A/N This is a slightly censored version. If you want the uncut smut you can follow a link to my fic journal on my profile.
Unaccustomed As I Am
"They say that only fifty percent of what you say is heard, anyway, and if the other fifty percent of conversation is non-verbal, why bother saying anything? Nobody's listening."
"Ron was trying to figure out the maximum length of time a Digestive biscuit could be held in a cup of hot tea before it crumbled and fell to the bottom of the cup, while Harry was attempting to speak to a slowworm despite having lost his Parselmouth abilities in his defeat of Voldemort.
"I said, only fifty percent is heard anyway, right guys?"
Harry huffed and went back to his Parsletongue translation book and tried to understand how Hassssssstheathhhhhhhhsssssselathhhhhhhhhathaaaaaaaa was written phonetically as Ssssssss. Ron pulled the Digestive up and moved in quickly to catch it in his mouth as it fell, missed it, and caught it directly in his lap.
He jumped up and batted the hot soggy biscuit off his trousers while Harry laughed and Dean Thomas looked from one of them to the other before angrily slamming closed his book on communication skills.
"I don't know why I bother," he muttered.
"Because you know that nobody else knows you well enough to know that the best counter-argument to your waffle was pretending you hadn't spoken at all." Harry explained as he closed his own book and stared at the shoelace sized snake.
"Want to try again?" Ron asked him, smirking slightly.
"You're just a gifted mimic, you aren't actually speaking it. You only know one phrase!" Harry grumbled and folded his arms across his chest.
"But it's such a useful phrase," Ron said as he reached across the L-shaped desk and picked up the slowworm, letting it drape gracefully between his long fingers as he moved the head towards his face, "and you'd do anything for me wouldn't you? Yes you would. Oh yes you would, and why would you? Is it because my hands are warm and soft, not rough and cold like that bossy Harry? Is it that? Is it?"
Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"You baby talk that thing one more time and I'll-" Harry didn't get to finish his threat because Ron and the slowworm were staring at each other and Ron moved his head from side to side, followed by the thin head of the creature that was now laced in and out of Ron's fingers like a reed woven between graceful willow branches.
"You're waiting for me to talk to you, aren't you?" Ron said to the mesmerised slowworm. "Ethhhhsthaaaaa phuaaaaaaaaaii messsaaneeathhhhh."
Ron then lowered his hand to the drawer of his desk and pointed to the keyhole. The slowworm slithered in and Ron looked to the others and grinned, smugly.
"So you got it to crawl into a locked drawer," Harry said, sceptically, "ingenious!"
The drawer clicked and then Ron cleared his throat and opened the drawer, reached inside, and lifted the slowworm out.
"You..." Dean gaped at him. "You trained him to pick locks?"
Harry sat forward and looked from drawer to slowworm to smug Ron and back to the medusa head-like hand of his best friend once again.
"Right, that's it, you're presenting this thing and I'm standing at the back changing the slides!"
Ron's face fell and Dean's lit up.
"That's a brilliant idea!"
"That is not a brilliant idea. That is the least brilliant idea since Alistair Peacock, winner of useless invention of the year every year for the last two decades, came up with the idea of one player, portable Russian roulette games…for kids!"
Ron was managing to become pale and flushed at the same time and Harry hurriedly poured him a glass of water, which Ron took and promptly threw into his bespectacled face.
"Get a grip on yourself man!" Ron snapped as he jumped to his feet. "People want to see the big star, the famous name, the scar, and the specs. People don't want to see the…the…the me. Who's gonna listen to me?"
"Hermione does," both Harry and Dean said, with self satisfied grins.
"Don't you dare tell her about this," Ron's anger was falling into panic now, "she'll make me do it. She's all believe-y in me and she won't listen to the facts."
"Ron," Harry said as he sat back in his chair, "I'll make the announcement. You're doing the presentation to the qualifying trainee Aurors on their last day and Dean is going to put your face on all the posters for a change."
"I'm not doing it, I'm the slide changing person in the background who shuts up hecklers and tells people off for asking stupid questions. I'm not a… I can't tell people how to be a good Auror, it'll make me sound full of myself."
"You'll have to do it, mate," Dean said with a shrug of apology before pointing over Ron's shoulder to the open doorway to Harry and Ron's shared office.
Ron was already cringing as he turned around and saw his wife standing behind him with an excited look on her face.
"Oh Ron, this is fantastic, you can practice your speech on me!"
Ron turned back to Harry and hissed, in a way you didn't have to be a Parselmouth to understand, "I hate you, Harry Potter!"
Ron was following Hermione around as she selected a bottle of wine, wandered from the kitchen to the living room to pluck two glasses out of the cabinet, and then back to the kitchen to set them down on the table.
"But this isn't like a briefing, Hermione," Ron flapped as he hovered around her while she rummaged through kitchen drawers, "it's not in a little room in front of a map. I can stand in front of a map and tell people what to do on a mission, but this is me standing in a massive room in front of meaningful slides telling hundreds of people what to do with their lives and careers!"
Hermione closed a drawer and turned to put her hand on his cheek, smile, and kiss him on the lips, before continuing with her search.
"Don't exaggerate, love, there aren't even a hundred Aurors passing out at the ceremony this year."
"They will be passing out," Ron snorted, "quite literally, if I give them words of wisdom to embark on their careers with. Loads of them, and all their families who all begged for invites so they could sit and listen to the great Harry Potter speak, and what are they gonna get?"
"The great Ron Weasley?" Hermione closed another drawer and turned to look around the kitchen with a frown.
"The great disappointment. The huge question mark that will rise up out of the building and hover over it like a Dark Mark. Only it won't be, You-Know-Who killed here, it'll be, Who-the-Fuck-Are-You died on his arse here!"
"I've warned you about this," Hermione said, still skimming her eyes across the kitchen in an attempt to pinpoint the last location of the object she was looking for, "I won't stand for you putting yourself down. What do I always tell you?"
"If I put me down then I put you down for being stupid enough to love me," Ron mumbled into his chest.
"Yes that, without the stupid enough part. I never said that." Hermione said, distractedly.
Ron lost his patience and moved to stand in front of her, grumpily.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, woman, what are you looking for?"
"The corkscrew," Hermione said, thoughtfully, "it's no good, I'll have to use a summoning charm and hope it doesn't have one of our eyes out as it flies through the-"
Ron slid open the drawer behind her and pulled the corkscrew out.
"Well who put that there?" Hermione said, outraged.
Ron reached behind her again and withdrew a small paper note which read, 'All non-cutlery items to go in here' in her handwriting.
Hermione looked a little put out before setting about the bottle with the corkscrew.
