Ron lay in his Australian hotel bedroom in a very comfortable position, lost within his thoughts as he stole a quick glance at the relaxing sight of the magically enchanted Australian daybreak.
This was possibly the happiest he had ever been.
It was certainly the most content he had felt in his life for a very long time.
In the last week that had followed his quite literal cry for help with Hermione he had finally found the courage to discuss his feelings of doubt and depression with her, which in turn had done wonders for his mental well-being and nightmares. He knew there was still a very long way to go for both of them to recover from their traumatic experiences, but Hermione had reassured him that by opening up and talking about his struggles he had already made a big step towards eventually moving past them.
It had been a very strange experience for him to explore his feelings so candidly with another human being, especially so with one who had once told him that he had the emotional range of a tea-spoon.
Whilst they often now spent much of each day exploring their feelings with one another, by night and now, even in the early hours of the morning too, they spent most of their remaining time exploring each other’s bodies instead.
Ron saw the artificial sun rise in a tricolour of flaming red, yellow and blue as he once again momentarily took his eyes away from watching Hermione rise gently up and down as she straddled and carefully rode his naked body.
He quickly looked away from the beautiful sight of the sun-rise to focus his attention once more on the other beautiful sight that was right in-front of him. His light blue eyes locked with her deep-brown ones, then as she smiled softly at him, he watched her soft, small breasts and curly, light brown hair frantically bounce up and down as she began to hungrily drive them both to orgasm.
“Oh, Ronnnn,” she gasped breathlessly, before rolling her eyes back in pleasure.
Ron felt himself twitching and beginning to climax inside of her.
She bent down and began to kiss him sensually, as he felt some of his seed drip out of her and back down onto his inner thighs which made her giggle.
Ron bloody loved Australia.
He never wanted to leave.
Maybe they could stay here and live life like this forever.
“Ron! Ron! You don’t have to shout so much!” he heard Harry’s distinctive voice bellow down the line.
“Sorry… sorry mate I’m still getting used to using these things,” Ron apologised into the muggle-phone, of which he and Harry were using to communicate from their opposite sides of the world.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t have just used a fireplace,” he added in a slightly exasperated tone, to which he heard his best friend sigh and laugh. Hermione had insisted that they should speak via the muggle telephone if they wanted to talk candidly, as she was concerned that if they communicated by the Floo Network they could be overheard by prying ears either in Australia or back home in Britain.
“How is it out there?” Harry asked enthusiastically. “Hermione certainly sounded like she’s been enjoying herself.”
Ron laughed to himself in his head. If only he knew the half of it.
“Yeah! Yeah it’s been great mate, everyone here is really nice, Kingsley’s sorted us right out with the hotel and that… it’s unbelievable. Great that they found her parents so soon so she didn’t have that hanging over her head for too long. I don’t want to ever come home!”
Ron beamed to himself, perhaps getting a little bit carried away in the moment.
He momentarily felt slightly guilty as he realised that they had been living it up, effectively being on a holiday, whilst Harry was back home helping the Aurors taking part in raids hunting down the missing Death Eaters.
“That’s great Ron! I’m really happy you’re both enjoying it so much out there, you both deserve a break after… well… everything.”
Ron now felt really bad.
“You should be out here with us, mate,” Ron said quickly. “You, Ginny, Mum, Dad, George, everyone… we should all be out here together having a good time.”
“I’d love to,” Harry replied with a resigned tone to his voice. “But we have to catch these last few Death Eaters first. I think we’re really onto something with this next raid. Kingsley and Robards have looked into the location that Macnair has supplied and it looks like it could be the real thing this time, not another trap.”
“You be careful, mate,” Ron warned, as he worried for his friend. “From what I’ve heard Josh Morris was lucky that he only lost an arm in that last raid.”
“You heard right,” Harry replied in a downcast and hushed voice. “But we’re being much more cautious this time. Robards and Kingsley have been planning it for a good few days now. I went through it with Hermione and even she couldn’t find any flaws in it. Does that make you feel better?”
“Yeah, of course,” Ron chuckled, although part of him did feel a little aggrieved that Harry had felt more inclined to discuss the raid tactics with Hermione instead of him.
Hermione was undoubtedly a far more accomplished user of magic, as well as a much more intelligent and logical thinking person than he was, but Ron had still to that day never lost a game of chess to his girlfriend.
Ron knew that most of his chess wins came through having greater vision to anticipate what move his opponent would make next, depending on which move he made himself. Hermione lacked that vision and would always make the most logical move in terms of the very next turn, rarely considering that a more cautious move that turn could reap much bigger rewards two or three turns further down the line.
