The sun was at its peak and shone brightly on the plush green grass of the Quidditch Pitch of Hogwarts. White chairs had been placed in the middle of the field in two neat sections. An eggshell coloured trail of cloth had been placed in the middle of the two sections and it led to a beautiful wooden archway. It was carved with images of the wizarding community, and seemed to have been used on many an occasion. A group of adults were standing near the chairs chatting animatedly with joyful expressions on their faces. A few younger children were running around the chairs and playing exploding snap, laughing and giggling. One of the adults, a plump older woman with thinning ginger hair, left her conversation to scold the children for getting their clothes dirty. The doors to the change rooms on the left side of the pitch were sealed but a faint light was coming through the cracks on the door.
Hermione Jane Granger stood in the change room, which had been transformed into a bridal dressing room. She stood in front of a three-paned mirror in a long, white, flowing gown. She was wearing a muggle wedding dress. She remembered planning the wedding, her mother insisted on her wearing a muggle wedding dress, saying it was tradition. It seemed like yesterday that she hadn’t even chosen the location in which she wanted to be married. But it finally came to her. Hogwarts. It was perfect. It felt like home. It was home.
She now stood in front of the mirror gazing at her beautiful wedding dress. It was a form-fitting simple dress that her mother had told her made her look like an angel. When she had showed the price to her future husband he almost fainted. Well, hopefully he’ll save his fainting for when he sees me in it, she thought, a cheeky grin spreading across her face. I can’t believe I’m actually getting married! I thought I never would, not after all that’s happened. The grin vanished from her face as old memories began to resurface. Hermione quickly wiped a tear from her cheek and frowned at herself in the mirror. I’m getting married today…think happy Hermione! A loud creak from the door set her pulse beating frantically. That better not be who I think it is! She quickly covered her eyes, knowing that it must be the groom.
“Hermione? What are you doing?” said a deep voice, “Hermione…you look…you look beautiful.” The voice was coming closer.
“You’ve seen me!? Don’t you know its bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding?” Hermione called out, her eyes still tightly shut.
“You don’t really believe in all that stuff do you?” said the voice carelessly.
“Well…no, but my family does. Did they see you come in here?” Hermione asked nervously.
“No…I don’t think so. Look I’m sorry but I really need to talk to you. It’s important,” he said shakily.
“Oh, well it couldn’t have waited?”
“No, it’s very important. I wouldn’t have come in here unless it was important,” he replied.
“Well then, what did you want to ask me?” Hermione asked with concern. She heard his footsteps coming closer and felt a pair of large, warm hands grasp her petite shoulders and slowly turn her around. She felt his warm breath on her cheek. It smelt of firewhiskey. “Have you been drinking?” she asked warily. “It was the bridal party. They made me. I hope they aren’t getting too toasted,” he said. It was apparent how nervous he was. His hands began to shake and his palms were sweaty. “Mione, I uh…what I wanted to ask is…Hermione…do you love me?” Hermione uncovered her hazel eyes to meet a pair of electric blue one’s slightly covered by a few wisps of flaming red hair.
**Flashback: 3 years ago, Grimmauld Place**
All those years of torment and despair in the war with Voldemort had taken their toll on Remus Lupin. He looked much older than he actually was. He felt older. He was starting to ache at the oddest times and his hair was streaked with wisps of gray. He stood from his place at the table, heads of blond, brunette and red turning to face him.
“Well, you all know why we are gathered here this evening,” Remus said, his voice shaky, “We are here to honour the memory of a great wizard. He died one year ago today. He died in combat. He died because…he killed…he killed Voldemort.” Remus was now almost to breaking point as he uttered the name. “He died for saving us all. He wouldn’t want us all here mourning for him. But that’s just the kind of man he was. He looked out for everyone else. Made sure that everybody was OK. He was a great wizard, probably the best one that I have known…and ever will know.” Remus held up his glass as he regained his composure, “To Harry.”
A grim response of “To Harry” was heard followed by sniffles and sobs from some of the guests at the table. Hermione sat and ate in silence, spending most of the meal reflecting on her thoughts. After everyone had eaten Remus, Tonks, Minerva, Albus, Luna and her parents, Cho, Padma, Neville, Mad-Eye, and Kingsley Shacklebolt flooed to their respectative homes leaving the Weasley’s, Hermione and the god-awful painting of Mrs. Black in the lonely old house.
