Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 35 of 45

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Ron had longed to have a lie in for months. He had dreamt about it nearly every morning this year when he'd had to wake to maintain the fire or take over watch. Most mornings he'd had to get up before the sun was even up yet. He'd thought about nothing but curling under the covers and sleeping until noon. He'd wake up to the smell of bacon frying. He'd be a lazy sod the entire morning and nobody would criticize him for it because he deserved it. He deserved to lie in bed all day and not worry about gathering food for their next meal or the safest place to travel to next. But for all the times he'd pictured doing just this he never dared to dream Hermione would be there in the bed next to him.

They remembered to close the curtains last night so both had been able to sleep later than the last three mornings. Neither made an attempt to move when their eyes opened; they just grinned at each other from across the pillow. When Ron got up to use the toilet, legs and limbs tangled quickly and hands explored comfortably as soon as he returned to the bed. Ron found it difficult to believe four days ago they were still arguing about Viktor Krum and Lavender Brown.

"You still taste like kebabs," she laughed against his lips.

"I can go brush my teeth." He pretended to leave the bed.

"No, no, it's fine." She wrestled him back to her. There was no effort to start the day or commence the search for the Grangers. "I just want to stay like this. I want to stay like this all day."

"Well, we can't stay like this all day," he chided.

"Why not?" she pouted as she said the words, but appeared quite serious.

"Because we have seventy-eight more practices to visit," he reminded, biting her pouty bottom lip. Finding her parents was why they were here. Finding her parents was why they were here. He had to repeat it in his head like a mantra. Even more now that Hermione was seeming to lose sight of it.

"I wonder what they would think if they could see me," she mused then, rolling back her head as Ron continued to kiss her chin, neck, and jaw.

"They'd probably want to flay me," he muttered against her skin with a laugh.

"You've been quite the gentleman." Her fingers coiled around his shirt and she pressed her hand to his chest.

"Most of the time." He raised his head and grinned.

"You were a gentleman last night," she reminded him and she smiled as she said the words, twisting his shirt between her fingers. Maybe he had done the right thing stopping, after all.

"I suppose," he gave a sheepish grin. "Five more minutes and I probably wouldn't have been."

"Did you know my mum's the one who taught me about sex?" she blurted out and Ron's eyes bulged at the frank words. It was the first time either one had said the word outright. "You know, the mechanics of it and what goes where and how it all works," she laughed as if this was the most natural story in the world to tell.

"I - er - um - I don't think I've ever even heard my mum say the word sex," Ron stammered. Now he'd said it too.

"I remember when she first explained it - " She rolled onto her back and smiled at the memory. "I couldn't wrap my head around how anybody would ever want to do that. Why any girl would ever want…that…there…" Her voice drifted off and Ron's attention was piqued as he noticed she didn't correct herself and say how she felt about the act now. He turned to her and propped himself up on his elbow, wondering if they were actually talking about sex or if she was merely talking about her parents. The latter, like any time she talked about her parents, made him strangely uncomfortable, especially in light of last night's events. Hermione seemed to have forgotten that he'd found her balled on the floor in tears. "Third year she talked to me about boys. I reckon she could tell from my letters I was starting to fancy you and she wanted me to be careful."

"You fancied me third year?" Ron laughed in amazement, eager to steer the conversation away from her mum.


"I did start to realise you had tits third year." He casually slipped his hands beneath her shirt then like he had last night and gave one a squeeze.

"Breasts," she corrected, but he couldn't help but notice that she seemed to enjoy it.

"Whatever." He grinned, pleased with himself

"Fifth year she taught me how to be safe," Hermione continued talking while his hands continued to work beneath her shirt. Still unsure whether the point of her story was her relationship with her mum or sex with him, he began nuzzling her neck, hoping it was the latter. "You know, the Muggle way. She told me that - if - if you love someone it was just a natural thing. You know, a natural part of every relationship."

"Your mum said that?" Ron dragged his lips off her a moment. He could hardly imagine his mum having that kind of conversation with Ginny.

