Summary: Ron and Hermione travel to Australia to find her parents, but encounter a few obstacles. May contain spoilers for DH!
Author's Chapter Notes: Things got a bit smutty on me when I wasn't really intending for them to. Ron and Hermione sort of insisted... Forgive me?
If Ron was being honest about the situation, he would admit to being nervous. If he was being completely honest, he’d have to say he hadn’t been this nervous during his first Quidditch match as Gryffindor Keeper. Under any other circumstances the prospect of spending the next twenty-four hours confined with Hermione would have had his heart hammering with anticipation. It felt as if his stomach was hammering instead, but in place of the usual butterflies it was like a herd of elephants had taken up residence there and they were now dancing the can-can.
The problem was that he and Hermione weren’t going to spend the next twenty-four hours cramped into this tiny space alone. No, they’d be spending it cramped in with about three hundred Muggles like sardines in a can. Worse than that, they were going to be hurtling through the air at enormous speeds. Over water. Without magic.
There was no way it could end well.
Hoping Hermione wouldn’t notice, Ron wiped his hands on his jeans and tried not to feel sick. Suddenly the entire world seemed to lurch beneath him, making him wonder if the elephants in his stomach hadn’t decided to take up bungee jumping.
“What was that?” he blurted, a bit more loudly than necessary.
“Relax, Ron. We’ve only just pushed back from the gate.”
Hermione said this without even looking up from the book she’d buried her nose in. Ron envied her complacency. At the same time he wanted to leap out of his seat and run screaming back through Heathrow’s crowds, past its checkpoints and security guards. If anyone tried to stop him, he’d have his wand out and Stun them all. The International Confederation of Warlocks and their Statute of Secrecy could go straight to hell for all he cared.
Then he remembered his wand, along with Hermione’s, had been packed away in their luggage. Hermione had felt that wands might cause too many tricky questions at security and customs, so she’d insisted that this adventure be undertaken by strictly Muggle means, at least until they’d arrived at their destination.
Besides, they were moving now. The plane had backed away from its tether to the terminal, and Ron felt as if he’d let go of his last lifeline. He was going to die, he just knew it.
A voice crackled over a loudspeaker, welcoming him aboard. Ron began to wonder if he really had to listen when the voice informed him they were flying to Sydney, Australia with a stopover in Singapore. He already knew that part. The voice caught his attention once again when it started pointing out the security features of the aircraft. Why, if this was so perfectly safe the way Hermione kept insisting, did they need to tell him about the emergency exits? Why did he need to know that his seat could be used as a floatation device? What were the flight attendants even demonstrating with those plastic cups over their faces?
Her nose was still buried in the book – she wasn’t even paying attention to the safety demonstration.
“We are going to be able to breathe, aren’t we?”
Hermione glanced up at the flight attendants for the briefest moment. “Of course we are. They’re just showing you what to do in case we lose cabin pressure. They have to tell us all this stuff by law. I don’t think it ever actually happens.”
Ron wasn’t so sure. The plane was moving forwards now, taxiing towards the runway. He swallowed hard and closed his eyes. If, somehow, he managed to buck the odds and survive this experience, he might, at least, be able to grant his father’s dearest wish and tell him how aeroplanes stayed up.
They turned and halted for a moment. Ron’s eyes snapped open as the loudspeaker crackled to life again, and a new voice informed them that they were next in line to take off. The plane lurched forwards and then began to gather speed. The runway seemed awfully rough. Ron decided he really didn’t like the way the overhead bins appeared to shudder every time they hit a bump. The entire aircraft seemed far too flimsy.
He screwed his eyes shut. If he was going to die, he didn’t want to see it happen. Suddenly there were no more bumps. He could feel the plane lifting off the ground. They were doing it – they were actually flying, but Ron couldn’t tell how.
He tried looking out the tiny window, but all he could see was the ground falling away beneath them as they rose into the air. London spread out below them like a giant spider’s web made up lights in the deepening summer night. Even smaller points of light indicated cars speeding along the motorway like an army of ants.
