Chapter 24 : Fall For You
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Rose frowned slightly, glancing from Hermione to Ron, taking in the pain in their eyes and written on their faces.
“Oh my god,” Ron whispered, gazing down at her with a soft smile beginning to find its way onto his face. “Hermione, she’s gorgeous.”
A beam slipped across Hermione’s lips, and she lightly caressed Rose’s cheek.
“Yeah, she is.”
His throat felt parched as he walked closer, kneeling so that he could see Rose better. Her skin had his tone, and her hair had his texture and color. Her eyes looked like Hermione’s, and she had Hermione’s nose, as well as the light array of freckles that were dusted on top of it. He reached out to touch her, then looked to Hermione for permission.
“Do you want to hold her?” Hermione asked, cutting him off.
“Yeah,” Ron breathed. “Yeah, I do.”
She stood up, then handed Rose off to Ron, causing him to nearly fall apart with exhilaration as he stared down at the little girl. Rose reached a hand up and felt all around Ron's face. She tugged at his long nose, pulled his hair, and memorized his eyes, smiling as she did so.
“Daddy!” Rose breathed, excitement consuming her facial expression.
“I'm glad I get to meet you, too. And II think you're going to be seeing a lot of me,” he told her, and she beamed at this. He wondered if all kids this responsive or if Rose was just exquisitely smart. Knowing that she had Hermione's genes in her, she was probably a super genius. She'd probably end up being just like her mother- except with better Quidditch skills. He had always been saddened by the fact that he couldn't play Quidditch with Hermione. She tried for his sake, but she was laughably terrible. Though Ron did suppose that it was nice when she had to ride behind him with her arms wrapped around him. That could be pretty romantic if you did it with someone you were snogging regularly.
His daughter fit perfectly in his arms, clinging to him happily, her expression peaceful while Hermione looked at the two of them. Ron sat down in a chair with her and asked her questions, trying to make up for the year he hadn't known her. He asked Hermione things that Rose wouldn't know, and she answered, tears swimming in her eyes as she watched the two of them. Throughout the whole time Ron was there he point blank refused to let go of Rose, and he stayed with her and Hermione late into the night. It clicked almost immediately that the creature he was holding in his arms was his child, and the wave of emotion that rolled over him was so powerful and instant he felt himself go weak at the knees, like he was a silly eighteen year old doing new things with Hermione that made him nervous as hell. They'd made her nervous too, back then, which was what made it tolerable, but Rose seemed to find being with her father rather easy, like the situation wasn't at all tense or awkward. Hermione and Ron took her lead. It was a while before Mrs. Granger finally came into the room and pleaded Ron to leave so that Rose could go to bed.
“I'll put her to bed,” he said instantly, and he stood up and walked with Hermione to the room that Rose was staying in. Carefully, he lowered his daughter in the crib, then gave her forehead a kiss.
“Mummy too!” Rose said, “mummy kiss me goodnight, too, daddy!”
So Hermione stepped forward and she too kissed Rose, and then she took Ron back to her room and they sat on the bed and soaked in the colossal event that had just occurred. Ron tried to solidify the memory in his mind forever, the moment he met his daughter, but the buzzing in his mind was making it impossible to think. A part of him was thinking about his child, and the other half was thinking about how cool it was to be sitting on Hermione's childhood bed.
“Wow,” Hermione said, looking sideways at him.
“Wow,” Ron agreed.
“You were absolutely amazing,” Hermione said warmly. “You really were.”
“Thanks.” There was a pause, then: “Don't go.”
“Don't leave. Please don't go to France. I need her.”
“Okay,” Hermione said instantly.
“What?” Ron said, shocked. He'd been gearing himself up for an argument all night, and this was far too easy.
“I didn't want to go in the first place,” Hermione admitted, glancing apologetically at him. “I was just...”
“I'm scared a lot these days,” she sighed.
For some reason, he understood. He wished he didn't.
“So what are we going to do about this whole thing?”
That was the most awkward thing of the whole situation, wasn't it? What were they actually going to do about Rose? Living together wouldn't work, but both Ron and Hermione wanted to spend as much time with their daughter as they possibly could. As much as Ron hated to admit it, Rose probably needed Hermione more than she needed him. After all, the little girl had grown up with Hermione, but Rose had only just met her father. Hermione bit her lip, mulling it over and knowing that what she really wanted to do was marry him so that they could just live together and she'd never have to go a day without her Rosie.
