She lay on her back, hands behind her head. Thrust. She was lost in thought. Thrust. Reflecting on a report that she Thrust had just read regarding the mistranslation of some of the runes from Egypt. Thrust. It had really thrown a whole knew wrench into her current research Thrust for the book that she was writing. Thrust. She tried hard to focus on her work, Thrust hoping to block out what was happening. Thrust. It was a normal enough Thrust occurrence, every Wednesday night to be exact. Thrust. Not even a year into her marriage and she already Thrust couldn't stand sleeping with her husband. Thrust.
Her body tensed and she focused Thrust even harder on her work, trying to block out the inevitable. Thrust. It was no use; she tried to look away, hoping Thrust that the end result would change. Thrust. He wouldn't let her; his hand Thrust moved to her face and pointed it towards him. Thrust. She watched him in silence as his eyes slowly turned from steely gray to a bright Thrust sky blue. His hair grew and changed from silver blond to ginger. Thrust. His nose, a perfect specimen of symmetry Thrust grew longer with a slight bump in the arch. Thrust. And just as it always happened, Hermione lost herself in Thrust the moment and let the image of Ron take her. Thrust. Her body quivered, her eyes rolled back into her head and she reveled in the pleasure as long as she could.
She felt him convulse inside of her and then his weight as he lay heavily on top of her. It was over, and the pain that she would always feel for allowing those few seconds of pleasure washed over her. Hermione wasn't sure if he knew that she always envisioned someone else as they made love, but he must have known something, because he would not let her look away during those last moments. She would try and focus, focus on her husband, focus on books, anything to not let his image invade her mind.
He finally rolled off of her and lay sprawled out on his side of the bed, a smirk gracing his face. "Thanks," he said as he leaned in and brushed her cheek with a kiss.
"Um, hmm." Hermione responded not having actually paid attention to what he had said, but knowing none the less as it had been their routine for the past seven months. Without another word he had drifted off to sleep, his slow even breathing cluing her in to when it would be safe to get up.
Hermione had another Wednesday night ritual, one that, if possible was almost as much torture as the sex. Her bare feet hit the cool wooden floor as her right hand clasped the fluffy red bathrobe at the foot of her bed. She draped it over herself and padded lightly towards the built-in bookshelf that took up one entire wall in their bedroom. With sure movements her small hands removed a huge, leather-bound tome from the shelf.
She made her way to the chair in the corner of the room with the large window behind it and using only the light provided by the moon's beams she opened the book. Instead of usual words and pages one would find in a book, especially a book of this size, there was a hollow box. Inside was an organized pile of photographs, some moving, others not, along with a stack of letters all with the same chicken scratch that could barely be called writing. There was a dried up sprig of bluebells, a paper coaster with the emblem of The Leaky Cauldron on it, a wine cork with the number one written into the top and few other odd pieces of memorabilia. Her hands grazed over everything, barely touching the items, yet taking in their feel all the same.
A low snort came from the bed and her hand stopped in mid graze over a photo of her and her ginger-haired companion. She waited, listening intently for a sign to show that her husband was still in fact asleep. After a few moments her heart beat slowed and she resumed her reverie, taking in the photo that her hand had stopped over.
Ron was standing
next to her, his eyes were glancing back and forth from the camera to
her as his hands clasped and unclasped together nervously. Hermione's
wild, bushy hair blocked out his nose whenever he would turn his
head, a faint blush would appear on her cheeks every time he glanced
her way. It had been taken the summer before their fifth year while
they were holed up at Grimmauld Place; before either had even begun
to admit what they felt for one another, especially to themselves. It
was one of her favorite photos of them, one which showed their
innocence in a time of war.
She turned her focus to the neat stack of letters and looked through it until she found one that she hadn't read in a while. They were all worn from being folded and refolded and she knew each of them by heart, but she read them again and again anyway. His barely legible handwriting was scrawled on the page:
Hermione, See I told you I would write. How has your summer been? My dad got us some great tickets for the Quidditch World Cup this year; mum said that I could invite you and Harry. Owl back if you can come and someone will come and pick you up the day before the match. Ginny told me to tell you that you have to say yes so that she is not stuck with all of us blokes the entire time. I hope you can make it. See you soon. Ron
She traced her finger over his signature mindlessly and thought of what once was. There were no tears anymore, she was all dried up, but there was pain, there was a deep ache in her heart from when he had left. She heard a faint snort again, and this time as she listened the breathing did not even out as it had before. Hastily she folded the letter and closed the top of the 'book' trying to make it look as if that was what she had been reading and not a letter from her departed boyfriend.
