A/N Written for TheSteppyOne in exchange for her donation to Alzheimers Scotland. She asked for a reversal of my usual characterisation, Hermione beating herself up psychologically and Ron fretting and trying to look after her.
The thing was I figured that if Hermione suddenly felt depressed the first thing Ron would do was try to work out what he'd done wrong to cause it. I needed to take Ron's neurosis away and keep him in character. So this is the way I worked it out.
It's also in Hermione's PoV, which I hardly ever do. It's turned out a bit like Hermione's writing her story like it's an essay, she's done research and everything!
Thanks to Scrib for reading it through for me.
Sky, Sea, Veins and Other Misconceptions of Blue
Originally we all had brown eyes.
Sometime between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago the first pair of blue eyes came about as the result of a genetic mutation. We were all brown eyed before that, according to people with more extensive knowledge of these things than I have.
They weren't the first blue eyes, of course not, but that one pair belonged to the one person all blue eyed people now share as a common ancestor. That one genetic mutation, let's say 8,000 years ago (I like averages), gave me the eyes I look into every day and feel connected to.
An 8,000 year old connection (give or take a couple of thousand years) between my brown eyes and his blue ones must be why I see so much wisdom in there, inherited wisdom. Old eyes, but new eyes, only a few thousand years old compared to mine. He has beautiful eyes.
A genetic flaw kept him from growing the hard dark filter that keeps those on the outside from looking in.
The possibly 8,000 year old ancestor was definitely not the first blue eyes though. I know that for a fact. A mummy with blue eyes was found in China and there is a lot of talk of ancient Egyptians in 2500BC with blue eyes (not counting the kind of talk white supremacists talk of course).
I look into Ron Weasley's blue eyes and try to see that Boggart hiding in one corner of his mind.
It's like looking into a clear blue sky and trying to spot the edge of the universe.
You don't see it and give yourself a migraine.
"Things get put down," a lazy, deep, gentle voice says into the side of my face as my boyfriend's heavy head nestles upon my shoulder, "books close," his arms slide around me and for a moment it looks as if I am the goddess Kali, only not blue, and he starts pushing away my work and kissing my neck.
"And you come to bed to lie down with me," he says, curling his arms around my waist and squeezing, "not even for sexy bed time. That's how good I am, I'll let you sleep."
I love it when I can feel his lips smiling against my skin. I hate that it's impossible to refuse him when he does it.
"I need to work," I said, unenthusiastically.
"And you will," he said as he lifted me up from my seat and walked with me, pressed against my back and nuzzling into my neck the whole time, to the bedroom, "after a nap."
"I'm a grown woman. I don't nap."
"Maybe if you'd napped as much as me you'd have grown as tall as me," he teased and then sighed into my hair.
"Was that a contented sigh or a worried sigh?" I tensed up and tried to turn in his arms to put him under my scrutiny.
"Whatever answer means you coming to bed with me right now?"
"Do you need to rest?" I worried.
"I'm fi… wait. I am," he paused and I realised that I was going to bed now and could do nothing about it, "feeling really bad and don't want to be alone right now."
"You manipulative-" I began but he finally let me turn towards him just so he could cup my face and kiss me until I was lying on the bed.
He crawled over me and flopped down at my side, grinning.
"Bastard?" He offered.
"No thanks, I already have one."
He laughed and wove his fingers between mine.
"Well why is it that you only drop everything to take care of me but you won't do it for yourself?" He managed to say it and still smile.
I marvel at that. He always does that. He can say exceptional things, meaningful, revealing, emotional, intellectual, and deliver them as if he's just shrugging and saying 'always the tone of surprise'.
I do lie down and sleep for an hour. I make him stay with me. He's still sleeping when I wake up and I spend another twenty minutes watching him. Eventually he snores hard enough to make himself jump awake and then grumbles that I was watching him and that he thinks it's weird and creepy.
I barely finished chuckling at that before he'd gone back to sleep.
I looked from him to the trunk beneath the bedroom window. My amusement faded immediately.
Even this simple thing, our trunks, reveals so much. He put his by the window, varnish already being altered by the light, and where anybody could see it. He keeps it unlocked too. He's so exposed and vulnerable.
