A/N: So, here we are. The final chapter. I would give an excuse as to why it is so late but I don't actually have one. Well, except for the Olympics being more distracting than Finnick Odair. Erm… sorry about that.

I recently noticed that I'm on over 50 favourite authors lists. Wow. Thank you for that.

Finally, a quick thank you to ozzel1 for pointing out the potential dangers of magical transportation. She sure does love her safety precautions.

And on with the chapter.

Today's disclaimer is brought to you by the winner/only entry in the 'Please Write a Disclaimer For Me' competition, napchic. That'll teach me to want a bit of audience participation.

Disclaimer: No Blink 182s were harmed in the making of this fic. If you maintain a J.K. Rowling for over four hours, please seek immediate medical attention. Do not expose directly to sunlight. Do not feed After Midnight. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

She draws and writes funnies! There is no end to the talent!

Here To Stay

16th November, 1999

It's the longest start but the end's not too far away

Did you know?

I'm here to stay

Harry yawned as he poured milk onto his cereal and tried to kick-start his brain. He had a late night courtesy of Ginny, despite repeatedly reminding her that he had a performance review meeting this morning. Of course, Ginny merely scoffed and told him that the idea of them sacking Harry Potter, even without his outstanding reputation he already had in the Auror department, was hilarious.

As ever, he was unable to say no to her and ended up staying most of the night at the Burrow, something he still didn't feel comfortable with, what with how much Ginny's parents had given him over the years. It just didn't feel right to sneak around behind their backs. It would be a lot easier if they lived together, but Harry wasn't sure if they were ready for that yet. They were still so young – Ginny hadn't long turned eighteen, after all. What was the rush?

In fact, looking at Ron and Hermione's recent trouble had only reinforced his belief that moving in together would be rushing things. Maybe if they weren't constantly under each other's feet then they wouldn't have got to the stage where one of them was moving out? As he fetched himself a spoon, Harry wondered if Ron had managed to find Hermione last night. He hadn't seen or heard anything from either of them since he had come in but he had been rather late. For all he knew, Hermione was at her parents' and Ron was standing outside, refusing to budge until she spoke to him.

Just as he sat down at the long table, Harry heard the lumbering footsteps of someone descending towards the kitchen. He looked up to see a half-asleep Ron staggering towards the opposite side of the table to him. As he threw himself into a chair, Ron scrubbed his eyes roughly and Harry saw that he was missing half of his left eyebrow, a sure sign that Ron had Apparated under pressure. Harry suppressed a grin. It didn't matter how hard he tried, Ron always splinched half an eyebrow if he Apparated himself with his mind elsewhere.

Although, Harry reasoned, he had had a potentially very stressful night, a point proved further when Ron's head dropped onto the table.

"Mornin'," the ginger lump in front of Harry grumbled.

"Good morning to you, too," Harry chuckled. Seeing Ron in the mornings always made him feel more awake. "Um… how did it go last-"

"Good morning, Harry."

Harry's eyes shot to the kitchen door and he saw Hermione walk in and smile at him brightly. It took him a couple of moments to remember that she did live here and that this was all perfectly normal.

"Hermione!" said Harry, trying to hide that he had any knowledge of the row the previous night. "Yeah, morning."

While Harry tried to silently get Ron's attention, Hermione put the kettle on and flicked her wand, sending four slices of bread into the toaster. With Ron now snoring softly on the table, Harry was left to work out what had happened on his own. There didn't seem to be any open hostility between the two of them which could only be an improvement. As Hermione started making tea for the three of them, Harry noticed that her neck had a faint, blurry look to it, something he recognised as a magically-concealed love bite.

Harry smiled as he spooned another mouthful of cereal into his mouth. At least they were on speaking terms.

The toast popped out of the toaster and a second flick of Hermione's wand sent it onto a plate and a third buttered it before sending over to the kitchen table. She placed a mug of tea in front of each of them and went to take a seat next to Ron, while Harry murmured his "thank you". Ron received a sharp poke in the side of the head from her and jumped up. He looked around wildly for a moment before grinning sheepishly and kissing Hermione on the cheek.

"Thanks, love."

"Just try not to fall asleep on it."

"And not get to eat the only meal you can cook without burning?"

"Be quiet."

