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Him.   

“It’s me, Hermione.”


 

“It’s me, Hermione.”  

The voice finally spoke.  Hermione’s breath caught in her throat.  Seconds ticked by as she stood there, leaning on him and taking labored breaths.  Was it really him?  She had ached to hear this voice.  It had been a long time now, but she knew this voice; she loved this voice.

Hermione’s hands instinctively went to his face, again.  She longed to see him.  Only moments ago she had been imaging her rescuer with his dark, unruly hair, striking green eyes, zig-zig scar, and angular, skinny face with a bold look of courage.  Now the image had been erased, and in its place, her fingertips filled in a new picture.  

Caressing his skin, she felt a much less angular face, eyebrows that were slightly thicker, a nose with a different shape, and soft, delicate skin on his lips revealing a wider, fuller mouth.  Even his eyelashes were longer, and they tickled against her skin.  And he certainly seemed taller now.  

Her hands found their way to his hair, but her mind struggled to make a picture.  Her hands froze in shock.  His hair was different.  Hermione remembered previously feeling Harry’s hair at St. Mungos, but this hair was even shorter than Harry’s, and it was softer.  In fact, it was so soft to the touch, Hermione thought she could continue to pet this hair for hours on end.  She liked the feeling of it, but struggled to match it up with her old mental images.  

Yet, not wanting to waste another moment, and feeling like the happiness inside her just might burst out if she didn’t release, she finally called out to him.

“Ron!” she cried, and fell onto him.  He warmly received her, hugging her body close to his.  She had the hardest time envisioning him with short hair now and wondered why he had cut it.  Suddenly a hundred other questions came to her mind and forced their way out into the air.

“What’s happened?  Are you okay?  Are you home?  Where’s Harry?  Where have you been?  Why did you cut your hair?  Why didn’t you tell me it was you?  I’ve missed you.  I’ve wanted to see you.  I tried; I asked, but they wouldn’t let me.  I was so afraid.  But you’re okay.  Oh, Ron!”  She knew the words were falling from her mouth in an out-pouring that rivalled Niagara Falls.  She was just so happy to finally be with Ron again, to know that he was okay.

“Slow down, Hermione.  We’ve got all the time in the world,” he spoke softly and slowly.  This tone of voice was different for him.  Hermione didn’t want to think about that; she temporarily pushed that thought away, overjoyed that finally she was with Ron again.  All those nights of wondering and waiting, longing to be near him, dreading the day when she would never have a chance to tell him everything she had always wanted to. 

Before Ron had a chance to even begin answering any of her questions, Hermione followed her hands to Ron’s face and planted a bold kiss right on his lips.  She sensed shock in Ron’s body, but she wouldn’t be deterred.  She held Ron’s face to her own and kissed him for all she was worth.  She wanted to leave no doubt in his mind that she cared for him – that she loved him, in fact.  Ron finally regained his composure from the initial shock and began kissing her back.  She could feel the pressure of his lips and the tickling of his tongue.  Hermione felt herself smiling at the pleasure.  Her arms encircled his neck and she felt her body lift off the ground slightly, as his arms encompassed her.  

Ron was alive.  She was in his arms, and she was kissing him.  Could it get any more perfect?  Hermione pulled away.

“Ron?” she asked nervously and slightly breathlessly.  She knew her face was still only inches from his.  She wished she could be staring into his beautiful blue eyes.  She tried to steady her gaze where she thought his eyes might be.

“What is it?” he asked slowly, a little startled, and also catching his breath.

“Ron, I…  I can’t see,” Hemione stated pathetically.

“I know.” Ron breathed what sounded like an amused breath.  She thought she could tell he was nodding his head, too, but it could have been a fluke.

“I mean…  Ron…  I… well…  what if I never see again?  Would you… I mean…”  Hermione didn’t know how to say what she was thinking.  She felt presumptuous.  She knew Ron cared about her, and in the last year they had come dangerously close to confessing feelings or defining a new relationship, but still the war had been hanging over their heads, and things had been progressing painfully slow.

“Hermione, I love you.”

Ron spoke with a voice braver and bolder than Hermione had ever heard.

“And whether you can see or not, I’ll still love you.  And whether you ever see again, I’ll still love you.  You’re beautiful to me, and you will always be beautiful, perfect, and flawless in my eyes.”  Hermione thought she might faint, or hyperventilate, or collapse.  Ron had never been so forthcoming with his feelings.  She wondered if coming so close to death had changed him. 

