Chapter Twenty Nine: Family Part 2
It was an half-hour before the Weasley’s were due to arrive at Narcissa Malfoy’s for dinner, and Ron was starting to drive Harry insane. He was pacing back and forth in front of the mirror in his bedroom, fixing his hair and fidgeting with the collar of the black shirt he was wearing (‘too look nice’, Mrs Weasley had said.)
‘Ron, will you please stop pacing? Merlin, you’re making me anxious,’ Harry exclaimed, annoyed.
‘Sorry,’ Ron said. He sat down, and started rubbing his hands on his jeans instead. ‘Is this normal? To be this nervous about seeing your ex-girlfriend?’
‘I don’t know, Ron,’ Harry sighed. ‘Why are you so nervous, anyway? It’s dinner. Just try to ignore Malfoy, and you’ll be fine.’
‘Why’d you have to go remind me?’ Ron groaned.
Harry almost rolled his eyes. He wished Ginny were here. The real one. She’d be laughing at Ron if she could see him now. Actually, she’d probably still be furious at him for cheating on Hermione, but then she’d still be laughing at him. ‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘Like I told you before, just ignore him. Hermione’s probably told him to leave you alone, too. Let’s just get through this dinner without any incidents, please.’
‘I’m not making any promises,’ Ron grumbled. ‘I don’t get why Mrs Malfoy invited us for dinner anyway. D’you think maybe Hermione had something to do with it?’
‘Why do you think Hermione had anything to do with it? And Mrs Malfoy did invite us on New Years, remember?’ Harry reminded him.
‘Right,’ Ron said. ‘But it’s weird. The Malfoy’s have always hated us. Why the sudden change in heart? It doesn’t make sense. So maybe she’s making an effort to be nice because Hermione’s dating the Ferret.’
‘I actually think it was just Lucius that hated you guys. Maybe Narcissa feels bad about the rivalry, and now that she’s free of him, she wants to make amends,’ he said. ‘It makes sense, if you really think about it.’
‘I suppose. Still doesn’t change the fact that Malfoy’s a git,’ Ron said. ‘What’s Hermione see in him, anyway?’
‘I dunno. He has changed, though. He seems to really care about her. Maybe he lets Hermione see another side of him, one that no one else sees, I mean,’ he said. He shrugged. ‘Who knows? But Hermione’s happy. And that’s all that really matters, I guess.’
Ron snorted, but he refused to look at Harry. ‘She won’t even give me a second chance. And now the Ferret’s gone and stolen her. I won’t ever get her back, Harry. It’s too late for us now,’ he said.
Harry felt a pang of sympathy for Ron. He wished he could have his two best friends back, too. It didn’t seem fair that they were all gone at the same time. Ginny had been kidnapped. He hardly saw Hermione anymore, and Ron was a lovesick puppy—again. He wanted everything to go back the way it was before. But they couldn’t go back. Not now. Not anymore.
‘Have you ever thought about apologising? I mean, even if you were under the Imperius, you still did technically cheat on her, Ron. Maybe if you apologise, she’ll let you back in her life. Wouldn’t you rather be friends than nothing?’ He asked.
‘I don’t think I could stand it. Watching Hermione with someone else. Especially the Ferret. It would be torture,’ Ron said. ‘And maybe we wouldn’t be friends, even if I apologised. Maybe we’ll simply be two people who make small talk at breakfast and say hi in the corridors. Maybe we’ll just pretend that we were never best friends, that we were never anything more than that. It will be as if we never had a past at all.’
‘That’s better than nothing, though, isn’t it?’ Harry asked. ‘You take what you can get, right? It’s better than Hermione cutting you out completely.’
‘I suppose,’ Ron said. ‘But I would miss it. I would miss the way things used to be. And I’d slip up, and remind her of something, and then it would hurt all over again. It’d be like torturing myself every day.’
She still loves you. He didn’t say it, but he wanted to. He hated knowing that Hermione still had feelings for Ron. He could see it in her face when she said his name. Even if she was in love with Draco now, those feelings for Ron would probably never go away. There were some things time couldn’t erase.
‘Harry? Ron? It’s time to go,’ Mrs Weasley’s voice called from downstairs.
They got up, and headed downstairs, where they found the rest of the Weasley’s waiting for them. Imposter-Ginny was wearing black pants and a purple blouse, and she smiled at Harry. He had to force himself to smile back, walk over, and kiss her on the cheek. Ron fake-gagged.
‘Ronald, darling, remember to keep your temper. I know you don’t like Draco, especially now that he and Hermione are together, but please, refrain from starting a fight,’ Mrs Weasley said.
‘Fine,’ Ron grumbled.
Harry had a feeling tonight wasn’t going to go well, even if, miraculously, Ron managed to keep his temper.
