Chapter 12 : Meeting Ron
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“Mind if I come in?” George asked.
“Not at all, what brings you here?”
Hermione opened the door wide and stepped back to allow George in. He bustled inside and as he did so Hugo came rocketing down the stairs and jumped into George’s arms, so quickly that George almost dropped him.
“Hello Hugo my little man, you okay?” George said, pushing Hugo up so he was sat comfortably on his arm.
“Yeah, how come you’re here Uncle George, have you come to take us to the zoo; Mummy says you can put me up on your shoulders so I can see the elephants get eaten,” Hugo grinned, his brown eyes staring at George’s face expectantly.
“Hugo honey, the elephants get fed, not eaten,” Hermione corrected her son. She grabbed a tea towel which had been lying on the stairs and bustled off to the kitchen. George followed, Hugo still in his arms.
“Did she now? Well, I think that could be arranged at some point, but no, not today Hugo, today I’ve come to see your Mummy,” George smiled, reaching up with his free hand and correcting Hugo’s shirt collar.
“So, what brings you here?” Hermione repeated. She was stood at the sink, washing the bowls from that morning’s breakfast cereal and drying them off before setting them down on the draining area.
“I’ve got a surprise for you, but I’m not quite sure how you’ll react to it, it’ll be a bit of a shock, I think?” George said, shifting Hugo to his other arm. He’d never realised a skinny five year old boy could be so heavy.
“Hi Uncle George,” Rose wandered into the kitchen, a book in her hand and her eyes glued to the page. She didn’t even look up at George as she walked by.
“Hey Rose, still reading?” George smiled.
“Yeah, Mum gave me this Muggle book to read, it’s called Stormbreaker, it’s pretty cool, about this boy that’s a British Intelligence Agent,” Rose explained. She jumped up onto a stool, eyes still never leaving the page.
“I see, sounds great,” George nodded. He had no idea what a British Intelligence Agent was but he presumed it was something impressive.
“Anyway, what’s this surprise you’ve got me?” Hermione cut in, her tone sounding incredibly interested.
“Oh, erm, well, it’s something I’ve been working on for the last few weeks, do you mind if we talk in private?” George gulped.
“Yeah, sure, of course, Rose sweetie, your Uncle George and I are just going to go upstairs and have a chat, Hugo, mind if you just stay down here for a minute, play with your toys or watch the television?” Hermione smiled, wiping her wet hands on a dishcloth and throwing it into the sink. She didn’t seem to have noticed George’s slight nervousness.
Rose nodded and George let Hugo down before leading Hermione up the stairs and guiding her into the bedroom. Hermione sat down on the end of the bed, George preferred to stand.
“So, go on,” Hermione urged.
“Well, I don’t really know where to start, um, you know when we were down by the lake, well I had an idea,” George explained, “you seemed like you missed Ron so much and I thought that you’d give anything to talk to him again.”
“Yes,” Hermione nodded.
“And well, I thought of one way I could help you talk to him again, it was a long shot, there aren’t many brilliant professional artists around these days you see and the spell was really quite tough, but…”
“You didn’t,” Hermione suddenly cut in, her hands reaching up and covering her mouth, her eyes showing the shock that was already clear on her face.
“Well, I thought it would be a good surprise, you’ve done so much for me over the past few months and I thought this was a way to repay you for…”
George was cut off again as Hermione threw herself at him, grabbing him by the neck and pulling him into a kiss. Their lips met and George felt his knees buckle slightly. He hadn’t had any chance to take in air before she had flung herself at him. George broke his lips away and Hermione stepped back.
“Sorry,” Hermione apologised, looking at the floor in embarrassment. She hadn’t kissed George on the mouth since they were on top of the mountain and she didn’t really know why she’d just done it then, she felt stupid. George would think her a nutter. Plus throwing herself at George in that way was totally unnecessary and completely uncalled for, especially in the circumstances.