“I love you, too,” Hermione breathed, and she moved in, hoping to win herself another kiss.  Ron seemed more than happy to oblige, and they kissed for some time, unaware that the rain had finally completely stopped falling, and unaware that the dark clouds still hung in the air.  They were only aware of one another and this moment of joy, relief, love, and bliss.  Hermione had thought she would lose him, and now he was here with her.  

Ron easily lifted her up, and Hermione pulled her legs around his waist, balancing precariously as she showered his face with kisses and hugged her body against his.  Her emotions were flying in every direction, but this by far was the best she had felt in a long, long time.  

She greeted his lips again with her own, pushing her way inside his mouth and attempting to get lost in the happiest moment of her life.  Her hands flew to his soft hair, and over and over again she ran her fingers along this unexplainable short hair.  Her nails grazed his scalp and she felt him groan lightly inside her mouth.  

While one of Ron’s arms was securely wrapped around her, the other hand made its way into her hair, and to the back of her neck, holding her close for his long and passionate kisses.  Hermione’s heart was racing and she could barely breathe, but she wanted nothing more than to be held by Ron, to be kissing him forever and ever.

But still something seemed wrong.  Something was missing.  His voice sounded different.  He was changed.  He wasn’t nearly happy enough.  Whatever it was, Hermione couldn’t put her finger on it, nor could she rid herself of the nagging thought.  Finally, she pried herself away from Ron, took a breath, and again tried to focus her eyes in the direction where she thought Ron’s gaze would be.

“Something’s wrong,” Hermione stated, but he didn’t answer.  Instead, he let he down, and Hermione stood directly in front of him, gingerly balancing on her good ankle.

“Where’s Harry?” Hermione instinctively asked.  She had the same feeling, standing there with Ron, as she’d had when Harry had visited her room in St. Mungo’s.  Back then, if Harry had truly been all right, then why had he still seemed sad?  Because Ron had not been all right.  Hermione knew that now.  But, with Ron standing before her, if he did not seem so happy, she knew Harry could not be all right.  Why did things happen this way?

“Ron, tell me.  What’s happened?!” she demanded.

“Harry’s gone.” 
 

The words hung in the air, heavy and burdensome.  And they refused to vanish.  Instead the utterance sat thick and dense, permeating the entire atmosphere.  The words sunk to the core of Hermione’s soul.  The fresh outdoor air suddenly seemed toxic and suffocating.  The rain clouds seemed to be mocking them.  What did he mean, ‘he’s gone’?
 

“He’s gone?  Gone where?” Hermione asked hopefully, but her voice had betrayed her.

“He’s dead,” Ron whispered.
 

And the world stood still.  

 
“No, no, he can’t be dead.  He can’t be, he’s not!” Hermione argued, her voice rising and her head shaking ‘no’ quite fiercely.

“Hermione–” Ron began in a tender and sorrowful whisper.

“No!” she screamed.  “He was just talking to me a couple weeks ago!  He’s fine!  We were talking and he was just fine!  He can’t be dead!” she yelled at Ron.  

“There’s nothing-”

“NO!!  He is NOT dead!” she screamed and then began slapping at Ron’s shoulders and arms before she progressed to small fisted punches.  But Ron did not grab her hands, or walk away, or stop her.  He didn’t yell, or growl, or even speak.  He let her flail away at him until her senses took a little control and allowed her tears to take the place of her angry abuse.  Her hands stopped their aggressive attacks, dropped to her sides, and Hermione’s face became the most heart-wrenching expression of grief, unbeknownst to herself.  Fresh tears were pouring from her eyes.  

Ron’s strong and protective arms wrapped around her and pulled her into his body.  She cried and sniffled, and cried some more.  He pet her hair, rubbed her back, and let her weep.  Hermione stayed safely in his arms, unmoving as she listened to his gentle voice recall the days that had gone by.

“Mum told me I’d been in a coma.  The Healers couldn’t do anything for me, and everyone thought I was going to die.  They said I had a Death Eater’s curse on me, and it was unknown, probably didn’t even have a counter curse, and if it did, they’d have to find a Death Eater to do it.  And they were afraid the curse had something contagious in it, some evil the Death Eaters had developed to cause harm even after they were defeated…  Mum said I laid there for weeks, not moving, or talking, or anything.”  Ron gently pet Hermione’s hair and nuzzled his chin against the side of her head.

“Dad told me about Harry.  The curse on him appeared to be less serious from the outside, but the Healers were trying to use potions and antidotes and counter curses to fight against what was happening on the inside.  Dad said they called it ‘Segnis Visceris Necare’ or ‘Viscus Segne Necare.’  Well, I can’t remember, you’ll have to ask Dad.  The Healers told Dad that it was a different kind of Killing Curse, and it was something they hadn’t seen yet.  It was supposed to slowly kill from the inside, leaving no obvious traces on the outside until it was too late.  Dad said it was unlikely that this Killing Curse had a cure, either, but it could be possible, since it works slowly while the other is instant.  The Healers also told him it was likely a nonverbal spell only, designed that way so the murderer would be undetectable.”  

