Chapter 1 : A Photo for the Album
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“Um…do you think we could have the special desserts and champagne I ordered?” He said.
“Of course sir; right away.” The waiter turned and walked back towards the kitchens, his bottle green robes billowing behind him.
“Special desserts? Champagne? I am being treated tonight! Are you sure you can afford this?” Hermione leant across the table and placed her hand over Ron’s.
He smiled sheepishly “Don’t worry about it. It’s your birthday! Of course I want to treat you!”
Hermione smiled warmly at him and then moved her arm as the waiter placed two large slabs of Honeydukes Chocolate Gateaux in front of them. Beside him another, slightly taller, man in the same green robes appeared holding out a bottle of champagne.
“Is this bottle ok for you sir?”
“Uh….yeah, thanks!” Ron replied, looking briefly at the label. Hermione gasped as the waiter popped the cork and sent sparkles showering over their table. But it was not the sparkles that made her gasp; it was what they formed as they fell. In Ron’s hand now sat a simple gold band inlaid with a single diamond.
“Ron…!” Hermione said breathlessly.
“Hermione….you mean the world to me. And I love you. I love you more than Quidditch in the orchard on a summer’s day. I love you more than a large slab of Honeydukes finest!” Hermione giggled, “I don’t know how I could ever live without you….and I hope I never have to. You are my best friend, most trusted advisor and most loyal companion. So…” Ron tittered nervously, the top of his ears turning a shade of brightest pink,” Would you, Hermione Jean Granger, do me the greatest honour and become my wife?”
“Yes!” Hermione said through the tears that were now streaming down her face. Ron leant forward and kissed her full on the lips, not seeming to notice the rest of the restaurant watching and applauding. She broke away and smiling, looked down at her left hand. There on her fourth finger shone a beautiful diamond ring.
“Oh Ron! I love it! It’s beautiful!”
“I’m glad. It took me long enough to choose it….Harry was a great help though.”
“Harry knew?!” Hermione exclaimed
“Oh, yeah...sorry about that! But I really needed help with the ring and the lady in the shop was really confusing going on about cuts and carrots. I told her I didn’t want any carrots, I just wanted a ring! I don’t think that she was quite right…y’know?!” Hermione laughed happily.
“You muppet, Ron! She meant the diamond!”
“Oh yeah…right; of course!”
“Come on! Let’s go and tell your parents! And then we must visit mine! And Ginny! And Bill and Fleur! Oh! And have you told Neville?!” Hermione gabbled excitedly, standing up from the table.
“Alright…but calm down! You are going to do yourself some damage…and I want you alive for our wedding day!” Ron grinned, taking her arm and leading her out of the restaurant into the warm autumn air. They found a reasonably secluded spot and held onto each other firmly. They both turned and vanished in mid air with a small pop sound.
Moments later the two of them arrived at the end of the path way that lead up to a ramshackle house. The sign that hung on a creaking metal frame said ‘The Burrow’. Through the window they could see a red headed woman fussing over a stove, chatting animatedly to a balding man in spectacles that sat at the wooden table reading a newspaper. Ron took Hermione’s hand and led her down the path, waving through the window to his mother.
The door flew open and there, stood with her arms wide open, was Molly Weasly.
“Hi mum!” Ron said as he approached the door and gave his mother the mandatory hug.
“Hello Molly! How are you?” Hermione asked, she too stepping into an embrace.
“I’m fine my darling! How are you?!”
“Really good! In fact, we’ve got some news for you!”
“Well come on in! I’ll just put the kettle on!” Molly flicked her wand at the kettle, which immediately filled with water and set itself upon the already hot stove. “Arthur, Ron has some news!”
“Really son? What’s that?” Arthur Weasly put down the paper he was reading and pushed his wonky glasses further up his nose expectantly.
“Well….Hermione do you want to…?” Ron said, looking down at her.
