Chapter 22 : Turning Tables
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Ginny Potter loved her best friend and her brother. She really did, and she wanted them to be happy, the happiest they could be. She had long ago begun envisioning a big white wedding for Ron and Hermione, filled with elegant dresses, purple flowers, and a glowing sunset. And she'd thought about their, future, too. They'd have four kids, Ginny decided, and she and Harry would be their godparents. Two of the kids would be brains, the other two would be athletes. Hermione and Ron would create a fun, happy life with each other and with their children, and everything would be good. She had known for a long time that this was the way it was supposed to be, and, while Ginny didn't like to admit it, she had spent a lot of her life trying to make everything perfect for Ron and Hermione. She failed. A lot. She had failed to an extent that had made her hateable, she had stuck her nose in where it had not belonged, she had messed up the most important and tentative part of Ron and Hermione's love life. And yet she could not stop. She loved what she did, she loved feeling needed. And even when she wasn't needed she loved being there for everything.
Yes, Ginny loved Hermione and she loved Ron. Except just now, they were infuriating her. After all of her efforts, after everything they had gone through, after planning a whole goddamn wedding together, the two were still resisting the urge to let it all go and just be together. They'd had several romantic opportunities, they'd forgone their moral values, they'd always had the perfect setup to be together. To absolutely positively no avail. It had gotten to the point where Ginny had realized there must- MUST- be something psychologically wrong with Ron and Hermione, because never had she ever had such trouble matching two people up. Usually they just went together, easy as pie, and she could add another couple to her list. But Ron and Hermione were preventing her from having a perfect record. And she was going to fix that.
So enough was enough. The only thing standing in the way of Ron and Hermione was Ron and Hermione. Hence, Ginny was going to bump off that problem. No, she couldn't kill them, which was probably what you thought of when you heard the words bump off. But she was going to do the next best thing. She was going to baby them, fix their problems for them. She was going to have a Weasley family intervention.
Finally, they were all there. George, Angelina, Roxy. Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Dom. Charlie, Mr. Weasley, Mrs. Weasley. Percy, Audrey, Molly, Lucy. Oh, and, of course, Viktor and Lavender. Harry and she were there, because it was obviously their house. All that was left to do was wait. And wait they did. There was a nervous feeling to the atmosphere, a slight tingling feeling in the air. No one knew what was going to happen- when had Ron and Hermione ever been predictable?- but they all thought that it would be big. Nobody spoke, until finally there was a rap to the door, and Ginny swept over to open it. Neville still had a slightly shell-shocked look on his face as he stared at Ginny with wide eyes.
“How are you?” she asked, a little thrown off by the way Ron had Hermione in his arms and she was leaning against him.
“Brilliant,” was the trade-mark Ron reply she got.
“Exquisite,” Hermione agreed, glancing up at Ron to grin at him.
“Erm- that's good,” Ginny said. Her expression was a bit queasy, and both Ron and Hermione looked questioningly at her.
“Are you alright?” Hermione asked, concerned.
“Yeah,” Ginny nodded. “Er- come on in.”
They stepped into the house, and Ginny led them over to the living room. Ron and Hermione did a simultaneous double-take as they saw the whole Weasley family sitting on the couch, but both beamed at the sight of them.
“Good, I'm glad you're all here,” Ron said happily, and Hermione nodded along with him.
“We have something to say, you two,” Lavender said, glancing at Ginny for reassurance.
“Oh,” Hermione said, now frowning a bit. “Well, we have news too, then. But you first.”
Ron jabbed her in the back, his expression letting on that he thought he knew what was about to happen. Hermione's eyes told him that she knew, too, but she shushed him, thinking that it might be amusing to ride this one out.
“You guys, this is an intervention,” Fleur said, looking around all of them with a stern look on her face.
“An intervention?” Hermione asked, feigning surprise. “Whatever for?”
“Secrets and lying,” George replied instantly. “As much as I liked it all at first, by now it's gotten boring.”
“Is there anything you two want to say to each other?” Mrs. Weasley asked, her expression firm but motherly.
Ron and Hermione considered this.
“Nope,” was Ron's easy response.
“No secrets you've been keeping that you need to let loose?” Harry inquired carefully.
For the first time Hermione looked pained, but Ron kept up his nonchalant expression.
“Not that I know of.”
“That's enough,” Ginny said sharply. “I thought it might come to this. Viktor, Lavender. You go.”
The two of them nodded and stepped closer to Ron and Hermione, biting their lips.
“Look, you two. This has gotten out of hand, so we've decided to fix it for you, alright?” Lavender said calmly.
“Everything you've thought for the past few months... vell, it's a lie,” Viktor admitted.
