A/N: I want to appologize for the length between updates. Real life got much bigger than me this time around and at the end of the day real life always takes first place. But life is better now and I'm writing more and more so it shouldn't take to long before the next update. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Also thank you to Nattieb for her always wonderful advice, friendship and betaing. Nita > >
Hermione stood in the kitchen processing what Ron had just said. What did he mean, he wasn't going back to work? He just meant tomorrow right? He planned on going back to work eventually. Knowing that she needed to discuss this with Ron she dropped the letter on the table and followed the pounding footsteps of her husband. Walking into their bedroom, she was greeted with shirts being flung from the closet and Ron muttering under his breath. Taking a deep breath she approached him and asked, "Ron, what do you mean, you're not going back?"
"Exactly what I said, Hermione. I'm not going back, not today, not next week, or even next month. I am not going back." Ron said, finally emerging from the closet and easing a loose fitting shirt on.
Walking over to him she helped him finish pulling the shirt down over his sore muscles. "Ron, you have to go back. I'm on leave without pay and though I have some money put away, with what we have to pay Susan it isn't going to be enough."
"Hermione," Ron said, running his hand through his hair and moving over to where she had laid out a pair of slacks for him. "I can't go back. I just got home two days ago. Two days, after spending five years in a hell-hole. Everyone, had given up on me, Mione. Everyone including my Auror team and now Kingsley just expects me to forget it all and come back to work like a good little soldier? Forget it. I'm not going."
"Not everyone forgot about you, Ron." Hermione said the pain in her voice evident as she walked into the bathroom and began gathering her hair on top of her head.
"I didn't say you did," Ron sighed while fastening his slacks. "But you're the only one. We'll find a way to get money, Hermione. But I'm not going back and that is final."
Coming back into the room, Hermione walked over to the bed and began putting on the clothes she had laid out for herself. "I suppose if we need to we can always ask Harry and Ginny for a loan," she said as she reached behind her back to fasten the skirt.
Ron visibley bristled and barked, "I'll take care of my own family, Hermione," After tying his shoes, he stood and walked out of the room, leaving her standing there looking as hurt as he felt.
Mumbling to himself, Ron made his way down the stairs, stopping at the landing when he saw the silhouette of a man at the door. Quickly taking his wand out of his pocket, he moved to the side of the door. "Who's there?" he said defensively.
"It's Kingsley, Ron. Can I come in?"
Ron opened the door and stood in the doorway crossing his arms over his chest, his wand still drawn. "What do you want?"
"I just came here to talk to you. Now put your wand away, and let me come in. I'm not the enemy, remember?"
"No, that's right. You're not the enemy - he just works for you," Ron said, still not moving from the doorway.
"We had no way of knowing about that. We can't apologize enough. But we really need you to come back to work."
"I was held hostage for five years, my wife was nearly killed by a mad man because you hired a traitor, and now she has lost her job and a trial is being held to decide if she is going to spend time in Azkaban. And all you can say is we're sorry, but come back to work?"
"Ron, I didn't mean it that way. We understand you are both going through a hard time. I have been there too, remember - I was held for months during the war. I didn't want to come back either, but I did. If you don't get back to the routine, it is just going to be harder the longer you put it off.
"That's exactly it, Kingsley. You were held for months - I was held for years. I was tortured daily, for years. I was held just a block from my wife for years. Years of my life were stolen away from me, and I'm not doing it again. That is my final decision, and now I am kindly asking you to leave."
"Be sensible, Ron. Yes, I'm your boss, but I'm your friend first. Just let me come in so we can sit down and really talk about your options."
"I've been home for two days, and you want me to talk about my options? I don't want to talk about my options and I'm not letting you in. Hermione and I have a meeting in an hour, and we need to be going."
"What Ron means to say, Kingsley," said Hermione from the stairs coming down to join the men at the door "is that he can't let you in. Our wards are still raised so only Ron and I can be in the house."
"Hello, Hermione. Glad to see you are looking well. I was sorry to hear about your upcoming trial."
"Thank you. We still have a month to prepare, so hopefully something will change before then." Hermione said now standing next to Ron.
"I was really sorry to hear that a trial came about. Especially about your job, you were an asset to the Ministry, Hermione."
"Thank you but it will all work out."
"I was going to send you an owl later today but I might as well tell you now. I've been asked, well told really that I will be called to give evidence against you in the trial. I'm really sorry and hate to do it, but since I was the auror in charge of the mission I have no choice."
"You don't have a choice!" came Ron's angry bellow next. "What do you mean you don't have a choice? Of course you do. You don't do it. An angry mad man goes after my wife and she defends herself and you have no choice but to give evidence against her? You have a choice."
"That's right Ron, I don't have a choice. I was in charge. I told Hermione to stay put and not do anything. Instead of listening to me and staying back, she walked right up to him and put herself in harm's way, and then used a curse she knew was not approved. So, no, I don't have a choice."
Hermione's sobs broke the tension before Ron could say anything back. "Hermione, it's okay. We're going to be okay. Everything is going to work out, Susan will help us, don't worry. You have a strong case," Ron said to Hermione, taking her into his arms and drawing her towards him. Turning to Kingsley, he said, "I've already asked you to leave my house. Now I'm telling you, leave. There will be no discussing my options, there will be no more talk of me coming back to the department. You've upset my wife, now go. I'll be in on Monday to collect my five years of back pay and clean my desk."
