Chapter 9 : Big Girls Don't Cry
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Lavender Brown had always considered herself to be a reasonably patient person- until she met Ron Weasley, that is. He was the blindest, most infuriating person she had ever met in her whole life. He had been so in school, and he still was now that he was about to turn twenty five. It seemed to Lavender that nothing at all had changed since he and Hermione had snogged during the final battle. Everyone had breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that everything was about to get a whole lot better with the two of them. Everyone that thought that the final battle was it. The two of them would get married, have babies, and grow old together, just after that one kiss. Oh, how very wrong all of them had been. The naïvely hopeful people should have known that it was never going to be that easy, because Hermione and Ron, the infuriating pair, would never let anything be easy.
“Ron, you have been ranting about this for over an hour,” Lavender said, finally snapping. “Just do as I say... don't you trust me?”
“No, not at all,” Ron said. There was a pause, until suddenly he moaned, “I don't know what to do!”
“If I strangle you, will that make it all better?” Lavender asked. Ron considered her words for a split second before comprehending them and roaring,
“Look, Ron, there's nothing I can tell you that I haven't already told you. I think- in your heart of hearts- you know I'm right, and you just don't want to do it.”
“How can I?” Ron asked. “It'll be so weird!”
“I, personally, wouldn't mind spending some one-on-one time with Hermione,” Lavender shrugged. “It'll give me some good insight on what's going on with her marriage so that we can break it up.”
“We aren't breaking her marriage up!” Ron said pointedly. “Haven't I already told you that? I mean, how insensitive are you?”
“Pretty insensitive,” Lavender shrugged, and when Ron glared at her she rolled her eyes. “What do you want, Ron? You asked me for help to make Hermione jealous, and now you're saying that you want me for a totally and completely different reason. I'm not really sure what we're doing anymore.”
“Me neither,” Ron muttered. Then he made his voice louder. “Look, Lavender, her marriage is really rocky. So what we're trying to do is ride the storm out until we know whether or not she and Viktor are definitely breaking up or definitely staying together.”
“And what better way to do that then really get in there and figure out exactly what's going on?” Lavender said, a note of triumph in her tone.
“You wouldn't be all alone with her,” Ron warned. “Ginny's going to be there too.”
“So?” Lavender said. “I don't care, it's not like Ginny thinks this engagement is real.”
“What if one of you spills something?”
“Well, as exceptionally perceptive as Hermione thinks she is, she'll be so distracted by jealousy she won't even notice any accidental slip ups,” Lavender predicted.
“Doubtful,” Ron said.
Leaning over, Lavender grabbed the letter off of the coffee table and handed it to Ron.
“Go respond,” she said, “and tell Viktor Krum that you would be happy to spend the day with him, even though he mercilessly stole the woman who was supposed to be your future wife right from the tips of your fingers.”
“Will do,” Ron said grumpily. Lavender sighed and leaned back against the couch.
“I totally wear the pants in this relationship.”
“He said yes? I asked him not to say yes! I told him not to say yes!”
“Vell, he said yes,” Viktor said cheerily, and Hermione moaned and sunk down into her chair.
“This is horrible. I don't want to spend the day with Lavender Brown! It's hard enough to spend the day with Ginny these days, what with her strange obsession with the wedding that isn't even her own, but with Lavender Brown? I haven't even spoken to her since the last Hogwarts Reunion we had.”
“Maybe it's time the two of you become the best of friends,” Viktor said, and Hermione turned and threw him such an outraged look he shrunk back. “Or... not.”
“Lavender Brown is my worst nightmare,” Hermione told him. “She's the only girl that has ever made jealousy totally and completely overtake me, until I am nothing but a studious girl with a schoolgirl crush and a broken heart. And now she's gone and multiplied that by about fifteen, because not only is she dating Ron, she's marrying him! And not only is Ron my stupid crush, he's the man that I used to be engaged to, and he's the...”
But she suddenly stopped talking and turned a bit paler. It didn't matter, Viktor had known what she was about to say.
“No need to spare my feelings,” he teased. “I'm not like Ron, I don't get jealous.”
She smiled weakly at him.
“You are velcome, Herm-own-ninny.”
Suddenly, a look of panic crossed Hermione's face.
“Oh my god, what am I going to wear?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes!” Hermione said, her eyes wide. “Of course it does, Viktor! What if I wear a shirt and she takes one look at it and realizes that I have inappropriate thoughts about her fiancée?”
“Is that actually possible?”
“I don't know, I didn't stay in divination.”
She let out a little groan, then said, “Why oh why didn't I stay in divination?”
“Maybe because it is a rather useless subject?” Viktor suggested.
“I am so stupid!” Hermione moaned, discarding Viktor's comment and bringing her hands to her cheeks.
If there was one thing Viktor couldn't stand, it was Hermione Jean Granger calling herself stupid. Honestly, the nerve of her.
“Look, I know you don't want to hear this, but every thing's going to be fine.”
