Disclaimer: I hereby declare that my name does not even resemble Joanne K. Rowling. In fact, I'm not even English. Heck, I'm not even HUMAN. Okey, scratch that last part...
Chapter 1 / The End
"I ... I don't love you any more."
The words echoed eerily throughout the room and a pair of chocolate eyes widened in horror as the words pounced their way into her ears. She threw her arms protectively over her chest, her mouth hanging slightly open as she panted heavily. The fight had exhausted her. She had thrown and received so many insults and accusations that she was physically exhausted and now he had thrown her the last agonizing blow. He had won, and she knew it.
She felt hot tears threaten to spill, and even if it was in no way logical, she didn't want him to see her hurt. Giving him a glare of pure loathing, she turned on her heel and bounced up the stairs.
"Hermione," he called after her, but she just burst into their bedroom with anger pulsating from every inch of her being.
Her suitcase was resting under their bed and she dragged it out with such force that she nearly tumbled backwards as it came shooting out. She regained her step and threw it forcefully on the bed. He came to a halt in the doorway when she began throwing her clothes into the suitcase. Hermione Granger never threw anything, and least of all her clothes. They were always meticulously folded and carefully placed on top of each other, whether in a suitcase or a wardrobe. But right now they were strewn all over the space of the suitcase, which had been magically enhanced to room more.
"Hermione, I had to say something..." he said in a hushed voice.
She gave him no notice. Instead, she had begun rounding up her books from every corner of the room, and brushed past him to find her belongings from anywhere else in the house.
"When you said you weren't pregnant, I was relieved," he said as he followed closely on her heel. He saw her freeze up for a moment before she strode into living room of their apartment. "I knew deep down... that this isn't right any more."
She closed her eyes in pain for a second and her shaking hands fumbled through the bookshelf in the far corner of the living room. They had tried to get pregnant for four months, but with no luck. Their last attempt had resulted in a negative test only three days prior. She had been heartbroken, he had been relieved. Her heart was throbbing painfully in her chest at the realisation, and for the first time in many months she thanked God for not bringing a child into the whole situation. The whole messy situation.
He continued to follow her around the apartment and back up the stairs as she dumped it all in her suitcase. His excuses rang in her ears, making her want to scream out to make it stop. They were all excuses for why and how, but there were no apologies and no regrets on her behalf. She knew he regretted having to go through this fight, she could tell it made him uncomfortable. But he did not regret any hurt he had caused her. That's when she realised she was not his top priority, and she might not have been for a long time.
"Were there someone else?" she asked suddenly, her voice surprisingly firm.
He was taken aback by her sudden question, and perhaps more so by the coldness in her voice. It was a tone he had not heard her use in a long time, not even towards people she didn't get along with. She was always polite and pleasant when she spoke, always intent on making a good impression no matter who she spoke to. He remained standing with his mouth opening and closing, knowing that the answer would make things even worse.
"Answer me," she hissed in a voice trembling with anger.
Her eyes snapped shut as she felt her insides grow completely cold. She had done nothing but love him ever since the day he had finally kissed her during their 7th year at Hogwarts. All through the war, all through the consequences of war, she had loved him. She had loved him dearly and passionately, and God help her she still did. But when she opened her eyes she realised the man before her wasn't who she had fallen in love with. Her lips perched into a thin line as her thoughts battled intensely in her mind. He wasn't who she had fallen for, but she knew she still loved him and she knew damn well that this had crushed her.
"For how long?" she asked in the same chilly voice that sent chills down his spine.
He watched her carefully, taking in the curls that seemed to have taken on a life of their own at the moment, taking in her closed up expression and finally he met a pair of stony, brown eyes that normally emitted so much enthusiasm and joy for life. He swallowed heavily, knowing he was the one who had put out the light in them.
"You don't want to know the details. Please, don't do this to yourself," he begged, reaching out for her.
The movement towards her, his attempt to sooth her, made her hiss like a wounded stray cat, and he snapped his hand back immediately.
"You are going to tell me right now." She bit as she threw the lid on her suitcase shut.
"Fucking bastard," she spat, her eyes once again welling with tears. "You were shagging someone else before we decided to try to have a baby? You wanted to bring a child into this train wreck of a relationship?!"