"Mmmhmm." Hermione took his face between her hands. "Now, my dad on the other hand…"

"Let's not talk about your dad right now, eh?" He dropped his mouth to the spot on her throat he knew she liked kissed, tired of being a gentleman. "Or your mum?" His hands moved to rest low on her stomach, tracing circles and hovering dangerously low to the drawstring on her pyjamas. He could hardly believe how much had changed in four days in Australia. He could hardly believe it was already Sunday. It had been a week since they'd set off from the Burrow, a week of just the two of them.

That meant Fred had been in the ground for over a week.

Ron almost cursed aloud against her lips. He hadn't thought of his brother much at all this week. Little things would remind him of him of course, like the Muggle joke shop they'd passed yesterday and the ghastly green alligator-skin boots for sale he knew Fred would have loved. He still thought about him at random times throughout the day. But he was no longer the first and last thing that he thought about.

His lifeless face still appeared in his nightmares, but they were interspersed with Greyback's smashed head, Lavender Brown's mangled face, Peter Pettigrew strangling himself with his own hand, or more frequently than not the last three nights, Hermione's crumpled form beneath the chandelier. In a twisted way, he thought he was getting better, at least when it came to Fred. He couldn't understand why, of all the moments in the world, he had to think about him now. But he pictured his brother Apparating into the hotel room and discovering them like they were beneath the sheets. He'd say something crass, something about the way his thigh was positioned between her legs. Merlin, how he'd take the piss if he knew about this suite and the champagne and the enormous bed and the things they did on it. Ron thought about his return to the Burrow after this trip and what it would be like to return again and not have Fred there to take the piss. He wondered if George would still do it without his twin there to join in.

"So do your rules still apply?" Hermione's words, whispered against his skin, brought him back to reality.

"What rules?" He breathed the words against her, trying to shake the knowledge that his brother had been dead for two weeks and think about Hermione.

"You know, from the other night? About what we can do, you know, in bed like this?"

Ron remembered the conversation she was referring to their first night in this fancy suite. He collapsed against her as he recalled the words. He had made rules. He'd laid them down in this bed the last time she'd done exactly this. She'd teased him about no self control and he'd laid into her as well.

"I guess - I mean - " He stammered over how to ask her what he really wanted, how to inquire if last night hadn't been about her grief as much as they both thought it had and if her story about her mum was actually her way of trying to tell him she wanted to have sex with him. "They still stand if...if yours do."

He turned the query back on her. She didn't respond, just slowly raked her hands through his hair contemplatively. Taking her silence as confirmation that she still wanted to wait, he remained crushed against her, fighting the urge to say how stupid he thought this all was. They wanted each other. They loved each other. They both knew it. This was fucking stupid.

"Okay," he sighed against her, trying to be supportive and patient and all that shit that took every ounce of willpower.

"It's just I...I still think about them, my parents," she admitted quietly.

"What? Like what they'd think of all this?" he laughed, looking down at their entwined bodies beneath the sheet.

"No, I mean I think about them like when - when we're...we're..." The obvious pinkening in her cheeks gave away her stammering.

The confession was right on his lips. He wanted to admit he'd just been thinking about his dead brother moments ago too as she was grinding against him, but like last night he remained silent. This wasn't about him. It was about her. He swallowed the words about Fred and tried to be supportive. "And I feel so guilty," she breathed then and Ron could hear a despair in her voice that was all too familiar. Somehow they'd gone from a lazy morning lie in to an intense snogging session back to last night in a matter of minutes.

This was all the other stuff she was talking about. This was why she wanted to wait, he knew. This is why sex was a bad idea. She'd probably burst into tears halfway through it.

Still, he couldn't help but think this is what it would always be like. They'd always be fucked up. The things they'd endured wouldn't ever go away. Even if Hermione got her parents back, she still had to live with what she did to them and his brother would never take the piss again. This would always be their life.

"You're allowed to...feel good." He didn't mean anything suggestive by the comment and he moved a hand to her waist in support as they now lay on their sides facing each other. Her eyes closed instinctively at the intimate touch, but a look of consternation quickly followed.

"It just feels wrong," she groaned tortuously. "Because I'm not - not thinking about them and I'm not looking for them and all - all I think about, all I want is to be here with you!"

Ron tried to ignore the part where he was all she thought about and remind himself he'd confessed almost the exact same thing to Hermione barely a week ago up in the bedroom of her empty home. He tried to remember what she'd said to him then.

"That's okay," he tried lamely.

