Everyone and everything belongs to JK Rowling except Seamus' "three women
laughing" remark, which belongs to Olivia Goldsmith, and the concept of a
Hogwarts graduation, which is purely mine.
One big thank you to Seldes Katne, my beta reader; to
Missy Hallan, for her invaluable input; and to everyone who clamored for a
follow-up to "Sisters." I honestly wasn't planning on doing one, but
here it is. Enjoy!
EVERYTHING BUT “I LOVE YOU”
“Oi! Out of the way,
“Yeah, let me
have a go!”
“You had the
mirror before he did, Thomas; it’s my
dear,” the Gryffindor seventh year boys’ dormitory mirror chimed in,
“shouldn’t you give your friends a turn?”
“Will the lot
of you just shut up?” Ron Weasley roared in frustration from his bed,
crumpling up his fifteenth piece of parchment and flinging it toward the nearly
full wastebasket at his feet. “I can’t hear myself think!”
“Give Harry a few more minutes,” Neville Longbottom ordered, but
there was a good-natured grin on his round face. “Let him enjoy his hair a bit
longer. Merlin knows when he’ll have it that way again.”
Harry Potter finally tore his gaze away from the sight of his perfectly
groomed hair when Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas sniggered. “I heard that.”
“Good,” Dean said, shouldering Harry aside so he could have a turn
with the mirror. “Your tie is askew, dear,” the mirror told him.
“I say, Harry,” Seamus told him, “your head looks funny without
your hair exploding all over the place.”
“My head feels funny,”
Harry admitted, patting his hair gingerly.
“Well, you did use up two
extra-large bottles of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion on it.”
“I did not. Ron used some of my Sleekeazy’s, too — didn’t you,
Ron?” Harry asked his best friend.
“Don’t talk to me,” the redheaded boy snapped, bending over a
fresh sheet of parchment. Unlike Harry’s hair, Ron’s stuck up in Sleekeazy-stiff
spikes from the many times he had run his fingers through it in desperate bids
“What’s he doing, anyway?” Neville asked Harry softly.
“He’s making a list of reasons why Hermione should marry him,” the
other boy replied, a trace of amusement in his voice.
“Really?” Dean asked. “So he’s going to do it tonight?”
Harry must have nodded, because a chorus of loud catcalls followed the
black boy’s question. Ron could feel his ears begin to burn, but he kept his
eyes fixed on the parchment before him. Concentrate,
Weasley, he ordered himself, reaching into the pocket of his graduation
robes to touch the ring he had put there. You
have one hour to finish this list! Now, Number One…
In one hour, all the seventh years were due in the Great Hall for
something called “graduation,” a ceremony especially for them, the first of
its kind in Hogwarts’ entire history. It was originally supposed to be a
celebration of Voldemort’s downfall, but Dumbledore suggested that it would be
nice to hold it every year and give the seventh years a send-off of sorts before
they officially left the school. Hermione Granger, Ron’s girlfriend, would be
giving a speech on behalf of the seventh year class; but other than that, no one
knew exactly what was planned.
At any rate, Ron’s entire family was downstairs to watch him and Harry
finish their final year at Hogwarts. After the ceremony, there would be the
end-of-term banquet and since Ron would then have to entertain eight Weasleys,
their wives/girlfriends and children, he would be too busy to work on his list.
Ron bit off a curse as Seamus bounced down next to him, jostling his arm
and making his quill swing wildly over the parchment. “How many have you got
so far?” the sandy-haired boy asked cheerfully.
“I haven’t got anything so
far,” Ron growled, glaring at his fellow Gryffindors. “No thanks to you
Dean flopped down on his other side. “What d’you need a list for,
“Well, you know Hermione,” he replied, “she’s a thinker. She
won’t fall for an ordinary flowery speech. Everything I say to her has to have
“But, Ron,” Harry pointed out, “you’re asking her to marry you,
not writing an essay for Professor Binns. Can’t you just say ‘I love you,
please marry me’ and have done with it?”
