It was the kind of thing that came upon a person, quite without them knowing how or why or when it started. It came upon her.
It was for this reason that she couldn't hope to pinpoint the first moment she really looked at him, and saw someone other than her best friend's brother, for that was all he ought to be to her.
But he had become so much more.
She could, however, recall with a vivid and piercing clarity, the moment she became aware of it. Harry had announced to them all that their mentor was dead, at the hand of one of his most trusted. It had been a blow enough for all of them.
She remembered being ushered into the Hospital Wing, unharmed unlike so many of her comrades. A cluster of people stood around one of the beds, blocking her view, and it wasn't until she saw Fleur sobbing that she understood. It was Bill.
Nothing prepared her for the sight of him. He had been ravaged by the most deplorable of beings, Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf renowned for his vicious and unabated cruelty.
Her heart had stopped. And no one was the wiser.
She had reasoned that it was natural to feel that sort of wrenching pain for someone so closely connected with her. She thought it was a familial bond - she had always felt that the Weasleys were like family to her. But she didn't think she would have hidden in the bathroom and cried had it happened to Charlie or to Percy, whom she knew as well, if not better, than she did Bill.
She had realised then, how drawn to him she was. Perhaps it was the quiet intelligence, the softly authoritative nature that was so lacking in his brothers.
It made her think of the many occasions when she had seen him at the house in Grimmauld Place, when he would come upon her in various rooms reading quietly. She never minded the interruption. He would make a passing comment, or discuss the book she was reading with her.
Every time he did she would feel her cheeks flush red and she would chide herself for such irrational behaviour. There was an easiness to his nature when he would chat at the dinner table, entertaining and educating. She found herself constantly enraptured by his stories of dealings with goblins and curse-breakers in Egypt.
Her fascination must have started there, creeping upon her with a stealth she couldn't help but fall prey to.
And though his handsome features were now marred, she found she was in no less danger.
It wasn't until later in the summer following the incident, that she saw him, or indeed any of the Weasleys, again. She had arrived at the Burrow many weeks before the grand event was to take place, in order to help the family with preparations. She had her own preparations to take care of as well, but these involved the journey that she would take with Ron and Harry shortly after the wedding.
Whilst she spent the majority of her time with Ginny and Ron, there were many occasions when she would bump into him in the narrow stairwell, feeling awkward in a way she knew he did not. Bill would simply grin down at her, eyebrows raised, and gesture graciously for her to pass.
On the odd occasion, when she had managed to escape from Molly's determined strictures about cleanliness, she would find various places around the house to sit and have a quiet read, and he would find her still.
She almost would have thought he were looking for her, if she were not so certain to the contrary. She always thrived on their private conversations; he would talk about all kinds of things with her, listening seriously to her thoughts, but never afraid to debate the point. She found him stimulating, and she would thank him earnestly each time.
Sometimes she found him looking at her, only very rarely, and he would seem for all the world as though he were trying to figure her out. Whenever this happened she would glance away immediately for fear that he would make her blush again.
She had never experienced such an absence of composure around one person in all her life.
The very night before the wedding and her planned departure date, having ensured that everything they could possibly require was packed, she found sleep to be elusive, deterred by thoughts of tomorrow.
She crept out of the upstairs room she had been sharing with Ginny, and sneaked past the lounge room lest she wake Molly and Arthur, who were sleeping there. She slipped into the kitchen and almost bumped into a hidden figure in the darkness.
"Oh!" she cried softly, startled by the vibrant heat that radiated off the person before her. Large hands gripped her waist to steady her and she felt certain her heart would jump clear out of her chest.
"Sorry," the voice whispered, husky in response. She recognised it instantly and wondered at his being up so late the night before his wedding.
She swallowed hard and stepped back, letting his hands drop. She still felt their warmth like an imprint upon her skin. The strange moment left her flustered and a little over-heated.
Tension wrapped her in its honeyed embrace and she was certain he must have felt it too, for her imagination could not have hoped to conjure such a feeling. He coughed and light bloomed in the narrow space between them, courtesy of his wand held aloft. It revealed a wry grin that didn't make it all the way up to his dark gaze.
Glancing down, she fiddled slightly with the hem of her shirt, "I didn't realise you were here. I thought-"
"Clearly." He raised the hand not holding his wand to show a tumbler of dark amber liquid, which swished against the crystal, it's colour shining richly in the wandlight. "Just having a late night celebration. Care to join?"
