Chapter 11: Invitations
Chapter 11 - Invitations
It had taken Hermione the whole night, or what was left of it and most of the early morning to arrive at two very crucial decisions that could possibly affect her life in the near and not so near future.
Being the logical person that she was, she started with the most logical thing to do...making a list. A list of pros and cons. She quickly filled all the pros of being in a serious relationship with Ron...that was easy and actually quite fun to compile and was interspaced with a large bit of daydreaming and hot flashes of blushing. Next she started on all the reasons against such a union and unfortunately making that part of her list also proved to be easy and depressingly lengthy. The problem with her method was once the list was completed she could not find a way forward to make any clear decision. Yes there were plenty of reasons that she should consider against being with him but how could she rate them against the many wonderful ones that were now latched onto her head.
After wasting another hour, she suddenly realised that her approach was inherently flawed. This was too big and too complicated to be arriving at decisions based on lists or any other logical means...too big and complicated to be making any big and possibly rash choices at this time. She needed to make simple initial decisions with the facts that she already possessed and then move forward from there. Yes...baby steps first before running around wildly in an unknown direction. So she fluffed up her pillow for the umpteenth time and settled comfortably in her bed before reliving all that had transpired between Ron and herself from the day they met in the bright courtyard almost three months ago.
Was it that short a time? Hermione found it hard to go back to a time before she knew her red haired friend. What was she before? How had she managed to survive by herself all those years. She barely recognized the person that existed before. She had Harry but was that all? She remembered her thoughts on her birthday and the void that she had felt then and she realised that maybe she had not been really living all this while but just surviving. Surviving all through those years before the war...during the war and during those unfulfilled years at the Ministry.
But she had changed...he had changed her. She was able to laugh freely...to enjoy the little things about her life...to feel fulfilled...to feel...LOVE? Whoa! Those four little letters made up such a big word. Was she in love with him? How does one ever really know for certain when your feelings of fancy turns into something much more? How does one really know?
As she thought of him and all of their time together she definitely knew that what she felt was more than just a fancy. She admitted that she was attracted to him from the moment she met him and that it had slowly turned into something deep and wonderful inside her. She had never experienced anything close to it. She had become almost...addicted to him. Yes it was a cliche but that was how it felt. And then earlier tonight...that kiss. Wow! That earth shattering, mind frizzing snog! She had lost all control of her faculties and that was something she had never done before. As she sat with Harry and her friends back inside the pub it had taken a full half hour to recover as her mind and her body slowly pulled themselves back together. Harry kept glancing worriedly at her but had kept his mouth shut on the subject.
No. She could not give up something that felt this good...and right for her. She would not give him up. She had already changed and now she could not just let it go because of the perceived risks to her career and offspring in the not too clear future. What she had was now and if he really wanted her she would not stop him. They could grow stronger together and face whatever life had to throw at them...together and if it didn't work then so be it but she owed it to herself and Ron to give it a try. She wanted to. And that was her first big decision.
Not surprisingly, once she had made this decision, she felt a load lifted of her chest and she was able to relax a lot more and think more freely to herself. She and Ron together! She had to release a loud laugh at the thought and a smile appeared on her face. What would they face together? The possibilities wiped away her smile but she felt a strength within her as she resolved to fight against the old prejudices that existed in her world.
The wizard world was a lot smaller than the muggle one but some things were common to both. Word gets around!
That was why Ron had told her about himself the day after they met. That was why she had told Harry so early. People talk and the news of a squib working at Hogwarths would have spread faster than a wildfire. Ron had been working with a well known and famous wizard for over six years and the powers that be would have know about him for a while. Dickinson had known, Malfoy had known and as time passed everyone who was associated or had a connection with the school would have heard the news. This was confirmed by the fact that both Lavender and Parvati obviously knew and that in itself was daunting. She groaned to herself. Those two girls would alone be responsible for half the wizard world finding out. If she really got together with Ron the news would be spilled out and spread like the plague. Rita Skeeter would have a field day and she pictured the headlines..."former war heroine hooks up with squib! Harry Potter devastated by the news!"
Looking back, she knew Ron had his fears about starting a serious relationship with her. He had tried to tell her in his own way but they had both skirted around the subject preferring to focus on their own feelings rather than the consequences. But if her first decision led to something real between them...as she truly hoped...then they would have to sit down and talk about it...about everything. It was the only way it could work. And that was her second decision.
