Authors Notes: This is a new fic Im working on. Im planning on putting up one chapter every week. Im also looking for a new beta who can help me with styling issues and encouragement. Please email me if youd like to help. Also, reviews keep my muse fed and happy.
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Originally betad by nomeci
Disclaimer: All characters and plot lines are the property of J.K. Rowling and Associates. I do not own any of it or make any money from it.
Chapter 1: Shocking News
Harry woke up to the sound of the alarm clock going off. Like every other morning, he reached over to hit the snooze button. Just ten more minutes. Again, just as always, ten more minutes were not enough, but he got up anyway and headed to the bathroom to take care of his morning routine. After that he went down to the kitchen to find Dinky preparing breakfast and sat down at the head of the table. The same as every morning.
His three children came down soon after, but they did not make the racket that you would expect in a house full of children with Weasley blood. Instead, their feet made soft sounds on the carpeted stairs. James was still in his pyjamas, hair sticking up all over, obviously having just rolled out of bed. He was not a morning person and usually groaned at everything and everyone until he changed and was off to school.
He was followed by Albus, who found his chair with only a glance away from his book. Harry let out a sigh at the title "The 12 Uses of Mandrake Root". It was uncanny how that boy loved Potions, when neither of his parents did. He was also extremely intelligent, having learned how to read and write at the age of four from his Aunt Hermione. Ever since then he had read everything he could get his hands on, first starting with Harrys old school books. Of course, besides those there were not many books around, so they had to make frequent stops at book stores once he was done with those. Which took him three months. Harry just hoped he would use all the spare time he had at Hogwarts gaining friends. Albus wanted to go to Hogwarts already, but there were no early admissions. He couldnt wait to discuss things with professors and finally have more people to talk to than Aunt Hermione. His parents hardly understood what he spoke about most of the time, hence all the reading. Not even Hermiones children could keep up with him, both too much like their father, Ron.
Lily also shuffled down, her small legs still having a bit of a hard time on the steps, but she clutched her dragon all the same. That stuffed animal was almost as big as her, but she loved dragons and that one was her favourite. She took it everywhere with her. Harry just smiled at her red head. He always tried to not think of a certain man named Dragon when she demanded to be read a story with dragons. He sometimes wondered what Lily would think of Draco.
Dinky laid out their breakfast. Harry ate ham and eggs with toast, James cereals, Albus a sandwich and Lily porridge. The tea was served and doctored to their tastes as well and their fruit juice was poured. Ginny insisted on them having fruit juice even when she was not there. Just as every morning.
Ginny was not at the table. Like most mornings, she was away somewhere. Harry tried to remember where she had gone off to, then recalled her mentioning some tropical island in the Pacific. He couldn't think of the name though. In the last two years she had proclaimed that she had had enough of sitting at home and expressed a desire to travel. Harry would have gone with her, but she didnt want the presence of the children, and Harrys career was important, so she went off on her own. Ever since then, she would only stay a week at home at a time, until she wanted to be somewhere else. Harry understood her desire to see the world and as she was his wife, he supported her fully. The children occasionally missed her, but Harry always had a more active role in their lives, even when she was present. Harry always understood everything she did.
After breakfast he sent the boys up to get dressed and taking the four-year-old Lily himself, got her ready for the day as well. Once everyone was ready, he used the Floo in the living-room to take James and Albus to the magical primary school that their grandmother, Molly Weasley ran and then dropped Lily off at the day-care. In no time at all, he was sitting behind his desk in the Ministry, looking at his Auror files. Just like every day.
However, his routine was broken by an owl that he received. It was from Hermione Weasley, who requested a lunch date from him. Since he didn't have any plans, he replied that he accepted her offer.
"Hello, Harry," Ron said as he sat down at his desk next to him. Thirty minutes late, as usual.
"Good morning, Ron." He smiled at his best friend and turned back to the file he was looking at.
"So, Harry, when can we catch our guy?" he asked, eagerly anticipating the chance to fight.
"We don't even know who it is yet, he reminded the hot-head and glanced back at another set of data in front of him. It could be a woman, he thought, considering the shoe prints found at the scene.
"Probably some Death Eater scum. We should have rounded up everyone with a Mark at the end of the war. Less trash lining the streets," he voiced one of his opinions that was oft heard by everyone around him.
"You seem to forget, not everyone with a Mark was evil."
"Bollocks. And you, letting the Malfoys get away. I don't know what you were thinking. The whole family should have been Kissed and that would have been the end of it, finally."
Harry just sighed and didn't even comment on that.
"What?" Ron was getting redder by the minute. "Malfoy reproduced! He has a son, Harry, another generation of that shit and we could have stopped it from happening! That boy is going to go to Hogwarts with our children! Bring them misery like their father did to us!"
"You don't know that." Harry was staying calm. He found it so easy to stay calm since the war; it just came naturally to him. He was not even the least tempted to mention how he had saved Malfoys life, or how Narcissa Malfoy saved his.
"He's a Malfoy and from what I've seen of him, looks just like his father. So yeah, I do know it."
Harry just shook his head and let it slide.
* * *
Lunch could not come soon enough for Harry. Ron was not in a good mood and he was trying everything to calm the man down, but he kept spewing hatred. He was relieved when he could go and sit down in his favourite pub. Good thing that Ron always brought home-made food and ate it in the cafeteria. They did not have a lot of money with his wife at home and two kids. Aurors were not making a lot of money and Harry was glad for his inheritance. Though at the rate Ginny was spending money abroad Soon enough Hermione appeared as well, and she joined his table.
