A/N: Finally Chapter 20 is ready. Ron and Fred will not let me end this until their story is told as well, so you can expect a few more chapters before this one is finally finished. I apologize for the long time in between chapters, but I do work as fast as I can. I have a very demanding job that does not allow me to take the time to write like I used to. Just know that I will not abandon this one. And for all my Dragon of Hogwarts fans, I will finish it when this one is done. And after that, I will finish Healing Hermione .
Special thanks to my lovely beta KT, without whom this story would not be near as good.
"I don't like this. Not one bit," Harry groused as he pulled out a chair for Hermione to sit down.
She and Harry were having lunch in Hogsmeade the last Saturday in July. Delilah's Deli was a new addition to the other shops in the small village. It had opened a week ago, and Hermione knew the little shop would do very well once school started again.
Hermione had been baby shopping all morning, and had worked up quite an appetite. After lunch, she and Harry were going to meet Ron at the train station.
Hermione groaned in relief at being off of her swollen feet. Severus was sure to be upset if he saw them, but she decided it was his own fault for not coming shopping with her. The baby would be here in about four months, and she had barely started work on the nursery. Soon, she would be too big to do much.
Harry gave another pitiful sigh, sensing that her attention had been elsewhere for a moment.
"If you want her to stay, then tell her," Hermione said, picking up a menu.
Thanks to her excellent NEWT's Melanie had been accepted to a Wizarding University in Athens, Greece. She had been so excited, that Harry didn't have the heart to protest. They had no type of owl correspondence programs, so Melanie would have to physically live there for the next three years. She was in a special program that would allow her to become a Master of Arithmancy. The program was actually four years long, but the last year would be an internship back at Hogwarts so she could be with Harry again then.
"I can't tell her to stay home! What would she do? I'll be teaching at the school all day anyway. I can't expect her to sit around and wait for me," he explained.
"Then what is the problem?" Hermione asked, confused.
"I'll miss her."
Hermione's eyes teared up, and she quickly dabbed at them with a napkin.
Harry looked a bit bewildered.
"Why are you crying? She's my wife."
She took a couple of deep breaths then glared at him.
"It's these stupid hormones! I think it is really sweet that you love her so much, Harry. And I know it will be difficult to have to spend so much time apart, but you can do it. You need to do it, for her."
Harry sighed, again.
"I know. And I will. But I don't have to be happy about it."
The waiter arrived and they placed their lunch order.
"Besides, it isn't like you won't see her at all. I mean, doesn't she get two weeks off after every four month semester?" Hermione asked after the waiter had left.
"And, I'm sure there will be many weekends that you'll be able to join Melanie there. At least the school is letting her stay off property and not in a dorm."
Harry glared at his food as it was placed in front of him.
Hermione smiled at the waiter and told him that they had everything they needed.
"Yes, wasn't it wonderful of the Malfoys to offer the use of one of their summer homes?" He asked, sarcastically.
Hermione gave him a stern look.
"Harry! Ginny and Melanie get along great. I'm sure Draco had very little to do with it. At least they aren't enemies. It could have been a lot worse."
Hermione's stern expression quickly changed into one of bliss as she bit into her roast beef and cheddar sandwich. After swallowing a few bites to curb the hunger pains, Hermione turned her attention back to Harry who was picking at his food.
"What is really bothering you, Harry?"
He didn't look at her.
"I just thought she'd be pregnant by now," he muttered.
"Serious damage was done when Melanie was attacked. She may never be able to have a baby."
"I know. I'm afraid she'll be taken away from me. I don't want to lose her, Hermione. I can't…"
Hermione went back to eating for a few minutes. It seemed that almost anything could cause her to cry, and quite frankly she was sick of it.
"Just keep trying, Harry. We are all aware of the situation. Someone will come up with something, you'll see. In the meantime, you can't expect Melanie to just put her life on hold. When she gets pregnant, things will have to change again. On account of the law, the school should make concessions for her when she does get pregnant. Things will work out alright. You'll see."
Harry slammed a fist down on the table.
"YOU DON'T KNOW THAT, HERMIONE! I'm so sick of hearing everyone tell me not to worry! For the first time in my life I'm actually happy! I'm so scared that it won't last."
Hermione was conflicted by anger at Harry's outburst, and sadness at his confession.
