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The Morning After

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Hermione was woken by a sudden blinding light in her eyes. The sun had just peeked it’s way through the opening of the bed curtain, causing Hermione to violently jerk her head away from the source, and turn onto her side. She snapped open her eyes and took a moment to regain her focus. 

Her eyes adjusted to reveal a tuft of ginger hair- the back of Ron’s head resting on the pillow beside her. The slow, rhythmic, raspy snore that she’d come to know so well echoed from his mouth with each breath. 

Ron.

Hermione looked down at the bed. This is Ron’s bed. Shielding her eyes she turned her head back to the opening in the curtain and poked her head out. Next to the bed lay Harry in his own, curtains open. Harry’s here too. He was awake, lying belly down on his bed, focusing intently on a piece of paper in front of him. 

Before Harry could notice her, Hermione pulled her head back into the curtain and turned her focus back to the bed she was in. Gingerly, she lifted up the blankets to check on her own body. Well, I’m wearing clothes, so that’s good.  She lowered the blanket back. Wait a moment. These weren’t her clothes. She lifted up the blanket again to reveal a Chudley T-Shirt and pair of maroon jogger pants that bunched up at her ankles- clearly too long for her petite legs. I’m wearing Ron’s clothes.

What is going on?

She began with the obvious.

I’m in Ron’s bed. 

I’m wearing his clothes. 

Harry’s here. 

Yes, she could be certain about those things. What else?

I’m awake. Was this true? Hermione reached her fingers to her arm and gave it a tight pinch. She winced. Yep, I’m awake. 

We’re alive. Of this she was certain. Everything was too normal for this to be an afterlife. Minus the part about sleeping in Ron’s bed and wearing his clothes. She tuned to Ron’s restful snores once more. Back in the tent, those snores would irritate her to her core. Now she saw them for what they truly were- evidence that Ron was alive too. Rather than irritating, she found them incredibly comforting. Funny how things change. 

Now onto other facts. 

We robbed Gringotts. 

We destroyed the remaining Horcruxes. 

Harry survived the killing curse again. 

Harry killed Voldemort. 

We won. 

I kissed Ron. 

And now I’m in his bed.

The events of the last few days could have easily been a dream. Or a nightmare. A little bit of both. 

Not only were they the kind of stories she’d scoff at if she’d heard them from anyone else, but they were just as blurry in her mind as a dream. 

Looking at the evidence. We robbed Gringotts. 

She looked down to the burn marks on her arms, evidence of an unfortunate encounter with flaming hot gold.

Ok. That happened. We destroyed the remaining horcruxes. 

The locket, check. 

The cup, check. Hermione remembers her trip down to the chamber of secrets with Ron a little more clearly. 

The Diadem. Fiend fire. The room of requirement. Check. 

Nagini. Did we kill Nagini? We must have. 

She had to ask.  Hermione sat back careful not to wake Ron, and peeked back through the bed curtain.  

“Morning.”  She projected her whisper over toward Harry’s. bed.  

Harry looked up. He smiled at her. There was something about his smile that wasn’t quite right. She tried to identify the emotions it carried- Love? Relief? Sadness? “Morning.”

They stared at each other for a moment, wondering what to say. Hermione saw Harry’s smile turn to one of amusement. “You’re in Ron’s bed. Did you do that on purpose?”

She smiled back. She felt her face heat up. “Honestly. I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out exactly what happened yesterday, and I haven’t gotten this far yet.” She motioned vaguely between herself and the sleeping body next to her. “Everything happened so fast.”

Harry’s smile softened. “A little blurry, huh?”

Hermione crawled out of Ron’s bed and made her way over to Harry’s. His smile instantly sprung back up as soon as he saw what she was wearing. 

“Nice clothes. Cannons fan, are you?”

“Shut up.” She said as she sat down on the bed next to Harry. “Nagini?”

No elaboration was needed for Harry to answer. “Neville.” 

That’s right!

