Ron Weasley had never been as anxious as he was today and that was saying something. He had faced a three-headed dog, life-sized chess pieces, a colony of Acromantulas and numerous Death Eaters in battle in his teenage years alone, but the task he faced today caused his stomach to lurch so uncomfortably that it felt as though he had ingested a mass of pixies.
He had been feeling this way since he woke up, which had been at four am. Hermione, being a heavy sleeper, had not stirred, even with Ron’s tossing and turning. Even when he accidently kicked her whilst trying to find a comfortable position, she simply brushed her nose with her hand and murmured in her sleep something about ice cream and sledging.
The clock on the wall told Ron that it was a little past six am. Sighing, he decided to give up trying to force sleep and lay on his back, eyes open, listening to the sounds of the house. Having lived at The Burrow, which was built in the middle of nowhere, it was a new experience having neighbours and even a street light outside.
When he and Hermione showed their parents the house they intended to buy, all it took was that street light for Arthur to gleefully congratulate his youngest son on finding a gem.
Ron rolled onto his side to look at Hermione. She was breathing gently; her chest rising and falling beneath her arm that draped over her body. Her hair covered the pillow with wild curls and her eyelids were quivering, indicating that she was dreaming.
He didn’t know how long he had spent watching her but her gentle breathing felt soothing. Ron closed his eyes for a second and he must have dozed off, because when he opened them again, the curtains had been pulled open and sunlight was pouring into the room. He glanced over at Hermione’s side of the bed and found her gone, but could smell the familiar aroma of sausages, bacon and eggs from downstairs.
Sitting up, he grabbed a nearby top and pulled it on, dragging himself out of bed. He rubbed his eyes gingerly and yawned as his feet found the slippers on the floor. When he entered the kitchen, he found Hermione cooking breakfast the Muggle way.
“It’s quicker to use magic, you know,” Ron said, taking a seat at the table and pouring himself a glass of orange juice from a jug beside him.
“I prefer to do it this way,” Hermione replied, poking the crackling eggs with a spatula. She emptied the contents of the frying pan onto two plates and handed one to Ron, who accepted it gratefully.
“Thanks, I’m staving,” Ron said eagerly, wasting no time. He picked up a knife and fork and began to cut up his eggs.
After a few minutes, Hermione causally asked, “what are you doing today; I thought we could visit Diagon Alley. There’s a sale at Flourish and Blotts and I really want to buy Cressida Catts’s new book.”
Ron paused for a moment, thinking fast. “I er… can’t today. I’m meeting … Harry. He needs help at home,” he finished lamely.
Hermione was looking at him with a frowned brow. “With what?”
Ron turned pink and his eyes darted around the kitchen. His eyes fell on the calendar on the wall, the Quidditch player was zooming around the dates chasing a Snitch that was resting on the square representing the following Friday. “It’s Ginny’s birthday next week and he doesn’t know what to get her,” Ron lied, knowing perfectly well that Harry had purchased Ginny’s present the previous month and that it was a much better present than the hat he intended on giving her himself.
“He’s not got her present yet?” asked Hermione surprised. “That’s not like Harry.”
Ron gave her an uneasy smile, “Ha, yeah! That’s why I’m going round there later. Just - would you not mention it to him when you see him next, he’s a little embarrassed,” Ron said, hoping the lie was stable enough.
Hermione nodded and went back to her breakfast as Ron breathed a sigh of relief.
Ron convinced Hermione to visit Diagon Alley anyway and gave her a list of items he needed himself, so she would be gone most of the morning. She kissed him goodbye, stuffing his list in her coat pocket, along with a small pouch of coins Ron had given her, before throwing some Floo Powder into their fireplace and disappearing.
Checking the time on his wristwatch, Ron ran up the stairs, taking two at a time. Once he reached their bedroom, he pulled his clothes off, almost tripping over his trousers that became caught around his ankles and put on his favourite Muggle suit. The jacket and trousers were navy blue, as was the tie. The shirt was a sky blue. Hermione had commented when he purchased it that the colour brought out his eyes perfectly.
Ron cursed at the tie as his fingers fiddled to fix it right. He swore loudly and grabbed his wand from the bedside table, almost shouting a spell that fitted his tie neatly around his neck. He popped his wand in the suit jacket’s inside pocket and made his way back downstairs.
As he walked towards the front door, he stopped to look at his reflection in the hall mirror. He wrinkled his nose, as he tried to flatten his hair with his hand. His hair was getting a bit long and would start to curl unannounced around his ears if he didn’t keep it at a shorter length.
Fumbling around his pockets, Ron pulled out a set of keys and locked the door behind him. Because he was going into a Muggle town, it meant he wasn’t able to use the Floo Network today. It didn’t matter; it was a chance to get better acquainted with Hermione’s car. Technically, he didn’t have a full licence yet and should only be driving the car if Hermione or Harry were sitting in the passenger’s seat, as they had managed to pass their Muggle driving test already. However, if anyone stopped him while he was driving alone, it was nothing a Confuddle Charm couldn’t solve.
