The Cost of Friendship
"I can't believe you Ron." Hermione said angrily as she shoved a stack of shirts into her suitcase.
"Hermione I told you it was accident, I wasn't doing what you thought I was!" Ron said pleadingly.
Hermione slammed the top of her suitcase shut then rounded on Ron. "Oh really, then why were your hands on her breasts? Did you just slip and grab them?"
"Look, I told you. Cloie was holding a cup of coffee and when I turned around I accidentally knocked it out of her hands. I had some napkins in my pocket, I was just helping her get the hot coffee off. That bus was shaky, it was an accident!" Ron said with his voice rising slightly.
"And the fact that you spent the entire tour staring at her ass makes no difference?" Hermione said with her hands on her hips.
"If we had don't the tour two days ago like I wanted to we wouldn't be in this mess." Ron said.
"Don't blame this on me!" Hermione argued back.
"Hermione, why are you really upset. You can't possibly be jealous of another woman, you have me. I'm yours, I'm not going to leave you for some French woman with coffee stains on her." Ron said as he walked over to Hermione put his hand on the side of her face.
Hermione sighed then said, "I know Ron, and I'm sorry. Your right I'm not really upset about that, I don't want to go home. That and I'm not feeling all the well."
"Why don't you want to go home?" Ron asked as he returned to his own suitcase and started shoving random items in without folding them.
Hermione walked over and started to fold Ron's shirts for him. "Because going home means going back to work and away from here."
"But you love your job." Ron said.
"I do love my job but this is the first vacation I have been on in almost three years, I need a break every now and then." Hermione said as she repacked Ron's suitcase. "I'm just afraid that when we go home it's going to be another three years before I get another break."
Ron stopped her, put his hands on her shoulders then said, "Let's make a pact right now, we will go on vacation every year. Anywhere you want to go, anytime for as long as we are still able to walk."
Hermione tossed her arms around him and kissed him tightly, "Oh Ron, you're so wonderful. But what happens when we get so busy we can't get away. Those Elves are important to me and if it means taking a vacation verses saving another elf, then I choose the elf!"
"Then I suggest that we give Ginny more power that way if you have a vacation coming up and an elf to save at the same time, Ginny can do the paperwork on the elf while we're basking in the sun." Ron said with a smile.
"You know Ron, you could be onto something there. Ginny has been my partner for a long time but I would never let her touch my work. If make her a co-founder of S.P.E.W., I wouldn't be so nervous all the time. You know, I think I will. I'll talk to Ginny as soon as we get back." Hermione said happily as she shut Ron's suitcase.
"Excellent, let's go home and find out what our crazy friends are up to shall we?" Ron said as he held an arm out for Hermione.
With a wave of her wand she made the two matching suitcases vanish along with several large shopping bags. She took one last look around their suite then put a hand on Ron's arm and allowed him to guide her home. Moments later they found themselves standing in their apartment, still arm-in-arm. They very first thing they noticed was a rather large pile of gifts waiting for them on the couch. Upon inspection of the room it wasn't hard to find things to smile about.
Hanging above the large bay window was a welcome home banner that was flashing with bright red letters. In front of Hermione's large bookcase was several large color changing balloons that were oddly enough singing Christmas carols rather loudly. A large basket with fruit was sitting on the dinning table with a large "Welcome Home" sign from Harry and Ginny. In fact the entire apartment was covered in decorations and banners. Ron and Hermione amused themselves for nearly an hour exploring the many different gifts and greetings.
"I can't believe all this." Ron said as he opened a gift from his parents. "Look, mum and dad got us a set of self cooking pots and pans. The note reads, Don't let Ron use these, he will still manage to burn everything. Love Mum and Dad. Well, they have loads of faith in me."
"Wow, my mum and dad gave us muggle money, one thousands pounds! We will have to go into Gringotts to exchange this tomorrow." Hermione said excitedly.
After several hours and lots of tossed wrapping paper later they finally reached the end of the wedding gifts. Most of them consisting of cookware, nick-naks and household books. The most bothersome gift to Ron however was the large white bassinet that his Aunt Bessy sent him along with a long list of names she would like to see for his kids. Hermione found it rather funny while Ron almost had a panic attack over it. However, there was now so much paper, boxes and presents all over the apartment there was literally no where to sit, stand or even move.
"After all that, I don't have the energy to clean, do you?" Hermione asked Ron who was examining a tea kettle that would fill it's self with water, put itself on the stove then serve you tea when it was done.
