Title: Hieroglyphic Hearts
Summary: Hermione, now a university student, and her friend take part of their summer holiday in Egypt and stay with Bill Weasley. Hermione realizes there is more to Bill than just being Ron's older brother. [Bill/Hermione, OC/OC]
Disclaimer: Consider it disclaimed.
Note: This is an 8,000+ word fic that I usually have posted as 3 chapters. After the cut it will be the whole deal.
Throughout her education at Hogwarts, Hermione had few female friends. Of course there was Ginny, and she even grudgingly liked Luna. Other than that, she didn't tolerate female company because she esteemed other girls to be vapid and frivolous. That changed when she went abroad to Spain for her university education. There Hermione befriended Mary Frances, an Irish witch also studying at the Universidad Real de Magia in Madrid.
While Harry and Ron remained closest to her heart, Mary Frances quickly became Hermione's best and most treasured female friend. They had shared several holidays together over the time they had known each other, and they had decided to visit Italy, Greece and Egypt before going back to their studies for their third year.
"When we go to Cairo," Hermione said as they planned, "I have just the friend we can visit. I am sure he won't mind us staying at his flat for a few days."
"He?" Mary Frances asked with a crooked smile. "Is this another one of your Weasley friends?"
"Red hair, freckles and all," Hermione answered back with a fond smile.
"Sounds like my kind of man," her friend cooed.
"Any man that breathes is your kind of man," Hermione gently teased Mary Frances. While the Irish lass was a flirt, she never truly let it get out of hand.
After finalizing their travel plans, Hermione sent an owl to Bill to officially ask him if they could stay at his flat. Bill quickly replied in the affirmative but due to work-related obligations, he would not be able to be there himself when the girls were visiting. He cautioned her about safety in his neighborhood and gave her access to his locking spells so they could enter his flat when they arrived.
The tour of the Mediterranean had gone splendidly while in Italy and Greece, so when the girls made it to Cairo, both had high hopes of a good time there, too. They arrived on a Monday afternoon and used the excellent directions Bill had given Hermione to find his flat. They found it with little problems, and the somewhat seedy neighborhood hadn't even worried Hermione, who was worried about very little after having gone up against Voldemort with Ron and Harry several times.
Hermione followed all the charms Bill wrote in the letter, and the door opened for them without any problem. She let Mary Frances enter the flat first so that she could stay behind and redo the locking spells that she had undone. Almost immediately her friend screamed, and Hermione ran with wand drawn ready to protect her friend if she needed it.
When Hermione came into the main room where Mary Frances was frozen still, she found a very naked Bill Weasley standing in the middle of the room modestly trying to cover his genitalia with a towel. While she had stayed with the Weasleys many times, this was the first for Hermione to see Bill in such an awkward position, but she noticed right away that Bill looked really good.
He was naturally lean and had developed strong muscles in his work. With his long hair unbound and falling free around his face, Bill had the majesty of a sub-Saharan lion. That image was helped by his Roman nose and hazel eyes. He looked more than good; he was mouthwateringly attractive. It was no wonder Fleur had pursued him.
When she snapped back into reality, Hermione exclaimed, "Bill! You're here!"
"This is my flat," he stated as minimally as the towel that was protecting him.
"B... but you said you were going to be gone this week!" She felt like her expression of surprise was going to freeze on her face.
"The plans changed," he responded.
"Are we still able to stay?" she asked him with trepidation.
"Yes, of course, but I would rather get dressed first." He looked down in emphasis at the small towel he was holding in front of himself.
"Oh, right!" She could have kicked herself then, but decided to make quick introductions. "Bill, Mary Frances O'Brien. Mary Frances, Bill Weasley. She's Irish," Hermione said as an aside.
"Black Irish" both Mary Frances and Bill said at the same time. She smiled at him and shook her head of black hair.
"Well, ladies, if you will excuse me..." Bill firmly clutched his towel and backed up slowly into his bedroom where he got dressed properly.
Mary Frances quickly turned to Hermione when he was busy dressing. "You never told me he was that good looking," she whispered quickly.
"I didn't think about it, and it wasn't important if he wasn't going to be here," Hermione quickly whispered back.
"Well, he's bloody gorgeous!" Mary Frances declared to Hermione who was in complete, though silent, agreement with her.
To keep herself busy, Hermione surveyed Bill's flat. It was a small one room studio with a bathroom and tiny kitchen. He had put up a few tall screens in places as dividers to make it seem as if he had a separate bedroom, and bookshelves lined one wall completely. The flat was so well organized that it gave the impression of a much larger living space.
When Bill came back into the room the atmosphere was much more relaxed. His feet were still bare and his hair was undone, but he was covered wrist to ankle in light-colored cotton trousers and a matching shirt. As Bill was talking to them, he tied back his hair and put on his shoes.
"We need to go to the market so I can buy some food. Are you ladies up to a bit of shopping?"
"Of course!" they both said with excitement at the prospect.
"I do have to write an owl before we go," he said as he leaned over his small kitchen table that doubled as his desk. When he was done, he said, "Let's go!"
