Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series.
A/N: Title taken from a chapter of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
October 22, 2000
"EEE!" Lavender shrieked, throwing her arms around Hermione's neck.
"Hey, give her a chance to walk in!" Ginny said, prying Lavender away. Ginny led Hermione to a table in the café where Parvati and Luna were sitting, beaming.
"Congratulations, Hermione!" Luna said, more visibly joyful than Hermione had ever seen her stoic friend. "I always knew you two would be married, right from the start."
"Congrats, hun!" Parvati chirped, kissing Hermione on the cheek. "Ginny owled me last night and told me he proposed. Now, details!"
"Wait! First things first. Let's see that ring!" Lavender said.
Hermione held out her left hand. A square diamond sat surrounded by tiny ruby and topaz stones, banded together with white gold. All of the girls ooh'ed and ahh'ed at the ring's brilliance. "It used to be his great-grandmum Weasley's."
"Goblin-made?" Lavender interjected.
"Goblin-made and modernized. It was originally just a diamond ring, but Ron took it to the goblin gem shop in Godric's Hollow and added these stones all around to make it—"
"Gryffindor colors!" Parvati squealed.
Ginny and Lavender were awestruck, but Luna had pulled out her Spectrespecs and was inspecting the ring closely. "It is quite beautiful, but those rubies are false. They're just crystalized Wrackspurt blood. You must polish this ring with cooking oil every night or else your finger will eventually lose its skin and fall off."
An awkward silence fell over the table, but Ginny soon broke it. "Well, it's nice to know my brother did something right for a change. I don't know about the rest of you lot, but I want to hear how he proposed!"
The girls all chimed in with agreement. Hermione blushed. "Well, as most of you know, it happened last night..."
"'Peel the three outermost layers off your head of Mongol Molting Cabbage.' Done. 'Slice each leaf diagonally with a copper-serrated knife, as this will best release the cabbage's sweet flavor.'" Hermione did not dare to look up from her copy of Ancient Recipes Made Easy that she bought from Flourish & Botts yesterday. She was determined to make Ron an ethnic witch's recipe his mother had never cooked for him before. She ordered him to stay in the bedroom of their flat because she wanted him to be totally surprised. Hermione wasn't sure if Ron would like elderberry and cabbage slaw, but she was more concerned about the outcome than anything. She had now Charmed her copper knife to chop the cabbage diagonally, checking the angle of the blade against that in the book. "As the cabbage is chopping, check the elderberries to make sure...oh, Merlin's beard!"
"Need help?" Ron called from the bedroom.
"No!" she snapped. "Stupid, stupid me forgot to boil the elderberries." She quickly filled a small cauldron with water, set a fire under it, and hurriedly placed it on the stove.
"Hermione, calm down. You know you're not stupid."
"This whole recipe will be a waste if I can't get the skins off!" she said, blindly dumping in the elderberries, scattering a few on the floor. "I wonder how long—" she said, flipping to the index."Basting, Beating, ah, Boiling. Elderberries...thirty minutes? Damn it, this will never get finished!"
"Relax, hun! It'll be fine!"
"No! It won't be fine!" Hermione said, increasing the flame with her wand hand and tasting a bit of the chopped cabbage with her free hand. She winced angrily at its bitterness and spat it into the sink. "That's IT! It's ruined! This whole bloody dinner is ruined!" she shouted, tugging fistfuls of her hair in frustration.
"Hermione, will you please try to relax?" Ron was kneeling in front of the stove, tossing the dropped elderberries into the steaming cauldron.
She smacked him with a dish towel. "Ronald, I told you to stay in our room! This was supposed to be a surprise," she said, voice starting to choke.
"Hermione." He took her hands. "Look at me. I know you thought you'd get the recipe all perfect and we'd have a really nice meal, but sometimes you have to accept that things will go wrong! Believe me, this isn't the way I expected tonight to go, either. I thought we'd be here over candlelight and fancy witches' fare. I thought I'd be telling you how wonderful my meal is and how impressed I am with your cooking."
Hermione sniffed angrily, but Ron continued.
"I thought I'd be here telling you how much I love you and how I still can't believe we knew each other for seven years before having a proper snog. I thought I'd be here telling you how proud I am of you for being so strong during the war, how you're the greatest best friend I could ever ask for, how I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you from this day forward. And most of all, I thought I'd be on one knee, not two."
Ron reached into his back pocket and pulled out a tiny black box. It dissolved, leaving a dazzling ring floating in an aura of golden light.
"And yet, here I am, asking you tonight. Hermione Jean Granger, will you marry me?"
Hermione's response was barely above a whisper, but the affirmation, joy, and love were all there. "Yes."
Ron slipped the ring on her finger and Hermione sunk to her knees, sobbing and embracing him harder than she ever had before. Ron held her close to his chest, burying his head in her soft, thick hair. "Bloody hell, we're engaged!" he said, his voice wavering.
Hermione turned Ron's face to hers and kissed him sweetly. "I know. And I'm so happy!" She ran her thumb across Ron's cheek. "Oh, Ronald, you don't have to cry!"
"Yes I do! I—I—" he scraped something off the back of his trousers. "I sat on some elderberries and now my trousers are ruined!" He wailed dramatically and buried his face in his hands.
Hermione laughed, but that only made the tears come faster, falling hard onto the tile floor. "What will we do about dinner now that you've smashed the ingredients with your big bum?"
Ron looked up and winked. "Already done. I owled for Chinese take-away the moment you banished me to our room."
Hermione's mouth dropped open in shock and Ron threw the squashed elderberry in it. She could do nothing else but smile.