Ron paused for a moment, and Hermione’s arms moved from their squished location between her body and his, and instead pulled around Ron’s back, holding onto him as through the information might be too much for her.

“Harry seemed fine on the outside, but Mum and Dad knew otherwise.  He was supposed to stay in isolation, like me, but I guess he came to visit you…  Dad did mention something about his Invisibility Cloak being left there…  Anyway, Mum and Dad had told Harry about the curse on me, which the Healers were slowly learning more about it.  It was affecting my heart, but its reaction to the blocking spell I used forced me to go into a coma, which the Healers said might have actually helped keep me alive.  Dad started talking to the Healers about Muggle techniques.  Mum didn’t sound happy about that bit, but they found a Squib doctor who offered to try and help or work with the Healers.

“The doctor couldn’t find any way to heal Harry.  He told Dad something about Harry’s insides shutting down slowly.  The Healers would give him some potions, and it would help for awhile, but it never lasted for long.  He was getting worse and worse on the inside.  And the curse was affecting his brain, too.  The doctor had taken him in to do some Muggle exams on his head, but said there was nothing for it once something attacked a person’s brain.  Mum and Dad said they kept hoping the Healers would come through with something.

“Then Dad had the doctor examine me.  Mum had left for the day and was furious once Dad had told her.  He couldn’t keep it a secret because the doctor had been forced to shave off my hair in order to do some sort of exam or procedure.  The doctor told Dad that he thought I was actually doing much better than Harry.  He said that my heart was the main problem, and that there was some sort of Muggle procedure that could change a person’s heart.  They needed some kind of donner, or downer, I can’t remember.  The doctor thought that after that procedure, the spell might be broken and lifted, and I’d be released from the coma.’  

Hermione turned her head and rested her ear and the side of her face against Ron’s chest.  She could hear him taking breaths as he continued to speak, and she could hear his heart beating.  Unheeded tears were streaming down her face in a constant, silent flow, wetting her face, chin, neck, and clothing.  Her ear felt a wet patch on Ron’s shirt, and she knew it must have come from her tears.

“So, then, Dad talked with Harry one day when Mum wasn’t there.  She always tried to protect Harry, you know.  Harry wouldn’t let Dad leave until he told Harry everything the doctor had said.  Dad hated doing it, but, you know, he’s always pretty honest with us.  Harry’s trusted him a lot in the past.  Harry’s a man; he’d defeated Voldemort.  Dad didn’t feel right keeping truth from him, especially about his own condition and… 

“Dad said Harry began thinking and planning immediately.  Dad kept it a secret while Harry figured out what he wanted to do, and got Dad to help him.  Harry was convinced that no counter curse or potion would help him.  He knew he was getting worse, too.  He was finding it more difficult to breath sometimes; other times he would get these intense pains that sometimes made him pass out.  Dad told me all this…  

“So, Harry told Dad that he wanted me to live, and that he had the power to help, and if he didn’t help, then he would die, and for all he knew, I would die, too.  He wanted to give his heart to replace mine.  Dad said it was no good because Harry’s organs were being attacked from the inside, but when the doctor checked his heart, they found it untouched.  The spell was attacking a lot of other organs, and his brain, which would cause enough problems even if the heart continued to work….”

“He didn’t,” Hermione whispered against Ron’s chest.  He paused in his telling and rubbed Hermione’s back.

“Harry and Dad arranged the whole thing.  Dad managed to get Mum and the others out of St. Mungo’s, then the Squib doctor came, and they did the procedure.  It was just in time, too, because Harry had passed out four times that morning and wasn’t getting enough air to his brain, Dad said.  So, they…  the procedure, and…”  

Hermione was listening to his voice as it trailed off and broke, but she was also feeling his body shake against her.  A drop of wetness fell against her nose.  Ron was crying.  Her hands pulled away from his back and crept up to his face, feeling wet skin bathed in salty tears.  She began wiping away at them, her own tears increasing as she did so.  Ron leaned into her hands, nuzzling his wet face against her palms.  He sniffed and cleared his throat, and Hermione lowered her hands, leaning into him again.

