May 1, 1996, around nine o’clock evening (?)
“Hang on a moment!” said Ron sharply. “We’ve forgotten someone!”
“Who?” asked Hermione.
“The house-elves, they’ll all be down in the kitchen, won’t they?”
“You mean we ought to get them fighting?” asked Harry.
“No,” said Ron seriously, “I mean we should tell them to get out. We don’t want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us —”
There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There’s a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
“I know, mate,” said Ron, who looked as though he had recently been hit on the back of the head with a Bludger, “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”
“Never mind that, what about the Horcrux?” Harry shouted. “D’you think you could just — just hold it in until we’ve got the diadem?”
“Yeah — right — sorry —” said Ron, and he and Hermione set about gathering up fangs, both pink in the face.
—“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, chapter 31: “The Battle of Hogwarts”
Before they left, Hermione turned to Ron and in her low voice told him:
“We will need to talk, when we have some free moment.”
She didn’t know, it won’t be before the next morning they will have moment to stop. Meanwhile, however all remaining Horcruxes were destroyed, Harry died and risen from death (or at least it looked like it), and Tom Riddle was finally defeated and died. And even then, it took them another day of mostly just sleeping and eating, before they sit together.
Ron was the one who started.
“So, do you think we have something important to talk about?” He smirked a bit hoping for the best.
“Yes, we do. I have to say how sorry I am.”
“Sorry? What you are sorry for?”
“For that kiss.”
“Sorry, for kissing me? You didn’t do anything bad.”
“No, I mean … let me explain. And, please, let me finish, it is hard to get it out even in one piece”, she added hastily, when she saw Ron coming effort to talk her out of it.
“I am sorry, because I sent you very confusing message and my only excuse was that I was very much confused myself. I was stressed out of my brain by all events of the past day. We were very close to dying twice in one day, not mentioning my fear of heights and jumping from flying dragon. Merlin, they will probably kill us for blowing the International Statue of Secrecy wide open! Any ideas how to Obliviate half of London or talk them out of seeing a dragon flying over the centre of The City in the middle of a day?
Focus, girl! This is not the point now! So, I was completely stressed out and then you showed first concern for house-elves after four years of my trying! I just lost it, and I was so happy I just had to kiss you. Almost immediately I knew, it was wrong. Our first kiss should happen only when I felt like kissing you not because I just forgot myself. Then, however hormones kicked in, and, please, forgive a girl enjoying being snogged by a boy she dreamt for five years. It took me a bit of effort to collect myself and then another moment before thinking how to stop without hurting you.
Poor Harry, it had to be the most embarrassing moment of his life!”
“But Hermione, I don’t understand! I really thought that we have something going on, and that our only problem was my stupidity and cowardice to admit it!”
“Yeah, I thought so too for a long time. Then well … It was during the fights here in Hogwarts on Saturday. I was running around like crazy and slowly I begun to feel I was just running on autopilot. When I recognized the signs, I froze in horror, because I know, that it is extremely dangerous for me not to think, and I knew if I wouldn’t stop and quiet myself, I will most likely die soon. Then without my effort I got separated both from you and from all Death Eaters. I was alone in a classroom and tried to collect myself. I hate to say it but obviously all those Quidditch trainings did a lot of good for you two, and I was really out of my breath. While waiting to settle down a bit, I began to think to try to organize my mind again. And surprisingly to me at the time, the first thing which came to my mind was not where to run and how to fight, but what is the situation between us two.”
“Well, yes, perhaps, but I came very quickly to the conclusion that us two being together is just wrong. Or let me tell it more completely. You are a great guy, probably the biggest friend I have in the world, and I hope and pray that this discussion won’t change anything on it. …”
“Wait! The biggest friend? What about Harry?”
“Yeah, I know. My relationship with Harry is too complicated, but I can say certainly that for example you know about me more than Harry. Don’t you think that during all those arguments we know each other more than with Harry who doesn’t speak with us more than two words, when he can get away with it?”
Ron looked completely shocked, and he couldn’t to say more. Hermione continued:
“I stood there in that hallway and I have contemplated probably first time in my life a possibility that I am going to die. Before that, with troll in our first year, or with the snake in the Godric’s Hollow, I have never had time to get shocked, but this time I could stand up and think. And it was obvious to me that there is a pretty high chance, I wouldn’t be living next morning. That was a wee obvious, but then I was surprised by completely unexpected thought: I was not persuaded that if I am gonna die tonight, I would like you to be the only guy I have ever kissed.
