A/N - This last of the three outtake ficlets takes place three years after chapter 44 but before the epilogue. Many thanks to Ibuzoo for her suggestion as to who Ron's special someone should be.
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Ron picked at the dinner with slouched shoulders until Pansy, never his biggest fan, said, "I'd think you'd appreciate food, Weasley. It's not like you're used to having extra."
"Pansy," Hermione said. "Could you not."
"I could," she said, "But don't assume I will. Just because we share the same weird disease doesn't make us soulmates."
Draco began to rub at his head with a gesture he probably thought was stealthy. It was the same way he tried to rub away a headache every time Pansy started in on someone and Hermione didn't really blame him. She slipped her bare foot against his leg under the table and let the languor of direct contact ease away her own, similar, throb. He made a face at her and she shrugged. It wasn't her fault he didn't get the good parts of this. She got euphoria, the occasional fire starter hands, and, she was convinced, thick and lustrous hair. He got the ongoing fear that she only liked him because she was doped into it.
And the sex. There was something to be said for sex with a man whose most innocuous touch could send you into raptures. Something good to be said, and she'd said it. Often.
Ron sighed again and muttered an apology.
"No wonder you're still single," Pansy said. "Who would want a boyfriend who sighs and slouches? You're dreary."
"We don't all end up with magical bonds," Ron said sullenly, and Hermione suddenly realized why he was so upset. His two best friends had found magically perfect relationships and he was still very single. She half understood his frustration and half felt annoyed he would be jealous of a disease that had almost killed her, despite the glorious sex.
Fear Draco would die, dooming her, still haunted some nightmares despite the closet full of potions and the Gringott's vault filled with potions and the potions in the cellars at Malfoy Manor. She and Pansy both could live well nigh forever using the medication Draco, Blaise and Theo had developed. They'd both opted to go potion free so long as their partners were alive.
"Some of us have to date," Ron said, interrupting her thoughts, "and, in case you don't remember, Parkinson, dating isn't fun."
"I always liked it," she said. "But then, I was rich and pretty, so my experience was probably different."
Hermione swallowed her snicker. She knew perfectly well that Pansy had dated exactly one wizard since they'd all left Hogwarts, and Jean was nothing to write home about. Harry had been her first, last, and only true love. He still sat looking at her with so much adoration one would have thought he was the one snagged by a magical lure. "There has to be someone you're interested in," she said. "Maybe you can ask Ginny to seat you with someone at her wedding. Love'll be in the air - "
"She's going to fumigate the place? Dear Merlin."
Hermione ignored Pansy.
"As I said, love will be in the air, you'll be there, in a tent, band playing, champagne flowing. It could be your lucky night."
Ron grumbled something about how he still couldn't believe his sister was going to marry that wanker, but the protests had become pro forma. Ginny hexed anyone who complained about her relationship with Blaise and Blaise just looked down his perfect nose at naysayers. Pansy reached a hand across the table to pull the wine bottle toward herself and eyed the label balefully, looking for something to complain about, but Draco had raided the cellars at Malfoy Manor for his contribution to the dinner and she settled for pouring herself a more than generous glass before she leaned back and studied Ron.
"What do you want?" she asked as if his life were a room she was going to redecorate. "Blondes? Quidditch players? Large family? Small family?"
Ron muttered something under his breath and then at her pointed stare said, more loudly, "You can't just shop for a partner, Parkinson."
"Well, Lavender's dead and Granger can't cook and, besides, she and Draco are probably wanking one another off under the table, so you need to move on and if you don't know what you want that's going to be hard."
Hermione hastened to set both her of her hands on top of the table.
"I think the only person Weasley's ever really loved is Victor Krum," Draco said. He kept one hand under the table, through all he was doing with it was resting it on his lap. His smirk suggested more, as did his knowing eye contact with Ron, and she'd kick him but it wasn't worth the hassle and she knew he was only trying to make Ron uncomfortable. Three years of togetherness and he still didn't like Ron. It wasn't that she expected him to like all her friends - she certainly didn't care for Goyle - but his knife twists remained both funny and cruel enough to make her flinch. "He probably still kisses the poster he had in his room as a boy. I remember how jealous he was about the Yule Ball when we were at Hogwarts."
"Yes." Pansy drew out the word with delight. "We all assumed he was jealous over little miss swot here, but Krum makes much more sense."
"Pansy, stop," Harry said.
She huffed but took a long sip from her glass and busied herself cutting off a slice of cheese and nibbling on it. With Pansy's mouth full and thus quiet, Hermione could stop worrying about what she'd say next and look at Ron. He'd turned a horrible, blotchy red.
"I am still in touch with Krum," she said. "I could ask Ginny to invite him. They fly against one another now and then, and everyone knows Blaise is looking to invest more in international play, so it wouldn't look odd."
Pansy swallowed and said, "No one cares if you're a poof, Ronald."
"Oh for - ," Hermione said. "Would you shut up?"
"I'm just saying no one cares," Pansy said. "He's poor and ginger and dreary and people care about that. That he might like a little cock now and then? Who doesn't?"
"Would you do something about her?" Hermione appealed to Harry and, by the look of it, he kicked her under the table. She was undeterred.
"I hate all of you," Ron muttered. "And Krum would never look at me twice."
"Well," Pansy said, "there is that."
"It would have to be the luckiest night ever," Ron said. He took a long swallow of his own drink. "And so, no."
"Or," Draco said, the amused devil lurking in his eyes, "so yes."
"What?" Ron asked.
Draco shrugged. "Zabini brewed up a batch of felix felicis for Pans before she found true love with the chosen one. When she didn't need it, he passed it around. Goyle met some Muggle girl willing to give him the time of day, Theo took Percy home to meet dear old dad, and I saved mine."
"What did he do with his own vial?" Pansy asked. She'd used hers on a shopping run to Paris. Designer shoes, on sale. A diamond tiara that needed a little maintenance but which she got for a song. A suite at some fancy hotel that happened to be unexpectedly available. She still reminisced about this most perfect day.
"He said his life was already luckier than any man deserved and he wasn't going to jinx it," Draco said. "He gave it to Goyle."
"Nauseatingly sweet," Pansy said. "Though that explains bastard number two."
"You could take it," Draco said. "Can't say it would guarantee anything, but if there was a chance, it would happen."
Ron mumbled something that sounded like, "Not that it's going to work, but give me the thing."
"It'll work," Draco said.
At Ginny's wedding Hermione leaned against Draco and watched Ron wave his hands around to make a point. Victor Krum leaned in toward him, shaking his head as if he disagreed. The space between them was too small for comfort but neither seemed to notice. If anything, Ron edged forward.
"Looks like it worked," she said.
"Well," Draco said smugly, "you thought I'd be wrong? Me? I'm very clever about these things."
She kissed him to shut him up.