Archive | Fanfic

A Risk Worth Taking

Written by:  Pili204

 Rating:  PG-13

 

The crisp, cold air felt almost welcome, refreshing as it hit Ron’s face.  He had been shoveling snow for what seemed liked hours, but today he needed to keep busy, so he wasn’t complaining.  He had eagerly volunteered to do the job when his mum had complained about the piles of snow blocking the front and back entrances to the house.

 “Mental,” George had muttered as he entertained himself in the sitting room with brightly colored Christmas decorations he had brought over from the shop.  The new holiday items were a hit, and George couldn’t wait to surprise the rest of his siblings with the new products, which carried more than holiday cheer.  “Who in their right mind is going to Apparate outside in this weather?” he asked to no one in particular as Ron made his way to the door carrying a shovel that their mum had summoned from the shed. 

 

Ron shrugged his shoulders, half-agreeing with his brother and half-glad to have something to do.  He quite liked the cold weather, and it would help him keep his mind from wandering to what Hermione might be doing.  So shoveling the snow, instead of easily banishing it with the wave of his wand, was a distraction Ron needed.

 

Hermione had only left three days ago on holiday to Switzerland with her parents, and he already missed her terribly.  He wanted her holiday to be over already, and yet he was a nervous wreck about what he wanted to do upon her return. 

 

Ron was disappointed that they would be spending Christmas apart, but Hermione had argued that she hadn’t gone on holiday with her parents since her third year at Hogwarts, and that she couldn’t really say no because the holiday included attending her cousin’s wedding.  Hermione was excited, so Ron decided not to let his disappointment ruin her trip and agreed to accompany Hermione to her parents’ house to dig out her luggage.

 

He still couldn’t exactly explain why, but when Hermione had mentioned the word ‘wedding’ something inside Ron stirred.  Maybe it was the way Hermione’s eyes shone when she spoke of bridesmaids and the ruby colored dress she would be wearing, the bouquet, and the vows.  She spoke about it in an excited, dreamy sort of tone, which made Ron’s face heat up unexpectedly.  Or maybe it was because as he heard her speak of her holiday plans, Ron had, without thinking, imagined Hermione dressed in a simple yet perfect wedding dress.  In that image that had come and gone in a flash, he had been standing next to her, dressed in elegant, black dress robes and fidgeting nervously. 

 

Wow.

 

Complete awe had been his immediate reaction.  And more so when he realized that if he were to stand in front of the Mirror of Erised, that same image would appear in front of him.  Somehow Ron knew that such an image wasn’t irrational… that it was quite within reach.  And that he very much wanted it to happen.  Soon.

 

Blimey.

 

All those revelations in such a short period of time had Ron’s head spinning.  He felt happily dizzy, as if he had drank one too many bottles of Madame Rosemerta’s Meade. And he must have had a stupid grin on his face, because Hermione had stopped talking about Switzerland to ask if he was okay.  He’d nodded absent-mindedly, gave her a lingering kiss that left them both breathless, and then proceeded to help her drag down her luggage out of her parents’ attic.

 

Since then, he couldn’t get that image out of his mind.  He had to admit that he liked what he saw, even if it was a little scary. Or a lot. 

 

Truth be told, Ron had never thought about getting married before, but he had never thought about his life without Hermione either.  Even since their unexpected kiss during the final battle, Ron knew he and Hermione were meant to be together.  He loved her, and he knew that she loved him.  He had left behind insecurities and doubts, and since then, they had been happily dating. 

 

It was over three years now, and although they were still young Ron knew he wanted to get married.  He wanted to share everything with her––the routine of their everyday lives, the excitement and work behind every dream and goal, the laughter behind every silly mishap.  He simply wanted to share it all, the good and the bad. 

 

Ron only hoped Hermione would want the same, and that for some reason she didn’t think it was too soon or that they were too young to settle down.  That’s why Ron had to find the perfect moment, the perfect way to propose.  He couldn’t bugger this up.  It was too important.

 

It was because of that image that on the same day Hermione left for Switzerland, Ron found himself in Hogsmeade pacing nervously in front of Lemminkainen’s Jewelsmythes Shop.   For that same reason, he had gone into the shop and after listening to the witch behind the glass case explain the properties of different stones, he carefully picked out Hermione’s engagement ring.  Now, he just needed to find the right moment to propose.

 

Ron couldn’t quite believe that he was actually going to be a married bloke.  If Hermione accepted, that is. 

 

A strong huff of wind blew in Ron’s direction, making him shiver involuntary.  He looked around, and although there were still enough piles of snow covering the yard, none of them were blocking the front or back entrances to The Burrow now.   His job was done, but he didn’t quite want to go back inside, not yet.  I’ll wait for the smell of Mum’s roast, he thought good-humouredly.

 

Instead of heading back inside, Ron sat on a tree root that made its way out from the ground.  He dusted off some snowflakes and found a comfortable position with his back against the trunk.  He pulled his cloak tighter around himself, and then rubbed his hands together, hoping to create some warmth.

 

Ron hoped to have a chance to talk to his dad; it was his main reason for visiting The Burrow today instead of accepting Harry’s invitation for a get together in the Leaky Cauldron.  Maybe his dad could offer some advice on how or when to propose, or better yet on how to control his increasing nerves.  He didn’t want to give anything away.  Ron knew his dad would keep his plan of proposing a secret, but he wasn’t sure about anyone else in his family.

 

He let out a chuckle as he imagined his mum’s reaction.   She would let out an ‘Oh, Ronnie,” and hug him so tightly he would be left short of breath. Without a doubt she would be thrilled, wanting to start planning the wedding already.   But it wasn’t time for the planning to begin, not when Hermione didn’t even know about his plans.

 

Ron had been carrying the velvet box in his pocket since he bought the ring.  He thought about keeping it safe at the flat he shared with George, but he didn’t want to risk George (or anyone else) finding it.  For now, it was his secret.  And that’s how he wanted to keep it.  But oddly enough, he also wanted to share it with someone else.  He needed someone to tell him this idea wasn’t mad, that it wasn’t too soon, that they weren’t too young for such a big step.

 

He had though about telling Harry his plan of proposing, hoping his best mate would help him come up with a brilliant plan for the proposal, but he found he couldn’t even say the words out loud.  Bugger.  How the bloody hell am I going to have the guts to ask her? 

 

Ron had been thinking non-stop about how to do it or when the right time would be, but until now he hadn’t come up with anything remotely right.

 

The evening sky was getting darker, only a smidge of the colorful sunset could be seen.  The red and purplish colors of today’s sunset made Ron grin; he was reminded of the bright color stone of Hermione’s engagement ring.  One of the reasons he had chosen it was because the color represented passion, and Ron had never met someone more passionate than Hermione, in every sense of the word.  The ring, the color of the stone, would suit her.  He had no doubt of it.

 

It was getting late and Ron hoped his dad would come home soon.  His stomach growled, reminding Ron that he had skipped lunch, another side effect of his constant distraction.  Thankfully, dinner would be ready soon.  There were fumes escaping from the chimney connected to the kitchen, and Ron could now smell the savory dishes his mum had prepared.

 

“Ron,” he heard his mum calling, “dinner’s ready.  Come in and clean up.”

 

“Be right in,” he shouted.  He looked up at the sky and sighed as he realized his dad was running late tonight.  Their talk might have to wait for another day, hopefully before Hermione’s return.

 

As Ron walked into the kitchen, he saw George putting on his traveling cloak.  “Where you going?”

 

“The shop. Verity just Owled, there seems to be a problem with a delivery.  I have to go and take care of it.”

 

“Just give me a minute and we’ll get going.”  Ron enjoyed helping George with the shop, and it had brought them closer.  It had been good for both of them.  George had found a new partner to share his inventions.  Not that Ron would ever replace Fred, but they got along surprisingly well.  By helping his brother at the shop, Ron had not only been there during George’s times of darkest grief, but had also found he had a knack for business; and it was certainly more enjoyable than some of his assignments as an Auror.

 

“No, Ron, stay.  Mum’s already fed me.  You get some dinner.  I’ll see you later at the flat.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yeah. This’ll be quick, and I’m going to go see Angie after.  You know the girl can’t live without me,” he joked.

 

“Tell her she needs to come over for dinner soon,” their mum added with a smile.

 

“Sure thing, Mum.  Bye.”  And with a flick of his wand, George disappeared from view.

 

“It looks like it’ll be just you and me, Ronnie.”  She looked at her charmed clock that told her where everyone was and added, “Arthur must be buried in work.”  She gave him a sad smile and busied herself with the cauldron on the stove.

 

Ron knew how much his mum liked having his dad home for dinner, especially when any of them visited.  She liked having her family together every chance she got.  It was a good thing George didn’t need him at the shop.  Ron actually enjoyed talking with him mum, especially when it was just the two of them.  And he wouldn’t want to have left her alone.

 

“Want me to set the table, Mum?” he asked, trying to distract her.

 

“Just spoons and bowls.  I’ve got everything else ready.  Careful,” she said as she levitated the steaming cauldron to the table.  “Will you get the roast, Ron?  It’s in the oven.” 

 

“Sure, Mum,” he said as he opened the oven’s door, and the smell of the roast filled his nose.  He definitely liked coming home for dinner.  His mum’s food couldn’t be beat.

 

A large knife magically sliced a loaf of bread as Ron and his mum sat down to eat.  “Have you heard from Hermione?” she asked as she poured a spoonful of hot soup in his bowl.

 

“Yes,” he said, quickly swallowing a bite of bread.  “She Owled today; she and her parents arrived in Geneva yesterday.” 

 

“That’s nice.  Have you picked out her Christmas present already?”

 

“She’ll be spending Christmas in Switzerland.”

 

“You can always give it to her after Christmas.  When is it that she gets back?”

 

Ron hadn’t really thought of a Christmas present, not since he had bought her something much more meaningful.  “The twenty-ninth,” he said in between bites.   

 

“I been thinking of something you might want to give her,” she added hesitantly.

 

Ron looked up with interest.  “What is it?”

 

“Well… see Andromeda and I were in Hogsmeade last weekend and there was this store that had such beautiful rings… and you and Hermione have been dating for more than three years… and I thought that maybe it was time for you to––”

 

“Mum, wait.”  He could feel his face heating up.  Ron knew where his mum was heading.  She had been throwing hints about the importance of ‘getting serious’ before, but he thought they were meant for George or Charlie. 

 

“I know this is something you have to decide for yourself, Ron… but it might be time for you to start thinking about a serious commitment.”

 

“I have,” he added quickly, hoping his mum would stop.  His plans for keeping the ring a secret might not hold up now, not if his mum kept on with this insistence.

 

“Hermione is a young woman who deserves––” she continued as if she hadn’t heard him.  But then she stopped and looked at him with surprise in her eyes.  “What?  You have?  What did Hermione say?”

 

“She doesn’t know.”

 

His mum scrunched her eyebrows. “What exactly have you been thinking about, Ron?  And why doesn’t Hermione know about your plans, if they involve her?”

 

Ron pushed his half-eaten plate away and sighed heavily.  His mum wasn’t going to let it go.  He might as well come clean.  “Marriage.  I thought about asking Hermione to marry me.  And I haven’t told her because… well, because she’s not in England.”  And because I’m bloody afraid she might think it’s too soon, he thought.

