The argument starts the same and ends differently, finally tipping and hurtling off of the edge. It's hardly a surprise when she collapses onto the edge of the sofa, elbows on her knees and fingers gripping her hair, gritting out "This isn't working." It's hardly a surprise, but it still hurts, makes Ron's heart scream in his chest.

The times of defeating villains and laughing under the night sky are over and done with. Real life has set in and Hermione is "making a name" for herself in the field of research while Ron "has no ambition." He "doesn't live up to his potential" and damnit all to hell she "can't stomach it anymore." Can't- can't look at him like she loves him anymore because she doesn't, not when he isn't passionate enough. Not when she's "in love with someone else-"

"What?" The word is sharp, like a gunshot in the small room, and he can see her shoulders hitch.

"I- Ron..." she raises her head, runs her fingers through her hair and down over her face, only to let them fall, the sound that they make when they slap down onto her legs loud and resigned. "I didn't mean for this to happen. Neither of us did-"

"Us?" His face burns. "Us? I didn't- Who's us?"

Magically straightened teeth tug at a pink bottom lip and she better answer right now before he looses it-

"Ron..." The word is pleading, begging for him to understand. And he does. It clicks into place and breaks something inside of him.

As he turns to gather his coat and wand, he can't help but think it's a nice change that she actually had enough faith in him to think he'd catch on so quickly.

o o o

"What are you going to do now?" The words are quiet and serious. A tone that used to be so rare is now the base of George's being, running through the parts deep inside of him that no one can reach.

"I. I don't know. I need to stay here until she's out. Can I?"

His brother nods. There's always room empty here now.

Ron sleeps on the couch anyway.

o o o


Read how Hermione Granger, a third of the Golden Trio, has sacked Ron Weasley for The Boy Who Lived. How is Weasley handling it? And how does Harry feel about breaking up this century's It couple? PLUS: Ginevera Weasley Speaks. Page 15

o o o

He's gotten better. A lot better at controlling his temper and mood swings. The testimonial of such the very fact that Harry isn't lying face up on his living room floor.

"Ron." And it's said in the same pleading tone as Hermione's but it hurts more, cuts deep to the quick, because this is Harry. His best friend. The one Ron almost died for more times that he can count. The one he followed into the darkness, and laughed with late into the night, and the reason why he endured how it felt to have Voldemort tangling with his soul, reaching in through his mother's knitted sweater to fester in his chest. Harry who could have anyone.

It hurts more than anything.

But Ron is tired and frustrated. He's standing in the middle of the flat, now half empty, and he's so tired. So when he tells Harry to get out, the statement snaps and floats in the air like a blanket on a line, threatening to smother. And when the fire flares, and the room is empty, Ron is relieved.

o o o

His mother is worried. His father too. Ginny, and Charlie, and Bill. God, even Percy gets a furrow in his brow when he looks at Ron, and Percy doesn't give a shit about anyone besides himself.

"Everything alright?" Bill asks, hushed and strained. They're sitting in front of the fire, and Ron can hear his mother bustling around the kitchen behind them.

"Yeah, of course." It's a lie, one that comes automatically. They all know the answer, proof of such in the fact that neither Harry nor Hermione have been by the Burrow, the threat of mum's thinning lips and flashing eyes enough to keep them away.

Bill stays quiet, eyes concerned, but Charlie jumps in and answers for him. "You look like shit, little brother. You've lost so much weight. When's the last time you ate? When's the last time you slept?" He leans in, elbows on his knees.

The minutes tick by and Ron doesn't answer.

He doesn't know.

o o o

He sees her in a pub, in Ireland. England was a prison and he needed to escape, so this is where he ends up, in some nameless pub, nestled in a town surrounded by hills of viridian.

It's been two months and he can breathe a little easier.

The place is loud, raucous and cheerful like any respectful pub on a Friday night. He has his ale (dark, rich, bitter enough that the first few sips made your forehead wrinkle) and is sitting alone in a corner booth when he spots her sitting at one of the high tables scattered about the place.

