A/N I know I have talked about this for a while but here it is finally: my first attempt at a Ron/Hermione multi-chaptered story. It is an aftermath story and while it will focus on Ron and Hermione, they won't be the only protagonists. If you've read my collection of short stories "Pictures", you may know I like many characters in Harry Potter, including the screwed-up little ferret himself -yes, that's Draco Malfoy. So the spotlight will be on Ron and Hermione and their relationship with Draco Malfoy, including some things seen from Draco's point of view. And before you ask, no, there won't be any romantic relationship between Draco and either of Ron or Hermione. But their paths will continuously cross, hence the title.

Why this story? Well, I like how in the epilogue, Malfoy nods curtly to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. How did they get to that point after the Hogwarts years where Malfoy kept insulting the three of them and especially after what happened at Malfoy Manor? This is what this story will explore.

It starts in the aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts, but not directly after the battle (there are plenty of excellent fanfics out there that cover just that: I have a few in my favorite list on my profile.)

This story picks up eight weeks after the battle. Things that have already happened: Hermione has retrieved her parents from Australia and she and Ron have already had sex (and will be having some more: they do have to make up for lost time, don't they?)

I have rated this story M because I want the freedom that comes with it and there will be sexual situations (although not in all chapters) so consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer: as much as I wish otherwise, I don't own Harry Potter.

Crossing Paths

Chapter 1: Interruption

Ron closed his eyes blissfully. Hermione had let one of her hands wander underneath his t-shirt. The touch of Hermione's fingers against the skin of his chest was a sensation he would never tire of. She reached for the hem of his t-shirt and he obediently put his arms up above his head as she pulled the garment over his head. That was fair, he thought, as she was only wearing knickers and a bra. Yeah, thinking of it... Wait, why did he bother thinking when her hands were back on him, gently caressing the area around his navel and going even more south? A giant grin spread on his face as her adroit hands dipped lower and were now flirting teasingly with the top of his boxer shorts. She slipped one finger under the waistband, enticing him. At the same time, her lips joined the game and were all over his chest, barely touching him but branding him as hers for the rest of time. He sighed as her tongue made contact with one of his nipples. He had found that there were some definite advantages to having a girlfriend with such a smart mouth.

His hands reached around her, gently touching the soft skin of her back, moving up to the elegant curve of her neck, the one hidden under her mane of fantastic hair. His long fingers were drawing light circles on her shoulders, lowering imperceptibly the wispy straps of her cotton bra down her arms. His lips came to rest on the creamy skin, inhaling the incredible scent of her, making him crave her even more as she moaned in delight. His fingers went to the band of her bra and valiantly fought with that incredibly complicated contraption. A small cry of victory ran through his brain as he managed to untie the pesky garment and let it slide down, revealing the beautiful breasts hidden underneath. He couldn't resist and took one greedily in his mouth, sucking it to a hard tip. Her hands abandoned their exploration of him and just went to ensnare themselves in his hair as she threw her head backward and just let him have his way with her. He could have come just seeing her getting lost in the throes of passion and knowing he was causing it. As he heard her murmur his name, almost chant it, he let his large hand dance along her smooth stomach, fingers snaking lower to the waistband of her knickers. She moaned even louder. He murmured to her:

"Maybe we should put an Imperturbable Charm on my room... Before we get interrupted."

"Yes," she agreed quickly and offerered him a tantalising view of her perfect bum. She grabbed her wand from the pocket of jeans that were lying on the floor, among a heap of discarded clothes.

She was about to say the charm when they heard pounding on the door and Harry's voice:

"Ron, you need to come to the sitting room. There is someone here to see us."

Ron banged his head against the headboard of his bed as images of himself strangling Harry came easily to his mind.

"And Ron," Harry continued with barely suppressed mirth in his voice, "If you happen to see Hermione, she also needs to be there. I can't seem to find her anywhere."

Ron heard Hermione sigh and mumble:

"As much as I love Harry, there are times when I swear I could hex him."

That earned her an amused lopsided grin. Harry knew perfectly well she was with Ron. Hermione suspected that Harry had a very good idea of what he was interrupting.

Ron and Hermione put their clothes back on. As they did so, Hermione reflected on what had happened in the eight weeks since the Battle of Hogwarts. They had soldiered on, burying friends and family, receiving medals and awards none of them cared about, and trying to start the healing process. Ron and she had gone to Australia to retrieve her parents and she had had to tell them the entire story, which unsurprisingly, had not enchanted them. Her parents had moved back to England and resumed their lives as dentists. She went to visit them several times a week, trying to mend the relationship she had damaged when she had decided to modify their memory.

