Chapter 41 : A Woman's Prerogative
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They were going to be spending five days in a log cabin somewhere in the mountains. They'd be skiing on their own private part of the mountain, and even the fact that Hermione already knew how to ski was not helping her nerves one bit. Then again, she was sure that she and Ron would probably not do much skiing. She had promised him that she wouldn't make him ski if he didn't want to. Of course, she thought he was a wimp for not wanting to try something new, but she was also grateful. She wasn't really in the mood to ski, seeing as Ron had stepped on her foot more then once while they were dancing together at the wedding. Granted, it had been the most romantic moment of her life. Or, rather, one of them. But that didn't make her feet hurt any less. Luckily for her, whenever she needed to calm down all she did was think about how Ron's voice had sounded singing 'Hello'. She'd loved it. Ron was not the greatest singer, but he was hers. And the fact that he was willing to put himself out there and sing for her was undeniably sweet.
She had no reason to be nervous. Of that, Hermione was sure. What were the odds of something terrible happening, something discriminating to her and Ron's relationship? And, if something did happen, what were the consequences? People being slightly mad at them, but altogether thrilled that they were back together again? The only thing Hermione was really worried about was living in the same house with Ron all over again. Sure, they'd done it just a month ago. But they hadn't been together then. There were boundaries. And the problem was, there weren't boundaries anymore. Hermione and Ron's relationship was just as serious, if not even more serious, then it had been when they broke up. And she was scared of what it meant. She was scared of what it was doing to her. Every time they snogged, they went she wanted things to go as further and further. Seeing as Hermione took it upon herself to be the voice of reason in her and Ron's relationship... well, this scared the hell out of her. She kept on stealing glances at the white box in her closet. But this time she wasn't looking at it for the wedding dress.
She walked over to the box and opened it, looking down into it's empty bottom. She'd packed the contents of the box. The only thing left in it was the wedding dress design, forlorn and, temporarily, forgotten. All alone. Hermione wasn't exactly expecting anything to happen. But that didn't mean she didn't want anything to happen, and she recognized that it was always in her best interest to be prepared. Hermione couldn't ever bear not to be absolutely prepared for anything. She'd gone as far as to pack a bathing suit, just in case there was an indoor pool or hot tub or something. She had trainers, flip flops, style boots, snow boots, gloves, hats, scarfs, and a special box to put her wand in when she wasn't using it. It had a tracking spell on it, so, whenever, or if ever, she lost it, it would turn bright red and start vibrating and making lots of noise. But Hermione barely ever lost anything, so the point was relatively moot.
Hermione glanced at the rose sitting on her dresser and let out a sigh. Ginny would be coming over in a moment, probably bringing Hermione a few last minute outfits. She was going to go crazy knowing that she couldn't pick out Hermione's clothes everyday for the dates. It was so hard to lie to Ginny, but Hermione was still enjoying the secret. It made her feel mischievous and fun. She was positive that George would be proud. Rarely could anyone succeed in fooling Ginny. But she never found what she wasn't looking for. Hermione made a point to complain about Ron each day at least five times and he tried to complain about her around six. Ginny was so convinced that the two hated each other she wasn't looking for anything. Unless something extremely obvious put itself right in front of her nose, the secret was safe.
“Hey!” Ginny rushed into Hermione's room, pink with excitement, a little out of breath from her mad dash to get to the room before Hermione left. “Have fun!”
“Doubtful.” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “I can't believe I have to be locked up in a house with that arse for five days.”
I love you, I love you, I love you.
“It'll be fine. Just try not to hurt or kill him.”
“We'll see.” Hermione said, giving Ginny a one armed hug. She looked around the room and, upon failing to find Crookshanks, said, “Accio Crookshanks!”
The terrified cat soon zoomed toward her and right into his cat carrier, squealing, mewing, and waving his arms.
“You're bringing Crookshanks?” Ginny asked, looking as though she was trying to hold in her giggles.
“Yep. I can get him to scratch Ron sometimes. It's very funny.”
The rose began to glow.
“Bye, Ginny. I'll see you after the date.”
“See you.” Ginny said, backing out of the room as Hermione placed her finger carefully onto the porkey. Soon, she was spinning through the air, holding on for dear life, and trying not to think about how she really liked apparation better. She was doing everything she could to keep her finger on the rose, and when she finally landed it was a relief to let it go. She ended up in a heap on the ground, and then stood up, shaking her head a little bit to clear it. Ron was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a Quidditch magazine.
