It’s the private moments that she spends with her children that help shape their lives, as well as hers. It’s also her being selfish in that she wants to enjoy these times before they get older and lose interest in spending time with a parent. There will be friends and sports and many other things that eventually fill their lives. She’s not foolish enough to think otherwise. She just hopes they’re happy, because she’ll be willing to accept that they’ve grown up so long as they are.
When they get home with their groceries, Hugo helps her put things away. He’s still talking about Dil and the preserve, and even asks if Flourish & Blotts would have books on the creatures he saw. Once she moves past her delight, and slight astonishment, at him willingly suggesting they go to the bookstore, she tells him it’s very likely they have an entire section. With his eyes wide, he listens to her tell him about Hogwarts and various topics covered in Care of Magical Creatures while they finish putting away groceries.
“I think Dil explains things better than Hagrid,” he says during a lull in conversation. “I can’t understand him too well.”
“Well, Hagrid is a good professor, even if he is unique.”
“Wish Dil taught that class. It would be brilliant.” He grins. “I need to write him today, to thank him for showing us around. I can send him one of those cards you make us send out after birthdays and Christmas. Can send Teddy one, too, cause it was his idea.”
“I think that’s a lovely idea.”
Before Hugo can reply, they hear the Floo activate. They aren’t expecting anyone, which makes her reach for her wand. Their Floo isn’t open to just anyone, so it’s likely to be family, their significant others or a close friend, but one can never be too safe. Hugo rushes ahead of her but she catches him before he can enter the sitting room. She glares slightly and shakes her head before she proceeds into the room ahead of him.
Ron is standing by the fireplace dusting soot off his clothes. Beside him is his girlfriend. It's still a little odd to have her ex-husband's girlfriend in the house, but it happened gradually, and it was only recently that Demelza was given access to enter through the Floo, which was actually Hermione's idea. Mel is a tall blonde that she can still remember tutoring in Transfiguration during her third year. However, when she acted as tutor, the girl was a scrawny first year who looked up to her as an older student. Now, Hermione’s the one who has to look up to Demelza, literally. Fortunately, they've become casual friends over the months, so these visits aren't uncomfortable.
“Daddy!” Hugo moves past her and hesitates when he reaches Ron, obviously trying to decide if he wants a hug or not.
“If you don’t hug me, I fear I’ll start to cry. You don’t want me to cry in front of Mel, do you?” Ron asks.
Mel snorts and rolls her eyes. “I think you ruined your macho image when you shed tears after the Cannons lost their chance at going to the World Cup last season, Weasley.”
“Nah, I just had something in my eye then,” Ron says with a smirk. He picks up Hugo without difficulty, which annoys Hermione because he’s far too tall and heavy for her to pick up anymore.
“Good afternoon, Hermione,” Mel says, stepping forward to hold out her hand. “I hope this isn’t a bad time. I suggested that we owl, but he seems to be suffering from a hearing problem in his old age.”
“Oh, it’s fine. It’s nice to see you, Mel, even if it is an unexpected visit.” She shakes Mel’s hand and looks at Ron curiously.
Since their divorce, he makes an effort not to drop by unannounced or make things uncomfortable by forgetting he no longer calls this house home. Since starting to date Demelza, he’s been even better about letting her know when he’s coming over, since he often has Mel with him on his days off. Despite an initial reaction that could certainly be classified as ‘poor’ when she found out Ron had moved on and was interested in someone else, she adjusted and has tried to be friendly with Mel, even if it's unlikely they'll ever be the best of friends.
“We just got back from having lunch out,” Hugo says. “It wasn‘t as good as the roast we had last night, but I had a cheeseburger and chips. Then we went to the supermarket, and Mum let me push the trolley.”
“You had roast last night?” Ron asks, arching a brow as he looks at Hermione. “You made roast on a Saturday?”
“Nah, she didn’t make it. Lara from the preserve made it, and it was so good. Dil says maybe she can make it again when we take Rose to visit.” Hugo lowers his voice. “I asked if we could take Rose cause she’d like it.”
“We spent yesterday at a magical creature preserve in Wales,” Hermione explains when she sees Ron looking confused. “Lara is the name of the woman who was cooking in the dining hall.”
“Ah. I understand. And this Dil character?”
“Dil’s Teddy’s friend. He works there and knows Uncle Charlie and rides dragons!”
“Sounds like fun,” Mel says with a grin. “Riding dragons probably isn’t much different than riding a broom.”
“Teddy’s friend who knows Charlie?” Ron asks. He looks at Hermione and frowns. “Friend or just friend?”
“Teddy’s just friend, though I’m not entirely sure about Charlie.”
Ron snorts. “Knowing Charlie, I can guess.”
“Isn’t like riding a broom, cause a dragon is huge and it moves and turns and twists all over,” Hugo says, thankfully focused on Mel enough that he doesn't seem to hear them discuss Charlie in such a way.
“I could ride one,” Mel says confidently. She looks like she’s about to say anything else before she closes her mouth and shifts in that way Hermione recognizes as ‘how do I talk to a kid’. That reaction isn’t nearly as common now as it was when Mel first started being around Hugo, but it still appears occasionally.
“Maybe,” Hugo decides. “Just cause you played Quidditch doesn’t mean you can ride a dragon, though.”
“Fair enough.” Mel laughs and shakes her head. “Guess a broom isn’t much like a dragon, anyway.”