“I'm not engaged to Ron,” Lavender started, “and Ron, Viktor and Hermione are not and never have been married.”
Hermione released a loud, over dramatic gasp.
“OH MY GOODNESS! I HAD NO IDEA!”
“ME EITHER!” Ron shouted, and they both stared at each other with wide open mouths. “THIS IS BRAND NEW INFORMATION! HOW COULD YOU, HERMIONE?”
“YOU LYING PIECE OF FILTH!” Hermione screeched, and then she reached up and slapped Ron gently across the face.
There was a pause until both Ron and Hermione suddenly burst out laughing, and the whole Weasley family stared at them, stunned, as they hugged each other.
“Sorry about that,” Hermione whispered in Ron's ear.
“Nah. Don't sweat it. It was kind of sexy, actually.”
She swatted his arm, laughing, as she pulled away.
“You knew already, didn't you?” Ginny asked angrily.
“Yeah, kind of,” Ron smirked.
"Oh yeah," Neville interjected, speaking for the first time. It seemed to have hit him that he had basically been waiting in a hallway for the couple to finish having sex.
“Since when?” Charlie demanded.
“About a week ago,” Hermione replied. “I found your folder, Lavender.”
Lavender giggled nervously.
“I told him to hide it in a good place, but I guess he didn't listen to me.”
“That's alright,” Hermione said, looking lovingly up at Ron.
“Yeah, it's fine,” Ron piped up.
There was silence as the Weasleys and Potters continued to process this information. Hermione and Ron stood there, staring at them.
"Why did you hide it?" asked Mrs. Weasley gently.
"We wanted some time to just... be together. Without having to worry about you having expectations for us as a couple," Ron replied.
"Not that it worked," Hermione added, muttering under her breath.
“I can't believe you knew,” Ginny muttered dejectedly. “I was so excited for this intervention! In one word, how would you describe your reactions?”
“Horny,” Ron said without thinking.
“RON!” Hermione cried, covering his mouth with her hand. “Euphoric. We were both euphoric.”
“Good save,” Bill said, rolling his eyes.
“Tell us what happened,” Lavender demanded.
“Vord for vord,” Viktor added, so they did, quite happily, while leaving out a few of the more private revelations.
“Well,” Ginny said, glancing around at all the Weasleys when Hermione and Ron were finished. “I suppose we can all just... leave.”
She sounded disbelieving.
“We should get going anyways,” Ron said, taking Hermione's hand. “We have a dinner reservation.”
“We do?” Hermione asked, whirling around to face him. “Since when?”
“Since I made one yesterday...” Ron replied, frowning down at her. “Remember? I told you about it!”
“If we were snogging at the time, it doesn't count.”
“Oh. Well then I didn't tell you about it.”
The whole family snorted, and Ron and Hermione blushed.
“Forgive them, they're in love,” Fleur said, looking over at a Mrs. Weasley. But she was far from annoyed.
“Well, then, I guess we should go,” Hermione agreed, going over to hug everybody. They left the house and Ron dropped Hermione back off at her place.
“Muggle dress attire,” he told her, and the curiosity in Hermione's eyes that greeted him made him almost burst in pride. “Be reasonably fancy.”
“Okay,” Hermione said, kissing him goodbye. “See you in two hours.”
She walked calmly into the house, calmly and carefully shut the door. Then she swore. She didn't have a single new dress to wear on this date- Ron had seen basically every dress in her closet. The only new things she'd gotten the past few years was lingerie that Ginny had bought her, though Ron had seen all that, too. She tore over to her closet, panicking, when suddenly she remembered something she had forgotten. She was prepared. She had an emergency dress, a dress so timeless and classic that you could wear it millions of times with different accessories. A dress that women had used through the ages to manipulate men, a dress that no one would ever get sick of.
One day, at the mall, Ginny had made Hermione buy a Little Black Dress. Hermione had always scoffed at the idea of LBDs when her female peers gushed out them, but as soon as she had put one on she had fallen in love. The Little Black Dress was a beautiful creation, the most brilliant thing to be invented since the light bulb. Hermione's was just short enough, showed off just enough cleavage, and hugged the curves she wanted accented while gracefully gliding over the ones she didn't want to showed off quite as much. It was perfect. It seemed as though it had been made just for her, and to be honest it was so comfortable she would wear it all day, every day, if she could.
Quickly, Hermione slipped on her Little Black Dress, then put on a blue shrug with matching diamond earrings and a matching necklace. She put on very short heels, did her makeup, attempted to tackle her hair, and was ready for Ron when he came. He knocked on her door at exactly the right time, wearing a nice muggle button down shirt complete with a dinner jacket.