"Anyway, about your presentation speech."
"There isn't going to be a presentation speech. I'll lose my bottle like before a Quidditch game and Harry'll take over for me out of pity. Then everybody will think the announcement and posters were just a joke so Harry's presentation would be a surprise."
Hermione banged the bottle down and turned on him furiously.
"I cared so much about what you thought of me that I didn't sleep for hours because you were holding my hand." She was struggling not to raise her voice, Ron could tell, as he recoiled from her anger and frustration with him. "I'd held Harry's hand before and it was nothing, but holding your hand was a big deal because it was your hand, Ron's hand!"
"Hermione, I'm not sure what you're getting at."
She thrust the bottle, corkscrew halfway in, into his chest and stomped past him to the living room.
"Open that, pour the wine, and think back to the first time we held hands as more than friends and then tell me you're a joke!"
They lay side by side on the floor. She was slightly raised up on cushions, while his sleeping bag was all that padded his body against the floorboards.
They had looked at each other for a moment, silently, and he didn't seem to know what to do, if he should do anything at all, if she was waiting for him to say something. She had enjoyed his newfound attentiveness. He was obviously trying to make up for all the times over the years he forgot she was a girl and put his foot in it. While being cuddled when she was upset or being asked to dance was a lovely change to their usual routine, she liked to see this look him his eyes.
There wasn't a plan for this situation and she liked his behaviour to be natural and spontaneous, even if it did infuriate her at times. He was her infuriating but open book to read, and lately it had felt as if she'd been reading a different book.
"G'night," Ron whispered as he rolled onto his side, facing her.
"Night, night," Hermione whispered back as she settled on her stomach, pulled the pillow beneath her head, and stifled a gasp as Ron reached forward and slipped his large hand inside hers.
He must have seen the look of surprise on her face and thought that he was wrong to stray away from the plan and follow his instinct, because he snatched his hand away again and mumbled an apology. He closed his eyes out of embarrassment, trying to force sleep upon himself.
She lay beside him, looking down at his face and the deep crinkle between his eyebrows, and reached across to his sleeping bag. She pulled it away from under his chin and his eyelid cracked open a little.
"Do you mind?" She whispered as she pulled his hand towards her and squeezed it tightly. "I like knowing you're there when I close my eyes."
He smiled at her and squeezed her hand back, the crinkle left his forehead and he closed his eyes again. Hermione slept well that night, and soon found that she couldn't abide going to bed without Ron at her side.
"But you have to love me, you're insane," Ron said with a self-pitying smile. "These people and their families don't know me. They don't like me. They won't find my...they won't be as forgiving as you if I'm a bit crap."
"You really don't know do you?" Hermione said as she set her wine glass down and took his hand with both of hers.
"What have I missed now?" Ron sighed.
"The way those young trainees look up to you. You might not tell me about boring day to day stuff, but Harry does and I know just how much they respect you and how great you are with them."
Ron took a deep gulp from his glass and looked doubtful.
"I'm not a leader, I'm one of them, I shouldn't be up there like I'm better tha-" He was silenced by her finger to his lips.
"Think about what you're doing, isn't that what you tell them? Think, Ron, you know you can do this."
The training exercise was a tough one and every team had been caught out along the way. Harry had to hand-hold his group through clumsy mistakes, spelling everything out to them until they averted disaster and became the first team to pass the test.
Ron's team was the last to go and he was feeling the pressure. He always took his team's failures to be his own, blaming his ability as a teacher for their mistakes, and he led them into the task feeling that they would inevitably fall flat.
In his mind he told himself that if they were to fail the test then they would fail after trying their very hardest and using the very best of their abilities.
"Think about what you're doing," Ron said as he grabbed the outstretched hand and forcibly paused the young trainee in his tracks.
"I shouldn't touch it?" he asked him.
"I said, think about what you're doing," Ron said as he released the hand and stepped back.
The young wizard stepped back and looked at the key in the locked trunk. He crouched before it and examined it before walking around the trunk to look at it from all sides. When he stood up again and turned to Ron he still didn't see a problem.
"I think I should open it."
Ron nodded at him.
"You thought about it, that's okay."
"So I'm right?" the man said, face lighting up.
"I'm not telling you that, I'm just telling you to think."
The trainee Auror looked confused.
"I won't be there," Ron said, simply, "when this is for real, you're on your own."
The wizard bit his lip, looked at the clock, and huffed that his time was running out.
"I still think I need to open that trunk."
"Good, keep thinking."
The young man crouched before the key in the lock again, and concentrated before blinking and pointing his wand at the key.
"Why leave the key in there?"
"It's a big deal that I don't get what I want so they left the key in there?" He pressed his body flat down to take a good look into the keyhole. "Magical locks don't need keys at all. But an important thing like this wouldn't just open with a simple spell."
"Think about what you'd do if you wanted to access something quickly but want to trick anybody else trying to get inside." Ron turned and walked away to see how the perimeter group were holding up.
The wizard tapped his wand against the palm of his hand and focused on how to quickly open something that was difficult to open.
"Thirty seconds left," Ron called out before leaning towards a witch who was sealing up all the windows with bricks. "What happens when it gets dark in your house, Denise?"
"Oh shit!" the witch said as she spun around and deactivated the candles from igniting, magically, and then saw the spider thread thin rope stretched over one of the wicks and connected to a bowl of explosive powder hanging above the fireplace.
"Twenty seconds, everyone, white flag or what?" Ron called, clapping his hands.
"Got it!" The young wizard yelled as he flicked his wand at the key. "Accio key!"
The key flew out of the lock and he caught it in his left hand. Then he pointed the wand at the lock again.
"Alohomora!" he said, the trunk flipped open obediently, and the trainee grabbed the object out with the hem of his robe in case it was cursed before calling to the others. "We've got it, everybody Disapparate!"
"Four...three...two..." Ron counted down as everybody vanished from the room with cracks.
The witch who had almost blown them all up flicked her wand at the candles, reactivating the charm, and then bricked up the last window before winking at Ron and Disapparating herself.
The room was dark, the candles lit, and the bowl of powder fell.
"One," Ron said before catching the bowl with one hand and grinning to himself.
The room righted itself again and Harry stood outside the window and applauded Ron, while outside the trainees congratulated the celebrating team.
"You trusted him to work it out," Harry said in awe, "I had to stand over my group leader and spell it out to him."
Ron dipped his finger in the powder and then sucked it off with a grin.
"It was an exercise," Ron said, deflating, "this time if they take a chance and it doesn't work a whole team dies. They don't fail, they die!"
