She is the strongest person he knows.
And he doubts he'll meet anyone like her.
He left. But then he came back. Though nothing will change the fact that he left them to fight the war on their own for months.
Harry never really had a choice. From the moment Voldemort hunted him and his parents down, Harry was the war. Hermione, on the other hand, chose to fight. She stayed when ridiculous laws about blood status made her worthless despite her actions and abilities. She protected her parents, denying them of a daughter in exchange for their lives, so she could stay and fight.
She is the strongest person he knows.
And as she screams under unforgivable curses thrown at her, he remembers why and yells her name. Hoping with everything he has that she can stay strong. Because they aren't finished. Their fight isn't over. She and him haven't even started. They can have a future. They are almost there, he knows it. And she can change their world. She already has changed his so much. He won't be held responsible of his actions if she doesn't hold on under her tormenter.
But then he finally hears her speak. Her voice is broken and weak, but he still hears her lie to Bellatrix.
After too many Crucios and who knows what else, shelies. Hermione manages to keep her head clear enough, despite fear and pain, to make up a believable story.
He feels his heart hammering rapidly against his ribs. He has trouble catching his breath, his throat is sore and his eyes are wet. He can feel bile rising at the back of his throat, the room starts to spin.
He feels sick.
She throws up after dinner.
Fleur tells them that it'll be awhile until she'll be able to keep food down. He doesn't know whether it's a side effects of her torture or of the months on the hunt depriving herself of food. His eyes rakes over Hermione's frail body as she stands against the sink. He remembers how ungrateful he was regarding her cooking the previous months in the tent and swallows down the guilty lump in his throat. He watches her grab the glass of water Fleur gives her.
He feels like throwing up too.
Because she suddenly looks so fragile. And Hermione isn't fragile. He is scared beyond anything of losing her. The war has taken so much from her already, he doesn't want to worry about how long she'll be able to hold on and stay strong.
He wants her, on the other side, alive and complete.
But as she settles down on the bed and winces in obvious pain, he feels his body shake uneasily.
He doesn't think they'll ever be okay.
The first time he eats after the battle, he can't keep the food down.
Hermione hands him his toothbrush without a word. He takes it and thanks her with a sharp nod that renders him dizzy.
"You should go lie down," she tells him softly as she puts her hand on his forehead.
He closes his eyes, welcoming the sensation of her soft skin. Her fingers brush his fringe slightly and it's suddenly too much. He can't hold back. He reaches for her, clings her body close to his and bursts into tears, his head resting in the crook of her neck.
There is so much he wants to say, but he doesn't know where to start.
Everything twirls in his mind.
Months in a tent. A heavy downpour and bitter dark feelings. Constant fear. Her gut-wrenching screams endlessly echoing. Harry killed Voldemort. Fred is dead. She is not.
Before they go to Australia to find Hermione's parents, he spends a lot of time observing her.
Maybe because now he can openly look at her without fearing to let his emotions slip. He watches her and he knows he can see more than she wants to show.
She barely holds herself together.
One morning, they go to her house. They have to verify it's still standing. When they get there it looks unscathed, her protective enchantments stayed strong.
He never doubted it.
He is checking the bathroom when he hears her scream. His blood freezes and his heart stops immediately. He runs to her bedroom and finds her trembling on her knees. Her face is sickly white as she stares wide eyed at two bodies lying on the floor in front of her.
He forgets to breathe and steps closer.
Suddenly, the bodies twirl and change. It becomes her, lying lifeless in a pool of blood, Greyback on top of her.
If he didn't know she was alive next to him, it would have been impossible for him to cast the charm to make the Boggart go away.
"Riddikulus," he chokes feebly. And Greyback becomes himself and Hermione isn't lifeless anymore but is laughing under him as he tickles her. Within seconds, they vanish and the room becomes deafeningly quiet.
He stays rooted in his spot, trying to push the images he just saw away from his memories. He doesn't want to remember this. But he cannot unsee it.
He looks at her, now curled up in the corner of the room, and starts to make his way towards her. Before he reaches her though, she jerks up and runs to the bathroom, emptying the contents of her breakfast in the toilet in a painful lurch. He holds her hair out of her face.
When she is done he flushes the toilet and makes her sit on the lid before wiping her face with a wet towel. She doesn't say anything but he reads her eyes effortlessly when she looks at him.
Thank you. I am exhausted. I want it to be over.
He doesn't know what to say.