“Muggles... they have this thing called a custody agreement,” Hermione said tentatively. “Perhaps we should go into one of those? Share her?”
Ron studied her face, frowning, then nodded.
“Yeah, sounds good. Sharing is caring, right?”
Hermione laughed at the feeble joke, then sighed.
“I'm glad you met her. I'm glad I taught her to know you.”
“It was brave of you to do that,” he admitted.
“Thanks,” Hermione said, smiling slightly. “How about I go into work and have a friend draw the agreement up for me, then we can meet for coffee at Saturday at one. Browns?”
“Sure,” Ron said. “Sounds fine.”
There was an awkward pause.
“Er- should I show you out?”
Ron understood that, as much as he wanted to stay until it was time for Rose to wake up, this was his dismissal. He nodded and stood so that Hermione could show him to the door. They silently walked down the expensive mahogany staircase, Hermione's hand trailing on the wooden railing as if it was the one comfort that was keeping her standing. She pulled the door open and Ron walked through it. When he didn't hear it close right away, he stopped and turned to look at her. She was leaning against the door, her cheek pressed against the cool material, and she was watching him, traces of love still in her eyes in spite of everything that had happened.
I. Don't. Love. Her.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked, his tone teasing but eyes serious.
“Your beard,” she admitted, and as she spoke he tried not to think about the way the moonlight illuminated different streaks of color in her hair. “Even though you barged into my parents' home, had a fight with my dad, and forced your way into meeting your daughter, at least I got to see you with a beard.”
“And the verdict?”
She studied him more, and he stayed perfectly still. He could tell by the look in her eyes that she thought he was better looking without it, but that, for some reason, she still thought he was gorgeous with it. A strange feeling appeared in his stomach, and he found that he couldn't shake it off.
“It's not my place to say,” Hermione settled on, her eyes drifting away from his face for the first time. “Not anymore.”
And as she closed the door her unspoken words lingered tauntingly in the air.
Because you don't love me.
And he didn't. He didn't love her. After everything she had done to him, how could he possibly, possibly love her? It was absurd, the idea, so ridiculous that he had no idea why he was bothering to fathom it. And he lay in his bed, drifted through the halls at work, and went about all his meals convincing himself that he was not in love with Hermione Jean Granger. He found very quickly, however, that this task was no easy feat. He had done everything! He had listed in his head all the reasons he was supposed to hate her. There were so many, and they were all so easy to come by. But if there were so many, why did he still dream about her at night? Why had those idiotic butterflies returned when he thought about her? She had given him the most intense stomach flutters at school, but over the years they had simply gone away. Now he was twenty-five and they were back full force. Seriously- that was what let Ron know he was pathetic. He was sure that twenty-five year old males were not supposed to get butterflies in their stomaches, much less than when they were thinking of a woman they were not in love with. For merlin's sake, he was a father now! He couldn't go around having romantic feelings about the mother of his child. He couldn't, because he did not want her!
Lying on his bed on the Saturday he was supposed to meet Hermione at Browns, he tried to reason with himself. She was just Hermione, just a woman. There were plenty of other fish in the sea, he didn't need that one. Now that he was over her he could find anyone. And he was sure their past would not inhibit him from doing so. After Hermione's betrayal, nothing about their past meant anything to him. He didn't care about her. He didn't care that he'd known her since he was eleven. He didn't care that she'd been his first real crush. He didn't care that she'd been his first shag, either, or about the fact that he'd never seen another woman so beautiful as she was. Because caring would mean that he still loved her, and loving her would mean that he forgave her. And forgiving her would be the most pathetic thing he'd ever do, if he did it.
It was perfectly normal, Ron decided, to feel the way he felt about Hermione. After all these years it was probably an instinct, right? Even though he didn't love her, he just always tended to notice the little things, like how beautiful her eyes, hair, or lips were. But that wasn't because he wanted her. Even though whenever he happened upon her in the halls at work and accidentally brushed up against her he had the strong urge to snog her until they were both out of breath, he didn't love her. He wouldn't, he couldn't. There was no way Ron Weasley could ever be with Hermione Granger again.