“No!” Ron insisted. “I need to give solid,
logical reasons why she has to marry me and I can’t come up with any with
you lot just sitting around, passing snarky remarks!”
Neville took one look at Ron’s slightly hysterical expression and rose
to the challenge. “Well,” he suggested, “since she loves learning, you can
tell her it’ll be a great learning experience. So she can witness a
traditional wizard wedding.” He looked uncertain. “Was that the sort of
thing you wanted?”
The redheaded boy brightened. “Yeah! She might buy that!”
“But that was the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard,” Dean said as
Ron began his list with Number One:
Learning experience — chance to witness traditional wizard wedding.
“At least I’m helping!” Neville retorted.
“Any more?” Ron asked eagerly, looking up from his parchment.
“What about you, Harry? Got any ideas?”
Harry shot his friend a pained look. It was plain that he thought
Ron’s search for “solid, logical reasons” was insane, but he was going to
help even if it killed him. “Well…you and Hermione are the best of
friends, aren’t you?” he ventured. “Tell her—tell her that a friendship
is the best foundation for a more permanent relationship!”
“You sure you’re not thinking of how you’re going to propose to Hermione, Harry?” Dean asked slyly.
The dark-haired boy shot him a withering look. “Of course not. I
knew that Ron and Hermione were meant to be even before either of them did!”
“Not really,” Seamus corrected. “Hermione knew it before either of
you did. ‘Ask me first next time,
not as a last resort’ and all that, remember?”
Ron groaned loudly. That was at the top of the list of the many things
he wanted to forget. “Let’s get back to the
list, shall we?”
“Gladly,” Harry said, glaring at Dean before turning to Ron. “Hey,
how about this: if you managed to survive Voldemort, you ought to be able to
survive being married.”
“Good one, Harry.” Number Two:
Friendship a solid foundation for relationship. “Mention
Voldemort,” Ron murmured, finishing with a flourish. The late and
unlamented Dark Lord’s name was just another word to him now. “Any more?”
“You’re forgetting one of the most important things: money,” Dean
pointed out. Ron’s hackles rose at the mention of money — the Weasleys’
being poor remained a bit of a sore point — but there was an earnest smile on
the black boy’s face. “It’ll be cheaper for you to live together, won’t
it? I mean, you’ll be undergoing Auror training, and Hermione will be…what
will she be doing?”
“She doesn’t know yet,” Ron told him.
“Hogwarts is trying to get her to take an apprenticeship here,”
Neville said. “If Dumbledore accepts the offer to become Minister of Magic,
McGonagall will replace him as Head and they’ll need someone to teach
Transfiguration.” Neville himself was taking an apprenticeship at Hogwarts. He
would be taking over Herbology when Professor Sprout retired.
“Well, besides that, she’s gotten offers from the Ministry and the Daily
Prophet, and she’s also thinking of studying some more or becoming an
Auror, like me and Harry.” Ron frowned. “What do I say when she tells me to
just share a flat with Harry, then?”
“I thought the answer is fairly obvious, my friend.” Seamus grinned.
“She’s a lot more fun to live
Ron blushed crimson as the other boys, including Harry and Neville,
laughed. “Oi, shut it, you gutter-minded gits.”
“It’s all very proper, Ron,” Dean soothed. “You’re proposing
marriage first, not just asking Hermione to shack up with you.”
The redheaded boy’s face burned even more at the mention of
“shacking up.” “That’s the most disgusting—“
“Just write it down already, will you?”
“Well, if she argues with me on this one, I’m telling her to go get
an explanation from you,” he grumbled as he wrote Number Three: More practical to live together.
“Why don’t you just say ‘I love you, please marry me’?” Harry
suggested again. “She can’t argue with that.”
Ron ignored that. “Next!”
“In-laws,” Seamus said cryptically.
“So what about in-laws?” Ron asked.
“Your parents love her, don’t they?”
