A/N: I always wanted to include a chapter like this in the original Defining Moments, but never found the right way to frame it before I gave up and closed the story out to get started on Defining the Relationship. The idea never went away, and upon finishing HBP, I desperately needed a R/H fix in order to dispel “Lav-Lav” from my poor, abused consciousness. This is the end result.
Virtual house points to the first person to pick up on a reference to Hello, Dolly! in this chapter.
I’ve got one other piece for Outtakes waiting in the wings, and it’ll appear shortly. DTR 5 is still in pre-beta stage.
Thanks to Arnel for all her work, even on vacation no less! She keeps my grammar in line.
Questions? Comments? AdmDavis@aol.com
I write for three reasons. Myself, my fiancée, and all of you, but it’s the one in the middle that all the credit should go to.
-- -- -- --
October 31st, 1998 had come and gone rather frustratingly for Ronald Weasley. In a perfect world, he considered, he would be laying in bed, with his wife by his side, snuggled in against the cold, late November air, with few cares in the world.
Instead, he was laying alone, in a friend’s apartment, recovering from a vicious stab wound that still prevented him from putting in a whole week’s work.
Damn, it gets lonely without Hermione around, he thought.
But Hermione was busily teaching Transfiguration at Hogwarts, too busy to make it over here every night, and even that prospect was a dicey one, given the care they had been taking to prevent Ron’s parents from knowing that Hermione was a frequent overnight houseguest at the flat Harry shared with Ron. The arrangement was supposed to have been temporary only, until Ron’s wedding. Twice now, that hadn’t worked out according to plan.
Ron listened to the wind howling outside his window. Snow had come early, and it was bitterly cold. It was most defiantly the kind of night he wished he had someone warm to hold, and familiar scent to drink in as he fell asleep. Sleep did not seem to want to come to him, lately. It was all the rest he was getting, he reasoned. His body was not used to so much downtime; it had become accustomed to functioning on little sleep. But he was not allowed back to full duty. So while Harry was off chasing Death Eaters with his temporary partner, Tonks, Ron was stuck at home.
He really didn’t envy Harry all that much on this particular evening, given the weather, but Ron really would have appreciated some company. In theory, he could have gone home to the Burrow, but given the hour, his parents were probably asleep already. He was sorely tempted to Floo to Hogwarts, but after a very near miss with Headmistress McGonagall, who frowned on unmarried professors receiving callers, no matter how long they’d been engaged or how well she knew them, Hermione had practically forbidden him to do that.
In order to pass the time, Ron subsisted on day old copies of the Daily Prophet, and fiddled with Harry’s televizor, something Ron hadn’t quite got the hang of yet, but he could at least turn it on and off to see the last station Harry had been viewing. Lately, it had been a lot of the BBC. Ron threw off the covers and padded out to the living room, pointing his wand and starting a fire in the fireplace to disperse the chill in the room. He settled himself down on Harry’s couch, a comfortable item of questionable background. He opened up the Prophet and began to read by the firelight.
Someday, nights like these, Ron promised himself, Hermione and I are going to make ourselves nice hot cups of coco, snuggle up on the couch by the fire, and…well… Ron gave himself a little smirk, and then sighed. His imagination was only making him more lonely. Someday, when they had their own place. A place to call our own.
Except they didn’t have one yet. Hermione’s solution was that when they got married, they would stay at Hogwarts until they found their own place. Ron wasn’t especially enchanted with the idea, and, in what little spare time he actually had, he could be found pouring over the classifieds in both the Prophet and in Muggle newspapers, looking for flats to let out. While he’d found several promising ones in the Muggle newspapers, none had had the all important fireplace. And besides, Ron thought to himself, what place is there in a flat to raise children?Children need houses, with yards, and places to play Quidditch. This of course, was Ron’s primary concern.
The issue of children was another subject that Hermione was reluctant to talk about. Ron had initiated discussions with her on the subject, but she had pleaded it wasn’t the time to talk about it yet. Ron knew she wanted children – that much they had already agreed on. He also knew she wasn’t adverse to having more than one, and in fact, the few times he had gotten her to open up on the subject, she’d indicated that life as an only child was lonely, and not something she wanted for her child. But for the most part, she remained closed mouthed on the issue of timing and everything else.
