A/N: Back in early 2007, I wrote a story called "Revelation," still available on my HPFF page under "Anony_Mouse." In that story, Harry overhears a conversation between Ron and Hermione where they finally get together. The story was not pure Romione, but more of a trio fic; even when getting together, Ron and Hermione's first thought was how Harry would react to the change in their relationship.
The idea of updating that fic has been in my mind for a long time. It wasn't until I saw Deathly Hallows: Part 2 that I finally became inspired to get to work. When my friend and I came out of the movie theatre my second time seeing it, we got into a conversation about how the trio's friendship would change once Ron and Hermione began dating. While undoubtedly Harry is ecstatic that his friends have finally gotten their acts together, there would be some growing pains as well, with Ron and Hermione spending more time with each other, and Harry beginning to open up more to Ginny. I even felt that this was apparent in the final scene of DH2 before the epilogue; though all three of them clasp hands, it is Ron's and Hermione's hands who the camera focuses on, reminding us that there is love between two members of the trio.
This fic, obviously, isn't really an update of "Revelation"-it's a completely different story and completely Deathly Hallows compliant-but many of the same themes are explored. The sad thing about friendship is that as we grow up, they do change, and we can never truly return to the carefree days of our childhood. I hope my colossal oneshot (nearly 6,000 words!) does this theme justice.
Disclaimer: All characters and rights belong to the great J.K. Rowling. Ron's quote from Half-Blood Prince, quoted in this story, is J.K. Rowling's property and hers alone.
Harry Potter stared at the tiny baby lying in his sister-in-law's arms. The baby stretched, then blinked up at her mother. Ron, who was standing next to the hospital bed, watched with wide eyes.
"Blimey, Hermione," he said. "I can't believe that's our kid."
"Well, what did you expect, Ron?" Hermione teased him. "Was I supposed to give birth to a baby hippogriff instead?"
Ron grinned. "No. But she's been in your stomach for nine months, and now she's here. I just can't believe she's ours, you know what I mean?"
Hermione responded by gently placing her daughter into Ron's arms. Ron stared at his daughter, overcome by emotion. "Hi, Rosie," he said softly. "It's me. Your dad." He shook his head and swallowed hard. His eyes were bright when he turned back to Hermione. "She's beautiful, isn't she?"
Ginny squeezed Harry's hand. He squeezed back, remembering the day James had been born.
Molly Weasley burst into the room, followed by Arthur and Hermione's parents. Though both Molly and Jean had been there when Rose had been born (the task had been too much for Ron to handle by himself), Molly's face lit up at the sight of her newest granddaughter. Her face crumpled when she saw who was holding him.
"Oh, Ron! My baby boy…holding his own baby…"
Ron's ears turned red. "Mum. You promised you wouldn't cry. You've been through this before, remember? Bill…Percy…George…even Ginny…" He motioned to his sister's protruding stomach.
"Exactly," Molly said. "Unless Charlie finds himself a nice girl, you're the last of my children to become a father."
She turned towards Harry and Ginny. "Do you mind if you hurry up in here? I don't mean to rush you, but the others are eager to meet Rose, and the healer doesn't want too many people coming in at once."
"No problem," said Harry. "We can leave right now."
"But you two haven't even held Rose yet!" Hermione exclaimed, tearing away her gaze from Ron and Rose.
"We'll be back as soon as the others are done," Ginny promised. She kissed her new niece on the forehead and smiled warmly at Hermione and her brother, before making her way out the door.
"Congratulations, both of you," Harry said, his voice husky with emotion. Hermione and Ron gave him only a brief smile, before returning their focus to baby Rose.
Upon meeting Ginny in the maternity ward waiting room, Harry was nearly trampled by the cluster of Weasleys, eager to hear about the new baby. All of them were speaking at once. Ginny, always skilled at handling her brothers, glared at them.
"Be quiet, all of you! They can hear you across the hall. This happens to be a very special moment for Ron and Hermione, and I won't have you ruining it for them with your noise."
"Careful there, Ginny," said George, smirking at her. "You shouldn't overexert yourself. After all, you don't want to pop before you're ready."
Ginny scowled at him. "Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm an invalid. In case you don't remember, I happen to be very skilled at the Bat-Bogey Hex, and I'm not afraid to use it."
