(A/N) Hey guys, I know I have a nasty habit of not completing my stories, but it is up to you to provide me with motivation. This story I have been planning for several years, even before Fred's death became canon. (sob) but I hope you enjoy it, please leave a review or how will I know that I should continue? Hugs and Kisses! :D
She stared incredulously at the stick in front of her. It couldn't be, it just couldn't be. They had taken every precaution, casted every spell known, taken potions. She couldn't understand how or where such a dire miscalculation could have taken place. She clutched the small stick as if it were her life, the one little plus sign on the top of it her death sentence. She tried to cry, but the tears just wouldn't come. The shock and the repercussions of all of her actions hit her.
Stupid, stupid. She thought to herself as she pulled out her wand and transfigured the small object into a tissue and then proceeded to throw it away. She stood up and tried to manage and compose herself but found she could not find the will to move her legs, or anything in that case. She was glued to the back of the toilet seat. She closed her eyes and thought over the past two months, so much had happened, so much had changed.
You have to tell him you know, the annoying voice said inside her head. "I know," Hermione said aloud.
"Oh dear," said the mirror, "talking to yourself, this can't be good." She stood up and walked over to the sink and leaned over the mirror.
"What do I do?" She asked forlornly looking at her own reflection.
"What are you doing asking a piece of glass? Ask yourself…oh," the mirror laughed at it's own joke. Hermione rolled her eyes. She opened the faucet and threw cold water over her face.
"Hermione?" Ron's voice called from the living room, "I'm home!" She took one glance at the mirror and put on her best "I'm okay" face and made her way out of the bathroom.
"Hey Ron," she said as she felt him wrapping his arms around her. She weakly put her arms around his waist. He pulled back while still holding her and looked into her eyes.
"Blimey," he said softly. She cocked her head.
"You're just—I just keep on forgetting how beautiful you are," he said moving a hair from her cheek to behind her ear. "You're practically glowing." She felt her eyes well up as he made this statement.
"Wow Ronald, you should—you should always leave for two months at a time," she said turning away trying to hold back tears and walking to the kitchen. "Anyways, your mum sent some food for us. She guessed you would be coming here first and that we'd all have brunch there tomorrow, so I warmed some food up for us," she walked over to the kitchen and began pulling plates out of the cabinet while charming the knives, spoons and forks to set themselves up on the table appropriately. Ron walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned over behind her neck as she washed the small film of dust off of the dishes.
"I missed you," he whispered huskily while pressing against her. She closed her eyes and looked up. She forced a smile, turned around and kissed him softly.
"I missed you too," she said, "Now you go shower while I finish preparing the food." Ron sighed.
"Fine 'mione," He said grinning. "This just means that you'll have to make it up to me later." He said exiting the room and taking off his sweater at the same time. Hermione sighed and leaned over the sink, a sudden bout of nausea coming over her. She put a muffliato charm over the kitchen quickly. She spent the next few minutes puking her guts out into the sink, hoping Ron stayed in the shower. She sighed as she still heard the water running after she was finished. She cast a couple of cleaning charms and then cast a spell to take away the smell and hoped it seemed as if nothing had happened. She quickly cast a mouthwash spell over her mouth and then continued to finish preparing dinner. A couple minutes later, Ron came out of the shower dressed in a t-shirt and some boxers. She just put the finishing touches.
"Smells great," he said sitting down. Hermione smiled.
"Yeah, I didn't make it," she said.
"Maybe that's why," he smiled raising an eyebrow and beginning to eat the food in front of him. Hermione kicked him lightly from underneath the table.
"Auror training, so painful," he said remarking on the last two months the new recruits spent in various conditions abroad in endurance training. "I'm so sore." He said rubbing the back of his neck.
"You look good," Hermione remarked noting how much more muscular he had gotten. Ron smiled.
"So do you," he said reaching over and placing his hand on hers.
"What has gotten into you?" She asked rubbing his thumb thoughtfully.