Her eyes widened in shock, her mouth opening though she knew not what to say.
"I don't think-"
He raised a brow and she saw amusement linger in his expression. He was challenging her. She didn't want to always be the responsible one, the predictable one. So she nodded once, and somewhat stiffly.
He grinned in surprise and pulled another glass from somewhere. It was then that she noticed that his wand was hovering without support or much evident concentration from him. She felt a momentary longing for the name of that charm.
When she finally glanced up, his gaze was heavy upon her, assessing, as it had come to be of late.
"Always curious." He whispered the words and she thought there was something hidden in their intent.
As he passed her the glass, she watched his fingers brush hers innocuously. He was watching too.
"So... congratulations for tomorrow." She felt weird saying it, as though it were a taboo subject. It shouldn't be, but it felt that way to her.
There was something strange in his expression which she had no hope of discerning, and she tried to ignore it as she followed his lead and quickly swallowed the liquor. Her eyes watered from its strength and she choked a little at the burning sensation.
He nodded absently to himself and smiled a tight smile.
"Goodnight, Hermione." He spoke softly and touched the palm of his hand to her elbow in what felt, to her, to be a very intimate gesture. Then he was gone, and she was plunged into darkness.
They did marry. And whilst the reception didn't end quite as they had expected, most of the celebrations had been lovely. She thought he looked suave, and Fleur, stunning. It seemed appropriate, despite the uncomfortable twinge it gave her.
She had felt awkward when she hugged him in congratulations, and more so with his wife. She felt somehow tainted by the memory of the previous night, and what it might have meant.
It would be many, many months before she saw him again, and if she had known it, she might have been sure to watch more closely for his smile, to memorise the expression in his eyes.
Through all the weeks spent sleeping in their shared tent, camping in cold and dank forests, she struggled to keep her misery and antagonism at bay. She seldom had time for thoughts of him during the hours of mindless arguing and fruitless strategising.
Sometimes, though, she would catch her thoughts as the lingered upon him, wondering where he was and if that place was safe. She couldn't possibly have known the answer to that though. All she could do was hope, just as she hoped for the safety of all her friends. It was better than worrying about her parents, though she knew they were safe; she missed them indescribably.
For all her years at Hogwarts, she had spent months at a time away from them. This was not remotely similar. Now they were in a foreign country, not worrying about her safety the way she did theirs. Most of the time she could tell herself that this was a good thing, but then there were times when a girl just needed to know that someone was out there praying for her safety.
Hermione's situation, such as it was, was still completely surreal to her. She found that when she was so removed from all of those familiar places, the memories of strange and stolen moments, tame though they may have seemed to others, were dulled and out of focus. They were like a dream she could scarcely recall.
Her feelings of malcontent had worsened when Ron left them, because as infuriating as he was at times, he was her ally, her rock. She found the thought of being somewhere, when he was not, discomfiting. It wasn't because she had romantic feelings about him, though she knew it should have been. Rather, she cried herself to sleep because she felt deserted and confused. It made her question why she was still there with Harry, waiting for something of which they had no clue. And she hated harbouring those doubts almost more than anything.
He was familiar. He was safe. And though she knew well enough that he ought to have been the primary occupant of her thoughts at this time, malignant as they were, she found she had another reason for wishing his return. She missed looking at his warm blue eyes and dark red hair, so different in expression and style, but similar enough, to remind her of his brother.
The most disorientating moment in her life to that point was unequivocally that of awakening in a strangely comfortable bed, to the stunningly beautiful gaze of Fleur, his wife.
She gave her something for the shock, her face glowed with the warmth of her smile, it was a stab to her already warring insides. Nodding, she lifted her weary body against the pillow behind her back, and sipped dutifully at the soothing liquid.
She couldn't think about the events of the night prior without shuddering. The torture of her mind and body would leave a scar such as would never fade. She felt jaded now, not simply because of what had happened on that harrowing night, but because of all of the many horrible things she had seen in the past few months. It was as though the world were a colour she could no longer see.
Ron had held her close as they stood peering at the cottage nestled on a beach of pink-hued shells. The sight had seared her with its beauty and the safety she knew it represented for her.