So, Ron continued his quiet search of the classifieds, looking for houses in wizarding communities, as well as quiet houses in the country with few to no neighbors and large tracts of undisturbed land. So far, he hadn’t been able to find anything he could afford. There was a nice manor house in Norfolk that a Muggle was selling, but he wanted much more than Ron could part with. His Auror salary was modest, some would even say generous if you included the Hazardous Duty Pay he often drew, but it was not extravagant either.
I wish I could find something close to Hogsmeade, Ron thought to himself as he flipped past the sports section of the Daily Prophet to the classifieds. But most of that land has been in families for generations. That thought perked a new idea up in Ron’s mind, and for a brief moment, he almost changed course for the obituary page. Oy, you’re a morbid soul, Ron scolded himself, what would Hermione say? He scanned the pages by the firelight until his eyelids began to droop. I should really go back to bed, he thought, if I could only get the energy to get up off this couch…
And that’s where Harry found him when he finally arrived home, in the wee hours of the following morning, snoring on the couch with the Prophet in his lap.
-- -- -- --
“Hello gorgeous,” a voice said from behind her, and Hermione had only half a moment to turn before her fiancé snaked his hands around her waist and kissed the top of her head.
“Ron!” she scolded, trying to pull away. “Not in front of my students!”
“I don’t see any students,” Ron told her. “All I see is a bustling village full of people.”
Which was true. Hermione had volunteered to help chaperone the weekend’s Hogsmeade visit, and no one in particular seemed to be paying any attention to her. “How did you know I was going to be here?” she asked him.
“Oh, a little bird told me,” he grinned.
Which meant of course, that Ginny had spilled the beans. Ginny was one of the students in Hermione’s N.E.W.T level Transfiguration class. “How was work this week?” Hermione asked, and immediately regretted it, as she felt Ron’s shoulders sag and she could almost feel the good mood sucked out of him.
“Terrible,” he replied. “Everyone’s treating me like I’m made of glass, and they still won’t let me work a full day. And I’m not cleared for field work yet, either.”
“Ron, these things take time!” Hermione protested. “You’re still recovering!”
“I’m fine!” he retorted. “Fit as a fiddle.”
“Can you walk the stairs from the lobby to your office without getting winded yet?” Hermione asked. Ron glared at her, which was all the answer she needed. Ron had always prided himself on his physical condition, even in school, where Quidditch had kept him in fine shape. When he’d first been stabbed, he could barely make it from the bed to the loo without wheezing. He’d slowly been getting back into shape, but the kind of wound he had, so close to the lungs, really impeded his recovery. “How did you get here?” she demanded. “You didn’t Apparate, did you? The Healer says…”
“I know what the Healer says, love. No, I didn’t Apparate, I Flooed in to the Three Broomsticks,” Ron told her. “C’mon, let’s get out of the snow. Buy you a drink?”
Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “You’re not buying me a round at the Three Broomsticks, Ron. All my students are there.”
“Oh, come on, Hermione. Half of them remember us from last year. What’s the big worry?”
“It’s unprofessional Ron,” she protested. “There’s a reason McGonagall doesn’t like unmarried professors having callers.”
Ron made an exasperated noise. “Fine then, what do you suggest?” Hermione could read Ron’s face as clearly as a book. I’ve come all the way up here to see you, and now you don’t even want me here…?
“Erm…” Hermione thought quickly. “Let’s go for a walk?”
“Sure,” Ron agreed. “Where to?”
“Somewhere away from the Village center.”
Ron took Hermione’s arm and began leading her away from the busy village center, past Gladrags, and down the street than ran in front of the Hog’s Head. The commercial buildings tapered off, replaced by cozy homes and flats. The village was coated in a soft white blanket of snow, which made it seem like a particularly attractive picture print.
“I missed you this week,” Ron told her as they walked arm in arm.
“I missed you, too.”
“We should have been married two weeks today,” Ron pointed out.
“I know,” Hermione sighed. “It’s not fair. We should have been married for months now, if you want to get technical about it.”
“I know,” he replied. “I wish things had worked out differently. I mean, we could even have started on that family we want by now.”
“Don’t say that Ron,” Hermione pleaded.
“What?” Ron asked. “What is it?”
“Ron,” Hermione paused. “Have you even considered what that might mean?”
“What do you mean?” Ron asked. He was confused. “I mean, we’ve talked about having kids, right?”
“Yes, Ron, we have, and I do…but…now?” Hermione asked. “Ron, we’re still kids ourselves! I don’t think I’m…we’re…ready for that responsibility. Why the rush?”