"Isn't this what your speech should cover?" Hermione asked. "I mean, remember Harry's speech to recruit the DA members? He didn't sugar coat it and people still joined us."
"Because he's Harry," Ron said, glumly. "You know I love that you think I'm something special but that's what makes you special. You see things nobody else sees. Nobody else sees me as anything but Harry's right hand."
"Harry's right handed, a right hand is very important," Hermione said before taking Ron's glass from him and setting it beside hers, the rims clinking as they touched, and she pulled his face closer to hers. "I'll be very disappointed if you back out of this."
Ron's look was a mixture of imploring for mercy and righteous anger at the 'disappointment' card being played.
"That's manipulative," Ron said as Hermione brushed a kiss against his tight lips.
"I know, but sometimes you need it," she said, her breath stroking his face as she leaned in and gave him another sensuous peck on the lips, "and I need you to see just how many people see what I see in you."
"But," Ron couldn't finish; yet again Hermione forcibly stopped him from spiralling into a diatribe of antipathy against himself with a deep kiss.
Ron gave a grunt of frustration before huffing into her face through his nose. He gave up on resisting her and curled his arms around her, closing his eyes and opening his mouth to lose himself in the kiss. She tasted different because of the dry white wine. Her fingers wove through his hair and he pulled her onto his lap, where she fitted perfectly and straddled him almost possessively.
"I'll try not to do this anymore," Ron said, pausing to lick his lips and change the angle of his head. "I know you don't like it when I put myself down."
Hermione tilted her head to the other side and slid her hand to the back of his head, holding him into the next intense kiss, and she hummed into his mouth with a smile as she felt his hands resting on her waist.
"You know what I want?" Hermione broke the kiss to pant into his mouth and fix his eyes with hers.
"You want me to be-"
"Wrong!" She cut him off.
"You want me to never finish a sentence again?" Ron offered with a cheeky shrug.
Hermione laughed and hugged him tightly.
"What I want is for you to feel about yourself the way you feel about me," she said, firmly. "I don't want you to be anything else. I want you as you are right now, perfect."
"People think I'm plain and a boring nag with nothing better to do than stick my nose into other people's business," she said, knowing instantly what Ron's reaction to this would be.
"You help people for a living! You dedicate your time to making lives better and doing the right thing and treating people and creatures fairly." Ron began his rant in defence of his wife before realising he'd been tricked. "On top of that you have a husband at home to drive insane on a regular basis!"
She laughed and kissed him again before nestling into his side and slotting her head in the crook of his neck. She brought her legs up so she could curl into his side and wrapped both arms around his long body.
"You could give a speech about me and I'm not perfect. Why can't you believe in yourself the same way?"
Ron looked down at the arm of the sofa and picked at it with his finger and thumb. Hermione knew not to push too hard. She squeezed him in her arms, gently, and then rubbed her hand up and down his thigh.
"Could you pass me my glass please?"
Ron leaned forward and picked up her wine glass. As he sat back he moved his arm from her side and started playing with her bushy hair between his fingers.
"I'm going to let this drop for now, okay?" She said to him, unable to stand his mood taking such a downward turn.
"Don't go closing any doors on yourself yet though, will you?"
He shook his head.
Ron smiled and looked at her at last.
"Promise," he said before kissing the top of her head and relaxing again.
Two bottles of wine and some tossing and turning later, Ron finally fell into a troubled sleep in bed with Hermione.
She'd nuzzled into his side and curled her arms around him, never getting annoyed or rolling away when Ron changed position with a huff; soon Ron took up the whole bed and Hermione simply curled into the space at his side.
It was as if he had been made so tall and thin, and she so small and shapely, so that they could fit well together in any position. Her head upon his chest and her leg between his thighs, they settled and slept for an hour before an old dream began stirring Ron.
Hermione's hand stroked up the tender skin inside his thigh; Ron twisted towards her touch and moved his hands over her shoulders to pull her towards him.
"Slowly," Hermione gasped into their kiss, "I told you, I want to go very slow tonight."
"Why?" Ron groaned as he slid his hands down her back and squeezed her buttocks. "I want you now." He kissed her again and pulled her groin towards his own. "I want you, I can't wait."
Hermione drew in a breath that seemed to give her resolve against his seduction.
"But you look so good before you come," she leaned down and kissed his chest, "when you're turned on," her mouth moved across to one of his nipples and flicked at it with her tongue, "and you last so very long when we do this."
Ron made a throaty sound and ground his hips up against her, his hands slipping around to cradle her pelvis and try to direct her down onto him.
"We'll go again, and again, and again...I'll go all night," he vowed; voice husky.
"I want to go again, and again, and again before you even get started." Hermione kissed Ron's neck and pressed her body flat against his.
Ron whimpered with bliss as she crushed her breasts against his chest and nibbled his earlobe.
"You're such a tease."
"You're so easy to tease." Hermione laughed against his skin.
"We'll play later, I need to..."
"You're going to feel good for so long," she purred as she lifted one of his splayed arms towards the bedpost, in doing so pressing herself down hard onto Ron's groin.
"Oh God!" Ron exclaimed at the sensation.
"Do you trust me?" She asked him, hesitating as she held his arm by the wrist.
"Uh-huh," Ron just about managed to nod through his gasps of arousal.
"No Ron, look at me," she said firmly, waiting for him to swallow and force his eyes open to look up at her and what she was doing, "you know I won't just do this when you're insensible. Do you trust me?"
He took a deep breath in and nodded.
"Always, quickly though, I think I'm going to hyperventilate!" he said through rapid breaths.
Hermione smiled and pulled away one of the ties from the bed hangings, wound it around his wrist, and then securely around the bedpost. She tightened her muscles between her legs as she moved to capture Ron's free arm and move it up towards the other bed post, causing Ron to make a womanly swooning sound before letting out a caveman-like grunt.
"Please!" He begged her to hurry up and satisfy him.
"I told you," Hermione said as she tied his other wrist to the brass post at the corner of the bed, "I want to pleasure you nice and slowly so you feel and enjoy every single second of it."
Ron began pushing up against her body weight and bent his knees to give himself some leverage. He lifted Hermione a little way off the bed and they both made surprised sounds of gratification before they slammed back down and began rocking against each other.
"I love you," Hermione said as she felt him thrusting inside her.
"Yeah," Ron blurted, "love...uuuhhhhh!"
"See this is why I have to take control," Hermione smiled as she spoke, "you become a human orgasm unless I hold you back and make you enjoy the build-up."
Ron's whole body squirmed beneath her weight and the ties groaned as he added extra strain to them with his needy pulls.
