~A/N~ Thank you to Hastyhand for her beautiful illustration. And thank you to Petrificus Somewhatus for looking this over.
"Ron, there's something I need to tell you." Harry took a deep breath. "That we need to tell you."
Harry had invited him over for dinner and all members of what the Daily Prophet had taken to calling the 'Golden Trio' were now standing awkwardly in the living room of Grimmauld Place.
There was a tension in the air, so thick that Ron thought even a slight movement would break it.
His two best friends shared a look with each other and then turned to Ron with grave expressions on their faces.
Harry finally spoke: "Hermione and I—"
"Are getting married," Ron interrupted.
"How… did you know?" He scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. "I haven't told anyone yet. Hell, even I didn't know we were going to be married until yesterday."
Ron rolled his eyes and pulled out the binder he had hidden in his jacket. "Sit down, I've had the whole thing planned for years."
Hermione eyed him suspiciously and followed him to the couch. Harry remained standing, still looking a little dazed until his bride-to-be slammed the binder on the dining table and started shouting.
"Ron, I am not wearing Chudley Cannons Orange on my wedding day!"
"Why not?" he replied, annoyed already. "It's a bright color and it represents happiness!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Hermione spluttered. "And this wedding banquet menu. I've never heard of half of these dishes—"
"That's because, for once in your life, you aren't the expert here. I am." He tried not to sound smug, but it was considerably hard when he saw her pause in mid tirade, one finger still up in the air as if she couldn't believe what he had just said.
"I even asked my Great Aunt Muriel to look it over before finalizing the details. Now that's what I call a noble sacrifice! You should be thanking me, these dishes are a must for traditional wizard weddings and you've got to try that flavour of treacle tart—"
Hermione's eyes grew wider and wider throughout his explanation and she finally exploded.
"Oh, for goodness sake Ron! Harry only asked me to marry him yesterday. How on earth do you have all of this planned out?"
"Blimey, Hermione. Everyone from our Hogwarts' years have been waiting on this for nearly a decade now. I wasn't kidding when I said I had years to plan it out. Took Harry long enough to pop the question—and I thought I was supposed to be the slow one in the trio!"
Ron shook his head in disappointment and Harry opened his mouth to refute, only to end up closing it again.
"Well," Harry rubbed his nose sheepishly. "You're right. I took too long to realize what was there right in front of me. I'm sorry, Hermione."
"Don't apologize, Harry. It doesn't matter how long it took for us to get here." She gave him a soft smile. "What matters is that we're here now."
Ron fought the nauseous feeling rising in his stomach.
"Let's leave the romantics and grand declarations of love for until after I'm gone, yeah?" He held up the binder. "We have a wedding to plan and I've come up with several options for you to consider."
His bushy haired best friend glared at him and he thought that if looks could kill, he would be dead several times over.
"This is my wedding, Ronald Bilius Weasley."
Oh, so that was how she was going to play it: the full name card. Low blow.
"And Harry is my best friend! I'm the best man!"
They both turned to Harry.
The bespectacled man who the wizarding world had lauded with numerous medals of merit and glamorous titles looked decidedly unheroic in that moment. His eyes shifted from side to side and he eventually decided on picking up Crookshanks, who was lying lazily on the carpet. He cast his eyes downward and pretended to be busy smoothing out his fur.
"Yeah, um... I'm just gonna stay out of..." Harry vaguely pointed at the two of them, "Whatever this is."
"Ha!" Ron turned back to Hermione triumphantly.
She snorted and gave him a look of contempt. "And to think that Harry here was worried all night over how you would take the news. Turns out that you're invested in this even more than I am."
"Yeah. No offense, but… what's going on?" Harry couldn't help but ask.
There was silence in the room.
He had waited so long for this moment. So damn long.
"What's going on?" Ron tried to keep his voice steady and failed miserably. "What's going on is that I've invested more galleons into the Hogwarts betting pool than you two will ever know! Do you know how much I've lost!?"
Harry and Hermione were stunned, both looking at him with identical expressions of shock.
"No, of course you wouldn't know," he muttered to himself. "You're both blind as a bat when it comes to your own feelings. I mean, I always knew Harry was sort of daft—" Harry made a sound of protest. "Sorry, mate, but you know it's true. Still, I thought Hermione would be the one to make the first move. Brightest Witch of Her Age, my arse."