“I can’t imagine Mr. and Mrs. Weasley not loving any child,” Harry said with a smile. Even though they already had
seven children and a growing brood of grandchildren, Ron’s parents were more
than willing to take in anyone who needed a family. Harry, who had only been a baby
when Voldemort had killed his parents, knew that better than anyone.
“Yeah, they even took in Malfoy
when his dad disowned him, remember?” Ron added, remembering the shock he had
felt at finding Draco Malfoy, the bane of his existence, sitting at the Weasleys’
kitchen table one morning during the summer after sixth year. (That shock,
however, did not compare to the one he had received upon finding out that the
unexpected guest was a closet fan of the Chudley Cannons.)
“That’s all very nice,” Seamus said impatiently, “but that
wasn’t what I meant. You know I’m half-and-half, right?” he asked.
“Well, Dad and Mam get on great, but Mam’s parents think she could have done
so much better than marry a Muggle.” The sandy-haired boy shrugged. “If your
parents approve of Hermione, then she won’t have any trouble with them when
they become her in-laws.”
“That makes sense,” Dean praised. “How do you get on with Hermione’s
“Oh, they just love him,”
Harry said. Ron bent over his list quickly, trying to ignore the ribbing from
his friends and the burning of his ears as he wrote Number Four: No trouble with in-laws.
They were still grinning when the redheaded boy looked up again.
“Anything else?” he asked.
Harry leaned over to peer at the list. “Number Five: you love her.”
“Will you shut up, Potter? I’m not using that one! Now come
on, just one more!”
Ron encouraged his classmates. “It’s less than an hour to
graduation!” he added when they all looked stumped. “My future is at stake
here! Why else she should marry me?”
“Because you love her and will make her happy!” Harry insisted.
“I already said I wasn’t—“
“Just tell her the Weasleys are a good-looking family,” Neville
broke in, sounding as if he had had enough, “and if she marries you, she’ll
have good-looking children. Lots of
good-looking children,” he added after a moment’s thought.
Dean clapped the round-faced boy on the shoulder. “Now that’s
a good one, Neville!”
Seamus grabbed the quill and scribbled Number Five: Ron is a sexy beast. “Right. Here’s your list.”
He threw the quill onto the bed and hauled Ron to his feet. “Let’s go.”
Ron scooped up the parchment before it fell to the floor. “Where are
“You’re going to ask Hermione to marry you, aren’t you?”
“B-but I wasn’t planning to ask her now!”
the redheaded boy sputtered as panic seized him. They made a short stop at the
mirror, where Dean smoothed down Ron’s hair, Harry fixed Ron’s
scarlet-and-gold house tie, and Neville beat the lint from Ron’s robes. “I
just needed to finish the list! I was planning to ask her after—“
“Well, you’ve got time before graduation starts,” Seamus told him
with an impish grin. “Might as well get it over with!”
“Don’t bloody touch me!” Ron roared as the sandy-haired boy
pinched his cheeks painfully.
“Just putting some color in your cheeks, mate; you’re as white as a
“Good luck, dear!” the mirror chirped as Ron was hustled out of the
The Gryffindor boys dragged him down the stairs and into the common
room, en route to the girls’ dormitory. “You do have the ring, don’t
you?” Seamus asked.
“I–I have it,” Ron replied, pulling it from the pocket of his
robes. It was a plain gold circlet, set with just one small ruby, and it had
been in his mother’s family for many generations. He wondered why they
hadn’t sold it off when times began to get difficult. Perhaps they just
couldn’t get rid of it.
“All right, now put it back in your pocket. You’ll look like a right
plonker if you propose without a ring. She might even refuse.”
“Don’t scare him,” a female voice said. Ron’s sister Ginny stood
in the common room with Colin Creevey, her fellow sixth year Gryffindor. There
was an amused look on her face. “Ron’s nervous enough as it is.”
“What are you doing here, Gin?” Ron asked as he shoved the ring (and
his hand) into his pocket. “Shouldn’t you be downstairs with Mum and Dad and
“I just wanted to see you before you came downstairs,” she replied.
