Author's notes: Why would the smartest witch ever to come out of Hogwarts be in love with someone like Ron Weasley? Goofy, nothing-special Ron? And if she's not, why is he still invading her thoughts seven years later?

Okay, this is my first fanfic I've ever made public. PLEASE give me feedback. Positive, negative - I don't care, as long as it's thoughtful. Thanks!

Disclaimer: The characters and other immediately recognizable items belong to JK Rowling. Of course, I own nothing. Well, except for a vacuum cleaner, but if someone's going to sue me over that, then fanfiction is the least of her worries...



Honestly, Hermione

Chapter 1. On Her Own

Hermione Granger put the finishing touches on her paper and hit the save button on her computer. She would print it and drop it off at the publisher tomorrow. Tonight...she would rest. She switched the computer off and sat back. Only after the screen went black did she realize that it was quite dark in her apartment. With a sigh she pointed her wand at the floor lamp next to the door and mumbled a spell. Her small apartment was immediately filled with light.

Hermione glanced around her flat as if for the first time, and sighed. A few weeks ago one of her friends from university had come over. Kendra Tremayne was an American witch doing her PhD in Arithmancy, just like Hermione. She'd come to borrow some of Hermione's notes and was more than a little shocked by Hermione's little flat.

Kendra had demanded to know why Hermione Granger, the smartest witch in Britain, bar none, was living in a pathetic little flat in a dowdy little suburb twenty miles out of London. "Honestly, Hermione. You write papers for all the best magic journals in Europe, and I know my parents have read a few of your articles back home. Don't they pay you?" Of course, Hermione was paid well enough for her articles. But - "And what about your parents? I mean, they're dentists, right? They must be making a fortune, with all the bad teeth in the U.K. Why don't they help you?" They did, Hermione had told her friend. But - "Then why on earth do you live in this squalid dump?"

At the time, Hermione had protested the word "squalid." It wasn't that bad. But now, as she looked around, she had to admit it was. Hermione's flat consisted of a main room only slightly larger than her bedroom at her parents' house, a miniscule bathroom, and a tiny kitchen. The linoleum in the kitchen was old and yellowing, and more than a few of the bathroom tiles were cracked. The carpet, no matter how many times Hermione swept it, was never going to be really clean again. The walls were a dirty white, and the pipes had a terrible habit of freezing. Hermione had tried to make her flat cozy and homey when she first moved in, buying a bright, comfy futon and loads of decorative pillows and an area rug to hide the worst stains on the carpet. Her library filled one wall, even though she'd charmed each of her books to the size of a cheap paperback. Her desk was under the one window, in the space anyone else would use for a kitchen table. Well, Hermione didn't have a kitchen table. What was the point, since she rarely took the time to cook, let alone waste time just eating. It was easier to eat on the go. A few framed pictures hung on the walls, and a shoebox full of more photos sat on a pile of frames her parents had given her for Christmas, waiting to be sorted through and hung up. The door had a line of five different locks on it, and Hermione kept them all locked most of the time. In the kitchen, the two cupboards were nearly as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's, and one of the doors hung on loose hinges. Hermione's refrigerator currently held an old wedge of cheese, an array of condiment packets from take-out food, and a bottle of white wine that had been there since New Year's Eve two years ago. She'd had an orange in there until last week, when she'd finally thrown it out. A few dishes, a pot, a pan, and a painfully empty pantry were all that remained. Her laundry basket sat next to the door, waiting to be taken to the laundromat down the block. And that was it. Were it not for the pile of shoes in the closet and the toothbrush in the bathroom, the flat might appear uninhabited.

But Hermione, like many brilliant people, took little notice of her surroundings. Maybe it was a little squalid, but her flat was a few steps from the train station and a short commute to the university. It was inexpensive, and big enough for her desk and her books. It didn't have a fireplace, but she (like her best friend Harry) didn't like traveling by floo powder anyway. The futon could be turned into a couch in case she ever had guests, and it made a comfortable enough bed. Yes, some of her fellow students said she lived like a nun. She dismissed those people as petty materialists, and she thought their time would be much better spent trying to do better at their classes. It was true she rarely went out, and she never invited people over, but really, she was here to work, not play. If she wanted to play she would have married Ron Weasley when he asked her.

She sighed again. She always sighed when she thought about Ron.

***

After they graduated from Hogwarts, the invincible three went their separate ways. Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, opted to take a truncated course from Dumbledore himself and got a certificate in Defense Against the Dark Arts before becoming an Auror. Voldemort was still around, after all. Harry was living out his destiny by fighting the Dark Lord. Voldemort had disappeared onto the Continent during their seventh year at Hogwarts, but his death eaters were still at work in Britain, preparing for their lord's return. Harry needed to fight them. Ginny Weasley - no, Ginny Potter now, Hermione reminded herself - feared for her husband's life almost on a daily basis, but she had never ceased adoring Harry like she had when she was ten. Harry had waited until Ginny graduated from Cambridge before he proposed, but they'd been married last November, and they were expecting their first child in six months, shortly after Hermione was scheduled to defend her doctoral thesis.

After Hogwarts, the whole world was before Hermione. On the one hand, the Ministry of Magic wanted her to work for them. She was, after all, the smartest witch to come out of Hogwarts since Albus Dumbledore...and she had the makings for greatness even beyond that - or so the recruiters flattered her. On the other hand, she'd been offered scholarships to wizarding universities in Canada, France, Great Britain, and Ireland. And then there was Ron. He wanted to marry her. He'd even proposed the night before graduation. But Hermione had been building castles in the sky in which the library was filled with her academic papers, and not posters of the Chudley Cannons. She liked Ron - perhaps even loved him. But she had never had much patience for his immature ways. She turned him down, and hadn't seen him since.

After Hermione refused his hand, Ron surprised everyone by getting accepted to an American university in spite of his average grades. Hermione heard about what he was doing every now and then, usually from Harry or Ginny, but Ron never wrote her once. Not even when he discovered the ease of e-mail as opposed to always sending an owl. After he graduated he had been recruited to join the American branch of Aurors, and he'd done it. He'd been on a mission in Malaysia when Harry and Ginny got married, missing his best friend's and only sister's wedding. Harry probably thought he was telling Hermione something she wanted to hear when he told her how Ron was doing. "Honestly, I think you turning him down was the best thing for him, 'Mione. He's a brilliant Auror, you know. Focused and serious. Like all he thinks about is tracking death eaters across the globe."

Hermione knew what Harry meant, but that didn't stop the hurt from welling up inside. Ginny had smacked her new husband and apologized to Hermione. But the older woman only blinked a few times and smiled. "Nonsense, Ginny. Harry's right. I'm glad that Ron is focused at last. I thought it was impossible."

The wedding feast was pleasant, and Hermione had kept in touch with the Potters ever since. Of course, they never came to see her. Harry was too busy chasing all over the world trying to defeat evil. And Ginny had a life of her own in the small house not far from the Burrow. They were all too busy, really, to keep up by anything other than letters. That suited Hermione just fine. She could write anything in a letter.

Of course, it would have been nice to hear from Ron once in awhile, too. He knew where she was; Ginny had told him. So had Harry. And Hermione had no idea where to send an owl for it to reach him. He could have written. He should have written. They'd been best friends for years and years, after all. Fool.



A/N: Right, so, as a first-time contributor to the world of RW/HG fanfiction, I'm BEGGING you to review. I crave tips, suggestions, and ideas - for story and grammar alike. :)