I suddenly saw that I have managed to develop quite a tunnel vision in the last four years or so. I was so concentrated on waiting for you to ask me out that I have not thought about much anything else. There in the middle of night, considering the possibility of my demise, I suddenly knew, that I really couldn’t live with you for the rest of my life happily. I would spent it wondering whether there wasn’t somebody else, and I felt that agreeing to go out with you would lead to very quick relationship, quick marriage, because we did most of our dating already anyway, except for the physical part, and happily ever after. It would be something very easy, something which suggests itself, but I contemplated Dumbledore challenge to do what’s right and not what’s easy, and I was not certain which it is. I was truly afraid of spending the rest of my life wondering whether there wasn’t somebody else and I just settled for something obvious.”
“So, in the end you have decided for Harry, haven’t you? You don’t have to go Hermionish complicated on me.”
“That’s exactly what I did not want to say! You see, that’s what everybody expects from me, that I am going to end up with one of you two, and my job is just to decide which one it is.
Honestly, I am telling you truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the reason why I am calling dating of us two off, is because I don’t know, and I would like to cool down, take the account of where I am right now in my life, and decide what to do next. And, I really need to go to Australia to find my parents, because after five years I would really like to talk with my mum.
Concerning Harry, that’s another can of worms, where I am lost. Yes, although I said you are my best friend, Harry is closest to me. He was always so moody and shut down, that surprisingly I don’t really know that much who he really is. On the other hand, there was nothing more natural for me, when we two were drowning in the Won-Won disaster, then to turn to Harry and to cry on his shoulder, and he obviously didn’t have problem to admit to me that he is similarly unhappy with Ginny going out with Dean. It was absolutely natural, like breathing out and breathing in, but there was nothing romantic or sexual in it, it was just like coming to my brother to complain how the world is nasty to me.”
“That’s true, he also said that he considers you as his older sister.”
“Now, the question is whether we were just fooling ourselves, and there is something more underneath we are afraid to admit, or whether it is just that … we have truly adopted one another, and he is just my little brother now, and going out with him would feel just wrong. And I really don’t know whether going to him wouldn’t be just easy, like that following everybody’s expectations that it will be just you or him. Not mentioning I couldn’t do it to you, just after we would finish our three years or so non-dating phase.”
“So, if not Harry, it is about my deserting you last year, isn’t it?”
“Oh, that! I am so sorry, I was so stupid!”
“What? Hermione! I am the one who was stupid, who deserted you both! I should be the one to apologize!”
“Yes, and you did it over and over and over again, and I was too bloody proud and stupid to recognize what was going on?”
“What was going on? We were on the mission to save the wizarding world, and I fell into stupid petty personal jealousy, and left that mission for falsely accusing you of lying to me behind my back. End of story! I am the one who is stupid!”
“No, you are not! Do you accuse Ginny of multiple counts of attempted murder, … well, including of me?”
“Of course not! She was possessed by that stupid diary. How could eleven year old resist the power of Riddle with all the dark magic on top!”
“So? You had exactly the same thing on yourself for couple of months. How is that any different? That you were seventeen? A big difference! And I knew it, but because I made it all about me and how you deserted me, or perhaps because I was under the influence of that bloody locket as well, I let myself got hurt so much, I was not willing to let of that hurt feeling and wallowing in my hurt. Of course, I have forgiven you long time ago, and I really need to ask you for forgiveness how stupid I was. However, you should also forgive yourself. I don’t know why it affected you more than me and Harry, or it just decided you were the easiest to attack from us three, but we were its victims not perpetrators, and we should all let it just go. I am really sorry for not saying it earlier.”
Ron was silent for a longer moment, contemplating Hermione’s words, but then he smiled again.
“Besides, if you would think anything about Harry, you would have to fight about him with Ginny, won’t you?”
“I am not actually that certain about it. Haven’t you noticed how Ginny looks at Harry lately? One of the things I was looking forward under that tent was how they two will look at each other when they will see each other again. And it was not what I expected. Harry was certainly eager and excited, but Ginny when she shown herself in that entry to the Room of Requirement looked very uncertain, embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed. I would say something more happened to her during the last year than terror of Death Eaters in the castle, and some boy was involved in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the castle Harry and Ginny have right now a similar talk to ours, but with somebody else mentioned.”
“Ginny? How could she? That’s horrible idea!”
“Well, that is the same what I am talking about here, isn’t it? Harry let her go for whatever reasons, and if you let them go, they may never return, right? Perhaps I will find out I have missed the best opportunity of my life, but I really would like to think where I am before doing anything else. And doing what’s right implies living with a risk, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, but still … do you have any idea, whether there is another bloke involved?”
