Numbly, Hermione nodded. The silence seemed to have lasted a lifetime. “I found out while you were away.”
Viktor rose from his chair, a smile breaking out on his face. A light chuckle escaped his lips as he came around the desk, his arms out stretched. “This is vhonderful!” He pulled her into a tight embrace, his chuckle rippling through her body. “I thought it vas something much vorse.”
Hermione put a bigger smile on her face. She needed to make him believe that it was their gift. She pulled away to look at him, and he stared inter her eyes, a boyish grin on his face. “No, it’s nothing bad. I was just worried about what people would say – we’re not married yet.” Hermione managed to say.
“Vhell, it would not be the first time that something like dis has happened.” Viktor went on, letting her go and sitting on the edge of his desk, his arms still around Hermione’s waist. “But it is still good.”
“Yes it is good, isn’t it?” Hermione managed a small laugh.
She had managed to go through with it; lie to him straight in the face, and let him believe that this child was his own. But she was right in doing it right? If she had told Ron, surely things would have gone worse? He would have never been able to raise a child in his state. Yes, Viktor was the right man for the job. He would take care of him or her, and give that child everything it deserved in life and more.
Tears fell down Hermione’s cheek, and Viktor wiped it away and pulled her back into his arms. He did not realize that this was not a tear of joy but a tear of sadness. The man, Ron Weasley, would have been such a good father, she knew that. If he was not a mess, if he had stayed strong after Ginny’s death, she knew that they would be happy. She knew that he would be the father that the child would need. But that wasn’t reality, and Hermione knew that. She had to put the love she had for Ron, her childhood dreams and hopes aside for the child’s well-being. She loved Viktor, and knew that he was best for the child. So with Viktor she would stay.
In his excitement Viktor ordered Hermione to bed and he went straight to the kitchen and began making dinner. It was not an extravagant meal, but it left Hermione feeling guilty. She ate her food in bed along with Viktor, and snuggled close to him at night. It didn’t matter if she loved Ron or not. She had to forget him, and try and make what she had with Viktor work.
The soft sunlight drifted through the light white curtains and onto the sleeping form of Ronald Weasley. His chest was bare revealing a patch of freckles many girls had liked to count in his past years. His fiery locks fell in disarray on the white pillow, and the lines etched upon his face lay relaxed. The blue eyes beneath their lids moved madly as if he was having a terrible nightmare. But he lay unmoving, on his side though his upper body was twisted upwards.
As if an explosion went off, Ron bolted straight up on bed, his chest heaving up and down. Looking around him, it took a few minutes for Ron to realize where he was. The cream coloured walls, and dirty hardwood floors. A small desk and chair was pushed against the left wall, a tall window above it. On the right was a tall oak wardrobe, one door open revealing Ron’s clothing. The queen size bed that Ron was now getting out of sat in the center of the room covered in white and green linens.
He had arrived at his best mates home only a day earlier, tired, and suffering from being sober for nearly a month. Groaning, Ron stretched his arms and as he walked over to the door grabbed his shirt off the back of the chair and pulled it on just as he opened the door and entered the top floor landing. There were two other doors on the landing, one belonging to a bathroom and the other to a spare room. Going down the stairs he passed the second floor landing and at last reached the main floor. The front entrance was small, but inviting, and passing it he went down the hall going by two reception rooms and entered the second door on the left entering the informal dining room that was attached to the kitchen. Annie was awake, sitting at the table next to Harry and jabbering away in quick French to the resident house-elf who was putting a tray of croissants in the center of the table.
“Ron, you’re awake! Eat, eat!” Annie said seeing that he had entered the kitchen. She stood up quickly, pushing Ron into the seat diagonal from Harry. She poured him a cup of tea, and placed it in front of him.
“Morning Ron,” Harry said looking up from the Daily Prophet.
“Morning,” Ron responded gruffly, quickly taking two croissants from the tray and putting some fruit onto his plate. Satisfied, Annie took her seat across from Ron, smiling pleasantly.