“We’re getting married!” She said, beaming so hard that her smile nearly split her face in two. Shrieks of joy erupted from Mrs. Weasly and they were both forced into another bear hug. Mr. Weasly stood up and walked over to the drinks cabinet in the corner of the room.
“I think that this calls for a celebration! Firewhisky all round!” He smiled as he poured out the drinks. “To Ron and Hermione, may you be as happy as your mother and I have been all these years!”
They all raised their glasses and took a sip. Mrs. Weasly burst into tears.
“Mum! What’s wrong?!” Ron said worriedly. The last thing he had wanted to do was upset his mother.
“Oh it’s nothing! It’s just….oh! My little boy! Getting married! I can remember the days when all you used to talk about was Quidditch and the Weird Sisters!”
“I can promise you there Molly…that hasn’t changed in the slightest!” The two women laughed and hugged each other.
“Well mum, dad, we best be off…we are going to visit Hermione’s parents next. Tell them the good news!”
“Ok darlings! But you two be safe! Oh another wedding! I can’t wait! Goodbye!”
Ron and Hermione waved good bye and again turned at the top of the path, vanishing in mid air. They felt the familiar squeezing sensation and when it stopped they found themselves in a sunny suburban street. Mr. and Mrs. Granger lived at number 52, which was at the other end of the road but as they were both in Muggle dress it did not matter that they had to walk. When they got insight of the house Hermione stopped Ron in his tracks.
“You know what Ron?” she said, looking up into his big blue eyes.
“What?” Ron replied, his arms around her waist, holding her close.
“I really love you!” She leant up and kissed him playfully on the lips.
“And guess what?! I kinda like you too!” he grinned down at her.
“Good!” She slipped her arm through his and together they walked up to the front door and rung the doorbell. Through the stained glass they could see the silhouette of a woman coming closer.
“Greg!” they heard her shout, “It’s Hermione!” She pulled open the door and smiled at her daughter. She had the same slightly bushy hair and over-large front teeth (although Hermione had never told them that she had hers magically shrunk, back in the fourth year, she let them think that the braces had done their job…she knew what they were like about magical quick fixes). She wasn’t the tallest lady but her smile lit up the small hallway. Hermione let go of Ron’s hand and threw her arms around her mother.
“Baby! How are you?! We haven’t seen you in ages!” Greg Granger said as he stepped past his wife to kiss his daughters forehead. A tall man with greying temples and moustache, Greg Granger had a look of foreboding. But the sparkle that was visible in his eyes immediately diminished all feelings of intimidation.
“Hello Daddy!” Hermione said smiling.
“Ron.” Greg nodded kindly in his direction and shook his hand.
“Mr. Granger. Fantastic to see you again!”
“And you too my boy! Now come on in both of you! Let’s sit down and have a proper old catch up! Have I told you about my new surgery?” Mr. Granger showed them through to a comfortably furnished sitting room and they sank into a comfy old settee.
“Daddy…” Hermione started.
“Right! Teas are ready!” Mrs. Granger came in and placed a steaming pot of tea on the coffee table in front of them.
“Sit down Mum! Stop fussing we have something to tell you!”
“You’re not pregnant darling are you?!” Mrs. Granger exclaimed
“No!” Hermione laughed, “No, it’s nothing like that! Well…we’re getting married!”
“Oh baby! Congratulations the both of you!”
Mr. Granger stood up, insisting that this momentous occasion demanded a family photo for the albums and despite Hermione protestations they posed on the sofa, arms around each other with huge grins plastered on their faces.
“Aww! That makes such a lovely picture!” Hermione’s mother said softly.
“Susan…you’re embarrassing the poor girl! Now; why don’t we call your auntie Julie in New York, tell her the good news, yes?” Greg said already reaching for the telephone. Ron thought shrewdly of how much his father would like the Grangers and their hi-tech home. He would have a field day, his mother; however, he was not so sure about!
* * * * * * * * * *
Over in a small, dark office a man with scruffy black hair and glasses was pouring over a pile of parchment, crossing things out occasionally and making notes in the margins. The door opened a crack and a pretty woman with long red hair stood watching the man work.