Hugo nods. “Nope,” he agrees. After a minute, he smiles. “You could probably ride a dragon good, though.”
“Would you two like something to drink?” Hermione asks. “I can make tea, or there’s juice.”
“Nah, I’m good. We’re not staying that long. Tried Floo calling you yesterday, but you were out every time I did. Guess you were busy at that preserve place.”
“Hugo, would you go get me a glass of juice?” she asks when Ron bites his lip and glances at Hugo.
“Mum, I know that means you just want me to leave so you can talk to Daddy,” he points out before rolling his eyes and going down the hall to the kitchen.
“He’s becoming such a smart arse,” Ron says. His tone is proud, which makes her purse her lips.
“Yes. He gets that from your side of the family, obviously.” She walks over to sit on the sofa and waits until Mel and Ron sit before she asks, “Now, what didn’t you want to say in front of him?”
“It’s not that I didn’t want to say it. I just hadn’t had a chance to talk to you about it, so I don’t want Hugo to know unless you say yes,” Ron points out.
“That’s very considerate, Ronald. What is it you wanted to ask?”
“Don’t call me Ronald,” Ron whines.
“Actually, I’m the one who wanted to ask,” Mel speaks up, interrupting Ron‘s muttering. “I managed to get an invite to this informal match that some of the team is having this evening, and I thought Hugo might enjoy it. There’s going to be dinner and other kids there, too.”
“Cannons against Falcons,” Ron adds. “All in good fun, since it’s the off-season and all.”
“You could come, too, but I know you’re not that fond of Quidditch,” Mel says. It’s a discussion they’ve had before since Hermione respects her decision to quit playing and become a team healer when many others can’t understand making such a choice at the height of a pro career.
“I’ll bring him home by his bedtime,” Ron promises. “Work tomorrow, after all, so I’ll have to be sure to get my beauty sleep.”
“Are there enough hours in the day for that?” Mel asks, grinning when Ron rolls his eyes at her.
Hermione’s relieved that the awkward stab of something that accompanied their teasing when she was first around them has faded over time. While their divorce was amicable and they both knew it wasn’t working anymore, it still hurt when he found someone else, especially someone so unlike her.
For a few weeks after she met Mel, she dwelled on her insecurities and doubts before she finally shook it off and realized she was being silly. Now, there’s an occasional pang, mostly because Ron’s been part of her life since she was eleven, but she likes Mel quite a lot, more than she ever expected, and she’s glad Ron’s happy. She’s happy, too, even before she started a relationship with Teddy, though the latter certainly helped ease the loneliness she was feeling.
“So, what do you say?”
Ron’s question pulls her from her thoughts. She ducks her head and refocuses before she looks up and smiles. “If Hugo wants to go, I don’t see a problem with it. If nothing else, he’ll have more to brag to Rose about, which seems to have become one of his goals since she went to school.”
“I want to go!” Hugo peers around the wall where he’s obviously been eavesdropping. When she arches her brow, he quickly says, “I was just walking back into the room. See? I have your juice, Mum! I wasn’t listening.”
“Hugo Edward Weasley, do you think I’ll be more upset if you eavesdrop or you lie?” she asks.
“If I lie,” he mutters. He sighs and looks up at her. “I was listening but only cause you were still talking when I got back with the juice and I didn’t wanna interrupt cause you say that’s rude.”
“It is rude, but so is listening to a conversation that you shouldn’t,” Ron says as he stands up. “Let’s get upstairs and get your shoes so we can go. We’ll be right back.”
They head upstairs, leaving her and Mel in the sitting room. She looks at Mel and smiles. “You really don’t need to be that nervous, you know? You’re doing well.”
Mel laughs. “Is it that bloody obvious? God, I can face a half dozen brawny men flying towards me, but I can’t handle a little kid.”
“Not too obvious, but I’m observant. I haven‘t said anything before because you needed time to adjust,” she says. “And children are scary, even for us parents.”
“If I can be completely honest,” Mel says, running her fingers through her short blonde hair, “Rose is the one who scares me the most, and she’s coming home soon.”
“Three weeks.” Hermione smiles, eager to have her home again. “Rose isn’t that scary. Just a little.”
“Way to make me feel better,” Mel groans. “I don’t know how to deal with girls. I’ve always been a tomboy, and that hasn’t changed too much, even if I am older.”
“You get along well enough with me,” she points out.
“Yeah, but you’re not like most women.” Mel cringes and sighs. “That’s not how I meant it to sound.”
“I consider it a compliment. Besides, Rose takes after me in a lot of ways, which means you shouldn’t be scared. If anything, her love of Quidditch will provide a good opportunity for bonding.”
“Who is bonding?” Ron asks as he enters the room. He’s carrying Hugo over his shoulder and grinning.
“Put me down, Dad,” Hugo says, wiggling until Ron sets him down. “That was unnecessary!”
Hermione bites her lip to keep from laughing and watches as Ron attempts to look chastised. Hugo walks over to her and gives her a hug. “Have fun,” she tells him.
“We will,” he promises.
“I’ll bring him back around nine.” Ron leans down and kisses her cheek.
Mel smiles. “It was nice seeing you again, Hermione. Maybe we can have lunch sometime and finish our talk.”
“That would be nice. Enjoy the game.” They take the Floo back to Ron’s flat, leaving the house quiet. She leans back against the sofa and listens to the silence for a few minutes before she gets up and walks to the kitchen. There are still groceries to put away, and then she can figure out what to do with her unexpected free evening.