“No, no, it’s fine,” George gasped, a little flustered, “I just wasn’t expecting that, you know, since you’ve got the chance to talk to Ron’s portrait and you know, well he’s your husband, and I, well, I just wasn’t expecting it, it was nice though.”
“Sorry,” Hermione said again, raising her head, her deep brown eyes flicking upwards to look at George. She could feel her cheeks begin to rouge.
“No, no, don’t apologise,” George shook his head, putting his hands up in an almost surrender like manner.
“Sorry, I just, thank you,” Hermione managed. George could see that tears were starting to appear in her eyes.
“No problem, do you want to go see him then?” George smiled.
“Yeah, that would be wonderful,” Hermione nodded. She moved one hand so it was grasping the elbow crease of the other, as though she was almost nervous. George noticed this.
“Look, I told you, there’s no need to be sorry, you just caught me a little off guard, come on,” George assured her, opening his arms up. Hermione stepped into them willingly, curving her arms up under George’s shoulders and holding him tightly, nestling her face into George’s chest. George kissed her on the top of the head, letting the scent of her hair fill his nose. He smiled. Hermione stepped back again and set herself on the edge of the bed.
“So, will we go tonight?” George asked, sitting down next to Hermione.
“Tonight would be good, yes,” Hermione nodded, resting her head on George’s shoulder. They sat there for a moment in silence.
“Do you think this is weird?” George asked suddenly.
“What?” Hermione frowned.
“Us, like this, you were married to Ron, and, well I’m his brother,” George explained.
“Not really, just one more messed up thing to add to our list,” Hermione shrugged. She couldn’t help but let a small smile play on her lips, hearing George refer to the two of them as us.
“But you were saying down by the lake that I remind you a lot of Ron?” George questioned.
“Well yes, there is that, but you’re also different in lots of ways, it’s only really one or two things about you that remind me of Ron,” Hermione said.
“Right,” George nodded, satisfied.
“Come on, let’s go back downstairs,” Hermione said, hitting George softly on the knee before standing and heading towards the door.
“Hermione,” George called just before she walked out. Hermione turned on her heel and faced him. George stood and covered the distance between them before slowly bending his head and kissing Hermione softly on the lips.
“What was that for?” Hermione frowned as he withdrew, her eyebrows knitting together.
“Just don’t ever be embarrassed,” George smiled furtively. Hermione regarded him, a strange confused look on her face, then turned and walked out. George followed suit.
“Here we are,” George grinned; leading Hermione into the dusty room in which Ron’s painting was being kept. George had put Ron back under the white cloth so Hermione could choose when to see him.
“He’s under there?” Hermione asked, her voice was quiet and George could feel her hand trembling in his.
“Yeah,” George nodded.
“And he’s exactly as he was before he died?” Hermione gulped.
Nerves were building up inside her, she had no idea what to expect and she didn’t have a clue whether this was the right thing to do or not. She had buried Ron, never to speak to him again, and she wondered whether having the portrait would just send her back to the beginning, send her into a pit of misery once more. Plus it wasn’t as though Hermione could hug Ron through the painting, or kiss him. Ron was still dead and having the painting was merely just like having Ron’s ghost. But surely that was better than nothing? Hermione gripped George’s hand tighter.
“I didn’t know him very well just before he died, but yes, he’s him,” George nodded, “do you want to take a seat?”
“Yes, I think that would be good,” Hermione nodded. She let go of George’s hand and sat down cross-legged on the wooden floorboards. George positioned himself next to the painting, hands on the sheet, ready to pull it off.
“Ready?” George asked.
Hermione nodded, she couldn’t form words. A whole mix of emotions were about to fall down on her and take her out to sea, drown her. She kept her eyes fixed on the white cloth. George flicked his hands deftly and the sheet fell from the painting. George glanced at Ron’s shape and then kept his eyes fixed on Hermione.
Hermione stared at the painting. Ron blinked, as though he had been momentarily dozing, and stared back at Hermione, recognition in his eyes. Hermione couldn’t form words, she felt tears start to form in her eyes and spill over onto her cheeks. She glanced at George and gave him a small smile. George grinned back.
