Chapter 40 : Second Half of the Second, First Date
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“It’s a good thing Ron has a good excuse for ignoring Hermione.” Ginny grumbled as she looked at that morning’s Prophet. “Maybe now he’ll have time for her.”
“What are you on about?” Harry asked as he pulled his cloak off.
He had just arrived back from the countryside, where he was visiting with Teddy and Andromeda.
Ginny stared up in surprise. She hadn’t even noticed Harry coming in.
“Oh, just Ron being his pratish self. He went off and snogged Hermione and then didn’t owl her for over four days.” Ginny set the paper down and took a sip of her pumpkin juice.
“Wait? They snogged?” Harry plopped into the seat across from Ginny and looked at her in wonder.
“Yep. Apparently he had to go off on a mission and was holed up in some flat for a few days. Still think he could have sent an owl or a patronus, though.” Ginny had been sour ever since she heard about Ron’s lack of contact. Even with his excuse, Ginny couldn’t find it in her heart to forgive him for setting her plans back.
“There was a mission? Damn. I was hoping to be with Ron when he went on his first assignment.”
Ginny just ‘humphed’ and took another large gulp of her juice.
“You know we can’t get in touch when we are on assignment, Gin.” Harry said in his placating tone, one which grated on Ginny’s ever frayed nerves.
“Gin…” He rose from his chair and made his way to her side of the kitchen table.
“What?” She snapped back.
“Ginny…” His voice was low and husky; she tried her best to ignore the shivers that it sent up her spine.
“What?” Her voice rang out a little louder than she intended.
“Ginevra…” Harry whispered in her ear.
“Wh-what?” She choked out, not a trace of irritation in her tone.
“C’mere.” He pulled her up and towards him, planting a slow, seductive kiss on her lips. He really knew how to pull her strings, she thought, but instead of minding she threw herself even deeper into their kiss.
Harry pulled away and eyed her lasciviously. She took in his own form as he took in hers, baby belly and all. She was just about to drag him back towards her, needing to feel him against her once more, when she noticed him stiffen.
His eyes had landed on The Prophet Ginny had tossed on the table. It was folded, but the face of Reynolds could be seen flashing on the front. Instead of reaching for her, as Ginny was hoping he would, he grasped for the paper instead. His eyes darted back and forth along the page that was now opened up in full spread before him.
“What in the…” Harry threw the paper down, barely looked in Ginny’s direction as he stormed towards the door, grasping his cloak on the way out. “I’ll be back later, gotta go to the office,” his voice called out as the door to the kitchen swung open and then shut behind him.
Ginny’s foul mood came back in full force, this time it had the added benefit of dissatisfaction in it. God save anyone who passed her way today.
“It’s just so hard to believe!” Hermione wondered incredulously.
“Tell me about it. I almost passed out when I saw who it was.” Ron forked a piece of the chocolate cake he was splitting with Hermione.
“How did you know he wasn’t just out there trying to help?” She asked as she savored the last bite of chocolate in her mouth.
“Veritaserum. Besides, he was supposed to be on another case all together. He assigned the lowest people on the totem pole to this case. Probably hoping none of us would be bright enough to figure it out.” Ron grimaced at this idea.
“But you did!” Hermione beamed at him in support. She could see his face redden slightly and he smiled sheepishly at her.
“Yeah.” He sat up a little straighter in his chair.
Hermione couldn’t help but think about how cute he was when he started to believe in himself. It was nice knowing she was still able to bolster him up like that.
“So, what now?” She asked.
“Well there’s going to be a trial. And all of the people Reynolds has had a hand in putting away are going to have their cases re-evaluated. He really mucked things up. It’s too bad, too, because some of the people who do deserve to be in Azkaban will get away once an appeal is made.”
Hermione just nodded. It amazed her how someone so smart could have been so stupid. His blind hatred towards anything Death Eater had eroded his sense. Like Barty Crouch before him, Reynolds decided to take the law into his own hands, deciding who was innocent and who was guilty.
He had been planting cursed ‘knick-knacks’ all over England and finding some rumored Death Eater to blame it on. His most recent attempt had been to target Nott and then Malfoy; furious that they were getting away with Ron’s kidnapping, even though neither of them really had had anything to do with it.
