Chapter 17
Suspicions, Surprises and Sapphires

Author's Note: This chapter has almost nothing to do with the storyline. I blame that on writer's block. I wanted to end one little storyline in this chapter, and I couldn't figure out what else to do with it. So it is basically just Ron/Hermione filler and fluff, with a few

(Harry's PoV)

September 9th, 1998

Dear Harry,

Sorry I didn't write to you all weekend. Remember when you told me all those times that being a Seventh Year was extremely difficult – well, I thought you were joking with me. Now I know you aren't. I had three essays to write: Defense, Charms and Transfiguration. Yes, my second essay in Defense in three classes. Lucius must think it is torture for students. His classes have been extremely repetitive. We usually just take notes and listen to him drawl on about different things. We haven't even performed many spells at all, though he was hinting about doing so this week.

I saw in your previous letter that you mentioned seeing Draco with Astoria Greengrass on the map. He was doing a Patrol with her on Friday night and – get this – the following morning in the Great Hall I see him walking hand-in-hand with her! Of course when he saw me looking at them, he took his hand away from her. She looked rather angry too. It was hilarious. But I guess they're dating now. The best thing this means is I don't have to do any more patrols with him! I'm mostly doing them with Tessa now. Remember her? She lost her boyfriend in the battle? Yeah, she's still going through a tough time about that, but we talk about it sometimes.

Also I saw Draco sitting with the new Slytherin Quidditch team today. The try-outs were yesterday, so I'm thinking he got on the team. I bet he is Seeker again. Probably thinks he can catch the Snitch in the game against Gryffindor since you are no longer here. Speaking of... the Gryffindor try-outs are next Saturday. I really want Romilda to be the Seeker, because I've worked with her before. Yes, she needs some work. I've offered to help her practice a couple days before the try-outs which I think she's pretty happy about.

Is Ron still on his crutches? I'm starting to worry about that. The powder should be gone soon, right? Does he expect me to write to him or anything, like the good little sister I am? I suppose he thinks I could just pass messages from you to him. Tell him I'm thinking about him and hope his leg gets fixed soon.

How was your weekend with Teddy? Did he miss me? I'm sure he did. Did he have fun with Matthew? I wish I could have seen that. Those two are going to be really good friends, I can tell right now.

How is your NEWT studies going? Is Hermione giving you a hard time with it? If she is, give her a piece of my mind. I am sure you'll do brilliantly in December. Plus you'll have a bit of encouragement from me... ugh, I can't wait for December. I can't wait for October!

I miss you so much and I'll try to write more. But I'm sure I'm going to be busy again. Between homework, patrols and getting ready for the Quidditch try-outs and practices, I'm hardly finding time to myself. Makes me miss you even more.

I love you so much

Ginny

September 18th, 1998

Harry,

My sincerest apologies for not writing back sooner. Been very busy! As Ron says "same stuff, different day". More essays, notes, homework! Lucius still hasn't let us do anything with magic in Defense though. But other classes are fun. We got to play with a pack of Crups yesterday in Care of Magical Creatures. Oh my gosh, they are so cute. Hagrid hinted that we might be taking care of them for the next couple of weeks. I hope so. There is one that is really attached to me. He is so adorable. If I could name him, I'd name him after you. Because he's just as cute as you.

Remember how I said I was going to practice with Romilda? That was brilliant thinking on my part! I helped her train for an hour three nights last week. She's really improving and she did great in the try-outs. Though it did help that the only other Seeker who tried out didn't have a very fast broom. I'm still going to have to work with her, but I can't wait to see how she does against Draco. I like my team, but it feels so weird. Besides Romilda and I, absolutely everyone else is a new face. Dennis Creevey didn't even try out for Beater this year, even though he did good last year. I think he's still trying to get over the death of his brother. We had our first practice last night. Pretty good too, though one of the Chasers is rather arrogant. Just great...

Anyway... whenever I really miss you, I go to our secret places on the grounds and try to think about all the times we spent together and how much fun we had.. Well, I went to our spot near the lake – you know the one, where the Giant Squid always comes to visit us? I was planning on writing my letter there. Well, I was going there, and I found Draco and Astoria there snogging. Okay, you'll probably think I'm weird for saying this about Draco – it is really cute that Astoria is with him. He needs someone like her to calm him down. But catching them snogging like that – well, I wish I could Obliviate myself (don't tell Ron that!). I think Astoria saw me too! For some reason, I don't think she likes me. I hope she doesn't think I fancy Draco or something because I don't. She's mental to think that.

So now I am sitting against the oak tree we love near the edge of the Forbidden Forest and writing this. And it just makes me think of you. I'm sure when you come in December, the grounds will be covered in snow and we won't get to spend any time out here. But we have my Head Girl room, so I'm not too upset about that.