“What's with the muggle attire, anyways?” Hermione asked. Ron shrugged.
“I hate going to dinner in places in the Wizarding World. We either see someone we know- effectively killing the romance- or we have a bunch of people we don't know rushing up to us and going 'HEY, AREN'T YOU RON WEASLEY AND HERMIONE GRANGER?'”
“Good point,” Hermione said, placing her hand in Ron's. He grinned at her, then turned on his heel and apparated. She closed her eyes and waited until the sensation had vanished before opening them. Her mouth flew open in delight. “I can't believe we're eating here!”
Ron smiled again. He had taken her to their favorite restaurant, one that neither had been to in a long time, due to the fact that it was too much apart of their past. The place served Italian type food, and Hermione argued that it possibly had the best alfredo sauce in the history of the world. Ron enjoyed their bread sticks. Better than the food was the intimate atmosphere of the restaurant- the tables for two were all set up with glowing candles that Ron swore made everyone seem more attractive.
“Well, it holds some brilliant memories, don't you think?” he replied. Hermione nodded wordlessly and Ron led her into the restaurant.
It was a wonderful night, to say the least. Somehow, going to eat here never could seem to go wrong. They ordered easily, chatting about how hilarious their family's reactions to the story had been and a million other things that were insignificant but interesting. Both were extremely aware of the fact that this was sort of like a first date, and definitely the first date they'd had in a very long time. Towards the end of their relationship they hadn't really needed to do things like this anymore. Their couply adventures had become confined to whenever they couldn't sleep. Hermione hadn't ever actually expected the romance to die out, but when it did the blow wasn't too hard. She supposed that with Ron she could have no smoke and mirrors, and, besides, just the fact that she was with him was enough for her. But this time she decided that it would be different. They'd go out to dinner every once in a while, they'd dress up just for the hell of it. She didn't need a perfectly romantic Ron, but she didn't want the whole thing to completely go away.
When it came time to order dessert they decided to share the chocolate cake that they both loved. Ron suggested champagne, but Hermione said that they had work tomorrow and she didn't want to drink at all, so they stuck with coffee.
“Besides,” she added as the waiter walked away. “Champagne's for special occasions, is it not?”
Ron hesitated. Then he nodded. There was a comfortable silence until suddenly Ron decided to break it. Steeling himself, he said her name.
“Remember how I said that the second you divorced Krum I would propose to you?”
“Yeah. And I said that doing so might not be proper etiquette.”
“Exactly. But... you didn't really marry him.”
Hermione shook her head.
“No, I didn't.”
“So I can propose?”
“Wh-what?” Hermione asked, her eyes widening. And Ron got out of his chair, sunk onto one knee, and looked up at her with hopeful, pleading and loving eyes. He hadn't exactly been sure if he should use the same ring, but Hermione had loved it the first time, and why should that have changed? Besides, it seemed to encourage the whole idea of starting over from the last time that their relationship had been really, really good. Still, he hadn't brought it. They could discuss it another time, if needed.
“I want to start over from here, Hermione,” Ron said quietly. “I want to pretend that the past two years never happened, and I want to set a date immediately instead of stalling like we did last time. I want to marry you, and this time I want everything to be perfect. No ghosts of the past. No secrets. No jealously. I'm going to be on my best behavior for the rest of our lives. So please say that you'll marry me.”
In hindsight, Hermione supposed she shouldn't have been surprised. This was the first place he had proposed to her, after all. But she hadn't seen it coming, and she'd just thought that this was another night of the town. That said, she was mentally and emotionally unprepared. For some reason, she'd thought she had time. Ron never had been that patient, though. And there had been some foreshadowing that she should have picked up on. How many women had a man they loved propose to them twice, anyways? She forced herself to sit back and enjoy it, even though fear and guilt were starting to build up in her system.
Hermione felt like she couldn't breathe. As she looked down at Ron's earnest and hopeful face, she tried her best to inwardly remind herself to swallow, to stay calm. But panic was beginning to consume her soul, and she could feel the hysteria building up. Ron wanted to start all over, and there was nothing that she wanted more than that. But she couldn't. They couldn't. Too much had happened... things that Ron didn't know about... things that she couldn't change even if she'd wanted to...
And suddenly, Hermione Granger burst into tears. Ron leaped up from his spot and to her, immediately putting his arms around her. She hid her face in his shoulder to stifle the sobs and tried to ignore the soothing words from Ron that she knew she didn't deserve. Patrons and waiters alike were beginning to stare at Ron comforting the sobbing Hermione. Making a split second decision, Ron lifted Hermione up and carried her to the womans' bathroom, where he set her on the counter and waited for her to stop crying. She didn't. He thanked his lucky stars that the room was deserted.