Harry laughed at the expression on George's face. The two sat down, ignoring the disapproving look Percy was giving them.
Slowly, the others disappeared into the hospital room: Bill, Fleur, and Charlie; Percy and Audrey; and George and Angelina. Arthur kept flitting in and out, looking every bit the proud granddad.
It was when George and Angelina were visiting the room that Ginny and Harry found themselves alone. Bill, Fleur, Percy, and Audrey had gone home to pick up their children from Andromeda's, and Charlie, who was staying at Shell Cottage, had gone with them. Hermione's parents had left, and Molly and Arthur were saying their final goodbyes to the new family.
Ginny touched Harry on the shoulder, interrupting him from his thoughts. All traces of annoyance were gone from her face, and her gaze was soft and tender. "It's strange, isn't it?" she said quietly. "Ron and Hermione with a baby?"
"I reckon they felt the same way with us," Harry said, remembering how stunned Ron had been at James' birth. He had certainly broken his record for saying "Bloody hell" that day.
Ginny nodded thoughtfully. "I know it's awfully hypocritical since I get frustrated when Ron still treats me like a little kid, but I guess in some ways, I still see him as one, too. It's strange to think that the same little boy who cried when Fred and George turned his teddy bear into a spider is now starting a family of his own."
"I know what you mean," Harry said. "Half the time, I still see Ron as the First Year who sent Hermione crying to the girls' bathroom. I would have loved to have seen what his reaction would have been if someone had told him that Hermione was the girl he'd marry."
Ginny laughed. "They were so daft, the two of them. Remember the look on Ron's face when you and he still didn't have dates to the Yule Ball, and he realized Hermione was a girl? I don't think I've ever seen him more gobsmacked."
"You weren't there when they first kissed, then," Harry said. "For about an entire twenty minutes afterwards, he went around looking like he'd been hit by a giant bludger. It wasn't until Crabbe cast that fire that he finally snapped out of it."
Ginny shook her head. "I can only imagine. You know, it still took me a few days to even find out that they were dating. I mean, we were all pretty preoccupied, what with everything going on afterwards, but I still should have noticed the way Hermione blushed whenever anyone mentioned Ron. They thought they were being so good about hiding their feelings, but they were so obvious, really."
"You should talk," Harry said, grinning. "I seem to remember a certain Valentine that I received my Second Year."
"Oh, hush you," said Ginny. "Like you were much better, with the way you practically mauled me after we won the Quidditch Cup. People still talk about that to this day."
"Well, at any rate, at least we were more proactive than they were," said Harry, placing a protective hand on Ginny's stomach. "I don't even want to think about how long things would have gone on if Ron hadn't mentioned those house elves."
Angelina and George emerged then, both of their faces alit with wonder. "Blimey, she's a tiny thing, isn't she?" said George. "I would have thought that with Ron as her dad, she'd be bigger, but I guess not. Not that there's any doubt of her paternity. Unless Hermione's been messing around with some other red haired bloke, than that is definitely Ron's kid."
Angelina rolled her eyes at her husband. "Ron and Hermione want you to go back in," she told them. "Arthur and Molly are just finishing up, and then it'll be just you four-and Rose, of course."
"What do you say?" said Ginny, turning towards Harry. "Do you want to properly hold our goddaughter?"
Harry nodded. "Lead the way."
He had been twelve-years-old the first time he realized that Ron's friendship with Hermione was different from his own. Though Harry had been upset after Hermione got petrified, Ron took it harder. He tried to crack jokes and even mentioned how upset Hermione would be that she had gotten so behind on her schoolwork, but he wasn't the same Ron. Instead, he was a shell of the carefree boy he had once been.
Things continued to change. The next year, Ron and Hermione had that horrible fight over Crookshanks and Scabbers, and Harry had observed how angry they both were-much angrier than they had been during any fight before. But when Ron offered to help Hermione with the Buckbeak trial, her whole face lit up, and she hugged Ron harder than she had ever hugged Harry.
