10th October 2003

"And what are the Bioethics of Neuropharmacology?" Ron asked, reading the title of a textbook before tossing it onto the coffee table. He cleared a handful of highlighters then stretched out on Hermione's sofa. It was shabby blue suede, second-hand and so ridiculously comfortable it lured you in. He had spent many nights unconscious on it under an eiderdown quilt and Crookshanks.

"Drug use, mostly. Administration of psychoactives on patients with diminished capacity. An endless amount on research protocols." Hermione walked in from her flat's tiny kitchen with a covered tray. She set it down on Ron's lap, paused for effect then lifted the lid to reveal a single cupcake.

But it was a glorious cupcake of great decadence. It was iced with chocolate buttercream, dusted with curls of coconut. It had sparklers. Ron laughed.

"Best 'quit your job' dessert I've ever seen." He pulled out the sparklers and devoured the cupcake. They always had cupcakes on important occasions. It was their tradition. "Mum's not speaking to me again."

"She does that." Hermione was tart on the subject of Molly Weasley. Ron's mother had 'not spoken' at length and volume when Ron had begun visiting Oxford casually. When their seeing each other over coffee had progressed into going to places alone together, Mrs Weasley had prophesised doom.

"She's going to be even less talkative in a bit." Ron licked icing off his lips, taking a deep breath. He didn't meet Hermione's curious look as he didn't want to lose his nerve. Instead, he slid off the sofa onto the floor on his knees. On one knee.

"Oh." The witch said, eloquently.

"Yeah." The wizard took another deep breath. "You said, before, that you wanted a fresh start. A proper courtship. And I've had a great time just being a guy you know and then being your boyfriend." This wasn't the speech he had planned. That speech had poetry in it. But these words came from the heart. "But now I'd like to be your husband. Will you marry me, Hermione?"

"Yes." Hermione said in a tiny voice. She stared at the little box Ron held in his hands. She offered him her left hand and they did the slightly fiddly ring thing, both trying not to laugh while failing entirely not to grin.

"It's grandma's ring. Dad smuggled it to me." Ron spoke with a tightness in his chest. They had done it right this time. Just for the two of them. "Happily ever after, right?"

"Happily ever after." She affirmed, blinking away joyful tears. "Or nearest approximation thereof."