Listening to their playful banter cemented Harry's belief that whatever Ron did last night must have worked and breathed a sigh of relief.

A yawning Ron stretched his arms high over his head, causing his joints to crack and Hermione to give him a look of disdain as she took a small bite of toast. Unaware that his table manners weren't to Hermione's taste, Ron, still leaning back in his chair, scratched his chest, causing his pyjama top to ride up and reveal a large purple mark just to the left of his hip bone. Harry ducked his head; the less he knew about their make-up process, the happier he was. It did make him wonder why they both seemed hell bent on eating each other though.

As the three of them ate breakfast in a companionable silence, Harry observed his friends for any sign of a rift between them, but he couldn't find one. It hadn't been like this for weeks, the affectionate looks, the casual touches… However, there was still a tense atmosphere around them that Harry couldn't find the cause of.

Ron gradually woke up and seemed happier than Harry could remember seeing him recently. Hermione, too, seemed at ease, but, every so often, Harry noticed that she would bite her lip nervously and glance at one of the two boys.

He continued watching them for signs of what had actually happened last night to make everything appear so content now. Even though they had their 'Not In Front of Harry' rule, they usually ended up breaking it without realising. He was grateful that they had thought of him as it was a real concern of his that they would forget him in light of their relationship, but they were so in love that they really couldn't hide it.

While they didn't ever snog in front of him or anything like that, some of the looks that Ron gave Hermione left nothing to the imagination. She wasn't much better though; Harry had lost count of the amount of times that Hermione had come home fuming after a bad day at work and had announced that she wanted a 'private word' with Ron upstairs. They would return well over an hour later with stupid grins on their faces.

Deciding that whatever had happened he'd be able to ask Ron about it later, Harry picked up his bowl and took it the sink. Behind him, he heard the tell-tale sounds of Ron and Hermione talking about him. He was so used to them having private and sometimes silent conversations without him that he didn't mind.

After he had washed his bowl by hand, taking more time than strictly necessary to give them chance to finish their conversation, Harry went to leave and start getting ready for work.

"Actually, Harry," Hermione called out as he stood up, "we wanted to talk you."

"Oh, right," said Harry mystified. "What's up?"

"Well…" she began. She looked to Ron for assistance. but he only offered her a half-hearted shrug.

The uneasy feeling in his stomach told him that they were about to tell him something big and Harry felt like a child that they were about to inform that they were getting divorced but it didn't mean that they loved him any less. Shaking the image of only seeing Ron at the weekend and Hermione talking him through the emotional upheaval, Harry turned his attention back to the two people sat in front of him.

"There's quite a lot to tell you actually," said Ron as though he had only just realised how much news they had. "Um… shall we do it in order?" he asked Hermione.

"Yes, that'd be best," Hermione agreed. "I suppose the first thing is that I'm going to stop with my parents until the weekend."

Harry tried to keep his face as blank as possible to hide his confusion. Her and Ron seemed to be getting on fine so why was she still moving into her parents'? And why did Ron not seem upset by it anymore? Hadn't he left the house last night with the sole aim of stopping her leaving? Remembering that Hermione moving out was probably meant to be news to him, Harry tried to look mildly surprised.

"Oh. Right. That's…" Harry coughed. "How come?"

"Oh, I just haven't seen them properly in ages so I thought I'd pay them an extended visit," Hermione answered, looking at her hands that were folded on the table in front of her.

Harry had to stop himself from arching his eyebrows. Everything about her was screaming that this was a blatant lie.

"Sounds nice," he said instead.

Ron, apparently sensing that Harry had spotted Hermione's untruthfulness, jumped in to avoid any further questions being asked. "And then at the weekend we're going to go away somewhere, together. Y'know, alone," he added unnecessarily.

Harry gave Ron a mock-confused look. "So you're saying I'm not invited?"

"No, Harry, it isn't like that-" Hermione cried, sounding horrified.

"Hermione, breath," laughed Harry. She gave him a dubious look so he explained, "I get the feeling I wouldn't want to be there anyway."

"Okay, because it isn't that we're excluding you," she continued slowly, as though trying and failing to find the right words. "It's just that you won't be there."

Harry was very tempted to point out the definition of 'exclusion' but she seemed genuinely worried that he would want to tag along with their dirty weekend so he didn't.