"No, it's not! They're my parents, Ron. My mum and dad. And they're out there somewhere and all I want to do is lie in bed with you and - and - "

"And?" He raised his eyebrows in question.

Hermione didn't respond. She just squeezed her eyes shut and lay back on the bed, sniffling back what he knew were tears

"You're fine," he moved his hand from her waist to her stomach, trying to soothe her. It felt like last night all over again, only this time he vowed not to take the easy way. He wouldn't just kiss her. He'd stay here with her until she calmed down and could talk about it. Maybe they could talk about it together. Maybe he didn't have to keep his own guilt hidden away.

He still felt it. The shame that he was having a grand old time Down Under with Hermione while his family was likely still in mourning on the other side of the world. He still felt things about Fred. About the last time he'd seen him and talked with him. He didn't trust himself to talk about it though. If he talked about his brother he was likely to fall apart too. Then they'd both be a fucking mess. He had to stay strong for Hermione.

"We should go," she finally stated after a good long while of lying there beside each other. She made no effort to move after she spoke.

"Okay." The clock beside the bed showed it was nearly 11 AM.

"But maybe in like ten minutes." She rolled toward him and snaked her arm around his torso.


"It's just this," she explained, hugging him.

"Yeah, it is," Ron agreed, moving his arm out from beneath her so he could move it around her shoulders.

"I do want to find them," she assured out of the blue.

"I know."

"It's just - I just - " she stammered.

"It's fine. We can lie in a bit longer." He gave her a supportive squeeze as she snuggled closer. He didn't know anything about relationships, but he wondered if most couples reached this point after just two weeks together. He couldn't help but feel like they were special somehow. Better than anyone else out there. Years of friendship had done this, had made it so they could lie together like this beneath the sheets and have it feel like the most natural thing in the world.

"What do you suppose Harry's doing?" he asked out of the blue, his eyes resting on the beaded bag across the room.

"What, right now?" Hermione looked confused.


"Probably still sleeping," she reminded him.

"Well, right." Ron felt foolish for forgetting the time change. "It just feels weird, y'know? Being so far away. Not knowing what he's doing."

"You're not his keeper," Hermione laughed.

"I'm his best mate."

"Well, I imagine he's probably doing the same thing you are," she said, glancing down at their tangled legs. Ron blanched at the thought and then let out a derisive snort.

"Not under my mum's roof, he's not."

"I expect then he'll be doing it outside."

"Doing it?" Her choice of words set him aflame. "Are you saying Harry and my sister are doing it?"

"No more than we are," she shrugged, but the comment was hardly a comfort. They'd talked about it, discussed it so many times now he was already losing count.

"You nearly stopped my heart."

"Please, Ron, you have to get used to it," Hermione laughed. "If they haven't yet - "


" -they will at some point."

"I'd rather not think on it," he grumbled.

"Then don't think about Harry." She patted his chest playfully.

"Don't think about Harry. Don't think about Fred - "

"Who said don't think about Fred- "

"What do you want me to think about?" he cut her off, teasing playfully.

"Me," she stated obviously.

"I don't think you want to know how often I think about you," Ron confessed with a grin.

"How often do you think about me?" He enjoyed the playful and flirtatious tone to her voice.

"All the time," he remarked without a moment's hesitation.

"All the time?"


"When you're eating?" she tried him.


"When you're sleeping?"


"When you're in the shower?"

"Especially when I'm in the shower." He raised his eyebrows, reminding her of the circumstances that had caused him to retreat to the shower last night.

Rolling her eyes and blushing only slightly, he felt her abdominals tighten beneath his hand as she rose up to climb out of the bed to start the day.

It was the first time she'd taken the initiative since their first full day in Brisbane and he was grateful to see a slight spring in her step. He wasn't sure whether it was simply that they'd slept later or the playful lie-in, but she seemed happy, hopeful even. He loved everything about it. He loved everything about this hotel room. He could make her happy here and he had a sudden realisation.

He was happy when he was making her happy. He was happier than he could remember being for a long time.

Yet as he watched her reach for a jumper to cover the scars on her arms, he knew their happiness was always short-lived. He was reluctant to say anything as he didn't want to ruin the jovial mood. She'd already been in tears once that morning after all and he didn't even want to think about last night. Still, he couldn't ignore it anymore. It was one more thing weighing on her, keeping her apart from him.

