickly and easily surpasses anything else on her short list of things that scare her. She runs to the Whoomping Willow, only intent on saving him. And in all her hysteria, she begins inwardly chanting passages from the Brothers Gimm's story Cinderella. For some reason, it calms her. Cinderella gets her happy ending. Why shouldn't Hermione get the same? Certainly her happy ending cannot happen if her best friend is killed, so of course Ron must be okay. Granted, Hermione has never heard on an ugly fairytale Princess with too much hair and buckteeth. As she runs into the Shrieking Shack, clutching Harry much to hard in her nervous state, she vows that she will someday write a fairytale about an ugly Princess who stays ugly the whole story and still gets the guy, just because she's wonderful.
Ron is saved, as she knows he will be. She returns home for a brief period of time, during which she reflects back on the year, reads more classic novels, and wonders about Sirius Black. The idea that Harry could have family other than her and Ron makes her happy. She knows that the Weasleys will be there for him, too, but there's a part of her that fears that none of them will ever be enough. She decides Harry needs to fall in love. Logical girl that she is, she supposes that the only way for him to compensate for a lack of maternal love is to get the romantic kind. She wishes she could fall in love with him- it would be so much easier than fancying Ron, after all. But she just can't bring herself to do it. She doesn't like Harry like that. Or at least, she doesn't think she does. What if she's really liked Harry the whole time, and she just thinks she wants Ron?
Oh, merlin. That's so ridiculous she wonders how it even crossed her mind. I fancy Ron, she tells herself, heart sinking as she realizes it is the truth. It is the first time she has allowed herself to think those exact words, and while she has known it for quite some time, she's never fully admitted it to herself. Merlin save me, I fancy Ron!
When Hermione gets a letter from Ron asking if she wants to come over for the Quidditch match, she excitedly dashes downstairs to ask her parents. When they tell her that they are disappointed she will not be spending more time with them that summer, she tells them that watching the Quidditch World Cup will be a superb educational experience for her. Really, it's just a chance for her to get to Ron faster, but neither her mother nor her father need to know that. They allow her to go, and she writes her response to Ron about ten times, making sure that her wording and handwriting are absolutely perfect. Oh, and that boy will never understand the lengths I go to for him, she thinks. What she doesn't find out until much later is that Ron had spent just as much time on his letter to her.
The Burrow is heaven to her. It is so different from anything she and Harry have ever experienced. Both their childhoods were dramatically different from Ron's, and Hermione wonders why he has ever complained before about anything related to the Weasleys. The home and people in it seem to radiate love and affection. As she spends her days there, she decides that the chaos is good for her. She can feel it- and Ron's presence- loosening her inhibitions. She is able to go swimming in the Weasleys' pond without wearing a t-shirt over her suit. While she is embarrassed about having a figure and rather self conscious of it, she makes the choice to let loose. And, quite honestly, she's never enjoyed herself more. She thinks perhaps she enjoys herself a bit too much around Ron, because a few nights after she arrives Ginny asks if she fancies him. Hermione denies it fervently, but eventually tells, giggling about a boy for the first time in her life. And it actually feels good.
That year, when Harry and Ron have a fight, Hermione can feel herself get torn in two. She knows exactly what's going through Ron's mind, and wishes she could confront him about it, but understands that he has to work through it himself. She drops Harry not-so-subtle hints, hoping that he'll initiate a reconciliation, but Ron has turned Harry stubborn, and he too refuses to remain friends with Ron. Hermione isn't worried that it'll be forever- after all, Ron and Harry's friendship is almost rock solid. No, the issue is how to divide her time fairly between them, when all she wants to do is help Harry but deeply values her alone time with Ron. During those months, it becomes apparent that they can function without Harry there, and this surprises and pleases Hermione more than it should. That said, she's almost disappointed when Ron apologizes to Harry.
Yes, she's slightly disappointed, but she's also proud of him. Ron is growing up right before her eyes, and the idea that she might be helping that process fills her with even more burning pride. If only he can understand how much he effects her own personal growth. Then he would never have any misconceptions about being sub par to his brothers. As it is, though, she can't even get him to ask her to the Yule Ball, so how can she make him understand the way he effects her? After a couple of weeks of despairing over this, Hermione decides to accept Viktor Krum's invitation. She chooses to be Eliza Doolittle for the night and show Ron that she can be gorgeous if she tries. The only problem is, she's not quite sure that she is. Gorgeous, that is. She has absolutely no faith in her own looks, and therefor spends far too much time wondering if her plan will work.