Fourth year, of course, was when things really changed. Harry had been oblivious to the way Hermione had filled out during the summer, but Ron was different. Several times, Harry had caught Ron staring at Hermione across the Common Room. While it hadn't been until right before Ron asked Hermione to the Yule Ball that Ron had realized Hermione was a girl, Harry felt certain his friend had noticed earlier. He just hadn't put the two conflicting sides of Hermione-the Hermione who was his friend, and the Hermione who he stared at–together.
Harry had taken his temper out a lot on Ron and Hermione during fifth year. In retrospect, he realized how worried he had been about losing them. He had always sensed how special Ron and Hermione's relationship was, and he didn't want to be left out of it. As someone who had lost both of his parents, he feared loss more than more people. His mixed feelings about the prospect of Ron and Hermione beginning a relationship continued throughout Sixth Year.
It wasn't until after the war, however, that Harry's fears were first realized. On that humid day on July, Harry had visited Andromeda and Teddy. The little baby had been excited to see his godfather and had even turned his hair black to match Harry's own. The knowledge that Teddy was doing so well, despite the tragedy he had already faced in his young life, put Harry at ease.
His good mood evaporated when he returned. Both Ron and Hermione were waiting in the sitting room of the Burrow, seated at opposite sides of the couch. This small act put Harry on alert. Ron and Hermione were nowhere as public about their relationship as Ron and Lavender, but they still always sat close together, whether snogging or not. The way Ron was twiddling his thumbs and Hermione kept running her fingers through her hair only confirmed his suspicions.
"How are Andromeda and Teddy?" Hermione asked.
"They're all right," Harry said, glancing them over. They both straightened under his gaze. "But never mind that. What's up with you two?"
"What d'you mean, 'what's up with us?'" Ron said, too quickly. Hermione sent him a look, and he fell silent.
"Actually, Harry, there is something we want to talk to you about," Hermione said, placing a hand on his arm. "You know how my parents are in Australia?"
The realization hit Harry at once. He had been so preoccupied with everything else happening that Hermione's parents had escaped his mind. Clearly, he had been a bad friend. "You want to go find them," he said. "Hermione, I'm so sorry I never asked you how you were doing. Of course Ron and I will come with you."
But Hermione and Ron were shaking their heads. Hermione once again placed a reassuring hand on his arm. "Harry," she said quietly, "that's the thing. Ron and I already discussed it, and we talked to Kingsley, who's sending us an international portkey, and…well, we're going. Just the two of us."
It was as though a very cold drink had been poured over Harry's head. For so long, it had been the three of them, and now it was just Ron and Hermione, alone. But before he had a chance to register this new information, Ron began talking.
"I'm sorry, mate," he said, looking very apologetic. "But, well, Hermione and I know you have a lot going on, and we didn't want to stress you further. Hermione reckons she already has a good idea of where they are, so it's not like we'll be gone for long."
"We were going to ask you to come, but then you told us how you were babysitting Teddy next week," Hermione added. "We both agreed that Teddy needs you more than we do. Plus, there's Ginny, and you don't want to leave her, do you?" Hermione gave him a meaningful look.
Harry's mind was spinning. "It's fine," he said, trying to keep his emotions at bay. "I understand. You won't be gone long, and you want some time alone. It's no problem, really." He forced a grin. "Probably best that you finally properly meet Hermione's parents, right, mate?"
Ron hesitated. "Well, yeah. But-"
"We love you, Harry," said Hermione firmly. "And we're sorry if we haven't spent as much time with you lately; we're quite aware that that's something we need to work on. But we'll be back soon, and then we'll have a whole month before Ginny and I leave for Hogwarts. Nothing's going to change, not really."
Harry didn't even have to think about these last words to know they weren't true. Things had already changed so much in the last month. Voldemort was dead, and he and his Death Eaters had brought down so many people with them. Harry wasn't returning to Hogwarts again, and he, Ron, and Hermione had such different paths ahead of them: Ron was going to help George with the shop before entering auror training, Hermione was going back to Hogwarts, and Harry was going to take some time to himself, before achieving his own dream of becoming an auror.
Glancing at his two best friends, Harry felt a lump rising in his throat. They were trying. And they deserved the happiness of being together, after so many pitfalls had kept them apart. Plus, Hermione was right; he really did want to spend some more time with Ginny. Perhaps this was really for the greater good.
"You'll make sure to send an owl to me?" he said, searching out their faces.