He doubts it'll ever be over. Not in their nightmares anyway.
He holds her hands and she clings back strongly. As the minutes pass, both slowly catching back their breath, he witnesses her pull herself back together. When she finally stands, her right hand still clutched in his left, she looks a little bit more like the Hermione he knew from before. Resolve is burning behind her eyes and his heart leaps in his chest.
He falls in love with her all over again.
They've been in Australia for a week, and she's been throwing up for the past 24 hours.
She reads his concerned eyes like an open book. Because the nightmares are still strong and the Cruciatus wrecked her body and soul, and he just can't stop himself from being worried. Just when he starts to think she was getting better, she isn't.
"It's just food poisoning, Ron," she tells him such a Hermione-like way he can't help but smile despite his worry.
He still holds her hair up. Again.
"But I haven't gotten sick and we've been eating the same thing."
"That's because you have the stomach of an Ukrainian Ironbelly."
He implores her to go lie down and rest, and he knows she really isn't feeling well when she doesn't protest and lets him lead her to the bed. For a moment his mind flashes to a few months prior when he put her to bed after that fateful day at Malfoy Manor.
She looks at him knowingly.
"It's just food poisoning," she says again feebly, lying down.
He nods and lays a kiss on her forehead. She is asleep before he even closes the door.
Downstairs, he finds her father sitting on the couch, looking at him expectantly. The older man has been trying to talk to him alone ever since Hermione told them about the war. Ron knows and he's been avoiding him.
"She hasn't told us everything has she?"
He ponders how to answer Hermione's father's question without saying too much. Words never were his thing.
"I've never met anyone like her," he finally says, his eyes shining with the tears he is trying to conceal."She is the strongest person I know." His voice is hoarse, the memory of her name on his desperate lips still too fresh.
It's the first time he voices this to anyone. He smiles sadly thinking he ought to tell her.
He needs to tell her so much.
She is drunk. And she is the most brilliant sight he's ever seen.
It's Percy's wedding and they are dancing. He doesn't remember how she has reached such a state of drunkenness - he suspects George may have something to do with it - but as she dances against him, looking more carefree than he's ever seen her, he doesn't care.
Her hands are all over him, her tongue sliding along his throat. He groans and pushes her away. She looks at him with wide eyes and pouts exaggeratedly. She knows too well he can't resist her when she looks at him that way. He lowers his mouth down to hers and kisses her thoroughly in the middle of the dance floor. He vaguely hears teasing whistles, and he can feel her smile against his mouth. Even drunk, she has him wrapped around her finger. Her hands lower down his back and she grabs his bottom firmly, pulling him towards her.
He groans louder.
Regaining very little self control, he takes her hand and turns around toward the exit, barely stopping to bid Percy and Audrey goodnight, or anyone else for what it's worth. He quickly acknowledges their knowing smirks but can't bring himself to care. Not when Hermione is tugging on the waistband of his jeans with her free hand while giggling like a mad school girl.
They floo back to Grimmauld Place. And it has a slight sobering effect on the both of them. Anything that was initiated at the reception dissipate instantly as Hermione grips his wrists with both hands and closes her eyes tightly.
"Ugh, I feel sick," she states seriously, breathing deeply in an attempt to control her queasy stomach.
"Then lie down and you'll feel better in the morning," he lies, the throbbing headache of hangover looming over him already.
"No, I need to throw up," she tells him irrationally as she heads towards the bathroom.
"No, you need to lie down," he insist, following her, "I'll go get you some water and crackers to help."
"No, I have to throw up, it'll help. I read it!" She argues back sternly.
He watches her stand and wait in front of the toilet, hands on her hips. The sight is just so comical, he cannot stop the laugh in his throat.
"Come on, this is ridiculous, have you never been drunk before?"
"Have you met me before or are you not my boyfriend?"
He can't help it. Even if her words are slurred and even if she just told him she needed to throw up, when she calls him her boyfriend his body warms up and he needs to touch her. He reaches for her faster than she anticipates and kisses her.
"Come on, come to bed."
He just means for her to lie down and let her inebriated state pass. She is too drunk, whether from the alcohol or his kiss he doesn't know. He feels lightheaded.
He leads her to the bed and manages to remove her shirt and bra before she bursts, out of nowhere, in a fit of giggles. Her breasts are doing things when she laughs and he feels himself grow harder. He groans audibly and closes his eyes, even though he'd rather keep staring at Hermione's breasts. He doesn't want to take advantage of her when she clearly isn't like herself.
