Chapter Six: Smooth Moves
Two evenings later, Ron and Hermione lay in bed. Hermione was giggling helplessly at Ron's animated description of his lads' night. "I just can't believe that after an entire month of planning, you forgot to cast your own Shield."
"What can I say? I was excited. Now promise you won't laugh." Ron blushed furiously as Hermione pulled back the sheet and surveyed the perfectly smooth landscape that had once been the family jewels.
Hermione bit her lip, eyes sparkling. "Honestly, Ron, you rather had it coming."
"They started it. Harry was talking out of school and Ginny intentionally set me up. You're supposed to be on my side."
"I am on your side, but this time you really took things too far. It's fortunate you're the only one who got hurt." She lay back against the pillow and tried to reassure him. "If we found the Horcruxes, Ron, I'm certain we'll be able to find these. After all, there are only three of them, and at least we know what to look for this time. I doubt Harry'll be much help, though. He's still pretty chuffed. He's got an enormous bruise on his jaw and he despises sleeping in the bath. Not to mention that George refuses to be talked out of the new tee idea. You've really got to talk some sense into him, Ron. At least get him to leave off the tattoo."
They were silent for a long moment before Hermione spoke again, gently.
"Ron, I sometimes worry that you're trying too hard to live up to that card."
"What d'you mean?"
"Just that you don't always have to be planning something or trying so hard to prove that you're clever. We already know that you're clever. The whole wizarding world knows it, thanks to that card. But you always seem to have it your pocket or else you're sitting around staring at it. You should really just ease off of the whole Strategist Extraordinaire thing. Give it a rest. It'll be good when training starts and you don't have so much time on your hands. Not to mention that George is having a terribly naughty influence on you. If the Aurors knew even half of what you've been up to they'd never have you." Hermione softened this by slipping her hand reassuringly into his, and her next words were very gentle. "You'll never fill that void, you know."
Ron said nothing for a long while, but Hermione could hear him swallowing hard. She wondered if he was sulking or perhaps even crying and she got her answer when he managed to choke out his reply. "I can help him fill the time, though."
Sighing heavily, Ron determinedly regained his composure. "It's just that I'm accustomed to a pretty high intensity environment, Hermione. What with growing up at The Burrow, Hogwarts with you and Harry, the Hunt and everything after… I just don't want our lives to be boring. You know, anti-climactic. Anyway, Harry and Ginny know it's all in good fun. It's just what we do. Besides, Hermione, I know you. You think you like always being the cleverest person in the room, but you really only get interested when maybe you're not. It's hard work keeping a witch like you interested in a simple bloke like me." Ron's voice held just a tinge of bitterness when he quoted her. " 'Extraordinarily ordinary,' you said."
Hermione buried her face in his shoulder. "I said sorry for that speech. A hundred times sorry. I know I was ghastly, but it was just my pride talking. You're not any of that awful stuff I said." Hermione lay back against her pillow and was quiet for another long while. "That thing you said about me - that I only think I like being the most clever one in the room… You really are an incredibly perceptive man, Ron."
The smile was back in his voice. "Always the…" Hermione immediately joined in, "tone of surprise." He pulled her close. "You've really got it wrong about the card, though, Hermione."
"Well, don't get me wrong. I like it and all. Not going to lie about that. It's just that they missed the whole point, didn't they? The card's all about the troll and the Wizard Chess, the locket and the fangs. Stuff that was all just improvising, really. Not much strategy to it, you know that. But they don't even mention the important stuff. The stuff I really did plan. They just got it wrong, is all."
"I'm still not sure I understand, Ron."
Ron hung over the edge of the bed and fished around in his jeans, finally pulling out his grubby Chocolate Frog Card. He passed it to Hermione.
"Promise you won't laugh."
"I'm not laughing, Ron."
As the ink rematerialized, Hermione could see that Ron had scratched out the numbers that were printed beside each of his accomplishments. He had renumbered them and inserted his own lines.
1. Ron Weasley married Hermione Granger
Tears sprang to her eyes. She pressed her lips hard against his.
"Merlin, I love you, Ron. What's the second line for? The one that's still blank?"
"It's going to say that I fathered the most clever Weasleys the world has ever known, thanks to you. If we can find my equipment, that is."
Hermione kissed him again, longer this time, and he rolled her onto her back. Instinct took over and he ground his hips against hers. They were both startled as their two smooth mounds slid uneventfully past each other. Something was definitely lacking. Ron quickly moved off of her and stared moodily at the ceiling. After a long while, Hermione sighed and then spoke matter-of-factly.
"I'll get the beaded bag."
"I'll get the tent. But first let's make love. We don't know when we'll have a comfortable bed again."
"Shhh. I don't need them for everything, Hermajesty."
Hermione blushed to her roots. In a moment her voice drifted down, an afterthought. "Did you just call me Hermajesty?"
"Oh ... well ... " She squirmed and he held her hips more firmly. "You know … ahhhhh … in proper context … mmmm … that actually has … yes … a rather nice … gasp … ring to it ... RON ! "
C H E C K M A T E .