Bill put his arms around the girls' shoulders and guided them out of the flat. "I'll be the luckiest man in all of Egypt with the two prettiest girls by my side."
As they were walking through the crowd, Bill did one innocent thing that greatly impressed Hermione. He spoke to the shopkeepers in the local language.
"You speak Arabic!" Hermione gasped in surprise.
"Of course, I do," Bill answered as if it were perfectly natural for him to do so. "Don't you speak Spanish?"
"¡Sí, como no!" she answered quickly. "It's just that most wizards don't learn other languages. They use translation charms instead."
"Oh, they're good," he assessed the charms, "but not perfect. Sometimes magic can't replace the simple joy of doing something yourself, you know?"
Hermione smiled as her respect for Bill was growing, and she thought that this was definitely going to be a great holiday.
When they reached the market, Bill used the public owl post to send the letter he had hastily written in his flat. Then they continued to walk through the streets as Bill bought fruit, bread and cheese for their evening meal. He conveniently shrunk it with a charm so that it would fit compactly and lightly into his satchel.
Both Hermione and Mary Frances were interested in other forms of shopping besides food. When they had seen enough to build up an appetite, they suggested stopping to try the baklava and coffee at one of the sidewalk cafes. Bill sat with them only drinking black coffee.
"Aren't you going to have any, Bill?" Hermione asked.
"No thank you. I know it's good here, but I've had better." He drank more of his coffee instead and contentedly watched the people around him.
Mary Frances mumbled something vaguely sounding of, "If you say so," but as she was mumbling, Bill was not completely sure.
After their brief trip to the market, the trio returned to Bill's flat where he took out the food items and began to prepare a proper meal for his guests.
Mary Frances was staring at him in appreciation. "A man that is completely comfortable in the kitchen! I think Hermione and I found the eighth wonder."
Bill laughed and confidently said, "I'm a wizard in the kitchen."
"You are a wizard!" Mary Frances joked back.
"Exactly," he winked.
"Are you a wizard in the bedroom, too?" she flirted at Bill, making Hermione blush in the listening.
"Oh course! You shouldn't really need to ask." He smiled his disarming grin at her, the same one that usually won him the attention of any female in the immediate area.
Hermione found her voice and commented, "Bill's been dating this French veela."
"Oh! So he's got valuable experience." She smiled widely as her blue eyes twinkled.
"I had plenty of experience before I ever met Fleur, not that I'm the type of man to kiss and tell."
"I guess that means there was kissing involved," Hermione whispered wryly.
"French kissing!" Mary Frances squealed with laughter.
Bill snapped both girls with the dishtowel and went back to his cooking.
True to his word, Bill was a wizard in the kitchen both literally and figuratively. The meal he cooked was excellent, and infinitely better than the so-called cooking that the rest of Hermione's male friends and acquaintances could do. They finished their food with a glass of wine and pleasant conversation.
As they were chatting away, Bill received an owl in answer to the one he had sent earlier at the market.
"Unfortunately, I have to work tomorrow," he explained, "so I cannot escort you properly myself. Instead I have asked my friend Ali-Reza to take you. He's accepted."
"I was really hoping you could take us, Bill," Hermione said with disappointment in her voice.
"You will like Ali-Reza, and he'll be a good tour guide. Plus, if I finish all my work tomorrow, I will be able to spend Wednesday with you."
"Oh, that sounds simply lovely to me!" Mary Frances said while leaning over to smile at Bill.
True to his gentlemanly self, Bill showed the girls to the bathroom to where they could freshen after their day of travel. As they were doing that, Bill put out a blanket for himself on his sofa so his guests could use his room. He left them to their privacy and read a book while they tried to relax.
Hermione went into Bill's room and was distractedly trying to comb her tangled mess of hair. Whenever Mary Frances spoke to her or asked her questions, it was completely obvious that Hermione's mind was not there, but it was more likely to be concentrated on the person reading on the sofa. She gave up trying to groom herself and flopped down on the bed, crossing her arms across her chest and her legs at the ankles.
Mary Frances climbed into the bed and pelted Hermione with a pillow. "You're acting like you've never seen him before!"
Hermione was surprised to admit, "I don't think I have! All this time he was just Ron's older brother. I never paid any attention him otherwise, but you sure have. You've been flirting with him all night!"
"And so would you be, too, if you had any sense. It's all harmless fun, so don't worry."
At first Hermione didn't comment but remained still and stared blankly forward. She then said, "So you don't like him?"
"Of course I like him. He seems like a great guy, but you knew him first. Okay, you knew his brother first. Same thing."
Hermione stifled a laugh.
"This is serious stuff, Hermione. I haven't seen you really take notice of any other guy before because most of the time they don't meet your standards. No one can possibly measure up to what you want because you always compare him to either Ron or Harry."
"I don't do that!" Hermione denied, but Mary Frances knew better.
"Yes, you do, even if you don't realize it. That Bill, though-he's a looker, and he's even a curse breaker. He just might break through those defenses of yours, Hermione." Her friend waggled her finger in front of Hermione's face for emphasis.
