Chapter 12 : Chapter Twelve: Weakness
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Ron followed my gaze and saw the man get up and walk away quickly, “Of course he does,” Ron says, I turn to look at him, “he’s the photographer for Witch Weekly.” He takes another bite of his soup.
I stare at him in horror. He swallows, “What? They didn’t have anything else at St. Mungo’s!”
He thinks I’m horrified because he read Witch Weekly, “Ron,” I breathe as panic arises with in me, “he just took a picture of us.”
“Apparently,” he says slowly.
“And he’s the photographer for a famous magazine,” I say, waiting for him to catch on to the horror of the situation.
“I just said that.”
“And I’m bloody married to Viktor Krum!” I whisper sharply at him slamming my hand on the table impatiently.
Comprehension dawns on his face, “Bloody hell,” he says.
I push my soup away from me, no longer hungry. I set my head in my hands. If they published that photo then I was screwed. Maybe they won’t print it?
Like hell they won’t. They’ll print it probably front cover with a scandalous, implication filled headline like, “Weasley’s back in town, the Ministry isn’t the only one excited!” Viktor would read it and be crushed.
This was fourth year all over again! Viktor and I are together, then a magazine, Witch Weekly, comes in and ruins it with a picture and an article about how I’m some slut who isn’t happy with just one famous guy.
However, there is one difference, this time when they say that I’m in love with the other man, Ron, they won’t be lying like they were back in forth year when they said it was Harry. That will make it so much worse when Viktor sees the article. Not only because it’s already happened to us once, but because this time both of us will know that there’s some truth to it.
And Viktor would see the article. It will be selling faster than the Weasley’s joke shop products. Everyone loves a good gossipy story about the famous trio and their problems.
“What are we going to do?” I ask weakly.
“I could try to track him down,” Ron asks, obviously worried at the pain this is causing me and somewhat excited at the prospect of a good adventure.
“The camera’s take the picture and send it directly to layout,” I tell him, “it prevents any staff member from using the camera for personal reasons.”
I look up at Ron. He’s face is twisted in anger and something else that I can’t think of, “I’m sorry, Hermione,” he finally says.
What? I wasn’t expecting this, “Why? This isn’t your fault.”
“But it is,” he says. I don’t believe him. He’d have to have hired the man to take our picture for it to be his fault, and he would never do that… would he? “I asked you to come to lunch down here,” he finishes. I exhale. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me like that.
“Ron, honestly,” I say, “It’s not your fault. I wanted to come down here, you didn’t force me to come.”
“Still, I had a feeling it was bad for us to be seen in public,” he says, “what with you married to an international Quidditch star and everything.” He smiles at me. I smile back. What? I can’t help it.
“And you helping defeat Voldemort,” I put in. I see the look on his face and I know the moment that he’s probably thinking about. I’m sure thinking about it. The moment that we first kissed, well, more like the moment my teenage hormones and feelings got the most of me and I jumped him. Ah, good times.
Now, back to my current, terrible, heart-breaking problem: next week when the new edition of the magazine came out my marriage was probably going to be over.
“So what’re we going to do?” Ron asks.
“I don’t know,” I groan, “I guess I should get back to work, though.”
“But you didn’t eat anything!” Ron protests, “That’s not good, that pancake-like thing could kill you if you don’t get anything on your stomach.”
“Ron,” I groan again, but I can’t help but smile, “I’m not really hungry anymore.”
“You take three bites of your soup before you can leave,” he says in an authoritive voice. It was kind of like Mrs. Weasley, only manly. If I was his child, I’d definitely take three bites, actually I’d probably finish the whole bowl.
But I just laugh as I pull my bowl back to me, I guess a few more minutes wouldn’t kill me. I take a bite and Ron smiles, “There,” he says and begins to eat his own food.
Ron still finishes before me even though I was trying to eat fast and he was carrying the conversation.
As I scraped the bowl for the last of my soup (once I started eating, I was starving) I looked up at Ron and saw that he was staring at me. I took the last bite, “Happy, Mum?” I asked gesturing towards my bowl.
“Thrilled,” he laughed.
“Good,” I said. Silence came and we both knew what I was about to say, “I have to go now.”
“I know,” he answers, digging into his pocket. He pulls out a few galleons and puts them on the table.
“I can pay for my own,” I tell him as I pick up my bags and begin to dig through them. As I make to pull out my own change purse, Ron’s big, warm hands stops me, “I’ve cause enough trouble with this lunch, I’m paying.”
I open my mouth to rebut him, but he shakes his head. I was going to lose this fight. I sigh and stand up, Ron does the same, “Bye,” I tell him as I give him the first proper hug since his return. He squeezes me to him and I melt to his side. Just like before. I fit into his arms more naturally; Ron’s not a bulky as Viktor, but he’s still muscled.