“These... these wouldn't be happy sobs, would they?” he asked tentatively. Hermione shook her head and cried harder. “Is that a no? You don't want to marry me?” Once again, Hermione vigorously shook her head. Utterly confused, Ron held her until, quite suddenly, a patronus materialized in the air in front of him.
“Angelina's having her baby, come to St. Mungo's as fast as you can.”
Ron glanced at Hermione. He couldn't leave her there, so the only other option was to bring her with him.
“C'mon, Mione. We're going to St. Mungo's, alright?”
She nodded and allowed him to pick her up and set her on the floor. She held onto his hand tightly as they apparated, and didn't say a word as Ron spoke to the mannequin. They arrived inside the hospital and Ron lifted Hermione up one more time so that he could run quickly to get to the pregnancy ward. She clung to him, still crying and attracting many stares. The Weasleys were sitting on a group of plastic chairs for Angelina. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley loved making a big deal out of the birth of their grandchildren, and it was mandatory that everyone come to the hospital when one was happening. The sound of Hermione's wailing echoed all the way up the corridor, and every single Weasley turned to see Ron running with Hermione slung over his shoulder.
“I didn't miss it, did I?” he asked, but everyone was absolutely speechless at the state that Hermione was in. Few people had ever seen Hermione Granger cry, and this was a whole new level of it.
“What did you do to her?” Ginny gasped after a few minutes of awkward staring. “She's a mess!”
“Shut up, Ginny,” Ron growled. He sat down in a chair, Hermione situated on his lap.
“What's she crying about?” Mr. Weasley asked, trying to approach the situation calmly.
“I don't know!” a very frustrated Ron said. “I was just proposing and suddenly she burst into tears! I had no idea what to do so I-”
“Wait a minute,” Harry said, holding up his hand. “You proposed?”
“Yeah! And then-”
“That'll do it!” Ginny groaned. “Oh, Ron, what have you done?”
“Well, I thought I was making the both of us happy! Excuse me for being twenty five years old and trying to propose to the woman I love. What the hell was I thinking?” Ron snapped.
“No, Ron, you don't understand,” Harry said, patting Hermione on the shoulder.
“Help me to, then.”
Ginny bit her lip.
“We... we can't,” she hesitated. “Ron, go home and get Hermione to tell you.”
“Why can't she tell me here?”
“Believe me, she can't.”
Hermione cried harder.
“Hermione,” Ginny whispered in her friends' ear. “Seriously. It's time. You've got to give it up.”
Hermione shook her head fervently.
“I can't!” she wailed.
“You must!” Ginny insisted. “You must, Hermione.”
Ron was beginning to lose patience.
“She's got another secret, hasn't she?” he whispered. Ginny nodded, and Ron breathed deeply, attempting to cool his temper. “We'll wait until Angelina has her baby. Then we'll go home.” There was a long awkward pause as all the Weasleys continued to stare at the sobbing Hermione. She kept on murmuring the same words over and over again: “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry.” After about fifteen minutes, Ron gave up. “That's enough,” he said in a loud voice. “Hermione, you are spilling the beans whether you want to or not. Let's go.”
Ron forced her to stand up and walked her over to the fireplace. They stepped in and quickly ended up at Hermione's place. Hermione stumbled onto the couch blindly, and Ron began pacing back and forth in front of the mantle.
“R-Ron, I can't do it,” Hermione wailed, hiding her face in the pillows. Ron couldn't remember the last time he'd seen her this out of control, or, indeed, if he had ever seen her this out of control at all.
“Tell me now, Hermione!” Ron demanded angrily.
Trying to gather herself, Hermione sat up. Tears were still pouring down her cheeks, and she was shaking. Refusing to make eye contact with Ron, she began to tell the story.
“Remember the night I came back to your house and I saw you with Perdita?” Mouth one thin line, arms crossed firmly over his chest, Ron nodded. “Remember how I had news?” Once again, he nodded. “Well... I never got around to telling you that news, did I?”
“Obviously not. What was it, then?”
Hermione trembled as she looked up at him.
“I was pregnant.”
There was an explosion of sympathy somewhere in Ron's body as he looked down at Hermione.
“You mean... you lost the baby?” he asked, his voice gentle. He moved toward her, meaning to comfort her, but a wide eyed Hermione shook her head. Ron stepped away “You put it up for adoption?” he asked fearfully. Even worse than the idea of Hermione loosing the baby was the idea that they had one and he'd never be able to see it or meet it or know what it looked like. Once again, though, Hermione shook her head. Ron breathed in sharply. “Hermione, are you saying-?”
“I'm a mum. You're a dad. We... we have a daughter.”
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