House elves were what brought us together.
I kissed Ron for the first time during the final battle of Hogwarts when he brought up the elves that were still in the kitchen. Something other then just fear flowed through me, and suddenly I couldn't restrain myself from kissing him, couldn't stop myself from loving him, couldn't imagine myself with any other person but that beautiful red-head who had captured my heart the moment he started burping up slugs for me. Even if he didn't mean it to be romantic, he never looked the same to me. To this day, I still count that as one of the most romantic things Ronald Weasley has ever done for me. From this statement, I suppose you'll be gathering that Ron isn't the most romantic guy. Well, you're absolutely correct. So how, you ask, could Hermione Granger, ministry lawyer and apparent war hero, fall for an unromantic sidekick like that? Believe me, Ron asks himself that question every day. Sometimes I have to ask myself. But when I remember, it's wonderful. It's a rush of happiness, and love, and sometimes just remembering why I fell for Ron in the first place makes me fall in love with him all over again.
House elves were what brought us together. It figures that they would be what brought us apart.
It was a cold January day, and Ron and I were sitting in the home we shared together. We'd gotten it a year previously, when we'd decided to throw caution to the wind and just take the step. We were used to each other, we wanted to see if we could handle something other then just dating, because, as Ron so brilliantly put it,
"Dating is like friendship with snogging."
Yeah, thanks Ron. So, anyway, moving in seemed like the perfect step. It wasn't so big that it would freak either of us out- like getting engaged- but it wasn't so small it would seem like nothing- like the time we'd given each other keys to our flats. That wasn't even a very romantic step, anyways, because both Harry and Ginny got one too. Ron and I had decided to just pick out a flat that we both liked and buy it. So that's what we did. We'd been dating for two years, which some people thought was forever, and some people thought it was too fast. As you can tell, Ron was the former, I was the latter.
But still, we'd gotten used to living together, and learned to love it. Yeah, he left the toilet seat up and his underwear on the floor, but I was anal about keeping the kitchen clean and he didn't complain. Besides, we worked well together. I cooked and cleaned, because that was what I loved doing, and he was always doing the dishes and the odd jobs around the house. The pair that had always seemed like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole suddenly clicked right into each other. It was a wonderful, satisfying feeling, because the round hole had always had a huge crush on the square peg.
On this cold, January afternoon, we were cuddled onto the couch together in front of the fire, blankets draped over the both of us, a notepad in my hand and Ron's eyes on the muggle television. It really was the only thing that made his liking to muggles anything near his father's. Ron just found television programs more entertaining then those on the radio. Sometimes, if I wasn't busy or reading anything, I'd watch him watch TV. His face would become alive with lines of laughter, or annoyance, or shock if something happened that surprised him. Ron became so emotionally invested in whatever was going on before him, it was I loved most about him. No matter what it was, Ron was passionate about everything that he came across. He had opinions on everything, and he stuck by them fervently.
Ron was watching a comedic movie involving three idiotic men, and I would look up from my paper at random intervals, just to check and see what he was watching. Upon seeing it, I would wrinkle my nose disdainfully. It was extremely goofy. On the contrary to myself, Ron was laughing heartily at the movie. Although I didn't approve of the crass sense of the movie, I enjoyed watching him laugh. Even though the war had ended three years ago, the people who had battled in it had many internal and external scars. One of mine was worrying that my boys- Harry and Ron- didn't laugh enough. During the times in the forest, we'd been so strained we didn't joke or tease most of the days. Before the war, during the battle, even after the war, they never smiled unless it was a strained, fake one. I almost forgot what they looked like when they grinned at me, and since they both changed so much during that small space of time, they seemed different when they smiled the next time they genuinely did so in my presence. Those first few months, I found myself wishing that I had savored every last smile, grin, beam, smirk, and even sneer they'd done in the six years I'd known them.
"Hermione?" Ron said tentatively, startling me from my thoughts. I started, then blinked a few times and looked at him.
"Sorry, you just seemed really far off. You were staring at me with this glazed sort of look... kind of freaked me out."
"Sorry, Ron. What made you tear your eyes away from your movie?"
He raised an eyebrow and pointed at the screen. I followed his finger.
