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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 Harry’s 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, she’d 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 she’d 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 didn’t 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 aren’t 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 didn’t believe her, but he didn’t press the subject any further, "Do you want to come down now?"

"I don’t 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, "I’m sorry if you didn’t want me to."

"Of course I did. Wouldn’t 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 couldn’t really expect that it would be the same. She could hardly imagine her life without Harry in it, or Ron…

"It’s 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, "I’m glad. I’ve always liked rainy days."

"I don’t," Ron grumbled, keeping his face to the outdoors, "Too - too wet."

"Well then I can understand why you wouldn’t 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."

"I’m not being philosophical, I’m- oh, never mind. You wouldn’t understand."

"Oh, wouldn’t 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 don’t 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 wouldn’t know where to begin."

"At the beginning," he suggested, "That’s usually the best place to start."

"Usually," she sighed, "It’s stopped raining again. Let’s go outside."

He grinned at her, "We’ll miss the feast."

"They’ve 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,

"That’s enough to drive anyone to extremes."

"So I’ve been told."

"It’s pretty out here. Let’s 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 Ron’s long strides as he headed towards the lake, "This breach of protocol is new to me, you know. I think I’ll take it slow at first."

He shortened his step to match hers, "If you take it too slow, you’ll never get anything done."

"But if you take it too fast, you miss all the good stuff along the way," she countered.

"Like homework?"

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 you’ve graduated?"

"I don’t 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. There’s 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.

"Yes, Hermione?"

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 don’t 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, "You’ve always known what you’ve wanted."

"Hardly," she said, "I’m 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, "That’s all it was. Talk. Maybe it was more for Harry, but when it comes down to it, I’m pretty much lost… I suppose I’ll 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 wouldn’t 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 don’t know that I wouldn’t mind it, if I could love him too. Marrying someone for their money is positively horrid. The type of thing Parvati would do. Besides, there’s more to life than marriage. A lot more."

"Don’t let my mum catch you saying that," grinned Ron, "She’s been hounding Bill and Charlie for ages. But they’re both too busy with their jobs and all. I guess for some people that’s 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 can’t cook. And I’m 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 wouldn’t want to miss out, you know."

"A pretty pair we’ll 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 it’s 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t…

"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 wouldn’t run away screaming."

"Did I scream?"

He grinned, "No, I’ll have to give you that. Do you want me to give you a long, flowery speech? I don’t think either of us would enjoy it much, but if you insist-"

"Don’t be silly. It’s much too muddy for you to get down on one knee. You’d ruin your robe."

"And we wouldn’t want that, would we? I’m going to be wearing this robe so often after today."

She sighed, "No. Why’d you have to do that?"

"Do what?"

"Make me depressed again," she shivered and turned away towards the lake, rubbing her arms gently, "This is the last time we’ll ever be here again, you know?

Silently he moved to stand beside her, "Isn’t 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 that’s not what I mean. Sure we can come back. But we’ll never be back. It’ll 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, that’s what I keep telling myself. Somehow it’s harder to convince myself of that, though. Hogwarts- it’s been the best thing in my life, Ron. Maybe what comes next will be better, but I’m afraid to meet it. Afraid."

"I guess that’s what life is really all about, isn’t it?" mused Ron, rubbing her arms absently, "Change. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s not afraid of it, really. Not me, or Harry, or even Dumbledore."

"I suppose not. But that’s another hard thing, isn’t it? Saying good-bye, to Dumbledore, and Harry, and you…"

"You won’t have to say good-bye to me, ‘Mione," he said vehemently, turning her around to face him, "I won’t let you."

They were silent for another long moment. "Thank-you, Ron."

"No problem," he said lightly, "I guess we’d better be getting back into the feast, shouldn’t we? Harry’ll 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."

"Wouldn’t want that."

"No, we wouldn’t."

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 you’re 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.

End