Chapter 10 : Pretending
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TWO DAYS LATER
Hermione watched as the plane took off in the distance, and glanced at Viktor who sat next to her as they drove towards the airport. He wore a sad smile, and she knew he didn’t like her leaving on her own, but he knew she’d be fine. She hoped he wouldn’t worry.
“You’ll be careful in France von’t you?” Viktor asked, now in the terminal. He held her face in his hands gently, not letting her look away.
She didn’t know why, but there were tears behind her eyes. This man cared so much for her. Maybe it wasn’t the need to see her friend again that was bringing her to France. Maybe it was the need to get away from him, to hide from the guilt he unknowingly had over her heart and mind.
“I wouldn’t do otherwise,” Hermione promised him, and closed her eyes as he leaned in for a kiss. Like always, she felt the familiar feeling go between them, and when she pulled away they smiled at each other. “I will miss you,” she admitted. He was still her friend no matter what she felt for Ron.
“I vill miss you too,” Viktor said, letting go of her face letting his hands travel to the bugle under her long sweater. Placing his hands on either side of her stomach he said still looking at Hermione with his light blue eyes. “I love you both no matter what.”
Hermione sucked in a breath, not expecting the intensity in his voice or eyes. The words struck her almost strange, and her mind began to race. Did he know something? Or was he just saying it in general? As much as Hermione wanted to pretend there was a possibility of double meaning in his words she could not let the thought slip her mind.
A tear fell down her cheek, and Viktor brushed it away kissing her on the cheek, holding her in tight embrace for a moment.
“I love you,” Hermione said hollowly as he pulled away.
“Go, you vill miss the flight.” Viktor pushed her lightly forward.
Hermione turned to the trolley that held her bags and pushed it towards the bag check area. The tears had stopped, but sadness and worry filled her entire body. When she reached the counter the man there checked her bags and she glanced back at Viktor. He still stood there, wearing a sad face though he looked no less proud or handsome then he had when she first met him.
“Go through,” the man said in rough English.
“Thank you,” Hermione said. Holding her bag close she walked through taking another glanced at Viktor, and waved just before turning the corner.
Alone now, Hermione was lost in her thoughts. An hour later she was on the plane, no one sitting on either side of her but she didn’t care. The silence was good because she could at least prepare herself for what waited for her in France.
The sunlight trickled into the beige colour room slowly, and Ron’s bright blue eyes watched it with a disinterested eye. His mind was cloudy and no thoughts seemed to pass through; just an image. It was the image of him and Hermione walking through a park laughing and holding hands. It was the same daydream he often dreamed ever since he visited that park months ago.
It was an unattainable dream, he knew and understood that, but it was a dream he certainly enjoyed. Harry or Annie would often catch him staring into space in different intervals of the day, neither knowing of the secret wish he held deep in his heart for it to come true and be real.
For the last hour he had been awake, a sinking feeling in his stomach as he saw the same image play over and over again in his mind. He was oblivious to everything around him, and could not hear the excited cheers from the kitchen. He didn’t know that Hermione Granger was now a lot closer to him then he could have ever dreamed.
Honking horns followed by shouts of anger snapped Ron out of his reserve. Looking around he listened for a moment as drivers shouted, and as the two cars out in the street took off. Throwing back the covers Ron got out of bed and searched for his bath robe. Yawning widely and scratching his head he exited his room and made his way to the stairs. At the top he paused, hearing for the first time the commotion below. Annie was dithering about something, and Harry was laughing at something. Then another voice; a voice Ron knew.
The sinking feeling in his stomach returned and his heart beat fast. Why was Hermione here? She wasn’t supposed to be here this early. He knew she and Viktor were going to be in France for the wedding, but even then, they would be staying in a Hotel.
Focusing hard for a moment he remained silent as he could while straining his ears to hear Viktor’s annoying accent. He stood at the top of the stairs silent for five minutes and no such voice could be heard and he realized that Viktor wasn’t there. It was odd, he knew that, and now he feared descending down the stairs. He feared what he would find, and he feared why Hermione had come to France early.
