AN: Thank you so much for the support! It is deeply appreciated!
Nothing could have prepared her for Ronald Weasley.
For months she had rehearsed and refined her speech. Every step of the procedure was well-explained, every nuance was covered, and the audience was engaged. Once she heard the roar of the applause, she could not have smiled any wider. All had gone perfectly.
Then Ron entered the picture.
With a few slicing words, her confidence had been stripped away from her. Instead of a strong woman, she felt like the eleven-year old girl who was nothing more than a nightmare honestly who hasn't got any friends. Despite the fact that the other audience members had raised excellent points, she had counted the minutes until she could return to her hotel room and cocoon herself under the blankets.
At least there was sunshine. That alone made the walk to the hotel room more bearable.
Hermione quickened her pace. In a few meters she'd reach her room, if she could avoid looking back.
Hermione darted down the street, but had to slow down once she reached the crowd mulling around two blocks from her destination.
"Come on 'Mione! You can't run from me forever!"
Hermione stopped and took a deep breath. Summoning every ounce of Gryffindor courage she possessed, she spun around. "What do you want, Ronald?"
Ron gave her a sheepish grin. "I only wanted to say hello."
She turned around.
"How are you doing?"
Hermione's frown deepened as she returned her attention to him.
"Please 'Mione, it's been so long. I'd really like to know how you're doing," Ron repeated.
"I was doing just fine until you barged into that lecture hall," she answered.
"I didn't mean to upset you," he replied. "I only wanted to see for myself that you were doing fine."
She glared at him. "Do not insult me. You meant to upset me."
"I'm not trying to insult or upset you," Ron insisted. "I just wanted to see you again."
Hermione crossed her arms over her chest. "Why would you want to see me again?"
"Because I've been thinking about you a lot lately."
"Can't I give an occasional thought to my former fiancee?"
"I would prefer that you not."
Ron huffed. "Must you always be this way?"
She replied. "Be what way?"
"This way. Why do you have to be so rude to me?"
"I think my response to you is perfectly reasonable given the circumstances."
"Oh, so every time someone from your past not named Snape appears you blow them off."
"I didn't blow you off. I answered your question and you were escorted out of the lecture hall."
"Why don't you want to talk about the Golden Trio?"
Hermione raised her voice. "I have no problem discussing the Golden. What I have a problem with is…"
She closed her mouth.
Ron smirked. "Admit it, you've missed arguing with me."
"No, I have not. Goodbye."
Ron ran his fingers through his hair. "Rosie just had a birthday, didn't she?"
Hermione's limbs went numb.
"I've been wondering how she's been doing. I'll bet she's grown up to be quite the Quidditch player," Ron continued.
Hermione's muscles tensed. "If you knew anything at all about my daughter, you'd know that she despises Quidditch."
"Only because you taught her to hate it," Ron replied.
"She came to her own conclusions about Quidditch."
"I'm sure those opinions were not influenced in any way by you badmouthing it."
"If you knew Rose you'd know that she is very capable of making up her own mind about things. I only gave her my input."
"Did you ever take her to a game?"
"I did not see it necessary to spend an afternoon watching a game my husband and I despised."
"Then you raised her to hate Quidditch."
"I raised my daughter to draw her own conclusions about the game."
"I'm sure you raised all your children to draw their own conclusions about a game you hated."
"It isn't my fault they all decided it was a waste of time."
Ron approached Hermione. "If I had raised Rose she'd be a professional Quidditch player now."
"It's a good thing nobody cares about how you would have raised her then," Hermione spat.
Ron's grin sent a chill don Hermione's spine. "You still haven't told me how Rosie is doing."
"Her name is Rose."
"Fine, how is Rose doing?"
"She is well."
"What has her life been like?"
"That's none of your bloody business."
"It is my business and you know it."
"Fine, I'll tell you a bit about her," Hermione replied. "She graduated with the highest OWLs in her class. She went on to college and received a degree in potions."
"Potions?" Ron exclaimed.
Hermione's lips curled up. "Yes potions."
"You-you raised her to be the greasy git."
"No, I raised her to be the person she wanted to be. It is not my fault that she wanted to be a potions professor, nor is it my fault that she insisted on becoming the head of the Slytherin House."
Ron's eyes looked as if they would burst out of their sockets. "She's the head of the Slytherin House?"
"She is," Hermione answered.
"Neville m-must've sent her in as a joke."
"Nope, she's been a proud Slytherin since the day she was sorted into that house."
"T-the hat got it wrong."
"No, I think the Sorting Hat did just fine with her."
Ron's mouth gaped open.
