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Phoenix in the Ashes by HPFF United
Chapter 87 : More Skill Than Luck
 
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Ron couldn't sleep. Absent-mindedly, he ran his fingers through Hermione's hair. She was curled up on his shoulder. Snuggled in, the collar of his Chudley Cannons' jersey that she always slept in was just barely visible over the covers.

She was snoring. Loudly.

Ron couldn't hide his smile. Our kids'll never sleep through that. Merlin knows I can't. How could a witch so tiny make so much noise?

Occasionally, she snored loud enough to wake herself up. Like now…

Hermione looked up at Ron, the crinkle-line between her eyes furrowing. "Why are you awake?" It was more accusation than question.

"No reason."

"You're in charge of the Auror roll call tomorrow morning, aren't you?"

"Well…yes."

She clawed at his jumper, like a cat scratching up a spot to rest on. "Then quit smirking at me like that and go to sleep!"

"Yes, love."

She was out again before he even responded to her. Ron couldn't help but shake his head, a bewildered, but contented grin covering his face. Bossy, mental, pain she is. But I wouldn't trade her for anything. Brightest witch of the age…And she's all mine. How did I ever get this lucky?

HpHpHp

"You added Felix Felicis to Ron's juice this morning," Ron mocked, "that's why he saved everything…"*

Hermione lost the rest of his speech as she fired off her retort. "I never said you couldn't – Ron, you thought you'd been given it too!"*

He stormed off out of the changing room.

Harry was at a loss. He'd faked putting Felix Felicis in Ron's goblet at breakfast to ease his best mate's nerves. He never thought it would create another row between his two best friends. Bugger all. What doesn't? He rallied and tried to get her to come to the victory party with him.

"You go!" Hermione shouted at Harry, blinking back tears. "I'm sick of Ron at the moment, I don't know what I'm supposed to have done…"*

She'd wandered the grounds for at least an hour, avoiding the party in the Common Room and the stares from the few students that she encountered, who were clearly a little taken-aback by her mumblings to herself.

"The git! My fault? How is this my fault! Stupid, redheaded ponce!"

She was muttering with such bitterness, three first-years on their way to the greenhouses stopped short.

"What are you looking at!" she barked.

"N-nothing," one replied.

"Don't you have someplace to be?" she snapped.

"Detention with Professor Sprout…we were just…"

"Then you better get there before I take points from your House. Now!"

They scurried off, out of her sight. She instantly forgot them.

She continued to fume. Insufferable Ronald Weasley! Horrible, rotten, stupid, lazy… "Eating machine! That's all he's good for! Ruins everything! Always."

Her mind drifted back to the Yule Ball. The mere thought of his behavior at the dance nearly drove her to cast Unforgiveables. "Arrrg!"

Then she thought of Slughorn's Christmas party."I was going to ask him to be my date! What was I thinking!"

Hermione was so angry she didn't realize that her wanderings had taken her back to the Quidditch Pitch. When she realized where she was, she pulled up short. Almost unwillingly, her eyes drifted up to the goal posts Ron had so successfully defended in the match against Slytherin.

"Without Felix Felicis…" She shook her head, trying to clear it of the thought. But she couldn't escape the logical side of herself. Buried in rage, it had at last forced itself to the surface.

He did it on his own. You've always known it was in him. Is it so hard to admit it now that it's finally happened? He's strong, a hero. Isn't that what you've been waiting for? For him to finally shed the role of the unsure boy and become the man you always knew he was?

"He's never been more than a friend. And a bad one at that. That's all." The words were weak as they escaped her throat.

Really? Is that it? Is that why you've clung to him, despite all his faults all these years? Is that why you've been stomping around Hogwarts for the last hour, fuming like a spoiled child?

Hermione drew herself up. "He's…infuriating!"

Why? Because he challenges you? Because he refuses to bend? He'd walk through hell on his hands for you, but he'll never crawl for you. Hasn't he shown you that?

"I can't stand the sight of him!"

You love him.

She gasped. "I don't."

Do you think he loves you? He shouldn't, after the way you've treated him.

"The way I've treated him? I've always taken care of him, done his homework, soothed him, supported him…"

Loved him.

Hermione felt her breath catch at the thought. "Oh, sweet Merlin…" It all came crashing down on her at once. He was the one. She knew it, as hard as she'd tried to fight it, she finally realized the Ron she'd been waiting for all these years, the strong, confident wizard she'd always knew was there had finally come on the scene.

"And what have I done? Oh, gods."

She didn't hesitate. At long last she knew what she had to do. She was going to find Ron - find him and tell him everything. And apologize, as painful as that would be.

And then?

Then I'll snog the red-haired ponce senseless. She felt her cheeks flush at the thought as a huge smile covered her face.

She tore off back to the castle at full tilt, past the befuddled first years she'd shouted at earlier, through the gates and up the stairs. She flew down the corridors to the door to the Common Room, shouting the pass word at a slightly offended Fat Lady.

The door swung open revealing…

"Ron?"

"Face stuck to Lavender!" Seamus chortled. "You'd think they'd come up for air here soon!"

The sounds of the party swam around her: music, laughter, shouting and catcalls as Ron snogged Lavender within an inch of her life.

"Ron…" Hermione's eyes dropped. Have to get out of here. Have to leave. This can't be happening. Not now…

She fled the Common Room as quickly as she'd entered, finding an empty class room, and shakily pulling herself up on the teacher's desk.

She couldn't think. She couldn't focus. How did I let this happen…

She took several breaths. Steady yourself. This isn't you. You're not a lovesick schoolgirl!

Slowly, her shaking hands took out her wand, almost without thought. As if they had a mind of their own, they began to cast charms. Practice. Distraction. That's what I need.

It took four tries before her conjuring spell worked. Focus! With a deep breath and a flourish of her wand, she'd finally regained her control. Four yellow birds appeared in the air before her.

That's when Harry found her.

HpHpHp

How did I ever get this lucky?

A low rattled snort of a snore escaped Hermione again, waking her. She frowned up at her husband.

"What?" Ron asked, befuddled. "What did I do?"

She was about to lash into him, but then she came more fully awake, realizing where she was. "Everything," she replied sweetly, pulling his face down to hers. She gently pressed her lips against his. "Now. Go to sleep!"

Fin.

AN: Many thanks to 1917farmgirl and Melian for betaing. Thanks ladies!

This story is dedicated to ghostchicken (aka siledubhghlase), who passed away on May 26, 2011. She was a brilliant author and a wonderful beta. An incorrigible R/Hr shipper, I can only hope she would have enjoyed this story. She will be missed.

*Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, pp. 299, J.K. Rowling, Scholastic, 2005.


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