Did she want to be with him?
It was the first thought that came to mind. It was a disturbing thought for Ron, for he wasn’t sure if he could handle Hermione’s confusion much less then his own. He was just starting to figure out some things since he had come to France. He was learning to let things go, he thought. But now she had returned. What did it mean? In his mind, not in his heart, he hoped that she would want nothing from him, for he had nothing to give.
Taking a breath, Ron pushed his thoughts away telling himself he was being stupid and slowly began to walk down the stairs, turning on the landing’s before he came to the front entrance. Hermione’s voice was clearer, and he paused to hear what she was saying.
“…they didn’t mind me leaving early. I think the language barrier was too tough on his parents; they got really frustrated when ever they had to stop and look for Viktor. I tried my hardest but…”
Ron tuned her out as he tried to process the information; so she wasn’t here for him. Simply, she wanted to escape Viktor’s parents and Bulgaria – not that he could blame her – and coming to France early seemed to be the next best decision. That was all right, he figured.
Trying to mask his disappointment to himself he shook his head and turned down the hall turning into the breakfast room. As he did so he was unaware of Harry’s traveling voice and collided with him causing both to shout in surprise and fall back.
“Sorry-” Ron started getting back up and moving forward to help his friend up.
But Harry had other plans. He jumped up fast, laughing harshly and shouting, “Walked into the wall, stupid me, I’ll be right back!” he shouted, and turned to Ron and shoved him hard into the hall, closing the door behind him.
“What the bloody-” Ron began, but Harry covered his mouth and pushed Ron inside the parlor.
Harry looked wild; he was breathing heavily, his hair in more disarray then usual. His eyes swiveled madly as he tried to search for the words while Ron stared at him bewildered and annoyed.
“Can you explain all of this?” Ron asked once Harry looked to be finished.
“I can, but you’re going to have to give me a minute.” Harry said, his voice a little uneasy sounding.
“I heard Hermione. If you guys were all planning some kind of surprise party, sorry, it’s ruined.” Ron said sarcastically.
“Shut up Ron, I figured that.” Harry said agitated. “There is something else though, that I think you should know.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I know she’s marrying that prat, Viktor. I was at that last party – the one where it was all he could talk about and Hermione just smiled – though I doubt that’s what she was smiling about.” Ron grinned to himself, and then quickly realized what he had said. Harry look confused, but seemed to ignore it.
“This would be a lot easier if you just shut your mouth Ron.” Harry argued.
“Spit it out then,” Ron groaned, turning around and walking over to the open window, “I’m getting hungry,” he added, sending a sideways Harry’s way.
“Ron, it’s not that easy…” Harry struggled for the words. “I don’t really know how you’ll take this, but I might as well just say it straight. Hermione’s pregnant, Ron.”
Hermione watched as Annie pulled out four mugs from a cupboard. In two she put tea, milk, and sugar for Hermione and Harry. In the third she poured more tea but nothing else; it was hers. Hermione watched carefully as she made the last, putting coffee beans, sugar, and boiling water before mixing it all together.
“Ron loves ‘is coffee. I was surprised, ‘e iz English after all, but I suppose ‘e likes the stronger effects,” Annie smiled as she turned around handing Hermione her mug of tea, and sitting at the table with her own.
Hermione knew it was Ron’s. She remembered his taste for coffee. It had started in their sixth year when she had mentioned to Ron how she loved the smell of it; how it reminded her of France. He had always told her it was the taste he preferred, but Hermione had always known beneath it all the real reason.
“I wonder what is taking those two so long,” Hermione said, sounding a little anxious.
Annie caught this and gave Hermione an encouraging smile. “Do not worry, I doubt ‘e will be as bad as you are imagining.” She said knowingly.
Hermione offered a small laugh, but it was forced. She had been dreading the moment of seeing Ron again since she had fully realized it on the plane. Different scenarios had run through her head as she tried to imagine his reaction to her being pregnant. Would he know? Or would he just dismiss it like everyone else had?