Both of them brightened in relief. "Of course we will, mate," Ron said. He gave Harry a stern look. "You promise you'll be good to my sister?"
"As long as you take after my sister," Harry said, motioning towards Hermione. She shook her head at them, and Harry and Ron grinned.
And everything felt normal, at least for that moment.
When Ron and Hermione returned, flushed faced and dressed in casual muggle clothing, Harry had expected them to be bursting with stories about their trip.
His assumption was true, for the most part. They told Harry and Ginny all about Australia-it was winter there, a fact Ron had not been able to get his mind around-and Hermione admitted just how relieved she was that her parents were safe. But when Ginny asked if they had had a good time, they both flushed and had trouble answering her. Neither Harry nor Ginny pressed for details.
A week later, Harry went down for breakfast to find Ron trying to calm Hermione down. Hermione's eyes were cast into dangerous slits, and she appeared to be ignoring Ron entirely. "I'm going to kill whoever wrote this," she fumed. "She had no business sneaking into our private business, and I can't believe our friends agreed to talk to her."
"What's going on?" Harry asked. Hermione scowled and thrust him the Daily Prophet. A big, bolded headline caught his attention.
"FRIENDS OF POTTER FIND LOVE"
While the Chosen One was destroying He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his two sidekicks were preoccupied with each other
By Aurelia Middleton
Their names are Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, and they are the best friends of Harry Potter. In First Year, they helped Harry Potter protect the legendary Philosopher's Stone before it fell into the wrong hands; in Fifth Year, they broke into the Department of Mysteries. When Harry left on a special quest Dumbledore had given him, his two best friends naturally accompanied him.
Though Hermione and Ron are famous for their support of the Boy Who Lived, most do not know the true nature of Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger's relationship. I myself was shocked when I discovered that Miss Granger and Mr. Potter were not an item, as was often speculated by tabloids in the past. Instead, the true romance was between Hermione and Ron.
"Anyone who knows Ron and Hermione knows that they are meant for each other," said Neville Longbottom, another young hero in the war and a classmate of the Golden Trio's. "They've had their ups and downs, and they've argued quite a bit, but they care for each other quite a lot, really. It's always been obvious that they were going to get together someday."
Both Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley come from extraordinarily different worlds. Ronald Bilius Weasley was born to into a muggle-sympathizing, pureblood family, where his father, Arthur Weasley, worked at the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office (he was later promoted to the Head of the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects in 1996). Hermione Granger was born to two muggles and presumably did not know she was a witch until she received her Hogwarts letter.
Harry and Ron met Hermione at Hogwarts, where all three of them were sorted into Gryffindor. Still, it does not appear to have been a case of "love at first sight." "I don't think Ron liked Hermione at first," said Seamus Finnigan, another classmate of the Trio's and a fellow Gryffindor. "None of us did, really. She was a know-it-all at times and quite bossy, but that was mostly because she was so smart. She ended up growing on all of us. She's a great person, Hermione."
Though details of how the Trio became friends are unclear (rumors state that a Mountain Troll was involved), it is clear that the three developed a great friendship, and Ron and Harry's dislike of Hermione became a thing of the past. In their second year, the two boys even saved Hermione and the other Hogwarts muggleborns by tracking down the heir of Salazar Slytherin.
But as adolescence hit, Ron and Hermione's friendship grew rockier. During her Fourth Year, Hermione attended the Yule Ball with the Bulgarian Quidditch star, Viktor Krum, a fact that seems to have infuriated Ron. Seamus Finnigan recalls finding a destroyed action figure of Krum in his dormitory. "It was no small feat, Ron destroying that figure," Mr. Finnigan was quick to point out. "He idolized him; we had all seen Krum in the Quidditch World Cup, and Ron wouldn't stop talking about him all of first semester. I reckon seeing his girl go to the ball with his hero was what made Ron break." In fact, Padma Patil, the girl Ron took to the ball, recalled that during the ball, "He couldn't keep his eyes off of [Hermione]." Likely, Miss Patil is still disappointed that the future war hero did not pay her more attention.