‘Hermione’s dating the Ferret? When’d that happen?’ George demanded. ‘Actually, forget that part. How did it happen?’
‘They got together shortly after Valentine’s Day, I think. A few weeks after Astoria supposedly broke up with Draco for cheating on her with Hermione, which isn’t true at all. And I’ve no idea how it happened. I guess they just fell in love,’ Imposter-Ginny said, shrugging.
George stared. But before he could say anything else, Mrs Weasley ushered them all to the fireplace. She went first, after telling George to mind his manners, and Mr Weasley followed. Then George and Angelina went, and then Bill and Fleur—who looked very pregnant—and then Ginny. Harry hesitated before stepping into the fireplace. He caught a glimpse of Ron’s pale face before he disappeared in a swirl of green flames.
When he tumbled out of the Malfoy’s fireplace a few minutes later—he still hadn’t managed to gracefully walk out of a fireplace—, he was immediately hit with the delicious smell of ham coming from the kitchen. He stood, muttered a spell to clean himself off, and put his glass back on. He’d put them in his pocket before entering the fireplace, so he didn’t break them again.
‘Harry!’ Hermione cried, running over to him. She threw her arms around his neck, and he returned the embrace.
‘Hello. Happy Easter,’ he said when she pulled back, smiling.
She smiled. ‘Happy Easter. Did you get the basket of goodies I sent you yesterday?’ She asked.
‘Yes. And Ron almost ate them all,’ he said, laughing. ‘Did you get yours? I sent chocolate frogs, licorice wands, and Bertie Botts.’
‘I got them. Draco ate half the Bertie Botts before noon yesterday, though,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Come in. Make yourself comfortable. Where’s Ron, by the way?’
Just as she said it, Ron came out of the fireplace, nearly knocking into Harry. ‘Sorry, mate,’ he said. ‘I almost got the wrong house. Thankfully the owners weren’t home. I did scare their cat, though. Almost landed on the stupid thing. Oh.’ He stopped, finally noticing Hermione.
‘Hello, Ronald. Had a good Easter?’ She asked, refusing to quite look at him. Harry could tell that she was chewing the inside of her cheek.
‘So far, yes. And you?’ He asked.
She nodded. ‘Yes. Well, why don’t you two go sit down? I’m going to talk to Fleur for a moment,’ she said.
She all but fled, heading over to Fleur, who greeted her with a hug.
‘That went... well,’ Ron said, looking a little disgruntled.
Harry nodded in agreement, and they went to sit down. Ron fidgeted on the couch a little, looking around the living room. Imposter-Ginny came over, and sat down next to him. She watched Ron fidget for a moment, and then leaned closer to him. ‘What’s the matter with Ron?’ She whispered in his ear.
‘He’s trying to maintain self-control so he doesn’t end up punching Draco in the face. He’s obviously finding it rather difficult,’ Harry whispered back.
Imposter-Ginny snorted, and leaned back. Ron didn’t seem to notice. ‘Mum and Dad seem to be getting along with Mrs Malfoy, at least,’ she said.
He followed her gaze. She was right—they definitely seemed to be getting along. ‘I think that Lucius was the only one that really hated your family,’ he said. ‘And maybe Draco, for a little while. But it doesn’t seem like Narcissa shared that hatred.’
‘No,’ Imposter-Ginny agreed. ‘Well, anyway, I always felt bad for them. It must have been so terrible, living with such a monster. I don’t know how Narcissa stayed with him all those years while he did terrible things to them.’
Harry blinked, turning to stare at her. ‘You think... you think they were abused?’ He stuttered.
‘Well, it would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? Narcissa did seem to be rather afraid of him, and Draco... well, maybe the reason he was cruel growing up was because that was the only thing he’d ever known,’ she said, shrugging.
She didn’t sound like she was guessing, though. In fact, she sounded certain that Draco and Narcissa had been abused. ‘Huh. It does explain a lot, actually,’ he said, hating that he agreed with her. But suddenly he had an idea. The real Ginny had never seemed interested in the Malfoys. The way the Imposter said it made him think that maybe this was someone who’d been very observant and very interested in them. But he couldn’t think of anyone. Maybe he’d ask Draco, and see if he could.
‘Hey, Gin. Do you remember in mine and Ron’s first year, when you were upset you couldn’t go to Hogwarts and Fred and George promised they’d send you a Hogwarts toilet seat?’ He asked.
The Imposter looked confused. ‘That was a really long time ago, Harry. I’m not sure I remember from that far back,’ she sighed. ‘Why?’
Well, that was it. The proof t Ginny had remembered. For months after Fred died, she’d come out of the bathroom crying because she couldn’t stand looking at the toilet seat. It set her off every time. And Harry knew why. He remembered his first year of Hogwarts very vividly, and especially his first time on Platform 9¾.