“So that was it then? We destroyed them all.” She felt a sense of relief in solidifying her own memory. 

“And me. I was the last one.” So he did die! I’m not crazy. 

Harry and Hermione discussed the remaining events of the battle, each filling in the missing pieces for each other. As the events cleared up, her heart felt heavier. 

“Fred,” said Hermione, with a glance back at Ron’s bed.

Harry nodded. “And Tonks and Lupin. And then some.” He pointed at the piece of paper in front of him- the Marauders Map. Hermione realized he was trying to figure out who was still with us. She glanced down at the map, and ran her eyes over the names she saw, feeling more affection for each name than she ever had before. 

Hermione focused on in her own name in the Marauder’s Map, next to Harry’s, and a sleeping Ron’s. “How did I end up here?”

“In Ron’s bed?” 

Hermione glared at Harry. “In Ron’s bed, in Ron’s clothes.”

Harry responded by raising an eyebrow at her. Well, based on what I witnessed in the Room of Requirement, you two needed to find a place to shag each other’s brains out, stat.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped. “We didn’t-“

Harry laughed “Kidding. I was here the whole time. If you two had been shagging, it must have been bloody awful because I didn’t hear one sound.”

Hermione sighed of relief. 

“And based on how loud you two are when you row, I would expect nothing less from your sex life.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Seriously Harry.”

A moment later, the room felt awfully quiet. Harry noticed too. “Morning Ron.”

Hermione felt her stomach tie up in knots. 

“Morning.” She heard from behind the curtain of the four poster bed. Ron poked his head out. “Oh Hermione you’re-“ He paused when he saw what she was wearing. “wearing my clothes.” She saw his face turn red. 

Harry, his timing impeccable as always, stood up. “I’m going for a walk. I’ll let you two be alone.” Hermione felt she saw a smirk as he passed her. 

 

Ron and Hermione sat still for a moment staring at each other. Ron on his bed, Hermione on Harry’s. Finally, Ron spoke up. “Where did you sleep?”

Hermione’s face heated up. “I uh, woke up in your bed.” Awkward silence. 

“I see.” Ron shifted on his seat. “Then you moved over to Harry’s?”. 

She felt a pang of irritation at this- Ron’s jealously of her friendship with Harry had caused more than enough problems recently. “Well you were asleep, and I was trying to figure out-“ Her irritation vanished when she saw Ron grin. 

“It’s okay. You’re wearing my clothes.” He was smiling shyly at her. She returned it. 

Hermione gently stood up and made her way over to Ron’s bed. “Can I sit?”

“Of course.”

They sat quietly. Hermione began playing with the corner of her blanket to give her hands something to do. After enough silence, she spoke up. “How are you feeling?”

This seemed to be all Ron needed to let go. A normal enough question for friends to ask each other. “Been better.” He laid back down on the bed. Hermione turned to face him. 

“Fred.” It was all she needed to say. 

“Fred.” Ron’s voice croaked as he said it. 

“I’m so sorry, Ron.”

Ron’s eyes started to glisten as he stared aimlessly up toward the ceiling, lost in thought. They remained silent for a moment too long for comfort. Hermione racked her brain for what to do. As Ron’s best friend, she would have hugged him. But now, they’ve kissed, he’s lying on his bed, and she’s wearing his clothes. Suddenly a hug feels too forward. She thought about reaching for his hand. But that felt too forward too. So she sat there and offered up a sympathetic smile.

He broke the silence. “This feels different.” She sensed a smile- however, forced- behind the words. It was him that reached for her hand. He interlocked his fingers through hers and gave it a squeeze. “What’s different?”

Does he remember the kiss?

Thinking of the best way to answer, Hermione responded. “Nothing that has been… verbally acknowledged.”

Ron laughed. She felt the mood lighten around her, and squeezed his hand. 