“’ow did you sleep?” she asked animatedly.
“Good,” Ron lied. He had slept horribly. He had dreamed that he was picking up garbage in a park, and when he looked up from picking up an old bag he saw Hermione. Next to her was Viktor, and in between them was a small girl giggling as they swung her back and forth. It made Ron sad to know that Viktor would get raise a child with Hermione; the child he had always wanted with Hermione.
Taking a long drink of his tea, Ron looked past Annie and out the window. He could see into the alleyway between Harry and Annie’s home and their neighbors. Despite its closeness light still spilled into the area, and he watched mildly amused as the top of someone’s head bobbed by.
“Nervous about the job?” Harry asked.
Ron looked at him, dazed. The newspaper he had been reading lay folded in front of him, his own cup of tea in his loose grip on the table. “A little,” Ron said finally.
“Well, don’t be. It doesn’t matter that you don’t speak French all that well, they have a translator for you to work with.” Harry assured him, and stood up. “Well, we should get going. Go get dressed, Ron,” Harry told him.
Ron did as he was told, grabbing the last of his second croissant and made his way back upstairs, passing the house-elf that had been in the kitchen earlier as she magically sent a broom to start sweeping the front entrance. When he reached his room, he grabbed his bath bag and a towel and headed into the loo. He took a quick bath, remembering at the last moment to shave, and changed into some brand new black robes, putting on his shoes last. He didn’t spend much time in the mirror to make sure his un-kept hair looked all right, fearing what he would see past it. After making sure his wand was in his pocket along with a small bag with a few galleons in it, he went back to the entrance hall where he found Harry waiting.
“We’re walking,” Harry told him. “Come on, let’s go before Annie can come out here and make sure you look all right. I swear she is becoming more and more like your mother.”
Ron gave a weak laugh, and followed Harry out of the house, down the steps and on to the street. Harry slightly in the lead, Ron walked next to him in silence. He knew his friend had many questions on his mind, like the change of heart about coming to France, and what was going on with him and Hermione – something he had picked up quickly. But Ron did not want to answer these questions, not now.
Turning down a narrow alley way, they came to the end before Harry turned to Ron. “We’ll Apparate here. There are anti-Apparating spells in place so close to my home.” Harry explained, and Ron took his arm so he would be taken along.
“Ready?” Harry asked.
“Let’s go,” Ron mumbled.
With a tug at the navel, Ron felt himself being sucked through an endless tube, his hand still tight around Harry’s arm. Finally Ron felt the feeling lessen, and his feet hit solid ground. Blinking a few times Ron found himself in a large atrium that was nothing like the one the belonged to the English ministry. Its concave ceiling was made of glass showing blue sky and the few birds that flew above. Clouds moved across slowly, and the bright sun shown down in rays onto the people walking below. Where the two had Apparated, Ron saw others appear as well, and from the long line of fireplaces just a few meters behind him. The tall walls were made of white marble, along with its floors. Just a few yards ahead was a desk where two burly looking men stood checking the occasional wizard or witch’s wand. In the center of the atrium was around fountain where four spouts shot up and somehow were shaped to spell ‘Vive La France!’
“From the revolution days,” Harry explained, leading Ron to the desk where the burly men were. “Annie thinks they were too lazy to change it – that or too patriotic.” Harry smirked, stopping in front of the desk.
“’ello Mousier Potter, what can I do for you?” the guard asked, smiling to reveal his crooked and missing teeth. Ron stared disgusted, forgetting his surprise at how well the man could speak English.
“This is Ronald Weasley, here for the new Auror position.” Harry introduced, putting his hand on Ron’s shoulder, gaining his attention again.
“Ah, oui, one moment,” the man leaned down reaching for something before placing what it was on to the desk. “Dis is your pass, keep handy, and we will need to look at you’re, ah….” He paused looking thoughtful.
“Wand,” Harry filled in.
