A/N: So wasn’t DEATHLY HALLOWS AMAZING??? Yeah, I know. But anyway, this story is AU now, obviously, meaning it doesn’t follow Deathly Hallows. But I still hope that you will continue reading!!
Previously: Mrs. Weasley knew immediately, her eyes opened so wide Hermione was sure they would fall out, “Is she – is he – who is – oh, my.” She stuttered.
“Mrs. Weasley, this is Paige, and she’s kind of your granddaughter.” No sooner than Hermione had finished her sentence, Ron walked into the kitchen.
Chapter 8: Seconds
Hermione looked up from the pure look of shock on Mrs. Weasley’s face and saw Ron standing in the doorway.
"Ron?" they said each other's names at the same time so it sounded more like "hermio-ron?' Ginny smiled slightly from behind Hermione but quickly wiped the expression off of her face because, well, frankly, she didn't think that it was the best time to be smiling.
“What’re –” Ron stuttered looking from Hermione, to his mother, to his daughter.
Ron still looked bewildered, Hermione made herself look away from him and back at her daughter in her lap, “Will she – er – be okay?” Hermione asked weakly. Mrs. Weasley was just staring, open-mouthed, at Paige. So this is where Ron gets it, Hermione thought.
“Can I–” Mrs. Weasley asked, holding out her arms.
“Er—sure,” Hermione answered lifting Paige up gently from under her arms. Paige gave a week moan of protest but did nothing else as her grandmother took her softly from Hermione. Once in Mrs. Weasley’s lap, Paige looked up tiredly, flashing her blue eyes up at Mrs. Weasley’s face then, upon deciding that she either didn’t care, or that she could trust her, Paige rested her head on Mrs. Weasley’s chest.
Mrs. Weasley smiled and pulled back Paige’s still-damp hair to examine her cut.
Hermione watched all of this, her heart melting. She shifted guiltily in her chair and asked nervously, “Well?”
After examining Paige’s head for a long, awkward minute Mrs. Weasley took her eyes off Paige for the first time and looked at Hermione. Hermione tried to read her expression, it looked like one of sadness and joy.
“Mild concussion, nothing life-threatening,” she said. Hermione tried to smile, but found herself barely able to as she caught Ron’s eye. Ron was still standing in the same place looking as though he’d be clucked on the head with a Beater’s Bat.
“Is she going to be back to normal soon?” Hermione asked looking back at Mrs. Weasley.
“Well, we have to try to keep her from going to sleep, and maybe a cold compress would make her feel better. But she should be back to normal within a few hours,” Mrs. Weasley explained, “Ginny, could you?”
As if she read her mind, Ginny waved her wand and a damp washcloth appeared on the table, Mrs. Weasley picked it up and held it to the injured spot on Paige’s head. Paige flinched a bit at first but settled back down and looked around the room without moving her head.
“Mummy?” she whispered upon finding that she could no longer see her mother.
“I’m right here, baby.” Hermione cooed and scooted her chair over so that Paige could see her.
Ron watched as his mother took his daughter and gave the diagnosis. He felt as though he was turning to stone, though he didn’t know why.
My baby’s hurt, said a small voice from somewhere in his head. He felt a rush of anger at himself for not rushing over to Paige’s side, yet he found his feet strangely stuck to the floor.
Paige was getting to know his mother before Ron had so much as held her. Feeling more and more angry at himself by the second, he longed to rush over to his mum, take his daughter, and wrap her in a tight embrace. Yet he couldn’t move.
He continued to watch as Hermione moved her chair so that she could see Paige’s face, leaned over, and said, “I’m right here, baby.” Hermione’s long, bushy brown hair hid her face like a curtain.
Looking away from this scene, he found that his sister was glaring at him – looking as mad as he felt. Suddenly he could feel his feet again -- well, he could feel he was moving.
“Is she –” he gulped nervously as he reached his daughter and Hermione, “alright?” he finished. He saw that Paige was looking at him, her blue eyes staring directly into his. He squatted near Hermione’s chair.
“Da-da?” she whispered. Mrs. Weasley removed the washcloth so that Paige could see her dad better.
Ron gulped again, “Yeah,” he breathed, “it’s okay.” He reached up involuntarily and brushed a stray strand of flaming hair from Paige’s eyes. He saw a knot forming above her right eye.
Looking away from his daughter, he saw that all three adults were staring at him. He blushed a bit and stood up, Hermione not taking her eyes off him.
Now it was Hermione that was shocked. Ron was suddenly acting so parental. It looked as though he hadn’t even thought about what he was doing.
Always knew he’d make a great dad, Hermione thought. She stared at him, even as he stood up. Why had it surprised her so much? Probably because no one’s ever been father-like to Paige.
Ron was now staring right back into Hermione’s eyes. Lilia coughed quietly reminding them that she and Ginny were still in the room. Hermione looked back at Ginny who was now sitting down rocking the infant, she looked up and smiled at Hermione.
"Mum, will you excuse us, I need to talk to Hermione," Ron asked suddenly making Hermione look away from Ginny and back at Ron.
