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Chapter 4: The Fourth Drink Instinct
I don't own anything but the plot.
Apart from my usual warning that this story contains sensitive issues, substance use/abuse, and foul language, I wanted to say thank you! I've gotten so many lovely reviews on this story, and I jumped from 9 favourites to 19 in the last chapter. You readers are fantastic, and I appreciate the reviews. I DO respond to every review, so if you leave a question/comment/concern/anything, I will get back to you!
I had always been a light sleeper. And a lousy one. It took me ages to fall asleep, but if anyone made a peep or the house creaked, I was up. I would like to say it was a side-effect from the war; a paranoid mind. But it had always been that way. As a result, I had experienced maybe twenty nights of complete peace since I was eleven.
What woke me up on this particular occasion was a crash and a bang. Then giggling, footsteps up the stairs, and finally, more banging. And squeaking, of the mattress-spring variety. I gagged before I realized what I was doing. Of course, that had been me for years. The girl in Ron's bed. But of course, I never really listened to myself. Halfway through their... business, after resigning myself to the fact I would not get back to sleep, I made the journey down the stairs to the kitchen. I put the kettle on and checked the fridge for cheesecake. The dish was not in the fridge, so I grabbed some milk before I checked the counters.
There it was. The cheesecake was gone, but there were still some leftovers caked onto the bottom and around the edges of the glass pan. I grabbed a fork, put a bag of Orange Pekoe into a mug, and sat down at the counter. I grabbed the jar of sugar, scooping two large teaspoons into the cup, and poured the almost-boiling water into it. A shot of milk later, I pulled my legs up onto the seat and began picking away at the cheesecake.
I was too far away from the attic to hear anything now, but I could tell what was happening, from years of experience. Sure, Ron was... good, and everything, but I didn't miss it. I didn't miss falling asleep next to him, I didn't miss his snoring. I didn't miss anything. Maybe it was crass and maybe it's hard to believe, but most days I'm not sure I was in love with him. There I go again, refusing to be broken-hearted. But it's the truth.
I was on my third cup of tea, still picking away at my breakfast, when Ron's mystery woman came down the stairs, hair a mess, shoes in hand, guilty look perfected.
Upon seeing me, her guilty look doubled and I almost saw a flash of pain cross her face.
“What's up?” I asked her, with as much aplomb as a sleep-deprived wreck like me could muster.
“Erm, hi,” she offered shyly.
“Cup of tea?” I held up the extra cup I had prepared, having timed her exit down to a T.
“No, thank you. I'd just like to go home,” she told me. I looked at her plainly. Her make-up was a bit smudged, her outfit was too small, and her heels were too high. I surmised from her appearance that she was a muggle. Most witches her age knew me on sight. That wasn't my ego talking, it was fact. I was on the front of every wizarding newspaper two years running, until last year. However, I had recently reappeared, given my condition. It was also due to the fact that she would have stayed in his bed until morning, if she had known he was the famous Ronald Weasley. Maybe that was why Ron went to a muggle establishment last night; to avoid waking up next to someone. I instantly took pity on her, and grabbed my coat.
“I'll drive you.” If Ron knew I had taken his car, it was possible he would murder me. But what did I care? I would probably thank him for it.
While driving the girl home, I learned her name was Emily, and she was currently in school to become a nurse. She was out with her friends and made a poor decision; one she normally wouldn't make. I felt sorry for her. If she was going to go out and have a one-night stand, I was sorry it had to be with Ron. Emily was a nice girl; she deserved a nice guy. One that was her own age. Sure, Ron was only 24. But she was only 19. I bet he felt pretty good about himself right now, but Emily was feeling terrible. It made me respect him a little less.
“Good-bye, Emily,” I said, pulling in front of her house, in a nice neighbourhood in Ottery St. Mary.
“Thank you, Hermione,” she sounded so sincere and all I could do was smile sadly.
I returned home and reclaimed my spot at the counter before anyone else was up, let alone Ron. He would never know I borrowed his car. He never used it anyway. Unless he went out to muggle clubs like he did last night.
Instead of saying hello to Dr. Camelia Gorner, I simply yawned when I entered her office.
“Rough night?” she asked sarcastically. She knew as well as I did that I wasn't exactly allowed to leave the house. And not many “rough” things could happen where I was staying.
I smiled drily, “You know, the usual. Booze, strippers, hallucinogens.”
“So what's happened since our last session?” She always did this. Skipped right past my small talk and started talking about my feelings. Awesome.
“Let's see; I made a friend. Broke up with my boyfriend, drove four of his one-night stands home, did some laundry, drank some tea, uh-” Before I could continue with the last couple days, she cut me off.
“You had a boyfriend?” Interesting how she seemed to jump right over the four one-night stands. Yes, four. After Emily, there was Sasha, Julie, and Naomi.
Sasha was a petite blonde, who was the exact sort of girl to sleep around. She was the complete opposite to Emily. She couldn't find her shirt the next morning, and I happened to feel sorry enough to give her one of mine. I don't know why I did it; maybe I felt it was my fault she was the one in Ron's bed. Either way, I was down one item of clothing, and rather upset about it.
Julie was another petite blonde, but she was closer to Emily, except for the age. She had a sweet smile and a mess of curly hair that was slightly reminiscent to mine, in my earlier years. Apparently she met Ron when he spilled a drink on her lap. I unbegrudgingly gave her a pair of jeans.
Naomi had red hair, and I feel that may have been a bonding moment for she and Ron, but she didn't speak enough to tell me. Another shirt gone, due to torn buttons. Any more girls, and I would be out of a wardrobe. So it irked me more than a little when Dr. Camelia didn't focus on that fact as solely as I did.
“Why do you find that so hard to believe?” I asked incredulously.
“It's just that you've never mentioned one.”
“I was with Ronald. For about six years,” I explained. Good Lord, had it really been that long? I wasted so much of my life with him. Of course, it wasn't my intention to sever all contact with him now, but it was due time for a break. Of course, that was impossible with him shagging everything in sight, right above my bedroom.
“Hermione, I find it hard to believe you're so ambivalent about ending a six-year relationship,” she started.
“Do you really?” I asked. After all, I had been just as careless with ending my own life; how could I care about ending a relationship I never really felt a part of in the first place? Deep down, I convinced myself I loved him at one point. But somewhere along the way, when he started caring more, I started caring less. I distanced myself. I missed out on what our relationship could have been. But I didn't give a shit.
A/N: So I know you guys want longer chapters, but I prefer the shorter ones. I'm terrifically sorry and all, but I prefer to leave you wanting more ;)
Perchance I shall leave you with a teaser?
“To what do I owe the pleasure of this very unscheduled visit?” Draco asked upon opening the door.
“Shut up. You're my administrator; you have to listen to me,” I started my case immediately.
“I'm your administrator when we've agreed to a meeting. We have one two days from now. On Thursday.”
“Then you're my... friend, alright?” That's right. I was breaking out the big guns on this one. It was new territory for me, and the territory made me desperate enough to call him a friend. Of course he already thought we were friends. But in my head, we were still the same bitter enemies we were in Hogwarts.
“Alright. What brings you out to Chez Malfoy?” He opened the door wide, indicating I should come in.