He looked down in shame, his hands fidgeting slightly by his side. "That was a big mistake, and I realise that"
"Did you bring her here?" she suddenly asked, her eyes resting on their king size bed.
He swallowed noticeably, and when his eyes met hers she didn't need any verbal answer.
"Oh my God," she spat in disgust.
With that, her final walls crumbled and she let out a heart wrenched sob as she dragged her suitcase off the bed and began descending the stairs with slight difficulty. Her eyes were blurred, her body was trembling with hurt and anger and her suitcase was heavy from all her belongings.
"Hermione, please," he said in a pained voice. "I never meant to hurt you, I..."
"Oh that's rich," she said and gave a distorted laugh, a laugh so bitter it pierced right through his skin. "You never meant to hurt me? You carried on a relationship for 6 months, you had her in our bed and then you agreed to have a child with me."
Her voice was growing steadily louder, and he was flinching from several of her words. He had known this would be difficult, but he hadn't quite predicted how hard it was to know he had caused her this pain.
"I may not love you like a lover any more, but I still love you as a friend," he said quietly. "Please forgive me, Hermione. I need you as a friend."
She looked at him in utter disbelief.
"You have stabbed me so thoroughly in the back that any hope of saving this friendship is so far beyond reach," she said harshly, though not in an attempt to hurt. She was merely telling the truth.
"Please, Hermione. I've known you for practically my entire life!" he begged.
"Right now I can't see you. Or hear you. Or even be remotely near you."
He swallowed again as he watched her standing in the middle of their living room, clutching her suitcase with her slender fingers. He noticed her knuckles were white from her iron grip.
She felt the tears blur her vision again, and when a sudden urge to hex him into next year came over her, she grabbed a fistful of Floo powder and stepped into the fireplace.
"Fuck you, Ron."
And with those final words of goodbye, she left behind a relationship she had invested everything in; all of her hopes and dreams, her future, her love, her care, her work and her entire being. And he had taken it all, soaked it in before he threw it on the floor and stomped all over it. Her tears ran freely down her cheeks as she tumbled out of the fireplace with her suitcase in tow.
"Hermione!" someone squeaked in surprise.
She remained rooted to the spot by the fireplace, still clutching her suitcase as if her life depended on it. Ginny sprung up from her couch when she saw Hermione's miserable appearance. Her eyes darted to the suitcase, and they widened when realization hit her hard.
"What happened?" she asked in disbelief as she came darting towards her friend, who was now shivering madly.
Hermione let out a great sob and wondered if her knees would keep her standing for long. She covered her eyes with her free hand, and sobbed repeatedly. Ginny's small arms reached around her and held her firmly, and she whispered soothing words in her ear. When Hermione forced herself to straighten up and open her eyes, she saw Harry standing completely stunned in the doorway.
"He had her in our bed," she said, shock and incredible hurt hitting her mercilessly yet again.
The other two stared at her with their mouths open, looking like someone had just slapped them across the face. Tears welled up in Ginny's eyes, and she turned to Harry with a horror-stricken expression decorating her features.
"Ron's been seeing someone else?" she asked in a hushed, weary voice.
Hermione gave a jerky nod, and the ragged breath that followed emphasized how much it pained her to admit, and the redhead strengthened the hold around her shoulders.
A slight yelp escaped Ginny's lips and she clapped the free hand over her mouth. Hermione knew Ginny had thought, or at least hoped, it had been a one night stand. A one night stand could be excused, or at least somewhat understood and explained, but a conscious choice to continue an adulterous relationship for 6 months was something entirely different.
"But you were trying to..." Ginny's voice trailed off into nothingness as she cast a desperate look at Harry.
The muscles around his mouth was tense, and she could see him grind his teeth even if he was standing several feet away. Hermione knew it was an awkward position. He was both of their friends, and Ginny was Ron's sister. She couldn't expect them to take sides in this, yet she desperately wanted them to. She wanted them to hate him as much as she did right now, but it would not happen. They had other ties to him than she did.
"Yes, we were," she confirmed. "And his affair started before we decided on it."
Her voice was bitter, and she heard it so well herself. It lashed out into the room, leaving an uncomfortable silence in its wake.
"But thank God, I'm not pregnant," she hissed. "What the hell would he have done if I was?!"
Before she could stop herself, she had banged her fist onto her suitcase, and the meeting with the handle sent ripples of pain through her. When she looked up, she saw Harry's face contort in anger.