"Seriously, Hermione," he said kindly, "it's fine. Where are you going anyway?"

Ron looked thoughtful for a moment before replying. "Haven't decided yet."

"I hear Australia is nice this time of year," Harry deadpanned.

Ron laughed. "Pretty expensive if you don't have family over there though."

"Hmm. Not much to do either."

"No, once you've hunted down someone's parents to give them back their memories of a whole other life and their only daughter, Ayers Rock just seems like a large rock."

"Prats," muttered Hermione, rolling her eyes. "Well, that's the news that is more, um, immediate," she continued, trying to drag the conversation back to seriousness.

"There's more?" Harry exclaimed without thinking. Surely they weren't going to tell him what they were planning on doing on their weekend away…

To Harry's further dismay, their reactions did nothing to soothe his worries as Ron snorted and Hermione started looking more nervous.

"There's no easy way of saying this," started Hermione speaking quickly as though she may need to make a hasty exit, "and it has nothing to do with you and I'm really grateful for everything, but we feel that-"

"We're going to move out," interrupted Ron bluntly.

Harry felt his jaw drop but wasn't aware that he had allowed it to. It felt like the kitchen had suddenly been plunged under water; everything was in slow motion and all noise was highly distorted. Hermione shot Ron a furious look, but he merely shrugged at her and turned back to Harry.

He ripped his head out of the water and felt the world return to its normal speed.


"Not right now," Hermione said, still looking annoyed at Ron's abruptness. "In fact, not for a few months, but yeah…"


"Oh, Harry," she said, clearly upset, "this isn't because of anything you've done or-"

"It's all right," Harry reassured her with a small smile. "I'm just a bit shocked. I mean, I knew that this was going to happen someday I just didn't expect it to be… today."

"Well, like she said, it'll be months before it happens, mate," Ron reiterated sympathetically. "Turns out most landlords ask for payment from their tenants."

Ron's attempt at humour didn't seem to touch Hermione's worried expression. "I'm sorry, Harry."

"Why are you sorry?" laughed Harry incredulously. "It's not like we're never going to see each other again."

"Of course we will," nodded Ron, putting his arm around Hermione and giving her a small shake. "Now then, there's one more thing we have to tell you."

Again the atmosphere changed and Harry wracked his brains, trying to work out what else they were possibly going to tell him now. The way they were now holding hands under the table and trying to stop grinning goofily at each other told him it was good news, but he couldn't see what could've happened that was better than them getting their relationship back on track.

"If this has anything to do with your sex lives then I really don't want to know," Harry said with a grimace.

"Honestly, Harry-"

"Why? Jealous?"

Harry couldn't help but laugh at their simultaneous responses. "Sorry and no."

Seemingly unable to withhold their secret anymore, Ron, grinning from ear to ear, turned to Hermione. "Can we tell him now?" he asked excitedly.

"You probably should," chortled Harry, watching Ron acting like a child. "We do have work soon."

There was a split second where they looked at each other, both smiling widely, before Hermione turned to face Harry. She bit her lip and Harry saw a veil of tears cover her eyes.

"We're engaged!" she finally blurted out.

After everything he had seen and done in his short life, it took a lot to shock Harry, but this had him well and truly stumped. His eyes flicked from one beaming face to the other and tried desperately to make sense of the words he thought he had just heard.

"As in 'to be married?'" he croaked eventually.


"To each other?"

"No," Ron said sarcastically, "to Kreacher."

"Wow," he breathed, still unable to process their announcement.

Ron and Hermione.

The boy with the rat and the girl with the books.

His best friends.

The first family he had ever known.


Harry wasn't sure how long he stared at them but as their smiles started to slip, he realised that he hadn't actually reacted yet.

"Well, congratulations," he said, trying to make it sound sincere though his whole body still felt strangely numb.

Seemingly unable to hold it in anymore, Hermione darted around the table and Harry stood up just in time for her to throw herself into his arms.

"Thanks, Harry," she squealed, clearly over the moon.

As Hermione slowly cut off his circulation and he squeezed her back, Harry slowly began to realise what had just happened. Less than twenty four hours after a horrendous argument and what looked like a bleak end to their relationship, Ron had somehow managed to pull it back around by proposing.