"You won't be needing that today. It's going to be twenty-four again.." He reached tenderly for her wrist.

"Yes, but it gets chilly down along the water."

"You've got me to keep you warm." He wrapped both arms around her from behind and kissed her neck playfully.

"But - "

"Leave it behind," he whispered against her. His long fingers wrapped around her arm as he spoke, feeling the tiny bumps and scars beneath them. He felt her shudder, but she didn't withdraw. So he moved his fingers higher up to the coarse green bandage he now realised she'd worn since Shell Cottage. She changed it twice daily, he'd figured out. Once in the morning and then right before bed. She treated it too with more than just Dr. Ubbly's, something that had a hint of rose oil and aconite. He could smell it at night when she climbed into bed. He hated that she hid it.

He stood behind her, his head craned so he was breathing warmly into her neck, and he kept his hand over the bandage as he continued to hold her. His breath came slow and deep. He didn't say anything, but he was asking her. She knew he was.

"You have to promise not to…" Both her voice and her hands trembled as she slowly turned around to face him.

"Promise not to what?"

Hermione didn't respond, but, slowly and shakily, her fingers began unwrapping the dressing. She averted her eyes from his the moment the bandage dropped to the floor and Ron's eyes rested on the ghastly wound.

At first, he didn't even realise what it was. The marks were a shockingly bright purplish-maroon color and the skin all around them was still inflamed. He felt bile rising in his throat at that sight alone before he even realized what the cuts spelled out.


There it was, carved into her arm for all to see.

"Why's it still red like that?" Ron didn't mean for his voice to sound so panicky or his fingers to grip her arm so tightly as he seized her arm, but he couldn't help himself. The wounds themselves had closed. The skin had come together and there was no longer an open wound, but the cuts were still red and shiny, almost like a burn. "It shouldn't look like that still!" He looked down at the other scars on her arms that had healed up much better. "We have to get you to St. Mungo's!" He shouted, ignoring the fact that they were on the other side of the world from St. Mungo's and to his knowledge nowhere near a magical hospital.

"They wouldn't be able to do anything," Hermione replied, sounding surprisingly calm. "The knife was cursed. That's what Fleur says."

"Well, she's not a healer!" Ron snorted.

"Ron - " she interjected calmly.

"Why are all these healed?" He didn't mean to turn her arms over so roughly, but he couldn't help himself. The other wounds had healed up. They were just faint pink scars criss-crossing her arms.

"Because this was deeper," Hermione spoke calmly. "She – she cut deeper."

"Hermione." His voice trembled, feeling the bile rising in his throat again at the mere thought.

"I'm fine."

"Stop saying that." He set his jaw firmly. "You don't have to do that with me."

"It's why I still have this too." She ignored his protestations and calmly pointed to the small place on her neck where Bellatrix's knife had also dug into her flesh. Ron winced, recalling how the knife had supported Hermione's unconscious body. "It dug in deeper and since the blade was cursed..." Ron looked down at her forearm, the crude letters stood out sharply from the pale smoothness of her skin, making the other scars pale in comparison.

"So it'll…it'll always look like this?"

"Fleur thinks it will scar eventually, but -"

"You need to go to St. Mungo's. Fleur's not - "

"- she said it would be fine."

"She's not a healer!" Ron thundered again.

"I'm all right, Ron," she stated calmly and sucked in a deep breath.

"Then how come you're hiding it?" he finally asked after a lengthy pause. He knew she wasn't ashamed of being Muggleborn. She'd referred to herself as a Mudblood, much to his abhorrence, back at Shell Cottage. But that bad been nearly six weeks ago. And now here was the mark, still there, defacing her arm for everyone to see.

"Because it's still healing." She shrugged and moved to pick the bandages up off the floor.

"Why did you hide it from me?" He stayed her hand, unable to disguise the hurt in his voice. The question caused Hermione to swallow loudly and look away from him.

"Because I knew how you'd react," she replied meekly.

"What? Wanting you to go to St. Mungo's?" Ron replied defensively.

"Wanting to fix me," she replied quietly.

"Fix you?" He frowned at the negative connotation that there something wrong with Hermione that needed correcting.

