Story: Starting Over
Synopsis: Hermione and Ron's marriage fails after the miscarriage of their first child. Several months later she is given the chance to try and start over. Will she take it? Can a new love mend the pain of an old one, or are there some scars that never heal?
Disclaimer: I am not profiting from this story. Anything you recognize belongs to the great and mighty JKR.
Warning: Late term pregnancy loss, scenes of a sexual nature, mild violence
Chapter One: A New Neighbor
The moving boxes outside of the apartment next to Hermione's were no reason for alarm at first glance. Her neighbour, the elderly lady who had brought her cookies and bottles of wine for the first six months of her stay in her flat as a result of her late nights up crying had left the flat in favour of a bedroom in her son's home. Hermione had been expecting a new neighbour for nearly two weeks, so the sight of the boxes was actually more cause for interest than concern.
She first laid eyes on them after her morning trip down to the lobby to grab her post and saw nothing out of the ordinary. She watched as a man appeared in the hall with a box in hand, ignored her presence, and walked inside the open door. She waited for him to return empty handed and watched as he disappeared again. She was familiar with this fashion of 'mover' now. It was humourous to think of a truck trying to make it's way down Diagon Alley to their building, so the 'movers' used Apparition to get the job done in the wizarding world.
Hermione watched for a few minutes hoping to catch sight of her new neighbour but was unsuccessful. After walking into her own flat, she sat at the counter in her kitchen as she read through her mail and ate her breakfast. There was nothing of interest in the stack of bills or her copy of The Daily Prophet. She flipped through the paper, scanning for any news that seemed important, but it was a slow day. None of the golden trio had made the paper that day. She liked it that way. She'd had enough adventure for several lifetimes. Once she had finished reading, she cleaned her plate and cup and put them both away in the cupboard. She gathered her bag and coat and headed towards the door to leave for work at the Ministry of Magic where she was in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
When she pulled the front door open, Hermione was startled by the sight that greeted her. A man was standing in her doorway, hand raised as if he was about to knock on her door. His mouth had fallen open, she assumed in shock as hers had done much the same thing for that very reason. As she watched, some of his blonde hair fell down to just above his grey eyes. His hand fell back to his side.
"I thought you married Weasley. Shouldn't you be in that hovel of a thing they call a house?" he asked her, and she felt her nose upturn at his drawl. She knew her eyes had narrowed, and her lips were pursed as she watched him.
Hermione shut the door to her apartment behind her. She didn't even like talking about the life she used to have with Harry, Ginny, Neville, or Luna. She certainly wasn't going to get into it with Draco Malfoy when she knew very well that he must have read about it in the papers or heard the gossip. Their divorce had hardly been a quiet affair. "Can I help you with something?" she asked as he took a step backward to make the space between them more acceptable.
"No, I was just trying to meet my neighbour, Weasley." She closed her eyes briefly as he threw the past at her again.
"It's Granger. So, does this mean that is you moving in next door?" She did not change her tone from the monotonous wave it had taken on.
"It does indeed ... Granger," he said, placing a significant emphasis on her name. Hermione forced a tight smile.
"Well, isn't that just wonderful. It will be just like old times back at Hogwarts." She moved past him to the place where his movers had been appearing this morning.
Hermione continued down the stairs to the lobby of their building and straight over to the fireplace. She quickly grabbed a pinch of floo powder and cried, "Ministry of Magic." Hermione walked out into the morning rush of people hurrying to work. She smiled kindly at a few people who greeted her and headed for the atrium, which she took the fourth level. She walked swiftly to her office to find her assistant had not yet arrived. Hermione unlocked her office and stepped inside, closing the door behind her again, locking it from the inside. She fell back against it and took several long, deep breaths.
It had been a year since anyone had called her Weasley. Her divorce had been plastered across every Wizarding newsprint she knew of. The intentional jab hurt more than she would have imagined, especially coming from him. She hadn't seen Malfoy since before … before she had lost Rose.
Hermione placed her palm over her stomach as silent tears rolled down her cheeks, imaging what it had felt like nearly two years ago when it had been swelled with her child. She had carried their daughter for seven months, done everything the right way, read every book, but it had been in vain. She had slipped on stairs, fallen, and everything had changed.
At first, they thought everything was fine, but Ron insisted they go see the healer at St. Mungo's. He had given them-them the terrible, life-changing news with a wave of his wand. She had watched as his smile became a frown as his face had fallen. Hermione could never, as long as she lived, imagine another pain as cruel and heartbreaking as giving birth to her lifeless child. Now, try as she might, she couldn't imagine her stomach swelled with the extra weight of a child. She used to be able to see it clearly, but it seemed as distant as her dreams.
She had left Ron. They had tried, but …
Something had been broken. They turned away from each other when they should have been relying on each other. She could still remember the day that her divorce had been finalised. She had gone down to grab the post like she did every morning, and the small details on the envelope had made it clear it was the papers she had been expecting from the Ministry for over a week. It was addressed to her full name. It was clearly marked with two stamps promoting that the package was 'confidential' and 'urgent.' Her lawyer's name was in the corner as the sender.
She had ripped the seal and there they were. The pieces of parchment that would end her marriage to her best friend. It had been sixty-eight days since she had sent her intent to the Ministry and they had been able to get the process rushed because they were high profile and Hermione had already moved out by that point. It had been pure hell.
After that, Ron had kept their flat in London and she had taken the sofa. How could Draco Malfoy even begin to imagine what her life had been life the past few years or how much his words would shake her to her core? With a heavy sigh, Hermione wiped at her face, waved her wand to clear the tears, and unlocked the door to her office.