Sighing, Ron rolled over. He stood up and found himself face to face with the mirror. For the first time in quite a while, Ron actually studied himself. How was it that he looked so different than he remembered? He had huge bags under his eyes- he hadn't slept properly in an immeasurably long amount of time. When he and Hermione had been... well, shagging constantly, there was very little room for sleep. And these past weeks had been full of staying up all night and reviewing his life, trying to figure out where it had gotten so messed up and why Karma was being such a bitch to him. Not to mention trying to convince himself that he didn't love Hermione anymore. Besides his eyes, he had a small beard and it looked like his lips had forgotten to smile. It was his face, really, that had changed the most- his altogether face. He looked older, wearier. Sadder. He'd lived through the war and yet, as an auror, he'd seen and experienced so much since then. It definitely showed. Disgusted with himself, Ron turned away from the mirror. He couldn't believe he had let Hermione see him like this. Then again, she'd still looked at him like he was the most handsome man she'd ever seen. Which was really wonderful, because it showed that she'd always think of him that way, no matter what he looked like. And wasn't that what you wanted in spouse? Someone that would look at you like that even when you were old, wrinkly and gray? But- no. He couldn't think like that! He didn't care about Hermione Granger one bit. However... he was going to be seeing her later that day, so he should probably pull himself together before then.
Ron went over to the bathroom. He finally shaved. Then he checked his watch. He had four hours until he was suppose to meet Hermione at Browns coffee shop. Until then, he was going to clean. He couldn't have Rose see what a mess her father was. His mum had dropped off a crib for her a few days ago. He hadn't really been up for talking to her, but her expression and tenderness showed how awful she was feeling. When she happened upon the picture of Ginny that was in the kitchen, she went absolutely rigid with anger. Ron had never seen his mum so ticked off at his little sister before. It wasn't like Ginny didn't deserve it.
He decided to put the crib in Hermione's old office room. Unfortunately, that place needed a major airing out. He poked his head in, directed his wand toward the blinds and they sprung up, along with the windows. Ron breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't breathed air in such a long time. It made him miss Quidditch. He backed out of the room, then headed to the other parts of the house that needed attention. The whole house came alive. The vacuum went around to all the rooms, completely by itself. A couple of dust mits glided unaided around the living room, den and Ron's bedroom. A scrub brush went about cleaning the dishes. A disinfectant wipe and toilet scrubber took care of the bathroom. And then there was only one thing left to do. The boggart Ginny had found in the office.
Ron headed over to the office, his nervousness starting to take over his system. He had encountered very few boggarts in his time, as Hermione, determined as she was to keep everything sanitary and neat, usually took care of them. She would come back from these experiences shaking and Ron would take her in his arms and hold her while she cried. After the war, boggarts were even scarier. Ron hadn't been forced to face one since he was nineteen, so he didn't know what it was going to be. He knew that Hermione's boggart was him dead, knew that she always needed to hold him and make sure that he was there and solid after facing one. But he wasn't sure- now that he wasn't in love with Hermione anymore- what would happen when he opened that cabinet. Would it be the spider all over again? That he could face readily, easily. But it seemed so childish, given everything that had happened in his life. He checked his watch- two hours to spare. Sure he could handle the boggart and get himself past the fear in half an hour tops, he took a deep breath and directed his wand toward the cabinet. Suddenly, Rose was lying on the floor. Her red hair was mangled, dirt all over her cheeks, her dress ripped to shreds. Evidently, she was dead. His baby daughter, his beautiful baby daughter, the one thing in the world that was both his and Hermione's, was gone. He almost lost his head, but the image of Rose's giggling face danced through his mind, and he remembered that it was a boggart. Keeping that image in his head, he pointed his wand at the boggart and said, “RIDDICULUS!”
There was a whip-like sound and the boggart changed. But it didn't become giggling Rose. Apparently Ron's spell was completely incompetent, because the boggart then became something that shocked him. Hermione lay on the floor, screaming as though Bellatrix was torturing her again. This time she was her current age instead of eighteen, and instead of purely screaming as she thrashed on the ground, she called Ron's name, begging him to save her.
“NO! HERMIONE! HERMIONE!” he roared, fright and anger coursing through him. He couldn't move, and he wondered why.
“RON! RON, HELP ME!”
