Chapter 7 : Finally Catching On
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Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, the great JKR does:)
I spent the rest of the weekend inside my small apartment, dreading the time in which I would have to go back into public and function at work. I continually thought of Ron and the emotions he’d awakened in me. The need he’d awakened in me to be closer to others. I wasn’t only missing Ron, but I also found that I was desperately missing my dad. If only I could ever work up the courage to visit him, maybe I could start to work my way out of the fog I’ve been in for so long.
"Nothing is wrong sir, absolutely nothing." He did have a point though; I had never been early to anything since before the war. I was still upset about the stupid train station incident; it must be throwing me off. I had been upset before; I'd get over it eventually. I always did. But then I sighed realizing I never got over things that upset me and that that is one reason why I’m in the position I am today.
"Well what ever it is, keep it up, I like to see that you are on time for once."
I walked into my office closing the door behind me and collapsing into my chair, who knew it would be such hard work to hide your emotions. I kicked off my black clogs and propped my stocking feet up on my desk. I looked around my office soaking it all in, the bookshelves filled with hundreds of books I read when I had nothing to report about, the green plants placed randomly around the room desperately in need of water, and last but not least a small picture I had leaned against my typewriter on my desk. The picture was of Ginny and I in Grimmauld place, during the war. We both wore tired expressions but you could tell that we were genuinely happy. She had her arm around my shoulder and we both were sticking our tongues out at the camera and laughing. Her bright hair is almost entirely covered with my bushy brown hair. I smiled remembering my old friend; whenever she had walked into a room she seemed to bring the sunshine in with her. Ginny had always been so bright and confident after she shed her shy ways. Every time I tried to imagine her suffering under Voldemort I couldn’t. My mind would flash to times when we would be joking around with Harry and Ron, just having a good time. Now I couldn’t even try to imagine her suffering, I didn’t want to, it would ruin the few images I had left of her being so happy...so alive.
Darden burst into my office crashing my door against the wall behind it. So very clumsy.
"Oi Hermione! How are you? I haven’t heard from you since...well since after you apparated home from the train station Saturday morning. I've been worried." Here goes, I put a fake cheery expression on my face.
"Oh I'm fine, don't worry about me!" I smiled at her.
"Your not fine," Darden was so stubborn, and so very correct in her statement.
"I am perfectly fine," I smiled again.
"But I do know how to cheer you up," I opened my mouth to say I didn’t need cheering up but she dismissed me by waving her arms, "You know that guy I met on Friday?" not waiting for an answer she went on,"Well it just so happens that he has a friend who needs a date for tonight. And since I'm going out with Davey tonight I told him you could come and we could just make it a double date. I think you'll like him, David says he's really nice."
I was shaking my head before she had even finished speaking.
"No, no, and no. I don’t want to go out on a date tonight, let alone a blind date."
"Oh its not officially blind, David has seen him and, er... I've seen David."
"My answer is no, I have some work to do," I said through clenched teeth, so much for my facade.
"You are coming with me, I don’t want you thinking about this bloody bloke Ron any longer," she said confidently with a smug smile on her face. She had a tendency to get quite annoying at times.
"Darden my answer is no. If you would like me to get out my dictionary and look up the definition of no and show it to you, I would be just delighted." I flashed her back the same smug smile that had been on her face seconds before.
"Too bad I wasn't asking. I already told him you were coming. His name is Zach and I'm picking you up at six o'clock tonight. Oh and wear something nice," she said looking pointedly at my old khaki skirt, faded red blouse, and my old Hogwarts black robe. "I can't believe you still have your school robes." I closed my eyes attempting to hold my temper.
"I suggest that you get out of my office-before-I-hex-you," I said it slowly, my eyes still closed in a desperate attempt to not explode at her. She seemed to take my advice to heart and exited my office quickly.
We apparated in front of "Acabus” , a small elegant restaurant, to wait for David and Zach. The building was brick and had a large green sign on it spelling Acabus in italic writing, and although muggles didn't seem to notice, the name was underlined in naught but a simple line but a drawing of a wand. Come to think of it, if there were any muggles around they didn't even seem to notice the restaurant existed. It must have a muggle repellant charm on it.
"I can't believe you Darden, seriously. You know I'm not ready to date." I snarled at her.
"You haven't dated in years, how would you know?" she replied, running her fingers through her soft blonde hair. I have no idea how her curly hair always lays tidily on her head, mine fluffs up and becomes frizzy in humid weather. I was just about to reply when I saw two tall figures strolling towards us. David and Zach.
