(This story was inspired by a drabble I did for the Sugarquill forums. The prompt was “plans”. I wrote a very short drabble in response and comments on that drabble prompted an idea for a back story. Many thanks to splash1 for being my pre-beta and J Forias for being my beta. Thank you for stepping in like this, you’ve been a lot of help.)
Love and Blue Roses
Hermione had already started breakfast when Ron meandered into the kitchen. Enticed by the smell of bacon and eggs frying, he made his way over to the stove where his wife was busily working.
“Morning,” he said, leaning down to kiss her neck.
“Morning,” she answered as she turned to kiss him back. “Breakfast will be ready in a minute.”
“Thank you,” he smiled, “but I keep telling you not to do this. I should really be taking care of you right now.”
“If I relied on you to make breakfast we’d be eating it at noon,” she teased. “I don’t mind, really. Besides, it’s not like cooking is heavy work, especially when I let my wand do everything.”
“Still,” he said, leaning casually against the counter. “I hate waking up and finding you in here doing this for me.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said, carrying their plates to the table. “Being pregnant does not mean I’m incapable of taking care of my husband or myself.”
“As you wish, dear,” he relented, kissed her again before taking his seat at her side. “Just try not to push yourself too hard.”
As they tucked in, Ron convinced himself that after breakfast, he’d coax Hermione back to bed and spend the whole day catering to her every need. However, before he could present her with the idea, they were interrupted by a tap at the window.
Ron sprang to his feet and opened the window before Hermione could even think about moving. Instantly recognizing the writing, he handed the newly delivered letter to his wife.
“It’s from your folks,” he said, tossing Pig a treat from a jar on the counter.
Hermione read briefly and then produced a second envelope from inside the first.
“What is it?” Ron asked, looking at the crisp white envelope.
“It’s an invitation,” she sputtered, “to my cousin’s wedding.”
“You have a cousin?” Ron joked.
“Yes,” Hermione laughed. “I have a cousin. Just the one, though. Cassandra, my mum’s sister’s only daughter.”
Ron nearly choked on a mouthful of eggs. “Your mum has a sister?” Mrs. Granger spoke often of family, but she had never mentioned this sister.
Hermione nodded. “Aunt Jillian, she and Mum are twins.”
Ron was flabbergasted. Not only did his mother-in-law have a sister, she had a twin!
“Your mum’s never mentioned her.” It sounded more like a question than a statement.
“They don’t get along,” Hermione said, studying the invitation. “When they were teenagers they fell in with different crowds. Mum was the brainy one and Aunt Jillian was the popular one. After school, Mum went on to dental school and met Dad. Aunt Jillian married into money and never took a career. The only thing they ever had in common after that was Cassandra and I. We were born four days apart.”
Hermione tossed the invitation down on the table. Ron quickly scooped it up.
“Hermione and guest,” he read aloud. “I suppose they wouldn’t know you got married, would they?”
“No,” she scoffed, “they know. Mum sent out announcements just after the wedding. She said we’d gotten married in a small ceremony.”
Ron chuckled as he remembered their wedding. It was anything but small.
“So,” he questioned, “are we going?”
“I don’t know,” she said, taking her discomfort out on the dirty dishes as she cleared the table. “I haven’t seen Cassandra since junior school.”
“Well,” Ron shrugged as he pulled her away from the sink and charmed the dishes to wash themselves. “It’s your decision. They’re your family after all.”
“I’ll think about it.” It was the best she could do for now.
“Fair enough,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “Now, let’s get you back in bed. I want you to relax today and let me take care of you.”
Hermione smiled, letting Ron guide her back to their room.
A few hours later, Hermione sat amongst a bed full of pillows with a copy of “The Magic of Motherhood: What Every Expecting Witch Should Know.”
“This is interesting,” she remarked to Ron, who was dutifully rubbing her feet. “According to this, a baby’s magic can spill over into the mother, causing the same kind of accidental magic that small children exhibit.”
“Maybe that would explain why all the flowers in the garden have sprung up over night and turned blue,” he laughed, “…even the roses.”
“What can I say,” she smiled. “I like blue. It reminds me of your eyes.”
Ron crawled up to lay beside her on the bed. “Well I suppose it’s a good thing,” he mused. “It means the baby’s got magic.”
“Was there any doubt?” she asked, snuggling up next to him. “With a pure blood Auror for a father...”
“…and the brightest Witch of her age for a mother,” added Ron.