"Oh. It's over."
Everything was completely black. He must have turned it off before he said my name. He grinned at me, and snuggled closer. I breathed in through my nose, careful to inhale every bit of his smell I could get. I loved the way Ron Weasley smelled. He smelled comfortable, and sweet, and masculine, and yet still natural. Ron smelled like home. His hand slid over mine, and my eyes trailed down to the easy way they were entwined. I looked back up at him. Oh no. Ron was in the mood. He always got the same look on his face when he wanted to snog me.
"That's nice." I said softly, aware of his face getting closer to mine. Surrendering, I closed my eyes and quickly closed the rest of the distance. That was the nice thing about being with someone for a long time. You knew when they were about to kiss you, and it wasn't awkward because you'd done so much of it. His hands moved to my hair, and I fell back against the couch so that he could move on top of me. He ran his tongue over my lips, and I opened up so that we could have a tongue war: the best fight Ron Weasley and I would ever partake in. And then, suddenly, it happened. His hands moved down from my hair and to my waist, and my papers spilled off of my lap and scattered across the floor and fell into the fireplace.
Now, you may not think that this is a very big deal. You may be under the impression that and then it happened is an overstatement, something that should be used to describe something that is a much bigger deal then papers falling off of my lap and spilling across the floor. But it's not. I'd been working on these papers for weeks. They were all about the House Elf protection act I was working on tirelessly, and they were cutting into my time with Ron, at home, cuddling, just like we had been doing just a moment ago. But when they fell into the fire, weeks and weeks of hard work suddenly became fruitless. I sat up quickly, and Ron rolled off of me, looking extremely guilty.
"Sorry, Hermione." he said, his brows rising and meeting together. I didn't say anything. How could I say that it was okay? There was silence as I stared at the fireplace. "Can you redraw those in time for when you need to present them?"
"Ron, I have to present them in three days." I whispered, close to tears. "And if I don't present these papers, I might not pass the law, and if I don't pass the law the House Elves will remain unprotected, and I'll never be able to get an audience with the Wizgamot again."
Ron bit his lip. Any other day I would have thought that that was adorable. Now, I couldn't bear to look at him. He was the reason all my hard work and effort was now turning to char in the leaping flames. I stared at the flames, instead, thinking about what I was going to do. When it became clear, I got up, grabbed my purse, pulled open the door, and started walking out the house.
"Hermione? Where are you going?"
"I'm going to work! I have to fix this, Ron, I have to!"
"Well... can't we finish?"
I paused in the doorway, then turned and looked at him, scandalized. Snow filled the air behind me, falling into my hair onto onto our wood floor, but I payed no mind to it.
"No! Of course not!"
Ron crossed his arms over his chest.
"Why are you always putting House Elves before me?"
"What?" I asked in a deadly angry whisper.
"You work so hard, and when you come home you aren't really there, and I know it's important to you, and you've been working on it for three years, and working toward it all of your life, but don't you think that maybe it's time to make it not your life and make me your life instead?"
I stared at him, anger coursing through my veins, tears springing into my eyes. Did that really just come out of his mouth? Stop loving House Elves! Make ME your life!
"I can't even believe you just said that." I said, closing the door and putting my purse down. "Make me your life, Hermione! What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just as it sounded." Ron replied defensively. "Instead of putting work before me, marry me.."
It was the least romantic proposal in the world, and Ron's words didn't even register as a proposal. I concentrated, instead, on the work part.
"House Elves aren't work! They are beings with feelings that are being treated terribly!"
"I have feelings, and sometimes you treat me terribly."
"Ron, loving me is loving all of me, and loving all of me is loving my love for House Elves."
"Well maybe I don't love House Elves as much as you! I put up with them, yeah, but some nights you don't come home until I'm asleep. Maybe I take offense!"
I only heard the first part.
"You put up with House Elves? You know what, Ron, you're right, House Elves are my life! They're apart of me, they're what I believe in. Ever since fourth year. Remember fourth year? Viktor Krum?"
I felt a strange, vindictive pleasure from bringing him into this. I hadn't seen Viktor Krum in years, but he was still a sore spot with Ron.