Hermione muffled him with a kiss and drew light circles around his nipple with the pad of her thumb. Ron was sweating and his heart pounded against his chest and she felt it through hers. He had to break the kiss almost immediately to gasp for breath into her face.
"Calm down and enjoy it," she said with a wicked smile.
"You're too good, you're gonna kill me," Ron whined and then grimaced as he felt himself losing control and humping her like an out of control dog.
"You've done this before," Hermione cooed into his ear as he gave up and panted beneath her, "you know how good it feels to do this slowly. You know how good I make you feel."
Ron's arms hung limp from the tethers, sweat pouring off him as he stared up at her, his chest rising and falling like waves on a rough sea, and he waited for her to start moving against him.
"You wouldn't stand for house elves being treated this way," he growled.
"House elves don't look nearly as sexy as you do when you surrender to the slow path," she said as she watched his concave stomach ripple with the movement of his modest muscles under the smooth translucent skin.
"Still no freckles here," she said as she stroked her palm against the pale canvas of his hollow belly, "we need to get you out in the sunshine."
"Say goodbye to sunshine, sunshine!" A voice snarled into his face.
Ron turned his head away and his arms took the weight of his body as the magical shackles dragged him up the wall of the dungeon alongside the rest of his ambushed team of Aurors.
"What?" Ron tried to place himself in the situation, but only knew he'd messed something up and now he was going to die. "Hermione?"
A flicker of the last thing he remembered. He was in bed with his Hermione and they were making love with all their intense passion and...and then...
He was jerked back to his present situation by the banging of the heavy iron door.
"What do we do now, sir?" a frightened voice called out, shakily.
Ron looked around for the person with the answers but nobody spoke.
"Sir?" Again, this time more urgent.
"Auror Weasley?" A calmer but equally fraught tone snapped him out of his confusion.
"Huh?" Ron screwed his eyes tightly shut and tried to get back to Hermione.
It was only a dream. It was always just a dream when she tied him up and then he was back in that sodding dungeon. There was no light and nobody to tell them what to do because he was the one who told people what to do. He had made the mistake and now they were all being held hostage.
Either he got them out of this or Harry and Kingsley would have to take risks and make compromises in order to get them out.
Kingsley wouldn't negotiate, Harry would want to mount a rescue mission, and Hermione would cry about how he was so pale and so thin when he finally made it home again.
No sunshine for so long. One by one his freckles died, faded away; before long they'd fade away altogether. Interrogation in the morning, eating stale bread and drinking dirty water in the afternoon, passing out sometime after, and waking in the evening when they would be chained and hung by the arms all night so they wouldn't get any more sleep. It was just what they didn't need to have the determination to stand up to more interrogation the next morning.
"Tell us where the holding cells are, how we get in, and how we get our men out!" A gruff voice demanded as Ron felt himself slammed forward onto a hard table, his hair fisted in a rough hand.
"Azkaban," Ron said, weary and sore, "you get in when we arrest you for this and put you away, you come out in a box. Next question."
Another heavy door slammed.
Ron jumped at the sound he was sure he'd heard and found himself sitting up in bed, drenched in a cold sweat, and shaking violently all over. Hermione was holding him tightly and repeating something over and over again and she rocked him, gently.
"...dreaming sweetheart, nothing but a dream, come on and come back out of there. You come home now, darling, come on. Just a dream, just a dream, just a dream that you can wake up from."
He lifted his trembling arms to cling back as if his life depended on it
"This is all my fault for stressing you out over that speech," Hermione was chastising herself as she rubbed small circles against his back with her hand.
"I'm awake," Ron said, causing her to jump and gasp before kissing his cheeks and smiling tearfully at him.
"It's just that silly old nightmare again. It's been a while since one of those, eh?" Hermione's said.
"It wasn't your fault," Ron said with a shake of the head.
"Do you want some water?"
Ron stopped her rolling away to slide out of bed and run off to the kitchen for a glass of water, pulling her back by the hand.
"Hermione," he said, firmly, "it wasn't your fault."
Her lip began to wobble and she took a bracing breath in and held it just long enough to compose herself before nodding.
"Yes it was. I upset you before bed and I knew you were unhappy and under pressure and I threw all my expectations on you and you haven't struggled in your sleep like that for months."
Ron clamped both hands over her mouth and rested his forehead against hers with a sigh.
"Listen to yourself. You're doing a me."
She laughed and then crushed him with a hug that then developed into a long cuddle. They wriggled back under the covers and remained wrapped up in each other until they drifted back to sleep again.
Ron had this talent.
He had a way of making her gasp and clutch her hand to her chest. She would look at him and feel as intensely strong feelings of love and adoration as she had when she'd first kissed him.
She padded into the kitchen and froze at the sight of her husband smearing strawberry jam, thickly, over a slice of golden brown toast. He was standing before the window, sunlight pouring in around him and lighting his dishevelled bed-hair up as if it was on fire, with his back to the ironing board.
He was wearing the only clean jeans he had been able to find, the only ones Hermione regularly washed because she liked it when they were his only option, the tight jeans that moulded around his bottom and exposed the sharp angle of his hipbones.
His torso was bare and layered with caramel coloured freckles as if dust had sprinkled down on top of him and settled upon his round shoulders and across his back and chest. They thinned out as they led down his body and she tilted her head to one side and licked her lips as she saw the brown mole that was only visible when his jeans hung low at his waist. He licked the knife clean and threw it into the sink with a clatter, turned, and then started as he saw her in the doorway.
"Oh, morning, want some toast?" He smiled and offered her the slice he'd taken a bite out of already.
"Just some tea for now, thanks," she said, before moving further into the kitchen and rising up on tiptoes to kiss his jam-sweetened lips as they passed each other.
She saw that the magical iron was charmed to move over his pale blue and tea-stained yellow checked shirt and then turned to give her husband a curious look.
Ron pulled out a chair and sat at the table, crunching at his toast and scanning some handwritten notes in front of him, as Hermione looked at her shirtless husband and then the shirt he was ironing for himself once again.
"Are you going to work today?"
Ron looked up, crumbs falling from his lips onto the papers before him on the table, and swallowed.
"Later," he said before brushing the crumbs away, "I've owled in to let them know."
She sat across from him and frowned. Ron seemed to be conscious of her watching him now and stiffened in his seat. He gathered the notes together and folded them up to force them into his back pocket. This gave him some trouble, as his fingers got stuck in the tight pocket, and he had to stand up to get it out again.
He grinned at her and moved across to stop the ironing charm.
"I'm casual today, no Auror robes," he said as he collapsed the ironing board and draped the shirt over the back of a chair before carrying the board under his arm towards the cupboard in the corner of the kitchen.
