Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Foreword: This is essentially an indirect sequel of "Curiosity Doesn't Kill the Kneazle". It was just a topic that I wanted to try writing after being inspired by some questions one of my younger siblings had asked me.

It's Too Late

by Romantic Silence

Ron hesitantly walked up the small steps of the small townhouse situated on Grimmauld Place. Though he was aware that Number Twelve no longer presented the dark allure of the seemingly malevolent Black Family home as it had been thoroughly remodeled and refurnished – he had helped put up the wallpaper – since his school days, the tall, intricately carved door still presented an intimidating mystique that could not be forgotten. Perhaps it was simply his imagination stemming from his hesitance to continue forward. Ron sighed; it was his fault that it had come to this. How many times had he made Hermione cry over the course of their two-year relationship? Too many if he knew that the routine was Hermione marching out of whatever place they were arguing in and heading to Harry's place.

To his surprise, the door opened despite his failure to make his presence known. The entrance was fully open and standing in front of him was Harry, his best mate. He did not change much from their time as young adults, the only difference was Harry opting to wear those muggle eyewear to replace the spectacles that was prevalent in his youth. What was it called again? Compacts? However, the absence of his eyeglasses now made his eyes all the more clear. Though he was several inches shorter than him, Harry's intense gaze made him underwhelming. Being under his friend's scrutiny made him all the more nervous of the task he set out to accomplish. He managed to avoid eye contact by staring at his mouth. Strange, it was already late evening and Harry had yet to shave.

"There are wards you know." Harry spoke, "It lets me know if someone is at the door."

That answered Ron's question at how he was able to know he was there before he knocked. Smiling uneasily at his raven-haired friend, Ron cleared his throat with a small cough before asking, "Um, mind if I come in Harry? You know, to talk to Hermione?"

Instead of the usual nod and leading Ron inside to where Hermione was – usually the study where the books were – Harry shook his head. He remained guarded at the entrance like a formidable dragon protecting his priceless treasure. If Ron had been more poetic, he would have agreed with the analogy of Hermione being likened to treasure. Harry's sudden opposition was genuinely surprising, catching him off-guard. He felt affronted, his infamous temper starting to emerge once again. Fortunately, as he glimpsed at Harry's stern face, he realized how foolish that would be and decided to at least ask what his reasons were for barring him of meeting with Hermione, "Why?"

"We need to talk – you and me – before you and Hermione gets to talk." Harry gestured for Ron to enter. He did and the door was closed behind him. Ron followed after Harry into the sitting room where the fire was already roaring as he walked in, "You really hurt Hermione this time. You know that right?" He settled into one of the armchairs closest to the fire and pointed to the chair opposite of him to sit.

Ron took Harry's offer and made himself comfortable. His mind recalled the memory that only occurred just a few hours before. His words had been scathing – far more than usual – and he knew that he had attacked Hermione's very integrity as a human being as opposed to the usual disagreements of their views. As the sea of guilt engulfed him, Ron managed to acknowledge Harry's question with a stiff nod, "Yeah. I really messed things up this time."

"I know this wasn't just out of the blue. Hermione only told me what happened today, but even I noticed the tension the two began to have after your two year anniversary last week." Ron scowled at how perceptive his friend had become since becoming an auror.

His discomfort grew even more palpable as the seconds ticked by with silence. He remembered vividly what had transpired that night exactly a week ago. However, he did not want to wave his dirty laundry in front of Harry's face. He stubbornly refused to answer, pleading with his cerulean eyes for Harry to simply allow him to talk to Hermione. However, Harry remained unmoved by his quiet cries and was firm of his decision. Harry narrowed his eyes and glared at his red headed best friend, "Ron, normally I don't want to get involved. You and Hermione have to settle things on your own after all. However, you called Hermione a whore, told her that you no longer plan to marry her, and to, and I quote, 'run back to whoever bloke you've been shagging with'. Please Ron, my patience is already at its limits and I want to know what exactly happened that made you suddenly want to shout all this during dinner with her parents."

What happened certainly warranted Harry's intervention. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Harry had a point. He would be one of the first to admit that out of all his siblings, he was the most susceptible to that Weasley temper of theirs. But there was no excuse for what he had said just hours ago. It had been eating at him for days, plaguing him insecurities insurmountable to overcome. It reached its boiling point when Hermione's mother simply asked him teasingly when he planned to marry her daughter. Something had snapped and he had stood up, and yelled at their faces that he no longer had any intention to marry a woman who had whored herself to another man and that if he wasn't good enough for her then she should simply run back to her lover. He knew that whatever relationship he may have had with Hermione was over. Not even defeating Voldemort singlehandedly would be enough. But, he thought, maybe he could manage to salvage their friendship.

Harry sighed, "Well Ron?"

If he was going to have any success, it was better to tell Harry. They were brothers in all but blood, perhaps Harry would not immediately kill him if he told him the full story. Heaving a heavy sigh, Ron began to spun the tale that led to that horrible outburst, "It all started with our two-year anniversary. I took Hermione out to that fancy restaurant that just opened up near her house. I thought things were going good between us even if a year of it was spent trading letters back and forth. Well, after dinner, we went back to her house. Her parents were out visiting some relatives for the weekend and so we had the house all to ourselves. We figured that it was time to take our relationship to the next level. I know you never asked, but contrary to what you might have thought, we both decided to abstain sex until we felt we were ready."

"There's nothing wrong with that. Every relationship goes at a different pace than others." Harry interjected, a small, reassuring smile forming at his lips to make Ron more comfortable.

"Anyway, just when we were about to have sex. Let's just say that I was having failure to launch. It was my first time after all and I was nervous. Hermione was really kind about it though and understood. I made a joke how unlucky it was for our first time to have been a dud. It was then after that that Hermione confessed that it wasn't her first time having sex. You could say I was blown away by it. I thought that Hermione was a virgin. I mean, you never saw her date anyone during Hogwarts right?

