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Present day

“Weasley?” Malfoy frowned at Ron, tightening his bathrobe and pulling the door to obscure Ron’s view into the flat. He looked over his shoulder, swallowing before once more facing the redhead.

Ron’s eyes dropped, his hair covered in a mixture of sweat and rain as he stood on the exposed front step, “I’m-” Ron took in a leveling breath, his heartbeat erratic, “is my wife here?”

Malfoy furrowed his eyebrows momentarily, his mouth opening to answer when the door opened, revealing Hermione, mouth drawn in a straight line and covered only in an oversized button down shirt.

“Why are you here, Ron?” Her gaze fell to the ground, her hand gripping the doorway. Ron felt his stomach lurch. She just stood there frozen, her face a mask of indifference.

“I need you to know - that I still love you,” he told her, his eyes heavy, “If he’s who you need right now - I can accept that. But if we’re over - you have to tell me. If not, I’ll wait. But-” he shook his head.

Her eyes flashed at him momentarily, and he saw her pain so clearly. It tore at him, and he couldn’t bear it, “I - I’ll go. But please - Hermione. Don’t give up on us.” He resisted the urge to reach out to her, to push that stray flyway behind her ear. He gave Malfoy, who continued to look at him with a perplexed sort of frown, a polite nod and left.

He turned his face up into the rain, the freezing cleanse, and hoped.

6 years earlier

“Ron - come quick, you have to see this!” Hermione shouted at him from the top story of Grimmauld Place. 

He chuckled to himself and ran after her, glad to be distracted from the monotonous task of moving all of Ginny’s belongings.

“Look!” She pointed to a door he was sure wasn’t there the day before, “I was up here, just thinking how it would be nice to sit on the roof and watch the stars and it appeared.”

She had that familiar glint in her eye - the one she wore when she discovered something new or uncovered a mystery. He couldn’t help the grin that spread across his lips; her smile and excitement were contagious.

“Have you opened it?” Ron asked her.

She shook her head and grabbed his hand, “No! I was waiting for you. Come on.”

She opened the door and pulled him through, leading them to a previously concealed rooftop terrace. Magical herbs and flowers sat in beds around the edges - the ground tastefully tiled and a warming charm present to keep the cool winter afternoon at bay. They stood hand in hand, watching in the distance as the sun began to set over the horizon.

“It’s beautiful,” Hermione remarked quietly. 

Ron turned to her, watching her in the stillness and amazed by her endless ability to be entranced by the world around them. She swayed slightly, perhaps lost in a memory and a smirk played along his lips, “Come on.” He dragged her hand towards the center of the terrace, pulling her to him.

“What?” She asked, wide eyed and curious.

“Let’s dance.” He placed his hands on her hips, playfully guiding her around the small rooftop.

She laughed, “We can’t dance without music!” but her eyes were alight, her hips swaying in tandem with his own. She froze and grabbed her wand, mumbling a quick charm. Suddenly, music surrounded them.

“What is it?” He asked, pulling her closer to him so that her face was pushed against his chest. They continued to sway to the guitar music emanating from her pocket.

“It’s Lights - by Journey,” she whispered, her voice vibrating against him. He felt her hands push against his hips, her face relaxing further into him.

“It’s nice,” he told her, his cheek brushing against her hair. 

It had been a long day - full of shrinking and expanding boxes and sending the occasional stinging hex at Ginny and Harry.

“Can you believe Ginny’s moving in with Harry?” Hermione whispered.

He smiled softly, shaking his head, “Honestly, I’m just surprised it took them three years.”

“Hmm,” she hummed, lifting her cheek and watching him carefully.

“What is it?” He asked, tilting his head to the side.

“I’m just thinking how it’s the end of an era.” She pointed out, a faraway look in her eyes.

“Are you worried?” He frowned slightly.

She shook her head, tightening her grip on him and resuming their sway.

It was a perfect moment, the feeling of Hermione tucked into him with the sky darkening in the distance. A slight breeze pressed through the terrace’s charms, pushing Hermione’s wild locks around.

“I love you,” he told her. He felt a serene smile play across his face. They had said the words before but he felt it in a way he couldn’t quite describe - a sense of certainty overtaking him.

