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Chapter 10: Different Kind of Smile
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It is impossible to run from what is meant to be.
“HERMIONE! GINNY AND RON ARE MISSING!” Harry yelled, stumbling out of Hermione’s cramped fireplace. “I’VE SEARCHED EVERYWHERE:” He began listing in a quieter yet urgent voice as he headed toward the hall, “Their flat, the Burrow, the Twin’s shop, Shell–”
Ginny stood in the hallway with her hands on her hips in a very Mrs. Weasley-ish manner. “You obviously did not look everywhere.”
“...Cottage” Harry finished. "What're you doing here at five o'clock in the morning? Is Titus okay?"
"Titus is fine." Hermione had walked out of the room and met the couple in the hallway.
"Then what's going on here? Where's Ron?" Harry held his urgent tone, trying to mask the genuine worry that was all too apparent in his emerald eyes. The same worry that had never left his eyes after the war. He would never forget and it was starting to look like he'd never stop fighting.
"I'm in here Harry." Ron called from the tree swing.
Relief washed over Harry's face, followed immediately by confusion. He opened his mouth but Hemione spoke up, knowing what he was about to ask, "Come see for yourself."
Hermione stepped aside and pulled Ginny with her, allowing Harry to enter the nursery. Harry stared at the sight before him, mouth open in awe. He stared for a long while, unable to collect his thoughts.
"I'm going to go start breakfast." Hermione left. Leaving Ron and Ginny to decide whether or not to tell Harry the full story of this strange occurrence. Hermione knew Ginny would be weary but she did not expect her to keep something this huge from her fiancé. If Ginny didn't tell Harry, Ron was bound to. He was never any good at keeping secrets anyway. Maybe it was about time Harry found out. Hermione had always trusted Harry more than anyone else and the reason she did not confide in him from the beginning was because of Ginny.
Hermione lit the stove with her wand and pulled eggs and bacon out of the refrigerator. Having a muggle apartment made cooking exponentially easier. It wasn't long before Harry, Ron, and Ginny followed Hermione into her small kitchen. Ginny walked toward Hermione, Titus on her hip. As she rinsed out his bottle, Ginny leaned in and whispered in Hermione's ear, "Your secret is safe with us."
Hermione's heart was warmed by the loyalty of her friends but the familiar feeling of guilt threatened to spew from her stomach. She knew she could no longer keep her life from her dearest friend. Hermione smiled lightly at Ginny before the red headed girl turned around and joined the men at the table.
Hermione dished up breakfast and sat a plate and a glass of pumpkin juice in front if each of them. She then conjured up a chair and sat down with her own breakfast. They silently ate, all avoiding eye contact. Hermione pushed her eggs and potatoes around her plate absently.
"Would anyone care to tell me what's really going on here?" Harry questioned.
Hermione looked at Ron and Ginny who were both staring guiltily at their plates, a common Weasley trademark. Hermione redirected her gaze to Harry, making complete eye contact.
"Oh." Harry said.
"What do you mean oh?" asked a slightly angered Ginny.
"I mean that I know what's going on. I know Hermione told you guys about Fred." Harry explained.
"You told Harry and you waited this long to tell me?!" Ginny redirected her building heat toward Hermione.
Hermione opened her mouth to speak but all that came out was a strange choking noise.
"Hermione didn't tell me."
"Then how the hell could you know?!"
"Legillamency." Ron stated, eyes full of his sudden revelation.
Hermione burst into laughter, a rather inappropriate reaction. The trio stared at the girl, eyes wide with confusion.
"Erm... Hermione? What the hell is wrong with you?" Ginny asked, her eyes never leaving Hermione.
"Harry? Really? Harry a legillamense? That's ridiculous! Harry was the worst occlumense I have ever heard of and legillamency is proven to be much more difficult to grasp let alone achieve than occlumency! Like I said that is ridiculous! Right Harry?" Hermione laughed.
"As happy as I am to see the old Hermione, the pre-war Hermione, I am still somehow slightly offended that you don't believe in me; but still also completely surprised that I was able to accomplish such a inconceivable task without your help. Yes, Hermione, surprisingly, Ron is correct." Harry bantered.
The tension in the room lifted away and the group's mood rose dramatically.
"What surprises you? That Ron was right, Hermione was wrong, or that you actually did something on your own?" Ginny joined in.
"All three actually," Harry chuckled, and the group let out a much needed laugh.
It had been so long since they had all sat together and laughed. It had been so long since any of them laughed. It had been so long since Hermione and Ron were on speaking terms. It had been so long since neither of them thought about the lives lost and the lives ruined. It had been so long since people were happy. The war had changed them. The war had changed everyone. Their lives would never go back to the way they were. Nothing would ever be the same as it was before. They all knew that. The hard part was letting go. The hard part was moving on.
"By the way Hermione, today we are shopping." Ginny informed as the laughter settled in the room.
