Continuing Tales


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 43 of 45

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The half mile strip of land to which Hermione's parents had moved was flanked on one side by the Indian Ocean and by the Swan River on the other. Ron decided he liked the river side better. As beautiful and exotic as the Indian Ocean was, he preferred the calmness and familiarity of the river. They took breakfast down along the riverbank like they had the morning back in Brisbane, bacon butties and a cup of coffee for Hermione.

"You're sure you can do it?" Ron asked softly.

"I told you, lifting the spell is much easier than casting it the first time," she assured, "like with any spell."

"Right." He moved his hand atop hers and her eyes closed instinctively.

He could see her go somewhere else at the action. He didn't think a gentle caress of the hand could speak so much, but after last night the simple action of the pads of his fingers brushing the top of her hand seemed to take them both back.

It had been good.

It had been good in a way that made him want to do little else. That had been it. That had been the kind of sex that put her fears about never being able to stop into perspective. He surprised himself at their ability to even leave the bed this morning. They lost themselves for a moment in memories of last night and he wondered how they were supposed to get anything done today, nevertheless something as important as lifting the spell on her parents. He couldn't keep himself from kissing her. He didn't know how many kisses they would have left in Australia. It would be an adjustment going back to life at the Burrow with his mum's rules and his empty bed. He'd miss this freedom. He'd miss this world where she was truly the only thing that mattered. It made everything else so much easier.

"I bet you were bare arsed naked when I came in the room this morning, weren't you?" Hugo's voice suddenly sounded from behind them. He'd taken his breakfast at a park further down the river, in an attempt to give them a bit of privacy, which was odd considering the way he'd stormed into their room this morning. He cackled with laughter at her reaction, which all but confirmed his hunch.

Ron had difficulty suppressing a grin at the memory and the way Hermione had shrieked at him to leave. Ron wondered what on earth she would do if he revealed that half the things he'd done to her last night had been Hugo's suggestions.

"I was wearing pyjamas." Hermione lied, wrapping her jacket further around her shoulders self-consciously just like she'd done with the sheets that morning.

"Yeah, sure you were." He clucked at her teasingly.

"Shut it, would you?" Ron shoved him in the arm.

"So what did you want to talk about this morning?" He sat down beside them on the banks of the river. "Sounded important before you kicked me out the room."

"Right." The words reminded Ron of what they faced today. "Do you want to go see David and Emily with us this morning?"


"And would you be willing to do something for us?"


"It's gonna be one of those things of those things where you just have to have faith," Ron phrased delicately. "It's not going to make much sense what happens, but you just need to trust us."

"Sure." Hugo's simple responses helped put Ron at ease. "Just tell me what I gotta do."

Fortunately, Hermione's nervous energy didn't seem to affect Hugo, but Ron could practically feel his own heart racing as they walked hand-in-hand to the corner of Somerset and Wayne. They'd gone over it nearly ten times. He wouldn't really say much. Mostly he would just be there to look at Hermione and give her the strength she needed. Her parents would recognise Hugo, after all. They wouldn't know Ron. That ought to make this easier. He hoped they might be outside like yesterday so they didn't have to knock on the door. For some reason that seemed more foreboding.

When the house came into view he felt Hermione's hand squeeze his one last time before detaching.

"Good luck." He cradled her face in his hands and kissed her, knowing the next time he did it, it would no longer just be the two of them. Hugo strode confidently up the walkway to the front door, a happy bounce to his step while Ron just shuffled nervously along behind him. Hermione remained behind them, waiting by the road, shifting her weight nervously from foot to foot. He wasn't sure how this would go. Even with magic, her ability to walk undetected into the house would be tricky.

Hugo knocked three times, then looked over to Ron with a half grin as he waited for the Grangers to appear. Her mum opened the door and for the first time ever Ron looked at Mrs. Granger and tried to see Hermione in her.

"Hugo!" she exclaimed and immediately reached out to embrace the young man. "What are you doing here? Have you come to visit? Who is this? Is this a friend of yours? David, come quick! It's Hugo!"

Ron grinned. There was Hermione. He could see it now in the shape of her smile and the enthusiastic way she babbled.

"Do I know you?" Her eyes rested on Ron a moment and the smile quickly dropped from his face.

"Um. sort of." He wasn't quite sure how else to respond.

