SUMMARY: Set approximately 15 years after the epilogue in DH. Hermione and Ron re-evaluate their marriage, and find that some things just should have never happened. Hermione's POV
It was never a good idea for Ron and I to marry so soon after the war. We never had the chance to be a couple in a relatively normal world. Before, someone's life was always in danger, usually Harry's. There was no time for relationships, for testing the waters. It was just like any war in human history. You live for the day, future consequences be damned. I damned myself.
Every big unhappiness starts off with something small. All of the small things that are so small, you just brush them off and move on. You don't notice how big the pile is until it's really enormously big, and the only thing you can do is to just clear out of there.
He was always late, but that was to be expected; Ron never developed a sense of timing even during the war. I'm pretty sure that if Ron's mother hadn't been around, he would have been late to our own wedding because he's just not a morning person. Then there was the continued, public house prejudices when they were needed the least in a world that was rebuilding. I could go on and on, but I won't.
I don't know everything, but I try to. I just know that the moment I said "I do" and the envelopes in the owl post were addressed to "Mrs. Ron Weasley", I heard doors slamming in my head. In my mind, I was standing in a long hallway, holding Ron's hand while doors began to close one by one. I just knew that the longer I held his hand and stood there, the more doors would close and I would lose the opportunities I worked so hard to earn.
There was a job once, but it had to stop. Between Ron's idea of a marriage and Molly's "suggestions", I couldn't take the pressure anymore so I resigned. Everyone else told me not to, because I had so much potential, and because, well, Ron doesn't exactly have a concept of how to save money. I always meant to go back. I did it for my children. Rose and Hugo were young. Ron was always away at some form of Auror business and I couldn't ask Molly or anyone else to look after my children every day. What other choice did I have? When you become a parents, you do what's best for your children. I don't ever regret the choices I've made for the sake of my children. It's the ones I've made for the sake of my husband that I look back and ask myself if it was actually worth it.
There are days, you know? There are just days when he comes home only to eat, tell me that I haven't packed his suitcase for whatever conference he needs to go to. Or to tell me I dress like mu mother still picks out my clothes for me. Or tell me to fix whatever problem Rose or Hugo asked him to deal with, because he's too tired from work and he just wants to relax to another Chudley Cannons replay. I don't talk with him anymore. We just end up talking at each other. I apparently also need to be scheduled in. There are also no such things as free weekends in the Weasley family. Nope, weekends are for Quidditch, and I hate Quidditch.
I don't do anything in my life anymore. I don't thin I can even say that I'm human to myself or my husband. No, I'm a house-elf. I wake up, clean, cook, clean some more, cook again, do more housework just to keep things running. Call me Hermy, thanks.
Something hot is running down my cheek. Oh, tears. They're as hot as the dishwater. I'm so tired of being a Weasley; some mornings I wake up and think that it's awfully strange that I don't have a shock of bushy red hair, seeing as I'm usually surrounded by it. I dissolve into sobs. It's too much. I want out of this life. A door opens and closes.. It's Ron. I can tell from the stomps and the clink of the cake cover being lifted. I wait for those steps to come into the kitchen, but they never come. It's just a voice instead.
"Hermione," he says in between inhaling bites of cake. "I'll be going on a trip in two days for the Ministry. I need you to pack my bag for me." The sounds of hurried chewing come from the dining room and disappear into the bedroom. I sigh, wipe my hands and go into the bedroom. What, am I so unimportant now that I don't even deserve a "hello"? The urge to get out of this place where I'm just another piece of furniture is pulling me even more now.
"Pack your own bag, Ronald," I wearily reply as I sink into a chair. "'I'm tired and I have plans for the day." I don't really know what those plans are yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. I'm Hermione, I've been known to do some thinking.
"You?" Ron barks a laugh. "And those plans are what? Going to the library and relive the glory days of your bushy haired know-it-all childhood?"
"Don't you talk that way to me Ronald Weasly!" Is that the only way he sees me? That gawky eleven year old? That's a little disturbing. He doesn't do anything except shrug and start the bedtime rituals that I don't have a part in anymore.
"I'm a person, and I'll thank you to remember that." I'm standing now. "For your information, I'm looking for a job!" Not a bad idea, come to think of it, I have to get out of this house.
"Why would you want a job?" Of course he's flabbergasted. All of the Weasley women became housewives when they married, to show their family's status in wizarding society. That's fine, but I'm not a Weasley woman, and Ron still hasn't figured that out. I'm truly exasperated.