"Sure, go ahead,” Mrs. Weasley replied absent-mindedly as she held and stared at her newfound granddaughter.
“I’ll be right back, okay?” Hermione asked Paige. Paige looked from her mother to Ron and nodded.
Hermione silently followed Ron up some stairs and into the nearest bedroom which happened to be Ginny’s old one. She shut the door behind her and leaned against the door looking at Ron.
They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment then Ron said, “Hermione, I’m sorry about – erm – yesterday.”
“No, don’t. I… I should have told you, you’re right, I don’t even think I’ll be able to forgive myself.” Hermione told him quietly.
“Don’t be mad at yourself! I forgive you, I mean, at least I think I do,” Ron started, he didn’t want to feel guilty about making Hermione mad at herself on top of everything else, “I just don’t get it though. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Hermione opened her mouth but Ron cut her off, “Don’t say ‘because of the fight’ again. I know the fight was bad and stupid and all, but was it really bad enough to make you hide my baby from me?”
“I don’t know, Ron!” Hermione gasped, tears blurring her vision again. “But I was mad and confused, and then you were gone! Away. For what seemed like forever. And we had been so happy before, then it just ended and… and… I was afraid of what you would say!” she finished walking across the room and sitting on the bed, for she felt her knees were about to give.
“Afraid of what I would say?” Ron said in what Hermione thought sounded like a hurt voice, “What’d you think I would do? Tell you to deal with it and leave? Did you really think –”
“No,” Hermione whispered, “I didn’t think. I should have known that you weren’t that kind of person. I was just being stupid.”
“I’ll have to say I agree with you there,” Ron said starting to get angry. Who’d she think he was? Only someone evil would walk away from his child.
Hermione continued to look at the floor.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.” Ron said at once, seeing the effect his words had on her.
“Yes you did, and you’re right. I mean there’s no other way to put it.” Hermione answered grimly.
“Well, I was stupid too. No, listen,” Ron started as he sat down on the bed next to Hermione, “That night, when we had the fight. I… I was going to ask you to marry me,” Ron said quickly and looked at his feet.
“You were?” Hermione asked looking up, her heart breaking.
“Yeah. But then that fight, and,” Ron stood up again and paced the room, Hermione stood too but stayed by the bed, “Hermione,” he looked right at her, “When I went away after that bloody fight, everything… everything changed.” Ron blinked and looked at the floor, “I carried that ring in my pocket for ages, almost chucked it into the ocean a few times – no, let me finish – but knowing how much it hurt to have that ring, I couldn’t sell it or give it away or even chuck it into the damn ocean! Because, this sounds stupid, but I couldn’t let it go because it was the last thing that reminded me of you.” He finished shyly and looked up from his feet and into Hermione’s tear-filled eyes.
“Oh, Ron!” she cried, “I feel horrible. I should’ve at least owled you or had Ginny owl you or something –”
“You couldn’t have. I tried to write you, but we weren’t allowed.”
Hermione sunk even deeper into her own guilt, but then retorted “But you must’ve gotten over it – me. I mean you’re engaged.” She said to Ron’s back a little more harshly than she meant to.
“Bloody hell, Hermione!” he exclaimed turning to look at her, “I couldn’t write, floo, anything. I had no way to talk to anyone that wasn’t in America with me! I was trying to forget about you, and then… and then I met Ivy. I clung to her because she seemed to understand as she was coming out of a marriage and all,” he stepped closer to Hermione, “Anyways, you had that guy over here to help you, you probably didn’t even need me.” Ron said disappointedly.
“Jake?” Hermione laughed through her tears, “Ron, I just met him the other day when I was buying new robes for… today. And more, I thought about you every time I looked at our daughter. Like I said yesterday, she’s more like you than me! And, quite honestly,” Hermione dropped her voice, embarrassed, “I never gave up, that – well, in the back of my mind, I always have pictured Paige, you and I happy and living together, even if I didn’t tell you she existed. I just thought you’d come back and –” she stopped, Ron had taken another step towards her.
“Every time I kiss her, I wish it were you, Hermione, I still –” Ron started, Hermione inched towards him.
Slowly the gap between them closed. She could feel his breath on her face, warm, even though her cheeks were stained with tears, “I never stopped loving you, either, Ronald,” she said softly. Their lips were inches apart. Hermione had only dreamt of this countless times, she stopped and waited for him to…
"RONALD WEASLEY!" Hermione and Ron stumbled apart quickly, "I NEED A WORD WITH YOU! NOW!" the voice yelled.
"That'd be... Ivy," Ron swallowed sadly. Hermione just stared at him.
"I guess I should..."
"Yeah," Hermione whispered.
"Right." Hermione nodded as Ron exited. Hermione sank back against the wall thinking that with every passing second her hate for her, for her daughter's father's fiancée, grew tenfold.
A/N: Hope you liked it! I'd guesstimate that there will be 2 or 3 more chapters. PLEASE REVEIW =]