Chapter 1 : Flies in a Web
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Luna Lovegood woke up with a small yawn and a hidden smile. Beside her he slept on peacefully in the soft sunlight. It was barely dawn as she slipped from the room and into the hot water for a bath. As she rinsed off the sun crept over the horizon and shone brightly through the bathroom window. When she finished he was still oblivious to the light of day. Slowly she closed the door behind her as she slipped out of his house and into her car. She never thought it would turn out this way. Never once did she think she would become a sneak, or a liar. Never once did she think she would betray another woman, or be with a married man. She had never intended to fall in love but here she was, happy as ever in her Blue Mustang driving down the highway towards her London Flat.
The wind flapped through her sunny hair as her laughter was lost in the sound of the roaring engine. Music was playing on the radio but she couldn’t hear it for the life of her. She wished she could bottle the moment forever, but knew she couldn’t. The freedom was getting to her head yet she ignored the fact. She couldn’t worry about the “what ifs”, or the never ending question “does he love me?” She had to live for the moment. And that’s exactly what she was going to do.
Besides, Luna excused herself, he’s happy with me. She wouldn’t let guilt play a part in their relationship. Making that resolution to herself, Luna cranked the radio’s volume to its full capacity. It was too early for anyone to be out on the roads and Luna never cared about what people thought anyway. As long as she was happy nothing else really mattered. Soon she arrived at her small flat and was greeted by her beloved puppy, Angel.
“Hello girl. How was your night? You weren’t too lonely were you?” Luna asked as she laid down her car keys. Angel wagged her golden tail back and forth looking up to Luna. Absentmindedly, Luna scratched behind Angel’s ears and sat down in her large armchair in the drawing room. Sighing, she curled her feet up and fell asleep as the sun finally broke free from its hiding place behind the horizon.
A few miles away, on the outskirts of the city, Harry Potter woke with a start as light poured in from his bedroom window. Growling, he pushed his unruly black hair from his eyes and reached for his glasses. Mumbling he stuck them over his eyes and rolled from bed. He slammed the door behind him as he left, startling the young woman sleeping in his bed. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Hermione Weasley sat up and yawned. Her long chocolate hair cascaded down her back in a tangled nest. A faint smile captured her lips and her blue eyes were still heavy with the weight of sleep. She sat there for a few moments absorbing the peace as she woke up. Then she heard another door slam and the sound of falling water reached her ears.
Her smile widened and she quickly grabbed a towel from Harry’s closet wrapping it around her body. Hermione tiptoed to the bathroom and was assaulted by swirling mist and steam. The mirrors were fogged over and the roar of the shower over powered her ears. Harry’s bathroom was massive, and the tiled floors made the sound amplified. Quietly she slipped off the towel and put it down next to Harry’s. Excitement welled in her chest making her breath hitch in her throat. Slowly she reached for the shower curtain and pulled it back. Hermione stood still as her eyes drank in Harry and all his glory.
His emerald eyes were wide in surprise but he was smiling at her. He was well defined from Quidditch and Auror training but he wasn’t too muscular. His skin was pale and creamy, though Hermione knew it had a rather salty taste. Grinning wickedly, Hermione stepped into the hot water facing her lover in all her naked confidence. Harry ran his hand through her hair as it was doused in the water. His eyes never left hers as he pulled her towards him. Their bodies met and Harry completed the embrace as his lips pressed themselves upon hers.
“Good Morning,” Hermione murmured into Harry’s lips.
“Good Morning, Love. How was your night?”
“Mmm,” Hermione replied as she closed her eyes. Slowly Harry’s mouth began to explore her neck.
“That good, huh?” He whispered into her ear. Hermione nodded, eyes still closed, lips curved up. She was in heaven; at least it was what heaven would be for her, if life wasn’t in the way. Hermione forced the thoughts from her head. Now was not the time for thought. Now was the time for feeling, and with Harry she felt everything she ever wanted. Soon she would have to go back home to Ron, make another excuse, and hope that he believed her. Soon the feelings would be stolen from her. But she would hang on to them for as long as she could. She would hold Harry for as long as she could.
Ron woke up to the sound of the front door slamming. Hastily he reached out next to him and felt nothing but sheets and the cold mattress they covered. Gone, he thought with a small amount of relief and a large sense of loss. Just then, Hermione opened the door and walked into the cold bedroom. She looked oddly refreshed for having spent the night at work, though Ron never fully believed that was the only place she was during some nights. Ron shook off the thought and smiled at her.