"Well, any friend of Hugo's is a friend of ours!" she welcomed warmly and motioned for them to enter the house. Ron glanced behind to where Hermione stood across the street, nodded his head and then disappeared into the Granger home. This was it. Depending on how things went, in a few short minutes she'd have her parents back.

Her dad looked taller than Ron remembered. Taller even than when he'd seen him yesterday, though Ron wondered if that was because in a few minutes he'd stop being a stranger and start being Hermione's boyfriend.

"Hugo!" He took long powerful strides over to Hugo and clapped him on the back. "Why didn't you let us know you were coming? Who is this with you?"

"Ron." Hugo motioned. "This is my friend, Ron." Ron smiled at how naturally Hugo spoke the words and the bit of truth they conveyed.

"Ron, nice to meet you." He gripped Ron's hand and shook it hard. "Have we met before?" His eyes narrowed as he asked the same question his wife had.

"Ron drove from Brisbane with me," Hugo spoke brightly, changing the subject. They chatted innocently then, taking a seat in the two chairs in the sitting room her mum motioned to as she hurried off to the kitchen to bring her two guests some tea.

Ron looked around the house, nervously glancing at his watch and wondering how long five minutes could really feel. He drank his tea silently, saying little while Hugo talked at length about life in Brisbane and the drive across the continent. They kept looking at Ron funny and he could see that somehow, someway they remembered his face. He wondered just how much of Hermione's spell had failed. He wondered how they would react if they were to see her right now.

As if on cue, he watched as she noiselessly crept through the front door and into the sitting room. The Silencing Charm worked perfectly and neither the closing door nor her footsteps made a sound.

"Brisbane's been same old same old, really. I got the last of the mail for you. Stopped by the house one last time before I left," he informed, wiping crumbs off his face with his sleeve. "That's where I met Ron and your daughter."

At the word 'daughter' Ron saw something shift inside her parents. They both laughed in confusion at the seemingly ridiculous statement, but they exchanged a look, too. A look that said somehow something about the word 'daughter' rang true.

That's when Ron gave Hugo the signal.

The young man closed his eyes obediently and Ron watched as Hermione's eyes locked on his for a moment before speaking the incantation she'd practiced nearly one hundred times that morning. Her wrist turned to the right then to the left and then flexed upward first for her mother and then her father.

There was no jet of light to show that it worked. Her parents' eyes grew bleary and out of focus and then they looked back and forth between Hugo and then Ron. Her mum's eyes rested on his the longest.

"Ron?" There was a recognition in her voice that was lacking when Hugo had first introduced him. "Ron Weasley?" Her voice sounded more hysterical now. "How? What? What are you doing here?" She looked to Hugo for answers, but the young man's eyes were still closed.

"Can I open them yet?" he asked Ron comically.


"What's going on?" her father spoke now. "How do you - is Hermione here?"

"I'm right here," Hermione spoke meekly from behind the sofa. Her parents whirled around at the sound of her voice. Then the moment he knew she'd both dreaded and hoped for for months arrived.

They turned around and they recognised her.

"Hermione?" Ron could see whatever magic the curse had done was gone, as her mum began to step around the sofa to her daughter. Hermione remained motionless, watching her mum's movements nervously, awaiting the interrogation. Instead, Mrs. Granger wrapped her arms around her daughter and hugged her so fiercely Ron could see Hermione didn't know how to respond. Her arms hung limply by her sides at first. "I - I feel like I haven't seen you in months," her mum confessed tearily. "Oh, Hermione." She smoothed down her daughter's wild hair with her hand and only then did Ron see Hermione's arms finally tighten around her mum. She squeezed her eyes shut and Ron could tell by the shape of her mouth and the crease in her brow as she buried her face in her mum's shoulder that she was now fighting back tears.

Her dad waited patiently for them to disentangle before embracing his daughter just as firmly. This time Hermione wasn't motionless. She threw her arms around her father's neck and hugged him tightly. And Ron could see then just how much she missed them. She didn't talk about them or carry around their picture, but they were her mum and dad.

There were tears all around as they all took turns embracing. Ron watched her parents grasp each other deliriously then both wrap their arms around their daughter again. He had trouble making out where the sniffling was coming from, they were all laughing and crying so much. This was better than anything Hermione had hoped for, he knew. Ron stood silently by, unsure what to do and almost feeling like he should excuse himself. This was Granger family business and suddenly he felt very much like a stranger.