Though Nott was going to be in trouble for his memory charm on Ron, apparently that wasn’t enough for Reynolds.
“It’s a big mess all right.”
“They said they are going to have to hire a whole new team to evaluate the cases. It’s going to take years to get it all sorted out.”
Hermione’s ears couldn’t help but perk up at this. “Which department is going to be taking this on?” She asked in an offhanded manner.
“Magical Law Enforcement, I think.” Ron said as he scratched at the side of his face.
Hermione couldn’t help but break into a broad smile. She had been looking for a job ever since Draco sent the divorce papers. She had wanted to try and get her old job back, but her boss informed her that there was just no way, he just didn’t have the budget to hire on anyone else. He truly looked sad about it too, but now there was going to be a new team made; she knew she could get one of those slots.
“What are you so happy about? It’s going to be a horrible pain in the arse to clean this guy’s mess up.”
“Nothing. It’s just, well, I think I can get one of those new openings.” She placed her napkin neatly on the table. “I’ve been dreadfully bored ever since the book’s been finished. And I will need a job if I ever want to get out of my parent’s house.”
“Didn’t Malfoy give you anything when he left you? Stingey bastard,” Ron scowled.
“Yes, he was more than generous. But I could not accept it,” Hermione said in a clipped tone. “I would appreciate it if you would not be so negative about him in front of me. He was a good husband, and he is a good man.” Ron’s scowl became even more pronounced, but Hermione continued. “I am serious, Ron. He doesn’t deserve your derision.”
“Fine,” Ron conceded, but he crossed his arms in petulance. “I will try to be more understanding, but I won’t like him, Hermione. And you can’t make me.”
He sounded so much like a five year old that Hermione felt the irrepressible need to roll her eyes, but she couldn’t keep the small grin from playing on her face either. He was cute even when he was acting like a baby.
“So what now?” Hermione asked as the waitress handed Ron the check.
He left a small tip to make up for the debacle from earlier in the evening.
“You’ll see.” He winked at her, and was pleased to see her flush.
Grabbing her hand, Ron took her from her seat and led them out of the bistro. Her hand felt small and soft in his. Tiny bolts of electricity shot up his arm as they walked to their next destination. It wasn’t far, and though it was cold, Ron could hardly feel the bite of the wind.
He brought them in front of an old book shop, Books and Crannies, and looked to see Hermione’s eyes widen and dance in the faint light of the street lamp.
“You wanna go in?”
She just nodded her head and walked into the store as if in a trance. You would think that she hadn’t been in a book store in years, Ron thought. The truth was, this was not just any book store.
This was the store where Hermione bought her very first book all by herself. Not to mention that it was a magical book store. It had a habit of moving around. Sometimes it would be located in Peru, then a moment after you left it would be in a small town in Texas. Hermione had told Ron she had searched for the bookstore for years after that day.
She had only enough money to buy one book at the time, Hogwarts; A History.
“How did you find it?” Hermione asked in awe.
Ron shrugged, “Looked it up in one of the directories at the Ministry. All magical shops and stores need to register if they want to operate in this country.”
She looked up and beamed at him. “I should have thought of that.”
Ron turned away in embarrassment and tried to hold back the smile that was itching to cross his face.
“Well, c’mon.” He said as he pulled her further into the store.
The store was warm, a vast difference from the frosty temperatures of outside. Hermione rubbed her other hand along the back of their entwined fingers before dragging him through the shop.
The lady who worked there just smiled as they, or rather, Hermione perused the shelves. They came upon a large Quidditch section and Hermione let Ron run wild, which he found easy enough to do.
They sat next to each other in leather high backed chairs, each engrossed in their own reading. Every few minutes though, Ron would look up and catch eyes with Hermione. They would share a sheepish smile and then go back to browsing.
Hermione found seventeen books that she wanted to buy, while Ron actually ended up with three. Two on Quidditch and one called The Unseeable Man, a book full of ways to sneak about without detection. Something he thought would be helpful if he was going to be expected to go on these scouting expeditions often.
