"Parked all right, then?" Ron asked Harry. "I did. Hermione didn't believe I could pass a Muggle driving test, did you? She thought I'd have to Confound the examiner.
"No I didn't," said Hermione. "I had complete faith in you."
- DH P604, UK Edition
Ron hit the steering wheel in frustration, causing a sudden loud noise to emit from it. Yelling in fright, he grabbed his wand and pointed it at the centre of the steering wheel as if waiting for it to attack. Beside him, his wife collapsed into fits of laughter.
"Um, Ron," she managed to gasp between laughs, "that's the horn; you use it to warn other cars in case of danger."
"I know what a horn is," he muttered through gritted teeth, as his face became a deep shade of red. "It just surprised me."
"Sorry, Ron, but the look on your face when that horn went off was priceless, especially since you've seen me drive enough times to know what a horn is. Now for goodness sake, put that wand away! We're on a Muggle street and we've drawn enough attention to ourselves as it is."
Muttering quietly to himself, Ron did as she asked and then attempted once again to start the car. As he put his foot on the accelerator, the car shot backwards into an overflowing wheelie bin, which was waiting to be collected the next morning. He swore loudly, earning himself a disapproving look from Hermione, and looked at the gear stick, which was stuck firmly on `R`. He grabbed it and yanked it up into first.
"Are you sure you don't just want me to take us home?" Hermione asked sympathetically.
"No," came his angry retort. "I'm the one who's supposed to be learning to drive – you passed your test years ago."
Hermione had learnt to drive almost straight out of Hogwarts and, as with most things, she had turned out to be very good at it. Now eighteen years later Ron had decided that with two growing children, who would both need transporting here, there and everywhere, the time had come for him to learn.
At first he thought it ridiculous that he needed a properly licensed driver to accompany him while he learnt. However during his first drive, when he almost hit a tree, a cat and their elderly neighbour, he was extremely glad of Hermione's presence. However as the weeks went on and his driving failed to improve, he became increasingly annoyed with her constantly correcting his driving. He was beginning to wonder why he had bothered trying in the first place. He had always been useless at Muggle activities, a fact Hermione was often reminding him of, usually accompanied by a comment about how he should have taken Muggle Studies at Hogwarts.
"Can't I just buy a wizard car?" he asked as the car stalled at a set of traffic lights just after he had managed to get it to start again. He had seen some amazing wizard cars in a magazine recently that didn't require any of the complicated gears or pedals that Muggle cars did. You simply pressed a button and off you went. They even recognised traffic signals and knew when to speed up and slow down. He'd heard they could do some fairly clever things in traffic jams as well. When he showed the magazine to Hermione, however, she had been less than enthusiastic.
"No! I am not letting you cheat at yet another Muggle activity. If you want to learn to drive, you do it the proper Muggle way or not at all."
He asked the question at least four times a week and her answer was always the same. He sighed and pulled into an empty car park. It was late at night, as he hated to drive when other people could see him, and the supermarket to which the car parking lot was attached had shut up shop for the night. He switched off the engine and pulled off his seatbelt.
"Fine, why don't you drive us home then? I've had enough of this piece of junk – it obviously hates me"
"Ron, a car cannot hate you – you just need more time to learn." She took off her own seatbelt and got out the car to switch places. She snorted in disgust as Ron slid from one seat to the other. It was typical of him to make her be the one to get out of the car while he just slid across.
She climbed into the driver's seat and adjusted the seat and mirror to her liking before starting the engine. Thanks to her driving and the empty roads, they were home within minutes, where they were greeted by Molly Weasley who had been babysitting whilst they were out.
"So, how did it go?"
Ron just muttered something in reply.
"Oh, don't sulk, Ron," his mother chided. "Your father was the same, took him months to learn, but now look at him, I can't keep him away from the things."
"Only 'cos he likes to take them apart," Ron said moodily. "I'm going to bed. 'Night Mum, thanks for coming over." And with that he went upstairs.
Hermione sighed. "He's not that bad, really, it's just taking him some time and I don't think he can be bothered unless he can be good right away."
"Don't worry dear, just give him a few days and he'll be back in that car. Us Weasley's are known for our tempers, but we can also be pretty determined when we want to be. He won't let himself be beaten by that car."
With that, Molly hugged her daughter-in-law goodnight and Disapparated with a soft pop, leaving Hermione to make herself a cup of tea before going to join her still fuming husband.
Ron refused to go near the driving seat for three days, but just when Hermione had decided he must have finally given up, he suddenly announced that he wanted to go driving.
"But what about the children? Honestly, Ron, you never think things through!"
