One Last Chance
by The Muskmelons
aka Solstice Muse and The Steppy One
I was waiting for Hermione to come back from her meeting with the Gringotts Goblins.
Sure, everybody expected Harry and maybe even McGonagall to be left something in the old nutter's will but for Hermione to get a mention was very weird, indeed. It also made me wonder why I was left out.
I'm always left out, unless there's a novel way to get hurt. I'm good at that.
Harry was still recuperating from the final battle in St Mungo's. We were going to have breakfast and then scoot over to say hello and see how much the Minister for Magic had pissed him off today. I did find it hard not to laugh when he showed me the proposed 'Ministry Approved' article that was to adorn the front page of the Daily Prophet today.
'Harry Potter Integral to Ministry's Defeat of You-Know-Who'
Sorry, I'm laughing again. I can't help it.
'Ronald Weasley's Lungs Integral to Body's Ability to Breathe'
Harry apparently suggested the amendment:
'Harry Potter...Succeeds Despite Idiocy of Ministry'
Hermione and I liked that one. The Minister didn't think much of it. Today's headline says something about the minister staging a press conference this afternoon but the people wanted to hear from the 'Saviour of the Wizarding World' and not some incompetent politician. The incompetent politician bit will cheer Harry up, I don't doubt. The thing about the people wanting more of Harry's soul won't do his mood swings a hell of a lot of good though.
I don't blame him, of course. It must feel awful to have a whole society feel they own you and place expectations on you all the time. It's days like this I'm glad nobody expects anything from me.
Not a body.
I looked at my watch and huffed as I realised Hermione had been an hour being remembered in Dumbledore's will.
I'm not bitter. I only took a fatal poisoning for the man.
Right, Hermione's really acting weird now.
I don't know what went on up there, but she's gone do-lally!
One minute she's happy to see me, the next she's all cool and distant. She was in and out of Gringotts a bit before telling me it was none of my business what Dumbledore left her.
Well, I can see her point. I'm only one of her very best friends. I only spent the past year sleeping rough with her and Harry while facing off against the most dangerous and powerful witches and wizards around. I'm sure if I had been called into a secret meeting inside Dumbledore's personal vault, she wouldn't have a single question to ask me.
She's the kind of girl who will cuddle you one minute and look at you like you're crap on the sole of her shoe the next.
I was ordering our teas and toasted crumpets while she hunched over something, trying to hide it behind her hair. So she wants to keep it a secret from me? That's fine. Maybe she thinks I'm not mature enough to handle having two rich best friends while I barely have enough to pay for our tea and crumpets. I've matured. I don't care if she's rich now.
Money isn't everything. I've never had it so I can happily live without it. Never had it, never miss it.
"There you go," I said as I set her tea down and made her jump.
"Oh thank you Ron," she blinked and looked into the cup with some degree of surprise. "You didn't over milk it."
"Well, I've known you long enough by now to know how you like your tea, haven't I?" I huffed as I sat down.
"I didn't say that. I just..." Hermione reigned herself in and forced a smile onto her face. "Thank you Ron. Where are the crumpets?"
"The cafe house-elves are bringing them when they're done," I waved my hand over my shoulder before realising that I'd just put my great size nine foot in it again.
"What? Too exhausting to carry two small plates of muffins over here for yourself is it?" Hermione said, looking greatly affronted.
"They told me to take a seat, I didn't ask!" I protested, defensively.
"I bet you put up a real fight on the house-elves' behalf, didn't you?" she said with a sarcastic expression on her face.
"Oh bloody hell, Hermione," I said, rather too loudly I admit. "It isn't as if I asked them to weave me a napkin out of strands of gold. I asked for crumpet and they told me to sit down!"
A couple of young witches sitting at a corner table began to giggle into their frothy coffees. I looked at them as if they were off their rockers. It always makes me uneasy to hear a pair of witches giggling in the same way Lavender and Parvati used to do.
"Thank you, Ronald," Hermione said, her tones clipped, "make it sound like you think you're in a brothel, why don't you?"
"Well, I don't know what Dumbledore left you in his will but I'm damned sure it wasn't his chilled-out personality!" I huffed just as a house-elf appeared with our crumpets and bowed low to the ground before placing them on the table and shuffling away, still in the bowing position.
"No, don't leave," Hermione called after the elf, who immediately sprang upright and bounced over to attend to Hermione's request. "Here," she said happily as she pulled a silver Sickle out of her pocket and held it out to the elf, "this is for your trouble."
"Oh no, Miss," the horrified elf said, backing away from the coin as if fearing it would turn them to stone at the merest touch. "I is not wanting payment. Your pleasure at my work is payment enough."
"But I will get pleasure to know you received fair payment for your hard work," Hermione persisted.
"Is not hard to serve kind missus and misters like yous twos. Payment is an insult. I won't disgrace myself with taking your moneys, Miss."
"Give it a rest, Hermione," I said wearily, casting the poor distressed elf a pitying look.
The petrified thing almost clung to my leg when it saw I wasn't with Hermione on the payment idea.