Hermione told Mary Frances to stuff it as she turned off the light in the room.
"¡Sí, como no!" = "Yes, of course!"
In the morning things were bustling in Bill's small flat. The girls were busy getting ready for a proper tour of the city with Ali-Reza, and Bill was trying to get ready for work. There was high competition for the small bathroom, so Bill had to shave in the kitchen area. He was good-natured about everything, but it was probably due to the fact that he was the oldest of seven children.
As Bill was trying to shave, Hermione found herself staring at his very sexy and very naked feet. There had to be something wrong with her because this was the second time in as many days that she was thinking the words "sexy", "naked" and "Bill" in conjunction with each other.
She couldn't stop staring, though, and she felt as if she were beginning to develop a foot fetish. His feet were simply perfect peeking out of the legs of his pajama bottoms, and the toes were just right. None of the toes were mangled or too long for the others around them. The feet weren't matted and overly hairy, either. Bill's feet were as strong and lovely as the rest of him, and the fact that she noticed concerned Hermione.
She tried to take her mind off his feet and looked past his bare chest up to him shaving. Bill did not use a wand as other wizards did, or even an electric or disposable hand razor as most Muggle men did. Instead he used a straight razor and shaving cream, a habit that had gone out of fashion for most groups of men nearly a hundred years ago.
"My grandfather used to shave with a straight razor," she commented to him.
He raised his eyebrow at her, but did not speak as he was trying to get some of the hair from his upper lip.
Quite unlike herself, she babbled, "I never thought I would see another man do that!"
Bill paused with his blade to comment, "A man has to have his peculiarities."
"Why do you do it?"
He shrugged. "It's a habit I developed while breaking curses in tombs. I used a sharp dagger once when I was deep in a tomb, and the rest is personal grooming history."
She chuckled, "Ah! Like the hair your mother so wishes to cut."
He nodded and silently went back to finishing his shave. Hermione, on the other hand, forced herself to stop looking at him and made sure both she and Mary Frances were ready to go.
When all three were ready, Bill walked them to the place where they would rendezvous with Ali-Reza. He waited with them until his friend came, but he didn't have to wait too long. Bill's friend Ali-Reza El Fadil met them promptly at eight in the morning with great plans for the sightseeing tour.
"Ali-Reza!" Bill greeted his friend. "These fine young ladies are Hermione Granger and Mary Frances O'Brien." Bill gestured at each when he said her name.
"My ladies!" he said as he bowed low to them with a sweeping gesture of his arm.
"When you show them the sights today, don't go near the tombs or any of the more interesting venues. I'd like to think that is my area of expertise."
"I see. You will be taking them there tomorrow?" Ali-Reza asked Bill.
"But of course!" To the coeds he said, "Have a lovely day!" Bill then Apparated to work.
After he left, all thoughts were on the tour plans of the day, and Ali-Reza was fully prepared to show them the sights. He was charming and funny and a very appropriate guide. Bill had chosen well among his friends, and Hermione did not have too much time to regret that Bill himself was not there with them.
Ali-Reza had taken them to the general interest places in the city that most tourists visited, but he managed to do it without encountering too much of a crowd of other tourists. When they tried to buy souvenirs, he helped make sure they got the best for their money and were not deceived for being foreign tourists. He later brought them to a family-owned restaurant so they could enjoy savory authentic food.
If Mary Frances had been flirting with Bill, it was nothing compared to how she acted when she met Ali-Reza. He had black hair and blue eyes like Mary Frances but with mocha colored skin that made the blue of his eyes more striking. When she asked about it, he told her that he was from Sudan and that his maternal grandparents were English. She was smitten with him and too much of a modern woman to let it pass.
While it was obvious that Mary Frances and Ali-Reza were feeling great interest in each other, Hermione was not excluded when he gave an invitation to spend the evening in a local dance club. Feeling adventurous as part of her holiday, Hermione agreed that it would be fun to go, but first wanted to stop at the flat to change into the right clothing.
"Maybe if Bill is there, you can invite him to come with us," whispered Mary Frances in Hermione's ear.
"Yes, maybe," she replied, trying to hide the hope she was feeling.
When they went back, Bill still wasn't home from work, but both girls got ready and went to the club with Ali-Reza without him. Each quickly bathed and changed into evening party attire. Hermione left Bill a note and off they went to dance the night away.
Bill returned home about an hour later to find no one in his flat, which at the moment was fine. He had several work reports to finish before he could indulge himself in a free day with Hermione and Mary Frances. He made himself a pot of coffee and spread his work on his combination table and desk.
His work went on for an uncountable length of time only interrupted by Hermione as she entered his flat alone.
"Where's Mary Frances?" Bill asked in concern as he was getting himself another cup of coffee.
Hermione sat in the kitchen chair across from his and took off her shoes so she could rub the soles of her aching feet. "She decided to take an evening at the disco with Ali-Reza."
"She will be fine with him, so don't worry. Just as long as he gets to work on time in the morning," Bill said in boss mode, "I don't care how late he stays out dancing."
