Chapter 15 : Confrontation
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He still hadn’t told Ginny the bad news. He worked for the Ministry of Magic as an Auror, and had been hoping for a promotion for a few months now. Last week his boss had called him up, and told him that he was going to be promoted, but he would be stationed in Bulgaria. Permanently.
Harry hadn’t told Ginny yet because right now their life was seemingly perfect and he didn’t want to stress her out even more, not when she had a baby on the way. He couldn’t turn the offer down; it was the biggest job of his career ever since he stopped playing Quidditch for England. But he also had no way of relocating the family so quickly. He was supposed to relocate in late January, a month after the baby’s due date. Harry exhaled. There was so much paperwork to fill out and he was expecting one last owl with the final conformation letter.
Finally! He spotted a small gray dot in the distance. Upon closer observation he realized it was in fact an owl, with a letter clutched tightly in its feet. “Thank God.” he whispered.
From inside the house Ginny called, “Looks like the mail, Harry.”
“Yeah, I’ll get it.” Harry said. Ginny was busy in the kitchen spoon-feeding Albus as the last of his baby teeth came in. As for Hermione, he didn’t know exactly where she was only that she had gone out to the town. Harry would have preferred that he or Ginny was with her, but they could hardly shelter her, she would never find a new path that way.
As the owl grew closer, Harry realized it wasn’t the usual regulation size sent by the Ministry of Magic. It was smaller, much more like a rat. And Harry’s mouth dropped as he recognized the owl and therefore, the probable sender of the letter. Harry untied the letter from Pigwedgeon’s leg and ruffled his feathers. “Haven’t seen you in a while, mate.” Harry whispered to the owl, who hooted tiredly. Not surprising, seeing as the owl was more than fifteen years old.
With fumbling fingers he opened the letter from Ron. It was long and difficult to read, as one thing that had not improved over the years was Ron’s abysmal handwriting. Harry smirked before reading.
As he read, Harry’s face got more and more surprised-looking. “Oh, God.” he whispered after reading it halfway through. When he finished Harry leaned back in his chair. “Merlin.”
“What’s with the almost-profanity-type words?” Ginny asked, giving Harry his nightly tea. Harry shoved the letter and the envelope behind his back. Ginny most definitely did not need to know about this. This was between him and Ron. “No reason, just the fact that my lovely wife is amazing at making tea.” Harry took a sip. This was not a lie; Ginny’s tea was simply heaven.
He could not, however, hide Pigwidgeon. Harry winced slightly as Ginny noticed the old owl. “Hey. What’s he doing here?” Ginny bent down to the little owl. “Hi, little guy! Remember me? I’m the one who named you!” Ginny looked at Harry, confused. “What’s Pig doing here?”
Harry put on his best surprised face. “I have no clue. Hey, look, it’s Pig! Wow, we haven’t seen him in a while, have we?” He faltered at Ginny’s expression. “Fine. I got a letter from Ron, explaining his side of this whole saga.”
Ginny’s face took on an interested look. “Let me see!”
“Um, no. It’s between wizards. A gentleman’s agreement. I have to meet him in the village pub in an hour.”
Ginny grinned. “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if, because of this meeting, we got back together again? You, me, Ron, Hermione, just shooting the breeze like we used to? Is that what the kids say these days? Man, I’m feeling old.” She arched her back. “Go, then. Tell Ron I said hi.”
Harry stood up. “I’d better get going then.”
Ron nervously paced the length of the pub. He didn’t know why he called Harry, but he did know that he needed some advice, and Harry seemed like the best option to turn to. This would be so much easier if they were still best mates like they used to be, but Ron hadn’t talked to Harry in such a long time it was hard to even imagine what he would say when Harry showed up. If he showed up. Ron wasn’t expecting Harry to come, or anything. Not really.
“Ron.” came a voice from behind him. Ron turned around slowly to see his former best friend standing there in a trench coat. He hadn’t changed a bit, unless you counted the stubble and the lines around his eyes, but Ron didn’t count that. He tried to break a smile but Harry wasn’t returning it.
“Hey.” Ron said, looking at Harry nervously. Why was this so hard? He half wanted to give Harry a big bro hug and half wanted to run out of there. He did neither. Instead Ron sat down at the bar and offered a seat to Harry. He took it.
“Why’d you call me here?”
“Did you get my letter?”
“Yes, I got your letter. I can’t believe Pig’s still alive.”
At the sound of his owl’s name Ron brightened. “You got it all right, then? Did… does Ginny remember him?”
“Yeah. I mean, he’s like, what, sixteen years now?”
Ron beamed proudly. “Nearly.”
They grinned awkwardly at each other and Ron asked Harry if he wanted a drink. Harry shook his head. “Nope, I’m running on apple juice 24/7 now. Try having a kid, it takes the mickey out of you.”
“How are my nephews, then?” Ron asked. “Are they well?”
“Yeah, they’re fine. I’ll do you one better as well. Ginny’s pregnant.”
Ron gasped. “Wow. Really? Again? Wow. When… when is the baby due?”
Harry shrugged. “Sometime in late November. She’s seven months there.”
Ron seemed nonplussed. “Wow. That’s… wow.” He seemed to have lost his ability to speak. “I had no idea.”
“I never told you.” Harry said.
The two men looked at each other with regret from the past, then Harry broke the silence. “So. You’re engaged to Lavender.”
“I’m supposed to marry her in two and a half months.” Ron said.