"I'll just - er - I think I'll go for a walk," Hugo stood up and excused himself, seeming to be thinking the same thing.

"No, please stay, Hugo." Her mum wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand like Hermione always did.

"I'll come back tonight. Let you...catch up." Ron looked to the young man, whose face looked a bit sad somehow underneath the smile as he walked toward the door.

"Oh, do come back for dinner," her mum invited. "I want to know how you found her or how she found you and how this all happened! I - I can't remember…" Her voice began to tremble and Ron looked over to Hermione nervously. "How come I can't remember?"

Ron saw Hermione lick her lips and then look to him for help. This was the moment she had feared, he knew. The moment that had caused her to retreat every time he asked her about her parents, the uncertainty of which scared her so much she'd almost stopped trying to find them. The moment that, despite having a whole year to prepare for, she didn't have the slightest idea of how to proceed.

"It was magic, wasn't it?" her dad finally spoke quietly and scratched his head. "That's why we can't remember, isn't it?" He didn't sound angry, but he didn't sound pleased by the prospect, either.

"Magic," her mother scoffed, but the sight of Hermione's face caused the ridiculous smile to fall from her face. "Is he right? Did someone do something?" she gasped. "Did - did you do something?

"M - maybe you should sit down," Hermione stammered, motioning back to the sofa.

"Did Hugo leave already?" Mr. Granger looked toward the front door anxiously, sounding a bit dismayed that the only thing familiar that he could remember had left.

"He just stepped out for a walk," Ron spoke up finally from his spot on the other side of the sofa. Her father looked at him then for the first time and despite the fact that Ron had several inches on her father, he suddenly felt like he was two feet high. He could see the wheels spinning then about more than just why his memory of the last ten months was failing him. He could see him making out why Ron had not retreated like Hugo had.

"Maybe you ought to join him," he suggested softly. It wasn't a direct threat, but the pointed words made Ron take an obliging step back.

"She saved your lives," Ron blurted out then. "I'll give you a minute." He looked to her father in acknowledgment. "But just - whatever she tells you...remember that."

He paced outside in the garden, wondering if he'd made the right decision in leaving her alone. He could hear shrill voices and shouts and sometimes he'd have his hand on the glass patio door, but then he'd stop. They were her parents. This was her story to tell and not his. Still, he paced nervously, wondering what she was telling them.

He wondered how much of the last year she'd reveal, whether she'd tell them she had spent ten months sharing a tent with Ron before or after she broke the news that he was her boyfriend. Either way, he could not see it ending well for him. He wondered if she'd tell them all that had happened to her, whether she'd roll up her sleeves and show them, or if she'd decide they didn't need to worry about her.

It grew quiet for a time and Ron was tempted to return, but he waited. Eventually, she came to the door. Her face was red and tear-stained, not as bad as it had been after finding their empty house back in Brisbane, but certainly not what he had hoped to see.

"You didn't have to leave." She wiped at her eyes.

"I just thought I'd give you...y'know, time alone," Ron mumbled.

"They're angry," she spoke simply and sniffled loudly. He said nothing and just crushed her to his chest in an apologetic hug flooded with unintentional memories of last night as she gripped him tightly. They stood in the garden holding each other and Ron wished the sun would come out from behind the cloud it had disappeared behind. He wished Hugo would come and relieve the tension in the house like he always did. He hadn't known what to expect and, truthfully, he knew it would be tense, but he had hoped her parents would be so glad to have her back in their lives the rest would be forgotten. For a moment it seemed like that might happen, but then the hazy memories from the last year had caught up to them.

As if on cue, they both appeared from behind the glass door. Her father's arms were crossed against his chest and his lips were pressed together in a thin line, which seemed to turn into a frown when he saw the two embracing. They disentangled slowly, but did not break apart as quickly as he reckoned her father was hoping.

"Your father and I...recognise that you took...precautions to keep us safe," her mum spoke in short measured sentences. "We just don't see why you didn't come, too."

"I couldn't because I had to stop it."

"That's ludicrous, Hermione," her father snapped. "If children of...non-magical parents were in such danger, why on earth wouldn't you go into hiding, too?"

"Because I had to help Harry. Ron and I promised him we would."

"Ah yes, of course. And what is your life against a promise to a friend?" her father spat sarcastically, shaking his head. Ron was tempted to speak out, but kept quiet, not wanting to upset her father further. "Where is Harry? Is he here, too?"