I was unable to arrange an interview with Mr. Potter, the only one who knew for sure just what had transpired between Ron and Hermione during their time in hiding (both Ron and Hermione were out of the country and thus unavailable for an interview). However, by piecing together several quotes, their attraction seems clear. Even Viktor Krum seems resigned to their relationship: "She always loved him. I did not have any chance. It took me a while to realize it, but it was always [Ron]. He was the one she chose."
I last spotted Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley holding hands during a trip to Diagon Alley. Clearly, the two had admitted their feelings for each other-which, according to their classmates, they had never done at school-and were quite in synch with each other. Ron was smiling at her, and Hermione was laughing at something he had said. Looking at them, I found it difficult to fathom that this was the same Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger I had heard so much about. They looked more like two ordinarily teenagers than the young witch and wizard who had helped defeat the darkest wizard of our time.
Ron and Hermione have different paths ahead of them. Miss Granger will be returning to Hogwarts to take her N.E., and Mr. Weasley, whose brother Fred was a casualty of the war, will be helping Fred's twin, George, reopen their joke shop. Mr. Longbottom suspects Ron will also join an auror training program in the future.
It is unknown whether they will last. Both Ron and Hermione are extremely young, and whether or not their relationship will survive the distance remains to be seen. However, no matter what the consequences, Ron and Hermione remind us that love can flourish even in the direst circumstances.
Harry looked up. The article had unnerved him, but he tried not to show it. "It's not too bad. I mean, it's a bit personal for my liking, but at least she didn't pull a Skeeter."
"'It's not too bad?'" Hermione shrieked. "What's bad is that everyone we meet is going to be all over Ron and me, and we won't have a minute of peace!"
"I don't care, honestly-" Ron said, but Hermione turned on him.
"You're just happy to finally have an article about you! I'm sure after the way Skeeter wrote about Harry and me and Viktor, you're only too happy to have people finally know the truth."
"That's not it at all!" Ron said. But instead of arguing, as Harry had expected, Hermione startled them by bursting into tears.
Ron wrapped Hermione into his arms immediately. She buried her face in his shoulder and hugged him tight, tears still running down her cheeks. "I'm so s-sorry, Ron, but that article really got me w-worried. I'm not just angry at N-Neville and S-Seamus and V-Viktor and P-Padma, but what if she's r-right? What if the d-distance does d-drive us apart, and this w-was all the t-time w-we h-had t-together?"
Ron cupped Hermione's chin and tilted it up so she was looking at him. "That bloody reporter doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. She might have gotten some quotes from Seamus and Neville, but she doesn't know the ins and outs of our relationship. No one does, except for us." Harry had never heard Ron sound so mature before. "We've been through a whole war together, and I won't let a thing like distance pull us apart. I love you too much."
By the way Hermione's eyes widened, Harry had the suspicion this was the first time either of them had said those three words. He suddenly felt far more awkward and embarrassed than he had when they'd first kissed.
"You mean that?" Hermione said softly, searching his eyes. "You're not just saying it?"
"Hermione Granger, I have loved you since before I was ready to admit it to myself," Ron said firmly. Hermione flung her arms around his neck and hugged him, tight.
"I know you too, you prat," she whispered, her eyes still glazed with tears. Ron kissed her, and she enthusiastically kissed him back. Harry tiptoed away, so that the two could have their privacy.
When he entered Ginny's room, he found her brushing her hair. "What's up?" she asked. The expression on his face must have given him away, because she groaned. "Oh, I knew something would happen like this! If only Mum hadn't left to bring breakfast to Teddy and Andromeda. They're always worse when it's just the four of us."
"It's all right," Harry said. Somehow, he felt as though he would be betraying Ron and Hermione by sharing the intimacy of the scene he had just witnessed. "Hermione just read an article in the Daily Prophet about her and Ron, and…anyway. I was thinking maybe we could leave them alone."
"Leave them alone so that they have some time to themselves or so that we can?" said Ginny, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
Harry laughed. "Both. Do you maybe fancy a game of one-on-one Quidditch?"
She grinned. "You're on."
Back in the present, Harry considered again how his friendship with Ron and Hermione had changed over the years. Things were, of course, better than they had been. The three had developed a rhythm together, and Ginny was included so that their threesome became a foursome. Ron and Hermione served as the Best Man and Maid of Honor at Ginny's and his wedding; a year later, Harry was the Best Man and Ginny the Matron of Honor for Ron and Hermione's. He and Ginny had even dubbed Ron and Hermione as James' godparents, and now they were the godparents of Rose.
