I got the idea for this when I came across some of Kelsey's work [the link to which you can find on my profile] and the fifth section of this is actually based on one of her headcanons [#72 if you keep track on her blog].
I'm never impressed with my own work, but I had to get this out. For some reason, I just couldn't find sleep until I did.
I reply to all reviews, as well :]
Disclaimer: If I owned the rights, there would have been a lot more Ron/ Hermione interactions.
It's been ten years and I've got my new set of scars
From broken hearts and broken arms, from chasing after where you are
I've cried a couple tears, been taking everything too far
Running around in the dark, trying to finish what I couldn't start
Suddenly they're at Shell Cottage, the weight of the last few hours causing her to collapse right there in the sand and she's slightly shocked to still feel the warmth of another body by her side, easing her down with everything but grace. One hand remains clutched to his chest while the other lies limp in her lap, aching and sore and caked with her filthy blood. She wants to show him her battle wound so her tense form can relax at the sound of his voice coaxing away the insecurities that she'll never reveal, but then Harry is begging for help and there's a still figure in his arms and shaky breaths coming from his struggling lungs and her problems don't seem so important any more.
Out of fear for the tiny creature's life and partially to comfort her, Ron gives a light squeeze to her injured arm and silently berates himself for not being more careful with her when she gives out a hiss of discomfort at the pressure. She can feel his eyes on her, attempting to find answers for what injury she had sustained, but she ignores him as she focuses on the scene playing out in front of her.
And then Luna is there and she's closing Dobby's eyes and she forgets about the pain in her arm, in her chest, in her entire being.
She's vibrating from shock (whether it be from the events at the Malfoy Manor or the scene she just witnessed or a combination of both, she cannot tell) and it takes Ron shouting her name a few times to realize that she's sitting on a couch with a damp hand cloth wrapped around her forearm.
"'Mione," he's saying, but his voice sounds so far away. "Hermione!"
She can see him visibly relax when her eyes begin to focus on his and wonders why on earth he's taken to shouting her name.
"I'm right here, Ronald," she drones, her voice eerily monotone. "There's no need to shout."
He glances back down at her arm and it's then that she becomes conscious of the fact that her other hand is holding the now red stained towel in place, refusing to let him take it off in order to clean the wound.
She's now all too aware of her situation and her dreary attitude soon turns frantic. "I-" she begins, but can't seem to find any words to follow. She doesn't want him to see it; will do everything in her power to keep it from him for fear that he'll never look at her the same. So she scrambles to her feet and trips over the coffee table in her escape to the bathroom. Ron tries to follow, but is greeted by a slammed door in his face.
He thinks he should be shocked when he hears whimpers but no actual sobs and he wonders but doesn't really think he can stomach the confirmation of what happened in that manor. "Hermione," he tries.
Her response baffles him with it's light air. "I'm fine," and her tone gives off the impression that she wasn't just tortured moments ago, but rather tripped and possibly just scraped her knee.
He ignores her comment and instead puts his back to the door and slowly slides down it until he reaches the floor. It takes her a few seconds to comprehend what he's saying to her, but she soon realizes that he's half humming, half mumbling the words to a song she does not recognize. He doesn't think that words alone will soothe the ache of whatever happened to her, but he wants to believe that if she knows she's not alone, she'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured. Despite her anguish, she can feel her lips tugging into a sad excuse for a grin.
Years later, that song would be the one they danced to at their wedding.
A week or so later, she finds a dry patch of sand and sits, doing her best to focus on the crash of the waves instead of the itch on her left forearm. It's almost a full scab now and she thought that the emotional scars had faded. But then she'd been informed that she'd have to take the form of the very person who's relentless torment had nearly driven her mad those first two days after arriving here and the scars manifested once again.
But as she traces the markings with her fingertips, she begins to realize that maybe being Bellatrix Lestrange won't be all that bad. She'll be the reason they get the next horcrux; she'll not have to fear the Death Eaters for once in her life; but most importantly, she'll be without the harsh wound for a short while and won't have to worry about hiding it from those closest to her.
"Hey." And she pulls down her sleeve, praying to whatever deity she's not sure she believes in any more that he hasn't seen. "How's your arm?" He hasn't, but she wonders how oblivious Ron really is. She thinks he knows, that he's just playing along with her because it's what she wants; that he'll wait until she's ready to tell him herself.