Despite all, she had decided to stay permanently in the magical world and live there. She had of course been welcome at the Burrow where she could be with Ron now that they had finally found each other. It had taken them seven years to finally admit what they felt for each other and act on it but they had made up for the time lost. It had taken little time for them to figure out sex was a wonderful outlet to express their passion and love for one another. They had needed to prove they were alive, to feel, and to find solace in each other's arms. They might have been inexperienced but had remedied this problem by practicing a lot, which had challenges of its own, especially with a place as cramped as the Burrow. Harry's interruption was just one of the many things they had become accustomed to circumventing.

Ron had put his jeans back on, feeling quite uncomfortable as he still had a raging hard-on. She promised him to tend to it later which put him in a mood laced with frustration and anticipation. He was still holding his t-shirt in one hand, as he kissed her briefly before reaching for the door and announcing:

"Let me go and kick Harry's arse for interrupting."

He heard her laugh softly as he went down the rickety stairs toward the sitting room. He was pulling his t-shirt over his head as he spoke:

"Harry fucking Potter, I'm going to hex your bollocks off. I don't care if the bloody minister of magic himself is here. My girlfriend was just about to shag me brainless."

As his head came out of the t-shirt, Ron found three pairs of eyes looking at him: His father's, Harry's, and Kingsley Shacklebolt's. Ron felt himself blush to a colour he was sure could only be found in tomatoes. He saw Harry double over in laughter. His father had the decency of looking thoroughly shocked, although Ron could see the twinkle of amusement in the blue eyes so much like his. And was that an upward twitch at the corner of Kingsley's mouth? Brilliant, he had made a complete tit of himself in front of his father and the minister of magic.

"Ron, nice to see you too. I am sure you're glad your mother didn't hear that," Kingsley said in his booming voice as he tapped Ron on the back. "As bloody minister of magic, I need to talk with you, Harry, and Hermione."

"Somebody called my name?" came Hermione's voice as she entered the living room. She went to stand between Harry and Ron, noticing Ron's very red ears and Harry's downcast eyes. She also saw a slight discomfort in Mr. Weasley's face and thought it might be better for her not to know what had just transpired before she had entered the room. She turned to Kingsley and smiled at him.

"Kingsley, so nice to see you. To what do we owe the pleasure?"

"You may want to sit down," Kingsley replied, all seriousness returned.

Hermione lodged herself on the sofa between Ron and Harry.

Kingsley and Arthur sat down in the armchairs on the opposite side:

"It's about the Malfoys. There will be an audience in front of the Wizengamot to decide of their fate. As you know, they have been under what I think the Muggles would call house arrest since the battle. They are all wandless at this point and Lucius has been quick to give us the names of many Death Eaters on the run."

"Of course he has to snitch on his former acolytes," Arthur said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. "Not to help us, but to keep his arse out of Azkaban." His dislike for Lucius Malfoy was more evident than ever.

"No disagreement there, Arthur. He is a slimy one, Malfoy is," Kingsley said in his deep voice. "Their fate will be decided next week. And we need the three of you to testify."

"Why us?" Harry asked, all trace of his laughter from a minute ago completely erased.

"Harry, your account of what Narcissa did in the Forbidden Forest is why she isn't in Azkaban. There is also the fact that they chose not to fight during the Battle. That kept all of them out of Azkaban. And there is the fact we can't find any proof of what they did during the war."

"We raided Malfoy Manor after the battle," Arthur took over solemnly. We found a few dark artefacts but no trace of what really happened there. All we can rely on is your testimony."

"What about Ollivander?" Harry asked. "He was a prisoner there for a while."

"Yes and he said he had been tortured by Wormtail, Voldemort himself, or Bellatrix, but never the Malfoys. He's also quite frail and wants to put this behind him," Kingsley said. "I know from what you told us, Hermione, that the Malfoys were instrumental in your torture, even if Bellatrix did all the wand work. If we had your account of their action, or inaction in this case..."

Kinglsey stopped mid-sentence. Hermione had gone as white as a sheet and Ron's arm had come to rest protectively around her. She was speechless. It had been painful enough to recount what had happened at Malfoy Manor to the Weasleys and her parents but she didn't think she could do kit in front of the entire Wizengamot. As if reading her thoughts, Ron asked Kingsley:

"Will Hermione have to tell about what happened to her in front of the entire Wizengamot?"

"Well, this is why I came here. You three have a deeper story about the Malfoys than anyone else. I also know how painful it is," he added sympathetically as he smiled sadly at Hermione. "So, I would say that most of their fate lies with you. You should probably talk about it among yourselves first before making a decision. I need to go back to the office," he said as he rose.

"Harry, Ron, Hermione, Arthur." He nodded as he went outside to Disapparate.

Arthur Weasley looked at the three saviours of the wizarding world and to him, they were just three teenagers, one of them his child by blood and the other two as good as his. And he thought once again how incongruous it was that such young souls should be confronted with such grave decisions.

So, you have it. Please let me know what you think of the premise for the story (reviews or PM).