Her skin is light, like coffee that is five sixths milk, as if somewhere down the line some one darker than lily white had woven themselves into her family tree. The mahogany of her long, thick hair spills wildly down a slender back in waves, and makes the light aqua green of her slanted eyes stand out vividly. As he watches, she slides off of her stool and he notices she was a tiny thing, barely higher than the very table she's just vacated, but even from across the room she seems larger than life, smile clever and wide.

But the thing that gets Ron the most, the thing that blows the bitter thoughts of Harry and Hermione out of his mind, makes him want to put down his tankard and take this girl into his scarred arms, are her freckles. They're everywhere, cinnamon powder held in a cupped palm as the wind blows gently. They're scattered across the bridge of her nose and cheeks, down onto her bare shoulders and trickling down her back. Ron wants to kiss every one of them, has the sudden, primal urge to bury his face against her throat and hear her gasp.

A practiced, familiar hand gesture and the barkeep is going over, eight shot glasses balancing in the air. Four before her and the rest before the burly man who sits with her.

The group around watches, grinning and cat calling as she holds up her fingers counting, one two three, and the race begins. She downs all four mini glasses with ease, the clear liquid disappearing quickly. Slamming the last one down, she throws those thin freckled arms into the air and gives a laugh of victory.

As Ron watches, she laughs and slaps the loser's arm playfully, gentle teasing evident along with affection. The crowd disperses somewhat and for the rest of the night, she and the man talk and laugh, and her eyes glitter in the darkened light, and Ron watches.

She reminds him of someone.

o o o

The owl isn't a surprise. What is, is how long it took to finally arrive.

Not that it matters.

Once he sees Hermione's quick scrawl on the envelope it goes straight into the fire of the room he's currently renting, filling the small space with the smell of charred ink and parchment.

He feeds the owl a few treats before it shows itself to the open window.

o o o

It's his third night at the same pub by the time Ron strikes up enough confidence to approach her. It's all for naught, because she gets to him before he can get to her. She slides into his booth, lithe and graceful, and Ron's beer goes down the wrong pipe.

"Hi." Her voice is high, little, and charming. It fits her perfectly.

Coughs. "Hi."

They stare at each other, the buzz of the place not quite loud enough to push away the awkwardness creeping in.

"I'm Ron," he says. "Ron Weasley."

She nods. "Siobhan Finnigan."

The resemblance strikes him when the surname hits his ears, and even though he's sure there are hundreds of Finnigans in Ireland Ron asks anyway. "Related to Seamus by any chance?"

She nods, laughing, eyes shining. "Yeah. Oh Lord, he's infamous ain't he? What'd he do this time 'round?"

The smile pulls at Ron's mouth, feeling out of place after being away for so long. "Nothing lately. That I know of anyway." Haven't been around much. "Nah, we used to go to school together. Roommates."

"Falling asleep to the dulcet tones of him pulling one out, I'm sure."

Even as he laughs he feels the flush rip across his skin. "Some nights, yeah. Forgot the Silencing charm."

Another laugh like wind chimes and then she's leaning forward, hands wrapped around her bottle, eyes warm. "That's Seamus for you. But enough about my inappropriate cousin. Tell me about yourself."

Ron doesn't know why the request is so startling. Maybe because he can't remember the last time anyone wanted to know him and him only. No questions about his life followed up with the phrase And how does Harry feel about that? "What? Like what?"

"Anything." She grins. "It's the reason why I came over here, isn't it?"

Ron shrugs. "Not much to tell."

She looks at him for a long moment. Says softly, "I doubt that."

o o o

Siobhan Finnigan is one year younger than Ron at twenty one years old. Her exact height is five feet one inch. Her parents decided to send her to Beauxbatons instead of Hogwarts because they felt like she needed more culture, only to have their dreams of a poised young woman shattered when a hellion came back in her place. She can hold her liquor better than someone twice her size and has a truly wicked sense of humor. Her favorite color happens to be the same shade of blue as Ron's eyes and she works at an animal hospital for magical breeds. She dances ballet and has cat named Sadie. She can't walk in high heels and has a penchant for putting flowers in her hair.

