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“Cripes mate!” Ron exclaimed as he opened the door to see Harry. A smile broke out on both of the men’s faces as they grabbed each other in a fierce hug. “Come in!” Ron broke the embrace first to usher his best friend into the flat he shared with his wife, Hermione.

“It’s so great to see you Ron. I’m sorry about Saturday. I didn’t realize…..”Harry trailed off – not knowing what to say. The shock of it all still hadn’t worn off.

“Harry – no need to apologize – well to me anyway – it was just a shock to see you home after all this time.” Ron gestured for Harry to sit in the armchair by the fire. “The family knew you were coming – none of us realized that you’d arrive on one of the biggest days of the year!”

Harry blushed. He was dreading the moment he seen Ron again; especially after his grand entrance on Saturday. But thankfully, Ron was still Ron and welcomed Harry back as if he had never had disappeared for nearly five years.

“Want a butterbeer?” Ron asked and got up to fetch them from the kitchen when Harry gave a nod of his head. Harry looked around the living room of the flat. It was so strange to know that Ronald Weasley, best mate, was on his own and married to his other best mate Hermione. You could tell Hermione ruled the roost in this place – her touches were everywhere. Books were strewn across the coffee table, notes with spells beside them and fresh yellow and pink flowers on the mantle above the fireplace. Not many people knew this about Hermione; she loved to have fresh flowers in every room of her home. But as Harry looked closer he could see touches of Ron. The broomstick propped up in the corner by the entrance hall, the latest copies of which broomstick and quidditch weekly mixed in with Hermione’s books.

Harry could hear Ron moving around in the kitchen and decided to get a better look around the living room his friends now shared. Moving over to the fireplace, he examined a grouping of photos on the mantle surrounding Hermione’s flowers. In the first, a very happy Ron and Hermione looked out at him and waved on their wedding day before turning back to gaze at each other lovingly. Harry had so wanted to be there for both of them. Ron had sent an owl asking him to be his best man at the wedding but Auror commitments and the need for staying undercover meant Harry had to turn him down. It was one of the hardest things Harry had ever had to do but it was done out of the need to keep those he cared for the most safe.

Next was a picture of Ron in action at a Quidditch match. After finally gaining the confidence that everyone around him knew he had at being the keeper for the Gryffindor team in their fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts, Ron went on to be keeper for his favorite Quidditch Team, the Chudley Cannons. Two years ago, during the height of the war, the Quidditch Cup had been played in nearby France. Harry had proudly gone, albeit undercover in his invisibility cloak to cheer on his best friend as he played keeper for the national team.

Harry’s eyes were roaming over the sea of other pictures - Hermione and her parents in the jungles of the Amazon, the Weasley family portrait - when his eyes zoned in on one particular. It was of Ginny and Hermione sitting on the big, comfy couch at the Burrow. Both were laughing and waving to the camera, but on Ginny’s knee was a small black haired baby. Still chubby with baby fat he squealed and bounced in her arms. Harry felt like someone had just punched him in the stomach.

Harry sighed heavily… seeing Ginny as a mother was the last thing he expected when he returned from war. He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to happen. The entire time he was gone he hoped that she hadn’t found anyone else to replace him. Harry recalled the jealousy he felt when Ginny had started seriously dating in his sixth year and of course the conflict of the new feelings he had felt for her. She was his best mate’s younger sister after all.

Harry heard Ron approaching from the kitchen and turned. “Oy!” Ron said, setting two full mugs of butterbeer on the table near where they had first sat when Harry arrived. “Here we go. Two cool, crisp butterbeers.” Ron looked over to where Harry stood. “Harry – what’s up? You look like you just lost your best mate – which you haven’t because I’m right here!” Ron chuckled and Harry smiled slightly at his attempt at humour. Moving over to the couch Harry picked up his mug and drank deeply. It had been nearly 3 years since his last cold butterbeer. While on Auror duty he hadn’t been allowed to have anything except what was standard issue from the ministry. And that had resulted in pumpkin juice and water and in no particular order.

“Ron – you must think I’m the world biggest prat.” Harry said quietly, setting his mug down. “First I get Ginny pregnant, abandon her and everyone else around me, disappear for near 5 years, and miss both of my best friends’ wedding!

Ron’s mouth opened and closed – this what not what he had expected Harry to say. “Geez Harry – you are a prat of course, possibly not the world’s biggest one though. Sure I wish you had been around for the wedding and for Ginny of course – but you were saving the world!! You didn’t know that after Voldemort was defeated that the Death Eaters would continue their campaign. None of us could have forseen it. And if you could have – you would have made it to the wedding. As for Ginny and James… well we all told her to Owl you when she first found out and told us – but she refused.” Ron took a long swig of his drink and set it down, waiting for Harry to say something.

Harry was speechless – being defended for his actions; especially regarding Ginny. “She refused?” Harry couldn’t believe it. After all they shared and planned for after the war – but then that was before he left her without a word of goodbye

“Yeah – even with Hermione and Mum and even Dad telling her to find you – let you know you were going to be a father but she was adamant. At first she was just angry with you for disappearing on her and not saying goodbye. But then that grew into a fear of you being distracted and getting hurt doing your auror duties. Then she was just afraid that the Death Eaters would target her if they found out she was pregnant with Harry Potter’s child.” Ron chuckled at the shocked expression on his friends face. Harry wasn’t accustomed to Ron speaking his mind – that was Hermione’s job in their friendship. “I can see where both of you are coming from. You’ve got me torn mate. Part of me wants to rip a strip off you because Ginny and James have been on their own since the day he was born. And the other half of me wants to celebrate that you are home and safe AND that you helped to save the world and end the war."