He opens his eyes, and whimpers at the sight, his legs are barely holding him up. She is giving him that same pout she did on the dancefloor at his brother's wedding. And suddenly, as if she knows exactly what she is doing, she flashes him a devilish grin and pulls him strongly toward her.
He figures there is a first time for everything and even though it is certainly not the first time they've had sex, it will be the first time in such a drunken state. For a fleeting second, he hopes he can perform, but then she kisses him and he forgets to be worried.
The sex is brilliant and she is loud. Much more than usual.
Afterwards, he reckons that he should get her drunk more often.
There are threats against them.
He knows because he's an Auror and everything regarding her goes through his office. Not that she is aware of it.
He makes sure nothing goes further than his department, although he doubts he's fooling her. Lately, he's been getting home later than usual and in a darker mood. Some narrow-minded people have been very angry at her for trying to change their laws and as her hearing with the Wizengamot gets nearer, opponents get louder. He carefully investigates on every single letter she receives.
And he's losing sleep.
One day though, a threat is more serious than he anticipates, and someone manages to reach her office before he can stop them.
But she is Hermione Weasley and they didn't really stand a chance. The man manages to cast a silent curse her way. She falls as she tries to avoid it and knocks her head on her desk, blood flows instantly. But she is quick on her feet, like always, and disarms her assailant with a sharp switch of her wand.
Later that day, he is filling out paperwork to report the incident, bile retching up his throat, when she enters his office.
"How many?" Her voice echoes in the empty office; his colleagues, including Harry, are interrogating witnesses to figure out how this could have happened.
"How's your head?" He ignores her question, unable to even look at her.
"Ron. How many?" She insists as she comes nearer.
He confesses that she has been at the centre of his investigations in the recent months. The thought that her attacker could have hit her straight in the chest, that he could have avoided everything by being more thorough, is unbearable. Tears rise up and fall mercilessly on his cheeks.
"How could you lie to me?" She asks, taking two steps back away from him.
He raises his eyes to meet hers.
"I wasn't lying."
But even to his ears, his words ring false.
"It was lying by omission and you know it, don't play games with me," she says and he hears the anger rising in her voice.
"I was just trying to protect you," he whispers, painfully swallowing the lump in his throat.
"By not letting me know that I was in danger!"
"It's just... You've just... You haven't had nightmares in so long. I didn't want to give a reason for them to come back," he replies defeated and looks down.
She sighs, walks towards him and takes his hand. He closes his eyes as her lips touch his right temple.
She doesn't argue back.
Something is wrong, he knows it and he keeps telling her. But she doesn't listen. She is too scared he will be right.
She is pregnant and she has been having morning sickness any time of the day for so long he doesn't remember a day in months when she hasn't thrown up. The Healers told them it's normal, that the first trimester is a benchmark they have to go through. When she starts her fourth month of pregnancy, she is still sick. She has to lessen her work at the Ministry even more.
They go back to the Healer. And they hear the worst news of their lives.
That night, he helplessly holds her, tears streaming down his face and sobs ravishing her.
"You're the strongest person I know," he tells her over and over again.
It is not easier.
When she gets pregnant with Rose, she throws up once. And he hands her crackers and a glass of water shakily. Telling her that everything is fine this time, even though he is afraid to be wrong.
But after that, the pregnancy is smooth and a few months later, Hermione gives birth. He is barely able to keep hislunch down all the way through the labor. But when it's over, he finally gets to hold his little girl and he doesn't remember why he felt so sick.
That day, he reverently tells the baby how lucky she is to have such a strong mother.
Later, the dawning sun is streaming through the curtains of Hermione's room and she smiles at him as he sits next to her on her hospital bed.
"I love you," he says quietly.
Hermione sighs contentedly next to him. He turns and lay a soft kiss on her forehead.
She looks tired, yet more serene than he's ever seen her.
She comes home from work to Rose loudly sobbing in Ron's arms. Fat angry tears rolling down her little reddened cheeks.
He sees Hermione assess the situation rapidly and he knows he's in trouble when she eyes the empty chocolate frogs boxes on the kitchen floor.
"She wanted to try to catch one herself," he blurts out innocently, rocking Rose against his chest in an lamentable attempt to calm her.
"Ron! You can't give her everything she wants! Her stomach must be killing her," she tells him disapprovingly as she quickly grabs a glass and fills it up with water.
