Author's Note: Happy November! I was planning to update for Halloween as I received my beta'ed chapter back that afternoon, but by the time I got home, I was too tired to go over ten pages of work and notes. So instead, I'm having a pre-Bonfire Night update (which is Saturday).
Stay save and keep all Kneazles, Crups and other pets indoors and away from Fireworks.
As the colour drained from Ron's face, his eyes looked from Hannah's unconscious body to the wand clutched in her little hand - his wand. How the hell did she get my wand? I would never let her play with it! He glanced at Hermione, who looked on the verge of breaking down.
Looking back at Hannah, Ron thought fast. He remembered that his mum kept an Emergency Portkey in one of the drawers that would take them straight to St Mungo's. Forming a plan in his mind, Ron swiftly made his way to the counter and started searching roughly through the top drawer.
"R - Ron, what are you -?"
"Hermione, don't just stand there! Wrap her up in something! Oh, and get my wand. Hurry up!" Ron said, pulling out a Muggle thermometer and studying it carefully.
Having Fred and George as brothers meant that Ron had accompanied his parents to the Wizarding hospital many times before. Images of his mum inserting the end of the thermometer into her mouth entered his mind, and Ron suddenly remembered just how to work the Emergency Portkey.
He quickly grabbed a quill and parchment from the same drawer and scribbled a short note.
Mum, Harry and Ginny: Hannah's hurt. Taken her to hospital with Hermione. See you there - Don't panic - Ron.
Hermione returned to the kitchen moments later, Ron's wand in her pocket and Hannah bundled up in a blanket. Her face was mostly white and she appeared to be shaking. As an overwhelming sense of paternal responsibility washed over him, Ron realised he needed to continue taking charge. He took a deep breath, reached out to hold Hannah and popped the thermometer in his mouth.
With his free hand, Ron held out the Portkey so Hermione could hold the other end as they both felt the familiar tug behind their navels. It wasn't long before they landed with a thud on their feet in the busy reception area of St Mungo's.
Pocketing the Portkey, Ron hurried over to the front desk. Hermione followed slowly, still looking like she was in a numbing state of shock.
They found themselves standing behind an old Warlock, who was explaining to the witch behind the desk about his rash, while he scratched his stomach unpleasantly.
“I think it muster been that potion me granddaughter gave ter me, she said it were tea, bless her," he was telling the receptionist.
"That's a lovely story," said the witch with a sarcastic smile. "But do you not read? Third floor!"
As the Warlock walked off, Ron approached the desk. He spoke in a surprisingly calm and collective voice. "My daughter found my wand and I - we think she may have hexed or charmed herself, or something."
Hermione let out a small sob and brushed a piece of hair out of Hannah's face.
"Fourth floor; Spell Damage," the witch informed them casually. Ron noticed her eyes travel back to this month's issue of Witch Weekly before she spoke the last word.
"Er - thanks," Ron replied, grabbing Hermione's hand as he strode towards the lift. Hermione was sobbing quietly, and Ron felt her squeeze his hand tightly. It wasn't long before they were on the fourth floor, reading a plaque on one of the doors, which read: Healer Galena Asa, Head of Spell Damage. Below it was a piece of parchment, instructing the reader to tap on the notice with their wand for assistance.
Ron turned to Hermione for his wand, only to find her already holding it out. She seemed to have calmed down now she was behind the door of someone who could help. Taking the wand, Ron tapped on the parchment twice and motioned Hermione to take a seat behind them while they waited for the Healer.
"Here, let me hold her. Your arms must be tired," Hermione said, holding out her hands to take her daughter. Ron looked down at his child's face, which looked quite peaceful. He handed her carefully to Hermione, who held back another sob.
Suddenly, the door opened a tall dark skinned witch in lime green robes stepped out, a clipboard in one hand and her wand in the other. "What seems to be the trouble then?" her voice was soothing and her eyes kind.
"Our daughter - She found my wand … it must have fallen off the table and she picked it up. We think she hexed herself," Ron explained. Hermione stood up and walked over to him, cradling her baby slowly.
The Healer peered at Hannah and nodded understandably. "Well Mr …"
"Weasley, Ron Weasley."
"Well Mr Weasley, from looking at her now, she doesn't seem to be in any pain. If you would both follow me, I can examine her," Healer Asa said, motioning the door behind her.
"Ron, wait," Hermione said before he had the chance to enter the room. "One of us has to stay out here and wait for your mum. She'll be worried sick."