 

“Oh, Ronnie!”  She clapped her hands, and her eyes sparkled just as he’d imagined they would.  “I always knew you two were meant to be.”  Ron smiled and relaxed, thinking that it would be enough information for his mum.  “A ring, you have to get a ring!” she exclaimed as an afterthought.

 

He bit his lip and reached inside the pocket of his trousers, clutching tightly the velvet box that held Hermione’s engagement ring.  “I already have.”

 

“You did?” she said, jumping out of her seat, the roast and soup forgotten.  “This is so exciting.  I can’t believe how grown up you are, Ron.  I’m so very proud.”

 

“So you don’t think it’s too soon?”

 

“No.  You two have been together for years; you’ve grown up together.  You’ve been through some very rough times, and you’ve come out of them stronger.  I don’t think you’re rushing into anything, if that’s what worries you, Ron.”

 

“It might be something Hermione would worry about.”  He rubbed his eyes before continuing.  “Or she might argue that we’re too young.  She has so much to look forward to with her job at the Ministry… and she is always talking about all the places she wants to travel to… I don’t want to hold her back.”  He raked his hands through his hair.  “I’m bloody nervous about it, Mum.  I don’t want to scare her away,” he confessed in an almost whisper.

 

“You can’t let fear stop you. This is something I’ve learned along the way––in order to get what you want in life, you need to take risks, Ron.”  She reached for his hand and squeezed it.  “If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.”

 

“But what if… what if I lose her?”

 

“I don’t think you will.  She loves you, Ron.”

 

His voice caught on his throat.  “Are you sure?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure that she loves you.”

 

That he had no doubt of.  “I know, but are… are you sure I won’t lose her if ask her to marry me?”

 

“I don’t think you will, but I can’t assure you she’ll say yes, if that’s what you want.  Only Hermione knows the answer to that question.  But if you don’t take that risk, if you don’t ask her, then you’ll lose the chance of her saying ‘yes.’  You’ll lose the chance of marrying the girl you love.  You’ll risk losing more than what you now have. Think about it, Ron.”  She patted his hand and got up to clean the dishes.

 

A few minutes later, his dad Apparated home.  His mum quickly warmed up his dinner, and his dad joined Ron at the table.  Ron grinned at him, happy to see him.  He no longer felt the need to talk to his dad about how or when to propose; the details didn’t truly matter.  More than ever, Ron knew what he wanted to do and he wasn’t going to let anything stop him. 

 

He listened to his dad go on about the latest fiasco in his department.  The three of them laughed at his dad’s stories, and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate his mum whipped up.  Some time later, as he got ready to leave, Ron gave his mum an extra tight hug, silently thanking her for her advice.  He wasn’t good with words, but he knew his mum understood.

 

~*~*~*~

 

New Year’s Eve arrived sooner than expected, and Ron was in a foul mood.  Hermione had returned from her holiday the day before yesterday, and he had already missed two opportunities to ask her to marry him.  It was as if every time he was ready to propose, something derailed his plans.  It was bloody ridiculous.

 

First, on the day Hermione arrived, he had Apparated to her parents’ house to welcome her back.  He’d gone determined to surprise her with the proposal, but instead he sat in her parents’ sitting room, listening for hours to the three of them go on about how wonderful their holiday had been and how he must visit Switzerland one day. 

 

The next day Hermione invited him to her flat for dinner.  Ron had thought that it would be a perfect opportunity, since it would be just he two of them.  A proposal over dinner seemed like a romantic gesture, one that Hermione would probably like.  

 

But Hermione never even gave him a chance.  As soon as he Apparated inside her flat, she had launched herself at him and covered him with kisses.  No bloke in his right mind could resist that.  She said how much she had missed him, and how she never wanted to spend such a long time away from him.  Then, she had pulled him into her bedroom and proceeded to show him just how much she had missed. It was frantic and passionate.  Dinner was forgotten, but he really couldn’t complain.

 

And today there would be no chance at all.  He wasn’t going to ask Hermione to marry him in the middle of the New Year’s Eve party George had been planning for weeks.  Not in front of so many people, no way.  That was meant just for the two of them.

 

Hermione was due to arrive any minute, and although he was looking forward to ringing in the New Year with her, he was disappointed at another missed chance.  He forced himself to smile as George levitated the last of the Butterbeers towards a large table near the end of the room.  This was the first year since Fred’s death that George truly felt like celebrating.  His joy wasn’t faked or forced.  It was good to see George alive again.

 

Not long after, the faint cracks of people Apparating announced that the party was about to begin.  First there was Ginny, who looked radiant in a red dress, and Harry.  Then came Angelina who wasted no time in kissing George, who had been standing below a piece of dry mistletoe that had been left behind from Christmas day.  Then came Lee and Pavarti, Charlie accompanied by an exotic looking witch, Neville and Hannah, and other people Ron didn’t recognize.  In a matter of minutes their small flat was filled with music, laughter, and carefree chatter. 

 

When Hermione arrived he instinctively marched towards her, but Ginny and Luna got to her first.  Ron stood back and watched her.  She looked beautiful with her hair up in a messy bun.  He really couldn’t wait to marry the girl.  She had been part of his life for so long that he couldn’t imagine life without her. 

 

“Hi, Ron,” she said, reaching up to kiss him lightly.

 

“Hi, love.”  He put his arms around her shoulders and steered her towards the hallway, away from the noise and the people.  He was being selfish, yes, but he wanted her only for him.  “Missed you,” he said as he planted small kisses down her neck.  She let out a small, contented sigh, and Ron grinned cockily against her skin.

 

She pulled back and gave him a wide smile.  “You’re awfully charming tonight, and I love it, but don’t you want to be out there,” she said as she pointed toward the mass of people, “with Harry and the rest?”

 

“No.  I just want to be with my girl.”

 

“Perfect.  I can’t think of a better way to end the year.”  With her finger she drew small circles on his chest, and smiled up at him.  “Oh, Ron I’m so excited for the New Year.  There are so many things I want to do!  I want to visit more places, traveling abroad is such a great learning experience… maybe Germany or Morocco or somewhere farther, Argentina, perhaps.  And then at the Ministry, there’s this new project I’ve been working on and I…”

 

Ron saw her talk excitedly, moving her hands as she spoke.  Making plans was great, and he had his own too.  He didn’t want to hold Hermione back… but he wanted her and his plans to be the same… to be their plans.  More than even, Ron couldn’t get his mum’s advice out of his head.  If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.  It might not be the perfect moment, but he couldn’t wait any longer.

 

“Hermione,” he said, interrupting her talk about a big Ministry project, “I was hoping that along with all that, we could do something else.” He gulped hard.

 

“Sure, what is it?”

 

“Get married.”  He said it plainly, and he immediately berated himself for not coming up with a more romantic way of asking.  He looked at her, hoping she knew he truly meant it, that he wanted nothing more.

 

“What?” She said it slowly; there was surprise and a new shine in her eyes.

 

“Marry me, Hermione.  We can do all that traveling together.  And you can tell me all about your Ministry projects at home, our home.  I want to share everything with you.  I want to sleep in on Saturday mornings, and then have a late breakfast in bed.”  He waggled his eyebrows playfully, and Hermione let out a giggle.  “I want to row with you over who gets to clean the dishes after dinner, and later make-up.  I want to come home to you and only you.  What do you say, would you marry me?”

 

“Yes!” she squealed and jumped up, hugging him tightly.  “Yes, Ron.  I want that and more, so much more.”

 

“More?”

 

“Sure.  I want to watch the snow, snuggled up next to you in our cozy sofa.  And I want to help you build a shed for your brooms and Quidditch equipment, and––”

 

But Ron didn’t let her continue; he bent down and kissed her hard.  This wonderful girl had accepted him.  It was perfect, absolutely perfect.

 

He pulled back abruptly, and Hermione looked at him curiously.  “I forgot something,” he explained.  He reached inside his pockets and pulled out a box.  “For you,” he offered.

 

“Oh, Ron, a ruby!  It’s absolutely lovely,” she said, looking from him to the ring with loving, sincere eyes.

 

“The girl in the shop said that when given as a gift, a ruby is the symbol of friendship and love.  And that’s us.”  He took the ring out of the box and slid it on her finger.

 

“It’s perfect, Ron.”  

 

“And the color… it matches you, your personality.  It’s fierce and passionate, just like you.”

 

“Not just me, you too.  You’re just as passionate or more than.  It matches us perfectly.”

 

The voices from the party were getting louder as the countdown to the New Year began.  But Ron and Hermione only had eyes for each other, imagining their lives together.

 

Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!  The crowd exploded with loud cheers. 

 

“Happy New Year, love.”

 

“It already is the happiest,” Hermione said, and then she reached up to kiss him.

 

 Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Coming Back

Written by: Pili204

Rating: PG-13

 

 “What has you grinning from ear to ear?  It’s revolting, you know.”

 

Ron shrugged his shoulders.  “Don’t care.”  He smiled at George as he continued to unpack a new arrival of false-bottom cauldrons that had arrived late the day before.  “Today is going to be a good day, a bloody good day.”

 

“Mr. Weasley?” Verity interrupted.

 

“Yes.”   Both George and Ron answered almost at the same time, and Ron rolled his eyes, still getting used to being addressed as Mr. Weasley. 

 

“The displays are ready and everything is stocked.  Do you want me to open?” she asked, looking at her watch.

 

“That’s my cue to leave,” said Ron cheerily.

 

“What?  You’re leaving today?  When all the kids return from Hogwarts?  It’s going to busy as hell!”

 

“I told you this weeks ago.  I plan on spending the day with Hermione.”  Just when George was about to protest further, Ron held up his hand and quickly added, “No buts, no nothing.  I’m leaving.”

 

“Fine!  Choose Granger over the shop.  But you’re on double-duty whenever I fancy a day off,” George said quite loudly as Ron removed his work cloak and hurried out the door.

 *****

 Today.  She was coming back today.

 

In a matter of minutes, the Hogwarts Express would arrive at King’s Cross, bringing Hermione back to him.

 

About time. 

 

The school year had never seemed so long.  Ten torturous months of Hermione, his Hermione, gone.  

 

If he was honest with himself, Ron had hated the idea of Hermione going back to Hogwarts for her seventh year.  Except for a lot of whining (that had earned him some pretty deadly stares) and a bit of useless pleading (that had made him sound like such a baby), he hadn’t done much to stop her. 

 

The truth was that she deserved to do something for herself after years of putting Harry first.  But, Merlin, he had missed her… he had missed his girlfriend terribly.

 

Girlfriend.  It still sounded odd to his ears.  But that’s what Hermione was, his girlfriend.  He could hardly believe it.

 

They had jumped through so many hoops to get to where they were now¾insecurity, jealousy, doubts, fears¾but that was all in the past.  There would no be more sappy letters (that he had made Hermione promise never to show to anyone) ending with ‘I miss you’ or ‘I love you’ and no more rushed Hogsmeade visits that never lasted long enough. 

 

Now, he would kiss her and touch her and never let her go.