Bill then sat back down in his chair opposite of her and took Hermione's feet in his lap to massage them. She sighed in pure relief and whispered, "Thank you."
"Too much walking today?" he asked as he continued to work on her feet.
"I didn't think so! I did as much walking in Italy and Greece in the same pair of shoes without so much trouble."
He smiled as he looked at her attire. "Did you walk all day in those shoes?"
Hermione laughed as she noticed the high heels on the floor. "No, I danced in those shoes."
Being diplomatic, Bill said, "Maybe you've done so much walking in your other shoes that you've worn them out, or maybe you've done too much dancing in these shoes."
"A little of both," she sighed. "I did go dancing with them for a while."
Bill returned his attention to finishing the work he had before him, but he never moved Hermione's feet from his lap. She quietly went to sleep as he was working. When finally finished, he picked her up and took her to the bed.
While he was carrying her, Hermione sleepily looked up and said "Hi, Bill" in the most contented voice one could imagine. Without censure, she reached behind his head and loosed his ponytail so his hair fell freely around his face. She happily played with his hair as he set her down on the bed.
"Grrr!" she said as she continued to touch his brilliant hair. It only caused Bill to smile, and he broke away from her to pull the coverlet over her.
"Goodnight, Hermione," he said softly as he left to take his place on the sofa.
"Mmmm, night, Bill," she murmured into her pillow.
The next day, Bill also advised Hermione and Mary Frances to wear sensible clothing as the trip to the tombs was no delicate matter. To help, he started bright and early with a good, hearty breakfast that he cooked. He explained that they would need lots of protein to keep their energy going all day.
Mary Frances was ever appreciative of his cooking efforts. "When I get married, I really need to find a man that can cook."
"Me, too!" Hermione agreed as she savored her breakfast of potatoes, eggs and cheese.
"I need a woman who can wash the dishes. Cooking is easy. I just don't like cleaning up afterward."
"Oh, that's easy, Bill," Hermione scoffed. "Scourgify!" The evidence of cooking immediately vanished.
"Impressive," he whistled.
Bill took them to the tombs as he had promised the day before. In his work as a curse breaker, he had seen several of them, and tourists of the Magical or Muggle kind were not allowed to enter. He found ways around it, and it was breathtaking.
Hermione was enthralled by everything. She generally knew vast amounts about many different subjects, but Bill impressed her with his easy intelligence and comfort in using it. Some people knew things just to enjoy the knowing but were never really adept at handling the information. When she would ask him a question, he had the answers she wanted, and they could discuss everything in depth. As her esteem for him continued to grow, she decided that he hadn't been made one of Hogwarts Head Boys for nothing.
He promised to show them some impressive artwork in one particular tomb deep in the ground. He said the lives and mysteries were there to anyone who would read the stories painted in the pictures on the walls.
"Hold my hand, and let's walk along the wall." He took Hermione's hand, who in turn took the hand of Mary Frances. He had his wand drawn and they inched slowly forward.
"DUCK!" Bill shouted when one of the traps was released. The girls wasted no time, and thankfully so because a blade came swinging through the air where their necks would have been.
"This is his job?" Mary Frances asked incredulously behind Hermione.
"Yes!" Bill heard and answered with obvious enthusiasm.
She mouthed to Hermione, "Is he crazy?" Hermione grinned back at Mary Frances because she didn't think Bill was crazy at all.
"From here, we need to go by touch. Some of the traps are triggered by light." He reached his hand to Hermione again before extinguishing his wand.
They walked in the darkness incrementally slower than they had before. Bill was feeling for several triggers and making sure there were no curses blocking their way. When he got to a certain spot, he had the time to whisper "Slide" before the floor moved underneath them.
The girls' surprised screams were heard as they twisted down the slide that would have been more appropriate as part of a Muggle water park ride. When they reached the bottom, they fell into Bill with a thud.
"Just a little farther," he said as he helped them stand.
When they were almost there, a hand reached out and grabbed Hermione by the ankle in the dark and tried to pull her down. She yelped and jumped into Bill's arms. He expertly threw his dagger, and the sound of groaning was heard.
"Desert wraith," he explained. "I'm not sure what it was doing this far down into the tomb."
Hermione was shaken and didn't let go of Bill, who hugged her protectively in the safety of his arm.
"It's okay, Hermione. I got him, so no worries. And... we're here!"
"We are?" Mary Frances asked dryly.
"Lumos!" he called, and the room became bathed in light as he held his wand over his head. They saw with their own eyes the stories of the ancient pharaohs written on every wall of the room.
"Exciting, isn't it?" he said while looking at the paintings. His arm was still around her and he didn't loosen his hold as he surveyed everything.
"Very," Hermione agreed, though she was looking at him, not the wall.
Bill's hair had become loose, as Hermione preferred, when they had been moving in the darkness. His arm around her was strong and comforting, and his body beside hers was masculine and powerful. It was a heady combination.
Hermione finally did look at the walls and was fascinated by every detail and color that was somehow preserved over the ages.
"What does it say?" Mary Frances asked Bill.