“I love you, too,” she responded automatically.

“No,” he shook his head, separating himself so he could look her in the eye, “I mean, I’m in love with you Hermione. And I always will be.”

“Ron,” she smiled at him, “I love-,”

He interrupted, “I want to dance with you on roof terraces for the rest of my life.”

Her eyes went wide, “Are you asking-?”

He nodded, “Yes,” he watched her carefully, her face showing a spark of fear before stretching into a wide grin, “will you marry me?”

She nodded vigorously, a torrent of laughter escaping her lips, “Of course - yes.” She pressed her lips into his, pulling at his shirt to draw him closer. He laughed into her mouth, feeling giddy with the soft music playing in the background and the reflection of the sunset painted against the terrace.

4 years earlier

Ron was cooking dinner in their new flat, adding some oregano and thyme to the slowly boiling pasta sauce. He smiled at the sound of a door slamming shut and the muffled ding of shoes being thrown off - the tell tale signs of Hermione returning from work.

“Ginny - GINNY - slow down,” Hermione muttered into her cell phone as she entered the kitchen, absently walking up to Ron. He turned his head and she gave him a brief kiss and smile, a familiar routine.

She mumbled a, “hmm,” into the phone, glancing at the various pots and skillets and giving Ron an appreciative look. He smirked, smelling the sauce and bringing a small spoonful to her mouth. She tried it, her eyes going wide, “I have to call you back Gin.”

She jumped him, quite literally pulled herself to him and kissed him greedily. He laughed into her mouth, grabbing her thighs and clutching her to him. “Hermione,” he mumbled into her mouth in question.

“I love you,” she told him, urging at his waist band and shirt.

“I love you too,” he put her down, applying a quick stasis charm to the dinner before returning his attention to her. She pushed him down to the kitchen floor, her eyes alight with mischief and her hands wandering. It was quick and messy, a rapid removal of clothes followed by sloppy hands and tongues. She held herself over him, holding his head between her hands and whispered to him, “Coming home to you cooking dinner for me is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Thirty minutes later, they were half clothed on the floor, bowls of pasta with partially cooked sauce sitting to their side. She lay between his legs, leaning her head against his shoulder, a content smile playing on her lips.

“How was work?” he asked, kissing her neck lightly.

She grumbled, “Relentless. I had a terrible meeting with Hayes. He’s absolutely obstinate - refuses to even consider the concept that Werewolves have basic human rights and liberties - it’s barbaric”

“Hmm,” he frowned into her hair, rubbing his hand along her arm, “that sounds awful.”

She nodded, “It’s just - exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it.”

He squeezed her shoulders, “You can do anything you set your mind to - it’s what makes you so incredible Hermione.”

She smiled softly, her eyes shutting slightly, “Thank you. How about you?”

He chuckled, “Oh, you know - same as always. George almost destroyed the backroom again.” He buried his face into her neck, relishing in their closeness.

“Thank you,” she repeated, her hands pushing down on his thighs. She must have felt the questioning look in his face so she clarified, “nothing makes me happier than coming home to this.”

“You make it all worth it,” he told her, pushing the pasta aside and pulling her into his lap.

18 months ago


“What?” He raced to the bathroom in boxers and an undershirt, his hair frazzled. It was two in the morning when she screamed for him. “Are you okay? Do we need to call a healer? What is it-.”

“LOOK.” Her breathing was labored and she shoved a stick towards him.

He recognized it immediately - it was a Muggle pregnancy test. Harry had insisted that Ginny use one after a charm had confirmed that she was pregnant. He squinted, noticing one line clearly pink and the other one a pink blur.

“Is it?” He stood dumbfounded, blinking, “are you? What?” She stared at him, as though waiting for him to provide some moment of insight or knowledge.

“I did the charm - and it said I was. But - I don’t understand how the charm works so I went to the local pharmacy and bought a Muggle test and it says if you have two lines then you’re pregnant. But one is really blurry so I thought maybe it meant I’m not but then I checked again and it said the line can be really light so - I think - I am.” She blurted out in one breath.