The moment had changed quickly when Bill and Fleur rushed out. And, in her broken state, she knew that nothing could have prepared her for seeing him again. Clinging to Ron, she watched the alarm on his face, swearing and rushing forward at the sight of her. Without words he hauled her into his arms, out of his brother's sturdy grip.
"It's fine, Bill," she recalled her friend saying, but he was disregarded entirely.
She didn't think Ron had thought anything of the moment. He should have though.
His body hummed with life and heat, and she burrowed closer to the warmth out of instinct more than anything. He peered down at her intensely as he carried her into their house, issuing instructions behind him without a backward glance. She tried hard not to think of his wife as she ran ahead of them to prepare the bedrooms for the injured of their party.
"What happened, Hermione?" He spoke the words softly, slowly: in time with the rhythm of his heart, and the steady thud of his footsteps. He spoke to her like she was a child, traumatised. And perhaps, in that moment, she was.
His expression tightened and his jaw clenched but he didn't press the issue. Instead, he brushed his thumb across her hairline, as gentle as a breath, and touched her temple lightly.
And then they were in one of the bedrooms, and he placed her on the bed, looking at her from the doorway for a moment before nodding to Fleur and leaving the room. She must have fallen asleep shortly thereafter.
Shaking free of her clouding recollections, she set aside the medicinal liquid to listen to Fleur who had suggested allowing her friends to bring her breakfast to her if she was up to it.
In truth, she didn't feel she was, but knew that they would be worried. And she rarely did anything to rock the proverbial boat.
She found it strange living in Shell Cottage, in relative safety and comfort, after months moving from place to place and living hand to mouth. Such comfort came at a price, she found.
For the first few days the small house accommodated nine of them, until Luna, Dean and Ollivander were moved to other another residence. Though this somewhat lessened the constant feelings of claustrophobia she felt, it did nothing to ease the tension that lingered in the cottage.
She found it strange, above all else, to see Bill in his natural environment. To watch the easy way Fleur would caress his cheek or smile her beautiful smile at him. This was nothing new to her, but, she supposed, she had never really seen them as husband and wife before this. The permanence of their relationship only struck her when it danced before her eyes.
She had never really thought about the reality of them as a union. Bill had always existed as a solitary figure in her mind. The change was not one she found easy to adjust to.
The confusion and absurdity of her thoughts was further compounded by the exhaustion and frustration she felt with their present situation. Harry, Ron and herself were spending innumerable hours in the third bedroom, plotting and planning the next stage of their journey. Such was the amount of time she spent in there, under the careful gaze of Griphook, that she always felt as though she were escaping some kind of prison when she stepped outside to breathe in the salty air.
Undoubtedly, the hardest part of her day was the long hour that passed at the dinner table. It reminded her painfully of times gone by, at Grimmauld Place and The Burrow, where they had all sat discussing adventures and making plans. Now the little news they had was of poor consequence to any of them, and it always reminded them that though they were safe, they were trapped.
She could see he was restless; they all were. But she rather thought he was coping worse, though he hid it well.
He was suspicious of their scheming, and had enquired on more than one occasion as to the fruits of their labour. He never directed the query to her though, always Harry, and though this made much more sense, she found she could never throw off the irrational dismay at his not choosing her as his confidante this time.
She knew Harry hadn't told him anything, but that his suspicions remained unabated. He would watch them closely, with his intelligent eyes, weary now with what he had seen and known, and missing all the mirth and pleasure of the man she once recalled.
She always felt exposed beneath the intent gaze, but she knew she would not tell him anything. She was changed too.
Despite this, she knew he would say something eventually. And so he did.
It occurred one night after a particularly fraught dinner. She had excused herself to go outside for some air, seeking more than anything, the clarity so remiss in the confines of her prison. She walked away from the house toward the beach of shells that lined the ground surrounding. The chill air whipped her hair wildly about her face, nipping at her exposed cheeks.
She bent to retrieve one of the gloriously creamy pink shells at her feet, and traced a finger over its curving shape. The sound of footsteps behind her, called attention to the person now standing there. It was him, not at all whom she had expected.
He watched her quietly for a long moment, before coming to stand by her to gaze out at the vast and bruised skyline. Dusk gave way to night.
"I don't like it," he said finally.
She glanced up at him, brow furrowed and uncertain of his meaning.
"The three of you are planning something incredibly stupid with Griphook. I shouldn't need to even say how dangerous that is."