"But you're going in later?" She glanced around for the robes hanging somewhere.
"I'm in later in the afternoon, yeah," he said with his head inside the cupboard.
"Do you want me to iron your work clothes, then?"
Ron leaned back out of the cupboard and closed the door. He appeared to be bracing himself for her reaction for a moment. When there was no such reaction to worry about he announced his plans for the afternoon with the same dread he'd use if he was telling her he was leaving her for a troll.
"I'm wearing my formal robes this afternoon, they're in the office, I've got to do a presentation for the qualifying Aurors today."
Hermione made a small squeal of a noise at the back of her throat and clasped her hands together, excitedly. She struggled not to gush with pride at him, knowing that this would be translated as pressure in Ron's mind, and instead poured her tea.
"That's nice. Would you like some tea?"
She felt Ron relaxing and smiled to herself. He moved behind her, wrapped both arms loosely around her waist, and rested his chin on her shoulder.
"Tea would be nice, thanks." He kissed her neck and whispered into her ear. "Love you."
"You sit down and prepare for work and I'll get to the office," she said as she turned in his arms and kissed him on the lips again before whispering back. "Love you too."
Ron pulled on his shirt and buttoned it as Hermione stirred two heaped spoonfuls of sugar into his tea. Ron's body was so long that the shirt only just covered his belt; it was hard for someone so tall to get shirts that were long enough without swamping his skinny body in loose fabric.
Ron's shirts had always been hand made by his mother but Hermione had made an effort to learn how to magically tailor from Molly, making his checked shirt for their first anniversary. Neither of them had any money and had agreed to make something for the other as a gift. Ron had made her a bookcase with his bare hands. The shirt had needed a few repairs over time, but she was pleased with the fit.
He glanced at her watching him and sniggered. He knew she hated him in baggy clothes, and almost all clothing was baggy on his frame, but wrestling his notes back out of his pocket was struggle enough for him to know his jeans had shrunk too much in the wash and needed to be thrown out.
"Putting on weight are you? About time!" She teased.
Ron slurped his tea and sat down again, fanning out his notes on the table.
"Would you meet me at lunchtime to listen to what I've got so far?" He was trying to sound casual but she knew it was a big deal for him to ask her for help.
"I'd happily meet a handsome man for lunch every day if only he weren't usually working unsociable hours." She grinned "If it's sunny I'll be sitting outside, okay?"
"What do you mean if it's sunny?" Ron snorted, "It's summertime in London, of course it won't be sunny!"
"I'll bring my brolly with me, that'll guarantee we get fine weather."
"Good plan." Ron nodded and then looked down at his notes as if they were in a foreign language. "You do realise that if I humiliate myself I'm going to blame you?"
"I'll happily share the blame with Harry," she said as she leaned over and kissed his cheek, "now let me get dressed and we'll quickly set up a stunning opening line for you."
"Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back."
"And then I introduce Harry," Ron said as he threw himself back in his chair and dragged his hand over his hair.
"That was just an example of a great military speech," Hermione said with a sigh.
"Coffee?" A free elf wearing a smart apron asked as she approached the table.
Ron pulled a face and Hermione smiled politely.
"Can we have a pot of tea, please?" Hermione asked before beaming as the elf scurried off.
She turned back to Ron and gave him a nod of encouragement.
"Oh, right," Ron said as he swivelled in his chair and wrestled his bundle of tatty paper notes out of his jacket pocket, "um, well I, uh..."
"No hurry," Hermione said, sitting forward in anticipation.
Ron cleared his throat as he found the first page of his notes and nervously began.
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," he paused to glance up at Hermione and his shoulders fell to see she was already cringing, "What?"
"A Macbeth quote? Really?"
"A who what?" Ron frowned.
"It's a quote from a play, it's from the part where he finds out his wife's dead. You're quoting Shakespeare, Ron."
"I am?" Ron looked down at the paper with a puzzled expression. "Auntie Muriel used to say it all the time before she died."
Hermione forced a smile and patted the back of his hand.
"It's a good idea to start with a quote. I quoted somebody else didn't I?"
"Hmmm." Ron glowered down at the paper.
"What made that passage stand out for you? What were you trying to say? Maybe you could say it in your own words."
"Well I was going to read it up to, 'told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing', and then start talking."
"You were going to preface your speech by calling yourself an idiot?" Hermione said, angrily.
Ron's baffled expression fell away and he grinned at her. She growled in exasperation and punched him in the arm.
"Oh come on, think of the effort that went into that!" Ron said with pride. "I played a joke on you in Shakespearian!"
She couldn't help but laugh as she put her hand to her face and shook her head.
"Please tell me you put as much effort into your speech."
Ron made a despondent noise at the back of his throat and scrunched up his fake first page.
"I've got a speech done but it's a bit crap."
"It's not a bit crap, it's called a first draft."
"You mean I'm going to have to write it out all over again?" Ron said in dismay.
"Just read what you've got so far and we can make any changes you think necessary."
"I think necessary?" Ron arched an eyebrow.
"You asked me to help," Hermione said as she folded her arms, "do you want my help?"
"Yes please," Ron crumpled across the table with a whimper, just as the elf arrived with their steaming pot of tea and two delicate tea cups.
"Thank you," Hermione said as she lifted the teapot and set it on the table, nudging Ron's head aside with her elbow, and then took one of the cups and saucers. "Would you be kind enough to get a big deep mug and a bowl of sugar for my husband, please?"
The elf obliged, eagerly and Ron looked up at her with an appreciative smile.
"You always know what I..." His eyes bulged and he sat bolt upright and grabbed both her hands, tightly. "You could write it!"
"I don't think-"
"Really, you could write me being inspiring and wonderful and everything you say I am because you know what things I do are all those things and if I say the things you say I should say then they won't seem like I'm saying things I shouldn't be saying."
"Do you have any idea what you've just said?" She asked him, sympathetically.
"No." Ron slumped again. "See why I need you?"
The elf presented Ron with a mug the size of a fruit bowl and a saucer the size of a plate.
"Blimey, I can't wait to see the sugar bowl!" Ron said in amazement.
Hermione was doubled up with laughter and the elf held up two brick sized lumps of sugar and asked Ron, "One lump or two, sir?"
Ron took in the sight before him and then shrugged.
"Two, I suppose."
"Ron!" Hermione chided before stopping the elf dumping both boulders of sugar into the mug.
"That's about right, in proportion to the liquid," Ron said as he lowered his head and weighed up the depth of the mug.
"You are not having that much sugar hours before your first public speaking engagement."
"Don't call it that," Ron said, looking worried.
"Just one, no, half of one." Hermione told the elf.