"Honestly, Harry! If worse comes to worse, you could just move to Greece, or France, or anywhere you'd like! Yes, it will put us in a bind to find a new DADA teacher, but that won't be impossible. You and Melanie can be happy and safe, and not a one of us would begrudge you that! However, you have a year and half before you even have to start thinking about that! I've read the law probably more thoroughly than the idiots who've passed it, and I know that unless a pureblooded, single female contests the fact that you are married to Melanie past the allotted time without having a baby, then no one will bother you!"
Harry looked away, allowing her words to absorb.
"I'm sorry, Hermione. You are right, as usual. I'll try not to worry so much."
She nodded to show that she had accepted his apology and then changed the subject.
"So, I wonder why Ron is taking the train," she said.
"His owl just said that he had been successful, and that Professor Moraes would be accompanying him to speak with Albus about the job."
The two finished their lunch, speculating on what the new Potion's Master would be like.
If Professor Moraes accepted the position, she would have the unenviable task of apprenticing Snape all year. At first Hermione worried that Severus would not like another female invading his domain, but her doubts were reassured when he began gleefully telling her of his plans to start some new experiments in his private lab. He then asked her if she thought Dumbledore would get mad if he turned everything over to the new professor after a week.
As a Master of Potions, Hermione had no doubt that the woman would be more than capable and told her husband as much. This had pleased Severus so much that they had retired early that evening, and not to sleep.
She shook the dreamy smile off of her face and refocused on her friend.
"Sorry," she offered with a sheepish smile.
Harry shook his head.
"Is day-dreaming a symptom of pregnancy too?" He asked, signaling the waiter for the check.
Hermione gave him an evil smirk.
"It is with a husband as virile as mine!"
Twenty minutes later they found a bench at the train station.
"It doesn't matter if it's Muggle or Wizard, trains are always late," Hermione said trying to wiggle her swollen toes which had gone numb.
"I can't hear you, Hermione. I really think I've gone deaf," Harry said faking panic.
She swatted at him.
"Oh, get over it Harry. Severus and I have sex. You can't look at me anymore without seeing the proof of it," she pointed out.
Harry just made a strangled sound in his throat.
They were pleasantly interrupted by a sound they had not heard in over six years. The train whistle of the Hogwarts Express sounded loudly in the hot afternoon as it turned a corner into view of the station.
This time of year the train only ran three times a month. There really was no reason for it, as children did not come to Hogwarts during the summer, and any adults that had business in Hogsmeade could just apparate. In fact, from mid-June through August the train mainly transported older or sickly witches and wizards who needed to conserve the energy it took to apparate.
Harry and Hermione watched as the train came to a stop and the door opened. A beautiful woman in brilliant orange and red robes emerged holding a small child in her arms. They were both dark skinned with glossy black hair, and dark brown eyes. The woman had her hair up in an elaborate twist that showed off her long neck and sparkling ruby earrings.
Ron followed them a moment later levitating their luggage. He smiled at Harry and Hermione as he led his two companions over to the bench.
"Hey guys! I'd like you to meet Professor Isabella Moraes," he said.
Isabella gently placed the boy on his feet, and let out an exasperated sigh as he tried to hide in her robes.
She held her hand out to Harry who shook it and then to Hermione.
"Actually, it is Professor Isabella Moraes-Weasley now," she said, watching the reactions with obvious amusement.
"You must be Harry Potter and Hermione Snape. Ronald has talked nonstop of you two," she said, laughing at their shocked expressions.
A silence descended as Hermione and Harry tried to come to terms with a married Ron.
"My name is David!"
The boy was looking at Hermione and Harry from behind Isabella.
Isabella laughed and shook her head.
"Yes, this is my nephew, David."
"Oh. Will he be staying with you?" Hermione finally pushed past the shock to ask.
Isabella lost her smile, her dark eyes filled with a sadness that made Hermione want to cry.
Ron cleared his throat.
"Obviously, we all have much to discuss, but I think it would be best if we could get settled in first. I'd like to only tell this story once. C'mon, Harry. Let's get a carriage," he said, leading the other man away.
Hermione looked over at Isabella nervously.
"I'm sorry if I said something to upset you, Professor."
Isabella shook her head.
"It is not your fault. Please, call me Isa. Due to a recent family tragedy, David is now in my care. We are the only family we have left. So yes, Professor Snape, he will be staying with me or I will not be staying," she said, firmly.
"Professor Snape is my husband's name! Please call me Hermione."