Jealousy is a scary thing. Hermione isn't sure if what Ron feels as he looks at her and Viktor is jealousy, but somehow she can't find another emotion to fit his reaction. It's not as if she exactly set out to make him jealous, though somewhere in the back of her mind that must have been the point of the whole thing. Now, however, as he yells at her with a bright red face and she fights back tears, she wonders why he couldn't have been her Prince Charming for the night, swooping her off her feet and onto his horse, kissing her as the sunsets on the horizon. In a way, the night has been a success. She has made Ron notice her. In a vindictive way, it feels amazing. In the other hand, she can't help but feel a bit guilty. She hopes that she has not hurt him. She hates to see him hurting, and if the way he feels as he sees her with Viktor is anything like her emotions as she looks at him flirting with Fleur, she wishes she could take it back. She wonders if she's ever read a fairytale where the Princess's first kiss was not with the Prince. Maybe that's the skeleton in the closet of Rapunzel. While she was locked up in the tower, she had a few rendezvous with some random guy before she met her Prince.
As Harry comes out of the maze clutching the dead body of Cedric Diggory, Hermione can feel herself fall apart. She wants to badly to dive into Ron's arms and have him hold her. Luckily, she doesn't need to do this. Because while she's still thinking about it, Ron has just done it. Without thinking, he has given her what she needs the most. It's like it is his second nature to hold her while she cries and, most shockingly, he is crying too. Not noisily like she is, but tears roll from his eyes as he reacts to Cedric Diggory's father bawling hysterically over his dead son. And for one selfish, horrible and yet completely blissful second, Hermione is thrilled that is isn't Ron who is dead, but Cedric Diggory. She knows it is wrong, but while Cho Chang sobs over the loss of her boyfriend, Hermione holds onto Ron, making sure he is solid and warm and alive. And merlin, what if he's doing the same with her? What if that's the reason he is holding her? She doesn't allow herself to think it. She doesn't even allow herself to turn red when Ron realizes that the person he is holding is Hermione and doesn't release her. They need each other.
Being shut up in Grimmuald Place with Ron is possibly one of the most educational experiences Hermione has in her young life. She learns many things, like what kind of shampoo Ron uses, the fact that he never picks his towels up off the floor, and that tenderness for his family sometimes flickers out when he means to hold it in. She also learns that Ron sleeps only in his boxers. This is purely accidental, but no less educational. She can nearly feel her attraction to him and her endearment towards him grow the more time they spend together. This is perfect, this is easy, and so simple yet so complicated. A part of her loves it, and a part of her loathes it. His laughter echoes through the halls of Grimmauld Place, haunting her dreams, and it becomes terribly easy for her to forget about Harry and Voldemort. As she cleans, she imagines that she is Snow White, and Ron is her Prince. When she sleeps, she wonders if he is ever going to kiss her to wake her up. Doesn't Ron know that kissing the Princess in her sleep is what you're supposed to do? Maybe he would have already done that if he was her Prince. She decides to stop daydreaming about that, but in all honesty can't bring herself to do it. What once was an escape from life now becomes her downfall.
As they move through the year, fear begins to grip Hermione daily. It claws at her insides, sometimes making her breathless. Fear for Harry. Fear for herself. Fear for Ron. She doesn't know how she would live if something happened to one of her boys. Harry, her brother, loyal and dependable and brave. And Ron, her possible Knight-in-Shining-Armor, who can save her from the monsters outside the castle by making her laugh harder than anything has ever made her laugh before. Hermione becomes bent-set on protecting the both of them as well as herself, so she pleads with Harry to begin a Defense Against the Dark Arts group. He does, and it easily becomes the best idea Hermione has ever had. She happily watches as her classmates learn to defend themselves, as Harry discovers that he excels at teaching, as Ron kicks the arse of everyone but her. She's so proud of him. And that year, when Harry has his first kiss, Hermione watches Ron carefully for his reaction. She's disappointed. He's downright giggly, as if the idea of snogging is too much for him to handle without laughing himself silly. She wants to punch him. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she recognizes the fact that Ron is the last of them to have his first kiss. And she knows it's going to happen soon.
She just hopes it will be with her. Because if it isn't, Hermione doesn't think she'd be able to bear it.