"No. Just Ron."

"So you and Ron..." Her dad's voice drifted and he waved his hand suggestively, looking more disgusted than Ron would like when he seemed to make the connection that they were together. "Of course. That's what this year was all about." Ron's ears turned hot at the insinuation, especially with the memories of last night still fresh in his mind.

"No, daddy. It wasn't like that." Ron flinched hearing Hermione appeal to her dad with such imploring desperation. It sounded so unnatural and foreign.

"So he's not your boyfriend?" He spoke the word with such contempt Ron had a sudden desire to Disapparate on the spot.

"No, he - he is - " Hermione stammered, looking to the ground.

"I knew it!" her father growled.

"Oh, David, would you stop?" her mum finally cried. "This doesn't exactly constitute a revelation!" Her dad's eyes were wide, but he said nothing, his wife's sputtering words seeming to silence him.

Ron stood uncomfortably beside Hermione, suddenly wishing his hand wasn't still on her waist, but somehow unable to remove it.

"I know it's a lot of information to take in, but for goodness sake!" Her husband opened his mouth to object, but she continued. "Of all the things we could discuss right now is that genuinely what you're going to focus on?"

Ron tried to fight back a grin at the way she fussed at her husband in a much too familiar way.

"Maybe," her mum looked to Hermione then. "Maybe if you started from the beginning."

The clouds remained for nearly the entire two hour conversation. In reality, it wasn't much of a conversation. They sat outside on the patio and Hermione talked while her parents listened. Both hands were wrapped around Ron's the entire time and he found himself wishing she were clinging to something else whenever he caught her father's eye. She'd squeeze hard every now and then when she got to a difficult part, like explaining Dumbledore didn't just pass away from natural causes and the injuries she'd come home with after fifth year weren't just from an accident on her broomstick.

They didn't ask many questions. They gasped in horror and shook their heads in disgust and for most of it Ron reckoned they were wondering what they'd ever gotten themselves into putting her on the Hogwarts Express seven years ago. But they didn't say anything. They didn't shout or cry when she got to the part where she explained how she came up with the idea to modify their memories for their own protection. She glossed over the details of this year, Ron noticed, and he knew that was likely because there was just so much to sort out. Her coupling with Ron seemed to be the only thing they could really process, because after the lengthy narrative it was the first question they asked.

"So when did this happen?" Her mum seemed happy to be able to focus on something positive as she looked to their joined hands. Apparently, she was able to block out her husband's surly expression.

"Just...this month actually," Hermione admitted with a nervous smile. Ron again felt the urge to Disapparate.

Her mum just beamed at him, however. Ron tried to smile back, but found it difficult to do under her father's still blatantly disapproving glare.

"Well, whenever Hugo comes back, you must all stay for dinner." Ron was grateful, despite the overwhelming amount of information that had just been thrown her way, that her mum was trying desperately for some normalcy. He could see Hermione in her now more than ever. She might physically resemble her dad more closely, but the best of Hermione he could see in her mum. "There is the greatest little Indian place up the road. David, why don't you go bring back a couple curries and some breads. Maybe a bottle of wine to celebrate." She gave an indulgent grin and playful raise of the shoulders and looked toward Ron. "There's so much to celebrate." Ron wondered for a moment if she was trying too hard to make things normal, but then he felt Hermione squeeze his hand.

"I missed you, mum."

"We missed you, too."

Then mother and daughter were hugging again and Ron and Mr. Granger just stood by, both watching the hug and eyeing each other.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" she fussed at her husband then. "A couple of curries - "

"What kind of curries?"

"And some bread."

"What kind of bread?"

"And some wine."

"What kind of wine?"

"I don't know. Shiraz. We're almost out of Shiraz," she clucked. Ron watched the exchange with mild amusement as he looked to her father's grumpy face.

"Do you want some help?" he blurted out. Hermione looked as taken aback as her father by the offer. Ron wasn't sure why he extended the offer. Leaving Hermione and being alone with her father seemed about the worst possible scenario he could imagine, but the words tumbled forth nonetheless. "I know, go with you, if you need." They all just stared at him while he shifted his weight nervously. He certainly didn't want her father to take him up on it, but he couldn't help but feel like it was the kind of thing a boyfriend ought to do.

"I think I'll manage," her dad dismissed, his voice for the first time lacking the hostility it had seemed to every time he had spoken to Ron thus far. "Thank you."