“What are you crying for ‘Mione?” Ron’s portrait asked. The voice. Hermione hadn’t heard Ron’s voice in so long that it was almost foreign, but she recognised it, and it made the tears come faster.
“’Mione, please, don’t cry,” Ron persuaded. Hermione gasped, pulling the tears back, gulping back the sobs.
“I’m sorry Ron,” she wept, “I can’t help it.”
George came and sat down next to Hermione, taking her hand in his and squeezing it reassuringly. Hermione wanted to shake it away, not wanting the let Ron know that she and George were so close, but George held her tight and Hermione, in her heart, didn’t want to let go.
“Hey, it’s fine,” Ron smiled, “I guess I just don’t know what this feels like for you, for me it’s like only days have passed since I died.”
Hermione nodded. The voice, she couldn’t get over it. She only ever heard Ron’s voice in her dreams, and even there it was fuzzy.
“Tell me about the kids Hermione,” Ron said, “what did you call the baby?”
“Hugo, I called him Hugo, a boy,” Hermione smiled through her tears, “he looks so much like you Ron, freckles, red hair, everything only he has my eyes, he loves Quidditch and animals and he’s so energetic, always smiling, he’s beautiful Ron.”
“Hugo, I like that name,” Ron nodded, tears appearing in his eyes too, “how about Rose?”
“Rose is such a bookworm, she loves reading, so much so that she rarely talks to anybody, but she’s so sweet and clever and, oh, you would love her so much,” Hermione said, reaching up and attempting to wipe the tears away from her face but they kept coming thick and fast.
“She sounds just like you,” Ron laughed, his tears now flowing down his cheeks too.
“I suppose she is very similar,” Hermione chuckled, a throaty laugh drenched with unstoppable sadness.
“And Harry?” Ron asked, “what about Harry?”
“Harry?” Hermione gulped, “Harry is, Harry’s brilliant, he’s still Head of the Aurors and he’s still with Ginny of course. I can’t remember if you met Lily but James, Albus and Lily are all doing great and Harry is so happy, he loves having his own family. He misses you though, sometimes he doesn’t show it quite as much as I do but I know he misses you terribly.”
“That’s fantastic to hear, and I know, I’m sorry,” Ron gave a small smile, “I wish I could just jump out of this bloody painting and come back.”
“I know,” Hermione nodded, the tears that had slowly begun to stop finding a new water supply and beginning to pour down her cheeks once again. She tightened her hold even further on George’s hand. Hermione noticed him wince slightly but he kept a hold.
“How’s the family?” Ron asked; he was so eager to hear about everyone, to find out how everyone was.
“They’re great too, Bill and Fleur live in France and they’ve still only got three kids, Victoire, Dominique and Louis, so no change there but they’re really happy, and Charlie is still studying those dragons in Romania, I don’t think he’s really all that interested in finding love but he’s definitely happy out there, and Percy is still working in the Department of Magical Transportation and is still with Audrey, two kids still, Molly and Lucy, I haven’t seen him in a while but he’s very happy from what I hear, and then Ginny is grand and your parents are doing really well too, they love having the grandchildren over and even though your Dad’s retired they’ve still got enough funds to last them so yeah, the family’s fantastic,” Hermione smiled.
“That’s brilliant Hermione,” Ron smiled. Hermione felt a sudden longing to reach out to him, to hold him and to kiss him, a deep longing that clung at her very heart.
“I love you Ron,” she managed, heaving back the tears that were still coming thick and fast, dripping from her chin and onto her lap.
“And I love you too Hermione, more than you’ll ever know,” Ron replied. George felt a spike hit him hard in the heart. He hadn’t expected this proclamation of love to hurt him so badly, he knew it would be said after all, but it bit deep and George found it hard to shake off. He bit his lip. Ron noticed this.
“But I want you to know Hermione,” Ron said, glancing between George and Hermione, “that I want you to be happy, and I can see that you and George, you’re close, and even though it’s bloody freaking weird for me to see it, I don’t mind if you two want to be together, in fact I support it, if that’s what makes you happy.”