“It’s ‘bout time ta close up,” the woman from behind the counter said in a slow southern drawl.
They brought their purchases to the front of the shop. Ron helped carry quite a few of Hermione’s selections.
“How am I ever going to find this place again?” Hermione asked the sales clerk.
“We come the third Saturday a month to London, you just hafta look fer us. Of course we also can come by appointment, but only if it’s a very special need.” She then winked at Ron. He was grateful that the stack of Hermione’s books was covering his face, for there was no hiding the crimson color creeping up his cheeks.
Four large bags of books later and they were back out in the cold, the dim lights of the shop fading to nothing behind them.
“I can’t believe you found that store for me.” Hermione gushed.
“It was nothing.” Ron brushed off.
“Nothing? That was wonderful. I can’t believe you remembered.” She paused for a second, probably thinking about how memories could be a sore subject for Ron, and then continued, “I mean, I must have told you that in third year. It’s been ages since I have even thought about it.”
Ron would have shrugged, but he was weighed down by the majority of the books.
“I wouldn’t have forgotten. It was the day that I first realized that I liked you as, y’know, more than a friend.”
“Oh.” It was Hermione’s turn to blush yet again.
“You wanna come back to the burrow? Mum’ll probably make us hot chocolate.” Merlin, how lame was it that he was still living at home with his parents?
“That’d be nice.”
Ron couldn’t help but stumble upon apparating to The Burrow. Not that anyone can blame him with three bags of books and Hermione in his arms. She dropped her bag and came quickly to help balance him, though with her small frame and his much larger one, it didn’t really help much.
They found themselves twisted together in the snow, books strewn across the lawn.
Laughter spilled from Hermione’s lips, and though Ron was frustrated and embarrassed at first, he couldn’t help but start laughing along with her. He methodically untangled himself and leaned on his arm to watch as Hermione continued to chuckle.
Her cheeks were wind-blown and her chocolate eyes danced as her chest heaved up and down in mirth.
“You are so beautiful,” he said, though it was meant to be only in his head.
She stopped laughing.
Snow clung to her hair as she, too, rose and propped herself on one arm. There was no hesitation, Ron swept in and kissed her thoroughly. The snow melted between them as the kiss heated up. Ron put his hand up to her side and slowly began to run it along her body. He was just about to cup her breast when Hermione quickly pushed him away.
“The books!” She all but shouted, and began to scramble up and gather the books into the bags.
Ron groaned, but picked himself up and began to gather the books as well.
They were sitting in living room of The Burrow, hot chocolate warming their bodies, when Hermione decided to broach the subject again.
“So, third year huh?” She looked up from behind her steaming cup.
“Wha-, oh, er… yes.”
She couldn’t stop the giggle from escaping; Ron just looked so cute when he didn’t know what to say.
“I knew in third year, too.” Hermione was a little shocked with herself for admitting it. They had never really had this conversation the first time around.
He jerked slightly, enough to spill a bit of the hot chocolate onto his lap, which of course caused him to jerk even more. Now his entire cup was spilled on the couch and the floor, not to mention down his shirt and the front of his trousers.
“Ow! Fuck!” He cried out in pain.
Hermione carefully put her mug down and waved her wand, shooting a cooling charm in his direction. He settled back into the couch, waving his own wand now that he wasn’t in scalding pain.
“I remember feeling bad that Harry couldn’t come with us to Hogsmeade, but at the same time…” Hermione cast her eyes down, “I was excited to be alone with you.” Her eyelashes shuttered back up and she met his piercing stare of bewilderment.
“That’s when you told me about the book shop. Right before we got to the Shrieking Shack.”
“And you remembered.” Her voice was soft and her fingers gripped the mug of chocolate she had picked back up.
“I never forget what you tell me.” One side of her mouth quirked upwards. “Okay, well except for all that rubbish you spew from books. That I just never hear in the first place.”
Ron shot her a lopsided grin and it sent tingles down her spine. Merlin, how she wanted to be kissing him! To feel his hands all over her. A blush crept up slowly on her face from her heady thoughts. One look in his direction would surely make her needs impossible to suppress. She instead became fascinated with the intricate weave of the chair she was sitting on. She had never noticed the slight hints of green that were interwoven with the brownish, yellow. It was a pretty green. Like fresh sage.