"There," he pointed, "is the lineage of the Pharaoh. On that panel is the love story of him and his bride. Those are somewhat unusual."
"Why?" she said as she wrinkled her nose.
"Because while love itself is old, it has never made a very good bedfellow with politics."
Mary Frances nodded in satisfaction of his answer, and Bill told the story painted on the rest of the walls.
"Over there is the more day to day stuff like weather patterns and seasons of the crops. There in that section is the list of all Pharaoh's belongings to make sure he has what is rightfully his when he enters the afterlife."
Hermione noticed a beautiful red bird in the paintings that could have been Fawkes. "The ancient Egyptian phoenix..."
Bill nodded. "That would be Bennu. I am sure there were plenty of Orders of the Phoenix before we needed one for our purpose."
"Bill, I have to admit that I'm not too happy how you got us here, but this is actually worth it," Mary Frances said as a way of thanks.
After they were done looking in the room, Bill retrieved his dagger and then guided them back. It took them a long time to get up to the surface, but it was considerably easier going. The sunlight felt wonderful on their faces, and as they breathed the fresh air they realized they were ravenously hungry.
The three went into the city and ate a large meal while discussing everything Bill had shown them.
"So, do you have plans for more adventures?" Hermione asked him hopefully.
"I hope not!" they heard Ali-Reza say. He waved his hand as he walked over to their table. "I was hoping to have another opportunity to dance with this lovely lady," he said as he smiled at Mary Frances.
She giggled at him making Hermione feel dumbstruck in observation of her friend's behavior.
"So, friend, what do you say for an evening of dancing with the loveliest ladies in all of Egypt?" Ali-Reza suggested to Bill.
"Bill already called us that!" Mary Frances giggled.
He smiled at her and winked. "Then it must be true!"
"While not as exciting as a day in the tombs, I guess I could go," Bill smiled easily. "How about you, Hermione?"
"Yes. Sure. Okay," she said as her mind raced. Was she going to get another opportunity to be held closely in Bill's arms?
They returned to Bill's flat and the trio quickly bathed away all the tomb grime and prepared for an evening out. Hermione put on a slinky, light print and the same heels she had dared to wear dancing the night before. When the group was finally ready, they all Apparated to the dance club.
Inside the crowd was dancing to the sexy sounds of the music and various couples where whispering sweet nothings in each others' ears. Hermione felt nervous at the prospect of dancing with Bill, but she was immediately put at ease, something she realized she always felt around him.
"Would you like to dance, Hermione?" he asked sociably.
"Why of course, Mr. Weasley," she smiled back.
When Bill did dance with her, he actually knew what he was doing. He was even graceful, but that was entirely logical. One didn't survive the work as a curse breaker by being a bumbling idiot.
"You can dance!" she said in surprise aloud.
"Of course, I can." Again he acted as if his abilities were the most natural thing in the world.
"Ron can't," she supplied.
"Pity," he said, though he sounded unconcerned.
Several more rounds of dancing passed for everyone, and they had even traded partners several times. A few times they danced with others, but they always came back to the group of four. It was an enjoyable evening, but the time on the clock ticked away until Bill had to make his exit.
"Listen, I have to go back home," Bill said to his friends. "Work calls again early in the morning."
"Don't go, Bill," Mary Frances begged him.
"Goblins aren't pleasant in the morning, especially to people who are late, so I must. You three can stay and have a good time."
"I'll go home with you, Bill. I think I need to throw these shoes in the rubbish bin," Hermione sighed again at her tired and aching feet.
"You two have fun. I know we will." Mary Frances smiled at Ali-Reza and twirled off with him across the dance floor.
After Apparating back to Bill's flat, Hermione stumbled to the edge of the bed and threw off her high heels.
"I will never wear these again!" she said with disgust.
He sat beside her. "That's a wise choice. So, do you want something to drink?"
"Sure," she said as she looked up. "In fact, I have a bottle of something I got in Greece."
She Summoned two appropriately sized glasses from the kitchen and got the bottle out of her travel bag.
"Cheers!" she toasted as they touched glasses.
"What is this?" he asked after spitting the clear liquid out of his mouth.
She looked offended that he didn't like the drink she had shared. "It's ouzo."
"I've had ouzo before, Hermione, but this is horrid. It tastes like petrol!" He drank another shot of the clear alcohol to be sure that it did really taste like petrol. He hissed, but held out his glass. "Okay, give me another."
She laughed at him and poured another shot for them both.
"So how is everyone back home?" he asked conversationally.
"My parents are fine, and Harry's doing well. He's dating Luna Lovegood now. Who would have imagined that?" Hermione shook her head in disbelief.
"Stranger things have been known to happen. Did you and Ron ever get together?" Bill asked after taking another shot of ouzo.
"No, and can you believe Ron is with Pansy Parkinson now? That cow!" Hermione made several nasty faces at the thought of her Slytherin rival.
"I love my brother, but I can't vouch for his taste in women."
Hermione earnestly nodded her agreement and then asked, "What about you and Fleur?"
"She's with Charlie now. Maybe she got confused by all the red hair and picked the wrong Weasley." Bill shrugged it off and didn't look too upset about it.