To say he had never imagined this day would make Harry a liar but he felt none of the happiness he had expected. Instead, he was filled with a strange coldness that seemed worse when juxtaposed with Hermione's joy. Did they honestly think a ring and bit of paper would stop the troubles that had plagued them these past weeks? Was this why Hermione was stopping with her parents for a few days?

Over Hermione's shoulder, Harry glared at Ron, indicating that he was going to have a serious word with him at the next available opportunity. In response, Ron's smile slipped and he mouthed "what?", but Harry just shook his head and Hermione pulled away.

Still smiling though a few tears had escaped, Hermione seemed oblivious to Harry's less than enthusiastic mood. Seeing her so happy made him feel a bit nauseous. Harry knew that she loved Ron and had probably wanted to marry him, but he couldn't believe that she would agree to do so with their relationship so fragile. Surely the whole thing was going to end in heartbreak for them both? What the hell had Ron been thinking?

"Can you keep it quiet?" Hermione asked, dragging Harry back to their conversation. "We don't really want anyone else to know until we get back and we want to tell them ourselves and-"

"My lips are sealed," he cut in with the best attempt at a smile he could muster.

"Thanks," she grinned gratefully before returning to her usual business-like demeanour. "Right, I'm going to get ready."

"We've got ages yet!" exclaimed Ron aghast.

"Yes," Hermione said with a trademark eye roll, "but I want to look into places for this weekend before work, as well as what the weather is going to be like so we can pack accordingly."

She smiled sweetly at him before turning on the spot and heading for the stairs.

"Oh, Hermione," Ron called after her, "could you-"

"No, you're packing your own case," she replied without turning around.

Ron sighed heavily. "Fine, just don't plan on doing anything that involves-"

"Camping," she finished for him. She paused at the door and faced him as she opened it. "I know."

The pair of them shared a smile before Hermione left the room. Harry waited until he heard her reach the ground floor landing before rounding on Ron.

"What?" he asked, looking unsure of Harry's thunderous expression.

"When I said fix it," Harry hissed at him, "I didn't mean propose!"

"I didn't plan on proposing!" Ron fired back defensively.

Harry's eyebrows shot up. "And that makes it better?"

Ron opened his mouth to retort but seemed to think better of it and frowned. "What is your problem?"

"You two can't be in the same room as each other without resorting to violence," Harry answered, holding his hands up, "and now you're getting married?"

"We're better now."

Harry laughed derisively. "One morning without trying to kill each other and suddenly you're ready for a lifelong commitment?"

Ron's frown became more pronounced. "Why am I the one getting the bollocking for this?"

"Because Hermione is terrifying when she gets an idea in her head," Harry shouted, feeling the strangeness of the morning finally taking his toll on him, "and I'm guessing you're the one that popped the question?"

"Well, yeah," Ron mumbled.

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose under his glasses and tried to find the patience to get him through this bizarre conversation. He didn't really think Ron would be so reckless as to propose, nor that Hermione would be as naïve as to say yes, but all the evidence he could see was contradicting this. "Tell me you don't think the past few months are going to disappear just because you've got engaged."

When Harry looked up, he saw Ron looking as though he wanted to crawl into a hole in the ground. As an unspoken rule, neither of them ever spoke in depth about their respective relationships, but Harry needed to hear some kind of explanation. He cared too much about them both to watch them throw away everything they had by rushing into a marriage that neither of them was ready for.

"You've missed quite a bit of the story, mate," Ron said quietly.

"I know," Harry sighed, "but I can't see how even you two can go from storming out and moping in the kitchen to becoming engaged in one night."

"Are you going to let me explain?"

Harry stared at Ron, still sat in front of him, arching a brow at him.

"Yeah," he sighed as he sat back down in his chair. "Just give me a minute to process this. What happened when you left here last night?"

Ron took a deep breath and seemed to collect his thoughts. However, the longer they sat there, the more confused he appeared to be so he just ploughed on with his story.

"Well, I thought Hermione would be at work so I went to the ministry. I was just going to give her some flowers and ask her if she wanted to talk, y'know?"

"But instead you proposed," Harry said tonelessly.

Ron paid him no notice. "I went up to her office and she was talking to someone. Turns out it was Bale," said Ron, his expression darkening.

"You proposed in front of Bale?" Harry had been wrong. This story could become weirder.

