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Chapter 37: Meet The Grangers
Ron was in an extremely cheerful mood. Not that he wasn't always in a cheerful mood these days, no, he was. But today he was extra over cheerful. This was for a few reasons that Ron considered so solid he didn't doubt that anyone wouldn't want to trade places with him that day. One, he was in the ministry cafeteria. Granted, the food was better at Hogwarts, but here it was still pretty damn good. Two, he had just finished all of his paperwork from his last mission, and that meant no writing for another few weeks. Third, and most important of all, he would be going on a picnic with Hermione the next day. They were going to the forest of dean, a nice, secluded area, and Hermione was going to make BLTs and fudge brownies.
Damn, he loved his life. Ron skipped through the lunch line and piled food mile high on his tray. Everything seemed pretty delicious, so he sat down and started to eat. Harry looked disgusted, but didn't say anything as his friend pigged out in front of him.
“So... ow was er dwa?”
“Excuse me?” Harry asked, starting to turn green. Ron swallowed.
“How was you're day?” he asked. “So far, I mean.”
“Oh.” Harry said, nodding. “Yeah. It was fine, I guess.”
Harry was rather grumpy of late, because he wasn't allowed to go on any assignments, order of Ginny. And everyone knew that if you defied Ginny, there was going to be hell to pay. Even Harry's co-workers were sympathetic. Although not, they said, about the actual fact that he was married to the girl.
“The temper sucks.” Seamus Finnegan had said. “But I would pay good money to shag her.”
Luckily for Seamus, Harry had not been there during this announcement. Unluckily for Seamus, Ron had. Needless to say, he was still in St. Mungo's.
“Still miffed about the assignment thing?” Ron asked unnecessarily. “Don't worry, mate. You'll be back soon.”
The sentence would have been undeniably reassuring, except for the fact that Ron had just taken a bite of a large chicken wrap and had little bits of lettuce sticking out of the corners of his mouth. Harry groaned and banged his head on the table.
“Gentlemen.” a brisk voice said. Harry and Ron looked up to see their boss, Robert, standing over them. Ron swallowed quickly.
“We've found Lestrange. He's hiding in a non-magical community in Scotland. We need as big a team as possible to go, so you both are on.”
“What's the danger level, sir?” Harry wanted to know.
“Eight-point-two. And we leave tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Ron asked, jumping up from his seat, while Harry sat there, looking ecstatic. “I sort of had plans, sir.”
“Well then I'd suggest you cancel them, Mr. Weasley.”
“Right away, sir.” Ron said, already looking downcast.
“Good day to you both.” Robert said, walking away. Ron groaned and sat down.
“Hermione's going to kill me.” he said matter of factly.
“No, she won't... wait, why would she kill you?” Harry said. Ron ignored him.
“I'd better go tell her. Face it head on.” Ron said seriously.
Ron seemed to become aware of Harry's preasence.
“We were going to... er... divide that Nancy and Cam stuff tomorrow. So that when one of us was about to have a baby we wouldn't actually have to talk to each other.”
“Oh. Well, in any case... facing a problem head on. Looks like ickle Ronnikins finally grew up.” Harry said mockingly.
“You know, you say that often,” Ron mused, “But seeing as you keep saying it again and again, it either means that I grew up a while ago and you haven't gotten used to it, or I'm not grown up quite yet.”
“How very philosophical of you.” Harry grinned. Ron sighed as he dumped his food into a trash can and walking over to the lift. It lurched up, and Ron tweedled his thumbs together as he thought of what he was going to say to Hermione. Finally, he landed at Magical Law Enforcement and went right to Hermione's office. She was talking to some person Ron didn't know in the fireplace, but when he walked in Hermione immediately turned around.
“Hi, Ron.” Hermione said, smiling up at him. “This is Betty. Or, Elizabeth, really, but everyone calls her Betty.”
“Ah... so this is young Weasley.” The face in the fireplace said. “I went to school with your mum, you know.”
