Chapter 10 : Bookworm
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. JKR does. The only thing I own is the plot of this story.
Once I had apparated back home I began to feel foolish and childish. Ron had taken a risk and kissed me and I responded in a way that he had most likely feared I would. It was Friday (a week after going to Ron's apartment) and I was sitting at my desk at work thinking of how I should have given Ron a chance, how leaving so quickly like that after he'd kissed me hadn't been the right decision however right it felt when I was doing it. Not only did I owe it to myself to give Ron another chance but I also owed it to Harry and Ginny. They had both lost their lives in trying to free the wizarding world of Lord Voldemort and here I was after the war hating Ron and lacking the ability to give him a second chance.
I felt myself becoming more and more ashamed with each consecutive thought that ran through my head. Maybe Ron was different now; maybe I was the one who needed to change. I made a decision that I would stop by Ron's after work, it seemed inevitable that we would have to talk to each other again and I wanted to be the one to make the effort to do so. I owed it to Harry and Ginny, I needed to give Ron another chance and I needed to make him see that our kiss hadn’t been one sided. It all seemed so important at that moment that I almost left work early. I didn't though; I waited it out until six o'clock when my boss Jerry walked into my office and told me I could go home.
I apparated straight to Ron's so as to not allow myself time to talk myself out of doing just that. I was nervous and felt a little ridiculous and embarrassed going to his apartment again. I held up my shaking hand to knock on his apartment door and then lowered it resolutely. ‘You can do it, you used to be able to do just about anything’ I thought to myself determinedly. I raised my heavy hand once more and knocked quietly praying Ron wouldn't hear, but a few moments later the door opened up to reveal a tall redhead. Ron had a very hard look on his face and was showing no emotion. This only made me more nervous, at least when he was scowling at me I knew he was angry and where my boundaries lay.
"Can I come in?" I asked slowly.
"I guess," he responded while frowning at me. I stepped inside and took off my coat, folded it neatly (receiving an annoyed look from Ron) and placed it down on a table near the door I had just entered through.
"We need to talk," I said to him briskly, wanting to get to my point before I changed my mind about what I was going to say. In all reality I wanted to get to my point before I chickened out. I heard a thump from one of the rooms leading off from the living room that Ron and I had just walked into. He threw a nervous glance at the door the sound had emitted from behind.
"Alright," he drawled out while gazing at me with a worried look on his face. He motioned for me to join him on the old couch he just sat down on. I sat down, positioned my hands on my lap and began tapping my fingers nervously on my knees.
"Ron. You're the reason that Zach and I broke up." I must have been awfully nervous; because those were definitely not the words I had planned out or ever thought of saying.
"Excuse me?" he demanded, standing up off the couch and peering down at me with narrowed eyes.
"He wanted to get closer to me and for me to illustrate to him that I cared about him as much as he did me. Just when I was about to do so I saw someone who er… well looked like you. Then I kept thinking that maybe if it were you I could talk to you and that would make everything better. I just kept staring at that man who looked like you. I don’t know why, I’m probably just mental. Naturally Zach put two and two together and realized that you are the reason that I couldn’t get close to him." It seemed a lot saner and simple when I was thinking about it, but when I was saying it aloud it sounded like complete rubbish.
"HOW is that my fault?"
"You always pop up in my head. Whenever I think of what it is I want to do in my free time on a Saturday morning an image of you and I walking through Hogsmeade appears in my head. Whenever I need someone to talk to it feels like I should be sitting in front of you discussing house elves instead of my friend Darden and I see your face in my head. Whenever I kissed Zach my mind would flash to the few intimate moments we had shared in the past,” I blushed and hastened to continue, “So when I saw someone with red hair I was thinking that maybe everything could work out between you and I and we could be more than friends again."
"Why is that such a horrible thought?" he interrupted.
"What?" I asked, totally thrown off. It was as though I had completely forgotten that the whole point of coming here was to tell Ron that it was good Zach and I were no longer together. That is was brilliant and perfect because I still had feelings for him after all these years.
"Why is that such a horrible thought, the thought that maybe you and I could be more than friends?" he kept glancing nervously at that same door leading off from the room we were sitting in.
"Ron, I was on a date with someone I cared about and just the thought of you made me completely ignore him.”