My trunk is shrunk right down and kept in a locked box beneath a floorboard. Oh and the floorboard is disguised as patch of mould that acts like Bubotuber pus on the hands of anybody who touches it.
Yes I do have a thing about disfiguring the skin of people who betray me, don't think I'm unaware.
I've been temporarily disfigured when I hadn't even deserved it in the past. People found those occasions most amusing, not my Ron. Ron never laughed at me unless I'd caused myself these problems. When I turned myself into a cat-human hybrid he almost wet himself laughing at me.
It's because of Ron not hiding things securely and locking things up and securing them with magic and protecting them with repellents and curses, it's all because of his and his trusting open nature, that I happened to find myself looking through his trunk and finding an engagement ring and then going insane.
He bought me a really beautiful ring.
And he bought it. It's a big deal to him that he bought it and didn't inherit it. But he's still not very rich so he didn't buy it new. He bought an old ring and yet it's my ring, totally my ring, and I think he knows that rather than feeling ashamed of it being second hand.
I don't think it's second hand, I think it's an antique.
He might be apologetic or embarrassed for not getting me a new ring, special, for me. The thing is I would have chosen a ring like that. I like old books over new ones. I had a new copy of Hogwarts a History bought for me after mine got scuffed on the cover and frayed on the corners and the pages yellowed. I have the new copy on my book shelf, untouched, and still use my copy. My copy smells of classrooms, and potions ingredients and Ron's spilled tea and Harry's spilled blood and Ginny's spilled secrets. Spilled secrets smell too, they smell of the couple of tears that fell onto my handwritten notes in the margin, smudging the ink, and the eucalyptus Luna offered her when she lied about why she was sniffing, saying she was getting a cold.
I like the smell, the feel, the look, and the soul of old books.
The school was a mixture of old buildings, old furnishings, old and worn and used and loved and I loved it in a way I could never have loved the prefabricated classrooms at my Muggle school.
And I found something else with the ring, something that showed me how well he knows me. There was a formal note, written by the head Goblin Craftsman, that Ron had gone to get even though he didn't have to by the Wizarding law he abides by.
This ring was made by Goblin hand.
This ring was given to a human for an agreed price.
When this ring should have been returned to us, the Fellowship of the Sacred Goblin Helmet, on the occasion of the wearer of the ring passing away it was not.
I hereby agree that this Wizard, Mr Ronald Bilius Weasley, wrongly paid a fellow wizard for ownership of this ring. The jeweller did not own this ring. This ring belongs to and will always belong to the Goblins.
Mr Weasley paid for the liberation of our property and returned it to us, its rightful owners.
I have, with the authority invested in me by my fellows, agreed to let Mr Weasley take the ring for his intended. I have, with the authority invested in me by my fellows, agreed to let Mr Weasley's intended wear this ring for the rest of her life. I have, with the authority invested in me by my fellows, agreed that on the return of the ring to us at the end of the wearer's life, the Goblins will reciprocate the goodwill and honesty of the Weasleys and their ancestors by allowing them to take the ring back for another lifetime.
Mr Weasley agrees that after each wearer of the ring passes on the Goblins will be presented with their property again, as the rightful owners.
We Goblins agree that this respect and repeated respect will be reflected back upon Mr Weasley and his ancestors.
Then the Goblin signed the formal agreement, and beneath his name Ron had signed too.
On top of showing his respect for House Elves he showed respect to the Goblins. I know he didn't agree with the concept that if you make an item and then sell it you can take it back when the person who paid for the item died. I understand his point. But it is their way and if you buy their wares then you must accept their ways.
And Ron had done. He had gone to trouble he never needed to go to, and he'd done it for me.
I had a ring that, we would both know, wasn't deemed stolen goods in the eyes of the Goblins.
He knows me so well.
This was when I began to torment myself.
I don't know him nearly as well as he knows me.
I can't make sense of him sometimes. I have upset him in the past and never known why, or if I do discover a reason I can't ever comprehend why his reaction was so extreme.
He's amazing and has limitless potential and continues to grow as a person. He blossoms and then bears this amazing fruit you never expected from him and then, when you think he has become the man you always knew he was capable of being standing strong and impressive as he's laid bare for all the marvel at, you notice that the blossom is coming back.
He never stops blossoming.