Ron let go of his tea pot and watched as it grew wings and flew over to the tap. "Not really, besides it's Friday, we don't go back to work until Monday. We have the whole weekend to clean."
"Where are we going to sleep though, we put all those books on our bed along with our suitcases." Hermione stated.
Ron smiled, "Let's go and bug Harry, he has an extra bedroom."
Moment's later Ron and Hermione were standing outside of Harry and Ginny's apartment, looking at the front door. Just as they were about to knock the door flew open and out came Ginny and Harry, looking like the happiest people on earth. Harry and Ginny stopped instantly at the sight of Ron and Hermione.
"Ron, Hermione...I didn't think you were coming home until tomorrow." Ginny said as she hugged Hermione tightly.
"No, we had reservations for five days only. We tried to get an extra night but the room was already booked. Hey, where are you two going looking so happy?" Hermione replied.
Harry looked over to Ginny and smiled, "Well, were going to go get a drink at the Three Broomsticks but we can stay in, we want to hear about your honeymoon."
Ginny pushed the door back open and motioned for everyone to enter. Harry went to the kitchen to get drinks for everyone. While Ginny, Ron and Hermione all headed into the living room and sat down on the couch. As Harry was walking back into the room with a tray full of glasses, Ginny started talking.
"So are you going to tell us where you went" Ginny asked.
Hermione laughed. "Harry guessed right, we went to Paris and it was absolutely wonderful."
Harry reached the living room and handed drinks to Ron and Hermione. However when Ginny reached up to take her glass, Hermione screamed rather loudly, put her own glass on the table and grabbed Ginny's wrist. Ginny instantly dropped her glass, spilling firewhiskey everywhere.
"Hermione what on earth..." Ginny started but was interrupted by Hermione.
"Ginny Weasley, what is that on your finger!" Hermione said rather loudly, causing Ron to jump up from his seat to look at Ginny's hand that was still in Hermione's grasp.
Harry took his own glass off the tray then sat down with his head held high, "Be careful with that hand Hermione, it's packing heat."
"I can see that." Ron said. "When did this happen?"
Ginny pulled her hand out of Hermione's and pulled her wand out of her pocket to clean up the firewhiskey. "He asked me a few days after you left."
Hermione looked over to Ron and smacked him on the arm. "Why didn't you get me a rock like that?"
Ron looked hurt, "I did the best I could!"
"Oh I'm just kidding around, I love my ring. But I can't believe you two are getting married! That's fantastic!" Hermione said excitedly. "When is the wedding? Who are your bridesmaids? Where are you going to have it?"
"Calm down Hermione, we haven't even been engaged a week. We haven't talked about any of that." Ginny said as she glanced over at Harry who was grinning from ear to ear. "What are you smiling about?"
"Us." Harry said simply.
"What do you mean, us?" Ron asked as he started smiling at Harry.
"Look at us, all sitting around drinking and having adult conversations. You two are married, were going to get married, when did we all grow up?" Harry asked rhetorically.
The following weekend found Harry and Ginny over at Ron and Hermione's apartment helping them to find places to put all their wedding presents. This was proving to be difficult because of the shear amount of gifts they received. On more than one occasions Ron suggested to toss a few things out the window which resulted in a lecture from Hermione about learning to appreciate gifts. In fact Hermione spent the entire morning bossing others around and being rather nasty to everyone.
"Hermione will you calm down?" Ron asked after Hermione rearranged a shelf for the third time.
"I can't help it, nothing in this apartment looks right. Every time I move something it looks even worse." Hermione said as she kicked an empty box across the room causing Harry to jump out of the way of it.
"Help, I'm being attacked by boxes!" Harry said with a snicker.
"You're a dork." Ginny proclaimed to Harry. "Why don't the guys go toss all these empty boxes in the dumpster downstairs while I help you find a spot for some of this kitchenware, Hermione."
"Good idea." Ron said as he tossed a worried glance at Hermione. "The more boxes we git rid of the less she has to kick at us."
Harry and Ron gathered up a large amount of boxes and headed out the door leaving Hermione and Ginny alone. Ginny too the opportunity to talk to Hermione. "Alright Hermione, why are you so cranky?"
"I dunno, I guess because I don't feel very well. I haven't felt very well since we got back from our honeymoon. " Hermione said as she opened a box.
"Have you gotten ill?" Ginny asked.