Ron considered for a moment before speaking. “Because it’s not rushing. Okay, maybe it is a little, but we’re ready. I mean, look at you, Miss Youngest Hogwarts Professor in 100 Years! You’re so incredibly organized and responsible; you’d make a great mum. And I…I don’t know, I feel like…like we need to do something positive.”
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, clearly confused.
“I mean, the war is finally over. Voldemort is gone. He’s dead. We’re at peace, true peace, for the first time in decades. What better time to start a family? A family that will grow up in peace.”
There was a long silence as Hermione gripped tight to his arm. Finally, she whispered. “I know, Ron. But I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?”
“I’m scared that I won’t be a good enough mother. Scared I’ll mess it all up.”
Ron barked a laugh. “And you think I’m 100% confident I’ll be a good dad? I’m petrified. If someone told me right now I could have a choice between going it on my own, and automatically being 50% of the father my dad was, I’d take the 50% and call it good. But I don’t have that choice. Hell, yes, Hermione, I’m scared too. But I’m trying not to let that get in the way of what I see as the greatest possible joy we could have,” he said, turning to her and stroking her cheek.
Hermione looked up into her fiancé’s eyes, and saw the mixture of fear and determination there. “You’re so sweet, Ron,” she told him. She took a deep breath. “I guess if you can conquer your fear, so can I.”
“That’s my Gryffindor.” Ron pulled her into a crushing hug.
“Oof, yes, thank you, love, but could you try not to hug me to death?” Hermione gasped.
“Oh, sorry,” Ron said, reddening a little. Hermione gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“But when we do get married, and we do try to start a family, can we try to time it so that I’m not giving birth in the middle of a school year?” Hermione asked.
Ron grinned at her, “As long as we’re doing a lot of practicing so we get it right.” He winked saucily at her. She slapped him on the arm.
“Enough of that, Ronald Weasley.”
“See! You’re going to be a great mum! You’ve already got the voice down.” Ron smirked at her.
“You!” she laughed. She grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it at him. This degenerated into a full on snowball fight and ended with Ron tackling Hermione to the ground, both of them laughing like mad. A startled gasp brought them back to reality. Two students, third years by the look of them, were coming up the road toward them, staring aghast at their Transfiguration professor.
“What are you looking at?” Ron asked them, and kissed Hermione soundly, as she frantically tried to pull away. The third years gave a little squeak and fled down the street.
“Ron!” Hermione looked at him with wide eyes, she was flushing red. She pulled away and stood up. “What are you doing? Those were my students!” she shrieked.
Ron gave a little shrug. “I know,” he admitted, getting to his feet. “But you’re not working right now. This is private time. I don’t think I scarred them for life.”
“But Ron, how can I demand respect from my students if they see me cavorting like a child?”
“You can give and take house points,” Ron pointed out, “That’s all you need for respect at Hogwarts.” He was grinning.
Hermione fumed at him. She knew he was pulling her leg, which was the only thing keeping her from being mad at him. She was still annoyed. “Ron, you can’t do that kind of thing.”
Ron had the grace to look embarrassed, finally. “All right, I know, okay. I was just…well…I don’t know. Some days I worry that I’m less important than your job,” he admitted. “Which I know isn’t true, but I haven’t seen you in a while, and all the weddings that should have happened, and…well, I’ve missed you.”
“Oh, Ron,” Hermione sighed. “I know. I feel the same way. I’ve missed you too. But the holidays are coming up, and we’ll see each other a lot then, I promise.”
Ron grinned. “I’m going to hold you to that.”
Hermione stood on her tip-toes and kissed him on the nose. “You do that.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ve got to go,” she said. “I need to start herding kids back to the castle.”
Ron nodded reluctantly. “Yeah, yeah, go be the Perfect Professor,” he told her, softening it with a kiss on the cheek. “I love you. Come by the flat soon,” he was practically begging.
“I will Ron, I promise. I love you too.” She gave him a quick kiss, then Disapparated away, probably back to the center of the village.
Ron turned and kept walking back down the street, a black mood settling back down around him. He kicked at the stones in the street as he walked. Damnit, we should be married by now, he thought. This is ridiculous. Of course, I wouldn’t be this lonely if I was working, he grumbled mentally, still annoyed that he hadn’t been cleared for full duty yet. Experimentally, he briefly picked up his pace, and within several hundred meters found himself puffing heavily. He cursed inwardly as he slowed to catch his breath.