They lay in silence for a moment, Ron’s hand caressing the exceedingly visible bump at Hermione’s midsection.
“Hmmm,” he answered, nearly drifting off in the peace of the moment.
“I was thinking,” she hesitated. “Maybe we should go to the wedding. I mean, they went to the trouble of sending out the invitation.”
“If you want to,” he said, kissing her forehead. “It’s your decision.”
“I’d like to go.”
“It’s settled then,” he confirmed. “We’ll go to your cousin’s wedding.”
“I have to admit, I’m rather excited about the idea of seeing a Muggle wedding.”
“Oh,” she said as if only realizing just now, “that’s right. We’ll have to go shopping at some point. You’ll need a suit and I’ll have to buy a dress.”
“Quite right,” he said, rubbing her belly. “I’m not sure any of your Muggle dresses will fit.”
“Well thanks,” she scoffed sarcastically.
“You know I didn’t mean it that way,” he rebutted. “I love your belly.” He shifted down, lightly kissing her round stomach.
“I know, I know,” she said. “Anyway, we’ll go shopping next week."
A week later, Hermione sat in a puffy armchair outside the men’s dressing room at Debenhams department store. The sales associate brought suits in various colors for Ron to try on. They’d already found a dress for Hermione in a maternity shop called “Mummies with Tummies”. It was a tea length halter dress in what the saleswoman called “powder blue.” The Debenhams saleswoman was using this dress as inspiration for her suit choices. In the end, with the help of the saleswoman, Ron had chosen his own suit. It consisted of a gray jacket and trousers with a bright blue shirt, a color that the salesman had called “azure”, and a yellowish-gold tie. Hermione was pleased with his choice. The blue of the shirt brought out his eyes beautifully, and though the suit went well with her dress, it wouldn’t be too obvious that they were trying to match.
Another two weeks passed and the couple flooed to the Leaky Cauldron where they hailed a taxi.
“Where to,” the driver prompted.
Ron looked at Hermione, who seemed to forget he knew nothing about navigating Muggle London.
“Oh,” she started, “Danesfield House Hotel please. That’s Henley Road, Marlow –”
“No need, Miss,” he interrupted, “I know the place.”
For the duration of the trip, Hermione fidgeted uncontrollably. Ron found some slight amusement in his wife’s state, but wisely decided it was better to try and ease her discomfort rather than laugh at it.
“Hermione,” he soothed, “take a breath.” He laughed as she did as he said. “It’s only a wedding.”
“I know,” she sighed. “I know. I’m being ridiculous. It’s just…” She rung her hands. “I haven’t seen them in ten years. Do you know how long ten years is?”
“Yeah,” he chuckled. “It’s exactly the amount of time I’ve known you.”
“Then you know how much I’ve changed in those ten years. This is going to be like meeting strangers.”
“Well then,” he said, taking her hand, “that’ll make two of us then.” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ll be fine.”
Just then the taxi came to a stop. “Danesfield House Hotel,” the driver announced.
“Thank you,” Ron said, taking charge this time. He paid the driver with the Muggle money they’d traded for at Gringotts, and then offered his hand to Hermione, helping her from the car.
She quickly began to smooth her dress and check to see that her hair was still tamed neatly in an elegant twist.
“Hermione,” Ron said, taking her hand. “You look beautiful. Let’s go in.”
Hermione nodded without speaking and allowed her husband to escort her through the courtyard to the entrance of the hotel.
“Names, please?” asked an usher as they reached the entrance to the hall.
“Hermione Weas…” She stopped herself. “I mean Hermione Granger and guest.”
The man scanned his list. “Ah yes,” he exclaimed. “Here we are. Hermione Granger and guest, family of the bride. You’ll be near the front then.” He waved another usher over. “Family of the bride,” he instructed.
“This way, please,” the second usher said, inviting them to follow him.
The hall was long and narrow. Chairs were placed in rows of four on either side of a long red carpet. As they neared the front, a familiar voice called out to them.
“Hermione, Ron,” Mrs. Granger called, “Over here.”
Ron greeted his mother-in-law with a kiss and hugged his father-in-law who was standing at her side.
“We were wondering if you’d make it,” Hugo said. “Weren’t sure what your travel arrangements were.”
“We came the usual way,” Hermione hinted, “then took a taxi the remainder.”
“Ah,” her father said, catching on. “Well, we saved you some seats in any case, knew you’d turn up sometime.”