 

Standing nervously on Platform 9 and ¾, Ron’s palms were sweating and his heart was beating a little too fast.  He chuckled; it was quite ridiculous how bloody nervous he felt.  It’s wasn’t like he had never seen Hermione before; after all, she had been her best friend for almost 8 years now.  The fact that Hermione was now his girlfriend didn’t change that.

 

Calm down, Weasley.

 

The train’s whistle announced its arrival.  Ron cracked his knuckles and, almost cautiously, walked toward its doors.  He furiously scanned the windows searching for her brown eyes.

 

“Ron!” He heard her voice before he saw her, and his eyes moved frantically trying to find her.

 

And then he finally saw her running towards him, her trunk left forgotten and her bushy hair flying behind her. “Hermione!”

 

Ron hugged her tightly, afraid that if would let go, she would somehow disappear.  He relished the feel of her small arms around his neck and her breath on his skin.

 

“I missed you,” they said in unison.

 

“So much,” Hermione added, pulling back and looking up at him with soft, adoring eyes.  Her hands were now on his face, her fingers tracing the outline of his lips.

 

“You’re back,” he breathed out thankfully.

 

“I am.”

 

“For good this time, right?  You’re not leaving me again, are you?”

 

She rolled her eyes playfully. “Yes, for good this time.”

 

“Good, because I’m not planning on letting you out of my sight.”

 

She winked and gave him a flirtatious smile.  “Good, because that’s what I’m counting on.”

 

“Admit it,” he said, grinning widely.  “You couldn’t wait to have me all to yourself.”

 

She laughed happily.  “Oh, Ron, don’t ever change,” she said breathlessly.

 

Ron couldn’t wait any longer; he had to kiss her.  But Hermione beat him to it, because before he could even plan his move, her lips were already on his. 

 

Yeah, this was definitely good.  Really good.

 *****

 

“I don’t know, Ron, I already told my parents I would spend the week with them before starting at the Department for the Regulation of Control of Magical Creatures with them.  You know I have a lot to workout with them.  They still aren’t comfortable with my explanation for having modified their memories.  After that, I’ll be moving to Diagon Alley and then we can spend all our free time together.”

 

“But I was hoping to have you all myself before the Ministry occupies all of your time,” he whined.

 

“You will, in a week’s time.  I’m not asking much, am I?”

 

“No,” he grudgingly conceded.  “But you know how you get when you immerse yourself in a new project, you forget about everything and everyone else.”

 

“I’m not going to forget about you, Ron.  I’ve missed you too much, and I want to make-up for all the time lost.”

 

That certainly made Ron grin.  “That sounds like a plan I definitely approve of.”  He reached across their small table at the Leaky Cauldron and ran his fingers along her arm, making Hermione shiver involuntary.  “What do you say we start now?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows.

 

“What exactly do you have in mind?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

Ron shrugged nonchalantly.  “Well, what would you let me get away with?” he asked half-jokingly and half-hopeful.  It wasn’t as if they hadn’t done more than a snog, but up until now Hermione had always put a stop as to how far he could go, and he had always respected her limits.  It wasn’t easy restraining himself, not when what he wanted was to have all of her.  His desire for her had been growing with time, and Hermione had already hinted in her letters that she was ready.  Just the thought made him randy as hell.  Still, he knew it wouldn’t happen overnight.  

 

Hermione blushed and bit her lip in a way that Ron found irresistible.  “I’m not sure… I want to, I do, you know that.  But I’m going to my parent’s later tonight and when it happens I want… what I mean is I don’t want to us to rush… and I… and, well, I just don’t think today is the right time.  Besides we did we agree would spend a couple of hours flat-hunting.  I need to find a place to live.”

 

Ron offered her a small smile, hoping that would be enough for her to know that he understood.  After all, when they finally became one, he wasn’t planning on letting her get away.  He knew he would want to hold her afterwards and make sure she knew how much he loved her.  “I’ve already got a few flats picked out for you to choose from.”

 

“You do?” she asked surprised.  When did you have time to do this?”

 

He pulled out a folded piece of parchment out of his back pocket and handed it over to her.  “I made time.  I wanted to make sure you stayed close to our flat.”

 

Hermione took the parchment and carefully examined the flats Ron had picked-out for her.  “These look nice.  Is there one that you particularly liked?”

 

Ron knew Hermione wasn’t looking for anything fancy.  She was practical and had already told him that spending too much on a rented flat was a waste of money.  “Well, I liked this one,” he said, pointing to the first moving photograph on the list.  “I know it’s smaller than the rest but it has a big enough sitting area where you can easily fit a desk and bookshelves.  Besides, it’s only a block away from my place.”

 

“I already like it.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Do you want me to owl the owner and set up and appointment to talk to him?” he asked eagerly.

 

“Sure. I’m sure I can get away for a couple of hours sometime next week.”

 

“Great, I’ll arrange it.”

 

“Thanks, Ron.  Ready to go?”

 

“You want to go to your parents’ place already?” he asked, knowing he probably looked totally crestfallen.

 

“No, silly.  But you don’t want to spend all day here at the Leaky Cauldron, do you?

 

He sighed in relief.  “Where do you want to go then?”

 

“How about to your place?”

 

“I thought you said you didn’t want to; not today, I mean,” he stammered nervously.

 

“But that doesn’t mean that we can’t spend some quality time snuggling in that big sofa of yours, right?”

 

His crestfallen expression had now been replaced with a mischievous one. “Or snogging?”

 

“Or a little more,” she added, flushing furiously.

 

“Blimey.”

 

“Ron, don’t exaggerate,” she said laughing.  “It’s not like it’s the first time we, you know…”

 

“I know… but it’s been way too long, with you being all determined to finish Hogwarts.”

 

“Not again,” she groaned, “I thought you understood how important it was for me¾”

 

“I do, I really do… but I still missed you. I’ll go pay Hannah, and then we can get going.”

 

“Alright.”

 

Ron quickly handed Hannah enough coins to cover their lunch.  He hurried back to the table where Hermione was waiting for him thinking just how bloody brilliant it has to have her back.

 

“Ready?” he asked, extending his hand for her to take.

 

Hermione intertwined her fingers with his and smiled up at him.   “More than ready.”

 

They went into Diagon Alley hand in hand, easily talking and laughing as they made their way to a small flat above Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.  But before going up the stairs, Ron suddenly stopped and said, “Hermione, I’m really glad you’re back… and well, I know you know… but I don’t tell you often.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I love you.”

 

“Oh, Ron, I love you, too.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Don’t ever doubt it,” she said pulling him up the last steps and reaching up to kiss him deeply.

 

 

 

 Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Finally

Author: mugglemama
Rating: PG-13

Hermione sat curled up on the sofa in the Burrow’s lounge, a book open in her lap and her hands limp at her sides. Her eyes were focused on the dying embers in the fireplace as she reflected on the past week.

Fred had been buried a mere thirty-six hours earlier. To keep herself from dwelling on the grieving faces of the Weasleys, Hermione began her nightly ritual of cataloguing each physical contact with Ron since Voldemort’s defeat: 24 hugs, 8 pecks on the cheek, 3 kisses on her forehead, one not-quite-chaste kiss on the lips the night before, and one large hand on her bum, but so briefly she couldn’t be certain it was intentional.

She was distracted from her thoughts as Ron threw himself down beside her, his leg sprawling comfortably against hers. He closed his eyes and laid his head back, breathing a slow sigh of relief. “I’m so glad it’s all over and done with.” As he spoke, the little finger of his hand reached out and stroked the back of hers. “′specially all that stuff, ya know, between you and me…” He turned his head, opening one eye and giving her a half smile.

Hermione jerked her hand away. “What?”

Ron bolted upright and, in his usual articulate manner, explained, “Well… uh, Hermione, you… I mean, um… you know.”

“No, Ron, I don’t know!” Hermione jumped off the sofa, fists clenched in anger. “I can’t believe you’re finishing with me before we even got properly started!”

“Finishing?” Ron sprang to his feet. “What the hell are you on about?”

Not intimidated by Ron’s towering frame, Hermione took a step forward and poked him in his chest. “You” -poke- “just said you” -poke- “were glad we” -poke- “were done!”

“Well I am glad we’re done!” Ron grabbed her wrist to prevent further bruising. “Done with all that shit we put ourselves through.”

Hermione wrenched her hand from his grasp. “What do you mean by that?

“I’m done fighting how I feel!”

“And how is that, exactly?”

Ron gripped her arms. “I’m done pretending I’m not in love with you, dammit!”

Hermione’s expression immediately softened and her mouth formed a silent “Oh.” Ron eased his hold but didn’t let go as they stared at each other in silence. Finally, Hermione spoke. “I…I don’t want to fight it anymore either.”

“So…you too?” Ron ran his hands down her arms to her hands, leaving goose pimples on her flesh.

“Yes, very much.”

“It’s over then…the ‘just friends’ thing?”

“It has been for awhile.” She squeezed his hands gently.

“But now it’s official, yea?”

“It’s official.” She smiled up at him; he was grinning from ear to ear. “Now what?”

Ron licked his lips and blushed slightly as he slid his hand behind her neck and pulled her close. “This,” he whispered against her lips.

She wouldn’t be Hermione if she didn’t take notes: one far-from-chaste kiss, and one – oh, two! – definitely intentional hands on her bottom.

Finally.

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Spot of Bother

Author: mugglemama
Rating: PG-13

I don’t care how posh this tent is compared to the Muggle ones Harry described, the truth is tents are not the most comfortable of places. ‘Specially when sharing one with seven other blokes, and definitely not when you’ve barely fallen asleep only to be woken up by a large damp spot on your bunk and in your pants.

I’ve had this happen before, I’m fourteen after all. I’ve just never had a dream that featured my best mate before – and I’m not referring to Harry.

I remember laughing to myself as I was falling asleep, thinking about Hermione’s reaction to that nutter who didn’t want to wear Muggle trousers. Suddenly I’m imagining Hermione standing there, looking different – prettier somehow – asking me if I’d like feeling a breeze ‘round my privates. Then this ‘dream Hermione’ lifts up my robes and … well, one thing led to another, … which led to my current problem.

It’s downright barmy that I’d have these thoughts about Hermione, she’s not even a proper girl. I mean, I know she’s a girl (she sleeps in the girls’ dorm and all); she’s just not like those girls in the magazines Fred and George hide under their mattresses, all soft and squishy looking. Thinking about it though, Hermione was pretty soft when she hugged me last year while bawling about Buckbeak; she smelled really good too. And she definitely looks like she’d be squishier this year.

Damn! I can’t think like that now – I’ve gotta get this mess cleaned up before Fred or George find out. What I am gonna do? This isn’t like school where I just wave my wand and clean the stains from my sheets. Not that I’d be ‘scourgifying’ my privates, even if I could. At home Mum makes sure all us boys have spare sheets in our rooms (one of the benefits of having five older brothers, Mum understands these things and doesn’t make a fuss).

Extra sheets – of course! There must be some around this tent somewhere. I’ll just check in this cupboard here-

“Ron? Is that you?”

Shit! Who’s that? “Charlie?”

“Yea Ronnie … what’s up?”

“Nothing.”