“She didn’t say, we were staying on the superficial description of what happened last year, and still we haven’t finished, and I didn’t want to pry. However, it seemed to me her eyes are just wee bit too shiny whenever she looks at Neville, don’t you think?”
“Neville? Are we talking about Neville Longbottom? I don’t get girls at all! Why would anyone give up on Harry because of the bumbling Neville?”
“Well, I have to admit he looked pretty dashing when cutting that snake’s head! And I am quite certain Ginny is not a crazy brainiac as me, so she appreciated deeds like these much more. And talking about bumbling, could you tell me who else stood up to Voldemort with clear expectation of immediately dying? The only other ones who stood to him were if I am not mistaken Dumbledore and Harry, and they both had good reasons at that moment to believe they will survive the encounter.
Besides I dimly remember, that shared near death experience is rather good way how to start a life-long friendship. And if Ginny and Neville were among two leaders of the Dumbledore’s Army last year, I would say they had plenty of opportunity to live through experiences like that.”
Ron was obviously preparing to say something, but then he stopped, and he was just silent. When he didn’t say anything for couple of minutes, Hermione thought she should say something, but even she then decided she had said everything she wanted, and she should leave Ron to his thinking. It took him another moment, but then he looked at Hermione’s face first during the whole time they were sitting there together.
“I should be probably horribly offended, angry, decimated, but the honest truth is that I am actually relieved, and you are completely right. We were both so focused on whether we should or should not start dating each other, and curious how it would work, that I have not been really thinking whether you are the one for the last couple of years.
Don’t laugh at me, but when I was thinking about it right now, I am suddenly not certain whether I don’t want to give another try of dating Lavender, now when we know she survives that Greyback’s attack. I mean, the thing in our sixth year, yes the Won-Won disaster is a good label, was all wrong, and not much more than a mutual tonsils examination, but I don’t think the proper relationship between us two is completely hopeless now we know more what we want and what we don’t.
I get what you are saying about being your best friend, and yes, it makes a lot of sense, I feel the same. From all people in the world, my family included, you know probably most about me by far. However, when I stopped for a moment now, and actually thought for a little longer horizon than our first kiss, and yes, you are right, I haven’t focused much further down the line about us two in the last three years, so when I thought what would our life looked like, I have to say, it is not exactly what my dreams are about.
I mean, you are great woman, and you will make some wizard, or well even Muggle, if it comes to it, very happy, but I am not sure it would be me. You will go after your great crusades, liberate all house-elves, make Pureblood love Muggles or something like that, and then you will finally be the Minister of Magic. In between you will have to live your life very much in public, participate in all stupid social functions, and I am not sure I would like to be part of such life as glorious and awesome as it is going to be.”
Hermione blushed intensely but she hasn’t said anything. Ron continued.
“After all those years longing to be noticed and celebrated, and when finally, I am at least one of three Saviours of the Wizarding World, I don’t think I would like to live such life in front of all people. Perhaps something what my parents have would be better. To lead normal life, perhaps be regular Auror or perhaps even just help George with his shop, to have normal wife, doing normal things, caring for our kids … perhaps that’s much better life for me.”
Hermione looked him with a bit of admiration, it seems he really grown up a lot in the last year.
“If you don’t want glamour, then I am not certain Lavender is the best woman for you, she is all about glamour, but I understand what you mean. It makes a lot of sense. Also, I am not sure whether she would be a good housewife like your mum is. When I have visited her in the hospital wing in the morning, she was all about plans for her life. Perhaps it was just trying to keep her hopes up when she doesn’t really know whether she will be walking again, but she looked like she cannot decide whether to be an Auror or whether to open her own boutique with her line of wizarding fashion.”
Ron’s face turned into one big question mark.
“Lavender as an Auror? That’s crazy, isn’t it?”
“I am not sure about it, but I don’t think it is such nonsense, as I would think just couple of days ago. Ask Ginny who she was like in the last year. We have apparently all missed that she is a Gryffindor for a reason. She would be certainly very different Auror than you or Harry will be, killing darkness with the pink lace …,” she snorted, “… but she apparently was able to transform all her gossiping network all over the school into the efficient espionage operation which made her run in circles around Carrows, so the Dumbledore’s Army knew everything in advance, and the Death Eaters never found where the leaks were. I would never expect Ginny to be so in awe over Lavender, or frankly that anybody would be in awe over any of her achievements, but apparently she was brilliant.”
“Wow! Auror Lavender Brown! Who would ever believe that? Interesting.”
He didn’t want to say more, but his mind was evidently very busy and it was somewhere else than in the presence of Hermione. He was so lost in his thoughts that he slowly left without saying goodbye.