Disclaimer/Authors Note: Ron and Hermione belong to Ms. Rowling. The title doesn't have much to do with the story, but it went with the quote and I found it particularly ironic... perhaps Ron and Hermione's sentiments if their eleven year old selves ever had occasion to read this story... ;) For M., my wandering minstrel buddy.
Summary: On the eve of graduation, Hermione and Ron talk of shoes and ships and sealing wax No real plot, muchos mushiness.
And Whether Pigs Have Wings
By Princess Kate
"'The time has come,' the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes-- and ships-- and sealing wax--
Of cabbages-- and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.'"
-- Lewis Carroll
Hermione Granger sat alone in the Gryffindor Common Room, pensively watching the dying fire in the fireplace, arms wrapped around herself not for the warmth but for the comfort. Outside the wind blew against the window, the sky was a threatening grey, and the world smelled of rain- she felt strangely comforted by that.
She should have been downstairs at the feast- she was Head Girl, after all, and it was expected of her. She had never broken a rule in her life (except when Ron or Harrys lives or reputations were at stake, of course) and she felt a strange sort of melancholy at starting now- last day of school. But the world owed her one afternoon of not being perfect- might as well be today.
Not that anyone would particularly want her at the feast- she was no actress, and trying to keep a smile plastered on her face would take more strength than she felt she had. She knew if she went, shed start crying.
Silly, she knew, to be so emotional about what should have been one of the happiest days of her life. Seven years of homework and studying for tests and class notes had paid off- she was a full witch now, ready to go off into the world and show everyone what she was made of- she had no doubts in her mind that shed be able to make it. She was Hermione, after all.
And Hermione was a rational person, or at least she told herself. She was frustrated at herself for her apparent doubts- the nagging voice in the back of her mind that told her maybe she didnt want to go out into the world. Maybe she just wanted to stay at Hogwarts, to be seventeen forever. Seventeen was such a nice age. Why did it have to be spoiled by growing up?
"Hermione? Are you here?"
It was Ron- she had been too wrapped up in herself to notice his entrance. Another downside of allowing oneself to be pensive - now he would catch her with tears in her eyes. But he stayed back by the portrait hole, almost timidly.
"Yeah?" she answered, furtively trying to wipe her eyes on the hem of her robe.
"You arent the feast. I- Harry and I were worried."
She stood up, smoothed down her hair and turned to face him, hoping her smile looked sincere, "I forgot something up here. Some final extra credit for Professor McGonagall."
"Oh," he said, and she knew he didnt believe her, but he didnt press the subject any further, "Do you want to come down now?"
"I dont see why not," she said, trying to keep the smile on her face- a smile was expected of her, after all, "Thanks for coming up to get me."
He held the door open for her as she climbed out, "Im sorry if you didnt want me to."
"Of course I did. Wouldnt want to miss the feast, would I?"
"I guess not," he said, and the two of them started down the hall in silence. It was a nice feeling, she reflected, to just be walking down the halls with Ron by her side, silent because they wanted to be, not because they were in some fight and not speaking to each other. Of everything she would miss about Hogwarts, he and Harry would be the most sorely missed. Of course they had sworn to each other to keep close contact, but one couldnt really expect that it would be the same. She could hardly imagine her life without Harry in it, or Ron
"Its started to rain," he said presently, stopping by a wide window.
"So it has," Hermione observed, glad for any excuse to prolong the inevitable return to the feast, "Im glad. Ive always liked rainy days."
"I dont," Ron grumbled, keeping his face to the outdoors, "Too - too wet."
"Well then I can understand why you wouldnt like them," said Hermione, determined not to start a fight over something so inconsequential- not now, anyway, "Whoever heard of a dry rainy day?"
Ron had to give a smile at that, albeit a sarcastic one, "I love it when you talk philosophical, Mione."
"Im not being philosophical, Im- oh, never mind. You wouldnt understand."
"Oh, wouldnt I?"
Something in his tone made her glance up at him sharply, but his face was once again impassive as he stared out the window.
"I dont know."
"Try me." His voice was low, with an almost urgent intensity.
She leaned up again the window, the glass cool on her skin, "I wouldnt know where to begin."
"At the beginning," he suggested, "Thats usually the best place to start."
"Usually," she sighed, "Its stopped raining again. Lets go outside."
He grinned at her, "Well miss the feast."
"Theyve lived without out us this far."
"Your philosophy is only exceeded by your logic," he said, following her through one of the numerous small doorways that one finds at Hogwarts. The air outside was cool, the grass beneath their feet wet and the air heavy with moisture, "What ever happened to the Hermione who would try to tattle on us if we even thought about breaking the rules?"
"She spent too much time around you," she grinned, taking in with a relish the particularly woodsy smell of a rainy afternoon,
"Thats enough to drive anyone to extremes."
"So Ive been told."
"Its pretty out here. Lets head over to the lake."
"Not the Forest?" he asked, raising an eyebrow, and it took her a moment to realise he was being sarcastic.
"No," she answered, trotting to catch up with Rons long strides as he headed towards the lake, "This breach of protocol is new to me, you know. I think Ill take it slow at first."
He shortened his step to match hers, "If you take it too slow, youll never get anything done."
"But if you take it too fast, you miss all the good stuff along the way," she countered.
She gave a huff and tossed her hair over her shoulder, "I do think about more than homework, you know."
"Like what, extra credit? What are you going to do without your beloved library now that youve graduated?"
"I dont know," she whispered, the words falling out of her mouth before she had any chance to catch them, "I mean- there are libraries other places, you know. Theres nothing very special about this one."
"No," Ron agreed, "Nothing very special."
They walked in silence for a little bit, "Ron?" she broke in finally.
