Chapter 10 : “You Are Invited to Dinner…”
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He reached the bottom of the stairs and was about to turn right toward the kitchen when he caught a glimpse of them through the half-closed door of the sitting room. He crept slowly to the door and looked at them both as they lay, fast asleep, on the couch. Hermione lay with her head in Sirius’s lap, using him as a pillow, while Sirius slept upright in what looked like an uncomfortable position. From the peaceful look on Sirius’s face, Remus concluded that Sirius just hadn’t had the heart to move Hermione.
Remus smiled as he took one last look and quietly closed the door. He knew that this was just the beginning. But after all they had been through, it was great to see two of his best friends so obviously happy.
Molly Weasley smiled as she pulled her head back from the Floo. After retrieving her purse, she made her way back to the Floo and grabbed a handful of the powder from the pot on the mantle. She had just spoken to Ron, demanding that he come over for dinner that night. Although he would rather have gone with Harry to a party their dorm was having, he relented and agreed to be there by seven sharp. Now all she had to do was make sure Hermione would be attending as well.
Molly had it all planned; a few moments into dinner an owl would arrive with an urgent message for Arthur and herself requesting them to attend an emergency meeting at Hogwarts with the other school Governors. After insisting that Ron and Hermione not waste the good food, Molly and Arthur would depart, and the stage would be set for a night of romance. She was sure that such an evening alone would help Ron and Hermione along toward an engagement. She threw the powder into the fireplace and stepped into the green flames. “Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place!” she proclaimed clearly, before disappearing in a swirl of green fire.
Mere moments later Molly was dusting herself off in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. She wondered if anyone was home, since the house was so quiet. Determined as she was to make this dinner happen, she set off to search the house for Hermione. As she approached Hermione’s bedroom she softened her steps and paused to listen at the door. Not hearing anything, she carefully opened the door and peeked in. A frown marred her face as she saw the condition of the room. It was a little dusty from lack of use and the bed was not even in the room. She scowled, wondering why Hermione had not moved back into her room yet. Surely Sirius can get around by himself by now! Molly thought stiffly as she made her way up to the third floor to check their room. When she reached the door she opened it without bothering to knock or be quiet. She frowned again when she noticed the room was empty. She quickly checked the bathroom and after finding it empty as well she left to search the rest of the house.
She found the kitchen still empty—as were the lab, the ballroom, the study, the library, and the storage room. That left only the sitting room. Molly froze as she opened the sitting room door and found Sirius and Hermione asleep—and in a rather compromising position, in her opinion. Anger at both of them swept over her as she thought how upset Ron would be if he had been the one to find them like this. Her mind went to work as she contemplated how to put a stop to this once and for all—for Ron’s sake, of course. Seconds ticked by as she sifted through ideas and solutions. She could summon Ron and let him deal with the situation, she thought, then shook her head at the idea. She wouldn’t like to see her son resort to violence, as she was sure he would if he was to see his Hermione in such a situation.
Molly moved quietly to the side of the room when Hermione shifted a little in her sleep, but she settled down again without waking up. When Molly was sure they were both still sleeping soundly—to her annoyance—she considered some other options.
Suddenly it hit her. The perfect solution for all involved. After all, she respected Sirius Black for his help in the war, but that was the only kind feeling Molly felt for the man who was trying to steal her future daughter-in-law away from her and her poor son. Her decision made, she pulled out her wand….
Remus smiled as he poured a couple of drinks while listening to Sirius share about the “best date ever” in great detail.
“You should have seen her face light up when she was introduced to Queen Anne, Mooney. It was definitely the best choice for a first-date impression. And the kiss, Mooney! It was nothing short of magical….”
“I’m happy for you both, Padfoot,” Remus said as he carefully handed Sirius his drink, making sure the other man had a good grip on the glass before taking his own seat. “So when are you going to ask her to marry you?” he asked, tongue in cheek.
Sirius actually blushed a bit before he replied, “Slow down there, Mooney. I may be new to this ‘real dating’ thing, but I still know better than to rush things,” he replied confidently, before a contemplative look crossed his face. “Remus, do you think she would say yes if I did? I…I mean, not right now, of course, I’m not crazy. But eventually, if the dating thing really works out better than it already has. Do you think she could marry a blind man who’s nearly twice her age?”
Remus leaned forward and cleared his throat. “Sirius, first off, the age difference shouldn’t matter at all. Remember, we’re not Muggles. We’re wizards, who live nearly twice as long as Muggles, which means you’re still in your prime and not too old for a mature young woman like Hermione. Secondly, she’s already made it clear that your being blind doesn’t affect her feelings toward you as a friend or a…‘boyfriend’. Thirdly, I think she could barely manage a blink before accepting a proposal from you, old friend.”
Sirius couldn’t help the sappy smile that lit up his face as he sat back and contemplated his best friend’s words. At that moment only one thought was coherent in his mind: one day, he would ask Hermione to marry him.