They had talked about kids before getting married - they were always some nebulous thing they would have one day - when her job settled or she otherwise felt comfortable. Ron nodded, taking a deep breath and willing himself calm, “How are you?”

“I don’t know! We’re not ready - I thought I would be older, wiser. How am I supposed to be a mum, Ron? What am I going to do?” She was half in tears so he pulled her to him.

“Hermione,” he mumbled into her hair, “we will do whatever you want to do, okay? You don’t have to give anything up unless it’s what you want to do. And don’t forget - I’m here, alright. Whatever you need.” He kept murmuring in her ear, hoping to say what she needed to hear to be okay.

He could feel her tears spread across his shirt, but her breaths had calmed, “I’m scared.”

He couldn’t help the soft chuckle that escaped his lips, “Me too.”

She looked up at him, “You promise? Whatever I choose, you will support me?” She was terrified, her eyes wide and pleading.

He ran his fingers through her hair, nodding, “Of course. Always.”

They sat on the bathroom floor that night, voicing all their hopes and fears, eventually falling asleep on the cold tile, together.

1 year ago

“How about…Mephistopheles? We’ll call him ‘Meph’ for short,” Hermione suggested, lying on her side with her hand over her belly.

Ron narrowed his eyes at her, “You’re messing with me right?”

She laughed and he tried to be mad but all he could do was roll his eyes, pulling her closer to him and planting a wet kiss on her cheek. She rubbed it off dramatically, “Well, do you have anything better?”

“Hmmm, he seems to like to kick,” he held a hand to her stomach, trying to find the familiar foot, a smile ripping across his face when he felt the bump, “maybe he’s going to be a Quidditch player? We can name him after Viktor Krum.” 

She burst into laughter once more, “Ha ha.”

“What?” He tried to act innocent but couldn’t help his smirk.

“You think you’re funny, do you?” She rolled on top of him, the move made difficult by her enlarged stomach. She sat atop him, her hands on his hips

He raised a single eyebrow, “I have my moments.”

She leaned down to kiss him softly, moving her hands so her fingers brushed through his hair, “Hmmm. Don’t quit your day job.” 

“What?” He muttered into her mouth in false indignation. After a languid kiss she paused.

“Do you think we’re ready for this?” She asked, her smile fading into a pensive frown.

He sat up, wrapping her into his arms, “I don’t know if anyone is ever ready. But I think we’re gonna be alright?”

“Just alright?” He could hear the frown in her tone, “I’ve never been just alright at anything.”

He chuckled, “Well, you’re going to be an amazing mum.”

“Yeah?” she smiled, holding onto him.

“Yeah.” He nodded, content.


Present day

Hermione forced the door shut, clearly shaken from Weasley’s visit.

“Are you alright?” Draco asked, watching her meticulously dig through her bag and eventually throw it on the ground before grabbing at her clothes, tossing them around the room in some sort of fit.

“I’m fine,” she mumbled, putting on her trousers before taking them off again, clearly unhinged.

He grabbed her shoulders, pulling her down to the couch. She sat rigid, fidgeting with her hands.

“What is it?” he asked, “what did he do to you?” It was a forbidden subject - something he knew never to venture into. But it wasn’t sustainable - she may have left Weasley but obviously something had happened that clearly still affected her.

“He didn’t do anything,” she whispered, escaping his grasp, “I have to go.”

Draco was restless - his owls to Hermione went unanswered and his flat felt suddenly too large and empty. He went to the Leaky Cauldron, perhaps feeling nostalgic or just needing to get away. 


He froze, recognizing Harry Potter’s voice as the man took the seat next to him, “I was hoping to run into you.”

“Potter,” Draco was fairly certain nothing good could come from an encounter with both Weasley and Potter on the same day. But for Hermione’s sake he was determined to be polite.

“We need to talk.” Potter waved at the bartender, signaling something with his fingers. Two shots of firewhiskey floated to him; he pushed one to Draco, perhaps in some sort of attempt at civility. “Cheers.”

Draco returned the gesture, his face wary, “Is this about Weasley?” 

Potter shook his head, “It’s about Hermione.”