He watched over Hermione's head as Kinsley walked back down the sidewalk. Stroking her hair he said "I meant it Hermione. Everything is going to be fine. We are going to get through this. We'll meet with Susan and she'll help us figure it out."
Closing the door Ron stalked into the kitchen. Hermione seemed to be paralyzed in place. What had just happened? Had he really just told Kingsley to get out? Shaking her head and regining in her emotions she walked into the kitchen where she saw her husband pouring what must be his second cup of pumpkin juice.
"Ron, I went and cleaned out your desk out six months after you disappeared, a week after the search was called off. The boxes are in the shed and everything is there." Hermione said pouring herself some tea.
She looked at Ron as if anticipating he might add something else or at least talk to her about the conversation that he just had but instead he took his juice and moved to the table where she had just placed some toast and eggs. Not knowing what else to do but sensing that her husband didn't want to talk she took her tea over to the table too and took a piece of toast.
As they ate Hermione kept look up hoping for some sign of a conversation from her husband, but their meal remained one of silence. After finishing his breakfast Ron took his dishes to the sink and walked out of the room. Hermione sighed down at her plate and took it to the rubbish bin and dumped the remainder of her food. Charming the dishes clean she went in search of Ron.
When Ron left the kitchen he wasn't sure where it was he was going, but he needed to move. He had been confined to one room for five years and couldn't handle staying in one room for too long. He ended up in his favorite chair in the sitting room. He picked up the book that was laying over the arm of the chair, it was still marked where he had left it. Folding it shut he lay it on the table between his chair and Hermione's. He turned and looked out the window, he used to love this view. The street always seemed so content and peaceful, now all it did was remind him of how close he had been all those years to this. He used to like the idea of having neighbors and being able to watch any kids he and Hermione might have, play outside in the yard. Now it felt as though the houses were closing in on him boxing him in more. He hadn't heard Hermione come in but he started a bit when he felt her hand on his knee.
"Ron, is everything ok?" she asked in a shaky voice kneeling in front of him.
"I want to move."
"Move?" she wasn't sure if she had him correctly. "Did you say you wanted to move?"
"Yes, Hermione" he said shifting in his chair to look her in the eyes. "I want to move."
Looking up at him she took a deep breath before saying, "Okay, you want to move. We'll talk about it. But right now we need to go for the meeting with Susan or we'll be late. But we will talk about moving, I promise."
Moments later they exited the floo in the Leaky Cauldron, Ron looked around thankful it was early enough in the day for it to still be nearly empty. When the war had ended every where they had went it seemed everyone was wanting to shake their hands and talk about the details. Ron had always hated this and never wanted to be a part of all the celebrations. More than anything he had wanted to forget about all the faces of the dead he had seen, so he had avoided going out. So now on a day when there were so few in the Leaky Cauldron he felt quite relieved he would not have to endure it all again. So after a few tense hello's and handshakes they made their way to the exit. Raising his wand Ron tapped the bricks to open the passage into Diagon Alley. They found Susan's office, which was located near Gringotts and were soon seated in the waiting area.
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley? Ms. Bones will see you now." The secretary said before standing them and leading them down a short hallway and into a door where Susan was waiting for them.
Shaking Ron's hand and then turning to give Hermione a hug she said, "It's good to see you both. Please sit down and lets get started."
"Ron I cant even tell you how good it is to see you." Susan said as she made her way around her desk and sat down. "We really have missed you."
"Thanks Susan," Ron said feeling slightly uncomfortable. With people in the pub they had been strangers but Susan was a friend. He had fought a long side her during the war.
Sensing Ron's discomfort Susan shifted her gaze to Hermione. "I read about your story, Hermione, in the Daily Prophet. But I want to know what really happened.
Thirty minutes later Hermione had told Susan her version of the events and answer any questions that she had.
"Hermione, Comma I think we have a strong case of self defense here. I'm not making promises that you will not be punished, it is highly likely you will loose your job. But we'll keep you out of Azkaban for sure. I'm also going to get a statement from Kingsley about McClaggen and question the other aurors who were there to see if any of them saw him release LeStrange. If we can get a few witnesses to that, it will really help our case."
"Susan you don't know how much it means to me," Hermione said putting her hand on Ron's knee. "To both of us you taking my case. Thank you so much."
"Anything for a friend, Hermione. You helped me through some hard times at school and Ron saved my life more than once when we were fighting the war. The way I see it, I just owe you a favor." Susan stood up from her desk and walked around it and again gave Hermione a hug. "Don't worry Hermione, you and Ron just go home and try to get life back to normal. I'll take care of all this. I'll get back to you in a week or so and we'll set up a time to meet and see what evidence I've been able to gather."
"Thank you again." Hermione said.
"If you don't want to fight the Leaky Cauldron again, feel free to use the floo in the lobby. Constance, my secretary, has the floo powder in her desk."
"Thank you Susan, thanks for doing this." Ron said as he led Hermione out of the room to floo back to their house.