The words rang through Ron like a siren, and his mind began to reel at the implications.
"What the bloody hell do you mean she's coming?" He asked angrily.
"Sorry mate! But you know she and Ginny stayed close after you two split. And to be perfectly honest, I've kind of missed seeing her since she left. I wouldn't mind catching up."
Ron's breaths started to come in short, frantic bursts.
"Didn't either of you care what I might have to say about this?"
"Ron, you're being a prat. It's our wedding. We'll invite who we want."
"Harry, we can't even be in the same room without getting into a blaring row. You're telling me you want that at your wedding."
"It was three years ago Ron. I'm sure she's let it go by now." Harry tried to console him.
Leaning back, Ron crossed his arms in front of his chest, and gave a very convincing impersonation of a four-year-old. "Well, I haven't."
"Well, I'm asking you to, for me." Harry fumed.
Ron huffed, and slumped forward onto the table.
"I guess it is just for one day. Just keep her the hell away from me."
At this, Harry became sheepish, and began to scope around for something else to focus on. Noticing his odd behaviour, Ron narrowed his eyes and glared at him.
"There's something you're not telling me."
Harry took a big swig of his Firewhiskey, placed his glass back on the table giving it his undivided attention, and wiped at his mouth.
He let out a long breath, and mumbled. "Ginny's asked her to be her Maid of Honour."
"WHAT?" Ron bellowed.
Harry bowed his head, leaned his elbows on the table and placed his hands on the back of his neck.
"SHE WHAT?" Ron continued.
"Oh, be quiet Ron. It's not that bad." Harry said looking back up.
"Not that bad? It is that bad! This means I have to bloody spend two bloody weeks with that bloody tight ass know-it-all."
"No Harry. I won't do it. I just won't."
"Ron, you are the most selfish git I have ever met. I asked you to be my Best Man because you're the only bloke in the world I could have stand beside me. But if you're going to be such an unbelievable prat about the whole thing then maybe we should forget it."
Completely shocked, Ron pleaded. "Harry…"
"No. You and Hermione are adults. If you love Gin and I as much as you claim to, you'll work out your differences, or at least make peace for the time being for our sake."
"It's just… Harry, the Best Man and the Maid of Honour are supposed to make all the plans together for the Hen's Day and the Stag and the rehearsal dinner and the like. We'll kill each other."
"Well, obviously Hermione thinks she can handle it because she said 'yes'."
"She did?" Ron squeaked.
"It seems you're the only one holding onto the grudge Ron. Let it go. Who knows? Maybe she's changed."
"I seriously doubt it mate."
Harry shot him a withering stare, and Ron occupied himself with his pint.
As Ron left 'The Three Broomsticks', he couldn't help but think back to the last time he'd seen Hermione.
Although he had replayed this particular memory over in his mind so many times he had it down in minute detail it always made him flinch.
"Damn it, Hermione. Were you just going to leave without telling me? Send it to me in an owl? Do I really mean that little to you?"
"For Merlin's sake, Ronald. Do you ever listen to me? Or do you just tune me out when I'm talking? I've been telling you about this bloody job prospect for weeks. Don't you remember me mentioning us going to Venice?"
"I thought you meant on vacation."
She growled in frustration.
"Well, I didn't. I meant we should move there… together."
"Why the bloody hell would I want to move to Venice?"
"For me, you prat!" She screamed.
"My entire life is here.You know that." He bellowed.
"Well, it won't be for long." She threatened.
"I can't believe you'd still go after I said I wouldn't."
"Are you serious? You expect me to just sit here, and wait for you? I have goals! I have things I want to achieve!"
"Yah, apparently without me!"
"You are impossible, you know that!"
"Tell me the truth, Hermione. What's the real reason you kept this from me?"
"What in Merlin's name are you talking about?"
"Is there another man? Is that why you kept this from me?"
"There is no other man, Ronald, and as I said before I told you about this three times already. It's not my fault you're thick as a brick."
His mouth dropped open in shock.
"How dare you!" He sputtered. "How dare you… you… stuffy little know-it-all!"
Hermione gasped, but he kept going.
"I knew you always thought I was stupid even when you didn't say anything. At least I finally know how you really feel about me."
"Don't be silly, Ronald."
"I'll be as silly as I want. It seems it's the only thing I'm good at."
"Ron, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
"That's the thing, Hermione. You did mean it. I… I don't think I want to be with someone who thinks I'm a moron."
"So, what? You're breaking up with me now?"
He shifted from one foot to the next, and measured his response.
"Maybe it's for the best. I mean you've already got this wonderful life in Venice planned without me. And I'm obviously not good enough for you. Maybe… Maybe I should just find someone who I'm at least on par with."
He was playing a very dangerous game now.
"Like who?" She growled.
"Like… Like Lavender."
She began to shake with unmitigated rage at the mere mention of "her" name.
"You would rather stay here with Lavender then be with me in Venice?" She ground out quietly.
He knew in the back of his mind that he could lose everything with one simple word, but he was just too angry to see reason.
And a second later she slapped him so hard he nearly fell to the ground.
"Goodbye Ronald, and good riddance!"
She grabbed her purse, and was gone.
The row had been one of their worst. Of course he blamed her entirely. Maybe she did bring up Venice, but she didn't even consider what he would have to leave behind. Worse yet, she thought he was dense.
It would never have become as truly horrid as it had if she hadn't said he was thick. And they might still be…
'No.' He stopped himself. 'No, you wouldn't be.'
Hermione sat at her desk leaning her head into her hands. What in the world was she going to do? Why the hell did she say 'yes'?
She sat up quickly.
"BERT!!!" She screamed. "BERTI!!!"
"What? What? What? Hermione sweetie, what is your problem?" Asked the gorgeous Italian man as he bustled into her office.
"Berti, I just agreed to be the Maid of Honour for an old girlfriend."
"Ooooh, really? Hermione, I didn't think you swung that way."
"No, you prat." She giggled slightly. "She's one of my best friends from school."
"So, what's the problem?"
"Her brother... Ron... is the Best Man."
"You mean the Ronald." He gasped. "How juicy is that?"
"No, not juicy. Not juicy at all. It's awful. I'm going to have to spend two whole weeks with the stupid git. What am I going to do?"
"Do you want my honest opinion?"
"I don't know. Am I going to like it?"
"I know several women who would."
She quirked her eyebrow curiously at him, and said. "Go on."
"I think you should go, and… How do the British say it? Shag him rotten." He beamed at his accurate use of the term.
"Oh Berti, you're such a perv. There is no chance in hell I would give that prat the satisfaction."
"Do you think he would give me the satisfaction then?" Berti said waggling his eyebrows.
"Roberto Tellini, don't you even think about it. Ron is straighter than the day is long."
"Pity." He pouted.
But Hermione's mind was spinning, a plan already forming. An absolutely evil plan. Instead, of dreading the wedding, she was going to make Ron suffer for the horrid things he'd put her through.
"Berti, could you do me a huge favour?" She asked sweetly.
"Why don't I like the sounds of this?"