“Harry knew the procedure would be the end,” Ron whispered.  “I was the only one who came out of that room.  Mum was so furious and so sad at the same time.  I…  I can’t believe he did that, Hermione.  Maybe a couple more days and they would have found something; he didn’t know….  Dad said he was the only one Harry talked to about this.  Harry didn’t tell you, I guess.  Ginny didn’t know; I don’t think she ever got to visit him at St. Mungo’s, unless he went sneaking around to see her, like he did you.”  Hermione thought she could hear a sad smile on Ron’s voice.

“But he didn’t even say goodbye,” Hermione said pitifully, sniffling as fresh tears formed in her eyes.

“He didn’t want to, I think.  You know Harry.” She felt Ron shrug.  His voice was so quiet and sombre.  She hated this voice; she hated these words.  He couldn’t really be gone.  This couldn’t be real.

“But the last time he came to see me,” Hermione began, “he came in the middle of the night.  He didn’t say anything much, he just wanted to see me.  Why couldn’t he have told me?” she questioned miserably.  

She wondered what she would have said to him.  She probably couldn’t have stopped him, but maybe she could have said goodbye.  But she couldn’t have; it would have been horrible thinking it.  She supposed Harry wouldn’t have wanted to see her cry, and she undoubtedly would have cried like a baby.  But he could have stayed longer; they could have talked longer.  She could have hugged him, and held onto him, and forced every smell and touch and sound about him to imprint themselves even harder upon her mind.

“Maybe that was his way of saying good bye,” Ron suggested softly, rubbing a hand along her back.  Hermione could feel his body sigh underneath her.  Then Ron was silent, and Hermione’s mind began to think of her raven-haired friend, of everything he meant to her, and of his devastating absence.  Tears continued to pour out of her eyes, and she clung to Ron, afraid that she would collapse under the heavy sorrow.
 

Harry was dead.

This whole time she had been afraid of finding out that Ron had died.  Harry had seemed perfectly fine.

But now, it was Harry who was gone.
 

Hermione didn’t remember anything else, except the vague feeling of being carried across the lawn back inside the Burrow.  Even if she hadn’t been blind, her tears would have blinded her.  Her best friend, her childhood companion, her rescuer, her leader, her hero…  He was gone.
 

The war was over.
Voldemort was defeated.
Harry was dead.

 
But Hermione was alive.
Ron was alive.
And they loved each other.
 

It didn’t seem fair.
But that was life.
And not all stories end, “Happily Ever After.”

..:..

 
“But this one does end happilyeverafter!” Corrie’s sweet childlike voice insisted.

“Oh, why do you say that?” A gentle, but amused voice inquired.

“Beco’s Nana, we are here!” Adele answered, smiling giddily.

“Well, I think you’re right!” Molly Weasley smiled to the beautiful grandchildren gathered around her.  She watched as the youngest of the three, Luka, yawned a big yawn.  His red hair was falling in his big brown eyes that he could hardly keep open.

“Well, I think it’s time for you lot to get to bed!” Mrs. Weasley insisted.

“Aw, Nana, do we have to?” Corrie whined.

“Tell us again, pwease!” Adele begged.

“Tell you what again?” came a voice from the front door that startled all of the sitting room occupants.  The front door closed and in walked Ron and Hermione Weasley, meeting the sight of four sheepish-looking faces.

“Were you telling our story again?” Ron asked, trying to hide his amused grin.

“I thought you lot would be asleep by now.” Hermione’s voice was a little stern.

“We just wanted to hear the story…” Corrie spoke in her best innocent voice, a voice that often won her Daddy over in whatever the situation was.

“What story is that?” Ron asked, crouching down to make himself eye-level with his two girls, who were still sitting in the large, over-stuffed chair.

“Da one about you and Mum,” Adele beamed, smiling a smile that proudly displayed her missing teeth.

“Is that so?” Ron grinned, unable to stop himself.  Sometimes it was hard to have to be the parent, and not simply be amused and want to get in on the mischief.

“Well, I think it’s time for bed now,” Hermione spoke, but her voice was losing its sternness.  Their children loved hearing their story and always coaxed someone into telling it to them any chance they could.  But Hermione always thought Mrs. Weasley told it best. 

“Well, Nana’s heading straight off to bed, that’s for sure.” Mrs. Weasley smiled to Ron.  She stood and handed a sleeping Luka over to Hermione, who easily nestled him in her arm, his head resting on her shoulder.  Mrs. Weasley disappeared as Ron and Hermione began to herd their children upstairs.  Adele had a hold of Ron’s pinky finger, while Corrie was holding his other hand.  They were Daddy’s girls; that was certain.  Ron led the way up stairs, all of his girls in tow, including Hermione, whose hand rested against his back, allowing him to guide her.