"You have," he said. She moved her hand away and blushed quickly finishing whatever was left on her plate. She stood up and noticed he had wiped his clean. She held her hand out to take his plate and he sighed. As she put the plates in the sink and then charmed them to wash themselves and put themselves away she felt his arms wrap around her waist once more. He kissed a trail down her neck and his hands fell to her waist. He turned her around and looked into her eyes, he kissed her softly. She responded desperately moving her hands up and down his back, lacing her fingers in his hair. It was all happening quickly in a flash. One moment they were kissing in the kitchen the next they were on the couch, tearing each other's clothes off. Suddenly she stopped.
"I can't," she said standing up, "I can't." She looked at him with sorrowful eyes. He stood up and walked over to her.
"No," she said, "Ron, I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry," she cried. He looked at her, concern evident in his eyes.
"What's going on?" he asked. Hermione looked down and shook her head. He walked over to her put his hands on either of her shoulders and sat her down on the couch. "Hermione," he said with more strength in his voice.
"I'm so sorry," she said standing up. She went to the coat closet, put on her coat, grabbed her purse and wallet and before Ron could say her name, she had apparated out of there. Ron sat down on the couch and put his head in his hands and sighed. He did not understand at all what had just happened. He stood up, grabbed some floo.
"Harry Potter's residence," he stated and stuck his head into the fireplace. Ginny and Harry were cuddling closely on the couch while Ginny was reading and Harry was stroking her hair.
"Ahem," said Ron impatiently from the fireplace. They jumped at the sound.
"RON!" Ginny exclaimed. She stood up quickly and walked to the fireplace. "What are you doing here?" She asked.
"I'm coming over," he said sadly. Ginny noted the desperation and urgency in his voice and she nodded. As Ron climbed out of the fireplace, Harry stood up.
"She's gone," he said, "And I don't know why." He was fighting back tears.
"Who's gone, what's going on?" Harry asked concernedly. Ginny put her arms around him and led him over to the couch.
"I mean it happened almost absurdly fast, first I was holding her and kissing her, and suddenly she stopped, said she couldn't and just left." He turned to Ginny and looked at her.
"I know I've been gone for two months, what happened?" He asked her. She looked at him, confusion in her eyes.
"I haven't spoken to her," she said honestly, "I only just got back from Hogwarts." Harry looked down.
"So she was basically alone here," he said, "Maybe she just felt abandoned." He queried. Ron shrugged.
"I sent her letters every day! And she chose not to do the Auror program," he said. Harry shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know Ron," he said, "I would say go home, wait for her, if she doesn't show up tonight, then we'll go from there. But it's late, go get some sleep," he clapped his hand on Ron's back. Suddenly Ron turned towards the two of them and cocked his head.
"If its late, then what are you doing here Ginny. Isn't mum wondering where you are?" He asked. Ginny looked down bashfully.
"I told her I'd be coming home a few days late," she said. "Don't tell mum, okay?" Ron sighed.
"I guess I'll go now," he said shooting a warning look at Harry before departing in a gust of green flames. Harry had his arms around Ginny's waist. They looked at each other.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Well, A couple weeks ago, Hermione sent me a letter saying that she felt like she was in trouble and made a huge mistake," she moved out of Harry's arms and sat on the couch in front of the fireplace, "I met her in Hogsmeade that weekend, she seemed distant and a little worse for wear. But I thought it was only because she was helping George with the store and that in and of itself is, well, stressful. Especially with the way George is—"
"Ginny focus," said Harry snickering a little bit.
"Oh sorry, but anyways, she seemed a little, well very tired and worn out. And she sat down and was extremely confusing, rambling about how she felt like she was betraying everyone she loved and she just didn't know anything anymore and how much things can change in just a matter of a few weeks." She crossed her arms and thought. "I really have no idea," she said. Harry sat down beside her.
"I guess all we can do is wait," he said. They both sat in silence watching the flames crackle, each concerned about their friend.
Knock knock knock.
"I'm coming! I'm coming," a voice said.
"Hermione? What are you doing here? And at 6am?"
"I had nowhere else to go, and I'm in trouble," she said running into her grandmother's arms.
"Oh hush now sweetheart, granny's got you," she said stroking her hair. "Now come in." Hermione began to sob.