“Are you sure?” Hermione frowned.
“Of course, you pining after me is pointless Hermione, I’m a dead man after all,” Ron laughed, trying to inject humour but failing miserably. Hermione’s face remained blank. George however let out a slight chuckle.
“What are you laughing at?” Hermione frowned, a little anger spreading across her features.
“Just the word, pining, it’s such a weird word but I’ve heard it twice in the last two days,” George chuckled. Hermione raised her eyebrows and then burst out laughing too, so did Ron’s portrait, and soon the dusty room was echoing with the sound of their hilarity. It was Hermione who regained herself first.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” she gasped.
“I’ll second that,” Ron’s portrait agreed.
“Well, it was getting a little dull, all the tears,” George laughed. Hermione shoved George on the shoulder, pushing him over.
“What was that for?” he complained.
“Nothing,” Hermione laughed. Ron glanced between Hermione and George again, and although it hurt him to see Hermione with George it also made him happy.
“Wow, is that the time?” Hermione suddenly frowned, looking at the dusty clock that was hung limply on the wall.
“Ten o’clock, yeah,” George nodded.
“Damn, I said I’d pick up the kids at half past, Ron, I’m going to have to go, I’m sorry,” Hermione said, flustered.
“Don’t worry,” Ron accepted, “go.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll come back and see you soon,” Hermione smiled, standing quickly.
“Okay, goodnight Hermione,” Ron gulped, he didn’t want her to leave, not yet.
“Goodnight Ron,” Hermione said softly, walking over to the painting and stroking it with the tips of her fingers. Ron couldn’t feel it and Hermione knew he couldn’t, but it was still comforting. George stood too and grabbed the white cloth from the floor.
“Do you really have to put that over me?” Ron complained.
“Yep, see you later Ronnie,” George laughed, chucking the cloth over the painting. He nodded his head towards the door and Hermione agreed. George ushered her out so they were now stood in the open planned area, the bed taking up one side of the room, the kitchen area in the corner, a door leading off to the bathroom and sofas surrounding a fireplace, which was void of a raging fire.
“Thank you,” Hermione smiled up at George as he shut the door behind him. Having to look up at George meant they were stood only inches apart, and this gave Hermione small butterflies in her stomach.
“I told you, you’ve done so much for me, I wanted to do something just as important for you,” George smiled down at Hermione. Her brown eyes were still covered in a watery film but the tears were no longer falling and the smile that was playing across Hermione’s lips reached up to her eyes too, giving them a twinkle. It was almost as though George could see right through to her soul, just by looking her in the eye.
“I still need to thank you,” Hermione said. George reached out and took Hermione’s hand in his, squeezing it. Hermione studied George’s face. He looked troubled.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing’s wrong,” George said, still with the troubled look on his face.
“Are you sure?”
“I just, I don’t understand what’s happening between us, it’s just all so complicated,” George explained, meeting Hermione’s eyes again.
“We’ll work it out,” Hermione assured him, “I’m sure of it.”
George nodded, his eyes never leaving Hermione’s. His hand was still intertwined with hers and Hermione, although she would be late to pick up the kids, did not want to let go.
“Hey, smile,” Hermione said, reaching up and stroking George’s cheek with her free hand. George let out a small smile, but Hermione knew it was faked.
“Do you, do you want to come and stay over at mine tonight?” Hermione asked gently, letting her free hand rest on George’s neck. George blinked; he hadn’t been expecting that question, but he nodded nevertheless.
“Okay, let’s go then,” Hermione nodded. Dropping her hand from George’s neck she took her wand from her pocket and disapparated.
“I’ve put Hugo to bed,” George smiled as Hermione reached him on the landing.
“And I’ve put Rose to bed,” Hermione nodded.
“Well, I’ll see you in the morning,” George replied, about to turn and go to the spare room.