So she resolved that as soon as she saw him again she would give him her first decision and then she would suggest that they have a long talk about all the consequences. Yes...baby steps first.
Now that all the hard work was complete Hermione settled down and hugged her pillow. Now she could let her mind wander back to that kiss...
She was going mad. The big prat! Where was he? After all, she had done all the hard thinking. All he had to do was show up. How long could a family meeting possibly take? Maybe he was just giving her the time to consider? Maybe he had changed his mind already. She was really going mental.
It was almost four days since she had last seen or heard from him and she was falling apart. She needed him here. What good was this thing inside her if she could not release it.
It was now Wednesday night and she was in her office trying to concentrate and failing miserably. She jumped at every sound hoping it would be him coming either to see her or to his office. She was now even considering sending a message to him even though she was not too sure where he was.
She jumped again when she heard the sudden tapping noise at her window. Finally! Some word from him hopefully. She quickly opened her window and let the agitated owl in. She hastily removed the piece of parchment and stood as she read. It was from Ginny!
Sorry I meant to drop you a line earlier but things at the Burrow (and Mom in particular) have been mad since George's announcement on Sunday. Ron can tell you all about it later.
Actually it's about Ron that I am writing to you. He came down with a dreadful fever and flu over the weekend but refuses to admit how bad it really is. Mom has been trying her best to treat him but the stupid idiot kept insisting that he had to return to work. I have a strong suspicion that he really wants to return to a certain person. Wink Wink.
Anyway the said idiot left earlier today against all of Mom's protests but I was able to catch him at the flat that we share in Sunbury. It's just outside of London but we only ever use it between my games and his work. Luckily I knew he would stop off there to get some fresh clothes before catching a train for up north.
The fever has again returned so it wasn't really hard to convinced him to stay another day or two until he fully recovers .He really is too weak to travel in his condition. I gave him some meds and banished him to his bed to sleep but I have to get back to the team as I've already taken more time off than I should but I am a bit worried about him.
I know you will be worried too so could you please check up on him in the morning to make sure he's all right? I know you are an early riser so I'm hoping you can go before your classes. Wait who am I fooling? You probably are on your way already. I left the key under the door mat.
Please keep me informed of his condition. The address is:
117 Thames Street
Sunbury TW16 6AJ
Hermione quickly reread the letter holding her breath. Bless her heart Ginny. Gathering herself, she frantically ran to her room where she packed some of her own potions, changed her robes and hurried out of the castle. She rechecked the address that Ginny had left before concentrating and apparating out with a small crack.
Hermione landed in a small shady park opposite her intended address. Looking across the roadway, she quickly found the correct number and crossed hurriedly. She stepped around a pickup van that was parked in the small driveway before retrieving the key from under the door mat. Letting herself in, she slowly entered the cosy flat after shutting the door behind her.
"Ron?" she called softly. She remembered that he was supposed to be sleeping so she ventured in further.
There was a small neat kitchen to her left with a small dining table off to the side. The living room was to her right with a stairs leading upstairs directly opposite the entrance hallway. There also appeared to be a small powder room off the stairway. The place was nicely decorated and well put away thanks obviously to Ginny but it looked like it was hardly ever used. After a short pause to look around she headed up the stairs.
The first bedroom to her left off the landing was empty so she continued down the corridor passing the bathroom before coming to the second bedroom on her right. She paused again.
"Ron?" she again called softly but still there was no answer. He must really be sleeping she thought. Pushing open the door she slowly entered the room.
Her heart skipped a beat as she saw him on the bed. He looked to be asleep but he was moving and tossing around as if he was uncomfortable and restless. She took a few steps forward to take a look at him.
"Ron?" this time she tried a little louder. She knew she shouldn't wake him but she wanted him to know that she was here for him.
She froze when he lifted his head up from his pillow and stared at her with half opened eyes. Before she could say anything he flopped back on the bed.
"Wonderful Weasley! Now you are hallucinating! How sick can I get." she heard him mutter to himself softly.
I f she wasn't so worried about him she would have laughed. Instead she took another step forward.
"Ron it's really me." she said lightly.
This time his whole upper body shot up from the bed and his eyes were fully open.