Ron finds most of this out in the booth at the bar. The rest as they lay breathless on the bed in his room, sweaty and tangled in the sheets.

There's something about her though, something fragile and delicate, something that already has Ron thinking that he has to be careful with her. It showed in the way she trembled when he kissed her softly, and the sound she made when he whispered I've got you into the shell of her ear as he pushed inside.

He knows that she wants something real.

Ron figures this out when she whispers the words against his mouth, sugar sweet tongue running underneath the edge of his lip, sending shivers down his spine.

And maybe it's a little soon, but Ron wants something real too.

o o o

Another owl, this time from Harry.

The parchment sits on the bedroom dresser for three hours before it's thrown into the fire.

o o o

They're sitting on the grass, and everything is so green. The wind rushes past, sweetly, and Ron closes he eyes for a moment. He looks at her, barefoot in her little blue dress and hair fluttering in the wind. Siobhan doesn't look at him when she speaks, choosing instead to pull the grass from the dirt. "You helped saved the world." The words are quiet.

Ron shrugs. It's the first time in the three weeks that they've met that she's even mentioned anything about what he's done, despite the fact that she gets the Prophet every morning. "Nah, that was all Harry."

She wrinkles her nose. "I don't think I like him very much. I'm on the fence really."

"And why's that," and Ron can't help but be a little amused, not when her nose scrunches like that.

"Well, what he did was really shitty. What both of them did really." She tugs at the grass, again and again, slender fingers diligent. "But if they hadn't been awful, I wouldn't have met you."

"You might have."

"I wouldn't have been able to have you."

He doesn't contradict that statement. It's probably true. "Good thing, then." He says it low and she still doesn't look up, but he can see the small smile that quirks her lips.

o o o

He has a meeting at the Ireland branch of the Ministry and she needs to let out some tension. She'd been tense and snappy the entire morning. With an apology kiss, she asks him to meet her at the studio on the corner of Grande and Shippings when he's all done.

When he arrives she's not outside, so Ron slips in. The sound of music muffles his steps as he walks down a short hallway, following the melody that echos in the space. He stops in the doorway and watches.

She's flying. Twisting and leaping, hair wild. She hasn't seen him yet, and she's lost, smiling as she twirls, toes pointed, arms and legs extended, both graceful and fluid. The music crashes and swells, something wild with violins and pianos that Ron has never heard before, and every move she makes blends seamlessly, as if she composed the piece herself with every motion in mind. The violins fade and then it's just the piano, rising and rising, keys banging and she's spinningspinningspinning, perfectly on one foot like those ballerinas in the music boxes mum always kept out of reach. A laugh bursts forward, a sound of such pure joy that it seems to make the room brighter. When the music ends suddenly, she takes a final leap, arms raised and back arched, legs extended, and Siobhan falls - doesn't bother to land on her feet, choosing instead to collapse onto the floor in a breathless, heap, staring up at the ceiling.

Ron watches as her chest heaves up and down, hands coming up to brush the damp hair away from her face. She lays there for a few minutes before shaking out her shoulders and rising to her feet in one fluid movement.

In the mirror he can see that her expression has changed, eyes sad and expression aching. She roughly brushes away the few tears that have fallen and Ron feels the sudden urge to kiss her senseless. It's mixed with the same urge he felt that same night, to be careful so that she doesn't break. There's something going on there, but he doesn't know what.

She bends to gather her bag and its when she straightens up that she catches sight of him in the mirror. The aching expression leaves, and another grin, this time entirely for him, lights up her face.

"Hey," she says quietly when she stands in front of him, skin dewy from sweat and neck a little flushed. "Thought you were going to wait outside."