Still, he sometimes missed the days when it had been he, Ron, and Hermione against the world. He loved Ginny and wouldn't change his life with her and James for anything in the world, but he often missed the simplicity of life as a First Year. They had been so innocent then. It was sad to realize that their friendship could never be the same as it had once been. Once-upon-a-time, they had shared everything, but now, they turned to their spouses instead. He rarely heard anything firsthand anymore.
Molly and Arthur met them at the door. "Hermione is very tired, so I wouldn't keep them for long," she told them. She studied Ginny closer. "Speaking of which, I would get home if I were you. James need to be picked up, and you owe it yourself, as well as the new baby, to get a good night's rest."
"Mum, I'm fine!" Ginny protested. "I promised Ron and Hermione I would see them again, and I still haven't gotten the chance to hold Rose." She turned to Harry. "Harry, tell her I'm all right."
Harry hesitated. "Ginny, I hate to say it, but I think your mum's right. We probably shouldn't stay too long."
Ginny's shoulders slumped. "Fine," she huffed. "We'll go. But I am holding Rose. You can't stop me from doing that."
"Believe me," he said wryly, "I wouldn't try to."
"Harry, just because Ginny is leaving early doesn't mean you have to," Molly said. "Arthur and I can take Ginny home, and you can have a few extra minutes with Hermione and Ron. Just as long as you don't stay too long; labour is exhausting, and Hermione really does need her rest."
"But won't they want a few minutes by themselves?" Harry asked.
"Oh, nonsense," said Ginny. "Ron and Hermione will want you there, and as jealous as I am that Mum isn't forcing you home, I think you should stay, too. Besides, they have a whole life full of alone time with Rose."
"Fair enough," said Harry. Molly and Arthur waited outside the door, while Harry and Ginny went inside.
Once again, Hermione was holding baby Rose while Ron looked on proudly. Molly had not been exaggerating about Hermione's exhaustion; she looked ready to drop at any moment. But she perked up when she noticed Harry and Ginny and smiled at them.
"I was so worried you wouldn't come back," she told them.
"Well, unfortunately, I can't stay for long," Ginny said. "Mum is insisting that I get to bed; you'd think after having seven of us, you would have realized that being pregnant doesn't mean you're weak. But Harry will be here longer, so you'll have company, at least."
"Well, you'll just have to hold Rose before you go," Hermione said. She placed Rose in Ginny's arms, and Ginny rocked her gently.
"Hi, Rosie," she said softly. "I'm your brother's sister. Auntie Ginny." She turned towards Harry. "What are the odds that the healer did the spell wrong, and I'm really having a girl?" She loved James, but after a lifetime of being the only girl, Harry could not blame Ginny for wanting a daughter.
"Not likely," said Harry. "We'll just have to hope with the next one."
Ron's choking sound let them know that he did not approve of this idea.
Someone cleared their throat, and they turned around to see Molly standing in the doorway. "Ginny," she said warningly. Ginny sighed.
"Honestly, sometimes I think she forgets I'm not a baby," she said to Rose. "You'll have to mind her when you're older. Bit overprotective, your gran is." She shook her head at Ron. "How fair is it that you have a girl before I do?"
"Guess my shooters are more powerful than Harry's," Ron said with a cocky grin. Ginny made a face.
"Don't stay out too long," she said to Harry. "I know James misses you."
"I won't," Harry said. Ginny kissed Rose on the forehead, before handing her back to Ron. She disappeared with her mother.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, it was Harry, Ron, and Hermione alone. Well, and Rose, of course. Both mother and daughter were struggling to keep their eyes open, but Hermione was smiling.
"You want to hold her, mate?" Ron said. Harry nodded.
Harry's heart fluttered when Ron placed Rose into his arms. She was, as George, had said, a tiny thing; James had been two pounds heavier. Still, her size enhanced her delicate features. She looked more like a porcelain doll than a real baby.
"That's your godfather, Uncle Harry," Ron told Rose. "You're a lucky thing, you know. Not everyone has the Chosen One as a godfather. People will be right jealous of you and Teddy when they find out." He frowned. "Hey-do you think that makes Rose and Teddy godsiblings? Or would it be James and Rose?"