Hesitating, Ron stepped backwards. What use would he be in there without Hermione? The Healer was bound to ask questions about Hannah's past health, something Ron knew nothing about. He wasn't even sure what Hannah's favourite food was.
"You go in; you know more about her than I do." Saying it out loud caused him to wince inwardly.
"Are you sure?"
Ron nodded and took the seat Hermione was in previously.
The Healer held the door open and said, "Right this way, Mrs Weasley," before a red-faced Hermione hurried into the room. The Healer turned to Ron and before following Hermione, added, "It's going to be all right, your wife can explain everything to you afterwards." The Healer then turned and softly closed the door behind her.
At those words, a strange, uplifting feeling circled his chest, making Ron feel odd inside. As he heard footsteps, he wiped the smile off his face and turned to see his mum marching towards him, his dad, Harry and Ginny in tow.
"Ron!" Molly cried, waving his note in her hand. "Why didn't you call me down?" Her eyes were red and the piece of parchment looked ripped as though she had been clutching it too tightly on the way.
"There wasn't time," Ron answered lamely.
"The note didn't say what had happened, just that there was an accident," Arthur said, taking the parchment from his wife and pocketing it. He helped her into a seat.
"She hexed herself or something," Ron said, avoiding looking at any of his family.
"How did she get a wand?" Ginny asked. Glancing up, Ron noticed that Harry's arms appeared to be round her shoulders. Shaking this off, Ron replied,
"My … my wand. It was on the table … I dunno … it must have fallen off or something … I didn't see." Ron rubbed the back of his neck gingerly, feeling very guilty that it was his wand that started this.
"It wasn't your fault," Harry said, as though he could read his best friend's thoughts.
"I know," Ron lied, smiling slightly. "She's in there -" he nodded in the direction of the healing room "- with Hermione at the moment. But the Healer thinks she'll be fine, just wants to check her over."
"That's good, then," Ginny said reassuringly, taking a seat next to her mum.
Merlin … I can't wait out here with them, I'll go mad. I wish I could be with Hermione … in the healing room! With Hermione in the healing room.
"Hey Ron, why don't we get everyone a drink," Arthur said, giving his son a curious look. "Coffee all around?" After an assortment of nods, Ron followed his dad down to the other end of the corridor where a large counter stood, with a single piece of parchment laying on top.
Reading the parchment, Arthur said clearly, "Two coffees with a lump of sugar each, one with three lumps and two with none please." Five plastic cups appeared on the counter almost instantly, each with steaming hot coffee inside. "Do you think Hermione would like anything?" Arthur asked, turning to face Ron.
"What? Oh, erm, Gillywater, probably," Ron replied, frowning.
"Right - and one Gillywater," Arthur repeated to the counter as a sixth cup appeared. Instead of levitating the drinks to the others, Arthur turned to look at his son, his expression unreadable. "Right, we need to have a little talk before we go back," he said, picking up his own drink and taking a sip.
"What about?" Ron asked quietly. He had a feeling he was about to be lectured on parenting. I've only been a parent one week, he's probably wondering what I'll do next.
"Your mother is worried about you," Arthur declared, handing Ron a cup. Noticing the anxious look in his son's face, he continued. "She has heard both sides of the 'incident' between Hermione and Miranda, as have I. She's worried – we both are - about whose side you are going to believe."
Ron frowned and then the realisation hit him. I have to take a side … I have to believe one story over the other. With the anger and confusion that had clouded his mind when he had found out what happened between Miranda and Hermione, followed by his argument with Hermione and then Hannah's accident, taking sides hadn't registered with him. The thought scared him: Whichever side he took, he was going to lose one of the women in his life.
"I … I don't know," Ron admitted. "Who do you believe?"
Arthur shook his head. "Oh, no, you need to decide this on your own. I can't give you my answer and I've made sure your mother won't give you hers," his father said slyly.
"But how am I supposed to do that?" Ron asked, exasperated. He put his drink down and ran his fingers through his messy hair. "I trust both of them. I've known Miranda for two years and we've never had any major problems. She's one of the nicest people I've met; she's kind and helpful and a brilliant Auror. She's one of my best friends."
It also helps that she's beautiful and we didn't have to wait six years to be together …
"And Hermione?" Arthur pressed, furrowing his brow.
Ron exhaled deeply. "Well, we've had our differences, but…I know Hermione. She wouldn't lie about something like this," he replied.