"No," Ron replied looking disgusted. "I was just about to go in when I thought I saw them kissing-"

"What?" Harry blurted out. Kissing? Ron had caught Hermione kissing another bloke and he was sitting here talking about it? Ron himself was too caught up in his story to explain. Or maybe he just didn't want to dwell on this part, Harry thought bewildered.

"That's not important," Ron said dismissively. "So I sort of… um…"

"Proposed?" Harry asked weakly, still reeling from discovering that, not only had Hermione and Bale kissed, but that Ron didn't seem too bothered by it.

"Of course not," laughed Ron. "I stormed off, but then Hermione followed me and explained that Bale came on to her and that she told him to fuck off-"

"Hermione told him to fuck off?"

"Well, Hermione's version of 'fuck off'."

"I still can't see the proposal."

Ron frowned, apparently annoyed with his story being interrupted again now that he was getting in to the swing of it. "Wait for it. Well, I was still pretty angry about it so we got into this huge row."

"And then you proposed?"

"No. Stop interrupting."


Ron coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, I sort of called her a slag and she said she might sleep with another bloke-"

Just when Harry thought it couldn't get any worse…

"Tell me you didn't propose-"

"Of course I didn't do it then!" cried Ron indignantly. "After that, we sort of decided to split up."

Harry waited patiently for Ron to finish his story, but he just looked at Harry expectantly. He was completely at a loss for something to say. What had started off as a bad situation and somehow turned infinitely worse and Harry couldn't see for the life of him how the two of them had managed to turn it around.

"And then I proposed," Ron finished awkwardly.

"Then-" Harry gawped at him. "And she said yes?" he exclaimed in disbelief.

"Yes," said Ron as though it was the most obvious answer in the world.

Harry shook his head in disbelief. "You two deserve each other."


The two of them stood in an uncomfortable silence, both of them trying to get their heads around the events of the past few hours. Harry was confused and shocked by a lot of what Ron had just told him, but one thing definitely stood out above the rest.

"Ron," Harry began delicately, "when you said you saw her kissing Bale…"

Ron's expression hardened immediately. "He kissed her," he growled. "She didn't kiss him back."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. If either of them cheated on the other he couldn't see them being forgiven, not to mention it putting him a difficult position. He had always tried to stay neutral in all of their fights, but if one of them ever hurt the other that badly, he would have a hard time trying not to lay into the one who had done the cheating.

Although, if he knew his friends as well as he thought he did, he couldn't see either of them ever being unfaithful. Even when they weren't speaking to each other, if they were in the same room as each other, then there was only one place that their focus was going to be.

Well, unless in that same room there was also a book or a Cannons match on the wireless, but no one was perfect.

"So, Bale really was trying to split you two up?" Harry asked, unable to meet Ron's eyes. He started tracing the grains in the wooden table.

"Well, trying to shove his tongue down her throat is hardly giving us his blessing," glowered Ron.

Harry looked up to see that Ron was now the one unable to make eye contact. Although it wasn't from guilt like it had been for him; it was from trying to control his temper.

"Shit… I never…" Harry began, having no idea what he was meant to say. "Ron, I am so sorry."

"S'alright," he shrugged.

"No, I-I had no idea! I thought- He seemed all right!" Harry spluttered. Ron didn't appear to want to comment and Harry was still too shocked to add anything else.

The silence continued to swell until Harry couldn't take it any longer.

"Is he still alive?"

Ron shrugged again, clearly not caring either way.

"I just thought you were, y'know," Harry said quietly, "being jealous and stuff."

Ron laughed bitterly. "No one else believed me either."

The quiet hurt in Ron's voice cut Harry like a knife. He was his best friend and Harry hadn't even attempted to see everything from his point of view. It was like when he thought that Malfoy had been a Death Eater and no one listened to him. Harry could still remember the frustration that even his friends wouldn't listen to him.

"That's not the point," Harry said, shaking his head. "I should've seen it."

"Are you seriously turning this into a Harry Potter Guilt Trip?" Ron asked harshly.

"No, I just-"

"Drop it, Harry."


"Fine!" Ron exploded. "It pisses me off that my best mate thought I was stupid enough to make the biggest mistake of my life twice!"