"I didn't say anything then. I think I was just shocked at the time so I didn't make a big show out of it. However, after that night, I begin looking at Hermione in a different light. Some of my insecurities were playing up again. I kept thinking that Hermione was laughing at me because I couldn't get it up. I kept wondering when she had sex with another bloke. I even thought that she must have cheated on me while she was away in Hogwarts. These thoughts kept running around in my head. I tried to ignore it, I tried to just be reasonable by the whole thing. But, as you can see, that didn't happen."

Ron took in a deep breath and studied Harry's thoughtful expression. He was expecting Harry to start yelling at him for his stupidity, but instead he was met with an unnerving silence that nearly threatened to suffocate him. In what felt like hours instead of seconds, Harry spoke, "Ron, why does it matter whether or not Hermione's a virgin? She was head over heels for you. Despite all your arguing and disagreements, she genuinely cared for you and wanted to be with you. Now you have gone and messed that up!"

"I know that!" Ron agreed irritably, "I don't know why it mattered! Maybe I just wanted to be the first guy she ever made love to! I grew up with the whole idea that the one person you have sex with is the one you would be with for life and love eternally! Look Harry, I'm not here to ask Hermione for forgiveness or to even consider date me again. I pretty much fucked that up. The reason I'm here tonight is to see whether or not she and I can still remain friends!"

"Ron, do you want to know who Hermione had sex with?" Harry suddenly asked, his voice turning grave as the words spewed from his mouth. The complete and utter severity of his shift in demeanor was enough to warrant shock from Ron. He could do nothing but numbly bowed his head in complete agreement, "It was during Fifth Year a few days after Valentine's Day. Hermione and I were alone together in the Room of Requirement. After my disastrous date with Cho, I was thinking a lot about who I might end up with in the future. I didn't want to lose my virginity to someone who may not love me. So, I asked Hermione if she could sleep with me. We gave our virginity to each other because we know we would always be best friends forever."

Ron simply stared at his best mate. It was so simple. Hermione was the most intimate with Harry. There was a bond between them that Ron failed to explain in words. It should have been obvious from the start that Harry and Hermione had done something in the past. With that new information now embedded deeply into his head, he realized how emotionally stunted he had been. He was so immature that he couldn't ignore the number of times Hermione chose to be with him when there were plenty of chances of cutting her losses and leaving him for someone better. He messed up.

"I don't know what to say." Ron admitted, tiredly leaning against the chair.

"You could begin by apologizing." From the threshold between the corridor and the sitting room stood Hermione with her arms crossed and her cold, brown eyes affixed to Ron's lanky frame. She still wore the outfit that she had adorned for dinner previously and Ron surmised that she didn't feel like changing clothes when she arrived at Harry's. She looked stunning.

"Hermione, I'm sor-"

"Not me," Hermione interrupted, "Apologize to Harry. He didn't have to tell you about what happened between us. It was something completely private that only the two of us should know."

"Hermione, I-"

"And another thing, my parents don't want you going anywhere near their home again. My dad threatened that if you came anywhere near their house again, he is going to buy a gun from the black market and shoot you with it if he has to."

Ron's mouth remained closed. He turned his attention to Harry who subtly changed his posture that signaled that he was not going to be taking part of their conversation. It was Harry's way of telling Ron that he was now on his own and that he would step in if things got too out of control. Ron scowled wryly, he decided that he disliked it when Harry acted as the neutral party. Ron stared up at Hermione who remained motionless where she first appeared, having no inclination whatsoever to come closer. He apologized, "Hermione. I'm sorry."

Hermione frowned, "I know you are. You don't even need to tell me. However, that doesn't mean I forgive you. I have never felt more insulted in all my life. I can take your immature remarks. I can take your ignorant comments. I can take your biased views. But I don't think I can handle you anymore. I've had enough of you Ron. For two years, I believed I was in love with you. I believed that you and I could have made a good husband and wife. I believed all this because I know that deep inside, you're a great man. But I don't think I can wait for that great man to come out any longer. I waited too long and I'm sick of it. I'm sorry Ron, I don't want to talk or even see you for awhile. Maybe you and I can be friends again in the future, but for now, everything is done between us." With that said, Hermione turned away from the two of the Golden Trio and left to whatever room she was occupying.

Ron covered his face with his hands. He seriously screwed up. Despite all their history and surviving a war together, the consciousness of human perception was a fickle thing. None of that mattered anymore. He craned his neck to gauge Harry's reaction to Hermione's dissolution of their friendship and was met with a sympathetic smile. Harry told him, "Don't worry Ron. You and I are still friends. Even though I agree what you did to Hermione was unforgivable, I'll still try to be your friend. Okay?"

"Thanks Harry." Ron was genuinely grateful, "You have no idea what that means to me." Then, with a hopeful smile, he said, "Maybe I should start listening to Hermione and stop being such an idiot. Maybe then, Hermione can forgive me and we can friends again."

However, instead of being met with a boyish grin that told him everything was going to be alright, Harry shook his head solemnly and said, "I'm sorry Ron, but it's too late."

Even years later, after Harry and Hermione had married and had their own family, Hermione never treated Ron as a friend. She tolerated him, if only for Harry's and, later, the kids' sake. It wasn't until on Hermione's death bed did she tell Ron that she forgave him. However, to Ron, it had been her final punishment rather than a reprieve: An entire lifetime of being treated as a stranger and then watching her die soon after she proclaimed they were friends again. It wasn't fair, but Ron, by then, already knew and accepted that.

Afterword: This probably wasn't very good ha ha.