“Can I get you anything?” she said quietly as not to break calm.
“No, I’m fine.” The man replied shortly, not even looking up from the notes that he was now re-reading.
“Are you sure? You seem a bit stressed.”
“I told you. I’m fine! I just have to get this back to Kingsley by tomorrow and some moron went and used a Quick Quotes Quill…it has written complete rubbish and I specifically told them not to!” Now he was crossing out great chunks of writing, his patience obviously wearing thin.
“Ok. Well dinner will be on the table in ten minutes.” The woman turned and started to close the door. From inside the room she heard “I’m not hungry”. She sighed and shut the door fully. She walked over to the table and sat down. The lamp in the corner filled the room with an orange glow which became ever more prominent as the sun began to set. The mood was dark; she couldn’t remember when things had last been this bad. Despite the fantastic weather they had been having, Harry had been becoming more and more drawn in. Locking himself in that god awful study of his and working until the early hours on the morning. Ginny knew that he loved his job…it was what he had dreamed of, but in a way she resented it. It was fast becoming his first love. Not her but the office and everything that was associated with it. Documents, constant owls and long business trips meant she hardly had time to see him anymore. That combined with the long hard trials and training that she had to do if ever she wanted to achieve her dream of playing for the Holyhead Harpies. Not that that was any closer than it had ever been. He had his dream…why couldn’t she have hers?
The timer binged on the cooker and she called though to Harry. He sat down still going through his papers.
“Can’t you just leave them for a bit?” Ginny asked exasperatedly.
“No. It needs to be done.” He replied, a sharp tone edging into his voice.
“Fine, but not at the table. I want to talk to you for once. I have barely seen you these past few weeks!”
“I’m sorry.” Harry put the parchment to one side laying his quill carefully on top of them. “It has been hectic at work. Kingsley is talking of promoting someone in our office and the Lestrange boys are wreaking havoc in Knockturn Alley…trying to sell people crap that doesn’t work. Just curses their ears off instead. And not in a nice and clean way either….had to send a couple of our Aurors to help catch the scoundrels…it’s not even as if they are going to get done for anything. The people over in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement aren’t going to do anything about it…they see it as below them to deal with a matter as simple as a couple of crooked wizards selling stupid messy curses…oh no! They have much more important things to deal with! Thanks darling that was lovely.”
And with that he left his chair to disappear back into his office. Ginny sighed deeply in a resigned sort of way and started to clear the plates. She could, of course, have done it by magic but this evening she wanted to do it the old fashioned way. It gave her something else to think about…other than how her relationship was rapidly going down the pan and how fast her dreams of becoming a professional Quidditch player were disappearing. She wondered as she filled the bowl with hot soapy water, how Ron and Hermione were. She hadn’t seen them in weeks and she knew today was Hermione’s birthday. She hoped with all her heart that her day had been better than her own. She remembered her last birthday. It had been a beautiful day much like this one, although a little hotter as it was the height of summer, Harry had taken her on a picnic. The sun had been beating down on them as they sat by a lake watching the birds dipping and diving trying to catch the flies that hovered above the water. The sound of the bird song and rustling of leaves as an intermittent breeze wafted through the trees. They had laughed that day. Harry had looked down at her and told her how much he loved her and how he never wanted to let her go. She wished that everyday could be like that one. Ginny dried her hands went into the small bedroom that they shared and got out an old tattered box from under the bed. She opened the lid and tipped its contents onto the bed looking for something that made her feel better every time she looked at it. She found it; an old photo of the original Order of the Phoenix and a newer one of Dumbledore’s Army. Ginny loved that picture. They all looked so happy and although they were risking a lot to be there, they loved it. The youthful faces beamed up at her as though they were sharing a private joke…and they were; the joke that Umbridge had no idea as to what they were up to, no idea that they were rebelling against all that she and the Ministry were teaching them. She put everything back in the box and slipped it under the bed.
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