The war with Voldemort had come to a triumphant but tragic end. Voldemort and his Deatheaters along with the rest of his recruits attacked Hogwarts in the last year of school for the trio and most of the DA members. Voldemort’s death eaters swept through the castle stunning and killing whatever they could along the way. Thankfully, the order was alerted and was on its way, and most of the DA was ready to fight. Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny began taking out as many Deatheaters as they could. They were positioned at the front of the castle and a few members of the order were positioned at the back. But somehow a group of Deatheaters got through to the Gryffindor tower and they showed no mercy. Parvati, Seamus, Dean and Neville were taken by surprise, but did all they could to protect the other students. Parvati and Seamus worked together to take out seven Deatheaters with some pretty impressive Reductor curses before both were hit with the Kedavra curse. Dean took out three Deatheaters and managed to help fourteen students escape from the Gryffindor common room before being hit with a Reductor. Neville braved his own fears and came face to face with the same Deatheater who had caused his parents to be doomed to a life they would never know in St.Mungo’s, Bellatrix Lestrange. He surprised her with his confidence and hit her with a Reductor so powerful she was thrown through the portrait hole and onto the staircase. Neville managed to escape along with a large group of younger students from Gryffindor. When they got to the Great Hall, they were met by a truly horrifying scene. Three bodies lay in the middle of a small group of people. One of the bodies’ was Harry and the other two, Lucius Malfoy and Voldemort. The school was later told that Harry Potter had been triumphant and killed Voldemort. But not all heroes have a happy ending. Lucius Malfoy was a coward and took advantage that Harry was weak after killing Voldemort and hit him with a Kedavra curse, square in the back. Draco Malfoy had professed that he was on Dumbledore’s side and proved where his loyalties lay by hitting his father, his own flesh and blood, with a Reductor. No one was the same after Harry died.
Hermione now sat in an old drawing room reading a revised version of Hogwarts: A History. It now included all of the Trio’s adventures as they went to school at Hogwarts. She was flipping the pages and her eyes fell upon a picture of the Trio standing in the Quidditch pitch after the Gryffindor Quidditch team had one the Quidditch Cup in their final year. Hermione was standing beside the two bedraggled boys, both grinning and waving. Ron was looking around, holding the Quidditch Cup, and at one point, pinched himself just to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. She looked at Harry in the picture and her heart fell. His piercing green eyes stared back at her and his hair was as messy as she ever remembered it being. His arm was swung loosely over her shoulder in the picture, and she couldn’t help remembering that moment. It had been so perfect…
“Hermione? Oh, I’m sorry…I didn’t know you were in here,” said a voice form the doorway. Hermione turned from her seat on the couch to see Ron staring back at her with uncertainty.
“It’s OK. Come in. Um…I actually wanted to talk to you about something. Something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she said gesturing him to sit beside her.
“Are you OK Herms?” he asked, taking a seat beside her, never loosing eye contact. He was genuinely concerned for her. It was the first anniversary of Harry’s death and he knew how much Harry had meant to her. They were like family. After Harry died, and even before, Ron suspected that Harry and Hermione were together, but never brought it up because he had been in love with her for so long. Hearing that she loved Harry in a way more than friendship would have broken his heart.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just memories coming back and all,” she said, “But what I had to tell you…well Ron I…you have been one of my best friends for so long, and I’ve realized something about you that I didn’t know before.”
“You have? I mean what have you realized?” he asked nervously. He wanted her tell him that she loved him. He had waited so long to hear her say those words. Every day when Ron saw Hermione his heart literally skipped a beat and he hoped everyday that he would get the courage to tell her how he truly felt. Unfortunately, he waited, and waited and never got around to telling her, and now he felt it was too late. Or is it? He thought hopefully.
“Ron…I’ve wanted to tell you that I…you mean so much to me and I want us to be together Ron,” she paused to collect all of her thoughts and said the words that she had been meaning to say for so long, “Ron, I love you.” Ron’s heart must have stopped, because Hermione was beginning to look worried. She looked at him uncertainly, hoping he would reciprocate her feelings.
“Mione’…I love you too. I love you. My God, I’ve wanted to tell you for so long!” he said, raising form the couch triumphantly, “I love you Hermione Jane Granger!”
“Ron, stop it!” she couldn’t help but smile at how sweet he was and shouted, “I love you Ronald Bilius Weasley!” She jumped into his arms and held his face close to hers for several seconds, gazing into his eyes.
“I love you,” she whispered. She pulled his face to her own and captured his lips in a passionate, consuming kiss that must have lasted a long time because they hadn’t even noticed Ron’s parents standing in the doorway, grinning.
Hermione stared at Ron, almost confused at the situation. He looked at her waiting for an answer.
“You want to know…you came in hear to ask me if I love you? How can you…how can you possibly ask me that?” she asked, sputtering.
“Well it is a valid question,” he replied. She quickly moved away from him, causing his hands dropping to his sides. She looked confused and angry and kept shooting him furtive glances.
“After all that’s happened, you’re asking me if I love you. I told you the year after we graduated; in fact I shouted to the world that I love you. And now on the day of our wedding you’re asking me if I love you?”
“Hermione, do you remember last summer when we…when we first made love?”
“Of course I remember. What has that got to do with this?” she asked him, now utterly bewildered.
“Well when we did, I said I love you, and you didn’t say it back. And ever since then I always wondered why you hadn’t said it, and only one conclusion came to me. You were with Harry weren’t you? I mean you were…you know, with him before,” he asked, looking at her suspiciously.
