Glaciers have melted to the sea
I wish the tide would take me over
I've been down on my knees
And you just keep on getting closer

~ Crystallized, The XX

Epilogue: Surfacing

I awake in the place I have been desperate to inhabit for years: Ron's arms.

Tendrils of light filter through the curtains as the afternoon sun makes its way to the west side of number twelve Grimmauld Place. Beads of sweat glisten like diamonds scattered over Ron's skin as I watch the sun play across his chest. My fingers glide over the contours of his muscles, their path lubricated by the perspiration our coupling bodies created.

I count the freckles that dust his frame through smoke rings that puff lazily from the dragon's snout; finally satiated, it slumbers peacefully, for now... I let out a satisfied sigh; it was inevitable, I think as I squeeze my thighs together, my muscles deliciously sore. A dam is only as strong as it's weakest point, and when Ron and I snogged in the hallway for the first time, passion rippled through the foundation, creating hundreds of tiny cracks that marred the smooth walls. After that, my brain and body were in a constant state of strife; one desperate to repair the damage, the other wielding a sledgehammer.

I couldn't function; I could barely breathe.

But as I lie here, clothed only in the warmth of Ron's arms, my limbs are relaxed, my lungs expand with a full breath for the first time in days, and my head is clear: The inferno that had savaged my body burnt away a tangled city teaming with confusion, anxiety and desperate longing. The landscape is uncluttered now, and ready for regrowth.

My eyes reluctantly leave the paradise of Ron's body and find the face of the grandfather clock. Half past two, the hands tell me. Its soft ticks resonate like angry fists pounding on the bedroom door; Deatheaters, Horcruxes, war and turmoil are all desperate to barge in and wrench us from our bliss-induced reverie. And as each second passes, Harry's return looms closer.

The lights have suddenly flicked on in the warehouse of my head, and my brain begins to frantically sort boxes that crashed from shelves during the tornado Ron's hands and lips had created. Harry: the thought of him pricks tiny holes in my heart, and guilt begins to seep through my chest; I broke that promise after all. But the guilt that is pooling in my stomach is not derived from our actions; nothing could corrupt something that pure. My conscience is being plagued by the fact that I feel we will have to keep this from him, at least for a little while, until things get more settled, or at least until after we infiltrate the Ministry.

The Ministry... A new thought topples over the last: tomorrow is my turn to go. Twinges of anxiety begin to creep up my spine. Considering how adamant Ron was with Harry about the dangers of him leaving Grimmauld Place, I can only imagine how our conversation will go, whenever he decides to bring it up. My face begins to warm and a smile spreads over it when I think about the chivalry he will bestow on me. Although nothing he can say will stop me from going, and a impassioned row is inevitable, I will love every attempt he makes to convince me to stay.

At the thought of Ron, I abandon my brain's desolated warehouse and I slowly trickle back into the room.

"We should get dressed," I whisper, lifting my head off his chest. A disappointed sigh paints a frown across his lips. I lean in and try to kiss it away. He opens his mouth and my tongue ventures inside, searching every corner. I taste desire, and immediately crave a second helping. Ron's arms wrap around me and he rolls me onto my back, giving more weight to the kiss. I want to wrap my limbs around him and fuse our bodies together once more but I know I can't.

"Ron," I groan. "It's late; we have to get up before Harry gets back." But his lips immediately begin a counter argument on my neck, and it's very persuasive. I press my palms into Ron's chest and try to push him away, but he grabs my wrists and pins my arms above my head, trapping me.

"Hey!" I protest, while trying to bite back a treasonous smile.

"You're not getting away that easy," Ron says with a sly grin that makes my temperature spike. His mouth descends on mine, and the lights go out in my head once more. His kiss travels like quicksilver through my veins, turning my body against me. My flesh seems insatiable, and I begin to squirm and buck under him. I try to pull my arms free, but not to escape; I desperately want to touch him.

Ron's kisses are summer rain on my skin; his wet lips bringing life to the desert of my body. I want his river to flow over me, filling every crack and crevice. And slowly it does; the trickle becomes a gush and soon he is a waterfall; an overflow of passion douses my body and the desert begins to bloom. I kiss him fervently as I writhe beneath him, but his grip is strong. I am sinking deeper into a sea of lust and, if I stay under much longer, I am likely never to resurface; the idea of drowning becomes euphoric.

But all too soon Ron's mouth begins to quiet; thundering kisses that woke the sleeping dragon turn to a whisper, and then are silenced altogether, when he pulls away. I stare at his lips as if they are keys that dangle just out of reach as I strain in captivity. His tongue darts out and runs over his bottom lip; he looks like a lion ready to feast on his prey.

Ravage me, I beg.

But Ron does something completely unexpected, and even more disappointing; in a blink his wonton expression becomes cool indifference.

