A/N: Don't own, don't sue. Reviews mean the world to me!
"I'm really worried about Alex."
I was sitting across a small table from Harry at Rizzoli's, one of our favorite Italian restaurants. I bit my lip and lowered my menu to see him looking at me sympathetically with his emerald green eyes. "I know you are, love," he said, taking my hand in his. "It's to be expected. But I'm sure she's fine. Ron's with her."
I shot him a critical look. "Since when did Ron's company ensure safety and well-being?"
"Good question," Harry replied, shrugging. "Well, anyway, she seems like a girl who's capable of handling herself."
"That's just it, Harry," I said, exasperated. "Why do you think she came to live with us? Because she couldn't handle herself."
"Yeah, why exactly is she living with us?" he asked, dropping my hand and looking at me expectantly. "Not that I'm complaining. I really don't mind, Hermione. But… you never told Ron and me what exactly was going on. And I don't think that's fair, seeing as you're not the only one involved in this."
I sighed heavily, blowing some hair out of my face unintentionally.
Harry was right, of course. I hadn't been completely honest with them when it came to Alex, mostly out of concern for her privacy. But still. They deserved to know the basics.
"Okay," I said, folding my arms across my chest. "Here are the basics, and you get nothing more. Alex has a right to her privacy, and she doesn't need you two snooping, got it?"
He looked as though he were about to protest, but he shut his mouth and nodded. "Got it, 'Mione. Ron and I won't 'snoop,' as you so charmingly put it."
"Can you really speak for Ron?"
"Well. No. But I can try."
That was the best I was going to get. So I continued, "Alex is my cousin. Her dad was my mother's brother."
"Was?" Harry echoed, looking concerned. "What do you mean 'was'?"
"He died when Alex was five," I told him, sadly remembering the funeral in America that I had attended. It had been a sad bleak affair. I had seen Alex at the funeral, but hadn't talked to her. She merely stood by the coffin, avoiding her mother, looking as though she were lost to another time, another place, perhaps even another world. "It was horrible. I don't know how he died, but it was certainly unexpected. My mum cried for weeks."
"I'm so sorry, Hermione." I offered Harry a small smile before I moved on.
"Anyway. I officially met Alex two years after that, when she and her mother came with my family to France for the summer. We got along very well, and we were the best of friends during that trip. But we lost touch a couple years later, when I started going to Hogwarts. I fear I was far too caught up in the excitement of it all that I forgot completely about my ties to the Muggle world, other than my parents. Anyway, it turns out that a couple years after we started at Hogwarts, Alex started at the American Academy for Gifted Witches and Wizards. She graduated a few weeks ago. Her mother, Aunt Sonia, wanted her to become a doctor. A Muggle doctor. But Alex doesn't want a Muggle job, understandably. When she refused to go to medical school, Aunt Sonia kicked her out and cut her off. She has very little money, no job, no home. My parents paid for her plane ticket here."
When I finished, Harry whistled long and low. "That's rough," he said. "Truly. So… what is she going to do?"
"I don't know exactly," I replied, trying very hard to keep my voice even. "Mum and Dad wanted us to take her in until she got back on her feet. You know, we're only a couple years older and we're wizards as well. But I'm not entirely sure what 'back on her feet' entails. I don't want to push her to find a job; she just got here after all! Besides, she's not a citizen of England. I'm not sure she'd be allowed a job here."
"Well, I'm sure a wizarding job would be different," he told me reassuringly. "If there are any problems, I can talk to Kingsley on her behalf."
"Oh, thank you, Harry," I said, taking his hand and squeezing it tightly. He smiled broadly at me. "But let's wait a while. Let her get settled in."
Harry frowned. "Speaking of Alex getting settled… have you noticed anything strange about the way Ron's been acting around her?"
Chuckling, I replied, "Yes, of course I have. I saw the looks he gave her at the airport yesterday. I've been on the receiving end of those looks enough to know what they mean. He's quite taken with her."
He nodded. "I'll say. I mean, he cancelled Quidditch plans today to look after her. I've never known Ron to cancel Quidditch plans."
My brow furrowed in confusion. "I thought the season was over…?"
"Oh, it is," Harry assured me. "But Ron and some of his teammates made plans to scrimmage this afternoon in one of his teammate's new indoor stadium, and he cancelled to look after Alex."
"Hmmm," I said, musing over the information he had just given me. "That's… fascinating. You don't… you don't think Ron will try anything, do you?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know for sure, but probably not for a while. You know how long it took him to try anything with you. And after…"
He hesitated, not wanting to bring up the breakup that had thrown off our equilibrium entirely. "After the break up," I supplied for him, waving my hand to make him continue.
"Right," he said, glancing down at his menu, "after that, I'm sure he'll be even more timid. Merlin knows he doesn't have the guts to even tell her how he feels right now."
"Giving me the tour" turned out to mean walking me down the street, pointing out a few things, and then taking me to his favorite Chinese restaurant.
Not that I was complaining- I loved Chinese food.