He never stops improving himself.
He never stops growing.
I feel as if he's already a step ahead of me. What if he leaves me behind? What if my full potential is nothing in comparison to his full potential? Have I unleashed his potential or was I the one who was holding him back?
Putting him down as shallow, putting him down as stupid… I never meant those things, he just frustrated me!
Yet here we are, he's ahead of me, not intellectually but as a person, and I am left feeling shallow and stupid.
Does this mean he's frustrated?
Did he make me go to bed for a nap because a sleeping me is a quiet me?
Go to sleep and shut up. Go to sleep and give me a break. Go to sleep and stop disappointing me.
I built myself up as better than this. I bet he thought I was much more impressive and now he sees I'm not.
He always treated me as if I was out of his league and now… My God, even the ring and the agreement with the Goblins shows that he's advanced beyond me now.
He hasn't given me the ring yet has he? No. This has got to be because since buying it he's seen that I'm not worth the trouble. He's saving it for one of his impressive colleagues in the Auror department. They're clever and moral and athletic.
I'm not perfect and he always told himself I was and now he's seen that I'm not and he'd rather I be asleep than awake and he hasn't given me the ring and I'm hyperventilating…
I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in.
"Ach, this is all my fault," I whispered to myself.
I heard a deep grunt and then a lazy sigh on the other side of the door.
"Don't open it without warning me, I'll fall back and crack my skull," Ron said, sleepily.
I bit my lip.
"Sorry I woke you," I said, meekly.
I heard a familiar cracking sound. He was obviously stretching. I pictured it and hugged myself.
"Do you want to talk about why you're stressed out?" He asked me through the bathroom door.
"No, no thank you."
I heard him exhaling heavily, puffing out his cheeks.
"Want to talk to Harry?"
"No, I don't talk to Harry behind your back, I wish you still knew that an-"
"I know that, calm down," he said, warily.
We were both silent for a moment, then he tapped on the door, softly.
"Can I come in?"
"Do you need to pee?"
He laughed and I couldn't help but do the same.
"I want to sit with you," he said.
I swallowed and sighed.
"I can get Ginny," he offered, "or Luna, if you need to talk to a girl. Or a woman, sorry, a woman."
"Yeah?" I could hear him perking up, hopefully.
"I love you. I don't need anybody else," I said, placing the palm of my hand against the door where I pictured his face to be, "I've just come to understand something a little better recently."
I looked at his toothbrush, his razor, his bottle of Matey bubble bath. I laughed and tears flooded my eyes.
"What?" He was asking through the door.
"I love your bubble bath."
He snorted and I could tell he was a little embarrassed.
"I thought it was funny, it was just a joke," he ended his defence with a mumble, "Harry's never letting me hear the end of it."
"You thought it was cool," I said, wiping my eyes, "and you got it because you thought it was cool and you didn't care what anybody thought…until Harry laughed at you."
"No, it was cool in a funny way. Like…look at what Muggles came up with this time? Cool and silly, right?"
"I think Matey is cool, Ron."
Again we were silent.
He sighed and then I heard him getting up.
"Can I do anything to make you feel better?"
I understood so well now. I understand that to an outsider there are wonderful changes afoot and then it's all torn down by out of the blue actions that hurt and betray and come with no explanation.
"When I asked you out I was so happy," I said, voice cracking, "and we were going to change for the better and I was looking forward to it and then…Lavender, and you were nasty to me and I didn't understand and I hated you."
"Uh, I'm sorry," he was taken by surprise by this and had no idea what to say, "I thought… Where has this come from? Have I done something?"
"No," I sniffed, breaths shaking, "but what if you're happy and looking forward to things and how we're changing and it's exciting and I…I…"
"Changing?" His voice was very different.
"No! Don't think I'm breaking up with you!"
"I didn't until this," he said, somehow unusually strong in his tone. "Look, is telling me about this making it worse for you?"
I started crying again.
"Let me get somebody to talk to you. Let me get Ginny or something. Your mum, what about your mum?"
"Ron," I sniffed, "I've done something stupid."
"Okay," he said, warily.
"I wanted… I'm 'a know it all' and I get things wrong sometimes and I'm sorry!"
"Hermione, open the door," he said, firmly.