And suddenly the flailing stopped, the screams stopped, and Hermione was lying still, eyes and mouth wide open. Her expression and eyes were slack and vacant, and her arm was lying at an odd angle, showing fresh blood trickling from her mudblood scar. All rational thought left Ron's mind as he stared down at the limp body of the woman he was in love with. Fear and hysteria clouded his mind, because he couldn't save her this time, and that was the most terrifying idea in the world. He forgot the body was a boggart as he sunk to his knees and began to cry. The sobs racked through his body, impairing his view, and yet he already had the image of her branded into his mind. As her gorgeous brown eyes stared unseeingly at the ceiling, only the small rational thing in the back of Ron's mind that told Ron this was a boggart kept him from throwing his body over Hermione's and hugging her to his chest. He wanted to rock her back and forth, breathe air into her lungs, because if he didn't he was sure he would lose her and a world without Hermione was utterly pointless. His life without Hermione was awful, terrible, and dark. He wasn't living it.
He wasn't living without her.
She wasn't sure why she had chosen this, out of all places, to meet with Ron, but there was one thing she was sure of. Whatever happened while the two of them were there was going to life changing. There was a sense of anticipation in the air, but there was also a strong sense of dread. Her hands were shaking as she stared down at the contract that was going to ruin everything she had rebuilt with her daughter. She'd spent the last few months unable to trust herself enough to live with Rose, and now that she had recovered Ron was going to take Rose away from her. It wasn't his fault- in fact, it was all her fault. He had every right to take Rose away from her, and, as a matter of fact, Hermione felt like he was being kind by agreeing to share their daughter. But still. No longer was Hermione going to be able to see her baby every day. Rose would be spending half her time with Ron, and when she was with Ron it meant that she wouldn't be with Hermione. Yes, most of Hermione was in anguish over this fact.
And yet there was another part of her that was happy Ron was there to disrupt their life. Now there would be someone to go through the same things she was. Now someone else would have to help her with the hard decisions. Nothing about Rose was completely on her shoulders- if Hermione made a mistake it would be Ron's fault too. And when Rose hit some milestone that had Hermione weeping relentlessly, Ron would probably be tearful too. Come to think of it, Rose was going to be the one thing that kept Ron in Hermione's life. He would always and inevitably be there for the rest of her days, and Hermione wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. While she did love him and always wanted him to be in her life, she wasn't sure of the manner he'd treat her in. Aside from that, Hermione wasn't looking forward to the day she had to watch him marry some beautiful stranger that he loved with all his heart- given, of course, that she was invited to the wedding. She was sure that it was going to happen eventually, but it made her feel nauseous. Nobody would ever love Ron as much as she would, of that she was sure. But she thought he could probably love another person more than her, because he was right. She was a self centered bitch. He had been so amazing and loving and wonderful to her, and this was how she repaid him. By being a brown-nosing, know-it-all, hideous, boring work-o-holic. He should have never loved her in the first place. He could certainly love another person more. He was better than her, he deserved better than her.
Hermione stared around the coffee shop as she absentmindedly stirred her coffee. The warm bits of stream drifted up from the cup, teasing her nose with its delicious smell. She wanted to drink it so badly, but she knew that if she did so she would regret the loss of the drink. For three reasons, really. Number one, the drink gave her something to do with her hands. Without it, she wouldn't have a thing to distract her from biting her fingernails or clenching her fists in her anger or sadness or self-hatred. Number two, the drink was tasty, and if it was gone she'd be much too tempted to buy another one. Number three, the drink was warm. Rain was pouring down outside of the window- beautifully reflecting Hermione's mood- and while it was the delightful, warm rain that you would expect for the month of May, something about the color of the sky made Hermione want to curl up with her gorgeous daughter, a hot chocolate, and a very good book on the couch. Unfortunately, this ridiculous meeting with Ron was preventing her from doing so.
And he was late. Annoyingly late.
Hermione decided to People Watch. People Watching was fun. She and Ron used to do it when they were dating. They'd go out, grab some ice-cream, then sit on a bench in a crowded area and make up stories about the people around them. If Rose were here, Hermione probably wouldn't be forced to entertain herself in this painful manner. At the last minute, however, she'd made the decision to leave Rose at home, on account of the serious nature of the meeting. Rose was spending her last day with her Grandparents before she moved out of Hermione's childhood home and came back to live with her mum. Her mum who, instead of spending her Saturday with her daughter, was sitting in a coffee shop filled with memories and people. Zooming her gaze around the room, Hermione decided to give a story to the first person her eyes landed on. That person was an attractive blond woman with concerned eyes gazing and nodded a an equally good looking man. Third date, Hermione guessed. He's telling a story and she's pretending she cares while secretly wondering what he looks like with his shirt off. She let out a little snort. Ha. I used to do that with Ron when he talked about Quidditch. And I'd bet money he did the same when I was going on about House-Elves.