She lied about Hannah though … but does it really count as a lie? It's not like she wrote to me saying 'Ron, I didn't have your child.' She just wanted me to finish training and have a good job before I returned. Weirdest act of kindness I've ever seen, but she still didn't lie to my face.
"So it would be like trying to decide between Fred and George in your case?" Arthur asked, trying to lighten the mood with a smile.
"I guess so, it's just that …"
"You have a lot to lose either way," Arthur finished, nodding understandably. "Either your girlfriend or your daughter and Hermione." When it was said like that, it should have been obvious to Ron who he should choose, but it wasn't about gaining or losing - it was about the truth.
"Dad, if it was between losing my toothbrush or my left leg, I still wouldn't decide straight away," Ron admitted, earning a confused look from his father. "It doesn't matter what I have to lose, all I care about is who is lying to me."
Nodding, Arthur replied, "Very logical." He then paused, hesitating. "Can I ask you one last question before we go back?" With a nod from Ron, Arthur asked, "Do you love Miranda?"
Do I love her? I hadn't really thought about it … I don't know. No? Maybe? It took a few moments for Ron to realise that he hadn't replied yet.
"She's fun to be with," he said lamely.
"That isn't what I asked," Arthur reminded him, arching an eyebrow curiously.
"I like her …" Ron tried again. Before his father could speak, he added pathetically, "A lot!"
"More than Hermione?" Arthur asked cautiously. Ron opened his mouth to answer, but before he had the chance to say anything, Arthur quickly added, "Stop – I wouldn't feel comfortable knowing either answer."
Neither would I.
Ron avoided his father's gaze for a moment, trying to comprehend his mixed feelings. He had already decided that he liked Miranda, but love her? And what about Hermione? He used to love her and knew that a part of him always would, but that didn't mean that he was in love with her now, did it?
"I can only give you the advice my dad gave me then, Ron," Arthur said, waving his wand over the remaining cups to levitate them in front of him. Meeting his eyes so he knew he was sincerely listening, Arthur said, "Listen to your heart."
"What does that mean?" Ron asked, following his dad out of the room as Arthur started to walk back to the others.
"Just that, listen to your heart. It knows what it wants," Arthur repeated with a twinkle in his eye. Giving Ron a knowing look, he added, "I followed that advice and look at me today: I have a loyal and beautiful wife, seven wonderful children and two breathtaking granddaughters."
The two fathers had only been back a few minutes when the door to the examination room opened and Hermione walked out, looking tired but okay. Ron rushed over to her at once.
"Well?" he asked impatiently. Noticing Hannah wasn't with her, Ron looked behind Hermione towards the exam room. "Where's Hannah? Is she okay?"
Letting out a weary sigh, Hermione simply nodded. "She's perfectly fine and there’s no damage but the Healer wants to keep her in overnight anyway. She's been taken through to the ward; I came out here to find you." She smiled warmly at Ron, whose stomach felt a familiar happy twinge.
"What else did she say?" Ginny asked, offering Hermione her seat.
Sitting down, Hermione's face broke into a grin. "After much talking, Healer Asa concluded that Hannah set off the Security Spell on your wand, Ron."
"Aurors are supposed to have Security Spells on their wands, aren't they?" Ginny asked. "To keep Death Eaters from taking their wands and using them against the owners."
Hermione smiled and replied, "That's right."
"Why the hell are you smiling?" Ron asked angrily, who didn't think this was the time or place to be grinning.
Hermione took hold of Ron's hands, her eyes shining. "Ron," she said, as though saying his name would help him understand. "I'm smiling because the Confuddle Charm didn't affect her. She blocked it before it could hit her and it just rebounded and knocked her out."
"And it was her first sign of magic!" Hermione announced proudly.
Ron felt as though a balloon had swelled inside of him and would explode any second. When the words first sign of magic came out of Hermione's mouth, Ron threw his arms around the mother of his child in delight.
I may have missed her first word and steps, but first magic! I couldn't be more proud! Off to Hogwarts in ten years and then maybe Minister of Magic! Could you imagine it? My daughter, the first Weasley Minister!
Ron pulled back, his face still plastered with a proud smile as Hermione led him to the ward where Hannah was staying.
It was late, and everyone but Ron and Hermione had gone home. Hannah was sleeping peacefully in her bed while her mother was leaning forwards, her head in her arms on the side of the bed. Ron was looking around the ward, which consisted of two other children with one or two parents each. There was a little boy, no other than five, sleeping three beds over who would hiccup a feather every so often. Opposite him was a young girl, whose chin was full of hair that still seemed to be growing.