"Half!" Ron protested, astonished at the hardship being foisted upon his tea.
"Your teeth will rot out of your head," Hermione said, sternly, "and you just told me I always know what's right as far as you're concerned.
"Well I am an idiot, full of fury and signifying nothing."
The elf set about pouring the contents of the teapot into Ron's mug, turned to Hermione, and informed her that he would brew another pot so she could have some, and hurried off. Ron plopped the half brick of sugar into his hot tea and began stirring with a tiny teaspoon.
"That could take some time to dissolve, why don't you practice your opening line on me?"
Ron taped his wand against the teaspoon and enlarged it to the size of a ladle before stirring the tea properly.
"Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, you are all about to become Aurors, those of you who are about to, not your guests."
"The address is just to them, don't worry about the others," Hermione said with a smile and a nod of encouragement.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you are all about to become Aurors. Being an Auror means you have a great responsibility to society and you will have to do dangerous things to stop dangerous people who will want to kill you. I'm sure you won't die because you are all very good."
He stopped when he saw Hermione wincing.
"Go on," he said, as he poured a jug of milk into his tea.
"Do you really want to talk about them dying in front of their families?"
"But you said to do what Harry did and not sugar-coat it."
"It's just the wording, and maybe that kind of sentiment can come later?"
"Later," Ron said as he skipped ahead in his notes and then on a little more and finally reached the end, "well it's kind of assurances that they're good enough not to die all the way through really."
"What's the last word?"
Ron looked at the final page.
"Scar," he said before shaking his head, "no wait, I changed that, it's...dead."
Hermione couldn't help herself, she laughed very loudly.
"I know how it sounds but it's actually, 'knock 'em dead', that's upbeat isn't it?" Ron said as he pointed at the scribbled sentence.
Hermione's fresh pot of tea arrived and she poured herself a cup and thought for a moment.
"Put those away for a moment."
Ron gathered his papers together and weighted them down beneath his spoon.
"Now tell me about that time Harry went under the ice."
Ron shifted uneasily and lowered his head down to slurp noisily up some tea from the huge bowl like mug.
"I don't mean when you saved him from the Horcrux. I mean tell me about your mission on the Firth of Clyde as if I was an Auror, just one Auror, asking you what it's going to be like from now on."
Ron propped his head up with one hand, elbow on table, and looked at his sweet milky tea.
"D'you think they have a great big biscuit I could dunk in this?"
"Auror Weasley," Hermione said as she looked solemnly into his eyes, "we leave on our first missions tomorrow. Me and my partner are going it alone and he's carried me through the training up 'till now. What if I can't hack it on my own?"
"Young Auror," Ron said as he placed his hand upon Hermione's shoulder, "it's my partner and I."
"You're a sod sometimes!"
He'd heard Harry cry out for him and come running, but by the time he got there he could see no sign of him.
"Harry!" He roared at the top of his lungs.
After a pause to listen for a response, he bellowed again.
He lit the tip of his wand as brightly as he could and swept the beam across the frosty ground; he spotted a series of indentations in the crisp, crunchy grass leading to the bank-side. Ron shivered in the freezing Scottish wind, and crouched to look closer.
The heat from his wand began to melt the frozen blades of green and he followed the trail of shoe shaped imprints with just his eyes. The grass became limp and wet, springing the footprint in front of him back; the shape was lost to the lush, thick growth. He'd already seen where the trail was leading, though.
The flattened grass ended at the edge of the ice and Ron swore and ran towards it. He skidded onto the vast sheet of flat ice and lowered himself into a crouch before crawling across on his hands and knees. He knew well enough from playing on the frozen pond as a child that you were more likely to fall through the ice if you were standing on it than you were if you spread your weight over a wider area.
"Harry!" he called out again; there was no response.
He slipped and clumsily slid further across the ice until he was a considerable way out. He felt the ice beneath his hands giving, heard the groans and snaps as cracks began to spread, and lay flat, arms and legs spread wide and wand clutched tightly in his hand.
"Harry bloody Potter, where are you?" he hollered.
He cast his wand light across the surface of the ice and noticed a thin dark shape.
"Accio!" Ron said as the object scraped across the ice and hit him in the numb palm of his hand.
It was Harry's wand.
"Oh shit," Ron hissed before crawling along, wand in either hand, ignoring the sounds of the ice weakening beneath his body.
As he dragged himself closer he saw the black jagged shape of the hole in the ice and plunged his lit wand into the icy water, up to and then past his elbow. It was so cold it almost felt like his skin was burning. He moved his wand around beneath the ice and tried to see Harry's shape through the murky water.
He hoped Harry was still holding his breath and looking for the hole. Maybe the light would guide him back.
"Come on, Harry," Ron growled as the pain in his submerged arm became more painful than he could have imagined from nothing more than cold water.
If he couldn't stand just one arm in the water for a few seconds then he didn't know how long Harry could have lasted totally submerged.
He gritted his teeth and plunged his other arm in, pointing Harry's wand blindly and yelling, partly in panic and partly in pain, "Accio Harry!"
He wasn't at his best with the wand of another, but Harry's wand had been good to him in the past. It was almost as if it had attuned to his magical core. He thought he felt the wand vibrating in his hand but he was now numb in both arms and the edge of the ice hole crumbled away beneath him.
He held on for as long as he could, before pulling both arms back up and rolling away from the hole, just as large chunks of ice broke off and floated into the centre of the widening space. His arms felt as if they were splitting open and his skin burned as if the heat of his blood was scalding him. He rubbed his arms against his dry cloak tails and then began bending and flexing his fingers and elbows.
Magical warming charms would do damage. He knew he mustn't warm up too fast, but he couldn't remember why.
Now is not to reason why, now is but to do or die.
It was enough for him to know he was doing the right thing, and he was sure he was. His instincts were rarely wrong when it came to security and survival. Harry always changed his plans if Ron declared he just had a feeling they shouldn't be doing something. He had, after all, known that saying Voldemort's name was dangerous before he found out about the jinx on it.
He felt painful pins and needles in both hands and growled before rolling back onto his stomach. The tip of his wand was still glowing brightly and it was pressed against the ice before him as he crawled up onto all fours. He gasped when he was the white face of Harry, pressed against the ice beneath him. His eyes were wide open and his cheeks bulging as he held his breath.
Ron gasped and Harry's fist banged against the ice barrier between them.
He wouldn't be able to muster up enough force to punch through the water and break the thick ice. Ron knew that he didn't have the strength in his numb arms to break it from his side.
"Hold on!" he shouted before trying and failing to grip either wand properly to use them to free his best friend and Auror partner.