He had also read a lot of books on the great Goblin Rebellions and the great Metamorphmagi conflicts in Prussia, Poland and Russia. They were mostly hand-me-downs from Bill, but he had studied the many great battle tacticians and Auror equivalents of the past, so he thought he had a reasonable understanding of raid and siege warfare.
“Wouldn’t hurt to run it past me too though, would it?” Ron asked in as polite a way in which he could muster.
“Yeah,” he heard Harry reply in what he thought sounded like a slightly surprised tone. “Yeah, of course mate, I’ll talk you through it.”
Harry spent the next five minutes carefully explaining to Ron the Ministry’s plan to raid the country manor house in the Irish town of Omagh, where they believed that Kit Selwyn could be hiding, possibly even with his friend Rufus Travers too, which would be like hitting two birds with one stone if they could manage it.
The plan essentially centred on setting a large anti-apparation perimeter for a few miles covering the entire estate. They would then raid the property, with several Aurors and Ministry staff, including Harry himself, providing air support, should Travers and Selwyn attempt to escape through flight.
It didn’t sound all that different from the botched Camden Raid, which was perhaps a cause for concern, although this time it did sound like they had plans in place to shield themselves should it be booby trapped like that building had been.
“We will outnumber them on foot and in the air… they may wish to come out fighting, but if they do we have the numbers to deal with them.”
“Yeah, should work, I guess,” Ron admitted, failing to find any real hole in the plan as he might have liked.
“I’m still not sure how I feel about being put on air support,” Harry suddenly interjected in an annoyed sounding tone.
“Makes sense to me,” Ron replied. “Unless they’ve recruited Charlie you must be the best on a broom the Ministry’s got!” he joked.
“Funny you should say that. Charlie is actually on air support with me. Did I not mention that?” Harry responded, much to Ron’s shock and horror.
“What?!” Ron shouted down the phone. “I thought you said it was just Aurors and Ministry staff taking part in this mission?!”
“It is, well… mostly,” Harry admitted, sounding a bit worried by Ron’s raised voice. “Your Mum and Dad reacted very similarly to you…Ginny too… Kingsley himself was also of the opinion that Charlie should not come with us to-
“Then why is he going then?! Kingsley is the Minister for Magic! If he didn’t think he should go then he should have bloody well put a stop to it!” Ron fumed, furious at the prospect of losing another brother to the Death Eaters.
He thought back to Charlie bemoaning his lack of involvement in the war with Bill a few weeks prior. It seemed like now in a desperate bid to make amends he’d developed himself a death wish. Ron wished he could speak to his older brother and talk some sense into him.
“Well,” Harry stumbled and paused. “He was very… adamant about being involved when he heard about it… nobody could quite manage to talk him out of it. And ultimately Kingsley left the decision to Robards as Head of the Department.”
“So it’s that bloody knob Gawain Robards’ fault, is it?! Hermione was right to question him. Bloody hell. Why is it that she is always right about everything?!” he groaned, checking round to see if Hermione had heard him say that. Ron felt quite relieved when, looking out of the side room’s window he saw she was still sitting with her parents, deep in conversation about something on the other side of the hotel lobby.
“Actually he wasn’t all that bothered either way. It was Savage who talked him round. She used to play Quidditch with Charlie at school… she said he was always so-
“I don’t care about how good he was on a broom playing Quidditch at school!” Ron raged. “He is a Dragonologist, not a flaming Auror! He has no business being on a Ministry raid! Ginny’s quite handy on a broom, why don’t you sign her up as well whilst you’re at it? Get Bill and George on the team too!”
“Don’t tell me to bloody well relax! I’ve already lost one brother, I don’t want to lose-”
“Look… Ron… please listen to me… I will be posted with Charlie the entire raid… I promise you that no harm will come to him,” Harry said in slightly raised, yet still quite conciliatory voice.
“You shouldn’t make promises that you can’t keep,” Ron replied, feeling defeated. It was bad enough knowing that Harry was taking part in these raids without him there fighting by his side, but to now have to worry about losing another brother was almost too much to take.
“Well I’ve gone through the plan for the raid of the Manor with you. Like I said, they’ll be outnumbered. It will all be fine.”
“How rich is Selwyn and his family?” Ron asked, suddenly thinking of something, as the word ‘Manor’ reminded him of their unpleasant experience at the Malfoy residence.
“I…. I don’t know,” Harry admitted. “I… I think the estate is quite a large one, so they must have some money tucked away in a vault somewhere. Why do you ask?”
Harry sounded pretty confused, but Ron was sure he was onto something that could be quite big.
“You said they’ve got no way of escaping with the apparation perimeter and with you guys on air support there to chase them down if they try to fly away?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Harry replied confidently. “Kingsley’s been assured by the Irish Minister that the Floo Network in the immediate area will be put down, so they can’t escape through that either. They’ll have no way of getting away if they are in there.”
