He had an amazing wife. Hermione was the brightest witch of any age; a beautiful woman; wonderful mother; his best friend even over Harry and an incredible partner. He had kids who would make any father proud. Rose was top of her class, Hugo a chip off the Weasley block. His family and friends were the best, his job, the greatest. Ron Weasley wouldn't change his life for any other man's. He was truly satisfied with what he had, and wasn't the type to covet, but Ron had to admit to being dead envious of the private lift to Draco Malfoy's penthouse.
It wasn't the Galleons involved. In Ron's schooldays, when he was wearing hand-me-down robes and didn't have enough Sickles to buy a Cauldron Cake from the trolley witch on the Express, it would have been a different story. Now, his partnership in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes provided everything he needed for his family. He didn't envy Malfoy's gold, or his penthouse. It was the lift itself.
Rose was checking her appearance in the mirror. Ron averted his eyes from the signet ring she wore like a pendant on a chain: Scorpius Malfoy's ring. It was just a token, she'd claimed, but she hadn't said what kind. It had better be nothing deeper than casual affection—gods, even that churned his stomach. He didn't want to think about his little Rosie, seventh-year though she might be, kissing the son of Draco Malfoy, much less . . . .
Think of something else. Think of something else.
Ron looked at Hermione. Her belted shirtdress might seem plain and businesslike, but the midnight blue silk skimmed over curves that turned his thoughts to ways he'd like to demonstrate his affection for his wife. Since Rose wasn't paying them any attention, he said softly, "I'll bet they don't use the lift like we would."
At first, he thought she wouldn't answer. Then, after a quick peek at Rose, Hermione said blandly, "You think they prefer the stairs?"
The double entendre made him grimace. "I don't give a rat's arse what they prefer." Ron darted a look to make sure Rose was still searching for hairs to smooth down or whatever and said, "I only care about you."
"I adore our stairs." Hermione's eyes conveyed her true meaning. She loved him and adored what they did on the stairs when their children were at school and they had the house to themselves. Most of the time they kissed their way up the steps to their bedroom, sometimes slowly, sometimes racing with pauses to snog. Other times, they didn't make it all the way upstairs.
If they were alone now, they wouldn't make it to the penthouse. He would stop the lift between floors.
Hermione's lips curved. She knew what he was thinking.
Fantasy elevated Ron's mood, helping him through the awkwardness of brunch with a former enemy. What did they have to talk about? Old times? The war and every other "sensitive topic" as Hermione called them were off limits. He and Malfoy ended up talking Quidditch. It wasn't completely terrible. Malfoy knew his stats. Talking about the season, players, and teams passed the time and gave Ron something to do besides watching his daughter pick at her food while eating Scorpius bloody Malfoy up with her eyes.
When Rose and Scorpius left the terrace to make espresso and didn't return, Ron glanced at his watch a few times but didn't charge in to break up the snog fest. He glanced at Hermione to make sure she appreciated his effort to be civil and non-confrontational. She met his eyes and her lips curved. She had the sexiest mouth. He'd felt like such a perv at school, watching her eat, wishing she'd lick him like a custard spoon.
She handed him the white chocolate and raspberry muffin off her plate. "Stop eyeing my muffin and just take it."
The amused exasperation of her tone was countered by the naughty gleam in her eye. "I will," he said, and ate every bite.
Astoria Malfoy was the one who suggested they go and "see if the children need assistance." Ron jumped to his feet in eagerness to be a gentleman and open the door for the women.
Inside, the smell of coffee was conspicuously absent. Scorpius apologised for not checking beforehand, it seemed the previous owners of the flat took the espresso pot with them. Ron wasn't disappointed. He'd done his duty, showed tolerance and supported Rose. He was ready to leave.
When Scorpius offered to walk Rose downstairs, exercise sounded good to Ron. He could stretch his legs and prevent Rose's lips from getting puffier. He changed his mind when Hermione said they'd take the lift.
The moment the doors closed, he said, "If we were anywhere else."
Hermione turned to face the mirror. Her reflection smiled. "What would you do?"
Ron moved behind her, leaned in close, and told in detail. That was one of the advantages of playing chess. He always thought ahead, anticipating responses and planning his moves. By the time the lift reached the ground floor, he was ready to implement a variety of scenarios.
"I'll owl the office, tell them I'm taking the rest of the day off," Hermione said.
He grinned. "I won't owl. That way Hugo will stay at the shop, expecting me to walk in any time."
The thrill of anticipation faded as they stood in the lobby and waited. How could he drop Rose off at the Burrow, come home, and make love to Hermione if Scorpius and Rose kept dawdling?
"I know what's taking so long," he muttered.
"So do I. They're walking down flights of stairs."
And they could bloody well walk faster. He cast a Patronus.
"Ronald Weasley, you're a grown man. Can't you wait?"
Hermione's cheeks were pink, her eyes sparkling. He took her hand and pulled her to the lift. "I can if you give me something to look forward to," he said, pushing the button for the top floor.
Before the doors closed, Hermione was in his arms.
In chapter twenty one of Our Little Secret, Rose overhears her dad tell her mum that he bets the Malfoys don't use the lift like they would. Rose understandably had a "Merlin, get me out of this lift before they start snogging" reaction, but I started hearing Aerosmith sing Love in an Elevator, and phrases like "gonna have a little fantasy" and "lovin' it up 'til we hit the ground" inspired this story.