Hermione hummed aloud as she chopped the ingredients for another batch of the memory phial potions. Several Order members had already owled her for more, not to mention the amount she thought it would take to bottle up her first date with Sirius. She smiled wistfully as memories of their kiss surfaced for the umpteenth time that morning. She had kissed only a few wizards in her years. The first had been Victor Krum, in her fourth year. Then there was the fiasco that was her brief “relationship” with Ron. And of course she had kissed Harry, George, and Fred. Of course, those kisses weren’t really romantic as much as spontaneous in the few minutes of utter elation after they’d found each other alive and knew the war was officially over.
She was so deep in thought that she started when an owl suddenly landed in front of her and held out its foot with a letter attached. Hermione carefully swept her chopped ingredients to the side and untied the letter. She gave the owl a treat and then she opened the letter. It read…:
I hope I’m not bothering you, dear, but I was hoping you could make it for dinner tonight with Arthur and me. Fred and George are not sure if they can be there, so I’m counting on you to attend. Please respond immediately. I do hope you come, dear.
The good mood Hermione had been in since waking that morning was officially gone. She had always respected and cared for the Weasleys. But lately Molly Weasley had been nothing but a nosey, selfish woman who could not get the idea of “Ron and Hermione” out of her head. Hermione groaned as she picked up her quill and replied that she would be there at seven for dinner. Hopefully Mrs. Weasley has gotten the idea of Ron and I me marrying out of her head, Hermione thought as she stored the ingredients she had already prepared and went upstairs to get ready for dinner.
Molly checked the mirror one more time to make sure the glamour was in place and she looked different enough that she would not be recognized. After the war, even Molly Weasley had been in the Daily Prophet a few times. She quickly made her way from her room to the Apparation point out front. In the blink of an eye she appeared at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. She went inside and headed straight for the semi-secluded booth at the back and waited patiently for the reporter.
Rita Skeeter arrived precisely on time and greeted the woman with a skeptical look displayed plainly on her face. “Mrs. Weely, is it? Let me be frank. I’m only here this evening on the off chance that you may actually have a big story to tell me about Mr. Black and his mystery woman, as you put it in your letter. This had better be good, because if you’ve read the Daily Prophet lately you know that the many witches he frolics with are becoming old news….”
“Oh, I assure you this story will bring the Prophet plenty of attention. I have proof that Mr. Black is dating Hermione Granger. And it’s not a little dalliance like the others; he’s actually serious about this young woman. It seems, from what I have gathered, that they grew close when she started to help him adjust to his, er, blindness,” Mrs. Weasley said quietly, leaning across the table on the last word. She could practically see the drool forming at the corner of Rita’s mouth.
“Let me get this straight. Sirius Black is now blind and he’s been dallying with Hermione Granger? Hermione Granger of the Golden Trio? Hermione Granger who is one of Harry Potter’s best friends?” Rita asked quietly. She had pulled out her Quick Quotes Quill and set it to scribbling at an alarming rate.
“Yes, that is exactly the Hermione Granger I mean. And there’s more! I also know for a fact that since Sirius was blinded, she’s been sleeping in his room on the pretence that he needs someone close by at all times until he adjusts to his condition. Her room is dusty, it’s been so long since she occupied it—and her bed is right next to his, though I doubt she uses it any more, if you get my meaning,” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed, beginning to find that she rather liked this “snitching”.
Rita took a breath as she considered this information, the Quick Quotes Quill scribbling even faster to catch up. “All right. Obviously if this is true, it’s going to cost me something. What are you charging for proof?” Rita asked carefully.
“That’s simple really. I want it in writing that half the profits you make on this story, or should I say on any story related to this first one, you will donate to the Order of the Phoenix. I’m a rather sympathetic supporter of that organization. And the donations so far for all those poor families that gave so much to this war have been paltry, to put it mildly. This story will be huge, and the money generated—or at least half of it—should be put to good use. Do we have a deal?” Mrs. Weasley asked nervously. She had debated what her condition should be for the information exchange, but she knew that raising funds this way would be much easier than all the charity dinners they’d thrown so far. At least some good will come out of this betrayal of my future daughter-in-law, Mrs. Weasley convinced herself, the thought assuaging her conscience.
“Yes, Mrs. Weely. We have a deal. It should only take me a few hours to draw up the agreement. What do you say we meet back here at six to finalize the exchange?”
Mrs. Weasley wondered if six would be cutting it too close. “Fine, but no later, Miss Skeeter. I have an appointment to keep this evening. I’ll see you then,” she replied as she swept out of the booth and hurried to the Apparation point outside.
Rita sat for a few moments and pondered her new source of information. There was something familiar about the woman, but it escaped her at the moment. She knew from her unseen spell that the woman was definitely in disguise. More than likely a glamour, she concluded. Her mind went over the people who were known friends and associates of Hermione Granger and Sirius Black. That’s when it hit her. The woman was not a fan of Sirius Black, to put it mildly. It was the way she had relayed this information that made it so obvious. The tone of her voice was recognizable, now that Rita thought about it. It was something she had noticed for some time; the tension was minor, but obvious to someone as snoopy as Rita Skeeter. Her source had to be Molly Weasley.
A/N: Whew… finally it’s here! I hope you liked it. Please read and review! (Edited 11-7-08)
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