An hour later a rather large group gathered in Professor Dumbledore's office to hear Ron's story. Rachel, Charlie, Fred, George, Katie, Hermione, Severus, Harry, Ron, and of course Dumbledore himself waited anxiously for Ron to begin.
"Isa and David are taking a nap. The time change is difficult to get used to," Ron said with a yawn.
"Tough! You're not getting one wink of sleep until you explain how you left the country looking for a teacher and came back with a bloody wife!" Declared a very upset Fred.
Fred received a few hostile looks, but no one said anything. All eyes were now on Ron.
Ron sighed and began his tale.
Ron met Isabella Moreas soon after his arrival in her small coastal village. They went to a nice outdoor café with an ocean view. It was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been in his life. And with all of the traveling Ron had done, that was saying something.
When Isa had walked up and introduced herself, Ron had nearly swallowed his tongue. She was gorgeous, but surprisingly easy to talk to. Her English was perfect, and she laughed at most of his jokes.
She hesitated when he asked if she was ready to go find a seat.
"Mr. Weasley, before this goes any further I want you to know that I have no intention of taking a job at Hogwarts," she said, simply.
"All I'm offering is a free dinner with an amazing view," he said, holding out an arm.
She had smiled and accepted to Ron's delight.
They had a lovely meal spent talking about their families, friends, and the war, anything but the reason Ron was there. The hours passed quickly, and soon the café was ready to close.
"I hate to see this night end, Isa, but I think we are about to get kicked out."
She looked at her watch, surprised.
"Yes, I really do need to get home," she said.
They stood and shook hands.
"It was really nice meeting you," Ron holding on to her hand a little longer than was appropriate.
Isa sighed and gave him a pained look.
"I am really sorry Ron, but I've had offers to teach at schools all over the world, and the Hogwarts position is one of the lowest paying. And what about that marriage law Britain passed? Why should I choose Hogwarts?"
Ron simply answered that they offered what they could and hoped she might change her mind. He told her the name of the hotel he was staying at, and that he planned to be there for several weeks if she wanted to talk some more. About anything. He then started to leave then but suddenly turned back.
"We are a family at Hogwarts. To me, that is worth more than all of the money in the world," he said and left.
She did not respond, but her gaze had been thoughtful as he disappeared.
The next day they met for lunch, then dinner. They spent several days walking the beaches and shopping in the outdoor markets. Isa started a routine where she would meet with an agent of a school that wanted to hire her for lunch, and then meet Ron for ice cream after. She would detail to Ron how each interview went, and would listen as he offered advise, and good follow up questions for her to ask. After their ice cream date, all thoughts of life beyond the summer fled from their minds as the two went dancing, or to the movies, or just hung around the beach enjoying the scenery.
Late on July second he walked her home and kissed her goodnight. It was their first kiss, and was followed by many more increasing in intensity.
"Ron I want you to come in with me. Stay the night," she gasped out between kisses.
Ron broke away and smiled down at her, nodding enthusiastically. But suddenly, Isa went very still.
"Before you do. I want you to know that I have chosen the Potions' Master position at Sweet Water School of Magic in Texas."
Hearing her confession was like having a bucket of ice water dumped on his head. He stepped away from her, running a hand through his hair.
Ron turned away, not sure what to say.
Isa grabbed his arm and pulled him back around to face her.
"Why are you angry, Ronald? I told you from the beginning I would not choose Hogwarts," she asked, blinking back tears.
His own eyes were curiously bright as he looked down at her.
"I have had a lot of fun this past month. I'm sorry Isa, but I just can't continue this knowing it will go nowhere."
They were both quiet for a moment; hurt by his words, but knowing they were true.
Isa took a deep breath and held out a hand for him to shake.
"Goodbye, Mr. Weasley," she said, her voice wavering only slightly.
Ron took hold of her hand and looked into her eyes.
"Goodbye, Isa," he said, giving her hand a swift pull and causing her to fall against him.
He kissed her deeply, one last time, then roughly released her and apparated away.
Isa held a hand to her lips and remained staring out into the darkness for a long time afterward.
The next two weeks were pure misery for Ron. The beautiful town that had been so enchanting with Isa at his side now seemed dull and boring. He honestly didn't know why he hung around so long, but every time he sat down to owl Dumbledore that he had not been successful, he just couldn't do it.
Late one evening, as Ron got ready for bed, he heard a frantic pounding at his door.
