- Astronomy Tower
- Bill Weasley/Fleur Delacour Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley
- Bill Weasley Hermione Granger
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 01/21/2005Updated: 01/21/2005Words: 2,256Chapters: 1Hits: 1,841
- Story Summary:
- Sometimes even the two smartest people in the house need help figuring out what the hell just happened. (Hermione and Bill--R/Hr, B/F) Third story in The Weasley Family Picnic series.
- Chapter Summary:
- Sometimes even the two smartest people in the house need help figuring out what the hell just happened. (Bill and Hermione: R/Hr, Bill/Fleur. Third story in The Weasley Family Picnic series.
- Author's Note:
- Beta'd by the lovely Hog's Head Barmaid
The answer hangs in the air for a good five minutes, and Hermione's heart is pounding fiercely, showing no sign of letting up.
Ron starts snoring.
She feels her stomach twisting between pushing up tears and the urge to howl with laughter.
And she needs to pee.
Gently she disentangles herself from the long arms and legs and swings her feet onto the floor, grabbing her fluffy robe from Harry's empty bed as she shuffles toward the door.
The problem, she decides, is that aside from the simple challenge of getting two unlike brains to operate on anything like the same wavelength, you've got bodies with different needs entirely--different from the minds', different from each other's. And that's not even looking at emotional literacy, because if you're looking at that... Well.
She walks quietly down the stairs, hoping not to disturb anyone--wishing she could go and wake Ginny, but knowing that she cannot do that tonight, either to her friend or to Harry. Though maybe both?... Lord knows she has listened to Harry spin his anxieties out often enough, and Lord knows they'd want to know and to listen.
Not tonight. Perhaps in the morning. Ginny. Or Harry. Or both of them.
Ginny's door is closed and the room is silent; snores rumble out of Percy's room and the twins'. Low and thunderous from Fred and George. Precise and almost fluty from Percy.
It's nice to have Percy here, and all of them know it. Even he seems to be happy to have them all teasing him again. The empty room was the worst, during his estrangement, a constant reminder of a limb of this family cut off.
Hermione thinks of her own sister, of trying to have a conversation with her about boyfriends at the beginning of the summer, and the two of them staring at each other as the conversation petered out and realizing that, really, they had nothing to say to each other. That had been even more painful than having to tell Mum and Daddy that she was going to spend the end of the summer with the Weasleys. Again.
Would they be happy?
She turned in to the loo.
To see the naked back and buttocks of a man availing himself of the facilities. A Weasley man, she's certainly qualified to judge: red hair, freckled back. Long copper locks, loose to below square shoulders. A tattoo of an Egyptian crook-and-cross at the base of his spine.
"Bill!" she gasps.
Astonished, the eldest Weasley brother whips around, eyes wide, and tries to bend, too much to cover all at once.
"God! I'm sorry!" Hermione squeals as quietly as she can manage, squeezing her eyes shut and turning around.
A moment later she hears the toilet flush and the tap run, then feels a slightly damp hand on her shoulder.
"Sorry," whispers Bill. "I'm here so infrequently. I forget it's not just family."
Hermione nods. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I didn't even think to knock or..."
"C'mon, I didn't even close the door. Don't bother yourself. Just don't tell Fleur--I don't think she'd be very amused."
"Ah," Hermione says.
"Hermione," Bill says, "you can open your eyes now."
"Oh, " Hermione says.
Tentatively, she squints her eyes open. He is standing before her, a towel wrapped around his narrow hips, his face and chest chiseled marble in the moonlit hall. "Hmm," she says. He isn't as tall as Ron, but he bears himself with such quiet strength and she is so open just now that she knows she needs to move. "My turn," she says, and scoots into the loo.
She closes the door behind her, her eyes adjusting to the dim light of the ancient charmed fairy-shaped nightlight. It's madness, to have thirteen people sharing a single toilet.
She expects Bill to have gone when she comes out, but he hasn't. He is now wrapped in a robe that is too flowery and too small to be his own. With the window behind him, his eyes are black pits.
"Hermione," he says, "may I... ask you something?"
Her heart skips and she yells at herself for being hormonal and silly--at this moment especially. "Of course, Bill. What do you have on your mind?"