When he gathers her face in his hands, cradling her skull gently and bends to kiss her lips softly, Ron hears a small sound get stuck in the back of her throat. She squeezes her eyes shut as she grips his wrist tightly and presses her body closer.

o o o

Call him old fashioned, but Ron is a one woman kind of bloke. Besides Hermione (and he doesn't count Lavender) he hasn't had any other girlfriends. He doesn't do one night stands, or meaningless sex, because, well, it's not for him. He loves the idea of being with the same person forever. Loves the security and stability the notion brings. Sees what his mother and father have and intends to have the same.

When he was younger, all of his strong emotions came out in frustration, and anger, and blind loyalty. Nowadays it resembles more of falling hard and fast, not really intending to ever look back.

In short, he's not a commitment-phobe.

That's Harry's department.

o o o

Their fingers are laced and Siobhan is looking for a book on how to deal with fussy baby Crups when Neville rounds the corner.

"Ron! Hey." His friendly face splits into a grin.

"Hey, Nev. What're doing here?"

Neville holds up a thick, brown leather bound book. "Need new methods to tame Devil's Snare. I've got a new strain that doesn't respond as intensely to light so…" He shrugs and Ron smiles. "How've you been? We haven't seen you around lately." The reason why hangs in the air, unspoken.

"Yeah, I was Ireland for a while. Still am actually. This one wanted to come to Diagon," he tugs gently on Siobhan's hand, and she curls easily into him.

"Hello," she holds her hand out for Neville to shake. "Siobhan Finnigan. And you must be Neville."

Neville nods and shakes her hand. He casts Ron a mildly surprised look, but his lips twitch into a pleased smile as he and Siobhan talk about Calming Draughts and their effect on still developing animals.

Ron ducks his head, tips of his ears warming slightly, but he doesn't let go of her hand.

o o o

Heard you're dating my cousin. Good luck to ye.

Come have a fucking pint.


Ron grins at Seamus' short letter and places it in his beside table.

o o o

He rolls over and her side of the bed is empty. Getting to his feet he shuffles down the hallway, only to stop when he hears her voice. "...really nice. And his hair, Gran! I love it. So red and thick. And he's got these freckles on his back-"

He hears the tinkle of a laugh, older, what Siobhan's will be later on down the road. "Well, I'm glad you like him, dear. But the most important thing is that he's treating you the way you deserve."

"I really do. And he is, Gran. Better than I deserve really. He's wonderful. And smart. He speaks sometimes and... I don't know. He's just, I like him a lot." The way her voice sounds makes Ron's heart jump and his stomach erupt with butterflies.

"I'm sure it will all work out."

"I hope." And she really does sound like she means it. "But they never tend to stick around do they." Her words are met with silence for a few moments, and he can imagine the face on the other side of the Floo giving her a sad look.


"S'alright." Falsely chipper, hardly convincing. "He's here for now, until I become to much for him to handle. Anyway, I need to get back to bed. Work in the morn-"

"Siobhan." Forceful in a gentle way. "It will work out. I can feel it."

"Thanks, Gran." But she still sounds defeated, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Night. Love you."

"Love you too, dear."

The fire goes out, and Siobhan sits in the dark. Ron can't see her expression, but he can imagine. He backs away slowly and slips back into bed. Ten minutes later, she gets in as quietly as she can. He waits until she's settled to roll over and pull her back into his chest.

o o o

After another meeting at the Ireland branch, he Floos into her flat and calls out her name.

There's no answer and he finds Siobhan sitting on the floor at the end of her bed, back against the chest she keeps there. There's a little bottle full of cerulean blue liquid cradled in her palms and she doesn't look up when Ron sits down in front of her.

They sit quietly for a few minutes, and its when he raises his hand to tuck her hair behind her ear that she looks up, that aching look in her eyes again.

