There hasn't been a lemon in this story for a while, I PROMISE I'm getting there.
I met Daniel Radcliffe this past Saturday. I'm still giggly about it.
Hermione went to the shops with her mother one Saturday afternoon so Harry and I packed up our brooms and decided to try out an indoor Quidditch complex that had recently opened in London. We got a few weird looks riding the Tube carrying brooms but there were far stranger sights than us so it wasn't long before we were forgotten.
I followed Harry to the entrance of a Muggle pub. He got the instructions on how to enter the Quidditch complex from Seamus, it made me a bit uneasy walking in there two blokes with brooms. I hoped Seamus hadn't been taking the piss out of Harry.
"Can we stop for a pint?" I asked. Harry looked around quickly and nodded. We sat at the bar and soon after were clinking our pints together.
"This was a great idea you had, Ron. I haven't been able to get out on a broom enough lately, since the weather turned warm again."
"I haven't been able to either. I wonder what it will be like to play indoors. That sounds really odd to me." I replied.
"I don't imagine it's terribly different from playing outdoors on a proper pitch." Harry said, shrugging his shoulders. "It might be easier for me to see the Snitch indoors. One of the hardest parts of Seeking is seeing the damn thing when it's constantly moving in a sky full of clouds."
"Well if this is no good, we can find something else to do instead. At least we won't get sunburned." I said, taking a big gulp.
"I've been meaning to ask you," Harry began. "Have you, erm, bought Hermione a ring?"
I cleared my throat. "Didn't I tell you? I've had it for ages." Harry's eyebrows lifted in surprise.
"No! You hadn't told me!" He said, draining the rest of his pint.
"When we got her parents back from Australia, got their memories all sorted, her Dad gave me her Gran's ring. It's not terribly big but I think she'll be happy with it. You know Hermione and her causes." I said.
"Right, 'conflict diamonds' and all that." Harry nodded. "She'll appreciate the vintage ring. The fact that it's her Gran's will probably make her happy, too."
"I thought so. I think it'll be ok. Her father told me it's by some American jewelry designer. I've never heard of her…Tiffany somebody." I leaned back and stretched my arms over my head.
"Brilliant, Ron." Harry patted me on the back. "So that leads to my next question."
He let that statement hang in the air before I realized it was my cue to speak.
"And your question would be…?" I asked.
"Should I wait to propose to Ginny? I didn't want to ruin any plans you have or anything. I thought we could…coordinate proposals or something. Fuck, I sound like such a girl." He laughed.
I laughed and shook my head. "I'm not exactly ready to propose, Harry. If you're ready, be my guest. You're not going to be stealing my thunder or anything like that."
"Cheers. Out of curiosity…why aren't you ready? Don't tell me you're unsure about marrying her? I'll have to knock you on your arse if that's your reason." He jabbed me playfully in the ribs.
"No, not at all. I know she's it for me. I'd marry her tonight if I could. I just…I'm not, you know, financially ready." We paid our tab and Harry led the way to the Gents.
"You're not financially ready? What does that mean?" Harry asked.
"You know. Her parents have a lot of money and we…don't. I want a few thousand Galleons in my vault first. I have it all planned out. Once we're installed at the Ministry I'll be able to tuck money away week by week. It'll take a little bit but I'll get there." I shrugged my shoulders.
"Ron, you know I'd be chuffed to lend you the money for a wedding." Harry said, checking the parchment scrap Seamus gave him. He frowned at it and looked up to a stall marked "Out of Order".
"I know you would and you know I would never ask. I appreciate it, Harry. Honestly, I do but I have to do this my way. I don't feel right borrowing anything from you." I put my hand on the locked stall door.
"Are you certain Seamus gave you the right directions?" I asked.
Harry nodded and motioned to me to check under the stalls for feet, I let him know we were alone in the loo.
"You don't think we have to flush ourselves, like when we snuck into the Ministry, do you?" I asked, cringing. "That was bloody disgusting."
He pulled his wand from his pocket and tapped it to the door, whispering the Unlocking Charm:
We heard the lock click open and the door swung inward. Harry peered inside and looked back to me with a grin.
"I really love magic sometimes." He said.
Already with two large shopping bags each, Mum and I sat at a table in a café, a well-earned repose.
"This is so nice, Hermione. I hope we can do this more often." Mum said as she added cream and sugar to her coffee.
"So do I, Mum. I miss our afternoon jaunts." I sipped my herbal tea.
"When does Ron officially get his start at the Ministry?" She asked. I noticed she was twirling her wedding band around her finger with her thumb. She always did that when she asked me about Ron. She might have even started doing that while we were still at school.
"The twenty-fourth." I replied. The formal swearing-in ceremony is next week and then they start the following Monday.
"And what are you going to wear to the ceremony?" She looked up over my shoulder as if she recognized someone but she looked back to me straightaway.
"I'm not sure, actually. Ron has to wear his dress robes, obviously. I suppose I'll look for a dress this afternoon." I realized I hadn't at all thought about buying a new dress for the ceremony. I didn't own anything truly appropriate.
