Ron fought the urge to start pacing by going over to sit
next to Remus, who smiled at him with a rather knowing and confiding look.
Ron gave him an exasperated grin and small shake of the head in return,
knowing that Remus, more than anyone else, sympathised with what he was
feeling right now. Hermione is very like Katie; Remus explained when
I got married that it’s an art form learning to balance a life with such
a clever and strong partner. He was right; I didn’t think that anything
would change when we got married, and that I already had a handle on my
relationship with Hermione after nine years. ‘Wrong’ seems too pathetic
a word even for that revelation. When you’re married and living together,
storming off to sulk is not an option.
Ron nodded his head in Malcolm’s direction, the boy now
up and moving again as he chatted with Houghton Adams. His energy level
seems to have gone up threefold in the past year…. Is that to be expected?
"Congratulations. Hope your study has recovered."
Remus laughed heartily and glanced over at Malcolm with
an adoring look before winking at Ron.
"All’s well. Malcolm is just bursting now, and wants
to try all sorts of things. We’ve had to come down rather firmly on him,
of course, but now we spend an hour every day doing very simple things,
so he’s managing to contain himself. Mostly."
"Remember when you first started doing magic, Ron?
Didn’t you want to see what you could really do every minute of every
Ron thought about that, and then gave a small laugh. "Actually,
I did. But I needed to for defensive purposes. Mum and dad kept Fred and
George off me while I wasn’t able to any magic to ‘fight back’, but once
I could, well, you can imagine."
Remus laughed again. "Good point. Hadn’t thought
of that. Being an only child, I never had that particular issue to contend
with. But thanks for pointing it out. Malcolm hasn’t got round to teasing
his sisters just yet, but it’s only a matter of time. We’ll have to make
it clear that it’s not on to use an unfair advantage."
"I’ll coach Roarke and Annie when the time comes."
"Thank you. But don’t let Katie catch you doing it,"
Ron shook his head emphatically. "No. And don’t rat
me out to Hermione."
Remus gave him a softer look now. "Excited?"
"Yes. And terrified."
"You’ll do wonderfully. I see how you are with Malcolm.
You’re a natural."
"Thank you. Means a lot coming from another ‘natural’."
"You think? I never considered myself one; I never
expected to have a child, so I never really thought about it."
"You were such a good teacher, Remus…."
Remus shook his head, but he still smiled. "That’s
a different thing altogether. Teaching is ‘temporary’. Being a parent
is all day, everyday. And it has much different responsibilities. You
just wait. You thought your life changed drastically when you got married?
That was nothing. Hermione is your equal, and you’ve entered into a partnership
with her. Your son or daughter is a drastically different relationship,
and your life will change profoundly for it. But it’s worth every second,
if I might say so."
"And every destroyed room?"
"And every single destroyed room. But try not to
laugh when you should be furious, as it undermines your position….Malcolm!
Do come here!"
Ron looked back over at Malcolm who seemed to be engaged
in doing something with one of the programmes while Adams watched him
with an indulging smile. He stopped instantly at the sound of Remus’ voice,
gave a rather guilty small smile, and handed the programme back to Adams
before dutifully coming over to take his father’s outstretched hand.
"He’s showing he can flip the pages over without
touching the book," muttered Remus under his breath before Malcolm
reached him. "He knows I don’t want him doing anything unsupervised
and certainly not out in public. No real control just yet and who knows
what he might do, however innocently?"
Ron shook his head and again felt a small tinge of panic
at the thought of what it was going to be like once he reached this point.
If keeping a constant eye on Malcolm is an issue, imagine what it must
be like with a more…rambunctious child. I think I’ll have a long talk
with dad…no, better talk with mum about it.
Malcolm climbed up onto Remus’ lap and Remus wrapped his
arms around Malcolm rather firmly.
"Alright. I know you’re excited, Malcolm, but please
when I ask you not to do something, don’t do it. And the same rule applies
for when mummy says not to do something. We’re not trying to be unfair,
we’re just keeping you safe, understand?"
"Good. I love you."
"I love you, too."
Ron smiled and his panic receded somewhat. He leaned back
to glance past Remus at Hermione, who seemed to have caught the exchange
between Remus and Malcolm as well, and when she saw Ron looking at her,
gave him her own radiant smile. Oh, I love that look. Same smile I
first saw when I asked her to marry me. Eventually….
Voldemort was dead. It was almost too much to believe
at first. It took several weeks after that final terrible night for it
to really sink in. But after the evidence of the battle had been repaired,
after the Ministry had been rebuilt and the government fully functional
again, and after the lost were mourned, the fear had dissipated at last
and joyfulness returned to their lives.
