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Chapter 2: Avoiding the Truth
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“Maybe he lost his memory?” Harry suggested to his girlfriend after they had put Hermione to bed in their guest bedroom.
“Maybe,” Ginny added thoughtfully.
Neither one had been able to figure out exactly what to do. Ron had been gone for almost four years now, after the first two they had pretty much given up any hope of finding him again. Of course Harry had kept his ear to the ground so to speak, following any lead that he could to try and find his best friend, but nothing had ever turned up to be any good. To have Ron come back all of a sudden on his own was quite unexpected to say the least.
“I’m going to put in a floo to Reynolds, get him to start looking into where Ron might be now.”
“Yeah,” Ginny added. She hadn’t even realized what she had agreed to; not that she would have argued against going to the Head of the Auror department. She just couldn’t wrap her head around it. Why now? Where had he been? Were just a few of the questions that were swimming around in her brain.
She had to talk to her mum, she had to tell her that Ron was alive and possibly back. Getting up from her seat without even acknowledging Harry, Ginny went towards the door.
“Wait!” Harry demanded, “Where are you going.”
Barely registering what she was saying Ginny just mumbled “The Burrow” and went off. Her brain was in overdrive and was not going to slow down for anyone, not even Harry Potter. It took her only a few moments before she found herself in front of her family home, she hadn’t even remembered apparating.
Without knocking she entered the house, not sure yet exactly what she would say to her mother when she did confide in her. Her search hadn’t taken long, in the kitchen she saw her mum standing in front of the table serving a hot cup of tea to…Ginny shook her head and looked again… it was Ron. Ron was sitting in their kitchen. Ron who had been missing for almost four years was casually sipping at a cup of tea at their table.
She froze; mouth agape. Sure Hermione had told her that he was back, but for some reason Ginny had thought that would mean that they would have to find him. After the way that Hermione had described their interaction Ginny was sure that Ron had some memory charm placed on him, but here he was at home, sitting around as if he had never left. It just didn’t register.
“Oh Ginny,” her mum said as she turned around and took in the shocked expression of her only little girl. “Isn’t it wonderful? Ron has come home.” There were fresh tears on her mum’s cheeks and her eyes were red and puffy.
Hesitantly she stepped into the kitchen and towards her long lost brother who she had given up for dead. He gave her a tentative smile as she neared him slowly. His hair shaggier then she had ever seen it and a few days worth of stubble on his more mature looking face showed to Ginny the passage of time. He looked so much older, yet it was him. Her hand reached out to touch his shoulder, to feel that he was in fact really there. When her fingers made contact with his shirt the tears that she hadn’t even realized she had been holding back flowed freely down her face. He stood and she hugged him fiercely.
Hermione awoke disoriented, not exactly sure where she was at first. It took her a couple of moments to recognize the pale yellow walls and floral bedspread of Harry and Ginny’s guest bedroom. Her head ached and her face felt swollen and sticky. Then like a bolt of lightning she remembered why she was here, what had happened that afternoon. She rose quickly from the bed and had to steady herself as she felt the rush of blood to her head and her vision went a bit hazy.
Once she was able to get her bearings back she went straight for the door and rushed down the stairs. Harry poked his head out from the parlor as she tore past the door.
“Hermione?” He sounded worried, but she didn’t have time to think about it, she just continued on past the kitchen hand outstretched for the front door knob.
“Hermione! Wait!” Harry stormed after her, she yanked the door open and as soon as her foot hit the front stoop she spun and apparated to her favorite part of her large garden. The sight of bluebells greeted her cheerfully.
She just needed time, time to think and process. There was no doubt in her mind that it was Ron, no question that she had been only hoping to see him and therefore he was there. She would have known that face anywhere even if he had been ten blocks away instead of the one.
She recalled how his blue eyes had met hers so briefly; how they held no recognition of her? How could he not know her, how was she able to spot him in a crowd of so many people and he was not able to do the same? She was hurt, but even more then that she was confused. Had she wasted all of these years pining over someone who obviously didn’t have a second thought for her?
No, there must be something wrong. Maybe it was a memory charm, or a potion, maybe whoever had taken him had scarred him so badly that he blocked out all of his past, or maybe, a little voice in her head said, he never really loved you. She tried to block out the doubt, to force those kinds of thoughts from her mind, but after four years of being without him how could she be certain that he hadn’t just left, there was no proof that he had been taken.
Maybe he had hated being tied to her, hated the life that he was stuck in with her by his side. How else was he to escape? The whole world expected them to be together, his mother, his whole family, Harry and especially her. Maybe it had all been too much and he needed to get away.
She then thought about the circumstances that made her wait until today to get the potion ingredients. What if she had gone on Thursday instead of getting wrapped up in her research for the different translations of the Ankh. What if I had just gone straight to lunch with Ginny? Her mind was reeling from all of the ‘what if’s’ that tore through it.
Breaking out of her reverie Hermione found herself in the part of the garden that held their prize winning black tulips. The black tulips had always sent a chill up her spine; she had read somewhere about how that black tulip had once been the most sought after bulb in the world, but she couldn’t understand the fascination. Draco of course had to have them because they were rare and expensive, but Hermione rarely ever found herself in this part of their garden. They were so still and eerie, and brought thoughts of torture and darkness to her mind. Hurriedly she found the path that would lead her toward her home.