Hermione inhales a deep breath before relaxing as he sits down next to her. "It's fine."
But he's never been one for patience. "Can I see it?"
So she plays dumb. "See what?"
"I take it we're still avoiding it, then?" He doesn't look at her, just takes in the surrounding view and she can see him following a seagull with his eyes.
She wants to tell him now as it appears to be the opportune moment with him being very close to asking all the right questions. But it isn't really. The opportune moment would be a time when they weren't all pretending to be strong for the sake of the other two. "Yeah," she says. "I think we are."
"Listen," he states with a small sigh, finally looking at her. "I don't pretend to know what the bloody hell happened that night and I'm not asking you to tell me now. Merlin knows I'm horrible with these things and I'd probably end up making you feel worse anyway."
Lies, she thinks because as bizarre as it is, he's one of the few who can effortlessly keep her grounded.
"But…I wish I could make te world a better place for you to wake up in. I want to make it better." He's horrible with words and wants to elaborate, but he knows he'll get everything he wishes to say all twisted around and when he's finished, he'll have said nothing that he originally wanted to. Besides, he doesn't think that words alone will soothe the ache of whatever happened to her, but he wants to believe that if she knows she's not alone, she'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured.
So he doesn't say any more than that, but he also doesn't show any signs that he's getting up to leave.
She refuses to make eye contact when she says, "You already have."
She'll remind him of this moment when they're old and confess that this was the moment she knew she never wanted to be without him.
The night the battle at Hogwarts is over, Hermione finds Ron on the steps leading into the castle they'll always consider home, because even though it's broken, it's still the place that led them to each other. He looks lost in thought and she contemplates retracing her steps, but then she stumbles over a fallen piece of debris and he's asking, "Don't leave."
He has yet to move except to hang his head in what she believes can be nothing short of exhaustion. Taking careful steps, she strolls towards him and as soon as she sits down, she doesn't hesitate to grab his hand in hers. The squeeze he gives reassures her that she's made the right decision, although she can't imagine why it would ever be a wrong one.
"Your family's been searching for you." But what she really wants to say is, 'I know the world never offers much when you ask for it nicely. I'll understand if you want to let it out. Your rage can have me. Nothing that comes between us can ever exhaust what I feel for you.'
She leans her head on his shoulder as he says, "I know. That's why I came out here." There's a short pause and she wants to ask him what's wrong, but she already knows, predicts that everyone does. "Where do you think he's gone? Fred?"
It's not what she'd been expecting so she's a little unprepared in her response. "I'd imagine he's somewhere carefree," she admits calmly, clutching his arm with the hand that isn't holding his shaking one. "Somewhere he can wreak as much havoc as he pleases and cause as much mischief as he wishes. It's light and cheerful and-"
He takes a deep breath, sniffs a little to keep the threatening tears at bay. "I don't understand. I mean, I do, but…And I knew that this could be a possibility when we started this. We all did, but now that it's actually happened…" She doesn't press his incomplete thoughts, just lets him go on for fear he'll not want to continue if she says anything. "I'm more worried for George than anyone else because they were…Mum probably hasn't stopped crying. I guess it's just weird to actually be able to process it now that everything's over."
"You're handling it much better than I imagine I ever could."
He looks at her, then, thoroughly bewildered because she's the strongest person he's ever met, though he doesn't think he'll ever be able to admit it properly. "You endured Bellatrix Lestrange, 'Mione. I really don't think there's anything you couldn't handle."
At the mention of the witch's name, he catches Hermione glancing at her arm and he's sure she's done it subconsciously because the next second she's trying to play it off by covering up a cough in the crook of her elbow.
"Stop doing that," he scolds her gently.
She knows she'll have to tell him sooner or later, but she fears that now is not the time; not after he just lost a brother. It's his time to grieve, not hers. "Ron…"
"I'm going to get it out of you sooner or later." It's not a threat, but rather a promise to take away whatever burden she'd been carrying. He doesn't think that words alone will soothe the ache of whatever happened to her, but he wants to believe that if she knows she's not alone, she'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured.