“Thinking of stories?” asked a deep voice, startling Hermione from her stupor.
“Um, yeah,” she said, before adding, “you're late.”
He discarded this comment.
“Give me a person,” was his response.
“Oh, alright,” Hermione said squeakily, and then she nodded her head in the direction of a brunet woman wearing frumpy clothes and large glasses, talking happily to a much better looking man who seemed to be hanging onto her every word. “Her.”
“Right,” Ron said, and he mused for a few seconds before picking a story. “They work together. She's been in love with him for years, and he's loved her almost as long. He's going to ask her out on a date, and she's going to appear with a sexy dress and no glasses, therefor finally looking hot. The man will realize that sometimes, not being superficial pays off generously. They're going to get married and have kids with her smarts and his compassion.”
The story sounded familiar.
“Nice,” Hermione commented. “I like your take on the woman.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Ron said, mouth forming into a lopsided smile, “Can't take all the credit, though. I know a girl like that.”
“Do you now?” Hermione asked, laughing.
“Well, she's prettier,” Ron admitted.
The laughing stopped abruptly. Hermione stared at Ron, confusion dancing across her face before melting away and giving into a flustered expression.
“Um... yeah.” He grinned at this reaction, causing Hermione to swallow nervously. She hadn't thought she needed to prepare for a Ron with this attitude. Angry Ron, sad Ron, emotionless Ron. Not teasing, playful Ron. She wasn't sure how to deal with those- it wasn't like she had prepared for this. When she had been nervously practicing comebacks in front of the mirror, they had not been for this mindset of Ron's. “So... erm, we'd better start looking at the custody agreement, huh?”
“Hermione-” Ron started, but she shook her head frantically as she slapped the paper onto the table, eying it as though it was something dangerous and disgusting. She couldn't speak to him, not now. She couldn't get her mind clouded with confusion.
“Okay,” she said, staring down at it. “It says that you'll have Rose every Sunday to Tuesday, and on Wednesdays we'll alternate per week. Then I'll have her from Thursday to Saturday. We will hold holidays together so that Rose isn't forced to have two holidays and hate us for it. We'll buy gifts separately while still conferring so that the presents aren't the same. Next, we-”
“No,” Ron said, causing Hermione to look up from the document with shock on her face.
“What?” she said. “You don't like the holiday thing?”
“Not particularly,” Ron stated, his tone bratty.
“Well, I suppose we don't have to do that,” Hermione whispered, her expression slightly heartbroken as she reached over to cross it off.
“Hermione, it's not enough,” Ron said firmly. “I need more.”
“More time with Rose?” Hermione squeaked, her face visibly paler. “No, I'm sorry. I can't do that. I can't let you have her more than this. I need her, I love her, I raised her. And I can't go longer than this without seeing her.”
“There's a way around that, you know,” Ron whispered, staring into her eyes. Hermione shivered at his deep gaze, looking terribly confused.
“There... there isn't,” she protested.
“How about I write it down?” he suggested quietly, and Hermione shook her head, eyes wide.
But he tugged the contract over to him, twisted Hermione's self inking quill from her grip and wrote words carefully on the contract, ignoring her burning gaze as he did so. It didn't take him long to write, and he swallowed nervously before passing the contract back to Hermione.
I, Ronald Bilius Weasley, promise to marry Hermione Jean Granger. I promise to remain devoted to our daughter, and to have at least one other kid so that we can get it right at least once, and to take a travel-less job in the ministry so that she never has to spend a night alone again. I promise that I will do these things (and more) not because I feel obliged to but because I love her. Because I do love her, I always have loved her, and I always will love her. No matter what.
Hermione's hands were badly shaking by the time she finished reading. Her heart seemed to have leaped into her throat, and she looked up at Ron with huge eyes.
“Wh-what is this?” she asked, voice trembling frantically.
“I give up,” Ron said simply.
“I give up trying to act like I don't care, pretending that I don't love you. The honest truth is that I can't live without you.”
She stared at him, confused.
“Ron... stop... stop whatever you're doing.”
“What am I doing?”
“Trying to... I don't know, I don't know what you're trying to do. Just... just stop it!”
The last thing was said in a more shrill, panicked voice, causing a couple of people to turn towards them, curiosity on their faces.
“Hermione,” Ron said quietly, “I'm not trying to do anything.”
