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Story Notes:
It's over.

Voldemort is gone, Kingsley is already being called the new Minister of Magic, Death Eaters are caught or dead, and too many innocent lives were lost, but they say it's over now.

Hermione isn't sure how anyone can say that yet. There are still people out there who supported Voldemort, still dangers needing to be dealt with, still people to mourn and bury, still a society to rebuild and a Ministry to reconstruct. It doesn't feel like it's over.

When people begin to celebrate and to grieve, she just feels torn because she shouldn't feel happy when so many aren't here to cheer with them yet she also can't cry because she's so very relieved that she and her boys survived. She's a horrible person for being so selfish, especially when Fred and Colin and even Snape are amongst those lost.

Ron finds her in the chaos, and they just look at each other before he sits on the bench beside her. They don't say anything, but he takes her hand in his and squeezes as they sit quietly watching everything happen around them. It's overwhelming to be here now, surrounded by so many when she only wants two. Time slips away until they finally see him. He looks tired and stressed, but the worry falls away from his face when his gaze finds them.

They stand up and join him, hugging again, and she kisses his neck without even realizing it. His breath is warm against her ear when he sighs, and she feels Ron's arm tighten around her waist before they sneak away from the Great Hall. There are words after that, explanations and stammering as Harry tells them what he had to do without them, and then there's a portrait of a man that she realizes she almost hates right now because of what he's done to her Harry, what he's caused by his secrets and plots, and she looks to Ron, relieved to see a similar look on his face as he stares at Dumbledore.

When they leave the office, Harry takes her hand and she takes Ron's. They leave the castle with her in the middle, which is a comfortable place, familiar, like home. The grounds are a mess, and she looks around in confusion as she tries to take in every detail. Harry's shoulders are tense, and Ron's grip is tighter around her fingers, so she knows they see everything, too. No one sees them, or, if they do, they leave them in peace and let them go.

Harry stops finally when they reach a tree near the lake. She thinks back to lazy weekend afternoons when they sat here studying or talking, and she blinks away tears as she looks out at the lake. The tears fall silently when Harry reaches for Ron's hand or maybe Ron reaches for his. They're complete now. No middles or ends. Just them, as they always are, as they have been even before they understood. Not that they understand now. It's scary and new and she can't help but fear it will never become more than the silent understanding they've acknowledged in the last few weeks since she nearly died.

Selfish. That's what it is, who she has become, but she doesn't care very much because the idea of Harry running into Ginny's waiting arms makes her want to never let him go and the idea of Ron letting them go because he fears she favors Harry or fears his own feelings for another bloke makes her want to yell until he believes her words. Instead, they stand there silently, listening to the distant sounds of the castle until they kneel on the ground. Harry sighs, sounding exhausted, and he holds her against him before he lies down.

Ron rubs her back and stares at Harry, his brow furrowing as he reaches out to remove Harry's glasses. There's murmurs after that, of needing to rest and being hungry and feeling so bloody tired, and she lies down beside Harry, feeling his hair against her cheek as she listens to his breathing gradually become steady. He needs this break, this chance to relax without people clamoring for his attention, and she strokes his cheek as Ron sits behind her.

She looks up at the sky when Ron leans over and kisses her cheek, feeling his chapped lips brush gently against her skin before he moves to lie behind her. Harry sighs in his sleep, but it's not a sad sigh or a defeated sigh. Instead, it's content, hopeful, and she watches Ron's fingers as he brushes them through Harry's hair while she continues the soft caresses to his cheek. Regardless of what the future holds for them now, she knows she won't face it with fear.