"So it's half past two now," he says matter-of-factly, as if I am a stranger asking for the time. "Harry usually goes to sleep around eleven. Do you think you will be able to keep your hands off me until then, Miss Granger?" The smugness is his voice is so thick he practically chokes on it. I wish he would, I think. Of course he had to get the jab in; he couldn't let it go. I go from infatuated to infuriated in one rapid heartbeat. I huff and roll my eyes in the most obvious way I possibly can.

"And what makes you think something is going to happen after Harry goes to bed?" I ask haughtily, but my current ensnarement seems to take the power out of my words. He releases me and sits up, still straddling my legs.

"I don't, I think something will happen much sooner..." He guiles.

"Is that so?" I sit up to meet him, craning my neck slightly. My eyes breathe fire as I lick my lips and conjure the most sultry smile I possibly can. I lean in closer and feel his exhale on my face; it's ripe with tension. My fingers trace licentious messages over his chest as I open my mouth, my lips pleading to be kissed. And just before we connect I shove him hard and he goes toppling backward; the back of his head hits the footboard with a low thud and a curse shoots through his lips.

"That's for being a smug prat," I say as I begin to scramble off the bed. But I'm not quick enough, and I feel Ron's arms wrap around my middle, thwarting my escape. I squeal with giddiness, like a child being pushed on a swing for the first time. Take me higher, I think, I want to be back among the stars...

I collapse on top of him and we allow ourselves to get pulled under by the familiar current, snogging lazily as the clock ticks louder. My arms are pythons, wanting to devour him as if he's my last meal. I kiss his cheeks, his nose, his eyelids... but as I draw back to gaze at him I know my thirst will never be quenched.

"Ron..." His name is velvet brushing over my lips. I sigh, not really knowing what I want to say to him, because I want to say everything to him, and not only with words, but with my body, and with my soul.

"I love you so much, Hermione," Ron says as I stare down at him through glassy eyes. "And every second I spend not touching you will be bloody torture." And my soul answers back by dropping a tear onto his cheek.

"Torture," I repeat, barely a whisper. And I kiss him some more. "But nothing compared to what I've been through for so long." Ron frowns; a shadow of guilt steals the light from his eyes. His lips part, and I feel an apology looming; an apology I do not deserve - that was not the intention of my words. I shake my head and press a finger to his mouth to prevent its escape. "I didn't mean it like that," I say. "And what's done is done. All that matters now is this. All that matters is that I love you, more than anything." And I replace my hand with my lips, sealing in the words.




Tick, tick, tick... The clock tisks disapprovingly, and I groan into Ron's mouth. It takes all of our combined strength to untangle ourselves before I roll towards the edge of the bed.

As I stand on solid ground I feel like I am surfacing; the air feels crisp, the world comes into sharp focus, and my surroundings seem more vivid. No longer do I see muted tones of blue and grey; my eyes drink in every colour of the rainbow, each one ripe and glowing.

I am the same, but different; transformed, yet perfectly preserved.

I am whole, but also a piece of something greater.

The room is saturated in melancholy as Ron and I dress; our bodies already mourning the loss of the other. I watch him pull his shirt over his head and immediately thirst for his milky skin. Yes, this will be torture, I think. Gloriously sweet torture...

I step in front of the mirror and begin to tie up my hair. Ron appears from behind, his arms wrap around me, and his lips find my exposed neck. He breathes me in, my knees suddenly become unsure of themselves, and I deflate. He rests his chin on my shoulder, and we bask in our reflection. For a moment feel like I am standing in front of the Mirror of Erised; what I have been wanting for years I finally possess. But I realize that if I truly was standing in front of the magical mirror I would be seeing so much more: My parents, with their memories restored, looking at me with love and pride; Harry, safe and happy, the weight of the Wizarding world finally off shoulders; and a bright future, free prejudice and war.

But as Ron's placid blue eyes meet mine I feel like I am halfway there. And with the shroud of uncertainty finally lifted from our friendship we will glow in the new-found light, and take strength from the bond we have forged.

Together we are stronger. And together we will fight until the end- no, until the beginning of something new.




End Note

09/19/2012: HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMIONE! My first Romione fan fiction finished and posted as complete, and on Hermione's 33rd birthday no less!

Thank you's must go out to Jesrod82 for taking on this story and being the most wonderful Beta reader ever! Her finishing touches made a huge difference and I will always be in debt to her for her time and support. I can't thank you enough, Jes!

I also need to thank everyone who has been following this story since part one. I have been blown away by the response this story has received and I cannot thank my readers enough for taking the time to review. The support of readers via favorites/follows/reviews and PMs has been amazing and has kept me motivated to write.

And yes, I do plan on writing more. So if you would like to read more from me, make sure you put me on alert. My next work of fan fiction will be a Grintson (Emma Watson/Rupert Grint) fic so it will be posted over at Archive of Our Own. You can check my account there from time to time but I recommend following me on Tumblr and Twitter to get updates on my writing.

I'll be posting some deleted scenes from Undertow and some drabbles on Tumblr so please give my blog a follow (especially if you love Romione/Grinston).

Details on where to find me online can be found on my profile page. I look forward to see you all on the interwebs! Thank you again everyone!