“Oui, merci, your wand.” The guard repeating, holding out his hand. Ron handed it to the man, and watched as the guard pulled a scale from under the desk, placed the wand on top, waited for a moment before a strip of paper came out and the guard read aloud, “9.25 inches, Dragon ‘eartstring core, ‘as been in use for dirty-five years. Is dis correct?”
For a moment Ron went to shake his head, finding that it’s age too old, but nodded remembering that it had not always belonged to him. The guard gave a thin smile, and handed Ron his wand back.
“’ave a good day.” The guard concluded, picking up the scale, and turning away from Harry and Ron.
“Well, now that that is over let’s get you to your new job.” Harry said, pushing Ron a little.
They went over to the lifts, joining five others. A few greeted Harry happily in French, but did not continue a conversation with him. Ron muted out the noise as the lift went on, only moving out of the way when the doors opened to let someone off. Realizing he would be working again, at a real job, had suddenly thrown his stomach into a turn. He knew the chances of seeing her were slim, but that fact did not settle the matter. Hermione had always loved France, so what was to stop her from coming here?
Myself of course, Ron thought cheekily before the lift stopped again, and Harry pushed him forward.
They stepped out into a white room, the floors aged, but well-kept hardwood floors. But Ron wasn’t looking at this, no he was more preoccupied with the hundreds of eyes that were now peering at him from their desks and cubicles trying to get a good glimpse. Just like the one in England, dozens of criminals pictures lined the cubicle walls along with pictures of family and friends, and reports.
“Welcome to the French Aurors office,” Harry smirked, and pushed Ron down a small corridor, the opened into a smaller room, with five desks spread through the room. One wall was dedicated to pictures of criminals and other people, reports hanging under. Only one person was there, her back facing Ron and Harry as she wrote furiously on a piece of parchment. “This is the special task wizards and witches work. We handle more dangerous criminals.” Harry told Ron.
“Sort of like the Hit Wizards in England,” Ron ventured.
“Yeah, hold on a moment,” Harry said distractedly, and moved a little ahead of Ron. “Claudette, can you stop scribbling for a moment so I can introduce you to my friend, and our new Auror?” Harry asked.
The girls head snapped up, her pony tail going wild, and the quill she had been using dropped on the desk. She spun in her chair, her fringe covering her face before she pushed it behind her ears revealing the sharp features of her face, and he weathered skin.
“I ‘ave stopped.” She said sharply, and looked from Harry to Ron. “So you are the famous Ronald Weasley,” she paused for a moment to stand from her chair. “You look a lot more ‘andsome in your pictures, Mousier.” She commented dryly, and Harry snorted loudly.
Ron didn’t say anything, only finding that this woman was strange, and that she reminded him of an old professor. Her dark eyes searched his own for a few moments, before she stepped back, her features softening.
“Claudette Doucette,” she announced sticking her hand out for him to shake which he took confidently, “Senior member of the special task force – as ‘arry likes to say.” She smirked for a moment, and turned around sending her black robes a flutter. “I ‘ave some paper work to do, excuse.” She said and went back over to her desk and sat down.
A little stunned, Ron looked over at Harry who was wearing a large grin on his face. “Is she always like that?” he asked.
“You will find that out for yourself. She is your new partner – and interpreter.” Harry told him, his grin not disappearing.
“Oh, well than,” Ron replied glancing back at Claudette and not feeling an ounce of happiness fill him. “I’m glad I’m with someone so relaxed.”
Harry laughed, “Well, in the mean time I’ll show you around.” Harry said and led Ron back out of the Auror office.
The rest of the morning Ron spent it following Harry, and being introduced to various Ministry members, sharing short conversations as none of them seemed to enjoy speaking in English or socializing at all for that matter. Around twelve o’clock Ron and Harry left the Auror office, and Ron found himself in an abandoned alley way close to the Eiffel tower. In a small Bistro Ron was amazed by Harry’s well-preformed French, and filled a quarter of his stomach before returning to the Ministry where Ron was left alone with Claudette.