"Then don't say it," she said simply.
He stared at her for another uncomfortably long moment, and she felt certain she would never get used to the feeling. He shook his head then, a sad sort of smile hovering at the corners of his mouth.
"Not so young now... You would have listened to me once, I think."
She didn't know how to respond, or whether he even intended for her to, but chose instead to whisper, "I don't know what you want me to say."
He looked as disconcerted by their present situation as she felt.
The moonlight fell eerily upon strong cheekbones, and reflected in the depths of his eyes. She found herself thinking that there was something infinitely comforting about the familiarity of those features, yet disturbing in the stark contrast they held to his brother.
His expression was dark, and his gaze intense though no less uncertain. She thought he looked as though he were fighting an inner battle and thought it so unlike him to be without all the answers. Confliction shone like silver in his gaze.
He shook his head, as though breaking from a reverie that called to him still. "But you are young still. Too young."
She narrowed her eyes instinctively at the derision exposed in his voice.
"For what?" She bit the words out, knowing that she should have said nothing and walked away.
He laughed darkly and it was a sign of changes to him, for it used to be a warm sound, a rich sound. Now it rang hollow.
"Everything," he whispered, as though to himself, and she was sure they were no longer talking about Griphook and the dangers he presented. This was a different kind of peril.
"Fleur's not much older." She turned to walk away then, certain that whatever the outcome of their conversation, it couldn't possibly be good.
He caught her hand and held it, spinning her back to face him. They were too close now, and it reminded her of things it shouldn't. He said nothing, but the harsh angles of his face were pulled taught with a look she couldn't discern, but which scared her nonetheless. His jaw was clenched, and his breath drawn ragged. She knew instantly that he had not appreciated her candour.
He lowered his face and whispered, his voice sounding raw, "What has Fleur to do with anything?"
She made to pull her hand from his, but this caused him to grab her upper arm, holding her still. She was mortified beyond description at being made to stand there and answer to him, when she felt she had laid herself so bare.
"I don't know... I didn't mean-"
"Yes. You did." The words cut through her.
She tilted her head to look at him, willing to argue the point. Her heart paused. His face was now so close to her own that she could feel the warmth of his breath against her cool skin. He lowered himself further still, and she thought she felt his forehead graze her own. Her mouth was dry, her thoughts a jumble.
"Don't play dumb, Hermione. We both know what's happening here."
Her eyes were wide at his honesty, the admission she had never thought she would hear. It made her wonder what it would cost him.
Surprise caused her to pull back, and she felt his grip tighten instinctively. She knew she was shaking, her chest heavy from breath drawn ragged. She looked at him then, and saw a kind of vulnerability in his face that she had never associated with him before. It made her want to reach out and touch him, soothe him. So she did.
His grip loosened, and she lifted a hand to brush across his throat. She felt him swallow hard beneath her touch, and marvelled. His skin was cool and smooth, stretched tight across the line of his jaw and the angle of his cheekbones. Her fingers traced the shining scars that marked him, listening to the catch of his breath.
She glanced up at him hesitantly, and felt her heart clench at he sadness that lingered there. It was a look she knew would haunt her always. Still watching his expression, she ran her fingers down the plains of his face to brush the cool, firm lips which pressed softly back.
Swiftly then, he pulled away, and hauled her body against him in the dark and shadow. Footsteps sounded on the hard earth, and crunched upon the shells so close to where they stood. A muttering voice carried over the cry of the wind and called her name.
Her heart dropped and in turning to look at her companion, she felt her expression mirrored in his gaze. Wrong. She felt suddenly and irrevocably tainted by the guilt of a crime not yet committed.
When the footsteps retreated to the house once more, she pulled away from Bill and ran back to the cottage, her lips tingling and her mind in full flight.
Time at the cottage wore her down. The hours spent in doors with the same people, the same discussions, exhausted her and the tension between herself and Bill grew intolerable.
She felt him watching her, just as she watched him. But despite their discretion, she found she couldn't believe their strange and unnatural behaviour had gone unnoticed. And yet she knew that somehow, someway, it would come to a head. Soon, she knew, for she found she could scarcely contain the thoughts within her and feared that they would escape without her will. And they did.
It was mere days before Harry, Ron and herself were due to depart, and the knowledge of that hung in the air, lingering and marring every moment with its truth.