"It makes you feel good." It's not a question. She nods, and presses her face against his palm, as if savoring the feel of his hand. As if he won't ever want to touch her again after finding out that she does this. He runs a thumb over the thin skin underneath her eye. He takes the bottle from her hand and twists off the cap. A pearly sheen rises from the opening and the smell of cherries wafts through the air. "We're still young," he whispers and raises the bottle to his mouth. Tips it to place a drop on his tongue before taking a hold of her chin. Her lips fall open automatically and he drops a small amount on her palate.

As he screws the top back on, he can feel it taking effect already, his body floating, his skin feels like clouds and her hands in his hair like a warm spring breeze. "Feels good," he murmurs against her lips. He has the fleeting thought that his mum would kill him if she knew he was doing this, experimenting with drugs, but damnit all, it's his life. He wants to feel something different, for once.

o o o

He wakes up to a room bathed in grey light and a finger tracing the line of his nose. Images from last night flash to the forefront of his mind.

"What're you doing?" The words are a rumble in his chest, still rough from sleep.

"Nothing," she answers softly. Her finger still moves, down the bridge, back up, dancing across freckles, then across his forehead. He stays still, lets her explore, all the while his heart tight. He's never been looked at the way she's looking at him now. Like he's the world. Her hair is a thick tumble of curls and her shoulders are silken and bare. Even though she's covered up from the sheets he knows that she's naked, can feel the heat coming from her skin, remembers undressing her slowly just a few hours ago. Her long eyelashes frame sleep heavy eyes and Ron's breath catches for the hundredth time at how utterly beautiful she is.

After a few minutes the fingers stop tracing his skin, and Siobhan palms his cheek briefly before sliding it up to push his hair away from his forehead. She rests it there, palm warm and dry, taking in everything. He doesn't know what she's looking for but for some reason he isn't nervous at what she'll find.

Fingers slide into his hair as she shifts with a loud exhale and then she's pressed against his side, nails scratching gently at his scalp, the bend of her elbow cradling his chin. Her cheek is warm against his chest and he's sure that she can hear the harsh beating of his heart, but she only presses a kiss to his flesh as if to soothe him.

With a press of his hand against the curve of her arse, she tangles their legs together, skin on skin, satin flowing over him.

Before he drops off, Ron takes note that the aching look is gone from her eyes.

o o o

She's hot and alive in his arms, chest pressed against his own, knees bracketing his hips and sinking into the overly soft sofa. His hands are massive on her small waist, the skin of his palms damp where they slide underneath the dark green shirt and onto smooth skin. The room is hot, too hot, Ireland's summer just as brutal as Scotland's and London's but Ron doesn't care. His heart is beating fit to burst. He feels wild and out of control, electric, as their sweat mingles and she grinds down into his lap.

This, this is what he needs. This right here, this girl in his lap, her hands tangled in his too long hair and laughing sweetly into his mouth, all his. Whispers of, "bad influence" and "need you" drifting over his drug sensitized skin. He has no idea where she got the tiny vial full of sloshing gold liquid that so resembled Felix, but Ron didn't hesitate when she'd dropped a spot of it onto her tongue and slid inside of his mouth, sharing the taste.

His nerves buzz and velvet is everywhere, hanging in the air, sinking into his skin. So good, feels so good-

She pulls back and he follows; laughs when he buries his face into her neck, sweet with the perfume she put on earlier and musky from the humidity and arousal. His teeth slide slick and sloppy over the skin of her throat and the resulting wiggle makes his hips buck up into her. Grins when he feels the shudder run through her body. She sways back, and he pulls forward and it's like flowing water as she falls into him, shirt now up and over her head, dropped to the floor.

"RonRonRonRon…" and then his shirt is off too, his hands are back on burning skin, and her delicate hands are tugging at the button of his jeans and this, this is what- this is what he needs.

o o o

"Spoke to Hermione today." Ginny's legs swing from her perch on the tire swing. Ron says nothing, content to stare up at the cloudless sky and enjoy the warm breeze on his skin. "She and Harry are having a rough time of it."

He blinks.