Harry had arrived at the Burrow one day shortly after
breakfast smiling. Ron looked at him closely and realized he hadn’t seen
Harry smile like this in a long time. He was fully recovered physically
from what had happened, they all had, but he had been emotionally dark
and withdrawn still. Of course, the fact that they had lost Pettigrew
that night wasn’t helping in the slightest. Harry hadn’t bounced back
like he usually did after that, and Ron was starting to worry about him.
Now he looked more like his old self.
"Ron. What are you doing today?"
"Well, as I start full-time with the Cannons on Monday,"
he paused while they grinned at each other, "I thought I’d use this
last day of unemployed freedom to take Hermione on a picnic."
Harry gave him a rather dubious look.
"Ron, it’s practically December; you’ll freeze. Not
very romantic to be sneezing and sniffling at each other, is it?"
"Harry, I think I can handle a few heating spells.
Sure it’s chilly, but it’s still clear."
Harry glanced out the window.
"Don’t know, Ron, looks a little dodgy…."
"Oh shut up, Harry. I know what I’m doing."
Harry laughed and sat down across from him at the table.
"Hmm. Sounds like you’re concentrating more on just getting away
somewhere private with Hermione."
"And if I am?"
"Enjoy yourselves. Any particular reason for the
Ron scowled at him. "Careful…."
"Oh for goodness sake, Ron. You dithered about for
ages before finally admitting you were in love with her, why dither now?
You two are a sure thing. Just ask her…."
"Stop right there. We’ve had this conversation. Yes,
I’ve given it real thought. Yes, of course…. Of course I want to marry
her. But let me choose the right time to ask. We’ve all just been through
so much; we need time."
"For what?" asked Harry, now looking a little
angry. "Why waste anything you’ve got? Who knows how much time any
of us have?"
Ron said nothing and just looked at him. Harry sighed
and put his head in his hands for a moment before looking back up with
an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, mate. Look, I didn’t mean for that to sound
harsh. I meant well, it just came out wrong. Marry Hermione. Do it sooner
rather than later. It means so much to me that you have each other… stop;
that came out wrong too. You two are my best friends, and I am thrilled
for you. And I can’t wait to see you get married. Why wait? There’s no
point to waiting."
Ron nodded and reached for the picnic basket he’d packed
"Harry, I promise. Sooner rather than later. I just
want…I want the perfect moment to ask."
Harry smiled, and then looked back out the window.
"Better get a move on before it rains, then, or no
chance for a perfect moment today."
"It is not going to rain and I have no intentions
of asking today. I’ll ask when I’m ready. When we’re ready."
"Fine. Have fun."
Ron and Hermione had had almost a perfect day, but it
did start to cloud up in the afternoon, so they packed up and started
walking back to the Burrow. They were about half way there, strolling
down a small tree-lined road in contented silence, when the skies opened
There was no quiet drizzle to warn them. One moment it
was chilly but clear, the next they were soaked to the skin as rain pelted
them. Startled, they dashed under one of the large trees and stood close
to the trunk, looking out at the rain with slightly stunned expressions.
Finally Hermione gave a small laugh.
"What’s so funny?"
"Not sure. That was a little sudden, that’s all."
"Harry said it would rain, and I told him not to
be so pessimistic. I’ll hear about this, I promise you."
Hermione giggled and hugged him.
"It’s just a little rain…."
"Little rain? Look at this! The road is already
Indeed, puddles had already started to form on the pavement
and along the edge of the road. The ground was already wet and waterlogged
from showers earlier that week, and parts of the roadside threatened to
turn into small ponds rather quickly.
"Come on, we’ll just Apparate back the rest of the
way," said Ron, pulling one arm away from Hermione to reach for his
wand. But she stopped him and shook her head.
"It’s not that far. We’re already wet, so let’s just
finish our walk. I want you all to myself."
Ron kissed her for a few moments, then pulled back to
look at her. "While I’m thrilled to the bone at that statement, I’m
also getting soaked to the bone, as are you. We really should…."
Hermione shook her head and pulled back and walked out
onto the road again, opening her arms and turning her face up to the rain,
her eyes closed. Ron watched her, captivated at seeing the water run over
her face, and across her still smiling lips. After a while she lowered
her arms and turned back to face him with a smile.
"Come on! This is wonderful!"
"Hermione, it’s getting worse!"
"Ron, we so very nearly lost everything. It’s made
me appreciate the really simple things all that much more. Something as
simple as taking a walk in the rain through the countryside. Right now,
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than that."