Draco felt his body go rigid, “Look - she left him. It’s not-”

Potter put his hand up, “I’m not here to reprimand you or tell you to stay away from her. Just - did she tell you why she left Ron?”

Draco frowned, shaking his head, “It was none of my business. I just assumed…” he trailed off at the look of horror that crossed the other man’s face. “What?” he asked.

Potter seemed nervous, shaking his head and pulling out a small Muggle photo.

Draco stared at it and felt his face pale, “Who is this?”

Potter’s breath hitched. “His name is - was - Thom.”

Draco blinked, trying to comprehend the photo before him. It was taken in a hospital; Hermione content in bed while Weasley held a baby to her right. They looked - undeniably happy, in love. 

He had come up with all sorts of explanations for why Hermione had left Ron, most of which painted the redhead in a bad light. He could never have imagined this .

“And he’s-?” Draco asked, unable to speak the last word of his question.

Potter understood regardless, and nodded. “Look - Hermione - she may need you but - Ron? He needs her .”.

“And you’ve known about us? This whole time?” Draco couldn’t comprehend why no one said anything - surely they would have wanted to stop them?

Harry appeared torn. “I - I wanted to. But Ron-” he shook his head. “You have to understand, after it happened, Hermione was in a bad place. When you came into her life, she became - happier. Maybe it wasn’t healthy but - look,” Potter pulled off his glasses, rubbing at the lenses absently, “For whatever reason Hermione needed you to heal. And Ron for better or worse could never do anything to hurt her.”

Draco’s mind swirled, trying to put the pieces together, figure out what precisely he missed.

Four months ago

Draco was having a shitty day - his legislation before the Wizengamot was killed by a particularly wide margin and all he wanted was to drown his sorrows.

“Is this seat taken?” he whipped his head around at the voice, his eyes wide at the sight of Hermione Granger, wearing fitted Muggle jeans and a low cut top. 

“No…” his eyes narrowed, watching her carefully. She ordered a shot of firewhiskey, downing it in one go before turning back to face him. There was something in her countenance that was off, something so very un-Granger like that made him both curious and wary.

“Is there something on my face?” She asked with a slight smirk.

“I guess I’m confused, shouldn’t you be with Weasley? I heard you got married.” He watched her eyes flash and her smirk falter. She beckoned the bartender, ordering another drink, before finally returning her attention to him.

“I left him,” she shrugged. He nodded, debating if he should push.

“Why?” He asked finally. She shifted, clearly uncomfortable. 

“That’s not a good story for a bar.” She replied back smiling, though the gesture rang false. 

“So you came out to drink?” His voice was incredulous, and he couldn’t help but wonder if this was some sort of odd dream. 

Her eyes went dark and he pulled his face back reflexively. He waved down the bartender - ordering another round of firewhiskeys for the pair.

“Well,” he started, handing her a shot, “cheers to you then.” His voice remained skeptical and he watched her down the drink, barely wincing as the hot liquor dripped down her throat.

They sat like that for an hour, the conversation slowly making its way from awkward questions to her work at the Ministry until they found themselves reminiscing about school. He felt they talked about nearly everything - other than Weasley, that is.

“So, what was it like in Slytherin?” She asked, leaning her head against her hand on the bar, “I mean, you all seemed so serious all the time.”

She was smirking at him, teasing him, and he found himself oddly enjoying it, “I mean, sure, to you all we would have appeared that way. But behind closed doors - we had fun.” He returned the smirk, taking a sip of his drink.

“Oh, you had fun? Come on - tell me more!” She pounded her fist against the bar dramatically.

“Are you sure Granger?” He mirrored her countenance, his face half a foot from hers. He saw something in her eyes shift and felt a pressure on his leg. He looked down to see her hand skimming his thigh. She was biting her lip, a nervous look overtaking her previously almost cocky demeanor.

He swallowed, about to say something when she leaned forward and kissed him. He froze, a result of the absurdity of the situation and the five or so shots he had imbibed. He felt her lips continue to push against his, her hand move from his thigh to his waist. 

Fuck it , he thought as he responded, pressing his tongue against her mouth and brushing a hand through her hair, pushing her towards him.

