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Chapter 5 : Recriminations
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Ron looked at the ground. “I’m sorry.”
“You slept with another woman.” Hermione sounded like she couldn’t quite come to terms with it. “You broke our marriage vows. Why?”
“I don’t know.” It wasn’t anywhere near enough, he knew that, but he couldn’t really explain it. It had just happened, he’d lost control and it had all backfired. As he’d known it would, eventually.
Hermione sat down, her face in her hands and her shoulders shaking. “Are you going to tell me who?”
Ron mumbled the name. Somehow who the other woman was made it even worse.
“I didn’t hear you.”
He mumbled it again.
“Louder, Ron.” It was amazing how she could still sound like a schoolteacher when she wanted to. It was something that endeared her to him, showing him that, in essence, she hadn’t changed since they first started at Hogwarts all those years ago.
He felt terrible. If he could have avoided this confrontation altogether he would have, but there was no escaping it. Pansy was visibly pregnant with his child and it was bound to come out eventually, and he preferred that Hermione hear it from him than from anyone else. For some reason he’d thought she might take it better that way. He’d been wrong.
“Pansy Parkinson.” Finally he admitted it, said the name loud enough for her to hear it.
Hermione lifted her head and stared at him through her tears, disbelief on her face. “Pansy Parkinson???? How could you even LOOK at Pansy Parkinson? Ron, you know how much I hated her at school. How could you DO that?”
“Look, it’s not like that, she’s different now,” he protested, realising as he did so that defending his mistress’ character to his wife was probably not a wise move. “I know what she was like, Hermione,” he went on, this time less defensively. “She was a right bitch. But she’s not now. I know that doesn’t make it easier, but …” He let his voice trail off, hoping that Hermione would be able to get past a schoolyard grudge.
“I don’t care if she’s the Queen of bloody England now,” Hermione hissed. “Pansy Parkinson. Ron, how could you??”
Hermione never swore. Ron knew from this that she was hurting even more than she was letting on, that her whole world had been turned upside down. And it was all his fault.
“I know,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry, Hermione. I love you.”
She glared at him, her face tearstreaked and pale. “Then why did you do it? How can you love me and still do something like that?”
“I don’t know,” he said again, knowing it still wasn’t enough. “It just happened, Hermione. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Well, clearly not,” she hissed. “Pansy bloody Parkinson. You can’t have been thinking at all.”
Ron looked at the floor again, not knowing what to say. Maybe if he didn’t say anything this might blow over …
Yeah, right. Fat chance of that.
And he hadn’t even told her about the baby yet.
“I want you to leave.” Hermione’s voice was quiet but it carried anyway, probably because the room was so silent.
Ron looked up at her. “Leave?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding. “Go. Take your things and get the hell out of here. I don’t want to see you any more.”
He stared, not really taking it in. “Leave?”
“You heard me,” she said, her voice hard. “You obviously don’t really care about me or the kids, otherwise you’d never have done this. So there’s no reason for you to stay. Go. Go to her if you like, I don’t give a damn. Just get out.”
She obviously meant it, though Ron hoped more than anything that it might blow over by morning and she’d be willing to take him back. And how would she explain it to Rose and Hugo? His parents had them that night, which was one reason he’d chosen it to tell Hermione about his mistake, but they’d want to know where Daddy was when she went to get them the next day. What would she tell them? What would she tell his parents, for that matter?
He had to go. He knew that. Staying in the house with an angry Hermione wasn’t a recipe for making it through the night intact. He was already picturing the swarm of birds attacking him – she hadn’t used that spell on him since they were at school, but then again he hadn’t hurt her in that way since the war finished. Anything was possible now.
“I’ll go,” he said reluctantly, hoping once more that once she’d slept on it she’d see reason and be willing to talk to him again. But first he had to get the worst of it out of the way, and now seemed as good a time as any. “Oh, and one more thing about Pansy.” His voice was rough and he hated doing this to her, hurting her even more, but she had to know. Full disclosure was the only way to get through this now.
She looked up at him, her brown eyes narrow and reproachful. “What about Pansy?” she asked bitterly.
Ron walked to the door on the pretence of going to get some clothes, his back to his wife so he wouldn’t have to see her face when he told her this last bit of news. “She’s pregnant.”
“Ron, mate, what were you thinking?” Harry had pulled him into his office as soon as Monday morning came around, closing the door to give them some privacy.
“I wasn’t,” Ron muttered. “I know.”
“Look, I know she’s decent to look at, but honestly. Shagging her? Cheating on Hermione? Ron, I thought you were better than that.”
Ron looked up shamefacedly. “So did I,” he admitted. “I don’t know what came over me, Harry, really I don’t. It just happened.”
Harry shook his head. “Things like this don’t just happen,” he snapped. “You have to have been complicit in it somehow. Let’s face it, it’s not like you didn’t have a choice in the matter.”
“I just … I couldn’t help myself,” Ron said helplessly. “She was there and she wanted it and … well, I don’t know.” He looked at his friend. “Haven’t you ever been tempted?”
Harry snorted. “Of course I have,” he said dismissively. “I’m only human. But I know the difference between window shopping and actually trying out the goods, mate. You know the rules – look but don’t touch. I can do it, you can too.”
“I know.” Ron looked at the floor again. He seemed to be doing that a lot at the moment, like he didn’t deserve to see anything above knee-height. “I’m sorry.”
“I should hope so,” Harry said. “It’s not just Hermione you’ve hurt here, mate. Rose, Hugo, Gin, George, Percy, Charlie, Bill – and what about your mum and dad? They adore Hermione.” He shook his head. “Look, if you can fix this at all, you should be doing everything possible to do that. You’ve got – or you had – a damn good life. Don’t go stuffing it up now.”
“Believe me, I will,” Ron said with feeling. All he wanted was to have his wife talking to him again, being able to hold her like he used to. So what if she could be predictable? She was his wife and he loved her.
Harry just nodded, looking through narrowed eyes at him. “So where are you staying at the moment?” he asked after a moment. “I assume she kicked you out.”
“Of course she did,” Ron said quietly. “I’ve got a room at the Leaky Cauldron for now. Don’t want to look for anything permanent, not at the moment anyway. Maybe she’ll still take me back.”
Harry nodded again. “You didn’t move in with Pansy?”
Ron shook his head, aghast. “Mate, if I did that, there’s no way in hell that Hermione would even think about reconciling,” he pointed out. “Besides, I don’t want to live with Pansy. She’s nice and all, but …”
“Nice enough to have your child,” Harry said wryly. “Yeah, I get it. But not for anything permanent.”
Ron made a face. “If I could take it back,” he began.
Harry cut him off. “Take what back? The baby? Or this whole damn affair?”
Ron sank into his chair. “Everything,” he said honestly, fully aware of what it had all cost him. “Everything.”
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