“You sure? Looks like you’ve got yourself a spot of, er, bother,” he says, pointing at my crotch.

“Um … uh …”

With a wave of his wand my pajamas are clean; he sends a Tergeo towards my bunk too.

“Er, uh … thanks.” I stammer, my ears burning.

“No problem. Nothing to worry about, perfectly normal.”

“Yea, well, okay … ‘night then.” I wanna crawl into my bunk and die, only Charlie’s giving me this funny look.

“Um … is there anything else?”

“No, … just … your friend, Hermione, … she seems like a lovely girl.”

Where the hell did that come from? And why is Charlie checking out Hermione?

“Um, yea … I g-guess so.”

“Like you hadn’t noticed,” he scoffs.

“Wh-why do you say that?”

“Because, little brother,” he claps my shoulder, “you talk in your sleep,” laughing as he heads off to bed.

Bugger!

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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So Much

An excerpt from Potterwatch by EruditeWitch

Summary: A missing moment from Deathly Hallows during and after Malfoy Manor.
Lyrics by The Spill Canvas

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“No!”

The word echoed in Ron Weasley’s mind. It moved through his veins like a razorblade, cutting him with every agonizing thought. He tried to yell, to let his anguish out, but he was frozen, unable to commit to the simplest motion. The pain was exhaustive. Her pain was his, and being separated by a wall of dark rock only served to drive Ron further into a pit. He felt as though he was ceasing to exist with each of her screams.

Everything else happened in a blur. Dobby arrived, though Ron didn’t know how. The only thing going through Ron’s mind was her. The screaming had stopped, which was even more disconcerting. He had no guarantee that she was still alive, and he wanted to vomit. He told the elf where to take everyone. He hoped that somehow he could take Hermione away from this … hopefully alive and well.

Scabbers – no, Wormtail – was on his way down. The door opened, which gave him hope of seeing Hermione again, and Ron’s arms and legs burned to burst forth … to touch her … to feel that she was indeed still there, still alive, still with him in some way. He was desperate, and he would stop at nothing. When Harry suggested a fight, Ron almost leapt out of his skin in anticipation of beating any one of the f*ckers that had hurt her. In what seemed like a flash to Ron’s numbed mind, Wormtail was dying. Then he heard her scream, and nothing else mattered.

Ron moved beside Harry up the stairs. There she was. She wasn’t moving. There was chatter amongst the Death Eaters, and it was probably important, but Ron was zeroed in on her face, unmoving, and at her chest, not rising and falling in the way he had come to memorize.

“And I think,” said Bellatrix’s voice, “we can dispose of the Mudblood. Greyback, take her if you want her.”

He felt Harry’s arm reach out across his chest and it snapped him back to reality. Harry wanted him to stay back, but the next words from above caused his entire being to combust, and he couldn’t hold on, not even for Harry.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” He screamed. That feral rage … that sense of limitless desperation … was finally freeing itself from his lips in a wave of fury. He ran up the stairs, the numbness and darkness he had felt only a moment before now replaced with a sharpness and clarity that was almost unbearable.

He could feel the warmth as he left the cold and dark hallway and moved into the grandness of the great room of Malfoy Manor. He could smell the filthy reeking of a dying dog wafting off of Greyback. He could taste the salt and dried blood that flowed down his face. He could see the light reflecting off the chandelier and he moved quickly into battle. He could hear her…even in the midst of disarming his opponents. He could hear her tiny breaths, and it moved him forward.

Despite his clarity, time slowed. He saw Harry obviously bounding up the steps just behind him, but he took an agonizingly long time to arrive on the scene. He disarmed her – that offensive, sorry excuse for a woman. He took that vile wand from her and took aim at the Malfoys with Wormtail’s wand. Hermione’s still form remained on the floor, and there was murder in his heart.

The sureness and the clarity disappeared as Bellatrix took Hermione and pressed a knife to the soft skin on her throat. The blood that fell from her neck hypnotized him, and he dropped the wands robotically. He was going to die. He wanted to die. Life without her was a hell he didn’t even want to think about.

How does it feel to know you’re everything I need
The butterflies in my stomach
They could bring me to my knees
How does it feel to know you’re everything I want
I’ve got a hard time saying this
So I’ll sing it in a song

Ron prepared to die. There was no point in fighting. He was a coward, and without her, he was even less than that. The blood dripped down her shirt like macabre sand in an eternal hourglass, ticking away to their deaths. He shook as he fought his despair. He still had Harry. Harry needed him and he couldn’t leave his best mate again. As Harry’s shoulder pressed against him, Ron closed his mind to his fear and thought only of Harry’s need.

As his will strengthened, Ron saw a glimmer of hope out of the corner of his eye. Dobby was back. He came though for them in a more heroic way than the Ron of yesterday would have scarcely imagined. Then came an ominous creaking sound from above.

Bellatrix cast her prey aside as if the whole world didn’t depend on that brilliant young witch waking up. Ron wanted to run to her, but a crash snapped him from determination. The massive structure of glass and light fell from the ceiling and was covering all but Hermione’s delicate left hand. He ran to her, ignoring the shards of glass piercing his face. He dug for her, paying no attention as his fingers dripped blood on the pristine crystal.

He got to her, and his clarity returned. The pain from the glass felt good, it made him feel alive. He pulled her close to him, pressed his chest against hers and felt the faint beating of her heart. The drumming restored life to every inch of him.

“Ron, catch- and GO!”

Harry’s determined face swam in Ron’s eyes as a small wand flew through the air toward him. He looked at Harry, grateful for not giving in. Now, the world consisted only of his need to gaze into her eyes again as he apparated to Bill and Fleur’s cottage by the sea.

He landed on his feet, the spongy ground keeping his ankles from giving out from the force of his Apparition. He held her close to him and ran toward the back door of the cottage on the cliff. He pounded on the door with his foot, not wanting to let loose his grip on the broken Hermione. His brother answered the door, wand drawn. He looked horrified at the sight of them.

“What position did I play in quidditch?”

“You didn’t play. There were too many girls to snog…”

“What the hell happened?” Bill asked, moving aside to let Ron in. Fleur stood a few feet behind, a menacing look marring her beautiful features – a look that faded into worry as Ron sprinted up the stairs to lay Hermione in the room with the blue curtains. He barely even registered the presence of Luna on the settee and the sight of Dean leaning over her.

She let out a quiet groan as her laid her down on the narrow bed. She felt so small in his arms, so fragile. Hermione had never before seemed so breakable to him. Instead, she had always seemed larger than life, radiating a strength that would positively influence anyone around her. Now, she lay weak, limp, and barely breathing.

Oh I adore the way you carry yourself
With the grace of a thousand angels overhead
I love the way the galaxy starts to melt
When we become one
When we become one

“What happened, Ron?” asked Bill quietly as he walked into the room and placed a hand on his youngest brother’s shoulder.

“Harry is on his way. I think the goblin is hurt,” Ron answered, and Bill rushed out of the room. Ron sat on the end table and began to fish glass from the cuts on her face, careful not to cause her additional pain. He flinched which each sliver of glass he took from her skin, but continued.

“Ron, I need to know what ‘appened, so zat I can ‘elp,” Fleur whispered, catching him off guard.

“I can’t tell you,” he said distractedly, moving his wand over each wound carefully, still removing glass.

Fleur swooped down next to him and put a soft hand on his bleeding arm. He didn’t look up from his task.

“You can trust me. I won’t tell Beel if you don’t want me too…”

At this, Ron looked up at her. Her ice blue eyes were gazing at him with affection and understanding, the same way Hermione had always looked at him in their rare moments of levity. Ron had no choice but to trust Fleur. The world be damned, Hermione needed help.

“She may have been tortured,” Ron said, running his hands lightly along her nose, the one area of her face that had not been cut. He couldn’t keep his hands from her, for fear she might vanish, and he would find himself somehow back in that awful dungeon. Fleur’s bare feet padded delicately into the room as she re-entered, holding some bottles filled with various potions.

“Okay. First, we need to get all of zis glass out of ze way,” she lifted her wand and Ron stood in front of Hermione.

“You’ll hurt her!”

“It needs to be done…”

Ron gave up, already cringing over what it would feel like.

“Zis will hurt you too…Accio glass!”

And before he could heed her warning, the shards of the chandelier were pulled from his flesh. He watched as the blood-dotted crystal flew to the ceiling and towards Fleur’s wand. He felt burning and piercing as Fleur guided the shards of glass to a bowl she had placed on the floor next to her. As he was about to let his body take over and cry out in pain, Hermione let out a whimper. Flushed with relief at her ability to vocalize, Ron suppressed his own pain and ran to her side.

Tiny stains of blood were appearing on the sleeves of her jacket, the front of her shirt, and along her legs. He tried to comfort her as she slowly woke, tears streaming down her scratched and bloodied face.

“Ron?” she eeked out. He went to answer, but Fleur interrupted.

“First, we ‘ave to heal zees cuts. Ron, take off her jacket. I’ll get her socks and jeans,” she said, immediately pulling off her socks and unbuttoning Hermione’s jeans.

Ron turned his back and tried to focus on sitting her up carefully and sliding the jacket over her shoulders, leaving her in only a tattered sleeveless top. Her arms seemed in even worse condition than her face, for the cuts were deeper. He laid her carefully back on the pillow, but when she groaned, he clasped her hand between his, trying to comfort her as she slowly became alert. He could hear Fleur whispering spells that would mend her broken skin, but Ron was terrified at what else might be broken inside her. He thought back to Neville’s parents in the hospital and moved closer to Hermione and gently pulled her arm to his chest. She started to cry as Fleur’s wand continued to seal the small wounds on her face, leaving behind what looked like mild burns that slowly faded.

“Shhhhh, Hermione. You’re okay. You’re safe,” he whispered, smoothing her hair back so he could better see her eyes, but they were still closed. He fought back the horrific lump that was rising in his throat, and kissed her forehead.

“It hurts,” she whispered, gripping his hand. Fleur handed him a bottle of blue liquid he knew to be pain potion.

“Drink this, love, it’ll help,” he said, brining a shaking hand to her lips as he guided her to sit up with his other. Fleur quickly stacked pillows behind her to hold Hermione’s weak form upright.

She swallowed greedily, causing herself to cough. The look of pain on her face told Ron that the simple act of coughing was exceedingly difficult for her. It ripped Ron up to see the tears in her eyes, especially since he still did not know how the ordeal had affected her emotionally. He barely got a half open glimpse from her as she cringed in pain.

“Fleur! I need some skelegro!” Bill’s panicked voice came from the bottom of the stairs. She shuffled out of the room quickly and quietly.

Ron was completely at a loss. He ran his hands over her shaking back, pulling her toward him and attempting to calm and comfort her in any way he could. She just sobbed, and the sound of her choked cries tore through him once again. Sure, she was safe and he was there, but he couldn’t do anything more to help her. He closed his eyes to keep from crying himself, and silently resolved to be there when his Hermione fully returned.

“Oh ‘Mione! I’m sorry.” He whispered between her quiet gasps for breath, letting his warm hands run over the chilled skin on her arms.