I know that I need to pull away before this gets to bad for me, I reluctantly follow the logical part of my brain.
“See you tonight?” he asks and honestly looks worried.
Oh. Tonight. That damn photographer ruined everything, now I’ll feel even worse going to visit Ron. I probably shouldn’t so that when the article comes out I can deny it to Viktor and honestly tell him that I just had lunch with him. Maybe I could even say that it was the first day when Viktor told me to follow Him. But I look at Ron, he’s smiling at me waiting for me to tell him yes.
I know I shouldn’t go for so many reasons, many more that had just been added, but I can’t resist Him. He’s my weakness now and has always been, “Yeah, I’ll see you tonight,” I smile at him.
“Great,” his smile grows, “I’m buying pizza. You have to try this new topping that I just had. It’s so good.”
“What is it?” I ask.
“It’s a surprise!” he smiles.
“Ron!” I sigh, “Fine. I do need to get to work, though. I have a ton of work.”
“Yeah, I have to my office, too,” he says, “Later.”
“Later,” I smile, grab all my bags, and turn on the spot. I pop back into the Ministry and trudge up to my office.
“I’m back,” I announce as I drop my bags to the floor.
“Bully for you,” my boss grumbles from the other room; he’s probably sorting out a tough case.
Pulling out my work that I thought I would get doe during lunch, I sigh. The tremendous amount of worry I was feeling slowly edged away as I got lost in my work with the thought of helping Ron unpack tonight in the back of my mind.
“Aren’t you going home?” my boss asks me as he looks over my shoulder, his briefcase in his hand. Most of the surrounding offices and cubicles are dark, including his. Mine, however, remains lit as I highlight an important aspect of some illegal use of magic around a muggle case. I glance at the clock before I look up at him, it’s six forty.
“I just want to finish a few more cases,” I say, “you know how I hate to be behind.”
“Mrs. Krum, don’t work yourself too hard. Take off and go home,” he tells me stepping around my desk towards the door.
“I’ll be fine, sir,” I tell him, smiling.
“Alright,” he nods at me and leaves. As the door closes behind him, the smile on my face grows. Five more minutes. I was meeting Ron in the shaft in five minutes. The whole plan was working. My boss was convinced that I was staying late and I had already owled Viktor to tell him so. According to the plan, at eight-thirty I was supposedly going to Ginny’s house to help her with Teddy and Victoire because Bill and Fleur had an outing. That way, Viktor thought I was with Ginny after I worked late and he wouldn’t dare owl Bill or Fleur after the last dinner. And because he trusts me. If the plan went smoothly, I would be free until at least ten.
I pack my bag again with a few cases that I might have time to look over later (yeah, right) and pull my purse onto my desk.
I pull my coat on and decide to go ahead and leave. Sitting here will do me no good. I pick up my belongings and turn on the light as I head out the door. As I reach the shaft and it opens, I see a few people standing near the front but one red headed man standing in the back, smiling at me. I move past the front wall of people to stand next to Ron, “Hi,” I breathe.
“You came!” he said.
“Of course I came,” I tell him, confused, “why wouldn’t I?”
He shrugs and I stare at him wondering why he even thought that I wouldn’t show up. It made me feel good to know that the thought of me not showing up made him sad, though. Maybe he liked being with me as much I liked being with him… or maybe he thought that we were just friends. That was probably it, he had to be over me. I just hate that I couldn’t say the same about him. If I could, well, Viktor would be a whole lot happier.
“It’s not much, but I like it,” Ron says as he turns to doorknob and pushes open the door to his flat. He flicks on the light and it illuminates a small hallway that leads to what must be and a sitting room. I follow him into it, moving around the many piles of boxes, and see that it is a sitting room. There are many boxes stacked on the hardwood floors. I noticed that the walls were painted a nice gold and that the wall directly opposite of me contained a large fireplace, which was partly hidden by a maroon couch that faced it. In the right corner of the room there was another small hallway, probably leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms, and directly to my right on the wall I could have touched was a doorway that led to a small kitchen. Besides the couch, the only other furniture was a large wooden bookshelf, a coffee table, and two armchairs pushed off into a corner and piled with boxes, “Well, what do you think?”
“I like it!” I say. It was true. It had a homey feeling to it and was big enough for at least a small family of three to live in.
“Thanks, make yourself at home,” Ron says, then looks back at the door, “I stopped by the muggle pizza place earlier and told them to deliver the pizza here at seven, so it should be here soon.”
“Good, I’m starving,” I say. I walk over to the couch and set my stuff down beside it. I pull my wand out of my back pocket and start a fire in the fireplace. It was easy to make my self at home here, “I see we have some work to do,” I comment.