Harry was getting desperate now and Ron had no other way of breaking the ice other than the one he'd been avoiding.
"Here goes nothing," he shuddered to himself.
He stood up, put his feet close together so all his weight pressed down on one small spot, and then jumped. The first jump weakened the ice, the second cracked it, and the third kept going as he broke through and plunged into the freezing black water himself.
The shock was too much and he gasped a lungful of water in before kicking his legs back up and resurfacing through the jagged hole. He fumbled wildly around him until he felt the fabric of Harry's hood and dragged him towards the hole and through it.
Harry gasped and flailed, limbs number and less use than Ron's were, and Ron took a breath and sank under again to push Harry up and over the edge of the ice-hole. He came up and Harry was still only half out, draped over the side from the waist up and fighting for breath.
Ron tried to drag himself out to help Harry the rest of the way but he'd used up all his energy by then.
"Har-Harry," he panted."
Harry couldn't speak; he was still clambering for air in his oxygen starved lungs.
Ron was done in, he'd used all his reserves and his body had had enough. That wasn't enough to have saved them, though. He braced himself, he was going to have to do more even though he had nothing left of himself to give. He took three short, deep breaths and then kicked hard to lift himself up out of the ice hole a few inches. He grabbed the nearest wand to him and sank back down under the water.
He heard Harry choke his name and flung an arm back under the ice to reach for him. He wouldn't be able to hold himself up with one deadened arm and they'd both be lost. He pointed the wand down and threw all his focus onto a nonverbal spell for downward thrust.
The wand pushed him up and he grabbed Harry's hand as he passed it. They were both shoved clean of the hole and slid across the flat ice. Ron flung the wand skywards and sent a Patronus exploding out of the tip to get help.
Harry was panting and shaking violently as he sprawled on the ice and looked across at Ron.
"Took y'r time!"
Ron coughed and laughed in a short painful burst of noise before dragging fresh lungful of frosty air into his lungs.
"Idiot," Ron wheezed, "walking on thin bloody ice...prat."
"I'm allowed to be an idiot," Harry shivered. "I have you."
"So how am I supposed to use that in a speech?" Ron huffed as he lifted his bowl-like mug to his lips with both hands and drained the last of the tea from it.
"You said it yourself," Hermione said as she leaned across the table.
"What? Harry survived, moving from air pocket to air pocket to breathe, until I showed up and jumped up and down until I fell in!"
"No, you said, 'now is not to reason why, now is but to do or die'." Hermione looked at him with pride. "You quoted in the right way, in a truthful and inspiring way, and you even managed to put the word die in there without being depressing!"
"You are a captivating speaker, a wonderful storyteller and you always explain things that I can't understand, clearly."
"There's nothing you don't understand."
"I didn't understand parts of wizarding history and society that weren't written in books. You explained those to me. I don't understand what it feels like to fall into freezing water but you explained that. I don't understand how a person can be that scared and confused and exhausted and yet still think of the right thing to do even if they don't know why it's right."
"They don't want to hear Ronald Weasley's greatest hits, they want to hear something that relates to them."
"You relate to them! You speak to them, speak for them, understand them. You know they are worried that when the time comes they won't remember their training."
"But they've been trained to think on their feet. They'll do it on instinct," Ron said as he pushed the massive mug aside.
"And that's what they need you to tell them!" Hermione sat back and looked at him with pride. "You can do this and you can do this very well."
Ron sat at the table and thought. He thought until Hermione had to go back to work. He thought until he had to get to the department and change for the ceremony. He thought right up until Harry found him on his knees vomiting into the toilet bowl in the third cubicle to the right.".
Pre-match nerves were always worse than the game, he told himself.
He was slipping out of his formal robes and handing then to a free elf for emergency cleaning when Hermione slipped into the shower block and locked the door.
"What happened to work?" he asked when he saw her.
"Harry sent an owl. He said your nerves were at Quidditch level."
Ron laughed in embarrassment and rubbed his face, roughly.
"I haven't been feeling very well, no." He shrugged and sat on a wooden bench in his underwear.
"Well we'll have to do something about that, won't we?" She said as she unfastened her robes and let them slip to the floor.
"What are you doing?" Ron narrowed his eyes at her as she slipped off her flat, sensible shoes.
"You know what they say, Ron," Hermione said as she unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it off her shoulders, "if you are feeling nervous about speaking in public," she twisted her skirt around to unzip it and then shimmied it down her legs to the floor, "picture your audience naked."
Ron gulped and watched her step out of the skirt pooled around her ankles. She reached out and pulled Ron to his feet. He was still looking shocked that his goody-two-shoes wife was acting like this.
"Underwear off," she said, smiling up at him as she hooked her thumbs inside the waistband of his briefs and pulled down.
Ron looked down at what she was doing and then reached behind her and unhooked her bra with one hand while grazing the fingers of his other hand down her side and peeling the satin knickers away from her body.
"Come here," she said as she rose up on her toes to reach for a kiss.
"I wouldn't," Ron said as he covered his mouth with his hand, "I haven't brushed my teeth since I...was unwell."
She laughed lightly, and draped her arms around his neck to pull his face down to meet her lips.
"I don't care."
They kissed their way into the shower and Hermione turned on the tap without breaking the embrace.
The warm water cascaded onto them and ran rivers down their bodies. Their hands massaged smooth, wet skin, and fat droplets of water hung heavy from Ron's fringe before splashing onto her cheeks.
Her bushy hair was weighted down by the water and hung in dark brown ringlets about her shoulders. Her hands pushed Ron's hair back from his face, and she sucked the water from his lips before sliding them down his body, slick like a freckled eel.
"I'll be with you," she whispered between kisses, "just like I was at lunchtime," and then hopped up as he gripped the back of her thighs and lifted her, "and you can talk to me like you did then," she slid down onto his hard-on and drank in another kiss from his glistening lips, "just ignore all the other people and talk to me."
Ron moaned as he felt her weight pushing her down so he was deep inside her. She gasped and water flowed from the showerhead, down across her face, and into her mouth. He buried his face between her slippery breasts and dragged his tongue along the channel of water that was streaming between them.
Thrusting up into her, he grunted and groaned, and felt her thighs tightly squeezing around his waist. Hermione fisted a handful of his sopping wet hair and bit her lip as she rode him with rhythmic thrusts.
"I fuckin' love you!" Ron gasped.
"Y'know, when they first did this I thought it was a bit of a pathetic sort of torture but, after the eighth or ninth hour, I do think this is the most annoying thing that has ever happened to me."
Seamus squinted and then blinked before huffing.
"I blink it away and then another one slides down in its place."