“None of this is your fault. It’s unfathomable that you should apologize for what she…” Hermione spoke weakly, choking on her words. He was never so happy to hear her slightly condescending tone in all of his life. She gazed at him with pain, but also with affection and understanding.

He sat there, watching the light of a candle flicking in her glassy eyes. Then, forgetting any fear or misgiving, he moved to the bed and pulled her into his arms, resting his head in her hair and crying with her.

How does it feel when we get locked into a stare?
Please don’t come looking for me
When I get lost in the mess of your hair
How do you feel when everything you’ve known
Gets thrown aside
Never fear, my dear, ’cause we have nothing left to hide

“I thought I had lost you. I couldn’t…I can’t…” he said into her hair.

“I was scared. I wanted to die. I never wanted to get out of that alive. I didn’t intend to,” she said, her warm breath grazing his shoulder as she spoke. “The pain was too much. I didn’t want to live if it meant having to feel that.”

“Oh Hermione! No. I can’t go on with all of this without you here,” he said, his heart pounding at the thought of her giving up.

“I heard you yelling and I stayed strong. I lied, knowing you and Harry needed me to,” she said, her voice gaining some strength in the process.

“It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever heard,” he whispered, moving his hands to her face. He wasn’t shocked at his own open actions, for he simply craved feeling her and knowing she was real.

There was so much more to say. He wanted to tell her how they made it out, how Dobby saved them all in the nick of time. He wanted to show her what Harry had seen in the mirror, but as her breathing began to slow, all he wanted to do was hold onto her until for as long as he could.

“I promise, Hermione, I’ll always be there.”

“You kept that promise, Ron,” she said, pulling back and looking into his eyes. The relief at feeling her there faded, and it left him with an urge to kiss every inch of her face. Those feelings made him feel guilty for being so insensitive, so he settled for crawling into the bed next to her, laying down and letting her rest her head on his chest.

Hold on to me girl
If you feel your grip getting loose
Just know that I’m right next to you
Hold on to me girl
If you feel your grip getting loose
Just know that I won’t let you down

Approximately an hour later, Fleur came in, accompanied by Bill, and Ron couldn’t hold back the blush at them finding him like that with Hermione.

“The elf is dead. Harry doesn’t seem to be taking it well,” Bill said. Ron gasped and carefully laid Hermione’s sleeping form back on her pillow as Bill walked back out of the room. Fleur walked forward with a bundle of clothing. She set it on the nightstand and conjured a patronus.

“Ron ees ‘ere. We are safe. Molly and Geeny are at Muriel’s. I will keep in touch,” she said, sending her dove on its way.

“What was that for?” he asked, wondering which member of his family she would feel compelled to notify. Fleur looked reluctant to say, and that’s all the answer Ron needed.

“That git…” but Ron didn’t’ finish his rant as he looked out the window and saw Harry digging a hole in the yard. He looked back at Hermione and felt torn.

“I weel wake ‘er shortly. I must check for any more injuries anyway,” Fleur said gently. Ron raced down the stairs and out the door.

He found Harry digging furiously, unaware of the world around him. Dean was just watching, almost mesmerized by Harry’s pain. He saw the small bundle wrapped in Harry’s coat, its feet sticking out of the bottom. He could hear the slap of the metal shovel in the dirt. Ron tasted the salt on his lips form the sea below them.

“How’s Hermione?”

“Better,” said Ron. “Fleur’s looking after her.”

He didn’t need to ask Harry why he wasn’t just casting a spell. Harry needed to vent, needed to think, needed to grieve. Ron wouldn’t stop that, but he would help. The dirt that Harry flung out of the expanding hole smelled so visceral that Ron was compelled to go in and help him dig. Soon, Dean followed, digging out of honor and respect for the elf that got them out of that dungeon, and away from death.

The cold breeze ran across the back of his neck, and he shuddered. This brave elf had kept them all from death for one more day. He had risked his life, and because of that, Hermione was still with them. Ron looked again at his tiny bare feet as Harry wrapped him more tightly in the coat, and felt struck by the memory of Dobby receiving socks with gusto at Christmas. He took his own socks and put them on his feet as Hermione hobbled over to the makeshift funeral. He put his arm around her, pulling her close to him and away from the cold uncertainty of their tomorrow.

If I had to choose a way to die
It’d be with you
In a goosebump infested embrace
With my overanxious hands cupping your face
In a goosebump infested embrace
With my overanxious hands cupping your cherub face

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Sister

An excerpt from Transmission by EruditeWitch

Summary: An immediately post-war fic centered on Hermione and Harry’s friendship and Ron and Ginny’s relationship as they cope with all of the sudden changes and losses.
Lyrics by The Nixons

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Hermione Granger attempted to stifle her racing heart as chaos erupted around her in the Hospital Wing. Injured witches and wizards, injured friends reaching out for her help were flowing in. Madam Pomfrey was an effective leader, commanding the still standing to aid the ill. She was currently trying to piece together and heal the large bloody wound overtaking Lavender Brown as Parvati held her hand in worry.

“Hermione!” Neville shouted, drawing her attentions back to the task at hand. Dean Thomas was levitating Seamus Finnigan, a torn rag doing nothing to stop the blood gushing out of a wound on his leg. Hermione rushed over and directed him to an open cot.

“I’ll be fine, help the others first,” Seamus groaned, though his face was sweating and screwed up in pain.

“No!” shouted Dean sternly, immediately taking Seamus’ hand. “You need help, f*ck’s sake I will not lose you…not after I’ve finally found my way back.”

“Dittany, please, Neville,” she said quietly, a knot in her throat affecting her vocal chords. She was struck by the open affection and concern between Dean and Seamus, but quickly let it go. She knew she would act the same way toward Ron. She was diverted away from the question that thought raised about Seamus and Dean as Neville placed a freshly made dish of dittany in her hand.

“I must clean this before I can heal it, Seamus,” Hermione said, studying the long, oozing wound that stretched down the length of Seamus’ shin and partially exposed the bone. “This will hurt.”

Dean took Seamus’ bloody hand more tightly in his and leaned in, whispering in his ear. Hermione swept her wand over his leg, casting a Cleansing Spell. Seamus tried to hold back a scream as tears ran down his face, but eventually he yelled out. Hermione felt her own tears shed in empathy for her housemate. She dug her fingers generously into the cool dittany and swathed it over the bloody gash, sealing it almost instantly. Seamus’ breathing slowed.

“Can you bandage this just in case? Also, find Slughorn and get some Blood-Replenishing Potion. Seamus looks deathly pale,” she said to Neville, shaking. He put a hand on her back.

“Sure. Will you be okay?” he asked, looking very concerned.

Hermione nodded, moving quickly to the next person waiting for help. She knew she was useful here. She had a textbook awareness of general Healing Spells, but she ached to be near Ron. She had stood there in the Great Hall on the edge, wanting to grab him, hold him tightly, and comfort him. But she felt like an intruder on the Weasley family’s sadness, so she did nothing. Now, all she wanted to do was make his hurt lessen in any way she could.

She finished up her tasks and Madame Pomfrey suggested she get some rest in Gryffindor Tower. Hermione hoped she could find Ron, Harry, and all of the Weasleys resting there too. She walked briskly away from the Hospital Wing, cleaning the blood off of her clothes as she went. However, she suddenly felt very sick. Everything she had done, seen, and felt on this day seemed to invade her mind.

Overwhelmed, she leaned over a bin in the deserted hallway and vomited, shaking violently.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Harry was unsure of what to do. He knew he was hungry and should eat, but after handing the bodies of Lupin and Tonks over to The Newly Established Interim Slap Dash Ministry, he didn’t feel like summoning Kreacher and getting food. Yes, he was relieved and felt better than he had in ages, but he wanted to find his friends … he wanted to find Ginny. Harry felt he didn’t have much to offer in the category of comfort, but he still wanted to be there for the Weasleys if they needed anything. He knew Hermione would chastise him for thinking so, but Harry couldn’t help but feel slightly responsible for the horrible loss of Fred Weasley.

As Harry padded thoughtfully through the halls, he heard someone coughing. He rounded the corner to find Hermione bent over a bin, her bushy hair falling around her face. Harry was slightly shocked at seeing her so ill composed, but rushed over and gathered her hair into his hands, casting a cleaning spell as he did so. He couldn’t begin to imagine what was going through her complicated mind.

Thoughts of what we were invade
The miles that stand between
We can’t separate
You’re all I hoped you’d become

Harry sat on his knees next to her and ran comforting circles down her back with his free hand. He marveled at how brave and compassionate she was, even now in the aftermath of war. He thought back to the rules-obsessed know-it-all of their first year and smiled at how different she had become … yet still she remained Hermione. He couldn’t ask for a better friend. She had fought bravely, and now they had the rest of their lives to get back to some semblance of normality. Hermione finally sat back against the wall, shaking and catching her breath.

“Harry, there were so many,” she cried, tears falling down her face. Harry put an arm around her and let her rest her head on his shoulder. Harry felt useful in this new role. No longer was he the beleaguered and reluctant hero…right now he was just Harry: Hermione’s friend. It felt good that he could finally support her instead of the other way around.

“Poor Fred. I want to comfort them, but I’m not sure how,” she cried.

“I know how you feel,” he muttered. She backed away and met his eyes, that familiar all-knowing glance dancing in her dark brown irises.

“Have you spoken with Ginny yet?” she asked. Harry shook his head. Though she was sitting, she had still managed to put her hands on her hips and look at him sternly, puffy eyes and all.

Harry had to laugh to himself. She looked just like good old Hermione, despite all the pain she had suffered. It gave him endless contentment to know his best friend was still there and relatively unscathed. She returned his smile and giggled a little at her own demeanor.

Sister I see you
Dancing on the stage
Of memory
Sister I miss you

“Remember when we were about to go through the trap door during our first year and you were convinced you weren’t going to get expelled because Flitwick told you that you scored 112 percent on your exam?”

Hermione laughed and nodded. “My priorities are a little better now,” she said, rising to her feet. She winced a little as she rose. Harry felt guilt surge further through him. She might always be sore from that horrible night. Harry took her hand, and turned her attention to him. She looked concerned and confused.

“I’m so sorry,” he started.

Hermione went to question him, but he stopped her. He tried to hold back his own tears as he attempted to say what he had wanted to say for weeks now.

“I’m sorry I said his name. I’m sorry we were caught. I’m sorry for what they did to you…what she did. It should have been me,” he said, a tear falling down his cheek. “You’ve always been family to me, you and Ron. I should have…” Harry tried to finish, but couldn’t find his words. Thoughts he had been holding back while he tried to destroy Voldemort were invading his head at an alarming pace. This was just one of many.

Hermione flung her arms around him in her characteristic way and pulled him close.

“That’s nothing compared to the moment I thought you were dead,” she whispered.

Harry lingered there, holding her tightly until she pulled away.

“Come on, let’s go to the common room and get some rest. I’m sure the Weasleys will be staying tonight,” she said gently.

As they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower, Hermione indicated her plans to go to Australia in two days to retrieve her parents. She would spend the next day in London getting their affairs in order, and then she would organize Portkeys to get her to them as soon as possible.

Harry wanted to go with her, but she insisted on doing this on her own, and he expected nothing less.