“Yeah, sorry,” Ron says, “I was thinking that we could start in here and in the entrance hallway thing; they have the most boxes. Some of it is kitchen stuff, like plates and glasses.”
I nod, “ I guess we can start by bringing all the stuff in here.”
Ron nods back and we set to work at carefully levitating the boxes on top of the piles in the hallway to the sitting room. I levitate the first one in and began to look for a label that will tell me where the box belongs. I bend over and move the box to examine all the sides, nothing. I lift it up and look at the bottom, “Hermione, are you okay?” Ron is looking at me weird.
“Yeah, I just can’t find where you labeled the box,” I answer putting it down and looking at him.
“Where I did what?” Ron raises an eyebrow at me.
“Labeled the boxes,” I repeat, “like wrote ‘kitchen’ or ‘bedroom’ or…” I stop as Ron looks more and more confused, “You didn’t label the boxes, did you?”
I groan, “Then how are we supposed to know what goes where?”
“I know!” Ron gets excited, “we open them up and then see what’s in them.”
I scowl at him, but his smile is contagious, “So thick,” I mutter as I use my wand to open the box.
“Hey, I’m not –” Ron’s retort is drowned out by the doorbell, “Food!” he says happily. I roll my eyes, one way mind, I swear. He disappears and I hear the front door open.
The box is filled with plates so I levitate it gently into the kitchen and start opening the box Ron had been looking at. I suck in a breath at it’s contents: books. Ron owns a whole box full of books!?
I’m sitting in my surprised position when Ron comes back with the pizza, “I have… what’s wrong?”
“Books,” I tell him.
He rolls his eyes, “Funny, Hermione, really,” He waves his wand with the hand not holding the pizza and the books slide away from us next to what looked like a bookshelf, “Well, since I don’t have a table set up yet, I guess right here will have to do,” he sits down beside me with the pizza.
It smells amazing, “What kind is it?”
Ron smiles as he sets the box in front of us, “You may think that I’m crazy, but I tried this back in Scotland and it’s amazing. You have to try it before you say you don’t like it, okay?”
I’m not going to lie; by now I’m kind of nervous as to what he has ordered on the pizza. But that look he’s giving me is irresistible, “Okay…”
He finishing opening the box and I gasp, “Oh Merlin!”
“I know, it looks gross, but –”
“This is my favorite!” I squeal as I take a slice of banana pizza, “but Viktor doesn’t like it much. I always make him order it.” I take a hue bite then realize that Ron’s not so happy anymore.
“You’re not going to make me eat this whole thing alone are you?” I ask.
He gives me a half-smile, “I guess not,” he takes a slice, “This really is the best, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I answer only understanding half of the meaning of his sentence, “it really is.”
Together we ate the whole large pizza and talked throughout the whole meal. Conversation came so easily with him. After we finished eating we had unpacked the kitchen and most of the sitting room together before Ron announced that he needed to get to work on his bedroom.
“Okay, I’ll finish this and you go start in there,” I tell him as I wave a few books onto a self.
“Are you sure?”
I nod as I pull another box near me, “Thanks, again, ‘Mione,” he says as he gets up, stretches and walks away. I sigh as I open the next box. Unpacking hadn’t been this … fun… in forever. Actually, not since a little less than four years ago when I moved into my first flat in London, Ron had helped me.
“Well, what do you think?” Hermione asked as she waved her hand at her small apartment. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to get her out of her parents house and near her new job at the ministry.
“It’s so… you,” Ron smiled at her as he snaked his arms around her waist and buried his head in her bushy hair.
Hermione placed her hands over Ron’s on her stomach, they were silent for a while, just absorbing each other presence. “Ron?” Hermione asked.
“Hmm?” he grunted into her hair.
“You’ll be here a lot, right?” Hermione asked, feeling foolish. She shouldn’t be scared about living on her own. She was an adult now for crying out loud, she shouldn’t have to ask her boyfriend to protect her.
“Of course, Hermione,” he turned her so that he faced her, “every night if you want me too.”
Hermione smiled up at him, “Well first you are going to have to help me unpack,” she told him.
“And why would I want to do that?” he asked playfully.
“Oh,” Hermione answered, “I think I can make it worth your while,” she laughed as Ron waggled his eyebrows and kissed her.
I smile at the memory. Those were the days. Those peaceful days after Voldemort but before the fight. Before the marriage. Before everything got so screwed up.
Peering in to see what was in the box, I noticed that the first layer was just tissue paper; whatever was in here was obviously valuable, breakable, or both. I took out the paper and set it to the side. Next was a rectangular object wrapped in an old Daily Prophet. I gently removed it and could tell immediately what it was: a large picture frame. The frames would go perfectly on the top shelf of the bookshelf.