"The son of a bitch," he growled, and before she could reply or even think straight he had turned with a slick motion and vanished with a pop.
Ginny's eyes rested anxiously on the spot her boyfriend had just disappeared from. "Oh my..."
Hermione was not less surprised, to say the least. "Oh god, this is going to complicate everything." She stifled another sob as she looked at Ginny quite apologetically.
"Don't you even dare think it," her friend chastised. "You have done nothing wrong. Merlin, I can't believe that rotten arsehole."
"He's your brother..." Hermione protested, but Ginny shook her head.
"That doesn't change what he did to you."
Hermione sighed, and tried to shut everything out, but it was useless. Thoughts about the years wasted on him kept running through her head, and for the first time she wondered if devoting her life to Ron Weasley has been nothing but a huge mistake.
"Come, sweetie," Ginny suddenly urged. "You can stay in our guest room as long as you need to."
"Are you sure?"
Ginny gave her a stern glance. "Of course. Don't be silly."
As she tossed the covers off her warm body, she felt unbelievably empty. Day one. Day one of her new life without Ron, without his adorable quirks and his warm hugs. Day one of having to live with betrayal, of having to fight to get through each bloody second of the day. She pulled her clothes on painfully slow, every movement made in slow-motion as if she hoped it would dull the pain. But dulling the pain was no option, it seemed to make her chest tighten, making it harder to breath. She sighed as she met her own gaze in the mirror. Her eyes held none of its usual gleam, even she could see that. All they emitted was sorrow and hurt, and the expression in her eyes together with the unusually pale skin and dark rings below her eyelashes made her seem almost sickly. Not having the strength to keep looking at her dismal appearance any longer, she turned around and wretched the door open, hoping it wouldn't be this hard to get up every day from now on.
"Morning," Ginny said with a cautious smile. She was standing by the kitchen counter waiting for the coffee to finish, and even if the corners of her mouth were pulled upwards, Hermione could tell that she was troubled.
"Morning," she replied quickly, knowing fully well how utterly miserable she looked herself.
The two girls exchanged understanding glances, but neither said another word while the coffee finished and Ginny reached for a plate of sandwiches. She put the sandwiches and two mugs down on the table before pouring the steaming contents of the kettle into the respective mugs. Hermione watched her intently, focusing on each and every detail, afraid to let her mind wander.
When Ginny finally sat down in her chair, the silence was broken by her deep sigh. Hermione gave her a small, reassuring smile, hoping to convey that she wasn't as broken up as she looked. Though she wasn't entirely sure if that was true.
"Where's Harry?" she asked, remembering his rash exit with apprehension.
"He already left for the office."
"I should go, too."
Ginny shook her head, making her red hair bounce against her cheeks. Hermione swallowed heavily at the red reminder, but then realised what the girl was saying.
"I have to go to work, Gin," she protested, taking a sip of the marvellous content that was caffeine.
"Harry already fixed you a day off," she explained, pushing the sandwich plate towards her, "and I've called in sick to stay with you."
Hermione's head snapped up, giving her friend an incredulous glance.
"You did no such thing, Ginevra."
"Oh, come off it, Hermione," Ginny said, laughing quickly at the use of her true first name. "You just ended a 4 year long relationship in the most brutal way imaginable. I'm not letting you stay here all alone."
"You can't just call in sick, they need you at St. Mungo's."
"I can, and I did," Ginny said with a raise of her eyebrows. "What kind of friend would I be if I wasn't here to pick up the pieces after what my darling brother did?"
Hermione scowled at her, but softened quickly when she saw the true concern in the younger Weasley's eyes. To be honest, Ginny was right: it would have been difficult to be alone. So very, truly alone. She held in a sigh, feeling repulsed by her own wallowing. It was incredibly pathetic, this self-indulgent wallowing, but even so, she couldn't help herself. She couldn't help but feel the rawness of being alone, to think about how quickly her life had gone from perfect to horrible.
"Just let me be here for you," Ginny suddenly begged. "I feel so bad."
"You have nothing to feel bad about, you silly git."
Ginny gave a bitter laugh. "I feel like even blood relation is a sin at this point."
"You aren't Ron, and you certainly aren't accountable for his choices," Hermione said fiercely, before drawing a hand through her hair looking quite resigned. "And... thank you."