As Ron got into the car, his nose was met with the smell of the stupid little tree shaped air fresher Hermione insisted in having in the car. Ron pulled the tree from the mirror and threw it into the glove box, making a mental note to put it back up later, so Hermione wouldn’t know that he’d borrowed her car without asking… again.
He was on his way to visit Hermione’s dad, who lived with Hermione’s mum a mere five miles away. When she and Ron were first looking for a house together, she had admitted to him that rather than move into a Wizarding community, she would really like it if they could move into her childhood town.
During her time at Hogwarts, Hermione had seen little of her parents, and what she did see of them was cut short when she found herself at The Burrow or Grimmauld Place over the Summer Holidays or Christmas. Hermione had always felt a sense of guilt over this, not being able to merge both of her worlds together. But with the war going on, Hermione was glad that her parents were not part of the Wizarding world.
So it was decided that they house-hunt in Aylesford, to be closer to Hermione’s parents and spent more time with them. Obviously, Ron made arrangements for the Floo Network to be set up in the house, and cast a Muggle Warning Spell across the property so if any Muggles decided to stop by, he and any fellow Wizards could cease any magic they might have been doing. For example, Ron was used to the sink washing up plates itself.
Ron pulled into a side road off the high street and glanced around, slowing down to twenty-five miles per hour as he looked around for the Granger’s dentist surgery. He then spotted it at the end of the road, turned on his right hand indicator, and pulled into the small car park.
The Granger Family Practice, was a two storey converted house. The bottom floor contained reception, the waiting room and staff area, while each Granger had their own room on the first floor for patients.
Ron took a deep breath and pushed open the front door. There were only a few people in the waiting room waiting to be seen: a man with streaks of grey in his dark hair reading a Muggle newspaper and a mother with her little boy. The mother was engrossed in a copy of Heat magazine that looked a couple of years old, while the little boy, who looked no older than six, was playing with a number of primary coloured blocks in an area of the waiting room set aside for children.
The walls of the waiting room were filled with posters promoting clean dental hygiene, with smiling children and women handing small children their first toothbrushes. A table in the middle of the room was home to a stack of out of date magazines and a few books.
Suddenly feeling very warm in his suit jacket, Ron made his way over to reception, where a young woman with hair so blonde she reminded him of Malfoy, was typing away on a computer. Ron cleared his throat and she looked up at him, her eyes like a panda with dark make up.
“Oh, hey, don’t I know you?” she asked.
“Er yeah – we’ve met a few times. I’m Ron, Ron Weasley. Dr Granger’s daughter’s boyfriend,” Ron replied. “I have an appointment with Dr Granger – I mean, Mr Doctor Granger.”
The girl turned her head back towards the computer screen and resumed typing. She looked back at Ron and said, “You’re next. You can go right up.” She indicted the stairs at the far end of the waiting room, where the dentist rooms were.
Ron smiled in thanks, making his way towards the stairs. His legs were starting to feel like jelly, and he could feel himself sweating. Ron held onto the banister and slowly walked up the stairs. He could hear a drilling noise coming from one of the rooms, which was doing nothing to calm him.
As he reached the landing, he spotted Hermione’s dad, Dr John Granger, washing his hands in a sink in his assigned room. Dr Granger must have heard Ron’s footsteps (or perhaps his heart beating?), because he looked up and smiled.
“Ron! So good to see you.” He gestured Ron into the room. The drilling sound that had stopped had suddenly started again, and Ron was relieved when he realised that it was coming from the room next door, where Dr Jean Granger was obviously with a patient. “I was surprised to see your name on the books. You only had a check up four months ago; you’re a little early for your next visit!” He laughed heartedly and motioned Ron to take a seat in the chair.
Ron had spent his life visiting a Wizarding dentist, but after moving into Aylesford, Hermione insisted he start seeing her parents. Not only would it be a nice bonding experience, but he’d get an excellent service and even a free tube of toothpaste if his teeth were good! Hermione’s selling point, the free toothpaste, did nothing to motivate Ron after his first visit to the Granger Family Practice.
Years of Chocolate Frogs, Acid Pops and Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans had cost Ron three fillings and a teeth clean he wasn’t close to forgetting about. He was shocked to learn that the treatments he had were not rare, and happened to a lot of people.
“But why do people keep going back?!” he had asked astounded.
“Because you need to check your teeth and gums are not diseased or full of plaque. Otherwise you might lose them,” Hermione had explained. “Plus, if you don’t eat so many sugary sweets, you won’t need to have a treatment every time – like me.”
In the end Ron had decided that there was no way he was giving up his Chocolate Frogs and would simply put a numbing spell on his mouth before he’d go for another check up.
Ron cautiously sat in the chair, as though he was lying down on a bed of coals. “They’d be less painful!” he thought to himself, wondering if it was too late to back out yet. He still felt quite warm, but didn’t dare remove his jacket as he was quite sure his shirt would be wet around his armpits.