"I did this morning, I almost didn't make it to the bathroom." Hermione said as she turned and looked at Ginny. "Why?"
"Didn't you tell me that you and Ron slept together a few weeks before you got married? You were all mad at yourself over it because you wanted to wait or something." Ginny said.
"Ginny what are you getting at?" Hermione asked. "If you're suggesting that I mite be..."
"You could be pregnant Hermione, you're irritated, you're having morning sickness...you never know." Ginny said as she turned to hide the smile that was forming on her face. "You are a Weasley now, we are known to be fertile people."
"No, there's no possible way that I could be...don't be ridiculous." Hermione said more to herself than to Ginny.
"Well, you should at least go have a check up at St. Mungos." Ginny suggested.
Ron who had just entered the door way caught this last bit of conversation, "Why does Hermione need a check up?"
Hermione turned around so fast to look at Ron it looked as if her head would fall off, "Oh no reason, I think my have a cold or something."
"Oh right, because you got sick this morning..." Ron said.
"Right, because of that." Hermione replied as she toss Ginny a don't you dare say anything, look.
A few days later Harry and Ginny were happily working away in the Diagon S.P.E.W. Office during lunch. The rest of the workers went out to grab a bite or they were off on business. Ginny had packed a lunch for the pair of them that day and they were gathered around Ginny's desk eating sandwiches and talking about work.
"No, I think Dobby's right Harry. Once an elf is free, what are they to do? They have no money, no where to go. The only place right now that's really employing them is Hogwarts and they are going to run out of room soon. Once an elf is free the Ministry should give them an allowance to get them on their feet. It's their fault in the first place that elves are enslaved..." Ginny between bites.
Harry took a sip of butterbeer and said, "I don't disagree but where does the Ministry get the money? They will have to start a wizarding tax of some sort to pay for it all. I just think it should be our job, use all the donations we get and give it back to the elves."
At that very moment the glass door to the office burst open with such force that the knob hit the wall and left a mark. Standing in the doorway looking red and beyond angry was Hermione. Her hair was a mess as was her clothes. For some reason she was missing a shoe and her wand was at the ready, pointing directly at Ginny as she entered the room. As Hermione got closer and closer to Ginny, Harry was pushing his chair over to stand between the two of them.
"Hermione, don't point that wand at Ginny like that! You could hurt her!" Harry said as he stood up in front of Hermione.
Hermione moved her wand up and pointed it at Harry's head, "This doesn't concern you Harry now move!"
"I will not, what's with you?" Harry said.
Hermione instead moved around Harry to look at Ginny, "You! It's all your fault, you cursed me somehow."
Ginny looked confused, "I didn't curse you, what's wrong?"
"You! You told me to go to St. Mungo's for a check up and now look at me!" Hermione said.
Ginny was starting to catch on, "Oh Hermione you're not...you're not pregnant are you?"
This was Harry's cue to leave the room, "Oh well...this sounds like girl talk to me. I'll leave you to it then." Harry said as he picked up his sandwich and butterbeer then walked out of the office.
Hermione sat down in Harry's empty chair and dropped her head down so that her forehead was leaning on the edge of Ginny's desk. "I can't have a baby, I just can't. I'm to busy with work and..."
"And what? That's all you have Hermione is work. It will be good for you to have other things in your life. You will be an amazing mum and Ron, well Ron will be as good as he can be." Ginny said with a slight snicker. "Have you told him yet?"
"NO! I just found out, I came strait here. I was in such a hurry to hunt you down I didn't manage to put all of my clothes back on after the exam." Hermione said as she looked down her bare left foot. "You really think I'll be an okay mum?"
"The best ever! That kid is going to be smart, beautiful, and have flaming red hair. The perfect child in my opinion." Ginny said trying to cheer Hermione up. "And you're not alone, this kid is going to be so loved it won't even be funny. You're having the first Weasley grandkid! It's going to have more uncles than it will know what to do with and one very cool aunt."
Hermione Ginny in the eyes for the first time and smiled, "Ginny, I want to make you a co-owner of S.P.E.W."
Ginny pushed back in her chair slightly and looked at Hermione with awe, "You mean it? You're giving me half of the organization? You're giving me decision making ability?"
"Yes, under one condition." Hermione said.
"What's that?" Ginny asked excitedly.
"Come with me to tell Ron about the baby." Hermione said very stiffly.
Ginny thought for a moment before she responded. "It's a deal." Ginny put her hand out and Hermione shook it tightly.
To be concluded...