“Bathroom,” she whispered into his mouth, her breaths heavy and voice rough. He could taste the firewhiskey on her breath and smell the vanilla from her hair. He nodded, feeling dazed, accepting her hand as she dragged him towards the single stall.

2 months ago

“Why do you work for the Wizengamot?” She turned to face him. They lay in his bed, covered only in a scant sheet.

He rolled over to face her, brows furrowed in thought. “I dunno - seemed like something I could be decent at.”

“But you have old money - right? Do you really need to work?” She smirked.

He had anticipated their shag at the Leaky would be a one off thing, but after their sloppy encounter, they seemed to keep running into each other. It evolved from collegial head nods in the Ministry to buying coffees for one another at a cafe to eventually tugging one another into an empty conference room outside of the Wizengamot.

He shrugged, “I like working - gives me a feeling of purpose.”

She gave him a sly smile, “I guess I can see that. I can’t imagine not doing what I do - even when it drives me crazy.”

They had developed into something comfortable - eating takeout at his flat and talking through all sorts of topics - ranging from Ministry politics to advancements in potions. There were certain subjects he knew not to mention - specifically anything pertaining to her marriage. 

He knew their relationship - if it could be called that - was likely temporary, but he found himself growing attached to their evenings together. He didn’t realize just how lonely he had been before, how desperate for companionship, until she arrived in his life. 

“What are we doing?” He whispered, brushing his fingers against the side of her face.

She looked at him with a familiar sad smile. She shook her head slightly, “We’re just - having fun - right?”

He nodded, deciding that was enough for the moment.

1 month ago

“Where are we going?” she dutifully kept her eyes shut, clenching his hand.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes,” she told him quietly, her grip on his hand tightening.

“Open them,” he observed her carefully as she opened her eyes. She frowned, her breaths becoming ragged.

“Where are we?” She asked, a terrified look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” He watched her eyes grow wide, her nails now digging into his palms.

“Where are we?” She repeated.

“We’re at South Downs park,” he told her, watching her breathing slow, her face regain its color, “is that alright?”

“I just,” she shook her head, her eyes shifting, “I’m sorry - can we go to your flat? The night sky, the shrubbery - it just - reminded me of something.”

He nodded, pushing down his doubt and quickly apparating her.

“I’m sorry,” he started as soon as they were back, “I didn’t know-.”

She shook her head, “No - it’s not your fault. I’m just - a bit of a mess.”

He had to laugh at that, “You think you’re a mess?” 

She had fully calmed down, a half smile appearing on her lips, “I am.”

“Hermione,” he started, pulling her onto his lap on the couch. He grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him. “I don’t know everything you’ve been through - or what’s happened. But you’re one of the strongest people I’ve met. Me? I barely function. I’m a disaster.”

“You have no idea.” She whispered to him, but before he had the chance to respond or push further, she pressed her lips to his, crushing him with a kiss.


Present day

The day after his visit, Hermione was obsessively cleaning and organizing her flat. Her kitchen was a mess - her cabinets hadn’t been cleaned since she had moved in.

A loud knock pulled her from her task. She tried to ignore it, not at all in the mood to entertain guests. But the knock persisted.

“Oh,” she opened the door automatically, letting Draco through the threshold, “how did you know where to find me?” She had moved to the small flat 5 months earlier - only telling Harry the address.

“Potter told me,” he frowned.

“Oh,” she felt her breaths grow heavy and she shook her head.

“Can we talk?” he was looking at her with pity and she realized he knew .

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She swallowed, refusing to make eye contact.

“Hermione,” he grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him.

She felt the back of her eyes grow heavy and she tried to shake herself out of it, “I don’t want your pity.” She managed to look down, pull herself away from him.

“Hermione!” he shouted and she saw the pity was gone - only a look of exasperation remained.

“What?” she bit back, the ire clear in her voice.

“You are - incredibly irritating.” He grabbed at the bridge of his nose, taking a deep inhale before continuing, “Talk to me. Please. Tell me what you’re doing here . Why are you with me ?”