“What do you mean supposed? Don’t you want to marry her?” Harry asked pointedly.
Ron looked sad, tired, and confused. “Yes! I mean… I don’t know. I want to want to marry her, if you know what I mean. But then there’s Hermione…”
Harry shook his head. “Please. Ron. Answer my question with one word. I’m not leaving here until you pick one woman and spend the rest of your life with her. So, do you want to marry Lavender?”
Ron looked absolutely miserable. “If I’m not going to leave until I pick one, we’re going to be here for quite a while, mate.”
“I’ve got time.”
“So do I.”
Harry looked at Ron. “So, what’s so great about Lavender? What made you propose to her in the first place?”
Ron sighed. “When you asked Ginny the question, there was no doubt in the back of your head that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with here, right?”
“I suppose not.”
Ron continued. “Like, even if Cho Chang came back right this second, you wouldn’t ditch Ginny for her, right?”
Harry’s fists were balled up. “Where are you going with this?”
“Well… the thing is… I didn’t propose to Lavender.” Seeing the look on Harry’s face he went on hurriedly. “I mean, I got down on one knee and everything. I asked the question. Or, at least, I must have. “
“What the bloody hell do you mean, you must have?”
“I… I can’t just…”
“Spit it out man, I haven’t got all day!” Harry yelled.
“I DON’T REMEMBER PROPOSING TO LAVENDER, OKAY!” Ron erupted. Other people in the pub looked at him uneasily but Ron ignored them. “One thing I know, I’m just trying to talk to her, you know, trying to connect with her on some level. Next thing I know, she’s wearing a bloody ring on her finger calling all her friends and family and I’m kneeling on the ground with no effing clue what happened!”
Harry looked astonished. “What? You’re not kidding. You don’t remember that you… why would you… what?”
Ron nodded. “Hear me out. There are so many other instances like that –when I blank out for a moment or two and totally miss what’s going on. Every time I’m with Lavender this happens and I have no clue what’s going on, I don’t even know if I love her or not, and then Hermione came along and –“ Harry slapped Ron across the face, hard. “What the hell was that for?” Ron asked, cradling his cheek. “No, actually, hit me again. I can take it.”
“Get a grip on yourself!” Harry hissed. “You are not a sixteen-year-old boy anymore, so don't act like one! Get some medication or something for your memory loss, and JUST STAY AWAY FROM HERMIONE!
“You heard me. Stay away from her. I told her the same about you. Ron, remember how brokenhearted you were when Hermione left you? Do you want to be at risk of that happening again? She’s not stable right now, and you sure as hell aren’t either! I don’t want to be the bad guy here, but let’s face the facts, Ron. You and Hermione are just not meant to be together.”
“What about the wands?” Ron asked.
Harry frowned. “The what?”
“You must have noticed she’s got a new wand. I took her out to buy it.”
“So? If you’re trying to buy her over –“
“Our wands are soul mates. Like yours and Voldemort’s were.” Ron interrupted. “You may think Hermione and I aren’t meant to be together but doesn’t the wand choose the wizard? And if the wand chooses the wizard, and our wands are connected at the core, then aren’t we?” Ron was getting starry-eyed, and Harry was desperate to do something to ground him again.
“Really? Your wands are… twin cores?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, mate. I’m in this more deeper than you could imagine.”
“No kidding. Then it shouldn’t hurt if I tell you that Hermione got a job.”
Ron brightened. “Good for her! Where?”
“At the Daily Prophet. But don’t get too excited. It was offered to her by Draco Malfoy.”
Ron’s smile faltered. “No. You’re joking. I thought they hated each other.”
Harry shrugged. “I guess people change over time. Hermione and Malfoy… they even… kissed each other.”
“No.” Ron whispered, looking horrified. “No, this can’t be right.”
Harry sighed. “Look Ron, you played her. You totally played her. You meet her in the rain, talk to her nicely, kiss her, then buy her a wand and they’re twin cores? And all this time, you have no inclination to tell her you’re engaged? Do you know what Hermione thought? She thought you were in love with her! She fell in love with you! All over again! And to have you break her heart like that –just bluntly telling her you were engaged after she showed up to your apartment –well, what was she supposed to do? Malfoy was the only one who offered her any kind of help, says he’s changed, blah blah blah. So she took it. Now stop looking so bloody wounded. You lost your chance.”
“She’s too good for you, mate. If it weren’t for you snogging Lavender in the first place all those years ago…”
Ron looked like he was about to cry. “You’re right about that.” he said.
Harry ran his fingers through his hair. “Look, mate, I like Lavender. I really do. She’s everything a man could want, and more.” he said gently.
Ron stared at the counter of the bar intently, thinking. After a few minutes, he looked up at Harry with bloodshot eyes. “You’re right.” he said hoarsely. After a few more minutes he said, “I’ll go through with the wedding. I’ll leave Hermione alone.”
Harry put an arm around his mate. “You made a good decision, Ron.”
Ron nodded weakly and tried to smile. “Thanks for helping, mate.”
“Anytime. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to argue with you.” Harry joked. “You should really come by and visit the kids sometime, by the way.”
“Really? So you’ve forgiven me?”
Harry shrugged. “Not quite. More like, pardoned for now. But I’ve realized how much we’ve missed Uncle Ron around the house.”
Ron grinned. “You’re my best mate, Harry.”
“And you’re mine.” Harry grinned back.
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