Hermione slowly brought her wand up and pointed it at Ron, her eyes glinting in a way that made the hairs at the back of his neck stand up.
"Oh, sure. Threaten me because I'm telling the truth!" He somehow managed not to let his fear of Hermione leak out in his voice, but he stepped back a few steps and hid behind Harry. Just in case. "I will speak my piece this time and not even you can stop me."
"I didn't get into it until second year so I don't know exactly when the bet started. What I do know is that the betting pool was massive. Every single professor had a stake in it, from McGonagall to Dumbledore to that ghastly Binns. Even Snape had a foot in, but rumors had it that he betted against you two getting together. Miserable sod."
"He never would want to see me happy," Harry shook his head in thought.
"Are you actually buying this?" Hermione asked in disbelief. "That there was a… a bet about us getting together since we were kids?"
"It doesn't matter if you believe it," Ron sneered at her. "It's true. And it was hell for everyone to wait for you two to get your bearings straight."
The more he thought about everything he had endured all those years, the more frustrated he grew. He gave up hiding behind Harry and started pacing around the room.
"I thought for sure that after third year, my bet was secured; that after you lovebirds left me in the hospital wing to have a rendezvous on Buckbeak, going on a jolly old adventure through time—just the two of you, going through life and death together and all of that jazz—" He made an exploding gesture with his hands. "I thought it would spark something!"
"We were trying to save Sirius, Ron."
"While flying on a symbol of love? Yes, I did my research Hermione. I do know how to read, thank you very much."
Hermione and Harry both looked at him doubtfully.
"You wouldn't get it." He let out a defeated sigh. "My investment was at stake. Years of allowance savings that I managed to keep the twins from nabbing and I was about to lose it! I was desperate.
"Then came fourth year and all right, I was a bit of a dirtbag. Yes, I didn't believe you. Fine, I admit it—stop glaring at me, Hermione. But now that I look back at the time when I was pissed at Harry, that was the perfect time. Hermione spent every waking moment of her day trying to help you with the first task, didn't she? You told me later, Harry. How horrible you felt. How she understood you even when no one else did. So tell me why it was that I came back and you still hadn't gotten a clue?"
"Wait a minute," Hermione held up a hand. "You weren't just a dirtbag to Harry during fourth year. You were awful to me."
"Merlin, you know how to hold onto a grudge, don't you ?" he grumbled. "I could have handled it better, but the stress was getting to me. The stakes in the betting pooI doubled once the Yule Ball was announced. It was all or nothing and Harry still hadn't asked you out, so I had to wake him up to the fact that you weren't just our best friend. You were a girl. " He turned to Harry. "She's a bloody girl, mate!"
"Thank you, Ron," Harry said dryly. "I hadn't noticed."
"You better have noticed after last night." Hermione snorted and Harry grinned at her, an adoring look in his eyes.
God, they were so sappy. Maybe he should be thankful he didn't have to deal with this earlier.
He cleared his throat. "So….yeah, the Yule Ball was a disaster. I may or may not have moped around like a lovesick fool, but I was down in the dumps, okay? Hermione was about to be stolen away by that Bulgarian blockhead and, Harry, you weren't even doing anything about it!"
Harry stopped smiling.
"Ron, Hermione is not a prize to be owned or stolen. She is her own person and I may have been late to the realization, but in the end she makes her own decisions and she chose me. I'm the luckiest person in the world that she did."
"Oh, Harry." At the side, their bushy haired friend started to tear up.
"Right," Ron snorted, but couldn't help feeling a bit chagrined. "That was my fault. Didn't mean it that way, you know. Just thinking about that night and all of my money disappearing in front of me makes my blood pressure rise."
Blimey, Ron groaned to himself. I sounded just like mum there. Next thing I'll be bringing up my poor nerves.
Harry had gone to sit next to Hermione and put an arm around her shoulder.
"It's all right." He gave Ron a faint, but comforting smile. "The past is the past. It's time for us to look forward to the future."
The past...is….the past?
"What?" Hermione asked.
"No, I don't bloody think so!" Ron exploded, unable to stay calm anymore. "I haven't even started on fifth year yet."