"What time is it," he croaked out in a sleep filled voice.
Hermione glanced at her watch, "A little after twelve."
"Come to bed." It wasn't an order, but it wasn't a request either. She placed the book lovingly back on the shelf and padded back towards their king sized mahogany bed. She slipped out of her robe and crawled under the covers. Hermione rubbed her feet together in order to get some warmth and she rolled over on her side, facing away from her husband; feeling his eyes bore into her back.
"Night," she whispered.
He moved, spooning the front of his body to the back of hers, and wrapped one arm around her. "Night." He whispered back as he kissed her neck.
Grief was replaced with guilt. She had made a vow, she had promised to love him till death did part them. He didn't deserve her betrayal, he was by no means perfect, but she had known that, she had known what she was getting into when she married him, and he did love her. It was a surprise to her how much. Considering their history the fact that he wanted to be in the same room with her let alone share a life was amazing. Hell the fact that she was willing to do so as well was amazing.
She could feel Draco's breath on her neck as his chest moved in and out. How could she do this to Draco? How could she do this to herself? He was gone and Draco was here. She was Mrs. Draco Malfoy and she would be a good wife. With that last thought she drifted off to sleep.
She got up early that morning and went down to the kitchen leaving Draco sleeping peacefully in their bed. Some eggy bread was called for. It was his favorite and she hadn't made it for him in a long time. Of course she could always get their house elf Twinkles to make it for them, but it was her day off and even though Hermione knew that Twinkles would only be too happy to help it was about time that she did something nice for Draco.
She had slipped into the habit of taking him for granted. Why brood about a man who was probably dead instead of dote over a man who was right there and loved her? She had just finished placing the last piece of bread onto a plate when she heard the kitchen door swing open.
"What's all this?" Draco asked as he swaggered into their kitchen and pointed at the plate of eggy bread.
"It's breakfast." She put on her brightest smile and it almost felt real.
"I can see that. Why are you making it? We have an elf you know."
"It's her day off." Draco huffed, Hermione ignoring his reaction continued in a voice a bit colder than before, "and I thought I would do something nice."
Draco, acknowledging that he was treading in dangerous waters kissed her on the cheek and wrapped his arms around her waist. "It is nice, thank you."
"Well, you're welcome." She said, her voice losing a little bit of the frost. She sat down and served Draco his plate of eggy bread with a side of bacon.
"So what's on the agenda for the day?" Draco asked, probably hoping to lighten the mood and hoping to veer off from any discussion about house elf rights. She knew that he thought of them as vermin, though he would never dare to say it outright. Not unless he wanted a one way ticket to sleeping on the guest bed.
"Maybe a bit of shopping this morning, we are running low on some potion ingredients." She took a bite of her bacon.
"That'll be good, I was planning on getting some brewing done on Saturday."
"Oh, that reminds me, I am having lunch with Ginny on Saturday."
The bite that Draco had been holding up to his mouth stopped in mid air. "Ginny?" he gritted out, "How lovely."
"None of that Draco Malfoy, Ginny is my best friend!" Her voice went up an octave, a sure indication that he should quit while he was behind.
"Yeah and your ghost boyfriends' sister." He mumbled under his breath.
"What was that?" One more octave.
"Nothing. Nothing at all." He said and then put his precisely cut piece of eggy bread into his mouth.
"That's what I thought." They continued to eat their breakfast in silence. She knew it was unfair. She had told herself last night that she would try harder, but how could she when he first started off the morning huffing at Twinkles right to a day off and then got all ridiculous because she was going to have lunch with her best friend. It wasn't fair that he made her feel that she had to choose between them.
Hermione knew that he got so upset because every time she was with Ginny it inevitably brought back memories of Ginny's brother, but she couldn't give up the friendship just to please him. He had married her fully aware of what her situation was, and where her heart was, it was all his fault!
But that wasn't fair either. It was no one's fault. She sighed and Draco looked up from his plate as she conceded. "Sorry, if you don't want me to go I won't."