"Hermione? are you really...how did you get here?" he said with a soft hoarse voice. She rushed to his side.
"Ginny sent me a note. She's really worried about you. I...I was worried about you." she almost sobbed out as she slipped her hand around his.
"I'm sorry Hermione. I tried to get back as soon as I could but Mom wouldn't let me. I wanted too so badly. I didn't want you to forget...you know..." he trailed off softly.
"Don't worry about it. I'm here now so let me take a look at you." she said with a renewed purpose. First things first.
His face was whiter than normal but his long nose was red she noticed fondly. His eyes were a bit swollen and his hair appeared to be damp with sweat. She felt his forehead and felt a bit of relief that while it was warmer than normal, the fever appeared to be lessening. He was in a pair of sweat pants but his tee shirt also was damp.
"Ron did Ginny give you any potion?" she asked. She didn't want to overdose him.
"No. she just gave me some muggle tablets. I think it's helping with the fever but I can't seem to fall asleep." he answered.
"Ok. I brought some of my own potions with me. I'll just go down to the kitchen to mix some and I'll be right back." she informed him.
For the first time since he saw her, a small smile appeared on his pale face.
"I'll be right here. Don't take too long." he grinned feebly. She returned his smile before heading back to the small kitchen.
She was just about to finish mix the renewal potion when she heard the front door open and footsteps entered the flat. Was that Ginny she thought? A head of black bushy hair appeared around the kitchen wall.
"Harry! what are you doing here?" she cried out.
"I thought I would find you here." he laughed out. "Ginny sent me a message. She sounded really worried about Ron so I thought I would just pop around and see how he was doing but it seems he already has everything sorted out." he winked.
"Will you shut it. He really is not well Harry but the fever is going down and I was just about to give him a potion to help him sleep." she informed him as she finished with the potion in her hand.
"Well good. Then I can tell Ginny that Ron is in good hands...figuratively speaking of course and not to worry." he laughed again.
Hermione ignored the tease but raised her eyebrows.
"So are you in close contact with Ginny now?" she asked tentatively. "Are you going to see her again?"
Harry hesitated a moment as his face flushed over.
"Maybe. We'll see. I really like her. What about you? I know you and Ron are more than friends Hermione but are you two serious...you know." he asked.
It was now her turn to blush a bit but now was a good time as any to acknowledge her recent decision.
"I...I hope so Harry. We haven't talked since that night at the pub but if he wants to...and I think he does...then I want too also." she said resolutely.
"Good for you. Well we can talk again later. I don't want to keep you from your patient." Harry gave her a quick hug before turning and apparating away. She rushed back upstairs.
Ron was still sitting up in the bed and had a slight frown of concern on his face when she returned to his side.
"Who was that? I heard voices." he queried.
"It was Harry. Apparently Ginny messaged him also so he popped over to check on you. I gather Ginny messaged everyone she could to make sure someone would be here to look you up. Now shush and drink this. It should help you sleep right away." she grinned.
"Yes Healer Granger." he laughed as he took the potion and started to drink it down.
Hermione took the time to look around the room for the first time noticing how messy it was compared to the floor below. Clothes were strewn all over the ground and his bag was halfway emptied next to his bed. He looked at her a bit guiltily.
"Sorry I was in a hurry to pack but I never finished. But hey it's my room and no one ever really sees it except me." he explained.
She laughed at him as she picked up a clean shirt and sat next to him on the bed.
"Take that wet shirt off and let me put this one on." she ordered him with her ears turning pink.
He pulled off his tee shirt and she helped him put on the clean one. She tried her best to not stare but her face was also flushed as she finished. To distract herself she pottered around the room cleaning and putting away as best as she could. When she looked at him again, his eyes were already half way shut as he turned to her patting the space next to him.
"Come stay with me for a while...please." he asked gently.
With her stomach fluttering like mad, she kicked off her shoes and laid down facing him on her side. He was also turned on his side and their faces were closer than she had planned.
"Thanks for taking care of me. I really wanted to see you again." he said softly as his eyes closed a bit more.
"No problem. Don't forget I still owed you one remember?" she laughed out softly .
His eyes flew back open as he seemed to recall his tending to her back a while ago. He stared at her.
"Oh yeah. Well I hope I can take care of you...for a long time." he sighed as his eyes closed down again halfway.