"Sorry," she slurred. "Ginny?"
"Neville Longbottom," Bill said as he poked the air for emphasis.
"So what about Fred and George?" If they were going to talk about the couples in the family, they might as well do it properly.
"Fred and Angelina are together. Mum sent me an owl letting me know Angelina's preggers, and with twins, no less!" Bill laughed. "It's karma coming to bite Fred in the arse."
Hermione laughed with him. "Great! And George?"
Bill looked almost like he was blushing then, but he might have been red in the face because of the ouzo. "He and Lee have a nice flat in SoHo last I heard."
"George and Lee?" Hermione spilled the shot of ouzo that she was trying to drink. "I would have never thought it would have been George. Percy, maybe, but not George!"
Here Bill laughed. "Well, it's always the quiet ones! Percy has actually been doing a lot of dating. He's quite popular with the Ministry set. Supposedly he's good for a shag, not that I am going to top my own brother to find out!"
"That's disgusting, Bill!" she laughed as she playfully slapped him on the arm.
"I know!" He laughed so hard that tears filled his eyes.
They continued talking and laughing, but soon succumbed to sleep right where they were.
When Mary Frances returned from dancing with Ali-Reza she found both Hermione and Bill in his bed together with his arm draped possessively over her. As much as she was hoping for some potential romantic action for her friend, it was clear that nothing had happened. They were both fully clothed and sleeping on top of the bed.
She knocked lightly to let them know she was there. Bill heard the sound and woke up slowly. He sat up on the bed and held his hand to his forehead and groaned.
"Damned ouzo. It tastes like cat piss!" Bill declared.
Mary Frances laughed at him softly. "How would you know? Do you make it a regular habit to drink cat piss?"
He tried to glare at her, but found it hurt his head too much. Instead he got up and stumbled to his sofa so she could sleep in the bedroom.
"Goodnight, Mary Frances," he wished over his shoulder.
On Thursday morning the girls were left to their own devices without Bill or Ali-Reza.
"Did you have a good time with Ali-Reza last night?" Hermione asked as they were getting ready for a day trip to the Valley of the Kings.
Mary Frances smiled brightly. "Yes! I'll be having a good time with him tonight, too."
Hermione looked truly happy for her friend. "That's great."
"Yes," she beamed, "and what about you and Bill?"
Hermione mentally listed everything she could remember from last night. "I found out he's single and not dating that veela anymore."
"That's good to know! I mean, he was sleeping with his arm around you."
"What?" Hermione stopped dead in her tracks.
Mary Frances gave her a look full of mischief. "When I came home last night, both of you were asleep on the bed-fully clothed, unfortunately, so it didn't look like anything really interesting happened."
Hermione gave her a look of disbelief.
"Yes," her friend said, "and his arm was around you, and he was snuggled up tight. So if he's single, you'd better do something about that while you can. It's like my Canadian friends say: 'You snooze; you lose.'"
If Hermione were given to frivolity, this would be the moment for it. The idea that Bill had slept most of the night with his arm wrapped around her made her feel positively giddy. She was in such the distracted mood that she could barely think straight to enjoy the Valley of the Kings. She was a disciplined person, though, so she didn't let thoughts of Bill become all-consuming. Hermione did, however, wish to spend the evening with him when she and Mary Frances were done.
Bill was not in his flat when they returned. Mary Frances quickly readied for her date with Ali-Reza and left Hermione alone. Instead of waiting in the flat idly, Hermione went again to the cafe where they had gone on Monday and indulged in another serving of baklava and coffee.
When she came back, she found Bill hunched over more work at his table. He looked so cramped and uncomfortable that Hermione went immediately over to him and without asking permission, started rubbing his shoulders. He moved his shoulders and rolled his neck as she was touching him. While her hands were on Bill, she took the opportunity again to play with his long hair.
When she had finished her ministrations, he stretched his arms above his head and then reached backwards behind him to give Hermione a strange sort of hug. "Thank you," he said softly.
"You're welcome," she said as she smiled down on him.
He looked up at her and observed, "You went and had more baklava."
"Yes. How did you know?"
Bill smiled and touched the corner of his mouth, indicating to her that she had some telltale sign of it in the same place on her face. "I've told you, Hermione. Their baklava is good, but I have had better. I'll have to get you some before you leave."
Bill stood up to stretch the rest of his body. "What are your plans for this evening?"
"I don't have any, but Mary Frances is out again with Ali-Reza."
An idea came to Bill suddenly. "If you want to go out dancing again, I'll buy you a new pair of shoes. If that's what you really want to do, I'd be happy to get them for you."
She blushed at his kindness. "No, Bill! I couldn't possibly accept."
He looked at her directly in the eyes. "Are you sure?"
"Yes! I was actually thinking of doing something else. I heard there was a laser light show by the Sphinx."
He licked his lips as he thought, then suggested, "Why don't you do that on Saturday night? Then the four of us could all go together."
"Fine. I don't really need to do anything tonight anyway."
"How about this," he suggested. "Let me finish this work I have, and then we can go to this jazz club I know for a quick drink."