Before Ginny had gone home, Ron asked her to let Miranda know what was happening and to tell her that he was going to stay the night at Hannah's side. Ginny agreed and left the young parents to watch over their child.
Unable to sleep, Ron's mind went over the day's events.
Hermione looked terrified, what would have happened if I wasn't there?
Ron wondered if Hermione knew about the Portkey; where it was kept and how to use it. If Hannah became hurt when she was alone with Hermione, would she freeze up like she did this time? Ron's heart ached knowing that there was a possibility that Hannah's health could have been in jeopardy without him there.
If I had been there for my daughter - wow, daughter that still sounds so wild to me! - From birth, would I have frozen up too?
Ron knew that if he was there from the start, the bond between him and Hannah would undoubtedly be very strong. When people he loved were in danger or hurt, Ron tended to tense up. In his second year of Hogwarts, when Hermione was petrified by the Basilisk; the only way to save her was to follow the spiders - he shuddered at the thought - his reaction was to hide in Hagrid's cabin until Harry had returned. However, an invisible force managed to help him swallow his fear and go into the Forest.
Thinking about it now, it must have been the start of his love for Hermione.
What made me take charge today though?
It could be my fatherly instincts coming through from watching my own dad over the years. Maybe because I love Hannah so much, the fear just washed away faster than it usually would. Or maybe I just grew up? I'm not that scared little boy anymore - I'm a father.
As Ron watched his daughter sleep, he began noticing new features that he hadn't before. Her hair, while as red as his own, reminded him of Hermione's when she was in bed; spread out across the pillow untidily. Looking closely, Ron noticed how Hannah's cheekbones and chin matched her mothers, causing the young witch to resemble Hermione even more than she already did.
But he couldn't deny his own traits he saw in her. Apart from the obvious red hair and freckles, he could see himself in her personality. Like him, she slept sprawled out, with one of her arms resting above her head as her chest rose and then fell gently. When she had been awake earlier, she clung to him, being scared of sleeping in a strange smelling and different place. He vaguely remembered doing the same thing to his dad when he was barely older than Hannah, after the twins told him to jump off the roof.
Ron smiled and turned his gaze to Hermione, whose hair was covering her face. Slowly, Ron reached over to brush the curls back, so he could see her beautiful face. As though he had burnt himself, Ron retracted his hand quickly.
I'm allowed to think Hermione's beautiful, aren't I? It's just a friendly observation. I mean, Ginny's told her that she's beautiful before and she doesn't want to kiss her.
And nor do I. I don’t. I really don’t. Honest.
Feeling even more confused, Ron removed his cloak and draped it across Hermione's back for warmth. How was he supposed to find out who lied to him when he trusted both women? Did he really have to choose? However, could he live knowing that one of them was dishonest with him? Lying - especially about something as big as this - was immoral in Ron's eyes.
Suddenly, Hermione stirred and opened her eyes. "What - what time is it?" she asked groggily.
"Two in the morning," Ron answered. "I couldn't sleep."
"Oh," Hermione replied, sitting up slowly. She looked stiff, and Ron didn't blame her, from the angle she had been sleeping. Hermione pulled the cloak around her shoulders closer to her body. "I didn't thank you for today," she said, looking up at him with her rich brown eyes. "I couldn't have done it without you."
The dimmed lights caused her face to glow; Ron smiled tenderly back and replied, "Don't mention it. I did what anyone would have done."
"What any dad would have done, you mean," Hermione corrected, pulling herself up.
"Yeah." Ron was glad the light in the room was dimmed so Hermione couldn't see him blushing.
"I'm going to get a hot chocolate, would you like one?" Hermione asked, adjusting Ron's cloak so she was actually wearing it, rather than using it as a blanket.
"Yeah, thanks," Ron said.
Hermione was almost out the ward when she turned back. "I never gave you an answer," she said softly.
"You asked me today why I went out with you in the first place," Hermione reminded him. Ron blushed again; the conversation came horribly back to him.
"Go on," he urged quietly.
"You were always there for me, that's why."
Quick Author's Note: Arthur says that he has two granddaughters. I originally mentioned who the other one was, but in the final cut, it was removed. Arthur is talking about Bill and Fleur's daughter (they married in the trio's seventh year … we can gather, and this story is set two years after that.)
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