"I highly doubt such a thing exists," Hermione said. She smiled at Harry. "I think she likes you already. She's much more alert than she was with Percy and George."
"Well, I am the Chosen One," Harry said. They all laughed.
He took another look at baby Rose. A small tuft of hair was growing in, precisely Ron's colour. Though her features were too small for him to properly distinguish, he swore he saw a hint of Hermione in Rose's nose. He wondered if she would inherit Hermione's bushy hair, too.
It was strange for him to be holding the daughter of his two closest friends'. Strange to think of his best friends as parents, after knowing them since age eleven. Strange to think that their love-a love that he himself had watched develop-had created the same creature that he was holding in his arms.
"She's beautiful," Harry told them, his voice catching. They both glowed.
Hermione cleared her throat. Her brown eyes were bright despite her exhaustion. "Harry, Ron and I have been talking, and we wanted to thank you for everything you've done for us. We're both so glad that you're going to a part of Rose's life."
Harry frowned at Hermione. Though touched by her words, he could not understand where they were coming from. "You're welcome. I'm glad, too. But…" He glanced at both of them, silently asking where this unexpected compliment was coming from.
It was Ron who spoke. He removed his gaze from baby Rose and looked Harry straight in the eye. "You're our best friend, mate. And if it weren't for you, I think there's a good possibility Rosie wouldn't be here."
"I highly doubt that's true," Harry said, uncomfortable with where this conversation was going. "You would have noticed she was a girl, eventually."
"I think Ron is right," Hermione said, just as firmly. "You have no idea how much you mean to us."
As he looked at his two best friends, they seemed to transform before his eyes. Ron's face became smaller and rounder, and Hermione wore the haughty expression so typical of her youth. Arms crossed, she asked Harry and Ron why they didn't read, unable to fathom that not everyone knew about the philosopher's stone.
They changed again. This time, both of their faces were thinner and longer, and they were dressed up in clothes so different from their school robes. Hermione wore floaty robes of periwinkle blue; Ron's sleeves were frayed from where there had once been lace. Both were glaring at each other. Hermione told Ron that the next time there was a ball, she shouldn't ask him as a last resort; Ron stared at her like a goldfish out of water.
They transformed a final time. Despite the two-year age difference, Ron and Hermione now looked far older; their eyes were dull and serious, and they wore dark colours in honour of the funeral they were attending. "We're with you whatever happens," Ron told Harry. Hermione's eyes were fierce in agreement.
As they morphed back into the adults that Harry now knew, he considered seventeen-year-old Ron's words. They had been with him no matter what happened. In a manner of speaking, they were still here. Yes, things had changed-he had Ginny now, and Ron and Hermione relied more on each other-but the most important things hadn't. They were still best friends.
Looking at baby Rose, now asleep in his arms, Harry made a promise to himself. When they grew older, he would tell James, Rose, Teddy, and his other son everything. If there was one hope he had for his sons, niece, and godson, it was that they would someday find friends as good as Ron and Hermione. Perhaps Rose and his new son would have that same friendship as their parents had; perhaps James and Fred II would take after their namesakes and join each other in mischief making. Either way, he hoped they all found that special friendship with someone.
After all, as Dumbledore had said, love really was the strongest power of all.
He smiled at Ron and Hermione, tears now blurring his eyes. Hands clasped, Ron and Hermione were crying, too. While neither had communicated why they were crying, no curiosity lingered between them. All of three possessed the gift of communicating without words.
"You're important to me too, you know," Harry said, swallowing his emotion so that he could speak. He held out baby Rose, and Ron gently lifted her from his arms.
"We know, mate," said Ron, his own voice choked with emotion. "We know."
He handed Rosie back to her mother. The three of them were silent for a moment, all watching as the now sleeping baby stretched in her sleep.
"It's still hard to grasp my mind around, sometimes," Harry said, attempting to add some humour into the otherwise serious conversation. "The two of you, together."
Ron and Hermione turned towards each other. They shook their heads and smiled at each other. Ron nodded at his wife, and she glanced up at Harry. Her eyes were sparkling.
"No, Harry," she said softly. "The three of us."