"It'll always be there."

"We don't know that – we can go to St. Mungo's when we get back and - "

"It will always be there, Ron." Hermione looked down to her arm and at last met Ron's eyes.

His grip on her arm loosened. Softly, he moved his thumb over one of the cuts, tracing the outline of a single dark purple letter, as if rubbing it with his thumb could wipe it away. The first one looked to be the deepest by far.

"Does it hurt at all?" he asked, his voice thick with worry, just imagining Bellatrix Lestrange gleefully taking a knife to Hermione's skin.

"No," she replied immediately. He narrowed his eyes as he looked up at her, making sure she wasn't lying to him. His insides twisted about as he stared at her forearm. The wound seemed like nothing more than yet another glaring reminder of how helpless he'd been to stop her torment. He wondered if she knew how guilty he felt, whether she knew that sometimes when he was falling asleep he thought about different ways he could have saved her. He'd be faster, smarter, quicker. He'd disarm both the Malfoys first, punch Draco in the face, then take out Greyback and Bellatrix with the chandelier like Dobby had. If only he'd been as clever as the elf to think of that.

Their eyes locked for the first time during the entire exchange. And he knew they were both thinking about the Malfoys then.

"Right. Just let me - " She fiddled with the bandage and Ron saw she was making to wrap it around the wound again.

"Why are you covering it again?" he frowned and stayed her hand.

"Because it's not healed and the Muggles - they'll – they'll see."

"They won't have a sodding idea what that even means," Ron scoffed.

"But it'll...look strange," she admitted meekly, moving her hand over her arm.

"Since when do you care about how people look at you?" Ron snorted. "You're Hermione effing Granger!"

"I care about how people look at me," she mumbled softly, like she was afraid to disappoint him.

"Not to me you didn't," he confessed. "You didn't care what anyone thought when you knew all the answers our first day of Potions class, did you? Or whenever people told you your elf hats looked like wooly bladders?"

"That was just you." Hermione managed a weak smile.

"Oh, right," he grinned in a way that indicated he'd known perfectly well it was just him who'd insulted her knitting. "Point is, you've never been a person to hide from who you are."

"That's not true. I - I let Madame Pomfrey fix my teeth fourth year," she confessed guiltily.

"And I tried to get rid of some of my freckles fourth year too," Ron admitted with a laugh. "I think I only succeeded in giving myself more." He held out his freckled arm to show her the results. "But that's not what I'm talking about. I mean who you are, really." He paused for a moment, working up the courage to admit the bold words he was about to say. "What I love about you." After three days, he was still getting used to exchanging "I love you's" and the bold declaration seemed to surprise even her.

"I reckon this – all that's happened, what happened to you..." Ron touched the scar on her neck softly with the back of his index finger. She flinched, but he didn't withdraw. "It's all just a part of who we are now, that's all." Hermione sniffled and peered up at him. There was a respect he wasn't often used to seeing etched in her face.

"You know you're starting to sound like a grown up," she confessed. Her voice still sounded thick like she was stifling back tears so Ron pulled her to him again.

"Don't tell anybody."

They weren't the giggly and affectionate couple of their first morning in Australia, but they weren't the morose couple that trudged back to the hotel last night, either. They set out from the hotel with a fresh and renewed vigor to locate her parents, working together to navigate those parts of the city they had yet to explore. He could see her try valiantly not to let each unsuccessful attempt bring her down, even as the list of practices left grew shorter and shorter. Even Ron had difficulty concealing his disappointment at each negative reply from a receptionist.

"I'm afraid not."

"No, ma'am."

"No, they do not."

No matter how many different ways they answered the inquiry about whether or not Wendell and Monica Wilkins worked there, the outcome was the same. Each time, he just gave Hermione's hand a supportive squeeze. He was pleased that at least today she was squeezing it back. Last night had seemed to change things. It seemed to have brought her back to him for good. He wondered how long she'd been holding in that guilt.

Still she pressed on and only the rain clouds that appeared and began to fall on them halted their search. They attempted to continue on, but the faint drizzle soon turned into a downpour. He suggested simply taking shelter and waiting out the rain, but after ten minutes with no sign of the rainfall abating, he had difficulty arguing with her request to return to the hotel.