“Damnit all to hell,” he gasped, searching for a place to sit down. Ron brushed the snow off a fence and leaned on it heavily. “Damn and damnation.”
A sharp crack resounded from behind him, and Ron whirled, almost tripping, drawing his wand, and holding it at the ready.
“Are you lost, sonny?” A wizened old witch stood in front of him, hobbled and barely standing straight. “I saw you stop running from the window, and thought I’d come down and see if you were all right.”
Heaving a deep breath to calm his jangled nerves, Ron lowered his wand. “I’m fine, ma’am, thank you,” he managed, steadying himself on the fence.
“You look terrible, child. Come in for a cuppa?”
Ron looked the old woman over again. She seemed harmless enough. Probably just lonely, he thought. A lot like me. “That would be nice, thank you ma’am.”
“Oh think nothing of it,” she waved a frail hand. “I’ll just pop up and unlock the front door. I’m getting to old to go climb steps in this weather.” And with a loud crack, she Disapparated.
Ron trudged his way up the short hill to the house’s front porch. It was really quite lovely, with a wide front porch, and a tree in the front yard. The old witch was fumbling with the locks on the door when Ron reached it.
“I’m getting too old for this,” the woman muttered, letting him in. “Come on in boy, what’s you’re name?”
“I’m Ron Weasley, ma’am.” Ron said, offering her his hand.
The old witch nearly stumbled in surprise. “Ron Weasley! As I live and breathe! What on earth are you doing out and about on a day like today! Come in, sit down. How is your wound?”
Ron noted the abundance of Witch Weeklys and Daily Prophets scattered about the room, many of which had his name splashed boldly about the headlines. “Healing nicely, ma’am, thank you. And you are?”
“Oh, heavens, where are my manners. I’m Elizabeth Carmody, but my friends just call me Bess. What in heavens name are you doing out here?”
“I came up to Hogsmeade to meet my fiancée for lunch. She had to go, and I felt like taking a bit of a jog,” Ron said, abridging the day’s events.
“Oh, yes, that bright witch teaching at the school,” Bess replied. “Of course.” She waved her wand, and the tea set floated out from the kitchen. “How do you take your tea?”
“One sugar, and just a dash of cream,” Ron replied as the old woman poured him a cup.
He took the opportunity to look about the house. It was really quite cozy.
“You must be very busy, what with chasing all those fugitives,” Bess told him.
“It can be. Mainly right now I’m anxious to get back to work. The Healer’s haven’t cleared me yet.”
Bess clicked her tongue. “A nasty business, Mr. Weasley, a nasty business. Oh, and it’s such a pity! The week before your wedding!”
“Yes, it was. Please, call me Ron.” Ron felt uncomfortable having a woman so many years his senior call him Mr. Weasley.
“The paper said that it was the second time you’ve had to postpone the wedding. You poor dear. And your poor fiancée, that Professor Granger. Have you set a new date?”
“Not yet,” Ron told her. “We’re looking at early next spring, perhaps.”
“Spring weddings are lovely. My Nathan and I were married in the spring,” Bess got a wistful look on her face. “It was lovely.”
“Where is Mister Carmody?” Ron asked.
“Oh,” Bess’s face grew sad. “He’s gone. A year ago in September.”
“I’m terribly sorry,” Ron said immediately, kicking himself for asking a stupid question.
“Oh, it’s all right,” she said wistfully. “I’ve come to terms. But I’m so lonely here. My daughter keeps owling, wanting me to move in with her and her family. She said I shouldn’t be alone in this big old house. I kept saying no, but now I’m thinking maybe she was right.”
“Oh?” Ron asked.
“Well, with the snow and all, it’s hard for me to get around to the village. I can’t walk very well anymore, and I find it harder and harder to concentrate to Apparate long distances. I have trouble remembering where I’m going.” Ron nodded sympathetically. “I just hate to leave this old house. Gennady Kasparov tried to make us sell once, he wanted to build an apartment complex on this lot and the one next door, but Nathan threw him out.”
Ron had heard of Gennady Kasparov. He was a Russian immigrant who made his fortune in wizarding real estate. His apartment complexes and luxury housing areas were famous across the British Isles.
“He still owns the lot next door,” Bess had continued. “So I’d hate to put the house on the market, since he’d snap it right up.” She sighed. “I’d just hate to see it torn down. It’s such a nice house. I remember how happy it was when the children were growing up.”
