Hermione looked down at the mess before her. She could brew brilliant potions, cast powerful spells, and translate ancient runes, but for the life of her she could not cook. The toast was burnt, the eggs were runny, and she didn't even want to think about what happened to the sausages. Not only that, but her fingers were in agony. She had taken to keeping some of her salve in the kitchen due to the amount of times she had burned herself trying to cook.

Sighing, she pulled down her old standby – a box of fresh breakfast buns that she kept handy. Perhaps I'll have to ask Molly for help one of these days, she thought and then dismissed the idea. It would be better to wait until she and Ron were married, or at least engaged.

Hearing Ron come out of the shower, she took the plate of buns and the fresh pot of tea to the table just as Pigwidgeon and Diana flew through the window. Because of Pig's small size, she had purchased her own owl so that she could make the deliveries that Pig couldn't. The assorted mail dropped onto the table in a heap as she dropped into her chair.

"Morning, love," Ron said as he kissed the top of Hermione's head. "Mmmmm, buns and tea. What's in the post this morning?"

Hermione smiled as he sat down. "Probably a lot of junk mail. You know, the Daily Prophet, the Quibbler..." she said, sorting through the mail. "Oh, it looks like your Quality Quidditch Supplies catalogue came in. Here's a letter from Harry and Ginny..." She stopped dead as she came to the next letter in the stack.

"Brilliant!" Ron said. As he took both the catalogue and the letter, he noticed Hermione looking strangely at her letter. "What's that?" he asked.

"It's a letter from Hogwarts," Hermione replied, looking at the envelope curiously.

"Hogwarts?" Ron asked whilst chewing on his bun. "What'd they want you for?"

"I don't know," Hermione said, opening the letter and reading it. Her eyes opened wide as she read the contents of the letter and her mouth dropped open. "I don't believe it."

Ron looked over her shoulder. His eyes widened as he read the contents.

"Blimey, Hermione!" he exclaimed. "Minerva wants you to teach Transfiguration!"

"I know. I never expected this." Hermione took a sip of her tea as she read over the letter again. Looking over at Ron, she noticed that he'd opened the letter from Harry and Ginny. "What do Harry and Ginny have to say?"

Ron grinned. "Ginny's pregnant," he said. "She's two-and-a-half months along."

"That's great!" Hermione smiled. She was happy for her friends, but she also was a little jealous. She wondered if and when Ron would get around to proposing. "I'll have to owl them later. After all, I have some news too."

Ron's eyes widened. "Other news besides Hogwarts?" he asked.

Hermione laughed. "Don't worry, our contraception spells are still working. No, just about the offer at Hogwarts."

Ron laughed nervously. As much as he would have wanted children, now was definitely not the time. He mentally sighed – he and Hermione had been dating each other since after the final battle, and yet after all this time, he was still trying to come up with the courage to propose to her. He knew she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Which then brought him to Hermione's news – a teaching appointment at Hogwarts. On one hand, he immediately felt happy that such an offer would be made to her; after all, she was always and forever helping others with their studies. She had helped Neville avoid a T in Potions, and had constantly been badgering Harry and him to do their homework. She'd probably make a great teacher. On the other hand, he felt it was another sign that the picture he had in his mind would never come to pass. The so-called Golden Trio would not always be together. He and Harry had trained to be Aurors; Hermione had decided to take an apprenticeship in Transfiguration instead. With the possibility of Hermione accepting Minerva's offer, he wondered if they would still be able to live together. If Hermione would have to move to the castle, where would he live? Would this affect Hermione's answer if he were to propose to her?

He took a deep breath, and smiled at Hermione. "Yeah," he said, "I didn't think they'd fail; after all, you're brilliant at Charms."

Hermione blushed. "Thanks. Not that I wouldn't mind being a mum someday. Just not now." She looked at the letter again. "She says she needs to know in a week's time. It's almost August, after all. She would need time to find someone else."