“Hi, Granger.” he said, barely looking up as she arrived.
“Hi, Weasley.” Hermione said, smirking at him.
“What're you looking at?” Ron asked, seemingly annoyed.
“Your ugly face.” Hermione retorted. Then she grabbed her suitcase and walked down the hall. The cabin was beautiful, completely made of wood and decorated in an elegant and old fashioned manor. “Which room is mine?” Hermione asked, poking her head back into the kitchen.
“The one on the right.” Ron told her, his face hard. Hermione stuck her tongue out at him and opened the door. The room was beautiful. There was a cherry wood fireplace, a cherry wood king sized canopy bed, covered with a dark red comforter and red and white pillows. All around the room were beautiful paintings, all with red and brown tones, and on the cherry wood bedside tables and dressers there were red and brown candles, unlit, but there mostly for decoration. Hermione, smiling broadly, rushed into the bathroom, and squealed at the sight of the huge, swimming pool sized bathtub and the steam room to the left. Wizarding game shows sure knew how to treat a girl.
“RON!” Hermione suddenly screamed at the top of her lungs. “WHY IS THE TOILET SEAT UP? DID YOU USE MY BATHROOM? YOU ALWAYS DO THAT!”
Ron rushed into the bathroom in a few seconds to see Hermione smiling cheekily at him, and he shouted,
“THAT WASN'T ME!” before rushing over to kiss her. She tangled her hands into his hair and let a little moan escape from her lips as his mouth moved to her neck. They'd just seen each other the night before, but it felt like an eternity. She remembered how that felt, now. How it sometimes was difficult to be apart from him. After a while, she pushed him off of her, regretting it even as she did it.
“Love you.” Hermione whispered, before marching out of the bathroom, saying over her shoulder “Just don't do it again, okay, Weasley?”
Their evenings were the best times. They got to be together completely without the cameras, in this totally romantic place. On the second day, Hermione learned that she should probably only take baths or showers during the nighttime. The bathrooms became her and Ron's prime meeting places, and once he walked in on her while she was relaxing in the tub. Granted, she'd been completely covered by bubbles. But that didn't stop her from feeling embarrassed. She'd just been so sick of all their false bickering, she'd had to escape the scene. Ron had turned beet red, and Hermione had immediately put the leg she had been shaving under the water, resulting in a giant nick. Apologizing profusely, Ron had conjured up a band aid, but the little patch up on her skin hadn't made the strange feeling in her stomach go away. The incident hadn't been mentioned by either since, but Hermione had been itching to sneak up on Ron in the shower when he had taken one the night before after they'd gone skiing.
That's right. Skiing. Hermione had finally gotten bored with sitting around and fake bickering, so she'd told Ron that, since she'd flown on a broom for him, he had to ski for her. He seemed oddly agreeable to the idea, until he realized how hard it was. Still, Ron played it up by landing in Hermione's arms every time he fell. Soon, it had gotten to the point where Hermione put pads on him and vowed to teach him to ski by the end of the trip. They'd been staying out until eight o'clock at night, when the cameras went off and they were free to go home and watch a movie. Tonight was no different. Hermione and Ron were stationed at the top of the bunny hill, both bundled up into their ski jackets.
“No, you have to... look.” she moved his legs so they were in the right position. Ron raised his eyebrow at her.
“Hermione, love, it's just skiing.” he said, “We aren't in a dungeon. My life doesn't depend on me learning how to do this.”
“Yes it does,” Hermione said fiercely. “I've never failed at anything in my life.”
“Ahh. Now this makes a hell of a lot more sense.”
“Ron, shut up.” Hermione said, monotone. “look, I'll go too. We can ski down together. I think you're ready, so... I just...”
She leaned down and repositioned his leg again. Ron rolled his eyes. Hermione rolled hers back at him, then gave him a push. Soon, both were catapulting down the hill at break-neck speeds. And then, in a terrifying moment, Ron started to fall. Hermione skied faster, trying to help him, but ended up landing on top of him.
“Oh, I'm sorry.” Hermione moaned. “Are you okay?”
“I'm fine.” came Ron's muffled answer.