When I was on my sixth Diet Coke (I'm a very thirsty person, don't judge me for it), Ron looked at me and said hesitantly, "Um, Alex? I'd really appreciate it if that could be your last drink."
Looking at him over the top of the glass, I asked, "Why?" Then I realized, "Oh, shit! I'm so sorry, Ron! I forgot that they don't do free refills in Europe. Shit!"
"It's okay," he told me, shrugging. "You didn't know; don't worry about it."
"No, really," I told him earnestly. "I'll pay you back as soon as I have the money." Then, looking out the window, I sighed, "I miss America."
He looked up from his food, concern plastered all over his face. "Do you really? Are you homesick?" he asked, putting down his laden fork and reaching across the table. When I was sure he was going to grab my hand, he hesitated and withdrew slightly.
"I… I guess, I am," I admitted. "I mean… I don't miss my house. I don't miss anyone. But sure do miss Tennessee. I miss the food, the smell… the small town feeling of it all. God, I miss Chick-fil-a. And Waffle House."
"You miss what?" he asked, looking at me curiously.
"They're restaurants we have in the South," I explained. "And I sure do miss them. What does a girl have to do for some grits in this place?"
"Grits," Ron said, a smile spreading over his face. "I know what those are. They sell them at the supermarket. In a box."
I eyed him warily. "Well, I usually don't deign to eat my grits out of a package, but seeing as I'm in London, I suppose that'll have to do."
"What is all this rubbish?"
Ron was helping me unload the various food items he had purchased for me (I insisted on paying him back, but he wasn't having any of it). He held up a box of Kraft's Macoroni and Cheese. "'Phineas and Ferb' shapes?" he asked questioningly.
"Shut your mouth," I advised him playfully, stacking all the packs of Ramen in a corner of the counter. "You haven't lived until you've seen 'Phineas and Ferb.'"
"If you say so," he chuckled, lining the boxes of Macaroni and Cheese against the wall. "Okay, I think that's it."
"Is it?" I asked, frowning as I peered round the room at the now empty grocery bags. "Huh. Guess it is. We'll just have to go back there in a few weeks, I guess. But I'm paying next time." I poked him in the chest accusingly.
He smiled down at me, and I noticed that he had a good foot and half on me.
Fuck my height.
"We'll see," he teased. "So. What do you want to do?"
I sighed and plopped down at the table. "I don't know," I said, shrugging. "You're the one who lives here. Your tour," I pointed at him, "was pretty lame, you know."
"'Lame'?" he echoed, putting a hand over his heart dramatically. "I am mortally offended."
"I only speak the truth," I told him, smiling. "You showed me one street. That definitely does not count as a tour."
His blue eyes suddenly lit up. "You want me to show you something actually worthwhile?"
I nodded my head, interested in what he had planned. He took my hand and hauled me out the door without another word.
Half an hour later, I was standing inside the Battlefield. The Quidditch stadium of-
"You like the Chudley Cannons?" I choked out, looking around in awe, hardly daring to believe it was real.
He grinned. "You could say that."
"I thought I was the only one," I breathed out.
Oh sweet Merlin. Oh Merlin, I'm actually in the Battlefield! I think I've died and gone to heaven.
Then, a thought suddenly struck me. "How did you get us in here?" I asked. "Quidditch season doesn't start for another couple months."
His grin broadened. "Well, there are benefits to playing for the Chudley Cannons."
I swear my heart skipped a beat or two. "You play for the Cannons?" I breathed, gaping at him.
He nodded, putting his hands in his pockets. "I'm only a reserve, but Coach keeps telling me I'm next in line to start-"
I interrupted him, unable to contain my excitement. "Holy fucking shit! You play for the fucking Chudley Cannons!"
He seemed a little taken aback by my outburst, but I quickly hugged him to keep him from freaking out. "Oh Merlin, I'm hugging a Cannons player!"
Yep. I'm definitely in heaven.
His arms went around me tightly, and, with my head pressed into his chest (given our height difference), I could hear his heart beating rapidly. I felt my cheeks flush as I pulled away quickly. Avoiding his gaze, I asked hopefully, "Ron… is there any way we could… we could…?"
I trailed off, feeling certain that he would say no. He followed my gaze to the locker room and guessed, "Do you want to play some one-on-one?"
Turning to him, I beamed happily. "I would love too."
"Holy shit, you're good!" Ron huffed as we both landed on the spring grass of the Battlefield.
"Thanks," I said, hardly able to contain my elation at being praised by a professional Quidditch player. "I was Chaser on my grade's team all four years. I was Captain my senior year."
Ron looked at me curiously, but said nothing, and I realized that our school system was probably slightly different from theirs.
"Have you ever thought about playing professionally?" he asked, taking the broomstick from me and heading back toward the locker room to put the equipment away.
"Not really," I replied. "Honestly, I don't have a clue about what I want to do. But I do know I want a wizarding job."
"You'll figure it out soon enough," he told me, coming to stand next to me now. "You just graduated. I always knew I wanted to play Quidditch. But Harry and Hermione are just starting to think about their careers. They needed a few years off, after…"
"Voldemort?" I supplied. He winced when I used the name, but nodded. "Yeah, I would imagine. Actually, I can't. I can't imagine that. It all must have been so… so awful."