Hermione noted that she had felt much more reassured of this when Ron had spoken the words to her. Maybe something about him calmed her, made her feel better. Ron had been much better at relaxing her throughout the years, in some ways. While Harry was the one that kept a cool head in rough situations, Ron's flipping out had given Hermione something to focus on, a smaller goal to work towards on top of the bigger one. And as they had gotten older, he had been more the one to talk her through things than Harry had. When he'd had lessons with Dumbledore, Ron would talk with her and listen to her worries and fears- at least the ones that she could tell him (what? It wasn't like she was going to say “My greatest fear is having to see you die and then face living without you, because in my mind it is harder to be left on earth than be dead. I mean, it would be hard to see Harry dead, but harder with you. Why? Oh, it can't be because I'm totally and completely in love with you... THAT HINT'S TOO OBVIOUS, ISN'T IT, RON?”). And on the hunt, whenever she had been too scared or when she was frightened because Harry didn't exactly know what he was doing, Ron had (mostly) been there to put his arm around her shoulders. After the war, he had made her his priority, just as she had made him hers. At that time, they had kissed, they had admitted to their feelings to each other, and nothing and no one mattered more than that.
Instead of relaying all this to Viktor, Hermione merely said, “I'm sure it will,” and stood up. “Right, well, I'll see you tonight at the bar. Um... break a leg?”
“Yes, good luck to you too, Hermione,” Viktor said, watching as she walked out of his office. He turned to look at his secretary, who had been standing next to him the whole time, a bit confused by the conversation. “She has gotten herself into quite a mess, has she not?”
“I have told you a thousand times, Hermione,” Ginny hissed under her breath, “that shirt will not let Lavender know that you fantasize about pushing Ron against the door to your house and snogging him senseless!”
“Are you sure?” Hermione said anxiously. “Maybe I should change...”
“Where do you even get this from?” Ginny groaned. “Did someone just go up to you one day and begin feeding you lies on a little spoon?”
“I don't remember,” Hermione said, so anxious she didn't pause to actually understand what Ginny had asked her.
“Hermione,” Ginny said, gritting her teeth, “I don't think any shirt can make someone know about your innermost thoughts and dreams. Unless, of course, your innermost thoughts and dreams are to be a hooker. Then and only then might there be a little bit of a problem.”
“Well,” Hermione said slowly, “I've never wanted to be a hooker... so I think we're all good.”
“Thank god,” Ginny muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Ginny said, reaching forward to knock on the door. It swung open almost at once. “Hi, Lavender!”
“Hi, Ginny!” Lavender responded, bounding up to Ginny and hugging her as tightly as she could.. “I haven't seen you in such a long time, sis!”
Oh, it was going to be a long day.
Meanwhile, Harry was also having a difficult time, although not because Ron was afraid that his shirt would tell Viktor that he often fantasized about Hermione pushing him against the door to her house and snogging him senseless.
“I can't believe I agreed to this,” Ron was muttering as he paced back and forth on the grass of the Quidditch pitch. It was in the back of Harry's house, and while Harry had tried very hard not to show off how much money he had, Ginny had convinced him that he deserved to splurge a little bit. When he had been teetering on the edge, she had begged him to do it for her, and instantly the idea of doing something that had make Ginny happy made him agree. Really, he was too selfless for his own good. Ron rather thought that Harry Potter had a bunch of huge flaws that were just waiting to bubble over and show themselves off one day when he snapped.
“You didn't, really,” Harry shrugged, half smiling.
“Fine... I can't believe I let Lavender talk me into doing this and then went through with it,” Ron amended.
“Better,” Harry said.
“What if I punch him?” Ron asked, his pacing coming to a halt as he looked desperately at Harry.
“Er- he'll probably punch you back, and that would be bad.”
“I can't believe he left her alone on their anniversary,” Ron growled.
“What's the big deal... you got a kiss on the cheek out of it, didn't you?”
“He doesn't deserve her!” Ron roared. “Why did she pick him over me?”
“This again?” Harry sighed. “Ron, I'm so, so sorry that she did that to you, but we are unfortunately stuck spending the day with an international Quidditch player, so whatever ill grace you have towards him needs to be set aside just a little bit so that we can at least attempt to enjoy ourselves until we can go to a bar and get very, very drunk.”
“I'll consider it.”
“Ron,” Harry said, sounding exasperated now.
“Fine! Fine, I'll just let him get away with being the worlds' worst husband and stealing the woman I'm in love with! Whoop-dee-doo! I think me and Vicky- I mean Viktor- will end up being bosom buddies, actually!”
“Er- positive self talk. That's always good.”
“Where the hell did you learn a phrase like that?”
A sudden ringing of the doorbell that echoed loudly out onto the Quidditch pitch made the two of them look up.
“Ready?” Harry asked.
“No,” Ron admitted. “Let's go.”
The two sprinted back to the house, then opened the door to find Viktor Krum standing there, smiling nervously.
“Hello, Harry. So nice of you to invite me over.”