She finds out that she can when Ron begins snogging Lavender Brown. Even years later, she remembers sixth year as the most trying time of her life. She walks around wanting to punch people and then have a good cry directly afterwards. She has to sit there and listen to Lavender giggling about all the things she's done with Ron, or all the things Ron has said to her. Half of these Hermione is certain are made up, because she is certain Ron wouldn't say anything like them, but that somehow doesn't make it hurt very much less. Ron is still her roommates, and Hermione has still fancied him since she was twelve years old. As she attempts to comfort herself, Hermione tries to come up with a novel where the characters are in a similar predicament to hers. Perhaps Les Miserables. Maybe she is Eponine, terribly in love with Marius. But, no, that doesn't give her any hope, because Eponine doesn't get Marius. As a matter of fact, she dies in the end. So perhaps Hermione is Cosette? Unfortunately, that doesn't really fit in with where she is in her life. And, besides, she doesn't want Lavender to die, either.
Most of the time.
She wonders how Lavender just randomly noticed all the wonderful things about Ron when she'd never seen them before. It seems to Hermione that everything happened very fast. One day Lavender was commenting that Ron had nice muscles, and the next they were snogging. Hermione had never heard Lavender talk about Ron's potential to be kind, sweet, and tactful on the rare occasion. She never spoke of being able to hear what Ron was saying when his mouth was full. Hermione briefly entertains the idea that Lavender does not see all the wonderful things about Ron that Hermione sees. She dismisses it instantly. That would be too good. It would mean that Lavender only wants Ron for snogging, and will probably end up letting him go very soon. And if she lets him go, can't Hermione be there to pick up the pieces? To Parvati and Lavender, it would seem like sloppy seconds. To Hermione it would mean being with the boy she has fallen... er, no. Being with the boy she fancies.
She's in denial, of course. Now that she sees Ron with someone else, she can't stand the fact that she fancies him. Her silly little schoolgirl crush has endured much more than she had initially thought it would, and it has reached a downright painful point. She wants to reach out and run her hands through his ginger hair. She wants to hear his deep voice (seriously, when did it get deep?) rolling through her body. She wants to stroke his cheek, touch his lips. She wants to be back on speaking terms with him. Mostly, she wants the pain to stop. Hermione wants to stop having feelings for Ron. She wants to stop hating herself for falling- NO- fancying him. At this rate, she is too exhausted with her life to even come up with a love story to compare it to. She is fresh out of fairytales, fresh out of a classic novels, and she's just too tired of everything to bother with it all. Ginny notices instantly. One night when Hermione and Ginny are chatting in the common room, Ginny watches as her friend's face turns from hurt to blank, and turns around to see Ron and Lavender in the same armchair. Even without feeling the stab of pain Hermione feels in her stomach, Ginny knows what is going through her friends' mind.
"You love him, don't you?" she asks, scrutinizing Hermione very carefully for a reaction to this statement. Hermione's eyes widen, and she lowers her voice to a hiss.
"Of course I don't!" she snaps angrily. "It's just a physical attraction, Ginny. It doesn't mean I want to end up married to him."
"You love him," Ginny repeats, amazed.
"Ginny, I do not love him," Hermione replies, rolling her eyes. "That's absolutely absurd."
Then she stomps away before Ginny can further accuse her of being in love with Ronald Weasley.
Time passes very slowly when Ron isn't in her life. Hermione notices this rather fast. She wishes she could go back to first year and warn her little self that Ron Weasley just isn't worth the heartache, but she can't do that. Because she knows those five years of friendship absolutely were worth the heartache. And while she wishes that things were different, she knows they aren't. She doesn't love Ron, she fancies him, and he is with Lavender. So she won't see him, and she doesn't think anything can change that until Ron gets put into the hospital wing on his seventeenth birthday. It is hard enough for Hermione that she can't be with Ron on the day he comes of age, but when it turns out he's in the hospital wing for it she feels even worse. White faced and panicked, she hurls herself down to the hospital wing to reach him, her mind jumping back to fourth year when he held her after Cedric Diggory died. He hasn't hugged her since, hasn't done so much as hold her hand. That changes as he murmurs her name in his sleep, effectively ending their fight without even knowing it. She takes his hand, sinks down into a chair next to his bed and watches his sleeping face, wishing inwardly to see his vivid blue eyes staring up at her. The hysterical fear and upset she has felt since she has heard Ron got poisoned consumes her, and she begins to cry, sobbing over what could have happened. As she stares at him, she realizes something.
"Merlin's pants. Ginny was right. I am in love with you. Oh, god, what am I going to do?"
