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Chapter 11: Fighter.
On the evening of my dinner with Ron, I spent ages deciding what to wear. This was of course not for his benefit, but to make sure that what I was wearing did not in any way entice him in the manner I was not interested. According to Draco; that was impossible.
Draco was being unnecessarily unhelpful and spent the time that I was getting ready, laid out on our bed watching. Everytime I came out in a different outfit, ready for his opinion he just grinned and shrugged his shoulders. On the fourth outfit, I got annoyed.
"Come on Draco!" I cried. "You have to help me, I don't know what's appropriate to have dinner in with your ex-lover."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Hermione, you look too beautiful in anything you wear. Weasley keeps pronouncing his love for you," he made a face. "And if he is truthful, he wont give a shit what you turn up in."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Fine."
Half an hour later, I was ready. Draco had left the room to make a drink; so I met him in the kitchen. He did a double take when he saw me.
"Hermione, are you sure you want to wear that?" he gasped, eyes burning.
It was a red dress that came to my thigh. It had a slit up the side and was strapless. I decided that I would wear what I damn well pleased, and this dress made me feel beautiful.
"Of course," I said, while smoothing my hair. "Do I look okay?"
"Okay?" Draco spluttered. "Hermione, it is taking me every strength to not drag you upstairs and..." he shuddered.
"Good," I said brightly. "That's what I was going for."
As planned, I met Ron at the Italian restaurant. It was quite fancy for Diagon Alley so my dress and heels were not over done. I arrived at twenty past eight, purpoesly late. The waiter showed me to the table, which was already occupied by Ron.
"Hermione," he said in greeting, standing up as I approached. "Wow, you look fantastic."
I permitted him to kiss my cheek and then we were seated. Luckily, Ron had listened to me and was not wearing a Quiddich jumper. Instead, he was wearing a pale blue shirt with smart trousers. The look was very attractive.
"What do you feel like eating Hermione?" he asked, as we were looking over our menus.
"Cut the crap Ron," I said coldly. "Why did you really want to have dinner? Draco isn't here, so you can tell me what you want now."
Ron smiled sadly. "I will Hermione," he said. "After we've ordered."
The restaurant was lovely and for a moment I wondered why Draco and I had not come here for dinner before. Ron continued issuing small talk with me until our starters arrived. It was then that he began answering my questions.
"Why are you home so early?" I asked first, I thought it was the least incriminating or offensive.
Ron blushed. "It isn't early, I was always due to come home at this time. I just told you August so you wouldn't expect me. I wanted to surprise you Hermione."
I nodded. "Why is that Ron? Surely you didn't expect for everything to be wonderful when you returned home? You left me unexpectedly, called me some girl."
Ron nodded deeply. "I regretted that afternoon. I was awful to you Hermione and did not appreciate you. I was so sad when you didn't come to say goodbye, but I just assumed that you were still angry. There was a part of me when I was away that worried that you would find someone. Someone nicer, kinder, better than me. Someone who would give you the things you wanted. I did not, however, ever dream that you would end up married to the Ferret."
"Don't call him that," I chided automatically.
Ron shrugged. "How did you end up together exactly?"
I sighed as the waiter took our now empty plates and replaced them with our main courses. "I already told you that Ron. Draco and I became quite good friends through work and it all...sort of went from there."
Ron looked ponderous as he took a slice of meat. "Do you love him?"
"Of course I do Ron," I hissed. "Why else would I marry him?"
Ron huffed. "I suppose."
We continued eating in silence for a few moments. Ron looked thoughtful as he ate but not mad. I wondered what he was really thinking about.
"Why did you act like such a cock when you got home Ron?" I asked him quietly.
Ron grinned at my words. "Sorry for that too. I was just so shocked and I could not understand your motivations. However, after seeing the two of you together a few times; no one can deny that you love eachother."
I nodded and smiled at him. I liked that he was being more accepting. Finally.
"What's more," he continued. "I am just embarrassing myself if I continue to pursue a married woman. I wanted to have dinner with you to tell you that it's over for me. I promise to stop pestering you."
I nodded in appreciation and was smiling as I finished my main. I appreciated Ron's gesture but at the same time I was annoyed that he was being so kind. His kindness just reminded me of our old relationship and the old Ron. It made me remember why I ever fell in love with him in the first place. These were not thoughts I wanted to have.
