The guilt started almost as soon as he left her flat. Apparating back to Devon to finally recover the missing leg, Ron was suddenly hit with the enormity of what he had done. Merlin’s beard, he thought. I cheated on Hermione. I cheated. I thought I’d NEVER do that. He felt sick, like he was going to puke, and had to sit down to stop himself from falling over. He, Ron Weasley, had been unfaithful to his wife.
So much for Till death do us part, he thought ruefully. Till Pansy do us part, more like.
He felt sick to his stomach. He would never leave Hermione for Pansy. Yes, she was a great shag, but Hermione was a partner. A life partner. Not only that, but she was the mother of his children. He’d been in love with her since he was thirteen years old and he wasn’t going to stop now.
That’s it. I’ll break it off with Pansy – if in fact we’re together. Maybe it was just a one-night stand. Yes, that’s it. A one-night stand. I’ll never see her again.
It was easy to convince himself of that. He should never have seen her in the first place. If he hadn’t gone to the pub with Harry that night this whole thing would never have happened.
“Accio Mortlake’s leg,” he said dully, still sitting on the ground leaning against a tree. It was worth a shot – he had no idea where the leg might be and it might work. Yeah, right, cos all your decisions today have been flawless, he reprimanded himself. Writhing in self-disgust, he almost didn’t see the severed limb coming through the bushes towards him.
“Bloody hell, that worked?” he asked aloud, incredulous that something so obvious had eluded so many people that afternoon during the search. Well, at least that was one thing he didn’t have to worry about.
Unlike the state of his marriage.
Still feeling sick and consumed with self-loathing, he Apparated back to London and deposited the missing leg at St Mungo’s. While Mortlake could have grown a new one overnight using Skele-grow and other potions, the Healers always preferred to re-attach the original one as new limbs could have characteristics that the person wasn’t familiar with. More than one person who’d re-grown arms had discovered that they were now left-handed, for example. Ron didn’t know what legs did but Mortlake was definitely more likely to be co-operative under questioning if he had all his limbs intact.
After the hospital, he dropped back into the office to get the paperwork done. He could have done it the next day but he was dreading going home – even seeing Hermione might trigger something and he really didn’t want her to know what he had done. It was a blip, never going to happen again, and it would only hurt her, and he didn’t want to do that. He hated hurting Hermione.
Finally, though, he could put it off no longer. He’d had more than one anxious message from home wanting to make sure he was okay, and he had to admit it wasn’t like him to be working so late. So with more than a tinge of regret he found his way to the Floos and headed back home, steeling himself for the interrogation he was sure he was about the receive.
When he walked through the front door, though, Hermione took one look at him and rushed over looking concerned. “Ron, what’s wrong?” she asked, peering up at him with a worried expression on her face. “Was it Mortlake’s leg? How badly damaged was it?”
Ron eagerly grasped at the excuse she was giving him. He’d always been a little queasy about things like that, something Hermione knew well, and it would certainly have been a valid reason for him to be a little out of sorts.
“Are you okay, Daddy?” came a small voice from the corner, and Ron looked down to see his daughter, Rose, coming towards him too.
“I’m fine, honey,” he told her, dropping to his knees so he could give her a comforting hug. “Daddy just had a bad day at work, that’s all.”
“Do you need your magic beans?” she asked.
Ron smiled. He often grabbed a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans as a pick-me-up when he was feeling down and had explained it to Rose as his magic beans that made him feel better. It had worked – Rose saw them as Daddy’s magic beans and never asked for one herself. “They’re Daddy’s,” she’d say if anyone offered her one. “He needs them.” It was incredibly endearing.
The guilt was still there, though, and it got worse as Hermione fussed over him, making sure he was comfortable and had nothing that might give him additional stress. He normally appreciated her efforts but this time he just felt horrible. If she knew what he’d really been doing, why he was really so quiet and withdrawn, she would have left him on the spot. And life without Hermione just didn’t bear thinking about.
The trouble was, Pansy didn’t just go away. And Ron couldn’t always stay away. He tried, certainly, and resisted a lot of her entreaties, but sometimes, when she got him at a low point or when he just needed some escapism, he agreed. It didn’t help that she was such a great shag, either – just another reason it was so hard to say no.
Pansy liked the encounters as well. She knew why Ron was so hesitant – he was scared of Hermione Granger, and if she was honest with herself she was too – but there was just so much fire between them that she couldn’t ignore it. And so she kept asking, and maybe once a month or so he would say yes. It was good for him, too, she could tell from his demeanour before and after the event. She was able to relax him at times when nothing else worked. Looking at it from one point of view, she reasoned with herself, she was doing him a favour, and extending that she was doing the Auror’s office a favour. No one wanted an Auror who hadn’t had a break from work in weeks, and his home life, with a three year old and a seventeen month old, wasn’t exactly stress-free. She was able to de-stress him and she was proud of that.
About six months after their initial encounter, though, she realised that something was different. With her, not with him. Her breasts were bursting out of her tops much more than they’d used to, and they were a lot more tender than usual as well. In addition, she had a nasty metallic taste in the back of her mouth, and she’d been getting tired very easily. She was sleeping for hours longer than she used to, and she was lethargic when she was awake. It put a bit of a strain on her professional life where her talents for interior design were becoming more and more sought-after, but she feigned exhaustion and people would generally forgive her. This gave her no guilt. If nothing else, she knew she’d be able to see Ron sometime soon. That always made her feel better.
A week or two later, though, she realised that she was late. Normally she would insist people use protective charms to prevent this very thing. Ron, however … with Ron she had never bothered. She didn’t even know why, except that she preferred it that way, and quite possibly he had all sorts of restrictions on him at home. Pansy didn’t think that Hermione Granger would skimp on contraception.
Bugger. That was putting it mildly. Pansy didn’t want children, didn’t want a family. Her life wasn’t that sort of life, and she enjoyed her freedom.
Part of her, though, was reconsidering that. Perhaps because it was Ron’s … there was something about Ron that she couldn’t let go of. She might even love him, in as much as she could love anyone. She certainly lived for their brief hours together, which were undoubtedly the highlight of each month.
So I’m carrying yet another Weasley. She smiled grimly. Everyone knew how prolific the Weasley clan were at breeding – not that the current generation had a lot of kids each, but each of the seven (she thought) had at least two, which made for a bucket-load of cousins. Almost all Weasleys, except for Harry Potter’s kids, and if they weren’t the great Potter’s then they’d be considered Weasleys as well. That family had had their own population boom since the war finished; there was no doubting their fertility.
And now I’m one of them. It was a strange feeling. She now understood the waves of nausea she’d been experiencing and why she’d been so tired. She knew, though, that she should get checked out professionally. Go to St Mungo’s and have it confirmed. Then she’d try to work out how she could break the news to Ron.