"Are we supposed to go mad or talk or what? What do we have to do to- Agh FUCK!" Ron tried to rip his body away from the flat board he was strapped down to as the ever present slap of a single drop of cold water struck his forehead.
"Ignore it, Ron," Seamus said as he flinched from the next splash of water against his face, "zone it out."
"I can't fucking zone it out," he snarled. "As soon as I start the thing hits me again and I'm snapped out of it."
"I'm losing it again, I've fucking well had enough of this now."
"Think o' Hermione. Think o' the drips falling on her and running down her sweet body."
"My girlfriend should not be wet and naked inside your dirty mind!" Ron said as he tried to lift his head to glare at his friend.
"And I shouldn't be wet and tied down and bein' interrogated because they mistook me for a bleedin' Auror!" Seamus snapped.
"You're the one who wanted to wear an Auror cloak because it was a fanny magnet!"
"You're the Auror, what are y'doing about gettin' us out of this?"
"I wasn't the bloody one who got captured. You got me captured by being sodding well captured you Irish prick!"
D R I P !
"Shite, it's like a fuckin' sharpened stone hittin' me in the exact same place every bleedin' time and it's drivin' me fu-"
"I fucked your girlfriend," Ron shouted to interrupt.
"When Hermione was away at school for her NEWTs and you were doing your apprenticeship I was shagging Amelia in the little room behind the back stairs at the Leaky Cauldron."
"I didn't do it to be a git. You weren't in love with her and she knew it and I was sex starved. It was all in good fun until she got pregnant."
"That was YOU?"
"She really was?" Ron gasped.
Ron slumped on the hard board and sighed.
"I was just making it up to distract you. Sorry, I didn't realise she actually did screw around and get in the family way."
"You were windin' me up?"
"Yeah," Ron said before another drop splattered against his skin, "be fair, it took your mind off drips for a few seconds didn't it?"
Ron glared up at the dripping shower head as he finished towel drying his hair.
"It's okay," Hermione aid as she flicked her wand at the shower and the dripping stopped instantly.
Ron waited and then looked at her, questioningly.
"How did you know how to do that?"
"I fixed the drips at home; it took me a while to find something that stuck, but it was worth it," she said as she cupped his face with one hand, "it used to drive you mad."
Ron kissed her so hard that it felt as if their lips would bruise before breaking away and taking her hand.
"How did you know?"
"I know you."
From the busy sound of gaggling geese to the subdued clucking of hens and then into the even buzz of a beehive, there was no way Ron could ignore the fact that the place was packed to the gills. They didn't sound like people, they sounded like vultures circling so they could pick the meat off his bones when he died on his arse in front of the lot of them.
He took a deep breath and moved back behind the curtain, from where he'd been peeping out, and told himself that Hermione and Harry were right about his nerves being the biggest problem.
"Don't do this to yourself, Ron." Harry put his hand on Ron's shoulder and looked at him with real concern.
"I think you'll find that you did this to me," Ron said darkly, before bending over and supporting himself with his hands on his knees.
"Deep breaths," Harry said as he rubbed Ron's back, "you always shine through when it really matters. You can do this and you can do this well."
"New members of our team, your families, and your friends," Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister for Magic, was introducing him. Ron burped up some sick and swallowed it down again as he stood up. "It is my great privilege to introduce your speaker this afternoon, Auror Ronald Weasley."
The applause shocked him into jumping half out of his skin and Harry gave him a bracing pat on the back and a determined smile and nod.
"I'll be right behind you, mate."
Ron nodded and straightened his formal robes, then his tie, and finally patted down his hair. He rolled his shoulders back, puffed out his chest and stepped onto the stage and into the spotlight.
The applause seemed to grow louder and then stop as he reached the podium. Ron's mouth went dry and he wished there was a glass of water out there for him, maybe if there were he could have drowned himself.
He looked out and saw a sea of faces framing a bright light that shone directly at him, causing him to squint. He looked back down at the bullet point notes he'd made on four small cards and then cleared his throat and looked up again.
"You don't need inspiring," he said, voice cracking a little, "you just spent a really tiring year trying to get here. Now you're here you don't need inspiration."
They were all listening to him and he felt as if all the fine hairs on his back were standing up on end.
"There are people sitting next to you who do," Ron said, still feeling the urge to run away but determined to at least have a go before giving up, "your friends and family didn't sign up for this, but they'll soon know what my friends and family know."
He heard a door at the back of the massive auditorium open and close. He felt his confidence draining away at the thought that somebody had walked out in disappointment already but that was plugged up as soon as his eyes accustomed to the light in his face and the darkness at the back of the room he saw that nobody had left. Somebody had come in and was watching from the back, somebody with big bushy hair.
He took a deep breath in and looked at the silhouette, speaking clearly to project his voice to the very back, where it needed to be.
"They'll know that some nights you won't come home. I'm here to inspire them to have faith in your abilities and to have the same confidence, that you will come home after every mission, that I have in all of you."
He felt the same shift inside himself that he recognised from throwing the Quaffle out after making his first save of a big match. It was the shock that he could do this and the satisfaction that he was going to be able to enjoy doing this.
"A friend told me that only fifty percent of what we say is actually heard. That's for normal people. From now on these aren't normal people, these people are Aurors. This means they have to listen to one hundred percent of what people say and listen to the things they aren't saying to them, too. It'll be hard to keep secrets from them," Ron smirked, "but you'll be able to use it against them, too; they'll never have an excuse to forget your birthday again."
He got a laugh.
"Let's have them show you just how good they are," Ron said before giving the nod for the overhead projector to be turned on and a large illuminated map of the south east of England and the north of France appeared behind him, "This is the encampment in Normandy where I was under cover and had a trace put on my magic so using it would give away my position and get us all ambushed." Ron extended his wand into a long pointy stick and tapped the position he was talking about on the map. "This is Westcliff-on-Sea where I was living at the time with my lovely wife." He pointed to the coast on the east of England. "And this," he jabbed the date stamp at the top of the map, "is the date of my wedding anniversary."
Some of the new Aurors, mainly the ones who had been trained by Ron, chuckled.
"So my fellow Aurors, how did I get home to my missus to give her one...hell of a present?"
Everybody burst out laughing and Ron could feel Hermione's pride and indignation projecting back at him over the heads of the crowd. He pointed at one of many raised hands in the crowd.
"Up you come, bring a pointy stick," Ron said before turning back to Harry and grinning. "Next slide please."
A/N I am taking commissions at the moment to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Details are on my profile. For a donation to the charity of £1 or more I will write you a Ron all of your own. (or a sequel if you want one of those)