During dessert, Ron ordered a bottle of expensive wine for us to drink. I accepted a glass to have while I ate my fruit salad.
"So Ron, tell me about Quiddich," I said. I knew I'd regret asking but decided that it was only polite to do so.
Ron grinned. "It was amazing Hermione," he said passionately. "I got to play each of the roles on the team to see which one I am actually best at. I'm a fair beater and an awful seeker, however; keeper is where it's at for me."
"Were you accepted?" I asked, after topping up our wine.
Ron shrugged. "I wont know for sure for a couple more weeks. However, the coach hinted heavily that the board liked me. Especially the only woman..." he concluded, his cheeks tinged red.
I narrowed my eyes and drank some more wine. "Did you sleep with the woman on the board Ron?" I asked, outraged.
He nodded embarrassed.
I started laughing. "Ron! That's so bad! Now if you get the job you wont know if you got in on talent on the pitch or in bed!" I sniggered.
Ron tried to protest but I wasn't finished.
"Although!" I said, slyly. "I think we can rule out your bedroom talent."
Ron went all the more red. "That's slightly unfair Hermione," he said nervously. "You were a virgin when we were together, how would you know good sex?"
I chuckled deeply and fluttered my eyelashes. "Draco can't get enough of me," I told him suggestively. I leaned over the table, aware that my cleavage became more pronounced as I did so.
Ron looked away tactfully. "You really are different Hermione," he said, smiling. "Who would have thought that the muggle-born know it all, brightest witch of our generation would turn out to be a rich, hot, successful woman in her own right?"
I leaned back and smirked. "Everyone underestimated me. However, I think you're now overestimating my attraction."
Ron shook his head and leaned in to whisper. "I've caught at least three men look away from their own dates to watch you Hermione."
I shrugged modestly. "They were probably just trying to figure out what wine we're drinking. Anyway, my wedding ring is clearly on show."
Ron laughed and I giggled. I really was having a lovely evening. The food was amazing, the company was pleasant; and it wasn't uncomfortable. I feared that this meeting would be awkward and hate filled. Instead, we shared banter like the old friends we were and even some careless flirting was played across the table.
I was aware of the time at eleven o'clock. I was also aware that I was slightly drunk. I knew Draco would be worried and then asked Ron if we could leave. Ron rose from his chair after couteously paying the entire cheque. He helped me up from my own seat and then kept his hand on the small of my back to guide me out of the restaurant.
"Thank you for dinner Ron," I said politely, once we were outside. "I actually had fun."
Ron nodded. "Anytime Hermione."
When I made a motion to apparate, Ron grabbed my arm quickly.
"Wait," he said.
I looked at him curiously and had no time to register what he was doing. Ron leaned in and kissed my mouth hungrily. At first, I was appalled at what he was doing. He had just promised to leave me alone and now he was kissing me! However, as he was kissing me memories flooded back. His smell, his touch; everything became familiar. As if on their own accord, my hands found their way into his hair and then I was kissing him back. His kissed were different to Draco's and each one brought me closer to earth and made me feel more foolish.
"Stop!" I said suddenly, pushing him away angrily. "You promised me Ronald Weasley!"
Ron shrugged and smirked. "So what? I just wanted to make you feel comfortable so I could remind you of how amazing I am and how amazing we were together Hermione."
I touched my swollen lips lightly. "How dare you Ron? I am married!"
Ron laughed out loud. "You can't deny Hermione; you kissed me back. And I think you enjoyed it."
Without another word, Ron apparated away making me feel disgusting and alone. Without thinking, I apparated myself away. Part of me wanted to go to my parents house, but then I remembered that Draco would be waiting for me at home. He might think I was kidnapped or worse, had gone home with Ron if I didn't return home.
When I landed in the kitchen; the house was silent. I assumed that Draco had gone to bed and I let out a relieved sigh. I tiptoes up the stairs after removing my shoes and eased open the door. Draco was in bed and fast asleep. His bedside lamp was on, so I assumed that he had intended on waiting for me.
I was glad he was asleep.
I removed my pretty dress and put it in the hamper to be washed. After returning my shoes to the cupboard, I stepped into the shower to try and wash Ron off of me. I didn't want his smell near me because the very thought of it now made me sick.
Afterwards, I slipped into bed silently. I thought about curling up to Draco but then felt disgusted with myself all over again. Instead, I turned away from him and fell asleep.
It was the first time in forever that we had slept back to back.