"Really, you ignored the poor bloke?" he asked, but he didn’t look as though he felt bad, he looked as if he was rather enjoying this conversation now. To be quite plain, that's when my famous temper took another toll in my fate of ending up alone. I stood up and was eye to eye with him again, well nearly, I kind of had to stand on my tip-toes and tilt my head up.
"Do you think this is funny, because I certainly don't. This is a serious conversation that I am trying to have right now,” I spat nastily. His temper began to pick up too.
"Okay then all jokes aside,” he shouted mockingly. “Do you really expect me to stand here like a git and take in all your shit about how I ruined you and your boyfriend’s relationship? Is that why you came here?" I could have said no, but I didn't. I just allowed him to continue thinking that that's why I had come. "Because if so, I don’t even know why you bothered. You made it very clear to me a week ago that you disliked me and that we couldn’t do 'this'. I don’t know what the bloody hell you meant by it, but it was followed by you apparating from my house and you not bothering to contact me for a week. So really this whole guilt trip that you are trying to get me on by coming over here, it's not necessary and it’s not going to work." his face was red and his hair on end from pulling on it as he raged on. "I’m over it Hermione. Really I am, I’ve had a whole week to think about why we shouldn’t be together anyhow. Trust me I’ve thought up loads of reasons." I felt like I had been hit in the stomach as he continued to rant. "First off I don’t think I would be able to stand your constant nagging. That’s all you do Hermione is nag at people and tell them what to do." he was breathing heavily now.
"Are you quite done?" I asked him pursing my lips.
"Yes," he growled.
"Well in that case I guess I’ll just let you know that I came here today to ask you out on a date. But I don't suppose you'd want to sit through lunch or dinner with someone who would just nag you the whole time."
Right as the words left my mouth the look of rage on Ron's face was swept away and replaced with an entirely different look, he nearly looked like an entirely new person. He broke out in a grin and stepped closer to me, much closer. A grin appeared on my face as well as he lifted his hand to my face and traced a line down the side of my face to my lips. I heard a click and saw the door that Ron kept looking at open up; he jumped back from me and turned toward the door in alarm. It looked as though the door that opened had been the one to Ron's bedroom and out walked a short, thin woman with dark brown hair and dull green eyes. I saw the look on Ron's face and came to the conclusion that what I was seeing was not just my imagination. There was indeed another woman in Ron's apartment. She was wearing a short skirt I would never dare to wear and a bright blue jumper, and her hair was damp as though she’d just taken a shower. She walked over to Ron and put a protective arm around his stomach.
"Ron I heard yelling, is everything alright?" she asked. Ron gulped and looked between the girl and I, his face was very white but he was trying to act as though this wasn't an awkward or terrible situation.
"Everything... is fine, Mora." he said to her before removing her arm from around himself and directing his attention back to me.
He opened his mouth to speak but I held up my hand and closed my eyes to calm myself.
"Clearly, you are over it," I muttered and I opened my eyes to see that the pretty woman was looking confused and Ron looked like he was on the verge of tears. I cast my eyes to the carpet and apparated back to my apartment with a pop. I simply left my worries and heartache behind as I always did, and ran away. I chose the easy way out, because I could.
Going to Ron's had been such a waste of time. I shouldn't have gone. I tried Ginny and Harry, I thought to myself. I tried and there's nothing else I can do. Ron doesn't want to be with me, that's all there is to it.
I woke up the next morning feeling as though I hadn’t slept in years. I felt empty inside and weak in body and mind. There was only one person I wanted to see and I wanted to see him so badly I almost floo’d to his house without even getting dressed. I showered and changed as quickly as possible and grabbed the old floo dust from inside my closet. I hated using it, it was dirty and I often got a bunch up my nose, but my dad hated when I apparated. It scared the heck out of him.
The moment I arrived at my house and breathed in the scent of my childhood I nearly began to cry with happiness. My dad was sitting in front of the fireplace reading the newspaper and it was as if he was waiting for me to show up. He looked a bit older but the picture he presented was just as I remembered it. He still had his big bright smile, and his brown hair, and he was wearing the bathrobe my mum had given him when I was a little girl.
“Oh Hermione! I was afraid you’d never come,” he rushed toward me and enveloped me into a hug and I had never felt so whole. “I was too scared to break our pact and come see you. But it was so ridiculous; I can’t believe I haven’t seen my only daughter in years for fear that she would remind me of my wife. You do remind me of her darling,” I stepped back for a moment, ready to have to take my leave but he grabbed me again “It makes me happy to remember your mum, and even happier to see you.”
