Ronald Weasley sat at a table in the middle of a crowded restaurant, waiting. He had asked his sister to meet him there because he'd hoped to get some answers from her, but he'd been there so long, he doubted she was even going to show up now. Impatiently, he took one more look at his watch just as the waitress came over again to ask if he was ready to order. "Forty minutes," he muttered to himself and was just about to give up and leave when he spotted the hostess leading Ginny to his table. She sat down, immediately beginning to scan her menu.
"I'm starved," she announced, not even bothering to acknowledge or apologize for her lack of punctuality. As if sensing her brother's scathing glare, she looked up. "What?" she asked, pretending not to understand why he was so upset.
"Why were you so late?"
At this question, Ginny leaned back in her chair and began picking at her napkin. "I was trying to decide if I should come or not," she said with a sigh.
"I'm your brother, why wouldn't you come?" he asked, feigning hurt feelings.
"Because I know what you want, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to talk about it yet," she said, still fidgeting with her napkin and unable to meet his gaze.
Ron looked thoughtful. "I just want to know if I should hate him or not."
At this Ginny sighed and looked u p. "No, don't hate him," she said and looked back down at her menu.
Ron had expected a bit more information than this and opened his mouth to say so.
"Don't Ron," she interrupted him, her tone telling him that no further questions would be tolerated. "I don't want to talk about it. Not now, not here." Her eyes darted around the crowded room.
Ron continued to gape openly at his sister, who refused to look up from her menu. Only when the waitress came over to take their orders did she look up.
"Can we just eat, Ron?" she asked after the waitress left with their orders.
Ron sighed in disappointment, but agreed. The meal itself was fairly quiet, punctuated only briefly with a few moments idle chit-chat. For the most part, they were both lost in their own thoughts: Ron just wished he knew what his sister was thinking about. The only thing he knew for sure was that she was unhappy, despite how she tried to pretend as if things were all right.
"Can I at least ask where you're staying these days?" Ron asked as they waited for the check. He was prepared to be met with opposition again.
Ginny nodded slightly and took a sip from her glass before responding. "At Hogwarts."
"It's good you were able to arrange that so quickly."
Ginny shrugged. "It wasn't that hard, really. McGonagall prefers all the professors to stay on school grounds while classes are in session. I just told her I needed a room, and she didn't ask any questions. You know I never wanted to live away from the students, but..." she trailed off. Ron waited for her to continue but she never did.
"I know," he said thoughtfully, picking at the tablecloth. He did know what she meant, but he wished she would talk about it. Something had happened between his sister and his best friend, but he couldn't get answers out of either of them. Harry claimed to be just as shocked as everyone when Ginny had moved out, and not even Hermione or Mrs Weasley knew Ginny's real reasons. Ron could only hope that Harry hadn't done anything he was now regretting but that seemed unlikely since his wife no longer wanted to live in the same house as him.
"It's not his fault," Ginny said, as if sensing what Ron was thinking.
"Then why..." Ron started to ask but was interrupted.
"Ron, I can't talk about it. I'm just not ready."
Ron let it drop at that and the last few moments were very uncomfortable for both of them. He hadn't meant to bring it up again. In fact, he wasn't even sure he had been the one to bring it up this time, but he now doubted Ginny would ever have lunch with him again anyway.
"Are you sure it's ok that I stay for dinner, Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Of course, Harry, why wouldn't it be? You're practically family."
"I am family. Or I was...You're sure Ron's not mad at me?"
"Yes, I'm sure. None of us really know what's going on, but it's between you and Ginny. Are you sure you don't know why she left? She didn't give you any clues?"
"No, Hermione, she didn't!" Harry said irritably. "One day she was there, the next she was gone! Why does everyone keep asking me that as if it's my fault she left? I don't know why she left; I don't even know if I did anything to make her leave!"
"Well, Ron will be home soon. He had lunch with her this afternoon, so perhaps he'll know something," Hermione said hopefully
"Maybe," Harry said though it was evident he didn't have much hope of Ron getting anymore answers than he already had; which were none.
Harry sat in quiet contemplation while Hermione finished up dinner. Hermione could tell he was glad for the company, even if he wasn't talking much. She was sure he'd done nothing but mope around his flat for the past two weeks, blaming himself for Ginny's disappearance from his life. It was obvious he was hiding the fact that he was heartbroken, but Hermione could see the truth in his eyes. He looked utterly and completely lost.
"You know, Hermione, it's bad enough that Ginny's gone, but even worse that I didn't even know she was unhappy," Harry said absently. "Do you think I did something wrong...that it's my fault she left?"
Hermione thought he sounded like a lost child. She her waved her wand and the vegetables she'd been chopping with a knife began to chop themselves magically as she walked over to where Harry was sitting at the table aimlessly moving around the silverware she'd so carefully placed beside the plates. "I don't know, Harry," she said softly.
It was true that she didn't know. Ginny had told her a few weeks ago that she and Harry were thinking of starting a family, and while Hermione still thought they were a bit young, Ginny did sound as excited at the prospect. Maybe she had misinterpreted Ginny's anticipation though, because the younger woman seemed to no longer want anything to do with her husband now.
Hermione was broken out of her thoughts by the sound of a small pop in the other room. "I'll be right back," Hermione said, and rushed to greet Ron and warn him that Harry was staying for dinner. She didn't know what had happened at lunch and wanted to be sure Ron wasn't going to attack Harry upon seeing him there.
"Hello, Harry," Ron said walking into the kitchen behind Hermione. His voice was a bit strained, and Hermione hoped Harry didn't think coming here was a mistake, "I saw Ginny today; she didn't look so good."
"Well, that's good news," Hermione said, but hastily added, "sort of," noticing the looks she got from the men. "I just meant that at least she's not completely happy being rid of you, Harry."
"Maybe you should try talking to her," Ron interrupted, and Hermione knew his slightly amused look meant she had stuck her foot in her mouth, something he usually did rather than her.
"I don't even know where she's staying, Ron. And I'm sure if she wanted to talk to me, she would have done it before she left," Harry said defensively.
"Well, she did say it wasn't your fault. And here I was, prepared to hate you for breaking my sister's heart."
Harry looked up, a hurt expression tainting his features. "Her heart's not broken?"
Hermione gave Ron a withering look. "I'm sure that's not what Ron meant, is it Ron?"
"Well, at least she said it wasn't my fault. That is sort of good news, I guess." Both Hermione and Ron could tell he was grasping at straws.
" Of course it is, Harry," said Ron, now trying to be overly cheerful. "She'll be back on no time."
"I think so too," Hermione added.
But Hermione thought Harry looked thoroughly unconvinced.
A/N: Thanks, of course, go to Anne, who made sure I wasn't posting jibberish here. And also to Carina for listening to me talk about this fic for at least a year. I hope you're still dancing, Carina, instead of hating me. Lastly, thanks to William Shakespeare, for the title. Unfortunately, I can no longer remember which play it came from, but I'm sure he knows.