“We're done for today.” Hermione announced, getting up and sticking her hand out to Ron. He took it, and she helped him up. Then they trooped back to the house to take steaming showers. When they were finished, Hermione and Ron met up in the kitchen, Hermione's hair dry and Ron's sopping.
“Can you help me with that?” he asked. “I'm not too good at glamor spells, for some reason.”
“Of course I can. Here.” Hermione lifted her wand and performed a nonverbal spell. Ron's hair was instantly dry. Hermione checked the clock. “After eight.” she said in a satisfied manor. Then she handed Ron a cup of tea. They sat down at the table and drank in comfortable silence. And then, Hermione raised her head and asked the question.
“Do you ever get scared? That it's all going to happen again?” She was, of course, talking about their break up.
“No.” Ron said simply. Upon noticing Hermione's skeptical face, he started over. “I'd do anything for you.” he said. “I'd change any habit, any flaw. It's too hard to live without you. If you hated my red hair, I'd dye it brown.”
“You know I don't hate your...” Hermione said hurriedly, but Ron raised his hand to her lips.
“It was just an example, Mione.” he said, and she chuckled into his palm. He slowly removed it, his eyes locked on her.
“I wouldn't want that anyways,” she said quietly.
“What do you mean?”
“Would you really want that kind of relationship, Ron? You change yourself so that I'd love you?”
“When you put it like that...” Ron said, grinning nervously at her.
“Yeah, it's as bad as I make it sound.”
He laughed, and, unable to resist the infectious sound, Hermione leaned over and kissed him. He sighed against her lips and pulled her closer, loving the way they were able to be close after purposefully avoiding contact for the game show cameras. Hermione's hand found its way into Ron's hair, and she kissed him furiously, with a passion that surprised Ron. Somehow, he felt that this was different. Curiosity crossed his face as she suddenly pulled back.
“Let's go to my room.”
“Excuse me?” Ron spluttered, shock crossing his face. He hadn't seen this coming. “Are you insinuating what I think you are?”
“So what if I am?”
“I would back away from you and ask who you were and what you had done with Hermione Granger.”
She smirked mischievously at him, then leaned down and placed a light kiss on his collarbone.
“Don't I surprise you occasionally?”
“That's true. You do.”
“Well, now's one of those times.”
“Not that I'm arguing,” Ron said, his eyes flicking around the cabin, “but I don't know if you want to do this. I mean, you warned me years ago that we were waiting until we got married.”
“It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.”
“Plus,” Ron added, “it's weird that we're talking about it beforehand.”
“You do know me, don't you?”
“I'd like to think so.”
“I'm logical. I talk about things before. I look at them from all angles. And I've been analyzing this for quite a while.”
“Oh, Hermione. You would.”
“Tread carefully. You're about to get lucky, but if you take a wrong step I will rescind any permission I have given you to touch me.”
“I'm just gonna shut up now.”
“How about you shut up and kiss me, eh?”
So he did. He lifted her up in his arms and carried her to her room, kicking open the door with enthusiasm that made Hermione laugh. Comic relief. That was what she needed to make this less awkward. As she giggled she felt a bit of the nervous tension leave her body. Tenderly, Ron dropped her onto the bed. He leaned down and kissed her, then pulled back once more, still concerned.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I'm sure.” Hermione breathed. And it was true. She was more sure about this then she'd ever thought she would be when thinking about this situation. Why wait? Why was that necessary? She was nearly twenty four. She knew who she would be spending the rest of her life with. There was no question. And so she took out her wand and said the words to a spell that she had never said before, but one that she'd read about a couple of times. And she shivered pleasurably as Ron lifted her shirt over her head, his rough hands tickling her sides. As his lips moved to her neck, Hermione remembered the lingerie that was sitting in her closet. But she felt no regret. This was much, much better. Unpredictable, but still predicted. Spontaneous, but it had been coming on for a while. If that made any sense. But not much things did, these days. And with Ron by her side, that was okay.
A/N: Oh my gosh. Nine chapters left? I'm on the verge of tears now! I can't even imagine what it's going to be like when this story is over. I actually cried when I finished writing it... but that was last July, and it's going to be like finishing all over again! Thanks so much for the amazing reviews that you have been leaving. I love all of you for doing so, even those who just write a few words. I feel like I have formed friendships with those who review, and it's wonderful. It's because of you guys that I wrote the sequel, and I hope you will continue to review to the end of the story and onto The World According to Perfection! ~writergirl8
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