A/N: Hello all! I've finally decided to start writing my own fan fiction after years of being an avid reader on this site. This idea's been bouncing around in my head for a while now, so I thought I'd take a chance and actually write it down and post it. Please Read and Review, and let this me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I definitely do not own Harry Potter, any of the characters or anything you recognize from the series. If I did, Dramione would have definitely gotten together in the end and fulfilled the one ship wish I since the second book came out.
Ronald Weasley stood there, in the dim lit hallway, staring intently at the grooves and marks on the wooden door. He noticed the golden number 8 hanging daintily in the middle, slightly glowing from the ceiling lights above it, as his gaze swept upwards along the pristine white door. His hand shook slightly as he raised – then promptly lowered – his fist to stop himself from knocking on the door.
It had been nearly six years that he'd been here; five years, two months and four days to be exact...not that he was counting. The last time he'd been standing in the same position, that white door had been slammed loudly in his face and that number 8 been the last thing he'd seen before he'd forced himself to apparate away. It hurt him to think back to that day because that was the day that he'd thrown away the best thing he'd ever had – the day he lost her.
His hand paused in mid air as he remembered his pathetic attempt at making excuses for his actions. 'Not happy.' 'Wanting more than a boring, work-oriented, prude.' 'Too young to settle down.' 'Had to be free to experience all that life had to offer before he was too old to appreciate it.'
He'd uttered all of these words, hoping that she'd be more understanding if she knew the reason why he acted as he did. He was only 21 and had gone through hell and back in the years prior to and during the war; suffering losses that he thought would never allow his heart to heal properly. But so had she. And at the time, he didn't feel like thinking about that too much. He'd never properly grieved his losses, choosing instead to settle quickly into a routine, doing exactly what everyone had expected of him. He asked her to be his girlfriend, accepted a job as an Auror, and settled into a boring routine, hoping that that would get rid of that empty feeling he couldn't get rid of.
The only bright side for him was the fame and money that came with being a War hero. He was worshiped by thousands and his family no longer had to suffer from lack of money. The Wizarding World was rebuilt and changes were starting to be seen everywhere by everyone. The War had brought about a new age for his fellow wizards and witches as they came together to rebuilt their world; changing and rebuilding themselves in the process. The War had left its mark on everyone- young and old, light and dark side- but people were determined to move forward and get their lives back on track.
It was a few months after the changes that things slowly began to get better for him too. As much as he'd enjoyed the fame, the devastation and horrors he'd seen because of the War never went away. She had begged him to seek help, to talk to someone when he refused to open up and talk to her. She'd even gone behind his back and set up an appointment with one of the leading psychologists in the Wizarding World. As angry as he'd been at her for that, he'd been forgiving – grateful even – after a few sessions. Healer Parker had turned out to be a blessing, not only for him but for his entire family; especially his mother and brother.
George had been a walking shell of himself after Fred's death, no longer the smiling prankster with endless enthusiasm and flair for causing mayhem. He hid himself away in his room or the back of the store he and his brother had dreamed up, and had taken up drinking in hopes of forgetting the pain of losing his other half. He'd almost allowed Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to run into the ground but she had somehow convinced him, along with Angelina Johnson- Fred's first and only girlfriend- to find a different outlet for his sorrows and accept their turned out to be good for him, the two having come together to grieve over Fred, and eventually fell in love.
They'd married just before "the Incident" that led him to lead Britain for America. Of course, she had been the Matron of Honour, having been the one who brought them together in the first place, to his Best Man, a position given to him only because the one George wanted there with him was no longer there. Since the wedding, George slowly began to revert back to old self, moving on and accepting that, while his twin would never be coming back, he'd always be there with him in spirit. It also didn't hurt that – even at the tender age of 2 – Fred Jr. was starting to take after his namesake. Together, Angelina and George worked to restore Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to its former glory, and the joke shop had flourished more than ever in the past few years.
His mother had not coped well with losing Fred and almost losing himself and Ginny. She and Ginny were the only two in the family who had openly accepted allowing someone to help; something that they accredited to her stubborn insistence that they listen to her and do as she asked.
His mother had attended every one of the sessions (group and individual) with Healer Parker and had worked her way through the pain of losing one of her children. Her penchant for taking care of her family had increased more if that was possible – compensation for losing Fred, Healer Parker had once commented – but she'd also become more open and forgiving. She'd said at a family session that she could no longer live life being angry about what had happened in the past; that life was too short to begrudge anyone. Imagine his surprise when he had returned to Britain one month ago and had been greeted by the sight of his mother and Narcissa Malfoy having tea in the sunroom that Arthur had built as an addition to their Burrow.
