Sweet God in heaven, curse me now.
Hermione sighed, glancing around the crowded inn at the noisy gathering. This evening was NOT going as she had planned. Her much anticipated night out with Ron had somehow exploded into a Gryffindor reunion, eliminating the quiet romance she’d envisioned. After the week she’d had, soft candlelight and dinner with her husband sounded heavenly; this, however, was pure hell. Not ten minutes after they’d been seated, Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom found their little booth and stopped to talk Quidditch. Ron enthusiastically commented on team rankings, Dean mentioned the World Cup, and it began. The two waved over several other mates that had come to the Three Broomsticks for a night out with the boys, and their cozy table for two swelled to a party of ten. Her date night flew out the window in a rush of Bludger feints and Quaffle saves. The hope of salvation that roared to life when Harry and Ginny arrived thirty minutes later died a painful death when Ginny, now the sports editor for The Prophet, began to give them inside information about the professional players she’d interviewed. Now, two hours and fifty injury stories later, Hermione’s eyes had begun to glaze over in boredom. She wished she’d brought a book to keep her mind occupied.
Suddenly, someone jostled her from behind, spilling butterbeer down her back. Whirling around, she saw Seamus stumbling his way to their table. He sat down between Dean and George, ignoring her completely after hearing the conversation turn to goals made in the last Puddlemere United match. Hermione decided she’d had enough.
“Ronald!” She leaned over, brushed aside the shaggy red locks that he kept saying he needed to cut but she secretly loved, and whispered into the tall man’s ear. “I’m ready to go now, love.”
Deep in discussion about the abilities of the Cannon’s new Keeper, he glanced over at his wife. “In a bit, okay? I want to hear about the new move Petrovsky used at the match last Thursday.” He patted her shoulder absently and turned back to the blokes at the table. Once that man got started on Quidditch, very little could distract him from the subject.
Well, it was worth a try, thought Hermione. He really hasn’t seen the boys for quite a while, so I guess I can’t be too irritated with him for wanting to stay. Work has been so stressful lately. Still, I had hoped for some time alone....
Giving it up as a bad job, she rested her chin in her hand and studied her husband. Ron laughed as he animatedly described a player’s reaction to a foul. A smile curved Hermione’s lips as she watched his hands fly through the air. Those hands. Some girls loved a man’s posterior or chest, and those were both quite lovely attributes on Ron, but his hands just did it for Hermione. His long, tapered fingers bore calluses, and the palms felt rough from years of Quidditch games and hard work. The strength in those hands amazed her almost as much as the gentle tenderness they could display. He’d used those hands to cradle her children softly and touch her body in ways that drove her to madness. That last thought grabbed her attention, and she let her eyes drift up his muscled forearms to the blue t-shirt stretched across his chest. Yes, to her the man was quite fit. After ten years of marriage and a lifetime of friendship, she still wanted him badly. Too bad he was completely ignoring her.
Why did everyone have to be here tonight, of all nights? I even got Molly to watch the children tonight! Here we are, wasting a perfectly good evening talking Quidditch when there are so many other things we could be doing.
Placing her hand on Ron’s thigh under the table, she began to rub small circles on his leg through his jeans. Without thinking, he took her hand in his and continued to banter on. She huffed softly, exasperated at how thick the man could be. Did she have to beat him over the head to get his attention? Rolling her eyes, she leaned toward him again.
“Ronald, your mother has Rose and Hugo, and I’m ready to go home.” She hoped that he understood the implications of that statement. It had been a while since the couple had had the house to themselves. Hermione’s imagination ran wild with all the opportunities this afforded them. No locked doors, no trying to keep the noise down, any room in the house available…
Ron, however, remained immersed in the conversation at the table. Patting Hermione’s hand again, he quickly nodded at her. “Mmm hmmm. In a minute, Hermione.”
Frustrated, turned on, and a little annoyed at Ron’s dismissal, Hermione stood and excused herself for the ladies’ room. She closed the door behind her, blocking out the din and smoke of the inn. What was wrong with that man? Was it her? After being together so long, had Ron lost interest in her? Looking in the mirror, she appraised her reflection. Chestnut curls had escaped from twist she’d pinned her hair up into, and she tucked one behind her ear.
Not bad for a thirty two year old mum. Thank God for push up bras! I just wish the knickers that matched it weren’t so uncomfortable.
Stepping into the bathroom stall, she lifted her skirt to adjust. She’d worn the bloody things to impress Ron after their date, but as it was going, she may as well have worn a flannel dressing gown. At this rate, they would never get to the point this evening when her pants would even be noticed. Suddenly, Hermione froze. In the back of her mind, a devious thought began working. Part of her shrank back from the very idea, but the bigger part of her-the one that wanted her handsome husband to sweep her away from this bar and ravish her in their bedroom at home-won over. She smirked as she put her plan to action, weaving through the tables until she reached her seat again. If this didn’t work, nothing in bloody England would turn his head. Ron hardly noticed her return; he was too engrossed in Seamus’s story.
One last time, Hermione bent toward Ron’s ear. “I’m really ready to go, “she whispered, brushing his ear gently with her lips. As she spoke, she slipped something into his pocket. Then Hermione stood, waved to Ginny, and proceeded toward the door.
Without taking his eyes from the group, Ron continued his story of running into a Cannons’ Beater in Diagon Alley as he reached into his pocket. When his hand emerged, all talking ceased. Everyone’s eyes fixed in shocked surprise at the black bit of lace and string dangling from his fingers. Harry choked on his butterbeer, and Ginny pounded on his back as she stifled a fit of giggles at her friend’s genius.
Ron stared at the knickers in his hand, frozen for a moment, and then stood up so suddenly his chair fell backwards and hit the stone floor with a crash.
“I’ll, um, see you blokes later,” he stammered, blushing. Without another word, he almost ran toward the door Hermione had exited moments before, nearly taking out Rosmerta in the process.
The table of old schoolmates sat in stunned silence for a moment, until Seamus looked around in wonder. “It’s always the quiet ones, ain’t it?”