“Morning, Love,” he greeted half heartedly as he sat up. “Working on a long case again?” Hermione took her time in sitting down on the bed and slipping off her shoes before she turned to answer him.
“Yes,” she lied. “It’ll be worth the extra work though. With a little bit more effort, house elves will be on their way to freedom in no time.” She knew Ron had no interest in her work, and wouldn’t question her further. Ron slid over and put his chin on her shoulder. Hermione didn’t move an inch, nor did she breathe for a second or two. She wondered if he could smell Harry on her. She wondered how much Ron knew, or how much he suspected. Quickly she shook her guilty thoughts and turned her head slightly so she could see a fraction of his face.
His eyes were a dark and heady blue. His red hair stuck up at every angle. Freckles covered the bridge of his nose and faintly on his cheeks. It was the same face Hermione had known since she was eleven years old, more sharp and rugged, but the same. She had come to memorize Ron’s facial features and expressions. Hermione did not enjoy the look of lust that he wore as he watched her carefully like she once had. It was a look of damnation now, a look that sparked only guilt and pain in her now. The thing that made her most guilty was the fact that she did not feel guilty because of her affair with Harry. She felt guilt because she felt no regret for Harry.
“You work too hard, ‘Mione,” Ron told her in a voice that was too husky for Hermione’s comfort. Ron didn’t know why he tried so hard, when he knew she would refuse him. She always refused him the love that he craved. It was the reason he went to Luna when Hermione was at work. Still, Ron moved his hands to grasp her tense shoulders gently. He began to work his thumbs into her muscles and she relaxed slightly. She was reminded of how Ron wasn’t as deft as Harry when it came to making her relax. She let her mind wander to how Harry worked his fingers in completely different ways than from what Ron ever dared. She could still feel his skin on her as it burned a trail to every sensitive part of her body. His name was still on her lips and his love was still in her heart.
“Ron, stop,” Hermione ordered tersely as she plummeted from heaven down to earth.
“I’m tired,” she said by way of explanation as she stood and worked her way to her wardrobe. Ron sighed as he watched his wife of five years walk out of the room with clothes and towel in hand. He was only twenty-two and his marriage was falling apart. He and Hermione had married right out of Hogwarts. A year later Voldemort had been defeated and so had their love. Hermione had lost her unborn child in the Final War, one that she hadn’t truly known about but had suspected. And their marriage died along with the child. It was never the same for Hermione after that and Ron had known he lost whatever family he might’ve had.
Ron got up from bed and dressed quickly in his Ministry robes. He would be late for work soon and it wouldn’t do to dwell on his failing marriage. He heard the shower running through the thin wooden bathroom door and sighed. Then he twisted on the spot and the walls around him were sucked away and replaced with the confines of his work office. Instead of becoming an Auror, Ron opted to become the Head of the Department of Games and Sports. He had fought enough evil wizards to last him a life time and had no intention of fight off more of them. He was fairly new at being the department having first been a star keeper for his favorite team, the Chudley Cannons. Still the job suited him just fine. It had become an escape of sorts and he breathed in deeply before sitting behind his desk and looking over the few forms stacked on it. He smiled as he thought about the next Quidditch World Cup that was scheduled to be hosted by England the next month. They were almost done making arrangements for it and Ron happily submerged himself in his work, forgetting (if only for a few hours) his troubled home.
Harry looked up from his watch and muttered something to himself. He was in the office today and he didn’t have much patience for tedious paperwork. He would much rather be in the field instead of in his quiet and dull office. He briefly wondered what Hermione was up to and his spirits were instantly lifted. Despite how wrong it was, Harry loved Hermione and he would do anything to have her in his arms. He felt guilty because of Ron, but he couldn’t—wouldn’t—stop his heart from getting the better of him. Harry was a man of emotion and action, not logical thinking, which was why he was damn good at his job and why he had continued his affair with Hermione after their first encounter. He remembered the night clearly and vividly, much to Hermione’s mortification.
She had shown up on his door step one night in august. The sky had barely turned a dark navy blue when his doorbell rang and he invited Hermione in. She had a bottle of fire whiskey in her hand and two glasses in another, which Harry took away with a frown. She hadn’t been drinking yet to Harry’s relief and he had no intention to let her. Instead, he led her to the parlor room of Grimmauld place and sat down on the cream colored love seat with her. She was distressed about something, he knew, but he was careful to let her bring it up in her own time. They talked most of the night away and when dawn had come Harry was reluctant to let her go. He didn’t know what made him do it—whether it was the pain of seeing her so distressed or his selfish bottled feelings, he hadn’t ever really found out—but he held onto her tighter and longer than necessary when it came time to say goodbye. When he finally did move to let go of her, he found that her hold on him was quite strong and she wasn’t ready to let go of him just yet.