He'd never have guessed his mother would really live by the words she'd uttered in Healer Parker's room and forgive a Malfoy. His mother revealed to him later on that Narcissa's surprising visit to apologize for her family's actions in the past had forged the friendship between the two women. Despite years of hatred between the two families, and even Molly having killed Bellatrix (Narcissa's own sister) in order to protect Ginny in the War, the two women apparently had much in common (or so his mother said) and bonded over these similarities. His own experiences with, and hatred of, the Malfoy family could never allow him to trust Narcissa Malfoy – or the two remaining members of that dreadful family – but he didn't want to break his mother's heart or upset her in any way, so he'd faked support for the unlikely friendship. He'd just keep a close eye on his family and protect them from the snake that had infiltrated the Burrow if need be.
His family had moved on with their lives and, while Fred's death and the horrors they'd experienced were anything but forgotten, they'd all slowly worked their way back to being happy again. Even now, years after he'd left Britain and her, he knew that if not for her insistence to see Healer Parker, he'd never have been able to get out of that dark place he'd been stuck in. He knew he owed her a lot for her part in pulling the Weasley family back from the darkness, and how had he repaid her? He'd ripped her heart out and hurt her in the worst way possible. His hand came back down from its position on the wooden door and began to lose his courage as his thoughts took him back to that night. The night that had changed everything.
Though he'd worked out his issues and had stopped having nightmares about the War and Fred with Healer Parker's help, he'd been feeling more and more restless with the daily routine he'd unconsciously established that year. That was why, exactly one year after the war, he'd quit the Auror program and had tried out as Keeper for the Chudley Cannons. They'd accepted him of course; he was a War hero after all. The team he'd supported since he'd discovered Quidditch had vastly improved because of – dare he say it –his amazing skills.
After that, he was back to feeling like he was on top of the world. And with his new career and extended fame came the fans. The fans were his favourite part of the job. Especially the gorgeous, female, ones. Everywhere he went, there they were; praising him, telling him how much they loved him, and hanging on his every word. The first few cracks began to appear in their relationship. The gossip magazines and the papers went crazy for him. Where he loved all of the attention thrust upon him, she hated the fame and the spotlight. He started staying out later, choosing to spend time with his fans over her. He'd of course invited her at first, but her constant refusals and claims of being too tired from work or wanting a quiet night at home put a stop to his asking. Eventually, he ended up spending more time surrounded by fans in pubs than he did with her. The second group of cracks in their relationship. When he started to show up smelling of strong alcohol and women's perfume in the early hours of the morning, she'd yell at him or ignore his drunken attempts at being more intimate.
Up to then, he'd not once been unfaithful but the new routine of alcohol and yelling began to get old. Little by little, he began to realize that their relationship was crippling his freedom and need to experience what life had to offer beyond work and family. While his feelings for her had in no way gone away, his resolve to say no to some tempting offers others had slowly began to wane.
His first act of infidelity was completely unplanned, and he'd not been in a state to say no. It came the night after they had gotten into another screaming match when she'd asked him to forgo his Saturday pub trip and spend some alone time with her at her flat. He'd refused, saying that his fans were counting on him to show up and tell them all about that week's Quidditch practise and tales of past games. She began to complain about how he never wanted to be around for her anymore, that he no longer loved her or felt attracted to her, and he'd responded that it was hard to be when she paid more attention to her work than him. Twenty minutes of yelling back and forth, she accused him of cheating on her and he'd screamed back that if she didn't stop acting like a workaholic prude, he'd find someone and make that accusation a reality. She'd nearly hexed his bits off for that before she magically threw him out of her flat. He'd promptly gone to the pub and gotten smashed...and went home with the busty blonde woman that had been hanging off his arm that night.
When he woke up the next morning, he'd been horrified and instantly ashamed at himself. He'd quickly gotten dressed and left the nameless blonde asleep on her bed. He'd gone back to the Burrow and showered to get rid of any evidence of the previous night. She showed up later that day, apologized for making senseless accusations and asked for his forgiveness. Though his brain shouted that it was he who should be apologizing and begging for forgiveness, he chose to say that he forgave her and he too was sorry for what he'd said. She'd kissed him, said that he had been right the previous night, and then promised to cut down on her work hours to spend more time with him. He, in turn, made a promise to cut down his outings. He never did tell her about his night with the blonde, choosing instead to try and forget what he'd done and keep his promise to her. This lasted a month before he once again began feeling restless and craving more attention than she'd been able to give him.
He'd made an appearance at his favourite pub on a rare Tuesday, once she'd left after having gotten an emergency floo from one of the Healers at St. Mungo's. The blonde he'd cheated with that night was there again, and after an hour of interacting with her and his other rather avid fans, he'd once again gone home with the blonde. This time around, he was under no influence – acting purely on the feeling of exhilaration he'd gotten from the secret tryst. Once again, his visits to pubs began to grow in frequency and, along the way, he'd picked himself up a rotation of girls he'd have fun with on different days of the week.