“Oh.” Ron said, feeling slightly as if he was being ganged up on. He didn't know why, but he felt as though Betty was giving him a very familiar look. One that said 'Get on with it.' Ron gulped. Hermione, noticing this, and also noticing Betty's face, stood up to say goodbye.
“I think I should go, Betty.” Hermione said gently.
“Can I have a word with the lad first?” Betty asked. Hermione glanced at Ron, then shrugged.
“It's up to him.” she said, biting her lip. Ron slowly inched forward.
“Listen, my boy,” Betty urged in quiet voice. “You either get the courage to propose, or knock her up so you'll have no choice but to do that anyway.”
Ron turned a fantastic shade of maroon. Hermione noticing this, said, 'Betty!' in a very loud voice.
“What?” Betty asked innocently. “I didn't do anything!”
“But- you- ah!” Ron spluttered. Hermione immediately extinguished the fire.
“What did she say to you?” Hermione asked, looking half amused, half taken aback.
“She... good merlin. How do you know this woman?” Ron asked furiously.
“Like she said, she and your mum are good friends.” Hermione said, going to sit on her desk. She motioned for Ron to sit on the couch, but he squirmed uncomfortably and stayed standing.
“Yeah, but how do you know her?” Ron prodded.
“Oh. Well, she made my... I mean- er- Ginny's wedding dress.”
Hermione's slip had not gone unnoticed.
“Your wedding dress?” Ron asked, turning pale, a grand contrast to his earlier state of red.
“Er- well... yes.” Hermione said, avoiding Ron's eyes. “Well, she just drew it. But, you know, if I ever might need it, you know, she made one. A beautiful one.” Hermione added looking up. There was a sudden and new sparkle in her eyes. Ron felt the immense need to sit down. “She's always been very supportive of, you know... us, and so I was calling to tell her that we were together.”
“Come to think of it,” Ron mumbled, “Maybe it's not such a terrible plan.”
“What plan?” Hermione asked curiously, and Ron immediately shook his head.
“It's not happening.” Ron said firmly. “And I didn't come here to have someone tell me to knock you up, I have news, and-”
“She did what?” Hermione asked, turning bright pink.
“It's nothing.” Ron rubbed the back of his head. “It's not like we've ever... you know... anyway.”
“So you have news?” Hermione asked brightly, seeming suddenly determined to get off of that subject.
“Oh. Yeah. I can't go to the picnic with you tomorrow. I'm going on a mission.”
From the look on Hermione's face, Ron could tell she was wishing they could start talking about sex again.
“Oh.” She said, “Danger level?”
Ron's stomach clenched.
“Oh.” Hermione looked faint. “That's one of the high-”
“Yeah, highest I've ever been on. I know.” Ron said. “Apparently Lestrange has all these defenses set up around him.”
“Don't go.” Hermione pleaded. “Please.”
“I can't, Hermione. I can't do that to my office. You know that. You understand. You work harder then anyone I know.”
“Ron, I don't think I'll be able to stand it. I'm going to be worried sick, and-” her eyes were suddenly bright. “Take me with you! They'll let me go, Kingsley said that I could come with the aurors any time I wanted, as long as I promised to do strategy instead of battling, and-”
Hermione eagerly walked over to her boyfriend and sat down on the couch next to him. She put her hand on his arm.
“Please, Ron, I-”
He wasn't looking at her. Hermione grabbed Ron's chin and turned it toward her so he was forced to face her.
“Ron, I can't just sit home and wait while you go on a dangerous mission. Eight-point-two.”
“I love you,” Ron said quietly, “But if you're going to be with me then you have to accept that I'm going to be doing dangerous things from time to time.”
He kissed her softly, trying to calm her. Hermione tried to kiss him harder, but he pushed her off of him and stood up.
“Not right now, Mione.”
She looked up at him, her eyes hurt and confused. She hid her head in her hands.
“You could get killed. And you want me to do nothing about it.”
“I swear I won't get killed.” Ron said, his voice begging her to forgive him. “There's no reason why I should.”