Hermione was taken aback at Ron’s forwardness on the topic. But she couldn’t lie to herself. She had been with Harry. It was the day before he was killed. The DA and the Order had been warned that Voldemort and his followers might attack the next day and Hermione knew that that night might be the last chance she had to tell Harry how she felt about him. She was Head Girl and had her own common room and bedroom that connected to the Gryffindor Common Room. She and Harry were in her common room and she told him that she loved him. When he told her that he felt the same way, she was overcome with emotion and knew that she couldn’t waste the time she had with him. She needed to be with him. Harry felt the same way. When they made love, he looked into her eyes, into her very soul. They were one. When they were both spent, Harry pulled his t-shirt over her and wrapped his arms around her, and held her as she fell asleep. When she awoke in the morning, a pair of green eyes were staring at her intently, and Harry’s voice filled her head with a sweetness that no other voice could, “Good morning sunshine,” it said. He kissed her forehead gently and shifted back into place so that he could gaze at her. Hermione had never felt happier then at this very moment.
She knew before it happened, then when she and Ron made love, it would be nothing like with Harry. She knew that instead of Ron looking deep into her eyes, he would be staring into space, feeling awkward and unsure of himself. She knew that instead of pulling his own t-shirt over her so she wouldn’t be cold, he would grab his clothes and hastily pull them on. She knew that instead of him holding her in his arms, he would walk towards the door and turn and say that he loved her. She knew…she knew that in the morning instead of her waking up to Ron gazing at her intently still wrapping his arms around her, that she would wake up, tired, and miserable, with Ron nowhere in sight. And that is why when Ron had stopped before leaving her room to say that he loved her, that she had not said it back. But she knew that she couldn’t tell him all of this. He was already unsure if himself. She didn’t want to make it worse.
“Ron, you don’t understand. Yes, I was with Harry. The day before he…” she said, not, wanting to mention his death.
“So the reason you didn’t say that you loved me was because you were comparing me with him?” he asked warily.
“No…it’s not like that. Ron I do love you. It’s just that being with you, made me remember him. That’s all. I do love you,” she said, wanting him to believe her. Ron began to step towards her with a look of concern in his eyes. Hermione was confused at her own actions. She didn’t know whether or not what Ron was saying was something to take into consideration. Do I love him? Of course I do. Or else I wouldn’t be marrying him. This thought wasn’t at all comforting. Hermione stood, looking at Ron, thinking about why she was marrying him.
When Ron had proposed one year earlier, Hermione was taken aback. He had asked her parents permission, bought a beautiful ring, and made a lovely dinner for the two of them at his flat. He got down one knee, and asked her to marry him. “Hermione, I love you, and I want us to be together for the rest of our lives. I want to take care of you, and I want us to grow old together. Hermione, will you make me the happiest man in the world, and marry me?” And the first thing to pop into her head was, Harry.
She thought of how much she still loved him. And she thought of how he and she were together for one perfect night. And she remembered how the day after, he had left her…left her to kill Voldemort…left her so he could die. “Ron…yes…yes I will marry you!” She remembered that she didn’t want to be left alone again.
“Ron, when you asked me to marry you, I said yes…because…oh Ron, I don’t want to be alone again!” she was crying now and Ron had no idea what to do, “Ron I love you, but not in the way you love me. Not in the way you need me to. When Harry died, I thought I was going to be alone forever. I loved him so much. And then, you made me see that I didn’t have to be alone. That I could be with you.”
“Hermione, that’s not fair, for either one of us, and you know that,” Ron said placing his hand atop hers, “Hermione, maybe we shouldn’t get married…I mean, if this is how you truly feel, we can’t.”
“I know. Ron, I’m sorry…I’m so sorry I didn’t tell all of this to you before. I don’t think I realized all of this before myself.”
“Hermione, I’m sorry that it came to this. So…which one of us should go tell everyone?” he said trying to lighten the moment. But inside, his heart was being incinerated. He knew that Hermione Jane Granger marrying him was just too much. Something had to be wrong. When he had asked for her hand in marriage and she said yes right away…that’s when he knew that something was not right. But he never asked her, he wanted his bliss to last forever. But that day, while he was getting dressed he realized that he couldn’t let Hermione go through with the marriage. He couldn’t let her live a life that she really didn’t want in the first place.
“Maybe you should tell them. I have to go somewhere, there’s something I need to do,” she said turning away from him. She walked to the other side of the change room and picked up her long black trench coat.
“Ron…thank you,” she said simply. A loud popping sound followed and she was gone. Ron was left in the change room with a slightly damaged ego and a heart broken beyond repair. But he knew that he still had to go tell everyone what had happened.
After Hermione had apparated, she trudged through the long grass of a hill in Godric’s Hollow, passing a few trees and a patch of Lilies. She finally reached her destination and bent over to read the words on the headstone before her. They read: Harry James Potter, the boy who lived, remains forever in our hearts. She bent over to be closer to the headstone. “Good morning sunshine.” Hermione placed a few flowers that she had picked on the way, on the front of the grave. “Whatever happens today Hermione, I want you to promise me that you will always love me.” Hermione ran her fingers over the name on the grave. “Because ever since the day I met you, I knew that I would always love you. I know that I will always love you.” A salty tear rolled down her pink cheek and dropped onto one of the delicate flower petals. “Harry, I promise, I will always love you. I promise you.” Hermione stepped backwards and in a hushed whisper said the words she hadn’t been able to say for a very long time.