Finally all the children were in bed, in the room they used whenever they stayed the night at Nana and Papa’s.  Luka had not woken from his sleep, and Hermione laid him in the crib, kissing him and making her way over to the girls.

“Did you never see Harry again?” Corrie was asking Ron, who was sitting on her bed. Both girls were still trying to get more information from their Daddy, much as they always did after hearing the story.  They were both tucked in bed under their blankets but were delaying going to sleep as long as possible.

“Nope,” Ron answered. Often the story was told in such a way that simply stated Harry was gone.  The children hadn’t yet fully grasped the idea of death and its finality.  

Listening knowingly, Hermione heard a sigh in Ron’s voice that the girls never would have picked up on.

“He was yo’r bes friend, Mum?” Adele asked.

“He was.  The three of us were best friends.” Hermione smiled gently.

“Do you think we’ll ever have best friends, and we’ll get to do all the things you did?” Corrie asked.  Ron tried to hide a laugh.  He could only imagine his children making mischief at Hogwarts just like they had.

“I think you will.  But you better study, too,” Hermione said.

“Of course!” Adele beamed.  Adele, truly, was a ‘chip off the old block.’  She looked and often acted, just like her mum when Hermione was her age.  She was also undeniably intelligent.  And the bushy brown hair and brown eyes didn’t hurt the resemblance, either.

“Maybe you’ll have some wild adventures,” Ron spoke excitedly in his story-telling and mischief-making voice.  “Maybe someday we’ll talk about Corrie Weasley and the Wild Hippogriff.”

“Ooh, yeah.  Or Corrie Weasley and the Friendly Centaurs!” Corrie said in wonderment.

“What abou’ Adele Weasley and the Angwy Howse Elves?” Adele spoke in a giddy voice.

“You mean Adelaide Weasley!” Corrie called over, never missing an opportunity to harass her little sister.

“Adele.” Adele spoke her name grumpily.  Ron could swear he had seen that face Adele was making before, only it had been on Hermione, probably right before she had blasted someone with a hex.

“All right girls, it’s time you get to sleep.  We’ll see you in the morning,” Hermione said firmly, and there was no moving that voice when it spoke.  Ron and Hermione kissed the girls and tucked them in again.  Then Ron took Hermione’s hand and led her out of the room, turning off the lights and shutting the door.

“They’re wonderful kids, aren’t they?” Hermione asked as they stood in the hallway.  Her voice was proud, but also sincerely asking for Ron’s assurance.

“They are.  I wish you could see them,” Ron spoke softly and seriously.  Gently his thumb caressed her cheek as they spoke, and Hermione couldn’t help feeling the tingles.  After all these years he still gave her the tingles.

“Me, too.  But I think they must be beautiful,” she smiled.

“They are.  I’m telling you, Adele is you, through and through,” Ron insisted.

“And Corrie?”

“She’s got some of both of us.  And maybe a spirit a bit like Harry’s.  Not sure where that came from.  Maybe we’ve carried him on in us, some how.” Ron’s voice had become thoughtful.

“And Luka, he looks just like you, doesn’t he?” Hermione asked knowingly.  Though she had often been told what her children looked like, she never tired of hearing Ron speak of them to her.

“Everything but the eyes.  They’re yours.” Ron was smiling tenderly at her, even if she couldn’t see him.  He couldn’t help it.  He had never stopped adoring Hermione, and he knew he never could.  His eyes traced Hermione’s face, and he watched her gleaming brown eyes, sometimes duped into thinking she could see, after all.  She still gave wonderful looks and expressions.  It was habit to her.  She was doing it now.

“I wish you knew some of the looks you gave me,” Ron spoke with a mischievous hint in his voice.  His voice was dangerously close to her face, and his hand was finding it’s way into her hair.

“What look am I giving you now?” Hermione looked up to him with her big brown eyes dancing in the direction of where she thought his eyes were.  She was subconsciously biting her lower lip.  Ron felt a shiver pass through his body.

His voice came out thick and gruff, layered with pure desire. “You’re giving me the look that makes me want to haul you off to our bedroom and see if we can bring any more Weasleys into the world…”  

Hermione’s eyes grew wide with shock as she exclaimed in hushed astonishment, “Ron!” 

 

THE END.




-=-=-
Author's Note:
  This is the end.  It really is.  I think, for some, it might have come abruptly, but this was the story to be told.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.  You can leave a review, PM me, or ask questions on my Author's Topic in the forums.  

Thanks to all my faithful readers.  It has been so fun to share this story with you, and I hope that no one was disappointed.  I tell the story as it comes, and this was the story.

Thanks, 
JT

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