“The danger level is-”
“But that doesn't mean I have to die!” Ron snapped. “Do you have any faith in me?”
“Of course I do!” Hermione cried. “But-”
“No buts! It'll be fine. Harry's going, too. You can hang out with Ginny. And I'll come over tonight so you can say goodbye.”
“You can't, I'm going to have dinner with my...”
Suddenly, a crafty look came over Hermione's face.
“Not, me, rather, but we.”
“We what?” Ron asked, his brow furrowing.
“We are having dinner with my parents.”
“No way. Over my dead body.” Ron announced, turning pale.
“Sorry. You go on a dangerous mission, this is what I'm forcing you to do. It's your punishment.”
“Ginny gives Harry much better punishments.” Ron hinted. “Go talk to her about them... I really think they work.”
Hermione glanced up at Ron distastefully.
“Yes, I know exactly what kinds of punishments Ginny gives Harry.” she told Ron.“It's not happening.”
“Ever?” Ron whined.
“Well... maybe sometime. But not right now.”
This seemed to make Ron very happy, as those things usually do. Ignoring his silly grin, Hermione walked calmly over to her desk, sat down, and pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I'm very excited for dinner tonight! I can't wait to see you both when I'm not extremely depressed. I wanted to tell you, though, that there's going to be an addition to the table tonight. Ron is coming to eat with us. He's very excited to meet you both, and I daresay you both with be thrilled to meet him, too. That was directed toward you, Daddy. Be nice.
“Be nice?” Ron asked, his voice high pitched. “Why, what usually happens when you bring boys home for dinner?”
“I dunno. I've never done it before. We'll just have to find that out.”
“I refuse-” Ron started, but Hermione snaked her hand around the back of his neck and placed a kiss on his lips. By the time Ron opened his eyes, the owl she had given the letter to was a small dot in the sky.
What did you wear to meet the love of your life's parents? This, quite frankly, was the only thought on Ron's mind now that the subject had come up. He didn't know whether to wear robes or muggle clothes. If robes, which pair? If muggle clothes, jeans or dress pants? Should he wear a navy blue shirt, or a black one? Ron desperately envied Harry. After all, the lucky bloke had met Ginny's parents before he'd even met Ginny, much less thought of dating her. He never had to worry about that, although he had been forced to face telling Ginny's parents. Then again, Harry hadn't had anything to worry about! For the love of merlin, he was the boy who lived! Everyone loved him, especially the Weasleys. What if Hermione's parents didn't like Ron? He didn't know what he would do if that happened... suddenly, in his mind, came an image of Hermione's father tying her up and forcing her not to love him anymore.
“Ron? What's wrong?” Hermione asked, looking quite bemused as she walked into his bedroom, brandishing a large shopping bag. Ron turned away from his closet and rushed over to Hermione, lifting her off the floor and kissing her. He heard a loud thump as Hermione dropped the bag and it fell onto the floor. “What was that for?” Hermione asked, looking amused, and still in midair.
“Well... I was picturing your dad locking you up and then forcing me to leave the house and then making you... you know... forget about me.”
Hermione started at Ron with a shocked expression on her face for a moment. Then she started laughing. She laughed so hard she was clutching her side, and she was all but falling down onto the floor. Ron let her go, crossed his arms, and wondered if she was going to start throwing up on his carpet.
“I am not amused.” he said finally.
“Oh, but I am.” Hermione giggled. “Please, Ron. Do you think my father would be able to stop me from loving you? Have a little faith!”
She slipped her hand around his neck and kissed him. Ron kissed her back halfheartedly, not yet over being laughed at. After a few moments he broke back and gestured toward his closet.
“Can you help me pick something out?” Ron asked.
“Ah, but of course.” Hermione smiled, walking into the closet. Within two seconds flat she had produced a white button down shirt and some nice blue jeans. Hermione herself was wearing a pair of black skinny jeans and a floaty shirt over a tank top. “Outfit chosen by Ginny, not me.” Hermione told Ron, noticing his gaze.