He looked away. "You got that right."
I opened my mouth to ask him what was wrong, but something made me shut up.
Ron was right there. He was there for all of it. Harry is the Boy Who Lived, and Ron's his best mate. I'm sure he's seen things I could never imagine. I'm sure he's had some tough losses.
So instead of talking, I grabbed his hand and pulled him out toward the street.
Months passed. Three, to be exact.
Harry landed a job in the Magical Law Enforcement Department, heading up the hunt for the few Death Eaters that remained on the run.
McGonagall wrote to me, offering me the position of Charms professor, as Flitwick had just tendered his resignation after the end of the school year. I accepted.
Ron, since he hadn't been working during the off-season, had been spending all his time with Alex. They had become rather good friends, and I had to admit, they looked cute together. Not that they were "together." But I was only a matter of time, as Harry and I both knew, even if Ron and Alex said nothing about it.
However, Alex had opened up with me one night when the boys were out with Neville, Dean, and Seamus. We were sitting on the couch in the den, watching television, when I asked, "So I see you've been spending time with Ronald. A lot of time, actually."
She blushed. "Yeah," she said. "But it's not like I have a much of a choice. Harry works every week day, and you seem to be reading all the time! I want to get out and see things!"
I guess I must've looked concerned, because she quickly added, "Not that I mind, 'Mione. Really. I understand that you're really excited about your job, and I'm really happy for you. Truly. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to sit around all day."
I smiled at her. "Understandable. Ron seems to be rather… taken with you."
She blushed an even more furious red color at this, the color of her cheeks reminding me of Ron's hair. "I don't know what you're talking about, 'Mione," she said.
"Oh, rubbish," I said. "He's cancelled plans for you. He buys you lunch every day. He bought you American food from the market so you'd feel more at home. So don't give me that rubbish."
"Fine," she said, sighing. "There is something there, I guess. But I think he's too scared to try anything."
"Then why don't you?" I suggested. "Ron's very timid when it comes to girls. You making the first move could get things started."
She made a face. "I'm not good with relationships. They never end well for me."
I shot her a questioning look. "Everyone always leaves me," she said simply. I forced her to elaborate, but I'd rather not think about it. It was incredibly upsetting, and I wasn't completely innocent.
Anyway, things settled into a routine. Ron and Alex hung out, I prepared for my teaching post, and Harry worked. We would all eat dinner together. On the weekends, we usually took a trip to somewhere outside of the city, somewhere we thought Alex would like. Then the routine would start again.
That is, until Harry broke the routine by getting down on one knee in the middle of Sharpsbury Avenue.
"Hermione, I know we've only been together for several months, but I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
There was no question.
And, of course, I said 'yes.'
A week later, we were fretting about how Ronald would take the news. He seemed so happy while he was hanging out with Alex. He seemed to truly fancy her. I didn't want this news to throw him back into a funk. But what could we do? I hated lying to them, and if I told Alex, I would have to tell Ron.
So we decided to surprise them by coming back to the flat for lunch one day. And we would tell them then.
It just… it just happened one morning. Sometimes, I'm still not entirely sure how.
It started off like every other day at the flat in the London. I woke up around ten (which was actually on the early side for me) to find Ron parked in front of the television, waiting for me to get up. "Morning," I greeted him, walking into the den and sitting next to him on the couch, tucking my legs underneath as was my custom.
"Good morning," he said cheerfully, smiling down at me. "You ready for an adventure?"
"Always," I replied.
"Oh, one thing, Alex," he told me, his cheerful mood dampened slightly. "Next week is the last week I'm going to be able to have off. Spring training starts in two weeks, so I'm afraid… you're on your own with your cousin after that."
I grimaced. "Great. I'll have to drag her out of the apartment- I mean, flat."
Ron chuckled. "Well. I hope you've had a good time with me these past few months."
I nodded eagerly. "I really have. Thank you so much, Ron. It's been great."
And then before I knew it, he was kissing me. He swooped in, so that I saw nothing but red hair and just gave me a quick peck on the lips, nothing more.
I sat there, stunned and staring at him. "Sorry," he mumbled, blushing a bright red color. "Sorry, I just had to once. Don't worry about it, it won't happened again."
Rolling my eyed, I grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled his face to mine. "Don't apologize," I told him softly. Then I kissed him.
There was nothing short or sweet about the kiss this time. It was all passion and longing and pent up sexual desire. My tongue was in his mouth before long. He pulled back, moaning a little, and began kissing my neck, sucking on my skin in a way was sure was going to leave a hickey.
Then he pulled back, looking at me seriously. "I… I… wow," he said, seemingly speechless.
I gave him a quick peck on the lips. Then I stood. "Come on," I said, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet. He grinned and wrapped his arms around my waist. Let's go have that adventure."
A/N: I know, I know. It's only the second chapter and they're together! Don't worry though. More drama is coming soon. I promise! There's probably one chapter of complete happiness, then- disaster strikes. Stay tuned!