The next day the two of us—Harry didn't want to come; you'd think this would signal Ginny to just back off, but my sister is as stubborn as what—stood outside a tall building in the middle of New York. It was a highly modern, polished place with a doorman and all the bells and whistles.
I was glad that Hermione had taken me into New York at least once, because now I didn't feel like a complete idiot among all these muggle things. Still, I felt like a tourist, but not a wizard tourist. Not like Dad.
Before leaving this morning I had thought hard about what I would say when I met this first boyfriend. Blake Thornley. I wondered what he did for a living and how things had gone between him and Hermione. It would be really awkward if things ended badly between them, and that was one part I wasn't looking forward to.
I'd inspected the parcel almost all night, trying to figure out what was inside. It was a long, flat box, about the size of a piece of paper. Was it a book? Knowing Hermione, that's what I would have guessed. But the box was much too light to have a book in it.
Ginny had suggested a drawing. Maybe Thornley was an artist, and he had given Hermione a painting.
Very possible, I supposed, but something didn't feel right about that. At around one o'clock I had given up and gathered the parcel along with its neighbors and the wooden box and went back to our flat.
That morning I had met Ginny at the Burrow, and with a solemn "good morning" and "good bye" from Harry, we apparated into New York and eventually navigated our way to Blake Thornley's apartment.
We walked into the lobby and a man was standing behind the front desk, typing furiously on a white… oh, what are they called… laptop. A white laptop. "Yes?" he said as Ginny and I approached the desk, gently closing the screen.
"We're looking for a fellow by the name of Blake Thornley," Ginny said. "In which suite would he might be in?"
My sister could be polite and charming when she wanted to be; too bad she wasn't always so friendly with me.
"And what business would you have with Mr. Thornley?"
"We have something to give him. A gift from an old friend of his, recently deceased." She held up the box for him to see.
Deceased? I almost said. Since when does Ginny say words like deceased?
The man nodded seriously. "Of course." He took out a…er… laminated slip of paper from the drawer of his desk.
"Thornley…" the man said as he ran his finger down the list. "Ah, yes, Blake Thornley. Suite 49, on the fourth floor. At the end of the hall, miss."
"Thank you," I said and followed Ginny as she headed towards a row of lifts.
"These are so different from the lifts at the ministry," Ginny commented as I pressed the button near the doors. Very true. They were a lot less rickety, and they looked a lot newer. The ministry was the only building in Wizarding Britain to have lifts, anyway, so it made sense that they were so decrepit compared to these. The door opened and we got inside.
"Look Ron," Ginny said. I followed her gaze. She was looking at a little black screen with the number 2 glowing in red, which slowly changed to 3.
"Yeah," I said. "They count how many floors you're going up."
"Brilliant," she said softly.
With a quiet ding the doors opened to the fourth floor and we stepped out. The first door was to our left, with a 41 tacked on in silver numbers. The hall was a straight line and at the other end was a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the city streets below.
"Fancy, this place is," Ginny commented. I nodded my agreement.
We walked to the end of the hall and stood before a door on the left with the number 49 on it.
"Ready?" I said, my index finger poised over the buzzer.
I sighed and pressed down.
For a minute I thought there was no one home. How awkward that would have been, to come here with so much drama building, and not have him be home.
But the door eventually opened after a few seconds, revealing a young man maybe a year or two older than me, with pale blond hair and a narrow face. He reminded me of Malfoy, a bit, except that his hair was much longer—tied back in a ponytail, like Bill's—and his features were not as pointy or unfriendly.
"Yes? How may I help you?" he said with an American accent. I wondered how Hermione met him, because obviously he wasn't born British. I noticed he was about a half-head shorter than me; probably two or three inches taller than Hermione was.
I didn't answer right away; too busy with my inspection. So Hermione used to go out with this guy.
Ginny elbowed me.
"Oh, yes. Hello. Are you Blake Thornley?"
"Er… I'm Ron Weasley, and this is my sister, Ginny. We're… we're friends of Hermione's. Hermione Granger."
I decided to leave out the part that I was her husband for now. First let's get into the flat, I thought.
"Oh," he said. "Wow. I haven't seen Hermione in… well… more than ten years now. Wow," he repeated. "How is she doing?"