"I've messed everything up," she said going into the large apartment.
"Okay Hermione, now go upstairs, wash up, and come back down here. I'll make a nice pot of tea and we'll sit in the parlor and talk. Okay?" She asked. Hermione nodded, clutching her small bag.
She had never been here; her grandmother usually visited them in England. She had known that there was a considerable amount of wealth when her grandmother was concerned. She had no idea that her grandmother could afford such a luxurious penthouse suite on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
She walked upstairs and walked into the bathroom. She took out her wand and transfigured herself a toothbrush. There was toothpaste already on the side and she brushed her teeth and washed her hair. She walked out the door and back down the stairs to the parlor where hot tea sat on the coffee table. Her grandmother sat with one cup sipping quietly.
"Have a seat my dear," she said kindly pointing to the couch.
"Thanks Grandma," she said.
"Now tell me, what is going on. Do your parents know that you are here?" Hermione shook her head. Her grandmother nodded. Hermione sat and looked at her cup of tea.
"I just don't know what to do anymore," she said, "I know my parents won't help me, and I know I won't find help back in England, and I just didn't have anywhere else to go—"
"Shh—you can always depend on me," said her Grandmother, "or my name isn't Margaret Granger." She put her hand on Hermione'. "Now tell me Hermione."
"I'm—pregnant," said Hermione. Fresh tears fell from her face. Her grandmother looked down, and looked up again.
"Well, we don't need to make that a mistake, you just need to make the best out of it. When is your due date?" She asked. She looked at Hermione's untouched cup of tea. "I had a feeling you wouldn't want caffeinated, it'll be fine, just drink it, you'll feel better." Hermione took a sip.
"Around August 4th, if I were to guess," she said. Margaret nodded.
"Well, you're only eighteen. I'll enroll you into a university here. You will never have to worry about childcare. No granddaughter of mine is going to waste her intelligence." Hermione looked up incredulously.
"Really?" She asked.
"Your step-grandfather is the dean of New York University. If it's all right with him, we will enrol you for the fall semester. Although from what your parents tell me, you were brilliant in school. One of the brightest young girls of your age," she winked. Hermione looked down and blushed.
"Thank you so much Grandmother," she said, more tears pouring down her face.
"Now I'm going to make a phone call to your parents, and you may want to let your friends know that you're safe. Just so they don't worry. You can tell them at your own time about the baby. Now your room will be up the stairs third door to your left. I'll be just down the hall. Mark is out of town for a few days, but don't worry, he's going to love having you," she smiled and placed her hands on Hermione's cheeks. "It's going to be okay." She said. Hermione smiled and nodded, although that didn't stop that terrible feeling in her gut.
Ron thrust the letter into Harry's hand.
"What is this?" Asked Harry.
"Closure," he said simply. Harry opened and read the letter.
"Dear Ronald. For the past few months I've felt an absence in my life. Somehow in my heart, although I know that I did alright, helping Harry save the world and everything, I felt as if I truly did not think about what I was giving up in the Muggle world. Magic just isn't giving me the same rush that it used to. I feel tired and sick all the time, and rather bored. I feel as if I have gone as far as I have wanted to go, and there is nothing at all left for me, no reason for me to stay. Don't get me wrong, I do now, and will always miss you dearly. –Yours, Hermione" Harry concluded.
"I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say," said Harry. Ron had his arm against the doorframe and was leaning against it.
"Nothing," he said. "Lets just get pissed tonight," he laughed. Harry grinned.
"Alright, you coming into the office?"
"I get Mondays off remember?" Said Ron, "I'm going to go see if George needs any help at the store. He was obviously trying to be much more composed than he was.
"Go home Ron," said Harry, "George will be fine for a day." Ron shook his head.
"I need to be doing something," he said. "I really can't be alone." Harry nodded understandingly. If Ginny ever walked out on him, he knew he would not be able to go on.
"How's Hermione?" George asked counting inventory in the storefront. He had his brows furrowed as he did the math in his head and took note of what they had to restock and how much.
"She left," said Ron curtly.