“Hmph.” She wanted to see Harry,
more like, Ron thought dryly. He wasn’t jealous of the attention Harry was
getting from Ginny; rather, he was still having a bit of trouble adjusting to
the idea of his best friend and his sister being “friendlier than friendly.”
“Uh — how about a photo, fellows?” Colin Creevey asked, holding up
his ever-faithful camera. The thin, mousy-haired boy had hero-worshipped Harry
ever since his first day at Hogwarts.
“I don’t know, Colin,” Dean told him, cocking his head
meaningfully toward Ron. “Ron’s got something really important to do.”
“It’ll only take a minute,” Ginny coaxed. “Colin can make copies
for you so you can remember your graduation.”
Harry grinned at his fellow seventh years. “Come on,” he said.
“For once I won’t mind Colin taking my picture. It’ll be nice to have one
of all of us, won’t it?”
Ron snorted as he joined the others. His best friend could shake off the
Imperius Curse, but he was no match for Ginny and her Weasley charm. No one
could resist the Weasley charm for long, he thought smugly. Ron only hoped that
he could muster enough of it today to present a convincing argument and get a yes
Colin snapped the picture. Judging from the copy he later sent along,
everyone except Ron looked good. In the center of the group stood Neville, his
round face beaming. To his right, Seamus and Dean grinned cheekily and waved. At
the very left, Harry pushed up his glasses and smiled, happy to share the
spotlight with his friends. And between him and Neville stood Ron, who was
staring straight ahead with a dazed expression on his face.
Years later, Ron still cringed to think that he had looked like that
when the Gryffindor boys came upon Hermione with Lavender Brown and Parvati
Patil in the seventh year girls’ dormitory. The three of them were standing
together and giggling. “There’s nothing like the sight of three beautiful
women laughing,” Seamus said, announcing their presence.
Ordinarily, Ron would have thought the remark smarmy to the extreme, but
today, he couldn’t help but agree. Just like them, the girls were all dressed
up for graduation, and they had done all the things girls did to make themselves
Ron’s hand tightened around the ring in his pocket as he saw Hermione.
She wasn’t just pretty; she was beautiful.
Her bushy brown hair was pulled back neatly, but somehow she still looked like
the girl he fell in love with. She was flushed pink from laughing, and there was
a wonderful, genuinely happy smile on her face that made him melt inside.
“You look very nice, Hermione,” he heard Harry say, and Ron felt a
thump on his back. “Doesn’t Hermione look nice, Ron?” Harry asked him
Hermione turned that wonderful smile on Ron and for a while he was
unable to speak. It was as if he had swallowed a Ton-Tongue Toffee. Come
on, Weasley charm; work your magic for me now! “Oh—er—of course she
does,” he agreed. What kind of an answer is that?
“Very nice,” Ron added. Argh.
Good going, Weasley. Can’t you at least smile?
his great relief, Hermione didn’t get angry at his inability to compliment
her. Instead, she looked pleased. “Thank you,” she said, her gaze meeting
his and then skittering away. “You—you look very nice, too.”
you’re just saying that,” Harry joked. Everyone laughed. Hermione did, too;
and Ron supposed he should be laughing as well, but he was too busy staring.
Hermione’s eyes met his again.
Lavender said into the pause that followed, “I think I’ll go down to the
Great Hall and look for my family.”
looked at Lavender, startled. The blonde girl winked at him and Parvati sent him
a coy little smile. They knew!
idea,” Seamus said loudly. “I want to see how me Dad likes Hogwarts so
go with you,” Dean and Parvati chorused.
hell. Ron’s heart started to
pound. He fought to keep the panic from his face as his friends brushed past
you later,” Harry said. “Good luck, mate,” he added in a whisper before
clapping Ron’s shoulder and following Neville and the others down the stairs.
“Don’t forget the ring!”