Harry looked down and had the good grace to look as ashamed as he felt. He had been so sure that Bale was a decent guy… Admittedly, he hadn't spent a whole lot of time with him, but when he had spoken to Bale he seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic about improving werewolf rights and he could be pretty funny. His jokes had been at Ron's expense occasionally, but he had never vicious… had he?

He was so used to seeing the other Weasleys and his friends from Hogwarts having a laugh that Harry hadn't thought twice. Now, looking back, he realised that Bale had only ever made jokes about Ron if Hermione was also present. He hadn't been joking around; he had been highlighting Ron's faults.

Somewhere under his shame and an over-whelming sense of stupidity, Harry also couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Bale. Anyone who had met Ron and Hermione knew that she was well aware of his faults and loved him for them for some reason. He had never stood a chance.

"You're doing my paperwork for the next month," Ron said forcefully.

Harry sighed. "Fair play."

"And my washing."


Harry looked up to see Ron was clearly thinking of other ways he could atone for believing in him. He couldn't help but feel a cold sweat coming on when mischief flashed across Ron's eyes. It had been happening more and more frequently since he had started working with George.

"I'm going to mention the 'Eyes as Green as a Fresh Pickled Toad' song in front of George the next time I see him," he said, barely able to hold back his smirk. "It's been a while since I've heard him sing it. I hope he hasn't forgotten the words."

Harry opened his mouth to protest but closed it again when he saw Ron raise his eyebrows. He really had to get him to stop working at that shop.

"I s'pose I deserve that," Harry finally muttered.

His stomach sinking when he saw Ron appeared to still be considering more punishments, Harry waited for what else Ron could possibly think of. Slowly, the tips of his ears turned red and Ron rubbed the back of his neck nervously.

"I'm going to need a best man as well."

Harry froze and gaped at Ron, who gave him a nervous smile in return.

"I - erm," Harry coughed, "I think I can do that."

"Good," nodded Ron seriously, "because Malfoy is on holiday that week and McLaggen is getting his hair done."

Harry laughed and tried to comprehend what was happening. His best friends were getting married while he still felt like he had only just left school. He was going to be Ron's best man, Ron, who had four brothers who would happily fill the role.

But Ron had chosen him, despite him putting his best friend through hell over the years.

"Thanks," Harry muttered, trying to somehow convey his gratitude. "Y'know, for asking."

Ron made a strange movement that was halfway between a shrug and a nod. "Well, even if you have got terrible judgment you're still… y'know…"

"Yeah," Harry swallowed. "Yeah, I do."

Even though they had been the closest of friends for over eight years now, they had never really been comfortable with expressing any kind of fondness towards each other. This conversation had veered dangerously close to outright affection and both of them were shuffling awkwardly as the kitchen filled with a sense of unease.

"So I take it you approve?"

Ron had asked the question jokingly, but Harry could detect a sense of genuine concern behind his half-smile. It was then that he realised that, since they had announced their engagement, Harry hadn't really shown any real support for his friends.

"Shit- of course I do!" Harry laughed shakily. "I was just a bit shocked. I thought you were going to split up and now this…"

"We would've got back together," Ron said automatically. Harry was taken aback by the fierce look on Ron's face as he said it and he felt even worse for ever doubting that he and Hermione could go the distance.

In fact, looking at him now, Harry felt almost disgusted with himself for not having more faith in Ron. He wasn't the child who he had shared his sweets with on a train, or even the teenager who he had helped him make up his dream diary for Divination, but an almost entirely different person. He had self-confidence, could control his temper and had matured into a fine Auror and a truly amazing person. For what could have been the fiftieth time in his life, Harry wondered how Ron could ever feel over-shadowed by him when he was just as good as, and possibly even better, than him.

"I know. I- I think I've always sort of knew it would end up like this," Harry said quietly. He ran a hand through his scruffy hair and felt his face break into a wide smile. "Listen, mate – congratulations. I mean it," he said sincerely before adding with a chuckle, "Only you could pull this off."

Harry held out his hand and Ron shook it, smiling with a distinct look of pride on his face.

"Cheers," he grinned. There was an awkward pause and the two men made uncomfortable faces at each other before pulling each other into a short hug, only the second of their entire friendship.

"Having an affair already?"