Fleeting visits pass
Still they satisfy
Reminders of the next
Overshadow goodbye
Our flames burn as one

Harry was impressed at her brilliance and a little shocked at the lengths she went to protect her family. Then again, Ron said it best: Hermione Granger was scary; brilliant, but scary. He had forgotten those little things that made her so brilliant throughout the past year, just taking for granted she would be there. Now that the dust had cleared, he could get a good look at all she did. Harry knew he owed Hermione and Ron more than he could ever repay, not that they would let him repay it anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ron Weasley straightened his back and attempted to remain stalwart, even amidst his family’s overwhelming grief. He stood next to the table holding Fred, touching sides with Bill and Charlie to create a wall of protection between Fred’s lifeless form and the rest of the Great Hall. Ron struggled to keep himself from crying as his mother wept, her head on Fred’s chest. No tears fell when his father began weeping as well, as he hastily comforted her. Ron kept his delicate composure when he noticed the blank look on George’s face as he held Fred’s head in his lap. Ron even held it together when Fleur walked up and put her arms around Bill’s waist, and he cried on her shoulder. Ron began to falter when Charlie broke down and took Fred’s cold hand, crying into it. At last tears welled in Ron’s eyes as he took in the vision of Percy, who was wiping droplets of tears from his horn-rimmed glasses.

As the pressure of their grief mounted, the only ones left standing in the Weasley family were Ron and Ginny, both of whom were fighting against the desire to fall victim to their anguish. He looked over at his sister, defiant with her jaw clenched as tightly as her fists. She looked torn between wanting to fall next to their parents and her need to stay strong. Ron knew how she was feeling, and he sympathized with the little girl that used to run barefoot through the high grass of their fields. What was going to happen to the fire that had always burned so brightly in her? What was going to happen to their whole family?

Sister I see you
Dancing on the stage
Of memory
Sister I miss you

Percy placed his glasses back on his head and put a tentative arm around Ginny, obviously still unsure of his place in the family…despite their grief. Ron watched in horror as her lips quivered and her brown eyes began to water. She spun her body around, fiery hair flying like a wave, and buried her face into Percy’s chest. She looked more like a little girl than she had in years.

Bill placed his free hand on Ron’s shoulder while Charlie joined him again on the other side. Ron felt safer than he had felt since that awful snake attacked his father. He was with his family, and there was no more danger to threaten them all. Ron finally allowed himself to cry, pushing down the anger and the need for vengeance. He stood there, immersed in the silent vigil of his family until minutes…maybe hours later, Bill cleared his throat and walked over to his father.

“We need to begin arrangements for a funeral,” Bill whispered gently.

“Next to Gideon and Fabian,” said his mother, wiping her tears on a handkerchief Arthur had provided for her.

“I will see to it,” Bill said, rising and taking Fleur’s hand as he walked toward the exit of the hall.

Ron watched his mother stand up slowly, trembling as she did, and clutching his father’s arm.

Ron was finding it hard to move, as if leaving that small corner would prove this was real, that Fred was truly gone. Molly looked as though she was about to speak, but it took a few moments before she found her words.

“We should all try and get some rest. Minerva has offered to put your father and me in one of the staff quarters…” she started, surveying all of her children.

“Fleur and I are going to sleep in Ravenclaw Tower,” said Bill. “Flitwick plans to be awake for a while to do the repairs, and he asked if I would watch over the students who are still here.”

He hugged his father, followed by Fleur, and then kissed his mother on the cheek. She pulled him into a full hug, causing Ron to think that she looked afraid to let him go. Bill obliged by lingering until, at last, she pulled away.

“Charlie, Percy, Ginny, Ron…” Molly started, stopping to look at George, who had not moved from his spot at Fred’s head, “…and George, why don’t you lot go to the Gryffindor common room and try to rest? We’ll head home tomorrow morning when we can be assured everything is safe,” she said, her normally strong voice nothing more than a weak whisper. She threw a sheet over Fred, kissed him softly, and covered his face. Only then did George stand.

Ron walked slowly to his parents, and into the arms of his mother who hugged him tightly.

“My brave boy,” she whispered, causing Ron to feel a wave of something indescribable rush over him. He was simultaneously comforted and sad.

Percy walked beside George, monitoring him, but giving him space as the remaining Weasleys made their way to the tower. Ron followed, listening to the plodding of his large feet along the ruins of the hallway. He could hear Ginny walking next to him, but did little to acknowledge she was there. When they reached the portrait, the Fat Lady simply smiled and swung open. Charlie mumbled a thank you.

“I’m going to the pub,” he said, Disapparating, taking advantage of the lack of wards in the aftermath of the victory. No one protested, too tired, numb, relieved, stricken…too many things to admonish Charlie for drinking.

Ron didn’t know what to expect upon entering the familiar confines of the common room, but to find it empty and cold wasn’t on the list. The morning light was starting to peek through the stained glass, and Ron assumed those who remained were well into sleep. Percy went through all the dormitories to take inventory, and came back stating that the first through fourth years boys’ dorms were empty. He then immediately followed George to the first year boy’s dorm, keeping an unspoken watch on the remaining twin.

Ron knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he saw Harry and Hermione, just to be sure. After months of sharing a small sleeping quarter and depending on each other for safety, he wouldn’t feel completely settled until he saw those two. Ron noticed Ginny still standing in the common room and figured she wasn’t ready to sleep either, though her reasoning was most likely slightly different. Ron set about making a fire to quell the draft of the spring morning.

The radio in the common room flicked on, and Lee Jordan’s voice came rolling out and filling up the room. He was recapping the events of last night. Ron let the words go in one ear and out the other, not wanting to dwell on the good or the bad any more that night. Then, Lee started listing off those that had lost their lives. Ron tried not to listen. He didn’t want Fred’s death to become any more real than it already was.

He silently gathered wood and carefully placed the logs on the hearth. He watched Ginny from the corner of his eye as she sat on the sofa, pulling her legs up so that her chin rested on her knees. She seemed so small, much smaller than normal. Ron flashed back yet again to their early childhood, when Ginny had been literally small, but full of vigor and curiosity. She still maintained some of that youthful spark despite the weight on all their shoulders.

All I am begins with you
Thoughts of hope understood
Half of me breathes in you
Thoughts of love remain true

Being only a year apart, Ron and Ginny were forced to live their young lives out at the same time. Their mother even dressed them in similar clothes, much to their dismay. But seeing his sister, his first friend in his short life, looking so lost, reminded him of every bruised knee and bedtime story, of every bit of mischief and teasing. This hurt was even more visceral that her Harry-inspired heartbreak. His powerfully strong little sister was hurt, just like he was. He took a seat near her on the opposite side of the sofa. They sat in silence, watching the fire crackle wildly against the bone-dry wood.

“Remember when you left for Hogwarts?” Ginny asked, her voice piercing the silence of the nearly vacant room. Ron started at the sudden words and nodded. “Fred said he would send me a toilet seat.”

Ron chuckled slightly at the memory.

“I never told anyone this, but he actually sent one,” she said, smiling through her wet eyes.

“Blimey! Those buggers!” Ron said, a tearful, sad sort of happiness coursing through him. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Well, it became our inside joke. I would leave it in the weirdest places with messages, and he or George would write back. When they left Hogwarts, I sent the seat to the shop with the words ‘your education’ emblazoned on it and an arrow pointing at the hole.”

Ron laughed, a mirthful, nostalgic laugh, and moved closer to her on the couch. She snuggled next to him like they had done when they were little and she became frightened. He was glad to have her there at that moment.

Entwined, you and I
Our souls speak from across the miles
Intertwined, you and I
Our blood flows from the same inside
Half of me, breathes in you
Thoughts of love remain true

“You knew Fred slept with a stuffed duck, right?” Ron asked, and she nodded. “Well, I got my revenge for the spider incident the summer after third year. I switched it with a live duck. Mum blamed him for all the poo on his pillow!”

“That’s why he chucked Duckworth!” she giggled, growing silent again as the fire crackled even more loudly.

“He didn’t F*CKING deserve it!” Ginny yelled, giving into her sobs. Ron rubbed her back, trying to comfort her and hold in his own pain. He couldn’t, however, and his cries soon mirrored hers. He pulled her close, seeking solace as much as giving it. Eventually, she pulled away.

“I’m such a bloody woman!” she exclaimed, wiping her eyes.

“’S okay,” Ron said, unsure of how to respond. He sat there for a long time, just waiting for their sadness to subside. It would likely be inevitable that their sadness would ebb and flow as they carried on with their lives. Ron could only hope he would always be there when she needed him.

“Hermione kissed me,” he said, hoping his confession might cheer her slightly. When he was younger and she was sad, he’d just pull faces until she couldn’t stop laughing. But now that seemed unlikely, so he proceeded to regale her with the tale.

When he finished talking, she whispered, “About time,” and fell asleep leaning against him. He summoned a blanket, laid it over them both, put his arm around her, and drifted off.

I see you, I feel you
When I close my eyes
I see walking there…
I see you dancing in my mind

A gentle prodding at his shoulder awakened Ron. He opened his eyes to find Harry looking down at him, still dirty, cut, and bruised from battle. Ron shifted slightly and a sleepy groan emanated from Ginny. He placed his fingers on his lips and indicated to Harry that he should do something about Ginny without waking her. With surprising strength for someone of a much smaller stature who hadn’t slept well in almost a year, he scooped Ginny into his arms, tilting his body so her head could rest on his shoulder. He pointed at the stairwell that wouldn’t collapse on them and began walking slowly towards it.

Ron felt delicate fingers curl around his arm to help him up, and looked to see Hermione gazing down at him, concern etched on her face. She looked tired. Her hair was hastily tied up in an unimaginable way, with frizzes and strands falling out unceremoniously around her face. She was thin and pale, months of meager food, running, and fear taking its toll on her physique. But as Ron rose up and stood near her, the faint smell of grass and dirt coming from her, he felt overwhelmed by a barrage of emotions that wanted to all escape him at the same time.

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer to him, her small form fitting perfectly against his broad and bony chest. He couldn’t help but think about how close it all came to ending, how close he had been to losing her. Her screams from the night she was tortured still rang in his mind, and while he knew she had recovered, he still wasn’t accustomed to how fragile and delicate their lives had become in that final month. When she sighed a tired and mildly contented sigh, Ron pulled away, leading her to where Harry and Ginny had gone to rest.

When they got to the door with the number 4 on it, they heard low and anxious voices coming from the other side. Hermione looked up at him, almost as if pleading with him to not interrupt them and just go to bed. He loved how her eyes could communicate so much without saying anything.

Ron took her hand and walked back down the steps to the doorway marked 3. He flicked his wand at the heater to activate it, radiating gentle warmth through his old dorm. Hermione readied the bedclothes of the one that used to be his, so Ron began to do the same to Neville’s. However, Hermione placed her hand on his arm, lowered his wand, and crawled into the open bed. She patted the area beside her, a nervous blush creeping from beyond the dirt and blood smeared on her face. He took off his shoes and socks and climbed next to her.

Without a word she turned to him and pulled him close to her, so that his face was buried in the warmth of her neck. Ron gripped her tightly, so happy she was alive in the same moment that he felt so empty with loss. He let out a few more shaking sobs as her sniffles could be heard above his head. Among the symphony of gentle crying, he drifted into sleep in her arms.