Also... let me get this straight. You mentioned something about Ron wanting to get his leg fixed, and he's come up with this mental plan? He's going to St. Mungo's tonight, the night before Hermione's birthday, in hopes that his leg can be mended and he can surprise her tomorrow? So he's doing this without her knowledge? Yeah, I wish him the best of luck. If his leg is ready to be mended, he's going to be away from Hermione and you and Matthew for the whole night, and that would only worry Hermione. What did he tell her he's going to do? I know he's a good strategist, but this is just mental! Please tell me how that goes, okay? Don't let Hermione go too mental missing him. She's liable to do something really crazy.

Tell her I wish her a great birthday and I wish I could be there to celebrate with her... and be there with you. Okay, that just makes me miss you more. Only a month and a couple weeks until October.

Say hi to Matty for me! Has he said any more words yet?

Love you more than you know.

Kisses,
Ginny

It was the evening before Hermione's birthday, and Harry was currently in the living room bored out of his mind. Whenever he was bored like this, he would either stare at the Marauder's Map or read the letters from Ginny.

He had just finished up her latest letter and he chuckled as his eyes fell over the word "kisses". He could just imagine her kissing the piece of parchment, though there was no tell-tale signs of lipstick. Perhaps she hadn't been wearing any today. She hardly wore lipstick unless she was around him, because she knew he loved it, and loved tasting it when he kissed her.

The sound of Matthew cooing broke Harry from his thoughts. He was crawling around his play-pen in the living room and Harry grinned as he looked at him. Matthew had been actively crawling a lot lately, and many times he'd be crawling around the house. Harry remembered one memorable time a few days ago when Matthew tried to crawl after Crookshanks. So Hermione had bought this play-pen for him, and he would spend a lot of the time in it during the day.

Harry heard a growl come from the kitchen, and turned around to see Hermione walking into the room with a piece of parchment in her hand.

"Did you know about this?" she asked, waving the parchment around.

"About... what?" Harry asked.

"Ron says he and George are doing some scouting for possible future locations for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes," Hermione said, "He isn't going to be home tonight... at all!"

Harry tried to keep a straight face. This was the best Ron could come up with? He saw some big flaws in this plan, and he knew Hermione would probably list them all before he could.

"He's doing this with a bum leg?" Hermione asked, "I bet this is all George's fault. Ron is on crutches still! I'm going to write to Angelina and tell her to lecture George! He could have brought her along instead of Ron."

Harry's sighed. There was the biggest flaw. If Hermione wrote to Angelina – well – he knew what would happen. What if Ron hadn't told George or Angelina his plan to surprise Hermione, and George wrote back instead of Angelina?

"Or... you could just wait and yell at them tomorrow?" Harry asked, "Or – the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow's your birthday, Hermione."

"Exactly!" Hermione said, "My birthday! I wanted Ron to be with me when I wake up tomorrow, and now – this! He couldn't do it on Friday?"

"Sissy!" Matthew said.

"Calm down, Hermione," Harry said, "You're scaring Matty, I think."

"Oh, I'm sorry Matty," Hermione said, with a sigh.

She walked over to Matthew and gently picked him up into her arms.

"I was yelling, wasn't I?" Hermione asked him.

Matthew nodded.

"Sissy's sorry," Hermione said, "I'm just a bit upset. Nothing's wrong. And yet -"

"Well," Harry said, " Did Ron tell you anything about this before today?"

"No," Hermione said, "Nothing."

"Maybe George only asked him today," Harry said, "A last minute thing. Ron wouldn't pass something like that up, especially since he wanted the day off tomorrow for your birthday. There's some good things out of this, I think."

"Like what?" Hermione asked.

"You'll miss him so much tonight that tomorrow will be even better," Harry said.

"Tomorrow will be great either way," Hermione said, "But... I don't know. His letter is making me think things I don't want to think."

"Such as?" Harry asked.

"Ron said he's probably going to be working on this really late," Hermione said, "and he doesn't want to come home that late, so he wants to stay at the flat above the shop tonight. Harry – I – oh, nevermind."

"What, Hermione?" Harry asked.

"Well – this surprise letter," Hermione said, "Scouting locations when there hasn't been been any mention about it in months. Wanting to stay at the shop tonight instead of coming home. What if – I – oh, Harry, do you think he's cheating on me?"

"What?" Harry asked, laughing, "No! Hermione, no. Definitely not. Why would you think that? He loves you."

"I know he does," Hermione said, "But – he's been so quiet about things lately. I'm worried about him – about his injured leg. I want him to heal so badly, and every time I bring it up, he avoids the conversation."

