If You Can Meet With Triumph And Disaster...

Hermione had met with dangers and challenges all her life, could she face and survive even more? Of the body, mind and heart? Mature, adult themes throughout. Sex, some violence, moderate language and quidditch. Mostly HG/GW with a little HG/RW & GW/HP

New A/N Note made 18 Sept 2012: I've recently been aware that several people have been reading this story for the first time. I'm also aware that this story is littered with typos, grammatical errors and other things. I was just using WordPad at the time and wasn't very good at checking back on things and making sure it read correctly. I hope to eventually go through the whole thing and correct the errors and polish it up a little. If I ever get the time. It definitely shows it was my first public story...I've got a little better since. Oh well, we all have to start somewhere. :)

A/N: This is my first story I've decided to put online. It might seem to take a few chapters to get going, but I like to elaborate on things and set things up. but I promise it does go somewhere. I should say that I have actually completed this story before beginning to post the chapters, so you will have a complete story to read in the end. (About 48 similar sized chapters to this first one) After reading some of this you might not think I like Hermione much...but I honestly love the character, which is why I put her through this particular story to show again what she's made of. I will occasionally have chapters where not much happens just to involve some characters I love and visit with them.

WARNINGS: This is an adult story with adult themes. There is sex, mostly lesbian, but it's not smut for the sake of it, and is in context with the way I've written the characters. It is explicit at times, but again not distasteful or sick. There is some violence, which includes a storyline I won't reveal here, in case it spoils it. Again I've tried to keep the violence in context and appropriate, it may offend some, but I consider it fairly tame compared to some I've read. There is moderate bad language, mainly fairly mild British slang, and where anything stronger is used, it is again in context and not every other word.

I have always loved both the humour and sadness that flows through the world of Harry Potter and I hope I'll be able to make you both laugh and cry...you might do the latter, if you think it's really bad! LOL I can be really sappy at times, so you have been warned. I've mostly kept to known post-Deathly Hallows 'canon' but have twisted a few things for my own plans. I've also used some quidditch. The whole story will be mostly from Hermione's POV.

As usual, J.K. Rowling owns the main characters and I've only borrowed them... Other characters are my own invention.

The story is set four years after the battle at Hogwarts. Towards the end of summer.

1

The Burrow was still the same, even after everything that had happened, sitting proudly, if slightly dishevelled, in the Devon countryside. Harry and Hermione were still regular visitors and always stayed several days and sometimes weeks at a time. Mrs Weasley wouldn't have it any other way. Her hope was for several weddings of her brood in the near future and the sound of more feet up and down the rickety stairs.

Once the dust and rubble had settled from the Battle with Voldemort, Harry, Ron and Hermione had been tempted to return to Hogwarts and complete their seventh year. But to say it would have been awkward was an understatement. The teachers and the Ministry all agreed that the three of them, along with many of the other students, had performed above and beyond the requirement for top marks in their NEWTS. Hermione still insisted on actually sitting her exams, which she did in one week; with the advanced magic she had been using, Ginny was fast-tracked immediately and sat the exams with her, along with Luna, Neville and few of the others involved at the deep end of the War. Hermione got top marks, of course, and Ginny wasn't far behind.

Hermione had found her parents in Australia soon after the end of the war. They hadn't been too happy when things were explained to them. Her parents had made a brand new life for themselves Down Under and decided to stay there. In truth, since Hermione had been accepted into Hogwarts, things had been strained and distant between herself and her parents. She had been independent in many ways for so long, that she just accepted that sadly, they wouldn't be in her life much any more.

Harry and Ron were happy to just get their NEWTS without the need for exams. Harry lived at Grimmauld Place, with Kreacher still insisting on running the house for him. Thankfully the decor was much less dark and depressing now. It actually looked like a home these days, rather than a large dusty attic. Ron lived some of the time at home, but most of his time at Grimmauld Place with Harry.

For now, all three were involved with the Ministry, but almost freelance in the various areas they worked in. They were called upon for observing or aiding particularly difficult cases with aurors and other departments with Harry and Ron being first class aurors in their own right. Hermione was interested in the cases that turned up on House Elves; the ones in the employ of former Death Eaters, and helped devise a kind of rehabilitation for them. She didn't spend as much time at the Ministry as the other two, but was called in for special work that required her very own brand of logic and experience.