Ron shrugged and went back to feeling useless as he watched her dad look for his keys and depart while Hermione and her mum continued to catch up. They talked about Australia and what it was like and how they met Hugo.

"Why don't I go look for Hugo?" Ron proposed then.

"Oh, he ought to turn up by supper time," her mum dismissed with a wave of the hand. "He usually does."

"Right." Ron jammed his hands in his pockets. They talked about the Australian weather then and their favourite places in Brisbane and it all seemed too polite and friendly. They weren't speaking about what she'd done. They weren't talking about where she'd been. They seemed so happy simply to be reunited he knew the conversation was deliberately staying away from anything that might upset that reunion. He offered to lay the table then and bring them a drink and do all the things his mum had taught him to do while a guest in somebody's house.

He was grateful when the familiar three beat knock he'd heard that morning on their hotel door sounded and Hugo appeared in the doorframe.

"Hey, mate, glad you're here." Ron almost wanted to hug him. At least he and Hugo could talk and he would no longer feel like someone eavesdropping in on a private moment between Hermione and her mum. But all Hugo wanted to do was catch up with Emily. The interplay between them was interesting to observe. He was more natural with her than Hermione was. There were no awkward pauses or hesitations, no overly polite conversation. In fact, the longer Hugo stayed the more Hermione drifted back to Ron. By the time her dad arrived with arms full of curry and naan, they were wrapped so closely around each other her dad couldn't help but frown again.

Ron immediately detached and raced over to assist her father with the bags. He'd never felt such an innate desire to earn someone's approval before in his life. It was a bizarre feeling when paired with his obvious urge to stay with Hermione. He felt like he couldn't do both at once.

"Thank you, Ron," her father sounded appreciatively as Ron helped him with some of the bags hanging off his arms.

"You're welcome." Ron offered a hasty smile, pleased that her father had both addressed him by name and thanked him.

"Ah, Hugo! You came back!" he roared with delight and walked past Hermione to the kitchen where Hugo was entertaining his wife with stories of Highgate Hill in their absence.

Ron joined Hermione then, whose hurt was obvious it seemed to everyone but her parents.

"These two probably don't think much of my gardening abilities after seein' the house." Hugo turned his attention to the two whose arms had wrapped around each others' waists again. "It looked a right mess when they came by."

"And how did you meet her?" her mum inquired and Ron couldn't help but notice the way she asked how Hugo had met Hermione and not the other way around. His hand rested comfortably in the small of her back and he moved his fingers in an intimate and supportive way that he no longer cared if her parents saw.

It was an uncomfortable dinner. Ron hated to think of what it might have been like if Hugo hadn't been there. And yet at the same time he wished Hugo were absent from the table. Hermione ate her food in silence for most of the meal. He knew her parents weren't doing it purposefully, but he felt a bit like she was being punished for her actions. Like they were showing her what happened when she erased them from her memories. Hugo had happened.

Ron worried for a moment the resentment toward Hugo he'd seen those first few days in the car might return, but she just seemed to withdraw the longer the meal went on. His hand found her leg beneath the table and he gave a squeeze, reminded of that first dinner back with his family in the Great Hall. They'd get through this just like they gotten through that dinner and all the painful meals that had followed.

He was confident her father knew he was touching her beneath the table, but as neither he nor her mother seemed to be engaging her in conversation, he didn't withdraw his hand until the meal came to a close. Ron helped clear the table then with Hugo's help while the Grangers opened another bottle of wine. He wondered how long the night would go on and how exactly it would come to a close.

They sat at the table, each of her parents with a glass of wine that never seemed to empty. Ron wondered if the Grangers hoped the wine would somehow make the evening less uncomfortable. He and Hermione barely drank any of theirs, but Hugo certainly emptied his glass quickly. Perhaps that's what kept calling him away to the bathroom. Every time he'd step away from the table, even just to go fetch the peach crumble from the kitchen, the table descended into uncomfortable silence. When he finally rose from the table for good and stretched his arms above his head, Ron could only hope that meant the end of the night was near.

"And you're sure you don't want to spend the night here?" her mum insisted as Hugo pulled on his jacket.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. My hotel's great. It's right by the beach," Hugo dismissed, looking toward Ron with a smile.

"Well." Her mum drew the word out like she was trying to think of the right words to follow. "Hermione, there's a guest room and bathroom upstairs. I can get you some towels."