"Okay. I'll just have to find someone to watch Titus for the after—"
Ron cut her off, "I'll do it!"
"I don't know Ron. Do you know anything about babies?" Hermione asked.
"Well... No, but.."
"I'll help him." Harry chimed in, "We'll have an uncle day."
"Yea!" Ron exclaimed, an excited smile plastered to his freckled face.
Hermione's stomach lurched. She had missed that smile.
"Ginny I love you, but you really shouldn't wear red." Hermione laughed.
"But red is sexy!" Ginny whined.
"Well good thing you have that sexy red hair that clashes with that very small bit of red lace you have on."
"Then what should I wear?"
"Well it is your wedding night. Why not try something white?"
"Okay Hermet! Back to the drawing board. Let's go." Ginny gasped. Pulling Hermione off the pink fluffy couch by the wrist. "You know, you really should try something on. It might help that whole divorce thing."
"What on earth are you talking about?" Asked Hermione, cautiously flipping through much too tiny undergarments.
"What I'm saying is, maybe once Charlie sees what a sexy little wife he has, maybe he won't want that divorce after all." Ginny made sure not to look for Hermione's reaction. She remained focused on the lingerie in front of her.
Hermione just stared at Ginny for a long moment. "Gin, I wish you were right; but I don't think that's going to keep him here."
"It's worth a shot, right?" Ginny finally looked back at Hermione.
"Charlie is having an affair with Fleur." Hermione blurted out.
"WHAT?!" The shop went silent and everyone stared at the young women. "Why didn't you care to mention that before?" Ginny hissed.
"I only just realized it."
"What do you mean?"
"This morning. When you told me Charlie Floos Bill and Fleur every other Sunday, that's when I figured it out." Ginny stared at Hermione, eyes wide. "That was the first I have ever heard of it. She has never spoken about Charlie with me. Now that I think of it, I don't think I've ever even heard her say his name. I now understand the guilty look in her eyes when I speak about him."
"I am so sorry Hermione."
"It's fine Gin. It's not like it's a real marriage anyway." Hermione chuckled. "Bill is the one I feel bad for." Hermione said, getting serious once again.
"Well I think you should still get something. I mean if you're going to be single soon anyway, why not be single and sexy?" Ginny joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Ginny. I am a mother." Hermione laughed, shaking her head at her crazy friend. "There's nothing sexy about being a mother."
"Sure there is Hermet. 'Cause of your newly wide hips and brilliant chest, you have crazy attractive curves. You're body kills Hermione. Anyone could tell you that, if they actually saw it."
"What do you mean 'if they actually saw it'?" Hermione asked, mockingly offended.
"Have you seen your closet? I mean, I know you've always been modest, but your clothes don't give anything away. It's like you're chicken or something."
"I am NOT chicken!"
"Then prove it. Let me pick something out for you." Ginny said, a twisted grin on her lips and an evil twinkle in her eye.
Merlin, she's just like the twins, Hermione thought to herself. Ginny's grin widened as she sensed Hermione's hesitation. "Fine! Whatever, go!"
Ginny let an excited squeal escape, "Fantastic! Here we go!"
Ginny began grabbing things off racks at random. They made a loop around the small shop and ended up back at the dressing room. Ginny piled the lingerie in Hermione's arms and shoved her into the dressing room.
Hermione looked at what she was holding. Somehow, Ginny managed to grab all the skimpiest items available. "Merlin! What have I gotten myself into?"
Hermione searched the pile for the most modest thing she could find. She came out with a rather itty bitty lavender negligee.
"Come on Hermione! I'm getting old out here! Don't make me come in there!" Ginny shouted through the curtain.
"Okay! Okay! One second!" Hermione stared at her reflection in the mirror. Ginny had been right. She did have a nice body. The thin purple material left little to the imagination. It framed her full breasts and hung halfway down her buttocks, displaying her legs nicely. Hermione pulled back the curtain. "I actually like this one Gin."
Ginny examined her. She lifted her hand and signaled for Hermione to turn. Hermione did as she was told. "Yes yes. That's very nice. But there is no wow factor. It's too modest. want to see that little black number."
Once back in the dressing room, Hermione dug for the piece Ginny was talking about. Way at the bottom of the pile, Hermione found it. She held it up in front of her. She could never imagine herself in such a thing, but still she put it on and opened the curtain without looking at her reflection.
“Now that I like!” Ginny exclaimed.
“I don’t know Gin. I feel naked.” Hermione said self consciously.
“Duh! That’s the point! You’re supposed to feel naked. You’re supposed to look almost naked so your man wants to get you naked.”
“That’s a little bold don’t you think Ginny.” Hermione’s face was as red as Ron’s ears tended to be.
“I’m not buying this.”
“Then I’ll buy it for you.”
“I’m not wearing it.”
“Yes you will.”
The girls left the shop, bags in hand, laughing at the events of shopping. "I can't believe you bought that purple neglige Hermet."