"You know this city better than me now," she remarked as he led them straight to the purple Cleveland bus, climbed aboard, paid the fare and led them to two empty seats.

"I doubt it," he dismissed, but he couldn't help but notice the admiring way she looked at him. "What?"

"I don't know. I just...never thought I'd see you so at ease in the Muggle world," she remarked quietly, trying to contain a tiny smile.

"It makes you happy, does it?" He remembered his realisation from that morning and grinned. "Me using these silly coins with the kangaroo on them?"


"And riding the bus?"


"Turns you on a little bit, does it?" he teased with a wag of his eyebrows. She tried to look offended at the remark, but Ron could see there was some truth to the teasing comment. She enjoyed his newfound confidence in Muggle areas. He could tell by the way she was stroking his hand atop her lap. He filed away the reminder with a smile as she yawned loudly, closed her eyes and leaned into his shoulder.

Of course, she was tired. He felt foolish for not realising that her desire to return to the hotel was likely due more to lack of sleep than the rain. She'd slept so poorly last night, constantly turning and readjusting her position in the bed. She had thrown her arm across his chest and nestled next to him, then tried retreating to the other side of the bed. Then she tried sleeping on her back, then her stomach. It was the most restless she'd ever been and he wondered if talking about what had happened to her had made it worse. Last night had been the first time she'd voluntarily mentioned the Malfoys'. He knew that had to mean something. Staring out at the river that looked almost black on this rainy day, he just wrapped an arm around her like he had last night and gave a squeeze.

The rain had slowed slightly by the time the bus reached the Southbank, but they still both got wet as they walked briskly toward the hotel. Hermione clung to his arm, leaning into it like on the bus, and he sensed she would be making no phone calls that afternoon.

Vic, the hotel worker who'd first showed them to their suite, tipped his hat to them as they entered the hotel and made the familiar walk to the lift. Ron wanted to laugh thinking about how much had changed in just a few short days. They'd been so nervous when they first walked into the South Bank Hotel, both about being in this city and around each other. He hadn't told her he loved her. They hadn't truly shared a bed. They hadn't talked about anything. He reckoned it would have taken at least another month at the Burrow to get them where four days in Australia had. This whole situation, being on their own, taking care of each other. He found it oddly thrilling.

"Why don't you go have a kip in the bedroom?" he suggested as she let out a great yawn the moment they crossed the threshold to their suite. "I can make the calls out here."

"You sure?" She yawned again.

"I'm positive." He kissed her atop her wet head and gave her a shove to the door. "Have a shower while you're at it, you're soaked."

"You are too."

"I'll be fine," he dismissed. "I reckon the sun'll be out soon enough. I'll dry off outside."

"You don't want to come and kip too?" She rubbed her eyes.

"Maybe after I finish." He reached for the list of practices left to call. "If you're still asleep."

"I won't be down long," she assured.

Two hours later Ron had only twenty practices left to call and he hadn't heard a sound from Hermione.

He wondered if she remembered her own nightmares at all, even if only in bits and fragments like he did. He hated it so much. Everything else about sleeping beside her was perfect, but every toss and turn, every time she trembled or murmured in her sleep, was a painful reminder of how he'd failed her. Just like the Mudblood scar, just like this seemingly ill-fated search for her parents.

Ron sighed and looked down to the dwindling list of practices. He took his time through the list, a pit growing in his stomach with each one he checked off. He wondered what Hermione would do when she woke up and he told her he'd made it through every single dentist in the entire Brisbane metropolitan area without so much as a hint of Wendell or Monica Wilkens. She'd been so strong today. He felt a tremendous swell of pride and respect at her familiar determination and refusal to quit. Even in the ever-increasing odds that they would not locate her parents.

Trying to summon up the same courage she had, Ron dialed the next practice on the list, readying himself for the familiar and brief exchange of words.

"Good afternoon! Rondell Family Dentistry, how can I help you?"

"Yeah, hi. I want to make an appointment. Do Dr. Wendell and Monica Wilkins work here?"

"No, they don't," the receptionist replied curtly. Ron took in a deep breath, preparing himself for the familiarities and thank yous that followed each rejection, but the receptionist cut him before he could speak: "But they used to."


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 35 of 45

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