She spent most of her nights thinking and wearing herself out until sleep would take her. This night, however, she knew it wouldn't come. Her restlessness was in part due to her constant thoughts about their leaving the cosseted walls of their prison, their haven. But they were also wrought with the knowledge that Fleur was not home this night. She was instead visiting her parents and younger sister, whom she had not seen for months.
It shouldn't have changed things, but somehow it did.
It made her think of him, lying in his bed as she did hers, encased in white cotton. Maybe he was restless too.
It made her think of things she ought not to, to reach decisions, which by day light, she would know were wrong. They didn't feel wrong in that moment.
She couldn't help but think about what loomed ahead of her, about the danger and the recklessness of their plan. And in moments such as that one, when she was feeling particularly morbid, it made her wonder at the chances of them coming out unscathed at the very end. Their task was seemingly impossible.
And perhaps it was the knowledge of such danger, that caused her to think of Bill in that moment, as she had tried so hard not to. It made her reflect on the heat of his hands, which seemed to seep through the layers of her clothes when he touched her. That was dangerous too. A different kind of danger. One that was unknown to her, one she did not know if she was equipped to handle.
Perhaps, he was right. Perhaps, she was too young.
It was only around him, with his commanding and authoritative presence and easy way of controlling a situation that she felt that way. She was forever uncertain of what he would do or what he would say. And though it threw her off balance, it thrilled her all the same.
She knew what people thought, the expectations they all had. She knew that if things were different, if their futures were guaranteed, she would end up with Ron. She knew that was the easy path, the safe one. And yet no matter that she loved him dearly, it didn't feel the way it felt with Bill, his brother who was married.
She had to constantly remind herself of the fact. Though the evidence was always right before her. It was so easy to forget about beautiful Fleur, who loved her husband and whom she could not hope to hold a light to.
But then no one could. And the attraction between her and him was far less basic than that. It was heightened, a mental connection she had never before experienced. One she hoped she never would again.
And she felt sure she would never see him again, to touch his face, or blush scarlet under his gaze. She felt sure that they could not win this war, that she would not grow up to do the things that were planned. She would not marry Ron. She would not marry anyone.
If there was one thing that she had come to learn, a lesson she absorbed with reluctance, it was that things were never to be as expected. She had spent far too long following a certain path because she knew she should.
And she was tired.
She wanted, just once, to be selfish. She wanted to experience what was at her fingertips, before it slipped away. It was an entirely unfamiliar feeling, for she had spent so long putting great causes before her own. As trivial, and as selfish as they may have been.
The admission was like a weight removed.
She lay staring at the ceiling thinking these things when she heard a door opening and footsteps padding down the hall. They stopped at her door for a full minute before continuing down their path. She felt certain her heart had not pulsed that whole time.
Finally she sat up, staring at her side of the door, feeling a part of her pulling her forward. The other begged her to stay where she was. And just this once, she rebelled. Breathing in deeply, she ran agitated fingers through her hair. Nervous energy had her feeling as though she might jump out of her skin.
Her resolve wavered to and fro as she padded silently down the narrow corridor to where the kitchen stood. A sliver of light pooled beneath the wooden door. As she slid it open, she felt the tingle of déjà vu she had known would be inevitable. He stood, aglow in the soft light, with a glass held careless between fingertips. His brows were raised.
It was achingly familiar.
And yet it was different; because she was, because he was. Because they both knew what it meant for her to be standing there, and what it would entail.
He wore pyjama bottoms, slung low enough on his hips to make her want to stare and look away all at once. His chest and his feet were bare, and she felt something clench inside at the thought of him always looking like this, comfortable and free in his own home. His skin glowed bronze in the light, darker than his skin tone then, after so long away from the blistering sun in Egypt.
"Here again," he whispered roughly.
She flushed and looked up from his shoulders to catch his gaze. She felt suddenly very awkward, standing there in the doorway.
"Constantly." His words infused her very being and she walked further into the room, sliding the door closed behind her.
She inclined her head toward the glass bottle on the counter. "You seem to be making a habit out of this."
He stared down at the glass, clearly lost in thought, before responding, "It's newly acquired." He eyed her speculatively before lifting another glass, empty this time. "Dutch courage?"
She nodded fervently.