He glanced around at Dr Granger, who was putting on a pair of rubber gloves and a face mask. He walked over to the chair where Ron was sitting and asked, “Open wide.”
Ron reluctantly opened his mouth, his eyes following the metal instruments that were going to be in his mouth in a few seconds. Grabbing the end of the armrests, Ron held on tight, the skin on his hands stretching tightly over his knuckles.
“Bloody hell, I forgot the Numbing Spell!” Ron thought to himself bitterly, inwardly kicking himself.
“Any problems since the last time I saw you?” Dr Granger asked, his eyes darting around Ron’s mouth. He moved his hand to get a better look at Ron’s molars, making a “hmm” sound.
“Eh, Mo. Muffin I can rink of,” Ron stumbled. His mouth was starting to feel dry and he wondered when he should ask Dr Granger the question he came here to ask. As Dr Granger’s hands were currently in Ron’s mouth, he decided to wait until his check up was finished.
“Your teeth look better than the last time I saw you,” Dr Granger said, scrapping one of Ron’s teeth of plaque, which caused Ron to twitch.
“Hanks, Er-my-knee ought me some floss,” Ron said. Dr Granger nodded happily and then removed the instruments from Ron’s mouth. He put them on a side tray and began to write something in Ron’s file he picked up from the counter behind him.
Ron licked his front teeth and sat up in the chair. Dr Granger advised him that he was free to spit and rinse his mouth, which Ron did happily. Eyeing up the bright pink liquid in the plastic cup, Ron took a mouthful, sloshing the coloured water in his mouth before spitting in the basin attached to the chair. Why Muggle dentists used coloured water was a mystery to him. Was it meant to calm the patient?
Ron swung his legs around to sit up properly in the chair, but didn’t make a move to get up. His hands gripped the side of the chair as he stared at the white floor. Taking deep breaths, he wondered what would happen if he were to throw up on Dr Granger’s clean floor, or perhaps just pass out on it. Less mess that way…
He could feel Dr Granger’s eyes on him as the room was now silent after the sound of rubber gloves being removed and tossed into a nearby bin had ceased.
“Was there something else you wanted, Ron?” Dr Granger asked slowly.
It was now or never.
Ron opened his mouth but nothing came out.
“Words would be a good start,” he thought to himself. “Just say something! Anything!”
He looked up at Dr Granger, who was looking at him with concern in his face, his arms crossed against his chest.
“Doctor Gr – I mean, John,” Ron started. Hermione’s parents had insisted that when Ron started dating their daughter, that he called them by their first names, something Ron had trouble remembering.
Ron licked his lips, his mouth drying out again. He wished he hadn’t poured the remainder of the water away.
Ron took a deep breath, looked John right in the eyes and said in one breath, “Iwannamarryyourdaughter.”
He wasn’t sure if John had understood what he was asking, but his folded arms fell to the side of his body and he took a step forward towards the chair. Feeling vulnerable sitting down, Ron stood up. He was taller than John, which made him feel stronger and less nervous.
“What did you - ? What did you just say?” John asked, his eyes wide. Ron had a feeling he knew exactly what he was just asked, and needed it repeating.
Swallowing hard, Ron said in a steady and calm voice, “John, I love Hermione very much. You don’t know what I would do for her.” Ron paused. “You don’t know what I have done for her.” Ron’s mind was full of giant spiders and Polyjuice Potion. “All you need to know is that I will look after her, protect her and love her for as long as I can.” His mind fought back the memory of Bellatrix torturing Hermione at the Malfoy Manor the year Voldemort fell. “I want to do things properly, so I’m here today to ask if I can, if you’ll give your blessing to me… to marry Hermione.”
Ron’s eyes were stinging and he realised that he hadn’t blinked for a few minutes. John observed him for a moment, like a player does in a game of chess. Would he allow Ron to take the queen, so to speak?
Suddenly, John’s face broke into a grin and he stepped forward towards Ron, grasping his hand with his own, shaking it. “Of course I do!” he exclaimed. “Nothing would make me happier than seeing my Hermione get married!”
A feeling of relief enriched Ron’s entire body, and he felt his muscles relax as he shook his future father-in-law’s hand back, a matching grin spread across his face. The hard part was over. He had the support of Hermione’s father, something he was keen to get before he even began to look for a ring.
A ring! Hermione wasn’t one for flashy clothes or jewellery, but this was her engagement ring, it had to be something special. His next stop after here was to Floo to Harry and Ginny’s to ask Ginny’s advice on a ring. He had overheard his sister and his mum discussing the ring Harry had given Ginny when he had proposed last year. According to Ginny, there are different colours and carrots to contend with. What carrots had to do with rings, Ron didn’t know. It would most likely be some strange Muggle tradition he wouldn’t understand, like how they play sport on the ground.
All he did know was that after all he and Hermione had been through to get to this chapter in their lives; he wanted a ring that would make Hermione glow with love. And in the right shop in Diagon Alley, that could be found.