‘No reason,’ he said, shrugging.
At that moment, Narcissa announced that dinner was ready, and they went into the kitchen, where a table with just enough seats for all of the guests and the Malfoys’ was set with elaborate dishes. He saw treacle tart sitting on the counter, as well as an apple pie and a cheesecake. On the table were mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, ham, gravy, and even a bowl of cranberry sauce. His stomach growled.
When they were all seated—Harry was sitting next to Ginny and Ron—, Narcissa stood at the end of the table and held up a wine glass.
‘I would like to thank you all for coming,’ she said. ‘I know that our families have not always gotten along, and though that was never by choice, I appreciate that you were all willing to give Draco and I a second chance. I know it will be hard for some of you to forgive the things that were said and done, but I hope that we will be able to put the past behind us, and start over. I would also like to say congratulations to Bill and Fleur, and I hope you find parenthood as much as a joy as I have.’
‘Thank you,’ Bill said quietly. Harry could tell that he hadn’t been expecting that. Fleur looked just as surprised.
Narcissa smiled at him. ‘Anyway,’ she said. ‘I propose a toast. To putting the past behind us and moving forward. To new beginnings, and second chances.’
‘To new beginnings,’ they chorused, and sipped from their glasses.
Harry could feel the tension lift from the room, and after that, dinner began in a much more comfortable tone.
Dinner was going well so far. Draco had succeeded in making conversation with Arthur Weasley, who was gushing enthusiastically about muggle things. Hermione had given Draco some help in that department, describing the gadgets that she had grown up with, as well as several other muggle things. Arthur had looked shocked when Draco first mentioned muggle technology, which wasn’t surprising. You wouldn’t have thought someone from a Pureblood family like Draco’s would know anything about muggle technology—let alone the muggles themselves.
So far, the tension had between the two families had eased a lot. Narcissa was deep in conversation with Molly, and both women seemed to be well on the way to becoming friends. Only Ron seemed uncomfortable in the group, though Hermione wasn’t sure if it was because of her or if it was because he really didn’t like the Malfoy’s. She had no idea, but it seemed like her Lavender theory had just been proved right.
When dinner was over, they went into the living room for desert, but Hermione stayed behind. Draco looked concerned, but she kissed him on the cheek and sent him off, telling him that she had to use the restroom—which she didn’t. Really, she was hoping to talk to Harry alone.
But Harry went with Ginny into the living room, and she was about to follow when someone touched her arm. She whirled, startled, and saw that it was only Ron.
‘Erm… can I talk to you, for a second?’ He stammered out. His face was beet red, for some reason.
‘S-sure,’ she said, hesitantly. She wasn’t entirely sure if it was a good idea or not, but she did want to talk to.
He looked around. ‘Privately?’ He added.
She nodded. ‘We can talk in the guest room,’ she said, and they headed down the hall, her stomach doing somersaults.
She didn’t close the door behind her. If Draco came looking for her, she didn’t want a repeat of the scene with Blaise. ‘What’s up?’ She asked, sitting on the bed. Ron remained standing. He looked extremely nervous.
‘I wanted to apologise,’ he blurted. ‘For… doing what I did. And I wanted to tell you that I… I wasn’t myself at the time. That’s no excuse, I know. I’m not asking you to forgive me or anything. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.’
She was stunned. That was the last thing she’d expected, for him to apologise. And he had basically confirmed her Lavender theory for her, meaning he was probably no longer under the Imperius curse. ‘Thank you,’ she said quietly. ‘I know that must have difficult for you to say, so thank you for saying it. And I do forgive you, you know.’
‘Did you get… I mean, you’re wearing it, so you obviously did… did you like the bracelet?’ He asked.
‘From Harry, you mean?’ She asked, pretending to be oblivious. ‘Yes, I loved it. It’s really beautiful. I was really surprised when I got it. Not that Harry wouldn’t do something like this for me, but… well, I didn’t expect him to put that much thought into a gift from me. I can see him doing it for Ginny, but not me.’
‘It wasn’t from Harry,’ he blurted. ‘I mean, well, Harry sent it to you and pretended it was from him, but it was really from me. And you can just pretend I never said anything. I don’t know why I said anything.’
‘Ron, stop,’ she said, sighing. He looked at her. ‘I know about Lavender, alright? And I know you were only at the bookstore to get the book for me, to congratulate me on getting Head Girl, like you knew I would. I know what really happened.’
He stared at her. ‘Y-you know? But… how do you know? I didn’t think anyone else knew except me and Harry. What else do you know?’ He asked.
‘What do you mean, what else do I know? I know that Lavender Brown put you under the Imperius Curse for who knows how long,’ she said. ‘What else is there?’
‘Nothing,’ he said, too quickly. ‘Nothing. So… what are we supposed to do now? You know what really happened. I never ever meant to cheat on you, Mione. I swear. It was the biggest mistake I’ll ever make in my life.’