At the proposal that she would sleep anywhere but in a bed with Ron tonight, Hermione couldn't help but look furtively toward him. Her mum stumbled, detecting the hesitation on her daughter's part to detach from Ron's side for the first time in weeks.

"Oh, unless of'd rather…"

"No!" Hermione replied immediately in embarrassment. "Of course, I want to stay - "

"Ron, you're...welcome to stay too, of course." Ron could tell the invitation took a bit of effort. "We could make up the sofa."

"No." He didn't know why his reply sounded so quickly. He didn't want to go back to the hotel alone. He'd rather sleep on a sofa under the same roof as Hermione. Perhaps she could cast a Silencing Charm and sneak out of bed to join him. But then he knew this was their reality now. It started now, their return to the real world. There would be no posh hotel rooms and king size beds to share back at the Burrow. This was it from now on. "Thank you, but - er - Hugo and I'll be just fine."

"Right! We'll have a stag night!" Hugo clapped him on the back and Ron desperately wished he hadn't just made a reference to marriage.

"Well, you both are welcome to come round tomorrow." Ron tried not to be too visibly unsettled by the realisation that he now had to be invited to see Hermione.

"Thank you."

"Yeah, thanks."

Both boys muttered at the same time. Hermione's eyes were fixed on Ron's as he spoke and he tried to ignore the growing feeling of dread.

" you for dinner." He tried to delay the inevitable some more, but found himself unable to say anything else to fill the growing silence. "Goodnight."

It was Hermione who boldly stepped forward and kissed him then. It was a quick peck, downright chaste after last night, but he knew it was so much more than a kiss to the Grangers. It was a clear sign that sleeping alone wasn't something she and Ron had had to do the last three weeks. The way her lips hung off his just a second longer than they should and her fingertips dug into his hips was an obvious indicator, if her parents hadn't figured it out already, that they were intimate. Mostly, he reckoned it was a clear signal that their daughter had changed more than she could ever even try to explain in the months they'd been apart. And he knew he should just keep his mouth shut, but he couldn't keep the words from tumbling out.

"I love you."

He was unprepared for the amount of ball-busting Hugo dished out on the long walk back to the beachside hotel. He barely waited for them to make it from the Granger's house to the street before laying into Ron and it didn't lessen the entire fifteen minute walk.

"I mean it's not like you're leaving her to go to war," he chided and Ron wondered if Hugo could know how close his words were to reality. She'd dream about the war tonight the same way he would. He knew she would. She'd tremble and shake and call for him and he wouldn't be there beside her. "You just say goodnight and thanks for dinner. Rule number one of meeting the parents! You don't snog and say 'I love you'."

"She kissed me first."

"Rule number two: you don't finger her under the table!"

"I wasn't...fingering her!" Ron sputtered. "I just had my hand on her leg."

"Oi, but her old man thinks you were."

"You don't know that."

"Yes, I do."

"You do not."

"He knows you're puttin' the wood to her."

"Would you stop?"

"You havin' your hands all over her don't really help none."

"It's complicated, okay!" Ron thundered.

"Look at you all angry 'cause you can't get your jollies tonight. I take it you worked things out in the bedroom?"

"You're worse than my brothers, you know that?" Ron seriously doubted even they would be this relentless, but the comment just made Hugo roar with laughter. He dragged Ron into the hotel bar and ordered a whiskey neat and made Ron order a drink as well. Unsure what to order in a Muggle bar aside from the ale he'd had with Charlie, he just duplicated Hugo's order.

"You think you'll marry her?" Hugo asked then and despite the private nature of the question, Ron could tell he wasn't trying to take the piss anymore.

"I dunno." Ron shrugged and tried to swallow some of the amber liquid. It had none of the pleasant warming qualities of firewhiskey or even the hot whiskey they'd drank out in the bush. "I don't really think about stuff like that."

"I bet you will," Hugo stated confidently. "You come back and see me when you do."

"Okay," Ron laughed at the absurd thought of he and Hermione as husband and wife. He was still getting comfortable with the notion that they were in a relationship. Right now she was just a girlfriend who he loved and was unhappy to not be able to sleep with tonight. "Think you'll stay in Perth?" He turned the conversation to Hugo and took another sip.