"So because he's avoiding conversation about his leg," Harry said, "He's cheating on you?"

A smirk crossed Hermione's face. "That's mental... right?"

"Completely," Harry said, "Look... George is his brother. This is something Fred was wanting to do, right? Expand the shop?"

"Yeah," Hermione said.

"So of course Ron would want to do that in his brother's stead," Harry said.

"Yeah, I know," Hermione said, "Ugh, part of me wants to go to the shop and give him a piece of my mind. I'm just upset."

"I'm sure he'll make it up to you tomorrow," Harry said, grinning, "In fact – I planned on going over to Andromeda's house tomorrow and spending time with Teddy, so you can have the whole day to yourself, Ron and Matthew."

"Harry, if you're doing that for me," Hermione said, "You don't have to. I want you here to celebrate my birthday."

"I can make that up to you," Harry said, "Have you started on dinner?"

"I was going to soon," Hermione said, "I was making Matty's dinner."

"Then let me make something instead," Harry said. "My treat tonight. Early birthday present."

"Hmm," Hermione said, "What do you think, Matty? Should I let Harry cook dinner?"

"Harry!" Matthew said.

Harry grinned. "He said my name! Finally!"

"Good job, Matty," Hermione said, "Why did Ron have to miss that? Ugh... I'm giving him a piece of my mind tomorrow."

"Is that all you're giving him?" Harry asked.

"Shut up, Harry," Hermione growled.

Harry heard Hermione chuckle as she walked into the kitchen with Matthew.

When Harry walked out of the guest bedroom the following morning, he heard Matthew cooing in his crib in the nursery. He couldn't hear the tell-tale footsteps of Hermione walking around and he guessed she was still asleep. He walked over to the nursery, and heard Matthew saying "Won! Won!"

"Sorry, Matthew," Harry said, as he opened the door, "It's just -"

He stopped in his tracks when he saw Ron standing there, holding Matthew in his arms.

"Morning, Harry," Ron said, grinning.

"You're... standing," Harry said.

"Yep," Ron said, "Went in to St. Mungo's last night and I passed my urine test, so I stayed the night and had some really disgusting potions. I asked the Healer if I could leave at an early time today. So they woke me up about a couple hours ago, and we did some tests, seeing if I could walk. I can walk but –"

Ron motioned to a cane hanging off the crib.

"I have to use that for a few days or so," Ron said, "Just to make sure."

"Does Hermione know you're here?" Harry asked.

"I think she's still asleep," Ron said, shaking his head, "I was heading that way and then I heard Matthew in here."

"She's kind of mad at you," Harry said, grinning.

"I'm sure she'll get over it when she sees me without crutches and a cast," Ron said.

"I don't know," Harry said, with a smirk, "She asked me if I thought you were cheating on her."

"What?" Ron asked, "I would never –!"

"I know that," Harry said, "And so does she – but you have to admit. It was kind of a mental excuse you pulled on her. She could have sent a letter to Angelina, or she could have easily gone to the shop to check on you."

"I'll make it up to her," Ron said, "Can you watch Matty for a little while."

"How long?" Harry asked, with a smirk.

"Er – not sure," Ron said, chuckling.

"I'm going over to Andromeda's house later," Harry said, "But sure, I'll give Matthew his bath and feed him."

"Thanks, mate," Ron said, "Want to see Harry, Matty?"

"Harry!" Matthew said.

Ron raised his eyebrows and looked from Matthew to Harry.

"He started that last night," Harry said, "Right in front of me and Hermione."

"And I missed it," Ron said, "And Hermione was probably – yeah, I really need to make it up to her."

Harry grinned and gently took Matthew from Ron.

"Have fun, mate," he said.

"Thanks," Ron said, chuckling as he walked out of the nursery.

-
(Hermione's PoV)

At first Hermione thought she was having a really good dream when she felt Ron's lips caress hers. She blinked her eyes open and looked up through blurry eyes. Ron was standing above her. She raised her eyebrows and looked at him.

"I'm dreaming," Hermione said, "The Ron Weasley I currently know can't be standing without crutches and he can't possibly be here because he is scouting locations and -"

She stopped when she felt his lips on hers again. She returned the kiss and held his face in her hands, deepening the kiss. She then backed away and propped herself on her elbows as she looked at him.

"Where are your crutches?" Hermione asked, her eyes traveling from his arms to his leg, "And your cast?"

"I have a confession to make, Hermione," Ron said, "I lied to you last night. I was not scouting locations – George hasn't even decided yet if we're going to do that. I was at St. Mungo's while numerous disgusting potions healed my leg."

