A/N: Hey guys! Just so you know, if anyone is following my other HP fanfic, Nineteen Years (or would like to start reading it) this one-shot will become chapter 5 of my story! (Sorry for the spoiler! But now you have something to look forward to! Hahaha.) I just had so much fun writing it, that I thought it'd be nice to also publish it as a stand-alone story

Popping the Question…

Ron's fork swirled his mashed potatoes around his plate lazily along with the rest of his untouched meal. The others at the crowded dinner table went about their regular conversation, barely noticing Ron's unease. Hermione, however, who sat at his side, placed a hand lovingly on his shoulder.

"Ron, are you alright?" she muttered, concerned. "You've hardly eaten a thing!"

He smiled at her unconvincingly. "I'm fine, really… Nothing to worry about!" Ron's voice shook slightly as he spoke.

His best friend, who sat at his other side, coughed softly. Ron felt Harry's leg nudge his under the table.

"Oh! Um… actually," Ron said slowly, biting his lip nervously. "I think I'll go outside for some fresh air… Would you, uh… like to…come with me…?"

Hermione's eyebrows pulled together in confusion. "It's Christmas Eve, Ron!" She glanced out the kitchen window briefly. "And it's still snowing!"

"Uh… well…" Ron glanced briefly at Harry, pleadingly.

"You know, Hermione… Ron does look a little, uh… off-color. I'm sure a nice walk outside is exactly what he needs." Harry said as casually as he could. "Especially if you come with him." He added.

"Well… I suppose." Hermione replied, still a little suspicious. "It's not terribly cold out, and the snow looks beautiful…"

"Great!" Ron cried with too much enthusiasm. Harry shot him a look. "Uh… I mean, let's go." He reached down to grasp Hermione's hand, entwining his fingers with hers.

The conversation began to die down as the two rose from the table. Several pairs of eyes followed them as they headed toward the coat rack at the far end of the room. "We'll be back in a few minutes." Ron muttered to no one in particular. Without another word he pulled on his scarf and led Hermione out the front door.

The moment the door had closed, Mrs. Weasley leapt up from the table, unable to contain her excitement. "Do you think he's going to ask her?"

"Of course not, mum! Ronnie just fancied a private stroll through the falling snow with his girlfriend for no reason at all…" George laughed heartily.

Mr. Weasley stood and peered out through the foggy windowpane.

"Can you see them, Arthur?" Mrs. Weasley asked at her husband's side.

"Just barely, dear..."

Ginny leaned across the table toward her brother, grinning. "George, did you bring the Extendable Ears?"

"Just two… sorry." He pulled the thin, flesh-colored strings from his pocket. "I didn't realize this would turn into a group activity."

"I suppose we'll just have to share," Harry muttered, slightly ashamed of himself for wanting to spy on such a private moment between his two best friends.

Fleur smiled widely at Bill, who cradled their infant daughter, Victoire, in his arms. "Thees eez so exciting! Your baby brozzer eez growing up so fast!"

Before he could reply, Bill and the others were called toward the window by Mrs. Weasley, who had set up the Extendable Ears. "Hurry!" She said softly. "We might be missing it!"

Percy rolled his eyes. "This is ridiculous; a total invasion of privacy…" He muttered, though he rose from his chair with the rest of the family.

Ginny shushed him as she and the others formed two small clusters around the magical devices and listened closely to the conversation outside.

XXX

Ron and Hermione walked in silence toward the edge of the Weasley's large garden where Ron finally brought them to a stop. He stood for several moments without speaking, staring off into the trees.

So much for a walk… Hermione thought, confused. "Ron, will you please tell me what's wrong? You're scaring me!" She lifted her hand and placed it against his cheek gently.

He turned to face her slowly, his heart beginning to race. "Hermione," he said finally. "There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about… You see, I--"

"Is this about the other day when you accidentally blew up the vacuum and nearly destroyed the entire living room?" Hermione cut him off. "Because I've already told you, I forgive you! Besides, it was my own fault for letting you fool around with Muggle appliances…" She sighed softly.

Ron shook his head impatiently. "No, no… it's not that, it's, well… about us."

"Us? What do you mean, 'us'?" Hermione paused a moment, thinking. Then the realization suddenly hit her. "Oh God… you're breaking up with me! I knew it!" And without warning, she burst into tears.

"What? No! No, no, no, no, no!" Frantic, Ron grabbed her by the shoulders, trying to make her look at him. "That's not it at all!"

"Don't lie to me!" She cried, suddenly angry. "Why else would you have been acting so strangely? Why couldn't you just come out and say it?!"