Just as the couples were taking their seats, music signaled the start of the ceremony.
Ron watched his wife. Her nerves had not subsided, but she hid them well in the presence of her parents. Hermione tensed noticeably as the Bridal March announced her cousin’s entrance.
The bride wore a formfitting gown with a dip in the back all the way to her waist and a plunging neckline. It was a silky sort of fabric. She shined in a way that reminded Ron of Fleur in her wedding dress, but he assumed it had to do with the sparkly beads on the fabric. The dress, Ron thought, was a bit revealing. Something his mother would say: “It left little to the imagination”. Ron could not see her face, as it was obstructed by her long veil. Ron considered himself lucky that Hermione had not worn a veil. Her smile as she walked toward him had been the only thing keeping him calm.
Ron glanced at his wife. Hermione was sitting uncomfortably in her seat watching the proceedings. Her eyes studied the gown her cousin wore with a scrutiny Ron was not accustom to.
It was quite different from the dress Hermione had worn to their wedding. Hermione’s was just as formfitting, Ron remembered fondly, with the same haltered neckline as the dress she now wore and a much higher back.
"Beloved," the Vicar began, "love is from God and is God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows Him. By this the love of God is manifested in us, he sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
Ron thought the words were nice, but much preferred what the ministry wizard had said on the day he married Hermione. This man was focusing on love in itself, instead of the eternal bond of marriage and of the unification of souls that had been talked about at his wedding. Ron liked their way better.
The vows beyond that point were similar to the ones he’d heard before.
“Inasmuch as James and Cassandra have declared their love and devotion to each other before family and friends, I now greet them with you as husband and wife. Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be sanctuary to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no isolation for you. Now there is no more loneliness. Now you are two, but there is only one life in front of you.”
The Vicar joined the couple’s hands.
“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
When the ceremony was over the Vicar invited those present to join the couple in a second hall for the reception.
Ron smiled as he thought back to their own wedding. Magic really was the better way, he thought. It allowed the guests to stay put while the room shifted itself to the need of the moment.
The dining hall was more ornate than the ceremony hall had been. Small round tables peppered the room, each one adorned with a bright white table linen, fine china and an elegant floral centerpiece.
Ron, Hermione and her parents found their way to a table and sat down. Soon, waiters were buzzing around the room filling glasses and finalizing meal choices. As the waiter refilled Hermione’s water glass, someone announced the arrival of the bride and groom. Evelyn suggested that Hermione make her way to the head table to congratulate her cousin and introduce Ron.
Hermione was choking on her answer when the waiters arrived, this time with dinner. Hermione sighed at this distraction.
When dinner had ended, the band began to play and the guest started dancing.
“Hermione,” Ron said, seeing his wife fidget again. “Let’s dance.”
Hermione quickly accepted. Dancing meant not talking to her cousin.
Ron swayed her gently around the dance floor, noticing but not mentioning how different it was to dance with Hermione with her baby belly between them.
To his delight, Hermione was starting to enjoy herself. The smile on her face reminded him of the first time they’d danced together at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Suddenly her smile faded and before he could see, Ron heard the cause.
“Hermione,” a shrill voice exclaimed. “Oh my goodness!”
“Hello Cassandra,” Hermione smiled. Ron knew his wife well enough to know that this was one of her fake smiles. The ones reserved for people she tolerated politely, but whose company she did not particularly enjoy.
Ron turned to see the source of the voice. He nearly gasped as his eyes fell upon a woman who could almost pass as Hermione’s twin. Their faces were nearly identical, though Cassandra’s face was missing the random freckles Ron had memorized on Hermione’s. Cassandra’s hair, though the same color as Hermione’s and put up in a similar twist, was clearly sleek and straight. There were smaller differences as well, but these were too subtle for an untrained eye to identify.
Cassandra moved forward to capture Hermione in an awkward hug.
“I’m so glad you could make it,” she said. “I wasn’t sure you’d received the invite. We hadn’t a clue how to get in touch with you, so Mummy suggested just sending it to your parents.”
“They forwarded it on to me as soon as they received it,” Hermione said politely, clearly hoping the conversation would soon end.