I unwrapped it then flipped the elegant frame around to see what it was a picture of. It was of the whole Weasley family. It looked like it was taken during the summer as everyone was in short sleeves. Looking at the different faces I guessed that it was taken the summer before our second year because everyone looked so young. Mr. Weasley had his arm around Mrs. Weasley’s waist and Mrs. Weasley had her hand on Fred’s shoulder, obviously a warning to both the twins to not mess up the picture. Fred and George exchanged glances then laughed at the cameras. This caused Percy, who was standing next to them, to eye the twins suspiciously. Bill and Charlie stood behind and to either side of Percy, they were just smiling. Then my eyes fell on the right hand side of the picture, Ron had his arm draped over Ginny’s shoulder and she had hers around his waist. They were giggling like the young children they were and obviously very close. I smiled, this was the perfect Weasley family photo. I stood up and put it in the middle of the top shelf, this would definitely be the center.
I reached back down, picked up, and unwrapped the next picture. This one was of Harry, Ron, and I. I was sure that it was Colin Creevey that had taken it and wondered how Ron had gotten a hold of it. It was taken in fifth year one afternoon out by the lake, my hair was blowing in the breeze. Ron was in the middle with an arm draped in a brotherly way over Harry’s shoulders and the other draped much more carefully around me. In the picture, I keep looking up at Ron, then back at the camera and smiling. We look so happy. I set this picture to the right and reach down for the last frame in the box.
I flip it over and almost drop it. I can’t believe that he would have kept this picture all this time. Sure, I still had my copy, locked up in the attic with my Hogwarts stuff, but I guess I figured he would have dumped/burned/ripped it after… that night. But he hadn’t. He had bought an expensive frame for it and kept it with the other two pictures that were probably his favorites. I look down at it again and can’t help but smile sadly. Again, we look so happy. It was taken about three months after the war had ended, after we had first kissed, after we were finally a couple. “Let’s get a picture of the world’s most bickering couple!” Ginny had said. She had unattached herself from Harry’s side and grabbed a camera off the table at the Burrow. I had looked at Ron and he had smiled back at me and shrugged. I hugged his waist and he slung his arm over me in a loving way. I remember smiling without having to even think about it.
“Hermione?” Ron calls be back from my memories, “I need your help… again.”
“Coming!” I called back and placed one of my favorite pictures to the left of the Weasley family picture. I looked at it for one last second, glad that I had proof those times weren’t just a dream, then turned and walked down the hallway and into Ron’s bedroom, “Yeah?” I ask.
I look around, where is he? I hear a grunt from my left and see him bent over a small muggle television with what must have been a cable wire in his hand, “What are you doing?” I laugh.
“Well,” he straightens up, “this is a muggle apartment, so it has fable like my old one, and I can’t remember how the guy in Scotland attached this damn fable wire!” he explains.
“You know what cable is?” I marvel.
“Of course, I’m hopelessly addicted so some of the shows,” He scoffs.
I laugh, “Okay, then,” I move closer to see what he is doing. He hands me the wire. After a while (I hadn’t done this in about twenty years) I found the outlet in the T.V. and plugged it in.
“Great!” Ron exclaims, “let’s see if it works,” he pushes the power button with much more force than necessary. Nothing happens, “What’s wrong now?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I say, I look back at the back of the T.V. The cable is plugged in, the electric outlet… my eyes follow the wire until I see the plug just laying on the floor, “You didn’t plug it in, Ronald.” I say as I walk over and insert the plug into the outlet, “Now try.”
“ – and now for the weather! Can we expect another beautiful day, Mike?” the anchor mans voice rings through the room.
“Success!” Ron punches the air.
I laugh. He turns to me, “What would I do without you, Hermione?”
I pretend to think, “Read the muggle paper?”
“Something like that,” he grins and folds me into a hug.
Again, I melt into him. Again, I feel lousy as I’m reminded that I shouldn’t feel like this in the arms of another man. Again, I ignore these and many other feelings and hug Ron back, happy to have a moment with him. We pull apart and I feel empty. After I leave, which I should do soon, when will I see him again? How will I see him again? Then I remember another photograph: the one that was taken just earlier today. The one that might just throw my life into even more craziness and lying and chaos than it already is.
I think I need another hug.
A/N: Sorry for the long-ish wait on this chapter. But I had to get the next chapter and stuf done (it's a goal of mine, I can't post a chapter until i have the one after it completed). =D
But yeah, I'm actually at school right now, on exm review day, my first exam tomorrow and still I'm posting.
But actually I have to go. Math Review. Oh the joy.
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