thanks to Helen H. for the helpful and constructive beta. Thanks also to
coquillage and magicaljules for multiple readings and generally tolerating me,
especially when I’m being a Prima Daisy.
Katinka, who wanted some Ron and Hermione.
was a mess.
aren’t the ones who have to clean this place,” Ron drawled sleepily. “Mum’s
going to go spare when she wakes up tomorrow and sees what it looks like now
that everyone has gone home.”
It was true, The
Burrow was a mess with spangled wrapping paper, empty champagne bottles
and torn golden streamers lying everywhere. Bill and Fleur’s wedding had gone
off without a hitch and the entire household was exhausted. Tomorrow, Harry,
Ron and Hermione were setting off for Godric’s Hollow; tonight, they relaxed
together in Ron's room.
Hermione said, with a smile in her voice.
Hermione! We worked like house--madmen to get this place ready for the
wedding, didn’t we, Harry?” Ron replied, with a wink at Harry.
“Yeah, Hermione. We spent the whole day at it. And you
should feel even sorrier for me than you should for Ron--It isn’t his
birthday,” Harry added.
“Please, at least you were together,” Hermione replied.
“I missed you both so much.”
Ron and Harry
had gone on to brave the Dursleys without Hermione, as she
had needed the time to say goodbye to her parents. It had been tedious waiting
for Harry’s seventeenth birthday and freedom, but they had brought Ron’s chess
set and so many Chocolate Frogs, Hermione would have been nauseated for them
had she known. Harry’s need to stay at the Dursleys’ until he came of age coupled
with Bill and Fleur’s anxiety to be wed meant
they would henceforth be celebrating both events on July 31st.
Hermione had only
joined them at the Burrow that afternoon and in the fuss of the day’s events,
they hadn't had time until now to tell her how Mrs. Weasley had taken the news
that the three of them wouldn't be returning to Hogwarts next year.
“She fussed a
bit, well, rather more than a bit. You know Mum,” Ron said. “Couldn’t expect
anything less. But not for very long, really, all things considered.”
“As she just
spent spent the whole morning of her eldest son's wedding teaching you spells
for cleaning clothes and packing up her stores of Insta-Cook and MeatPreserva,
it couldn’t have been that bad,” Hermione said practically.
missed the funny bit,” Ron told her and Harry, attempting to skirt the topic of
his mother’s anxiety. His astonishingly accurate imitation of Mrs. Weasley’s
distinctive tone did the trick in no time flat.
about Hermione? What do her parents have to say about all this? A young woman
of her age traveling about who knows where with not one, but two unattached
young men? It’s just not decent.”
Hermione was lying on Ron's bed, using his lap as a pillow while he twirled his
fingers through her hair, playing with the elegant curls, Mrs. Weasley’s
concerns were both further from and closer to the mark than she realized.
behavior had been purely decent. Since Hermione had arrived at The Burrow that
afternoon, Ron had not left her side. His affection for her had not taken the
same form as his very public attachment to Lavender Brown, but still, Ron had
not missed a chance all day to brush a hand down her arm or rest his arm across
that,” Harry started up from his seat at Ron's desk and headed for the door. “You’re going to have to get this thing settled, you
know.” He gestured inadequately at the two
of them, but the expression on his face was firm. “We have to stay
together now. I can’t stand it if you two stop talking to each other again,
because Ron looks too long at a pretty barmaid or some bloke pays Hermione a
compliment.” Harry’s determination not to undergo another year like last year was
clearly overriding his embarrassment. This would normally have made Ron feel
guilty if he hadn’t been so annoyed at Harry for ruining a perfect evening by mentioning
his weakness for pretty faces. And his jealousy over Hermione. What
was he on about? “I, erm, need you both. So, you know, settle things,
why don’t you?” he said gently, closing the door behind him. Oh, right.
That’s what he’s on about. Well.
things, huh,” Ron said quizzically, looking down at Hermione. “Hermione, it is
settled. Isn’t it? It is for me.”
She sat up slowly
and turned to face Ron, her head tilted to one side. “It is?” Hermione asked.
“You might have let me know,” she chided him gently. “You’ve never even kissed
never kissed me either, you know,” Ron replied. “Not properly, that is.”
“Ron, I’m not
going to just throw myself at you!” Hermione exclaimed, blushing a bit at the thought.
Lavender did.” Ron wagged his eyebrows at her.
forward, giggling. “Well, I’m just not going
to go first, so get that idea right out of your head.”
“Oho, you won’t do that, but you will attack me with
canaries? Lucky for me you can’t conjure vultures.”
talk about last year,” Hermione said quickly, shaking her head dismissively.
“Okay by me,” Ron said, relieved. “But I did tell you that I
love you, Hermione. That happened too.” His face felt hot and he began smoothing the faded bedspread, as though
getting all the wrinkles out was far more important than seeing her reaction.
Ron’s hands in hers, looking at them. “You did at that, didn’t you?”
mean, no one else…I mean…I love you, Hermione, I really do.”
He took one
of his hands out of hers and cupped it under her chin, raising her eyes to his.
scared?” he asked quietly.
“Terrified,” she answered. “It seems as though only a second ago I
was a swotty little bookworm with no friends and now I’m about to chase after
bits of Voldemort’s soul. It’s so unbelievable and horrifying.”
Hermione, I’m sorry. I wish things were different,” Ron breathed, wrapping his
long arms around her.
I’ll have the two bravest boys in Hogwarts with me,” she said into his chest.
I’m the tallest,” Ron added.
laughed weakly. “That you are.”
have the smartest witch in Hogwarts looking after us. What could go wrong?” he
answered in a muffled voice. “But Dumbledore would want us to go with Harry,”
she continued, looking up again, tears in her eyes.
I told Mum,” Ron said, gently laying his forehead against hers. “That’s why she
stopped fussing about the three of us going off and started fussing about us having
both silent for a moment.
“I feel so
scared. It’s just not possible without Dumbledore. You know it isn’t.”
Hermione was white-faced and whispering.
“Don’t say that,” Ron breathed. “Please, Hermione, don’t
ever say that.” He leaned in closer and gently, finally, determinedly kissed
It was a
promise stronger than any Unbreakable Vow, a joy powerful enough to conjure a
thousand Patroni, a passion more potent than any magic they had ever felt flow
through their veins.
“I love you,
Ron,” Hermione said. “I do, really.”
settled,” he said simply.
settled,” she replied, with a grateful sigh.
he said, grinning just a bit indecently, and pulling her back to lay along side
of him on the bed, “there’s no rule that say we can’t settle things just a
little bit more.”
later, Harry opened the door, intending to finish the last of his packing, but
quickly closed it again.
see that things were settled.