"Oh, don't you dare!" Ron shouted. "Don't you dare!"
"You knew what you were getting into when you fell in love with me!"
"Yeah, but I didn't know how powerfully you were obsessed with them!"
"So, what, you just don't like that part of me? You're not going to help me with something that's my passion?"
"I just don't care for it." Ron said stubbornly.
"You just don't... care." I breathed. "Okay. You don't care."
"Well, maybe you don't care enough about me to make this work."
"Wait- no- I care about you, just not House Elves!"
I continued on like I hadn't heard him.
"Maybe you don't care enough to make this worth it. Why don't we just quit now, Ron?"
He stared at me like a total and complete fool. I wanted so bad for him to fight for me, but he didn't. Instead, he stared at me, dumbstruck. I looked at him for a few seconds, waiting, then let out a disbelieving noise. I turned on my heel, grabbed my purse, and stormed out into the blizzard.
I spent the next few days like a walking, talking tornado, snapping at everyone in reach and whizzing around my office trying to put things together. I rewrote all the papers, and dictated things to my secretary sometimes so that I could multi-task. I did not go home, did not attempt to contact Ron, barely stopped to eat, didn't even bother with sleep. Sometimes, my secretary, Harry, or Ginny would bring my food. Ginny would attempt to talk to me about my fight with Ron. I never talked to her about it, but instead put her to work stapling, writing, or copying notes, doing my absolute best to recreate the beautiful presentation that I had worked so painstakingly hard to get perfect. It wouldn't be nearly as good, now, but it could be close as long as I kept on working constantly.
I finished thirty-four minutes before my presentation. I apparated quickly to my parent's house, and my mother swung the door open about ten seconds after I knocked.
"Hermione!" she said, examining my appearance with lovingly worried eyes.
"Hi, mum." I croaked.
"Oh, Hermione," she said, and she engulfed me into a hug, stroking my hair. It reminded me, rather painfully, of Ron. "What did you do to yourself?"
"Well, I had a fight with Ron, and I haven't been home to shower, eat, or sleep in three days." I told her. "And I've got this huge presentation in-" I glanced at my watch, "Thirty minutes. Can I shower and change?"
Ginny, upon my request, had gone to Ron and my flat and grabbed a business suit for me. I had shrunken it and placed it in my bag so that I could change at my mum's house.
"Of course." mum said, watching me as I stepped into the house and then closing the door behind me. "But don't you think Ron...?"
"No." I said shortly. "We're over."
His words had washed over me while I was working, and I couldn't help thinking that, if I hadn't been so obsessed with my job, the statement marry me might still apply right now. But I'd acted stupidly, and for that I would have to grow old alone, because I was never going to love someone like I loved Ron. I'd watch him move on, and marry some other woman, and she'd have his children and-
"Hermione? Sweetheart, you have twenty-eight minutes now."
"Right!" I said, and I shook Ron from my thoughts and rushed up the stairs. I took a speedy shower, put loads of concealer under my eyes, and piled on the make up to make me look like less of a ghost. I put on my neat, clean business suit, kissed my mother goodbye, and apparated to the ministry. I arrived exactly on time, strode into the courtroom with dignity, and within the next forty-five minutes presented my plan. The wizards listened closely, watching me as if x-raying me. When I was finished, I sat down in my seat and waited for them to confer. Finally, the Head Witch stood up. She had clear, ice blue eyes, graying hair, and glasses chained around her neck.
"Ms. Granger, please stand."
I stood, my knees shaking. This was it. This was what was going to tell me if all of my hard work, my time away from home, my fight with Ron, was all worth it.
"We, the Wizgamot, have decided to pass this law you call The House Elf Protection Act."
I felt like I was going to faint. I'd gotten it! It'd pulled through.
"Furthermore, we have decided to change one thing."
What? My stomach dropped.
"This law will not be called The House Elf Protection Act. It will be called The Granger Clause."
Oh my god. The witch lowered her glasses and peered kindly at me from over them.
"Ms. Granger, you've worked too long and hard for this not to be named after you. It's a wonderful idea."