Hermione was also involved in examing lots of the old magical laws which had encouraged prejudice to people of less than pureblood status. In truth, she would have felt a little claustrophobic had she had an ordinary 9am-5pm job there; she enjoyed her position the way it was, with her high level of automony. She had a nice small, but comfortable flat on the outskirts of London, and had furnished it with a mixture of muggle and magical items.

Ginny had had many options from both the athletic and academic world, but currently she was signed up and playing for one of the leading quidditch teams, the Holyhead Harpies, in Wales. She had originally been there on a trial, fresh from Hogwarts, but her skills were so apparent in the few practice games she played for them, that the Harpies were soon working out a signing-on fee and contract with her. As much as the training could be hard, she did get a lot of time off, especially in the off-season. Hermione suspected, that had Ginny been a muggle she would have been playing sport for someone like the Arsenal ladies football team or for the England women's cricket or rugby team. She was so agile and naturally sporty and thought nothing of getting a bruise or two or giving out bruises herself.

After a couple of years, Ginny had finally acquired a nice cottage on Anglesey, not all that far from the Harpies training facilities; but oddly only her parents had ever been there, as she always came back to the Burrow for meet-ups and get togethers.

For the moment, everyone was spending a few days at the Burrow for the middle of summer, enjoying some time away from the rest of the magical world. Hermione had a few days off, and while the Burrow had always been a haven for Harry, it had quickly become one for Hermione too. Except being older now, did bring its complications...

XXXXXXXXXX

"So, are you going to say 'yes'?" Ginny asked.

Hermione ran a hand through her hair and sighed. "No."

They were sitting on the edge of the two beds in Ginny's room, facing each other. Hermione always shared this room with Ginny since the very first time she visited.

"Oh. Is that just a 'no' or a never in this lifetime 'no'?" the red-haired young woman asked expectantly.

"I'm fairly sure it's a lifetime of 'no'."

"Can I ask why?"

"He's your brother, you must know some of the reasons!" Hermione laughed, trying to make the whole conversation less tense. "I love Ron, but I'm not in love with him. And as comfortable as I am with him, I don't want to be married to him. My heart just isn't there for him on that."

The brunette felt genuinely sad that she didn't have the right feelings for Ron and that she wouldn't be making Ron and his mother very happy. Ginny looked thoughtful for a few moments, part of her also sad, but knowing her brother the way she did, she wasn't sure she would wish him on any poor woman.

"You'll have to tell him soon Hermione. The longer you leave it, the worse it will all get."

"I know. It's just that I don't want to become the bringer of doom, we've all had enough of that feeling to last several lifetimes."

"Hermione you're going to hurt him to begin with anyway, just get it over with."

"I'll try to tell him today."

Ginny looked at her friend and sensed there was something she wasn't saying. "So, can I ask, is one of the reasons the fact you have someone else?"

Hermione nearly choked and perhaps replied a little too fast. "No!"

Ginny studied her hard, she wasn't sure she was detecting a lie, but at the same time she almost had the feeling she had stepped on a toe and got near to something.

"It's OK, you don't have to tell me."

"I don't have someone else!" Hermione said with a slightly raised, incredulous voice. "Where the hell did I get time for that, especially with Ron nearly glued to my side for the past few years?"

"I believe you Herm. But if you ever need to just talk, you know I'm always here and always willing to listen." She stood up and walked over to her friend, placing a hand on Hermione's shoulder. "And especially to hear some juicy gossip...for my ears only, of course!" Ginny chuckled.

"I know Ginny. You're one of my best friends and I trust you with my life." Ginny squeezed Hermione's shoulder.

"Well, I'm off to see if those buns Mum has been baking are ready yet. Care to join me before the others get to them first?"

"You go on, I'll be down in a minute," Hermione said.

Ginny looked at her friend and smiled, before leaving the room on her quest for her mother's fresh baking.

Hermione watched her friend go, and had Ginny looked back, she would have seen Hermione wearing a far off look and at the same time sorrowful expression. She didn't want to hurt anyone and she certainly didn't want to feel the wrath of Mrs Weasley. But she couldn't marry Ron, she just couldn't; after everything, she didn't want to just make do and settle for him, because they had known each other for so long and had seen so many things together, that no one, other than Harry, could understand. That wasn't enough for a marriage, well, for any marriage that Hermione wanted to be a part of, anyway. She replayed the conversation she had just had with Ginny.

