A/N: This story was written for 2019's Romione Fluff Fest over on Tumblr. I was so happy to be able to submit something for this awesome fest! This fic definitely has a fair dose of angst, a decent chunk of smut, and a fluff finisher. Hope you enjoy it! x
The door to the sitting room at Grimmauld Place opened suddenly, and Hermione rushed in first, dropping her bag on an armchair and shoving her hair off her shoulders as Ron followed her, collapsing onto the sofa and propping his ankles on the coffee table.
He watched as Hermione carefully removed her shoes and sat beside him, tucking her feet up, and he stretched his back dramatically as he yawned. It had been a long, busy day for both of them. Ron had begun Auror training a week ago, so his days started (way too) early and ended late, and Hermione was helping her parents reopen their dental offices. At least he still got to be with her every night, he reasoned, glancing sideways to smile sleepily at her as she faced him and rested her elbow atop the back of the sofa, dropping her cheek to her hand.
"You know what I was thinking?" she said softly, studying him.
"I never sleep at home anymore."
"Do you want to?" he grinned, unconcerned.
"Of course not," she laughed.
He stretched his arm across the back of the sofa so it rested against her elbow.
"I'd have asked you to move in," he admitted quietly, "but you're leaving in three weeks anyway."
He'd meant to sound light, but the subject was constantly hanging over them. His grin faltered as her arm slid off the sofa, and she looked away from him, toward the unlit, empty fire.
"You would have?" she asked in a small, tentative voice.
He watched her thinking, a pastime he'd become quite familiar with. He liked to think he'd gotten fairly adept at reading her, at sensing her mood and understanding her worry. But sometimes - just then, as an unfortunate example - he wasn't so sure.
"Could I take your offer next summer?" she asked, still looking away, so he had to answer her stoic profile.
"Yeah, 'course." That was something to look forward to, at least. If they could survive ten months apart, they wouldn't have to do it ever again.
But her expression, from his position, seemed to darken further at his answer. A solemn dreariness settled across her tired features, and she briefly shook her head.
"I can't ask you to promise that," she sighed, and he thought he could almost hear her voice break. "That's so long away."
An uncomfortable wave of apprehension rose up. Ten months was a long time, but he'd been operating under unspoken assurance that they'd fall even more distractingly busy with work and school, and they'd see each other as often as possible, and, all of a sudden, she'd be back home with him.
"What do you mean?" he asked dryly, tamping down the waver in his voice.
"A lot could happen before then," she nearly whispered, sniffing.
Apprehension shifted quickly to genuine fear, and he swallowed hard before speaking hoarsely.
He hated this, actually. He hated when she went quiet and inside her own head. Rowing was easier. Sure, they might say something they didn't mean, but they'd also get the rest of it out so no one had to guess… At least this was true now… now that they weren't hiding the way they felt about each other.
They weren't. Were they? An old, cast aside fear rose up inside him, surveying the situation attentively.
"Well…" she finally answered, "you'll be an Auror by then, won't you. You'll have your own life."
Shit, he really needed her to look at him. A pool of impossibly heavy regret was spreading through him, regret that he'd even mentioned her leaving at all.
"You know what I mean." A telltale rise in the pitch of her voice alerted him to how nervous she was. "We'll both be busy with studying and work, and we have no idea what could happen."
For the first time in this suddenly dire conversation, she'd mentioned herself, adding studying to the list of reasons why ten months might be so much worse than he'd guessed. And what could this mean, then? She thought they might drift apart, that she could?
He swallowed again, forcing words through his constricted throat.
"Are you saying all this because we won't see each other every day or because a year is too long?" He had to hope his meaning was clear, that he needed to know the difference between a difficult separation and the possibility that he was blindly accepting that he might lose her.
"Both, I suppose." He could see her eyes filling with unshed tears now, and he finally turned away from her to face forward.
How had things gone so wrong in the mere minutes they'd been home? He felt sick and confused, as if he'd been hit in the gut with a bludger.