"Left," replied Ron. "She's gone." George widened his eyes.
"Where did she go?" He asked.
"I don't know," said Ron. He finished his inventory shelves and went to help George restock.
"I'm going to go into the back and check something real quick," said George. He walked over to the back pantry. He closed his eyes and sat on the ground while his back was leaning against the door. He rubbed his eyes with and put his head in his hands. He didn't know if he could do the grand opening anymore. He had depended on her; he had counted on her. He put his head in his hands. Stupid, he thought to himself. He knew it wouldn't be a good idea but she had pushed it so far. He heard a knock at the door. He quickly grabbed a crate of pygmy puffs and opened the door. Ron was visibly upset. George handed him the crate of pygmy puffs.
"They go on the left shelf by the puking pastilles," he said handing him the crate. Ron grunted in agreement and left George alone. George leaned against the wall and thought.
The look on Ron's face was enough to cause him to realize the far-reaching consequences of his actions. He couldn't ask too many questions about Hermione, or else Ron would ask questions. No one could know what was going on for the past two months. Nobody. Even they agreed it would never ever be spoken of again. But he had lost too much, and losing her as a friend was almost too hard to bear. He walked into the small office he had made for himself in the past few weeks in the back of the store. A bunch of letters sat on the desk waiting for him to be read, most of them were bills, newsletters, a daily prophet was stuck in there until he hit an envelope which was different than the rest. He opened the first one from April Fool's Inc.
Mr. Weasley and Mr. Weasley.
Hello, my name is Adam Richards, and I am the C.E.O. and founder for April Fool's Inc, a high quality joke and novelty corporation based in New York City. We have been trying to go overseas for several years but have not yet been able to secure the funds nor made the right alliances. For several years, I have been watching your profits and shares rise increasingly and feel that a merger between our two great companies should be in order. In observing your companies I would like to propose an offer. You would still operate under your name; you would just be a part of our corporation. This means almost nothing to you except that your profits would increase exponentially, you would be on our board of directors, and money would never be a problem to you. So really it's a win-win situation.
Please send me an owl and I would love to set up a time to meet with one or both of you to discuss logistics. Please think about this offer if your are considering to decline.
April Fools Inc.
Ron knocked and opened the door.
"It's almost 10," he said, "we'll open up soon?" George nodded.
"Cathy and Malina here?" He asked. Ron nodded.
"Go home, get some rest, you look like shit." He said forcing a grin. Ron smiled.
"Me and Harry are going to have drinks at Leaky tonight, you in?" He asked. George looked down.
"I don't know," he said, "If I'm there, I'm in, if I'm not, then—well"
"I'll figure it out," said Ron. George stood up.
"Thank you for the help," he said hugging Ron tightly. Ron hugged him back.
"No problem, I know Hermione was supposed to help you, so I didn't want to leave you without a paddle on your first day. You need help opening up tomorrow? I could take a mad early lunch…an hour after I'm supposed to be at work," said Ron grinning. George noted how obviously forced it seemed, and then realized that his, likewise was also forced. They laughed awkwardly and it trailed off into an unbearable silence. "He should have been here," said Ron. George nodded. Ron put his arm on George's shoulder.
"He was my brother too," said Ron. George looked up at him. "I miss him." George nodded smiling. He put his arm around Ron and they both walked out into the storefront.
"Its what he would have wanted. He would have hated me for closing the shop down for as long as I did," said George. "I'm thinking of hiring some researchers and inventors." He turned to Ron who turned to him with shock.
"I just don't have the heart for it anymore," said George. Ron looked down.
"Yeah, okay," he said. "Do whatever you feel is right." George was stunned, the past few months had really changed and matured his younger brother, not to mention all that occurred during the war. George grinned sadly as his brother walked out the door.
--Four months later—
"And you are now a partner in April Fools, congratulations," said Adam shaking George's hand. In the past few months George had gone from being on the board of directors to being made a partner. He had a knack for business and transformed the company from a small national corporation into a larger one. He used Adam's initial idea and expanded across the globe in a few short months. George waited for the picture to be taken and then sat down at the long table, ready for the panel to begin.