Ron had seen London from a similar perspective only a few months previously. That time he’d been on the back of a dragon. In spite of the fact that they were now safely airborne, Ron still wasn’t convinced that the aeroplane was any safer than the dragon.
He still couldn’t tell how they were managing to stay aloft. The dragon’s wings had flapped the same as any bird Ron had ever seen. The aircraft he was currently in also had wings, but they were made of unyielding metal and couldn’t move. He decided he must have missed something when they’d taken off. He promised himself he’d keep his eyes open when they landed for the layover in Singapore.
Assuming they made it that far, of course.
After an hour or so of uneventful flying, Ron was feeling a bit better about the concept of Muggle transport. There’d been a bump of turbulence here and there, but he could deal with that. He’d experienced as much on a broom, after all.
The drinks trolley had also had a hand in Ron’s more positive attitude. The cabin crew might not have heard of Ogden’s Old Firewhisky but they’d managed to find quite an acceptable substitute.
The flight attendants had also passed out headsets, and Hermione had shown Ron how to plug his in and twiddle the dial on his armrest until he found some music he liked. The first thing he’d come across sounded like a pack of banshees screaming at him to spice up his life, and he quickly switched the dial to something else, hoping that by some strange coincidence he might come across the Weird Sisters.
While that was not to be, Hermione pointed out the magazine in the seat pocket in front of him. Turning it to the last few pages, he found a description of the different music channels. He also learned that there would be a movie for which he’d have to tune into channel seven at some later point.
He leafed through the magazine for a while as he listened to something about a champagne supernova, but he grew bored rather quickly when the images on the pages stubbornly refused to budge even a fraction of an inch.
“Weird!” he exclaimed, which brought a smirk to Hermione’s face.
“If you want pictures that move, you’ll have to wait for the film later on,” she said moving closer so that the passengers surrounding them wouldn’t overhear her.
“When’ll that be?”
“After supper, I expect.”
“We get supper? How are we supposed to eat it?”
Hermione didn’t reply. Instead she reached in front of her and demonstrated how a slab of plastic on the seat ahead folded down into a tray. Things were looking better and better.
By the time the flight attendants began pushing laden trolleys through the narrow aisles, Ron decided he just might be feeling somewhat peckish. When he got his tray of food, however, he found he was unable to suppress the wave of disappointment that rose in him over the size of the portions. He shot a hopeful look in Hermione’s direction.
“Are you sure you can eat all that?” he asked her.
She sighed and handed him her dinner roll.
Hermione glanced up at the movie screen as Ron chuckled for what seemed like the thousandth time. Some bare-chested bloke wearing nothing but animal skins had smashed into a tree. Again.
Ron had tried to convince her to watch the movie with him, but she’d thought it looked stupid. Based on the few images she’d seen, she’d made the right decision. At least Ron was enjoying himself now. He’d seemed rather tense around the time they’d taken off, but he’d settled down soon enough.
She’d been afraid he was going to rehash their argument over travelling to Australia by magical means to retrieve her parents. She’d had an awful time convincing him that Apparition was out of the question.
“It’s simply too far, even if we did it in stages,” she’d told him on more than one occasion. “There’s just too much that can go wrong. We’d probably end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean.”
“Why can’t we use a Portkey then?” Ron had asked mulishly.
“Because Portkeying across that many countries would be a diplomatic nightmare. You’d need the permission of about a hundred Ministries, and who knows how long it would take to get it? Don’t you remember what it was like for the Ministry of Magic to organise all those Portkeys for the Quidditch World Cup?”
“But Dad got us one with no problems that time we went to Egypt.”
“Your dad had connections in the Ministry then.”
“He still does! He knows the bloody interim Minister for Magic!”
“Yes, well, he has far more important things to worry about, don’t you think? He only has to rebuild after the war we’ve just been through. Were you even paying attention the other night when Percy was talking about what chaos the Ministry is in?”