“What if he’s got a House-Elf?” Ron finally proposed.
“A house-elf?” Harry mumbled.
“You said Selwyn’s probably quite rich, right? So he could own a House-Elf?”
“Well… yes, yes potentially, what are you saying?” Harry replied, seemingly having no clue what Ron was on about.
“I’m saying,” Ron began, trying his best to hide his frustration at his best friend’s irritating failure to read between the lines.
This must be how Hermione feels all the time, he thought.
“You better make sure that apparation perimeter is Elf proof!”
Ron watched on jovially through their function suite window as Tezza, dressed in his beefeater gear, very overly enthusiastically escorted a couple of new arrivals and their children into the hotel’s reception. As he walked past the window he briefly broke character to roll his eyes dramatically at Ron, before returning to his forced smile and introducing them to the very charming Head of Guests relations, Zoe Federici, who seemed a much more naturally gifted people person.
David and Hazel Granger were very much enjoying finally being reunited with their daughter, which meant lots of extended conversations about the past twelve months where they had been separated on different corners of the glove. Over the past few days they had been filled in on what had happened, but not before a rather complicated procedure that had involved reversing the bewitching spell that Hermione had placed on them to forget that she ever existed.
The Australian authorities had given Hermione as much time as she needed to get them back up to speed, as they ultimately decided that it would be a good idea to let her discuss with her Mum and Dad what they planned on doing next.
As she was a muggle-born who was now of age, as per international wizarding law, their memories of magic had to be erased at some point, but it was deemed that they should be informed of how and why they had come to live in Australia first, to fully inform their decision on whether to return to Britain or not.
Her Mum and Dad burst into tears almost in unison as Hermione finished telling them the exact details of what she had done and why, as Ron gripped her hand in support. She had still omitted an awful lot of the exact details of the battle against Voldemort and his followers, perhaps not wanting to frighten them any further, as they already looked horrified enough as it was.
“And so… and so,” her Mother desperately tried to talk through her snivelling. “And so… if you… if you had been killed… by these people… we would… your Father and I would never have known we had a daughter again.”
“This was all very selfless of you, but I really wish you hadn’t have done it,” David Granger said in a sombre tone. “We should have been there for you. We’re your parents, Hermione. If going back to school was too dangerous you could’ve stayed at home, we would have looked after you, kept a roof over your head. Our job is to protect you. Magic or no magic we wouldn’t have let anything happen to our little-
“Dad,” Hermione interrupted in a frustrated, but sad voice. “The family who you, or rather, I on your behalf, sold the house to…”
“What about them?” Hazel Granger demanded, but Hermione could not seem to get the words out, as tears began to fill up in her eyes of the same colour as her Mother’s forename.
“They killed them,” Ron said for her in as dignified a fashion as he could manage.
“Oh, God,” her Mum cried, as she began to sob hysterically into her husband’s arms.
“Christ,” David muttered to himself, perhaps only now truly understanding the gravity of the situation they had found themselves in, as he eyed up his copy of an imported British newspaper, before picking it up and studying it.
“And these… these blokes on the run that keep popping up in the newspapers and on the telly… they’re not… they’re not…?”
“Death Eaters, yeah,” Ron replied, glaring at the stationary images of Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange, Thorfinn Rowle, Kit Selwyn, Rufus Travers and Phillip Jugson.
“You mean… some of these… these monsters… they’re still out there even now?!” Hermione’s Mother asked in a horrified whisper.
“They won’t be for much longer,” Hermione replied confidently, as she managed to compose herself once more. “I’m sure of it.”
They continued to discuss details of the last twelve months for around fifteen minutes, before eventually the subject of what her parents planned on doing next reared its ugly head.
Her Mum and Dad shot each other a nervous, slightly guilty kind of look.
Ron thought he knew what they were both thinking, and he did not blame them. The subject of whether her parents would return home to Britain was not something that he and Hermione had discussed, but he had assumed that the more they were told the less likely they would be to come back.
At the start of the conversation when David had talked of wanting to protect his daughter so passionately, Ron had thought that maybe they would come back after all, but given their reactions to the latest developments that glimmer of hope seemed to be fading rather rapidly.
He thought Hermione had to be clever enough to come to the same conclusion. Although deep down inside, as he watched her body language carefully, there was a small part of him which was worried that she may not have planned for a scenario where her parents actually wanted to stay put across the pond.
“We don’t want you to think badly of us, dear,” David began softly, evidently looking very worried and nervous. “But your Mother and I… your Mother and I think… we think that-
“We don’t want to come home, poppet. I’m so so sorry,” Hazel said quickly, before bursting back into tears.