"Hey Weasley," said Tom Greenspurn. "Congratulations. Welcome to the team." He was a small balding man with a very amicable face. He was in charge of Research and Development, finding out what trends were in and managing a small group of inventors.
"Thank you," said George smiling. This was the only way he could even contemplate moving on. Burying himself in work was what he did. He gave up Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, and hired a very apt person to manage the store. He now would be in charge of overseeing sales in the Western European and American markets, and he had offices in Paris, London, Milan, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He rarely ever saw his family anymore and rarely had a moment to himself. But for now, that was all right. It kept his mind off of other things.
After the panel meeting, the board of directors hosted a reception for all of the clients and businessmen at that meeting. George held a glass of red wine and stared out the window as the rest of the city. This office building was in the wizarding part of New York, in the downtown area of Manhattan by Wall Street. He had an unobstructed view of the statue of liberty from this window. It was raining outside. He watched the raindrops slide across the glass in various patterns when a very pretty girl interrupted his thoughts.
"Hey," she said, "Congratulations." George turned to her and nodded curtly. She stuck her hand out. "I'm Jill, Jill Fairbanks," she said waiting for a handshake. George nodded gruffly and shook her hand.
"George Weasley," he said. She looked at him and smiled.
"I like this song," she said waving back to the DJ. There was an awkward silence until she looked up, "Do you want to dance?" She asked.
"Not really," said George. She looked down and looked back up at him and quickly walked away. George sighed and put his glass down on a waiter's tray. He walked over to the boss, shook his hand, and walked out of the reception. It wasn't something he was ever in the mood for, nor did he see the point. He walked out of the building, crossed two alleys and entered muggle New York.
The Wall Street area was bustling with people; the streets were covered with snow—well more like slush. He took long quick strides, not really watching out for people in front of him, and they quickly noticed and got out of his way. He was staying at a small hotel in Midtown, but since Manhattan had such a high concentration of muggles, it was against the law to apparate within the bounds of the city. He walked the steps down to the metro and ran into a young woman.
"Watch where you're going," he said gruffly. Her purse scattered all over the floor and with a little trouble she leaned down to pick her stuff up. Usually he wouldn't care, but for some reason, he felt an obligation to the young woman. "Let me help you," he said leaning down. He held onto a small card and handed it over to her.
"I don't need your help," she said looking up and taking her card. Her eyes widened. George realized instantly who she was. He grabbed her arm and just as he did, a huge crowd of people from the arriving train walked up the steps and she soon disappeared into the crowd. He closed his eyes in disdain and tried to run after her, following her, but it was too late, there was no knowing where she went off to. Sighing, he walked through the turnstiles and boarded the train.
Hermione had taken that moment to run and hide behind a pole, she had lost the energy to outrun him so she thought if it looked like she disappeared into the crowd, he would stop. She could never see him again, not after what had happened. She grabbed her purse and walked out of the subway into the streets, she headed to the bookstore where she was working for the time being.
She made the right decision and she knew it. If Ron knew what had happened in the two months he was away, he would never speak to her or George again. George would lose another brother and he had enough emotional turmoil to deal with as is, a child brought into that equation would have just made it way too much. A small tear began to cascade down her cheek. She thought back to the past four months as she entered the bookstore.
"Good morning Hermione," said Corin, a small South Korean girl working at the cash register.
"Have the new shipments come in yet?" Asked Hermione. Corin shook her head.
"They are coming in tomorrow. So basically you have nothing to do today." She giggled. Hermione worked in the back doing inventory, it was her favorite job, plus she could track down what books to read, or not to read.
"I'll just go in the back and read, let me know if you need help up here," she said going into the storeroom. The past four months had been a welcome break, her grandmother treated her like royalty. She knew that as long as her grandmother stood by her side, she'd never have to worry about a thing. She put a hand on her stomach feeling the slight bulge. After the baby came, she would go get a muggle education and then just try and provide the best life for her little girl or little boy possible. She smiled. Even through all the bleakness, through all the drama, she would have a wonderful presence with her for the rest of her life. She would have a baby.