Chapter 15 – Echoes, Silence, Patience And Grace.

"Don't you want, don't you need,
something more to set you free?
Don't you want, don't you need,
to be forgiven?"

Forgiven – Michael Lord

When I opened the door, Hermione was asleep on my side of the bed, curled into a foetal position and dressed in my old Cannons shirt. Her eyes were puffy, her nose, red, and her face tear-streaked, but she still looked beautiful to me.

This was the one woman that had this strange hold over me, the one that could've asked me anything and I would've given her, the one that knew all my flaws and weaknesses.

She was the one person that used to know me better than I knew myself.

But we had come such a long way from the person we each first fell in love with, because those people…They would've never hurt and betrayed our love as we had done.

I was still angry and confused, but more than anything filled with regret. I was the one who was thick enough to put myself into the situation that took everything that mattered to me away: her love, her trust, our kids, our marriage.

The life we'd built together.

And yes, the past couple of years certainly didn't felt like the life I'd thought it would be when we first got married, but Harry had made me realize that being miserable with her was a hell of a lot better than not being with her at all.

The truth was that I still loved her, could never stop loving her even if I wanted to, like I'd thought I had.

No, Harry was right – without having Hermione and my children in my life, what's the point? It would feel a lot like death, except without the perks of being able to see my brother Fred again.

I really, truly and completely love, her even with all the shite that's happened with Seamus and Sarah, despite her shortcomings and in spite of mine – and they were so many… All the times I fell short, all the times I disappointed her.

All the times I hadn't been there for her.

I came back even though I'd said I didn't want to. At the moment, I had meant it, but now I was only sure that I loved and that I'd fix it – fix her, fix me.

And maybe, just maybe, fix us.

It's strange how the person you love the most is the one that also can hurt you the worst. It's different with your children – you love them unconditionally, so when they hurt you, you forgive them. You always do. They're a part of you, and you love them no matter what. There are no limits, nothing that can't be absolved.

It's very different when it comes to the person you've chosen to be together with. You've chosen each other to trust and love, for better or worse. You never expect them to hurt you – because, how could they?

And that's just stupid, because how couldn't they?

It's human nature, you reason. And they never meant to do it, not really. But it doesn't matter, because in the end, it all hurts just the same.

I lay down next to her, trying my hardest to be as quiet as I could possibly be, but she opened her eyes when my weight hit the mattress.

She doesn't say a word, just looks at me, relieved.

I was glad I'd come home too.

We laid there for what could've possibly been hours, minutes or several years. It didn't even matter – it was exactly what we needed at the moment.

The silence wasn't filled with accusations this time – just sadness and questions. What would happen to us? There was there even still an 'us' to begin with?

I knew I still loved her, always had, and always would, but I'd no idea what I would do if she didn't feel the same. I'd no idea if she would still want me after I walked out when she told about Seamus, or what had happened with Sarah.

"Hungry?" She asked me, sometime later.

"Not really," I told her.

"I was at Harry's," I started. She nodded, letting me know she was listening. "We talked.

"I drank. A lot." She sighed. "Then I yelled at him for being a horrible friend."

"You still haven't forgiven him for your promotion?" She asked, the tone of her voice barely above a whisper. Gods, that felt like a lifetime ago. It probably was.

But maybe she wasn't really asking me about Harry.

"It takes time," I finally told her. "But I'm trying really hard to. And after what I put him through this morning, I really hope he can do the same thing for me."

She turned her back to me and stared at the wall. I wanted to see if she was crying, but I was afraid that if I touched her now and she recoiled, things would be as well as over between us, and I couldn't have that, I just couldn't handle it.

So I just laid there in silence, waiting for the storm to pass.

"Why did you do it?" She asked me, in this small, sort-of sad voice. I startled, and then rejoiced, because I'd nearly given up hope of her ever talking to me.

"Because I wanted to hurt you." Nothing but brutal honesty could do it now – Hermione and I had spent too much time lying to ourselves and look what happened to us?

The only honourable thing to do now was to tell her the truth.

"After I got hurt this last time, you didn't come home to see me. Do you have any idea how that made me feel, Hermione?

"I thought you didn't care about me anymore."

She turned to face me then, and I could see the pain in her eyes. I'd done what I'd intended to do when I let Sarah kiss me that day – I'd hurt Hermione just as badly as she'd hurt me.

But there wasn't any triumph in seeing the damage that I'd done and I finally understood that – only it was too little too late, and we both knew that.

Now all I had – all we both had – was the sour traces of regret and guilt on our mouths, like a nasty aftertaste that couldn't be washed down, no matter how many times we brushed our teeth.

"Did it make you feel better?" Hermione's voice was like an ocean of calm, accepting hurt, but her told me a different story, one that spoke of anger, resentment and regret.