"No, go Hermione, it's okay." Just at the moment there was an insistent tapping at the window. A large tawny owl was perched just outside hopping impatiently from one leg to the next. Draco went to the window and removed the letter from the owl's leg. He sat back down to read, Hermione watched his face as a glimmer of confusion and then fear crossed his features, but just as quickly they were gone to be replaced by his ever present mask of no emotion.
"I have to go, some important business to take care of." He gave her a half smile as he rose from his seat leaving his plate on the table; something that Hermione would normally get on him about, but she decided to let it be for this morning. He was out of the kitchen and then the house faster than she could say Snufflearmp.
She grudgingly gathered the dirty dishes and cleaned them with some quick spell work before preparing for her day of shopping and research.
Ginny was exhausted, Saturday morning practice had really taken it out of her. She quickly showered and changed not bothering to even look in the mirror or dry her hair. Hermione was probably already at the café waiting for her.
"Morning," came a voice from the direction of the den. She poked her head into the bookshelf lined room to see her boyfriend sitting at the desk going over some files. "Or should I say afternoon?" He looked up and grinned at her, running his hand through his ever messy head of black hair.
"Hey, I gotta run I'm S'posed to meet Hermione" she looked down at her watch, "five minutes ago for lunch. Love you."
"Love you too. Have fun, tell her I said hi." His voice trailed off as she hurried down the stairs and out onto the street where she apparated to The Leaky Cauldron and followed Diagon Alley down to the little café where she was to meet her friend. She looked around at the five tables that were there and noticed that Hermione was not at any one of them. She hoped that Hermione hadn't left already.
Ginny looked at her watch, only eight minutes late, surely Hermione wouldn't have left so soon. She grabbed the only vacant table in the back of the café and slumped down in the seat, aching for a cup of tea.
Three cups and two scones later Hermione finally arrived. There was a large, brown stain running down the front of her robes and her hair, if it was possible was bushier than usual. Ginny took in her friend's appearance and immediately was consumed with worry.
"Hermione! Are you okay?" Hermione's eyes were wild and glazed with unshed tears, she just stood in front of the table, not bothering to sit down or respond. Ginny sat up and led Hermione into the seat across from her. "Hermione, please what happened?" Ginny reached across the table and clasped Hermione's hand.
"H-h-he's back." Ginny's heart beat sped up and her palms immediately started to sweat.
"Who's back?" Ginny asked, though she knew the answer, nothing short of Ron coming home would make her collected friend appear in such a state.
"R-Ron." Hermione started to sob, something that Ginny hadn't seen her do since his initial disappearance. She could feel the tears start to well in her own eyes. If it had been anyone else to tell her she might not have believe them, but if anyone knew her brother it was Hermione.
"Where is he?" Ginny was finally able to choke out.
Hermione's sobs got even harder and Ginny could not make out anything intelligible. She noticed that the few people that were in the café were openly staring at the two of them, not wanting to risk any possible exposure Ginny laid down some Sickles and pulled Hermione up and out of the café.
They made it to Ginny's home in record time where Ginny had Harry put on a kettle while she tried to get some sense out of her bushy haired friend.
"Hermione," Ginny said in a soothing voice which completely contradicted the way that she felt, "You need to tell me what happened." Ginny rubbed her arm in encouragement. "Please, I need to know."
A slight hiccup and a cup of tea later Hermione was calm enough to get out, "I- I s-s-saw R-Ron. In-In Diagon Alley." Hermione stared vacantly at the mantel over the fireplace.
"Yes, I gathered that," and Ginny shook her slightly hoping to break her out of her reverie and waken her to the important task of telling her exactly what had happened.
Hermione's eyes gained focus and she looked Ginny straight in the eyes. "I saw him, he was there, just walking down the street. I had just come out from the potion shop with my cold coffee from this morning in hand, and there he was." Tears started to reform in both the girls eyes, "he was shaggier than usual, but it was him." Now Hermione's eyes were pleading, "I know it was him Gin, and he looked at me, straight at me, but it was like I wasn't even there, and then he was gone. I don't know where he went. I tried to follow him…" her voice trailed off as her eyes refocused onto the mantel once again.
Harry had been standing behind Ginny, silently listening to every word. "Do you think it was really him?" He asked.
"I KNOW IT WAS HIM!" Ginny jumped slightly in her chair at Hermione's yell.
"Yes," Ginny said, still stroking Hermione's arm, "I think it was him."