Chapter 4 : The Venom Starts to Seep
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oh, and P.S. if you hate me after this chapter please refrain from hunting me down with your pitch forks and angry mob characteristics. I swear it gets better for them!!
Hermione smiled as she heard Harry’s fireplace light with a loud whoosh and a resounding thump. She was currently in Harry’s kitchen chatting with Dobby while doing the dishes the “muggle way” as Ron so often put it. She knew it was somewhat silly, but despite being a witch, Hermione enjoyed doing everyday tasks without the use of magic. It gave her a simple satisfaction of accomplishing something without a little extra help. Dobby’s old eyes lit up as Harry walked into the kitchen and laid his Auror’s cloak on the island counter that sat in the middle of the room. The old house elf hopped from his stool next to Hermione and greeted Harry enthusiastically. Then, with a sly smile (as if he knew the greatest secret on earth), Dobby said his good-byes and departed with a crack.
“So how was your day?” Harry asked as he wrapped his arms around Hermione.
“Dreadfully boring. Yours?” Harry chuckled into Hermione’s ear and she could feel the warmth of his breath brush against the back of her neck. She sighed, knowing that these small moments with Harry were what she loved most. The smallest of touches, the tiniest of smiles, and Hermione knew that she was loved. It wasn’t like that with Ron anymore. To be honest with herself, it was never that way with Ron at all, not even in the beginning before she lost the baby. Hermione frowned and Harry spun her to face him. With one finger he lifted her chin and looked straight into those loving blue eyes.
Uncertainty made Hermione purse her lips and furrow her brow. She wasn’t sure what was wrong. She was just thinking when all the sudden the feeling of wrongness came over her. What had she been thinking about? Why did something not feel right? She knew it was impractical, but Hermione had learned to trust her instincts a little more than her mind and something in the pit of her stomach was telling her that something was catastrophically wrong.
“I’m not sure. It’s just that something feels wrong and I don’t know what.” Hurt filled Harry’s emerald eyes and he took a step back, thinking that she was talking about their relationship.
“Not between us, Harry! Never between us.” She said, reading his mind and pulling him close again. “It’s like that feeling when you know something bad is gonna happen, but you can’t stop it. I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll just shut up now.” Harry tightened his hold on her and smiled gently.
“Don’t worry about it. Whatever it is, we’ll face it together when the time comes. As for right now…” Harry smiled wickedly and Hermione couldn’t help but grin back. Then his lips were on hers, fierce and passionate. Hermione reveled in his heat as he pushed her against the sink, flush against his entire being. Hermione gasped and opened her mouth as Harry bit her lip drawing a small trickle of blood. His tongue dived and collided with hers in a coppery fire and all thought was gone.
“What is it that you want, Malfoy?” Ginny growled from under the sheets of Draco Malfoy’s four post bed. Her Weasley-red hair was fanned around her face on the pillow and she was staring at Malfoy’s bare broad shoulders as he pulled his trousers over his grey boxers. Draco turned to the woman in his bed and glared. Quicker than Ginny could react, Draco pounced on her and held her arms pinned above her head. She struggled but Malfoy held her tight putting most of his weight on her small form.
“So, it’s ‘Malfoy’ now, is it? If I recall correctly, it wasn’t ‘Malfoy’ you were screaming just ten minutes ago,” Draco’s voice was husky and made Ginny shiver with desire. Ginny’s movement didn’t go unnoticed by Draco and he grinned mischievously before pushing his pelvis between her pinned open legs.
“Draco!” Ginny gasped before she could stop herself. He chuckled into her neck and she shivered again.
“That’s more like it,” he growled, repeating the action again.
“You have to go to work!”
Draco chuckled again before replying, “then we’ll just have to make it quick won’t we?” And they did. Fifteen minutes later, Ginny lay spent, tangled in the sheets, watching once more as Draco began to get dressed. The way his back rippled when he was doing the simplest of things fascinated her and she reached out, laying a hand on his right shoulder. She pulled herself up so that she was sitting behind him as he pulled on his trousers again.
“You never answered my question, Draco,” she whispered into his ear. Her breath on his neck made Draco want nothing more than to curl up with her in bed all day, but he pushed away the notion and stood.