“Hey, no, come and sleep in my room,” Hermione said, grabbing George’s wrist. George spun round to face her, his eyebrows raised. Hermione had to stifle a laugh.
“Not for that,” she chuckled, “I just don’t want to be alone tonight, if you don’t mind?”
“Oh, I see,” George smiled, although Hermione could see he was slightly disappointed. It sent a shiver of excitement down her spine but she shrugged it off. Hermione went through to her room, George following.
“Don’t look, I need to get changed,” Hermione said. George nodded, turning to face the wall. Hermione looked at him for a moment, making sure he wouldn’t turn around, and then began to undress. George turned round once she’d finished.
“You’ve got a nice arse,” George grinned.
“You-” Hermione exclaimed but George cut her off.
“I’m kidding, I didn’t see anything,” he laughed. Hermione sighed.
George took his trousers off and removed his shirt. Hermione pulled back her covers and got into the bed, George joined her. This time Hermione allowed him to tuck himself in behind her, his body fitting against hers. He draped one of his arms across her waist and used one hand to sweep Hermione’s hair away from her face.
The close proximity caused Hermione’s heart start to race. Her pyjamas were merely a vest top and some shorts and where George’s skin touched hers she felt goose bumps erupt there. She tried to close her eyes and allow herself to fall into the deep cavern of sleep, but George’s breath fanning across her back prevented her. It was even worse when George’s lips began to kiss the back of her shoulder softly. Hermione tensed slightly.
“Relax,” George’s whispered voice drifted into Hermione’s ear. She tried to obey, attempting to relax her body, but she couldn’t. George slid his lips up to the base of Hermione’s neck, his breath tickling her skin.
“George, please,” she gulped. Hermione blinked, letting out a deep breath.
George merely ignored her plea, the arm that he had draped around Hermione’s waist pulled back and his hand ran down Hermione’s bare leg, sending shivers through Hermione. His touch was soft yet firm, and it made Hermione want to turn over and stop him, not by telling him off, but by kissing him, caressing him, loving him. Hermione put the feeling aside though, focusing on controlling her breathing.
“George, not tonight,” she whispered.
“Hermione, just relax, I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do, okay?” George whispered in Hermione’s ear again.
“Okay,” Hermione nodded, gulping again. Her breathing was becoming ragged as George slid his hand back up Hermione’s leg. His lips dragged across Hermione’s jaw line as he propped himself up on his elbow, leaning his body over Hermione slightly. Hermione closed her eyes, the softness of his lips on her skin consuming her; she gulped again, feeling a sweat break out across her skin. Still she did not move, she was incredibly tense.
“Relax,” George repeated again as his lips fell on Hermione’s neck. He felt Hermione swallow as he did so, and the familiar butterflies in his stomach became dragons, ready to tear him apart. As he flicked his tongue out, prickling Hermione’s neck, Hermione had had enough of relenting and she turned over, knocking George onto his back.
“I said, not tonight,” Hermione scowled.
“Hermione, that was nothing,” George frowned.
“Well to me it was something, look, I’ve just talked to my dead husband, and I don’t think this is appropriate right now.”
“You’re the one that invited me in here; I would have happily slept in the spare room.”
“I didn’t want to do this though,” Hermione strained.
“You did,” George said.
“No, I didn’t,” Hermione retorted.
“You’re lying,” George smiled.
“Oh really,” Hermione laughed sarcastically, “and how did you work that one out?”
“I just know,” George grinned, “but okay, I see your point, come on, lie down.”
“Thank you,” Hermione smiled. She turned back over. George shifted in beside her again. He so desperately wanted to run his hand along her body again, to feel her skin, to feel the electricity run through his veins, but he controlled himself.
“You’re amazing, you know that Hermione,” George whispered instead. Hermione bit her lip, a smile playing across her face. Soon George’s breath was fanning against Hermione’s skin again, but this time George was fast asleep and the ticklish sensation on Hermione’s back was comforting. Closing her eyes she allowed herself to slip away into the darkness and into a world filled with images of Ron and tears.
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