Ron took a deep breath to keep from jumping out of his chair. I can’t possibly be this lucky. “Ma’am, just out of curiosity…”
“Oh, please call me Bess.”
“Okay…erm…Bess, just out of curiosity, if you were thinking of selling, how much would you be asking?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’d let my son in law handle all of that, if that’s what it came to. I don’t know anything about any of that. I mean, to me, it’s priceless with all the memories. More tea, my dear?”
“Yes, please, thank you.”
“You’re so lucky, to be young, and just starting out. Some days, it seems like yesterday that Nathan and I were your age. Other days, it seems so far away. You must have everything pretty much planned out then, since you’ve postponed the wedding twice.”
“For the most part,” Ron allowed. “There are few things we haven’t addressed yet.”
“Oh? Like what?” Bess asked, clearly enjoying having company.
“Well, we need to set a new date, and have new invitations printed, that kind of thing. We’re also still looking for a place to live afterwards.”
“Really? I would have thought you would’ve had that taken care of by now,” Bess told him.
“Well, we have a place, I guess. I’ve been staying with my friend Harry, and when Hermione and I got married I was going to move in with her in her quarters at Hogwarts, but that doesn’t quite seem like home.”
“No, of course not. Where have you been looking?” Bess asked.
“Everywhere,” Ron admitted. “I’ve been looking in wizarding conclaves, and in remote areas far away from Muggles. I’d like someplace where we don’t necessarily have to hide everything, and some place with enough space for the family we want to have someday.”
“There’s nothing available?”
Ron shrugged a little. “Well, nothing I can afford. Auror’s pay doesn’t go that far,” he admitted, sipping his tea a little.
Bess nodded sympathetically. “My Nathan, he worked for Cleansweap, the broom company, and he never made a lot, but we got by.” She paused a minute. “There’s nothing available in Hogsmeade?”
Ron shook his head, “Most everything in Hogsmeade is passed down through families, or very expensive, and there’s very little new construction.”
Bess clucked. “A pity really. Having to work around the Muggles is quite inconvenient for us.”
Ron nodded, and looked at his watch. “Well, I should be going, Bess. I should get back to Harry’s flat before he comes looking for me.”
“Oh, of course,” Ron could hear the disappointment in Bess’s voice and he cringed. “I’ll show you out.”
“I don’t suppose I could stop by again for tea?” he asked. Bess brightened immediately.
“Oh, anytime! Anytime!” Bess encouraged. Ron stood on the porch a moment before he started down.
“Beautiful view,” Ron commented, taking the first step down the porch.
“You should see it in the fall,” Bess commented from behind him, as he walked away. “Wonderful with the tree there.”
“I’m sure it is.” Ron waved goodbye and headed back for the Three Broomsticks.
-- -- -- --
When Ron later considered, he didn’t want to go back to Bess’s house. He discovered he was afraid he would try and talk the woman out of her house, and that just wouldn’t be right. He tried to put it out of his mind, and move on. He kept scanning the real estate section of the Prophet and was disappointed daily.
The Healer had cleared him to do limited deskwork, which Kingsley had translated into a half day only, at his desk. Generally, Ron came in during the afternoon hours, after having slept in.
About a week after his visit with Bess in Hogsmeade, he was working at his desk when Harry stuck his head into his cubicle. “Oi, mate, there’s a couple people here to see you. The woman says you were over for tea at her house.” Harry grinned. “Sneakin’ around on Hermione?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Right, Harry.”
“Old woman, Elizabeth Carmody?”
“I know who she is,” Ron answered. “I tried to go for a jog in Hogsmeade the other day, got winded, and leaned on her fence. The poor woman was so lonely she invited me in for tea.”
“Well, she’s here with some bloke, who keeps looking at her like he thinks she’s gone round the bend. Best go see what’s up.”
“All right,” Ron pushed away from the desk and made his way out to the lobby area of the office. Bess was standing there with a tall man with graying hair dressed in sharp looking business robes.
“Hello, Bess,” Ron said, walking up to her and shaking her hand. “It’s good to see you again. What can I do for you?” The man standing next to her blinked hard, his mouth dropping open an inch or two.
“I told you,” Bess shot a glare at the tall man, before turning back to Ron. “It’s good to see you again too, Ron. This is my son-in-law, Reginald.”
“A pleasure,” Ron said, offering Reginald his hand.
“Indeed,” Reginald replied.
“Reggie was trying to tell me that it wasn’t really you the other day.” She glared at him.