Hermione's mouth opened and closed like a fish as she looked at him.

"You're healed?" Hermione asked.

Ron nodded and motioned across the bed. A wooden walking stick was leaning up against the dresser near the door.

"I have to use that for a couple of days," Ron said, "And -"

"You lied to me?" Hermione asked.

"A white lie," Ron said, "I-I wanted to surprise you for your birthday. I've been doing urine tests of my own the past few days and I've seen no black specks, and it was confirmed last night. I wanted to surprise you with the fact I can walk again by myself and -"

Hermione grabbed Ron's hand and pulled him toward her on the bed. He chuckled and and she kissed him, then laid him flat against the bed and straddled his stomach, deepening the kiss, and rubbing her tongue against his lips. When he opened his lips, she backed away and looked at him.

"Don't ever do that to me again, Ronald Weasley," Hermione said, "I thought – I – well -"

"You thought I was cheating on you?" Ron asked.

Hermione gasped and looked at him.

"Harry told me," Ron said, "He found me in the nursery with Matthew."

"Oh, shoot, Matty," Hermione said, looking at the door.

Ron gently took Hermione's hand and she looked at him.

"Harry's bathing him and feeding him," he said, "He knows you'd probably be occupied."

Hermione grinned and kissed him again. Ron pouted against her lips and she backed up looking at him.

"Did you really think I was cheating on you?" he asked.

"I'm sorry," Hermione said, "I shouldn't have – it was stupid. I was just upset with you, because I've been so used to you sleeping next to me every night, and when the thought crossed my mind that you wouldn't be here, I -"

"I'd never do that to you, Hermione," Ron said, "I love you – so bloody much. I always have and I always will."

Hermione smiled.

"I love you too," Hermione said, "I'm sorry. I -"

Ron put a finger to her lips and she kissed it.

"It is my fault," Ron said, "I should have just told you."

"No, I like this surprise," Hermione said.

She turned slightly and put her hand over Ron's now-healed leg. She caressed her fingers along it and looked back at Ron.

"Not tender or anything?" she asked.

"Nope," Ron said, "All healed."

"Prove it," Hermione said, grinning.

Ron raised his eyebrows questioningly. A grin then crossed his face, and in one fluid motion, he rolled Hermione onto the bed and she chuckled as she looked up at him.

"I missed that so much," she said.

"Not me," Ron said, "I was beginning to really like you on top of me."

Hermione rolled her eyes and blushed. He leaned toward her and kissed her softly.

"Happy Birthday, Hermione," he murmured against her lips.

"Best birthday present ever," she said.

"Oh?" Ron asked.

"Mmhmm," Hermione said, kissing his lips.

He backed away and sat up against her. He put his hand in the pocket of his jeans and took out a small box.

"Then I guess I won't give you this," Ron said.

Hermione pouted and Ron chuckled as he opened the box. Hermione's eyes sparkled as she saw sapphire ear-rings inside.

"My birthstone," Hermione said.

"I kind of stole the idea from Ginny," Ron said, "Don't think she'll mind. You like them?"

"I love them," Hermione said, "But – I think I'll put them on later."

Ron raised his eyebrows and she pulled him against her lips. He grinned and she brushed her tongue against her lips. He returned the kiss, and caressed her lips with his tongue until she felt them go numb against his touch. She allowed him to push his tongue on through them, and she rubbed his tongue against hers, massaging it, loving the taste. She could feel the passion in his kiss, something she had missed for so long owing to the awkwardness his leg injury had made their intimacy change. But she could tell he was back to his normal self.

He nibbled on her bottom lip, then moved his lips against her jaw-line and she moaned softly as he moved them slowly up to her ear. She chuckled as he blew in her ear, then gasped when he nibbled softly on her earlobe.

"One moment," Hermione said, "Almost forgot..."

She took her wand from the nightstand and pointed it at the door, sealing it with a charm and setting the Muffliato Charms.

"How long did you say we had?" Hermione asked, looking back at Ron.

"Mmm," Ron said, "I imagine Harry will be watching Matthew and his Marauder's map for the next couple of hours."

"Plenty of time," Hermione said.

Ron snickered and leaned toward her and kissed her again.

Ugh, I really hate writer's block. My main focus on this chapter was Ron's surprise (his leg getting healed) for Hermione's birthday, and nothing much else. So I completely blanked out on what else to do with Hermione's birthday in the chapter. I might try to figure out how to describe it in a letter to Ginny.

Going to do some more time-skips soon. I liked how I did that with Ginny's letters in this chapter so I might do that again. Not sure when the next chapter will go up. Need to do some more notes and plan out the next few chapters.

Hope you liked the chapter anyway!