She pushed open one of the French doors that led into the back sitting room. It was her favorite room in the house; its dark wood flooring and coffee colored walls were so warm and inviting. She curled up in one of the plush ivory chairs that faced the brick fireplace and let her thoughts trail again to Ron; the flames that were flickering in the fireplace reminding her of his shaggy red hair.
Hours later she was still sitting there when she felt someone hovering over. She needn’t have turned around to know it was Draco, his musky cologne overpowering every other scent in the room.
“Hello,” she said tonelessly. He leaned down and kissed her lightly on the top of her head.
“How was your lunch?” There was a slight note of worry in his voice which normally would have her rushing to relieve his worry as well as her guilt, but today she wasn’t up to the task, instead she just shrugged her shoulders and continued to stare into the flames.
Draco’s looming figure was before her now, standing over her with a look of concern and apprehension. “Hermione,” he pulled her chin up with his pointer finger, “what’s wrong?”
What could she say? She couldn’t tell him that she had seen Ron today. She could barely register it herself, and she knew that even if she did tell him he wouldn’t believe her. He would say that she must have been imagining things.
“Nothing,” she finally decided to say. She arose from the chair and ignored Draco’s pointed look of disbelief. “What should we have for dinner?” She asked, hoping that her change of subject would distract him.
It seemed to have worked, as after a slight debate, they decided on Duck. At dinner, Hermione, to overcompensate for what she was actually feeling inside became highly animated about the wonderful morning she had shopping.
“So did you get everything we needed then?” Draco asked as he cut a precise piece of duck.
She had dropped her bags on the street when she had spotted Ron, but Hermione smiled and said, “Oh yes, everything.”
“Good, I was meaning to brew some Calming Drought on Thursday, something I could take after work, but…,” Draco gave her a pointed look of disappointment. “I needed something to unwind after that unfortunate owl I received. It is going to be a tough week.”
“Yes I am sorry about that. Has it been really so stressful at work?” She needed to distract him, how could she explain that, she really didn’t have the ingredients, they were rotting along the gutters of Diagon Alley somewhere after she had dropped them upon seeing Ron.
Draco groaned. “You wouldn’t believe what the goblins are trying to pull over on me. Those nasty, little, gold hungry pieces of…”
“Dray-co” Hermione stretched out his name in an admonishing tone.
“What? They are filthy little rodents and all they want to do is…”
“DRACO!” Her shout jolted him a bit but he was able to compose himself quickly.
“Sorry,” he murmured under his breath.
She gave him a slight smile to show that she forgave him, though inside she was still seething, but her distraction had worked and she wouldn’t have to explain about not having the potion ingredients.
They made small talk during the rest of their meal and when he was done with the strawberry sorbet that Twinkles had served for dessert he arose from his chair.
“Off to the den then?” She asked, as that was his normal nightly ritual after dinner.
“No,” he said as if he were talking to a child, “I am going to make the Calming Drought.”
Hermione felt her chest tighten; she had to think fast. She rose from her chair and headed towards her husband. “Are you sure that is the only way that you can get calm tonight?” She said in what she hoped was a seductive voice, though she couldn’t be sure that her nerves weren’t showing through.
Draco cocked an eyebrow at her. “It’s Saturday.”
“So,” Hermione cooed as she ran a finger down his chest. His eyes were wide at first, but then she saw the cool gray darken with desire. He grabbed her hand when it reached his belt buckle and pulled her close to him. He smashed his lips onto hers, kissing her as he never had before, as if he wanted to consume her.
After the initial shock of it she gave into his kisses. She had started this and she would let it continue. He ripped at her blouse and the buttons flew every which way. Feverishly he ran his hands along her body, groping and grasping. His mouth left hers and began to kiss her collar bone, her neck, just under her ear lobe.
Hermione, instead of fighting it as she normally did, gave into the images of Ron that swam through her brain and soon she found herself clawing at Draco’s shirt and un buckling his trousers with as much if not more ferocity. She pulled his bare chest against her own and held onto him tightly as he pushed her back towards the dining room table.
He lifted her easily onto the antique oak table and carelessly moved aside any objects that were in their way.
Hermione tried to wrap her legs around his waist but he stopped her and she watched as her skirt and then knickers fell to the floor after his hurried removal of them. Her legs quickly wrapped themselves around his waist and pulled him back towards her.
They had never had sex like that; spontaneously, roughly. It had always been a careful kind of love making, as if he had been afraid that he might break her and she had been afraid to let herself go. When they were done, Hermione still propped on top of their dining room table, Draco fallen into a panting heap in one of the velvet lined chairs, Hermione wondered if it was considered cheating to think about someone else while you made love to your husband?
She stared straight ahead, not wanting to see the blond hair and grey eyes that she knew would stare back at her. She could hear his heavy breathing slowly begin to calm and in that moment, without saying a word, she took her clothes from the floor not bothering to even put them on she kissed Draco on the top of his head and she made her way up to their bedroom.
A/N: So that was chapter two. Let me know what you thought. Anything that you think needs changing? There are going to be only a few more 'provactive' chapters, so don't think that this all the this story is going to be about. Thanks to all who have read and special thanks to those who have reviewed. Reviews make my day (even the not complimentary ones).