Darden nudged me lightly as they walked up.
"Hi David!" Darden said enthusiastically before enveloping him in a hug. I looked to the left of David expecting there to be some desperate cousin of David's who couldn't get a date. However, I was completely wrong in thinking that…well he might be David’s cousin but he certainly wasn’t desperate because I have a feeling he has no problems getting dates. Zach was tall, had dark blonde hair and green eyes. He had a big and somewhat crooked nose, not that I minded; I'm not a shallow person and his eyes more than made up for his nose. I closed my mouth quickly, realizing I had been gaping at him. Having released David, Darden elbowed me hard in the ribs.
"Ouch...Oh Hi! My name is Hermione." I shook both of the men's hands firmly. Zach had soft, cold hands. Not warm and clammy like Ron's.
"Hey I'm David and this is my friend Zach. Well more like my boss, I run one of Zach's bookstores in town." I felt myself smile widely. Zach owned a bookstore, wait...he owned bookstores? As in…more than one?
"I'm Zach Slinkhard."
"Oh wow! You mean to say that, Wilbert Slinkhard the author of Defense Magical Theory is related to you?" he nodded, blushing slightly. "That means you own The Slink Sphinx bookstores that are all over London! I absolutely adore your stores, we must talk books sometime." he grinned at my suggestion and looped his arm through mine as we headed into the restaurant. Definitely my type of guy.
It seemed that every time I looked up from my dinner plate I would wish that when I raised my head Ron would be sitting there instead of Zach. I stared down at my glass dinner plate, and stabbed at my lamb chops contemplating my options. Let Ron ruin my night even though Zach is a really cool guy, or just have fun? The answer, to me, seemed simple. Yet when is anything ever simple?
"Who is that staring at us?" Zach asked looking perplexed.
"Oh its- its no one I know," Darden responded, I caught the waver in her voice and pulled my gaze off my plate immediately looking up at the window. My mouth fell. A mere fifteen feet away stood Ron looking at me through the rather large and wooden framed restaurant window. My date glanced at me and then out the window.
"Er… Hermione is everything okay?" Zach asked me hesitantly. I slammed my fork down on the table and stood up. Zach looked both amused and surprised. Yep, I’m definitely great at making good first impressions.
"Everything will be just brilliant in a moment." I said through clenched teeth and then I stomped over to the exit of the restaurant. When I came outside Ron turned around abruptly and began walking away, whistling to himself innocently.
"Ron just who the bloody hell do you think you are standing there staring at me while I eat dinner?" His head whipped around toward me.
"Um excuse me I don’t know what you are talking about I was just walking by." he looked away, turning back to me he added: "and I thought you didn’t curse," Whilst offering me one of his cheesy smiles. I ignored his second comment.
"Oh Merlin Ron do you think I’m an idiot?"
"Apparently," he winked at me and began walking away, I felt my stomach flip.
"Ronald! You aren't going anywhere," I said clenching my fists and standing my ground, any second I was likely to stamp my foot. "I thought I made it clear to you I wasn’t interested in ever seeing you again and I look up at dinner and see you staring at me."
"Oh but Hermione dear its a free country, and it seemed okay with you that Mr. hot shot, the guy you were sitting by, was staring at you." he finished almost bitterly. My face softened for a moment but then I realized I had more likely than imagined his tone as he quickly replaced his glare with another one of his lopsided smiles. I threw my hands up in surrender.
"Alright Ron, what ever. I've had just about enough. Good Bye," I finished curtly before turning to stomp away. Ron caught up with me quickly and grabbed my arm, a gesture I had been getting from him a lot lately. His careless expression changed to a serious one with in seconds.
"The truth is I was just walking by and I er... noticed you in there and I wanted to, oh never mind its not like I’m stalking you or something if that’s what you are implying," he looked flustered. Oddly enough his answer disappointed me more than anything.
"Oh, well I really must get back to my date."
"I wish you wouldn't," I heard him mumble under his breath. Had I heard him right or was it wishful thinking on my part?
"Oh nothing, I guess that's it then, you don’t want to talk to me again?"
"That’s precisely it, thank Merlin you are finally catching on!" I said flashing him a mock smile as he had done to me, before turning my back on him and walking back into Acabus and back to my date. Who knew that such a simple task of walking could be so difficult.
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