She was none the wiser to his secret rendezvous with other women, which he explained as extra Qudditch practise for the upcoming International tournament. She had taken to extend her hours in treating and working with those that were hurt the worst in the War so she could be more productive and use her free time wisely when he'd be gone for days on end. He felt guilty about all the lying he'd been doing but the guilt was forgotten as soon as he was buried deep into his choice of the day. He was young and they weren't married yet, he rationalized. He'd never get these years back and he was determined to have as much fun as he could. What she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. He was convinced that they were endgame – she'd be there in the long run, and they would settle down together later. Now, he was barely 20 years of age, she just 21, so they had plenty of time to settle into married life and start giving his mother grandchildren. Youth was his to explore and discover all that he could.
Rumours began surfacing in Witch Weekly and other magazines about his constant female companions and the rare sightings of him with his actual girlfriend. None of his one-night stands (or regulars) came forward however, so he just denied they were true. He'd moved into his own flat months, claiming that he needed some rest from the hustle and bustle of the Burrow and a place to unwind that was near the stadium. It was there that she'd come in that fateful night, a bag of groceries in hand; ready to prepare them a nice meal to share as a prelude to the passionate night she had planned after weeks of not being together. She strolled in, using the key he'd given her to use when she felt it necessary – not that he thought she'd use it to surprise him. She still held onto her morals as tightly as before; she always floo'd him before she came over, in case he was tired from "practise" or he wasn't home. She froze at the sight in front of her at the same time that he did...on top of the still moaning and writhing brunette under him on the living room couch. The hurt reflected in her honey brown eyes in that moment sent a painful shot to his heart and, in that moment, Ronald Weasley realized he had just thrown away his future with his witch.
He'd kicked out Samantha...Sarah...whatever her name was as he pulled his pants and shirt on as quickly as possible and apparated to her flat in hopes that he could make her understand he'd not meant anything by fooling around with someone else. By the time he gotten there, she was sobbing and throwing everything she had in her flat that was connected to him in any way in a pile of the floor. She'd been crying and his appearance only served to make everything worse. Her yelling increased in volume and the objects she was getting ready to throw on the pile suddenly had a new target – him. He pleaded with her to let him explain, to stop throwing things as he just barely dodged the barrage of objects hurled at him. Of course, as much as he'd like to think he'd changed in the three years after the war, his temper was still as short as it had been in their younger days at Hogwarts and he began to yell back in frustration. It was there he proceeded to tell her that he didn't want to be tied down so young, that he wanted some time to enjoy his youth and explore the changing world around him, and that she was just caging him and denying him his freedom.
She stopped throwing things at him then, and just stared him with an unreadable expression on her beautiful, tear-stained, face. She let him blurt out excuse after excuse for his behaviour and betrayal, and then promptly took out her wand and sent multiple hexes and curses his way. After a nasty spell that left his face full of boils, she wordlessly threw him across the room at the now open door of her flat...and slammed it in his face after telling him, in a voice devoid of any emotion, that she would no longer hold him back and he was now free to have as much "fun" as he wanted, with whoever he wanted.
He'd been heartbroken for days that they were over. Although he'd been unfaithful for almost a third of their 3 year relationship together and had often felt stifled by her, he still loved her. Days later, once the reporters had caught wind of the break up, several witches started coming forward and sharing their stories of nights he'd spent with them. Everywhere he turned, people were talking about him; though no longer with the same admiration they spoke with before. Many shunned him on her behalf- his family and teammates included. His family, having heard what happened directly from her, was shocked and disgusted by his behaviour and things soured between him and them. It took him two years to get back into his family' good graces, but things were still frosty with Harry and Ginny- who'd gotten married promptly after the War, and were expecting a brother for their now three year old son James any day- as well as with George, who'd appointed himself her unofficial big brother since the day she helped him turn his life back around after losing Fred. They were on speaking terms but the three often avoided spending any time with him alone. The rest of the Weasley's were only slightly friendlier but it just wasn't the same and that fact was blatantly obvious.
Two months after news of their break up had been published – fed up with the gossip, stares and whispers on the streets and in the papers – he asked his coach to transfer to the American National Quidditch team to get away. He made a vow to move past the mess he'd left behind, the words Healer Parker had spoken years prior about moving forward with life resounding in his head. In America, he'd had his fair share of women, and enjoyed being young and wild and free. But that lifestyle quickly lost its lustre as the years went by. He missed having someone who wanted him for him and not for being "Ronald Weasley, the Quidditch star." He missed having his family around; the noise of the constant comings and goings around the Burrow. He missed having a best friend and brother-in law in Harry. But most of all, he missed her; the stubborn, loyal, caring woman he'd so selfishly hurt. He heard, at one of the infrequent weekend brunches and dinners he'd started having at the Burrow again, that she'd been promoted to head Healer of her ward and that she'd been doing "just fine." That was all they told him, refusing to go into more detail. Their hardened stares as he tried to press for more information spoke volumes and had quickly silenced him.