"Sure! That sounds great."
"But, Hermione," he said with a warning tone in his voice, "no ouzo!"
He finished quickly and took her to the club that was only a few blocks away from his flat. They listened the music being played by the trio on stage while enjoying a drink and trading stories about their day. It felt as easy for Hermione to talk to Bill as it was for her to talk to Ron or Harry.
When they were done there, they took an easy stroll home. Upon entering the flat, Mary Frances was already there sleeping.
"Maybe her shoes are starting to wear out, too," he jokingly said to Hermione.
She laughed in response and then bid him goodnight.
The next two days passed in a rush. Hermione and Mary Frances had taken yet another day trip on Friday, and they went to Luxor Palace. The evening had a date for Mary Frances and Ali-Reza with Hermione left to Bill's company. He took her to see a black and white movie with a stunning story. Briefly in the dark he held her hand, but Hermione didn't dare hope it signified more than Bill's easy friendship.
On Saturday both Bill and Ali-Reza were occupied with work, but they were finished by mid-day. In the afternoon they went to an outdoor play. Bill provided Hermione with the translation of any parts she did not understand. In the evening they went to see the laser light show at the Sphinx.
The lights showed across the plain, so it was a treat to see it. It seemed so much of a tourist thing to do that Bill had not gone to it before.
"It's breathtaking," Hermione gasped in appreciation.
Bill looked at her instead of at the lights and agreed completely. "Yes, it is."
When they walked away at the end of the night, Bill had his arm around Hermione's shoulder guiding her least she should stumble. Ali-Reza begged Mary Frances to accompany him once more, and she accepted with a giggle. She waved goodbye to Bill and Hermione and went to whatever adventure they had planned.
Upon entering the flat, Hermione immediately sat down on the sofa. Before long she was falling asleep while sitting upright. Bill sat beside her and nudged her.
"Go to bed, Hermione," he said softly.
"And you?" she asked.
"I have something to do before I go to sleep," Bill said before he stood up and kissed her forehead.
Hermione sighed at his kiss and then sleepily walked to the bed.
She woke up late on Sunday morning, the last full day that she would be in Egypt with Bill. Maybe she didn't want to wake up so she could pretend her visit would last longer, but her practical mind took over. If she slept away the day, she wouldn't be able to spend any time with him at all.
When she walked out into the main room, she saw Bill in the kitchen putting items into a covered basket.
"Where's Mary Frances?" she asked with a yawn.
"She's with Ali-Reza, of course. I don't think she came back last night."
Hermione looked worried.
Bill noticed and said, "Don't fret. They're getting along splendidly. He already has plans to visit her in Spain. So while they are busy, it is up to us to entertain ourselves today."
"There isn't really anything I want to do. I feel so over-stimulated, I can't choose."
"I have it under control. Let's go for a picnic in the park. It's a lovely day to enjoy being out in the weather and relaxing." He smiled winningly to her across the room.
She agreed and soon they were on their way to the park. Before they got there, Bill stopped in a bakery, and he bought some wine at another shop. While at the park, Bill spread a large blanket out on the ground and revealed the assortment of food in the basket. There were several of Hermione's favorites, but he saved the best for last. He pushed a small cardboard box in her direction.
"What is it?" She eyed both him and the box.
"You'll never know if you don't open it," he teased.
Hermione untied the thread that held the box closed. Inside was a delicately prepared example of baklava. Her mouth started watering in anticipation as she looked at it. She portioned some for Bill and then for herself.
It was love at first bite as she tasted it. This must have been that better baklava that he had told her about.
"Oh, this is so good it's sinful!" Hermione murmured while devouring her portion.
"I'm glad you like it," Bill smiled indulgently back at her.
"Did you buy this at that bakery?" She was licking her fingers in delight, even if it wasn't the best example of manners that her parents had taught her.
"No. I made that." Bill nodded at the remains of the delicious dessert.
"No!" she said in disbelief at first, followed by, "Really?"
He nodded nonchalantly. "I told you I was a wizard in the kitchen."
"You are!" she praised.
"And in the bedroom. And everywhere else," he humorously listed.
"Bill Weasley, do your talents never end?" she asked, still in amazement.
"No. I am that good!" he chuckled.
Upon finishing the rest of their lunch, Bill leaned back to the ground with his elbows supporting him at right angles. He stared off at the distance with a pleasant smile on his face as he watched the people in the park. There were young and old, healthy and infirm, mothers and children, lovers, people walking their animals, people rushing to and fro even on Sunday, and a number of other varieties of humanity.
"What are you doing, Bill?"
"People watching. I find it infinitely interesting how different yet the same we all are." His voice trailed off as he mused. "Of course, solid powers of observation are vital in my work. I'd be a dead wizard many times over if I didn't know what was happening around me."
Hermione looked at his profile and again admired his face. He was handsome without being intimidating or untouchable. Still she liked him best with his hair falling free, so she gave in to temptation and took out his ponytail again.
He looked at her with his changing hazel eyes. "Why have you continually tried to undo my hair this week?"