I gulped and did as he asked. He was kneeling down on the other side of the doorway and staring at me.
"Can I come in?"
He got up, walked inside and closed the toilet lid to sit down. We looked at each other. I chewed my lip and he glanced around for something to say, and then grabbed the Matey bottle.
"Want me to run you a bubble bath?"
I shook my head and smiled at him, fondly.
He looked at the bottle again and then sat up straight. He held the bottle up like it was the Quidditch cup and lifted his chin.
"See, he may be bubble bath but he's manly bubble bath. See?" He pointed to the bottle. "He's a sailor, what's more manly than a sailor eh? He's all rugged and salty and muscular. This is a man's…bubble bath."
He snorted, then smirked, and then we both laughed.
"See how much happier you are since…" I began but stopped myself.
"Since what?" He frowned. "I'm just as happy as I always am when you're having a laugh with me."
He slid off the toilet to kneel before me.
"I'm only unhappy when I see you like this."
"You feel unhappy and keep it a secret," I whispered.
He frowned and looked down at the floor, then up into my eyes with determination.
"I'll tell you about the Horcrux if you want."
"No!" I blurted. "It's not fair, if you were all there you'd never want to. I can't take advantage."
"All there? Are you saying I'm not all there?" he looked suitably offended.
"I wanted to understand those times when I can see you sinking inside but you try to hide it. I wanted to take the sinking feeling away from you. I wanted you to be happy and to know why you aren't and…"
"Why do you keep telling me I'm not happy?" He was getting cross now.
"Because I took it away."
He blinked at me. I took a deep breath.
"I don't know why you and Harry have such serious demeanours when you talk about things to do with that Horcuux. I didn't know why you'd suddenly turn moody when I felt like everything was going well. I don't know why the Horcrux got to you so much worse than it did to us…or at least I didn't."
"What did you do?" He asked, apprehensively.
"I wanted to understand," I began, "and I'd found an old spell that worked like a Pensieve. It's like the person becomes the Pensieve and you draw out the thoughts and put them into yourself and, you don't see the memories but you feel…"
Ron was looking at me as if I'd just told him I'd killed Fred.
"If the memory was of being in love I'd then be acting as if I was on a love potion and if you were feeling paranoid in the memory I'd feel that way and you, you'd have no sense of paranoia at all."
"What," he said again, "did you do?"
"You were having a nightmare, one of those ones you won't talk about and then act all quiet and upset for the rest of the day. I…I just wanted to… I took it away."
He almost fainted. I'm not exaggerating, he visibly wobbled and I grabbed his forearm tightly.
"You've not felt bad have you? You've been happy and you trust that I love you and you're confident and you haven't been thinking about harmless things until they become massive things."
"That's what you've been doing?"
"I got so paranoid as soon as I did it I… I'm sorry. I rooted through your trunk. I couldn't understand why you love me. How could you love somebody who ignored that you felt like this?"
"But I don't! I have like, one 'off day' here and there, but who doesn't have that? I'm not going through life feeling like shit, Hermione."
"But when you have an 'off day' I feed the negativity and drag you down and it leads to months of us hurting each other and not knowing why and now I know why."
"You really," Ron was speechless, he held his head on both hands and let out a frustrated growl, "oh my God!"
"I've been thinking that you can do so much better than me and you haven't proposed because you changed your mind and you're right to have because I see what a nightmare I am now. How can you cope when you feel like this and I'd putting you down an-"
He launched himself at me and kissed me into the wall. A slightly damp towel cushioned my back and his hands wove into my hair. His tongue pushed into my mouth and slid against mine. His lips were soft and hot and amazing. He paused for breath, straddled my lap and moved into kiss me again as he settled down onto my thighs. Something thick, wet and sticky burst between us.
"Fucking Matey!" He snapped and threw the sailor shaped bottle into the bath before kissing me again.
I tore my lips away from his and looked into his amazing blue eyes.
"Ron," I panted.
He licked his lips and waited for me to finish.
I didn't really know what to say, however.
He blinked, dipped his head and tilted it to one side, awaiting me to complete the interruption. I cupped his face and stroked against his cheekbone with my thumb.
I can see how much better off he is without this negativity and self doubt. Maybe I can keep it and go to Muggle therapy. I can cope with it better than he does. I'll keep it and he can be happy and we can be together. As long as I have therapy we can be together.