"And I can't believe you bought me that black teddy." Hermione laughed.
Hermione stopped dead in her tracks.
"Hello Beautiful." Charlie smiled, reminding Hermione of the first time she had noticed that smile. "I've missed you, Love." He said, hugging his dumbfounded wife. "Where's Titus?"
It was Ginny who spoke up, "Harry and Ron are babysitting him."
Charlie let go of Hermione, leaving one arm draped around her shoulder. "Ron? When did that happen?"
"This morning," replied Ginny.
"Brilliant. How about lunch? It's on me."
"Leaky Caldron?" Charlie asked as he led the ladies down Diagon Alley, Hermione walking absently by his side. "Why don't we invite Harry and Ron? We can pick up George on the way." Charlie pulled out his wand and conjured up a silver dragon, sending it soaring to Harry and Ron.
"You hungry Love?" Charlie asked, giving Hermione a soft shake. She was gone.
I can't be pregnant. This really can't be happening. I'm eighteen. I don't have a job. I don't even have my own flat.
"Hermione dear, do you mind dicing those carrots?" Asked Mrs. Weasley, interrupting Hermione's train of thought.
"Of course Mrs. Weasley." Hermione began absently dicing carrots. Her mind was focused on the little orange glow floating around in her belly.
"Merlin! People will be here any minute," Mrs.
Weasley squealed, rushing frantically around the kitchen. "Hermione have you finished those carrots? Good. Toss them in the pot won't you?"
Hermione dropped the carrots into the stew as she was instructed. "Mrs. Weasley, I'm going to go wash up."
"That's fine dear."
Hermione nodded and made her way up the stairs and into the second story washroom. Once the door was closed, Hermione began unbuttoning her blouse. She pointed her wand at the topmost curve of her navel, "Revelio." There it was again. That beautiful, horrifying orange light.
Her skin reappeared with the banging on the door. "You okay in there Hermet?"
"Yea, Gin, I'm fine."
"Okay well, hurry up. People are starting to get here."
"I'll be right out."
Hermione put her wand away and rebuttoned her shirt. She grasped each side of the sink, supporting her weight. "Okay Hermione. Everything is normal. No baby. Just Hermione. Okay. That was a little weird." Hermione splashed some water on her face and headed back downstairs.
Hermione took her designated seat at the table.
"How have you been Miss Hermione?" She was asked by a warm inviting voice to her right.
She had paid no attention to who she was sitting next to. To her right was a shockingly handsome, smiling Charlie Weasley. "As good as anyone can be right now. How have you been Charlie?"
"It's good to be home, you know?" The sound of his voice wrapped around her entrancing her. She was even more dazed given the lack of focus.
She stared at him blankly then shook her head slightly. "No. I won't be home for a while."
"And why not?" Charlie asked. Hermione was a little astound by his intrigued expression. She had never had an actual conversation with Charlie Weasley. Why was he so interested?
"I modified my parents' memories before the war."
"Where are they now?"
"Do you plan on looking for them?"
"Why not now?"
Hermione stared at him, not a a word in her mouth. Her eyebrows pulled tightly together in confusion.
"Okay, everybody dig in!" Mrs. Weasley called from her end of the table.
"Would you like some of Madam Rosemerta's famous mead?" Charlie asked, holding the aged bottle. "Hermione?"
"Oh, sorry. No thank you."
Hermione nodded and reached for the pot pie in the center of the table.
"No, Hermione, let me." Charlie grabbed the serving knife before Hermione was able to. "Is this enough?"
"Thank you that's plenty. But, Charlie, I really could've gotten it myself"
"I know." Charlie said, flashing a mind-boggling smile.
Hermione looked away from Charlie for the first time since their converstation began. Ron was boring holes into her forehead from across the table. Hermione stared at her plate, feeling self conscious yet again.
In the process of picking up her fork, Hermione bumped Charlie's elbow against hers. "I'm sorry." She said, eyes never leaving the carrots on her plate.
"That's perfectly fine. I'm hard to sit next to. Lefty!" Charlie said waving his left hand.
Hermione's head popped up and stared at Charlie's hand. Fred was a lefty. "A bunch of you are lefties huh? You, Fred, Ginny. "
"Right you are! Get it? Right!"
Hermione let out a soft sorrowful laugh. "I get it."
"Hermione? I have a question." Charlie informed in a much more serious tone.
"Would you care to have dinner with me sometime?"
"I'm having dinner with you now Charlie." Hermione smiled.
"I mean like... a date." Charlie said pitifully, almost as if he were afraid of her response.
Hermione's eyes widened and she just stared for a few moments.
"That's okay. You don't have to say yes." Hermione could hear the disappointment in his voice.
"I'd be delighted"
The smile plastered to his face lifted away her worries. For a brief moment, she even stopped worrying about that little orange light.
"Hermione? Are you hungry?" Charlie asked again.
Hermione stared at him as she came back to reality. "Yea. A bit."