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Gravity

An excerpt from Potterwatch by EruditeWitch

Summary: A missing moment from Deathly Hallows. Hermione and Ron deal with the pain of him leaving and the uncertainty of emotions behind his return.
Lyrics by Sarah Bareilles

crop_gravity

Hermione sat at the small table in their little tent, watching Ron fiddling with his wireless. She pretended to be poring over a book on defensive magic as he tried desperately to find a radio show he had listened to at his brother’s. She watched his mouth curve in concentration, watched his broad, thin body bend over different sides of the small radio, and even chuckled silently as he stomped away from the radio like a frustrated child.

It had been two months since he had returned, and she was no closer to openly forgiving him for his desertion. Sure, their companionship was almost back to normal, their way of easy bantering and the obvious teamwork required to make it through, but she hadn’t forgiven him, and he knew it. She could see the pleading behind his eyes every time his met hers, and it made her want to forget it all right there. But he had hurt her too badly this time, and she didn’t know if they could ever be the same. The thought broke her heart, so she avoided his eyes.

Something always brings me back to you.
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do,
I’ll still feel you here,
’til the moment I’m gone.

The night he came back, she had never been so happy and so angry in one moment. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and cry when she saw him step awkwardly into the tent, but her broken heart won out and she fought his return. Throughout their long walks, she ached to grasp his hand, but she remembered him leaving as she pleaded for him to stay, so she did nothing.

After they got back from the Lovegoods’, she wanted to fling herself on him in relief, but she did no such thing. Everything was at war in her world, and her heart and head were no exceptions. When he took her side, so to speak, in her argument with Harry about The Deathly Hallows, she wanted to kiss him, but instead she just left for her watch, figuring he was only trying to get on her good side anyway.

Ron was holding back too. On difficult paths, there was no arm beneath hers to hold her steady. When she led the way, there wasn’t a hand on the small of her back to ensure her. And when she was afraid, she had nowhere to find safety as his seat was always farthest away from hers. When they walked, he would shove his hands in his pockets and gaze at her furtively from the corners of his eyes.

Despite her best efforts, despite all of her strength, he was still on her mind every night before she slept. She wanted him when the darkness of their lives took over. She needed him beside her.

You hold me without touch.
You keep me without chains.
Never wanted anything so much,
Then to drown in your love,
And not feel your rain.

Another day, and Ron still had not managed to find the radio show. He finally gave up late one night as Harry walked out of the tent to take the first watch, trying to inconspicuously take the Marauder’s Map with him.

“Well, we’d better rest up. I’ve got the middle shift, so you’ve got to get up quite early,” Ron said, standing up and stretching. Hermione found herself blushing at the thinness of his pajama bottoms as they stretched over his body. She quickly hid her face by getting up and busying herself by preparing her bed for sleep.

“Hermione? If you don’t mind, could you set an alarm so I can get up and send Harry to bed?” Ron asked. Normally he would not be nearly so polite, and this artificial courtesy felt so false and unfamiliar that Hermione found herself missing the old Ron.

“Mmmhmm…” she answered, not trusting her actual words. He reached up with his Deluminator and took out the lights in the sleeping quarter. Soon, she was lulled into an uneasy sleep.

Set me free, leave me be.
I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.
Here I am and I stand so tall,
Just the way I’m supposed to be.
But you’re on to me and all over me.

She ran her hands down his bare back as he hovered above her in the camp bed. She sighed when he kissed down her neck and his tongue passed over her bare breasts. She could feel the heat pooling in her center as he whispered her name over and over again.

“My own. ‘Mione. Hermione!”

She sat up abruptly, Ron’s calls waking her from an embarrassing sleep.

“Sorry, but it’s time for your watch. I can do it if you’re…”

“I’m fine, Ronald. I’m not a porcelain doll.”

He chuckled in his old way at her snap, and she couldn’t help but smirk as he tucked back in for the remainder of the morning.

Hermione grabbed Beedle the Bard and settled herself in for the 4-hour morning watch. Approximately halfway through her shift, she heard quiet sounds coming from their tiny kitchen. She peeked her head in to find Ron, lit only by his wand, attempting to make tea.

“What are you doing awake?” she whispered, genuinely concerned.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“Fine. I’ve jut got a lot on my mind…of course. I just want to hear how everyone is doing, and I can’t get that damned wireless to work!” he said, looking sadly around the low ceilings of the tent.

“Want some tea? I can sit out there for a few minutes. It’s chilly anyway, and you need to warm up,” he said, giving her a sad smile.

Hermione nodded and climbed into the tent’s entrance as Ron was climbing out. As she walked quietly down the steps, she felt his fingers brush lightly down her back. The feeling gave her chills, and she had to close her eyes before making her tea.

You loved me ’cause I’m fragile.
When I thought that I was strong.
But you touch me for a little while
And all my fragile strength is gone.

As she was making her tea, she reached into her bag and pulled out her homework planner to mark the days off. March 7th…Ron was 18 and he’d never mentioned anything! Her inner turmoil be damned. She pulled out two chocolate biscuits she was saving, and lit a bluebell flame over one.

She walked back out of the tent to find the sun getting ready to come up. Ron was standing against a nearby tree, focused on nothing but whatever was in his head.

Hermione decided to cast her bitterness aside, albeit momentarily, and began to hum a very quiet version of ‘Happy Birthday’. Ron almost jumped out of his skin, but when he saw her, a shy grin spread across his face.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” she asked, levitating a biscuit toward him, avoiding his long fingers as they grasped the sweet treat.

“We’ve been so caught up in other things, I didn’t want to be a distraction.”

Hermione just nodded solemnly. Her birthday had passed without a word.

“Kind of like you did in September? I didn’t even realize until Christm…Well it took me a while.”

“Touche, Ronald,” Hermione said, swallowing a lump in her throat at the period of time he alluded to.

“Hermione, I…”

“No. Not now. I can’t.”

Ron was quiet for a spell, and then went to speak again with an even more apologetic tone.

“Hermione, I need to…”

“Ron! I’m not ready! I can’t.”

“Damnit! You have to let me do this!”

“I don’t have to do anything,” she answered, trying to sound forceful, but failing as her voice quivered.

Ron dropped his teacup, grabbed her shoulders, and turned her to face him. Though he looked cross, his hands felt soft on her shoulders.

“I’m sorry. I’m more sorry than I’ve ever been. I’m ashamed that I deserted you. I’m ashamed I left Harry after I said no matter what that I wouldn’t. I’m a coward. Nothing can change how awful I feel about what I did.” He said, his own voice breaking up. Hermione tried to look away from him, to hide her own tears, which were forming in her eyes. He took his hand and turned her chin toward him, and she saw the horrible pain on his face.

“But I will spend forever making it up to you, even if nothing changes. It’s all I can do,” he whispered the last line, letting go of her shoulders and turning to leave.

“Ron!” she said as he walked away.

He turned his bright blue eyes at her, shining with tears he was desperately fighting.

“I promise…if that even means anything…I will never leave you. Never.” He struggled to speak over a roughness in his throat. Hermione couldn’t compose herself. She wanted to tell him it would be all right. She wanted to tell him he had forever, because she would never leave him either. She wanted to promise him so much. But she held it in. She needed to be strong, or she would never last.

“Eat your biscuit,” she whispered. It was the only thing she could articulate. He smiled, his annoying ability to read her face working overtime. They both hastily wiped their faces before Ron took a bite of his treat. She sighed easily when he placed an arm around her shoulders.

The day went by quickly and soon they were nestled into a new hiding place. Hermione set about trying to read more about The Deathly Hallows in order to prove Harry wrong, but she kept glancing at Ron’s back, bent over his wireless.

Ron’s excited yell pulled her from her not so obvious pretend reading.

“I’ve got it! I’ve got it! Password was ‘Albus’! Get in here, Harry!”

Hermione jumped off her chair and crouched down in between the boys. They all smelled like rain and dirt, but there was such an excitement in the air that it didn’t matter. A person whose voice was vaguely familiar to her began to echo out.

“…apologize for our temporary absence form the airwaves, which was due to a number of house calls in our area by those charming Death Eaters.”

“But that’s Lee Jordan!” Hermione exclaimed. She was so excited to hear a familiar voice, she didn’t realized how closely she had scooted toward Ron.

“I know!” beamed Ron. “Cool, eh?” he said. She marveled at the biggest smile she had seen in weeks.

“…now found ourselves another secure location,” Lee was saying, “and I’m pleased to tell you that two of our regular contributors have joined me here this evening. Evening boys!”

“Hi.”

“Evening, River”

“ ‘River’, that’s Lee,” Ron explained. “They’ve all got code names, but you can usually tell,”

Hermione had to quiet his excited rambling so that she could hear the programme.

“But before we hear from Royal and Romulus,” Lee went on, “let’s take a moment to report those deaths that the Wizarding Wireless Network News and The Daily Prophet don’t think important enough to mention. It is with great regret that we inform our listeners of the murders of Ted Tonks and Dirk Cresswell.”

Hermione looked around, scared to death. She had just heard his voice not long ago. How close were Death Eaters to finding them?

“A goblin by the name of Gornuk was also killed. It is believed that Muggle-born Dean Thomas and a second goblin, both believed to have been traveling with Tonks, Cresswell, and Gornuk, may have escaped. If Dean is listening, or if anyone has any knowledge of his whereabouts, his parents and sisters are desperate for news.”

The radio show went on, with Hermione shushing Ron often, and Kingsley Shacklebolt’s voice booming through the tent. There was defensive advice, news on the Muggle world’s troubles, and even some opinions of how some of the more cowardly wizards were acting. Then, Hermione had to gasp as the ‘Pals of Potter’ segment started, and Hermione whispered, “We know it’s Lupin!” to Ron to keep him from shouting again.

Remus Lupin began to speak of his assuredness that Harry was alive and well, which Hermione had to smile at, because at least those who cared knew he was okay. And then, Lee asked Remus a question that almost made Hermione sob in her already emotional state.

“And what would you say to Harry if you knew he was listening, Romulus?”

“I’d tell him we’re all with him in spirit,” said Lupin, then hesitated slightly. “And I’d tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.”

Hermione could feel her eyes welling up with emotion. She missed them all so much. Everything was so unsure, so shaky. And here their closest friends were, standing by Harry despite no news whatsoever. And yet, Hermione had to remind Harry he wasn’t ALWAYS right, just nearly.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” said Ron in surprise at Harry and Hermione’s silent communication. “Bill told me that Professor Lupin is living with Tonks again. And apparently she’s getting pretty big too…”

Hermione marveled at the happy look glazing over his eyes. It almost looked like hope.

“…and our usual update on those friends of Harry Potter’s who are suffering for their allegiance?” Lee was saying.

And Hermione listened with bated breath as tales of Hagrid’s daring escape, Xeno Lovegood’s imprisonment, and more encouragement to keep supporting Harry rang throughout the quiet tent. Then, someone named Rodent was introduced, and no one could contain his or her excitement. They all cried out Fred’s name in unison.

“No — is it George?”