Ron had goggled at her. “Since when have I ever paid attention to anything Percy says?”
“Anyway, I think we’re better off flying.”
“All the way to Australia? On a broom?”
“No, Ron, on an aeroplane.”
Now that she’d got him on the plane, she hoped the rest of the journey would go as smoothly. She hadn’t said anything to Ron, but she was nervous about seeing her parents again. As much as she hated to admit it to herself, she couldn’t completely stamp out the feeling of apprehension that arose whenever she thought of how they might react when they heard the whole story of why she’d Confunded them in the first place. She knew they’d understand eventually, of course, but she fully expected them to be angry with her for using magical means that would cause them to forget her very existence.
Worse than that were her worries about being able to reverse the spell at all. Confundus Charms were tricky enough to perform, but she’d been confident about using them on her parents. Her success with Cormack McClaggen back in sixth year had convinced her she could perform the spell properly yet again.
Undoing the spell was another matter entirely. She’d kept her nose buried in a theoretical spellbook since before take-off. Ron had no clue of this, however. She’d put a charm on the spellbook to make it look like the typical sort of paperback novel that most people read on aeroplanes.
Her face split in a wide yawn, reminding her incongruously of Crookshanks, who was no doubt having the time of his life at The Burrow chasing the garden gnomes. She had no idea what country they were over now or what time zone they were in, but it was very late back in England. It might not be a bad idea to have a nap now and go over her notes again when she was better rested.
With this in mind, she pulled out the blanket and pillow provided by the airline, reclined her seat, and closed her eyes.
YO, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I WANT WHAT I REALLY REALLY WANT
SO TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT WHAT YOU REALLY REALLY WANT
Ron woke with a start. For a couple of bleary moments he had no idea what was happening. He thought banshees might have invaded The Burrow.
I WANNA I WANNA I WANNA I WANNA I WANNA REALLY
REALLY REALLY REALLY ZIGAZIG HA!
Fumbling, he ripped the earphones out of his ears. Hermione was glaring at him blearily.
“Quiet, Ron,” she admonished. “People are trying to sleep!”
“Sorry,” he muttered. “I don’t know what happened.”
This much was true. One moment he’d been listening to something quite hypnotic about a bittersweet symphony over the headphones, and the next moment the banshees, or whatever they were, were screeching in his ears.
“Hermione,” he ventured after a moment. “How do you ‘zigazig ha’?”
“It’s what they were saying in that… well, I suppose it was a song. Bunch of birds screaming about wanting to ‘zigazig ha.’ “
Hermione stared at him, confused, for a moment or two, and then, incongruously, she giggled. “You were listening to the Spice Girls?”
“Is that what they were? Sounded more like a pack of mermaids trying to sing, come to think of it.”
“Keep your voice down,” she hissed. “You don’t want the Muggles to overhear.”
“Muggle music hasn’t got anything on the Weird Sisters,” Ron commented.
“Go back to sleep, Ron.”
The next time Ron jerked awake was considerably less pleasant. The plane was bouncing again, but it was more than just the small bubbles of turbulence they’d experienced so far. It felt more like they were a leaf caught up in a hurricane. The closest thing Ron had ever felt to this was the time he’d taken the Knight Bus back to school after the Christmas holiday in his fifth year. The bus had lurched like this every time it had changed locations. The only difference was frequency – the Knight Bus didn’t change locations quite so often. He stole a glance at Hermione. She was awake as well, staring fixedly straight ahead. Only the set of her jaw belied any tension.
An electronic chime rung through the cabin. At the same time a light showing a buckled seatbelt went on over Ron’s head. The loudspeaker crackled to life, and a voice informed them that they were experiencing a spot of turbulence – “No, really?” muttered Ron under his breath – and it would be preferable for everyone to remain seated with his seatbelt fastened.
“Well, I’m glad we have someone to sort everyone out,” said Ron as the plane took another dizzying dip. “Otherwise someone might have taken it into their heads to start a conga line or something.”