“Good,” Cassandra said. “I hoped you’d make it. I haven’t seen you in, what’s it been now, ten years?” Hermione nodded, and she continued. “You sort of disappeared didn’t you?” Cassandra giggled. “Just didn’t show up back at school. Aunt Evelyn said you’d been accepted at a private academy for gifted students. Then we got no word after that, until a few years. Out of the blue an announcement comes and says you’ve gotten married. No invitation,” she teased, “only an announcement.”
“Well,” Hermione faltered, “it was a very small ceremony.”
Ron choked on a laugh.
“Is this him, then?”
“Oh yes,” Hermione said, remembering herself. “Cassandra, this is my husband Ron. Ron, meet my cousin Cassandra.”
Ron extended his hand to shake hers. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Congratulations on your marriage.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” she replied in a way that reminded Ron of all the girls at school that Hermione had disliked. “And this,” she said, gesturing to the impeccably polished man at her side, “is my husband James. Hermione, you’ll remember James from Junior School.”
“Yes,” Hermione smiled that fake smile again. “Nice to see you, James. Congratulations.”
James said nothing; he only shook Hermione’s hand then Ron’s.
“Isn’t it just a dream,” Cassandra remarked. Her high-pitched voice was really beginning to grate on Ron’s nerves. “I mean marrying my school sweet-heart. It’s every girl’s wish. How did you two meet, then?”
“School,” Hermione offered.
“At school. So you’re one of Hermione’s sort, eh?”
“One of Hermione’s sort?” Ron repeated.
“Yeah. One of those brainy types, going to a gifted school?”
Ron chuckled. “I guess you could say that.” You’d be wrong, he thought, but you could say it.
“So what do you do?” She looked to Hermione. “Didn’t become a dentist like your parents, did you?”
“No,” Hermione answered, obviously tired of this forced conversation. “Ron’s in-” she hesitated, thinking. “-Law enforcement and I do Ministry work.”
“Law enforcement,” Cassandra remarked. “That’s nice. James here is a Solicitor.”
Ron nodded, reminding himself to ask Hermione later what that meant.
“He’s just been made junior partner at his firm. He’s the youngest in the firm’s history.” Ron could tell from the look on her face that she was just getting started on her boasting. “He bought me this with his first bonus.”
She held out her left hand allowing the huge diamond on her fourth figure to catch the light. The diamond was enormous, more than three times the size of Hermione’s. The band was the same silver color, but by the way it shined Ron assumed it was the “platinum” type he’d liked but hadn’t been able to afford. He prayed Cassandra wouldn’t ask to see Hermione’s.
“And his second bonus was enough to get us a flat right near St. James Park. Where do you two live?”
“We have a house near Ron’s parents. We thought with the baby coming that it would be nice to be near family, and my parents are so busy with their practice.”
“A baby,” Cassandra squealed as if she’d just noticed Hermione’s belly. “Do you know what you’re having?”
“We wanted to be surprised,” Ron said, remembering the conversation with Hermione a month or so before about a muggle machine that could show you a picture of the baby.
“That’s nice,” she said, shifting the conversation back to herself. “James and I are going to wait a while before we think about children. James wants to be a senior partner first, so it’ll probably be another three or four years. So Rob-”
“It’s RON,” Hermione snapped.
Out of the corner of his eye Ron could see the white roses in the nearest centerpiece flush bright red then turn black before shriveling up. Luckily someone called Cassandra’s name from across the room. Ron took this chance to step closer to Hermione.
“Easy,” he whispered, putting his hand on her belly. “The baby’s getting upset.” He jerked his head in the direction of the centerpiece.
Hermione took a deep breath. “We really should get back to my parents,” she smiled calmly. “It was nice to see you again Cassandra. Congratulations again.”
As they got out of hearing range of the bride and groom, Hermione let out a huge sigh.
“You alright?” Ron asked, taking his wife’s hand.
“Yeah,” she said, interlacing her fingers with his. “It’s just my family, this part of my family I mean, makes me crazy.”
“I can see that,” he teased, “and it looks like they have the same effect on your mother.”
As they approached the table, they saw Evelyn glaring at her double. Ron could only assume this was Aunt Jillian and from what he could see, his mother-in-law was losing her composure more quickly than Hermione had.
“Ah Hermione,” Jillian said in a voice quite similar to her daughter’s. “Your mother was just filling me in on what’s been happening with you. Married and expecting, it’s all quite exciting. We’ve just been having a disagreement about your career once the baby comes.”
“What about my career?” Hermione questioned, her cheeks burning bright red.
“I was simply saying that it’s unnecessary for a woman in this day and age to carry on working once she has children, if she ever works at all.”