"I wish Dad and I could go. It's such an important day for him. Does Ron have to make a speech? As the head of his class?" Mum asked, taking a sip.
"They have asked him to. He's not overly fond of the idea. He asked Harry to write something just in case he decides against it at the last moment." I blew at the steam rising from my cup and took a quick sip.
"He should be fine, he seems more at ease now than he was when you were younger." Mum replied. I smiled at her.
"He's at ease around us, around his family. A giant room full of strangers might be different. And there are bound to be reporters and all manner of officials from the Ministry as well, Mum." I said.
"That is true. But I still think it would be good for him to do it, not Harry. I like Harry very much but, after all, Ron came in first."
"I agree with you, Mum but all I can do is be supportive. There's no making Ron do something he doesn't want to do." I frowned.
"Just tell him to picture everyone naked." She joked. "When I had to give a speech at a dental conference, that's what I did! It worked!"
I laughed hard. "Sort of like casting a Riddikkulus on the entire crowd of people!"
Mum screwed up her face, "I don't know what that means but if it'll help Ron, he should do it."
We chatted a bit more about what color dress I should wear when someone tapped be on the shoulder. I looked up and gasped in excitement.
"Neville!" I jumped from my seat and hugged him close. "It's so good to see you!"
"Cheers! Hi Hermione!" He replied, hugging me back.
I let go of the embrace but held onto his hand. "Mum, do you remember Neville? He was my very first friend at school." I put my head on his shoulder.
"Oh! Of course, you lost your turtle or something, yes?" Mum asked. She stood up and gave Neville a kiss on the cheek.
"Yes! Trevor, my toad, Mrs. Granger. How are you?" He replied.
I couldn't remember the last time I saw him. He had taken courses to complete his Seventh Year and he enrolled in university. Mum excused herself and went towards a shoe shop, I told her I would follow shortly.
"I'm planning on applying to teach at Hogwarts." He told us, "Professor Sprout is getting on in years, she might be ready to retire by the time I leave university." He sounded so hopeful, so grown-up. Nothing like the shy boy I once knew, so lacking in every kind of confidence.
"Well, future Professor Longbottom! I'm sure you'll be a great success!" I smiled at him.
"Thanks, Hermione. It would be really wicked to get that post. Hannah has a flat in Hogsmeade, I wouldn't have to travel very far to see her during the school year." He said.
"Hannah Abbott? That's wonderful, Neville! I didn't know you were seeing each other." I replied.
"Yeah, it's very new, but it's great. I've tried dating girls that weren't there…weren't at Hogwarts when it all happened and it never worked out. They don't understand. Hannah was there, she knows exactly what those days were like." He smiled and rubbed the back of his neck.
"I know what you mean. You try to talk to someone who wasn't there about it and they can't begin to understand." I nodded. "We should have you and Hannah round some time. It would be brilliant to catch up."
Neville smiled wide. "I'd love that, Hermione, truly. I heard through the grapevine that Ron finished first at the Auror Academy, tell him and I Harry I said 'Congratulations'.
"Absolutely! I will."
We spoke a few minutes more before he said he had to be going. We exchanged phone numbers, promising to get together soon.
I followed Harry into the toilet stall and saw instantly what made him grin. Instead of a broken toilet, on the other side of the locked door was a second glass door and through that we could see the Quidditch complex. We made our way in. A teenaged wizard I thought I recognized from the joke shop was collecting money at the door.
"Harry P-Potter! R-Ron Weasley!" He exclaimed. Harry and I chuckled.
"Hello." Harry said, reaching into his pocket for the entrance fee.
"Oh no, Mr. Potter, your money is no good here, go right on in! You, too, Mr. Weasley!" The boy said.
"Thanks!" I said offering him my hand. He shook my hand nervously and grinned at me, showing a mouthful of those metal things Muggles wear to straighten their teeth.
Harry and I found the changing rooms and a few people were staring at us and whispering. We changed quickly and locked up our things.
"How d'ya reckon this works now?" I asked him. "Do we just start playing or do we need a team?"
"No clue. Seamus didn't say. Let's take a look."
I carried my broom slung over my shoulder and Harry affixed his Seeker's goggles to his face. He'd taken to wearing them whenever he played since the previous summer when a pick-up game at the Burrow got particularly competitive and his glasses got broken by a Bludger.
The complex was spectacular. There were different areas that focused on sharpening each skill in Quidditch as well as four expansive pitches separated by invisible force fields for full games. There were life-sized portraits of famous Quidditch players all over the walls, shouting encouragement and instructions to the patrons.
"Good form! Keep at it!" I heard over my shoulder. I recognized the voice straightaway. I turned and sure enough a portrait of Oliver Wood in his Puddlemere United uniform was praising a man's successful shot at the center hoop in the Scoring section.
"Harry, look! It's Ollie!" I pointed. Harry smiled and laughed.