“I am currently trying to track down a man by the name of Richard Delamb, who is responsible for a series of robberies of Muggles homes.” Claudette started to tell Ron, sounding a little impatient.
Much of the afternoon was spent catching Ron up, but once it was all done Ron found himself useless. Harry sent him home early, and Ron happily Apparated back to the same Alley way as before. It took him twice as long as it had in the morning to find the house again, and when he entered he was greeted by the delicious scent of duck amongst other foods. Popping in the kitchen for a minute to say hello to Annie, Ron felt quite happy to be back in his room – for the time being – to enjoy the simple pleasure of lying in bed.
But after a while, Ron found lying in bed could get quite boring and he stood up. Pausing to look at the small alarm clock on his desk, he noted that there was still quite some time until Harry would be home and dinner on the table. Grabbing his Muggle jacket as he went, he exited his room and bounded down the stairs to the main floor. He slipped his jacket on, and went into the kitchen where Annie was busy kneading dough.
“Annie, are there any parks close by?” Ron asked softly so not to scar her.
Annie looked up, flour on her face, with a thoughtful expression. “I do not know of any close by, but – oh non! I lie! Dere iz one a few streets from ‘ere. Go down our street about three blocks, turn right and keep going until you reach it. It iz small, but nice.” She finished with a smile.
“Thanks Annie, I’ll be home by dinner.” Ron promised.
“You do not need to act as if I am your Mama, Ron. A plate will be waiting at any time.” She told him, a smile still on her face.
“Oh,” Ron suddenly feeling uncomfortable. “See you later Annie.”
“Aurevoire,” Annie exclaimed just as the kitchen door swung closed.
Feeling more confident, Ron half ran to the door, opened it in a quick motion and ran down the steps to return to a quick pace on the street. He passed people, offering his quick nods and hello’s whenever spoken too. The sun had started to set; it being nearly five o’clock, a sign that winter was coming.
As Ron walked, his thoughts wandered. He still could not believe that he was in Paris, France, with a great job and living inhabited home. Unlike his parent’s house, Ron felt that it was a lot more relaxed, quiet, probably due to the fact that they did not get anywhere near as many visitors as the Burrow did, but Ron found that Harry’s house was more freeing. Less memories inhabited this home, fewer memories that had been haunting Ron ever since he was seventeen years old.
It had been eight years since Ginny’s death; five years since Ron had become an alcoholic; one month since he had last seen Hermione. It was all crashing down on him. He should never have started drinking. He not only lost Ginny, but he lost Hermione because he couldn’t face the reality that he would never see his baby sister again. He had been so selfish. He didn’t see that his girlfriend was hurt because she had lost a friend; he didn’t see that his best friend had just lost the love of his life; he didn’t see anything but his own pain.
Ron looked up from the cobbled street and his eyes fell on the small park. The green grass was covered in multi-coloured leaves and the sun was setting sending a warm glow across the park. There was an old swing set, and Ron didn’t hesitate sitting down. He didn’t move once he had, only facing the sunset and letting it warm his face. Two teenaged girls wearing school uniforms under their black petty-coats walked by and stared at Ron. He looked at them for a moment, watching as the blonde one whispered in her friend’s ear sending them both in a fit a giggles. He looked away just as the two girls both peered at him one last time before turning the corner.
The dream he had ran through his mind, but Ron did not see any happy couples with children around. Those two girls had been the only ones. But it didn’t matter any how. Hermione had chosen who she had wanted to be, she was free to have her own life. He wasn’t a part of it, and it didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter.
He was starting over. He had a new job, and a new country he could make a fresh start. Drinking was in the past. He would get over the irritation, and the urge that itched through him because he knew it was the right thing. Even if he would never see her again.
A/N: So I am aware that many of you are probably a little suprised/disappointed by Hermione's choices and actions. But you must put faith in me. I will make it work. Any how, I am really sorry for how long this update has taken. Of course, I believe my readers are just used to this now, as in the past year my updates have become monthly. Well, thank you for reading, and do please leave a review!!