He was surprised to see a very ruffled looking Isabella holding a small boy in her arms.
She brushed passed him, settling the boy on the sofa, and murmuring to him in a different language.
Ron shut the door, willing himself to keep quiet. It was obvious to him the something bad had happened. Isa would explain herself soon. She needed to calm the boy.
It seemed to take hours, but the boy finally fell asleep. Isa herself looked exhausted. Ron motioned for her to follow him into the bedroom.
He shut the door behind him and turned to ask her what was going on, but was dismayed to see her crying.
He watched as she sank to the floor with her arms wrapped about herself, shoulders shaking with sobs as she tried to cry quietly.
Not knowing what else to do, Ron sat on the floor beside her and pulled her into his arms. She cried herself to sleep. Ron tucked her into his bed, and went to check on the boy. He was still sleeping, so Ron covered him with a light blanket and put a glass of water on the coffee table next to the sofa and returned to his bedroom.
He debated for a few minutes as to whether or not he should crawl in bed beside her. Would she think he was taking advantage of her? In the end, he stayed fully dressed and lay down on top of the blanket next to her. In the whole time that he had known Isabella Moreas, he had never seen her cry. Whatever had happened must have been devastating, but he could not help but feel a small swell of pleasure at the fact that she had come to him in her time of need.
When he woke she was sitting up in the bed, just staring out into the distance. He sat up and she blinked, his movement waking her from whatever trance she had been in.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
She seemed more coherent and in control of herself. Ron reached out and grabbed her hand linking their fingers together.
"It's okay," was all he said.
Isa was shocked that he wasn't demanding answers from her. He was just sitting beside her, peacefully holding her hand and waiting on her to say or do what she wanted.
"I had no right to come here like this, but I didn't know what else to do. I was babysitting my nephew, David last night for my sister and her husband. They went to the opera. The opera house burnt down last night. They… they didn't make it…" she started crying again.
When she had composed herself again, she said, "I didn't know what to do. I just couldn't stay at home. I needed to get David somewhere safe… My sister and David were all the family I had left. Now it is just me and David."
Ron pulled her close and stroked her hair.
"You were close to your sister?" he asked.
She nodded her eyes filling with tears again.
"She was my best friend. We buried our parents two years ago, and I moved closer to her. We spend a lot of time together. I miss her already."
Isa cried herself to sleep again.
Ron had buried several of his family members, so he knew what she and David were going through.
When Ron emerged from the bedroom he found David awake drinking the water Ron had left out for him.
He walked over and sat down across from the boy.
"Hello David. I'm Ron. Are you hungry?" he asked.
The boy blinked at him uncomprehendingly.
He suppressed a groan. Ron should have realized when Isa was speaking to the boy last night, that he would not know English.
"Ron." He said, pointing to himself.
Then he mimicked eating.
"Are you hungry?"
David shook his head and looked away.
The two sat in silence, until the boy started squirming.
Luckily, Ron was able to recognize the problem right away and quickly led the boy to the bathroom.
After that, Ron didn't know what to do. He wanted to comfort the boy, but wasn't sure of his welcome.
When David left the bathroom he walked over to the shut bedroom door and turned to look at Ron.
"Tia Isa?" He asked, pointing at the door.
"Isa is sleeping," he said, resting his had on his folded hands to demonstrate.
David nodded and held a finger up to his lips.
Ron watched as the boy started scanning the room for something. His eyes lit up when they found the television.
Ron could appreciate the boy's excitement. After the war, Ron spent a lot of time traveling and had learned many things about the muggle culture. The television had been one of his favorites.
When Isa emerged from the bedroom a few hours later, she was surprised to see David and Ron watching cartoons and eating ice cream.
She cleared her throat, and Ron jumped up guiltily.
"Sorry, Isa. Ice cream was the only thing I could get him to eat," he said, sheepishly.
Isa shook her head, but gave him a small smile.
"How are you feeling David?" She asked the boy who was glued to the television.
"Fine," he said, not looking away from the set.
Ron looked at him in shock.
"You can speak English?" He demanded.
This time David did look away long enough to give Ron a mischievous grin.
"David! That was very rude of you. Mr. Weasley is helping us out," she scolded.
David did look a little contrite.
"I am sorry. I like playing jokes. It makes me feel not as sad," he explained.
His English wasn't quite as good as Isa's but Ron could tell the boy meant what he said.
"That's okay, David. My brothers, Fred and George like to play jokes on me too."
