At breakfast, Hermione slipped a note to Ron. It simply said 'Meet me in our room on the sixth floor at the end of classes. Please, I really need to talk to you'. The room was empty when Hermione arrived and she began to doubt her resolve to find the answers she so desperately craved. Looking over the grounds, Hermione remembered the heart felt words that Harry had said to her before breakfast, and those words, more than anything else, stopped her from fleeing. The view over the grounds was the same as it had always been, and as Hermione contemplated what exactly she wanted to say, Ron walked in.
“What's up?” he said happily.
“Who is she?” Hermione asked timidly, afraid to hear his response, but knowing that she needed to know the answer to allow her to let go of the past that would never return. She remained gazing over the grounds while she gathered her thoughts, then turned to face Ron and hear the answer to the one question she had needed to know since she first found out about his relationship.
Ron was slightly taken aback by the question, and he looked at Hermione quizzically for several moments before answering. “Her name is Sam, she's a Ravenclaw”
“How did you meet her?” Hermione asked.
“I met her at the beginning of the year, just after we broke up. I was practicing transfiguration and she came over and asked for some help. Things just developed from there. I wasn't expecting it and I wasn't looking for it. She simply became the person I needed as she wasn't involved in everything like we were. When I was with her, I could forget the past, she helped me to get through the grief that I felt and I began to see a bright future at the end.” Ron paused and looked at the girl who had been by his side since first year, the girl whos usually bright eyes were red and puffy from far too much crying. “What's troubling you Hermione, I know you haven't been yourself lately. I probably should have been there more, but it was just so painful.” Ron trailed off feebly, feeling guilty about his behaviour towards Hermione of late.
Hermione didn't quite know how to begin her tale. Telling Harry was one thing, but telling Ron about her broken dreams was another. He had already moved along his new path, and Hermione was about to take the first steps on hers. She took some deep breaths and ordered her thoughts. 'Why is this so hard' she thought to herself. 'Talk to him, find out why, let him go and move on. It is time.'
“This is going to sound really stupid” Hermione began. Ron just smiled. “I always thought that we would end up getting married and spending our lives together. Then the war came, and we saw so many horrible things, and lost so many friends. Everything changed and all the dreams I had were swept away. I was happy when we broke up because we obviously weren't getting along too well. Its funny, I would have thought the war would have brought us closer together, but really it just brought our different perspectives to the surface.” Hermione could feel fresh tears starting to form and she quickly blinked them away.
“Its alright, just get it all out.” Ron said to Hermione, noticing the tears starting to form. He hadn't had a real talk with Hermione for a long time but she was right, there were things that needed to be said, and he as usual had avoided talking to her as he saw her fall apart. He knew that a lot of her pain was because of him, but the coward within him had surfaced once more and he couldn't get up the courage to go and talk and comfort her.
Hermione continued on with her tale. “I was dealing with everything as best as I could, and I tried to get back to normal. Everyone was dealing with the loss and the grief. I was doing as well as could be expected, there were good days and bad days, but generally as the days turned into weeks and the vivid memories of the horrid battle began to fade, things became easier.” Hermione took a deep breath to calm herself and continued, trying to keep her voice steady. “But then I saw you and her...I mean, Sam, and I fell apart.”
“I had no idea who she was but there she was in your arms. It brought back all the terrible memories because there she was living my life, the life I could no longer have. It just made the losses of the war even more real. Harry helped me a lot, he was always there to talk to when I needed him and he took me flying to take my mind off things. It worked to, the following days definitely became easier. I guess it also helped that you were hardly around anymore. I didn't want to appear jealous or anything so I didn't say a word to you.” Hermione paused slightly as she recalled the moment in Hogsmead when her world once again disintegrated. “But then I saw you and her in Hogsmead and then everywhere else I turned, and it was too much.”
“I lost it, I know I did. I've always read books but never to the point of falling asleep because I didn't want to give my thoughts time to wander. I lost it because seeing you with Sam emphasised everything we had seen, all we had lost and how much everything has changed. But I also didn't understand you. You never seemed upset and you moved on so quickly with a new girl and from my perspective as someone who was holding onto normality with the thinnest stand of a unicorn hair, I couldn't understand.”