She knows he can't hear her, but she's self conscious anyways. Instantly, Hermione falls silent, wondering how she could have been stupid enough to fall in love with Ronald Weasley when she had wanted William Darcy, Romeo, Heathcliff, Rhett Butler and Prince Charming. But merlin, he's gorgeous. Red hair, freckles and all. Tentatively, longingly, she reaches out to brush some of his hair out of his eyes. And that's when she realizes just how irrevocable her situation is.
Now time passes more quickly. Before she knows it, he is holding her again, comforting her after Dumbledore's death. She revels in the fact that he is always able to magnificently rise to the occasion when she needs him the most. And too soon they're dancing at the wedding, saying goodbye to childhood as they leave to go on the run, and he is comforting her as well as he can, holding her hands as she falls asleep. Try as she might, she can't think of a fairytale to go with what is happening. Maybe Hansel and Gretal, if there were three of them. And Voldemort is the witch out to eat them all. In that case, Harry would be Hansel and she would be Gretal. Ron would be Gretal's love interest that may or may not love her back. But that's for later in the story.
He leaves. It hurts even more than when he started dating Lavender, because Hermione takes it to be another rejection of her, and simultaneously he is rejecting Harry. She begins to sympathize with those frivolous girls in books who curl up into a ball on the floor and inwardly dies when their boyfriends leave them. Hermione wants to do the same, only she won't let herself. This is where she stops being a fairytale Princess. She must be Scarlet O'Hara, going back to Tara to save the plantation. She has nothing, and yet she will make something out of nothing, anyways. Indeed, even while Ron is gone, Hermione manages to save her and Harry's lives a few times. She wonders if this means she is better than those weepy girls she has always hated. If so, shouldn't she get the guy just like they had? Thankfully, the guy comes back, and Hermione's hatred and love for him has never been so strong or so equal. Finally love wins out.
And he is there for her. She is tortured, and he is there. His voice, his presence- the mere idea of him keeps her going, keeps her from giving up. She can't give up. She has to tell him how she feels because if she doesn't she knows her life will be a complete waste. Yet, even after, she can't do it. Even after his strong arms have enclosed themselves around her, even after her Ron has taken her away from her own personal hell, even after his scent has taken over every sense she possesses she finds it impossible to do so. Luckily, during the battle, she doesn't think about it. She just lunges. And he's holding her, he's kissing her, and she's finally running her hands through ginger hair that doesn't belong to Crookshanks, and how can someone's lips be so soft yet so rough at the same time?
Even years later, Hermione still remembers her thoughts right before she kisses him. The words about the House-Elves slip from his lips very quickly, and for a second she stares at him. She remembers Mr. Darcy, and Romeo, and Heathcliff, and Prince Charming. She remembers all the climactic kisses she has ever read about or even seen in a movie. And she acknowledges that Ron definitely isn't your average-Joe Prince Charming. He isn't William Darcy, he isn't Romeo, he isn't Marius. But Ron Weasley is what you make him, and if she wants to take him as he is, she can make him her very own Prince Charming. After all, Rhett Butler isn't real, but Ron Weasley is. Afterwards, when the battle is over, she confesses everything, unable to stop herself after her amazing epiphany. It isn't the right time. But now this is her own fairytale, and it is the right time because she says it is the right time.
"Ron, you're the only one I will ever be able to be with," she admits seriously.
"I reckon that's the same for me," is his shy response.
And somehow, miraculously, it's perfect.
She gets to live her life with Ron Weasley. And, somehow, she gets her day as a Princess. It is absolutely perfect. Looking back, she knows that. Her hair is perfect. Her makeup is perfect. The setting is perfect. The date is perfect. The dress is perfect. And the guy is perfect. She walks to him completely oblivious of the weight of commitment, and it doesn't even matter. She'd do anything for him, as he'd do for her. She realizes that the dress is perhaps a little silly. It's a Princess dress, rusty and long and fancy. But as she watches it whoosh to the floor in all of its white perfection later on that night, it hits her once again just how much she loves it. For that day, she is a Princess. For the rest of her life, she is Ron Weasley's wife.
He covers her in kisses, and as his hands reach everywhere on her body, she becomes glad that they have gotten rid of the dress. Later on, they're lying in bed, holding each other, just as they have done since they were eighteen, the night after the battle. They're unable to sleep if they don't. He leans down and whispers the words in her ear, in a tenderness she has known he possessed all along.
"I love you, Hermione Weasley."
And her response is soft, quiet, but no less emotional.
"I love you too, Prince Charming."