“I’ve missed you so much.”
“I know…come sit down and let me have a look at you,” he led me over to the couch and sat me down beside him before inspecting my appearance. He frowned slightly as he looked at my face, and I felt my eyes begin to tingle. “What’s wrong Hermione? Why do you look so tired?”
I didn’t want to tell him, to make him feel as though I had only visited him so he could comfort me, but I couldn’t keep it inside any longer. I told him about how I had come into contact with Ron again and how I had missed him so much and realized that I still care for him after such a long time.
“Well what’s wrong with that?” he asked me confusedly.
“He’s seeing someone else dad,” I sighed and wiped my eyes before placing a smile on my face, “Oh well, its not important. All that matters is that I’m here and we can try to be a family again.” My dad, who I’d received my stubbornness from, shook his head and put his hand to me cheek.
“It does matter, and if I’ve learned one thing after losing your mother, it’s that you have to fight for your happiness. I’ve always known you to have such fierceness within you, you could out fight and out argue anyone, just like your mum. What happened?”
“Life. Life happened, and I’m over it. Really dad.”
“You have to fight for him!” He was sincere but what he was saying seemed foreign and silly to me. I lowered my head and didn’t respond. “Alright then, if you’re going to be a mule, there is no point in arguing. Let’s go out to lunch and catch up. What do you say?” I nodded, relieved for the change in topics. “Grab your coat though, it’s a bit chilly. Do you have one?”
I gasped as I realized I had left my coat at Ron’s house. I told my dad this and he got that serious look on his face again.
“It’s your chance to set things right,” he said, but for once I didn’t want my dad’s advice, and there was no way I was going to listen to it.
Darden and I were in Diagon Alley picking up some supplies for work when she informed me that I had three choices.
“Hermione Jane Granger how could you forget your coat at his house? There are only a few things you can do. You can forget about your favorite and in my opinion only fashionable article of clothing you own and leave it there," I threw her an annoyed look so she continued rattling off my options "you can apparate into his apartment and grab it and apparate out without him knowing, that is if his apartment isn’t protected. Or you can swallow your overly developed pride and go politely to Ron's apartment, knock on the door and ask for your jacket. Personally I think you should go with option three, I mean seriously I think the guy is in love with you if-" I put my hand over her mouth to silence her, ever since I told her of what happened between Ron and I (from kissing to fighting and seeing his new girl Mora) she had been trying to convince me that I was wrong in thinking Ron didn't want to be with me.
"However much this pains me, I'm going to have to opt for choice three. But there is no way in hell that I will be doing or talking about anything other than my jacket whilst I am there." Darden looked disappointed. "I'll go tonight and then with any luck I'll be done with him, forever." I informed her.
“Well alright. I just can’t see how a guy so obviously in love with you could find some other girl in a week. I mean she’s clearly just someone to help Ron forget you, but really there’s no way he’s going to forget you. Especially not with that hair of yours,” she began smoothing her hands over my hair to try and calm it, “It’s so out of control.” She smiled at me and giggled to let me know she was only joking.
“Really Darden, stop with the love talk, I don’t even want to think about it.”
“Sorry darling,” and she really did look sorry. “You’ll get him back,” she whispered thinking I couldn’t hear or maybe knowing that I could and that it was the one thing in the world I needed to hear most at that moment.
After departing from Darden (she had agreed to drop off all the supplies at work that we had purchased) I apparated to Ron's apartment. I knocked on his door for a full five minutes before I became frustrated and began banging on his door impatiently.
An elderly lady walked by wearing a red dress with blue polka dots on it and a crooked witches hat was seated on her small head. She was very short, even shorter than me and had very distinguishable white frizzy hair poking out from under her tall black hat.
"I know you’re in there Ronald. Open up," I yelled. The old lady stopped walking suddenly and turned around to me with a look of annoyance plastered on her wrinkly face.
"Oh you know my Ronny,” she stated.
"What?" I asked slowly.
"Ron. You know Ron; he comes by and lets me teach him some of my cooking tips sometimes. I'm Geraldine by the way, Geraldine Hopkins," she held out a small hand to me and I shook it reluctantly. She seemed like a crazy old bat to me.
"Okay...well do you know where he is?"