She closed her eyes for a moment, holding back tears. When she opened them again, he was watching her with a careful expression. ‘I would… I would like to still be friends, if you’re OK with that. But I’m with Draco now, Ron,’ she said quietly. ‘And I love Draco.’
‘I know. I can see that,’ he said. ‘And he obviously loves you too. Stupid ferret. But I don’t know if I can just be friends with you now, Mione. I don’t know if I can watch you be in love with someone else. I don’t think I can do that to myself every day.’
It felt like he’d just punched her in the stomach. She exhaled, blinking back tears. ‘So… what now? We just avoid each other then?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘I didn’t say I wanted to avoid you. I didn’t say I didn’t want to be friends. But I love you, Mione. That’s the truth, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. I love you, and I’d rather be your friend than nothing. But I’m going to make it clear that I am in love with you. I don’t care if you’re dating the Ferret or someone else. I love you, and that will always be true, no matter what.’
Hermione froze, staring at him. She had no idea what to say. ‘That’s the first time you’ve said that to me,’ she whispered. ‘You never did before.’
‘I was too afraid before. I was afraid you wouldn’t say it back,’ he said. ‘But not anymore. And you can shake your head at me all you want, but there will always be a part of you that loves me, too.’
She forced herself not to cry. He was right, of course. She’d probably always love Ron, in some way. ‘Why are you saying these things?’ She asked. ‘What do you expect me to say?’
‘I’m saying them because they’re true,’ he said, as if it were that simple.
And to him, it was, Hermione realised. To Ron, it really was that simple. ‘That’s not fair, you know,’ she said. Her cheeks were wet, and she realised that she was crying. ‘You can’t come in here and say all these things and think it won’t change a thing. You think Draco won’t know you still love me? You think Ginny and Harry won’t? Because they will. Everyone will know just by looking at you, that you’re still in love with me. And what’s that going to do? It won’t just be hard for me, it will be hard for Draco, too. The only reason he hasn’t punched you in the face yet is because he knows that I can’t just turn off the fact that I love you over night. You can’t just turn seven years of friendship off like a switch.’
‘Don’t cry,’ he said. ‘I can’t stand it when you cry.’
She sighed, wiping at her cheeks. But it was no use—the tears just kept coming. ‘This is so hard,’ she said. ‘It’s like my heart is breaking all over again.’
‘Well… maybe it’s not too late to fix it,’ he said. ‘We can still be friends. I don’t care what everyone thinks. I don’t care if they see that I’m still in love with you, and I don’t care what they think about it. We can be friends.’
‘I’d like that,’ she said quietly. ‘But we have to see, alright? I need to talk to Draco first. He’ll be uncomfortable either way, but I think if I make him understand that this is important to me, that I need this, then maybe he’ll be alright with it.’
‘Maybe. It will take time for the both of us to actually be civil to each other, but I’m sure we can both try,’ he said.
She smiled. ‘I hope so,’ she said. ‘We should go back before they start wondering what happened to us. I’ll talk to Draco tonight.’
He nodded. ‘OK.’
Ron hugged her, and Hermione found herself sinking into it. The smell of his hair, and the way his arms wrapped around her was a familiar feeling, and she realised she had missed it. She had missed Ron, more than she’d realised. The ache in her chest hadn’t really gone away. It had just faded a little. But now that he had hugged her, it had grown again, and she realised that she desperately wanted him back in her life, even if it was just as friends.
The hug only lasted a second, but it felt like a lifetime, and when Ron pulled away, he was smiling. ‘Come on. We have to go,’ he said.
She nodded, disoriented, and followed him out of the room. Draco glared at Ron when they walked into the living room together, and when she sat next to him on the couch, he put his arm around her, rather possessively, she thought.
‘What did the Weasel want?’ He whispered in her ear. She could hear the hatred in his voice.
‘He just wanted to talk to me. I’ll tell you later,’ she promised. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
He grimaced, but didn’t say anything else. She settled against him, and he relaxed a little, his arm tightening around her. She smiled a little, and looked around the living room.
The Weasley’s were clearly enjoying themselves. They were laughing and talking, and smiling. Narcissa seemed at home among the group of redheads, and Hermione couldn’t help but feel happy. It was like a dream come true, really. She had always hoped that one day, she would have everyone she loved in one room.
And today, they were. She was mending things with Ron, and though she had conflicting emotions regarding him, she felt that everything would fall into place soon enough. Today, her family was together. And that was all that mattered.
Well, there's the rest of chapter 29!! Hope you guys enjoyed! Anything you liked, or didn't? Is there anything you'd like to see in later chapters? What about your theories?What do you think's going to happen next? Let me know your opinions.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling! I own nothing!