“It’s Fred, I think,” said Ron, leaning in closer, as whichever twin it was said:

“I’m not being ‘Rodent’, no way, I told you I wanted to be Rapier!”

“Oh, all right then. ‘Rapier’, could you please give us your take on the various stories we’ve been hearing about the Chief Death Eater?”

And so Fred went on with the latest news of fact and myth about Voldemort himself. The show was witty, informative, and the most comforting thing Hermione had experienced in ages. Lee’s voice was signing off.

“Listeners, that brings us to the end of another Potterwatch. We don’t know when it will be possible to broadcast again, but you can be sure we shall be back. Keep twiddling those dials. The next password will be ‘Mad-Eye.’ Keep each other safe. Keep faith. Good Night.”

Hermione felt deep, sweeping relief knowing everyone she loved was okay for another day. That is, until she and Harry got into it about the Elder Wand yet again. Then, every little bit of comfort faded away as Harry said his name. Voldemort.

“The name’s Taboo,” Ron bellowed, leaping to his feet as a loud crack sounded outside the tent.

Panic overtook her, and her senses numbed. She could only hear the beating of her own heart in that moment. There were angry voices, but she couldn’t tell what they were saying. One look at Ron said it all.

Ron grabbed her hand and she gathered the strength to curse Harry into disguise before they were ripped from the tent. She fought as hard as she could, but their strong hands were too much.

She heard Ron shout, and then she heard his face get hit hard. Her senses came back.

“No! Leave him alone! Leave him alone!”

“Your boyfriend’s going to have worse that that done to him if he’s on my list,” said the rough voice. “Delicious girl…What a treat…I do enjoy the softness of skin,” he whispered, running a hand down her face. He smelled of blood, a cold metallic smell that made her want to vomit. She cried out as Ron and Harry were pushed to the ground and the men went into the tent.

She felt herself press up against a tall figure, and heard a familiar voice whisper her name. Dean Thomas was standing with his back to hers. She didn’t have time to find her words, when she heard Harry identify himself as Dudley.

Ron tried to call himself Stan Shunpike, and Hermione’s stomach lurched as she heard another hit meet his face. He finally used Barny Weasley as his disguise.

Soon, the offending man was facing her again, asking for her name. Thinking fast, she answered the first name that came into her head.

“Penelope Clearwater,” said Hermione. She was terrified, but kept her voice firm. The buzzing in her head continued, until she felt Harry and Ron press up against either side of her. They could only sit, and lie, as the men searched their tent. Then, they found the sword. Hermione was faint with fear when she heard her name.

“’Ermione Granger,” Scabior was saying, “the Mudblood who is known to be traveling with ‘Arry Potter.”

Hermione’s mouth went dry. She grabbed for a hand behind her back. She had no idea whose she was holding, she just needed the strength to go on. He was talking to her again; she tried to answer the Death Eater.

“It isn’t! It isn’t me!” she cried, but her voice squeaked and gave her away. She hated herself for giving him away. Now they knew it was Harry, and the Death Eaters slowly put the pieces together.

Too soon, they had decided to take them to where Voldemort was headquartered.

I live here on my knees
As I try to make you see
That you’re everything I think I need
Here on the ground.
But you’re neither friend nor foe
Though I can’t seem to let you go.
The one thing that I still know
Is that you’re keeping me down

Hermione panicked when Draco Malfoy was forced to identify their faces, but he turned to shrug it off. She breathed easier, knowing Bellatrix would never summon Voldemort unless she knew for sure who they were holding.

The seconds seemed to pass like agonizing hours as they argued over their identity. Narcissa had picked them all out, and was convinced they had ‘Potter’, but Bellatrix had noticed their sword, and wouldn’t let anyone summon Voldemort yet. More infighting occurred before Bellatrix had overpowered them all and made up her mind.

Narcissa Malfoy had commanded them all be taken into the cellar, and Hermione was relieved to be leaving that room so that she could gather her thoughts.

“Wait,” said Bellatrix sharply. “All except…except for the Mudblood.”

“No!” shouted Ron. “You can have me, keep me!”

As Ron begged for them to keep him, she struggled to say no, to beg for his and Harry’s safety. But they were taken away, and all of those malevolent faces stared back at her. She tried to keep Ron’s eyes in her mind. He was close, and he was safe.

The pain ripped through her, and Hermione wished for death. She couldn’t go on through this pain. She was hoping she’d stop breathing, that she would choke on her own pain and die, ending this horrifying feeling.

Then, she heard Ron calling from somewhere far off. He was screaming desperately for her. Despite all that had transpired, Hermione knew beyond logic that they needed each other, and she had to be strong.

Set me free, leave me be.
I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.
Here I am and I stand so tall,
Just the way I’m supposed to be.
But you’re on to me and all over me.

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Before Rose’s Departure

rosesdeparture

mashup by Dunigan

It was a warm and sunny morning in early September. The sun peaked through the willow trees surrounded by a tall two story cottage that belonged to a witch and wizard who were notably famous for helping defeat Lord Voldemort. It was around 8 a.m., and a tall man with messy red hair was woken by the sound of things being scattered about, as if the person in the room next to his was looking for something important. The man yawned as he rose from his bed; standing beside the bed he smiled and chuckled, as if he knew the reason for the noise. Before he left the room he kissed his wife on the cheek as he watched her sleep. He walked into the hall and stood outside a door frame looking into a room that was bright yellow and had posters of his favorite Quidditch team, the Chudley Cannons hanging on the wall. He stared at the beloved person who had her back to him.

“What are you looking for?” he asked with a smile.

The little girl was the spitting image of her mother.

“I can’t find Hogwarts, A History anywhere, dad!”

“Don’t worry Rosie, we’ll find it.” Ron Weasley said with a smile on his face, thinking of his wife when she misplaces something and is in a panic.

As they continued to search for the book, Ron came across one under his daughter’s bed.

“Is this what you were looking for?”

Rose ran to her dad giving him a hug — more of a squeeze, really — and took the book.

“Thanks dad, I would have been lost without it!” Rose said.

She ran out of her room coming across her mother who was standing outside the room.

“Hi mum!” Rose said as she ran downstairs.

Ron gave another famous chuckle as he saw his wife enter the room.

“What was all that about?” she said, giving one last yawn.

Ron put his arms around his wife. “She lost Hogwarts, A History,” Ron said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and laughed, “Again? That girl likes to lose things,” Hermione said, as she gave her husband a morning kiss.

“Yeah, I wonder where she gets it?” Ron said with a smirk.

The two made their way out of their daughters’ room to check on their young son, Hugo, who was still in his bed, lying on his stomach, drooling on his pillow and snoring. The two laughed at each other quietly. “Sounds familiar,” Hermione said with a half smile. Ron looked at her and kissed her on the head. They headed downstairs and found Rose sitting at the kitchen table eating cereal and reading her book for Transfiguration. Hermione headed towards her daughter and Ron went to get himself some cereal.

“Rose, haven’t you read that one already?” Hermione asked as she sat down next to her.

Rose responded with a nod, since her mouth was full of cereal.

“You do know that you don’t have to read the books before you start school, don’t you Rosie?” Ron asked as he sat across from them.

“Yes but I believe it’s better to be prepared,” Rose said in the most Hermionish tone.

Rose set aside her Transfiguration book and took out Quidditch 101.

“That’s the book you should read before going off to school,” Ron said.

“It teaches you everything about Quidditch,” Rose said with excitement. “Once I make the Quidditch team, I’ll know everything.”

Ron was slightly amused and gave a proud smile as he saw Rose exit the kitchen and into the living room. Hermione was now giving Ron a glare.

“What?” Ron asked with his mouth full.

“How did you manage to get her all excited about Quidditch?” Hermione asked.

“My charm.”

Hermione laughed. “Yes Ronald, you charm does work wonders.” Hermione was now making her way upstairs to wake up Hugo. About an hour passed by and everyone was dressed and almost ready to head to King’s Cross. Ron went into the living room to check on Rose when he found her looking sad. He made his way to couch that she was sitting on and took a seat beside her.

“What’s the matter Rose”? Ron asked. “Enjoy yourself for a while yet, go outside play with your brother.”

Rose looked at her dad with tears in her eyes. “I’m scared dad,” she said while sniffling.

Ron put his arm around her. “What are you scared of?”

“Everything,” Rose said putting her arms tightly around Ron’s waist. “What if no one likes me, what if I don’t make any friends, what if I’m not smart enough….” She could have gone on and on.

“Rosie, everyone’s going to like you, you’ll make lots of friends, don’t forget, Albus will be there with you, you two are best friends already.” Ron held her head up so she could see him and said, “And you will always be smart enough, maybe the smartest in your class. Just like your mum.”

“That would be brilliant, wouldn’t it, dad?”

“Yeah, it would.”

Rose gave Ron a smile and a kiss on the cheek and ran outside to play with Hugo. Ron went to the window that overlooked their front yard to watch the two people he loved more than anything in the world play together before one of them set off to begin a new journey in their life. Hermione was making her way to the kitchen but found Ron instead.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a sweet tone.

“Just watching them play.” Ron said.

Hermione smiled and put her arms around his waist.

“I’m going to miss Rose. She’s our first born, Hermione, and she’s leaving us,” Ron said.

Hermione was resting her head on his shoulder. “I’m going to miss her too, Ron. But we both knew this day would come. She’s growing up. We have to be strong about this.”

Ron made his way across the room with his hands in his pockets. Hermione followed him; she knew he still had more to say, so she didn’t stay far behind. Ron sat by the wizard chess table. Ron was examining the chess pieces as he spoke.

“Remember how much her and I would play wizard chess?” he asked as he moved some chess pieces around.

“Almost every night, you taught her well,” Hermione said with a smile.

Ron laughed. “She beat me so many times. She beat me during our third game. Smart one she is. Thank goodness she’s inherited your brains.”

Hermione entangled her arms in his and sighed. “She may have inherited my brains, but Ron, she’s more like you than you know.” A smile was spread across Hermione’s face as she had just spoke. She loved to think that her children had Ron’s joyful and spirited personality, but also had a conscience like hers that told them when they were getting too carried away.

Less than a minute later they heard multiple footsteps coming from the kitchen. Hugo was in the doorway looking at his parents.

“Dad can you take Rosie and me on your broom before we go to King’s Cross?” Hugo asked with excitement.

Ron looked at Hermione asking for her approval. Hermione’s smile indicated that he should take them flying.

“Can we, dad?” Hugo eagerly asked again.

Ron smiled at his son.

“Yes! Rosie, dad’s going to let us fly!” Hugo yelled.

Rosie ran to her dad and gave him a hug and almost didn’t let go until he got his broom.

“Alright, Rosie I’ll take you first,” Ron said.

Rosie jumped with excitement and got on her dad’s broom. They were off.

Hermione was now outside standing beside her son, watching his facial expressions as he saw his dad and sister flying. Something Hugo always loved to do. As Hermione watched them to, she recollected the first time Ron had taken his baby girl flying. Hermione had tears in her eyes, as she realized her daughter was growing up.

Disclaimer: The characters of and situations of Harry Potter used in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner. We are just borrowing them. No copyright infringement is intended.

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