They lounged next to each other on the couch, Hermione's head on Ron's shoulder, and his arm around her. He kissed the top of her head as she played with the chain of her necklace. She sighed deeply, trying to wrap her head around everything that was happening.
They were getting married. In two weeks.
Hermione couldn't believe it. But then again, as a young girl, she always imagined that she would end up with Ron. He was her crush for several years when she was younger. He was the boy she would dream about. Of course, when they had finally expressed their feelings for each other, their actual relationship had begun, and ended very quickly after that. Then Hermione had gone back to the past, two decades earlier, and she had fallen in love with Sirius.
She could still vividly remember what had happened after she came back. It had been utter pandemonium; nobody had known what was going on or what had happened. On top of that, Hermione had a slight hysterical breakdown and it took her hours before she could even talk to anybody. Finally, after a calming draught and several deep breaths, Hermione gave a very long explanation clarifying the nature of her time travel. They seemed to partially understand what had happened. But they still had questions.
Hermione didn't want to tell them anything specific about where she had gone, and what had happened to her. She just couldn't put that on Harry, and they'd probably think she was crazy. She could remember them prying at her, trying to figure it out...
Hermione sat on the couch in the Burrow, her heart still racing as her eyes flicked to the people around her. Ron sat to her right, studying her intently while Ginny sat to her left, watching Harry as he paced the floor in front of them. Mrs. Weasley had shooed everyone else so that just the four of them could talk. Hermione had just gulped down a calming draught, which seemed to help a lot, but she was still on edge.
"I just don't understand," Harry muttered, "How does someone unintentionally perform time travel?"
Hermione sighed, "The best explanation I have is that it had something to do with my extended exposure to time travel back in our third year."
"Though you came back," Ginny said, "We're just happy that you're okay."
Hermione smiled, "You guys must have been worried sick."
The three of them all nodded simultaneously. For a moment there was silence, then Ron spoke up. "But... where did you go?"
Hermione felt her throat constrict a little. There was also a slight pang in her heart as she spoke, "You wouldn't believe it if I told you."
"Well it was in the past," Harry said, studying her, "How far back?"
"Look," Hermione began quietly, "It's really confusing, and in the beginning I wondered if it was all a crazy dream or something. I don't think I should tell you guys."
"Tell us, Hermione," Ginny said, taking her hand, "We won't think you're mad or anything."
Hermione shook her head, tears filling her eyes as she looked at Harry and saw James. "I can't," She murmured.
In response, she felt Ron put an arm around her and move to speak quietly in her ear, "It will help if you talk about it, Hermione. We're here for you. You can tell us." She hadn't remembered the last time Ron had spoken so kindly to her, but that was the motivation she needed.
Hermione took a shaky breath and fixed her eyes on the beaten up coffee table in front of her. "When I initially arrived, I quickly realized that I was at Hogwarts." She looked up and saw the confused expressions of her friends, "Th-then I found out that the year was 1977."
The room grew silent. Hermione continued, "After I realized that I wasn't coming back anytime soon, I talked to Dumbledore." She studied her hands intently, "I've spent the past nine months going to Hogwarts in 1977."
Harry had stopped moving. He just stood there, looking at her with an awestruck expression. Hermione spoke again after several silent moments, "Do you think I'm mad yet?"
This seemed to bring everyone out of their dazed state. Ginny shook her head, "No, we don't. It sort of makes sense, actually. If you've been missing from this time for about nine months. It fits."
She felt tremendous relief in the fact that Ginny believed it.
Harry spoke next, and she knew what he was going to say before he even said it. "Wasn't that when my parents went to Hogwarts?"
Hermione nodded slowly. She looked to Ginny and Ron, seeing the questions and ideas in their bewildered expressions. When she found the strength to look up at Harry, his eyes were lit up brightly, painfully similar to Lily's eyes.
"So... you knew my parents?" Harry asked cautiously.
Ginny interrupted before Hermione had a chance to respond, "I'm sure Hermione avoided them, Harry. It's not like she would have become their best friend or something."
Harry was watching her avidly. "Well..." Hermione exhaled, feeling the tension rise again, "I tried to avoid them, but it didn't really work out..."
"What happened?" Harry asked.
Hermione was suddenly struck by the comedy of the situation. It was just so strange and unreal. She turned to address Harry with a slight smile, "I sort of... facilitated your parents relationship."
"What?" Ron asked, shocked.
"Like, you got them together?" Ginny was just as shocked.
"How?" Ron asked again.
Hermione was still looking at Harry, "I wanted your mum to go out with your dad, and... she wanted me to go out w-with Sirius. So I told her that I would go on a date with Sirius if she went on a date with your dad." Hermione realized that she had just revealed what she intended to keep secret forever, but she trudged on through the discomfort. "After that, your parents just started dating."
"Wait," Ron mumbled, "You went on a date with Sirius?"
Hermione's face went beet red as she felt another pang in her chest. She was sure that they thought she was crazy. They were just too kind to point it out.
Ron was still looking at her, slightly confused and slightly horrified.
"Yeah," Hermione finally said in a very quiet voice.
Harry didn't seem to care all that much about the idea of her going out with Sirius. "So you were friends with them?" He asked, his face seeming surprisingly happy.