"No." And I wasn't lying. Sarah had felt all wrong for me – her taste, her smell, and the sounds she made while she kissed me. "It never felt right."

"She wasn't the one I wanted." I closed my eyes. "But I guess I just wanted to feel like someone admired me, you know? I just wanted to feel...wanted."

The words left unspoken buzzed loudly between us – the reason I didn't want Sarah was Hermione. It had always been about Hermione for me.

"Is it over?" She finally asked, once again looking at me with those sad, guileless brown eyes that I loved so much. And what I see in hers make my own moisten and I knew that if I could do things over, I wouldn't have ever let Sarah's feelings for me sway in any direction but my wife's arms.

I would have tried sooner to get Hermione back, to blast the door of that damn room she'd holed herself in after she'd found out that god-awful paper and carried her away from her doubts about our marriage, away from Seamus' opened arms in the first place.

Hell, I would've done a lot of things differently if I could.

"Luv, it barely even started."

And I meant it.

"She lied, you know," Hermione said, looking me dead in the eye. "When I came back home last night, it was because she showed up at The Leaky and told me whole truth, and not only about the kiss, but the reasons behind it as well."

"I was coming home to you, Ron." Her eyes were filled with tears again. "The minute I heard about you being hurt, I walked out in the middle of a meeting in Vienna without never even looking back.

"You were unconscious, but I was told you were with a co-worker that was unavailable at the time, so I just left a message saying I was coming home as soon as possible."

Each and every one of her words felt like a punch in my stomach.

Sarah had lied, and I'd been so eager to believe the worst of Hermione that I'd never even bothered to check with someone else, maybe Harry.

I felt horrible.

Everything was my fault.

"Sarah lied to you, Ron," she continued. "I spent twenty-eight hours trying to come back home, I really did. But when I finally arrived, I wished I hadn't tried so hard."

"I'm sorry," I told her, and I knew from the way her eyes softened that she could tell I was being sincere.

"I'm sorry too," she admitted. "For so many things." Her face was red, her nose, scrunched up, and I could tell more tears were coming. "I'm sorry I lost my faith in you. For leaving you like I did.

"Most of all, for not being completely honest with you. Ron, there's something you need to know about Sea–"

"I don't want to hear it," I told her firmly. "It's in the past." She gave me this cute, little exasperated sigh, but I kept going. "Maybe not exactly in the past, but I want it to be. I need to put this behind us, okay? Can you give me that, luv?"

"Okay," she agreed hesitantly.

"Okay?" I pressed.


She closed her eyes, but didn't turn away from me this time. An eternity passed as I tried to keep myself in check, keep myself from reaching out to her hand, to her warmness, to her lips.

Even though right now I had no right to still claim her as mine, I still yearned for her with an intensity that couldn't be erased or ignored.

She was the one I wanted, the one I had sworn my life to.

How could I have been so stupid to sacrifice that? How could I've thought that by hurting her I could make myself feel better? How could I've been blind to what was right in front of me?

My wife.

My life.

My heart.

"I'm so tired, Ron…"

I knew what she meant. I was tired as well – sick of the fights, sick of being so angry all the time, sick of making mistakes. Most of all, I was really tired of feeling like I was feeling, as if this vital part of me had gone missing.

"I know," I acknowledge, and with this, she reached out for my hand and we're just a man and a woman, without any baggage between us, lying in a bed, side by side, holding hands, holding it together.

We were no longer strangers, though we weren't ourselves either.

"I'm tired too."

"Do you think we could still be like we used to be? Before all this?" I asked her sometime later. I didn't meant before Sarah or Seamus - I was talking about the time where nothing and no one could come between us.

"Because I'm hoping we can."

"And you?" I urged her, because she was so quiet and unmoving, and I desperately needed to know what she thought, what she wanted, while fearing the answer in itself. Our whole future was pending on her answer.

"I don't think so."

"Like before, it's over now, Ron…" I held my breath while my heart skipped a beat, then another and thirty more. After a while, she started talking again. "We're not who we used to be anymore. I think maybe that's okay – life changes you.

"So, no, I don't think we could be like before. But maybe we could be better."

With that, she turned away again, but only to snuggle closer to me, and my body welcomed her as if it was a drowning man trying to keep hold of something just so that he could stay afloat.

I took advantage of the proximity and held her tight, swearing to never let her go; to never let things get out of our control like they had.

Swearing that this time, we could be better.

That we would be better.

The sunset came and went, it beautiful colours lighting up our room while we kept on holding on for dear life.

A.N: I hope you guys liked it. Two chaptes, six more to go. Many hugs and thanks to Mugglemama, for helping me with this (and putting up with my shitty grammar and punctuation skills. Or lack thereof). I love you guys, thank you for sticking with me, and please review because your words make me smile =D