"Will you just listen to me for one second?" Ron pressed his fists against his temples, frustrated. "Ugh! You're always like this!"

"Like what?!"

"THIS! You put words in my mouth, you won't let me finish a sentence… Why won't you listen to me?!"

"Oh, so I'm a loudmouth now?"

"See?! You're doing it again! What is wrong with you women?

"I don't know Ronald, why don't you tell me? You seem to think you know everything!"

XXX

"Oh no…" Mr. Weasley shook his head sadly. "It doesn't seem to be going very well, does it?"

"Are they actually… fighting?" Percy asked, confused.

"Of course they are… this is Ron and Hermione we're talking about!" Harry chuckled as he spoke.

"They're always like this – all over each other one moment, at each other's throats the next… They won't be arguing for long." Ginny assured him.

"Shhh! This is getting good!" Bill grinned evilly, earning a look of disapproval from Fleur. "Sorry…" He muttered with an innocent smile.

XXX

"Hermione, please! I'm not breaking up with you… I love you!" Ron cried desperately.

She rolled her eyes in reply. "Then why are you yelling at me like this?"

"Because you jumped to conclusions and started screaming at me!"

"Oh, so now this is all my fault!"

Ron shook his head, unable to believe that his perfect plan had gone so wrong. He had reached his wits' end. "Look, Hermione. Yell at me all you want… I don't care!" As he spoke, he thrust his hand into his pocket. "All I wanted was to give you THIS!"

He whipped the sparkling engagement ring from his pocket and practically shoved it in her face. Hermione barely had a moment to realize what he was showing her before the force of the gesture caused it to slip from his fingers and fly several feet over Hermione's shoulder, landing out of sight in the deep snow.

"NO!" Hermione screamed as she watched the gorgeous ring disappear into the blanket of white.

They stood, staring at each other in shocked silence for a brief moment before the front door of the house burst open.

"You said no?!" Mrs. Weasley cried, beside herself. "How could you turn down my little Ronnie?"

"Yeah, Hermione…" Ginny added as she and the rest of the family emerged from behind Mrs. Weasley. "I mean, I know he can be a real idiot sometimes, but—"

"No, it's not that!" Hermione shook her head frantically as her tears continued to fall. "It's the ring!"

"What's wrong with it?" George asked, puzzled. "Is his taste really that bad?"

"Oh, zee ring! I 'ave not zeen it!" Fleur said, suddenly excited.

Ron opened his mouth to explain, but stopped himself. "Wait a minute… you were spying on us?"

George hastily shoved the Extendable Ears back into his pocket, but his brother did not miss it.

"Well, it wasn't exactly spying…" Mr. Weasley shrugged innocently at his son and potential daughter-in-law.

"I knew this would happen, that's why I was keeping it a secret! The only person I told was Harry and he promised he'd – Oh no. Harry, you didn't!"

His friend grinned sheepishly at the accusation. "Just Ginny!"

Ron's eyes darted toward his sister, who bit her lip.

"Well… I may have said something to mum…"

"You told mum?! I can't believe you!"

Hermione cut in, frantic. "Hate to break up this little family chat, but we've got a bigger problem here…"

Ron's eyes widened. "She's right! The ring!"

Bill finally emerged from the house after putting his daughter in her crib. "What's wrong with the ring?" He asked, feeling as though he had missed something. "Is that why she said no?"

"No, no… it's gone!" Hermione burst. She pointed into the moonlit patch of snow behind her. "Somewhere over there!"

"Why didn't you say so in the first place? We've got to find it!" Mrs. Weasley gasped.

In an instant, ten illuminated wands began combing over the snow, searching frantically for some sign of the ring.

"Does anyone see it?"Ginny muttered anxiously.

"Nothing over here…" George shook his head. "Maybe it went farther than you thought."

"I'll check over there." Harry gestured toward the garden shed with his wand.

The search continued for a few more minutes until Hermione signaled for everyone to stop. "What on earth are we doing?" She asked, amused by their foolishness. "Why not use a Summoning charm?"

"Wait, Hermione! I wouldn't do that – " Mr. Weasley tried to stop her, but it was too late.

"Accio ring!" She cried, pointing her wand in the general area of the tool shed.

There was a slight stirring beneath the snow before the ring finally broke through and began soaring toward Hermione's outstretched hand. But it was barely a foot off the ground when a shrill, high-pitched voice cried "Whee!" and a tiny object resembling a potato collided with the ring head-on and plucked it out of thin air, clutching it in its tiny, grimy hands.