“Clever with your words as always.” He was looking at her with a different expression- one she hadn’t seen before, at least not directed at her. It was a softer, coy, and flirtatious expression. Or was she imagining that? She had seen something similar on Krum’s face at the Yule Ball, and on McClaggen’s face at Slughorn’s party over a year earlier. The expression suited Ron better. “Hermione Granger. I’m pretty sure you kissed me. Is that enough verbal acknowledgement?”

Involuntarily, Hermione smiled. Confirmation. “I think I did. And at some point, I put on your clothes, and crawled into bed with you. So yes. Something here is different.” She glanced at their interlocked fingers.

“You must have needed clean clothes.” She felt Ron’s thumb gently stroking the back of her hand. “I like seeing you in my clothes.”

Butterflies. He was good at giving her those. 

She looked down at the Cannons shirt and oversized sweatpants she was swimming in. “I like being in them.”

Ron paused and smiled. “You slept in my bed with me.” He seemed to be contemplating his next words. “I like that.” His ears lit up as he said it. 

She playfully rolled her eyes and he smiled wider. He started to tug her hand toward him. 

“Get over here.” He said as lifted up the blanket, revealing the Hermione-sized gap of space where she had just woken up, minutes earlier. 

“Maybe take me to dinner first” she said as she laid her back down into the tight space, leaving just a small gap between her body and Ron’s. 

“Hasn’t that ship sunk?” Ron said, incorrectly recalling one of Hermione’s common muggle expressions. 

She smiled. “Sailed.Once laying down, Hermione was at a loss for what to do in this unfamiliar territory of their relationship. Where do I put my head? My arms? Can I hug him? Lean into him? Would that be weird?

As if reading her mind Ron covered her in the blanket as he turn his body toward hers, draped his arm around her waist, and pressed his lips against her temple. “I’ll take you to dinner anytime.”

They laid like that for a while, lost in thought. Hermione felt Ron’s warm breath on the side of her head. She turned her head to see his eyes were closed. With all that has happened, he looked pretty content. Her eyes moved down to his perfect lips. She vaguely remembered the feeling of them on her own less than twenty four hours before. Where had the courage to kiss him come from. The thought of doing it again now was terrifying. She couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted another kiss…” 

Hermione didn’t have much experience in that arena. The last kiss she experienced- with Cormac, was pretty much against her choice. And they had only one rushed, frenzied, kiss together, under the mistletoe, which Hermione had managed to escape. With Krum, she never initiated anything. He had doled out a few chaste pecks during the time they were together. Before he left for the summer, they had enjoyed a more intense snog that made Hermione feel unsure if she was doing it right. She wondered what it would be like to be able to kiss someone whenever you want, comfortably, without debilitating butterflies exploding in your stomach. 

She must have been looking at his lips a little too long. When the corners of his mouth turned up into a smile. She shifted her gaze upward to realize Ron’s eyes were open. 

“Staring at my lips?”

“No, just lost in thought…” She tried to play it cool, but her flushed face betrayed. 

“So you don’t want to kiss me again,” Ron said, smirking.

Now it was her turn to smile. “I mean, if you’re offering.”

She couldn’t really prepare for the second kiss. Ron tugged at her waist to pull her over to her side, facing him, as he leaned in toward her lips. His eyes closed as he gently pressed his lips to hers. 

Hermione felt those same butterflies from before erupt in her stomach. Ron’s gentle kiss was different than yesterday’s heated, passionate, snog, but communicated just as much. Hermione felt Ron smile through the kiss, a smile she returned. He pulled his lips away to look at her. 

“Do I get to do this whenever I want?” His question was sincere, again, almost reading her mind. Hermione nodded. Ron then shifted onto his back, gently pulling her by waist with him so she was situated on top of him, her leg tucked between his. She admired the smooth transition and briefly wondered where he learned that from, before shaking an unfortunate image of Ron and Lavender out of her head. Hermione smiled and leaned down to capture his lips with hers. 

