But if fate really is controlling all of this, why have Ron back in my life? Is he supposed to turn me back? And if he does, what then? I'm back from the dead? What's the story? Do I have to honestly die again?
My head hurts.
But luckily, I don't necessarily have to think so hard about it right now. Because it's summer, and I'm watching Tony fill the wading pool with his girlfriend. And by filling it I mean momentarily aiming the hose at the pool and then swinging it at his girlfriend.
I'm kind of glad it's not Kris. No one should settle for the first person.
I sure didn't. There was Jeremy the summer of my third year. He liked cats, hence Crookshanks. And then Viktor, followed by Jeremy and Ricky, and then Cormac or whoever, finally at the end pf seventh year, Ron, which lasted a year and got pretty serious. But then he picked up a girl in a pub and we split, no hard feelings, and then there were my rebound "you're a fabulous dancer, can I buy you a drink?" fling guys.
Then I got fed-up. Life went on, Draco joined the Order, and I finally fell in all-consuming, eat burnt disasters of meals, put up with bad music, hate for loving them kind of love. And then I was done.
Tony hasn't reached that.
When I first came to them it was Emma. This one (who is way more fun) is Jennifer, of Jen, as she likes to be called.
She's squealing, shouting at him to stop, Tony Is just about to let up, and Draco is laughing softly.
I'm just glad I'm still inside.
But before long, the screen door slides open in front of me and Draco nudges me out of it with his foot.
As an almost-mother, I can tell that something horrible is about to come out of all this water business.
Oh, and I will be right.
Through these last couple of weeks with Tony and Draco, I've thought long and hard about Ron's proposition. And I want to do it. Because if I don't, I'll regret it if something happens, if Draco moves on, if I get hit by a car. So I'm going to do it. And next time I see Ron I'll let him know. Because being a cat is okay, except that I know I'm missing out, and no one said "If Ron asks to change you back, say no", so technically – well, technically I wasn't to tell him I was me, but technically it's my life. So I'll do it.
And fate seems to be on my side, because Ron is knocking on the door.
He tells Draco he's going to get me checked out at the vet. Which is good, because I haven't been there and I don't want to. So it's Ron taking me somewhere and I'm going to be me.
I'm going to be me.
"I have to be out of my mind for doing this."
"Got that in one."
"Trouble. That's the only place we'll end up."
"Trouble isn't that bad of a place."
"Trouble is a place I've tried to avoid my whole life."
We really are crazy, I should add. I mean, bookworm me, the one who never would dare to break any of the rules back in school, is here in the Department of Mysteries trying to break through the realms.
"Always the one to persuade me, weren't you, Ron?"
"Knocking your head against the wall to make you loosen up is more like it."
"At least I kept you out of some trouble, you arse."
"My, aren't we snarky this –"
Maybe I should explain. Ron works in the Department of Mysteries, mainly concerning himself with the after-life and the suspicion surrounding it. When I first ran up to him and Harry in the street, he knew I wasn't a real cat. Kind of like how he was so wary of Crookshanks. Or at least that's how he explained it to me. So now, at my own out-on-a-limb will, I am his experiment.
"Yes, just staying a little longer."
"I'm wary of leaving you like this."
"A little bit of alone time might be what I need."
"Whole case doesn't need to be solved in a day."
"Lotta sleep I'll get if I don't wrap up this one experiment."
"Baby, don't worry about me."
He's lucky he was born with his brother's suaveness and charm. Or maybe she's in love with him. Well, that would just tickle me pink!
"Just sit still now."
"Kid, she's a catch."
"In a few minutes it should open."
"A lot of girls think you are quite a catch. What are you waiting on? Or, perhaps, whom?"
"Store that in my memory, won't I?"
Ron has always been a tease. It's super cute to see him this smitten with a girl. The minutes tick by slowly, and if it wasn't for the concentrated frown on his face I would think he was thinking about her. But instead his mind is on me. Or on the realms and the small, short, immensely important opening between them. Draco is at home, awake, sitting with Tony and waiting for Ron's word on his cat's prognosis.
"Well, how do you feel?"
"Nothing hurts? No nausea? No dizziness?"
"But, Ron, did it work?"
"Trouble is, how am I going to explain it?"
"Babe, Ron, did it work?"
"Now, Hermione, I don't want to shock you."
"Since when have you not shocked me?"
"The thing is –"
"Day will be upon us before you say what you're trying to say."
"That is it, isn't it? I can't find the words."
My heart feels like it's in my throat.
"I want a mirror."
"Was it a shock?"
"Born again," I whisper.
I gaze, mesmerized, into the small pocket mirror. I need robes badly, but I'm not ashamed. I'm not Eno anymore. I'm Hermione. But I can't put more than two words together I'm so shocked. It worked. But am I still sick? Will I be sent away anyways? How much trouble is Ron going to be in? Will this interfere with the mission I'm supposed to be serving here? Was this meant to be?
"As long as you don't lick yourself clean."
"Good thing it's you, Ron."
"As long as you don't come onto me or anything."
"It is a miracle."
"Ever feel like your naked?"
"Get me some robes, will you?"
"Give me a little somethin'-somethin' first."
"You can get me some clothes first."
"Won't I get anything for my troubles?"
"Forget it, Ronald."
"If these ones don't fit you I can pop over to Candy's place."
"You just want to get invited up."
"Wanna bet? I'm not as – puerile – as I used to be."
"Spell that for me?"
"Trouble with you is that you're too smart."
"Babe, you ain't seen nothin' yet."
"Well, now we have a lot more time, don't we?"
"Send me the files."
"Out. You've got to be crazy! That would be me practically signing my death certificate."
"An offer you can't refuse, this is. I'm dead, remember?"
"Yes. You'll need some saving before long."
Ron took me home. We hid my face best we could until we reached the house. Draco was the one who opened the door. Before he could register it was me, Ron had shoved me in and closed the door quickly. Now I'm right where I should be: in Draco's arms. With my family.
Author Note: For most of this chapter, the first word of each bit of dialogue was from Christina Aguilera's "I Got Trouble" from her new CD (which is amazing.). So props go out in that respect. And no I'm not her or JK or anyone else with oodles of money.
I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed and read this story. And I'm sorry the sequel was on the short side, but the truth of the matter is, I can't write too much right now. But thank you, and have a very happy and enjoyable 2007.