“The final part in my tale of self destruction was last night when I saw you and Sam here. This was our secret, the spot no one else knew about. I guess I felt a little betrayed that you would share it with her when you hadn't even told your best friends her name.”
Hermione stopped and breathed. Finally she had told her story to the one person she needed to tell it to. She turned to look over the grounds, the final rays of the sun casting a golden red glow on the western horizon, bringing an end to the day, just like Hermione was bringing an end to this chapter of her life.
“I'm sorry Hermione, I never thought. I just like this place, I've come here often this year, and I just wanted to share its beauty with her too. I should have thought about you” Ron said sadly.
“Ron, its okay. It was just the culmination of a thousand bad days that caused me to overreact. Though itis good I didn't put a hex or anything else on this room” Hermione said with a small smile.
“Where should I start?” Ron asked, uncertain about how to tackle all that Hermione had said.
Hermione turned to face Ron, and shrugged her shoulders. “Where ever you want.”
Ron took a breath and released it slowly. “It was hard” he began shyly. He had told all this to Sam, a girl he had only known for a few months, but for some reason it was hard to tell Hermione, one of his best friends and the first girl he had ever loved, and who he still loved. “The war has been so hard on my family, and it wasn't just last year either. My mother has been in a constant state of worry for several years now. She never knew if we would all be coming home, and I guess now she knows. We were all in so much danger, our family and our friends, and I guess it was inevitable that we wouldn't all see the end. Over the holidays, there was a lot of grieving with my family, so by the time I got back here, I was kind of okay. It was hard, but I had come to accept the losses and the sacrifices.”
“In a lot of ways actually, it was nice to be back at school and back to a somewhat more normal routine. Sam at first was a person I felt like I could talk with when I needed to. I didn't want to go to you or Harry because you carried the same burden as I, so Sam became my confident and psychologist, and then my girlfriend.”
Ron looked at Hermione, hoping that his story had brought her some peace. She seemed a little brighter now, like a huge weight had been lifted. Her cheeks were rosier and her brown eyes seemed to bubble with the anticipation of new tomorrow.
The answers that Ron had given her, brought peace back to Hermione's heart. For the first time she didn't see Sam as an enemy who was stealing her life, just simply a girl who had helped Ron to continue with his. All this time she was under the illusion that Ron was hiding away from his pain in the arms of a new girl but that was the complete opposite of the truth. He had found solace through her and she had helped him heal. However, Hermione had some unfinished business with Ron and with her eyes sparkling, she looked at Ron cheekily and said, “I have two more questions for you. Number one, are you going to spend more time with Harry and I now?”
Ron looked at Hermione guiltily, “Yeah, I have no reason not to now. At first I just needed time by myself, and then I wanted to spend time with Sam, and after you found out about her, I avoided you because I didn't know how you would react and I didn't want to have to answer questions. Your second question?”
“When are you going to introduce her to us?”
Ron smiled, it was probably about time he thought, “soon”.
Hermione and Ron left their not quite so secret spot on the sixth floor together, probably for the last time, and returned to the common room. Harry had been sitting there waiting for them and he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the smile on Hermione's face. They came over and sat down by Harry.
“Her name's Sam” was the first thing Hermione said when she sat down. “She is a Ravenclaw and Ron is so in love with her”. This caused Harry to bring his hand to his mouth to stifle the laughter that was about to escape him as Ron turned bright red in embarrassment.
“So, I take it that your quills are going to last a little longer now Hermione”, Harry asked remembering the two broken quills he had found on the table that very morning, evidence of Hermione's fast paced and hard pressing writing style of late.
“Most definitely” she replied.
For the first time in ages, Hermione, Harry and Ron sat down in the common room, smiling, laughing and teasing each other. Everything had changed, but one thing remained, they were friends, friends who had done everything together, homework, detention, rule breaking, and even saving the wizarding world.
(A/N...Thanks all for reading. Please leave a review, I love getting the feed back.)