"Things will never change unless we persevere," she said fiercely before straightening up and saying haughtily. "I order you to take this money from me and use it for yourself."
The elf looked ready to vomit.
"That's abuse that is!" I found myself declaring. "You're abusing the obedience of this poor little...what's your name?"
"I is Grottle sir," the house-elf said, looking at me as if I was his salvation.
"Grottle here doesn't care if you've just inherited a fortune and want to show it off in front of us lesser mortals. Leave the poor sod alone!"
Yeah, I know that was out of order. I know she didn't mean anything nasty by what she was trying to do. I don't have a problem with her windfall, I really don't, and I felt like shit to see her face fall and her eyes shine as if I'd just beheaded Crookshanks for larks. I was a git but she really doesn't help matters when she gets all difficult and 'always right-y'.
I am also aware that 'always right-y' isn't a real expression...and I don't care.
"How dare...How could you say...?" Hermione was almost speechless.
Almost speechless is never good. The almost side of that state of shock only reminds you that the speech is indeed coming and you will soon be reduced to nothing more than a heartless, selfish, self-pitying git.
I saw her coming back to herself and sat back, resigned to my well-deserved ear-bashing.
"I know you are sensitive about your financial situation, Ronald, but that was an awful thing to say to me, and in public too!"
I looked at the house-elf. He looked like he felt sorry for me while being somewhat pleased that Hermione was no longer focused upon him at all. I shrugged; Grottle shrugged back.
"...aren't even listening to me are you?"
"I agree with you completely, Hermione. Money isn't everything and I am eternally wrong while you are all things right and not at all moody and unpredictable this morning."
Oh that did it. She was going to blow.
"What on earth is that supposed to mean?" she demanded.
"I'm sorry," I said edgily.
"For what?" Hermione said, clenching her jaw.
"For...everything...ever!" I said, trying not to sound as if I was deliberately winding her up.
"Ron, you have been acting strange ever since I came out of that meeting at Gringotts. What has got into you?" Hermione demanded.
My fault. This is now my fault. Her mood swings are all my fault. The plight of the house-elves is my fault. The fact that those giggling witches were giggling even more was all my fault. There were only two ways to go: continue arguing with her until we reached out usual explosive finale and ruined Harry's no doubt already stress-filled day, or show her how it feels to have somebody run hot and cold with you.
I taught her a lesson.
I leaned over the table, crumpet pressing against my jumper and smearing butter all over it, and put my hand around the back of her head. Just as she opened her mouth in shock, I clamped my own over hers and kissed her.
She didn't do a hell of a lot of kissing back. Well, not for the first little lunges of my tongue. Then she began to join in a bit. By that time, I needed to take a breath so I broke the kiss and gasped for air.
"I really like you, too..." I said with a sincere nod.
Then her eyes looked betrayed and she shoved me away.
"You think that's funny, do you?" she said, refusing to meet my eyes any more, "Contrary to popular myth, when a woman tells you you're an insufferable prat it sometimes simply means you are an insufferable prat!"
I flung myself back in my chair and gave up on a bad job. The house-elf was going for a discreet escape. If I was in the doghouse, then that little bastard was coming with me.
"Oi, you," I called out to Grottle, "get back here and take her bloody money. Us lesser beings should be grateful when the important people in this world throw us a scrap of hope from time to time."
Hermione glared at me. I gestured for Grottle to come back and he reluctantly scampered back to cower at my chair.
"Y'see, I have no money to force upon you for the sake of my own ego, Grotty, and I don't have a high enough opinion of myself to preach to you until you rip off your own feet just so you have something to stuff into your ears, but I do have the ability to love," I said with so much sarcasm I shocked even myself. "So dear tormented house-elf, in exchange for you bringing me a toasted crumpet on a plate, I hereby adopt you as my son and I christen you...Ron Junior!"
Grottle looked as if his head was about to explode. Hermione looked as if she wanted mine to explode with it.
"I was going to confide what Dumbledore left to me with you in private but seeing as all you care about is money and humiliating me in public, you can take your crumpet and shove i-"
"Sir and Miss, please!" Grottle screeched as he jumped up onto the table, beating himself on the head with his hands. "Grottle is sorry if he did wrong and caused the nasty shouting. Grottle is punishing himself. See Grottle punished Sir? Miss?"
Hermione rose from her chair and stared down at me as if I was a total stranger to her.
"Sometimes you make it impossible to be your friend, Ronald Weasley."
I watched her march off and fought the urge to throw the buttered crumpets at the stupid giggling witches behind me.
A/N This chapter and all chapters from Ron's POV are written by Solstice Muse. The chapters written in Hermione's POV (as the next one will be) are written by The Steppy One.
You can visit her profile on this site (she is under favourite authors on my profile) and leave her PMs as reviews for her chapters if you choose but be assured that I will pass on all reviews left to her chapters to her. We agreed that this be posted under my pen name as I have the higher number of people with me on alert.
Thanks to Deena for betaing this fic.