Hermione looked as if she was about to reply, but the voice over the loudspeaker cut her off. “Ladies and gentlemen, due to the turbulence we are experiencing, meal and beverage service will be discontinued until we’ve reached calmer air. We apologise for the inconvenience.”
“Wonderful,” grumbled Ron. “Just when a good, stiff drink would’ve hit the spot, too.”
After a few more minutes during which the aircraft felt as if it might have taken a few drops of a thousand feet or so, Ron decided that flying on an empty stomach was probably for the best. The unmistakable sound of someone being sick came from a few rows behind him, and he hoped his own digestive tract wouldn’t get any ideas. He thought longingly of his wand, which was stowed away in his luggage somewhere in the cargo hold.
“If we die,” he said to Hermione after another sickening drop, “I’m going to kill you.”
“What?” came her confused reply.
“It was your bright idea to pack our wands away and not carry them with us. If I had mine, I could Disapparate out of this mess before we hit the ground.”
“Keep your voice down,” she hissed. “You don’t want the Muggles to overhear you.”
“They’re not listening to me. They’re saying their prayers. They’d be writing their wills, only no one would be able to read them.”
“You know, you’re right about the wand business,” Hermione replied waspishly. “If I had mine, I could Stun you until we’re back on the ground.”
“If we make it that far in one piece.”
By the time they landed in Singapore, Hermione was a jumble of conflicting emotions. She felt no small measure of relief that they’d arrived safely. This wasn’t the first time she’d taken a plane, but the last part of the flight was the roughest she’d ever been on. She’d even found herself sympathising with Ron and wishing she had her wand to hand. She was definitely happy for a chance to get out of her seat and stretch her legs somewhere besides the confines of a narrow economy class aisle.
On the other hand, she would now be faced with the prospect of getting Ron back on the plane for the final stage of their journey. He’d nearly bowled over the entire line of deplaning passengers in his haste to escape to the safety of the terminal.
“Are you sure we can’t Apparate from here?” he was asking.
“Yes, Ron, I’m sure. We’re still thousands of miles from Sydney. And keep your voice down.” The airport was crammed with Muggles from all over the world. Hermione wasn’t willing to risk one of them overhearing on the off chance that person might understand English. “Besides…”
“Yes, I know,” Ron cut her off. “We haven’t got our wands because it was someone’s bright idea to pack them in our checked baggage.”
Hermione bit back the retort that rose to the surface. There was no point in making a spectacle of themselves by rowing in public. She was content to glare pointedly at Ron while she hoisted her carry-on bag higher on her shoulder.
“Listen, I’m going in there to freshen up a bit,” she said, indicating a ladies’ toilet. “Don’t move from that spot. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
As soon as she emerged from the toilet she wanted to kick herself. There was no sign of Ron anywhere. She should have known better than to trust him to listen to her.
“At least he shouldn’t be too hard to spot in this,” she sighed to herself, peering through the crowds which consisted mainly of dark-haired people who were about her height. It wasn’t too long before she spotted a shock of bright red hair across the concourse. No one but a Weasley had hair that was quite that shade, she mused, and no one but Ron had such a voracious appetite. When she walked over to him, he was staring longingly at the food on display at a coffee shop.
“We haven’t got any Muggle money that will work here,” she reminded him in an undertone as she grabbed his wrist and dragged him back into the general vicinity of their gate. “They’ll feed you on the plane,” she added, hoping that would be enough to convince him to reboard their aircraft.
Ron stopped in this tracks. “If you think I’m going to get back on that thing, you’re mental.”
“You haven’t got a choice, Ron. Our tickets are for Sydney. My parents are in Sydney, and that’s the whole point of this trip.”
“There’s got to be a better way –“
“There isn’t. All our luggage is still on the plane. Our wands are on that plane,” she added in an undertone. “We can’t just leave them.”
“Well, find someone to take our bags off the plane then, because I’m getting off here.”
“You can’t just do that! That’s not how it works!”