"I know," is all she says before she rests her head back against his shoulder.
Without thinking, he plants a kiss on the top of her head and she very much wishes that it could always be this easy.
With both silently grieving and simultaneously yearning to take away the others' pain, Ron thinks that for once in his life, he's quite content with the silence.
The only coherent thought she has at the moment is the desire to memorize the shape of his tongue and how the muscles in his back tense up when she scrapes her nails across it. It's the first time they've ever gotten this heated in a horizontal position and she wonders why they've waited so long. His anatomy astounds her and she wants nothing more than to count his ribs, his fingers, his goosebumps; to be fluent in his body language.
But it's only after he's discarded her shirt and her nearly bare chest meets his fully naked one once more that she realizes this is the first time her scar has been out in the open for him to see. She ignores it, though, hoping he won't take note of it because, honestly, what boy would in a fit of passion this heavy?
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook of the situation and your taste in men), he stops his assault on her lips and pauses for a brief moment before finding the crook of her neck and kissing it. Thinking he's distracted her, he takes the opportunity to reach for her arm and she freezes completely when he does.
He's relieved when she doesn't pull away, only allows him to bring it in front of him. Through the dark haze, he can see the puffed up scar tissue and immediately wishes he hadn't.
"'Mione," is all he can muster up. He wonders why she's blinking so much, but the glossy sheen in her eyes confirms that she's holding back tears. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" He maneuvers himself to the left of her so he's laying on his side, but she stays with her back pressed against the mattress.
Her voice is strong and he wishes that, for once, she'd let her guard down around him. "How could I?"
"Hermione, look at me." He assumes it will take more coaxing, but when she rolls on her side to face him, he wants nothing more than to smile because after months they're finally going to talk about it. "At the least, you could've shown me."
"So you could do what? I don't need your pity, Ron." Her face is contorted in anguish and she wants to hate him for what he's made her reveal. But she can't, won't, never could. She doesn't expect him to say much because he always fear he's terrible with words and anyway, he doesn't think that words alone will soothe the ache of whatever happened to her, but he wants to believe that if she knows she's not alone, she'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured. Regardless of what he thinks, it's always his words and his touch that ease her tense frame.
So without saying anything, he traces the marred skin with his ghostly touch and smirks slightly when he sees goosebumps arise around it. His affect is soft and alleviating and she can feel the resentment fading away.
But soon he stops. Her eyes dart to his own as she wonders what he's thinking; if he hates her for keeping it from him, if he's ashamed for what it reads.
When he presses his lips to her forearm, though, she realizes that, in his own Ronald Billius Weasley way, he's telling her that he'll accept her no matter what and nothing can ever exhaust what he feels for her.
A few years after they've married, Ron thinks the worst is behind them. Until he finds her at the kitchen table with a bottle of firewhiskey. She's only 24, but sitting there he realizes that some of her is older.
"Hey," he greets when he sits down next to her. "Want to tell me what all this is about?"
She sighs heavily, knowing he'll get it out of her eventually. He always does and she wonders how she ever let him bewitch her like that. She describes a scenario of a woman at work making a fuss about her scar and he makes the obvious connection that it triggered something she'd hidden within herself.
"You know, you're not gonna find the answers to your problems at the bottom of this bottle. I wish it were that simple, but…" He doesn't sound mad; never does when it involves anything having to do with her scar. She thinks he's the one person who knows how to slow her down when she feels like she's losing control.
"I didn't drink any," she tells him shyly.
He throws a welcoming smile her way and she loves how it's always lopsided, always slightly crooked. "It's alright. You don't have to justify yourself to me."
Later that night, she finds Ron asleep on the couch, hundreds of papers carpeting the floor with a handful resting on his chest. "What in Merlin's name…Ronald," she says, a hint of annoyance in her voice. She makes her way around the room, picking up the scattered papers and notices more books beneath them. "Ron!" she yells forcefully.
With that, he jolts upright successfully pulled from whatever little sleep he'd gotten. "Hmm?", he drones. "I'm up."
"Great," she deadpans, "now maybe you can tell me why the hell my living room looks like this."
He wants to be the hero for once; to save her in a way that nobody else can. "I was up all night."
"Doing what, may I ask?"
"Searching for a way to erase it."