"Oh deary you've just missed him, he packed up and left just this morning. I’m not quite sure when he'll be getting back,” a look of realization came over her face and she began mumbling to herself. "Oh dear, I am quite sure I am losing my memory, he must have told me when he'd be getting back. But I do know for sure that he will not be here tomorrow to make cabbage stew with me." She looked impressed with herself for remembering such information. I was becoming more impatient with each passing second.
"Okay," I replied uncertainly and she looked startled, like she had forgotten she was talking to someone.
"Oh, your still here," she said in an annoyed voice.
"Yes, of course I am." I looked at her disbelievingly and then asked the question that I most feared the answer of. "Did he say anything else, like why he left or where he went?"
"He said he just needed to get away for a bit." She caught the look of shock on my face and added, "Not to worry though deary he'll be back soon. He has to be back soon, we are cooking treacle tart next week," she smiled encouragingly. When I didn’t respond she began to shuffle away mumbling to herself once more, "Silly girl, thinks she can take my place, well I’ll show her. Ron will like my treacle tart more than anything that bushy haired girl could ever cook."
I shook my head, not caring what the old lady was saying. Only one thing she had told me had been of any consequence. She had said that Ron had to get away. Hearing those words come from that old lady's mouth was like a punch in the stomach. I couldn't breathe properly. Get away...he had said that before.
It was the day before Harry's funeral when I walked into Ron's room and saw him packing up his belongings hastily. He seemed to want to fill his trunk as quickly as possible. I stood at the door timidly before walking in. The old floorboards creaked as I stepped over them and he looked up at me before turning back to his trunk as if I wasn’t there.
I cleared my throat, "Um Ron, what's going on?" He shifted uneasily and stopped rolling up his Chudley Cannons poster for a few seconds.
"I'm...I'm er leaving Hermione."
"WHAT?" I burst out loudly, unable to contain myself.
"I-I just need to get away for a little bit," my heartbeat slowed down slightly; at least he wasn't leaving for good. I beamed suddenly, coming up with a great idea...
"I'll come with you!" he kept his head down and resumed throwing clothes in his trunk with the rest of his belongings.
"No," he mumbled.
"No?" I asked quietly, my smile slowly vanishing. He slammed his tattered trunk closed loudly.
"NO, I don't want anyone coming with me. I said I just need to get away for a little while, alright?" he attempted smiling at me, failing miserably. I understood his need to get away from all the things that reminded him of Ginny and Harry. I had felt that way everyday since Ginny's death, but I would have never left Ron.
"Oh...well alright Ron, your family and I will be here when you get back. When are you leaving?"
"In an hour or so," he stated calmly.
"You are not leaving before Harry's funeral," I stomped my foot on the ground like a child who had just been denied desert. I felt my heart rate quicken and my voice shake a little.
"Oh and I suppose a great bookworm like yourself is going to stop me?" he wasn't acting like himself; sure he had called me names before. That was just to get me riled up though, he really meant it this time. I felt my eyes sting and my lip begin to tremble. Before Ron could notice I walked out of the room slamming his door with all my might. Sometimes it felt as though the world was against me, I was always staying so strong and positive and had no one to lean on. I had been a pillar of support for Ron after Ginny and Harry’s deaths when I needed just as much support from him. I survived off the fact that I knew or thought that someday, any day soon; Ron would become my pillar and soothe my fears and nightmares. But instead he was running away and leaving me to fend for myself in a world that offered me nothing.
Almost an hour later everyone met downstairs to say good-bye to Ron. He was apparating to the leaky cauldron where he'd be staying for a few days. No one agreed with his choice to leave before Harry's funeral, but he was of age and could do what ever he wished. I stood on the stairs; it was the furthest I could be away from Ron yet still see him. He was standing in the living room, bags in hand, with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, and Bill crowded around him. Charlie would be arriving the following morning for Harry’s funeral. No one had any idea how long Ron would be gone, but we figured it wouldn't be more than a month. Even so, everyone still wanted to give him a farewell, everyone but me that is. Ron shook hands with his brothers and father and hugged his mum tightly.
"You don't be gone long now, and make sure to eat enough, you better not come back skin and bones." Mrs. Weasley warned him sternly.
I turned to walk back up to the room I was staying in when the stair I was standing on groaned loudly. Ron and his family looked up from where they were standing in the middle of the living room. Ron's eyes locked with mine. I looked away quickly, I was still hurt and mad about how cruel he had acted toward me this afternoon.
"You’re the greatest bookworm I've ever had the fortune to meet," I heard him say. Then he was gone with a pop.
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