Hermione could tell just by looking at him that mere arguments weren’t going to convince him. His mind was made up. He was confronting her with another quintessential Weasley characteristic: mule-headedness. She was going to have to take a different tack.
She took a deep breath and stepped closer. “Look, Ron,” she said, working hard at softening her tone, “I know you didn’t have to come along with me on this trip, but I’m really glad you came along. I need you to come the rest of the way with me. Please?”
Her hand was still on his wrist. She slid it along his forearm. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. Riveting her eyes on his, she went on, “You can do this. I know you can. You’ve done far more dangerous things that get on an aeroplane. Just do this one thing. For me?”
His shoulders dropped the slightest amount, and Hermione knew he’d just given in. “This better be worth it,” he muttered.
“Oh, I’ll make sure of that.”
Once they were back on the plane and had taken off again, Hermione replayed the conversation in her mind. She’d never realised she could make her voice purr like that. Just when had she learned how to do that?
Thankfully, the rest of the journey was uneventful. The sun was just barely peeking over the horizon when they arrived in Sydney, pale and bleary-eyed with fatigue. Neither one of them had a thought to spare for the fact that their hotel room only had one bed. They both collapsed on it fully clothed.
When Hermione swam back to consciousness, she didn’t open her eyes at first. She couldn’t ever recall her bed feeling this incredibly comfortable and warm. A large, heat-generating something, solid and yet fairly pliant, seemed to have positioned itself behind her. It had appendages; a hand, relaxed in slumber, was splayed over her stomach.
Her eyes snapped open. Ron had snuggled up to her in his sleep. Memory came flooding back. She wasn’t in any bed she could call her own; they were in Australia to find her parents. The luminous numbers on the clock indicated that it was early evening.
When Hermione had planned this trip, she hadn’t stopped to consider the sleeping arrangements. She’d spent the better part of the previous year camping out with Ron, after all. Only Harry had been with them then; only they’d never kissed then.
They hadn’t been a couple then.
She hadn’t thought of the complications those few small facts would lend to sharing a room – a room with just one double bed – together.
Hermione had never thought of herself as the sort of girl who would use her feminine wiles to convince a man to do what she wanted. That was the sort of thing someone like Lavender Brown might do. And yet, hadn’t Hermione done just that a few hours ago to get Ron back on the plane? What was he going to expect from her now?
Gently she removed his hand and stood up. Ron rolled onto his back and gave a loud snore. It was almost dark outside. The streetlight through the open curtains bathed the room in a sort of twilight that muted all colours. Ron’s sleeping form looked pale and peaceful. She could barely tell that he had red hair in this light; she could barely make out the two days’ growth of stubble that peppered his cheeks and chin…
She retreated to the bathroom, telling herself that after almost forty-eight hours in the same clothes it was more than high time for a shower and change of undergarments. Ron was awake when she emerged a little while later, feeling quite refreshed. He had turned on the lamp beside the bed, giving Hermione an excellent view of his expression before he averted his eyes. It went from bemused to something akin to guilt as soon as the door opened. She had to wonder if he’d been roused by the sound of the water running and had been thinking about what was happening on the other side of the wall…
Ron leapt to his feet as if the bed had suddenly become full of burning coals. The tips of his ears were scarlet. Muttering something about a shower sounding like a good idea, he pushed past her, still avoiding her gaze.
The bathroom door clicked shut, and a few minutes later, there was a sound of pelting water. Hermione rummaged through her bags until she found a sheaf of notes. The water continued to run in the next room, while she stared at the closely written sheets of parchment, where she had painstakingly copied every last bit of pertinent information in colour-coded ink. She had long since committed the information to memory, so it really didn’t matter if she stared at her parents’ home address for five minutes straight without actually seeing it….
A loud groan from the hotel plumbing announced the end of Ron’s shower. Hermione forced her gaze down a few lines to where she’d written out the name of the dental clinic where her parents now worked (she’d spent hours in a Muggle library searching the internet to track this information down) – not that they’d be at work at this time of day. No, they ought to be at home.