"Well, I... Uh, are you okay, Hermione? You seem a bit... flustered."
"Oh!" Her hand flies to her hair, for no reason that she can think of. "I've just got something on my mind rather at the moment," she splutters. Time to change the subject. "Also, I'm sad to say that I'm not quite used to encountering naked men in the middle of the night. Did you know that the ankh was the Egyptian symbol for eternal life?"
Bill gives her a bemused look, then laughs, quietly reaching towards his back with one lace-clad arm. "Right. It's also a glyph the old wizard-priests used to use to mark doors guarded with the earliest form of the Avada Kedavra curse. So it's a bit of an in joke with us curse breakers to use it to mark things you'd rather people, uh, kept their hands off of."
"Oh," Hermione says, "I see." Before the flutters can take hold of her entirely, she asks, "Bill, what were you going to ask?"
His eyes retreat into shadows again. "I guess it's just something I want to run by you. Think of it as a hypothetical case." She nods, and he continues. "Suppose," he says, fingers running through his locks, "suppose that you were with someone, you know? And they were totally... foreign to you in every possible way. Almost as if you were a different species. Different way of thinking. Different way of speaking, certainly. Different values. Different ambitions. So different that sometimes they just... infuriate you."
Her mind flooded with images of six years' worth of arguments with Ron, she begins to speak, to apologize, for what she is not sure, but Bill continues. "And yet, in spite of that, you are madly in love with this strange creature. You are drunk with them. You can't imagine spending a day without them, even those days when you feel like killing them. Then, one night, out of the blue, this person... asks you to marry them. And without even having to think, you say yes."
Hermione, whose heart has been pounding throughout this recitation, gasps. "How could you?..." He starts in surprise at her reaction, and she peers into his face. "Wait. Bill. Just whom are we talking about?"
Now it is Bill's turn to be flustered. "Why... I... Fleur and me." He looks at her, truly abashed.
"Oh! Bill!" Hermione is barely able to keep her voice down. "She asked you to marry her?"
He nods intently.
"Oh! Bill! I'm so... I want to hear all about it! Let's go get some tea," she burbles, heading towards the stairs. "That's wonderful!"
His excitement getting the better of him as he begins to follow her down, he blurts, "Yeah, it bloody well is! I can't believe it, I mean, why would she?... Wait a mo." He stops at the top of the stairs down to the ground floor. "Hermione, when you said... Did my little brother Ron?..."
She looks up at him, and whatever expression is on her face suffices to silence him. "Why would you possibly pose that to me as a hypothetical situation?" she asks, voice quavering.
"Because," he groans quietly, leaning against the wall, where pictures of red-headed relatives are blinking themselves awake. "Because I never know myself with Fleur," he says, and sighs deeply. "Hermione, do you know the mechanism for the glamour that Veela cast?"
In her mind, it is as if Veela, Ondines and Other Krypto-Succubi were open in front of her, though she hasn't read the book since fourth year. "Well, as I remember there are two or three separate components to the charm, actually. The most powerful is the song, which most male--and many female--humans find difficult to resist. The second is transmitted by the eyes. And then there is also a glamour on their hair..."
"Yeah, well, the hair is fairly secondary. And the song is totally voluntary--the Veela has to want to use her voice to enchant for that to work. But the eyes are involuntary. Like a Basilisk's. Even the strongest-willed men--and, as you say, many women--have a hard time not turning into a blubbering mass when looking into a Veela's eyes, unless their heart is claimed by another."
"Well, you've always seemed to manage pretty well around Fleur, Bill." Harry too, for that matter, back during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, if not the Quidditch World Cup. I wonder what that meant? she ponders. And Ron... Well, he hasn't made anywhere near the idiot out of himself this year that he did back in fourth year.
He sighs. "I think that's one of the reasons she liked me. Likes me. Fleur, that is. I think she likes the fact that I don't just fall to goo at her feet." His face hardens. "But I am affected by her... Look, I don't want you to think this is too kinky or anything, but..." He looks up the stairs.
"But? Good Lord, Bill, you can't not finish a sentence like that!" Hermione hisses.