She would never get used to the burn as it ran down her throat like fire, and wondered how a person could make a habit out of it. Leaning against the counter now, a pose of false comfort, she declined his offer of a second.
Her body thrummed with anticipation. She felt as though she were on the precipice of some great abyss, ready to freefall into unknown territory. The metaphor could not have been more apt.
She wanted to say something, but had no idea where to start. They were tiptoeing around one another, neither certain of their first move.
"Are you planning to run away again?" She tingled at his barefaced honesty. It would seem the time for eggshells had passed.
She shook her head and swallowed. So did he.
"Surprised?" She whispered.
"Nervous?" said he, as he pushed away from the sink against which he had been reclining, and moved to stand before her.
She said nothing, but he knew the answer was yes. A grin pulled at the corners of his mouth. Instinctively she pressed further against the counter behind her, and he moved closer still. Not quite touching, but she could feel the heat of his body warming her own.
His palm brushed her elbow, and rubbed a path up her arm. She could have sworn it burned clear through the fabric of her night-shirt. The palm moved higher and brushed across the lace trim that lined the collar of her cotton pyjamas, tickling her collarbone before coming to rest at the base of her neck.
Her breathing was ragged, and though he hadn't yet kissed her, she felt certain that this was the most sensual moment of her life.
His other hand lifted to touch the tip of her nose affectionately, causing a small smile to crease his lips, before it brushed across her cheek to card through the tangle of her curls. He tilted her head and held her gaze, and she knew that he would kiss her. And he did.
His breath fanned sweet and warm across her and he brushed his mouth so gently against hers that it felt like a breath in itself. It wasn't though.
He repeated the action and she tried to catch him this time; but he held her firm, amused at her attempts. She felt ready to snap at him before he kissed her again. Properly. His mouth was warm and soft, and she was acquiescent. He tasted like all the good things that come from fire whiskey: the heat, the tingling, the drug-like euphoria.
And she wanted more.
His hand moved from her throat to run the length of her spine, tickling the back of her leg as it moved to rest at the joint of her knee. Swiftly he pulled her up against him, grinning triumphantly into her kiss.
All she felt was him. His skin was soft to touch, and she felt the sinewy muscle bunch beneath her fingertips. He lifted her fully then and sat her gingerly on the countertop so that they were closer to eye level.
His hands came to rest on her legs, and she swallowed hard when he slid them apart, to allow room for him in the nook he had created. He kissed her softly, reassuringly. When he pulled away he held her gaze, taking in every small change in her expression when his fingers trailed across the edge of fabric that lined her collarbone. They came to rest at the top button of her pyjama top.
She expelled air fast and he brushed his fingers across the pillow of her mouth in a tender caress. His skin tasted like salt and sun.
He slid the second button from its loop, and the third. And she did not dare breathe. She watched him, watching her, and she felt beautiful beneath his hooded gaze. It was hard not to.
He released the last button from its tiny hole and stared at the expanse of skin exposed between the two sides of her top. Her eyes closed on a breath as she felt his knuckles skim across the path he had uncovered. She thought she would faint from waiting.
He looked at her then, a question in his gaze, and she nodded her head, albeit rather jerkily. Still watching her, he brushed the fabric from her shoulders with careful fingers. He laid her bare.
She heard his breath catch just before he kissed her. Her mind spun as she felt his hands move across her skin. Everywhere. They tangled through her hair, moved down her back and stomach and smoothed across her breasts, ever gently.
His skin felt perfect against hers when she held him to her. Heated and moist. He lowered his head to press a kiss against the downy skin of her stomach, and dropped his hands to her hips. Fingers brushed across the very top of her pants, and she knew what it meant.
And she knew that it was right.
The fabric slid down her legs and pooled at his feet. And so did his. He kissed her again and pulled her close against him. He held her there and held her tight.
Slowly though, he pulled away and looked amused at her expression. His fingertips brushed across her in tiny circles and he whispered in her ear.
"No matter how much I want you, it won't be on the kitchen bench."
She knew she looked confused then, and more still as the sensation of cool liquid seemed to pour down upon her. He took her in his arms again and she watched as they both faded to nothing but a shimmer in the light.
"Constant vigilance." She whispered and felt him laugh against her hair as he carried her back down the corridor.
She never thought they would win the war. But they did. She never thought she would marry Ron. But she did. And she never thought she would see Bill again. And that was undoubtedly her punishment.