"She was going on and on about how he won't commit. It's been six months. I think she expected a ring already. Which is absurd, seeing as how it's Harry for God's sake." Ron smirks at that, because it's true. Harry always wanted the wife and kids, but somehow wanted to skip everything in between.

"Anyway, she said that she's thinking she made a mistake. Leaving you." Ginny's tone is lofty, purposely aloof, and Ron doesn't know how to respond to that. A few moments pass in silence. Then- "Expect an owl, any day now."

He closes his eyes.

o o o

He Floos in to find her curled up on the couch. He thinks she's asleep, until he hears the shuddering inhale. It's not the first time he's found her like this, upset and angry with no idea why. Her emotions are like a roller coaster - up one minute, down the next and Ron doesn't understand. But he kicks off his shoes, and sheds his coat before curling up behind her, covering her small body with his.

He ignores the way she apologizes, choosing instead to kiss her neck, burying his face into the soft skin and inhaling deeply.

o o o

The pub is loud, shouts, and laughter, and a group of elderly drunken wizards in one corner that keep bursting into choruses of Nellie Dean. Still, it's nothing compared to the clubs Siobhan has taken him to when they're both on a high. While Ron has come to enjoy those immensely, he still feels a certain kind of warmth when he sits in the Three Broomsticks. It's so like home, it makes his heart squeeze a little too tightly for a moment.

He's currently nursing an ale. Some fancy imported shite that he's treating himself to – he thinks he deserves it. He hasn't said one snide thing to Harry or Hermione all night. He hasn't said anything at all really, but that's the point, isn't it? One step at a time and all that. Seamus, Dean, and Neville are also crammed into the booth, Luna perched on Neville's lap.

"So!" Seamus turns to Ron and raises one eyebrow. "Me cousin? And how's that workin' out fer ya?"

Suddenly all the attention is on Ron and he shifts in his seat, ignoring the way the edge of his shirt rides up against the leather seat. Usually he'd be embarrassed, with every eye on him, but he's gotten used to the way Siobhan's gaze burns. This right here? Nothing compared to that.

"Excellent." The words come around a grin wrapped around the neck of his beer bottle. "Really excellent. She's… she's something else."

Seamus' snort of laughter follows his words. "I bet." He takes a hearty swig of the dark beer in his flagon. "I love the girl, Lord knows I do, but she's mad. I don't know how you blokes do it. She likes you though. Talks about you more than the others. You should probably be afraid."

Ron ducks his head and laughs, rubbing at the back of his neck which has grown quite warm with Seamus' words. When he looks up, he catches Harry's gaze. Green eyes hesitant, his lips trying for a smile. Ron looks away.

"Yeah, well," he says, ignoring the hurt that floats across the table, "I like her more than the others too." Understatement. She runs hot, sizzling through his veins. "So, I guess it's working out."

Seamus grunts his agreement. "She coming tonight?"

"Yeah," Ron nods and takes another swallow. The buzz is starting. "Yeah, she should be here soon. Said she had to close up shop."

"Good. I miss her daft arse."

Conversation moves on, Neville's chin resting on Luna's shoulder as he tells about this massive plant in his garden that tried to devour him alive. Their table adds to the laughter of the place, and its easy to ignore the way he can feel Hermione's gaze on the side of his face.

He didn't lie; he does like Siobhan more than the others. He never felt the way he does with her with Hermione. What he and Hermione had was warm and familiar. Not totally safe, because Ron still has a mending heart and two less friends. But safe enough. What he and Siobhan have...

"Hey." The whisper in his ear sends sparks down his spine and the cool hand that rests on the bare skin of his lower back melts his bones. God, every time she does this. Instantaneous and Ron is hooked. The noise fades from the room as he turns to face her. Powder sugared freckles, sharp smile, and warm eyes. Thick hair mussed from rushed Apparition and cheeks flushed pink.

He pulls her in, tiny and soft against his hands, into his lap and she goes easily, laughing slightly. He grins back, nuzzling her nose, skimming her lips with his own. The buzz that started with the beer has been taken up a notch. When he slips one hand into her hair, pulling her in for a full on kiss, something, the same part of him every time, snaps into place. He barely hears the hoots and cat calls.