How had Harry felt just before he
had engaged Voldemort in that final battle? Ron
wondered, watching numbly as Parvati said something to Hermione. Had his palms
been sweaty? His legs shaky? Did he have Blast-Ended Skrewts roiling around in
Parvati brushed past him, leaving him all alone with Hermione. She stood still
further inside the dormitory, watching him warily. To Ron’s surprise,
nervousness flickered across her face.
is it. Ron gripped the ring for
dear life. Make it good! “Hermione,
I—“ he began in a dry croak. Blushing, he cleared his throat and fought to
get past the tightness in his chest. “I have something to discuss with you.”
better, Weasley. You sound like Percy, but this is a solid, logical proposal
anyway, so that’s all right.
is it, Ron?” Hermione asked softly.
fumbled in his other pocket for his list, but his hand was trembling too hard to
do anything other than drop it. No! he
thought wildly as she crossed the room, clearly intending to retrieve the bit of
parchment, but Ron was unable to move or speak. This was worse than his first
Quidditch match against Slytherin back in fifth year.
bent down and picked up his list, her robes swishing as she did so. A cloud of
her lily-of-the-valley perfume drifted up to him and Ron breathed it in, trying
to draw courage from the familiar, beloved scent.
next thing he knew, Hermione was reading the list. He exhaled on a strangled
wheeze, then forgot to breathe again as he watched her skim over the list with
the practiced eye of the avid reader. “What’s this?” she asked after a
His fingers tightened even more around his ring. “A–a list.”
“What kind of a list?”
Percy. Remember Percy. Rational. Logical. Ron drew himself up to his full (and considerable) height and raised his
chin, assuming what he hoped was a calm, rational expression. “It’s a list
of inarguable—irrefutable—absolutely right
reasons why you…why you should marry me.”
“Oh.” There was a strange sparkle in her eyes. Was she laughing at
him? “I see.”
He waited for her to say something after that, but when she didn’t, he
felt he had to speak. “Hermione?”
“I…” He groped for the beginning of the perfect speech he had
hoped to give, but then realized that he had never gotten around to preparing
it. Ruddy Seamus had hustled him out of the dormitory the minute they had
finished his list.
Only one coherent thought remained in his mind. It rang clear and true,
like a phoenix’s song, over the pounding of his heart. But it was the one
thing he had vowed not to use in his proposal. Damn
you, Harry! If you hadn’t been so bloody persistent—
“What is it, Ron?” Hermione asked. She sounded…did she sound
to Hades with it!
“Hermione, I love you. Will you marry me?”
Ron’s heart seized up as she stiffened. With growing trepidation, he
watched her look back down at the list in her hand. Hadn’t she been expecting
that he would ask her to marry him?
What was she going to do now? Laugh at him? Slap him? Present her own
list of logical reasons why she should not
marry him, beginning with the fact that she was already engaged to the
Beetle-Browed Bulgarian Git Who Must Not Be Named?
you please just say no already?
he thought wildly as Hermione finally raised her eyes to meet his.
Her eyes were bright and her lips curled in a shaky sort of smile. She
looked like she was just as nervous to speak as he had been.
“Yes, Ron, I’ll marry you.”
He was so startled that he dropped the ring.
off the floor, did a loop-the-loop around his head and jumped
promptly back into his hand, snuggling tight around his index finger to
keep from being dropped again. “You will?”
“Yes.” A laugh burst out of her and Hermione smiled at him, a
genuinely joyful smile that told him that she truly meant it. She really did
want to marry him. Everything was going to be all right.
But Ron, being Ron, just couldn’t leave well enough alone. “But
why?” he asked as she crossed the room to put her arms around him.
She was flushed and beaming, but at the same time a tear had slipped
from her eye. He cupped her cheek in one hand and wiped it away, his thumb
drawing small circles over her soft skin.
“Because it would be a great learning experience,” Hermione replied.
Her beautiful brown eyes glittered and another teardrop emerged. “You are one
of my very best friends as well as the man I love. It would certainly be cheaper
to get one flat instead of two. I love your family and mine loves you. You are a
damned sexy beast. And you just said
you love me.” She giggled and drew him closer. “It would be absolutely
irrational of me to let you get away.”