“No problem,” Harry said. “Thanks for hooking us up with the Quidditch tickets for later.”
Harry gestured Viktor into the house, and the men sat around a table that was set with beer and sandwiches. They ate in silence, Harry and Viktor making small talk, Harry admitting to Viktor after many years that he had been Barny Weasley at the wedding, and that was why he had discouraged Viktor from going after Ginny.
“So, yeah, sorry about that,” Harry grinned, while Viktor roared with laughter.
“It's alright,” he chuckled. “You ended up married to her, so I don't feel as though I had too much of a loss there. And vere are your sons, by the way? Herm-own-ninny has told me how adorable they are!” Ron cracked his knuckles. Harry knew that he hated hearing Viktor call Hermione that, as it was so far from her name. “Sorry for never replying to that letter, by the vay,” Viktor said, now addressing Ron. “I know you were really vorried, but I never got around to it.”
“You had two years to get around to it,” Ron said shortly.
“I vas busy.”
“Busy? Yeah, you were busy. Stealing my fiancée from me, that is.”
“Oh, look at the time!” Harry said, leaping out of his chair. “Time to go watch Quidditch!”
Viktor was smiling pleasantly and Ron was glowering at him.
Well, Harry thought to himself, it could be worse. Maybe.
While Ron was enjoying a good Quidditch game, Hermione was enduring a shopping trip with Lavender and Ginny. Seeing as she hated shopping, this made the day even worse in her book, and she was pouting and sulking the whole time. Not only did she loathe trying on dresses (which the two kept on making her do, on account of the fact that she would need one for the wedding that Ginny was planning), she felt jealous at how well Ginny and Lavender were getting on. She wanted to snap her fingers in Lavender's face and say something along the lines of,
“Hello! Ginny was my friend first, so back off before I hurt you.”
But, of course, Hermione wasn't a violent person, so she simply suffered in silence and watched the other two witches have a grand old time. At least Hermione was grateful that Ginny was keeping the subject far, far away from Ron. Unfortunately, Lavender had her own ideas. As they walked into the lingerie section (Hermione blushed red- she hadn't been to this part of any store in two years and it almost felt like the first time again, when she'd felt as though she had no right to be there), Lavender picked up a hot pink bra and laughed as if she was remembering something.
“What?” Ginny asked.
“Oh, I have a bra that's basically the same color, and it drives Ron crazy!”
“Ew,” Ginny protested, swatting Lavender with one of her bags. “Don't tell me what and what does not drive my brother crazy!”
“Sorry,” Lavender giggled. “Oooh, there was this one time when I was wearing this bra and eating chocolate and-”
Here, Hermione excused herself from the conversation, ran to the bathroom, and then massaged her temples for ten whole minutes in an unsuccessful attempt to get those words out of her brain. That was neither the first or the last time Lavender insisted on talking about Ron. She drove Hermione crazy with all of her little anecdotes. Each bra that caught her fancy seemed to have something about it that reminded her of Ron. Hermione ran out of excuses after a while and was forced to try and squelch the anger that was welling up inside of her. Soon, she figured out that if she pretended that she was here shopping for her wedding to Ron she could completely zone out the woman who would actually be marrying him. This turned out to work wonderfully (all she had to do when addressed was smile and nod) until she ended up at the cash register and Ginny and Lavender were looking at her expectantly.
“What?” she said, shaking herself out of her daydream.
“Cough up!” Lavender said.
“For... for what?” Hermione inquired.
“You expect us to pay for all these?” Ginny frowned.
“What?” Hermione asked, and slowly her eyes darted to the bras in Ginny's hands.
“We got these bras for you!” Ginny said, annoyed.
“Remember, Hermione, we were talking about how ugly and old most of your bras are, and then you agreed that if we got you some cute new stuff you'd burn the old ones and stop dressing like a grandmother?” Lavender added helpfully.
“You were paying attention, weren't you, Hermione?” Ginny asked, narrowing her eyes. “There was absolutely no reason why you shouldn't have been.”
I hate you, Ginevra Potter. And I will get you, my pretty.
“Of course!” Hermione said. “Why would I have been blocking out what you were saying? Pffftt. Here,” she said hastily, handing Ginny some galleons.
“Yay, bra burning time!” Lavender squealed.
Oh my god, kill me, Hermione thought.
The three of them apparated to Hermione's cottage (“it's so adorable!” Lavender said in a squeaky voice) and went to Hermione's delicates drawer. They proceeded to take everything out and attempt to burn them in the backyard, cheering. When this did not work because there was snow on the ground, Lavender just shrugged and said,
“I'll take the ugly ones home with me so that you won't be tempted to wear them.”
“Er- refresh my memory. Why did we get me a bunch of underwear?”
“Because you are trying to save your marriage to Viktor,” Ginny told her.
“And in order to do that, you need to stop dressing like you are somebody's mum.”
“Oh,” Hermione said, “really? That's how you save a marriage?”
“Yes,” the two of them said together.
“Weird,” Hermione said fervently.
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