“On the contrary, I think I answered it quite well,” his trademark smirk that Ginny loved so much appearing on his bruised lips. “I want you.”
“I’m married, Draco.”
Ginny sat still when Draco bent over so that his face was level to hers. He placed his hands on either side of her, trapping her between him and his bed. He smiled and placed a light kiss along her jaw, teasing her a bit more.
“But are you happy?” Swiftly he left, taking his shirt and tie along with him. The door slammed shut and Ginny was left to ponder his words. No, of course she wasn’t happy, but could she be happy with Draco? Could she be happy in England again, the very place she had tried to escape all those years ago? And what about her family? What about Harry? What would they all think? With a frustrated huff, Ginny gathered her clothing and took advantage of Draco’s large bathtub. She had enough things to worry about, without adding her happiness to the mix.
Hermione Granger had never been so scared in her life. Not once. Not during school, not during the war, not even during her brief fight with Voldemort face-to-face, was she more terrified than she was as she ran to the apothecary on Diagon Alley. It was her first day back to work in three days and her problem smacked her in the face during her lunch break. After that she had been jumpy, and anxious, praying to Merlin that her gut was wrong, but she had to make sure, she had too.
In retrospect, Hermione had to admit that she had been almost stupid for thinking that this couldn’t happen to her. No, not to her, she had always thought. She always performed the spell, and her spell work was infallible, or so she hoped. Still, it was bound to happen. How could she not have seen it before? How could she have been so blind? And that feeling the other day, how could she have not figured it out sooner? The moment she even thought the word baby her stomach had done anxious flip-flops. It was the reason why she felt that something bad was going to happen. And when the piece added up, well, if she was pregnant that would be absolutely catastrophic. She and Ron hadn’t been together for almost a year now.
Hermione slowed down as she entered the small potions shop, catching her breath as she scanned the shelves for the potion she would need. Of course, she could just brew it herself, but that would take at least a month and Hermione knew her nerves would never survive the wait. She found the aisle that she would need and hurried down it, her eyes never leaving the shelves. Hermione was halfway down the aisle when she crashed into a fellow shopper, startling herself out of her nervous fit.
“Oh, gosh! I’m so sorry!” Hermione gasped as she looked up to apologize. Her blue eyes opened wide when she registered who she had bumped into. Luna stood in front of Hermione rubbing her arm which held the pearly yellow potion that Hermione was searching for.
“That’s alright,” Luna said rigidly. Both women stood there awkwardly after a few moments, at a loss of words or pleasantries, but not willing to walk away. Hermione clasped her hands behind her back and waited until Luna broke the uncomfortable silence.
“So what were you looking for?” Luna trying her hardest to be as polite as she would be with anyone else. It was painfully uncomfortable, but Luna didn’t want her behavior to seem worthy of suspicion. Hermione caught on to things like that quickly and then the gears in her ex-friend’s head would begin to turn. Luna at least knew that much about Hermione. She was an intelligent and logical witch. Given the right clues, Hermione would eventually figure out the puzzle and that was something Luna didn’t want to think about.
“Do you know where the pregnancy test potions are?” she shifted her weight embarrassedly, even though to everyone else a married woman having a baby was nothing to be embarrassed about. But if they knew the truth…
“Urm, yea. They’re right at the end of the hall. So you and Ron…?” Hermione hesitated as her mind blanked. Speak, Hermione, speak, she thought desperately. You and Ron, yes, your husband, Ron. Baby. Right.
“Um yea. It’s about time we had kids, yea?” Hermione laughed nervously and Luna tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace.
“Yea, I suppose so.” Luna left it at that and stepped aside, letting Hermione glide passed her. Hermione made her way to the end of the aisle and picked up a tiny vial of the yellow substance. She took a moment to inspect the curious potion and then paid for it before leaving the shop. Quickly, she ran to the apparation point and disapparated to her house. When the loud pop from apparating echoed through the house, no one was there to here it, and for that Hermione was grateful. To have to explain to Ron why she was so flustered and panicky would have been an added stress Hermione couldn’t handle. She hurried to the empty bedroom and pulled the stopper from the vial. She took one look at herself in the mirror, her pale face framed by her wild loose curls, her eyes narrowed in worry, her pink lips a thin set line.