Silence engulfed them uncomfortably for several minutes until footfalls down the hall signalled Harry's arrival. He entered the room and obliviously made his way to an empty armchair. Ron thought he should probably feign a lighthearted mood, long enough to dispel Harry's possible questions, but he couldn't make himself do it.
"Alright?" Harry asked, on cue. He glanced between his two bleak friends and pushed up his glasses, concerned.
"Yeah, fine," Ron managed in a raw, completely unconvincing tone.
"Come off it," Harry suggested, eyebrows lifting with scepticism.
"Just tired," Ron added, avoiding the gaze of his best mate as he hauled his feet off the coffee table to stand. "I'm going to bed."
He sensed Hermione glancing briefly up at him but didn't focus on it, making his way to the open doorway instead.
"Me too, Harry," he heard her say as he turned the corner for the stairs. "Goodnight."
Ron was pacing his dark room, lost in a tidal wave of thought. He'd numbly brushed his teeth and changed into his pyjama trousers, forgoing a shirt.
Was he making an irreparable mistake? Hermione had assured him before that he was doing the right thing to join the Aurors with Harry, even though he'd been surprised she hadn't tried to push them both to finish their education first. But now…
There was a soft knock on his door, even though it was cracked open, and she wasn't supposed to think she had to do that. She was there to stay the night with him, wasn't she?
He opened the door for her and stepped back as she walked in, and a small tinge of relief flared up that she was both dressed in thin pyjamas and closed the door again behind herself.
They stared at each other for a tense moment before he let out a heaving sigh and ran a hand roughly through his hair.
"We can't do this."
Her eyes flashed with uneasiness, and he quickly clarified.
"Can't be away from you for a bloody year."
"Ten months," she corrected softly.
"Close enough!" and he resumed his pacing, aware of her somber gaze on him from her spot standing motionless by the door. "The Aurors might take me back next summer. I could-"
"It really doesn't matter," he continued, aware that he was losing control a bit, and his head was spinning. He was well past irrational. "I can find something else to do."
"You can't give up your life," she pleaded, and he stopped to really look at her. Fucking hell, she was perfect.
"You're my life," he breathed, choking as he tried not to bloody cry.
Oh, God, he'd never said anything like that to her before. She looked just about as shocked as he felt.
He turned away and scrubbed his hands across his face and was ready to resume his pacing when she grabbed ahold of his arm.
"D-Do you mean it? I mean that much to you?"
"No, I've just been fucking around all summer," he said defensively.
Her grip loosened on his arm but she didn't let go, and he immediately regretted his words. He'd just admitted something bloody meaningful, and now he sounded like an arse.
"You don't exactly have the best track record for me to compare it to," she bit back, and he reckoned that stung less now than he'd thought it would.
"Not bloody fair," he muttered, and she did let go of him then. He deserved that, he knew, and he shifted to stare down at her, overwhelmed.
He could literally hear his watch hands ticking for a moment, from his bedside table, beneath his own uneven breath.
"Yeah, I meant it," he stated simply, what he should have done when she'd asked, but it took a lot less courage to fight than it did to be this honest, intentionally.
She was breathing quite sharply as she stared back up at him.
"I can't just see how it goes while you're gone," he continued, "and you don't seem to feel too bloody confident about it."
"How am I supposed to know how you'll feel in ten months?!" she shot back, rather shrilly.
"Because I'm telling you! You don't think it counts we've known each other seven years already?"
Her arms crossed protectively over her chest, or maybe it was just because she was shaking and didn't want him to see.
"It counts," she said tersely, and he finally recognised that she was holding back tears again.
"M'sorry," he sighed, collapsing to sit on the edge of his bed. "Reckon we had to figure this out eventually."
He'd have given up anything to know what she was thinking, but at least her silence felt less striking when he looked down, away from her.
His mind tried a game it had unconsciously learned long ago, searching for an impossibly mundane thing to focus on to avoid the serious one, and he found his gaze tracing the pattern of the wood grain of the floor as he waited for her to say something, anything - to chuck him, leave him alone to bloody cry.