Harry and Ron sprung apart and spun around to see Hermione leaning against the door frame with a smirk playing about her lips.

"No, we're just-" Ron hastily said. "Weren't we?" he added, turning to Harry.

"Yeah," he nodded, having no idea what he was agreeing to.

In response, Hermione simply continued to fight the smile trying to creep its way onto her face. "I can go back upstairs if-"

"All right, all right," Ron cut in, rolling his eyes, "we get it."

"Very funny," Harry added.

"What?" asked Hermione innocently. "You two make a lovely couple. In fact-"

But before she could finish her sentence, Ron had crossed the kitchen in two strides and picked her up in a fireman's lift.

"RON!" Hermione screamed. "Put me down!"

Instead of heeding his girlfriend – fiancée, Harry reminded himself - Ron simply laughed.

"Hear something, Harry?" he asked as Hermione started punching his back.

Harry raised his hands in surrender. "Don't get me involved."

"If you don't put me down, Ron Weasley-" Hermione began in a threatening voice before Ron cut her off by slapping her arse.

Realising that this was going to end in an argument or, well… something uglier than an argument, Harry decided to grab the last piece of toast off of Ron's plate and try and sneak past them and out of the door. He heard the scuffle escalate and, when he reached the door, he turned back to see that one of his predictions had been right.

Still with Ron holding her around her thighs, Hermione had managed to pull herself up and was holding herself upright on Ron's shoulders. The two of them shared a look full of the love and challenge that filled their relationship and that Harry would never fully understand even if he spent the rest of his life around them. It was then that it struck Harry that he probably would.

As Hermione ducked her head to give Ron a kiss that he eagerly received, Harry wondered if they even remembered he was still in the room. With a final chuckle and a shake of his head, Harry kicked the door open and backed his way out of the room as his best friends broke their own 'Not In Front of Harry' rule once more.

A/N 2: So that was my first attempt at a proper grown-up story with a real plot and everything. I'm so proud that I'm going to print it off and stick it on my fridge next to my painted hand print.

A stupendous thank you to Anne Mary Ellen, LillyMay77, wanderinon, tashrusms, wazlib88, StephMcG, HilaryWeasley, fanohermione, Inkteardrops, mkoala, Jordan202, AlwaysLily, spewmate, ObsessedRHShipper, ozzel1, smilelino, Joanne Blacke rh, JustAnotherGuy100, LilAl260, Jose, Fred, MonkeyBrains, RonKing, Cupid's Heart of Gold, master999, Sarden, Sandrinha2, hprbdfan, RyanRow02, fixed delusion, asyuraniel, napchic, Memorandom, iyamei, selene86, Jo2012, theendofthefairytale, wrackspurt314, thesecondshelf, AlwaysKatie7, nirdoodle, muggleindenial28, jennimiley, Zalini, chandlerbing555, Dobby357, earthlover8815, fihcan, gurrumaiss, JessicaLaurenWealsey, kaill, Majorjewls, md17, RainySun, weasleyking93, Zibb, BayleeNicole, bootsm, cole246, colombiangal, Harrypotterandpercyjacksonfa n, heebeejeebees,JustYourVoice, katemch7, love-nectar, LunaZola, MoronTodai, merderfan93, monroefan74, montgomery99, neuroticmess, Padesoy, Poppicake, ranDeeemachelle, reader91, redandgoldlions, reyes000, sheridan19, Soxylady, Suelias, susieQ41, thegirlinredandgold, TheseWords-MyDiary, TisforTatty, and various anons and guests for reviewing, alerting and favouriting the above scribble.

You have made me laugh, vastly improved bad days, regaled me with awesome stories, politely pointed out the flaws in my writing and pushed me to get better at this. That's right; at the time of writing there has not been one full-on flame for the entire story. Thank you all for being lovely, intelligent and kind even when you didn't like a chapter or scene. It has been a pleasure speaking to you all.

So an injured wrist and a very close call with a speeding car later, this story is now over and, contrary to what I believed, it hasn't killed me. Result.

I hope you enjoyed at least a couple of words of this. Or maybe even the odd sentence.

Oh! And don't forget to vote SSY in the Romione Awards! I'll lower taxes and stuff if I win! Take a badge and a leaflet!

And yes, this will get a sequel but not for a few months yet.

In a bit.