“An honest mistake, I’m sure,” Ron smiled quickly. “There are dishonest people in the world.” He nodded at Reginald to show him there were no hard feelings. “What can I do for you? Would you like to sit down? We can take one of the meeting rooms.”
“That would be lovely, thank you,” Reginald said. “Come along Bess.
Ron led them to an empty conference room, and got them seated. “Would you like some tea, perhaps?”
“No, thank you,” Reginald said.
“I’ll have one,” Bess said immediately.
Ron smiled and conjured a teapot and cups. “How do you take it?”
“Cream, and three lumps of sugar.” Ron poured and handed Bess her cup.
“Now, what can I do for you today, Bess?” Ron asked, leaning back in his chair. “Is there something wrong?”
“When you dropped by, you said that you hadn’t found a house yet. Have you found one?”
“No ma’am, we haven’t.”
“I want you to buy mine.”
“Excuse me?” Ron sat up startled.
“I’ve decided that I should move in with my daughter, and I don’t want Gennady Kasparov to get my house, so I want to sell it to you.”
“Ma’am, I’m honored,” he looked over at Reginald who was shaking his head. “I take it you brought Reginald to help work out the details.”
“Oh, yes, of course. I told him to name a fair price, and not a Knut more.”
Reginald looked as if he would have rather taken the small fortune that Gennady Kasparov probably wanted to offer for the land, and Ron took a sudden dislike to the man.
“Well, what are you asking?” Ron asked, directing his question at Reginald.
“The house and the grounds comprise approximately 20 acres, only 5 of which are cleared. We’re asking 120,000 Galleons.”
Ron winced inwardly. It was a bit more than he wanted to spend, but the house was almost perfect.
“120,000 Galleons!” Bess shrieked. “Nathan only paid 20,000 for that house!”
“And that was nearly 100 years ago, Bess,” Reginald said evenly.
“I’m sure the property has increased in value somewhat since then,” Ron said, trying to calm Bess.
“Hmph,” she muttered, glaring at Reginald. “Fine,” she said. “Offer it to him for 100,000.”
“Ma’am, I’m sure the price is fair,” Ron said, even though he wasn’t sure. He was hardly about to take advantage of the old woman. Reginald, in spite of himself, Ron was sure, looked impressed.
“Well, the market is fluctuating somewhat,” Reginald allowed. “I suppose we could come to terms at 110,000.”
“I think you’re being more than fair,” Ron agreed. “I’ll take the house.”
“Good,” Bess declared. “Now I won’t have to worry about Gennady Kasparov tearing it down.”
Ron turned to Reginald. “I’ll need a day or two to obtain the appropriate finances.”
“Of course,” Reginald allowed. He handed over a business card. “You can owl me here, when you’re ready to complete the paperwork.”
“Thank you.” They all stood, and Ron shook Reginald’s hand. Bess gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Do stop by soon, Ron. And bring your fiancée with you. I’m sure she’d love to see the house.”
“I will,” Ron promised.
When they had left, Ron stood in the conference room for a moment, weighing his options. Harry stuck his head in, disturbing his reverie.
“What was that all about?” Harry asked.
“The old woman just sold me her house,” Ron told him.
“What?” Harry wasn’t sure he’d heard right.
“She sold me her house. When I was there, she told me she was thinking of moving in with her daughter. She asked me if Hermione and I had a place yet. I told her no, and she came here today to offer to sell me the house. Apparently, Gennady Kasparov had his eyes on it at one time, and she was afraid to list it publicly. So she sold it to me.”
“How much?” Harry asked.
Harry sucked in a breath. “A little steep, but if it’s what you wanted…”
“The house is perfect Harry. Now I just need to arrange a mortgage,” Ron continued, thinking out loud. “I wonder if Bill can help me…”
Harry laughed. “Ron, what are you thinking?”
“C’mon mate,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “How much do you think you’ll need?”
“Well, I can’t manage all that much as a down payment, but I’ve got a little. I’ll probably need to borrow most of it.”
Harry nodded. “Naturally.”
Ron winced as he did some mental math. “The interest rates are fairly low these days, but still…ouch.”
“Ron, calm down. I know someone who can help.”
“You do?” Ron looked hopeful.
“Of course, you big git,” Harry cuffed him on the shoulder. “I’ll loan you the money, interest free.”
“Harry, I can’t ask you to do that…” Ron protested.