She thought back to all of the intimate moments she’d shared with Ron this year. Dancing at Bill and Fleur’s wedding, wanting so badly to be closer to him. Those tender moments in the tent, when neither of them were wearing the locket when Ron would squeeze her hand, bring her tea, or cover her in a blanket while she took watch or read on the couch. At Shell Cottage she had needed help changing at first- and when Fleur wasn’t available Ron would help her change her clothes, facing her away from him and closing his eyes to keep her comfortable. Kissing Ron, actually snagging him, in his clothes, in his bed, is something that could have happened any of those times. She had wanted it to. She’d imagined this. Eventually, she got so used to kissing Ron only in her imagination.  It still didn't’ feel real. 

She felt his hands slip up the inside of her shirt. The feeling of his warm, calloused hands on her back made her giggle. 

“What?” Said Ron, pulling away. “Too much?”

“No, just surprised me, that’s all. Kind of tickled too.”

He grinned as he removed his hands from her back and brought them to frame her face. Smiling, he brushed away a strand of hair and tucked it behind her ear. “You’re bloody beautiful. You know that?”

“Language, Ron.”

“She hates swearing and can’t take a compliment. Just confirming that it’s really you” He laughed and pulled her in for another kiss, this time letting his hands return to her lower back, gently massaging around her spine. 

Hermione groaned and lowered her head to rest on his chest. “That feels good.”

“Noted.” Said Ron as he worked his way up and down her spine. He fell into a rhythm and Hermione relaxed in his arms. 

When Ron’s fingers stopped moving, Hermione looked up. “Remember fifth year?” Ron said as he looked down at her, and continued the motion of his fingers. 

“What about it?” She asked. 

“Talking about Cho Chang. You told me I had the emotional range of a teaspoon because I didn’t understand how someone could be feeling so many things at once without exploding.”

Hermione laughed. “Yeah. I remember.”

“Well. I get it now” Hermione knew exactly what he was talking about. Although he didn’t have to, he continued to explain. “I can’t believe Fred’s gone. It hasn’t sunk in. And when it does, I don’t think I’ll ever truly get over it. This is new for me, and it’s probably the worst thing that’s happened to me.”

Hermione nodded. “Yeah.” She whispered. 

“And then this.” He said, looking down at their bodies pressed up against each other, embracing. He leaned into kiss her again. “And this is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve been imagining you in my arms for a while.”

She felt her face blush again. “Same.”

“Also in my clothes, and my bed, but those imaginings don’t need to be said out loud.”

Hermione looked up at Ron. She thought back to the images her deep subconscious came up with over the years. Images Ron would be surprised to know about, coming from prim and proper Hermione. “Same.”

Ron bit his lip before learning in and kissing her again, this time sliding his hands lower to her back, just at the waistband of the joggers she was wearing. Breaking the kiss, he whispered, “You’d think these two emotions would cancel each other out, but they just intensify one another.” He leaned back in, this time kissing her more deeply. He slipped his mouth open to capture her lower lip in his, playfully biting her bottom lip. Hermione shifted further on top of him to kiss him back fully, letting her mouth open to accommodate his tongue. All of Hermione’s anxieties about kissing correctly vanished as instinct took over, and she just enjoyed being this close to Ron. He responded with the same enthusiasm as he had in the Room of Requirement. 

Hermione paused when she felt the physical representation of Ron’s affection for her pressing into her leg. He’s big. Hermione smiled as she thought this. It’d be a lie to say she’d never imagined what Ron was sporting under his pants. “Happy to see me?”

Blushing, Ron smiled. “Like I said. You’re bloody beautiful. And one can only feel so much before they explode.”

Hermione shamelessly pressed against him and buried her head to his chest. Ron wrapped his arms around her and held her tight to his chest. She felt him kiss the top of her head. He sighed. “I’m going to be a bloody mess for the next few months.” 

She nodded in agreement. He was always a mess, but this time, he was her mess. And she would do everything she could to help him move forward.