"Honestly, Harry, do you ever have lunch at a different place?" she asked, scoffing at him a bit.
"No. I like it here," he said, his ever-present little smile firmly on his face.
"Don't you just want to try something different from time to time?"
"No. Why would I?" Harry couldn't understand what she was on about.
"All right," with these words she gave up, and soon they both ordered.
Harry didn't even have to look at the menu, he always had the same thing: beef Wellington, mash and carrots. Hermione on the other hand took her time and ordered grilled chicken with vegetables. Soon they were both eating, though Hermione seemed to be more preoccupied with her thoughts, than her food.
"You wanted to have lunch with me for a reason," Harry started after he gave up waiting for her to do so.
"Yes." She seemed to brace herself for what she was about to say. "I wanted you to know first. I'm divorcing Ron."
Harry's utensils fell on his plate in a riot of noise. He stared at her with his mouth agape and she just looked down at her plate. He couldn't believe his ears.
"But why? And does he know about it?" he asked, remembering how unchanged Ron was that morning.
"Im telling him tonight. I'm just not happy, Harry. Ever since the war I feel like I've only been existing, just going along with things. I do everything the way Ron wants it done. We had kids when he wanted them. I stay at home like he wants me to. I can't go on like this. I have to separate myself from him. It's like I'm trapped. Don't get me wrong, I love my children. But I had such plans." She sighed, remembering those days. "I wanted to work in something where I could do a lot of research. Maybe in mediwizardry, or some other science. I wanted to travel, see the world. After the war it seemed like I lost all my passion. I just went along with what Ron said. I lost myself." She was babbling and she knew it, but it was like a dam breaking. Everything was just pouring out of her.
"I still don't understand why you feel this way so suddenly. You seemed happy and content before," Harry noted.
"I was, she agreed. I don't know what happened, but I feel like I woke up from a long sleep. Maybe it's my diet."
"Diet?" he frowned. What would eating have to do with anything?
"That is the only thing that changed recently. You see, I was feeling off a few months ago. I went to see a mediwizard, but he couldn't see anything wrong with me. So I saved up from the grocery money and went to see a Muggle doctor. He had some tests done and it turned out that I had a Candida infection."
"What's that?" Harry asked, not having a clue about what a 'Candida' was.
"It's a mushroom in your intestines," she said that word like any other, but Harry had to force himself not to be put off of his food. "So, it's there normally, but sometimes it spreads and you have too much of it. So then you need to kill it. They gave me some pills and prescribed this really strict diet. I had to give up sugar of all kinds and flour of all kinds. Plus mushrooms, but I don't like that much anyway. Oh, and no sweet fruits or juices."
"I still don't understand what this whole thing has to do with you divorcing Ron." Harry was starting to get annoyed with how she drew out her story.
"About a month into the diet I started to feel more energised. I played with the kids more, but that didn't satisfy me anymore. So I brought out some of my old books and got to reading again. I haven't read anything but brainless novels for such a long time! It was like I had been sleeping for so long and just woke up. I tried to talk to Ron about it." She shook her head, signalling how well that talk went. "I told him that I wanted to go back to studying and become a healer. I have secretly thought of doing that since second year, but he told me he wanted more kids. I don't, Harry. I love them, but two is enough. Ron just ignored me and said that Weasleys always had big families, so we would too. As if my opinion didn't matter!" She was clearly distraught over the matter. "Then I realised I haven't had an opinion about anything, or contradicted him since the war."
"But Hermione, you wanted what Ron did when you got married," Harry pointed out. "He said you guys would have a big family and you agreed."
"I did?" She frowned, obviously trying to recall the memory. "I don't remember. Everything from before is in such a fog. Still, ever since I woke up and have been trying to take a more active role in my life, Ron had been ignoring me, or placating me, or trying to make me drink that stupid fruit juice, when I told him I couldn't drink juice anymore. I just can't be with him! I don't want to be with him. I don't even remember why I married him in the first place!" She was desperately trying not to scream, but she obviously wanted to in her frustration.
"You loved him," Harry stated, remembering the way she cried over him dating Lavender their sixth year.
"I did, before the war. I was deeply disappointed in him when he left us in the tent though. Sure, he came back, but I was still bitter about it. I actually didn't want to get together with him after that. But then the war ended, I moved in with the Weasleys and it just seemed so natural..." her voice carried off. "Harry, I think you may have the same problem!"
"What? I don't feel nauseous," he protested, giving up sugar and flour just sounded awful. "I don't want to diet!"
"It's not for forever, Harry, just 6 months. I think you haven't been the same either, since the war. The way you sit in front of me now, your shoulders slumped, your eyes almost dropping. Harry, you eat the same thing every day, and don't even deny it," Hermione explained, her voice full of concern for her friend.
"I'm fine," he grunted out, not willing to agree with her point.
"But you're not happy, Harry. You barely smile, just sometimes your lips stretch. Try the diet for two months, and if you don't want to do it anymore, you don't have to." Hermione took his hand and her eyes pleaded him to agree.
"All right, Hermione, I'll try." Harry gave up fighting her.
She smiled, and went on eating her food. While eating the rest of their meal, she explained to him the diet in greater detail, making Harry dread the coming months. It was not going to be easy. For a second he wondered why he went along with it, then remembered that nowadays, he always went along with everything.
They left the subject of the divorce for a later time.