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Chapter 11 : Deceit
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"Yes Ron. Didn't you notice that five months ago?" Harry asked, slightly annoyed, "What could really have changed?"
"I thought he was Charlie's." Ron stated, his tone implying that it was blatantly obvious.
"Charlie stole her from me. He stole Hermione."
"They're still married Ron. Why do you like this baby all of a sudden?"
"This is Fred's son. Knowing that is like having Fred back in miniature, adorable form." Ron grinned , "I can't wait to tell mum. She'll be so happy!"
"Ron! Can you hear yourself?" Harry flicked Ron in the head, "No she won't! She will be angry and heartbroken! Do you really think that she will be happy that right before he died her son illegitimately enpregnated his little brother's girlfriend? Do you think she'll be happy that upon discovering the pregnancy Hermione married Charlie? Do you really think that she'll be happy that even though Charlie is not aware that Titus is not his son he is still a horrible father and a horrible husband?"
Ron stared at Harry, mouth half open, clearly flabbergasted.
"The answer is NO Ron!"
Ron's eyebrows furrowed and his eyes grew dark with rage. Harry began to back away when a cloudy silver dragon flew over him and landed on the carpet between him and Ron. Harry looked back at Ron, understanding the sudden anger. The dragon roared, emitting a familiar deep voice. “Lunch with the girls. Leaky Cauldron. 20 minutes. Bring my son.”
The dragon flew over Ron's shoulder, redirecting Harry's attention to Ron's enraged expression. Harry slowly grabbed Titus as to not alarm Ron. As soon as he had a tight grip on the small child, Harry disapparated, ensuring that Titus was nowhere near the inevitable results of Ron's manic fury. Harry summoned Titus's diaper bag and walked into the Leaky Cauldron.
"She's beautiful, isn't she Charlie?" Ron asked, watching Hermione from across the room.
"That she is Ronnie," Charlie agreed, taking a sip of his Firewhiskey.
"She's finally mine!" Ron was beaming.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that little bro." Charlie said, the smile melting off Ron's face.
"I bet you ten galleons that I could get her to go on a date with me." Charlie smirked.
"I'm not going to pay you to steal my girlfriend!" Ron gasped.
"Fine. I'll do it for free." Charlie tapped Ron on the shoulder as he got up and strolled over to Harry and Ginny.
"Hey everybody. Sorry I'm late." Ron addressed the lunch party with a smile on his face.
"Here Ron, we saved you a seat." Harry said timidly, pulling out the chair next to him.
Ron sat down and stole a glance at Charlie who had not noticed his arrival. Charlie was busily chatting with Hermione who smiled in confusion. This wasn't the first time he had seen that situation.
Hermione walked down the stairs looking sickly.
"You okay 'Mione?" Ron asked concerned.
Hermione did not take notice of Ron's solicitude and continued to her usual seat at the table. Ron shook off his discomfort and took his usual seat across from Hermione.
"Hey 'Mione, can we talk later?" Ron asked.
Hermione stared at her hands, deep in thought.
Is she ignoring me or is there something wrong with her? Ron wondered.
"How have you been Miss Hermione?" Ron's eyes narrowed at the source of the voice, Charlie.
Hermione pulled out of her trance and looked at Charlie, clearly confused. "As good as anyone can be right now. How have you been Charlie?"
"It's good to be home, you know?" Ron had heard that voice before. Charlie had once used that voice when explaining to Ron how to get a witch to fall for him. He knew what Charlie was doing and wasn't going to let that happen.
Ron cleared his throat rather loudly. Charlie's eyes quickly flicked from Hermione to Ron and back and his smile widened. Hermione went unnoticed of this exchange.
She stared at Charlie blankly then shook her head slightly. "No. I won't be home for a while."
"And why not?" Charlie asked, intrigued. Ron knew it was insincere but Hermione seemed to think his interest was genuine.
"I modified my parents' memories before the war."
Ron couldn't help but stare, anger rising in the pit of his stomach.
"Where are they now?"
"Do you plan on looking for them?"
"Why not now?"
Hermione stared at him, not a a word in her mouth. Her eyebrows pulled tightly together in confusion.
"Okay, everybody dig in!" Mum called from the end of the table.
"Would you like some of Madam Rosemerta's famous mead?" Charlie asked, holding the aged bottle. "Hermione?"
"Oh, sorry. No thank you." That was curious. Hermione never passed up mead.
"You sure?" Charlie asked, raising an eyebrow.
Hermione nodded and reached for the pot pie in the center of the table.
"No, Hermione, let me." Charlie grabbed the serving knife before Hermione was able to. "Is this enough?"
"Thank you that's plenty. But, Charlie, I really could've gotten it myself"
Yes Charlie. She could have. Or I could have. Ron thought.
"I know." Charlie said, flashing his signature lady-charming smile.
Hermione looked away from Charlie for the first time since their converstation began. Ron was boring holes into her forehead from across the table. Hermione quickly looked away, noticing his obvious anger.
In the process of picking up her fork, Hermione bumped Charlie's elbow against hers. "I'm sorry." She said, eyes never leaving the carrots on her plate.
"That's perfectly fine. I'm hard to sit next to. Lefty!" Charlie said waving his left hand.
Hermione's head popped up and stared at Charlie's hand. "A bunch of you are lefties huh? You, Fred, Ginny. "
How'd she know Fred was a lefty?
"Right you are! Get it? Right!"
Hermione actually laughed at his pathetic joke. Ron was screwed. "I get it."
"Hermione? I have a question." Charlie informed in a much more serious tone.
"Would you care to have dinner with me sometime?"
"I'm having dinner with you now Charlie." Hermione smiled, clearly not understanding.
"I mean like... a date." Charlie said pitifully, putting on a ruse.
Hermione's eyes widened and she just stared for a few moments.
"That's okay. You don't have to say yes."
Damnit! Now she's going to say yes!
"Hey Charlie?" Hermione said in a soft, insecure voice.
"Yea?" Charlie replied, as if he didn't know exactly what she was going to say.
"I'd be delighted"
Ron pounded his fist on the table resulting in a smirk and a wink from Charlie.
"Ron?" Harry waved his hand in front of Ron's face.
"Plan on ordering or are you just going to daydream all day?"
"Oh," Ron turned to face Tom, "I'll have the pot pie and some mead.
AN: Many apologies are in order. I am ever so sorry for the extreme length of time it ha taken me to post this chapter an I apologize for the briefness of the chapter. I have had a rather discouraging lack of motivation. I hope you enjoy regardless.
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