He held her patiently and gently while willing his body not to do anything embarrassing. Her scent was driving him mad and when she shifted her weight he got the most horribly delicious sensation that ran down his spine and into his groin area. When she did loosen her grip, Harry made the best decision of his life and looked down at her. His emerald eyes met her pair of gorgeous blue and for a moment they didn’t move. Then in one fluid movement their lips met and their embrace became more fierce and warm than anything either of them had experienced. That kissed had been the best thing to happen in Harry’s life followed by that morning that he shared with Hermione in his bedroom. Just remembering that morning still sent shivers down Harry’s back and he struggled to maintain focus on his work. There would be time to think of her later, he scolded himself.
He checked his watched again and cursed. He still had an hour or so before his lunch break when he would meet with Hermione for a quick bite at a café in Diagon Alley. There was nothing wrong with best friends getting together for lunch they had decided and he was impatient as ever to see her again. There was a knock on the door and Harry looked up to see a young red headed man enter his office with a grin on his face. Ron walked over to his desk happier than Harry had seen him in the past couple of weeks. Harry could feel the back of his neck burning red with shame but he was able to calm his heart enough to keep the blush from his cheeks. He wished as he had many times before that it was another man married to Hermione. He wished that he was married to Hermione. It would be so much easier if it wasn’t his best friend Ron who he was betraying.
“Guess what I just got?” Ron said through pearly white teeth. Harry couldn’t help but smile at the childish tone Ron’s voice still held. Some things never change and Harry was grateful for it. It seemed that so much had changed and he was glad to have a constant in his life however small a constant Ron’s immaturity may be.
“What?” Harry asked with amusement and curiosity. He hadn’t a clue as to what would make Ron so happy, but he had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with Quidditch. Ron pulled his hand from his jean pocket and held two long, skinny pieces of paper. They were tainted red and had a thin barcode in their lower corners. “Quidditch World Cup” was printed clearly in black ink across the paper. Harry stood in surprise and snatched the ticket from his best friend’s hand.
“No way! That’s awesome Ron!” Harry shouted in excitement. He loved Quidditch and he missed it dearly. It had been years since he had seen a World Cup game and he was happy to have the chance to see another one, this time without the threat of death eaters. He stared at the ticket in disbelief and then up at Ron with a grateful smile.
“Yeah,” Ron replied to Harry’s excited grin, “I got one for everyone in the old gang. It’ll be the six of us in a private box, the most prime seats of the stadium. Ginny’s even made it a point to return for it. It’ll be me, you, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna.” Harry never caught the twinkle in Ron’s eyes as he said Luna’s name. He was too preoccupied with the thought of Ginny’s return. His fist clenched and unclenched uncomfortably and Harry’s smile faded somewhat. Ron noticed the change in expression and turned red for bringing up such and awkward topic.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed with an attempt at a real smile, “it’ll be wicked.”
Ron stood up and with a wave walked out of Harry’s office. Once he heard the final click of the handle, Harry slumped back into his chair and rubbed his temples. He closed his eyes and sighed, trying to push back his unwanted thoughts. Ginny had gone off after Hogwarts and abandoned Harry to travel the world as a Hex breaker. They kept up their relationship for a while but soon the time between Ginny’s letters grew until Harry finally got the letter that ended it all. Ginny had found a nice American bloke on her travels and didn’t have the heart to tell Harry in person. He had proposed to her, she had written, and she had said yes. So while Harry had stayed in England, faithful and trying to make it work, Ginny had quit on him and moved on to someone new. There was a lot of arguing and hard feelings between the two until they broke all contact whatsoever. The hard feelings had stuck to Harry for a long time and he had only recently forgotten them. Now, with Ginny’s return, they came back full force.
With a growl, Harry discovered that he still had another half hour until his meeting with Hermione. He had half an hour to boil over his misfortune and his thoughts. He hunched over his desk and tried to look at any bright side to his situation. The only bright side he could see was that he’d be with Hermione and even that had the downside of Ron being there. He sighed and tried to return his attention to his work. The World Cup wouldn’t be fun at all, not with her there, Harry decided pointedly. He now dreaded the momentous occasion that he had only moments before looked forward to. Harry wished he had a choice in the matter; if it were up to him she would still be happily far, far away. He didn’t want to face Ginny ever again and was afraid of what trouble she might cause for him. He would rather face the Death Eaters again.