The ache in her stomach was back suddenly and she shuffled closer to him.
"Well I can come back tomorrow if you want. I have to get back early for classes but I can come at lunch time again." she told him.
"Yeah that would be great. I have to ask you something anyway so please come back." he brought his hand up and softly stroked her cheek. "This potion is really working Hermione I can barely keep my eyes open."
She put her hand over his but kept it over her cheek.
"Go to sleep Ron. I'll stay right here with you." she said gently. He opened his eyes for a quick second to look at her before shutting them completely.
"Goodnight Hermione. I'll see you tomorrow." he murmured sweetly before falling asleep.
As she looked at his face Hermione's heart swelled to the point of bursting. She was lying in his bed inches from him and she felt only peace and happiness within her. She stroked his hand that was still on her cheek before leaning forward to gently kiss his lips. She closed her eyes and drifted off.
She had made the right decision and she would tell him soon.
Hermione rushed out from her last class of the morning as she hurried to her room to change. She had rescheduled her afternoon classes with the flimsiest of excuses but she had the rest of the day off. She stopped at the dining hall to pick up some lunch for the both of them before quickly hurrying off to her destination. She had a wide grin on her face as she landed back at the small park in front of the flat in Sunbury suddenly remembering the events of earlier.
She had awakened early in the morning just as the sun rose filtering into the room she was lying in. As her eyes adjusted, she suddenly became aware of her surroundings...especially the arm surrounding her. During the night she had somehow moved even closer to him and was now snuggled into his side with her leg thrown over his. Ron was still dead asleep on his back and was snoring lightly with his arm over her shoulder. She had never felt safer or more content just lying there in his arms. She still could not believe how right it felt to be there.
As she reached for the door knob, the door suddenly swung open and someone almost stumbled into her on their way out and she nearly dropped the bag she was carrying with their lunch.
"Oi! what have we here. Did you order delivery service Ronnie? Somehow I doubt it unless the calibre of delivery girls has suddenly increased by a thousand fold." someone smirked.
She looked up and immediately recognized the red hair of presumably one of Ron's brothers. He was not as tall but had the same lanky build and a smile plastered all over his face.
"Welcome. Please come in. I was just leaving but I suddenly have a strong desire to linger for a while." he held the door open for her. She glanced behind him to see a scowling Ron.
"Will you just shut it you git and keep going. I don't want to see your ugly face a moment longer." he shouted.
Hermione passed inside but turned to the smiling face as Ron relieved the bags from her with a huge sigh and a swing of his arm.
"This is George. One of my annoying brothers and this is Hermione Granger my...friend from work. Say hello George and then say goodbye right after." he glared.
George quickly shook her hand but his smile only got bigger. Hermione had already warmed to him greatly.
"Hi George. Nice to meet you and thanks for coming to see Ron." she said returning his smile.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Hermione. Ginny did mention you but I took it as a hoax. Now I see why he has made a remarkable recovery." he grinned. "I do hope to be seeing more of you so don't scare her away right Ronnie?"
Before he could say more Ron bundled him out the door and shut it loudly.
"Ron! Isn't that a bit rude, he is your brother after all." she said seriously.
"Believe me Hermione there is no such word as rude to George." he laughed as he led her inside to the small kitchen.
She soon forgot about George as she finally got to take a good look at him. He had improved immensely since last night as his colour was almost back to normal and his blue eyes shone brightly as before. He had just taken a shower and as usual his hair was wet.
"Ron! Haven't I told you before to dry your hair after you shower. You are recovering from the flu and having your hair like that is doing you no good." she admonished.
"Hey relax will you. If I have a relapse you can just give me one of your potions. Works wonders I tell you. I feel fine." he gave her one of his lopsided grins and she melted.
Just seeing him standing there with that grin on his face suddenly reminded her of all that had transpired in the past few days. There was no fighting it. Without thinking she slowly made her way towards him and deliberately wound her arms around him hugging him close to her. She buried her face in his chest and took a deep breath as his smell enveloped her. She felt him stiffen initially but his arms gently surrounded her as he pulled her even closer against him.
"I'm really fine Hermione...now that you're here." he whispered into her hair above. Her heart swelled in her chest suddenly.
She pulled back a little and looked up at him. She knew that he was not fully recovered but she couldn't help herself.