One month after coming back to England for good, he knew he had to find her. He took a shot and apparated in front of the flat she had purchased after the war, hoping she was still living there. He knew not to even bother asking anyone for her address after their frosty reaction to his questions about her during dinner. Not even his mother who – despite her "no grudges" rule, had yet to truly get over what he'd done to the young witch she considered one of her own children – would tell him anything.
So here he was, nearly six years later, ready to finally beg her for her forgiveness once more. He had realised that he had given up something meaningful for nights of debauchery with endless women who were only interested in his money and who were using him just as much – if not more – than he used them. He had grown up from the selfish 21 year old that left her and knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted a life with her: growing old together, having a brood of smart, stubborn, children with flaming red hair and bossy attitudes. He knew that he'd done nothing to deserve it; he only hoped that she would be her wonderful forgiving self and give their love one more chance. Not having her around for the past years, he realized that he loved her now more than ever; if that was possible. He was ready to give her what he couldn't six years ago; ready to give her – and only her – his heart and commit only to her.
With that last thought in mind, he summoned up all the courage he possessed and knocked on the door before he changed his mind and hesitated again. He waited a few seconds before knocking again, growing more confident by the second that he needed to make it right with her. He needed to see her beautiful face and kind eyes once more; it had been too long. The picture he carried around of the two of them in their better days did the real her no justice and he was certain that she had probably only gotten more beautiful with age. Just as he was about to knock for a third time, he heard the lock turn and the door swung open. Ron blinked in confusion as he was met with the inside of the flat but saw no one in front of him. He observed the space in front of him, decorated in soft, warm, tones but completely different from the last time he'd been there. Before he could think deeper about what that meant, he heard a small, high, voice coming from behind the open door.
Ron looked down at a pair of blue-grey eyes peering around the door at him in questioning. The small boy, probably no more than four years of age, kept eye contact as he repeated his greeting again.
"Uhhh...R-ron, my name is Ron. I...I think I may have the wrong addre..." But he never got to finish. For just around the corner, from the area Ron could remember led to the bedrooms, emerged someone that Ron hadn't seen since the end of the final battle. Draco bloody Malfoy. Dressed in a MUGGLE suit!
"Scorp!" he scolded when he saw the front door partially open. "How many times have I told you never to open the door without someone there with you?"
"I's sorry Dada. No mowe, Scowpy pomise," the little boy responded.
Ron stood there, mouth open and gawking at the oblivious Malfoy, whose focus was still on his son. Draco freaking Malfoy had reproduced? Although, knowing that that family had been bred to carry on the pureblood tradition, he wasn't too surprised. What he couldn't comprehend was what Malfoy, dressed as a muggle no less, was doing in what Ron still considered Hermione's house. Maybe she had moved out after all...
"Just don't d...Weaselbee? That you? Wow, the years have definitely not been kind to you!" The blond came to stand in front of him and quickly picked up the little boy, who had come out from behind the door once his father had approached.
'That bloody ferret! Who does he think he is, standing there and insulting me?' thought Ron. 'Probably jealous no one wants his ex-Death Eater self.'
"I came here looking for someone else Malfoy," Ron hissed. "But it seems as if I've mistaken the address so I'll be going now."
Malfoy only smirked in response, something the boy in his arms quickly emulated. Quickly scrutinizing the child in his childhood bully's arms, he knew that the boy was definitely a Malfoy. Same bleach blond hair, same blue-grey eyes, and the same infuriating smirk as the older Malfoy. He quickly schooled his features to hide his anger at having that smirk directed at him again. He'd hated that when they were children at Hogwarts, and he still hated it today. Just as he was about to make a comment, he heard light footsteps making their way to the small foyer, followed by a gentle voice.
"Draco? Who's at the door love?"
"It couldn't be! Please, dear Merlin, don't let that be who I think it is!" Ron repeated this mantra in his head over and over as the footsteps got closer.
He was rooted on the spot, praying that it was only his wild imagination and desire to see his witch again that made it sound as though it was her voice he'd just heard. By the widening of the smirk on Malfoy's face, and the small squeal of "My-knee" emitted by mini-Malfoy at the approaching body, Ron suddenly felt sick to his stomach.
'It can't be! No, pl...' And then the person came into view.
There, dressed to the nines in a tight, blood red, dress, stood Hermione Granger.