She downed the potion in front of the reflective glass, hoping with all her heart that she was wrong. Her eyes flicked briefly to the clock above her bed. 3:57pm. She waited a few moments with her eyes wide, watching her abdomen for any sign from the potion. Her stomach was churning and Hermione tapped her foot impatiently. 3:58pm. Still, no sign of anything was showing and Hermione bit her lip nervously. The potion’s tag said that it should only take a few moments to flash bright pink if she was pregnant, but it could take up to 5 minutes. 4:01pm. If she was pregnant, this was it. This was the minute she would find out the horrible truth of what she and Harry had done. What they were doing. What they wouldn’t stop doing. Hermione only had a brief sting of guilt before she brushed it away. No matter what, she loved Harry and she trusted in his words. He had said they’d face anything together and she believed him whole-heartedly. Hermione could do anything with Harry by her side. Hermione let her eyes wander to the clock again. 4:06pm. Nothing.
Hermione’s knees buckled beneath her. She wasn’t sure what to feels first. Relief that her secret was still safe or disappointment in her lack of motherhood. She had barely hoped for a family after the first child was ripped from her unfairly. She would have loved to have a family with Harry, albeit it would have been a rough start if she had indeed been pregnant. Still, the relief that she had felt was slowly dripping away and turning to despair. Just the possibility of another child had sent her mind reeling, and now that she knew she wasn’t pregnant, the pain of her previous loss came tumbling back into her mind. She felt the sting all over and the emptiness that had followed. Hermione became hollow, sitting on the floor of her bedroom, a shell that had been cracked open a long time ago, a shell that held nothing in its depths.
Hermione jumped as the loud front door closed, breaking her out of her helpless thoughts. She heard Ron humming as he entered in the kitchen and she stood. One brief look in the mirror and a quick brush of her skirt later, Hermione was down the stairs of the house and walking into the kitchen to greet her husband. Ron was happily humming while he rummaged through the refrigerator. Hermione watched with a small smile on her face, patiently waiting for Ron to notice her. She wondered briefly what had made him so happy and upbeat. Something must have gone great at work or something equally trivial. That’s one of the reasons Hermione fell in love with Ron. He had always looked for the small things to make him happy, had always seen the brightness in a bleak situation. Not that that optimistic outlook extended to his angry temper, but he was never one to dwell in sadness for long and Hermione had loved him for it.
“Well aren’t you just peachy today,” Hermione stated, startling Ron and making him bang his head against the fridge.
“Ow,” he winced and rubbed his head as he looked to Hermione. She smiled sheepishly at him and he grinned in reply.
“Sorry,” Hermione apologized. Ron just shrugged, smile still stuck on his lips as he closed the fridge. In his hands he held ham and cheese along with a small jar of mayonnaise. Hermione never like the fatty substance and couldn’t understand why Ron liked it so much, but it made him happy, so she always included it on her shopping list. She wrinkled her nose at the jar but was happy with Ron’s good mood. His good humor seemed to have rubbed off on her and she couldn’t help but feel grateful. She had had such a nerve-wracking day that Ron’s bright attitude lifted Hermione’s spirit’s drastically.
“So how was your day at work?” Hermione inquired as she leaned on the archway leading into the kitchen, watching Ron make his sandwich enthusiastically.
“Good. Really good, actually. We just finalized security for the Quidditch cup and everything should be set to go in three weeks,” Ron chattered as he finished his sandwich. He took a huge bite out of his food and wore a silly grin from ear to ear. Hermione shook her head at his goofy smile and gave him a small smile of her own.
“That’s great, Ron. I can’t wait to see everything,” it was a small white lie but she was happy that he was happy. And she did want to see all the hard work he had done. It was just that she didn’t want to see the people that came along with it. Hermione wrinkled her nose again and frowned at the thought of Ginny and Luna, but she let the facial expression go, not wanting to ruin the mood. Ron, however, had seen the look and narrowed his eyes a bit.