Focused on the fabric as she was, she didn’t register that Ron was no longer sitting back on the couch, and was instead stooping in front of her. He lifted her chin with his finger and pulled her into a standing position.
There was no resisting. There was no need. When their lips met, Hermione forgot everything but the feel of him. Her fingers crept up on his back, beneath his shirt. She could feel the small pin pricks of goose bumps on his back, and she relished the knowledge that she had done that to him.
He made a low moan when her nails scratched lightly down his spine. Now it was her turn to have goose bumps. His lips detached from hers and he trailed kisses along her neck and collar bone.
Oh, how she had missed this! Hermione’s mind went completely blank except for the warm feel of his breath on her neck and behind her ear. His fingers deftly began to unbutton the back of her dress. Her straps slowly slipped down from her shoulders. His mouth moved to her shoulders and she gripped his back even tighter.
Of their own accord, her hands began to pull Ron’s shirt up, exposing his freckled skin. He broke away from her as he removed his shirt the rest of the way. When she felt his warm chest against her own the only thought that entered her mind was that she was home.
Their kissing heated up even further and they were both completely lost in one another. So lost that they didn’t hear the familiar creak of the third stair; they didn’t hear the thumping of someone walking in the hall. Even the clink of a glass didn’t disturb their joint ministrations.
Nothing short of a herd of elephants would have gotten them out of their world. Elephants, and perhaps Molly Weasley dropping a glass of warm milk on the floor and her mild expletive of, “My goodness!”
Hermione jumped away from Ron, not the smartest thing to do as her dress was barely hanging onto her waist. She quickly gathered the cloth further up to cover her chest.
Ron, whose skin was flushing from his torso up, kept his body turned away from the door, as if not seeing his mum would make this situation go away.
Molly once again proved more together than either Ron or Hermione, and was able to collect herself rather quickly. “Well, I’d say we’re even. Wouldn’t you?” And with that she wanded the milk and shards of glass from the floor and disappeared back into the hall.
Hermione and Ron stayed on opposite sides of the room, each with a look of shock etched onto their faces. She wanted to laugh, she wanted to cry, she wanted to continue their explorations from before, but more than all of that Hermione felt like she just might throw up.
Ron seemed to have the same idea, as she watched him take a large gulp, his eyes averted. Ron moved first as he grabbed for his tossed shirt that was splayed out on the chair Hermione had been sitting in. He pulled it on, still not meeting Hermione’s eyes.
Hermione took his cue and started to pull the straps of her dress over her shoulders, but her buttons in the back proved difficult. She was awkwardly reaching behind her trying to clasp the last three buttons, when Ron came up and did it for her. She gave him a grateful smile that could have been a construed as a grimace.
“So, that was…,” she began.
“Dreadful!” Ron finished for her.
“Yeah,” Hermione nodded in agreement. “How am I ever going to be able to look at your mum again?” She covered her face with her hands.
Ron pulled her fingers away and looked guiltily at her.
“I’m sorry. I got carried away.”
“No, we got carried away.” She grinned at him, a little more light hearted now. Tomorrow, when she wasn’t so filled with the humiliation of it all, she might even laugh about it. After last week, she had to admit it was a bit funny. There was a definite sort of justice to it.
“I better get home. Dad’s probably waiting up for me.”
“I’ll come with.”
“I’d like that.” Hermione took Ron’s hand and they walked out into the night. She would never be able to call this an uneventful date.
A/N: Sorry that this is later on Sunday than normal. My father in law passed away yesterday, and so I have been a bit tied up. I appreciate all of your good wishes.
The name of the bookstore came from a bookstore located in Texas, I thought it was cute. I hope you liked that bit. So let me know what you thought of my expanation for Reynolds, was it enough or not?
How about the remainder of the date? Did you like how it ended?
Thanks so much to all of you for reading and reviewing.,,, and as you probably know by now, none of this would be possible without the beta help of Georgia Weasley.
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