David went back to his ice cream and cartoons, while Ron and Isa went to the kitchen for some real food.
"Is there anything I can do to help you out, Isa?" He asked her, quietly.
She smiled at him, charmed by his helpful yet easy-going manner.
"You have already done so much. I suppose it would help if David could stay with you while I go out and take care of some things."
Ron returned her smile.
"Sure. You are both welcome to stay as long as you need," he said.
She gave him a quick hug, and then excused herself to shower.
It was several hours later before Isabella returned.
Ron looked up from the television with a smile.
"I promise we haven't been sitting here all day," he said.
His grin faded when he saw how depressed she looked.
"Isa, are you o-"
"I'm fine. Let's talk in the kitchen," she said looking at David who was oblivious of the conversation going on between the adults.
Ron followed her, concerned about what else may be upsetting her.
"What's wrong, Isa?"
Tears filled her eyes, but she was determined not to break down crying, again.
"It seems that all of the doors that were wide open for me have been slammed shut. I spent three hours haggling with Sweet Water to get them to allow me to bring David with me. They finally agreed, but I'll be taking a huge salary cut. That was fine. I could live with that. Then I went to speak with our family lawyer about everything. It seems I cannot take David out of the country unless I adopt him, and according to our Wizarding Laws, I cannot adopt unless I am married."
They were both silent for a few minutes, then Ron started laughing. It began as a slight snigger, but soon escalated to full-out, rolling-on-the-floor laughter.
Isa huffed, and tried not grin at the spectacle.
"So, you find my problems amusing do you?" She asked sternly.
When he continued to laugh, she kicked at him with her foot. The second time she kicked, Ron was ready for her, and caught her ankle pulling her down on top of him in one smooth move. Pretty soon, they were both laughing so hard, the racket pulled David away from the TV to see what the fuss was about. The boy only hesitated for a second before launching himself onto Ron as well. His laughter soon joined theirs as both adults began tickling him.
When they had finally calmed down, Ron looked over at Isa. Her robes were rumpled, her hair was in major disarray, and there were dark circles under her eyes. Still, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
He grabbed one of her hands, and placed a kiss on the back of it.
"Marry me," he said, looking into her eyes.
Her mouth fell open in shock.
"Marry me. We can adopt David, and be a real family," he said, kissing her hand again.
"Oh, Ronald. I may have been able to talk Sweet Water into letting me bring David, but they'll never allow me to bring you."
"Hogwarts will let you. They'll welcome you and David," he began, but she interrupted him with a glare.
"Ronald Weasley! I cannot believe that you would go to so much trouble just to get me to teach at your school."
It was Ron's turn to glare as he said, "You think I am just marrying you so that you'll teach at Hogwarts? That's rubbish!"
"Is it? Well you have to admit that this has all been awfully convenient for you!" She retorted.
David's head turned back and forth as he followed the conversation. He felt like he was watching a tennis match.
"Fine. If you don't want to teach at Hogwarts, you don't have to. I'll go wherever you want. But I can't imagine us being happy anywhere else."
"I- Do you mean that?"
All the anger seemed to drain out of her.
"You would leave your friends and family and live with me, anywhere I decide to go?"
"Yes. But I'm telling you, Isa, I've been all around the world and Hogwarts is the best there is."
There was a passionate heat in both of their gazes as they stared at one another. David began to slowly back out of the room, not sure he wanted to see what would happen next.
"But to marry me Ron? Do you… Do you even love me?" She asked, in a small voice.
"Isa, I think I loved you since the moment I saw you."
His whispered confession brought tears to her eyes.
And then they were kissing.
"And that is how I happened," Ron ended his story and yawned again.
The women all had dreamy expressions on their faces while the men were stifling their own yawns. Hermione was practically bawling into Severus' handkerchief.
Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Then it all worked out very well. You should get some rest Ron."
The group broke up then, couples heading off in various directions.
Severus frowned when he saw Hermione practically limping.
He sighed and in one smooth move levitated her into his arms.
"You overworked yourself today, Hermione. What am I going to do with you?"
She seemed to ponder his question as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"You should definitely give me a foot massage," she announced, finally.
"And how does that punish you?" He asked with a smirk.
"Who said anything about punishment?" She replied, giving his earlobe a playful tug with her teeth.
"You are a spoiled brat," he declared, but quickened his pace to their rooms.
End Chapter 20