“You're tricking me or something,” Hermione decided, her eyes wild. “You're trying to make me hope!”
Ron lost his temper almost instantly. He raised his voice, and more people turned to look at them.
“Why the hell would I do that?”
“Revenge!” Hermione decided, nodding her head. “Revenge because I hid Rose from you. That must be it.”
“HERMIONE!” Ron yelled. He stood up abruptly, causing his chair to fall down. “How the bloody hell could you accuse me of doing that? Do you know me?”
Now everyone was quiet, staring at them with surprised looks on their faces.
“Of course I know you,” Hermione cried, standing up as well. “How could you suggest I don't?”
“So why are you-?”
“Because this is too good, Ron!” she said, tears beginning to well up in her eyes. “I betrayed you, you can't love me... I'm not prepared for this!”
“Why do you have to be prepared for everything?” Ron responded impatiently. “Honestly, take a risk!”
“I've risked everything before,” Hermione whispered, pausing to bite her bottom lip. “It doesn't usually work out well, Ron.”
“Hermione,” he sighed, his voice pleading, “believe me. I love you.”
“Because you're Hermione,” he said, reaching out and brushing a piece of hair away from her face. She flinched away from him. Huffing impatiently, Ron geared himself up to yell at her again. Then he noticed the crowd watching them. Without hesitating, he grabbed Hermione's arm and pulled her roughly outside, ignoring her protests (“The custody agreement is going to get wet! Stop it, Ron!”). Rain poured down on their heads, and Hermione took a second to appreciate how cliché this moment was before rounding angrily on Ron.
“What's wrong with you?” she asked heatedly.
They were both so into their argument, neither of them noticed the large crowd of people that was pressed against the window, trying to watch their fight.
“Nothing, what's wrong with you?” Ron counted.
“Nothing's wrong with me!” Hermione argued, but Ron made an indignant noise and cut across her.
“Usually when a man you're in love with tells you he wants to be with you, you're supposed to be overcome with joy. You aren't supposed to push him away.”
“But you can't mean it!” Hermione groaned, hiding her head in her hands. Ron faltered.
“You can't mean that you love me!” Hermione continued. “You think you do, but you don't.”
“Believe me,” Ron said, prying her hands gently away from her face. “I definitely love you.”
“Well if you think you love me now, you'll stop loving me later,” Hermione said, refusing to accept this for what it was.
“No I won't!” Ron said, so pissed off his face was turning red. “I will never fall out of love with you, we will never fall out of love with each other!”
“How do you know?”
“I know because we've wanted each other since we were teenagers. You knew me through all my bad haircuts, ugly outfits, voice cracks, bad jokes, and acne onslaughts. And you still want me, all these years later.”
But Ron wasn't done.
“And I knew you when your personality was seemingly insufferable, when your hair was completely out of control, when you got those little zits in random places on your face, when you had no clue how to use makeup and on the rare occasions you tried you failed epically. I still wanted you all those years ago and I do want you now. It took a boggart to prove that to me, but I know it for a fact.”
She was dripping wet, and he was dripping wet, and they were just staring at each other. Her light purple dress was plastered to her body, and his white t-shirt was doing the same on him. He could see in her eyes that her defenses were wearing down, that she was going to agree, and he took in deep breaths to calm himself down. She spoke after a little less than a minute.
“What about this?” Hermione asked, indicating to the contract.
“Screw it,” Ron said, and then he took it from her, ripped it in half, and kissed her.
She clung to him, and he lifted her up in the rain, her hands lost in his hair, her eyelashes tickling his cheeks. It was sensual, kissing in the rain, but they didn't focus on the romance of the situation. Instead, as they kissed, they focused on the fact that this was a kiss that solidified forever, that they would always be together from that day on.
It didn't scare either of them. Hermione pulled back, and Ron stared up at her, as he was still holding her, lifting her up above him.
“You said you wanted to marry me.”
“I do,” he promised.
“Do you have a ring?” Hermione asked, tenderly stroking a wet strand of hair away from his face.
“I do,” he repeated. “If you want it.”
“Why wouldn't I...?” but her question was answered as he reached into his pocket, pulled out a ring, and showed it to her. “It's the same one,” Hermione breathed, staring down at it. In her minds eye, she saw herself throwing it at him, hurt displayed all over her face. He nodded.
“Do you want it?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. Yes, I do.”
And so he slipped it onto her finger for the second time, where it would remain for eternity.
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