"You're my life, too," she said, in the tiniest voice.
Dizzying hope swirled through him, and he lifted his head to fully look at her again.
She took a step closer, another, and her tears fell silently down her face as she reached him, stepping between his knees and wrapping her arms around his neck as he gripped her waist, still comprehending her words. Slowly, he began to smile, pulling her closer so his cheek rested on her chest.
"Then what're we upset about?" he half-laughed, closing his eyes.
"Nothing," she muttered to the top of his head.
They stayed that way for several blissful moments, her hands in his hair as he listened to the beat of her heart.
"That was bloody intense. Gotta stop blurting things out without thinking," he laughed lightly.
She softly tugged his head back to look down at his face.
"Mm, like the time you said you loved me in the Prefect's bath an hour after the war was over?"
"Bloody hell. I'm bad at that."
"No, it was perfect."
He took a deep breath and blinked slowly up at her beautiful face.
"When you're worrying about the future, just don't worry about me, yeah? Unless you come to your senses and chuck me…"
She kissed him gently, and his eyes slid shut again. He'd become so comfortingly familiar with the taste of her toothpaste, and his hand slid up her warm back as he sighed through his nose.
As they pulled apart, she muttered, "Is it still frightening sometimes, that we can do this?"
"After years of wanting to but being too bloody afraid to try it? Yeah," he agreed with a grin.
She let go of him and crawled past him, into his bed, and he followed her, settling as they always did near the centre, so close they were sharing a pillow, facing each other.
He loved this, those quiet moments when they were alone, when her eyes met his and didn't dart away. Now, they didn't have to. It had taken mere moments to understand, after that first kiss, to feel how much they'd held back. But now, it would take an eternity to get enough of it.
He laid his hand on the side of her neck and licked his bottom lip to speak.
"I know you said not to before, but fuck It, I'm doing promises."
"Okay," she smiled.
"I'm gonna see you every weekend while you're at Hogwarts, even if I have to break every school rule to do it."
"Dunno. But I will. I'll figure it out."
"What if you have to work?"
"Mm, right. But once a week then, even if it's just for a minute."
Her slightly widened eyes seemed oddly reflective in very low light, and he watched her swallow before sliding her face forward to kiss him again.
"That's a really good promise," she mumbled, lips still so close that they brushed his as she spoke. "My turn."
"Yeah? Okay," he smiled.
"Mine's more of a confession than a promise."
She touched the tip of her nose to his.
"This is going to sound so ridiculous, but I- I think I love you more than books," she whispered, as if afraid to speak the secret aloud. Oh, God, he was going to remember this, every second he missed her. Every fucking second.
He laughed nervously, deflecting the seriousness of such a statement from Hermione Granger.
"I mean that," she added, trembling lightly. "I know I'm so bad at this, at saying things like this to you, but if I knew for sure I'd… lose you, if I went back to school, I'd never go."
He regrettably tried to reply, unsure of what he was even planning to say, but his exhale broke to a cry, and he shook his head, closing his eyes.
"Less than a year ago, I thought you fancied Harry." He felt her hands on his face and opened his eyes again.
"And that might've been the most ridiculous thing you've ever worried about," she said, wrinkling her nose.
"Bloody hell, dunno why I'm crying," he laughed, sniffing. "I mean… shit, I know why. You fucking love books."
She laughed with him, pushing him to his back and crawling over him to sit on his thighs, hands on his bare chest. She always looked so adorably nervous when she did this, and he felt his affection for her spread like water overflowing the edges of a glass as she bent forward, hair falling off her shoulders to tickle his neck as she pressed her parted lips to his.
The kiss was slow at first, as the others had been, and as she pulled back for a breath, he held her face in his hands and swallowed, considering what he was about to ask for merely one second before saying it out loud.
"Sod it. Move in this weekend. Then you won't have to do it in June. You can just… come home."