"I don't know why. I just like it." She blushed and tried to cover up her embarrassment.
When a moment of silence had passed, she thought it better to tell him the truth. "That's not really true. Actually, I think it looks beautiful when it is free like that."
"You mean effeminate," he said with a snort. Bill knew perfectly well what his mother thought on the subject of his long hair.
"No! It's not effeminate at all. It's like the mane of a regal lion, and it looks so good on you." The awe she'd been feeling resonated clearly in her voice.
Bill chuckled and reached over to muss Hermione's hair. "If I have a mane of a lion, you must be the lioness with this wild bush of hair."
"I must like you, Bill, because I wouldn't normally let someone tease me like that and live to tell about it." She was laughing at him and then stopped when she realized how close their faces were.
"You don't like me well enough, Hermione," he teased back.
"Why do you say that?" she asked with a worried tone.
"Because you haven't tried even once to kiss me yet. You're supposed to be a modern woman. You can make the first move, you know."
She was completely taken by surprise. "Well, maybe I am a traditionalist!"
He shrugged, saying, "If you wish."
Bill leaned over and brushed his lips softly against Hermione's, teasing her with the barest touch. When she began to respond to him, he pulled away while his kissing lips formed into a smile. She decided to forego the teasing and kiss him hard. She suckled on his lower lip until Bill opened his mouth to caress hers with his tongue.
It was a wonderful kiss in Hermione's opinion, and she didn't want it to stop. If she kissed him the rest of the day and all the way up until she had to leave for Spain, that would be perfectly acceptable to her. She was severely disappointed when Bill stopped and pulled her away from him.
"I just have to ask you one thing to be absolutely and completely sure."
"What? Ask me!" Hermione was disoriented and it showed.
"Have you ever kissed Ron?" His eyes searched hers.
"Well, sure," she said and noticed how immediately disappointed Bill looked. "But only on the cheek and never like this."
"Good! I don't like competing with my brothers, especially for a woman's attention. Been there; done that."
As he said it, Hermione thought of Fleur and Charlie. Well Bill certainly didn't have anything to worry about with her and Ron. He would always be her dearest and best friend, not boyfriend or lover or anything else.
"There is no competition, Bill." Hermione blushed prettily as he smiled at her again.
Bill released her and was again in his relaxing pose, leaning on his elbows while watching the people. Hermione, on the other hand, was extremely desirous to be kissing him again. The corners of his mouth were twitching with mischief as he was making her wait.
"Hermione?" he finally asked her slowly.
"Grrr!" he playfully said as he pounced on her and proceeded to kiss her more than he had the first time. He held her head in his left hand and with his right he let his fingers explore. Bill didn't cross the line of propriety because they were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing his throat.
Ali-Reza was standing above them holding the hand of Mary Frances who was smiling so widely it felt like her face was going to fall off.
"It's nice to see things are going so well!" she said to them with pride.
"I knew it was only a matter of time," Ali-Reza smiled at them.
Hermione reached over to hug Bill happily before smiling up at the pair. She then drew the blanket over their shoulders to cover them and continued kissing Bill, unashamed in front of the eyes of their friends that watched them.
The rest of the day was spent in similar manner. In realizing that the feelings were mutual, Bill and Hermione were touching each other with hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling and many other varieties of physical contact that the newly in love offer each other. The time rushed away from them, and soon enough it was Monday and time for the girls to leave.
Bill and Ali-Reza accompanied Hermione and Mary Frances on Monday morning to their port of exit to say their goodbyes. Each couple separated to themselves for the opportunity for a more personal farewell.
"Hermione," Bill whispered to her after several kisses, "gracias por visitarme. Ha sido estupendo."
"Gracias," she said with surprise. "So you've decided to learn Spanish?"
"No, it's a translation charm I bought just in case I have a good reason to go to Spain." Bill paused and looked at her. "Do I have a reason, Hermione?"
"¡Sí, por supuesto!" she cried out in happiness.
"Entonces... besame. Besame suavecito, sin prisa y con calma."
Kissing she could do. "Con mucho gusto," she answered him before kissing him all over.
With the possibility of Bill coming to visit her in Spain, her next university term was already off to a smashing start. More importantly, it meant that her connection with Bill was more than a summer fling. Unlike anything that had happened with anyone before him, this relationship had the possibility to be lasting. She finally stepped away from him and waved shyly before leaving.
At Hermione's side, Mary Frances whispered, "I was right, you know."
"About what?" Hermione asked without taking her eyes off Bill.
Her friend poked her in the ribs as she said, "That curse breaker broke through your defenses!"
"Yes, he did!" Hermione said as she beamed in complete satisfaction.
Gracias por visitarme. Ha sido estupendo. = Thank you for visiting me. It was great/stupendous.
¡Sí, por supuesto! = Yes, of course!
Entonces... besame. Besame suavecito, sin prisa y con calma. =
Then... kiss me. Kiss me smoothy, calmly without rushing. [Also a direct lyrics quote of Elvis Crespo's "Suavemente".]
Con mucho gusto = With much enjoyment