She nodded, "James, Lily, Sirius, Remus... and Peter."
"You could've changed it." Harry was ambiguous in his question, but she understood what he was talking about.
"No, I didn't want to mess with time, and everything's okay now. If I had tried to change things in the past, who would've known what it could do to the future."
"She's right, Harry," Ginny spoke up, then turned to Hermione, "We're glad you're okay, and it's good to have you back."
Hermione felt her eyes tear up as she hugged Ginny. Harry still watched her with a slightly angry, and slightly awestruck expression. Ron was already watching Hermione as she turned to hug him. She had a feeling that she would be hearing a lot of questions about Sirius from now on...
After that conversation, things had cleared up a little. Hermione probably slept for a two days straight while she tried to deal with all the changes in her life. At first, it was really hard to move forward, and she would often wake up in the middle of the night screaming and crying about Sirius. She never explicitly told any of her friends how close she had really been to Sirius, but they seemed to know.
Eventually, Ron started playing a larger role in her life. One day, over lunch, Ginny told Hermione that Ron was still in love with her. At first, it felt wrong, but she soon began to realize that she needed to move on. Sirius was dead and he would have wanted her to be with someone who made her happy. Someone her own age, who wasn't prone to falling through magical veils and dying.
Ron would help Hermione when she couldn't help herself. He would talk her down when she had nightmares, and hold her hand when she felt lonely. He was no Sirius, but that quickly became insignificant when she realized that she could be happy again if she was with him. He knew that she had been deeply attached to Sirius, and he gave her space when she needed it.
Now, as they sat on the couch together, Hermione was happy again. They were officially engaged, and soon to be married. It had been two years since she had returned from 1977.
"I love you," Ron mumbled, taking her hand to examine the ring on her finger.
"I love you too," Hermione smiled quaintly.
They sat on the couch for a while, but their silence was suddenly interrupted when the fireplace burned green and Harry Flooed in. "Sorry to intrude," Harry said, excitement lacing his voice, "but I've got something I have to show you." He was smiling brightly, looking down at what appeared to be a picture in his hand.
Hermione sat up and made room for Harry on the couch beside her. He sat down and held the photo to his chest. "So you know how Ginny and I have been cleaning out Grimmauld Place?"
Hermione and Ron nodded.
"Well, we were looking through Sirius' old stuff, and I found this," he extended his hand to give Hermione the picture, "I thought you would like to have it."
She held the picture in her hands, a small, teary smile growing on her face as she looked at it. It was obviously taken in 1977 at Hogwarts, the people in it moved, indicating that it wasn't a normal muggle photo.
In the photo, Sirius was standing on the left, it was the young, beautiful Sirius that Hermione had loved. His arm was around Hermione. She gasped when she recognized her own face. She must have not noticed the picture being taken. She was smiling as Sirius kissed her temple and she spoke with Remus, who stood to the right of her. Next to Remus, was James, resembling Harry. James was talking to someone to his right, but he also seemed to be looking towards the camera, smiling at whomever was taking the photo. She guessed that it was Lily, since he was looking so fondly towards the camera. As Hermione inspected the picture closer, she decided that Peter must have been ripped out of the photo, because of the frayed edges next to James. The group of them was walking around the Black Lake. They looked so happy.
"Oh, Harry..." Hermione felt her voice crack.
"Look at the back," Harry said.
Hermione turned it over and saw what she recognized as Lily's handwriting. It read, 'Sirius, Hermione, Remus, James, and Peter at the Black Lake. April, 1977'.
"I kind of imagine that this was Sirius' favorite photo," Harry said solemnly.
"This is amazing," Hermione whispered, turning the photo over again so she could closely examine it. "Are you sure you want me to keep it?"
"Yeah," Harry said simply, "I have plenty of pictures of my parents, and you're actually in this one, you deserve to keep it."
Hermione chuckled happily, "I guess this is finally our proof that I wasn't making the whole thing up."
Harry and Ron both laughed with her. Hermione was still smiling as she leaned her head into Ron's shoulder and took Harry's hand. She held the picture tightly in her hand, examining the way Sirius smiled as he kissed her head, the way Remus looked happy and young, the way James had a striking resemblance to Harry. It was perfect.
A/N: Are you as terribly sad as I am to see this end? I mean, I can't believe it. I've been working on this story forever.
It's been wonderful. Your reviews, favorites, and follows have kept this story going and I would thank each and every one of for it. If only I had the time to list all of you guys off...
As for the ending, I know the whole Ron/Hermione pairing thing may have come as a bit of a surprise, but I've been planning it for a while, and I quite like the pairing. I hope you don't hate me for putting them together in the end.
Now that this story is over, you may or may not want to read some of my other stuff. If you do, Chapter two is up for my marriage law fic, you can read that if you'd like. Also, I've been planning another time travel story for a while now. It's Remus/Hermione and it's really unique compared to most time-turners. It takes place after the Marauders have graduated Hogwarts. I don't want to give too much away, but there is also an interesting situation concerning Hermione. I haven't posted it yet, but you guys should put me on author alert if you want to read it when I do get around to publishing.
So, that's all I have to say. Thanks so much for reading.