"I wonder where the Seeker training is. I daresay I'm going to be rusty." He said, lifting his head.
We mounted our brooms and flew in a low hover over the complex, hoping to get a better scope of its size.
"There! I think I saw a Snitch fly by!" I called out to Harry and pointed directly ahead of us. We headed in that direction but found our flight path blocked by two others.
"We were looking for the Seeker area…" Harry said to one of them.
"Harry bloody Potter!" The young man said. He tossed his shaggy hair out of his brown eyes and sat up straight on his broom. He looked to his friend who nodded in slack-jawed surprise.
His friend spoke first, "The whole complex is Seeker training, Harry." His blue eyes were set deep and his darker skin made him appear much older than his voice lead us to believe.
"The whole place?" I asked looking around. Sure enough, there were at least 10 other people flying high above the training areas; their eyes scanning the room for the elusive Golden Snitch.
"Yes, if you capture the Snitch, you get to keep it and they post your photo on the wall." The man told us.
"Interesting." Harry said, scanning the room. He opened his mouth to speak again but a flash of gold in the corner of his eye sent him into a steep dive.
I watched Harry chase after the Snitch, changing direction swiftly and getting closer every second. By the time he finally caught it, a crowd had gathered below us and they started cheering.
I flew to Harry's side and we landed together when the crowd started congratulating him.
"Very vell done, 'Arry. You are just as goot as you vere beck zen." The gruff voice came from behind us. I turned first and my stomach was instantly in a knot.
"Viktor Krum. My word, how are you?" Harry said extending his hand. Krum shook Harry's hand and reached for mine.
"Goot to see you also, Ron." Krum said, I admit it took me off guard.
"You remember my name?" I asked him and we shook hands.
"Off course. I remember nearly everyzink about my visit to Ogwarts." He said, smiling. He'd gotten much more muscular since the Triwizard Tournament; he was still playing for the Bulgarian National team.
We chatted with Krum for a few minutes. I was constantly waiting for him to ask about Hermione. I wasn't sure what I was going to say or do if he did ask, but in the end, he didn't.
After the fifth dress I tried on, I was confident in my gut instinct. I stood in front of the mirror with my hands on my hips.
"The first one, the black one, is the one." I reported to Mum.
She made a face that told me she wasn't sure. "It was awfully…short, dear." Mum said.
"That's exactly what Ron will love about it." I thought to myself.
I just smiled and ducked back into the changing room. I struggled to reach the zip high up between my shoulder blades but I got it and pulled it down. I let the dress fall to the floor and grabbed the short black dress off the hanger. I admit it was much shorter than any other dress I owned but I liked the way I felt in it. I didn't feel like a kid. It hugged my form in such a way that there'd be no mistaking it, Hermione Granger had grown up.
I stepped into it and pulled the straps up over my shoulders. I yelped when one of them gave way – I ruined the dress! I tried to remember a seamstress spell Mrs. Weasley taught me while I examined the broken strap. That's when I noticed the clear plastic snap. I breathed a sigh of relief – the straps were removable! I yanked both straps off and tossed them. I wasn't normally so rough with clothes but I kept checking the time on my watch and I knew Ron would be home soon. I had a plan for that night and I didn't want him to beat me home.
I adjusted the dress and pulled the zip up my side. Turning sideways in the mirror I admired myself. I popped up on my tip toes, mimicking the height I'd be in my shoes. I don't know if Ron would be able to picture everyone else in the room naked at the ceremony, but there was no doubt in my mind he'd be picturing me naked.
Harry and I had a wicked afternoon playing Quidditch. We joined in to play with a group of blokes just a bit younger than us and it was great fun. Harry won us the match by catching the Snitch of course but the other team put up a hell of a fight.
We found ourselves slightly surrounded after the match by people thanking us for our service to the Wizarding World. That hadn't happened in quite a while but it was always a bit weird for me. In the heat of everything going on, I was simply trying to keep my best friend and the girl I loved alive. I honestly didn't think of myself as anything more than their friend and protector. The Daily Prophet ran an article that called all three of us "The Saviours of the World." I did a double, perhaps even a triple take when I saw myself in the photograph that ran with the article.
Harry and I made plans to visit there again soon before we said good-bye for the day. I opened the front door to my flat and leaned my broom against the coat closet door.
"Mione?" I called out.
"Oh. Hi, Ron."
I looked towards the sound of her voice and my heart started to pound loudly in my chest. Hermione was standing in the living room wearing an apron. And black high heels. She smirked at my dumbfounded expression and turned towards the kitchen. That's when I saw that she wasn't wearing much else; just something that I wasn't even sure was enough fabric to qualify as underwear.
"Welcome home." She said in that innocent voice she put on.
I cleared my throat and approached her. I got a few steps from her and she bent down at the waist to take something out of the oven. The view of her arse was incredible, I cleared my throat.
"Mione?" I said placing a hand on her hip.
"Yes, Ronald?" she turned toward me and started chewing her bottom lip.
"I love you." I kissed her
She giggled, "I love you too."