Still lightheaded, I exited the courtroom, shook every hand and thanked every person who said congratulations, then left. It had passed. It was in my name. Why did I feel so awful? The answer was clear. It hadn't exactly been worth Ron and me breaking up... yes, I was so glad that the House Elves got these protection laws, but now the one thing I had wanted more then anything in the world was taken from me. Feeling dejected and cheated, I walked up the front steps of my parent's house and pushed open the door. Instantly, there was an outcry of,
"Congratulations!" and "Surprise!" and I looked around to see all of my friends and loved ones beaming at me. I looked around, searching for the one person I really, really wanted to see. Ginny went up to hug me, and as she squeezed me she whispered in my ear,
"He's not here. No one's seen him in three days. He won't let us in. Asks if it's you, Hermione, and when it's not he puts more protective charms up and walks away."
"Hermione, love, I bought you a new dress. It's very flowy, and pretty, and it's red and flowered, why don't you go change into it?"
I nodded, not really caring what I did, and went upstairs to change. A few minutes later, I was back downstairs at the party, smiling and laughing at the right intervals and really not trying to think about Ron, and how I had ruined everything by ruining my chances with him. It started to rain, reflecting my mood perfectly. And then, after a long time of faking happiness, there was a ring to the doorbell. My mother frowned, she wasn't under the impression anyone else was coming. I looked over at Ginny, too, to see if she had invited anyone, but she just shrugged.
"Could you get that, please, Hermione?" mum asked anyways.
"Sure." I told her blankly. I walked over to the door and threw it open. What I saw made my mouth fall open. Ron was standing there, wearing the same clothes he had been wearing the day we had our fight. His eyes were droopy and had huge black bags under them. His hair was plastered to his face. In his hand, he clutched... a book.
"Over a thousand pages." Ron shouted, raising the book into the air. "You think I don't care? Over a thousand pages in just three days, all for you, Hermione! I haven't eaten anything, I haven't slept, I haven't left the house. All I've done is read."
I was frozen on the doorstep, staring at him. The whole party had stopped and was looking at us.
"Want proof? Do you? Okay. Chapter twenty three. Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff made the decision to make the girls dorms un-accessible to boys when a boy named Bradely Batum tried to sneak into his girlfriend's dorm room. Chapter fifty nine, the first Triwizard Tournament happened. According to chapter sixty three, it's the only one known where at least one player didn't die."
My eyes were so wide.
"Chapter three?" I asked, my voice croaky.
"Chapter three." Ron said softly, walking up the steps and standing on the one right next to me, so that he was facing me, "States that you cannot apparate or dissaparate in or out of the Hogwarts Grounds."
The next thing, I had thrown myself on Ron and was kissing him, there, in the rain, so hard my lips began to bruise. He'd done it! He'd finally done what I'd been asking him to do since first year.
Ronald Weasley had read Hogwarts, A History.
We pulled apart, and he nuzzled my nose with his, then leaned his forehead against mine.
"So what about my question?"
"What question?" I asked, confused.
"The one where I got on my knee-" Ron got down, "Pulled out this ring box-" he did so, "Opened it-" In the ring box lay something sparkly... "And asked you to marry me."
"Ronald Weasley!" I said loudly. Then my voice softened. "You read Hogwarts, A History for me. Of course I'll marry you!"
Ron grinned and threw his arms around me. I melted into him, kissing him right away. After a brief snog, he pulled back, and whispered the most romantic sentences to me that he would ever say.
"They say that the key to a man's heart is through his stomach. Who would have known that the key to a woman's heart was through a book?"
"Well, maybe not all women." I teased.
"And maybe only one book." Ron agreed.
He held me closer, and I wouldn't be lying if I said that both of us were oblivious to the rain. Ron broke the peaceful silence first.
"But that women and that book were the only ones for me."
Overcome with a surge of emotions for my... fiancée, I kissed him again. He stopped kissing me and mumbled against my lips,
"No, actually, just the woman. I could do without the book."
A/N: So, Yeah, Ronald Weasley read Hogwarts, A History. Did any of you see that coming? If you did, I'd love for you to tell me where! I really hope you'll review... and, oh, for good measure... ROMIONE FOREVER! ~writergirl8