Ron nodded. "Yeah, and September is just around the corner." He glanced at Hermione, who was still examining the letter. "Uh, 'Mione?"

She looked up from the letter at him. "Yes?" she asked, taking a sip of tea.

"What does Minerva's offer include?"

She consulted the letter again. "Forty Galleons a week, and she is giving me the option of staying at the castle or commuting since we live in Hogsmeade."

Ron gave an inward sigh of relief. If Hermione would be allowed to continue living in their flat, then there really wasn't anything that should prevent her from accepting Minerva's offer. The only issue was that their time together might very well be curtailed. He never recalled the professors having much of a social life outside of school, but then again, how many students were friendly enough with their professors that they would seem "normal"?

"How many hours per week would you have to work?" he asked.

"In general, thirty-five hours would be the minimum, which may or may not include marking essays or preparing for lessons or exams. On Wednesday nights, however, I have to patrol the corridors until midnight, so I would stay at Hogwarts through dinner that night and then come home when I am finished."

Ron nodded. It could have been worse. But he wasn't very happy about the thought of not being able to spend at least one day a week with her. He wondered what he'd do with himself when she was busy in the castle. He enjoyed their mealtimes. Well, she couldn't cook like his mum, but it was nice just to be with her. "Would you have to work on weekends? Or even on Hogsmeade weekends?" he asked.

"I don't think I will have to work on weekends, but I might have to help with Hogsmeade weekends from time to time. Not that it would be a problem, really, since we do live in Hogsmeade. Besides, I have a feeling that once Quidditch season starts you will want to come and watch the games, won't you?"

Ron chuckled. "Right in one." He smiled. "But... well, it just seems like a lot of time away, and I'd really miss you terribly when you have to stay in the castle. And... well, I just... "

Hermione smiled, stood, and went over to put her arms around him. "I would miss you too, but don't forget: you work about the same schedule, and sometimes you are called out at late hours. And it's only one night a week that I will have to stay late. We'll have the nights and the weekends." She frowned a bit as she felt a burning pain in her chest. "That last sip of tea must have gone down wrong."

Ron looked in alarm at her. "'Mione? Are you okay? What's wrong, love? Your face is getting red."

"Yes, just some heartburn, that's all," Hermione replied, giving him a reassuring smile. "I think I'll go see if we have some of that antacid potion." She kissed his cheek and went back to the bathroom.

Ron looked at Hermione's retreating form, then sat back down in the chair. For the past several years, friends and family alike had been pressuring him to finally ask Hermione to marry him, but for some reason, he had resisted their suggestions, coming up with varied excuses ("We're not ready yet," "She's really busy with her apprenticeship," "Things are really busy at work, and it wouldn't be fair to her if it meant she'll have to spend all her time alone."). Now that there was the possibility of not seeing Hermione every day, he wondered if perhaps it was too late for him to think of proposing to her. Or should he just do it, right then and there, once she emerged from the loo?

Whatever objections he might have to Hermione taking the Hogwarts job was outweighed by the look of sheer rapture on her face when she first opened the letter. It would be a dream job for her and was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. He decided that if she really wanted the job, he should not stand in the way of her accepting it.

Hermione returned, feeling a little bit better. The pain hadn't gone away completely, but it didn't hurt as much. "Thank goodness we had some of that left."

Ron took her hands in his and squeezed them. "I'm glad, love," he said, smiling. "'Mione, I was thinking – I know how much it means to you to be able to work as a master in a job you love. I'll admit that I'm not exactly happy about the thought of spending too much time away from you, but at least you'll be able to do something where you can make a difference. Is this a job where you feel you can truly be happy?"

"Yes, Ron. Ever since we were going to Hogwarts I thought about how great it would be to teach there. I didn't think I'd ever get the chance, or that I would get it this soon. After all, I'm only twenty-five years old. But I would love to take this opportunity."

Ron nodded. "Then I'd say why wait a week? Let's celebrate, Professor Granger." He drew her in his arms and gave her a kiss.

Hermione wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day.

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