At that, Ron came over to join her, having nothing else
to say. He took her hand and watched her for a few moments, then started
"Who would ever have thought; bossy little Granger,
closet romantic, wanting to be one with the rain."
She laughed too. "Bossy little Granger would have
been outranged at the idea. Grown up, wiser Granger knows a thing or two
and can think of nothing more romantic than strolling though a storm with
her rather handsome and quite wonderful boyfriend." This made them
both laugh harder.
They stood there in the downpour, shaking with laughter.
Finally Hermione grabbed at her soaked hair and pulled it back from her
face, fastening it quickly with a small band as she caught Ron’s eye and
gave him a radiant, but rather mischievous smile. Ron felt his breath
catch at the sight, and returned her smile with a questioning look.
"You know what I loved to do when I was little?"
Hermione guffawed at him and gave a little jump. "I
didn’t spend all my time reading, Ron. I also really loved to do
At that she jumped up and came down as heavily as she
could in the rather large puddle at his feet, soaking him further and
adding mud to the mix. Giving a shout he jumped back, but she followed
him, still jumping through the water as hard as she could, laughing again.
Right, two can play at this game….
Ron launched a counter attack, drawing a shriek from Hermione
who did retreat a bit, but kept up her vigorous sloshing. They must have
been yelling and leaping about for several minutes before they finally
reached the edge of the road, and Ron’s left foot sank heavily into the
mud there as he misjudged a jump.
"Hold it! Hold it! I’m stuck!"
Hermione did stop leaping about and came over to offer
him an arm to hold to steady himself as he pulled his foot free. It came
away from the mud with a ‘shulck’ noise they could hear even over
the sound of the rain pounding on the tress and the pavement, making them
both dissolve into giggles again.
Ron kept hold of Hermione’s shoulder for balance as he
held his foot up to inspect the damage and tried to sound indignant as
he said, "look at what you’ve gone and made me do, woman!"
She would have none of it, but did lean in closer to give
him a very gentle kiss on the lips.
"Sorry," she whispered.
Ron stopped laughing and just gazed at her face. She had
changed so much from the bossy little girl he’d met all those years ago.
Hermione would never be considered a ‘classic beauty’, but she was breathtaking
in her own simple, no-nonsense fashion. And she looked stunning to him
even standing here, wet to the bone, hair a wild mess from the wet and
the leaping about. Ron looked at her intently, watching her warm brown
eyes and the slight smile on her face. She said nothing else, but seemed
content just to stand here with him in this ridiculous rainstorm.
Harry’s right…this is forever. So why wait? Time isn’t
to be wasted; we won, but who knows when the next lunatic will rise up?
I want this. I want her. I want that life, and I’m not going to
waste one more second….
"Hermione," he said softly, lowering his leg
back to the ground so he could turn to face her and grasp her lightly
by the arms.
"I…well, I was going to do this properly one day.
But, well, I guess I forgot something in all my scheming. I was thinking
so much about how to do this, I forgot why I wanted to…." He trailed
off a bit as she shook her head slightly.
"What? You’re not making any sense, Ron."
"Well, that’s to be expected," he said with
a faint laugh, then smiled at her. "I’ll try again. Marry me."
Hermione’s face took on a very unfamiliar look of shock
and total surprise. Ron panicked for a moment, and rushed on.
"I’d wanted to do this the right way, you know? Flowers,
dinner…maybe when we were a little older…." He grinned, now
feeling a determined calm come over him. "But what I was trying to
say, rather poorly just now, was that I was wasting time trying to think
of something ‘perfect’ that others thought up. This is all about
you and me. I love you. And right now, this just seems…a perfect time
for us. Does that make sense?"
She nodded mutely, but still said nothing. Ron waited
a few moments, watching her and just waiting to see what she’d say. The
rain continued to pour over them, and the sky had started to get darker,
but he felt, probably for the first time in his life, completely calm.
Eventully she gave him a very shaky smile.
"It is perfect," she whispered.
He nodded. "This is forever, Hermione. I know that.
I’ve known it for a long time, despite my original reticence and rather
pig-headed determination to admit it."
"Well, I could have…."
Ron put a finger to her lips. "No, I didn’t make
it easy for either of us, it wasn’t you. I wasted some of our time, but
I don’t want to waste another second."
Hermione flung her arms around his shoulders and buried
her face against his neck.
"Forever," he felt her whisper against his neck.
"Is that a yes?"
"I love you, Ron," she said, pulling back and
finally giving him a huge, happy and very solid smile.
Ron just nodded, now feeling tears in his eyes. Forever.