"Er…" I couldn't seem to get the words out. I could feel my eyes heat up, and water collect behind them. I took a deep breath.
"She—she passed away," Ginny said for me. "About a week ago."
"Oh," Blake said, his face drooping. There was a slight pause. "Would you like to come in?"
"Thank you," Ginny and I said as he stepped back and we stepped forward.
The flat was large and spacious, obviously expensive. The furnishings were not, though; the living room was made up of a few bookshelves lining the walls, a sofa, a chair, a coffee table, and a huge grand piano. A guitar, a violin, a bass, and three other cases that I assumed held instruments leaned against the walls or against stands. The coffee table was covered with piles and piles of music books and sheet music, some printed on with music and other with notes scrawled in. Hermione told me just enough about music for me to see that this bloke was a good composer.
"Sit down," Blake said, gesturing to the couch. "Would you like something to drink?"
"A water would be nice," Ginny said.
"No thanks," I said.
He came over with a glass and handed it to Ginny, then sat down on the chair opposite the couch.
Blake cleared his throat. "How… How did she die?" he said after we'd settled down.
"Something called cancer," Ginny said.
I elbowed her. For muggles, cancer was a pretty common disease. How could she have let that one slip?
Blake looked confused for a second, but the expression passed. "I'm very sorry to hear that. Hermione and I were very good friends." Ginny and I glanced at each other. According to Hermione they had been more than just "good friends". "I'd lost contact with her about eight years ago."
"She left something for you," Ginny said, pulling out the box from her bag. "After she died. She said that you gave it to her. And she wanted you to have it back after she was gone."
She handed the box to Blake who stared at it for an instant before saying, "Do you know what's inside?"
"She… she told us that she didn't want us to open it," I sort of lied. It was true-she didn't want us to open it. But she never really told us that. What really happened was that Hermione put a spell on it so only Blake could open it. I had thought about opening it and slowly reached my hands for the box the night before, but before I could even touch it my hand was thrown back by some sort of force field. Fifteen minutes passed before the box let me touch it again, and I didn't try to open it.
I wasn't sure how much Hermione had told Blake, and I figured it was safer to lie than to give anything away about the whole magic thing.
When Blake didn't move to open the parcel, I took the opportunity to ask, "How close exactly were you and Hermione? Did she tell you anything… strange?"
Blake shook his head. "Hermione was a very extraordinary girl, but not strange."
There. That settled it. Blake definitely didn't know anything about Hermione being a witch.
"As for how close we were… well, for a while we went out. For a summer when we were much, much younger. Actually…" Blake's face turned a pale shade of pink. "She was my first kiss."
I wanted so badly to be able to say, "Mine too." But she wasn't. And I regretted it so much now. If only I hadn't fooled around with Lavender… I would have been able to say "Hermione Granger was my first kiss." That would've been brilliant.
But I was an idiot and a git back then, and I paid for it now.
"Would you like to see what's inside, too?" Blake asked, interrupting my train of thought.
"That would be nice," Ginny said.
He pulled the paper wrapping off the box slowly, delicately, and opened the box.
He looked down at the contents of the box and took a deep breath.
He wiped at his eyes.
"I can't believe she kept this," he whispered to himself.
I almost craned my neck to see inside the box, but decided that would have been rude.
"It's… It's a song. It's a song I wrote for her." He held up a little booklet with a dark blue cover and the word TWILIGHT written in all capitals in silver ink. It was tied together with a gold string. "She was thirteen, and I was fourteen when I gave it to her. I was staying the summer with my grandmother, who lived in the same neighborhood as she did. I wrote this piece for her before she went back to her boarding school; she said she wouldn't be able to write, and the school didn't allow cell phones."
Very true. Hermione told me that muggle electricity didn't work well in the castle because of the amount of magic, and it would have been hard to explain why an owl was delivering their letters.
Blake stared at the booklet. "Would you like to hear it?" he asked.
"Yes," Ginny said.
"If you don't mind," I added.
He stood up and walked over to the piano, sitting down at the keys. He placed the booklet on the top of the piano and gave a shaky laugh. "I still remember how to play it by heart. How crazy is that?"
I just smiled sadly in response.
He set his fingers on the keys, and began playing.