Tears were streaming down her face, “You’re ruining it, you know that?” This was all she had - these moments with him where she was able to forget everything. Without that - what would she become?

He shook his head, looking at her in defeat, “Hermione - we’ve been - living in some sort of dream. But the real world is still out there and I want to help you. You can’t keep everything buried. Please. You owe it to yourself to try .”

6 months ago

Thomas was only 3 months old when it happened.

Something called her to his nursery in the dead of night. She had half a mind to wake Ron but one look at his sleeping face and she was unwilling to disturb him. She tip-toed to the crib, expecting to see Thom fast asleep.

At first, it looked like he was simply sleeping. When she realized he wasn’t, she screamed. 

She couldn’t look away from his still form. Her legs were so shaky she had to grip the side of the crib to remain standing. She was mumbling to herself incoherently, willing herself to wake up from this nightmare - willing for something, anything.

Ron came running. But it was too late.

Their son was gone. In an instant, she felt something shatter within her, something break irrevocably.

She thought she had lived through the worse possible thing imaginable - she had survived torture and a war. But this - she felt the pressure building in the back of her eyes, her breaths quicken. This was unfathomable. She didn’t see anything past this moment, outside of this room.

Thomas was her future; she had felt it the first time she held him in her arms - the sudden shift of the world on its axis the moment she became a mother. She felt a gasp escape her lips, her fingers stuck to the crib as the horror hit her over and over, a muddled litany of make it stop echoing through her mind.

She couldn’t look at Ron, no matter how irrational it was, or how much she needed comfort. Whenever she looked at her husband she only saw Thomas. His eyes, his red hair. It was physically painful to be near him.

They buried Thomas a week later, a private ceremony for only the two of them. She couldn’t bear the rest of the world knowing her grief, couldn’t bear anyone to see her in that moment.

She was barely alive - barely breathing.

Ron tried and at first, she tried to fake her way through it - but she found him revolting, his presence inherently wrong.

Overnight her world had turned upside down. The thing that brought her joy brought her pain, and it felt like nothing would ever make it right again.

5 months ago

“Hermione, can you tell me what you’re thinking?” Healer Costa asked, his kind eyes trained on her.

She shifted on the couch, purposefully keeping her focus on the doctor rather than her husband. “I’m not.” She answered finally, fidgeting with her fingers.

“I’m sure that’s not true,” the Healer pushed, his eyebrows raised.

“I don’t think I can keep living like this,” she whispered finally. She heard Ron take in a sharp inhale, as though he were preparing to hold his breath.

Costa’s brows furrowed, “Can you explain what you mean?”

“I feel trapped - in that moment a month ago. I feel like - I can’t breathe. And when I look at him,” she shut her eyes tight, shaking her head, “when I look at Ron, it all comes back.”

She could feel Ron’s eyes on her, could hear him sniffling. She imagined his hand trying to find hers and reflexively scooted further away.

“That’s why we’re here Hermione,” the Healer explained, “to help you move past this - help both of you move forward.”

She shook her head, “How can I move forward when I’m stuck here?” She kept expecting Ron to say something but he remained silent.

“Ron?” Costa asked finally.

“I’m not sure I should say anything,” he mumbled quietly, his voice defeated.

“Why is that?” the Healer frowned, his gaze quickly shifting to Hermione before returning to Ron.

“It hurts her - when I’m here, when I speak,” he admitted.

Hermione couldn’t help herself - she turned and faced him. It was agonizing. She knew he was in pain, could of course empathize. But it brought it all back, and she felt her breathing grow labored, the blood rush out of her head. She shut her eyes, trying to focus on something else - anything else.

The Healer looked troubled, and Hermione wondered not for the first time if it was a mistake to go to a Mind Healer rather than a Muggle therapist. But their lives were too complicated and intertwined with Magic to risk it.

“I think I need to leave.” She whispered aloud - facing neither man. She could feel Ron’s countenance shift, his body freeze, his breath hitch. She imagined all the anger running through his head - perhaps all the words he refused to say.

“Do you think that would help?” The Healer asked after a lengthy silence.

“It can’t hurt.” She told him. She turned to Ron but refused to make eye contact, instead staring at a spot to the right of him, “I’m sorry.”