"Ron—" Harry said.
"Fifth year… fifth year you two were glued to each other's side! I thought: this is actually happening. I took a loan out from Fred and George and doubled my investment in the betting pool. A loan from the twins! Mum almost killed me when she found out. But I thought it was worth it. A brilliant move and right on time too. Do you know how hard it was to be around you two when Hermione did her weird protective girlfriend thing whenever Cho was mentioned? All that flirting?"
He put his hand on his hip and imitated Hermione in a high pitched voice: "Of course you're not a bad kisser, Harry!"
Harry appeared pensive. "That's right. You were rather certain of that fact after I told you about my experience with Cho. Very, very certain. Almost like you had given it a lot of thought…"
Hermione's cheeks flushed. "Oh, shut up. Especially you, Ron! Why are you only going after me? Harry was horrible at it too!"
"Was I? I don't recall." Harry sounded amused.
"But I don't think you're ugly," Hermione said and Ron perked up his ears in interest. Now this was a conversation he hadn't witnessed. "I was trying to give you advice about Cho and you hit me with that line. What was a girl supposed to think after that?"
"That—that wasn't flirting!" Harry's ears turned red. "I was just telling the truth, that's all. I don't think you're ugly. I never have."
Hermione's eyes were shining.
Ron rolled his eyes. "See, this is exactly what I was talking about. You were all wholesome and sickeningly sweet and supportive together. Harry, you would come straight to Hermione whenever you felt down about the lessons with Snape or the detentions with Umbridge. It was a bit surreal to watch. The way you relaxed around her and could finally breathe. The way Hermione managed to calm you down even when you were in your crazy rages. Sometimes, even I didn't want to get in your way that year. But Hermione? She never backed down. And I thought for sure you would see that.
"I think that was the first year I started to feel the distance too, the difference between our relationships. You were inseparable that year. Planning and making decisions together, leading the DA side by side, acting like some sort of perfect duo—what was I, the next door neighbor?"
"Ron, no—" Hermione tried to interrupt, her voice much softer than before.
"Oh, don't get me wrong," he waved a hand at her dismissively. "I wasn't mad about that. I was happy. Finally, I thought. Finally, these idiots would get a clue and I could maybe even buy the new Chudley Cannons limited fan edition for Christmas with my winnings—"
"Ron—" The annoyed tone that he was so familiar with was back.
"Nothing happened! Nothing changed! I thought I was going mad, honestly. It was clear as day to me, but why couldn't my two best friends—who everyone always said were smarter and braver than me—see it? After you saw her almost die in front of you in the Department of Mysteries, didn't that wake something up inside of you, Harry? Neville told me, you know, how you almost collapsed right then and there. Like your entire world had ended. How you kept murmuring to yourself, begging for her to be alive."
"Harry?" Hermione turned to him, her eyes wide. "You never told me about that."
Harry's face had turned white and his hand was clenched into a fist. "I don't like remembering that moment. You almost died because of me. Because of me and my stupidity."
"Stupidity is the right word for it," Ron scoffed. "Don't tell me the reason you kept a distance from Hermione in sixth year was because you felt guilty?"
Harry remained silent and Hermione let out a soft cry: "Oh, Harry. No." .
Ron groaned. "Come on, man! Even the braindead Lockhart type heroes in those trash novels my mum reads know what to do after an experience like that. You kiss the girl! You go after her! You tell her how much she means to you, how you can't live without her and all of that mushy stuff."
"How do you know what happens in those novels?" Harry asked in a steely voice.
Bollocks. Ron tried to keep his cool after that little detail had slipped out.
"I'm... wounded that you would try to change the subject when I'm trying to have a heart to heart talk here. Wounded." He put his hand to his chest. "In fact, I...I think I need to sit down...this is bringing back my traumatic experiences...it was torture waiting for you two to see the light. Worse than torture."
"Honestly, Ron. This is becoming so unbelievably dramatic." Hermione sighed. "At the end of the day, Harry and I getting together has nothing to do with you—"
"Nothing to do with me!? Say that again, Hermione. Say it to my face!" He started pacing again, stopping periodically to wag his finger threateningly at the couple staring at him with matching baffled expressions.