Harry opened his mouth to say something – he wasn’t sure what it would be until the words started coming – when he heard a loud crack in the entrance way. “Ronald Weasley!” came the shout. “Were you raised in a barn? Why is there a broomstick lying in the hallway and dirty Quidditch robes in my closet!!” Ron smiled at Harry and jumped up from the chair he had been occupying.

“Darling –“he replied. I was just about to put those away when company arrived. I have practice first thing and I didn’t want to dirty a new set.”

“Company? Who is calling at this hour?” Hermione rounded the corner to the living room with a scowl on her face – seeing Harry however, made her smile wide as she launched herself at him as he was rising to greet her.

“Harry! How lovely to see you! I’m so glad you are here! I’ve been worried about you since last Saturday – why did you take so long to visit?” She hugged him fiercely.

“Hi Hermione.” Harry greeted her sheepishly – not knowing which answer to give first.

“A hug for the hero I see – but not even a kiss for your husband. And that after his long day on the Quidditch pitch. See Harry? This is what you have to put up with when you get hitched. An ungrateful –“ Ron’s sentence was cut short by Hermione who had heaved a pillow at his head.

“Oh – Harry never mind my silly questions – do you have a place to stay? I imagine you do – it’s only been 2 days since your return. You have your rucksack with you? Great – you can stay here! We’d love to have you stay. Our couch is very comfy. Just ask Ron – he’s spent many a night on it!” Hermione laughed as she finished her sentence glancing at Ron with a look of love. Harry watched his two friends – feeling on the fringe but at the same time being so happy they were together. As mismatched as Ron and Hermione seemed at times, he knew they would never have found a more perfect match for each other.

*~~*

Harry sank down onto the couch in Ron and Hermione’s living room. He smiled as he listened to them both go through the routine of getting ready for bed – still after all the years of knowing the two of them – they still playfully bickered over things.

As Harry lay in the dark his mind began to clear. Although he had failed his Occumency lessons with Snape – during his war service he had honed this ability. Feeling safer than he had since his first night ever at Hogwarts – Harry fell asleep.

Waking with a start – Harry grabbed his wand from underneath his pillow. Despite clearing his mind before going to bed – he dreamt of Ginny. As he did many nights, the dream wasn’t a good one. In it – a death eater had kidnapped the Weasley’s and was holding them for ransom. Try as he might – Harry couldn’t save them all. The last scene he would dream before jolting himself awake would be Ginny lying amongst the dead members of her family saying ”You didn’t save us, Harry,” right before she would die along side her brothers and parents. Tonight the dreams were along the same lines except now a little boy was sitting alongside his Mum – his dark hair falling in his eyes as he cried in fear of what was happening around him.

“Harry?” came a voice in the darkness. Lumos, Harry chanted making a ball of light appear at the end of his wand, he reached for his glasses to see Hermione in the door to the kitchen. “Oh – did I wake you? I was just heading to get a glass of water.”

“No – no, you didn’t wake me. I was having a dream that startled me.” Sitting up straight he motioned for Hermione to join him for a moment. She climbed into the chair across from Harry and drew her knees up underneath her. “Glass of water eh? Is Ron snoring still that bad?” He grinned wickedly.

Hermione rolled her eyes – “Never been worse! You think that after hearing the stories from you and Neville and Dean and Seamus I would know better than to share a room with the git. I tell him that if he would just perform the allergen reducer charm before hitting the Quidditch pitch he wouldn’t be so stuffed at night. But he never has listened to me!” Hermione looked over at Harry, who was sitting there with a strange smile on his face. “What?” she replied.

“Oh nothing – I’ve always known that the two of you had to be together forever eventually – but knowing it’s happened. Well it makes me happy – lets me know that all is not lost in this world.” After a pause, Harry ventured on with what he wanted to know. “Hermione? Can you tell me what he’s like?”

“Ron? You want to know what Ron is like?” Hermione answered, a look of shock passing over her face

A look of equal shock passed over Harry’s features. “Ron? No! Oh NO!” He paused and looked at Hermione, “I meant James. What is my son like?

Hermione sighed heavily – this was not what she wished to do at 3 in the morning. But Harry was her one of best friends so she proceeded in answering him. “Well – as you know – his name is James and he’s four years old. He’s a wonderful little boy Harry! So smart and loving! He loves to watch Ron play Quidditch – I swear Ginny’s been taking him since he was born!” Seeing the look of hurt on his face, she stopped. “But I can’t tell you everything Harry, it’s not up to me. You need to talk to Ginny.

Harry nodded his head in agreement. “I know Hermione, I know. But after our last encounter I don’t know how I am going to face her again.”

Hermione moved to the couch to give her best friend a hug. “Harry?” she asked. “Do you still love and care for Ginny?” Harry’s eyes flew up to meet hers and she saw the truth staring back out at her. “Well then you know you have to do. You’ll not be fully content until you do."

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