He knows his words have had an impact on her, whether it's good or bad, he cannot tell, but she's suddenly stopped attempting to clean the room and is now looking at him with an expression he can't place. He thinks she looks hopeful and it's her face that keeps him hesitating to display his results. She's still silent, looking at him, eager for an answer she's not sure she wants to hear.
"I couldn't find one."
Both of their expressions falter and it is then that he kind of, sort of, maybe thinks he hates himself. He's not smart; he's not resourceful; and he's never been able to help her, not in the way he wants to. He has no role models for this kind of thing. He imagines that they're all in Azkaban.
"I'm sorry. I tried. But…there's nothing. I've been looking for years and all I keep coming back to is that stupid Poly Juice Potion." He's nervous now as he prepares for his next confession and wonders how on earth he'll be able to properly explain it to her. But he doesn't think that words alone will soothe the ache of whatever happened to her, but he wants to believe that if she knows she's not alone, she'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured.
So when he rolls up his sleeve to reveal the harsh cuts he'd carved himself, he's not surprised to hear her let out a tiny gasp at the word he's presented.
"Oh, Ron. I'm so sorry."
Before he can justify himself, she's throwing herself at him, clutching desperately to his shirt with shaking hands. He doesn't hesitate to pull her closer, fire igniting where her tears fall to his neck. Maybe she never needed saving, he thinks to himself. Maybe she's always been her own hero. But he hushes her murmured apologies and inwardly curses the life that made her think she had to protect him when really he was supposed to be able to do that for both of them.
And then she's kissing him and their hands are charting the topography of the skin they've already long since memorized. In this moment, her body only exists where he's touched her. The rest of her is smoke.
Rose is nine years old when she sees the etching on her dad's arm after he's tucked her in for the night. True to the curiosity that all children seem to yield, she asks her daddy where he got it from, why it's there.
He knew they'd ask sooner or later, but the look he gives Hermione informs her that he's not yet come up with a decent enough response. And she fears that she hasn't either.
"They're battle wounds," Hermione fills in.
"Who were you battling?" their son, Hugo, asks next.
Hermione knows her answer, but wonders who or what Ron will give as a reply. Your mother's demons, she supposes and for a brief second she's transported back to a night where her sleep was plagued with memories of that dreaded Manor and Ron urged her to wake up and she fought him in his attempt to calm her and she thought she'd been close to losing it, but eventually she got it back because she'd known that's what Ron had wanted her to do.
The married couple share a somewhat agonized glance and it doesn't go unnoticed by their children. They seem to know that words alone will not soothe the ache of whatever happened to their parents, but they want to believe that if they know they're not alone, they'll feel a little less scared; a little less sorrow; a little less tortured.
"It's okay. It's over now, right?" It's Rose again and she's looking from Ron to Hermione and back again, a fearful look in her eyes; a fear that says 'I need you to be okay' rather than 'I'm scared that whatever got you will get me.'
Hermione smiles. "Yes. It was over years before you were ever born."
"You can ask your Uncle Harry about that one next time you see him," Ron jokes.
And with that, they say their goodnights and Ron and Hermione make their way back to their bedroom.
They're not as sad as they let themselves believe sometimes and it's common, now, for them to go weeks without noticing or thinking of the brands each of them carry. She knows he's never been one for words, but the one he engraved into his arm speaks volumes. She wants him to know that it's okay if he gets quiet; that it's okay if he gets wrapped up in moments, if he ties knots around the words he doesn't have the courage to say.
Respectively, he's always wanted to tell her that it's okay if her mind wanders to far off places with the mention of something simple; that it's okay if she gets wrapped up in moments, if she still has a hard time being honest about the past.
In the end, it comes down to the person capable of calming your mind when it's threatening to explode, the one who remembers to hydrate your cells when all the salt and water have escaped via your tear ducts, the one who wraps their arms around the ribcage that protects a heart and lungs which move much too rapidly to sustain themselves.
This is not how she ever thought her life would go and sometimes she fears that she'll never find her way out of whatever new darkness has consumed her. But there's no one else she'd rather be lost with than him because he had stayed with her. They were both stronger than depression and braver than loneliness and nothing that came between them could ever exhaust what they felt for each other.