Ron felt Hermione’s hand pressed against his suddenly go limp. Maybe she really hadn’t seen this coming.
“We don’t want you to think it’s all because of the magic stuff,” David said urgently. “Don’t get me wrong, that is awfully frightening, but even the non-magical stuff is better out here. There’s a lot less crime. It’s more peaceful, the people seem kinder. Even the politics. It does look like the Troubles are finally over back home now… and I can’t imagine that Blair and Labour would be stupid enough to take us into any foreign wars any time soon… but at the same time, I mean, the weather is much nicer out here… we have a pool that comes with the house here… I think… I think what I’m trying to say is… is that-
“We’ve always wanted to move out here,” Hazel stepped in over her flustering husband. “You know we’ve always talked about it. I think all you did was speed us up by five-ten years… and I think in a strange way by giving us this extra time out here you’ve given us the greatest gift of all, dear. To move back to Britain now after we’ve settled in so well here… well, it would seem a bit-
“Silly,” Hermione added, nodding her head. “You don’t have to explain yourselves to me. It was naïve of me to think that everything would go back to how it was before…I can see that now. Please don’t feel bad… if this is what you truly want, it would be awfully selfish of me to take that away from you.”
Her Mother and Father pulled her in for a very emotional hug, as Ron watched on somewhat awkwardly, spotting Tezza feign amusement as he pretended to struggle carrying the weightless luggage of the newly arrived guests, as a small young wizard and witch watched on giggling to themselves.
The four of them sat and spoke for at least another hour, as David and Hazel Granger both heavily insisted that their daughter visit them as often as was possible. They joked about how it was much easier for her to come and see them, with Hermione laughing about how awfully nauseous and sick they had both been following their arrival.
Ron thought Hermione looked a bit nauseous at the prospect of her parent’s living on the other side of the world for the rest of her life.
Ron and Hermione sat on their balcony taking in the sun-set as they chilled in their hot-tub drinking a couple of cocktails, as the hot, thick bubbles bounced and pulsed relentlessly.
“Do you think… do you think they truly want to stay here forever, or do you think it’s because part of the idea I planted in their head is still there?” Hermione asked glumly, without taking her eyes off of the sky.
Ron took a reasonably large gulp of his drink, having feared this topic of conversation may well present itself at some stage.
“If they really always wanted to come and live out here like they said, then it makes sense that they’d want to stay here,” he answered, before placing his hand gently onto hers in the warm water and gripping it firmly.
“Yes… yes I know that,” she replied, looking at him with a look of sorrow and regret in her eyes. “But everyone always thinks about doing certain things… it doesn’t mean that they would actually ever do it. I am just really scared that for the rest of my life I will wonder if it was truly free will that is making them stay here… or whether it was all my fault for bewitching them into doing it in the first place.”
Hermione began to sob a little once more, as she pulled herself closer and into his arms, which caused her wet, curly hair to press up against him.
“They’re only still alive because of you,” Ron said softly, as he kissed her damp forehead gently. “They would’ve been killed if you hadn’t done what you did.”
“I suppose you are right,” she replied.
“I don’t really blame them for never wanting to leave this place,” Ron added jovially. “I’d quite like to stay here forever myself.”
Hermione laughed slightly.
“Now who is being silly?” she replied with a grin.
“What?” Ron cried, before chuckling. “I think we should carry on living at this hotel forever!”
“And who exactly is going to pay for that?” Hermione scoffed loudly.
“I think as Minister of Magic it is the least that Kingsley could do as compensation for all of our efforts,” Ron said in a very sarcastic tone, much to her amusement.
They spent the next ten minutes cuddled up together in the tub, eventually finishing their drinks, whilst calmly staring out towards the beach, watching each new wave crash with slightly less ferocity as the tide slowly went out.
“We have to go home now… don’t we?” Ron said, as he thought of the missing Death Eaters still on the loose, with Harry, Neville, Charlie and all of the others back home still fighting, putting their lives at risk whilst he and Hermione had a jolly up on the other side of the world.
“Yes,” Hermione said in a fairly remorseful, yet thoughtful tone. “Although I would quite like to spend a little more time with my parents… and I have always wanted to see the Sydney Opera House. I think we could get away with staying a little while longer,” she added, much to Ron’s relative surprise and delight.
“You think?” he asked excitedly.
“Well,” Hermione said in a merry tone, as she began to softly run her fingers through his soaking wet ginger hair.
“It is Kingsley who is paying!” she exclaimed, before laughing guiltily, as Ron burst into laughter before pulling her closer and kissing her lovingly as they felt the unyielding, relentless pulsing of the piping hot bubbles and hot-tub foam surround them long into the night.
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