“You didn’t, I’m offering.” Harry shrugged. “Besides, it’s not as if that money’s going anywhere. Listen, I know you’ll want to do this the right way, and everything, so I’ll set it up with my solicitor. Everything will work though him, legal and above board. What do you say?”
Ron considered for a moment, and realized it was perhaps the only way he was going to be able to afford this.
“All right, Harry. You win.”
“Good.” Harry looked at his watch, “I’ve got time now, let’s go down and see my solicitor.”
-- -- -- --
Two days later, Ron signed the deed for the house at Harry’s solicitor’s office. In all respects, the loan from Harry was a true mortgage, except it was interest free. The checks exchanged hands, and Ron shook hands with Reginald, and kissed Bess.
“You come visit me sometime, over in Wales, will you?”
“Of course, Bess,” Ron promised and meaning it. “We’ll be over sometime soon.”
“Take good care of the Haven.”
“Oh yes, that’s what Nathan and I called it. Such a nice name, isn’t it?”
Ron remembered back to the dreams he had at school, about building Hermione a haven from the war. “It’s perfect,” he said.
-- -- -- --
“Ron, I wish you would tell me where we’re going,” Hermione complained as they walked through the snow. It had come down heavily in Hogsmeade the night before, and it made walking difficult.
“It’s just a little further,” Ron encouraged. He spied the house…our house!…and opened the gate.
“Ron, what are you doing?”
“C’mon Hermione, just trust me.”
She followed him up to the porch, looking around a bit at the wide yard, and the tall tree. When they got to the porch Ron opened the door and went in. Hermione followed, confused.
“Ron, whose house is this? We don’t know anyone in Hogsmeade…Ron, this house is empty.”
It was empty. Ron felt a pang of sadness for Bess, hoping that she wouldn’t have had to see it like this for very long. Even empty though, it still felt like home to him. He pointed his wand at the fireplace in the kitchen. “Incendio.” Flames leapt up brightly, illuminating the scrollwork over the mantle.
“The Haven. Wow, that’s beautiful,” Hermione said, running her hands over the carved wood. Ron smiled as she noticed the picture frame on the mantle. She picked it up. It was a picture of the two of them, taken at the Burrow over the summer. “Ron…?”
“It’s a nice picture,” Ron said.
“What’s it doing here?”
“I thought it would look good on the mantle.”
Hermione began to tremble just a little. “Ron, whose house is this?”
“And I was thinking that forest green was a nice color for the shutters.”
“Ron,” Hermione demanded softly, and slowly. “Whose. House. Is. This?” She could barely breathe, knowing what the answer had to be, yet not believing it anyway. How could he…this is…
Ron smiled, and his eyes softened from bright merriment to warm, total love. “It’s ours,” he whispered.
Hermione looked around the room, and could feel tears welling up in her eyes. “It’s not possible,” she whispered. “It’s too much.”
Ron shook his head. “Hell, Hermione, with all that’s happened in our lives, this isn’t even in the same league as impossible.”
“Oh Ron!” She exclaimed throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him soundly. “It’s wonderful! It’s really ours? However did you find it?”
Ron conjured a pair of chairs, and told her the whole story. Hermione listened with rapt attention as her related it to her.
“Ron, this is so wonderful!” she said again, looking around her in amazement. “This is our house.”
Ron nodded. “The Haven.” Ron took her by the hand. “C’mon, I haven’t even had a chance to see the upstairs yet.”
They wandered through the empty house hand in hand, looking in on the various rooms, talking about the furniture they would buy. Hermione gushed about the house, chattering away about the architecture and the woodworking. Ron stopped in the doorway to a bedroom upstairs. The room was painted a pale blue, and had a window seat. In his mind’s eye, he could picture Hermione sitting in a rocking chair in the sunlight, humming gently to a baby boy cradled in her arms. He could see the little cot and the mobile turning slowly above it.
“…and we could put a table here in the hallway, Ron, are you listening?”
“Hmm?” he asked, tearing his eyes away from the scene he had created.
“What are you looking…oh,” Hermione said finished softly, looking in the room finally. She walked into the middle of the room and looked around. She sat down on the window seat, and Ron joined her. He looked at her and their eyes met, and she nodded. He smiled, and put his arm around her shoulders, letting his hand fall down to rest on her stomach. “Someday, soon,” she whispered.
Ron pulled her close and breathed deeply, drinking in her scent. They had a home now, even though they hadn’t managed the married part, and someday, they would work on filling this new home with love and family.