Chapter 1: So Kiss Me and Smile for Me
For June 1st it was surprisingly warm, Hermione thought, as she shifted the sack of parchment she was carrying on her shoulder. She trudged up the stairs of her parents London townhouse, and chastised herself for continuing to think of it as theirs instead of hers. They'd been gone a long time now, she'd redone the whole place, yet it still felt like theirs.
"The World Cup will be the death of me," Hermione grumbled as she came into the kitchen, dropping a bag full of parchment on the counter. Ron was sitting at the table, reading The Daily Prophet and drinking a cup of tea.
"Hang on," Ron said, setting his tea down. "What do you have to do with the World Cup? I thought you went to a conference today."
Hermione poured herself a cup of tea from the teapot in front of Ron. "I went to a conference on hosting the World Cup. I can't believe England's doing it again so soon."
"Soon?" Ron exclaimed. "It's been almost a decade."
Hermione took a sip of tea and promptly spit it back into the cup. "Oh, Ron, how can you drink this Lapsang Souchong stuff? It's dreadful."
Ron shrugged. "I like it."
Hermione poured the remains of her cup in the sink.
"So why are you involved in the World Cup?" Ron asked, pulling another teapot out of the cupboard.
"Practically the whole Ministry's involved."
"Still," Ron said, pouring water into the pot. "What do the Unspeakables do at a sporting event?"
Hermione rolled her neck and the joints popped loudly. "What don't we do? Come on, Ron, who do you think sets up all the non-Apparition space, all the anti-Muggle charms? It's not easy hiding a space that large for that long without anyone noticing it. It's also not easy making it so no one can Apparate into an area that large, not to mention all the Portkeys that need to be made. I'll be working on this pretty much non-stop all month."
"All month?" Ron touched his wand to the teapot to boil the water.
"That's why they called the conference. Not only are we to be on grounds for two weeks before the Cup, but we're also expected to stay through the event to make sure everything goes smoothly. No one's forgotten what happened last time England hosted the Cup."
"But Voldemort's gone now." Ron held up a couple of boxes. "What kind of tea do you want?"
"Just chamomile. I don't need any more caffeine. I'm wired enough as it is. And it doesn't matter that he's gone, the Ministry is still very nervous about it."
Ron put the tea in the pot and pushed it toward her. "So when do you leave?"
Hermione rotated a teacup in her hands, running her index finger along the gold leaf around the rim. "Tomorrow," she said softly.
"Tomorrow? And you're just telling me now?"
She looked up at him sheepishly. "I'm sorry, I thought I was going to be able to get out of staying, but one of the others, his father's dying."
Ron frowned. "Why can't you just say his name? I know you're an Unspeakable."
"It's my choice to reveal what I do to people I trust, but I can't reveal someone else."
"Fine," Ron grumbled. "So they're short by one, and now you have to stay?"
"Right," Hermione poured herself some tea. "Originally, I was going to be on call back at the Ministry. I've got a project going that no one particularly wanted me to drop, but it looks like I'll have to for the duration of the Cup."
"A whole month, though," Ron pushed his fingers through his hair and Hermione noticed it could use cutting. "That's a long time, luv."
Hermione reached into her bag and pulled out a small envelope. She slid it across the table at him. "I hope this will help make it up to you."
He took the envelope. "What's this?"
"Fourteen tickets to the match of your choice and one open pass, that's for you." She bit her bottom lip.
"I thought it might be nice for the whole family to attend a match together."
Ron leaned over and gave her a big kiss. "They'll go mad." He gave the tickets a closer look. "Hermione, these are top box tickets."
"I love you," he said, fanning out the tickets.
"Well, I love you too. That's why I got them."
Ron nodded his head. "These are so good I might have to shag you for this."
"Oh my," Hermione arched her eyebrows and smiled, "as good as all that? And I know that's such a chore for you too."
"Yes," Ron nodded, "but for tickets like these, I'll roger you good."
Hermione stood up and trailed her fingers along the table as she walked out of the room. "Thank goodness, I hate the bad sort of rogering."
"You better run," Ron said.
Hermione laughed as she took off up the stairs.