"If you wish to know more about her, she enjoys Gobstones, dresses in all black, and can never quite beat Severus at Wizarding Chess," Hermione lowered her voice. "Don't worry, she'll outsmart him eventually."
Ron hissed, "You raised her that way to spite me."
"Again, I raised her to be the person she wanted to be. She decided she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps, and I allowed her to do so," Hermione answered.
"You, you wanted a clone of Severus, so you forced her to become a Slytherin and later a Hogwarts professor," Ron argued.
"Actually, Severus did everything in his power to dissuade her from teaching. He attempted to warn her of the dunderheaded students, the mountains of essays she would need to grade, as well as Headmaster Longbottom's penchant for Sunday staff meetings. Alas, she was determined to go into teaching, and we supported her in her endeavor."
"You bitch!" Ron shouted.
Hermione smirked. "Such language, Ronald."
Ron snorted. "You look and sound like Snivellus."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Hermione replied.
"It's meant to be an insult."
Ron sputtered, but couldn't spit out a coherent word.
"You've already heard from my talk how I am doing," Hermione replied. "So if we are done here…"
"I need you to drop the kidnapping charges," Ron ordered.
The air left Hermione's lungs. "Excuse me?"
"Drop the kidnapping charges," Ron repeated. "Tell everyone that I as temporarily insane when I took Rose, that I'm sorry, and that you forgive me."
"Why in Merlin's name would I do that?" Hermione demanded.
"It's been twenty-five years," Ron replied. "For twenty-five years I've been exiled from my family and friends. Isn't that punishment enough?"
"Ginny says your family visits you quite often," Hermione interrupted.
"What would Ginny know? She never visits me."
"That is not my problem."
"Come on 'Mione! It's been twenty-five years. I need to go to Britain and see the Burrow and my friends again. It's been so long, and I miss my home so much."
"Do you want me to feel sorry for you?"
"No, I want you to drop the charges."
"That will never happen."
Ron placed his hands on her shoulders. She pushed him off of her.
"Please 'Mione," Ron purred. "Please remember who we were before Snape entered our lives."
"How could I remember how we were before meeting Severus? I met you the same day I met him."
"You know what I meant."
Hermione bit her tongue.
"Please," Ron began. "Please remember those nights we spent in each other's arms, kissing and making love. Don't you ever miss those times?"
"I suppose I do miss you somewhat," Hermione sighed.
"I've missed you too," Ron whispered.
"Between you and me," Hermione sniffed. "My marriage is in shambles."
Ron startled. "It is."
Hermione lowered her head. "Things have been difficult with Severus for the last twenty-five years. He doesn't flirt with other women, he comes home when he says he will, he didn't abandon me when I was at my most vulnerable, and he enjoys spending his spare time with me. There hasn't been a day which he has gone by when I've absolutely despised him for all these reasons."
"Damnit Hermione!" Ron snapped. "Can't you be serious for ten seconds?"
Hermione made eye contact with him. "That speech wasn't half as insulting as you expecting me to drop those charges."
"I'm begging you 'Mione, please drop the charges," Ron folded his hands and got down on his knees. "Let me go home."
"No," Hermione barked.
Ron glowered and her. He stood up and growled, "Drop the charges or I will prove that I am Rose's biological father."
"How do you plan on doing that?" Hermione asked.
"I'll find a way," Ron warned.
"If you had found a way to prove you were Rose's biological father, then you would have done so already," Hermione replied.
Ron stomped his right foot on the ground. "Drop the charges."
"Oh how mature," Hermione replied. "You won't get your way, so you'll pout, kick, and scream. That will persuade me to take you seriously."
Ron stomped again. "Just drop the charges!"
Hermione began walking away.
"Don't mess with me 'Mione!" he shouted. "If I don't make you pay, then Percy will."
Hermione waved at him. Then she turned the corner and strolled into the hotel.
She trudged down the hallway, her body growing heavier with each step. What did I ever seen in Ronald Bilius Weasley? Every good memory of him is tainted by some tantrum or snide comment. Each good deed I'd attempted to perform for him was always thrown back in my face. All of our arguments were blamed on my actions, and mine alone. Being totally honest with myself, Ron isn't half as physically attractive as he thinks he is. What did I ever see in him?
Hermione took a deep breath and opened her room door. She needed a nice long nap and a relaxing hot bath. Better yet, she needed to take her nice, soaking bath with her husband in the tub. Once the water ran cold, he would scoop her into his arms, and the world would evaporate.
Hermione moaned as she plopped onto the bed.
Severus can't come soon enough.