"You don't get to say that to me. Oh, no. Sixth year was the last straw! It's all coming back to me... the people in the betting pool started having their doubts. Started spreading rumors that I was the third wheel in the relationship—the jealous one that was preventing Harry from confessing because he wanted to spare my feelings. The one you would settle on because you thought you had no chance with Harry. Excuse me! How in the name of Merlin's underpants was any of that my fault!?"
"Wait!" Harry raised his voice. "Does that mean… does that mean you've never liked Hermione?"
Ron and Hermione looked at each other and then back at Harry with equally disdainful expressions.
"Blimey, Harry. Of course, I don't. I still have some standards for myself."
"I told you, he's never liked me in that way. And I've never fancied him either—wait, what's that supposed to mean, Ron?"
He raised his hands defensively, hastily backtracking. "Nothing against you, Hermione. You're a pretty witch and everything. I'm sure you'll make Harry happy at least. But you and me? We'd be miserable."
Hermione snorted. "Can you imagine us going out? We wouldn't make it through the first date."
Ron shuddered. "Please don't make me think about it. You test my nerves often enough as it is, always nagging at every little thing I do. Always the tone of disdain. I would never be good enough for you, would I?"
"And you? Never missing a chance to belittle me or mock my interests. Always butting heads with me and arguing over the pettiest things."
"Well, you're just as bad—"
"No, you are definitely worse—"
They broke off and started chuckling.
"Imagine if those ridiculous rumors had been right and we… somehow ended up together, that I ended up marrying you instead of Harry. Can you imagine it? A lifetime of arguments."
Ron had imagined it. Once, when he was extremely bored and the rumors had gotten to him, making him wonder if maybe he should like Hermione that way. He imagined being in love with a Hermione who would only think of him as her second choice, who would always put Harry as her first priority, who would look down at him even if she didn't mean to initially, and who would dismiss his opinions. Who he would snap at constantly, who he would purposely anger and ignore her hurt feelings in favour of feeling better about himself, who he would be in a constant battle of pointed barbs and sharp words.
The thought had disappeared as quickly as it had come. She deserved better than that kind of life.
And so did he.
"No offense, Hermione." Ron said, completely deadpan. "But I would rather die than marry you."
She smiled. "None taken."
"Oh, god. I need coffee." Harry groaned. "I can't believe that all this time I thought…Merlin, I'm an idiot."
Ron threw him a sympathetic glance. "At least you know."
He rubbed his forehead in irritation. "You have no idea how much it stings to hear that from you of all people."
Ron pretended to be offended. "Oh, yeah? Well, I haven't even listed all of your idiotic moments yet. Want me to list them? Do you? Do you?"
"Merlin, please don't."
"Let's start with that little moment during Bill and Fleur's wedding then, hmm? You think I didn't notice the way you looked at each other? With tears in your eyes, too! What a bunch of saps…."
"For fuck's sake, Ron. How do you remember all this shit?"
He snickered at Harry. "'She's like a sister.' Ring a bell?"
Harry buried his face in his hands while Hermione just looked confused.
"Oh, yeah. I can tell you two are real sibling-like. Very… familial. You've never even had a sister, how did you manage to say that with a straight face?"
"You were angry and had just been holding a sword!" Harry yelled, his face red with embarrassment and looking anywhere but at Hermione. "I was just trying to calm you down."
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" Hermione frowned.
Harry groaned again and Ron happily told her the tale.
What followed was Harry hurriedly trying to explain himself and Hermione dragging Harry off to a room somewhere.
By the time they returned, his hair was tousled in every single direction, his collar was loosened, and his glasses askew. Hermione looked very pleased with herself.
But then she turned her attention on him and Ron started to get a very, very bad feeling.
"I can understand why Harry would say something like that in the moment, even if it made no sense and he didn't mean what he was saying. But why did you see that image in the horcrux?"
"I—" Ron was at a loss for words, feeling as if something was lodged in his throat.
"Ron?" His best friend turned his head sideways to look at him, sincere concern on his face. Well, that was no surprise. Harry had always cared for him, hadn't he? Always put his feelings above his own. Always accepted him back no matter what he did. What had he done to deserve a friend like that?
"I was afraid." He admitted. "I fucked up. I know I did. I left you both when you needed me most and as soon as I left, I realized it was something I could never take back. I was afraid that I would come back and have no place next to you two. That you wouldn't need me. Or want me."