The idea of Ron dismissing something so blatantly obvious could have been easy for Hermione to believe as Ron often dismissed things easily. But those were the old days, she had to tell herself. He was a much different Ron now. She had heard the commotion outside, and she had a feeling Harry had not run into a wall. Her stomach was twisted into knots just thinking of the coming events. She would have to face Ron, and she knew he wasn’t going to be easy to deal with. He wouldn’t let go of the things she had said on their last meeting, and he would not let go of the fact that she was pregnant. Though Ron had always been one to dismiss things easily, as she had thought before, this was one situation she knew he wouldn’t.
“So ‘ow far along are you?” Annie asked sitting at the table.
Hermione’s hand went instinctively to the small bump in her mid-section and it scared her mildly to think that there was actually a human being growing inside of her. “Nearly twenty-one weeks,” Hermione replied smiling.
Annie grinned back. “It iz someting I wish to ‘ave – I know ‘arry cannot wait to ‘ave children, it iz all ‘e speaks of.”
Hermione gave short inward chuckle and sipped on her tea lightly. As she sipped she became aware of the sounds of people walking towards the kitchen and as her eyes flickered to the doorway leading into the hallway she watched as the door opened and Harry entered soon followed by a disheveled looking Ron.
“Ron,” Hermione said with forced excitement. She stood up, wearing a forced smile and walked over to Ron. He wore no smile only the look of surprise but let Hermione hug him briefly without protest reveling in her warmth for a only a few seconds. “It’s good to see you.”
“Yeah, it’s good to see you too.” Ron lied, trying to sound as if nothing was wrong, that there was no tension between he and Hermione.
But there was, and Harry could see it clearly. He shifted from one foot to the other while he stood in the background, wearing a look of worry.
“I made you your coffee Ron,” Annie stood up, not seeming to notice the tension and gave Ron his coffee. “Just how you like it,” she said smiling and walking back over the table.
Hermione followed, still looking at Ron waiting for him to say something. She knew by the look on his face that Harry had told him about the pregnancy. She knew it would happen, but in her heart she didn’t want Ron to know – at least not by anyone but her. She wanted to be the one to tell him because she wanted to believe that some good would come from it.
Don’t think like that.
Hermione’s conscious caught her. She knew very well that the intentions behind her need to tell Ron herself about the pregnancy was selfish. It would do no good for anyone, and she knew for a fact that this had all worked out the proper way. She was with Viktor, a man who was stable, and would become a good father. Ron would grow up in France, and he would meet someone, she knew it, that would make all his dreams come true.
“Hermione,” Harry interrupted her thoughts, “Aren’t you going to answer him?” He nodded towards Ron, who was leaning on the counter holding the mug of coffee between his large hands.
“I’m sorry, what did you ask?” Hermione asked, feeling a little guilty looking at Ron.
“I asked how far along you were – Harry told me that you and Viktor are going to have a child. Great news; I can’t say I was not expecting it.” The sincerity in the way he said it surprised Hermione, and she struggled to find her words to answer.
“Er-Yes, I’m pregnant; almost twenty-one weeks.” Hermione told him, and watched as his eye distanced themselves from the world. She knew he was thinking about it – that he had probably figured it out in that instant.
But if he had, he didn’t show it on his face. For the first time he offered a warm smile – whether it was forced or not she could not tell – and raised his mug. “Congratulations,” he murmured and took a sip.
Standing up straight he looked at everyone in the room. “I’ve got to go get ready for work.” He said, and left before another word could be said.
“Dat was strange,” Annie stated after a few minutes. “Did anyone else tink so?”
“He was just being Ron,” Harry said to her, though his eyes seemed to be burning into Hermione’s flesh. She looked away from him, pretending to not notice his gaze. Her heart was beating fast in her chest, and her uneven breathing was hard to hide.
“Excuse me, I have to go to the loo,” Hermione said quickly, getting up and leaving fast, not wanting to be in the room with Harry any longer.
A/N: Here is the next installment to this story. I have mixed feelings about this chapter. It's not quite what I wanted it to be, but I do hope that you still enjoy it, and ignore my constant need for perfection :) So, that being said, thank you for reading!
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