"Oh, I don't know…because money never seems to stay in with you no matter where I put it; because I want intellectual stimulation—oh wait, you still don't know those words do you, Ron?" I wince as soon as the words leave my mouth. Another reason why I should have never married the man—he brings out the worst in me and vice versa. I can see the red reaching the roots of his hair already as he sputters for an answer. This has to stop, before one of us does something we both will really regret. I flick my want and things fly around the room and onto the bed.
"I'm sorry, Ron," the fight as gone out of me now. I feel like a wrung-out dishtowel. I sort out the clothes I think I'll need, along with everything else.
"You're leaving me," the fight has gone out of him too. The tears start forming in my eyes again. "What about the Ministry's ball?"
"You'll survive," is my only reply. "You don't even notice me there anyways." It's true, he doesn't. We give our names then go our separate ways, to opposite ends of the room. In the beginning, I would go and find him. Then I just stopped, and he never bothered to come and look for me. We never talked when we got back either. Just put the children to bed and go to bed ourselves; go back to the routine of never really seeing each other.
"That's not true," he says softly, but he looks guilty.
"Ronald Weasley, when have you ever tried to dance with me at one of those things?" When he looks sheepish and doesn't reply, I raise my eyebrow. "Thought so." Back to packing.
"Don't leave, Hermione," he pleads with me. I've threatened to move out before, I've never packed up a suitcase and that scares him. "We can wor—"
"No, Ronald," I shake my head and close the clasps. "I've tried working it out for twenty years, but you're never here, or free up enough time to try with me." I throw my cloak on, as if it would be some sort of barrier between us.
"Tell me what I'm doing wrong! I'll change!" He looks so earnest now, I can't help but to start crying.
"Haven't you heard me? I've tried for twenty years, and I just can't try anymore!" I make my way past time out of the room, and down the hallway. In my head, doors start to open again.
"I'll be home more often, whatever you want me to do!" his voice cracks and I am so sorry but I can't stay any longer than I already have.
"It's too late for that. I asked you when Rose and Hugo were growing up. I asked you when they grew up and your decided that your wife didn't even need you at home anymore because her only job was to take are of your house!" There, that's out now. You know, I think that this is the first time in the thirty years we've known each other that he's actually listened to me. Yet another reason why we should have never gotten married.
"I'll do it now, I—" he starts but I open the door and cut him off.
"I'm tired of being your mother than your servant, Ron. I loved you when I married you and when the children were born. But you never saw me once the ring slipped on. You never saw anyone but yourself," I step out the door. He grabs my wrist like his hands are a vise.
"Don't be silly, Hermione," he says firmly. Great, now he decides to grow a backbone? "Of course I've always seen you."
"Have you?" I shoot back. "You ignore me at every function, and the only time you actually really see me is to tell me to do something for you or that I need to stop dressing like your mother!"
"I'm sor—" he starts to say, but I've had enough.
"You're hurting me, let me go." Surprised, he looks down and lets go. My wrist is red and tender to the touch. He's never done anything like that before. Usually it's just the words. Where is the boy I married? I catch myself and realize that he will always be just a boy to me. That red-haired, teaspoon's worth of emotions boy was a good friend, but he was always just a boy compared to everyone else. Just like I'll always be the bucktooth know-it-all to him. You can't go through married life as a boy and girl and stay sane.
"Goodbye, Ron." I blink through my tears. For all of my frustrations of being married to him, and wanting to leave him, I still care. It's harder all of a sudden. Three quarters of my life is hard to leave behind.
"Hermoine, please," he pleads one last time. Five years ago I would have given him another chance. Five years ago, the kids just finished school and we were starting off with a new slate. But his plea was too late and he knows it. I can see it in his eyes as he quickly reviews our years of marriage. He knows that I'm right, as usual.
I put my hand to his cheek. I smile a little. "Take care of yourself." Turning around, I walk down the path. I'm crying, I'm sad, I'm happy. I didn't mean to leave, I never meant to leave. Feeling my feet become lighter with each step though, I know I've made the right split-second choice. He's crying too, and it breaks my heart and pangs of guilt run through me. I beat it down. If I don't leave now, I never will. Maybe I'll go back, maybe I won't. The doors are all open now, I can choose which ones I want to go through.