It was twelve thirty that same day when Hermione looked up to see Harry leaning against her door frame and staring at her intently. "How are you today?" he asked and she shrugged.
"I have a new neighbour. I think you know him. Goes by ferret to his good friends." She looked back down at her work and waited for Harry to remember the event to which she was referring and then listened as his laughter filled the room.
"That's horrible, Hermione," he said as he walked over to her desk. He sat atop it, right next to her and handed her an envelope. She eyed it uneasily and took it with the same reluctance. She put the letter in a drawer at the bottom of the right side of her desk and ignored it as it fell atop the rest of the identical, unopened letters also hidden there. "This is just the thought of an old has been Chosen One, but perhaps you should open one."
"No. I can't do that." She told him simply, and he accepted her rejection with the air of someone who had taken this response many times before. "So, is Ginny going to make it today?" she asked as she pushed away from her desk and grabbed her purse. He shook his head and held the door open for her.
"Just you and me," he said. They walked out of the room together as Harry's head bobbed to invisible music only he could hear. She remembered being that happy once and was instantly happy for and jealous of her best friend. He had two sons now. James and Albus, who Ginny had been pregnant with when she had lost Rosie. They were the most precious little godsons she could have asked for, but she had already sensed a bit of a troublesome quality in James. Apparently George had also discovered this quality and began to produce toddler safe trouble making items. Ginny had put her foot down and told him that James wasn't to touch a single one until he was, at least, three years old, but this didn't really stop George from trying to entice his nephew.
"How's Ron?" Hermione asked Harry as they sat down to eat.
Harry let out a sigh and a shrug. "I don't know. Same, I suppose. He's got good days and bad, same as you."
"Ginny said he's seeing someone," she told him bluntly. She hadn't asked Ginny who it was, but she couldn't help but want to know.
Harry suddenly looked uneasy. "Yeah, he is. It's odd really, he's been out with Lavender a few times."
"I guess he never got over that wonderful emotional connection they shared back in sixth year," Hermione said sarcastically as they looked over their menus.
Harry shrugged again but didn't speak. He always waited for her to end this part of the conversation. He never supplied her a way out.
"How are the boys?" She asked finally a few minutes later after they had placed their orders.
"You mean since you saw them four days ago?" They both laughed, but he answered her question anyway. "They are great. Ginny's exhausted, I'm exhausted, James is a crazy energy machine. Too bad he can't loan us some every once in awhile. Albus is so quiet, calm, calculating. He's a nice break from the chaos of his older brother. So, what is this neighbour business? Is it really Malfoy?"
"Yes. It's Malfoy. I just saw him on my way to work and the conversation wasn't exactly thrilling or inviting, but it wasn't nearly as awful as it could have been," she told him reflecting on their morning chat. "He mentioned our divorce. I do wonder why it is he's moved into my apartment building of all places though."
"I heard from Neville that he and Pansy Parkinson split recently. He probably wanted a place near the bank."
"I forgot he's working for them now," Hermione admitted, a bit ashamed at this forgotten knowledge. "What exactly is it he does for them?" She asked and watched Harry shrugged yet again.
"Runs the Ministry accounts, but I only know that cuz I have to deal with him over them. He's pretty quiet about most things these days. I know he and Parkinson split cuz Hannah was working at the Leaky and Pansy was in for a drink with Daphne Greengrass and Malfoy came in and went nuts. Apparently she'd been cheating on him for a while and he'd just found out. That's gotta be rough. Outside of that, if I didn't know him better I'd suspect a change of heart in him, but we both know that's next to impossible." Harry laughed loudly.
"I'll second that." Hermione agreed, remembering the way he'd rubbed her name in that very morning.
When Hermione returned home that evening she paused for a single moment at her door to look at the one next to it. It didn't seem to be hiding any dark evil force, but it was possible that Draco Malfoy was standing behind that very door at that very moment staring into the corridor at her.
At the thought, she hurried to place her wand against her door and opened it. When she walked into the room she took in the familiar scene of her home and felt the rush of loneliness that always seemed to swallow her after the door shut behind her.
Her thoughts moved back to Ron and she immediately chided herself. They had been divorced for a year, separated for more than that, and she had left him. It was acceptable that he was dating. It was nearly unacceptable that she wasn't. Ginny and Luna were constantly bothering her about it. It wasn't that she didn't have some nice offers, after all, she was Hermione Granger. She had helped save the world nine years ago. She was the most brilliant witch of her age. She wasn't a beauty, but she was pretty in her own right.
She had offers sure enough, but none of them seemed right. It hadn't been that way with Ron. With Ron, she'd always known. She knew for years that they were meant to be before she'd kissed him over discarded basilisk fangs during that fateful battle at Hogwarts. It had been an inevitable force that had thrust them together, and now she could never have that again. Truth be told she was terrified of dating. She didn't really think she would be any good at it, and she doubted that she could ever be serious with anyone the way she was with Ron. She certainly didn't want any more children. Most men she knew that were serious about pursuing her wanted the whole package. Hermione Granger no longer had the whole package she had a broken heart, a lonely soul, and a bitter womb. Who would ever want to love that?
A/N: This is an old story of mine that I started in 2007. I've edited it quite a bit and I'm reposting. I have 10 chapters done and I'm still working on it, but I want time to work on Out of the Dark also, which is the sequel to my story Amortentia which I will be wrapping up this week, so I'll be posting a chapter once a week on Thursdays or Fridays for this story depending on my schedule each week. I'm a little crazy and impatient, so expect updates more on Thursdays than Fridays!
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Thanks for reading.