"Actually, I've arranged for them to go to Harry's. You're not the only one who can be practical, you know. I'll send them over and then when I get back, we can go."
He returned fifteen minutes later, a determined look on his face. He had received no end of teasing from his best friend and younger sister about his lack of driving talent and he was determined to prove them all wrong.
They got into the car, Hermione looking more than a little worried by the look on his face, and he started the engine. Checking his mirrors, he lifted the handbrake and reversed slowly out of the driveway. Or at least, what he thought was slowly. In actual fact, he pressed the accelerator so hard that they backed out of their own drive and straight into the driveway opposite. Hermione attempted to stifle a laugh, but failed miserably. Ron turned to her angrily.
"If you're not going to help, then I'll find someone else who will."
"Who?" she scoffed. "You're not prepared to let anyone else see your terrible driving and I don't think anyone else would take you anyway. I don't know many people with a death wish."
He didn't reply and instead put the car into gear and drove slowly down the stranger's driveway and turned into the street. He began driving, and to his surprise found, he wasn't doing too badly. He was going slowly, but at least he hadn't hit any lampposts this time and Hermione didn't have to grip the side of her seat quite so hard. He turned a corner and halted at a set of traffic lights, and this time when the light turned to green, he was able to start without stalling and even managed to park on the side of the road with no problem.
Hermione smiled to herself – if there was one way to make sure Ron did something, it was for her to tell him that he couldn't. It worked every time – he was so predictable. All she had to do was tell him he was terrible and he would put all his concentration into proving her wrong. Seeing that he was looking at her expectantly, she decided she wasn't going to let him off easily by telling him had done well.
"It was okay, I suppose, but I noticed at least ten things you should have done differently. One fairly good drive isn't going to make you an excellent driver, Ronald."
"I know that," he replied through gritted teeth. "But you think you would at least give me some credit for completing my first ever drive without crashing or stalling or doing something equally stupid."
Seeing the look on his face she gave in and smiled at him. "Sorry, you're right, you were actually very good. I knew you could be better if you put your mind to it. Why don't you drive us to a quiet street and we can practice turns and parking?"
Obeying her, he started the car, and pulled out of his parking space, only avoiding the cars in front and behind due to Hermione's discreet wand work, though of course he thought it was all his own skill.
An hour or so later they returned to the house both feeling a lot happier than they had done in the morning. Ron was happy because he was finally beginning to master the basics and Hermione was happy because Ron was no longer so moody and instead was in a rather fun but mischievous mood that led to the children staying at Harry and Ginny's quite a bit longer than they had planned.
A week or so later, Hermione suggested that maybe Ron should start reading for his theory test.
"What's a theory test?" was the immediate reply.
"Well it's a test that you do on a computer – that's a Muggle technology thing – you have been on one before, though I'm not sure if you remember. Anyway, you have to answer questions about various things to show you understand road signs and things. It's not too difficult, but you do have to do quite a bit of reading before hand to make sure you learn it all."
"Reading? I thought I was learning to drive, not pass a bloody theory test. I haven't had to revise since my Auror exams years ago. I don't think I even know how to revise anymore."
"Oh it doesn't matter," said Hermione enthusiastically, ignoring his swearing. "I can help you – it'll be just like when we were at school – I can make a timetable and help you make notes, just like old times."
"Oh great," moaned Ron. "I thought you got all that out of your system years ago. It'll be just like being at school again." He didn't admit to her that it was while studying for their OWLs that he had first begun to notice just how cute she was when she was getting worked up about studying. She definitely didn't need to know that he found her attractive when she was studying or she would never stop and he would lose the already precious alone time they got together.
Over the next week, he began to cram in earnest for the theory test. He even managed to get into a Muggle public library to practice using a computer so he wouldn't look completely stupid on the day of his exam. During this time, he also continued to go out in the car with Hermione and found that his driving was constantly improving.
By mid-August, he decided he was ready to take both his theory and practical test. He had to pass the theory test before he could take his practical test so he booked that first, settling for the seventeenth of August.
On the day of his theory test, Hermione drove him to the test centre, having dropped the kids off at the Burrow that morning. She parked in a nearby car park and promised to stay until he came out again.
"Don't worry – you'll be fine, you were doing great in the questions I asked you last night. Just remember not to panic, especially during the video part. You don't want to get disqualified for clicking too much. I'll see you when you get out."
Seemingly unable to speak through his nerves, he just gave her a quick kiss and crossed the road to the test centre.