"I would never—" Harry started to protest, but Hermione put a hand on his shoulder.
"Let him finish," she said and Ron felt grateful in that moment. Even if he had never become as close to her as he was to Harry, he was grateful that she was in both of their lives.
"Look, I may not be as brilliant as you, Hermione. Or as brave as you, Harry. But I'm not an idiot. Maybe at one point I would have resented it, but we're not school children anymore—the war is over and things have changed. I've changed. And I've realized that there are things more important to me than my pride."
He didn't say anything, just looked at them, hoping for them to understand.
Harry was the one who embraced him first, firmly wrapping his arms around him, and Hermione soon followed after, sniffling rather loudly.
"Aww, Hermione. Don't cry."
"Shut up, Ronald! You came in here ranting about some stupid bet and screaming at us for half an hour. I will damn well cry if I want to!"
Ron raised an eyebrow. "You've got a fiery one there, mate."
Harry just chuckled.
"I love you both, you know." Ron finally said, hugging them back fiercely. "And I want you to be happy together."
"I know." Harry said. "I've always known."
"So for the menu, I thought we'd start out with something light for the appetizers—ow!" Hermione had nudged his ribs sharply. "Let go of me, you monster. I was just going to suggest a wedding date!"
They both let go of him and Ron strangely regretted ending the embrace so soon, but he soldiered forward.
"What do you think about September 1st? The day you two met. The day everything changed for the better."
"The day we all met," Hermione corrected him, but she was smiling. "It's not a bad idea. I'll think about it."
"And about the Chudley Cannons orange theme, it's honestly not that bad—"
Harry snorted and all three of them broke into laughter.
"So, how did it go?" George raised an eyebrow at him when Ron arrived at the joke shop later than usual that evening.
"The plan got a little… sidetracked. Pesky emotions and all that. At least it was cathartic to yell at them for a bit after everything they've put me through this past decade."
"Aww," George cooed, "did Ickle Ronniekins get sentimental?"
Ron gave his older brother the stink eye. "It just happened! I've been waiting for this moment for so long, I almost couldn't believe it was really happening."
"Just pulling your leg." He laughed and Ron was happy to see it. George didn't laugh much after the war.
"Well, the date is decided."
Both brothers grinned widely.
After it had become clear to the entirety of the Hogwarts staff and students involved in the betting pool that Harry and Hermione were going to get together one day, but not any day soon, they had decided to switch their bets to other more… predictable things. Who would propose first? Where would the wedding be? When would it be?
"We got all the major ones," Ron said smugly. "Finally going to get my hands on those sweet winnings. At this point, I don't care about the money. I just want to be right."
"Fred would have loved to see the bet coming to a close," George said wistfully.
"That he would have." Ron closed his eyes, remembering a younger version of him falling for the twins' excitement over the betting pool and wanting to join in the fun. "You never did tell me: was he the one who started the bet?"
"Fred? He wishes." George laughed again, his eyes shining. "We investigated it for years until we found out the truth. It was Dumbledore."
"Dumbledore?" He gaped.
"Doubt the other students knew, but our dear headmaster was always a busybody. Worse than Great Aunt Muriel when it comes to gossip."
"Oh, come on! Tell me more."
"Remember that time when Harry was being all awkward around Hermione in sixth year? Looks like even Dumbledore couldn't stand it because I overheard him saying..."
The joke shop soon filled with laughter.
Over at Grimmauld Place, Kreacher shook his head at the two sleeping people lying haphazardly over each other on the couch and went to pick up the wedding notes on the ground.
"September 1st!" He cackled. "Kreacher was right to suggest it to the redhead brat! Kreacher hopes they go with chocolate for the cake... oh, the shame if they don't... the traditions..."
Silly wizards. The house elves at Hogwarts had their own betting pool too.
~A/N~ The link to Hastyhand's illustration for this can be found on my profile.
Weasley bashing is so last decade. It's time to make Matchmaker!Ron the new trend.
This fic is pure indulgence from my part and not something I usually write, but I was in the mood to write something ridiculous at the time. I realized I haven't focused on Ron much before and I do love me some trio shenanigans, so voila…this was born. Hope you guys enjoyed it!