Ginny looked up to meet her gaze, and smiled genuinely. "You're welcome."
They each reached for a sandwich and ate in companionable silence for a while, only glancing at each other now and again as they both contemplated the situation they suddenly found them in. Hermione realised that no matter how angry she was at being betrayed so horribly, she was even more angry at him for putting them all in this situation. Their family and friends were all an intricate web of different relations. Harry had always been the best friend of them both, Ron's sister had eventually become another one of her best friends, his mother felt like a second mother to her in so many ways. Not to mention the rest of the Weasleys, whom she had always loved dearly and saw as a part of her own family. Ron had jeopardized the friendship and relations between so many people, and she realized with a start that it was likely that she would be the losing part in most of these cases.
"Did Harry say anything about what happened last night?" she asked after once again picturing his rash departure.
"He wouldn't tell me anything," Ginny sighed. "Merlin only knows what went down over there."
Hermione paled at the words. "Maybe... maybe you should... go and see if he's, you know... alright?"
"Hermione Granger," Ginny chastised. "For one, my boyfriend would never seriously harm my brother. And secondly, if he did, it is well deserved."
Hermione looked back at the small figure across the table, not missing the waves of anger that emitted from her from time to time. She could sense the fury that seemed to bottle up within her, and the disturbing thoughts about the relationships he had severely challenged returned.
"Gin, he's your brother. You shouldn't hate him because of me."
"He did this all by himself," Ginny replied simply. "Fucking things up is something he does quite well on his own; always been a special talent of his."
Hermione sighed in resignation, but cringed when she realised she was secretly glad. It was what she hand wanted, wasn't it? For her friends to be angry on her behalf. She shook her head slightly and her gaze fell towards the surface of the table. She wanted them to feel for her, to be on her side, but oddly enough she didn't want him to suffer. Sighing a bit, she realised she was still blinded by her all-consuming love for him. A love he didn't deserve, and probably never had deserved.
"Come on," Ginny suddenly said. "Let's not sit here and mope all day."
"I don't know if I feel up to going anywhere," she admitted with a small shrug.
"That's alright," Ginny assured her. "We can order take out and rent a bunch of films."
She smiled at the suggestion, wondering when Ginny had turned so very Muggle. But she bit her tongue, and thanked her for the suggestion instead. Hermione went up to get a quick shower while Ginny went to assemble the films, none of which contained any sappy love stories or overly happy couples. A wise choice, as far as Hermione was concerned. Once they had finished the second film, Harry Apparated straight into the living room. Hermione watched him wearily, noticing that his face looked a bit drawn.
"Rough day?" she asked with a slight grimace, and he replied with a displeased grimace in return.
"It was busy," he admitted as he sunk onto the couch next to her. He leaned his head back and let out a deep breath. "And I was sent on an assignment with Ron"
Hermione's heart gave a leap at the mention of his name, and she scolded herself for reacting in such a traitorous way. She shouldn't feel her heart quicken at the mention of his name, she should be disgusted. And she was disgusted, but it was all such a huge, confusion ball of emotions.
"Did it go okay?" Ginny asked from her seat in the armchair, her eyes darting quickly between Harry and Hermione.
"Not really. It was as awkward as anything I've ever experienced."
Hermione sighed. "You shouldn't be fighting because of me." She felt like she was repeating herself over and over again, continuously trying to persuade them, but also herself in the process.
"I don't even feel like I know him any more," he replied, and reached his arm around her shoulders. "The Ron I know wouldn't do this."
"I hope it won't feel like that forever," she admitted as she leaned onto his shoulder. "He has been our best friends for over 10 years, and even if it feels very far-fetched right now, I want to have him in my life."
"I know," Harry replied softly. "But it's going to take time, especially for you. And you should give yourself that time."
"I will," she promised before sitting up straight again. "Look at me; here I am, stealing your boyfriend."
Ginny chuckled. "Don't be daft."
"Let's put on another film and get that pizza," Hermione said in a cheerful voice, forcing every depressing thought into the back of her mind. Harry and Ginny had no objections, so all three of them curled up in the couch, leaning onto each other in comfortable silence.
A/N: This first chapter is pretty serious, but the rest of the story has a bit more humour and a lighter atmosphere in several chapters. :) Hope you want to stick with me.