An hour later, he emerged looking incredibly pleased with himself and virtually ran to the car where she was waiting. She got out to greet him and he pulled her into a hug – something usually totally unheard of for Ron who, since the relentless teasing he had endured over his very public relationship with Lavender.
"I passed, I passed!" he shouted as he lifted her up and spun around with her in his arms. "I thought I had completely failed because no one said anything when I came out and they all so looked so serious, but then they handed me a piece of paper which said I had passed. Look!" He showed her the certificate confirming his pass.
"That's excellent, Ron," she replied warmly, "Now we can get you practical booked and really start practising for it; in fact, why don't you drive us home?"
Grinning, he took the keys from her and took them home, driving better than he had ever done before. As soon as they got home he used their telephone to ring the booking centre and was able to get a test date for the thirty-first, which he hoped would give him enough time to prepare.
Ron was up at the crack of dawn of the thirty-first of August – he had hardly slept and he decided he would better off up and about than tossing and turning in bed disturbing Hermione.
He had spent the last two weeks driving every day and he finally felt ready to take his test. Or at least he hoped he was ready – it was ridiculous; he didn't think he had ever felt this nervous. His test was due to start at ten, so he didn't have too long to wait, but the few hours he did have would be torture.
The children would once again be going to the Burrow, where they had spent an unusual amount of time recently. Not that they minded, as was usual for the summer they were often joined by James, Albus and Lily, along with various other members of the Weasley clan. Today, however, they would probably be the only ones there as the others prepared for the start of school the next day. Ron knew he hadn't exactly picked the most convenient date for his test, especially as Rose, their eldest, would be leaving for Hogwarts the next day and Hermione was bound to be stressed running around doing last minute jobs – not to mention emotional at the thought of her daughter leaving home to go school so far away, but it had been the earliest day the test centre could fit him in and he desperately wanted to be able to drive them all to King's Cross the next day.
Hermione woke soon after him and joined him downstairs where she juggled her time between drilling him in some last minute technique and folding all the new robes they had bought for Rose the previous week. At about nine, Molly came over for the children and took them over to the Burrow after wishing Ron good luck and promising not to let Rose break her new wand, which she insisted on carrying everywhere with her.
At half past nine, Hermione drove them the short distance to the test centre to ensure they were there in good time. Ron clutched all the pieces of paper he needed to take the test, rechecking them every couple of minutes. As they set off Hermione cleared her throat nervously.
"You won't – um, well you wouldn't think of er –"
"Nothing – only I hope you know it's against the rules and it's important you pass properly."
"Hermione – I'm sure you're not saying what I think you are, because I know that you know I would never think about cheating in my driving test – especially when I know how important it is to you to do it the Muggle way."
"Oh, of course, I know that," she said as they pulled into the test centre. "Now, are you sure you don't want me to come? I read that you can bring someone along if they don't participate."
"No, you would only distract me, plus you wouldn't be able to resist correcting me at every turn," he replied cheekily. She accompanied him into the test centre where she would wait while he took the test in their car.
When the examiner came in and called his name he stood up looking slightly green. "I'll see you when I come back." She wished him good luck and with a quick kiss he left with the examiner.
To Hermione, the wait seemed like ages, though in reality, it was little more than half an hour. After half an hour had gone by, she went to wait outside, hoping she would be able to see him return. He pulled up just as she came outside and sat for a moment talking to the examiner. She couldn't tell what was being said and found herself holding her breath as he finally got out and walked slowly back towards her, his face betraying nothing of his emotions.
"Well?" she asked anxiously when he reached her.
"I passed!" he said showing her piece of paper certifying his pass. "I'll get my proper licence in a few weeks – this is just to show that I passed until I get that."
"Oh, I'm so proud of you, Ron – I always knew you were capable! Just think, this means you'll be able to drive the family to the station tomorrow!" She kissed him. "We'd better go and get the children. I've still got so much to do before tomorrow. Would you like to drive – your children can see what a clever daddy they've got!" They walked back to the car and Ron climbed into the driving seat and took them home.
Much later, when Ron and Hermione were lying in bed after a hectic day of packing and the lights had finally gone off, Hermione's voice suddenly broke the silence.
"Yes dear?" he replied sleepily.
"You didn't um, well, you know?"
"Of course not, Hermione – I promised, remember? I can't believe you would even think such a thing! I thought you believed I could pass."
"I did, I'm sorry, I know you wouldn't really. 'Night, Ron"
In the dark of their bedroom, she didn't see him reach over to the bedside table and pat his wand protectively, safe in the knowledge that she would never know the spells it had performed that day.
A/N: Thanks to Colores from MNFF who betaed this for me and to alli_lynn, my PS beta!