"Home," she said quietly, eyes darting between his. He reckoned he didn't need to hear her answer to know what she was thinking.
When she kissed him again, it was almost like the very first time, frantic and full of everything they'd never said. Her thin pyjama top slid beneath his hands as he touched her, the enticing warmth of her body under it making him feel far too impatient. Evidently, she felt the same way. Her tongue slid between his lips as she moaned, collapsing into him, briefly rubbing her chest against his until he'd worked his hand up the back of her shirt. His long fingers spread over her beautifully smooth skin, nearly spanning her shoulder blades.
She sat back abruptly and pulled her shirt off over her head, tossing it over the side of the bed, and he didn't have enough time to swear properly at the sudden sight of her naked chest before she collapsed on top of him again. He was filled with a sudden need to get closer, which was only truly accomplished by swiftly tightening his grip across her back and flipping them over so he crushed her into his mattress.
"Ron!" she gasped as their lips parted.
He'd learned enough in three months to know that her softly scolding tone equated to a sound of appreciation, particularly when accompanied by her small fist tugging on his hair and her teeth lightly scraping his lower lip as she kissed him again.
His hips shifted between her legs, and she moaned into his mouth, arms wrapping tighter around his head and neck. His hand traveled down her bare side, fingertips slipping past the elastic of her pyjama shorts and knickers as she writhed to meet his touch. His fingers met wet warmth between her legs, and he sucked in a sharp breath, but he quickly gave up his awkward position and rolled slightly off of her to rid her of her remaining clothing, doing the same for his own, carelessly littering his floor.
"Fucking gorgeous," he muttered as he stared at her naked body for a dizzying moment.
"Yes, you are," she smiled, biting her lip in amusement when he met her eyes with raised brows.
"Shut up," he laughed, covering her body again and resuming a deep, breathless kiss.
His lips skipped down her neck, and she arched into him.
"Why do we bother putting on pyjamas?" she teased in a trembling voice as he arrived at her collarbone.
"Dunno," he grinned against her soft skin. "So I can take them off you? So Harry won't see your naked arse coming back from the loo?"
"Oh, it's only my arse you care about?"
"What do you think?" he muttered just before his mouth closed around her hardened nipple. She gasped, and her nails dug into his shoulder.
Occasionally still, when he'd become deliriously lost in touching her and listening to her moans of appreciation, he'd shockingly consider how merely three months ago he hadn't even kissed her yet. It never for a moment made him wonder if they had moved too fast but it always made him regret not doing something about it sooner. How far back could he go? A year? More?
She rubbed her bare inner thigh against his hip, and he lifted his head to find her half-closed eyes.
"I love you," he said sincerely, and she held onto his arm as she stared back at him. It still made his heart beat firm and fast to tell her, even after countless times.
"I love you," she echoed, smiling.
On the tip of his tongue was the question, the one he'd never voiced. When? How long ago could we have been together? And how much time did I waste?
But he left it unspoken again, smiling back and kissing her instead.
Her body, moving underneath him, was so fucking soft and warm, her skin the smoothest silk. Her bent knee brushed his side, toes tickling the back of his leg. He didn't deserve what he had, but he wasn't going to waste it now.
He reached between her legs, lips still meshed together, and slid fully inside her, feeling the vibration of her approving moan as she arched closer, shifting her hips to meet his slow thrust. He was still attentively learning what she liked, by far his most carefully studied subject.
He'd never imagined it could feel this good, before the first time, rushed and frantic in his bedroom at the Burrow. Now, he just wanted to make it last, to feel her body shaking and clenching around him.
Her nails raked through his hair as he withdrew his lips from hers to breathe.
"Fuck, y'feel amazing," he slurred drunkenly, increasing his pace slightly.
"Oh, God," she sighed, voice raised to that familiar trembling, higher pitch. "S-So do you."