The bathroom door rattled open. Hermione’s head snapped up at the sound. Ron was standing framed in the doorway, naked to the waist. Hermione shifted in her chair; a warm but slightly uncomfortable feeling was rapidly forming in her midsection.
“Y-you h-haven’t s-seen m-my s-shirt, h-have you?”
Hermione’s eyes shot to his face at the sound of his voice – they seemed to have been stuck at a point somewhere in the middle of his chest until now. She only just noticed that his teeth looked as if they were chattering.
“No… Did you run out of hot water?”
Ron bent to dig through his suitcase. “Yeah, I guess so.”
There was something evasive about his tone that gave Hermione the distinct impression that he wasn’t exactly telling the truth.
He straightened once more, holding a t-shirt in his hands. Hermione wished he’d hurry up and put it on so she could stop staring.
“So what do we do now?” Ron asked.
Hermione made herself look him in the eyes, but the words of her reply stuck in her throat. She’d been about to suggest they find something to eat and then look up her parents’ flat, but that no longer seemed like a good idea at the moment. Ron had stopped shivering, and his eyes had gone strangely dark. The tips of his ears were red again.
Hermione wasn’t sure which one of them made the first move. All she knew was that, next instant, her notes lay abandoned on the floor while Ron’s shirt landed in a crumpled heap on the bed as they launched themselves at each other.
Hermione had been kissing Ron on a fairly regular basis for several months now, but there was something different about his actions tonight, a sense of complete abandonment she’d never detected before. Doubtless, he was spurred on by the fact that they were in a place where no one would interrupt them. There was no danger of a family member bursting in on them unexpectedly, just when things were getting interesting.
Ron was pushing against her and all she could do was hold on. Her hands sought to grip something but only met nothing beyond the bare skin of his back. She could only dig her fingernails into his flesh. If she was hurting him at all, though, he wasn’t protesting. The only noise he made sounded like a growl deep in his throat.
One of his hands was tangled in the still damp curls at the nape of her neck while the other rubbed insistently at her lower back. One minute, her blouse was working its way free of her waistband, and the next Ron’s hand was burning hot at the small of her back. Hermione felt as if it had branded itself there.
He was forcing her backwards. The bed was somewhere behind her. Another step and the back of her knees brushed up against the mattress. Yet another and they buckled. Ron managed to let her go long enough to allow her to fall without crushing her. Then he was looming above her, his weight supported on his elbows, their lower bodies pressed together. He hung his head and let out a groan as he ground against her.
One hand caressed the side of Hermione’s face tilting her chin up, and then his lips were grazing the side of her neck. The heat that had begun pooling deep inside her had now spread throughout her body. She felt as if she were drowning in it, but she didn’t want to do anything that would cause her to surface. She clung to Ron as he continued to kiss along her throat, while his hand traced along her jaw and down to her collar bone before coming to rest at the top button of her blouse.
Ron raised his head then and looked down at her. They were both breathing hard as if they’d just run a race. Hermione’s lips felt as if they were swollen from Ron’s insistent kisses. In a flash of intuition she realised what he was waiting for. He wanted her permission to continue.
“Do you think we can behave ourselves long enough to go get my parents?” she asked. Her voice sounded strange and breathless.
The side of Ron’s mouth quirked upwards in a wicked-looking half grin. The expression sent an electric shock through her that reached the soles of her feet. She’d never seen that look on his face before.
“Who wants to behave themselves?”
He bent his head and kissed the racing pulse point just below Hermione’s earlobe. At the same time his fingers moved to work the top button of her blouse free.
If she’d meant to admonish him, her tone was as far from forbidding as it is possible to get.
He moved on to the next button, and the next. Before long he was spreading the cotton fabric and staring hungrily at her bra. He’d touched her breasts before, but it had always been over her clothes. Now, judging by the expression on his face, he looked ready to devour them. The very idea caused her to move her hips restlessly against him while she released her breath in a sigh.