"Stop him!" Ron shouted, making a lunge for the tiny creature.

The gnome was weaving in and out between everyone's legs, making its way toward a tiny hole in the garden wall.

Mr. Weasley shook his head sadly as he joined the chase, shouting over the commotion. "Those little critters have got top-notch reflexes and an unusual fondness for shiny objects… would have been better to keep searching the old fashioned way."

"Not helping, Arthur!" Mrs. Weasley cried as she began throwing stunning spells at the creature.

"Be careful, mum!" Ron shouted as he lifted himself from the snowy ground for a second time. "I spent an arm and a leg on that thing!"

"Wait, I think they've got him!" The others' heads snapped up at Percy's cry.

George, Ginny, Harry and Fleur had the tiny gnome pinned against the side of the garden shed.

"Quick, someone do something!" Hermione ran forward desperately.

"Here, catch!" Bill seized a large object from inside the shed and threw it to Harry.

The shovel came down with a heavy thud on the gnome's misshapen head. It was knocked out cold.

"Nice one!" George clapped Harry on the back and bent forward to retrieve the ring. He examined it briefly. "Hmm… nice one, little bro!"

"Thanks!" Ron smiled as his brother handed him the ring. It was still intact, but covered in muck from the gnome's filthy hands. "Scourgify!" Ron muttered, tapping it quickly with his wand. The mud vanished instantly and the ring once again sparkled. He let out a sigh of relief.

No one spoke for a moment. It was Hermione who finally broke the silence. She cleared her throat softly. "So Ron… there was something you wanted to, uh… ask me?" Hermione smiled knowingly at him.

He looked around at the rest of the family, who had formed somewhat of a circle around the couple. "So much for doing this in private…" he muttered. Slightly embarrassed by the watchful eyes of his family, Ron turned toward the woman he loved and held her hands in his. "Hermione… what I wanted to tell you tonight is that I love you. I've always loved you. And, well… I might be kind of an idiot sometimes, but I promise I won't ever stoploving you." He paused, touched by the tears he saw glistening in Hermione's eyes.

Feeling like a character from a cheesy romance novel, he dropped down onto one knee in the cold, wet snow and held out the beautiful ring. He could feel the blood rushing to his cheeks. "So… I guess what I want to know is…" Ron struggled to find the right words without sounding corny. "Will you, uh… marry… Wait, no." He paused. "What I mean is, Will you be my…" He shook his head, searching for the right thing to say. Words like marry and wife were too cliché and did nothing to express just how much he wanted to share with her.

He opened his mouth to try a third time but Hermione's laugh cut him off. "Can I just say 'yes'?" She asked, smiling.

Ron nodded vigorously. "Please."

"Alright… Then yes…"

He slipped the shimmering ring onto her finger and stood slowly, unable to wipe the grin off his face. Hermione threw her arms around his neck.

"I'm so happy… I love you so much." She whispered, pulling away from him to press her lips softly against his.

The moment they broke apart, Mrs. Weasley let out a cry of delight and raced forward, pulling Hermione into a bone-crushing hug. "Welcome to the family, dear! Oh, this is wonderful!" She gushed.

There were hugs, handshakes, and congratulations all around. It was the happiest Ron had felt in a long time. Eager to get out of the cold, they all went back inside and, after drying off and warming up, everyone returned to the table for desert.

"I can't wait to call mum and dad!" Hermione smiled, admiring her ring yet again.

Percy laughed. "Yeah, and I can't wait to write to Charlie… he'll be sorry he missed this one."

Ron patted Harry's shoulder with a smile. "Thanks for helping me pick the ring, mate… it's perfect!"

"Aha! I knew you could never pick out anything like this on your own!" Hermione laughed at her new fiancé teasingly. "I'm so glad you were there to make sure he didn't choose something dreadful, Harry."

Her friend shrugged, smiling. "It's the least I could do."

"Hey! For your information I chose that one all by myself!" Ron cut in hotly.

Harry chuckled under his breath. "Yeah, after I talked you out of three hideous ones…"

Ron punched his friend's shoulder jokingly and laughed. "Well I'm still grateful… remind me to return the favor sometime…" Realizing what he had said, Ron leaned forward to glance at his sister nervously. "Uh… but not for a while." He added quickly. "Right?"

Ginny laughed brightly, holding Harry's hand. "Well, not yet, at least."

"And don't worry," Harry whispered softly in Ginny's ear. "When the time comes, I'll make sure no one tells your mother!"

THE END

A/N: Hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it! PLEASE review!