"I'm not letting you go back to feeling this way," I whispered.
He sat back and his shoulders fell.
"So you don't want to marry me?"
"What? No, of course I want to marry you!"
"Well not me but this tinkered with version of me that isn't really me. Take out the qualities you don't like first, eh?" He sounded bitter.
"Wait, you're not supposed to be getting like this. I'm like that, I took it away."
"I'm not saying it and believing I'm at fault," he said, stiffly, "I'm saying it and knowing it's all your fault."
I choked a little on my shock.
"If we get married there's this bit that says 'for better or for worse' and you're refusing to take me for my worst bits. You only want me for better. Well screw you, Hermione Granger, I don't need your conditional love."
I was stunned. He wasn't crushed, he was…he was empowered.
"Y'see," he said, getting to his feet and brushing himself down, "without my humility, humility to the point of self flagellation, I'm a bit of a selfish arsehole!"
"No…you're not like that."
"And you're not like this," he gestured to me, "this isn't who I'm proposing to. This is," he shook his head and looked away. "This you isn't Hermione who creates the most powerful Patronus from me, this you is… this is my new Boggart."
"My Hermione isn't weak," he snapped, arms folded across his narrow chest.
"You're not weak when you're feeling bad," I gasped.
"No because it's my feeling and my problem and I get through it and that's what makes me proud of myself. That's what makes me confident about us, because you give me hope and love when I have none."
"Now you have it all the time, see?" I said, trying to smile.
"No," he scoffed, "now I've lost you and part of myself."
"But all the good stuff is still in you."
"I am the sum of my parts and part of me is…" he lost his memento and simply gestured to me as a whole.
"You just gestured to all of me," I said, glumly.
He sighed and sat back down on the toilet seat.
"You are part of me and that bit of me you took, that's part of me too. For better or for worse, Hermione. Don't you want to love me if I have imperfections?"
"Of course I love you, no matter what," I gasped. "And what's all this better or worse stuff? Those are Muggle vows. They aren't in your ceremonies."
"And I'd take Muggle vows for you because they are important to your family," he said, "but not if they don't mean anything to you."
I pushed myself up to my feet.
"Ron, no, I want to marry you and I want you better or worse!"
"Then give the worst of me back," he demanded.
My lip actually wobbled. It hadn't done that since I was in nursery school.
"I don't want you to feel this bad."
"I don't like feeling that bad," he said, "but it's my feeling. It's mine. For us to share everything means I get that too, not just you."
"So I'll give you half back? If we can find a way?" I was lost.
"I get it back and I share how it makes me feel with you. I promise, I'll tell you everything. I'll let you in when I feel bad and you can share it when I need you to share it."
I tried to understand but the foreign emotions were making my head spin.
"But…I don't want you to feel like this."
"I don't want you to feel like that either."
"Why would you want this back?"
He took my hands and looked me in the eye.
"When I do something well, it's in spite of that stuff. When I'm brave or confident, it's in spite of that feeling that I'm not good enough."
He pulled me into a hug.
"When I'm happy, I know it's real happiness, and it makes me feel even happier. You make me happy and I don't get that bad any more and I don't want to wonder if I'm feeling good for real or only feeling good because I've had part of myself removed."
I squeezed him tightly.
He rubbed my back.
"A rhubarb crumble is delicious. A rhubarb crumble without any sugar in it is disgusting." He was confusing me with this but I let him keep going. "Right now, Hermione, I'm a rhubarb crumble without any rhubarb in it."
I laughed. Despite how awful and guilty I felt I laughed. He'd made me laugh.
There was still laughter despite this feeling. There was still love and comfort and faith and hope. He was right, happiness is all the sweeter with that little bit of sour.
"It's a wonderful metaphor, Ron," I sighed into his chest.
"Sod metaphors, I want a crumble!"
We both laughed at that. He leaned back and kissed me on the tip of the nose.
"Give it back, Hermione."
"Sorry I took… your rhubarb."
He smiled at me.
"Gooseberry would have worked too."
"Well, sorry I took your gooseberries."
He grinned, mischievously and I shoved him in the chest.
"Oh you're such a pain!"