"Hey." His greeting his low and spoken against her smile, a little delayed. By the way she looks fondly at him and smoothes his hair away from his forehead, Ron doesn't think she minds too much.

"About damn time," Seamus says loudly, grinning at his cousin.

"Oh shut up." Siobhan laughs and leans over to tug on Seamus' hair. "Missed me that much then?"

"More like I'm sick of your damn owl poking me to death every time it delivers a letter."

"He still hasn't forgotten how you tried to turn him pink."

"I was seven."

Siobhan shrugs and leans into Ron, who presses a kiss to her bare freckled shoulder. "Messed with the wrong owl I suppose."

Seamus rolls his eyes and Siobhan turns to the rest of the table. "Since Ron doesn't seem as if he's going to introduce me anytime soon, I'll do the honors." Ron tweaks her side and she squirms, laughs. "I'm Siobhan. And Seamus is, unfortunately, my ridiculous cousin." Seamus flicks his bottle top at her, but she dodges it.

They all wave and grin, introducing themselves one by one. Harry's eyes are slightly wide and Hermione carefully polite.

Once it's all over with, Siobhan turns to Neville. "Hey, I keep meaning to send you an owl; have you been growing any Puffapods? I've some kittens at the shelter and crazy things would go mad with joy if they had a few."

Ron lets their words fade into the background. With his palm resting underneath her shirt, gentle on the curve of her belly and his cheek against her shoulder, he feels content. He reaches for his bottle again, and this time he can't prevent his eyes from sliding to Hermione's. Where her gaze was weary before, now it's reproachful, maybe even a little betrayed. Not that that makes any type of sense – she's the one who left him. Said he wasn't passionate enough, didn't have any ambition, no drive. She has no right to look at him like that. He looks over to Harry, who tries to smile at him again, and this time Ron smiles back. It's the most he can do right now, especially when what he really wants is to tell Harry to be careful.

o o o

They lay on the carpet. Bright colors are on the ceiling, bending and molding, acting out scenes of Ron's childhood. Memories he forgot he had. Siobhan shifts beside him, throwing a lazy leg over his own and rests her chin on his chest. He looks down at her – light, light green rim her huge pupils and he knows, somewhere in his mind, that his eyes are the same - mirror images except that his ring of green is denim blue.

She raises her slender fingers to touch his lips, tugging the bottom down slightly and he feels the press of a pill, chalky, against the wet, inside flesh. It dissolves on his tongue like bursts of champagne and they both giggle as she pops one like candy.

The warm line of her body smoothes further up his own and she spreads a whole palm on the side of his face. She's so small, so delicate compared to him. She's lovely, she's beautiful. There are bubbles in his nose, and in his brain, under his skin, and she's the air and the sky. Everything. Right here, holding him in her palm.

She opens her mouth, closes it again. Grins. "I love you, you know."

Music notes dance in the air.

o o o

Grindle Grounds popped up a few years ago and is kind of Ron's secret pleasure. It serves tea, and coffee, and hot apple cider. The cases are full of crèmes, pastries, and cookies, and there are plush couches and chairs covering almost every inch. Soft music plays and the crowd is quiet, usually so immersed in a book or text that they don't even realize there are other people in the place.

He's sitting in an insanely comfortable couch, Siobhan curled up against his side, face pressed to his throat. Their teas rest on the table, cold and forgotten as her lips caress the sensitive skin behind his ear, whispering nonsense words, sweet sentiments in Gaelic, and dropping light kisses.

He's in heaven. Her hand lies on his stomach, moving up and down, sometimes straying a little to far down and Ron feels her grin against his skin when his hips cant upwards involuntarily, his fingers curling around the back of her neck. She's driving him mad.

That's why it takes him a few moments to realize someone is standing in front of them. Hazy eyes focus on Hermione, shifting from foot to foot, an impossibly large tome held in hand.