She paused, almost hesitantly, "Have- have you thought at all about what you want to do, after today, I mean. We never really talked about it."
"Did you really want to?" he asked pensively, sticking his hands deep in the pockets of his robes and keeping his eyes on the ground, "I- I dont really know, exactly. Something. You and Harry are the ones who know what they want to do with their lives."
"Me?" she asked, considerably surprised, "Wherever did you get that idea?"
He sighed, a trace of bitterness in his voice, "Youve always known what youve wanted."
"Hardly," she said, "Im horribly confused, myself. I always thought you were the one who had their life on track. All that talk with Harry about becoming Aurors or Quidditch players or wandering minstrels "
He gave a wry grin, "Thats all it was. Talk. Maybe it was more for Harry, but when it comes down to it, Im pretty much lost I suppose Ill take the family route, get a job in the Ministry and test cauldron bottoms for the rest of my life."
"You could do more than that, if you really wanted to. I wouldnt be surprised to someday read about my old friend, Ron Weasley, Minister of Magic-"
"I doubt it," he rolled his eyes, "Although your support is truly touching. So what do you want to do? Marry someone tall, rich, and handsome and live the rest of your life in a blaze of luxury?"
She laughed, "I dont know that I wouldnt mind it, if I could love him too. Marrying someone for their money is positively horrid. The type of thing Parvati would do. Besides, theres more to life than marriage. A lot more."
"Dont let my mum catch you saying that," grinned Ron, "Shes been hounding Bill and Charlie for ages. But theyre both too busy with their jobs and all. I guess for some people thats enough. So you want to live the rest of your life some old spinster librarian?"
"Oh, yeah," sighed Hermione sarcastically, "Remember me when you become Minister, your poor old spinster friend Hermione, toiling away the rest of her empty life among her books invite me to dinner, once in a while, will you? Everybody knows librarians cant cook. And Im sure your wife will be splendid at it."
"Oh, so suddenly I have to get married? What if I agree to your assessment that there was more to life than marriage? I wouldnt want to miss out, you know."
"A pretty pair well make," Hermione grinned, "Two old, decrepit losers, sitting around dreaming about the good ol days, not even a husband or a wife or children to fall back on."
"I suppose if its going to be that bad," mused Ron pensively, "We should just marry each other now and save ourselves the trouble."
She grinned at him, not taking him seriously- how could she? "Is that a proposal?"
He blushed, but turned to keep his eyes steadily on hers, "Yeah, I guess it is. So what do you say?"
For the first time in her life, Hermione was rendered quite speechless. The entire thought was completely absurd Ron was playing some sort of trick on her. He had to be. She tried to tear herself away from his eyes, but for some reason she found that she could not, that she didnt exactly want to, that all of a sudden she was quite breathless what exactly was so absurd about it, anyhow?
Besides from everything "I say the lake is right up the lane and I bet you a knut I can beat you there."
With that, she tore herself away from him and raced up the road, glad of the cool air rushing against her pink, hot cheeks. Even with her head start, Ron could have easily caught up with her, but she reached the lake a few seconds before him. Enough time at least to compose herself- no one else but Ron could ever so completely unnerve her. He was probably laughing behind his hand, the bastard. She hoped he was, at least. And then there was the part of her that hoped he wasnt
"You know," she said, as soon as she had caught her breath, "I had always rather imagined my first proposal would be a bit more romantic. Moonlight and roses and long, flowery speeches."
"And I always rather imagined the first girl I proposed to wouldnt run away screaming."
"Did I scream?"
He grinned, "No, Ill have to give you that. Do you want me to give you a long, flowery speech? I dont think either of us would enjoy it much, but if you insist-"
"Dont be silly. Its much too muddy for you to get down on one knee. Youd ruin your robe."
"And we wouldnt want that, would we? Im going to be wearing this robe so often after today."
She sighed, "No. Whyd you have to do that?"
"Make me depressed again," she shivered and turned away towards the lake, rubbing her arms gently, "This is the last time well ever be here again, you know?
Silently he moved to stand beside her, "Isnt that a little overly dramatic? You can come back- be the librarian after Pince finally croaks."
She gave a small laugh and leaned up against him, glad for his warmth as the wind picked up again and it grew cooler. The sun was rapidly setting in the west, reflecting golden against the grey haze over the lake, "You know thats not what I mean. Sure we can come back. But well never be back. Itll never be the same."
"I reckon life would get pretty boring if it always stayed the same," he offered, placing a tentative arm over her shoulders, as if he thought it might bite her.
"Yeah, thats what I keep telling myself. Somehow its harder to convince myself of that, though. Hogwarts- its been the best thing in my life, Ron. Maybe what comes next will be better, but Im afraid to meet it. Afraid."
"I guess thats what life is really all about, isnt it?" mused Ron, rubbing her arms absently, "Change. I dont think theres anyone whos not afraid of it, really. Not me, or Harry, or even Dumbledore."
"I suppose not. But thats another hard thing, isnt it? Saying good-bye, to Dumbledore, and Harry, and you "
"You wont have to say good-bye to me, Mione," he said vehemently, turning her around to face him, "I wont let you."
They were silent for another long moment. "Thank-you, Ron."
"No problem," he said lightly, "I guess wed better be getting back into the feast, shouldnt we? Harryll be worried."
"Yeah," she answered, "We probably should."
"It would probably be the best thing to do."
"We might catch cold standing here all night."
"Wouldnt want that."
"No, we wouldnt."
For another long moment, neither moved or spoke. It was Ron who cut into the silence this time, with the air of a man who has decided to either do what he has set out to do or die in the attempt, "Would you mind if I kissed you?"
She laughed, "If youre going to marry me, you might as well."
His answer was not it words, but it was a while later before the two finally started up towards the castle, finally ready to face the feast, and to face their future.