It started with a simple melody, arpeggios—I think that's what their called—climbing up and down the first half of the keys at a slow, simple pace. Then, notes in the lower half were added, gradually making their way down towards the last octave.
It was a beautiful song, so very Hermione; simple, beautiful, deep, powerful and yet delicate at the same time.
As he played, I reached up and plucked the booklet off the piano. And to my surprise, I was thrown into a... a memory, I gussed. Hermione must have charmed the booklet, knowing I would want to hold it and see it up close.
It felt like jumping into a pensieve, based on what Harry had told me about his experiences with them. I could see everything and everyone around me, but they couldn't see me.
A very young Hermione—thirteen years old—and a blonde boy I guessed was Blake were walking into a room, holding hands. The fact didn't bother me as much as it would have when we were at Hogwarts; I guess it was a comfort to know that she had picked me, and no one else. I'd stopped being jealous as soon as she said "I do".
Sunlight dropped through the windows and onto a black grand piano quite like the one Blake was playing back in reality.
"I want to show you something," he said, sitting down on the piano bench. "Well, maybe not show you something. More like play you something."
Hermione grinned. I remembered; this was before she'd gotten her teeth fixed. "All right." She sat down on the piano next to him.
Blake's fingers stood poised over the keys and then he began playing. Twilight. The song that I was just listening to a minute ago. Only it sounded much better. Much… fresher. Like he had just finished writing it hours before. I was glad that I was getting to listen to it again. Like I said, it was very Hermione.
She closed her eyes and swayed to the music. I started swaying, too. The song filled me with happy memories of Hermione; I think that was her intention when she charmed the book with this memory.
Twilight finished with a slow, smooth high note.
"That was beautiful," Hermione murmured.
Yes, it was.
Blake bent over towards a small basket filled with music books next to the piano, plucking the booklet from inside and giving it to Hermione. The booklet he had pulled from the box a few minutes ago. "Here it is. All four pages of it."
"Really?" Hermione said. She took the booklet. "Thank you."
Blacke took a deep breath. "Hermione… I-I… I just wanted to say I'm going to miss you. A lot. I wish you didn't have to go to that school."
"I'm sorry, Blake," she replied, looking down at the booklet. "But I don't really have an option. I mean, it's not like I have to go… but my friends. They need me a lot there."
I cracked a smile. Yeah, we did. I always needed her.
"Well… I guess this is it then."
"This was more than just a summer fling to me, you know. This was something special."
"I couldn't agree more."
And then the memory ended, and I was thrust back into reality—a horrible place where Hermione was gone.
I know. It's been a treacherous amount of time since I last posted. I got a horrible case of writer's block and then had loads of schoolwork... but this chapter is here now, and I hope you'll forgive me. However, I'm sorry to say I can't make any promises that my updating will get any better. I've got final exams coming up, and then I'll be off to China for two weeks up until the beginning of July. I'll try to get another chapter in on at least one of my stories sometime until then, though.
I'm so glad that I've gotten so many reviews on this story, both good, bad, or in the middle. I like getting mixed feedback. I was half worried and half hoping this story was going to be a bit controversial, what with the plot line and and me being a Dramione fan. But honestly, if you ever thought I was going to disrespect these characters in some of the ways a few reviewers have described, then you must think extremely poorly of me. Also, I can take criticism as well as anyone, but some criticism was presented in an utterly cruel way, especially considering I'd only posted the first chapter.
However, for those who want to know one of Hermione's boyfriends was intended to be Draco, though she would never cheat on Ron. For one, that would be extremely out of character for Hermione-Yes, I know, even the idea of Draco/Hermione is stretching it, too-and also, I would never write something that terrible happening to Ron. A character cheating on another is something that will never happen in my stories.
Sigh. Glad I got that off my chest. It's been bugging me for a bit. But I'm stepping off my soapbox now and apologizing to anyone who had to suffer through that rant-thinger when they've been perfectly friendly, or whose eyes accidentally stumbled on the spoiler when they didn't want to know what would happen .
Anyway, I'm going to finish this extremely long author's note now and ask that you review. Like with most authors, criticism is always welcome, though please don't flame or say anything mean. Thanks to all of those wonderful people who have given me honest, kind reviews, if not positive ones.