He grinned and pressed his forehead to hers, and her hands slid down his body to his ribs. Goosepimples sprang up across his sensitive skin as she touched him, breathy little cries floating out from her parted lips to join his own deeper moans. She lifted her head from his pillow for another sloppy kiss, tongues brushing and a feeling of losing control spreading through his body. Her lips suddenly stopped moving against his, and he felt her muscles tighten just as he let go, feeling rather triumphant as she turned her head right and slurred his name. He ducked his face to her neck, moved inside her once more, and came with her.
For several long moments, he breathed hotly against her skin, then finally dragged himself off of her, her legs and arms falling limp to the bed as he collapsed to his back. His eyes slid shut as he panted slightly, drugged by love and pleasure. It was always beyond fucking amazing, but when they were so in sync like they had just been, it seemed to take him longer to recover.
"We should have ended a lot more rows like that," she teased quietly, and he opened his eyes to look at her.
"Oi, that didn't count as a row," but a grin flitted across his face. "But would we have even rowed so much in the first place if we'd been shagging?"
She laughed and playfully rolled her eyes, cuddling up to his side and resting her cheek on his shoulder.
"Mm, probably not," she admitted.
He shifted his arm under her neck, fingers tracing unseen patterns over her smooth back, slowly drifting to a pleasant state of half sleep.
"Ron?" she said, after a while.
"You really will come visit me, won't you?"
"It won't be… so bad," she sniffed. "We can write to each other all the time, and we'll have Hogsmeade weekends and Quidditch."
"Christmas and Easter hols," he added. "Reckon you'll be studying so much you won't have time to miss me anyway."
"I miss you when I'm with my parents at supper for two hours," she muttered, lips against his skin.
He held her briefly tighter and smiled, but it faded slowly. The part of him that wanted her to be happy was in conflict with the part that felt good to be missed. But he wasn't going to let himself think on that now.
She shifted against him and lifted her face to his for a gentle kiss that lingered for slow motion seconds, gooseflesh prickling his arms. It was oddly almost impossible to recall how he'd held back from kissing her in the past, now that he was doing it all the time. Her body was so warm, soft skin against his, her hand smoothing up his stubbled jawline. This was blissful, undeserved perfection, like a preoccupied dream in which his cynical, self-conscious side was absent.
Her eyes cracked open, lips parting from his as she took in a slow, deep breath.
"I've gotten quite used to kissing you every day," she pointed out, but there wasn't sadness now. Her eyes sparkled in moonlight, and the corner of her mouth turned up in a smile he mimicked.
"Reckon we should do it more often then. Save up," he teased, but she lowered her mouth to his with an affirmative hum.
He was bloody eighteen, and he already knew who he was going to spend the rest of his life with, and it was staggering in the dark night, a forceful realisation that didn't feel frightening or unbelievable, strangely. It was that sense of correctness, like seeing a checkmate on the chess board seven moves from the end.
Leisurely minutes later, he yawned and slid out of bed, mumbling sleepily about the loo as he found his pants on the floor. She tugged on one of his shirts and went with him for a glass of water.
With the bathroom door cracked open, he washed his hands as she used the mirror to quickly plait her hair, so it wouldn't tangle so hopelessly in her sleep, and he raised a brow slightly, considering how normal this felt.
"Don't you have early training?" she asked softly.
"Yeah. What time is it?"
"Two o'clock," she grimaced. "I checked your watch when we left your room."
"Shit," he laughed. "Yeah. I'll be fine."
He turned off the taps, dried his hands on a towel, and stood leaning against the sink, watching her until her beautiful, drowsy eyes met his.
"You really love me," she said gently, and he fought the urge to make a joke, reaching for her wrist instead, pulling her closer.
"You really love me."
She laughed, and he slid his hand up her arm.
"I tried not to. Honestly," she reasoned.
"Well, that was daft."
"I tried not to, too."
"We shouldn't have done that."
"Won't happen again."
Her grin crinkled the corners of her eyes as she rested her forehead on his bare chest. He closed his eyes, weaved a hand into her hair (likely ruining her plait), and the many years he knew they'd be together vastly outweighed ten months. They'd be just fine.