“And I,” Evelyn said, her expression matching Hermione’s, “was saying that it isn’t necessary, but it is your choice.”
“Mum is quite right,” Hermione said as calmly as she could. “I don’t have to work once I have this baby. I want to.”
“Hermione, dear,” Jillian coaxed, “don’t be ridiculous. Why on earth would you want to work?”
The crystal on the table started to vibrate as Hermione’s face grew redder.
“Are you alright, dear,” Ron asked catching her eye. “You look a little flushed.”
Hugo quickly caught his ruse and played along. “Oh yes, dear, you don’t look well at all. Maybe we should get you home.”
Hermione, never one to fall behind, played the part. “Well, I am feeling a little hot.”
“Probably all of the excitement of the day,” Evelyn said, feeling her daughter’s forehead with the back of her hand. “Perhaps this is just too much in your delicate condition, dear.”
“Perhaps,” Hermione agreed, playing it up as much as she could by allowing Ron to take her arm as if helping her stand.
“It was lovely seeing you, Jillian,” Evelyn said, “but we really must get Hermione home.”
“So,” Hugo said as they drove away. “Should I take you back to the Leaky Cauldron or would you like to stay with us tonight?”
“You don’t have to take us to the Cauldron,” Hermione said, sounding mostly back to normal. “We can floo from the house.”
“Why don’t you stay, dear,” Evelyn begged. “It would be lovely to have you over.”
“We haven’t packed anything,” Hermione apologized. “We’ll come to visit some other time. I’d just like to get home for now.”
Ron put his arm around his wife, saying nothing as she stared out the window.
“Won’t you stay for tea,” Evelyn pleaded once they’d reached the Granger’s home.
“Some other time,” Hermione declined. “I’m actually not feeling well. I think I should go home and lie down.”
“You go on upstairs,” Ron said, stopping in the kitchen. “I’ll be up in a minute.”
A few moments later, he entered the bedroom, carrying a cup of tea for Hermione.
“I thought you weren’t feeling well,” he said, finding her sitting by the window instead of in bed.
“I wasn’t,” she replied, gazing out the window. “It seems to have passed now.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, giving her the tea. “You don’t seem quite yourself.”
“I’m fine, really. The wedding just took more out of me than I thought it would.”
“It was a little taxing,” he replied sympathetically. “It’s so strange that you and your mum look so much like them and yet can be so different.”
“It’s always been like that. In school I use to say that Cassandra was the ‘me’ that I could never be.”
Ron’s expression saddened. He’d worried once or twice during the day that Hermione’s discomfort had been partly out of jealousy. Seeing the sort of life her family led made him realize the things he could never give her.
Hermione glanced at him, as if sensing she’d just said something wrong.
“Not that I ever wanted to be her,” she insisted. “She always annoyed me. She was so focused on money and status. Take James for example, you notice he never said a word. He was like that in school as well. Nothing interesting to say, but he came from money, so Cassandra fawned over him.”
Ron brightened a bit. “So you don’t wish it were different,” he asked. “You don’t wish you’d married a muggle Solicitor who could afford to buy you a fancy ring and a posh flat in London?”
“No,” she said, obviously shocked. “I’m very happy with my life. I love being married to an Auror who knew that I would love a sapphire ring the same color as his eyes and who saved up for the first three years of our marriage so we could have a beautiful house in Ottery St. Catchpole. I despise my family, aside from Mum and Dad,” she laughed. “I always have. You’re my family now.” She patted her belly. “The two of you are my family and I couldn’t think of anything better.”
“You mean that?”
“You know I do,” she insisted, rising up on her toes to kiss him.
“C’mon,” he said, gesturing toward the bed. “It’s been a long day. You should lie down and relax.”
Lying beside her, he caressed her stomach as she read him random facts from her book. As she went on about some potion a woman could take to keep up her strength later in pregnancy, Ron’s eyes drifted to a vase of roses sitting on the bedside table. They’d shone pale pink when he came up with the tea, but had begun to change right before his eyes. He looked down at Hermione as she continued to read, unaware of what she and the baby had just done. Snuggling closer, he realized he had nothing to worry about. He was in love with a woman who was happier lying here reading in his arms than she was in a posh London hotel. He was in love with a woman who loved him back. It was still hard to accept, even after all they’d been through, but Ron would eventually get used to a life of love and blue roses.