“What was that for?” he interrogated, his features twisting in accusation. Hermione’s eyes widened and she was momentarily at a loss. She hadn’t thought that he had seen it. Her sour look had only lasted a second or two and it wasn’t about the Quidditch cup itself. She rather looked forward to the game.
“What was what for?” Hermione finally answered under Ron’s scrutinizing gaze.
“That face. The sour face you just gave,” he said imitating her grimace, “What was it for?” Hermione hadn’t meant to start a fight over a such a silly little thing, but she could see it in his face as if she was a world renowned seer. He was riled up for a fight and if she quelled the fight now, he would only find another reason later that night. She sighed, letting her eyes glaze over with resignation.
“It was nothing, Ronald, really,” she replied, closing her eyes and rubbing the bridge of her nose with her index finger and thumb. “I’m excited for the Cup, I am.”
“Then what’s with the face?”
“I’m just not all too excited about who we’ll be there with, that’s all,” She tried to explain.
“Like who?” Ron questioned indignantly. He was really starting to get on Hermione’s nerves. He was making a big deal out of nothing and she was close to loosing her temper on him, even though she was sure that’s what he wanted.
“Well, I mean, even though I missed her, Ginny hasn’t been all that happy to see me,” she floundered, “And Luna isn’t exactly my cup of tea.”
“What’s wrong with Luna?” he shouted at the flustered Hermione. Ron was upset for a whole other reason now, though Hermione didn’t know it. Luna was going and there was nothing that anyone, least of all Hermione, could do to change Ron’s mind.
“Well, nothing!” she shouted back. “But she’s not exactly friendly towards me, is she? She makes everything so uncomfortable around me, if you haven’t noticed, and I have no idea what I did to the woman.”
“Well you don’t have to be so childish, Hermione. Just because you don’t like the woman doesn’t mean she shouldn’t go to the Quidditch Cup,” Ron sneered. Hermione threw her hands in the air with exasperation and walked out of the room. She could hear Ron follow her out and she growled in frustration, turning to face him.
“I never said she shouldn’t go! I said ‘it was nothing’. It’s not that big of a deal and I have no idea why you’re making it one!” she shouted at him. “I have nothing against Luna! All I said was that I don’t really feel comfortable around her and that’s why I frowned a little bit. I’m allowed to frown when I’m unhappy, Ronald, or when I’m uncomfortable!”
She was on a roll now and she couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out her mouth. She was just so fed up with Ron and his stupidity. Why did he always have to blow things completely out of proportion? She turned on the stairs to face him and her eyes were livid with fire and hate. He stepped back in trepidation and Hermione let loose on him with all that she had.
“Why do you always have to do this?” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Hermione’s hair was even more wild than Ron had ever seen it and her face was almost as red as his hair. Ron stepped back in surprise. He had never seen her so angry.
“I’m at my wits end, Ronald!” she went on, “I don’t know what the bloody hell you want from me, but I’m sick of you taking every damn small thing that I do and making it seem like I’ve done the most awful thing in the whole bloody world! Grow up a little! I frowned! For two seconds! It’s not breaking any laws and it certainly isn’t the end of the world! Just leave me the hell alone and maybe, just maybe you’ll find whatever it is that your looking for.” Her voice was hoarse from screaming for so long, but she wouldn’t back down and she wasn’t about to let Ron make her feel like scum over a stupid facial expression.
Ron stood there, shell-shocked and red from both embarrassment and anger. Anger that she had yelled at him, embarrassment that she was right. He was attacking her over something stupid, something that really didn’t matter at all. She had been halfway up the stairs when she started her tirade and she turned now, intending to reach the landing and crawl into bed. She heard a few floorboards creak behind her and the slam of the front door. Then she heard the painful pop of Ron apparating away to Merlin knew where.
Hermione didn’t cry as she slumped into her pillows and closed her eyes for a moment. She knew better than to cry now. It didn’t help anything and it certainly didn’t make her feel better. She didn’t even feel pain anymore when she and Ron fought. All she felt was exhaustion from her fiery outburst. So she curled under the covers quietly and laid there for hours, staring at the plain beige ceiling, knowing that her husband was not coming back anytime soon.
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