He didn’t say anything but out of the corner of her eye she could see him nod.

Present Day

“So you just - left him?” Draco frowned, his hand lying still atop hers. Hermione was huddled in a ball on the couch, barely willing to look his way when she told her story.

“I can’t,” she shook her head, “I can’t look at him. It’s - everything reminds me of Thom .”

“That’s where I came in,” Draco mumbled and Hermione could see a shift take place in him, “you needed someone who would be nothing like him.”

“It wasn’t - I’m not,” her voice cracked at the words, “I wasn’t using you Draco. Maybe the first time but-.”

He let out a humorless chuckle, “I’m not saying you did. Well, not consciously.”

“I felt free with you. Like I didn’t have this weight dragging me down,” she explained, though she still found it hard to look at him, now that he knew . Out of the corner of her eye she saw him shake his head.

“Hermione - I like you, alright,” he scooped her into his lap, holding her close, “but there’s a reason you never told me any of this until now. There’s a reason you just said you felt free with me - rather than feel it.”

She was crying, big ugly tears that she couldn’t stop. Because this was her one reprieve, the thing that made her feel like she would one day be okay. She could feel all of her walls come crumbling down, all of the careful barriers she built in her head and in her heart.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled between sobs, her tears permeating through his shirt.

“It’s alright Hermione,” he shushed her, rubbing circles into her back, “but you can’t keep hiding here.”

She shook her head, “I can’t face him. I can’t - it’s too hard.”

“You’re Hermione Granger,” he told her seriously, “you can do anything you set your mind to.”

She asked Draco to apparate her to Grimmauld Place but came close to running the instant they got there.

“You can do this,” he told her.

“Can you knock for me?” She asked, feeling especially vulnerable. Her eyes were still red and puffy from the morning and she felt utterly wrecked. 

“Of course.” He knocked on the door and they waited only seconds for Ron to answer.

Hermione felt the familiar panic the second she saw him, and almost turned and ran. But this time she kept her gaze on Ron, seeing the moment his hope faded into defeat and knew - she couldn’t keep doing this.

“Hi Ron,” she told him in a whisper, “can I come in?” He simply nodded and waved her through. She watched the two men exchange uncomfortable nods before Draco apparated away, leaving only her and her husband.

Ron opened his mouth and closed it again, afraid to speak. It was heart wrenching to realize she had made him feel he couldn’t talk to her. But that’s exactly what she had done - she’d shaken in his presence, run from him. 

She was afraid of him. Of his grief.

“I’m sorry,” she started crying once more, further draining her tear ducts.

She moved to the couch, some monstrosity Ginny found in a hidden room, and let Ron’s fingers graze her shoulder, allowing herself to sink into him, to feel the pain.

“You don’t have to be sorry,” he murmured into her ear.

It was utter agony, being in his arms, a feeling of guilt and comfort and fear overtaking her. “I couldn’t bear it Ron. Being with you - it reminded me of everything that was good - of him . It wasn’t right - you didn’t deserve it.”

It spilled out of her, every horrid thought she had in the dead of night, every fear she had ever known. “I don’t deserve you,” she told him, burying her face into his shirt.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said to her.

“I’m sorry-.”

“No,” he interrupted, “I mean, none of what happened makes sense - our son died. And that was horrible. But we're still here. And I still love you.”

“How can you? I’ve been horrid and selfish and-,” she broke down once more, her voice cracking and tears streaming.

“You did what you had to do to survive,” he whispered, drawing circles into her back.

“How do you do it, Ron? How do you stay so good after everything?” She turned to look at him, for the first time in six months seeing her husband rather than the boy they lost.

“Hermione,” he smiled softly, his hand gently grazing her cheek, “I knew you’d come back to me.”

“I didn’t know,” she said the words under her breath.

“Do you remember what you said - what you told me after Fred died, when I thought the world was ending? I know it’s not the same - but surely you remember,” he gave her a tentative smile.

“This, too, shall pass.” She whispered.

“I told you Hermione,” he murmured into her hair, “we’ll be dancing on rooftops forever.”