She reached up on her toes and gave him a sweet soft gentle kiss before pulling away completely and giving him a hard punch in his arm.
"Ow! What was that for?" he cried out rubbing his arm looking lost and bewildered.
"Well the kiss was for being sweet and the punch was for being an irresponsible idiot for getting sick and for making it worse." she told him. "If we are to be together you have to be more careful Ron honestly." she finished with a swish of her arms.
"I was not being irresponsib...wait...what?...did you just say if we are to be together?" he croaked out incredulously.
She grinned as she again reached out for him and took his hands.
"Yes Ron that's what I said...that is...if you want to." she said softly with her eyes on him.
"You mean like a couple...you and me together?" a wide grin now appeared on his face before he became serious again.
"I want to...believe me...more than anything in the world but are you sure Hermione? You know what this means do you?" he looked into her face.
"It means that I want to be with you Ron and that is all that really matters now. But I understand your concerns and we have to talk about them...you and me...if we want to give this a chance." she replied.
"Right...you're right...erm...can we eat lunch first at least?" he grinned. She laughed with him.
"It seems that you really are recovering well. I'll organize the food." she chuckled as she turned to the bag of food on the counter. Ron however pulled on her hands and brought her back against him. Her back was now against the counter.
"You really are something you know that?" he said before bending his head and claiming her lips.
This time she let herself go and reached up to him wrapping her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer around her waist. It was just like the first time as she felt herself losing control. The rush of pure desire and want flowed through her as his lips moved against hers. As they deepened the kiss she hardly realised that her hands were now running over his back and his sides and his hands were now under her shirt. The feel of his fingers on her bare skin made her jump and he broke away suddenly.
"Sorry...I didn't mean to..." he stuttered a bit with his face now flushed pink. She wondered what was the condition of her own face at this moment.
"It's ok. You will be the death of me Ronald Weasley." she laughed out trying to recover. "I have to relearn control all over again when I'm with you it seems. I think we should eat...and talk first." she suggested.
She quickly organized two plates of food and they sat facing each other on the small dining table. Ron was studying her as he ate. He leaned over and stroked her hand with his large fingers.
"So..." he began surprisingly. "You have thought about this and the inevitable fallout?" he said bluntly. "I want this...I want you so badly but you can still pull out and I would fully understand Hermione. There would be no hard feelings...I could never have any bad feelings for you." he stated clearly.
She smiled as she held his hand in hers.
"Yes I have thought about it...that's what I do remember. And I also want this so much that we have to give it...us a try. We just have to go slowly and take things as they come then we can see how far we can go Ron but know this...no matter what happens I will always be by your side and I will never regret this decision. How else can we fight against...whatever there is if we first don't try with each other?" she said slowly.
He continued staring at her with his eyes bluer than she had ever remembered.
"You are truly amazing Hermione. I promise that I will always be with you through this. I will fight against anyone and anything that threatens to come between us. But listen...you are the one who stands to lose the most so if you ever are in doubt and you want to end this I will not stop you. I will always care about you no matter what you do ok?" he said straight into her eyes. He straightened up and ran his hands through his hair as he continued.
"I agree. We go slow at first even though judging from that last snog it will be difficult." he laughed.
She slapped him on the arm playfully but leaned over to give him a small kiss on the lips.
"I know what you mean." she blushed fiercely before remembering something.
"Last night you said you had to ask me something. What?" she asked.
Ron suddenly sat upright and slapped his hand over his forehead as he let out a nervous laugh.
"Forget the problems with the wizard world. We have to get over meeting up with the whole Weasley clan. If we can get through that we can face anything I tell you" he now laughed fully before explaining.
"My annoying brother George is getting married and soon. Mom almost threw a fit when he suggested that he was doing it quietly and without any fanfare. That did not go down well. She insisted in having it at the Burrow and there was to be no argument. So...Hermione Granger will you do me the pleasure of being my date to the wedding?" he asked with a smile on his face.
"It would be an honour and my pleasure Ronald Weasley to accompany you." she answered with a laugh.
They both continued to talk as they finished their meal. Hermione welcomed the light chatter after the somewhat intense discussion moments ago. She was prepared for this. She had been fighting for her whole life it seemed but with the stakes being more personal this time she made up her mind to give it her all. The man by her side was worth it.
The first test would be a wedding where she would face all his family as his new girlfriend.