"So, can I ask, is one of the reasons the fact you have someone else?" Hermione answered the question truthfully to herself. No, I don't have someone else. But I want someone else. They just don't know I exist that way. Even if they did I think it would be too complicated. And I don't want to mess up anyone else's life.

"But if you ever need to just talk, you know I'm always here and always willing to listen." Hermione sighed to herself again. I don't need to talk to you Ginny, I just need you. And if only you were willing...

There, she had admitted it again to herself. She did have someone else in her life, except only in her dreams really. Ginny was out of reach. She had close access to her, even slept in the same room as her at the Burrow, when she stayed here, but she didn't really have her. Just out of reach and kind of off limits too. How would it look if she turned Ron down, because she preferred his sister?

She had had feelings for the younger woman for a long, long time, but then the War got in the way and things changed for them all. Ginny was a beautiful young woman, highly intelligent, athletic and full of fire and courage. A Gryffindor through and through.

In the last couple of years and especially the last few months of spending so much time at the Burrow again, Hermione's feelings for Ginny had felt incredibly strong again and she knew she loved her very much. It was to the point where she knew she was giving off some kind of signal. Ginny seemed to think she was hiding some juicy details about something or other. She dreaded that she might arrive at the point where she would blurt it out. Then things would change in a big way, and probably not for the better.

Hermione never liked labels for personalities or the way people lived their lives. She had had enough of that with people always metaphorically sticking those labels of "brainy" and "teacher's pet" to her own person. In this case she thought people were people and love was to be treasured. Goodness, from the trauma Voldemort and his followers had forced upon people, any true deep love was a thing of great beauty and value, regardless of whether it was between a man and woman or between two women, and so on.

All Hermione knew was that she had fallen for Ginny a long time ago, and she wanted to hold her in her arms, and be held back by her every day for the rest of her life. If she couldn't have that, then nothing would be good enough, and she would have to try and live with it.

First things first, she thought. I have to tell Ron my answer.

She stood up with a groan and made her way downstairs. On arriving in the kitchen, she found Ginny and Mrs Weasley; the few crumbs down the front of Ginny's blue shirt evidence that at least one of those buns had been sampled. Hermione thought about going over and brushing those crumbs off and making fun of her friend. But such an innocent thought turned in a flash to a thought about brushing against Ginny's chest.

Nooooooo I can't do that. Yes I want to, all the gods and fairies I want to, but I can't trust myself not to give myself away. I'll just point it out then. Noooooooooo, because then she'll think I've been staring at her chest, then I'll start blushing and...and...just don't do anything.

All these thoughts ran through Hermione's mind at the usual speed her brain worked at, so neither of the other two women ever guessed that the woman in front of them had been having a mental tug-of-war, over something as daft as, whether or not to raise the issue of crumbs down Ginny's front.

"Hermione, dear! You're just in time to try one of these hot," Mrs Weasley said pointing to the trays of freshly baked buns on the kitchen table. "It's a muggle recipe out of that book you bought me for Christmas. I must say that muggle baking powder works like a dream."

Hermione helped herself to a bun and began nibbling at it, trying not to burn her tongue. "Excellent," she said. "How come neither of the boys have got here yet? They usually act like they've got a radar for food?"

"Harry and Ron are playing some quidditch I believe, or at least whizzing about on brooms or something. Why don't you two girls go and find them and take them a couple of these." Mrs Weasley put some of the buns into a lunch box.

Ginny and Hermione made their way out of the house towards the fields where the Weasley's usually played quidditch. Hermione was very quiet, she was wondering whether she could find the courage to tell Ron now. The red-haired girl sensed that her friend might be thinking about that very thing.

"Do you want me to go for a walk with Harry so you can talk to Ron alone?"

"Why did Ron have to ask me to marry him?" Hermione suddenly said in a tired almost pleading voice. "Why couldn't he just have gone off me, and we drifted naturally to a nice solid, completely platonic relationship? No marriage proposals. No making me feel like the wicked witch in some bad fairytale. Arrrggghhhh!"

"Well, he wouldn't be Ron if he didn't make other people's lives awkward," Ginny stated with a slight smirk. Hermione had to grin too.

"OK, I'll do it, after dinner tonight, when it's easier to go off for a walk with him. If things go badly I can disappear or at least have the night to reassess things in the morning."