“It's perfect.” he told her, grasping her hand and bringing her to him. It wasn't his normal hug, either. One hand was cradling the back of her head, the other intertwined with her other hand. He played with her fingers, and Hermione closed her eyes, willing herself not to cry. She wondered if this would be the last time Ron would hold her. On missions with danger levels this high, it wasn't unlikely for an auror to die. She rather thought she was underacting, if anything.
“What are you thinking?” Ron asked quietly.
“How much I like it when you hold me like this. You?” Hermione asked.
Ron knew that this situation needed some comic relief if they were both going to make it through the night.
“How easy your shirt would be to take on and off.” he said.
“Ron!” Hermione cried, backing out of his embrace. But upon seeing the look on his face, she started to laugh, and allowed Ron to scoop her up in his arms again.
“Of course, I'm only thinking about that for your own safety,” he said mockingly.
“Sure you were.” Hermione smiled, giving his jaw scar a quick kiss before wriggling out of Ron's hug and walking over to the fireplace. “I pulled some strings and had my parents' fireplace connected to yours. I hope you don't mind.”
“Not at all.” Ron said smoothly, walking over to the fireplace and meaning to grab the floo powder. Instead, he knocked it over.
“Wow. You're really nervous.” Hermione said, blinking at him incredulously. “Don't worry. My mum already loves you way too much.”
“Really?” Ron said hopefully.
“Really.” Hermione confirmed. She gestured for Ron to go to the fireplace, but he offered her the floo pot and said,
Laughing, Hermione took the powder and threw it into the fireplace. She said her parents' address and spun away. Ron, gulping, did the same. When he emerged, coughing, from the fireplace, Hermione was hugging her mum. Ron watched, slightly fascinated, as she moved toward her father, giving him, too, a tender hug.
“Hi, Daddy.” Hermione whispered in his ear.
“Hi, little girl.” Mr. Granger responded. Hermione let go of her father and went over to stand next to Ron.
“Mum, Dad... this is Ron.”
Somewhere along the way Hermione had slipped her hand into Ron's, and now she gave his a reassuring squeeze. Swallowing hard again, Ron went over to kiss Hermione's mum on the cheek, then gave her father a gruff handshake.
“He's got a nice, firm handshake, Hermione.” Mr. Granger noted, nodding. Hermione beamed up at Ron, smiling approvingly. Her smile gave him confidence, and he glanced back at Mrs. Granger. She was looking at the couple with such tenderness on her face Ron couldn't help but smile at her. She smiled back, looking very much like Hermione when she did so, and led them into the sitting room.
“Hermione, love, will you come help me in the kitchen?” Mrs. Granger asked.
“Of course, mum.” Hermione said, and she let go of Ron's hand and walked into the kitchen. Ron stared after her, and Mr. Granger gestured to the couch. Ron sat down.
“My daughter loves you very much.” he said, his eyes piercing into Ron.
“I love her, too.” Ron said truthfully.
“You've hurt her a lot, though.”
“I know.” Ron said, closing his eyes briefly. “More then I ever wanted to. I can't even conceive in my mind a feeling like one that she must have felt when she...” he didn't want to go on. Mr. Granger didn't press him to. This surprised him, but he didn't say anything about it.
“She's loved you for a long time.” Mr. Granger told Ron.
“A year longer than I've loved her, unfortunately.” Ron replied.
“Hmph.” Mr. Granger said. “Well, as long as you're good to her.” he said.
“Thank you, sir.” Ron said, nodding at the man. “I promise that I will be.”
“He's adorable!” Mrs. Granger squealed as soon as the door to the kitchen had swung shut. “I don't usually like redheads, but...” Mrs. Granger trailed off as Hermione peeked through the cracks in the top of the door. “What's happening?” she asked.
“They're sitting down... Ron's turning red...” Hermione reported.
Mrs. Granger giggled.
“I'm so happy for you, Hermione.” she said honestly. “He's a good boy.”
