The kettle boiled and a bleary eyed witch shuffled into the kitchen. As she placed a tea-bag into her mug she glanced up at the clock. It wasn't an ordinary clock, but like an ordinary clock, it had two hands. However instead of indicating the time, it read the location of the inhabitants of the apartment.
Ronald Weasley was 'OUT'.
"Nothing new there" Hermione muttered to herself as she poured the boiling water into the mug. She pulled back the sleeve of her dressing-gown and her watch told her it was four in the morning. Hermione added milk to her tea and made her way into the living room curling up in her favourite armchair that had once belonged to her father. She sipped absentmindedly at her tea and her pet kneazle, Crookshanks, leapt lightly onto her lap.
Then she heard him, like she did every morning. The heavy footsteps in the corridor, fumbling, the dropping on keys, and the loud swearing. She finally heard the key entering the lock and turning, she braced herself for what was coming next.
In the entrance, a tall man with flaming red hair half fell through the door and tried to regain his posture. He looked up and noticed Hermione in the living-room, she noticed his bloodshot eyes, his half undone shirt, and a suspicious looking mark on his neck.
"Oh…" he slurred "Hermione, whatcha doin' at this bloody time?"
"I could ask you the same question Ronald" she replied curtly "but I doubt you would give me an honest answer"
"Oh come on 'mione, you know how it goes, we had to follow some new tracks, finished late, and then we went for a drink in the Leakey Cauldron before heading home"
This was a story that Hermione had heard many times, at first she had believed it and felt outraged that the Ministry of Magic, and the Head of the Auror Deparment, who also happened to be her best-friend, had been working her husband so hard.
She also had believed his innocence every time a new story appeared in the Daily Prophet, witches claiming the have spent the night with the "Chosen One's Best Friend". She had believed it because at the beginning Harry Potter, her best-friend and head of the aurora department had also been subjected to these obscene accusations. He had supposedly been with women on nights where he, his wife Ginny, Ron and Hermione had been out for dinner together, so Hermione knew he had never been unfaithful to Ginny and thought Ron was just as faithful.
As time passed on the stories about Harry Potter stopped appearing in the newspaper, and the stories about Ron became almost a weekly publication, and Ron had constantly came home in the early hours of the morning, smelling of Fire-Whisky and cheap perfume and at times, in what Hermione considered an insult to her intelligence, with his shirt inside out.
But the last few weeks were slightly different, Ron Weasley had come back smelling of the same expensive perfume, Hermione had noticed and she knew that this was no longer serial-cheating, there was another woman he was regularly seeing.
"Was Harry with you?" Asked Hermione, in a casual tone, whilst stirring her tea.
"Yeah of course" said Ron, trying his hardest to not slur his words.
"Funny" said Hermione looking up at him and looking him straight in the eye, "Harry and Ginny both came over at eight o'clock saying they were going out for dinner and asking whether we would like to join them since you all finished work early today"
"Oh… well… 'mione" Ron started stuttering looking at his feet
"Let me finish Ronald" Hermione cut him off curtly "I do not care if you are out, getting drunk to forget the war, because trust me, I haven't forgotten it either and it still haunts me. What I do care about is that you have not been faithful to this marriage for over two years and that last night, my best friends saw me as a naive fool thanks to you."
"I haven't done any-" he started angrily
"Oh Ronald Please" she got up and Crookshanks dropped to the floor, standing beside her master " Do not insult my intelligence, inside out shirts, the lipstick I have to clean off those shirts, the stench of female perfume. Plus you might have wanted to apply a glamour spell on your neck."
"You're barking mad" Ron said, throwing his coat onto the sofa and making his way towards the bedroom "you're just looking for an excuse to end this"
"WHAT?" Hermione felt like someone had hid her with a stunning spell "THIS IS MY FAULT?!"
"You have no proof of anything Hermione, all you do is accuse me of being unfaithful so that you don't have to come anywhere near me anymore" Ron continued, turning around the face her in the dimly lit hallway of their apartment.
"You want proof!?" Hermione spat at him "Give me your wand"
"What in Merli-"
"Your wand Ronald Weasley, NOW"
He threw the wand at her and she caught it. She held the tip of her wand to his and said clearly "Prior Incantato". Her heart was beating fast, she prayed that she was wrong. That Ron was right and that all of this was her just being paranoid. Her face fell and she threw his wand back at him.
"So, how long has it been since you and I slept together?" She asked him
"What the ruddy hell is that for a quest-" he started, looking confused
"I remember it being at least a month" she said cooly " which is why I don't understand why the last spell your wand produced was a contraceptive spell, plus, you know I take a contraceptive potion so you have never needed to use that spell"
And then there was silence, a silence so eery and heavy that Hermione felt like a heavy weight had been placed upon her chest, making it harder to breath. After what seemed like an eternity she look at her husband and broke the silence.
"Who is she?" She said
"No one" Ron replied "I'm going to bed, I need to be at work in a few hours. We can speak tomorrow"
"No Ronald" she whispered, slowly advancing on him, her wand clenched in her fist " we are not going to speak tomorrow. I am your wife and you owe me an explanation right now"
"My wife?!" He laughed "You called yourself a wife Hermione? Tell me when's the last time you cooked a proper meal? When's the last time you looked after me or gave a rat's ass about me Hermione?!"
Hermione felt like someone had just slapped her across the face and a boiling hot anger started to rise inside of her, it had been there, lying dormant for months but this was too much, she wasn't holding it in anymore.
"Ron, it seems you are unable to tell the difference between a mother and a wife" she said still taking slow, small steps towards him "feeding you three full meals a day, caring for you when you're ill, your mother did that for you, and I am NOT your mother"
"DON'T YOU DARE" Ron roared
"You want to know what I did for you Ronald? I saved your arse more times that I can count, thanks to me you got semi-decent results at school which allowed you to become an auror. I stood beside you through the war, I loved you when the world was crumbling down around us. I tried to help you get over the trauma we both lived, and I married you, remember?"
she flicked her wand and a picture soared through the flat towards them and hovered in front of Ron who looked gobsmacked.
"Remember our wedding day?" Hermione continued not stopping for breath "I didn't promise be your house-elf, I promised to love you through thick and thin and I have. I have turned a blind eye too many times, I, the girl who was described as the brightest witch of her age, was made to look like an absolute idiot for you and what did you do?"
she flicked her wand again and the frame and glass exploded. Ron let out a strangled yell and dropped to the floor, his arms covering his face.
"That's what you did to me" she said and strode down the corridor and into their bedroom.
Without thinking she grabbed a bag and started piling clothes into it. It was as if her body had taken control and her mind had no say. She went into the bathroom, grabbed all her make-up, tooth-brush and hair brush. She stepped back into the corridor and looked her the man who she had married. The man she thought she would grow old with and the man who would father her children.
He sat there, in the middle of the somber hallway staring at the shards of glass and the pieces of photograph surrounding him. Tears streaking down his freckled face, he put his head in his hands. Hermione could see his back heaving. He was crying.
Normally, Hermione would have wanted to go and comfort him, put an arm around him and tell him that they would find a way. But she couldn't. The sight of him made her nauseous and their apartment seemed smaller than ever, and she felt like she was suffocating. She walked down the hallway and bent over to pick up Crookshanks, who had run away and been hiding under her armchair.
She straightened up and walked towards the front door, stopping only to place a golden ring with ruby on a table beside the front door. Inside the ring read the words, "Forever and Always"