"You only say that because all you've been craving lately is chocolate frogs and you don't want Rosie to eat up your stock!"
For a minute the room is completely silent, even Rose has stopped crying, and he wonders if he's gone too far.
"That's preposterous," she replies angrily.
But before she can say more, he grabs her behind her neck with his free hand, and kisses her deeply, making sure she can taste the chocolate he ate before she arrived.
When they part, he smugly watches her try to catch her breath.
"You're unbelievable," she sighs as she rolls her eyes. But she is smiling as she gives Rose some water.
He makes note to keep a chocolate frog nearby at all times.
It's never been easier to end an argument.
It's Harry's 28th birthday, and everyone is gathered outside of the Burrow as the sun settles down. Lanterns float in the air and give the garden a peaceful yet celebratory atmosphere.
The three of them are standing slightly aside from the rest of the family. Sometimes they just need that. To be Harry, Hermione and him. Together.
Ron holds their now two month old son with one hand and a glass of wine in the other when the baby starts to fuss.
"I'll go in to feed him, you stay here."
She takes the baby from his arm and kisses Ron lightly on the lips. He watches her retreat towards the house longingly.
"You're unbelievable," Harry shakes his head grinning slightly. "Looking back, I'm glad you two got it together only after school. It's sickening enough watching the two of you undress each other over the dinner table now. I don't think I would have been able to stomach it at school."
Ron doesn't reply, only grins back at Harry. They chatter on effortlessly until Hermione comes back, Hugo dozing off in her arms.
"Hey," she says breathlessly, throwing Ron a look Harry wishes to forget. Ron wriggles his eyebrows back at her in a silent conversation and she flushes prettily, Harry groans loudly.
"Seriously guys, it's my birthday and you," he points at Hermione accusingly, "are holding a two month old!"
"And how do you think that two month old got here in the first place?" Hermione asks and Ron can't hold back his laugh at Harry's dumbfound expression. Hermione nudges Ron with her elbow, scolding him half heartedly.
Harry is at a loss of words.
"You're just frustrated because Ginny won't let you touch her," Hermione adds knowingly.
"Hermione Jean Granger! I. Love. You!" Ron yells proudly and she beams back at him.
"She- she''ll give birth a- any day now," Harry stammers uneasily. "She is just uncomfortable at the moment." He pauses, watching them as Ron takes Hugo from Hermione's arm. "Surely you know what that's like?"
But the couple looks at him sheepishly, holding back their knowing grins.
"Honestly?" Harry groans, although he looks like he doesn't want to know more.
But their conversation stops abruptly as Hugo starts to fuss in discomfort.
Ron turns the baby in his arm, laying his stomach against his forearm. The infant calms down instantly at the change of viewpoint and extends his chubby arms out as if he's trying to fly.
"You sure there's nothing we can do?" he asks Hermione worriedly. He hates seeing their son hurting.
Hermione shakes her head, mirroring Hugo's pout sadly and caressing the baby's hand soothingly.
"He's still too young for Muggle medicine or a magical cure. Maybe we should try giving him formula."
"What?" Ron asks too fast and he catches Harry's amused smirk from the corner of his eyes.
"Well if he is colicking the best way to stop it is to change his source of nourishment. Clearly my milk isn't good for him so we should try a different one," Hermione explains matter-of-factly, although she clearly seems unhappy about it.
"What is wrong with your milk? Rose didn't had a problem with it."
"Nothing is wrong. But every baby is different and something that was right for Rose doesn't mean it'll be right for Hugo."
"But- but your boobs, they- will they- I mean-" Ron stammers. Their surroundings are completely forgotten, as he uses one hand trying to mime that Hermione's breasts size will reduce if she stops breastfeeding.
Harry chokes on his wine spilling half of it onto the grass in understanding and Ron vaguely hears Hermione's disapproving tut before Hugo starts to cry again. He can feel his son's upset stomach against his hand and he begins to rock him to soothe him but the baby's cries only intensify. In an attempt to calm him down once again, Ron switches the baby back to a seated position in his arm, but Hugo cries even louder. Before Ron can realise what happens the baby hiccups and throws up all over his shirt.
"Let me," Hermione tells him, noticeably red in the face as she reaches for Hugo and wipes his mouth with her hand. The baby then nestles against her neck, still slightly sobbing as she rocks him gently.
"Come on, let's go find you another shirt, lover boy," she laughs as she makes her way toward the house once again. "In sickness and in health right?"