"Dunno really. I haven't seen enough of it yet, but yeah. I like it well enough so far." Hugo shrugged. "How long you think you'll stay?"

"I don't know." Ron knew moving the Grangers back to England would hardly be instantaneous. "I don't know if they'll come back with us or not."


"Look, I need to ask you a favor," Ron spoke softly then. "And I know I have no right to ask it of you after all you've done."

"Go ahead."

"I need you...not to come by tomorrow." He felt guilty almost as soon as he asked. Hugo didn't reply and Ron knew it was a terrible thing to ask him. "It's just...she needs to have her family back, y'know? And as long as you're there...she won't."

"Yeah. Yeah, that's - I've got to go find my mates anyway," Hugo scoffed, trying much too hard to seem casual.

"Maybe just wait 'til the evening?" Ron proposed. "Just give her some time alone with them."

Hugo took a long sip and nodded his head again, but didn't say anything for a long time.


"Not a problem," Hugo belched.

"No, I mean thanks know, not asking anything. I know this probably all seems...really weird - "

"I'm going with either secret spies from MI6 who did memory reversal hypnotherapy or...alien life forms," Hugo chuckled and then gave a wave of his hand. "Nah, I told you you don't have to explain."

"I want to," Ron spoke simply. "I really do. I just...can't."

"Then don't."


There was a long pause then and both took another sip of whiskey.

"I'm glad they finally found her," Hugo remarked with a sad grin after he set his glass back down.

Ron wasn't sure how to respond. He knew Hermione finding her parents meant Hugo was alone again. But it also meant the Grangers could all be a proper family again. And in that moment, Ron knew leaving Australia, whenever it happened, meant he had to be like Hugo. Being here with Hermione, sharing everything they had, it was brilliant and part of him never wanted it to end, but part of him also knew that this wasn't where they belonged, that they'd never really be whole again if they stayed on this side of the world.*

"I'm glad we found you," Ron credited him with the teary reunion that afternoon. Hugo smiled then and they clinked their glasses together and drank to Australia and crossing the Nullarbor and unexpected friendships.

Ron looked to the rough young man with his chipped tooth and stubbled chin and he wondered what it was about Hugo that made him so easy to talk with.

"I bet your family will be glad to have you back," Hugo commented knowingly.

"Yeah." Ron took a drink and thought about the family he'd left behind. "I wasn't exactly - when I was there I was sort of…" Ron's voice filled with shame. "I didn't go to my brother's funeral," he blurted out suddenly, not even sure why he was telling Hugo.


"I mean I - I could see it. I was there, but I wasn't really," he explained. "I - I skipped it. Hermione told me to go. She told me I'd regret it - "

"Do you?"

"I dunno," he murmured, thinking about that awful morning and how he'd retched in the field. "I just couldn't do it. I couldn't go. I couldn't...if I went, it meant he was really gone." Ron stared down at the damp napkin on the hotel bar and began picking at it. Hugo was silent, but still Ron kept talking. "And I know he is. Fred's dead. I know that and I knew it then."

"Funerals are bloody depressing," Hugo interjected then.

"You've known someone who's died?" Ron hated being cheered by the thought, but couldn't help himself.

"One of my mates when I was living outside Sydney - he got himself killed driving the M4 while he was pissed."

"I'm sorry."

"We weren't very close. Just someone to get drunk with really. Anyway, I had to go to his funeral and it was just such…it was such shit. None of us wanted to watch him be put in the ground or talk about him and it didn't really even hit me until the next week anyway when I went to the pub and he wasn't there so I don't much see the point."

"I know he's dead. I do."

"I'm sayin' don't beat yourself up for not goin' to his funeral."

"I was with my other brother, too."

"Then I reckon that's where you needed to be," Hugo stated and gave a shrug.

"Then two days later I left with Hermione." The guilt was so obvious in his voice Ron knew he didn't have to say anything further.

"It's where you needed to be," Hugo repeated.

He made everything so simple. He didn't live in his head or think about things. He just lived. It's what made Ron trust him so instinctively. It's why he ordered another round of drinks and found himself telling Hugo all about Fred. He made an effort to censor the magical parts. Mostly he talked about Fred and what a pain in the arse he'd been for most of Ron's life. He talked about how much Hugo would have liked him and they did what Ron hadn't been able to do seventeen days ago. They raised their glasses and drank a toast to Fred.


A Harry Potter Story
by MsBinns

Part 43 of 45

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