He shakes his head, grinning sadly. "I've been blindfolding her when we make love, recently. She thinks it's exciting, I think, not knowing what I'm going to do. And knowing I'm not... under her spell. And I..." He is beginning to shiver, the lace around his cuffs trembling. "I've begun to realize just how in love with her I really am. That I'm just as besotted without the damned charms and glamours as with them. So when she asked me tonight, I..." He stops, his brow twisted in the kind of concentration that Hermione recognizes all too well from Ron, from when he's playing chess, or fighting with her.
"You said yes, Bill. You said yes."
He takes a deep breath and lets it out. Then he fixes her with his dark gaze for a moment, and nods. "Thanks, Hermione. I just needed someone to remind me of that, I guess."
"Glad I could help," Hermione says, stifling a giggle to think what Lavender or Parvati would think if they knew someone like Bill had asked her for relationship advice. "Just... Why me?"
He grins, and the desire to giggle strangely evaporates. "Because you're as clever as the twins, as clear-headed as Ginny, and as honor-bound as Percy. Because your name isn't Weasley. Because in seven years, you've never killed Ron, though, knowing him, I'm sure you've had cause. Because when you walked in on me, starkers in the WC, you had the good form not to laugh." He leans forward, takes either cheek in a hand, and kisses her on the forehead.
Hermione is too surprised even to gasp.
"Congratulations, Hermione. My little bro's a very lucky man."
That's done it. The dam breaks and the tears flow and Hermione is afraid she's about to splinter into a million pieces, like a Boggart that's been laughed at one time too many.
His arms enfold her, and she weeps onto his bicep. The silk smells of Channel No. 5. Within two minutes, she's soaked it through, so that his red hair is visible through the robe, but the sobbing has subsided. "Bill?"
"Do you think your parents will mind?"
"Mind?" He pulls back and stares down at her, and the resemblance to Ron's habitual goggle of disbelief makes Hermione want to laugh. "Mind what? That the silly git had the good sense to snag someone as brilliant as you?"
"Stop, Bill, please. You'll make me start crying again, and neither of us wants that. Do you think..." and her throat tightens before she is able finally to finish, "You're a pure-blood family. Do you think they'll care that I'm a Muggle-born?" She stares at the wet spot on his arm, unwilling to look up.
"Oh, bloody hell, Hermione," Bill sighs. "I'm marrying a part-Veela. At least you're all human. Besides, have you met my dad yet? Balding chap with glasses, always has some mad Muggle machine in pieces out in the shed? He'll think it's the best thing since Spell-o-tape. Probably be upset Ron didn't propose to your sister and bring some real Muggle blood into the family tree!"
Hermione gives a mock growl that would have had Ron or Harry diving for cover.
Bill just laughs quietly. "Mom'll be ecstatic, because you make Ron happy without letting him get away with anything. C'mon, let's go down, I'll make us a cuppa." He places his hand on her shoulder and they walk down the last flight of stairs together.
To Hermione's surprise, the light in the kitchen is on. Charlie, Tonks, Harry and Ginny are seated around one end of the table, and the four of them look up like startled unicorns.
Ginny's birthday present for Harry, she remembers. Oh. The two of them are wide-eyed, apparently on some knife-edge between terror and glee. Looking at them, she can feel the tears bubbling up again. No, not now. Another time.
Charlie and Tonks look more solemn, but something's there too.
"Hey, Charlie, what's up?" Bill says, clearly trying to gauge just what's what.
"We've been down here for a bit," Charlie says nonchalantly, "having a chat and some tea. Nice robe, by the way."
"Yeah, picked it up in a little shop in the Rue des Sorcières," Bill smirks, and strikes a glam pose, lace and flowers parting to reveal his chest. Then he peers over at the teapot in Ginny's hand. "Any left in the pot?"
"Yeah," Ginny says. "Just made fresh." Her feet are reaching for Harry's beneath the table.
Tonks charms a pair of mugs over from the drying board and pours out, her eyes dark and unreadable.
Harry's eyes are back on Ginny's face.
"Good," Bill says, the self-assurance that Hermione is used to returning to his voice. "'Cause I've got some news I'd like to tell you lot. And I think," he says, grinning at Hermione, "that Miss Granger here might have some as well...."
Now. Now's the time.