“He's a great boy.” Hermione replied, thinking about the way Ron had held her earlier.
Dinner had gone perfectly. Everyone was happy, and full, and Mrs. Granger had proven to be an excellent cook. They had all had a marvelous time talking about how much Hermione's cooking skills had improved since the Horcrux hunt. Mr. Granger was peaceful to Ron the whole night, on the whole not showing much emotion, but not being rude either. When dinner was over, and all was said and done, Mrs. Granger asked the fatal question.
“Do you two want to stay over in Hermione's old room tonight? I think her bed's big enough for two... it's a Queen so you might have to squeeze, but-”
Ron, who had been taking a sip of coffee, spat it out.
“Excuse me?” he said.
“Oh, well, I just figured that it's already so late and... well, I didn't think that would be a problem.”
“Mum, we have a guest room.” Hermione said reasonably. Mrs. Granger turned red.
“Oh,” she said faintly, “I just assumed.”
“Mum, no!” Hermione cried, jumping up. “We haven't!”
“Really?” Mr. Granger asked, looking as though all his dreams had come true. “Marry this one, Hermione.” he said, beaming at Ron.
“Are you saying I should marry him because he hasn't taken advantage of me yet?” Hermione asked shrilly, raising her eyebrow at her father.
“Yeah. Is there any other reason why you should?”
Hermione turned pink, and she raised herself to her fullest height, put her hands on her hips, and faced her father angrily.
“Yes. Because he's smart, and funny, and daring, and sarcastic, and loving, and sweet, and adorable! Because I can count every single freckle on his nose, and because he always knows exactly what to say when I'm upset, even if he doesn't realize that he's saying the right thing! Because when I think about growing old, all I can think about is doing so with him! Because I've wanted to be with him since I was fourteen, and I will never, ever have so much history or chemistry with anyone else on this planet!”
Mr. Granger mouthed soundlessly at his daughter. Hermione huffed angrily and grabbed Ron's hand.
“Come on, Ron.” she said, pulling him toward the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Mrs. Granger asked, her face red.
“To do the deed!” Hermione said sarcastically.
“We're doing what?” Ron asked, his voice high pitched.
“The deed.” Hermione said, her voice shaking with anger.
“Oh.” Ron said. “I didn't mean that. I know what the deed is. I mean... what?”
Hermione walked into her room and closed the door behind her and Ron.
“We're not actually going to do it.” she said, sighing. “I just wanted to make him mad.”
“Oh.” Ron said, looking around Hermione's room. It described her. It was everything he imagined it would be. It was a powdery blue, with bookshelves above the bed. Pictures of Hermione, Harry, and Ron were hung above her bed, and there was a beautiful view outside of her window. “You have a beautiful room.”
“Thanks.” Hermione said. “This was my life.”
“I know.” Ron said simply, sitting on the bed.
“Hermione!” Mr. Granger yelled up the stairs. “Are you alright?”
“Oh NO Ron, don't stop!” Hermione yelled loudly. She pointed to the bed and hissed to Ron, “Bounce on it!”
“Oh. Er.” Ron said, before climbing into the bed and bouncing up and down with so much enthusiasm Hermione had to laugh.
“Hermione... I know you're faking! I'm coming up right now!”
And then the door burst open and Hermione and Ron stared guiltily at Mr. Granger as his pale face emerged through the door.
A/N: I hope you liked this chapter! I really enjoyed writing it. I just wanted to tell you all, the other day my cousin and I were at an art museum and we saw paper cut out of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. My cousin (who, by the way, is my go-to person for fanfiction, and without her I probably wouldn't even bother writing, or even care about Romione, so you can thank her for this story!) and I exchange glances and suddenly burst out laughing. Then, simultaneously we say, “LEANING TOWER OF PIZZA!” Then we both sighed, because we could never make that reference to anyone else in RL and have them understand. That's why I love you guys! Please review and tell me what you think, and if you have any questions for me about the story or other stuff, check out my MTA page! ~writergirl8