She reached for him, and pulled his face down to the hollow just below her neck. He began to kiss his way along her skin, down to the upper curves of her breasts. She threaded her fingers through his hair, guiding him until he was nipping at her through the fabric of her bra.
It wasn’t enough. They both seemed to reach that conclusion at the same time, for she raised herself on her elbows even as he reached behind her to unhook her bra. He struggled and needed her help, but it didn’t matter. Anything to get rid of the offending garment. Anything to feel his bare chest pressed up against her. Anything to feel his lips and hands on her bare flesh…
The heat in Hermione was concentrated now at the point where Ron kept pushing against her. They were fairly rocking against each other, but she still needed more. There was something mysterious building deep within her, something that incited her to continue the delicious friction.
Ron’s breathing was becoming increasingly erratic. Suddenly he let out a cry and shuddered before collapsing on top of her. In the few moments it took Hermione to collect herself and realise what had just happened, she felt something wet and sticky pooling between them.
Ron muttered a few choice swear words and rolled off of her. He pushed himself into a sitting position, his back turned resolutely towards her.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
She sat up and wrapped her arms around his waist, while resting her head on his shoulder.
“It’s all right,” she said, turning slightly to kiss a patch of freckles on the curve of his shoulder. Just below she could see a deep gouge of a scar left over from the time he’d Splinched himself while escaping from the Ministry of Magic. It hadn’t even been a year ago.
“I just… you didn’t…”
“It’s all right,” Hermione insisted. “Really. It’ll happen.”
“It’ll be you. It was always going to be you.”
“I reckon I need another shower,” Ron said ruefully.
Hermione smiled against his shoulder. “At least you can turn the hot water on this time.”
After a quick bite in a Thai café near their hotel – Ron still wasn’t sure what he’d eaten; he only knew that it had been spicier than anything he’d ever tasted before and that he’d much rather have sampled the pasties in the neighbouring shop – they Apparated to the quiet street where Hermione’s parents now lived. Brightly coloured terraced houses fronted along the pavement, leaving no room for any sort of garden. The evening was cool but relatively pleasant; winter in this part of Australia wasn’t very much colder than what would be considered summery weather back home. Hermione strode up to the front door and rang the bell.
Then they waited.
After a few minutes, Hermione rang again, and then she knocked, although it was becoming increasingly obvious that no one was home. The windows were completely dark, and the silence possessed an eerie, brooding quality, as if the entire street were listening.
“Perhaps they’ve gone out for the evening,” Hermione said.
Ron thought she didn’t sound quite convinced. There was a definite air of desertion about the place. A question rose in Ron’s mind, but he hesitated before giving it voice.
“Are you sure this is the right address?”
Hermione’s reply was as snappish as Ron expected. “Of course I’m sure! They must have gone out.”
“Do you think we should have tried the fellytone first?”
“I suppose so. And it’s telephone, Ron.”
He was about to suggest they go back to the hotel, given the fact that they had nothing better to do, when he heard footsteps approaching along the pavement. Both of them turned, Hermione looking hopeful, but the solitary figure passed them by, and turned at the next door. A jingling of keys reached their ears from down the way. A neighbour then.
Hermione tensed, pausing for a moment before calling out, “Excuse me.”
The man looked in their direction.
“Sorry to bother you, but do you know the people who live here?”
The man turned from his door and walked back towards them. Closer to, he looked to be in his early thirties with close-cropped dark blond hair and blue eyes. Ron topped him by a fair few inches.
“Good evening,” he said casually. There was something different about his accent. He didn’t sound quite like the other Australians Ron had encountered so far. “Are you looking for the Wilkinses?”
“Yes,” said Hermione, smiling at him.
“Then I’m sorry to tell you,” the man said quietly, “that they’re gone.”
Chapter End Notes: Lyrics to "Wannabe" are copyright the Spice Girls and whatever their music company is. Lyrics were not used by permission and the Spice Girls can have them back now.