"Hermione." Siobhan greets her first, and her voice is still husky from mild arousal.

"I didn't know you two came here." Hermione's voice sounds high and pitchy to Ron's ears. Her cheeks are flushed pink.

"It's my first time actually." Siobhan pulls slightly away from Ron, but stays close. "I've never been before, but Ron loves the place so I figured why not."

"Oh." She looks to Ron now. "I didn't know you liked it here." Ron shrugs, disinterested. He knows what she really means; I didn't know you liked to come to places that actually carry books. He doesn't get into it though, doesn't want to be having this conversation right now, or at all. Her hair, her eyes, her skin, everything that used to enthrall Ron about Hermione is gone. When he looks at her now he feels nothing even close to what he used to feel when they first started dating. Now she's an irritant, a pest that won't stop sending him owls, or trying to Floo, or looking at him reproachfully.

"Do you come here often?" Siobhan asks and Ron ignores Hermione's answer, absently lifting his girlfriend's hand to his mouth to kiss her knuckles. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Hermione sit in the small armchair across from their couch and he remembers Ginny's words.

"Where's Harry?"

There is a slight pause before Hermione answers. "Oh, about. Probably at the Ministry. It's where he always is these days anyway." Slightly bitter, enough to be awkward. Ron doesn't comment, even though they both know that that is where Harry always was even before he and Hermione started dating. Why she expected that to change is anyone's guess.

It's a pattern, Ron realizes in that moment, Hermione always wanting people to change.

"What's he do over there?" Siobhan asks politely. She must know, she does get the Prophet every morning.


"Oh, like Ron."

Hermione stares. "Ron's not an Auror."

"I am actually," he cuts in. "Tactical division for the Ireland branch." He got the job weeks ago, but didn't want to make a big deal about it all. The only people who know about it are his family, Neville, and Siobhan.

"Good for you." She doesn't sound like she means it.

"It's a wonderful opportunity," Siobhan continues, eyes warm as she looks over at him. "He's still helping, but in a logical way, you know? He stays behind, makes important decisions, but I don't have to worry about him getting hurt in the field."

"And the pay's not anything to kick in the face, either."

"Oh, and!" she bounces slightly in her seat, pulling her feet underneath herself. "There's talk of him being promoted, already. The Minister wants him." Ron feels his face heat but says nothing in the face of her praise. He slides down further in his seat and presses his lips to the back of Siobhan's hand again.

"Well," Hermione says, voice floundering as if at a loss. "That's impressive Ron. I'm happy for you."

"Thanks. I figured it was time I get my business in order, made a name for myself." It's a dig, but he doesn't look at her face to see the reaction his words bring. He's tired of this awkward stilted conversation, and wants to get back to what was happening before his ex- girlfriend decided to invite herself over. Putting aside all pretenses of being polite company, he pulls Siobhan into his arms and whispers against her ear, "gonna wear your school kit for me later. Hm?" Teeth on her earlobe, hand caressing the side of her face, and the resulting shiver makes him grin.

"Ron," she admonishes quietly. Her face is pink, but the liquid excitement in her eyes makes his heart beat faster.

"I should be going." Hermione rises from her seat, expression shuttered.

"No, stay. Ron was just-"

"No, I have somewhere else to be anyway." Her smile is stiff.

"Tell Harry I said hello." He throws it out there, a little meanly.

"You could send him an owl that says the same thing." The words simmer in anger, but all Ron does is grin.

"Nah." And then he's kissing Siobhan's throat, and- Hermione who?

o o o


Rumors of infidelity.

Granger still pines for ex, Ron Weasley.

Jealousy. Betrayal. And who is the new woman on Weasley's arm? Turn to page 12 for full story.

The Daily Prophet lies on the kitchen table, face up, headline blaring for all to see. But Ron hardly notices, not when there's an inked in mustache absently drawn over Harry's picture.

God, he loves this woman.